Friday, January 29, 2016

California - 2nd stop


The last day of 2015 was moving day for us. December 31, 2015 was also our 10 month road trip anniversary. We traveled to Dunnigan which is north of Sacramento. The trip was short and uneventful, just what we like. We traveled through the mountains, mostly in between ridges and not over them.

As we got farther east we started seeing more evidence of the drought with dry creek beds and very low rivers. 

We also passed acres and acres of trees, hard to tell at this time of the year what they are, but the area is known for its crops of fruit and nuts.  

We stayed at the Happy Times RV Park. It is just off of Hwy 5 but very little road noise. The sites are nice and wide with a picnic table and full hook ups. 

There is a large field for dog walking and a Pilot Gas station across the street for easy and quick propane gas fill up. Dunnigan has a small general store and a motel, so for any shopping you need to go south to Woodland or Sacramento. 
Our dear friends Jan and Dave Leap live in Sacramento which is what brought us here. Nancy and Jan worked together at the International Center for Reiki Training in Michigan. It was so great to see them and spend time with them. Nancy and Jan laugh so hard it hurts but oh such a good hurt. We got to ring in the New Year with them. 

Mielikki enjoyed the visit as well and made herself right at home.  
We didn't get as much sightseeing done as we wanted. Nancy came down with a cold and ended up at Urgent Care, the cough was so bad she pulled a muscle in her back and hurt her ribs. Laid her up for about 4 days. 

We did explore Sacramento a bit, and wandered Old Sac
A really cute little area of old buildings with shops and eateries. 

We enjoyed Danny's Mini Donuts and got to see the Tower Bridge. 

We found a few roadside oddities. First, a giant woman's head outside of a coffee shop.

Then, a very creative home owner has the best lending library we have ever seen. It looks looks like a Tardis from Dr. Who! 

The convention center was hosting an Anime convention and the streets were full of people in costumes, it was awesome. 

We found this phone
booth shaped like a pagoda. 

The governors mansion is absolutely beautiful. 

Auburn, is a small town east of Sacramento, we wished we had more time to spend there. Lots of stores, restaurants, and pubs. We found a roadside oddity honoring the Gold Rush. 

Folsom Lake was a shocker and a true example of how severe the drought is here. 

The lake is so devastatingly low and you can tell it has been for quite some time. At one time the water came all the way to the tree line.

On the way to the lake we saw this guy airing out his wings! 
This area is called the central valley as it is surround by mountains on both sides, making this a perfect place for farm lands. Not only did we see thousands and thousands of trees, we also saw rice farms. There are acres of laser-leveled fields, level fields allow the farmer to save on water. The fields are full of furrows and are flooded with 5" of water, the rice seeds are soaked and then loaded into planes. Flying at 100 mph the planes plant the fields from the air, the heavy seeds sink into the furrows and grow.  

San Francisco was top on our list of things to do from this stop. We used two days to explore the town. The first day we came in from the north and San Rafael and across the Golden Gate Bridge, and left via the Oakland Bay Bridge at rush hour - not the best timing! We found a few more roadside oddities, in San Aneslimo, the home of filmmaker, George Lucas. Yoda and Harrison Ford statues are in the center of Imagination Park, property donated to the city by George Lucas. 

The view from the first overlook
The Golden Gate Bridge was as spectacular as expected. We stopped at the overlook, two overlooks actually, we chose not to go any farther than the second one as the road signs warned of an 18% grade on the road - a little more than Nancy thought she could handle!

From the second and higher overlook you can see for miles in all directions.

Just across the bridge is the coolest roadside oddity we have found so far. It is at the end of a jetty by the marina. 

The wave organ, completed in May of 1986, is a wave-activated acoustic sculpture built by sculptor and master stone mason, George Gonzales. The jetty itself was constructed with material taken from a demolished cemetery, providing a wonderful assortment of carved granite and marble, which was used in the construction of this piece.

The sculpture includes 25 organ pipes made of PVC and concrete located at various elevations within the site, allowing for the rise and fall of the tides. Sound is created by the impact of waves against the pipe ends and the movement of the water in and out of the pipes.   

This spot also offers a beautiful view of the San Francisco skyline and of Alcatraz Island.
Of course the hippies had to drive through Haight Ashbury. It is not the same hippie kingdom it once was, but it can still be considered the odd mans territory. There are a number of eclectic shops, some head shops and retro clothing stores to explore. 

The Golden Gate Park is 1, 017 acres of nature in the heart of the city. It is filled with gardens, lakes, playgrounds, picnic areas, trails for walking and biking, a waterfall, a museum, a conservatory and so much more. The entrances at the ocean have large Dutch Windmills at them. 

There are so many amazing buildings in San Francisco. 

