Monday, September 12, 2011

Camping + Beach = 2 of My Favorite Things :)

So this post is long overdue, but I did promise it to you, so here you go :)

Three weekends ago, I had one of the best weekends I've had since being in California! One of my old roommates from Arkansas, Linnea, is originally from Escondido, California (near San Diego), and most of her family still lives around there. Linnea lives in Little Rock now (although not for long! More on that later...), but her family was nice enough to invite me to tag along for their family camping trip on the beach. They were going for a whole week, but since I had work, I just drove down for the weekend. It was such a great time!

I left work early on Friday thinking I would get a head start on some of the weekend freeway traffic. Much to my dismay, I had some car trouble...I got about half a mile away from my office building, and my temperature gauge was shooting up like crazy...since it's never good to blow up your engine by letting it overheat, I turned on my heater full blast (mind you, it was roughly 110 degrees that day...) to get it to go down. It was still warm, but it seemed to at least be helping. I drove off base, and found a mechanic I could stop at to have them take a look at it...I figured my fan was going out or something. I walked in and asked if they could take a look at it, and he said they were swamped and the earliest he could get me in would be Thursday (umm...hello...dying car. Thursday is almost a week away. Not gonna work...) So he said, "You might try such-and-such automotive down the street." So off we went, the Silver Bullet and I, and we drove down the street, heat a-blazin'. I walked in, told them my problem, waited 20 minutes for them to actually get to me (apparently Friday afternoons are busy for mechanics...who knew?). This guy comes out to my car, writes down some info like my VIN and license plate number, the mileage, make and model of Bullet. Then he takes forever to punch all this information into his computer...I'm sitting here thinking, "Geeze, all I asked is for you to take a look at the dang thing to tell me WHAT needs to be fixed...not fix it." Then he proceeds to print out this slip of paper, which happens to be a receipt for 1 hour of labor for $80 and tells me to sign it. I said, "You're going to charge me 80 bucks to LOOK at my car? Seriously?" I said no thank you and walked to my car...I was devastated. It had been a really rough week, and I was beyond ready to get out of town for the weekend. At that point I thought my life was over and I was going to have to go home and sulk... that time I figured my car had been sitting there long enough for me to at least pop the hood and have a look for myself...the hood was still really hot, but I managed to not burn myself. I open it up and realize my coolant reservoir is bone dry. I had just gotten my oil changed a couple of weeks prior, and evidently they did not put my cap on the reservoir all the way and all the coolant evaporated out. I was relieved, because this meant it was an easy fix. I could not believe that guy was going to charge me $80 to figure that out...

I went in and asked if they sold coolant, and they sold me a gallon for $14.75. I am actually still beside myself at what happened next...the lady charged my credit card and printed off the receipt for me to sign...She hands me two pieces of paper and says, "Sign both of these please." So I sign the top one, for $14.75, and I look at the bottom one and it's the $80 receipt. I handed it back to her and kindly said, "Nice try, though." I walked out to my car, poured my coolant in and went on my way. Looking back, I should've just asked if they had an empty jug somewhere that I could fill with water just to get me down the road to Auto Zone...but hey, you win some, you lose some. Me and the Silver Bullet made it home just fine, I loaded up my bags, drove around town for a bit to make sure it was, in fact, a simple fix and nothing else was wrong. Bullet did great, and we hit the road to head to Oceanside.

It ended up being about a 3 hour drive, which was actually less than I expected...I must've gotten lucky with the freeway traffic despite the forces of the universe working against me. I decided to tell myself it was a Godsend...maybe something horrible, like a head-on collision, would've happened to me had I left "on time." I told Jesus a little thank you when I arrived safely :) I made it to Camp Pendleton, a Marine base in Oceanside, and made my way to Del Mar Resort, where we were camping. Linnea's parents, grandparents, sisters, brother-in-law, nephew and a family friend were there. Her parents and grandparents both had an RV, and the rest of us were sleeping in tents. They were so nice and had my own little private tent set up and ready for me when I got there :) They had already eaten, but they saved me some leftover chicken fajita meat and I made myself some tacos...they were delicious :)

We didn't do anything in particular, just enjoyed each other's company and the beach, got some sun and had a good time camping. I had never camped right on the beach before, and I LOVED it! I already told my soldier we are going back next summer :) I hunted for sand crabs, boogie boarded, worked on my tan, played shutbox, watched the Charges/Cardinals pre-season game with a crew of die-hard Chargers fans, ate some yummy food and sat by the campfire just chatting with her family. It was such a relaxing weekend and I really enjoyed getting to know her family! They were so sweet and welcomed me with open arms.

Here are a few pictures from the trip:

Campgrounds at Del Mar Resort - Camp Pendleton

My home for the weekend :)

The fire pit at our campsite. Unfortunately I wasn't smart enough to break out the camera when there was actually a fire in it...but it was nice :)

The beach! The water was pretty, but it was SO cold! I didn't go in past my knees until the last day I was there...and that was because it had warmed up a couple degrees!

I am an early riser...not by choice, I just happen to wake up with the sun. So one of my favorite things was to get up in the mornings and go walk down by the beach. The waves were bigger then than during the day, there was practically no one out there, and it was just so peaceful.

Had to get a picture of some surfers. I have tried a couple of times, but I am no good. Maybe some day :)

I love sunsets, especially at the beach. That is actually one of the primary reasons we picked Cozumel for the wedding...we get the Caribbean water AND the sunset OVER the water :)
All in all I had a great weekend. I even decided it's time to become a Chargers fan. I am not used to having all these professional sports teams all over the place, but I figure it's only appropriate now that I'm moving to southern California, and San Diego might very well be my favorite city I've ever been to :) My only regret is that I didn't take any pictures of myself with the fantastic people that invited me to join on their family vacation. Maybe next year :) For now, I have decided that falling asleep to the sounds of a crackling campfire and the waves crashing in the background, might be one of the single most peaceful feelings in the world. I cannot wait to go back and take Walter with me so he can experience it too :)

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