Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Monday, Nov 28th, Tulum, Mexico


Last week, we flew to the Quintana Roos coast of Mexico - to the Tulum ruins and a 6-room resort called Villa Las Estrellas. We've seldom experienced a more beautiful short vacation, and we recommend it to anyone. With a stunning beach experience, great food, and the best accommodations, we kept pinching ourselves to make sure we weren't dreaming.

My only disappointment was that I didn't try the kite-surfing. It was only windy enough one of three days we were there, and we had planned excursions which made the timing impossible to take the full 6-hour lessons. It's going to happen, just not on this vacation.

To see the full set of photos, click on: Our Tulum Vacation


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday, Nov 13th, Costanoa, South San Mateo coast, California


The San Mateo coast seems to rival those in Sonoma and Mendocino. Today, we got to see what it presents to the Kayak surfing crowd here. With Santa Cruz so close by (they invented kayak surfing), it is no surprise that the contestants at a locally-sponsored, surf kayak contest were top notch participants.

After stopping at the Bakery in Davenport, we just happened upon the final day at a prime spot just north of Davenport where the contest was being held. Ever since Pat and I took a five-day sea kayak training up in Vancouver, I've toyed with the idea of seeing if it can help keep me in the water and getting the exercise I think I need. Today has again stimulated my interest. But then again, there's always kite surfing too. Both sports help me avoid the basic problem that my body (and stomach) just can't paddle in either a prone position (or on my knees) to make surfing a real possibility. Kayaks and kite surfing depend less on the muscles I've turned into fat, and more on arm and upper back muscles (still strong).

Here's a link to the photos we took today: San Mateo Coastal Adventures

Tomorrow, we're driving home. It's been a wonderful trip, has proven once again how strong our love is for each other, and has given us another set of amazing memories to try to remember years from now. Hopefully, these photos will give us some clues. Hope you all (or as they say where we've just been "y'all") have enjoyed them too.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday, Nov 12th, Coastanoa, South San Mateo County, California


In one of the better decisions we have unmade lately, we did not go to the Montecito Lodge at King Canyon today. Told we couldn't get there with the Airstream, and planning on buying and being prepared to attach chains to the Touareg for the 9-mile trip up the one-lane, once-a-day, snow-plowed road up to the Lodge (after leaving the Airstream at a RV Resort a few miles down the mountain), we decided to pass on the experience.

Instead, we drove up to Gilroy, and headed to the coast for lunch at the Davenport Roadhouse. They really have remodeled it well, and the food wasn't bad either. Twelve miles up the road is Coastanoa Lodge and Camp, used by Coastwalk for several years as part of their many coastal hiking adventures. In addition to a great set of lodge facilities, the 40-acre property (surrounded by 30,000 acres of parks) consists of twelve fir cabins, 87 tent bungalows, and spaces for dozens of RVs and tents. We're perched within view of the Pacific, and are currently sipping wine and reading in the warm setting sun.

We'll drive into Pescadero and the coast north of here tomorrow, and enjoy the last nights on the road. Monday, we'll drive home to Santa Rosa.

Here are the remaining photos from today:Costanoa Lodge and Camp and Sunset.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thursday, Nov 10th, Desert Hot Springs, California


Well, I got to play a round of golf this morning, and I'm very grateful to Pat for pausing her reading enough to do the laundry while I did. In the afternoon, we drove over to Palm Springs to visit the Agua Caliente Museum of the Cauhillo Tribe. Pat bought a pot by Lois Flores, and we discovered they featuring an exhibit on the Kashia Pomo including many works from the Hudson Museum and from Kathleen Rose Smith. Kathleen is a local, Sonoma County, descendant whose mother and grandmother made some of the best Pomo baskets. We also saw a great video made by the University of California at Berkeley in 1964 on the tribe.

On the way over and back, we traveled through what seemed like the largest concentration of wind turbines ever constructed. Some seem to be operating fully, but others stand like metal scarecrows in a field (lots of them). it caused us to wonder if there is some requirement that inoperable turbines be removed. Our nightmare is that someday, whole valleys and hillsides be populated by our fancy but poorly conceived energy alternatives.

