The Adventures of Airstream Mikie

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Road Trip #1: Day 5, Big Sur!

Today almost never happened, and I wouldn't have had much of a story...

I was well rested and looking forward to my final thrust up the rugged coastline to legendary Big Sur.  The road between El Capitan and Big Sur gets progressively more challenging, and the last 50 miles are downright treacherous with a trailer.

I have played with very fast cars on this road many times.  Never with a trailer.  But I was ready for it when I woke this morning.  In fact, I was looking forward to the challenge.

I made the many preparations to break camp and prepare for travel.  One of the very last things to be done went seriously wrong and almost cancelled the day.  A part of the tow hitch went missing, and of course I had no spare part.  There were no such parts available at the camp store.

Do I really need that part?  Not absolutely, but without it the trailer will be more effected by gusty winds and swaying.  And gusty winds can be expected on this stretch of road through the mountains.  For the road to Big Sur, I want every advantage I can get.  I called two RV parts businesses nearby, but it's Sunday and they are closed.

I could wait it out here and get the part in the morning.  So what if I lose a day, right?  Normally, yes.  But my schedule (reservations) say that if I miss tomorrow then I miss Big Sur completely and I have wanted to stay at Big Sur ever since I first passed through the place more than 30 years ago.  If I want to stay there on this trip, I need to leave now, without the part, and without the added safety the part brings to the towing experience.

What was previously going to be a very challenging drive is now going to be off the charts challenging.  I was not looking forward to this at all, but then I was not looking forward to missing out on Big Sur.  This is one of those Go-NoGo situations, and I have had my share of those as an aviator.  The final decision usually comes down to Confidence...

So, I went for it!

This stretch of road is spectacular.  I love it, I love it, I love it!
There was lots of fog blowing up from the sea below, crossing the road at an upward angle and continuing to climb into the trees and the mountains and into the low clouds.  Fascinating!

I refueled at Ragged Point although I really didn't need gas, but I am magnetized by Ragged Point.  The name draws me!  I have stayed at this place many times over the years when I toured this road in Ferraris, Jags, Corvettes, etc.   I wanted to hang out and stretch a bit, but parking the rig was going to present challenges so I didn't stick around to savor the memories.

The road from Ragged Point to Big Sur is the best driving on the planet.  I loved every second of it, even towing the trailer.  In fact, the much slower speeds expanded the time to appreciate even more the beauty around every turn.

After getting parked in a grove of ancient redwoods, I headed out to a nearby pub for some fish and chips and a pint of Guinness (amazing, even here in Big Sur!).  Next door to the pub were a few tourist shops, and in one of them I spotted a hammock which was calling my name...

I have had in my mind since day one that a hammock is an essential piece of kit for the Airstream lifestyle.  Well, every lifestyle, actually.  It is my belief that a hammock is an essential part of life and there should be one wherever you (I) go.  It's embarrassing to admit, but in the 2 months I've had the Airstream I have not found my hammock.  I have searched, and in every case found the hammocks to be lacking.  And now, right here in Big Sur, is this hammock calling to me.  Great colors, all cotton... SOLD!

Back at the Airstream I stow the hammock in the closet, thinking I'll get to figuring out a way of rigging it later -- another day's project for sure.

I made a cup of coffee, and settled down, but the hammock was still calling to me.  I removed the hammock from the bag, and was impressed with how well made it is, and for only 20 bucks!  There's not enough room inside the trailer to lay out completely, so I take it outside and that gets me thinking and looking for where I could hang it.  There only one low branch anywhere nearby, sticking out of a redwood stump.  The other end would have to be the roof rack on the tow vehicle, so it could work out if I had a lot of rope.  And then I remember that I might have what I need in an emergency kit I keep and, YES!  The kit, put together about 15 years ago and never used, has a coil of 120' of a really interesting military surplus green natural fiber rope!

I whip out my Marine Corps Kabar knife from World War II, and it cuts through the rope like butter.  Maybe too easy, I think.  The knife is not that sharp, so maybe the rope has some rot from being so old.  Caution!

I cut two sections of rope and hung the hammock in less than 10 minutes, probably closer to 5.  I lowered myself into the hammock and stretched out completely and relaxed and the wonder of it all struck me:  Big Sur in a hammock!  Just doesn't get much better than this.  I took a few photos with the iPhone in my pocket, and a video, but can't upload because there's no signal.

I enjoyed my time in the hammock immensely, smiling the entire time.  Admittedly, I got pleasure out of the thought that I did something improvised with a knife and rope and achieved one of my primary objectives for this Airstream.  What impressed me is how everthing just flowed...

The rope has been in that emergency bag for many years, waiting for some purpose.  The knife was an impulse buy, in my previous life of conspicuous consumption, at least 15 years old, and never used!  That knife and rope have waited a long time to meet the hammock, and what a beautiful thing they did when they finally got together, and it all flowed so naturally.

I moved through each phase of the job with a general idea of what needed to be done and improvised along the way.  However, my moves were so fluid, so flawless, that anyone watching would think I had done it a thousand times before.  I was like a big jungle cat, moving deliberately without any lost energy or mis-steps.  Today I was a tiger.

The night among the big trees was silent and peaceful.  I could not have been happier!

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