Adventures in the Villa


Campground Review

2017-12-29 to 2018-01-02 New Years Weekend in Palm Desert

It’s been a long time since I have written our Blog, and there has been a lot of water over the bridge since you last heard from us.  Over the next few Blogs I will try to get us caught up on how our year has been going…

We packed up the truck and picked up the Villa from its storage space and set out for Palm Desert.  Emerald Desert RV Resort is one of our favorite places to camp and, this trip, it didn’t disappoint.  We were assigned to a nice grassy site with a clean concrete pad.  First order of the day was to get the Villa a bath – after sitting for a month with dry, dusty air and Santa Ana winds blowing it was filthy!Indian Wells RV Detailing told us they could wash the Villa the next day.


We spent a lot of time walking around the park, to get our daily exercises in…


We spent a lovely weekend with our friends, Doug and Lorraine Wilson, visiting most days in their condo in Palm Desert. We also met up with Rob, our favorite Palm Springs Realtor, for a quick lunch…


We even had time for a picture of ourselves!

It was a fun, relaxing weekend and a great way to begin the year – good friends, football, wine, and warm sunny weather – just what New Years Day is all about!

An enjoyable time was had by all…
























Campground Review – San Clemente State Beach

San Clemente State Beach features rugged sandstone cliffs towering silently above the beach.  The campground sits atop the bluffs, offering spacious sites and spectacular views. As a personal note, my family began camping here in 1956, and we have camped here well over 100 times; it is one of our long time favorites, where we have celebrated births, weddings, graduations, birthdays, and numerous other occasions with family and like-minded friends.

The park was dedicated in 1933 on 100 acres of land purchased from H.H. Cotton, one of the founders of the City of San Clemente. (H.H. Cotton also built his home on a nearby bluff overlooking the ocean, which became the Western White House in the 1960s and 1970 whilst Richard Nixon was in residence…) The facilities at the park were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) between 1934 and 1937. Some of their signature rustic stonework is still in evidence around the park. The Visitor’s Center is a Spanish Colonial adobe cottage, recently restored as an events venue. (During the 1950s and 1960s the cottage was a residence for lifeguards and other park employees…)

The  Campground consists of 160 campsites, all  with picnic tables and fire rings. 72 are designated as RV and trailer sites, and feature water, electricity (30 and 50 amp), and sewer connections; there is also a sewer dump station on-site; 88 sites are “dry” camping, for tents, vans and small trailers and RVs; There are several restroom and shower buildings with pay showers. Restrooms and showers are well maintained, although they vary greatly in age.

The campground is located at the south end of the City of San Clemente.  The entrance to the campground is accessed just off the Calafia exit from the 5 freeway (Interstate 5).  There is a beach-front trail that follows the railroad tracks about 1 1/2 miles to the San Clemente Pier, and it continues about another mile to the Metrolink Station. There is also a Metrolink and Amtrak stop at the pier, but is it served only by a few trains each day.  The pier area also offers several restaurants, both on the pier and on the adjacent street; our favorite spot for a quick bite and morning coffee is Bear Coast Coffee. The Pier is located at the foot of Del Mar Avenue; “Downtown” San Clemente is about 1/2 mile up Del Mar.

The best features of this campground are the large, pull-through RV sites.  Site #31-53 (odd only) are the largest RV sites, and #57-72 are the smallest (#72 is VERY small…), but most offer ocean and sunset views down through the canyon. (We call sites #57-72 the “new” sites; they were added in the late 1960s…) All other sites are more than adequate for a large RV or trailer plus 2 cars, the maximum allowed.  Many sites, especially site #20-56, offer room for pitching tents as well.

The “dry” campsites are very spacious, and most are well spaced away from others. Each site features paved parking stalls for 2 vehicles, plus a picnic table and ramada. Water is available nearby. Sites #82-83 are right on the bluff-top, are very large, and are perfect for friends camping together. Note that Sites #82, 83, 85, 88, and 89 are directly on the edge of the bluff; while there is a fence (added in the 1980s), these sites might not be a good choice for families with small children.

San Clemente 10

The beach…


San Clemente 2San Clemente 1

More Beach…


Pier Bowl


San Clemente 12

Nice place to relax…


San Clemente 17

Restrooms and Showers…



Typical street scene…


San Clemente 5

Large, pull-through campsites…


Reserve early: For weekend year around, or anytime in the summer, you must reserve at EXACTLY 8:00 am on the first day of the 6th month prior – For August reservations, be online at 7:45 am on February 1!



Campground Review – Crystal Cove State Park – El Moro Campground

Crystal Cove State Park features 3.2 miles of Pacific coastline and over 2,400 acres of open space, including wooded canyons, open bluffs, and off-shore waters designated as an underwater park. Visitors can enjoy the Historic District (1930s era cottages now restored and used as vacation rentals), the beach, the back country, and activities such as swimming, surfing, sunbathing, scuba and skin diving, fishing, mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding.

The El Moro Campground consists of 58 campsites with picnic tables. 28 are designated as RV and trailer sites, and feature water and electricity (30 and 50 amp); there is a sewer dump station on-site; 30 sites are “dry” camping, for tents, vans and small trailers and RVs; maximum RV length in the RV sites is 38′, and 25′ in the dry sites. There are two restroom and shower buildings with pay showers. Restrooms and showers are well maintained.  The entrance to the campground is accessed by driving behind the El Morro School off Coast Highway.

The best features of this campground are the ocean views and the proximity to the beach, shops, and restaurants.  The park is located mid-way between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, and it is directly adjacent (10 minute walk) to The Crystal Cove shopping center, which features Trader Joes, Starbucks, The Gap, many restaurants, and several other shops.  The beach is a 1/2 mile walk down a (steep) hill (you can drive and park if you like…) and there is a tunnel beneath Coast Highway to access the beach. There is also a snack bar (open only during the summer) and plenty of day use parking with picnic tables and shade ramadas. Two more restaurants are located in the Historic District, about 1 1/2 miles up the coast: the beach-front Beachcomber and the bluff top Shake Shack.

The campsites are large, and every one has an ocean view, due to the terraced hillside streets.  My recommendation for conventional trailers and RVs (with bedroom or bathroom at the rear) are site #13-21, 21 being on the end with unobstructed views from the ocean to the hills. These sites are angled so that the best views are seen adjacent to the side of the trailer or RV.  However, for trailers and RVs with rear living areas, site #2-12 and 22-30 are better. The the parking areas at these sites are situated such that the windows in your rear living room  has a full on view to the ocean.



Rules:  There are many!  No check-in before 3:00 pm.  No wood fires or charcoal BBQs. Propane fire pits and BBQs are OK.  No more than 2 cars allowed to park on the site, in addition to your RV.  Day use closes at sunset!  No day use cars parked at the RV sites.  Pro tip: If you have friends coming to visit for the day, and you have parking space at your site, tell them to get an overnight pass for your site. It costs the same as a day-use ticket ($15.00), but they can then park at your site and they can stay later than sunset…

Overall, this is a great campground for those who enjoy “urban camping”. Easy to get to, no worry if you forget something, plenty of things to do… No bugs, moderate temperatures (it does get cold after dark…), and plenty of ocean, where ever you go…

Reservations:  Reservations open at 8:00 am, on the 1st of the month, six months before you camp. RV and trailer sites fill up within seconds for summer s and holiday weekends; fall and spring weekends might be available for 2-3 minutes after 8:00 am.  It’s a competition!  Be prepared, log on early, and hit “reserve” exactly at 8:00 am!


Philip Terhorst








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