Saturday, April 21 , 2018, 5:42 pm | Fair 70º


Captain’s Log: End of Year Camping

The old saying “the coast is clear” can take on more meaning than a go-ahead statement for a clandestine adventure. To camping enthusiasts, it is a statement of reasons to go camping in late December. There are numerous good reasons.

The coast is clear — of those pesky June gloom clouds we seem to have for a few months out of the year. December is typically tranquil, with the exception of an occasional storm system. December is our quietest time in terms of strong winds, except for the infamous santana (aka santa ana) offshore winds.

The fire season is over this year, thanks to some recent rains, and maybe we can head to some mountain campgrounds that weren’t open earlier. Heavy jackets and thick sleeping bags are necessities, because nights and mornings are chilly in December. During the middle of day, folks are often comfortable in T-shirts or bathing suits.

The coast is clear — of hordes of tourists and campers. I don’t mean to badmouth tourists, because we depend upon them for our local economic survival, and also because every time we visit another town, we take our turns at being the tourists. But it sure is nice to find a quiet campground.

The coast is clear — of local campers, because camping just isn’t a major pastime in December. It should be. The campgrounds are just as beautiful in December as they are in the summer, and the crowds are way down.

Those are good reasons why a camping trip is a better relaxation remedy now than it was during the summer.

There is something luxuriously relaxing about a campground with only a handful of spots taken. Each party has room to spread out and not worry about the social issues involved with having neighbors just a few yards away in the next campsite.

Also, the recreational facilities available at a given campsite are equally uncrowded and readily available.

A camping trip may just be the perfect way to surprise the family or romantic significant other. It can be a delightful break from the high-stress tasks of preparing for or making it through the holidays. A little relaxation can go a very long way.

The coast is clear, for choosing a campground on the waterfront. It might even be possible to get in at Refugio — the all-time favorite campground of many campers.

Lake campgrounds, such as Cachuma and Casitas, are gorgeous places and feature plenty of wildlife viewing, as well as fun fishing options even with low water levels.

Mountain campgrounds can be quiet and inviting places in December, but it is wise to check with the National Forest Service about closures, before making a substantial drive.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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