Spooky time in Santa Cruz

Still having no idea where we would end up that night, we left Skyline Campground in the morning and headed towards Santa Cruz. We took the 680, which either of us had never been on before. We went through several bizarre parts of CA that we haven’t realized even existed…like Lake Herman. The whole area was dotted with smoking factories and huge ships on the lake which must have been floating refineries of some sort. It was an industrial wasteland, but fascinating to see as we drove through. We went around the bustling bay area and made some calls from the hwy. After some places being full (we hadn’t considered that it was a Friday as we had yet to come across a full campground) and being shocked at the high prices in the area we were looking, we settled on Cotillion Gardens RV Park and Cabins. I am so glad that we did! They had a two day minimum for this weekend since it is their special Halloween Weekend, but we were happy to stay for two days anyways. We found out that there would be a number of kids events, people decorating their rvs, costumes and trick-or-treating, Cool! It was the first family-focused campground we had stayed at. It was a long morning of driving for us but Zoe was a champ. I was thrilled to entered the magical area of the Santa Cruz mountains…it always feels so good to be here. The camp is just outside of Felton and lies directly alongside the Henry Cowell State Park, so…more redwoods! We checked in and drove to our spot. It was a back-in. Uh oh! Not having much practice at all with the tight back-in spots it was a daunting task. I stepped aside and let some helpful camp-neighbors assist with the process. Everyone assured us that they had been there and you have to learn somehow. It felt like a bit of a show that we were putting on, but William did great and we got situated. We couldn’t fit the truck in our space though so it went into overflow parking just up the road. The campground was full of energetic families who seem to come every year and have their own fun traditions and lots of great decorations. I felt so unprepared, but enjoyed the atmosphere created by everyone else. Orange lights, cobwebs, tombstones, music, campfires and lots of squealing kids. Good stuff.

We stayed on the grounds the rest of the day. We explored some of the trails that led into the state park, found banana slugs, saw horses, played in the kids area and enjoyed homemade burritos. Tomorrow would be for checking out Santa Cruz and then coming back to the park for trick-or-treating! Oh what a day we had! I am writing this tonight (Sat, Oct 24th) and I have rarely felt so wiped out! We left early in the morning and made the 20 minutes drive into town. We hit up a breakfast place across from the boardwalk for yummy breakfast. I knew that I wanted to visit one of my favorite dog beaches. It is along Cliff Drive at the base of a bunch of stairs…right near the lighthouse. There was some sort of event going on as they were serving coffee and there were probably 50 dogs there! It was a blast! We love watching dogs do their thing…probably one of the most entertaining sights ever. We saw everything from St Bernards, pugs, wolfhounds, poodles and a sweet pup in a doggy wheelchair, all playing together in the sand and the waves. There were some other small kids as well and Zo got to borrow a bucket and shovel and climb some neat rocks, as well as pretend to be a dog for most of the time…haha! I could have hung out all day, but there was much more to do! Shep was so satisfied after his playtime that I didn’t feel toooo bad leaving him in the car for an hour while we perused the boardwalk. We didn’t intend to ride or buy anything, but I had never been inside before and there were lots of entertaining sights, sounds and smells. It was the day of the chili cook-off and my eyes were tingling from all the spices in the air. It would be fun to come back again when Zo can go on some of the kiddie rides…she still needs several inches!

I have never seen Santa Cruz so crowded before! Granted it was a Saturday, but the beach-side city just felt so big and fast to me this time around. We actually got turned around in the car and drove in a weird circle and gassed up before reaching downtown…parking on a side street for free. We first stopped by the park and community center. They were having a free mask-decorating event. After playing outside for a bit (all she wants to do these days is “swiiiing!!!”) we went in and decorated ours with some markers, glue and glitter. Spoooky! I also pocketed some pipe cleaners hoping they would entertain her later. Smart move, self! It was hot and we (parents, Zo always has her water or elderberry drink with her) were thirsty. We remembered this place, 99 bottles, which has….99 varieties of beer! It was a bit of a hike over there through town with kid and dog and backpack in tow. Whew. We settled on the patio and enjoyed our drinks and a fruit cup to share. We then wandered downtown. As always, the buskers and street performers were the best part. We watched an accordion player covered head to toe in a purple, leopard print body suit, matching platform shoes and a purple mustache and creepy star-eyes. He was great. He got a woman to get up with him and sing “It Had To Be You”. Zoe couldn’t look away. Her favorite though was a nice gentleman playing classical violin pieces in front of a bookstore. She watched him for about 30 minutes, running up to him, presenting leaves, spinning in circles and running away giggling. He could not be distracted though. We walked back to the park to handle a poopy situation (ahem) and swing some more. It was 2ish by now and we needed real food again. No other choice but Saturn Cafe. We were hoping our friend Sara would be working but she wasn’t there. We got a vegan milkshake to share and vegan burgers. Soooo good. I was eager to get back to camp so I could throw together a costume for Zo. Trick-or-treating starts at 4:30. We found the car at last and drove back into the forest. I just love the location of this camp and would be happy to come again and stay even longer. There is so much to see in the area and we didn’t even come close to checking out all our favorite things. Important to pace yourself though, especially in our situation! We have to remember that we live like this now….we aren’t exactly on vacation.

So, back to camp we went. Actually, first we grabbed some jelly bellies and M&Ms from New Leaf to give out to the trick-or-treaters. William had to find a new place to park as the camp was even fuller now with guests. I threw together a pretty rocking gypsy costume for ZoZo out of tidbits from her dress-up basket and a bunch of scarves. I am really proud of how it turned out. Obviously she would be adorable in absolutely anything (I actually considered the Paper-bag Princess) but now I can just improve on this costume for the real holiday next week. It was absolutely free and used all pre-owned items though so it can’t really be beat. I would like to get her a mini tambourine and maybe put a beauty spot on her cheek. Eeeee the cuteness. Of course her daddy accompanied her as her minstrel. We walked hand-in-hand through the park and she got her first trick-or-treat experience. She caught on really fast. She said her own toddler version of “twickateet” and always said “thank you!!!” as well. She had no idea that what she was receiving was candy (has never had it), but loved putting the colorful, crinkly packages in her little gypsy basket. A few of the displays were too spooky for her to want to approach, but she truly loved walking around with the big kids and the ritual of being given these goodies. Everyone was completely charmed by her. We sat outside the trailer to check out her treasures. Somebody had handed out Halloween pretzels, so she got to eat those, and the rest we added to our candy bowl which was now empty. Win-win! She got the experience but none of the sugar 🙂 For Halloweens in the future I have a plan: She can keep a few of her favorite pieces and then put her bucket of candy out for the Goblins before she goes to sleep on Halloween night. Then, in the morning (All Hollow’s Day) it will have been traded for a gift of some kind….something thematic like a book about fall, a stuffed animal, pumpkin, etc. We’ll see, but I think it’s a fun idea. I love Halloween so much. Looking forward to carving pumpkins with family in Morro Bay next week!

