September 14 – 20 From the Desert to the Sea

We finished our stint in Arizona with an overnight in Lake Havasu overlooking the London Bridge.  We stayed at a hotel once again due to the heat.  Lake Havasu really does look like an oasis in the desert, populated mostly by retirees as we soon discovered. The water levels were quite good considering it was fed by the Colorado River which seems to be under constant threat due to drought.  The London Bridge is quite something when you think that it was reconstructed brick by brick at this location.  

The London Bridge

We woke up to a toasty 82 degrees and decided to get out for a walk early.  We strolled along the esplanade as the sun rose, passing a touching tribute to the queen and other gift shops and restaurants.  

The next morning we headed out to Barstow; there isn’t much in this area and the Mojave National Reserve had been flooded out by monsoons (much like Death Valley) so we couldn’t swing by there for a look-see. I did find a feature near Barstow called the Rainbow Basin with colorful rock formations that reminded me of the Artist Palette in Death Valley. We decided that would be a fun geological adventure to hike, but we soon discovered that that road had been flooded out as well🌊

We decided to pack it in and went to the hotel.  We had plenty to do with prepping BigB for sale, and other logistics related to our impending move to France.  

The next morning we embarked to Bakersfield where we would spend the night at the Orange Grove RV Park.  We stopped by a rest stop to clown around the Joshua Trees, and then drove through Tehachapi which was now brown, quite the contrast of the rolling green hills of our spring jaunt through this region.  

Our stop over in Bakersfield this time was a bit different from our stay in the spring when we were surrounded by the heady scent of orange blossoms; there were now oranges on the trees, mostly green, and the temperature was a manageable 83 degrees.  

I sat amongst the orange trees until the sun faded, enveloped by the cooling breeze – there were no ponds here to reflect upon, only what I had brought with me as I pondered the last legs of our trip; the thunderstorms I was so fond of that came in multiples while in Sedona, were now behind me.   

The last strokes of the summer sun was now slipping past the fading fields, no longer in sway as we cross over from the solstice to the equinox of charitable memories.  In the aftermath of a desert glow, my pupils, thankfully, no longer felt fazed by the sun.  I watched the breeze as it ran its fingers through the trees, teasing the leaves as they turned to gold.  The idea of autumn was upon us.  

The next day we arrived at the California coast, specifically Morro Bay. I hadn’t seen my leggings and sweatshirts since we boondocked across the Columbia Icefields in  mid-June.  Thinking back on the early stage of this adventure it seems so long ago!  We were staying at a small RV Park, it was more like a space attached to an Airbnb that had a cabin and across from that full hookups for our rig.

It was rather cold and windy as we went for an evening walk on the beach; I can never inhale enough of the effervescent Pacific breeze.  We built a fire and roasted marshmallows then slumbered in the dark and quiet, only interrupted by the occasional calls of the nearby seals and then an owl.  

The next morning we strolled along the beach and then stopped in the cove  next to Morrow Rock where the sea otters 🦦 hung out.  We watched them for about an hour, ensconced in their rituals.  The rangers had set up scopes so we could see them closer.  One of them had a baby on her belly – they are the most charming sea creatures!!!  

Otter with Baby Through the Scope

We then turned our attention to the birders who were watching the Peregrine Falcons on the nearby Morro Rock – a beautifully stunning site.  

Morro Rock

We headed down the Embarcadero that had restaurants and shops dotted along the waterfront.  It was a perfectly sunny day, hovering in the low to mid-sixties that made for such a treat after months of intense heat and humidity.  We picked up a few souvenirs and then did some food shopping.  We wound up walking several miles!

After relaxing back at the rig, one of Bob’s ex-coworkers picked us and gave us a tour then we have a great seafood pub dinner on the bay.  It was a great end to a perfect day.  

View of the Bay

The next morning we headed out to Highway 1 to Big Sur and Carmel-By-The-Sea. 

What we didn’t realize was the storm system that had hit California a few days ago had spun around and we were getting hammered as we drove the curvaceous wonders of the coastal highway.  When we stopped at a viewpoint for tea, the rig was literally swaying due to the gusts. 

Highway 1 with the Boys

When we hit the road again we watched as a Class C in front of us was spraying water every which way as it hit the vehicle, the driver struggling to stay on the road; we could empathize with his plight.  

