Copyright Dave MacDougall. All rights reserved.
DAY 23: TUESDAY JUNE 21 2016
We only had a 125 mile drive today to reach the Bay Area so after breakfast and a slower than normal camp breakdown, we left the Watsonville KOA at 11am.
Route guidance keeps forgetting that the bus could actually suffer a heart attack, but the look of glee on Tommy's and my penchant for keeping to schedule allowed for the thrilling / mountainous Route 17 trek. Driving on the interstate just isn't the same and if not for the somewhat out of the way places we've stayed, these byways would be missed.
Some roads like Lombard Street in San Francisco however are never to be missed, particularly on that downward spiral descent. This iconic street was teaming with fellow tourists snapping away with their cell phone cameras as Tommy was nearly jumping out of his seat waving hello like a parade float bigwig. I shot some GoPro video that I will post later.
This worthwhile detour was made today as our real destination was KOA Petaluma, CA about 30 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. We will be back to The City on Friday to explore it on a grand scale, on foot and via cable car. We took the 101 North over the world's most recognizable bridge and left behind a place that Johnny surely would have loved seeing.
An hour or so later and we settled into our site for the afternoon and evening. Simple camping pleasures of laundry, arcade, neighbors grilling and campfires beginning to illuminate the area were just so peaceful. Pitching a tent in the naked forest is tough but campground amenities make for a great stay, even if in cramped quarters. Tommy never complains about camping which makes it all the more FUN!
DAY 24: WEDNESDAY JUNE 22 2016
We rose early, enjoyed a full breakfast and headed out of camp at 930 for the 12:30 Oakland A's vs. Brewer's game at the Oakland County Coliseum.
The drive south was 45 miles of highway cruising over massive bridges, rough city streets and at times, at a snail’s pace. 90 minutes later we parked the bus at the front door. A $5 food drive donation yielded a 2 for 1 voucher which saved plenty. This team does not pack them in and cheap seats with the ability to move around easily was a logical plan.
We walked in and my expectations of what a 1966 county funded multi-purpose field would look like could not be that bad. I was wrong. The “Oakland County Coliseum” was worse. Much like the fact that home plate is 21 feet below sea level, the ambiance hit this dismal mark too.
The best parts of the 'stadium' were the covered upper deck seats honoring Reggie Jackson, Ricky Henderson, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers and Catfish Hunter...all baseball heroes. I speak poorly of the facility but the players and the team are up to par. Good fans, good grub and no lines. FUN FACT 6. Like old Fenway Park, guys pee in long bathtub like basins instead of urinals. Tommy thought it was hilarious.
We sat in section 114, Row 16, Seats 8 and 9, 100 yards closer than those purchased and enjoyed a good game. The fans wore their teams colors, they were engaged and we ate typical ballpark grub. Yes, 'The Cotton Candy Kid' was served. Not once did he mention the dreaded "dad I'm bored" so I'd say he enjoyed the day. I was acting like my fist was a microphone and conducting an interview with him about the day, his trip, and anything / everything to keep his 8 year old attention span on point. HE LOVED THAT. Simple dad tactics.
The pace of this game was brisk and the 7th inning came on too fast for me. Today caught me off guard a bit and while singing the song I choked up for a moment. Tommy has a lovely voice and he is learning the words. I could not be more pleased.
The ride back to camp took us a completely different way from the morning route. I never would have gone by way of Lakeland Drive, an 11 mile detour to save 6 minutes, but it was teaming with blissful rolling pastures, horse paddocks and wineries. A nice way to end the day.
Camp life at this KOA is a perfect blend of sights, sounds and scents. As the sun drops, so do the temperatures. It's going to be another cold night, but after this amazing day, tomorrow shows real promise too.
DAY 25: THURSDAY JUNE 23 2016
One of the best days ever. After a Breakfast Slam at Denny's, we headed west to just marvel at the spectacle in the Redwood Forest. Eggs are eggs but when you have a full plate sort of day planned, going out for breakfast is often the best way to start the day.
