Sunset in PV

Sunset in PV

Sunday, May 27, 2012

May 21 – 27, 2012 - “Redwood National Park”

Find more about Weather in Crescent City, CA
We made the decision to spend a week in Crescent City, CA, largely because we didn’t want to be without a campsite over Memorial Day. So with that behind us, we departed Santa Rosa northward 120 miles to Leggett, and called Redwood River Resort home for the night. 

We rely heavily on when choosing a new home, and read the reviews carefully (with a grain of salt), and realize what constitutes a 10 for one person, may only warrant a 6 from another. Redwood River Resort had ratings from 1 to 10. But, being true vagabonders, felt the risk vs reward for one night wouldn’t be that bad. As it turns out, the park was beautiful, set in the giant redwoods with only one drawback for us. They claim to be big rig friendly, but I would describe them as big rig iffy. Upon check in, they gave us a pull through, but when we got to the site, the maintenance crew was “manicuring” it, and suggested we take a back in site. The road is very narrow in spots and lined with vegetation, so after 5 or 6 jockeying attempts of back and forth, finally managed to get Elly parked without damage; we “rubbed” the vegetation quite a few times, but luckily no scratches. (As usual, click on any image to enlarge.)

The next morning we once again moved 175 miles northward to Crescent City on the California coast, and checked into our new home for the week at Sunset Harbor RV Park. While it may not be as picturesque as Redwood, it will be more than adequate for us as we explore the area.  

The following morning we awoke with frost on our noses; 48 degrees and I’m thinking we may have moved too far north too fast. This is definitely NOT 7 second weather. After our usual breakfast, coffee and WDYWTDT, we decided on the nearby Battery Point Lighthouse / Museum. What’s unusual about this lighthouse? It is located on an island, and at low tide you simply walk a few hundred yards along the ocean floor to visit. Today low tide is 9:41 am, and the museum is open from 10 am – 2 pm, when the tide starts to rise.

 The museum is operated by the Del Norte Historical Society, and they ASK for a $3 per person donation.  While $3 is a fair price, in all the museums we have visited, we have never been asked for a specific amount OR had them collect it; usually there is a jar or box to place the donation in. If this is their policy, why not just state “Admission Fee $3 Per Person”? Short answer; we’re in CA. Oh, and guess what? No pictures were allowed to be taken inside the lighthouse.

Each lighthouse has a unique light signature, with the proper charts, mariners can pinpoint their exact location. The signature for the light at Battery Point is 3.5 seconds on and 26.5 seconds off, and can be seen up to 14 miles away.

OK, on to the main attraction, our primary reason for being in Crescent City; Redwood National and State Parks, home to the world’s tallest trees – icons that inspire visions of mist laden primeval forests bordering crystal clear streams. Here one fell years ago and they simply cut away a section to allow for passage. These trees can take up to 500 years to fully decompose.

When logging began in 1850, roughly two million acres of ancient or “old-growth” redwood forest canopy mantled the coastal mountains of California. Today, just about five percent remains and Redwoods National and State Parks preserves over 35% of that.

As the tallest living things in the world, coast redwoods can grow higher than 370 feet and live more than 2,000 years. In their lifetime, they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and can store more than 400,000 pounds (200 tons) of carbon in it's trunk alone - the equivalent of about 800 tons of carbon dioxide. The average American produces about 1,600 tons of carbon in his or her lifetime; just two mature coast redwoods have the capacity to offset your entire carbon footprint for life!

The following morning, at low tide, we ventured 15 miles south to the Klamath Overlook hoping to see the Grey Whales feeding at the mouth of the Klamath River. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other ideas, and it was so foggy, we could barely see the surf. We spotted a few sea lions, but no whales. Oh well, maybe next time.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. Putting politics aside, our veterans are the ones who fought for the freedoms that we enjoy every day and unfortunately at times, some take them for granted. Please take the time to reflect on the sacrifices so many have made, for without them, our lives would not be the same. Thanks Vets!

Until next time, take care and stay well……….Thanks for stopping by.............

Sunday, May 20, 2012

May 14 – 20, 2010 “Yosemite to Santa Rosa, CA”

The hour and a half drive from Chowchilla, CA, at an elevation of 330 feet to Yosemite, where the elevation varies between 2,000 and 13,000 feet, via Hwy 140 was spectacular; through the vineyards and citrus groves, up through the foothills where dairy farms dot the landscape. We chose to start our exploration at Washburn Point. (As usual, click on any image to enlarge) 

For the person that first coined the phrase, a picture is worth a thousand words, must have been referencing Yosemite; everywhere you look is a Kodak moment. Here the Merced River travels over Nevada Falls (upper) and the lower Vernal Falls. Even from this distance, you can hear the sounds of the cascading waters.

