Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Coarsegold, CA, Near Yosemite National Park

We left Monterey, CA, on Saturday, May 24th.  It was Memorial Day holiday weekend and we had to move on since the park was previously completely booked ahead of the holiday.  We think it was a good thing after all!!  Our campground was right behind the Monterey fairgrounds.  The event for the holiday weekend was the California Festival.  Apparently that meant a MUSIC festival!  And not our kind of music either!  Starting on Thursday evening, the music began and so loud it probably could have been heard in space!  When music is that loud, the bass sound always seems louder so when the festival kicked off on Friday morning, that constant boom, boom, boom just grated on the nerves to the point of nausea by the end of the day.  We know it was some kind of youth festival because we saw most of the young people walking to the concert dressed like hippies.  On the internet, I looked up the concert and the names of the bands sounded like names from another world!  Just weird or really funny names.  Ah..youth.  When young, we probably appeared to adults just weird when we reacted to the Beatles!

California is still hot and dry, so everything looks brown with no hint of green from the Spring.   In the picture below, in the background, you can see the stark blue contrast of the San Luis Reservoir to the parched landscape.  The reservoir was so far down and had been that way for so long that on one of the arms, trees were growing where there should be water.  The reservoir is part of California’s water project for the aqueduct system.

Coursegold Yosemite Bass Lake Sequioa NP (21)


We are spending a month at Coarsegold, CA, from May 24 to June 24 (hey, that’s my birthday) at the Park Sierra Escapee Park.  The current name derives from the California Gold Rush of the mid-19th century, when prospectors discovered coarse nuggets of gold in a nearby creek.   At one time, several dozen gold mines operated in the area.  Coarsegold is about 40 miles from the south entrance to Yosemite National Park.  On our way to the park, which is so close to Yosmite,  we left Madera and turned onto highway 41.  It was crazy!  And that was almost an hour away! The traffic on the two lane road was almost bumper to bumper with people heading up to Yosemite.  We went into Oakhurst Sunday morning and on the way back to the park, traffic was again one car after the other heading to Yosemite.  Not us! We are waiting for a weekday when it won’t be so busy.

This is our 3rd stay at this park.  The park is built on the side of the hill with roads that up wind and down and around from the entrance to the bottom. We tried to ride our bikes yesterday. Bad idea!! Going down is fine but the roads are so steep that us ole folks had to walk all the way back up! The sites are graded and level with a concrete slab and they tried to leave as many trees as possible when building the park with the all volunteer workers. This is a Co-Op park, meaning people lease a lot and when not in the park, the lot is put in a rental pool for other Escapee members to use.  Many folks have fixed their lots up with nice landscaping, pavers, etc. This is one of our favorite parks because the way the sites are laid out makes each one large and very private.  Some sites have views of the Sierra Nevada mountains in the distance.

 Coursegold Yosemite Bass Lake Sequioa NP (5)  Coursegold Yosemite Bass Lake Sequioa NP (8)

A big hello from Doug!  You can see, also, that the hood of the truck is raised.  That is to keep critters from building nests under the hood and chewing on the wiring and other parts.  Even now we can hear the squirrels using the top of the RV as an extra branch as they go from tree to tree.  The park is full of squirrels, Gambil’s quail, pretty birds, etc.  There is even deer and a few feral cats. 

Coursegold Yosemite Bass Lake Sequioa NP (7)  Coursegold Yosemite Bass Lake Sequioa NP (6)

 colored back bird Gambils quail 2 squirrel 2 deer doe

We have already been just a mile up the road to the casino for their great buffet.  Doug got his free on Memorial Day because he is a veteran.  We even made it to the ice cream social on Sunday afternoon and ‘breakfast in a bag’ on Monday morning.  Breakfast in a bag’ is made by putting 2 eggs in a plastic bag, squish it around good, add cheese, tomatoes, bacon, or anything else you wish.  Squeeze all the air possible out, then drop into boiling water until the egg is set.  Very tasty!

AGAIN! The fan capacitor on the AC broke.  Of course,  It happened on the hottest days when we need it the most!  Everything worked fine for about a week.  So we have ordered TWO more. We were lucky to find an RV service place about 35 miles down the road closer to Fresno, CA.  Just means more work for Doug in the heat. 

It is very hot here with temperatures in the 90s.  It may cool off a little next week.  It is so dry that a large fire started in Hunter Valley-Meraposa County about 50 miles northwest of us.  Very scary! I am watching the reports often!  We hope to visit Yosemite again (our 4th time), plus Bass Lake near Yosemite, then take a day’s drive to Sequoia National Park.  We are definitely going to wait for nice cooler days before we explore. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Short Drive Along Pebble Beach in CA

Well, the weather man tricked us again!  Clear and sunny? Nope!  More fog.  But that seems to be typical along the Pacific coast.  Only, today, it stayed that way and didn’t burn off.   Sometimes in our travels, we just have to accept Mother Nature the way She is and still enjoy ourselves.  But after looking forward to the southern Pacific coast again, we really were disappointed in the weather for the two drives we had planned.  But better weather is always just up the road.

