Saturday, November 29, 2008

Staying Close to Home

It was such a pretty day today that we decided to find some geocaches. Doug downloaded the latitude and longitudes to his gps and off we went.

We didn't have to go far to find the first one. It was a short ways outside the park. We climbed a small hill and searched around the boulders. The cache was a small plastic container about the size of a pop can tucked between two rocks and a bush.

Doug popped it open and laid out the treasures while I signed the log book inside with our geocache name and the date. The last time this one was found was September. There wasn't anything that we wanted but we left a Washington State 25th anniversary lottery coin.

The next cache was only about a mile away. The gps pointed us to the sign for the Diamond Zen Center. We searched and searched for the mini cache and finally discovered it.

It was buried inside a fake rock nearby. It sure looked real! Once again, I signed the log book and we took nothing. I guess it's just the thrill of the chase. And geocaching leads us to some interesting places that we might not otherwise find.

When we got back to the park we checked out a section that had caught our interest earlier in the week. It was fenced off and marked Silent Valley Indian Preserve. We grabbed our cameras and walked a short way in.

There were huge boulders with grinding holes from the Indians. Unfortunately, they were all full of rain and leaves and debris due to the storms that had passed through.

Some boulders had only one deep hole and others had two or three. It was great fun seeing a bit of history and climbing from rock to rock to discover more holes. It was great that the park recognized the value of these and protects them.

The rest of the day was spent cleaning the coach and mundane chores.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Day After

Hope you all had a pleasant turkey day yesterday with lots of friends and lots to eat. (With lots of leftovers!)

We had a quiet day with an unconventional thanksgiving dinner. Doug prepared sea bass in a jalapeno ranch sauce and served it with rice, steamed peas & carrots and biscuits with light garlic butter. We also had shrimp poppers for an appetizer. I's a rough life. And, we have leftovers! So, no cooking tonight, just reheating.

It was a nice way to spend the day and we wished you all well as we dug into our vittles. Gobble, gobble.

If you went shopping this morning, good luck. We are scaling back our Christmas shopping and it felt great to sleep in and not worry about the crowds, mess, noise and $$$$$.


After the rain subsided, we decided to visit the town of Idyllwild on the other side of the mountain. The road is winding and crazy with views to die for. (not literally!) We passed a wide spot in the road with several cars parked near and were curious what they were doing. It turns out that it is Bay Tree Springs. It's a pipe coming out of the rocks with fresh spring water. The people were filling large water jugs and their cars were full of them. Everyone was waiting patiently for their turn. It must be some good water!

The mountains received a dusting of snow last night and are very pretty against the blue sky.

We arrived in Idyllwild just in time for their Holiday Bazaar. The entire town was full of people on the streets and in every shop. Christmas decorations festooned the streets, shops and people. We wanted to stop, but couldn't find anywhere to park. We don't need a darn thing, but the spirit is contagious.

We also found another Thousand Trails park near the town of Pine Cove. We took a drive through it for future reference and weren't very impressed. Very few sites were large enough for a 40' motorhome and they were very unlevel. Most of them were on the hillside and we couldn't even figure out how people accessed them. And, they had no sewer hookups. That's not a deal breaker, but when you put everything together, we will probably pass by this park.

With Thanksgiving behind us, I feel the Christmas spirit coming on. There's Christmas music on the radio, holiday specials on the tv and shopping news everywhere. Unfortunately, not all of the news is good, as greed and impatience also marks the holiday spirit.

So, Doug got into the Christmas spirit with our Christmas palm tree. The neighbors are enjoying it as much as we are. And I am dragging out the holiday recipes. As much as we love Christmas, it looks like a quiet, homemade one this year.

Hope you are all feeling the spirit.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!

To all of our family and dear friends, Happy Turkey Day. We are so thankful for a roof over our heads (on wheels), full cupboards, loving friends and the internet, so we can thank you all without being there in person. We love you all and miss you today.

Doug decorated the table with treasures that we found right here in the park. He is so creative! There will be a Thanksgiving dinner at the restaurant here, but we will just have our own little private dinner and reflect back on this year.

