Half Moon Bay (9)

Premium goodness

Back when I made this reservation, I was only concerned with the fact that it was a nice site and that I could get it for three nights. I often make reservations for three nights, thinking I will take a day off. I hardly ever follow through with that though, and things are busy enough at school that it was definitely a struggle to hold firm to my plan. But a substitute had been confirmed, so I was set to commit. The only little glitch was that the west coast was forecasted to get hit with a “bomb cyclone” on Sunday. The very name feels overly dramatic (“atmospheric river” is no better), and we mostly figured it was a sensationalized version of a regular old “storm,” so we didn’t worry too much. We had hookups and cozy little storm shelter with a heater. What’s the big deal?

Relative calm before the bomb

Then, as we drove out Friday, we noticed an eerie lack of bumper to bumper traffic going through San Francisco. In fact, the whole way there, we saw very little traffic. That was disconcerting. When we got to the kiosk, in record time, we noticed a sign saying there were sites available. That’s when we knew this was worse than we thought. We asked the ranger why there were open sites and she said, with what I perceived to be fear in her eyes, “Because of the storm.” I asked if there were evacuation warnings for the campground and she said no. So we continued on through, figuring it wasn’t going go happen until late Saturday night anyway, so we might as well enjoy the premium site tonight. There were plenty of gale warnings and small craft advisories, but it’s not like I was going to go out in my boat. Onward.

Premium view, day or night, no matter the site

The first thing I did after set up was mount our LFW, or more appropriately named FFW, where the first F stands for “Faux.” I am very pleased with how nicely the colors go with the blue cushions and wood tone cabinets. It is a very cheery look and a nice way to give Dory2 her own unique flair. Plus, now we can pretend we always have a premium site with an ocean view, no matter where we are.

Campers starting to bail…

Saturday was lovely most of the day. Richard got in a great ride and I got some work cranked out so that I would not feel stressed. Half Moon Bay has excellent cell service. There is nothing I can’t access from there, so I got to be very productive. We got takeout dinner from nearby Taqueria Tres Amigos on Friday, and I did a Blue Apron on Saturday. All was well, and still no evacuation order had been issued, and then more campers started departing. We scanned the neighborhood, assessing the diehards who were choosing to remain. All of the tenters had packed up, of course. There was one little Casita and one van in our size range, but all the others were big Class As or much larger trailers. We had Dory turned to the South, which was where the wind was supposed to be coming from, and we put nothing outside. It felt like we were sitting in the blue Marine World Splash Zone seats, waiting to see how much we would get sprayed.

Captain! She’s taking on too much strain! We’ve got to head her into the wind or she’ll buckle for sure!

I woke up at 3am on Sunday morning with Dory getting a lot of rocking. I did some weather checking to see if any more alerts had been issued and looked out the window to see if there was a Poseidon Adventure wall of water coming our way. Then I tried to go back to sleep. That was mostly unsuccessful. You’d think gentle rocking to the sound of waves would be soothing.

According to the weather app, winds maintained at a steady 25-30 mph, with gusts of 45, all the way until around 2pm. Sometimes there was light rain, sometimes it was a deluge, but always there was blasting wind. I got bundled up and went out after coffee, to document the scene. I instantly got drenched. We had faced Dory’s nose perfectly into the wind at setup, so the rocking we felt could have been much, much worse. I wondered how that little Casita felt inside, but I did notice they were still there. Down by the shore, the waves were angry, but none threatening to make it over the dune and into the campground. Then it was just a full day of staying put and feeling like we were on an airplane going through nonstop turbulence. I wished we had a television and then realized I could hang my iPad off the bathroom wall and stream mindless shows. That was awesome. I also wished we had more fun food inside because neither of us was willing to walk out to the car and go get takeout. As a note to self, I should always carry the essential elements for nachos. I’m wondering what a fun dessert would have been that didn’t require prolonged use of the stove, seeing as how we didn’t want to keep the windows open much. I’m open to suggestions.

A bit wet out there

Finally the winds calmed down in the afternoon, but that did not lessen the rainfall. There were quite a few periods of feeling someone had opened the water main in the sky. Reading stats of the total rainfall, it looks like this one broke records going back to 1962, or in some cases, ever. In some parts of California, more than 9 inches of rain fell in 24 hours. Where we were, it was supposedly around 6 inches. And that is just a ton of water. Yay California, sure, but lordy! Can we pace ourselves here?

