Day 31: One Last Leg of the Trip

We can’t believe it, but we are actually heading home!  Where did the time go? How can a month have already passed?  With only a a couple hundred miles separating us and home, it feels like the drive takes forever…well at least it did for Greg!   Poor guy had to drive solo, over the Grapevine no less, as a blanket of sleepiness fell upon me practically as soon as we pulled out of the RV park.  It seemed like only a few minutes, but Greg tells me I slept for a couple of hours! Lucky me, I missed the whole dreadful drive on the Grapevine.

The view has drastically changed!

Greg and I have a favorite restaurant in El Segundo…It’s Salt Creek Grille. It is right by LAX and our special place we would stop when driving to pick up Michael at the airport, or go after we dropped him off in an attempt to cheer ourselves up.  We hosted Sarah’s college graduation dinner there, and it’s the place where I meet my high school friend Teri for lunch, since it is half way between us.  Best of all, our friends Sue and Tim McCune are the owners and we love supporting our friends.  So, where did we stop for lunch on our way home?  You guessed it! Salt Creek Grille!  Recharged, we forge ahead for our last hour before we’re home.

Just as we arrive it starts to pour!  Are we ever glad that our drive is done and we are home! It feels really good to be home, but honestly we are sad that the trip is over.  What an epic experience!  We’re just going to have to plan another one!

We made it!!

Day 30: Passing on to Paso Robles

We changed our plans a bit today…we originally thought we would would spend one more day and night in Yosemite, but the activities we wanted to do were crossed off our list when we learned of the very low, and, in some cases, nonexistent bodies of water currently in Yosemite.  (Remember yesterday when we rode our bikes to see Mirror Lake, only to find a lakebed of dirt, with absolutely no water?)  For example, we wanted to do a water rafting trip, but what’s the fun when there’s no rapids?? :/ Besides, we’re starting to feel “home sweet home” beckoning us!  I mean after all, it HAS been a month!  So we head on to our next stop, Paso Robles.

The drive between Yosemite and Paso Robles was dry, dry, dry, as I’m sure you can imagine.  Seeing the herds of cows on the side of the highway, grazing on dried grass and dirt…so sad to see. How are they surviving?  Obviously ranchers and farmers trying to work the land are among those hardest hit by the drought…Oh how we all pray for rain!

As we get closer to Paso Robles, things start to look a bit greener, which is such a welcome sight.  Thankfully, our RV park for the night, Wine Country RV, is able to accommodate us a day early.

We’re delighted to see it’s a nice campground, with friendly office staff who gave us great recommendation for local restaurants in town. Were we ever glad!  At 4:00 pm, this was our first and only meal for the day (coming full circle, we’re back to the RV Starvation Diet.)

We find a good parking place in the shade, so the doggies can stay cool with the generator on (it’s in the 90’s) and head over to a cute place next to the Paso Robles town square called Artisan.  We have a small bite to eat there, thinking we’ll sample a few different restaurants in the immediate area.  Suddenly, a blanket of sleepiness falls upon us, so when we go back to the RV to “water” the dogs, we find ourselves taking a nap in the cool RV.  This is proof that the Champ and I are getting to the end of our trip…napping in the middle of the day!! We like the Artisan restaurant so much, we go back for a second round of ‘eats’…yummy the second time too!

After our feast of abalone, rabbit stroganoff and goat cheese fondue, we squeeze in one more treat for the day.  The local theatre is showing “War Room” (starring Priscilla Shirer, a bible teacher whose video series I really appreciate.)  We highly recommend this flick!! It is a must see!!

With full hearts and happy tummies, we went back to the campground, for our very last night sleeping in the RV!!

Day 29: Riding Through Yosemite!

With a full day ahead of us, we venture out to explore Yosemite.  We drove to the the Big Oak Flat Entrance and met a super nice ranger that  told us, upon looking at Greg’s ID, that because he is 62, he can pay $10 for a lifetime free pass into any National Park!  Darn!  Wish we would have known that at the beginning of our trip, instead of paying entrance fees at the several parks we visited prior to today.  Oh well!  Now we know!  I’m sticking with this guy for all future freebies!

