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Trying To Get Home

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Leaving Fortuna we headed out on highway 101 and it was a bit of an uneventful day as we were trying to make time to come back home.

We still stopped at beaches and the like, only it was more for a bit of a rest and stretching of legs.

Arriving in Florence, OR we decided to spend the night.

The next morning we figured we better get a covid test as it can take 1-5 days to get the results back.

It’s a tricky thing as you need a test to get over the border into Canada that is less than 72 hours old.

We figured that if we had it today (Friday) that we would be able to come home on Sunday (fingers crossed)

Getting online I searched for places to get a test and after about 4 hours of searching the only thing I found was that you could get it done at Fred Myer and Walgreen.

I tried to set up an appointment with Walgreen but they required a US address and other additional information that as a Canadian I didn’t have so I couldn’t make an appointment.

We went into Fred Myer’s and they had specific hours that they did testing and you needed to make an appointment online.

Also, it turns out they don’t do a PCR test, they only do the rapid tests that are inadmissible in crossing the border.

The PCR test is a molecular test that is more reliable than the rapid one.

Trying other options like hospitals didn’t produce any further results.

Finally, we headed down the road and at one point stopped at a Macdonald’s in Newport, OR.

Asking some men that were doing some repairs to the building if they knew where we could get a covid test and they pointed us across the street to a health center.

Side note: you should see people back up when you ask them where you can get a covid test.

It was a drive-thru testing and the lady that did the testing said we would get the results on MyChart and that we would be sent an email letting us know how to sign up.

The only things she asked for were our name, birthday and email address.

We figured we were all set and congratulated ourselves on how easy it had been and down the road, we went.

Our next night was spent at South Bend, WA at the same place we had stayed the first day of travel.

I had an email from the testing facility with an activation code to sign into MyChart and get our covid results.

Easy Peasy… I’ll just set it up.

Not so easy.

Turns out we needed a social security number and of course, we only have a social insurance number.

The system gave me 5 tries and then deactivated the code that I needed to activate.

My options were:

Phone the place that did the test so they could send me another activation code (they were closed until Monday)

Or I could request another one from MyChart but they were closed until Monday as well

So, either option wasn’t going to get us on the boat on Sunday.

Looking for other places along highway 101 to get a test was fruitless.

Stopping at other pharmacies they either didn’t do them or did a rapid test or were waiting for more tests to come in.

Health Centers were closed until Monday.

We were beginning to figure we might have to go to Olympia or Seattle to get testing done.

More on that later.

As we headed out in the morning we saw more elk.

These ones were all cows and were munching their way through someone’s front yard.

Elk in someone's front yard
Elk in someone’s front yard

The bull elk appeared to be in an adjoining field and further out.

Stopped at a park that had an interesting history.

Right now it looks like meadows and trees with a stream running through.

But, once it had been an 8 acres dryland sort and they had taken out the stream.

Once the sort was finished the property sat for 20 years before they made it into a park, removing all the 8 acres if asphalt and restoring the stream.

You would never guess there had been anything else there before now.

We headed up the 101 on the west side of the Olympic Mountains and ended up in Forks for the night.

Lots of scenery on the coast and we stopped on some beaches and walks some trails to see big trees in the Forest of Giants.

We saw the largest Sitka Spruce and Western Red Cedar in the world.

And there were lots of lakes and streams along the way.

I got online at Forks and found they did covid testing in Port Angles at the Olympic Medical Center.

They have a drive-thru clinic and they do travel testing for $180 per person.

Open on the weekend from 8:30 am to 4 pm no appointment necessary.

It takes an hour to get from Forks to Port Angles so we got up early to be there when it opened.

Looked outside the door and decided to wait an hour before we left as the ground was covered in frost and ice.

Brrrrrrrr!

Found the clinic easily and also discovered that they give the results via MyChart as well.

Bonus, now maybe we could get the results that we did in Oregon.

Disappointment.

Turns out the MyChart is set up differently for each state and even though the lady tried to find out information the two systems didn’t appear to talk to each other, so we went ahead with the test.

They set us up with a MyChart account and we filled out forms for taking the test and then were handed a cotton swab and told to swirl it in each nostril 10 times then it was put into a test tube and was ready to send off to the lab.

We went to the Visitor Information Center as we figured we might as well explore the area as we would probably be here for a few days.

