Port Townsend

We drove along RT101 having already arranged with Julia (my sister Wendy’s daughter) that she would meet us on the edge of Port Townsend to guide us into our site at Point Hudson Marina and RV Park, as there was a lot of road works on the main route. She had investigated a couple of alternative routes, avoiding narrow roads (does such a thing exist in the USA?), and overhanging trees (remember we are 12ft 6in high just under truck height) and had chosen one that would work.

Julia was parked up on the edge of the road and we followed her in to our site. Wow not quite a front row waterfront site, but only one row back looking out over the Puget Sound which is around the Fort Worden Point from the Straits of Juan de Fuca and is the main shipping route into Seattle from the Pacific.

The view from the front window.
Our site.
The main channel into Seattle.
Lots of wildlife.
Point Hudson marina.
Sunset over the Puget Sound.
Sunset towards Fort Worden.
Marina at sunset.

We went out for a meal at Doc’s marina Grill with Julia and Michael in the evening where we worked out what we would do over the weekend. It was lovely to see them at last and after a very nice meal we went to bed that night with sound of the channel bell tinkling away in the distance.

On the Saturday it had been decided we would drive to Julia’s and Michael’s early in order to drive to Hurricane Ridge, but on the way stop for breakfast in Port Angeles at a place that Julia knew called Chestnut Cottage. After a lovely breakfast we then carried on up to Hurricane  Ridge, 5,242ft up in the Washington Olympic National Park. From here you get 360° views of the mountains inland to the south and Port Angeles, the Straits of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island to the North. There is also quite a bit of wildlife around, the deer especially just grazing peacefully yards from the visitors centre.

Deer grazing on the hillside.
Inland towards Olympic National Park.
Cloud covered glaciers. the weather gradually improved all day.
Even I had to put on a fleece as the wind blowing over the snow bank in the next photo was making it quite cold!!  Julia & Michael and the two Brits.
Straits of Juan de Fuca and a snow bank. Quite a few paths were still closed by snow and this is June 16th!!
Bambi!
Another view of the mountains.
Lots of flowers just beginning to come out.
View towards Port Angeles, Dungeness Spit and Vancouver Island.
Snow was still melting and causing waterfalls.
Dungeness Spit in the distance. You can just see the Lighthouse.
A tunnel on the main road to Hurricane Ridge.
Trees clinging to the bare rock above the road. I was amazed they didn’t fall down.

From here we went to Dungeness Spit in the above photo, a spit of sand that sticks out into the Straits and has a lighthouse at the end. Waves crashing in on the beach and yet more driftwood. An artist who used driftwood as their medium would not lack a supply for their art in Washington state.

Dungeness Spit Lighthouse a 5 mile walk along the spit. Needless to say we were not up to the 10 mile hike!!
The Spit with driftwood!!
Looking towards Port Angeles and the Pacific Ocean.
One of the many container ships going to and from Seattle.
Group photo on the Spit!
A deer just came walking past!!

We then returned to Julia and Michael’s house where we had a steak barbeque. The views from the front of their house over Discovery Bay are absolutely stunning especially when the sun sets through the trees.

Sitting on the front looking out over Discovery Bay.
A yacht in discovery Bay.
Hummingbird on their feeder.
Sun setting over the bay.
Almost gone.

The next day (Sunday) we set off early again from J&M’s house to go and see Lake Cushman, a snow melt fed lake in the Olympic National Park. The weather was now getting hotter and we arrived at the lake in brilliant sunshine.

Lake Cushman’s beautiful blue waters.
Look at those clouds!! A swimming and canoeing area.
Another view.
Mountains behind the lake.
Crystal clear water.
Snow still melting so it was still filling the lake.
One of the many boating and swimming docks on the lake.
Looking down the lake towards Olympic National Park.
You can get to the lake many ways, but your own seaplane helps!!

We then drove back to J&M’s for another barbeque and another look at Discovery Bay.

Another hummingbird.
Sun going down over Discovery Bay.
Nearly there.
The sun setting over the beach at the RV Park.

Monday was a work day for J&M so we just pottered around the RV Park and the Marina, but we returned the favour and cooked them a meal in the RV after they had finished work.

Got the table and chairs out on the camping mat and ate breakfast outside.
Who wouldn’t with this view.
This is the port channel buoy whose bell we could hear at night.
Loads of birds feeding as the tide went out.
Need a lift Sir!! Crane used to get boats into the boatyard.
Need a few $$$$ for some of these. The black hulled one to the left behind the car was $105,000 for a second hand yacht!!
A lovely dual masted yacht.

On the Tuesday both Julia and Michael had the afternoon off so we met them at the Spruce Goose at Port Townsend “International ” Airport. It is an International Airport as people fly into it from Canada in their private planes!! The Spruce Goose is renowned for its fruit pies and I can say with some certainty they lived up to their reputation. We then drove back to Port Townsend and we walked around looking at the sights. Pretty little town with some interesting shops.

A ship yard where they train boat builders.
Building a wooden clinker built boat. Out the back a steamer was steaming the wood ready for it to be bent into the hull.
Bronze Sea Otters.
The refurbished Town Hall. At one point it was threatening to fall, but it was carefully restored and the end piece to the left added to improve the structure.
One of the Jetties.
Beautiful yacht.
The original Fire Bell and the oldest in Washington State.
The Post Office (originally the Customs House).
The ferry we will be using at the end of the week.

We ate out in the evening at the Old Whiskey Mill.

On the Wednesday we decided to drive to Seattle to have a look round. Got caught up in a massive traffic jam where they were redeveloping the I5 at Tacoma, so it took us a bit longer than expected.

First we visited Pike Place Market, which sells almost anything you can think of but is also famous for a particular fishmonger that throws their fish around when creating a display.

Pike Place Market
The fish display at the fishmonger that threw the fish around. I was too slow to catch it (a photo not the fish). They had also fixed up a lever in the mouth of the monkfish and if you got too close it talked to you!!
Panoramic view of the harbour from a viewpoint on top of the market. The market is 5 stories high.
Circus shop where you can see some strange exhibits, like a shoe from the World’s Tallest man.

From here we drove to see the Space Needle and the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. The Space Needle was partially closed because they were refurbishing it, but there were still some magnificent views. The Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum was an absolute stunning exhibition of Dale Chihuly’s glass works.

View of Seattle from the top of the Needle looking North.
View of the Harbour from the Needle.
Seattle Skyscrapers from the Needle.
Someone trying not to look too worried as she leant back on the glass between her and a 605ft drop. Notice the left hand gripping the bench!!
Chihuly interior glass garden.
Lovely colours in these glass vases.
Amazing glass work.
Sea creatures based sculpture. This is an octopus.
Huge multi faceted glass sculpture, made from hundreds of individual blown pieces.
Detail from within the sculpture.
A complete glass garden.
Another view.
A closer look.
A boat full of individual blown glass pieces.
A blue chandelier.
Another chandelier the other way up.
A stunning blue glass bowl.
And an orange one.
A complete ceiling made up of individual glass pieces.
Another ceiling panel.
And another.
Glass sculpture in the garden.
Same piece with the Needle in the background.
Glass pieces in the garden looking like real flowers
This piece must have been at least 25ft tall.
Same piece, trying to get Anne and the Needle in the picture.
This hall was closed for a private function but I managed to sneak a picture.
Another tall garden piece.
A magnificent tall glass sculpture looking like plant in Avatar(the SF film).

Judy (Anne’s pen friend in Florida) had told us to visit this place and all I can say is if you get a chance to see it don’t miss it.

After eating our evening meal in Seattle we decided to go back to Port Townsend using the Bainbridge Island ferry.

The M.V Spokane our Washington State Ferry.
Seattle skyline from the ferry.
Sunset with people on the front of the ferry.
Sun setting as we approached the Bainbridge Island dock.

