Tuesday, September 20, 2016

California July 2016 Back to the Farm and then onto the Coast- NoCal that is

When we'd arrived at the Farm with reservations for Crane Flat 10 days later, we had no idea where we'd be headed after that.  Lake Tahoe? Straight to the coast?  North to OR?  When Ginny said we could join the group birthday celebration it was wonderful because it meant that I could see another of my old cohorts from school in Switzerland.  Tedda was my floor mate and we'd been staying in touch through Facebook.  She lives in Davis, which is near Sacramento and so were we, but she and her husband were in Ireland the first time we were at the farm.  We had no idea when or where but we were determined to make it happen.

The drive back to the farm was lovely and once again we arrived before our hosts.  The first to arrive was Ginny's son, Patrick and 2 of his great kids.  Ginny and Eric would arrive late and the next day Heather and her 2 kids arrived.  Christian and Erin would not be able to spend the night but they came up the next day for the afternoon and dinner.  It was wonderful having a house full of kids, all of whom know and love the farm and were ready for everything-going pear picking (yes, there were still some on the trees), kayaking and swimming in the river and climbing trees and playing with each other.  Meals were lovely and delicious with the entire family gathered round the table with lively conversation.  For all the wonderful aspects of our travel this is something we do miss and it meant so much for us to be included.

The weekend passed quickly with  exciting animal related events: Cadbury had escaped immediately when we got back from Yosemite.  He had loved taking long walks with Don and we figured he must have thought he was "back home" when he ran right into the cherry trees.  We quickly cornered him but that evening when Don was coming back into the house after dinner he scooted out between his legs and could not be found.  We put his food bowl outside in one of the open bins and just hoped for the best.  (We'd heard coyotes each night so we were quite upset.) At 10pm Patrick came down to shut the door and there sat Cadbury on the stoop of the house.  We had been diligent since then but Saturday night heard Patrick yell with some desperation in his voice. Heather had brought a friend's dog for whom she was dog sitting and with everyone else at a basketball game, Patrick was alone in the house.  Out dashed this little ruffian and she took off into the dark down the road toward the pear orchard.  Poor Patrick was barefoot and without even a flashlight.  We both ran down after him and then I got in the car to give some lights and then drive around.  NOTHING!  Then the rest of the gang came back within minutes and Heather had the good sense to grab the treat can and shake it as she paced up and down the road called her.  Success.  The little scrapper was caught and everything ended well.  On Sunday, everyone left and we stayed...once again.  We had more errands to do in Antioch, Don took his new bike over to the shop for a check up and I did laundry but we also drove around a bit, since we had not done so before.  

The 18th was my birthday, so we celebrated by taking the MoHo over to have her tires rotated and an oil change.  We went for lunch at a little cafe in Walnut Grove and then returned to pick her up.  Since they could not do the alignment there we got the name of a place in Elks Grove and made an appointment for the next day. 

Early in the morning I drove the MoHo and Don followed in the car to Elks Grove and we dropped the MoHo off.  They told us it would be several hours so we went and did some errands and then to lunch in Elks Grove. After examining it the service manager called to say that they were concerned with one of the wheels and if we wanted it repaired we could leave it overnight or pick it up and bring it back the next day.  This worked out perfectly because Tedda and I had started discussing where and when to meet. And so, a flurry of emails and texts between Tedda and I commenced and we arranged to meet in Elks Grove for lunch the next day.  

Bright and early the next day we drove the same route back to Elks Grove, dropped off the MoHo and then waited in the lounge checking our mail and reading until it was time for lunch.  I was doubly excited because Tedda's sister, Tina, whom I knew only by reputation (she is an expert in Art Glass and was, until several years ago, the curator at the Corning Museum of Glass in NY) but who was also a graduate of CBM (our school in Switzerland.)  The almost 50 years since Tedda and I had seen each other melted away in seconds after seeing each other again.  It was wonderful to catch up with this phenomenal woman and to meet her fascinating sister.  We yakked and yakked and ate and drank beer and Don had fun too.  Even Phoenix was able to join in because CA has a law that allows dogs at outside dining areas.  The day was not too hot and we were under the shade trees and we had a thoroughly wonderful time.

We then went back to pick up the MoHo and made our way back to the farm to prepare for our voyage to the coast the next day. There was a full moon that night so not only did we get to watch it rise but I saw it low in the sky the next morning.

Full moon rising

and in the early dawn

We got on the road after securing everything at the farm and picking some of the fruit in the orchard and headed west toward Sonoma.  We had to stop in Vacaville to get propane and then we hit the highway until we got to Petaluma.  From there it was smaller roads, winding through beautiful hilly farm land and getting greener and greener.  We drove west until we got to the coast at Bodega Bay and then turned right to head north on CA-1.  Much like Monterey the route hugs the coast and is made up mostly of S curves that go up and then down.  Beautiful, even if it wasn't too much fun to drive and we were going v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y.  When we got to Jenner, at the mouth of the Russian River, we had only 12 miles to go but all internet and cell reception was gone.  I am of two minds about this as I LOVE not having the distraction but I get a little nervous about not being able to be contacted.  The other thing is that it greatly affects my ability to write these fascinating entries about our travels.  Little did I know then but most of the time in the next months we would have no reception or just enough to check news but not to do anything else.  Kinda like when we were young. :-)