The sticky, sandy, exhausted gypsy got a calming lavender bath and some cuddle time. She fell asleep faster today than any day on the road yet. She is definitely getting comfortable in her new bed. Heck, I almost fell asleep in there. So cozy. William and I are watching the old Batman flick and transferring pics to the computer…gotta use that wifi while we have it. We are thinking of going as far as Gilroy tomorrow, but have no concrete plans. Monterey would be nice, but probably too pricey. Either way, check-out is at noon and I would like to enjoy our time here in the morning, For some reasons, mornings have been our most hectic time. Perhaps an early walk among the trees, slug-spotting, will be a good way to greet a new day. Long post for a long day!

Be well everyone,

~N

Oh about the title, Zoe learned the word “spooky” yesterday and since we have seen so many Halloween-themed things during our stay here, it has been in high use! Seriously, this town is full of zombies and skeletons and pirates this weekend. Love it. So now, when she sees those fake cobwebs she exclaims, “spooky!”

Advertisements

Wine Country

We spent yesterday in Santa Rosa and today in Napa. I am rushing through this a bit as I am exhausted and the internet is poor. Hopefully I can add some pics to the past few posts as well. We stayed at the fairgrounds in Santa Rosa which was just a gravel parking lot but it had all the amenities. It was also close enough for us to easily check out a really neat park and the historic Railroad District. It was really quite hot which made aimlessly exploring not so fun. We had a foodie meal at Jack & Tony’s Whiskey Bar. Delicious and luckily we were the only patrons in there for lunch so we weren’t too uncomfortable bringing a 2-year-old into such a swanky eatery. We strolled around a bit more (we actually used the stroller which is really rare for us) before returning to save Shep from the trailer. We then rode our bikes to another close by park and spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the shade and watching Zo play.

It was a relatively short drive to Napa the next day on a series of quiet country roads. We had done better research for this night’s location and were happy with the Skyline Wilderness Area. It is a state park which has a small RV park within it. Mostly oak trees and dry hills, but there is also a Native California Plant Garden, archery range, mountain biking and miles and miles of trails. Again, it was far too hot to set out to hike on the sun-baked paths, but we did go to the little garden and enjoyed that for a bit. I was getting discouraged as I realized that we wouldn’t really be able to go wine-tasting in the traditional sense. I should have looked up the few family-friendly vineyards ahead of time, because most of them were 40 minutes away from Napa back in the direction we came from. There was one with a castle (moat included) and one with a sky car that took you over the vineyards…darn!) Oh well, next time. So we went to downtown Napa in search of a casual eatery within the famous Oxbow Market. We found it and settled in on the patio where thankfully there were other dogs and kids! We had delicoius food and drink and Zoe got to play with another Zoe (5?) and her little brother. They picked flowers and scrambled around under tables. She also schmoozed with the server who adored her and literally pinched her cheek and asked if he could borrow her for the day 🙂 We then walked about, enjoyed some fro-yo and found another park to end the day at. This one was bustling and she ran around for a good while. Days always seem longer and harder when you are outside all day in 85+. We were all beyond ready to unwind. Zoe got a bath and some toon time.

We are discussing where to head tomorrow. We are tempted to push through for a longer drive and avoid the bay area all together and aim for Santa Cruz. I would love to spend a few days there or somewhere nearby and cool our jets for a bit before the final drive to SLO. I want to do a whole lot of nothing for a bit. Sorry this is so rushed, but I am eager to shut my eyes for a bit. I would like to take a short hike in the cooler air of the morning before we hitch up and head out.

We continued on through the scenic redwood trees and eventually merged back onto the 101. We were eager to get back to the coast and try out some dry-camping so we set our sights on Westport Union Landing State Beach. It is an RV friendly, primitive campsite on the coast. After some slow-going due to construction and narrow bridges we found the 1 in Legget, CA and planned to take it straight to Westport. I don’t know why this was a surprise to us, but it was as windy and perilous as can be! Very reminiscent of the stretch of the 1 we are more familiar with on the Big Sur coast. Eeeek! The trailer handled just fine, but our tummies were not too happy after an hour and we were completely over being in the car! It was a longer day of driving than we had bargained for and we were all so relieved when we got our first glimpse of the ocean again. Not five minutes later we were at our site. All the campground entailed was a few numbered picnic tables and fire-rings and pit-toilets hugging the edge of a rocky cliff. Below the waves roared delightfully and there seemed to be just a sliver of actual beach. There were self-registration envelopes and we set up in site #99…it felt a bit private being at the far end. It definitely offered million-dollar views! The cliff-side set up was definitely nerve-wracking with a toddler around and she took off running more than once. We have been trying to teach her about campsite boundaries and where she is allowed to play, but that is understandably a lot for a 2 year-old to grasp. It will be important to clarify this at each location though, so she has a sense of where her “yard” ends.

After setting up, which was much quicker due to not hooking up to any ammenities, we hazarded the steep path down to the beach. There was a waterfall and a wounded bird that we think was a type of penguin. We left him alone, though it broke my heart. We continued down the beach. Zoe loved sliding down sandy hills and looking at shells and bits of washed up blubber. The beach is endlessly entertaining. Shep was pleased to romp in the waves again as well! It was a really temperate day with just the perfect amount of breeze. We spent a few hours playing before heading back up an easier route to the trailer. We adjusted to what we could and couldn’t use since we weren’t hooked up to anything. The batteries were awesome but now we wish we had an inverter so we could still use some outlets while boondocking. The camp host was a really friendly guy who checked in on us a few times with enthusiastic advice and stories.

