Feb 28, 2007

Colds and Sniffles

We have both got bad colds. We started feeling down on Sunday, and it has finally got us. I think we got the bug as a going away gift from Portland. We are staying home today to recuperate. We are taking some decongestants and drinking hot tea. The weather is nice and we are planning to drive down to Los Olivos tomorrow for the day.
Hope your day has less sniffles than ours.

Feb 26, 2007

Rain, Redwoods, and a leaky drain

Saturday morning was departure day from Portland and we were on the road by 7:15. It was raining but traffic wasn't too bad.

With snow in the forecast for the mountain passes in southern Oregon and northern California, we had to make a decision on which route back into California we would be taking. After checking the internet for a weather update on Friday we realized we were required to have chains if we wanted to go on I-5 over the Siskiyou mountain range in southern Oregon. Finding out that it would cost us $200.00 for chains, we decided to take the coastal route. It is slower but much more scenic.

We took on some fuel south of Portland and arrived in the town of Winchester Bay by 11:30. Hmm, it's lunch time and we're in Winchester Bay. Isn't that great little seafood place called Griff's on the Bay located here? It was pouring rain when we arrived but we didn't care. It's a beautiful area even when it rains. So once again we got to enjoy some great local seafood. I had a bowl of cioppino, Judy had a cup of clam chowder and we split an order of halibut. Very delicious.

We hit the road again and ended the day south of Eureka, California in a little town called Fortuna. After 9-10 hours on the road we were both tired so dinner consisted of a frozen south beach microwave meal, and a baked sweet potato. Judy was doing dishes and noticed we had a leak again under the sink. We have had a problem with the drain most of the trip but were hoping to make it home before we needed to do serious repairs. Looks like I will be doing a drain hose repair when we get to Paso Robles.

Sunday morning we were again on the road by 7:15 and headed south through the redwoods on 101. About 2 hours later as we were driving along Judy asked what all that white stuff was on the road. We were at a high enough elevation that the rain had turned to sleet. It only lasted 15 minutes or so, but we quickly slowed down. Looking over the edge with no guard rails to see a stream several hundred feet down was enough to keep me on my toes. We came through Oakland around noon without any slowdowns. Traffic was heavy but since this was Sunday, it was moving well and the rain had stopped.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. We drove through the Garlic capital of Gilroy, through Salinas and arrived at Wine Country Rv Park where we will be for a week. I think both of us are a feeling a little down. Both from the trip and from missing those we left in Portland. But once again we are thankful for our time there and for safe travels.

Monday morning it was time to tackle the drain problem. As you can see in the pictures it required taking out the stove to get to the drain. The problem was twofold. First a plastic fitting had broken, and secondly, the flexible tubing which connects 2 rigid parts of the drain had split. The reason for all this is our home has a slide which moves in and out. There needs to be some flexible hose to allow that to happen. Three trips to the plumbing store and a little bit of fabrication and the repair was finished. I guess all those years of working on the boat and photo processors paid off.

The day wasn't all work and no play. In the late afternoon we drove over to Cambria to have dinner with friends visiting from Michigan, Chris, Teresa and Audrey. We will be visiting some wineries in the Paso Robles area and doing a little wine tasting for the next couple of days.
We arrived back home in time to do some reading and tv watching, and Judy did a little knitting on another blanket she's working on.

We hope your day was a good one too.

Feb 23, 2007

Sushi, Salmon, and a Scrapbook

This is our last post from Portland. The 11 days went by too fast. Our last day began with some motor home maintenance. Then we were off to Safeway for a few groceries, and then on to lunch with Michelle and family.

We met at to a wonderful Japanese restaurant. Ian and I went for the sushi combo which had salmon, shrimp and eel among other things. It was great. Judy and Michelle had the Bento. I'm sure it is available in other areas but Portland is the only place we have seen it. Bento is basically an Asian box lunch. Judy's bento had salad, spicy chicken, tofu and California roll. All neatly arranged in little compartments in a box. A feast for the eye as well as the stomach.
After running a few more errands, we found a little French patisserie that Julie had recommended. It brought back wonderful memories of being in Paris. We had a great cup of coffee and a chocolate brioche, that we shared. Need I say more.

As this was our last evening together before we left Portland, Michelle and Ian invited us, and Julie , and Jeremy over to their apartment for dinner. They prepared a wonderful meal of baked salmon with couscous. It was excellent.

