Tuesday, August 5, 2014

On the road

Last month, our little family of four flew out to San Francisco and rented an old VW camper van.  For just over a week, we puttered around to our hearts' content, not having much of a plan or any real notion of what we wanted to do.  Hubby and I agreed in advance it might be a complete blast or a total bust, but either way, it would be a good story.  The verdict:  it was heaven.  Who knew?

At first, the idea was to see the incomparable parks of California: Yosemite, Big Sur, Muir Woods…  Even two months out, it became obvious that everyone else had the same idea.  Campsites were fully booked.  The crowds were tremendous.  It wasn't for us.  Expanding the search showed that nearly every campsite in a four-hour radius from San Francisco was fully booked for weeks to come.  The trip was falling apart two months before it even started.  That's when we threw up our hands, remembered the whole idea of the camper van is to be free birds with no real plan, and decided to see what comes.  Hubby did manage to find a campsite for our first two nights at Lake Sonoma, just so we would have a destination on the first day.  The fates (and the weather, thankfully) colluded to give us the nicest, simplest, easiest family holiday we've had in a long, long time.

That little camper stripped us down to the essentials: each other, a few days' worth of clothing, some basic groceries (hot tea first thing in the morning for Mama!), and freedom.  There was surprisingly little cell phone reception along our route, so we really felt far from reality.  I was amazed at how rural, open and undeveloped most of the areas were along Route 1.  The scenery was fantastic.  Our girls were awesome, listening to music and audiobooks/stories on their noise-cancelling headphones as we drove (a must, we admit in that old VW).  Wading in the crystal-clear Russian River.  Sea-kayaking near Mendocino.  Camping on a horse ranch and enjoying a little horseback introduction in Bodega Bay.  Did I mention the amazing food everywhere we went?  We all want to go back, preferably now.

Get thee an old camper, friends.  Off you go!

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