iMAMBO This, dance to the Latin beat

Watching gray whales dance northward, dancing to the Latin Beat; happenings that marked the beginning and the end of a day in the life of motor home nomads like us. Don’t ask please what is around the next turn, we just don’t know, we can’t pretend to predict what is next on the horizon.

Camping in Caspar Beach, just north of Mendocino, CA, the tour book advertised the three weekends scheduled for the annual whale watch festival and celebration of daffodil days. (yes, the daffodils are in full glorious bloom) Little River’s festival coincided with our stay so off we drove to meet the ranger and docents from the Van Damme State Park and head toward the coastal headwaters to encounter the whale migration northward.

Due to the still impending tsunami alerts, we were not allowed down on the beach but walked above on the headlands with binoculars, scarves, hats and gloves in the low 50F temperatures and great hopes in our hearts to actually see some migration activity; there is no guarantee after all.  These great whales keep their own schedules, males migrating first while the mom’s and babes stay south until April, when the little ones gain enough layers of blubber to survive the long dance northward and cold temperatures to boot.

Lucky we were! Told to eyeball until we saw spouts of water rise like wisps of smoke, then train our binoculars on that spot for a chance glimpse of body or maybe tail of the whale. Our group saw numerous wisps and bodies moving rapidly northward, a good distance away, making photography impossible but planting the vision in our minds forever.

The experts educated us on the flora, fauna and scat details of the wildlife on the headlands such as this small, yellow plant and the mushroom in the photos.

flower little river ca coast

white mushroom after maturity






little river ca whale watch

The day continued to amaze us as we toured the galleries and met the people of this ragged coastal area around Mendocino. One jewelry artist alerted us to another treat. Her husband plays flute and sax in a Latin (octet) band called iMAMBO This. Better yet, the venue is about a mile from our campsite.  We showed up at 8:30 with varied expectations.  We left at 11:30, expectations surpassed, having danced almost every Mambo, Salsa, cha cha, and variations thereof, moving to the beat, not caring if our moves were “right” or not and learning from the friendly crowd that kept the Inn hopping into the Daylight Saving Time night.

Indeed it was a day of bookend delights, new friends, adventure and eagerly dancin’ to the beat at hand.

Photos, dancin’ to the iMAMBO This and the video at Caspar Inn

dancing at Caspar Inn Imambo This

Imambo This group at Caspar Inn video







Evacuation for Real

There are signs labeling Tsunami warning area on the road along PCH 1-the fantastic highway following the California coast. As we approached our campground at Caspar Beach, we took the signs in our stride, never imagining the onset of reality. At 4:00AM on March 11th we were awakened by a neighbor knocking on our door. His radio alert system screamed of the horror in Japan and the Tsunami threatening the whole western coast including our little spot in the Caspar Beach RV Campground. We sleepily accepted the impending danger hurrying to pack up the rig to drive to higher ground.

Three fire trucks, lights flashing and populated by many volunteers from the local fire department drove in to make sure the campground was safely evacuated. Wishing our neighboring campers well, and heartily thanking the sleepy-eyed volunteers, we all ascended up the road to a safe spot on hwy 1, passing the tsunami warning area sign with a totally new understanding of its message.

It could be 10-12 hours before the warnings would end. Where should we go to safely await the all clear? As usual, no situation is clear and straight forward. We have a roaring rig, a “hot rod” house on wheels. Our exhaust system has sprung a hole or leak and we spent our last 125 miles climbing up and down highway 1. A refuge closer to the campground would be our best bet. The lights of a USA gas station, a welcome Mecca beckoned on the right side of the road. Paul pulled in, we topped off the gas tank and received permission to perch in the parking lot. We did and it was a wise decision.

Usa american gas station evacuation tsunami

We were safe, “Right on level-important in an RV, and intermittently tuned in to news and emergency stations on Paul’s Droid. Our situation was of course, greatly diminished by the terror in Japan. A sense of humor wins all situations and we kept ours in tact. Being antsy and unable to sit still, I managed to keep busy on board, also taking time to finish my current book (Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson-written in 1884 about the very region we have been exploring) and watched our host gas station in amazement—a seemingly profitable gold mine. The traffic in and out was constant, consumers filling their needs for fuel of all kinds, gasoline, beer, candy bars, bags of chips; filling the needs and wants of the moment at large.

There was no traffic jam or rush of traffic on the road, most folks around live above sea level and were not in danger. Most folks were oblivious to the events that sent us scurrying out of our cozy hole on the coast to high ground and safety from the wave surges that we later learned lapped at the edges of the campground, rendering the road closed until about 4:30 PM.

I indulged in a walk along the road photographing the “accidental” scenery I never would have encountered had life been otherwise simple and according to plan. Of course, life is not so organized. We returned safely to our campsite, roaring our way back down the coastal road to set up and continue our lives. I share couple of these shots with you and offer my prayers and help for those victims of the latest tragedy on the Japanese coast.

Is this Harry Potter Country??

Swithenbank Harry Potter has been here PCH 1 mushroom buyer

Mushroom buyer!

Cabins for rent, Anyone interested?

cabins for rent

Thanks for reading my “accidental” blogs,

Ann Carol Goldberg