Wednesday, September 30, 2009


You are near sea level and close to the coast.On March 28, 1964, the northern California coastal town of Crescent City was devastated when a tsunami swept in from the Pacific Ocean.  The business district was leveled, and 11 people were killed.  Just a few years ago, on November 15, 2006, an 8.1 magnitude quake in Japan caused 3- to 5-foot surges that did significant damage to Crescent City’s harbor and marina.

You don’t forget this history when you visit Crescent City – placards marking the height of the flooding water have been placed in the downtown area, and signs around town describe the sight of the tsunami surge sweeping into the harbor and the resulting damage.

Aerial view of Salmon Harbor and Winchester Bay. With that in mind, the tsunami hazard signs posted along Hwy 101 in northern California, Oregon and Washington are thought provoking – especially when parked here at Salmon Harbor in Winchester Bay.  Several hundred RV’s, mostly large, are parked here whenever we visit, with only a narrow, 2-lane road (including a small bridge) leading OUT of the tsunami area. 

Last night, channel surfing through the multitude of local cable TV channels, my heart started pounding when I clicked over to the local weather channel, heard an ominous, beeping alert tone, and and saw a bright read “Tsunami Advisory” scroll across the bottom of the screen.  Tsunami?? Yikes, you can’t be serious!

Earlier in the day, the Samoas had been hit by tsunamis generated by a magnitude 8 undersea earthquake.  The advisory was for the Pacific coastline from San Diego to the Oregon/Washington border, and listed specific times that communities along the coast might experience tsunami surges from the same quake. I jumped up from the bed, tore out to the front room and switched Odel’s TV viewing from satellite TV to the local cable weather channel.  We read the advisory together, realized the time the surge was expected was NOW, and looked at each other with big, big eyes.

Tsunami Warning Siren Fortunately, the advisory included the web address of the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center.  We fired up the laptop and internet, and went straight to their website, where we spent 15 minutes educating ourselves about the meaning of an Advisory, and what was likely to happen here: nothing significant.  Whew!  We put our shoes and socks near the door, decided what we would do if the tsunami warning siren sounded, and stayed awake until the alert expired (11 pm).  It was a new experience for us.  :)

Detail oriented readers might be wondering how we happened to have cable TV, since we were dry camping with no hookups at all last time I wrote…

After three days of using our batteries and generator for electric power, we began experiencing problems with our 12v. power system.  Big bummer!  We had lots of help from our friends trying to diagnose the problem and have eliminated a lot of possibilities, but our next step in diagnosis and repair needs to take place at a repair facility in Eugene.  Fortunately for us, our “normal” electrical system, 110v., is working fine.  The solution: move to a site with hookups.   Oh, boo-hoo.  :)

Windy Cove B, site 29, Winchester Bay On Monday, we snagged a big, roomy site in Windy Cove Campground (click here to read our review), the nearby county campground (the equivalent of a two block walk from our old site) with wonderful views over to the marina and our group of camping friends.  Full hookups: unlimited water (and the ability to make it hot); sewer; electricity day and night; and cable TV – all of these things gratefully appreciated when the rain moved in Monday night and the temperature plummeted.  We’ll be leaving tomorrow morning to be in Eugene in time for our repair appointment. Good-bye, Oregon coast!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Crabbing in Winchester Bay, Oregon

Morning mist burns off (the view from our window). Each September, if we are anywhere near the Oregon coast, we trek on over to Winchester Bay to join the Roving Rods (many of whom are Boomers, too), a club of RV’ing fisherfolk, for their annual Crab Fest.  Our first visit was in 2003 – our first year on the road.  On our second visit, we joined the Roving Rods – even though we don’t fish or crab – so we could visit during the Crab Fest without feeling like parasites.

This is our 4th Crab Fest.  We arrived on Thursday, in brilliant sunshine and high winds, and that weather pattern has persisted.  We awake to still, silent fog.  The sun rises and burns away the fog by 9 am, and we hurry out to get our walk in before the wind kicks up by noon.  As I write this at 1:30, our slide topper awnings are flapping and squealing, and the pennants and flags I can see out the windows are snapping.

