Sunday, June 22, 2008

vacation part II

So there we were, all packed up and ready to head inland when my husband stepped on the clutch and nothing happened. Not one thing. Had we been on minimally level land, that would have been one thing, but we were about a mile down a spiraling 14% incline, towing a small but significant U-Haul trailer. Russian Gulch is about a mile north of Mendocino on Hwy 1. A beautiful campground surrounded by ferns and just the minutest bit of stinging nettle, which I managed to steer clear of, but my husband did not. Left up to me I would have unwittingly picked a bouquet to grace our table, but he was the first one out of the truck and into the campsite. I guess it stings--thus, the name.

We are such grown ups now that we have AAA.--Triple A for the unititiated. (I could refer you to previous posts about my 65 Dodge Polara with a plywood back seat and a starter that had to be beaten with a shovel each time I turned it off, but I'll leave that up to you. ) Ah, poverty, that fount of revisionist memory.

So this ranger shows up to see who the flakes are who have broken down in his campsite. He is clearly from Mendocino based on the tan and the 150.00 haircut. To be fair, he was very nice. Rangers are very nice, as a rule, aren't they? Have you noticed? For instance, this one came up to us while we were walking toward the beach to let Sid run around for awhile.
My husband says, cleverly, upon meeting the ranger, "Sid! Where is your six foot leash?"
The ranger says, in perfect tour guide inflection, "Say, Do you know where the Rite Aid is in Fort Bragg?"
I think, What the hell? Does he need bandaids or a prescription filled?
So my husband, knowing we are about 9 miles from Fort Bragg, says, "Sure." And he's thinking, like I am, that this guy needs directions to Rite Aid and has a medical problem of some kind.
The ranger says, "Good. Well, there's an off-leash dog park down toward the water from there." and goes on to explain the directions in minute detail.
We consider admitting to the ranger that Sid is usually on his leash and no one is around anyway, but don't. We just stand there like the guilty campers we are.
The ranger, remaining tour guide-positive, says, "I was just thinking you might want to know where an off leash park was located."
Well, we really didn't at all. We weren't thinking how nice it would be to drive nine miles to walk Sid, who can walk just fine on an empty beach.
Anyway, I was just wondering if all rangers are taught to deal with campers in positive language only. Maybe some campers are a tiny bit unstable and will flip out if a ranger was to, for instance, say something like: "Put your fucking pitbull on a leash, asshole," or something like that. I wonder if there is a ranger school for manners.

We met this other ranger in Jedediah Smith State Park where we camped early. In campgrounds now there is evening entertainment and actual gift shops. It was the first Ranger Talk of the season when we were there. It was called "The Bear Necessities" and talked about bear ettiquette, like not spreading jam on your child's face or something if you happen to run into a bear on the trail. It was for idiots and flat-landers I guess. The plan was to have this blazing bonfire (which I thought questionable in the redwoods) but the guy ranger couldn't build a fire. It took him forever. It was decorative, the way he built this tipi out of wood, but it wouldn't take off for the longest time. At the talk, the ranger-gal handed around this necklace of bear teeth and the next morning, as we checked out of our campsite, there was a note at the entrance that someone had pocketed it and the sign said, "It is MINE."

When we finally made it out of Russian Gulch, we were towed by AAA inland to Willitts. It is a 25 mile winding road and we were in a huge flatbed tow truck driven by Kevin who has three children who have turned out well because they do things together as a family and he married his high school sweetheart and drives the road like he has lived there all his life, which he has, almost without looking. I believe we made better time being towed by Kevin than we would have on our own.

Willetts isn't much. We were pretty much hostage to the auto repair shop, and several hundred dollars later, were on our way up 101 and toward home. I should report that Sid was really happy to finally make it to a hotel room with air conditioning and a bed he could call his own.

We drove straight through to Port Orford and spent the evening with my brother Doug and his wife Joyce. The curry was excellent. The company, even better. It was good to see them.


Anonymous said...

so funny and fun, camping from J. perspective. keep on.

asia said...

welcome home! its been way tooo long since we had coffee. wanna get together this weekend?

msb said...

Glad your back with great stories to tell. I used to live on 500 dollar cars and AAA. And Sid got his own bed. I love a happy ending. :+)