I have taken a bit of a winter siesta from blogging. Honestly, I have started several posts but haven’t been inspired to finish them. Not sure why as our winter in Palm Springs has been great, filled with loads of activities like concerts, comedy nights, hiking, pickleball and numerous guests.
We have made loads of travel plans for the spring and summer…Canada, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado. Life is good…
And now the reality check…no one expected the craziness that has ensued on a global level. Here at our winter digs in Palm Springs it is becoming very, very quiet. Most of our Canadian friends left early as they may have time or insurance restrictions. Some of our American friends have also headed for home but many are staying put here in the sunny desert.
The Road House crew is also staying put. We had plans to head to Portland Oregon then on to Ancortes Washington in mid April. Our plan WAS to provision the boat for a month and cruise north to Princess Louisa Inlet.
Again, reality check…the Seattle area is besieged with Coronavirus and in Ancortes most non-essential businesses are shutdown, the downtown area is a ghost town and oh yeah, it’s COLD there. Given everything that is going on, it was an easy decision to stay put and hopefully help flatten the curve.
While Palm Springs proper has shut down except for essential services we feel comfortable here in our RV Resort aka the “compound”. All of our scheduled events and activities were cancelled last week but the golf courses, pickleball center, pools and spas are open so again…life is good!
Until we are asked to shelter in place, we still plan to go hiking, biking, play pickleball and see friends outside in very small groups. We are definitely limiting our exposure outside of the resort but have ventured out for essentials. Trying to utilize online ordering but so far all I have received is 4 bottles of wine…LOL! Costco and Ralph’s are scheduled to deliver tomorrow. It’s going to be a bit like opening birthday presents!
There has definitely been panic shopping going on here too and some households in the Coachella Valley have way to much TP.
Reality check people… what really frustrates me about this is the ripple down effect. My mother is basically a shut in and relies on me to do her online ordering for all of her basic necessities. Guess what, not happening right now. All of the stores I online order from have made basic necessities like TP only available on a walk in basis. Not happening for my mother…way to go people…could you wipe twice…once for her???
Ok, venting over, but seriously…these are interesting times and humans can be incredible selfish. Thankfully, I have seen the other extreme happening, friends and neighbors coming together to help each other. We have several older folks who live here in our resort full time who have limited mobility or are self isolating. This community is helping them with grocery shopping, dropping off books or magazines, etc. Personally, I have had offers from friends all over the US to help my mother, mail their own supplies to her or go check on her. Thank you friends and neighbors, your simple acts of kindness are keeping my faith in humanity from a complete flush down the toilet…sans the TP!!!
So for now, we are healthy and mostly sane. Hoping you all are too.
WOW, the third anniversary of Our38ftlife was December 12th and this is our fourth winter on the road. Change seems to be constant and this last year brought a new coach, a golf cart and now a lot remodel in Palm Springs. Life is good and we are still really loving this new chapter of our lives.
So technically, we aren’t really on the road right now and have settled into our winter digs in Palm Springs. While some may not consider us “full timers”, we don’t live in a house, we travel/live in a 43 foot motor coach and a boat. Our first two winters, we moved around a lot, mostly in the SW and California but found that to be exhausting. We are part of the group of folks who like to sit longer in one place and not move every few days. That is a lifestyle choice for sure and when you undertake this lifestyle you don’t know what you don’t know!
We also didn’t realize that we would miss that sense of community that you have when you are in a S&B house. However, the great thing our current chapter is that we are the authors so we can change the direction of the plot anytime!
We had a better idea after our second year how we liked to “full time”. Summer on the boat with part of that time hanging around Anacortes Washington. Fall traveling in the coach with short hops of less than 250 miles and a few days to a week in each place. Winter in one place in the coach – for now thats the Outdoor Resort Resort Palm Springs. Spring we travel again for a couple of months, again short hops with stays up to a week. This next summer we are going to mix it up and travel to Alaska in the coach.
Yep, 2020 will be an interesting summer as we caravan to Alaska with a RV group. The trip officially starts in Great Fall Montana and will end in Prince George BC. We will cover over 5,700 miles in 63 days seeing the Calgary Stampede to Denali National Park and so much in between. We have never done a RV tour with a group but we have three other couples we know who are going as well so I have a feeling we will have a ball!
