June 28-July 18: Heading North in CA

As we continued our journey up California, this day would take us to another beautiful and well known lake. The drive to get to Lake Tahoe took us up and around some beautiful snow covered mountains. As we got close to South Lake Tahoe we drove by the picture perfect Echo Lake. It was absolutely stunning.

Our friends Don and Mel are coming to meet up with us in Tahoe! The five of us and the dogs would be staying in an AirBNB. Our place had a nice spot right in the front of the house where we parked the RV for the five nights.

We were the first to arrive and waited eagerly for Don and Mel.

And once they arrived, the dogs would not leave them alone the whole time.

It was a great neighborhood for dog walks.

Our first outing was a drive around all of Lake Tahoe to check things out. This 72 mile drive took about 3 hours because of all the stops along the way. The lake was beautiful and so clear. Unfortunately, it was the height of pollen season and a green film covered everything, especially the top of the water.

Our meet up in Lake Tahoe was over 10 months in the making. We had been trying to find a place to see one of our favorite bands and we finally found it. We had a great time seeing Old Dominion in concert at Harvey’s Outdoor Arena, on an absolutely gorgeous night.

While in Tahoe, we enjoyed checking out the area establishments. There was no shortage of local breweries. In between brewery hopping, we found some fun local art galleries to explore.

We could not be so close to water and not be on it, so of course we rented a boat for the day. It was another glorious day, perfect to be on the water. We cruised around the lake and marveled at it’s beauty. Emerald Bay was definitely the place to be. We opened a few beverages and floated around. Notice I did not say swam around because the water was a cool 60F.

The dogs waited patiently at the house while we went out adventuring.

Until they finally passed out!

We got a little extra excitement while here. On our first night our rv had a visitor. A bear tried his best to get into the RV. He ripped the hand rail off, climbed up on the door and pushed the middle of the door in. There was no denying it was a bear. He left his foot prints. Every house has a bear box to put your trash in that locks. I guess that should have been a clue that the bears here mean business. It turns out that Hank the Tank was a pretty famous bear -he broke into over 20 homes and tried to in countless others (including our rv) before he was finally captured. We feel very fortunate that he only left his mark on the outside of the RV.

After a great week in Tahoe we said goodbye to Don and Mel and made our way to wine country in Napa, CA.

We made it just in time for July 4th.

We celebrated July 4th at the Napa hometown parade with front row seats at the local champagne bar. It reminded us of a Blowing Rock parade, but way better because of the great seats and tasty beverages.

One of the most unique things we have ever seen in a parade were the Los Diablos Oaxaquenos del Valle dance group. They were mesmerizing with their unique masks and customs. We could not take our eyes off them but at the same time were almost afraid to look at them.

As she experiences new and different places, Addie’s palette continues to expand. On this afternoon she was willing to try chicken wings for the first time and she enjoyed them!

Talk about being at home.

Around every corner and down every road, there are so many wineries to explore. Our tour began in Sonoma in the Anderson Valley. We had a date day, with our first tasting at Pangloss Winery and a second at Emeritus Winery. Each experience was unique from the wine to the accompaniments to the incredible views.

The next day Addie joined us and we soaked in the yummy goodies and beautiful views at Gundlach Bundschu Winery. It was a gorgeous day in the valley.

We decided to take our wine tasting up a notch and learn more about the process of making the wine. We toured through the wine cellars at Far Niente Winery before tasting 8 or so of their reserved wines along with perfectly paired crudités.

Then, at Darioush, we walked through the vineyard sipping wine and studying the grapes, before heading inside to savor 4 amazing wines that the chef had skillfully paired with exquisite cheese bites.

The last stop of the day landed us at Stags Leap Cellars. For this tasting, we had the best seats in the house. Situated on the patio, we had front row seats on a comfy couch looking out at the fields of grapes. It was a sensational day of learning, drinking and eating.

But at last it was time to move, but not too far – just a little north up to the Russian River Valley. California has a lot of wine regions and we were excited to try as many as we could.

We found our spot in Cloverdale, CA at the Thousands Trails campground. This was a first for us and probably a last. Thousand Trails have a first come first serve policy. You can reserve a site but you have not idea until you get there where or what kind of site you will get. You drive around the campground with the RV to find an open site. We grabbed the first site we saw that was long enough for us and relatively flat. These sites were so close to each other! Needless to say we were able to pass the Grey Poupon to our neighbors through an open window.

