Camping! - in Bodega Bay
Ohh My Yes.
You did indeed read that correctly.
We went camping.
As in air mattress and sleeping bag, as in grilling food on the fire, as in keeping said food in a locker so the raccoons won't eat it.
As in having to actually make the fire in order to eat.
As if the teepee wasn't enough...
So what you have to 'get' here is, this is actually a case of Princess Jani going camping.
I've just realised that MPJ can also stand for My Princess Jani.
Ohh Sweet Revenge.
That's for every time she's uttered the dreaded words 'Princess Milly Throne'.
Back story, long before I was on the scene (which is why this my FIRST time to go camping), there was a family, a clifftop on the coast of West Wales, a tent and
a force 8 gale, followed by days and days of cold weather and cloud that had socked into the bay, sodden sleeping bags, full-on MISERABLE, the worst holiday of this family's life. Ever.
And the famous last words (I quote the lovely Miss MPJ herself)
"I will NEVER go camping again".
And from that day to this, she never has.
But that was before she met Tula and Lilly (Ruth's fabulous daughters).
Their insistence that this would be FUN, and we really should come, plus the lure of a day at the beach... well, surely that is worth the horrors of sleeping in a TENT.
On an AIR MATTRESS.
On the GROUND.
And they were desperate to take us to Fishetarian for (I quote) "the BEST fish and chips in California". And to introduce Jani to saltwater taffy.
Fish yes.Taffy no.
Well, who knew, turns out I LOVE yam fries.
And MPJ was pretty thrilled by the calamari.
Ohhh, we do love to be beside the seaside.
And don't you just love those travel moments when you get somewhere
and then find you've landed in to something completely unexpected...
Check us out!
In a State of over 39.5 MILLION people, here's us at Bodega Bay...
Nothing like sea air and the whoosh whoosh of gentle surf to make you feel all calm and chilled out. We spent all afternoon in our little cabana on the almost deserted beach, then it was back to camp for supper and the dreaded night of sleeping in a tent.
But get this!
Who knew?! - BBQ bananas?
Apparently it's all the rage dahling, amongst the camping set, don't you know.
You put a slit in the banana, then stuff it with chocolate, let it cook, turning from upright to side to side, then when the chocolate has melted, open the slit wide, mush the choc and banana together and eat from the skin.
Hmmm, sounds kinda dodgey to me, and MPJ was (it must be said) highly dubious at first (she doesn't usually eat bananas, most certainly not with chocolate), though after the first mouthful she dove right in and ate every last morsel.
As for the tent?
What can anyone say about sleeping on the ground.
I rest my case.
Well, I cannot say that it was better or worse than the creepy teepee.
This time we had to listen to all the dune rats rustling in the scrub. Which in the daylight I find extremely enticing and happily spend hours just doing my terrier best to try and catch them.
But at night?
Nothing but a thin skin of nylon between us and the wildlife?
I have no desire to tangle with a hungry raccoon trying to steal our food.
Ohh, this is so not my cup of tea.
At least I'm IN the bed rather than ON it.
And it's not freezing cold like the teepee was.
I just don't think I have the camping gene.
I am delighted that the Charity Drive will not, at any point, in any State, involve a tent, an air mattress or a sleeping bag.
You can call me Princess Milly if you must.
I'll be the one in the 4 solid walls of the RV, on the duvet, on the proper bed.
That's as 'roughing it' as I'd ever like to get.
Nicholas Green was 7 years old. His family donated all his organs, and his death gave life to 7 young Italian children, whose families have also donated bells.
It is hard to express the haunting beauty of this memorial, and the unselfishness it expresses. The way that Nicholas' death was turned into the chance of life for other children is so heartwarming that it made MPJ cry.
It was cloudy grey morning, the sea fog enveloping the coast, causing everything to feel cocooned, like being held in an embrace. There was a quiet stillness that gave this memorial a kind of Majesty, a haunting quality of standing sentinel, ever marking the way this one child's sacrifice was 7 other children's gift. The way one parent's bereavement was 7 parent's joy.
And in this quiet stillness a sea breeze gently ruffled the chimes and the resound of each little bell created a cascade, sounding like the laughter of gathered children.
It was so beautiful.
Luckily, MPJ was firmly of the opinion that a little is just enough, so we packed up our gear and headed back to Sebastopol.
She claims a need to work, but personally, I think it was because Bodega Bay is where they filmed 'The Birds' by Alfred Hitchcock, a film that scared, and scarred, MPJ for life.
To this day she cannot watch a horror film, and to this day has never, ever, re-watched the film that so frightened her as a child (she was 10, where were her parents?!), so terrified that she did not sleep properly for weeks.
It was quite spooky for her to drive past the actual 'schoolhouse' from the film.