There has to be a little rain sometimes

Yesterday wasn’t a good day: nothing too awful but enough to dull our spirits a bit. It started ok with a fantastic hot shower in the lovely campsite facilities. This inspired us to start a scoring system for various necessities on our journey – more on that later.

We set off on our way in much cooler weather with our first objective in mind – to find a good supermarket and fill up with food and diesel. We weren’t long on our way before we came to a city called Logrono, which is the capital of the Rioja region. We didn’t attempt to go right into the city, despite the fact that the pictures on Google look spectacular, the thought of driving our 7.4 metre motorhome into a big city the day after a long holiday weekend felt too big a challenge. Straight away we found an enormous shopping centre and found a spot in a part of the car park that was almost empty. We strolled round with our trolley trying to understand the Spanish for various ingredients and then gave up and did the sensible thing – just bought fruit, vegetables, fish and meat. The difficult bit was finding some dog food. We’d brought enough for a month and planned to find an appropriate replacement en route. The challenge is to get stuff that isn’t full of rubbish. It took a while to work it out but we got there in the end. Boo and Poppy of course are blissfully unaware of the lengths we go to, to keep them well.

Back at the van we noticed that the car park was filling rapidly. However it was a good flat place to park so we had breakfast. We do that quite often – wait until our first stop to eat our muesli and fruit. It’s a vain attempt to eat less often and keep the creeping inches at bay.So there we were, munching away and drinking coffee, when a large Spanish car attempted to park close enough to join us for breakfast. Shirley was just about to say “What the f…” when he hit the side of the van. I feared for the debacle if Shirley went out to talk to him so I ran out and got to him before he could leave the scene. As it turned out he had only hit the plastic cover over the wheel and done no more damage than leave rubber marks on it but I glared at him with my best teacher’s glower until he quivered and apologized – in English too.

We left the scene very soon after that in case some other numpty tried to get in beside us and effectively block our exit.

On we drove down miles of near deserted motorway in the direction of Nuevalos. We once drove from Minneapolis to Bismarck and this trip was very reminiscent of that. Miles of plains, very few towns and a lot of sky. Unfortunately the sky darkened and the heavens opened later on in the afternoon and as we left the motorway for the last 15 miles of the journey we realised that the only good roads are the big ones. It took us forever to get to the campsite, up steep and rough roads, tiny bends and not another person to be seen. Nuevalos, according to Mr Google has 384 inhabitants. Remote huh?

We were told to choose our pitch, which was easy as there were only two other vans there, and Shirley took the dogs for their evening walk. In the rain and the half light she was treated to the rather spooky scene of hundreds of cranes at a nearby lakeside. They were honking and circling, obviously getting ready to fly south. She came back a bit unsettled by the noise and the remoteness of the place.

I was ensconced in the motorhome nursing a bad cold that had descended during the day. All in all we were starting to wonder if we were a bit crazy driving all these miles in the hopes of what? You know, we couldn’t even think why we were doing it.

My dear old Mum used to say, “Everything will look different in the morning.” Right enough she used to say that just before, “If I have to come up those stairs I’ll give you something to cry about” but I’m not six any more so I choose to focus on the first pearl of wisdom.

Everything did look different this morning. I got up and took the dogs down to the lakeside and the sunshine made everything beautiful.

The honking of the cranes sounded hopeful, the hills that had looked so bleak last night were bathed in morning light and the air was clean and crisp
The honking of the cranes sounded hopeful, the hills that had looked so bleak last night were bathed in morning light and the air was clean and crisp

Once back to the van, Shirley set off with her camera to capture some of the amazing beauty that had been surrounding us all along.

Hills

Group of flamingoes

Now about this scoring of facilities and services. We have decided on a scoring scale to be known as the DBs. We’re inviting guesses as to the meaning of DB but just to help you along, it refers to a part of the canine anatomy.

So we will score things in DBs based on a numerical scale where 1 is very poor and 10 is excellent. To start things off we can say that the showers in the previous campsite at Navarette were a definite 9. Pretty close to perfect.

The showers at the site at Nuevalos on the other hand only gained a DB score of 3. There was plenty of hot water but they were dirty and the mop supplied to clean them after use was even dirtier. Not good.

This unfortunate situation led to a little blessing – did I not already say that if you look hard enough you can find a blessing almost anywhere?

There was a child sized bath in the shower area that no mother would ever consider using. It was truly filthy. So, as an act of minor rebellion, we took the dogs into the showers and bathed them in the children’s bath. I’d like to say that we left it cleaner than we found it – and that’s probably true – but we can’t swear to that as the moment we’d finishing rinsing the dogs they both took off out of the shower block like rats out of a trap. Soaking wet and leaving a trail of flying water behind them, they escaped the horrors of the bath tub. Shirley ran after them, shouting and waving a towel while I followed in kinks of laughter. Good thing there was no-one else around.

Finally, after a small incident with a rabbit who let itself be seen by a wild and very wet Poppy, they got back in the motorhome to be dried and brushed and we went on our way much cheered.

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