William drove a few miles to the town of Wesport in hopes of finding gas and firewood, but it had neither! We were legitimately in the middle of nowhere. Luckily we had plenty in the tank to get us at least to Fort Bragg 25 miles away. Having no cell service or internet access encouraged us to tuck in quite early.The loud waves make a wonderful lullaby. Even Zoe fell asleep early. And it was so pleasantly dark without any nearby lights. Zzzzzzzzz.

The next day we were still feeling unsure about where to head next. With only a week left on the road and several hundred miles to go, we knew we didn’t want to cram too much driving into one day and were feeling a bit burned out on the touristy side of things. We also wanted to steer clear of overly curvy roads and expensive sits, which is pretty much the entirety of hwy1. Therefore, and at the suggestion of the friendly camp host and our neighbor, we made a straight shot for Fort Bragg where we then took hwy 20 back inland. Really lovely drive through a smaller redwood forest. The hwy ended in Willits where we finally got some fuel and found a nearby RV park. We wanted to empty out the tanks after 2 days of full use and no dumping. We found The Golden Rule RV Park, located halfway between Willits and Ukiah. It is nestled in a little valley and is right next to the “Home of Seabiscuit” the famous racehorse. The stud farm is closed for tours this time of the year, but there was a picture of him in the park office. This is a full-service RV park, but again there is no WIFI so I am burning through our date with this post. I just didn’t want to catch up on more than 2 days at once! I will wait to post pictures until we have better access, so check back later. I also didn’t finish uploading to the Redwoods post.

So, we are still taking everything a day at a time and now that we are on the 101 we have a much better idea of how long a drive it will take us to get home. We have 7 days and plan to take some detours along the way. We are going to go down the 128 into Napa county tomorrow morning, hopefully staying in Calistoga. Wine country….nice! I have never been through Napa before. We will have to watch ourselves and wallets! I know there is some seriously fine dining out that way which will tempt us.

It is extremely peaceful here in this park. You can barely hear the hwy which is over a mile away and way up above. We saw turkeys, woodpeckers and squirrels galore. Only a handful of other campers around and nice laundry facilities which were much needed. I took a solo trip back into Willits to get groceries. I miss Trader Joe’s sooo much! I will never again take them for granted with their deliciousness, quality and low priced goods. Sigh. I had to deal with Safeway. Regardless, it was nice to shop all by myself and I am hoping I was able to meal-plan a bit better to make the food last this time. We made mini pizzas tonight, with chef Zoe taking the lead. She would prefer an all olive pizza if she had her way. We ate outside and it was delicious. I also intend to make brownies tonight. The little propane oven is really great now that we finally lit the pilot 🙂 Well that is all for now. I promise to put up some pics of the beach and our last two campsites when I can.

Take care everybody!

If all goes well I will be sipping vino in Napa tomorrow!

~N

Driving through Giants

We had another awesome tiny kitchen meal of breakfast burritos and went about getting ready for hitching up. There were a few extra steps involved today because from our parking spot the sewer hose couldn’t reach the drain hole…oops. We had been so focused on being perfectly centered in the spot that it actually worked against us. So we just hitched up and William backed in several more feet and we did a real quick dump of the tanks. We drove on having no clue where we wanted to stay. We were very open to the idea of dry camping for a few days since the holding tanks were empty, fresh tank was full and battery charged! However, as soon I saw a sign informing us that the Avenue of the Giants was a few miles ahead we quickly decided to take the scenic 30ish mile drive and hoped for a camping spot along the way.

The minute we left the 101 the scenery changed from open farmlands and hills to a mystical, dark forest of redwoods. The air became much cooler and smelt of delicious wet pine and that smell that only ancient forests have. After only a bit of driving we pulled over to a little parking lot that had the Immortal Tree, a gift shop, and offered registration for the Ancient Redwoods Campground.  

 The Immortal Tree

We were told to pick any open spot, and we discovered that there were only about 5 other campers so that was easy. The place is very relaxed and couldn’t be more different than the uppity RV park in Eureka. The sites are right alongside the redwood stands, but are in a clearing so we still have full sun. 

  Perfect. We went for a short bike-ride on the Avenue of the Giants, but it didn’t have a bike lane, and while the big rigs were being courteous and going way around us, we still decided to return and drive out a ways to explore more of the sights. Shep got to go for his daily run and even splashed in a little waterhole though so it was a success.

A few miles down the road we were flagged down and told that the whole middle stretch of the Avenue was closed off for a marathon. We were told to get back on the 101 and drive the 15 miles to Myer’s Flat (the only real town in these woods) and that the road would open back up at 3. Alright, we can work with that. Myer’s Flat was tiny and almost everything was closed. We did see the famous Drive-Through tree and some of the other trees and wood-carvings there.  

 

 We paid the $6 but were too afraid to drive the truck through. It was a 7x7ft opening and our truck is exactly 7 ft tall! No thanks. Zo walked through instead. Better anyways, if you ask me.  

 We searched the map we were given earlier for nearby trail heads, but everything we wanted to see was closed off to traffic. Grrrr. We got turned around a few times and were getting frustrated when we discovered the Founder’s Grove. It was 1:30ish so we decided to explore it until 3 so we could take the scenic drive back to camp. First we had a snack on a bench with a lovely few of the forest and the actual Founder’s Tree. We were hungry for more than nuts and crackers but would have to wait until we got back. Turns out it was easy to spend a few hours walking among these glorious trees and reading a bit about them. Zo began squawking and squealing real loudly, cutting through the serenity of the forest….another little kiddo was around also and they proceeded to do some call and response. Too funny. She also enjoyed running into all the “tree caves” as she called them: redwoods with carved out trunks, many of which were mostly charcoal inside from all the fires lit inside. We stood by some of the fallen giants and were amazed by the mass of their gnarled roots. One of them, the Dyerville Giant, was as old as Rome. For a few moments it began to sprinkle ever so lightly while we were in the forest. Redwoods grow in such a way that they create the most picturesque rays of light that shine through the canopies….so add raindrops to that and the beauty was otherworldly. None of our pictures do it justice, but we took a lot! 

