On to Pismo Beach

We left Reno on August 20th on our way back south and west. We had an uneventful drive back over the Sierra Nevadas and spent a single night in East Sacramento RV Park. A cute little place that served our purpose but we wouldn’t go back to stay for any time. We left the next morning for a new park named Yanks in Greenfield, CA. Not only new but very nice park and spaces. The problem was the wind was very high (30-40 mph) and constant! It made the outdoors of the area almost unusable. We did have a very enjoyable side trip to Monterrey and the area which has always been fun.

After 4 days there we headed down to the Pismo Beach RV Resort. We have always loved the area and this just reinforced those feelings. The RV Park was great and it is right on the ocean. Walking distance to all sorts of good stuff. We spent hours just watching the gulls and pelicans dive for fish. We made a side trip to Cambria for lunch. This is one of our favorite places so far and it has a membership program sort of like a time share. While I have never liked (or trusted) time shares, this is different and we may do it for the 45 days a year you can stay there. It is not a fancy park at all, and has lots of modest trailers and stuff staying there. But the area, temperate weather and overall feel make it great in our minds.

Spicy Marinara

Like most of my recipes, this was developed over time with trial and error. I was going for spicy with lots of flavor, not just heat. I found that Jalapenos were one of the secrets because they are very flavorful. Using more or less than I show below changes the heat, I also will remove the seeds if I don’t it want it too hot. I also use WAY MORE GARLIC than others, but no one has ever complained and people seem to love the flavor. I use diced and crushed tomatoes because I like the texture to be just a little rustic. The honey is a key to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and the Worcestershire is a great add to almost any savory dish.

2 tbs Olive Oil

1 large onion finely diced

15-20 Garlic cloves, minced

2 cans (28 oz each) crushed tomatoes

1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes

1 can tomato paste

2 Jalapeno peppers, finely diced (seeds and spines removed for less heat)

1 small bunch Italian parsley leaves chopped fine

1 tbs crushed red pepper flakes

1 tbs dried oregano

a good drizzle of honey

Juice from 1/2 small lemon (add some zest if so inclined)

6-10 shakes of Worcestershire sauce

Salt & Pepper

Heat a pot to med-high, then heat olive oil

Add onions with a good amount of salt and some pepper and saute for 5 minutes

Add peppers and some more salt & pepper for another 5 minutes

Add garlic and continue to saute stirring often for another 3-5 minutes

Add all tomato products plus a little water (1/2 cup or so) and mix together

Add everything else, mix together and bring to a slow boil

Once it boils turn to low heat and let simmer as long as you can. Taste after a while to see if you need more salt. Also check for more honey if it is bitter at all. If possible I like to cook it the evening before, refrigerate overnight, then slow cook it again for 6-8 hours the next day.

Back to Reno- August 14-20

Leslie really wanted to swing back thorough Reno on our way south again to see Ronan. So we left Oregon with very fond feelings and decided to spend 3 nights in Redding, CA as a stop over on the way to Reno. The RV Park was Premier Resorts of Redding, sister to a park in Eugene we really liked. Problem #1 was it was 100 degrees there! The park layout was sub-standard. Then after being there about 30 minutes our AC stopped. We soon realized it was the main circuit breaker from the park and switched it back on. We called the office as we were concerned it would happen again and the person they sent out kept trying to say the problem was with our coach. We got fed up and decided to just stay one night and extend our stay in Reno. To avoid the heat we went that night to a local casino and Leslie won at Bingo!

The drive over to Reno across the Sierra Nevada mountains had winding roads and slow going in our big coach. But we made it fine and checked back into Bordertown RV Park as it is very close to our grandson.

While this was only a five day visit it was great. We of course saw Patrick, Mysha and Ronan. I played golf twice with my old golfing buddy Alan Krogness and another old friend Bill McKnight was able to join us for the second round. We also had dinner with Pete and Jody Dekay plus their two boys at Si Amigos, our old favorite Mexican restaurant. But this time and the prior two times it did not seem as good as it was and we may look for another go to Mexican place. We also had another really fun evening at dinner with Jean and Roy Lassiter at (of course) PF Changs.