Here is a link to the rest of the photos we took today Desert Hot Springs.

We have no idea where we're going tomorrow. it could be Hwy 395 to Lone Pine. It could be Pismo Beach to try kitesurfing. It could be Santa Barbara, and then Santa Cruz. We have agreed that we'd like to get home on Tuesday, however, a day earlier than we planned. We both have meetings that evening we'd like to attend that we hadn't planned on.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wednesday, Nov 9th, Desert Hot Springs, California


A relatively short drive (400 miles) was made more difficult by several stops to watch workers repair potholes. It appears that some of the federal shovel-ready stimulus program monies found their way to Arizona and California, as a couple of sections of our pathway were being worked upon today. I did get a few photos of the teamwork required to fix a pothole on a federal highway. It's easy to rag on Arizona, but since their voters recalled one of the leaders in their State Senate in the anti-immigrant movement today, we should give them a break. We bought some gas near the border today, when we probably could have waited until we got to California. Hope they use my gas taxes to train highway patrol staff to back off on requiring identification of "suspected hispanics".

Arriving at 3pm, we unhooked the trailer, checked out the laundry for use tomorrow, and scheduled a tee time in the morning. Then we drove into town, bought some groceries, saw a movie for $2 (The Big Year), and found a great little Mexican restaurant for dinner. We're thinking of heading to Santa Barbara on Friday.

Again, not many photos. But we're having fun slowing the pace Desert Hot Springs, California.


Tuesday, Nov 8th, Kingman, Arizona


A long 485-mile driving day has taken us to Kingman, Arizona. We decided that the weather wasn't bad enough to force us to take a more southerly route, and we're experiencing 37-46 degree days with some gusty winds. We can handle that easily, and our only snow was on a side trip to near the top of a local peak.
Of course, New Mexico and Arizona elevations in general are in the 5-7,000 foot level, so there's bound to be some potential for cold and snow, especially this time of the year. I forget that those states are so much higher than California. Since we were car-bound all day, the only photos in the collection are of the landscape and some Airstreams we found in the RV Resort.
We did encounter an interesting couple who were curious about Airstreams. One of the photos (I'll include it in this post) shows their ride, and it's just a bit too small for their needs. Constance came over and knocked on our door, asking to see the inside of ours. Restraining our eagerness to gush over about how great it is, I gave her a tour while Pat was using the resort facilities to shower (why not use their hot water?). She and her husband, Mark, are from the San Juan Islands (one of our favorite places), and share other interests of ours. We encouraged her to check into both this blog, and Coastwalk, and we hope our paths cross again soon.

Tomorrow, we'll head toward a two-day stay in Desert Hot Springs, where there's a resort with a nine-hole golf course.

Here is a link to the photos taken on the way to Kingman, and in the morning before we left On the road to Kingman and Trailers around us in Kingman.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday, Nov 7th, Albuquerque, New Mexico


Today was a little bit of housekeeping, and a drive through some memorable sections of Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The Touareg was seemed to be acting like we should check out its fluids. As I have been known to fry cars by not changing the oil, we decided to spend the morning getting all of them changed and topped, while we shopped at CampWorld and Home Depot. We then headed up the Turquoise Trail to re-visit a favorite stretch of road between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

I've decided that New Mexico has some of the most amazing clouds, with shapes and hues that seem to wrap around the mountains, sun, and moon. You probably noticed a few lately.

The highlight of today had to be the town of Madrid. It's one of several along the Turquoise Trail, and is home to a colony of artists. The first surprise was the best $20 lunch we've had in a long time. The place is Mama Lisa's. The menu isn't complex, mainly stews and salads. However, what they created was very complex. Pat's was green chile, with roast pork loin and green chiles. Mine was Angus beef burgundy stew, with cremini mushrooms, bay leaf and golden rose potatoes. The salad was a perfect combination of lettuce, thinly-sliced carrots and squash, pomegranates, with a rasberry sauce. Add two large lemonades, an extremely responsive waitress, and a six-table well-lighted dining room, and you get lunch heaven. I recommend everyone put it on their bucket list.

