May 31, 2012

My Mom, The Runner!

My mom recently discovered an interest for running. In March, she signed up for a Women Run Arkansas, a free training program with training groups in cities around the state. In this program she trained up from never having ran before to running up to 3 miles. And in May, on Mother’s Day weekend, she ran her very first 5k!

May 30, 2012

My Parents Flew Out to Visit!

My parents flew into Reno on Sunday morning, and we drove to pick them up. Our first stop on the vacation itinerary was a stop at the local Thai restaurant in South Lake Tahoe. Although Sky always whines that I only want to eat Thai food, and poor him, he has to enjoy it with me, my mom is just as big fan of Thai food as me, so we had two solid votes for the cuisine! Dad decided to show off by ordering a dish with a spiciness level of 4.5 out of 5, 5 being Thai Spicy Hot, and cried through most of his meal. :o)

May 26, 2012

Lake Tahoe Under Snow

We were greeted with snow at Lake Tahoe. Who knew it could snow, and be so cold, in late May in California? Well, not us. The snow storm was due to start on Friday, so we decided to drive most of the way on Thursday, stopping for an overnight boondocking spot in the El Dorado National Forest, just outside of the town of Kyburz. It took a few tries to situate ourselves of the road properly, but it was well worth the quietness and the beauty that we woke up to the next morning.

May 25, 2012

A Drive Through The Salad Bowl of the World

We left Morro Bay after a full day of biking and sunning on the beach. On our way out we passed large avocado tree groves, and stopped at a road side stand to pick up some freshly picked Haas avocados.

Avocado stand

May 23, 2012

Montana de Oro State Park Mountain Biking

Tuesday morning Maria and I rode from Los Osos to Montana De Oro State Park. Riding in to the park from Los Osos is perfectly doable, but be aware that there are a couple of stout hill climbs on the road to get you into the park.

Biking to the park

May 22, 2012

Morro Bay, CA

We've spent the last two days thoroughly sightseeing the Morro Bay. To get there, we had to drive 10 miles west off of highway 101 from San Luis Obispo. We parked at the Trinity United Methodist Church in the city of Los Osos, just south of Morro Bay. If you imagine the bay as being a cresent moon, pointing to the left, Los Osos would be on the bottom and the city of Morro Bay would be on the top.

Views off of hwy 101

Pismo Beach, CA

From Santa Ynez Valley, we got back on highway 101 and headed further north. I was surprised to see how many vineyards we passed on the stretch from the valley to Pismo Beach, our next stop. I had read about the portion further north of Pismo as having a large congregation of vineyards, especially near Paso Robles, but this region we drove through was packed with vines. It appeared as though every viable acre had been planted on; we drove through seas of green.

May 21, 2012

Santa Ynez Valley, CA

After spending the afternoon in Santa Barbara, we relaxed for a bit in the trailer, and then continued our drive to the Santa Ynez Valley. To get there, we chose to get off of highway 101 for a bit, and take highway 154. Highway 154 leads a steep and quick ascent into the mountains, climbing from sea level to around 4000 feet. We made the drive right around sunset, so we were only able to catch the last light on the beautiful valley views from the top of La Cumbre Peak.

May 20, 2012

Santa Barbara, CA

We woke up with a plan to drive straight to Santa Ynez Valley, without stopping in Santa Barbara, as we had been there before on our drive down highway 1. But, as we were driving by, it was just about lunch time, and we decided at the last moment to pull in and spend the afternoon. Santa Barbara is not horribly RV friendly, it is mostly tight streets, hilly and almost all the blocks around downtown have big signs that say “No RV parking anytime”. Boo! We finally found a spot five blocks off of State St. (the main street in Santa Barbara), and parked there.

May 19, 2012

Ventura, CA

Departing Malibu, we were sad to leave LA, but excited about exploring new areas of California. We had traveled highway 1 between San Francisco and Los Angeles on a previous trip, and decided to drive up 101 this time. Route 1 can be described with two words, epic and perilous (at least to those pulling a travel trailer…). The two lane road basically hugs sea side cliffs, with amazing views of the ocean and beaches. This two lane road also has lots of sharp turns, is pretty hilly and is best enjoyed in a little car, preferably a convertible. Highway 101 is a highway that runs parallel to highway 1, but several miles inland. In some places the two roads are apart as much as 50 miles and in some as little as zero (they meld together in spots).

