It’s been awhile since we left Klamath Falls and we’ve been busy, busy, busy traveling down the California coast with Kat’s brother and his family. We left Klamath and headed down into California and stayed one night in Corning, California. Apparently it is the Olive Capital of California. We were surrounded by Olive trees in the campground that was for sure. It was a nice drive down full of California agriculture at its best: Pistachio and Cherries, plus some other ones we couldn’t identify as we drove past. We were on our way to our favorite California campground…Anthony Chabot. That’s where we stayed earlier this year late in January. It’s not far from Oakland, so we had pretty good access to San Francisco. It was a little different this time because there were more people, but they came and went so quickly it was a little noisier and fast paced turnover. Also, the turkeys we saw before now had babies with them, they were cute, about as much as a turkey can be. We were only staying for a few days and most of those we weren’t even going to be sleeping there. It was really just a convenient place to park so that we could go into the city and meet up with the family when they arrived on Thursday. In the days before we did get to meet up again with Jackie and Doug as well as Rich ( from St. Louis) who was working in the area. Sometimes it seems a small world because you can meet up with people unexpectedly and other times you feel pretty far away and have no opportunity to see anyone you know. It makes you appreciate those times with friends even more.
Our immediate plan was to get into San Francisco and meet up with the family when they arrived and then stay in the city until Saturday evening. I have to say those kids were troopers. (Harry is 10, Dylan is 9 and Esme is 7.) Yes, when they arrived they were tired and jet lagged since it was about an 11 hour flight from London, but I guess the excitement kept the adreneline flowing. I am not sure what I expected since I don’t really spend any extended time with 10, 9 and 7 year olds, but there were no real complaints, no tears, fighting or temper tantrums. I know when I am jet lagged I get all of those signs of being tired and have to fight them. Before they went back to their hotel to go to bed we all ate some burgers and made a plan to meet for breakfast before going out to Alcatraz.
Since there were 7 of us and they wanted to see the city we walked down towards the waterfront from Breakfast. We stayed just outside of Chinatown, so it was about a 35 minute walk. There was a lot to see along the way, so the walk was good. The first stop was at Pier 39 of course. I could stand there and watch those sea lions all day, but we had a boat to catch, so we went and grabbed some sandwiches before catching the boat.
All the times I have been to San Francisco, I never went to Alcatraz and I’m glad I finally did. Everyone really enjoyed the audio tour. I think it was the sounds that played in the background along with the stories that were very captivating which made it really good for everyone.
The following days we had some more touristy things to do like Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard street. The kids were super excited about Lombard for some reason and once again, it was someplace I had never gone. Of course the Golden gate wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t fogged in, but we had a good time Friday and Saturday anyway. We did a lot of walking, eventually grabbing a bus. Stopping for ice cream, smoothies and snacks often helped keep everyone happy. Saturday evening we left them on there own so we could go back to the camper and be ready to leave in the morning to meet up with them at the next campground. Plus we really wanted to enjoy the quiet of Anthony Chabot one last night.
The plan for the rest of the time was that they had rented an RV and needed to go pick it up before coming to the campground. They would drive the camper and camp with us a week of the trip as we traveled down the coast together and then stay in an Air BNB. We had bought some inexpensive items that they would need to save on costs, so they were pretty well set for when they were staying in the camper. The mornings with the kids were one of our favorite times. They would come over to our camper almost right after waking up and then write in the journals we bought them to keep a record of their trips, then we would all have breakfast. On travel days we would usually say goodbye in the morning and they would go off sightseeing while we sadly packed up and did all the jobs we needed to do to get ready to travel. We couldn’t go some of the places they wanted to go because we are too big when all hooked up. And California drivers are just crazy. They go faster than we can and there is just so much traffic with highways merging left and right. It’s a little stressful to say the least.
Next stop was Marina Dunes in Marina, CA and the big activity there was Whale watching. It was a cloudy day, but not as chilly as expected. We saw 25 whales, a rack (large group) of seals and a HUGE leatherback turtle. He popped up and gave us a great view of his big head, but of course I was so startled to see him that close I didn’t have time to get the camera turned on. That was super cool and very rare apparently. We ended the night with a fun marshmallow roasting contest. I’m not sure who won, but we devoured the entire bag.
We headed off to Morro Bay State park for a couple of nights and while staying there they went to Hearst Castle and up to San Simeon where from shore they got to see a ton of whales jumping (breeching). They also visited the Skateboard museum in Morro Bay. They also went to see the big Redwoods. We relaxed a little before going to meet them in town the last evening, to have a bite to eat, walk around a bit and watch the surfers while the kids climbed on the rocks. The day we left to go to El Capitan they started their day by going Kayaking. When they arrived in El Capitan we all walked down to the beach where they did some body surfing. The next day we all went into Santa Barbara where we took a walk along the beach, then had some lunch and everyone went swimming. Kat and I went for a walk while they did that and then after a quick stop at the grocery store we went home. We all went up to the pool and the hot tub for a quick dip before dinner. That was nice and one of things Esme said was one of her favorite things of the trip. Funny the things that can make an impression on peoples’ minds.
