Jul 27, 2010

My Orange County Crime Spree

National Championships left me feeling tired and flat so I sat out both Rim Nordic and San Marcos Grand Prix, one of my favorites. Instead, Trish and I drove out toward the coast to do some mountain bike riding in Orange County. That’s Orange County, California, of course. I wouldn’t be caught dead in Orange County, Florida. Actually, if I were in Orange County, Florida, I probably would be caught dead since the Sunshine State is crime-ridden. Just watch Dateline or 20/20. Nine our of 10 stories are about some murder or kidnapping in Florida. But, I digress. And, I probably shouldn’t be complaining about the miserable state of Florida right now. Especially since this blog is about the Golden State. Yesterday we discovered that it now costs 15 bucks to get into a California State Park. When did this happen? Not such a golden idea.

Our day started out with a ride at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in Trabuco Canyon. Although Whiting is not a state park, we still avoided the small parking fee by parking next to the Outback Steakhouse instead of the designated parking area. Sure, you run the risk of your car getting broken into by one of the Outback bus boys, but if you saw my car, you’d realize it’s not much of a risk. The ride itself was fairly successful, although some of the new trails that have been cut aren’t as good as the old ones I used to ride in ’98-2000. It did bring back good memories of riding with the Cycle News staffers, at the turn of the century. (I think that’s the first time I’ve ever referred to myself as being alive at the turn of a century. That makes me feel so sophisticated and worldly). Anyway, after doing a short loop, we hopped in our illegally parked car and headed to El Moro Canyon, which is in Crystal Cove State Park. It should be noted here that we traveled toll roads and actually paid the tolls on our way to our second stop.

Upon our arrival is when we realized the horror. It costs three Abe Lincolns for a day use pass and $125 for an annual pass to park in a California State Park! Further investigation on Trish’s smart phone (I refuse to name the brand) revealed that an annual pass for the National Parks will only cost you $80. That pass will get you into, oh , wonders of world such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, and a little placed called the Grand Canyon. Meanwhile, the hundred and a quarter California State Park annual pass will get you into places such as Patrick’s Point State Park, Lake Perris State Recreation Area, and Malibu Creek State Park. Where? No offense to Patrick, whoever he was and wherever his park is, but isn’t Malibu Creek State Park the same place that is contaminated with sewage every other week? And don’t get me started on Lake Perris. It may not be contaminated with sewage, but its waters and shores are laced with the trash of SoCal (and I mean that literally and figuratively).

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. That’s what I always say. Using her smart phone, Trish discovered that one can enter Crystal Cover State Park from its northern border where there is a small community park near the 73 Toll Road. So we did. And we rode El Moro Canyon. For free. Well, not free. It’s gonna cost us a set of Avid Juicy brake pads, but that’s an entirely different story altogether.

Our day of dodging California State Park entrance fees didn’t stop there. Oh no. We were like Bonnie and Clyde on this day. After wiping the free El Moro Canyon dirt off of our legs, arms, and faces, we drove south to Doheny State Beach where my mom and the Lanzas were “camping.” Instead of forking out the current amount of my Aetna health insurance co-pay (also a rip-off, if you ask me), we found bargain one-dollar-per-hour parking at the nearby Dana Point Harbor. A short bike ride into the state campground and we were feasting on dinner with a free ocean breeze blowing through our hair.

I’m no mathematician, accountant, or economist, but I figured that by not racing and by dodging inflated parking fees yesterday, I saved enough money to buy a National Parks Pass.

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