Saturday, April 25, 2015

Meteor Crater and Standing on the Corner in Winslow Arizona


Well here we are at Meteor Crater RV Park for two nights as we head home over Route 40.  I'm glad we stopped here.  The park is much nicer than I had pictured it, with ample sized sites and a couple of dog runs for Mirra to get some much needed exercise.  We arrived yesterday (April 24th), and will be leaving early tomorrow morning for Albuquerque.

We explored Meteor Crater this morning, and it was well worth the $14.00 admission fee (each).  We enjoyed the movie, the museum, and viewing the crater.  It's amazing to picture the meteor hitting at 26,000 mph and making a hole in the earth this size - more than a mile across and 550 feet deep.

The guided tour was canceled because of windy conditions.  We have winds gusting up to 40 mph today, and there are some thunder storms expected to come through here this evening.  It snowed last night in Flagstaff, and will do so again tonight - but we're at a lower elevation here, so it will just be rain.

Winslow, Arizona is just 20 minutes away from Meteor Crater, so of course we had to take the ride into town so that we would be "Standing on the Corner in Winslow Arizona" - me with my Eagles sweatshirt, and Bob with his Eagles cap.




That's all for now - take it easy!

Lake Mead



We arrived at Lake Mead RV Village early in the day on Monday April 20th.  It was a short drive from Las Vegas RV Resort where we spent three fun days in Las Vegas - didn't win anything, but didn't lose too much either.

Our lakefront site was awesome - what a view!   This is a nice RV park with large concrete sites.  We're here for four days.




It was recently announced that Lake Mead has officially reached the lowest level in 78 years.  The drought has really taken its toll on this Lake.  The snowfall from the mountains of Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming hasn't been enough to keep up with the water that's being drained from this crucial reservoir.  The Colorado River, which provides water and power to 40 million people, is predicted to be only at 52 percent of its average flow this summer.  If the lake sinks another 185 feet, the water that's being pumped to the Las Vegas valley would stop flowing because the Hoover Dam would no longer release water.  A new deep-water intake is being built so that this doesn't happen.  In addition, the National Park Service is extending the lake's boat launch ramps at a cost of $2 million.

This is one of the accessible boat ramps.  You can see how far down you have to go now to get into the water.  Bob took this picture about where the water used to be when the lake was full.




The picture below is of an old water intake that's not being used anymore.  At one time the water was up this high.  It gives you a good perspective of how drastically the water levels have fallen.






Despite the fact that the water level is declining, Lake Mead is still a beautiful place for boating.  Although there are warnings about a toxic algae in the lake, people are still swimming in it.  I questioned the ranger about it, and she said that the algae was clear in this part of the lake, but that it was still present in other areas.  We went down to look at the beach, but didn't swim - way to rocky for us.



We took a trip over to Hoover Dam.   Again, you can see how low the water level is.  Pretty scary.






Just had to add these pictures of desert beauty.  These gorgeous flowers were on a cactus plant across the street.


Bob caught a picture of these quail as well.



Next stop is Meteor Crater for two days.  Time to relax before the long trek home!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

More Wine Country! Sonoma and Healdsburg


We couldn't leave California without going back to Sonoma to visit some of our favorite wineries.  We pulled into the Petaluma San Francisco North KOA on Sunday April 12th, and on Monday started our wine tour with Valley of the Moon (which has recently changed its name to Medrone).  We bought a bottle of Sangiovese and a Barbera that are going home to be enjoyed on special occasions.


Since we love Cline Zinfandel, we stopped by their winery and enjoyed a compimentary tasting.  They had some great deals on Zins, so we picked up two bottles and two bottles of Pinot Noir. Then we stopped by Kenwood where we got a Jack London 2011 cab for $15 (normally $35.00). The next stop was nearby Vianessa Wineries that was recommended by Kenwood. We ended the day with Muscardini Cellars - one of our favorite wineries that we had discovered in 2010.  After a wonderful tasting we rejoined their wine club.  They have some of the best Sangiovese I've ever had, but all of their wine is really outstanding.

On Tuesday we fearlessly headed out again - this time to the Healdsburg section where a couple of our favorite wineries are located.  We stopped by Pedroncelli Winey first.  We had loved Pedroncelli when we visited them in 2010. They didn't ship to New Jersey back then, but now they do so we signed up for their wine club (and walked out with six great bottles as well!).


Next we headed to Rodney Strong.  Originally we had planned on joining Rodney Strong's wine club.  We did a wine tasting there, and asked about the club, but they don't ship to New Jersey.  Apparently it all depends on the size of the distributor in New Jersey - small wineries can ship, but the larger ones often can't.  The whole things seems ridiculous, and I think that New Jersey should really change their laws, but that's just how it is.



