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Cecilia’s Maiden Voyage

We took Cecilia the Van out last weekend for her very first overnight trip. In fact, it was the most we’ve driven her since we bought her in September.

We decided to go just for one night of camping somewhere not too far away, just in case anything went wrong. Point Mugu State Park seemed like just the place, so we had a campsite reserved for Saturday night. Two friends joined us last minute, as well.

Saturday morning we packed up, made sure that the stove in Cecilia was working, filled her up, and set off. When you’re used to driving small cars like Anna and I both are, driving Cecilia is tough and a little scary at first. She is a BIG LADY. She also doesn’t like to go much faster than 50 mph, which is fine, really. I wouldn’t want to drive her any faster than that!

The drive up the coast was uneventful, and we arrived right at the same time as our friends, with plenty of time to set up and then go enjoy the sunset at the beach.

We stayed in the Sycamore Canyon campground, right across the highway from the beach. After watching the sunset, we headed back to our site to make some pasta and enjoy a campfire. It was our first time using Cecilia’s stove, and it worked perfectly. She’s outfitted with an RV-style propane tank underneath her, which is hooked up to the stove. This is nice because we don’t have to buy cylinders and switch them out, we just have to refill her the same way we would with an RV.

We enjoyed our pasta, the fire, and some wine until we were all tired enough to sleep. Our friends camped out in our three-man tent, and Anna and I settled in for our first night in Cecilia.

The foam “mattress” that we bought her with was…less than ideal. I ended up sleeping on the seam most of the night, and so frequently waking up to readjust. Anna had a sleepwalking incident, which was exciting. In the morning we concluded we were going to have to change the mattress situation, but overall the night had been good. Cecilia’s ceiling vent and plenty of windows meant we had a nicely-ventilated night.

After a breakfast of scrambled eggs and veggies and a jaunt down to the beach, we decided to pack up and head out, calling our maiden voyage a success.

That was when we had a bit of trouble.

Cecilia just didn’t want to start.

She cranked and cranked and cranked but wouldn’t start. We perused the manual, even took the advice of a passing good Samaritan that it seemed like she was flooded and we should floor the gas and ease up as she cranks. Still, nothing. Anna called AAA and scheduled a tow. We were upset and worried about what this meant for our future with Cecilia.

I called my dad just to see what he had to say, because dads know everything and also he had had a similar problem with her once when he needed to move her for parking. He said he had tried about 10 times, and finally she had started

After talking to him, I decided to give it one more go and try to start her. She started!

Anna hurriedly canceled the tow and we finally pulled out of the campground and headed home. Overall, the maiden voyage was mostly a success.

We’ll be taking Cecilia in to the shop before any more voyages just to make sure everything is in good shape under her aged and sizable hood.


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