I must say that the roadways here are amazing, reminiscent of Vermont in some ways. The winding canopy covered single lane heart dropping thank you mam's are plain old fun. The little towns we cruised through with old Pepsi-Cola marquees, antique shops and an occasional ice cream stand were right out of a Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post pic.
We thought of heading to Muir Woods, the areas most known and heavily traveled forest but a local tipped us off that 'The Armstrong Forest' would provide all that with a serenity of peacefulness- away from the crowds. She was right.
We parked and walked the roughly two mile loop in an Andy Griffin and Opie fashion, deliberately slow, father and son, questions and answers, occasionally stopping, gawking and just listening to the deafening silence. Tommy was floored as the towering trees shot up like silent majestic statues all around us.
The pathway placards provided some useful tidbits such as what occurred in history 1000, 750, 500, and 250 years ago as well how and why this preserve came to be. Most of this info glazed over him. This might take some follow up school and life history to sink in, but any observer could identify that the redwood forest was astounding. I will come to use today's sights in years to follow with a certain appreciation for his total recall replies.
We headed west to Jenner-By-The-Sea, a hamlet along the US 1 Sonoma Coast Highway, and the wonders of nature continued. This roadway turns knuckles white and instantly broadens grins. We stopped several times for the crusty coastline vistas featuring jagged boulders, crashing waves and flowery brush. We enjoyed these views, daring to lean over the edge a bit more. The winds were high and the surf was up, as were our appetites so we continued on, toward the KOA.
Today offered us a chance to see some of the best of what nature offers and we were both in awe of its beauty.
Tonight we are doing smores over our campfire. What could possibly be better than this?
DAY 26: FRIDAY JUNE 24 2016
So long KOA Petaluma, CA. We really enjoyed the 3 memorable nights but today needed to be spent in THE CITY. The plan was open as to where we were going to sleep but the hotels near “AT&T Park”, home to the San Francisco Giants, did not offer suitable parking. The lots were unguarded and the garage ceiling heights were too low, so we took a space at the Candlestick RV Park 5 miles south and used Uber in and out. This campground is an independent one and we only needed to park and sleep. It offered zero appeal, like staying at the Dedham Mall lot without the architectural beauty of Child World or Bradlees.
First stop, Powell Station to ride a cable car. I have done this three times before and it is worth the 45 minute wait. Tommy loved it. He hung on tightly and remarked how cool it was often. The hills were steep and the city views and vibe were taken in by the boy wonder, another trip highlight accomplished.
We ended up at Fisherman's Wharf, skipped Ghirardelli but headed over towards Pier 39 for a glimpse of the Sea Lions. Lunch was enjoyed on the stroll over and as it would happen, we somehow stepped aboard a one hour boat tour that cruised under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz island. This was cool. Cruising under the bridge with a comical and informative narration was fun, even though a similar trip was done last fall. Tommy especially enjoyed seeing the former prison and of hearing about the sharks. He thought they were there as another layer of protection to stop escapees from reaching land, like alligators in a castle's moat and he was somewhat let down when he figured out that they were not employees.
The sea lions were sparse and relegated themselves to the outlining docks. It is mating season and they are south this time of year.
Uber dropped us off in front of "AT&T Park", home to the San Francisco Giants and we got a pair of tickets and went into the 2nd best ballpark. Yes, I think Petco Park in San Diego slightly nudges this one out as the best, but I still have a handful left so the final list is going to change and it is completely scientific.
The park was packed with loyal team jersey sporting fans. We enjoyed row two on the 3rd base side of the upper deck just outside of the base which offered splendid views of the bay and the whole field. My cell phone battery died just as the Cotton Candy Kid posed for his sixth game pic but it didn't spoil the fun that the exciting game offered. We sprinkled Johnny's ashes in section 324. Row 2, Seats 21 and 22 during the time honored 7th Inning Stretch as what seemed like 35,000 fans belted out "Take Me Out To The Ballgame". That was something. He would have loved this ballpark, this city, the cable cars, the hills and Alcatraz too. I paused and said thank you San Francisco to myself.
The game was great and we headed out victorious with a bustling crowd into the night, sporting another souvenir soda cup for Tommy and sticker for the bus window.
