Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Satisfiying Summer Sitting and Winter Wandering Wishes

Our first summer spent working at the Barrie KOA has come to an end and it has been a successful first year!  Detra and I both enjoyed our summer working with a great group of people here, it is a fun place and the owners and managers treat us very well.  I've spent the time outside working on any and everything that comes up, while Detra worked in the office/ store.  No complaints with our schedule either, we worked the same hours except for a few days here and there.  Two or three days a week is just the right amount of work to keep it fun and make a little money too.

On the living here side of things, it is just as good.  The park has two sections, in the front is the regular nice KOA campground with all the family and child activities you would expect from a nice place.  What sets Barrie KOA apart from most parks in Ontario is the section we are in, "Cedarwood" which is an adult only area with very nice sites (concrete pads, lighting, gardens).  While you can find this type of park in the warmer areas of the States that are used year round, it is not common in Canada where the season is only 6 or 7 months.  The people are a mix of retired and working weekenders and some are fulltimers like us and the whole feel is one of quiet and friendly relaxation.  We are very comfortable here and it already has us feeling like we are home.

The City of Barrie area has been a happening place with a different event/festival seemingly every weekend to keep us entertained.  We keep our boat handy and can be on the water in twenty minutes whether on Kempenfelt Bay and cruising into town for lunch or out on Lake Couchiching to catch a three foot long Northern Pike.

That's a fish!

Pulling into the free docks in downtown Barrie.

We've spent time with family and friends, but as usual not enough of it.  The drive to Oshawa and the old stomping grounds is just a little too long to make it convenient. 

I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” — Rosalia de Castro

These two quotes pretty much some up our plans and philosophy this year, we know we are heading south and have a couple of stops planned, Washington DC, Myrtle Beach, Florida at some point and then maybe over to New Orleans before heading back home through Chicago again.

I really enjoy the idea of not knowing where we could end up or what we will see along the way.  The unexpected sights and experiences along the way are the best memories we carry with us.  Having the ability to go anywhere at any time is a feeling of freedom that opens your mind to the here and now and the possibilities that tomorrow can bring.

We kicked off leaving from my mother's and headed towards Washington DC.  We stopped for our first night in PA. at the Cozy Creek Family Campground one of the few places that are open year round in northern Pennsylvania.  The owner and his son opened the office to check us in and they could not have been friendlier or more accommodating.  It was about twenty miles off I-81 through dense forest and that is how we encountered our first scare on this trip.  We came around a corner in the dark to see a huge buck strolling across the road in front of us.  It wasn't real close but it was enough to get the heart rate up and my mind thinking about what if we were 2 seconds earlier. 

Washington was our first sightseeing stop for this year, staying at Cherry Hill Park that bills itself the closest park to the sights in DC.  The park is huge and is a nice enough place to spend time but that's not what you come here for.  The public transit picks you up inside the park and drops you at the subway for an easy commute into the middle of the city.  We found it easy to drive to the subway, about ten minutes away, and you don't spend as much time waiting for the bus to show up.  The park is busy even this time of year and I imagine you would need a reservation in the summer. 

Being a Canadian, living and growing up next to the U.S., watching American TV networks and movies, we absorb the historic moments that make America what it is, almost as much as we know our own Canadian history.  Washington is full of history and museums that tell the stories of how the 'States became what it is. 

We had decided on a four night stay to see the area this time around and that is not remotely enough time to see it all or even scratch the surface.  We will be through here again at some point to see more but we did hit what, for us, was the must see spots for this trip.  Most things are centered around the National Mall, a huge park in the center of DC.  If you come here be prepared to walk, the buildings are huge, the space between them and the monuments along the mall is even bigger.

The Smithsonian Institute has always been on my list of things to see at some point in our travels and it does not disappoint.  Made up of 19 museums and another 30 research centers or programs across the world, it is the largest of it's kind.  Most of the buildings are free to visit and are full of interest for just about anyone's tastes.

We visited the Air and Space and American History Museums, both with famous exhibits and many other interesting things to see and learn about. 

