Pretty Little Princess Cove

We spent the last three nights anchored and stern tied to shore in pretty little Princess Cove on Wallace Island. The cruise over from Montague Harbor was a short but scenic 8 nautical miles. We were fortunate to find a nice anchorage in this picturesque little cove. Because it is a tight cove, rings and chain are drilled into the rock cliffs for boaters to tie to with a stern tie rope. This can be a tricky maneuver if the wind is blowing or the anchorage is getting full. Stern tying stops the boat from swinging 360 degrees after you anchor and provides more space within the cove for more people to enjoy the park.

Once we get the boat anchored, Wally takes our tender, the Boston Whaler, to shore with the line while I attempt to control the boat and try to keep the stern (which is the back of the boat) lined up with the shore. Once he gets our stern line through the ring or around a tree if there are no rings, he has to bring the other end of the line back to the stern of the boat. Then we pull the line tight which brings the stern of the boat back, close to shore. Then the line is cleated off to the boat and we relax!!

In this scenario, it was extra tricky as we ended up moving further down into the cove as high winds were being predicted and we were rafting with friends. We both ended up setting our anchors, drifting over, tying the boats together with both boats stern tied. Our boat was taking the majority of the wind but with two anchors down and two stern tie lines back to shore, we were snugly set for the next few nights. Damn wind never got too bad but there were some big gusts.

Securely anchored and stern tied.

Wallace Island Marine Provincial Park, located in beautiful Trincomali Channel between the northern ends of Saltspring Island and Galiano Island, is a popular destination for boaters and kayakers exploring the southern Gulf Islands. We like the intimate protected cove that gives us access to numerous beaches and offshore islets that provide plenty of sheltered paddling opportunities in this picturesque park. Bald eagles, black-tailed deer and mink are common in the park, as well as harbour seals, sea lions and river otters, which can often be spotted offshore.

This park has limited development which is just what we like, but offers opportunities for swimming, fishing, kayaking, wildlife viewing and hiking. Walking trails will take you throughout most of the park, providing views of the folded rock formations that compose the island. Facilities are limited to an information shelter, pit toilets, picnic tables and 18 walk-in campsites at the designated camping areas of Conover Point, Chivers Point and Cabin Bay if you can get there by boat. A small dock is available at Conover Cove, as well as an octagonal dingy dock at Princess Cove. Sheltered anchorage and stern tie rings are available in Conover Cove and Princess Cove.

Conover Cove on the south end of Wallace Island

This island, originally charted as “Narrow Island”, was named after Capt. Wallace Houstoun, who first surveyed the area in the 1850s. Twisted fruit trees mark the remnants of the garden and orchard planted by Jeremiah Chivers, a Scotsman who retired here after unsuccessful adventures in the interior gold rushes. Chivers lived alone on the island, never marrying, and died here in 1927 at the age of 92. I find the history of these islands and people who lived on them fascinating.

After the Second World War, David Conover purchased the island and moved here with his wife Jeanne. The couple developed a very successful holiday resort on Wallace Island, and Conover became a successful author, writing four books – “Once Upon An Island”, “One Man’s Island”, “Sitting On A Saltspring” and “Finding Marilyn, A Resource”. In the first two books he described the couple’s struggles and joys after their purchase of the land in 1946. Their resort, the Royal Cedar Cottages, was advertised as having “a modern well-stocked store, cabins, recreation hall and boat rentals.” In the mid to late 1960s, Conover sold the majority of the island to a group of teachers from Seattle. Disagreements among the owners led to court proceedings and the property was again put up for sale. Wallace Island was purchased through the court ordered sale and became a provincial marine park in 1990 through the cooperative efforts of the provincial government and BC Marine Parks Forever. So glad the island fell into the Marine Parks system.

Our three days in pretty little Princess Cove were very relaxing despite the big wind predictions. We hiked, kayaked, played cards, read books, drank some wine (of course) and shared some delicious meals with our friends. Wally and I also went on a whaler exploration to nearby Thetis Island to check out Telegraph Harbor and have lunch at the pub.

The pub at Telegraph Harbor.. darn good fish and chips!

Next stop Lady Smith….

Advertisements

Hanging On The Hook At Montague Harbor

From Sucia Island in the US it is just under 30 nautical miles to Montague Harbor in the Canadian Gulf Islands. On a calm day, crossing Boundry Pass is easy, just some gentle swells. On a windy day, this crossing can get really whipped up. The biggest obstacle is tankers or massive freighters bound for Bellingham Washington. They churn up huge wakes that can easily swamp a small boat and they don’t slow down for anyone. Get in their way and you will get blasted with 3 short horn pulls. LOUD – yes it is and we have seen this happen when a small craft gets too close. We give them wide berth and luckily didn’t encounter any on our calm, easy crossing.

Montague Harbor in the Canadian Gulf Island is a popular destination year around. There is a mooring buoy field, a provincial park, a small marina with a restaurant and store. On this stay, we met friends from the US and rafted together in the back of the bay.

Montague Harbor is off Galiano Island which is easily accessed by non-boaters by taking the ferry from the mainland Vancouver BC area. This is a great island to explore by car or scooter, which we have done in the past. There are some great hikes and a few decent restaurants inland. We heard there is a newer restaurant with a three star Michelin Chef on staff. Without a rental scooter or car, one can get to the Hummingbird Pub via the Tommy Transit bus that stops at the park near the marina.