MarshAnne Landing Vineyard & southern Oregon friends

We just loved Newport, Oregon but had to move on. We had a date with Gigi & Harry (Leslie’s bestie from middle school) and were anxious to see them. On our way down we made another Harvest Host stop at MarshAnne Landing Vineyard and spent the night parked next to their main building. The husband and wife owners were the only people we saw there, but they were very talkative and welcoming. Told us all of their stories and background to get to be a small private owned vineyard. Leslie bought a couple of bottles and we enjoyed a nice, relaxing and private evening.

Our next stop was Southern Oregon RV Park, in the Medford/Ashland/Grants Pass area. This park is county owned and right next to the local fairgrounds (which were not in use when we were there). It was low priced at only $40/night but had large spaces, a fire pit, picnic tables and great hiking around their fish-able lakes.

It was here that we hosted dinner with Gigi and Harry. I made a spicy marinara and spaghetti. I will post the recipe later. Gigi and Leslie hadn’t seen each other in about 25 years, but connected like they had never been apart. There is nothing like old friends and the ties of growing up together. We have always liked Harry as well of course and just had a fantastic evening that we will be sure to repeat as southern Oregon is one of our favorite places.

Gigi brought over a bottle of wine from a local vineyard named RoxyAnn Vineyards that Leslie loved so we made a visit there the next day. Leslie tried several and liked them all, but really loved their Viognier and bought a case that she has since shared with many people.

As this are is also the home for “Harry & David” (the mail order food company) we had to visit their main store and pick up some nice food mixers. As I said this entire area is fantastic and we will be back.

The Oregon Coast

We left Gig Harbor on August 4th and made our longest drive yet at just under 300 miles. Our goal was the Oregon Coast, specifically Newport, Oregon and an RV Park named “Pacific Shores Motorcoach Resort”. Pacific Shores is relatively unique in that it only allows motor coaches, no trailers or 5th wheels. Each of the lots is individually owned and the tenants just pay a monthly fee like an HOA (in this case about $300/month). They can then rent it out to people like us if they want. The lots here are much nicer than anyplace else we have stayed and the location is right on the ocean! The temperatures even in August never got about 72 and it was actually sweatshirt weather the entire time we were there.

We thought about actually buying a lot (they range from about $50K to $450K depending upon improvements and views), but decided it would only be worth it if we would spend about 4-6 months a year there. And while we truly loved it, it is too far from our friends and family to use that often. i can see us spending a couple of weeks a year here though as we truly loved the area.

A day in Seattle, local friends, leaving Gig Harbor

While most of our time in Gig Harbor was spent going back and forth to Vashon Island, we did take a day to drive into Seattle. Did the obligatory fish market and shops on the waterfront, and really had a great time just wandering around.

At the end of the day we drove to an area called West Seattle to meet up with a friend of Leslie’s named Liz and her new boyfriend. They have rented a small house with great views of the sound. We had dinner at their house and a great time with Liz eating and drinking the night away.

We finally left Gig Harbor and for the first time had a little trouble getting out. The area our rig was parked on was dirt and it had softened with some recent rains. As our rig is about 50,000 pounds fully loaded it can dig into the dirt and it sure did. I thought maybe we were going to have to get a tow, but I was eventually able to go backwards enough to get a running start through the problems. On to Pacific Shores in Newport, Oregon!

Vashon Island and more old friends

Gig Harbor is about 40 minutes from Seattle in one direction and 30 minutes from the ferry to Vashon Island in the other. We decided to be up in the Seattle area at this time in large part because our Reno friends Jim & Ruthie were going to visit their daughter Lauren. Ken was going too and others were meeting them there. Lauren and a couple of partners opened a very cool restaurant named “The Ruby Brink” on Vashon Island earlier this year. This is a combo restaurant, bar and butcher shop with each of the three partners responsible for one aspect. We have known Lauren since she was young and she actually used to babysit our kids years ago.

