Saturday, April 30, 2011

Eureka, Brookings and The Redwoods

We left Fort Bragg on Thursday morning, in the sunshine, enjoying the coast drive for another hour before the road veered eastward, away from the ocean.

The sky turned overcast and then it became downright dark as we drove through the towering Redwoods. Highway 1 twists and turns just as wildly through the Redwoods as it does along the coast.

Pictured is The Doll House Redwood, on Highway 1.

We pulled into The Shorelines RV Park at Eureka, back on the coast of California, about 2:00pm. After setting up we went for a walk around the downtown area, which is graced with a lot of beautiful wooden architecture. Some, like the one pictured below, built by a lumber baron, have been completely restored. Its now a private club for the people who paid for the restoration. Other buildings look as though they’re probably in constant need of a paint job.

Pictured is one of the main intersections in historic downtown Eureka.

In the evening we went to a Chinese restaurant so Janice could indulge herself in her, once yearly, All-You-Can-Eat Buffet. I’m not as big on Chinese buffets as she is because often the places are not real clean. You know, greasy fingerprints everyhwere from the front door to the sneeze guards. It was good though - clean and not entirely deep fried stuff. Cheap too, Bill. Just $8.99 each.

On Friday we hit the road for Brookings, Oregon. It’s the southernmost town on the Oregon Coast and is self-described as the Banana Belt of the north coast. Janice’s brother, Alan, had guaranteed us good weather if we went there and, sure enough, just as we pulled into the Driftwood RV Park, the sun came out.

We spent the afternoon getting an oil change on the truck and replacing a safety chain hook on the trailer that had somehow come off on that winding road. Because of the sunshine we were able to BBQ some burgers and then sat around a camp fire until dark.

Saturday morning we woke to sunshine again and so decided to book another day here, as well as backpeddle about twenty miles to the part of the Redwoods that we missed because the weather had been crappy. About fifteen miles down the road we crossed back into California and then took Highway 297 about five miles to Jedadiah Smith State Park.

We were the only ones in the park when we got there. We walked the Nature Loop Trail and came back to the river to have lunch. The Smith River is a brilliant turqouise colour and contrasted kind of unworldly with the new greens of spring on the trees. Of course some of the Redwoods are massive. We were glad we made the effort to make the trip back.

Pictured are some shots of Jedadiah Smith State Park and the Smith River.

Back in Brookings we visited the Azalea Park but it was pretty well done this late in the spring and then we followed the Chesko River to Loeb State Park.

Pictured are: Janice, with her new hair colour, at Loeb State Park. I said the Smith River was brilliant - well, the Chesco River was unbelievably blue, as pictured.

Aftet going for groceries we took a sharp right at a sign that said Chesko Point and then walked out to where we could get a view back to Brookings.

Pictured are a couple of shots of Brookings from Chesko Point and, The Little One, as we return along the path.

Tomorrow we're headed for Coos Bay, about halfway up the Oregon Coast. We're going to be in Langley by Friday!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fort Bragg, Mendocino and the Northern California Coast…

Pictured is a miscellaneous shot of the coast, where we stopped for lunch, on the way to Fort Bragg.

I knew before we left Bodega Bay that Janice wasn’t too thrilled about dragging the trailer along Highway 1, on the Northern California Coast. It’s a notoriously winding, up-and-down, narrow road. I tried to reassure her that the Interstates were probably more dangerous but, when we got to the top of the first steep hill, with a rock slide on one side and a thee hundred foot drop, straight down, to the snarling Pacific Ocean on the other, I could see her Brake Foot starting to get a workout.

Actually the first thirty miles or so were the worst. Either that or her Brake Foot was plumb wore out because she seemed to relax after that.

By the way, my old friend George Robb reminded me that Bodega Bay was the location for the shooting of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic movie, The Birds

We got into Fort Bragg, at the Hidden Pines RV Park, about 3:00pm. We set up while talking with our new, 1969 Volkswagen Van driving neighbour, Tobin, about his travels to South East Asia. Looking to be in his 50’s, he works for a year or two and then travels for a year. Usually in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam because it’s beautiful, the people are clean and friendly and the food is exceptional.

