Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Florida - Palm Beach Gardens

The boys stayed over at Jaco`s flat in Palm Beach Gardens, glad that his roommate wasn`t there! And of course Marco wasn`t sick any more.  He was so happy to be with his big brother, and enjoyed his flat screen TV and Playstation, and all the new people he could meet. 

We stole moments with Jaco in between his work schedule. He is staying in a flat with 5 other young people from all over the world, in a complex full of a lot of some more young people, and we met every one of them!
We sat on his bed, drinking in every word he said,  laughing  at the familiar mannerisms, and then a huge brown spiky cockroach ran towards my feet! His friends burst out laughing, telling me not to worry, a cockroach is nothing, there is lizards and gecko`s too! I wasn`t at ease and waited, and when the brown spiky figure started crossing over to the other side of the room, I helped him with a crunching sound to cross over for ever, with my pink flip flop!
The next morning Johan and I drove to his flat to fetch the boys, but I had other plans! I had to see if there was more unwelcome guests in my son`s bedroom! I had the whole apartment in a roll! Where is the dust bins, where is the cloths, where is the vacuum cleaner? Poor Shaun didn`t work that morning, and had to look for everything! I scrubbed and cleaned just to make sure the next cockroach is going to pass this room for the next week! 

 When Jaco came home that evening after work, he wasn`t surprised of course, just gave me a hug, and smiled…

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oak Park, Ventura.

I did found out what is Presidents Day, and it is not with the apostrophe! It is an official holiday, celebrating George Washington the first president of the United States. On this day especially car dealers have a lot of special sales, but even other businesses are doing the same now. It seems like only the RV Parks and the airline tickets increase for his birthday…

Too fast our time was running out!  Oak Park, was where we found a spot, to stay for the night with a big camp fire going. It was so good not to shiver from the cold any more. 

We met Drew, the ranger the next morning with his cheerful voice and heartwarming handshake. When he heard we were from South-Africa, he was thrilled, because they do not get a lot of those around there.

We said goodbye, with a lot of pencils for Marco and stickers, and magazines for Joe and me. He asked me to complete a questionnaire for the County Parks,  which I did, very thoroughly of course, in the Mac Donalds nearby.  Mac Donalds coffee not too bad (not South Africa Wimpy coffee) but wifi for free.

 After travelling for a whole month through three states, camping at RV parks every night, I definitely could come up with a couple of suggestions, and I ended up adding a letter to the questionnaire!
The drive from San Fransisco to Los Angeles was lovely. We drove passed orchids, vineyards and agricultural farms. I could smell the freshly ploughed soil, being prepared for a new year, and it touched the farm girl in me.....and then Hollywood, Beverley Hills, Rodeo street and, and ........... LA at its best !!!

Los Angeles…ended where we started!

A good friend of us, Paul Badenhorst, from Pro Yacht Deliveries, always says. ‘If it started, it has to end, good things end, bad things end…’ (He is a professional Yacht Delivery Skipper and also keep a blog of his travels - just click on Pro Yacht Deliveries. He is busy with a delivery from Cape Town to Tahiti at this stage and reported some bad weather last night on his blog, they are between Trinidad and the Panama Canal). 

We decided to end our good journey in California, with the place where we started, almost a month ago, Malibu! We booked into the RV Park for two nights, and enjoyed just being there.

The boys played ping pong, we walked on the beach, collecting illegal Malibu mussles, and started organizing the suitcases!

Four months of traveling, with a sea anchor and a barbeque and all the electronics and a lot of other Catlyn goodies had to find their way into four bags, of 50lb each, and the rest we tried to conceal in our hand luggage. 

We were packed and ready to say goodbye to our ‘Beast’, and we waited for the yellow cab to take us to LAX Airport.  We had to wait from 16h00 to 20h00 before we were booked in and on the JETBLUE plane to Fort Lauderdale!

