2014- September Road Trip to San Diego

2014- September Road Trip to San Diego

I was planning to retire in a few months and had been interested in getting a 5th Wheel and truck at some point to travel around in. Actually, I have had this fantasy of some sort of travel trailer, 5th Wheel or Motorhome for some time. When he had bought the Ford Ranger back in the 90’s, we got the tow package because we had been looking at Hi-Lo trailers that are lightweight enough to be towed by a small truck. We got the truck but never did get the trailer.

Over the years, my trailer fantasy morphed into a 5th Wheel fantasy. I discovered how much head room you have in a Fifth Wheel. Milton and I are both 6’4,” (although I think he has shrank an itch somehow over the year, lol!). Trailers usually have ceilings of about 7 feet. A Fifth Wheel can have a ceiling of 10 feet or more.

Since I was getting so close to my retirement and the possibility of something like a Fifth Wheel, I thought it would be a good idea to actually spend a few nights in one. I searched the internet for somebody that would rent a 5th Wheel and set it up in a park. I found just such a place in San Diego. They had a 34′ Forest River Sandpiper that would be available September 4th through the 8th. We found Mission Bay RV Park, where they would deliver the Sandpiper and set it up for us.

We had planned to take the train across country but then we got preoccupied with putting in the new shower and kind of lost interest in the train trip and decided just to do a road trip. Milton is going to give one week of his vacation back so will just be off a couple of weeks. I will take the whole three weeks. At this point, we have a reservation for a night in Santa Cruz overlooking the beach and boardwalk there and then a night in Morro Bay. Then we would arrive in San Diego on the 4th.

We decided that we would essentially follow the same itinerary that we did about 20 years previously. On that trip, we were still living on Waller Street in San Francisco and got a great rental deal on a Ford Mustang Convertible. We drove down Highway 1 with it’s spectacular views through Big Sur. It is probably one of the most incredibly drives on the planet.

Twenty years previously we had stayed in a room in Santa Cruz overlooking the ocean and boardwalk. I had long forgotten the name but remembered the location well and was able to track it down. Now named “The Dream Inn” or maybe it was always named that. It is a great place to stay in Santa Cruz! We had room 927. The view of the beach and boardwalk was breathtaking. We overheard people from the next-door room to us out on the balcony talking about seeing a whale. We went out on the balcony and looked and, although I couldn’t see it at the time, I could see it in the video I took.

After settling into the room, we took a walk down to the famous Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Like the other time we had stayed here, the park was not operating rides. The roller coaster was silent. Sea gulls sang. The sun shined down. It was a beautiful afternoon.

After our walk, we were getting hungry, so we walked back to the hotel and got the Prius. We drove around looking for someplace to eat. I think we ultimately just got Subway sandwiches and came back to the hotel.

The next day, after leaving Santa Cruz, we would drive through Monterey. As we were leaving Monterey, we kept seeing all these cars parked precariously along the highway and bunches of people looking out at the ocean. It finally dawned on us that they were looking at whales, too! We stopped the car and, again, Milton was able to see the whales but my vision just didn’t go that far.

That night, we had a reservation at a Best Western in Morro Bay. It turned out that Milton remembered our staying there on the trip we had taken in the Mustang twenty years ago. It looked like it hadn’t been remodeled since. The carpet had terrible stains. It looked like it might have been blood stains but I’m not sure of that. It did get my imagination going though! Was someone murdered in this room? Did they bleed out right here where we are spending the night? Milton didn’t think it looked that bad so we stayed. We walked down the waterfront looking for something to eat. We found nothing there and so we returned to the motel and got the car and went driving through Morro Bay looking for food. We found a super market where we got some chicken and some sides and went back to the motel.

We had a great time in San Diego. I remember living there as a teen and under-appreciating it at the time. Of course, I used to get harassed quite a bit when I lived there because I had long hair and the police in San Diego at that time were like gestapo. It is a totally different experience as a conservative looking white senior citizen with gray hair. I had been to San Diego a couple of times as an adult and love the beauty of it. It is so impressive to me that they don’t have high rises along the beaches and that so much waterfront has been set aside for the public.

I was especially glad for the opportunity to sleep in a 5th wheel for the first time. It was interesting. Neither of us realized that they jiggled so much! That took a little getting used to like being on a cruise and getting used to the motion of the ship. David said that you can minimize the jiggle with some accessories and we would probably want to do that if we owned one.

The living space was in the 5th Wheel we rented adequate but decor a little dated. We brought all of our own blankets, pillows and linens so it did get to feeling homey right away. One of the things that was nice was that the ceiling in the bedroom was high enough that we could stand up. Of course it was still a tight space. I was glad I brought a face mask to sleep with as the window treatments still let a lot of light in even when the shades closted. One thing I have never been able to understand about traliers and 5th wheels is that almost all the companies use a window valance and most of them are pretty awful. Milton and I would need black out curtains as we take naps during the day and like it to be dark in the bedroom. I am not sure that any of the 5th wheels would come with that standard.
Besides horrendous window treatments, most trailers and 5th wheels we have seen down through the years have garish coordinated uphostery and wallpapers with flowery or filigree designs that are rarely to my own taste. If I do decide to get a 5th wheel, I would only buy a pre-owned one as I could never bear the enormous depreciation with a new one. I would be fine with doing some renovations- in fact I would probably enjoy the opportunity to make it my own and decorate to my own taste. The first thing to go would be the window treatments! Then I would probably want to paint over or recover the wallpaper. Almost all of the ones we have seen come with very dark wood and so I would probably want to reface with something lighter or paint a lighter color. Any carpet would have to go and be replaced with something easier to keep clean. In our house, I replaced most of the carpet with engineered maple wood and would probably consider doing the same in a 5th Wheel if the weight was not an issue… otherwise a laminate. So, besides being a way to do some traveling, a 5th wheel might also be a redecorating “project” to do in my retirment.
We are not really interested in “camping” so much as having a “second home” that we could move if we got tired of one place. I imagine staying in any one place from a week to several weeks- possibly even months in the winter. I would be like a snowbird but just getting away from drizzle rather than snow. The main things I like about the idea of the 5th wheel is the ability to load it once at the beginning of a trip and then not having to lug a suitcase in and out of hotels. It is kind of like a cruise in that regard. I also like the economy of it- at the Mission RV Park in San Diego where we stayed, they had a monthly rate for their premier site overlooking the water for $1200 a month. It was a nice park and a very reasonable price to be in such a central location. I could certainly see staying in San Diego for a month at a time in the winter months at that rate. Of course, this was a pretty nice park right in the heart of everything and right on the water, so I a sure there are many that are less expensive if cost became an issue.
One pleasant surprise was the lack of out of control screaming, whining, crying children. That was one of the things that concerned me about staying in an RV park. I had read reviews and someone complained about Mission Bay RV Park being “too quiet” and there not being enough activities for kids. That sold me on it right there!!! I think we would usually travel when kids are in school anyway. I love the Bay Area in the summer so no need to really go anywhere in the summer. We mainly want to get away in the winter.
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