It just didn't feel right to be writing about our land cruising adventures on this blog. It is, after all, about "Faith" and all the wonderful (and sometimes not so wonderful) adventures aboard her.
This year, as you may know, Chris & I have decided to take a trip of a different sort. We are RV'ing around the U.S. to explore as many of our "bucket list" places as possible. So...I have started a new blog for the road trip. Please follow me at the new address: http://landyachtersextraordinaire.blogspot.com/.
I'll be back here next year.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
|Sittin' on the boardwalk in the sunshine.|
We finally got on the road on our way to the sun. The day we left home it was cool and rainy. By the time we arrived in Redding, CA the sun was, indeed, shining and the 85° temperature was perfect for my Mexico-thinned blood. The ability to sit at the picnic table with a glass of wine enjoying the dusk with Chris was just plain luxurious.
|Downtown Old Sacramento|
We have been moving very slowly on the southbound trek with our longest day involving only about 5-1/2 hours. The object of the exercise is to take enough time to visit the people we want to visit, see the sights we want to see and avoid being frazzled at the end of the daily drive. So far it is working pretty well.
We decided to hang out in Sacramento for a couple days so we could do a little exploring and it was well worth it. A foray into Old Sacramento was too much fun. Founded in 1839 by John Sutter, Sacramento (now the Capital of California) was home to the western terminus of the Pony Express as well as the transcontinental railroad. The buildings in Old Sacramento date back to the 1860’s and have wooden boardwalks instead of a sidewalk.
|Look at the size of these wheels!|
|Chris with the Sonoma train.|
The California State Railroad Museum was a real highlight. From the outside it looks fairly unassuming. Just an average sized brick building with a sign painted on one corner. What a wonderful surprise inside! The construction of the railroads is depicted in numerous 3D murals along with lots of interesting written information explaining everything from how they built tunnels through mountains to the history of all manner of railroad employees. Note: Train conductors are also called captains (as in ship captains). In addition to all the historical information, the building is filled with trains! REAL, huge, trains! Some of them you can only walk past and look in the windows but there are several that are set aside for walk-throughs. We climbed up into the cab of a huge steam powered oil locomotive (#4294) to discover it is all levers and valves and complicated looking equipment. It was the very last “cab forward” which means the engineer is at the very front of the train (instead of sitting in the back of the engine). The dining car was set up with each table displaying place settings of a different china pattern…all original designs from the different trains. Each train on each run had a different pattern that depicted something about the destination. For example, my favorite was the California Poppy pattern which was used on one of the Santa Fe runs to California. The sleeper car was pretty interesting. These were set up with a top and bottom bunk (just like the ones you see in old movies) and each bunk was supposed to sleep 2 people. That was, of course, for people who were considerably shorter and leaner than present day Americans! Walking through the sleeper car was like being on a moving train since they had it set up with hydraulics to make it rock from side to side. It was even making that clickity clack noise that trains make as they move down the track. After touring all the big trains, we went up to the second floor to see the exhibit of toy trains. This part of the museum brought back a lot of old memories for me. My Uncle Paul has always been into trains and when I was a little girl he would sometimes run his train set for me. He had a whole country setup on a big piece of plywood. I used to love watching the trains traveling through the tunnels, over bridges and past stations where miniature people were waiting.
|Catching a ride on the cowcatcher of the 4294.|
|The "Greeter" at the River City Saloon.|
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Chris & I are down to the wire and working hard to get everything ready so we can get on the road. There are so many last minute things to be done so the house and yard are in good shape for Linda to move in. We are organizing last minute dinners and get-togethers with all of our friends and family since we won't be back until next June. And then there is the packing!! The RV LOOKS like it is really big but the actual storage space inside makes the storage in the boat look like a warehouse! Clearly these things are built by men. Most of the cupboards and cabinets in the main living area are so small I can't imagine what they thought could be stored in them. Once again, food items (that don't go into the fridge) will have to go under the dinette seats (which necessitates taking the furniture apart to make dinner). Dishes, cooking utensils, etc. are being cut back even more than they were in the trailer. Linens? Hah! The only available storage for those is needed for clothing. The upside is that we'll always be within easy reach of a store as opposed to cruising when we're in deserted anchorages for a month or two. That means we don't have to carry as much with us. Thank goodness for the "basement"!
