Tag Archives: west coast

Life’s a Trip – At the Beach

This is the second in the Life’s A Trip series.

There are many ways to approach the journey of life and we have explored a bunch of them.  This is about the different beaches where we have lived for a time.

One of Kaye’s favorite activities in the whole world is beach walking.  I love sitting and soaking up the sun and synthesizing vitamin D.  So beaches work for both of us.

Tropical Beaches

It seems that the ultimate destination in the Caribbean is the beach and we have had the experience of enjoying many of them, mostly in the Dominican Republic, one of our favorite island winter respites.

Playa Rincón, Samana Peninsula, Dominican Republic.

Because of it’s remoteness, this beach is still largely undeveloped.  It is possible to be alone and unbothered.  We first visited this beach in 1990, camping in a tent in the coconut grove.  Our last visit there -via a rented quad runner – was in the winter of 2016 and it was still unspoiled and beautiful.

DR Bob on quad
Our favorite ride to Playa Rincon is the rented four wheeler.

BobnKaye wquad on Rincon

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La Playita,  Las Galeras, Dominican Republic.

The Little Beach offers snorkeling on the reef just offshore, and there is a beach restaurant and masseuse on hand.  It was a 15-minute walk from our last vacation rental in the little fishing village.

la playita scene

La Playita at evening

DR 4 Palms vivid

Las Galeras Municipal Beach, Las Galeras, Dominican Republic

A short walk from our vacation rental, the “town beach” offered beach bars and “tipico” restaurants and shuttle boats to other beaches nearby.

Las Galeras bob table beach

The Cove, Samana Peninsula, Dominican Republic

This beach is smack in front of the resort by the same name and is shared with the local fishermen who store their boats on shore every night.  The local kids love to get attention from the tourists and will put on a show whenever there is a camera around.  We stayed here for the winter of 2013.

Hammock Bob at the Cove

DR boys on palm tree

Dominican beach boys frolick fix

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At the Cove we could buy the fresh catch of the day directly from the fishermen on the beach.

West Coast Beaches

Santa Barbara Beach, California.

This large beach is nicely maintained by the city of Santa Barbara.  There is a bike path, volleyball courts, an art show every Sunday, and a wharf with restaurants on stilts.  We visited several times when we were doing the work-camping thing at nearby Fillmore, California, in the winter and spring of 2014.

Santa Barbara Beach volleyball

Santa Barb beach at sunset

While in California for the winter, we also explored Mugu Point Beach and had lunch at the famous beach diner, Neptune’s Net pictured in movies and TV shows.

We also enjoyed camping at the beach at the linear park at Seacliff where the beach was walkable for miles.  Boon docking at its best (no hookups).

The campground is linear at Seacliff, California, 2 miles long and 20 feet wide.

The Gulf Coast and East Coast

Dauphin Island Beach, Dauphin Island, Alabama

In the winter of 2015 we set out to spend the entire winter on island beaches.  Dauphin Island was our home for January where the beaches are white sand.  They are walkable for many miles.

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St. Augustine Beach, St. Augustine, Florida

We spent the month of February in this historical town where driving on the beach is permitted.  Bonus!


Emerald Isle Beach, Emerald Isle, North Carolina

In March, our RV site was a short dune walk from this beautiful white sand beach.

Driving on the beach is permitted at Emerald Isle… for a price.

The Great Lakes

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Empire, Michigan

Being Michiganders most of our lives, this is probably one of our most frequent beach destinations.  Of course, Lake Michigan is too cold for swimming except in the late summer and early fall.


Empire beach at twilight

Port Crescent State Park, Port Austin, Michigan.

The closest beach to our house for over 40 years, this beach and several others along the east shore of Michigan were our favorite sun-and-sand destinations in the summertime.

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Turnip Rock is a kayaking destination reached via a 1-1/2-hour paddle along the shore from the harbor at Port Austin, Michigan.

So this is a sampling of the many beaches where we have spent some time.

Life’s a trip!  What is your favorite beach?

The Days Are Getting Longer

Milepost 1160:   Ashland, OR, to Olympia, WA

We have been on the road for six days now and have covered just about a fourth of our distant from Fillmore, California, to Denali, Alaska.  We have slowed down a couple of times to visit with friends and family that we haven’t seen in decades.  Great reunions!

