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Friday, September 30, 2011

Back in CA

We are now at Mountain Gate RV north of Redding, CA.
After settling in Thurs we drove into Redding to look around, what a change in temp. it was 97 in Redding Thur. I was ready to warm up from the cool damp of the coast but not that much, but their weather is going to change with a storm coming in Sunday much cooler and rain and snow in the higher elevations.
Today we visited Lassen Volcanic Nat'l Park, it's a pretty park and not busy at this time of year. We did a hike to see the mud pots and boiling lakes, we were in the company of school kids. Ken had fun photographing a American Dipper, we saw a pair of Wood Ducks but we haven't been seeing the birds we thought we see. It was a long day and we're tired tonight.
Come visit again to see what we find to do around Redding, we are here for 2 more nights.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Crater Lake Area

We've visited Crater Lake Nat'l Park, it is beautiful. The lake was formed when the molted lava under the mountain flowed out through nearby volcanoes and the mountain collapsed. When we visited it was unexpectedly cold, there are still patches of snow from their record snowfall last winter. We knew it would be cooler than the valley but almost freezing so we didn't do any trails just drove the rim.
We did have some luck in coming across a flock of Red Crossbills and Pine Siskins on the rocks of the Lodge, we decided they were getting minerals from the wall. The Crossbills are a new bird for us.
We are staying at the KOA at Gold Hill a little town outside Medford, OR. We went into Medford after settling into our site Monday, we walked through the Harry and David Store. Medford is their headquarters, they have a candy factory and some orchards in the area we didn't buy anything too expensive.
Pears are gown here as well as grapes so there are several wineries in the area too.
Today we took in some of the local sights. Jacksonville down the road is one of Oregon's oldest towns, it is one of 8 towns in US that is a National Historical Site, founded when gold was discovered nearby. Unfortunately many of the shops are closed on Wednesday so we didn't stay long so off to find the waterfalls in the area. The Rogue River and it's many feeder rivers is a big recreational destination, lots of rafting in the summer.
We also took in Eagle Point's historical working grist mill.
Oregon is one of the last states that have a law that you can't pump your own gas and there is no sales tax here. I think we should have done some shopping!!!
But we are heading south tomorrow, back to CA.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A new state and last looks at coast

Friday morning we got up and found a flat tire on our car, so part of the morning was spent at Les Schwab Tire Center.
We then drove through Redwood Nat'l Park.
We stopped and took Paul Bunyan's photo at Trees of Mystery a tourist attraction before looking for a herd of Roosevelt Elk. We drove to a state park where they were suppose to hang out but they were not there after paying $7 entrance fee. We found them on the way out in the Redwood Nat'l Park Visitor Center and then a couple more driving into Crescent City.
Saturday was very foggy so we hung around the RV for awhile before deciding to go back to the Trees of Mystery and visit the End of Trail Museum. It is a free museum donated by a lady who collected most of the Indian artifacts in the museum. There were so many wonderful things, head dresses, tools, etc from most of the Native Peoples of North America. We really enjoyed her collection. We then went across the street for a bite to eat, the restaurant is decorated to look like you are under the water, so when you look up at the ceiling you see duck bottoms.
We then drove to the mouth of the Smith River to look for birds, but we found Harbor Seals, even better! The town of Smith River has the distinction of being the Easter Lily Capital, the lilies gown there are sold all over the US, in fact the biggest grower of the lilies in the states.
Today after the evening of rain the skies were bluer and we went bird hunting at the Battery Lighthouse and we think we now have Snowy Plovers and Wimbrils to add to our life list.
After a quick lunch at McDonalds, we head north up hwy 101 and we cross into Oregon a new state for me. The little coastal towns are picturesque. We get to Cape Blanco Lighthouse in time for the last tour. We get to climb up to the big light and learn about the light keepers life. There were four keepers so two worked and two rested, they had a lot to do. Besides keeping the oil reservoir filled to keep the light going, they had to clean, paint, keep track of all the passing ships, and take care of the occasional visitor.
Part of highway 101 was being used for a commercial so we had a delay going up and coming back.
We still like Crescent City, it's fog and chill but maybe the little towns in Oregon are quainter???
Tomorrow we head closer to Crater National Park.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Crescent City