Sea Foam spill

I don’t actually think I would have been able to drive, let alone tow, at any point on Sunday. So if we had not already planned to stay, we would have had to make emergency plans. As it turned out, Monday was all blue skies and calm as could be. The only evidence of what had transpired was an endless drift of sea foam, all up and down the beach. Living, breathing snow banks, made of bubbles, were bouncing and jiggling like Jello, as far as the eye could see. It was like the Kraken overdid it on Mr. Bubble and overflowed the bathtub. It was super cool and creepy at the same time.

Richard thinking about whether he should touch the sea foam

Monday we pulled out just before noon, triumphant survivors of the 2021 Bomb Cyclone Camper Club. We dumped and parked in the Day Use area, and then walked over to Tres Amigos again, to get a quick lunch before heading back. Driving up the coast, we saw waves continue to churn and explode against the shore, the last remnant of a very powerful system. Hopefully some of the reservoirs are collecting the bounty and are looking less grim.

Here’s to bomb cyclones and taking personal days! Both serve to replenish and refill depleted resources, and both are probably best experienced only on special occasion.

Total miles: 51.8, 17.1, site 32 premium with hookups. Excellent cell service for both. Good dump with pay per use of $10.

Bothe Napa (7)

A bit more sun in the upper loop of the Ritchie Creek Campground

Note to future self: Next time we go to wine country for the weekend, try to remember to book a winery tour and tasting. There are so many incredible wineries near to Bothe Napa State Park, but tough to get a spot when you think of it on Saturday morning when the weather is perfect and everyone already had that idea. I’m sure I could have dropped in at any number of nice places for an impromptu tasting, but I was fine with doing a little exploring of the area instead.

Driving along endless vineyards

Richard had a ride he wanted to do and that sounded like a fun drive to tag along. For him, it was an unexpectedly difficult ride, traversing steep, narrow, and not entirely paved roads, up in the hills behind Calistoga. On a bike, there were parts of Kortum Canyon Road where it was hard to maintain traction going up a steep incline of basically gravel. In a car, it was drivable, but I was sure glad no one came from the other direction. Crossing paths would have been impossible in many of the sections. Franz Valley Road, on the other hand, was delightful and not at all hilly. It was a lovely meander through vineyards and shaded backroads off the main drag. I liked that part a lot.

Hard to see from the photo, but the “Tunnel Tree” is 120′ of perfectly a preserved petrified Redwood, disappearing into a passage cut back into the hillside.

Because I got a little lost before I found him, I stumbled across the Petrified Forest State Historical Landmark. This turned out to be a super fun way to spend the afternoon! After I met Richard at his stopping point, I suggested we go back and check the place out. For an admission price of $12/person, you can walk a mile or so long trail that takes you through a site where a stunning discovery was made back in the 1870s. The signs, placed by a little gnome-like statue, will tell you that an “eccentric homesteader” later called “Petrified Charley,” stumbled upon an outcropping of petrified logs and started digging up tons of the stuff. It seems that Mt. St. Helena, across the valley, blew around 3.4 million years ago, burying the surrounding hillsides in dense ash. The ash perfectly preserve what was a forest of giant redwoods, a variety that is now extinct. The wood was perfectly preserved under the layers of ash and slowly, the organic cells were replaced with silica deposits. When the petrified trees were uncovered, the massive trunks turned out to be some of the largest specimens in the world. The informational kiosks said the giant redwoods toppled like matchsticks from the blast of the volcano, and then got immediately buried, which is why they are so well preserved. How’s that for a cool find!

Cute rig!

The rest of the weekend was our usual regroup and relax, generally in that order. We had a lot to catch up on from the week, so we are always grateful for the Dory time. Little bit of exploring, little bit of Nemo chair napping, some nice lunches and dinners, and you’ve got yourself another weekend of replenishment. The campground was full, and just as we were leaving, we saw the cutest VW bug towing a cute little matching teardrop. Whoever you are, I like your style!

So. Damn. Good.

