23 November 2013
A Good Start
The evening is fading to black. We are ensconced in Howie, seven paces from the edge of a 50-foot cliff high above a sandy beach. Off-shore rocky outcroppings give picture-postcard grandeur to an already-grand scenario. The gentle, but insistent, surf forms the backdrop for our night’s reverie – – we are only 250 miles from home, yet a universe away from only two days ago.
Yesterday, we trudged out of the Bay Area, up the monotony of SR880, across the zip-line of the San Rafael Bridge, and into the beatific beauty of the Mendocino coast. Although it’s only a half-dozen travel hours from our front door, it might as well be another planet.
Last night, we stayed at Caspar RV Park, a pleasant but snug little place just across the street from a sandy beach. Our $40 fee got us power, water, commercial-laden cable TV, laundry, and restrooms – – none of which we had any need for. But we also got a guaranteed parking site in a strange locale, which is a highly desirable commodity when traveling with a 55-foot Howie-and-Ralph conglomeration.
We arrived at Caspar a couple of hours before dark, and took the opportunity to un-hook Ralph and quickly explore the coast. Our pre-trip research had shown that Westport-Union State Beach (north of Fort Bragg) was an appealing possibility, and in fact it’s proven a great place to stay, with sites right above the surf-line atop (hopefully stable) cliffs.
Dinner was delightful, a seafood Friday at a Fort Bragg restaurant in the harbor. Our third-story perch looked out through ocean-side glass over the estuary, with the evening sunset giving way to star-lit waters.
Night was restful, and coffee in the morning was sipped along the shoreline. To get a good camp-spot for Saturday night, we launched immediately up to Westport-Union, and nabbed a sweet location above the pristine beach. By 11AM, we were munching brunch and marveling at the incredible colors and textures of this gorgeous section of a gorgeous coast.
We spent the day walking, reading, relaxing, and commenting to each other on how our lives are changing. After nearly a year in which each and every day of our lives was driven by circumstances well beyond our control, we now experience a totally different perspective on traveling. Almost every hour of the day produces a feeling of mixed guilt or anxiousness – – are we doing what needs to be done? As the saying goes, “Old habits are hard to break”.
Despite the emotional background-travail, we have a truly excellent day. Evening brings a lovely sunset, two nicely blended margaritas (if I do say so myself), a toasty fire, and a surprisingly tasty gluten-free pizza (from Whole Foods) baked in our little RV oven. Tomorrow, we will have a low-key morning, maybe a short beach walk, and then take off to Grant’s Pass.
Life is good.
Westport to Grant’s Pass
The morning introduces yet another day of spectacular weather – – cool but clear, nearly windless, and the deep, lonely beauty of the north coast. We have to travel today, but a morning stroll is still in order. Our walk takes us past a small band of turkey buzzards, warming themselves in the rays of the rising sun by spreading their dark wings.
It’s an odd, and ironically charming sight. These birds are usually only associated with the dead, rotten things they eat and the sad mortality of it all. Their appearance is always somewhat macabre, an airborne grim reaper that sits on a fencepost waiting for the last twitch of life to abate. Yet here they are, frail and vulnerable like the rest of us, trying to salvage some feeble warmth on a chill Fall morning before beginning their (grisly) work of the day. Okay, if it’s not exactly charming, at least it’s not so darkly predatory. Karin and I are charmed anyway – – but we’re pushovers.
We spend a long, leisurely day covering the 280 miles to Grant’s Pass, and have a pleasant if not spectacular dinner at the Taprock restaurant just a stone’s throw from Henderson’s Lineup. This is where we will spend the next few days getting TLC for Howie. [Newsletter newcomers: Howie is our motorhome (House On Wheels In Excess), and Ranger Ralph is our Ford 4×4 pickup.]
We need to get to sleep early tonight, for camping at Henderson’s is unlike other camp site situations. Whereas a normal camp site will typically have residents and workers who honor your “space” and privacy, the Henderson camp is more pragmatic. Service is expected, and delivered, on-time. So around 8:15 or 8:30, sleepy RV-ers can expect a rap on the door and/or a pneumatic impact driver on a wheel lug, whichever comes first. In short, we need to be up-and-around by 7:30 or so, or pay the price.