We had a nice day to move north to Crescent City, highway 101 is very scenic up this way.
It was a little foggy when we arrived and took our little tour to the lighthouse and down Pebble Beach road but it cleared some so we retraced our drive to get the lighthouse with blue sky.
We spotted two pair of Oyster Catchers and a pair of Black Turnstones, I just had my little point and shoot so I couldn't get the turnstones.
We stopped at the visitors center and learned that when Japan had their earthquake in March a tsunami created from it hit Crescent City and damaged their little harbor. They are still working cleaning out the silt.
Our first impression of Crescent City is that we really like it, it has a beautiful coastline, homes are beautiful and it seems to be a quaint little seaside village with a Walmart. Redwood National Forest is just down the road in fact we drove thru part on our way here today. There is a promising area to find birds and the KOA is in a redwood forest and very quiet.
Come back and see if we feel the same in a few days.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

foggy day

It was a foggy day today, we thought it might move out but we learned that the sun doesn't shine very often at Patricks Point State Park where we visited today.
It wasn't a bad day for taking floral photos and the Banana slugs like the area.
We heard California Sea Lions in the distance and below the cliff we were standing on Harbor Seals were resting, I photo shopped the photo so you could see the seal.
Blackberry bushes are everywhere, some are still blooming with almost ripe berries.
We spent some time on the Agate Beach looking for pretty stones.
This Black tailed deer wasn't afraid of us as it munched away.
Tomorrow we head about 90 more miles north to Crescent City for 4 nights, we are slowly heading to Crater Lake National Park in Oregon before we start south again.
I got a couple loads of laundry done this afternoon, it'll be nice to have clean sheets tonight. I tend to do laundry every two weeks, it has been costing $2 a load to wash and same to dry.
Gasoline is $4.07 for regular and $4.35 for diesel, groceries are higher then they are back home.
The Walmarts are not super Walmarts but do carry a some groceries, and not every good sized town has one, Eureka doesn't but it does have a Kmart and Target.
More big trees tomorrow....and Pacific coastline if we can see it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Giants and more

So much to see and they are so big....
We drove the 30 mile Avenue of Giants, the Big Redwoods.
Yes, I had to have Ken do the drive through the tree, it is privately owned so it cost $6 to drive though it. Redwoods are hard to kill, they will regrow from their stumps but the new growth isn't as good as the old growth. So you will see forests of the new growth Redwoods but they are trying to save the old big tree groves.
After that drive we took a twisty road to Shelter Cove.
Then ended the day with a stop at Eureka's boardwalk that looks over to Woodley Island.

Today we stayed around Eureka, the morning was very foggy so we took in the Blue Ox Museum. It is actually a working museum, they still do millwork for restorations and new homes making those beautiful gingerbread pieces for Victorian homes. It is also a school showing teenagers how to do blacksmithing, the old art of letter press printing and woodworking.
We then visited Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Samoa Dunes Recreation Area and a couple of highlights of Eureka the Carson Mansion and Romano Gabriel Wooden Sculptures (which are folkart pieces saved from Gabriel's yard). I didn't put a photo of them in this post, sorry. Next to the Fisherman's Memorial we found a flock of Marble Godwits and a few Black Turnstones, nice find for us.
We have been surprised at the number of young people hitchhiking and begging at street corners here. It reminds me of the 60's I've even seen a few dressed liked the old hippies.
More tomorrow...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Eureka....we keep going north

We are now in the Eureka KOA, we arrived around 2 and have already visited the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary where we saw all these Western Sandpipers. Can you count them?
We also saw a Green Heron, Black-crown Night Heron and a Belted Kingfisher, not a bad start.
We spent 2 nights at the KOA in Willits which had a busy weekend. It's a really nice family oriented campground with all kinds of activities.
We drove over to Ft. Bragg to see the Skunk Train and ended up riding it.
Our last day in Petaluma we took a couple of drives, we went over to Sonoma and to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area where we saw more of the GG Bridge.
We are in Redwood area as well as on the coast so there is a lot to see, come back and visit.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Typical Tourists

Today we drove a little of the wine country, stopped at the Chamber of Commerce in Healdville and they gave us a few passes which are complementary taste passes otherwise the winery's charge around $7 for 5 tastes. We stopped at Coppala winery, the movie director, didn't taste any wine just enjoyed his movie artifacts. In fact, we didn't taste any wine, we did taste champagne at the Korbel winery. Their tasting was free if you took their tour, which is very interesting.
We drove back to Petaluma taking a short section of Hwy 1 along the coast.

Tuesday, we went to San Francisco and rode the cable and street cars. We also visited the National Maritime Museum. We had lunch at the In and Out and finished with a stop at Giradelli. Parking is expensive it cost us $32 for our 5 hour visit, but we had a good time.
The Golden Gate Bridge was covered with fog our whole visit.
The temps are much cooler here highs in the 70's and low in 50's.
Not sure what we're doing next so you'll have to visit again to find out.