Pulling up a crab ring. Winchester Bay is a great destination for RV’ers, whether you are interested in fishing and crabbing or not.  Four levels of RV accommodations meet the needs of all levels of the RV lifestyle (though prices have gone up this year).

On the “thrifty” end (where the Roving Rods meet), you find side-by-side parking slots on asphalt with no hookups.  Clean showers and restrooms, a pay phone, a newspaper stand, a dump station and a crabbing dock are included in the rate of $11 per night.

This year, we took the next step in upward mobility, snagging a huge space on the end of a row on Pier C (click here to read our campground review and see more photos).  Three piers stick out into the bay, with RV parking facing the water.  For an extra $3/night, you get a slightly larger space, a picnic table, a grill, and a bit of grass.  Because of the way the spaces are angled, you also have a better view – and the views here are fabulous! 

One of the crab docks at Winchester Bay. The next step up is an area of county park-like RV sites with full hookups, with rates around $20/night.  Nothin’ special about ‘em, but you do have a bit more space and hookups.

Feel like the high life?  Move on up to a site at the Winchester Bay RV Resort, one of the most beautiful RV parks we’ve seen, on a little peninsula sticking out into the bay.  Lots of manicured grass, extra large sites situated to take advantage of the views, full hookups, patios… the royal treatment, for $36/night. 

Maybe we’ll do that one day, but for now, we incorporate it into our daily walk – yes, that’s right, even those of us cheapskates from the “wrong side of the bay” can walk the sidewalk that runs along the edge of resort’s peninsula, steps from the rigs arrayed to take in the views.   Sweet.  :)

This one is a keeper.After we snoop our way along the resort walkway, we head out to the long crabbing pier to check out the action (alas, not much this year).  This is what it is all about for the Roving Rods.  They come equipped with crab pots, traps and rings; with freezers stuffed full of chicken necks, backs and wings (for bait); and with all the necessities for measuring, handling, and securing the crabs – plus a $17 license.

You can handle the traps in two ways: toss them in from a crabbing dock (easy, but limiting), or take them out in a boat to your own special, super-secret crab hole.  Usually, dropping your traps from a boat – with more choice of placement – yields superior results, but beware: a crabber went out of the bay into the ocean a few days ago and set his traps.  Since then, a small-craft advisory and the conditions beyond the mouth of the bay have kept him from getting back out to his traps – no doubt crowded with crabs!  :)

Dan gets ready to catch more keepers!So far this year, the Roving Rods aren’t having much luck; plenty of crabs are trapped, but most are too small to keep.  Dan had a keeper yesterday, and we saw him pull in another one this morning (photo above).  Looks like Dan and Jenny are among the few dining on crab this year.

One last story from Winchester Bay: in 2003, when we began full timing, we met a couple at the SKP park in Pecos, Texas, who were full timing in a small Casita trailer. WOW!  They planned to sell the Casita in a few months and head to New Zealand for extended travel, then return to the US and purchase a different (larger) rig.  We’ve thought about them several times a year, usually whenever we see a Casita, and wondered if they were still full time RV’ers, and in what rig. 

The line up on the C pier, with Scoopy on the far left.Sitting around at happy hour yesterday, the woman next to Odel began asking him questions, finally his name.  When he said “Odel”, she said “I owe you a quarter!”.  It was Linda, with her husband Mike, the full timers from the Pecos park.  Odel had loaned them a quarter at the ice cream social to buy ice cream – and they paid it back with 6 cents interest.  Ha, ha!  They now have a Lazy Daze, and split their time between the US and New Zealand – as Mike said, “We’ve had 11 summers in the last five and a half years.”  It was great to see them again, and so totally unexpected.  Mike and Linda, we wish you the best!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Exploring the Area Around Florence, OR

Florence is an excellent base for sightseeing, located at the mouth of the Suislaw River along a dazzling stretch of Highway 101, with forests, bluffs, headlands and sweeping vistas in both directions.  Though there may be sand dunes elsewhere along the Oregon coast, those in the vicinity of Florence (stretching from Florence south to Winchester Bay) must be the most well-known, most visited, and most impressive. 