So...meet "Doug" the dragon, our new mascot. Some of our blog updates will include a little of his viewpoint as well as that of Abby the travelin' dog.
We're excited to meet new friends and see new places in this big, beautiful country of ours. Stay tuned!
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Today was a fairly quiet day for me. I made the beds. I baked some cookies. I did my email. I played a little Wii. I picked up a prescription. I bought a dozen eggs, a birthday card and two new pillows.
Chris, on the other hand, seems to have had quite the adventure.
I shall preface this by stating that yesterday I popped into a previously unexplored store named Buybacks. This is likely the only remaining CD/DVD/VHF re-seller in the entire city. I had passed the place numerous times and thought of checking it out but never seemed to have the time. Yesterday, I made it my mission to go there to see what they had. The movie section was huge and almost all were priced at $3.99. Furthermore, there was a “buy 3 get 1 free” sale going on. I came home with 4 movies from my “want to watch” list. Since we spend our winters in Mexico we miss the new movies that come out over the holidays and buy them during the summer for viewing the following winter. Still, our preferred activities trend more toward reading than watching and with power being at a premium (unless we are at a dock) the number of movies we actually is probably less than half dozen a month.
Here, in the house, we do not have cable or satellite, although we do have a 55” television. Our average viewing time is about 12-15 hours week and since our antenna allows us to watch ABC, NBC and CBS it hardly seems reasonable to spend $50 or more each month for 100 or so channels that we wouldn’t be likely to watch anyway. Especially when you take into account that 99% of what is on the air is just plain garbage. So, that said, on with my story.
As I said previously, yesterday I brought home 4 used movies.
When I told Chris about the Buybacks store and their sale, he decided that he needed to go check it out. So, while I was doing chores and running errands today, Chris was perusing the inventory at Buybacks. He apparently has, unbeknownst to me, developed a bit of a fetish for DVD’s. Or…he wants to open his own used movie shop. By the time I returned home Chris had left to go and babysit our new grandson and his purchases were on the dining room table. Presumably to thrill and delight me when I arrived. As the kids are wont to say, “OMG”! He purchased 37 movies, 2 seasons of Big Bang Theory, 4 Wii games and a 5 disc set of The Blue Planet. To say that I was overwhelmed is an understatement of the highest order.
If you harken back two paragraphs, you will see that I said we usually watch maybe 1 or 2 movies a week. That, actually, is on the high side. This winter we will be RV’ing around the U.S. and one would expect that we will have cable TV available pretty much every night. Who knows when we will fit all these films in?
Well, at least he didn’t find the music section.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Chris & I have been watching with interest the predictions for the coming winter and the general consensus of the websites and prognosticators we follow is that this winter will be another El Niño year. The last time this weather pattern was in effect was the winter of 2009 and it had a pretty substantial effect on our cruising experience. The temperatures were noticeably cooler, there were far more storms, the weather windows were much shorter (making it difficult to get from one place to the next without being pummeled by wind & waves) and even protected anchorages were often very uncomfortable. We have a well found boat that is up to the challenge but can be pretty hard on human bodies (especially older ones) and Abby doesn’t like rough weather one little bit.
Since our motto is: “If it isn’t fun, do something else.” we have decided to do something else this winter. We recently purchased a 36’ Motorhome and intend to spend this winter “land yachting” and exploring many of the places in the States that are on our “bucket lists”.
The Coach is a 2000 Damon Intruder (who shall hereafter be called “Trudie”) and although it is 12 years old it is in stellar condition. It spent the majority of its life in a garage, has new tires, brakes and other stuff and, at a mere 38,000 miles is like new. Our only real change was to replace the existing mattress with the one from the trailer which is much more comfortable. We have also invested in a “car for Sandy” a cute little PT Cruiser that is a blast to drive and is already set up for towing.
|Fountain, waterfall & pond in Sequim.|
For example, finding all the controls has been a bit like an Easter egg hunt. There are two slide outs in this coach and while the control for the bedroom was right where it should be on the bedroom wall, the button to open the main salon slider took a bit of searching to locate. It was, wait for it, on the bottom of the overhead cabinet above the kitchen sink. Huh? Oddly, all of the electrical outlets are also under the overhead cabinets instead of on walls like they would be in a house.
