Groovy – How We Came to Own a Sailboat

Sail blog post - When a very GROOVY sailboat came up for sail in San Diego, we flew back from the Caribbean in a hurry to make her ours.

A cool boat pops up for sale in San Diego

s/v Groovy liveaboard cruising & sailing

It looks clean...

s/v Groovy liveaboard cruising sailing

...and inviting

Leaving St. Vincent & The Grenadines and heading for St. Lucia

Leaving St. Vincent headed for St. Lucia

JKF Airport

New Year's Eve on the conveyor belt at JFK airport

s/v Groovy sea trial

Sea trial of the cool boat...

s/v Groovy haulout

...suspending it for a while...

s/v Groovy survey

...and having the surveyor tap the hull to check

out its integrity.

San Diego bird of paradise flower

San Diego gives us a warm


Sea Dragon urban tree in San Diego, CA

"Sea Dragon," one of San

Diego's Urban Trees, greets

us at Seaport Village.

Seaport Village, San Diego California

A mom captures herself and

kiddies in a self-portrait

s/v Groovy Seaport Village, San Diego, CA

This fellow was balancing rocks

in impossible positions.

Hot Licks has every hot sauce

known to man.

A retired Navy officer shares

tales of war on the high seas

The Bob Hope commemorative statue park.

Segway lessons.

sv Groovy ready for us to take delivery

Back on the boat it was time to take delivery.

s/v Groovy delivery

Offshore delivery involves proving that the boat

was signed over from seller to buyer "offshore"

sv Groovy liveaboard cruising sailing

The seller's captain signs off.

s/v Groovy liveaboard cruising sailing

Groovy is officially ours... What did we just do??

SV Groovy liveaboard cruising sailing

Proud new owners

For two weeks we call Kona Kai marina home.

Surfin' community Ocean Beach

sports a lot of funk.

Surfin' hamburgers

A street musician entertains us

at Ocean Beach

Now that's a coffee kiosk!

s/v Groovy becomes our liveaboard home

Prepping for our sail to Mexico.

sv Groovy sails like a dream

Our test sails are a blast.

A schooner slips past in the distance

s/v Groovy - just a groovy boat

The sun feels good. Hard to believe we

were in short sleeves a few days ago.

sv Groovy - our wonderful Hunter sailboat

A happy family moment as the desert dwellers take to the sea.

A New Chapter:  Groovy

January, 2010 - I have mentioned John Lennon's insight that "life is what

happens to you while you are busy making other plans" elsewhere on

these pages, and once again, while in Carriacou, those words proved so

true for us.  I have long had a dream of going cruising in a sailboat and

have gradually lured Mark into this dream.  His response has ranged from

all smiles to the rare bout of kicking and screaming, but he finally agreed

to purchase a boat a year ago.

The boat buying process left us so stressed out last May that we got into a

fender bender with the trailer in California and ended up touring Michigan

by car and motel for seven weeks while the trailer was repaired and while

we decompressed.

We returned to the

trailer determined to let the boat idea slide for a while, but found ourselves

glued to Yachtworld, the online MLS for boats.  Every time we got online to

check for email, no matter where in the world we were, we did a quick check of

Yachtworld too.

When we went to the Caribbean for the winter we vowed not to look at

Yachtworld any more.  But one afternoon, while sitting out on our balcony,

Mark slipped up and took a quick peak.  "Wow!  Look at this!" He jumped out of

his patio chair.  A boat we had seen for sale almost a year earlier was back on

the market, but this time hugely discounted as a foreclosure.  I shrugged it off.

It would be gone by the time we got back to the States.  But over the next few

days, Mark wouldn't let it go. The bank had an online bid form, and one afternoon

Mark entered a bid. "Sweety, what do you think of this?" He asked as he went to take

a shower. Aw heck, that was much too high! I lowered his number by $10k and clicked Send. 30 minutes later we got an email

saying the bank had "respectfully" countered our offer by $1,500. Holy cow! Now what?? Dash away from paradise to the hurly

burly of buying our dream boat for an amazing price in the middle of winter, with the very real chance that things could go awry

and leave us empty-handed, or stay on swimming and walking and

mixing with the locals on the white sand beaches of the Caribbean?

While casting about for an answer, discussing our options, reasons,

hopes and fears endlessly, Mark woke up one day with Simon and

Garfunckle's song Feelin' Groovy running through his mind.  He had

been coming up with prospective names for boats on a sometimes

hourly basis for the past two years, to the point where it became a

comical game for both of us, but none of the names ever stuck.

However, when he rolled over that morning and said, "We should name

the boat 'Groovy'," we both knew we would be owners of a new boat.

New Year's Eve found us flying out of St. Vincent, staring down at the

turquoise sea dotted with little white sailboats, wondering if we would

truly be out there joining them soon or if we were totally out of our minds to be leaving.  The long holiday weekend was a crazy one

for international travel, and especially for last minute ticket purchases.  Starting with the hike from our Bequia apartment to the ferry

boat, then on to the St. Vincent bus ride across town to catch a small inter-island flight to St. Lucia, followed by an hour-and-a-half

taxi ride over that island's mountainous interior to its bigger airport, and finally hopping on three jet flights that bounced up the

Caribbean chain and across the US to San Diego, we were in transit for

a total of 33 hours.

Because a terrorist had tried to bomb a flight to Detroit on Christmas

day, security was extraordinary.  Apparently St. Lucia is a "country of

interest," so not only were we patted down and each of our carry-on

bags hand-searched when we entered the St. Lucia terminal, but all

passengers were patted down and every pocket of every piece of

luggage searched a second time as we all boarded the plane.  It took

two hours to get everyone aboard, and we, of course, were the last ones

on.  The gazillion TSA agents were high-fiving each other as we left their

clutches, the final plane of the day.  They were oh-so-ready to celebrate

New Year's Eve island style.  We rang in the new year at New York's JFK

airport a few hours later, while standing in line at Customs.  Back on

American soil, we snagged some blankets and pillows from the plane

and bedded down on a nice, comfy, secluded conveyor belt in the terminal to await our morning

flight to California.

Once we arrived in San Diego, we went

straight to the boat to check it out. It was

just as cool a boat as it looked in the

photos.  It is a 2008 Hunter 44DS (44'

long), the last unit of that model ever built.

After crawling through many many boats

over the past four years, we had decided a

year ago that this was the exact make and

model we wanted. 

What incredible good fortune.

Boat purchases involve a "sea trial" and "survey" which are something like a test

drive and home inspection, but you must reach a price agreement with the seller

before either can take place.  For the survey, a professional examines the boat

very carefully, checking all the systems and hauling it out of the water for a look at

the bottom.  Groggy from lack of sleep, jet lag, and still wondering if we were doing

the right thing, we were both ecstatic as we took turns at the helm on the way to the

boat yard.  Our surveyor

studied every inch of the boat

for a full day, tapping the hull

with his hammer to check for

problems and making endless

notes on his clipboard.  In the

end he declared it the cleanest

survey he had ever done.

Wow.  Gorgeous weather greeted us and

our spirits rose higher and higher -- even

as fear gripped our souls because this was

such a big move for us.  We were glad it

was shorts weather, as all we had with us

was tropical-wear and airport-wear.

Everything else was in Phoenix.  We

stayed with our son and daughter-in-law and took some time

out to explore Seaport Village with them and catch our breath.

