Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Brookings, Or. - Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Today we drove south on Highway 101 to Brookings, Or.  Sunday when we moved the motorhome up the coast to Gold Beach we traveled this road.  This time as we went south about 26 miles, we stopped at the numerous pull-outs or took some roads down to the beaches, things not so easily done with a motorhome.  The scenery along this coast is every bit as pretty as we have been told or we have seen in pictures.

Getting to Brookings we stopped at a Fred Myer Store (haven't seen a Fred's since our travels to Alaska) and picked up a few items.  And then it was onto having lunch at a local Mexican restaurant.  The next stop was at the Azalea Garden.  The azaleas were just about finished blooming but the rhodendrums were just beautiful with so many colors.  The Gardens are not huge but they are nicely laid out with paved walkways.  We drove around the town and by the harbor before returning to Gold Beach.

It was chilly today and very windy.  When we stopped at a beach today the sand was blowing so much we could feel the sting on our faces.  We had wanted to walk out to the beach from the campground but the wind has presisted all evening.  We are hoping for better weather tomorrow as we take our boat trip up the Rogue River

Monday, April 29, 2013

Port Orford, Monday, April 29, 2013

After getting here in Gold Beach yesterday we have been trying to figure out where we are going from here.  We would have liked to have been able to go to Crater Lake but are finding that is a distance from anyplace else and at this time roads are still closed (and will not reopen until mid June or later) due to snow.  Here in Gold Beach starting May 1 boat rides up the Rogue River will begin and we have been told that these trips are real nice.  Since we had planned to leave here on May 1 the first item of business this morning was to see about the boat rides.  At the beginning of the season there is only one trip offered which is the all day 104-mile trip and we were able to make reservations for that trip.  The cost is reduced from $90.00 to $75.00 per person since this is the only trip offered at this time.   So now we will be staying a day longer than previously planned.
From 2013-04-29

Since we just happen to be in the area of other businesses we stopped by some stores, one that had sales during the month of April in which each day the discount was the date.  So today that discount was 29% on everything including items already on sale and we took a little advantage of that sale.  The town of Gold Beach is having a contest- glass balls are hidden and if found you get a chance to win stay at one of the local resorts.  Chances are also given for each $25.00 purchase along with a glass ball.  We secured several chances and 2 glass balls.  Contest ends tomorrow.

Finally, we were off to see new territory going north on Highway 101.  Highway 101 is about the only road in this area traveling north along the coast.  We were hoping to find someplace for lunch.  We stopped at a German restaurant that had an open sign lit up but we were told that they only serve dinner.  Continuing on we came to Port Orford, about 26 miles north of Gold Beach.  We ate at Port and Starboard restaurant both having clam chowder and a scallop linguine,both were freshly made and very good.  Driving about the town we saw a street with "Ocean View" painted on it so of course we had to check that out.  And there was a nice view that we took in of the ocean and a boat dock.

Hello, Oregon- Good-Bye, California, Sunday, April 28, 2013

A 137 mile move up the coast from Eureka, Ca. to Gold Beach, Oregon.  Yes, we are in now in Oregon after more than a month of moving about California seeing interesting places and some friends that we had not seen for sometime.  We are still along the Pacific coast on Highway 101, Redwood Highway.  We did stop at the Welcome Center for Oregon which only had an outside kiosk with just a few pamphlets.  Making the most of the stop, we ate lunch while parked there and decided where we would find a campsite.  Turtle Rock Resort in Gold Beach was a Passport America park so we proceeded to that destination.  The campground is nice but not what we would call a resort but the price was great at $56.69 for 3 nights with full 50 amp hook-ups- we have paid more than that for 1 night several times on this trip.  We drove around the town after settling into our site and stopped at the Visitor's Center which was staffed and had good information and brochures.  The remainder of the day we chilled out and took a walk to the beach.  It is windy and chilly today (50's).
From 2013-04-28

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Redwood National and State Parks, Saturday, April 27, 2013

It was another day of seeing big trees and exploring new territory.  Redwood National and State Parks are located along the coast from Trinidad, Ca.(about 15 miles north of Eureka) to Crescent City, Ca., about 70 miles.  We stopped at the first Visitor's Center, Kuchel, we came to and got some information about the parks and recommendations of what we should be sure to see and do.  The Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway as an alternative to US-101 is where we started.  At the southern entrance of this Parkway is another Visitor's Center that was pointed out as a place to see as the building had been the headquarter building of a camp of the Civilian Conservation Corps years ago.  Then we got underway on the Parkway stopping to walk to The Big Tree.  Some trees in this area were heavily covered with moss giving an eerie look.  These Redwoods can grow new trees from their  roots and we saw some that even after toppling over had new trees growing from the roots.  The floor of these forests had lots of vegetation, such as ferns, growing.  The climate along this area is cool (today the temperatures did not get out of the 50's) and damp- heavy fogs are present most mornings.  The banana slug, a yellow slimy critter, thrives here by eating everything in site except the Redwood seeds and trees.

We had lunch at a diner in Klamah and then traveled on north to the Howland Hill Road, just west of Crescent City. This drive was mostly on unpaved roads twisting around and close between the huge trees.  At the Stout Grove we walked the loop trail through the grove.

Returning to the Crescent City vicinity we located the Battery Point Lighthouse but the tide was not low enough that we could walk across the pathway without getting wet feet with cold water.  We did walk out on a jetty owned by the Corps of Engineers.  The water on the bayside was so clear we were able to see the huge rocks and some star fish attached to a concrete tetrapod (giant jacks used to protect harbors from damaging currents).  There were 2 tall ships, Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain in the ocean firing off cannons.  These ships were in Crescent City for a Tall Ship Festival on April 20 and 21 and were staying in the area from April 19-29, 2013.