Our first trip was a whole 19 miles to Fairview, OR. We needed some items that didn’t come with the RV and the nearest Camping World is in Fairview so it only made sense. Camping World, for those who don’t know, is to RV’ers what West Marine is to boaters…a “candy store” with merchandise specific to trailers and coaches with prices tailored to clean out your checkbook in one fell swoop. In addition to the $200 in goods we purchased on our first visit, Chris made an appointment to take “Posie” (the PT) in to have her lights wired for towing. She also needed a specialized braking system installed so when we put the brakes on in the Coach it isn’t stopping both vehicles. This little procedure took several hours and the pricetag was substantially above $1000. In addition to the shopping foray, Sandy was able to get a few games of Baja Canasta and we visited and shared dinners with our friends, Ken & Linde, two nights in a row.
For our second trip, we decided on Sequim, WA. Sequim is a beautiful little town 14 miles east of Port Angeles (where Sandy lived as a child) on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It is about a 4 hour drive from Vancouver and once you turn onto Hwy 101 the rest of the trip is a winding two lane road along Hood Canal and through miles of old growth forest. It is one of the prettiest drives in the State (possibly in the country). Sitting in the passenger seat afforded me a bird’s eye view of the rocks under the clear, clear water in the Canal whenever there was a break in the forest. Of course, that also meant the road edge was very close and since the shoulder is pretty narrow and the vehicle is pretty wide I think I spent much of the trip leaning to my left! I am ever hopeful that by the time we leave on the BIG trip my panic button will be on a higher setting.
Once we got settled into the RV Park we spent the weekend visiting friends we hadn’t seen in much too long. Much too soon it was Monday morning and time to head for home again. A few things went wrong but nothing life threatening. We learned a lot about using the RV and came up with some ideas to make it a little more user friendly for us. That was, of course, one of the big reasons for the trip in the first place. We are both getting excited to get back into “nomad mode”.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
After a lovely visit with our Colorado friends, we were off on the final push home. Chris had apparently attempted to visit Yellowstone 3 times in the past with no success so that was definitely on the agenda. I was there once but, OMG, that was about 30 years ago!
|Abby prefers having her own bed!|
Our first day on the road took us to Craig, CO. I have still not gotten over how absolutely stunning the scenery is in Colorado. Even worse, I didn’t manage to take one single picture! Where was my head? I guess the message is that we have to go back.
We spent the night in a small, privately owned motel that had a fully stocked kitchen. This is so rare. Generally , a “kitchenette” turns out to be a microwave & tiny refrigerator. No stove and no cooking/eating utensils. Clearly the intention is to provide a place to store your beer and make popcorn while you go out to eat. It was nice to be able to make a “real” meal and eat in for a change. People who travel constantly in their business lives complain that eating out gets very old very fast and it turns out that is very true.
|Freemont Lake, Pinedale, WY|
While planning the trip to Yellowstone I attempted to locate a motel in Jackson, WY which is very close to the south entrance. HAH! Jackson is a very upscale town that is clearly set up for the more elite in society. High end hotels, condos, restaurants and boutiques with cutesy western sounding names line the streets. After spending a great deal of time perusing on-line booking sites I realized there was not a room in the town for under $200. After backing up about 60 miles I found an absolute gem in Pinedale, WY. The Lakeside Lodge Resort & Marina is a few miles out of town but well worth the drive. We stayed in a cozy cabin right on
beautiful Fremont Lake. It was peaceful and beautiful with Adirondack chairs on the porch overlooking the lake and a romantic fireplace to warm the room. Waiting in the room was a basket filled with muffins, fruit & snacks. After driving most of the day it was wonderful to sit on the porch with a glass of wine and listen to the quiet sounds of the wind in the trees and the water lapping against the shore.
|The Grand Tetons from Yellowstone.|
With the extra hour of drive time factored into the trip to Yellowstone we were up and on the road early. We had reservations that night for a room in Bozeman, MT so there was a lot of territory to cover including transiting Yellowstone. Driving north from Jackson you pass through the Grand Tetons, some of the most dramatic mountains in the country, just before entering Yellowstone. I had the opportunity to ski in the Tetons a number of years ago and could never quite get over the view from the top of the Blackfoot Bowl run as we looked across to the three most prominent peaks in the range. It just takes your breath away.
