Twelve Days of Vacation of which 5.5 of them were driving….

This year we only had 2 weeks to play with in between Ben’s real job, family going away on other vacations, farm work among other things.   I have my master list for the Trillium but it’s still hard to figure out what we need or may have forgotten but in the end if we have our wallets, passports and phones, we’re pretty much good to go.

Much of my anxiety is more to do with driving and if you know me, I’m not much of a driver outside of my comfort zone.  But the Trilllium is easy to hook up and tow so it’s not too bad.  

I picked Ben up at 3:30pm and figured that we had lots of time to get to the Duke Point ferry in Nanaimo by 5:45pm.  What we were not counting on was the amount of time it takes to get across town in Courtenay and the major accident near Nanoose and the fact the the 5:45 was the last ferry from Duke Point because it was Jan 1.  In the end, we rolled up to the toll booth where we were told that we had 2 minutes to spare and were the last car on the ferry!  Huzzah!

It was an uneventful border crossing with the border agent grilling us about why the kids were not in school, why we can take time off and where we were going.  As per usual they ignored Truman despite the paperwork I obsessively keep for him.

We ended up driving to just north of Seattle as stayed at a rest area that had an RV only section so we didn’t have to listen to reefer trucks all night, bonus!

Day 2 saw us through Seattle then Portland where we texted our friends there “Hi/Bye” and made vague promises of seeing them on the way back and kept going through the Oregon Vortex near Eugene where we had weird transmission overheating issues last year.  Ben installed a bigger transmission cooler this year so all was good, but we were still nervous to see if the Vortex would claim us again.  We ended up just south of Medford, OR at another rest stop on the I-5.


Day 3 saw us on the most exciting part of the drive, the passes through southern Oregon and Northern California, then also the most boring part of the drive…. Redding south, a little excitement with all the traffic through Sacramento and Stockton, then back to boring until we got to the San Luis Reservoir where we paid 18$ to camp at a really nice campsite along the water.  It’s was quiet and relaxing for the night.

Day 4 saw us deciding to drive through Big Sur because hey, why not?  Sorry Big Sur, I think that the Lost Coast and the Oregon Coast are more spectacular.  Glad we did it though, we now only have the little section between Half Moon Bay and Monterrey to drive and we’ll have done the entire Hwy 1 in the US.  We stopped at San Simeon to see the Elephant Seal Rookery which was not as crowded (by seals) at this time of year, though lots of people. 

We kept going through to Cayucos where we got our favourite gas stand tacos, eaten at the beach at the Playground in Paradise.  It being Saturday not Tuesday made them more expensive but we were finally in the area.  

We drove onto Pismo after lunch and got to the campsite around 3ish.  Set up the campsite by 4 and were relaxing in the sun by 4:05.  Our friends rolled in a bit later and the kids were off playing.

Days 5, 6, 7 were a bit of a blur but I’m sure there was walking on the beach, playing in the water, walking to get ice cream, 20 degree weather, campfires, kids playing, camping potluck, and going to see the monarchs.



I apparently was so relaxed I got a sore throat which I’m pretty sure was strep so instead of going to the doctor down there even though we have insurance I decided to home remedy it, which consisted of gargling with 40% rum and lots of Advil.  Sorry body…. 

We also went and watched the Rise of Skywalker, which we all thought was a satisfying end to the whole saga, boo to the naysayers. 

On Day 9 we drove 3 hours south to Malibu to meet our Brother-in-Law Ernest, who drove north through LA for 3 hours from San Diego to meet us.  It was a bit iffy at the beginning as we couldn’t find any beach that was dog friendly for Truman but we ended up at the Malibu Pier where he was welcome and I had a strong suspicion I’d seen the place in a magazine or online before (I did, I even clipped it out and had it in my recipe book at home, the weirdest thing being Ben chose the exact table where the magazine picture had been taken from).  


Beside the pier, we walked down the rip rap and had a really nice little picnic on the beach where the kids played in the waves and Ru-chan flew the kite that Ernest had brought for her (Miwa wanted to wait until we got back to Pismo to fly hers), and we Face-timed Nancy in Tokyo and told her how much we wished she was there.  We left Mailbu around 1 and were back in Pismo by 4:00pm.  It was hard to fly past all the cool places we wanted to visit again but next year baby.  

Day 10 we left Pismo after a nice walk down on the beach.  We drove up to Paso Robles where our friends had their food trailer, Debilz & Family Mobile Kitchen parked outside Barrel House Brewery.  It was such a cool area, next time we’ll do some exploring.  It was perfect, super warm in their picnic area, awesome food, kids were playing with our friend’s kids who were there being picked up by their grandparents as our friends were working. Magical.


Then we had to leave and push on homewards.  The reason for the run home was that there was a winter storm brewing on the I5 passes and there was record breaking cold heading towards home.  So we drove on.   Somewhere near Stockton, we made the decision to divert to the 101 as it’s lower and less chance of snow but also meant adding 2-3 hours to the overall trip.  This meant for Ben, a white knuckle drive on back roads through an estuary on a 2 lane road in the dark.  Poor guy, but we made it to the 101 safely.  We drove until about 11 pm that night, which is rare for us as we usually only drive until 7 and made it as far as Laytonville, Ca.  

It had to be said that most of the rest stops on the 101 prohibit overnight sleeping which is stupid so we parked just outside the official rest area and slept until 6ish the next morning.  We were on the road by 7, went back to the I-5 near Grants Pass and made it to a rest area in near Sea-Tac in Washington by 10 pm that night.  The kids were champs, we did resort to junk food and gatorade by this time.  Normally we don’t but we all needed the sugar and hydration to keep us going.  

So this brings us up to Day 12 where we made it to the Tsawassen ferry terminal by 9:15 am only to see the ALL but one ferry was cancelled to the Island.  Argh!  So we got on that one ferry which happened to be the milk run to the Gulf Islands.  It has to be said the conditions were not that bad though the wind did start to pick up by hour 3 and luckily we were able to hop the last ferry from Vesuvius, Salt Spring Island to Crofton. They did cancel all those ferries after our trip.

We raced the weather all the way to Campbell River, though did hit a patch of snow and black ice near Cook Creek where there were 3 cars on the other side of the highway involved in a crash and one car in the ditch on our side.  We slowed right down but managed to catch the 615 ferry home.  Just in time for draining water pipes etc!

After doing this as many times as we have we now know to get gas at Costco, it’s cheaper and almost all over the place, rest stops on the I-5 rock, it’s hard finding dog friendly beaches, tacos are awesome especially from hole-in-the-walls and rum will kill everything.

12 days, 4500 kms, our car didn’t break down (it’s a 2004) and 6.5 glorious days on the beach.