Getting a hotel was easy as it’s the low season here and when I checked my email we already had the results of the tests.

Both Negative!

It only took 3 1/2 hours to get the results.

Amazing!!

And… the good news is that we are coming home tomorrow – Monday.

All set up with a reservation on the Coho tomorrow and we should be home around noon.

Lovely trip but I always look forward to my own bed.

Petaluma to Fortuna, CA

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Leaving Petaluma the next morning we had to ask the teller at MacDonald’s how to get to Bodego Ave and over to the coast.

She gave great directions and off we went after getting breakfast.

Bodego Ave turns into Valley Ford and then into highway 1. How could we go wrong?

I have to say that it was fairly easy and taking the wrong road we found a roadside store that sold all organic veggies, fruit and other assorted items.

Best store ever and stocked up on snacks and fruit.

Heading back in the right direction it was the prettiest valley we’d been in on our trip through California.

The hills, fields and valleys were a lush green.

Cows and sheep grazed in the fields and there was abundant water everywhere.

They even had spots along the road with measure sticks so you could tell how deep the dip was and if you wanted to drive through it.

Today they were dry, so no problem navigating the road, and we popped out into Bodega Bay and the beach.

It was a huge beach and campsite. You paid your $10 and you can stay on the beach all day.

The campground was full.

They had a bird walk (which we didn’t take as the tide was out) but along the beach I watched the surf scoters play in the surf.

Surf scoters at Bodega Bay
Surf scoters at Bodega Bay. Immature male and 2 females’

As the wave crested they would duck (no pun intended) into the wave and pop out on the other side. You can see how they got their name.

There were lots of turkey vultures circling around the dock and some were eating the remains of a fish.

Turkey vulture at Bodega Bay
Turkey vulture at Bodega Bay
Turkey vulture portrait
Turkey vulture portrait

Out on the water were loons, brant’s cormorants and a first time for me a long-tailed duck.

Long-tailed Duck
Female Long-tailed Duck in winter

Walking down the road I found a black phoebe posing for a picture.

Black phoebe at Bodega Bay
Black phoebe at Bodega Bay
tarlings squabbling over water fountain
Starlings squabbling over the water fountain

Driving around we found an Oyster Bar and had lunch. All the seafood was fresh so of course, it was delicious.

We finally tore ourselves away from the bay and headed up the coast on highway 1 stopping whenever something caught our fancy.

One of the places of interest was Fort Ross State Historic Park. It was a Russian settlement and we would have loved to walk down some of the trails and look around but the sun had started to go down so we needed to find a place to stay for the night.

After passing lodges and resorts we finally came across a delightful place called Ocean Cove Lodge just outside of Jenner.

It was a motel with a restaurant and a lovely view of the ocean.

The fellow that owned it was a Veteran and had only bought the property a couple of years ago.

Right now he is doing a lot of maintenance as it had sat dormant for 10 years beforehand.

He also told us that because of the fires in the area his insurance had gone up. It now cost him $52,000 a year or $1000 a day.

Because of that, he had to close down the hot tub and the playground area otherwise it would have been more expensive.

I sure hope he makes it big in the summer as we were the only ones there.

Both Rob and I agreed that it was one of the most relaxing places we had stayed in.

It wasn’t fancy but very homey and we even had a gas fireplace to keep us warm.

As we watched the sun go down I saw something fly into a tree.

Portal sunset at Ocean Cove Lodge
Portal sunset at Ocean Cove Lodge. Looks like a door to the other side

At first, I thought it was an owl at that time of night but it turned out to be a Red-shouldered Hawk (another first for me).

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk

Sleep came early and awakening fresh we headed down the road.

One of the first things we spotted was a large white bird flying across the road and it perched on a wire just in front of us.

Determined it was a hawk… but what kind of hawk.

After consulting in the bird bible Stokes Guides to Birds (Amazon link) it turns out that it was a Light morph red-tailed hawk.

Another first for me.

Light-morph red-tailed hawk
Light-morph red-tailed hawk

The next thing we saw was a sign that said… Siberians in Gualal

The people – Sakha are the northernmost horse breeders in the world and horses figure prominently in their culture.

A Sergeh or hitching post is placed beside each home.

In 2014 these Sergeh were erected to honour the ancestors that worked on this land before them.

Sergeh at Fort Ross
Sergeh at Fort Ross

On one of the signs on a picnic table, there was this plaque saying that this was the only place that she liked to paint as it was the most paintable spot in the world.