Later we took a drive through the Fort Bragg. It’s really grown since the last time we were here in 1998. Considering my fear of flying - make that my refusal to fly in the past - I’ve driven down the West Coast quite a few times. I think this is my fifth time in Fort Bragg.

We started a campfire before dinner and enjoyed some Sangria but as soon as the sun went down the chilly ocean breeze drove us inside, where we watched a little Boob Tube.

On Tuesday morning, to our surprise, we woke to sunshine - it’s usually foggy here in the mornings.

After a year of going Au Naturelle, Janice decided to get her hair cut and colored, so I went across the street to the internet café to check emails and to research electronic drums.

In the past few months JR, Stephanie and Ron have been working at putting our electric band, Dr. Recommended, back together in anticipation of when I get home. The guitar player, JR, suggested that I look into electronic drums because the volume can be infinitely controlled, which would be best for all of our old ears. Well, maybe not Stephanie’s old ears - she’s only forty, or so. OK, so Ron’s in his forties too - and JR’s in his early fifties. I guess that only leaves me.

Anyway, I’ll be a busy boy when I get home because I intend to keep the acoustic thing going with Gary, Doc and Sylvie as well. Should be fun…

Waiting for Janice to get finished, I walked around downtown Fort Bragg and took a few miscellaneous shots, pictured below:

When Janice got finished at the hairdresser about 11:00, as always, she went right home to wash her hair and redo what the stylist had done. The color is a little bit redder than she’d have liked but I’m going to help her put some lighter highlights in it.

I keep asking her, “Who are you? And what have you done with my Janice?”

After lunch we drove the eight miles back to Mendocino to have a bowl of soup and some garlic baguettes. I’ve always been fond of the Northern California Coast, especially Mendocino. I was immediately drawn to it on my first trip down here, at about age twenty-two.

The whole north coast is spectacular but Mendocino is cradled in a particularly beautiful setting. While it’s always been an artist’s colony, during the 60’s and 70’s, it also played a major role in the Hippy and Peace Movements. It’s where Earth Momma’s first appeared. It’s where people first became conscious of, and promoted, healthier, organic, food. Generally, it’s where the Back to the Land movement began. Of course it’s also where marijuana was first cropped in the U.S.

Many of the original Mendocino characters, and their traditions, still remain - difference is - a lot of them are now sitting on multi-million dollar properties.

Pictured are a few shots from around downtown Mendocino. The property with the residence complimented by all the flowers in front also has a nice art gallery building at the street and is for sale for $1.6 million.

Not everyone is so enamoured with the area as I am. I’ve always lucked out and had good weather, but I hear it can be pretty dreary and foggy a lot of the time or, otherwise, cold, damp and windy.

Lucky us. In the afternoon we took a walk to downtown Fort Bragg in the sunshine.

Pictured is the harbour at the Noyo River, taken from the bridge. It was about a five mile walk, something we welcomed after a few days of relative inactivity.

In the evening we watched the new TV show, The Voice.

Wednesday was sunny again so we decided to book another day here. I helped Janice highlight her hair and then we walked to the Noyo River Harbor, this time taking the steep path down under the bridge and walking the riverfront.

Pictured below are: Fish Boats at Noyo Harbor and a Fisherman’s ‘best friend‘, a Harbor Seal who was making a racket, no doubt because he thought we were there to feed him.

From Noyo Harbour we walked to The Headlands, or, Chicken Point - so named because sailors would walk out to where we were and decide if the Pacific looked friendly enough to fish, or not.

Pictured are Janice with her new hair colour - just a teaser - and more wild flowers at The Headlands at Fort Bragg.

Today we head for the Redwood Forrest, close to the California, Oregon border…

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bodega Bay

We left Vacaville in the sunshine but, by the time we got Sonoma, about an hour from the coast, just north of San Francisco, it had clouded over.

