First of all, CA is expensive! It has been tricky to find a campground under $70 per night. We figured as long as we were getting ripped off everywhere we might as well stay at a KOA and get the perks of things the kids will enjoy.
Day 1: Down time
We stayed at the San Francisco North / Petaluma KOA, about an hour drive north of San Francisco. On their website Justin found that there was a climbing wall, craft activities on the weekends, a playground, pool and hot tub, petting zoo, bouncy house type thing and a mini train. We were excited to give the girls a good handful of days for playing since we have been on the move a lot lately. Staying at campgrounds for one night then moving on over and over again has been very tiresome and not our speed. Having 20 minutes to play on the beach during a pit stop is such a tease. It’s almost easier to just keep driving. This stay was going to be a break in all of that and we were all looking forward to it.
Sadly, the day after our arrival we found that most activities are not open during their winter months. Oh man! The first day the girls spent some time playing on the playground but mostly wanted to play with their own things they had been itching to play with for so long. Justin worked on taxes while the girls and I put together their National Parks puzzle. They really are getting the hang of working together. So exciting to see! The puzzle was neat to do since we had visited a lot of the national parks on there. We also picked out a lot MORE that we’d like to explore in the future.
The girls then spent the rest of the afternoon playing with their figurines and coloring with one another while I knitted part of a hat. It was so lovely to have the day to do whatever we pleased! On the road it is often a rush to pack up, get some schooling in and get from place to place in the van. Or, when we have arrived in a new location we are on the go exploring this thing or that. It’s exciting to do this but it’s also exhausting. It’s really nice to have a down day here and there.
That evening after dinner we all went down to see the animals that they had at the KOA. The campground had goats and donkeys. It was so sweet, when we first arrived at their fence they were all way off in the distance but as soon as they saw us, they all started running toward us. It was like we just left our toddler with a baby sitter and got home to have them run to our open arms. So cute! It made the girls smile from ear to ear.
The girls didn’t want to feed the eager goats themselves but enjoyed picking tons of grass for Justin and I to feed to them. The girls took on the role of picking grass and making sure each goat was fed semi-equally.
Day 2: Downgrading campgrounds
The second day we were at the campground it was cloudy and the forecast was calling for rain the following 3 days. We figured we would stay two more nights so the girls could enjoy the day without rain on a playground and then we would stay the next day due to our next day outing plans. We planned to tour the Living Vehicle (basically an awesome camper) the next day and knew we couldn’t be towing Wobbles when we did this.
It was a sluggish morning with playing and schooling. By the time the girls and I got together to go outside, it was raining! We zipped up our rain jackets, put on our boots and thougth we’d go visit the animals as we had saved some food to share with them from dinner. However, when we went to their fence, they only slowly walked toward us then stopped to contemplate their decision. They had been all huddled up under a large pine where they were staying dry. They paused mid field as if trying to decide whether it was worth it to come over for our food. In the end, they decided they wanted to go back and that they should stay dry under the tree again. Deflated, the girls walked back to our campsite.
The girls started playing house in Dimes while Justin and I got talking. We wondered out loud to one another why we were paying such a high price for a KOA where our girls weren’t even taking part in the perks. We decided it wasn’t worth it to pay $75 per night (with our discount), especially with the forecast looking like rain for the rest of our stay. If campers check out before 11am they are entitled to a refund for any remaining nights on the reservation. So, while the girls continued to play we scurried around to pack up camp in the 20 minutes we had until 11am. It was rushed but we did it! All the while the girls were changing Dimes’ interior into a restaurant. They cleaned all surfaces including windows with wet wipes they found and created quite a spread of food for Justin and I. It was so sweet.
Justin had found that there were two options for campgrounds in the town where we would be looking at the Living Vehicle the following day. One option was a semi-woodsy campground with no hook-ups and the other was a fairground campground (so basically a parking lot) with hook-ups. Because of the rain, we decided to go with the fairgrounds with hook-ups. Normally we would have chosen the picturesque option but when it is raining and everything is wet it make a world of difference being able to run our dehumidifier! Everything starts to feel sticky or musty after a couple days of rain without taking the moisture out of the air, Plus, we figured it would just be a place to sleep anyway since we’d be out and about during the day.
Off we went 20 minutes down the road to the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds where we would pay $36 per night. Yup, it definitely was a parking lot and definitely had a LOT of full timers. I wouldn’t quite call it a campground but rather a trailer park. It was what it was. We were saving money by being there and again, it was just a place to sleep.
