Of Spiders & Lizards in SoCal

Spiders, Lizards, and Great Views: Sweetwater Summit Regional Park, California. www.marianamcdougall.com. Photo of playground.

We’re really enjoying it here at Sweetwater Summit Regional Park, and want to stay an extra night. So I call the gate and ask if there are any sites available. The ranger says there is one left, but I’ll have to come to the gate to register for it, because there are too many cars coming in and he can’t be on the phone. I say OK.



Affordable Camping in Southern California: Sweetwater Summit Regional Park, www.marianamcdougall.com.


I have some work to finish, so I take 40 minutes to do that, and then grab my cane and make my way to the front gate. I could use a walk, since I haven’t done much of that since injuring my toes and ankle.

I purchased a cane after injuring my ankle, because walking was proving difficult on two bad feet. The cane helps. But here’s the thing… putting weight on the cane dislocates my wrist. So every few minutes I have to stop and push my wrist bones back into place, and it’s getting old real fast… I’m frustrated and irritated, and I just want to walk normally and ditch this stick, but I keep going.

I finally arrive at the gate after a very slow walk. When I get there, a woman in a pickup truck is asking for site 25—the same site the man at the gate had told me was available. She says she’s going to take the site. A man starts walking towards the gate. Turns out he’d been waiting to decide if he was going to take the site, and all three of us want it.

I tell the man at the gate that I had phoned and said I was taking the site, and he laughs and says all three of us want it, and I tell him I said I was going to be booking it. He responds by saying that “I never showed up.” I answer that that’s why I had wanted to book over the phone, because walking takes a while for me. To which he responds by pointing at the line of backed up cars at the gate.

I respond that “we’re not gonna fight over it,” and give up on the site, but I’m pretty upset. I always end up giving in when I’m faced with situations like this, because I’d rather not start a fight. So I climb back up the hill on two sore feet, and head to the bathroom, because sometimes, when you’ve been fighting physical pain for days on end, all it takes is a little upset for you to feel the need for a good cry.

And as I sit on the washroom floor, trying to recompose myself, something jumps onto my foot. I shake it off, and it turns out it’s a spider. I look at it for a while, and watch it climb the shower wall. I actually love spiders (but prefer them not to climb on me, thank you very much), so this actually brightens my day. This spider is super cool and has a design on its back. If you know what kind of spider this is, I’d love to know!




Despite the odd customer service (or lack thereof) at the front gate, Sweetwater Summit Regional Park was definitely worth staying in. The area is absolutely gorgeous, and despite the frequent airplanes flying overhead, it’s quiet enough. 


Sweetwater Summit Regional Park


There’s a nice little playground for the kids directly across a community building that can be rented out for functions. The showers are nice, but it’s a government-owned spot in California, so you bet you’re going to be paying for your water. But hey, at .25 for 5 minutes, I think it’s fair.


Playground at Sweetwater Summit Regional Park. Climbing wall visible.


Garden in front of Sweetwater Summit Regional Park Community Building.


Some of the park workers were really nice. The rangers who came to clean the community building found a lizard who had wandered in. Before putting him back outside, they showed the children the small lizard, which delighted them, and was an interesting experience for everyone. It also gave me another opportunity for the “can you spot it?” photos I like to post on social media once in a while:




We did enjoy the beautiful weather and the gorgeous view, and it was really too bad that we were unable to get another night. But all was not lost!


View of Sweetwater Summit from campsite


It was supposed to rain most of the day when we left the campground, so as we left, Dan asked the ranger at the gate if anyone had cancelled their stay, and she said, “not yet.” 

We headed to the Bonita-Sunnyside Library so the kids could read some books and I could get some work done.


Father reading to his three children around a table in a library. They are surrounded by bookshelves.


Shortly after we arrived at the library, we got a phone call—someone had cancelled their reservation, so we booked another night, and we were able to return to Sweetwater. Yay!

We enjoyed our stay in this area, and it’s a place we recommend checking out if you’re around San Diego. Considering the location, the price for an overnight stay is very reasonable: As of this writing, US$33 per night for a full hook-up site in a beautiful area of Southern California. It’s not steps to the beach, but if you’re willing to drive into San Diego, it’s totally worth staying here.


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