Oh, and speaking of nice lunches, I had the best little toast things with fresh basil, marinated mozzarella, roasted red pepper, on top of a few basil leaves, and drizzled with some balsamic vinegar. OMG. Lunch so good.

Total miles; 81.6 (but we took an unnecessarily long way because we were distracted and talking and kept ignoring the car navigation system), 16.8 mpg. Site 20 in the upper loop. Nice site. Level and a bit of solar. Set apart from other campers and pretty private. Verizon got service, but not so much for ATT. Sometimes I would hit 5g, but it didn’t do much. No dump AND the Calistoga Fairground place is closed, AND the Napa Fairground place that was supposed to be open does not have a working dump AND they won’t let you dump in one of their (many) open full hookup sites. BOO. Could have gone to a private place or to ABBA, but it was $30 to dump there, so we’re gonna hold it until next weekend. I know. Could be EW. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how much we regret that next weekend.

Seacliff (3)

Just a gorgeous place to stay.

So let’s say you’re an employee in a public school district, who has to complete a certain number of mandatory annual training modules online. Let’s also say those training modules are on things like blood borne pathogens, child abuse, bullying, sexual harassment, and teen suicide. Let’s assume those activities are not top items on your “fun” list, so it is completely understandable that you may have procrastinated doing them until the last possible minute, all in one sitting. Or, perhaps you were just waiting for the most cheerful setting imaginable before strapping in for 4 1/2 hours straight hours, rather than, say, take it on it bits and pieces over the past two months. If so, you are my people, and you and I spent a good chunk of our Saturday in immersive abuse land. But, we were at the beach, so things could have been worse.

Nice sunset action

Seacliff, as weird as it is to be just right there in the middle of so many beach goers, has rapidly become one of our favorite places. It could be the gentle and soothing sound of the nearby surf, or it could be that it is walking distance to ice cream. Or both. But it really is super fun.

You can’t not, really.

We arrived just in time for a nice sunset and braved the nippy air for a walk to Marianne’s after dinner. I got thin mint and mandarin chocolate on a sugar cone. Richard got “spooky” orange cheesecake, which tastes like normal cheesecake. The weather was glorious all weekend and even though we were in the middle of the row of camping slots, we basked in the glorious views, made even better with a Caravan Mover spin.

Richard ditched my abuse sessions and went on a long bike ride. He says it was a superlative ride up San Jose Road and down Highland and Eureka Canyon Rd. He would do it backwards next time, he notes.

Simple, effective, lightweight, and comes in blue.

I settled in, swinging in my Nemo chair, protected from the sun by my new chair umbrella. That is a winning piece of camping equipment right there. It is just big enough and adjustable enough to keep my upper body shaded, making it perfect for working on a laptop, or reading a book, or napping, or watching depressing videos. The unfortunate part of my plan was that cell service, while mostly pretty good, was not quite good enough to handle sustained video streaming. So, what would have been 4 1/2 hours and done, turned into a marathon event of playing, freezing, sending me back to the start of the 20 min section, and making an already difficult ordeal take about twice as much time. It’s a good thing the surf was there to calm me down, and that every five minutes I was interrupted by strollers by, asking me about the roof. I can’t really complain, as this was a situation of my own creation. Plus, again, beach. So I should shut up.

Who wouldn’t want this as a semi permanent view?

You may notice more general scenery shots than usual, and that is because we are thinking about making a BFW without the W. I’ve been noodling on what to do with Dory2’s front wall. I had all kinds of pin maps and white boards and laminated photos on Dory1’s front wall, and I didn’t want to just move things over. I also verified that the white surface of the new fridge is, in fact, a dry erase surface. That is exciting for me in a way that most people probably cannot understand, but it does mean that I don’t need to put a white board on the front wall. I thought about decals and other maps, but my current idea is to put a giant peel and stick picture where a Lesser Front Window might be, so that we get a never ending beautiful view without the downsides of having a window there (see previous posts declaring our anti BFW stance). Some of these pictures are contenders, but then I got stuck in choice paralysis.

Oh dang, that’s a nice view too. Now I can’t decide….

Sunday we dumped at New Brighton, like you do, and enjoyed the views from the day use area there too. It was a view filled weekend with a gazillion shore birds, a couple thousand “I think the roof goes down” arm waves, dozens of boats, a few seals, and several scoops of delicious ice cream.