    
    
 True to their word, the road opened up at 3 on the dot and we made it home quickly. I threw a frozen pizza in the toaster oven (it works!) and also whipped up some cold pesto potato salad with leftovers. Quite satisfying. I took my shower bag to the camp showers while Zoe got a bath in the trailer. She was covered in bark residue from climbing through the hollow trunks of trees. Quite a keepsake, but we decided to wash it off anyways 😉

Great internet here, but no cable. We normally wouldn’t watch it anyways but it was Sunday, which means new episode of The Walking Dead. Boohoo. Oh well, William can download it tomorrow morning to save for the right time. We had another cozy evening and Zoe did great playing quietly in her room until she was ready to sleep. No plans for tomorrow, though we would still like to dry camp sometime soon. Excited to see the rest of the beautiful drive through the redwoods. I remember coming through here when I was a kiddo, and it so great to share in the wonder with my own little one.

With love from the forest,

~N

Heading through Humboldt

We woke up at our riverside camp to rain on the skylights…in fact we woke up several times in the night to that sweet sound (it is loud and will take some getting used to). It was off and on all morning as we began our day. We took our coffee with us on the forested trail loop on one edge of the camp. It was dense and drippy and lovely. Zo picked me a flower.

 I had noticed earlier in the morning that the fifth wheel in the space next to us had the decal DrivingDownADream.com on it, which sounded real familiar…could it be?? Another full-timing family!? I had loitered on many a blog in preparing for our launch and after a quick search we confirmed that this family was one and the same! There were some kid bikes strapped to the trailer as well which was a pretty good give-away. William struck up a conversation with the father, Jeff, as they were both hitching up and soon we got to meet the whole, sweet family: Whitney and their two boys and two girls! Zo was in heaven and hammed it up for the other kids. It was sooo nice to meet another family in a similar situation. We have much we can learn from more seasoned travelers. They recalled how little they knew starting out and what a steep learning curve there really is. We also found out that they will be spending Christmas on the central coast as well! Quite the happy coincidence indeed! We exchanged information and they pulled away on towards their next destination. If you are reading this Whitney, thank you so much for your warm words of encouragement and offering of advice if (more like when) we need it!

This chance meeting put me in an optimistic mood! The rain also always helps life my spirits…weird right? So we took off towards Eureka, not really sure if we would make it the whole way or where we would stay (no cell service whatsoever). Turns out we made great time. We made a reservation for Shoreline RV in Eureka while at a rest stop. We stopped in the small coastal town of Trinidad first and enjoyed brunch on their pier restaurant and walked a real lovely stretch of beach. It was the most dog-friendly beach we have found and Shep enjoyed running free and playing with another pup. We found this great driftwood throne and felt pretty epic sitting upon it! 

 Just another half an hour down the road and we were at our destination. The park was not terribly impressive and we found the manager pretty dang rude in fact. Whatever, they can’t all be winners. Zo was wiped and having little melt-downs left and right but a quick bath to get the sand out of her butt helped her feel better 🙂 We (Zo and I…but, William is still recovering from his bee sting) were both covered in mystery cuts and splinters from some point in today or yesterday’s driftwood climbing, so I bandaged us up. Constant adventure is rough work and it seems we are beginning to show it! She made it clear that no real nap was happening (though she does like to curl up for little rests in our bed and pretend sleep) we took a bike ride with the goal of exploring Old Town Eureka, the wharf and the Lost Coast Brewery. I was a bit dismayed by how un-bikeable of a city Eureka is. No bike lanes at all and too many stoplights to make riding very enjoyable. Once we reached the wharf it was better and we looked at boats, murals and cool old Victorian houses. We did find the brewery and had a quick beer and pretzel. The little one was over being confined to a bike seat and high chair, respectively, so we searched for a nearby bike and found a really bizarre (see: old) one on the way back to camp.

It was barely 5 by the time we got back but we were all ready to settle in. Zo enjoyed some of our leftover spaghetti from last night and I did some much-needed vacuuming in the trailer. Then it was nighttime business as usual. Her favorite quiet activity of the moment is stickers! See! 

 So far, we haven’t found any neighbors that seem eager to socialize. I suspect that state park campgrounds will be more fun in that way…at least that has been my experience in the past. I would love for William to find someone to jam with and people to enjoy a bonfire with…and of course, other kids! I suppose when the weather warms up we will have to hit a few music festivals!

For now, we will continue on at a similar pace of 2ish hours of driving a day until we find a place we would like to stay for a bit longer. Going day by day. All in all it has been a swell day and we are enjoying the loveliness of Humboldt County. We probably won’t choose to stay in a city again for awhile though after today…it’s such a different experience and not our favorite. Good beer and food though!

Thanks for tuning in! If you haven’t noticed, we went back and added pics to the last few posts now that we have decent internet connection.

Love,

~N

Bonus pic! 

 Here is Zo helping her daddy put down the screw jacks on the trailer yesterday afternoon when we arrived at Klamath River. Such a good helper!

Hello California!

Nicole here! Checking in from the California coast! It’s good to be back in our home state. It has been two full days since William last posted. Internet access has been shoddy at best, and our data is maxed out, making posting an expensive endeavor! We left Myrtle Creek bright and early on Wednesday morning and merged onto the 5. This was our first time on a major highway and we had a bit of a wake-up call as a few things fell over in the trailer (ie. our water filter spilled all over the floor and Zoe’s dresser toppled over) We were not yet accustomed to the momentum of the 55+ mph speeds but we have adjusted accordingly! We got onto the Redwood Hwy (CA -199, per my dad’s suggestion) in Grant’s Pass, OR. While eager to reach Crescent city and register our vehicles, we ultimately decided to take our time and enjoy this lovely stretch. We stopped and camped at Lonely Mountain RV Park, just three miles South of the CA border. It was a nice, quiet park run by a kindly, older couple. We pulled into our roomy space and headed out to explor the wooded creek area behind it. There were three teepees available for camping and a freezing cold swimming hole. We watched Zo splash around for a bit (this was one of her grumpier days, so the water was a much-appreciated reprieve. We had passed through Cave Junction a few miles earlier and decided to backtrack just a few miles and check it out. It was pretty charming and extremely hot! The locals were going on about how it still felt like summer….probably at least 90 degrees!