A little bit south of Monterey is an attraction called ‘The Pebble Beach 17-Mile Drive’.   For $10, you can drive through the gated community along the coast.  The community is noted for the million dollar homes,  3 golf courses, and overlooks along the coast.  The road starts off by meandering through the forest and neighborhood.  We certainly did not see any million dollar homes that impressed us!  A few were very large and well landscaped but some looked old and could use some maintenance.  

Along the drive is the Pebble Beach famous golf course that hosts one of the PGA tournaments. The course goes right down to the water.  Sure looks better on a sunny day.

Pebble Beach Golf Links, hole 7.jpg

Then we reached the shore.  The beach area was really ugly with sea grass here and there, seaweed that had washed up, rocks, and not much of a view of anything after all the hoop-la about this ‘must see’ place.  We have seen far prettier beaches all along the east coast.  Even if it had been a bright sunny day, our opinion would not have changed.   

Pebble beach 021

We continued to follow the map to the other overlooks.  Two of the overlooks were fenced off and closed because it is seal ‘pupping’ time, meaning the seals were giving birth to their pups.  At Bird Point was where things were interesting!  You could see large rocks off shore and they were covered with well over a hundred seals!  Of course, like other seal areas, they were loud!  It was fun to take the binoculars and watch them sleep or fight off others in the water to keep them from getting a share of the rock.  But they sure managed somehow to just pile themselves on each other! 

1 pano Pebble beach 065 Pebble beach 056

The entertainment was furnished by all the ground squirrels begging for food!  They were all sizes, from baby to adults.  They just scampered everywhere and would come right up to you as if asking “got anything for me today?”.  Cute!  The adult sitting up in the picture certainly looks like she has been well fed, or she my be pregnant.  The certainly were not shy!  The seagulls and other sea birds had their own rock! The white stuff certainly isn’t snow!  You can take a pretty good guess of what it is from all the hundreds of birds that have been nesting on it over the years!   UCK!!

Pebble beach 061 Pebble beach 049 Pebble beach 059

Pebble beach 057

The highlight of the drive is suppose to be the ‘Lone Cypress’ overlook.  Of course, there was so much glare from the low fog, that my pictures were not very good and neither were the views.  I am sure these views would be pretty on a sunny day.  The lone cypress tree has been on this perch for over 250 years.  It is fenced off to keep people away from it and has also been bricked at the bottom to help support it. The first picture is a copy of a prettier view.  Mine?  At least I have a shot to remind us that we saw it.  Alas, we didn’t get a very pretty view of Carmel Bay. 

The Lone Cypress, a symbol of the community, as seen from 17-Mile Drive  3 pano4 panoPE

7 pano PE

Had we known what the drive was really like, we would have saved our $10 and spent it on something better.  But we had to move on and couldn’t stay in the area for better days.  I do have some really pretty pictures of our first stay in Monterey 10 years ago but was still using a film camera.  Gee, I could always take a picture of my scrapbook page so I have picture on my laptop!   

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Big Sur, CA, Day Trip Along the Coast

