Archive for July, 2010

Mill Valley, San Rafael, and Sausalito, Saturday, July 31, 2010

July 31, 2010 - 8:03 pm 2 Comments

Ben came by this morning around 11:00 a.m. The fog was heavy earlier but as the morning went along the skies cleared for a beautiful day.

Ben drove us over to Mill Valley, another small quaint community near Sausalito. We walked around the city and had lunch in a small french bistro called “Champagne”. You’ll see a photo of today’s dessert—-dessert is something we always have with Ben. After lunch and more walking we drove over to San Rafael to visit the San Rafael Mission. There happened to be a “Jubilee Celebration” today. This event celebrated the long service of several nuns—one of whom had 80 years of service to the church. She was 102 years old!

After our walk around San Rafael, we came back to the RV Park for a rest. The weather is awesome—we are still wearing jeans but no jackets this afternoon.

For dinner we chose Scoma’s, a nice restaurant in Sausalito. We had a wonderful table right on the water and had great views of the bay with San Francisco in the background. Also we could see Alcatraz out in the middle of the bay. Lots and lots of sailboats and boats of every size were in the bay. After dinner we walked around Sausalito and had ice cream. There are so many people walking the streets here it’s hard to maneuver. But the views are spectacular and every direction you look there is something more beautiful.

Ben brought us back to the RV Park around 7:30 p.m. Tomorrow we will take the ferry from Sausalito to San Francisco and Ben will meet us at the pier. We’ll have lunch and then spend the afternoon looking around the city.

Oh, and Allan, take a look at the car—can you tell what it is?

Stay tuned. Bonnie

S U S H I with Ben! Friday, July 30, 2010

July 30, 2010 - 8:42 pm 1 Comment

We had so much fun with Ben today. He came over this afternoon and we visited for a while—we gave him the things we brought him from Alaska. He took us to dinner at a fabulous Japanese restaurant in Sausalito—Sushi Ran. We sat at the sushi bar and Ben ordered for us. Our chef spoke with Ben in Japanese which always tickles us. The chef was interested in how Ben learned to speak Japanese so fluently. We sat at the bar because we got to see the chef prepare each dish right in front of us.

Now I’ll be honest with you—my sushi was filled with cooked fish. Greg tried all sorts of sushi that Ben ordered, but I’m not ready to taste raw fish. But the chefs are artists—it was so interesting seeing them work.

The dessert tray was another work of art. We were given green tea to drink after our meal with dessert. We sat next to a woman and her daughter from Petaluma who said she brings her daughter here twice a year just to have the same sushi chef prepare her sushi. She said he was the very best. He certainly was talented.

Tomorrow Ben will come over and we’ll spend the day together. Stay tuned. Bonnie

If You’re Going to San Francisco, Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair, Thursday, July 29, 2010

July 29, 2010 - 2:49 pm 4 Comments

We always think of Ben when we hear that great tune from the 60’s. We are excited to be here near San Francisco to visit Ben. We arrived safely at the Marin RV Park near Sausalito, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. We will stay here through Sunday evening. Ben always takes us to interesting restaurants when we are in town, so we look forward to new experiences while we are here.

Our park is within walking distance of the ferry that takes us across the bay to San Francisco. It’s a 35 minute ride and docks at Pier One on the Embarcadero. We may take the ferry at least once across the bay just for the fun of it. Otherwise Ben has rented a car for the weekend so he will come over to get us each day.

The first thing we did after we checked in today was go to the laundry. It’s the most well kept laundry we have seen in quite a while so we enjoyed getting everything cleaned. We’ll get the “housecleaning” done today as well so we will be ready for our visit with Ben tomorrow afternoon.

By the way, the weather is still terrific. We have the windows open and a gentle cool breeze is coming through. Temperature is 72 degrees.

Stay tuned. Bonnie

An easy day in Calistoga, Wednesday, July 28, 2010

July 29, 2010 - 2:39 pm No Comments

We had a nice day today. The weather is just unbelievably good. The sky is clear, temperatures are moderate enough to wear jeans and no jacket. The air is cool. We had lunch at the RV park and headed into town by walking through the residential streets of Calistoga. We strolled the streets and bought a couple of things to bring home. Greg spotted an ice cream shop so when we were finished shopping, we stopped by for a treat. It was fun — people watching is always enjoyable in a new town.

We leave tomorrow for our RV Park near San Francisco for our visit with Ben. We’ll be staying near Sausalito. I know Ben will take us to some great restaurants while we are there, and we always enjoy the Farmers Market on the Embarcadero.

