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

California - Nov 4 - Nov 15

It's been 3 months since we departed so we thought we'd compile some thoughts, surprises, and most common question before this update starts:

What is it like going on an RV Trip?

Anna: "It's very bumpy"

Scariest Moment:

JAK: "Climbing down from The Chief in Squamish, BC.  I cried little tears but no one could see them because it was raining."

Anna: "When I threw up"  (that also falls into the Surprise category for Mommy)

Mommy: "When I accidentally crossed the border without a passport"

Daddy:  "When that guy pretending to be a tree jumped out at me in San Francisco. Who begs for money like that?!"  ˛

Favorite things:

JAK: "Hiking, going to the beach, waffles and pancakes. Sometimes we just sit in front of the space heater and relax"

Least favorite things:

Katie: "It takes a long time to drive in the jeep and I can't lay down when I'm tired"

JAK: "When I threw up" (ya, us too)

What is the bathroom like?

Katie: "Well, there is a number 1 flush and a number 2 flush.  And Daddy has to go out with his gloves and take care of it"

Reoccurring Comments:

"Jason, I thought when I saw you, you'd have a Grizzly Adam's beard"


Before leaving Harris Beach, we were joined by good friends Patricia, Mat and their super dog Abbey.  It was a fun couple of days and evenings visiting with them and we hope to meet up with them again as they are traveling a similar path (but they started in Quebec!)

Mat has restored their 1974 Winnie and it looks amazing.

Along with learning to crochet, wearing the dog out (or maybe it was the opposite), and walking the beach, we were given front row seats to a bonfire performance by Mat.  He is a talented artist.  He is performing at various venues during their trip through the US.  Hearing his original material on an acoustic guitar was like a back stage pass to "Canada's got Talent"!  Sorry, iPhone takes good pics, just not in the dark.

It's never too late to carve your fall 'punkin'!

Alas it was time to leave OR.  If it had not been for the cool, wet weather we probably could have stayed...a long time.

The CA redwoods start at the moment you cross the boarder. Driving into the redwoods with the 8' x 4' RV glass windshield was like going to the theatre v. watching it at home on the DVD.  You feel a lot more comfortable at home, but the experience doesn't compare!!

One caution about going inside the trees - bees may live there too. Shortly after this picture we found ourselves sprinting back to Big Country and Katie was stung 3 times. She was a tough cookie.

It's a humbling experience being in the redwoods.  They can stand 300+ feet and can be over 1000 years old. If you don't believe in God, come sit in silence for a moment in these trees. You'll hopefully feel what we felt looking up - it's awesome.  It is also a powerful way to teach the importance of managed conversation to your children.

Eager to find warmer weather we continued our trip south to Santa Rosa. Camping in CA is a whole different experience from OR.  In OR, for $22 a night, we had ocean views, green grass, and playgrounds.  In CA, for $30 a night, we found a lovely gravel lot, high chain link fence, and a ever present smell of country-fair barn animals....and some families might even find themselves "smuggling" their children in because they charge per child...for what???  Are they afraid the child will play in their gravel lot??:)

But....there is plenty of fun to be had in CA. Jason has been fortunate to be able to hunt the MN deer hunting opener with his family in northern MN for 28 consecutive years.  Traditions are important in so many ways, but this trip is so special to us it couldn't be interrupted!  So in honor of missing deer camp in MN, we went "crab hunting" in Bodega bay.

Who says you can't fish and do school at the same time?

And Jason, Jak and I played cribbage (a tradition at deer camp).

We can't take the RV on highway 1, but we plan to drive as much of it as we can with the jeep and leap frog using 101.  This is the area north of Bodega bay.

10 years ago we took a trip to Sonoma.  At the time, we purchased 10 bottles of wine and enjoyed one each year on our anniversary. We hoped to return when the last bottle was gone and feel blessed to be back as planned.  We did our share of wineries with our friends in OR, but we visited our favorites at Simi and Twomey. Combined with our OR and BC wine, we have our next 10 years stored in our climate controlled RV.  The "climate" controls everything inside this thing:)

We went to Sonoma and took a tour of the Mission San Francisco Solano. We plan to visit a number of the missions as we head south.

For Veteran days, everyone was excited to see San Francisco. And what a great day it was.

Golden Gate Park

San Francisco National Cemetery

Lombard street!

We thought it was a rule you had to wait until after Thanksgiving to put up your Christmas decorations!


Hyde Street by Trolly

And a long walk that included the life size Gingerbread house in the Fairmont hotel and China town.

We decided to head from Santa Rosa to the town of Watsonville, which is 15 miles from Santa Cruz and 30 miles from Monterey.  But first, a stop to see one of our favorite companies and friends.

All is well as we arrived Pinto Lake County park.  This is a new experience as this is a small local park that is open to the public from 7am until sunset.  It is visited by local children which means new friends.  JAK found a friend to play Pokemon.

Recent Quotes:
Katie while crossing the border: "Here we come California!!!"
1 hour later:
Daddy: "Katie, what do you think of California?"
Katie:  "Good. [pause] But this looks a lot like Oregon" [someone expected hills full of gold]

We think the cat is contemplating escape again.
 "I can smell my freedom"

"If these dang paws were just a wee bit longer..."

May God bless you and your families!