Our fifth wheel and the truck

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cold, Colder, Bl**&^ Freezing!

Welcome back one and all. This week’s blog is marginally more interesting than last week’s one. At least we did more than sit around!

We stayed in Casa Grande till Friday and thoroughly enjoyed it.

We had some errands to run and had to pick up the quilt top. Now that was a bit of a hoot! Unbeknownst to me, the phone had run out of minutes and I couldn’t receive or make a call. And it wasn’t until I tried to call Barbara to find out if she had finished the quilt that I realized that we had no minutes left.

The quilt was supposed to be finished on Saturday but as I hadn’t heard from Barbara I thought it wasn’t finished. So, on Tuesday I decided to ring her myself and that’s when I discovered the problem. I immediately put time back on the phone and rang Barbara. I didn’t even get a chance to say hello before she started. She was going to ring the police because we were missing and no one knew where we were and someone might have done something nasty to us and no one would be any the wiser. She was frantic as she had been trying to ring since Saturday with no joy of course. Anyway she calmed down when I reassured her we were safe and unhurt. Needless to say when we went to get the quilt she got stuck into me again. She really had been very worried about us and I really do appreciate her concern.

Lesson learned! Family wouldn’t have been able to contact us by phone so needless to say I will be keeping an eye on the phone in the future!

Thursday was our first experience of Thanksgiving and a very sincere thanks to all the residents in Casa Grande who made us feel so welcome.

It was an interesting experience! Did you know that you can have pumpkin pie and baked pumpkin as vegetables with your main meal and then you can have pumpkin pie as your dessert? This is so different. Yes I know we can have baked pumpkin and some sweet things like pumpkin scones but this is so weird! Regardless of that however, the food was really lovely and soooo much of it. The company was wonderful and a good time was had by all.

For the shopaholics amongst you, I have to tell you. The shops were opening the day after Thanksgiving and some were opening at 6.00am, some then said 4.00am while others chimed in with opening at 3.00am. It was absolute madness when one shop said they would be opening at 12.01am. Apparently, the day after Thanksgiving is called ‘Black Friday’ even though it isn’t the 13th. It is called that because the shops hope that with the start of the Christmas spending they will be in the ‘black’!

Friday we set off again, a bit late by the time we had said all our farewells, for Deming in New Mexico. We have been assured that it will be warmer there than in Casa Grande which was in Arizona. Yeah right!!!!! Oh yeah, we passed three buses with Andre Rieu & the Johann Straus Orchestra written on the side on our way from Arizona. I had a look on the internet and discovered they were doing a concert in Glendale, AZ on Monday night. Had I known, I would have begged Norm to go. Having been to their concert in Perth last year, I would have loved to go again. Oh well - another time.

We arrived Friday afternoon just in time for social hour in the bunkhouse at the RV park and made ourselves known. The conversation got around to the weather and it was with absolute horror that Norm and I learned that we should disconnect the water hose from the tap and our RV as it was going to get down to 17F overnight and the water in the hose would freeze causing burst hoses and possible damage to the RV! Shock! Horror! It is supposed to be warmer than Casa Grande!!!!

Well we did as told and, sure enough, the next morning the water in the tap was frozen solid. So no water for the RV and no shower till the ground warmed up enough to thaw the water.

We headed off for a day of sightseeing and as Norm went to have a drink from his water bottle, we discovered that the water in the bottle was frozen solid. The bottles had been in the truck all night!!!

Our destination for Saturday was to make it to the City of Rocks State Park and also to the Gila (pronounced Heela) Cliff Dwellings.

What always amazes me as we drive through this country is the diversity that seems to be just around each bend in the road.

We left Deming surrounded by flat country (with the inevitable mountains in the distance) covered with low, sparse vegetation with lots of yuccas. There was some farming and some cattle.

