Thursday, April 28, 2016

Charleston, Oregon

We rolled out of Fortuna, California bright and early, looking to finish out the last of the California section of our shoreline adventure.

Only in California would they hire golden bears to guard the bridge approaches. Thankfully, I wasn't prepared to include a shot of what we saw at the other end of the bridge.

I loved the sections where the big trees (small redwoods) crowded the road. Of course, this section sported lots of those yellow signs as the road would wind up and over each headland.

We stopped in Crescent City to check out the massive concrete "jacks" on display. They use these dolosseu and tetrapods to create breakwaters to protect the town.

As long as we were off the highway, we stopped at an overlook for lunch and checked out the park across the street. The anchor is apparently from a ship that sunk nearby about about 150 years ago.

I would have liked to visit the Battery Point Lighthouse, but it can only be visited at low tide and it's closed to visitation on Mondays & Tuesdays - a double whammy for us.

After a week traveling through California without stopping, we were ready for a change of pace.

I love Highway 101 in Oregon. So many of the bridges were built in the 1930s and feature Art Deco design.

Our plan was to boondock on a piece of BLM land just outside of Coos Bay. It's beautifully situated on the south jetty of the harbor, but... Turns out this past year it has become a very troubled squatter's haven. The squatters have been evicted but derelict trailers remain as does serious warnings by multiple locals that the area continues to be problematic, especially at night.

Plan B turned out to be wonderful. On the bluff, less than a mile from our initial destination is a great little County Park. We pulled in to Bastendorff Beach County Park, chatted with the ranger, and paid our $20 for a site with water & electric.

The winter rates last until the end of April, then they go up to $26 for the summer season. The campground is supposed to be reservation only (which uses a system other than but we had no problem getting a primo space.
After a beautiful sunset, we decided to stay a second night. Our next move will be to Waterloo County Park for the Northern Oregon Gathering, a semiannual gathering of molded fiberglass trailer aficionados.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Golden Gate & California 1

I'd intentionally scheduled our transit through San Francisco for a Saturday morning hoping for something less than rush hour traffic. The traffic was sane, and flowed well, but I was constantly thankful that we have a small (and narrower than normal) rig.

People, including my eldest offspring, said I was crazy, but I still recall my first view of the Golden Gate bridge when I was in 4th grade, and I wanted to drive it, just because I could. Since we were northbound, there was no toll. Online info said trucks and RVs had to stay in the right lane, but bridge signage said the right two lanes. In any case, it was anticlimactic.

We stopped at the viewpoint on the north end to get a couple pictures and get the info we needed for a virtual geocache at the nearby statue.

So far, we'd closely followed the coast and we intended to keep doing so, even though 101 veers away. Our route would follow Highway 1.

In order to follow the coast, the designer of Highway 1 drew a squiggly line on a piece of paper and then crumpled it up into a ball. Straightening it slightly, the contractor assumed it to be a 3D model and built accordingly. Since there was only one line on the paper, he apparently assumed things like shoulders would be unnecessary!  In truth, while the road is slow, and rigs over 35' total length are discouraged, the drive is beautiful!

We stopped at Bodega Head for a lunch break so that I could chase another old cache. This one was a large size and easy to find. Rather amazing that it's still there after 15 years. Bodega Head was beautiful, and Doran Regional Park (a Sonoma County Park) on the inland hook, looked inviting, especially with the kayaks on board, but we wanted to get some more miles under us.

More small towns that left me wondering what their economy was based on,

and some tired looking, rusty-roofed farms were seen along the way, most often on the high side of the road. Some were running cattle, others were questionable as to their continued operation.

Our (my) plan was to stay at the casino in Port Arena, but Kate, our British voiced Garmin, failed us twice while trying to access it. Given that the casino had no advertising to be seen and the challenge we were experiencing in getting to it, we decided to leverage a pull-out on the dead-end Windy Hollow Rd between Port Arena and Manchester. It was a nice quiet location,

and the neighbors didn't bother us at all. That's the top of the trailer seen through the trees. The cemetery had stones from the 1880, with most from the early 20th century, but I did see one stone from 2014. The whole place was badly overgrown.

Continuing north, we stretched our legs on the beach in Elk. The offshore rocks had an amazing number of open arches. I can imagine good sea kayakers having lots of fun playing in this area.

Further north, we stopped at the Point Cabrillo Light Station for lunch and a walk. Turk read the sign and decided to stay close to us.

The Light Station claims to be the most complete example surviving. The barn was burned by the Fire Department in the 80's as a training exercise, but the rest of the buildings have been restored. The homes and outbuilding are rented for vacations.