As we were returning back toward Eureka on Highway 101 (called the Redwood Highway, not the Pacific Coast Highway, in this area) we passed Elk Meadow.  Sure enough there was a herd of elk grazing in this meadow.  And then a little further down the road at Dry Lagoon there was another herd of elk.  After taking pictures of the elk we continue on the road to Dry Lagoon Beach to take more pictures.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Eureka!!- Friday, April 26, 2013

At 9am we were on the road heading west toward the Pacific coast once again.  There was only one route to take across this mountainous region State Route 299, a squiggly line on the map.  Although signs advised semis to avoid this route we passed numerous large vehicles .  The country we traveled through was just beautiful- I enjoyed looking, Tom had to mind the road.  Whiskeytown Lake came into view a couple miles west of Redding.  Whiskeytown is a piece of the Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area that surrounds the town of Redding.  There were switchbacks, pull-outs to allow traffic to pass, road construction, narrowing roads and long ascents and descents.  After crossing several mountains the road then followed the Trinity River with its curves.  As we were nearing the end of todays journey, we saw clouds moving in from the west.  All day we had been in warm and sunny climate.  When we stopped at Shoreline campground in Eureka, 151 miles from Redding and 4 hours later at 1pm,  the temperature was in the 50's and cloudy.

After eating lunch we drove south on Freeway 101 (Pacific Coastal Road) to Humboldt Redwoods State Park and the 32-mile Avenue of the Giants.  The Avenue of the Giants has 8 Auto Tour Stops along the route of the forested Redwood trees.  The Redwoods are the tallest trees (can grow to 360 feet) and like the Giant Sequoias can live for 2000 years.    Surprising in this area (about 35 miles south of Eureka) the sun was shining and temperatures were in the 70's.  Signs along the way were about floods in the area as well as about the Redwoods. Dyerville, a town along the Eel River, was destroyed by a flood in 1955.  At the Visitor's Center a 35 minute film is about a flood that occurred in 1964 that devastated the area by crumbling bridges, destroying homes and communities, washing out roads and rail lines.  Returning back to the campground we were back in cloudy weather and chilly temperatures.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Lassen Volcanic National Park, Thursday, April 25, 2013

We were off running again this morning to Lassen Volcanic National Park.  There is a northern entrance to the park east of Redding and a southern entrance east of Red Bluff, 30 miles south of Redding.  Since the main Visitor's Center is at the southern entrance we opted to go that route to enter  and leave the park from the north gateway.  So to Red Bluff and then east to the park another 40 plus miles.  Just before the entranceway there was a sign stating that we would only be allowed to go as far as the Visitor's Center due to road closure.  And once we were to the Kohm Yah-mah-nee (Snow Mountain) Visitor's Center we could understand why the roads would be closed.  Snow, deep snow was on the mountainsides and along the roadways but it was beautiful.  So we went into the Center and watched the film about the volcanic peaks- the last eruption was in 1917.  We were then told by the Center's employees that we could walk about a mile further into the park to see the mud pots. Before walking we decided to eat the packed lunch we had along which was good planning since there was no food available in the park.  Walking in the roadway we walked uphill to the mud pot area.  The day was a pleasant 64 degrees with bright sunshine and just a few wispy clouds making for a nice walk.  The snow was melting and water was on the move along the road, down the mountainside and then down through a canyon.  Sounds of water running and birds chirping serenaded us entire walk. It was somewhat weird that we were comfortable in our shirt sleeves surrounded with tons of snow.  We were told at the Center that the Visitor's Center at the north entrance is closed and they felt that coming to this southern area was the better choice.

After returning to the campground we decided to go out for dinner this evening.  "Marie Callender's" was our choosing and we were not disappointed and the pie was good!  We rode around the town of Redding, a town of close to 90,000 people and the center of an active year-round recreation area.  We drove to a parking lot for the Sundial Bridge on the opposite side of the river from where we had parked yesterday.  To get to the Bridge we had to walk a paved pathway along the Sacramento River.  The Bridge has lights on the deck at night which were on this evening.  Nice walk and nice ending to the day before returning to the campground.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Redding, Ca.- Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The winds were to be a little quieter today so we were on the road again.  As we were traveling north on I-5 the winds were hitting it us from the east.  Tom was thinkful that we did not move yesterday if the winds today were about half the force of yesterday winds.  We saw groves of olive trees and then signs about an olive- tasting, store and cafe in Corning.  Since it was close to noon and the signs also advertised "RV Parking" we decided to stop and taste some olives and eat lunch.  I ate a hamburger and Tom had a muffletta sandwich and then we sampled olives.  Located in the northernmost Sacramento Valley, Corning has been growing olives since the 1890's.   Called "America's Olive City" this city still claims to package more than half of the nation's olives.
From 2013-04-24 Olive Trees

Journeying on north, we pulled into Redding RV Park in Redding, California about 1:30pm and 169 miles from Sacramento.  As we were traveling today we saw Mt. Shasta, a beautiful snow covered mountain off in the distance
From 2013-04-24 Traveling North
.  After settling the motorhome in the campground we took off to see a couple places in the area.  Mt. Shasta dam is probably less than 10 miles from the campground.  Driving to the dam the views are spectacular with the blue water of the lake behind the dam and in the distance Mt. Shasta.  The Visitor's Center was open but it was after 3pm, the time of the last tour.  We were able to see a movie that followed a tour group through the dam which we found to be quite interesting when folks that had been involved in the building of the dam (1945-50) were featured.

Next stop was in Redding at the Sundial Bridge crossing the Sacramento River.  The 700foot bridge is only for bikers and pedestrians, no motorized vehicles.  The bridge is made of steel, glass and granite and is an impressive structure.

