I know, i know…I promised a blog a week but somehow its not that easy when you’re on the road so now i have a lot of catching up to do. Maybe I’ll do it in linear fashion or maybe I’ll meander all over the place. Sometimes I might even backtrack and fill in the details on an experience that deserves more than a fleeting mention. Lets see what happens.
After a wonderful two weeks in Carlsbad with Marcos younger brother Marcel, his wife Julie and their cutest of cute almost 2 year old Mikela, we packed our things once again. Marcel and Julie had generously given us the use of one of their cars, a Subaru Outback which Marco and I named Minerva. The girls disagreed emphatically and decided they would call her Betty.
July 20th, 2008
Heading up the coast on the I5 once again we stopped in for the first evening at San Clemente to spend the night with our close friends Mark & Christine who we had spent the first few days with on arrival. Arriving around 3pm we jumped in the car to head down to the pier and catch the last events of the weekend’s Ocean festival.
We joined the thousands who had also come for the celebration and I thought about solitary walks on the beach back home in Jervis Bay. The sandcastle competition had just been judged and the proud family who had created the winning entry “Going Green”posed for photos for the local newspaper. Up on the Pier a line of old woodies, the quintessential California surf car stretched down towards the end of the Pier and we wandered amongst them, breathing in the nostalgia, the sunshine and the buzz of summer.
Sienna wanted to take photos underneath the pier so we headed down for some arty shots and shadetime and left the boys in the sweltering heat. After a quick snack of onion rings we headed back up to the Pier to watch the tandem surfing competition. A beautiful Hawaiian surfer and his 11 year old daughter stole the show with their graceful & eloquent style.
We dined on delicious curries back at Mark & Christines and organised the car for the 12 day trip up the coast. They loaded us up with camping gear and we were ready for adventure.
Marco and Mark built a box to sit on top of Minerva/Betty so that we could fit all of our luggage and we headed off to Ventura County to stay with The Farrys, longtime friends of Marcos from his skiing days in Mammoth.
Paul had called us earlier to let us know he might not be there when we arrived. His cat had attacked his arm and a slight bite had led to ominous swelling and a nasty redness which stretched from wrist to elbow. He was off to the Doctors for a tetanus shot and told us to let ourselves in if noone was around.
We pulled up outside their house mid afternoon. They had moved since our last visit 9 years ago and also welcomed a new addition to their family, Devon, now aged 6.
They had warned us their house was in the middle of renovations to which we replied ” Great, we’ll feel right at home then”.
Their middle son Mark ( 16) greeted us warmly and Devon who is the ultimate livewire gave us an animated tour of the house. He was giving up his room for Marco and I for the night and the girls were to bunk in with Brinsley (13) who was off at volleyball training and scheduled for 2 basketball games that evening. Weston now 18 made a brief appearance.
Dara arrived shortly after, still gorgeous at 49, not looking a day older than 35, she had been an international model for years and her inner glow more than matched her outer appearance. We chatted till Paul arrived, always the gracious host, witty and welcoming, but obviously not feeling one hundred percent, and in the next few hours managed to squeeze in a tasty salmon dinner, 2 basketball games, a trip along the canals by their house in an electric boat and a couple of bottles of red.
The girls ( and Devon) finished up the night with a soak in the spa and were still up making s’mores (sticky, sweet concoctions made with Graham Crackers, marshmallows and chocolate and toasted over a fire) with Mark when when the adults went to bed around midnight.
I awoke on my 43rd birthday feeling like I had slipped into a time warp, snuggled into a single bed, surrounded by toys,games and kids books and felt grateful for the journey so far, not just this trip but the whole journey that had bought me to this point in my life.
Paul whipped us up a feast of bagels, cream cheese, sourdough and scrambled eggs and we spent the morning chatting, relaxing and watching the kids have fun in the water. We hit the road around two with promises to come back in Sept and stay for a week. Santana & Brinsley had hit it off bigtime and we all felt like the time to say goodbye had come way too quickly.
Dara loaded us up with snacks and parting gifts; a game of Apples to Apples for the girls and some yummy, sweet smelling vanilla body lotion for me.
The landscape changed dramatically as we headed up the coast. Passing through Santa Barbara the arid brown hills gave way to a lush, verdant landscape. The homes were built close to the coast with no sign of the tract home developments further South.
We missed the turn off at San Luis Obispo and detoured through the nondescript inland town, filling up with gas and heading off on the 1back to the Coast through Morro Bay and Cambria. These tiny towns clung to the Coast in a more desolate and wild landscape. Rocky outcrops dotted the ocean; covered with pelicans and other seabirds and a white dusting of excrement, the girls affectionately named them “poop rocks”.
The temperature dropped from a balmy 79 deg down to 63 deg as we reached our camping destination at San Simeon State park. Surrounded by giant RV’s we pitched our 4 man tent and sent the girls off to search for firewood.
We watched the sun slip behind the fog bank which hung above the cold Central Californian ocean, warmed ourselves by the fire and whipped up a meal of tortillas stuffed with frijoles, cheese and salsa verde before heading to the tent for a family game of scrabble…4 sleeping bags in a row, the hard earth beneath us, we slept.
I slept soundly but woke at first light, every bone aching and an urgent need to pee. Emerging from the tent into the cool, foggy morning I breathed in the silence around me.
At breakfast the squirrels appeared and these cute little creatures we had oohed and aahed over for the past 2 weeks quickly lost their charm.
Sienna had kindly thrown a morsel to one of them so we could watch him pick it up with his cute little hands and eat it with his cute little mouth. Unbeknownst to us a silent signal went out to the rest of the clan and our site was soon overrun by the tiny terrors. Guard the left and a cheeky sprite would jump onto the table to my right to steal some crumbs. We quickly packed up the food and put it into the tent hoping to divert the squirrel troops but 5 minutes later a strange sound alerted Marco to investigate. Around the back of the tent a tough little hoodlum was attempting to chew his way through the fabric of the tent. (Mark & Christine-if you’re reading this…its only a small hole!)
We moved the food to the car and sat down to relax. A strange clunking noise from under the car interrupted my writing and I knelt down to see the hind legs of a squirrel, his upper body lost somewhere in Minerva/Betty’s undercarriage. I can only assume he was trying to chomp his way into the car!
Marco and I spent the morning working on a new song and around midday we left for our excursion to Hearst Castle. From the wilderness of our natural surroundings into the wilderness of touristlandia USA!!