May 18, 2012

Los Angeles, CA

After boondocking for 9 days straight (our new record!), we found a full hook-up RV park in Malibu, right on the beach. Their in-season pricing didn't start until next week, so the spot was only $40 a night (since when is $40 an only? Las Vegas really set the bar…) It’s a bit of a drive from LA, but the location and views couldn't be beat. Also, there wasn’t much to choose from in the LA area…there might be a business idea in there somewhere.

May 13, 2012

Orange County Beaches

The last few days we’ve been lucky enough to be parked about 3 miles from the beach in Orange County, and at no cost! We contacted the Jewish Community Center of Orange County, and they were very nice to let us park in their shady parking lot for Friday and Saturday. Sunday night we’ll be moving to the Mariner’s church across the street. We are located right in the middle of Orange County, with Newport and Huntington Beach just north of us, and Laguna and San Clemente Beach just south, on Pacific Coast Highway 1. We have spent the last few days thoroughly exploring the beaches and soaking in the golden sunshine here on the coast.

May 12, 2012

CALIFORNIA and the San Bernardino National Forest

We spent a miserable night camped outside of the Hacienda Casino. The daily high temperature had been over 100 degrees, and at night, the coolest temperature we saw was somewhere in the mid-80s, and that was at 4 in the morning. Because we were boondocking, we had no outside electricity source, and couldn’t run the AC (oh the joys of boondocking sometimes!) We also decided to wake up early so that we would make the drive through the Mojave Desert as early as possible. Waking up at 5am wasn’t hard, mostly because I never went to sleep to begin with. Thankfully, around 4am, some strong winds picked up and it cooled the trailer down somewhat (yes, to that wonderfully cool 80 degrees, things are relative).

May 10, 2012

The Hoover Dam

Skyler, being a bit of a history buff, couldn't pass up a visit to the Hoover Dam. The dam is located right between Arizona and Nevada, on the Colorado River, and creates the little piece of heaven we’d been enjoying for the last few days, Lake Mead. The dam generates power for Nevada, Arizona and California.

May 09, 2012

A Free Piece of Heaven on Lake Mead

After Las Vegas, we couldn't decide whether to go straight to Los Angeles (CALIFORNIA!!!) or to visit the Hoover Dam. We flipped a coin and decided on Hoover Dam. On a whim, we also decided to visit Lake Mead, since its a National Recreational Area, and we've got the America the Beautiful Pass.

Speaking of which! The America the Beautiful Pass has now paid for itself. The initial cost of $80 was finally recovered with our visit to Zion National Park! From now, its all awesomely free access to the some of the prettiest places in America! Thank you, National Pass!

May 08, 2012

Two Awesome Entries From Fellow Bloggers

I stay current on my fellow traveler's blogs, and recently, two of them wrote some great entries. Here is a link to Yair's entry from Our Take on Freedom. And a link to Kim's eye opening entry as well, from her So Many Places blog .


Happy Reading,


Email me

May 07, 2012

A Lesson Learned in Las Vegas

Another painful lesson I learned in Las Vegas (aside from always having a plan for where we're going to stay for the night BEFORE we get somewhere) was to always wear comfortable shoes. We ended up walking over 6 miles up and down the Las Vegas Blvd, and I, not wanting to wear my tennis shoes to one of the most fashionable destinations in the world, decided to wear the most comfortable pair of sandals that I had with me. Well, I earned two HUGE blisters on the bottoms of my feet, and my knight in shining armor had to carry me piggy-back the mile to our RV park! I'll do better next time...

Viva Las Vegas!

We made the mistake of not planning ahead for Las Vegas. We ended up driving into Las Vegas after dark, with no place to stay for the night. It was Saturday, and all the church offices I called were closed for the week. We decided to drive by several churches with hopes of just parking for the night and then asking for permission in the morning, but the churches we drove by all had gates at their entrances, gates that were locked. We called all the Wal-Marts, and no go there; the Wal-Marts in Las Vegas do not allow overnight parking. So there we were, 9pm at night with nowhere to go. We gave up and called an RV park, and coughed up $60 to park at the KOA RV campground at the Circus Circus Casino. Ugg!

