Escape to Lopez Lake

Gilda on Site 26, Lopez Lake Recreation Area

Gentle light welcomes my crusted sleepy eyes,
fluorescent-white clouds float in the topaz sky
like wind-fluffed sails lifted on blue ocean swells.

Lazy morning sun rays strike, then shimmer on
threads of pale green moss draped on a bent oak tree
like sparkling tinsel strands in a gala mood.

A red-topped woodpecker perches on a limb,
hammers out a Morse code of peck and hunting
for morsels beneath the thick, scabby brown bark.

Three hummingbirds pirouette above the trees,
another halts in midair in front of me
holding steady while I jerk in full surprise.

Cacophonous crows caw a call to gather
and begin an early morning camp survey
and scavenger-hunt for crumbs we left behind.

Blue feathers flash past me, to find perch nearby
a bluebird — as flighty and blue as the sky,
on a patch of seed heavy gold grass it lands.

A campfire crackles nearby and sends me warmth.
Brewing deep-roasted coffee perfumes the air,
signaling that day has begun.


Yes, I awoke from pleasant dreams on the highest campsite at Lopez Lake, just outside of Arroyo Grande, California. It was another near-staycation not far from home, but someplace Gilda and her drivers had yet to visit. It seemed like a good way to recoup from a nasty week of international and national news — you know spies, and Russians, and misspoken words — stuff I can’t fix.

Seeking peace and quiet?  Camp mid-week. Even in high-season.

This was a multilayered campout.

The perfect way to birdwatch above Lopez Lake.


The day prior I learned that I took 3 blue ribbon in the California Mid-State Fair photography contest. Who doesn’t love that kind of recognition?

However, cancer was layered into this week’s campout. For new readers, I’ve survived two bouts of cancer: Invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast in 2004 and uterine sarcoma this year. All of this totally sucks, and messes with me at great lengths, but I intend to carry on — even if today it looks like another bout of lymphedema, by the removal of 14 lymph nodes in my abdominal region has swollen my right leg up like an elephant’s foot. But that’s not what’s on my mind because I’m okay.

Two women with cancer dominate my thoughts: My young piano teacher just diagnosed with the exact kind of breast cancer I fought in 2004; and my long time friend from my newspaper days battles multiple myeloma.  It’s unfair for both of them — and for every person diagnosed with this nasty health issue who has deliberately been mindful of their health — as both these women have been.

After our camping breakfast, Spouse and I wandered our way down to Lopez Lake from our hilltop campsite. We passed young people bordering on hopelessly obese—not just overweight, but so large that they wore mini-tents. I don’t mean to mock their weight issues, God knows I continually deal with mine, but, I’ve yet to require a tent to cover me. The health issues ahead for these triple X sized young people is dreary. Both of my friends dealing with these dreadful cancer diagnosis are healthy and fit.

It makes no sense.

And it makes no sense that men of wealth and obscene egos want to dominate the planet and all that dwells here. It makes no sense that women (and men) who are good, mindful persons, face the bodily intrusions of cancer diagnosis and treatment. Thank goodness that a few blue ribbons gave me reason to smile.

Yes, it was time to go camping. It was time to break away from cell and internet connectivity.

As I nestled beneath California’s ancient oaks, echoes of happy, laughing people as they dove into cold waters, and as their boats pulled into dock, all helped me feel better about this world.  Wild turkeys meandered into camp and I howled in laughter. Beautiful birds fluttered about and the air smelled like toasted leaves on the mountainous soil. And I prayed for a night of peaceful sleep in Gilda’s womb as owls who-whoed through the night.  Hummingbirds greeted me in the morning.

Go, Gilda. Let’s go!

Turkeys gone wild: Click this link: Turkeys

What happened after hiking at Lopez Lake?  Click this link: Guys, Drink Your F-ing Water

About Lopez Lake

Lopez Lake is a San Luis Obispo Country reservoir and campsite (about 350 campsites). It’s just outside of the quaint town of Arroyo Grande. It’s family friendly with group campsites, play areas, a commercial waterslide operation, zip line, fishing, boating and plenty of hiking trails.

Campsites include primitive, 110 power outlets at some, potable water, full hook ups and cabins to rent. The marina has groceries and a grill. There’s canoe rentals and more.



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