Just keep swimming, kids. I know. But keep swimming anyway.

Once home, I did finish off the mandated training videos. All I can say is, let’s be extra kind to our kids. It is depressingly hard to grow up these days. I’m glad I didn’t have to go through my teen years exposed to so much ugliness, with social media layered over the top of it all. How confusing it must be. Here’s to hoping the ones who are suffering can find something good and solid to hold onto through the rough patches. And let’s hope we can recognize the times we might be able to offer that for them. It’s hard. Hang in there.

Total miles: 84.4, 17.6 mpg. Hit same stop and go traffic on Hwy 1 about 5 miles from destination. That stretch takes a good 30 min to get through. Site C6, no hookups, but excellent solar. No dump; dump at New Brighton with credit card pay station. 5g service for both, but it was slower than when it hit LTE.

Sunset SB (7)

Closest we got to a sunset.

What a fun weekend! I got in some otter time at Elkhorn Slough, we spotted an Alto in the wild, and we got to have the BEST dinner with our most excellent neighbors.

There are so many species of birds in this picture. Wish I could name them all.

We got the same site we have a couple times in the past at Sunset State Beach campground. From there, it is a short hop to a boat launch, either at Moss Landing, or Kirby Park. We still can’t go to this campground without remembering the Extreme RVs shoot and how wild that was. No such drama this weekend. Just a beautiful float, launching from Kirby Park, and sharing space with a couple hundred birds. Plus three otters. It was a good day. Kirby has been closed for a while to do damage repair, but is back open, and a nice peaceful place to launch a kayak.

Coming in for a landing.

There were just scores of beautiful birds out there. Egrets, Herons, Sandpipers, and of course lots of Pelicans. The best were the Terns, who dove straight down into the water to catch little fish. The Pelicans meanwhile, swooped so close to me on their long hovering descents, I thought they might make a landing on my boat. But they didn’t. And the otters just bobbed and floated, warming their little hands in the sun.

Chillin’ while fluffy

Richard did a ride and met me at Kirby. We’re planning a one way boating scheme for some time in the future where I depart from Moss Landing and he rides to the car, then drives it to Kirby to pick me up there. That would be fun.

As is usually the case, there were no sunsets at Sunset State Beach. Just as I was thinking there might be a show, the fog rolled in so thick, it was like a statement. No. No sunset for you. I took a series of three pictures which show how fast it rolled in. The first was taken at 6:29, the second at 6:36, and the third at 6:44.

On our way home, we needed to stop to dump at New Brighton, and we spotted another 1723! Sadly, the owners were not around, but I left them a couple of Koozies and a calling card, hoping they were maybe Altoistes. I posted in the group, and sure enough! They were in fact a couple we had met at Sunset SB a few years back for a tour of Dory1. They had gone through the whole waiting process and finally got their Alto delivered to Durango, probably not that far from when we got Dory2. Nice little connection there.

Hello there Alto twin!

And though I have no photographic record, our neighbors, Caz and Steve, treated us to the absolute best English roasted dinner on Sunday night. We shared stories and our hopes and plans for the backyard “campground.” All in all, it was a very happy weekend.

Total miles: 93.4, 17.9 mpg. Site 27 no hookups. Great solar. Ok to fair service for both. Dump at New Brighton for $10 on a credit card at the dump.

Olema (4)

Olema RV Campground

This was a foggy beach weekend in a place we should really visit more often. The Olema Campground is a private place, ideally located if you’re looking for a day trip to Pt. Reyes National Seashore. We’ve stayed in this RV park a few times, and it is nice if you have a spot on the outside of a loop. There are other sites that are right next to other campers, and you can’t reserve a specific spot when you make the reservation online. If you call, you might be able to request a certain spot. We lucked out this time. There is a large, open field with a volleyball court and dry tent sites on the edge of the park, and this is where they hold an annual T@B rally. This would be a great place for an Altogather actually. Someone should make that happen. Hmm….