Best view to paint
Best view to paint

The next stop was for a pair of turkey vultures where were warming up their bodies.

Turkey Vulture warming themselves
Turkey Vulture warming themselves

And at the next beach stop, some oystercatchers were having baths.

Oystercatcher having a bath
Oystercatcher having a bath

As it was the other day the road was windy with switchbacks and it finally ended when we came to Leggett and took highway 101 north.

Leggett is a home of a drive-thru redwood.

It looks like the tree was originally hollow and someone cut walls into it. We were too big to go through but that didn’t stop us from getting out and having a look around.

Chandelier Tree
Chandelier Tree

The tree was…

Height: 315 ft
Diameter: 21 ft
Maximum Age: 2400 years

Rob in Chandelier Tree
Rob in the Chandelier Tree

All around the park were giant redwood and out of stumps, someone had carved different animals and sasquatches.

Bear carved in redwood
Bear carved in redwood

There was a sign posted by the tree that was supposedly written by the man who designed the Golden Gate Bridge.

Sign at Chandelier Tree
Sign at Chandelier Tree

From there as it was getting close to evening we drove up to Fortuna, CA and spent the night.

It was the first time on the trip that a hotel still had the hot tub and pool going.

Putting on our bathing suits we took advantage of the hot water one minute and then the cool pool the next, only to hop back into the warmth of the hot tub and off to bed.

Julian to Petaluma, CA

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Arriving at Julian, CA we found a whole new world.

This world was filled with apple trees and vineyards with lush green valleys and hills.

Originally Julian had been a gold rush town but when that petered out they found that it was a perfect location to grow apples.

Now they have reinvented themselves with wine tasting, apple cider and artists.

Lovely town to explore and walk through except we were there about 7 am and nothing was open.

So much for breakfast.

Just before you come into Julian there is an area called Banners and the Banner Ranch.

You could rent a tiny house or relax in a covered wagon. Very bright and colourful as you pass by the ranch.

Finally, we ended up in Ramona and had breakfast at a Denny’s.

An hour and a half later we were at Oceanside, walking on the sandy beach and watching the surfers.

Rob on Oceanside beach
Rob on Oceanside beach

We didn’t make it very far after that as we stopped at every beach along the way following the coastal highway and finally ended up in Laguna Beach.

Hotels go for $250 a night but we figured as we had saved on camping that we could splurge for the night.

Going for a walk down to the water to watch the sunset we found there was a long pier with a rollercoaster and Ferris wheel

Sunset at Laguna Beach
Sunset at Laguna Beach
Ferris wheel at Laguna Beach
Ferris wheel at Laguna Beach

It was a ways away down the beach but it was all lit up for the evening’s fun.

Getting back onto highway 1 we again stopped at beaches, sat in the sand and watched the world go by.

As dark was settling in we found a campsite called Sycamore Canyon Campground and even though it said it was full there were numerous campsites empty so we claimed one.

Only to find out an hour later that all the sites had been reserved whether they were there or not and we would have to go.

But… there were no hotels around and the next campsite was full as well so Rob pulled out the senior and disability cards saying he just wasn’t able to drive any further and basically we weren’t leaving.

The warden finally said that in the day-use area they sometimes let RV’s park there but as we weren’t self-contained we wouldn’t be allowed.

But, we assured her. We were self-contained so the next question was do you have a toilet?

And we said yes we did (pee bucket but we didn’t tell her that) and we got the go-ahead to park in the day parking area.

By this time it was dark and we set up the thunder range, boiled water for the hot water bottles and snuggled into bed.

As I slept I could hear the sound of waves crashing on the beach and it lulled me to sleep.

Awaking the next morning I wondered if I had dreamed the waves as I didn’t think we were that close to the water.

Further inspection showed us if you went under the road through a tunnel there was the ocean and it made a roar as the water met the sand.

As we stood on the other side of the tunnel the water was coming right up to the edge of the wall and as we stood there a small seal came out of the water and headed onto the beach on the other side of the wall.

Seal on Sycamore Canyon Beach
Seal on Sycamore Canyon Beach

If you timed it just right when the waves were out you could scamper around the wall onto the beach beyond.

Rob went first and scared the little seal back into the water as it was just on the other side of the barricade.

I went next and saw this wonderful beach stretching out in front of us.