IMG_3608

We had a bite at a Mexican eatery called Carlo’s. The owners were so sweet and friendly with Zoe…we had a blast (and a beer). We wanted to check out the Oregon Caves National Monument, but found out that it was not a good choice for visiting with a toddler. They have several requirements for the rigorous tour (including height) so we will just have to come back in a few years! Instead we walked around town, stopping in at the bank, a cute thrift shop and the local market. Upon arriving back at camp we returned to the swimming hole. More splashing ensued, and unfortunately William got stung on the foot by a bee. He was fine, but we didn’t dawdle long. It felt so grand to be deep in a forest of pines…I just love the smell of the warm pine needles and the feeling of being surrounded by these marvelous trees. We were not yet in the redwood forest, but it was clear that we were getting close! It was a hot and stuffy evening and we all enjoyed our first bath and showers in the trailer! It was extremely refreshing and so great to have the water heater working without a hitch! My patience runs thin on hot days and I was really ready for some quiet time…Zoe didn’t get the memo and decided to prolong her bedtime peekaboo ritual for over an hour. Oy vey. Obviously, she succumbed to sleep eventually and we all got a good sleep.

We awoke in the morning, sun shining through the pines. I made a pretty excellent breakfast (if I do say so myself…) of scrambled eggs with spinach, bell pepper, chicken sausage and toast. And lots of coffee. This fueled us up and we we quickly packed everything, hitched up and hit the road yet again. Once we register the vehicles we intend to slow down the pace a bit, but until then we are very aware of the clock! The drive was stunning. Trees as far as the eye could see. We finally reached the redwoods and pulled over for a quick traipse through the regal giants. I wanted more time, but I know we will encounter many on our drive south. We reached the Crescent City DMV in about an hour…Hello California! It was cold and drizzling. Zo, Shep and I stayed in the trailer and snacked while William took care of business. 45 minutes and far too much money later and we were road legal! We have our CA plate for the trailer but still have a temporary registration for the truck. We will need to visit a weigh station and get a smog test before the truck is registered completely…we’ve got plenty of time however and can now take a bit of a deep breath. We are in CA and have until the 27th (check-in date for our 3 month stay at Le Sage Riviera Park in Grover Beach) to leisurely make our way to the central coast. Yes!

We considered staying in Crescent City, but it was only 11 in the morning at this point and it was not the most scenic of places. We found a park 30 minutes South on the Klamath River that would give us the Passport America 50% discount…score!. I keep saying this, but this might have been the most beautiful drive yet! A perfect blend of misty redwood forests and coastal views. Perfect. We were back on the 101 and, as always, there was some construction holding things up. We didn’t sweat it though, and instead jammed out to some great music and snacked on dried fruit as we waited. Soon enough we were pulling up to the Klamath River RV Park. The most scenic spot yet! We have a beautiful view of the river and the whole park is a grassy paradise, with a playground, fire pits, riverfront chairs and a super relaxed feel.
After setting up we even considered staying a second night, but decided we would keep moving forward. We took some photos of Zo sitting by the river and spotted some river otters swimming about!
IMG_3653

 IMG_3647
It was well past lunch-time at this point so I threw some spaghetti fixins in the Instant Pot while the rest of the fambam followed a trail at the back of the camp. After a satisfying linner (our main meal these days…) we backtracked a few miles to check out the Trees of Mystery. The trails were closed for the day, but we decided that this was a hidden blessing, seeing that it was $15/person to enter and most definitely a tourist trap.
IMG_3670IMG_3664
Instead, we were able to snap a few pics of Paul Bunyon and Babe and check out a nearby coastal trail instead. Zoe was exhausted but we still enjoyed throwing stick for Shep, climbing on giant driftwood and trying to identify the odd bugs in the sand. It was a lovely beach! It smelled soooo good, like pine resin and salt. We had a bit of a hard time convincing Zoe to head back to the car (she would have preferred to sit in the wet sand all evening I think) but we eventually got the crew piled back in and drove to camp.

IMG_3707 IMG_3704  IMG_3716

We put on Peter Pan (William had the foresight to download a couple of Disney classic movies) and settled in for the night. William ran to and from the laundry room as we caught up on our piles of dirty clothes and Zozo and I cuddled up on the couch. It is now 8:30 and she has been snoozing soundly for 45 minutes or so…not bad! It was another full day! We still don’t know where tomorrow will take us. We would like to stop in Trinidad for a bit and make it at least as far as Arcata. The Northern California coast is so amazing and wild and we want to see everything that we can. We are both open to the idea of staying in one place for several nights if it feels right. It would be nice to settle in for a bit and not tow the trailer for a few days. While William is becoming expert at the hitching/unhitching, it would be a welcome change of pace to stay in one spot for awhile. We will see what tomorrow brings! That’s all for tonight, it is time to cozy up with my hunny and enjoy some MST3K. Much love to everyone!

Sweet dreams,

~N

Last Days in Oregon

Hey there folks! We have three days to catch up on!

Monday

We left the lovely park in Florence where we had spent two nights and made our way along the Siuslaw River to the 126. The views along this drive were gorgeous, we saw many small fishing boats out on the sun-lit waters in the early morning mist. We made it to Eugene a bit before mid-day and settled into a cozy space at Shamrock Village RV Park, which offered a scenic picnic area directly across the river from Springfield, OR. We watched the first of several freight trains we’d see go by in Eugene and splashed around on some rocks with the water-skeeters.
IMG_3512 IMG_3508
Exploring towards downtown we found Skinner Butte Park and its perfect kid’s play area, with a “frontier-town” playground and full array of slides, swings, monkey bars etc. Great for Zoe! We grabbed a bite of (delicious!) lunch at Cornucopia before meeting with my old friend from Cambria, Kyle. Yaaay! 

