Girlfriend Getaway to Leavenworth WA

I love girlfriend getaways and am always up for one when the question is posed. Being on the road/water full time can make it more of a challenge but hey, I am retired and can do what ever the hell I want. It’s funny but that realization took some time to sink in after we left the 9-5 routine behind. Routine can be a real buzz kill when it comes to spontaneous travel so trust me, I have totally embraced the concept that if I want to do it – I do it!!!

Refuge Ranch is very bucolic.

My long time gardening companion, neighbor in another life, walking buddy and “sushi for wimps” eating friend Jane has been doing girlfriend getaways for her birthday for years. We have done some great ones and this year was no exception. While she didn’t actually invite me (to be fair she thought we were off the grid on the boat), I decided to crash her getaway with her sister Sharon in Leavenworth.

We traded some funny text messages about the VRBO rental…

Her: Just sent an email. Originally 4 adults going so there are more rooms or the owner has a warped sense of humor. Two of Sharon ‘s friends cancelled. I am sure 3 of us will fit. BTW… in case I am wrong you get the upper bunk. 😜

Me: Are you sure you have room? Looks like you only have one bedroom and a set of bunk beds?
Her: Scroll down. It says it sleeps 6.
Me: Not sure where the other two would sleep!!! From the website: “Inside the spacious 1500 sqft garden apartment, there is plenty of room for a family of four. The master bedroom offers a queen bed, and the second “bedroom”/cozy-nook, just off the kitchen, has bunk beds perfect for children.”
Her: If you are nervous, come on Saturday morning after we have scoped it out. I swear the woman knows that the original group was 4 adult females. The funny thing is that this was Sharon’s idea. I thought for just 2 nights we should do a hotel and she scoffed at me. The bottom of the site does say sleeps 6 so maybe there is a futon or something.
Me: Good thing they all cancelled!!! Maybe she thought you are all okay with sleeping together!!! Hey there are bunk beds so I am game if you are!!! LOL… thinking you and Sharon will be duking it out for the big queen bed.
Her: I am game. It will be like being on the Countess again (a yacht we chartered for a previous BD girls trip). I still think there must be another option but am game either way. If this place is a bust I get to rub Sharon ‘s nose in it so I still win. 😇
Me: Let the rubbing begin!!! Going to bring 5 Crowns – a card game I can actually play!!!
Her: Well we are bringing wine so it should all work out okay. I will try to remember the box of earplugs just in case you are correct about the number of sleeping spots. 😜
Me: Ear plugs are a girls best friend! And wine!!!

After the trip…

Her: Just looking at my bed makes me very happy. I might need to kiss my mattress.
Me: Happy times!!! (a gif of a goat jumping on the bed) https://youtu.be/AWns85BSSO4
Just another funny escapade to add to our long list!!!
Her: That goat would have a head injury where I was sleeping.

Yes…there were goats on the ranch! Bet they would have had no trouble getting up the rickety bunkbed ladder!

Well, yes there was only one bedroom and a set of bunk beds. Seriously, what Air BNB owner wants a 50 plus gal climbing a ladder on a rickety bunkbed to sleep on the top bunk. NOT, I repeat NOT happening. Ya think the owner would have mentioned that… she did know there was originally going to be four women on this stay.

Well, sure it is cute if you are 8 years old!
Now thats a bed!!! Just needed 2 more….

Well snap, my friend had the brilliant idea of pulling the mattress off the top bunk, which we drug into the front room. Five star it was not but I actually slept really well, especially after a trip to the hot tub each night and the 7 mile hike/city walk we did on Saturday. Uh, yeah, there was some wine involved as well.

So about Leavenworth…it is a Bavarian-styled village (aka tourist trap) in the Cascade Mountains, in central Washington State. Alpine- style buildings with restaurants serving German beer and food line Front Street.

There are some nice art gallery’s in town. Great wildlife photography at the Jones Gallery.

The Nutcracker Museum displays thousands of nutcrackers, some dating back centuries (nope, didn’t go). On the Wenatchee River, Waterfront Park is a habitat for ospreys and eagles. The village is a gateway to nearby ski areas and wineries. Gorgeous area, the village is situated in a really narrow valley so you are surrounded by mountain peaks.