And… better yet there were shorebirds actively feeding.

The birds turned out to be some Marbled Godwits and a willet.

Marbled Godwit on Sycamore Canyon Beach
Marbled Godwit on Sycamore Canyon Beach
Willet on beach
Willet on beach

Pelicans were doing flybys and seagulls dotted the beach.

Out on the water, we could see the fins of two dolphins as they raced through the water to parts unknown.

Good thing the tide was going out so we made it back past the wall and up to the van seeing some yellow-rumped warblers along the way.

Yellow-rumped warbler on Sycamore Canyon Beach
Yellow-rumped warbler on Sycamore Canyon Beach

Heading out of the campground we almost drove over a Cooper’s hawk having a bath in a mud puddle.

It just sat there and let me take pictures until a lady on a bicycle scared it away.

Cooper's hawk bathing
Cooper’s hawk bathing

Back on the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), we headed up to just above Santa Barbara and took highway 154 and headed away from the coast.

Stopping at Cachuma Lake Recreation Area we had a lovely lunch under a large tree overlooking the lake.

Looking out over Cachuma Lake
Looking out over Cachuma Lake

They said it had been four years since they had any significant rainfall and the lake was at 47% of its capacity.

Back on the road highway 154 turned into highway 101 and we ended up at Pismo Beach for the night.

It was such a beautiful beach we decided to spend the night on it.

You could drive on the beach and about 2 miles down they had an RV camping area. This consisted of just finding our spot in the sand and camping out.

Before we headed down the road we went back into town to get something for dinner (sushi) and then much to Rob’s delight we drove down the beach, pulled out the camping chairs and sat and watched the sun dip below the horizon.

To my delight waking up in the morning, there were plovers, sandpipers, egrets, long-billed curlew and other assorted birds.

Long-billed curlew at Pismo Beach
Long-billed curlew at Pismo Beach
Pelicans at Pismo Beach
Pelicans at Pismo Beach
Snowy Plover at Pismo Beach
Snowy Plover at Pismo Beach
Snowy egret catching crabs
Snowy egret catching crabs

As Rob packed up I ran up and down the beach taking as many pictures as I could.

We continued on highway 1 up to San Fransico and over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Rob at Golden Gate Bridge
Rob at the Golden Gate Bridge

The fog was in abatement and we could see Alcatraz from the lookout on the other side of the bridge.

Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island

There were over 150 people there and we were one of a couple of people wearing masks.

Taking the PCH the drive was full of twists and turns, cliff and no guard rails.

A bit of a hairy drive.

At Olema, we turned right on Sir Francis Drake Blvd and then left on Platform Bridge Road into Petaluma after a long day of driving.

Now Petaluma is an interesting town as the streets don’t run straight. They circle and curve and although we could see some hotels it was almost impossible to get to them.

Along with it being dark and we were tired it made an interesting hunt for a place to sleep.

Rob lucked out on a road that led to a hotel and we settled in for a well-deserved rest.

Blythe to Tamarisk Grove Campground

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Went back on highway 10 and turned left onto highway 78.

Along the way, we saw red-tailed hawks on the hydro poles as well as a kestrel.

Red-tailed hawk
Red-tailed hawk
American Kestrel
American Kestrel

In the fields were sandhill cranes and egrets.

Sandhill cranes in field
Sandhill cranes in a field
Great egret
Great egret

Stopping at different places along the Colorado River to watch the coots and check out other places we might like to camp in the future.

American Coot on Colorado River
American Coot on Colorado River

Our next stop was Glamis which basically is a huge sand dune in the desert where people congregate to ride their dune buggies, ATVs and motorcycles.

In peak season (which is now as it’s Thanksgiving) there can be 200,000 (that’s right, two hundred thousand) people there.

And from what we could see there was a least that many. It is huge.

Motorhome galore and expensive toys were as far as the eye could see.

Rob decided that going down a sand road might be a good idea only to find that when we tried to go up a hill we sank deep into the ground and there we stayed.

Thank heavens a good samaritan came by and towed us out because we wouldn’t have gotten out on our own. Up to the bumper in the sand.

Huge winds were blowing and the air was brown with dust.

Everything in the van is gritty and covered in a fine layer of sand.

Continuing along highway 78 we bypassed Brawley and were heading towards Oceanside.

But… we missed the turnoff and ended up at Salton City.