Sutton Creek Dunes near Florence Sutton Creek runs through the dunes

This year, we explored the dunes on foot, at Sutton Creek Recreation Area, just across Hwy 101 from our RV park.  A campground, a day use area, a large lake, and several looping trails through heavy forest and open dunes comprise the area, a quiet (in mid-September, anyway) place to explore and relax.

Odel in the front seat of the sand rail!

Two years ago, we explored the dunes south of Florence in a totally different way, speeding over and around them in an eight person “sand rail”.  It was an unforgettable ride, and one I thoroughly enjoyed – though I’m pretty certain not all riders felt that way!  Click here to read all about it if you are interested – the blog post has some fun pictures.  :)

Another day, we took a trip north on Highway 101 to explore the small coastal town of Yachats.  No, not Ya-chats… YAW-hots, emphasis on YAW.  Jeez, these Oregon names are difficult!

Yachats scenes: classic coastal cottages, the bay, and GOATS in the back of a pickup truck! I think it was my friend Becky who first mentioned Yachats to me… and it seemed to come up often when folks mentioned lovely and interesting Oregon coastal towns.  Since it is only 25 miles north of Florence, we wandered on up there one day.

Lovely indeed.  Even better, we arrived on market day, with a small, but bustling, farmer’s market arranged along the highway in front of City Hall.  Fresh produce and baked goods, a potter, a jeweler, tie-dyed clothing, cheese… and an eye-popping selection of locally harvested mushrooms!  I usually find it very difficult to leave a farmer’s market without both hands full, but I limited myself to a couple jars of hot pepper jam and one new soup bowl – maybe because I still have fresh produce left over from our haul in Coos Bay!

Check out this giant mushroom! Cartons of Colorful Chantrelles

Yachats is small enough that strolling through town takes only a short while.  We took in the sights (including the goats in the back of the pick-up truck), then visited a couple shops for picnic provisions.  Laden with smoked salmon, a sourdough baguette, grapes, rosemary flavored cheese and red wine, we traveled a couple miles down the road to a sunny picnic table overlooking the surf… what more can I tell ya’? 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Heceta Head Lighthouse – and the Heceta Head hike

Heceta Head Lighthouse on the point; the Keepers house on the right. I’m not certain if what I see out my window as I write this is fog or low clouds, but it is mighty gloomy – which makes me appreciate even more the fabulous weather we had yesterday for our hike along the coast.

About 5 miles north of the Florence Elks RV Park, just past the Sea Lion Caves, is a beautiful view of what I imagine is one of Oregon’s most photographed lighthouses, Heceta Head Lighthouse.  We’ve admired it every time we drive Highway 101 heading north, so decided to visit it yesterday, then take the Heceta (pronounced Ha–SEE–Ta) Head trail over the headland to the beach on the other side.

Lightkeepers house, now a bed and breakfast

As you can see from the photos, we had a beautiful day for sightseeing – nothing but blue sky and temperatures in the 70’s.  We got a reasonably early start, hoping we’d be able to find space in the usually jam-packed pullout that affords the best view of the lighthouse.  We snapped our photos, looked at (and listened to) the sea lions lounging on the rocks far below, then continued north to the lighthouse.

From the parking lot (Oregon State Parks, with a $3 day use fee) at sea level, a broad gravel trail leads 1/2 mile uphill to the lighthouse, past the Keeper’s House, which is now a bed and breakfast.  After taking endless photos of the lovely “cottage” with it’s million dollar views, we continued the short distance up to the lighthouse – and took more, and more, and more photos.  Thanks goodness for digital cameras!

Mushrooms along the Heceta Head trail.We finally turned our attention away from the views and the mesmerizing waves to search out the trailhead.  From the lighthouse, the Heceta Head trail switchbacks up the headlands through deep, mossy forest.  Decaying evergreen needles and rhododendron leaves cover a springy path; dense undergrowth provides cover for small snakes, frogs, and birds, and a humid habitat for an amazing variety of mushrooms!

