Our last morning in our sweet little Big Sur village camp. The whole family was there and we made banana pancakes and cooked and ate and cleaned together.
Stellar jays were our constant companions in camp.
All our handsome men leaving to shuttle the cars back from Day Use area 1.
Because Pops' car had been broken into the day before (remember?) and we were all too unsettled to leave the cars next to Hwy 1, so the ranger let us park them inside the state park about a mile away.
and now, another hiccup! Joey's car won't start. :( Had something to do with it getting transferred to the other lot the day before, Pops drove it, and tried to stick his own key in the ignition, thus disrupting the little minutiae of modern computerized ignition systems....Triple A had to come; it took hours, Big Sur is a winding coastal road miles and miles away from anything. And the car would have to be towed all the way to Seaside to be fixed.
Standing around trying to make the best of it all, also packing up all our stuff and Dad's, because he stayed with the car to facilitate the tow, it all has to be carried out across the bridge, propped up against the fence to await the truck's arrival....Darin and I also hauled out all Mikie and Marisa's stuff because it turned out Marisa's AAA had the better, longer tow mileage...etc, etc, etc. This is the stuff that family trips are made of! Although it all felt like trouble at the time, I already look back with fondness, and I want to be right there, laughing with Addie and striking dorky poses with Marisa, and joggling babies to sleep in Ergos while we wait.
A few of us tried to go to the Henry Miller Library but it happened to be closed that day for a private function. Bella came with us to help entertain the babes, we stopped at Fernwood for drinks, snacks and candy and headed north to Seaside where we'd all reconvene at the repair shop.
Filthy sleepers on the way north:
It endears me to no end seeing pictures like this. Babies are so innocent, just along for the ride, no matter where their crazy families take them. For the most part they're pretty into it too. They just like to go places, discover things, see people smiling at them, feel the grass or the sand, see everything. As long as mama's close by.
I had a soft spot for this matted old cat at the dilapidated old apartment complex next to the repair shop. We hung out there for a little bit trying to plan our next move. Then the apartment dwellers (crackheads?) / cat owners showed up honking at us to move and staring us down bigtime so we headed down the road apace to the Starbucks on the corner. Seaside never looked more charming ;)
Cheer up Joey, give me a smile. What happened to that boy I used to know?
Matt and Addie found us a regional park to play in while we waited to find out what was happening with the car. For a while there was a scare that it might need special parts and Joey and Emily would be stuck in lovely Seaside for a night. We shook the devil off playing at the park, avoiding goose poop galore, homeless wanderers and locals meeting up for drug exchanges and bumping rap music from their trucks. Just kidding, well not really.
My little thrill seeker loves to swing. She turned seven months the day before this.
All Beatty boys are tree climbers.
Oh yeah, and right before Addie and Art left us, we took the chance to get that full-family photo I'd been harping about!
And then, after a few more minutes of letting them run wild together, we said good-bye to Addie, Art and Utah. So sad to see them go, and honestly as I am writing this post I'm feeling it all over again, the little tugs at your heart when you already miss the thing you are experiencing. I just love them so much. Utah is such a little character and I love to hold the heft of him, his sturdy little body, the way he answers most questions with an grunty "yeah" and a vigorous nod of his head. or a "Huh!" while nodding up and down. He likes questions.
Finally we got the call that the car was ready! It was all fixed up and set to go. Joey picked it up and we all caravanned north and east out of town through Hollister and over to this rusty dusty little central California hwy called 25 that takes you through a tiny western town called Tres Pinos where we stopped for gas.
There, as we pulled out, a very polite cowboy in a big truck backed into Joey and Emily's car! With them in it, and baby Scout most importantly. We were right in front of them and I was leaning out my window watching and we were all hollering for him to stop, it was crazy. The guy jumped out feeling terrible. He took one look in the backseat where he had just rammed the door and said " OH MAN, AND YOU HAVE A BABY IN THERE!!!" He was utterly apologetic. But they had to exchange insurance information and all that jazz, so Matt and Amy's car, and our car, went on ahead. Mikie and Marisa had Jarom riding with them, and Dad had Orion, and all of them had fallen behind. So it was just us and Matt and Amy and Bella who first arrived at this beautiful dusky mysterious place in the middle of nowhere, a nook and crook in California's long wide belly.
Pinnacles National Park
No one else passed by, the road was utterly empty and the sky was massive. The landscape had an antique rosy hue, tumbleweeds and sagebrush, gravel highway, summer evening, pavement still warm, cracking, lazy. We did a dance in the road. It felt like coming home again.
Joey and Em weren't far behind. We set up camp in the middle of poison oak.
But also, California Wild Rose. In immense thickets all around. (right Mary?)
Polly was in the greatest mood on earth that eve. I guess she was just glad to get out of the car. Have I told you about the thing she does where she intakes her breath with a wild delighted gasp of joy? That's what she does, and she was doing it all night.