This is what happens when you don’t have a GPS, are travelling with an old map and we are both gawking at the scenery.

So, we did the next best thing.

Took S22 towards Borrego Springs, turned right on Yaqui Pass Road (S3) and stopped for the night as a little campground called Tamarisk Grove Campground.

Sometimes the mistakes we make are the best ones.

The scenery along the way was magnificent.

There were huge, jagged rocks/mountains and sand valleys which without a picture is really hard to explain.

Basically, think enormous stalagmites with valleys of sand. It looked like you could get lost in a maze of canyons if one walked along the valley floor.

Also, along the way there were more sand dunes and of course along with the dunes comes RV’s, ATV’s and other toys.

They were scattered along a 10 miles stretch in small groups and a little more spread out than at Glamis.

But everyone was having a good time camping, partying and riding through the dunes.

The ground finally gave way to a lush greenery of Skull Valley and miles and miles of white metal fencing. It appeared to enclose a huge ranch that went on as far as the eye could see.

It was starting to get dark and the next town was called Julian but we didn’t know how far it was when we came upon a campground called Tamarisk Grove.

Fortunately, they had 2 spots left and we filled one of them.

For $22 a night we got a campsite close to the washrooms (very important) and bought some firewood.

The firewood was from an avocado tree and when it burned it didn’t snap, crackle or pop. It was the quietest campfire I’ve ever not heard.

Campfire at Tamarisk Grove Campground
Campfire at Tamarisk Grove Campground

Rob found a bush pile behind the site and added fuel to fire to keep it going much longer than just the purchased wood.

In the morning Rob read a sign that said… NO WOOD GATHERING!

Our excuse was it was dark and we didn’t see it. We really didn’t see it until we were ready to leave.

But as we had burned the evidence… no harm, no foul.

Getting up early we headed down highway 78 toward Julian.

Blythe, CA and Burrowing Owls

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We arrived in Blythe just as the sun was setting.

The camp host gave us a list of all the birds in the area as well as the tidbit that there were some burrowing owls in a field about 1/2 mile away.

After we set up camp I went over and asked her directions on how to find the owls.

And basically, they went like this.

Go behind campsite 50 and go down a path.

You will see a trail and you need to duck under a fence.

From there the directions were a little obscure.

It’s sort of like turn right at the burned down church, you know… the one that burned down 7 years ago and there are no longer any visible remains.

From there walk 50 paces and turn left at the large tree and you will come to a Y and take the trail to the left.

Look for little bumps on the bank.

But, I was willing to give it a try.

So, we got up at 5:30 as she said they would be visible between 6-7 am and off we went.

Found campsite 50 and the trail behind it.

Ducked under the fence and started across the field.

And then from there, it went a little sideways.

We ended up walking 2 sides of a ditch. Me on one side and Rob on the other.

Rob found some burrows that could have been dug by the owls, but there was no evidence that they had ever been there.

Drats…

Need more instructions.

Going back to camp Rob fired up the thunder range and we made a couple of hot chocolates and watched the sun come up over the river.

Now, getting up that early has its benefits.

We could hear the sandhill cranes long before we saw them fly over as they made their way to breakfast in a cornfield some distance away.

Next came the herons and egrets flying in the morning light and some sandpipers dipped down onto a sandbar in the middle of the river.

After a hot drink, we needed gas and some groceries so headed back into town and found that we had gone by 2 grocery stores yesterday as we hadn’t recognized the names.

This morning it was fried chicken for breakfast and I have to say it was better than KFC.

But, we did pick up some oatmeal for the next morning.

Driving back we went upriver from the campsite to see if there was any access to the river but the road took a turn away from the water so we headed back to the campsite.

The wind picked up at this time and was howling.

Birds were standing still in flight and trees were bending in the wind.

Turns out this is normal weather for the area at this time of year and I spent the rest of the day reading and Rob puttered around cleaning up the van and all the assorted items we had brought or acquired along the way.

Later that evening as I came out of the washrooms I saw something fly overhead.

Following it to a tree it landed in,  turns out to be a great horned owl. Such a perfect ending to the day.

Got up early the next morning with a new set of instructions for finding the burrowing owls.

Set up across the field and by chance ran into a gentleman walking his dog.

He was 84 and had been coming to this campsite for 15 years.

I explained to him what I was doing and he said “I know exactly where they are and I’m walking that way to I’ll show you where to find them.”