That will mean less time on the Beach House as we want to spend time in Wyoming and Colorado in the fall. The New Road House is going to get some miles put on her for sure!
For now, we are 6 weeks into our winter stay in Palm Springs and have been enjoying catching up with friends here at the Outdoor Resort and in Palm Springs. Comedy shows, concerts, checking out new restaurants, a trip to AZ in the coach, pickleball, copious happy hours and a lot remodel. Yep, we haven’t been bored, that’s for sure!
The 38ftlife Crew wishes you much happiness, joy and good health in the New Year.
The Road House rolled out of Ancortes Washington under bright, clear skies headed for Portland Oregon. The water in Padilla Bay sparkled as we rounded the corner on Hwy 20. I will miss the Beach House and all of our friends in Ancortes but it was exciting to finally hit the road in our new coach.
Our winter destination was Palm Springs but we planned to take a month to get there. Sure we could dead head, put the petal to the metal and get there in 4-5 days but why? Highways and byways can be a lot more fun for exploring rather than staying on the major interstates like I5.
Our first and longest stop was Portland. We haven’t done a stop over there since May of 2018 and then we only stayed 5 nights. Pheasant Ridge RV Resort was our home for the two week visit and we found the location in Wilsonville to be better than expected despite the horrific traffic that has entangled the city of Portland. This pretty little 45 acre resort is not only incredibly dog friendly (the doggies have their own laundry room) but has great amenities which include paved full hookup, pull-thru and back-in sites, onsite grocery, L.P. gas, indoor pool and spa, Wi-Fi (wireless Internet access throughout park) and much more.
The fall colors in Portland were spectacular… the city was ablaze with deep golds, reds and brilliant oranges. It was great catching up with longtime friends and our dance ticket was full every day. Late nights and bountiful bottles of wine left me in need of some serious sleep-in time. Not only that but 5 of those nights I spent in Austin with a friend I haven’t seen in 8 years….more on that later!
I spent my birthday with our good friend Deb and my favorite husband! We couldn’t have had a more perfect day together… picnic lunch, hiking the Trail of 11 Falls at Silver Falls State Park, a gorgeous sunset and a fabulous dinner together. Blackened Hangar Steak, Chanterelle Mushroom Barley Risotto made with duck bone broth (thank you Sharon Harmon), Arugula Pomegranate Salad and a amazing Almond Cake for dessert. Thanks Deb for taking a day off work to hang with us and make my birthday so special!
From Portland, we headed to Eugene for two nights to spend time with dear friends and our god daughter Lucie who has just turned 21!!! It was family and alumni weekend at the University of Oregon so the town was abuzz. We were treated to a pre-game party and great seats in a box for the Ducks vs Cougars game – Thanks Brent and Wendy for a fun weekend!
Next stop was Medford for one night where we honestly just did laundry, went for a walk and ran some errands. I will say the Southern Oregon RV Park at the expo is a great stopover. Just three years old, the landscape has really matured since our first visit and the access to the 20 mile bike/running/walking trail between Medford and Ashland is a bonus.
Our plan was originally to go to Bend Oregon, spend a few days then head towards south on Hwy 97 and catch Hwy 395 which follows the Sierra Nevada’s. The stopover in Eugene, kinda put Bend off the itinerary as we had a deadline to be in Palm Springs by the 6th. Crapola, why would we have a deadline – we are retired right? Well, tickets to see comedian Wayne Brady with friends in Palm Springs were on the calendar so there ya go!
Weather was a concern on the Hwy 395 route as it is getting close to snow season but all the fires in Southern California definitely had us wanting to avoid I5 and the LA basin. As luck would have it, Mother Nature has been withholding rain so the route down the Sierra Nevada’s looked just fine. Not sure how lucky this was/is for Southern Cal – rain is much needed for sure.
Our next planned stop was in Shingletown California as it was close to Lassen Volcanic National Park which has been on our list of places to see and hike. I didn’t make any reservations once we left Eugene as I just didn’t know if the weather would hold. Turns out that was probably a good thing. The KOA we had planned to stay in had no electricity due to the massive PG&E shutdowns. High winds were expected again and the worries of lines sparking fires led to power being turned off all across parts of California.
