We wont be able to update the Blog with our activities until early the week of December 1st as we have been out and about so much this past week enjoying the beautiful weather. That means no time to sit and Blog as there is too much else to do. (And today, our Wifi connection is too slow to download anything big and tomorrow we go off the grid til Monday)
Stay tuned and check back next week to find out about our wonderful time in wine country and in Yosemite National Park this coming weekend.
Saturday morning we headed out with the plan to head further south to warmer weather and hopefully drier. I’ll report right now that we did find both.
However………our route for the day was anything but straight and quick. California Hwy 1 – the coast road started just 7 miles south of our park so we decided to take it even though we were inland a bit. Well, after 1 ½ hours, 300 billion turns and switchbacks and 25 miles, we reached the coast. The road surface was good but roads were narrow as we wound up and down through many valleys of trees. The plan was to go down the coast through Ft. Bragg and then head east again to pickup 101 and go south again. We arrived in Ft. Bragg around 12:45 which was 46 miles from our last park after close to 3 hours of driving. Kathy had this shift, so at least she was happier with the wheel in her hand. Time was running short based on our destination for today, so we gassed up and headed east from Ft. Bragg. For those that don’t know it, this city is home to the US Military Airborne and Special Op’s and it is one of the largest installations in the world with 251 sq miles and 55, 000 military servicemen. They are good at hiding, as we didn’t see one hint of any, but at that point we just wanted to keep going. In all this, we did confirm that the California ocean is bluer than the Oregon ocean!
Thankfully the day was sunny and warmer and we finished the day winding through a 20 mile stretch of vineyards arriving in Napa Valley at a town called Calistoga around 4:30. I was actually able to even BBQ for dinner.
We’ll stay in Calistoga at the fairgrounds for 3 nights. It’s a nice spot and only 2 blocks from the bustling little main street in this town of around 5,000, so walking and biking around will be great.
I hear the weather is warming back home and melting all the snow. Enjoy the weekend!
We left Gold Beach OR Wednesday morning for a planned short driving day leaving around 10am. Today’s destination was Eureka CA about 80 mile (150 km) south along the coast. Rain and drizzle had set in again so we just kept our thoughts toward California sunshine. Hmmm.
After a stop for supplies in Brookings and lunch at Carl Jrs. in Arcata, we made it to our next stop at the Eureka fairgrounds around 2:30. We had planned to bike to downtown Eureka on Thursday to check it out, but the rain continued, so plans changed so we ended up doing Kathy’s hair. No pictures this time as it was the same beautiful result. Thursday provided lots of time for planning the next 10 days or so, which we did and it is now set.
Friday we woke to a light drizzle and around 60 deg, so our plan was to drive to downtown Eureka and check it out before leaving which we did. Another ocean port with several large fishing vessels at the harbor. Their downtown has a lot of old and interesting architecture. One notable was the Carson Mansion. http://ingomar.org/index.html
Carson was actually born in New Brunswick and moved to northern California and began a lumber business and later became the area’s biggest lumber and gold baron. Carson City Nevada was named after him during the gold rush era.
It is now owned by a private club so it’s not open to the public, but if you like opulent home design and finishings, check out the above link. It is described as one of the most photographed homes in the US and possibly the world. Across from it is the “Pink Lady” built by Carson for his son as a wedding gift. It’s for sale, but we don’t know for how much. Some pic’s below.
We left Eureka heading for Ferndale CA, which was touted as a quaint little town from the Victorian era that has stood still for almost 150 years. We wondered around it for an hour or so checking out the shops then went to the Victorian Inn for a nice lunch. It certainly was a nice town with a lot of beautiful buildings. Their other claim to fame is that this is the hometown of Guy Fieri from the Food Network TV show Diner’s, Drive-ins and Dives. He was here in May checking out some of the local eateries. We know this as we went into one and bought a nice big “sticky buns” for something sweet later in the day. It was good!
