Manchester Beach KOA

We arrived Thursday, around 4 pm. It had taken 2.5 hours of slow but steady progress to fill the RV but we had managed to leave Mountain View at 9:30.  I drove. At that hour, traffic on north bound 101 was heavy and we moved slowly. Going through San Francisco was tedious, exacerbated by the leftmost lane of Geary being closed. It took 1.5 hours to reach the Golden Gate Bridge from Mountain View. This had worked out well, however, as we arrived in Petaluma at 11:30, which is our usual lunchtime.

We bought lunch at the Walnut Park Grill in Petaluma because we have always liked it, eating in the park across the street.  Jeanne had a pineapple burger while I had a chili cheese dog.

Our original plan was to drive up 101 to 128, take 128 to Boonville and another road to Manchester, but when I set the destination in Waze, it recommended cutting over to 1 on Bodega road, and travelling north on 1 from Bodega Bay. We decided to take this more scenic route. Jeanne drove. Although we encountered road construction in several places, the delays were short, traffic was light and the scenery excellent.

We stopped briefly at Gualala to walk the dog and change drivers. About half an hour later, we arrived near Manchester, and I made a stupid mistake that cost us forty five minutes and left the RV scratched up.  When I programmed Waze I typed ‘Man’ into the search box and “Manchester Beach State Park” came up as the first entry in the suggestions, so I selected it, knowing that the KOA was on the same road, a mile or so before the park. Unfortunately, Waze is very confused and decided the park was on Biaggi road. It is in fact, on Kinney road, further north along 1. (See map below, Biaggi road, at the bottom is highlighted, Kinney road, near the top is the correct road.  Biaggi goes nowhere near the park.)

At Biaggi, there were no signs for either the park, or the KOA and the road was dirt.  Despite that, for some incomprehensible reason, I drove down Biaggi anyway.  Worse, I kept going until I reached a locked gate, travelling through some overgrown bushes along the way.  Both on the way in and the way out, the brushes, which were taller than the RV, scratched it.  24 hours later I still don’t understand what motivated me to be that stupid.

When we reached Kinney road there were, of course, signs for both the park and the KOA.  We checked in, found the campsite, and established camp. “Established camp” sounds like some Everest expedition setting up after a grueling trek.  It couldn’t be farther from that.  First, we level the RV.  At developed campsites, the sites are already level, so this consists of parking the RV near the post for the electricity. Then we plug in electricity and hook up water. Next, we extend the pullout, allowing us to make and use the bed. Finally, I set up my CPAP machine, and we’re set for the night.

We made a mistake when we packed the RV. Since the pullout was retracted, we couldn’t get at the clothes closet, which was blocked by the bed.  Rather than extending it, we simply piled everything that belonged in the closet onto the floor.  One of those things is a glass one gallon jug that contains the distilled water that I use in the CPAP humidifier.  The jug, of course, slid along the floor, nearly to the cab, crashed over onto its side, and shattered its cap. With water everywhere, we learned that lesson: Always stow things properly before going on the road. Fortunately, the jug started out half empty, and only a small amount of water sloshed out, so I have plenty for the CPAP for our stay, but it was an expediency we shouldn’t have taken.

Jeanne took Googie for a walk while I finished stowing the clothes and set up the CPAP. When they got back, we settled in, spending time reading, until 6, when we made a meal of coleslaw and poke. Dinner finished, we took Googie for another walk, around the campsite. We met several friendly people and dogs, but the walk was short. One of the downsides of this KOA is that the state park is completely off limit to dogs, because it is a sensitive habitat for the Snowy Plover. After our walk, we settled in for the evening, which we spent reading.

The dining alcove of the RV doubles as a second bed.  When we are traveling with Googie, we leave the alcove in the bed configuration. This means that in the evening, Jeanne has the entire queen bed to herself, and I have more than enough room on the other bed. Since Jeanne goes to bed earlier than I do, this is a very good arrangement.

