Big Sur


IMG_5782This was one fantastic find! We had a four-day weekend for Presidents’ Day and took advantage of the time and weather by heading down south. Knowing we’d have three nights, I searched for places with hookups and happened upon this private campground. Great place, but I’m making a note to always try to get site #10. None of the other sites offer as much privacy or view.

We headed out with no great rush on Friday and enjoyed gorgeous ocean views as we drove down. We’d heard tell of several sporting events, but as we are both pretty sports illiterate, the terms “Mavericks” and “Pebble Beach Pro Am” had to be looked up. We prepared for terrible traffic, but really, found no more than the usual cruising on Highway 1.

IMG_5827Our site sat right by the Big Sur River and had lots of room to spread out, with full privacy on the riverside. Very nice. When we pulled in, there was a larger trailer fairly close in the site next to us, so I decided to put up the awning as a privacy screen for that side. That works extremely well. No need for the front wall, so I took it off to maximize the view out the windows. The primo view though was obtained while sitting in a chair above the river. I may have to put serious thought into one of those zero gravity chairs…

IMG_5792After setting up, we cooked up a pot of chili in the Shuttle Chef and went for a stroll to a nearby pub while it simmered. There I indulged in an IPA on tap and we checked in with the online world (no services in the campground). We returned to steaming hot chili in the perfect proportions for the two of us. I think if we’d cooked everything and packed it in the thermal cooker at home, it would have been even better. The Shuttle Chef should be able to hold a good high temperature for eight hours, so it would be super sweet to have a hot meal on the night we pull into a campground without having to cook right after set up.

Saturday morning we spent a fair bit of anxious time trying to locate my hearing aides. Everything we own has a specific spot where it should be, so it is very unnerving when things are not in their designated locations. Somehow the silver, Alto-colored, case they go in must have gotten flicked out of the pocket reserved specifically for it, and landed under the metal cover for the propane heater. Now THAT was hard to figure out! For a while it seemed they had been carried away on some gravitational wave and had entered another dimension of space-time. There are simply not that many places something could be inside an Alto. We put everything back that we had removed and disassembled during the hunt and eventually got out for a hike to Pfeiffer Falls.

IMG_5801This was my first real outing post ankle injury, so I was being extra specially cautious. It must have looked like I was going for a record on Slowest Hiker Ever, and though I’m not sure I took the title, I’m pretty confident I at least won a place on the podium. The falls were nice and the highlight of the day was that I felt ok and didn’t re-injure anything.

We came back to Dory for coffee, naps, ice-cold lemon water, and a long, lovely do nothing, stare at the river, afternoon. Pizza was on the menu for dinner Saturday and I got to try out grilling a pizza in an actual camping situation. I had practiced a few times at home, just to see if was really a thing. IMG_5806I can attest, it is totally a thing and you should definitely try it. We got pre-made dough in a bag, so that made things easier. Basically, you just spread out the dough onto oiled parchment paper, oil the top, and put it on the grill for two minutes on medium heat. Flip it, decorate it, three minutes with cover down, YUM.

This weekend was also a determined experiment in doing Yoga inside a 90 sq. ft. space. I had slacked on my daily stretches as things got stressful at work, and that was when I got hurt. So no more of that. I have to do it every damn day, no matter what, no excuses. Even rain or bugs. That suggested trying to find a way to do it indoors. When I thought about this before the maiden voyage, I got lots of feedback stating it could not be done in an Alto, so I invested in the awning with the front wall as well as a standalone tent as a backup plan. And then I ended up just not doing it because setting up was inconvenient and sometimes it was cold. In order to make this happen, there needs to be no room for weaseling. This weekend I established concept feasibility. Some standing poses are not that hard and in fact lend themselves to tight spaces. Some however, well… it will have to become a highly choreographed routine as I figure out exactly where I can plant my feet and not bonk into anything.

IMG_5826Sunday was Valentine’s Day and we headed to one of the most photographed spots in California. Richard set out on his bike and I sagged him with Bruce down Highway 1. That stretch of the coast is, honestly, too beautiful. It is overkill; unnecessarily picturesque and perfect and spectacular. The real money shot is at the lookout to McWay falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park where a Neverlandesque waterfall spills down to the rocky beach below. Lots of people had the same idea and I was lucky to find a place to park along the road. I kept kind of close to Richard during the drive, passing him and periodically waiting up ahead in pullouts. IMG_5812We met up where I parked and he changed and put his bike in the back of Bruce so we could walk the little tourist trail to the scenic viewpoint. The coast and wildflowers and monarchs flying around made the scene crazy beautiful, I won’t even try to capture it. I spotted little brown bobbing heads in the water below which quite possibly could have been otters. They could have been seals too, but I’m going with otters and it’s not an unreasonable belief. We headed back to Dory and made croissants and had some staring at the river time, followed by some nappy time.

Dinner for Valentine’s Day could have been rib eye steaks and veggies on the grill, except we went back to the pub for a beer and wifi and sadly discovered that Richard’s father had passed away. This was not at all unexpected, but emotional nonetheless. We decided to stay and have dinner there while listening to live bluegrass over a couple of beers. Life is weird. Sometimes I just don’t get it at all. One thing we both know is that having each other and having times together with Dory is about all we can say for sure we understand.

Sad news on an otherwise spectacular weekend.

Future projects include investigating mattress toppers. While I’ve been ok with the 2” memory foam, Richard is having trouble sleeping and is wondering if that’s part of the problem. We sleep on a futon at home so we might look into some kind of very thin futonish solution for the bed. It will have to be able to roll up, be firm enough for him, and squishy enough for me. Should keep us busy.

Total miles: 147.9, Engine time: 3 hours, 32 min, MPG: 18.6

Site: 10 (best one); could do 12, 99 and possibly 92 but it wouldn’t be great. Site 83 would be a no go. This campground was really smoky, but the Caframo fan worked well to keep it mostly out of the Alto. We also banged on the AC for a few minutes to clear it out.

IMG_5810Footnote: Richard wants to mention that there is no wifi (as advertised) at the Henry Miller Library. Apparently anyone who works there has to explain that over and over again.


3 thoughts on “Big Sur

  1. Sorry to hear of Richard’s father passing. Life is short. My condolences to both Richard and you.

    I wanted to comment on the Shuttle Chef. I find it remarkable that you guys have a knack for finding neat things – only to have them disappear from the marketplace. In the case of the Shuttle Chef – it is no longer available on Amazon but thankfully still around elsewhere. I have discovered that it can be purchased on Amazon Canada ( The interesting thing is that you can log in using your U.S. Amazon username and password and they give the option to sell the item to you in US Dollars – along with expedited international shipping.

    1. Thank you for the condolences, Bruce. Interesting about I never knew that. Shipping was NOT cheap for that baby so maybe that’s a better route to go anyway.

      1. I didn’t know you could order from, either until I tried it. Most of the time it would be crazy. Shipping was still pricey but there were only two options: take it or leave it. Cost in US$ was $63.98, shipping: 28.57, Total: 92.55 … but no Canadian taxes.

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