Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Big Sur in The Beast

We haven't driven the Beast since Labor Day weekend and boy-oh-boy could we tell. Driving the Beast on Highway 1 is, in a word, taxing. For me, it didn't matter which of us was driving, I white-knuckled it almost all the way, palms sweating, gut clenched. Our granddaughter, Odessa, was with us and she simply and trustingly went with the flow saying it wasn't really any different than riding the buses in San Francisco. I guess I haven't ridden enough buses in the recent past because we need to be driving our rig a lot more often in order for my comfort level to increase. We, I, need more practice driving this thing.

Many stretches of Highway 1 are narrow and curvy, and there were two single lane areas where work was being done to repair storm damage or natural erosion. In one of the single lane areas, we had to squeeze the Beast between K-wall barriers and a rocky cliff face while workmen were busy finishing the construction of what appears to be a new tunnel-like structure. Being that it was Friday, we were led by a pilot car. On our return trip, Sunday, there was no work being done so stop lights were implemented to regulate traffic at both single-lane locations, of which the rocky-cliff-face one directed traffic through the new, roomy tunnel. I guess some people thought they had waited too long at their red light, or that it wasn't functioning properly, so decided to drive on through, but lo and behold, they came face to face with none other than THE BEAST. I saw a couple 'oh shit' looks on people's faces as they tried to figure out how they were going to get out of our way. Lucky for them there was space for them to maneuver and let us pass, otherwise they would've been practicing their back-up skills. I know how long it had been since our traffic light had turned green, so it is obvious to me that these people were selfishly impatient and lacking any forethought as to how much road ahead of them could have been under construction. They didn't wait even a full five minutes, which is about how long it took us to maneuver from our traffic light to the other.

Regardless of how nerve-wracking the drive felt for this 40-foot-motorhome-newbie, the ocean, it's blue-green-aqua waves, the craggy cliffs and serrated rock formations, like sentinels rising from the depths defending the life-abundant kelp beds swaying at their feet, were utterly glorious under the clear, blue sky. And then we drove into Big Sur proper where I embraced the momentary hushed, peaceful feeling I experienced when flanked with beautiful coastal redwoods, oaks, pines and cedars. The high-noon sun poked its rays between the thick, aged branches, leaves and needles, and made its way to the road, lighting it with stripes and dots. How I wished I could've photographed it all along the way. Unfortunately, there were just too few pull-outs large enough to accommodate our rig and provide an ideal photo opportunity.

We camped at Plaskett Creek Campground, which is part of US Forest Service land at the Los Padres National Forest. Upon arriving, we found the roads in the campground narrow and at every bend the rear wheels of the Beast climbed up and down asphalt curbs. When we reached our campsite, I grabbed a walkie-talkie and headed outside to help direct Rob into position for backing into the space. Much to my horror, I caused him to pull too far to the right and wham! crunch! scrape! right into a large rock—or small boulder… whatever!—that the campground uses at intervals to mark the roadway and campsites. We could still open and close the basement door that was damaged, but it has to be replaced. It'll cost us the $500 deductible. I need more practice directing this thing.

This Big Sur weekend was organized by Kim Galvin as a Hallowe'en Paragliding Fly-In get-together. As usual, she did a great job making sure all the pilots who'd never flown there before got their site-intros and everyone was having a good time. 

Saturday evening was the Hallowe'en Costume Pot-luck, for which I prepared Dutch-Oven Beef Stew. It turned out to be one of my most tasty beef stews to date. And that wasn't all. Kim made an amazing chicken verde dish that I believe she said was made with 5 different kinds of green chili peppers. Another fantastic dish was a butternut squash soup that had ginger, and I think basil, in it. Once it was in your bowl, you squeezed a little fresh lemon juice in it and OMG! Truly a taste treat. I want that recipe, Kathleen! And then there was the lasagne with a whole bottle of wine in the marinara sauce and the most delicious garlic bread to accompany it. Pretty darned good, Laura. Many dressed in Hallowe'en costumes, but the best belonged to the kids, of course. 

For a few of us who came along but don't or didn't want to fly, a visit to Sand Dollar Beach was a relaxing highlight. The California coast has to be one of the most beautiful in the world. There were children, surfers, sunbathers and happy dogs making the most of the warm, sunny day. Odessa played in the Pacific with Alejandro and Alexia Laos and got pretty much covered with sand from neck to toe. At one point, a sweet, black dog decided I was the person to do stick duty. He placed his stick at my feet and vocalized his insistence with yelps and whines that I pick it up, such as it was, and throw it for him. I did as I was asked for a little while, but the stick was so light that it didn't go far. Hardly a challenge at all—for the dog that is. When I found a heftier stick, the dog wasn't the least bit interested. He wanted the one he chose… until he found another sucker person who actually had a tennis ball and one of those devices for throwing it. I was pleased to know my black beauty played well with other dogs; and that he gave me the opportunity to photograph their joy.

I am truly looking forward to getting on the road full-time so we can better practice driving, backing up and parking the Beast successfully in every situation. And, I am pleased to say that after we got home Rob smoothly backed the Beast into its parking space in one fell swoop. I also look forward to practicing more photography so I can offer up better and more exciting images to share with you. After all, practice makes perfect.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy our Big Sur Weekend. 

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