Two April Fools!

(April 1, 2018)

The morning started off so nicely.  We made it to the coast, got a great parking spot, and walked along the ocean in Santa Cruz.

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We even found some California poppies:

What could possibly go wrong? We were just on a quest for Indonesian food. There are no more Indonesian restaurants in Canada (we’ve looked far and wide). Any time we hit a new city, we search for Indonesian food. Well, today was our lucky day: San Fransisco has 3! We chose one right off the highway. That should be easy. WRONG!

Problem 1: no parking

Problem 2: one-way streets

Problem 3: hills

Problem 4: motorhome

Result: No rijsttafel for you!

We must have looked like Laurel and Hardy trying to get back to the highway. We first went down down down; then, up up up. Then, imagine the Chinook at a stoplight looking like the shuttle ready for liftoff and Paul flooring it when the light turned green. I think some pedestrians’ faces turned green. I almost spewed green.  I only have pictures from the gentler hills.  For the intense ones, I was holding on for dear life!

It all seemed so tame heading in:

Where is that bridge?!

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

But wait! It got wilder! We decided to stay on the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s scenic. It conjures up images of carefree people in convertibles and sweeping vistas. What could possibly go wrong? Oh dear! The highway hugs the Pacific coast. You see, it’s in the name. There is no deception. Coasts aren’t straight. We went up and down and around. There were many hairpin turns. Dishes were rattling; drawers were sliding open; I kept running back to pick up items that fell; Poppy was shaking; Paul had white knuckles; Daisy slept. We had to finally stop in Olema so that my stomach could settle and we could ask how to get back to the 101. Phew! After all that fun, we camped for the night at The Home Depot in Santa Rosa. Serenity now!

Would we do it again? Heck yeah, but in something a great deal smaller!

Fantastico!

Casa de Fantastico!
(March 30, 2018)

We never know what we are going to find when we search for free camping. As we headed into wine country, free camping became pretty slim. We found that Casa de Fruta (a fruit stand near Hollister, CA) allows overnight parking for truckers, so we slipped in with them. Then, we realized that Casa de Fruta is actually a huge complex with a fruit stand, yes, but also a wine shop, coffee shop, restaurant, amusement park, . . . and a campground! Uh-oh, would we get kicked out? Nope. We enjoyed a quiet night in a lovely park-like setting. Case de Fantastico!

 

Garlic Capital – Gilroy!
(March 31, 2018)

The drive to Gilroy is one for the senses! The air is more humid and we could smell garlic wafting. It reminded me so much of my grandma Moore’s yard. Our mouths were watering.

We spent the full day at Christmas Hill Park just relaxing and letting the girls solar charge. Poppy still doesn’t enjoy travelling, so she needs days where she can stretch out and people-watch.

We stayed overnight at a truck stop. As I described earlier, California doesn’t have much for free camping. Part of the problem is the homeless situation. Rent is outrageous, even in a small town like Gilroy because it isn’t too far from the Silicon Valley. A local told us that a basic house is over $3000/month to rent. People are forced to live in their vehicles. We witnessed this at the truck stop. We moved closer to the truckers and further from the homeless. They had been piling garbage outside their vehicles and making a mess. It really makes it bad for everyone.

Sawtooth Canyon and Calico Ghost Town

Sawtooth Canyon, BLM camping
(March 27 & 28, 2018)

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Since there was no camping available within Joshua Tree NP, we continued heading north toward Bakersfield. We located Sawtooth Canyon on freecampsites.net (a favorite resource). The campground isn’t visible from the highway, and we had to travel about 1 mile down a washboard road, but what a delight when we arrived! Most campsites are quite private. They each have a picnic shelter, cement picnic table, firepit, and bbq. No expense was spared. It is all for free! The caveat is that the sites aren’t level at all, but for that price, we didn’t complain (too much). We did some rockhounding and found rough lapis.  The moon was nearly full and the evenings were warm, so we enjoyed a crackling campfire, grilled steak & veggies (peppers, potatoes, asparagus, zucchini), and a buttery Chardonnay. What more could anyone ask for?

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On the second day, we changed locations, trying to find a more level spot.

Calico Ghost Town
(March 29, 2018)

A friend recommended that we stop and see this attraction. It was an interesting stop. The buildings are original, but they are mostly shops now. The shops were fairly pet-friendly, but the temperature was too hot for the girls. One shop owner turned the window A/C for Daisy. How sweet was that? We made the decision to go back to the Chinook, turn on the generator and A/C to cool the girls down before we headed north again.

 

Spot the Chinook:

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For lunch, we went to this famous 50s diner.

We also visited the quirky Diner-saur park around back:

That night, we stayed in a very noisy RV park in Bakersfield.  The train tracks ran right alongside the park, and there was no buffer.  You win some, you lose some.

Yabba dabba do!

(Tuesday March 27, 2018)

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Back when I was in high school, my mother and I travelled to California to visit her friend and her friend’s family. They took us to all the attractions, including Joshua Tree National Park. I was very excited to go back; however, it was a little less enchanting than the first time I was here. It was the same time of year, but a different time of day. When I was first here, the rocks and trees were glowing in the early sunset. This time, we had the blazing sun. It gave it a different effect, but it was breathtaking nonetheless. However, this time it felt like I was in a Flintstones episode rather than Land of the Lost.

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Our lunch location

We camped on BLM land on the south part of the park, so we had to drive about 20-30 miles into the park before we saw our first Joshua tree. There are wonderful campgrounds inside the park, but they were all full.

The terrain is rugged, but the jumbo rocks are easy to climb because they are so rough.

Where are Fred and Wilma?

The first time I was here was before U2 released The Joshua Tree, so this time, I had to take a few black & white photographs in honor of one incredible album.

As with most US national parks, dogs aren’t allowed on the trails, so we didn’t do any long hikes where we would be away from them for too long. In general, the park is lacking in parking. The jumbo rocks are a jumbo attraction, but you have to park on the busy road. There are some lovely picnic grounds, but little parking. We eventually found a parking lot in a less interesting area and made our lunch.

In the future, I’d book a campsite in advance so that we could enjoy these views for a lot longer.

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