Sunday, September 20, 2009

Non-Painting Chronicles

Back from a week long vacation. Vacation would imply rest and relaxation but as I mentioned in a previous post there were a couple of anti-sleep bandits in force namely 7, yes 7 dogs who at the mere sound of a branch breaking would start a howling festival. There were also the roosters about 3 I think who like to get everyone up before six and that was when we had four walls and a roof. After a short stint at the donkey ranch we set off for our roadtrip down Highway 1. In theory beautiful coastline, the roar of the ocean and sea breezes. In actual fact some parts were near terrifying, hairpin bends one after another after another some with shear drops down very very steep embankments. I was more holding on than admiring the view. We didn't prepare for the fact that we would be on these narrow, steep, winding roads for hours on end. Our first stop was the Emerald Forest and Patricks Point. We camped and were fairly optimistic, we had bought provisions earlier in a grocery store, chicken, pasta salad, potato salad and bread and butter pudding. The husband had seen the bread and butter pudding at the counter and asked to try it and he then promptly purchased a big slice. We also had some doughnuts to roast over the fire, a little camping secret we were told when camping last year. The frosting melts and they are delicious. Cue dinner, very nice thank you. Doughnuts unfortunately were a wee bit on the dry side, two fell in the fire and they didn't really melt. They weren't krispy kreme and just didn't work so we soon abandoned that idea. Exhausted we retired to bed, the first thing I noticed as I lay in the tent was the snoring, it wasn't coming from our tent. I tried and tried to block it out, I listened to my own breathing I sang songs from the Sound of music in my head, nothing worked... The snoring was so loud it would have registered on a decibel counter. I said to myself if I don't open the tent to look out then I can pretend its not real. Needless to say I unzipped the tent door and looked for clues. It wasn't coming from the immediate vicinity, it was further than that. If I had had a bee bee gun I would have happily have shot a few harmless plastic pallets into the snorers tent. I also imagined a design for a soundproofed tent which I realised had actually already been invented, its called an RV. Add to this, the husband got up twice to hurl in the middle of the night so 1st night of trip, Sleep Bandits 1 Sleeping 0 My husband spotted the snorer the next day, he was on the larger side shall we say and was driving a motorcycle. "How do you know its him." I asked. Apparently he had had a friend who would fall asleep in front of the TV and snore really loudly. He was also on the larger side. So conclusive wouldn't you say ?

You can see where this story is going its not a tale of blissful enjoyment of being at one with nature. The next day we visited the beautiful redwood forests and went through The Drive Thru Tree, all very nice and then we drove and we drove and we drove. Twisting, turning, light, dark, light, dark, slow car, fast car, brake, brake, brake it was a wonder we didn't all get car sick. Miraculously we made it to Caspar Beach for another night's camping. Cue another food disaster, I forgot to mention the delicious bread and butter pudding which my husband tasted and was about to eat being the cause of his night hurls. As I looked at the pudding, I saw a tiny white patch of MOULD, I screamed "STOP" just as he was about to take a large bite, so upset stomach was narrowly avoided for a second night .

Safeway, pretty well known store to stop off at. We bought good donuts this time, choc chip cookies, and decided to buy some of their hot soup which they'd run out of but would warm some new stuff up for us. Great we thought, just what we need. We'd bought a stove with us but alas no pans or propane to light the stove. So excited about having found the campsite and it was fairly sheltered from the looks of things. We settled down to some dinner one spoonful of soup and it was stone cold. There was no way it had been heated up, it was so disappointing. So the husband went off and to his credit found a microwave and disaster was narrowly averted. When you are sleep deprived the smallest things can seem like crisis.
The road work began about 5, we could hear the sound of drilling in the distance. The sleep bandits were at it again but I was confident I could block it out. Exhausted we retired to our nylon tent, we'd also forgotten pillows and the makeshift towel pillow wasn't really making the grade if you know what I mean. In a moment of inspiration I took the detachable chair headrest and wrapped the towel around it, much better. I don't know what time it was when we started to hear strange sounds outside of the tent. "What's that ?" said the husband. "I think its someone throwing their trash out." I replied. The sounds continued and next thing I know my husband tells me, in a very serious tone. " There's a bear outside, open the tent and shine the light at it." Bear expert I am not, I am still at heart a city dweller and the thought of a flimsy bit of nylon being the only thing standing between me and a bear. Well, I was terrified. Still I stuck my trembling hand out of the tent and waved the light. I was officially done with camping at that point. My husband continued to strongly urge (read shout in a low voice) to wave the bloody light which I obviously was. The light trick having not worked the husband figured out it wasn't a bear and unzips the tent whilst I hold on to the dogs. We have raccoons, (where were the warnings!) in our sleep deprived haze we had left the donuts, chips and cookies out. The husband did some excellent hissing impersonations and threw rocks, a log, plastic bottle of water at our unwelcome friends. But still they came back again and again and again. The husband to his credit went out in his boxers and socks put everything in the car and threw some bigger rocks and finally they got the hint. Once they had left we could enjoy the sounds of the Seals honking at the beach. I am being sarcastic obviously! Sleep Bandits 2 Sleeping 0. I couldn't wait to get the tent down and get out the next morning, it was wet and cold. The raccoons also took a tupperware container with dog food in it. So sneaky.
Two nights of not sleeping and suddenly the ocean, well who cares its blue, ocean I'm over it. We decided we were going to get on the 101 as soon as we could so that we could actually make some distance. The locals were not altogether forthcoming in their direction giving. Something along the lines of head to Valley Forge and ask there for directions to Petaluma. As it was we found it just fine. Through Big Sur, no vacancies lots of trees, more winding. We would push on and stay in a motel. We didn't have the willpower to put the tent up again, we were weak, tired and in need of warmth. We passed one motel and then absolutely zip for about 40 miles a long time. We passed Hearst Castle. "Its a national tourist attraction there's has got to be some motels." I said hopefully. Miracle of miracles we found a motel and it took pets, we were going to sneak them in. The 20 pounder would have been easy enough, the 50 Pounder would have been a challenge but we walked them in, legally. Oh how we appreciated the beds and hot shower, we slept like babies. OK, so this motel stop wasn't without incident as I went to the car to grab some things in my pyjamas my Birkenstock made contact with a 1 inch tile ledge which sent me flying Superman style onto the cold, hard tiled floor. This fall follows the ice-cream trip in Big Lots where I landed on a shelving system which had I seen the Ice-cream I would have obviously avoided. Still, Sleeping 1 Sleep Bandits 2. Over the course of the journey home I talked a lot about Vanagons and other sleep/drive vehicles being a really good idea. There was some beautiful sights that we experienced but I know we have to plan more in the future. I won't be camping any time soon.

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