Honestly, I am not a fan of German food…bland and boring to me for the most part but Leavenworth has something for everyone. We found a great cider tap room and had a delicious lunch at the Tumwater Bakery. We had a recommendation to try Yodelin for dinner, which is a stylish, rustic joint with mountain views offering bone broth soups, salads, burgers & craft beer but they had the nerve to be closed for a private party on Saturday night. Stay away from Gustavs…just not good food.

The Tumwater Bakery…so yummy!!!

The village itself is very cute but can get very crowded…especially on the weekends. I was surprised how many people were there but it was a gorgeous fall day and Leavenworth is a easy day trip from Seattle. A word of advice, visit during the week if you can and try for a cool fall day – the fall colors are awesome.

The area around Leavenworth is a hikers dream… so many great trails and so many scenic vistas. With only one day to explore, we opted to do the Icicle Gorge trail which was a pretty 12 mile drive from our bunkbeds. The 4 mile trail itself is rated as easy and only has a 120 ft elevation gain. Even after a “few” glasses of wine the night before this trail won’t hurt you a bit!

What’s great about it: you’ll be walking along the banks of one of the state’s prettiest creeks, with numerous places to stop, picnic and marvel at the alpine beauty.

We got a fairly early start which meant we didn’t see many hikers until the last part of the hike. We went counterclockwise but most people hike the trail clockwise, walking downstream first, then cross a footbridge in about 0.5 mile and head up the far bank. Either way you go it’s a fabulous hike…lots of photo ops.

A trip to Leavenworth wouldn’t be complete without visiting a few winery’s. There are several tasting rooms in town but we opted to get out of the crowds and headed to Eagle Creek Winery. Just a few miles out of town but an oasis of quiet with beautiful views off the decks where the tastings are set up. We had a great time sipping wine while the winery cat snagged a cute little chipmunk as the birthday girl looked on. Glad my back was to that action.

Not sure what the heck was going on but later that day as we sat sipping wine at the ranch another wildlife drama occurred. We were watch a hawk cause a stir amongst the small birds in a nearby tree. Guess he wasn’t satisfied with the prospect of such a small meal so he swooped out of the tree and picked off a poor robin in the field who had foolishly turned its back to the action. There might have been some shrieking from both of us that time.

Eagle Creek Winery

Time with friends, hot tubbing, hiking, beautiful mountain scenery, winery’s, great restaurants and not seeing the food chain in action make for a great girlfriends getaway. Only upgrade would be a real bed next time!

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Let the Good Times Roll…

Our three week cruise in the Canadian Gulf Islands couldn’t have been better from a weather perspective. Lots of sunshine and very little rain make for a happy crew. We buddy boated with friends during most of the cruise and that was a blast too.

Our plans to head to Desolation Sound in BC were derailed when we finally got word that our new (to us) 2013 Entegra Aspire 42 DEQ coach was finally going to close. This deal had been 2 months in the waiting due to some issues on the sellers end and had been a source of frustration to us since June. That said, waiting wasn’t the big issue, it was the lack of communication from the dealer who had the coach on consignment. We held off leaving on the boat but finally decided that Fed-ex could get us documents somehow and maybe if we just took off it would finally happen.

Well damned if it didn’t!!! We finally got word the deal was ready to move forward just a day or two before we were going to make the crossing into the hinterlands of Desolation Sound. After some debate about how and where we could get the documents delivered (NO DOCUSIGN = LAME) we decided that returning to the US, signing the closing docs and taking possession of the coach was going to make us feel more settled. Plus, we were REALLY excited to get behind the wheel of our new rolling home, get her to Anacortes and start moving in.

We enjoyed visiting some anchorages that we hadn’t been to in years, some old favorites and some new places on the way back to the US. Pirates Cove is now on the list of favorites after a long hiatus.

I love the treasure chest…I think my glasses were a great addition!

A new favorite just over the Canadian border…Beaumont Marine Park. Great hiking, crabbing and fishing plus a mooring buoy field and amazing sunsets!!!

A deserted beach just waiting to be explored.
Exploring in the whaler…so much fun!!!