 Marco was feeling lousy and was running a temperature. After all the cold and snow, no one got sick, but as soon as we took of our jackets, enjoying the warmth, he was sick! But he promised that he will be well the day after tomorrow, as soon as he saw his big brother, Jaco!
The plane took off at 22h00, and the flight to Fort Lauderdale was 3 hours and twenty something minutes, but we landed more than six hours later, around 06h30. No sleep for the night! Johan got our rental, Ford Taurus, a nice car, with a boot big enough for all our luggage. We were searched from top to bottom on the Airport. We lost two bottles of sealed wine, and Johan had to take a couple of long gulps from the whiskey bottle, and Marco`s Monopoly was scrutinized, but all of that was now forgotten. We were so tired and anxious to get to the hotel! I saw a bit of Fort Lauderdale, the huge houses, all the yachts, the immaculate gardens fighting against the sleep.  We reached the Best Western Hotel, at about 10h30 dreaming about a hot bath and a clean sheet bed! Only to find out that we can only get our room at 15h00! We ended up in Denny`s for breakfast, and Joe feasted on their unlimited flapjacks for 2US$. It was still a long way from three!  The car was hot and uncomfortable, the malls tiring, but eventually I couldn`t wait any longer. I found out our allocated room number, and started searching for the cleaning girl, only to find out that she wasn`t even aware that we are waiting, and she was casually going about her own route! I begged her to do our room next, and we ended up in a clean fresh room just before 15h00! If only I had done that earlier…

The hours dragged along to 22h00, when Jaco finished work. No one could sleep, we were just too excited! And when 22h00 came, we saw him in the dark, on his skate board, showing us the way to the flat. It was as if we`ve seen him just yesterday! We laughed and cried and hugged…

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Presidents Day

I still want to find out what is President`s Day!  We had two packets of mix me easy cake, so we celebrated the day, with chocolate cake for breakfast and lunch! The cities with all the cars and all the people are intimidating, and we try to get out of it as soon as we can. The drive to Monterey is lovely, with the vineyards and strawberry farms and artichokes standing proudly on the stalks. I am sure during summer it is green, but there was a beauty in the vineyards, being brown and all dried up.

We knew that our time is running out in California. It is time to fly to Miami area to go and visit Jaco, our son, who works at Palm Beach Gardens at the BallenIsles Country Club. A week ago, we thought of booking tickets, but you know how it is… In the parking lot of the Visitor Centre in Monterey, we boiled the kettle, and enjoyed a piece of President`s Cake, while searching the Net for tickets. To our surprise even the prices of the tickets jumped from about 140US$ to 600US$ per person! We had to get to a Flight Centre for help! Luckily there was one a couple of desperate blocks away, and the angels were smiling on us, giving us four tickets to our son, for about 125 US$ pp! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

We drove off through the Carmel valley, the winey road through the Los Padres Natural Forest, and loved the chipmunks running around the fields. What a beautiful drive through some more wineries to Greenfield, and  King City, where we ended the day with a barbeque in the County Park.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Point Reyes to San Fransisco

I had some post cards to mail, and found a post office at Point Reyes, a lovely little town, with a friendly jeweler, selling a diamond ring to a man, while telling me about his town. The car repair shop, full of oil and grime was being eyed bt the watchful elk horns, and the lady in the saddler shop said ‘hamba kahle’ go well in Zulu, to us!

On our way through National Reyes Seashore we bought oysters and mussels next to the road at Hog Islands Oyster Company, sweet water ones, and Joe and I had to sample different oysters, without black pepper or Tabasco, before breakfast! You have to understand that I am only eating one or maybe two with a push, and Joe only recently started, so this was really testing our taste buds. But after the girl gave me one to sample and another one, while looking at Joe`s smug look, I had to get him to have one too! Thank goodness Johan came to our rescue to sample the rest….

We drove until we found highway 1, and then we saw it! The sea! Home! How we missed it! After three weeks in our RV, it was so good to see the ocean again, and to smell the salty air! It was warm, and we could take off our jackets.

