Thursday February 2, 2017
We left Phoenix early Thursday morning on another adventure, we are on our way to rendezvous with twenty-three other Airstream Trailers in Hollister, CA for a tour of southern California. Hollister, CA. is 700 miles from Phoenix, our plan was to allow three travel days to get to Hollister. We tried to make reservations at several RV parks in Palm Springs and Palm Desert before leaving Phoenix with no success. One of us never worries about reservations (it is not Roberta), this has only been a problem once. Tonight, was almost the second time.
It is high season in the Palm Springs/Palm Desert and none of the RV parks had a vacancy. Our good friends Randy and Xan Rinehart were traveling with us in their Airstream and by late afternoon all of us were anxious about where we were going to stay. Even Walmart’s, that are notoriously kind to RV’ers don’t allow RV’s to stay overnight in their parking lots in CA. We were driving on I 10 when we spotted a Casino just west of Palm Desert. Remembering that Casino’s allow RV’s to stay overnight and that they are safe because the parking areas are patrolled we decided to give it try. We spent Thursday night at the Morongo Casino, it had a large level parking lot set aside just for RV’s. We had a delicious dinner at one of five restaurants in the casino. The casino even has a shuttle service that picked us up and dropped us back at our RV. The four of us relaxed with a good dinner at the end of a long day. Looking out of our Airstream window you see snowcapped mountains. The temperature dropped into the low forties, great sleeping weather. We were up early and on the road headed to Bakersfield, CA.
Friday February 3, 2017
We got an early start from the Morongo Casino headed for Bakersfield, CA. It was “white knuckle” driving as we approached the 405 and the outskirts of Los Angeles. We have heard that Washington, DC has captured the first place award as the worst place to drive in the U.S. taking that dubious honor away from Los Angeles. We don’t agree with whomever made that decision. Maybe it’s because we are familiar with driving in the DC area; we think that DC driving is a piece of cake compared to LA where people weave in and out of traffic and drive way too fast. It rained on and off all day and the heavy fog made the experience even worse. We arrived at River Run RV Resort in Bakersfield in the early afternoon. It is a well-kept very nice RV park, we spent the afternoon relaxing, walking, jogging, and reading. There was a nice walking path along a river just outside of the RV park. We left the next morning shortly after eight o’clock for our caravan rendezvous point in Hollister, CA.
Saturday February 4, 2017
Magnificent scenery is all around us; mountains or steep rolling hills that rise up from the highway with outcroppings of rock, were visible all the way to Hollister. We have only been to CA a couple of times and each time we drove along the coast or in San Francisco. Today we drove north on route 5 and across CA 152 to Hollister it was an “eye opener” for us. The mountains and farm land can only be described as spectacular! We are in a gorgeous CA valley as far as the eye can see is beautiful farm land and what we believe are almond trees. We read that one sixth of the irrigated land in the United States is in this valley. Driving to the Safeway in Hollister today we drove past farms with the richest black earth that we have ever seen. Canada and California have about the same population, approximately thirty-three million people. We expected to see dense population everywhere in CA but it isn’t so, there is a lot of open land, wildness, and large farms in California.
Sunday February 5, 2017
Sunday morning begins cloudy and chilly. We use a small ceramic heater instead of our furnace to keep the Airstream warm it does a great job and it saves our propane. It is so relaxing to lay in bed, drink a cup of coffee, while looking out of the frosted window at beautiful CA scenery!
Sunday & Monday February 6 and 7 2017
We are near Hollister, CA and the much-talked about drought in CA is over! It rained most of the night. We were supposed to leave for Greenfield, CA at 8:00 this morning but it is raining so hard that after talking with friends of ours on the caravan who live in CA and know this area we decided to delay leaving Casa de Fruta RV Park until 10:00 AM.
Yesterday we drove to Salinas, CA and toured the John Steinbeck museum. One of the things that we liked most was seeing the custom pickup truck with a camper shell that he used to travel the U. S. with his dog Charlie (Travels With Charlie). The Holister/Salinas area is lush with green hills, they aren’t mountains, rather they are very steep rolling mountain-like hills unlike anything that we have ever seen. Words don’t describe the beauty of the area adequately and our pictures won’t show the beauty either. This part of CA is much different than we expected; it is lush farm land. The soil is so black and rich that we think that it could grow rocks, but what is grown is lettuce, broccoli, cherries, almonds, grapes, asparagus, artichokes, apricots, cherries, garlic and we’re sure that we have omitted some crops. Our friends Stan and Valerie Braga farm here so it is interesting for us to see what they have tried to describe to us. It is indescribable; you have to see and experience it yourself.
