Thursday, November 3, 2016

Blog block!

We had stayed so long in Petaluma that we needed a getaway.  Howard took out the map book and zeroed in on Tonopah, NV. I said why in the world would we want to go to the middle of nowhere and his reply, "I just like the name"!  Being the good sport that I am and knowing that October is a great month for traveling, I was ready for an adventure.  Doing a little internet research was not overly promising.  Seems Tonopah is an old mining town approximately half way between Las Vegas and Reno.

We stayed the first night at the very popular overnight travel destination, the Orange Grove RV Park. The following day we headed east on Highway 58 up the grade toward Tehachapi.  On the way up we noticed that the transmission was jerky when shifting down to a lower gear.  We didn't lose power, but it was disconcerting enough for us to look for a place to park and make a few phone calls.  We found a Passport America park in nearby Mojave.  It just happened to be October 14th, my birthday,  and we celebrated at Foxie's diner at the little local airport.  I enjoyed a Club sandwich with a glass of Merlot.

After calling Allison, our transmission people, for a recommendation, we called Valley Power Systems in nearby Bakersfield for an appointment.  We arrived at 8 am on the appointed day and proceeded to wait 2 hours without seeing a service representative, so we reconnected the car and drove to Sacramento.  The transmission did fine the entire way.

We parked in Loomis at daughter Stephanie's house where we have grand parking facilities with full hookups.  We are going to be sorry to leave this place when they move into the new house they have purchased.  We stayed for 2 weeks, babysitting Riley the grand-lab while they visited Gary's relatives in Colorado.

We are now back in Petaluma at the Elk's lodge.  The transmission was perfect on the drive from Sacramento so guess we will put that issue on hold for awhile and see how it goes.  We will be in and around the Bay Area until mid-December when we head to the desert.  Wishing all a Happy Holiday season.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Petaluma, back to home territory~~

For several months of the year we hang out in Petaluma in Northern California, about 30 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Elks Lodge in Petaluma has become "Ground Zero" for us for several years.  We're near family, medical facilities, and beautiful places to sight-see.

An artsy rendering of our Petaluma Elks Lodge parking

If you are a member of an Elks organization like we are, the lodge in Petaluma offers the best RV parking available in the San Francisco Bay Area. There are 18 sites on asphalt with full-hookups for $25 per night, many suitable for larger RVs, with grassy dog runs and overflow parking.  Their system now offers reservations making it convenient for planning ahead.  

Enjoying the grassy, manicured back yard.  There are tables and chairs for afternoon happy hours The doggies love it too!

This is an opportunity to enjoy the delights of a beautiful old historic city packed full of great restaurants, regional parks and hiking trails, all within an easy drive to San Francisco to the south, Pacific beaches, and the famous Napa valley wine country.

Ahh...The Golden Gate Bridge...we have about 30 miles to go north to Petaluma.

Going the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse

Vineyards offset by coastal hills and clouds at Green String Farm

The Petaluma Visitor Center used to be the old train depot in 1914...

Shollenberger Park has miles of trails and is an easy walk from the Elks.

There is a 2 1/2 mile loop trail around the lake, part of which lies adjacent to the Petaluma River which is navigable and runs in to the San Francisco Bay.

A hike at Helen Putnam Park involves a lot of hill climbing.

Layers of coastal fog and farm land lie to our west as we hike the trails of Helen Putnam.

Another side of Helen Putnam Park, groves of old oak abound.

The Napa Valley for some wine tasting....

Here we're enjoying a beverage and some fine food at Dempsey's Brew Pub with a river view of course.

Another day and the sun performs perfectly with shadows and colors.

The pedestrian bridge across the river takes us to Main Street and all the fun stores.

Tuesday's eastside Farmers Market.  There is also a Wednesday evening market in town and Saturday morning at Walnut Park.

And this lovely bouquet is for you!  Thanks for coming...

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Post Townsend, WA - Strait talk

The Strait of Juan de Fuca extends east from the Pacific Ocean between Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula about 95 miles inland to Puget Sound.  Port Townsend is bordered by the Bay of Port Townsend and Admiralty Inlet, which intersects the Strait.  In other words, we are surrounded by big water and lots of marine activity.

