At last I can post pictures!!! Here's the backlog:

At mile 0 of the Alaskan Highway in Dawson Creek, British columbia:

We saw a lot of signs to "Beware of Avalanche" but fortunately, no avalanches. But at one point Randy had to stop the RV in the middle of the road, get out, and move a big rock out of the way.

The forest of signs at Watson Lake:

And the town's big department store:

A lone buffalo. . .

The black bear

Stone Sheep on the highway:


Friday April 23 When we woke up early in the morning, the temp was cold, air was clear, and the outside water line was frozen. Randy and John had to work a bit to free up our respective water lines but soon we were on our way. It was 272 miles to Whitehorse, and along the way we finally saw a moose! He was standing on the road but moved out of the way long before we got to where he was. He moved with a loose, bouncy trot, probably because his legs were so long. At least we did get to see one! Our path took us over the Continental Divide in the Yukon. When we got to Whitehorse we headed to the local Wal-Mart. John and Diane had some last minute shopping to do and we had already decided to boon-dock in the parking lot. Randy checked with the Wal-Mart folks and confirmed it was OK for us to park there overnight. We even found there were 20 amp outlets we could plug into.

Saturday April 24 We were anxious to get to Skagway today. Breakfast was English hot tea, followed by Tillamook beef jerky later in the day. We changed roads from Canada’s highway 1 to highway 2, and views suddenly changed from beautiful to amazing – full of white mountains and frozen lakes. Highway 2 is a also a paved road but it is a little rougher and bumpier. Another first for this trip – we drove the RV over a wooden bridge! We also passed a lot of avalanche gates – they look like railroad crossing gates and they come down to block the road when necessary.

One of the most beautiful areas was Titshi Lake. It was frozen solid and surrounded by tall mountains and green forests.

There were other wonderful views all along the road:

When we got to the Canadian border nobody was there so we drove on through. A few miles down the road is the US border control station, where we were drove up to a red stop light. A guy came out of the main building and went into a small checkpoint building by the road. We waited probably 5 minutes before he changed the light to green, so we could move forward to his location. When we got there he explained that the computer hadn’t been turned on since last October and it was taking awhile to boot up; Apparently they don’t get much traffic through here. He asked about what we planned to do in Alaska, and when we told him we would be working for Corrington Industries, he said they always got good people - “They arrive on time and the women don’t get pregnant!”
So we pulled into Mount Vernon Estates, where we will park for 5 months. It’s not as formal as Quail Run in Arizona. The ground is all rocks and the RVs back up to brush and trees. But it’s surrounded by mountains and the people seem very friendly. It is only 2 miles from downtown Skagway so we will probably ride our bikes to work sometimes.

We went into town and found the office where we met Jerry Epps and Micki. After filling out some employment papers, we were given a short tour by Jerry. He showed us the 4 stores that Corrington will run this year. When we were done with the tour we decided to walk around the town. It is a quaint little town and much of it looks like the old-time towns. We had lunch at Sweet Tooth Café where the food was good. (It is nice to know we have a good restaurant). We also visited the local Health Food Store.

Sunday April 25 Today is dedicated to getting settled in and straightening out the coach a little bit. We spent some time working on the site and cleaning up the Jeep. Went to the town recreation center to see what type of facilities they have – they have a really nice place with some good equipment. Later Randy drove us out to see what the locals call the flats, where they say that the salmon will run later this summer. We followed a couple of dirt roads to see what was there. We went toward a historic town called Dyea bit we don’t know much about it yet, as it was closed for the season. During our drive we were able to see the ocean inlet and there were a couple of harbor seals and an otter in the water. Bacl at the RV park there was an Ice Cream social for one of the manager’s grandchildren, and Dennis Corrington was there. He is a very interesting person. He came to Alaska as a history teacher and has ended up owning quite a few buildings and store in Skagway.

Before the end of the day we both did some more work on the site to get it into shape.

Monday April 26 Randy went to the recreation center and joined, then cleaned up the bicycles and the hitch. Diane and John invited us to dinner at the Red Onion Saloon. This restaurant is housed in a very famous building - it was the House of Ill Repute during the Gold Rush days. The menu is mostly pizza and each is named for one of the “Working Ladies”. They have a museum in the upstairs but unfortunately that part was closed for some repair.

We ended the day again by doing more work on the site and planting a few plants.

