We’re just about to roll into Baja where internet is sparse so this is a catch-up. We’ve enjoyed moving through coastal California the past few weeks.
We met up with Sandie & Karsten in Redwoods National Park after parting ways this past July. It was really sweet to hang out for a few days and see all the big trees together. Remember all that rain that California got? Well we got our share in northern California for sure. But it wasn’t a washout. We camped at Elk Prairie right in the park. One day after some high winds, the scenic park road was closed due to fallen branches but it was OK for bikes to pass. That left us with an awesome loop bike ride to do on the empty road, on single track trails both through the trees and along the lonesome shore. We biked through sand, puddles, over roots and under limbs. We portaged our bikes at times and made an assembly line to hand them over fallen trees. It was a great day and we all thought so which made it even better. It was lovely to finally explore this park and all the huge, old trees were very moving to stand under.
We finally made some limoncello with the Everclear that we got in Oregon, since you need nearly pure alcohol to get the flavor out of the rind. It turned out nice and its a pretty yellow although I think I should have used Meyer lemons.
We’ve been wanting to travel coastal Rt 1 for many years and this was our year to do it. The Lost Coast is an especially pretty, lonesome section of it and the cute little town of Ferndale is where Mark & Anne joined us so we were 3 trucks for a couple of days. We celebrated Sandie’s birthday that first night and had one of her favorite dinners- a little bit of everything that we all contributed to based around her famous homemade bread and good wine!
The town was cute with an official Main St. that even had the grocery store on it, an old cemetery with a view on a hillside and you could camp at the county fairgrounds so it was an easy walk in. It was the largest fairground I’ve ever seen and even had monuments to the cows that had produced the most weight in cream. Jon found a must have hat there and he’s pretty happy about his purchase.
We all moved down to Point Arena, a slice of beautiful coastline with a lighthouse where we could camp alongside the cliffs. But it took us en extra day to get there because the main road was flooded. We walked the beach and saw huge balls of kelp washed up because there was so much wind offshore with the storms. We heard that some sections of coast that we traversed had gotten over 8 inches of rain. It was sort of cool to travel the road in the foggy conditions because it lent a certain feel to it but it wouldn’ve been nice to have the warmth of the sun and the blue sky to light everything up pretty. I could never live along that coast because the dampness would drive me nuts. One thing though is neither of us ever realized that the California coast is like one continuous park. The amount of open space, trails and beach is really impressive. It was hard to pass up all those trails too, but you can only be so wet for so long. We all really enjoyed Point Arena and I love the way we all went out in the morning on our own to run or walk, together but separate.
The scenery was beautiful, all the waves crashing in and any inlet where waves had trouble exiting, the sea was like cream, the white froth sticking to the rocks like the frothed milk in our cappuccino cup. We had a long happy hour, comfy in our chairs, beside our trucks just like old times and it felt good.
Then we parted ways with Sandie & Karsten again until Baja. Mark had a line-up of friends and family for us to meet and places to show us along the southern California coast where he grew up. We made some miles each day but fit in some fun things too. I was all excited to see the elephant seal colony, one of the largest in the world, but it was closed the day we were passing through. Maybe we’ll catch them on the way back through.
Along the way, we made a pass through Watsonville to drop off Ivan’s leaf springs & shocks (he’s doing an upgrade too) at his van so they will be waiting there when he returns from Spain. He & Jon had ordered them at the same time from Germany to save on shipping. This part of California is where the majority of produce is grown and we saw the massive fields of strawberries, cabbage, lettuce, the geenhouses of raspberries and the workers out in bunches taking care of it all. There is something about seeing all that… well I sure appreciate all of the produce available and what it takes to get it to the shelves. We got some good avocados. It was nice to see the area and its funny how many miles we drove with the air smelling like cabbage.
We spent a day at Pinnacles National Park and took an early morning hike hoping to see the California condors that live there. I love that time of day, early morning, everything is still quiet and the light is beautiful. The grape vines on the way up were such pretty fall colors. Well there weren’t any condors around but we enjoyed the pinnacle rock formations and just like any national park, we like how good the trails are and the classy way everything is presented to you.
It was nice to finally see in person some of the places we’ve heard for so long like Cayucas, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Huntington Beach. We walked along the waterfronts watching all the surfers looking like seals and the coastal plants were very colorful too. We had more people we would have liked to stop and see but there wasn’t enough time to fit everything in. I feel inspired to come back and stay longer and get out to the islands too. We sure did some great eating and visiting and we’ve now met all 4 Mark’s sisters and some of his close buddies from way back when. Being able to park up for the night in each of the houses we stopped at and enjoy their hospitality made it easy for us visit too as there isn’t much place to stay otherwise.
While in Hollywood, we finally got together with Jon’s cousin Loranne. It’s so good when a plan comes together! She picked us up and brought us on a VIP tour of the Warner Brothers studios since she’s worked in LA for years as a producer and for several at Warner Bros. You ride around the outdoor sets in a golf cart, pass by all the studios with active filming going on and then there’s a brand new building with a lot of interactive exhibits where you can learn so much about special effects, their invention of Dolby sound, study a lot of the costumes up close for famous movie stars or super heroes. Of course we loved Friends and know many episodes by heart so sitting on the couch was fun. Then Loranne took us out for lunch so we could catch up and make plans for the next time we are passing through. It’s always nice to see family.
So the turbo is working out really well so far, we definitely have more grunt in lower gears which helps with shifting and maintaining speed on hills. It has a throatier sound than the old one. We do have a new sound which is like a rattle and we haven’t found it so far. One other rattle that we did find was the screws that hold the cover plate on the visco fan that blows air on the radiator vibrated out which left it dangling. Even though we’re always looking at the truck to see if anything is loose it sure is hard to catch all of it! Jon just installed some guages today to monitor the turbo and the how hard the engine is working. He had to order a new battery to battery charger to charge the house bank when we’re driving because after two Sterling chargers broke, it was time to try a different brand- this time Victron. And the last charger that was supposed to allow us to charge the start battery using our house bank so we wouldn’t be stuck on the side of the road again, got so delayed by Fedex that it never showed up until after we’d left Hollywood. We’re proceeding without it. Shipping is so frustrating these days.
After years of cruising and stocking up for 6 months or more at a time, it’s hard to break that habit. So we’re pretty well stuffed to cross over to Baja tomorrow with Mark & Anne. We’ll have all of our favorite foods on board for a while! We plan to revisit some cool spots we found this past winter to show them and then discover some new places together too.