We left Ferndale and headed down the road a few miles and arrived at the the Avenue of the Giants. This is a 31 mile scenic byway that runs somewhat parallel to Hwy 101 and lays claim to the “best forest drive in the world”. It is a tour through groves and groves of Giant Sequoia and Redwoods 250’ + in height and wide enough in some cases that you can drive a car through a carved out area in the tree. We didn’t stop for these tourist traps and were sure there wasn’t any large enough for the RV anyway. So yes, I took a few pictures of trees, but it was a drizzly day so no hiking today. Besides, a couple of days earlier a couple had toured through another scenic byway, we think the same day as us and their car was broken into and they arrived back to the sound of gun shots and found the passenger window smashed and a purse stolen. It was on the local news. So we are cautious of these areas that are remote.
When in Eureka earlier in the day I overhead a few locals talking about the weather and said that it was going to rain 2-3 inches later that day. They were correct as once arriving to our site for the night, it rained hard all night. No cable at the park and the wi-fi was poor so we watched a few episodes of Breaking Bad and turned in early.
Looking at the forecast, instead of heading down the coast on Monday morning we moved that up to Wednesday, spending 5 nights at Turtle Rock-Gold Beach, OR.
Last Sunday, I had one main goal, a lazy morning then over to The Hunter Creek Tavern (across from the entrance to our park) to watch the final Nascar race of the season. It started at 3:15pm EST, so we were over there for noon and they obliged us by putting on the biggest TV they had, and we had a front row seat! Chatted with some of the locals during the race, had some nacho’s and cold ones during the race. With the race over local time at around 3:30pm, we headed back and got Jazz and headed off to the beach to watch the sunset. All this when the snow was blowing and accumulating back in our home area incl. the Buffalo area – wow! The last few days here have been around 18 C. Enough said on that.
Monday morning we washed the outside of the RV, then in the afternoon we took some lawn chairs to the beach to soak up the sun and continue researching the next few weeks travels. Tuesday was spent cleaning inside the RV including windows and tracks that really needed it. Oh yeah, 4 loads of laundry – still haven’t found that fairy!
We are currently staying on our new perch at Turtle Rock RV Resort in Gold Beach Oregon. The park was a top rated Good Sam’s (RV travel club) for 2014 as a Top Waterfront Park. There are several awarded this distinction each year throughout North America. As you can see from the aptly named picture above, the park is literally a few steps from the rugged and interesting beach with all the driftwood and various stones that people beach comb for. It has around 100 sites, with full-time cottages on some of them. It’s a clean park with a friendly family running it.
Today (Saturday), we woke to a few drops on the roof, but later in the morning our lost friend, the Sun, shone brightly. It was a laid back morning after sleeping in until 9 which is unusual for us. After an early lunch, we put on our sneakers and with Jazz, headed into town which turned out to be an approx. 8 km round trip walk. Temperature was warm (around 16-17 C) and the sun shone brightly. What a luxury when we hear about the weather conditions elsewhere in North America and the cold and snow at or near home. We’ll take it!!!
As we walked into town, we went towards the visitor’s centre we stopped at on Friday and headed towards the beach to walk to town. I noticed a couple that we had seen on Tuesday as we headed towards Coos Bay and went over to talk with them. I enquired about their adventure and they said they set out in May leaving Massachusetts heading into Canada at Niagara Falls then south to Cleveland and Nashville, then north to Calgary/Banff/Jasper and over to Vancouver Is. Now they are heading down the coast and will end up in South America before heading back to their native Australia. If you hadn’t guessed yet, they are on bicycles! We saw them cycling up a hill in the rain and just commented how can people do this. Obviously, they can. It’s exhausting to think about it. We bided them safe travels and headed onto town. In Gold Beach on a Saturday, most of the stores were closed and the only excitement was the high school football game. I think most of the town was in attendance. We grabbed a coffee and headed back getting back around 4. Jazz decided to stay in the RV, as we grabbed a couple of soda’s in our knapsack and headed to the beach to watch the sunset. That was enjoyable. Once the sun set, things cooled off so back to camp for some bruschetta and a game of scrabble while the St. Louis style ribs baked in the oven. Yum, yum.