We turned off for the City of Rocks and were absolutely amazed at these monoliths stuck in the middle of nowhere and just sticking out of the desert. While nowhere near as big as Uluru they were, none-the-less, absolutely fascinating. Picnic and camping areas had been located in amongst the rocks and provided private little camping areas. An absolutely great place for kids! Of course the camera was very busy the whole time we were there. You take one photo and then another one and then another one. I was fascinated by the shapes and arrangements of the rocks.

From the City of Rocks we headed north through more desert like country when we came upon what looked like a water course with lots of trees that looked like they were dead. (We figured it out that they were deciduous and had just lost all their leaves for the winter.) The road seemed to follow the line of trees and eventually we were able to catch a glimpse of a small creek. We continued along the creek and without warning found ourselves in the Gila National Forest and we were climbing mountains.

It is absolutely amazing how the countryside can change so dramatically in such a short space of time! The next thing we came around a bend to a sign saying Lake Robert. Yep we thought that would be just right, driving through what can only be described as desert and then the next thing there is a lake. We took a half mile drive down to the lake and it was just gorgeous. One of the guys fishing, assured me that they catch trout in there although he wasn’t having much luck that day!

We continued through the mountains to the cliff dwellings. It is believed that the dwellings were built and then only inhabited for about thirty years but I tell you what! Whoever built them or used them had to have mountain goat in their blood because getting to them was really difficult and we had the advantage of some bridges across a stream. The cliff face is nigh on vertical with no undergrowth or trees to assist a climber. And the way down is just as bad! Archaeologists believe the caves have been used since the 1200’s however the smoke on the roof of the cave has been carbon dated as far back as 30,000 years.

Most (80%) of the construction that remains is authentic however small parts have been repaired with respect to the traditional methods of construction. There are small parts that you can tell are not original simply because of the colour. The original construction has weathered and changed colour a little while the new parts are still very clean looking. It certainly does not detract from the amazing detail in the dwellings or from the awesome effort that must have been put into building the dwellings in the first place.

I just love this country!!!!!

Today (Sunday) we decided to visit the Rockhound and Spring Canyon State Parks and to go south to Columbus (3 miles from the Mexican/USA border) Museum. The weather forecast for today is windy so we have been warned about the dust! What is a little dust you say! Wait till you see the photos!!!!!

The bag limit at the Rockhound park is 15lbs per car or per person, I am not sure. But just to reassure you all, neither Norm or I reached the bag limit! The bag limit is on the rocks that you can remove from the park!!!!!!

We took a hike around the park and as I said to Norm, I could have stepped on a diamond in the dust for all I know about gemstones! The park was fascinating but I think that if you were a serious rockhound you would leave the trail as it has probably been picked over by thousands of other rock hounds before you. We stayed on the trail!

From there we headed for Spring Canyon and took the half mile (hahahahaha) walk to Lovers’ Leap. After about a mile along a really, really rough, single lane goat track I had had enough, and while we didn’t make it to the Leap, it was a nice stroll - NOT and the views were really beautiful!

If I ever, ever forget again, please, please remind me that the Americans have real difficulty measuring distances for hike trails!!!! We have had this problem before but had forgotten - lulled into a false sense of security! It is probably half a mile as the crow flies which is great if you happen to be a crow!!!

We made it to Columbus - only just! As we were driving down State Highway 11 there were sections of the road where the visibility was down to next to nothing because of the dust whipped up by the wind. In fact, I tried to take a photo at one point and the only way I could give any indication of the visibility was to take a photo of the white line on the edge of the road! I have included it and some of the other photos especially the ones with the tumbling tumbleweeds! They really do dance across the road, and in many places, the only thing that stops them are the fences along the highway. The fences are piled high with them.

We stopped at the Columbus museum which was very interesting especially the things relating to Pancho Villa, a Mexican who achieved some status as a leader in the Mexican army but who ended up being a brigand and attacked the town of Columbus in 1916 in search of horses, food, clothing etc for his small band of outlaws I guess you would call them. We decided not to stay too long as the wind was picking up and the dust was getting thicker if that was possible so we headed home.