We've lost loved ones, but are immensely grateful for having had them in our lives. We've driven away from all we knew, but are grateful for new experiences and friends. And, we are grateful for sunshine. Although it's been a couple of days since we have seen any.

We hope you are having lots of family, food, friendship and love.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Ok, for all of you in the northwest, don't feel too bad. We have rain today. As you can see in the picture, there's rain on the windshield. Oh well, it's still 65 degrees and t-shirt weather. Our neighbor said to expect a good storm of 5 to 6 inches. (He was wrong)

It rained off and on all day but Doug found a couple of dry interludes to complete some more projects. First, he releveled the coach. We have a jack in the back that won't stay down due to the hydraulics. Then, he repaired our shade that covers the door and assembled & cleaned the new (to us) bbq he found at a garage sale last summer. I did some cleaning and paid some bills. (yuck) Basically, just a quiet day at home.

For dinner, Doug barbequed hot dogs on the new grill and I fixed mac n cheese to go with it. I guess everyday can't be exciting. Some times it's nice to just relax.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Silent Valley Camping

Hooray!!!! Pat yourselves on the back. We reached our 500th visitor yesterday. Thank you all!

This morning we left the Country Hills RV park around 10 am. We knew we were only going about 20 miles to Silent Valley Camping Club but we also knew we were going up a windy mountain road with lots of switchbacks and drop offs.

It was slow going and I am not looking forward to the trip back down. We are now at 3500 feet elevation in a beautiful valley near the top of the mountains. It's a huge park with 850 camping sites and we took our time driving around to find one with good cell service. I would guess that the park is about a quarter full and that is probably due to it being Thanksgiving week. There are quite a few kids here and lots of bikes and tents and families.

We found a nice open site and while it is not very private or secluded, it will do for a few days. We are using our ROD (Resorts of Distinction) membership here and can stay for free for 7 days. I don't know if we will stay that long, but who knows....... Our plans are carved in jello.

In the early evening, Doug wanted to run to the store. As we drove along the Banning-Idyllwild road, we kept climbing. When we saw the sign at 6000 feet elev. , we were totally surprised! And then the sun started setting. The view from 6000 feet is incredible and it lasted what seemed like forever.

Doug pulled into the first vista point we could find. And this is what we saw.

My favorite photographer (who doesn't like heights) scrambled to the top of the tallest rock he could find and snapped pictures as fast as he could.

And the sky kept getting more spectacular.

I hope I'm not boring you with the pictures, but it was breathtaking.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Long, Long Day

We left the San Benito Thousand Trails about 10:45 this morning and headed south. The next park that we were going to spend some time in is in Banning, CA. That's about 425 miles away, so we decided to split the trip in half and spend Sunday night somewhere before we hit Los Angeles.

The weather was beautiful and everything was going just right. First, we went over Pacheco Pass (1368 elev.) to I-5. From there it was such smooth sailing that when we got near Bakersfield, we decided to keep going and have a shorter day tomorrow.

The afternoon was still young when we hit the Grapevine and Doug wanted to keep going and get it behind us. Tejon Pass was 4144 elevation. Traffic was heavy but moved just fine and the coach did great. We came down the pass into Santa Clarita and found a Walmart. We considered spending the night in the parking lot and quickly changed our minds. The place was packed and there was nowhere for RV parking. We finally found a spot in the north 40 to park and ran in to do some shopping. Ten minutes and we were back out the door. By now, it's starting to get late and we want to find an RV park for the night.

Next thing we knew, we were in L.A. We cut off onto Hwy 210 and skirted the north side of L.A.
We drove right past the housing development that had been decimated by the Santa Ana winds fire last week. It was devastating to see blocks of homes leveled. And the smoke was still in the air. We got onto I-10 and it was getting dark with no park in sight. So, we kept going.

Now, of course, there are no RV parks in L.A. so we kept going. In San Bernadino we stopped at a Travel America truck stop but we didn't want to park amongst the thousands of trucks that were there. It was the biggest truck stop we have ever seen!!!! And, nobody there knew of any parks in the area. So, we kept going.

