A weak signal, but it’s the first time I’ve been able to connect to the Internet. Hallelujah! I’m just going to paste what I’ve written the last few days. I know NaBloPoMo is supposed to be posting every day, but I’m going to allow myself this exception. I’ve written a post every day but not had the tools to get them posted. So here they are in all their glory. I’ll try to post pictures from our trip soon.
Wouldn’t you know it? It’s day 6 of NaBloPoMo and I’m already unable to make a blog post. I realize that it’s already going to be pretty challenging to post every day while I’m on the road. I can post from my handy dandy iPhone, as long as I have 3G, but our first campsite, Leo Carrillo State Park, has no phone or internet, not even 3G. Normally it would be my own laziness to prevent me from posting, but alas, today the forces are against me.
I’ll post this, though, the first chance I have access to wi-fi. Or, today I took a few pics to share, so I’ll at least get those up.
Anyways, so we’re on the road again. Last time it was a 3 month journey full of lots and lots of camper problems. It’s bound to happen, I suppose, when your RV is 25 years old. Yes, it’s a 1985 Coachmen. Since the trip our Coachie has been fixed up a little. And when I say a little, I really mean a LOT. She’s had an entire facelift. And engine lift. She’s had more money put into her than she’s worth.
The last time we were on a trip in this baby we had a full-grown Lab with us. A dog really brings a whole sense of joy to a road trip. He spent the majority of the time stretched across my lap, slobbering on my legs, and keeping me warm…even across Texas where the temperature actually topped 115.
This time we have a whole new source of joy. Kodi died a year and a half ago, but this time we have Maysen with us. I can’t say she loves the ride as much as Kodi did, but it’s great to look back at her strapped into the captain’s chair, requesting her favorite “la-la”, and asking the ocean where it is. There are so many sources of joy to be tapped into on a road trip. Perhaps I’ll go into it a little more tomorrow, but for now, I need to cozy under my covers. It’s friggin’ cold here tonight.
I’m sitting in a Wal-Mart parking lot with a dead battery. Maysen is strapped into her car seat using the last drop of my battery to watch home movies on the iPhone. She’s actually watching “cookie time” over and over again because it seems to be her favorite. We’re in Arroyo Grande, it’s dark, and we’re yet to get to our camp site. The problem with doing a trip like this in January, besides the fact that it gets very, very chilly at night, is that the day ends right around 5:30pm, well before we’re settled in camp and ready for the sun to go down. Last night was so cold, and I was up all night. Miraculously, May slept the whole night through. (I gotta get me some of those fleece jammies with the feet in them!) All we’ve really done is hung out today. Nothing spectacular. We were going to check out the tidepools at Leo Carrillo, but Ronny didn’t see how to maneuver the camper…
…It’s several hours later. I think I wrote that around 7pm and it’s now 12:28 am.
What a friggin’ hassle! So, remember I said that I was sitting there with a dead battery? Well, after our battery charger thing wouldn’t work we flagged down a guy in a pickup for a jump. No dice. I called AAA. They said they’d have a guy to me within 45 minutes. Then Ronny actually went in to Wal-Mart and bought a brand new battery. Still no dice, so we figured it must not be the battery. Ronny’s thinking it’s the starter so he’s under the camper banging on stuff, getting all greasy and sweaty, and asking me to turn the key every now and then. He started to get so frustrated, and suddenly memories of our last RV trip came back to me. Oh, crappy crap. Here we go again with Mr. Grumpy McGrumperton.
After an hour and 15 minutes, I called AAA back to ask what the heck was going on. Apparently the guy who was supposed to come help us got off of work and forgot to tell the other guy, so the other guy just got the call. We had planned to take a cab to the Hampton Inn and have my parents come and pick us up tomorrow, and we were about to just leave the camper there for good.
But suddenly, just as the AAA guy FINALLY showed up, TWO HOURS into this whole ordeal, it dawned on Ronny that I might not have put the camper in Park correctly. Bingo. He pulled it into gear then back into park and the beast lit up like a charm. What a sense of relief, of course, but also so frustrating to think it was something so simple.
Apparently, because this RV was born in 1985, it’s got loose gears. So you can’t simply put it in Park like you would with any other automatic transmission. Evidently you have to actually jam it into park. Nobody ever told me this and there’s no sign indicating anything about this little idiosyncrasy. Luckily the batteries on the iPad lasted through the whole ordeal and kept Maysie busy busy busy for the entire two hours.
We finally pulled into the Oceano Campgrounds in Pismo Beach around 10:00pm. Maysie and I built a fort, read the Hug book that she’s obsessed with right now, and played blocks until I rocked her and sang her “la-la” before she finally went down about 11:00. So now, an hour and a half later, after having sat by the fire with hubby, finally relaxing, it’s time for Mommy to go to bed. Still no internet, so still no posts, but at least I’m here, right?
