03-22 to 24-2021 Off to the Smith with Deborah

Once again we decided that a shared camping trip with my daughter Deborah would be a great way to spend some time in a beautiful place.  Our plan was to camp near the Smith River in California so Deb could hone her fishing skills.

Mo and I had camped at Redwood Meadows RV Resort in Hiouchi back in November of 2010 in a nice little spot adjacent to a tiny bubbling creek.  Even though there is a bit of road noise from Highway 199, it isn’t terribly intrusive and the site we like is set a bit apart from some of the other sites.  We made reservations, and during the process discovered that Redwood Meadows is owned by the same people who own the Shoreline RV Park where we camped in Eureka.  When talking with Brenda at the office while making the reservation I mentioned Shoreline in passing and Brenda made sure I received a 15 percent discount since I had camped at one of their parks.  I never asked if the discount had an ending date, but was happy for the little bit of additional savings, more than the 10 percent we usually get for AARP, AAA, or military discounts.

After spending several days with Deb in the MoHo last month, we knew how to manage the small space and enjoy being together.  This time Deb was insistent that she provide one of our meals, and had a great pot of beef stroganoff with wide noodles all pre-cooked and ready to go.  We hoped for another supper of fresh caught fish, and maybe a third night of fish and chips at our favorite spot in Crescent City, not far west from our camping site in Houichi.

Deb purchased a 2 day fishing license for California, in addition to tags for both salmon and steelhead, and came prepared with pole, bait, and a tackle box of goodies.  She read up on local fishing stories, best bait to use, and where the good holes were located.

We left Grants Pass around 11, knowing that we couldn’t check in to Redwood Meadows until 1PM.  Since it was Sunday, no one was in the office, but I knew exactly where to find the envelope with our check-in information.  I have to say that Brenda was so helpful and considerate throughout this entire process.  She called a couple of times before we left home to double check how we were doing and make sure we knew that she had saved our requested spot.  I was truly impressed with how well everything was managed at this park.

We knew the weather might be a bit iffy for a day or two during our visit, but Deb was undaunted.  She had no qualms about fishing in the rain if need be.  That first afternoon after we set up the rig Mo settled in with Mattie while Deb and I got in the Tracker to scope out where the fishing holes were located, what Mo called, “A reconnaissance trip”.

Some of the maps that Deb had were hard to understand and it took awhile to get a good picture of where the various sections of the river began.  For fishing these waters it is imperative that you know exactly where you are on the river since the rules vary by section.  Deb also discovered that the entire section of the river required barbless hooks so she needed to pick up some of those on her way to our home before we left. 

Our RV park was just a short distance from the main entrance to Jedediah Smith State and National Park, right along Highway 199 where the Smith River flows west and north toward the ocean 7 miles distant.  With a bit of wandering about we found all the fishing holes Deb wanted to try, and even saw a few people fishing in the late afternoon.

Back home we settled in for supper, a truly grand meal thanks to Deborah, with plenty for leftovers.  By the time we returned, Mo had started a lovely campfire and after dinner we sat outside to enjoy the evening and roast a few marshmallows with the super roasting sticks that Deborah sent to us as a gift after our last camping trip.  My old sticks were short, and these new ones extend to a perfect length, with two prongs on the end to keep the marshmallows from dripping off as they get hot, and metal that stays cool to the touch, maybe titanium?

After a great night’s sleep, with no problems from the highway noise, we woke to a cloudy morning with rain predicted for much of the day.  After breakfast the three of us piled into the Tracker, Deb with her gear and Mo, Mattie, and I with coffee and phones and a book to read while Deborah fished.

The first site we explored was right near the bridge where Highway 199 crosses the Smith River.  Named Society Hole, we were tickled to see the fishing symbol on the sign at the entrance to a parking area that even had a small outhouse.

Deb headed down to the river, and in spite of the chilly and damp weather was thrilled to be fishing once again.  It has been awhile since she got out with her poles.  Her favorite fishing was during her years in Texas along the coast where she fished in the ocean with great success.  She also fished successfully for trout in Pelican Bay near our previous home in Rocky Point.

She walked the rocky bar adjacent to the river, casting into the deep pools as far as she could reach, but to no avail.  We noticed that with the incredibly clear water of the river we should have been able to see a fish or two.  Not a one appeared, either visually or on Deborah’s hook.  Still, it was a lovely morning for all three of us, especially when the sun peeked through now and then. 

I spent some time walking the gravel bar as well and was amazed at the gorgeous river worn rocks.  Most of the geology of the upper Smith is in serpentine and various types of metamorphic rocks, including jade and jadeite.  I have no clue which of these rocks were actually jade, but picked up one to take to daughter Melody, who informed me if I didn’t bring her one, I didn’t love her!