Once inside the park, we are excited to catch a glimpse of the famous Half Dome.  Unfortunately, due to the Rough Wildfires, which are still burning, having scorched 97,000 acres so far, the air is very smoky and visibility is very bad.

The lower we get into the valley, the more the smoke clears, giving us a much better view of the splendor of Yosemite Valley!

We’ve always heard of the Ahwahnee Hotel, so we knew this was a “must see” place!  Did you know that it opened in 1927?  Did you know that it was created at the order of America’s first director of the National Park Service Stephen P. Mather, to attract people of influence and power?  Did you know that Steve Jobs (Apple) was married there? (Haha! We just finished listening to his unabridged biography audio book…took us about a week to hear the whole recording!) Well it was time for lunch and to see this beautiful landmark.  So we parked our car, jumped on our bikes and rode on over!

After a yummy lunch, we had a most delightful treat!  We actually had enough of a signal to be able to FaceTime with Mike and Val…wow!  Have we ever missed them!


Then, we found our way to the Visitor Center…which is a stop we have come to love whenever we visited the national parks during this trip.  We love watching the documentary films about each park and, I confess, I always catch a little nap in the dark, comfy movie theatres! At the advice of the park ranger, we take a bike ride on a beautiful paved trail to MIrror Lake, where we will be able to get a better view of half dome.  The ride was wonderful, and safer than the one in Napa (no cars whizzing past us!)  Sadly, there was no water in MIrror Lake, but we had to pose anyway, just to show we made it!

The highlight of the bike ride was the beautiful deer that was completely unafraid of crossing the road, only a few feet from us!

You’ve probably noticed that I am running out of words….I guess that’s to be expected, given that we are nearing the end of our trip.  Tomorrow is our last stop in Paso Robles.  Stay tuned for one more day of adventures, and my thoughts as we return home!  Good night!

Day 28: We Left Our Hearts in San Francisco…On to Yosemite!

We left our campground in Marin and, yep, I left my heart in San Francisco! I’ve never been good at goodbyes, but today was especially hard to leave Sarah.  I am so happy we were able to see her, but I did not want to leave.

Nevertheless, we forged ahead to Yosemite.  Greg’s never been to Yosemite, and the last time I was here, I was a pre-schooler, so we weren’t quite sure what to expect.  Yosemite is so iconic. What were we about to see??

First off, we didn’t realize how far off the beaten path is Yosemite.  It was no short drive from Marin to our campground.  Our next dilemma was that there was almost no satellite signal, which denied us the security of following GPS.  Lastly, it is so so very dry in the mountains surrounding Yosemite.  We drove through miles and miles of scorched trees and land.  Very sad that this is the same scenario we’ve seen throughout our trip.

We’ve been talking about a trip to Yosemite since we were married 28 years ago. Too bad, we didn’t get here until now, because since the big fire 2 years ago, the face of Yosemite is distinctly different.  While there are areas inside the park that are untouched by fire and therefore still green, the drought has dried up all waterfalls and lakes.  We wish we could have seen it in its heyday.

A prettier, unburned view from the roadside, as got closer to our campground
A prettier, unburned view from the roadside, as got closer to our campground

When we were nearing the end of our drive for the day, almost to our campground, we saw a lady standing right next to a huge buck, laying on the side of the road.  Clearly someone had hit this regal creature, as he had blood streaming from his mouth.  It was unclear if she was the one who hit him, or if she was trying to help him, but she was so close to him that if he mustered one last bit of strength, she would be history (deer can inflict mortal injuries on unsuspecting tourists by their hoofs or antlers, especially if they are in distress).  With cars behind us, pressing us to keep going, we were not able to stop and help.  We said a prayer that God would take him quickly and put him out of his misery.  So sad.

With no GPS, we were so grateful we were able to find our campground, Yosemite Lakes, which was pretty nice (although there was no wifi nor satellite signal at all, unless we walked over to the campground lodge.) We tried to grab a bite to eat at Evergreen Lodge, at the recommendation of the RV Park office clerk.  Unfortunately, the Evergreen  didn’t serve dunch/linner.  So we were out of luck to grab anything more than snacks from the General Store.  We returned to our campground and there was a fun and festive live country music band playing at the outdoor pavilion. 

