June 11, Los Angeles to Ojai
We were supposed to leave at 2 on Friday, make Ojai, and rest for an early start over the Highway 33, but everything was delayed due to work (Robert), and compulsive cleaning (Jenny). You know it is not a good day when you are vacuuming at 7 to mop the floors, and poor Harold-the Puppymonster agreed. He had already lived through the traumatic experience of seeing two of his sworn foes, the monster that lives in the closet with the very, very long tail that plugs into the wall do batter with the wall heater monster, and he was quite unsettled when Mom removed the garbage can for a bath. By the time Friday morning rolled around and mop was still cleaning, Harold was a nervous wreck. Mom wasn’t doing much better, trying to remember all of the 1,000 things that needed to happen, and Robert was mired in the sort of work SNAFU that is common for days ending in -y at his job. So, not an auspicious start to the trip.
We hoped to leave by 2, then 3, then sometime after 4 we got on the road, just in time for…rush hour. We saw a Bay Window blue bus on the bridge to my Mom’s to drop off food, which seemed like a good omen. Crawling through the city on the 10 freeway, I was in worry mode, tied in knots thinking about all that I had not done, worrying about all the hills ahead to climb, but Robert was already in Road Mode, joyously driving the Bus, keeping up a steady stream of jokes, exhortations to the Bus, and starting our official trip VW count. (blue bus=1, first day total=6).
By the time we reached the PCH in Malibu, I felt better, as I always do, with the ocean to our left, and my Bubble gun in hand, we made our way up the coast, through Oxnard and Ventura, and into Wheeler Gorge, and old refuge. Once we arrived, however, we realized that Robert had overfilled the gas tank, and my allergies and the smell of the leaking gas made for more stress. We went to bed early, but something was making me feel sick—coughing, headache, a little bit of a sore throat…but I thought it was just allergies.
As we got ready for bed, we joked about soaking our night guards in denture cleaner (although we also had a freakout when we realized we’d left Robert’s at home!), and every time I lifted something or tried to life something, my back hurt. Robert is recovering from a back injury, so he was much the same. “Ow! Ow! Ow! My back, knee, hip back!” was the chorus as we set up our bed and rudimentary campsite. “Two old people in a Van,” Robert said, and then we kept repeating it, so I knew we had one of the first trip taglines, the phrases we will use to define the trip. And no, Robert isn’t actually old, but he turned 40 this year, and that’s when it starts. Being so much older, I have already walked some way ahead of him on this path—my knee, my hip—but when I think about my father’s age, we do actually seem young. When my father was my age, he was the man who drove the Bus, flying up and down all the roads, chasing gold mines, landslides, and the occasional thunderstorm.
However, I couldn’t sleep. I felt weird, physically uncomfortable, and very scared about getting on the road…