Thursday, 25 February 2016

February 24, 2016
Got up early and packed up camp and started heading back down.
We hike pretty steady, although I think fatigue started factoring in after a couple of hours – at least for me.   Bill had taken our washing sponge and made me some protection for around my sore ankle where my boot was really biting me.   The trail had lots of loose rock and with the weight of the pack you tended to slip and slide every few steps – it took us about 4 hours to hike out – we had to hike 2 miles down highway 1 once we hit the bottom to get back to our van. 
We snuck back into the camp ground via a trail to grab a shower…but we only had 1 token which was good for 3.5 minutes – so we made a plan of who was going first and we each were going to have  just over 1 minute when an extra token fell out of the machine – that was the beginning of our lucky streak- Bill dug in his shorts pocket and found $400 American dollars which we are assuming is from our last trip to Cape Cod and he later found $100 Canadian dollars in a pocket – all the money had been thru the laundry at some point –I found $1 by our trailer – Maybe this was our gift from the Buddha….
February 21-24, 2016
We started making our way to Big Sur today February 21 – made a stop in Monterey – along the wharf and the marine sanctuary.  A pretty little spot to stroll.  We didn’t do the Aquarium this time, but it is definitely worthwhile if you are ever in the area.
We stopped in Carmel to restock – get groceries, gas, propane & more fuses for the darn fridge!!!  We are on fuse #13.  I think Carmel is so beautiful –  Clint Eastwood was mayor for some time – that is cool!
Then we were off to one of my most favorite places in the world – Big Sur!
It really is a magical place – the locals hope that you miss it- which is easy to do and that you don’t find all of its secret little spots.  We have been told by a local that if you stop and ask for directions – usually at the post office – you will be told “what way are you heading?—Yep, than just keep going that way”.

We had stopped in Big Sur on our last adventure and quickly became frustrated with the lack of information sharing and it was nearly impossible to find a decent map of any hiking trails – searching online can be very difficult also.  We were lucky enough to stumble on a couple of local hikers back in 2010 that invited us along with them to one of their favorite spots Timber Top –  we loved the hike so much we decided to do it again. 

It didn’t take us long to pack up our gear.  The hike is a 3000 foot vertical climb – about 28km round trip.  I find it to be a pretty serious hike carrying the 35lb pack – Bill’s pack was a little heavier as he carried the extra water bladder – which is something we don’t have to be concerned about back home hiking but it is always a concern in California - the hike to Timber Top is beautiful –  you have a view the entire hike – with the scent of fresh sage bushes and wild flowers –

We stopped about ½ way up at a little Buddha station – I noticed that people had made little offerings, so I dug around in my pack for something – people had left keys, pieces of glass plates, balls, hair ties, bracelets – let’s see I have a spare battery for my headlamp, keys, sunscreen and the only girly thing I have left my eso lip balm  -  no way… so I decide to leave some Canadian change – this is when I think I heard the laughing Buddha – even he didn’t want our Canadian money….

At least it gave me an excuse to stop for a minute – as my left foot hurt like a mother---  the sun was pretty intense – Bill was out ahead of me –  so I trudged along at my own pace and enjoyed the physical challenge.  By the time we hit the top I understood why Cheryl Strayed in the movie Wild called her pack Monster .    

As we rounded the last coroner – the view left me speechless --it was exactly as I had remembered it.

We set up camp – made some dinner and just sat and enjoyed the view and the stillness of Timber top –
We went to bed at 7:00pm as we were both whipped – I got up at midnight and went outside and I had to wake Bill up because the beauty that surrounded us was something I will remember for the rest of my life – the full moon, the stars, the large fishing boat with its lights shinning across the ocean – we sat on the grassy field for quite some time with just silence between us – I think the famous and controversial author Henry Miller said it best… Big Sur “the face of the earth as the Creator intended it to look”.


