Organ Pipe National Park

Organ Pipe National Park

About Me

I purchased "Sadie''s House On Wheels "in late 2007 and loved traveling in a motor home so much that I went on the road full time in late 2008. I started writing this blog to help me remember all the wonder places I have been and it allows me to share those places with my family and friends. Summer of 2013 I decided to hang up the keys for a while and moved back into my stick house. After nearly two years, I am on the road again.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Monterey Peninsula, June 23-29

The Monterey Peninsula, especially Pacific Grove, Carmel, and Monterey are not RV friendly, especially not Big Rig friendly, which is why the Monterey Elks is a the only affordable place to stay. Although the parking lot is not very level, they have upgraded the electric so there are now 12 50amp sites. The "donation" of $25.00 a night is well worth it, especially if you consider the Fairgrounds or the Monterey Dunes RV in Marina at $50-$70.00 per night. The Monterey Elks RV parking was the fullest I have seen since I began staying there over 6 years ago.  They do have a a gym and showers and the Elks is within walking distance to downtown (about 2 miles) and to a major shopping Mall. My mother's 95th birthday is July 5, during the 4th of July weekend.  For this reason we opted to celebrate Mom's birthday a little early and keep it  low key.

I did take long walks on Asilomar Beach, my very favorite beach in the area. Part of the beach is on Asilomar State Park land, but a major part is on private Pebble Beach Corporation and dog friendly.  It is extremely hard to keep Tara out of the water, I don't even try.  She enjoys it so much.

One evening we walked down to the Monterey Wharf #1 and watched to sea otters, kayakers, and tourist boats come and go. We enjoyed samples of clam chowder which various restaurants offer as enticements to their restaurant.  My favorite place is on Wharf #2 which is where the commercial fishing boats come in but it also the place of my favorite restaurant, the Sand Bar, which is a local favorite and  serves the best melt in your mouth calamari appetizer which I always order as my main entree.
 This little guy put on quite a show. It's hard to believe these Sea Otters were almost extinct to the Monterey Bay but are now growing in population.

Of course a visit to the Monterey Peninsula is never complete without a trip to the world renown Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Entrance fees are a little pricey, but well worth it.  Fortunately, my family has been an aquarium member since it opened and we usually get a few guest passes which makes our stay pleasant as we don't feel like we have to stay all day and get our money's worth.  The best time to go is very early in the morning or late in the day.  We went early, 9:30, and were done and ready to leave by 12:00 when it was getting really crowded.

The main attraction are Sea Otters and sharks.  I took quite a few photos of the sea otters but they were having so much fun splashing on the windows that the photos really didn't turn out well.  What was really mesmerizing were the schools of anchovies putting on a kaleidoscope show.  They travel in a tight school and make the most interesting formations.

 The jelly fish are another very popular and colorful attractions.

 You can't beat the cute penguins.  This one just loved to pose for me.

Of course the whole reason for our week in Monterey was to celebrate Mom's birthday.  I had arranged for a low key open reception /birthday celebration at  Canterbury Woods on Saturday. Mom has been a resident in this life care institution since she and dad moved in in 1988.  I think she is one  of one or two residents  who have lived there over 25 years.   Wow! How those senior citizens like to party and enjoy champagne and cake.  I think there was over 60 attending and most of the cake and champagne was gone!

On Sunday, my brother's family, all his daughters, grandchildren, as well as  and two of my sons took mom out for Pizza. Pizza you say? Surly grandma deserves more than Pizza.  Not so.  Pizza and beer is one of her favorite foods.  She usually can't wait until she has a visitor to take her out for Pizza and beer! The International Cuisine in down town Pacific Grove did a wonderful job of accommodating my whole family (there were 19) for pizza beer.  It is a family venue and casual. They do serve other things such as a killer clam chowder and calamari .  Great place for an informal gathering.

Alas,our time has ended inMonterey for the time being and we are heading back to the heat.  Next stop will be Chico. Hot. Hot. Hot. Its suppose to be in the triple digits!  If there are no hook ups at the Elks Lodge we'll probably move on but are hoping to stay through the crazy 4th of July weekend as we didn't plan ahead.  All the cooler places are full.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

More on the area around San Benito TT area, June 16-23

The San Benito Thousand Trails is huge.  It think there are over 350 sites.  I was amazed there were so many seasonal sites as well as cabins that seemed to be occupied.  Most of the seasonal sites had been "landscaped" with trees, turf, etc which made it obvious the RVers were there for more than just a season.  It is about 14 miles from Hollister and 20 miles from Pinnacles National Park.  It is also close enough for a day trip to the Monterey Peninsula.  The upside of the park is that it is quite and we didn't have neighbors on top of us. One other interesting fact is the San Andreas Fault runs through the park.

We had planned to do some hiking,-in the Pinnacles National Park but with temperatures in the high 90's and triple digit in the Pinnacles we opted not to chance it. We scoped out the park and will probably return later in the Fall when we are headed back this way.  There are quite a few hikes I would really like to do. These wild turkeys didn't seem to mind the heat.