The last night that we were in Hollister there was a group dinner at one of the restaurants at Casa de Fruta RV Park. Of the twenty-three Airstream Trailers on the caravan we know the people in five trailers. We are continuing to meet new, interesting and nice Airstreamer’s! One of the benefits of owning our Airstream that we knew nothing about when we purchased it are the AS Caravans and the interesting Airstream owners whom would meet on the organized caravans! Airstream owners are a diverse and interesting group of adventurous people!! It is nice caravanning with other AS owners because of the community effect and if anyone needs help or gets lost there is always someone to help. The caravans are led by experienced caravan leaders who have gone through a training program. They know what to see and do in areas that are visiting.
We arrived in Greenfield, CA, a short drive of sixty to seventy miles from Hollister at noon. Yank’s RV Park in Greenfield, is new clean and very nice. The western United States has much nicer RV Parks than the RV parks found back east.
Wednesday February 8, 2017
Wednesday the group took a boat trip around the Elkhorn Slough. We thought that the name of the boat was the Elkhorn Slough. Wrong; the Elkhorn Slough is a shallow marshy body of water that supports many different plants, birds, and mammals. Our understanding is that a “slough” pronounced slew is formed when a river runs into an ocean and drops lots of silt making a delta. We saw so many seals, sea lions, birds etc. that by the time that the tour was over we were numb to seeing more. The Elkhorn Slough is somehow associated with The Monterey Aquarium and scientific research is done by the Monterey Aquarium at the slough. Just outside of the slough in the Monterey Bay there is an underwater canyon that we were told is two and half times as deep as the the Grand Canyon. Researchers are finding an average of one new species a day in this under water canyon.
Boat Ride On The Elkhorn Slough
Thursday February 9, 2018
We drove to Oceana, near Pismo Beach where we stayed at The Pismo Sands RV Park. That evening we went to The Great American Melodrama where professional actors present top-notch musicals, comedies, and classic melodramas in a casual atmosphere. We saw a comedy, “The Foreigner”. We had a good time the acting was good and the melodrama was funny, there were lots of funny scenes. We sat with an interesting couple Steve and Yoshi Deiwert, Yoshi is an artist and Steve is a retired engineer who work with NASA. It was a fun evening of light entertainment.
Friday February 10, 2018
We drove to the Madonna Inn, a funky local Inn that we were told had over the top decorations and a waterfall urinal in the men’s room is should not be missed. http://www.madonnainn.com/ Every guest room at Madonna Inn has been decorated with a unique theme, from Fabulous Fifties to Jungle Rock to Mountain Cabin. Gilt furniture and kitsch wallpaper, rock walls, are all part of this unusual inn. After visiting the Madonna Inn we drove to Avila Beach, San. Luis Obispo, and to Morrow Bay. The drive along the ocean was spectacular. We enjoyed a good lunch with friends at a restaurant in Pismo Beach, After lunch it was raining so we did not walk out on the pier. All and all a nice and relaxing day.
Saturday February 11, 2018
We drove north on PCH 1 and toured The Hearst Castle, which we had done on a previous trip to CA.
After touring the Hearst Castle, we drove a few miles further north on PCH 1 to Piedras Blanca’s, the southern end of Big Sur where the Friends of Elephant Seal support the seal rookery. The location is ideal for the seals because it is protected from storms and has wide sandy beaches. There were hundreds of huge seals asleep on the beach.
We high tailed it back to Pismo Sands so that we wouldn’t be late for “Spam Night”, a contest that the caravan leaders thought up for fun. The object was to see who could be the most creative chef with spam! Each couple was given two cans of spam when the caravan met at Hollister and each was asked to think about a creative spam recipe. There were some very creative and artistic entries, including spam sushi!
Sunday and Monday February 12 & 13, 2017
Sunday was a drive day. We drove to Buellton, CA where we stayed at the Flying Flags RV Park, a very nice clean RV park. We unhooked and got set up quickly and then drove to Santa Barbara with Mike and Jane Malone and John and Mary Diamond. We enjoyed a late lunch on Sterns Wharf. The drive from Buellton to Santa Barbara on 101 was beautiful. After lunch and a walk on Sterns Wharf we drove around Santa Barbara. We ended up at Whole Foods where we bought dinner and headed back to Buelton. The Santa Barbara area is one of our favorite places and definitely gets our VSP (very special place) award. The architecture and Mediterranean feel to the area are beautiful.