Tomorrow has us getting up and heading out early. Thus far, 4,325 miles have been driven, and we are as west as we're going to get. This city represents the halfway point for us and it has been golden.
DAY 27: SATURDAY JUNE 25 2016
Left San Francisco behind and headed out to the east on Interstate 80 for 315 miles. Great bridges and some long uphill battles. The scenery was typical of a Hollywood western with some sprawling valleys and towering trees. Donner Lake was a worthwhile stop.
The scenery quickly changed at the Nevada border from lush ski resort green (an actual shade) to desert dry and brown.
We took our time today with three long breaks. It is all about a steady consistency for both the bus and the boy. We haven't played music since Arizona, just good conversation and chunks of silence. There's too much to see. I do keep hearing Bob Seager's "Turn the Page" in my head though from time to time.
Tonight we settled into Lovelock, NV. The next game is in Denver on Wednesday and there are some long drives ahead, but the Rockies are highly anticipated.
DAY 28: SUNDAY JUNE 26 2016
Left town (Locklove, NV) @ 7am. Goal today was Salt Lake City, some 425 miles away. Now there's the legendary Bill Rogers, Joan Benoit, Johnny Kelley and even Rosie Ruiz....but now there's us and Sweet Pea, for we ran a marathon too. Today lasted 10.5 hours and 426 miles at much higher sustained elevations. Old under-powered VW's using carburetors suffer with the thinner air but she chugged along. The going was slow initially, as if there was bad fuel with some light stuttering and loss of power, but once we began the first descent at 6,150 feet she was back to normal.
We took three long breaks to rest, refuel and acclimate to the mountains. The skies were brilliant blue with Temps in the low 80's, ideal traveling conditions so we just kept pressing on.
300 miles came and went quite easily with only a few big climbs, plenty of mountain / valley picturesque moments and even a couple of coyotes. Tommy read more Harry Potter about half of the day
Hello Utah! We cruised past the Bonneville Salt Flats Raceway and encountered for seemingly the first time, patrolling State Troopers. The speed limit was 80 MPH which made me laugh right out loud when one passed me. The distant mountains here grew steadily higher and steeper too. This state seems to have a more robust natural setting than Neveda; or perhaps it is just Interstate 80.
We reserved a spot at the Salt Lake City KOA and were delighted upon arrival. Knocked off some laundry, spent an hour swimming, went through email and now watching a DVD on the laptop with Tommy.
Getting some miles behind us today allows for a slightly easier mountain run tomorrow.
DAY 29: MONDAY JUNE 27 2016
Some campgrounds are meant for multiple night stays and others are not. KOA Salt Lake City has the goods for a longer stay but we left at 9:30 nonetheless. Our goal this trip is to see the ballparks and spread a pinch of Johnny at each, but there are so many places we'd love to see again. After a drive by The Salt Lake Temple and Dunkin' Donuts and we were off!
Gorgeous city and towering mountains picture frame this area. The roadways were smooth and the traffic levels were mild. We set out to to split the difference between SLC and Denver, some 535 miles away. The next game is Wednesday at noon which does not give us much time on that day to travel.
The easterly trek along Utah's Interstate 15 and then on to US 6 was lush, hilly and relatively easy. No ill effects like yesterday morning. This 100 mile route brought us into more desert like climes and the heat began to sizzle. Many views looked as if we were traveling at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. We just cruised right along.
HELLO Colorado! Grand Junction was a nice rest stop for lunch, fuel and a cool down. The KOA book was examined for logical accommodations and a place 80 miles away was easily reachable and right off the interstate. The drive from there to Denver would only be 180 miles. A nice run for sure. The highway from here to camp tonight felt as if we were on a continuous downhill trajectory. The Colorado River has carved up this area something fierce, leaving behind sheer cliffs, canyons and a twisting roadway that is fun to drive!
We pulled into camp (elevation 5,432 feet) set up a bit faster than normal (Tommy is very helpful) and hit the pool for an hour. Dinner was enjoyed and a camp fire lit. The stars are out and it is getting late, merely because we entered a new time zone. I showed him Cassiopeia, Mars and we could even see the milky way.
