Oh, did I not tell you how the first foray went in Buffalo Soldier, my new teeny tiny RV? Maybe that’s because it went better than it could have, but not as well as I’d hoped. Let me put it this way, Andy is British. Camping is not in his DNA.  I’ve made a few attempts to get him out in the wilderness over the past 25 years, but it hasn’t exactly been successful. At some point, I finally admitted to myself that my days of sleeping on the ground are long over. So when I finally told him that I wanted an RV — I knew it was a slim chance, but thought, well maybe just maybe, he’d want to tour National Parks with me in it. He was decidedly unenthusiastic at the prospect. But he agreed to go on the shakedown cruise with me.

I picked California’s newest National Park, the (recently upgraded from National Monument) Pinnacles National Park. The fact that it’s just a few hours from San Jose and mostly on the easy 101 Highway also factored into that decision. It’s also one of the places you are most likely to see a California Condor, Pinnacles being one of the oldest of the release areas for them. Again, Andy was unenthusiastic about large carrion birds mentioning only that he hoped I had some gourmet meals planned.

So off we went — in the first big heat wave of the summer to one of the hottest places in Northern California.

Dinner was a shrimp risotto cooked in my handy Instant Pot on the pressure cooker setting. Six minutes! So that was a win.

Dinner was a shrimp risotto cooked in my handy Instant Pot on the pressure cooker setting. Six minutes! So that was a win.

I did have the foresight to bring plenty of wine. (Tell me, are four bottles excessive for two days in a National Park?) However, I managed to smash one of only two glasses I’d brought, so I ended up drinking my wine out of the cup part of one of those big green classic thermoses that your Grandpa took fishing.

The highlight of the weekend was our hike up to the Balconies, a section of balancing rocks and caves. Well, it would have been better if we’d gotten an early start. But someone insisted, after we’d driven the rig to the trailhead, that I make him a full English breakfast before we hit the trail.

balconies

We scrambled through caves like this.

And through narrows like this.

And through narrows like this.

And up winding paths like this. ALL IN ONE HUNDRED DEGREE HEAT!

And up winding paths like this. ALL IN ONE HUNDRED DEGREE HEAT!

Which brings me to the not so good part of the trip. I mean aside from the ONE HUNDRED DEGREE HEAT.

Which brings me to the not so good part of the trip. I mean aside from the ONE HUNDRED DEGREE HEAT.

One of Andy’s greatest fears is being in a situation where people he doesn’t want to talk to can corner him and force him into a conversation. When he’s on vacation, that pretty much includes anyone he doesn’t know who tries to engage him on any subject he’s uninterested in. He’s not really very interested in RVs, so he wasn’t happy that one of the standard activities in RV campgrounds seems to be strolling around and comparing rigs. So while he hid with a glass of wine in the sweltering tin can that was our little RV, I fielded questions from the curious.

Now, I’m not engaging in racial profiling here, I’m just reporting the facts. The English are always worried, when on vacation, that they will be forced to interact with Germans. Most English people will tell you how German tourists can always be counted on to throw their towels over all the deck chairs to reserve all of them, play their music too loudly and generally make a vacation spot miserable for English people.

So guess who had the campsite next to us? A couple of Germans.

So guess who had the campsite next to us? A couple of Germans.

And they were pretty much the Germans of every Englishman’s nightmares. They had a squalid campsite, drank copious amounts of beer, walked around with wet towels on their heads and insisted on fighting with the park ranger when he reprimanded them three times for building fires when the whole park was under a severe fire warning.

Then there was the lovely Michigan couple who kept running through the camp telling everyone there were hundreds of Condors circling overhead.

They were actually plain old Turkey Buzzards. But there were a lot of them. So I gave our Michigan friends points for enthusiasm.

They were actually plain old Turkey Buzzards. But there were a lot of them. So I gave our Michigan friends points for enthusiasm.

All in all, the result was pretty much what I expected. Andy is not converted to a camper or an RV enthusiast and probably never will be. That was clear when I mentioned to him that our next trip should be down to San Simeon.

His response: “You need to learn to handle this RV on your own. If I’m along, you never will.”

Then he helpfully suggested that maybe I should spend some nights in the RV in our driveway until I got comfortable with all the systems.

Thanks, Andy. Next trip is solo, I guess.

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