After a mile and a half – first WAY up, then WAY down - we arrived at a junction with the Hobbit Trail, which continues half a mile downhill to the long, nearly deserted beach on the north side of the headland.  “Nearly deserted” describes the entire hike – in the five or so miles we traveled on foot, we saw ten other people (and two happy, happy dogs). 

Here are a few more photos from the day – I had a very hard time narrowing it to so few!

Devil's Elbow, near the Keeper's House Devil’s Elbow, below the Lighthouse. View from Lighthouse trail to the beach

This is the view from the trail over the top of the Headlands down to the beach on the north side.
Odel on the BeachOdel walking on the beach north of Heceta Head.  The lighthouse is on the other side of the headland in the distance. Odel on the Hobbit Trail

Odel in the tunnel of trees on the Hobbit Trail.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Petite Brownie Bites, those fabulous brownies.

Sugar Bowl Petite Brownie Bites: YUM!  They are my downfall, so chocolate-y, so tender (yet chewy), a delicious two bite dessert – but for me, usually a 6 x 2 bite dessert, or maybe even an 8 x 2 bite dessert.  The point is, I have a difficult time resisting them, especially when a glass of wine with dinner has muscled my willpower aside.  And guess what?  They are not good for you!

So, I DON’T BUY THEM.  I can resist them at the store, so I just don’t bring them home.  BUT!  Odel does.  Odel loves them – LOVES ‘em! - and I agree that just because they pop the button on my jeans doesn’t mean that HE should be denied easy access to a brownie or two or twelve for dessert.

So, 48 brownies (yes, that’s right – they come 4 DOZEN to a box, one giant bin of brownies) found their way into our cart, into our (reusable) grocery bag and into the rig last week.  Per our agreement, Odel hid them from me – yes, that actually works for me.  But then the trouble started.

Damp towels, about to cause an "incident"Odel found the PERFECT hiding place and he was bursting to tell me about it. 

Day One, morning, Odel: “So, did you find the brownies?  You’ll never be able to find the brownies!  I found the PERFECT hiding place”  Me: “No, I didn’t look.  I’m not going to look.”

Day One, afternoon, Odel: “Did you find ‘em?”  Me: “What?”  Odel: “The brownies!”  Me: “No, I didn’t look and I’m not going to look.”  Odel: Crestfallen silence.

Day Two, afternoon, Odel:  “You’ll never find them.  I hid them in the perfect place.  You’ll never find ‘em!”  Me:  “Thanks for reminding me! (frown) And, please stop it!  I’m not looking!”  Odel: (Sad, sad face) “Okay.  Sorry.”

Now, let’s backtrack a few days, say “Brownie Day minus 2”.  Me: “Since it’s kind’a humid here and our towels don’t dry very well, I’m going to start tossing them in the dryer (yes, we do have a clothes dryer) after we shower, to dry them out.”   Odel: “Great idea.” 

Our dryer, the perfect hiding place!Oopsie.  Do you see where this is going? 

We have a stacking washer and dryer, with the dryer on top.  Now, when 6 foot tall Odel – who handles the laundry in our household - opens the door, he sees right into the dryer, including the bottom of the tumbler.  When 5' 5” Laurie – who does a rare load of laundry - opens the door, she sees most of the dryer, but has to stand on tippy toes to check for a lone sock (or anything else, like BROWNIES!) hiding on the bottom of the tumbler. 

Day Three, morning: After my shower, I grab the wet towels, toss ‘em in the dryer, and turn it on.  Swish, swish, boom.  Swish, swish, boom, boom.  Boom, boom, BOOM!  What the heck is that noise?  Oh NO, is our dryer dying??

As I reached for the dryer door to find out what was making that horrible racket (had I accidently scooped up a shoe with the towels somehow??), Odel jumped up and yelled: “What are you doing? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”   Me: “Huh?”

Tumbled Bites, still edibleWell, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen him move quite that fast.  I opened the door to damp white towels covered with tiny chocolate brownie crumbs, while Odel stood in the hallway with his mouth hanging open in disbelief, distress emanating from every pore.  I laughed so hard I almost wet my panties, but controlled myself as best I could when I saw how distraught he was.  Yes, I FOUND THE DAMN HIDING PLACE! 

