August 31, 2019

Florence, Oregon

Saturday, October 27, 2018
Brookings to Florence, OR
Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park
Distance: 153 miles
Duration: 1 night
Cost: $31
Weather: Cool and rainy

We weren't in a big rush to leave the campground in Brookings, but after breakfast we headed on up the highway to Florence. The fall colors were so pretty and in spite of having driven this highway many times, we were still in awe of the beauty of the forest.

We arrived at the campground without any trouble and since we didn't have reservations, we drove around the first couple of loops until we found a nice site. This state park has huge, tall trees with lots of shrubbery between the sites. We didn't have any problem with privacy since the park was practically empty, but during the summer months, the trees and shrubs would be adventageous for shade and privacy. It's a really nice state campground with only a little road noise (and the occasional ATV noise out on the dunes). It rained heavily during the night, but we still slept soundly. The sites are level, asphalt pads with full hook-ups, picnic table and fire ring. Pretty much your typical Oregon state park, which we have come to love over the past two years. 

Not our campground, but we camped here in June (2018).
Beautiful area but no cell service!

Oregon moss.

Pretty much had the entire loop to ourselves.

No neighbors, which is always nice!

Site #C142
We'll definitely be back!

Sunday, October 28, 2018
Florence to Depoe Bay, OR
Distance: 66 miles

August 30, 2019

Looking Back - Object Lessons

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.

Object Lessons by Anna Quindlen
1997 Ballantine Books (first published in 1991)
Read in January 1999
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

It is the 1960s, in suburban New York City, and twelve-year-old Maggie Scanlan begins to sense that despite the calm surface of her peaceful life, everything is going strangely wrong.

When her all-powerful grandfather is struck down by a stroke, the reverberations affect Maggie's entire family. Her normally dispassionate father breaks down, her mother becomes distant and unavailable, and matters only get worse when her cousin and her best friend start doing things to each other that leave Maggie confused about sex and terrified of sin.

With all of this upheaval, how can she be sure that what she wants is even worth having?

My Original Notes (1999):

Good, but not great. Kind of depressing. I do like Quindlen's style, however and plan to read more of her novels.

My Current Thoughts:

Turns out this was Quindlen's first published novel. She has certainly evolved over the past 25 years as a fiction writer. 

August 28, 2019

Garberville, CA & Brookings, OR

Friday, October 26, 2018
Garberville, CA to Brookings, OR
Harris Beach State Park
Distance: 188 miles
Duration: 1 night
Cost: $32

Another relaxing morning (although Rod did have a teleconference before we left) and we were on the road before noon. We didn't feel rushed and since it's a familiar drive, we didn't leave until close to check-out.

I always enjoy my walks by this beautiful, old hotel.

The trees were so pretty!

I thought it would be fun to have our lunch in the Redwood National Park, so we took a road that we thought would lead us to something in the way of a visitor center. HA! The road (Bald Hills Road) just north of Orick was not one we should have taken! At the "entrance" of the park, we saw a sign that said "Steep road. Trailers not advised." It did not indicate the percentage of the grade, nor did it say anything about RVs. So, up we went. The road was very narrow with huge pot holes. Had there been a place to turn around, I might have considered doing just that before we went any further. The incline was VERY steep! We finally reached the first parking area and we decided to turn around and go back down the hill. The RV was going pretty fast, even with the lower gears in tow mode. It was pretty scary, especially since I had to rely on the brakes along with the lower gears. We reached the bottom and found a parking spot in another lot and ate our lunch. There might have been a beer involved, too. While reading a sign near a trailhead, I discovered that the road we had just come down was 15%. This sign also said not recommended for trailers or RVs. I wish we had seen that one first. 

Didn't see any!

Nice spot for lunch.

The rest of the drive back to Oregon was uneventful. It started to drizzle in Crescent City, but no wind to speak of. We arrived at Harris Beach SP and got set up in our lovely ocean view site. Sadly, it was raining. It wasn't pouring, but we couldn't see the water or any of the rocks. I would love to return to this SP (this was our second visit) when the weather's better and it's not too crowded.

The view from our back window. (Site #A22)

Almost home!

August 26, 2019

Ask Again, Yes

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
2019 Simon and Schuster Audio
Read by Molly Pope
Finished on August 22, 2019
Rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good)

Keane takes on one of the most difficult problems in fiction - how to write about human decency . . . a compelling case for compassion over blame, understanding over grudge, and the resilience of hearts that can accept the contradictions of love. ~ Louise Erdrich, National Book Award winning author of The Round House

Publisher's Blurb:

How much can a family forgive?

A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne—sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Francis and Lena’s daughter, Kate, and Brian and Anne’s son, Peter. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while tested by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.

I spent almost an entire month listening to this powerful book, not because it was dull and plodding, but because I wanted to savor the story and wasn't ready to say goodbye to the characters, all of whom I had come to care and worry about as though they were my neighbors and friends. Molly Pope does an outstanding job as the audio reader for this poignant family drama and each character stands alone in my mind's eye, thanks to her excellent narration. 

Spanning four decades, Keane's narrative, while not a mystery, maintained just enough tension to keep me listening at every opportunity. I enjoyed learning the details of events as they were gradually teased out in alternating perspectives, which helped to shed light on the motives and reactions of both families, allowing a deeper understanding of the turmoil experienced by each character. It only took a few chapters for me to realize this would be a winner and one that would wind up on my Top Ten list for 2019. A touching story peopled with believable and endearing characters, this engaging work of literary fiction is one that will stay with me a long time. Actually, it's one I want to re-read in print, so I will add it to my book club list of recommendations for 2020. Will I remember the title? Probably not. But I will remember the two families whose intersecting lives were filled with doubts, regret, heartbreak, misunderstandings, doubt and, ultimately, forgiveness. I can't wait to check out Keane's backlist!

August 25, 2019

Garberville, CA

Thursday, October 25, 2018
Garberville, CA
Benbow KOA

It's always so nice to have a "stay" day after so much traveling. Since we were almost home, we decided to only stay two nights at this KOA, but it sure was nice to relax. I didn't even bother doing any laundry since we would be home in a few days. I took a couple of long walks and Rod worked on an article for a magazine. All in all, it was a quiet day.

Brunch! Leftover steak with veggies and scrambled eggs.

The fog was heavy on the hills and it was chilly.

Our timing is always perfect. 
This KOA is seldom more than 50% full when we're here.

The sun finally came out and it turned out to be a beautiful day.

August 24, 2019

Philo, CA

Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Philo to Garberville, California
Garberville/Benbow KOA
Distance: 125 miles
Duration: 2 nights
Cost: $57/night
Weather: Sunny and warm

We woke up with the sun and were on the road fairly early for us. I took more pictures of the vineyard and the fog on the hills in the distance. It was such a beautiful and peaceful morning. I hated to leave.

The drive on Hwy. 253 was very pretty with a lot of the trees dressed in their fall colors. The highway is probably just as curvy as Hwy. 128, but there wasn't as much traffic, so it was more enjoyable than when we drove in to Philo from 101. Also, we noticed that when I pulled over to let the cars behind me pass, almost every single one tapped their horns in appreciation. This has happened occasionally on our road trips, but we were shocked that almost 99% of the cars and trucks expressed their thanks to us with the horn tap. Thank you, Northern California drivers!

Another first was having a couple of deer dash across the road, right in front of the RV. Thankfully, we were going slow enough that it wasn't a problem, but it sure got our attention! 

We had one steep descent of 10% for 2 miles, but the RV handled it just fine. I feel so much more comfortable with steep ascents and descents in this Class C RV compared to when we were pulling a trailer. 

Early morning at Handley Cellars Winery.

Beautiful morning with lots of birdsong.

Another vineyard just east of Handley Cellars Winery. Gorgeous!

We decided to play tourists and stopped at the Drive-Thru Tree Memorial Grove in Leggett. It's pretty much a tourist trap, what with the $10 fee to enter the park. Obviously, our RV is far too big to drive through the tree, but we walked around and took a few pictures.

Probably not worth it, but we decided to play tourists.

Nope. The Four Winds is not gonna fit!

2400 years old! Wow.

I don't know how many times we've stayed at the Benbow KOA, but this may have been our third visit and it was nice to be back in a familiar spot. We snagged a good end site, which meant there was nobody on our right and we could enjoy looking out on the beautiful fall colors. The contrast between the leaves and the blue sky was picture-perfect! I took a long walk, desperate to get some exercise and stretch my legs. I walked over to the Benbow Inn and couldn't believe how low the Eel River had become since our visit less than six months earlier.

We enjoyed our drinks outside, as the weather was absolutely perfect. Not too hot and not at all windy. It got pretty chilly after the sun went down, but it was so quiet, we both slept great.