Michelle also surprised us by giving us a very nice personal scrapbook of our Portland visit that she had been working on. Of course that was enough to make Judy a little teary eyed. We have always wanted our kids to be independent and worldly. Not in a material sense but an awareness of this great big world we live in. Of course they could have done it a little closer to home.I must tell you it is a challenge to see everyone in person now that we have kids on both coasts and one in the Midwest. Sometimes email or phone calls just aren't enough. You gotta hold em. If you are a parent I don't need to say more.

We enjoyed our stay and it was great to be with Michelle and Ian, Julie and Jeremy, and Nemo and Mia. We left a piece of us in Portland, but we take with us precious memories.

Feb 20, 2007

Britney, Spam and Shrove Tuesday

Wow with a title like that you have to wonder about our day. Actually it started out the way most days here have started......Rain!! Ok, I know I'm complaining. I know it's February in Portland and that's what it's suppose to do and I know you all back in Michigan have had it cold and nasty and except for those who use mechanical means to go careening through the woods you are probably sick of the snow. There, that was a great run on sentence. By the way it has been brought to my attention that there were some grammatical errors in yesterday's post. That's what I get for not having Judy proof read it.

But more about today. Since Judy got her hair done yesterday, today it's my turn. A #1 attachment on the clippers and the job is done. Of course in my case Judy only has to do the back half. The front seldom needs doing. When she was done, I resembled Britney, but of course I kept the beard so there would be no confusion.

Then it was time to head out with #2 daughter, Michelle, to shop for shoes for Judy. And guess what? When I opened the door to go outside, the sun was actually shining. Looks like it's going to be a good day. Two pairs of shoes later, one coffee stop, fill up the car with gas (By the way they pump it here for you), and it was time to pick up grandson Nemo from Preschool and head out to lunch.

Portland has lots of choices for lunch without having to give in to the Franchise type. Today we had Hawaiian food at a little place called 'Ohana'. I had Teriyaki chicken and Judy had barbecued chicken. Both came with a side of rice and macaroni salad. Sounds strange, but it's really tasty. I also had a side order of what can best be described as a small block of rice topped with a piece of grilled spam and wrapped in Nori. Kind of like giant Spam sushi. I know it sounds strange but it was great.

After lunch it was nap time for Mia, so Nemo, Grandpa, and Grandma went to a used record store and then to the mall to look for some new jeans for Grandma. I've been wanting to find some cd's or old fashioned albums of the group called the “Dillards”. If you are a fan of the old “Andy Griffith Show” you would remember a strange singing family called the Darlings who used to visit Mayberry from time to time. Well the Darlings played blue grass music and their real name was the Dillards. I found one cd and 2 albums. The jeans were found at the mall and then it was time to head back to Michelle and Ian's so we could leave for the final event of the day.

Nemo attends Montessori preschool at a local Lutheran church. They were having a pancake supper at the church tonight as a fund raiser for the preschool. We were informed it was also Shrove Tuesday which I've learned is kind of like Fat Tuesday only a little more subdued. In Canada, this day is also known as Pancake Day because it is customary to eat pancakes on this day. Maybe that explains the Pancake supper??

Michelle and Ian had volunteered to help serve and of course we got to help watch Mia and Nemo. Nemo's preschool class then entertained us with a few songs and the evening was over.

As we got out of the car tonight to enter our home on wheels I looked up and there it was the moon. The clouds had cleared just long enough for us to see it. Amazing isn't it. A little Sun, a little Moon, fun with the family and suddenly the rain doesn't seem so bad. And one other thing. Nobody made fun of my hair cut today.

Eat your heart out Britney!!!!

Feb 19, 2007

Finding Nemo....... and Mia

So why would anyone come to Portland this time of year?? It's rainy, oh and by the way, did I mention it's gray and it's really rainy. Well the reason we are in Portland is family, 2 daughters, one son in law, one boyfriend of a daughter and 2 grandkids ( Nemo and Mia).

I realize it's been a week since our last update, but we've been busy. Between playing, watching and having sleepovers there hasn't been time for writing. But with it raining today, Big surprise, the warden has order me to post. I should also say that last Saturday it was beautiful, no rain and 60 degrees.

Yesterday we all went to Newport on the coast. There is an incredible aquarium there. Not quite Monterey, but very good. After our learning experience, we went to Mo's for lunch. There claim to fame is clam chowder. It was very good.

Today was fix it day. Judy got her hair fixed and I got to fix some things on the Jeep and to try and find a leak in the motorhome. The jeep got 2 new battery cable clamps and 2 new headlights and the leak turned out to be coming from the washer/dryer. It was a simple repair. Judy is diligently knitting. She is determined to finish Mia's blanket before we leave on Saturday.

