Way back in January, our friends Kathy and Robin made reservations to camp for Kathy’s birthday in July and asked us to join them. We didn’t know if we’d still have Bessie then or be back in our old teardrop, but we reserved a site next to them at Bullards Beach State Park near Bandon on the southern Oregon coast. As it turned out we do still have Bessie, who’s spent the last month in the shop getting a few final repairs done. And this would be our last jaunt in the old girl before we put her up for sale.
When we moved back into our house, we emptied most of our stuff out of Bessie. So Friday morning we raced around trying to remember everything we needed to put back in: pots and pans, spices, staples…. We trekked back and forth between the house and RV with armloads of jackets and shoes and toiletries. We loaded up firewood and chairs and hammocks. We wouldn’t tow the car this time, so we took off the tow bar and installed the bike rack, hoisted up bikes. It was a hot day, and we were sweaty and grimy by the time we left.
On the drive to the Bandon, I felt a little off. I kept remembering all the things we’d forgotten to pack: salt and pepper, cooking oil, flashlights, lotion… And it was sad, yeah. I mean, here we were in Bessie again, and all these memories of our travels over the last year and a half flooded me, when we were footloose and free to choose any direction, and wherever we went we had everything we needed in our cozy little home on wheels. Except we’re not so footloose anymore. We’ve got this house that needs deck repairs and maintenance, and we’re working now and looking for permanent jobs. And Bessie’s half empty and just doesn’t feel right, and where’s the goddamn lip balm anyway?
Maybe it was the heat. It was 100 when we drove through Roseburg. The coast would be cool, and for once I wasn’t complaining about that. But when we got there and it was gray and 63 with 20 mph winds, instead of relief, I felt WTF? We got all set up in our site, then realized it would be better if we took Kathy and Robin’s site and parked head-in so our rig’s entrances would be facing each other. So we closed back up and moved, but pulling Bessie in at an extreme angle, Kate pressed right up against a sawed-off tree limb and for several minutes we thought we’d gouged the fiberglass side. We hadn’t. But we’d come within a millimeter of disaster, and we were frazzled.
Thank god for friends. Kathy and Robin arrived soon after, and we all got busy setting up our neighboring sites and shared space. Robin mixed up drinks. I heated up the spaghetti sauce I’d made earlier. (Sorry, I forgot the parmesan.) By the time we pulled up our chairs around a roaring campfire, I was just glad to be in the company of our dear friends again.
The next day was a little warmer and the sun shone brightly in a blue sky. The wind gusted hard, but our campsites were somewhat protected by trees. We strung up hammocks and relaxed for a while before all heading out on our bikes. We rode a mile to the beach, then two miles further to the Coquille River Lighthouse, which is a sweet little historic landmark. Out in the open, though, the wind was brutal. And the way back, we pedaled hard against it at a snail’s pace.
After lunch we drove into Bandon and walked around the older part of town. It was a sweet place, with great art galleries and fresh seafood restaurants by the water. There was a fascinating exhibit of sculptures and art created with sea refuse. The project, called “Washed Ashore” was started by Angela Pozzi and it includes exhibits that travel the country to help educate the public about ocean waste.
That afternoon we took Gypsy and Bailey on a long walk. This was Gypsy’s first time back on a leash in a month. She loves being a free-range cat at home, but here in the unfamiliar, she was willing to be restrained. We went on a mile-plus hiking trail through woods, and she trotted along the whole way, keeping pace with Bailey.
We had wondered what it would be like for the pets to be back on the road again. Would Gypsy think we were taking her away from her new-found home forever? Would Bailey be excited to be off to fun places again? Friday morning, Gypsy sprinted into Bessie as soon as we opened her up and sniffed every cranny like an old friend. Bailey got in and immediately curled up on her bed between the front seats. On the drive to the coast, Gypsy snuggled and groomed Bailey like she only seems to do in the RV. But back home on Sunday, Gypsy flew out of Bessie and raced gleefully around the front yard. She clearly loves her life here.
This last campout in Bessie was a bittersweet one, made sweeter by the friends we love.