Stay tuned. Bonnie

Nosing Around Napa, Tuesday, July 27, 2010

July 27, 2010 - 4:24 pm 2 Comments

We started our day around 10:00 a.m. and our first stop was the Castello di Amorosa Vineyard. We were directed to this vineyard by our campground host who said it was a very good tour. We wanted to go on one good tour while we were here. This one did not disappoint.

We arrived just as a tour was beginning so we signed up for it. There were only 10 people in the tour so it was easy to hear the guide and follow him. We learned a lot about wine making and this particular winery was interesting because it is an authentic, 12th century Tuscan castle-winery where we could not only tour but taste. This winery only produces about 15,000 cases of wine a year which are sold only at the winery directly to the consumer. There are 30 acres of vineyards surrounding the castle. The history of this place was very interesting–the owner researched the great wineries of Italy and brought many artifacts from Italy to fill this castle. We went through many rooms and storerooms where the wine was made, stored, and aged. At one point in the tour, the guide stopped by barrels of wine and gave us a taste directly from the barrel. At the end of the tour, we went into a tasting room where we were given the opportunity to taste 10 out of 16 wines offered. We were given a status sheet where we could rate the wines so that we could remember which ones we liked at the end of the tasting. We bought a couple of bottles to bring home.

Another interesting tidbit that I never really knew is that olives are grown in this area also. We passed by a little shop called St. Helena Olive Oil Company so we stopped in for a visit. There was a big cavernous room where we could taste all sorts of olive oils—many flavored and many regular extra virgin olive oil. I selected a couple of bottles of extra virgin olive oil for me and Catherine—I know she likes using olive oil and will enjoy this olive oil from the Napa Valley.

We stopped by the V. Sattui Winery which is owned by the same family as the Castello di Amorosa to have lunch. The Sattui Winery is known for having a great deli with meats and cheeses from all over. They have picnic tables on the grounds so you can buy your lunch in the deli, as well as wine if you wish, and take it out to the picnic tables for lunch. The weather was absolutely perfect with a cool breeze and low humidity. The temperature was probably mid-70’s. We bought lunch and enjoyed sitting at a table with a couple from California. The scenery is terric with vineyards in every direction.

But you can only taste so many wines in a day, right? So after lunch we drove through the Napa Valley and saw many vineyards, some with recognizable names like Robert Montavi, Berringer, and Sutter Home. We arrived back at the RV park by 4:00 p.m. What an enjoyable day!!

We’re not sure what we will do tomorrow. We will stay in Calistoga, which, by the way, is a great location to tour the entire Napa Valley. It’s a small town so you can stay out of the mainstream of Napa, which is a much larger town. We will leave for Sausalito on Thursday.

Stay tuned. Bonnie

A Nice Day in Calistoga, Monday, July 26, 2010

July 26, 2010 - 4:24 pm No Comments

We enjoyed our evening in the Calistoga RV Park. This park is actually next to the golf course and fairgrounds, so it is basically in the downtown area, which makes it easy to walk everywhere. We had a leisurely morning and started walking to town around 10:30 or so. The morning weather, again, was cool and somewhat foggy, so we wore our rain gear. This is a quaint little town—can’t imagine what people do here for a living other than the wineries, services, and government. But it seems to have a good economy. Calistoga is known for it’s mud baths so there are a great many spas in town. Couldn’t talk Greg into one, however. Imagine that. We also stopped by a wine shop in town where the owner gave us a taste of a couple of wines, so we bought a bottle there.

There are several mexican restaurants in town so we decided to have lunch at one that was recommended to us by the park manager. The food was good, but not excellent, so once again, we think our hometown chimichangas are just as good, if not better, than any fancy smancy restaurant in California.

I also found a beautiful turquoise bracelet. I bought a pair of turquoise earrings last year in Taos, NM but could not find a bracelet I liked. We walked into this beautiful little shop in downtown Calistoga and found the bracelet. It is authentic turquoise and native american made using sterling silver. I’ve got to stop buying jewelry. I’ve become a jewelry hound. But I have some beautiful pieces to bring home from all over. I’ll just have to wear jewelry all the time–to the gym, grocery store, Walmart. I’ll be decked out, that’s for sure.

We walked back to the RV Park in time to take a little nap. We couldn’t help it. The weather is just unbelievable. Our windows are open and the coolest little breeze is coming through—the sun is shining and the sky is so clear. I think of you all at home every day wishing I could send some of this cool weather back to you. I know we are going to be in shock when we get to the midwest where the temperatures will start climbing.

We’ll just have soup and sandwich for dinner tonight since we had a big lunch. We stopped at the visitor center in town to get maps of the wine country. Tomorrow we will visit some wineries and just enjoy the scenery.

