Monday, August 30, 2010

What's Shakin'

My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past weekend. A remarkable achievement for them and a delicious (can't keep Mom from cooking, even for 50 guests) dinner for our family and friends down in Los Angeles.

Rather than whizzing down I-5 in our Honda Pilot, it was my fabulous idea to take the Sunrader, stopping at Pismo Beach for an overnight on the way down and camping at the beautiful Malibu RV park for the night following the party.

That was a lot of driving. Again. You'd think I'd learn.

We took Hwy 101 from the Bay Area to Pismo Beach on Friday afternoon. 101 is still in much better condition than I-5, and the gently winding trip down through Salinas and Paso Robles is much more picturesque to boot. While it is a longer trip, it is far more forgiving on the kids riding over the 1-ton axle in the back.

We arrived about 10pm at the Oceano South campground at Pismo. Set just behind the dunes, the site is pancake flat and wide open, but makes up for it with the fact that the beach is just a short walk away down a sandy trail. And leveling the rig using just the rear airbags is pretty awesome too, especially since we arrived late.

As noted, we pulled into Oceano around 10pm, leveled and brushed teeth, then went to bed. The kids had already been snoozing on the back bed anyway, so it was a relatively (not too much wrestling required) smooth process to get to sleep.

Bright and early Saturday morning we were up. Beth and I grabbed a quick walk to see the beach before getting the kids set with bagels and brewing a pot of coffee. With a couple of hours in the rig to go before a planned trip to the beach and on to my parents house, we had to hustle (though we did manage a stop for a 'proper' coffee on the way out of town).

One of the always wonderful parts of any adventure in the Sunrader is the people you meet on the road. Lucky for us (ok, for me) this trip was no different. As we passed the big rock at the Ventura county line on Hwy 1, I spotted the supercamper. Wow. Ryan and Holly have a very cool little rig, completely home made. Ryan graciously gave me a tour of the coach, which in every way represents the comfortable practicality of a professionally engineered design. Unlike the particleboard cabinets of the Sunrader, the Supercamper is made entirely of Nida Core honeycomb laminate. In person the exterior and interior of the Supercamper is slick and clean, and I'm sure with the fiberglass and aluminum joins they used it will be solid for a good long time.

We took the opportunity for lunch overlooking the ocean. The Pacific is stunningly beautiful north of Malibu, with little in the way of buildings or civilization. The view at the big rock is among the more beautiful of this part of the coast.

My parent's 50th was a lovely evening, and afterwards we trucked back up into Malibu to the RV park. The view off the back of our campsite was fantastic, even at 10pm, and the hookups were well sorted and well taken care of. Off to sleep in a new town.

Morning in Malibu was beautiful. Opening the rear windows to see the calm ocean, a few kayakers going by as the mist lifted over the ocean, and within a few minutes hummingbirds on the red flowers of the hedgerow behind the rig.

A perfect morning to lay about, make breakfast and just enjoy the view. And from the park it is a short hike down the hill to the beach too... so tempting.

But we were committed to breakfast back down in Pacific Palisades so it was a quick up and shower (smokin hot water, yeah!) before disconnecting and driving the 20 minutes back south. Breakfast with my parents was wonderful, so well worth it. Oh, and the Charlie Mackenzie inspired coffee cups (the size of my head) didn't hurt a bit.

So what's shakin?
On the way back, Beth offered to drive. We took I-5 to try and shave some time off the journey. It had been a ton of driving to grab two meals with family down in LA, so we were a little anxious to get home. Duncan opted for shotgun for part of the trip, so I took a place in the back. That gave me a chance to see what all moves around and makes a racket while we're cruising down the highway. The Sunrader is pretty quiet on a smooth road, which would be fine if we lived someplace where they actually DO road maintenance. But California is the land of the pothole monsters, so I-5 has sections with massive distortions in the aging concrete plates. Fine in the 2004 Honda Pilot unit-body SUV, but kaBOOM in the old 1990 1-Ton Toyota.

The rear cabinet that houses the kitchen sink and stove is, alas, done for. The whole thing shivers and rattles too much, and a good jolt makes it come to life like an excited cartoon character. The old particle board wasn't good when it was new, and now it is distorted and weak enough that I don't see much alternative to building a whole new cabinet.

So now in the off hours I daydream about cabinet design. And of course, if I'm replacing THAT cabinet, it would be smart and simple to replace the face boards underneath the seats in the back of the coach. They're just as old and worn out as the cabinet and, really, it wouldn't take much to cut new ones and it will be much easier to do with the kitchen cabinet out... Now about the cabinet for the refrigerator...

Maybe I just want a project for the off season... that could be it.

And next time, for a down and back like that, we'll take the Honda.

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