Lots of families were enjoying the music and s’mores by the campfire…made me wish we had camped with the kids when they were little, but alas we chose house boating as our regular summer activity, and that choice yielded amazing and lasting family memories, so it all worked out for the best.

We turned in early, with excited anticipation to explore Yosemite tomorrow.

Bed is turned down. ready for us to hop in and get rested up for tomorrow :)
Bed is turned down. ready for us to hop in and get rested up for tomorrow 🙂

Day 27: San Francisco by Segway!

After much deliberation and planning, we have a day mapped out for today that combines all the things we love most, exploring new places, trying new things, but, best of all, uninterrupted time together.  Here’s the game plan…Sarah’s never explored Angel Island, and, obviously, nor had we. So, we planned to meet at the ferry in Tiburon, have a little breakfast and then take the 10:00 am Ferry to Angel Island.  

Now here’s the clincher…Greg suggested we take a guided SEGWAY tour around Angel Island!

Now I don’t know about you, but when I think of SEGWAYs, the picture that comes to mind is one of a mall cop patrolling the Shops at Mission Viejo.   I just don’t understand how one can possibly balance on that 2-wheeled space machine, so I really have no confidence that I could ride one, even if I wanted to!!  Sarah feels the same way I do.  But we agree to “suck it up” and GO FOR IT!! After all, Greg has been nice enough to reserve/pay for a trip on these beauts, the least Sarah and I can do is to be open to the possibility of fun.

Well let me tell you….I could NOT have been MORE WRONG.  These SEGWAYS were a blast!

We had a fantastic time and wished the trip was longer!  Way to go Greg!! The Champ was 100% right!!  Check us out!

After our wonderful morning/afternoon, we found our way to the Tiburon Tavern where we could enjoy a bite to eat and the second half of the Bruin game…Go Bruins!  It’s nice to have our first win of the season under our belt!

After our day of adventure, Sarah returns with us to the RV Park in Marin…We can’t wait to show her where we’ve been living for the last month!!

Home sweet mobile home!!

As you can imagine, the end of the day came way too quickly and I am so very sad to say goodbye to our Sarah 😦  We love you Sar Bear! We’re counting the days until we see you again…(Maybe Santa will bring you a Segway for Christmas, hee hee!)

Day 26: San Francisco to See Our Sarah!

We’ve been so looking forward to this next leg of our trip!  We get to see our Sarah, who’s living and working in San Francisco.  So, while I COULD expend energy telling you the details leading up to our arrival in San Francisco, I’ll jump to the highlight…We GET TO SEE OUR DAUGHTER!! I felt like a kid who can’t wait for Christmas morning to come…hurry up clock!  Fast forward to the time she’s off work and we get to see her!!

Since our RV is parked outside the city, we have to catch the Larkspur Ferry into the city and then we decide to walk from the SF Ferry Terminal to her apartment, which according to our calculations, should only be about 30 minutes.  HOWEVER, the GPS map fails to mention that a good portion of that walk will be straight UPHILL!! Thankfully, we had the good sense to wear our tennies, so at least we had that going for us.  (I do not know how she walks/runs these streets every day…She is a better woman than I…this walk just about kills me!)

We finally made to her new apartment, which we have not seen since she moved in last month. While the apartment and her roommates were darling, the real treat was seeing our beautiful Sarah!!

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Beautiful Sarah runs out to meet us…First things first, CONGRATULATIONS WORLD CHAMPION!

She made reservations at a healthy new restaurant in her neighborhood, “Lord Stanley’s,” and we three had a delicious dinner and a wonderful time catching up, laughing, sharing stories and having a perfect night.  Sarah is an incredible young woman, and we are so proud of her!

It would be hard to say goodbye, but we can leave knowing that we have an incredible day planned together tomorrow.