From Washburn Point its only a couple of miles to the roads end at Glacier Point, where one gets a bird’s eye view of Yosemite Valley, 3,000 feet below.

Standing high on the cliff, overlooking this spectacular valley, and Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls, I wondered what early man thought when seeing it for the first time, and how it has transformed over the eons. 

We left Glacier Point and back tracked the 17 miles to Yosemite Valley, where this landscape awaited us as we exited the 8/10 mile tunnel leading into the valley; a view of Bridalveil Falls.

You can hike to the falls, and below it is this small bridge crossing Bridalveil Creek. Beyond this point, photography can sometimes be difficult, depending on wind conditions, as the rising mist from the falls covers a vast area.

Bridalveil is the most photographed falls in Yosemite............... with just cause!

The undenominational Yosemite Chapel in the valley is the oldest structure in the park, and was dedicated June 7, 1879. 

The chapel survived the flood of 1992, but sustained extensive damage that needed to be repaired, as flood waters climbed to over 10 feet on January 2, as the sign in front of the chapel demonstrates.

Across the road from the chapel is Lower Yosemite Falls. If you only have time to visit one of the National Parks in California, make it Yosemite; it is much more diverse than the others, and there is a “Kodak Moment” almost everywhere you look. 

It has been a long day, as we travel back to our “home”, The Lakes RVand Golf Resort in Chowchilla, one of the nicest parks we have stayed in this year. The sites are lined by vegetation, ours with honeysuckle in bloom. Some surround the lake and have outdoor kitchens, with the clubhouse, pool and spa in the background.

We departed Chowchilla and traveled 100 miles westward to Morgan Hill, where we will call Maple Leaf RV Park our home for the next few days while we visit with some of CC’s family living in nearby San Jose. 

Our time to visit with family was brief, but we shared a wonderful Italian dinner at Mama Mia’s in Morgan Hill. I have been asked to post no pictures to protect those that are in need of anonymity. (Just kidding…….I forgot to take the camera……Oooops!) 

The following morning we did the usual, coffee, breakfast, and WDYWTDT. So, off to Santa Cruz it was; a short drive of 50 miles over the Santa Cruz Mountains to the boardwalk at the beach.

It was early, both hourly and seasonally, so the crowds were non-existent; opening day was three days from today, so we had time to walk the boardwalk and enjoy the coastal breezes.

We walked out on the wharf and had lunch at Gilda’s, an Italian joint open since 1879. I had snapper and CC enjoyed the calamari. They were both very good, but I’m sure we are somewhat biased as we haven’t had any fresh seafood for months.

The walk back to the beach revealed other “visitors” to the wharf.

We had originally planned on traveling to Santa Rosa on Friday, but after careful examination of our intended route, decided it may be prudent to travel early on Saturday morning. Hopefully traffic should be less hectic traveling 130 miles up I-880 through Oakland to the 101, into Santa Rosa.

We arrived at The Sonoma County Fairgrounds about three hours later, unscathed but slightly unnerved by the amount of traffic and the speed at which California drivers travel. Since we are towing the Equinox, state law limits our speed to 55 MPH, with a speed limit of 65 MPH for non-towing or vehicles less than 3 axles; most travel closer to 75 or 80, which makes merging and changing lanes “interesting”. 

Sunday morning after the usual tête-à-tête, it was off to an steam powered saw mill, open and operating this weekend for the public to tour. 

This restoration project began with an inspiration to share and preserve a piece of local history. The phrase "an American original" is often overused in popular culture; in the heart of Sonoma County, however, stands a special place that truly merits the title of American original.

At Sturgeon's Mill, you bask in the rich resonance of more than 100 years of California history. Imagine the mighty redwoods that passed through this once-bustling facility, creating the timber that built a great state. Close your eyes, and you can almost hear the voices of the workmen as they labored and laughed together. Stand alongside the powerful steam-driven sawmill, and the roar of its machinery still echoes faintly through the glade.

After a quick lunch, it was off to the coast, for a drive up The 1; the original coastal highway. Some RV’ers we have spoken to “claim” they have taken their rigs on The 1, but after driving 50 miles on it in the Equinox, there is no way Elly could make it. If your rig is over 22 feet, don’t attempt it, as it is much too steep, narrow and winding; all with no paved shoulders and very few pullouts. But……………..the views are breath taking!

