This weekend was our first off-the-grid trip with the fiver. It was also an amazing weekend with good friends.
Our destination: “Indians,” an area in Los Padres National Forest, in the Santa Lucia Mountains, upland from Big Sur. Fitting for Indigenous Peoples’ Day Weekend, for us to be at Indians. There are signs of the Ohlone, most often their grinding holes where they made acorn flour. They had a spectacular place to live; we’re lucky we get to enjoy it every so often. It is a place like no other, with beautiful rock formations that offer views of the contoured varied landscapes, trees, and wildlife. In the spring, wildflowers abound. Usually there are gorgeous streams around every turn, in fact you have to ford two streams just to get there. But not lately. In this fourth year of drought, the streams are dry. But the stars, always stars… And occasionally the howl of coyotes.
This weekend there were ten of us in all manner of rigs: our fiver, a VW bus, an Airstream trailer, a truck camper, and a tent trailer. We’ve camped together enough that we’ve got it down. We circle the wagons and enjoy nature, good food and drink, and each other’s company. And Abbey gets to hang with her best friend Ranger (dog photos: Ingrid Stroman).
Everything went great with the rig. Hook up at the RV storage place was effortless, driving smooth, all systems worked, and we found that we can accommodate quite a crowd for a Moscow Mule happy hour! During the heat of the day, small flies swarm and hover. They buzz and land, but don’t bite. Still they are annoying, so it was nice to be able to escape to the fiver – and to the screened awning our friends were clever enough to bring.
The evenings were fantastic: comfortable temps, no flies, champagne and beer tastings, and shooting stars. And music: a guitar and a 9-person rhythm section.
As I was saying, everything went great. Until it was time to head out. As we began to position the truck to hook up, it became mired in the fine dust (resulting from the drought) and the wheels would just spin. We tried using levelers to get traction and mats and carpet. We dug wheels out only to see them rebury themselves. We tried all of our weight in the back of the truck. We tried pushing. [Yes, we wondered about the wisdom of getting a dually and not getting 4-wheel drive, as we was recommended to us.] Having exhausted all other approaches, one of our friends towed us out of the mire. Twice. But the area near the hitch was such a morass of the dust equivalent of quicksand that we had to come at the fiver at an angle. Even then we had to be towed to the pin – a delicate maneuver. So many reasons to be grateful for good friends!
So, we continue to learn. We now have a healthy caution about boondocking in the wild and will choose our sites and position with an eye to getting out! It will also be good to learn whether AAA or Good Sam would have come to the rescue when we’re off road…