Laird Hot Springs - April 21, 2010

Wednesday April 21, 2010 – The goal of today was to get to Laird Hot Springs – it’s not as far as some of the drives we have made in the past, but the road has more curves and bumps, the grades are steeper, and the wind is stronger. But the views along the way are becoming prettier - there are beautiful snow-covered mountains in the distance instead of rough brown hills and dust. Our window crack is growing but the radiator seems to have stopped leaking. And there are still no moose sightings, but we are finally some seeing wildlife! We got a quick glance of a black bear, and a big beaver dam. And everyone at Fort Nelson said we would see Stone sheep and caribou when we got to Summit Lake. They were right! Summit Lake is the name of an unincorporated area (I can’t call it a town) and it looked like the one or two buildings that comprised it were all closed for the season. But as we drove through the area we saw several Stone Sheep standing beside or on the road. They look a lot like bighorn sheep and some of them have big curved horns. Some of them were standing on the highway and they casually trotted off as we approached. Later we also saw found some caribou on the highway before us. They move quickly for such big animals.

We stopped at Toad River for gas. Toad River is the name of another unincorporated town; we only saw two houses and a combination gas station/
restaurant/tourist shop. Because we had not see any fuel services since Fort Nelson and were not sure we would find any before Watson Lake, we topped of the tank at Toad River. It was the most expensive gas we’ve ever bought. It cost $1.329 a liter; since there are 3.79 liters to a gallon, we paid $5.037 a gallon! But it’s better to be safe than sorry out here.

We pulled into Liard Hot Springs in early afternoon. We were worried that the large, hungry mosquitoes that showed up in Fort Nelson would be here also, but the colder weather here seemed to keep them away. The park isn’t quite ready for RV camping this early in the season. They have an area designated for dry-dock camping but it was too slushy to use, so they let us park in the general parking area for free. We were expecting to dry-dock anyway, so that was perfect. We parked the rigs and walked down a long boardwalk to the hot springs. There are simple changing rooms available and wooden steps down into the spring, which is in a natural pool-like area with rocky edges and a sandy, rocky bottom. The water smells strongly of sulfur but it didn’t seem to matter after we got in. A spring of hot water bubbles up at one end of the pool, a stream of cold water runs in a few feet from it, and the combination creates a wonderful effect. The water temperature ranges from 108 to 126 degrees in different parts of the pool. At the other end of the pool area is a small dam. On the other side of the dam a stone ledge has been placed so that if you sit on it, the water falling over the dam (about a 3 foot drop) falls on your back and shoulders like a spa-massage. It felt absolutely wonderful!

We were so warm from the springs that we didn’t feel the cold on the walk back to the RVs. After dinner we got together with John and Diane for a couple of games of cards. It is staying light later now – at 9 pm it was still daylight outside.

Thursday, April 22, 2010 – Randy took another dip in the hot springs before breakfast, but I looked at the frost on the windows of the cars in the lot and decided not to. But he loved it! We hit the road to Watson Lake, which is somewhere about 145 miles north. Along the way we saw lots and lots of buffalo chips on both sides of the road. Twice we also saw a single buffalo feeding on the verge beside the road, but we never the herd that must have caused all that mess. We also passed a big black bear. He was on the road a good way ahead of us, and by the time we reached him, he had stepped 10-12 feet off the road and just waited for us to pass.

We got into Watson Lake and hooked up at the Downtown RV Park. It’s downtown alright – half a block off the main street, and the main street is only a few blocks long. The owner of the Park is very friendly and helpful. He winters down in the USA at Salton Sea and comes up here to run the Park during the spring and summer. He could not believe we didn’t see the nearby huge herd of several hundred buffalo!

We walked around town. Like other towns, their visitor center is not open yet, but they do have a very interesting “Forest of Sign Posts”. When the Alaskan highway was built, a signpost was erected with signs to local areas. One guy added a sign from his home town. From that, the tradition grew and now travelers from all over the world leave signs. We saw signed from all over the US and several other countries, as far away as Australia.

We will head for Whitehorse tomorrow, which means we will get to Skagway much earlier than we planned. But we are finding that the towns along the route are quite small – between 1,000 and 5,000 people – which limits what is available to do and see, and most of the interesting places are still closed. We just aren’t finding much to spend time investigating or enjoying, so we might as well move north before it gets colder.

We have been paying for some items with USA dollars. Everyone accepts them, and the exchange rate is something like one US dollar for 99 Canada cents. But everyone gives change in Canadian money, of course, so we are acquiring a small stash of that, and we don’t really want it. So we are spending it when possible.