We can survive with out power as we have a generator but knowing how damn cold it was going to be at night, we decided that while we could run the generator to charge up the batteries neither of us wanted to have it running off and on all night to power our furnace. Thankfully, the Premier RV Resort in Redding had open sites and they aren’t part of the PG&E grid so power wasn’t an issue there. Also, we could still make our day trip to Lassen National Park from there.
Redding is a nice town with loads of outdoor activities, good restaurants and plenty of services. Unfortunately, the rampant homeless/opioid issues are holding the city hostage according to some locals we talked to. This seems to be the number one issue we see and hear about in our travels. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any easy solutions.
Lassen Volcanic National Park was spectacular albeit a bit windy but that didn’t detour us from our day trip. It was a picture perfect day for the scenic 30 mile drive through the park. We had planned to renew our annual National Park Pass at the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center but when we arrived it was open but there was no power so no monies could be accepted. The rangers gave us some maps and said “just renew your pass at the next park you visit”. SCORE…so technically admission was free but unfortunately the visitors center audio and media shows weren’t operating and the museum and discovery center at the other end of the park were closed too.
Oh well, despite the wind we really wanted to do some hiking and one trail that caught our attention was Bumpass Hell.
Yep, that really was the trail name and it turned out to be the highlight of the day. Bumpass Hell Basin is the largest hydrothermal area in the park and marks the principal area of upflow of steams and discharge from the Lassen hydrothermal system. The temperature of high-velocity steam jetting from Big Boiler, the largest fumarole in the park, has been measured as high as 322°F, making it one of the hottest fumaroles in the world. A board walk that takes you through boiling, hissing, steaming pots of sulfuric mud…oh, hell yeah we wanted to see that.
Distance wise the the trail was a easy 3 miles round trip but personally I was muttering “kickass hell” under my breath for parts of the hike that had elevation gain … my ocean level body wasn’t used to hiking at over 7,000 feet. The unworldly basin much like parts of Yellowstone National Park was worth the grunt in the wind…glad I had a hat and gloves.
Picnicking on a windy, 40 degree day isn’t for the faint of heart but we found a sunny area out of the wind where we could enjoy our lunch. Bentley had accompanied us on the driving tour but like all National Parks he was relegated to parking lots …well, and this picnic area. Honestly, we maybe saw a dozen people all day so who was going to tattle if he was laying in the sun by our picnic table.
Awesome day trip from Redding and only 144 miles round trip. I would love to go back and hike some more of the back country but really if you only have a day – do the driving tour and the Kickass Hell, Oops I meant the Bumpass Hell hike.
From Redding we headed east on Hwy 44 toward Susanville California where we picked up Hwy 395. There were some steep grades – 9% was the steepest but the new Road House handled them with ease. With six gears in the heavy duty Allision Transmission and the two stage Jake brake, windy hilly highways don’t bother my driver a bit! We were mostly driving on beautiful two lane highway with hardly another car on the road.
Our next stop for three nights was the Carson City area. We ended up at a small, “boutique” RV park near Dayton that had full hooks ups so we could catch up in laundry. Small and cramped must be there definition of boutique but at least it was really quiet at night. Next time we do this route, I will definitely try to get into the Washoe State Park Campground. Situated on the edge of Washoe Lake, with hiking trails and a great wetlands area this campground is a winner.
After being on the road all day, we decided dinner out was in order and we really enjoyed the San Marco’s Grill in Carson City. Great Mexican food, not your typical big plate of bland beans and rice plus the margaritas were da’bomb!
After a good sleep in and lazy morning, Virginia City was our first stop for the day. Like many cities and towns in Nevada, Virginia City was a mining boomtown that developed virtually overnight as a result of miners rushing to the Comstock Lode silver strike of 1859. The riches of the Comstock Lode inspired men to hunt for silver mines throughout Nevada and other parts of the American West.