|Old Faithful blowing off steam.|
Yellowstone was, as always, amazing and Old Faithful geyser did not disappoint. The traffic was a bit tedious as there was road work going on through the entire park so we didn’t make many stops. At one point the backup was a bit frustrating but when we finally reached the apex it turned out to be a herd of bison grazing right next to the road. There is a law against getting closer than 100 yards to the wildlife but it is clear the bison have not read the rule! Between the slow traffic and the distance we still had to travel to get to our motel our time was pretty limited so we have decided we need to return for another visit when we can explore more thoroughly.
Our last overnight stop was in Spokane, WA. We decided we would like to re-visit this unique city again but that is for another trip. By the time we arrived here we were like two old horses on their way back to the barn.
|Morning light in our backyard.|
It’s great to be back home again and I am confident that someday soon all the chores will be finished and there will be time to lounge in the backyard with a glass of wine and a good book. Ahhhhh…..
Thursday, July 26, 2012
As I write this I am in a cute little motel in Craig, Colorado and we are about halfway home. After a very fast trip to Tucson, Chris & I decided that once everything was completed we were going to go home in a much more leisurely “Cruiser friendly” fashion. Since we rented a car it was the perfect opportunity to visit those places that involve lots of altitude and uber-switchback roads. Thus far it has been a wonderful trip.
|The Amazing Grand Canyon|
|Sandy at the Grand Canyon...Finally!|
For the past four years I have lobbied to see the Grand Canyon. Each year it has been tantalizingly close as we made our way north from Tucson and Phoenix but there always seemed to be some reason why it wasn’t practical. More often than not, we had the trailer and that is cumbersome at best on narrow roads and in parks that were built before the advent of large vacation vehicles (thus…extremely limited parking for sight-seeing). Chris grew up in Arizona and has been to the Canyon several times so has been somewhat lukewarm about the side trip. This time, our planned journey included a visit with friends in mid-Colorado so going via The Grand was perfect. I am not sure there are enough adjectives to describe the place or the experience so I really won’t try. I have seen tons of photographs over the years but actually standing at the rim and seeing the miles of incredible beauty with your own eyes is pretty overwhelming. Even pictures don’t really do it justice but I did try. At one point, when I realized that the tiny objects I was seeing on the very edge of one of the overhangs were people, I just about dropped my drawers. As intimidating as it is to stand behind the railing and take in the depth of the Canyon (which can give even the stout of heart the shivers), it was chilling to see people who (with children and dogs) would take chances by walking (crawling?) out to the edge of an outcropping and looking down. Yikes! Chris & I were pretty sure that was against park rules and perhaps that is one reason why the staff has to save over 250 each year.
When I was attempting to find a hotel close to the Grand Canyon I came up empty handed until I found Tuba City, AZ. This small town is about 50 miles from the Canyon and is on Navajo land. We stayed at a clean (though somewhat shabby) place that was right next door to a wonderful Navajo museum we enjoyed touring the next morning. Of particular interest was the information about the Navajo Code Talkers who were an important part of our military during WWII. After leaving a few bucks at the Trading Post we were off on the next leg…to Great Sand Dunes National Park.
|Great Sand Dunes National Park|
I have to admit, I had no idea there was a National Park in the middle of acres and acres of farmland in Colorado that consisted of acres and acres of huge sand dunes. At the base of the dunes is Medano Creek which is actually a wetlands area and an area where huge flocks of Sandhill Cranes rest on their migration south. Even though I had no idea this place even existed, thousands of people visit here every year. They camp, swim in the creek, sled down the dunes, hike up the dunes, birdwatch in the wetlands and watch the stars at night. It is amazing the diversity our country has. After taking lots of photos, walking the dog and NOT hiking on the dunes, Chris & I drove on to Coaldale, CO to visit our friends, Bob & Kay.
Colorado is one of the most beautiful states I have seen yet and we have only seen part of it. Talk about mountains! Whooeee! And gorgeous valleys. And crystal clear rivers. And wildlife galore. We’ll definitely be returning for another dose.