American History Museum;

The first car to drive across the states.  We followed the wheel tracks last year.
Lincoln's top hat he wore to the Ford's Theatre.
The very first video game console.
Edith and Archie Bunker's chairs.

Air and Space Museum;
 The original Wright Flyer, amazing to stand beside this piece of history! 

Plenty to see and all have a part of history to tell.
1930's Hughes H-1, it just screams SPEED! Beautiful.
Wright Flyer to this in thirty years is incredible.
We took a stroll over to the White House to visit the President, but it turns out you need an appointment to see him.  We walked around outside the grounds with the other tourists and the ever present protests going on.  The land of free speech is on display with four different protests happening while we were here, all under the watchful eyes of the Secret Service.  It was strange I had never thought about this aspect before we walked into it, but it struck me as a very American scene. 
The White House.
Washington is a very impressive place and you could spend weeks here and not run out of things to see or do but it was getting cold and wet so time for us to move south!
Carolina Crossroads in Roanoke Rapids, NC is an easy drive from DC and an good place to spend a night or longer if you want spend some time in the area.  We were just passing through.
Rolling into Myrtle Beach for the first time you are struck by the shear number of restaurants and shops that line NC 17 highway, it goes on forever!  This is the down season here and some are closed for the winter but there is still plenty to see and do.  The weather swings between beautiful warm, sunny days and cold grey ones but most of the time it is good.
Myrtle Beach State Park is right on the water and our first stop while we look for a place to spend a month here.  Plenty of trees in this small park and there are limited sites that we could fit in but we did have a choice of 4 or 5 on a busy weekend.  They offer a great deal for snowbirds of half price for a thirty day stay DEC-FEB, you could do worse.
Socializing is high on the agenda while we are here.  My Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Fred are long time owners of a vacation home here and we had never been there in the 20yrs they've owned the place.  We had a nice visit and a walk along Murrell's Inlet boardwalk lined with restaurants and bars. 
Cheryl and Fred's for a yummy meal and the first dinner on their new stove!
We also met up with Frank and Joyce, long time friends of ours who spend time golfing here every fall.  We always have fun together and this was no exception.
Good food and Good times.
We are now in Willow Tree RV Resort for the next month.  This is a very nice park with huge sites, a lake you can fish and is well kept.  This park is about a half hour from the center of Myrtle Beach but it is worth the drive if you want to be out of the hustle and bustle and tiny sites offered in MB.
So that's the start of a new season of travel,
Let the wagon roll!
On a special note;
We have a dear friend, Amanda, who is battling cancer and we want her to know she is always on our minds and in our prayers.  Get Well, see you when we get back!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Home Again 2: The Return to a New Beginning

I've been lacking in keeping this blog up to date lately and I'm sorry, but sometimes life gets in the way and I'm claiming writer's block as an excuse for the long pauses.  I intend to keep this going but once you get behind it is much more difficult to bring it back to the present day and am I ever behind!
Flash back to March and the road home...

Rolling into Albuquerque was a reminder of the cold front we drove through last fall.  We had planned on staying in this area for a week last fall on the way down but the cold had pushed us southwest faster than we had intended.  So on the return trip we wanted to stop and check Albuquerque out. 

I had one must see here in Albuquerque, NM, the Unser Racing Museum.  Being a life long racing fan, the Unser clan are as close to racing royalty as you can get.  There have been generation after generation of Unsers' winning races in anything with wheels and motor, including 9 "Indy 500" wins between three of them, AL Sr.(4), Bobby(3) and Al Jr. (2).

This museum was started by Al Sr. in one building and has grown into a second building with many cars and trophies for you to see.  Admission is only $10 and is well worth the money, even Detra enjoyed it and she has zero interest in motorsports.  It is a must for any race fan to see and even worth the stop for someone to learn a little about how racing got to where it is now.

Al Sr.'s last Indy winning car from '87.
I remember this car from a toy I had back in the '70's. and it is one of my favourites still.
Al Sr. won the 1970 Indy 500 with it.
 The Unser Museum, unlike every other car museum, lets you get right up close to the cars.  This is very rare and truly lets you appreciate the way these cars were built.  The older racecars are actually scary when it comes to safety equipment, some I wouldn't even think about taking to the limit, let alone race someone wheel to wheel at crazy speeds.  These drivers were and are brave souls that can do this for living and survive into retirement. 
While in the gift shop we came across something we couldn't leave without.  They had a metal Radio Flyer car that was signed by Al Unser Sr. and Al Unser Jr.  This was just what Logan needed for his first birthday which we missed January 7th.