Note:  I could not load photos during this time.  For photos of this section of the trip, go to  Additional April Photos

April 20, 2010

Tuesday April 20 2010 John saw a weather report that bad weather is on the way, so we decided to take advantage of one more day of clear skies to drive 285 miles to Fort Nelson. The drive wasn’t too bad – the roads were a bit bumpy in areas with a few steep grades thrown in. But the guys made it through by about 3:30. Along the way we found that our radiator developed a slight leak, and a passing truck threw a big rock that took a chuck out of our window. The windshield didn’t quite break all the way through but the crack is bigger than a “chip”. Randy cleaned it and covered it with clear tape, in hopes of keeping it clean enough to be fixed later, if it doesn’t grow too large. When we got to Fort Nelson he stopped at a radiator repair shop and got an additive that will hopefully fix the radiator leak. So with the problems addressed as much as possible, we parked in the 3 G RV Park. This used to be the West End RV Park, but it’s under new management this year so they changed the name. This park was owned by the same person who owned the Northern Lights RV Park that we used in Dawson Creek, and like that park, it is currently being renovated. According to our research it’s the only RV Park in town that is open before May 1. They have a lot of 30 amp sites but a few of them are not available because the water and/or sewer lines are still frozen. That seems a bit odd because the weather is great – we even have the air conditioner on! The park has a saloon (a combination restaurant and bar), with saddles on the bar stools and stuffed wolves over the door. We split a buffalo burger and fries, which were very good. Here in Canada they usually ask if you want gravy with your fries. This time we said yes, but on the side, so we could try it. The gravy was standard brown gravy – not too bad but it would have been better if the gravy was home-made. All in all, this seems like a nice park.

For the past few days we have noticed an increase in dust. This place is as dusty as Arizona City, but they don’t seem to manage it quite as well. The grocery stores have dust tracked in them – but that may be because this dust is always here, and in Arizona City the dust storms came and went.

Monday April 19, 2010 Alaska or Bust

Monday April 12, 2010 . had the refrigerator repaired at Camping World. All went well. From there on to Twin CedarRV in Lynwood, Wa. Twin Cedars RV was a small park adequate but a little difficult to maneuver around.

Tuesday April 13, 2010 Went to Seattle to see the sites. The first stop was the Pike’s Place Market, known for throwing fish around. The Market was really neat to see and experience. There was a Russian bakery where we got a pastry and it was really good. There were many selling flowers. The bouquets were beautiful. The range of shops was extensive. We ate at Ivans. We had fish and chips and chowder. All was very good.

Wednesday April 14, 2010. Today was reserved for getting everything ready for the trip tomorrow.

Thursday, April 15 - Today we crossed the border into Canada! We met up with John and Diane just north of Seattle and headed for Canada. However, because this was the first day of the Canada/Alaska trek, we had a few stops along the way: a stop for gas, a stop for diesel, a stop for customs, a stop for groceries, and a stop for wine! So we didn’t get too far into Canada today – just to Hope, British Columbia. We are using walkie-talkies to communicate between our 2 RVs. They can be static-y and one of them needs to be held together by a rubber band (even though they are new!) but they are pretty useful so far.

The Canadian customs process was more stressful than it needed to be. Because we are full-time RVers, they know we consider it our home. And because we are Americans, they assume we like to have a gun to protect our home. So they had a hard time believing we didn’t have any guns! Our guns are registered so of course that shows on their database search. We said several times that we left the guns with our cousin in Riverside, California, but I don’t think they believed us because they took the RV keys and searched the whole RV. We had to wait inside the customs building while the search was going on. It’s a bit unnerving to have to let a stranger go through your home, and they took their time and looked everywhere. We could tell, after it was over, that they had looked in the freezer, under the entrance step, in the cabinets, under the bed, in all the bays - everywhere. We travel with our breakables nestled on the bed so they are protected from road bumps and hard stops; after the search we found everything had been moved from the bed to the floor, and the mattress left askew on the bed frame.

While waiting through the process we were sort of worrying because we weren’t sure if there was some law we didn’t know about, and therefore would be violating. But at the end of it all, we were cleared without any issues. John and Diane’s RV was also searched, but that search took less than half the time that ours took. We think it might be because we are traveling together, and since nothing was wrong in our RV, it was assumed that theirs would be OK also.

