Who doesn’t want an ocean view? It’s not often you can get one in an RV, but at Malibu Beach RV Park, you can. And it is spectacular! We stayed there while Mike was working in Santa Monica for Project LiveWire. Lucky for us, it was the closest one to his work. Tough, I know!
Enjoying the view is pricey. It costs $100-$150 a night. You don’t necessarily get a lot for the money, either. Yes, the scenery is gorgeous. But the spots are very tight, and there aren’t any extra amenities like a pool or a workout room. There are nifty walking paths around the park, and a great fresh seafood restaurant is a few (steep) steps away. It’s tricky to get to the ocean, though. You’ve gotta walk down the hill, dash across the PCH when there’s a break in traffic, and then walk half a block to the beach stairs. We probably wouldn’t have stayed there if we weren’t being reimbursed for the fees. But we sure made the most of it. We made the tricky trek to the beach a couple of times, and three times a day, we took the dogs out for a stroll on the trails. With plenty of soft sand and banks of tropical flowers on each side, every walk was like a little piece of paradise.
The park staff was amiable, but we encountered a couple of residents who were nasty. Our first night, we arrived late – after getting approval from the park first, of course. The spot to our right was empty, but there was Class B parked next to it. We unhooked and parked as quickly as we could, but apparently it wasn’t fast enough. With the engine still running while we were setting up, the door of the Class B opened and a tall, thin, blond-haired man strode toward us. In a thick German accent, he told us that the noise was very disruptive and reminded us that it was almost 10 at night. Like we didn’t know! He was angry and rude. After a long day of driving, we were having none of it. I advised him that we were going as quickly as we could and that we’d gotten permission from the park to arrive this late. If he had a problem, I said, he needed to take it up with park management, not us. The next morning, he was gone, and the side of our coach was decorated with something dark brown: mud or something else? We don’t know for sure that he did it, but we had our suspicions.
The rest of our stay was uneventful, but when we were leaving, we had another unpleasant encounter. As I mentioned before, the park is very tight, and there’s no good place to unhook or hook up your toad. You certainly don’t want to be doing it on the side of the PCH. We did it right by the office, where you stop on your way in to check in. Because of the small size of the park, there are rigs parked right next to the entrance and exit. As we were hooking up the Jeep, as fast we could, a gentleman two coaches down complained to us that we were spewing exhaust. There’s was nothing we could do; it was again a park issue. We hurried to hook up – as we always do – and headed out, glad to put the park behind us.
As pretty as the views were, it wouldn’t be worth the hassle to stay again.
Truck stop food isn’t always the greatest, but every now and then, there’s something especially yummy. At the Iron Skillet at the Petro in Ontario, California, I found a gem: Pineapple M&M Cake. It was so pretty with colorful mini M&Ms on top and plenty of sweet pineapple filling between layers of yellow cake. John, the semi truck driver, got a piece and kindly allowed me to have a single, luscious bite.
Heavenly! I instantly had a very strong urge to dash to the buffet and haul the entire cake over to our table. Good manners kept me from doing it, but it was a close call! Here’s a recipe to try at home.
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk (to increase the pineapple flavor, sub 1/4 cup pineapple juice for part of the milk)
- 1/2 cup pineapple filling
- 1 can whipped white frosting (or your favorite homemade frosting)
- 1 bag mini M&Ms
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease and flour two round nine-inch cake pans.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, and continue beating. Mix in the vanilla and salt.
- When well incorporated, add the baking powder, and then the flour and milk a little at a time, alternating the two.
- On medium speed, beat the batter for about 2 minutes, until thick and creamy.
- Split the batter evenly between the two cake cake pans.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Set aside cakes to cool.
- Spread about 1/2 a cup of frosting on the bottom layer of the cake, to about a 1/2 inch from the edge. Then top with the same amount of pineapple filling.
- Carefully place the top layer on, and frost the top and sides of the cake.
- Sprinkle the top with mini M&Ms.
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We’re nearing the end of this stretch of the Project LiveWire tour as the execs finish riding down Route 66. We remain on the highway that roughly parallels the historic route. Because the LiveWire semi, with the charging stations and motorcycle parts, is 73 feet long, it can’t park just anywhere. So we spend a lot of time in truck stops, swapping bikes out and overnighting. Mostly we’ve been able to empty our tanks at the truck stops, but the Flying J dump station in Kingman was closed when we were there. We were full, so we had to find another place quick. That place turned out to be the Calizona RV Park, which was kind of en route to Barstow, where we’d be stopping for the night. They didn’t have a dump station, but the manager graciously led us to a full hook-up spot and charged us $10 to dump and replenish our fresh water.
It’s kind of a bummer that we’ve been confined to truck stops because we’re missing out on a lot of cool touristy stuff. But sometimes the truck stops are pretty cool themselves. Like the one off of I-40 near Goffs, California. Goffs was a famous Route 66 stop until 1931 when a more direct route between Needles and Essex made it obsolete. Now the one-time railroad town is practically deserted, but it remains a popular destination.
The truck stop catches your eye right as you drive in. Look to the right, and you’ll see a narrow man-made lake with fountains jetting streams of water high into the air. In a mix of classic and kitschy motifs, a couple of the fountains are bronze naked ladies in seashells, and one is a trio of flamingos. Concrete tables and benches look out over the water, and the tabletops are painted with colorful murals. One I saw was covered with pastel flavors; another was decorated like a pepperoni and mushroom pizza with a slice missing.
I loved the giant yellow letters spelling out GAS in the parking lot. No way you’re gonna miss that as you’re driving by! The convenience store at the stop includes a restaurant. Order from the cashier. If you don’t want to eat outside, your food will be delivered to one of the wrought iron tables next to a display of t-shirts and Jehovah’s Witnesses literature. Mike and I split a cheeseburger. They cut it in half for us, and it was well done, just like we asked. Fries are extra, but the burger couldn’t have tasted better.