Oh how can such a beautiful day go so wrong. It was such a crisp blue sky morning, so full of promise and hope. We were heading off to camp in a redwood state park, the forecast is set to be great and everyone is in a great cheerful mood as we headed west. We got going in mid-morning with light traffic as we headed south of Frisco. We crossed the Bay on the south end on the San Mateo Bridge and then headed over the coastal mountains. It was a good climb up on a 2 lane road and just as we reached the peak…….the traffic stopped. All the way down was creep, creep, creep for about 5 miles. Boy I would rather have creeped up than try to slow this thing down going down. Oh well, it was a beautiful Sunday and everyone was heading for the beach, as we were. As we pulled into the little burg of Half Moon Bay we saw some sort of festival was going on so that caused the delay. Once we hit the coastal highway traffic wasn’t too bad. There are a lot of beaches all along the coast and all the parking lots were full so we didn’t attempt to pull into any. We finally pulled over at an informal wayside and walked down to a stretch of beach with a lot of rocks and about 2 dozen sea lions lazing away on them. We ate some lunch and hit the road again. Then the fun started. Gypsy (our GPS) told us to hang a left since we had to head inland to get to the park. We pulled over to discuss the situation. The normal route would have been to go thru Santa Cruz and then inland. However with all the traffic we thought “what the heck, a shortcut.” Well we had to climb back up into the coastal mountains again. So up, up and up we went on a very twisty turny road. After about 8 miles Gypsy said to turn right on Ice Cream Grade (I thought she said I Scream Grade.) Just before the turn a guy in a little convertible sports car flagged us down. He said “if you’re thinking of going down Ice Cream Grade pulling that (pointing at the trailer), I’d strongly advise against it.” “Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaay”, said I, “since I don’t have a damn clue where I’m going and neither does anyone else in this truck, tell me more.” So he did. He said he was a local and had a fifth wheel and he just wouldn’t go that way to get to Henry Cowell ST. Pk. because it is too steep and narrow. So he started talking and describing and gesturing. So I said whoa how about making a map. So we gave him pen and paper and he started drawing. But then I made the mistake of getting out of the truck to stand by him. So instead of drawing he started talking again and was just doodling with the pen. When all was said and done the only thing I knew for sure was that I needed to turn left right in front of me. Otherwise he described so many buildings and intersections and businesses that my head was spinning. Here is what he needed to say to me, “turn left here, go to stop sign and turn left, at Highway 9 turn right.” End of story. But he didn’t and off we went. By and by we came to a stop sign, hmmmm do we go left or straight? The map doesn’t have a stop sign on it. Hey, let’s ask this biker. Biker says just go straight and you’ll run right into Felton and the park is right outside of it. So straight we went. Wasn’t long before we realized this probably wasn’t the way the guy was telling us about. OOOOH BOOOYYY. Down, down, down and narrow and windy, tranny locked in low, diesel screaming, branches hanging down slapping the trailer, Barb and riders freaking out, 180 degree switchbacks where I took up the entire road. I finally screeched to a halt in a little pulloff to let traffic by and relax my white knuckles and let the passengers breathe again when who should appear but our direction giver. He pulled in front of us with his sports car, got out and sauntered back. “Well” he says “this is one way to get there.” “Wrong turn?” says I. “Yup” says he. “Oh well, I think you’ll make it, just watch out because the road narrows a bit and there are some sharp corners ahead.” “What the hell” I’m thinking, “road narrows and sharp corners ahead!” What the hell does he think we’ve been driving on so far, a freeway? “Good luck” he says as he roars away in his little sports car and we roundly curse him for his “helpfulness.” Sheesh we figured, if he’s just out for a Sunday drive maybe he could have just led us on the best route into Felton right at the beginning. Well, let’s just say he was right. The road narrowed and the 180 degree switchbacks got tighter and more traffic was coming up and there were rock cliffs on the inside of the switchbacks that it felt like just wanted to reach out and touch someone.
But oh thank goodness, eventually there it was, a stoplight and the little town of Felton on flat ground. Whew!! Everybody said!!!
Ok, let’s get to the campground. Let’s see, we’re on Highway 9 and he said just go down 9 and you’re there. No signs for the park as we expected so we’ll just ask somebody. Yup, the guy says straight down the road to the park. So on we drive and there it is, a great big redwood log with the park name carved on the side. As we drive in Susan (who had camped here before) says “this doesn’t look familiar.” We pulled up to the entrance station, I shut off the truck with relief and said we want to camp. The lady very nicely said “this isn’t the campground, you have to go back the way you came about 4 miles.” (&*&^^%%^*!*&^%@@%&!(* and blankety blank to boot says I. No, not really but come on, all the people we asked and nobody said the main park attraction and the campground are not at the same place.