I still laugh out loud when I think about it and, finally this afternoon, Odel was able to look upon the “perfect hiding place” and smile. 

Just another day of RV’ing adventure  :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Site 10 Florence Elks RV Park

Before I forget: yes, my back is fine and yes, Odel’s earache is gone.  We don’t know if the garlic cured the earache, but after three days and four cloves of garlic, Odel was healed.  He really enjoyed wearing a clove of garlic and a Band-Aid!

Yesterday we moved a whopping 61 miles up the coast to Florence, Oregon.  We had a reservation at an Elks RV Park owned by the Florence Elks Lodge (click here to read our review and see other photos), highly recommended by other traveling Elks.  WOW! 

This is one of the prettiest places we have stayed along the coast, with spacious sites and beautiful landscaping – just the right combination of trees and open space.  It didn’t take us much time at all to extend our reservation for another four days, until we head back south a whopping 31 miles to our next stop in Winchester Bay.

Crashing waves near Sunset Bay Our last couple of days at Oceanside RV Park in Charleston, Oregon, were gorgeous - it takes mighty self-control not to subject you to the multitudes of photos I took as we walked the beach and hiked the bluffs: lighthouse shots, harbor seals, twenty different angles of wave action, endless interesting rock formations.  This photo is typical of the sights along the bluff top hike at Sunset Bay State Park, one of the reasons we return to the tiny town of Charleston whenever we travel the Oregon coast.

Our weather has been mostly good – two or three days of brilliant sunshine followed by a day of rain, very mild.  After yesterday’s excellent traveling weather, today is the rain day.  Odel has the TV on, alternating between golf and college football.  I baked some scones for breakfast and settled down to attend to the computer – emails, finances, and computer cleanup/maintenance, my most dreaded (and frequently postponed) chore.   I need these wet days now and then to catch up.

Everyone liked the dahlia photo so much - so here is one more.  At the urging of several friends, I took a step forward in online technology recently: I joined Facebook.  I’ve strongly resisted the idea, feeling it would lead to even MORE time in front of the computer – and who wants that?  But with the days becoming shorter quickly now, I was ready for something new to learn.

Though I’m still often confused and sometimes wonder what the heck I just “shared” – or who I shared it with -  it seems to be a quick and fun way for full-time RV’ers to keep track of our far flung friends.  It might actually turn out to be a time saver (novel concept when applied to computing!), eliminating lots of more time-consuming email traffic.   So far… I like it.  If you use Facebook and would like to contact me, I’ve added a Facebook “badge” to the left column of the blog (way, way down, past the topic labels).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Dahlias!  Glorious dahlias!  They thrive in western Oregon, and late summer is their season.  We saw them at their peak today at Shore Acres State Park, one of Oregon’s interesting and beautiful day use areas.  Even Odel was captivated!Dahlias blooming at Shore Acres State Park

By the time we arrived at Shore Acres, our day was half over and we were almost jaded by the gorgeous sites we had seen.  We got a late start, driving south from Oceanside RV Park (click here to see our review and see photos) to Seven Devils State Recreation Site, a remote (and therefore free) day use park with access to miles of clean, level, fine-grained beach.  We walked and walked and walked some more, seduced by the waves and the weather.  Back at the parking lot, we picked out a picnic table and enjoyed our peanut butter and jelly watching the waves, the birds, and a handful of people and their dogs enjoying the day.

Driftwood on the beach at Seven Devils Our picnic site at Seven Devils State Recreation Area

Alto trailer, a pop-up teardrop manufactured in Canada

Besides the dahlias, we saw another noteworthy sight at Shore Acres – this unique pop-up teardrop trailer.  It is called an Alto, and is a new design manufactured in Canada by a company that makes Class B campers, Safari Condos.

In this picture, the top is extended, exposing the arched, tinted windows on the sides and a good sized window on the flat back of the trailer.  For travel, the top of the trailer retracts (electronically) down into the body, so the trailer is much more aerodynamic.

