Our Travel Blog

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Driving Miss Donna - what does this mean? Whenever I want to go somewhere, if Don is home he will usually drive. He always says he is driving miss Donna! This blog is for our travels, usually with our truck and fifth wheel trailer, but sometimes in our Journey. Don retired October 2011 so hopefully the travelling part will increase! When we are not vacationing check in for updates about our life at home and our wonderful family:)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Random Thoughts

Sometimes writing this blog is hard – there isn’t a single thing I want to say, but rather a hundred thoughts and memories struggling to get out.  What ends up happening is I forget some of them.

Mostly it comes down to sorting through photos and laughing about when they were taken, or where we were.  For example this is Don’s photographic prime example of inflation:

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Here is one of the best photos I have seen of Cape Foulweather…

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Another odd fact you may not know – although I hear our kids groaning now – is that we play Yahtzee – a LOT.  Almost every evening a round of 6 – which is a game card.  And I keep the scores for a season to tally up the “best” player.  Usually Don wins but only marginally (as is proven in our “records”)

So back to the last days of our trip.  We settled in Farragut State Park and enjoyed the sites, but did not enjoy having to put heavy coats on just to go walking!  But such is our plight…

Itching to be home and get into a routine of not having a routine, so talk to you from Canada next!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Putting Some “Definition” to the Days

I often ask Don "Are we on a holiday or vacation – and what is the difference if any?"  Being what I guess we need to call semi-retired, if you haven’t taken time off work to go somewhere…  See what I mean.  On the other hand we both made it clear to people we work for that we would not be available, so maybe we are on a holiday.

va·ca·tion noun, often attributive \vā-ˈkā-shən, və-\
Definition of VACATION 1 : a respite or a time of respite from something

hol·i·day noun \ˈhä-lə-ˌdā, British usually ˈhä-lə-dē\

Definition of HOLIDAY 2: a day on which one is exempt from work; specifically: a day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event

Based on Webster – we are on a vacation, not a holiday!  Thanks Don for those definitions.
Anyway where have we been since my last post?  Well our stay in Brookings didn’t last longer than planned, three days, but it was different than planned.  The trailer jack repair was a three day episode, and so we walked – a lot!  Not sure if I mentioned my determination to walk 10,000 steps a day.  That started in August 2012, and has been amazing.  The average person, working or stay at home, walks 3200 steps a day.  So making it to 10,000 every day is not always easy.  I have missed 4 days since August, where I have achieved only 5,000 – 7,000 approximately.  A few of those days have been travel days with the fifth.  I know the exact amount because I wear a pedometer from the minute I wake until bed.  It is hooked to the computer,so I can get all sorts of stats.  I actually just reached my 10,000 mile award.  MILES – not km!  Anyhow, Don is usually along for the walk when he is home, and especially this vacation.  The days in Brookings we logged about 25,000 steps a day.  We walked to MacDonalds to play on the internet, we walked the beach, we walked the campgrounds, we walked and walked.  We would normally be sightseeing, and I think you could say we are restless folk…
So the repair was final and complete on Wednesday morning (thanks to Pirate Energy in Brookings for trying hard, and coming in UNDER thir quote) and we headed to South Beach State Park.  This would be our last stop on the coast and it was a great campground.  With easy access to the beach, and lots of areas to explore the days passed quickly. 
I have promised not to fill the blog with pictures and comments about food but sometimes rules have to be broken.  Our favourite restaurant in Oregon is Mo’s.  There are 5 locations along the coast and the food is fabulous.  The first one opened in 1946 in Newport, which is where we were.  We visited them twice this stop which is a bit extreme for us in eating out, but this adventure is nearing an end.
While exploring the maps of the area, I remembered a trip a few years ago where we decided to see covered bridges.  It turned out we could see a few in an afternoon so we packed a lunch and set off.
The order we stopped in is Chitwood, Harris, Ritner Creek and Drift Creek.  I also threw in one photo of the inside construction, for those interested in more than the “pretty”.
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Covered bridges are a very cool structure, and it is always neat to see the ones that are still being used like Chitwood, or the ones that folks were passionate enough about to save and move. like Ritner Creek. According to good old Google, Oregon has 50!  That number is likely to be inaccurate as the Drift Creek wasn’t listed.
I think I see another trip coming up just discovering bridges – maybe in an eastern state??  I will have to talk to my driver.
Anyhow – Saturday we said goodbye to the ocean water for this trip, and headed east.  Driving along the Columbia River on the Washington or Oregon side is a scenic and peaceful trip.  If you recall in September after leaving Portland we choose the Washington side, so this time we stuck to Oregon. 
This picture does not so it justice, but as we drove along I noticed Mount Hood.  Although we did get closer, the fog set in, and I like this photo as you can see the snowy majestic peak.
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A sight not common to us when travelling in the fall, but apparently common in the spring, are barges travelling.  At the beginning of the day I was quickly struggling to get photos as we drove, but while sitting and relaxing, look what was out the window:
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So today is Sunday – another lazy morning and a few hours of travel.  Destination?  Farragut State Park north of Coeur d'alene, Idaho, which most of you know is a favourite going home stop, spring or fall.
I will try to write one more time – take care!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Taking It Slow...