We are staying at the Columbia River Rv Park. It is on the final approach to PDX, so yes Jonathan we are enjoying watching the planes. This is a nice park, but we long for more open spaces. It is convenient to family so it all works out. In closing, we realize how blessed we are to have family, and to be able to enjoy time with them. Stay tune for more details on our stay in Portland.

Emma and Ella we'll see you soon.
P.s. If you'd like to see any of the pictures larger, simply double click on them.

Feb 11, 2007

Oysters, Wood Blocks and a Measuring Cup

Sunday, February 11th

We had three items on our agenda today: buy a measuring cup, find wood blocks to level the motor home with, and go up to Winchester Bay.
But first we had to eat breakfast. Today was oatmeal day. Not the instant kind, but the regular, good for you hearty kind, cooked on top of the stove with some dried cherries in it. We've come to really like oatmeal day. With breakfast eaten, it was off to Walmart. We needed a new liquid measuring cup as our other one had fallen on the floor and broken a couple of weeks ago. The measuring cup was easy to find but no luck finding wood blocks. No luck at the Ace hardware or Lumbermans store either.

So we headed up the coast to explore Winchester Bay and see the Umpqua River lighthouse....
Our friends Bob and Linda of http://www.because-we-can.net/ worked at the lighthouse last fall. Bob lead tours of the lighthouse and Linda worked in the museum and we were anxious to see where they had volunteered.
(Actually we wanted to see whether there actually was a lighthouse or if they had fabricated the whole story) : )
Well, as you can see in the pictures there really is a lighthouse. What a beauty it is, perched on a hill overlooking the bay. There aren't any tours this time of year so we just walked around a bit and took some pictures.

It was soon lunch time and we found our way over to the little town of Winchester Bay and Salmon Harbor. If you remember one of my previous posts, I said if I ever come up missing, look for me in Napa Valley. Well, if you don't find me there you might try Winchester Bay. I'm a sucker for marinas and fishing boats and this one's a beauty., We found a great little restaurant “Griff's on the Bay” for lunch. (On a side note when we got back to the RV this afternoon we were reading our emails and Judy had received one from Linda. She said they had only gone to one restaurant when they were here last fall and guess which one it was.... )

I love fresh seafood and it was time to take a break from the South Beach regimen the 'warden' has me on. There is nothing like a plate of fresh fish and local oysters ever so lightly breaded and fried to a golden brown and served with fries. The oysters were fixed just right, they just melted in your mouth. Judy had the halibut nuggets but skipped the oysters, too bad. Our lunch was worth every single calorie, fat , and carbohydrate gram!!

We drove on to Reedsport and then retraced our route back to Coos Bay. On our way back we detoured up the north side of the river to watch a ship docking. Yes Jonathan, it's a lot like watching planes land only slower. While were watching the ship we also saw something that one doesn't get to see very often, a magnificent, complete rainbow over the bay. Not a bad way to end the afternoon.

Oh, we finally did find some wood blocks. Turns out the office had a huge pile of them. So a few minutes later boards under leveling jacks, jacks come down and we have a level home. As you can tell it doesn't take much to make our day.

Feb 10, 2007

On to Coos Bay

Saturday February 10

Since our plan for today was to only drive 2 hrs north to Coos Bay, Oregon, we weren't in any rush to get going this morning. We fixed eggs and coffee and enjoyed a great view of the harbor outside our front window as we ate breakfast.

After a quick stop to take on diesel ($3.33 per gallon...WHAT!!) we were on our way once again.
Even though it rained most of the way we enjoyed a safe, uneventful trip up the coast with beautiful views of the ocean and rugged coast.

The only Passport America rv park in Coos Bay claims to be the second highest rated park in the state. That was good enough for us, so we headed to the Midway RV park. What a nice park this turned out to be. The sites are all paved, full hook-ups, with cable and wi-fi.

One rather unusual request at this park is they ask that wood blocks be used under the jacks or face a $150.00 fine if the site has to be repaired. Well, guess what...we don't carry wood blocks with us.

Oh well, guess we'll survive one night listing slightly to the left. :)

More pictures from our Road trip

Since I haven't figured out how to add more than 5 images to a post, and Judy wanted more, this is a continuation of our trip to Crescent City. In reviewing our pictures we realized how narrow and curvy 101 is. It was a good day and we are thankful that once again we arrived safe and sound.

On the Road again

Friday, February 9

With the weather channel calling for rain again all the way up the northern coast today we weren't sure we wanted to leave Santa Rosa. However by 8:45 we were on our way, heading North up Highway 101 and as it turned out we glad we did.