Logan on his new car.
Standard Diner was a DDD stop for us here and again the food was excellent but I did have a problem ordering.  The first thing I ordered, they were out of and the second, the DDD Meatloaf was not going to be ready for another hour.  We were here around 3pm so we were between normal meal times but that is no excuse for not having all the menu available.  I ended up with the Bourbon Butter Burger and it was a juicy, sloppy, delicious mess of flavor.
Heading further east, through the Texas panhandle, we came across an absolute jewel by chance.  Detra was looking for a quick stopover around Amarillo, TX and noticed a state park about a half hour south of the city.  The Palo Duro Canyon State Park is an outdoor wonderland worth the trip here all by itself.  This is a fantastic park in the bottom of the second largest canyon in the U.S. 
 Driving along the plains of Texas you think that maybe you are lost, as there is nothing on the horizon to even remotely give you a clue as to what is coming.  All of a sudden the earth opens up to right of you giving you a glimpse of red rock reminiscent of Sedona, AZ.  Pulled up to the office and talking to a very friendly and happy ranger manning the gate, we decided to stay longer right away and booked three nights here which we were lucky to get as this is a very popular place. Who knew? 
We drove the eight miles to our site, starting down a steep and incredibly scenic road clinging to the side of the canyon that takes you to the floor and the campgrounds.  We even drove through a few water crossings which was a fun and new experience with the trailer.
Abby opening the firewood.
Wonderful night for a campfire!
 Keeping an eye on things.
The campground is way down there, somewhere.
 This a must if you are travelling anywhere close to here, make a reservation, as it does get booked solid on weekends and holidays.  There are so many things to do here with many trails for hiking, biking or even horseback riding, a restaurant and interpretive center/ gift shop.  All our future travels through northern Texas will find us stopping here to enjoy this beautiful park.
  If you are here for a little while, up the road in Amarillo is The RV Museum.  This is the collection of Jack Sisemore, the man who started the Keystone RV Company and happens to be who built our 5th wheel.  This is attached to his RVdealership that started it all and is free to visit during business hours.  I found it very interesting to see the progression of the RV through the years and there are many great examples here. There is also a collection of Harley's and other motorbikes mixed in that are worth seeing too.
The Flxible bus from the "RV" movie w/Robin Williams.
 We made our way through Oklahoma stopping at Red Rock Canyon State Park which is in a small canyon with very tight turns on the short road to the campsites.  This was a sheltered stop for wagons heading west in the old days and now is popular with local rock climbers and families camping.
We were heading towards Chicago to visit with family but decided to take a less direct route up into Kansas and El Dorado State Park.  This was early in the season for this place but it was far from empty.  They allow people to stay here on a monthly to month basis and so has many transient workers and others who have been here for quite some time by the look of the sites.  The park is huge and we only saw a small part of it and I would imagine it to be much more appealing place when it is summer.
On to Kansas City, which one? Kansas or Missouri?, we didn't know until we got there.  Turns out we ended up on the Missouri side at Worlds of Fun Theme Park.  This a Passport America park so at 50% off it was a cheap stop for the night in a very nice campground. 
While here we headed out for some famous K.C. barbeque.  Two Smoking Guns BBQ is a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives restaurant that has expanded since being on the show.  That is a recurring theme for many of the show's featured eateries we've visited, the DDD bump lives!  The food was very good here, but I thought the ambience could use some help as it had a bit of a cafeteria feel, not that it would stop me from returning.