 At last we will be able to take photos of ourselves again. Johan refused to put photos of us on the blog any more….me and my grey jersey and red jacket, him in his yellow or grey sweater, Joe….etc.

San Fransisco!  We had to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge! Too soon it was over, and we were in a big city. We heard over the radio that it was a long weekend, President`s Day, and soon found out that the fees to the RV Parks, increased from 35US$ to 70US$! Luckily the State Parks didn`t increase their fees, and we found a site at New Brighton State Park.

View from our Campsite

We strolled down the beach....

to enjoy a different kind of 'beach houses' than in our previous campsite...

All was forgotten when we munched down on the oysters with black pepper and a chili hot sauce, and the black mussels in a white wine and cream sauce….just the way Johan can make it!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Jelly Belly factory

We said good bye to Nola and Angels Camp with fresh smelling clothes, and all the time Marco was on the lookout for the Jelly Belly Factory!

At last we saw the colorful signage, inviting us to the free tour. It is absolutely worth your while, even if you do not have a sweet tooth. Marco will soon tell you about the tour on his pages.

We passed all the beautiful towns, on our way to the Napa Valley, where we fueled up this thirsty Beast.  We met a guy at the, Fairgrounds of Napa, can you believe it? But they were charging such a lot of dollars, and the Camp Host could see our disgust, and guided us to another camping site some miles away. We were off to Tomalis Bay, trusting this guy absolutely. We found Dillan Beach in the dark and entered this camping site, with cattle roaming the ‘ Do not enter’ areas, following a very dodgy road.  We were slightly hysterical, driving around through this area. Trailer Trash, was the first word coming to our minds, just like Geoff Dunham!
Photo taken the next morning

 When we saw the little signage…beware of pick pocketers and loose women….  We knew that this is another story!
Photo taken next morning
 Eventually we found some RV`s parked on the other side and with a sigh of relief we found a spot! Still giggling we fell asleep, to wake up the next morning, eager to explore our vicinity! We were in Tomalis Bay, so beautiful.

And Joe and I walked the other side of the park to the trailers, enjoying the ‘beach houses’ of some.
Marco found some girls who found an abandoned baby seal, and together they waited for the SPCA to come and fetch the little seal, who cried the whole night of hunger.
But I found a Beach House for us…one day…

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Explorer RV

Apollo RV Rentals. We used this website for our booking and paid less than the price quoted on all the individual RV Rental companies own websites. Internet is soooo gooood :  http://rvrentalsalefinder.com/

I think it is time to introduce you to our Beast! We had a great time, living in her for a whole month. I think it helped that we are used to living on our Yacht Catlyn, with small spaces. We cooked good food, played card games and monopoly, slept well, and even Johan got used to driving this Beast through challenging roads.

Cost effective? I will give a whole recon on that soon with Johan`s help.

If you do travel with a RV bigger than our 21ft, there are certain restrictions in some Nature Parks, which we weren`t aware of, but luckily it didn`t affect us.

We are inviting you into our home now....

Valentine`s Day!

Taunya said...

Oh wow! Now you are up by my home town. I grew up in Mariposa California. And if you are going through there, you should stop at their little museum, where they will actually let you handle many of the old artifacts.
Are you heading to Oregon at all? We'd love to meet you - we've really enjoyed reading your adventures!

Hi Taunya,
We enjoyed your liitle hometown, but unfortunatley the Museum was closed.
Oregon?  Next time we'll make sure to pop in, and meet you guys. You always know where we are to come say hallo!
Marlene and crew

My Valentine`s Day started waking up in the Mariposa Fairgrounds camping ground. Silly us, thought it is only the name of the RV Camp, only to wake up the next morning among the sheds and exhibit halls and cattle cages! But after quite a walk in the pitch dark, because we were the only lonely RV in the grounds, we found lovely hot showers!

We left Mariposa, meaning butterfly in Spanish, and still had to decide whether we are going to drive back for 100 miles to an Agricultural show, in Tulare, the biggest in the world or carry on. Johan was tempted on going to Tulare, for the sake of my farmer brother in South-Africa, but after flipping a coin, we were heading north!

