August 19, 2019

Texas Road Trip - Day 47-49

Saturday, October 20, 2018
San Luis Obispo to Salinas, California
Salinas/Monterey KOA
Distance: 151 miles
Duration: 1 night
Cost: $68

Yep. Another KOA. I don’t remember why we chose this one. Probably because it's conveniently located right off the freeway.

The drive to Salinas was very pretty, with oleander decorating the median of the freeway, as well as large groves of eucalyptus trees scattered here and there along the roadside. Just seeing this vegetation brought back a lot of childhood memories of traveling from Northern California to my grandparents’ beach house in Leucadia. We also saw fields and fields of crops – tomatoes, lettuce, onions, grapes, etc.

We arrived at the KOA in the early afternoon, so I was able to do a couple of loads of laundry before dinner. The park isn’t really much of a campground, but rather a parking lot with shrubs & hedges between the sites. Nothing special and the approach to our site was too steep for our rig (we would have dragged as we backed in), but we were able to switch sites without any trouble. Situated so close to Hwy. 101, we heard a lot of road noise, but we were tired and didn’t have any trouble getting a good night’s sleep. Unless we have no other options, we won't stay here again.

One of the nicest rest areas we've been to!

Similar to the site we stayed in.
(Photo Credit: KOA Website)

Sunday, October 21, 2018
Salinas to Santa Rosa, California
Sue & Rob’s
Distance: 167 miles
Duration: 2 nights

Another slow, calm morning as we enjoyed our coffee and catching up on the news and emails. We eventually got on the road around 11:30(!). There was a lot of bumper-to-bumper traffic south of Gilroy, as well as in San Francisco, but the drive wasn’t at all bad. Hwy. 101 to 85 to 280 to 19th Street (in S.F.). I really wanted to walk across the bridge and get some photos, so once we got across we attempted to find a parking spot at the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point just to the northeast of the bridge. Ha. Maybe on a weekday, but it was Sunday afternoon and the lot was jam packed with tourists wanting to do the same thing. There are only a couple of RV parking spots and it just wasn't my lucky day. Maybe next time.

Bumper-to-bumper near Gilroy, CA.

I have always loved this bridge, 
but have never walked across it!

We stopped for a late lunch at In-N-Out in Petaluma, then continued on to Sue & Rob's in Santa Rosa. It's always so nice to spend time with my aunt and uncle who are very laid back and easy to be with. After drinks, we relaxed over dinner and then Rod got his guitar out for a little music. It was fun to listen to Rob sing along with Rod. Lovely, lovely evening!

Rob & Rod
(Say that three times fast!)

Monday, October 22, 2018
Santa Rosa, CA
Sue & Rob's

One of the things I love about visiting friends and family who are also retired is the slow, peaceful mornings we all enjoy. We had our coffee and breakfast, and went for a walk after catching up on emails. No visit to Santa Rosa is complete without a trip to Sebastopol for fish tacos at Handline. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon and we enjoyed sitting out on the patio while we visited and enjoyed our lunch. Rod and Rob decided to get ice cream (Tasty Freeze!), but I couldn't eat another bite.

Back at the house, we relaxed and caught up on various projects. A quick drink before dinner, then off to Jack & Tony's in downtown Santa Rosa. 

I always like to sample coffee from places we visit. 
Teaxs State of Mind's Red Dirt 
was big and bold, just the way I like it.

Two of my favorite people! 
Uncle Rob and Auntie Sue

Rob has such a great sense of humor!

These two became fast friends on our previous visit.
Cars, motorcycles, photography and writing. Lots in common!

My beautiful aunt - a kindred spirit.

Delicious dinner on our last night in Santa Rosa.

Another visit that was far too short. As I write this long overdue post, I am texting my aunt, making plans to stop by next month on our way to San Diego. We can't wait!!

August 16, 2019

Looking Back - Wild Swans

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

Wild Swans by Jung Chang
Nonfiction - Memoir
2003 Simon Schuster (first published in 1991)
Read in November 1998
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

The story of three generations in twentieth-century China that blends the intimacy of memoir and the panoramic sweep of eyewitness history—a bestselling classic in thirty languages with more than ten million copies sold around the world, now with a new introduction from the author.

An engrossing record of Mao’s impact on China, an unusual window on the female experience in the modern world, and an inspiring tale of courage and love, Jung Chang describes the extraordinary lives and experiences of her family members: her grandmother, a warlord’s concubine; her mother’s struggles as a young idealistic Communist; and her parents’ experience as members of the Communist elite and their ordeal during the Cultural Revolution. Chang was a Red Guard briefly at the age of fourteen, then worked as a peasant, a “barefoot doctor,” a steelworker, and an electrician. As the story of each generation unfolds, Chang captures in gripping, moving—and ultimately uplifting—detail the cycles of violent drama visited on her own family and millions of others caught in the whirlwind of history.

My Original Notes (1998):

Starts off slow, then the pace picks up, but almost drags toward the end. I learned a lot about Communism in China, but what a depressing book. Such brutality!

My Current Thoughts:

I think I might have read this with an online book group. I remember how it got bogged down toward the end and I almost didn't bother finishing. It's not a book I remember too well.

