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Posts from the ‘RV Travel’ Category

Yipeeee!! We’re South of the Border

Traveling through Baja with an RV caravan. Beautiful beaches and deserts - can't wait to see what's around the next corner!

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Moab in the Rearview

We finally left Moab.  We stayed for nearly two weeks – very ungrasshopperish!  I’ll share just a few more photos.  Keep in mind though, even with Mitch’s great photography, the feeling of this place is nearly impossible to capture on film.  The vastness of the canyons and rock formations alongside delicate details such as the graceful swirl of a petrified sand dune combined with rocks colored orange, red, mustard, and Caribbean blue are things only the human eye can hope to comprehend.  Just go see for yourself!  (I am not a paid promoter for the Moab Chamber of Commerce!)

This is the famous Delicate Arch. That little dot on the far right of the photo is me. Known internationally to photographers as a sunset destination, we hiked out to it on a rainy afternoon thinking we might capture some interesting cloud formations. On our way out, the rain stopped and the blue sky peeked through some of the clouds. We almost had the place to ourselves!

Another spectacular sunset. This is Skyline Arch in Arches National Park.

One bonus to traveling during the winter!

Did I mention that the colors of the dirt and rock around here are crazy?!

We rode our bike to the Needles Overlook in the portion of Canyonlands National Park south of Moab. It was a great ride even though a lot of the road was covered with snow. We saw more bikers than cars on this 32 mile ride. Yeah!

The stories told by the gnarled, weathered old tree trunks are almost as interesting as those of the land.

My niece, nephew, and brother-in-law came out to visit us for a couple of days. It was so great to see them. They showed me a thing or two about bouldering. My 30 seconds on the rock had me wincing in pain for the next week!

On this particular bike ride Mitch was going so fast that his mustache blew right off his face!

Rain in Moab?!

Wind and water are the insane artists that created the unique canvas of the Moab region.  In our previous travels here we had experienced the wind part of the duo.  One time a camper in the same RV park as us was blown sideways on its jack stands and four telephone-pole-sized poles supporting a billboard were snapped in half like toothpicks.  We’ve been on bike rides here where we had to dodge tumbleweeds flying at us from all directions and even passing us like we weren’t moving.  The grit in these wind blasts becomes part of you – it’s in your hair, eyes, teeth, and water bottle.

Although this looks like molten lava it is just the color of the water after traveling over all of the red sandstone.

And although we’d heard stories of waterfalls cascading off of every cliff face and seen the evidence of violent and not-so-violent water events, we’d never actually seen it rain here – until this year.  And now it won’t stop!

Like the rest of the country, Moab has had a bizarre winter.  Locals say they’ve been covered in snow since November and have had more snow than even the old-timers can remember.  The combination of the snowmelt and the hit-or-miss downpours has made many of the trails here very messy.  Biking through wet clay is like riding through crunchy peanut butter.  We made that mistake once and will always try to avoid it now!

Road biking is still good, just a little cold and damp.  And the upside is that now we have seen what a little bit of water can do when it lands on a huge hunk of rock!

We rode our bikes along the Colorado River to a hotel, restaurant, winery called Red Cliffs Lodge. Even though the clouds threatened and somewhere up valley was getting wet, we stayed dry.

The damp weather in Moab has made for some conditions we have never seen here before such as fog. It was surreal to see the clouds and mist infiltrating the spires and arches of Arches National Park.

Back in Moab!

I am standing beneath Corona Arch appreciating the incredible view.

Ahhh!!  We’re back in Moab.  My wish for everyone is that they have at least one place that makes them breath a sign of relief every time they return to it.  We are lucky to have a few locations that just seem to click internally and Moab is definitely one of them.

We left San Francisco the day after Mitch’s symposium.  The thing about towing your home behind you is that you have to be vigilant about weather and road conditions ahead of you.  We had to get across the Sierra Nevadas and, although we have enough chains for both our truck and our trailer, we prefer not to have to use them.  So we had to get out before the storms started rolling in.

Somewhere beyond this glassy lake is the famous Bonneville Salt Flats. The historical marker stated that the fastest land speed recorded there so far (the sign was from the 70’s) was 622 mph.