The days are getting longer as we head farther north each day and it’s still almost three weeks to summer solstice.  Tomorrow our goal is to cross the border into Canada near Vancouver, British Columbia.

We have been enjoying a variety of campsites, from crowded line-ups with little privacy to the big woods in the middle of nowhere like where we are tonight near Olympia, Washington.

Our campsite in the tall trees near Olympia, WA.
Our campsite in the tall trees near Olympia, WA.

While we have been charging through the west coasts great cities, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, we have also blown right past some of the lower 48’s signature mountains:  Mt. Shasta, Lassen Peak, Crater Lake, Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helen’s and Mt. Rainier.  I guess we are on a mission to get to the continent’s premier peak, Mt. McKinley (Denali).

I have hardly had the camera out yet, because I’ve got both hands on the wheel all day.  And when we finally stop to find a campsite each evening, we are usually near the freeway and don’t have time or energy to venture to the nearest attractions.

We may have to return at some future point and dedicate more of our attention to the bountiful world of beauty that blankets America’s west coast.  For this time, unfortunately, it’s mostly a means to an end.

We breezed right past California’s signature peak, Mt. Shasta, only stopping for a couple of photos.



Steinbeck Wrote the Book on RV-ing – (Kaye)

Milepost 613:   Salinas to Redding, California

His book is called Travels With Charley, and John Steinbeck did his research for it while on an extended circle tour of the lower 48 states in a Chevy pickup camper that he called Rocinante.

Steinbeck's pickup camper, Rocinante, at the Steinbeck Center in Salinas, CA
Steinbeck’s pickup camper, Rocinante, at the Steinbeck Center in Salinas, CA

We stayed two nights at Salinas, California, so we could spend some time at the birthplace and museum of John Steinbeck.  We feel a connection with the author as similar travelers a generation apart.  Kaye writes about it here.

The interior of Steinbeck's pickup camper.
The interior of Steinbeck’s pickup camper.

(Kaye writes)  Travels with Charley is John Steinbeck’s story of traveling the country in an early version of the pickup camper “in search of America” in the fall of 1960. I had read it several years ago, but it seemed only fitting to re-read it while on our epic journey. I carried it in the cab of our pickup truck to read while driving across the country in January, but discovered very little time to read – maybe because I was too busy observing America on my own journey.

Once we settled in at our new spot in southern California, I pulled out  the book and once again appreciated Steinbeck’s writing. I did a bit of research on his life and decided to read some more of his stuff. In that process I discovered that he had grown up not too far from where we were living. When we began to plan our journey northward, we decided to drive through that area that had shaped so much of his writing. So we did that two days ago, up along the Salinas River, past the town of Soledad which provided the setting for Of Mice and Men, and then to the town of Salinas where we became tourists for a day. We took pictures of the house where Steinbeck was born, we walked the streets he walked and we ate lunch where he had eaten. And yes, we toured the National Steinbeck Museum which by the way is the only museum in the U.S. dedicated to a single author – and learned much more about his life and his writings and about the area that provided the background for so many of his stories.

I enjoyed the exhibits which are arranged according to the geographical settings of his many titles, but the culmination of my quest was to see Rocinante, this vehicle that has inspired so many of us. It was a good day, a fun day, and an educational day.

But more than the area, more than the historic sites, more than the accolades (and there were many!) even more than Rocinante, what I like best about Steinbeck and what I can carry with me are his words.

“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. … We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”

“I saw in their eyes something I would see over and over in every part of the nation – a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any Here. They spoke quietly of how they wanted to go someday, to move about, free and unanchored, not toward something but away from something. I saw this look and heard this yearning everywhere in every state I visited. Nearly every American hungers to move.”

“I pulled Rocinante into a small picnic area… and got out my book of maps. And suddenly the United States became huge beyond belief and impossible ever to cross. … It was like starting to write a novel. When I face the desolate impossibility of writing five hundred pages a sick sense of failure falls on me and I know I can never do it. This happens every time. Then gradually I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all I can permit myslf to contemplate… So it was now, as I looked at the bright-colored projection of monster America.”

