Sunday, August 14, 2016

Cruise blues and other news~~~

We took a 7 day Alaska cruise out of Seattle aboard the Norwegian  cruise line's ship Jewel.  Our accommodations were perfect;  a mini-suite with a full balcony.  Daughter Steph took care of all the booking and what a good job she did.  We had tons of space and beautiful views.

Photo from our balcony ~ Ship leaving Seattle

The first two days were spent at sea and by the end of the second day as we pull into Ketchikan Howard had full blown gout in his right foot, making walking long distances very painful.  There is a lot of walking on a gigantic cruise ship not to mention the shore excursions we planned to do, but alas, it was not meant to be.  By the time we got to our first destination, Ketchikan, we were resolved to the fact we wouldn't be doing much more that sitting on our balcony and watching the incredible scenery drift by.  Plus we had mostly nasty weather, rain and fog for 6 of our 7 days.  The sun came out in Victoria, BC on our last day. Nevertheless, we enjoyed ourselves immensely, eating delicious cruise ship cuisine, and enjoying a trip of a lifetime.  Here's the ship's itinerary:

  1. Ketchikan, our first stop, has a population of just over 8,000 and is the fifth most populous city in the state of Alaska. Local economy is based on tourism and fishing, hence the title of salmon capital of the world.
  2. Our next stop is Juneau, Alaska's 3rd largest city by population.  Anchorage is first with just over 300,00.  The Aurora Borealis or Northern lights can be seen on clear nights from August through April, usually over Mt. Juneau.  There are lots of shore excursions including whale watching and trips to the Mendenhall Glacier.
  3. Skagway is home to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and to both the White Pass Scenic Railway and Chilkoot Trails, two famous paths in and out of town.  
  4. After another day at sea we arrived in Victoria, BC.  We've been to Victoria many times and visited Bouchart Gardens, the Empress Hotel, and the beautiful Parliament Building. The downtown and marina areas make for a good walking tour..
  5. Next stop Seattle.
Along the way we saw ice bergs and glaciers, quaint towns and seaports. There was a lot of fog and rain but our balcony was covered and there were large sliding glass doors to enjoy the views. Sure we missed out on some good shore excursions, but we made the most out of our days, depending on Howard's comfort level. 
Marina in Ketchikan

Cool, foggy days


We returned to the Elk's lodge in Port Townsend for a few more days, then decided to take the ferry and spend some time in Anacortes.  More on that later.  We'll be returning to Port Townsend to our "happy place" at the marina where we have a waterfront view, August 18-30.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

21 Years of full-time RVing

Yep, this year marks our 21st anniversary of living and traveling full-time in a motorhome.  We've had two, a 91 Dolphin MH and the Country Coach we have now, purchased in 2001. Those first few years we did a lot of driving, trying to cram as many locations as possible in a period of a few days.  It was nothing for us to drive cross-country a couple of times a year.

In 1995 we had two grandchildren born, Daniel in Sun Valley, Idaho and Noelle in Redwood City, CA.  We were there for both!  Oh the joys of being mobile!

One of our bucket list locations was Zion National Park. The photo below was take on a walk along the Virgin river toward the Narrows. We stayed in the national park campgound, enjoyed summer days, barbecued dinners, and lots of walks.  We always put our awning up before we go in for the evening....accept for one night.  The day was balmy, no wind.  Not good as it turns out!

About 1 a.m. in the early morning hours we had a loud knock on our door.  It was the park ranger saying we had to evacuate immediately.  There had been a landslide and the Virgin River was rapidly reaching flood level.  We had a mess outside to put away, especially the awning put. We filed in with a bunch of other campers and followed the ranger up to higher ground.  The next day we found out the hotel was isolated by the slide and patrons were stranded.  Supplies were rapidly running out.

  Our cozy campsite at Zion before all hell broke loose.  Notice all the stuff that had to be put away at 1 a.m. when the ranger told us we had to evacuate,

What follows in a series of old photos taken from road trips we visited in the first few years. The pics should provide a lot of laughs.

At Arches National Park

At Capitol Reef, we think.  

At Bryce Canyon National Park

At Mount Rushmore

At Devil's Tower

Crater Lake

Campeche, MX

Admiring the electric in Campeche, MX

Howard climbs to the top of the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itsa

I however, did not make it to the top.  Too steep and scary!

Sunset cruise at Acapulco, MX

Rafting the Salmon River in Idaho with Bill and Carol

At Glacier National Park

Tunnels at Custer State Park, in South Dakota

Mount Rushmore

Hot springs by the Rio Grande, Big Bend NP

Hiking at Big Bend

The marina in Victoria,  British Columbia

Native dances in downtown Vancouver, BC

Liard River Hot Springs BC, on the road to Alaska

The London Bridge at Lake Havasu, Arizona

This is enough for now!  I will continue to work toward the present in future issues.  Many thanks to daughter, Terri, who spent a lot of time going through boxes of old photos and scanning them.

Our current location is the Elks Lodge in Port Townsend, very nice for $20 per night. We will be allowed to leave the motorhome here when we go on our cruise to Alaska on July 23rd.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

We've been anchored far too long!

It's true, we've been anchored here in Petaluma in a comfy existence that is becoming habit forming, but there is a plan formulating, though.  We're spending the 4th of July weekend with family in Loomis, then head out Tuesday for Kaiser Brake and Alignment in Eugene.  Need to get our brakes checked out.  Part of the ongoing maintenance of an RV.  Then we'll continue on up to the Escapees Park in Chimacun, WA and see if we can get a site and store the MH while on our week long cruise to Alaska.  Getting pretty excited about that part!  After the cruise we look forward to our August annual time at the Point Hudson marina RV parking in Port Townsend.  We always get the same site 361 which is right on the water and no hookups. This not only affords us primo boat and water gazing but is $25 compared to $45 per site for hookups.

