Julian is a small mountain town in San Diego County known for its pie and apple cider (which both live up to the hype). It's near the Pacific Crest Trail and you will occasionally see hikers taking a break to fill up on a slice of apple pie. Having grown up in Coronado, my family and I would take trips up there all the time, so this felt like it would be a great destination for the first day trip in my van.
There are lots of nice hikes around Julian, including Stonewall Peak and Three Sisters Falls, both of which are fairly easy and can be done in an afternoon. Many of the trails around Julian are, however, closed due to COVID-19. I took this trip to Julian in mid-May and was pleasantly surprised to see that nearly everyone up there was wearing a mask and most seemed to be social distancing.
If you're thinking about hitting the road in your own camper, taking it on a few day trips before you go on a long journey can be pretty helpful. For me, this short trip helped me learn several things about my vehicle.
For starters, driving the Eurovan up windy mountain roads was a great experience. It helped me get used to taking a large vehicle on sharp turns and I had to ensure that I didn't push the engine too hard.
I also got to see what rattles in the back when it drives, and had to tie down certain items so they wouldn't make noise. This trip convinced me not to take any glass or ceramic items on my trip, as they would almost certainly break if the van went over a speed bump.
Taking the hour and fifteen minute drive from San Diego to Julian, I realized that I needed a way to play my music or listen to a podcast, as the van doesn't have an aux port. To remedy this problem, I purchased a bluetooth FM transmitter through Amazon. These transmitters are pretty simple, all you have to do is plug it into the cigarette lighter and tune it to a station. Then you tune your car's radio to the same station and you can play audio from your phone over the car's radio.
While I was up near Julian I parked the van under a tree, set up the pop top and tables, and had lunch. I was surprised with the amount of airflow that came in with the pop top open. Even though it was fairly hot outside the van felt nice and cool.
This was just a small day trip, but it helped me learn so much about my van. Until I take off on my first long journey, I'll be taking more small trips like this one to continue working things out and organizing my vehicle.