Dec 15th – Dec 17th 2017
Next stop was Clovis Calif (near Fresno) where we spent a wonderful long weekend with our friends Mike and Ann! They had big plans for us and it was nothing but fun! Friday night we had a huge Japanese/ Sushi dinner and hit the hay early so we could get ready for a field trip on Saturday.
Saturday after a mighty fine Parisien breakfast (who knew I loved crepes?) we headed to Yosemite. None of us had been there in decades! It was cool and crisp but sunny and there weren’t too many other visitors this time of year. It was absolutely beautiful! We drove through the areas of the park that were still open this time of the year, walked around and took photos until dusk.
The day didn’t end there! We stayed at the Sierra Sky Ranch Hotel in Oakhurst outside of Yosemite. It had a cowboy feel and was warm and comfy. We finished the night off with dinner at the Sweet Water Steak House. It was a perfect day in every way!
Sunday we grabbed a coffee and a bite at the continental breakfast and took a drive out to Bass Lake but alas – no water. We read that this was a result of a 3 years drought. We saw some beautiful homes though!
On the way back to Clovis we stopped at Chuckchanski Casino (you know how I love that)! Lots of slots we’d never seen before. We stayed for an hour and headed back to Clovis for a quick lunch and to rest up for a Tappanyaki (think Benihanas) which was HUGE and delicious!
Monday we shored up a few things, had a Waffle House breakfast and said so long to Mike and Ann and their family of loveable Boxers. It was an outstanding weekend!
We’re headed south to Lancaster to stow Lucky while we are staying with the kids in LA and Pasadena. We are all spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together at Harry (JP’s brother) and Suzanne’s home in San Diego.
luckyontheloose.blog will be on pause while we have our family time. We will be back on the road just after Christmas heading to Palm Springs. Until then . . .
Merry Christmas and hopes for a Kickin’ New Year!
Side note: It was an incredibly awesome visit with Ann and Mike. Though I dare say we did some major eating. I’m planning on wrapping any guilt about that into the “Holiday 10” that I’ll be loosing after the New Years! We hit the road south fat and happy!
Dec 13th -14th 2017
We decided to put ocean fishing in San Luis Obispo and a visit to Hearst Castle on the “To Do Next Time” list and headed east. Hopefully the next time we are down this way California won’t be suffering from a fire of this magnitude.
JP found San Luis Reservoir, where he could cast a line and we just kick for a few days. He caught a Striped Bass. He seemed quite content just being able to spend some time at the shoreline. California seems to make an effort to make access available for fisherman – always a good thing!
Its really pretty here even with the haze of smoke on the horizon. The water is smooth and just covered with ducks during the early part of the day. There are hundreds of them! When they take off it’s a wave of wings that sounds like a giant deck of cards being shuffled. JP has seen a few other fisherman, but overall its quite and serene and feels like we are the only ones around for miles. Even the Camp Host has left for the season.
Near the park gates were a pack of 30 or so well fed squirrels. We heard the coyotes calling at night and saw a big one making its way through the field. There were plenty of deer and some hawks. All kinds of wildlife here.
Outside of the park there are acres and acres of solar panels. We finished our stay with a campfire to warm us up (its pretty damn chilly here at night)! Tomorrow we are up and at ’em and headed east to Clovis Calif. near Fresno.
Dec 11th – Dec 12th
We took a break in Salinas at the Elks Lodge for 2 nights. We had some chores to catch up on and wanted to start the itinerary for the next leg of our trip. We can see the smoke from the big Calif. fire on the horizon. We hear that folks in San Luis Obispo are driving with their headlights on during the day because the smoke is so bad. So it seems it is time to change our plans to go south on the coast and head east instead.
Even though we didn’t do any sight seeing we were lucky enough to find a HUGE shopping center with a Macy’s. It just so happens that they were having the annual “Friends and Family Sale” and being a longtime friend of Macy’s I was a happy camper!
Deb 8th – Dec 10th
We headed down Hwy 101 in traffic even though we planned to miss the AM rush. No such luck! We are used to the traffic in LA when we see the kids but having it everywhere was new to us! We stayed in traffic down 101, over the Golden Gate, though San Francisco, all the way to Scott’s Valley. JP handled it like a pro but I was a bit tense now and again. We made it safe and sound and settled into the Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Park which was lovely.