Well after sharing road and travel adventures for the past 6 weeks, this week has been all about FINALLY relaxing, and learning to stay put a bit more and just enjoy. 
When we left Pismo Beach we had reservations at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.  Although it didn’t have beach access it was a great spot to access some other tours from.  You have to spend some time one day in your lives visiting Carmel by the Sea.  This little town is seriously one of the most beautiful Pacific Coast towns we have visited!  There are 2 notable main streets that wander along the ocean front;  the houses have so much character, most of the properties have date plaques noting build years such as 1883, etc.  In the same area is the Monterey Peninsula, another jewel to visit.  We always know when we are getting ready (mentally) to head home as we get a bit restless. We had planned to stay 3 nights, but headed out after a 2 night stay.
Next stop was Bodega Bay. When we were looking for a park close to San Francisco, we tried not to go to Bodega Bay, thinking we should try something new.  But Bodega Bay is a favourite and so we steered that way again. It was a great choice, and allowed a fairly short access for our day trip to San Francisco.  San Francisco was a great walk as always, with some cruising of Fisherman’s Wharf, a visit to a downtown mall, and home for the evening.  The rest of the time was spent chillin’ around the camper.
Now we are in Brookings, Oregon, and definitely making our way home.  We have a broken landing gear on the fifth, and the part will be in tomorrow.  But this is a warm, peaceful park so we will stay another night, and continue to slow down and enjoy the trip home.  Today was a fabulous day, the truck had to stay attached to the fifth, so we walked miles to town, the beach and the park. 
We often stop at favourite spots on the way home, so the trip becomes more than a mad rush to get there.  That means going to Farragut State Park for sure.
Don is starting to get work confirmations for our return, and life will escalate just as it does.  But that is okay – that allows us to continue this wonderful part time life on the road!  We have tons of camping trips planned this summer, and we know it will pass in a blur as always.
We miss our kids, big and little, our friends, and oddly enough even work a bit.  Until next week take care, I may post photos when I get enough initiative.  LOL
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Monday, April 15, 2013

Ventura Highway

…in the sunshine, where the days are longer
You get the drift – it’s kind of nice here, and if you follow us on Facebook you already know this part of the trip is sponsored by America’s song – Ventura Highway. If it isn’t too obvious already Ventura Highway is a portion of Highway 101 that travels alongside Ventura, CA. Sometimes songs lead us where we go, and other times they just seem to fit.
Driving in 12 lanes of highway - and that is not both ways…  If Don has had his share of things while we are on this trip, it has to be driving across more pavement and concrete than ever before, such as Salt Lake City or San Francisco.  Add my directions and we have ended up in a senior’s gated housing development (Seattle) and a mall parking lot with no way out except to back out around a Round a Bout (Portland)!.  I have improved a lot since those first days of RV’ing.   We have driven through enough big cities with and without the trailer to not be newbies anymore, but in the San Diego and Los Angeles area it has been extreme.
But he is nothing but adventurous, so when we were thinking of what we really wanted to see while staying in Pismo Beach, my answer was the Hollywood sign.  Now most folk would not even consider our stay in Pismo Beach to be close to those attractions, but if it is within 4 hours of driving Don is game to go.  Yes we know LA has many things to see and visit, as does San Diego, but those are not our kind of “things”.  Between being somewhat “cheap” when it comes to admission, to not really caring, the basic tourist areas don’t amuse us.
However, we grew up in an era where TV and the common sins and sights of Hollywood seemed somewhat appealing.  So we were off to find the sign, without a tour guide and with the assistance of the ever amazing Google.
It did not turn out to be viewable from the intersection Google led us to believe, but with some random driving we located it.
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Now mission accomplished so off to a new adventure.  Now that we were in the spirit of the big city we decided to find street names and communities that we recognized.  So we travelled to Vine Street (you know - She's got a pad down at 34th and Vine / Sellin' little bottles of Love Potion #9; Neil Diamond); Beverly Hills, Sunset Boulevard, Rodeo Drive, and on the way home through Malibu.  We may have driven past Charlie Harper’s beach home, and Alan is correct – it would be hard to walk down the Pacific Coast Highway!
So although I say we are not attracted to the touristy areas, you all know I am a shopper, and when Don said “Oh here is Rodeo Drive” my heart almost stopped.  I mean really me on Rodeo Drive?  So of course as part of his contract for Driving Miss Donna, we parked so I could shop.  And I was too overwhelmed to do that, so we took pictures instead.
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We drove home though picturesque Santa Barbara, but other than a stop in at Starbucks to get me home, we did not shop or walk that much.  We were exhausted for some reason.  Santa Barbara has an incredible historic downtown which has been refurbished and is gorgeous, but we tend to find a lot of that on this coast.
Tomorrow we are travelling north to the San Francisco area, and although we have been there a few times before, we are looking forward to seeing more areas south of the city.
In 2002 we set out with our old travel trailer for a month, with the intent of making it to San Francisco and down Highway 101, the Pacific Coast Highway.  It took 5 years to get to San Francisco and the next 8 to say we have now driven the entire Highway 101.  And fallen in love with every stop we made, and always need to come back.
Can’t wait to tell you what we see next!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