Many people dread the drive on I-80 across Nevada and Utah but I think it is fascinating.  It is as if, without the watchful eyes of all of the millions of people in California, the earth and sky are finally free to do whatever crazy thing they feel like doing.   Clouds reach to the ground and set off dust devils with every patch of sunshine.  Barren mountains jut up a couple of thousand feet and then disappear abruptly into the flattest, sagebrush covered ground you can imagine.  Water becomes salt and salt becomes water indistinguishably.  One day when we have our 4wd self-contained, heavy duty RV we will return to this area and explore it thoroughly.

Moab is Mecca for outdoor enthusiasts.  Almost anything you could ever think of doing to raise your heart rate is possible here.  It is best known for mountain biking.  We didn’t bring our clunky, old mountain bikes with us so we’ll get to rent the new models with all the bells and whistles.  I have no doubt that it will be overkill for my abilities but it will be fun anyway!

Road biking is great in Moab, as well. The La Sal Mountains are the snow-capped peaks in the background of this photo.

This is another view of Corona Arch with a funky rock formation in the wall behind it.

Yet another arch on the trail to Corona Arch. At the base of this arch was a solution hole which drained to another solution hole. The plants here are amazing opportunists. A small aspen tree was growing in the base of the hole with just a hint of soil and even less moisture.

Golden Gate Kayak Symposium

Even with 50 mph winds and Tsunami waves, Mitch’s kayak symposium was a great success.  It was a beautiful location, literally at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge.  The kayakers took over the beach at Horseshoe Cove, a palette of primary colored boats and paddlers of all sizes milling about in orange and purple dry suits.  The kayakers that signed up for these classes are hardcore (water temp 50 degrees, air temp 50 degrees).  They were looking for conditions to push their skills and they definitely got them.  Mitch took advantage of the west coast venue to improve his rock garden paddling skills and had a great time.

Some more rock garden playing.

Some of Mitch’s fellow rock garden students.

Our good friend Rev. Bonnie Perry from Chicago attended the symposium also. It was great to see her!

 

I had great views of the San Francisco Bay from my hike.  Those tiny white dots are sailboats.  The bay was full of sailors, kite boarders, windsurfers, kayakers.  San Franciscans seem to really take advantage of their beautiful location.

Wildflowers of all colors and shapes covered the hills of the Marin Headlands. I had a strong urge, once I reached the top of this trail, to spread my arms open and spin around singing “The hills are alive…”

 

Pigeon Point

When we left Santa Cruz we thought we’d head up to Half Moon Bay for a couple of days before going on to San Francisco for Mitch’s kayak symposium.  But about 40 minutes outside of Santa Cruz we stumbled upon a private campground, a KOA actually, that was kind of in the middle of nowhere, relatively speaking, and decided to stay.  It turned out to be a great spot.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse, about 3 miles north of our campground.

The camping sites were fairly well spaced for a private campground and again, we could see the ocean from our site (if the campground hadn’t been mostly empty, we wouldn’t have had that luxury).  The bathroom/laundry facilities each had saunas and outdoor fireplaces.  The campground shared the property with a small lodge and so they also had a restaurant that served great local beer.

After unhooking we decided to explore up the coast and check out Half Moon Bay.  We really both wanted to see Mavericks.  A person would never just stumble upon Mavericks.  It isn’t signed.  Even when you get there, you are not really sure you are there.  You have to know when to turn off of the highway and then you drive through a very industrial-looking area and then make a couple of other unnatural turns.  Finally you see parking for a trailhead.  You walk close to a mile on a trail out to a beach and a headland with big doppler radar on top of it.  We saw a jetty that resembled the one showed over and over in the news clips and we saw a big sign that said the waves could be very dangerous.

Looking out over where the Mavericks surf competition is held.

Finally, we saw a rock with “Foo” carved into it (the name of the professional surfer killed here) and figured that it must be the spot.  The swell wasn’t big enough the day we went to have any organized waves so it was hard to envision what it must look like when it is working.  It looked like an extremely unforgiving piece of real estate, though.

Riding our bikes along Pacific Coast Highway.

The next day we biked from our campground up Pacific Coast Highway for about 10 miles and then turned inland 2 miles to a little town called Pescadero.  It was so cute!  We had a great lunch at the local market, bought some garlic/artichoke bread, and then went to a goat milk dairy just on the outskirts of town.  They had a dairy store open for sampling.  I absolutely love goat’s milk cheese.  Mitch hates it.  So I had a great time.  There were so many choices but I ended up getting a cranberry/walnut variety.