Thank heavens as my new instructions were nowhere near where the owls actually were.

He pointed to a section of the bank where they normally were and walked on.

Pretty soon I saw this little bump on the hill and sure enough, it was a little owl peeking over the top.

Burrowing owl popping its head over the bank
Burrowing owl popping its head over the bank

Further down we could see a couple of other heads just cresting the brim.

If you got too close they would fly into the alfalfa field and hide. Then they would stand up and look around them to see where you were at.

 

Burrowing owl in alfalfa
Burrowing owl in alfalfa
Burrowing owl standing
Burrowing owl standing

Pretty soon they would fly back to the top of the bank and it was then we realized that their burrows were directly under them.

The burrows actually had quite big openings and looked like a larger animal could have lived there. No good pictures of the burrows as they were in the shade.

It was the highlight of the trip so far and I’m so glad I brought my camera.

I had never seen burrowing owls before and was amazed at how small they were (about the size of a robin but rounder)  and it didn’t look like they could turn their heads all around like the barred or great horned owl.

Finally, after taking an untold amount of pictures we headed back to the campsite and decided to pack up as the wind had come up again and showed no signs of letting up.

Back on the road and headed west for the coast.

Camp Verde, AZ to Blythe, CA

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We ended up staying 2 nights in Camp Verde and visited all the places that we normally go to when we are there.

It was a resting place as we had been on the road for a week.

On a lot of the highways we’d been on, Rob was battling high winds so driving was a little stressful.

Staying at a motel (Fort Verde Suites) that we had stayed at before there had been very little changed in the couple of years since we’d been there.

Donna who ran the motel had retired and was replaced by Miss Beverly. I told Rob I wanted to be called Miss Heather but it didn’t catch on. 🙂

And… they no longer served breakfast, which was fine as it had just been some cereal and muffins.

Walking across the street to a great second-hand store we found that it had just been sold. Talking to the last owner on the street he said “after building it up for 25 years he decided that the million-plus dollars that he’d been offered was worth selling it and retiring.”

Our first trip the next morning was to Montezuma Castle which you can read more about here.

 

Montezuma Castle
Montezuma Castle
Montezuma Castle taken with telephoto lens
Montezuma Castle taken with telephoto lens

It was busy as it’s was just a few days before Thanksgiving and our favorite flute player was no longer there as he had moved to Prescott.

In all the parks you are required to wear masks and only 15 people at a time in the gift shops.

We learned today that each county has its own mask policy. Some are very strict and masks are mandatory and in the next county, it’s just recommended or not even mentioned.

Then onto Montezuma Well where the water is tainted with arsenic and yet ducks still winter there.

Montezuma Well
Montezuma Well

There are some ancient ruins in the cliffs around the well and a series of canals that run for miles built by the early inhabitants to irrigate the fields.

From there we went to V Bar V Ranch which has the petroglyphs that Rob loves.

What is left of V Bar V ranch
What is left of V Bar V Ranch

Every year they have a different host/caretaker of the park and this year was no different.

The couple had sold their house

They got notice a week before they had to leave that they got the job as someone else had cancelled. They sold all their worldly good and bought a trailer to call home. They would be there for a few months and their last day would be New Years Day.

From there they will be sent to another park to host and caretaker. There is a whole system set up to have all the parks covered by people from all over the states.

Sort of like being a gypsy.

Rob went and listened to the talk on the ancient drawing while I wandered along the path birdwatching.

This thing is I never even heard a bird let alone see one.

There had been very little wildlife and birds in particular on this trip and I said to Rob that I might as well as left the camera at home.

We had a lovely lunch on a picnic bench from all the leftovers we had accumulated over the past few days and it was wonderful to sit in the shade under a big tree surrounded by nature and feel the heat of the afternoon sun.

Stopping at a second-hand store to browse we got a deal ($2.95) for a night light (to find our way in the dark in hotel rooms), a kettle (as we had the thunder ranges but nothing to make tea with) and a 5 gallon pail (pee bucket) for when we camped.

Going back to our room for a rest and then out to dinner concluded our day and we lit out the next morning heading for Blythe.

Heading south on highway 17 we turned right on highway 169 then onto 69 to Prescott.

Here we missed the junction for highway 89 south but had an adventure going through Iron Springs and Skull Valley on highway 10 only to join up with highway 89 again.

I love these side trips as you get to see so much more of the country.

