Doran Beach (7)

img_9068We skipped a weekend of camping (for fun reasons) and took advantage of the opportunity to bring Dory in for her yearly physical with Dr. Randy. Randy, of Randy’s Mobile, is really not merely a super skilled mechanic. He is kind of our trailer Yoda and we always end up leaving him with far more knowledge than we expected. Help you, he will, sure, but you will learn the ways of brake shoes before you go.

img_9064He was all ready for us with a lesson on wheel hubs, which included an explanation for how the electronically controlled magnet engages against the metal plate. He showed us how the markings against the metal, combined with the wear patterns on the brake shoes, can tell him exactly what kind of a driver I am. And he was right; I am slow and cautious, rarely engaging the brakes suddenly. It was like an autopsy for our wheel hub.

img_9066He showed us the bearings and explained his criteria for deciding what to replace and why. I mean, he had us years ago at “Let me winch you out of this,” and didn’t really need to earn our trust any further. But it was nice he took the time to go through his rationale for the work he did. And now we have an entire backup hub assembly, serviced and ready to install, should we ever find ourselves in the middle of nowhere. He also went through a diagnostic process on the solar panels, determining that they are both in fact working just fine. What we were seeing as reduced input was probably just the effect of the low angle of the winter sun. We have since verified amp input of greater than the capacity of one panel, so they check out A OK.

img_5474Backing up a week, the reason for the camping gap was caused by a celebratory trip to Disneyland because my school was recognized this year as a “California Distinguished School.” That’s pretty cool, and I’m very proud of my school and all, but what was really fun was the excuse to play with colleagues in the parks. We put a lot of thought into whether we could make this into a Dory trip and ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the drive. It would have saved us a lot of money, because of course the district did not spring for travel, hotel, or park tickets. But having recently driven through L.A. traffic, I opted to fly by myself.

img_9007After all was said and done, I really wish Richard had been able to see the new “Star Wars” land with me. And hotels, even nice ones, are still not my speed, so I would have far preferred having my Dory bed on wheels. Here’s the downside though: if we’d been there together with Dory, we would have slept in. And if we’d done that, there is no way we’d have been able to score entry onto the new “Rise of the Rebellion” ride. For that, you need to be in the park right at 8, ready to click buttons on an app faster than the other thousands of people doing exactly the same thing. “Boarding Group” spots for the day are all gone within a couple of minutes. Imagine Main Street, packed with people all staring at their phones before the park has officially opened. At precisely 8:00, the whole place goes pin drop silent. Then, after a few seconds, people start whooping and cheering. I got boarding group 34 and you bet I whooped. We’re still thinking about how or whether we’d try to do it. There’s an RV park about a mile away. And lest you wonder why Richard didn’t simply fly with me: as soon as Starbucks becomes the only convenient coffee option, he’s out.

img_9117But fast forward to the next weekend and we were out camping again. This time, we got to enjoy a four day weekend in Bodega Bay. We revisited the Pinnacle Gulch hike, and there are still plenty of sea stars. Richard did his normal bike ride, I wrote my normal reports, we gazed admiringly at another normal coastal sunset, and we went to our normal restaurant. About the only thing out of the ordinary was that we spotted a gorgeous bobcat, just sitting on a patch of grass like a normal cat. As our school mascot is the Bobcats, I feel this was a little blessing from the Universe, reassuring me I’m in the right place doing the right thing. All is well.

Total miles: 82.1, 14.9 mpg, 2 hours 14 min. Site 14. Great solar. No hookups. Nice bathrooms. Pay $7 for long line (took about an hour of waiting) at dump. Strong cell service.

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