Monthly Archives: March 2019

Monterey, CA and Big Sur

We spent the last few days just north of Monterey, at the Marina Dunes RV Park. The park is small and next to Hwy 101, so we had a bit of road noise, but the location was great. It was across the street from a beautiful beach and only 10 minutes from Monterey and Carmel.

We enjoyed walking across the street, sitting on the beach and catching a beautiful sunset.

The Monterey Aquarium had been on my bucket list for quite some time, as numerous people have recommended it. I’m glad I finally took the time to visit it, as it is fabulous. Our first stop was the fish feeding show.

Our favorite exhibit was the Jellyfish.

After visiting the Aquarium we strolled through Cannery Row, where we came upon the monument below. Author John Steinbeck is at the top of the rock, with friend and marine biologist Ed Ricketts toward the bottom. The other individuals represent those who once worked in the bustling canning industry on the row.

We then stopped by the Point Pinos Lighthouse in Pacific Grove. This lighthouse has been active since 1855.

In the evening we made our way to Carmel Beach for sunset.

Once the sun set we walked up the street and had a romantic dinner at Carmel Bouchee. We had visited this restaurant 6 years ago, shortly after we became engaged.

We were fortunate to have one day where there was little wind and clear skies. We took advantage of it and spent the day traveling along Hwy 1 from Carmel to McWay Falls, in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Here are some pictures I captured along our way.

Bixby Bridge

McWay Falls
At the far upper right corner you can see Rocky Point Restaurant, where we enjoyed lunch.
The day ended with a beautiful sunset.

We are now on our way to Yosemite National Park. Unfortunately, it looks like we might get a lot of rain during our stay. More on that later……

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From Los Angeles to Paso Robles, CA: Mar. 3-12, 2019

After spending two weeks in Indio we headed to the LA area for a short stint, as Charlie wanted to visit with a high school friend he had not seen for 45 years. On the way to our campground we stopped by the Nixon Library. We spent a few hours there, found it very informative and well done.

Charlie and I sat behind the desk in the Oval Office and got a feel for what it would be like to be the president :-).

Our campground, Walnut RV Park, was located in Northridge. It was a small campground that, for us, served the sole purpose of being the closest place to Charlie’s friend where we could park the RV. We originally had reservations at the Malibu RV Park, but that park was damaged by the wildfires that tore through Malibu last Fall and it isn’t scheduled to reopen until mid summer. We were quite disappointed.

In the picture below you can see the Malibu RV Park to the left. Note the blue tarp and burnt trees.

This is a picture showing the scorched mountain region around Malibu and a roped off area of where a house once stood. It is really sad to think about what the residents had to endure as the fires raged, especially up in the Paradise, CA region.

As I mentioned earlier, our main reason for visiting the area was so that Charlie could meet up with an old friend of his. Don, and his wife Penny, had us over for a great dinner. Don works in the film business doing sound editing for movies. We were able to see a small portion of what he does, as he was in the process of editing an upcoming movie called Ford v. Ferrari starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon. It was fascinating to see how voices and sound effects are added, accentuated, tweaked, etc. to impact how the movie is viewed.

Per Don’s suggestion, we had lunch in Santa Monica at The Lobster. We sat at a window table which gave us a beautiful view of the Pier, beach and ocean. The food was excellent!

Our last day in the area was spent at the Reagan Library. It is a beautiful facility on top of a hill in Simi Valley. We absolutely loved this library. The Air Force One jet and Helicopter used during Reagan’s tenure are at the library and you are able to tour them. Charlie was imaging what it would be like to be the helicopter pilot.

I was imaging what it would be like giving a speech to everybody from the President’s pulpit.

The Pompeii exhibition was at the library while we were there. They displayed true artifacts, including wall-sized frescos, marble and bronze sculptures, jewelry, and full body casts of the volcano’s victims. The transformation that occurred in this city within minutes of the volcano erupting is almost unimaginable. Seeing this exhibit brings it to reality.

From the LA area we drove up Hwy 101 to Paso Robles. This was our first visit to the area and we absolutely loved it. We found all of the people to be extremely friendly. The city still has a small town feeling to it. We visited a few wineries and enjoyed some great food at the local restaurants.

The area around Paso Robles is just beautiful. I’m sure when the grapes are in full bloom that it is a spectacular sight. We may have to come back for another visit.

We found dinner at Fish Gaucho to be very good, especially the double boned pork chop. Our favorite restaurant though was The Catch. We dined there twice and sat at the bar both times. This gives you a front seat to all of the cooking excitement. The owner, Chico, is the chef. I snapped this picture of him from my seat at the bar, at the end of the evening.

Now, if you like Bloody Mary drinks, then I’d suggest La Cosecha Bar.