We wound our way through the mountains with little communities along the way and Skull Valley was made up of a large farming community.

One ranch had miles and miles of metal pole fencing painted white. It was impressive on both sides of the road.

Making it into Blythe before darkness set in was a feat in itself and we went looking for a grocery store to pick up dinner and supplies for the next day as we were going to camp this time around.

Rob had fixed up the van with a bed in the back over the wheel wells and was raised so we could put stuff underneath like chairs, a table and a thunder range.

No grocery stores that we could see, we opted for pizza and headed out to find a spot to camp along the Colorado River.

Heading north on highway 95 we found a spot called Hidden Beaches Resort which we found out later was the place to party. For us it was just a large parking lot with motorhomes parked side by side.

Close by to it was another camping spot completely different than the last. It had huge trees, grass and distance between campers and it was called Mayflower Regional Park.

Birds were singing and we set up camp right by the river.

And so ends our day.

Highlights of camping in the next segment.

Kingman – Camp Verde, AZ

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The hotel in Kingman was less than stellar so we didn’t even take in the complimentary breakfast.

Instead, we thought we would stop at MacDonald’s and eat.

Trouble was, the road we were on was heading out of town and there was no more town left.

We ended up stopping at a gas station and bought some yogurt and kept travelling.

The plan had been to leave Kingman and travel along the old highway 66 which goes up to Peach Springs and ends up in Seligman but… we missed that cut-off as well.

So, we just headed down highway 40 and stopped in Seligman for breakfast.

The town is a tourist town that caters to the fifty’s. The restaurant we ate at was called The Road Kill Cafe.

You kill it we grill it is their motto.

And their menu is just as colourful.

Deciding not to go to the Grand Canyon we drove to Ash Fork and turned down on highway 89. and headed to Camp Verde.

Just before Prescott, we turned off on highway 89A and drove the winding, climbing, twisting, switchback road to Jerome.

It says you can use the road if your vehicle is no longer than 50 feet, but I think a 40 foot motor home would have trouble with it as you would end up using both lanes around some of the corners.

The town is on the top of a mountain and the houses are hanging on the side.

It was a copper mine in the day and now they are giving ghost tours.

We got out and walked around for a bit and looked in all the tourist stores and headed down the mountain.

.On through to Cottonwood and then took highway 260 and ended up in Camp Verde.

It was lovely to get a motel room while it was still daylight and we went for a walk through the old town.

Side note – here is an update on masks:

Going through Washington and Oregon masks were mandatory and everyone wore them.

In California, there was definitely a lack of masks. Very few people wore them and we were in the minority.

From what we’ve seen in Arizona so far is more masks than in California, but it seems to be a personal preference.

In some restaurants, everyone is wearing masks and in others, no one. has one on.

Also, there are lots of billboards letting you know where you can get a booster shot and you could get one at most pharmacies.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print today so I’ll see you tomorrow.

Lodi, CA to Kingman, AZ

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Leaving Lodi Friday morning and headed south.

We spent most of the day driving down I-5 and turned off on Highway 46 towards Wasco and through onto Highway 99 heading for Bakersfield.

Hitting rush hour in Bakersfield we slowly crept our way to Highway 58 and to whatever town was next that had a place to stay.

Turns out that was Tehachapi.

A nice little town with clean hotels and a sushi place right next door.

I know… sushi in the desert but it actually was really good and a nice change from hamburgers and the Taco Bell that Rob made me try.

Leaving Tehachapi this morning and headed east towards Barstow and the Mojave Desert and beyond.

For miles and miles and miles there were giant windmills on the hills as well as ones with smaller blades. There was enough to power a least 1 or 2 cities. It was amazing.

At a rest area, we saw at least 8 ravens but they kept to the shadows so it was hard to get a picture.

Had lunch in Needles before crossing over into Arizona.

And now our holiday begins…

The first place we went was Topock and I took some pictures of a couple of double-crested cormorants who were happy to pose.

double-crested cormorant

I also saw a common moorhen but didn’t get a good picture of it as it was in the reeds.

We got off Highway 40 and went onto the old highway 66 which is called the Oatman highway, stopping at Catfish Paradise.

Having been there before I was sure I would get some good photos, but alas, there were some boats coming in and so the only bird I was able to get a photo of was a female common grackle.

common grackle

This is the time we wish we would have brought a boat with us.

grasses in moor

Tonight we made it to Kingman, AZ and are spending the night here.