Another favorite we enjoyed was Sidney …great walking, shopping and restaurants. We had a great dinner at Sabhai Thai and a delicious lunch at Fish on Fifth. A day trip to Sidney Spit was very much enjoyed by Bentley who loves to frolick and play on the beach!!!

We ended the three week cruise with another night on a mooring buoy in Fossil Bay at Sucia Island. Crabbing was very good there so we came back to Anacortes with a full bucket of delicious crustaceans. I think they enjoyed the cruise back too!

Back on land, we quickly got possession of the coach which was in Poulsbo WA, got it settled into the storage lot in Anacortes and started moving all our stuff back in. We had boxed up and stored everything in the old coach so we could take it to consignment (not at the same dealer for sure). Holy Crapola, it sure is harder to move back in than it was to move out. I kept wondering out loud how we got all that stuff on the Cheetah. The new coach is five feet longer which in theory means there should be more storage …right? Not sure about that yet as it is all different storage inside and its like a puzzle figuring out where everything should go.

Yike…what a disaster!!!
So none of this was ours…it was all in the storage bays! 2 trips to the dumpsters, three trips to goodwill and a few things sold to make room for our stuff!

So you might be wondering why we “suddenly” decided to get a new coach…what was wrong with the other one and why this coach in particular. So honestly, there isn’t one thing that is wrong with the Cheetah…she has been a great starter coach for us. Our 2 month 101 road trip, in which we had a ball exploring the California, Oregon and Washington coast, re-enforced to us that we really love this lifestyle and hope to keep on exploring the US via coach and boat for many more years to come.
So that said, we just decided an upgrade to our home was in order.

So…TADA…behold the new Road House!!! Isn’t she pretty…

After spending three winters in the Cheetah Safari, we knew exactly the upgrades we wanted so that helped us narrow our choice to three models of coaches. The layouts were all similar but after driving the Entegra we were hooked. Entegra builds all of its coaches on a Spartan Chassis which is a totally different design than the Cheetah. Founded in 1975, Spartan has been a leading innovator in the industry. They engineer and build their chassis to feel like a luxury vehicle. Their innovations include the independent front suspension and the rear tag axle. These two features alone contribute so much to the ride and handling of the coach. Without them, you would experience harsher bumps, louder vibrations and significant drifting on the road. The rear tag axle was a huge selling point on a coach this size. What is a tag axle you might be wondering? A tag axle is a third axle located behind the rear drive axle of a motor home. It is a non-drive axle with one or two tires on each side. The main purpose of a tag axle is to increase the support of the chassis at the rear of the vehicle, allowing for greater carrying capacity and shock resistance. Since there is less overhang behind the rear axle, it makes for a more stable ride and an easier drive. Additionally, the tag helps stabilize the coach in strong cross winds plus when a huge tractor trailer rig passes us we do not even feel the effects of it.

We love the interior design of the Entegra which is significantly more spacious than the Cheetah as it has four slide outs and taller ceilings. The main living space has a L shaped couch we can both lay on, a gas fireplace and a stressless reclining chair which I have a feeling we will both be battling for.

In the kitchen, upgrades include a full size residential refrigerator and more counter space thanks to the pull out cabinet that makes the counter L shaped. There are so many accent lights inside the coach and I am still finding new ones.

Time to start personalizing our new home …adding some splashes of color!

In the back of the coach is the bathroom with two sinks and a bedroom with a king bed – YAY. No step up to the bed, which I grew to dislike very much. Since the bed sits lower, there is less storage underneath it – which is a bummer for sure. This coach also has a compact stacked washer and dryer as opposed to our all in one Splendide unit that we installed on the Cheetah. I liked the all in one just fine and the extra storage in the Cheetah where the dryer is now on the Aspire will be sorely missed.

Other upgrades – hydronic heated floors, a heat pump with three rooftop units for cooling and heating, side radiator, on demand hot water heater, loads of electronic upgrades, outdoor TV, heated storage bays underneath the coach with heavy duty pull out trays… the list goes on and on.

Like the Cheetah, we opted to purchase another gently used coach with very low miles. The prior owners bought it new, had all the bells and whistles added and sadly, due to health issues didn’t really get to enjoy it much. The interior still had original tags on some of the furniture, stickers on the fireplace and shades. In the kitchen, it was obvious that the convection microwave oven had never been used nor had the propane cooktop. Buying a good used coach means someone else takes the big hit on the depreciation and hopefully has worked out all the new coach glitches.