  After touring his cozy home and yard (and petting some sweet kitties) we all cruised back to the park for more Zoe-centric playtime. Remarkably, some other friends from SLO county, Robyn and Sean were staying in their home-on-wheels in Eugene, and met us at the park as well! After what had been a long day of playing and seeing friends we decided to go back to the trailer for bedtime. We had planned on leaving Eugene the next day, but…

Tuesday
After another night of no hot showers (and a couple other bugs), I decided it would be best while we were in a bigger city to take the RV in for some upgrades. I called several service centers to no avail; they were all booked-up for weeks on end! Quality Coach Services in Eugene came through and I, happily, agreed to bring in the rig that same morning! We quickly grabbed some supplies and clothes for the day and left our home-on-wheels at the shop for the time being. We met up with our friends Robyn and Sean again and another SLO county friend, Erin, for another great lunch at Cafe Studio One (living it up!). After a sunny playdate at nearby Westmoreland Park, I determined that the RV was getting some careful treatment and an order of new parts (super-duper AGM batteries for week-long future boondocking!) at the service center and that (although sleeping in the trailer on the lot was offered) it was time for a hotel night. We found a pet-friendly Best Western up the street from us and got comfortable, making full use of their heated pool and cable TV (Yaay Nickelodeon!!). We got some groceries and dinner for the night at the nearby organic grocery store and hit the hay partway through the Democratic debates — Zoe was just too sleepy after a long long day. 

 IMG_3526
Wednesday
Waking up refreshed with hot baths and showers at the hotel, we tidied up, helped ourselves to complementary continental breakfast and strolled through the nearby U of O campus, home of the DUCKS (as Eugene and the surrounding area of Oregon has consistently reminded us), but more importantly to our daughter, home to a big dusty pile of leaves:  
IMG_3567
Packing up our hotel room, we headed out to the Cascades Raptor Center, south of the city a bit and definitely worth the drive! Zoe got to see falcons, hawks, kestrels, many owls and BALD EAGLES up way close! She loved copying bird sounds and poking her fingers through the cages (eek…), I greatly enjoyed filling my head with more helpful zoological facts and I couldn’t resist picking her up a small owl plushie from the gift shop.
IMG_3593 IMG_3586
Having a bit more time to spend wisely (not time to kill…) we visited the Valley River Center mall, which, being a mall and us being us, was absolutely not for us and had nothing of interest… but it did have escalators and Zoe loved them!!
IMG_3596
Ending our foodist rampage, we tried BJ’s outside the mall. Tasty good food and Zoe loved throwing her crayons and napkins, and menu… fun times! After reuniting with our souped-up RV we hit the dusty road (literally) of the Territorial Hwy. I can’t say for certain why Apple Maps decided this was the fastest route (maybe in a smaller rig) but it was absolutely a beautiful sight, winding through backcountry, farm lands, very very small towns (Lorane, OR?) and along glorious deciduous (changing for Autumn!) foliage. Reconnecting with the 5 we picked up some speed, Zoe took a long-ish car nap (!) and we hit our destination, Tri City RV in Myrtle Creek a few hours before sundown. We unhitched, biked around the nearby area before settling into our cozy four-wheeled cottage for the night.
What will the morning bring? We’re thinking redwoods and CALIFORNIA! See you soon home state!

P.S. happy one-week Nomadiversary to ourselves! This little family is thriving and growing well on the road so far. Hooray!

Coasting

Howdy! William here. Nicole has been spending so much time writing these great & detailed posts I decided to give her a break. We stayed in Florence again today, the first day since we left our sticks-and-bricks that I didn’t tow the trailer at all. Purchasing another night here at Pleasant Pines RV afforded us some opportunities to take in some of the tourist-ier activities of the RV lifestyle. The forecast for today predicted sunshine, and it couldn’t have been more accurate! It was night-and-day compared to the tropical windstorm of the last couple days.
After waking up to our sweet baby poking into our room and cuddling, we (Zoe & I) were treated to a delicious pancake breakfast by momma Nicole. We are still getting used to cooking and cleaning dishes in the very cramped space of the RV kitchen, but we’re picking it up and some awesome meals have already been created on the road.
Since we had the whole day free to explore, that’s exactly what we set out to do next! We checked out the nearby Heceta Beach, where Zo decided to frolic in the brackish water and muddy sand.

  
   This level of muckiness was not exactly what we had in mind for the outing, so we decided to try the beach later and instead cruised over to the Darlingtonia State Natural Site, a botanical preserve dedicated to a single species of carnivorous plant. The site provides a brief looping trail through a peat bog brimming with the rare Darlingtonia californica, a type of pitcher plant also known as “cobra lily.” Cool!! 

We loved the short, informative traipse in the woods.

   

 Next we decided to revisit Florence’s historic Old Town, which Nicole and Shep scouted the day before during the storm. The weather was much more mellow and welcoming today, and we enjoyed the local storefronts and general “quaintness” the town had to offer (reminding us both of our own tourist-fueled hometowns). We found a great local restaurant offering delicious Mexican-inspired breakfast food (Traveler’s Cove) right on the Siuslaw River with a great view of the bridge. Nearby were some fun local shops which Zoe loved, and a great coffee shop which I loved most of all!  

  

  

  

 On the way out of the small historic district we stopped in the Pioneer Museum, well worth the $3 admission to see a collection of unique artifacts. I did wish I could play around on the century-old pump organs though! After scrambling around making sure Zoe didn’t break any small parts of history, we headed back to the RV park for some quiet time while I (attempted) to continue some maintenance on the trailer. We considered backtracking to see some of the sites we missed yesterday, but decided on revisiting Heceta Beach while momma got some necessary peaceful putzing-and-showering-time to herself. 

  Daddy & daughter had a swell adventure playing freely in the (cold!) sandy pools. Back at the park, Zoe began her crazy night-time ritual of peeking out at us from her bedroom, army-crawling across the floor pretending to be unseen, and general madness for the next hour or so. Parent life! Luckily for us, the park provides cable hookups and our beloved The Walking Dead premiere is on tonight! Hooray! Tomorrow we plan on taking off once again to the city of Eugene. See you all then!

Ahoy, Florence!

