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