Before hitting more wineries, we decided to go see the Pacific coast so Ashley could visit the famous Fort Bragg Sea Glass Beach. It was an amazing drive through the giant redwood trees to get to the coast. These were our first views of both. The coastline of CA is so vastly different than what we know on the east coast.

Fort Bragg Sea Glass Beach did not disappoint. It felt great to be at the coast, smelling the salt air, feeling the wind in our hair and of course searching for sea glass treasures. The dogs loved it too. We even saw a few sea lions sunning themselves on the rocks.

After a fun morning of treasure hunting, we were all hungry and thirsty. Luckily we happened upon North Coast Brewing Company. Addie enjoyed the biggest fried shrimp she had ever had.

Our drive home took us through Anderson Valley. We made a quick stop at Lula Cellars Winery. The Pinot Noir was especially enjoyable on this pleasant afternoon.

Ashley used her new sea glass to make this tree of life.

Shannon had one last surprise up his sleeve. The first time we visited the Napa area in 2012 we tasted at Jordon as well as Silver Oak and have been big fans ever since. It was super fun to explore the cellars and see the inner workings at Jordon 11 years later. Then we enjoyed a private tasting at the newer Silver Oak location in Russian River Valley.

Addie and the dogs had a relaxing day at the RV while we were out wine tasting.

As a special treat to Addie for being such a good dog sitter, we all three went to Francis Ford Coppola Winery for dinner. She absolutely loves his movie, The Outsiders, and since that night she has vowed to watch as many of his movies as she can.

Having restocked our wine supply, we said goodbye to CA wine country and made our way to Myers Flats, CA in search of the giant redwood trees.

We lowered the stabilizers and put out the camp chairs at Giant Redwoods RV surrounded by a beautiful green background.

The coast of California is home to the Redwood National Park as well as three CA Redwood State Parks that all sort of function as one. We started our exploration at Humboldt Redwoods SP.

Excited to see and learn more about these huge trees, we were up early and on our way. With just one full day in the area, we wanted to make the most of it. We spent the morning checking out the Visitors Center as well as a few of the shorter hikes around the park. The redwood trees were absolutely amazing, so incredibly tall, most over 200ft with massive trunks and roots.

Then we spent the afternoon down by the river at the campground, cooling off in the crystal clear Eel River. Chance had a blast playing fetch with his ball in the water and Caper swam around checking things out.

The next day we drove to our next spot in Crescent City, CA. It was not exactly swimming weather at 59 degrees. We spent 3 nights at Village Camper Inn which gave us two days to explore and check things out.

Our adventure here started in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. We had to get a permit to visit Fern Canyon and Golds Bluff Beach, so we knew those were things we had to do. And so glad we did. Both were wonderful and unique. Fern Canyon was lush and green.

A short walk from the same parking lot led us to Gold Bluff Beach where a gang of elk were relaxing in the sea grass, enjoying the misty day. The beach provided many beautiful stones for collecting, but we were surprised at all the dead Dungeness crab on the beach.

We went in search of more big trees on our drive home and this is what we found… The BIG TREE!

Parched from all our explorations, it was time for refueling. Lucky for us, the highest rated restaurant in town just happened to be a brewery with great beer on tap.

On our last day in Redwoods National Park we discovered our favorite hike. We strolled through Stout Grove and soaked in the beauty of these giants. The peace and serenity we found here was like nowhere else. These giant trees are truly a wonder to be seen.

Our spot in Crescent City was super close to the coast. They have a very cool lighthouse on an island that most of the time at low tide you can walk over to and see. Unfortunately for us, the tides were never low enough for us to check it out up close during our stay.

We had a great time exploring California over the past few weeks. Our hunt for new and wonderful sights proved very rewarding. So many awesome wonders to discover and enjoy. Excited to know that we will be spending even more time in CA in a few months. For now, our travels will continue to take us north. Oregon here we come!

One thought on “June 28-July 18: Heading North in CA”

  1. Thanks! Sounds like you are having such a wonderful trip. So glad you got to stop at the beach at Fort Ross. I think it’s a pretty magical place. Safe travels.

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