The PCH: Solo Mission

In the brief time that we’ve been Airstream owners, there has been one constant--everything we’ve done, we’ve done together. Due to an unforeseen, one-off circumstance, that streak came to a grinding halt during our transition from Santa Barbara to Malibu.

We had to check out of our posh Santa Barbara digs on the same Saturday that Sam was called out of town. Normally a day or two reserved for Pup and Pete time is looked upon fondly and offers a chance to re-binge The Wire. This time, however, the stakes were raised and I was tasked with breaking down camp, hitching up, driving the PCH, and re-docking in our new spot all by my lonesome.

Never one to back down from an opportunity to puff my chest and gain much needed man points, I declined to call in any favors from our friends in LA and decided to embrace the suck.

This was both a good (learning) and bad (hypertension-inducing) experience.

Check out time was 11am, but I was up at 6 counting down the hours. I killed some time by taking dog for a walk, grabbing three venti darks (yes, I do need a drink tray, thank you very much), streaming The Masters, and slowly breaking down camp.

First went the stabilizers. 9:27am.

Second went packing up the interior. 9:52am.

Third went the the tanks, black first--always black first. 10:11am.

Fourth, fifth, sixth, and so on were a blur, but by 10:57am I had managed to hitch Boat up and get dog settled in the cab.

Our spot in Santa Barbara was relatively tight, but had easy access to the 101 north. Only problem with that, I needed to steer us south. To the Nav’. After checking and cross checking the coordinates, I was comfortable with the route. Only two miles out of the way and we would be on the right path. Keep in mind I only had to navigate 70 miles, but every one of them counted, so I headed out a little nervous, and also a lot nervous.

Finally headed in the right direction, the nerves calmed. This isn’t so bad… Weather is great… The highway is pretty smooth… Dog is my co-pilot…

Then…”In one quarter mile, turn right onto Rice Road.” “Take next right.” “TURN motherf*cker!”

Having not traversed this particular route, I assumed there would be a highway to highway merge and “Rice Road” never crossed my mind. As I’ve mentioned, while potentially enjoyable for other reasons, driving Boat on surface streets present a unique set of challenges and going it alone, there was a moment of panic. My heart rate quickly came back to normal once I realized Siri had my best interests in mind and I was, in fact, headed to Malibu.

Five miles later, we’re on the PCH. For those who aren’t familiar, the PCH is one of the most picturesque and dangerous highways in America. To the east; Santa Monica Mountains, complete with exposed rock and falling rock warning signs. The the west; stunning views of the Pacific, cars lined as far as the eye can see, and copious amounts of cycling teams that apparently decided not to rock their indoor Pelotons. Their kits were uniform and pleasant; their road etiquette, not so much.

After 30 or so miles, I had successfully avoided becoming a statistic and came up to the Malibu RV Park, turn left here sign.

Seeing this sign offered another set of mixed emotions. On the one hand, I had reached my destination. On the other, sh*t, I reached my destination and I was mere moments away from having to back into our spot, solo.

There’s a “slight” incline pulling up to the park’s office, but because I arrived right at check-in time, I thought it would be clear sailing. Nope… There was a line three deep and I had no choice but to set the brake, head into the office on foot, and hope that I wouldn’t get a call from the Highway Patrol about a 28 foot trailer and corresponding tow vehicle blocking all four lanes of the PCH.

Good luck prevailed and off I was to site C8.

Site C8 is lovely. There’s plenty of room to spread out. With our rear facing bedroom, we have a view of the water. It’s close to the bathrooms and laundry facilities. And there’s even a picnic table.

Site C8 is also tight as hell and backing into it requires one to take up the whole road. Normally, Sam would jump out, and I’d talk myself off the ledge--knowing that together we’d dock Boat like the pros we pretend to be. Like all things this leg, “Normally,” did not apply.

With no choice but to do it, I dove in. Strategically placing boat several yards past the spot, I got out of the rig and surveyed the landscape. Pretty straight forward. Just need to start at a 37 degree angle, make a few adjustments, straighten out accordingly, level off, and we’d be good to go.

Dog and I started off perfectly. Setting the initial angle was no problem and within two minutes I was feeling pretty confident. After two minutes and 20 seconds, I was no longer feeling myself. Turns out that having your better half guide you into a spot is paramount to success. While the back-up camera lent some support and the crunching sound when I hit the electrical box helped my spatial awareness, docking the rig by myself took a lot more time and effort than initially planned.

After several, “Get out and check” trips and apologies to the other RVs I was blocking during the process, Boat was finally in her slip and, fortunately, relatively level. In line with the set-up checklist, I still had work to do, but the hard part was over. PBR was my friend that evening.

Moral of the story, forego the man points and plan your journey accordingly.

Love you, babe.


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