One day we headed out to explore the Wine Trail.  The country side in this area is heavily planted with organic vegetables and it appears there are many vineyards.  We visited several wineries allong Cienga Road, the first one being Calera. The outside doen't look too appealing, but the inside was warm and friendly.
Beautiful, but dry vistas from the parking area.
Great place for a picnic.

This must be the celler.

 I was more interested in the tastings, but Joel doesn't drink wine and is more interested in the architecture.  I was very disappointed that the wineries, we toured,  especially small fledglings are charging $10.00 a pop for tastings. Yes, they waive the tasting fee if you buy up to $50 worth of wine, but that is simply beyond my price point.  My pallet is not educated enough to appreciate expensive wines.  Plus, I didn't find any wine at Calera that warranted me spending $20.00plus per bottle.

The next winery was De Rose Vineyards. They were having a formal pairing which was interesting, but at $30.00  per person we passed.  Apparently they were serving wines from the "library" that generally were not offered to the public.  If I was a real enthusiasts it might have been worth it.

We headed on up the road to Pietra Santa Winery which  reminded me of some of the old wineries you find in Napa.

The vineyards were lush and beautiful.

According to some post research this winery is right on the San Andreas Fault Line.  Again I didn't find a wine that would encourage me to spend my travel money but the ambiance was nice.

The Historic Vineyard School was built in 1891 to school children who did not attend the private schools in the area.  Today it is located in the Hollister Hills SVRA.

Early in our stay, we did go to the Farmers Market in downtown Hollister.  The main street is closed off and it is a family affair.  I found my favorite apricots and nectarines that were actually tree ripened and Joel found tomatoes that looked like they were home grown and tasted like  real tomatoes.   Yummmm.

We've  left San Benito Thousand Trails for the Monterey Elks Club and plan to return some time when the weather is not so hot to explore more of this area. But for now, Mom's 95th birthday is coming up and family will be gathering on the Monterey Peninsula this weekend to celebrate. Of course, I'll be walking on Asilomar Beach as much as possible and enjoying the cool weather.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Travel Day to San Benito Thousand Trails, June 16.

The drive up Highway 101 from Oceano to the turn off to Hollister is a very pretty drive.  The Salinas Valley offers vistas of miles and miles of lush vinyards and various other green fields.   The traffic was mild until about Salinas and then it got a little heavy.  We took the turn off at San Juan Batista and the GPS took Joel through down town Hollister.  My GPS provided a different route, but  the radio went dead and I couldn't warn him.  The the next few miles through Tres Pinos and Paicines were beautiful and unexpected.  There was an abundance of ranches and vineyards.  I thought most of the area was cattle ranches but I guess I was wrong.  Of course it has been at least 35 years years since I have been to this area.

My son Justin's birthday is today.  He is the ripe young age of 42. Where did the time go! Unfortunately, Justin didn't have a very pleasant birthday.  The following photos are a graphic and a warning why you should always use sun screen.  Although Justin is religious about  using sun screen, he did get sunburned a few times as a child, even though I did apply sunscreen to his body.  He has had several suspected moles removed over the past few years and one was very early stage melanoma so now he is checked every three months.  He won't know the results on this one for a few days.  It sure looks ugly, and he won't be jogging or riding his bike for a few weeks.  Ouch!!

Please use your sun screen and check any suspicious new moles !! Oh, and according to recent articles, NO sunscreen is waterproof.  Always apply after being in the water AND every 2 hours for best results.

Enough of the bad stuff.  The San Benito Thousand Trails is very large and half the sites have non working power.  It is obvious the Preserve needs a lot of TLC.  Due to the drought the grounds are weed ridden and everything is brown.  Not all of the restrooms are functional.   Fortunately, after reading several reviews I was prepared to not expect too much.  The upside is that it is off season and the preserve is not real full and I was able to get  Joel do a few loops around the park until the perfect site could secured...some shade, not near a dumpster or bathroom, not on top of a neighbor,  and of course right exposure for Joel's satellite.. LOL. It CAN be done!

Hopefully, there weather will cooperate some and not get too hot so we can explore Pinnacles National Park about 20 miles down the road.

Pismo Vechicle Recreation Area and more, 6/14 &15.

On Sunday, we drove towards Santa Barbara to Santa Inez to see Joel's sister and brother-in-law, Joanne and chuck.  They have a beautiful home out in the country and Chuck has a shop.  Needless to say Joel and Chuck talked shop, wood, tools and all.  Joann quilts and has a studio but doesn't have much time for than any more.  We had a wonderful brunch at the Vineyard sitting out on the patio and then went on in to Santa Barbara to see Joann's new kitchen cabinet shop. Joel looked at hardware for the  drawers and cabinets in the Beaver.  We then headed back to Oceano.