I thought that this lighthouse might be the most picturesque yet. The only disappointment was that when I got the building framed, I was too low to get the flash from the third order Fresnel lens that continues operation.

We decided that Kate was getting dizzy. This is not the most twisted section, but is fairly typical of what we'd experienced the past two days.

Eventually, we joined back up with Highway 101, gaining shoulders (usually - except where the trees were close to the road) and often had 4 lanes.

Our home for the night in Fortuna was complements of our membership in Harvest Hosts. Harvest Hosts arranges overnight RV parking at farms, breweries, wineries, and museums. This was our first experience with it. The stay wasn't free since we ate dinner there, but it was an excellent dinner! Their onion rings are on my short list for the best I've had, but no one has yet matched my memory of the onion rings from the Short Stop of my childhood.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Spring Northern Oregon Gathering

Most of my readers know that the blog is almost always running behind reality. This one will be a bit of a spoiler because now you'll know we got here before the blog gets here, but there are always people on the various Fiberglass RV forums that are waiting anxiously for pictures from any gathering. As a result, I'll slip in this near real time post for them, and then go back to finish up our drive up the coast.

Blog posts about gatherings are often boring pictures of white (usually) fiberglass trailers of one sort or another. This time it will be boring pictures from Turk's perspective.

The park is quite nice with the grass recently mowed, and long, level asphalt parking pads. The majority of the sites in the park have water & electric. I haven't bothered to count how many trailers are here, but there's a bunch with a wide variety of brands represented.

Lots of Escapes - perhaps the most prevalent brand, outpacing the Casita attendance? The Escape 21 seems to be the most popular version

although there are lots of other sizes here as well. I haven't seen a 13 footer, yet...

Of course, Donna's Ten Forward was here since she's the wonderful organizer of this non-organized gathering. She does have a bit to learn in that regard - I think the Quartzsite Gathering is even intentionally less organized.

Turk's favorite wasn't even fiberglass. This Camp Inn aluminum teardrop was both beautiful and immaculate.

There were Bigfoot trailers in various sizes,

a couple Trillium,

a very young Happier Camper,
and of course, a number of Casitas. I have no idea how many units are here, but we overran the A loop so they opened the B loop early and there are a few folks over there.

For Turk, the best part is there are other dogs here his size. The worst part is that it's Oregon and it's raining now, so the desert dog is getting his feet wet.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Wildflower Weekend

A seagull watched me as we made one last stop at the north end of the Rincon Parkway and headed north, following 101 when necessary and Highway 1 when possible.

In many places, the hills (Floridians would call them mountains) were ablaze with color. It seemed like everything was blooming.
I had not anticipated seeing vineyards as far south as we did - quite a few of them with their neat rows of vines.

I expected more grey and fog than we had. I liked the way the sea fog rolled over the top of the rock/hill.

Lots of the California roads were cement. I loved the shocks on the trailer. They helped a lot. The other mod that really got a workout and continues to impress were the self adjusting brakes.

The first lighthouse we spotted was topless. It did have a light that was operating but it didn't have a lantern room or rotating lens.

We saw bunches of Ford Mustangs, many of them convertibles, that seemed to be out for a drive. This one from Florida was backing up a long line of traffic.

We landed at the Veteran's Memorial Park in Monterey for our third night, in part because of its very reasonable price, and in part because it had a very old cache a few hundred feet away. One more grid square filled in for my Jasmer.

Now that's what a lighthouse is supposed to look like! Several of the lights along the California coast serve as hostels. With the number of bicycles we saw on the road, I could see where hostels would be nice to have.

We were constantly expressing surprise at how vibrant the wild flowers were. When we pulled in to the State Park in Half Moon Bay to inquire about a spot, we found the campground full because it was, "wild flower weekend."

As you get close to San Fransisco, free or even cheap spots are hard to come by. We ended up sandwiched between large motorhomes at the Pillar Point RV Park, where a short spot in the back row that backed up to the highway was $67.20 - don't forget the 20 cents. I knew going in that this night would be more expensive than normal, but I didn't want to drive through San Fransisco on a Friday afternoon, either.

One of the payoffs for the RV park was the beach and marina just a short walk away - depending on which direction you walked.

But the big payoff was the host's mention of multiple seafood places as you walk past the marina. Since there was a geocache nearby, we took the longer walk to Barbara's Fishtrap, because I liked the name! The fresh calamari and fish & chips were both excellent, with huge servings!

I know there are other ways to transit San Fransisco, but...