Coulterville was the next little town inviting us, and I received a cherry chocolate from the girl over the counter. We ended in the most beautiful hotel, Historic Hotel Jeffery, http://www.hoteljefferey.com/.

The doors opened and a fat lazy white cat on the couch just lifted her head very slowly to eye the new guests.

Suddenly we were shoved back to 1851, the estimated date for this hotel. I stood in front of the oldest photo in town, 1899.

The men dressed in their felt hats were hanging around the same counter, polished to a sheen, the one I was leaning on. The brass hooks for the napkins were still there, for the white napkins they used to wipe the froth of the beer from their moustaches.

 It was as if you could still hear their loud laughter, and we decided to stay for a refill coffee and a delicious hamburger and huge flavor onion rings.

We had to see the hotel and the rooms, and when we could phone each other from the old telephones, they nearly had us booking into a hotel room!

I took the photos of the rooms for my friend Anette Burden with her beautiful Lodge Casa Toscana in Pretoria, South Africa.

 Don`t miss out on one of the most historical experiences when you are close by.

The old rooms reminded me of the old town beauty of her place. I wonder if she has a haunted room? Hotel Jefferey has a room 21! A young girl engaged to a young man, hanged herself in this room after her fiancĂ© broke off the engagement. I went into the room, ready to soothe the young girl and to give her good motherly advice, like I am the best, but she wasn`t around…this time. Follow the link to the hotel's Paranormal activity page...

I met Vicky and her lovely staff, and she told Marco not to miss the Jelly Belly factory on our way! She and her husband are also running a motorcycle road tour operation, helping you to a great time on two wheels! Are you ready to ride? Contact them a http://www.motorcycleroadtours.com/

A turkey vulture flying above our RV, showed us the way to the next gold rush town, Columbia.

And there we met a family. A very poor family, looking for gold. The poor mother was missing her children so far away, and I could see the pain in her eyes. But I could also see the bend back of the father, trying to make a living shaking the gold pans, looking and hoping for a nugget. And the smug young boy, thinking that he has found the gold, only to let down his little brother with no hope of ever having a Nintendo!

We left them, to live the life they chose, and went exploring the Caverns of Mercer. Mr. Mercer sat underneath a tree, many years ago, and felt a cold breeze coming from the ground, and after investigating he stumbled into the caverns. Marco enjoyed, pretending to be a spelunker, but to me it was quite average!

The rest of the road to Angels Camp, was absolutely beautiful. Angels Camp RV & Camping Resort, Nola Rasberry, the manager, was so wonderful. After being in a RV for so long it felt a little bit like coming home! The boys got a basketball, to shoot at the net.

We threw the horse shoes to the pole…what do you call that game? The restrooms had frilly and girly curtains. The rescued Emu was trying to play with us, and for Valentine, I got a laundrette!

After dinner I bundled all the males, to stay in the camper shedding all their clothes, and I was having a good time, washing and drying all our clothes to freshness! Happy Clean Valentine`s Day to me!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Yosemite, John Muir and Marco.

John Muir once wrote...

As long as I live, I'll hear
waterfalls and birds and
winds sing. I'll interpret the
rocks, learn the language of
flood, storm and the avalanche.
I'll acquaint myself with the
glaciers and wild gardens and
get as near the heart of the
world as I can.

And last night Marco wrote......

please go to his page...


I thought I left behind something so spectacularly special, to only reach Yosemite National Park! We left Sequoia and enjoyed the little towns. All the little towns were touched by the rush to find gold many years ago. And here we were, on our way to find our gold! We entered the Park at Wawona entrance. All around us were Sequioa trees, but not us big as the ones we saw in the Sequoia National Park.