So we drove back thru the town of Felton, hung a right and drove up and up a couple miles until we found the campground. We checked in and drove to the site that Susan had made reservations for, a site that was supposed to accommodate a 32’ fifth wheel trailer. The campground roads were narrow and the trees were tight. We got to our site and quickly realized it wouldn’t work, too narrow to get the slides out. So the ladies decided to walk the CG and find a more suitable site while Tim and I went back to fill the water tank which we forgot to do as we entered. After hooking up the hose I decided I should take a gander at the roof to make sure none of those branches did anything up there. So up the ladder I climbed and upon reaching the roof, much to my complete surprise (no that ain’t right), in shocking disbelief (nope not right either), to my udder horror with a squishy knot stirring dragon poison right in the pit of my stomach (that about describes it) I saw that something had scraped down the corner of the roof almost the entire length of the trailer. Ya see on this trailer the transition between the roof plywood and the fiberglass walls there is a rounded piece of aluminum called a radius. Figure about the roundness of a gallon paint can on its side. Well that sucker warn’t round nomore. It was squashed flat with chunks of bark scraped along it and the vinyl roof cover just punched full of holes. I’m not sure what exact words came out of my mouth but I’ll tell you this, all my thoughts were “how the hell am I going to tell Barb that we need to have ANOTHER new roof put on?????????” Oh Lawd have mercy on this poor heathen.
So Barb and Susan come back all cheerful and happy as they found some nice campsites while Tim and Bruce were, ahem, a little glum. So I took Barb and said lets walk back and look at the campsites. After I told her what I found and she finally stopped saying “you’re kidding, right?” she took it pretty well. Though I had to stop her from calling our realtor and halting the sale on our house. After we got settled into our campsite and I got Tim to stop berating himself because he hadn’t brought better maps as we assumed it had happened on that rotten road; and stopped Susan for berating herself for bringing us to this campground; and stopped Barb from wanting to drive the whole works off a cliff; I had some rum.
Once the world took on a much rosier glow we could discuss this really fairly minor incident and put it in perspective. Nobody died. Nobody got waterboarded or cattle prodded. Nor did anyone have to stand naked while a 20 year old girl held onto a leash tied around our neck. And none of us certainly did not have a relative in Texas whose middle initial was W. So things could be a lot worse. But we passed a fairly quiet night.
The next morning we called our insurance agent, again, explaining we needed a new roof, again. Shortly after, we received a call saying we needed to take it to an RV dealer and have them do an estimate. So we got on the internet (it’s kinda nice having internet everywhere we have phone service) and found a Cameo dealer near Livermore. Arrangements were made to have an estimate done on Thursday. Now Barb and I were trying to decide how best to work the repairs. The last roof took over a month because of waiting for parts. Out first thought was to take it back to the factory in northern Indiana on the way home so I tried to call there but couldn’t get the guy I needed. The dealer I talked to doing the estimate said he could have a roof here in 3 days and have it done in 1. Hmmm, we’ll see.
Anyway when the phone calls were done my brain told me I should walk the route we drove thru the campground and just have a gander at things. None of us heard a thing when it happened so we had no clue where it happened. We just assumed on that tight road. Luckily I did not have to walk far, 200 yards from our site I found the culprit. Many of the trees in the CG are Live Oaks and they are the crookedest growing trees imaginable. This one was about 12” in diameter and was twisted around and growing at an angle across the road. It had a very fresh scuff mark on the bottom right where I would have come around a corner and drove under it. Damn, damn, damn.
Here’s how it happened. After we rejected our assigned campsite and drove away we came to an intersection, right or left. Had we gone right we wouldn’t have gone under the tree, but left looked easier according to the campground map so left we went. It was just Tim and I in the truck and as it was in the high 80’s (unusually warm for this time of year) the AC was on and windows were up. As we proceeded down this narrow road (about 15’ wide asphalt and it is a 2-way road) I came to a tee and had to make a right turn. The turn was more than 90 degrees and there was a row of garbage cans across the intersection that would prevent me from swinging the truck out as far as I wanted to. As I was turning I was watching the left front of the truck to miss the garbage cans and watching the trailer tires in the right door mirror to make sure they were coming around the corner on the asphalt since trailers do not go where the truck does. By the time the trailer was sure to clear the corner I may have looked up, or not, but the tree would have been above the truck and I couldn’t have seen it anyway. Had Barb been in the truck she may have spotted it as she is “trained” to always be looking up in campgrounds. But who knows, it sure wasn’t Tim’s fault cause he didn’t know how high we were. Anyway we drove under it and neither of us heard a thing or felt a thing. We only drove a short ways further to the water spigot and the rest is history.
Well, once having been a Gubmint worker myself, and even spent a stint working in a state park campground, I knew the gubmint shouldn’t oughta let trees grow over roads in such a manner that unsuspecting touri (like me) could hit. So I got a hold of Ricky Ranger. Man these park ranger boys out here carry mighty big guns, so I was nice. I told him I didn’t think his tree should of bit my trailer like it did. He wasn’t impressed. After taking all the pertinent information he gave me a letter explaining how if I feel the State of California had wronged me to call this number and they would arrange an arm wrestling match with their governor, winner take all. No not really, more like “just try to get money out of us sucker, all you’ll get is an IOU and we’ll make you pay for the printing of it” type statement. So who knows but I’ll sure try to get at least my deductible back. I told the guy he should get that tree cut out of there as mine wasn’t the first scar. He just shrugged.
So after all that excitement in the heat of the day, and boy was it a hot day. Hit 90 and somewhat humid so we just plain old lazed the day away sitting in the shade. After a while we cheered up a bit, played a game and cooked up some good grub. It was a nice warm evening to sit around and that shot the day.