Back to the campground we had supper and then Tom feeling energetic decided to wash the motorhome- not that it needed it!!  There are not too many campgrounds that allow RV washing so when this one did Tom took advantage.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Winds Change Our Plans, Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The winds blew all night and the predictions were that up to 40mph winds would continue through the day.  Our plans changed - we were not going to move the motorhome in gusty winds.  So Tom called the campground in Redding that we had planned to travel to today to reschedule until tomorrow and then he extended our stay here in Sacramento another night.  So then we went shopping- first to Home Depot for water filters and then to Sam's Club for food.  The rest of the day we spent in the campground.  Sauerkraut and pork was put in a crockpot for dinner.  We walked on the Bike/Walking Trail closeby this afternoon.  Caught up on some computer/phone correspondence and read.  The winds have calmed down somewhat this evening and are to be less tomorrow so we should be able to move on.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Exploring Sacramento, Ca., Monday, April 22. 2013

Our mission today was to explore Sacramento.  Our first stop was at the State Capitol where we took a guided tour.  Our tour guide was very informative and interesting.  We were given some history about the state and the building and then were taken to a legislative chamber.  Unfortunately, we were parked in a one hour parking spot (that is all that we found in this area) and had to leave before the completion of the tour.

The next stop was at Sutter's Fort Historic Park.  Swiss immigrant John Sutter. after getting a 48,000-acre land grant from the Mexican government, established the first Europewan outpost in interior California in 1840.  This outpost served as a refuge and offered supplies for travelers.  When the 1849 gold rush occurred the fort became overrun by the miners and Sutter was cheated out of his property.  We took the self-guided tour going from site to site and hearing a recording about the site.  There were a couple gentlemen in period costumes talking about aspects of the fort.   NOTE:  Our AAA TourBook indicated that this fort was opened Tuesday- Sunday but the sign out front stated "open daily" which today being Monday it was definitely open.

Moving on we went to the area called Old Sacramento.  This 4 block region was the commercial district during the gold rush days.  Today it is a tourist stop with souvenir stores and restaurants.  We did eat lunch at a Mexican restaurant, La Terraza Mexican Restaurant, that had outside seating on a second floor balcony overlooking the streets below.  And then we had to check out some of the stores and an ice cream store for dessert.

The last stop today was at the Blue Diamond Almond Store.  Blue Diamond Almonds is the world's largest precessor of almonds with the almonds being grown in this region.  We shopped and sampledthe almond products and then watched a movie about the growing and processing of almonds.
From 2013-04-22 Blue Diamond

Yesterday and today have been the warmest since we left Anaheim with temperatures in the mid 80's.  Tomorrow we will move to the north and higher altitude which could mean cooler temperatures again.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sacramento, Ca., Sunday, April 21, 2013

This morning we pulled up stakes at Park Sierra and moved 189 miles to the north to Sacramento.  We are camped at CalExpo RV Park which is on the grounds of the Exposition Center that the California State Fair is held.  Full hook-ups and fairly spacious sites on gravel for $35.00/night seems to be reasonable.  Tom did call this morning to assure that we would have a site- we don't like manipulating through a city to find there is no room for us.  First thing on the list was getting clothes washed.  I could have washed clothes in the laundry room at Park Sierra but we were busy everyday and I really didn't feel like going to the laundry room after being on the go all day.  So we have just been taking a restful day catching up on laundry and some rest.  This evening we did take a walk on a bike/walking trail just outside the campground.  It was a nice area along the Sacramento River although there was a warning about mountain lions being in this area.  We saw quite a few bikers but no mountain lions!!

Sequoia National Park, Saturday, April 20, 2013

Wow!  What a full day.  We drove south to Sequoia National Park.  Thursday we had gone to King's Canyon National Park which is north of Sequoia.  Going into the northern gate of Sequoia is also the entrance gate for King's Canyon- go left from the gate to King's Canyon and right to Sequoia.  So today we went left into Sequoia.  The road through the park is called the Generals Highway which we assume is for the Sequoia trees- General Grant in King's Canyon and General Sherman in Sequoia.  The sequoia trees were present in the forested area as we drove along the park highway.  We stopped at a picnic area to have lunch along the Kaweah Creek.  Stellar jays were flitting from tree to tree- they are really beautiful birds.  After lunch we continued a short distance to the Lodgepole Visitor's Center and Village.  In the Visitor's Center, there were small areas that short films could be viewed- one on controlled forest burning, one on preserving the sequoias and a longer film on bears that we did not watch.  We walked to the Market in this village area where Earth Day was being celebrated.  Carrot cake and bottle water were being given out along with packs of snack foods.

Leaving the village, we continued on down the road to the General Sherman tree, in the Giant Forest.  There was a half mile walk to the tree downhill from the parking lot which meant a half mile walk up hill to return to the parking lot.  The Sherman tree is the world's largest tree (General Grant tree is has the biggest circumference).  What makes the Sherman the largest is that the trunk is conical shaped giving it the greatest volume of total wood.  There were many large sequoias in this area.  Sequoias growing close together can grow together and there were trees in this area that had grown together.  Sequoias grow naturally on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada at 5000 to 7000 feet elevation and can live 3000 years plus.

Continuing our travels south through the remainder of the park put Tom to the test at driving through steep, narrow and extremely winding roads.  As we left the park behind we came to Lake Kaweah where there was boating activity today.  Continuing on we past through miles of orange groves and then we saw big grape vineyards.  Selma, Ca. is the raisin capital of the world according to a billboard and other billboards about Sun Maid raisins were displayed.

When we got to Fresno we looked for someplace to get dinner.  We found a pizza restaurant, "Ed n' Me", and had the best vegetable pizza with spinach,broccoli, tomato,artichoke hearts, onions and red sweetpeppers.  This was a great find.  Tomorrow we are moving from this area and going toward Sacramento.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Yosemite Park, Day 2, Friday, April 19, 2013

Today we returned to Yosemite National Park as there was more to see than the Sequoia trees that we saw on Wednesday.  Actually we traveled further into the park to Yosemite Valley, land of granite mountains and water falls.   At Bridalveil Fall we walked to a viewing area of the fall to find ourselves in a mist as heavy as a rainfall.  Being springtime with temperatures rising, the snow on the mountaintops is melting and the water is flowing.  Other falls, Horsehair and Yosemite were also pouring hundreds of gallons of water from the mountaintops each minute.  El Capitan, the best known and most massive granite cliff in this park, had rock climbers exercising their skills on the sheer walls.  We did stop at the Visitor's Center and after looking around at the displays in the center we watched a movie about the park.

