Friday, July 21, 2023

Hot and Cool in California With More Friends

 July 12 - 20, 2023
Morgan Hill - Oceano, California

Again I'm sad to say good-bye and happy to be moving on to see more friends and family. Hugs and see-you-laters, and we continue south. Hwy 680 is a rough mess most of the way (not I-40 dangerous, but nasty still), and I can't help but wonder what new damage the motorhome is going to suffer. 

There are very few RV parks in this area and I'm glad we could get a spot at Maple Leaf RV Park in Morgan Hill for five nights. Clean and safe with easy access, it's also sort of weird (not the good kind). Several park-model units that look like they're for transient work crews, zero ambiance or landscaping, astro turf strips between asphalt and concrete sites. Strange of a different kind is no WiFi - none, not even one that doesn't work. There is a pool and small store with nice staff. The hate agenda sign above the counter is a huge turn-off, but fortunately there are no flags or signs in the park. 

After a quick lunch we make a grocery pickup and then hide out at home because it's HOT! Sacramento was also hot, but I'm more surprised to find the heat this close to the coast. It looks like it's the same in most areas this weekend (122 in Death Valley!) so we'll just ride it out. 

We've had so much fun visiting people during our eight years of traveling. The combination of relatives, high school and college friends, work friends, and RVer friends has added a wonderful layer of entertainment and joy to our lives. This year we've seen fewer than usual, but this last few weeks is all about visiting!

Bill and I were friends with a lot of the same people in high school, and one of our very favorites was Sandie. We have lots of great memories that include this good pal. In addition to a couple reunions, we've seen her here one other time. We're thrilled to get this chance for another visit!

Lauren (Sandie's daughter), Sandie, Bill, Jodee and Tessa

Sandie and Bill - decades of friendship.

The hot bumps up a notch over the weekend, and Saturday afternoon the power is off-and-on for a couple hours. Within minutes it's 97 inside so I'm grateful we have the generator during the longest outage. Thankfully we get through the warm night with no further issues. 

Other than laundry, a little housekeeping, and a quick dash for someone else to heat up their kitchen to feed us, we hunker down at home to avoid the oppressive heat. If I'd made earlier reservations, and had sold a kidney, we'd be parked at the beach for this stop!

Monday Bill has the great idea of going to Santa Cruz before we meet up with David and Morgan in Santa Clara. The temps have dropped some, but it's 20 degrees cooler at the beach! My oldest, our #1, Brian, lived in Santa Cruz for a couple years so we send him some pics of his places. Our favorite eatery was Santa Cruz Diner so breakfast there is a must-stop. It's freezing inside (put-my-puffer-coat-on cold), but the meal is as good as it always was. Downtown and the Boardwalk are packed with zero parking available. Instead we take the pretty drive along the water front before heading north.

Still looks the same.

We've visited several NFL stadiums around the country, been on some of the tours, shopped the pro-shops. It's been fun to see how different they all are. But we've never been to the new California/Las Vegas stadiums! One of the reasons we made this stop is to see the 49ers' stadium in Santa Clara. 

It's a big disappointment. Maybe the least-appealing one after the Superdome in New Orleans. And the pro-shop is closed as well. We're still checking it off the list!

Hope it looks better on the inside.

The trip has a silver lining as we're meeting David and Morgan for dinner! They live here and when we saw them last week in Clearlake we were so glad we'd get this chance for another visit. Pedro's is a beautiful venue with good food and service. Of course the company is wonderful.

Looking like a vintage hacienda in the big city.

Tuesday morning we head south for more visiting along the coast where we'll enjoy the last of our cool temps for the rest of the summer. Most of the parks on California's central coast are stupid expensive, if you can find a vacancy in the summer. Pacific Dunes Ranch RV Resort is away from the hustle of Pismo and Avila Beaches, and although it butts up to the dunes, the beach is not close. 

After another rough-road drive on Hwy 101, through gorgeous golden hills, we get set up in our tight dirt space. 50 amp FHUs and a picnic table is about it in this "resort". Another over-priced and marginally maintained Thousand Trails park. And they charge for WiFi!

Alas, the weather is glorious and we're here to visit Bill's college besties again. Wednesday we join them for brunch in nearby Grover Beach.