We are heading off again tomorrow back into Texas so my next report will see us having come full circle. Or maybe that is a figure eight?

Anyway whatever! We are having such a wonderful time and do you know something? We don’t ever have to go back to work and can live like this as long as our health will allow because that will fail before we get sick of this nomadic life. There is just so much to see in this country and the world in fact! We are just so lucky to be able to live this life.

Take care my dear family and friends. We think of you all often and wish you all health and happiness. Be kind to you.

Love and hugs from both of us.

P.S. We have learned to work the furnace while here in Deming!!! Had to, it has been so cold!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

One less on the 'Bucket List'.

G'day folks

We have been having a pretty quiet time of it for the last week or so. Since we left Pahrump and all the good folk there we have stayed in Phoenix and Casa Grande, Arizona.

We left Congress on Monday morning as I was fortunate enough to be able to buy two brilliant seats for the Phoenix Suns vs Denver Nuggets, NBA game. To see an NBA game was on Norm's 'Bucket' list as well as mine.

We were able to get seats in row eleven right on the centre line!! Couldn't have asked for better seats if we had tried. They put a dent in the budget but.. eh.. we were only planning on doing it once! We took a train into Phoenix (we were staying in Mesa) and grabbed something to eat before the game. I was so excited Norm kept telling me it was just like an NBL game back home. News Flash Norm!!!! No it wasn't! The whole atmosphere was different. More people, more entertainment, more of everything! It was just awesome and to make it a top night, Phoenix were down most of the game and came up to win so the Phoenix crowd was really pleased!

We took the train back to the car. Now that was another experience! Talk about sardines in a can! People were jammed in to the point that I was standing and had nothing to hang onto except Norm's jacket but it didn't matter because I couldn't have fallen over anyway! You really got 'up close and personal' with the person next to you or at least their armpit!

A quiet day followed and we made plans to leave for Casa Grande on Wednesday. We are not going to the Grand Canyon as they have had some snow falls and we don't really want to be driving in those conditions.

Have you ever noticed that I never detail any of my faux pas? I only ever tell you when Norm stuffs up! I write this so I control the content - so there Norm!

And of course this comment precedes another stuff up by Norm. I had decided that one of the footstools would look good with some perspex (acrylic sheeting) on the top of it with some photos underneath. The idea was that it could double as a coffee table. Well we went of to the Home Depot and after much explanation with the salesperson we were able to find what we were looking for! We got some and headed home. Norm wasn't sure how he was going to mold it but it needed to be heated so it could be bent over.

The Barbeque was to be our salvation as the piece wouldn't fit into the oven. So Norm heated the bbq and came inside and set the time. Beep beep and out Norm goes to check to see how it is going. The next second I hear him saying "oh Sh*&, oh sh*&'. I rush outside to see Norm trying to remove the melted perspex from the hotplate on the bbq. I would have laughed but I knew that my life wouldn't be worth living. We got it all off but that project has been put on hold for the time being. It would work just with a shorter time frame!

Because we were staying in one place I was able to get the top of my quilt finished and took it to a lady in Arizona City (just south of Casa Grande) to be quilted. Barbara was a really interesting lady. She has a complete four bedroom house set up as her quilting/scrapbooking place. It is unreal! What I wouldn't give to have the space she has. When we get home I might be able to talk Norm into building me a studio for my quilting! And pigs fly!!!!

The weather in Casa Grande has been wonderful. Lovely warm days and cold nights. So warm in fact that Norm and I have had to break out the shorts again. But it has been bl*^%$ cold at night. The polar fleece sheets are so warm it is great!

Remember back when we were in Kansas and I was describing the sea of yellow from the sunflowers? Well I have seen a sea of white here in Casa Grande! I always thought that cotton only grew in the south eastern states of the USA where there is lots of rain. Got that wrong didn't I - cotton is grown in Arizona! It is amazing and they are harvesting at the moment so there are these giant cotton packs the size of a shipping container, in the paddocks around here.

