The highlights from this weekend included learning that going more than two weeks without Dory is too long, and learning how to back her up! The backing up is a pretty big deal because I was starting to develop a complex around it. Now that I know it can be done, it’s just a question of practice.
The plan was to head out as soon as I was done with work on Friday. We only had a couple of hours to drive to Olema so we weren’t in any huge hurry. We shopped for groceries the night before and plugged in the fridge so it would be cold in time. In terms of timing, everything worked out perfectly, including a little side trip for Dory this week to a trailer guy to check out her balance. I think she was leveled properly at Safari Condo, but we noticed early on that she looked a little lower on the driver’s side and that’s probably because we packed all the heavy things, pots and pans, tools, etc. on that side, so she needed adjusting. We were happy actually to find this guy because we like having a west coast person who can be our Dory Doctor when things go awry. Randy, with Randy’s Mobile Auto Repair, comes highly recommended and clearly knows his stuff. He’d never seen an Alto before and he was thoroughly impressed by the design. He was so excited in fact that he dragged Richard underneath to point out the custom brackets and the slick way everything is put together. Right away, he wants to do some “mods” by swapping 2 6V batteries for the 12V up front, which is exactly something I have been trying to talk Richard out of since before we got Dory. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
After a nice little drive toward Pt. Reyes, we arrived at the campground around 5 and saw that our site was a typical back in site. We’ve tried from time to time to back in, but have abandoned pretty quickly given the miracle of the Caravan Mover. Really, it doesn’t take much for Richard to become agitated and start yelling “You’re jackknifing!” and that’s when I call it a day. It’s something I want to know how to do though so we gave it another go. Now, understand, I had already read a great deal about trailer backing, way before we ever got Dory. Plus, all the advice along the way. So I had phrases like: “Tiny movements”, “Put your hands at the bottom of the wheel”, “Go slow”, on repeat in my brain every time I slowly, carefully, and with tiny movements, jackknifed the trailer. It actually seemed like no matter which way I turned the wheel, she would always follow the same exact painstaking, and fully incorrect, course. So at that point I decided I just didn’t get it. This time, we were in no hurry, there was lots of room at the site, no one to block with long term maneuvering, and we had electrical hookups to recharge the battery if we needed to use extensive Caravan Mover-ing to bail us out of whatever I got us into.
So here we are at the campground with everyone around us happily sitting by their various grills or campfires. Richard and I bring out the walkies and I instruct him that the only words I want to hear him say are either “Good job” or “Stop”. I sat there for a minute really thinking this through. If I want Dory’s butt to go toward the driver’s side, I want Bruce’s butt to go toward the passenger side. Should make sense, right? So I start by turning the wheel just a little, and I can right away tell the same thing is going to happen as all the other attempts. Then I decide, screw it, I’m going to turn the wheel a LOT, just to see what will happen. I can see little trajectory lines on Bruce’s rear view camera and I max out the path and inch back. BINGO!! Right away, she started doing what I thought she should be doing. I think Richard actually said something unauthorized over the walkie at that point, like: “Hey! It’s actually working!” I kept it slow and adjusted the wheel back as soon as I could tell I’d turned her enough. What I realized was that probably what people meant by “Tiny movements” was not so much the turning of the steering wheel, but how far you should try to go before making an adjustment. But the adjustments themselves need to be quite assertive at times. So without any need for pulling forward or anything, I just backed her the hell in the very first time! Like a trailer person! Richard and I were so elated, I jumped out of the car and we laughed and hugged and celebrated loud enough to draw a “Great job!” from one of the groups near us. That was awesome.
Dinner Friday was mushroom tortelloni, boiled in our blue nesting Magma pots, with marinara sauce, parmesan, and a caesar salad. Satisfaction is when someone says, “We don’t have any fresh ground pepper do we?” and you can leap up and say, “Why yes! Yes we do!” and pull it out of the thematically organized plastic bins under the sink.
Richard then went off for a long bike ride and I tried to see if I could accomplish mission #2 of trailering: getting work done, but in a nice environment. I usually have some kind of work I need to do over the weekend, like report writing or test scoring, and I knew that wasn’t likely to change. But how much nicer to do that in a beautiful place? At first I couldn’t say for sure if I was happy or sad, but the internet connection at the campground allowed me to get on to our database. Damn. Luckily, the connection was short lived and before long, Richard texted to see if I wanted to meet him for lunch. But I did need to get the work done, so I brought the laptop with me and drove over to Nicasio, a cute little town along a rapidly shrinking reservoir. Full cell service there, so after a quick burger, he took off and I sat in the bar of a nice little restaurant and banged out an IEP.
To reward myself, I went on a pleasant little bike ride up to Pt. Reyes Station. My plan was to find dessert to bring back to the trailer, but I forgot to bring anything that would have allowed me to carry anything larger than a cookie. I also forgot to bring a bike lock, so there went the cookie idea. So it was just a nice, mission free, ride. I settled for ice cream bars back in Olema where I met Richard after his long loop. He was super happy with his map app and didn’t get lost once. Well, actually he did, several times, but he figured it out quickly. Dinner Saturday was satay and veggies on the grill. A bit of “Breaking Bad” at bed time and that made another perfect day.
Sunday, inspired by having found maple syrup sold in bags (stories of broken maple syrup bottles and subsequent clean up have made a deep impression), we pushed our culinary limits with pancakes, eggs, and sausage, on the grill. We got an adorable griddle insert and it worked like a charm. Chatted with neighbors, gave a few tours, and headed back a little after 11.
We were getting sort of hungry on the drive and started looking for nice places to stop. It wasn’t until we got all the way to Highway 37 where we found some place acceptable. Only trouble was: the pull out off the highway was a short, dead end parking lot with not enough room to turn around. We decided not to think about that and raised the roof for a quick bite. Then I got to practice some real backing, with a real angle. Again, I did the “No I mean it” steering, aiming for putting Dory’s butt into a parking space, and it really could not have gone better. I took before and after shots to show the amount of space I had. I won’t say I’m getting cocky quite yet, but I will say that was one satisfying weekend!
Home again around 3. Couldn’t ask for anything better.
Total miles: 76.6, Engine time: 2 hours, 19min, 16.5 mpg
Olema Campground, site #163. Future sites: 125, 126, 127, 145, 146, 147