30 July 2018
Cornelia woke up pretending to be a teddy bear needing a cuddle this morning, which was a pretty good start to the day, and put smiles back on the faces of me and Ian. After showering and dressing, we were at breakfast for just after 09:00, and were thankfully too late for the pastries to still be available. It’s easier just to avoid temptation! Bugsy had a monstrous appetite and had a large bowl of Cheerios and two pieces of toast with jam, before declaring herself full.
Checkout wasn’t until 12:00, which meant we had a couple of hours to pack up and sort ourselves out. Although we were collecting our RV today, we had not actually booked anywhere to stay yet, and were suddenly acutely aware of how stupid it was not to have booked, when most of America was on holiday… Cornelia was allowed a bit of extra time on her FirePhone, and played with her Lego, while Ian and I investigated options. Eventually, we signed up for a campsite discount card via KOA (Kampsites of America) and booked two nights in Manchester (by-the-sea), although we couldn’t reserve anywhere just north of San Francisco for tonight. We decided to take our chances and head for Bodega Bay, and see if anything was free…
I finished sewing the badges onto the rucksack – they are slightly wonky, but hey, there’s nothing wrong with quirky! Who doesn’t love a jauntily angled badge…?!
We went downstairs for check out bang on midday, exactly as Cornelia remembered that there was a swimming pool and that I’d promised she could go that morning. Damn toddler doesn’t forget a thing! I said we could go very quickly (quietly hoping that the wind would still be too fierce and she’d decide against it), and just as she’d stopped crying at the thought she couldn’t go to the pool, so the Roadbear RV guy arrived to collect us. Oh dear…. all I can say is that I promised the driver she was usually quite delightful! She continued crying in the van, saying her new car seat was really hurting her, before FINALLY calming herself (completely unprompted) by taking a few deep breaths (or maybe a lot of deep breaths) then explaining to me that “sometimes when I’ve been crying for a long time, it’s really hard for my body to stop”! Oh, how I love her!
The journey to the RV pick up facility was nearly an hour long, and we were there for nearly two hours, filling in paperwork, waiting, filling in some more paperwork, and waiting some more, before finally being introduced to our motorhome – a 24 ft C Class RV. Whatever that means! Ian was shown how to use the water, electrics and sewer bits and bobs, while I continued signing paperwork, and tried to take in all the information about toll roads, grocery stores etc. There was also a stock shelf of other people’s unused goods, so I snaffled some olive oil, salt, brown sugar and a new book, and Ian selected a different (safer-looking) car seat for Bugsy, that would install her slightly higher up than our new minimalist seat, and had padding at the sides “just in case”.
We had once again missed lunch and it was beginning to take its toll on Cornelia, with her becoming slightly more frustrated at silly things more quickly than usual! Ian was doing the first stint in the RV – a short drive to the supermarket – where we were just intending to buy some food for lunch and dinner that day. Unfortunately two things happened. First, Cornelia had the most extraordinary meltdown at the entrance to the supermarket (because she wanted to get a trolly, but there weren’t any available). She sat in the doorway, refusing to move, screaming her head off and dribbling on the floor. Ian stood away from her outside, and I stood away from her inside. In the meantime, eight different people asked her if she was okay and where her parents were. Ian got a good old roasting from some woman for just letting her scream, and he very patiently managed to explain that she was perfectly fine, and that she was just hungry and behaving like a three old occasionally behaves. Then, all of a sudden, she stops crying, comes running in to me, throwing her arms around me and telling me that she was fine now. Bloody fickle toddlers!
Second, all of the fridges in Safeway were broken (apparently for the second time in as many weeks). This meant no milk, no cheese, no ham, no anything even remotely refrigerated. Cornelia survived on oat bars that we opened while moving through the store, and I tried as hard as I could to grab everything else we needed for the RV, so we wouldn’t have to do another shop. We managed to spend about $180 on totally random (non-refrigerated) food, but at least we bought a lot of beer!
We set off again, once we’d manoeuvred out of the car park, and trundled off slowly and very carefully towards Bodega Bay, where we were hoping to stop for the night. But nothing’s ever simple…! Ian and I were trying very hard not to fall out again, but the anxiety that comes with driving such a large vehicle along unfamiliar roads, and being the passenger and navigator, means that such fall outs are almost inevitable! Ours took the form of:
Me: What’s the name of the campsite we’re hoping to stay in tonight?
Ian: Bodega Dunes. But don’t put that in to the sat nav, as it doesn’t take us along Highway 1, which is the coast road we want to go along.
Me: Okay. What should I put in?
Ian: Stinson Beach
Me: Types “Stinson Beach” into sat nav. Oh, it’s not finding that. Do you know the street name?
Ian: Just put Stinson Beach anything in. There – Stinson Beach Visitors Bureau, that’ll do.
Me: Selects exactly that and presses Go.
An hour later, our sat nav states that we have now arrived at our destination. Which is absolutely nowhere near a beach. I check Google Maps. We are now 42 miles away from the actual Stinson Beach on the wrong side of San Francisco. Taking a deep breath, we shut down the sat nav, and rely on Google Maps on my iphone to guide us there. And what a hairy ride it was! I was so glad I wasn’t the one driving! We ended up going through the mountains, up spectacular but narrow, twisty, bendy roads and holding our breath as we squeezed past cars, trying not to hit trees either from the side or from above. To be fair to POI, he did a bloody good job. If it’d been me, I’d have ended up camping in the RV, back at the pick up place…
In the meantime, Bugsy had eaten three oat bars, and some grapes to keep her going, and was working her way through a banana when she fell asleep. Holding the banana. Needless to say, it didn’t end well! Having missed the most stunning coastline scenery, she finally woke up and I thought she’d eaten the rest of the banana, but as it turns out, she was just licking her banana-y fingers. We pulled over for her to go for a wee, which is where I discovered the banana squished under the thigh, stuck to the car seat and her brand new lilac jeans.
Having tidied up that mess, five minutes away from our campsite, she then suddenly burst into tears that she’d pooed herself, when she thought she was just doing a botty cough. Ian pulled over as quickly as he could, and I jumped out of my seat to deal with poo-gate. I won’t go into details, but miraculously, it wasn’t as bad as we’d all feared, and it was all tidied up and she was redressed quickly, ready for our final couple of miles.
We arrived at the Bodega Dunes, to be greeted by a “Campsite Full” sign. Uh oh… this wasn’t looking good! We had seen an RV park just a few minutes earlier, so turned back and pulled in there. The office was closed, but a notice informed us that if we’d arrived after 8pm (which we had), we could just park up in an empty pitch, enjoy our night’s rest, and register in the morning. And AMAZINGLY, there was an empty pitch!
As Ian tried to hook us up in the dark, I threw together an easy meal of pasta, pesto, tuna. Tick. Dinner was served! Cornelia was terribly excited about sleeping in her bunk above the driver’s cab, and eagerly went to bed with her two stories. Ian and I sat quietly at the table finishing our beers, before we heard a little “Mummy?! Will you come up for a cuddle?!” It is hard saying no to her, but I did indeed decline on the grounds that she should be asleep by now, and she could cuddle her Gang instead. She had a little cry, but within about five minutes, we could hear her gentle snore!