Can't wait for the next, and final, Harry Potter movie. We went to see the first part of the Deathly Hallows and it was soooo good.

We have really had a quiet time here in Casa Grande. We have been waiting for another parcel through the postal service and while we were planning on leaving on Saturday it still hadn't arrived. So we have decided to stay here till after Thanksgiving. The folks here at Casa Grande are so lovely and have really taken us into their group. We thoroughly enjoy the coffee hour in the morning and the happy hour in the afternoon. It is all really good fun.

This is a pretty short blog (and no saying thank goodness for that anyone!) as we have really been taking some time off from running around.

Take care everyone and stay healthy and happy. And I will see you back next week and maybe we will have some interesting places to report on.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Natural wonders and then man made wonders!

Hi everyone and welcome back.

As predicted in my last blog, this week, one of the highlights was Death Valley. What an absolutely stunningly diverse part of the world! It really blows you away - literally, when you visit Ubehebe Crater.

But wait,I am getting ahead of myself. The road into Death Valley is an interesting drive on its own. We were heading back the way we had arrived yesterday but had to turn off towards the Valley. The Amargosa Opera House was right on the corner as we turned off. Talk about out in the middle of nowhere or at least it seemed that way. This beautifully painted building was surrounded by many derelict and deserted buildings. Then as we continued down the road we were surprised, to say the least, when we saw a sign warning us that the road was subject to flooding! As there had been a few drops of rain in the Valley the previous night it made us hesitate- NOT!

Death Valley is part of the Mojave Desert and includes the hottest, lowest and driest places in North America. The lowest point is only 86 miles from Mt McKinlay which is the highest point in the US.

We stopped at Zabriskie Point on the way in and the view was just stunning. The mud hills are just so interesting. We were also able to see the 'track' that was used by the miners when mining was still permitted in the park. I for one wouldn't want to work there!

We entered the Valley past the Furnace Creek Resort. This was a beautiful resort with palm trees and beautiful gardens just as you enter the park. Talk about an oasis in the desert!

Then we arrived at Furnace Creek Village where we went to the visitor's centre only to be told that if we wanted to see everything (just like every other national park I guess) it would take us more than one day!!!

So we decided to take the drive up to Ubehebe Crater and then on the way back we could do all the stops we wanted to. Ubehebe Crater was formed by a volcano many years ago. It was a long drive up there but so worth it. When we got out of the car we were just about blown away by the wind. We literally had to stand with one foot in front of the other so that we weren't blown backwards. Just as well the wind was coming across the crater. If it had been going the other way who knows Norm might have been blown in! Oh well!

On the way back towards Furnace Creek Village we stopped at a number of fascinating views and even started to drive up to a canyon but after about 1/2 mile on a loose stone track we decided not to proceed. The only trouble with that was trying to turn around as on each side of the road there was a 2 feet high bank of large rocks! So we found the widest part we could, I hopped out of the truck and did my usual trick of running from the front to the back of the truck guiding Norm forward and backwards till he could drive back the way we had come. Not more than a seven point turn and we were right.

The desert was so beautiful but oh so inhospitable. There were parts where nothing was growing in what looked like a salt lake, there were sections where nothing could grow because the ground was just covered with rocks and then there were places where very low shrubby bushes were clinging to life in very sandy areas.

Before reaching the Village we took a turn off to have a look at the sand dunes. As we drove along we passed an area that looked like corn bushells that had been tied together and then right next to that, were the sand dunes. It was so unexpected and I hope the photo does it justice. People can walk all over the sand dunes and I just wonder how long it will be before so much damage is done that no one is allowed to walk there.

It is so hard to reconcile all the different geological features and land forms in Death Valley.