North of Santa Rosa, the highway winds and curves it's way through the mountains and is sometimes a 4 lane road and other times becomes 2 lane. Beautiful in spite of the rain.

Just south of the little town of Garberville, we found a lovely turn off area that was right beside the Eel river so we pulled over to fix a quick lunch of ham and cheese wraps. By the time we had finished eating the rain had just about stopped -- so don't always go by the weather channel's forecast :)
We decided that we would try to go as far as Crescent City today and found an RV park listed in the Passport America guide for $12. a night with full hook-ups.

So, with that being our destination, we came into this little town, tired from 6 hrs of driving, and we began the search for King Street where we needed to turn to go into this park. Of course, the street sign was very small we didn't see it and just after driving past it we realized our mistake.
Now one of our (mostly John's) pet peeves is overshooting the entrance to an rv park since our home doesn't turn on a dime especially when towing the jeep. After a few heated words between driver and navigator (note to Melissa, we did refrain from using the D word) we found a empty gravel lot to turn around in and we headed back to the missed park. Upon entering the park we discovered the office was closed because of manager illness but there was a sign instructing us to just pick a site and settle up later. All the empty sites were small and would have required us to unhook the jeep and back in.

It was approaching 4pm and we were tired and ready to stop for the night. We didn't really like the look and feel of this place but we weren't sure where to go. We even thought about spending the night in the local Walmart parking lot, if we could find it. We remembered a park we passed as we were coming into town that had looked ok but didn't want to spend full price on full hook-ups when all we really needed was just electric. We drove out of the first RV park and down the road into the Shoreline RV Campground where they gave us a deal- full hookups for $17. since the park was practically empty. And the best part about the campground, like the name said, it was right on the shore.

Feb 9, 2007

Rain, salad, and chocolate cake

Thursday February 8
Woke up this morning to more rain, so we made a command decision. We were planning to head north up the coast today but decided to just hang out here in Santa Rosa for one more day.
After a call to the office (I actually went 2 weeks without calling!!) while Judy made Linda's Chocolate Zucchini Cake – delicious and is south beach friendly) we decided we needed to get out for awhile. We stopped for a quick, healthy,(sort of )low-carb lunch at Fresh Express, then over to Borders to read magazines for awhile and drink coffee (a very cheap form of entertainment for us) and then back to our home, our home on wheels.
Tomorrow we head north. We head north reluctantly. Cold and rain are not what we seek, but 2 daughters, 1 son-in-law, and 2 grandkids are pulling us towards Portland.

Feb 7, 2007

Mustard, grapes and rain

Wednesday February 7th

We awoke to a rainy day in Santa Rosa. After breakfast we headed over the mountain to the Napa Valley. Napa Valley is a very special place. I love the Central Coast area, but Napa will always be number one. We came down into one of our favorite towns, St. Helena. If I ever go missing you might want to look for me there.

It's early spring so the vines are bare, but the wild mustard is growing up between the vines. Even in the rain it is a beautiful place. The contrast of the orderly rows of vines with the curves and shapes of the hills and mountains make this a photographers dream. Oh, and by the way, they just happen to make a little wine here. If you were to go to four tastings a day, which is a lot and I don't recommend it, it would take months to go to all the wineries just in Napa Valley. Then there is Sonoma, Alexander, Russian River ....... the list goes on and on.

One of the first wineries we visited here years ago was V. Satui. We enjoyed our visit this time even more. Good, mid priced wines, nice people, and stuff we can't get in Michigan. We also visited Merryvale in St. Helena, which is beautiful but too expensive for our taste.

We then headed down the valley to Yountville looking for a nice but inexpensive place for lunch, but struck out and ended up down in Napa. We found a little Italian restaurant but lunch was an overpriced bowl of soup, a plate of calamari and a waitress with a “who cares” attitude. One of our pet peeves is restaurants that are overpriced and pretend to be more than they really are.

After lunch, we drove back up the valley and visited the small but upscale Andretti winery. Yes, it is partly owned by the famous race car driver Mario Andretti. This winery has a decidedly Italian influence and would be considered a boutique or cult winery. Almost all of their production is sold either at the tasting room or through their wine club. We enjoyed our visit there and signed up for their wine club as well.

We moved on up the valley on the Silverado Trail. It is amazing how many new wineries have been built here since our last visit. A favorite place of ours to stop is the Mumm Winery. They are known for Champagne style wines. I should say though that we don't go there for their champagnes. What is special to us is their photography gallery. They have an extensive Ansel Adams collection as well as other contemporary landscape photographers.

