Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Sorry about posting this one out of sequence and without pictures,  but it was such a great day,  I wanted to get it out there to let you know I am still traveling and there will be new posts,   I will catch up on the other posts and the pictures as time  (and internet connections allow….)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Yosemite part 2 10/14 – 10/17

We got up this morning and decided to head towards Yosemite.  We took our time and decided, if we could get a campsite,  we would stay in the Valley the first night,  Drive down and stay at the Sequoia groves the second night,  and go back to the Valley for the 3rd night.   We got to the camping registration and asked if there were any sites available.  They gave us an incredible site right near the river and with a view of Half Dome. 
The weather was incredible.  We drove around the valley a little and headed back to our site for the night.   When we checked in they said this was the site Oprah stayed in when she “camped” in the park.  It was a really good site.  We set up the grill for ribeyes, and grabbed some beers and enjoyed the view.   It was interesting at night to see all the climbers with their lights on camped out on the side of Half Dome.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hetch Hetchy and Half Moon Bay

Today,  I woke up and hiked to the Hetch Hetchy dam to get sunrise pictures over the water. I also hiked around the lake a little and then headed towards SFO to pick up another friend that was joining me for the next few days.   I made it to SFO, a little early and headed to Costco for supplies.  I picked him up and we went to Trader Joes for the rest of the food for the week. 


I had already driven from Yosemite this morning, and he got up early to fly in.  So we decided to go to Half Moon Bay State Beach for the night.  It was only about 11 miles away,  easy drive we thought.  NOT!  Little did we know that there was a Pumpkin Festival at Half Moon Bay.  It took us 1.5 hours to go 9 miles,  but it was nice scenery and gave us a chance to talk.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Yosemite Day 3 - Tioga Rd

Today I decided to drive the Tioga Road (the one I started to go on a couple of days before)  There was no gas along the way, so I stopped at the only station in the park to make sure I had enough.  It was 5.59 a gallon!  I got $50 worth so I wouldn’t have to worry about it for the day.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Yosemite Day 2

I woke up this morning to rain.  They had not seen rain in Yosemite since June.  In the Valley they had an Ansel Adams Gallery,  so I decided to head there and do the tourist thing and walk around Yosemite Village. The gallery was really touristy,  but was nice to see some of his work from Yosemite.  I bought some ice cream from the store, and decided there were too many people and headed back to my camper for lunch.  As I was having lunch,  the rain cleared and the valley became sunny.  I wasn’t far from Sentinel Bridge,  so I hiked that way to get the famous reflection picture of Half Dome (no reason to get the truck out of the parking lot at this point)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Yosemite Day 1

This morning I woke up a little early and looked up through the skylight to a sky full of stars.  I took my time getting up and studied the Yosemite maps and decided to take the Tioga Road at the northern part of the park.  I had not been to this part.  I talked to some of the rangers and found out more about different parts of the park.  One suggested I take the Fire tower road near Crane Flat to get a good 360 view of the northern part of the park.  It was a great suggestion as a way to start my time in Yosemite. 


I also talked to them about the rat poop virus to get more details.  I found out that it only affected people that had been using the premade tents in one campground in the Valley that had the mice nesting in them.  They got sick (and some died) because of the virus they inhaled while they were sleeping.  The official term in the Hantavirus and is carried by deer mice.  This virus has been around since 1993.  One ranger said that Yosemite is now probably the safest National Park around because so much effort has been made to disinfect and clean all the areas of the park sine the problems happened earlier this year.  Made sense to me!  I sleep in my camper and won’t be smelling or licking my boots, so I’m not too worried at this point.  Enough about mouse poop…. Back to Yosemite and why I wanted to spend so much time in this park…


After the fire tower,  I headed towards Tioga Road.  There is a campground near Tamarack Flat campground to see what it was like (compared to the one I was in last night).  It was a windy and rough road, but interesting.  I got to the campground and started talking with a young women from Holland and she had only been in the States for a short period of time,  and asked if I wanted to hike with her today, since she did not want to hike alone.   Sounded good to me so we decided to head to the Valley and hike to Vernal Falls.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Towards Yosemite

Well vacation is over.  After I dropped my guest at the airport,  I really had not thought about what was next.  I did my standby plan and went to Costco for gas and supplies.   I just decided to stealth camp in the Costco parking lot and to make the decision in the morning.  This morning I got up and decided I really wanted to go to Yosemite,  rat poop virus and all.  So that is the direction I headed.  It took a little over 4 hours to get there and I decided to camp at the first campground and to start exploring Yosemite in the morning.  (it turned out later,  I should have actually headed toward the valley at least for sunset, because it was really the only decent one of the week….)  I camped at Hodgdon Meadow campground, outside the valley till I could find out more about the rat poop virus.  A nice couple was in the campsite next to me and they saw me cutting wood with my hatchet and were nice enough to offer me their ax.  It was a little easier with the ax to cut the log.  I cooked a ribeye on the grill,  cooked my potato/veggie mix over the fire, and had a nice wine.  Not a bad way to start my time in Yosemite.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Hendry Winery

One of the wineries we were fortunate enough to tour was the Hendry Ranch Winery ( just west of Napa.  Our neighbors recommended this winery to us and thought I would be interested in the particle accelerator owner and partner.  They were right!  The sign said by appointment only, but we were lucky and our timing was right to be able to join one of the tours for the day.  (if you go… please make sure to get an appointment or you will probably be turned away.)