We stopped for the night in Chino, CA at Prado regional park. That was a pretty nice ad very big campground and park with easy to park spaces and lost of space to do things. There is disc golf course and horseback riding. They stopped on the way at Venice beach and were really impressed by the skateboard park. That was Saturday night and it was Rodeo time! We all headed down to the Rodeo. Kat and I were pretty excited, but they had no idea what to expect. It was a crazy place! We had read it was really popular and that was true. It was cool to see all of the people outside helping direct traffic and stuff on horseback. The kids asked a lot of questions, but didn’t seem all that impressed or excited. Dylan said that they were pretty mean to the animals, I suppose that is true. I think their favorite part was the kettle corn and the funnel cake. We left before it finished and Harry and Dylan had a quick ride on the mechanical bull. And I do mean Quick!
Sunday morning they had to leave to take their return their RV, pick up a rental car and then go check into their Air BnB in Encinitas. We were headed to Guajome park in Oceanside. We would miss our mornings with the kids. We were only staying about 35 minutes apart, but we both had things to do in the mornings before we would meet up. We planned on spending time together during the day and of course dinners together were a given.
Moonlight beach in Encinitas was pretty nice, but the whole time they were near the beach the weather was cloudy. The waves weren’t huge, but I caught a few from a decent way out that brought me to shore with a big smile on my face. They rented surfboards one day and tried that out, but they were pretty worn out from boogie boarding the day before. They never tired of the water no matter what though and if they needed a break there was always the sand to build things. Evenings usually consisted of grocery shopping for dinner, cooking, eating and cleaning up, then some card games and bed. The adults usually had planning for the next day to do while relaxing with a beverage.
Kat and I had to take Fat Henry down to San Diego one day to have him looked at by a mechanic and also to get the 150K service done. He was still occasionally hiccuping and had actually lost power on the 101 as we drove down to Chino. Luckily we were right by an emergency parking place on the side of the road, so we stopped and had lunch while gathering the courage to try again. The rest of the drive was uneventful except for the stress. It’s hard to fix something when you don’t know exactly what is wrong. We went down to the shop early and then the family came and picked us up so we could all drive the rest of the way to the USS Midway battlecraft. That was fun, but I think everyone enjoyed Alcatraz much more. We had a nice lunch in downtown San Diego at La Puerta mexican restaurant and the kids discovered they really liked quesadillas.
Kat and I rented a car since we had no idea how long they would need the truck to figure out the problem. In the end it never did get resolved because there are no real error codes showing the cause of the occasional stutter. We got the serpentine belt changed and the oil, but that was all. Fingers crossed.
Saturday morning- the day of departure for the family we met up in Oceanside to watch the surfers and have some coffee while we said goodbye.
I had asked the kids questions the night before and here are their answers:
What did you think about living in an RV?
H: Too small
D: Emptying the black tank (smells too gross)
E: Too small
What was your favorite thing you did on vacation?
H: Surfing at Moonlight beach
E: The hot tub and pool at the campground
What was your favorite place you visited or thing you did?
H: Alcatraz audio tour
E: Leatherback turtle and whale watching.
What didn’t you like?
E: Too much walking
What was your favorite food?
H: Double Bert burgers
D: Double Bert burgers
What will be your best memory of the trip?
H: Walking on the Golden Gate Bridge
D: The waves in the ocean
E: Marshmallow roasting
What was your favorite ice cream?
E: Mint chunky chocolate
Would you come back to America for another visit?
H: Yes- San Diego
E: Yes- and go to Mexico
What are you looking forward to when you get home?
(Bella is their black lab who is about 3 months old.)
When I was in England they were super excited to have me try some foods that we don’t have in America and so we tried to do the same for them. A few big hits were shrimp tacos (surprisingly), breakfast burritos, quesadillas and of course my famous Bert Burgers. They even convinced me to make double burgers and I was pretty surprised they could finish them, but they did.
It was a really nice vacation for all of us and it all went very well. They did a lot of exploring and really made us realize that we aren’t doing as much exploring of the areas where we are camping as we should. We will start working on that. I really enjoyed the laughter and enthusiasm shown by all of them. They also taught me that when you are on holiday you have to have Ice cream everyday! It was fun to be the America hosts and as the kids would say: it was EPIC.