Day 25: More of Napa, As Seen From Our Bikes

Another slow morning, but it’s okay.  We have a wide-open day to do whatever we want!  I woke up bound and determined to finally take our bikes down from the rack and tour around the area.  Greg was agreeable, so we got underway and made our first stop at a gas station to put air in our tires.  Once our bikes were wiped clean, and ship-shape, we headed out to explore.

Time to take the bikes for a spin!
Time to take the bikes for a spin!

Our first stop…The Public Market in the Oxbow District of Napa.  From the outside, the Public Market had a very similar look to the complex of the same name which we loved on Granville Island in Vancouver, so we wanted to take a look inside.  We had breakfast there and browsed the various shops and found that it was, in fact, similar to our favorite Public Market, although on a much smaller scale.

From there, we drove around the town of Napa and honestly, we were disappointed.  We expected that Napa would be as quaint and charming as the other wine tasting towns we’ve visited in central California. After all, the vineyards throughout Napa Valley are so spectacular, we had heightened expectations of the town. We asked around and were told to go to Kennedy Park, which would have a bike path for us, we were promised.  Again, we were underwhelmed.  Where’s the beautiful scenery?  Where are the grapevines?

Then we looked through one of our tourism magazines and found a bike shop, in Yountville, that offered self-guided bike tour maps, so off we went.  Eureka!! We found it!  We found the charming wine tasting town we had envisioned.  Yountville was everything we hoped Napa would be!  We found a charming sidewalk cafe called Bistro Jeanty and had a delicious lunch, to fill our tanks before we headed off for a 13-mile bike ride through gorgeous vineyards.

Ready to “fill his tank” before we head off for a 13-mile ride.

Even though we shared the highway for most of the 13 miles with cars whizzing past us, it was well worth the ride.  This was exactly what I had in mind (minus all the traffic, but life does have its trade-offs, right?)

It’s only 8:00pm and I am ready to put my tired bones to bed…I guess that’s to be expected since we pedaled over 20 miles today!  I gotta say, I may have a hard time sleeping tonight…so excited to go to San Francisco tomorrow and see our Sarah!

Day 24: We Must Need a “Napa”

I have a vague memory of a family road trip to Napa when I was a little girl.  As one of three little girls piled in the back seat of our Buick, I don’t remember much about the trip, except my Dad joking, saying he was a little sleepy and needed a “nap-a.”  (Mom, was this the same road trip as the one which brought us to the Jedediah Smith Campground?) Funny how these things stick in my memory.  Anyway, I think it’s fitting to tell that story today, as we are heading for Napa!

We’ll be in Napa for 2 relaxing days. Greg and I are looking forward to taking a little more time as we travel through California.  Having covered a lot of miles (appx. 5,700 miles so far) in a pretty short period of time, we’re getting a little tired.  That’s probably the reason why we couldn’t quite get our wheels in motion until noon today.  We took our time having breakfast, catching up on my posts, texting/chatting with our kids, making plans with Sarah for our visit with her in a few days…generally being lazy!  We will arrive in Napa in a couple of hours, get settled at our campground and then get ready for a sunset wine tasting train ride.  Sounds like fun!!

Fast forward to later that day…

The drive to Napa was very winding and very pretty.  Glad we got to see all the miles and miles of vineyards.  Clearly these vineyards are the star attraction here in Napa.

We didn’t stop at any, as we had to find our way to our campground in town, then make a 5:30 reservation on the Napa Valley Wine Train. We thought this train would meander down the tracks, stop and allow a tasting here and there and include a delicious dinner.  Well, not exactly…the 4-course meal was quite delicious, but there was no stopping, nor wine tasting. We were a bit disappointed when we realized that this train was only going to head down the tracks and then turn around and come right back again, and the views from the “Dome” on the second level of the train, weren’t all that spectacular.  I guess we should have anticipated that…with such a short time on the train.  Unfortunately, the evening wasn’t what we hoped for…but its likely a case of having too high of expectations, and also needing a little “Napa.”

Tomorrow we are on our own to discover more of Napa…time to call it a night!

