West Coast National Parks

Friday, August 30, 2019

Alarm went off at 5am, and I rolled out of bed and headed south to pickup Molly. This is a new strategy to avoid the insane Bay Area traffic. It was the start of a long weekend, and the traffic was likely to be terrible. And it worked out well, not having the usual traffic jams. Although it still took a few hours to escape the city. We will be doing this again I think.

We made good time to Woodside campground arriving around 4pm. After pulling into our camping spot for the night, we immediately headed off on a trail towards the ocean and Salt Point State Park. We were treated to an amazing display of whales feeding and breaching just off the coast. Now, we have seen some whales in the past, but this group of whales put on quite the display for about an hour. After talking to the ranger, we found out that they were Humpbacks feeding on an algae bloom. The whales were a nice addition to what was planned to be just a move day.

Dinner was the now classic meatballs, but with diced tomatoes and courgettes.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Up early for the drive to Redwoods National and State Parks. The drive was not far, but hugged the coast most of the way, and as a consequence, was slow and with many turns. The California Highway 1 is however a beautiful road and we took our time and enjoyed it very much. It had been a while since we have been this far North on California’s coast.

Highway 1 turned into Highway 101 heading inland and into more substantial forest. At Myers Flat we turned off the highway and travelled along the “Avenue of the Giants”. Very impressive to see these huge Redwoods with their massive trunks and soaring tree tops. We stopped at the visitor Center in search of food, but only found a patch for Molly. We ended up having a nut bar for lunch while driving.

Our objective for the day was Elk County RV Resort. We were a bit anxious as we anticipated massive caravans and motor homes and squeezed into a small space. We were pleasantly surprised with our nice shady spot, under the trees, and away from much larger vehicles. We also had shore power, something we never have, so had a chance to fully recharge Molly’s batteries.

Dinner was skirt steak with vegetables both cooked over a handset wood fire on our new skillet.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Up early for a day for a day exploring Redwoods National and State Park. The night before we had planned an extensive adventure. Turned out that we planned more than we could realistically achieve.

First stop was Lady Bird Johnson interpretative trail. A short self guided hike with explanations along the way. The road to get to this hike was steep, and motor homes are not recommended. Molly did ok! We continued along Bald Hills Road to a trailhead for a hike to Tall Trees. Once we got there we realized that the 5.5 mile hike was one-way where we had assumed round-trip, and then only got to the Tall Trees Trailhead, so more hiking was required. So, we hiked only for a mile or so. Far below us the Ocean was covered in sea mist, so it was good to be high on the mountain. For lunch we took the steep and bumpy Davidson Road to Gold Bluffs Beach. Caroline prepared a hot meal. After lunch we strolled briefly along the beach.

Then onto Elk Prairie Visitor Center to stamp our book and collect a patch. The visitor center is also the start of the Drury B Scenic Parkway. We enjoyed the drive and stopped in the middle for a short hike along the river. We essentially had the trail all to ourselves, which was markable given this was a middle day of a long weekend. We finished the drive along the giant Redwoods and then turned South again to head back to the campground, with half the things on our list not completed. We stopped at the Redwoods National Park Information Center just before it closed for the day, and got one last stamp and one last patch. It was a pretty full day, and I am sure we will be back to experience more of this great park.

Dinner was the rest of the skirt steak completed with grilled vegetables. Again cooked on an open flame. Early to bed as the next day was a moving day.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Up early for the longish drive to Crater Lake National Park. The distance is not too long, but involves windy roads. Firstly along the Northern California coast to Crescent City. We took the Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway again to enjoy the Redwoods one more time, We picked up coffee and headed North West to Grants Pass along route 199. This was a nice road following alongside the Smith River in parts.

At Grants Pass we fueled up on cheap diesel and made a slight detour to Medford to pick up a cable for the Mac to transfer photos. We left our one at home. We installed the new Cradlepoint OBD cable, which connects the engine diagnostics from the FUSO to the Cradlepoint, which in turn relays this information to our on-board computer for record keeping and display. The idea is that the GPS data will be combined with vehicle data to provide a view of how well Molly is doing.

We then turned North and headed to the campground at Crater Lake, where we arrived in good time, allowing us to enjoy cheese, crackers and cut meats as a pre dinner snack. Also viewed the GPS logs to see if the vehicle data were present. Required a little manual decoding of the raw data, but confirmed the data were there. Now just have to alter the software to be able to access through the web interface. A project for later, now that we know it actually works.

Caroline cooked up a storm for dinner: rabbit with mustard and white wine sauce and fresh herbs with grilled vegetables. It was very nice and showed that the new dutch oven does the trick.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

We “sort-of” got up early, as we had a day to explore Crater Lake. First stop was the visitor center for a National Park stamp, some patches, and we watched a short video presented by the National Parks Service on the formation of the lake. Then up to the rim to complete a circumnavigation of the Lake.

It was great to see the deep blue waters of Crater Lake again. We took our time and stopped at many viewpoints before completing the tour. Lunch was had in an empty car park overlooking the lake. All very nice.

Once back at the campground, Caroline decided to give Molly a clean before visiting Earthcruiser the next day in Bend. We grilled again over an open fire, and this time it was cod, and very nicely prepared by Caroline (who do you think is writing this?).