A ride with Tommy from the Montague Marina to the Pub starts with Tommy’s big greeting when you board. His long gray hair flows out from under a big hat. Hawaiian shirt, yep thats his uniforms. Soon the music begins. For an old school bus, it has a pretty awesome sound system. As you board the bus, Tommy hands out tambourines, maracas, shakers and even spoons to anyone with a desire to shake their booty. Me, I play a. mean tambourine, especially after a few beers! Above Tommy’s seat is a percussion section mounted to the bus with cymbals, cow bells and drum boxes. Tommy drives with a drum stick in one hand, steering down the windy island road with the other. Pretty soon the whole bus is playing along with Tommy as he comes over the sound system with his insight on island living and the art of gratitude. On our trip to the pub, he started the ride with the song “Drunken Sailor” which of course had us all singly along gleefully.

Taking the bus to the Hummingbird pub is always an adventure.

Tommy announced his intentions for a second retirement. He has written a book about his bus adventures and how gratitude can change the world. Check it on on Amazon…”Tommy Transit’s Bus Tales”. What a cool dude…

Tommy likes to rock out on the drive to the pub and playing and playing an instrument that he gladly provides is always an option!!!

The Provincial Park has some nice beaches, hiking trails, and a great campground. Of course, you need a boat or have to take the ferry to get to Galiano Island from the mainland. If you have never been to the Canadian Gulf Islands, you should put it on your list of places to see.

Rafting with friends is part of the fun of boating. Sharing meals, card games, chocolate or just hanging and reading a book is easier when you can walk across the swimstep of each other’s boats. Forgot something, herbs, olive oil, underwear ?? Usually between all of us someone will have it.

Heading to shore to catch the bus to the Hummingbird Pub.

Beach House Is On The Move

We left Anacortes late afternoon yesterday under clear blue skies and light wind. Our destination was Sucia Island which would set us up nicely to head into Canada the Tuesday.

The photo above is a screen shot of our route.

During the 20 nautical mile cruise we saw porpoise feeding and frolicking. Seeing them feels like a good luck sign to us!

We headed into Echo Bay, dropped the hook and relaxed in the rear cockpit with just an cocktail.

Dinner was a cracked crab with a arugula salad and fresh rosemary bread. Not a bad start to our six week cruise!!!

What a gorgeous near full moon.

A Lot of THIS, THAT and the OTHER THING!!!

Since we arrived back in Anacortes in early June, it has been just a lot of this, that and the other thing combined with a bit of boating. By this time last year we were hundreds of miles north in the Broughton Islands.

Oh Broughtons you were so amazing!!!

We knew this summer would be a bit different as one of us was having a significant birthday in late June and we had planned a river rafting trip with 15 friends on the Rogue River in Oregon. So THIS was planned and we had a amazing trip, more on that soon I promise.

Yep, thats me sitting in the middle, doing absolutely nothing in the class three rapid. Nope, its wasn’t my birthday…hee-hee!!!

The seemly hundred and one things on the boat that mysterious stopped working in our 8 month absence, well THAT was not planned.

There may have been swear words happening.
I honestly wouldn’t even know where to start!

Neither was getting a new coach…what!!! Nope, THAT wasn’t planned either but some how it just happened. More on that later…but if you are in the market for a pristine, well cared for older coach with low miles, we got just the just the coach for you.

Well, THAT led to the OTHER THING which is cleaning out the Road House and getting her ready for sale. Geeez Us, did we have a lot packed on that coach. A 5×10 storage unit lot of stuff to be exact. Why a storage unit you may ask and why not just move it from one coach to the other. THAT is yet another OTHER THING and a whole other post, I promise.

So, in between all this, that and the other things that have been going on, we, okay mostly Wally worked through the mysteries on the boat. We have actually gotten out of the marina three times now for 4-5 days jaunts around the islands with friends. Crabbing has been awesome…who needs a damn KETO Diet when you can eat fresh crab almost everyday. Crab cocktails, crab cakes, crab omelettes, crab enchiladas, crab with ginger ramen noodles, crab, shrimp and corn chowder, crab and avocado toast, crab tostadas, fresh steamed crab right off the cooker, crab cobb salads…I might have missed a few other ways we have had it but nope, not tired of it yet.

Ginger Scallion Ramen Noodles with …wait for it…CRAB!!!!
We often raft with friends when we anchor out. Makes cards, wine and general debauchery much safer!

Yes, we have some interesting guests on the Beach House.
Beautiful Turn Point Light House on Stuart Island.

Everyone on the Beach House has a very high crabatonian level right now!!! Sucia LOVES crab and has been feasting on it daily. She can smell crab in her sleep and magically appears whenever we are cooking, cleaning or eating crabbies. She has even been know to reach out and grab your hand and pull the crab towards her. How’s that for subtle!!! It’s cute and her begging is most often overlooked because I love crab as much as she does, so go girl!!!

Someone crashed after her big crabatonian spike!

Bentley loves crab too and who can resist those big brown eyes when he gives you the look, what about me??? These four legged crab aficionados are also happy to finish off any picked crab that lingers around here more than two days. No crab goes wasted or unappreciated on the Beach House!!!

Bentley loves going to check the crab pots as much as he loves eating crab.

Sorry, I have been such a dud on the blog …a friend and avid follower just chided me for being so lazy and inconsiderate! But really, the THIS, THAT and the OTHER THING have been all consuming.