Pictured is the winding mountain pass we took to get to the coast.

We stopped at Sonoma to walk around the town square with all of it's quaint shops and restaurants before having lunch at a Portugese restaurant.

Pictured are: the square at Sonoma, another wierd plant for Rhelda to name, and Janice deciding on a Pulled Pork Sandwich.

By 2:00 we were in Bodega Bay at the Bodega Bay RV Park. We had been here thirteen years ago and it really charmed us - me in particular. It’s a fishing village set inside a well protected harbour, but just over the dunes is the wild Pacific Ocean.

On that first visit to the town there was a very nice building for sale on the waterfront, in the harbour. The building sits on concrete pilings and had been used as a yacht club, as it is again now. I guess the yacht club was in trouble at the time because the building was vacant and it was for sale for $240,000.00. I couldn’t believe the value in the property and I dreamt of it being an ideal gallery/restaurant enterprise. It stuck with me for quite a while, even months later back in Canada. Had I been an Amercian I'm pretty confident we would have purchased it, taking our lives in another whole direction.

Pictured is the yacht club building we could have 'stolen' back in 1998.

I reasoned that Bodega Bay’s proximity to San Francisco and, in particular, Santa Rosa, just a half hour away, made it an ideal property to lure tourists and weekenders to. Today Bodega Bay is just as I imagined it would be, a thriving tourist destination with several large seafood restaurants neighbouring the yacht club building. Any property on the waterfront, especially in the commercial section where the yacht club is, is priced well into the millions of dollars.

We took a walk along the harbour and it started to drizzle rain. Fog horns indicated more of the same. We borrowed a couple of movies from the clubhouse and hunkered down in the rain.

When we woke on Easter Morning it was still raining and foggy. We decided to take a drive to Santa Rosa. As soon as we got on the road though the skies cleared and a bracing wind picked up. There are three different routes from Bodega Bay to Santa Rosa and we chose to drive up the coast about five miles to Highway 116 and then took the winding highway to town.

Pictured are a couple of shots of the coast just north of Bodega Bay and another of the Salmon River on the way to Santa Rosa.

Santa Rosa has an old and quaint downtown but the Wal-Mart didn’t have a food store so we had to shop at Safeway. Yes Bill, it’s quite a bit more expensive there.

We were back in Bodega Bay by 1:00 and stopped for lunch at the Lucas Wharf Restaurant and Fish Market. Our corner seats, pictured below, where we had a fried fish platter, left us looking out at the yacht club building mentioned earlier.

Pictured is Janice at tht Lucas Wharf Restaurant and, another shot of the yacht club building from the other side.

After lunch we drove up the coast a couple of miles from our RV park to take some more pictures. The spectacle of the ocean vistas was made even more photogenic by the profusuion of wildflowers.

Pictured is another shot from the coast near Bodega Bay.

Duncan’s Landing, pictured below, provided a path all the way around.

Bodega Bay itself is pictured below.

Back at the RV park we took a walk towards the sound of the ocean and came across a Bell Tower, which is a tribute to a seven-year-old boy from Bodega Bay killed by highway robbers while touring Italy with his family in 1994. I remember seeing a piece about the boy and his family on 60 Minutes back then because his parents donated his organs to save the lives of seven memebrs of Italian families.

Pictured is the Bell Tower behind the RV park as well as a couple of huge Eucalyptus Trees - the leaves smell like cough syrup.

Later we did laundry while our Easter Dinner of Turkey Legs and little red potatoes cooked in the oven. I made Caesar Salad and we had a nice bottle of wine.

Today we're headed further up the coast on Highway 1...

Friday, April 22, 2011


Pictured are Janice and Tim at Yosemite. I know, it looks more like a movie backdrop.

The two days we spent in Pahrump after our return from Tulum were pretty quiet. The first morning we went for a big breakfast at Terrible’s Casino, right behind our RV park, where I had Two Eggs, Two Pancakes and Five Strips of Bacon for $2.99. Of course Janice had to blow the budget and had Bacon and Eggs with Toast and Hash Browns for $3.99. We toured Pahrump a little more and lazed around the pool in the afternoons.

