November 22, 2015

Coyote Dry Lake

Prior to heading into Joshua Tree National Park, we elected to boondock out of the park until after the weekend. This area on north Joshua is known by rv'ers as a favorite place to camp near the National Park. You can stay out here for free for up to 14 days. Although the hills add some beauty to this place, we rate it only as a “fair” location at best to hang out. We would prefer a more desolate hide out.

This section of BLM land is considered overflow camping for Joshua Tree National Park. You are allowed to be up to one half mile off a “dirt road” named Cascade, identified only by a row of telephone poles. 

When we arrived, you could count the boondockers on one hand, tiny shiny dots on the bed of a huge dry lake. But when we awoke the next morning, there were dozens of tent campers and rv’ers spread out all around us…though still giving us almost a quarter mile of space. Come Saturday it was a day of off-road vehicles and clusters of parties until the wee hours of the morning. Entertaining yes and only a slight distraction from inconsiderate young adults doing their young adult thing. Still, there were no other rigs within shouting distance of us.

We did drive into the National Park over the weekend to view the offerings of the park, check out the campgrounds that could fit our rig and get a sense of what it will be like during Thanksgiving week. Every campground was packed, with every individual site and then some taken. Even the overflow parking for additional vehicles was full. The ranger staff informed us that Thanksgiving week was the busiest time of the year. 

And for good reason. The park is stunning, with each diverse section bringing it’s own beauty. We stopped at the Oasis Visitor Center and walked the dog friendly Oasis of Mara interpretive loop. We toured Jumbo Rocks, Belle and Indian Cove campgrounds and were impressed with each one and it’s unique offerings. 

So, our decision was made. We would return after the holiday and enjoy this beautiful park during a more quiet window.

At Waypoint 34.168600-116.224310

November 20, 2015

Rincon Parkway

"The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul."

Visualize being parked parallel with the ocean on a 47’ paved RV pad below Highway 101. Running below that highway are rail tracks that carry up to 27 trains in a 24 hour period. And finally, at beach level, Highway 1 which defines your site boundary. You are parked bumper to bumper and then asked to pay $28.00 for your site. I think most of you would ask…Michael, what enjoyment can you have with all that impact from the road noise? You are getting ripped off, so why did you even consider parking there? Poor Imkelina!

Based on the few facts I have just shared, your point is well deserved…but those noisy trails of transportation are but smokescreens and mirrors. The spot we are talking about is Rincon Parkway…yes theee Rincon which is renowned as one of the most famous surf spots in California and yes, the same Rincon referenced in the classic 1962 Beach Boy song Surfin’ Safari. This waypoint is pretty awesome and definitely unique. 

Ok…now visualize this…awaken to the smell of bacon and sipping some freshly brewed coffee as you take in the cool ocean air. Now add the spectacular 180 degree views of the Pacific and Channel Islands from your beach front window. You are parked with only a row of boulders between you and over a mile of beautiful sandy beach. In the background, you can see a pod of dolphins porpoising during a feeding frenzy and huge pelicans gliding above swells, then diving straight downward toward a fish below. I would say that to be a Million Dollar view!

And then coming into my peripheral view are my two best friends…Imke and her sidekick Sydney, lifedancing on the beach since the break of dawn. When you are on that beach, the only sound you hear is that beautiful sea always letting you know she is there. Imkelina and the “beach dog” love their beach…joy, joy, joy and more joy. Now that is Priceless!

Rincon Parkway is a linear campground that spans enough beach to provide 127 primitive, but paved RV parking spaces…only for RVs, no tents. To get your toes in the sand, you need to do some easy rock hopping about 10’ to the beach below. The most stress we had this trip was building a rock firepit. We were told fires are allowed, so we enjoyed one each evening. And if you need water or your tanks to be emptied, we saw truck tankers driving slowly by each rig offering those services.

Although each of the rigs are parked bumper to bumper, you have some privacy on your patio, as your vehicle and that of your neighbor provide “walls” front and rear. We even had more alone time as the 5 rigs behind us and the one in front of us were all vacant. The owners just parked them there ahead of time to secure a spot for their upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday. We met a few folks that paid up to 5 nights extra to make sure they got a spot. Apparently, during that holiday week it will be impossible to secure any site. In any book, that is a hefty storage fee…but well worth it to those folks. 

No doubt we will stop at Rincon again, whether it be en-route to or on a return trip from any trip South. Either way, we won’t be disappointed with the quality of beach time...or vegging time.

At Waypoint 34.328000-119.397960

November 11, 2015

Salmon Harbor Marina

If a man knows not what harbor he seeks, any wind is the right wind."
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Winchester Bay has been one of our favorite travel stops over the last 8 years. We previously blogged about our two  stays when we were "camped" at Winchester Bay RV Resort at Salmon Harbor. Our first taste of Winchester Bay was in July 2007 and our return visit was almost one year to the date late July 2008. On this eagerly awaited visit we decided to dry camp at Salmon Harbor Marina, away from those luxurious high end diesel pushers and fifth wheels and hang out with our "normal folk." Of course those fine rv resort amenities...were not to be had hoo hoo, but we had a wonderful spot and great harbor views and sunsets. So we settled in for 5 days of dry camping serenaded by an occasional rain shower and lulled into a sound sleep by the night's ocean breeze and that lonely harbor fog horn. 