Wow. What a great day it was today. After last night’s near debacle today came with a renewed sense of hope and excitement for the day. We had a nice cuddly morning with Maysie, then we got up, had a light breakfast, fed the most enormous geese I’ve ever seen (I was actually a little afraid of them!) and then we got on our way. I had 3G for a while at the campsite so I was able to find a good spot in Big Sur to head toward. Only about 130 miles north, it seemed like a great destination. I said all I care about is that we get to our destination no later than 4pm. It sucks getting there after dark. The drive up the coast is spectacular, though terribly windy and narrow in spots for the RV. Gorgeous nonetheless. We stopped in Cambria for an awesome seaside picnic. Maysie was thrilled to feed the seagulls the crusts from my sandwich. She kept chasing the birds saying “Hey! Boodie, hey!” and then she’d look at me as it flew away from her, as if she flat out didn’t understand why these birds wouldn’t let her touch them. We hopped back on the road for another hour or two and finally arrived at the Big Sur Campground and Cabins. So much better than we expected. Most of the campsites that allow RV’s are really shitty. More like a parking lot than a campground. This one, however, is perfect. We’re surrounded by trees on a small cliff overlooking a slow and gentle river. The best part? There’s a playground 20 feet from the camper! Maysie’s thrilled with that, Ronny’s thrilled with the nature of it all, and I’m thrilled to have so many happy campers. Ronny grilled up turkey burgers and sausages and boiled a pot of potatoes while I made a beautiful salad with all of the organic veggies we bought at the farmers market in Santa Barbara yesterday. Maysie had mac-n-cheese, but nibbled quite a few of the potatoes as well. We sat around the fire, alternately listening to music and the gurgling river, and when it came time, I read Maysie her bedtime stories and sang her bedtime song. The best part? As I lay her down in her bed, I kissed her and told her I love her like I do every single night. She looked at me and said, “I wuv you.” Melty, melty heart full of love and joy.
Another amazing day. I was so worried that traveling with Maysen would be really tough. I thought she’d whine and cry about being in her car seat for so long, and I thought she’d be a nightmare in the camper and at the campground. It turns out that she’s the best little camping partner ever. The first thing she said to me this morning from her pack-n-play was “Mommy, cuddle.” How can you beat that? She crawled under the covers with me and we…played with the iPad and watched DVDs. Whatevs. She took her first bath in the camper’s tub; Ronny heated up a big pot of water on the stove and we dumped into the tub. She played with her toys and bubbles and filled the camper with smiles and splashes. All I wanted to do today was go somewhere that we could go for a little hike, so after hitting the playground for a while wed ended up at Andrew Morena State Park where we took a little hiking trail to a picnic area. We all had a good time, but Maysie was almost overwhelmed with fun. The “you can’t catch me” game got her giggling like crazy until, like 12 times, she tripped over a stone and fell. Of course, after skidding on her tummy and filling her hands with dirt and gravel she cried, but she kept saying, “I sawhee” as if she had done something wrong. On the picnic grounds a huge Maple (?) tree had dumped its enormous leaves, and May got to have her first experience hearing the crunching of the leaves. She loved picking up handfuls and letting the breeze take the leaves away. Back at camp, while May slept in her car seat, Ronny chopped a bunch of wood that he had hunted down on the side of the road while I read a few chapters in my book. We built a nice fire, made a nice dinner, and now we’re ready to sit around the campfire for a while. This is one of the best trips we’ve taken, and Maysen fills even the most mundane moments with joy and excitement. You should have seen the way she was fascinated with the grass, the gravel, and the discovery of a ladybug. You should have seen the way she was fascinated with the way Daddy chopped wood and built a fire. You should have seen the way Mommy made a fantastic dinner and all she would eat was peanuts.
It wasn’t easy at all finding a place to stay tonight. Santa Cruz is, from what I know of it, a really cool little city. But it sucks for RV-ers. It took us a couple of hours, but we finally tracked down an RV park where no one answered the phone or the knock on the door. So now we’ve backed in, illegally-ish, to a spot with hookups where it seems that all of the neighbors are semi-permanent residents. Maysie was a gem again today. I think that she really likes to be on the road. She even behaved herself when we went out to eat at a restaurant in Monterey. She even sat in the stroller while I pushed her through a few shops. This trip is really a special time for our little family. Right now, there’s no internet, and no fire, and dinner’s done. Maysie and Ronny are in the back of the camper watching Toy Story on the DVD player and I’m sitting up front reading a book (and writing this, of course). It’s so hard to explain how fun it is to have Maysen on this trip with us. We did the same trek, pretty much, two years ago when we toured the entire country, but then it was just Ronny and I. It’s an entirely different experience. When it was just the two of us we spent much more time in restaurants and bars. This time we’ve been having picnics and hanging out in the campsite and on playgrounds and little hiking trails. This time we really do stop to smell the flowers…and examine the rocks and kick the leaves and rub our hands in the dirt and marvel at how tall the trees are and let the ladybugs walk down our fingers. This time we point out the things we see around us and talk about what color they are. This time we sing a lot more songs. And Ronny has been in really good spirits this time. I really thought it was going to be an excruciating challenge filled with a lot of tantrums but boy was I wrong. This has been an amazing few days and I’m so glad we did it. I can almost justify paying out the ass for the hundreds of gallons of gas we’re blowing through.