Hikes, Bikes, Snakes, Shakes and a Rabbit Cabal …

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Post by Jim

That pretty much sums up our latest 3-night, 2-day return trip to Crystal Cove State Park in May. We really like this place, despite the fact it’s a little pricey. The only reason we got to go to Crystal Cove this time is because someone cancelled his or her reservation and my wife happened to be on the booking site. It’s hard to reserve a site here, especially on weekends and holidays. Our campsite, #18, was on a bluff with a great view of the ocean. We got lots of exercise and I lost weight! Well, I really don’t know that because I didn’t weigh myself, but that’s the story I’m stickin’ with.



Our first full day was pretty much consumed with a long hike in the backcountry part of the park. After a nice breakfast of muffins, fresh fruit and cheeses (oh yes, and lots of strong French press coffee) we laced up our hiking boots, unfolded our hiking sticks and set off.

We started our hike at the trailhead near the ranger station/visitor center. The majority of the hike was on moderately strenuous or strenuous rated trails. There were lots of steep hills that made us glad we had walking sticks, beautiful views of mountains, valleys, the ocean plus an abundance of wildflowers blooming. The temperature was in the mid 60’s with an overcast sky, so all was good. We took a lot of pictures. I had trouble picking just a few for the blog so I didn’t, I chose many of them. I’m not a botanist and since I’m lazy I’m not looking up the flower species for the photo captions. I’ll name the ones my wife and I know. If you recognize any I missed, please let us know in a blog comment. Following is a slideshow of too many hiking pictures, but hey, it’s our blog so here goes:

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This fairly large gopher snake, I estimate 4’ or so, greeted us on a strenuous segment of trail. We checked each other out for some time until the snake got bored and casually slithered off into the brush. There were posted rattlesnake warnings, but we didn’t see one of those.

We also saw rabbits, lots of lizards and many birds along the way. Some of them were nice enough to let us snap a picture. Not the birds though, they didn’t co-operate at all. I also included a picture of a really annoying ground squirrel that tried to raid our campsite over and over. One time, it scampered over my foot to get under my chair. I thought it might bite me on the, you know, through the canvas.

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Picking Up Someone Else’s Mess

A little side note about what we see wherever we hike. Some folks have absolutely no respect for the environment or the enjoyment of others. My wife, who is a much better person than me, stopped several times to pick up trash people just couldn’t carry any farther. Things like empty water bottles, plastic cups and food wrappers. I think she filled up 2 plastic bags. She used her walking sticks, like chop sticks, to pick up most of the trash. Please don’t be one of the inconsiderate jerks that leave trash behind.

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Campsite Sunset

Four or five hours later (I forget which), we got back to the campground and we were beat. We immediately got adult beverages and vegetated in chairs outside looking at the ocean and sunset. I’m not sure I moved much except when I went to eat dinner. My pedometer registered over 22,000 steps for the hike.

The next day (our last full day), we rode our bikes on a paved bike path that parallels the ocean and Pacific Coast Highway on a bluff. The fresh ocean air, gorgeous views and surprisingly few people on the path made for an enjoyable ride. There are some pretty good sized hills so we were glad we have a lot of gears on our bikes to deal with them.

A little more than halfway back on the bike path is a Ruby’s Diner. You can turn into the parking lot off the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) if you are driving, but good luck finding a parking spot. We always stop here, on the way back, when we bike along this part of the coast. They make killer malts, which are not that easy to find anymore. We ordered our malts and some fries to go with. I got chili cheese fries and my wife, the martyr, got sweet potato fries. My wife loves regular potato fries and basically ravaged mine leaving her sweet potato fries almost untouched. The sacrifices I make are endless. Oh yes, I don’t believe the picture of “Ruby” on the malt cups. If she eats the food she sells, there is no way she’s lookin’ like that!

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Ruby’s Diner
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Malts and Fries

We enjoyed our “snacks” at Ruby’s while sitting on a bluff overlooking the Crystal Cove Historic District on the beach below. Down there is a nice restaurant, souvenir shops and beach cottages you can rent for overnight stays. The beach is nice too, if you just want to hang out and relax.

From Ruby’s, the first thing we encounter on the bike path on our way back is a steep hill. Being full of malts and fries, we didn’t make it up. We got off the bikes and walked them up the hill. Of course I could have made it but I got off and walked up the hill to keep my wife company.

After loading the bikes in the back of the truck, we pulled into a parking lot a little ways up PCH. From here, we hiked a short distance to the Crystal Cove Historic District on the beach. I think we were looking for a Crystal Cove State Park magnet. We like to collect park magnets and stick them somewhere on the inside of our Airstream to remind us of where we’ve been. I don’t remember how that started, but I’m sure it had to be my wife’s idea. Well, there weren’t any park magnets so we just strolled around enjoying the ocean views and took some pictures of the historic district.

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We returned to our truck a short time later and drove to a mysterious rabbit cabal gathering to participate in some unspeakable rituals. Here is a picture of me being swept up in the frenzy …

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There is a park next to Newport Beach City Hall, not far from Crystal Cove, that has several permanent sculptures you can walk around. The circle of rabbits is one of them. There are also painted cows, a bug sculpture made out of old car parts and some impressionistic sculptures that are … I don’t know what they are so I didn’t take any pictures of them. I was an art major and even I didn’t care for them. Click to enlarge the pictures if you want a closer look.

We have driven past this place many times and wondered about the rabbits. On this trip we were determined to find out about them and thus our little side trip. It’s not a warm park at all. The grounds are overly manicured and everything is way too clean. It has the feel of walking into someone’s house that has plastic on the furniture and everything is delicate so you don’t want to touch or accidentally bump stuff, and everything is squeaky clean in a specific place. There were no kids in the park. Anyway, now we know about the rabbits and probably won’t return.

This was a nice trip to Crystal Cove. We got a lot of exercise hiking and biking, saw some wildlife, had great views of the ocean from our campsite (which was very clean by the way) and took an interesting side trip to see the rabbits.

As we were about to leave for home, I saw this little guy on our truck tire:

It’s a “walking stick”, a member of the Phasmatodea order of insects. After my wife and I looked at it for a while, I moved it into the brush so it could go about its business. It’s future wasn’t promising on the truck tire.

This is a list of our next three outings, which we are really looking forward to: Barton Flats in the San Bernardino National Forest; Laguna Campground in the Cleveland National Forest; the “big one” to Rigby Idaho for the solar eclipse that’ll include camping trips to Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve and ends with Bryce Canyon National Park. If you are at some of these places and see us, don’t be shy, say “hi!” …

Safe travels to you all!

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