27 Years But Who’s Counting??? Bandon Oregon…

The 6th leg of our Hwy 101 road trip took us from Klamath California to Bandon Oregon. 132 miles of wild, rugged coastline with big beautiful redwoods and narrow shoulders. We drove through a bit of road work but all in all, it was very big rig friendly and there were not too many places that I had to close my eyes. Thankfully doing this trip from south to north means we are always driving on the inside of the road as opposed to the outside that hugs the guardrails with steep drops into the ocean.

Just glad we got there before they started putting down the asphalt!

Since we have retired and been on the road, our anniversary has been celebrated in some interesting places. Being big foodies, we always seem to find a wonderful, intimate restaurant where we can raise a glass of bubbly and marvel how we continue to put up with each other. Yep, I am such a romantic!!!

This year when planning our Hwy 101 road trip, Bandon Oregon seems like a great place to spend our anniversary. Thanks to Yelp, Google and Trip Advisor I found the perfect restaurant to celebrate our 27th anniversary.

The Alloro Wine Bar was delightful as was the personable owner and all the staff. Knowing it was our anniversary, they started us with a complementary glass of sparkling wine. Our dinner was fabulous and the sunset that followed that evening was a spectacular gift to end the evening with.

Our home for the four day stay in Bandon was at the Bullard Beach State Park. Oregon knows how to do state parks right…plenty of spaces that accommodate big-ass RV’s, full hookups with sewer, nice natural landscaping between the large sites. All this for a mere $31 per night. Bonus points for a light house, horse camp and free-range, wild turkeys that visited us every day. The Oregon State Parks online reservation system is one of the better ones I haves used, very user friendly and intuitive.

Of course, Bentley loved the beach and the biking around the park was fun too. Well, except the day I decided to ride to the light house not knowing the wind was howling. The ride out was great with the wind at my back but coming back about killed me…I could barely make any head way except if I laid over the handle bars and petaled like a crazy woman. FYI, this light house isn’t operational anymore but it is fun to check out.

Speaking of light houses, if you are a fan, I highly recommend a visit to the Cape Blanco State Park in Port Orford. The light house there is fully operational, open for tours and has the original Fresnel lens. We had a great tour by a husband and wife volunteer team. The history of the light house is well documented and fascinating. It was a beautiful clear day and the view from the inside of the light tower was spectacular. Loved the reflections off the lens as it slowing rotated.

Erected in 1870, the lighthouse stands on Oregon’s farthest west point of land and is the oldest one continually operating in Oregon. It holds the record for having the longest serving Light House Keeper too: James Langlois worked here for 42 years. James Hughes, born on a nearby ranch, served at this light station for 37 years as well.

With only four days to explore, when we were not frolicking on the beach with Bentley, we did day trips north and south of Bandon. Loved the driving loop off Hwy 101 that takes you through historic Charleston which is very much a working coastal town. Part of that drive took us through some logged areas where you can see the scars and scabs that logging leaves behind. The only bright side of that is there is so much wood left behind so we gathered carloads for our evening bonfires. Hey, there weren’t any No Trespassing signs!!!

We also really enjoyed exploring Coos Bay and had a fun lunch sitting outside at the 7 Devils Brewery. After lunch we wandered around town and down to the waterfront where two old wooden sailing boats were on display.

Zoom in and check out the great map on the building.
Isn’t Teddy abandonment a felony???

Surrounded by the Pacific shoreline with its beautiful dunes and lovely beaches, Coos Bay is located between the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area on the North and Shore Acres State Park. The area features a variety of outdoor activities including boating, fishing, clamming, wildlife, bird watching, sea lion and whale watching, tours, cycling, and 4-wheel rides in the dunes.

The Oregon Dunes Natural area is starkly beautiful.

The light house in Coos Bay was a big disappointment however. It has an interesting history and is one of the only inland lighthouses on the Oregon Coast. It sits up above town with a chain link fence around it…so no, not as aesthetically appealing at all.

If you love oysters, Winchester Bay is a great place to stop. The triangle formed by the two southern jetties at Winchester Bay is home to Umpqua Triangle Oysters. These little beauties are suspended in the water, never touching the ground.

Umpqua Triangle Oysters are ridiculously delicious and where they are grown is really cool. Literally…fresh clean Oregon rainwater blends with cool crisp saltwater in just the right proportion – 20%/80% – at just the right temperature – 51 degrees F – in their protected growing area. That’s important because when oysters get too warm, they spawn. Spawning oysters develop an unappetizing, slightly grainy texture. Under consistently cool growing conditions, Umpqua Triangle Oysters never spawn; they produce clean, firm, slightly salty-tasting oyster meat year-round. 

Look at all those oyster beds!!!

North of Coos Bay near Reedsport is the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area. ELK…yes more ELK. This girl can’t see enough elk!!! The Bureau of Land Management maintains a series of pastures along Oregon Highway 38 that are a year-round residence for a herd of 60-100 Roosevelt elk. Elk are visible almost every day of the year, WOO-HOO!!!! The main viewing area, with an interpretive kiosk and restrooms, offers visitors the chance to learn about the elk and the site heritage. Several pull-outs along the highway offer excellent photo opportunities. Dean Creek is also a popular bird watching area, serving as a stop along the coastal migration route.

The elk were there when we went to visit and easy to spot with binoculars but not close enough to get any good pictures. How rude…don’t they know that you want to see them too!

Four days flew by…Great weather albeit a bit windy but we loved exploring this part of the southern Oregon Coast and as usual, could have easily spent a week or two here.