I have not been blogging very often since we have been in one place for so long. Thst will change once we start our summer adventure. So please check on us once in a while.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Back in Petaluma..

We've now been back in Petaluma for 3 weeks, staying here at the Elks Lodge, getting routine medical stuff done, visiting with friends and family. Food consumption is at an all time high.  I need to remember our cruise in 9 weeks, and cut back if I want to fit into my clothes. We've done a little shopping in that regard but have a lot more to do.  We're hoping to be able to leave the motorhome in Chimacum at the Escapees Evergreen Coho RV park.  We'll drive the car into Seattle and park at the cruise parking lot for the week we're gone.

RV parking at the Petaluma Elks
Old railroad deport is now the Visitors center

Classic downtown of mid 1800 Victorian architecture

Lots of farm stands and farmers markets

Our central location allows us to visit with all the family: in Half Moon Bay, Loomis, and of course Petaluma.  It also allows us easy access to lots of scenic places like Bodega Bay, Calistoga in the wine country, Lake Tahoe and more. So we're taking a few short trips just to break up the routine.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Pismo Beach getaway...

We spent two glorious weeks at the North Beach campground of Pismo Beach State Park.  What did we do?  Absolutely nothing but stroll the beach, walk into town, visit with our local friend, Edna. Read, shop, nap, and eat....some serious down time, and it felt wonderful!

We stopped in Half Moon Bay on our way back to Petaluma and spent two wonderful days with our family and youngest grands, Liliana and Damien.  Terri fixed her excellent prime rib roast and baked a lemon cake using the delicious Meyer lemons from the tree in their backyard.  Again, eating was high on the list.

A special visitor...Liliana

We have a cruise to Alaska planned for July (23-30) and we both really need to drop several pounds before we go since we know we'll be eating non-stop for 7 days aboard ship, Norwegian Cruise Lines. This will be our first "proper" cruise.  Our only other experience was aboard a tall sailing ship (2011) where we departed from Barbados, transited the Panama Canal, and disembarked in Costa Rica. Three weeks of wonderful food, drink, and shore tours. But first, we need to do some major shopping for appropriate cruise wear (whatever that is!).

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Home territory, around Petaluma.....

For the last couple of weeks we've been at our "home" base at the Petaluma Elks Lodge.  This is our "go to" place for visiting family and sightseeing around the Bay Area.  The sites are situated in a parking lot style and go for $25 per night.  It's recommended that reservations be made.

Nearby is Shollenberger Park, a beautiful bird sanctuary with a great trail system for much-needed walks and jogs.  With all the recent rains, the lake is now full of water.  The park also borders the Petaluma river which flows through downtown.

Shollenberger trail along the Petaluma River...

We had a wonderful surprise visit from our Canadian friends, Dan & Heather.  We first met them in Anza Borrego over a year ago, then again last summer when we visited them at their Sushwap home in British Columbia. We took them over to meet our Petaluma family, Norm, Wendy, Christina, and of course, Annie the Lab.  Norm fixed delicious smoked chickens served with a fresh green salad. The next day we showed them around Petaluma and had lunch at Dempsey's.  Later Heather fixed a scrumptious dinner of shrimp and pineapple on the barbie.  The next morning before they hit the road heading north to BC, Heather insisted on fixing us all a delicious breakfast of eggs Benedict. Eating was definitely the theme of each day!

Heather, Dan and Howard in Anza Borrego

One of the good things about our location is easy access to special sightseeing venues.  We needed a getaway and decided to drive over to the Pt. Reyes National Seashore on a beautiful spring day.

A beautiful sight from on top...

Blooming ice plant and drift wood along the beach...

That's a lot of steps!

So now to bring us current~~We've decided to break up our stay in Petaluma with a series of side trips to favorite locations.  Pismo Beach was an easy day's drive so here we are at the North Beach State Park campground.  We hope to stay 2 weeks.  Good friend Edna lives nearby and there are lots of good restaurants and wineries for our dining and sipping pleasure.  Plus there's a beach, perfect for Howard's jogging and my walking toward the pier and into town.

Posing amongst the Eucalyptus....

Walking along the beach towards town...

Heron fishing!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Big Bend was a bust!

Bad timing and poor planning didn't bode well for getting in to Big Bend National Park.  We had been looking so forward to returning to this beautiful park after several years but arrived without reservations in the middle of Spring Break activity.  Why, we thought, it can't be that time already. We were only able to get 2 nights at an RV park in Study Butte after driving down to the Visitor's Center and were informed that all the park campgrounds were full.  Two days, actually one after all our running around, was not enough to cover the enormity of this park and all its splendor.  Out of pure frustration we decided to leave after two days and start the long trek back to the SF Bay Area and Petaluma.

Murals tell the story of Alpine's past and present.

We spent a week in Alpine before heading down to Big Bend and enjoyed day trips to Marfa and Fort Davis, and up to the McDonald Observatory.  Our mail caught up with us and I got a much-needed haircut!

Exploring Marfa and Terlingua.

We just spent a wonderful Easter at daughter Stephanie's in Loomis, east of Sacramento, and our Half Moon Bay family drove up for a couple of days.  We are now back in Petaluma planning some getaways for the next few months before our Alaskan cruise in July.