This area was as charming as we remembered it being a year

ago.  Families were wandering through the boutique stores,

enjoying the last bit of the holiday break

together.  We spotted a mom with her two kids

getting a picture of themselves with their cell


A little further on a man was demonstrating

rock balancing, placing rocks in impossible

positions on top of each other and

miraculously willing them not to fall down.  He

claimed there were no tricks or gimmicks, but

how he could sense where the balance point

was of each rock was beyond me.

The boutiques were all well stocked with their

Christmas goods and the paths were

meticulously maintained.  There is something

ever-friendly and ever-accessible about the

San Diego waterfront.  We stopped at Hot

Licks, a store with a dizzying array of hot sauces lining every


Down at the Midway Aircraft Carrier museum a retired Naval

officer told stories of various ships and their adventures on the

high seas long ago.

A group of statues nearby commemorates Bob Hope's many

USO performances, and a little girl wandered among the

statues, carefully checking out each one.

You never know what you'll find on the San Diego waterfront,

and as we strolled a little further we came across a group

Segway lesson.  Those contraptions look like so much fun.

A few days later all the pieces were in place for us to close on the boat.

A mad dash to Phoenix had augmented our clothes collection so we

could handle the weather that was becoming increasingly cool and

damp.  At the same time we had had to stand in the trailer and decide whether to take the kitchen tools, favorite books, bedding,

etc. or buy new things for the boat.  Our plan was to split our time between RVing in the US/Canada and sailing in Mexico, hitting

the prime summer spots on land with the trailer during the southern Mexican hurricane season.  So we didn't want to raid too much

from the trailer.  But did this new move really mean stocking two homes?  What about tools?  Hoses?  Holding tank chemicals?

Personal papers?  We had planned to stay on the boat for the first twelve months before we started splitting our time between

RVing and sailing.  So were we really saying goodbye to the trailer for a year?  Yikes!  We loaded the truck and sped back to San

Diego in time to sign all the paperwork, sticking with the tasks at hand to keep all

these wild emotions in check.

Since our intent was to use the boat outside of California (in Mexico), we

qualified for the state exemption from paying "use tax" (similar to sales tax) on

the purchase.  However, California (like all other coastal states) has strict rules

that state precisely how a boat buyer demonstrates his/her intent to use the boat

predominantly outside of the state.  One of these is to take the boat out of

California waters for the closing.  This is just 3 miles offshore, but requires a

captain to sail the boat until the closing takes place, and then lots of photos

proving both the day's date and that the boat is at a GPS coordinate outside of

the state when the documents are signed.  We had especially memorable

headlines on the newspaper that day, as an earthquake had just devastated


This was an exciting moment and was our first extended period of time out in the boat on the

water.  It was great to be out there, but we both felt woefully inadequate to take charge of

this vessel all by ourselves.  Our next trip out there would be no guiding hand, and we

wondered how we would fare.

Once back at the dock, we hung out in the cabin in a state of disbelief.  We had done it.

Fourteen days from the time we left the islands, we were sitting on our own boat.

Were we out of our minds?

The seller was kind enough to pre-pay a two week stay at Kona

Marina in San Diego, one of the nicest marinas in the harbor.

We had spent many happy hours in the past sneaking onto this marina's docks and then wandering

around checking out all the boats and talking to the

owners.  It was a strange and wonderful feeling to

have a card key to the gate and to walk onto the

docks as bona-fide boat owners.

We had signed our names on the closing

documents, but there was still a lot more to do.

The second part of California's requirement for

demonstrating intent to use your new boat outside

of California is to leave the state as soon as

possible after the closing and to stay out for at

least six months.  We decided to sail to Ensenada,

Mexico, 65 miles south of San Diego.

Our to-do list to prepare for this international

voyage was several pages long.  From a

small sail repair to testing the radar

to remembering how to sail and

navigate, we had a lot to do to

make this easy 65 mile trip a safe


Taking a little time out, we explored

nearby Ocean Beach.  This is a

surfing community that has a hippy

kind of air to it, and it's a place

where it seems that anything goes.

A little dog in a froo-froo dress fit

right in.

Surfing, hamburgers in paradise and cheap

beers at outdoor bars overlooking the beach

invite all tourists to partake of the classic

California beach scene for a while.

A street musician sang his heart out as we

strolled by.

Pirate's Cove Coffee is the most elaborate

coffee kiosk I have ever seen.

Back on the boat we were slowly getting used

to the idea of being boat owners, living on a

sailboat, and starting a new chapter in our lives.

Out on the water the weather got steadily cooler.  Short sleeves gave way to hats and jackets

as we gradually remembered which lines on the boat do what, how sailboats work with the

wind, and what all those crazy markings on the charts are all about.

Then San Diego got one of the worst dousings of rain

in the last decade.  In one week they got almost as much

rain as they had in the entire previous year.  We

alternated between huddling inside and running endless

errands to the big box stores as the rain fell in torrents.

In a way, all that miserable weather was a blessing in

disguise, as it kept us ticking down our non-sailing to-do

lists.  I read 150 pages of Chapman's Piloting's

navigation chapters to refresh my skills, and Mark read

the chartplotter and radar manual, engine manual and

Hunter's user manual.  When the day finally arrived that

the sun came out, we were able to focus on sailing.

We had one brief family day aboard, taking our son Rory and his wife Colette out for a

day sail.  It was a moment that Mark had long been waiting for, wanting to introduce his

son to the world of sailing.  Rory caught on quickly, and we found it was so much easier

to sail with a strapping young

man on board who could handle

all the lines one-handed without a

winch.  After a pleasant few

hours on the water, we hugged

them goodbye at the dock.  Thirty

hours later we untied the lines at

Kona Marina for the last time,

and left San Diego in the morning

mist behind us as we headed for

Puerto La Salina, Mexico, our

first stop on the way to












































































































San Francisco & LA – The Sailboat Hunt is On!

Emery Cove Yacht Harbor

Emery Cove Yacht Harbor

Hylas 54 yacht

Some peope cruise in high style

Emeryville, California

Unusual flowers in bloom along the shoreline

Emery Cove Yacht Harbor

Extensive beds of ice plant flowers

accompanied us on our walks

Emeryville, San Francisco Bay, California Ventura California

Ventura California coastline

Harbor seal in Ventura Harbor California

A harbor seal teases a gull with a fish he caught

Mentryville Barn

Mentryville barn and chicken coop, built 1890's

Charles Mentry's house

Roses in front of Charles Mentry's house

Oil well equipment

Lizard in Pico Canyon

Butterflies and flowers

Unusual flowers

They were very large

View from one of the peaks

The trail is outlined in rocks

Shams, trail blazer and trail builder

Surrounded by chain link fence til it settles in, this Valley

Oak made the Guinness Book when it was moved 1/4 mile.

Emeryville & Valencia, California

April 18-May 13, 2009 - From Arizona, we ran up and down the

coast of California in mad pursuit of a sailboat.  We were driven

by the vision of a dream that had been developing for many

months:  traveling with our trailer each summer, as we have

been, and traveling by sailboat in the tropics each winter.

We're both converted desert rats, most recently from Phoenix, Arizona, and

we like it warm.  How warm?  A fellow once told me he turns on the air

conditioning in his rig when the indoor temperature hits 79 degrees.  For us,

that's when we start getting really comfortable.  Our a/c doesn't go on until it

hits 90.