I have to tell you about Furnace Creek Village. This is an oasis with a motel, golf course and a lovely village but what really amazed me was the number of motorhomes, travel trailers (caravans), tents and fifth wheelers that were parked everywhere! I kid you not, there were RV's all over the place - some were in parks but many were just parked in the desert. There were thousands of them!!!! Obviously this is one of the snowbirds' favourite places to spend the winter. Even as we were leaving the park there were so many RV's driving in. And they certainly weren't cutting through, there is nothing on the other side of the park in California. If it is the hottest place in North America I don't think the summer would be a good time to stop there!

Why aren't the days long enough to see everything you want to? Because daylight saving has just finished (last night)and the sun sets in this part of the world at 4.30pm.

That is another thing I can't come to grips with - by 5.00pm it is pitch black. It really throws the body clock out of whack! You think it is 8.00pm and then you realise it is only 6.00pm - feels really weird!

Our next excursion was to drive through Las Vegas (we didn't stop) to Hoover Dam and the new O'Callaghan - Tillman bridge that has only just been completed.

When we were here in 2007 they were constructing the bridge and had put in some gigantic pylons that we saw. Because the drive across the dam was the only way to get from Nevada to Arizona and was very crowded we didn't stop. With the completion of the new bridge there is no through traffic across the dam so it is much more pedestrian friendly.

Hoover Dam has been built across the Colorado River and forms the state line between Nevada and Arizona. Lake Mead has been formed as a result of the dam and the surprising thing is that it took 6 years for the dam to fill after completion so that may give you some idea of how big it is.

We had a lovely day. We walked across the bridge and then the dam - both are brilliant constructions.

Some of the residents of the SKP park where we are staying told us that we HAD to go to have a look at the China Ranch Date Farm so our next excursion was back out into the Mojave Desert to locate the date farm.

You actually have to see the desert and the land formations on the drive to actually believe it. The date farm is in the middle of one of the most uninviting and driest landscapes that I have seen. We had to drive down a one vehicle track (slowly) into a valley where, when you drive around the last corner, there before you is a beautiful oasis with hundreds of date palms.

It had been suggested that we should buy a date smoothie and I was all ready to try one although Norm decided that he didn't want one. The trouble is I ended up with Norm eating most of mine because they were so yummy! I told him he should get one for himself but he didn't take the hint. He was happy just to eat mine! They also sold fresh dates, date biscuits and cakes. We were able to go for a walk in amongst the date trees and in the photo the things on the trees are items of clothing that are used to protect the dates from birds. Quite a sad story about the farm and the lady who planted the first dates but the current owners are certainly doing some terrific stuff. All the goodies tasted really lovely too.

We have had a great stay at the Pahrump,SKP park in Nevada and the folks there have been so lovely. We have really enjoyed the coffee time each morning and the happy hour every afternoon. Norm had lunch out with the fellas and I had lunch at the golf club with all the ladies and we had dinner out a couple of times when happy hour went a bit longer than 4.00 - 5.00pm. They were a fantastic group and we will be sorry to be moving on but we know that we will catch up with some of them on the road.

Our next stop will be in Congress, Arizona as we continue to move further south to stay warm.

I hope that you are all staying healthy and happy and would love you to leave me a comment. And thank you to Therapy Passion who has left quite a few comments! You are a wonder Penny!

Till next week I say farewell, take care and stay safe.

P.S. I took too many photos this week so you may need to scroll a bit further down to see the few I have put on the blog. Usually I can pick just a few but Death Valley was just so wonderful I kept taking photo after photo.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

There's a bear in there!!!

G’day y’all. Welcome to the ongoing (mis)adventures of the real Gray Nomads.

This has been a relatively uneventful week as we traveled on Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday. I am just joking! We did travel on those days but the events on the other days more than made up for it!!!

We are staying in the Yosemite Westlake RV Park about 25 miles from Yosemite and while the entrance to the park is a bit interesting and the drive here was a bit (read very) hair raising, it was a gorgeous place to stay. Beautiful trees in their fall colours and just so quiet. It probably helps that we are the only ‘non-permanent’ RV. It will provide us with an easy drive to Yosemite on Monday. One downside of this park is no TV and no WiFi. Is that a downside??? Nah!!!

