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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

'No Vacancy' Sign Up Already at Campsites

Holidays: With the start of the three-day Memorial Day weekend still a day away, state park officials say there's no room.

May 28, 1999|MATT SURMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Ah, those first days of the summer season--time for fishing, relaxing and getting away from it all . . . along with everybody else.

With the start of the three-day Memorial Day weekend still a day away and skies looking cloudy and gray, state park officials say there is no room at campgrounds, after the usual stream of holiday campers began buzzing into Ventura County during the week.

At Rincon Parkway, where RVs were lined up as far as the eye could see, campers nudged into their spots as early as Tuesday to grab the prized first-come, first-served highway space along the beach.

Jim and Joyce Tucker so coveted a chance at a spot that they arrived Wednesday morning, opting to have Joyce commute to her job in Canyon Country.

"I'm driving back and forth to work to be at the beach for a few days," she said. "If the sun ever comes out, I'm going to enjoy it."

While clouds may keep the sun hidden, the county should dodge the rain forecasters expected only days ago, said Gary Ryan, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

Temperatures Saturday through Monday are expected to hit the high to mid-60s and low 70s at the beach, with readings 10 degrees higher inland.

"It's nothing good, nothing terrible," Ryan said. "Most people would rather have clouds and a little fog than rain."

Many area campsites have been booked for at least six months, while others are closed to campers. At McGrath State Beach, for instance, a large cluster of mushy campsites is out of commission because of water damage.

"The lake is new," said Jackie Nevins of Burbank, who with her family has been camping in the same area at McGrath for years. "We've never had a river going through the campgrounds before."

At Los Padres National Forest, several campgrounds and roads remain closed to monitor endangered species, and other roads are closed because of heavy storm damage.

Meanwhile, the California Highway Patrol in Ventura County promises a weekend of "maximum enforcement," with 75% of its officers on duty and patrolling the roadways and watching for speeders, tailgaters and drunk drivers, Officer Dave Cockrill said.

During last year's holiday weekend, the CHP arrested 31 people on suspicion of driving under the influence and filed reports on 11 injury accidents.

The CHP in Ventura County and the Santa Paula Police Department are planning a sobriety checkpoint in Santa Paula, but are keeping the location secret until just before it is set up.

Cockrill expected traffic to be heavy Friday and Monday afternoons, but thought Saturday and Sunday traffic would be much lighter.

Also, the Ventura County Fire Protection District reminded residents to be conscious of the arrival of fire season, in which thick brush could make a quick source for wildfire.

At the Rincon, several campers were looking for a little warmth of their own. Anita Hamilton of Escondido wrapped herself up in a sweater as she and her 6-year-old grandson, Sean, watched the ocean Thursday afternoon.

"We're just going to say our prayers tonight for some sunshine," she said.

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