Matt and Amy made yummy couscous wraps with tons of veggies from their own garden. It was getting late so they had to cook and clean by headlamp and lantern. We had a lovely group dinner with seconds and thirds for all. And it wasn't long before we had brazen visitors: the raccoons were rampant, and frankly a little aggressive! Getting into squalls right by our tents, staring us down from the pathways between our sites, grappling with any and all human thing they could get ahold of. We locked everything away in bear cabinets, needless to say!
Ahhhh, morning time in our cozy, sunlit camp.
Now, Pinnacles has something very special that we hadn't had in five days: SHOWERS.
But even more importantly, A POOL.
We had a blast, that pool became our hub for the next two days. I miss it, it feels like a friend. It normally might seem a little incongruous, a national park with a pool, but let me tell you, in this very hot and sunny and dry location in California, a pool is greatly, greatly appreciated. And even though it is the nation's newest National Park, designated as such in January 2013, the facilities and grounds seem a little old and rundown. Just the way I like them. It felt kind of like a 1970's summer camp.
Our other hub, the general store. Which has the strangest hours of any store I've ever encountered. The sign says open 3-5 pm, but there was a lady who seemed to always be keeping track of something with a crayon and a clipboard, and if she was around she'd sell you a popsicle.
So Lucy was happy of course.
We hiked through the cave to Bear Gulch Reservoir. It was a beautiful hike and kept reminding me of Picnic at Hanging Rock.
photo by darin
We ran into a little buddy inside the cave: a California Red-legged Frog which is a Threatened species and has been reintroduced in Bear Gulch Reservoir. What a confident little beauty he was, there in the still coolness of his cave home, trusting that we would pass by without a trace and leave him to his endeavors.
photo by Darin
Pops takes a picture.
photo by darin
It's totally dark inside the cave. You are supposed to have a light, but Darin and I did not. On the way up, other family members did, but on the way back we were alone and Lucy got a little freaked out at the pitch blackness and kept going "too narrow! too narrow!" (a new word she had learned that I think defined that close feeling of darkness and not knowing what is around you.) Here, a shaft of light broke through and showed us a glimpse of our surroundings.
Upwards to the reservoir:
We took a break for a rest and some water, and witnessed some people across the reservoir shaking a can of spray paint and getting ready to do some graffiti. UGH!!!! After that we were on a mission to apprehend them, and followed them back down the trail, trying to catch up to them. We saw huge fresh marks and tags they had made on tree branches with some kind of large permanent marker or something, although up at the reservoir we think they saw us looking and put the white spray paint away after just making one small stripe. Joey and Amy were able to follow them most of the way and question them, they denied it of course, but we tattled to the rangers anyway because we care about the future of these beautiful protected spaces of ours!
Our girls enjoying the hot hot sunshine up at Bear Gulch.
Heading back down. Too narrow, too narrow!
After another quick refreshing dip in the pool, we relaxed at camp for the evening and Mikie and Marisa whipped up a little smorgasbord of Indian food and leftovers from Matt and Amy. I used up our lettuce that was barely hanging on to make a big salad, which tastes so good while camping.
Orion and Polly held multiple staring contests. Polly usually won.
Pops finished East of Eden.
The playpen became a haven for little and big kids alike, a reading nook if you will. An extremely filthy, poison oak leaf -scattered, dusty, crowded, cozy little reading nook.
Walking around camp with an almost full moon, critters' eyes staring out at you, moving through the gully, sounds of familiar laughter echoing across the night, a little wind to cool down the sweltering heat of the day. Why don't we sleep outside every night in summer?
A perfect night for Tarot readings. We had three decks between Matt, Amy, and I, and covered lots of territory.
Last night camping, my sweetest snugglies.
Next morning was our last one of the trip. We took our time with coffee and the long procedure of packing up camp the final time. With a heavy heart I write those words.
During all the morning's business, Pollly fell asleep like this:
Before we headed our separate ways, we took one more dip in the pool and congregated with snacks from the general store and last minute leftovers from our coolers. Polly got a kick out of Matt and worked on her crawling to head toward his tempting bottle of soda pop. And we saw a bobcat! He had just caught his lunch of mouse under a picnic table about twenty (?) yards away and we all watched him walk away with a funny loping hunchy gait. Big powerful guy. Mule deer congregated in foraging groups just to our left. And we're pretty sure we spotted condors flying overhead.
And that was that. A long drive home, a delicious meal at Dos Coyotes in Sacramento after being stuck in harrowing traffic up the I5, getting separated from Pops and his truck, missing everyone dramatically, then getting home and our house seeming huge and so clean and spacious. Cats coming right up to greet us and rolling around for belly pets. The girls diving into their books and toys like it's a whole new world.
I had the sweetest time in the world being on this trip with my family, despite the mishaps. Each detail is dear to me, which, as always, is why I share so much here: my record. And now, with full heart and memories exuberant, I bring the Beatty Trip 2014 to a close.