Oh! The life of a rubber tramp is but a time warp. Entire months go by without us noticing. If I wasn’t wearing this plastic Timex watch (that I found) that displays the date, I honestly wouldn’t know that it’s April. In fact, we are surprised that it is April.

It’s hard to muster words for the blog as we roam between the cities of San Francisco and San Diego. California is as they say, like another country. Of course, it’s been wonderful to catch up with our family and friends here however, California is an emotional yo-yo for us. It is not friendly to (achem) The RVer.

We see a lot of signs like this and after hours of driving, are extremely irritating.

In comparison, Sedona and Texas were like mothers to us; they held us in their bosoms, told us we were safe, kept us warm and well fed. Camping was free in the most amazing places, public land plentiful, food affordable, people extremely friendly–especially in Texas. California tells us to piss off in one way or another–every. single. day. And, I can’t say I blame it.  

There are too many people here and everyone is annoyed. Like rats in a cage, they are desperate for space, air, solitude. This is noted by the way Californians drive, surf, pursue the outdoors, and how they shop. “Get out of my way!,” they say, sometimes with no words at all. I read it in their sneering eyes, their smileless faces, their flung hair, and pursed lips. Like the time at the grocery store when I had the audacity to leave my shopping cart in a narrow pass, in front of the avocados! I annoyed a lady who OBVIOUSLY couldn’t get by. She left my unnecessary and very English apology hanging in the air as she huffed around me. We miss Sedona and you too, Texas.

There is of course a reason why CA is oversubscribed– If you can look past all of the nonsense I’ve just described, you couldn’t disagree that it is a stunning coastline, the weather is pretty good, and there is something wonderful about the collection of liberal and creative minds which must make for some pretty interesting conversations if not careers.  

We have found a few endearing oceanside towns but once you know what’s behind the scenes it’s hard to feel like one could ever feel welcome here after too long. We just drove past a one bed, peeling-painted beach shack with breezy, single skinned windows. We could own it. It’s for sale. If only we had (the stomach for spending) $650,000 for a shitter in a not very fancy neighbourhood that has telephone wires draping from house to house and the occasional IV drug user hoping to score something good between there and the beach.

But California is great. Make no mistake by my moaning. Here’s proof that we are genuinely having a good time:

Anna and Em hiking. Anna is now big enough to ride on my back.

Anna on a bike ride on Dad through San Francisco.

Check out SF in the background.

We were the only people hiking with a baby to the top of Yosemite Falls.

Loving Yosemite.

But perhaps CA is more great, if you are rich (as Alex says) simply because you can buy those luxuries that rats yearn for. You can buy things to help you escape: namely, real estate with far reaching Pacific views, your own beach, a boat, etc. You can even pay people to help you relax if all the huffy puffers are getting in your way by checking yourself into the day spa for a massage. For us rubbertrampers, you can buy yourself an expensive on-the-beach RV parking space with no hookups for water or electricity for $70. If math isn’t your strong suit, that’s over two grand a month! For camping!!  

For these reasons, we are developing an strange relationship with California one minute we love it, the next we lay at it’s feet–exhausted and annoyed, just like a Californian.


The morning scene was quite the contrast to the life we thought we were living momentarily while tasting wine in the beautiful Napa Valley on our way westbound from Yosemite to the coast. There was quite a contrast in the weather & flora in only a few hours drive. Cool yet glorious sunshine in the valley and then of course–California fog, which gives life to unimaginably grand Redwood trees. The woods are beautiful by day and kind of creepy to drive through at night.

We woke up to the beautiful noise of commuter traffic on Hwy101. (Thanks PG&E for leaving us weary travellers a sneaky little boondocking space on your powerline access road.) And as we started down the highway in the gloomy mist we began our hunt for a beach suitable for cooking up breakfast & a town with a laundromat. Al flicked on the local radio. Apparently the smashed up vintage convertible we saw last night had hit a Redwood tree, the driver ejected and sustained fatal injuries. The passenger in critical condition. Both visiting from Honolulu. An uncomfortable uneasiness sunk in knowing we had driven past such a horrific scene the day prior especially given the weather which was not improved.

The next news item: with all of this rain, the 101 was now closed at Leggit as of 9pm last night due to a landslide. Al and I shared a raised eyebrow. Where the hell was Leggit?!.

“Does that affect us?” I quickly pulled out the map. “That’s just north of here,” I concluded.

“Let me see that,” Alex said holding out his hand promptly. “Leggit…? Leggit. Well, that’s bad news, Em. That’s just north of here.” (Silence for a few moments.) “That would mean we have to go back the way we came.”

“What?! We drove five hours to get here.” We hoped there was some other alternative–but there was not. A fuck-you-California feeling washed over me the moment we pulled into the beach parking lot and there was yet another sign: No RVs. “…gotta be kidding me,” I grumbled. Alex was feeling low simultaneously as he realised that his hopes for surfing and kiting the northern CA coast were immediately foiled by the Leggit news.

We did laundry and then we succumbed to our fate: a day driving backwards, four hours towards Bend, OR where we were meeting up with my brother, missing the entire Northern California coast. We set off in fog so thick you could see it lapping in waves sideways through the air. Moss in both pale and electric green hung from grand pine branches like dreadlocks and the scene slowly changed again as we crossed through forest, mountains and vineyards, fruit and olive groves; and finally, rolling green and sunny hills that reminded us of England.

We used freecampsites.net to scope out a place not too far off Hwy20. The travel gods were good to us despite the morning circumstances and we thanked them as we pulled in to Cowboy Camp–the best campsite yet–which was totally free. We pretty much had the place to ourselves and wished we could have stayed the maximum allowed two weeks. We were still in California and it was still beautiful.

4 thoughts on “California: we hate you, we love you

  1. Em, you are such a descriptive and talented writer. I loved reading this–because it was so fun to read and to learn about your recent adventures. I love your mind. I love your heart.


  2. Remco & I loved Yosemite and so interesting to hear your views on California. Isn’t it strange how even within a country people and attitudes can differ so much.


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