CA - IN - CA - Nov 27 - Dec 17

It's been a bit too long since the last update. The holidays are a busy time...even if you are traveling in an RV!

Before we departed for Evansville on Thanksgiving day, we had a special home cooked CA diner in Bakersfield - Grilled Tritip with our family friends Fred and Bonnie. The kids enjoyed playing legos and being able to spread-out on a living room floor and we enjoyed getting to know them.


We headed into LA early Wednesday morning to take in a few sites. Our favorite was the Griffith Observatory with its demonstration of how to make a comet at home and the Tesla Coil.



We had a 6am flight so we stayed in a hotel for the night. Because the kids are so accustomed to sleeping three abreast, we chuckled that night when we looked over and noticed that they had climbed into their queen bed in the same positions they sleep in the RV.

We were all excited to see family back in Indiana as we boarded our flight from LAX.

Back in Evansville just in time for Thanksgiving dinner and a great week seeing friends and family. 

We continue to see breathtaking sites around the country but an Indiana sunrise duck hunt with a great friend is hard to beat. 

And no Thanksgiving in Evansville is complete without a trip to the Shrine Circus!


We returned to Bakersfield after a week of memories and visits with family and friends. It felt good to be around loved ones and the warmth it brings.

Speaking of warmth, we headed back to CA just before the a cold/snow front hit Indiana:) 

But when we landed, the news stations were abuzz with the fact Bakersfield was facing their first potential snow fall since 1995!  We somehow felt responsible. At least the alert laid out ALL the facts:


We keep tabs on places we've been to see how their weather evolves.  One of our favorites was Canmore, AB. We are very thankful we chose September to visit Canmore.


We enjoyed a couple laid back days in Bakersfield. We visited Buck Owens Crystal Palace to see a famous car that allegedly was made for Elvis, but at some point won by Owens in a poker game in Vegas. According to the placard, "he cheated."  Owens did many great things for the city of Bakersfield and the country music industry, but had he been alive in this era, we suspect he would have been a frequent site on the tabloids!


The best thing about Bakersfield were the people. We enjoyed getting to know John, who had taken care of our cat London while we were away. He and his kitten Sky will be what the kids likely remember from that week.


It was time to head back to LA for a week we had been anticipating since our departure in August - Disney!  We stayed in an RV park only a couple miles from the park. We spent three days at Disneyland and California Adventureland and one day at Universal Studios. Magical of course!













In our 4 days, we went on almost every ride at every park and a number of shows.  We couldn't come up with perfect consensus but here would be our best attempt at a family ranking of the more popular rides:

Radiator Springs Racers
Indiana Jones
Toy Story 4D
Transformers 3D
Pirates of the Caribbean
Tram/King Kong 3D
It's a Small World
Dumbo
Peter Pan
Tower of Terror
Space Mountain
Star Tours
Splash Mountain
Jurassic Park 
Soarin' over CA
California Screaming
Jungle Cruise

As for shows:
Animal Actors (because JAK was the guest actor on stage. Ask him about his co-star Logan, the dog from Man of Steel)
Water World
World of Color
Aladdin
Christmas Parade
Fireworks

Next up - San Diego!  

Before Oma and Grandpa Kolb arrived for a visit it was time to decorate Big Country for the season:

We are staying at campground on Mission Bay.

We heard about an event at a local church where they hauled in "real" snow for kids to sled on so we went to check it out



We celebrated Oma's birthday!

Had some laughs:

Went to mass at the very first of the California Missions


And took in the sites at the beach/boardwalk in Mission Bay


And then it was time for another big event - San Diego Zoo!

We've been to a number of zoos on our trip, but this is the only place we'll see a Tasmanian Devil (we found out they are not found in any other North American zoos)

And we had a flash back to Disney when we saw the sign "your wait from this point will be 30-45 minutes to see the baby Panda"  Thankfully it was a Monday and we didn't need a Fast pass:)

And once again, somehow JAK managed to get picked from the audience to be a guest for the animal show.  The videos from this show, the show at the Sparks museum in Calgary, and the Animal show at Universal will be cherished family moments that will bring laughs for a lifetime.



And this was our favorite light exhibit because it reminded us of....us.


We've had many good CA meals, but we had yet to make our own "CA meal" so we checked that off the list. It was a mix of CA recipes and what we had on hand. We call it: 
Sassy Tritip Carne with Bakersfield pre-frost OJ

2lbs CA Tritip
3Tbps canola oil
1 cup freshly squeezed OJ
1 large handful of cilantro diced
1/2 lime squeezed
4 garlic cloves diced
1 jalapeƱo diced
4 green onions diced 
sea salt from Netarts bay and fresh pepper

Directions:  Marinate in mixture for 4 hours, grill on high heat, slice thin and use fresh tortilla to make burrito with lettuce and fresh salsa.


Along with regular school, Katie also received a little CA environment lesson one day from John when he was explaining why we couldn't see the mountains.  She wanted to write it down so she wouldn't forget:



We have one more major attraction to visit - Sea World!  We are headed there tomorrow. From there, we are off to see family in Case Grande AZ for Christmas.  God bless and good tidings to all!!!!