What an amazing place Yosemite is! We had a lovely time. The sheer faces of the granite cliffs, the beautiful waterfalls and bubbling creeks. The gorgeous walks among the trees were just stunning and because it is the end of the summer there weren’t too many other folks. Of course I had forgotten (??) to pack some lunch so we stopped at the store and bought some crackers, cheese, dip and sliced meat and then sat out on the deck on our own enjoying the squirrels and the peace and quiet.

A bit later we were driving along a road and there was a little mule deer on the side of the road absolutely oblivious to the cars driving by. I asked Norm to stop and of course that took a while and I was sure that by the time I got back the deer would be gone but I got lucky as it was still there. As we approached it, it wasn’t the slightest bit phased by our presence and just kept eating. I wanted it to lift it’s head so Norm coughed and it looked up, looked at us and went back to eating. It must have been there for half an hour as cars stopped to take photos and people wandered by. It was just the best.

As there was no WiFi connection we drove into the bustling (NOT) town of Greeley Hill. The park manager told us that we could use the computers at the town library or if we wanted to we could park outside the real estate office and piggy back onto his WiFi. We went to the library! It was so busy - all four computers were in use and we had to wait till someone else finished as long as they finished before 3.00pm because that is when the library closed. We made it at about 2.40pm!!! And still had to be off by 2.55pm so the computers could be shut down!!!!!

Wednesday saw us on the road again heading to Tulare, still in California, which will be our base for visiting the Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park.

On arrival we met another couple, Robert and Mary, who pulled in right behind us and we got to chatting later. We arranged to have drinks and nibbles the next evening when we got back from the Parks. Again the best laid plans of mice and men!!!

Greg Wright told me that after seeing the giant Sequoia’s, the Redwoods would look like toothpicks. And oh boy, was he wright!!!!! To try to describe the immensity of these giants is virtually impossible. To really understand you have to stand at the base of one and look up. It is probably better if you could lie on the ground and look up. Saying they are huge or ginormous or immense is so lame.

We arrived in the park to discover that there were road works going on and that the road through the forest was only open for a short time to let the cars through every two hours. To fill the time we stopped at Hospital Rock. Now I can’t tell you why it is called Hospital Rock and it bears (remember that word - bear) no resemblance to a hospital although it is a rock. Two interesting features are the American Indian paintings on the face of the rock and the small cave underneath the rock. I was madly taking photos of the drawings when Norm called me to have a look in the cave. Lying in there and certainly not moving for anyone was a male deer with antlers. Just like the mule deer, this one wasn’t interested in us at all and I did learn later that some other people who were staying in the same RV park had also been taking photos of it about two hours before us!

Eventually we got past the road works and stopped at the visitor centre for a sticky beak and then moved on to a trail at the Big Trees Meadow. Wandering along the walk path and reading the information on the signs we were having a lovely time until some bloke yelled out, “There’s a bear in front of you!” Norm immediately turned on his heel and started retreating but I wasn’t quite so interested in turning around. The thought of getting a photo of a wild bear was sort of appealing. Another couple behind us joined us and we started edging our way forward trying to spot this bear. Finally we saw the black back of the bear foraging in the meadow just in front of us.

Norm thought it looked fairly small and was keeping a sharp eye out in case it was a cub and the mother bear was close by. As we got closer we decided it wasn’t really that small so mum probably wasn’t around so we kept on following it for about 15 minutes as it moved its way through the meadow and on to the path and then off into the forest again. It was so exciting and I couldn’t get enough pictures. Most of them were pretty ordinary but a few were okay. So that was one of the most exciting things to happen to us so far.