Redwoods Adventures…

Klamath California was our fifth stop on the Hwy 101 Road Trip from Palm Spring CA to Anacortes WA. There isn’t much going on in or around Klamath except raw, beautiful nature. The drive from Cloverdale to Klamath was about 250 miles of gorgeous scenery and pretty decent roads for a big ass coach.

Just a wee bit tight in places….but I love those concrete guard rails!

I was really psyched for this stopover having never explored this part of California nor hiked in the Redwoods. We had stocked the frig prior to rolling out of Cloverdale and didn’t plan to eat out much since Crescent City CA is about 23 miles away and is the only place that has restaurants or a sizable store.

There are plenty of RV Park options in this area and for this stopover I choose the Klamath River RV Park. Why you may ask…well, RIVER VIEW, RIVER VIEW, RIVER VIEW!!! Spectacular nature … I truly felt like we had stepped back in time, to a pristine area, unspoiled by nasty humans. The park doesn’t have big amenities like a pool or a hot tub but they do have a very nice little cafe that serves espresso drinks and pizza once the season is fully in swing. They also have big communal fire pits, horseshoe pits, a ping pong table and a great pet friendly walking trail. Want to fish the river…you can do that from there as well or launch a kayak or canoe or float down the river. I will say the river was high and moving very fast when we were there in late April so launching a kayak or canoe would have been an adventure!

There is so much to do in this area, we could have easily stayed for a week or more. Most everyday we packed a lunch, loaded up our backpacks and explored a different area each day.


Nothing like a back roads exploration! No water crossings on this adventure.

Our first day in the area we explored the Coastal Drive which starts just minutes up the road from the RV Park. This gorgeous six mile drive follows a 1890’s stagecoach road, winding through redwood and spruce forests, then hugs the Pacific Ocean with panoramic views of Golds Bluff Beach and Seal Split Rock.

Following the ocean road portion we came to a view point where we met a very interesting Native American man. Henry was sitting on a camp chair on the bluff, whale and bird watching, enjoying the views, the sun and being out in nature. He helped us spot the whales surfing just on the edge of the waves and explained about the fishermen we could see on the beach who were saltwater eel fishing. Not only were the humans fishing but so were the eagles and ospreys. It was amazing to see an eagle swoop down into the surf, snatch an eel and fly off. I wish I had captured a photo Henry and of what we saw on that bluff but sometimes you just have to be one with the moment and put your camera down.

Henry also shared some of his life with us we stood watching with wonder all that was going on around us. As a young man he moved out of the area, logged for years, married, raised a family, divorced and ended up back on his tribal lands. In poor health, he had better access to healthcare by living here in Klamath and enjoyed being back out in nature. Reluctantly, we left Henry on the bluff enjoying his day and continued on our drive. I truly enjoyed hearing his stories and was glad we happened upon him.

Further down the road we found this small piece of history hidden away in the forest. The Klamath River Radar Site B-71, is a rare survivor of a World War II early-warning radar station. Rather than using camouflage materials, the buildings of Radar Station B-71 were constructed to resemble farm buildings to disguise their true purpose. Isn’t that clever? The station consists of three buildings: a power building disguised as a farmhouse, an operations building disguised as a barn and a functional wood frame two-stall privy or outhouse, now a partially collapsed ruin. The two major buildings were constructed for the Army by a private contractor specifically for the early warning aircraft station, and consist of block walls roughly two feet thick covered with wood-framed gable roofs with wood shingle finish.

Its great to find these relics of our history and somewhat preserved as well.

There are a number of state redwoods parks as well as the national redwood park along the 60 mile stretch between Lagoon CA and Crescent City CA. We hiked in both Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Parks. The trail system in Prairie Creek is far better and more extensive so we found ourself returning there for further exploration and ELK watching.

Did I mention that we saw loads of ELK in this area…ELK!!! Yes, Elk! Okay, I am a bit crazy about elk. So stately and handsome they are. We saw some fairly close up but not as close as the deer that launched itself across the highway in front of the coach on our drive up. Luckily for us and the deer, he was fast, nimble and didn’t freak out and try to reverse course. Yes, our hearts were pounding too! I had a greater respect for the frequent elk crossing signs we saw along the way after that.

ELK!!! Blurry ELK…sorry!! We saw so many herds of elk in this area. I love just watching them and made poor Wally drive all over the place in hopes of seeing more.

The Newton B. Durey Scenic Parkway runs thru the center of the park and is well worth the detour off 101 if you have time for it. But really, you need to stop and smell the roses here..or the elk poop if you are lucky! In addition to camping, the park offers three scenic drives, 75 miles of hiking trails, and a 19-mile bike loop. A must do is some hiking and creek fording in Fern Canyon, which was used as a backdrop for the movie Jurassic Park. We had quite an adventure there, hiking the creek, trying not to fall in, using logs as a balance beam to get to the next dry spot.

We found loads of trilliums on one of our hikes in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

We took an afternoon to explore Crescent City and had a great lunch at Seaquake Brewing. After our bellies were full of pizza and craft beer we walked it off a bit with a visit to Battery Point Light House. The first oil lamp was lit on December 10, 1856 and the Lighthouse still serves as a private aid to navigation. Loved seeing a real operational lighthouse! Open for tours, you can climb to the lighthouse tower where a Fifth Order Drumm lens, still operational and maintained by keepers, is in use. The tour of the residence includes looks into each of the residence rooms where original furniture often crafted by keepers many years ago is still in use. Most of the artifacts on display are from Battery Point Lighthouse’s over 150-year history.

