Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Road Trip Part 10 - The End of a Journey. One Hell of a Journey

The next morning was the start of the penultimate day. And more importantly to some; the last night in the RV (with Barney’s love/hate cycle becoming very predictable now!). The plan was to head to the final RV site in South San Francisco (a different city to San Francisco apparently…) via Napa Valley. Yet again one of the conditions for going to Napa Valley was one of the drivers not drinking. And yet again the other two valued drink over seeing places and did not want to drive to unless they could drink in Napa Valley. So I had to yet again take one for the team. Cheers guys.

The drive was pretty straightforward, and a last minute read of the guidebook meant we diverted away from downtown Napa (described as not the place to go for the true Napa Valley experience) a little further towards the village (if that’s what it can be called) of Yountville. A very VERY nice part of the world, apart from the bizarre attempt to recreate a French style village with fancy bistros and bunting everywhere. Whatever I guess! However it was a rather expensive. I mean like $30 for a main course expensive. A little out of our price ranges, especially at the end of a rather expensive 25 days. Not being in the French style of the area, but a little less expensive we settled for a meal at a burger place. Which was actually very nice, and an enjoyable lazy lunch was enjoyed by all. Wahid had to make the occasional trip away from the restaurant for a smoke, and plonking himself down on a bench he provided amusement for all by looking like the archetypical Frenchie!

The Frenchie!

Soon enough it was time to set off again, with my sober self once again taking one for the team. The journey was about typical for Cali, with traffic building up in the rush hour and drivers cutting in and out of lanes at will without any hint of indication whatsoever. The result of this lunacy was a car smash as we were on the interstate, in which one car had been spun completely around in the middle lane, about three or four cars ahead of us. Obviously the cars in front of us came to a stop, and I had to stop pretty darn quick too. Which in a heavy RV with 8 in the back that is no easy feat and there was a definite heart in mouth (possibly protruding out of said mouth) moment when I thought we weren’t going to slow quick enough and go into the back of the car in front. Luckily, with everyone grabbing on for dear life at my shout of “hold on!” and luggage and clothes flying forward out of the back of the RV, we came to a stop mere inches from the bumper of the car. So so lucky. I was amazed at how my reactions took over, smacking on the hazards and trying to manoeuvre round the smash, whilst ensuring everyone else was OK (they were thank god!). a heated debate then erupted over whether to stop and help, the conclusion being no due to the numbers of us the RV, practicality of stopping mid-interstate and going back, so I just drove on with my adrenaline levels sky high. Causing me to miss the exit we needed and having to make a hell of a detour around. Typical…

From there it was one extreme to another – reaching the bridge into South San Fran and the toll to go over ($4. Not amazing but could be worse), the rush hour traffic had really built up, making it an almost hour to stop and start over about a mile. Turning up the music and winding down the windows we certainly got some funny looks from other drivers expecting us to be an older couple going for a little RV jaunt! There also some hilarious little kids waving to all the drivers around them (To no avail of course). Until we pulled up next to them of course and they could get enough of waving away at us!
We arrived at the South San Fran RV park (called Treasure Island, except without the treasure. Or island…) and parked up. Then looked around. The place was a full on living park – there were RVs that clearly hadn’t been moved in decades, with enough algae on them to warrant a full on biochemical inspection! Anyways, at $55 a night, with no WiFi and bathrooms that closed at 10:30 to stop the homeless people occupying them, it was certainly one of the more interesting parks we had stayed in. But hell it was the last night and we needed to be near to San Fran so it had to do. The evening was in theory when we sorted out and started cleaning the RV to give back the next day. Except everyone was drunk. So very little got done with a certain person’s attitude of “fuck that”. So mature… Anyways, I got my shit sorted (as I usually do) and joined in with the merriment, with Wahid knocking up a fantastic last meal to try and use up all the left over food. 

As the merriment continued and people started passing out, a slight disagreement occurred over floor occupation, with the self confessed feminist Antonia agreeing to go on the floor (having not been keen on it at all for the whole trip – Eshe had managed to wriggle out of it), except for the slight problem of having conveniently having fallen asleep on the bed above the cab. Barney, Michael and I weren’t having any of I, and so tried to coax her down onto the floor using a number of tactics (in our drunk state this seemed a great idea at the time). First of was positive advertising (read complete lies) in describing the floor space to be waaay more luxurious than it actually was, with an en suite (the bathroom), kitchenette, safety feature (the fire extinguisher by the door) and easy access (the side door). Needless to say she wasn’t having any of it. So after a unsuccessful grab and move attempt (with numerous moving of Amy in the process) we gave up, tried to disturb Wahid and Eshe having a moment in the back by carrying Amy in midway. Thus managing to piss off Amy and her fulfilling the floor space. Not a bad result, apart from upsetting Amy (sorry mate…).

The next morning was a 6am start. Because Michael set his alarm wrong. Muppet! Rising at 7am, it was time for what should have been done the night before – sort the RV out for return to the Cruise America depot. Whilst the usual suspects disappeared for various reasons (surprise surprise) the rest of us cracked on. Few hours later (with the RV still not named sadly – she just wasn’t a Martha type really!) the RV was the cleanest and tidiest I had seen it since the beginning, and it was time for the last journey. Heading abck to the Cruise America depot in Fremont via a BART station to drop all but the three drivers and Amy. We were saying goodbye to Michael here as we was iff straight home where as the rest of us were going via San Fran. It was a weird feeling saying goodbye to him especially having spent the majority of time driving with him riding shotgun. He looked happy to be gone from the RV though!

Sorting the RV out in South San Fran
Heading back to the depot it was time to settle with Cruise America the issues with the previous RV and being dumped in Crenshaw (LINK).  To be fair to them they sorted us out alright with 3 days free RV rental (the amount of time we had had Martha), mileage wiped off Martha (around 1000miles) and full reimbursements for taxis and hotels. Considering the millage we did on the new RV (3000+ miles – well over the included limit) we got $500 back. Not bad all things considering! Exiting the RV for the last time was an interesting feeling. On one hand I was happy that I wouldn’t have to spend any more time in such an enclosed space, side stepping everyone and making beds out of tables (Barney’s particular favourite. Not…) with serious discussions on who was sleeping where every night. But having said that it was part of our ‘gypsy’ identity for just under a month, and we had done and been through so much in it. The trip was definitely been a trip of a lifetime. No doubt about that, and despite my bitching and ranting at times I did thoroughly enjoy myself on it. Would I do it again? I would have to think about it I think, but this time round I am glad and fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience it, and with the 8 others in the RV with me. I mean when else in your life are you gonna cram 9 people into an RV, break down in a blood neighbourhood of LA, dance the night away in the desert, gamble in vegas, see some of the most beautiful places in the world, drive a 30ft beast along some hair raising roads, see some amazing animals up close and see some fantastic sunsets over different parts of the USA? And all in the space of a month with some people who at times you wanted to rip heads off, but you overall had a great time with. 

My biggest regret? Not getting to Texas. But that arguments been done to death.

The final mileometer reading (minus Martha's contribution

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