Jul 30, 2014

RV limbo on the holiday weekend

Back on the road. Oregon has a lot of pretty bridges.

Here's the history on this one -  right click > open image in new tab > click to magnify

We hardly plan our travels, so we knew we'd be boondocking for the Fourth of July weekend when every campsite in America is full. We ended up in a gypsy camp/casino RV lot for a few days in Florence, Oregon, but we made the most of it with the free casino coffee and bike rides into town. We even played roulette for 3 days on $25! Florence is a nice little place, but I never had my camera on me, so most of what I have to offer are less-than-stellar phone pics.

On the fourth of July, we climbed onto the roof of our RV to watch the sunset and say goodnight to our solar panels. After sundown, we had a perfect view of the fireworks show in old town. We were thinking of Manny, missing our friends back home, and our patriotic rituals something awful.

We put our boondocking abilities to the test, and lived off the grid for 7 days strait in this casino lot (free RV parking!). It wasn't the rationing of water that got to us, it was the living in a parking lot in such close quarters with everyone else, that begins to wear on the psyche. I expect that this lot was more crowded than usual, due to the national day of booked solid campgrounds that is the Fourth. We spent a lot of time getting away from the casino (casinos are weird), exploring the docks in Old Town Florence, and searching out it's little city parks.

Check out this creation! Look at that one-handed steering! It runs on batteries (bungee'd in a milk crate under the seat) the top of the front sticker reads "powered by pi" For those of you who know Echo Delta - I think this might be his cousin's ride.

We found a rhododendron forest, it is just a little park, but my gosh, what a wonderful little Oasis in the urban jungle. Much needed green space!

You're not a tree.

I've found that my formal education on Native Americans was severely lacking. Throughout our cross-country travels, it's been fascinating (and sad) to learn more about the history of our country, and how it's people lived in a wide variety of environments before we claimed it ours. 

Jul 23, 2014

Bandon by the Sea

Bullard's Beach State Park, just north of Bandon, is where we fell in love with Oregon, it's coast, and it's parks. We hiked and biked to the beach nearly everyday.

Our first day on the beach was like a dream. Everything was a new discovery...like these weird creatures.

This atmospheric halo stayed above us for most of the afternoon.

Check out my Instagram for other photos of our travels that I don't post here.

Someone left their rock collection in the parking lot, I rearranged it.

 My hobbit, in a driftwood wizard hut we found on the beach

Face Rock

Sea stacks. That one in the middle is called the Wizard's Hat. The mist this day was so thick. It's not just in the distance, you can see it drift right up to you, and pass between your feet.

Bike ride to the Coquille River Lighthouse

North Jetty

Watching the waves, the weather, and seals.

Lighthouse from the south side

Cat and Kittens

Wizard hut party! This was the most impressive one we found, you could stand up inside.

The beaches are magical, and the State Park program is better than any I've seen. All of the infrastructure is so thoughtfully laid out, and has been well maintained throughout the years. There are almost always flush toilets, drinking fountains, and garbage/recycling cans available nearby. The Oregon State Park system seems to receive good funding and a lot of community support. Not since leaving home, had we found a state park system that topped Indiana! (sorry we skipped you California, I have a suspicion you'd do us proud) And not since leaving Indiana has it been so easy to find recycling facilities. 

The town of Bandon was fun too, very bike friendly, and just a short ride down the 101 from our campsite. There is a great city park with disc golf, and other neat shops, historic places, art and sculptures all over, and the coolest yarn shop ever.

We met up with some long lost family during our stay, and I somehow did not get any pictures (facepalm). I got a picture of this bike though...keg delivery!

Tracy picked us up and took us back to her beautiful historic home to meet her family. They treated us to dinner and drinks at 7 Devil's BrewCo, then out to watch the sunset at Shore Acres State Park. All around successful family reunion. Great minds! Another reason we never wanted to leave...did I mention we loved it here?

 Again, more pictures and videos on my instagram account. It's easier than blogging.

Jul 17, 2014

Roadtrip week through California and the Redwoods

We left our campsite in Bishop CA, and began heading northwest towards the Redwoods. It was no state park, but the sky was always pretty there!

Lenticular clouds

Goodbye, Mono Lake. Bowie is typically unimpressed with the scenery, but he's always interested in the water.

We had to cross the Sierra Nevadas somehow...we chose Monitor Pass and Luther Pass. Ol' Hodor did us proud going up and over those mountains.

And down

We kind of just blew through the whole state of California. It was a bummer, but we were getting desperate for affordable camping (and food!). We made a reservation in an Oregon State Park, and were making our way up and over to the coast. At the halfway point, we stopped at a county park in Yuba City, it was a really nice place, we had a creek-side campsite, and only wish we could have stayed a little longer.

California Countryside

Getting closer to the coast

There it is

We made it to edge, now we turn right!

Dark sand

We were so happy to be here. To hear the ocean roaring and see the mist drifting in over the green forests was such a comfort. We had been a long time coming through the desert and I can't fully describe how reassuring and refreshing this sight and these trees were for us.

And just a bit further up the coast, The Redwoods. Ah, woodland paradise. I've been wanting to see this place for a long time. We were sad that our visit was so brief, but we'll never forget it. We've seen the biggest, the oldest, and now the tallest trees!

We got to check out a few trails, see a bunch of elk, hug some trees...of course, the pictures do no justice to the last of these ancient wonders. You can't fully recognize their enormity without being there. It's funny because like the sequoia grove in Yosemite, most of my photos just look like a regular old forest - even the ferns offer no scale because they are huge too! 

We talked with a ranger who recommended the Trillium Falls trail for our short stay. Walking into that forest was nothing short of a spiritual rebirth.

"This trail leads you through the misty hallways of an ancient redwood forest. Along the path, families of Douglas-fir, western hemlock, and Sitka spruce reside beneath the shade of the world's tallest trees. The forest floor creates a moist sanctuary for red tree voles, Pacific giant salamanders, and banana slugs. Listen for the high-pitched hoots of the spotted owl or the rapid trills of the ever-present winter wren.

Along the creek, scattered patches of silky white trillium bloom in the spring. Near the waterfall, the heavy, sloping limbs of big-leaf maple reach out in every direction. The Sun's rays attempt to blaze through the foggy sky, sprinkling beams of light upon Trillium Falls, a 10-foot cascade flowing over rocks covered in deep-green moss."

Hello, friend

everything green

Walking through the tall trees

Back on the road, more pretty coast along highway 101

I think we were in Oregon at this point. I think we had parked in a casino RV lot for the night.
It's all blurring together! This was our picnic spot of the day.

We finally arrived at Bullard's Beach State Park which would be home for the next 2 weeks (and dare I say forever in our hearts??) We loved it there. Stay tuned, readers! And thanks for reading ;)

Jul 16, 2014

Treasure Lakes in the John Muir Wilderness

“Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality.” -John Muir

Our last hike into the Sierras. We took this same trail before, but had to turn around to beat the sunset. This time we got an early start on Sunday morning, and came prepared to hike up to the Treasure Lakes, where I would find my new favorite place on earth.

Seems there's always a fat chipmunk at the trailhead.

This quote was on the map at the trailhead

"I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."
-John Muir

 ...lost the trail

...found it!

Lost it again (on purpose this time) and found the perfect picnic spot. That mountain in the center is where we're headed.

"We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us." -John Muir

Unspoiled beauty. This place. Is. Incredible.

"A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. No wonder the hills and groves were God's first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself." -John Muir

Headed back out. It was so, so hard to leave. Treasure Lakes sure do live up to (and far surpass) their name.