One train, an Amtrak coach & two buses & bit of a walk later we arrived at the depot & began our introduction to what we loving called Big Bertha. Although in RV terms it was probably amongst one of the smallest it suited our needs perfectly.
Given our schedule sadly we had to leave smog bound Seattle for another day & head North towards Everett to collect our home for the next couple of weeks. The smoke that had enveloped the city didn’t really dissipate until we had traveled for many miles such were the fires that were raging in the region at time.
Based on my previous trip I had suggested a trip to a supermarket to stock up on the essentials such as tea bags (I’m a Brit & I can generally move mountains providing I’ve had a cuppa). Then we set off in search of a wild camp site that I had located using a website that shared such info. I was nominated first to drive & so cautiously pulled our wagon on to the trail that I had set.
Whilst not really much longer than the previous camper I had driven it took a bit of getting used to no rear mirror. Still as the miles rolled by we chatted & listened to music whilst dear old google maps kept us on course. Turning off the main road we headed towards Icicle Creek Road in search of the wild camping site but as the track up the mountain started to run out of tarmac I began to have my doubts of locating it. Given sun was rapidly sinking & the road was becoming narrower doing what felt like a 97 point turn in the van seemed our best option.
Heading back down I was inwardly panicking a little over stuffing up the trip on the first day. With the prospect of having to park on the side of the road when we almost cheered when we rolled up towards what turned out to be a National Camp site. Not really knowing exactly what it was but with darkness imminently upon us this seemed worth exploring. Jackpot! For $19 we could park up and rest easy we were not transgressing some unknown law against camping on a roadside.
We followed the instructions hung the ticket in the van & we laughed as we considered all the events of the day. More hilarity ensued as we tried to sort one of the beds by converting the dining table. This involved first strong arming the reluctant central support before making it finally clicked into place then trying to assemble the random legs & cushions into place. Bed made we both secretly prayed that by the end of the trip we would have nailed this process down to a slick routine. Being shorter I had opted to sleep above the cab so I just had to throw the sheets & quilt aloft before climbing ninja style up to my bunk.
Darkness fell & the woodland was remarkably quiet except for the rustle of the trees overhead and the odd chipmunk that decided to use the van roof as a trampoline.
Next day the sun was shining the smog that had followed us from Seattle started to lift & we were greeted by a beautiful view of the mountains.
The Ranger called by for a chat & we discovered that campsites such as these were dotted around and so we determined we would make use of this type of facility if possible.
Once on the open road we started to relax into the trip a bit & enjoy the scenery as we meandered along the road through the state of Washington. We took a day or two but kept to schedule as we had deadline to make in Boulder, Montana.
A colleague at work said ahh forget Glastonbury & go with her to The Burning Man Event. Totally gabbed by this wild idea but unsure if a wind up I sounded her out when we were next on shift together.
Turns out she wasn’t joking which triggered a set of actions in motion that resulted in the booking of a motorhome & flights. Ahgast at the prospect of shelling out $1600 upfront for tickets we decided to play the official ‘lottery system’ where they would be around $500. Given the event is in Nevada it seemed sort of appropriate to take a gamble but we sadly played & lost due impart to a shaky internet connection. So with Plan A dead in the water so to speak we needed an alternative. Armed with my faithful Google maps I scuttled back to the virtual drawing board & came up with Plan B.
Colleagues at work were watched & listened somewhat agog at the unfolding plans possibly a little sceptical that we would actually carry them out. We ran the gauntlet of jibes re Thema & Louise etc but we just smiled enigmatically & firmed up the details of our oddessy.
Given we had never been on vacation together it may have seemed to some a little mental to sign up for the best part of 3 weeks in a camper van but we were game to give it a go. Turns out we were really on the same page for road tripping & as we made our way airport we found much to chat and laugh about that set the tone for the whole journey.
The last leg of the 3079 mile road trip involved driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles which involved a lot of driving mainly along the Highway 5.
I had planned the route using Google maps which had been calculated as 3000 miles the difference as it turned out was the unscheduled trips to the ferry terminal in San Francisco. I was duly impressed with the fact that this was incredibly accurate essential if keeping to a daily milage limit & an indication that we had not got lost en route!
Until this point we had many avoided the main roads preferring the more scenic routes but time & distance dictated the need to use the most direct means of returning to the camper & getting the flight home.
My daughter drove the first part leaving me to take over and navigate the intense traffic in LA. While she was at the wheel it allowed me to watch the world go by & mull over whether I had learned anything on our sojourn.
As it happened quite a lot of things had crossed my mind as we had roamed around. I had come to the conclusion that whilst it was fun to hang out with those much younger than me. However whilst it was immensely flattering when a young guy at the festival started dancing with me having told me he ‘loved my dance moves’ it merely reaffirmed my desire to remain young at heart not turn the clock back.
I admit to being a little taken aback at my new capacity to scrutinise some long held beliefs & revise my view point of view. It requires a degree of strength to tap into your inner self, hold your hands up & then admit to yourself that you may have been wrong or misguided. This is however a very liberating experience perhaps should be something that wider society would do well to embrace from time to time?
Personally I found the less judgemental approach of the ‘Millennials’ to be refreshing. Especially as facing impending early retirement I was finding the prospect of being ghettoised into the role of ‘pensioner’ or ‘senior’ or indeed any other of such similar terms to be deeply troubling. However it was on the second road trip of 2018 that the kernel of the idea to set up this blog started to formulate.
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