Most commercial RV campgrounds offer Wi-Fi . The pricing varies from completely free to several dollars an hour and the quality varies from rarely up to stellar. This KOA offers “one hour of free” Wi-Fi every day. The signal strength is good, but the bandwidth is low, making it very slow when shared by multiple users. It also has a weird bug where it will present the login page frequently when you are navigating. The slowness and login bug can make it frustrating to use at times, but that doesn’t matter much, since I wasn’t planning to use any Wi-Fi at all.

I awoke Friday to discover that Jeanne had turned the furnace on, with good reason.  It had dropped to 45 degrees outside and was 59 inside when she did. The RV was comfortably warm.  Jeanne had her usual breakfast. I had a protein bar. After breakfast I walked to the beach, which is about a mile away. I walked through a protected area. There were many signs of deer and rabbits but surprisingly few birds. I saw a tiny lizard, about an inch long and two mountain beavers. The mountain beaver, an information sign informed me, is not a true beaver.  Nor were we anywhere near a mountain. The sky was clear and the path was relatively flat. It was a pleasant walk.

We spent most of the morning in the RV, catching up on reading. By the end of the day, I had finished an introduction to constitutional law and John LeCarre’s  memoir “The Pigeon Hole.”  LeCarre writes well and there are many portraits of people he has met, along with autobiographical material. It is an excellent book.

We had a lunch of chicken breast and Cuban style beans.  Shredded, the chicken goes well with the beans. After lunch, Jeanne got out the folding chairs and we spent the afternoon alternating between sitting in the sun reading and taking walks.  Googie normally gets two walks per day, one in the early morning, and one around 4pm. He is being spoiled this trip and had five walks on Friday.  At 4pm we walked along the road from the KOA towards the beach.

The state park’ campground was closed but there was one lone motorhome sitting in it.  Near the beach is a cable station, where one of the transpacific cables comes ashore. At the station, the road turns to the right, entering the park.  Since dogs aren’t allowed anywhere in the park but the campground we turned around at the cable station. The day was clear, in the high 60s, and the wind was absent, unusual for a California beach.

We had one of my favorite cold meals for dinner, crackers, smoked salmon, and brie, along with a sea food salad for dinner.  We had a pleasant evening reading.

Waze confusion: the highlighted route, along Biaggi road, was chosen by Waze. The proper route, along Kinney road, is farther north

Saturday was almost a repeat of Friday: alternating reading and walking, and chicken for lunch. For dinner we had a chop salad and cold ham. It is pleasant to take a break from the world, especially from social media.

I stopped at the KOA store, in a quest to make the chicken less bland.  I would have liked to use a BBQ sauce, but all of their selections were high in carbohydrates. Instead, I picked up a small bottle of Liquid Smoke™. We were not impressed with it for the chicken, but I decided to use it on mine anyway. Through inattention, I poured about half the small bottle on mine.  I added garlic salt, to no particular effect and mustard, which was surprisingly effective. Now I must search for a good quality BBQ sauce with the minimum necessary carbohydrates.

Saturday night and, I suppose, every Saturday, they are showed a movie on an outdoor screen.  Saturday’s movie was “Rio 2” at 8 pm. Having not seen “Rio”, not being a fan of lawn seating, and not looking forward to sharing the lawn with a couple dozen enthusiastic children, we passed. We spent the evening reading.

We were up early Sunday, and broke camp with no problems. We took the route up 1 to 128 and from there to 101. The drive along the coast was beautiful, as was the drive through the redwoods on 128.  We had thought to stop in Boonville, but they were holding their annual festival and there was no parking to be found.

Traffic on 101 was good until just North of Petaluma, where it slowed to a crawl. We took the Petaluma avenue exit and returned to the Walnut Park Grill. I again had the Chili dog, while Jeanne had the Reuben, which was very good. Once past the Petaluma slowdown, traffic on 101 was good until we took the Park Presidio exit meaning to use 19th for the return.

We made slow progress to Lincoln avenue, where we turned west, and headed to Sunset. From Lincoln home, traffic was heavy but moving well. We quickly unloaded when we reached home. All in all, it was a good trip.

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