California - Nov 16 - Nov 26


From our home base in Watsonville, CA we were able to drive 30 miles south and be in Monterey/Carmel area or 15 miles north to the Santa Cruz area. 

We spent a couple days on the southern side, driving highway 1 




We drove through through Big Sur as far as Julia Pfeiffer park where we walked along the rugged coast


The San Carlos Borromeo (Carmel Mission) is much larger than the Mission San Francisco Solano



And had customized seating


Modern mobile mission? We are thinking about painting Big Country.


While the 17 Mile Drive in Monterey (Pebble Beach) was impressive, our opinion is that you should avoid driving highway 1 before as it has a way of diluting even the best of scenes.


FaceTime has been our preferred way of keeping in touch with family and friends - as long as we are not at a campground were the cell and wifi is seldom fast enough.



Because the park in Watsonville was a public park, it drew many people from the local community which afforded us the opportunity to experience more than we do at most parks.

There was a club that raced remote control sail boats

=

And celebrations


Our visit to Santa Cruz was too short and included a drive-by of the boardwalk and a Sat evening mass at the Mission Santa Cruz



Being from MN and IN, this was our first time seeing an artichoke field


After a week in Watsonville we headed south to Morro Bay.  It was difficult to find available space and we were not initially excited about where we ended up - nor about the fact we arrived after dark and had to back into a site that was appropriately sized for a pop-up camper.  These are the moments that help build your marriage:)

Before pulling into a site, there are many items on the check list:

Q: Where are the electrical, water and sewer hookups and can I reach them? A: No way
Q: Is the site level?  A:  Not even close, but stay to the left and it shouldn't tip over.
Q:  Are there overhead trees that will take off our AC units?  A:  Ah…not a tree in the entire park. Check.
Q:  Will we hit the neighbors car?  A: Probably, but thankfully he came out so we can tell him what is about to happen 

But somehow, we closed our eyes, pushed the reverse button, and slammed it in without injury.  Once in, our bikes were pressed up again the bush that sat between us and the rig behind us, our front end hung out and the jeep barely fit and was on such a hill the girls couldn't pull the door open on the uphill side.

Didn't look so bad in the daylight but the first step was a doosey if you were not paying attention



In the end, we enjoyed the park because of its heated pool and nightly hot tub visits as well as it's proximately to the Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, and other great locations on Hwy 1.

JAK and Daddy ran from the campsite to the top of Black Hill in 22 minutes one morning. One one side you can see Big Country, on the other side is Morro Rock.


We learned something while watching the surfers from the Pier in Pismo Beach - never point down to the water  by a surfer and say "there it is!" without also mentioning you are watching seal lions. It's mean and not appreciated based on the frantic looks on their faces.  



We don't consider our trip a "vacation."  If you are on vacation, you go out to eat, somewhat turn a blind eye on your normal budget, and you certainly don't go to the community health clinic to get your family flu shots!  (and yes, she thought we were very weird for taking a picture)


Remember the "clean high" the girls had after the shower in Beverly Beach.  We discovered the "Hot Tub high" this week one night.  Corey Hart would have been proud.
 

Despite our cramped site, our spot was located at the end and had an great easterly view in the evenings.



We spent a few hours at the natural history museum in Morro Bay which has something for all ages




When one of the Park Rangers found out JAK had a burning interest in gems and rocks, he brought us down to the basement and gave him free reign to explore their well organized collection. 


The wildlife in this area is easy to observe at close range:

Sea Otters

Harbor Seals


Elephant Seals


And bears in shopping carts


We viewed Hearst Castle from the visitor center and thanks to a kind greeter who offered us free admission, we watched the IMAX movie about the creation of the castle.


We did not plan to see all the missions, but have been making it to as many as we can. Each one provides a unique view into their role in California's history.  This was the San Luis Obispo mission.


The monarch are migrating and thousands make a stop along this area of the coast



For some reason, our cousin Roger, who had toured us around Seattle and even stayed a night with us in the RV, was foolish enough to come back for more!  And this time, he was able to stay with us for two days.  We are hoping next time it will be for a week!

We went kayaking in Morro Bay


Climbed the sand dunes


Had a California tri-tip sandwich lunch


And of course did some hiking


After 8 great days in Morro Bay, it was time to move inland to the location we plan to leave Big Country while we fly to IN for the Thanksgiving weekend.  We arrived at Orange Grove RV park and were giddy to find out that orange season had "opened". The park is packed full of vitamin C goodness that you can pick as you desire



A kind soul named John who works at the park is keeping an eye on London while we are away.  He recently adopted a kitten of his own. Our kids can "break" a cat like a cowboy can break a horse.  They are never the same:)


Our poor cat.


As we "travel" over this holiday week, we thank God for the safe travels and experiences.  We are especially thankful for the family, friends, and even strangers who have shaped and influenced our lives. We pray for his continued blessings. We wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving.  God bless


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