Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Long Hard Driving Day

We left Eureka with a goal of making it South of San Francisco.  Looking at our options, we thought the Thousand Trails Preserve at Morgan Hill would be a good overnight stop. 

The road started out really good with 4 lane divided highway that we were on the previous day.  But when we got to the Richardson Grove area it turned into a narrow 2 lane road with tight curves all the way down to Leggett.  They didn’t want to cut down any of the old Redwoods, which is a good thing, but it did make for some slow driving.

After that it got better as we made the slough through Sonoma Wine Country, Santa Rosa, and Marin County.  We were careful because we didn’t want to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and get dumped into downtown San Francisco, so we took the east side freeway, I-580  past San Quentin and over the Richmond Bridge.



We rejoined the 101 south of San Jose, and an hour later we were pulling into Morgan Hill after about 8 hours on the road.  And did I mention that there’s no rest stops on this whole drive, so stopping is difficult.  This is a typical TTN preserve, meant for camping, not overnight stops.  All the sights were gravel and in trees.  The park was pretty full and we had a little trouble finding a site.  They’re all 30amp sites with no sewer, which was fine because we were just going to be there overnight.  The layout is a little different from most campgrounds in that the utilities for 2 sites are in the middle, so one rig pulls in facing one way, and another rig pulls in the opposite way.

Tomorrow will be a short drive to Santa Maria where we’ll spend 2 nights preparing ourselves for the final drive through Los Angeles.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Tallest, But Not the Oldest or Largest

We’re talking about the coastal redwoods in our blog title today.  We drove south heading for the Avenue of the Giants.  But we wanted to make a couple of stops first.

Our first stop was the big city of Loleta, with a population of about 500 souls.  The reason we wanted to stop was the Loleta Cheese factory.  As most of you know, or can tell by looking at me, I love cheese and this factory makes over 30 varieties.



They had samples of everything.  We ended up buying some sharp cheddar, jack with garden vegetables, and a very creamy fontina.  It was a very good stop.

Around the corner from the cheese factory was the Loleta Bakery.  I had to stop there to check out the cinnamon rolls.  They were really good, and we also bought a loaf of sourdough bread, which we enjoyed over the next few days.

Our next stop was Ferndale, CA.  It’s a Victorian village in the middle of farms.  The whole city is a National Historic Site.  Here’s some pictures of the downtown area.



It had some great shops and galleys along the downtown area.


Finally we made to the Avenue of the Giants.  It’s the home of the Coastal Redwoods, which are a different species from the Sequoias near Yosemite.  The costal redwoods are the tallest trees, and the sequoias are the largest trees.  And by the way, the oldest trees are the bristlecone pines, also in California.

We followed the twisty, curvy road in and out of the forest along the Eel River.  The highlight was the Founder’s Grove in the Rockefeller Forest.




It is absolutey awe inspiring to be among these old, graceful trees that were here before Jesus was born.  It really brings a sense of joy and wellbeing to us just to be here hiking among the trees.

We went to the Humboldt Visitor’s Center to learn more about the forest and how they were saved from logging.  A highlight was the MotorHome that was constructed from a single redwood log.



It was a great day in the Humboldt County and the Redwoods.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Welcome Back to California

We left Coos Bay and started South.  Some of the area we had covered the day before, but after Port Orford we were breaking new ground.  US 101 in Central & Southern California is a good road, but up here in Southern Oregon and extreme Northern California it has some very tight turns and narrow roads.


We saw some beautiful coves near Brookings, OR.



We crossed over into California near Crescent City where the US got hit by the Japanese Tsunami.  We didn’t see any remaining damage in the harbor.  We knew we were back in CA when we started seeing the roadside attractions such as Paul Bunyan.


And then more narrow curvy roads.


When I’m driving the MoHo I always believe those 30 MPH signs, and slow way down. 

We ended up staying at in Eureka, CA, at the Shoreline RV park.  It was OK, but not one we will probably go back to.  It was right off 101 so there was a little road noise, and the sites were pretty narrow.

Tomorrow we’re going to tour some of the Redwood Parks.  More interesting posts then.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Southern Oregon Coast

The next day of our stay at the Mill Casino we decided to head South to explore the coast.  Our first stop was Bandon, an historic downtown and a world famous golf course, Bandon Dunes.  There are four different courses here, with summer green fees at $225 a round if you’re staying at the resort, or $275 for the public.  Here’s a photo from the website.


It’s quite a complex for being miles away from any major city.  The closest airport is in Coos Bay, unless you have a private plane to land at the resort.  I guess it’s really nice to be rich & famous.

One of the highlights of the area are the cranberry bogs.  Most people don’t realize that Oregon grows cranberries, and Bandon is the center of the production.  In fact they have a cranberry festival, and the 65th annual festival is Sept. 9-11.  The bogs we saw didn’t really show any growth yet.  5% of the total U.S. production of cranberries come from the Bandon area.  And one of the stores in the downtown area was a candy store, Cranberry Sweets & More.  They used jellied fruit to create unique candy.  It’s available by mail order if you’re interested.

