Monday, July 19, 2010


The day after my harrowing trip down Manor Drive, I grabbed my board and headed out to Taco Bell Beach in Pacifica, so named because of its beachside fast-food restaurant.

With weathered wood decking and a prime location directly on the sand of San Francisco's most popular beginner surfing spot, the Linda Mar Taco Bell is arguably the cheapest sunset dinner on a beach anywhere!
I learned from a local old-time surfer, Jerry, that the restaurant began its life as an A&W Root Beer stand in the 60's and I felt a deep sense of nostalgia. It was somehow very wrong that Taco Bell was here.

But nostalia didn't grip me long; I had some surfing to do...Apparently, I found Taco Bell Beach on the best surf day they'd had in months.

This sheltered beach break (it's a cove) had perfect peeling rights and lefts. It was warm, sunny, and a Sunday so there were literally hundreds of surfers in the water. (See above for a photo of the crowded line-up at Linda Mar Beach)

I was a bit nervous being a newbie in a highly localized and busy spot. I also had my surf camera attached to the end of my board. Many of the local surfers questioned me about the camera and I began to feel how awkward it is to surf with it.

On one hand, I wanted to document every new surf spot I'm experiencing, on the other, I find it distracting as I'm constantly fiddling with the camera and worrying that other, better surfers are mocking me for the folly of recording my less-than-professional abilities.

But, I tried to put all that out of my mind and concentrate on surfing my best...and I had one of the most wonderful surf days of my life. The waves were so beautifully shaped and other surfers were friendly and willing to share. I caught several long rides that took me all the way to the shore.

Unfortunately, when I returned to the RV park, I found that all the files on my surf camera were empty! The camera looked like it was recording, but it never saved the file. I figured out later that I have to use very specific batteries in cold water (it was 50 degrees) and I solved the problem, so look for later surfing videos!



Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I was in high spirits as I motored up Highway 101 from Morro bay towards Pacifica, California, a town just outside of San Francisco.

Clear blue skies graced the drive as beautiful landscape morphed from central California scrub to the fragrant pine forests of Northern California.

Since I don't believe in GPS, I carefully plotted out the routes for my trip using Mapquest.

This is where I made a serious and dangerous mistake.

My friend, Mapquest, directed me off the comfortable highways near Pacifica towards a quiet residential street called "Manor Drive." (See photo to the left)

The photo shows the top of Manor Drive, shortly after you make the turn. So far, this street looks innocent enough. What you can't see hidden behind the fog is that the street basically drops off the face of the earth around that corner.

As I made the tight left turn onto Manor Drive, the atmostphere suddenly changed in a most surreal way; wind began to whip the trees, fog swirled in eddies around the trailer and a cold grayness began to grip me.

I don't have much experience pulling trailers and as far as trailers go, Lucy is very heavy. Three tons heavy...

So, when I saw this:

I became very nervous. The sign stated the downgrade at 19%! I don't know if you've ever been down a 19% downgrade, but it might as well have been a complete vertical drop.

But, at this point, I didn't have much choice since there was no way I could turn the trailer around, and I knew the RV park (and place of rest) lay at the bottom of the hill. So, down I went, slowly. Very slowly.

Soon, frustrated cars were tailgating the trailer and laying on the horn. The smell of burning brakes made my eyes water; I knew my face looked something like this...

(see the video, especially around 4:26)

I continued down the hill wondering why those jerks behind me couldn't see what trouble we were in. I was laying my full weight on the brake pedal, but the trailer wasn't slowing down...I ran a stop sign. And then a second stop sign. I could not stop the trailer!

I envisioned overturning Lucy in a beautiful mangled golden mess at the bottom of the hill; it was such an inglorious end to my trip. I don't believe in God, but I think I prayed-just a little bit...

Luckily, the side streets were empty and Lucy and I white-knuckled it to the bottom of the hill into the San Francisco RV Resort.

I found out later that whole sections of that residential area have been flattened by runaway vehicles. It happens all the time...and there's a nice, gently sloping freeway that leads right to the resort. I think it would have added a quarter mile to my trip. Thanks Mapquest!


(P.S. I didn't get more blogging done when staying near the family...Today, I am on the Oregon coast where I have to drive 25 miles to McDonald's just to get an internet connection. I will be playing catch up for a long time!)

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Shortly after arriving at Morro Bay, I discovered this strange and delightful building. Asking the locals about it, I learned it was built in the 80's, although there is much friendly debate about this detail.

Originally the home of some kind of tool manufacturing company, it is now empty and for rent. What you can't see is that just behind the elaborate facade is a quonset hut used as warehouse space. It's just so weird and wonderful!

Wouldn't this be the perfect home for Lucy?

On my last night in Morro Bay, I treated myself to a delicious dinner at the Great American Fish Company. It's a touristy little spot, but right on the water.

Nature treated me to a beautiful double rainbow for my trouble, which is very hard to capture on my little snapshot camera; you see only one rainbow, sadly!

After dinner, I began packing. It's been three nights in Morro Bay, the first leg of the trip, and I discovered something I guess I already knew, but didn't take seriously until this night: it takes about six hours to pack up all my precious belongings.

Most people, when RV'ing, take paper plates, a cooler and a few canvas fold-up chairs. Not me!

I have about a thousand chalkware chinoise ladies to pack up, then there's the vintage Hull pottery, the Vernon Kiln dinnerware set, plastic tupperware for me, it's all Pyrex and vintage sugar canisters.

Each item has to be removed from the cupboards, walls and shelves, bubble-wrapped and stowed carefully on the floor of the trailer. Any shifting or unevenness in weight of this "stuff" while on the road could lead to a dangerous fishtailing of the trailer or even tipping over, I suppose, in a sudden swerve or tight corner.

I was glad to learn that Steinbeck also had the problem of overpacking on his RV'ing trip, but I still felt foolish when it became clear that out of every four days, I was spending a day and a half of that either packing, unpacking or driving.

It's gunna be a long, long road...


Thursday, July 1, 2010

DEAD or ALIVE? (Morro Bay, CA and Beyond)

Unfortunately, I have found it very difficult to post while on the road. The RV parks I'm staying in advertise "free wi-fi," but I've only been able to actually connect and work two or three times during the trip, thus the delay in updating the blog.

So, in case you were wondering, I am alive and well, and have had many adventures so far. Currently, I'm stationed in Humboldt County, near Trinidad Bay, preparing to leave for the next leg of my trip-a ten day stay in my hometown, Roseburg, Oregon.

Hopefully, I'll be playing catch up with the posts over the next few days. There's the "Long, Long Trailer" incident to tell you about (almost lost Lucy!), some videos from two really great bands I caught in San Francisco during the Gay Pride celebration, and several ice-cold surf sessions to check out.

For now, here's a video of my birthday surf session in Morro Bay. Just be warned: photos and even video don't do this magical place justice. Someday, you will want to visit "the rock" and see it for yourself.