Vacation of a lifetime–Chapter 2

by | Nov 19, 2021 | Crime Writing | 0 comments

Camarillo, California. I stepped into our vacation house on wheels and marveled at how the interior of this motorhome resembled a small apartment unit: compact kitchen, two sofas that doubled as beds, another single bed overhead, bathroom with a shower. But here was the difference–a seat fit for a 350-pound bus driver and a smaller (but equally large) passenger’s seat.  

For years I’d protested buying a motorhome thinking we didn’t need a second residence. After all, wasn’t the purpose of a vacation to break out of “hum-drum” for a big adventure? How could our family experience a “big adventure” if we lugged our house with us like a snail carrying his house on his back? We’d miss the fun of sleeping in a tent, cooking outdoors on a picnic table, and meeting new people. Besides, we liked roughing it: getting a dirty-bone-tired during long hikes, washing up in a creek, and marveling at our natural surroundings.

Not on this trip. Convenience and comfort would be the operative word.  

Jim perched himself high in the captain’s seat like a seasoned driver while I tried to find my way around this moving box. The boys opened every cabinet, drawer, and crevice reveling in the adventure of moving around while they watched trucks and cars pass by.

The thirteen-hour drive from Camarillo to Yreka flew by. Air Supply provided the music, Highway 5 from LA to Redding then to Yreka provided the backdrop and the boys alternated between reading, looking out the window, eating sandwiches, and helping Jim navigate. I enjoyed the luxury of reading, brewing fresh coffee, and taking a nap on the comfy couch.

When we arrived, St. John and Helen were waiting with a spaghetti dinner and drinks ready to greet us on what would become our gathering spot: the garage. Almost every meal, conversation, television program (very few), and card game happened in the garage. Since the St. John retirement home was only half-built, the almost completed garage and the weathered indoor picnic table became our communal living arrangement for two weeks. And the BBQ.

St. John was delighted to have Jim’s carpentry skills during his most recent project of building stairs that went from the driveway to their motorhome. I wondered when we’d find time to write. Between trips to the hardware store? Between fishing adventures? Or maybe the plan was to keep St. John, Jim, and the boys busy with construction while Helen (who would finally have another woman to talk to about the local Yreka gossip) gave me knitting lessons, assisted her when she hung the laundry, and helped her can peaches.

This big adventure is beginning to feel like Jane’s summer camp. Planned activities from dawn to dusk but none of them involved writing a book, reading a book, going for long hikes into the countryside, or exploring places off-the-beaten-path. For Pete’s sake! I hadn’t seen a clothespin since I was a kid. Domesticity wasn’t my strong suit. While I admired that tendency in other women, the reason I became an international stewardess was to flee the stereotype of “hearth and home.” For the next few weeks, I had the feeling I’d be revisiting clothespins, knitting pot-holders, and daytime soaps. But then again – maybe not.

While John and Helen greeted us with warm hugs, asked how the trip went then invited us inside, I stepped back staring in wonder at his stunning ninety-acre parcel that sloped down to the Klamath River, sparkling like a diamond as it twisted and turned through thick grass, took a deep breath wondered if I might be in for a surprise that had nothing to do about writing.