We have struggled to find a warm, uncrowded place to wander during each

of our two winters of fulltiming.  We have ranged between southern Arizona

and Florida, but have done too much shivering.  We aren't alone in this

quandary.  When fulltimers meet each other, one of the first questions they

always ask is:  where do you spend the winter?  At first I didn't understand

why the seasoned veterans kept asking us that question, but now, after

wearing way too many layers for two winters, I understand.

Cruising in a sailboat

has been a longtime

dream for me, and

Mark has slowly come

to share that dream


However, there are a lot of details to work out.  Shifting between two homes is

not easy, especially when each has to be put in storage for a period of time.

So, as our prospective boat purchases in California fell through, one by one,

this past spring, we tried to be more philosophical than disappointed, taking it

as a sign that we just weren't ready yet.  As we talked through the nuts-and-

bolts of our plan -- getting beyond our dreams of gazing at the scenic mountain

backdrops behind our rig each summer and snorkeling amid eagle rays and

sea turtles alongside our boat each winter -- we realized that our plan was very fuzzy.

This frustrating discovery came to us as we froze our tails off on San Francisco Bay

in May.  It was a bitter surprise to find that the Bay Area rarely gets much above 60

degrees at that time of year, and we got several weeks of almost daily rain to boot.

We got to know the tiny Emeryville peninsula on the east bay next to Oakland quite

well.  It is the one sliver of beauty in an otherwise industrial landscape of smoke

stacks, snarled traffic and congested urban living.

The marina there has an

interesting array of boats,

and we enjoyed getting to

know some of the

liveaboards who make it

their home.  Those folks

are some sturdy stock, as

the wind blew at 25-30

mph every day across the

bay, the fog and dark

skies hung around relentlessly, and the cold was that bone-chilling kind

whose icy fingers sneak past any and all layers of clothing you put on.

One retired couple had lived on their boat in the Bay for 17 years.

We took many walks, jogs and bike rides around the area, and

especially enjoyed the pink flowers on the ice plants that were in

bloom during our visit.  We left boatless, however, and made our

way down the coast to Ventura.  There we enjoyed a long stroll

along the beach and watched a harbor seal teasing a seagull.  He

had just caught a huge fish, and he repeatedly surfaced with the

fish in his mouth, taunting the gull.  Each time he lured the gull to

approach him, he would duck under the water out of reach.  This

went on for quite a while until the gull finally gave up and flew off.

In a way, we felt like that gull, tantalized by the prospect of a sailing

dream, but taunted by the vicious boat selling industry that barricades it.

We started looking for a boat as wide-eyed innocents to the boat buying

process.  In just a few weeks we got a bath-of-fire introduction to the

cutthroat world of lying, cheating and stealing that is sailboat brokerage

in the Golden State.

The stress of dealing with ruthless, unscrupulous brokers desperate for

a deal in a stalled industry in a failing economy finally got to us, and we

left.  Unfortunately, the stress chased us down I-5, and while turning in

to stop at Pyramid Lake, north of Los Angeles, for the night, the back of

the trailer lightly brushed the guardrail.  The damage didn't look like much,

but upon assessment by RV collision repair specialists in nearby Valencia

(what luck that there was such a place nearby!), it would take 7 weeks to

fix, most of that time spent waiting for parts.

This news took a while to digest.  We stayed in Valencia, north of the Los

Angeles tangle of freeways and insanity, for a few days, deciding what to

do.  We couldn't stay in the trailer once they began the repair work, as

their insurance did not allow it.  However, our insurance gave us some

money for "emergency" hotels.  We took a few day trips around the area

as we mulled over our options and waited for our insurance claim to be


The Valencia area is desert: no fog, hot

days and cool nights.  We hiked up Pico

Canyon, starting at the base in

"Mentryville," a former oil boomtown

founded by Charles Mentry who dug

California's first oil well here.

Some of the old equipment from this

first oil well still stands today.  Oil well Pico #4 was

the longest running oil well in the world when it

was capped (dug in 1876, capped in 1990).  It

was such a success that it prompted the formation of the Pacific

Coast Oil Company that became Standard Oil of CA which was later

acquired by Chevron.

As we hiked up the canyon we passed some

unusual critters and flowers on the way.  The

view at the top was well worth the climb.

As we walked we found the trail was neatly

marked by carefully placed stones.  Someone

had taken great pains to outline the best route

to the top.

Hiking down we met a mountain biker on his way up.  He introduced himself as

Shams, originally from Afghanistan many years ago.  He asked if we'd been to the summit.  Not quite.  He seemed disappointed,

explaining how the very steep section that had stopped us was actually very short and the view beyond that was spectacular.  He

then explained that he had built the trail over the last 14 years, grooming it, creating little stone outlines for the paths, so he and his

son and others would have a nice place to mountain bike.  There's a man who has made the most of his new home.

We drove to another area and saw the most enormous tree.  Standing back to admire it, I

noticed another person taking photographs of it too.

We got talking, and I learned that this tree, a Valley Oak, had been moved 1/4 mile to

make way for a road, and that he, Lee Lumis, had been the horticultural consultant

overseeing the move.  It took 18 months to relocate the tree, and required 126 hydraulic

lifts, 24" I-beams and a 43' diameter box for the root ball.  They had started the project and

then had to wait 6 months when the tree suddenly budded out and couldn't be moved.  He

had rotated it a bit from its original orientation, but it looked truly majestic in its new home.

Even though we were here by accident -- because of an accident -- we could still look at

each other and say, "what a cool area!"  As we gathered our thoughts about how best to

handle the upcoming seven weeks, we finally decided to fly out to Michigan to visit Mark's

family and do some sightseeing in a state we probably would never reach by fifth wheel.




























































San Diego – Magical Seaport Village

Kona Kai Marina San Diego California

Kona Kai Marina

Shelter Island San Diego California

Pelican resting

Bird sculpture Old Town San Diego CA

Bird sculpture

Bike sculpture Old Town San Diego CA

Bike sculpture

Bottlenose Dolphin sculpture Old Town San Diego CA

Bottlenose Dolphin Sculpture

Kaleidescope sculpture Old Town San Diego CA

Kaleidoscope Interactive Sculpture

Maritime Museum San Diego

Historical Maritime Museum Ship

Star of India San Diego, CA

Marlin leaps across the Star of India's bow.

Street Performer, San Diego, CA

Street performing sculpture jumps

to life as we pass.

Bicycle sculpture San Diego CA

Bikes are an important part of San

Diego culture

Pedalcab in San Diego

Pedalcabs cruise the boardwalks along the water.

World War II Memorial San Diego CA

Mark and I mimic the famous WWII

victory sculpture.

Seaport Village Street Vendors San Diego CA

Tourists learn their fortunes from a psychic.

Seaport Village San Diego CA

Another street vendor offers parrot

cuddling for donations.

Ahh... I get one of several bird fixes during my San

Diego visit.

San Diego waterfront

San Diego -- what a city!

San Diego Boat Show

Beneteaus line the entrance to the boat show.

San Diego Boat Show

Yeah, I could live here!

San Diego Boat Show

Familiar but a little different than our fifth wheel.

San Diego Boat Show

Not bad for living aboard.

Shelter Island San Diego CA

An Umbrella Cockatoo peers down at me from a

swaying palm.

Shelter Island San Diego CA

Dave takes his cockatoo out for a

fly in the late afternoon.

Shelter Island San Diego CA

She loves every minute of her freedom.