Beautiful details of the older buildings in contrast to the sleek architecture of the new buildings. In between are the most interesting houses, condos and apartments all on top of one another. 

Everyone has heard of the crazy hilly streets in San Francisco and we can tell you that there is no exaggeration in the description of them. 

We drove down Lombard Street, which is probably the most popular and twisted street in the city. There are eight hairpin turns in a one block section.  

The first time down we were both in the car with Nancy taking pictures from start to finish. In the first two pictures you can see how steep the streets are. The blue car in the third picture is actually parked - can't imagine living on this street. The second set of pictures was taken with Nancy waiting at the bottom while Les and Mielikki drove down the hill. 

On the second visit to the city we came in across the Oakland Bay Bridge, and headed home from San Rafeal, again in rush hour! Half way across the Oakland Bay Bridge is an exit to Treasure Island. Treasure Island is an artificial island, that was built in 1936-37 for the 1939 Golden Gate World's Fair. Most of the Island is deserted, some of the buildings that remain are listed on the National Historical Registry, including the islands naval station and auxiliary air field. 
When you drive onto the island, you are greeted to a great view of the Oakland Bridge on one side and the San Francisco skyline on the other. 

You drive down a very pretty palm tree lined street, but once you pass that there is nothing but abandoned buildings. 

Based on the major road construction of new exits and entrances it seems something may be in the works for the island. 

Pier 39 is a must stop while in the city. It is filled with places to eat and shop, along with a beautiful two story carousal in the center of it all. We had never seen a two story carousal before. 

The best part of Pier 39 is that the seals like to hang out here as well. We got to watch one climb onto the back end of a boat and a couple of young males trying to exhort their authority. 

We ended our second day by driving back into San Rafael and enjoying dinner with Shannon and Kate who used to live next door to us in Asheville. It has been so fun reconnecting with people as we travel across the country. 

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You! 

Tips and things we have learned along the way
~ Back in August we shared a tip in our Atkinson blog post, about making the best use of the small space in our freezer and defrosting it. We have another freezer tip for you. When traveling the freezer and fridge are not running, so we put a half dozen ice packs in the fridge and keep the rest in the freezer so everything stays cold. We found on long trips that the frozen items didn't always stay completely frozen, especially things like fruits or veggies.

To remedy that we picked up a small cooler at a Goodwill store. The kind that would hold a 6-pack. We put the frozen items and an ice pack in it and put it back in the freezer. Problem solved - every thing stays frozen.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

California - first stop

Grey and rainy drive

December 27, 2015 found us heading to California, and what we hoped would be some sunshine. Packing up to move was dry, right till the end and then we ended up wet again. We drove in rain until we reached southern Oregon where we started to see some sun. 
It didn't last and once again we set up in the rain. 

While driving Hwy 101 you go through a number of small towns. In Coos Bay, CA we spotted a store with the perfect name. Katrina Kathleen's. Katina is our daughters name, and Kathleen is our God-daughters name. Les went around the block so we could get a picture.

The trip was a little longer than expected as Hwy 42, that we planned to take is closed due to a mud slide, so it was a 5-hour drive, with a northern detour before heading south. We arrived at Chinook RV Resort to find that the host person was gone for the night and the majority of sites were blocked off because they were flooded. With the help of Randy, one of the permanent residents, we found a spot we could use and got set up. 
This deck has a fire pit in the center
The campground is small, there are a number of permanent trailers, most of which are not kept up very well, but it is right on the Klamath River where it runs into the ocean. We had a pretty river view and we could hear the crashing of the ocean waves. 
The town of Klamath is very small, a gas station, hotel and casino is all there is, oh and a tree you can drive through! 
Mielikki was excited to go through the tree

This is something we were looking forward to doing, and we saw an emu.

Also, on site they have a large slab of tree that really puts into perspective how big these trees are. 

Exploring Hwy 101 was the plan for this stay. First day out we headed north and actually ended up back in Oregon for a bit to see Arch Rock. 

The Klamath River Overlook gives you some great views of the ocean as well as the river, we followed the river road and got our first sighting of seals, or at least their noses.
Crashing waves, seal nose and interesting cloud, mountains in the distance. 
We could see our RV from the rivers edge.

A stop at the Klamath False Cove was a must as it is where the Wilson River meets the ocean. It is a short walk from the Yurok Lagoon parking lot to the beach. Or you can park along Hwy 101 and walk down onto the beach. Yurok Indians had a legend that the Klamath River once emptied into the ocean at this cove, hence the name. The small cove has fooled the crews of many ships, thinking it is the mouth of the Klamath River, which is actually a few miles south. 

The waters edge is lined with large rock outcroppings and the beach is full of driftwood that was warming in the sun while we were there. Oh yeah, did we mention we now have sunshine? 