Of course, the girls didn’t care where we were. They had been so deprived of playing that they happily played in the gravel and in the van for the remainder of the day. They even packed themselves lunches for the next day while I was decorating in Wobbles! Air plants and shells make me happy!!
For their lunches the girls packed a banana, apple, nuts and peanut butter pretzels. Not bad! It was another good down day.
Well, there were a few wonky things in the late afternoon I guess. Our three year old and five year old were having such a grand time playing and giggling that our little one peed herself laughing. Oy! So, Justin ended up hand washing a wool blanket and cotton blanket by hand in the bathtub to save us a trip to a laundromat. It was so late in the evening that a trip to a laundromat would mean him missing dinner and being stuck with the predicament of finding a laundromat with front loaders. Even if he had found this we would have had to air dry the blanket in Wobbles anyway. So…hand washing it was. Isn’t he a good husband?! We were able to dry the wool blanket overnight by hanging it in the shower with the dehumidifier running in there. We were extra glad we had hook-ups to run the dehumidifier!! We would have been in a real pickle otherwise!
The other strange thing that happened was this: Justin was outside putting some things in Dimes when a guy approached him. A middle aged guy who looked like he was on some kind of drugs came into our “campsite” and stood close to Justin without saying anything. Justin said ‘Hi’ and asked if he needed something. The strange guy said, “Hey man, I’m just trying to stay away from those people in the van.” When Justin asked why he gazed off into space standing way too close to Justin and said nothing. Then, as quickly as he came, he left! Well, that was strange and disturbing. Thank you strange man for reminding us to lock our doors. All day there were souped up cars and motorcycles racing in and out of the place as well. I was glad the girls were having fun playing inside the van as I didn’t really want them out and about at this place.
Day 3: Another rainy day
In the morning our oldest and I got a shower since we planned to dump the tanks the next day. I love these days! We had a great morning of schooling and then the girls had time to paint for a bit before we headed out for the day.
Justin had made an appointment a couple days ago for us to all tour the Living Vehicle. It is a camper/tiny home that is very well built and laid out. I describe that visit in this post: Touring the Living Vehicle.
When we got back to Wobbles after touring the Living Vehicle it was pouring but our 3 year old was super excited to make a rain castle with a waterfall. So, she happily played outside while the rest of us were doing things in Wobbles. It was just a sweet reminder of how the simple things are so magical for little ones. It was so cute to watch her from the window and take periodic pictures of her creations.
For dinner I experimented with a healthier pizza option. My goal was to decrease the amount of bread, increase the amount of veggies, make it cheese free (for Justin’s lactose intolerance) and make it able to be cooked on the stove/grill for versatility. It was a success!! The kids ate one cup of packed spinach leaves without even noticing. Hehe. I love sneaky cooking!
By the time bedtime reading rolled around it was still pouring and going outside to Dimes to read, like my 5 year old and I do every night, would have gotten our nightie’s soaked. Yes, we could have put on our rain jackets and kept the top half of us dry but this option really wasn’t that appealing to us. Soooo, we made a reading nook in the bathroom as an alternative! I put a couple pillows inside the girl’s tub which was inside the shower and our 5 year old sat there. I snagged a stool and sat with my knees bent into the shower (so I could fit). It was tight, but it worked! Our little one only came in once to get some Mama snuggles which was less than I expected. Ha, it was a pretty funny sight in there!
On a side note, something we have noticed about living out of Wobbles is that very often it seems that we are all attracted to the same “room”/space at the same time. Some days this is annoying beyond belief and other days it is laughable but it is definitely a thing. We all HAVE to use the bathroom for one reason or another at the same time or we all HAVE to be right in front of the stove while someone’s trying to cook dinner. Some days I feel like a have a magnet stuck to my buns and all my little and big ducklings are compelled to be stuck to me! I notice this happens at home in Portland as well but it just feels much different because at our house we can chat and walk comfortably in the same room (most times) yet in Wobbles we are practically sitting on one another if we’re all in the same space. Ha! I don’t know if it’s because we are close to our house in proximity or if we just have been in a small space for a long time but I’m noticing more of these after-the-fact laughable situations that we get ourselves into in Wobbles and Dimes.
On this same topic, two days ago before bed our 5 year old told me she wanted to go home. I asked her what she missed about home and she said she missed sleeping in her own bed without worrying about kicking someone and being kicked and she also missed waking up early and making gifts for Justin, Abby and I in the craft room. How sweet! I miss those mornings when she got up before us and had the freedom to do her own creative thing. Don’t get me wrong, we are still having fun on the road here, especially after the two days of recharge –having nothing planned and letting the girls play– but we still do miss home.
The next day we headed farther north.