Kona Kai Marina San Diego CA

Bird of Paradise flower.

San Diego Harbor

Good night fun, vibrant city.

Seaport Village & Boat Show, San Diego, CA

January, 2009 - We snuck away from the Arizona Desert and all the

holiday parties and good cheer and took a quick trip back to San Diego

for the annual January sailboat show.  We had had such a good time

there in October (Shelter Island and Mission Bay) that we wondered

if it would still be as nice.  Sure enough, as we pulled onto Shelter

Island, all the warm vibes we had felt in this spirited town came back.

It was bright and sunny, warm enough for shorts, and we were

surprised to recognize all the RVs lined up on the waterfront.  No one

had left!

We took our place among

them and quickly hopped

on our bikes to check out

all our old favorite haunts.

Not too much had changed

-- Kona Kai Marina was as

graceful as before, the pelicans still roosted and floated, soared and dove as they had

before, and the Navy jets and cruise ships and people walking their dogs and sailboats

criss-crossing the harbor still provided a kaleidoscopic backdrop to life on the


The boat show was way down at the other end of San Diego, and for the first time we

rode our bikes over to Seaport Village.  It is a six mile ride along the bike paths and

walking trails, and it brings you all the way around the harbor through the historic Old

Town.  This is an outdoor city that comes alive in the sunshine.  There is a series of

charming sculptures along this boardwalk.  I liked the bird sculpture and Mark liked the

wild-haired cyclist.

There was a lot of whimsy in

these sculptures, and one was

called "Bottlenose Dolphins" and

featured blue glass bottles on the

noses of the dolphins.  Another

was a giant kaleidoscope that

had lots of hand cranks and

beautiful colors when you peered

through it.

There is an extensive historical

maritime museum featuring

several ships of different eras

that are tied up at the docks for

tourists to walk through.  A

glistening, iridescent statue of a

marlin appeared to leap out of the

waves across the bow of the Star

of India ship behind.

Street performers and vendors of

all kinds line the boardwalks and

grassy areas, giving the city a

friendly, funky air.  One

apparently simple silver statue of

a man in a suit suddenly came to

life and made a face at us as we

rode by.

The boardwalks and paths are ideal for biking.

To see it all would make for a very long walk,

but taken slowly on a bike you can enjoy

everything that Old Town and Seaport Village

have to offer.  Along with the cycling statue we

saw earlier, there were other sculptural

references to bikes along the boardwalk.

Many tourists opt for a ride in a pedal-cab, and

we passed lots of these energetic cabbies toting

passengers all over the place.

Around one corner we came face

to face with a sculptural

representation of the famed WWII

photo of a sailor kissing a nurse

upon the victory of the Allies.  We

couldn't resist mimicking the

smooch, and found a friendly

fellow to take our picture.  He and

his large extended family of wife,

kids, parents and others all got a

huge laugh as we tried to get

ourselves situated just right and

asked him to re-take the photo

several times.

If you have something to sell or share with tourists, it

seems that the vending space is available.  A psychic

found a lovely spot for her umbrella-shaded table under

a tree, and another man brought out his collection of

parrots for people to play with, in hopes of a donation.  I

got my bird fix!

I lived on the Boston waterfront

in a sailboat for four years, but

beautiful as that city is, there is no comparison to San Diego for

warmth of spirit and oceanside magic.  San Diego harbor is

completely accessible to everyone.  Simply stroll along the water's

edge and you are thrust into the midst of the harbor's vibrant

energy.  There are many marinas, and a boat owner can choose

to be situated right among the sky scraping posh hotels downtown,

or over in the more suburban and natural atmosphere of Shelter


We finally made it to the boat show, our hearts filled with

satisfaction already.  As usual, it was a blast.  All the boats were

beautiful, and it was easy to dream, along with all the other show-

goers, as we waltzed on and off these lovely yachts.  After living in

the confines of a trailer for a 20 months, it was amusing to stand in

each of the boats' cabins and compare the layouts.

Back on Shelter Island we heard the strangest sound coming from the trees.  I thought it must

be a young gull that was sick.  It was an insistent call, higher pitched than a gull, but with a

similar volume.  We walked around the parking lot craning our necks as we stared into the trees.

Then I spotted it -- an Umbrella Cockatoo!  She was

clinging to the branches of a palm tree, swinging up and

down, calling out in sheer glee.

I would have been totally stunned to see her there if I

hadn't heard earlier about "The Bird Man" who lived in a

motorhome along the street.  We were told he would

sometimes free fly his cockatoo in the late afternoons.

At last we would have a chance to meet him!  Dave

showed up on his bike, and after a few minutes his

cockatoo "Bubbi" flew down and landed on his shoulder.

She clucked in his ear and walked down his arm, beak-

by-toe as parrots do, until she was settled on his bike


I was entranced.  I owned two lesser sulphur crested

cockatoos at one time and would have loved to have

given them the freedom of outdoor flight, but I was too

afraid.  Dave had no such fear, and his cockatoo

showed off for us for an hour.  She swooped from tree

to tree, making impossible landings on swaying

branches that gave her quite a ride as she hung on

with beak and claw, pumping the branches up and

down with powerful flaps of her wings while she

shrieked at the top of the her lungs.  A seagull flew by

her at one point and gave her a disapproving stare, but

she didn't care, she was free.  Shouldn't we all live that


Our three-day visit for the boat show turned into a 10-day stay.  Yet

again, we couldn't tear ourselves away from this enchanting place.

Finally our grey and black water tanks told us it was time to leave, and

we ventured back through Phoenix and on to a cross-country trip to the

Florida Panhandle.

It was only after we had been in Florida for a month that we discovered

San DIego had passed a law prohibiting RVs from parking overnight on

Shelter Island.  I understand their point -- we met RVers who had lived on

those streets for as much as nine years, and that's not right -- but it is a

shame that such a beautiful city has turned its back on budget RV

travelers who would like to experience its uplifting spirit for a few days or

weeks.  It wouldn't have been that hard or that costly to implement a system to monitor and limit RV stays.



















































































San Diego – Laid Back Mission Bay

Beneteau sailboat in Mission Bay

A sailboat heads out of Mission Bay to the open ocean

Bird of Paradise flower and palm trees in Mission Bay

Bird of Paradise in Mission Bay

Palm trees in Mission Bay

Tranquility and peace reign at

Mission Bay

Cute villas line the walks at Mission Bay

Cycling the paths along the Mission Bay beach villas

Beachfront bungalows and villas on Mission Beach

Mission Beach cottages open onto the wide sandy beach

Beachfront bungalows and villas on Mission Beach

Charming beach houses line the boardwalk

View looking from Mission Beach up towards Pacific Beach  San Diego California

Pacific Beach - kite-boarding paradise.

Surf shops and surfer lifestyle at Mission Beach San Diego California

Surf shops.

Surf lessons, surfing and the surf lifestyle at Mission Beach San Diego California

Anyone can learn to surf here, though the buff bod

may be harder to achieve.

Surfer with his surfboard at Mission Beach San Diego California Bicycle rentals and bikes lined up on Mission Beach San Diego California California laid back attitude, guitar and bike in Mission Beach San Diego California

SoCal is truly laid back

Beach bikes and coaster bikes at Mission Beach San Diego California Crazy California stuff

A modern day Jesus Freak?

RV lineup at Mission Bay Mission Beach San Diego California Old Winnebago at Mission Bay San Diego California

Any smaller, older RV will do.

