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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Oregon Dunes Natural area is starkly beautiful.

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

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

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

Look at all those oyster beds!!!

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

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

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

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Redwoods Adventures…

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wow, those are big damn trees!

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

The Smith River

Where’s Waldo???

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

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

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

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

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

Heading into Richmond…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great outdoor living space at this hotel in Healdsburg.

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

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

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

Look at those old vines…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making Lemonade from Lemons – A unexpected stop in Riverside CA


One thing we learned from this mobile lifestyle is to expect the unexpected. Even though we do plan our travel, have routes we want to take and reservations for places we want to stay – sometimes S*it happens!

We had an oil leak on the coach motor when we arrived in Palm Springs last November and we had (okay, the mechanic) thought it was repaired. Turned out that wasn’t the problem… when we got to the staging area by the exit at ORPS where we hooked up the car, Wally noticed the dripping had started again. DAMN IT…we were right on time to breeze through LA before rush hour traffic ensued DAMN IT!!!!

Luckily, we were able to get ahold of the mechanic and he came out to check it out. Okay, so we sat there for over an hour waiting but he did show up. Seems after some inspection, the oil cooler housing gasket was really the problem. After some phone calls, we were told that the gasket kit was available in Riverside CA (no where else BTW) at the Caterpillar Dealer. The other good news was that they had time to look at the coach that afternoon and could most likely get the repair done the next day. All good news so far…

The mechanic who did the work for us felt really bad that he missed the real issue and helped us get on the road to Riverside. He paid for the gasket kit ($40), wrapped an absorbent diaper around the housing and zip tied it on. This temporary fix would help keep the oil from getting all over the front of the car which is towed directly behind the engine area.

We made the short 55 mile drive to Riverside, saw the engine doctor and were put on the schedule for Friday am. At that point we were hopeful we would be back on the road Friday but had to rearrange some reservations and find a place to stay the night. We had plans to meet friends in Paso Robles on Sunday and had decided to leave a few days prior to that …just in case! Sometimes intuition is spot on!

We spent the night at a expensive and somewhat divey RV park just 5 minutes from the Caterpillar Dealer in Riverside. Didn’t even bother to put all the slides out or hook up the sewer as we knew we were leaving at 7am the next morning! The area we stayed in was in a very industrial area right off I215.


But I was hopeful we could find something to occupy us the next day while the coach was being worked on. Love the Trip Advistor App.

So this is when lemons started turning into lemonade…We had a great burger and beer for dinner at Heros Restaurant and Brewery in downtown Riverside. Turns out we were within walking distance to the very old, historic Mission Inn so after we tucked in all that food we took a nice walk around the area. Who’da thunk Riverside had such a cool old downtown. Apparently, this part of town has gone through a resurgence…use to be all you would get in Downtown Riverside was stabbed! Ya, thats a fact as told to me by some locals.

The grounds are at the Mission Inn are absolutely stunning…

Bellies full, we went to bed early. 6 am came and we were up getting ready to take the coach to the doctor. Now remember, we have two pets who can’t stay onboard the coach if work is being done. After loading Bentley in the back of Ernie and Sucia in her big travel crate with a litter box and food, off we went to drop off the coach. Yikes, its early…and coffee was the first order of business after we left the Road House. Yay, for Starbucks!!!

Fueled up from coffee and somewhat awake now, we decided to head over to the California Citrus State Historical State Park for a walk.

We got there at 8am and were the only ones on the trails…what a hidden gem this place is. This 300-acre park preserves some of the rapidly vanishing cultural landscape of the citrus industry and tells the story of this industry’s role in the history and development of California. There are fruit tastings and guided tours at museum/visitor center.

Bentley hiking…what???

In 1873, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forever changed the history of Southern California when it sent two small Navel orange trees to Riverside resident Eliza Tibbets. Those trees, growing in near perfect soil and weather conditions, produced an especially sweet and flavorful fruit. Word of this type of orange quickly spread, and a great agricultural industry was born.

Ah, the good ole days when most of Southern Cal was orange groves …can only imagine how beautiful it was.

In the early 1900s, an effort to promote citrus ranching in the state brought hundreds of would-be citrus barons to California for the “second Gold Rush.” The lush groves of oranges, lemons and grapefruit gave California another legacy – its lingering image as the Golden State – the land of sunshine and opportunity. It was awesome to be in the middle of these lush groves and see how the city has grown up all around them. Love it that this bit of Cali history is being preserved.

Bentley enjoyed a long walk in the orchards while Sucia stayed in her kennel in the car. Thankfully it was a cool day so the she could enjoy all the great smells with the windows cracked. The orchard were all blooming and the sweet smell of citrus wafted all around us as we hiked around and through orchards. So many varietals of fruit…lemons, oranges, grapefruits and even an avocado orchard. I can’t say enough about this fantastic park….if they only had overnight RV sites, it would be heaven!

As it turns out, the museum wasn’t open yet…seriously, we were there at 8am…so not like us! I was optimistic that the coach would be done by noon and really wanted to see the UC Riverside Botanical Garden so off we went. Will have to see the musuem another time!

So many varietals of oranges

Love tangelos…so hard not to sneak in there and pick a few!

Fruit trees take a lot of water and all of the canals like the one in the picture in the right were originally dug by hand. The picture on the left is of a water control channel which keeps the whole damn place from washing away in big rain storms. Guessing that wasn’t there in the early 1900’s.

We drove back roads through some beautiful neighborhoods, turns out Riverside has some lovely areas and is not just a industrial blight with a violent history!

I had no idea how huge and sprawling the UC Riverside campus is…there are 40 acres of botanical gardens containing more than 3,500 plant species from around the world. Located in the foothills of the Box Springs Mountains on the east side of the University of California, Riverside Campus, the Gardens covers 40 hilly acres.

We wandered over the four miles of scenic trails and really enjoyed hiking the NW trails up into Box Springs Mountains… the views were stunning over the mountains and back down onto the campus plus we got a serious cardio workout!

Great hike up above the botanical gardens

Back at the car, I was sure the coach must almost be done so we made a quick call only to find out that they didn’t actually start working on it until almost 11 am…how rude…why were we up and at the service desk at 7am?

Well, so far the lemon of a day was all lemonade and we were starving by then so lunch was in order. Wally was craving pizza and we thought it was only fitting to go to the California Pizza Kitchen! Yes, it’s a chain but I gotta say the grilled artichoke, goat cheese and arugula salad with a champagne vinaigrette was delicious.

After a long lunch, we still had some time to kill and the world’s biggest paper cup was not far away so why wouldn’t we go check it out?

So its not actually paper…huh?

Turns out it was just down the street from Quinns Caterpillar and by now I was getting a bit anxious to get on the road. Driving in rush hour LA traffic is something we occasionally had to do when we lived in SoCal but wasn’t high on either of our bucket lists of things to do in a big ass RV.

As we rolled into the Caterpillar lot…Lo and behold there was the Road House rolling out of the work bays. Fingers crossed she was done and good to go! Yep, $794 later we we ready to roll. But to where one might ask…not back to the divey RV Park down the street for sure. We decided the traffic on the 210 looked doable and the route to Paso Robles (258 Miles) on google maps suggested going I5, over the grapevine and cutting over to Hwy 101 just south of Bakersfield.

We have never seen the southern california hills so green!

Long story short, we drove through some beautiful mossy green rolling hills, dusk turned into darkness and by the time we drove into Cava Robles RV Resort it was way later than we ever like to be on the road. That said, we backed into our site, put our the rear slide, took a long, hot shower and crawled into bed. Dang…we were just happy to be there!!!

Were our eyes really getting this fuzzy???