Travelin Tiger Archive

April 30, Manton CA to Sisters Or

Today was another travel day heading north. We had a slow start due to the after affects of last nights wine. We stopped in Reading to check out the Sundial Bridge there. It is a nice piece of architecture, and we observed a new form of dance. Three people were hanging by lines from the Sundial part of the bridge and were practicing a performance “dance” while suspended from 30 to 60 feet above the ground.

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Then we continued north to Bend where we stopped to pick up a growler of beer from Ton’s favorite brewery Boneyard. We then did our obligatory pass thru Costco, and finished up the day by trying a new for us brewery in Bend, Worthy Brewery. Breweries are spring up in Bend and every time we come it seems there are 2 or 3 new ones to check out.

We called it a day early today to watch the three game 7’s of the Stanley Cup Playoff’s. Tomorrow we will be dropping Scout off at the Provan dealer to get some warranty work done.

April 29, Yosemite NP to Manton CA

Today we are begining to head home so the primary goal was to get north. We recently joined an organization called Harvest Host which allows people who join to dry camp in participating wineries. Our friends and fellow Malayan owners the Cooks recommended the organization. After an uneventful but windy drive mostly on I-5 we arrived at Indian Peak Winery in the very small town of Manton California.

The drive from I-5 was interesting as we entered a whole different environment closer to eastern Oregon than the Sierra foothills we had been in. As we approached the winery we had several nice views of Mt. Lassen, and determined to return later when the roads thru the park are open all of the way.

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We were not quite sure what to expect when we pulled into Indian Peak. It is a very small winery closer to the scale we are used to in Oregon than the massive wineries we have been seeing in California. The tasting room was nice but empty when we walked in, and suddenly we heard a voice from upstairs saying I’ll be right down. The voice belonged to Donna the co-owner along with her husband Fred. We tasted and enjoyed all of the wines, with Fred relieving Donna about half way thru the tasting process so she could return to doing her paperwork upstairs. After completing the tasting we purchased a bottle of wine that we intended to drink with dinner, but before we could leave Fred grabbed a couple of the bottles from the tasting table and said “why don’t we go outside and enjoy the day and drink some wine.” We couldn’t pass up an offer like that, and 3 hours later we had drank a lot of wine and had an impromptu barbecue with Donna and Fred. All in all it was a wonderful evening that we thorougly enjoyed. Good company, good food, and good wine. Donna and Fred have certainly set a high bar for future harvest host visits and we would like to thank them.


April 28, Folsom to Yosemite NP

When we left Folsom in the morning we thought we needed to be in Portland on Thursday, but when we checked we found out that the appointment had been delayed. Ton suggested that we go to Yosemite instead of heading North. So after turning Scout around on the freeway, we ended driving backroads all the way to Yosemite. Driving thru the California gold rush country was new to us and even though California is in quite a drought it has rained just enough in the last three weeks to green up the grass so the scenary was quite nice. We passed thru Calaveras County which is the place that inspired one of Ron’s favorite Mark Twain short stories, the Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.

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We had last visited Yosemite about 20 years ago so our memories of how spectacular it is had faded. It is easy to understand how John Muir and so many others were inspired by this place. Our timing was a little off as this was the first day that on line reservations could be made for the park, the ranger we spoke to at the entrance said that they were nearly empty over the weekend, but today every spot was full. He had mercy on us and assigned us a tent camping spot, and told us just to park Scout in the parking area for the tent campers and sleep there.

Our first stop was the valley floor where we did a quick tour. Having refreshed our memory we decided to try a place that was new to us and headed back up the other side of the mountain to Glacier Point. The drive was fun and the views at the top of the valley floor, waterfalls, Half-Dome, and El-Capitan were breathtaking.

April 27, Folsom CA

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Today we planned a day with Supachai and Pae. We started off by going to Folsom Lake to see the fish hatchery there. When we pulled in there was a special event going on, an intercollegiate rowing competition on the lake, we watched the last two events and enjoyed the atmosphere as there were about 20 universities represented.

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Next we moved on to the Amador County wine region to check out a couple of wineries. We had a nice lunch at one of the wineries, and Supachai became a memberr of the wine club there so we were entitled to a free lunch at their sister winery. Not being able to pass up a free meal we went to the other winery and enjoyed our second lunch.

On the way home we noticed that there was a road bike race taking place in the mall near Pae and Supachai’s house, so we stopped and watched the last 10 one mile laps of the race. We are not sure who won as the place we thought was the finish line turned out not to be the finish line!

Inspired by the bicyclists Supachai wanted to go for a bike ride. It was fun to watch Ton deal with gears on a bicycle for the first time in her life. Pae was a great coach and got Ton thru the ride without any damage to her or the bicycle.

We finished the day by having a delicious steak dinner prepared by Supachai, while watching the Anaheim Ducks win in overtime to advance to the next round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Pae and Supachai are always great hosts, but this time we really want to thank them as they truely outdid themselves. Thanks so much for a wonderful weekend.

April 26, Kings Canyon NP to Folsom CA

Today we woke up to quite a surprise. There was over a foot of snow on the ground. It was really beautiful, but the concern was whether we could get out of the campground as the road was invisible. Ron did a little scouting and marked the path of the road, until it got to a part that had been plowed. After some photos were taken, it was time to move, and no problem at all, Scout handled the foot of snow easily. As we dropped down out of the mountains we were quickly out of the snow zone and on our way to visit some friends in Folsom.

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Supachai, and Pae are old friends from Porland, and we try to swing by and see them whenever we are in Northern California. As always their hospitality is great, and we enjoy catching up with them. Tonight was a all you can eat Korean Barbecue, with Supachai challenging us to eat 20 plates of barbecue items. I think we just missed, but everyone was very satisfied.

April 25, Sequoia and Kings Canyon NP

Today we planned to move on to Kings Canyon NP, but in keeping with our history with Scout we woke up to snow. We decided to push on anyway and drove thru a mixture of snow and rain to Kings Canyon. When we arrived we stopped to see the status of the roads and were told that the first couple of miles were snow covered, but after that it would be ok as we descended into the canyon. So we decided to move on, within the first mile we came across 2 cars that had slid off the road, but Scout was tracking with no problem.

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The road into Kings Canyon

As we descended into the canyon we did not regret our decision as the scenary was spectacular and the mist and the snow cut the visibility but made what we did see was really beautiful. After driving to the end of the road in Kings Canyon we returned to the visitor center at Grants Grove. As we were pulling in the snow plows were arriving which made things easier. When we got to the trailhead for the Grant Tree we were met by a volunteer who was going to lead a Ranger talk. The Rangers were all busy dealing with a bus that had slid off the road, no one was hurt, but they had a bus load of kids who needed to be entertained. So we had a personal guided tour of the Grant tree which was really nice.

At this point we decided to grab a spot in the campground and hunker down and watch the snow.

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April 24, San Luis Obispo to Sequoia NP

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We had planned to cross over the central valley to Sequoia National Park. The night before Ton mentioned the Cazillo National Monument which is famous for it’s spring wildflowers. So we took a side trip to Cazillo National Monument despite the fact that we did not think there were going to be many flowers due to the drought. California Highway 58 was another great backroad. As we had guessed there were no flowers, we passed a dry lake that showed the extent of the drought.

Next we headed across to Sequoia NP to look at the Giant Sequoia’s. The drive up to the park is very steep with a 5000 foot elevation climb and many turns and switchbacks. The tree’s are impressive and while not as tall as the Redwoods they are thicker and denser. We stopped at the Sherman tree which is supposed to be the biggest tree in the world by volume weighing 2.7 million pounds and is estimated to be 2200 years old.

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We are planning to spend tomorrow here also.

April 23, Monterey to San Luis Obispo

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Today we drove the most famous stretch of PCH from Carmel to San Simeon. The weather was perfect for the drive. Ton was very impressed with the trip and I was less so. For me it was less impressive than I expected, and for Ton it was everything it was built up to be. I think the difference is that for me as the driver it was just another cliffside drive, and in fact is less challenging than the stretches north of Mendocino, and between Point Reyes and San Francisco. For the passenger who can look out the window the cliffs are higher and the vistas are grander so the view is incredible.

We stopped at what I think was a private home that had planted flowers and had some art by the road near Pacific Valley. It was really spectacular and Ton spent nearly an hour taking pictures there. Not only where there great flowers but the views of the ocean were also tremendous.

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Near San Simeon we came along to a beach with thousands of elephant seals. It was fascinating watching them from up close as they lay on the beach. This colony of seals is recent with the first ones showing up in the early 90’s and growing to up to 15,000 seals. This time of year the colony is mostly made up of females and juvenile males. The males are in Alaska. They come down to the colony twice a year in the spring and the late fall.

The last stop was Hearst Castle which is now part of the California State Park system. I guess it is interesting what unlimited money and time can do. To me it is a little over the top excess, but there are a lot of interesting art pieces that were brought in from Europe.

April 22, Monterey CA

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Today was a day to sight see around Monterey. We started by visiting Point Lobos State Reserve. Another stretch of beautiful coast with views over to Pebble Beach and out to sea. We saw more birds, sea lions, and harbor seals. We walked for a couple of hours just enjoying the view and of course taking many pictures.

After Point Lobos Ton wanted to head over to Salinas to visit the John Steinbeck Museum. On the way we were amazed with the amount of vegetables and other crops we could not identify. I know the mid-west is supposed to be America’s bed basket, but as you drive thru it is long sections of one crop. What we always find amazing about California is the diversity of crops in small areas, I guess this makes California Americas fruit and vegetable stand.

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We stopped in a great visitors center in Salinas. The place was tucked into a strip mall, but was staffed with the typical friendly people you find in all visitors centers, and had a plethora of information about the central coast and the rest of California. Ton loved the free local raisins.

The Steinbeck Museum was nice, though one of the exhibits was closed and they were preparing for a festival. I enjoyed the exhibits on his early life in Salinas and how the local area influenced his writing. But the highlight for me was seeing Rocinante Steinbecks’ truck camper he used for researching Travels With Charley this book was one of my inspirations for doing this. I only wish I had Steinbecks ability to write about what we are seeing, but I am sure I am not the first person who wished they could write like Steinbeck.

Finished the day by visiting Pessagno Winery. We enjoyed our talk with the tasting room manager Chris about the Salinas Valley, the Phillipine influence on the local culture, and how the local people felt about Steinbeck. The wine was good also.

We ended the day with a dinner at Pebble Beach. The sunset was a bit of a disappointment, but not the day.

April 21, Petaluma to Monterey CA

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Today was a kind of lazy day as we were a little slow getting going. We picked up PCH and followed it down the coast to San Francisco. Initially we were following Tomales Bay instead of the coast. We noticed a lot of advertising for BBQ Oysters but as we were running late there was no chance to check them out. We may have to come back in the future to find out how they taste. Near the bottom of Tomales Bay we came across some mud flats teaming with birds and seals.

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After Tomales Bay we climbed back up for some more cliff top driving until we crossed into San Francisco on the Golden Gate Bridge. The traffic was pretty tame for San Francisco so we were thru the city pretty quickly and back along the coast heading to Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz. Despite living in the Bay Area for two years we had never followed PCH from San Francisco to Santa Cruz so it was new for us. Our tours of west coast lighthouses continued as we stopped at Pigeon Point lighthouse which Calfornia State Parks took over from the Coast Guard. Ton was excited to find a whole new bunch of wild flowers.

Tonight we are “camped” with our back to the Monterey airport, at a Navy Campground, but the price is right. Tomorrow we are going to stay in the area and explore a little bit, before heading for Big Sur.

