Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Last Thing on My Bucket List!

Many of you know the story... It was to be Loren's BIG 80th birthday - April 30, 2016.  So months ago I was dropping hints:  How about a cruise to the Hawaiian Islands?  How about a weekend away to the destination of your choice?  Nothing really resonated with him.  Then one day he said, "You know, there is ONE thing left on my bucket list."

"And what might that be?" I inquired trepidatiously.
"An RV trip!" he answered.

I gasped! The furthest thing from making my bucket list would be a trip in an RV, but when you have this almost 80 year old man saying it's the last thing on his bucket list, what's a gal to do?

We began talking about it and our good friends Hans & Barbi Boerner said they had an RV and we must take theirs.  Really?  How big is it?  Twenty-five feet???  Doesn't that sound big?  No, no, it's very easy to drive...  So the trip is beginning to take shape but the gremlins were out in full force.  About 4 months ago,, The Boerner's RV was broken in to and driven away.  They found it a couple of weeks later but it had been vandalized:  microwave torn out, TV gone, counters ripped apart, key jimmied.  But Hans said no problem- The insurance would cover it and he would have it all fixed and ready to go by April 30th.    It was no easy feat, but Hans was good to his word- he did a Herculean job of getting it road ready, and we had a big send off party at Ocean Beach to celebrate the birthday and to send us on our road adventure... and coincidentally, April 30 is also Hans' birthday!


The party was a huge success.  We were blessed by gorgeous weather - unusual for Ocean Beach which can be very cold and windy.  Strangers were coming up and wishing Loren a Happy Birthday and there was a wonderful sense of pure joy!  Too much food; too much coffee; too much love... no you can't have too much love!

Let me just give a BIG shout-out to all of you who came to the party.  I can't tell you how much your love and support for this crazy guy meant to both of us and gave me some much needed courage and affirmation that this was definitely the right thing to do!  There were people from all stages of Loren's/Luke's life:  Miller Freeman, accordion, tap dancing, acting, Tenant's Union, Nancy's friends, Chicago, Oakland, SF, family -- all united in celebration Loren and the 80 years he has graced this planet.  We ate, we toasted, we sang:  It was a wonderful testament to a remarkable person.
The two Birthday Boys:  Hans & Loren


And here's the song we sang for the Octogenarian:

On Loren’s 80th birthday (sung to the tune of Home, Home on the Range)

Oh give him a home, on the road all alone 
With the wind and the rain at his back
Over eight decades long he has always been strong

High adventure has ne’er been a lack. 

Home, home everywhere. Eighty years he has forged his own way.
We seldom have heard a discouraging word And he plans to keep chugging all day.

As a kid he was smart and he had a big heart.
He excelled in his classes at school
At sixteen he left home; off to Harvard he’d roam

But he never did follow the rule.

The school of law thought he hadn’t a flaw 
But he found legal dealings mundane
So he traveled around where adventures abound

And he learned that the world was insane.

Home, home everywhere. Eighty years he has forged his own way.
We seldom have heard a discouraging word And he plans to keep chugging all day.

Then he tried settlin’ down with a job in a town
And he relished becoming a Dad
Then he moved to DC but he never felt free 

So he did something daring and mad.

San Francisco called loud: Don’t be one of the crowd
It’s your chance to be happy and free.
So he ventured out west - half in earnest; half jest

And the rest, as they say’s history!

Home, home everywhere. Eighty years he has forged his own way.
We seldom have heard a discouraging word And he plans to keep chugging all day.

Now you’d think at his age he’d become a calm sage
But oh no, there’s a folly he’s missed
So we got an RV, thanks to Hans and Barbie 

It’s the last on the old bucket list.

We’re glad that you’re here to give luck and good cheer
This adventure should be lots of fun
We’ll drive down the coast and maybe we’ll boast

A repeat when he turns eighty-one!

Home, home everywhere. Eighty years he has forged his own way.
We seldom have heard a discouraging word And he plans to keep chugging all day.

OFF WE GO!  Hans is riding in the RV with us with Tom & Sue Davies following behind.  Hans was our psychological support, our teacher, our mentor and our DEAR FRIEND.  He wanted to come to Half Moon Bay to help us with our first hook ups.  The drive down the coast wasn't bad, and having Hans right next to me boosted my confidence.  We arrived with no problem and our slot was waiting for us.

Hans guided me as I backed our baby into our place.  Loren did all the hook ups with Han's professional direction and then we sat down for some wine, liver pate,  and delicious cheese.