Off to bed to await the grand adventure tomorrow.

South Bend, OR to Lodi, CA

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It’s been a couple of days since I last posted but we’ve been mainly just driving.

We left South Bend and followed the coast down to Lincoln City where we spent the night.

Then we went onto Reedsport and from there across on highway 38 to Elkton and down 138 to Sutherlin and got on the I-5 and spent the night in Medford.

Got up this morning and drove most of the day and we are now in Lodi heading to Bakersfield and beyond tomorrow.

Highlights:

I haven’t taken many pictures as we’ve just been driving, but there are a lot of quaint towns along the Washington and Oregon coast and the scenery is magnificent.

The views are so big you almost can’t capture them with a camera.


It also appears that the locals don’t know the area beyond their town as whenever we asked directions about places to stay we were sent in the wrong direction or down a road that definitely didn’t lead to anywhere.

Stopping at the sea lion caves we found that the sea lions didn’t realize we were coming and were out fishing.

Not only that but the elevator was broken and the caves were closed but it was a nice place to get out and stretch our legs and see the view.

I said to Rob that we were spoiled as although our coast doesn’t look the same we get to see the ocean every day and watch the waves.

So, we headed inland.

From Reedsport to Sutherlin was a lovely drive. You followed the Umpqua River through a valley that was lush and green.

The whole valley was made up of large farms (mainly beef cattle) and fields and fields of grapes.

Through the area, we saw elk and a few bison that posed for a photo shoot.

And then once we got to the I-5 the scenery became a little less interesting but a whole lot faster to get where you were going.

Today we saw acre after acre of olive groves as well as some rice fields filled with ducks and every once in a while you’d see an orange tree.

Rob drove and I napped and here we are in Lodi to be lulled to sleep by the traffic outside the hotel window.

Sweet dreams!

Day 1 – Sooke, BC to South Bend, WA

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Got up early this morning and headed for the ferry during a torrential downpour.

We had a ferry reservation for sailing from Victoria to Port Angeles, WA at 10:30 and we needed to be there 90 minutes before sailing in order to go through customs.

Leaving home at 7:30 we figured we had plenty of time to get to Victoria as it usually only takes about 50 minutes.

It took us two and a half hours to get to the ferry. A new all-time record.

The main road out of Sooke was flooded so we ended up going via East Sooke at a snail’s pace.

It wasn’t until we got to a river across the road that we found what was holding up the traffic.

Turns out low-riding cars weren’t able to get through without stalling so they were having to turn around. Thank heavens we were in the van so driving slowly we made it through just fine and after that, the traffic sped up.

Getting to the ferry with minutes to spare they still took our reservation and closed the gate after the next car behind us.

The wind had come up so not only was it raining but the boat was battling high waves and being buffeted around. Made for a rough crossing.

We stayed downstairs trying to nap but someone forgot to turn their car alarm off and it keep sounding throughout the voyage.

Finally arriving in Port Angeles the weather dawned bright and blue.

It was such a relief to get out of the rain and gloom of the past few days.

On the way out of town, we stopped and got some Kentucky Fried Chicken (extra crispy) and headed towards Aberdeen on Hwy 101 which was our destination for the night.

Turns out they also got a lot of rain over the past few days and the rivers were swollen.

Not just swollen but a lot of them had actually given birth and had overflowed their banks leaving trees across the road, fields like lakes and ponds in front lawns.

Some houses along the shore had water right up to their doorstep and others had their foundations submerged.

On the bright side, we saw a herd of at least 20 elk by the side of the road, grazing in a pasture. The rain had started again so no photos are forthcoming.

We cut off on highway 108 towards Aberdeen and turned left when we got there before going down the main street and were back on the highway before we knew it.

Sufficed to say we are not in Aberdeen tonight but in a coastal town called South Bend.

Our intention is always to find a motel to stay in before it gets dark, but this very rarely happens and today was no exception.

All the motels we encountered along the way looked less than stellar so we kept driving.

The skies had cleared once more and the moon was almost full and shimming on the water and there was little or no traffic which made driving easier.

And here we are in South Bend in a nice clean motel with a living room, kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms which we got a great deal on a long as we agreed not to use the second bedroom.

It’s 11 pm and I’m off to bed to dream about tomorrow’s next great adventure.