There’s so much to say about our visit to Paicines that it’s difficult to know where to start! Maybe starting with what I’ve already written will get me going.
There was an amazing amount of wildlife in Paicines and especially at our campground. We saw plenty of deer and birds every day as well as bobcats and a fox. Our article, Foxes, Bobcats and Wildlife Galore talks all about the awesome birds and animals we were able to see in the area.
Plants and Trees
For those of us that love the flora as well, I wrote an edible/medicinal article about Acorns, Willow, and Ice Plant and there’s plenty of other plants and trees including elder, coyote brush, alkali mallow, Jimson weed, and more. I should have an article about elder’s medicinal uses along with one or two recipes coming up soon.
The views in our campground and around Paicines were amazing! There’s low hills all around, and the sky was so clear that the stars and Moon were out in full glory! Sunsets were gorgeous, especially when CalFire decided to do a controlled burn on the other side of the hills.
In the local area, these hills are everywhere with oak trees and farmhouses dotting the landscape farther out and vineyards with their leaves just starting to change color guiding you into town. I wrote a poem about one of those lone oak trees that you can read here if you’re into that kind of thing. 😉
There are four towns of note in the area, all of which are north-northwest of the San Benito Thousand Trails. As you head away from the campground, they get bigger and provide more services and stores.
Paicines is the closest town to San Benito Thousand Trails (just under 6 miles), and the smallest of the four nearby towns. There’s a post office and a general/country store, and that’s about it. It’s definitely one of those “blink and you’ll miss it” towns.
Tres Pinos is the next closest town – just under 11 miles from the campground. There are three restaurants in Tres Pinos and an Inn (which houses one of the restaurants.) They also have a country store and a post office that seem to be a little bit larger than the ones in Paicines. The businesses are all along about a three-block length of the highway.
Hollister is about 18 miles from San Benito Thousand Trails and is a decent-sized town. Chelsea got her hair cut here when she was visiting and the stylist did a great job. There’s a Walgreens, Target, and a couple of grocery stores as well as several restaurants. We happened to go into town on Halloween and discovered a huge block party! The local VFW put it on and they closed about three blocks on their main street downtown. There were hundreds of costumed kids and parents getting candy from the shops, a host rattling off raffle numbers and keeping the party going, and a DJ. It was a lot of fun to watch!
Gilroy is about 33 miles from the campground and is the largest town. It has all your usual big box stores and many restaurants. It’s also known as the ‘Garlic Capital of the World’. I wouldn’t be surprised if they really are as the lovely smell of garlic pervaded the outer areas, making my tummy rumble. We had to try the Garlic City Café, of course, and it did not disappoint! It’s your basic café, but the food was amazing! I ordered just a plain old French dip sandwich, but the bread was baked with garlic in it then spread with garlic butter. It was so good! Brian had garlic soup, which was awesome! Gilroy also has an amusement park called Gilroy Gardens. We didn’t get the chance to go there, but it looked pretty amazing. If you have kids, you might want to check it out when you’re in the area.
San Benito Thousand Trails
We stayed at the San Benito RV and Camping Resort, which is a Thousand Trails park. It’s a huge park with decent to excellent space between the spots, depending on which one you use, and surrounded by low hills. They have your typical family and adult pools, a large lodge that even has a small café with limited hours. Of course, they have laundry and public restrooms with showers plus a great general store. The staff were all friendly and knowledgeable about the wildlife.
A special note about mail. Amazon won’t deliver to the campground because it apparently doesn’t use UPS anymore (at least in that area), so you need to have your packages delivered to the Paicines Post Office. Even if you mistakenly have your order sent to the campground (like I did), Amazon will still only deliver it to the Paicines Post Office. The nearest Amazon locker is in Hollister. USPS mail and any other company delivering via UPS or FedEx will deliver to San Benito Thousand Trails.
We knew we were very close to the San Andreas Fault there but didn’t think much of it. I mean, there are faults all over the coast and the San Andreas Fault itself goes from north of San Francisco to Palm Springs. We’ve been near it on and off since we hit Petaluma and it’s not like you get earthquakes you can feel every day. But…we were woken up one morning to some rockin’ and rollin’. Okay, really, just some strong jostling? If you’ve ever been in an earthquake, you’ll know what I mean when I say it was “just” a 4.1. I wasn’t even sure what was going on because I’d gotten so used to the motion of the RV when Brian’s walking around. In my half-asleep brain, I couldn’t figure out what Brian was doing to make it move so much. I believe I said “What the heck?!” When Brian said it was an earthquake, I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep; but the cats wouldn’t let me and then the aftershocks started, so I was up for the day. The cats seemed to be okay, maybe a little on edge for that 24 hours. The initial quake was at 6:30 AM so they were only bothering me for food. “Oh! You’re awake? Great! Feed us!” Really, the initial quake was probably no worse than driving the RV over rough road or a few speed bumps in a row. It was over fairly quickly, though we had aftershocks in the 3.0 to 3.5 range for about 24 hours. They were close and shallow, so we felt them but were more annoyed than disturbed. They felt more like when we run our washing machine in the RV. 😉
San Benito Thousand Trails really is a great campground in a beautiful area. Brian and I wish we could have spent more time there for so many reasons, but we had people to see and new place to explore!
That’s all for today, friends. Be groovy and remember to live your journey…