We ended the day around 5 pm just north of Hope, BC at Othello Tunnels RV Park, after covering 167 miles. Although I had called earlier and was told the price would be $25, it was really $28. Oh well, we were all ready to stop and unwind, so we paid up and hooked-up. The RV Park is not well maintained, the advertised Wi-fi doesn’t work and there are a lot of run-down permanent trailers here, but there is a beautiful mountain view and its quiet tonight, so we will get some rest and be ready to move out tomorrow.

Friday – Today we planned to put some miles behind us, while the weather is clear and the roads are OK. The roads are a bit bumpy in places but overall they are good. There are a lot of curves and hills, but nothing as bad as that road through the Ana-Borrego Desert State Park (see March 5). We planned on boon-docking tonight. We’d heard and read that RVs could park overnight at most of the rest areas, but every one we stopped at had a sign that said parking was only allowed for 8 hours. We ended up driving 286 miles before we pulled into the Visitor Center in Williams Lake. They are supposed to have Wi-fi there but we couldn’t get it to connect. So we spent a quiet night without phone, TV or computers, which was nice for a change.

Saturday – Today we decided not to drive quite so far. But again, we could not find a place to stop. We drove about 318 miles and eventually stopped at the “Peace Foothills”, 167 miles north of Prince George. No services, but both RVs fit nicely in the roadside gravel lot. In fact there were two other RVs there for the night, too.

Sunday – Taking no chances, we drove 84 miles to Dawson Creek and looked for an RV park with full hook up. The first 2 we checked did not have water or sewer available yet because the ground was still frozen. The 3rd one had full hookup and knew they were the only game in town, so they charged $35. At this point we were all ready to hookup, so we stayed. Drove around town a bit – there is not that much here. I thought Dawson Creek, start of the Alaskan Highway, would have more of a frontier town feel to it, but it just has a small town feel.

Monday- Went to the Mile 0 mile post and did the standard tourist stuff. There is an Alaskan Highway information center that was really interesting. The rest of the day was devoted to getting things ready to go.

April 13, 2010

Friday April 9, 2010 We left Tillamook, Big Spruce Park and drove to the Tacoma, WA area, and settled into the parking lot of the Emerald Queen Casino. No facilities here so we will be boon docking for a couple of nights. We went over to Camping World to be sure that the part for the refrigerator came in and everything was on schedule. We went over to the port to see some of the container ships. There were only 2 ships in port that we could see. It is amazing how large these things are and how fast the crane operators are at loading them. From there we went to a greasy spoon hamburger joint called Quick-Pick. The burgers and fries were fresh and really good. We had a short night - went to bed early.

Saturday April 10, 2010. We went to Sam’s to get new tires on the Jeep and do some last-minute stocking up. We know that food will be more expensive in AK so we are trying to stock up on some of the essentials. So with that in mind, we have now successfully stocked up enough food to keep a family of 10 going for at least 2 years (we will be in Skagway a total of 5 months, do you get the picture?). After getting tires we drove to Mount Rainier National park. Mount Rainier is 14,400 feet tall and quite beautiful. The park is very interesting to explore. It turns out they have naturally occurring Co2 springs that bubble right up to the surface. Apparently at one point in there was a place there where you could go for health treatments with the water.

We hiked through part of the park enjoying the trees and landscape. We learned a little about the cycle of the forest. When a tree dies it becomes a great place for the seedlings to bed and begin their lives. Also the event of fire helps to clean the underbrush out, giving smaller plants a chance to grow and get established.

We drove as far up to the top as we could go, which is the snow play area. They had 14 ½ feet of snow at that point. They have a nice ranger’s station there with snow shoe rentals, souvenirs and food and drink. It would be nice to go all the way to the top but to do that you have to do some real mountain climbing and that isn’t for me!!! On the way back down we stopped at a water fall that was just spectacular. It wasn’t the largest we have seen but it sure was pretty. We took the advice of the park guide and did a short hike to view the falls framed by an arched bridge. One of those little things that is off the beaten path but well worth it.

Sunday April 11, 2010. Drove up to Sequim, WA to see a couple of campgrounds there. The drive up there is really nice. Traveling along the coast is hard to beat for the beauty but it will wear on you after a while making all those turns. Sequim is kind of a small hidden treasure. It is large enough to have some decent services but small enough to still have a small town feel. There is a herd of elk that live in the town and are quite often seen on the roadway. I do believe they have the right-of-way. The park we went to see, Gilgal, was a beautiful place. The sites are reasonable size and the grounds are well taken care of. They say Sequim is in a banana belt which means it stays relatively temperate year round. This would be a lovely place to stay!