That said, we fully expect to have a few things to repair and know that we will need to replace the tires within a year. Low miles on RV tires doesn’t mean anything. With RV’s, it’s the age of the tires as large RV tires age out due to UV. The average life of a RV tire is five to seven years. If you drive a car every day, you’ll probably wear out the tread in less than five. RVs spend most of their time sitting still. So your tires will probably need to be replaced before the tread wears out. Maybe it’s cracks from the sun or maybe it’s sitting too long with too little air in them. When your RV tires hit five year in age, it’s time to think about replacing them. It’s even more important with the kind of weight and load that an RV puts on them. The Entegra is a big girl, weighing in at a whopping 46,600 lbs so she needs the best tires you can get to keep her safely rolling down the road. We anticipated spending a bloody fortune on new tires so that was factored in when we negotiated the price of the coach.

Despite the hassles with the dealership, we are thrilled with our new home and can’t wait to get on the road again. The sun is calling to us and like birds we will be starting our annual southern migration in early October. Most likely we will make a stopover in Portland Oregon to see friends and if the weather holds, we may hop over to Eastern Oregon and then drive down the Sierra Nevada/California route to Palm Springs. As a tribute to recently passed Ric Ocasek, we will be rocking out to the Cars …“Let the Good Times Roll” as we glide down the highways and byways in the new Road House.

A Lone Humpback and the Beginning of Fall

Our summer boating weather seems to be taking a turn towards fall. We headed out of Anacortes last Tuesday with bright blue skies, calm winds and water as flat as a lake.

Our destination was Garrison Bay on the NW side of San Juan Island. Wally wanted to do a bit of salmon fishing and crabbing is always reliable there.

In route we were treated to a lone humpback whale sighting in San Juan Channel. We might not have ever seen it if it weren’t for all the whale watch boats loitering around. There are legal guidelines for vessels that are in proximity to whales so we checked in with the captain of the Prince Of Whales tour boat. He clued us into the location of the humpback whale, which was right off his bow. Of course, we slowed down and loitered a bit to see the giant dude as well. I think it was feeding as it came us to the surface for brief periods and stayed in the same area for quite a while.

Sorry, no pictures… it was too far away but we did get to see a tail dive once. We have never seen a humpback in this area of the San Juan’s so that was quite a treat.

Photo courtesy of the Prince of Whales website.

Cruising in the fall can be really nice as the boat traffic is minimal, anchorages are not crowded and marinas always have space. Weather is often still warm but fronts can definitely move through bringing rain and sometime wind.

Couldn’t ask for a prettier San Juan day for cruising.

No fish were caught but there certainly were some crabbies that came to visit. It was a relaxing 5 days, nice walks with Bentley on the Bell Point trail, a trip to Riche Harbor in the whaler for lunch and lots of cards with our friends who joined us on day two.

Anchored in front of English Camp in Garrison Bay.

Just like a curtain dropped, it felt like fall did as well. A weather front was moving in which brought rain…lots of rain and eventually some wind was in the forecast. A small craft advisory was going into affect so we decided to head back a day early to get in front of that. What is a SCA and why do we care so much??? Well, A Small Craft Advisory is issued by the National Weather Service as a warning when winds have reached dangerous speeds. Sustained wind speeds that govern the issuance of a Small Craft Advisory vary depending on geographical areas, but are generally between 20 and 33 knots.

The San Juan Ferry was taking the scenic and sheltered route to Victoria along Spieden Island.

The inland waters of the San Juan Islands are generally somewhat sheltered from the worst of the high winds but to get back to Anacortes or any mainland area, one must cross over open straits which funnel winds from the ocean into the adjacent channels. Combine that with tides and currents and a potential ass whoopin can be yours if you don’t pay attention to the weather. Ass whoopin’s are something we actively try to avoid. So now that we are retired and have more time and good sense, if Wally the “weatherman” says we gotta go, we go.

What a difference …so gray and overcast.

Although we have over a month before head south in the new Road House (next post I promise), we were anxious to get back to Anacortes to finish moving in and perhaps do a short shake down cruise somewhere nearby.

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.

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.