Friday was a short driving day from Coos Bay to Gold Beach. On the way we stopped in Port Orford and learned that it is a “dolly port” – As you can see in the picture below, there is no natural harbor, so the fishing boats are put in and taken out EVERY day! Quite an undertaking, but the fisherman must band together as a co-op to make this work. There are only 2 of these in the US and a total of 6 in the world. A stop for propane and another for some groceries, we arrived here around 3 after leaving around 11:15 from Coos. The rain seemed to be chasing us as we headed south but we eventually won the race arriving to warm and somewhat overcast sky’s. Our meal plans for the night went back into the fridge as we arrived at camp and noticed the Hunter Creek Tavern right across the street – coincidence? Maybe…. Anyway, their sign said Happy Hour at 4:30 and Friday night special was Rib Eye steak dinner for $13.75! Sold! What a great little spot right beside the creek serving up micro brewed beer from next door and the other US high volume suds. It’s confirmed as the place to watch the final Nascar race of the season on Sunday afternoon.
Thursday was a rain day as was the latter half of Wednesday when we stayed at the Casino in Coos Bay. Thursday morning was research day and when we found the Turtle Rock resort. We had to use the park office to call and reserve another park which was a bit awkward as the phone plan we have with T-Mobile has been useless in Oregon. Thursday afternoon we took the Casino shuttle (that will take you anywhere in town) to the Pony Village Mall and found a few bargains. (yes Linda, we’ll have to purge some clothes when we get home!) Earlier we had decided to “invest” $20 each at the casino, so we headed off to do this and in less than ½ hr we were in the outdoor hot tub $40 lighter. If they had 500 slot machines, 475 of them were penny machines. I guess so you can’t lose too much, eh. But at $2.50 a crack (if you want) you can go through a pile of money quickly. Kathy and I don’t get gambling and this was out fix for the next couple of years.
Wednesday’s weather, after arriving on Veteran’s Day (Tuesday) was pleasant enough for us to venture in to town probably around 5-6 km round trip. We checked out a coffee shop and then after a little more walking around, found a small fish house right at the docks for lunch. We had a cup of their clam chowder and their half and half special for the day – ½ fish and chips and a half order of deep fried clams or deep fried oysters. We were stuffed to walk home, but it helped to wear off some of this meal. Dinner was a lighter meal that night as the rain came down.
We spent our last full day in Washington doing a bit more touring of the local area. We drove the RV to Cape Disappointment State Park (about a 5 minute drive from our campground) We had originally planned to bike there but due to the previous weeks rainfall, the bike path was actually washed out so we couldn’t get there that way. Just as well as the hike we ended up going on was strenuous enough and it would have been a killer to have to bike back to the campground afterwards. Cape Disappointment is one of Washington state’s most famous and popular parks. It boasts a premier campground, 3 beautiful beaches, public artworks, 2 lighthouses, an interpretive centre and miles of hiking trails. We first walked to Waikiki Beach – named in memory of a Sailor who was from Hawaii (known as The Sandwich Islands back in the days of The Lewis and Clark Expedition) who drowned on the expedition. This beach is one of the locals’ favorite spots for storm watching because the waves crash on the cape here with the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse in the background. From there we took the Discovery Trail up to the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse which was a 1.2 mile hike one way over some fairly rough hilly terrain. It was a beautiful view from there. We could see the Jetty’s that had been built to control the mouth of the mighty Columbia River because with all of the tidal action, there is a tendency to fill the mouth in making it impassable for oceangoing ships.
Once we returned to the RV we had our lunch and then headed north up the Peninsula from Seaview to check out what was there. In Ocean Park we stopped at Jack’s Country Store. We had been told Jack’s was a must see as it was a huge store covering a full block and was supposed to contain all kinds of unique items. It was somewhat of a disappointment as it was just a hodge podge of stuff with a grocery store included. From there we drove to Oysterville which was right on Willapa Bay which is famous for its Oysters. We ended our day by stopping at the Seaview Laundromat where we caught up on our laundry and did our grocery shopping at the local IGA while the laundry was going.
