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Anthony Chabot Campground

in Oakland, CA

March 2 - 4, 2007

 

The first weekend in March marked our first outing of the year in the Bounder, a short six-mile trip to Anthony Chabot Campground in the East Bay Regional Parks up in the Oakland hills. The motorhome had just come out of the shop from its annual winter checkup with the fewest problems and lowest repair bill ever. After nearly three years of pouring money into replacing nearly every major system in it, we finally have a rig that requires no more than routine maintenance. And this after having come off a 6,200 mile round-trip to South Carolina and back!

Having survived a perverted work week schedule for inventory at JCPenney, Pat took Friday off and we pulled out of our driveway at 11:00 a.m. to make the 25-minute six-mile journey up Redwood Road to Chabot. The narrow two-lane winds through the redwood forests, over the hills, and around the reservoirs of the East Bay hills restricting speed to twenty miles per hour for the majority of the trip with one or two downhill spurts of 30 mph.

Our new friend, Eray Honeycutt, had just bought Mark Littlewood's 1986 Airstream motorhome the previous Friday and followed behind me on his maiden voyage with Pat as his co-pilot. Pat and I were assigned the only pull-through site available at Chabot and by noon we had the Bounder hooked up to shore power, water, etc. and our furniture set out in the midst of the eucalyptus forest. Unfortunately, Eray was consigned to dry camping at the far end of the campground, half a mile away from where our Rainbow RV group had its reservations made in January.

It was early evening by the time most of the others arrived and in the interim Pat & I contented ourselves with walks along the park's drives. Temperatures were in the low to mid-60s, the sun shined down from a cloudless sky, and a light breeze rustled through the eucalyptus. Grass, mushrooms, and assorted bushes whose identities eluded us were exploding with color in the spring weather. Here we were in the middle of a metropolitan area of 7.5 million people with not a single urban view or sound intruding on the serenity! God, how I love living here!! And then our thoughts turned to our friends in Omaha who at that moment were being hammered by the worst blizzard in ten years and our friends in Alabama who were getting tornadoes from the same weather system. The guilt was momentary and wasn't going to stop us from enjoying what we had.


Michael guides Mark back into their site.

Mark Littlewood & Michael Culpeper arrived at dusk and everyone gathered to gawk at their new rig as it pulled up and got into position to back into their assigned site. The process of backing in, leveling, hooking up, extending the slide-outs, and setting out the patio furnishings seemed interminable; everyone wanted to see the inside. Their new Sienna had a full-size range & oven, full-size refrigerator & freezer, a dishwasher, a trash compactor, and a washer/dryer! Their living room was so wide, you could have used it for a dance floor and, indeed, Michael said he was planning to mount their rainbow disco ball from the ceiling.

Everybody brought their knash dishes and favorite libations to the picnic table as dark descended on the campground. A smokey fire in the ring provided an ethereal fog-like effect as a full moon rose through the eucalyptus trees. The eating, drinking, and hob-nobbing began in earnest. At the table: Jan who, along with Mark, had planned the event, Jeff, Stuart & Scott, Mark & Michael, Pat & me. Jerry pulled in a little later with his Airstream trailor and we assumed he would join us as soon as he got his rig set up on his site at the bottom of the hill. A loud crash and twisting metal sound sent us running down the hill to see if he was alright. Turned out the hitch on his pickup had prematurely disconnected and the trailor rolled backward on its own until the emergency brakes stopped it. No damage other than to Jerry's ego.

By eight o'clock the meet & greet broke up. Pat & I headed back to the Bounder and watched a movie before retiring for the night. I slept in 'til nine the next morning and found Pat reclining on the sofa reading Eray's book, a copy of which he had given us the previous afternoon. I eased into my morning with a couple of cups of coffee and after rolling a fresh pack of cigarettes Pat & I ventured outside to see what everyone else was up to.


Less than a tenth of the expanse that is Lake Chabot is visible in this view.

Left to right:Stuart, Lee, Jan, Michael, Mark, Jerry, & Jeff. Rocky in foreground. Sally behind Stuart's legs.

We joined Mark & Michael and their Basenji Rocky along with Jan and her Daschund Sally for an exploratory hike through the campground to scope out the best sites for future camping rallys. Eventually we found ourselves at the west end of the campground overlooking Lake Chabot and decided to take the trail on its 600-foot descent to the water's edge. Michael and I hung back from the rest of the group to sneak in some cigarettes without having to listen to disparaging comments from the others. When we reached the lakeside trail we ran into Stuart, Jerry, and Jeff who were taking the trail in the opposite direction.

We hiked a half a mile or better along the lakeshore before starting the gruelling ascent back up to the campground in the eucalyptus groves atop the surrounding hillsides and after making it back to the Bounder, I had a sandwich then layed down for a nap while Pat read more of Eray's book. In the interim Jerry had driven Eray into town to buy some new batteries for his Airstream motorhome and by the time they returned in late afternoon a hookup site in our area became available for Eray to move into.

The scheduled cocktail/dinner hour was for 5:30 at the picnic area outside Mark & Michael's Sienna, and as is typical with Gay Standard Time, folks started arriving with their potluck dishes and camping chairs between 5:45 and six o'clock. Which was the same time our niece Kristin and her husband Anthony showed up per our invitation and just a few minutes before Eray's partner Simon arrived. The wine began to flow and Kristin held court with tales of their recent trip to New Orleans to work with Habitat For Humanity followed by the account of how she won the case against the Redding hospital that had frightened patients into getting heart transplants they didn't need. At the same time she kept everyone on the edge of their seats hanging on every work and peppering her with questions, the men of the group were mentally stripping Anthony and whispers of “he's so gorgeous!” occasionally drifted over to my ears.


Above: Michael & Anthony listen to Kristin's every word.

Right: left side, foreground to background: Jerry, Scott, Stuart, Kristin
right side, background to foreground: Anthony, Michael, Mark, Jeff


Above, L to R: Scott, Lee, Anthony, Michael, Kristen, Jeff

Mark did a fabulous job of grilling the filleted and marinated chicken breasts. Salad, sushi, and other dishes covered the table and thirteen of us squeezed around it to eat, drink, & be merry. Afterwards we sat around the smokey campfire breaking off into individual conversations of two or three while others toured the inside of Mark & Michael's new rig. By 7:30 the full moon started rising through the eucalyptus trees and the smoke from the fire hung in the air like a San Francisco fog. After the death of several wine bottles, cheese cake and apple pie were served for dessert. By nine o'clock folks were exhausted and headed back to their own rigs with empty food containers; they'd return for the chairs in the morning. Anthony & Kristin said their goodbyes and headed back to Martinez. Pat & I crashed and burned for the night.

Pat had been so tired the night before that he forgot to prepare the coffee pot before going to bed. But, as always, he was up before me and had hot coffee waiting. Around 10:00 a.m. everyone gathered around Mark & Michael's picnic table one more time to say their goodbyes. By 11:30 we were pulling the Bounder out of our campsite and by 12:10 we had it backed into our driveway at home, a short trip to a distant planet.

By the way, a quick thanks to Pat who took all of the photos shown here with his new digital camera and allowing me to throroughly enjoy myself without worry of documentation! Frankly, he does a far better job of caputuring people than I do.

And for those of you who'd like to see more pictures, here's a musical slideshow: