28 December 2005

Run Away....Run Away....

So we drove from Northern Cali to about an hour south of the San Francisco on the 26th of December. We stayed overnight in Gilroy, CA (Garlic capitol of the world, or something), weren’t really impressed with the park we stayed at, all the other parks were WAY our of our price range. We decided that California was way too expensive, way too crowded, and the air quality is horrible. So we left Gilroy, CA the morning of the 27th, just before 8am. We drove for 14 hours straight and arrived in Southern Arizona at about midnight the 27th/28th. It was a horrible drive since we were doing it during the day and hit traffic in LA. Bill and I have mutually agreed that anytime we have to rive through California to get to somewhere else we will do it in the middle of the night and just prepare ourselves for a long drive. Neither one of us has any really desire to return to California to stay…too expensive, too much of a pain, and the people/driver’s are just too rude.

A note about Gilroy…that place stinks! It’s not just the garlic. But the garlic smell combined with the cow pasture smell…well…use your imagination. When we first pulled in and set down for the night I smelled something that smelled just like our black tank (sewage) when we are flushing the tanks. I thought maybe it was leaking or something bad had happened to the tanks while we were driving…nope…that’s just Gilroy. YUMMY!! I remember watching something on the Travel Channel (I think) about Gilroy and their garlic festival and some guy was saying how Gilroy is a great place you just have get used to the slight garlic smell...there is nothing SLIGHT about it, and it's not just garlic you have to get used to. YUCKY!

On our way out of Cali, maybe about and hour or so from the CA/AZ border we were treated to a beautiful sunset. The pic I’m posting was taken with my phone, so it’s obviously not great, but it’s all I have.

We are glad to be back in Arizona. Southern AZ has gorgeous weather this time of year. It’s currently about 1:30pm, we have all the doors and windows open in the RV and it’s about 70 degrees in here. PERFECT! We are going to spend the next couple of days cleaning and catching up from our last week or so of almost constant motion.

Hope all is well with all of you

25 December 2005

Oh Christmas Tree...Oh Christmas Tree....

Merry Christmas! I don’t really have much to say but wanted to post a pic of our little bitty tree after posting pics of some of the worlds largest trees. Our little tree is only about 18” tall and sits in the back of our RV. A tiny little tree for our tiny little house, which is even lighter now since we are minus an awning!

Bill and I drove back out into the Redwood Forest today. We finished driving the Howland Hill Road that we had started yesterday but were turned around because of a stump that had rotten, fallen, and blocked the road. We were again amazed at the glory and majesty of this area. You just have to experience it to understand. We didn’t take any more pictures today because it was raining and neither of us wanted to get out of the truck, or get the cameras wet.

We did drive out to St. George Bay to try to see the other lighthouse in the area, but the winds were so high that they almost ripped the truck door out of my hand when I tried to get out. That and Bill had to sidestep a couple times because there were gusts strong enough to knock him around. He thought it was pretty funny to watch me try to battle my way through the wind whilst getting knocked around. We didn’t see the lighthouse, too much fog, too much wind…maybe we were in the wrong place…who knows. We did however spend a very short looking while getting blown all over the place. Once we were back in the truck we enjoyed the view of the turbulent ocean crashing on the rocks. There’s just nothing quite as terrifyingly beautiful as a stormy ocean.

That’s all I have for right now, mostly I wanted to post some pics of our little tree…it’s fake!


24 December 2005

On The Road Again

Whoo….On the road again and already have some catching up to do. We spent a couple days on the Southern Oregon coast after leaving Portland on the 21st. While we were there we spent some time with my folks and Bill and I went to the Shore Acres State Park festival of lights. http://www.shoreacres.net Click on the link to the Holiday Lights to see some pics. It was really beautiful and I’m glad we went to see it. They had a ton of lights and several really cool animated light sets. I particularly liked the underwater scene…complete with duck-butt swimming at the top…which was the top of the water.

So we left Southern Oregon on the 23rd and arrived in Crescent City, CA to see the Redwood Forest and spend Christmas here, the first Christmas alone for Bill and I since the first year we were together. It’s weird not having a thousand things to do or think about, or a big dinner to orchestrate. We bought a 3.5 lbs ham and some potatoes…neither of us knew what to think about that.

We arrived yesterday, set down, and did a driving recon of the city of Crescent City. We found the grocery store, the post office and the information center for the Redwood Forest. We also drove out to Battery Point and saw the lighthouse there. The jetty here was really something. You can walk all the way to the end if you are willing to get wet, notice the wave crashing over the jetty and the people walking on it, Bill and I haven’t walked it yet and we may not depending on time. The lighthouse is pretty cool. There is a trail that leads out to the island the lighthouse sits on, but you can only get there during low tide. It wasn’t low tide while we were there, so we didn’t trek over to the island. I would list stats on the lighthouse but I left the info in the truck and we are currently getting beaten up by wind and rain…that story in a minute.