Bentley getting his ball and beach fix at the same time. Look at that smile..that’s a happy dude!
Sucia loves getting a sun fix on the dash of the coach. Doesn’t she know the river view is really pretty???

Wow, those are big damn trees!

The drive through and around Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park winds around the Smith River which has some beautiful glacier pools. We also found a fun short hike though a huge redwood grove. There were so many downed trees that were just mammoth.

The Smith River

Where’s Waldo???

Four nights were truly not enough time to fully explore this magnificent area. We didn’t have time to get into the Redwood National Park nor did we have time to backtrack and explore the Eureka area. So note to self, a week here minimum and if you love to hike or bike, maybe two weeks is in order!

Nice beach front property!
These buggers are hard to get a good photo of!!

Cloverdale – “Don’t Despair You’re Almost There”…

We almost skipped the wine country in the Sonoma area because we have been there so many times. I know… sacrilegious right??? I came to my senses after further reflection and a glass of wine of course. Hwy 101 would take us right through the Russian River, Anderson Valley and Dry Creek area so we finally decided that a four day stop over would be just perfect. I also hemmed and hawed because the RV Parks in this area are not great nor plentiful. After a lot of research, I reluctantly booked a site at the Cloverdale KOA. The reviews were okay but the road getting there was going to be interesting in our big ass coach. Four miles of narrow but well paved roads that were windy and steep according to what I had read. After the 16% grade at Laguna Seca, I figured it would be a piece of cake. Easy for me to say since I wasn’t going to be driving!!

The one piece of Hwy 101 that we both agreed to divert around was in SFO…as much as I loved the idea of cruising over the Golden Gate Bridge in the Road House, Wally was adamant that he didn’t want to drive through all the traffic in SFO. We took the Richmond route around the bay which is really scenic as well. The traffic was still heavy but it wasn’t bad at all.

Heading into Richmond…

Definitely not as exciting as the Golden Gate Bridge but very pretty.

Soon we were toodling along through the vineyards and reminiscing about the areas we had visited before as we passed through Santa Rosa, Windsor, Healdsburg and on up the valley. The temperatures were also climbing, down right hot compared to the coastal area we had just left behind.

The four mile adventure up the windy, steep but well paved road was a bit of a white knuckler, especially for me as I was sitting on the side of the road that dropped off, had no shoulder and no guard rail. Little did I know that there was more of this to come on our Hwy 101 road trip. Wally is a great driver so of course we arrived no worse for wear.

Yes, this sign was actually on the last sharp turn on the steep windy road to the KOA. Sorry its blurry, but that’s how I felt too!!!

The Cloverdale KOA was a welcome oasis …beautiful grounds albeit “rustic” but not as rustic as the Laguna Seca Campground. A large rolling property on the hillside with a pond, cabins, pool and great walking trail for Bentley. We really enjoyed the birds, wildlife and roaring camp fires at night. It was remarkably warm during our stay in this area which seemed odd for this time of year in Northern California but hey, we weren’t complaining.

Now these are some seriously “rustic” pinball machines. The game room at the Cloverdale KOA was filled with these relics. The weird one below is a very, very old PAC-MAN game which didn’t work very well. DANG!!!
Totally worth the crazy drive up the hill…such a beautiful setting.

There are no shortage of things to do in this area and our next three days were filled with winery visits, exploring Healdsburg (which we have always loved) and a day drive to the Anderson Valley area.

Great outdoor living space at this hotel in Healdsburg.

Healdsburg is a dynamic small town in the middle of the Sonoma Valley wine area. Very picturesque with an old town square, great restaurants and shops. It has a fun vibe and we really enjoyed sitting outside for lunch at Willi’s and visiting the Rock Pile Winery tasting room.

All this in one alley off the main street …what more do ya need!

We also visited a long time favorite – Ridge Winery. This winery has some serious viniculture history and produces amazing wines. Their Monte Bello Cabernet was among California’s finest wines of the early winemaking era in the 60’s. We particularly love their Zinfandels and in the day, when we had a 500 bottle wine cellar, there were verticals of Ridge wines in there. Their first zinfandel was made in 1964, from a small nineteenth-century vineyard nearby and in 1966, the first Geyserville zinfandel was produced.

Look at those old vines…

The Dry Creek General Store is another one of our fav’s…established in 1881 this place is a destination lunch stop in the area. The deli has incredible sandwiches and picnic supplies, many folks pre-order box lunches to take to wine tasting but it is also a charming place to have lunch.

The Dry Creek General Store not only has great food…it has some cool history and fun shopping!

So many beautiful places in this area….YES, I am glad we stopped over here!!!
Picnicking in the Anderson Valley at Navarro Winery.

One of our all time favorite finds on this stopover was Penny Royal Farm. Sheep graze in the vineyards and this small Agri-Farm not only makes some excellent wines they specialize in goat/sheep cheese. The cheese and wine pair was amazing…a must do if you come to this area.

Yes …we bought cheese and wine.
The fennel dusted goat cheese and pinot noir pairing was da bomb!!
Another great wine stop near Healdsburg.

Tired of wine tasting..how about a game of bocce ball!!!
Or just enjoy a picnic and the serene setting.

There is truly no shortage of things to do in the Sonoma area and our four night stopover was filled with fun and sun. If you are thinking about a trip to this beautiful valley check out the Sonoma Valley website and IMHO stay the hell out of Napa…well, unless you enjoy pretentious and expensive, then I would say go for it!!!

