The Magic School Bus, Lake Cachuma, CA

Sometimes you just have an inkling to make an unplanned turn; Lake Cachuma was that turn.  It was too early in the day to seek camp for the night but, as I drove through the windy hills of California, I came upon a sign, it said “Lake Cachuma” with a camping symbol. There was a magnetizing force that pulled me.

I paid the $20-something dollars for a camp site and was told to choose where to pitch my tent as, there were a plethora of empty spots.  I drove around the site twice wanting to pick the perfect spot and settled on a dirt clearing under the trees for shade and a picnic table close by.  I wanted to be close enough to walk to the lake and the birds-eye views. Also, its key to place yourself close to the restrooms/showers incase you have to go in the middle of the night.  My spot provided me with all these things.

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Some of the “little things” that make me happy on the road are having my tent set up early enough to have the rest of the evening off to hike trails, talk to fellow campers and watch the sun go down.  I made myself an instant dinner and wrote in my journal as I do every night before my slumber.  I felt quite pleased with my discovery of Lake Cachuma.

As I watched the sun set through the vented window of my little nylon dome, I soon fell asleep.  However, I was startled awake some time in the middle of the night by something (a bird?  a bat?) that had landed on top of my tent.  I kicked at the walls to shoo away the critter and waited a moment before I unzipped my moon-roof and noted a glittery sky of stars through the mesh curtain above.  It was so magnificent I was excited to exit the tent and gaze out at the sky above, making wishes on every star.  I saw a shooting star and knew that the “critter” was meant to wake me up to enjoy the light-show presentation that evening.photo 1

In the morning I woke and walked with a blanket to the edge of a cliff that extended over the lake below.  The sky was gray and the fog was blanketing the campsite.  A small fishing boat was puttering out to the far edge of the cliffs where there was a patch of sun sparkling over a small area like glitter, being sprinkled from the clouds.  I assumed the fish were jumping and the Sun’s reflection of them created the glitter-effect.

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A lovely bench at the edge of the world presented itself to me, adorning  an endearing inscription and I chose to meditate in this spot.  The fog created a nice backdrop of non-distraction as I gazed eyes-open into the abyss.  Within five minutes of concentration, I became aware of small fireflies zigzagging into my peripheral vision, then more and more. I realized within a minute or so that they were not real…they were just a vision, probably the most pleasant meditative one I’ve ever had but, it could have just been the sun, the water, reflections, who knows. I still don’t know what it meant nor do I want to try to understand it.photo 2

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I left the bench after writing in my journal and took a walk in the cool and clammy morning fog. Around the cliff,  I caught view of a 1970s school bus and knew right away that it was a camper/RV of sorts and vowed to investigate.

Tinkering around the bus was a scruffy man who looked like he could play the role of a handsome fisherman or some type of National Geographic tour guide.  As I approached, his two dogs barked at me while keeping their distance, “Flea!” he yelled at the one coming closest to me.  I was un-phased by the mutts and came closer in dire need to inspect the mobile home.  He spoke with an english accent and I introduced himself as “Steve”. I immediately began my inquisition of the bus…

After a few moments another person began to stir about inside behind the tapestry curtains to the 11 windows lining the long monster-mobile.  It was his girlfriend, Kelly, another Brit with a pretty “Plane Jane” appeal.  They invited me to stay for coffee and we chatted at the nearby picnic table about how they came to travel in the “magic bus” and about all their past adventures.  They informed me that they purchased it back in 1999 when Y2K was approaching. They and several friends were to take it to Mexico for the “end of the world” finale or black out, whichever came first.  Every New Years holiday, as tradition, they take the Magic Bus through Arizona’s Organ Pipe National Park and head for their winter home in an old dilapidated town with colonial mansions. They invited me to come this past holiday and, for whatever reason, I did not follow-up.  Perhaps I was still coming down from the long trip I had of living out of my car for 5 months but, who knows.

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Later that evening I saw them again and they invited me into the Magic Bus for a Compari cocktail and evening chat.  That was the last I saw of them after I went back into the dark to my lone campsite but, I envied their relationship and the adventures they shared in the bus.  Here’s to hoping for my own magic bus one day.

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2 thoughts on “The Magic School Bus, Lake Cachuma, CA

  1. i needed a mental break today and this was the perfect read. thank you for such lovely expressive words and a clear description of the water, the sky, and the people you met. i would be your magic bus buddy if i could. terrific butters.

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