Crescent City is the "big" town on this section of the coast. We found the Battery Point Lighthouse, on a small islet off shore from the town. 
Access to the islet is on an isthmus at low tide. The lighthouse construction started in 1855 at a cost of $15,000. The light was lit for the first time on December 10, 1856. The first keeper, Theophilus Magruder, had not arrived yet, so a temporary keeper kept the light going for the first ten days. In 1965 the light was turned off, until 1982, when the lighthouse was bought and is now open for tours. 

Arch Rock is just off shore from Harris State Park, just north of the Oregon/California boarder. As we walked down the path to the waters edge we were expecting an overlook to Arch Rock, boy were we wrong. 

The path is a winding trail that takes you right down to the beach across from the arch. It was spectacular. There are a number of rocks that the waves were crashing against, the roar was phenomenal. 

We climbed all over the beach, which was full of driftwood and rocks. We had so much fun. 

On our way back home, we stopped back in Crescent City to go to the Visitor's Center only to discover it is closed on Mondays. It worked out for the best though, as it is located in a beautiful park on the harbor. Across the harbor we saw another area we wanted to explore, Anchor Harbor, we are so glad we did. As we approached the end of the peninsula we saw body surfers riding the waves on the bay and another seal, or a least his nose, then we were greeted by a bagpiper. 
Standing on the cliffs edge was a young man in full kilt attire playing the bagpipes accompanied by a drummer. It was so beautiful, his music and the waves together. 

The cliff gave us some great views and the piece de resistance was another rainbow.  

The view is always better from the top

Second day we headed south from camp and found so many things to see and do, the first bridge we crossed is flanked by giant gold bears. Klamath Beach Road took us to the other side of the Klamath river opening. There is an observation deck that is also guarded by large cement bears. 

The road was barely passable due to a fallen tree, never would have gotten under it in the RV. 
As we watched the ocean we were intrigued by the different colors of the water, wondered if it is where the fresh water from the river reaches.

We are in Redwood country and there are some beautiful giants. 
The Big Tree Wayside is home to a 304-foot redwood, that is estimated to be 1500 years old. 

This grand-daddy is 21.6 feet in diameter and resides over a number of trails filled with additional redwoods, ferns, mushrooms and other plants. 
You do get peaks at the sky every now and then. 

There were a number of "nurse" trees in this forest, This large root base was the most amazing one. The roots of the new trees are growing around the base searching for the ground. 

In the midst of the beaches we found a waterfall, a short hike takes you to the Trillium Falls

With only a 10 foot drop they pack a punch, beautiful moss covered trees and rocks surround the falls. The trail is rather hilly but it keeps you entertained with mushrooms, small falls, and a log that looks like a hogs head. 
Everything is so big, this picture helps to put it in perspective, Les looks rather small standing on this bridge. 

The Big Lagoon Beach County Park was a fun stop. The lagoon lives up to its name, it has a shore length of 9 miles. Having the beach to ourselves is always great, Mielikki loves being able to run off lead. We had the ocean on one side and the bay on the other.

The Lagoon offers a great place to kayak and fish. 

Patrick's Point gives you a great view of the Big Lagoon Beach. 

Signs at Patrick's Point -
the ocean can be a
dangerous place.

Patrick's Point Drive, gets you off of Hwy 101 and takes you through a redwood forest. 

The road ends in Trinidad, a really cute little town with lots of shops and eateries. While driving through town we came across the Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse Park, the lighthouse is an exact replica of the Trinidad Head Lighthouse, which is on the headland at the end of the bay. 

The Memorial Lighthouse has the original Fresnel Lens from the real lighthouse and the large fog bell hangs from a wooden frame. The park is a memorial to those lost at sea or buried at sea. 

We had a quick one night stop in Ukiah, CA on our way from Klamath to Dunnigan, which is just north of Sacramento. We stayed at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds. A small park with full hook ups and fairly well maintained. We were surprised when the Jehovah Witnesses came knocking on our door in the morning!. 

Looking forward to spending time with Jan and Dave in Sacramento. 

Till we meet again....

Happy Trails to You! 

Tips and things we have learned along the way.
Outside awnings - Your awning offers shade on sunny days, and protection on rainy days but there are a few things to keep in mind to help it last longer.
~ If you are in an area prone to wind, don't leave it up while you are gone, they have been known to get blown around and ripped in wind gusts.
~ When the awning is out be careful when opening and closing your door, it seems the previous owners got the door caught more than once. A little duck tape works wonders. We would have used white but....
~ When you have been in lot of rain it is best to open it and let it dry out when possible to avoid mold. We use a long handle scrub brush and mild soap to clean it. Not every campground lets you wash your vehicle so make sure you check. 
~ When the awning is up there is no way to lock the door in the open position as the braces stop the door from opening all the way. Our solution to the door being blown shut is to use a Velcro strap and attach it to the brace.