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Up very early, as we wanted to get to Bend as early as possible. And Molly is not known for speed. We also had a wheel or two out of balance, which made any speed between 45 and 55 miles per hour rather shaky.

We pulled into the Earthcruiser USA‘s carpark around 9:30am and met Justin, the Customer Care representative, who would be looking after us to make sure everything was taking care off. The plan was to sort out a few small warranty items, but, the main reason was to get a new storage box mounted on the rear of Molly. Turned out everything would take two days, something we did not expect, but had kinda anticipated in the planning, so we had time.

We headed into Bend proper, a place we are starting to know quite well. This was our third visit here. We enjoyed brunch at The Drake, caught up on Internet at Cafe Sintra and then walked along the Deschutes River to the Old Mill District. It was hot and we were glad to arrive at the air conditioned REI store. Surprisingly we did not buy anything đŸ˜‰ Stephen spent time with SPOT Customer Care trying to get our Trace tracking device working again, as it had been recently deactivated by mistake.

Four o’clock rolled around and it was time to check on Molly’s progress back at Earthcruiser headquarters. The work was not finished, and we had to overnight in Bend. We could have stayed in Molly for the night, but we would have to have her back in the shop by 7am, and that did not sound like a lot of fun. So instead, we booked a room at the McMenamins Hotel, suggested by Brent. And what a great suggestion that was! We found the secret broom closet bar, along with 4 other secret rooms. We found all four pubs that they have on the property. In fact we wined and dined ourselves. Caroline even had a cigar around a roaring fireplace. We got to bed a little later than usual.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

After an excellent nights’ sleep we had a very leisurely rising and breakfast. Then headed into town in search of coffee and internet. Around noon Molly was ready for pick-up, so we headed back to Earthcruiser. All was in order and the new storage box looked mighty fine. We had to depart in a hurry and a little unceremoniously because of lighting firing off around us and sudden bursts of heavy downpours of rain.

Next stop was Les Schwab Tire Center on the northern edge of Bend. High time we fixed the wheel balance issue. The re-balance was done under warranty, not sure how that worked, but it was free, so not complaining. Molly was then turned south, and we headed off along the long and very straight 97 highway towards California. We wanted to get as far as reasonably possible to make the next day shorter.

We found the very nice Williamson River campground, which was exactly the same campground we used when we first picked up Molly 18 months ago. On arrival we checked out the new storage box more fully, before settling down with cheese, crackers, wine/beer and of course a fire. We wanted to burn the last of our wood, as tomorrow we would be entering California, and they are not so keen on people bringing fire wood across the border. I guess they think their firewood is superior to the Oregonians’?

Friday, September 6, 2019

Not an early start, but according to Google maps we only had a 4 hour and 30 minute drive to Lassen National Park. However ended stopping a lot (which is not accounted for on google maps) and we did not fully read the map correctly. So, in hindsight, probably got away later than we should have.

First stop was Tule Lake. We had planned to visit Tule Lake National Monument, but it was closed with tours only by appointment. Instead we did a little bird watching from a hide on the lake. Saw pelicans which was nice.

The big surprise for the day however was Lava Beds National Monument. We thought we would just drive through, taking in the occasional viewpoint. What we actually did was explore some of the lava caves, which were wonderful. At the visitors center we got all the information we needed and headed off with great excitement.

Skull Cave was the first cave and the least challenging. Wide open ceilings and numerous staircases meant no duck walking or crawling. At the lower portion of the cave is an ice floor, which is quite remarkable given the desert above. Next up for Stephen was Golden Dome Cave, a little more challenging with crawling on hands and knees. It is also a very disorienting cave, and it feels like you are going in circles, which, come to think of it, you are. The cave is named after the golden ceilings that are formed by water droplets and a hydrophobic bacteria giving the golden color. Next up, and again just for Stephen, was Sunshine Cave, which was nice and short. Lastly, we both went to Valentine’s Cave, which was quite the treat. We were the only vehicle in the carpark and the only people in the cave. It was a nice open cave with just a little bit of duck walking and crawling. It was a great cave to finish off in. Many of the caves were closed due to nesting bats.

Time was ticking and we wanted to get to our campground before dark. So, we continued south through the high desert. We saw some fires in the distance, which we were told were caused by the lightning the day before. The last 6 miles to the campground were on a very bumpy and corrugated dirt road, but we did make it before sunset. Snacks were taken inside due to lots of bees showing too much interest in our food.

A late dinner was possible outside as the sun had set and the bees had gone to sleep land. The finest meal yet on the new cast iron grill: salmon seared over a hot grill with grilled vegetables. All enjoyed by fire and candlelight.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Slept in. The campground was remarkably quiet. Especially considering we were right in the middle of the group sites. After breakfast we headed out on a hike to Cinder Cone, fantastic lava beds and the painted dunes.

We just relaxed in the late afternoon, before having a most enjoyable evening around the fire. A fire set by Caroline.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Up early for the drive back to San Francisco. But first we planned to enjoy the rest of Lassen National Park. We entered the Park from the North, making a stop at the visitor center. It was a nice drive through the Park, and it was no too long before we were leaving via the South entrance and another stop to the second visitor center. Will have to come back ad climb Mt Lassen for a second time.