Saturday we headed to Santa Cruz. The weather was sunny and warm! Downtown was filled with Christmas shoppers and the surfers were out in force. We strolled the boardwalk in the late afternoon. The Santa Cruz boardwalk was the beginning of the story of us. I was 17 and JP was 19 when we first started coming here. Man how time flies! The boardwalk has been updated but it still has its original charm.
Sunday we drove north along the coast. We saw some beautiful coastline and found some great little roadside shops. The pix below is Davenport Beach.
We stopped at the American Abalone Farm for a snack (well, more like a taste). JP had 6 oysters and I had a tiny little abalone snack tucked nicely in an abalone shell (the paper plate its on is dessert size). It took all of two minutes to eat that 20.00 tidbit of a snack but it was good! They cook the abalone out of a food truck and crack your oysters at the cash register.
So far we haven’t seen any sign of the Calif. fires but we’ve heard the smoke is traveling north and there isn’t much containment. We may have to make a few adjustments to our route!
Dec 5th – 7th 2017
We accidently took a beautiful drive down Hwy 128 to get to Bodega Bay. We were to follow Hwy 1 down the coast but got a bit side tracked. No harm done. It was a gorgeous day though in the woods it got down to the 30’s. Bodega Bay is pretty much all about the bay. Its crabbing season so there were lots of folks crabbing for Dungeness and red rock crabs. We heard it had been good but we didn’t see any big hauls. The charter boat did really well though with crab, rock fish and a few ling. The captain said the water was like glass.
There isn’t a lot to the town section of Bodega Bay, though there are a lot of beautiful homes! Bodega Bay is also where the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock movie THE BIRDS was filmed. The Potter School where the birds got after the kids is still there but its now a private residence.
You can fish without a license if its from a pier or manmade structure so JP wanted to give it a go. He was happy just getting some line in the water but no fish were to be found. I see a sign that says “too scary to fish” and he sees a beckoning jetty!
We spent most of our time driving and walking around the area. It was a bummer that almost every beach access had either an entry or parking fee ($7.00 – $10.00). We took a ride to Tomales and Dillon Beach. We came across some gigantic rocks and a herd of Scottish Highland Cattle. I had to look those up (new to me). They’re furry and have bangs!
It was a relaxing stop. It was all sunshine, clear skies, a little wind and a nip in the air. With only a 3 night stay we only have 2 full days to look around but we are giving it our best shot!
While we were visiting the little town of Mendocino we stopped for a late lunch at the Goodlife Cafe and Bakery. While we were waiting for our order an older gentleman came over and asked if I would like to read his book (he explained it would only take 10 minutes or so to read it) so I agreed. I recognized the book cover and being a “bookie” from way back decided that there was no need to hurry through the book because I’d soon own it – after all, it was signed and I had just met the author.
After awhile he left his wife at their table and came over to ours. JP bought me the book and the author Jay, answered some of our questions. Jay Frankston came here from Paris in 1942 and has been married to his wife Monique for 67 years. They have a daughter Claire who was 10 when the book was first published in 1977. They are survivors of the Holocaust. He is 89 years old and has been a lawyer, writer, sculpter and teacher. He told us this book has been published in 15 languages. The book is called A Christmas Story and is the true story of how a letter to Santa, in the thousands that were being held at the post office became an opportunity for him to make a difference.
Jay became a Jewish Santa for 18 kids (that number grew to something like 120 kids). In time toy stores and companies made enough donations that he used his entire basement for storage until Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
I found all of this so touching. I fought getting teary several times. The killer was when he told us that his young daughter figured out that her dad was playing Santa. The toys in the basement had given her pause. So she wrote her dad a poem. He then recited her poem to us. It was about how she loved both her dad and Santa and that since they were one in the same that she would be happy to wake up to only hugs and kisses on Christmas morning. He recited it lovingly – OMG my eyes were struggling not to let go a wave of tears by then.
As Jay got ready to catch up with his wife (who I’d guess over 6 decades has heard this conversation a record amount of times) he reminded me that he had signed the book “Pay it forward, Jay Frankston.”
He said that he keeps none of the money he makes from selling the books and that I should read the book and pass it on (no way – not my personal signed copy, Ill have to get another). He also said that we might not be able to fix all the troubles across the ocean but we can help each other, we can and should indeed pay it forward.
So I will do as he suggested and pass this along. Please read his book A Christmas Story if you get a chance. I’ll be looking for chances to PAY IT FORWARD and hope you will too!