The other attraction for travelling this route was the Iowa 80 Truck Stop, if you haven't heard of this place, it is the largest truck stop in the world.  We wanted to see this since watching a TV program years ago about the annual truck show that is held here.  There is plenty of things to see here and it is huge, with everything a trucker could ask for including a huge chrome shop for truck accessories, dentist, chiropractor, laundry mat, movie theater, church on Sundays, a Truckers Museum and many other things.  We were kind of looking forward to this and mistakenly thought there were hook-ups for RV's to spend the night.  Turns out, once you are there it is just a truck stop, a big, very busy and impressive, but still just a truck stop.  We walked around for 45mins.( the museum was closed) and were on our way down the road to Interstate RV Park
This park was just off the I-80 and while convenient, at this time of year it was a little depressing without leaves and green grass and the permanent residents didn't help matters much, it might be fine when the nice weather hits.
Onto suburban Chicago to see Brian, Jodie and nephews Brad and Steve.  Their new home just happens to have a driveway long enough for us to park in.  This makes visiting here much more convenient and inexpensive, not to mention they feed us like kings when we are here.  We stayed here for a few days playing games and having a great time visiting.
Moochdocking in the Windy City.
This also kicked off a full month of mooch docking(stay for free at someone's place, if ya didn't know) back in my mother's driveway.  The trip back into Canada from Chicago was uneventful, but once we got here we had an issue with the 5th wheel.  The plan was to live in the house while my mother was away for a vacation, so we didn't need the trailer for 10 days.  Detra and I discussed whether to winterize the trailer in Chicago or just keep the furnace running as it was still below freezing temps in Canada.  We took the easy route, and wouldn't you know the furnace decides to pack it in at the worst possible time!  We started up the electric fireplace and a couple of space heaters, but not before the water pipes had frozen.  This could be a very expensive mistake, replacing broken lines and fixtures if it froze solid.  We were very lucky as it thawed enough on a warm day to force some antifreeze into the pipes and fill the lines while displacing the water.  The weather turned in our favour and the fireplace was enough to keep us comfortable until I could fix the issue with the furnace.
I have usually managed to fix most problems in the past but I went through just about everything I could think of and could not find the cause.  It is a good thing it was spring and we really didn't need heater again until the fall so we thought we'd call a repairman at some point during the summer. 
Fast forward a couple of months later (told you I was behind in my posts) and I started looking at it again and wouldn't you know, I had it fixed in a half hour!  I was checking the fuse for the 20th time since it first quit and it was still fine.  I decided to open up the fuse panel and took the front cover off to reveal the culprit of our issues... which leads to our...
Fulltime Lesson #7 :  Check your panel periodically for loose connections.  It is also a good idea to check anything that can jiggle loose over time and miles travelled.
I do have a gripe with the manufacturers of RV's here.  The furnace wire inside the fuse panel was loose and as a result was arcing causing the wire to burn.  This could have started an electrical fire and been very dangerous, if not deadly.  I checked the other connections and many others were loose also.  So either the connections were not tightened properly in the factory or they are putting electrical panels in RV's that the lugs loosen up as you travel, either way this is not something that should happen. 
 This is an approximate route we took this winter.
So what is the "new beginning" in the title? We have moved to the Barrie KOA  and are working part-time this summer, staying here until the cold chases us away for another winter down south.  We have been here for a couple of months already and it has been great!  Detra is in the office/store and I work in maintenance a few days a week.  The people and the park are both nice here and we have settled in very comfortably. 
Abby checking out the new digs.
 Our home for the summer.
Better late than never,

