All posts by paula

A quick getaway to Morro Bay

Not travelling – but we did take a quick getaway to Morro Bay for a few days.

We’ve been to Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo before but it’s been several years. So, when we had the chance to get away for a few days we thought that would be a great destination.

We had a great time – the weather was perfect! We were only there 2 days but we saw the big attraction – Morro Rock – as well as taking walks through nearby Elfin Forest and the Marina and Morro Bay Estuary.

Elfin Forest is made up of scrub oaks and pygmy oaks which typically get to only 6-7 feet tall. There’s a boardwalk going through the forest to protect the natural habitat. We found one grove of larger trees but much of the area we could see over the top of the trees.

We had several great views of the estuary from Elfin Forest, and views of Morro Rock from part of it. As we were nearing the end of the walk we chatted with a very nice man and his dog who walked there a lot – he told us there was a herd (?) of feral pigs living in the forest and asked if we had seen or hear them. Luckily we had not or Laddy would have wanted to go chase them!

We also spent the afternoon on the beach right up against Morro Rock where we watched surfers and birds and waited for sunset so Jeff could get a picture of the sun setting behind Morro Rock. He was able to get it right in a cleft of the rock that matched a pictures he took last time we were here!

The next day we walked a hiking trail around the marina and bordering the other side of the estuary. It was a very pleasant walk until we saw that we were approaching a large mostly dead pine tree with large vultures on every branch! They watched us approach and only a few took off. Some of them spread their wings as we passed by which was very interesting. They are BIG birds!

We also enjoyed checking out the local restaurants for our meals. All in all Morro Bay is a great little coastal community, off the main highway through the area and still has a lot of small town vibe to it.

The Anza Borrego Desert Superbloom of 2019

We were able to visit the Anza Borrego Desert State Park in San Diego County in March 2019 while the “superbloom” was happening.

A superbloom in the desert happens when there is a wet winter. All the wildflowers in the desert bloom and it’s a spectacular display! The desert is usually shades of gray and dull green, but during a superbloom there are yellows, oranges, reds, purples everywhere! And lots of caterpillars and butterflies too! We have a couple of pictures showing the large black and yellow striped caterpillars and they have a long spike out their tail ends! Unfortunately the butterflies were too quick to get any good pictures of them.

We went on a Monday knowing that the weekend would be crazy with traffic. Even on a Monday in March the Anza Borrego area was pretty busy!

Jeff found a map provided online by the Anza Borrego Desert State Park that showed a few good areas to see the flowers. One was quite a ways down a dirt road but it was worth the trip!

Here are pictures we took of the area, the flowers and a couple showing the hillsides covered in yellow!

A drive around Long Lake

While we were staying in Nine Mile Falls which is in the eastern part of Washington, we took a drive through the area. There’s a lake nearby called “Long Lake” that is very pretty.

The lake has a dam at the western end to create the lake and provide electricity for the area. The dam was interesting to me as it isn’t shaped like the usual dam, rounded like an arch to provide the best defense against the massive weight of the water behind it. This one is shaped with a 90-degree corner facing outward instead of inward.

While we were at the dam we met a group of guys all in red shirts that were a maintenance group – during the summer they fight fires when needed and the rest of the year they provide maintenance at several state locations, the dam being one. We spoke to the foreman who told us about the fires they had fought that summer (Washington had several fires along with Oregon, Montana, Idaho and B.C.). He also said they had recently cleaned and upgraded the dam.

Here’s a picture we took of the dam:

Yet another mishap with our axles – what is going on?!?

Yet another mishap with our axles – what is going on?!?

Oh no! About a half-hour after we left the Vancouver area headed east towards the windy mountainous road that is Hwy 3 a truck pulled alongside us and pointed at our rig. We knew that meant something was wrong so we pulled to the shoulder and were horrified to see that a third wheel was smoking badly. That meant we had another bearing that was failing and would lose our wheel shortly. It had already happened twice this year!!

So we sat in the truck and looked for a repair shop in the nearby town of Langley. We are once again SO LUCKY that this happened near a large town instead of up in the mountains where we were headed!

We found a place that specializes in springs and axles and called them to say what had happened and we were on our way to them. We limped down the highway shoulder and off at the next exit and had to go about 10 more miles to get to the repair shop.

We didn’t bother calling a tow truck because the previous two times the tow truck said there’s nothing they can do except escort us limping to a repair place. So, we limped on our own this time. About half-way to the repair shop, on a suburban road, the wheel fell off and we had to stop so Jeff could go retrieve it. We held up traffic a bit but there wasn’t much so they were able to get past us.

With wheel retrieved we limped the rest of the way at about 20 mph and finally pulled into the repair shop. Gerry, the owner, said they weren’t real busy and he could get right on it and we should have it back the next day.