Click on the maps for a more detailed view.

The town is a Victorian seaport and arts community. With its maritime heritage, artist spirit, and a touch of urban chic, Port Townsend is an easily accessible base camp to the Olympic Peninsula and beyond. 

The Point Wilson lighthouse at Fort Worden

We've been coming here every year, same site, since 2009.  We had been staying at the SKP's Evergreen Coho RV park in nearby Chimacum and took a drive one day to check out Port Townsend. We were drawn to the Point Hudson Marina mainly to see the boats and splendid views. The RV park is nothing special.  Most of the full hookup sites are expensive, graveled, and close together.  We decided to check in at the office for more information and were told they had two boondocking sites for $20 each per night (since upped to $30).  Our site 361, is about 50 feet from the water and entertains us with a constant flow of boat/ship traffic.  Never a dull moment though lots of lazy ones.

An afternoon parade of schooners (insert Howard drooling)

Jefferson County Courthouse - Uptown
In years past we have done many all day trips to see Seattle, Port Angeles, Sequim, and all the local hangouts.  There is RV parking at Fort Worden State Park and Fort Townsend State Park as well as the Elks Lodge and Jefferson County fairgrounds.

There is a great little local theater that shows currently running movies as well as art and eclectic films, and the best ice cream at Elevated Ice Cream, both located downtown. There are lots of shopping opportunities from second hand shops to chic, expensive ones. There is Doc's restaurant located here at the marina which we enjoy for the convenience and every type of eating pleasure you can imagine in town.

Victorian downtown

During our 12 days we hung close to home, not feeling any pressure to do a daily tour as in year's past.  We've been catching up on our reading and exercise. And both of us got haircuts (whoopee).  A walk from the marina uptown is a long steep hill that gathers momentum as it reaches it's high point in town then starts back to downtown again. Three or 4 outings like this gets the old legs aching and the knees screaming!

The ferry docks are busy during the summer season with two ferries running about every hour, making for easy travels between Port Townsend and Whidbey Island, about a half hour scenic trip each way.  The downtown streets are packed with tourists arriving by small cruise ship or ferry.

The hot dog spot downtown framed by a great mural

This is what we do most of the time!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Anacortes - Gateway to the San Juans

Anacortes is known locally as the Gateway to the San Juans because it's a hopping off point for ferry traffic and pleasure boats going to the islands and Canada.  For us, Anacortes is a destination in and off itself.  It is one of those places, like Port Townsend, that we visit at least once a year.

We stay at the Cap Sante Marina which also provides dry camping for RVs and great views of the marina and boat traffic.  The marina location is centrally located providing an easy walk into the historic downtown, and access to miles of trails for walking and biking.  Shopping and restaurants are all easily accessible.  We arrived just in time for the annual Art Festival which is a huge event bringing folks from far and wide.  Plus there are weekly Farmers Markets providing entertainment and a great selection of sustainable produce.  In other words, there seems to be a constant flow of activity in this vibrant seaside community.

Just hanging out with the girls!


Murals on downtown buildings

At Cap Sante marina overlook...

Mount Baker rising out of the fog...

At the Saturday Farmers Market

We'll be leaving here by ferry returning to Port Townsend for our annual 2 week stay at our waterfront site at Point Hudson Marina. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Cruise blues and other news~~~

We took a 7 day Alaska cruise out of Seattle aboard the Norwegian  cruise line's ship Jewel.  Our accommodations were perfect;  a mini-suite with a full balcony.  Daughter Steph took care of all the booking and what a good job she did.  We had tons of space and beautiful views.