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

East by North-East

The end of winter signaled that it's time for us to turn this rig around and go home.  There is a different feel to travelling home than when we set out to explore the west.  We set out with definite plans of where and what we were going to see and do and we managed to do it all, with the exception of just one or two minor things.  There were also plenty of things we've seen and done along the way that we had no idea of when we started out on our journey. 

I guess that is the draw for explorer's of the past, present and future.  People love to know what is over that mountain, at the end of a river or the bottom of a canyon and want to experience them for themselves.  I love to imagine what the first brave adventurer's thought and what made them push on towards the west in the face of so many obstacles and hardships we can't even fathom today.

 We felt free and excited to explore just like them last fall and see what we would find in the west.  I do admit we are doing it in an air conditioned truck with full warranty and roadside assistance, GPS (two of them actually), cell phones, dozens of maps, Trip Advisor and the web to do research as we go.  We also have 38' of trailer with everything you could want in it tagging along behind us.  We get the thrill of seeing new things without the threat of starving, freezing or being eaten by some animal.  The left coast journey has been fun but it's time to go home and see family and friends again.

Our trip feels like it's over until we look at the map and see we are thousands of miles from home and have to get back.  Starting off we head into the Mojave desert and our first bit of trouble looking for Sierra Trail RV Park which was to be a one night stop over. I missed the road for the park and decided to turn around on a little dirt road, as I backed up I unknowingly managed to run the trailer into a bush and mound of dirt.  When we made it to the park we realized the whole rear quarter of the 5th wheel was bent and scratched, we even had to go back to where it happened and find some missing bits of trim.  To say I was mad at myself is an understatement, I did manage to straighten much of it out and buff out some scratches but the trailer is just not as pretty as it once was.

The next day we head off to drive through Death Valley on our way to a week long stay in Pahrump, NV.  We head north on lightly used two lane road through the ominously named valley.  All was well on hot day, cruising along at 55mph as we head up out of the valley, a message pops up on the dash and says "Reduced Engine Power".  The truck slows to a crawl on a road with no shoulder, on the edge of DEATH VALLEY!!!!?  The gauges , oil pressure, water temperature and electric were all fine and there were no strange noises or anything else to cause concern.  We sat there stunned for a minute wondering what went wrong.  I hit the OnStar button and was told it was a sensor that needed to be checked and I could have it serviced at my convenience.  I explained that we were stuck in the middle of the road in Death Valley and the truck won't move.  The lady told us she could arrange a tow if we wanted and I explained again the truck stopped on it's own.  I decided to shut everything off and restart the truck to see if it would help get it moving.  Well that did the trick and we were on our way!  Why they set it up to strand you at the side of the road for a sensor that I can have checked at my convenience, I don't know.

The Nevada Treasure RV Park, a spot that is great if you want to sit and relax.  This resort has nice sites to while away the time and some of them have gas grills and gazebos.  What makes this place a little different than most is that is has a six lane bowling alley that is only $5 for three games, a restaurant/bar serving up food at prices that make cooking for yourself hardly worth it and to top it off a gym with every type of equipment, sauna, hot tub and steam bath.  If you wanted to spend an inexpensive winter sitting somewhere getting in shape you could do worse.  All this and Las Vegas is just an hours' drive away.

We had spent a week in Pahrump and then we headed down to the Big Bend of the Colorado State Park just outside of Laughlin, Nevada, the third largest gambling center in Nevada.  This is a first come first serve park so you take your chances on getting a site.  The park has full hook-ups and huge pull-through sites and is a great place to stay and play in the river or at the slots in town.  It was fun watching the Road runners, which we had not seen before, run around the sites in the mornings.

Our Big Bend of the Colorado site.
We spent the maximum allowed ten days here just relaxing and enjoying the surroundings and having fires at night under the stars.
Time to move towards home again we hit the highway and stopped at the Homolovi State Park in Arizona for a one night stop over.  There ruins of an old Hopi Nation settlement which at one time had thousands of people living here over three different periods between AD 620 to AD 1400.  It is a very large and impressive ruin spread out over the grasslands along the Little Colorado River.  Walking around this place reminded me of when we were in Pompeii years ago on our first cruise.
Some of what remains of the many pueblos here.
Our site and view at Homolovi.
When we were set up we drove into the nearby town of Winslow, Arizona.  As anyone of my generation will tell you there is one thing you have to do here and that is stand on the corner.  The Eagles song "Take it Easy" the famous line is brought to life here by the local people.  A park was built on the corner complete with a flatbed Ford truck and a statue of what they call a '70's man, that looks like Glenn Frey to me.
Here I am standin' on the corner.
We also travelled another little bit of Route 66.
 After morning coffee we headed off towards Albuquerque, NM

I'll have the rest of our return trip up in a few days,

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Last of Photo Challenge

Back to the San Diego Zoo for my last picture.
We are back in Canada and I'll have a post up soon about the return trip.
'til then

Monday, 6 April 2015

Photo Challenge Day 4

Here is the day 4 photo challenge
Golden statue overlooking San Simeon from Hearst Castle.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

B & W Photo Challenge #3

B & W Photo Challenge #3

This was taken from our site at the base of the Superstition Mountains.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Day Two B & W Photo

Here is my second pic for the challenge.


