From Camping to Glamping

From camping to glamping #vanlife style.

Monday we left our $10 a night state campground and headed up north to Monterey/Santa Cruz. We are at our favorite brand of spoil-you-rotten campsites; KOA. We’ve never been to this location and are excited to find it to be pretty and spacious. The birdlife here is shaping up to be something spectacular and we are pretty stoked about it.

After a day of driving through 100 degree heat, then odd bursts of cold, and finally a sudden thunderstorm that hit us with Texas attitude, we arrived in a city. Yup, a city. I was so disappointed. I tried to be positive but I was really disheartened by the mass urbanity until suddenly… it was no longer there. We took a left and the road started to become more and more narrow taking us into a lush, green, rich space that felt mildly closed like a good forest should.

We were eagerly looking forward to dinner & a shower after a brief exploration of the campground. Specifically the giant bouncy jumper thingie.

Everyone wants to play on a giant bouncy jumper thingie.

We wandered about checking out the play area, pool, kids zone, dog run, and mini-golf. Then we looked up.

The storm followed us.

Huge flashes of lightning were followed instantly with thunder that started with long crackling buildups ending in soul-shattering booms. One was so close it left our ears ringing.

We had barely enough time to throw our setup back into the van and then stare out the window glaring at the weather.

Dinner was cold sandwiches and soda.

Tuesday was much better. Relatively speaking. Ducky and I went and got firewood preparing to have a mean marshmallow roast.  We took Princess to the doggy play area and tossed her ball for about an hour. Next we checked out the climbing wall, camp fun-train (free & goes around the entire upper site,) and the arcade. (After which we were down $5 and all we had to show for it was a plastic finger puppet and toy dinosaur.)  A heated game of ping-pong was on until we lost our ball and decided it was time to finally play mini golf.  We’d already been to the office and rented mini golf clubs for a buck each. 

Oh, but first we decided on a quick trip to the log hop. Upon our arrival I turned to go up and heard a huge scrape-crash-blam from behind me.  Ducky had somehow managed to attack the course and fall at the first stump.

He was gashed up ALL the way down his left leg. He was fine until I had him lift his shorts to get an idea as to the extent of the damage. At the sight of multiple (multitudes of, really,) blood droplets, he decided a quick squall was called for. Can’t say I blame him. He needed his 60 seconds of crying so we could get to the fun stuff that I was still sort of certain we were going to do. After 60 seconds turned to 90 I had to physically restrain myself from blurting out years of BS society has drummed into my head. “Oh, come on you’re a big guy, this is no big thing,” “Come on, buck up, hurry up, let’s get past this…” I was able to just hold him and say, “Yup, it sucks, get it out so you can get to what you want to be doing.” (We both find this matter of fact approach comforting and it gets the feels over quicker without him how to respond.) Finally I grew concerned. This is an “even year” which means we are due a broken bone. So I asked, “Okay buddy, I need to know: Golf still on?”

With gritted teeth and a growl Ducky pronounced, “YES.”

“Okay well we have to get that ish cleaned up. The sand you landed in is beach stuff which means it’s composed largely of sodium chloride. I’d imagine it’s stinging like a mother-trucker ‘bout now. I know you don’t want to take the time to head all the way back to the van… Oh! I know.”

“What?” Ducky asked in trepidation.

In an area of the doggy play space there is an honest-to-god full canine shower. In what can only be excused as a moment of mother lunacy, I dragged Ducky over to said bathing area, had him hike his shorts up and sprayed him down with the hose attached to a giant cartoon Rover. There was even a little leftover soap from who-knows-what-I-probably-don’t-want-to.

We then played mini-golf. Ducky looked pretty damn hilarious when walking around the little green holding his shorts off his left leg but he still managed to play a mean game. He walked out saying “worth it” and “magic spray* now please.” He hobbled over to a bench while I went and fetched peroxide, neosporin, and as requested *Dermoplast.

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All smiles thanks to the Magic Spray!



His leg looks amazing now. It’s developing bruises and the bright red scrapes combined with the green splotches make him look like a Christmas tree designed by Salvador Dali.

We went to bed after roasting marshmallows and watching the bats play. The next day was a huge day after all.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium. As done by Buggy & Ducky.

There were Jelly Bellies. Everybody wants Jelly Bellies.








Day 65- The Storm

Everything is damp. Towels and bathing suits that were put out to dry yesterday are still sopping. And by sopping I mean able to be wrung out, with visible rivulets of water.  The floor under our bare feet has a gritty wet feel and even my bedding seems to have a strangely moist affect. The place smells like wet dog (Princess really needs a bath,) fish and yogurt. Don’t ask me why about the last one, I have no idea.  

I’m having fantasies of spraying everything within reach with anti-fungal spray and calling it a day.

We were supposed to go out and have fun at the beach this morning. I was promised white sandy beaches and seas of turquoise with 85 degree water. Instead we are trapped inside our cabin- which the management kindly didn’t kick us out of in spite of certain reservation complications – watching sheets of rain pour down. The storm took its sweet time to get here and now is shaking us with every loud roar of thunder. It feels like it’s coming from up under the floorboards. Ducky is cowering under his blankets and CJ and I are trying to respect his feelings while mouthing “Oh Wow!” at each other with silent grins.

We have seen quite a few southern thunderstorms but this was different having come of the sea. It slowly and majestically rolled across the gulf last night delighting storm watchers with a fantastic light show. It was way off in the distance but I didn’t really understand how far away it was or how long it was going to take to arrive.

Last night was heavenly. After accepting an invitation from a lovely couple from New Orleans to come over for dinner, we enjoyed good food and excellent company from folk who don’t hold much for standing on ceremony; our kind of people.

We joked and laughed all evening (Ducky holding forth with his most “on-stage” personality,) after which I put the boys to bed and then succumbed to the siren call of the storm.

I crossed the dock which was a grey slash across a rippled mass of obsidian.  I thought to myself, “So that’s what they mean when they say, ‘jet black waters.’” I felt a moment of primordial fear and shoved it to the back of my awareness. Still, crossing seemed to take far longer than usual. There was a pair of young boys fishing their profiles eerily lit with the flashes from across the bay. The edge of the dock had two benches which no one sat in, the five of us simply sat out and stared. Cell phones were taken out, and after several minutes of earnest tries to obtain ‘decent’ photos or video, devices were gently shoved back in purses or pockets with semi-relieved sighs.

It was an experience to have, not record. At least not with anything but memory.

I returned to the cabin around 1am, the boys soundly sleeping and my mind swirling. After reading until 2, I found myself rudely awoken at 5 by the sound of crashing thunder.

So now we sit, surrounded by our wet things and try to endure. I don’t know what the day will bring.

I wanted to go to the beach.