We liked it so well that we looked up information on the web when were got home; it has an interior very similar to a Class B (van) camper, but a little more roomy – including a cute kitchen, a toilet and a makeshift shower.  Here is a link to their PDF brochure describing the materials, the floor plan, and the optional accessories.  Not for full timing, but what a great way to vacation!

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Pretty drive up 101 through the redwoods.Yesterday we moved from Eureka, California to Brookings, Oregon, a short and scenic drive up the Pacific coast.  And I made a big boo-boo.

We have a few loose items around the motorhome that ride on the bed as we travel.  During our departure preparations, I retract the back slide, then move these loose things from the front of the motorhome to the bed in the back, and retract the front slide.

As I moved a small – but heavy – box to the bed, I leaned over the bed too far, reached across the laptop computer, and turned a bit sideways to set the box down.  Yikes!  A jolt of pure pain hit my back - I groaned, and dropped the box.  Ow, ow, ow!  (Those weren’t my exact words.)

In Site 7 at Brookings ElksI hobbled through the rest of the departure preparations, rubbing my back and hip and wondering how I’d feel by afternoon.  The answer?  Old!  Old, stiff, and painful.

We settled into a spacious site in at the Brookings Elks lodge (read our review and see photos here), but walking around was out of the question for me and I had to confess my disability to Odel.  I did nothing the rest of the day other than rub my back with an ointment for aching muscles, take ibuprofen, drink plenty of red wine, and lounge around looking pathetic, asking Odel to hand me this and that.  (He was very understanding.)

Today I felt MUCH better when I awoke – the do-nothing-but-drink-and-drugs treatment really worked.  :)  But Odel had his own health challenge – an annoying, on-again, off-again earache.  Since our day was getting off to a slow start, he sat down at the computer and googled for treatments.  Garlic, or garlic and olive oil, caught his eye.

Trying out the garlic cure for an earache.We are lucky to have on hand the mother of all Garlic, grown by our friend Marlene Dopp in her organic garden and passed along to us this summer.  This stuff could repel any vampire within half a mile.  The heads are gigantic and the cloves downright juicy!  If any garlic would cure an earache, this would.

So far, he has tried two treatments: the standard “half-clove of raw garlic in the ear” and the more exotic garlic-infused olive oil eardrops (we didn’t have a dropper, so just rubbed the oil in with a Q-tip).  It wasn’t an immediate cure; we’ll have to see if things have improved by tomorrow.  It entertained us for most of the morning, though!

Once my back limbered up and Odel removed the garlic from his ear, it was noon.  The fog had cleared to reveal overcast skies, but we had time for a walk at the harbor, a hike at nearby Harris Beach State Park, and a stop at Fred Meyer for dinner ingredients before rain set in.  Now we are cozy at home, sports on TV for my lightly garlic-scented husband, a light rain falling outside, a rotisserie chicken on the counter (to be accompanied by a quinoa/dried cranberry salad and waffle-cut fries for dinner), plenty of wine on hand. 

Brookings beach hike on an overcast day. And now, a quick RAVE: way back in January, when we decided to have the outside of Scoopy restriped, cleaned and polished, we also decided to spring for an electric awning.  It was a difficult decision, a BIG expense that we weren’t sure would pay off. 

Well, 9 months later, I am SO convinced that it was worth the money and effort to switch.  We use the new awning a hundred times – no, 1000 times – more frequently than we ever used the manual awning, all because I can put it out and bring it in by myself.  When it looked like rain today, I deployed the awning and moved Luna’s crate under it to keep the crate dry.  A moment ago, the “rain drain” feature kicked in, lowering the back end of the awning about 6 inches to drain the water that would otherwise pool on top of the awning. It is SO COOL!  So, if you have been considering such a change – go for it!

Friday, September 11, 2009


Remember that old Chuck Berry song?  No Particular Place to Go? 

Eureka Marina as the fog clears. Ridin' along in my automobile
My baby beside me at the wheel
I stole a kiss at the turn of a mile
My curiosity runnin' wild.

