So, to recap out road trip so far: we’d driven from LA to Big Sur in a vintage VW camper van, with some breakdowns and adventures along the way. We’d arrived in Big Sur around 1am under a full moon…
Finally, we pulled into the campsite. Under giant Redwoods and beside the Big Sur River. And immediately set to work converting seats into kids beds, and converting the pop-up roof section into our Master bedroom! As quietly as we could. And trying to get to sleep.
Now, our daughter has a habit of getting dehydrated very easily. And when she does, contrary to logic, she gets extreme vomiting and diarrhoea as a result. It’s just something that happens, and seems to happen whenever we go camping. So, the first morning at Big Sur was pretty challenging. But the campsite was beautiful, our fellow campers very friendly, and we managed to chill out for a few hours.
But, as we’d missed out on the ‘Big Sur Scenic Drive by Daytime Experience’, my husband decided we needed to convert the van back into a van and go for a drive for a couple of hours. Other things we ended up doing were visiting Nepenthe Restsurant, hanging out at Pfeiffer beach and making s’mores by a campfire. But a lot of this was marred by fighting between myself and my husband. I’ll go into this in greater detail when I talk about ‘Road trips while disabled’.
After three nights at Big Sur, it was time to move on. Because of our numerous problems on the way to Big Sur, we decided to get to San Francisco as soon as possible. We did stop for lunch at Carmel-by-the-Sea, the town where Clint Eastwood used to be Mayor. Very nice, but very expensive!
We didn’t have time to visit the Monteray Aquarium, despite so many people having recommended it. As it was, we got into San Francisco a few hours later than we’d intended. A friend of my husband’s was waiting for us and we went out for a pizza and a drink. We had decided to splash out on our hotel, and stayed at the Nob Hill Inn. As there was no parking, we ditched the camper van at a multi-storey car park for the three days we stayed in San Francisco.
We did a lot of walking in San Francisco, with plenty of rest stops along the way. Highlights included Coit Tower, ChinaTown, North Beach, and the Aquarium. Our last day there happened to be July 4th. That day, we got the bus to Golden Gate Park and walked around the park and around Haight Ashbury. Where my daughter was delighted to see ‘real hippies’! Then we got the bus to the Golden Gate Bridge. For some reason I had thought we could walk across the bridge and get a bus back from the other side. So, off we went. It was a long trek, even with my trusty cane, and the kids had to be carried a lot of the way. Then to my horror I realised there was no bus back and we’d have to trudge back the way we came! Plus it was very foggy and very very cold. But, we made it. Phew! So, that’s one more thing crossed off the Bucket List.
That night, we decided to walk to the top of Nob Hill to watch the fireworks. Except, it was so foggy we couldn’t see a thing. But I can say, there were the most impressive fireworks I’ve ever heard!
The next day, we headed back to LA. As we’d never get there on time to return the van before they closed, we decided to stay somewhere along the way. Except we hadn’t actually booked anywhere. We drove back the faster-but-less-scenic route, and managed to find space in an RV park in Santa Barbara. The next day, we returned the camper van (who refunded us a day due to the tire issues) and hired a car for our last night in California. We’d booked a hotel at Redondo Beach, near the airport. We explored the pier there that night, and loved how much more diverse the people there were compared to the more upmarket Newport Beach. It really struck me how racially segregated a lot of the US seems to be. Our last evening meal of our holiday was a the Cheesecake Factory. Where, yes, you can get Corn Dogs.
So, next day, we dropped off the hire car at the airport and made the long journey home. And boy were we glad to get home! (Though the reality of my husband now being officially out of work wasn’t as pleasant.)
Next post in what has now become a three-part series, will discuss the issues we had Road Tripping while Disabled, and how we overcame some of these.
[image of a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, mostly obscured by fog.]