After leaving the park we stopped for dinner at Todd's Barbeque- we couldn't resist eating a place with the name Todd in it.  And like our son, Todd, this Todd also did a good job cooking.
From 2013-04-19 Todd

Friday, April 19, 2013

King's Canyon National Park, Thursday, April 18, 2013

This morning we went south to the King's Canyon National Park which is adjacent to the Sequoia National Park.  It was quite a drive from Coarsegold to the National Park but we drove through areas of vineyards, orchards of fruit trees and nut trees and farms with cattle.  Driving to King's Canyon we had a real climb but once up the nearly 7000 feet we were seeing those huge sequoia trees.  We walked about General Grant's Grove admiring the trees.  The tree named General Grant is the largest tree in this area and is also called "America's Christmas Tree".  We were allowed to walk through a tree that had fallen many years go and could do so without any stooping. 

We stopped at the King's Canyon Visitor Center in Grant Grove Village and watched a film about the canyon.  Since it was lunchtime we went to the restaurant at the Village to satisfy our need for food.

After lunch we drove on the Canyon road to the point that the road was closed, about 13 miles.  We turned around and then on the way out we drove a side road to Hume Lake.  This mountain lake was man made for a milling company that was cutting down sequoia trees.  This milling did not last too many years before this area became a National Park and the trees were saved.  The lake has become a nice recreation area for vacationers.  There are also a couple camps (church camps) on the lake that today had people busy preparing for the summer campers.

As we were returning back to the campground we noticed the temperature change.  In General Grant's Grove the temperature was 46 degrees but once we were in the lower altitude the temperature was 78 degrees- quite a difference.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Yosemite National Park, Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Today we drove to Yosemite National Park.  It is still winter in that part of California- well, there was snow in the higher elevations.  The Mariposa Grove is a group of giant sequoias on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada.  We walked a 2.1 mile trail through this peaceful grove.  The size of these trees is truly amazing.  The Giant Grizzly sequoia is 96 feet in circumference and 27.6 feet in diameter at the base.  Branches of this Giant Grizzly are 7 feet in diameter, larger than the trunks of most other non-sequoia trees.   Many trees had evidence of being in fires but they continue to survive. It was a very pretty day with bright blue skies and a few puffy white clouds but it was in the upper 40's in the Mariposa Grove and warmer at the campground (low 70's).  Last night the temperature dropped down into the 30's but tonight is to go to the low 40's and warmer weather is predicted for the coming days.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Park Sierra at Coarsegold, Ca., Tuesday, April 16, 2013

We left the Pacific coast this morning and traveled 154 miles east to Coarsegold, Ca.  Our travels took us through pastashio orchards, more vineyards and vegetable farms.  San Luis Reservoir was along our travel route for several miles.  Three hours of traveling and we arrived at the Park Sierra where we will be camped for 5 nights as we visit Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.  Park Sierra is an Escapee Park.  The sites are roomy, full hook-ups and $16.00 a night plus electric (sure beats the $70.00/night we had in Marina in many ways).   The only negative is that we are not to use our wash machine because their septic systems are fragile but there is a laundry room, if needed.  The Jeep was in a need of a good washing so this afternoon Tom washed it at an area designated for that task here at the campground.  Tomorrow we will get out start visiting the National Parks in this area.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

17-Mile Drive, Monday, April 15,2013

Our second day in the Monterey area started with going to Cannery Row.  At one time there were numerous sardine canneries along this seaside.  John Steinbeck wrote a novel about this area during the era of the Great Depression.  No longer canneries these buildings now have specialty shops located in them.  We went into a candy shop that had a huge variety of individually wrapped candies (taffies, mints, other hard candies) that you could go about selecting.  We selected a fairly small amount but when we were going to pay the tab was over $18.00.  Knocked our socks off- and we promptly said “no thanks”.  The price of the candy was not posted anywhere.

We then drove to the “17-Mile Drive” entrance gate and paid $9.75 to take this drive on Pebble Beach.  This drive is along the Pacific Coast which is quite rocky and picturesque and through Del Monte Forest that has pine and cypress trees.  There are also golf courses- Pebble Beach, The Links at Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill and a par 3 Peter Hay Golf Links.

A huge rock in the Spanish Bay is called Bird Rock.  As the name implies birds congregate on this rock but there are also harbor seals and sea lions lounging on the rock.  Before seeing the seals, we could hear them “barking” so loud that we could hear them over the roar of the ocean.  A couple areas are closed off from viewing from April 1 to June 1 as this is the harbor seal pupping season.

We had lunch at the Spyglass Hill Grille.  The entrance fee ($9.75) is refunded at restaurants if the bill is more than $30.00.    The drive limits access to the residential areas although the residences we did pass looked like the houses in magazines- nice but not in our price range.

Leaving Monterey we drove north of Marina on Freeway-1.  This drive took us along vegetable growing areas.  We passed fields that were unfamiliar to us but looking closer we realized this was artichokes.

From 2013-04-15 Artichokes
From 2013-04-15 Artichokes
From 2013-04-15 Artichokes
  We then saw roadside markets selling artichokes 10 for $1.00 and even deep fried artichokes.

Today has been a cool day in the upper 50’s most of the day and windy with gusts 30-35mph.  We were glad to get back to the motorhome and out of the wind.  Tomorrow we will move away from the coast.