Lori and I enjoy some time moseying through the cute downtown of Arroyo Grande, finding some small treasures before joining Steve and Bill back at the park. The sun comes out and we sit outside for a few hours getting caught up. They always wanted to retire in this area where they (and Bill) went to college, and we're so happy for them that they were able to make that happen about four years ago. 

Thursday we sleep in and head to their lovely home about noon. Overlooking vineyards with a perfect floorplan, we love visiting here. More fun conversation and a delicious home-cooked meal, and as always the time is over too quickly. 


Friday we're leaving 65 degrees for 90 :-( but there are grands to see and that's a lot of good reasons to continue south!!

A nod to the best daughters-in-law anyone could ask for - moms to our special grands.

M&M's mom Jillian.

Oliver and Mommy Christie.

Mom to Reese and Penelope, Emily.

Shalise - mom to Ezra and Elliott.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Fun With Family and Friends

July 6 - 12, 2023
Willits - Clearlake Oaks - Sacramento, California

An easy 20 minute drive south on Hwy 101 takes us to Cummins West in Arcata. We're expected and Brian takes his laptop to the rig for the diagnosis. It's so funny to me to pull into a diesel repair shop where everything they work on is big and should need big tools to fix - and they use a laptop!

Not a computer update or fuel cap - but they do have the nox sensors in stock that need replacing. Breakfast at Tony's is still delicious (we ate there last time we had work done), and after a short drive around the area we're hooking up the Jeep and heading down the road. So not a cheap fix, but I'm grateful it's a quick one.

Arcata has its share of lovely Victorians.

I love the detail over the porch (the same as the yellow house!) and the pretty Monkey Puzzle Tree.

My favorite of the week - look at that front porch entrance!
The small burg of Blue Lake has little to see but this detailed mural on the corner mercantile.

It's weird how different southbound Hwy 101 looks and feels from Eureka to Willits. We both comment on how we hardly recognize this route we've driven north on numerous times! It includes the section south of Fortuna with the Redwoods that are inches from the road's edge - always fun! 

Enjoying more Yellowstone (the shows, not the park) podcasts, the two and a half hours go by quickly. Mendocino Redwoods RV Park used to be a KOA (we've stayed here before), and we arrive to thousands (maybe dozens) of kids at the pool, at the small water park, playing mini golf, riding bicycles everywhere. This is the most activity we've seen since the campground at Mackinaw City last year. It's a wild zoo. I'm assuming families took the whole week for the holiday. Good for them, we leave Saturday.

Before we went on the road Bill and I both had favorite places and Fort Bragg/Mendocino is one of his. We've visited together a few times and it never disappoints. One of our small "traditions" is breakfast at Eggheads. It's a tiny eatery with a Wizard of Oz theme, including a small restroom building "out back in the Emerald City". Our meal is yummy, and a short shopping stroll yields no purchases. 

It takes me a minute to see the silhouettes are theater seats.

The interior used to be very cute, but now is just painted all white :-(  Your knees still hit the door though!

Mendocino has many quaint historic buildings and a handful of very expensive specialty shops. No touristy t-shirts and key chains vendors here. I come away with a pair of socks :-)

I see a lot of beautiful succulents in this area, but this one really caught my eye - wow!

We spot a large herd of pelicans floating in the cove.

I love the color of the water.

The drive between Fort Bragg and Willits is all lovely green forest. Pines, hardwoods, Redwoods, it's almost completely dark in some places. It's also a main thoroughfare to the coast and very busy. I'm always surprised by the size of the trucks that drive the gazillion tight and narrow curves. One of those drives that makes me miss my little convertible! 

Saturday morning we leave the masses behind and head south and inland on Hwy 20. Our destination is a family visit in Clearlake. Bill's sister-in-law lives on the keys and I've found a small (and very humble) RV park nearby. Island Park RV is on a narrow point of land with mostly dated permanent trailers, quite a bit of trash and weeds, and absolutely stunning waterfront views. Our site is mostly level (the other options are not) with 50 amp FHUs three feet from the water. Rough dirt surface with some grass behind and some nice shade trees. Everything works including their WiFi and our satellite connects. Very quiet with just the sound of the water lapping the wall and the leaves rustling overhead. 

