Thursday, July 05, 2007


Lingering on the edge of something

Sunglasses?  Check.  Camera?  Check.  Really pale skin needing a tan?  Check!

When my mom and I picked up the RV on Saturday, there was a pesky little notation in the rental agreement, saying that one had to be 25 to drive the behemoth.

This was news to my mom, who had checked no fewer than three times with the tour guide woman ("Incompetent Nancy") to make sure that I could drive, because there was no way that she would be doing all the driving in that thing.  Apparently I.Nancy & Co don't work on weekends, and no one was picking up at the emergency toll-free number.

Things weren't going so well in the rental office - Arnie, the German RV guy, wasn't budging, my mom was seeing her plans of a perfect vacation slipping away.  I looked across the street and saw a taco joint, and offered up a plan that included going over there for some lunch to kill time and wait for I.Nancy to call us back (yes, I concocted a plan that involved Mexican food.  It was that bad.).  To my relief, my mom shot it down.  I asked Arnie to keep a copy of my license, just in case things worked out with the insurance, and we went outside to meet our home for the week.

It was nice.  Brand spanking new.  Even smelled new on the inside, which was a relief later that night when I plopped my head on the bed.  After the orientation, a pit stop at the local buy-in-bulk grocery, and rolling over a few curbs, we were on the road.

Which wasn't as scary as I had been anticipating.  Margaret had warned me of Pacific Highway 1, with "no guard rails" and "really steep curves."  Pssh.  Surely she had been exaggerating.  Afterall - who makes a really narrow road on the side of a cliff?  Pure tomfoolery.  Those West Coast alarmists!

Well, one hour into the drive, I had accepted that the fact that I was going to die.  It was going to be tragic, and it was going to be sad, but it was unavoidable.  It was just going to happen, and that's the way it was.  I would occasionally glance at my mom, and check to see if she was as nervous as I was.  She seemed to be fine, totally in control as we rocketed into the turnoffs, breaking and skidding over gravel, so that cars behind us could pass.  I tried to remain limp, remembering that old tale about how drunks survive more accidents because their muscles are loose.

And for the record, she wasn't driving too fast, or irresponsibly.  I think anything would have been too fast for a passenger looking over those turns, seeing the blue of the Pacific below me, and the narrow, narrow little piece of pavement keeping me from sleeping with the fishes.

The first night passed without incident, remarkably.  The second day, we went kayaking with a nice Californian guide named Andrew (who turned out to be, oh, the only male I spoke to the entire trip.  If I had known that beforehand...).  Since it was just me and my mom in one kayak (picture that mess), and him in the other, we went at a relaxing pace...we came within barking distance of sea lions, almost broke coast guard rules about proximity to sea otters, and paddled through kelp.  It was amazing, and renewed my desire to finish my SCUBA certification.

On the way back to the beach, we stopped at a wall where all these sea creatures cling, loving life.  Or something.  As the front (hull?) of our kayak kept whacking the wall, scraping off barnacles and sea shiznit (followed by an "oops!" from me each time), Andrew kept exclaiming from 10 yards behind us about critters he found.  I kept grabbing at sea stars...or star fish, to you ignoramuses...but kept missing.  Finally, I got one.  It was ugly, but hell, beggars can't be choosers.

My mom took a pic.  And said, "You better not let Andrew catch you with one of those."  So, as the hull kept scraping the darn cement, I tried to stick the sea star back to the wall.  I pushed, and it didn't grab.

As it floated down, majestically, slowly, and somewhat ominously, I casually asked Andrew, "So, um, do sea stars know how to swim?"

They don't.  They just climb.  Sucks for the sea star, but I guess one could look at this as a metaphor for life, and not as a tale of a mean landlubber.  Right?

More of driving on Highway 1.  More of accepting death as an inevitable afternoon excursion. After a couple of hours, we pull into the second campground of the trip, and the sandy-haired ranger, with the big glasses, and the big smile, welcomed us to his stomping grounds.  He said, "Okay, you can relax now!  You can breathe easy!"

Since I've had way too many times in my life when I've looked back and thought "There was distinct foreshadowing there.  Should have seen that train wreck coming," I've learned to recognize it when it comes chugging along.  But I kept my premonitions to myself.  No need to be a Debbie Downer.

We found our site, and there was a car parked in it.  The sketchy looking couple that belonged to the car were posing at the lake, so I ran down there to be the pushy biatch, and asked them to move their car.  "Like, um, now?"  So he was pulling out and right, my mom was pulling forward and left, and there was a new character in this stageshow, a minivan that was seemingly insistent on passing my mom while she was trying to back up.

She swung forward.  Went in reverse, as I directed, and she got sorta stuck between a tree and a rock.  She did some more maneuvering, and pulled forward.  I thought, kinda fast.  No need for bravado!

As she backed up, I heard a crack coming from up above.  Some leaves fell.  A little boy at the next campsite shouted in joy.  She pulled forward, and onto the road.  About, oh, 12 feet high, a big chunk was missing from the tree.  I stared at the RV, halted in the road.  Looked at the tree, heard the little boy say "Look!! She hit the treeeeeee!" and his mom angrily (embarrassed?) snapping back, "So what?! Do you find that to be entertainment?"

Well, if he didn't, I'm sure he found what happened next to be quite entertaining.  The RV was stopped, then it started rolling forward.  Then it stopped again.  So I decided to jog after it.  I just about reached it, and my mom pulled ahead, and stopped at an intersection.

I jogged up to it again, and just as I reached her, she sped off.


Accepting defeat, I walked back to our site and sat on the picnic bench, pondering life. Eventually (after what seemed like a very long time and made me start considering myself in terms of "the abandoned child") my mom came back, and she reversed without incident. Clambering on top of the RV, I said that it didn't seem to be thaaat bad. Just, you know, dented.  Totally fixable.

So, she made dinner in the RV kitchen, and we ate it, after lighting our Duraflame log in the firepit.  We sat around the firepit in camping chairs, I drinking beer, my mom drinking wine. While making small talk and basically just chilling out and trying to not tally the damage, a female ranger came around the corner of the RV.

here is the conversation:
ranger:  Hello ladies, are those your pink flamingos?
my mom:  why yes, they are!
ranger:  ... do you know what poison oak looks like?

this, ladies and gentlemen, is what poison oak looks like:

Good story meg! I hope there's more to come.

Oh Meg.

I LOVE Hwy 1!!!! It's GORGEOUS! Amazing! Beautiful! Oh it's like my favorite road... sigh. I'm sooo jealous!

Sounds like a fun time that you and your mom are going to be talking about for a LONG time :-)
rem: I think there will be! depends on my blogging mood :-)

tc: yup! it was definitely a trip for the ages :-)
Yeah, I know how that blogging mood can be. I've been horrible the past year or so.
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