Monterey and Carmel, Sunday, April 14,2013

We departed  Morro Bay this morning and went 137 miles to Marina, Ca. just north of Monterey.  We had gotten close to this area yesterday on the Pacific Coast Highway (Ca.-1) but today we traveled a more accommodating route for the motorhome on Freeway 101.  We drove through agricultural areas of vineyards grape arbors and fields of vegetable as lettuces and broccoli or cauliflowers.  The surrounding mountains were not the green mountains along the coast but brown.  One area we went by there were many oil or gas wells in the valley and on the mountain ridge.
We were in Marina Dunes RV Park by 12:30pm.  Marina Dunes RV Park is the most expensive park we have been to thus far at $70.00/night and we only have 30-amp electric and it does not live up to the description or the ratings in the “Trailer Life Campground Directory”- such a disappointment.  The ironic thing about the electric is 2 sites beside us have 50-amp service but the sites are too small for most  motorhomes that use 50-amps.  Tom questioned their rates and was told that all sites cost the same.  Campgrounds are not abundant in this area so we did not have choices.  Two nights here and then we will move on.
We ate some lunch and then drove about the area of Monterey.  Being Sunday, the streets in Cannery Row were busy with people walking and shopping.  We stopped at the Visitor’s Center to get some local maps.  We then drove to Carmel-By-The-Sea .   Carmel is immediately south of Monterey, in fact, there isn’t much of a break between the 2 cities.  We returned to the Carmel Mission since we were unable to see much yesterday.  This church is now considered a Basilica and is somewhat different looking inside from the other Missions that we visited.  Rooms adjoining the church that were used in the early years (late 1700’s) are still set up in the fashion of those early years.  We learned today that this Mission was the 2nd of the 21 Missions established in California.
From the Mission we drove  the Scenic Drive through Carmel  that has the beautiful ocean on one side of the road and high end houses on the other side.  Finding a parking place, we then walked about the area admiring the houses and watching surfers trying to catch the perfect wave.  We returned to the motorhome by 5:30pm and called it a day for sight seeing.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pacific Coast Highway and Elephant Seals, Saturday, April 13, 2013

Oh my, what a day.  We left the motorhome around 10am to drive the Pacific Coast Highway (Ca-1).  As the name implies we were driving right along the coastline much of the way.  This highway is not recommended for tractor-trailers or RV's from San Simeon to Big Sur, about 88 miles.

A little more than 4 miles north of the Hearst Castle was the Elephant Seal vista point.  What an amazing sight- female elephant seals were laying all over this beach area.  This is their molting season and they will lay on the beach for about a month until their top skin peels off.  During this time they do not eat or go in the water.  Juveniles which are seals that were born in December 2011 and have survived their first year (about 50% do not survive) also return to molt.  We watched several of these juveniles swim in and then slowly work their bodies up on the beach.  They move a couple of feet then stop and move and stop- this is done so that their lungs can expand to adapt to the gaseous air as oppose to being under water.  A lady associated with the "Friends of the Elephant Seals" was in the viewing area distributing information about the seals and talking with observers.

Tearing ourselves away from the seals we continued on up the road.  Not long after passing through San Simeon the road started going up and down hills with sharp turns.  No this road was not for motorhomes or semi's but we did see a few daring RVers anyway. There were many vista  points to stop and take pictures of this rugged but beautiful coastline.  In the Big Sur area the highway goes through a forested region away from views of the ocean but then it returns to the coast before getting to Carmel-By-The-Sea.  We did stop for lunch at Ventana Restaurant near Big Sur which was up a mountainous road to an overlook of the Ocean.  Even though it was a little cool we did dine outside as most everyone else was doing.  We drove a scenic route through Carmel that had the Ocean on one side and exquisite homes on the other.  And believe it or not there was another Mission, this one in Carmel.  We took a few pictures of the gardens and outside but services were going on so we didn't go into the church.

We returned to Moro Bay on the same route (we could have gone on Freeway 101).   There are some homes built on the tops of the mountains overlooking the Ocean and homes built on cliffs right by the Ocean.  And like all roads today there were construction being done.   We had to stop to see the seals again and then we stopped at a state fishing pier which we walked out on.  Finally, about 7:30pm we got back to the motorhome after first stopping at an Albertson's for a few groceries.  A full day!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Morro Bay and Hearst Castle, Friday, April 12, 2013

We left Oceano this morning moving north to Morro Bay.  A short trip of 33 miles and we were at Morro Dunes Campground in an easy 45 minutes.  The campground is along the Pacific coast and the Morro Rock is right in direct view from our motorhome.  The Morro Rock is a 576 foot rock in the Morro Bay.  There is a chain of extinct volcanoes known as "The Morros" of which this rock is the last in the chain.  This rock was visible as we approached the area but the top was covered with a heavy fog, then a little later the fog had covered the entire rock and then this evening it became clearly visible.

After getting settled into our campsite we took off for San Simeon, several miles further north, and the Hearst Castle.  We did stop at a Mexican restaurant along the way for lunch.  We got to the Hearst Castle Visitor's Center a little before 1pm and purchased tickets for a 2:20pm tour of the Grand Rooms.  There was lots to do during this wait period- a museum, several shops and some food shops.  At 2pm Tom heard an announcement that 8 more people could be taken on the 2pm tour so we were able to move our time up and get on this tour.  From the Visitor's Center we were loaded on buses and transported up a 5 mile winding road to the Hearst Castle.  Once at the Castle we were met by a tour guide.  Our tour included the Grand room, the dining room, a reprise(?) room, a billiards room and the movie theater- tour 5 rooms out of 165.   William Randolph Hearst was a collector of all types of art which is used throughout to decorate the castle.  After the inside tour we were free to walk about the outside  at our leisure.  The Neptune Pool is a large tile lined outside pool with sculptures around and in the pool.  The gardens were just beautiful.  We had to go through a building that housed the Roman pool before boarding the bus to return to the Visitor's Center.  This pool was also tile lined.  After returning to the Visitor's Center we saw a movie on a big screen about W.R. Hearst and this Castle.  There are 3 tours that can be taken but for first visits the Grand Rooms tour is recommended.  Our tour guide was knowledgeable and presented the information in an interesting way.  To me, the outside grounds and Neptune pool were the most appealing- the interior was so ornate that I thought it was gawdy.