 The Oceano /Five Cities Elks Club is within walking distance Pismo Dunes Vehicle Recreational Area via a back walking trail.  Several mornings I walked towards the beach and it was really pleasant.  However, by mid-morning the area was a buzz with quads and dune buggies.  For  a $5.00 day use fee you can drive on the beach and eventually to the Dunes. Part of the recreation area to the south is roped off for the Snowy Plover nesting area and other parts are roped off for camping only. To the north, camping is not allowed.  The weather was really windy and we were treated to a show of kit boarding.  The photos is very hazy because it was very, very windy. 

While driving the length of beach we noticed a little white passenger car following us. I mentioned to Joel the little car looked really low to the ground and could get stuck.  When I looked back a few moments later, sure enough it was stuck.  Fortunately, we had a tow strap with us and with the help of another beach goer we were able to pull the car out.  The car was a little Mustang convertable, a rental, and definitely not suitable for driving on the beach.  The couple in the car were from Ireland and were touring the California Coast from San Diego to San Francisco.  They were thankful they didn't have to call the rental company and get a tow, and even more so, as the tide was starting to come in!. 

This is what happens when you forget to wear a hat on a windy day at the beach!

We played tourist and drove the scenic drive out to the point which offered some interesting rock formations. One formation was very close to the walking trail and included two seagulls and their chicks.  I couldn't see a nest, but at least no four legged predators could reach them. It's a long way down to the ground and those chicks better learn to fly quickly.  Not much room on the top of rock formation.

 Note the two sea gulls on the rock in the lower left of the photo.
 Look closely and you can see the two chicks between their parents.

Tomorrow we say goodbye to  the beach and head inland again towards Hollister to the San Benito Thousand Trails for a week or so depending on temperatures.  We hope to visit the Pinnacles National Park and just hang for a few days.  

Around Morro Bay, June 13

We headed over to Morro Bay.  The last time I was there I tent camped on the beach not too far from the little seaside village and enjoyed an abundance of seafood.  Well, the little seaside village is no longer and has obviously been discovered.  Wall to wall tourist and lack of parking quickly dampened hunger for seafood and we headed over to the beach to let Tara run.

The beach wasn't too crowded, but dogs had to be kept on leash.  We walked down the beach way past all of the life guards , broke the rules and let Tara run a frolic in the waves.

This crane didn't bat a wing at Tara.  She caustiously trolled the beach keeping an eye on us. Tara was so happy to be running she paid no attention to her.

Joels loves visting breweries so next we headed over to ManRock Brewery.  They have an outside patio and live music and are dog friendly.

Joel enjoyed the music and the beer was obvoiusly enjoyed.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sierra Scenic By Way, June 10, 2015

Today was Joel's Birthday and I graciously let him decide where and what he wanted to do. He had been talking about taking a drive he had done  several years ago on part of the  Sierra Scenic By-Way and wanted to explore it again.  We got out the maps, plotted our route,  and headed out towards Bass Lake. The turn off is not far from Bass Lake on Sky Ranch Road.  As the name suggests the road gains elevation and there are still a few wild flowers to be enjoyed.

The map showed a small side loop leading to Nelder Grove Historic Site which looked intriguing and not too out of the way.  I found out later the grove was named after John A Nelder, who was  called  by John Muir the "Hermit of the Fresno Forest:. Muir wrote about Nelder in his book "Our National Parks   and often walked with Nelder in the forest.

The loop off the By Way  was a most pleasant surprise and off the beaten path.  There is a short 1 mile loop trail called the Shadow of the Giants, which loops around willow creek.  We decided to explore and languished in the quiet. There were no other humans on the trail and we had the forest all to ourselves.  What a contrast from the day before at Mariposa Grove!

We completed the loop  trail and head back towards the Scenic By Way catching this pretty fall.

Once  back out on the main road we looked for a place to eat our picnic lunch. We came upon a large pull out with lots of parking and a trail which led to what looked like an overlook. At first I couldn't figure out why there was such an elaborate and trail  but once I looked up, I saw the Fresno Dome.  The pull out/parking area was obviously an abandoned vista point and stop for tour buses. The trees had grown up and were partially obscuring the view of Fresno Dome.  Mystery solved.

We pressed on, and I was amazed at how little traffic there was.  The map shows the  Sierra Scenic
By-Way as a very long loop and it was getting late in the day but Joel wanted to press on because there was a boulder field he wanted to show me, but wouldn't describe it.  There were plenty of large out croppings and boulders along the way, but he kept saying  they weren't what he was looking for.  Finally, Globe Rock showed up long the road.  It kind of looks like something from out of space don't you think?

There are plenty of forest  service primitive campgrounds along the by pass. We checked out Chiquipin, which is a mile or so off the main road and not too far from the Globe.  It has a quiet setting  along a small creek.  It's not suitable for big rigs, but a small rig could easily get in there.

Next we headed over to El Cid's in Oakhurst  to meet Maynard for good Mexican Food and Joe's Birthday dinner.  Yumm.  Not a bad day.