We were fortunate that it was in the middle of the winemaking season,  so we were able to see the entire process from the large 1 ton crates of grapes all the way through to the final product.   We started the tour with the de-stemming machine that takes the grapes off the stems. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Vacation 10/4 – 10/8

Well I picked up my visitor from long term parking and decided to take a vacation from picture taking (mostly) and blogging while my guest was here so that we could just enjoy the time together.  We crossed over the Golden Gate (without fog this time) hiked Muir Woods,  enjoyed Napa and Sonoma wineries ( I will do a separate post on our tour of the Hendry Winery),  stayed in Bodega Bay,  visited the school house from Hitchcock’s movie the Birds, took a pictures from of an old church in Bodega( from the same view as Ansel Adams) and got some great pics from the Golden Gate viewpoint on the Marin side.   It was a really nice vacation from my rough life of travel, blogs and photography.  We had a great time!


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

On towards San Francisco

Last night I stayed at Sonoma Beach State Park,  just north of Bodega Bay.  This was an interesting campsite because I camped in the sand dunes just on the other side of the beach.   I wasn’t able to get any outstanding pictures at this location,  but here is one from the campsite.  One interesting thing was waking up to the fog horn.  I met the couple from Grand Tetons at this site again,  and Doug said the foghorn was every 9.5 seconds,  it must have woken him up too…

I took my time and headed down Hwy 1 towards San Fran.  I ended up stopping for a late lunch at the Pelican Inn.  This is a little English Style tutor inn with a pub near Muir Beach, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.  I had the Shepard’s pie and a pint of beer.  Such a nice stop!  I like this place.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pacific Star Winemaking and Highway 1

I talked to the owner last night at Pacific Star and she let me stay in the field at the front up towards the highway.  It had incredible view of sunset and the water.  4 regions,  4 wineries that have let me stay; I am liking this streak!  She also invited me to stay around and watch pressing of Petite Sirah this morning.  She said that it just has the most incredible color,  and it does.


I hung around for about 4 hours watching this process. Please forgive me if I get any of these facts wrong,  I will do the best I can to be accurate.  11 days ago they crushed 10 tons of grapes into the very large steel tank,  and today was the day to separate the wine from the skins and seeds.  They ran the juice from one tank,  though the press for a rough filter and back to another large tank. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Redwoods and Wineries

Sorry about the delay everyone,  Its now 10/20 and I realize I haven’t posted anything for almost 3 weeks.  I haven’t been eaten by a bear or anything and am still having a blast! Some friends have flown in and joined me in my adventures,  so I took a little vacation from blogging and going through pictures to spend time with them.   I will be catching up over the next few days.  Now back to the what I have been doing since the first of October…

I continued down the road along the Avenue of the Giants.  And much to my surprise, guess what another winery,  in the middle of the redwoods,  so I had to stop.  The place is named RiverBend Cellars, and is in Myers Flat, CA.   The wines were very good and Don was a great help in telling me other wineries to hit on the way.  I bought a Sasquatch Red from him (was good and I liked the label…)

I finished out the Avenue of the Giants and headed south to Highway 1 along the California Coast.  To get there from 101 it was a road full of curves for about 25 miles,  I could hardly get over 15 to 20 miles per hour.  It sure was fun,  just would have been a little easier in a sportscar instead of the truck and camper (but they did fine).  As I hit the California coast, I could actually see it this time,  actually the first time the whole trip without fog.  And just as I saw the water,  the Beach Boys “Surfin’ USA” came on my random music.  Nice coincidence.



Sunday, September 30, 2012

Avenue of the Giants – Humboldt State Park

I woke this morning and took my time as my last morning in my redwood grove of the past 3 days.  I stopped in Eureka at the coop for some groceries,  and they had free wifi,  so,I hung out there in the parking lot for a while and got pictures posted to the website.


