I’m pretty sure that the old joke about “watch this” holding the top spot among famous last words isn’t limited to aviation circles. Not that I actually said “watch this” when pulling into our spot in Carpinteria, but I was kinda thinking it.
First a quick catch-up – we drove from Pismo down to Carpinteria via the faux-Danish town of Solvang, where we had a lunch-and-stroll session, and narrowly managed to avoid eating the featured-on-every-corner æbleskivers, reasoning that they were a ball of sugared, cooked dough with jam on them, and probably would taste exactly like the description sounds. Generally we’re unable to avoid such things, so I was proud of us. Being full from lunch helped.
Solvang was another place I remembered from my distant youth, and it’s grown up into a mini-wine country town along with Los Olivos and a couple other towns in the Santa Ynez valley. Sideways helped the rest of the country discover what many Southern Californians already knew about the area, and they play it, if not to the hilt, then at least halfway down the blade with various Sideways themed tours and the like. It’s a nice place to explore, and the weather was perfect as I assume it often is.
Here’s Woodsprite in a large artificial clog.
We arrived in Carpinteria fairly late in the afternoon, probably more like early evening due to some dead-stop traffic through Santa Barbara. It wasn’t dark yet, but was getting there. I was on top of the world. I’ve previously mentioned my feeling that I’d scored a coup by nabbing a beach-front spot for the week at Carpinteria. More than that though, I had a sense that we had this thing – this whole uprooting the family and seeing the country via RV Thing – wired. Driving had become much easier, we’d conquered (?) Highway 1 and multiple national parks, we could set up and break down quickly, we weren’t making mistakes (again, ?)… “I’ve got this” was my overarching mood.
We pulled into Carpinteria State Beach and saw our spot, and though I wouldn’t say it dampened my mood, I would say it was not as expected. Beach-front yes, though a small row of dunes prevented us from actually seeing water. No hook-ups, but I knew that already. What surprised me, though, was how tight it was. Our beach-front spot was actually three spots right next to each other, and we would be sharing it with two other motorhomes. And by sharing it I mean “turn sideways to walk between them.” Furthermore, maneuvering into the spot didn’t appear to be a simple matter, as there were two more motorhomes right across the narrow street from ours.
Not to worry though, I’ve Got This.
I started my maneuvering with our neighbors looking on, though trying not to be too obvious about it. Tacco was outside, positioning herself in the spot in order to tell me when to stop. I have 4 mirrors and two cameras all looking at something slightly different behind me, and I’ve gotten pretty skilled at coordinating their use in order to shoehorn us into tight spots in reverse. “Watch this.”
As I delicately positioned Davista for a perfect slide into position, I made what is truly a rookie mistake, one that I’ve made when backing a boat under tow as well – when backing up and paying close attention to what’s behind you, don’t forget about the front! I’d been sliding underneath a tree with low hanging branches in order to get where I needed to be and not thinking much of that, when suddenly I simultaneously heard both a “STOP!” from Tacco and a sickening crunch from above. The neighbors averted their eyes and pretended they hadn’t noticed us. Never a good sign. That tree wasn’t as friendly as I’d imagined, and among the thin, low-hanging branches were fully grown limbs, one of which had done battle with our fiberglass roof and won. I knew immediately what had just happened, and my adrenaline surged, but not in the good way.
I was able to back straight out of the bad position without damaging us further, but I knew we had a problem. I did manage to keep it together enough to get us into the spot without further damage, but not before realizing that we were far better off pulling forward into the spot than backing in anyway. In my euphoria I hadn’t even stopped to think about it.
Upon climbing onto the roof, I was treated to the view of about a 4” by 16” jagged hole in the fiberglass, complete with bits of wood and leaf clinging to the edges. Right on the corner of the roof too. We were lucky in that it didn’t penetrate all the way into the inside, but it would clearly need to be covered to keep out any water. Duct tape to the rescue!
Here’s our spot, in the far more friendly morning light. I wish I had a picture of the hole, but then again maybe I don’t.
After settling down and re-caging my humility gyros I realized that we don’t have this even CLOSE to wired. We’re uprooting our entire house a few times per week, and there are countless moving parts, all of which are subject to break or be banged up due to poor judgment or bad luck. On top of that, most of them are of the “must be repaired now” variety, and could go so far as to bring us to a dead stop somewhere very inconvenient. There’s no room for cockiness.
Again we were fortunate, in that the duct tape seems to have sealed it well and it appears we have no more than a fiberglass repair on tap (with no immediate urgency – no rain in the forecast!). But it wasn’t an auspicious beginning to the Carpinteria beach dream stay I’d been so looking forward to. On the other hand, I probably needed the attitude adjustment.
In the Navy, this is the type of incident that earns you a new callsign, and frankly I’d be happy to ditch “Flight” for something more creative, but Cap’n Crunch or Limbs or Doofus don’t excite me much. I won’t encourage a change.