Day three started at 6:30 when we were awoken by little feet pattering across the camper floor and into our room. Maybe some day we will all sleep in again as a family..for now, it is understandable. Zo’s whole world has been turned topsy turvey and her sleep schedule completely erratic. We went about making coffee and a salmon scramble (using the last of Spud’s catch). The wind was howling outside and soon rain began to fall lightly. By mid-morning it was a full-on storm! I loved the weather, but the tiny trailer is not idea for being cooped up for long periods. I had been in touch with my old friend Katie who now lives in the neighboring town of Waldport, OR. She has a little girl as well, just a few months younger than Zo, so we were excited to get the two of them together for a little play date. They came over around 9 and we got to meet little miss Melita. They played with some of Zo’s toys (we were only able to keep a few due to space, so the ones she has are really special to her). They shared as well as can be expected for two spirited toddlers, but it was sooo stinkin’ adorable to see them together. We even braved the storm and walked down to the harbor where they threw rocks into the water and Shep’s tennis ball. It was a lovely time. Due to the poor weather, we knew that the drive to our next destination, Florence, would be slow-going and wanted to leave by 11ish. We bid farewell to our friends. Zo got a kiss on the cheek from sweet Mellie. 

    
 Ever the trooper, William hitched up the trailer in torrential wind and rain while we waited in the truck. This stretch down the 101 was completely stunning. The drive was also the most treacherous so far, because of the weather, but also the curvy hwy and steep cliffs to one side. It reminded us a lot of the drive to Big Sur, however it was even more wild-looking, lush and just more Oregon-like. Needless to say we took it really slow, pulling over often to let other cars pass. I despaired as we passed some of the places I had really wanted to see, such as Thor’s Well and Heceta Head LIghthouse. It just wasn’t realistic to stop in this weather or maneuver the parking areas in a rig of our size. We reached Florence after about two hours of driving. We got a voicemail from the camp hosts informing us that they were out at lunch so we pulled up and waited for them…kind of funny. They arrived soon and the gentleman (who had a great Cockney accent) gave us a quick tour of the rec room, complete with pool table, coffee, tv and showers. We had site 47 which was pleasantly level, paved and a pull-through. We are getting to know the way of these parks and which kind of sites to seek out or request. This was probably the easiest parking job yet. We decided to stay for another night as well which will be our first chance to kind of relax and put the trailer in livability mode: cluttering the counters, not worrying about things flying around and maybe trying out the awning.

The wind and rain were relentless, but we weren’t about to let it stop us from exploring. We decided to check out Old Town, the historic, walkable riverfront area with lots of charming shops and restaurant. We all piled back into the truck and headed out. To our shock, Zoe fell asleep five minutes in to the 10 minute drive. Whaaat!!?? This can’t be our Toot! The action-packed last several days and lack of sleep finally got to her and she succumbed cozily in the carseat. I even took a picture as proof.  

 We parked by the marina and sat, slightly baffled. I decided to take Shep on a little rain walk around Old Town while she snoozed. After a few minutes I realized that, while indeed charming, it wasn’t worth waking her. Zoe really isn’t one for window-shopping and the weather was still quite wet. We reconvened in the truck and decided to head back up the 101 to Heceta Head Lighthouse! She could continue to sleep in the car for the 30 min drive and we would have a chance to take in more lovely views. As soon as we left the city of Florence, the clouds began to clear. There was a lovely haze over the pacific and everything has that glorious after-rain glow. Small waterfalls, moss, and ferns hugged the rock wall to our right and below the cliff to the left, the waves crashed and frothed on the rocks. After going through a neat rock tunnel and crossing the bridge, we immediately found ourselves at the trail head for the lighthouse walk. We gently woke Zo up and transferred her to her stroller and made our way up the 1/2 mile trail.  

  

 Unfortunately the tours for the day were over, but were able to walk right up to the lighthouse keeper’s house and the lighthouse itself. 

 I love lighthouses. They seem so majestic and are also charged with a sense of mystery. I once read that it’s thought that all lighthouses are haunted….due to their extreme isolation and sometimes the dangerous aspect of the job, most lightkeepers took the position for life and brought their families with them. There were pictures of the keeper’s children riding their horses around the cliff and on the beach below. Just below the cliff that the lighthouse stands on, two giant rock formations jutted out of the water. One was called Parrot Rock, the other Pinnacle Rock. Standing on the cliff was refreshing.  

 The world smelled so good up there: damp, salty, cold and clean. Next we explored the beach. It was easily one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever stepped foot on.  

  

 We found a number of caves at the base of the cliff. Zoe crawled into the smallest one and took a shell that she found in the very depths of it…it will go in her small treasure box.  

 We were lucky that the tide was low and we could check out all of these neat caves and recesses.  

 Some were mossy and dripping and others just smooth rock. To the other side of the beach was a good-sized creek that poured out of the woods and into the sea. I was so tempted to follow it inland into that rich forest.  

 Shep got to swim around in it and chase sticks (one of his favorite pastimes). We spent a good 2 hours taking in the magic of this place. I am so grateful that we were able to come back up and see it. Both Zoe and Shep were soaked and pooped out at this point so it was time to head home. The sun was shining by the time we left. You couldn’t even tell that it had been raining that day….we have observed many times how quickly the weather changes in the Pacific Northwest. We passed a sign called Darlingtonia Botanical Area just outside Florence and decided to check it out in the morning.

When we got back I began on dinner and Zoe hit the showers with her Dad. I want to take this time to rave about my Instant Pot. William surprised me with it right before we moved into the trailer. It is first and foremost a pressure cooker, but does the job of about 5 other cooking appliances. It can cook grains and meat, make chili, broth and soup and even make yogurt with incredible efficiency. I tried out cooking pasta in it for the first time for dinner. It saves so much on time, dishes and doesn’t waste any water since you cook it directly in the sauce, no straining. I made jumbo shells stuffed with ricotta cheese and smothered in marinara. It turned out great and now I have the confidence to try more pastas in it. I want to make one pot mac & cheese next. Thanks hunnybun for the awesome home-warming gift! It is truly perfect for a tiny kitchen.

After her shower, Zo was too sleepy to even sit down for a real dinner, so she snacked a bit instead and then we began her bedtime routine. After several books it was lights out. She played her game of peekaboo again but was fast asleep by 7:30 so it was a vast improvement on yesterday. She is definitely getting there. I am so proud of my little moonbeam! She has kept a great attitude about everything and seems to thrive on all the new experiences. We like to talk about our day after she gets in bed and to relive our favorite moments. Today she remember the “baby” (Melita), the harbor boats and the bridge we saw from the beach.