Waterfront with views of Mount Konocti for $40/night.

As long as you look in this direction, it's a pretty park.

Not long after we set up we're out the door to see the family. We're going to Marilyn's house where we're also expecting nephew David and his wife Morgan, and Marilyn's daughter Jenna. We get an additional wonderful surprise when we find Bill's cousin David and wife Dianna have also joined us!! 

Hours of grand conversation in Marilyn's lovely home on the water, and a scrumptious home cooked meal, and not a single photo! I continue to be incredibly bad at remembering people pics :-( David and Diana head home after dinner, and we head to ours a couple hours later. 

Happily we have a whole day to play on Sunday!

Clearlake is the largest natural lake in North America with a lot of geological and cultural history. Jenna is very knowledgeable about both, and we enjoy learning about the volcano and the tribes that shaped the area on our morning drive. 

Upper Lake has maintained a cute downtown where we have a delicious, although inefficiently served, brunch with live music under the trees. 

Tasty vittles!

Marilyn, Bill, David, Morgan and Jenna - family!

Sweet roadster - how fun on a beautiful day.

I love this beautiful room - in the Tallman Hotel next door.

Even cuter than the fireplace room!

Tall men and tall women and me.

Stunning mural down the street.

I have forgotten my phone a few (several) times but Bill never does - it's also his wallet. So it's surprising when we get back to the house and he has forgotten his at the restaurant :-0! Tessa and I go back to retrieve it (they did find it) so he can visit with his sister-in-law and nephew. Not a hardship driving around that beautiful lake!

David and Morgan have to work on Monday so they (and their Cockatiel) head home. We watch a couple hysterical comics on TV, visit some more, and too soon it's time for us to leave as well. We love these people so very much, and are grateful for this time to get caught up. We're hoping they'll all come to Arizona soon!

Morgan and David load up their feather-baby Frankie for the trip back to Santa Clara. I'm happy to say we're going to see them there next week :-)

Sorry to leave family behind, and excited to move east to see my BFF and her hubby! Our drive through the oak-dotted hills of Hwy 20 to I-5 is always so pretty! We get backed into their wide driveway in Sacramento for a few days of moochdocking! They've generously moved their rig to the street to accommodate us :-) 

Five lane off-ramp - back in a California city!

We've found the summer heat here, after months of near-perfect weather. Grateful they have 50 amp hookups, and also a nice cool home to visit in. It's hot!

Janis has dinner ready, then we have a gab-fest for hours [the guys head in opposite directions for naps :-)]. It's been way too long since we've seen each other, although we text almost daily.

Happy to be hangin' with my bestest in her pretty home.

Tuesday is a great day going to see the new Indiana Jones movie - Excellent!! - in the most comfy theater seats we've ever sat in. What a treat. Tessa loves it too :-) Following that we enjoy a delicious late lunch at Cheesecake Factory. They are such gorgeous restaurants (unlike their depiction on Big Bang Theory), it always feels like a special event to eat here.

Nick, Janis, Jodee and Bill - Tessa snoozing under the table.

Nick got a new electric trike a couple months ago so right now they have three. Yes, I'd love to take a spin around the neighborhood (we ride 11 miles) with the two of you! What a difference it makes having an electric motor on those hills. I definitely "get" the appeal of E-bikes now. 

Yes, we coordinated our shirts to look like an Easter parade. Thank you for asking!

While we're out riding, the mobile wash/wax team shows up to give our very, very dirty motorhome a much-needed cleaning. I'm embarrassed to say how long its been (years), but she now looks brand new again. Everything will probably stop breaking now that she knows we really do love her. Bill says the dirt was the only thing keeping her together. Let's hope I'm right this time!!

Before all the bugs on Thursday!

Once again the time flies by way too quickly and we're packing up and pulling out. Time with the BFF is always cathartic, more so the older we get :-) It was an amazing visit with great friends - hopefully they'll come see us soon!

Elliott's getting a little red in those curls :-)

Our sweet giggly Penelope and Reese.

Handsome Oliver getting so big. He won't be the youngest after this month!