May 19, 2018
The next day we went back to REI so Ghosthiker could pick out a new tent. She was tired of wrestling with her current tent every time the wind got too strong and wanted something freestanding like mine. She and Sparky both ended up getting new tents.
We were going to head straight north to Idyllwild, but when we heard Sparky had never set foot in the Pacific Ocean, we couldn’t resist taking a detour. We were already so close that it only took about 15 minutes to get down to Pacific Beach, where we spent a lovely afternoon cruising the boardwalk and putting our toes in the ocean. Once we’d made the decision to go to Pacific Beach, Sparky told us about Slomo, a Pacific Beach legend. Once a very successful neurologist, he suffered a gunshot wound to the head and spent several years on the rough side of recovery. Now he has found peace and healing by cruising the Pacific Beach boardwalk on a pair of rollerblades every single day for the last 20 years.
Sparky is a huge fan of Slomo and was really hoping to see him during our jaunt along the boardwalk. We walked up and down it for a while, stopping at an open-air restaurant for a pint and some people-watching, and then walked around some more. We didn’t see him, so we decided to head back to the car. Ghosthiker and I ducked into a little gift shop first to pick up some Pacific Beach stickers to decorate our bear cans, and when we came out Sparky looked like he was walking on clouds.
“You’ll never believe who I just saw!”
Apparently, Slomo had come around the bend just as we’d entered the shop and had stopped to chat when Sparky greeted him. Unfortunately, he hadn’t stayed long enough for Ghosthiker or I to meet him, so we couldn’t help teasing Sparky about it, saying surely he was just pulling our legs and Slomo never actually appeared. Then someone standing nearby corroborated Sparky’s story. We were disappointed we didn’t get to see the famous Slomo, but we were glad Sparky did.
After we left Pacific Beach we stopped briefly at the New Balance store so I could return the shoes I’d purchased. I felt bad, but I had the Oboz now and didn’t need two pair of shoes. Then we headed to Idyllwild, where we went straight to the Mt. San Jacinto Campground for the night.
It must have been a weekend because the campground was almost full, mostly with families and large groups with campers and cars. Because we had a car, we didn’t qualify for the backpacker camping area and had to pay for a normal campsite, but that was OK. It was closer to the bathrooms anyway, even if it was also close to a very noisy family. It was a luxuriously maintained spot and offered a nice chance for Sparky and Ghosthiker to try out their new tents. But now that I’ve experienced what it’s like to camp in the peaceful, quiet wilderness, I can’t see much appeal in camping at a campground like this for fun unless you’re a huge group and want to get little to no sleep. It was quite noisy.
Tomorrow we would be tackling the section we’d all skipped outside of Paradise Valley Cafe, the 20 mile stretch from Hwy 74 to the fire closure and then down Spitler Peak Trail to the road.