Yesterday, the little kids classroom was the picnic table, set against Morro Rock (576' tall), and the Morro Dunes RV Park.

Last night we finally made contact. We have noticed in our limited experience at RV campgrounds, that other people in those campgrounds probably have the same conversations about us, that we have about them. There is some speculation about where they’re from, what their story is and where they’re going. Well, maybe that’s just me… Last night, Kelly started several loads of laundry in the on-site Laundromat. She did not anticipate not having a change machine, and we scrounged for quarters, so we wouldn’t have to tie the laundry to a line and have the kids run laps around the campground holding it in the air, or dry it over the campfire, or any of those other free options. We were able to shake $3 in quarters out of the bus, even after we pulled $8 out for the wash cycle. That last dollar eluded us. So we really would have one load of laundry that would not be dried if we didn’t take some kind of action. Meila and I were nominated by the laundry co-ordinator, who wasn’t feeling very well tonight after dinner. Kelly did offer us a tip: “There is a group of people standing outside chatting”, then handed me a dollar bill.

It worked out that our neighbors had quarters, and were kind enough to change our dollar for some, allowing us to finish our laundry business. They also coaxed us gently into the process of having a light conversation with fellow campers. We talked about the weather, where they were from, where we were going, their dog, our family, their family and then we were done. Nice people that were interesting to talk with, and we’ll do it again- even if we don’t need quarters. That is what I have been expecting in a campground- just chatting with people we don’t know, it just hadn’t happened yet.  If I was Trevor (and I’m not telling him about this great idea) I’d keep a few dollar bills in my pocket in case there was someone at the campground that I needed a reason to talk to, for change of course.

The widget that caused our leak. Thanks to a competent ABC Parts guy, we're back on the road, and didn't have to go to the shop!

Many times, when I decide to ‘Do It Myself’ and fix something- whether it’s car related, house related- or now- bus related, I spend ample time identifying the problem, researching the solution, finding the best deal on the part, then making my best attempt to effect the repair- and it doesn’t work quite like it should… and I end up spending a LOT of time getting it right, or calling someone for advice, or in a worst case DIY scenario, calling in an expert to handle the re-repair. Ugh. So, it’s a happy day when a repair goes efficiently- and at the risk of the part falling off and causing $10,000 worth of engine damage by mentioning my success- the coolant leak is fixed! (and I didn’t call anyone to help out)

This bag of booty holds over 150 of what Morro Bay is famous for- sand dollars! We did NOT bring all of them along with us.

We enjoyed our third night on the RV grid, (paying for and) savoring a 50amp electrical connection, free flowing water and sewer dumping on demand. Ahhhh, and only $41.80 a night. In fact, this campground is one we’d return to, if not to stay at overnight, for the $5 dump/water service (a great deal as private campgrounds go). We didn’t get too deep into exploring the local area, but sure enjoyed what we stumbled across. Morro Bay is home to a tidy little Coast Guard Station- Ethan and I started the day watching the crew check out their boats on our early morning fishing jaunt, each of the Guard with obvious areas of responsibility as they checked, sprayed and wiped every item on their boat with care (Don, I know it’s not called a ‘boat’, but since I don’t know what technical Guard term to use, I’m not jumping deeper into a hole by trying to use ‘Cutter’ or ‘Cruiser’ to describe their manly looking…. . boats). The Coast Guard was an impressive piece of the dock puzzle. On the other hand, the rest of the dock still seemed asleep at 7am - lots of folks sitting aboard their boats winding line onto hooks, cleaning the decks, working on motors.

They almost got the names of these boats right- if it was only Four Sons and Three Daughters! Taken at the Morro Bay docks.

Next to those working boats were dilapidated craft that had junk piled against the wheel, or stacked on the motor cover in addition to bland white seagull ‘business’ that showed their owners lack of attention on the steel and wooden hulled relics. Overall it was a great nonthreatening dock to walk along and see a slice of ocean life- the people and the marine animals. Starfish, seals, fish in the water and surly locals just getting up from a few hours sleep in the back of their Toyota pickup were easy to find, and add to a colorful morning experience.

