July 19-30: Oregon

As we traveled north up California, redwood trees lined the road. It continued to be a beautiful drive as the river and road shared the same path through the giant trees as we made our way to Oregon.

Our first stop in Oregon was at Grants Pass, where we spent two days just chilling and enjoying our splendid location by the river, watching the tubers and rafters float by.

From there, we had an easy 3 hour drive on the scenic byway as we made our way further into Oregon on our way to Crater Lake.

Crater Lake was the first National Park where we actually got to stay in the park because they had campsites just barely long enough for our rv. So this was our first time really boondocking with no water, electricity, or sewer facilities for us to tap into. It was a good opportunity for us to test out our fresh water tanks and solar setup.

We took a Trolly tour around the lake. It was very informative and our tour guide was extremely entertaining. An 11 mile stretch of the road was closed for repairs which have been going on for a few years. For some reason, on this morning they decided to let our trolly go all the way around the lake and test out the road. We were the only people who got to drive all the way around the lake in over two years and it will be a number of years before they finish the project and allow people to go all the way around. Turns out, they decided it was too dangerous as we almost got stuck several times. We were the only ones to go around and it will be about a year before they try again. Because we got to go all the way around, we got to see Hellcat viewpoint, which visitors have not been able to see since the construction started. It is a stunning lake with breath taking views. Such an incredible color of blue.

The next day we went on a hike in the park to find the wildflowers and boy did we. So many colors, sizes and shapes all blanketing the hillside where a creek makes small but beautiful waterfalls. The Crescent Castle trail was amazing.

We found a great walk near the campground, Annie’s Creek trail where the dogs got to cool off in the snow fed stream. Even on this warm afternoon the dogs could only be in the water for small amounts of time.

Back at our site we enjoyed a yummy dinner on this beautiful summer day.

We went over to the park at night to take advantage of our marvelous surroundings and watch the sunset over the mountains. The reflection on the lake was just as stunning. We tried to participate in the night program to learn more about the dark sky, but the clouds interfered with the ability to use the telescope. It would be a great place to view the night sky, as the light pollution is non-existent.

As we left the lake, our drive to Eugene gave us lots to look at. An amazing reservoir, smoke on the horizon from wildfires, and tall pine trees for as far as our eyes can see, it looks exactly like what we thought Oregon would look like.

We enjoyed one quick night in Eugene and then got up early to make our way to McMinnville, OR to meet up with Don and Mel. Our campground was within walking distance to a large waterpark that had a giant 747 on the roof that housed one of the water slides.

Chance is a great helper and especially loves to help write the blog.

Don and Mel came out for a visit to enjoy Oregon wine country with us. The first stop on our Willamette Valley wine tour was Amaterra Winery just outside of Portland. We choose this location because Ella will be working here starting in just a few weeks in the lab.

Don traditionally does not drink wine, so our goal with this trip was to expose him to a variety of wines, so he could hopefully expand his palate.

We spent the afternoon visiting Ponzi Winery taking a closer look at the inner workings of the wine making process.

The next day we went out adventuring and found ourselves partaking at a few more wineries, Left Coast, Sokol Blosser and Willamette Valley.

Ella joined us on the RV after 4 days of non-stop driving across the country with her backseat and trunk full. She was moving to the Portland area to begin her new job. We were excited to spend the next three days exploring more of this wine region with her and helping her see the other side of the business she was getting into. We toured the cellars at Archery Summit, walked the grounds at Elk Cove and we sat among the grapes vines at Domaine Serene, all while tasting the unique offerings that each winery had available. It was a delicious learning experience.

Don and Mel stayed at a neat little VRBO that was actually a guest house on a vineyard. We had a great time hanging out there with the dogs in the spacious yard.

After 5 fun days of wandering through wine country, we had to say goodbye to Don and Mel. It had been a quiet week at home for Addie and the dogs. The laws in Oregon do not allow anyone under 21 in any of their wineries, breweries or bars.

As a special treat to Addie, we wanted to do something we knew she would love. Lucky for us, the small town of McMinnville had a local community theater and they happened to be preforming, Pride and Prejudice. After enjoying a delightful dinner at a hometown favorite, the four of us walked over to the little playhouse for the show. It was the smallest theater we have ever been in, only seating about 75 people and they were sold out.

The next day we helped Ella move into her new place in Beaverton, OR. She found a great townhouse with a room to rent. It is a nice space and an easy 20 minute drive to work.

For our last meal with Ella we wanted to it to be somewhere special, so there was only one possible place that could be. We were very excited to get to enjoy the food and wine with Ella at her place of employment, Amaterra. It is truly a beautiful location with delightful wine.

We were sad to have to say goodbye to Ella, but we had to keep moving and she needed to get settled before starting her new job.

It was with a heavy heart we saw our last sunset in Oregon. It was time to continue north and let our eyes see new things. We had one more state to see on the west coast and friends to find in Washington.

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!