Tuesday morning we packed up and headed south on Hwy 101 out of Washington and into Oregon. It was a very windy day and shortly after entering Oregon we had to cross a huge bridge in Astoria with very high wind gusts. Rob did a great job driving across the bridge and keeping the RV from blowing around too much. I was thankful that it wasn’t my turn to drive that day as it reminded me of the bridge I had driven across in rain and high winds back in Tacoma.
Once we got safely across the bridge we saw beautiful scenery as we drove through Seaside, Cannon Beach, Rockaway Beach, Tillamook, Newport , Florence, and the Oregon Dunes. Just north of Florence we stopped off at a lookout point and as I exited from the RV I smelt a familiar smell and immediately remembered being at Fisherman’s Wharf years ago in San Francisco. Sure enough, upon looking over the cliff down to the water, there were at least 200 barking Sea Lions sunbathing below on the rocks and swimming in the rough ocean. If you have ever smelled sea lions, it is a smell you will never forget. It was fun watching them frolic in the waves and on the rocks. Also where we stopped was a great view of the Heceta Head Lighthouse which has the strongest beam of light on the Oregon coast.
Just past Florence, the Oregon Dunes begin and go for about 48 miles along the coast. The sand dunes along the Highway were huge. I said to Rob that it was a good thing we had not planned to camp in that stretch of the coast since I am not a sand lover as many of you know. Shortly after the dunes ended, we arrived at our destination – The Mill Casino Hotel and RV Park on Coos Bay in Oregon.
Well, they did have some more live music on Saturday night. Kathy and I went out for dinner at the Lost Roo and arrived back to hear the final song around 8:45 and it’s good we missed the earlier songs, as they were playing some grunge metal that sounded like Deep Purple. Speaking with the neighbor yesterday, he said another band came on after we left, but said the first one was better. Oh well.
Yesterday was a quiet day with some researching in the morning and Jazz getting combed. The 2nd last Nascar race of the season was on starting at 12:15, so that was my order of business for the next 3 hrs since I haven’t watched a race in a couple of months. The Lamplighter right next door, here I come. Kathy joined me a bit later.
With the race over by 3:30 we took Jazz down to the beach for a walk, but once down there it didn’t last very long as the wind was really whipping.
Back home for a game of Rummicube and a steak BBQ and an early evening.
Wednesday was travel day with about 150 miles (240 km’s to go), but it proved to be a slow drive for a few reasons. We went to Gig Harbour to take a short walk and get a few pic’s, but that was short lived when after about 10 minutes it began to rain and hard. We were a bit damp getting back to the RV, so about noon we left town heading toward the seaside.
After the heavy rains, traffic volume increased as we headed south towards Tacoma and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. This suspension bridge that spans over 1 mile was constructed back in 1940 and 4 months later with high winds it began to “gallop” and after 3 hours it collapsed. Now it is known as Galloping Girdie. As we approached the bridge the rain picked up and we ended up missing the toll plaza. The electronic sign read “Very high side winds” as we approached and they weren’t kidding. Kathy was driving and she very scared even though we were only going 15-20 km/hr. Winds lessened once we were off the bridge, then we encountered a couple of army convoys on the main freeway, keeping traffic slow again. Finally as we got around 30 miles from the sea, roads became very windy, (not hilly though) as we had to snake our way through bogs and sloughs. We finally arrived in Seaview around 4 pm at the visitor information office and learned that this area is all about tourism, oysters and cranberries. The whole peninsula is definitely a summer mecca. She informed me that one in four oysters eaten in the world are from Willapa Bay and there are many cranberry operations in the area as well. Something additionally was happening right now in the area – clam digging. The season is open until Tuesday Nov 11th. She asked if I wanted to borrow a “clam gun”. A what, I said? A white plastic plumbing tube with a handle you stick in the ground to dig out clams. I declined but said we would check it out later with the locals as it was done near low tide and the evening tide – so basically “fishing in the dark”.