We spent the rest of the day wandering among the Sequoias. At one point we walked down to General Sherman tree. The sign said the walk was only about 0.6 miles so we decided to have a wander down and have a look. The only concern was that while the walk was short it was also downhill all the way and of course, when you walk downhill to get somewhere, on the way back it is all uphill. In actual fact the walk dropped 212 feet in the space of the 0.6 miles. Norm did offer to get the car and pick me up from the disabled parking area which was downhill from the tree but I declined and struggled back up the hill. Of course the altitude was around 7,000 feet which also increases the degree of difficulty. I made it!!!

Because of the road works we decided that our best bet, instead of going back and having to wait for the road to be opened at 6.00pm, we would continue through the Sequoia NP and then through Kings Canyon NP and then head back via another highway. So much for drinks and nibbles with Robert and Mary, we didn’t get back till about 6.30pm. Postponed for another day.

Kings Canyon is a really interesting place although you can’t get to most of it. It is the second largest ‘no road’ wilderness area in the US. There are places in there that no one can access.

Saturday we leave California for Pahrump in Nevada. Although we will be back in California on Sunday because we are going to be visiting Death Valley. It is just easier to get into the Valley from the Nevada side.

Norm wasn’t that fussed about visiting the valley but I really want to see it so guess what? We are going to drive into Death Valley.

I think that we will stay in Pahrump for a week or so just so our mail can catch up with us and besides, we are going to stay at an Escapees Park and may be able to catch up with some of the people we met on the ’Boot Camp’ in Indiana earlier. Even if we can’t it will be nice to stay in one place for more than a day or two and Escapees are such lovely people.

Next installment - Death Valley! so be sure to come and find out all about it. Can’t wait!

Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you find it interesting and once again I urge you to leave a quick comment. I would love to hear from you even if it is just to tell me that I talk too much!! You wouldn’t be the first and I doubt that you would be the last. LOL

To all our family and friends, wherever you may be, take care and stay healthy and happy. We think of you often but we are not coming home yet!!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Giant Redwoods, Napa Valley and San Francisco - how amazing!

Hello family and friends.

Does anyone else have a blog? If you have, have you ever looked at your ‘Stats’? Interesting that! I thought that I would have family and friends reading this here story but the stats tell me otherwise! I have people all over the world reading this soooo….. if you are reading this please, please leave me a comment or message so I can get to know you and include you among my friends.

Just a note about last week. We left the Crater Lake area with the weather threatening and the next day five feet of snow fell up at the crater!! Is our timing pretty good or what?

We are in Eureka, California now, having driven down from Oregon through those amazing redwood forests.

Let’s skip Monday as it was totally boring and wet and Norm had to get the truck serviced. Don’t get me wrong I love the rain but I have got used to having some sort of extraordinary experience nearly every day.

So, the plan for Tuesday was to drive south from Eureka along the Redwood Highway and through the Avenue of the Giants. So the new superlatives for this week! This was one of the most wonderful tours with the most majestic examples of Mother Nature’s handiwork. Every time you drive around a bend there are more new and gigantic specimens of these magnificent trees.

We spoke to a ranger who explained that when a giant redwood falls it can take centuries for them to decompose completely. I am not sure how he knows that because I don’t think he has been around to watch but science may have the answer. One of the walk trails we took was just stunning! It was dark due to the canopy of leaves and branches and the sun would be streaming through a gap in the canopy and lighting up the fall colours beneath. It was really quiet with the only noise - the occasional drop of water landing on a leaf or the leaf litter on the ground. Awe-inspiring!

Reluctantly we came to the end of the Avenue and made our way back to the highway towards the quaint Victoriana town of Ferndale. Once again we were greeted by Tsunami warnings but we know now you don’t worry about that until you feel the earthquake!!!!

Ferndale is the cutest little town with buildings that are absolutely gorgeous. They are painted in an array of beautifully coordinated colours with lots of fretwork - otherwise called ‘gingerbread’. Obviously the people of Ferndale are extremely house proud. We wandered around for a while before deciding to head home via somewhere for dinner. Just as an aside - we still haven’t christened the barbeque!!!!