Stay tuned. Bonnie

Round and Round and Up and Down, Sunday, July 25, 2010

July 25, 2010 - 7:34 pm No Comments

We left the Benbow RV Park around 9:00 a.m. this morning. The weather is mild, no humidity, and around 66 degrees. We decided to wear shorts, thinking it would warm up during the morning.

Before I start today, let me tell you about our dinner last night. The Benbow RV Park had a dinner for the RV guests. They held it in the “Village Hall”, a recreation hall in the campground. They advertised “tri-tips” and all the trimmings. We went over to the Village Hall and there must have been at least 50 people in line for dinner. We were impressed with the entire evening. The dinner consisted of “tri-tips”, which seemed to be grilled beef, which was very tasty and tender. Also we had salad, baked potatoes, and baked beans. All the condiments necessary were there too. We sat at a table with two other couples who were very nice. They are from California and enjoyed hearing our tales about our trip to Alaska. They asked where we were going and we said “Calistoga”, and the daughter of one of the couples happens to live in Calistoga and owns a winery. They graciously gave us her name and cell phone number and asked that we call her for a tasting of their wine. After dinner, we were served ice cream with fresh berries on top. They had a drawing for a few door prizes. But the entire evening was lots of fun, and it was a good meal as well.

We only drove 190 miles today, but it was a long day because the roads were winding and steep. We left Hwy 101 and turned back over to the coast to drive down Hwy 1. This is the California coastal road. We’ve driven the Big Sur part of this road so we wanted to experience the northern end of it. It is very curvy and up and down. So you can’t drive fast, on the contrary, you drive about 20 miles an hour. But the scenery is spectacular. I just can’t get enough of the ocean. It’s such a mysterious thing. We saw lots of houses hanging off dramatic cliffs along this road. Can you imagine living in a house looking out over the Pacific Ocean? During this time of year there is lots of fog until mid-day but we lucked out today and although there was plenty of fog further out in the ocean, along the coast we could see the water very well. We stopped for lunch at a wayside which had a wonderful view of the water.

Driving through Mendocino Ridge gave us our first look at the vineyards of the valley. Actually the Mendocino Ridge has a lot of wineries so we decided to stop in and visit one. We really wanted to experience a “tasting” before we get to Napa where the big boys are. We stopped in at the Greenwood Ridge Vineyards tasting room. A very nice lady talked with us about tasting and she gave us a taste of 2 or 3 reislings. We chose to purchase one of those. We stopped at another winery along the route but they only had red wine, which is not our favorite so we didn’t purchase anything there.

We finally arrived in Calistoga around 5:00 p.m. Calistoga is a very pretty small town right in the middle of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. We will probably stay around town tomorrow since we had such a long driving day today. I’m looking forward to visiting all the local shops, and we’ve been told there are some excellent restaurants in this town. We will take it easy tomorrow and then, using Calistoga as home base, drive around the Napa and Sonoma Valleys on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Stay tuned. Bonnie

Rambling through the Redwoods, Saturday, July 24, 2010

July 24, 2010 - 4:37 pm 2 Comments

We left our campground in Hiochi Hamlet this morning by 9:00 a.m. The early morning weather was mild (52 degrees) and the sky was clear. We drove south on Highway 101 through several redwood forests. There are a lot of bicyclists riding on the highway but they are very safety conscious, wearing helmets that have flashing lights. You can’t miss them.

We drove along the coast and then into the forest and back to the coastline. There was a lot of fog early in the day and it burned off during the middle of the day. The temperatures on the coast were cool, causing us to wear jeans and jackets.

We were in Eureka during mid day and stopped at the Marie Callendar Restaurant for lunch. After lunch we headed for the Avenue of the Giants, which parallels Highway 101 for 32 miles. This road took us into the redwood forest and what a beautiful sight. The tall trees shade the road so much the temperature is cool. This road was originally built as a stagecoach and wagon road in the 1880’s. Today, the Avenue of the Giants is considered a scenic alternate to Highway 101. There is a self guided auto tour through the park which tells you about the trees and who they are named for.

When we came out of the park, the temperature soared to 97 degrees. Humidity is low. We couldn’t believe it. So again, off with the jeans and on with the shorts. We are spending the night at the Benbow Golf Club and RV Resort. The campground is nice, not along the lines of the Pacific Shores in Oregon, but nice enough. But it is very social. Tonight, for instance, the resort is offering a free dinner of “Tri-tips”. I asked what are tri-tips and was told “beef on skewers”. So we will join the rest of the RVers for dinner tonight in the clubhouse. There is also a nice pool here, so we might just stay another night and enjoy the pool tomorrow.