Limantour Spit Trail

We could see the fog rolling in over the hills as we drove down into Olema, and sure enough, all day Saturday the coast was socked in. It was plenty warm though (Thanks climate change!) so Richard got in a bike ride to Limantour Beach. I met him out there and we went on a hike along the Limantour Spit trail. This is a brushy, uncrowded hike that takes you out along the other side of the dunes until it kind of disappears. It is a short walk over to the beach at that point, so we strolled back in the sand, enjoying the sound and smell of the surf.

Whoa Jellyman, you’ve got some serious thrill issues.

We noticed a whole lot of jellyfish stranded on the shore. I’d never seen that many on a beach. When we got back, we Googled it and I guess that just happens some times. I also looked up whether any creatures eat jellyfish, and that’s a no. They just shrivel up like lost contact lenses and that’s it. Seems a waste somehow.

“What? What are you all looking at?”

There were multitudes of shore birds all up and down the beach. There was one group that was particularly entertaining because they were clumped together, facing the same direction, into the wind I assume. It just looked very much like they were collectively saying to each other, “Wow. Would you look at that. That’s not gonna end well.” Then, every so often, a wave would lap their feet and they would all flap and complain and move a few inches farther from the surf. Fun times. Dory’s windows got a good cleaning after the rains from last weekend. Her roof is still a mess, but at least that doesn’t ruin my view.

Coastal fog cresting like waves on the shore.

On Friday, we drove out via Lucas Valley Road, noting the subtle, yet high tech entrance gate to Skywalker Ranch. Once upon a time, I got to go through those gates for a job interview, and that was quite thrilling. Now I just notice its existence as we go by, wondering how my life might have been different if I’d gotten that job. All things considered, I’m glad I didn’t because I’m pretty happy with where I landed. I am also happy, however, that I got to see a real live Yoda.

Nicasio Reservoir looking pretty darn low

There is a very dicey part on Lucas Valley Road now. They are in the process of trying to build back a section where one whole lane seems to have fallen off down the hillside. They’ve got traffic control lights to let one direction of cars go at a time, but I wasn’t filled with confidence that what remained of the road would stay there. We went back via Novato Blvd. and past Stafford Lake instead. That’s a pretty way to go, and gets you to Highway 37 eventually. We noted the low levels in the Nicasio Reservoir, and also in Stafford Lake. There is no denying the drought.

A hint of sunshine over the ocean

It was a lovely weekend, with a lovely Blue Apron dinner, pretty good movies on the big screen, and ample margarita down time. I also slept better than I had all week. I think my body relaxes more in Dory than at home. And that makes perfect sense to me.

Total miles: 63.6, 16.0 mpg. Site 128, nice and out the outskirts of the loop. Hookups. Dump not so great but not awful. ATT had some service at the site, but dark in other places in the campground. Campground wifi pretty useless. Laundromat on site. No generators allowed.

Bodega Bay RV Park

Not bad at all. Quiet in the rain.

Have you ever spent a weekend so thoroughly lazy you’re not sure if you walked even fifty steps? That was us. It was raining Friday night and all day Saturday, so it was kind of perfect. We must have needed a lazy weekend because we were both awfully content to do nothing.

Cute vintage trailers having a weekend out.

When I say ‘do nothing’ I mean we went nowhere. We actually did a lot of talking and thinking together. That is a lot of what these weekends are all about. It’s like a forced pause from the whirlwind work week. We catch our breath, think through stuff that’s on our minds, or things that are difficult to sift through without a lot of time. Or I revamp my reading comprehension program, deciding the acronym “PRICS” (predicting, reading, imagining, clarifying, summarizing) sounds too close to “pricks” and would not be good.

The Children’s Bell Tower – 140 bells, mostly donated from places in Italy to honor the gift of life, following a terrible tragedy

As for the campground, this was a new one for us in a frequently visited location. Bodega Bay RV Park sits right behind the parking lot to our favorite restaurant in Bodega Bay: La Bodegita. We’ve never been tempted to stay there, because it looks like your typical big rig parking lot from the entrance. Maybe our expectations were really low, but we actually found it to be quite cute and pleasant. The sites weren’t exactly spread out, but we weren’t bumping up against our neighbors either. It was clean, there was cell service and wifi, and the location is good. Good that is, if you wanted to do anything in Bodega Bay. Which we didn’t. We were looking forward to getting takeout, but sadly, our place seems to be closed, hopefully not forever.

