The Adventure Atmosphere Mar06


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The Adventure Atmosphere

Well, we’re in. After all the preparing and planning, all the logistics, we’ve finally started the adventure, but it wasn’t exactly the smoothest transition. We were sorta like a space ship entering earth’s atmosphere, our path into the new life on the road a bit hectic – full of gravity, particles, drag, friction, and intense heat.

It was bound to be an exhausting day since we had to get our last mattress and boxes to storage that morning, get the rental condo all clear and clean for our walk-through with our landlord by noon, and only then, get the rest of our stuff, car and scooter up to the RV storage place to do our final pack up. All this, before we could even get on the road to head to our first destination.

Because we had stuff to unpack from the back of car into to the RV, including Kitty, we didn’t want to load up the scooter on the rack quite yet, so Ali rode it up separately and I drove the car. Unfortunately, that introduced an unseen variable we hadn’t yet encountered in all our pre-flight training.

Even though we spent 15 minutes unloading the car, the scooter was still hot when we got it onto the rack, some of the metal bits hot enough to fry an egg… or a forearm. I was reaching under it to grab one of the tie-down straps and the top of my arm touched a hot pipe. Yowee!


Fortunately, our friends Kelley and Steve had given us a baby Aloe plant as a going away gift, so Ali ran into the RV, broke off one of it’s little arms and squeezed out some soothing juice onto my burn. With the appropriate amount of sympathy and Aloe attention, a gentle bonking of oneself in the head for not accounting for the new hotness variable, and the ever-popular post-injury quip, “that’s going to leave a mark”, we got busy again with the last details and headed out.


Full tank of gas, all systems go – check. Car hooked to tow bar, locked in and tested – check. Scooter tied down to rack securely – check. Destination plugged into the Garmin – check. Two humans in seat belts – check. One furry person in her princess tent – check. Phew!

It was finally time for a little celebration, but only at the stop lights, since driving this menagerie of vehicles always requires full attention. After 3 red lights worth of smiling at one another and saying, “I love you, we did it, holy crap we’re really in this moment”, we merged on to Highway 1 and hit 55 mph.

(Note: 55 is the posted legal speed limit for vehicles that are towing, plus we’re newbie freak-out chickens right now, so that’s as fast as we go. I was surprised how 55 mph can feel snail-slow in one moment, and then lips-flapping-sky-diving-face fast in the next. It’s all a matter of lane width, road bumpiness, and 18-wheeler truck proximity.)

At any rate, we were all wheels rollin’ south by 2pm which would put us in Morro Bay by 5pm, enough time before sunset to get set up at the campground before dark. Or so we thought.

Not long into the journey we hit a northbound lane closure on Highway 1 at Moss Landing. A power line was down, so both directions of traffic were having to take turns sharing a single lane. We were stuck like a bug for 45 minutes getting through that 1 mile of mess. There went our day light.

After the lane closure, and a jaunt through Castroville, we hit the crazy bad streets of Salinas and finally made it to 101 South. About an hour later, Kitty started to cry from her tent in the back room, so Ali and I decide that she can come out for a bit and explore while we kept driving. Ali unzipped her tent door, talked to her for a bit, set her up with a few things and then came back to the front seat with me.

We didn’t hear it, we just smelled it. First it was that warm, overly pungent odor of pet food that has been “cooked by ingestion”, then it was the kind of poop smell that is so strong it would have visible green stink waves if it were in a cartoon. Ali and I just looked at each other and I said silently to myself, “thank god I’m driving right now.” Kitty was sick.

Luckily, Kitty had barfed all over a wind-breaker jacket that Ali had put on the floor, easy enough to hose off once we got to camp, and the pool of the brownest foulest poop-soup was in the litter box. Ali put Kitty back in the tent, and did her best to contain the seepage and deodorize the cabin, while I kept us aimed at Morro Bay from the cock pit.

Just 11 miles left now, Ali is at the wheel, we exit 101 and get back onto Highway 1 again and head out to the coast winding our way through gorgeous sunset-lit hills. No need for sunglasses now, the light has left us, and Garmin says we’re about to turn into the State Park, but she doesn’t know where the campground is. (I’m changing verb tense now so that you can be in the moment with us.)

Crap! We’re heading into town. Ali pulls us over to the side of the narrow road, and we’re so long we’re blocking an entire street entrance, but we don’t care. We know we need to be going the opposite direction on this road, but there’s zero u-turn potential. Garmin shows we can turn left, left, left around the next block. Kitty yells from the back. We both yell back, “shut up barf-bag, we’re doing the best we can!”

It’s really dark now, but we’re headed in the right direction. I think we must be almost there when Ali sees the flapping behind us. We’ve lost a tie-down strap on the scooter. Oh wait, what did that sign say? CRAP! We just passed the campground. Ali pulls us over to the side of the road again, this time on a fairly nice shoulder, and flips on our back-up lights so we can see what’s come undone.

Fortunately, the strap (one of 5 that we have tying down the scooter) is still hanging on to the rack by its hook so we didn’t lose it, but it definitely has the look of something that’s been dragged for several miles. Much like us at this point, the tie-down strap is crying out for a cocktail or a substitution from the game. SUB, coach! Please!

I leave Ali with the strap and head out on foot across the grassy field back to the ranger station to confirm that this is indeed where we need to be, before we tackle the logistics of another turn-around. There’s no one in the little hut since it’s 6:30pm at this point and the sign just says to pick a camp spot and fill out a self-registration card with your payment. Ok, we’re so close now!

Back at the rig, Ali and I decide to unhook the car so that she can go into the park ahead of me to scout for a spot, and so that my planned 3 point u-turn in the RV will be less encumbered. No problems, we’re sailing now. We can’t see any signs really or campsite numbers, but Ali picks us a nice wide spot (turns out it was a handicapped spot so we had to move in the morning, but oh well). We don our head lamps, crank down the stabilizers, plug in the electric and water, extend out the slides, set the barf-covered jacket outside and get out the booze.

At 7:30pm, with cocktails in hand, families reassured that we’ve arrived safely, a cat in the lap with her eyes closed, we finally indulged in the relieved grins and glory deserved by all adventure astronauts.

The RV has landed!

The next day was gorgeous in Morro Bay, we rode bikes all through town, walked along the beach, had a delicious wine and cheese dinner and felt the first inklings of relaxation.