Monday, September 12, 2011

From SFNorth/Petaluma KOA

We are now in Petaluma, CA just 30 miles north of San Francisco.
We checked out the visitor's center to get maps and info on the area, then headed out to the Point Reyes Nat'l Seashore a 30 plus drive.
We heard some seals when walking back from the lighthouse and looked over and there they were some harbor seals.
Today we went to Petaluma's Shollenberger Park which is the local wetlands to see what birds we could find there, not many yet.
We then headed back to Point Reyes to walk down and see the lighthouse which was closed on our first visit. It is 300 steps down and 300 steps back and I did it.
We stopped at Drakes Beach and Limantour Beach both in the Nat'l Seashore, at Limantour there is a estero to walk by also supposed to be a bird haven, but it is still too early. There were reports of the Snowy Plovers on the beach and we did see some small shorebirds fly over us from the beach but we really can't ID flying shorebirds yet.
We did come upon 4 Tule Elk and two looking like they were practicing for rut season.
This KOA is really a popular campground, we haven't taken time to walk around it yet, but is nicely wooded and we have seen two new birds for us right here at our campsite the CA Towhee and Chestnut-sided Chickadee.
Stay tuned for more from Petaluma.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

from Sacramento

We have spent the last 3 nights at the West Sacramento KOA and have been exploring the some of the area.
The temp has been above normal almost a 100 but it is a dry heat so not so bad.
We wandered about Old Sacramento with it's quaint old west buildings, we spent a couple of hours going through the State Railroad Museum and took a short walk around the Capital grounds which are beautiful, lined with various CA trees, a rose garden and cactus garden along with the memorials to Vietnam, WWII, and Spanish American War. It happened to be CA state birthday and they had a birthday cake on the west lawn.

Today we took a drive to Jamestown to see the Railtown State Park,the trains and buildings were saved by the early movie business as Engine No. 3 has starred in many movies, TV shows and commercials.
We stopped at the Ghiradalli outlet for ice cream and of course bought some chocolate.
We learned some about the almond growing business after stopping at the Blue Diamond factory and store. This is the fruit ready to be harvested, they shake the tree then rake up the nuts. The tree blooms in Feb.
This area has acres and acres of almond trees, grapes and other fruit and vegetables, during our drive we saw truck loads of plum tomatoes going to market.
We are heading out again tomorrow, stay tuned to see where we go next.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Letter from Yosemite

Our two weeks have flown by and we've just hit the highlights of Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. I envy the young and adventurists who stay most of the summer and backpack some of the 800 miles of trails. The locals have a wonderful place to live such a varied place, arid yet farmlands growing grapes, peaches, almonds and oranges. Most surprising to us was the temp. in the valley it's been almost a 100 the whole time of our visit, of course it's cooler in the higher elevations.
Our favorite place was Yosemite's Tioga Pass road, we went there twice (3 times if you count our drive down in the RV). The crowds were smaller though the parking areas of the favorite trails would fill up fast. In the valley, bus loads came in so it got quite congested, it seemed every language could be heard and very little English, but in most part everyone was polite and friendly.
There were warning signs about the bears everywhere about proper food storage and how to frighten them away. Smoke on road warnings were here and there, as there seemed to be a fire somewhere in the park, more than just the RV fire you may have heard about that took 5200 acres and may still be smoldering. And many Please don't feed the animals....especially those cute squirrels.
As for Kings Canyon and Sequoia parks, King's Canyon would be our choice. The shuttle buses in the Giant Grove in Sequoia were over crowded and if you'd been to Grant's Grove in Kings Canyon no need to put your self thru the mess. You can drive yourself to see the "Biggest tree" in Seqouia and be done with it. Although it was in Sequoia where we saw our bear.
We learned about the Sequoia's in the Marisopa Grove in Yosemite, that about 25% of the old trees were harvested, they splinter when cut unlike their relative the Redwood where 95
% of those have been harvested. The Redwood grow taller and the Sequoia grows wider from just a egg sized cone which holds hundreds of oatmeal sized seeds. The Sugar Pine has the largest cone which can get 3 feet long, avg. we saw were around a foot or longer and is the most harvested and has the best wood.
Our KOA was nice and quiet during the week. The best birding was there with quail, acorn woodpeckers entertaining Squeakie right outside the window, Western Bluebirds, Lesser Goldfinches, Jays, Oak titmice and we heard a Great Horned Owl a couple of mornings.
It took us an hour or longer to drive into the Yosemite Valley. Why are we not in the park, the campgrounds are all dry camping, we like our electric and they are usually full and need prior reservations. There's a big Chukchansi Indian Casino just down the road where Glen Campbell will soon be appearing. We are only 30 miles away from Fresno, and all the big stores. We went down one day to look for a RV side light that was broken off on the twisty roads through Yosemite on our way down, (no luck finding the part Ken will have to order one) and we had the oil changed on the car. The small town of Oakhurst where we stop at McDonald's or Carl's Jr. go or coming back from Yosemite looks like a real nice place with quaint shops and art galleries.
We are taking only our photos, a few smashed pennies and memories from this beautiful wilderness. What was it like when John Muir and Ansel Adams and the other early visitors came....no shuttle buses and no paved Tioga Pass Road hmmmm?
Well it's time to move on, you'll have to visit again to find out where we stop next.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

More of Yosemite

It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter.
John Muir

Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks are just an hour's drive away so we are taking them in too.
Have a great holiday weekend!!