By early afternoon I received an expected text message from an old friend.  Ben Marshall, a soil scientist who worked for me in 2008 and 2009 in Sonora California was traveling from Coos Bay to his family home in the Mother Lode area in California.  Ben now lives with his wife Meghan and two young boys in Maryland, where he is an MLRA Leader for soil survey.  That is the position I was in just before retiring when Ben worked for me.  I remember long conversations with Ben about how he really wanted a wife and kids, to build a family.  Ben met Meghan at a Basic Soil Survey training class and they fell in love.  Meghan applied for a job in my office, and it was a bit of a difficult thing because my supervisor was adamant that having partners in the same office was not a good thing. I told my boss, “If we don’t hire Meghan, we will lose Ben”.  The rest is history.  Meghan came to work for me as well, she and Ben got married, moved to Maryland and now have two sweet little boys. 

Ben, traveling with his youngest boy, arrived in late afternoon.  Masked and careful, even his young son, we had a great visit, catching up on old times and laughing with the memories of soil survey in those years.  It was great to see him.  It is lovely when people from a past life care enough to make an effort to visit.

Without fish for the Monday evening menu we settled in with a meat loaf I had prepared, just in case.  It was also delicious and once again we enjoyed a nice campfire with marshmallows.  Mo and I put out our awning, a new one that we replaced a couple of years ago and haven’t used since.  Often the winds are too unpredictable to leave out the awning.  This time we were protected from the wind and had no problem.  However, Mo was careful to put the awning up at enough of an angle that the rainwater would run off without pooling and causing any problems.

Another good night’s sleep and we were ready for a day of exploring more holes along the river.  This time we traveled Walker Road, a dirt track that meanders through Jedediah Smith State Park toward the river.  On our last trip through this area we stopped at the visitor center where we learned about Walker Road, but chose to skip it since we were on the way farther south and didn’t want to have to unhook the Tracker to explore it. 

It was absolutely gorgeous!  Most people traveling through this area visit the main park road or the access road to Stout Grove farther north in the park.  It was the first time in all the years we have traveled this route that we had a real reason to explore Walker Road.

Once again, the fishing area was beautiful, the river gorgeous and incredibly clear.  The morning fog began to lift around 9, earlier than we expected, and the sunshine made everything sparkle.  After a few hours at this hole, once again Deborah decided that it might be time to try another spot.  We decided to go home for some lunch and a bit of relaxation before Deb and I drove back to another highly recommended spot.  Mo and Mattie stayed home in the Moho for some down time.

This time Deb and I decided to try another route, a dirt track that showed several access points that we had seen that morning from the west side of the river. The road wasn’t too bad, but we did have to drive through a few deep pools left from the recent rains.  We hoped to get all the way to the area across the river where we had been in the morning, but the last deep pool was too much for the Tracker.

I thought I might need to double check the depth, and it was a good thing I did because the water was 3/4 of the way up the tires, with a soft mushy bottom toward the end, and deep enough to bury the exhaust pipe of the car.  I was glad Deb had some waders with her.  She never used them, but they sure helped me as I crossed that deep pool.

We had Mattie with us on this sunny, gorgeous afternoon and she loved following Deb as she fished along the shoreline.  I managed to wrangle my walker out of the car to help a bit with walking the distance over the rough gravel bar, but I think I had to carry the walker more than I used it.  Still, it was nice to sit there in the sunshine and listen to the river and watch Deb fish.

Once again, incredibly clear water, but no fish.  Deb loved every minute, though, insisted that she didn’t care that much and was just happy to be out there fishing.  It was a magical afternoon.

When we got back to camp, Mo had been visiting with a camping neighbor who had fishing gear in his truck.  He told her that all the fish were gone for the time being, with the local river guides taking vacation time until the fish come back!  He managed to catch trout by traveling 20 miles upstream to his friend’s home right on the river bank and sitting there all day.  Ah well…who knew.  Deb and I thought that maybe next time she might like to go during the Christmas steelhead season and hire a guide to help her learn the river from a local.

With no fresh fish, our plan for Tuesday evening was to take the short drive to Crescent City to visit our favorite spot for fish and chips, the Chart Room.  I knew they were closed on Monday, so we saved that trip for Tuesday.  It was a lovely drive, and when we got there I discovered that my memory of the place being closed on Monday was wrong.  It is closed on Tuesdays!  Ah well.  Instead we rambled back through town along the highway and found another place, one I still only thing of as “restaurant” because that is what I saw on the sign.

The place was funky and charming in the way the coastal coffee shops often are with a laid back vibe and lots of souvenir racks in the middle of the room, fish murals on the walls, and friendly waitresses. We had excellent service, good decent ordinary food, and yes, we ate indoors!  Everyone was masked as they entered the restaurant, and tables were more than 6 feet apart.  Even though Mo and I have only had one vaccination, Deb has had her second, and with numbers going down we felt safe enough. I had forgotten how much fun it is to actually sit in a restaurant, sharing food and background noise with all sorts of people you don’t know.  Why is that fun?  I have no clue, but it was nice to be able to dine inside again.

We went home to enjoy our last campfire of the trip, laugh about the closed restaurant and the lack of fish in the river, and spend another night together in the MoHo.

It was a simple trip, a bit less than 2 hours from home, and yet it felt like another vacation from everyday life.  Deb kept worrying that we were making the entire trip about her desire to fish.  I told her that was great!  It is always nice to have a focus for a trip.  We learned a lot and saw parts of the Smith River that we wouldn’t have seen without Deborah along.  Mo and I love our own company, but having another compatible, easy person to share a trip with had been delightful.  Deb is now hooked of course, and wants her own camping rig. She might decide that a trailer is better for her than a small van, especially since vans are becoming so popular and so highly priced, even for used ones. She spent the entire last part of the trip looking up trailers and vans.

Our trip home was uneventful.  We are used to traveling Highway 199, high on a cliff above the Middle Fork of the Smith.  Such a gorgeous river. We left on Wednesday.  Once home, we discovered that just a day later on Thursday, right near the intersection of Highway 199 and Walker Road a huge redwood fell across the highway, killing two unsuspecting people traveling along in their car.

When Deb and I first explored Walker Road we saw a big tree that had fallen across the road that was being cleaned up. Still, it never really occurred to me that those huge old trees could fall without warning on a perfectly clear, non windy day.  Of course, if you spend any time walking the redwood forests, you will see huge trees everywhere that have fallen at one time or another.  As many times as we have driven through the redwoods on our way to the coast, I never gave it a moment of thought.  I might think differently next time, but it won’t keep me from driving the Redwood Highway.

02-17-2021 Camping Beside the Trinity River at Hayden Flat

The sun was shining on Wednesday morning when we left Eureka.  We knew that our weather on the route home from Eureka was going to be a bit of a challenge. The possibility of skipping the Trinity River and Highway 299 route east to Redding and instead driving back north on 101 was eliminated by the road closure due the the slide south of Crescent City.

With weather predictions for snow on I-5 on the way home, we accepted the possibility that we might have to stop in Redding before we hit snow at Dunsmuir and Mt Shasta.  The other option was that we might have to stop in Yreka.   We thought about simply driving fast and going directly home on Wednesday, skipping our planned night of camping at Hayden Flat.  The thought was so disappointing to all of us, especially Deborah, who said she had no problem returning a day or two late since she was still on work leave for the rest of the week.

When we left Ferndale and drove back north to Arcata the sun was shining brilliantly and the weather reports for the day ahead were close to perfect.  Traveling east on Highway 299 is a beautiful route and the best way to cross the coast range of California from the ocean to the Sacramento Valley.  There are other routes that Mo and I have taken and said “never again” in the MoHo.

The initial climb to Berry Pass isn’t particularly difficult, with a few steep hairpin curves.  The road is wide and well marked and we arrived at the Burney Point Vista just west of the pass in time for lunch.  The parking area wasn’t full but there were several Cal Trans work trucks lined up. 

Must be their lunch time too.  We parked with a view over the distant mountains, opened up the slide for comfort and settled in for a nice lunch.  The sun was warm inside the MoHo but it was brisk and breezy outdoors.

I brought out the frying pan and the olive oil and we managed to turn our cold limp french fries into something delightful for a yummy lunch.  Deb and I enjoyed a bit of the sandwich meat also heated up and much tastier than it had been the previous evening at the restaurant.

We switched drivers, so that I could drive and Deb could be in the front seat during the next section of highway which was much more curvy than the first part.  The route along the Trinity River is beautiful, climbing several hundred feet above the river far below and then dropping down again to river level. 

Mo and I had camped at Hayden Flat several years ago, and hoped to do so again.  There are two sections of the campground, with the lower section on the river side of the highway and the upper section across the road from the river.  As we approached the campground, we saw the road down to the river camp, but missed the turn. 

It seemed impossible to get down there in the Mo Ho from the vantage point of the road.  As we continued a few hundred feet toward the upper camp we were disappointed to see strong green gates announcing that the campground was closed.  Previously reading on the internet (when we still had a signal) we also discovered that the upper camp had been converted to a group site campground. We wouldn’t be able to camp there without reservations even it if had been open. An important side note; we had NO internet signal on any of our phones from Berry Pass on Highway 299 until the next day as we approached Weaverville)

A bit disappointed we slowly continued east along the highway, exploring the possibility of boondocking in one of the wide flat areas along the river.  There are many access points and even a spot with porta potties for the many people who kayak this river.

Continuing past an RV Park which looked a bit iffy and very crowded, we decided to turn around and keep looking for a pleasant roadside night spot along the highway.  Surprise surprise!  On the return trip we saw a wide spot for Hayden Flat Lower Campground, and pulled off to check out the access road.