In an old book that I had dug up, I found that there was RV camping about 40 miles further in Beaumont. By now, it's pitch black and the signs are impossible to read until you are on top of them. But we found the Beaumont exit and followed a tiny sign that said "camping". We wound through a number of back roads and finally saw a sign. No Turnaround ahead! Great, pitch black, and we will have to unhook the car and turn the coach around and rehook the car and then find our way back to the freeway. But, no! The "No Turnaround" was the Country Hills RV Park. It was 7pm and the manager was very nice about the late arrival. He charged us an arm and a leg and then led us to a nice pull thru site so we didn't even have to unhook the car.

Doug plugged in the power and we collapsed. What a long, long day!! You would think we would learn!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mail Call & Drought

What an interesting day! We took a ride to downtown Paicines (pictured above) where the post office is located in the back of the store and restaurant. We picked up our box of mail and decided to check out some local roads.

We followed Cottonwood Road miles and miles back into the hills. We crossed over 7 gravel washes and stopped to take pictures along the way. Waaaaay back in the hills, Doug noticed a truck coming up behind us rather quickly. So, he pulled over to let it pass and it stopped right next to us. It was a couple of local ranchers who wanted to know if we were ok. We assured them we were and got to visiting about the area and themselves. The older man told us he had lived in that canyon for all of his life and they had just celebrated his mother's 99th birthday. She had also spent her entire life in the valley.

They had a truck load of pumpkins and I asked what they were for. It was feed for their cattle. They explained they are in the middle of a two year drought and will probably be selling off much of their stock. There is little grass for the cattle and feed is so expensive that it's better to just sell the cattle. It seemed sad to me, but they were very pragmatic about it. I'm sure this isn't the first time in the last hundred years that there have been droughts. Fascinating interlude in our day.

We turned around and traversed another road in the other direction. Doug found a dirt road that led up a mountain. His curiousity got the better of him and up we went. The road wound in a S pattern up the hill, getting steeper and narrower the farther we went. We had no idea where it would come out but kept driving slower and slower. If someone had come down the hill a little too quickly, we would have been pushed off the edge and down the mountainside. I started to get very nervous and Doug pulled over in a wide spot to decide if we should keep going.

I walked up the road a ways to see what was around the next couple of curves and Doug took pictures of the scenery below. What a view! Just as we decided to try to turn around and head back down, we heard a vehicle coming down the road. It was a big pickup truck and the owner was as surprised to see us standing in the road as we were to see him barreling down the hill.

He stopped and answered our questions about the road. It turns out that the road ended about a quarter mile further up at his ranch and a winery. Another very interesting guy. He has lived on the mountain all of his life. In fact, his name was Harlan and we were on Mt Harlan Rd. It had been named for his family many years ago. His family used to own 4000 acres between the mountain and past the Thousand Trails where we are staying. Now there is just a ranch at the top of the mountain.

After a nice visit, we turned the Jeep around (carefully) and drove (carefully) back down the hill. It is so much fun meeting and visiting with local people. Such a sense of history.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Just Hangin' Out

We have spent the day just hangin' out around the coach. It has cooled off quite a bit but still feels pretty good to a couple of soggy northwesterners. The leaves on the trees are changing and it looks like fall. But there are still lots of people coming and going.

Doug experimented with the washer and now has it torn apart. This is very frustrating for him. I made a big crockpot of chili and homemade cornbread. No matter where we are, it feels like home.

We will be here until Sunday so there probably won't be a lot to report. But, I will check in anyway.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Maintenance Day

No pictures today. We found a leak in the basement and while Doug was investigating where the washing machine could be leaking, he discovered that the water filter for the ice maker was leaking. So, we were off to Hollister RV to find a new water filter. It was a fairly easy fix, but still took most of the day between visiting with neighbors and running to the store and actually doing the replacement.

Our neighbors have been full timing since 1995. And, they own a fifth wheel made by the same company as our Alpine Coach. Interesting people and we learned a lot from them as well as shared some of our own discoveries. We sure meet interesting people when we are traveling.