August 12, 2019

Texas Road Trip - Day 45 & 46

Thursday and Friday, October 18 & 19, 2018
Santa Paula to San Luis Obispo, California
George & Merry's
Distance: 154 miles
Duration: 2 nights

The following morning we made our way over to Hwy. 101, which was an easy drive even with the heavy traffic through Santa Barbara. It was a beautiful day for a drive and it was especially nice to see the ocean once again. When we were in San Diego, we never once made it to the beach! All our visits with family and friends were either inland or near downtown. 

Highway 101
Of course I had America's song
(Ventura Highway) in my head the entire time.

 Love these hills!

Time for a nightcap.

We planned our stop-over in San Luis Obispo in order to spend a couple of days catching up with Rod's childhood friend George, whom he has known since junior high school. George and Merry have a lovely piece of land nestled near some gentle, rolling hills just east of SLO. We were able to park our RV behind their house, overlooking their fruit orchard and the hills. 

After breakfast, I took a long walk on a nearby country road, which was very peaceful. I think I only saw one or two cars the entire hour I was walking. George recruited Rod to help him pick figs, which he was going to sell the following morning at the farmers market. More friends arrived later that afternoon and we had a good time catching up over a delicious meal prepared by George and Merry. 

Looking back and George and Merry's house.

Quiet road for a long walk.

Love those Steinbeck hills!

Creepy turkey vultures.


Beautiful views.

Picking figs.

Buddies for 50 years!

Once again, I didn't take very many pictures. I meant to get a group photo, but didn't remember until it was too late.

August 11, 2019

Texas Road Trip - Day 44

Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Escondido to Santa Paula, California
Ventura Ranch KOA
Distance: 190 miles
Duration: 1 night
Cost: $45 (normally $55, but the cable was out)
Weather: Sunny and 80s

After breakfast and goodbyes, we were back on the road heading north to Santa Paula. I've never driven an RV in L.A. and even driving a car there can cause a lot of stress. So, I did a lot of research trying to find the best possible route for this leg of the trip, getting advice from relatives, friends and bloggers who either live in the area or have traveled that freeway system. The consensus was to take I-15 to 210 to 5 to 126, which turned out to be just fine, with the exception of the interchange between 210 and 5, which is near Sylmar. The road was very bumpy and we probably should have taken the truck route since the ascent caused us to slow down and left me with nowhere to go to get out of the way of the merging semis. Traffic was heavy! Thankfully, that was the only stressful time of the whole day and to add to the enjoyment of the day, we had our final In-n-Out burger for this long road trip. So, L.A. wasn't a terrible experience after all.

Declan and his daddy, Tim. 
So hard to say goodbye!

Santa Paula, California

We arrived at our campground and got settled in without any trouble. We've only stayed in a couple of KOAs, preferring to camp at state parks or boondock on BLM property. Sadly, this rundown campground didn't change our minds to seek out more KOAs in the future. It wasn't terrible, but it certainly wasn't as nice as the KOA in Lynden, Washington or Garberville (Benbow), Calfornia. We had some shade, but no grass. (For future reference, the lower level loops have grass next to the sites.) The KOA offers electric/water hookups and provides a dump station near the front office. We needed a few blocks to get level and the walk to the showers/restrooms were quite a distance from our site. On the plus side, it was quiet and we enjoyed watching a dozen or so peacocks wandering around our loop. I'll take those over javelina any day!

Ventura Ranch KOA

One of a dozen.

No grass next to the campsites,
 but there was a large section the middle of the loop.

Overlooking the lower loop.

Final Thoughts: Nothing special, but sufficient for an overnight.

August 10, 2019

Texas Road Trip - Day 42 & 43

Monday and Tuesday, October 15 & 16, 2018
Escondido, California
Mark & Ana's Hacienda

Our parking spot on the side of the road worked out very nicely. There wasn't much road noise except for the occasional car zipping by as people headed off to work. We slept well and enjoyed a relaxing morning, catching up on emails and social media, before heading out to have lunch with some good friends.

Islands Restaurant in Mira Mesa

Kristy & George
We've been friends for almost 40 years!

So good to catch up with this dear friend of mine!

Getting a little warm, but not too terrible.

Rod worked on a writing project while I sat outside reading and listening to Ana practicing her cello. Once Mark got home from work, we had a drink then headed out to dinner at Sammy's Woodfired Pizza in San Marcos. I almost always take pictures of our food when we are traveling, but failed to do so on this particular day. I must have been too busy catching up!

Mark & Ana's peaceful balcony.

Gorgeous views of the mountains (and their orchard)

The following morning we woke up fairly early and were surprised that it was so cold. 45 degrees! And, we discovered we had ants in the RV! Not just a few, either. Ugh. Time to get some spray and bait traps.

We puttered around until it was time to head down to El Cajon to visit more family. Ana and her grandson joined us and we had a wonderful timing catching up with my stepbrother and his wife. Their grandson was also there, so the two little boys had a great time together while we visited. 

Mark & Ana's grandson, Declan.

Declan with Neal and Val's grandson Caleb.

Declan and his Opa.

This little guy really stole my heart!

Those eyes!

Watching his Oma fix dinner.

Sweet little boy who looks so much like his daddy did at that age!

Such a great visit, but far too short. Not only did I fail to take pictures of our delicious meals, but I didn't get any of Neal & Val. Next time!