Cruisin' and playin' the radio
With no particular place to go.

I love that feeling… “no particular place to go” (well, the “curiosity runnin’ wild” part, too).  That is our current “plan”… go when we want to go, stay as long (or short) as we want to stay, let the weather or events or whim set our course.  It is quite a change from the summer vacation agenda, when the surge of vacationing families dictates planning and reservations.  As vacations wind down post-Labor Day, only the most popular campgrounds require weekend reservations and weekdays are wide open just about everywhere.  So relaxing!

Agate beach looked cold in 2006; sparkled with sunshine today.For our hike today, we DID have a particular place to go: Patrick’s Point State Park, 25 miles north of Eureka, the hike to be followed by lunch at Seascape Restaurant in Trinidad.  With memories of a lovely, sunny day in Trinidad in July of 2006 dancing in our heads, off we went.

Highway 101 followed the ”fog line” today – fog to the west, sunshine to the east, with foggy fingers wafting back and forth overhead.  When we arrived at Patrick’s Point, the fog backed out to sea ever so slightly, so we hiked in cool sunshine with spectacular ocean views – a contrast to the same hike in July of 2006!  We even managed to work up a sweat… and an appetite.

We hopped into the car and headed south to Trinidad, following friends’ recommendations to visit Seascape Restaurant at the Trinidad pier.  Here, it was the opposite story. 

Trinidad in sunshine in 2006; in heavy fog today.When we visited Trinidad three years ago, it sparkled in the sunshine.  Boats bobbed in the harbor and brilliant flowers glowed.  It made an everlasting impression.

Today the town and harbor were completely shrouded in mist, dampened, subdued.  I’m glad we had seen the view in sunshine (and have lots of photos!), but fog has it’s own special ambience – especially since one week ago we couldn’t stop grumbling about the HEAT we were experiencing in Napa!

The Seascape is a funky little diner/cafe at the end of the road at the Trinidad pier.  Two or three overworked waitresses served lunch cheerfully, and the food was good – though I ordered the wrong thing, a grilled cream cheese and smoked salmon (local salmon) sandwich that was way, way too rich for me (until I scraped out half of the cream cheese filling).  Overly salty clam chowder, excellent cole slaw, good fries, and Odel enjoyed his open-faced sole sandwich.  We sat near a window, with views of the action on the pier, the seabirds soaring, and a little harbor seal bobbing and diving.  We left feeling contented, and cruised on home.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Our drive on Tuesday from Napa to Eureka on Hwy 101 seemed very long – it’s around 250 miles, which IS a long day for US!  All but the last 60 miles is quite far from the coast, reflected in the temperatures, well above 90 degrees until the last hour of our drive.

Navigating through the Redwoods Watch those trunks!

Highway 101 is a major north/south route through California – but it doesn’t always look like it.  Traveling through the redwoods south of Eureka looks way more like some little county road but, no, we’re on it, 18-wheelers are on it, lumber trucks are on it… and of course none of us are traveling quickly enough for the sedans, SUV’s and pickup trucks that are on it. 

Eureka Elks RV parking viewed from the hilltop parking lot. We arrived at the Eureka Elks Lodge (read our review and see photos here) at 4 pm, when there were 4 (out of about 22) sites still available.  As we unhooked Jules in the parking lot, a pickup truck pulling a 5th wheel roared past us, and snagged themselves a spot.  We got the next one, and the last two were filled by 4:30.

The big scandal at the Elks: the owners of one of the trailers park their big pickup truck in an empty space next to them, and don’t move it until it is the only vacant space left AND an RV has arrived to fill it.  This is a no-no.

Each time an RV arrives, several of the folks in already parked RV’s come outside to see whether the space hogs intend to move their truck – and they never do.  Folks stand in little clusters glancing towards the offending pickup truck and consulting one another… it’s quite entertaining (to me).  As you can see, the parking here is very tight, so everyone keeps an eye and ear on everyone else’s business (actually, you can’t help it if your windows are open!).