We then continued up the Silverado Trail to the town of Calistoga. Unfortunately, we have yet to spend much time here and I really want to come here sometime and get a mud bath. Then it was back up over the mountain and back into Santa Rosa.

After supper and a little writing, it was time for bed.

Feb 5, 2007

2 Santa's and a bridge

Morro Bay to Santa Cruz to SantaRosa
February 5-6

Monday morning we pulled out of our campsite at Morro Bay and, needing to fill up with diesel fuel in Paso Robles, so we headed east on highway 46. What we didn't realize before we started was that highway 46 over to 101 is about 15 miles of switchbacks as it winds and twists it's way through the mountains.
While this type of road may be fun in the jeep, it's a little more unsettling in an rv! But John did a great job getting us safely to Paso Robles and on to Santa Cruz.

After an over night stay in Santa Cruz we made our way up to Santa Rosa where we planned to stay for 2-3 nights. But first we would have to endure a BRIDGE CROSSING and I have to confess, driving over long bridges in the rv isn't something I enjoy at all. And John's not that crazy about it either.

We decided to drive around on the Oakland side to avoid going through downtown SF and the golden gate bridge. However, that meant we would have to cross the San Francisco Bay on the San Rafael bridge, a double decker, and even longer bridge than the golden gate. We had the privilege of paying the state of California eight dollars and 40 cents for this dubious pleasure.
Once again John did a great job maneuvering us through traffic and getting us safely over and across the bay . (while I silently kept repeating to myself that we were almost across...almost across!! ) :)

We found a great campground in Santa Rosa behind the Sonoma County fairgrounds. We have full hookups and free wi-fi connection for just $10 a night with our Passport America membership. And one of the best things about this park is we practically have the place to ourselves. It's very quiet and there are only a handful of other rv'ers staying here.

We got here in time to fix lunch and squeeze in a trip to the Korbel winery in the near by Russian River valley and returned to the rv via the Nuclear free zone of Sebastopol. Yep this town really has declared itself to be such a zone. It was reassuring to know we were safe from Missiles and nuclear waste.

Supper, a little writing, and it was time for bed.

Judy n John

Elephant Seals, Scones, and Harmony

With the weather to be sunny and in the upper 60's we decided to drive the jeep up Highway 1 along the coast just to see what photo opportunities we might come upon. Highway 1 is a winding, twisting, beautiful stretch of highway that runs right along the coast from southern California all the way up to San Francisco.

Just after passing the little town of San Simeon we saw a turnout off to the side of the road that seemed to be attracting a lot of people. So we decided we would see what the attraction was for ourselves. We pulled in , parked the car and discovered an awesome sight. The beach area was literally covered with elephant seals basking in the sun. Apparently, the females come ashore around the first part of February and give birth on the beach. The pups were small so we figured they had only been born about a week before. The males(bulls) were there as well but stayed closer to the waters edge protecting their little harem of females and keeping other bulls from getting too close. We throughly enjoyed what we were seeing and could have watched and listened to their interaction for hours. But, we needed to move on.
North of San Simeon, Highway 1 is literally built into the side of the Santa Lucia mountain range. At times only a guardrail is separating the road from a drop of a few hundred feet into the ocean.
We love this highway and it's awesome views but it was now 12:30 , and we were getting hungry. We had decided earlier that we would skip lunch and have afternoon tea at the Tea Cozy in Cambria. So we decided that we should turn around and head back and about an hour later we arrived back in this cute coastal town about 20 miles north of Morro Bay.
The Tea Cozy ( http://www.teacozy.com/ ) is a small (very small...about 8 tables) english tea house and restaurant housed in an old house that was built in the 1890's. All the tables were full when we arrived We were told it would be about a 15-20 minute wait so we did some window shopping at some other shops down the street while we waited for a table to open up.
In the past, we have thoroughly enjoyed the British tradition of afternoon tea, both in London and at the Grand Floridian resort at Disney World so we get excited whenever we have a chance to have it.

John and I each ordered the Dutchess tea selection of a cheddar and chutney tea sandwich and a scone with clotted cream and jam to go along with our pot of tea. Now, this wasn't a lot of food and while we both would admit that most of the fun is in the experience, we were still hungry when we left the restaurant! We went back home and declared it to be peanut time! Oh and by the way Harmony really is a town, population 18. We've had a really good time in Morro Bay and Paso Robles area but it's time to move on.
Tomorrow it's on to Santa Cruz.