We finally arrived at the Sou’Wester Lodge in Seaview. Some of the pictures you will see only partially explain the “park” we are staying in for 5 nights. It’s not an RV’er’s haven by any means, but the whole arrangement is quite quirky. The place rents out vintage RV’s from the 40-60’s, has 4-5 cabins (old shacks) dating back 100 years and this gigantic old house that probably dates that far back as well. The resort is run by a lady and there seems to be a following of people likely staying here that help out around the house and yards. Possibly a hippy compound or today’s term might be “free spirited souls”! It is very nice in a unique way. They run a store in the old house with quite a little selection on the honour system! Most Saturday nights they have local artists perform in the great room in the big house which holds about 25 people. On Thursday night, when we arrived they were actually having a performance that night as well which was a couple in their 30’s playing acoustic guitars and singing songs from Hank Snow, Hank Williams, Ernest Tub and a number of other artists….for 1 ½ hours. They were very good! Kathy and I had front row seats as at the beginning the audience was us and 3 other people. It filled up a little later on to around 25-30 people. No charge. Hardly wait to see what Saturday brings! One of the other items of note is in the great room, there is a record player and probably 3-400 albums you can go in and play. http://www.souwesterlodge.com/vintage-travel-trailers/
Seaview is on the Long Beach peninsula which claims to be the World Longest “driveable” beach at 28 miles or close to 45 km’s. It does get challenged for this on the internet, but just the same it’s is one massively wide and long beach. The biggest we have ever seen. Besides the beach, they have a paved bike and walking trail that winds its way through the beach grass for a 15 km stretch which is excellent.
Friday morning brought an abundance of sunshine and I kept saying to Kathy, I don’t care what we do today, but I just want to stay outside. On Friday morning we headed out with Jazz for a long walk into Long Beach which is only about ¾ mile away. After a coffee, a trip to the Long Beach bakery called “Cottage bakery and deli”, we walked the ½ mile board walk getting back home around 2. OK, Jazz has had her exercise, but we’re not done. On to the bikes we go to explore part of this paved bike trail and biking on the beach as well. After another hour we were back home then decided to check out the nearest happy hour spot – The Lamplighter. We spent an hour or so there speaking to a couple of the locals and one was giving us some “tourist” tips for the area and also for S. California around Palm Springs were we will be in about 5 weeks. Later in the evening, in the dark, we headed down to the beach to check out the clam digging, but there wasn’t much going on as we watched some locals for 10 minutes, then it was getting much colder out, so back home we went. It’s about a 5 minute walk to the beach. Needless to say, we didn’t see anyone find a clam (each person has a 15 razor clam limit and they must buy a license). Maybe in warmer weather this might be fun, but I don’t even like fishing in warmer weather!
Saturday, we woke feeling a few sore muscles from the exercise from the day before. Bright sunshine met us again. After a slower lazy start, we hoped on the bikes again just after 11 am to head to the other side of Long Beach about 2-3 miles north to the Cranberry museum. It was interesting, but how excited can you get about a berry. On the way back we checked out a few shops (full of tacky tourist crap), had lunch (fish burger for Kathy and I had an oyster burger – deep fried Willapa oysters). We toured back on the paved beach trail described earlier (The Discovery Trail) getting home around 3. Have to rest up for tonight’s performance in the great room. Tonight it’s Old Light & Strawberry Fog.
On Tuesday we arrived in Port Angeles WA shortly after noon aboard the MV Coho. This ship was much smaller than the BC ferry we took earlier holding around 100 vehicles. It was a smooth trip and Jazz was allowed to come into the lounge, so she enjoyed being able to be with us vs. staying in the RV.
We headed about 100 miles south to our next destination I had read about – Gig Harbour. They call themselves “The Maritime City”. It is located about 25 miles SW of Seattle, just north of Tacoma and there is definitely some money in the area. We set up camp around 3:30 and walked into town about 1.5 km to check it out. Weather was dry at that point, so that was a nice change. We had our lunch on the ship at 11:30am so that was real early for us, so we were in search of the Tide Tavern a recommended place to eat and have happy hour. Luckily we arrived there at 5 pm as shortly after the place became quite busy with locals. Food and drinks were great. We went back home by around 7 and shortly after our favourite song began to play….rain!