I am looking forward to having all day tomorrow to see the rest of what Florence has to offer. I just found out that this weekend is the 5th annual Wine Walk & Chowder Festival. Ummm….was this event created just for me? You really shouldn’t have! Well goodnight for now and thank you for following our journey. It is a joy to record our experiences, but even more of one to know that people are interested in our family and support us in what we do.

Sweet dreams from Florence,

~N

Going Rogue in Newport

Day 3 was rainy and fun-filled. We spent a little bit of time with the bunnies this morning. It began to drizzle (only adding to the magical ambiance of the park). My favorite part of the morning was doing the dishes with HOT water while sipping coffee and listening to classical music as I watched the bunnies play just outside the window. We were a little concerned about our gray tank being completely full, but made reservations for a park in Newport that had full hook-up so we chose to just leave a sinkful of dish water as we sloshed down the highway, haha. It was just fine. You can dump the gray just about anywhere legally, but I didn’t want to add any food gunk to the lovely green bunny pastures and saw no drainage vents around. We pulled out around 9:30 or so. I haven’t mentioned yet, but we got walkie-talkies to communicate while maneuvering the rig. It’s pretty fun and definitely helpful…I stand outside and try and help William back in. Sometimes simple hand signals work better…we are still figuring it out. Anyways, my code name is Hot Mama which is really the important part. He is Papa Bear. And Zoe is obviously Little Toots.

The whole drive to Newport was away from the coast, but instead of ocean views we saw GLORIOUS forests (including Siuslaw National Forest) and more sleepy towns. I love going through the tiny towns. All the chimneys were going on this rainy October day and it just looked so inviting. Lots of farms, but mostly just undeveloped, green spaces. The valley we were driving through has probably looked the same for hundreds of years. It rained the whole way, but it was a very gentle rain that just added to the beauty. Going up one steep grade had us grimacing a little bit and we definitely took the drive slow. We were pretty surprised to see huge class A motorhomes passing us as they sped through the rain. You know these monsters of the road, I’m sure…40 footers. They look like band touring buses but they usually just occupied by two retired folks and a shiatsu. Anyways, we were cautious, but William is getting very excellent at driving even on narrow and windy roads.

Newport was a bustling city compared to everywhere else we have seen so far. We went straight to the Newport Marina RV Park which is just a large parking lot right on the harbor. We have full hook-up and a nice view of the very picturesque bridge. It is an extremely gray day, so we can’t see much of the harbor really. William made a run to Walmart (I know…but they are very rv friendly and have lots of the supplies we need for cheap) and picked up a few things and to get gas while I tried to get Zo to nap. She didn’t, but she had some nice quiet time that seemed to give her the energy needed for the rest of the day. Then it was aquarium time! The two things we really wanted to see in Newport were right at the marina so that was really nice and convenient. The wind really picked up though, making walking in the rain not the best option. The rain was starting to sting a bit. So we left poor Shep in the trailer and went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Their special exhibit was Shipwrecks. Cool! Zo’s favorite part was the touching pool and the bright orange Garibaldi in one of the tanks that she called “baby”. Lots of really loud “Wooow!!!”s got smiles from everyone Her enthusiasm is definitely infectious. There were quite a few outdoor exhibits which was unlike other aquariums I have been to…so, we got really wet! It was a lovely time and all the critters seemed very happy in their environments (still not quite as awesome as Monterey Bay, but hey) 

    
    
 Pretty much right across the street was Rogue Brewing: a massive building that includes the working brewery, distillery, restaurant, museum, gift shops and more stuff. Rogue makes some of the most unique beer there is. It is also one of William’s very favorites so it was a no-brainer. We got a window seat in the restaurant where we could see the boats and bridge.  I loved my Morimoto Soba Ale and William enjoyed the Brutal IPA  ALL their food incorporates their beers in some way…such as the Kimchi Siracha Ale Crab Sliders…delish. Sidenote: In choosing this lifestyle I told myself and my family that we would continue to make mostly homemade meals and keep eating out for really special occasions (such as Gumbo in New Orleans), but we are still in the early stages and in vacation mode and doing dishes has been tricky until today. I still intend to prepare most of our meals….just wanted to share that. Indulging is great and we are definitely self-described foodies, but it is unnecessary and too expensive to eat out every day. End rant. We bought a few beers to take home with us as well. Highly recommended Brewery! 

   
Happy tummies and tired bodies, we left and took a short, really cold and wet, walk on the pier. We were right below the lovely bridge. Zoe liked looking at the boats and avoiding the cracks in the pier. 

  

  We returned to the trailer and our loyal pup. Cozy time. I covered that pesky skylight and made makeshift curtain out of a fleece blanket for our windows. It keeps it darker and warmer. Then when her bedtime came, we began the frustrating, nightly challenge of getting her to stay in her bunk! She pops out quite literally every thirty seconds after we put her down. She is deliriously sleepy, but just can’t help herself. She has made a game out of peeking from behind the curtain, whispering “goodnight”, blowing kisses and scampering back before we can re-place her. It is stinkin’ adorable, but by this time mommy and daddy need some quiet time to unwind and do our own thing for a little bit. She kept it up for over an hour tonight. Same thing last night. It is all still so new and probably overwhelming to her…we will continue to repeatedly, quietly put her back without any rewards of kisses or extra attention each time, but are also considering getting a bed rail for the top bunk. We’ll probably wait until we reach CA to decide, but boy is it exhausting for everyone. It’s all quiet now. Rain on the roof and wind whistling through the windows. There is also the constant hum of our huge dehumidifier that we set up. It collected 50 pints of water out of the air in 2 days. That’s insane to me! All of that moisture would be permeating the walls and our clothes and furniture. Definitely a good investment. We just empty it down the toilet when it fills up. Alrighty, that’s it for tonight. I will come back and post pics tomorrow sometime. The internet connection is pretty spotty. William politely declined to author the post, but he did come up with the title 😉

Take care everyone!

~N