Day 23: Trying to Capture the Beauty of the Redwoods

We woke up this morning with one mission in mind! Where’s the best place to see the Redwoods? We settle on heading to Humboldt State Park, just south of us.  Ditching our original plan to camp in Trinidad, which is only a short distance from Klamath and too far north to see Humboldt, we decide to have lunch in Trinidad first before embarking on our scenic drive.  We found a yummy place on Yelp called Lighthouse Grille in Trinidad, where Greg had fish and chips and I had a “nut” burger (appropriate for me, dontcha’ think?) We did a bit of grocery shopping there and picked up groceries, so that Greg could whip up another of his famous RV barbecues, and headed to Humboldt.

Along the way, we saw a turn-off where we could potentially see elk!  Score! Way off in the distance we did catch a glimpse of a bull elk, sharpening his horns against a telephone pole. (Sorry, no picture!  Too far away!)  Then we jumped on a scenic segment of highway in search of our Redwoods.  With the help of a couple of nice park rangers we met at an information center, we grabbed some maps and forged ahead.  We saw beautiful scenery along the way.

Every picture we take cannot possibly depict the magnificence of  these Redwoods!   On our second day of exploring these spectacular forests, we’re feeling frustrated that we can’t seem to properly share them with you…I know!  How about a short video clip of our drive? Maybe THEN you might get a clearer picture with how overwhelming beautiful it is here!!  Let’s give it a try…

By the way, it took several attempts to get these few seconds of video…I even resorted to hanging out the window to try to get the footage…

I'll stop at nothing to get my blog material!
I’ll stop at nothing to get my blog material!

Another wonderful day with the Redwoods comes to a close and we opt for arriving early to our campground so we can catch a breath (and do LOTS of laundry)! As seen in the picture below, we’re putting together some interesting outfits with the few clean clothes we have left, Haha!

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I know, I know! I’m pretty cute!

While I do laundry, Greg cooks another delicious dinner for us!!  Salmon and veggies…perfect end to another perfect day!

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The best part of camping! The Champ is a great cook!

Day 22: California Here We Come!

While we have absolutely loved seeing all the beautiful sights around our country and Canada, there’s no place like home! Today we left our campground on the beach in Oregon (at least I think it was a beach, never actually saw it in the daylight) and found our way through the misty morning to Highway 101 and headed south to the Oregon/California border.

Don’t ask me why, but I was bound and determined to stand right on the border, so I could say I was actually in two places at the same time! Ever since Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore) straddled the border in “A Walk to Remember,” I’ve wanted to do the same…call me Corny!  My ever-accommodating husband pulled off the road at the exact strategic moment, so I could do just that.  Check that one off!

During this last leg of our trip, we purposely didn’t schedule too many things, so we could freely decide what we’d like to do, moment by moment. This a welcome freedom as we can drive without the fear of being late!

We both knew we wanted to experience the giant Redwoods, and with that goal in mind, we mapped a 2-day route to visit the Redwood National Forest. First stop, Jedidiah Smith Campgrounds, where my Mom tells me we camped when I was a little girl. Mom, this one’s for you!!  We parked the RV and looked around the campground, while I strained to remember.  Alas, I can’t say that any specific memory was sparked for me, but it was comforting to return there nonetheless.

Our next stop was at the “Trees of Mystery” in Klamath.  We weren’t sure what we would find there, but it was worth a looksy…when we arrived, and saw how kitschy it appeared, we almost turned back.  But I dug my heels in…I mean how often do you get to pose next to Paul Bunyan?  Nope, we’re going in…and glad we did.  There were, in fact, enormous, gorgeous Redwoods for us to experience.  These trees are so magnificent, there is just no way to capture them in pictures.  With many of them hundreds of feet high and over 14 feet in diameter, it is an awe-inspiring experience to behold their wonder.

With no cell phone coverage, nor WiFi, we decided we should try to find our way to our campground before dark.  Good thing we did! There is no way we would have found Kamp Klamath in the dark.  Tucked away at the end of a canyon, Kamp Klamath is practically hiding from weary travelers…But no!! It could not hide from Greg and Sandy, the determined adventurers!  Since, there was no restaurants within 50 miles of our remote home for the night, my sweetheart barbecued a wonderful dinner of steak and roasted vegetables!  DELICIOUS!! What a way to end the day!!