New Adventures

Our destination this week was South Carlsbad State Beach Campground.  The website promised an ocean view and beaches to walk on within a reasonable distance from your site.  And it was true.  For this Pisces it was ocean at last.  The smell alone invigorates.  I even think my Scorpio friend is a bit addicted! 
We always say we will spend the first day setting up and relaxing, but to be honest with over 80,000 km on this trailer alone, setting up is a 10 minute procedure.  But we are getting better at relaxing, which to us means trying not to road trip. LOL  It doesn’t include stops to Walmarts or Costcos.
We had a few relaxing days here, driving Highway 101 and just taking in the splendour. It is  nice to end the day with a sunset like this.
Everyday Sunset:) 
Coming from Saskatchewan and Alberta, and not living close to oceans and mountains as part of our daily existence, the sights remain wondrous.  Here is a typical housing development on the coast.
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Definitely one of the highlights of the trip thus far was a visit to Coronado Island, on the south side of San Diego!  What a beautiful town and scenery.  It has a quaint waterfront development, where we had our picnic lunch, then a larger downtown development, with streets made for strolling and sightseeing. 
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This fellow watched us the whole time, posing for everyone who came by.  It was almost freaky…
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Other days were spent at the beach, outlet shopping and seeing Legoland.  Note I don’t say visiting Legoland, just seeing where it was.  There are many tourist things here that may be fun if we had the grandchildren with us, but not engaging enough for us.
We drove through and around San Diego a bit, and it is a beautiful city.  It is hard not to like any of the communities around here, built on the ocean and minutes away from vies that take your breath away.  Although in so many aspects one cit is like another, it is always wise to take the time to drive and enjoy.
On the drive into Legoland there were some teasers out there and these are just for Blake:
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Tomorrow morning we leave for Prismo Beach.  It was a great week and we enjoyed every “action packed” moment.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Salton Sea

Sounds so mysterious almost doesn't it?  Or maybe majestic?  Sadly it is none of those things, just a bizarre combination of nature and human error, resulting in a salt water body over 200 feet below sea level, but not close to the actually ocean.
Our last few days were spent at an RV park in El Centro, CA; especially so we could drive and discover the Salton Sea.  The sea originally encompassed just over 130 miles of shoreline, although that has shrunk to where it is today at approximately 100 miles.
The most active life in the area is birds. There is a Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge  which shelters wintering waterfowl and shorebirds. The refuge also provides habitat for over 375 bird species for many as a critical wintering or migration stopover area, wintering up to 30,000 snow, Ross's, and Canada geese, and 60,000 ducks from November through February.
The photos I have attached do not really do the area justice, as how exciting can a dead sea be in a photo.   There are over 1400 campsites along the shorelines, and several communities.  All of the communities show the stresses of being developed in an area built on hope, some have just sustained a bit more than others.  As we have discovered on this journey through southern California, people will buy and live anywhere, and the proof of wealth is always a constant.
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Although it is hard for us to imagine, there is evidence in the streets without houses, and houses with out people, that dreams were once a vital part of this area, and they have had to be put to rest. 
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Friday, April 5, 2013

