At the time of our last update on 30 March 2017 we were in Florence, Oregon, USA. We are now in East Pinnacles National Park, California, USA
Main features of this period:
Coast, dunes, wildlife, more baked goods, waterfalls, mountains, pinnacles, hot, dry, long walks and dust!
Phrase of the month: “Dang, that truck is cool!” from a “dude” in Florence.
We were also treated to the Shaka sign by several passing “dudes’. This is a strange gesture [used a lot in Hawaii apparently] – sometimes interpreted as “Hang loose”. It seems to be the gesture of choice as “dudes” leave us after pulling up to admire our truck and ask the usual questions. Looking it up on Google [as is now compulsory with everything it seems] we found that even Barack Obama has used it as a greeting!
State Lines Crossed: 1 [Oregon to California]
Route travelled: Florence to Coo’s Bay to Port Orford to Brookings to Crescent City to Arcata to Bodega Bay to Monterey to Pinnacles National Park [west side and then east side].
Wildlife seen: A Black Bear in the Siskiyou Forest! Bald Eagles, harbour seals, snakes, ground squirrels, tree squirrels, turkey vultures, elk.
Marine/Aquatic life admired: Octopus, squid, puffins, sea otters, seahorses, sharks, rays, anchovies and more – all at Monterey Aquarium.
Baked goods eaten: A delicious Strawberry & Creme Doughnut, Pecan Tart, Pesto Croissant and a Chocolate Croissant from Bakery By the Sea, Brookings. A few tiny cakes [with jam] baked in the truck. Cookies at Port Orford.
Activities: We took a dune buggy out on the Oregon Dunes, visited the Monterey Aquarium and did some hot, long hikes at the Pinnacles, California. We also did long, scenic drives along the Oregon coast and through the Siskiyou Forest.
What is happening with the weather? We Brits love talking about weather!
Over the last 3 weeks we have had rain, snow drifts, been buffeted by howling gales and lashed with more rain, before finally encountering hot sun at the Pinnacles, California.
What have we been up to?
We left Florence and headed for Coo’s Bay. Near here we took a buggy out and raced about on the Oregon Dunes.
We walked to more waterfalls, got stuck in the snow in the mountainous forest , saw a wild black bear cross the road ahead and tried a new fish – wild ling-cod – at Port Orford. We visited the Coastguard Museum and were buffeted by a storm again at night here too. We also bought a lovely multigrain loaf and ate nice cookies with coffee at the friendly South Coast Gourmet speciality food shop. The molasses ginger cookie was a particular favourite. We moved on to Brookings and we were kept awake there by a howling wind and lashing rain.
When we tried to leave here the truck wouldn’t start. There was just a loud clunk every time Jon turned the key. Sarah started to make bread dough while the breakdown was being investigated. Next thing we knew the engine cover was off and the pistons were behaving like a steam engine. They were full of rain water that had been blown around and come down our snorkel. When we turned the engine over, the water was sucked in through the air intake, causing a hydraulic lock in the pistons. Glad we got that one sorted out!
We then left quicker than expected so the bread dough had to rise on the way and got a little out of hand. En route we stopped at By The Sea Bakery in Brookings and purchased far too many baked items, so we had to eat them over 2 days.
Before we crossed from Oregon into California, we stopped within sight of the state line to juice lemons and limes, and cook peppers/other vegetables that are not allowed through in their raw form. We took so long that state agriculture control had gone home by the time we reappeared – Friday 3.40pm is a good time to smuggle contraband fruit and vegetables into California it seems!
We reached Crescent City where we saw, and most definitely heard, lots of harbour seals. We drove on to Arcata, stopping to have lunch looking out to sea. Later we watched a herd of elk, who hung around in a field while we had our afternoon tea of coffee and pecan tart.
Jon took the wheels off and checked brakes outside a Mexican restaurant [that was closed] at Arcata, while Sarah turned ingredients into meals inside. We drove through the Avenue of the Giants, causing great amusement for the poor soul who has to live in a small box on wheels with a giant, and stopped to walk through the giant redwood trees there. We finally found some California sunshine.
We looked in vain for whales at Point Reyes, visited the impressive aquarium at Monterey and hiked upwards in heat at The Pinnacles National Park.
Are we within our budget? Are we beaten or penniless?
Within a sniff of it – we are only a little over – due to the dune buggy and aquarium admission fee but nothing we can’t recover when we next house sit. We’ve recovered from a lot more than this since last summer! Although some areas are very expensive for camping here, it feels easier to manage again now – simply because we are no longer stuck with such limited options. Winter in North America was not conducive to staying within a tight budget and we had to fight bitterly cold weather, campgrounds shut down and locked up, roads closed, and a lack of cash all at the same time. This has now all changed!
What do we really think of it so far?
Camping in sunshine is great. Much easier than in winter. It is much easier when we are not soaked and frozen every time we go outside. We wouldn’t have wanted to miss the winter or any of the things we have done – but we did find it arduous at times. We now feel much more like we are on holiday much more often, especially since the sun came out.
Seeing a wild bear was a particular highlight for both of us as it is so unusual. Jon enjoyed the challenge of fighting his way with the truck through deep snow in the mountains [see main picture] – although he confessed he would not like to do this every day. No one enjoyed the aches and pains, caused by the constant jolting, the following day.
The Monterey Aquarium and Dune Buggy made a nice change. Sarah liked the seahorses at the Aquarium as she had only previously seen seahorses in a similar place in Singapore. We have seen yet more outstanding scenery, enjoyed our challenging all day hikes and packed lunches en route as well as a good selection of baked items from By The Sea Bakery while travelling. We also tucked into some juicy, in-season, California oranges. It is good to just stop and buy a sack of oranges from a stall at the side of the road, when they are being grown in the area and therefore are in abundance. We prefer this to the fruit and vegetables that have been stored in supermarket chilled storage for ever and a day.
At the Pinnacles campground we met more friendly Americans, including Robyn and Brian – who offered useful information about California and beyond, invited us for a meal/glass of wine by their camp fire and even offered us a place to park on their property if we end up in their area [Morro Bay] on our future travels. It is nice that people are so welcoming here.
We have lots to write about and many pictures/videos to publish and will make a concerted effort to catch up with some of it at our next house sit. We have started to produce a video of our route – but as we have been so far, with so many different places, views and activities, it is taking a while!
Please use the Booking.com link above to book your next discounted hotel. We used this web site a lot in the winter and it is really useful. If you use it [at no extra cost to you] we will get a small commission that will help to buy us a pancake or coffee sometime. Thank you!