On return back to the campground we traveled along the coast and saw several kite boarders sailing across the water and jumping waves.  Wet suits are needed to be in this cold Pacific Ocean.  The air coming in from the ocean is chilly.  After our return, we walked across the road from the campground to the dunes and out to the ocean to take some pictures of the Morro Rock.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dunes, Avila Beach and San Luis Obispo, Thursday, April 11, 2013

This morning we met Alice's son, John, for a drive on the coast along the dunes.  There were RV's camped on the beach and most had ATV's of some description to be used for riding over the dunes.  Some commercial operations had ATV's for rent.  There were many birds along the shoreline and at one point it seemed there was a blanket of birds which were the snowy plovers. 

A little before noon Alice, Tom and I drove to Avila Beach for lunch at the Fat Cat Restaurant.  We sat outside enjoying our food and the beautiful Pacific Ocean views.  We stopped at a shopping area and did a little shopping.  Then we drove to San Luis Obispo and walked about the tree-lined streets.   Located across a small stream from the shopping area is the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, the 5th of the Franciscan missions in California.  Briefly we walked about this mission and took some pictures.

Returning back to Oceano and the Swope house we had dinner prepared while we were out by  John-  beef Tri-tips, a cut of beef well-known in this area, and a Portugese sausage, grilled and commonly served together, along with fresh asparagus and fruit salad.  Nice dinner but then it was time to say good-by as we are going to move on tomorrow.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Oceano and Alice Swope, Wednesday, April 10, 2013

This morning we made a quick run to Solvang to purchase some pastries to take with us today as we moved from Buellton to Oceano where my former nursing school roommate, Alice Swope, lives and we would be visiting today and we were going to take the pastries to her.  So a little past 10am we were packed up and moving 51 miles to the north.  We traveled through hilly country with miles of vineyards.  About an hour we arrived at Pismo Sands RV Park where we will be staying for the next 2 nights.  After eating lunch, we drove a short distance to Alice's house where she and her husband, John, live.  It was so good seeing my friend after several years.  Her husband, unfortunately, has been quite ill for several years and requires someone to be with him constantly.  Their son was able to come over today to be with his dad allowing Alice to take us for a drive about the area.  There are miles of beaches and communities with beach houses for rent.  It was a beautiful cloud free day but the air was a little cool coming from the west and the Pacific Ocean.  Returning back to the house, we sat catching up on our lives and then Alice prepared a supper of chicken tacos and fresh fruit salad before we returned to our motorhome for the night. 

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Missions,Santa Barbara and Pea Soup- Tuesday, April 9, 2013

We were off visiting the area around Buellton where our motorhome is parked.  We started out driving through the town of Solvang eastward and on the east side is the Old Mission Santa Inez.  We made the stop and took the self guided tour through this old mission that is the 19th of 21 missions established by the Franciscan Fathers in 1804.These missions were established by Spain in order to protect this territory from Russia and England.  Capuchin Franciscans from Ireland were assigned to this mission in 1924 and continue today to serve the needs of the parish members and the community.

Turning south we continued our travels through the Santa Ynez Mountains overlooking the valley of the same name.  As we drove through the beautiful green mountains we stopped at overlooks to admire the valley below.  The Cachuma Lake and Dam clearly showed the lack of rain in this area with the low water marks on the perimeters.  Further along the road we were able to see, on the western side, the Pacific Ocean and city of Santa Barbara.

Finally, descending the mountains we were in Santa Barbara.  What a pretty city with the red tiled roofs of many buildings along with the stucco exteriors.  Stearns Wharf, the oldest working wooden pier on the West Coast, allows parking.  So we drove out on the pier and had lunch at the Moby Dick Restaurant.  Restaurants validate 90 minutes of parking fee.  We both had dinners of bacon wrapped shrimp- good.

Leaving the wharf we stopped at a Visitor's Center.  We had noticed trolley appearing tour buses and inquired about these tours and also about what should not be missed in this town.  Since the trolley only makes one 10 minute stop we passed over taking that tour and decided we could self tour.  So we were off.  The Old Mission Santa Barbara was a must see so we went on another self tour through this mission.   This mission founded in 1786 is the 10th of 21 Franciscan missions in California.

Our last stop in this city was at the Santa Barbara Courthouse.  This Spanish styled building was built in1929.  Ceiling are hand painted and walls are decorated with imported tiles.  An elevator goes up to the clock tower.  The workings of the clock can be viewed through a glass enclosure.  The walls in this clock room are covered in murals.  A floor above the clock room opens to outside viewing.

After returning to the motorhome and arranging our move for tomorrow, I phoned my former nursing school roommate, Alice Swope.  Alice moved to California shortly after graduation and we would be in her neck of the woods tomorrow.  As we talked about our travels and that we were in Buellton, Alice mentioned a restaurant, Pea Soup Andersen's.  Many years ago we (Todd,Thomas an exchange student and me) had been out in the San Diego area with Alice when we had stopped at another Pea Soup Andersen's in that area.  Since Tom had not been with us (he was attending a conference) he wanted to go to the restaurant and have some pea soup.  Split pea soup and salad was our supper this evening.