Not a Winnebago, but it's still an RV at Mission Bay San Diego California Laidback RV lifestyle at Mission Bay San Diego California

Jerry relaxes in the back of his toy hauler.

Horses and horseback riding on Fiesta Island, Mission Bay San Diego California

Horses cool their hooves along the beaches at Fiesta


Life's a beach at Fiesta Island.  Our RV is parked at Mission Bay San Diego

Life's a Beach on Fiesta Island

Palm trees at Mission Bay San Diego California Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island San Diego California

Hotel del Coronado.

Mission Bay, San Diego, CA

October 1-28, 2008 - A few times during our stay in San Diego, we

moved our RV from Shelter Island to Mission Bay.  We (and at least 50

other RVs) were doing the "San Diego Shuffle," moving our rigs around

on the city's waterfront streets to stay in line with California's 72-hour

parking law.  As long as we all moved every three days, we could enjoy

the many delights of this beautiful city and gaze at prime multi-million

dollar waterfront views right outside our doors.

The serenity

of Mission Bay

is a dramatic

contrast to the

hustle and

bustle of Shelter Island.  Also manmade, from sand dredged out of San

Diego Harbor, Mission Bay is a series of waterways through former

mudflats, with the land forming quasi-islands and little peninsulas.  The

manicured grass lawns along the bay are largely city parks, and there

are many children's playgrounds, picnic areas and even large bonfire

rings along the beaches.  The tall palms and sparkling water offer a calm

retreat from downtown San Diego.

The walking and bicycling paths go on for miles, and we had many happy bike rides in and

around the bay and along Mission Beach.  There are endless charming beachfront villas on both

the placid bay side and on the surfing beach side.  Each home is unique, and they line up cheek-

by-jowel, with patios and porches facing the lovely views.  Most are available as vacation rentals.

We rode our bikes along the Mission

Beach boardwalk up as far as Pacific

Beach, making the transparent

transition from one miles-long

expanse of sandy beach to the next.

Pacific Beach was teaming with

people kite-boarding.  Each had a

huge parachute, and they used the

wind to skim across the ocean on their


Surfing is a beloved passtime in this area, and we saw surf shops,

surfers and surfer dudes that were right out of a Beach Boys song.

Sea World is tucked into one corner of the Bay, and bike rentals and

people on

bikes were everywhere.

This is a very laidback

area, where surf, sun,

sand and beach bars all

come together in a

dreamy combination.  As

we drove one afternoon,

we passed a young

fellow playing his guitar

while he rode his bike.

Not too much stress

there!  Others just rolled

along the sidewalk on

beach cruisers.

The best way to enjoy San Diego is to have a

lot of money (for a pretty multi-million dollar

beach bungalow, a convertible roadster and a

yacht) and to have a lot of time to enjoy them

(i.e., no job).  Most people we saw seemed to

have either one or the other.

This can be an eclectic crowd too.  We saw a

strangely painted car, several perfectly

restored Microbuses, and an odd collection of


In Mission Bay, the older the RV, it seems, the better.  The

shapes of some are from a long distant era, while others are

clearly homemade.

The "San Diego Shuffle" of RVs moving from one parking

space to another is actually something of a two-step in

Mission Bay, as parking is prohibited between 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m.  Each evening a parade of RVs makes its way

out of the Mission Bay parking areas into the industrial city streets on the far side of the freeway.  Early each morning

the RVs return, many to the same spot they had the day before.

The best setup we saw was Jerry's.  He towed his toyhauler "office"

trailer behind his Class C motorhome, and on lazy afternoons he would

string up a hammock inside his "office" trailer, taking in the view of the

Bay from his swing.

The stories of each household living in their RV were

varied, but a common concern was the upcoming city vote

on whether to override the California law and ban overnight

parking on public streets.  The days of this urban RV lifestyle of freedom on the waterfront may be

numbered.  The vote was held on our last day in the city, and we didn't hear the outcome.

One day we parked our trailer out on Fiesta Island, a tiny dot of California desert perched in the middle of

the Mission Bay.  The dry, brown, tumbleweed land is sparsely visited, and we had a stretch of beach all

to ourselves.  As we sat there enjoying the view of the homes across the water, a group of horses

suddenly appeared, splashing in the water as they walked.

The weather was unusually warm

for October (90's), and we spent

much of the month in tank tops

and shorts.  A visit to Coronado

Beach offered delicious relief from the heat one afternoon, and we

played in the sand and waves.  On a return visit we discovered the

history and beauty of the Victorian Hotel del Coronado that presides

over one end of the beach.

After a month of coastal pleasures,

we felt a little nip in the air as the

fog banks crept in and stayed

longer and longer each morning.  It

was time to move on, and we

headed inland to the California

desert of Anza-Borrego.  But the

temps were falling fast, and we

continued on to the warmest of the

southwestern desert areas in

Yuma, Arizona.































































San Diego – Shelter Island = Boater’s Paradise

San Diego view from our RV

San Diego view out our front door.

San Diego view from our RV

Boats anchored right off the shore

San Diego skyline view from our RV RVs lined up on Shelter Island Drive

RVs line up for the San Diego Shuffle

RVs line the shore at Shelter Island San Diego

RVs enjoy a multimillion dollar view of the city skyline

Walking paths at Bali Hai Restaurant Shelter Island

Walking paths wander the shoreline of Shelter Island

Wooden schooner in view from our RV at Shelter Island San Diego

Hammock in the rigging on a festive schooner.

Wooden schooner in view from our RV at Shelter Island San Diego

Boats of all kinds slip by in the bay

San Diego city skyline seen from Shelter Island

Wildlife is everywhere

Sportfisherman lands a shark at Shelter Island, San Diego

A local sport fisherman shows off the shark he caught

before returning it to the sea.

Harbor seal at Shelter Island San Diego

The seals rule the roost, lounging

around all day and barking as the

sun goes down.

Kona Kai Marina at Shelter Island

Shoreline overlooking the marinas

Shelter Island Marina and Kona Kai Marina

Shelter Island Marina is teaming with boats.

Shelter Island Marina and Kona Kai Marina

Peaceful Sunday morning at Shelter Island


Stephen Mann & Kathleen Torres show their round-

the-world route on a transparent globe.


"Tawodi" will take them across the Southern Ocean.

Kona Kai Marina and Shelter Island Marina

The gate to the Mega Yacht Dock at Kona Kai Marina

113' Wooden Schooner undergoes repairs at Shelter Island in San Diego

This gorgeous 113' wooden schooner on the

Mega Yacht Dock has been round the world 3 times.

Boats at the Transient Dock in San Diego harbor

The perfectly named "Cream Puff"

Salty sailors at the transient dock at San Diego

Jeff (Cap'n Hook), one of the many salty characters

on the docks

Cruise Ship leaves San Diego harbor

Cruise ship leaves for points south from San Diego Harbor

Sailing a Hunter 41DS Sailboat

Mark takes the helm

Boats on San Diego harbor

This little car zipped by us on the water.

Ferrari and Lamborghini car club on Shelter Island

Exotic sports car gathering

Art show on Shelter Island

Art shows every weekend

Sunset in the palm trees in San Diego

The sky turns to fire in the dreamy San Diego twilight.