We headed towards Eureka for something to eat and ended up at the Samoa Cookhouse. What an awesome place. The building is an original cookhouse where all the lumber workers used to eat. Much of it has been maintained including the long tables and plain wooden chairs. The walls are covered with old photos of the time the timber industry was in its hey day. Some of the trees that were felled were unimaginably huge.

There isn’t a menu to choose from. There is a set menu. We sat down to the lunch meal as it was about 4.30pm. For $11.95 we started with huge slabs of home made bread and butter followed by chicken and vegetable soup. Then we were served a garden salad with beans and dressing. Then the main meal arrived - ribs with potatoes, baked beans corn. And finally, for dessert we had strawberry cake. Oh and don’t forget the bottomless cup of coffee! I think that Norm just about had to roll me out of there I was so full. Mind you he certainly put quite a bit away.

Wednesday we left for our next stop at Santa Rosa, about fifty miles north of San Francisco where we stayed in the Sonoma County fairground. I know we have avoided many of the larger cities along our way but I really want to visit San Francisco while we are in the area.

A quiet start to the day on Thursday didn’t last long as we headed off to the Napa Valley at lunch time. We drove to St Helena which is at the northern end of the valley.

St Helena is the most beautiful old town. Lovely old buildings and the wineries - well need I say more? One of the wineries we stopped at was so beautiful and they had a picnic ground where you could sit and consume the gourmet food and yummy cheeses that they sold along with some great wines and liquors.

And how lucky am I? On the way home we stopped at the Culinary Institute of America. The building was constructed in the 1800’s and has been maintained beautifully. The garden’s are spectacular with an interesting twist - many of the gardens have herbs and vegetables growing amongst the roses and other flowering plants. In fact while we were out the front we saw a couple of people in chef’s outfits running out to the garden to pick something. I just had to buy myself a souvenir so came away with a mortar and pestle with the Institute’s name on. I may never use it but never mind.

We decided to have a day off on Friday so Norm did some reading and I got some time to sort some cupboards and do some patchwork. Tomorrow is my day in San Francisco and I am so looking forward to it.

Early start today as we are not sure how long it will take to get to SF. We got up and left while it was still dark at 7.00am, thinking that if the traffic was heavy or there were road works we could take up to two hours to get there. Wouldn’t you know, limited roadwork’s and no heavy traffic. So by 8.00am we were crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. There was a bit of rain threatening but no fog. Woo Hoo no fog! We managed to get some terrific photos before heading down to Fisherman’s Wharf.

We had booked on a tour and had a bit of time to fill in so we went for a walk. And wouldn’t you know there was a camera shop where I stopped to get another battery for the little digital camera I have. Well I walked out of there with a fabulous new Canon camera. It wasn’t the one we were looking for - it is so much better! So while the photos may not look any different for a while when I get used to it, just look out.

Okay, so we jumped on the tour trolley and went to the Golden Gate Bridge (a bit foggy so the other passengers didn’t get such great photos - hmmm). From there we crossed the Bridge where we had a ‘photo opportunity’ before coming back across. The tour took us through the Presidio, Nob Hill, China Town and close to the Crookedest Street in the world. It was a bit rushed but I got to see some of the touristy things everyone sees in SF. After the tour we walked along the wharf, looked in some museums and had some lunch on Pier 41½. Did you know that all the SF wharves have odd numbers so when they needed to name the wharf between Pier 41 and 43 they wouldn’t be able to use 42 hence 41½? Well that is my rationale!!!

I just loved San Francisco and would love to go back there but I think that living there would be fairly expensive. The rents are pretty steep with some of the houses in the Presidio rented out for $4000per month. No way!

Our next stop will be close to Yosemite where we will spend a couple of days.

So till my next episode I wish you all health and happiness. Please take the time to leave a comment as I would love to hear from you. Take care and I will catch you next week. Hugs from me.

PS: I was very late adding this post, so I know some of what is going in next week's chapter so hurry back. It was really exciting.