Raceways and Cliff Sides

I am way behind on updates from our 101 trip…sorry but we are having so much fun that its been hard to find the time to write. Don’t hate me because I’m honest, okay???

Monterey was on the 101 agenda as a great base camp to check out the area. We had been there many moons ago but never really explored north of the city of Monterey. When I was looking for a place to base camp in the area, the Laguna Seca Raceway campground came up. It is in the perfect location close to Monterey, high up in the hills with killer views over looking the valley and had partial hookups (water and electric but no sewer hookup). Sounded good plus there were no big events going on so it would be relatively quiet.

I was intrigued by the raceway as Wally had told me loads of stories about his batchelor days and going to Laguna Seca with the guys for the races and camping. After some further research, I knew we had to go up a very steep hill to get to the campground and got the feeling it would be rustic. No deal breakers so I booked us for four nights.

What goes up …must come down!!!

Boy howdy was the road steep, we crawled up the 16% grade like a snail. Yes, the campground is very rustic, not much care or upgrades happening here. Our original campsite was a mess, also on a steep hill and the front of the driveway was so rutted that I knew we would bottom out the coach trying to back in. Luckily, the very nice camp host found us a different site further up the hill. It didn’t have much usable outdoor space but the views were killer…did I mention that the water isn’t potable??? High arsenic levels…thankfully I knew that ahead of time so we went into the site with a full tank of water. After the very busy, kid filled “RV Resort” in Buellton, rustic was just fine as was the peace and quiet!!!

WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca is an 11-turn, 2.238-mile jewel of a road course on California’s beautiful central coast. While the track is a favorite of racers and fans worldwide, many focus on one specific section—officially Turns 8 and 8A—or more commonly known as The Corkscrew.

The raceway and grounds, we were camping to the far right up on the hill. There was literally no one there like in the photo. (Photo courtesy of WeatherTech)

I had to see this famous one-of-a-kind turn so after getting set up in our “rustic” site, we hiked around the raceway after watching some practice driving being done. Here’s what makes the hard-left, hard-right combination so spectacular according to the raceway website:
“At the apex to Turn 8 (the lefthander and entry to The Corkscrew), the elevation change is a 12 percent drop. By the time a race car reaches the apex of Turn 8A (the righthander), the elevation is at its steepest – an 18 percent drop. The Corkscrew drops 59 feet between the entrance of Turn 8 to the exit of Turn 8A—the equivalent of a 5½ story drop—in only 450 feet of track length. From Turn 8 to Turn 9, the elevation falls 109 feet, or just over 10 stories.”

Holy crap, after reading this and seeing it with my own eyes I was really wishing there were some races going on. We inquired about any opportunities to tour or get on the track but unless you are paying big bucks for a driving class or are part of a racing club but we got a black flag which means no go!

We spent the next four days exploring up and down Hwy 1 in the car. Killer hikes, great view points, amazing restaurants, quirky coffee shops and loads of fresh produce that was being grown in the Salinas area made this a wonderful area to explore. Other than some windy days, the weather was spectacular and the Monterey area did not disappoint.

What a great walk, the flora, fauna and birds along the way were all so photogenic.

We fell in love with the small city of Pacific Grove, it hit all the markers for us on the potential places to live except affordability. The average house price is $1.1M…eeekkkk! Check out this cute place…only $849K but it has been remodeled!

This area has such charm and a great waterfront park with a 6.2 mile oceanside walking path. We had a great dinner at Passion Fish and loved the walking trail.

Walking with a buddy is always fun!

Our two favorite hikes were both along the ocean cliffs with not only great views but some fun sealife too. The 7,000 acre Wilder Ranch State Park has several hiking options along with some neat old California ranching history. We did the Old Cove Landing Trail. This easy 3 mile hike follows the ocean to the scenic overlook above Wilder Beach which is a snowy plover preserve. Just beyond, you’ll find Old Cove Landing, where schooners anchored in the 1800s. Continue along the coast on the Ohlone Bluff Trail to post 8, where there’s a spur trail leading to Fern Grotto Beach. A quarter mile beyond the spur trail is Sand Plant Beach. From there, head downhill over the railroad track and back to the parking lot. So much to see along the way.

Thats a pile of seals down there!!!

For more cliffside ocean views and hiking, a drive along HWY 1 to Big Sur is just the ticket. Wild and scenic, Hwy 1 is not big coach friendly but traveling in a car is just fine.

Love the coastal fog in the background of this photo.
So many great hiking and photography options along Hwy 1.

Pfeiffer Beach in the Big Sur area is definitely off the beaten path, but well worth the drive. Just south of Big Sur Station on Highway 1 is unsigned Sycamore Canyon Road which winds its way down to the shore. The two-mile long road is paved, but it is twisty and narrow so RV’s and trailers are not allowed (look for the yellow “Narrow Road” sign at the turn-off). Oh, and there many be a few water crossings!

From the parking area you have a short walk down to the beach. At this location Sycamore Canyon Creek empties into the Pacific and a rocky point protects some of the sand at the cove. Waves crash hard all around and the beach north of here invites exploration at lower tides. Tide pools can be found here at low tide too. The focal point of the beach is Keyhole Rock which has an amazing natural arch at the base where salt water, and even the last rays of daylight, can pass through. This beach is beautiful at sunset and frequently professionally photographed. It was incredibly windy the day we were there and the waves were huge making the beach a bit scary and awesome at the same time.