I’m standing in the doorway of the Harley Farms Goat Cheese tasting room trying to decide where to start.

This was a funky dining room above the tasting room. The dairy hosts “Farm Dinners” about once a month – $150 per person! That’s a lot of goat cheese!

We took a different road back to our campground which was a little bit of a risk since we forgot to bring a map with us.  But it worked out.  The road climbed and dipped and skirted a state park and then followed a creek through a beautiful forest until it ended about a mile north of our destination.

After our bike ride we went to the beach for sunset.  Can a day be more perfect?

Waves crashing over rocks at Gazo Beach.

Grasshopper Defined

In the RVing world, Mitch and I are grasshoppers.  Grasshoppers are the type of travelers who hop around constantly, stopping for just a day or two here and then a few days there.  We land, explore, eat and drink at local establishments, and then we take off to see what else there is down the road.  We rarely make reservations and, many times, we don’t even have a destination.

As with everything in life, there are pluses and minuses to this type of traveling.  Constantly hooking and unhooking the trailer, setting up and then dismantling, never knowing what to do with mail – all can get a little old.  Also, I’m sure we miss out on really soaking up the “vibe” of an area and meeting other travelers (we don’t usually spend any time in the campground).  Yet, for me, I can’t stand the thought that I might be missing out on something better.  It is kind of a sickness.  Not discontent yet never content, I’m always curious about what is around the next corner.  And we have stumbled upon a lot of great spots that we never would have found if we had mapped out our route ahead of time.

This trip, however, has been one of our less “grasshoppery” trips.  We stayed in New Orleans for five days, San Diego for an entire week, and finally, we just left Santa Cruz where we’d been for four whole days.  Four days is about perfect.  The week in San Diego got a little long for me.

We stayed in a campground just south of Santa Cruz called New Brighton State Beach.  The location was great – our spot was on a cliff that overlooked the beach.  We could hear the surf at night.

The view from our campsite at New Brighton State Beach.

This photo is from the cliffs above an area in Santa Crus called “Steamers”. It is directly across from the wharf. The day we were there the waves were lined up like lines of civil war infantry and the surfers were practically jumping off the cliffs to get to them.

Santa Cruz is much bigger than I thought it would be.  I was picturing a quaint beach town, but it is a full-fledged city.  The wharf area has an amusement park (why do people need amusement parks at beaches?  Aren’t the sand and waves enough?  Mission Beach in San Diego actually had a wave pool right beside the beach!!) and a casino.  People could pay to drive out on the pier where there were jewelry shops, and restaurants, and t-shirt shops.  It was just as easy to walk out, which we did.  The shops didn’t interest us but it was a great vantage point to watch the surfers.  I’ve never been able to actually watch a surfer catch a wave from above.

A local told us about a great paddling spot just a little south of Santa Cruz called Moss Landing that had something for everyone.  It is an inlet which is perfect for Mitch and me because I like flat water and he likes the waves and current.  We launched and then parted ways.  I went east, up Elkhorn Slough, and saw sea lions, mother and baby seals cuddled together,

sea otters floating on their backs while cracking shellfish over a rock placed on their stomachs, grebes, loons, ducks…  Mitch went west, out the inlet.  He caught a couple of waves, and then a huge wave caught him.  It tossed him like a javelin.  The nose of his boat jammed into the sand and he crashed hard.  He survived but his heavy-duty NDK Explorer didn’t.

This crack in the hull goes all the way around the boat, unfortunately. It also seems that the top and bottom of the boat have separated.

The day before we left we went on a great bike ride through Fort Ord Dunes State Park near Monterey.  It had been a military base and, similar to Cape Henlopen State Park near us in Delaware, had old ammunition bunkers built into the sand dunes.  The dunes were amazing.  Instead of sea oats like we are used to on the east coast, they are completely covered with ice plants blooming with hot pink and purple flowers.  From the top of the dunes we watched as paragliders floated past on the onshore breeze.  The trail from the park met up with another bike trail that went all the way into Monterey with more great views of the bay.  This coastline is simply incredible.