Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Amazon Adventure #2. 'Goin` down the highway'.

Anne (behind the car), Heather, Gwyn, Elaine, at a rest stop making breakfast.

Over the next two weeks we crossed America by driving south to Central California and then east through the desert states and along the Gulf Coast to central Florida. Easily said in one sentence, but a land voyage full of adventure in it`s own right. For towing, the two hulls were held side by side with temporary 4x4 cross beams so the package was within the width restrictions for highway travel, but the 26` hulls together with the trailer was more like 30` long and high and light. Going down the highway turned into a white knuckle experience for me, the driver. The big commercial trucks loved to pass us and as they did so the pressure wave of their passing set our load twisting and turning like a snake. At first I tried to correct with steering but soon realized that it was far better to just let it happen and be spat out again at the end. We discovered that with all the family and all those extra school books, the car was front high and back low. We stopped in Oregon to install air shocks to balance us up a little. The electric trailer brake mechanism had to be readjusted and I had to learn to use the trailer brakes alone to keep us straight when going down steep hills. Fortunately, the route we chose had few of these.

At the end of each day`s drive we spent the night at either an RV camp or in a free Rest Area (lay-by) which suited our small budget. The girls slept in their berths in the hulls of Amazon and Heather and I in the back of the station wagon with a plastic tarpaulin pulled over the top for privacy. Trucks arrived and departed all night long. For meals, we lifted the galley boxes and ice box down from the trailer and used the propane stove. We attracted a lot of attention ( a boat in the desert) and I had interesting chats with many who stopped especially to tell me of their own sailing dreams.
There were a number of stressful moments and the girls found this far too exciting! Not only were we taking them away from home, friends and normal life, but their parents seemed not to have everything under control. Perhaps we could turn back? While all their lives they had experienced their parents solving problems as they built the little farm in the big woods, what they had never seen was their pre-children exciting life working with CUSO in South America and some of the canoe and sailing travels they had experienced in BC. Their first lesson on this trip across America was that ongoing problem solving could be ‘situation normal’ and that things worked out OK. They adapted very well.

The Golden Gate.

We decided that we would all take turns writing a daily journal and our daily record preserves what would by now be a hazy memory.

Nov. 9th.
6:00 PM. Stopped for night in Centralia, Wash. We have developed electrical problems with the car. No lights or brakes. Too dangerous to continue so we have found an RV park and bought a pizza for supper. It`s too cold to cook supper outside. Elaine and Anne are going to snuggle into their duvets and listen to the radio while Gwyn and I start on one of her French tapes in the car. The plan is: to get up at the crack of dawn to bags the showers, a cold breakfast, and then on to find a garage to get our electricals fixed. Hopefully, we will get almost to California tomorrow. We`d better not spend any money, that`s for sure! Heather.
Nov. 13th.
Today we drove through San Francisco. Crossing the Golden Gate bridge was hair raising. The family say it was quite a thrill to see the bridge, the bay and the great shining city spread out around them. I would n`t know, as I was white knuckling the rig along a narrow space between the bridge side and rushing traffic.
Later that night we shopped for groceries at Los Banos. We are not finding food cheap at all. Then driving on in the dark. We drove past Fresno with passing trucks buffeting us as they roared by. Down to 45 mph and sleepy. Finally see a camping sign and turn off and wind through grape orchards to a RV park on a lake.
A quick supper of egg in a hole and so to the end of the day. Everyone tired, but cheerful. Tomorrow, Bakersfield, a mountain pass and the Mojave Desert. Bill.

Mon. Nov.17th.
Last night we slept in a rest area again. Unfortunately we had to sleep with the Trucks!! There were a lot of weird people and it was kinda scary! There was this one bum who went around asking people for a ride, food etc. This morning he asked dad, and he gave him a razor and a couple of buns. Wow! The people in the hippie van right beside us were all stoned.
Today was kinda boring, but - that`s usual! We got to Van Horn, Texas, tonight and are staying in a RV park. ............Wow, but isn`t this FUN! Anne.
Thursday, Nov. 20th.
Today we all woke up complaining about how bad our sleep was last night. I could explain that rest area in two words. THE WORST!
We started up again and drove toward a storm. There were dark clouds and the sky looked mean!
Along the road there were pine trees and some other kind that were yellow and green. We missed the storm `cuz we went to the left of it. Soon we were on a bridge over the Atchafalaya swamp. I say it is the longest bridge in the world. I know it`s not true but I don`t care! We finally saw a gas sign and we got off the bridge thank goodness as my arms were getting tired ( hands up for all bridges) We soon found there was no gas so we turned around and went back on the bridge and up went my hands! We still were looking for Alligators or crocodiles.
We crossed the border to Mississippi. We stopped at a rest stop and we went down to a swamp-like thing with a bridge going across to a pond or lake. There was a stick that looked like a crocodile. I thought it was! Gwyn.

Friday Nov. 21st.
Today we woke up in the most beautiful park ( Buccaneer Park) and had showers. We left the park at `bout 9:00 and drove down the beach front. White sand and beautiful houses. My first sight of the Atlantic Ocean ( Gulf of Mexico). We went over a long bridge that had people fishing on it and we nearly got caught by a fishing rod! We got into Alabama and through it again in about an hour. We did n`t see much of it except for a tunnel that we held over our heads ( hands up for all tunnels) all the way through in Mobile. Then we got to Florida and we stopped at a rest stop info. center and had some Florida Orange Juice. And they gave it for FREE!!!! Later it was starting to get dark and a semi passed us and put our car totally out of control! We were swerving all across the road.
We are staying at a campground near the highway but not so close that we can hear the trucks. Elaine.

Sat. Nov 22nd.
This folks is our last day of this drive. We should get to Plant City sometime tonight. Good! Great! Yeah!
We stopped for lunch at a rest area as usual. Florida is pretty much OK. Not as pretty as Mississippi, but OK. When we got to Plant City we found a supermarket and phoned dad`s cousin Bob. Their house is pretty small, but nice. Smells like mothballs.
Mom and dad think they are pretty smart trying to scare us into believing all their stories about cockroaches. By the end I did n`t know what to believe. Ugh! They sound disgusting! Well, I`ll believe it when I see it. Time for bed. It`s nice to have lights and a BED for the first time in two weeks. Anne.

1 comment:

Gwyn said...

Hi Dad, Remember when a hatch cover blew off the boat because one of us girls left it open? If I remember correctly, we went back along the same stretch of highway to try and find it, but had to build a new one instead.