We visited the Hearst Castle twice during our week long visit. This was because on our first visit it ended up pouring down rain while we were up at the castle. Therefore, we were unable to see any of the grounds or the views. During our second visit we had beautiful weather. In the end, we took the Grand Rooms Tour, the Upstairs Suites Tour, and the Cottages & Kitchen Tour. We are now Hearst Castle aficionados.

The Hearst Castle architecture is stunning. The house can be seen, sitting on the mountain top, from quite a distance away.

Hearst collected art from all over the world. His collection is outstanding and on display throughout the castle and grounds. The pool is unbelievably gorgeous and the views are breathtaking.

Along Hwy 1, just down the road from the Hearst estate, are beautiful views of the coastline.

While in Paso Robles we stayed at the new Cava Robles RV Resort. We really liked it. There are over 300 sites and while we were there only about 30 of them were occupied. There were more families with small kids at this resort than we had seen elsewhere. That could be due to the fabulous pools and the fact that they have a cafe/bar on-site. Within a couple of weeks the park expects to fill up and remain that way through September. I’m glad we hit it on the off-peak time.

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Indio, CA

We recently spent 2 weeks in Indio, CA, just outside of Palm Springs. We had a great time visiting with friends and enjoying some outdoor activities.

During one chilly, but partly sunny day, we made our way up to the Joshua Tree National Park. This is an interesting park in that it encompasses two ecosystems. A portion of the park resides at or above 3,000 feet. This part of the park, in the Mojave Desert, is where the Joshua Trees are found. The Joshua Tree is a type of Yucca that grows predominantly in this area.

The part of the park below 3,000 feet, in the Colorado Desert, features natural gardens of creosote bush, ocotillo, and cholla cactus, as well as wildflowers. These wildflowers bloomed following some recent rain.

I spotted a few hummingbirds around the flowers.

Keys View, the highest peak in the park at an elevation of 5,185 ft, is a great place to capture a panoramic view of the Coachella Valley. The temperature, while we were at Keys View, was in the low-30s.  The view was a bit hazy, but nice.

Back in Indio, we hiked a 5-mile trail called East Indio Badlands. Charlie used his drone to capture the environment. You can see why they call the area ‘Badlands’.

Although, we did find some wildflowers here too.

We took an interesting day trip through Borrego Springs and to a small mountain town called Justin. We headed south on Hwy 86, along the Salton Sea, to S22 (the Borrego Salton Seaway) and turned westward.  Hwy S22 rides along the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument range. We came across some RVers dry-camping with some great views. We may have to try this at some point.

While driving around Borrego Springs we came upon these life sized metal sculptures. There are 130 sculptures inspired by creatures that roamed the desert millions of years ago. The artworks include prehistoric mammals, dinosaurs, horses, and even a 350-foot-long serpent.  It was not a great day to take pictures when we were there. To see better photos or to read more about the sculptures check out this article: https://www.desertusa.com/borrego/bs-art.html

We found wildflowers, and some butterflies to go with them, in the desert area around the town.

From Borrego Springs we drove south on S3 (Yaqui Pass Rd) to Hwy 78. These roads are surrounded by the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, making it a very scenic drive. We continued on Hwy 78 to Julian, where we found snow on the ground. Julian is best known for great pies. We couldn’t leave the town without one. While we were in the Julian Pie Company shop I spotted a news article on the wall. It was about how Liz Smothers, the owner of the shop, taught her pie-making techniques to Mike Bulsey so that he and his family could return to his home state of Michigan and open up the Grand Traverse Pie Company. Being from Michigan I am well aware of the great pies served up at GTPC and was happy to learn a little bit about its beginning.

After an early dinner, with pie, we headed back to Indio. We got to the Coachella Valley Lookout just as the sun was setting. You can see Palm Desert in the distance.

Each Thursday night Palm Springs has a street fair. We really enjoyed our evening, walking along the streets, checking out what the local vendors had to offer. The food options were amazing.

We had a mini reunion with some fellow Mountain Falls Resort owners (our home base resort in North Carolina) while in Indio. We enjoyed many dinners and cocktail hours with Kurt & Michelle Ling, Bob & Sue Grote, and Steve & Carol Aasheim. It was great to spend some quality time with our Mountain Falls neighbors.  

We also had the opportunity to catch up with friends Deb and Terri, who own a brick and mortar house in Palm Springs. They also own a house in Albuquerque. This means we will see them again at the end of our road trip, when we attend the Balloon Fiesta. We enjoyed some great conversations and dinners with them. Out favorite dinner was at the famous Copley’s restaurant in downtown Palm Springs. The restaurant is located on part of the former Cary Grant estate.

While in Indio, we stayed at Outdoor Resorts. This Class A Motor Coach Resort is very nice, as seen from these photos.

Our next stop is in the Los Angeles area for a few days. We’ll be visiting the Nixon and Reagan Presidential Libraries. More on that later…..

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