the seal rookery at Jenner

The Ocean Cove Campground was wonderful! Perched on the edge of a cliff in a small cove it gave us fabulous views of the northern California coast which is one of the most beautiful places in the world, in my opinion.  Huge craggy rocks with waves smashing against them, cliffs descending to the ocean, birds swooping overhead and bright, deep blue skies were our view.  The only rule at the campground, was that you park next to a fire ring, as there are no designated sites.  This meant that once again it would be a bit of a challenge to find a level spot but we found one that took not too much effort to level ur MoHo and then settled in.  It also meant that this would be another campground where we would meet people from all over and enjoy wine at sunset as well as trading stories about RV'ing, pets and life in general. The absolutely best thing about the site was that when we ventured south we'd find fog and yet our site was clear and sunny  everyday by mid-morning no matter how foggy or cloudy it had started (which rocks when you have solar) and yet cool from the breezes.    There is a small jetty of land that people were using to get cell reception but the camp store also had a landline that they let me use to make reservations for our next planned stop at the Humboldt Redwood Park.  You see, hot weather was coming and we wanted to find a place where we could do laundry and have electricity to run the a/c if we needed it.

Our first night the sun set behind a line of clouds that lay on the horizon but,

even the seagulls stopped to watch it

Our stop here was also a chance to catch up with more friends.  Tom Meglio, a friend of our son's from NY is an actor and spending his summer doing theater at the Santa Rosa Junior College.  Our schedule and the driving time to Santa Rosa were not going to allow us to catch one of his performances so we met for brunch.  It was so much fun to catch up and hear of his plans and adventures.  I'd hoped to see another old St Croix friend in SR but our schedules did not allow it.  From there we drove to Sebastopol to enjoy a thoroughly delightful afternoon with old St Croix friends.  I have known Lark literally since she was born and was very excited to see her after 45 years.  Her mom, Pat, lives with her now so the visit was a double treat as we reminisced and caught up.

Driving to Santa Rosa meant we got to return to Jenner (and then later go back again) on CA-1with all the turns and views of the fog enshrouded coast

The cows know to follow road rules
It was back to the campground after that where the skies were sunny (as they had been inland) but the air was cool (as it had not been inland.) The next days we spent taking short drives up the coast and taking walks at the Stillwater Cove State Park which adjoins the campground.

The violence of nature

I was also becoming obsessed with sunrise and sunset pictures as each day revealed variations on the theme and each was as lovely as the other.  We had clear days with clear sunsets

followed by cloudy mornings and sunrises that colored the western sky with an entire palette of colors

But were just as likely to have sublime skies with sherbet hues.

We finally visited Fort Ross State Historic Site, which we'd driven by a few times and each time said, "later." Faced with our impending departure "later" ended up being 15 minutes before the historic area was due to close on our last day but luck was with us and there was a school group visiting and they would remain open until they left.

A Russian-American settlement from 1812-41, the buildings at the site reflect that period.  The small museum has a very good overview of the other peoples who have lived there, including the Kashaya Pomo. During the settlement days the population was a mix of Russians, Native Alaskans, Californians and Creoles-of mixed Russian and Native American ancestry. It was the southernmost settlement of Russian colonization of North America and was established to supply their Alaskan colonies with agricultural products.  It was the site of California's first windmills (and a replica is on site) as well as shipbuilding.  Russian scientists there recorded some of the first of California's cultural and natural history.  The buildings are all replicas except the Rotchev house which is the originally built Russian structure (and the only original one in North America, outside of Alaska) used to house the last manager of the Russian-American Company.  Having grown up during the Cold War I had no idea about the Russian presence on the American mainland had been so long or established and it was a very educational and enlightening visit.   We ended up doing a nice thorough visit and the kids were still there when we left to wander around the park grounds that were open 'til sunset.  We spied and heard seals and watched birds floating in the surf and circling overhead as well as a very chatty Steller Jay. We even got to see a troop of raccoon cubs.

The school kids were dressed in period costumes and were cooking over fires, learning about caring for the land and practicing drills since this was, after all, a fort

These three raccoon cubs had started down the road until they spied us, stopped and made the decision to beat a hasty retreat.


These were the first windmills in CA

The cliffs to the south sheltered a cove where the ships would come in to be loaded with timber and the produce being sent to Alaska

To the north are the open fields and coastal views

Don was determined to paddle his kayak in the Pacific so one day took it down to the boat ramp at the camp and managed to get out into the ocean-in the waves which were quite rough that day-for about 5 minutes.  But, he has now paddled in the Pacific and Atlantic.

Despite the fact that we could have enjoyed more time at Ocean Cove it was time to head north to the Humboldt Redwoods.  My phone call had resulted in our being able to snag a site at the Giant Redwoods RV & Camp in Myers Flat and after much discussion we had decided to drive up CA-1 to Fort Bragg and then over to US-101.  A decision we ultimately saw as the right choice but it was a long, slow, winding and, at times, quite nerve racking drive. For that story read the next chapter...

Last Stop: Yosemite National Park
Next Stop: Redwoods and more Redwoods-the rest of the NoCal coast
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