April 20, Fort Bragg CA to Petuluma CA

Today the weather was tremendous, the nicest weather we have experienced since we bought Scout. In addition there was exceptionally high surf along the whole coast which just added to the views along the PCH.

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The drive today was slow but, really beautiful. The combination of the bluff top views and the surf made for a fun drive. Scout handled the twists and turns of PCH very well and we were rarely the slowest vehicle on the road, turned a couple of heads when we would catch up with cars moving slower than we were along the highway. It was a really happy day for Ton as in addition to the beautiful weather, the wildflowers were out at all of our stops. I am going to let Ton’s pictures tell the story of the day visually. Pacific Coast Highway

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In Gold Beach we met a Chinese couple who had a rental RV, we did not speak much with them beyond helping the husband find the place to check in as their English was limited. Yesterday we saw them a couple of times and today when pulled off in Bodega Bay I looked up to see the wife waving at me as they drove by.

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After checking in at the Coast Guard base in Petuluma for the night, Ton pointed out that Lagunitas Brewery was located in Petuluma so we were off. Good Beer, Good Weather, and a Good Band made for an enjoyable night and the end to a great day.


April 19, Gold Beach OR to Fort Bragg CA

Today we would be going into new territory heading down the Pacific Coast Highway. Past trips had taken us as far south as Crescent City California, so the next few hundred miles will be new for us.

Today we were focused on visiting the Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California. We had made a day trip down into Northern California on a previous trip to Southern Oregon and had seen enough of the Redwoods to really wet our appetite to see more on this trip. Unfortunately the weather was not fully cooperative and it was raining and grey most of the day.

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The Redwoods did not let us down. We stopped at a couple of California State Parks to look at these trees. The Coastal Redwooods are really magnificent sometimes topping 300ft tall and 70 ft. in circumference. The highlight of the day was the 32 mile Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt State Park. This park contains 3 of the 5 tallest Coastal Redwoods in the world, though we did not find any of them. We did find a fascinating drive with trees that defy my ability to describe them. We also stopped by one of the obligatory tourist traps where you drive your car thru a Redwood, but Scout would not fit, and Ton was unimpressed with the stuff in the shop.

After that we followed PCH over a coast range and along some high cliffs over the Pacific to Fort Bragg for the night. Another ho-hum 40 miles of magnificent views.


April 18, Home to Gold Beach Oregon

Today we cruised down Highway 101 from Tillamook to Gold Beach. We have been cruising this road many times since we moved here 17 years ago. It is a truly incredible stretch of road that I do not think I can do justice. We also realized how spoiled we are having such ready access to this road as today was a little hazy so we were kind of ho hum as we passed on a lot of the spectacular pull outs along the road.

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We stopped at two light houses that we had not visited before, the Yaquina Head light house in Newport and the Umpqua River light house. As we were coming into Newport Ton and I were debating whether we had been there. We decided to go visit to see and it turns out we had somehow missed it in our previous trips. This lighthouse is managed by the BLM and has quite a nice visitor center. The Yaquina Head lighthouse is the tallest of the Oregon lighhouses and is located on a nice head land with great views of the ocean. The other lighhouse is quite different it is run by the Oregon State Parks, but is located in the middle of a neighborhood of Coast Guard family housing. You can see the lighhouse but cannot approach it as it is fenced off as part of the perimeter of the Coast Guard housing. The housing is a typical style of housing that was built in the 60’s but the location is great, one of the benfits of military housing is it is quite often located on very high value real estate. I am not sure where the Coasties who are quartered there work as it is about half way between Reedsport and Coos Bay, but the view is probably worth the commute. The lighthouse is quite a way in land and overlooks some of the Oregon Dunes that stretch between Reedsport and Coos Bay.

We stopped for the night in Gold Beach and found a nice little Camp Ground right on the beach for a very reasonab le price. The very light haze that had followed us down the coast was still present so the sunset was not as spectacular as the location led us to believe it would be.

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