It has been an eventful week, and writing about it brings back vivid memories, as if it were only yesterday. Next week our plans are to travel northward, up the 101, to Redwoods National Park for more BFT’s. Memorial Day is also on the horizon, so we will have to make certain we have a place to stay for the official start to the summer RV season; quite possibly Crescent City, CA.

Thanks for taking time to stop by and view our latest chapter. Until next time, take care and stay well…………………….

Monday, May 14, 2012

May 8 – 13, 2012 “Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks”

We departed Boron, CA, in route 167 miles NW to Visalia, CA. As we climbed out of the Mojave Desert, the flora began to change, to a strange color we had not seen since March 24. CC and I were both puzzled, but as we slowly dropped into the San Joaquin Valley, it all came back to us; verde…… that really you? Miles and miles of citrus orchards and grape vineyards lined the highway and as far as the eye could see. Other crops are cultivated here as well; strawberries, vegetables, walnuts, pistachios, grains, and olives, to name a few. If it can be profitably grown, it is grown here.

On arrival at Country Manor RV Park, the manager, Shirley, was really giving CC the what for on just about everything. At first, I thought she was really pissed, but after awhile, as she spoke to herself in third person, we both realized she had an extremely dry(?) and somewhat demented sense of humor. I must say she had us on the ropes for a few minutes. 

The following morning it was off to Sequoia National Park, about 45 miles from our park. We had wanted to stay closer to Sequoia, but as we drove by RV parks that were closer, we realized the size of our rig would not be accommodated by these smaller, older RV parks, many of which had few if any 50 amp sites. As we approached the entrance to the park, there was a sign stating, “NO vehicles over 22 feet beyond Hospital Rock”. Then, as we proceeded it became ever apparent why the sign; narrow, winding, very narrow and very winding roads. Some places I wondered if a 22 footer would have made the turn.

We stopped at Hospital Rock for lunch and to kill and hour and a half. There is road construction, and they weren’t going to let any traffic through until noon. So, no harm, no foul, CC had prepared lunch, so we sat at a table in the shade and dined on our sandwiches, followed by a short hike to burn off a few calories. Around 11:15 we headed “uphill” until traffic came to a stop.

We had an excellent view of Moro Rock, which is a dome-shaped granite monolith. Common in the Sierra Nevada, these domes form by exfoliation-the spalling or casting off in scales, plates, or sheets of rock layers on otherwise unjointed granite. Outward expansion of the granite causes the exfoliation. Expansion results from load relief; when the overburden that once capped the granite has eroded away, the source of compression is removed and the granite slowly expands. CC commented that it just looked like a BFR to her. To which I replied, “It is”. (As usual, click on any image to enlarge)

At the trail entrance to the Sherman tree, there are numerous signs stating how strenuous the half mile walk can be. I must admit, the trip down was actually harder on my knees than the ascent. The trail is a little steep in spots, but is adequately paved with stairs located on the steepest parts. It took us about 10 minutes going down, and double that going out, not due to lack of leg conditioning, but due to the fact we lost our Colorado lungs, and at this altitude of almost 7,000 feet, oxygen is sparse.

We were both in total awe! I said, “That’s the biggest freakin’ tree, I’ve ever seen”, and CC replied, “That is ONE BFT”. Standing beside a living organism that is thought to be around 2,500 years old is undeniably one of the moments in life that gave us both goosebumps. This was down in the middle of our bucket list, but after being there next to this behemoth, I have to rate it near the top of my “Must See” list. It takes time, effort and energy to get here, but that is a drop in the bucket compared to seeing this tree, and the other Sequoias in person.

The General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park is the largest (by volume) tree in the world. Computing the volume of a standing tree is the practical equivalent of calculating the volume of an irregular cone. For purposes of volume comparison, only the trunk of a giant sequoia is measured, including the restored volume of basal fire scars. Using these accepted standards and actual field measurements taken in 1975, the volume of the Sherman Tree was calculated to be slightly over 52,500 cubic feet, and weighs almost 4.2 million pounds! The circumference at the base is 103 feet, and the height of the first large branch above the ground is 130 feet.

The cross section of this Giant Sequoia is 18 feet in diameter. Now that in itself is quite impressive, but The Sherman tree is that same diameter 60 feet AG (above ground), and 14 feet in diameter at 180 feet AG; that is one BFT!