Buellton and Solvang, April 8, 2013, Monday

We made a move 111miles to the north.  We left Oak Park Campground in Simi Valley about 9:15am.  There was talk on the weather reports about strong winds today but nothing of any concern in Simi Valley.  As we traveled along the beautiful blue water of the Pacific Ocean the winds were becoming noticably stronger.  We arrived in Buellton about 11:30am  and were glad to be off the road.
After getting settled into our campsite at Flying Flags RV Resort we took off in the Jeep for the town of Solvang just a few miles to the east of Buellton.  This unique town was established by Danish educators in 1911.  The Danish influence is evident in the architecture, windmills, bakeries, museums and shops.  We ate at "The Belgian Cafe" with a lunch of Danish sausage sandwich for Tom and a grilled ham and cheese for me, both also included a fresh fruit cup.  We walked about the town going into some of the shops and stopping at the Visitor's Center.  Some of the better museums were closed today but we did get to the Hans Christain Andersen Museum- not worth the time.  The many bakeries were really tempting us so before leaving we did stop and purchased a "Buttering" a pastry ring that looks like sweet buns but is flavored with almond and has a custardly filling. 
Today was a much cooler day with temperatures in the low 60's and wind blowing at 35 mph with gusts to 50mph.  Hopefully the wind will calm as we plan to move again on Wednesday but we will stay put longer if the wind continues.  Driving the motorhome in strong winds can be quite challenging.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Reacquainting with the Past,Sunday, April 7, 2013

This county owned campground is so quiet and peaceful after being in Anaheim.  Even the occasional train passing by is a relief from the city sounds of traffic.  This morning we made a run to the grocery store to restock some food and laundry supplies.  Tom grilled steaks for lunch and watched the races on television.  A beautiful day that started out in the low 50’s and has gone to the low 80’s by afternoon before starting to cool down.

Tom through Facebook has gotten reacquainted with friends from his hometown of Deshler, Ohio.  Ken Tussing is one of these friends and the last Tom and Ken had seen one another was in basic training for the Navy in 1963.  Ken now lives in this area of California and through the FB connection asked Tom to give him a call if we got into this area.  So Tom did contact Ken and it was set in place that Ken and his wife, Doris, would pick us up to go out to dinner this evening.   We had a really nice evening with Ken and Doris going to a local diner, First Street Family Restaurant.  Of course, Tom and Ken talked about their old hometown and people from that town.  Doris and I enjoyed a few laughs listening and adding our comments.  The evening ended with hopes of keeping in touch.  Ken, a musician, has a tour scheduled that may involve some time in the east that we may be able to connect when we’re back home.  We thank Ken and Doris for adding to our travel memories.

Simi Valley and Reagan Museum, Saturday, April 6, 2013

This morning a little past 9am we departed the Harbor RV Park and traveled north on I-405 and then north of  Los Angeles connected with Freeway 118 west to Simi Valley.  Eighty-eight miles and less than 2 hours we were at Oak Park Campground, a Ventura County park where we plan to stay for 2 nights.  We were finally out of a city environment but then shortly after setting up we realized that we were real close to train tracks as a train went by.  That’s campgrounds! 

We drove into the town of Simi Valley to get lunch.   We had been seeing billboards advertising a new hamburger called “Hot Mess” at Jack-in-the-Box.  So when we saw a “Jack’s” we decided today we would try this sandwich.  The “Hot Mess” is a hamburger with onion rings, Jalapeno peppers and lots of a cheesy sauce on sourdough toast.  It was a mess and it had some heat.  We have satisfied our curiosity back to healthier eating.

Our next stop was at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in a beautiful location high on a hill overlooking the surrounding mountains, valleys and supposedly the Pacific Ocean (the smog was too heavy to see the Ocean and it was a clear day).  The museum follows the life of Reagan from college to actor to California governor and then 40th President of the U.S.A.  There are 25 galleries.  An exact replica of the Oval Office during his years of being President is on display.  Air Force One, a 707 aircraft, that was used by Reagan and 6 other Presidents is displayed  allowing visitor enter and walk the full length of the plane.  The outside grounds has a replica of the White House Rose Gardens, a  piece of the Berlin Wall and the Memorial site of the President.

Within the complex there is an exhibit, “Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives”, presented by the Official Disney Fan Club (D23) .  This display of costumes, props and artwork will be at this Presidential Library through April 2013.

We thought the Library was very well done but expensive.  Entrance fee was $20.00 ( $18.00 for seniors).  A GuideCam, an audio tour guide, was $7.00 to rent- we rented these and wish that hadn’t as most everything on this guide could be heard on video clips or read on the displays.  And then going into Air Force One a picture was taken that could be purchased from $16.00 to $25.00- and no you were not allowed to take your own pictures going onto the plane.  We were also surprised at the number of visitors.  The large parking lot was filled and parking was available along the roadway with a shuttle to bring visitors to the museum.  There is a lot to see, we spent over 4 hours here.

Quiet Day, Friday, April 5, 2013

We spent a quiet day at the motorhome today.  After several days of being on the go and I had not been feeling 100% the past several days, it felt good to just kick back and rest up.    We did walk around the block where we came across a produce seller and bought some tomatoes.  Tonight we had another outstanding fireworks show at 9:30pm from the Disney parks.  These displays last about 15 or 20 minutes and have been different each night.  Tomorrow we will move north of Los Angeles to Simi Valley.

Friday, April 05, 2013

La Brea Tar Pits, Thursday, April 4, 2013

Well, today we drove into Los Angeles to the La Brea tar pits and Page Museum.  Yes, the traffic out here is as bad as everyone talks about it being and we were not in the rush hour traffic.  We did make it to the La Brea tar pits and even found a free parking place along a street.  These tar pits contain skeletal remains of thousands prehistoric animals- mastodons, giant sloths, ancient camels, saber-toothed cats, dire wolves (to name a few).  Animals would come to these areas looking for water and become trapped in the thick tar (asphalt, really) and then struggling to get free may have been attacked by other animals that also became trapped.  A tar depth of only 2 inches could trap a mastodon.  The asphalt was a perfect preserver of the bones.  A parking garage was to be built in a nearby location and when excavating the area more pits were uncovered.  To prevent the delaying of this construction 23 huge boxes or crates were filled of the excavated gooey earth and is now being combed through for bones by staff and volunteers (Project 23)- what a messy job.  A pit #91 is in a 5 year archeological dig hiatus  while project 23 is being done.