On Tuesday morning we set out on the road for Mojave, California, about a five hour drive to the Sierra Hills RV Park. There we met a couple from Ontario who’d just come from Yosemite. We had taken Yosemite off of our radar because reports had it that there was still snow in the park. The Ontarions debunked that for us by reporting that there are a few snow patches in the shade but, otherwise it’s beautiful, with all the waterfalls at near to full volume, with balmy afternoons.

On Wednesday, headed for Fresno, or other points north, we were driving in the general direction of the park. It’s a boring drive through desert until we got near Bakersfield where we went through a mountain pass resplendent in natural green grass - something we hadn’t seen for months. Desert, desert, desert, desert, desert, desert - green!

We ended up in Madera, at the KOA, just thirty miles from the entrance to Yosemite. There they ripped us off for $45 a night plus $6 a day for internet, which we declined. We’re used to being spoiled with $15 to $20 a night using our Passport America.

In the middle of the night we woke to thunder, lightning and hail, but by morning it had turned to a slight drizzle. We were up early and on the road to the park by 8:30. It was still raining here and there, but there were a few bright spots.

By the time we got to the park it was still chilly but the sightings of Bridal Veil Falls and El Capitan, on the way in, served to warm our cockles.

Pictured are Bridal Veil Falls and El Capitan, a thousand foot sheer Granite cliff face. About five years ago I saw, on television, where a husband was filming his wife Base Jumping off of El Capitan - her chute never opened. I remember he was quite pragmatic about it, saying, “She died doing what she loved.”

We toured the Ansel Adams Gallery at Yosemite Village and when we returned outside, the sun broke out. We sat and enjoyed a packed lunch below a massive granite face.

Pictured are: The cliff face we looked up at while eating lunch, as well as a close-up and a wide angle of Yosemite Falls, also visible from our lunch spot.

The scenery all around us was truly incredible so we decided to take an easy, one-and-half-mile, hike to Mirror Lake. In recent years the lake has been filling with silt fairly rapidly and now looks more like a meandering river. Still beautiful though.

Pictured is the Merced River that winds peacefully through the valley floor before roiling it’s furious descent, at a steep 350 feet per mile, as it exits the park. Also pictured are a few shots along the trail to Mirror Lake.

When we reached the trailhead, which had been blocked by a huge rock slide in 2009, we returned via the meadows, pictured below.

After the Mirror Lake hike we drove to The Tunnel Lookout, where we had planned to hike to Inspiration Point, but the water was running over the rocks too fast so we decided to turn around.

Pictured is the Park, from the Inspiration Point Trail, with Bridal Veil Falls on the right and El Capitan on the left.

Pictured: As we exited the park I took this picture of Granite boulders forming an entrance to the park. Also, all along the sides of the road were these beautiful pink trees. They looked like wild cherry blossoms but the trees were weedier looking. I'm sure Rhelda can solve the question - what, exactly, are they?

We had been told about the Hite Point Trail, just outside the park, where the wildflowers were in bloom. I had been warned though that I might not like the trail because of the vertigo aspect. Sure enough, about an eighth of a mile in, I got the Heebie Jeebies and had to turn around. Janice snapped this picture as we returned to the truck.

Back at the KOA, our neighbours, Jerry and Cathy came over for a drink around the fire. He's a retired car dealer while she still works for the school district in Fresno. He was a pretty redneck Republican. Did I mention we saw a bumper sticker in Arizona that: Had a picture of a lion on one side and underneath said, "African Lion." On the other side was a picture of Barack Obama and said, "Lyin' African." Nice.

Friday morning we woke to sunshine and drove all the way to Vacaville, California and the Vineyard RV Park. We had planned to stay in Lodi but all the parks were full because of some military goings-on. Janice cooked tendrloin on the BBQ and then we had a camp fire. We're now only a couple of hours from the coast...