On the Thursday we had a rest day after the long day in Seattle, although we did manage to fit in a trip to Poulsbo for the mandatory Quilt shop visit. In the evening we went out J&M’s for a barbeque and the group photo!!

Magnificent view in the background, pity the foreground spoiled it :-).

And Friday 22nd dawned and it was Anne’s birthday. We first of all Skyped Alan and then Claire, although we missed Caroline’s call, so they could all wish her Happy Birthday. We had managed to find some clotted cream in Poulsbo the previous day so I made some scones from a packet mix in the convection oven, and we had a cream tea in the afternoon with Julia, after we had visited the Port Townsend Museum.

Carriages in the museum.
Statue that I think was on the top of the Town Hall before its refurbishment.

And then we went to a local restaurant called The Fountain for Anne’s Birthday dinner.

Anne’s Birthday dinner.
And when we returned to the RV the Ferry was caught in a rainbow.

Saturday dawned and we had to get up early to pack everything up, hitch up the Spark and get ready for our Ferry crossing to Coupeville at 11.45am. We had to be there 45 minutes before the booking time, and Julia and Michael came to see us off. We really enjoyed our visit to them and all they had arranged for us to do. We really liked Port Townsend and there house on Discovery Bay.

So at 11.00 am we pulled up at the ferry gate and got measured (50ft 6in long and well within the height as the ferry takes trucks).

We then paid our fare and waited in Row 1 for the ferry to arrive.

Here it comes!!
Two big trucks right on the front.

We were first on as we were the biggest vehicle on this trip and they parked us right at the front in the middle of the car deck, so we got a really great view out of our front window for the whole trip.

The ferry engine is running to keep it in the dock.
And off we go.
Cliff edges on the Coupeville shore.
Approaching the Coupeville Dock
Journey’s End, well not quite we need to get to Concrete.

Eventual destination is the KOA at Concrete / Grandy Creek which is only 50 miles from the US / Canada border but below the last Flying J / Pilot gas (petrol) station where we have to fill up as petrol is way more expensive in Canada than in the US.

Also gives us time to figure out what we can and cannot take across the border as everything we read gives a different story from “they will intensively search your vehicle” to “they will  stamp your passports and wave you through”!!

We arrived at the campground at about 2.30pm and parked up. Nice site, but obviously a Canadian / USA camping holiday destination as there are hundreds of children running around!!

Parked up among the trees.
Another photo.
We had a surprise visitor (our son Timothy) on the first night, who came to wish his mother Happy Birthday.

After we had sorted out our laundry and checked all that was in the fridge etc. on Monday 25th June we set off to the border.

The queue at the Canadian border.

After about half an hour we reached the border. The guy in the booth asked us if we had any Tobacco, Alcohol, Firearms and explosives, to which the answer was “No Tobacco, 2 bottles of wine, no firearms or explosives”, he stamped our Passports and said “Welcome to Canada, enjoy your stay” and waved us through. Next sign we saw was …….

And we then drove to our Canadian site for the next 3 weeks, Fort Camping, Brae Island, Fort Langley, British Columbia.

That will be my next post, our stay in Vancouver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forks, Washington

I had booked this site in complete ignorance that Forks was the setting for the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer which were later turned into the Twilight films. Luckily we did not see any vampires!! Of course our children thought it was a huge joke that the “parentals” didn’t realise the significance of Forks!!

To be honest we booked this site to give ourselves a bit of a rest after the guided tours of Bend and Portland (thank you Judy and Susan!!), as we looked at the guide books and it appeared that they were not many touristy things to do. That shows that you should never trust guide books as they might be coming from a different perspective from you. They were right about Forks itself as apart from a good Fabric/Quilting shop and a rather run down timber museum there was very little to recommend it. The people were friendly and the supermarkets were fine so that was all we needed.

The site we stayed at Riverview RV Park was really excellent. Good sites, not too busy, and really friendly owners.

All parked up.
Laundry and Shower block was brand new.

After a couple of days of doing nothing (bliss) we set off to take a look at a local seaport called La Plush. Amazingly pretty place, rather like a Cornish crabbing village but on a larger scale as you will see. Loads of wildlife including bald eagles and seals, plus a crab fishing fleet and numerous sport fishermen catching cod and halibut.

La Push restaurant and totem pole as the town is part of the Quileute Indian Reservation.
The port at La Push.
Halibut caught by a sport fisherman.
Cod caught by the same man.
A crab boat. Crab, as in England, has to landed alive, but they do it by having a 3,000 gallon tank built into the boat. No store pots required!!
The tank full of crab.
After 10mins of pumping you can see the live crab more easily. There was about a ton of crab. They call them Dungeness crab, it is like our edible crab, but with smaller claws.
A bald eagle perched waiting for fish.
Another picture.
La Push beach – never seen so much driftwood (or so I thought).
The channel into the harbour comes around the island and you enter between the jetty and the island.
The main channel into the harbour which is to the right. Beyond the bank at the top of the picture is Rialto beach.

A beautiful place made even more beautiful by the discovery of Rialto beach which is reached by driving down the road on the other side of the Quillayute River that runs into the port.

View down the Quillyate river towards La Push port.
Rialto Beach, crashing surf and masses of driftwood (much more than on La Push beach).
A panoramic view of the beach.
The forest comes right down to the beach.
Huge driftwood logs including huge trees still with roots that are apparently tossed up onto the beach by winter storms.

This beach is one of those places that takes your breath away and makes you sit back and just enjoy your surroundings, and it wasn’t even mentioned in the guide book!!

The next place we found was the Makah Cultural and Research Center at Neah Bay, which is on the Makah Indian Reservation right at the top left hand corner of Washington State. To get there you drive along RT 112 which winds along the northern coast of Washington State. Across the Strait of Juan de Fuca is Vancouver Island, our first sighting of Canada.

Vancouver Island across the really blue sea.

The road itself was really interesting as it was right on the edge of the coast and in some cases they had carved the cliffs out to accommodate it.

RT 112 hanging on the edge of the coast.
Cliffs carved away to get the road in.

The Makah Indian Museum was really interesting, with most of the artefacts in the museum excavated from an archaeological dig. The site of the dig was a Makah village further down the coast at Ozette that had been completely covered by a mud slide sometime in the last 300-500 years. A bit like Pompeii it was a sudden event, so complete Makah Indian longhouses had been engulfed and the people and cultural artefacts had been frozen in time. It is well worth a visit, but I can only show you external pictures as for some strange reason they wouldn’t allow photographs to be taken inside the museum.

The Makah Indian Museum
Carved figures outside the museum.
Museum entrance.

Neah Bay itself was an interesting place, with a small port and some shops.

Neah Bay and its port.
Sea lions had settled in on the dock.

Next day we had a closer look around Forks, still didn’t discover anything of interest except this (this is going to bore most readers except if you are a train buff!).

There was an example of a very unusual train that was used in the logging industry around this area. It is called The Shay Locomotive and it featured a steam driven, all wheel drive engine that could pull huge loads up very steep inclines and didn’t need steel rails, it could work on wooden rails.

Instead of a normal steam cylinder driving the front wheels like a normal steam engine, the steam was used to drive vertical cylinders which in turn drove universal joints geared onto each axle including the tender, which meant although they ran very slowly the tractive power was immense. It’s a bit like putting a transverse engine into a train.

The vertical cylinders that provided the driving power.
The series of transfer boxes along the side of the train that drove each individual axle.
The complete train with the vertical cylinders and the transfer boxes on the front AND back axles if you look carefully.

On our last day in Forks we went back to have another look at Rialto Beach on a beautifully sunny day (which boded well for our upcoming visit to Port Townsend). It was as wild as ever but it was lovely to just sit there and watch the Pacific waves crash onto the beach.

Sun shining on Rialto Beach.
The islands just off La Push.
Island way off the coast that used to be part of the mainland.
Power of the sea, a huge 70ft plus tree, plus roots just tossed up onto the beach during the winter.