Monday, we started the day visiting an Ostrich farm in Buelton and then headed back to Santa Barbara where we met Randy and Xan and took at trolley tour of the area. One of the areas that we drove through on the trolley tour was Montecito. We drove back to Montecito after the tour and walked around on our own.
We ended the day driving to Solvang, CA a small town a few miles from Buelton that was founded in 1911 by a group of Danes who traveled west to establish a Danish colony far from the Midwestern winters. The city architecture is Danish and there are lots of bakeries, restaurants, and merchants offering a taste of Denmark in CA. We arrived back at Flying Flags RV at 6:30 exhausted but feeling as though we had seen everything.
Tuesday February 14, 2017
Valentine’s day was the longest and hardest driving day on the trip. We left Buelton for Newport Beach a drive day of about 180 miles. Part of the driving was on the 405 around LA, the best way to describe the drive is that it Is “white knuckle” driving. We left early and apparently we lucked out and hit the traffic just right, some or our group that were behind us complained of being at a dead stop for quite a while. They might have been the lucky ones, we experienced fast driving cars weaving in and out of traffic on eight lanes of highway. Driving anywhere near Los Angles is anxiety producing and should be avoided if at all possible. We arrived in Newport Beach in the early afternoon. We were not planning to go to dinner at the Elks Club that night but two couples had cancelled and a fellow caravaner (Bob Vasser) had kindly made arrangements with the Elk’s Club to have a special dinner catered for Valentine’s Day. He would have been charged for the four meals so in order to help Bob we said that we would go. We’re glad that we did the meal was good but even if it hadn’t been the view was worth the price of the meal. The Elk’s Club in Newport beach is right on the harbor and we were there at sunset. The service was fabulous, accommodating Eddie’s vegan diet without missing a beat. We had a nice meal surrounded by new Airstream friends!
The next day we took a boat cruise around Newport Harbor with the boat captain pointing out interesting sights and sprinkling his talk by pointing out homes that belong to the rich and famous. After the cruse we took a short ferry ride (about 100 yards) to Balboa Island where we walked along the board walk looking at homes then to the downtown commercial area. Balboa Island is a fun place to stroll around the site see. We ended the day at Whole Foods buying prepared food for dinner.
Balboa Island Board Walk
Thursday we toured John Wayne’s yacht “The Wild Goose”. The “Wild Goose” was originally a Navy ship built as a mind sweeper for use in WW II.
Friday, we drove up the coast to Dana Point for lunch and to Laguna Beach everyone was talking about the expected storm. At the restaurant, where we had lunch they were putting out sand bags in anticipation of the storm. Just across from our RV site at Newport Dunes RV there is a steep bank that they have covered with black plastic and staked with sandbags in order to hold the hillside in place.
Saturday February 18, 2017
We have experienced lots of rain in Southern California. A song that was popular for our generation is “It Never Rains In Southern CA” we’ll it’s not true. The CA drought is officially over!! The flooding and rain in CA has been in the national news lately due to worry about the possible breach of the Oroville Dam and the evacuation of 200,000 residents. We do not think that we are in danger however it disconcerting to see sand bags being put up along with black plastic being used to cover the hillside behind our trailer to hold the hillside in place and to prevent a mudslide.
Our southern CA trip is coming to an end, there are only six rigs left at Newport Dunes RV the rest of the group left for Bakersfield. Some of us are skipping the trip north to Bakersfield, we did, because it involved driving north and then driving south again to get back to Phoenix. Our friends Mike and Jane Malone are headed to Mesa and we caravanning back to Phoenix together. We are hookup and ready to leave Newport Beach by 10:00. Since we only plan to drive eighty miles today to the Morongo Casino where we stayed on the way to CA we are not in a rush to get on the road. With help from the people at Newport Dunes RV Resort we found a way to get to I-10 without driving near the 405 or Los Angles.
We are new to casino parking having only parked in casino parking lots three times previously. They are safe, convenient and they welcome RV’s they are nice places to stay for a night. We stayed at the Morongo Casino RV Parking lot on the way to Hollister, CA to begin the caravan. We decided to spend the night there on the way back to Phoenix. We arrived at about 3:30 Saturday afternoon. We had dinner at one of the casino restaurants Saturday night and then spent a chilly night before leaving for home on Sunday morning.
Another adventure is coming to an end but the memories of the places that we visited, what we have seen and learned and the new friends that we made will remain with us for the rest of our lives!