The next morning was somewhat clear and I had located an Albertson’s grocery store about ½ to 1 km north of us. Using google maps I was able to find an alternative route for us to take vs. the highway. This was our first grocery expedition using bikes and knapsacks. We loaded them full and as we headed outside, it was just teeming out so a coffee at the in store Starbucks was in order. Once the weather cleared we made it back to camp safely and restocked the fridge for a few more days. Then our song played again. So it was an indoor day for researching and watching some TV/movies. We decided we needed to head out the next day – south and in the pursuit of a longer stay location. We found The Sou’Wester Lodge in Seaview, WA.
Coast, here we come again. If you haven’t realized it yet, we both have a strong propensity to be near water.
On Sunday, we caught a local Victoria bus and took it into downtown and to the waterfront. As usual it drizzled rain the entire time we were out sightseeing. Victoria is much smaller than Vancouver and we liked it better. It didn’t have a big city feel to it at all. We checked out the Empress Hotel. Rob wouldn’t go for High Tea so we just observed it for a bit. We saw the Parliament Building where there was a memorial set up for the 2 recent fallen soldiers. We also went to Fisherman’s Wharf. It is a quaint little community of multi coloured floating houses and a few restaurants. It was pretty neat actually. Nothing like other “Fisherman’s Wharf’s we have seen before. We were amazed at how big some of the houses there were and many were nicely yet uniquely decorated.
On Monday, we left our RV campground and headed to Butchart Gardens, just north of Victoria. We spent a couple of hours wandering through their beautiful property. It was the best time of year to see the Japanese Gardens. The colours were amazing as you will see from the attached photos. Throughout all of the Gardens there are many different water feature areas and the entire property is extremely well kept. We could see an obvious difference between Butchart which is a privately owned Garden and the Royal Botanical Gardens which we are members of at home. RBG depends on donations and is a non profit organization whereas the Butchart Gardens are owned by the Butchart family. It has been open for over 100 years always owned by the Family. When it first opened it was a labour of love for a husband and wife back in the early 1900’s. It is classified as a National Historic Site of Canada and is in a league of it’s own when it comes to Gardens.
After leaving the Gardens, we drove further north on the Island and explored Saanich Peninsula which included the town of Sidney. From what we saw, Sidney would be a lovely place to live and we learned that Sidney has the best year round weather in the entire province of BC. So, if that means less rain than everywhere else in BC, then that would be the place we would go if we were ever to move west. Of course, it was raining quite hard as we drove through Sidney, so we‘re not sure we believe what they say about their weather.
Speaking of weather, we just realized that is has rained every day where we have been since October 20th until yesterday when we finally had a dry day.
On Monday night we had planned to Boondock at Walmart in Victoria as we had to be on the road early to get to the Ferry Terminal by 9 am to take the Ferry to Washingon, U.S. Our GPS took us to the Walmart but unfortunately it was in a very compact area of box stores and only had covered parking which our Motorhome would not fit in. So, we had to quickly search other parking options as we had no campground to go to and there was no other Walmart nearby. We ended up discovering that the City of Victoria allows 24 hour parking on some of its city streets downtown and we were able to just park on the side of Menzies Street which was right beside the Parliament Building and only 1 block from the Ferry Terminal. We had a beautiful view of the Parliament Building which was brightly lit with white Christmas lights and also had a great view of the Empress Hotel which also was all lit up.
Tuesday morning, we pulled into the Ferry Terminal about 8:30 am and waited for the U.S. Custom and Border officials to drop by. It was an extremely easy process. All they asked us was if we had any fruit, vegetables or meat onboard the RV. We said “no”. They asked where we were going and for how long. And that was it! We were in the U.S. Easy Peasy!! No questions about Jazz or her food or anything.
The Ferry ride was 1 hour and 40 minutes long. Jazz was able to come up into the Passenger lounge with us for the trip. There were actually quite a few dogs on the trip and all were well behaved.
We arrived in Port Angeles, Washington between noon and 12:30 pm and from there we headed toward Gig Harbour, Washington where we plan to spend 2 or 3 nights. On the way, we stopped off at Best Buy to get a US Sim card for our Cell phone. Our Canadian phone number has now been disconnected so if you would like to communicate with us, please do so either by email, Skype or Facetime going forward or of course we always appreciate your comments on the Blog.