The bark on these mammoth trees can be up to 32 inches thick, which acts as an insulator from fire and insects. A large majority have burn scars, while others have lost their entire top to lightning, but the amazing thing is, they survive wearing their battle scars; to proud to die.

It is now late afternoon, and we have about a two hour drive back to Country Manor. As we continued northward, through the park, we came across a babbling brook, that screamed “I’m a Kodak Moment”. I’m feeling after being in the desert for so long, CC and I will both be enamored by water for some time to come.

Over the next couple of days we took some time to perform long overdue, much needed chores in and around the rig. Wash the desert dust from the screens and windows, and in general, an overall deep cleaning of the rig; that dust can get into the tiniest of spaces. The toad was in need of some attention as well, to remove the tiny spots of road tar and/or tree sap from the tree we parked under while in Lajitas, TX.

There is no Super Wally World in Visalia, so in order to re-provision, it was necessary to spread the wealth at 4 different mercantile. We noticed overall food prices here 15-20% higher than in the Midwest, but then again, it might just be CA, and Sacramento’s inept ability to run their State as you and I run our households; on a balanced budget and out of the red.

 After coffee, breakfast, and our normal WDYWTDT conversation, it was off to Kings Canyon National Park, about 60 miles NE of Visalia. It was an easy drive through mile after mile of various agricultural farms. As we departed the valley floor at 340 feet in elevation, and climbed our way to 6,000 feet, the air cooled by about 20-25 degrees. CC and I had no idea of what to expect at Kings Canyon. Would it be a mini Grand Canyon or something else? A few miles into the park we saw a sign, “General Grant Tree”. Hmmmm…………….OK, let’s see what Grant has to offer.

There are 75 Giant Sequoia Groves on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada’s, at 5,000 – 7,000 feet in elevation, with less than 260 miles from the northernmost grove to the southernmost. The climate here is ideal, and naturally occurring growth of these trees occurs nowhere else in the world. Their greatest predator is wind toppling, as they have shallow roots with no tap root to secure them.

As we pulled into the parking lot, I had the opportunity to get a perspective shot of one of these giants. This was not General Grant, nor was it one of the biggest; it was just “average”, a youngster, probably no more than 1,200 years old.

As we walked along the trail to view Grant, we came across this sign posted beside a fallen Sequoia.

By now, you may be getting tired of perspective shots, but it is just overwhelming at how big the guys and gals get. (The trees, not CC)

Just a little further up the trail this interesting sign; those Yankees think the world ends at the Mississippi River, and nothing is as great as things are in their “neck of the woods”. Guess some things never change. But it does illustrate the point that I’m trying to make; pictures alone or a section of them, do not do justice to these magnificent specimens.

Drumroll please…………..and now, without further adieu, General Grant, “America’s Christmas Tree”.

Not even this big guy, General Grant, would succumb to fire.

OK, enough trees, and onto Kings Canyon. No more trees; I promise. As we clear the ridge there is a scenic overlook before we descend into the valley.

Ooops……..that doesn’t count……’s dead.

From here, we descend 3,000 feet to the valley floor. The road is once again winding, and very steep; so much so CC won’t even look out over the horizon. Vertigo sets in; an affliction I never knew she suffered from in over 37 years since we did the “I do” thing, thus disproving the old myth that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Woof, woof!

Finally, at the bottom we reach a new flora, (I promised no more trees) and the Kings River.

We are in a state of unbelief at this point. Knowing where we left in Visalia, traveling through the agricultural belt, ascending to the giant Sequoia Grove of General Grant, and now descending to this; nowhere else have we traveled in the last two years have we experienced such a diverse range in less than 30 miles as the crow flies. It is, truly remarkable, and we are once again in awe as we reach Grizzly Falls.

We completed the drive past Cedar Grove to the roads end, where the canyon walls were the steepest. Considering the Equinox was not 4 wheel drive, and not capable of climbing out of the canyon with 70 - 80 degree walls, we thought it prudent to do the most practical, and just turn around and retrace our route back to Country Manor. By this time, it was once again, late afternoon, and the pool and happy hour were screaming our names. The drive back was almost a spectacular as the drive in, and along the way we both commented how blessed we were to be living the lifestyle we are.

From here we will be moving about 80 miles north to Chowchilla to The Lakes RV & Golf Resort, and will call that home and base camp for our exploration of Yosemite National Park. We’re glad you stopped by to check on the next chapter in our lives, and until next time, be safe and stay well………………