The next day we drove to Port Townsend. More of this in the next post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portland and Fort Stevens National Park

The drive to Portland was quite short but quite complicated with all the bridges over the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Didn’t help that we met a bridge swing queue!! Also it was my last chance to put the RV through a truck wash, but it did look good afterwards!!

Here it is parked up at our site at Sandy Riverfront RV  and the river was right behind us.

Our site.
Sunset at the site.
The view behind us down the Columbia river.

We had come to Portland not only to see the sights but also to meet up with Susan Dean, Anne’s cousin. She promised to show us the sights in and around Portland, and she lived up to her promise.

On the Saturday we visited the Chinese Garden in Portland. The garden was built in 1999-2000 and was a collaboration with the Chinese city of Suzhou which Portland is twinned with. It was built by 65 artisans from Suzhou to a design by Kuang Zhen, with over 500 tons of rock including special Tai Hu rocks from Lake Tai in China. All the wood used was also imported and are from native trees of China. A very interesting and tranquil place, although when we visited it a Taekwondo demonstration was taking place, which made it a bit noisier!!

All the floors were made with individual stones formed into patterns.
All the woodwork was hand carved.
Hand made tiles and end caps.
The pavilions appeared to float over the central lake.
All sorts of flowers and plants throughout the garden.
An example of a Tai Hu rock carved by water.
The central lake.
Hand built patterned walls were everywhere.
The Taekwondo demonstration.
Some of the peonies grown in the garden.

From here we walked into downtown Portland where there was a Saturday Market and a Funfair.

One of Portland’s many bridges, but this is unusual as it has a central lift section.
The Saturday market.
A historical society group. The lady in the red Elizabethan dress had hand made the entire costume.
The Funfair. Wouldn’t catch me on that!!
Dragon boats ready for a race the next day.

We then took a trip on an aerial tramway to the hospital complex where Susan used to work (now retired), but it also gave you good views of Portland and its surroundings.

On the way up. The automatic ticket machines had failed so we got a free ride!!
View across Portland to the mountains from the top. Note the number of bridges!!
Not sure which snow capped mountain was we could just see (MT Hood perhaps?).

 

The gondolier and the view down the river.

The next day Susan took us on a scenic drive to see Mt Hood, via the Multnomah Falls and Bonneville Dam that Judy Goff had recommended because of the salmon ladder.

Prior to this we also stopped at a viewpoint that let you see the Columbia River Gorge.

The view up the Columbia river gorge.
Susan and I at the entrance to the Falls.
The Multnomah falls from far away.
Closer view with bridge that was currently closed due to last year’s forest fire closing the trails.
Two old codgers in the way of a nice view!!
The light playing on the falls gave it a very misty image.
The Bonneville Dam with lock gates (huge for really big ships) to the extreme left.
The spillway, wouldn’t fancy falling into that!!
Salmon on the ladder passing one of the viewing windows.
People count the Salmon as they swim up the river.
The Salmon ladder, tough going by the look of it.

Then we got to Mt Hood, and the Timberline Lodge. Some ski runs were still open in June, and the mountain still had quite a lot of snow on it. It is used as an Olympic skiing training centre as it has ski runs open all year round.

Mt Hood.
The lodge car park looking up the mountain. Notice the snow mobiles.
Snowmobiles dressing the ski runs.
People cross country Skiing.
Mt Hood statistics.
Still loads of snow.
The very impressive Timberline Lodge.

Keeping up the pace, Susan took us to see Mt St Helens the following day. This is the volcano that erupted in a huge explosion in May 1980, resulting in the top of the mountain being blown off, and one entire side collapsing leaving a horseshoe shaped caldera. The eruption killed fifty-seven people, and destroyed 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles (24 km) of railways, and 185 miles (298 km) of highway. The elevation of summit of St Helens was reduced from 9,677 ft (2,950 m) to 8,363 ft (2,549 m) and it’s mass was reduced by 0.7 cubic miles which was spread over the surrounding countryside as ash and a pyroclastic flow avalanche which flattened an area of 230 sq. miles. An entire lake and recreation area called Spirit Lake was also destroyed with the remains of the lake containing hundreds of logs blown over in the explosion. It continues to erupt to this day, but not as violently, and is still an active volcano.

As you drive up to Johnston Ridge Observatory you see the ash fields and the trees that were flattened by the explosion.

Ash fields covering the valleys.
Flattened trees.
More flattened trees.
It was cloudy day but all of a sudden the clouds parted to show the caldera and the current volcano cone.
Mt St Helens with clouds obscuring the cone, but you can see the horseshoe shaped caldera.
A longer view showing the devastation in front of the observatory. It was here that a volcanologist David Johnston lost his life as the volcano erupted and he announced “Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it”. His body was never found.
Even after 40 years it still looks like a moonscape with very little vegetation.

On the Tuesday the “Big Beast” had a first full service, which was required in the terms of our extended warranty, so we had to get up early, disconnect everything and hitch up the Spark. Susan was expecting us at her house later in the evening to meet more of Anne’s and Susan’s relations.

As is usual with the best laid plans of mice and men the service ran longer than was expected so we had to agree to leave “Big Beast” overnight, so we now had nowhere to sleep. Luckily Susan had a spare room and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer so we spent the evening meeting Anne’s relations and then stayed at her house. Susan’s son Orion (and his family) was one of those relations, plus some other very nice people we will someday figure out how we were related!! But it was a very good evening and we enjoyed meeting everyone, plus we also found out that Orion and his family would be at our next site, Fort Stevens, at the weekend and we promised to meet up with them.

So next day we went to pick up “Big Beast” after saying goodbye to Susan, we were due to move on the next day, only to find it still wasn’t ready and could we come back at midday. We returned as asked and all was well, so we drove back to our last night at the campsite.

The next day we moved on to Fort Stevens State Park, near Astoria in the top left hand corner of Oregon. We decided to camp there so we could see the rest of the Oregon coast down to the point of our trip North from Depoe Bay and the Washington coast north of the Columbia river which has a peninsular called Long Beach.

We had a very shaded but nice site in amongst the trees of the campground.

Our site.
Deep in the forest.
Big site with 8 camping areas.

Fort Stevens has 3 or 4 artillery bunkers that were manned in World War II. It is the only place in the USA that was bombarded in that war. A Japanese submarine came in close and used its gun to fire on the Fort. The battery retaliated  but the only damage caused on either side was a shell that exploded on the Fort’s baseball field!!

The southern arm of the Southern Jetty that together with the Northern Jetty protects the mouth of the Columbia river extends from the top of the state park out into the river.

Southern Jetty
Beaches looking down the Oregon coast.

The Columbia river entrance and sand bar is a very dangerous entrance to one of the main shipping rivers in the USA. Because of this the US Coastguard has their National Motor Lifeboat Training School based there as the sea conditions can be some of the worst on the Pacific Coast.

Nearby is the Astoria bridge that joins Oregon to Washington.

This is the bridge we will cross when we take the RV to Washington!!

As promised Orion, Caitlin and Rose and friends turned up on the Saturday and we were introduced to the delights of s’mores toasted on their campfire (American campers love their campfires!!).

Orion, Caitlin and Rose

If you can imagine a sweet biscuit with chocolate on one side with a fire-roasted marshmallow on top and another biscuit making the sandwich. It was one of the sweetest things I have ever tasted and set my teeth on edge. The Americans feed these to their kids on camping trips, no wonder they are so hyper!! Rose (Orion’s daughter) and her friend decided to go off and draw with charcoal on the camp road and very good they were too. Here they are holding the hands of their charcoal friend!!

Original artwork by Rose and her friend.

It was nice meeting them again, but I will give s’mores a miss next time.

On the Monday we explored the Oregon coast south of us. It was a mixture of a sort of US version of Blackpool called Seaside and more upmarket seaside towns with galleries and gift shops.