We made it to Carmel just in time for a respite from the storm.  We encountered some gusts and a few passing showers, but otherwise we were able to browse this charming city for a few hours.  The architecture was a cross between English Tudor with spanish influences. 

It was busy, and there were some boutique shops hugging the big box stores that looked rather meek; I guessed that Carmel has a city code on the type of facades that were allowed. Thankfully this helped with a more authentic ambience.  

In the afternoon, when we reached the KOA the rain had let up enough for us to get BigB set up, and we huddled for the evening as more storms were forecast.  As the night drew to a close, we slumbered under the passing showers churning up from the coast.  We woke to low clouds and then the blue sky opened up in all its glory. It was in the sixties and very comfortable, and the air smelled of eucalyptus and pine, courtesy of Mother Nature.

That afternoon we went to the beach, reading and watching surfers skate upon the waves. I observed the Pelicans diving for fish and the Curlews swirling in unison up, between and over the imperious waves.  It made for a relaxing afternoon, the arresting clouds with occasional sun breaks.  We were fortunate the storms were gone and we were able to laze in comfortable tempatures on a virtually empty beach. 

The Serenity of the Beach

When we returned, our side of the RV Park had emptied out and we sat in serenity by the fire with little wind, no bugs and other encumbrances we had so often encountered, especially in Canada and the east coast.  We didn’t know when we would experience another classic American campfire since the Oregon Coast was beginning to recede into fall, beckoning the rain and cooler temperatures.  

Relaxing at the Santa Cruz KOA

I roasted what would probably be my last marshmallows.  One became a casualty of the fire, but I was not be dissuaded as I still had half a bag. S’mores are one of my fond childhood memories that I recapture from time to time.  It can become quite the religion; weaponized with custom forged tongs for the very purpose of roasting the perfect marshmallow.  Part of the experience is to find the right convection in an open fire, and as is the case with all wild things, one must be patient.  

For those of us who revel in solitude, it was quite the treat to be on the California Coast lazing in the receding sun of the evening with only our low playing music, the surf and the organic sounds of wildlife.  


We only have a few more nights in the rig, just overnight stops as we journey up the Oregon Coast.  It’s a nostalgic thing to think we have traveled over 26k since May 9.  So many of our experiences seem like an eternity ago.  And the thought we will be leaving America on our migration to France is now upon us, literally week’s away.  After years of dreaming and planning the stresses of this new and exciting reality are now taking hold.  

Our life is changing in concert with the seasons.  

Feb 28 – Mar 3 Alabama Hills by way of Morro Bay

We bid farewell to Santa Rosa but didn’t go across the Golden Gate and headed for San Jose instead to connect with the 101.  It took us a couple of hours to get through the Bay Area traffic and were glad when the 101 finally narrowed.  Otherwise the road was pretty non-descript except for the endless miles of agriculture and vines – this must be a place that supplies grapes to places like Gallo (I’m making that assumption as it looks like a mass production vs carefully cultivated vintages).  We stopped for lunch in Monterey Bay (whipping up a salad and tea in the RV) in the Fort Ord area.  Another beautiful day – we have been so lucky.  We reached Morro Bay about 4:30 – it was warm and we are practically on the beach with a massive haystack rock right on the ocean known as Morro Rock.  It’s really quite something.  I put on my sandals, finally releasing my feet from their winter bondage.  I had to peel down into a blouse as the weather was in the high 70’s; I couldn’t remember the last time I was in warm weather like that! We went for a sunset walk and then sat by the fire with a shot of whiskey – the temperature dropped quickly so we cozied back into the RV to read and further reflect on the day.   

Amazing view from our spot at the RV park

We woke up to a view of the beach and Morro Rock.  As we had a long drive that day to Alabama Hills in Lone Pine we got it together early.  We met up with one of Bob’s friends from his Adidas days and had a nice walk along the waterfront and paused to watch the sea otters lounging by the shore.  It got warm quickly and I changed into my fair weather clothing.  We drove the route to Bakersfield through endless commercial wineries and agricultural area. We heard on the radio that San Luis Obispo had the highest gas prices in the country as we realized when we took a few sips at $5.29 per gallon until we could find cheaper prices!  We stopped off for (cheaper) gas on Highway 46 where the fatal crash that killed James Dean is memorialized.   California had just lifted the mask mandate and it appeared most everyone got the message.  The station had a large shop with “frogs balls” and Route 66 memorabilia even though we weren’t on Route 66…

We stopped in a ghost town called Bodfish and they had a USS Arizona memorial of all things with actual artifacts from the ship!  I will be there in April to commemorate my father’s service so was rather excited to discover this gem in the middle of nowhere.  I don’t know what possessed such a remote location to put these artifacts on display – which made it all the more impressive.  

