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Posts Tagged ‘Roadtrip’

Teardrop Trailer

My sister has her van. My brother Tom’s building a “Teardrop” trailer. Guess we have the vagabond blood in us.

Teardrop trailers are very small camping trailers. Most are homemade, apparently some can be bought ready-made. My brother is building his from scratch.

The back hatch will flip open to expose an outdoor kitchen counter with stove and refrigeration. Tom’s looking into a solar charging system. The plan is to be able to grind coffee and blend margaritas!

Here Tom and his wife Vickie bend the door flashing on the kitchen island.

As any seamstress can tell you, when you bend a straight object … it buckles. With metal you just pound out the wrinkles. Amazingly, the buckles just get absorbed.

Here’s the fruit of their labor waiting to be trimmed, glued and screwed in place.

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Lompoc … who knew?

After a rainy night and drenching wet morning in Pismo Beach we headed for Lompoc. A colleague of my sister grew up there and Nancy promised to photograph their old home.

We performed our errand and then wound through town searching for Hwy 246 to Solvang and eventually Hwy 154 via the San Marcos Pass to Santa Barbara. In so doing, we happened upon a colorful alley and decided to stop to walk the dog.

The more we looked the more we discovered that this town is a hot bed of murals!

Some historic …

Some principaled …

And all top rate — complete with artists’ names.

And these are only a few of the dozens we saw. I don’t know who lives here or how this got started. I’m told it’s a very windy place to live — out on the “elbow” of California. What a cheery surprise to this otherwise soggy day.

The other discovery was the Stone Pine – or Umbrella Pine – with awesome Van Gogh bark. True to their name they form a graceful broad canopy.

From here we sped on to Solvang – “the Danish capital in America”. The usually bustling streets of this Disney-esque tourist town were vacant in the driving rain. Nancy and I strolled through one high-end trinket shop and then dined on tea and ‘danishes’ before heading on to our destination in Camarillo, CA.

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On the Road

The first leg of our sojourn together was from the Oakland airport to Scotts Valley with lunch in Los Gatos on Friday, Dec. 4.

We visited relatives in Santa Cruz and had a wonderful time. We got a kick out of this roadside sign in the nearby town of Soquel.

Soquel also sports my favorite coffee house, “The Ugly Mug” where I checked my email. We managed to hit the road by noon on Sunday, Dec. 6.

Hwy 101 goes through the Salinas Valley and then drops down the Questa Grade into San Luis Obispo and meets the coast at Pismo Beach.

We listened to a book-on-tape of “My Life in France” about Julia Child. My sister Nancy ordered it from the library before we left. At 10 CD’s in length, it was good for a lot of miles. Her dog Mr. Lincoln was curled up between us in the laundry basket / doggie bed. Life was good!

Hwy 101 runs through the Salinas valley, bordered on either side by mountains. The valley is flat farmland or grazing foothills. Every curve of the road is etched in my psyche — from over 20 years of driving it to Ojai about twice a year!

Here a vineyard rolls away into the hills.

The overcast skies muted the effect, but near the town of San Miguel the “rolling golden hills” are at their prime. They possess a velvet voluptuousness that reminds me of  simmering custard — or a sleeper under covers.

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The Van

I spent the last 10 days on a road trip / family visit in California. My sister, Nancy, converted a Chevy 350  “high-boy” cargo van into a travel van. I’ll catch up on our travels in subsequent posts, but wanted to show off our lodgings.

Nancy’s not a cook, so all she wanted was a place to sleep for herself, her dog and a friend. She refurbished the van herself — putting in a vinyl floor and building the bed frames. There’s ample storage for clothes, dog food, biking gear, books, etc.

That’s my bunk along the back door of the van (with curtains in closed position). The porta-potty is in the lower left corner — a marvelously odorless and effective device. Plastic suction-caddies store bedside books, glasses, etc.

Nancy’s bunk runs the length of the cabin. Two pull-out drawer units are just barely visible underneath. The wires are for the electric blankets (which I never used) — just in case. She also had a space heater, reading lamp and even HD TV (which we never watched). The parks provide electricity and cable hookup.

She loves her “naked men with mitts” poster!

RV parks are quiet, congenial, pet-friendly and affordable. The cost was typically $25/night — higher around big cities. That’s Nancy’s recumbent bike hanging off the bike rack (upside down).


Ever-efficient, my sister uses a “bathroom bucket” to schlep her toiletries to and from the van. The bathroom/shower facilities have all been clean, warm and very welcome!

I joined Nancy in Oakland. Our first stop together was the Carbonero Creek RV Park in Scott’s Valley. The staff made us feel very welcome. I walked to a Peet’s Coffee in the morning while Nancy slept in (as usual).

Our 2nd stay was in Pismo Beach at the Pismo Coast Village Resort. This was a terrific park. Each site had a fire ring (wood and kindling sold at park store) and the beach-side location was tops. However, it was driving rain during our visit.

Only the ducks were happy.

Our final destination was my brother Art’s place in Camarillo, CA. My sister and her dog slept in the van on their driveway. It was this sunny most of the visit. It has to be said that van-camping is a LOT more pleasant when it’s dry and warm!

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