Have clubs, still travel

4 04 2014

Yesterday the golf clubs, Scottish Wife and I got back from a three week camping/golfing trip in the States. It actually lasted 23 days (including a somewhat unexpected stopover in San Francisco), during which time we drove 4,405 miles – that’s 7,048 kilometres in Canadian money – visited some beautiful places, hiked some gorgeous trails, traipsed around some of America’s finest malls (allegedly) and generally spent some quality time together. That would be Scottish Wife and I having the quality time. The golf clubs came out just once, 20 days into the trip. And I started my round with a triple bogey, so not exactly worth the wait. Anyway, here’s a picture of my beloved ’95 VW Westfalia camper van, which ran like clockwork for over 3,000 miles:


Ours is the white Westy – note the nice left hand rear bumper; the red van belongs to our friends, Wayne and Marina. The setting is McDowell State Park, north of Phoenix.

Any would-be Sherlock Holmes (or indeed Staff Sgt Len Doyle wannabees) amongst you will have spotted a) that I mentioned the van ran trouble free for 3,000 miles and b) that I pointed out the nice rear bumper. This would be because while travelling north from Barstow in south east California a week or so later fierce cross winds actually tore it from the van. The bumper now resides somewhere south of Bakersfield in the Mojave Desert.

Probably our favourite place of the whole trip was Sedona, forty miles or so south of Flagstaff, Arizona:

Bell Rock

Bell Rock, in the ridiculously beautiful Red Rock State Park.

I may have mentioned Scottish Wife’s hiking prowess before. She might be only 5′ 2″ (on a good day), but she’s virtually impossible to keep up with on a long hike. Here she is, as usual, way ahead of me on the trail:

And to think that for years I thought our daughter Kate got her athletic prowess from me...

And to think that for years I thought our daughter Kate got her athleticism from me…

Then there was the evening entertainment:

Sunset over Sedona

Sunset over Sedona. Right after this we had an excellent meal at the nearby airport. Planes don’t so much take off from the runway as simply drop off a plateau into thin air and take it from there. Not really for the faint of heart…

We left Wayne and Marina in Sedona (Dead Horse Ranch, actually) and then headed north via the splendid ghost town of Jerome. 120 years ago the owner of the town’s biggest brothel was reputed to be the richest woman in America. Possibly offended by Jerome’s lurid past, the van now decided that it had had enough. The minor bumper hiccup in the Mojave Desert was followed, the same day, by the sudden failure of the indicator system. I haven’t used hand signals for years (apart from the occasional raised middle finger), but somehow we negotiated Bakersfield’s rush hour traffic and got the relay switch fixed the next morning. The following day we headed north and west to Interstate 101 and enjoyed the coastal highway and the testimony to opulence that is Hearst Castle. If you’ve never been, you probably should, if only to see how much stuff one man (newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst) can accumulate and pile up in one oversized dwelling.

I should mention at this point that I’d had a haircut in Bakersfield. More of a scalping really, (I’ve no idea why the barber assumed I was ex military), so when the official photographer at Hearst Castle prepared to take our picture I burst out laughing and whispered to Julie that I looked like a convict (as if she needed this being pointed out). I obviously didn’t whisper quietly enough, because ten seconds later I heard an unmistakably Essex accent saying ” ‘Ere, mate, ‘ave you just come aht of prison, or what?” Turned out to be a lady from Chelmsford who was on a course in Los Angeles to improve her confidence and communication skills and thus be more likely for in house promotion. I told her she’d just failed.

I shall try to gloss over the next day’s painful events. Suffice it to say that just south of San Francisco, in a downpour of biblical proportions, the van came to a sudden halt in the middle lane of Interstate 101. Fortunately I managed to steer her towards the gap between the highway and the exit, where we sat in a deluge while traffic splashed by either side of us. Fortunately, too, our phone call to BCAA must have been frantic enough to gain us priority status, because the tow truck arrived in a matter of minutes and took us to the nearest VW dealer. It being Saturday morning there was, of course, no diagnostic work being done so we knew we would be there for a while. The dealership gave us a ride to a nearby motel, and promised they’d look at the van first thing Monday morning. The hotel was scuzzy but at least it was near a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transport) station and Julie and I spent the weekend touring downtown San Francisco, including a terrific hop on hop off open top double decker bus tour of the area. We had a blast!