Seaside, the end of the Lewis & Clark trail, two early pioneers trying to find a North West passage. I doubt they would recognise it today.
Hotels behind the beach.
Somehow I thought we would find one of these!!
Apartments at the more upmarket Cannon Beach
Lots of driftwood artwork
Beaches are fantastic here as with the rest of Oregon.
Another scenic view!!
Imagine living in this house, what a view!! I guess the sobering thought is that it is slap bang in the middle of a tsunami zone!!
More miles of Oregon beach. How this state doesn’t have more tourists is beyond me.

We turned round at Manzanita the farthest town we had reached north of Depoe Bay.

Two kite surfers on Manzanita beach.

We got back to Astoria early in the evening on a lovely day and drove up to local landmark called The Column. It is a tower that you can climb up but it also has a beautiful painting all around it depicting the Lewis & Clark trail.

The Astoria Column
Looking towards the Cascades.
A panoramic view.
Looking towards Washington.

Next day we headed north into Washington to explore Long Beach. First stop was Ilwaco , a fishing port with a maritime museum with early lifeboats in it.

Ilwaco port.
Early lifeboat and life preservers through the ages.

Just beyond here was the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse with the US Coastguard practising helicopter cliff rescues.

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.
Coastguard helicopter.
Winching the winch man back up.
Further up the coast, there be whales!!

Long Beach as well as being a very long beach(!!) has a big oyster farming  area and there were mounds of oyster shells all over the place.

Oyster shell mound.
Oyster Boat
Someone else fancied a meal!!
Looking back to Oregon from the Washington side of the Columbia River.

On our last day we looked around Astoria. It has a very good maritime museum with an ex-Columbia lightship as an exhibit.

Astoria’s fortune was built on the Salmon canneries.
Picture of the cannery workforce
Exhibit that shows why the Columbia river mouth is known as the Graveyard of the Pacific. Each dot is wrecked ship.
Five miles of Astoria bridge.
The Columbia lightship.
A trolley bus that runs along Astoria seafront.

The next day we left for Riverview RV Park  just outside of Forks Washington which will be my next post.

I should also point out that our RV Map has been updated all the way to Vancouver although the BLOG is not quite there yet!!

 

 

 

 

 

Bend and Depoe Bay

From Chiloquin we moved on to Bend to meet up with a ex-work colleague from M&D times, Robert Goff (RG) and his wife Judy.

I first met RG when he was part of the M&D development team that produced Millennium which we then converted to work on computers in the UK. He lived in Natick, Boston then, but he and Judy retired to Bend, Oregon on the other side of the USA and they have not regretted it.

Scandia RV Park, nice site all on our own.

We arrived at Scandia RV Park in plenty of time, so we agreed to go to RG and Judy’s house to meet up, and go out with RG for a Mexican meal as Judy had choir practice that evening. We had, after all, a lot to catch up on. Judy had also been busy and planned what we should see over the next four days.

So we relaxed over the Mexican meal and found out what we had all done in the intervening years.

The next day as promised Judy drove us around Mt Bachelor to Elk Lake and Hosmer Lake. A lot of the land around Bend is covered by old lava fields from volcanos that are now extinct.

Lava field.
Winter transport at Elk Lake.
Elk Lake
Mt. Bachelor from Hosmer Lake
RG, Judy and Anne enjoying the view.

We then returned to Bend where Judy and RG took us on an impromptu tour of downtown Bend, and we ended up in a shoe shop as Anne needed new trainers after all the walking!! RG and I took the opportunity to try out some beer samplers at Deschutes Brewery!!

Artwork on our tour.
This was in Gas Alley. Apparently the art work is changed on a monthly basis.

After a meal Judy drove us up Pilot Butte which is a extinct cinder cone 480ft high right in the middle of Bend. We were lucky it was a sunny evening, so we got a 360° view of Bend and it’s surroundings.

Cannot really see the detail but it gives you an idea of the views.

 

The following day Judy had planned another journey via Sisters to Sahalie Falls and Clear Lake.  The reason we went via Sisters, was it was on the way anyway, but it also contained Sister’s Quilt Shop, so you can probably guess who wanted to pay that a visit. RG and I walked around Sisters while the ladies were in the shop. Interesting place with some old buildings and a Clockmakers that actually still hand makes clocks, some of which he has actually exported to Switzerland!!

Smoke House.
Lots of ironwork around Sisters.
A rival to Blackpool’s pink princess carriages!!
One of the older shops and more ironwork.

Next stop was Sahalie Falls. Not sure how much water was pouring over these falls but it was quite a sight.

Below the Falls.
Above the Falls.
RG trying to hide behind Judy.
No hiding place!

Clear Lake lived up to its name, the water was crystal clear and you could see some of the petrified tree trunks in the water.

Clear Lake.
Petrified tree stump in the clear blue water
Colours in the lake. Brown is water over sand. green is weed showing through and blue is clear melt water over rock.
Another tree stump. Nice reflections.

After a long day we had a very enjoyable meal at the Pine Tavern in Bend.

Saturday saw us getting up early to go and see a race called Pole, Pedal, Paddle. It also should include run but it doesn’t begin with P!! Competitors start at the top of Mt Bachelor with a 200yd sprint uphill in snow carrying either skis or a snowboard, then they ski/snowboard down Mt Bachelor’s Leeway trail (about 2 miles), then they cross country ski around a 5 mile course, then they swap to bikes for a 22 mile ride to Bend, then they run again for 5 miles, and then switch to a canoe/kayak for a paddle over a 1.5 mile course with upstream and downstream legs on the Deschutes River and finally ½ mile sprint (in my case it would be a crawl if I ever made it that far!!) to the finish. It was exhausting just watching them.

Kayaks and Canoes lined up ready for the Competitors to arrive.
And more. They must be mad!! Quite a lot of Charities supported plus local Sports facilities.
The eventual winner, he was quite a way ahead of the others.
The ladies winner, think she was either 5th or 6th overall.
This looks like hard work!!
Got very busy when the rest of the field arrived.

After this we adjourned for lunch and watched the rest of the field from a restaurant!! We then went back to RG and Judy’s as they had arranged an evening dinner to which they had invited RG’s brother Ed and his wife, plus some cousins that also lived nearby.

Anne and I went to the High Desert Museum, just outside of Bend on US97, on the Sunday morning. Very interesting place with lots of exhibits and some amazing birds.

Local porcupine.
Bobcat
Local tribe Tipi
Bald Eagle
Golden Eagle
Look carefully by the big tree trunk, there is an owl hiding.
Very interesting talk on raptors, plus a kestrel.
Steam powered saw mill, which they only fire up on certain days, unfortunately not Sundays!!

We then went back to RG & Judy’s. Judy had some tickets for a concert in Bend in the afternoon which she and Anne were going to. RG and I decided to try the Cider sampler at Atlas ciders. Must admit I preferred the ciders to the beers and the less fruity ciders (raspberry and other red ciders not to my taste!!). Then had a pint of the real stuff, before we adjourned to a restaurant called Greggs Grill for  a very nice evening meal. We then returned to their house where RG managed to phone John Landry (ex M&D head of development) and it was nice to catch up with him.

Regretfully after this we had to leave, as we had to get up early for a long drive to Depoe Bay on the Oregon coast the next day. We really enjoyed meeting up with RG and Judy after all these years, and if you are both reading this, thank you for your hospitality over our four days in Bend.

Then onto Depoe Bay on the Oregon coast, almost 200 miles to the West from Bend. The journey involved driving through some magnificent mountain passes.

Couldn’t quite get the top of the mountain in!!

And we arrived at the Sea and Sand RV Park to these amazing views and sunsets.

View from the RV
Sunset over the Pacific Oregon coast.

We had two days here before we moved onto Portland so we decided to go North on the first day and South on the second.

Well all I can say is Oregon has some huge beaches with hardly any people on them, and some marvellous scenery on a par with Grand Sur. Perhaps we were a bit early in the season as they were almost empty!!