The birthplace of John Steinbeck is now a restaurant.
The birthplace of John Steinbeck is now a restaurant.

(Bob writes)  Our epic trip to Alaska has to be advanced in small sections too, a day at a time, so that we aren’t overcome with that “sick sense of failure” that Steinbeck experienced.

Today we head north only 130 miles, to visit some of Kaye’s relatives in Ashland, Oregon, then on to Portland the next day, “gradually writing one page and then another,” like Steinbeck.

(This is our last post under the category, The California Quest, as we are leaving the state today after 5 months of west coast residency.)

On the Road Again!

Milepost 265:  Fillmore to Salinas, CA

Yay!  We have finally re-started our epic road trip to Alaska! We left Michigan last December to get away from the harsh winter, and for five months we work-camped at Kenney Grove Park,  a private campground at Fillmore, California.

The beach at Seacliff.

Finishing our duties there and leaving in the afternoon, we decided on a short jaunt to the sea coast where we found a campsite right by the ocean.  There are a few places in the world where RV camping is allowed virtually on the beach, and Seacliff, California, is one of them.  We set up in the middle of a 2-mile stretch of seashore lined with more than a hundred RV’s parked for the night in a sort of linear campground, if you will.  This is classic boon-docking, as there are no services, no hookups, so only self-contained rigs can do it.

We clambered down the rocks to the beach for a long walk before sunset, then went to bed early.

The sun sets over the RV on the shore at Seacliff, California.
The sun sets over the RV on the shore at Seacliff, California.

This morning we did a U-turn and headed north over the pass to spend much of the day crossing another dessert and through the vineyards at Solvang to end up at Salinas by mid-afternoon.  We moved into a site at the KOA campground at Prunedale just north of town.  Salinas was the home of John Steinbeck, who inspired us with his American road trip epic, Travels with Charley.  We are planning to see his home place tomorrow and visit the Steinbeck museum before we break camp and continue north toward San Francisco.

It looks as though our route will need to be kept rather fluid, since we keep discovering changes that need to be made.  One of the latest is the news that our route north of the Redwoods requires a white-knuckle climb through a dangerous mountain pass that has travelers leaving fingernail marks in the upholstery.  We might have to skip the Redwoods this time around.  Maybe we’ll come back some other time and do that one in the red convertible (we’ll rent one somewhere).

We are trying to keep the main thing the main thing here.  Getting to visit our kids in Alaska at Denali is the main thing, and having an enjoyable time doing it is the next main thing.  A route that delivers too much stress may result in a change of direction.

I’m not sure where we’ll be the next time I post.  Our mobile internet has been quite dependable so far, but we may be boon-docking some more, and that means no electricity to run the computer.  We can still post from the iPhone or the iPad like we did last night on the Facebook page (“Like” it in the right sidebar to join the Facebook group or click here) but I prefer the photo editing programs on my Mac, so my posts from the other devices are short and not very aesthetic.Bob's feet on the beach

Tomorrow we’ll take the next step and see where we end up by evening.

Thanks for reading!

The Alaska Highway – Here We Come!

 Milepost 5-21-14  Fillmore, California

The countdown has begun and the anticipation is building with every passing day now!   In just a few days, we’ll be pulling out onto the highway and heading north on our epic 4000-mile journey to Denali.  We have spent the winter and spring in our first work-camper assignment at Kenney Grove Park in California but our time is about up and the open road beckons.

We got to hike the Pacific shore with daughter, Wendi, who lives at the University of California
We are loving the Pacific coast where the daytime highs have been in the 70’s all winter.

Our original plan was to spend only the winter in California and then wander across the south and head up the east coast back to Michigan in the spring, but our park manager talked us into staying here for five months.  We have really enjoyed living in California for awhile, but the restlessness has started to set in over the last few weeks; it’s time to move on.  Our route to Alaska has changed since we are heading there from California rather than Michigan.  It’s a triangular path that gets us back to Michigan by mid-August.

We have been studying the route via Google maps and the standard Alaska highway resource, Mileposts, a 760-page volume that includes every detail of the route, from fuel stops to campgrounds to historic sites.  I don’t think we’ll get lost if we stick to the main highway.  Then again, this is all about adventure and exploration, so what are the chances we’ll stick to the main highway?