Yuma, AZ

We had never stayed in Yuma before, previously only taking a day trip to see where it was and visit Algodones, MX.  So off to stay for a few days and a chance to visit Walter and Pat Parker.
Walter and Pat stay at the Cocopah Golf and RV Resort on the southwest corner of Yuma.  t is quite a beautiful place, as the golf course weaves through the RV sites, and all is green and irrigated.  I suppose a golfer may say the RV sites run through their golf course?
This visit included some odd firsts – I travelled across to Algodones and had my teeth cleaned.  Not sure how to select a dentist, as there are hundreds of them, but Pat made some inquiries with her friends and we picked one.  It was a great experience, and I will go back for sure.  It costs $25 but since I had a coupon it was only $15!!  When we selected health benefits we did not take dental, as it cost an additional $1000 per year per person.  Currently we both have very healthy teeth, and could not justify paying that.  Since my dentist quoted over $400 for a cleaning I opted to go with what I fondly refer to as my Mexican Dental Plan or MDP.  Ha Ha  Thanks to Pat for taking me across the border.
Next new site on the tour list was the Imperial Sand Dunes.  Now we have experienced sand dunes in Oregon before, but these are even more overwhelming.  Maybe it’s due to their placement along the interstate?  The right picture shows some tire marks, etc.  There are many signs indicating the sand blows across the highway, and ploughs around for clearing.  So kind of like our snow, except the 30 degree temperature doesn’t have a – sign!

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Oh and something else we had the chance to do was visit a date farm and have a date shake.  These seem to be the rage around here, but essentially it is a vanilla milkshake with ground dates.

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We had to be in Yuma on Thursday still – the market was open!  Pat and I went bright and early trying to avoid (for my comfort) the heat.  I bought a small RV mat (Thanks Ivan for the tip) for only $12.  I usually find the large door mats too big for us, we just need a place to wipe our feet before we come in.  So 5x7 was the answer…
I did see some items that might interest Don, so when we went back I showed him the data I had collected, and back we went.  His purchase?  Portable solar panels for the trailer!  I’ll post photos when we get them set up next time we dry camp.
So that is the end of our time in Yuma.  Thank you to the Parkers for being great hosts, and finding us such a great site to park in!
We are on our way to California today, but it’s only a short one hour drive.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Whole New Way to “Drive Miss Donna”

We spent a busy week in the Phoenix area, visiting with Ron and Bev, and exploring from the desert and mountains to the big city malls.  Phoenix has something for everyone and we tried to see it all.  In case you can’t find it – here’s a sign:
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Ron and Bev stay at the Arizonian RV Park in Gold Canyon, which is on the southeast side of Phoenix.  They have access to all the shopping and daily needs, as well as are able to drive their side by side right out of the park.  We did plenty of sightseeing and exploring, and had a fantastic day riding the ATVs through desert trails and canyons.
One day we visited the Kierland Commons mall.  This mall IS NOT COMMON!  Wow wow wow.  As you can tell I quite enjoyed it.  I had one intention – to find a Michael Kors store, and I did.  But alas it was not an outlet store and I knew better than to buy.  But oh such pretty stuff.  LOL  We also had a great lunch at a Bistro where the food had weird names but excellent taste.  Our shopping went on and on over a span of several days, dropping in here and there.  One day as Don and Ron were finding Cabellas, an outlet mall appeared right beside us.  Bev and I scored there that day!
One of the most interesting road trips was a Jeep ride down Highway 88 and a visit to Tortilla Flat.  This is an old west town, in the midst of Tonto National Forest.  It was originally a stagecoach stop in 1904, and although that service did not last long, the town has remained and is a popular tourist stop, with a saloon and restaurant that serves up hearty food and cold beer – not a bad combination for us!  By the way – the true population of this town is 6!
tortilla flat We made a visit to the Mesa Market as well – imagine a Stony Plain Farmer’s Market times about 100!  Vendors and rows and rows.  There was no way I could even think of something to buy – it was overwhelming.  Over 55 acres and 1600 vendors.  Seems to me though I got caught up in purchasing a blingy south style T Shirt – says Grandma’s Sippy Cup, and is emblazoned with a sparkling wine glass image.
This day also included a drive up the road through South Mountain Park, on the edge of Phoenix.  This is one of our “typical” scenic drives, where you share more than your half of the road with the other lane.  What spectacular views when you reach the top! 
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A special treat was being provided the Polaris Razor side by side for a trip into and through the mountains and canyons of Superstition Mountain.  This video is a bit heavy on wifi power, but especially for our friends Wayne and Regina who we know would love to come along some day…
 
And the reason behind today’s blog title:
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Enjoy the week and see you in April!