Stay tuned. Bonnie

Lollygagging Along the Magnificent Oregon Coast, Friday, July 23, 2010

July 23, 2010 - 3:43 pm 1 Comment

We awoke to a beautiful crisp morning and were ready to leave the RV Park by 8:30 a.m. We stopped by another lighthouse, the Umpqua River Lighthouse, right outside Winchester Bay, Oregon. I had so many pretty photos of the beach I didn’t even include the Lighthouse in this entry.

We crossed over the highest bridge in Oregon, 345 feet high over an inlet near the ocean. The drive today was absolutely spectacular. I’m running out of superlative words to describe the Oregon coastline. The coast is mostly lava rock and the rocks are black and jutting out of the water near the coastline. It’s just spectacular. Once again, the road at times was high on a cliff, and then it came down next to the shoreline. We stopped for a walk on the shore, and we were only there 30 minutes or so when the fog rolled in unexpectedly. Then around the next curve, it was completely clear again. While walking down to the beach we found little yellow flowers along the pathway. The flowers were so pretty we took a closeup of it. This flower is called the yellow sand verbena, a coastal perennial living in dunes or along the high beach. How do I know this? The internet, of course!

We stopped for lunch at a wayside which gave us a wonderful view of the ocean and rocks below. Here’s what the view reminds me of: do you remember the movie several years ago named “The Goonies”? Well I can just picture the pirate ship at the end of the movie sailing out in the ocean between those tall lava rocks. We only drove 100 miles today but we took our time and spent the entire day stopping, looking, and enjoying every single minute.

Oh! and have you ever heard of Myrtlewood? We saw a couple of shops advertising Myrtlewood and after the second shop, I told Greg to STOP THE CAR! We went in the shop and a nice young lady explained what Myrtlewood is. Myrtlewood trees are only grown in three places on earth—Southern Oregon, northern California, and Israel (or so we were told). The shop had all sorts of items made from Myrtlewood. The wood has many striations in it to make each piece different from the next. I did have to buy a few things (Catherine you will love it!)

We crossed into California and all traffic has to stop at a border crossing and we were asked if we were bringing firewood into the state, specifically from Oregon. The Oregon trees must be infested with some sort of bug. We drove through Smith River, California which is the Easter Lily capital of the world. There were fields of Easter Lilies growing on both sides of the road as we passed through this area.

We came upon the Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park where we are spending the night in a little area called Hiochi. We drove briefly through huge Redwoods on our way to our little park. Tomorrow we will drive on down the coast and see many more Redwoods before settling in the Humbolt Redwood Forest where we will drive the 31 mile loop of the “Avenue of the Giants”.

Stay tuned. Bonnie

Driving down the Oregon Coast, Thursday, July 22, 2010

July 22, 2010 - 3:09 pm 1 Comment

We left our RV Park this morning around 9:30 a.m. to make our leisurely drive down the coast to Winchester Bay, Oregon. The fog was heavy this morning but as the time went by, the fog lifted and we had a beautiful day. Before leaving Newport, we drove into the Yaquina Head Lighthouse Park. Yaquina Head is a narrow, coastal headland extending one mile into the Pacific Ocean. Formed by ancient lava flows, Yaquina Head’s hard basalt cliffs and coves have endured the pounding ocean surf for 14 million years. For 4,000 years, Yaquina Head has provided coastal inhabitants with a one mile long pathway into the open sea. The Yaquina Lighthouse was built on the headland in 1873.

After we visited the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, we drove down the coast on highway 101 through Newport, Cook’s Chasm in Captain Cook’s Inlet and on down the coast. We stopped at Heceta Head Lighthouse Wayside to have lunch. We didn’t walk up to the lighthouse, but we enjoyed the view from the beach below. We had lunch sitting beside the ocean, as you’ll see in one of the photos. It just doesn’t get much better than this!

Highway 101 meanders along the coastline–sometimes we are way up high on a cliff overlooking the vast expanse of the pacific ocean, and other times the road comes right down on the shore where you can literally walk out onto the beach. The beaches are empty except for a few surfers and every now and then we see people bundled up against the wind and cold temperatures. It is VERY windy and cool along the coastline. The pacific ocean never gets warm, and locals say that this has been an unusually cool spring/summer.

After lunch, we drove on down to Winchester Bay, Oregon. Our campground, Winchester Bay RV Park, is right on the bay and we have a beautiful view of the water with the boats in the harbor. This afternoon we got our chairs out and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine. We read a while, then dozed a while. We are still in jeans and jackets and the air is very cool, but folks in the park are enjoying the beautiful scenery on the bay.

Tomorrow we head down the remainder of the Oregon coast and we will enter California. We will spend the next couple of night in Crescent City, California where we will visit the one of the giant Redwood Forests.

Stay tuned. Bonnie

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