We continued further down the coast.  Our next stop was the Cape Blanco Lighthouse.  It dates back to 1870.


The view from the top of the lighthouse was great.



As you tell from the photos, the good weather didn’t stay very long.  But we didn’t let it stop us from exploring.  Here’s the stairs going up to the light.


Next we stopped in Port Orford.  We were looking for a nice restaurant for lunch.  We almost gave up when we saw a vista point parking area, and parked the car.  Looking behind us we saw a new cafĂ©, Redfish.  It’s located next to Battle Rock, the site of a battle between the first settlers and the local band of Indians. 


The food was fantastic.  I had the seafood chowder, which included anything that was fresh that day.  It was the best chowder I’ve ever had.  Linda had the oven roasted turkey breast on walnut cranberry bread with oven roasted fingerling potatoes that were fantastic.  The restaurant was located next to the Hawthorne Gallery.  Sadly it was closed that day, but I was able to get a picture of one of it’s wooden sculptures.


We headed back to the MoHo, enjoying the reverse drive.  We’ve found that you see things differently if you drive back along the same route from the opposite direction. 

Next we’ll head to California on our way back south.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Day Turns Into Night

We left the rally after a lot of hugs & handshakes.  We had a wonderful time and met a lot of great people.  We hope we can attend the next rally in September at 7 Feathers RV Resort.  You can read our review of the RV park here.

We had an appointment with Coach Glass to have our windshield replaced.  We anticipated spending most of the day in Eugene as the glass has to set for four hours before the MoHo could be moved to prevent future leaks.  So we went over to Valley River Center to do some sales tax free shopping.  We used to shop here when we lived in Albany.  While we were there I received a phone call from the installers.  It seems when we had the windshield when we first got the coach, they used silicon to stop some leaks.  That is a no-no, as it affects the gasket that the windshield sits in.  That meant that the gasket has to be replaced for another $500, and the MoHo couldn’t be moved for 24 hours.  Luckily, we were able to stay in the coach overnight where the work was being done, and we even had power so that we didn’t have to run the generator. 

We left the next afternoon and we didn’t have plans on where to stay.  We knew we wanted to visit the coast so we headed to Florence, which is directly west of Eugene.  When we got there, we checked out the local casino, Three Rivers.


It used to be in a tent, and now it’s a first rate facility.  As you can see the weather improved as we drove to the coast, so we decided to go further south.  Our good friend Maggie gave us a certificate for a free night at the Mill Casino in Coos Bay so we stopped there for two nights.  They have a vacant area in their parking lot for boondocking, and a nice RV park overlooking the bay.  We had a bay view site, here’s the scene from our new front windshield.


After dinner I decided to head towards the coast to try to photograph a nice sunset.  I got some nice pictures, but the sunset wasn’t that great.  First I stopped in Charleston where all the boats moored near the ocean.


The area doesn’t look to prosperous, the restaurant is closed along with the tackle shop.  I don’t know if it’s because of the recession, or poor fishing conditions.

Here’s a few of the photos I took at some of the state parks right on the ocean.



And there’s a lighthouse there where there’s no public access.  This is as close as I could get to it.


It was fun exploring a new to me area of the Oregon Coast.  Every area is beautiful.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Monaco Northwest Rally Day 5

As usual our day started with a nice breakfast from the RV resort.  After the meal, the different teams met to discuss their future rally plans.  There are 5 different teams, and each team rotates the Spring & Fall rallies.  They come up with different locations, themes, and rally masters.  This rally was put on by Team C with Dave & Cheryl Anderson on the right, and Ron & Dona Davis on the left as rally masters.


After the team meetings the official business meeting started.  Here’s the President, Allan Kainu, calling the meeting to order.


There was a special presentation from the FMCA Northwest VP for the 25th anniversary of the forming of the Monaco Northwest Chapter.


All of the teams made their individual reports, the treasurer made her report, and motions were made and passed.  A special couple, Ben & Donna Barker were honored for all of their volunteer work.

IMG_5615After the business meeting, everyone had free time to do different things.  We went back into Junction City to restock the bar, and we stopped by a RV refurbishing center looking at floors and perhaps a new leather couch.  But we left without purchasing anything.

The dinner the last night was Prime Rib & grilled chicken.  And we brought some special wine for the Louie Martini Cabernet Sauvignon, and Frei Brothers Chardonnay, both award winning wines.  The meal was terrific, and the wine disappeared.  As you can tell, when we’re with our RV friends, we eat very well, and we drink very well.


Well, that’s the end of our two rallies in Oregon.  We had a great time with great friends.

Tomorrow we’ll travel the 12 miles to Eugene to get the MoHo’s windshield replaced, and then head towards home via the coast route.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Monaco Northwest Rally Day 4

The day started as usual with the continental breakfast.  It is more about seeing everyone and planning for the day.  Today we are carpooling to the Monaco RV Headquarters for a tour, followed by a tour of a new facility, Oregon Motorcoach Center.  We decided to drive and invited Bob & Maggie to join us.

