Friday, February 27, 2009

Was just about to leave the coast when I happened across San Simeon State Park late in the day, so it was decided to hang tough and rough it for another day or so.Took advantage of a good supply of firewood to have the first camp fire of the trip.
I was parked under the biggest tree in the campground, and it was obviously a favourite of the local crow population, who were not shy in serenading me in the morning. Lucky for them, Harley was not along to climb the tree and take care of them.
Then, it was inland, through Paso Robles, which is evidently a major vineyard area, with castle like wineries all advertising free tasting.
From there it dried out a bit and it seemed that tumbleweeds were the crop of choice.
Then, it must be ideal conditions for oil wells to grow and there were a massive number per acre - but only for a mile or two, then none?
Blow up these pics to see just how many wells there really were.
Then, Bakersfield came onto the horizon, and the Walmart parking lot was just too convenient for myself, and about 20-30 other assorted RV's.

Then off to the east again - into some very pastoral looking land before the next mountain range.

Into the Kern River canyon next, where the road has vertical, or slightly overhanging rock walls, right on the white curb line. Every blind curve thanks is given to still have a camper with a roof and a wall. And the traffic was heavy and everyone, but me, seemed to be late for somewhere.
Luckily there were pull-outs, so no drive-by shootings were initiated.

Then I found a very quiet Forest Service site, right on the Kern river. I was there till noon the next day, and no one else showed up. So I took advantage of the time to put some of my $8 purchase of pvc pipe from Home Depot to the test, to see if I could design a low profile, cheap, windproof stand for my satellite dish!
It worked so well in the test that I had to watch the noon news from back in Calgary, where they were wimpering about temps of -20 something C, with wind chills in the -30'sC.
Meanwhile, I was getting too warm working outside in the sun.

So, it is a nice ideal to put the bathroom signs in braille, but how would someone without sight know to put their hand to read it? Just wondering?
Like this is in a deserted day- use area, miles from any other braille signs ...

Beside the Kern river.
Also did a lot more small, odd jobs that needed done around the camper; ones that are not fun or possible around home with snow and cold and ice on everything.

Kept going up the Kern River to the town and lake of the same name, Lake Isabella.

This must be a rocking area in the summer as there are a plethora of national forest campgrounds around. Unfortunately, most of them are closed, umm, because it is so cold, I guess? Luckily, I found at least one - without a locked gate!
Who knows, I think we might be off to Death Valley next?

Monday, February 23, 2009

After cruising over the Golden Gate bridge, and getting back to the coast, I was quite disappointed with the county (San Mateo, I think) who arbitrarily marked one of my favourite campsites on the whole coast as - "NO Camping". The nerve of them! It was a beautiful spot with an awesome view, right on the water, with a scenic Pigeon Point Lighthouse in the background. So I had to do some fast searching in the dark to find an adequate spot along a farm road.
The next day, I was up early and into Santa Cruz before I found any cell coverage or internet.
It was a Saturday, so it was important to find the night's camp with a clear view of the southern sky. That way I could set up my satellite dish and watch Hockey night in Canada, and of course, the Leafs game. In the process, I also discovered a new cap spot with potential for the future.Unfortunately, this night must have been designated for hurricanes as I almost got blown off the ridge, which was exposed to ocean winds from two different directions. After doing more rocking than a sailboat, I retired to a lower location with slightly less winds for the remainder of the night.

Before I move on, I should mention that I was named 'Post of the Day', by the Tillamook Cheese Fan Club, who added a link to my blog on their web site!
Don't believe me? Check it out yourself, or check the comment left on that day's post. 'My' link is 'Tillamook Road Trip' on their page! What's next, knighthood, or will I just find myself a princess (!).
I found ample evidence of forest fires in the Big Sur area, including burned trails I had hiked in March on my way north.

From a post during the fire season - July 8, 2008.

"In Big Sur, the Basin Complex fire had charred 80,186 acres by Monday night and was 18 percent contained. More than 2,500 homes were threatened along with 20 commercial structures and 195 outbuildings, such as sheds and barns. Twenty-three homes have been destroyed. "

From the LA Times -

At Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, 95% of the trail system has been affected; at Pfeiffer Big Sur, 75% of the trails were affected, with 50% of the park’s acreage burned. The Big Sur Lodge is open for business, but Andrew Molera State Park remains the Incident Command/Fire Camp for hundreds of firefighters in the area and will remain closed to camping likely until the middle of August.