The route tomorrow is supposed to be amazing and very steep. The cameras are being charged up, just like the boy wonder, my co-pilot.
DAY 30: TUESDAY JUNE 28 2016
Colorado has not disappointed us with its rugged beauty, thrilling hills and green sloping mountains. We left Silt, CO this morning after a second long day in the bus from Utah. This gave us an easy 180 mile run today to Denver, or so we thought.
We slept in a little today largely due to the 45 degree night and getting out from under warm blankets to pack up was not so appealing. We had breakfast, fueled up and hit the I-70 east at 10:30 am.
We steadily drove up the winding highway without much effort really. The trees grew greener and taller as our speed was slowly sapped away. I enjoy 62 MPH in this vehicle. It is safe, comfortable, as fuel efficient a speed as I have logged and predictable when measuring time and distance. This all quickly changed as we neared Vail Summit, coming in at a whopping 10,603' a height that fellow XBHS classmate and mountain man John Porro climbs for fun. Sweet Pea is more of a beach cruiser, so it took a little bit of right lane, low gear, inner strength not commonly called for.
But the downhill rush was fun at each and every twist and turn. The ski areas came up fast and furiously, Copper, Vail, Breckenridge. I see the appeal here being relegated to NE exclusively. Another time perhaps.
We took in the passing views with a HD GoPro, an SLR Canon camera and cell phone pix; but nothing is better than a scenic view from a bluff. We ate fruit, cooled down for 20 minutes and checked out campgrounds for tonight using a handy app. And then we began the climb of climbs for poor old Sweet Pea. We hit fourth gear once for about three minutes and then 3rd, then 2nd and yes, 1st gear. Truckers were not gaining on us either. It was truly a Watt Piper moment right out of "The Little Train That Could". It was sketchy at best, starving for air, not getting any engine rev with a flutter gas pedal trick, but ultimately, we reached the tipping point and entered the Johnson Tunnel at 11,158, gasp, feet. It was all downhill from here!
Fourth gear allows a nice 65 mph steady ride down on the 6.5 degree slopes. We cruised into Prospect RV Park in Wheat Ridge, CO at 4pm., 11 miles west of Coors Field. Nice people, no amenities. We did laundry, took advantage of a VHS library and TV in the common room watching star Wars Episode I and then V eating Domino's Pizza while observing a hail storm. I wouldn't trade this for a night at the Ritz.
43 DAYS - 7,855 MILES
DAY 16: TUESDAY JUNE 14 2016
Happy Flag Day! A very special day for us as we spent the afternoon over lunch with my fabulous aunt Dottie East and her beautiful and kindhearted daughter Cynthia Coffen. Catching up over a couple of hours is always fun but never enough. Tommy did not want to go, or ever stop talking...the little scamp.
The morning was efficient and we departed the Anaheim hotel around 10:30 for the hour plus drive to San Marcos, midway between LA and San Diego. Seeing Cynthia and Dottie was a highlight of this trip, a planned stop since the west coast swing was laid out. I only wish I remembered to snap a group photo! We said our long goodbyes and headed out on 78 South.
Tonight's stay is at perhaps the finest KOA anywhere, Metro San Diego. Large, a ton of trees, kids playing everywhere and lots of amenities. We rented trike bikes and tooled around for an hour before hitting the "Jumping pillows". It is cool enough to leave the windows open but Tommy wants to swim so off to the pool we go. It will be an early rise for the Padres v. Marlins game tomorrow so we are hitting the sack early as well.
DAY 17: WEDNESDAY JUNE 15 2016
Fixed a cereal breakfast for the boy wonder and we headed out of the San Diego Metro KOA using Uber. Today we went to “Petco Park” for a game between the Padres, and as luck would have it, the Miami Marlins.
This is the best ballpark I have ever been to (20 so far). Location, architecture, food venues, beverage options, sight lines from every angle, seating, dining / picnic areas, fan comfort areas....EVERYTHING was great. Tommy, a veteran of eight big league parks uses a different barometer to measure the fan experience (rhymes with cotton candy), but even he agreed this place was amazing. We walked around for an hour and still had time to spare examining the cool views.