While we were enjoying ourselves our next door neighbor, Verne Smalley, introduced himself.  Verne and his wife are from Escalon, a town near Modesto.  They are here with their rather large push out because his wife is getting four infusions from Stanford.  Verne grows "Am-onds" in the valley but the drought is causing him problems.  As he ended the conversation he said, "My track of memory is full.  I have to erase some to make room for more!"

After Hans, Tom & Sue left us, we crashed.  We decided to just lie low, read our kindles, eat a bit of chicken salad and call it a day.  And what a day it was!!


Waking up on May Day.  We had a long and peaceful night with the exception of a smoke detector what decided to let us know that the battery was low.  Beep...beep... we both woke up around 3:00 am and were afraid it might be something important.  It took a while to figure out where the noise was coming from, but we took the battery out and went back to sleep.

We took a morning stroll around the campground which is full of all assortment of rigs.  Some are huge with pick-up trucks parked next to them to haul them around.  The names given to RV's is a story of its own:  Lakota, Prowler, Elkhart, Jay Flight, Sea Breeze.  Some of them look like they are permanently fixed to their site.

We met Scott who lives and works in Oakhurst.  He's in the construction business and has five years left on his Union.  His wife, Tamara, is a retired CA Highway Patrol Officer.  They have a 40' Crusader that they keep in Half Moon Bay permanently.  After she retired, his wife got bored with the beach and took a part-time job at the RV Park which turned in to a full time job.  Tamara lives in the 5th wheeler year round.  They've been here for 4 years.  His son also works weekends at the RV park!  He was setting up the barbecue and invited us to join the party, but we declined as we were having our own barbecue!

We walked to the beach this morning as well as this afternoon and it was gorgeous.


On our afternoon walk we went up to the Ritz Carlton - what a site!  It's like coming upon an apparition of a grand hotel befitting The Great Gatsby that towers across the horizon.  Rooms rent of $399-$1499/night and it was a bustle with golf carts, families, dogs and wedding parties.  We monied up to two big wooden deck chairs facing the ocean and sat down for a while enjoying the view.

Dinner was great!  I had Googled:  "What meals do you take on an RV trip" and I came across a site written by a young woman who had gone cross country in an RV with her husband and two children.  She had all sorts of hints, ideas and recipes.  So I made foil wraps:  chicken, beef cubes, onions, green peppers, potatoes, mushrooms, broccoli all in a marinade of oil, vinegar and Good Seasons Salad Dressing.  I made four varieties and froze them.  So we took two packets out, Loren build a charcoal fire and we had a delicious meal accompanied by a salad!  We felt so accomplished!  What veterans  we are!!


Took some coffee to the beach before coming back and cleaning up.  We unhooked everything and were off a little after 10:00, soloing down Route 1.  There was a moment when I announced to Loren, "The knot in my stomach just gave way.  I CAN DO THIS!!"  

The vistas were spectacular, but I kept my eyes fixed on the yellow line so as not to get too near the cliff.  But there were a lot of turn outs all along the way, so I could pull over and enjoy the vistas. 

Our campsite in Big Sur was so different than Half Moon Bay.  We were right next to a lovely, flowing river surrounded by a grove of Redwood trees.  Our cell signal was non-existent so we were completely off the grid: no phone, no internet, no texting, no email... and it was great!
Our next door neighbors were a darling family from New Zealand:  Luke and Katie and their two year old son, Theo.  Theo has decided that I am his ball partner.  He keeps coming over and throws a ball at me - and he has quite a good arm.  They are living in London, but Luke's work brought him to the States for 3 weeks.  Katie and Theo flew over to join him at the end of his work and they rented a huge RV and are wending their way north from LA - Santa Barbara- Big Sur-SF-Petaluma-Tahoe-Vegas and a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon before going back to London.

We were building our fire to get ready for our Italian Sausage wrap ups when Luke and Katie came out with some beers to join us.  They were there for a good hour!  Katie is an artist- abstract painting and sculpture.  Luke brings together architecture and technology in huge interactive installations.  He told us about a job he did in the Ukraine for a very wealthy oligarch who wanted something spectacular for his wife's birthday.  They built a kind of Cirque du Soleil tent on the side of a Swiss mountain with a huge performance space where Cossacks a top horses came riding in.  They spent 4 months building it and it cost millions.  He talked about the interaction of art and technology and Luke said if technology trumps creativity it will always fail.  Creativity needs to lead and impel the technology.  He had been working in LA for H & M clothes building an interactive installation where women could try on clothing virtually and have their dress and hair be wind-blown without ever having to try on the dresses in reality!!  I asked him why with Silicon Valley being the center of the tech world, would he be called in from London to do a job.  He said that Silicone Valley is the center of technology merchandise- all the gadgetry- but London is the best place for interactive installations.