It wasn’t as bad as we thought.  We unhooked the car to drive down and explore our options and decided getting into the empty campground was a piece of cake.  I drove down in the motorhome while Mo and Deb walked around to select our site. 

We finally settled on the perfect spot, with a fire ring overlooking the river and a nice level place for the MoHo.  As is often the case, an empty campground provides way too many choices to make it easy to decide where to be. The road was above us so there was a bit of road noise, but we didn’t imagine that would be a problem as evening progressed.  The sound of the river was loud as well, so that masked anything unpleasant that drifted down from the road.

Within minutes of getting settled in, Mo had unloaded the firewood and started a nice campfire.  She had packed enough wood for a possible fire on one night, and decided that it was time to get it going even though it was only 2:30 in the afternoon.  Mo does love her campfires.

We sat in our chairs in the warm sunshine, enjoying the fire, the river and a glass of wine letting the afternoon slide by peacefully.  Deb laughed and said she had wondered what we might have had planned for our time between parking and dinner.  She said we usually had some kinds of plans, but this time our only plan was to simply sit and enjoy.  She loved every minute of it. 

Our firewood was getting low and the fire was burning low as well when we all tried to find some kind of wood lying around camp.  Deb offered to drive off in the car to the RV Park we had seen earlier to get some firewood.  Sure enough she returned with a big bunch of wood for only 5 bucks.  In state parks it costs 5 bucks for about a quarter of what she got.  The extra wood extended our campfire long enough that we were able to heat the enchiladas over the fire and still have plenty of coals left for roasting marshmallows together.Dinner was delicious, with homemade enchiladas heated on the fire and another bit salad.

Deb and I both said we didn’t really like marshmallows, but roasting them was fun.  Somehow the marshmallows tasted delicious.  I can no longer say I don’t really like roasted marshmallows.  We talked about how our marshmallow sticks were just a bit short and Mo mentioned the telescoping sticks we had seen once in the past.


It doesn’t take much for Deb to notice small details.  This morning (a week later) a package arrived on the porch. It was a gift from Deborah thanking us for the trip and a nice little canvas case of telescoping marshmallow sticks!!  Yayyy!

The night was dark and cold and beautiful if not starry.  The clouds moved in shortly after sunset and we all slept well.  By morning, it was dark and dreary once again, and as we packed up to drive east the rain began.

I drove for a time, following the river and watching the rain get heavier and thicker until it turned to sleet and then to snow.  We were still 50 miles west of Redding as the snow started sticking to the road in earnest.  At a particularly snowy summit we decided it would be best to unhook the Tracker. 

Mo drove the MoHo and I followed in the Tracker.  As fate would have it, very soon after we passed the summit the snow once again turned to rain.

A few miles before we reached Redding we pulled over again to hook up the Tracker and continued toward town.  Stopping just outside of the city where 299 intercepts I-5, we once again checked the weather.  Although we thought we might stay in Redding for the night, the predictions for I-5 over Mt Shasta were encouraging.  Mixed rain and snow over Shasta was predicted, however the weather cams for Siskiyou Pass at the Oregon state line were daunting.  We decided to continue north toward Yreka with a plan to stay at an RV park there to wait out the storm.

Crossing Shasta was easy, with just a bit of snow, but nothing Mo and I haven’t managed in past years traveling to and from Grants Pass on I-5 over Mt Shasta.  Once down in the valley south of Yreka the snow let up and it began to rain.  We searched the internet and found the Waiika RV Park.  Near the Rain Rock Casino, it was an excellent choice.

We pulled in, signed in, and settled in for a night of waiting and watching the weather cams over the mountains on our route toward home.  The park was pleasant enough, with a level site with full hookups, and very nice, very clean bathrooms with great showers.  A quarter for 5 minutes of good hot water seemed like a real luxury.  I used three quarters and I think Deb said she used 4.  Another big salad and leftovers for supper were perfect.

I don’t think any of us slept very well, wondering what the next morning would bring.  We didn’t know for sure if we would be able to get home or not.  As soon as it was light, I started checking the web cams, Trip Advisor, ODOT Road Conditions, and any other resources I might find to let us know how the route ahead was being affect by the weather.

We were thrilled to see that the route looked do-able and packed up the MoHo and were on the road by 9.  With only a tiny bit of ice and fog at the Siskiyou Summit we were pulling into the driveway at home by 11:15.  It rained off and on along the way, but once again for the last time on this trip the travel angels kicked in and the rain stopped just long enough for all of us to unload the car and the rig as we settled back in here at home. 


From the beginning to the very end it was a perfect, delightful trip and a wonderful way to share our travels with my daughter.  I will treasure the memory always.


02-14-2021 Valentine’s Day by Humboldt Bay

We woke on Sunday morning to a somewhat dreary day brightened by our bright tiny red and pink lights in the window, a box of See’s Chocolates, and shared Valentines.

