We camped out at Pismo Beach State Park last night. As we pulled up after the World Series game, the sign said, "Campground Full". We thought that was kinda odd considering it is the end of October so we drove in anyway. We made a full drive around and found one empty space. The luck of the BootBus was with us, I suppose.
I didn't get to camp with the BootsBus.
Not for the lack of trying, I *was* there, and I couldn't find them.
Sean had given me directions to the campground and his cell number 'just in case'. I promptly left his phone number in a safe place, at home. Dang!
There really isn't a "Pismo Beach State Park". There is Pismo Beach, there are several campgrounds (three in fact, which is another way of saying several)
I went to the first one, and drove up to the entrance/booth. "Have you seen the Boot Bus?" I asked. The older, retired guy said "I seen Volkswagens" (sic) but he didn't recall noticing a garish green vintage bus with a six-foot high logo plastered shamelessly on it. I persisted: "It has Oregon plates" and he sluffed that off, pointing out that there were nearly 200 sites and half of them had come in when he was not there. We compromised, he offered me a 15 minute pass to tour the campground to "look for your buddies".
My bus and I clattered up and down the lanes, disturbing everyones peaceful campfire and marshmallow roast. I couldn't find the bus, I saw every make and model of modern aluminum RV, but not the Boot Bus.
I was looking for something that would have been hard to spot anyway, a Boot Bus in the dark, they would be sitting in the dark because I had the firewood and the lanterns in *my* bus. (It should also be noted that the Boots Boys are much more pleasing to the eye when its dark)
I drove back to the Ranger booth. Obviously the problem was with me, so I asked if there might be another campground nearby. "Oh sure" he said, "There is Pismo Beach".
I drove there. The Ranger booth sported a real Ranger, one with a badge and gun.
She was covering the booth while the usual (unarmed) guy took a pee break.
"Have you seen the Boot Bus?" I asked.
I was asking the wrong question. "There are several hundred people camping here" she said, "Have you ever been here before?" she asked with a tone of voice that was a blend of genuine surprise and simple pity. When I admitted that I hadn't, she explained:
"Don't get stuck, watch out for soft sand, stay close to the water. I think that I saw a bus somewhere between milepost four and milepost six"
I was already in over my head, camping wise. "Um, you mean this is really beach camping?" I asked? "Yep, and that'll be six dollars"
I drove onto the beach, and started looking for a Bootbus in a haystack.
What a scene! Dune buggies, ATVs, Jeeps and everyone driving on the beach. Of course, I couldn't find the Boot Bus, because if they were there at all, they would be sitting in the dark, I still had our firewood. I still had our kerosene lanterns. I had the icebox with the Thai chicken fixings. I had the Irish whiskey.
I drove down several miles of beach in the dar, wondering what the saltwater was gooing to do to my pristine California-car undercarriage.
I then drove right into the soft sand and my bus immediately sunk up to its gill slits.
A passle of your classic skateboard guys watched with amusement. They were standing around a campfire drinking 20-ounce cans of beer and all wearing the identical uniform of the skateboard guy, a knit cap, a hooded sweatshirt, baggie jeans. They came over to offer advice. Suddenly realizing that they were dealing with someone who was not only twice their age but also an entirely clueless dweeb, they became patient and helpful, teaching me how to drive on sand without being such an idiot, providing a shovel and helping me push my car out of its misery.
Having a half dozen strong young lads pushing made all the difference, I was out of the soft stuff and back onto hard sand within minutes.
I rewarded them with a generous sample of a green, seedless, herbal substance known for its medicinal properties.
They were quite pleased.
I drove back down the beach, this time clinging to the hard packed sand portion. Somewhere mile four, the Police/Ranger that I had originally found stopped me. She asked if I had found my buddies, and I whinged that I hadn't. She again asked me for a description of the vehicle, I replied that I was looking for a bile green Volkswagen with a "Boot Bus" logo on it in two-foot-high letters.
She radioed to all the other Rangers the description, word for word of what I had said. One radioed ranger reportedly cruised a developed campground adjacent to Pismo Beach in hopes of finding the Boots Boys.
No luck. No Boots. No hope. After dark.
The Ranger and I discussed the thankless chore of dealing with drunk ATV owners who like to overturn their dunebuggies in the sand after too many brews, and we talked about an incident that I had witnessed that evening, two alcohol-impaired ATV owners fistfighting until the California State Gendarmes broke it up. Realizing that I was a nice guy and a Boots Member, she arranged for me to get my $6.00 refunded because I could not find the Boots Boys.
I drove back to the original campground one more time, the one where the guys were supposed to be. Apparently, the site and sound of a clattering VW bus slowly cruising the aisles didn't alert the Boots Boys to my presence, no doubt they were glued to http://www.jlist.com/indexto.html on their notebook PC. Of course, I couldn't find them anyway, a van (the color of mucus) blends into the shrubbery so well.
I felt defeated. Not only had I driven nearly 200 miles and not found the guys after *promising* that I would be there, I had given away some pot, left Sean's cell number at home, arrived after dark and chatted with Ranger cops. Not a good evening.
My bus was also making ominous sounds.
I drove up Hwy 101 and parked overnight at the rest stop near San Ardo.
I was exhausted, my dog was exhausted, we both snored and got in a good eight hours of sleep. I woke up at about 5:00, started the bus and headed north.
I was driving along just fine, minding my own business when the engine just stopped running. I knew the feeling, it was as if a coil wire had come loose.
I went back with the flashlight and checked. Everything was fine. The bus wouldn't run, it was before dawn on a Sunday morning, I didn't have a cell phone, I was miles from anywhere with a broken-down, 32 year old VW and a brown dog and no NPR reception, but I was OK.
Several hours later, I got towed to King City. Since there is no aircooled VW mechanic in that town, I instructed the two truck driver to haul my bus to my favorite restaurant, "El Lugarcito" where it would be safe and I could eat the best food in town.
Many hundreds of dollars and several trips to El Lugarcito later, my bus is in Santa Cruz (which is sort of a warmer version of Eugene) at a shop called "The Old Volks Home".
I never got to camp with the Boots Boys and my Thai Chicken spoiled when the ice melted. I still have the Jamesons Irish Whiskey though.