We drove the motorhome over to Camping World for one more night of drycamping (it may not be glorious but it sure is cheap camping). Got the refrigerator fixed and on the road by 11:00 am. Drove to a town north of Seattle called Lynwood and parked at Twin Cedars RV Park. It’s tricky to get into and the sites are small, but it will probably be OK for a base to see Seattle.

Getting very excited about going to Canada and Alaska!

Wednesday April 7, 2010

Wednesday: Today it was a bit overcast but not raining, so we headed to the beach. 
It’s rocky and windy, but it’s still a beach! It was low tide when we parked the car and walked down the rocks to the shore below. We wandered along the coast looking for sea dollars and unusual shells, and occasionally running for higher ground when a big wave came in (once I didn’t run fast enough). There was a big outcrop of rocky cliff cutting across the beach, and to our surprise there was a concrete doorway at the bottom of the cliff. We walked through it and through a passage cut through the cliff to another beach on the other side.
So we cruised around that beach, too. 
Eventually it started to rain, so we headed back to the car.  The rain didn’t stay, though; the sun only came out once but at least the rain stopped! We lunched on a beef stick and Diet Coke from the Tillamook Smoker Outlet as we drove to Garibaldi, a small fishing town a few miles north. There we learned that the local crab boats haven’t been able to get out to sea for a couple of weeks because of the weather, and another storm is expected tomorrow. 
But we did find a store on the dock with some cooked crabs so we got a couple of those. We also bought an oyster knife at the local Fred Myers store and some fresh oysters at Pearl’s Point Oyster Company, back in Tillamook. At the end of the day I had wet socks, rained-on hair, and teriyaki-beef-stick breath – but I was so relaxed. We decided to stay one more day.

Back home Randy started opening the oysters, but the knife slipped and cut his knuckle open really bad. It really needed a couple of stitches but he didn’t want to go to the hospital, so we taped it up at home. So for once, I fixed dinner – oysters and crab - a great dinner but not worth the pain he’s in right now. We are definitely staying another night because he can’t drive like this.

And it’s raining again.

April 6, 2010

Tuesday: The weather was significantly better today. Not tons of sunshine, but the sun did shine occasionally and the rain was limited to a few sprinkles – so it was great! Randy has been driving a lot of miles on difficult roads in bad weather, so it’s time to relax a bit. We headed out to see what the town of Tillamook has to offer.

First stop – the Tillamook Cheese Factory. This is a pretty facility with a large visitor section. They don’t allow visitors in the whole factory, but there is a viewing area over the packing line. In the store they offer samples of several of their cheeses, and Randy bought a few for us. We also had lunch there - grilled cheese and fries, chased by an ice cream for me and a shake for Randy. They make good dairy products and we would buy their label again.

We also visited the Blue Heron Cheese Factory, but it is less factory and more gift shop. They did have some nice samples of Brie cheese.

A bit south on 101 is the turnoff to Munson Creek Falls. It’s supposed to be the tallest falls in Northern Oregon, about 266 feet tall. It was a couple mile drive down a side road followed by a bit of a walk, but it was, indeed, a beautiful falls, slipping off the edge of a cliff far above our heads.

The Air Museum was our last stop of the day. It’s a huge, huge hanger that originally was used to house up to 8 blimps for the US Navy. In 1942 the Navy started constructing a total of 17 wooden hangars, due to the scarcity of metal during the war, all US coastlines to house the K-class blimps that were used to protect ships against submarines. Two of these hangars were built in Tillamook. Hangar “B” was the first to be built it was 1,072’ in length, 192’ high and had a width of 236’. That gave it over 7 acres of covered floor space. The doors, at each end are 120’ high, 6 sections with each section weighing 30 tons for a total of 180 tons with an opening of 220’. The second hangar “A” was built in a total of 27 days, unfortunately it was destroyed by fire in 1992. Hangar “B” is now home to several old but restored planes, from WW2, the Vietnam war, etc. The collection is extensive and well worth seeing. They say they have the only flying J2F-6 Duck in the world. The remaining empty space is rented out as RV and Boat storage to help offset the costs.

At the end of the day we dined on leftovers – but those leftovers were home-made lasagna and carrot cake – the perfect end to a relaxing day.