The noise in the video is the wind…no picnic on the beach that day. The waves coming on both sides of these rocks were huge…no good pics unfortunately.

Loved this part of California and our 5 days there went way to quickly. Next stop…Cloverdale CA for some more wine tasting!!!

The Back Roads of Buellton


Buellton is a small town off Hwy 101 in the heart of Santa Ynez Wine Country. Yep, more winery’s to visit…oh darn!!! The Santa Ynez Valley is producing some amazing wines but it is often overshadowed by Napa and Sonoma who seem to get all the hype. While Buellton itself has very little charm (in my humble opinion), the location couldn’t be better for exploring this stunningly scenic area. All you wino’s will remember that this region was made famous after it was featured in the movie Sideways and many people like to visit the different spots that were in the movie.

With only four days to explore the area, visiting the Sideways haunts wasn’t high on the agenda. Honestly, we were feeling a bit wined out but hey, when in Rome… We decided the best way to spend our four days was to intersperse some wine tasting with some back roads driving and a few trips to the beach. We are definitely water people so any excuse to get our feet in the sand is gonna happen. Bentley was in total agreement about the beach too.

Our first stop after we got set up at the the Flying Flags RV Resort was the Figueroa Brewing Company in Buellton. In need of a brew and some chow, this was the perfect place to spend a few lazy hours, listening to some local music and sipping some local beer. We sat with some nice locals who shared their deep fried Mac and Cheese bites with us and we talked about beach fishing. Wish I had gotten the guys name but what a sweetie, he offered to lend us some fishing gear and told us all his favorite spots.

Cold brew and music… a great way to soothe the driving aches away!

We promised Bentley a trip to the beach so we took a drive looking for a dog friendly beach, which in California isn’t always easy. Most state parks don’t allow dogs on the beach – not sure why, seriously, the birds poop everywhere and don’t pick up so what the heck. Thanks to a nice ranger at the Refugio State Beach, we found a place to bushwhack down to a deserted beach. Bentley wore himself out frolicking and running so he barely had the energy to bushwhack back up to the car. A tired dog is a happy dog for sure!!!!!

Yikes that was a steep climb!!!

Feeling rejuvenated and ready to taste more wine, our plan was to visit the tasting rooms the next day in Los Olivos which is just 6 miles north of Buellton. This tiny historic town is home to about 1,400 people and has all the charm that Buellton didn’t get. Dozens of wine tasting rooms, great restaurants, boutiques, art gallery’s, hotels and Airbnb’s make this a great destination. If only they had an RV park, we might never have left!!!

Los Olivos …you are a charmer!

In 1885, Alden March Boyd, of Albany, New York, paid $8,000 for 157 acres, together with the original and only dwelling house in the area. What an investment!!! He planted five thousand olive trees and called it Rancho De Los Olivos.  We saw plenty of olive trees still being farmed but grapevines have definitely become a primary crop in this area. There are however, several places to taste olive oil that is being made locally.

Olive orchards at Rancho Olivos (photo courtesy of Rancho Olivos)

Foxen Canyon Wine Trail starts in Los Olivos and stretches north, winding its way through beautiful wineries and vineyards. Even if you are not that into wine, this beautiful area is a feast for the eyes. Driving the backroads in the Santa Ynez Valley and finding all the hidden gems can be a great way to spend a day, or two, or three….we spent hours just toodling around through the rolling hills.

With such lush grass, that’s one happy cow, yep, its a female. I checked it out!!!

From Los Olivos, a great driving loop on Hwy 154 /256 takes you through some incredibly beautiful country. You can stop along the way in the sleepy little town of Santa Ynez or the super touristy town of Solvang. Just be advised that the mega tour buses roll into this little Danish town and traffic can get backed up…we were there during the week but I can only imagine what its like on a busy weekend. My idea of hell actually…

We have been to Solvang when we were living in SoCal so we didn’t feel the need to relive that with a walk down memory lane. Solvang means “sunny field” in Danish in case you were wondering. This hamlet was founded in 1911 on almost 9,000 acres of the Rancho San Carlos de Jonata Mexican land grant, by a group of Danes who traveled west to establish a Danish community far from the midwestern winters. Boy, did they find a paradise for sure.

We did however find a neat mission just on the edge of Solvang, where we were able to take Bentley for a nice walk while we explored the grounds.

Solvang for sure!!!

We lived in SoCal for 5 years and Santa Barbara was one of our favorite beach towns. Many times, we hopped the Amtrak Train from Glendale and rode through the rolling hills, coffee and newspaper in hand. A walk on the beach, lunch on the pier or at one of many awesome restaurants, then back on the train we would go. Great day trip, so we had to revisit SB for at least one afternoon.

Oh Santa Barbara, we missed you!!!

Santa Barbara is just 43 miles from Buellton so we of course took a longer scenic loop and made a stop to hike at Cachuma Lake. This is a holding reservoir for water in Santa Barbara County and thanks to the record rainfall in Cali this winter it was full, lush and green.

Could this be a prettier area to hike???
Back in Santa Barbara, we found plenty to keep us busy for the afternoon.
Farmer Market…oh yeah. Fresh heirloom tomatoes…oh yeah!!!
I LOVE LEGUMES….so many to choose from…oh yeah!!!
So much fresh produce, we also scored some awesome small artichokes and beautiful strawberries….OH YEAH!!!

Another great drive we took from Buellton was to Jalama Beach County Park. Finally a beach where dogs are allowed to put their paws on the sand…well, at least while on a leash with their humans. If you walked far enough down the beach you could accidentally, not on purpose of course, drop the leash and let Fido run free. Shh….