Bit grey in the morning but it got sunnier.
Almost empty sand!!
Talk about a long beach!!
Lots of offshore islands.
Manzanita Beach
Magnificent.

The journey South didn’t disappoint either. We went down as far as Dunes City and stopped at various places on the way.

Sea Lions.

And we spotted whales!!

Look at the open patch in the foam, that is a whales back.
This one is better, thar she blows!!
Just diving.

Amazing thing was they were only about 300yds offshore!!

So after two days of driving, luckily we then had a short drive to Portland, our next stop and my next post.

 

 

 

 

Into Oregon, Chiloquin and Klamath Falls and Crater Lake.

There are going to be quite a few updates over next few days as I am 3 stops behind so I hope I do not bore you all too much.

On the way up US-97 we passed Grass Lake. Rather aptly named as unless you look closely it looks like grass rather than a lake, but it is there!!

Look carefully and you can see water!!
It was huge and looked like a green pasture.
Parked in the Rest Area.

So we entered Oregon on US-97 on the way up to Bend but our first stop was just outside Chiloquin at Waterwheel RV Park and Camping. What a lovely site right next to the Williamson River, with  views up and down the river and loads of local wildlife, from Canada geese (they get everywhere!) to freshwater Pelicans (didn’t even know they existed until we got here).

Driving past Klamath lake, another huge one that was created by a dam.
Our site at Waterwheel RV Park
Our view out the front window!!
Some of the wildlife!!
I think the waterwheel is a bit worse for wear!!
An Oregon sunset

For the first day, as the weather forecast possible showers, we decided to wait until the following day, which promised better weather, to see Crater Lake . So we drove south past Lake Klamath to the town of Klamath Falls. Now when we mentioned this to Nancy the lady who runs Waterwheel RV Park (she is a mine of information and a lovely person), she said “Well I hope you are not expecting to see the falls!!”.  Apparently it is a local joke that people come to Klamath Falls to see the “Falls” but there are none!!

We arrived and wondered where everyone was as the main street wasn’t very busy.

Klamath County admin offices, with porticoes!!
A very Art Deco First National Bank now a Mexican restaurant.
This is where everyone in Klamath is,  in the park at what we would call a Fete!!

It was at this Fete as we were walking around we came upon a local beekeeper called Katharina Davitt. She is German, having met her husband who was in the US forces in Germany, married him and returned to US with him. Thanks to her we discovered what those little boxes in California were for, as they turned out to be used to turn virgin Queen bees into mated Queens so they can start a new bee colony. Apparently every hive has special queen cells where queen larvae are fed exclusively on royal jelly, which is what makes them Queens rather than ordinary worker bees. Now they tend to all hatch at once, and then fight to kill each other until there is only one left to be mated to become a Queen. So a lot of Queens are killed which is not good in an area that needs lots of bees like California. Now experienced beekeepers can spot the virgin queens hatching and they put each of the virgin Queens in a separate little box as in the picture so that drones can find them and mate with them to produce a mated Queen. Apparently the mated queens can be sold to other beekeepers to attract a swarm and start a new hive and they sell for up to $35 each!! The field we saw had 2 or 3 thousand boxes, so if you do it correctly there is quite a lot of money to be made!! By the way the boxes are all different colours so the Queen can recognise her own mini hive!! So what we had seen was a Queen bee mating area!!

Katharina Davitt is a fascinating lady who knew an awful lot about bees and has even written a book on bees and is a member of the Klamath Basin Beekeepers Association . If you visit the Public Outreach menu item in the left menu you can see what Katharina is doing to educate people on bees.

A Southern Pacific train in the park. Just for Bob J!!
A blossoming cherry.
The park was right on the edge of the lake.

When we returned to the RV park two freshwater pelicans had taken up residence on the river.

Arriving opposite our RV.
Settling down for the night.
They must have well insulated feet as they stayed here all night and the water wasn’t very warm!!

Next day we were off to Crater Lake, but before we left we noticed only one of the pelicans had left and the other had stayed as it appeared to have a damaged wing.

You can see its wing hanging in the water. We let Nancy know and she said she would phone the local wildlife rangers.

On the drive up to the lake we passed an area that has a very steep canyon that contained fumaroles caused by the immense eruption of Mt Mazama (the volcano that blew its top to create Crater Lake). Super heated dust and pumice filled in the valley and the river was buried but turned to steam in the heat and created the fumaroles as the steam escaped. Over time the dust and pumice was washed away leaving the harder fumaroles.

The fumaroles are sticking out of the far canyon wall.

As we drove on there was more and more snow on the side of the road.

And then at the lower visitor centre there was even more snow.

Now above the cars.

And then we reached the rim of the Crater and it was very deep. They get an AVERAGE of 44ft per year!!

Snow drifts around the back of the visitor centre.
And still up on its roof.
These poles are to guide the snow ploughs. they are at least 25ft high.
The road around the rim beyond Discovery Point was still closed and not ploughed, not expected to open until late June.

And then we saw the lake. Wow, what a sight, almost indescribable, so I will just let you look at the pictures.

The island in the middle, called Wizard island, is the remains of the volcanic cone.

The lake is the deepest in the USA and is also the clearest, objects can still be seen 142ft from the surface.

It was a beautiful day and with no wind on the lake, as you can see the rim was reflected in the lake all the way around.

More reflections.
And again.
The remains of the cinder cone on Wizard Island.

An amazing place. If you ever get the chance to visit on a day like ours DO NOT MISS IT, your breath will be taken away the moment you see it!!

One thing that amused me. Apparently they only plough up to the edge of the roadway where the poles are. So they constructed these tunnels so you can still access the restrooms when the building is completely covered in snow. Ladies left, Gents right.
Unfortunately the wing damaged Pelican was still there when we got back.

On our last day we took a journey right around Lake Klamath (about 65 miles) and it just so happened there was a quilt shop on the other side called Quilting Sisters in a place called Rocky Point. Haven’t got any pictures, Anne has, but it was an interesting place run by an 80+ year old lady, who told us “kids” to drive safely!!

A designated burn on the way. It means an official burn to clean up the forest floor.
Looking back at the lake and towards Crater lake with the designated burn to the left.
Another pelican further round the lake.
Canada geese goslings feeding on an island on the river at the camp ground. The pelican was still there at the top of the picture.

And that was the end of our stay and we never did find out what happened to the pelican although he/she was looking better and flexing its wing when we left.

We then moved on to Bend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orland, North California, almonds, olives and wines.

From Yosemite we moved into Northern California. California seems to have been going on forever, and this was going to be our last long stop in the state before we moved on to Oregon.

We had heard that this was a place to visit as it was renowned for its olive oil, almonds and most importantly wine!!

We booked into Parkway RV near Orland and again we managed to get into a very nice campground. lovely shady pitch, well off the Interstate, so nice and quiet at night. Needed the shade as the temperatures were rising again (92F/34C) and it turned out they had a nice swimming pool. It was while I was in the pool in the evening that I found out from some Canadians there was going to be a wine tasting run by the wife of the park owner.

It was an interesting experience and I returned to the RV having tasted a few local wines and without pictures as I had forgotten my camera!!

Pull through site so plenty of room and shade.
Spark parked behind.

The next day we then set off to explore the area and found a massive dam called Black Butte Dam and behind it was an equally massive lake called, you guessed it, Black Butte Lake!!

Black Butte Dam
Dam across part of the lake
You can fish, canoe, kayak,  almost anything except swim.
Map of part of the lake. in total 16 miles long.
On the way back we spotted hundreds of these in a field. Bet you can’t guess what they are. See my next post in Oregon.

The next day we decided to go East from Orland instead of West. We drove to a little town called Paradise and what should we find – it is built on a Butte called Butte Creek Canyon.