April 5, 2010

We spent a quiet Easter in Coos Bay. Randy baked a chicken and made a scrumptious carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, while I researched where and how to go from here. In the afternoon we took another drive out to the bay. The wind and rain was still going strong, but we could hear the sea lions out on the rocks in the middle of the bay. They were too far out for my camera but binoculars helped; Randy was able to confirm that there were elephant seals out there. I saw them too, and heard them. Their call is different from the others – it’s a very deep sound. It’s a shame the rain doesn’t let up – this looks like a cute town that would be fun to explore. It’s obviously a working fishing town; we passed several stacks of empty oyster shells that were over 5 feet tall.

Monday we keft Coos Bay to continue north again. Originally we planned to stay in Coos Bay a couple more days, but the cold rain continued and it hardly seemed worth it. When Randy came in from unhooking the RV, there were small hailstones caught in his hair. No sense in sticking around in that! He stayed on Highway 101 north to Tillamook. Highway 101 is an older road that runs right on the coastline most of the way. This is the first road we’ve been on with “Tsunami zone warning” signs. The coastal view is beautiful but the road curves like a snake. When you add steep grades and driving rain to the mix, the view is less enticing.

We decided to stay at Big Spruce RV Park in Tillamook for a couple of nights. It only costs $12.12 a night, which is their off-season plus a discount for Travel America. We don’t belong to Travel America, but they gave us the discount anyway. They have full hook-up with 50 amps and cable TV, but the gravel sites are drowning in the rain and there are a lot of older rigs that have obviously been here a very long time. Hopefully it will be OK as a base for some sight-seeing.

For a start, we took the Jeep up the coast for a quick look at the local bays. One of them had a couple of waterfalls that fell from a cliff straight down into the bay, but it was so windy that the water just blew back up as spray and never reached the ocean. A bit further down the road is a small lighthouse. We were able to walk around it and I was surprised how small it was, but it was located high on the cliff so it didn't need a tall structure to do its job. And the Octopus tree is nearby – it’s really unusual. It looks like several trees joined together at the base.

It's still raining...the guy at the RV Park said that the weather should get better tomorrow, but we noticed that all the trees are covered in moss; so this might be their normal weather. Hope not - some sunny weather would be welcome.

San Franscico, the Redwoods and Oregon

San Francisco: We parked the RV in Antioch, Ca at the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds. With our Escapee discount, the $20 fee was only $17. The site was a full hook up, but unfortunately the sewer was located too far away for our hose to reach. The location was just a plain lot in a chain link fence, but it was perfect for our purpose. We drove to the local BART station (Bay Area Rapid Transit), paid $1 to park all day, and rode the train into San Francisco. The cost for 2 round-trip tickets was $23.80 which was more than we hoped, but it was much better than driving into San Fran, trying to find a place to park, and paying whatever they wanted to charge. Plus the streets really do run almost straight up and down, and who wants to deal with that?

We went to China town and found the main street of it (Grant Street) was also nothing but tourist shops; it looked like a Chinese version of Tijuana. But just one street over was quite different. That street, Grant, was lined with small shops selling mostly food. They don’t cut the heads off the chickens or ducks before they sell them, they sell tea leaves in small balls, and they don’t translate their store signs into English. It was really pretty interesting to wander along with the crowds who were, apparently, doing their daily shopping. We couldn’t understand what was for sale, how much it costs or what it would be used for, because all the signs were in Chinese, but it was a lot of fun!

We walked along Fisherman’s Warf, which was almost all tourist shops. There is an area where they have a series of different types of ships that is very interesting. We didn’t have time to explore the boats but I think it would have been a lot of fun and educational. There was one that is an old ferry and it has a series of old cars and trucks on it.

But the real reason we went to San Fran was to see Alcatraz.

First lesson: There are several agencies that sell Alcatraz tours, but there is only one tour, Alcatraz Cruises. So all the others are selling that one tour plus their own add-ons, and charging for the add-ons. The actual tour is booked through Alcatraz Cruise and booking through them is the best value. (Note: Food and Drink is cheaper on the ferry than it is at the dock.) The ferry to the island was a short trip, and you can leave the island on any outgoing ferry you like, so you determine the length of your stay (the previous inmates would have loved that!). We watched a short moving that the Discovery Channel had made about the Island history and listened to Ranger John Cantwell talk about the escape attempts. He was very good and had a lot of background information. According to the Government, there was no successful escapes from Alcatraz but there are a few, 4 or 5, inmates who are not accounted for. Apparently there is an annual Alumni Reunion of guards and ex-prisoners who get together every year. It seems a bit odd, but on the other hand, the number of people who lived on Alcatraz when it was a prison, either voluntarily or not, is a small group and there is apparently some feeling of fellowship among them.

