On December 16, we embarked on a 17-day journey from Northern Idaho to Central California and back in our fifth wheel. The first obstacle to overcome was getting out of our driveway. Shawn had to buy studded snow tires and chains for the truck. Our neighbors, Rich and Kyle, did their best to help us out by plowing as much snow and ice as possible off of our downhill driveway. When Shawn went to buy the snow tires and chains, Rich chained his truck to Shawn’s to prevent Shawn from sliding down the driveway. It was a scary drive in the early morning darkness, but Shawn successfully navigated us down the driveway to the main road before removing the chains.
The next obstacle was the weather. We ended up leaving a day earlier than planned in order to miss a storm. We drove six hours to Portland the first day. Eastern Washington is far from picturesque, especially in the winter. We stayed at the Sandy Riverfront RV Park in Troutdale, Oregon. Troutdale is a cute little town and their main street was decorated for Christmas. We enjoyed dinner and martinis at Troutini. Our waitress encouraged us to come back for New Year’s Eve on our return trip.
The next stop was South Beach State Park in Newport, Oregon. Once again we stayed at a park that we visited on our previous trip. Living in landlocked Idaho, Shawn knew I needed my dose of ocean views. We just beat the storm, and we were able to take a long walk on the beach. That night, our trailer was shaking fiercely in the 35 mph wind and rain.
We stopped in Bandon, Oregon, home of Face Rock Creamery and the import store with all the dinosaurs. Face Rock still makes the best mac & cheese in my book, and the clerk told us the recipe is available online. We bought a frozen mac to go along with a healthy supply of Vampire Slayer garlic cheddar. No additional dinosuars came home with us this trip.
In Gold Beach, we stayed at Turtle Rock RV Resort. As you can see from the picture, winter RV’ing is not so popular in the Pacific North West, but the solitude makes it much easier to park! We enjoyed an evening with Shawn’s niece and her family.
Our first stop in California was in Trinidad, a cute seaside town with an incredible smoked fish shop. It was a beautiful, sunny day, so after lunch, we took a 2-mile hike before getting back in the truck to head to Garberville for the night.
That was the end of the relaxing, leisurely, sightseeing portion of our trip. After that, our days were packed with visits with family and friends. We spent the night at Cal Expo RV Park in Sacramento, had lunch with our daughter and the grandkids, and dinner with our friend Jerry. Traffic and 5-lane freeways were a rude awakening. The stress level instantly increased.
Then it was on to Fresno to visit our son and the Scharton clan. Some of the highlights included sampling the local breweries, an introduction to mulcajetes, lots of good Mexican food that we don’t have in Idaho, a Zumba class led by my sister-in-law, and Christmas Eve dinner with family and old friends. We parked in my brother’s driveway for the duration. I’m sure the neighbors were thrilled when we packed up and left at 5:30 Christmas morning for a hair-raising drive through the tule fog back to Sacramento.
We made it to Elk Grove in time to watch the grandkids open their presents Christmas morning. Shawn’s brother hosted Christmas dinner. Only in California can you serve Christmas dinner outside on the patio. Sure, there was a heater and a fire pit, but we won’t be doing that in Idaho in December.
On Boxing Day, we drove to San Francisco to visit our youngest son. We’ve always gone over the Bay Bridge, but this time we took the Golden Gate Bridge. It was so much nicer; I may never use the Bay Bridge again. It was a rare sunny day in San Francisco, so we enjoyed a long walk through Golden Gate Park and a Korean lunch of bi bim bab (not commonly found in Idaho).
The next two days were filled with lunches and dinners with old friends and co-workers. So much to catch up on and to remind us how much we are enjoying retirement. We spent four days in Sacramento before heading home to Idaho. We picked up a cold along the way and just wanted to get home. The return trip was only two stops compared to the five days we took on the way down.
We arrived home the afternoon of January 1st and our neighbor Kyle was waiting at the end of the driveway to tow us home. The trip was fun, adventurous, and exhausting. It was wonderful to see all of our California family and friends again. Now it’s time to look through all the seed catalogs that were awaiting us on our return. Spring is just around the corner…she says hopefully.