Deborah said she slept well on her first night on the make-down bed, and in no time had everything back together and tucked away for the day.  Mo and I have been skipping breakfast lately, but Deborah was forewarned and brought along her own favorite breakfast, an homemade egg-bake that she cuts into squares and heats in the microwave. She even brought enough to share for when I decided that waiting until 12 to eat was a bit more than I wanted to wait.

We took our time getting out of the house since the day was gray and rainy and we didn’t have a lot planned.  I originally thought we might try to visit the historic Samoa Cookhouse for a Sunday brunch. However, the restaurant was not only closed for indoor seating, it was indefinitely closed.  The website didn’t reflect that, but I called the phone number and the sad message said they weren’t sure when they would open again.

We also planned to drive and walk around Old Town Eureka, but when we left around 10, we altered our route to follow the bridge across Humboldt Bay toward Samoa.  In spite of the restaurant being closed, it was nice to see the old historic buildings, check out the exterior of the museum, and take a few photos. The Samoa Cookhouse is the last lumber camp style cookhouse in the Pacific Northwest.

Originally it was a dining facility for the employees working the mills for the Vance Lumber Company and opened in 1893.The cookhouse opened to the public in the 1960s and serves “lumber camp style”, or family style, meals at long communal tables. The building also houses a museum with artifacts and images that focus on logging and “maritime industry” history. The building is large enough to seat five hundred workers and to make cleaning the floors more efficient there were holes drilled into the floor with a grate to act as drainage for water rather than mopping.

Mo and I had been to the beach along the Samoa peninsula in the past but had never traveled as far south as the Samoa Dunes Recreation Area.  The road is paved as far as the Coast Guard facility, but beyond that it is rough sand with lots of potholes.  The day was chilly and windy, so we were surprised to find quite a few cars and trucks parked at the various access points to the wild ocean to the west of the road.

The dunes are a popular area for OHV riders, with an unloading ramp, restrooms, tables, cooking grills and a scenic overlook, easy access to 140 acres of “open” terrain, containing numerous trails and the beach strand. There is an additional 75-acre riding area that extends about 1 mile north of the park. The rest of the beach and dunes along the peninsula are closed to vehicle use, except by special permit from the county.

On this chilly day we didn’t see any riders but we were excited to discover that we could drive the Tracker right up the dunes overlooking the entrance to Humboldt Bay from the Pacific ocean.  It was cold and windy, so we didn’t stay outside very long, although Mattie didn’t seem to mind too much.  She loves time on the sand and with the beach fairly open and empty she was able to run a bit.

We were thrilled at the huge waves coming into the bay, with water breaking over the jetty at times and waves at least 12 feet high. 

On our return trip from the dunes, we stopped to visit the Woodley Island Marina. There is an excellent seafood restaurant at the marina, and it appeared to be open, but we weren’t the least bit interested.  After two meals of fish and chips the previous day, if we decided to eat out again it wouldn’t be seafood.  We were hoping to find some fresh crab but didn’t want live crabs since cleaning and cooking them in the MoHo wasn’t easy.  We found several signs for live crab, but none of the boats in the marina had cleaned, cooked crab for sale.  Deb remembered times on the Oregon coast when she was able to buy fresh clean cooked crab right from the boats.  No matter, we weren’t hungry anyway.

Driving back across the bay we turned south to enter the section of Eureka that is called Old Town and is on the National Historic Register. 

The Carson Mansion at the northern pert of the Historic District is highly recognizable and is considered one of the best examples of Victorian architecture in the United States.  The Carson Mansion can only be seen from the outside since there are no public tours allowed.  It is now owned by an elite private club called the Ingomar Club. Sad that this beautiful historic place doesn’t do tours unlike some of the other famous mansions in the United States.

Across the street from the big green house is another mansion, sometimes called the Pink Lady.  The pink mansion was a gift by William Carson for his son Milton.  The mansion is currently a guest house and was for sale for 1.5 million back in 2020.  Not sure of the current status. 

There are carriage rides available in Old Town Eureka, but on this cold and rainy day they didn’t appeal to us.  I did notice that the couple inside the carriage were wearing masks, and heard just a bit of the guide’s conversation about the mansions as he passed us on the street.

Something we did discover about Eureka and the surrounding area is that people are diligent about wearing masks.  Nearly everyone we passed on the trail the previous night was masked and even street people in town were wearing masks.  A refreshing sight for sure.

Photo from our 2011 visit to the same store Deborah visited on this trip, with blue skies

We drove down to the main part of Old Town to explore some of the few shops that were open.  In addition to requiring masks, the shops only allowed a very few people inside the store at once.  The proprietors were diligent about enforcing the rule, and once inside everyone kept a respectful distance.  Deborah found some lovely pottery mugs to commemorate her visit and we ran back to the Tracker in the rain where Mo and Mattie were patiently waiting for us.

