Nov 30-Dec 13 - Southbound
After Thanksgiving, our goal was to get south to Snowbird country, looking for warmer climates. We also knew there were a few things along the way we wanted to visit, and we were determined not to make the trip tiring. So, we essentially headed south of US-101 from Jan & Denny's place, driving a day then stopping for a couple of days, seeing the sights, and then moving on.
Nov 30 - Sunday, and we drove 151 miles to the 1000 Trails Long Beach WA preserve, where we parked overnight, draining and/or refilling tanks as appropriate. As we pulled into our space, we were greeted by three beautiful black-tailed deer. The two does were kind of shy, but the accompanying buck was a little bolder and was the last to wander away.
Dec 1-4 - After a stop at the Costco in Warrenton OR to refuel, we headed south 203 miles to the 1000 Trails South Jetty Preserve near Florence, where we were able to occupy the same space we'd vacated about a month earlier. Our motorhome is a Rexhall Aerbus, not a common brand or model, and we rarely see another. But we followed another Aerbus for several miles and wound up parking next to them when we stopped at the Tillamook Creamery for lunch. The other folks were from Oakridge OR, and heading south to meet some relatives. Our only planned visitation while at South Jetty was to view the holiday lights at Shore Acres State Park, which we did. Spectacular! If you're within 100 miles, make the trip out past Charleston before the end of the year. Nearly 300,000 lights this year, and the new LED lights make everything so much brighter. Judy managed to spend several hours with her harping buddy Ruth in Reedsport, and on the spur of the moment we replaced the radio in the RV, resulting in a spectacular improvement in the sound quality delivered by our Ipod as we drive.
Dec 4-6 - 183 miles south to the Shoreline RV Park in Crescent City CA, with a stop at the Fred Meyer fuel station in Brookings OR to fill the RV and take advantage of the 10 cent per gallon discount we'd accumulated while in Oregon. Shoreline RV Park is owned by the city, and is gradually being renovated. Our site was about 30 ft from the ocean, so we could look out the front windows and see the sunset and the lighthouse, and hear the surf and the foghorns. Crescent City is probably the best base for viewing the Redwood groves, and we spent several hours wandering among gargantuan trees. There's no way to feel at all egotistical standing next to a 1,000 year old tree with a trunk 20+ feet in diameter.
Dec 6-8 - 262 miles further south to the 1000 Trails Russian River preserve near Cloverdale CA - at the northern end of California wine country. Cloverdale's home to the "World Famous Hamburger Ranch & Pasta Farm", where we'd had some excellent breakfasts on previous trips. So this time we went for dinner. Yum. But the highlight of this stop was a short drive south to Santa Rosa to the "Snoopy Museum". Santa Rosa was the home of Charles Schultz, and the Charles Schultz Museum and Library celebrates his life and the Peanuts comic strip he drew single-handed for over 40 years. What a neat place. We had lunch at the Warm Puppy Cafe (avoid the Potato Cream Soup) and spent several delightful hours in Snoopy country.
Dec 8-10 - 195 miles further south to the 1000 Trails Morgan Hill preserve, just north of Gilroy. We detoured on route to squeeze in a stop at the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield CA to restock on Belly Flops, their affordable assortments of factory second Jelly Bellys. We didn't take any significant side trips from Morgan Hill, although Judy did do a load of laundry (such fun).
Dec 10-12 - 171 miles down the road to the Ocean Canyon Resort just south of San Luis Obispo. This is a neat little RV park tucked into an odd-shaped piece of land next to the freeway, but surprisingly quiet. And surprisingly cool - we had heavy frost both mornings. Our main desire while here was a tour of the Hearst Castle at San Simeon, decorated for the holidays. We've taken every tour offered at Hearst Castle in previous visits, but really wanted to see the holiday decorations. We were not disappointed. As an added bonus, we stopped at the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery, where the bulls have come ashore and the pregnant females are starting to arrive. It's really special to be just a few feet from these huge (5,000 pounds) bull seals as they compete for territory and mates. Plus there was a spectacular sunset on our way home.
Dec 12-13 - We were aware of winter storm warnings as we drove 205 miles to the 1000 Trails Soledad Canyon Preserve, north and east of Los Angeles near Palmdale. The drive down US-101 past Santa Barbara is delightful, made even more so by the views of oil drilling platforms out in the ocean. We know the locals aren't wild about the drilling and the oil wells, but it's kind of good to know that at least some of our petroleum is domestically produced. We'd planned on spending the weekend at Soledad Canyon, but there was a winter storm watch that didn't excite us, so we stayed just the one night before moving on, hoping to avoid the storm. Soledad Canyon is one of the 1000 Trails parks with an on-site restaurant, where we had a delicious pizza for dinner. It was also the night of the full moon, which was spectacular. The signs around the park warn of coyotes, but we never saw or heard them, despite the supposedly perfect "howling" moon .
Dec 13 - Saturday - we drove the remaining 137 miles to the 1000 Trails Wilderness Lakes preserve near Menifee CA, our first snowbird destination of the season. The winter storm was avoided, although a torrential rainstorm did nearly swamp us a day or two later. The total drive south since Nov 30 was 1507 miles, and much less expensive fuel-wise than our trip westward last fall. Future reports will cover our snowbirding for the winter.
There are about 140 pictures in our slideshow for this leg of our trip. You'll find them here.