September 17, 2010

Labor Day camping trip

Our Labor Day camping trip was . . . a very fun trip with some craziness thrown in. I guess that's the best way to describe it.

As usual, we waited til the last minute to plan this trip so the weekend before Labor Day we were calling and trying to find a camp site that had 3 openings. Ya, not a great plan. Everything was full. After 14 calls made by our friend Marty, we finally found a spot. It has a "live-in" area up front and then camping in the back. Here is all the fun and craziness that happened:


We left at about 1:30 to make the 4 hour drive. When we arrived at the camp site we were shocked at the living conditions of the "live-in" section. Holy Cow! How can people live like that? I have no clue! It looked like a place where camping trailers went to die and the people forgot to move out. It was horrible - it was so dirty, the trailers couldn't possibly have moved in decades, and so much junk packed around them, it was gross. In a daze, we drove to the camping area, which was actually nice. We set up camp and Kurt said "lets drive around and find another place." So we did but we couldn't find anywhere with openings because, duh, it's Labor Day. So it was this or go home. We decided this would have to do. Marty and Lorraine arrived later that night. There was a "neighborly dispute" in the middle of the night and was fun to listen to!


The kids found this cool tree that they could climb and get to the top of. They felt like they were on top of the world - even though it wasn't that far off the ground.

We went to Caprillo Lighthouse. It had a really cool trail to follow.

Our goal:
(Nice job Lorraine catching the light)
Along the way we found 4 deer in the grass. Can you see 2?
We also found some fun trees to play in.
Ah, we made it!
So much fun!
While the dads took the older kids down exploring the ocean, the moms sat with Alyson by the lighthouse. There was this chipmunk/squirrely thing that was not afraid of people AT ALL! We thought Alyson was actually going to touch him a couple of times.
When the kids came back, they had to play with him too.
Of course, we didn't let anyone touch him but it was fun to see how close he would actually come if you held still.

Oh, and we saw a snake! GROSS!
Nik touched it!
This cute little house used to be the lighthouse keepers house. You can rent it for a vacation rental if you want. I think that would be fun to stay out by the lighthouse.
Then we went back to camp and waited for April (Kurt's sister) and Rick to arrive. The guys went down and found out info about renting kayaks. We put the kids to bed early and the adults stayed up talking - it was so fun! We laughed so hard! It was a great time!


Kurt and Marty went down at 7 am to get the kayaks for later in the day. Then we went to the Botanical Gardens. It was beautiful! In the gardens they had a lot of metal sculptures. You can pick up this bad boy for a mere $64,800! We thought about getting it but decided it didn't fit in with our landscaping style!
Along the trail was a Fairy Garden. Kids could go in and create fairy homes with natural things - bark, sticks, twigs, flowers, rocks, etc.; whatever they found laying on the ground. They had a great time playing in there.

The flowers were unbelievable! We took so many pics of flowers but here are just a few:

Strong daddy!
Daddy and his girls!
We followed the trail all the way out to the ocean. Family pics:

Marty, Lorraine, Nik and Ally
And you know this cute, wind-blown, stuffing-food-in-our-face (thanks Evan) family:
Margo (Kurt's sister), Greg, Josh, Tyler and Sierra arrived at lunch time. After lunch we went to Van Damm State Park to do some kayaking. It was so fun! We found caves not far from the beach and they were so fun to explore! No one was brave enough to take their camera out into the ocean so unfortunately we don't have any pics of the caves!

Tyler and Josh:
Marty and Nik
Josh & Tyler in the far kayak. Margo, Sierra and Greg in the green kayak in the middle. And Marty and Nik in the kayak on the right.
Rick and Kurt:
There they go!


Sunday was April's birthday and Margo was so smart - she made cupcakes and brought them along! Happy birthday Auntie April!
Hanging out at the campsite. Notice the power cord? Can't go camping without the laptop!
Evan and Cody - a boy and his dog!
April, Rick and Margo's family all left Sunday at lunch time. It was so sad to see them go! We had such a great time with everyone!

Now this is where the trip takes a crazy turn. It seemed like one thing after another kept happening. The last 30 hours were . . . memorable!

We (us and Marty and Lorraine) decided to drive up north to see the redwood trees. The road was so windy (pronounced with a long "i"; as in curvy)! We never get carsick but we all had to pull over at one point because all our tummies were not feeling good. It was crazy but no one got sick!

After we made it through the crazy road we saw a sign for a drive-thru tree. You gotta do that, right? So we followed the signs, paid the fee and then discovered there was a really lllloooonnnnggg line! We had to be at least 60 cars back! And there was no getting out once you were in - one lane road only. So we waited . . .
and waited . . .
and waited . . .
And finally, FINALLY, between 1.5 - 2 HOURS later we made it to the tree! YES!

Except our big trucks wouldn't fit in it so we had to back up and pretend!