The Golden Gate Bridge, toll free when heading north, which we did the next day. (Teachers will do anything to save a dollar or two).

The Golden Gate Bridge, toll free when heading north, which we did the next day. (Teachers will do anything to save a dollar or two).

Three days later we were home, after the usual dash up Interstate 5 but making sure to stop at our new favourite pub, the Olympic Club, just off the highway in Centralia, Washington, owned by the McMenamin chain. Their specialty is to do up old buildings and turn them into pubs. Their first one, in Troutville, had at one time been a poor farm. Another, in Portland, was apparently once a lunatic asylum. The Olympic Club was a former brothel. I know this is the second time I’ve mentioned brothels in this post, but coincidences happen, right? We concentrated on the food  and micro brewery ale, both of which were outstanding:

So nice we visited twice. Once again, the would be Sherlock Holmes will be able to detect that this was the first visit.

So nice we visited twice. Once again, would-be Sherlock Holmes will be able to detect that this was the first visit. (Absolutely no idea why this picture is so large. Flippin’ computers are just one of life’s many mysteries to me).

I mentioned earlier that I only golfed once throughout the trip – the very enjoyable Senior Estates at Woodburn, Oregon. Larry the pro lets me play as his guest for $25. Scottish Wife lays waste to the nearby Shopping Outlet and spends $175 in the three hours it takes me to complete my round. Everybody’s happy!

But I do have one more picture to share. I didn’t get to play Pebble Beach, but I did have a mighty fine (and cheap – $12.95) burger and fries at The Bench, the outdoor patio overlooking the famed 18th green. Close enough!

Now that's a sight to set the pulse racing - and I'm not talking about the haircut!

Now that’s a sight to set the pulse racing – and I’m not talking about the haircut!

Anyway we’re home now, safe and sound. SW, who dealt with all the vehicular trials and tribulations in her usual calm, good humoured way, is still talking to me and so the van and I live to fight another day.

To all my fellow golfers and travellers – all da best!

Dave B.


















10 responses

4 04 2014

Great read, great trip. Thanks for bringing back the memories Dave.

4 04 2014
Bagger Dave

You’re welcome, Martin. Though I hope you never had the misfortune to break down on Interstate 101!

4 04 2014

Looks like another fantastic chapter in the adventures of Bagger. Sedona and surrounds are magic – definitely on my list to re-visit. Look forward to the next update!

4 04 2014
Bagger Dave

I’m hoping for a quiet life for a while now, Ben…

4 04 2014

Good to see you and the wife are using the van for what it was intended and not just to haul your clubs back and forth to G.G.G.C It always amazes me how you can turn a short holiday into a must read book. If we golf in the morning the cards will be at the Club Sunday morning. Welcome back old chap and yes I did sort out the Houlgrave handicap problem. Len Doyle

5 04 2014
Bagger Dave

I’ll be golfing today, weather permitting, and I’ll be at the club for breakfast and score cards at 9.00 tomorrow. I’ve told Houlgrave he’s a whiner – but thanks for sorting it!

5 04 2014
Mike Brooker

How come teachers retire early?

Love from littler Bro, who’s down to 3 days in July (and strangely uncertain about stopping completely). Can’t explain.

5 04 2014
Bagger Dave

All about pensions, I suppose, Mike. Julie and I have (small) amounts of money coming in on five separate dates every month – it makes me laugh every time!

Good news about reduced time coming up. My guess is that by September you’ll start thinking “Why not one day a week? Or none?”

6 04 2014

Always enjoy your blogs Bagger keep them coming….

6 04 2014
Bagger Dave

Thanks, Wayne. People always seem to enjoy reading about others’ misfortune!

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