We arrived at Winchester Bay, but were greeted with a big disappointment. NO dungeness crab! Imkelina had been salivating about getting her whole fresh crab here for the last week and now come to find out no fresh crab in any restaurant, seafood store or any commercial fishermen's net. We were told that the crab had not completed their molting process. So...plan B...a dozen BlaNic grilled oysters...super fresh and HUGE...for they were farmed that very morning. And I do love it when Imke can OD on oysters! She is so "dainty" when she devours a dozen or so. 

"World Famous" Umpqua Aquaculture oyster farm is located in the triangular breakwater of Winchester Bay, where the Umpqua River meets the Pacific Ocean. The oysters are grown on suspended long lines, off the ocean floor in cold ocean water and clean river water, thus oysters free of any nasty bottom sediment. You can definitely taste the difference in their meat. And, although hard to believe, they are even more delicious than Tognazzini's Dockside in Morro Bay.

Also during our time here was the beginning run on the Chinook salmon. I came close to breaking out my fishing gear to try my luck at hooking up with one of these early birds...but I only had ultra-light gear and hooking up with a small 24lb. Chinook would be quite a challenge to bring I did not want to piss off these dedicated Oregonian fisherman by snagging their lines with my with 8lb test. We did enjoy watching the "line" of diehards make hundreds of casts in hope of landing a prize catch.

We took a short hike on the Tahkenitch Dunes Trail, which we had never done. This was a fun afternoon hike through spruce forests and large dunes, as it lazily skirted along a stream with may viewpoints providing views of the Pacific Ocean. 

Although Salmon Harbor offered a great price point, views and privacy....our next visit to Winchester Bay will be another stay at Loop A at Salmon Harbor Marina or Winchester Bay RV Resort...all depends on what type of rig we will be habituating...yes, we are exploring another Class A. For a few bucks more at the resort, we can spoil ourselves and make sure Sydney is not looking like a "res" dog for a few days.

At Waypoint 44.413383-124.01604

November 9, 2015

Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, Oregon

"There's nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, 
no matter how many times it is sent away."
Sarah Kay

We left Nehalem Bay and pointed the Fox south. Our destination was located just two miles south of the town Yachats and above the Haceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint. Our plans were to leave our mark on Cape Perpetua, which many call "the rugged edge of the Oregon coast."

We decided to stay at Chinook RV Park on the Alsea Bay and River in Waldport, OR to dump and rinse our tanks, charge up the batteries and take care of 10 days of laundry. We chose Waldport because it is a town of relative obscurity, charming, but not crowded and on the water. The park was located just out of the town limits. The owners were great and the basic amenities offered were all we needed, but sites were pretty to close to each other. Fortunately, the park was pretty much empty. They did feature an awesome on-site pet area that Sydney loved to run in and it was right on the river. Plus their wi-fi was super fast so I could catch up on all our on-line tasks.

The US Forest Service created the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and built the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center in the 1960's to highlight the unique beauty of the central Oregon Coast. And what a wonderful champion this area is, to show off the coastal beauty of the state! The visitor center offers natural history and cultural exhibits as well as spectacular views of the ocean and coast from it's deck. There are 27 miles of interconnecting hiking trails through an old growth forest made up of spruce, Douglas-fir and western hemlock, with many of the trails leading to Pacific Ocean viewpoints across the rocky shoreline or the many tidal pools.

Along the Cape Perpetua coastline there are several unique attractions as well. Hike the Captain Cook Trail down to tide pools and witness the power of the sea. The Devil's Churn is a long crack along the the coastal rock that fills with each ocean wave, exploding as incoming and outgoing waves collide. The geyser like Spouting Horn and Thor's Well are both salt water fountains driven by the power of the ocean spectacular they can be is based on height of high tide and size of the incoming swells.

Starting at the Cape Perpetua Visitors Center, we walked the 2.0 mile Giant Spruce Trail that winds through the trees along Cape Creek to Cape Perpetua's most impressive tree, a 600 year old (before Columbus sailed to the Americas) Giant Sitka Spruce, also known as the Silent Sentinel of the Siuslaw. The tree stands more that 56 meters (185') and has a 12 meter circumference (40') at it's base. Its the second largest sitka in Oregon. What was really cool about this tree other than it's massive size was that it's roots came out of the trunk above ground level and create a tunnel underneath the trunk large enough to crawl through. Awesome tree!

Another hike we took was the 2.2 mile Saint Perpetua Trail. This steep trail rewards you with many incredible coastal views, each more awesome than the last, luring you to onward and upward to the most spectacular viewpoint at Cape Perpetua. You will arrive at the Cape Perpetua Shelter, a structure built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the early 1930's, and once there you will agree the hike was worth it. Spectacular!

After three days of exploring this wonderful scenic area it was time to move out and head to one of our favorite destinations on the Oregon coast...Winchester Bay...and of course, Imke's treat of one of it's renowned dungeness crab.

At Waypoint 44.413383-124.016054