Anyway, one problem eliminated and tomorrow we look for the washing machine leak. This requires Doug removing the unit from the closet (not an easy task) and then being a contortionist to examine the water lines and machines in such a small space. Neither one of us is looking forward to this but neither are we liking the idea of using a laundromat. Rough life, huh?

The weather is cooling off considerably at night. It was down to 36 degrees last night, but the days are still around 80. It is lovely waking up and knowing that the sky is blue and the sun is shining.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pinnacle Peaks

We took a ride south on hwy 25 to a national park called Pinnacle Peaks.

Unsure of what it had to offer, we stopped at the visitor center where we stamped our National Parks Passport book. This is a small notebook that we purchased many years ago when we were traveling in our little travel trailer. It lists all of the national parks across the USA and at each park there's an area in the visitor center and a stamp to commemorate your visit.

We purchased our annual pass to the national parks, bought a postcard and visited with the park ranger. She explained that the park was mostly hiking trails and a couple of caves housing bats. She also showed us the viewing area for the native condors.

We spent quite a while at the condor viewing area and were able to see an adult and a juvenile condor soaring on the thermals. These are huge birds with an average of a 10 foot wingspan. So, even from quite a distance they are easy to pick out.

Next, we drove to the trailheads where we could see the pinnacles where the condors make their nests. These birds were almost eradicated when they were put on the endangered list. It will take many years for them to repopulate naturally because each female lays one egg every two years.

This park is very well maintained and there were a lot of hikers even though this is the off season. We contemplated hiking but were not prepared for it on an 85 degree day. We hadn't brought water or hats, just cameras. So, we took lots of pictures and then drove back home. Hopefully, later in the week we will get back and hike to one of the caves.

The evening ended with a spectacular sunset. We hope all is well with our dear friends and family. Thanks for sharing our travels with us.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hollister, Gilroy & Garlic

We needed a few groceries and decided to take a ride to the neighboring towns. We headed north on hwy 25 through the towns of Paicines, Tres Pinos and Hollister. We found a feed store in Hollister (which is a pretty good size town) and picked up food for Buddy. He's feeling better again! And all along the highway for miles and miles, we could smell garlic.

Then, at the intersection of 25 and hwy 101, we found The Garlic Shoppe. I knew that Gilroy (only 3 miles away) was the garlic capital and that they have a famous garlic festival every year. So, we had to stop. They had everything you could think of, made with garlic. Salsas, spices, candy, mayo, decorations. It was a lot of fun to browse but the prices were a little high. We ended up with a jar of spices and some fun pictures.

We continued on to the big city of Gilroy where we found a Costco and Walmart. Life is good! The Costco had a lot of different items than what we were used to in Washington. And, they didn't have a few items we needed. But, our stop at Walmart took care of that.

We saw something new to us in the Costco parking lot. It was a parking spot dedicated to electric car parking. Just pull in, hook up to the electricity machine and pump in some quarters.

Prices are quite a bit higher in California than Washington. Fortunately our shopping list was pretty short and we were on our way home. (Home is where we park it)

That was about it for our day. We got back to the coach and just relaxed. All of the windows and doors are open and it's about 82 degrees. Aaaaaaaaaaahhh.......

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy Birthday & Happy Anniversary

Happy Birthday Doug!!!! And Happy Anniversary to Bridgit & Chad!!!

We spent a quiet day in the park today. First, we drove through the park checking out all of the empty sites to find a new one. The park is only 1/3 full so there were lots to choose from. Some were too close to other rigs, some too shady (we did come for the sun!), and some had an ugly view out the front window. We finally found the perfect spot. It's in the sun but has a huge tree if we want shade. And there is no one parked in the site in front of us, so we have a pretty view of the trees and wildlife.

Speaking of wildlife........we saw nine deer of various sizes, a peacock, a black widow spider, a few zillion squirrels, woodpeckers, quail and other birds. But, the coolest thing was the bobcat! It was sitting by a tree near the clubhouse. Doug got some great pictures and when I get a chance to download them onto my computer, I will post them. All of this wildlife was inside the park. And, we were told that in the evenings wild pigs come in and tear up parts of the park. Of course, Doug can hardly wait to take pictures of those.

