I’ve just come back from a new/old experience. Now, this isn’t to say that haven’t just jumped into a person’s car before and scurried off to a place I’ve never been, or had no idea about the agenda, but this time it felt like a “new” different time.
I want to take it back a few decades…to the old skool era.
Awhile back, my Mom and her fabulous man bought a “rustic” VW camper van, complete with sleeping area for four, pop top, kitchen with sink, stove, and fridge, outside shower, and swivel front seats for a cozy little home on the road. And since then, they’ve been raving about their little overnight trips, how fun, how liberating, yadda-yadda. Now, this RV is the type that existed before the 40, 60, 100 foot RVs came into play. This is before you could watch TV, sleep in a king size bed, or actually, LIVE on the road. It has a charm and comfort which makes riding around in it feel like you’re in a regular car that is just more spacious.
So, sans the husband, but with the dog, the 4 of us left the house on Saturday AM with only the vague intent to get close to Santa Cruz, find a place to camp, and chill. The drive down HWY 1 was gorgeous, you can definitely say that California can be BEYOND STUNNING when it wants to be, and driving down the coast is where you want to be. Even the Taco Bell in Pensacola, RIGHT ON THE BEACH, was gorgeous, and we had a tasty breakfast of tacos with tons of other families, mostly just to sit overlooking the ocean and feel grand. Every once in a while we would pull off to a scenic view point and stand outside of the VW for a few moments to take in the smell of salt water, feel the breeze off the ocean, watch the golden hills wave and wave and wave…and of course pee.
(And on that note, CAN’T THE STATE TAKE A LITTLE MORE PRIDE IN THEIR RESTROOMS???? Jesus, being inside of one of them makes me want to take drugs, be homeless, and commit to petty theft….OK, TMI, my bad. But they do leave everything else to be desired. I say pee in nature, people, it’s just better.)
As we’re driving South, we are suddenly getting the clue that we may be in a bit of trouble as to where we will get to rest for the evening. One thing about Cali is that it’s illegal to park on the side of the road to sleep (not to mention not the safest feeling in the world), so finding a camp ground or RV park with an open vacancy during Summer suddenly became quite the challenge. One thing’s for sure, people come to California to BE OUTSIDE during the summertime, which is awesome in itself, but quick shitty when trying to find a space for the night on the night.
Arriving at Santa Cruz was like being transported to a Dazed and Confused type setting. The kids all looked high, higher, and highest. The stores on one of the main thoroughfares were all head shops, bars, food joints, coffee bars, and clothing boutiques. Oh, and ice cream. Like EVERY OTHER STORE sells delicious, amazing, life changing ice cream. So, it’s good to smoke some dope and eat like a king…or not.
We actually parked on the side of the road, swiveled around the front chairs, and ate a delicious lunch chicken and beer, compliments of Steven’s morning cooking and our trusty fridge keeping it cold and classy. A little walk for the dog up and down the road admiring the collection of bizarre shops, and it was back on the road again.
We managed to luck out in an RV park where 30 minutes prior to our arrival, a cancellation was had and we could park our beast right between the 20 footer and the 40 footer homes on wheels where…um…we felt tiny. But we were amongst the redwoods, next to a sweet little river, just living the good life; who cares about length when we have girth! (I meant in terms of how much joy we have in our hearts!!!)
Sat out in my 49er camping chair, drinking tequila, watching the sunset, I felt that this was a really, really good life moment and it reminded me of a “Leave it to Beaver” era
You see, people in California sometimes spend ALL SUMMER in one or more RV parks with kids and dogs, family and friends. These locations can have pools, basketball courts, places to ride bikes, places to hike and lay out, and gift shops. I sat watching kids ride around on their bikes, safe as anything, making new friends, laughing, just being children and felt an overwhelming sense of peace and clarity. It might be a bit trashy, and you certainly have NO privacy, but it’s like a family summer camp. It made me think that picking up your own RV, with the certain amenities that make camping better, can bring your family closer together, remind kids and parents alike about the simple joys that this life can offer, and grant a moment of serenity back when life was a bit slower and more simple.
We were back home by mid-afternoon the next day, but it felt like I had had an actual vacation. I felt relaxed, and so grateful that for just one moment in my busy, ridiculous life, I took the time to be with my family, share in the beauty that California nature has in spades, and lived presently, if just for a short time.
So I say for all y’all this summer: Make memories. Make traditions. Make friends.
This I recommend.