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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Our very first trip . . .

(Photos available, right mouse click on the post title and select, "open in a new window" )

Having lost all faith in our local Airstream dealer, we purchased Salt from Sky River RV in Paso Robles, California, in January 2011.  Paso Robles is a good 5 plus hour drive from Laguna, incidentally covering some of my favorite California countryside-- especially if you take 101, but a long drive none-the-less.  

To set the scene just a little:  Prior to this trip, we had only rented a trailer (Dubbed Mrs. Dash [salt substitute]) for two weeks over Christmas.  We had never rv'd or trailer'd before.  We have a lot to learn--

We decided to drive up Friday night and stay in Pismo Beach then get Salt first thing Saturday morning (including our two-hour introductory "walk-through".)  On our way to Pismo, we wanted to check out some RV sites as possible stopping points on the way back.  We drove to the ocean and found Oceano Dunes where the patient park attendant explained that yes, really, you can drive right down on the sand.  Yes, even with a trailer.  Yes, even for an overnight.  So we paid $5 and drove out with Pepper that night to check it out.  What a great scene!  You can drive for miles along the ocean--fantastic!  So we decided that Saturday we would pick up Salt and return for our first night on the 'Dunes.

We overnight-ed Friday in a small motel - beggars can't be choosers when you are traveling with two terriers.

Picked up Salt at 10 the next morning, did our walk-through, wrote the check, and headed out around 1:00 p.m.  Back to Oceano Dunes!

We paid our fee again (I think this time, since we were staying the night, we paid slightly more--maybe $20) and proceeded to pull Salt onto the sand.  We crossed the small estuary with bated breath, splashing salt and sand on our baby's new skin - but that was nothing compared to what was ahead.

We drove down the beach for a few miles looking for an out of the way place.  Found one and drove up into the sand a bit to ensure that we would not be caught when the tide came in.  Drove up into soft sand.  Tried to turn around and the wheels just kept spinning.  Deeper and deeper the Pepper went into the sand.  We would get out and shovel the sand away from the wheels (with frisbees) and try again and again.  Sometimes cramming the frisbees under the front wheels in an attempt to gain some traction.  The park warden was parked comfortably up on a dune watching, undoubtedly joyfully, as the newbies in their fancy rig proceeded to bury their first vehicle up to it's axle in the sand, while covering the second with the splatter.

Frustrated, stressed and scared as the sun was hanging low in the horizon.  (This near sun-setting time is a hard time for me.  I tend to get very antsy if I don't know where I am going to sleep--happens when we are backpacking too.  I really need to be parked and/or tented by the time the sun starts to set or a I freak out a little.)  So I am freaking out a little over the sun's position and we are both freaking out that we look like fools and are afraid we are damaging our new shiny toy.  And we are hungry.  And it's past sun-downer time.  And I am sure the dogs were whining to get out.

After about 20 minutes of this, a nice couple pulled up in a Dodge 350 or something like that.  He asked if we would like a tug out.  Thankfully, Alan had just read about a tool in the Pepper that is used to create a tow-hold in the front of the car--otherwise I fear we wouldn't have been able to tell him where we could tie up.  So Alan put in the tool, we hooked up to the Dodge, and in about two and a half seconds, this nice stranger pulled the Pepper and the Salt up onto hard sand.  

We have met some of the nicest people out rv'ing -- and, by the way, they are much more quiet at night than any hotel (5 star or otherwise) in which I have ever stayed.  But back to the story . . . 

Being almost completely stressed out now (and exhausted physically from all the digging), we were tempted to re-cross the estuary and hit some pavement for our first night.  But Alan, ever the more adventuresome of us, convinced me we could stay.  But this time, I walked up to higher ground testing the sand before we drove into our final spot.  

Our background photo on the main page is that spot.  What a great night.  We built a fire, made the bed for the first time, and enjoyed our sun-downers even if just a little late.  

I could hardly sleep I was so concerned about the tide coming in.  But awoke in the morning to the lovely sign of the high-water mark about 10 feet from our fire ring.

The adventure began . . .