Now some of you may not know what a Butte is. Picture those western films with the hugely high rocks all alone in the desert. This one wasn’t quite as magnificent, but quite remarkable as it was long and thin and had a road going up it to Paradise.

The Butte and the valley extending into the distance.
The road that runs along the top of the Butte with sheer drops either side.
Looking down the valley.
A view across the valley to the Butte the other side. The valley floor is over 1,000ft straight down.
What can be found in the valley and on the Butte.

In Paradise itself there was a local Park called Bille Park that had been built on the side of the Butte with lots of unusual trees and plants and an ornamental creek with cast iron bridges. It was very a tranquil place just to sit and relax.

One of the bridges and guess who.
A view up the park showing the creek and one of the bridges and a cupola.

On the way back we thought we would explore the valley floor and came across something we were not expecting. There always seems to be something around the corner in America, and this was the longest 3 span covered bridge in the USA, called Honey Run Bridge. It is no longer used as a bridge as in the late 1950’s someone crashed into one of the supports but it was repaired and preserved, and can be used for weddings!!

Honey Run Bridge entrance
Inside the bridge showing the main span.
The bridge covering that was put on to preserve the bridge deck.
One of the main beams showing how it was encased in metal.
Anne and I in and on the bridge!!
The bridge that replaced it, not as pretty!!

The temperatures even in the evening were quite high so we ate outside.

On the next day I did some RV maintenance and Anne decided the light was so good she would use some of the fabric she had been buying. We also went into Orland and bought some local almonds and olive oil.

And the day after that we left Orland and headed to our last stop in California next to Mt Shasta.

A lake in Northern California just off I-5. The blue water is snow melt.
The rest area near the lake.
Parked up for the night.
Mt Shasta in the sunshine, the view from our RV.

 

Mt Shasta with the sun setting on it.

And the day after we left California and entered Oregon.

Yosemite

From San Francisco we travelled across country to visit Yosemite National Park. I had booked us in to Yosemite Pines RV Park which is close to the town of Groveland.

Looked lovely on the website (as indeed it was as you will see in a minute) but what I hadn’t realised was it was 3,000ft up in the mountains and to get to Groveland you had to use US120 which climbs up the side of a mountain along a twisty road with quite large drop offs on the side of the road. I wasn’t someone’s favourite person!!

We came up that!! And we have to go up and down it to visit some of the interesting places in the valley and do the grocery shopping.

As I said though the campsite was well worth it with a lovely position halfway up a hill in amongst the pine trees.

Level site with full service hook-ups halfway up a hill.
In the middle of a pine forest.
Another view, lovely place.

The next day we decided to explore and go up to the entrance of Yosemite National Park. Unfortunately the weather got gradually worse, with low cloud and fog and then it started to hail, so we decided to turn back and visit some of the towns in the valley.

On the way into Yosemite and why we turned back!!
On the way back down we saw the results of a massive fire in 2013.
Lake Don Pedro
Attempt at a selfie, sun in eyes!!
The lake, caused by a dam, swallowed the town of Jacksonville.
We visited Jamestown, a historic town with wooden sidewalks.
On the way back to the campground it got a bit foreboding!!
And this happened, a massive thunderstorm!!

But by the next morning it was all dry.

Next day we decided that we had left the laundry too long and the forecast didn’t look good. Although to be honest it was a nice day and it gave us a rest!!

So the day after we tried Yosemite again as the forecast looked good, and sure enough it turned out to be a lovely day and Yosemite didn’t disappoint. Now, I am at this point going to have to apologise as this post is going to get really picture heavy, as no amount of words are going to explain this magnificent place. Wherever you looked stunning views, vistas and ……… so here goes.

The entrance sign.
Almost the same place as two days ago, but a world of difference in the weather.
Half Dome in the distance, nearly there.
Bridalveil falls from a distance
Cascade Creek Falls on the way to the valley, above the road.
And below the road.
Bridalveil Falls, getting closer.
And closer.
And finally almost underneath getting soaked!!
El Capitan. The road into, and out of Yosemite, goes in a one way loop, so this was taken from the road farthest away.
Looking back at Bridalveil falls.
El Capitan again.
Yosemite falls photographed across a lovely meadow.
Same falls close up.
And a wide angle view.
Falls from a wooden bridge across a river that had trout in it. A very peaceful place.
Getting closer to Half Dome at the end of the valley. Even though it is called Half Dome geologists do not believe it was ever a full dome.
Closer still.
Snow on top of the Dome.
Yosemite falls on the way back, close to the Visitor Centre.
Granite rock peaks behind the Visitor Centre (that’s its roof).
A view back down the absolutely stunning valley.
One of the many smaller falls.
El Capitan closer up. A sheer cliff that rises to 3,000ft above the valley floor. Remember that finger of rock half way up.
A bit further round showing both faces
A rescue helicopter. This was called out because there were 8 (yes 8!!) climbers on the face of El Capitan that day and one of them had fallen about halfway up the climb just above that finger of rock. When he fell he broke his ankle, so his partner was now trying to get him and all their kit back to the ground. Bear in mind they started at 8am and this picture was taken about 2.45pm, so it was touch and go.
And this was another group of 3 climbers at about 2.45pm. You see that big bag under the top climber, it contains a larger balcony structure that just before it gets dark they fix to the sheer face and they sleep on it overnight so they can start again next morning. All I can say is rather them than me!!
Bridalveil falls from the other side of the valley.
Looking back down the valley, El Capitan on the left and Bridalveil Falls on the right.
Leaving this most magnificent place was rather sad but the wonders continued with a picture of the river leaving the valley.

As I said when I started, words cannot really describe it but I hope my pictures have given you an idea of what it is like. And if you ever get the chance to visit it yourself you will NOT be disappointed.

Back at the campground I finally got a picture of a blue scrub jay. There was quite a lot at the campground and they are a beautiful blue.

Our last day was spent touring Columbia Old Town State park. This town has been preserved much as it was in the heyday of the Californian Gold Rush. Here though they used hydraulic mining, using high pressure hoses to wash all the mud and sediment into the gold sluices.  Between 1850 to 1870 they reckon over a billion dollars of gold was found and at one time Columbia was the second largest town in California.

You can take a stagecoach ride around the town.
Brady the haberdashery.
Main Street
The blacksmiths.
Coffee and chocolate brownies in the old coffee shop.
The hand pumping fire engines.
Another view of Main St.
Penny whistle player. Lots of people in costume all over the place.
The gold sluices.
We were puzzled when we were driving in why the entire countryside for miles around Columbia had loads of exposed rocks like this. This is, of course, what you get when you wash all the soil and sediment into the sluices with powerful hydraulic monitors. Imagine very high powered hoses!!
A hydraulic monitor that shot the powerful jets of water at the gold diggings. Eventually this type of mining was stopped as it was too destructive and anyone downstream of the diggings suffered flooding and sediment problems.

That was our last day at Yosemite, so we moved on (back down that incline!!) and further north into the northern valleys of California where almonds, olives and grapes are grown.

I have updated  our RV Map but it is a bit ahead of the blog as it show our route to Bend, Oregon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Francisco, Alcatraz and Vallejo

Arrived in San Francisco and set up at Tradewinds RV in Vallejo in what we in England would call the “suburbs”. I had already booked us on a trip to Alcatraz at 12pm midday the next day, so needed to discover how to get there!!

We found out that down the road about 3 miles away was the Vallejo Ferry Terminal, which had parking for $5 for the day, and the fares in and out of San Francisco were $7.50 per “senior” each way. That matched very nicely to the 25 mile drive, $10 tolls for the bridges and $25 per day parking so we decided to take the ferry as there was one at 10.00am that got in at 11.00am.

Very interesting “ferry”!! Sets off gently down the river at 8 knots and then after about 10 minutes accelerates up to 33 knots for the rest of the trip to San Francisco Ferry Terminal.