The Page Museum, a museum about the tar pits, is on the grounds of the tar pits.  There are many displays of many of the bones that have been recovered.  The number of bones recovered are in the millions.  There has only been the remains of one human found, a female.  There are 2 theaters that show films about the tar pits and about the digs taking place.  The grounds around the tar pits and the museum are nicely landscaped with some pretty flowering plants. We spent a couple hours in this area.

Before returning to Anaheim we drove up Hollywood Boulevard to the corner of Vine Street- the famous Hollywood and Vine.  The large Holly wood sign could be seen on the hillside but unfortunately we were not able to get a picture.  We were looking for some place to get lunch but again the parking was a problem so returned back to Anaheim to eat at Mimi’s Café.  Leaving the restaurant we drove a short distance to Disney Village which we walked about and purchasing a few things.

Disney had the fireworks tonight which we enjoyed from our motorhome.  A nice ending to the day.

A Disney Day, Wednesday, April 3 2013

We were off to see the mouse today- Mickey Mouse!  Being just a few blocks from the Disney Parks we walked from the campground.  We purchased a one-day park hopper ticket so we could go to both parks.  We first went to the Disney’s California Adventure Park and spent the majority of the day.  This park has some interesting rides and we were able to go on several.  The California Screamin’ is a roller coaster that starts out with a launching – a fast coaster ride with one loop.    Mickey’s Fun Wheel is a ferris wheel in which some cars slide on railings as the rides circles- Tom had said he would go on if we went in a non-sliding car but we got into the wrong line and did go on a slider which proved to be thrilling as the wheel turned.  Some of the attractions in this park were the same as attractions in Disney’s Florida parks.    Spring break for school kids had the parks crowded.  We did manage to get on some rides but usually after a wait of 30-60 minutes.

In the late afternoon we then went to the Disneyland Park.  Both parks are in close proximity to one another unlike Disney World in Florida.  Disneyland is similar to the Magic Kingdom park in Florida. The Matterhorn Bobsleds and the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage are 2 attractions not in Florida.  We waited in line for about 20 minutes for the Bobsleds when that ride was temporarily closed down for 45 minutes or so we didn’t wait.  We were able to ride the submarines which surprising to us was a really a nice long ride.  We have always been disappointed that the submarine attraction in Florida was removed. 

About 7:30pm we had decided that we had enough of the walking, the waiting and the crowds that we left the parks walking back to the campground.  We stopped at a nice restaurant, Mimi’s Café, for dinner and were very pleased with our meals- 3 course meals for $13.99 each.  We had a cup of French onion soup, Tom had a Salmon entrée and I had a shrimp/scallop fettuccini dish and then we had a triple chocolate brownie sundae dessert- really nice meals.  For some reason the fireworks that were to go off at 9:30pm did not so we were really glad that we had not stayed at the park any longer in anticipation of seeing these closer than what we had been able to see from the campground last night.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Anaheim, Crystal Cathedral and Fireworks, Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A little past 9am this morning we were leaving Desert Hot Springs heading west.  We stopped at a Pilot’s before getting on I-10 to get fuel.  We had a fairly short drive to Anaheim, 102 miles.  Tom had made reservations last evening at Anaheim Harbor RV Park.  We knew we would going into a congested area and wanted to know that we would have a campsite when we got here.  By 11:30am we arrived at the campground and were soon into our assigned site.

After setting up and eating lunch we drove a couple of miles to the Crystal Cathedral.  Dr. Robert Schuller was the mastermind behind this beautiful glass structure and the non-denominational ministry that has been conducted here.  There are several buildings on the grounds.  The ministry started out at this location in 1955 which at that time was a drive-in movie theater and folks attended church services sitting in their cars.  As the ministry grew the buildings were added.  The ministry continued and the service became televised with “Hour of Power”.  The grandson of Dr. Schuller, Bobby Schuller, is the current minister.  Unfortunately,  financially this church has hit a roadblock and has had to declare bankruptcy.  This complex has been sold to the Catholic church and this church will be moving to the current location of the Catholic church that will be occupying these premises in the near future.  The Catholic church plans to refurbish the Crystal Cathedral which will take several years- 2016.  In the mean time, another building is presently being renovated to be used for services.

About 9:30pm we were serenaded by fireworks from Disneyland.  We are just a short distance away from the park.  Since we plan to be here for 4 nights I guess this will be a nightly occurrence.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Rim of the World, Monday, April 1, 2013

Oops, no blog written yesterday.  Well there was not much to write as we didn’t do much.  Just went into Desert Hot Springs for lunch at a Mexican restaurant since there wasn’t much else opened for Easter.  We just needed a day to catch our breathe.  It was also a very windy day and that wind continued throughout the night and through today.

We were scheduled to move today but decided to stay another night.  We had another area that we wanted to see and we hope the winds calm down by tomorrow.  So after paying for tonight at the campground office and stopping in Desert Hot Springs for me to get a haircut (the worst cut I’ve ever had) we took off in the Jeep for the San Bernardino area and drove the “Rim of the World Byway”.    This very winding 110-mile road goes through elevations from 2,940 to 8,443 feet.  The road passes through the resort town of Big Bear Lake and around the lake.  “Big Bear Snow” was a manmade snow covered hill for sliding down on tubes and a conveyor belt that returned the folks up to the top- kind of unique and it was busy today.  We had packed a picnic lunch, not knowing that there would be places to get lunch, that we ate at a picnic area in the San Bernardino National Forest.  This was a nice drive with beautiful scenery.  It was cooler today and in the higher elevations that we drove  the temperatures were in the 40’s- in Desert Hot Springs 70’s.