More books by Jay Frankston:
And a few of his sculpures: Holocaust and Ladies of the Sea
Dec 2rd – Dec 4th 2017
We have such a short time at each destination that we’ve decided to make this trip a sampler and plan another trip this way somewhere down the line. We’re noting things we would like to come back to and in the meantime making the best of the time we have.
On Saturday spent the evening at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens just south of Fort Bragg. It’s no where near as big as the Shore Acres Christmas Light Show in Coos Bay, but it was lovely. It was sprinkling and cold but they had a nice fire going and sticks with marshmallow were provided. There was a big warming tent with tables and chairs, baked goods, hot chocolate and hot cider. The best part was the choir! The singers were spread out, some sitting at tables others standing throughout the tent (as well as on the risers) so their voices were all around you. Sort of like a flash mob without the surprise part!
Sunday was cold but clear so we hustled down to the Glass Beach. The wave patterns keep the glass from washing away so the discarded glass that was once disposed of in the water breaks down and is tumbled into smooth colored pieces (some 20-30 years)! There is a Glass Beach Museum where you can learn about all the colors of glass and where they likely came from. Some of it is pretty rare (think red glass being from car tail lights from pre 1940’s) and some just really cool (think glow in the light green). It was all new to us – and really fun!
We made our way around old town Fort Bragg and checked out the shops and spent some time at the Noyo River Harbour. JP kept busy looking over the waterfront and boats and getting the scoop on the fishing.
The little harbor had the most interesting store (it was HUGE) where I spent my time. The owner of Sacred Woods travels to Thailand for part of the year and orders her merchandise from small villages. They custom make what she requests and its shipped via crates at the beginning of June each year. It seemed a very strange location for this amazing collection but that just made it all the more intriguing. It has a massive inventory but is put together so well that it maintains a peaceful and really pleasant experience!
We caught the tail end of both the lighted downtown parade and the lighted boat parade but didn’t manage to get a good view of the GIANT MOON.
Monday we headed down Highway 1. It was sunny and blue skies but pretty chilly! We stopped at Russian Beach State Park, Mendicino and Little River.
We also roamed around the Point Cabrillo Light House and grounds. The Light House sits over the little museum and gift shop and the grounds are beautiful.
Nov 29th – Dec 1st 2017
Our first stay was at Elk Country RV Park outside of Trinidad on the northern California coast. Its name says it all! There is a herd of Elk that lives in and around the RV park. JP had to sign a waiver saying we wouldn’t approach them. The flyer (and many posted signs) advise that “The Roosevelt Elk are a WILD herd. Do not approach them as they may charge you unexpectedly”. Didn’t say a thing about photos though!
Its really odd to see them wandering around the trailers and the picnic tables. There are two huge bulls and about 30 elk in the herd. They sleep out in the area behind our trailer but during the day they meander into the park and make themselves right at home!
The town of Trinidad is pretty small (360 residents) but it has a small casino and a replica of the Trinidad Light House with a monument to those lost or buried at sea.
We traveled through McKinleyville, Arcata and Eureka. We only had 2 full days and we managed to fill them right up. We didn’t feel pressed though since we’ve made weekend trips down this way before. Arcata is my favorite though! LOTS of cool quirky stores. I loved Vintage Avengers (artful and vintage and quirky as hell!)
After our trip to Vegas with the kids we regrouped in Lebanon and headed over to the coast. We settled in at Coquille River RV. We were a stones throw from the refuge and just down the road from the boat ramp. The perfect spot for JP!
He and fishing buddies Robert and Mike managed to catch some nice fish even though it was a tough year for fisherman overall. We did have salmon and crab though and some bottom fish to boot! JP’s brother Harry came up for a visit and scored too (bottom left photo)!
While he was on the water I was on the move! My trips to California, Reno, Florence and Newport were all awesome! I was so happy to spend time with family and then some time with friends in both of our hometowns. While I was away JP had a chance to have some company at camp too. So we were both happy campers!
Our plan was to head down the California coast mid November on the next leg of our adventure, but JP had a deer vs. Silverado moment and that put our truck in the shop for repairs. So lucky both husband and Lucky were unscathed. Gwen kindly put us up in Lebanon while we were in the waiting mode. We’ll have less time at each of our destinations but that’s OK – we are on our own schedule.