The second surprise was that we bought a six-foot alligator juniper (cypress) branch turned into a great piece of art. Kathleen Gronnan and her husband Joshua run this wonderful studio a couple of doors down from Mama Lisa's which features his rock fountains, Sarah Crall's paintings, and a variety of other works by friends of theirs. We saw one similar piece that was sold and being shipped to California. Learning the artist had another one across the street, we went over and fell in love with it too. It's being shipped out next week, and should arrive soon after we get back.

Here is a link to the complete set of photos we took today: Turquoise Trail

We're still unsure if we're leaving tomorrow, or staying one more day. It's getting cold, and we'll sleep on it.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday, Nov 6th, Albuquerque, New Mexico


I'm amazed at how many trucks are tooling down our highways. I know that Warren Buffet is trying to get their cargo into his CSX train, but he must not be making much of a dent. They're everywhere. And I want to thank each and every one of their drivers for the courtesy and good driving habits we've encountered. With winds as high as 50 miles and hour, and construction narrowing the roadway, and signs as confusing as possible, driving with them provides a very safe environment. I'd love to find out what their hauling, because this slice of America has more of my respect than ever.

We made it to Albuquerque at about 3:00 pm. With a time zone change and daylight savings time, we gained two hours. After setting up for a two-day stay, we unhooked the car and headed straight for the Petroglyph National Monument. Open in 1990, we've not been there, and we wanted to see as much as possible before the park closed at 5pm.

We weren't disappointed, and I'm having a hard time cutting out photos from the set I'll put up on Picasa. I am having trouble uploading them to the web, however, so you'll have to make due with whichever ones I try to place into this post.

Here is a link to the photos we took: Petroglyph National Monument


Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday, Nov 4th, Van Buren, Arkansas


Van Buren, where's Van Buren? It's as far west of Lebanon, Tennessee as we could drive today. And Lebanon was as far west of Asheville, Tennessee... (you get the picture). After a adventurous drive through the Smokey Mountains, and a visit to the Cherokee Nation's home town (and buying a couple of pots from their excellent museum), we drove Hwy 40 for the past two days. We're headed to Amarillo where we'll make a decision based on the weather as which highway to get us back to California. We'd rather not drive through snowstorms, and are hoping to take our time on the last few days.

No photos, as I'm thinking you're all getting pretty tired of my shots of our RV sites. There will be some more when we slow down again.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wednesday, Nov 2nd, Biltmore Estate, North Carolina


Before I share with you our day at the Biltmore, let me provide one more glimpse into the beauty of the North Carolina forests. Here's a 90-second video of the drive along the local highway:

What struck Pat about the Biltmore isn't that it's big, though at over 2 million square feet and 255 rooms, it's clearly the biggest in the nation. The Hearst Castle, sitting on top of a 1,600 foot hill five miles inland from the coast of California on roughly twice the total acreage, appears much more imposing as a residence. It's that Biltmore seems more designed to work as a large residence. With many more bedrooms and bathrooms, it was supported by elevators, forced-air heating, centrally-controlled clocks, fire alarms, intercom system, and a housekeeper's residence containing a turn of the century vacuum cleaner, foxtail duster, and toilet bowl cleaner.

But the young couple, George and Edith Vanderbilt, lived to entertain lots of friends. A bowling alley, exercise rooms, 70,000 gallon heated indoor pool, and one of the finest private, two-story libraries in the world awaited guests.

While photographs inside are not allowed, I did quietly snap some shots with my camera dangling from my neck. The lighting was poor, and most are a bit blurred. While the Hearst Castle grounds are far more intricately-designed, you have to tip your hat to the 100,000 trees planted on the surrounding 8,000 acres (by the designer of New York's Central Park), and the 125,000 acres donated by the family to the Gispah National Forest nearby.

Here's the rest of the photos: Biltmore Estate

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tuesday, Nov 1st, Asheville, North Carolina


Check out these fall colors on the road to Asheville!

After we got settled in, we drove up along the Blue Mountain Parkway in the Pisgah Forest. Tomorrow, we'll be spending the entire day at the Biltmore Estate.


Here are the rest: Asheville colors