We went over tho the Island 3 times. The first was a Wednesday which is the day the restaurant is closed. But Jim & Ruthie rented a nice house right on the water and we all gathered there for a terrific meal. The next day we went back and had a great meal at the restaurant with everyone.

The final time was with Laurie Morgan, a friend I have known since high school, but hadn’t seen in over 30 years! Thanks to Facebook we had stayed in touch so we knew she was living near Seattle. Laurie met us at the ferry over to Vashon and we went over to have lunch, walk around a local farmers market and do a little wine tasting. We also took advantage of the butcher shop at The Ruby Brink as Lauren set us up with some great take away meats (that I’m afraid are all gone now).

It was really special to see Laurie again after all these years.

On to Gig Harbor and a dog who wanted out from the car

Leaving Portland we planned on a halfway stop at a Thousand Trails RV Park mid-state. But when we got there it was too hilly and spots way too small for our rig. We have found that Thousand Trails in general is not right for us with limited full hook up spaces, no advance space specific reservations, and tight spaces. So we bailed on that and found a small RV Park next to next to Riverside Golf Course. Basic spots but served out needs.

We made the short hop to Gig Harbor RV Park, our home for the next 5 nights. Our spot was tree covered which meant no Satellite service, but we had so many things planned that wasn’t a problem. After setting up we went into the town of Gig Harbor for dinner at a place Rosemary Thompson recommended right on the harbor. On our very short drive over we were behind a car with 2 dogs in the backseat and the windows rolled down. One dog saw a pedestrian walking their dog nearby and decided to join them by jumping out of the window while the car was still moving. Even though the car was going slow the dog was still spun around by the jump and landed very hard on the street. Of course we stopped (as did all other traffic) but the dog was panicked and running around. Luckily the owners finally noticed and popped back to get their pet. And it didn’t seem as if the dog was hurt.

At the RV Park we met a couple who had a Newmar Dutch Star that was the same year and floor plan as ours. I learned some nice tips and got connected to a company that allows unlimited Data steaming with no throttling. As this has been a sore spot for us we really appreciated this.

Eugene, Portland, a sad side trip and on to Gig Harbor

We left LongSword and had to deal with a narrow winding road for about 15 miles before hitting the I-5 north and on to “Premier RV Resorts of Eugene”. Nice place, great site but right near the freeway and we only stayed one night. The on to Portland at Fairview RV Park. The place was very basic but served our needs.

The second day was our sad side trip as we drove all the way back down to Eugene (2 hours or so) for the funeral of Stacy Deveraux’s. Stacy is a co-worker who has been close with me and Leslie for many years now, and she is actually my replacement at ASSA ABLOY. Happy to see Stacy, sad it was for this.

Back up in Portland we had our friends Kim and Linda visit for dinner in the coach. It was really great to see them and we loved the area and will visit them again. After only 3 nights we hit the road again for the Seattle area, specifically Gig Harbor!

Long Sword Vineyard & finding old friends

Still on our way up to the Seattle area we wanted to try for the first time a program called “Harvest Host”. Once in the program we can use their website to find members that allow us to park our rig overnight for free, but without hookups. Most of these are vineyards, but there are farms, museums, golf courses and others. You are expected to patronize the hosting business but it isn’t mandatory.

The first one we tried was “Long Sword Vineyard” in southern Oregon just west of Grants Pass. It was a small vineyard and the width of the gate I had to drive through was just barley larger than the rig. But it was nice countryside and we were the only ones there. Leslie ended up liking their wine and bought a case.

While in the tasting room Leslie had a phone call about her cruise travel job. While she was on the phone I started talking with the young woman working the tasting room counter. She said she was from Grants Pass and I mentioned that Leslie’s best friend from middle school, Gigi, had moved there 23 years ago with her husband Harry, and we had eventually lost track of them. It turns out she knew the daughters of Gigi and presto 20 minutes later Leslie and Gigi were on the phone talking as if they had seen each other yesterday! We were able to change our agenda and made plans to see them later in our trip. I will blog on that later when it happens. What a wonderful bit of random serendipity!