Saturday, August 29, 2009
Deep Blue Waters, Tall Trees, Koncrete Kampgrounds Part 2.
We left the beaches and forests of the northern California coast for the big city life and the promised visit to the happiest place one earth. We kept the kids enticed with a big finale to our camping trip in Disneyland Anaheim, California. We had a day in San Francisco first.
We camped in the KOA in Petaluma, California which was once the center of the chicken egg universe. The hills had been full of chicken farms. Today the Sonoma Valley produces wine. The temperate climate and rolling hills provide conditions exceptional for growing grapes. We approached the Sonoma Valley from the north driving past vineyards in the stretched golden light of the receding sun. The grasses in the late summer were all dry and yellow giving the hills the appearance of piles of golden fur. The landscape held some promise of camping in a beautiful setting. Then we arrived at the KOA.
I won't say too much about camping at the KOA. It was convenient and comfortable but not my idea of camping. It was a resort style campground with an activity tent, a swimming pool, a petting zoo, and a nice playground, but it was right off the interstate. It was not the peaceful serenity of the redwood forest. It was not the wild flower cover fields of the Diamond Lake area where I startled a buck on my early morning walk. It was concrete pads laid out in rows just wide enough to accommodate either a tent or RV.
We arrived at the onset of darkness and set up camp. Traci ran into town to find some supplies and I set up the tents while the kids played at the nearby playground. When Traci returned we made our way to bed. Our neighbors, three feet from our campsite, decided it was time to laugh and giggle. The two young boys were getting more wound as the mother played some counting game, "One, Two, Threeeeee!!!" Giggle laugh giggle... This went on for what seemed to be several hours, looking at my watch it was now midnight and the kids were showing no signs of winding down. Traci told me the next day she witnessed the parents feeding their children S'mores at nine and thereby setting the stage for giddiness and antics well into the late hours of the night. The sounds of giggling children were only compounded by the lamp post at the end of our neighbor's camp site which apparently never turned off. Sleeping was not the best that night.
Traci had made plans to join the tour of San Francisco the day after our torturous night of half sleep. We felt a little vindicated by getting up at six in the morning and making no effort to keep our children quiet. We encouraged, maybe even provoked, a little sibling quarrelling but our kids were too tired to take the bait.
The tour of San Francisco from the KOA was fun and informative. The tour guide drove the bus and narrated every inch of our travels. We saw all of the highlights, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Chinatown, The Full House houses, a ride on a cable car, Fisherman's Wharf, etc, etc. A film crew was in Chinatown shooting a television show. We passed a sign stating walking past the sign relieved us of our rights to any use of our image in the context of the show then we stopped and watched the shoot. They ran the same activity over again at least four times while we watched, setting up the scene again and restarting.
We made it back to the Koncrete Kampground and the children swam. We spoke with a few of the people from the tour, one a set of great grandparents raising a 9 year old girl. They were from Maine but through the magic of homeschooling had hit the road for the better part of the summer, hitting a wedding en route and soaking up the great western landscape. Great Grandparents. They were impressive.
We also struck it up with a couple from London. They were in the area for the past few weeks in a rented RV, travelling with their two daughters. They had landed in Vegas and drove across the west stopping off at Yosemite. We were later invited to their RV for dinner where we ate some ribs and chicken rubbed down with Maldon salt. We shared our accents and notes from across the Atlantic comparing everything from television to health care. Traci managed to hold up her share of finishing off two bottles of wine. We had a lovely evening.
The next morning was not as lovely. We had to make the trip south to Anaheim and Traci was feeling the effects of the wine. We packed up and hit the road. Shane had to say good bye to his 9 year old great grand daughter friend.
Traci shaped up around the early afternoon and we skirted the busy highways surrounding L.A. landing in our home for the evening, another campground featuring concrete. This was not a KOA but a privately owned RV park just outside the gate of the happiest place on earth. That night we saw the fireworks show from our camp lawn. The children were excited about visiting Walt's vision of paradise.
I'm sure Walt did not envision my grogginess at the early hours of the next morning, this was not a happy occasion. We left the campground with a happy anticipation hanging around the children's heads like halos. We had to find coffee before we entered the park. The search for coffee gave time for the children's excitement and anticipation to smolder and burn bright. They were crazy from the short delays.
Then we were there. We were there the same day every other Anaheim area resident decided to use their last opportunity before school started to use the annual pass they bought at the beginning of summer, when the promise of 12 weeks of vacation from school gave an illusion of every opportunity to visit the theme park, only to find mowing the lawn, running to t-ball games, birthday parties and swim lessons ate up the majority of the days. They now had this day to visit the park and try to reclaim some of the fees they had paid, the same day we had decided to visit.
The theme park delivered on fun. We rode the rides, saw some shows and stood in line. Shane was able to fight Darth Maul in a light sabre duel. The line to see the princesses turned out to be about two hours and forty five minutes so Sophie was unable to visit with them. She settled for having her face painted and later visiting with Tinkerbell. We had a long tiring day of walking and standing broken up by brief exciting rides.
Our trip East to Phoenix was similar to our visit to the happiest place on earth. We started off on the freeway with two hours of parking style traffic, moving at roughly 5 miles per hour. The radio told us there had been an accident on the road we took to get out of town. We pulled off and had a long breakfast. Once we rejoined the freeway traffic had opened up all the way to our new home.
So here we are.