We had row one, 1st base side, between the plate and the mound in the upper deck and watched Ichiro Suzuki hit the first pitch for an infield single, tying some guy named Pete Rose for the most hits in the game (when using combined Japanese League and MLB). Was hoping to see his 3,000th hit but he still has a ways to go.
We were cooking in the brilliant sunshine and shivering in the shade. A San Diego 82 is sweater weather. Tommy read the scoreboard, remembered factoids, shorthand baseball lingo from previous games and enjoyed strawberry cotton candy - not pink. This game seemingly skipped along and we celebrated Johnny by scattering a pinch of him during the 7th inning stretch. We enjoyed this experience to the fullest today, picked up a window decal and Ubered back to KOA. Laundry, dinner and bouncy house later and we were spent.
I was sad to learn of the passing of Bill Flagg today, Kristin Sloan's uncle. He was a funny man who cared for others greatly; especially his wife Karen, son Chris, Dean and his wife Erica. He checked in with me during this trip several times just to see how Tommy and I were doing. He was happy for us because he cared so much and I was better for knowing him.
DAY 18: THURSDAY JUNE 16 2016
Nearly halfway into this epic trip and still smiling. There are times when I also just burst out crying. That's ok; tears are tasty and it tells me that Johnny is missed and always will be. And then there is Tommy the wordsmith to help me smile again. He seems at times to be in his own little world but nothing gets by him. He hears everything and has an answer for it too. I love that boy.
We left San Diego Metro KOA at 11:15. I wanted to sleep in as long as possible today because all we needed to do was drive to LA and park, while avoiding traffic. Tommy was up with the birds asking for breakfast, saying he's bored and otherwise not letting me snooze. So, I put him to work and he just loves that. We emptied the bus, cleaned it and repacked. You know that he can properly check the motor oil, drain the fridge, hook up the A/C and sweep out the interior? Anyway, we left after trying to catch up on emails and headed north on the 15.
The ride was quiet. Windows were up due to the cool temps but as we hit points north, it warmed up nicely. The climbs were moderate and I know that later, as in Utah later, Tommy will learn how to either push or drive stick. Today however was enjoyable on the California roadways. I use Google Maps coupled with a truck drivers Bluetooth headset care of Amazon Prime which allows crystal clear communications and worry free hands on driving. This bus takes two hands, two feet and both brain cells to safely operate on the wind gust valley curvaceous byways.
We safely arrived in Pomona, CA at another splendid KOA Kampground. The reservation lady owned a bus back in the day and she gave a sweet spot near the pool, bathroom and laundry.
We cruised into LaVerne for some needed provisions and returned to set up for the night. The odometer marked 3,555 miles traveled thus far. Tommy insisted on swimming so we hit the pool after a perfectly grilled ribeye. The weather is sublime although a heatwave is supposed to impact the area. At this point, nothing could alter our state of bliss.
DAY 19: FRIDAY JUNE 17 2016
Rose early with a Christmas morning like energy for today we went to Universal Studios, care of Dean Flagg. A quick bowl of Cuckoo for Coco Puffs and we were westbound, again, towards LA on the I-10, again. I must have at least 2,800 miles on this interstate. Kristin Sloan's cousin Dean and his wife Erica Flagg reside in a lovely house a few miles from the theme park and a work-perk are park passes; highly coveted passes, which were graciously given to me and Tommy. This gesture, in the midst of his losing his dad this week was very touching. It is a Flagg thing for sure. Others first.
We enjoyed the brief visit, a cup of coffee and Tommy rummaging through their place as if on a treasure hunt, but the park was beckoning.