Take note, young surfers.

The mornings have been early, and this was no different as we arrived back at the bus as the group was crawling out of bed. Since today was a travel day, everyone rallied to get things cleaned up inside, tidy their bunks, clear the halls and stow the dishes before departure. We beat the check out time (our standard protocol at hotels is to ask for a late check out), as we tried to get on the road to visit the seal beach, just 30 miles North, then travel on the PCH through Big Sur and even more spectacular scenery along the coastal highway. Our stop at the seal beach was rewarding- we witnessed about 150 juvenile seals- relaxing. An occasional seal would make its way to the water line, btu for the most part, they were resting seriously. Did you know that a harbor seal can dive 750 feet? (We didn’t see any harbor seals) Did you know that an elephant seal (that we watched) can dive five thousand feet?! No kidding. The wind was remarkable, like being at home on a moderately windy winter day, and we settled into the bus, in the lot of the rookery for a few minutes to determine if we could make it in the bus all the way up Hwy 1, since the highway signs said “Vehicles Over 30 feet Not Recommended”. (to me, that means ‘all of the other people shouldn’t try this, but you go right ahead, Mark, if you’re feeling good about it’) While we were in the bus, a big bust went down in the parking lot just feet away from our 2 story bust-viewing-windshield something like this: Three youthful individuals with cameras crossed 2 fences to get inside a well marked, closed area that hadn’t yet opened for seal viewing (like the 15 other people ahead of them had done). Passing Park Ranger calls them out of the area on his loudspeaker from the highway, then pulls on into the lot to talk face to face. While talking face to face, he realizes that someone has made some changes to the license plate, and he proceeded to investigate this crime and call for a back up unit and … it provided some valuable distraction while I checked into driving Bussie further North. I ended up calling a guy with a local tour bus company to ask if they took their busses this way- thinking that if anyone else could do it, I could certainly give it a try, having Colorado mountain driving and tight corner practice under my belt- as well as a handy tag axle that would pick up for tight cornering… Turns out it’s against the law to drive anything over 40’ in length on this stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway. Decision made for us, we hooked up the van and backtracked South a few miles to a highway that would carry us East to a wider Northbound interstate, and closer to our next stop to visit new friends in the San Francisco area. Bussie's size has impacted our adventure a bit, but the advantages of her size with this number of people are indisputable.

This graphic started with my intent to answer the question, before it was asked..... and before we went to bed the first day this was on the bus, we met a couple that remarked about aspects of our trip we didn't actually discuss. They knew about the boys surfing, and were interested and excited about our adventure.... We'll see how this goes. Remarkably, the vinyl plotter also gave up that night, so no more vinyl until I find a replacement along the way- maybe in San Francisco on Craigslist.....

About 90 minutes, 4 condor sightings and 2 mountain passes later we stopped in the shoulder at the end of the 2 lane highway before joining the interstate, to run the generator and cook dinner, then settle the kids into bed planning to run another 80 miles to our overnight stop. It is funny that no matter where we are, we can close the blinds whether we’re at the top of Trail Ridge Road overlooking 4 states or 2 feet from interstate traffic- we’re comfortable inside making dinner or tucking kids into bed- it is a very convenient arrangement being on the move so much. The bus has become very familiar, safe and homey. Tomorrow we’re planning to remain in a non-descript, isolated parking spot so we can accomplish lots of school work and get ahead of the time we’ll need in the coming days to visit friends and see the sights of SF, CA.

PS, tonight I received an email from the owner of the freak show we visited in Venice Beach. He ‘stumbled across our blog post' about his place, and wanted to mention that they had just acquired a new turtle with 2 faces. He sent us a picture of it- which will tickle the kids to know that we saw it before anyone else!

We’re so fortunate to be on ourBigtrip together.