It’s very hard to take a picture of a mud puddle. At least one that demonstrates its depth and size without just looking like a dirty spot in the ground.

There is no way for Zelda to avoid this mud puddle when leaving the van. She doesn’t mind — she’s perfectly happy to wade in the water. But muddy dog + small van = sad dog mom.

Also, I am so tired that it took me three tries to spell the word “puddle.” I nearly went into that space where it stopped feeling like a real word. Puddle? Pubble? Pebble? What’s that thing called again?

Yeah, I’m guessing this is not going to be the most coherent blog post ever. But I’m currently at Half Moon Bay State Beach, which is a lovely — also, currently, extremely muddy — campground just south of San Francisco.

Not an impressionist painting, just a misty morning. It was rainbow weather, although I didn’t actually see any rainbows.

By about 2PM on Tuesday, Serenity’s tires were back in place and I was back on the road. I managed to get to Tehachapi in time to meet Carol (hi, Carol!) for dinner at Blue Ginger Pho, just one day late. Pho was just what I needed, because I was thoroughly cold-ish by then, tissues constantly in hand. I spent the night parked on Carol’s street and headed out early the next morning.

Wednesday was a grueling day. I had campground reservations that I’d paid for, so for the first time my schedule wasn’t flexible: I needed to reach Half Moon Bay by 5PM. I also needed to refill the propane. I’d filled it just a few days earlier, in Albuquerque, but it takes a fair amount of propane to keep a metal box warm when it’s 2 degrees outside and I didn’t want to chance needing it. And I needed to get the tires rechecked, to make sure the lug nuts weren’t working their way loose again. I also wanted to go to the grocery store. I managed all of it, except for the grocery store.

But when I woke up this morning, I proved completely unable to talk myself into doing anything else. Instead of going to the grocery store, I ate oatmeal for breakfast, lunch, and maybe for dinner, too. (I’ve got other options, but I’ve also got more oatmeal, and I haven’t had dinner yet.) Half Moon Bay is a charming town, lots of cute shops, just five minutes away. I did not explore it. My favorite sushi restaurant in the entire world is an hour down the coast, a beautiful drive. I did not go there. Instead, I hung out in the van, admired the sea gulls, and tried to keep Zelda out of the mud puddles on our brief walks.

Tomorrow, I’m going to briefly go into San Francisco. When I started planning this journey, I wanted to take a couple days and play in the city. But the closer I got, the more I stumbled over the reality of traveling with a large van and a small dog. Like every city, San Francisco has terrible parking. Once, when I was pregnant, I drove around my apartment for an hour trying to park and then gave up and drove to my brother’s house and spent the night there, because he had a driveway. So the sensible thing to do would be to leave the van outside the city and travel into the city on public transit. Except what would I do with Zelda? I’m not going to leave her alone in the van for that long. So I’m going to give San Francisco a try, but I’m not going to stress myself out dealing with city hassles.

A view from the van window. That’s ocean back there, but Z isn’t allowed on the beach.

Then one more weekend on the road, but by Monday — I hope! — I will be settling down in Arcata, ready to get back to writing the sequel to A Lonely Magic again. I tried today, even managed to pull off a few words, but I currently can’t spell puddle, so it’s not exactly gone well. But a previously written snippet made me laugh…

Fen sighed. “I wish I could turn into a bird.” 

An owl would be perfect. Silent flight, good night vision. She could glide away on spooky owl wings. No one would hear her or see her. She’d just be gone. 

“Why would you wish to do that?” Elfie asked, sounding puzzled. “Transformation is always fatal. The magic cannot sustain cellular life through the process of re-shaping and re-forming. If you became a bird, you would be a dead bird. This seems ill-advised.” 

Fen’s lips twitched. Elfie, so literal. 

A Precarious Balance