We arrived at this pristine slice of kid heaven at 10:45. Shrek 4-D was first up...fun for sure. Tommy then immediately proceeded directly to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and his face beamed. He is not shy and his expressive personality and body language gave it a thumbs up, high five fist bump. The 85 minute wait seemed to slightly sap his attitude as we meandered through the human cattle maze. That changed once we entered the massive castle of Hogwarts and the creative musings of JK Rowling's masterpiece. The ride was AWESOME, evoking chants of "again, again, again". Perhaps later. The shops here were spot on in every detail to the books / movies, capturing our imaginations. I loved seeing his eyes light up. He is reading these very books on this trip so the timing could not have been better. He wanted a magic wand but I quickly squelched that.
The day was spent much like this, bouncing from attractions with highlights including the 'Studio Tour' (sort of walked on that without the 50 minute wait), The Simpson's Ride, The Mummy Ride, Jurassic Park, Transformers, Pizza, Minion's, Water World (awesomeness) and the back to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
FUN FACT 5:. While waiting in long lines, employees will ask movie trivia questions and if you answer correctly, you are given a single ride fast pass! I was 2 for 2. "What movie featured the first flushing toilet on film" and "Who was the antagonist in 'The Mummy'? These line skipping passes both came in very handy.
Today was pure sunshine and fun for the two of us. Alone. The phone was unanswered and the few photos taken will last us a lifetime. Of course he got the wand he wanted at the end of the night and I suspect he will wish for a repeat day like this soon. BTW: Psycho and Imotep were the time saving answers.
DAY 20: SATURDAY JUNE 18 2016
Los Angeles Dodger's game set for tonight. Tommy and I left camp at 10 after a late breakfast. Laundry was put off until tomorrow just because the clock was ticking and we wanted to catch some sightseeing before a 3:30 pregame arrival. This lovely campground is an hour from LA with normal traffic so we plan accordingly.
First stop, the LaBrea Tar Pits on Wilshire. It's basically a lake of bubbling up natural asphalt that trapped saber-toothed cats, mammoths, wolves and camels from the last ice age. Tommy loved the smell and gurgling water. We could only spare 30 minutes here so we headed to the strip for some walk of fame highlights.
This area was world class people watching, akin to Times Square! We cruised on by Ming's Chinese Theater and the Capitol Records building too. Several people took selfies with the bus, a common occurrence.
Tommy spotted the Hollywood sign so we trudged up Beachwood to get a shot. Later we spotted a VW club processional and had time allowed, we would have joined them but I cannot be late for anything so we just headed over to “Dodger Stadium”.
A cool feature is that the stadium is carved into the top of a peak and when driving up to it, you are at the higher level so it appears to be a short grandstand...I can assure you that it is not.
We had to kill some time as we arrived too early so we drove around the hills. We returned, parked and headed in but somehow, ultimately, the ticket / field access hookup did not get us in. No big deal. Tommy was hot and tired and hungry so we just got tickets and headed in. Erica Flagg was able to join us for the game which was great as she grew up here and knew the ballpark very well. What a great game! There was plenty of action, home runs, the wave and crowd energy. One fan was searching for something in the stands and spotted the cotton candy man at least 250 feet away. He finally got his serving and the world continued rotating at proper speed.
Johnny's ashes were spread tonight in a much more subdued fashion. It was nice, it was simple and of course it was during the 7th inning stretch. Tommy wanted to immediately leave after this brief ceremony but we stayed until the end of the game; through the protest, and he survived. He was tired today and the sensory overload of yesterday’s visit to Universal Studios made a ballgame look "boring" to this 8 year old.
Baseball can be painfully slow and boring but it can also be thrilling. Game day started at 3pm although the first pitch strike was not until 705 so I see his point.
I will always remember this ballpark, and of tonight's game; the home to the great teams of Tommy Lasorda, the silk voice of announcer Vin Scully, to the history of guys like Jackie Robinson and Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes and Fernando Valenzuela. And I will remember that I saw this game talking about how caring Bill Flagg was and how he will be missed and of Johnny Boy, now part of Section 16, Row L, seats 4, 5 and 6
DAY 21: SUNDAY JUNE 19 2016
Happy Father's Day. We left the Los Angeles area campground at 11:15 and it seemingly took 2 hours to get out of the general area. Some travel days are like this...stop for coffee, for gasoline, for a bathroom break. It was getting hot but I knew the ride along the shore on the 101 would be cool, literally. Just like an SNL skit of "The Californian's" we took the 10 to the 57 to the 210 to the 10 to the 101.