All right, then, we are going to get lost.

We are loving the Pacific coast and plan to follow the shore for the first few hundred miles, first visiting the hometown of John Steinbeck who inspired us with his novel, Travels with Charlie.  Then we’ll rubberneck our way through the giant Redwoods and north through Oregon and Washington to Vancouver where we cross into Canada.

Our goal is to make it to Denali before the summer solstice when they are experiencing more than 21 hours of daylight.  Cool!

If you’d like to see where we end up each night along the way,  subscribe to the blog on the left sidebar above, or Like the Facebook link on the right sidebar.   We will post updates whenever we can find an internet connection, which might not happen every day while we are traveling the actual Alaska highway, because the hotspots are  few and far between.

Our daughter, Wendi, took us for a hike on her running trail at Goleta, California.
Our daughter, Wendi, took us for a hike on her favorite running trail at Goleta, California.

Our planned departure date is Thursday, May 29th.  Yippee!

This was our first winter living near our daughter and son-in-law.  Here we are at Joe's Crab Shack, Venture, California.
This was our first winter living near our youngest daughter and son-in-law. Here are Kaye and Wendi at Joe’s Crab Shack, Ventura, California.

On a Mission – at Santa Barbara

Milepost 3-15-14   Santa Barbara, California

One of the joys of settling into a new community is exploring the unique features that make it what it is.  Santa Barbara, California, is known for its premiere historical site, the old mission.  Kaye shares her perspective on our visit there yesterday:

(Kaye writes) Much of the California coastline is dotted with charming old missions that stand as monuments to the religious and cultural history of this region when it was still part of Mexico. One of the more beautiful and more famous ones, Old Mission Santa Barbara, is wonderfully restored and maintained.

Mission Santa Barbara has 150 years of historical charm.
Mission Santa Barbara has 150 years of historical charm.

Visitors are greeted by a lovely view of the old church – which has been expanded and repaired many times through the years – and by a welcoming portico that runs the full length of the adjacent mission structure.

SB mission front porticoI was enamored by the uneven tile floor full of dips and smooth worn edges, but still shiny as can be. Meanwhile, Bob was fascinated with architectural details like the awesome arches, magnificent doors, quaint windows, and walls that were more than three feet thick –  photographic opportunities galore.

SB mission portalAfter buying tickets for the self-guided tour, we stepped through a door into a dim hallway, past the first of many beckoning stairways, and back out into the daylight of the huge square courtyard, dubbed the Sacred Garden – which is in the midst of major rejuvenation, but still lovely with roses and plants of all kinds and graceful palm trees encircling a modest three-tiered fountain.

View from inner courtyard.

Visitors are allowed to wander along two sides of this wonderful courtyard before finding our way up picturesque staircases and through stone pathways skirting yet another lovely courtyard and leading eventually into the cemetery.

The inner courtyard is home to the Sacred Garden.

Signs seemed to indicate the possibility of using the Mission Renewal Center for personal or group retreats – an idea that I find very appealing. We also learned of the possibility of having one’s cremains buried in the mausoleum – an idea not quite so fun to me.

Full-length porticos are lined with old-world charm.
Full-length porticos are lined with old-world charm.

From the cemetery we went into the nave of the church and spent a leisurely time soaking up the beauty and symbolism and stillness of that great place.Santa Barbara mission hall _0107 I almost would have expected that to be the climax of the tour, but then came the museum room – and then another room and another. This was actually a rather impressive and extensive museum with re-created rooms from long-ago mission life as well as a good variety of artifacts displayed and historical events illustrated and well-explained for those who took time to read them.SB mission side doorway.

The experience was well worth the five dollars we paid and I would recommend it to people who enjoy history and culture. We prolonged our enjoyment of the gorgeous sunny day by sitting on the grass out front for a couple more hours.

SB mission cemeterySB mission church doorway.SB mission detailSB mission front doorsSB mission front facadeSB mission gatewaySB mission interior windowSB window shuttered

Whew!  That was exhausting!
Whew! That was a work-out!