We popped into the Badger Pass Ski Resort, and the boys were disappointed not being able to ski again.
 We slowly went down into the valley, and even that was done very carefully. I am sure Johan was happy to get rid of us for a while, to take a couple of deep breaths, and dropped us at some trails. We loved the Bridalveil Falls on our way down to the Yosemite village, and I told them about the Indian belief that the fall is haunted, because it caused the death of a young girl. I told them about the two rock climbers who recently climbed the fall, only to experience the mysterious forces of the water changing direction swirling over them and nearly drowning one of them!

Yosemite Valley with the Bridalveil Falls to the right

We enjoyed the meadows, and the trail to the 5th highest waterfall in the world, the Yosemite Fall, and stood amazed to witness the glacial erosion of many many, years ago.

Marco, always on the look out for sticks and stones found his stick in the meadow, playing in the grass. I foud a little lodge hidden against the granite rocks, the Sierra Club leConte Memorial Lodge, and I promised myself to return to share this beauty again with Johan in this quaint grey lodge.

Walking Trial to Yosemite Falls

Johan was a concerned man! He saw the white puffy clouds high up the mountains, as if he is still sailing and watching the weather! But alas! His concerns wasn`t unnessesary, the Visitor Centre informed him that they were expecting rain and snow tonight with wind and more snow the next day! What do we know about driving a RV on a snowy icy road? All of a sudden we saw signs of snow chains on wheels, and started worrying. When we reached the camp site Joe went over to a couple that looked like locals in a tent. If they can be here with a tent...Around our camp fire Alfred and Irma assured us that even if it snows the roads are ploughed clean within a day or two, so we need not worry. Joe and I went to look for a Ranger for a double check, and found Jim, who also assured us, that we will be ok if the roads are scraped.

So we heated a bottle of wine and enjoyed the moment of looking forward to our first snow falling from the sky! Marco was extatic!
That is when I found out about the Bears! On the Rangers little office wall I saw photos taken of the Black Bear ripping open cooler boxes, a Black Bear inside a truck trying to get to the smell of food! During 2011,
112 incidents were reported of seeing or contacting bears, and 17 were hit by traffic, luckily none was killed.

The boys enjoyed it when the two French girls came over, worried about the bears, having an excuse to go over to comfort them and to play cards!

Marco was proud bringing his daddy a little ice cube for his whiskey!
 We fell asleep with the flip flop of snow coming down on us, and louder flops when they became too heavy for the branches of the trees.  We woke up in white!

For the first time we didn`t have to threaten Joe and Marco out of their warm beds! They were outside playing, throwing, tasting, smelling and Marco examined the snow flakes under his microscope, his gift from Richard and Jennifer in NZ.

Alfred and Irma, the morning after

Jim and the boys
 We were in a paradise of white! We walked around with our feet sinking in the snow, making little crunching noises, and when the Ranger, Jim saw us, he just smiled. "We ordered just enough snow last night for you guys" he said, while looking at my bare hands, and in his office he found two pairs of gloves for Johan and me!

The Visitor Centre was showing a movie about Yosemite, and how it was formed, and we sat in the theatre with goose flesh, watching the glacial miracle taking place.

 Outside we walked around the Indian Village, and saw the sweat room where they saunaed before a hunt to strengthen them, we saw the round building for special ceremonies, and relived a little bit of their lives in their tents.

The white clouds were thick and heavy above and every now and then the snow came down. We left our snow man at the foot of the Yosemite Falls, and knew it was time to go!

One last stop, just to look at another waterfall (Cascades). Marco stayed in the RV, and Johan and I only climbed over the rocks for a little while to get a good view. Joe had to get closer for a good photo! He left us behind, slowly making our way back for a hot cup of coffee. I asked him if I could share this with you...

He climbed over the rocks and close to the foot of the fall, a big rock too high to climb was right in front of him. He positioned his camera, because he knew he wouldn`t be able to go any further. While taking a video he saw the faint shadowy figure of a women, but as soon as he peeked over the camera lens, there was nothing. He could see the figure moving slowly towards him, but when it started to rain he knew that it was time to go back. Check out the video when he publish it soon. When we did afterwards, we could actually see three figures moving slowly...