Many of the State parks in the area are still closed or partially closed due to risk of landslides and flooding after the fires.In other areas, there are precautions in place to protect parts of Highway 1 from effects of the expected floods and slides. They have plenty of these debris fences newly built along this section of the highway.
At the south end of the fire region, I found most of my camp areas intact and suitably scenic, though the rains had come along to replace the high winds.

Some of the local residents didn't seem too concerned about the fires, the weather, or anything else for that matter. They just spent their time laying on the beach flicking sand on themselves and bickering endlessly with each other

See for yourself!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It's been a couple days since the last post, and I didn't think I had any content or photos to warrant doing so, but as always, I have too many and had trouble thinning them down to a reasonable number.

I guess the first one is a short video clip left over from the last post - a cute seal at the Newport Aquarium.
The video was actually taken vertically - this little guy was actually hovering in a vertical position next to me - so the speedsters going by in the background were actually moving horizontally! It's amazing to see the speed they get with such a little motion - then glide like missiles for such a long ways! Pretty impressive!

Next are a couple of photos from last year's trip - why, you may ask?
Well, just to compare them to this year's pics of the same location so you can see the progress they have made on these bridges.

2008 pics

2009 Photos!Another, unrelated bridge near North Bend, Coos Bay, Oregon.

And the remains of what appears to be wreckage of a ship or boat on the nearby beach.
I spent a night right beside this beautiful beach near Orick, California, and had to do a bit of beach combing in the morning.
There was a herd, pack, group, cluster of seals on the sand spit just across the river, about 100m from my camp spot.
Then it was on to Garberville, California, apparently home to a lot of original (old) hippies.
I found this scenic spot way up above the town, which kept me above the valley fog, which was nice in the morning.

But I kept on exploring, and in the morning found this primo spot right on the river flats. It's really hard to find, but I was persistent, and it is now lodged in my GPS for future reference.

I was surprised to see Canada mentioned in US papers, but then I realized that it was because Obama was making a visit to the frozen north. By the account I read, the meeting went well.
Then it was on to Frisco, and the required shots of that large bridge. Toll is $6. going south, free northbound.
And I gave a special wave at someone's request ( :-) when passing Alcatraz!
You might have to click on the photo to get a large enough view so that you can actually see that it is Alcatraz!

I guess the nice folks in San Francisco knew I was coming - so they parked all their cars on the sidewalk to make room for me to pass.

Tonight, I think I will keep moving on to my favourite lighthouse camp spot, right above the water.
One of my 'usual' stops along the Oregon coast is Beverly Beach State Park. It is a very nice and well cared-for campground, with really reasonable rates.I have watched the bridge out front along the beach being replaced over the last several years. First they had to erect a temporary bridge on the beach side to carry traffic during construction, then remove and replace the bridge with a new one, then remove the temporary structure.
Well, they are almost done. One last support for the temporary bridge can be seen in the background, but it appears it is mostly landscaping that remains to be done.
Just a few miles further south is Newport, home to the Oregon Coast Aquarium.Okay, that first one is not my pic, but the rest are!

It features a ton of fish, birds, sea mammals, in some pretty natural environments.
A couple of eels.
Some rays - that you can pet, if you wish.
Some jelly-fish - wouldn't want to be diving near them!

And, some sharks above, below, and both sides of you. You walk right through the middle of some of the displays. These guys are right above my head.
Sea Otters doing what sea otters do.

Video of some underwater birds. Murres, right Garry?

Okay, here's the bridge in Waldport. But for a hands-on feel to it, click HERE for a google maps 'street-view' version of it! It's pretty wild.
Sunset from Yachats, Or.
Another weird one for you! Here is a tunnel near Sea Lion Caves on the coast road. There was some construction, so I was stopped by the 'flagger' for a couple of minutes. Who would have guessed that Google would have this on 'street-view' as well. Well, check it out.
While you are doing that, I have to get driving and taking some more photos, and perhaps e-mailing some folks back home :-).