California, Oregon and Idaho, november 4th until november 13th 2017
We have a good, but also busy, stay at home. It’s because I regularly stay with my Auntie Ank (we enjoy each others company). We celebrate her 93rd birthday with friends, family and an good buffet. We drive almost half our country to get spare parts for the RV, we have to bring back to America. And fortunately, we also have time to visit our good friends Thecla and Thomas. Just before we came home, Thomas had an serious accident on his work and we want to see them in person and bring get well wishes. But our stay in the Netherlands is actually too short.
On november 4th already our alarm clock wakes us up at 3 am and after a breakfast with Apple Pie, given by auntie Ank (otherwise we have nothing to eat) we take a cab at 4 am to the airport. Next to a travelbag, we have a big square box with a new roof window. Of course, this box must be handed in at the odd luggage, but that’s not possible on this early hour on Saturday morning so I hope this baggage comes along to the USA. (Dick doesn’t doubt about it). After a good journey, we have to wait only 3 hours (a short time) in London, and looking at great movies in the plane, we arrive at three o’clock in the afternoon in San Francisco. We stayed in the back of the plane so it takes long to get off and we may join a line of at least 500 people for customs and when we are almost there, I change rows , so it takes 1.5 hours before we get our stamp again and are allowed to stay in the USA for another half year. After all that waiting we directly can pick up our luggage, yes even our square cardboard box. Despite the fact that we brought cheese, cookies and liquorice (of course we said this to customs) it’s not necessary to pass an extra inspection and the BART train to Alameda is already waiting so we leave the airport pretty fast.
Unfortunately, we have to wait half an hour for the bus to the storage so we arrive not before 6.15 pm at the storage when the office is already closed. Fortunately Treila has authorized us so we can take our RV from behind the fence and in the dark night we drive to Antioch. There is only a place behind the fairgrounds. Despite the map the host gave us, we have to search in the dark for the place to stay but finally we find this spot with electricity on the grassland. Unfortunately the “Mexican” has a power failure so we cannot get any food and we eat some canned soup. It was a very long day with a time difference of 9 hours, so at eight o’clock pm we are sleeping.
Of course we wake up early because of the jet lag but now in the morning of Sunday november 5th we can shop early at Walmart (of course it’s not allowed to stay overnight here). We really need to do some shopping because we did not leave any food behind in our RV. A good thing because we find traces of mice in the RV. So we have to clean up also. Only a piece of chocolate and a sachet of herbs is eaten by the mice but we have to look whether or not there is a nest somewhere. The weather is beautiful, real autumn weather with plenty of sunshine and blue skies and a temperature of 65 degrees, so we can put everything outside. With the exception of a towel with a big hole (the mice probably found this soft towel great for a nest), we find nothing else and end of the afternoon we have a clean RV, stripped of mice droppings. Still our Mexican shop didn’t open so we cook a meal in the RV. The temperature is completely different compared to 10 days ago, it is at least 30 degrees cooler. Winter is coming.
On Monday morning again we wake up early so we also leave Antioch early. But nevertheless, we quickly join the traffic jam towards San Francisco. Although we are heading North we first drive to Alameda to pay the remaining amount for our Storage. After two hours (1 hour longer because of the traffic jam) we arrive, welcomed by Treila. We’re talking and socializing before we finally say goodbye and leave Alameda. There is no more traffic jam and after crossing the city of Oakland (many homeless people here), we leave the San Francisco Bay Area and drive through the Napa Valley, surrounded by fields of grapes.
Again the weather is great, the sky is blue and the sun shines, we see the Napa valley at its best. Unfortunately, the State of California has a ban on camping near shops or churches, it’s not permitted, so we grab our “Good Sam” book and search for a public campground at Clearlake Oaks.
Around three o’clock pm we arrive on a spit of land at a completely deserted campground. It is a beautiful spot on the edge of the Lake. When a resident of the nearby mobile home park says she has no objection that we stay here, but we have to be aware that regularly there are strange characters around, we don’t hesitate and put our RV on a spot. Despite the bright sunshine it’s too cold to sit outside (it’s only 50 degrees) so the rest of the afternoon, from inside our motorhome we enjoy the many water birds on the Lake and our books.
Tuesday november 7th we wake up when the sun appears just over the mountains and the Arctic Sea Fog still covers the Lake. Once this fog pulls up we can admire huge numbers of pelicans, obviously they stay here throughout the night. After a good breakfast we leave this wonderful place and drive further north. We have many winding mountain roads before we arrive in the region of the “Sequoia Sempervirens” or the huge Redwood Trees that grow along the coast of California. They are the “tallest living things ” on Earth. Despite the fact that we saw these huge trees already several times we always enjoy their presence. It is awesome to drive through the forest where they are located. You feel insignificant around this forest giants, growing more than 3000 years old and taller than 377 feet. After regular stops to view and photograph these forest giants (almost impossible by their enormous length and size) we arrive in Ferndale, an old Victorian town.
On the fairgrounds is a beautiful place for the night. I exchange some books in the office of the Fairgrounds and then we walk to town. It is a pleasant walk because the weather is sunny. Only the temperature does not rise above 50 degrees so we need a jacket. The town has indeed old Victorian houses and shops and the rest of the afternoon we walk around and visit shops. When the sun is almost setting (around half past five) we are back at the Fairgrounds. It’s a quiet environment so we sleep soundly. Unfortunately, the sun is gone on Wednesday November 8th. A thick layer of clouds covers the sky and every now and then some rain is falling. To bad because today we also drive through the Redwoods. Despite the fact that it’s getting darker and more and more rain is falling, it is stunning and awesome to drive between the forest giants.