Marty fit his backend in!
There was no hope of even getting our backend in because of the rack Kurt has on his truck so we just got as close as we could. Here is one shot. Kurt had to get the logos in there! We can right this off as a business expense now, right?
Closer up:
Gotta take one with the dog!
After the tree, we were hungry! So we found a small town on the way to The Avenue of the Giants. There may or may not have been an incident while dining where I . . . um, I mean, someone ended up in tears. Combo of exhaustion and stress combusted and it wasn't fun for anyone. We pushed through and found our way to "The Avenue". The dads really wanted to see a giant tree so we kept driving til we found it:
And it was BIG!
Now we had to turn around and drive back. Because we had made a lot of little stops along the way, we didn't realize how far we had gone. Turns out we now had a 2 hour drive ahead of us and we were TIRED and it was late! Oh, and if you don't know - Kurt and I don't drive good at night - AT ALL! But you gotta do what you gotta do, so we drove.

And then we came to the windy part of the road. Remember how I said we don't get carsick? Ya, I was wrong. Pour Evan got sick all over the place; the boy gave us no warning. So picture this: it's dark, we are on a very windy road with no shoulders and he is throwing up all over him and Kayla (ya, she freaked!), he's crying, she's crying. It was lovely. We had no choice but to stop in the middle of the road and hope no one came flying around the corner. We cleaned everyone up the best we could and drove to try to catch up to Marty (they had wipes in their truck). They had pulled over to wait for us, not knowing what happened to us. We caught up to them and pulled everyone out of the truck and clean up the best we could and drove the rest of the way with the windows down.

We made it back to camp without further incident and went straight to bed!


We got up, cleaned up camp and headed out. We usually follow Marty because, well, he is just a faster driver and we tend to be slower so it just usually works out that we follow him. We stopped for gas in a town and it just happened that we got in front of Marty. And what a blessing that was! We were going down the freeway and all of the sudden Marty comes flying up next to us, yelling at us to pull over. We are clueless as to why but follow him to the side of the road. There was a shoulder wide enough for the truck and trailer but Kurt didn't want to be right on the freeway so he pulled into a big dry grassy area.

Marty, who is usually so cool, calm and collected, jumps out of his truck and comes running back to us screaming "Are you on fire? Are you on fire?" I think: Um, I hope not because we are sitting in a big, DRY grassy field - we are going to launch the whole thing in flames if we are on fire. We have no idea what he is talking about until we follow him to the back of the trailer and see that we have blown another tire (remember our last camping trip?). The tire was smoking, popping, crackeling - it was scarey! We decided to move it off of the grass and back onto the freeway shoulder before it popped and caught the grass on fire.

Apparently this one had gone flat and Marty was honking and flashing his lights trying to get our attention and we saw, heard and felt nothing. Thank goodness he was behind us because it really could have caught on fire if we hadn't stopped. Such a HUGE BLESSING!

The men hard at work:
(I failed to take pics of the last flat tire and I didn't want to miss the opportunity again)
Ya, it seems to have a hole in it!
You can't see it in the picture but the other tire (behind Marty) wasn't looking good either. We were afraid that it was going to go next and we didn't have anymore spares. It was low on pressure which wasn't good. We drove to the next town (20 miles away), checked all the tires and filled the ones that needed it.

We stopped for lunch and when we went to leave, I got in the trailer to help Evan and I realized that a syrup bottle had fallen out of the cupboard, broke it's lid and leaked syrup all over the floor. As we were driving - turning, slowing, accelerating - it was sliding back and forth, leaking syrup as it went. Nice. So on the side of the road I was trying to clean up sticky syrup with no running water. I did the best I could and off we went.

Now, we didn't empty the water tanks at the camp site because we didn't want to use their station. It sloped the wrong way and we didn't want to spend any time in that section of the camp ground so we decided to empty the tanks at a gas station just 5 minutes from our home. We pulled up, helped Marty empty his, then he helped us empty ours.

As we were pulling out of the gas station - POP!

I jump out of the truck and run back to Marty, who is turning his truck/trailer around. I knock on the window, he rolls it down and I ask "how much do you guys love us?"

"A lot" Marty replies.

"Good because we just blew another tire."

Kurt clipped the curb and it hit the tire just right and blew our brand new tire that replaced the blown tire from the last trip. He couldn't hit an old tire, it had to be the new one. So we back up and do this . . . again:

Yep, it's flat.

You have got to be kidding me! 2 flats within 5 hours of each other. And we were only 5 minutes from home!!!! 5 minutes!!! I just wanted to be home. Luckily, Marty's spare fit our trailer and we were able to make it home. We didn't know until later that on his way out of the gas station, Marty clipped the curb and hit his tire too. Luckily he didn't get a flat!

This is the back of Kurt's truck at the gas station.
I think it sums up the last 30 hours of our trip rather nicely:
2 flat tires and a thrown-up-on car seat.
All that's missing is the syrup bottle.
I should have thrown that in the picture too!

Overall, the trip was a lot of fun but, boy, were we glad to be home!

I just have to say that Marty and Lorraine hung in there with us through all of it - the crying, the carsickness, the first flat, the second flat, me cleaning syrup up while pour Ally, so tired and ready for a nap, screamed in the truck. They were amazing! When I was ready to give up, they kept me laughing! You guys are awesome! Thanks for being such great friends!

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