Thursday, May 22, we woke up to fog and drizzle.  This was to be our beautiful drive down Big Sur for a 90 mile view of cliffs and the Pacific Ocean.  We listened to the weather man on TV and should have know better!  They just can’t seem to get it right.  All the weather we looked at on the internet said the day was supposed to be clear.  But since our time was limited, we decided we were going one way or the other.  We packed our picnic bag, as we always do on day trips, and headed to Big Sur.  It was chilly and we needed a light jacket.  The high was only about 60 degrees.  This is the second time we have taken the drive.  In 2004, we drove down to Hearst Castle, but decided not to go that far again.  Even though it was an overcast day, it is still an awesome scenic drive no matter what the weather.  Plus, even though it such a chilly wet day, the road was very busy!  I could only imagine what it would be like on a sunny day or a weekend!  Since this weekend is the Memorial Day holiday, I’ll bet the traffic will be bumper to bumper and you wouldn’t be able to find a spot to park at any of the overlooks.
Big Sur is a sparsely populated region of the Central Coast of CA where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean.   The name "Big Sur" is derived from the original Spanish-language "el sur grande", meaning "the big south",  referring to its location south of the Monterey Peninsula. The terrain offers stunning views, making Big Sur a popular tourist destination. Big Sur's Cone Peak is the highest coastal mountain in the contiguous 48 states, ascending nearly a mile (5,155 feet) above sea level only 4.5 miles from the coast.  Portions of the route had several names and numbers over the years as more segments opened. It was not until 1964 that the entire route was officially designated as Highway 1. The picture below is what it should look like and the second is more like what we saw later in the afternoon.  
Big Sur photo 1  Big Sur CA May 22 028
We stopped at just about every overlook as we headed south.  I don’t think we missed many of them!  Of course, I HAD to check out every view I could!  My camera never got a break! Doug had marked some of the more popular ‘must see’ areas of the drive.  The first stop was at Rocky Point and we hiked down from the road to the point below to get a better look.  The hiking all along the route is very popular.  You can see that is was foggy in the background.  At many of the overlooks, you can hear the sea lions even before you see them on the rocks! It was just past low tide and it is funny to see the sea lions stay on the rocks until the very last inch of rock is underwater.  They will nap on any spot they can find, even if it is a bed of seaweed!  
 Big Sur CA May 22 011 PE Sky Big Sur CA May 22 012 PE sky
Big Sur CA May 22 015
The Bixby Bridge is one of the most scenic and most photographed icons in Big Sur.  There is a huge parking area and you get an excellent view of the bridge and the road above the water.  In the 3rd picture you can see more of a dramatic view of the bridge and the mountains from another overlook.    
16 pan 2PE sky redo17 pan
13 pan 1crop PE edited skyBig Sur CA May 22 046
One of the most unique places we stopped at was Pfeiffer Beach.  We took a 2 mile one lane road through the woods and down the side of the mountain to the parking area and then hiked about 1/4 mile to the beach.  We must have spent at least an hour there fascinated by the rock formations formed by the furry of the ocean waves.   One young lady was kind enough to ask if we would like her to take a picture of us.  Aren’t we cute sitting on the log together?!? Yep, I wrote the date in the sand! You can see Doug decided to rest while I took LOTS & LOTS of pictures!
  Big Sur CA May 22 068 Big Sur CA May 22 088
Big Sur CA May 22 086 Big Sur CA May 22 100 PE
Big Sur CA May 22 105
Further along the route you get a pretty view of McWay Falls.  You can hike down the side of the cliff on a wooden catwalk but it just looked to steep for us and we had other places we wanted to see.   You can see falls just a little tot eh left of the center.  The water in that area is just a beautiful color! 
19 pan
Well, time for lunch!  We were a little disappointed that there were not hardly any picnic areas.  We found this one at an information area.  You can also see the guests that came to share our picnic lunch! The Steller’s Jay even liked our lemon cake! We even saw a few deer that afternoon. 
Big Sur CA May 22 159 
 Big Sur CA May 22 160 for blogBig Sur CA May 22 166
It was getting to be late afternoon and the sun FINALLY decided to come out for just a bit as we headed on back to Monterey and it gave me the opportunity to take better pictures from some of the same overlooks.
 Big Sur CA May 22 183 Big Sur CA May 22 199
 Big Sur CA May 22 173
Just great scenery and a great drive!  So glad we decided to take the drive again after so many years.  

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Day On The Bay-Monterey Bay That Is

We loaded the bikes onto the back of the truck today and headed down to the docks.  It was a bit cool with a few clouds but a great day for a bike ride.  We took a 3 hour bike ride along the bay on nice 2 way paved paths that took us all the way back to Bubba Gump’s, where we were yesterday.  It wasn’t as busy with traffic and people today so that was nice.   Most of the piers are now lined with small shops and places to eat.  The streets right on the waterfront are set up to draw the tourists in with all kinds of  places to take your money!  The bike paths are a block from the main streets, so you are not trying to ride your bike on busy sidewalks.  There are several little city park areas where you can view the water and just enjoy being outdoors. 

We first headed towards the dock where we heard the most noise from the seals.  Goodness, they are loud!   How many more seals can fit on the platform in the picture?  Some of those guys were vicious in trying to keep other seals from getting a spot.  It was fun to watch them.  What a life, just sunbathe, swim, eat fish!  I think some of the restaurants must feed them the left over seafood! 

Monterey Bay dock & bike ride 007 Monterey Bay dock & bike ride 004

We then continued on towards other areas to see if we could find more seals.  All along the way, the scenery is just so pretty.  You can look out over the bay and to the north  and see the Santa Cruz Mountains in the distance.  You can see them because of the curve of the bay and the direction Monterey faces.  Such pretty blue water!  Boy, there sure are LOTS boats in the harbor!  Cha-Ching $$$$$$!  Somebody has money! 

1 pan bay from Bubba Gump's PE editedMonerery  Bubba Gumps PE edited


1 pan of docks Monterey Bay dock & bike ride 038 redo

We took a break and this seagull decided to pose with us!  Of course, they are everywhere! This guy looks pretty healthy from his California living.

Monterey Bay dock & bike ride 027 redo Monterey Bay dock & bike ride 028 redoMonterey Bay dock & bike ride 026

And, yes, we found more seals.  Notice the cute black pup in the center of the picture.  They all were just taking their mid-morning nap. 

Monterey Bay dock & bike ride 033 Monterey Bay dock & bike ride 043 redo

What a nice way to start off our stay in Monterey……


   Seal Royalty Free Stock Images