Today, Christmas Eve, Bill and I drove out to explore the Redwood Forest….WHAT AN AWESOME PLACE! There are scenic drives that just have your jaw in your lap and your eyes like saucers. We stopped at one and all I could do was turn in a circle and just shake my head. Those areas just command reverence. You almost don’t want to speak, just be quiet and listen to what the trees have to tell you. They are AWESOME. There are simply not words to describe it. The pics won’t even come close. You have to stand among them to understand the feelings they invoke. It was slightly foggy today and that just added to the mystery of it all. The woods whispered of ancient things, secret things, and I couldn’t help but feel completely grounded, connected, and utterly in awe of my surroundings. It’s truly a spiritual place. We had to take a pic of Hi’iaka (the hula girl) because we’ve forgotten to take pics of her in other places. Incredible, even now I’m speechless trying to think of how to put into words the feeling of standing among those ancient beings. The Native Americans refer to trees as The Standing People: REDWOOD is the Grandmother Spirit of the forests. It is unending Truth, ultimate wisdom and knowledge. Taken from http://www.manataka.org/page15.html I guess I wanted to put this in here because this is how I feel about it all.

We also had to drive through the ‘Tour Thru Tree’. This isn’t actually part of the National or State Parks in the Redwoods, but it’s fun and I think if you come this far you have to do it. We have collapsible mirrors on the truck and it’s a damn good thing we do. If Bill hadn’t collapsed the mirrors…he never would have made it through that tree. We only had about 2-3 inches on either side of the truck. Tight fit, but we made it. Bill said it was pretty hair raising to be the driver through it…he wasn’t entirely sure he wasn’t going to wedge the truck in there. I was guiding him through and even still he kept stopping and waiting for me to tell him it was ok to continue.

And last but not least, I had to share this pic. It just looked too much like something out of a fairytale, or maybe a Jim Henson Production to not take a picture of. Everywhere we looked in the Redwoods we saw magic. What an amazing place.

I know this post is going to be long, but I just have to add the latest in our crisis that occur on the road. We arrived here with only minor wind and rain. Set up, had a fine day yesterday, and a beautiful day today in the Forest. Came home, had a quiet dinner, looking forward to a quiet night in the Redwoods. Peaceful Christmas Eve, keep checking the PBS channel for the Nutcracker, nice, wonderful….perfect….until the storm came. Buckets of rain, heavy winds, really heavy winds…so heavy in fact that they ripped the awning off the side of our RV. FUN, pitch black, pouring rain and Bill was out trying to figure out how to get the remains of our awning off our RV (it's now a bundle of twisted metal and torn awning material under our trailer) before it ripped the whole side off our house. Bill was soaked to the bone and covered in bits of tree that were being blown around. BRILLIANT! Merry Christmas!!!


11 December 2005

Christmas Lights and Mt St Helens

I know it’s been awhile, but mostly we’ve just been hangin out and living life here in Portland. We’ve done a few things, but certainly not everyday, and we didn’t take pics of most of it.

We spent Thanksgiving with the guys; it was nice to see all of them again. Since then we’ve mostly been working and living, and trying to stay warm. It’s been getting down in the low 30s upper 20s at night here and I think we had a high of 38 yesterday. Our heater has been working overtime.

Bill and I went and saw some of the holiday lights that are out and about. We drove the PIR lights (http://www.globaleventsgrouppdx.com/wonderland/walk.html)…that was a bit disappointing, and then went to The Grotto to check out their Festival of Lights (http://www.thegrotto.org/events/lights.htm), which was more impressive than the PIR. The next day Bill and I drove and parked at a spot along the Columbia River (about 5min from where we are staying) and watching the Christmas Boats getting ready for their trip down the river. (http://www.christmasships.org/) It was really a lot of fun to see the ships out there all lit up. I can’t imagine how cold the people on those ships must have been.

The other day (Friday) we drove out to Mt St Helens to see what we could see. We were greeted with a beautiful view of the mountain covered in snow from the first visitor’s center. It was a beautiful day and actually got warmer the closer to the snow we got. It was around 45+ degrees up at Cold Water and just a little below that at the first visitor’s center.

It was really something to drive the road up to the Cold Water lookout and drive into the snow. The views from this road are incredible. We took pics from the lookouts, but you really have to drive the road to get all the awesome views. The visitor’s center at Cold Water has some wonderful views from its wrap around deck. It was a beautiful day, again about 45+ degrees. There was snow on the ground and Bill chucked a snowball at my feet (I had the video camera so he couldn’t hit me straight on), and I nailed him in the back (he had the still camera) with one of my own. It was so beautiful; pictures just don’t do it justice, although these come close.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Mt St Helens history...see here: http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/volcanocams/msh/

And for the record (to my oldest sister) Johnston Ridge Observatory IS farther from the Cold Water lookout, but was closed for the winter. So...you were right, it's a different view.

There’s no doubt about it, the Pacific Northwest has some of the most beautiful scenery around.