We had such fun sitting by the fire talking to these energetic, dynamic young people- and we got the sense that they actually enjoyed talking with us too!


It's much cooler here and not that many places to explore.  They told us at the office that there were some great hiking trails and a beautiful waterfall, but we needed to drive to them.  Once I got that RV backed in to its spot, I didn't want to move it until we were headed for our next site.  So we went for a walk to see where we might end.  There was another campsite right next to ours with spaces for tents, spaces with hook ups for RVs and an assortment of cabins.  We enquired about them and there were cabins so of like a quonset hut with a bed in it and maybe a refrigerator that rented for $170.00.  Other cabins with their own baths and kitchens rented for $250.00!  Seems kind of steep for "roughing it!"

We walked through the woods to the Big Sur River Inn where we had coffee and WiFi.  A very low-keyed day.  Went on another walk in the afternoon and found The Publick House and had a beer.

Our next door neighbors came over to our fire to introduce themselves.  Steve and Ruanne Kosher.  They were probably late thirties/early forties.  Luanne said, "My Mother told me that you Golden Years are the 30s, 40s, and 50s because that's when you can do things and you've got to live while you can."  So they are living that dream.  They have a very sleek light weight RV and a brand new Ford pick up to haul it.  It has a built in gas grill and cable TV.  They have a huge St. Bernard who sleeps in the back of the pick up because he shakes the RV too much.  They have dirt bikes and kayaks and they are off every weekend.  They live in Rino and have 26 year old twin daughters and a younger son and have been married for 30 years.  Luanne has only one thing on her bucket list:  jumping out of a plane.  Steve said he would do it too.  "I figure we can go together!"

As we were sitting outside by the fire we looked over at our RV and said T I O G A
Today Is Our Golden Adventure


After a short walk to the Big Sur River Inn to get a Chronicle and a coffee, we packed things up, unhooked and were on our way to Pismo Beach.  The ride was perhaps the prettiest of the entire trip.  The following picture I took on Panoramic setting on my iPhone... and we had this kind of view most of our trip!

We also stopped along the way to see the largest seal rookery in the United States.  They lined the coast for miles.  They were very dormant and appeared to be sleeping.

We arrived in Pismo and my college roommate, Susan and her husband Roy met us.  They are big RVers and members of the Pismo Coast Village RV Resort so when I called Susan for advice and information in planning this adventure, she suggested we meet them at Pismo Beach where they reserved a place for us right next to their large 5th Wheeler.          

This resort is amazing.   There are places for 400 RV's and it was almost full.  Some of these were enormous - Roy said the one right next to ours would cost about $300,000!! It even had a huge TV screen on the outside of it so the people were watching a movie while they ate their dinner outside!! I never knew there was such an avid community of RVers in this country, but judging by this Resort, it's a huge business.  The RV campsite is right by a lagoon which runs in to the ocean.  It has all sorts of amenities like restaurants, a heated pool, game room, barbecue pit and more.
We got hooked in, spent a little time relaxing before Susan and I went to the grocery store to buy some dinner.  We spent the rest of the day and evening enjoying our company.



After breakfast, we got in the car and Susan and Roy drove us to Avila Beach and Shell Beach-two coastal towns.  We had lunch in a great fish place at the end of a pier before heading for the Tide pools at Las Ocas- a beautiful beach jutting out in to the ocean.  It was a great day.



We contemplated returning the same way along Route 1 but decided we'd take Highway 101 instead.  It turned out to be a wise decision since it started raining and rained hard most of the way home.  I just found a nice big truck to follow and stayed in the right lane for most of the trip.  When we rolled in to Han's driveway I let out a huge YELP! YAHOO!  We made it... and so did the RV!  We did something that at first I was dreading and something that I NEVER would have done had it been up to me.  I really did it for Loren... but as the saying goes, "In giving you receive,"  and I certainly got a lot out of this adventure.  I think the lesson learned was that although at our age we have the right to play it safe and take the path of least resistance, it is a pretty amazing ride when we push the envelope and go for it and do something out of our comfort zones.  It was great... but now I need to rest!!