However, with the many rain it’s hard to take pictures of the huge herds of Elks that wander freely around here. At half past one we arrive in Crescent City, CA, close to the border with Oregon and it’s raining cats and dogs. If we find out that here we may stay overnight at Walmart, we don’t hesitate and put our RV in the back of the parking lot. We don’t want to continue our drive with this weather. A good decision because after shopping, the wind is blowing hard and the rain is even more intense so staying in our parked RV is very pleasant. Better than driving along the coastal road. Fortunately, the weather improves something when we leave Crescent City on Thursday. When we arrive in Brooking, Oregon, the sun shines. Now at least we can enjoy this beautiful road along the wild Pacific Ocean.
Regularly we stop to watch the wild foaming ocean beating the rocky coast and then we arrive in Florence, Oregon where we find a place near the ocean on a county park. All forest parks along the US-101 are already closed and inaccessible by fences. The rest of the afternoon we stay inside and do our administration. Fortunately, it remains dry although, because of the many clouds, the Sun is little visible. Friday november 10th the sun shines early in the morning but soon clouds cover the sky. After having breakfast we drive the Coastal highway to the North. We want to find the Cache Across America of Oregon, hidden just north of Florence, OR. The road is beautiful and runs largely along the coast. When we get to the place where the cache is hidden we find our way through the more than man-sized bushes that cover the mountain slopes.
It’s hard to struggle through and we are happy when we find a trail in the forest with its tall trees. Our GPS doesn’t work good among the many trees here and we search and search and search without finding anything. Sometimes we cannot see each other because of the high ferns and many fallen trees. Dick reads the instruction for this cache and find out that we had to download a picture that would bring us closer to the hiding place. We search more determined. We have to find this cache, we did not drive so far to not find this one. Finally we find the cache and are happy. Now we can leave the forest over a much more accessible route through less wooded areas, back to our RV, parked at the coast. Just in time because the sky above the sea turns black and even before we are back in Florence, OR it’s pouring rain again. No problem because we have to do laundry and are busy the next couple of hours.
After two hours we leave the laundromat with bags full of clean clothes. In Florence, we stop at a bookstore with used books and lucky me, again I find 3 books of the series Wagons West. Then we drive back to our county park “Harbor Vista”. It is now 4 pm, the rain is still intense but inside it is pleasant and our books are fascinating so we enjoy the rest of the day. Saturday morning everywhere flags are lined up for the parade of Veterans day. Unfortunately we will not be able to see it because after some shopping at Fred Meyer we leave Florence, going farther east. First there is some rain but soon the sun appear.
Although it is colder outside this is better than constantly having rain. Steadily we climb up in the mountains towards the Western Cascades and at around 4710 feet, we are in the snow. The snow disappears when we descend and in Bend, OR, no trace of winter is to be seen anymore. Only the temperature shows us that we are in the mountains, it’s 45 degrees. Even though everywhere at Walmart are signs with “No Overnight” we see some decrepit RV’s and we decide to give it a try. We stay under a “No overnight sign” but nobody bother us and we have a quiet night on this parking lot. And once again I have the ability to look around in Walmart in the evening. I find an awesome Christmas outfit, even my sister and auntie Ank like it, so it is a successful shopping. Sundaymorning we leave Bend early morning, heading East. Over the rolling hills, less and less people are living here and almost no traffic on the road. Just before we arrive in Ontario, OR, the landscape gets more attractive, we drive through a beautiful gorge along a small river.
Unfortunately once again we lose an hour because we arrive in Mountain time. We drive further than we planned, 242 miles, so we arrive end of the afternoon in Ontario, Oregon. Walmart does not allow us to stay and there is no campground, but near Interstate 84 we find a piece of land where trucks are parked. Far away are idling trucks but on our spot it is silent and quiet, only passing and honking trains give some noise. However, I am so tired that even that I don’t hear.
When we wake up on Monday the world is very, very small. Fog is around us like a thick blanket and it is freezing cold. On the puddles around us is a layer of ice to be seen.
After we drive an hour, we already arrived in the State of Idaho, the Sun dissolve this fog and we enjoy the warm sun rays. It feels great after all the cold and rain. On the hilly landscape of southern Idaho, for the first time, we see the product where this “Potato state” got its name, mountains and mountains of potatoes. We thought we should never see them because until now we only saw alfa-alfa, corn and onions. That last product is grown here too and in the neighboring state of Oregon, every year more than 1 billion pound onions come across the fields. Around noon we arrive in the small town of Bruneau, Idaho. We have to look around but then Dick find the road to Bruneau Canyon, at first it’s paved but soon we only have a dirt road going to nowhere. There is literally nothing around us.
We don’t know or we are on the right way but follow our GPS and yes, after 7 miles, the road narrows more and more, we arrive at the Bruneau Canyon Overlook where we not only have a magnificent view on a deep black gorge below us but also find two caches, one of them is the Cache Across America, Idaho. Our 5-th State is there. After crossing the bomb range (what is here??) we are back in the inhabited world and drive another 10 minutes to Bruneau Dunes State park. On a completely empty campground we find a spot and enjoy the last rays of sunshine before the night falls at half past five.
The night is really, really dark, we are the only ones on the campground and nowhere around us is any light. The Moon is new and not visible, only the stars shine high in the sky. This state park is truly a “dark sky” park.
This week we are confronted with the fact that it’s not quite common to travel together in this beautiful country. Not only are we informed by our neighbor Danielle (she still takes care of our mail), that a good acquaintance, Ria, died, also Susan gave us a message that Mike’s brother Bill, which we met three years ago, suddenly passed away. At such a moment you realize how grateful we may be that we can make such a beautiful trip together.