February 17-20, 2016

Santa Cruz-- History was made in July 1885 when 3 Hawaiian princes were in the water with long surf boards made of local redwoods and milled into shape of traditional Hawaiian o’lo boards – This is the first account of surfing anywhere in the Americas…..
Our time in Santa Cruz was a little unsettled – the crowds were unbelievable – I think it was a combination of good weather and Spring break starting.  The hardest part was we couldn’t secure a camp site, so each day we had to move or enter into a lottery to see if they would pick our name for a site.  This took time out of our day as most lotteries are drawn at noon.  We found out quite quickly that you are not able to park in any shopping parking lots or on the Street as we received a knock on our door at 7:00am one morning from the police “this is not a campground – you have 20 minutes to pack it up and move out of here or get a citation.”  Yikes….
Another thing I learned in Santa Cruz is that there are 5 kinds of hippies – the retired hippie – the relocated hippie – the neo hippie – the local hippie and lastly the homeless hippie – it was this one that created a problem for me.  Way too many sketchy characters!   I am not too sure which hippie category Bill and I would fit into???
We were able to enjoy morning runs through the campgrounds, Bill had some good surf sessions and SUPed also.  We enjoyed walking downtown  – and had a good shop at the Patagonia Outlet.
We did meet a new friend in Santa Cruz – one afternoon while Bill was out surfing I met Kevin from Vancouver Island in the parking lot - I was guarding our gear in.  He spotted our plates and came over to chat with me.  We chatted for quite some time – he was travelling by himself and had 1 month off – he felt the same way as me with the sketchy characters and didn’t feel good about the campground he was checked into for the night (maybe the homeless hippies) so I invited him to come and stay with us – we had a nice visit at our ocean side campsite or as he referred to it -our glorified parking spot.    Hope you had a safe trip home Kevin and see you again someday!   


Thursday, 18 February 2016

 February 16, 2016 – Happy Birthday Mom!
The crowd finally broke and we were able to leave Bodega Bay this morning.  The drive was very pretty with rolling green hills and valleys – I was just starting to wonder what happened to the Ocean when Bill said “I think we are going the wrong way!”  Sure enough we had missed our turn 6 miles back.
 We   arrived in San Francisco around noon.  We kind of knew our way around from our last visit, so we were able to score parking pretty quickly.   Of course I just knew Bill was going to want to bike over the Golden Gate Bridge right away.   I love to test my healthy fear of heights – ok - maybe it is an unhealthy fear of heights - it was quite busy crossing the bridge as it was a temperature record breaking afternoon – and I found the bike ride across a little more stressful than the last time we rode it – for one thing it is always windy up there and no matter how hard I try to just look ahead – the open guard rails keep me glancing down at the rough, cold water 220 feet below – only this time I also had pedestrians to dodge which really wigged me out!   Anyway I managed to get across – stopped to enjoy the view on the other side – we had a good look at Alcatraz and then biked back - 
Getting around San Francisco on your bike is way easier than driving –especially with the trailer.

San Francisco is built on 43 hills, covering 49 square miles and surrounded by water on three sides – pretty amazing!   We biked for 5 ½ hours and it definitely felt like we went up more hills than we went down!    We biked to Crissy Field, the National Cemetery, Palace of Fine Arts, the Victorians and we did some urban biking thru the downtown area during rush hour and finished off by going thru Golden Gate Park .

I love everything about San Francisco-it is so hip!
February 13, 14 & 15, 2016

We enjoyed our time in Bodega Bay - it was very busy with it being a long weekend- especially with the great weather.  We were very lucky to score the last camping spot.

We went for morning runs in the State Park and Bill enjoyed surfing at Doran Beach even though it was a fast beach break with a very small window of opportunity. 

Bill was also able to windsurf one day - which was totally unexpected.

I really enjoyed our hike to Goat Rock -

Some of you might recognize Bodega Bay as being the site of Hitchcock's film The Birds - it is coming up on the 50th anniversary.