Full moon rises between the masts of a wooden schooner in San Diego


Shelter Island, San Diego, CA

October 1-28, 2008 - Leaving cool, high elevation Pioche, NV in mid-September, we

attended Interbike, the annual bicycle industry tradeshow, in Las Vegas (a red-hot oven at

this time of year).  From there, we skipped west across the sizzling California deserts like

kids with bare feet leaping across hot sand.  Emerging at the coast in San Diego, we were

greeted with delightful cool breezes, sparkling blue waves, lush green grass and bright

sunny days.  September, 2008, had gone down in history as a stunning month for the

financial markets, but we will always remember it as an energy-charged, unscripted month

of exciting travels that was unusual only in its heartwarming normalcy in this full-time travel

lifestyle.  I felt moved enough to describe it in What's It Like?

We discovered that California

law allows vehicles to park in

one spot on public streets for

up to 72 hours, so we bellied up

to the shoreline with all the

other RVs on San Diego's

Shelter Island.  Parked just

steps from the harbor, we had

an everchanging view of sailboats, joggers, family parties, picnics, Navy

ships, cruise ships, war planes and gatherings of all kinds in the

shoreside city park, all laid out across the backdrop of the San Diego

skyline, right outside our front door.  As one neighbor in an RV near us

said, "This is Paradise."

Shelter Island is a manmade island created from dredged sand in the harbor.  Years ago the people of San Diego wanted this

island to become a recreation area for everyone, and today it is a bustling boat-oriented community framed by a glorious grassy

park.  There is a playground, fishing pier and boat launch on the waterfront.  Yacht brokers, chandleries, boat yards, swank

restaurants, an outdoor music venue and cute bistros line the streets.  The boats bob at anchor almost within arm's reach, and the

RVs line up along the shore.  Both the boats and RVs must keeping changing anchorages and parking spots if they wish to stay

more than three days.  As we moved around the island, swapping places with our neighbors, I took to calling this dance of the RV

fulltimers and boating liveaboards the "San Diego Shuffle."

The park is defined by the pretty walking paths that wander along the

shore.  From early morning till late evening these paths are filled with

locals and visitors alike: dog walkers; iPod-entranced joggers; hand-

holding lovers of all ages; young moms pushing baby strollers and old

folks pushing their rolling walkers.  Families come to the shoreside park

on weekends to host all day picnics, setting up tents and barbecues and

roasting marshmallows over their beach bonfires at night.  We witnessed

birthday parties, weddings and family reunions during our stay there.

The activity on the

water dominates

the scene.  Boats

of every description

ghost by.  In the

background there is

the constant hum of

helicopters hovering

at the Navy base

across the water.

Every so often the

world stops and the

air crackles with the

earsplitting roar of a

Navy jet taking off.



Seagull cries fill

the air during

the day, and

when the gulls

finally quiet

down to roost,

the seals take

up an



The harbor

seals' barks and coughs and wheezes sound almost human, and when

one pokes his head out of the water behind you during a morning swim, snorting and

gasping, you could swear it was a person in the water.  One afternoon there was a hubub

down at the fishing jetty.  A sport fisherman had landed a small shark.  A crowd formed as

he laid out his prize to measure it and take photos.  His dog was as eager as he was proud.

When he finally returned the shark to the sea, the dog paced and cried in total


There are several marinas in the

totally protected waters on the

back side of the island.  We

wandered down to the docks

many times to enjoy the pretty

views and watch the busy

activities of the boaters.  The

number of boats is staggering.

Looking across the acres and

acres of masts piercing the sky, I

was reminded of a giant pin


We stopped in at West Marine one

afternoon, and a couple was hosting

a barbecue in the parking lot to raise

money for their upcoming round-the-

world cruise.  We bought a hot dog to

support their cause, and listened to

their story.

With his own hands, Stephen Mann

had transformed a 39' sailboat with a

transoceanic racing pedigree into the

vessel of his dreams.  He had

lengthened the bow 3', installed

oodles of electronics for navigation,

and built a stainless steel arch to

support solar panels and wind


He and his girlfriend Kathleen Torres

were leaving in a week to sail around

the world via the Southern Ocean,

with hopes to complete the trip in 8-9

months.  To put their plans in

perspective, most circumnavigators

take 2-5 years to go around the

world, and most do it via the tropical

oceans.  These intrepid sailors were

going to tackle the world's worst

oceans below South America and

Africa, rounding Cape Horn.  They

planned to stop on land just 5 times during their trip.  They invited us to

an "open boat" the following evening, and we eagerly attended.

The boat was small, but rugged, and they were very excited to get

underway.  I love adventure, but I'm nowhere near as daring as they are.

After the party, they discovered a part in the engine drive-shaft was

faulty, which delayed their departure by a week.  But they finally sailed off

into the sunset.  Keep abreast of their travels at


The Kona Kai Marina is a very upscale place that caters to the world's

wealthiest on their Mega Yacht Dock.  One evening we noticed that the

very formidable gate to the dock had been propped open.  In we went!!

We heard loud voices and laughter coming from a beautiful wooden

schooner that had pulled in that afternoon, and when we came upon their

boatside barbecue party they welcomed us in.

The crew of five had just sailed the 113' boat down from Alaska, where

they had been surrounded by orcas, swimming bears, and glaciers.

This boat, built in Italy in 1980, had circumnavigated the world three

times, providing its owners with a posh pad for fly-in visits to exotic

locales around the world.  Hailing from several different English speaking

countries, the fulltime crew was in great spirits as they stayed in San

Diego for a few weeks to touch up the already glistening woodwork.  The

owners visit their yacht for just a few weeks at a time, while the crew

keeps it in tip-top shape, sailing to the destinations of the owner's

dreams on demand.  When we asked the captain what his worst

passage was, he said it was a 26-day passage where they encountered

a storm with sustained 60+ knot winds and 60' seas that lashed the boat

for 6 straight days.  "It was a lot of work."  He said.  How would the

couple on Tawodi fare in a storm like that in their boat which was less

than half the size with less than half the crew?

The next dock down from the Mega Yacht Dock is the Transient Dock where arriving boats can tie up

for a few days while they get situated for their San Diego visit.  This is a great place to meet people

from all over the world:  a South African taking his newly acquired boat to New Zealand, a Canadian

family with small children heading to Mexico, a Washington couple heading to the Caribbean on

their catamaran, and the 80+ year old owner of "Cream Puff," a floating disaster of a boat that he

has called home for over 50 years.

There are plenty of salty characters on

this dock too, including Jeff, who has a

mean Right Hook.  He waved his hooked

right hand for a photo and told us some

of the history of the delicate relations

between the liveaboards and the harbor

authorities in San Diego.  Those boaters

call their boats home, but unlike the

transients who arrive in San Diego from

distant lands, the local

liveaboards never leave the

protected confines of the


Perhaps the easiest way to

see the world from the deck of a ship is to take a cruise.  Two cruise ships arrived and

left the harbor everyday.  At 5:15 one morning a cruise ship arrived in dense fog.  He

blared a long extended blast on his foghorn once every two minutes for the entire hour

it took him to get from the harbor entrance to his pier downtown.  It sure woke us up,

but what about all those weary cruisers on the ship who were back from a week's

vacation in paradise?

We were blessed with four

opportunities to get out sailing

ourselves.  The atmosphere on

Shelter Island is extremely friendly,

and as we met new friends we

suddenly found ourselves the lucky

recipients of some sailing invitations.

There are all kinds of boats out on the

harbor, and a little car whizzed by us

as we sailed.