Once a booming town of 25,000, prospectors from all over the world funneled their millions back into the town by building mansions, hospitals, churches, opera houses and schools. They imported furniture, fashions and entertainment from Europe and the Orient.
With more than 100 mines in the Comstock area, seven million tons of silver ore were produced – equating to more than $600 million in both silver and gold in today’s money. Among many things, this money helped to build San Francisco to what it is today as well as finance the Union in the Civil War.
Today mining for silver is a thing of the past in Virginia City but the town is well preserved and well worth an afternoon of exploration. I will say that we were lucky as it is off season and I suspect that Virginia City could be a zoo in the summer months.
After a very sad lunch at the Red Dog Saloon (highly rated but seriously crappy food), we continued on our loop back toward Carson City. Washoe State Park was on the agenda for a good walk in the wetlands preservation area. We knew it was too late in the season to see many of the migratory birds that fly through but we thought we would recon and check out Washoe State Park anyway.
I was surprised to learn that the number of recorded bird species visiting, breeding, or living in the state of Nevada is a whopping 488. During the spring and fall, hundreds of thousands of those birds following the north-to-south path from Alaska to Patagonia—the Pacific Flyway—can be seen throughout the Silver State. However, Nevada is rarely on a birder’s bucket list. In fact, according to the Great Basin Bird Observatory, a nonprofit science-based organization, Nevada is one of the most under-birded areas in the country.
The Washoe wetlands are also an Audubon-designated Important Bird Area (IBA). This classification is used to “identify, monitor, and protect the most important places for birds” according to Audubon’s website. Dangola, guess we need to come back through here in the spring.
Another reason for the stop in Carson City was the close proximity to Lake Tahoe. No snow, meant all the roads around the lake were open. This gorgeous freshwater lake is the largest alpine lake in North American. Lying at 6,225 ft, it straddles the state line between California and Nevada, west of Carson City. Casino’s dot the Nevada side and there are two major ski areas.
The lake was formed about two million years ago as part of the Lake Tahoe Basin, with the modern extent being shaped during the ice ages. It is known for the clarity of its water, cobalt in color and the panorama of surrounding mountains on all sides. More than 75% of the lake’s watershed is national forest land, so camping and hiking opportunities abound in this area. Since we were visiting in off season, most of the campgrounds were closed despite the fact there was no new snow.
We spent the day driving the 72 mile loop around the lake and also took a side trip to Truckee, the Donner Pass Memorial and Donner Lake. Post card perfect weather made this a spectacular day to be on a drive. Bentley frolicked in the Truckee River and at Donner Lake…he would have been happy to spend the whole day there.
We did a short hike to Upper Kings Falls near Emerald Bay and had a great lunch at the Fire Sign Café near Tahoe City. The only disappointment was that the Heaven Valley Gondola was closed – WAHHH, the views would have been amazing. We did however really enjoy a stopover at Sand Harbor (no dogs allowed, how rude). There is a great walking path and beautiful rock boulder formations at this end of the lake.
There are no shortage of things to do or see in Lake Tahoe and if you are a casino lover, well you might never make it outside to see anything.
Our three days in the Carson City area flew by and soon it was time to hit the road again. Our next stopover was Mammoth Lakes and the drive between Cason City and Mammoth was spectacular. Late fall colors, beautiful blue lakes and towering mountains make this portion of the drive my favorite. Only one crazy deer almost ended its life by bounding out in front of our 48,000 lbs coach. Luckily, it saw us and changed course at the last minute. CARDIO BLAST for both of us and I bet the deer might have dropped a load of pellets too!
Mammoth Mountain RV Park was our home for the two day stopover. After a frustrating time initially trying to get parked in the treed campground, we eventually got settled into the spacious site under the towering pine trees. Again, since it was off season we were lucky to find any place to stay but the upside was this “resort” was virtually empty. The sites are much like being in a state or national park, except there are full hook ups and a big price tag. At $75 per night, I would say they think highly of the place. No off season rates here or any discounts like most RV parks or resorts. Oh well, the area was worth the visit and in addition to all the scenic beauty, Mammoth has great restaurants.