Then headed south to the Avenue of the Giants to see even more redwoods.  Avenue of the Giants is a scenic drive that parallels 101 for an incredible drive through the redwoods for 31 miles. This one is paved, and just a nice relaxing drive.  I stopped by Founders grove, and was able to see one of the giants that fell in 1991 due to wind.  It was something else to be able to walk the length of one of these fallen giants and understand how big and tall they really are (over a football field in length)


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Redwoods Day 2. – Hiking by Truck

I stayed in the same site,  and got up a leisurely pace again,  just enjoying my surroundings.  I decided to explore more of the park, by truck this time.  First I stopped at “The Big Tree”.   This is only one of many (I saw many of these on my hike), but this one is near the road,  so there is a little park next to this one.  This particular tree is 304 ft tall, 21.6 ft in diameter,  68 ft in circumference, and over 1500 years old.


Next I did the Coastal drive Loop.  Most of these roads say no RV’s or trailers for good reason.  But they are fine for the truck camper.   This would have been a really nice drive with coastal view,  but because of the fog,  all I really got to see was the road,  at one point I could barely make out the surf.  Maybe next time.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Redwoods National Park

Last night I made it to the redwoods just before dark.  I pulled into the Prairie Creek State Park Campground (also part of Redwood NP) and found my own little piece of heaven in a campsite (a nice change from hell a couple days ago).  The campsite was in the middle of a redwood grove and I was able to park right next to a bunch of these magnificent trees.  Two were 6 feet from the camper.  I say this is heaven for me because one of my favorite places on earth is Muir Woods National Monument just north of San Francisco.  I hiked Muir Woods as often as I could with my numerous trips to San Fran over the past 17 years with work.   But I was never able to spend the night in a redwood grove.


This morning I woke up looking through the skylight above my bed and could not believe that I was able to sleep among these ancient giants. (pic to the right-->) If you have never experienced redwoods, you should make it a point to go and spend some time in one of these groves.  It is really hard to comprehend these trees; pictures can’t even capture the feeling or size of these trees.  They can be as tall as 370 feet  ( or more, longer than a football field)  they can have a diameter of over 22 ft (longer than the truck and camper)  and they can over to 2000 years old.  To me,  it really shows how insignificant we as humans are.  We live (if we are lucky) only 0.5 % of their lifetime.  We are only 1.6 % of their height,  and only 0.02% of their weight.  But we, as humans, have destroyed 95% of them in the past 100 years.  Luckily most of the rest of them are now preserved in parks.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Whiskeytown Lake

Last night I found a little pullout at Whiskeytown lake.  I was on the back side of the lake, just as it was getting dark,  and found a semi flat spot that I decided to call my home for the night. Very few cars went by during the night,  and there was no knock on the door.    

I woke up this morning with a great view of the woods and lake.  I took my time and got ready and to head out of the park.  Well,  I didn’t make it very far.  About a mile there was a parking area with a great view and no one there,  I backed up the camper to have the best view, opened the door and all the windows and decided to get some work done.  I was there for a few hours till it started getting pretty warm.  When I got back in the truck it was already up to 90 degrees!  Last night at Costco in Redding it was 96.  I had not been that warm for a while (since Texas), so it was time to get out of there and head towards the redwoods and the coast.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Last night after coming down from Mount Shasta I headed towards Lassen Volcanic National Park.  I found the Manzanita Campground right inside the park gates at about sundown.  This was my campsite for the night.


This morning,  I liked the feel of my no rush yesterday morning,  I got up,  did some reading, some blogging,  and took my time before heading out to see the park.  I decided, I would take a slow day and enjoy the park.  I turned out at every turnout, just to look at the difference in the landscape of this park.  There was a large fire in the park that was 100% contained (put out) in August.  The devastation of this fire was amazing,  huge old trees were just left in charred ruins,  while others remained standing (and alive).


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mount Shasta

For some reason I was drawn to this mountain,  I heard about it for years and really wanted to see it,  but I’m not really sure why.  That was until I got here, and then I understood.   Last night as I was driving,  I could see the mountain for basically the whole drive.  I started seeing it over 100 miles away even with the smoke from the fires.  The north side was still covered in a lot of snow.   The base is around 4000 ft,  and the top is over 14000. It really stands alone without any other large mountains near it.

As I approached, I saw a sign for the Mount Shasta wilderness roads (in a national forest), So I decided to see if I could find a nice place to camp (for free) along this road in the shadow of the mountain.  About a mile in (the very rough road) I found a pullout that was a landing spot for hang and para-gliders.  It was level with a nice view of the mountain last night. 


Monday, September 24, 2012

Crater Lake Day 3

I got up for sunrise and headed towards the east side this time for a different perspective.  I backed up the camper and waited for the sun to wake up before I stepped out into the 36 degree cold with wind.  As I sat in the warm camper, there were at least a dozen other people outside with their tripods setup,  parkas on, and freezing;  waiting as I was for the light.  ( I like the camper for these moments).  It was a nice sunrise.

Today,  the wind was down some and it actually warmed up to be a nice day.   For my last day around the crater,  I decided to take my time and go the entire way around,  stop at every pullout, and see what the lake had in store for me today.