Vallejo Ferry Terminal
You can just see the double hulled ferry on the other side of the pier (sorry haven’t got a better picture).
Seating on board in the upper tier.
Hell of a wake at 33 knots.
GPS Navigation and speed in case you didn’t believe me.

 

One of the many bridges around San Francisco, this the Bay Bridge, 5 miles long and dual tiered.
Golden Gate Bridge from a distance.
San Francisco skyline.
Nearly there, 1 hour later, dead on time!!

Then we walked from the Ferry Terminal to the Alcatraz Tours terminal. By the way an FYI if anyone else decides to do this. Make sure you book through the OFFICIAL Alcatraz cruise site https://www.alcatrazcruises.com/ as there are all sorts of other sites on the internet that charge you anything up to $15 extra per person to book the same trip!!.

Boarding Line, boats are every 1/2 hour.
The Alcatraz “Cruise”.
Alcatraz Island
Do as you are told or else!!

After you land as it is a National Parks Service site your ferry is greeted by a National Parks Ranger that tells you all the rules for your visit and then “enjoy yourselves”.

I have chosen a few pictures to try and do Alcatraz justice, but if you get the chance do it yourself it is well worth it and my pictures cannot show everything we saw.

Just in case you didn’t realise what the purpose of Alcatraz was.
A guard watchtower and someone being watched!!
The permanent warder staff on the island had gardens.
The gardens terraced along the hillside.
A typical cell, not very salubrious!!
The library, a perk for the inmates who were good!!
A warder that was killed when four prisoners tried to escape, holding warders hostage and demanding their keys. This guy refused!!
The marks in the floor are caused by grenade fragments after US Marines stormed the building to stop the attempted escape. They don’t mess around in the USA!!
A typical Warders uniform.
Alcatraz lighthouse.
Golden Gate bridge from Alcatraz.
One of the cells where 3 prisoners used dummy heads to fool the warders, made famous by the film “Escape from Alcatraz” starring Clint Eastwood.
The services duct they climbed up to the roof.
One of the terraces looking over the Alcatraz gardens, and it also shows the steep climb.
Two visitors
Back in San Francisco.

We returned to main ferry terminal and caught the 5.15pm ferry back to Vallejo.

The next day we did the same ferry trip but this time stayed on it as we hadn’t realised that it docked at the main ferry terminal and then hopped down to Pier 41, which would have saved us the walk!!

Then we did our usual thing and bought a Hop On Hop Off Bus San Francisco tour for 2 days. We did the complete 2.5 hour trip first to suss everything out.

San Francisco electric trolley cars
Picture speaks for itself!!
Tallest building.
Main Ferry Terminal from the other side.
If you have corner lot how do you build on it? Simply build a triangle!! The offices in the point must be cramped.
Church window.
Closer to the bridge!!
Alcatraz from the bus.
San Francisco version of the Kew glass houses.
Older houses “Victorian” that survived the 1906 fire.
More survivors
City Hall. It is complete isolated from the ground on gimbals, so it will survive an earthquake.
This the gate that the prisoner railcars boarded the ferry which also had tracks, and unloaded to tracks on the island. Thus the prisoners never had to leave the train.
Anne’s shop.
The famous Fisherman’s Wharf.
Sea Lions at Pier 39. No one know why they adopted this Pier, they just turned up!!
Riding back to Ferry Terminal on an electric trolleybus.

On our second day we decided to go all the way to Golden Gate bridge and take the bus that went across the bridge and then went through the “city” of Sausalito and then back across the bridge. We also drove the Spark in as it was Saturday and the ferry only had four sailings back and forth.

A pair of legs I wasn’t quick enough getting on the previous day.
We’re off across the Golden Gate bridge. Glad I am not driving, traffic is horrendous!!
One of the bridge casements, not a very good picture as I was downstairs going this way across the bridge, there was no room upstairs!!
Cyclists!!
Sausalito with houses on stilts built up the hill, hope they have got the earthquake calculations right!!
San Francisco on the way back, got on the top this time!!
Bridge Ahoy!! I felt silly, there is me in a polo shirt and shorts and all the Americans have thick coats and hoodies on!!

 

Nearly there.
This thing is huge and why isn’t it painted Gold!!
Nearly halfway across.
Outside City Hall not sure why.
Old convertible Cadillac, lovely red leather.
Entrance to Chinatown.
In the restaurant in the evening.
View out of the restaurant window.

And the next day was …., breathe and take a rest although we had to do the laundry, clean the RV inside and out, and check the oil (engine and generator) and all the mundane tasks that go with driving an RV!!

Next stop Yosemite!!

 

 

 

 

 

Hearst Castle, Monterey and the Big Sur.

It is amazing how when one lives a lifestyle that you forget that other people may not know the vernacular you are using!! For instance I was asked “what is a KOA?”. Never occurred to me that people wouldn’t know. Well it stands for “Kampgrounds of America”, not quite sure why it is not COA but it could be that name was already registered!!

We left the National Parks and headed west to a place called Greenfield, which is midway between Monterey and Paso Robles on RT101. We needed to access the North and South of RT1, the Pacific Highway, but it is closed in the middle near Gorda because of a landslide that took out 1/2 mile of road.

The drive to Yanks RV Resort was very interesting indeed. I decided to use a California highway (CA198) all the way, but there were warnings that some of the bends were a bit twisty and some of the grades could be steep. As it turned out it was a lovely drive along what was classified as a Scenic Route and there were far bigger lorries than our RV using it.

Don’t go too fast around the corner you may topple over!!
This is a narrow road in the USA. Looks like a UK A road!!
Quite hilly!!
Parked up half way along CA198.
Beautiful scenery.
Must have a cup of tea to calm the nerves!!

Really enjoyed the drive and we arrived at Yanks RV Resort about 2.30pm and wow what a site. It is a new site with concrete pads and very nicely done landscaping.

Lovely site, with concrete pads so easy to level the RV.
Beautiful views and very quiet.

Hearst Castle had to be booked so we booked it for the Saturday. We decided to investigate Monterey and the Big Sur on Friday.

Monterey was busy with the start of the Sea Otter Classic which is one of the largest cycling events in the US, but on the Friday wasn’t too bad and we got into Monterey early in the morning (note to self don’t go into Monterey Saturday/Sunday!!).

We found a meter close to San Carlos Beach which was close to the Coast Guard Pier. On the Pier, especially at the far end was a huge colony of Sea Lions and the noise was tremendous.

San Carlos Beach
The end of the Coast Guard Pier with the Sea Lion colony.
Sea Lions on the rocks on the edge of the pier.
More Sea Lions.
And under the Pier. Picture taken from the Café we had coffee and a cake in.
Water was very clear, here is a jellyfish.
A massive 75 ton boat lift at the dock.
Wouldn’t look bad moored in Burnham-on-Sea!!

We then set off down the coast from Monterey on Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, to see the coastline known as the Big Sur. We didn’t quite make the bit where the road is closed but nearly did, and there were some spectacular views on the way.

Low cloud on a headland.
Camera balanced on the car!!
Looks like Cornwall on a sunny day!!
One of the many bridges that cross the inlets on the coast.
At the top of a headland, Anne didn’t like cliff edges.
High up on a cliff, notice the lack of guardrails so don’t go off the edge it is a long way down!!
Point Sur lighthouse “island” (it is connected to the coast by the sandbar). The surf was crashing on the beach.
Pont Sur close up showing Light House and the road to the top cut into the hill on the left. Looks a bit like St Michaels Mount, except no hotel.
The farthest south we drove. The road was closed just beyond the point in the background.
Panoramic view of a beach.

Beautiful drive and lots of pull-ins so you can stop and admire the views, although be careful of drivers in convertible Mustangs and Dodge Chargers who seem to use the road as race track!! Driving back with the sun setting in your face was an interesting experience, definitely needed sunglasses!!