Rodney Strong Vinyards

Rodney Strong Cellars
We ended the day at Matrix winery because the pourer at Muscardini had recommended them.  What a find!  Their wine was magnificent so we joined their wine club too.  We now have too many wine clubs and will have to cancel at least two of them as soon as possible.  Usually you can cancel after two shipments.  Until then, we'll just be forced to put up with receiving way too much great California wine - damn!

We took the day off on Wednesday and enjoyed the hot tub and swimming pool at the campground.  We're leaving California with some great memories and absolutely superb wine.  We love you and will miss you California!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Return to San Francisco


We arrived at San Francisco RV Resort on April 8th.  This park is pretty much a parking lot with RVs in it, but it's located on a cliff overlooking the Pacific, and has a spectacular view of the ocean.  It is conveniently located in Pacifica which is only 20 minutes away from San Francisco.

Our first expedition into the city was Golden Gate Park where we wanted to visit the Botanical Gardens.  We looked for parking on the street, and after about 15 minutes gave up and parked in the garage ( $15.00 for three hours).  The botanical gardens were outstanding, and we strolled around for three hours before heading home.








Enjoying the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park
We only ventured into the city one more time, stopping at Giardelli's for 3 huge bags of candy.  We ate dinner at Sotto Mare in Little Italy where we got the best cioppino we've ever had - full of crab meat, mussels, shrimp and scallops. Delicious!

We were going to visit Muir Woods and Point Reyes National Park.  We got to Muir Beach Overlook heading towards Point Reyes, and the drive on Route 1 was so tedious and exhausting with its sharply winding roads that we turned around.

Muir Overlook
We'll be in Petaluma (which is near Sonoma and Napa) on April 12th for 4 nights.  Although I'm looking forward to tasting some great wines, I'll miss the ocean views.



Sunday, April 12, 2015

New Brighton Beach State Park


New Brighton Beach State Park is located in the seaside town of Capitola, and is a few miles away from Santa Cruz.  We took a leisurely drive up the coast from Marina Dunes, and arrived at  the campground in an hour - around 12:00 P.M on April 3rd.   The campground is on a cliff overlooking the beach, and there is a walkway down to the beach that Mirra and I took a couple of times - too many steps for Bob.

We stayed on campsite #50, and aside from being unlevel, it was great - very spacious and private.





We took a drive to Natural Bridges State Park and walked along the waterfront in Santa Cruz.  What a lovely town with incredible ocean views!




Another day we drove along route 1 to Pigeon Point Lighthouse, one of the tallest lighthouses in America.  They have a hostel there that's part of the international hostel system.


This is the original Fresnel lens that was used in the lighthouse - it has 1008 prisms, and weights 2000 lbs.  Today the lighthouse is still active, and uses a 24 inch aero beacon.


There were some gorgeous wildflowers bordering the hostel!




We continued on Route 1 to Half Moon Bay.  The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful all along the coast.

We really enjoyed the 5 days that we were in this area.  Now on to San Francisco!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Monterey, Carmel By The Sea, and Big Sur

We are staying at Marina Dunes RV Park which is about 10 minutes away from Monterey and 15 minutes from Carmel.  Our campsite is unlevel, but outside of that we like it here at this park.  We have a fireplace and patio, but it's been a little too cool and windy to have a fire.  Daytime temperatures have been around 61 but at night it's been dropping down to about 48.


There is a path to the beach that's 1/3 of a mile.  Dogs are allowed on the beach here, so Mirra and I have been making the walk every day.




Bob and I haven't been in this area for 18 years.  It was good to revisit the 17 mile drive ...






Bob had never seen the Monterey Aquarium, so we went on Monday.  It was packed with kids on Easter Break.  Nevertheless, we got to see plenty of exhibits and enjoyed our day.



We caught the penguin feeding at 3:00, and they were lots of fun to watch.  Two of the penguins were raiding another penguin's house and moving the rocks into their own little abode.



On Tuesday we drove down Route 1 to Big Sur.  The scenery was even more dramatic than I remember it being when we drove along the coast 18 years ago.







Wednesday we went out to dinner at the Clint Eastwood's Mission Ranch, and the prime rib was excellent.


The Mission Ranch has one of the most beautiful settings that you could ever want.  Sheep are grazing in the pasture...


and you get this wonderful view of Point Lobos.


Tomorrow we head 70 miles north to New Brighton Beach State Park where we'll be able to enjoy more seascapes and ocean sunsets!

Sunset at Marina Dunes State Beach