Getting to Jalama Beach is an adventure in itself …A sign 4.5 miles south of Lompoc off Highway 1 will direct you onto Jalama Road. We followed this scenic, often narrow and windy 14.5 mile road to the coast. The park entrance will be at the end of the road, seriously this is the end of the road. Jalama is subject to high winds and rough surf but boy is it beautiful. There is also a rustic campground, store and grill that serves a mean cheeseburger.

A true gem, this funky little store was a hoot to poke around in while I waited for that awesome cheeseburger.

I hope that cute pooch got a bite of their burgers!

If you don’t mind a funky, rustic vibe and a hell of a drive if you have a big ass RV, this would be a great place to stay for a few nights. Think big ole bonfire on the beach at night with very few people around. The cabins in the picture above sit high up on the bluff with an awesome ocean view. There are also some non-beach RV sites up there.

Back in Buellton, we still had some wine tasting left in us so we decided to finish our four, whirlwind days with a cruise down Foxen Canyon Road. Back Roads Rule!!!

Tiny little grapes starting to set already.

I was fascinated by the wine growing AVA’s and the influence the ocean has on farming in these wild hills and canyons. Pinot Noir loves the cool affect that the ocean can bring in but there are also hot areas like Happy Canyon that support growing the Syrah grape varietal. The microclimates in this area are crazy.

Zoom in to check out the different grape growing areas and their varietals.

This beautiful area of California deserved more than a four day stop and it sure kept us busy. No shortage of things to see and do, no shortage of great restaurants and certainly no shortage of world class wines. Our four days of backroad adventures were definitely a 10!

Delicious oysters at Industrial Eats in Buellton.
Just a few bottles to add to our wine rack!

A “Winey” Week in Paso Robles, CA


Seriously, we have been whining for a week… I can’t possibly drink another glass of wine, I am wined out, I am sooo corked, yes, it’s a tough problem to have!

We spent eight days at the Cava Robles RV Resort which for some people is a destination by itself. The resort is built in the rolling hills just outside Paso Robles and its natural setting offers more than views…which are just beautiful. The resort boasts numerous amenities, including pools, spas, fire pits, a wellness center, walking trails, a bistro, a small store and dog parks. From wine tasting to outdoor movies, there’s something for everyone to do.

Cava Robles was the perfect place to base camp with our friends Donna and Steve who drove down from Portland Oregon in their new Serenity coach to explore the area wineries and the food scene with us.

Not only did we see the Golden Eagles at Cava Robles, we saw loads of other species, like hawks, buzzards, western bluebirds and finches, just to name a few.
We enjoyed the walking trails and did 2-3 miles of walking with Mr B everyday.

We love having friends join us along the way and its always great to spend some quality time together. The four of us are major foodies ( with a big wine drinking problem) so not only did we enjoy some nice meals out but we also crafted some great meals together.

Celebrated Steves birthday…Grilled Herb Crusted Lamb Chops served with Rosemary and Garlic Potatoes and a Artisan Lettuce Salad with Blue Cheese.
Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza hand crafted and cooked in our Uuni Pizza Oven.

I gotta say I tend to fall in love with a lot of places we travel to and start day dreaming about living there some day. Paso Robles was no exception …it meets a lot of our VIC (very important criteria) for potential places to live someday.
Small town – check … 32,000 people.
Friendly – check…everyone we met was happy to share their favorites places or tell us about the area.

Food scene – check …no shortage of great places to eat or drink. Did I mention an amazing ice cream place.

Sitting outside at Jefferys BBQ…so yummy!
We had a great meal at Hatch Rotisserie too.


Happening – check… Art festivals, wine festivals, farmers market, a local coffee roaster and a vibrant downtown area.

The Art in the Park featured some great artists doing iron works to photography.


Weather – mostlycheck …low amounts of rainfall, mild autumns but kinda hot in the summer. It was a bit windy while we were there and the evening temps really drop.

Wine – CHECK… YEAH, baby does Paso have wineries!!!! Brewery’s and Cider Tap Houses too.

And boy howdy did we taste wine…Onx, Halter Ranch, Cass, LXV, Lazzzare, Diablo Paso, Bodega, Monochrome, Adelaida, Hermans Story, Tobin James, just to name a few!
Yeah, we might have bought a little bit of wine…this was just one days worth!!! Don’t get all judgy now!


Natural Beauty – CHECK …thanks to a very rainy winter in CA Paso was especially green and lush.

So green…
The art at Sculpterra Winery was just beautiful. This is the place to bring a picnic and spend the afternoon sipping wine.

On top of all that, Paso is only 32 miles from the beach which Bentley greatly appreciated. The sand dollars were everywhere on the beach, tiny but everywhere. Some great shells and barnacles too. The Paso area also has some great hiking nearby, which we didn’t have time to do thanks to all those damn wineries…whine, whine.

Bentley went crazy on the beach at Morro Bay. He was so excited when he smelled the ocean and couldn’t wait to get down on the beach.
Morro Bay is a great little beach town just off Hwy 101. Stop at Taco Temple for lunch…fresh, a local seafood – ling cod tacos!!!

Our eight days went far to fast and I honestly could have stayed in Paso for a month or two. I feel like we just scratched the surface of all there is to see and do in this area. Definitely have to come back and stay longer next time!!!

Fire pits with real burning wood…YAY!!!


Bye, Bye Paso…we will definitely be back.