Arcata MarshThe Elks Lodge is right next door to a pretty little golf course, and Odel headed over there first thing this morning to play a round.  I had my own agenda, beginning with a trip to Redwood Acres, the fairgrounds here in Eureka. 

Fairgrounds in California almost always have RV hookups, and we usually enjoy management’s laid-back attitude, the reasonable prices, and the spacious grounds we find there.  We had visited Redwood Acres a couple of years ago but, since our likes and dislikes in RV parking seem to change as we travel (and age?), I thought I’d take another look. 

Redwood Acres costs $5/night more than the Elks ($20 for the Elks, $25 for Redwood Acres) for 50 amp FHU.  The Elks Lodge provides cable TV (not so the fairgrounds), and is in a more convenient location not far off Hwy 101 – but there were very few rigs at the fairgrounds, making it look much more appealing than the Elks parking today.   If the Elks RV parking is this crowded next time we visit, we might just move along to Redwood Acres.

Examples of Eureka's interesting architectureAfter my scouting mission, I drove 10 miles north to Arcata, for a walk around the Arcata Wetlands (photo above).  This wetlands is part of Arcata’s water treatment program, and 5 miles of trails wind around and through the area.  Too bad for me: about 4 miles of the trails are currently closed during the week for levee repairs.  I had a pleasant, but quite short, walk. 

Odel hadn’t called for a ride yet, so I headed to “Old Town” Eureka to view some of the amazing buildings there.  The grandly ornate wooden structures reflect Eureka’s past as a prominent lumbering and milling town, and it is great to walk the streets of old Eureka on a cool, sunny day admiring the restoration work that has been done. 

In this collage, the Carson House (upper left) – since 1949, the private “Ingomar Club” - is likely the most photographed building in Eureka.  Seems like it would make a great setting for some dark, gothic tale, though you would need a much gloomier day than today!

Monday, September 7, 2009


Scenes from a sunny day in San Francisco. Oh, we had fun this Labor Day, our last day here in the Bay area.  On the advice of a couple we met here at the Napa Elks on the first day of our stay, we drove 20 miles to the Vallejo ferry terminal and hopped on a high-speed ferry to San Francisco.

An hour later, we got off at the Ferry Terminal in San Francisco, on the Embarcadero.  When I lived in San Francisco in 1980, a freeway ran above the Embarcadero, a real blight on the neighborhood.  After the Loma Prieta earthquake twenty years ago (!), the freeway was no longer safe – and ultimately was torn down.  The area was transformed.  The ferry building was renovated into an urban marketplace in 2003, and it is a great place to disembark and begin a San Francisco adventure.

Go Car GPS guided touring vehicle, photo from their website.Before we set off walking, we dropped into Mijita Cocina Mexicana for a taco apiece to sustain us (carnitas for Odel, pollo for me), then we were off.   So much to see: people, birds, flowers and parks, palm trees, Coit Tower, and every imaginable type of transporation – cable cars, double-decker tour busses, bicycles, roller blades, Segways, a hummer limo, even a “Computer Guided Talking Car” (GPS navigation, big enough for 2 people)!

We walked, and walked, and walked – past Pier 39, through Fisherman’s Wharf, to Aquatic Park and Ghirardelli Square.  The day couldn’t have been prettier, blue sky with a hint of a breeze, shirtsleeve temperatures.

Watching the building of a Fishwich at Salty's Famous Fishwich diner.

On our walk outbound, we eyeballed every restaurant we passed, discussing the most appetizing offerings for a later lunch.  On the edge of the mind-bogglingly touristy Pier 39, we passed Salty’s Famous Fishwich stand.  We stood at the window and watched the cook assemble a Fishwich: a soft bread roll sliced in half, mounded with cole slaw dressed in olive oil, topped with a huge piece of deep-fried haddock and more slaw.  We were sold, and made our way back for lunch, eaten at a picnic table overlooking boats on the water.  The Fishwich was every bit as good as it looked, and large enough for two.  Perfect!

We wandered back to the Ferry Building, bought a newspaper for the ride home, and boarded the ferry.  An excellent Labor Day adventure.