I took this from the shore of the Salton Sea

Friday, 3 April 2015

Black & White Photo Challenge

Jim, of Jim and Barb's Adventure has asked me to be in a B & W photo challenge.  Here is the first picture in a series of 5 to be posted over the next five days. 

(click to enlarge)
I took this at the San Diego Zoo, I love the calm, relaxed look on the orangutan's face.


Saturday, 28 February 2015

San Francisco Treat

I confess, I've been behind schedule on my updates to this blog.  In the rush to publish my last post I left out an interesting stop just up the road from Hearst Castle.  Piedra Biancas is just a few miles north of the castle's driveway.  A colony of elephant seals return here a few times a year for molting, breeding and giving birth at various times of the year.  There is a boardwalk for viewing and to keep people away from the seals as they go about their business.  It is quite the sight when you walk up and see thousands of seals lying on the beach but what you don't expect is just how loud and active some of them are.  The huge males that can reach upwards of 5000lbs and 16 feet long and are very watchful over their females.  You can see the younger males trying to breed but the older and larger,  dominant seals chase them away.  It is almost comical to watch the young guy over there trying his best to be romantic and this old bull comes crawling surprisingly fast across the beach through hoards of females to scare him off.  It must get very tiresome for them because it is a non-stop game of tag.

"The Chase...a love story"
Moving up the coast we headed for San Francisco.  If you want to visit this area in an RV be prepared to spend a little more than you normally do.  All the parks, even including the state parks are on the higher end than we like to spend.  $50/night is where most start and it goes up quickly from there.  We weren't happy about that, but we knew we had to see San Francisco while we were here on the left coast.  We ended up at Coyote Valley RV Resort for the week which is an hour south in San Jose. 
 It was the President's Day long weekend when we headed for down to Fisherman's Wharf at the city's famous waterfront. This is were you catch the ferry over to Alcatraz Island and the notorious prison.  We booked online a couple of days in advance because it always sells out, they can only take a limited amount of people on the ferries at a time.  While cruising over you get a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city of San Francisco skyline. 
There's PCH 1 again!
Alcatraz, nice place to visit if you're not a criminal.
The view of the city from Alcatraz.
The tour is well organized by U.S. Park Service and your $30 gets you the ferry ride and the very good audio tour.  You can spend as much time as you want on the island once you are there, just be sure to be on the last ferry ride back to the pier. 
Once on the island you have to walk up four hills to get to the start of the tour.  There is a shuttle to take you up if have trouble walking up the fairly steep inclines.  Once you pick-up your headphones you just follow the prompts as you listen to former prisoners and guards as they relate their experiences and how things were done in the day to day running of the prison. 
First stop for prisoners, showers and dress in inmate clothing.

 Aisles named after famous streets.

A typical cell.

Mess hall

Inmates could sit here and see what they were missing across the bay.
 They cover the few escape attempts and the more famous inmates that were imprisoned here like Al Capone, "Machine gun Kelly" and The Birdman of Alcatraz, Robert Stroud (who actually didn't keep birds in Alcatraz).  It is a very good tour and well worth the time and money to learn about one of the most infamous prisons in history.
We walked along the waterfront that was now packed with people on this beautiful sunny Saturday. 
Lots to see and do here.
Pier 39
 We turned away from the water and headed towards town to see what we could find.  Taylor St. took us to Columbus Ave which is lined with restaurants and bars and was full of patrons enjoying the day.  Walking up here we stumbled across San Francisco's Chinatown, where all the streets were closed for a huge street festival full of anything and everything Chinese.  This was so crowded it was incredible, we took in the sights, sounds and smells like it was a different country, walked out the other side back into the U.S.A.
Crush of people for as far as you can see.