During previous visits to Eureka, Mo and I discovered the North Coast Co-Op.  I knew Deb would love checking out the wonderful huge natural food store.  I also wanted to share the beautiful murals that are on the east side of the building with her. We wandered in the store for a time, and Deb bought a bunch of cheeses and other goodies before we left. 

The day was so very dark and wet and dreary that even driving around to find the murals and art installations that are scattered all around the town wasn’t much fun.

Instead we returned to the MoHo for a rousing game of Hand and Foot for Deborah and I while Mo watched the news.  The mirror casting app worked just fine during the day with fewer people around in their rigs sucking up the airwaves.

We enjoyed a great supper of homemade enchiladas and salad before settling in to watch a silly but fun Brit Box show called Death in Paradise.  It is a bit “cheesy” to use Deborah’s word, but she loved it as much as we do.  For us it is an easy escape, with a delightful Caribbean vibe and music, sunshine and palm trees in the midst of a murder mystery with a somewhat goofy but endearing Investigator.  The show kept us entertained at various times throughout the trip.  Deb wasn’t sure her partner Bob would be interested, but asked if maybe we could watch an episode now and then during our Sunday visiting times back home.


02-13-2021 Three People Traveling in the MoHo

Once again we headed for a coast, but this time instead of the Oregon Coast our destination was the Northern California coast.  For the first time in the 13 years we have been traveling in this MoHo (not counting the two prior years in the baby MoHo) we had a guest traveling with us.

My eldest daughter Deborah often visits on Sunday mornings.  She only lives an hour away and comes to spend some time with us and with her son who lives across the street from us.  Especially in this time of COVID she and her son are part of our “bubble” and the visits provide a sweet interlude.  On one such visit, as we were talking about our upcoming travels, we came to a great idea.  Deb has been working from home, has had her first vaccination, and has lots of leave accumulated that she needed to use.  In moments, we decided that a joint trip in the MoHo would be a great way for her to use her leave.

It was in 2013, three years after purchasing the MoHo, that Mo and I had the large sofabed replaced with a comfy dining booth with seats that make down into a reasonably comfortable bed.  In all that time, except for when it was first installed, we have never used the bed.  Mo and I tested it before this trip to be sure we remembered how to convert the booth to a bed and packed a large cushy sleeping bag for Deborah. 

On this Saturday morning we woke to rain, but we had been following the weather and knew this would be the case.  Predictions for our six days on the road indicated rough weather for most of the trip.  Undaunted, we didn’t even consider trying to reschedule.  Changing dates is easy for us as retired folks, but not so easy for my working girl.  Besides, we were all excited for the trip.  Deborah works hard, has a partner who is disabled, so doesn’t get away very often. 

The predictions for the weekend included rain and snow over some of the passes, including sections of Highway 199 that is our route to the coast from Grants Pass.  The predictions were just a bit off, thank goodness, with temperatures on our route remaining in the low 40’s and no snow except on the mountains around us.

For Deborah, the winding road along the cliffs bordering the Smith River was thrilling, with waterfalls cascading down the mountainsides at every turn, and the Smith at the highest level we had seen yet in our years of traveling this route.

When we began the trip, I prayed to the travel angels to be with us and let it be a memorable time for Deborah with no glitches.  The first day out lived up to every expectation in spite of the rain.  As we approached Jedediah Smith State Park the rain stopped and there were a few moments of sunshine peeking through the clouds.  It was Deborah’s first visit to the redwoods.

We parked the MoHo and took the Tracker on the park roads.  The campground had recently opened and the day use area was easily accessible.  The Smith River was running high and wild and people were fishing along the bank. The park road meanders beyond the river to a place where we know there is a very large tree and a little bit of a wide place in the road to park. 

We stopped, the sun came out again, and we enjoyed taking photos of the huge tree that seems to draw us each time we visit this area.  I have photos of Nickie and Jimmy and Erin and Mui at this same tree.  I used the opportunity to teach Deborah how to do vertical panoramas with her phone the same way Erin taught me at exactly the same location.

Leaving the park, we continued on the Redwood Highway toward Crescent City, with the mist making the redwoods even more mysterious. 

Once again the travel angels were with us, bringing out a bit of sunshine and letting up on the rain as we parked at our favorite Chart Room to order fish and chips to go.  The dining room was open for inside dining, since numbers in Del Norte county are down.  Deb and I looked inside and it felt claustrophobic even though people were spaced well. 

Sticking to our “to go” plan, we ordered our fish and took it back to the comfy warm MoHo for a perfectly fabulous lunch.  The servings are huge and we knew that there would be plenty for our early lunch and for dinner once again when we got settled into our park in Eureka.

Leaving Crescent City, we traveled along the coastal highway 101 through misty rain.  At a location about 20 miles south of town there was a traffic stop due to a huge slide that was being repaired. 