Back on Shelter Island,

we came across an

exotic sports car club

having an outing one


Tiny Italian sports cars of all types lined up in the parking lot,

roared their engines for a moment, and took off on a driving tour.

One unfortunate Ferrari owner couldn't get his car started.  No

worries.  We overheard him tell a buddy he'd just have someone

take it away on a flatbed truck while he went home and got his

Lamborghini instead!

The beauty of Shelter Island is the great diversity of activities.  If

exotic sports cars don't grab your interest, perhaps an art show

in the park will.

In the midst of this

continuous excitement and

stimulation, Shelter Island

offers many tranquil places to

enjoy a quiet moment.  The

shore along the marina docks

is beautifully landscaped, with

lots of benches where we

would pause and reflect on all

we'd seen.

While we were on the island,

the Baja Ha-Ha began.  This is

an annual sailboat rally of 150 sailboats that

heads out of San Diego to Cabo San Lucas,

Mexico at the end of October.

It is a 10-day, 750 mile sail with two stops along

the way, and the party-filled atmosphere takes

some of the edge off of doing such a long open

ocean passage by boat.  Once in Cabo, the sailors disperse, some heading out to the South Pacific, some

transiting the Panama Canal to go to the Caribbean, and some staying in Mexican waters.  Throughout October

the transient docks and anchorages in San Diego begin to fill with boats arriving from all points north to take part

in this rally.

We attended their kick-off barbecue, a wild Halloween costume party with prizes, raffles and giveaways.  I felt like

I was at a pirate frat party.  Almost everyone came dressed as a pirate, and the pavement was sticky with spilled

beer.  Laughter filled the air, and a DJ kept us all dancing,  Next day we joined our new friends Gary and Karen

aboard their beautiful Hallberg-Rassey and sailed among the Ha-Ha crowd, listening to their roll call on the VHF

radio, until their colorful spinnakers disappeared to the south.

Every so often we crept away from the action on Shelter Island for a change of pace on Mission Bay.


































































































Death Valley, CA – An Exotic Landscape

Fulltime RV travels and boondocking at Lake Mead Nevada NV Nevada Fulltime RV travels and boondocking at Lake Mead Nevada NV Nevada Fulltime RV travels and boondocking at Boulder City Nevada NV Nevada Fulltime RV travels: Hoover Dam Nevada NV / AZ Arizona seen from our RV Fulltime RV travels: Hoover Dam Nevada NV / AZ Arizona seen from our RV Great RV boondocking outside Death Valley CA California Outside Death Valley CA California great RV boondocking Outside Death Valley CA California great RV boondocking with the Escapees Boondockers BOF Death Valley CA California RV travel Death Valley RV travel Death Valley RV travels Death Valley RV travel Borax mining at Death Valley National Park CA California Death Valley National Park CA California Death Valley National Park views CA California Artist's Loop Death Valley National Park CA California Artist's Loop Death Valley National Park CA California Artist's Loop Death Valley National Park CA California Fulltime RV lifestyle:  Junior Ranger Death Valley National Park CA California

Death Valley, California

November 7-19, 2007 - After leaving Valley of Fire, we spent some time near Las Vegas visiting friends, staying at Boulder Beach

on Lake Mead.  The lake was 85 feet low when we visited in 2004, and now, three years later, was 105 feet low.  A campground

and boat launch had closed a few months earlier because they were now nowhere near the lake anymore, and we heard that the

turbines in the dam would soon be above the water level.  Scary stuff.  At least Lake Mead still had her pretty colors in the


We hiked along the rails-to-trails path that

goes from Boulder Beach on Lake Mead to

Hoover Dam.  It passes through some old

train tunnels and comes right out at the

visitors center for the Dam.  There is a

wonderful statue commemorating the

daring and hard physical labor it took to

blast the rock and pour the concrete to

build the dam.

From Las Vegas we made our way to

Death Valley.  We arrived on Veterans Day

and found the road through the park

lined with flag waving veterens

celebrating the days of the 49ers, the

intrepid souls who traversed Death

Valley in pursuit of gold in 1849.  The

campground was full, so we were

guided back up the mountain to an

open boondocking area by the side

of the road.

This was our first introduction to true boondocking -- where you set up camp

on public land and stay a while.  There were many other rigs in the area, and

as we got to know our neighbors we discovered they were part of the

Escapees Boondockers club and were gathered there for a few days.

Eventually most of the Escapees left, but we stayed with another rig

and enjoyed long lazy days and silent nights.

It felt so good to relax after our whirlwind tour of the northwest.  We

stayed almost two weeks, making music with our neighbors and

exploring the area.

Death Valley is the hottest place in the country on many summer

days, but in November the weather was perfect.

We learned that the 49ers took two routes to the gold mines in

northern California.  One group went around Death Valley, but the

other group trudged through the middle of it.  They barely survived.

Borax is mined in Death Valley and has been since the late

1800's.  It was hauled out by mule team, and to this day Borax

has an image of the mule team on the container.

We took the Artist's Drive which is

a thin ribbon of road that winds

among brightly colored hills.  The

light danced on across the cliffs.

Back at the visitors center we

found the perfect gift for a young

child.  If only we could all be

children for a little while once


From Death Valley we wandered east and

south through Laughlin, Nevada and then

down along the Colorado River to Lake Havasu,

Arizona and finally settled in Quartzsite, Arizona.

























































California Coast – Salt Air At Last

First glimpse of the Northern California coast from our RV

The drive along the coast

Spacious campsites at Westport-Union State Park on the northern CA California coast

The campsites in our campground

Spacious campsites and beautiful views at Westport-Union State Park on the northern CA California coast

Checking out the scenery

Route 1 erosion Westport-Union State Park on the northern CA California coast.  Not good for an RV

California is falling into the ocean. This used to be the

coastal highway that Mark drove his motorcycle on 33

years ago.

Route 1 erosion Westport-Union State Park on the northern CA California coast.  Not good for an RV

The coast

Route 1 erosion Westport-Union State Park on the northern CA California coast.  Not good for an RV

The coast

Steep hill climbs by bike on the northern CA California coast at Westport-Union State Park

We climbed up this thing -- in street clothes!!

Northern CA California coast at Westport-Union State Park great place for solar panel installation on an RV

Mark installs the solar panel on the roof of the trailer. This

gave us all the electricity we needed and set us free.

Northern CA California coast at Westport-Union State Park great place for an RV solar panel installation

Not a bad place to do a job like this.

Solar panel installation completed on the roof of our RV at Westport-Union State Park CA California

Finished product, situated between a roof hatch and the

folded down TV antenna.

Gorgeous beaches at Westport-Union State Park CA California

The beach below the bluff where we were camped (150 miles

north of San Francisco).

Gorgeous beaches at Westport-Union State Park CA California

These "ice plants" are house plants in Phoenix but grow

wild here.

Redwoods along northern California coast.  You can drive through, but an RV won't fit!

Drive-through giant redwood tree.

Redwoods are very tall and sequoias

are very wide.

Redwoods along northern California coast seen from our RV.

Driving through the redwoods in the northernmost coastal tip

of California.

California Coast

June 24-30, 2007 - We drove west from Yosemite towards the

California coast, taking the small scenic roads through the

mountains, skirting past Sacramento, and finally reaching the

coast at Fort Bragg, north of San Francisco.  The weather was

cooler and more moist than in Yosemite, and it was so startling to

see the ocean after all those woods, streams and shear rock


We stayed at the Westport-Union State Park Campground right on

the coast.  What a beautiful campground.  It stretches along three

miles of the coast.