We finally cleared Ventura and the heat broke from a hot stream of hairdryer to a cool ocean aahhhh. This roadway was beautiful, hilly, curvaceous and smooth.
Route guidance in the bus has a Twilight Zone like effect at times. Travel time is based on mileage, adjusting for traffic slowdowns and the rate of speed for the given roadways. Sweet Pea travels much slower than normal traffic but somehow what should have taken 3 hours 55 minutes kept increasing. It eerily seemed to be going in reverse which was fine only because of the pleasant scenery. I swear that I heard a slight maniacal chuckle from the phone at least twice.
The Golden State is ripe with hills and sweeping pastures of yellow grasses, dotted with trees and brush. As I drove on, mile after mile, I was hoping to spot Laura Ingalls and Mary running down a slope to see their pa. For those of you not old, it is a TV show reference predating anything computerized, but that show had lasting byte.
Tommy slept, he read, he is actually an excellent traveler. We neared San Luis Obispo midway between LA and SF, and had set sights on a KOA in Pismo Beach. This place was nothing like I expected; pricey, cramped and mostly asphalt and with just a few trees, so we moved on. So here we are in a $79 hotel near the beach. We checked at 6pm and will easily be gone at 8am. The long ride today deserved what most would say is anything but a Quality Inn, but TV is missed, just not as nearly as much as Kristin Sloan. This is a beach town with a strip of neon signed pizza places, burger joints and surf shops. It is perfect. We ate at Cool Cats, a family restaurant near the pier. Just in time to see the moonrise. Life is good.
DAY 22: MONDAY JUNE 20 2016
Hello Summer. Sounds kind of funny as I've been saying that in Florida since January 20th. We ate a full complimentary breakfast the Pismo Beach hotel and hit the road at 8:15 heading to THE supplier of everything VW in all of the USA "GoWesty" just 25 miles away to see about a telescoping ladder accessory for reaching the roof basket. Campsite picnic tables work just fine ordinarily but having the right tool for the job is a MacDougall prerequisite, one that slightly less Jethro Bodine. No luck. I washed the bus nearby because today we were heading up the Pacific Coast Highway Route 1...my favorite stretch of pavement anywhere.
Tommy was told of this legendary roadway months ago to pique his interest about the journey. He'd be sitting up front, inches from the windshield, able to peer over the cliffs and directly into the heart of the ocean. He reminded me of this promise and I obliged. We hit the road, side by side, with a GoPro dash camera recording the harrowing trek. Video will posted asap.
I have driven this roadway in the 1990's in a big Crown Victoria with Barbara Green Whitbeck at the ready to warn of danger which was frequent, and more recently with Kristin Sloan and Chris Flagg in a 15 person passenger van which was easily capable, but this day was with Tommy boy in a mountain goat, curb hugging, low-gear Bay Window Bus and that amounted to a winning combination for the ages. I told him that you will never ever forget this day and he never will. Terry Kirkman recommend stopping to see the elephant seals which were great. We parked next to a 1974 kite surfer dudes bus for our first toe tasting of the frigid pacific. Later we hit cool spot in Big Sur for lunch and some cliffside photos.
This ride today totaled no more than 200 miles start to finish but it was a highlight for me because everything came together and the memory for Tommy will be recalled with clarity. Of that I am certain and forever grateful.
Carmel-By-The-Sea and Monterey are lovely hamlets to explore but our travels do impose limits and we needed to get a bit more north today. We chose Watsonville because they had availability and this KOA was highly rated. I should just say they have high rates. Camp was set before dark, we dined on grilled hotdogs and a perfect PB&J and feasted on 3 chapters of Harry Potter. I love taking the book and doing the character voices for the boy.
The temps dipped into the low 50's and we huddled together to get warm. Later, I broke out the electric heater to save our very lives for we have to regale the details of this trip, particularly of this day to future MacDougall's, for it lived up to the hype.