As we were parked waiting for our turn to pass, we saw large amounts of mountainside continuing to slide toward the road. UhOh.  We were lucky to get through, and learned later in the afternoon that Highway 101 had been closed at that slide after we passed.  Thank you again, Travel Angels!!

Checking the map, we decided to take a short alternate route south for about ten miles that meanders through the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.  For reasons I cannot explain, in all our trips south on this route, Mo and I have never stopped at this state park.  It was gorgeous with huge groves of trees that seemed even taller due to the steep slopes on either side of the road.  We parked at the closed visitor center where Mo took Mattie for a walk in the meadows and Deborah and I ventured onto a short trail where dogs weren’t allowed.

For Deborah, it was even more fascinating to be up close to the big trees in the beautiful groves along the trail. I had the camera and the phone, but Deb was the one snapping away with her phone.  I think she had more than 1000 photos when we returned at the end of the trip.  It isn’t easy getting good shots in the dark woods, but between the two of us we managed a few good ones.

The rain held off again for our short hike, and only started up when we got back on the road.  By the time we reached Eureka, the rain stopped long enough for us to enjoy an easy setup at Shoreline RV Park, right on the edge of town close to Highway 101.

I think Deborah got a kick out of watching Mo and I do the unhook/setup thing since she hadn’t experienced it before this trip.  We take it for granted and are pretty quick at the shared process after so many years traveling together.

Mo and I have stayed at this park in the past.  It is convenient and close to town for exploring areas around Eureka, but not particularly exciting, with sites spaced fairly close together. Still, it was for only 2 nights and the main purpose of staying at this park was to have close proximity to Eureka and Samoa.

The biggest surprise of the evening happened when Deb and I decided to take Mattie for a walk and after crossing under the highway on a paved pathway found ourselves on the beautiful Eureka Waterfront Trail.  Completed in 2018 and meandering along the salt marshes of Humboldt Bay the trail was a complete surprise.  Reading about the concept and construction of the trail was wonderful.  The project is beautiful and a great accomplishment for the city of Eureka.

There were many interpretive signs along the paved path and long boardwalk.  We also enjoyed the creative benches scattered along the way, although it was too dark to get good photos of any of them

We walked much farther than we planned and it was dark when we returned to the MoHo.  Mo was getting a bit worried about what happened to us, and it hadn’t occurred to me to take a phone with me to explain why we were gone so long. After all, we were just taking the dog for a short potty break when we started out.

After our left-over fish dinner we settled in to watch a little bit of TV.  Seems as though the park now uses some kind of cable box for TV that requires plugging in a bunch of stuff to the TV. Ours is installed behind the wall and we have no easy access to the back of the TV without removing screws and such.  Instead we once again decided to try the mirror casting capability of the phone.  That wasn’t very successful at this park because there were so many rigs so close to us that the phone kept trying to cast to several tv’s that weren’t ours.  Funny stuff! 

It only took a few minutes to shuffle things around a bit for Deborah to make down her bed. We settled in for the night listening to the rain on the roof of the rig, a wonderfully soothing sound for all of us. 

12-15-2020 through 12-19-2020 Another December Escape

When winter comes, our best option for a short getaway is to head for the coast.  We had barely returned from our Thanksgiving trip when Mo said, “Can we make a plan to go somewhere again before Christmas?”  Ummm….took me an overnight minute but by the next morning I was ready to search Harris Beach for a reserved campsite.  Harris Beach is beautiful, and close.  Just a bit over 2 hours for us from Grants Pass.  I guess that is why you will see more photos and blogs about Harris Beach than just about any other location we have traveled.  So be it.  If you are bored…just move along.

With all the sites being full on our last trip, we didn’t want to take a chance.  Reservations are so easy, and for me personally it is much less stressful to know I have a place to land.  Especially when the weather is stormy I really don’t want to be wandering around hunting for somewhere to by dark.

The weather report for our four days at the ocean was grim.  Wind warnings, gale warnings, high seas and king tide warnings were many.  Still, we have camped at the coast enough to know that in between all these dramatic events the skies can clear unexpectedly and the sun will break through.  We planned accordingly.  I think I packed more outerwear and footwear than I have in a very long time.  Four days, four weeks, if it is cold and variable, I need all those alternatives to being wet.  Glad I did.

As we departed from home around 11, the skies were that gloomy gray dull that I like least of any, and the rain was spotty.  Just enough to be wet and boring, but the trip down the Smith River past the Jedediah Smith redwoods is a familiar one.  I usually like to drive home from the beach since the steep drop-off to the river is on the passenger side in the east bound lane.  Mo was happy driving to the beach that morning.  We switch off as needed, taking turns.  I function better earlier in the day so usually leave later trips to Mo.  We avoid night driving most of the time anyway and especially when traveling in the MoHo.  Lucky for me, Mo is still a great night time driver if need be.