The on Saturday we went to Hearst Castle. Built by William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate, with the help of his architect Julia Morgan it is a spectacular “castle” (more like a French chateau than a castle) perched on a hill with views out over the Pacific coastline. Took him 28 years to get it to its current state, but apparently he never finished his complete dream, as ill health stopped the building work. After his death in 1951, the family obviously thought it cost too much to maintain and gave it, plus some of the surrounding land, to the State of California which it is why it is a California State Park attraction. Mind you they kept the other 82,000 acres so I don’t think they are on the breadline yet!!

Hearst Castle from the bottom of the hill.

Now no amount of photos are going to do this place justice, so I am going to try to give you the essence by choosing a few from the many I took.

The views down the hill to the Pacific are EPIC!!
The buildings are amazing.
The main building, the Casa Grande.
A guest cottage!!
Grounds are full of artefacts from Hearst’s personal collection. Egyptian figures.
The front entrance to the Casa Grande.
It has a fine collection tapestries from all over Europe.
All collected by Randolph Hearst.
And another.
Statues galore.
Many religious paintings.
And the ceilings were also from Europe.
Unfortunately the Jupiter pool was closed for refurbishment. It was leaking badly, and in a state with drought problems this was not good. Imagine swimming in this, it actually has statues in the pool!!
And if the outdoor pool wasn’t good enough for you, how about the indoor one!! That is a diving platform halfway up the arch.
And in case you were wondering all those tiles in and out of the pool are gold leaf!!
Not your average fish pond. The board bottom right, was to allow Hearst’s dachshunds a way out when they fell in the pond.
Another guest cottage with its own patio!!
One of the many fountains with statues.
A door, all gold leaf again!!
Tennis anyone?
One of the many handsome alabaster lamps.

Sorry if I have bored you, but if you ever visit California, you just must visit Hearst “castle”, magnificent doesn’t cut it!!

We took the Sunday off and on the Monday we went back to Monterey. We drove a bit further on and visited a Mission in Carmel (Clint Eastwood country!!). By now you will know the story of the Missions in the Southern USA, established by the Spanish to convert the local people and control the area. Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo is no different except that it is probably the best example we have visited, and it was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1987.

The altar.
Mary and baby Jesus in a side chapel.
Plaque commemorating Pope John Paul’s visit.
Living quarters as they were in early days.
Courtyard and bell with plaques showing who was involved in the restoration.
Mission courtyard.
Many plants in the courtyard but these Birds of Paradise flowers were really beautiful.

We then drove back up the coast to Pebble Beach.

Pebble Beach, you can’t quite see the famous golf course as it was a bit foggy.

And then back to Monterey where we had lunch at LouLou’s.

Loulou’s Griddle in the Middle.
Anne ordered Fish & Chips!!
Trawler offloading its catch.
Which was squid (calamari).
Sea Lions sunbathing by keeping their fins out of the water to heat the blood in them.
Does this remind you of someone?
The marina, a few thousand dollars worth of boats.
Think I would quite like to work there.

And then we returned to Yanks RV for our last night there. Lovely campground, one of the best we have been in.

View towards the Pinnacles National Park.
And another
General view of the campground.

Well that is the end of this post. The next day we moved on to San Francisco.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sequoia and King Canyon National Parks

Before I start I have updated the Our RV Map. It is a bit ahead of the Blog as it includes our route beyond San Francisco and I am afraid I am a bit behind with the updates of the Blog!!

After leaving Los Angeles we headed almost directly North to a town (although as usual it is a City in the USA) called Visalia which is on the edge of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and close to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks which are home to the biggest trees in the world, the Sequoias.

The RV Park was a KOA on the edge of Visalia that was very quiet and secluded with nice gardens.

 

Our Site

On the first day we went for a bit of an explore up to the Sequoia National Park, without going into it as we knew that would take too long. Found a very nice restaurant near the National Park and decided to have lunch there.

Quite a backdrop to a very good meal.
The bridge downstream.
View of the river.

Later on we discovered ………….  EXETER!!

Not a City with a population of  10.730!!

A very pretty town(city!!) which was actually founded by a guy who emigrated from Exeter.

Caption to the mural of the Founder

For such a small place this was a beautiful, clean little town with some absolutely marvellous murals painted around the town and the smell of orange blossom made it even better.

View of an orange orchard, makes you believe you are there!!
WWII US Bomber command memorial in a car lot.
Raisin capital of the world.
Original settlers.
Exeter early 1900’s
Railway Station.

All the murals (and there were supposed to be more than 30 of which we saw about 20) were absolutely beautifully done and really added a lot to the town.

The next day we set off for Sequoia National Park and the home of The General Sherman, the largest tree in the world.

A very interesting drive it was too, with a twisting road up into the park from 2,000ft to 8,000ft plus. Anne will say she didn’t enjoy this bit as some of the drops off the side of the road were quite immense!!

Tunnel Rock, look carefully the road used to go under it!!
An immense round rock face called Big Baldy!!
Yes, that is the road down there twisting around the mountain, we came up that.
Two baldy’s together!!
Panoramic view of the mountain range.

It is at this point I have to sing the praises of the Spark. You buy a car and you hope you have made the right decision, and in this case (touch wood) we seem to have done so. It has not missed a beat since we bought it, and we have taken it up mountains, across deserts and dirt track roads and done thousands of Interstate miles in it, marvellous little car. It handled these mountain roads like they weren’t there and we passed quite a few people with overheating engines that didn’t like the climb!! Spark rules!!

Then we reached the Sequoia forest. What can I say, but marvel at the immense size of them, plus the beautiful rich red colour of their bark.

And this is not the biggest one!!
Another!! But this gives you a sense of scale, look at the person and the bench at the base.
Three together with the road splitting though them..
Getting bigger still!!
The base showing fire damage.
There are two of us!!

And then further on I walked down to The General Sherman. Anne decided not to join me as the walk went down a fairly steep path, which you had to walk back up, and at 8,000ft that made you puff a bit!!

General Sherman, the largest tree in the world.
Diagram of the trunk at the ground.
What makes it the biggest.
The General and a twin Sequoia next door.
Another view of General Sherman. Tiny people at base.

The views around the park from 8,000ft plus were absolutely magnificent, but a camera shot doesn’t seem to do it justice.

Normal trees and snow capped mountains.
More snow capped mountains.

We were supposed to be going to Kings Canyon on the next day but overnight a low front came through, and it snowed above 2,500ft so much they closed the roads into the park for the day. We had seen notices saying weather conditions can change quickly be prepared, but didn’t realise it could happen quite that quickly. So we looked around Visalia and found a tractor museum and a group of volunteers cleaning a decommissioned B17 Flying Fortress.

Iron rimmed wheels and a transverse engine, most unusual.
RV belonging to the restoration group.
The shiny B17.
Polishing the aluminium hull.
Bomber was part of the 379th Bomber Group that was awarded the 8th Air Force “Grand Slam” Award for the greatest tonnage of bombs delivered in April 1944.
Cockpit all clean and shiny.

By the following day with a rapid rise in temperatures the roads into King Canyon National Park were open again and we went to see the General Grant, the second largest sequoia in the world, which is over 3,000 years old.

Evidence of the previous days snow on the way up.

The General Grant tree is one of many imposing sequoias in a grove called the Grant Grove.

Part of the Grant Grove from the car park.

 

And more.
A fallen hollow sequoia that was lived in. Because of their high tannin content which is what gives the red colour, they are very resistant to rot.
General Grant.
Top of the General Grant has a lot of canopy.
Fire scarring, tannin also makes them resistant to fire.

 

What idiot wore shorts in the snow!!
Anne at the base of the General Grant.

We then drove on to see Hume Lake, as beyond that King Canyon was still closed for the winter (funny I thought it was Spring!!).

The road was quite narrow and had huge drops off the side.  There was over a 1,000ft drop here.
How the lake was formed.
Hume Lake

That is the end of our visit to the Sequoia and King Canyon National Parks, the next Post will show our cross country trip to Yanks RV Resort.