Monday, January 9, 2012

What a trip, man!

Big Sur Coastline
Dudes, the Dog and Gramps in Carmel by the Sea
CA Highway 46 on the road from Cambria to Paso Robles

The Long Awaited Anniversary Trip, the goals were simple and straight forward:
1. See the Grandsons and give them a 2nd Christmas.
2. Take the first step in analyzing whether we want to
invest in an Airstream.
3. Have some down time and fun.
All three missions, accomplished!
We gave the boys each a “bank roll” and it was interesting how they handled the newly minted bills. (Consecutive numbers, BTW) The little one sealed his in an envelope and no matter how many stores we went into he refused to buy anything. The thirteen (soon) year old
folded his into his pocket and ended up buying some camo gear to wear when he
does his soft pellet “combat operations”. The boy’s favorite retail stop was a big Military Surplus store on Highway One just down the road from Moss Landing. If you need anything, I mean
anything, military this place has it. You can buy a deuce and a half if you need one, one pint emergency water pouches with a five year life span, MRE meat sandwiches or a full set of Roman armor complete with Gladius. Hell of a place!
I brought my Dutch oven and the boys and I baked biscuits, could have put more coals on the top, they were close to perfect if not perfectly brown. We had a late lunch one day in Carmel and
the food trading that went on between the two of them was outstanding. “I’ll
give you a piece of my pulled pork sandwich for a chicken tender. Okay, but you
have to give me some garlic fries and one of those pickles. Okay. Wait a minute!
I said fries, not fry!” And on it went.
Additional observations: they never take off
their stocking hats. Hoodies, flannel shirts, oversized tee shirts and jeans
are the kid uniform of today, I couldn’t tell mine from any other kid on the
street. Thank god my kids are readers, noses in books is a very good thing!
We rented a Design Within Reach Airstream Bambi. The
smallest of the Airstream line with every convenience, stove, refrigerator,
furnace, AC, audio/ video system, direct/indirect lighting, full bathroom,
plenty of hot water all stuffed into 16 feet. The bed was long enough, but only
48 inches wide, I had a hell of a time getting into the dinette on the kitchen
side of the unit and I didn’t like sitting on the toilet to shower. It should
have two batteries, rather than one, the furnace fan sucks electricity
like crazy. You learn to conserve water and power, when we were in the RV park
near Carmel, we turned on every light in the trailer and used a gallon of water
to wash off an orange. When we were off grid at Kirk Creek in Big Sur, we lit
the interior with a candle and only popped a light on to find another bottle of
wine. Conservation of energy makes one 12 volt battery last 3 days. The fridge and the water heater are “three way” devices, 12 volt, propane and 110, the trailer had a smart charging system and changed things over automatically. Not much storage and since Jan and I haul
way too much stuff with us along with the dog and his stuff, it was crowded.
After I moved most of my stuff to the Jeep, it was better. The Jeep has a
Tow/Haul mode, when you push the button for T/H the computer takes charge and
readjusts the suspension, the transmission and the engine parameters, all I can
say is WOW! Coupled with the “active cruise control” we went down the grade to
San Luis Obispo and never touched the brakes. The Jeep pulled the Airstream
through Big Sur like it wasn’t there, taking the tight and twistys right at the
speed limit. Old Wally Byam who designed the AS suspension system back in the
30’s knew what he was doing!
We loved the experience and we are going to try a bigger
unit the next time. I think a 25 foot trailer would be perfect. As a side note, the folks in the massive motor coaches do the following; pull into the parking place, hop out, hook up,
climb back in, hit the leveling system, push the buttons for the curtains, the
slides and the satellite dish and you never see them again. Weird.
Kirk Creek is a National Forest Service campground in Big
Sur. Elevation is 114 feet above sea level and since it’s located on a series
of bluffs overlooking the coast, it’s a 114 foot drop to the rocks and beach!
The sites are spacious, it’s clean, there is no phone, no computer, no potable
water, no electricity, it does however have flush toilets. The nearest cell
phone service is 18 miles away at Ragged Point, there are two wide spots in the
road on Highway One, Lucia and Gorda. Gorda has a gas station, 5.75 for regular.
As we drove by on the way to Cambria, I noticed a guy pulling in for gas at Gorda, he was driving a Porsche Cayenne, his big surprise was going to be paying just over 6 bucks for Sup-ah!
I learned long ago, buy gas (and everything really) before you head for
Big Sur. It’s isolated, its primitive and the services are few, the upside is
one of the rangers is an EMT.
Big Sur is a wonderful place ( its magical and we love it. We did the hike from Kirk Creek to the rocky beach at the base of the cliffs. My foot and right leg are still sore.
We ate well, including a tri tip on the little Weber with baked potatoes done in the
coals of our camp fire. Jan drank wine, I drank whiskey. We ate chocolate and
cookies and devoured a half a box of cuties. We listened to music, read books
and I awakened Jan from a dead sleep at 3am to take a walk in the moonlight to
listen to the surf booming on the rocks. A week of going to bed at ten and
getting up at 8 feels pretty damn good. It was a great way to celebrate our
Our last night we spent in Paso Robles, we met Tom and Lana
Cochrun, Mike and Jacque Griffin at the Windward Winery,( tasted wine, met Mark Goldberg the owner/ winemaker, then previewed Lana’s upcoming show of recent paintings and went to dinner at Il Cortile ( Outstanding food, outstanding wine, 3 of them from Windward…spectacular friends, conversation, food, wine and warmth. One of the best nights we’ve had in a long time!
Lana Cochrun, after taking years off to teach art and to raise
the Cochrun girls is now painting again, learning and growing, her work is
wonderful and if she’d get off her butt and build a website, there would be a
link! Jan has her eye a lighthouse painting to go with another “Lana” we
already have!


  1. I was wondering what had happened to you. Great picture of you and the boys and dog but I never would have recognized you. Judy said you probably wouldn't recognize me either. WHAT? You mean I've changed???!!!

  2. Bob-
    It was a great evening, but as you say the time flew. The meal was extraordinary and the wine was superb and in abundant supply. Jan, who is such a dear, will soon be one of the true wine experts from So Cal north to the Central Coast.

    BTW, Lana appreciates your comment and does have a blog