There were some cute vintage trailers in the campground and Richard found a touching memorial to a boy, Nicholas Green, from the area who had died in Italy and donated his organs. Today, there is a foundation in his honor. One of the bells was blessed by Pope John Paul II.

One of our favorite “facies”

On Saturday, we devoted part of the day to thinking of a dear camping friend, who passed about six months ago. Ralph, you were one of the good guys. Patricia, we hold you in our hearts, looking forward to the day when we can camp together again.

Life is short. Lazy is good. Rain is good. Pricks are bad. Choose wisely where you put your energy because those are the minutes that make up your life. That’s all I got.

Total miles: 84.7, 16.4 mpg. Site 55 hookups. Cell service and Tengointernet wifi. Good dump, but you have to back in. Level gravel sites with little fences between. Clean, quiet, safe. Like a KOA. Even has a tiny putting green thing and a corn hole game area.

Bodega Dunes (7)

Site 60; a standby favorite for the solar.

Beautiful Sonoma Coast! We could not have asked for better weather and the air quality was legit normal. Funny, after all the times we have camped on the coast, this was the firs time I put my boat in the Russian River down by the ocean end. I think that might be my new favorite thing.

Only the third or fourth time out for new blue boat.

Since we weren’t sure how parking might go at the boat launch, and since there is no cell service, at least for me, down there, we decided to do a drop off/meet up plan. We drove to the Visitor Center in Jenner, where there is 10 or 20 min parking to load/unload boat, and then Richard drove the car back to Dory. From there, he did an out and back ride up Bay Hill. This gave me a good three hours to paddle around before he planned to come back with the car.

Foggy Pelicans

The mood on the river was cool and foggy, but not cold. There were tons of Pelicans and a smattering of Harbor Seals. No otters spotted, but the seals sure were cute. The water was calm and peaceful and all the boaters I passed remarked on the perfection of the day and how lucky we all were to be out there experiencing it. Total bliss.

And ocean sunset rounds out a perfect weekend.

After dinner, we went out to the dunes at the campground Day Use area and caught the first nice sunset I’d seen in a really long time. You know it’s a good weekend when I have to delete dozens of sunset photos and narrow it down to the top six.

Nothing else to report. You can feel a chill just starting to form at night, signaling the real end of summer and a reminder of heater weather coming down the pike. It’s all good.

Total miles: 89.2, 16.2 mpg. Site 60, no hookups. Great solar. LTE for both, though not quite as good for ATT. Dump is finally fixed! Be prepared for a long line if you come at or around noon.

San Francisco RV Resort

Ocean view…. or would be if not for the fog

Happy Labor Day weekend! We did something weird for the long weekend. Way back in March or April, I started to see advertisements for the “Immersive Van Gogh” exhibit in San Francisco. At the time, things seemed way too COVIDy to consider it. So I got tickets for a date so far out, I was certain we would be over this by then. Oh well. Once again, I have underestimated the general stupidity of a significant portion of the population. Still, we had tickets and they were mandating masking and proof of vaccination for entry, so we decided to go.

Who you calling small?

There are not many places to stay with an RV in the San Fransisco area, but I found a private place in Pacifica. I knew it was likely to be a big rig fest, and boy howdy, was it ever. For the most expensive place we’ve ever booked, it was one of the least scenic. It didn’t help that there was dense fog obscuring views and sunsets, but at least it masked the smoke. You’d never know the air quality was bad unless you looked it up. Shame Richard is obsessed with looking that stuff up.

Even premium sites eventually return to the sea.

You can tell there used to be more land here, and that much of it had fallen off into the ocean. I looked at pictures on the website and it shows another ten to twenty feet of former premium sites with a nice bluff trail that all got wiped out a few years ago during a big storm. Those might have been nice, but everything else is a tightly spaced sandwich shop. The rig that pulled in later along our passenger side was so big, it hit the electrical panel when it tried to open up the slide outs. And when people are getting things out of their outside storage compartments, they have to make a conscious effort not to brush up against neighbors. We were the smallest thing there by a lot, but you know what they say: location, location, location.

Nice backroads for a ride or drive.