Most people camp at the most northern end where they can perch

right on the edge of a cliff overlooking the crashing surf on the

beach below.

We camped at the more southerly end where there is a huge

grassy field with spacious sites that were largely unoccupied.

We walked along the old Route 1 that snakes along the coast.

It is badly eroded and is no longer used.  The campground has

been pushed further west, away from the eroding cliff edges,

but you can see where some of the sites and toilets used to be.

We used our days here to install our new solar panel.  Mark

installed the wiring from the roof down through the front closet to a

charge controller and on over to the batteries.  Once it was installed

on the roof we were amazed at how much freedom it gave us.  For

the rest of our travels in this rig -- another 10 months -- we rarely

had hookups.  We got all of our electricity from the panel.

We got in a little cycling,

although I don't think Route

1 has a big enough

shoulder in this area for

bikes.  Instead we climbed

the crazy mountains

heading inland from the

coast.  The climb seemed

to go on forever!

The northern California coast is lined with sheer

cliffs and stunning views.  There are also

towering redwood trees and occasional

sequoias as well.  We had a stunning drive up

northwards to the Oregon Coast.

The roads are very hilly, with tight

twists and turns and insane

logging truck drivers that barrel

along as if they own the road.

Actually, I think they do.  It was a

white-knuckle drive that was

definitely worth doing once.













































Yosemite National Park, CA – Sheer Beauty

Our truck struggles pulling our RV over Tioga Pass outside Yosemite CA California

The buggy stopped for a photo shoot on Tioga Pass

Our truck struggles pulling our RV over Tioga Pass outside Yosemite CA California

Pretty great scenery!

Lots of tunnels challenge RVs entering Yosemite Valley

There are lots of marvelous tunnels bored into the

mountains on the road in to Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley CA California

Yosemite Valley -- towering rock cliffs and tourists.

Bike paths and bike trails in Yosemite National Park CA California

One small stretch of the path was spectacular

Fulltime RV lifestyle at Yosemite Valley CA California

Yosemite Valley

Fulltime RV lifestyle at Yosemite Falls CA California

Yosemite Falls

Fulltime RV lifestyle at aTuomone Meadows near Yosemite Valley CA California

On the road down to the Valley from Tuolomne Meadows

Fulltime RV living near crystal clear streams in Tuomomne Meadows near Yosemite Valley CA California

Crystal clear streams in the Tuolomne

Meadows area

Fulltime RV living at Dog Lake near Tuomomne Meadows in Yosemite National Park CA California

Dog Lake in the Tuolomne Meadows area

Fulltime RV living at Dog Lake near Tuomomne Meadows in Yosemite National Park CA California


Fulltime RV living and fly-fishing near Tuomomne Meadows in Yosemite National Park CA California

Fly fishing

Giant Sequoia in Yosemite National Park CA California

Giant Sequoia

Giant Sequoia in Yosemite National Park CA California.  Small cars can drive through but an RV won't fit.

It's possible to drive through these trees

Bike paths and bike trails in Yosemite National Park CA California

Towering cliffs form a backdrop to every scene

Bridal Veil Falls in Yosemite National Park CA California great place to RV

Bridal Veil Falls.

Bear sighting near Crane Flat in Yosemite National Park CA California

A bear was munching not far from the bridge near

Crane Flat

Bear sighting near Crane Flat in Yosemite National Park CA California

She wasn't concerned about the crowd of


Yosemite National Park, CA

June 19-24, 2007 - We drove from Mammoth Lakes, California to

Yosemite National Park, entering the park from the east side.  The

Toyota Tundra struggled up and over Tioga Pass pulling our 7,300 lb.

trailer.  We maxed our speed at 28 mph and barely got going again

after stopping to take these pictures.

We camped for a while at Tuolomne Meadows Campground at the

east end of the park.  This area is filled with crystal clear streams

and ponds and has wonderful shear rock mountains.

We stayed up in the Tuolomne area for a few days and then took

the rig down to the campground at Crane Flat which sits at a

lower elevation just 12 miles from Yosemite Valley.  This made it

easier for us to get in and out of the valley to see the sites.  There

was only one campsite in the campground that would fit our rig,

and we barely got around the loop without scraping the trailer on

a tree.  However, once we got situated it was a beautiful spot.

Yosemite Valley has a

small system of bike

paths and we happily

rode our bikes on those

paths past the major


There are several

beautiful waterfalls.

Yosemite Falls is very

high and narrow.

Bridal Veil Falls is

misty and the veil

shifts with the wind

like a bride's chiffon


We took a hike to see the

giant sequoias.  There

aren't too many, but the

few that we saw are

massive.  Years ago, to

attract tourists, a tunnel

was carved through a

massive dead trunk, big

enough to drive a car

through.  Word spread far

and wide about this tree

you could drive your car

through, and toursts came

to Yosemite to see it.

Late one afternoon as we returned

to our campsite at Crane Flat we

saw a crowd on a bridge looking into

a meadow.  They were watching a

bear munching on greenery.  We

joined the throng to get some

pictures and watch this happy bear.

We were told it was a mother bear

and the cub was just out of sight.

She had no concerns about being

the center of attention for a very

large audience.

After enjoying all the beauty in

Yosemite for a few days we

continued our journeys west to the

northern California coast.


























































Mammoth, CA – A big surprise!

Fulltime RVing at Arrowhead Lake near Mammoth Lakes CA California

Arrowhead Lake

Fulltime RVing at Skelton Lake near Mammoth Lakes CA California

Skelton Lake

Fulltime RV travels at Arrowhead Lake near Mammoth Lakes CA California Fulltime RVers at Skelton Lake near Mammoth Lakes CA California

Skelton Lake

Fulltime RV traveling at Horsehoe Lake near Mammoth Lakes CA California

Horseshoe Lake

Fulltime RV travel at Twin Lakes near Mammoth Lakes CA California

Twin Lakes

Fulltime RVing at Twin Lakes near Mammoth Lakes CA California Fulltime RVing at Twin Lakes near Mammoth Lakes CA California

Twin Lakes

Fulltime RVing at Twin Lakes near Mammoth Lakes CA California

Twin Lakes

Fulltime RVing at Twin Lakes near Mammoth Lakes CA California

June Lake

Mammoth Lakes, California

June 14-19, 2007 - Mammoth Lakes, California was our first

real sightseeing stop after leaving Lincoln, New Mexico. We

camped at Coldwater Campground at the far end of town.  The

campground sits about 1,000 feet higher than town, but it is a

lovely and quiet wooded area. We took several hikes from the


One hike went along a rushing brook, another went past several

lakes (the "Duck Lake" hike), though we didn't make it all the

way to Duck Lake.  We also rode our bikes around the Twin

Lakes and Horseshoe Lake area near the campground.  This is

an easy bike ride and we were rewarded with stunning views.

We rode our bikes into town as well.  There is a fantastic

descent to get to town, but you have to pay for that thrill with a

long climb back to the campground at the end of the day.

There is a wonderful bike path that winds through town and to

the outskirts near a golf course.

I felt like we were riding our bikes and hiking through the pages of

a high-end touring catalog.

On our way out of town we took the scenic loop past June Lake.

It was a gorgeous area with towering mountains and a cute little

town center.  We didn't stop.  Another time!!  We were on a

mission to see Yosemite National Park.