February 13, 2016
Good nights’ sleep in the field – stopped at a cute little bakery on Main Street in Mendocino that says open at 8ish – you knew it was going to be good by the lineup waiting for the doors to open!   It didn’t disappoint – great coffee and baked goods!
Today’s drive was much clearer – the morning sun lit everything up just perfectly for us.  I have to say I was a little blown away at being up so high – Bill figures we were 500 feet above the ocean at one point and there is nothing stopping you from driving right over the sheer cliffs – we stopped a few times at turn outs to let traffic pass or to have a peek over and it definitely made my stomach flip – Bill could walk right along the edge in his flip flops while I tried to peek from a few feet back.  It is such a weird feeling seeing the birds flying below you – it just doesn’t seem right.
At one point in our drive you could see where there used to be houses and they had literally fallen off the cliff – just a bit of cement was left from their foundation.
Traffic started to pick up mid- day and we noticed most of the State Parks had signs up saying campground full so we thought we better start looking for a place to stay.  We ended up stopping in Bodega Bay – at a private campground –
Bill found a great little surf spot – so I think we might just settle in for the long weekend as I am sure things will only get busier the closer we get to San Francisco.
I wish I had my Aunties and some of my wine loving friends here with me in this wine tasting Somona area.
February 12, 2016
We decided to make a break for the coast today, right after Bill had one more morning surf session.
We slowly started making our way down the coast of Highway 1 – we were denied this drive on our 2010 trip due to terrible weather –so it was important to both of us that we do it this time –
The drive was a little foggy, but what I could see of the ocean looked brilliantly blue, strong, powerful and somewhat threatening as the waves crashed over the giant rocks.
We felt we should stop before dark with the roads being so windy and having no shoulder or guard rails at all and I don’t want to think about where you are going if you go off the road….yikes…
So we came to an adorable little town called Mendocino – we had time to walk around downtown and take a short hike along the cliffs (me a little reluctantly) to watch the pure power of the waves as the water pounded against the cliff bottoms!
We had a tricky time finding somewhere to pull in for the night, so we checked with a local business owner and he showed us some overflow parking in a field and that is where we stayed unbotheredJ

February 9, 10 & 11
We spent a few more days in the Redwood National Forest –
I really enjoyed our hikes - the trails were peaceful – great solitude…
Bill was pleasantly surprised at the SUPing and surfing he got in…

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Happy Valentine’s Day to Family & Friends!
Only love can be divided endlessly and still not diminish…..Ann Morrow Lindbergh

Did I ever tell you how much I hate military showers at .25cents per minute….
I gathered up some clean clothes and headed for the shower station – I somehow managed to lose my razor and brush on the way-ugh-I guess better that than the bar of soap.
So you know the routine – strip down naked -shaking from the cold – set everything out within quick reach – rinse- lather up – repeat rinse – Bill figures it should take .50-.75 cents – what he doesn’t know is that I have an entire roll of quarters with me – when the water finally turns hot – I start contemplating putting more quarters into the slot to really enjoy this hot shower, or save the money for tomorrow mornings Venti Starbucks – but for some unknown reason the hot water keeps running and I know I am well over my 2-3 minutes of quarters that I fed into the machine.  I hear Bill’s shower end and I wonder what is going on – it was around that time that I noticed a towel hanging on the door of that stall I had chosen – do you think I am enjoying someone else’s hot/paid shower?  Then I started feeling guilty about using any more of California’s water – so I take a deep breath and shut it down!
I slowly opened the door and peek outside into the dark – with my hair standing straight on end –  the coast seems clear – so I make a beeline in the dark to the van in my flannel PJs– I guess I will never know if I stole someone’s pre-paid shower, but I do know it was the perfect ending to my day – now if only my sheets were clean….
PS whoever said Smartwool socks never smell didn’t wear them long enough


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

February 8, 2016
I feel like I have been dropped off in the middle of a fairy tale forest; although I am not feeling very princess like, having not showered in 4 days!
We hiked the Hatton/Hiouchi Trail and we feel the hike was a cross between being in Temagami’s old growth forest (only think steroids) and with the lushness of Maui.

The hike was just the right amount of strenuous – enough that you felt the burn – but still enjoyable.
I found it interesting how much the temperature rose and fell.  At times you could feel the cool air against your face and the next minute you would hit a hot spot – and the air would feel heavy.

I love the smell of the Redwoods – it is hard to put your head back far enough to catch a glimpse of the tree tops.
It is easy to loose time when you get into a good hike rhythm and hear the snapping of the fallen branches under your feet.  It is so quiet and still on the trail – no birds or animals stirring.

We made it down to the river and it was amazing how green and crystal clear the water is.

We decided February is the perfect time to be in California – no bugs – no crowds and it is just the right temperature.
Bill started the day with a good surf session and ended the day with a good sunset surf session!

I know how I am ending my day – I have a roll full of quarters for the shower and it might just take the entire roll to get me clean!