We reached the Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway with it’s basalt rocks tossed all over the valley and cones that could easily be mistaken for recent volcanic activity.  It was barren and we couldn’t figure out what people did for a living outside of working at the power plants or China Lake.  Then the Sierra’s started peaking out as we neared Lone Pine and we got excited when we spotted the first outcroppings of the Alabama Hills while driving along Whitney Portal Road.

We paid $8.00 per night for the Tuttle Creek Campground.  There were not that many people around us.  The place is clean and well organized with pit toilets and a camp host.  The lovely creek was behind us and was the only sound as we watched the sun go down behind the Sierra’s.  We are in a new moon phase and I got up around 2:00 a.m. to see if I could see the Milky Way but there was some cloud cover on the horizon. Otherwise the night skies were clear and I was blessed with a shooting star.  

Night skies at Alabama Hills!

Then we woke up to this view.  

Too cold to get out of bed though

What I love about BigB is we can switch on the 12v heater and as soon as the sun comes up the battery starts charging up again from our solar panels. We had filled up our water tank and have our LP for coffee, heat and the refrigerator.  We are self-contained in this euphoric glamping world.  When dry camping (or boondocking) we read and journal.  I can work on my devices (including the internet if we have signal) and juice them up as needed with the inverter; our solar panels keep us well supplied. After two long days of driving we we are in no rush and can poke around the hills at our leisure #lovinthervlife 

We are at an elevation of 5000 feet and the hills themselves are in walking distance though the walk back turned out to be a couple of miles of uphill terrain and it felt hot even though it was in the 70’s.  The sky was a brilliant blue at this elevation and the sun was equally intense.  I thought about the animals the inhabit the region and their solitude.  

This place and time was like a dream come true, though no, it was really the beginning of a transcendence into a different reality.  The creek by our campsite paid no heed to my toes and ears, yet soothed my ears; the sun was indifferent to my skin – I felt bathed in my entirety by the high Sierra despite the burn.  

It was quiet, solitary much like the Redwoods but more distant, higher with thinner air and the absence of shelter except amongst the towering formations rooted beyond my imagination.  All this while Russia lays siege to the Ukraine, we weep and pray for the people of the Ukraine; we wish them the same solitude, instead of the ragged remnants of what was normal, brought by unnatural moving thunder.  

Inhaling the smoke of our fire, we recede as the sun sets behind the mountain range, exacting and reliable, we can always count on the horizons as if they say at least some things change but are not chaotic.  

We finished the day with one of the oranges from Sonoma – a mixture of citrus and smoke like the many fine wines of the region. 

Day’s End

Alabama Hills last day.

We stopped by the Gunga Din day use area on our way out of the hills. It has a large plaque dedicated to the movie that was filmed along the trail. Every angle of these formations connects in a different way and beckons exploration.  It’s not a long trail unless you go want to go bouldering – then you have infinity at your disposal.  

The Gunga Din Trail

We stopped by the rather touristed Mobius Arch with Mt. Whitney perfectly framed in its portal; was it a chance display by nature or just how we humans interpret it?   The trail was nicely laid out with more formations but these ones had caves honed from the sides and the backdrop of Mt. Whitney was clearer.  The rocks were rounded as if smoothed by an artisan well versed in geometry.  

The boys had to be in the shots of course as they rather liked the Alabama Hills.

We overnighted in Death Valley at Stovepipe (it’s a parking lot with about as much appeal as its name…. complete with generators going).  it was 85 degrees and we were thankful we had decided to stay in Alabama Hills an extra night instead of Death Valley.  It was warm enough so we turned on the generator for a little while and the AC to cool the cabin down.  It was noisy but it worked.  

We have certainly had the extremes – with Mt. Whitney being the highest point and Death Valley being the lowest – it is a bit like the circle of life