Photo from our balcony ~ Ship leaving Seattle

The first two days were spent at sea and by the end of the second day as we pull into Ketchikan Howard had full blown gout in his right foot, making walking long distances very painful.  There is a lot of walking on a gigantic cruise ship not to mention the shore excursions we planned to do, but alas, it was not meant to be.  By the time we got to our first destination, Ketchikan, we were resolved to the fact we wouldn't be doing much more that sitting on our balcony and watching the incredible scenery drift by.  Plus we had mostly nasty weather, rain and fog for 6 of our 7 days.  The sun came out in Victoria, BC on our last day. Nevertheless, we enjoyed ourselves immensely, eating delicious cruise ship cuisine, and enjoying a trip of a lifetime.  Here's the ship's itinerary:

  1. Ketchikan, our first stop, has a population of just over 8,000 and is the fifth most populous city in the state of Alaska. Local economy is based on tourism and fishing, hence the title of salmon capital of the world.
  2. Our next stop is Juneau, Alaska's 3rd largest city by population.  Anchorage is first with just over 300,00.  The Aurora Borealis or Northern lights can be seen on clear nights from August through April, usually over Mt. Juneau.  There are lots of shore excursions including whale watching and trips to the Mendenhall Glacier.
  3. Skagway is home to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and to both the White Pass Scenic Railway and Chilkoot Trails, two famous paths in and out of town.  
  4. After another day at sea we arrived in Victoria, BC.  We've been to Victoria many times and visited Bouchart Gardens, the Empress Hotel, and the beautiful Parliament Building. The downtown and marina areas make for a good walking tour..
  5. Next stop Seattle.
Along the way we saw ice bergs and glaciers, quaint towns and seaports. There was a lot of fog and rain but our balcony was covered and there were large sliding glass doors to enjoy the views. Sure we missed out on some good shore excursions, but we made the most out of our days, depending on Howard's comfort level. 
Marina in Ketchikan

Cool, foggy days


We returned to the Elk's lodge in Port Townsend for a few more days, then decided to take the ferry and spend some time in Anacortes.  More on that later.  We'll be returning to Port Townsend to our "happy place" at the marina where we have a waterfront view, August 18-30.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

21 Years of full-time RVing

Yep, this year marks our 21st anniversary of living and traveling full-time in a motorhome.  We've had two, a 91 Dolphin MH and the Country Coach we have now, purchased in 2001. Those first few years we did a lot of driving, trying to cram as many locations as possible in a period of a few days.  It was nothing for us to drive cross-country a couple of times a year.

In 1995 we had two grandchildren born, Daniel in Sun Valley, Idaho and Noelle in Redwood City, CA.  We were there for both!  Oh the joys of being mobile!

One of our bucket list locations was Zion National Park. The photo below was take on a walk along the Virgin river toward the Narrows. We stayed in the national park campgound, enjoyed summer days, barbecued dinners, and lots of walks.  We always put our awning up before we go in for the evening....accept for one night.  The day was balmy, no wind.  Not good as it turns out!

About 1 a.m. in the early morning hours we had a loud knock on our door.  It was the park ranger saying we had to evacuate immediately.  There had been a landslide and the Virgin River was rapidly reaching flood level.  We had a mess outside to put away, especially the awning put. We filed in with a bunch of other campers and followed the ranger up to higher ground.  The next day we found out the hotel was isolated by the slide and patrons were stranded.  Supplies were rapidly running out.

  Our cozy campsite at Zion before all hell broke loose.  Notice all the stuff that had to be put away at 1 a.m. when the ranger told us we had to evacuate,

What follows in a series of old photos taken from road trips we visited in the first few years. The pics should provide a lot of laughs.

At Arches National Park

At Capitol Reef, we think.  

At Bryce Canyon National Park

At Mount Rushmore

At Devil's Tower

Crater Lake

Campeche, MX

Admiring the electric in Campeche, MX

Howard climbs to the top of the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itsa

I however, did not make it to the top.  Too steep and scary!

Sunset cruise at Acapulco, MX

Rafting the Salmon River in Idaho with Bill and Carol

At Glacier National Park

Tunnels at Custer State Park, in South Dakota

Mount Rushmore

Hot springs by the Rio Grande, Big Bend NP

Hiking at Big Bend

The marina in Victoria,  British Columbia

Native dances in downtown Vancouver, BC

Liard River Hot Springs BC, on the road to Alaska

The London Bridge at Lake Havasu, Arizona

This is enough for now!  I will continue to work toward the present in future issues.  Many thanks to daughter, Terri, who spent a lot of time going through boxes of old photos and scanning them.

Our current location is the Elks Lodge in Port Townsend, very nice for $20 per night. We will be allowed to leave the motorhome here when we go on our cruise to Alaska on July 23rd.