I wanted to go down and actually see and touch the lake.  There is only one spot around the whole crater where you can do this.  At Cleetwood Cove Trail,  there is a trail down over 700 feet to the lakes edge.  This is also where you can take a boat ride (when in season,  unfortunately, last weekend was the last time they took out the boats)   I would have liked to take a boat ride to see the crater and lake from that perspective, but maybe next time (I know I will come back here!)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Crater Lake Day 2

I got up this morning and went to the same point on the west side as I did for sunset last night.  I was able to back up the camper and have an amazing view.  I got some sunrise pictures and decided to stay here for a while and just watch the lake change as the sun rose through the day.  I got some breakfast (and even took a shower),  caught up on some blogging and picture downloads, all with a view, out of the wind, with heat.   
I ended up staying at that one spot for over 8 hours.  I had lunch here too.  Here is a shot of the view while I was nice and warm in my camper!  The wind was so really blowing, and it just didn’t seem like a good day to go hiking or exploring. (but what a view!) It was interesting to watch all the people come and go,  most freezing, and only stay for short periods of time, not sure if any of them even had a clue that I was inside.  One guy even walked all the way around it twice checking it out (I looked out the front and he was in a truck camper too)


Time for a random musing…  Fire… it has turned into my TV.  It is one of the reasons I don’t mind paying for a campsite ( I don’t build fires when I’m stealth camping in a parking lot) ,  as long as there is a fire ring I’m great,  that’s really all I need from a campsite.  I pull out my foldable reclining chair (with footrest) and just watch the fire grow and turn into coals.  There is nothing like finishing out the day with a fire; its calming, soothing, warm,  and gives a great chance to have a glass of wine or beer or margarita and just reflect on the day. 

Some nights I cook over the fire too.  One of my new favorite meals (that I learned from a friendly couple at Mount Rainier)  Is to cut up potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, onions and bratwurst with a little olive oil, salt and I use herbs de Provence.  This is all put into a foil packet and placed on the grill over the fire.  Yum! 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Crater Lake NP

I woke up in the morning, and it was a good thing I got the propane working last night because it was 31 degrees.  The heater was working great!  Got some breakfast and headed towards Crater Lake National Park.  I came in the north entrance, and the first stop was the Pumice Desert. Probably not everyone’s first stop, but was interesting and the first turnout I came to in the park. 

Then on towards North Junction,  This was my first view of the lake! I had never been here before and my first reaction was to just sit and stare in amazement; the sky was clear and the lake was a color blue I had never seen in water before. The last time I remember doing this was in the Canyonlands NP in Utah a long time ago.   The lake is over 1900 feet deep and about 6 miles long (at the deepest and widest points).  The drive around the rim is about 33 miles.  The blue color is because the lake is deep and probably the purest water on earth.  No rivers or anything else feeds it,  only rain and snow.  It stays at about 38 degrees year round.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Mail… and Propane leak

About 2:00 in the morning,  I get woken up by, what I thought at the time was the Co2 detector,  I had forgotten to crack a window and the vent.  I was wondering what type of dream I was having to breath so much, but nothing like getting waken up by a screaming alarm to knock whatever chance I had of remembering the dream right out of my head.  I hope it did not bother the neighbors too bad.  I finally got it calmed down and 5 minutes later,  off it goes again.  I vented the camper, and turned off the propane (just in case because it is a dual Co2 and Propane detector) and eventually went back to bed.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Oregon Coast

This morning my streak of seeing sunrise over the vineyards was broken by fog, and lots of it (at least I got to see sunset!)  Got up early from my vineyard spot, and decided to leave before the tasting room opened.  So I was off to Dallas, OR for breakfast at the North Dallas Bar and Grill  (nothing like a taste of Texas home… at least the name sounded like it)  I had a great breakfast and the people working there were very nice and helped me plan the day.

On to the coast,  which was also covered in fog.  Oregon has state parks and viewpoints everywhere on the coast. 
So I picked one, and backed the camper up, and this was my lunch spot for the day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Oregon Wineries

5 days after I put the Willamette valley into the Garmin (back on 9/14)  I am actually made it to Oregon Wine country today.  It’s funny how things just work out on this trip,  but the incredible thing is having time to explore those little diversions that occur along the way,  and how much fun they end up being.

I started the day with Firesteed,  I have had their wines before,  but I did not know about the Citation line.  Wow!  Deb was a great host and she helped me pick a route for the day.  The picture of the Pinot Noir grapes are from their estate vines.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Silver Lakes State Park

I woke up this morning and looked at the Silver Falls State Park hikes and decided that was a great way to start the day.   The park has 10 waterfalls on a hiking loop.  About 9 am I headed out to hike and photograph some of the falls.  I have included pictures of a couple of the falls.  I decided to hike about 5 miles just taking my time to enjoy the falls and the hike before  I headed back to camp.