Our splurge meal was at the Mammoth Rock Brasserie…a well rated restaurant situated over the bowling alley. There were plenty of great restaurant choices but the menu caught my eye as did the funky location with the spectacular views of the Sherwin Range and Mammoth Mountain. The website noted that they did NOT offer a children’s menu and expected any children in the restaurant to be well behaved, to stay in their seats and to keep their voices to a normal speaking level. If a child is being loud or disruptive, they expect parents to instruct their children to act appropriately. AMEN to that I say.
We booked an early dinner reservation to take advantage of the views and were not disappointed. A gin martini and Ahi Poke tower to start. Our entrees were delicious and the wine list was first class. The restaurant was on the second floor of a newish, modern mountain building which you would never know housed a bowling alley and fine dining restaurant when you pull into the parking lot. I am also happy to report that there wasn’t a child to be seen or heard…guess all the other patrons took the website warning to heart!!!
After another well deserved sleep in day, we spent the day hiking at Convict Lake and touring the surrounding alpine lakes. There are a plethora of places to hike in this region but Convict Lake struck our fancy because the trail is a 3 mile loop around the lake, is relatively flat (no kickass hell here) which was important since the elevation was 8,438 feet. Plus it has cool history and spectacular views of the mountains. If you are an angler, bring a rod and reel as this lake is stocked with trout. As a matter of fact, bring your fishing gear and a kayak…so many places to use both around this basin. Curious how Convict Lake got its name? Click on the hyperlink and read on!
This trail can be really busy in peak season but on our sunny Sunday hike we saw far more people fishing than hiking. After a pleasant, easy hike complete with bald eagle sightings and fish jumping in the lake, we headed further up into the mountains to check out Lake Mary and Lake George. There is a great bike path and plenty of options to get off road or golf in this area as well. Of course, there is a the ski mountain…and we had a Good giggle recalling a weekend we spent in Mammoth with friends Eric and Carol many moons ago. We went to ski and ski we did but what we really remember is the Spanish Coffee induced clogging and craziness that happened one evening. I am pretty sure we didn’t ski the next day…or did we???
The Mammoth Lakes Basin is so diverse that it really deserves a longer stop over. One could tour Yosemite National Park from here but we opted not to try to do just a day drive to this massive national park. A return trip in the late spring to this area might just be on the agenda.
Our last stop on the souther migration was merely a place to park and sleep. Mammoth Lake to Palm Springs is about 345 miles, totally doable but makes for a long day. We didn’t want to roll in after dark and have to get set up so we opted to spend the night in nowhere Ridgecrest CA.
$22.50 got us a self registration, full hookup and pull thought site with easy access off Hwy 395. After a tour of Ridgecrest we were in total agreement that this wasn’t a town to put on our “future paces to live someday” list. The Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake is the reason this nowhere desert town exists.
China Lake is the United States Navy’s largest single landholding, representing 85% of the Navy’s land for weapons and armaments research, development, acquisition, testing and evaluation use and 38% of the Navy’s land holdings worldwide. In total, its two ranges and main site cover more than 1,100,000 acres, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island. Well, that explains why a newish city of 27,000 plus people is thriving out in the middle of nowhere.
The last 150 miles of our southern migration was uneventful desert driving on mostly two lane Hwy 395. The last stretch merged onto to Hwy 15 in Victorville where we dropped down into the San Bernadino Valley. Did I say uneventful..well yes, uneventful, until the front shade came unscrewed on the passenger side and dropped down obscuring the windshield. Of course that happen right as we were merging onto busy Hwy 15 but thankfully before were were headed down Cajon Pass. As luck would have it, we were able to safely pull over and engineer a temporary fix with gorilla tape and a mop handle.
We rolled into The Outdoor Resort Palm Springs in the early afternoon. Home again, home again!!!
What a awesome road trip in the new Road House, Hwy 395 is a great alternative to I5. We will definitely travel this route again and that my friends is no BS!
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!!!
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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!
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.
A new favorite just over the Canadian border…Beaumont Marine Park. Great hiking, crabbing and fishing plus a mooring buoy field and amazing sunsets!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
The seemly hundred and one things on the boat that mysterious stopped working in our 8 month absence, well THAT was not planned.
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.
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!!!
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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!