Much of B Loop and part of C Loop are closed for the winter.  We are in A2

We arrived at our site in the A Loop and were delighted to see that most of the row was still empty.  I was relieved to see that unlike our last campsite at Harris Beach, the campfire ring was a decent height.  Mo had loaded up enough wood for four nights of campfires, in spite of the rainy forecast.  After settling in we put on our coats, including Mattie, and braved the inclement but still dry weather to go check out the beach.

It was just a little short walk to the overlook and we managed to walk down the path toward the big rocks before I had to give up.  Steep rocky stuff is out of my range now, especially when wet and slippery. 

Mattie did NOT want to turn around.

The view was great from that spot, and we could see that the beach was almost completely empty.  After walking back to the MoHo we picked up the car and drove down the steep road that leads to the main beach at the park. 

Mattie was in heaven, running wildly the minute there was space for Mo to let her off the leash.  The high tide had brought in some interesting tidbits that someone decided to arrange into a lovely still life that just begged to be photographed. 

Mattie ran and played and climbed rocks, her favorite thing to do other than running wildly in soft sand. 

Back home we settled in with some TV shows cast from the phone and a nice little steak on the BarB as the rain held off a few more hours.  By dark, the rain was coming steadily.  The rain drumming on the roof was as soothing as ever and we slept in much longer than usual the next morning.

We knew that Wednesday, the 16th, was to be the most intense day of the storm and we planned accordingly.  Snuggling in with hot coffee, some news on the TV and cozy sweats we enjoyed the indoor day completely.  I had come fully prepared with all my handmade Christmas cards ready to address and mail.  It was much more fun writing little notes and stuffing the envelopes in the MoHo than it would have been back at home. 

I started making Christmas cards back in the early days of COVID in the late spring.  The most fun is deciding which cards go to which friends.  The worst part of this is that if I make a similar card in the coming years I might not remember who got which ones the last time around.  I guess I need to keep better notes!

It rained all night but the next morning on Thursday the skies had cleared somewhat.  I decided to see if the Brookings Post Office was open and was delighted to find not a single person in the line and a friendly postmaster who checked each of my cards for weight and thickness. 

The skies were clear and beautiful as we piled into the Tracker for the short trip south to Crescent City and our favorite fish and chips restaurant, the Chart RoomWe stood in line with Nickie and Jimmy last September for our outside dining only fish and chips.

It was still outside dining only but the big difference was the weather and the lack of the long line of people waiting to order.  Although the sun was just as brilliant, the air was chilly and we wore coats.  Very few people in line and we had no trouble snagging a nice picnic table with a view.

We decided to check out the beach that we had attempted to visit last September.  At the time, it was too crowded and there was no place to park.  This time there was plenty of parking, but with the high tide coming in quite close there wasn’t much walking room.  We weren’t impressed with this particular beach, actually called Crescent Beach.  The sand is more like dark brown silt and while the surfers are fun to watch, the homeless tents and garbage strewn around was less enjoyable.

After lunch we drove north of town along the coastline to the remote headland trails at Point St. George.  I have written about the amazing historical lighthouse that is just barely visible from this point in a previous story here. There were a few people parked but only a few hikers walking along the beach.  The beach was gorgeous, wide open and clean with big breakers roaring from the high tide to keep us company.

Home again to a lovely evening with the rain holding out long enough that Mo built us a great campfire to enjoy before retreating to the cozy MoHo. As usual, Mattie had to have her own camp chair and blanket for fire time.

Most of the next day was sunny and beautiful with enough time to walk the beaches once again.  We were surprised at how the temperatures moderated after the rain and the winds were almost non existent.  It was a gorgeous day and we enjoyed every minute of it.


Mattie found many mini mountains to climb

For our last night in camp Mo once again built a beautiful campfire and we opened a bottle of champagne to enjoy by the fire and to drink with our truly delicious fish and chips.  It is great when a good dinner is enough to last for two great meals.  I am pretty sure that the Chart Room fish and chips at 14.95 each is one of the tastiest and best deals ever.























Saturday morning dawned gray and foggy once again and we took our time getting ready to leave. Even though we have an RV dump station at home, it is a bit easier to dump right there at Harris Beach.  It is a good dump with a perfect angle for a complete clean dump.  RVr’s will know exactly what I mean.  It is also easy to get to and rarely busy.  It’s the little things that matter when out traveling!

The trip home was uneventful, except for one minor detail.  In Kerby, about 25 miles west of Grants Pass, there is a fair style food booth with hot dogs, hamburgers, curly fries and yes, corn dogs!  Best corn dog I ever ate was at the Albuquerque Balloon Festival in 2019.  Mo said, “Hey, want a corn dog ?”  I didn’t exactly slam on the brakes in the middle of the highway, but I did find a way to turn around and get back there.  Yup…Albuquerque quality corn dog.  Once every year or so isn’t that bad for some truly delicious junk food.  Then again, I might have to be sure to remember that place is there on our next trip to the beach!