Saturday we decided to head down the coast so Richard could get in some riding. The air was good enough and the skies were clear and blue. In fact, traveling just a couple of miles north or south exited the fog bank. Temperatures were mild and crowds were not bad, at least not in the places we went. I got to sag his route: up Higgins Canyon, down Purisima Creek, then to Verde and up Lobitos Creek, down Tunitas Creek, and finally a short jaunt on Highway 1 to Stage Road all the way in to Pescadero. Be aware that these roads are very narrow, often no more than a single lane, but they are pretty. Once in Pescadero, we completed our mission, which was to get pie and takeout from Arcangeli. We had a pulled pork sandwich, plus freshly made potato salad, Italian orzo salad, and Cherry Berry Pie that was still warm from the oven. We took it all to Pescadero Beach to eat in the car while we watched the waves. That sufficed as dinner and we headed back for shows and bed.

Lobby decor

Sunday we drove into The City. It was only about five miles, but took over a half hour and lots of confusing highway interchanges. We are country mice and do not enjoy city driving. We found a parking lot a block from the venue for $15, which I think is normal.

So cool!

The exhibit itself was way cool and worth the expense, imho. The hour long show consisted of animated images cast onto four walls of a large empty room. They used something like 44 ceiling mounted projectors running in sync with a score that included classical music, jazz, and even some Edith Piaf. The images morphed and changed constantly, building pieces of some of his most famous works, revealing and growing them, bit by bit, so you could watch the details come to life. Sometimes there were compilations of themes culminating in wall to wall irises, or portraits, or hayfields. I’ve been a fan of Van Gogh for a long time, so the show was quite enjoyable for me. I think even if you were not familiar with his work, the visual feast would be worth the rather hefty price of admission. I have since learned that there are at least five different exhibits like this one, traveling from city to city. Each is slightly different, but all of them seek to bathe you in the vibrance of this artist’s unique work.


Back when I was on my junior year abroad in Italy (where Richard and I first met), I took a side trip up to Arles specifically to see the place Van Gogh had immortalized in person. That was thrilling. Many of the subjects of his work, like the little town square, or the draw bridge, are still there. One can imagine him sitting there, hour after hour, day after day, trying to capture the essence of what he saw and felt. Nothing tops seeing his paintings in person, where you can see the texture of the globs of paint, mixing and swirling colors together in frosting like peaks. I could stare at these little globs for hours. “Punti di bellezza” we called them – little points of beauty.

Apparently, people who are used to this kind of campground find this completely normal.

Being a three day weekend, we got to enjoy an extra night out. We had originally thought to make it a city night and go to some fancy restaurant, but between feeling COVIDy and sensorily overloaded, we opted for parking lot campground grilling. I cooked up a delicious Blue Apron steak and panzanella salad dinner while we sat in our chairs, feeling chilly, looking out at a wall of fog.

I hope your weekend brought you some punti di bellezza. We enjoyed ours.

Total miles: 35.0, 17.0 mpg. Site 136. Full hookups but sewer on wrong side. We waited for the people next to us to pull out and drove over to theirs. Great LTE for both. Not gonna lie, this place is just a tight parking lot. But if you’re trying to do SF, it is a safe place that is close by.

Seacliff (2)

Amazing site, even if it is a parking lot

This was an incredible last minute cancellation. We had reservations inland and would have been smoked out. The air quality at home was pretty dismal too. But this opened up, Richard grabbed it, and we were happy campers.

The coast was much, much better, but not immune to the effects of the horrible wildfires currently blazing around Lakes Tahoe and Almanor. Again, the post summer months are playing out as they did last year, with beautiful treasured places becoming completely engulfed in flames. I’ve seen posts of AQI measurements in excess of 450, so numbers ranging between 50 and 100 were most welcome. Still, a little too much for the bike ride Richard wanted to do, so we mostly chillaxed.

People magnet

Do not go to this campground if you don’t want to be around people. It is literally a parking lot on the beach with a walking path running in front of the sites all the way down. Richard scored the site right on the end, so we had an unparalleled view. But we also were on full display for all the walkers and strollers, and Altos are natural people magnets. It is laugh out loud funny to watch people approach the Alto. The fact that they can’t see us looking at them is a testament to the effectiveness of the tinted glass, but they will come right up to within a foot or two and just stare. If they are in groups, they will group stare, and then speculate about the roof, and then make the requisite arm gestures. It feels a little like being in an aquarium and sometimes people have the funniest expressions as they’re trying to figure things out. One guy was standing there for so long that Richard eventually opened the door and offered him one of our calling cards, which have Altoistes information and web addresses for Safari Condo. He startled, then laughed a lot, and then apologized for staring. We assured him we were quite used to it. We thought it would be funny if we could install some giant hand that would suddenly pop out, offering business cards.

