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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
This past December my college roommates and I had our inaugural “girl’s weekend”. It was fantastic! We hadn’t been together, in one room, for sixteen years. And although we all have very different lives, it was so easy to reconnect. My travels intrigued them and after talking a bit about past and future journeys, I noticed a confused look on the face of my driven, most ‘plugged-in’ friend.
“So…” she asked, tentatively, “What exactly do you do once you get there?”
It made me realize that not everyone gets this whole travel thing. So with this blog, I hope to keep friends and family and any other politely curious spectators up-to-date with where we are, where we’re heading, and most importantly, what in the world we’re doing!
We left our base camp in northern Florida in mid-January and arrived in San Diego a few days ago, our third crossing of the continent towing our travel trailer. One of the goals of our travels, along with seeing as much of our beautiful and diverse country as possible, is to find the ideal place to live. Our perfect place would have the following: be close to the coast so that Mitch can have his surf; close to trails for running, hiking, and biking; be a bike friendly community with paved trails and/or designated bike lanes; a population of 10,000 – 50,000 active, friendly, open-minded, forward-thinking, peaceful people; opportunities to see live theater and music; a couple of good micro-breweries; an artsy little shopping area; an interesting and well-preserved history; be comfortable enough in the wintertime to remain active outdoors; low cost of living; no strip malls or sprawling development; no pollution. Does a place like this exist? Probably not, but it is fun to search for it!
San Diego would have been very close to our ideal if we could have frozen it at the turn of the previous century. But, as usual, we missed it! I can’t help but wish that I was alive back then to see this incredible landscape without the homes and roads and unnaturally brown haze. However, it is still a lot of fun to visit!