Afterwards we took an audio tour through the actual prison. We saw the old jail cells and warden office, as well as the recreation yard. Very few people died at Alcatraz, but to me it felt like it should be haunted. And the clash of those steel doors shutting stays with you…. (Be sure to hear the cell doors shut. If you must find a ranger and ask when they will be demonstrating the shutting mechanism.)

After we left the San Fran area, we spend one night at the Redwood Acres Fairgrounds in Eureka, California. Eureka is a really charming town. It is full of huge, old buildings and homes that have been carefully restored and painted in the Victorian “Painted Lady” style. This is some of the best paintwork we have seen, and it’s impressive to see street after street of these beauties.

Redwoods: We decided to stay in Klamath, which is about the halfway point in the large Redwood Forrest National Park. Several RV parks are in Klamath so we thought it would be a fair sized town. However, it’s a very, very small town – not much here besides RV parks. The one gas station didn’t have a grocery store or even a working tire pump, both of which we needed, so we had to drive 15 miles north to Crescent City. However, that wasn’t too much of an inconvenience.

We drove highway 101 into town, and after awhile I remembered what it reminded me of – the old Route 66 era. There are kitschy tourist stops all along the way, such as drive-through trees and the “Trees of Mystery”. Still, if we weren’t in a big RV with a towed Jeep that takes so much room to maneuver, it might be fun to stop at some of these spots, just for grins.

It alternated between rain, sun and fog all day, but we only had one day here so we set out on the Newman Parkway drive. It is the old highway 101 and it goes right through the forest. We parked a couple of spots and walked up some hiking trails into the forest.

This forest if very different from the Sequoia area. Here the forest has very thick undergrowth and many of the trees are covered in moss, up to an inch thick. Everything was so green that when we were walking through the forest, the air almost had a green glow. This forest has a slightly dangerous feel to it – like you could get lost and never be found. The redwoods have that stately majesty that is the birthright of huge things, but the forest below them is wild and overgrown. That, of course, is one of its main beauties.

We also drove along the Costal drive a bit, against the advice of our camp host. He described it as having potholes “bigger than your Jeep” but Randy was able to drive on the road just fine. The reward was some spectacular views of the rocky shoreline and the endless ocean.

Oregon: Saturday we parked in Midway RV park in Coos Bay. It’s a very pretty park, with privacy hedges between the sites. The coastline is so amazing – it’s so different from the calm beaches in the south. Here the shore is rocky and big waves crash in endlessly.

It’s so beautiful that we stood out in the cold rain to see it – for a few minutes, anyway. The rain is staying with us, unfortunately. But this area has great coastlines and some interesting things. We may stay here a couple of extra days. We do have to be in Seattle by next weekend – we have to get tires for the Jeep at Sam’s, and there aren’t many Sam’s Clubs on the West Coast.


We were able to spend a full day with Randy’s nephew Lance, his wife Marla and their daughter Jordan. With only one day, it was decided to go to Yosemite. It was a couple of hours drive to get there, but that was fine because it gave us time to get to know each other. On the way we stopped at a place called Rainbow pool. This is a small falls where the locals like to go and jump off the rocks into the pool. Lance says the pool is about 30’ deep. While there, we saw many salamanders and apparently it is salamander mating season - or they were huddling close to stay warm. From there on to Yosemite. Lance was able to give us a guided tour of the “best of the best”. We stopped at a few different places along the way to Bridal Falls. We stopped at a church in the park where we had a picnic. It was a beautiful area and really neat to have lunch at such a place.

Next we went to mirror lake which is at the base of Half-Dome. The lake wasn’t very large or deep but it was enticing. There were many playing in the water even though it was quite cold. Probably the most famous of the Yosemite landmarks is Half-dome. It is visible from almost everywhere, and is absolutely amazing!

Yosemite Falls was the highlight of the park. The falls has multiple layers which makes it even more beautiful. To see the entire falls you must be willing to get a little wet, but it is worth it. There has been a lot of recent rainfall, so the falls was more abundant and spectacular than ever.