Our tour of Monaco was very enlightening.  As with most plant tours, we couldn’t take any pictures.  But we saw a lot of diesel coaches on the assembly line, but they were all on the lower end of the product line, including the new Vesta


It has an art deco look and gets 15 miles per gallon, but it’s not suitable for longer journeys.  They are only building Signatures, Dynasty, and Camelot to order, either from a consumer or a dealer.  They’re building about 8 diesel units a week.  Plus they’re building some towables at the Coberg plant.  All of the other products are being built in Indiana.  Almost all of the coaches we saw were being built with the Navistar engines, but they still have a lot of Cummins engines in stock for the higher end coaches.  The company has about 2000 employees compared to 6000 back in 2009.  But much better than the 50 employees they had during the bankruptcy.  We left the tour with a limited positive feel, but we’re not buying any stock.

After a nice lunch at Red Robin, we made our way to the Oregon Motorcoach Center.  This company was started by some prior Country Coach employees, including former owner Bob Lee.  They started out as a renovation facility, but service needs soon overshadowed that business plan.  All of the coaches we saw being worked on were Country Coaches.  The services we saw included a complete slideout rebuild, engine fixes, window fixes, and other issues.  They have a designer on staff to create new interiors including floors, cabinets, and electronics.  The work we saw was first class, but we suspect it would be very expensive.

After we got back to the RV Resort, we had to get some additional supplies for the bar.  It’s funny how at one rally people drink a lot of whisky, and at the next rally the beverage of choice is scotch & gin.  You just never know.  We had plenty of white zinfandel left, but we had to buy more Merlot.

The theme of the dinner was Italian, with 4 cheese ravioli, and 7 layer lasagna.  There is always to much food, even thought the group is filled with hearty eaters.  Tonight there was 1 pan of lasagna left, and we were able to donate it to a shelter.

It was an interesting day, especially for the gearheads in the group, and I think everyone enjoyed both of the tours.  Oh, and we found a great mobile carpet cleaner/leather cleaner and conditioner that did some magic in our coach, and about 10 other rally attendees.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Monaco Northwest Rally Day 3

The day started with a continental breakfast provided by the resort.  Then 12 of the men, including me, carpooled out to Diamond Woods Golf Course to play a best ball tournament.  This was a first for me as I haven’t played golf for the last 3 years, and I’ve only hit balls on the driving range since my hip replacement surgery.

I didn’t take my camera out, so these pictures come from the website.



There was 3 foursomes, and luckily the course wasn’t to busy, as we fell behind looking for our lost golf balls.  I didn’t drive to well, but I made a couple of chip shots and putts to help the team.  And when I was done I could still walk well.

The ladies went out shopping while we were gone (shocking).  There’s a new Cabelas in the Gateway Mall, but I don’t think they spent much time there.

We all made it back in time for the Social Hour (Happy Hour) and a delicious BBQ catered dinner from a local restaurant Bambinos.

There is also some show coaches from Guaranty RV.  This is always dangerous as the newer motorhomes have that new coach smell, and some new features our MoHo doesn’t have.


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Monaco Northwest Rally Day 2

This is the official early arrival day for the rally.  As you can tell from the last posting, we have so much fun at these rallies that we all come as early as possible.  Linda and some of the other ladies acted as greeters and passed out a goodie bag for every coach.


Here’s Linda getting a puppy fix.  That’s Bear on the left, and Teacup on the right.


We have a total 33 Monaco motorhomes coming in today.  And there was a lot of conversations and hugs going on.  The last rally was in September of 2010 in Idaho, so there was a lot of to catch up on.

Linda & I volunteered to be bartenders during the rally (there’s a shock, talk about typecasting).  On Monday night there was a social hour at 4:30, followed by a baked potato buffet at 6:00.




Ron was the MC and kept everything and everyone going in the right direction.  Here’s some of the pictures from the evening.  Click on it for a larger view.


To see all of the pictures from the rally click on this link:

Monday, June 06, 2011

Monaco Northwest Rally Day 1

On Sunday morning we journeyed our way down to Harrisburg, OR, a whopping 38 miles.  I think that’s the shortest move we’ve ever made in the MoHo.  The rally is being held at the River Bend RV Resort.  It’s a nice resort right on the Willamette River, and has very nice meeting rooms that we’ll be using during the week.




On Sunday night the early arrivals met at Rodeo Steak House & Grill in Junction City.  It was a surprise 70th birthday party for Ron Davis, and boy was he surprised.


These photos are not the best because I took them with my I-Phone.  The food was good, but the company was better.



After our meals, they brought in a large cake with 70 candles burning.  We thought the fire department was on alert.


Ron was able to blow out all of the candles with a second and third effort and some help from his friends.  It was a great start for what will be a fun week.