Once again we managed to find ourselves in San Rafael, that town in Marin which the guidebook calls "boring" and which is only prestigious in any way (especially for our Cali-girl friend, whose parents live there) because it's right next to San Francisco. It's a very average and unassuming town, in a posh Marin southern-California-looking-with-Spanish-Mission-style-buildings way.
So, why were we in San Rafael? To buy THIS:
This is The Fat Kiwi: our new campervan for our road trip. A 1979 Dodge Maxivan (yes, not a minivan), which is a four-person campervan. It's hilarious. (Note the falling-off Dodge sign on the front.)
When Brendan initially saw it coming down the road, he burst out laughing. When I saw it coming down the road a few days later, I burst out laughing too. It's rather comic. Brendan, in the manner common to all boys, promptly suggested painting it brown and naming it The Fat Kiwi.
The guy who sold it to us was a hippie web developer who had been working on it as his project, until he bought a boat. He took it up to Burning Man, a huge music and arts festival in the desert in Nevada, where "she was a champ". It had been towed three times in the last month, and was starting to become expensive. (Marin, it seems, has even more draconian parking laws than San Francisco, if that were possible!) He was pleased it was taking on a new life of its own, and showed us how to work half of the little 'quirks' it had.
So, The Fat Kiwi has a sink, working gas stove and (untested) oven, a shower, a toilet, a handbasin, electrical outlets, a couch which converts to a bed and a second fold-out sleeping area over the front. It's very, very dirty. The interior is brown fake wood veneer, hideous yellow carpeting and pale lino or something similar, on the walls. We just need to get the plumbing and electrical systems working!
It is also rather wide, drives like a truck and has a hole in the fuel tank which means you can only put in about quarter of a tank at any one point, or it starts dripping. It's going to be an interesting, but probably slightly expensive, 'project'. It needs a lot of work. A lot of paint. And probably a lot of mechanic (expensive!) time too. Driving it home was an 'interesting' experience.
As we were driving along, Brendan exclaimed, "Hey, there's a Jesus!" I was like, where? as I thought it was a large statue on the hill above us or something. No, here it is....
...Right above the useless rear-view mirror - unless the mirror was intended for parents to keep an eye on wayward kids. It only has two real seats.
The positive/ ironic thing is that we bought this on the same day we learned that our other car has packed up, and no longer has a 4th gear. It's not worth fixing. Although we did discover it's driveable on the freeway if you turn off overdrive. Just not good for fuel economy.