Busted ship, couple of dolphin fins, guy with sword

I mostly read and mammal watched. I got to see a whale and several dolphins swimming around the bay, so that was fun. Plus, there was a guy practicing martial arts moves on the beach, using long sticks and swords. He was very good and kind of mesmerizing. Richard went on a small local ride and got out to the pier by a crumbling concrete ship called the “SS Palo Alto.” It has sunk noticeably more than the last time we were here and offers a sombre, though comforting reminder that all things will eventually return to Mother Earth. After dinner, we’d walk up a short path to Marianne’s to get ice cream. They have it down with all outdoor ordering and pickup.

All in all, it was a fun weekend. We’re surprised by how much we like the parking lot at the beach. It doesn’t seem like our speed at all, but we’ve had so much fun both times we’ve come. It’s easy to see why it is so damn hard to get a reservation.

Total miles: 88.5, 18.5 mpg. Site A1. No hookups, no bathrooms. Must be fully self contained. No Dump. Dump at New Brighton, which is now charging $10 even if you were staying at a state park. Great solar. Amazing view. Tons of people. LTE for both.

Salinas/Monterey KOA


This was a last minute desperation move based on air quality. It is becoming predictably consistent that there are fires in the summer and fall months, enough to make breathing dangerous across much of the state. So much so in fact, that I need to learn to make reservations only on the coast until well into winter. At least there it is usually better. Last weekend we bailed on reservations near Nevada City and could not find anything last minute to take their place. We ended up sleeping in Dory in the garage because 1) we can, 2) we get to watch big screen projector movies, and 3) I sleep better in Dory. This weekend was the same, with reservations planned for Coloma, except I was able to find this place. It’s not a great place. But it had an AQI under 50 for the most part, and was close enough to Moss Landing that we could get in an otter fix. #winning

Pelicans gliding through fog, not smoke

We had a lot of adulting to do that we’d been putting off since coming home, so it was productive to be out. When we’re out, we can have long sustained conversations about stuff. Sometimes it’s stupid stuff, like how are Corn Nuts made? But sometimes it’s hard stuff that is easily avoided when we’re home. And our daughter certainly appreciates having her space, so it’s all worth it, even at a silly KOA. I went ahead and moved all the reservations that were inland over the next three months, to places near the ocean. It’s really hard to get spots on the coast, so some of them will be weird private places. But that’s fine. When you close the curtains at night, you could really be anywhere.

Smashing mah dinner on mah tummah

Plans have continued, slowly and haltingly, to investigate the possibility of having Dory1 in the backyard as a living space. All of the logistics of that have proved to be daunting; from finding information about ordinances and permits, to finding a contractor who will talk to us, it’s been slow. As it stands, we’re not hopeful. So part of the adulting was talking through what that might mean and what options we might have. The downside of having such amazing summer trips is that we go though low level, extended release, nervous breakdowns when we come back. It’s subtle and you’d think we were fine because we’re functioning, but it’s a lot to shift off two months of national parks, to back to the same old same old while COVID is ramping back up and everything is on fire again. And public education can be really hard sometimes. I need to work on what I let bother me and what I don’t. That’s a big to do that I need to figure out, because there will always be times when people just suck.

We’ve got some nice sites lined up for the future though, and fun plans on the books, so it’s ok. It’s all ok. My school has chosen flamingoes as the ambassador of Optimism. I have flamingos sitting on my desk and will put on my best flamingo-tude, hoping for rain to give the poor firefighters a break. Meanwhile, here are some pictures of otters munch munching on crabs.

Total miles: 100.0, 18.0 mpg. Really small and cramped, right next to the highway, but I didn’t hear traffic noise. I am hearing impaired though, so… Hookups and all, and KOAs are what they are. Close enough to Moss Landing for an easy day trip.