Drive back through San Jose we came across, surprise!, a DDD restaurant by the name of Naglee Park Garage, a tiny converted garage that serves delicious meals and desserts.  You walk in and order at the counter before you sit down, we both had the Tri-tip steak sandwich and we shared a bread pudding for dessert.  They have limited seating inside but a large patio outside that was perfect on this warm evening.  The food was very tasty and everything they make looked fantastic as it passed by our table.
People line up before it opens at 5pm. and then it closes at 9:30pm.
One more must see for us while we were in the area were the redwood trees.  There are only certain places where you can see old growth redwoods and Big Basin State Park is one of them. There is camping allowed here but our 5th-wheel is too large, so a day trip was answer.  The route to the park took us over some incredibly winding and narrow roads over the mountains and through dense forest.  There were redwoods but not the old, huge ones we were looking for.  Logging had nearly wiped out the trees around here and it takes hundreds of years to grow to full height.  Some are 1800 years old and in this park close to 300 feet tall (think 30 story building).
They just look like regular trees without perspective...

...that's better

Even the Banana Slugs are big.

Inside a burnt-out tree.
Pictures can't do justice to this forest towering over you, blocking out the sun making it cool and humid as you walk the trails in awe at the sheer size of these, the world's tallest trees.
Santa Cruz sits south of the park and we headed down to it for different loop around back to the trailer.  Turns out this is a very popular spot on a long weekend as the traffic would prove.  Ocean Drive heads appropriately to the ocean and to a DDD restaurant.
The Santa Cruz Diner has a huge menu of many different types of food at good prices.  Detra enjoyed her pot roast which was good for her.  I on the other hand, felt like fish and chips and ordered without much thought.  Well I guess it had to happen at some point in a DDD spot, but I was very disappointed in my meal.  I didn't ask in advance and I know they specialize in different foods but this was pre-frozen fish that wasn't much better than something you'd throw in the oven at home.  In the future I think I'll stick to the house specialties and not have this happen again.  I would give this place another chance as many of the meals looked good, just stay away from the fish.
Dinner over we decided to check out the boardwalk here that has theme park rides and games as well as some beach areas.  This was mistake #2 on the night.  The place is absolutely packed on a long weekend, we didn't even get out of the truck because there wasn't parking anywhere close to the action.  It was getting dark anyhow so we headed for home.  A drive that would normally be about an hour turned into almost 2.5hrs with the holiday stop and go traffic.
Santa Cruz looks like an interesting town with plenty to see and do, just stay away on long weekends because it is a zoo.
 San Francisco Is a place you could leave your heart as Tony Bennett once sang.  This is a vibrant city and seems no matter where you go, people here are enjoying what it has to offer and we were no exception.  Returning to the waterfront on a weekday and it was still a busy happening spot.  We didn't return for the wharf, we were here because this is the end of the line for one of the three cable car lines. 
We bought our tickets and then waited 45mins in line to get on.  This is not the way to do it if you come here for the ride.  The crowd waits here to get on and then the car heads up the hill a quarter mile and makes it's first stop, this stop is were you want to get on so you can avoid the wait with the masses. 
This is the best $6 you'll ever spend.  We took the Powell and Hyde St. cable car from the water up over the huge hill to the middle of downtown San Francisco.  Everyone knows S.F. has hills but just how steep and long they actually are makes you wonder what they were thinking building a city here.  I have a whole new respect for Steve McQueen's car chase in the "Bullitt" movie.  The ride is more fun than some carnival rides I've taken, hang off the side, stopping traffic in the middle of intersections, going up and the more exciting hitting the top and heading down the steep grade, people wave, you've never felt so good on public transportation!  I even high-fived a guy on a car going the other way, nearly broke my arm and I think his shoulder popped, but what fun!
Hill is steeper than it looks and that's Alcatraz in the bay.
End of the line close to Union Square.
Powell St. and Union Square from the top floor of Macy's.
San Francisco came across as an active, lively city with things happening everywhere you go.  It probably has something to do with the tremors that hit he city 20 times a day, not that we noticed any while we were here.  We liked it here very much, but it seems I say that about every city we visit.  We find each place has it's high points but San Francisco has it all, it's like New York without the scary undertones. 
That's as long as you don't worry about the place falling down around you when the big one comes.
Shaken and Stirred,