However, shortly after we left the trailer with him and went in search of a motel he called. He was very unhappy with the way the previous repair shop had ‘fixed’ the rear axle (this time was the front axle) as they had lengthened it with a welded ‘sleeve’. He said this was not good as the axle couldn’t flex like it should. We headed back to the shop to get a better explanation and ended up replacing both axles. He did replace both with higher rated axles, the originals were 5200 pounds each. The rear axle was raised to a 6000 pound. Now we have two 7000 pound axles!

So, we got a cheap motel for the day, hung around and got the trailer back late the next day. We stayed at an RV park in Langley and headed out the next morning. So, our trip was delayed by 2 days but it could have been so much worse!

I didn’t take pictures this time, but the two previous stories about our wheel problems, here and here, include pictures.

 

Driving the Crow’s Nest Highway in Canada (Hwy 3)

We crossed into Canada at the Roosville station, north of the Kalispell MT area. Our original plan was to enter Canada here close to the Banff, Yoho and Glacier National Parks of Canada, then travel to Vancouver and cross back into the US at Washington.

But, shortly before we crossed the border we learned that it’s not hard to bring handguns into Canada, it’s almost impossible. Citizens in Canada cannot carry guns, and the process to bring a gun into Canada takes at least 3 months, has to be approved by a provincial official and may still be denied if you don’t have a good reason. So, we decided to put our guns into a mini-storage unit in Kalispell while we were in Canada.

This meant that we had to travel back to Kalispell to get them. So, we decided that from Vancouver we would travel east on the Canadian “Crow’s Nest Highway”, Hwy 3, which runs very close to the border and is very scenic.

Our trip along Hwy 3 took 2 days, partly because we don’t travel for over about 5 hours in a day and partly because it was a windy mountain road so for long parts of it we were going much slower than 100 kmp (60 mph).

It was a beautiful drive. Very scenic, first we went through forested areas, up and down the mountains. Then we entered a beautiful valley that was like a fruitbasket. Tons of apples, peaches, plums, pumpkins, fruit stands, fields of corn and wheat. Our first night was in Osoyoos which is near the Columbia River that runs through this valley. It was a beautiful RV park, lots of trees, right on the river! I wished we could stay a week!

The next morning we drove to Crestin where we planned to cross the border the third morning. We got up into some summits that were about 7,000 ft and noticed they had recently had snow. There was some along the road and all through the mountaintops nearby. Beautiful, but cold! I think it got to the low 50s along that drive, mostly was in the 40s. In September, brrr!

The third morning we crossed into the US and headed back to Kalispell. The night before we crossed I had a nightmare that when we crossed the border they wouldn’t let us in unless we swore loyalty to Trump. Argggghhhhh! NNNNNNNNNNooooooooooooo!

Luckily it was just a nightmare and we crossed without incident!

I tried to take a few pictures with my phone but in a moving vehicle they didn’t turn out. Here’s a picture of the snow:

Our visit to Vancouver

We’re staying in Surrey while visiting Vancouver, and we drove around Surrey to run errands and drove through Vancouver to see the city.

As we drove through the downtown section of Vancouver I noticed first the vast number of people walking in the city. Large numbers of people at every street corner and walking on every street. I mean large, much more than I ever saw in San Diego, and even more than I’ve seen in downtown New York. And, in the bad part of town there were so many homeless people…dozens of them on every block! I even looked down one alley and saw probably 20 or more people sitting down or walking around. I’m sure I even saw a drug deal in just the second or two that I could see down the alleyway. I’ve seen segments on Canadian TV news shows about the fact that the city is unaffordable for many people and that it has caused a huge homeless problem. Yep, I saw that!

This is a very densely populated city! Lots and lots of highrise apartment buildings, both in the downtown area and in a couple of the suburbs. Burnaby, a close-in suburb, had over 15 buildings that were at least 20 stories high.

Another thing that struck me is the ethnic diversity. As we drove around we saw very few black and hispanic people and lots and lots of Asian people. Many, if not most, of the store signs both downtown and in Surrey were in both English and some Asian language, probably Chinese. We also saw a lot of Sihk men wearing the turbans, both walking and driving around. In one neighborhood of Surrey we saw so many that I looked up ethic demographics of Vancouver. Less than 1% black. Less than 1% hispanic. About 25% Asian and about 11% ‘South Asian’ which includes the Sikh people. Only 52% are Caucasian. The article I read even mentioned the exact neighborhood we were driving through, saying in that particular neighborhood there was the largest concentration of Sikh people, at about 76%!

Vancouver is a very pretty city, with the mountains to the north and east and several harbors and inlets. It’s actually kind of isolated on the coast because just a bit further north along the coast are a mountain range that isolates all other coast communities except by boat. The Trans-Canada Highway is the only way to get east, and the Al-Can (Alaska-Canada) Highway follows the Trans-Canada Highway for several miles east before it turns north.

The weather is about what we expected for September, not too warm during the day but not too cold yet at night.

We are enjoying our stay here in the Vancouver area!