Back at the Benbow KOA.

The river is so low!

Beautiful fall colors.

Last time we were here, this river bed was completely covered with water.

Love these trees!

Not too many people here, so it made for a nice quiet stay.

August 23, 2019

Looking Back - What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

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.

What Looks Like Crazy On an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage
1998 Harper Perennial (first published in 1997)
Read in December 1998
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Acclaimed Playwright, essayist and columnist Pearl Cleage breaks new ground in African American women's literature--with a debut novel that sings and crackles with life-affirming energy as it moves the reader to laughter and tears.

As a girl growing up in Idlewild, Michigan, Ava Johnson had always heard that, if you were young, black, and had any sense at all, Atlanta was the place to be. So as soon as she was old enough and able enough, that was where she went--parlaying her smarts and her ambition into one of the hottest hair salons in town. In no time, she was moving with the brothers and sisters who had beautiful clothes, big cars, bigger dreams, and money in the bank.

Now, after more than a decade of elegant pleasures and luxe living, Ava has come home, her fabulous career and power plans smashed to bits on one dark truth. Ava Johnson has tested positive for HIV. And she's back in little Idlewild to spend a quiet summer with her widowed sister, Joyce, before moving on to finish her life in San Francisco, the most HIV-friendly place she can imagine.

But what she thinks is the end is only the beginning because there's too much going down in her hometown for Ava to ignore. There's the Sewing Circus--sister Joyce's determined effort to educate Idlewild's young black women about sex, drugs, pregnancy, whatever. . .despite the interference of the good Reverend Anderson and his most virtuous, "Just say no" wife. Plus Joyce needs a helping hand to make a loving home for Imani, an abandoned crack baby whom she's taken into her heart.

And then there's Wild Eddie, whose legendary background in violence combined with his Eastern gentility has stirred Ava's interest. . .and something more.

My Original Notes (1998):

It took me a while to gain interest in this novel, but once I did, I was hooked! I found myself caring about Ava and Eddie, as well as the baby, Imani. Touching without being too sentimental. A good read!

My Current Thoughts:

Another book of which I have no recollection. I'm pretty sure I read it with an online book group, which probably got the suggestion from Oprah's book club.

August 22, 2019

Santa Rosa & Philo, CA

Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Santa Rosa to Philo, California
Handley Cellars
Distance: 87 miles
Duration: 1 night
Cost: Boondocking - free
Weather: Cool and partly sunny

We said our goodbyes to Sue and Rob then drove over to Sebastopol to meet up with our good friends, Sarah & Bert. Of course, we planned our lunch date at Handline so we could enjoy yet another delicious meal of fish tacos! After our early lunch, the four of us headed to Hook & Ladder Winery for some wine tasting. The winery is quite lovely and would be a nice place to go for a picnic lunch next time we're in Santa Rosa. We bought two bottles of their Sangiovese and had fun looking at all the shirts and caps that firefighters have brought to have on display in the tasting room. I even found one from Lincoln!

The bounty from George & Merry's avocado trees!

A foggy morning in Santa Rosa.

Handline fish tacos & fries. Delicious!

Our dear friends, Sarah & Bert.

Fun to spot this one from Lincoln, Nebraska!

Perfect spot for a picnic.

Happy travelers!

After more goodbyes, we got back on Hwy. 101 and started making our way north to the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County. Handley Cellars Winery (a Harvest Host site, which is located in Philo) was our destination for the night. It is less than a 100 miles from Hook & Ladder, but the last 40 miles (on Hwy. 128) took close to an hour, as it is quite curvy. However, the trees and vineyards were gorgeous in their fall colors and the drive turned out to be more beautiful than expected.

We arrived at Handley around 4:00 and after checking in at the tasting room, found our way to our site. In order to park out of the way and find a level spot, we had to park next to the old water tower, facing some small cottages (which we assume are for workers) and weren't able to position the RV with the windows looking out toward the vineyard. There was also some music coming from one of the cottages, but it was turned off before we were ready to go to sleep. So, not an ideal vantage point to appreciate the beauty from inside the RV, but certainly a lovely location to spend one night.

After dinner, we wandered around the property, taking in the views and watching the sun set over the hills in the distance. 

Note: Should we ever decide to travel from Hwy. 101 over to Mendocino (on Hwy. 128), a few nights at Hendy Woods State Park, which is situated on the Navarro River, might be a good alternative for a longer visit to this particular area.