May 06, 2012

The Arizona Corridor

There is a stretch of highway 15 that goes from Utah to Nevada, with about 20 miles of Arizona in between. This portion that goes through Arizona is really spectacular. Imagine, you’re driving through rolling, hot desert, and after you cross the border into Arizona, all of a sudden you drive into a canyon. A really deep canyon. There are signs saying “Steep downhill grades ahead”, “Watch for strong crosswinds”, “Watch for falling rock”, and “Mountainous curves next 10 miles”, on top of a “Rough road ahead” sign. But even all these aspects don’t put a damper on this jaw dropping drive. I can’t quite put it all down on paper properly, but basically I’d say the scenery was as good as driving through Big Bend and the canyon of Grand Canyon combined. Yah. :o)

St. George Ironman

No we didn’t compete… nor would we want to… right now anyway ;-)

On our way toward Las Vegas, we saw signs for the St. George Ironman that was going on May 5th.  Of course we had to stop in and marvel at these amazing athletes.  If you aren’t exactly sure of the iron distance, it consists of a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 110 mile bike, then finished off with a 26.2 (marathon!) run.  Pro athletes can finish this in around 8 hours, while “normal” folks finished more in the 10 – 15 hour timeframe.  Many of these athletes train for 20 – 40 hours (a part time to full time job) a week for months leading up to iron distance events, in addition to the $700 price tag to participate in this event, so it takes a real commitment to do one of these race.

The JEM Trail Loop Mountain Biking Outside Zion NP

After visiting the Zion National Park I decided to give Utah's low desert mountain biking a go. I asked around at the local biking shops and heard a unanimous recommendation to bike on the JEM trail, just minutes outside of Springdale, Utah. I did some research, loaded the map onto my IPhone and then set off to explore. Here is my experience:

The Trail Map

Zion National Park

Of the major national parks we have been to so far (Yosemite and Grand Canyon), Zion struck us as having the most scenic beauty. Zion National Park offers gorgeous views no matter which direction you are looking at, and has a serene and quiet quality about it that just puts your mind to rest. The red cliffs, green canyons and blue skies make for a beautiful combination.

The Zion Valley

May 05, 2012

Another Great CouchSurfing Experience

There are two Couchsurfing hosts in Springdale, UT, the little town right outside of Zion National Park. We had contacted both before we left Grand Canyon, and heard back from one. She apologized that she could not host us because she lives in a condo right off Main St and had no room for us to park our travel trailer. She did give us her cell phone number though, so we could call her to brainstorm on places to park. When we got to Springdale, we tried parking at a local church, but there were signs everywhere about no overnight parking, so we gave her a call. While waiting on her to call us back, we went ahead and booked a night at an RV park. We should have waited 30 more minutes, because she messaged almost immediately back saying she’d called up the other host, and that he definitely had a place for us to stay.

May 02, 2012

The Scenic Road From Grand Canyon to Zion NP

To get from one amazing park to another we decided to take the scenic route. Basically, there is hwy 89 that crosses into Utah early on, and then cuts west through the Grand Staircase National Monument. If you take that highway to Zion National Park, you need to ensure that you meet the Mount Carmel Tunnel vehicle width requirements; otherwise you need to pay for a $15 escort to help you through. Since Lucy is a wide girl, and we didn't feel like coughing up $15 for a 1 mile tunnel ride, we decided to take the steeper and more scenic way, highway 89A. This route stays in Arizona for most of the drive, cuts through Kaibab National Forest, goes by the West Rim entrance to Grand Canyon, and then crosses into Utah just before you reach the Zion NP vicinity.

May 01, 2012

A visit to the Grand Canyon National Park

We said our goodbyes to Humphrey’s peak and headed to the South Rim at the Grand Canyon National Park. On our way in we stopped in the only town between Flagstaff and the park, Tusayan. Tusayan is not even really a town, just a collection of hotels and fast food restaurants just 5 miles outside the park entrance that catch all the tourists that are looking for the comforts of home. We stopped at a McDonalds for a quick treat, and saw 20 brand new Harley's parked outside, all the exact same body style. When we went inside, we saw the bikers, and they were all wearing matching jackets. I asked one of them where they were from. Turns out they are Harley enthusiasts from Marseilles, France that flew into Los Angeles, rented the Harleys, and are now on a 12 day driving trip around the SouthWest. They were going to the Grand Canyon, then onto Moab, Grand Staircase National Monument, Bryce National Park, and ending their trip in Las Vegas. Too cool!