Later in the evening, as Doug was cooking hot dogs on the bbq, our neighbors invited us over to taste their tacos and salsa. The seasoned meat was cooked outside on their bbq and the salsa and beans were fresh made. We had a great visit and they shared a couple birthday shots of Patron tequila with Doug. It will be nice to keep in touch and maybe visit them when they move to Mexico some day.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

San Francisco....Open Your Golden Gates

After leaving the Russian River Resort near Cloverdale, we decided to stop in Santa Rosa at the visitor center to find the best route through San Francisco. Unfortunately, the center is in downtown and after getting into the rv parking area, we realized we couldn't make the turn to get out of the rv parking area. I guess no one planned for large rvs. Anyway, we had a nice visit inside the welcome center and picked up a map showing the route through S.F.

So, we unhooked the jeep and got around the corners, then hooked it back up again. Now, we are getting better and faster at this, but it's a little bit of pain in the neck. It was easy getting back onto hwy 101 and before we knew it, we could see the Golden Gate Bridge.

It was fun crossing it and seeing Alcatraz and the city across the bay. When we got to the south end of the bridge we came to the toll booth.

It's been thirty years since I've been across the bridge and there was no toll then! But we paid the twelve dollars and took a leisurely drive through downtown San Francisco. Traffic was heavy (and stupid) but we made it through what seemed like ten thousand stoplights and ten million people and then we drove off of the map. We missed a turn and stayed on hwy 1 instead of catching 280 to 380 to 101. We stopped at the first town on the coast, Pacifica, and pulled into what we thought was the visitor info place and ended up in a motel parking lot. And nowhere to turn around. Aaaargh!!!!

Doug walked around the lot trying to figure out how to get out of there when the motel manager came out and offered to open the back gate and let us out the alley. It worked! And we didn't have to unhook the jeep again. So, we backtracked to hwy 280 to 380 to 101 just in time for the afternoon traffic jam. It was slow going for the next 35 miles, but we finally broke free and finished our leisurely drive to out in the middle of nowhere.

The San Benito Thousand Trails park in humungus and nice. But, it was dark and we were tired so we just pulled into the first spot we could find and parked. The park is probably only about a third full so in the morning we will find a perfect spot.

While we were kicking back relaxing, I felt quite a jolt and Doug (who was sitting out on the picnic table) hollered "earthquake"! Sure enough, we had experienced a 3.3 magnitude earthquake almost directly underneath us. Hooray for California.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Feeling Better

We spent the last couple of days here in Cloverdale, CA. Our colds seem to be getting a little better and we caught up on laundry and cleaning.

Today, we went for a ride to Lake Sonoma. It's a Corps of Engineers area with a wonderful hatchery for Coho, Steelhead and Chinook salmon. The visitor info building is super informative and staffed with friendly people. After we toured both of those, we drove up Rockpile Road through the 8,000 acre park.

Lake Sonoma is formed by the Warm Springs Dam that was completed in 1983. The dam is 319 feet high, 3000 feet long and creates a lake with a capacity of 381,000 acre-feet of water.

There is water skiing, fishing, boating, swimming and picnicking on the lake and 40 miles of designated trails for hiking and horseback riding. There is also a large area for 96 campsites and a marina.

We followed the road up one direction to an overlook and then back the other way up through wineries and private vineyards. The day was gorgeous and it felt so good to just stand in the sunshine.

And, I love to throw in a picture of my favorite photographer.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

We Found the Sunshine

We left Arcata in the rain (surprise, surprise) and just about noon saw our first glimpse of blue sky in almost a week. As we continued through the Redwood Forest's Avenue of Giants, the sky kept getting brighter and the temperature kept rising.

We pulled into Russian River Naco/Thousand Trails a little before 3pm and it was 65 degrees. That doesn't sound like much but it felt wonderful to our bones. We set up and collapsed. Doug has a fever and I'm still coughing. We have decided to stay put for a couple of days and get feeling better.

This is a nice park but only 30 amp service and no sewer. It is very quiet here this time of year and a good place to recuperate.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

So Tired of the Rain

Our plan was to stay at the South Jetty Thousand Trails for several days. But, by morning, the downpour started again and when the trees above us let go of their share of the rain, we thought we had become a submarine. Enough already! So, we again packed up and headed south. There must be some sunshine somewhere.

After a couple of stops to walk poor, sick Buddy, we finally made it to California. We were stopped at the agricultural station and the ranger came into the coach to check our refrigerator. I've never had that happen before. All we had were a couple of bananas and a squash. So we were on our way in no time. We did ask the ranger how far it was to the sunshine. He laughed and said it was raining all the way to San Francisco. Thanks, just what we wanted to hear.

In Crescent City, we stopped at the Visitor Information building but it was closed on weekends. We continued south on 101 through the Trees of Mystery and Redwood Forest. Breathtaking scenery and we even saw another Alpine Coach in the parking lot of the Trees of Mystery.

A little before 5pm, we stopped at the California Visitor Center in Arcata. The nice young man was just getting ready to close so we grabbed a couple of maps and told him we would be back in the morning. There is a RV park next door and we were tired. So, we checked in to the Mad River Rapids RV Park and pulled into a 60' long pull through site. We didn't even unhook the car. Just plugged into power and got out of the rain. Did I mention it was still raining???? We plan on spending just the one night and continuing south.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I Missed You!

Sorry that we have been without internet access. We arrived at Whalers Rest Thousand Trails in South Beach, Oregon on Wednesday. It's a nice looking park and very friendly people. BUT!!!!! There is no cell phone signal there. AND...there is no internet signal. AND... no tv signal. OK, we can live without tv. And, a day or two without the phones is alright too. But, no internet!!!!! Arrrgh.

We arrived in the rain, set up in the rain, and sat staring at each other in the rain. We discovered a leak from one of the slides and on Thursday we moved to a different, move level site. Still no signals of any kind and still lots of rain. I did use the wifi in the clubhouse to let you know that there might not be a posting for a few days. But by evening, we had had enough. We informed the office of our early departure and left the next day.

Friday morning, the rain had finally stopped and we hooked up the jeep and left. We had a pretty day for meandering down the coast. First, we stopped at a viewpoint to see the spouting rock. That was fascinating watching the waves come in under the huge rock and then, seconds later, the water spouting 8 to 10 feet in the air from a hole in the top of the rock.

We managed a few more miles to the next viewpoint to see the Heceta Head Lighthouse. Someday we will take a tour of the lighthouse, but the road down to it is a bit much for the coach and jeep. But, when we stepped out of the coach at the viewpoint we were assaulted by a horrible noise. Looking down at the beach below us, we discovered hundreds and hundreds of sea lions sunbathing on the beach and playing in the waves. What a treat!

We continued a few miles more and found the Sea Lion Caves. I have never been to them and Doug was a child the last time he had seen them. So, we did the tourist thing and took the tour.

First, we took an elevator down through the mountainside about 220 feet to sea level. The sign warning us to take it at our own risk was a little unnerving. But well worth it when we got to the bottom. There was a lot of information and a fantastic view of the caves where the sea lions seek protection in the winter and bad weather. I would imagine that the noise level when the caves were full of sea lions would be almost unbearable.

From the other side of the caves, we looked out at the lighthouse again. After the ride back up, we stopped in the gift shop for postcards for Jacob & Emma and a pin for ourselves.

We continued on south on highway 101 to Florence. There, we found diesel for $3.12. I know that doesn't sound too great to a lot of you. But along the coast, diesel and gas are very expensive. This was the cheapest we have found since we left Washington.

We arrived at South Jetty Thousand Trails park in the early afternoon and found a nice quiet site. We have cell phone signals and internet. Yaaaaay! But, the clouds moved in and it started to rain before Doug got the tv satellite set up. So.....maybe tomorrow.

Thanks to all who have checked out the ads on the blog. The little bit of revenue helps move us a little farther down the road.