Great Theater, Great Friends

but first an update on the wetness.  Had a dry sunny day in Crescent City, CA at Village Camper Inn.  Please note that did not last 24 hours.  I got up on the roof and caulked everything in sight, again, with a fresh tube of caulk.  Then I determined that we had a lot of humidity in the coach from showering and cooking, Carol has been making some wonderful soups!  We have not been venting thoroughly.  Added some vigorous ventilation to our program and the carpet is drying out. 

Slow forward  a week (we do nothing very fast here) and I set up at the Elks RV Park in Florence, OR only to find that the satellite would not work.  After a lengthy discussion it was determined that the LNB must have given up the ghost to weather and vibration and needs to be replaced.  Now all I have to do is figure out what an LNB is and install or have installed a new one.

Enough!  After our day with Jerry and Anna Lee in Sacramento they were able to get tickets for us to join them at Ashland Shakespeare Festival.  We reserved an adjacent RV camping spot and met them on Friday, the 25th of March.  Their journey over the mountains was moderately more harrowing than ours as they had to delay a day to avoid 70 mph winds and snow in the passes.  We just crept in from the coast.  There are stories to be told but I will save them.

Friday night we went with Anna Lee and Jerry and their long time friends Ann and Jerry (you are not seeing double) to The Oregon Cabaret Theater to a performance of “The ‘Daly’ News”  the story of a father’s weekly newsletter throughout World War II to his 4 sons serving in various branches of the military.  The music was written by Gregg Coffin who has written many things we have seen performed at GEVA Theater in Rochester.   It was a wonderful performance and foretold great theater to come. 

Saturday, after a wonderful brunch of Challa French Toast prepared by Jerry on their coach –hmm brunch for 6, that must violate some RVing rule someplace – because it was raining we sat around and shared stories with Jerry and Jerry and Ann and Anna Lee, of course by now Ann Carol was using her full name just to be part of the pattern.  Nothing to be done with “Paul”.  Jerry and Ann left late morning for home.  No one needed lunch so we went off to a 1:30 performance of “Language Archive.”  This is a wonderful play and the performances were superb.  The theater, a relatively new theater, has a thrust stage with audience on three sides.  The staging and lighting were really well done and furniture seemed to appear and disappear without distracting.  Dinner was the four of us at Arbor House in Talent, that is a town about half way between Ashland and where we were staying in Phoenix, OR.  OMG, I seldom use that expression, but in this case it is needed.  Each item was beautifully prepared and flavored.  Carol and I ordered curry dishes and they brought out samplers so we could adjust the level of spice to our desire!  None of us had ever seen that before.

Sunday the Braunsteins were off to brunch with local friends they had met on a cruise so Carol and I waited out the rain and headed into Ashland for a light lunch and some light shopping, before settling into the large theater for “To Kill a Mocking Bird” performed from the only stage version approved by Harper Lee.  The stage was practically bare and yet it was very dynamic.  Shadows on a scrim gave us Boo’s house and the mad dog and other visitations and they changed in perspective as the actors approached or retreated.  The cast was excellent the three children were really very good.  It was hard to believe that the boy playing Dill was only 9 years old.  Because of the children the performances are only during the day and only 40, so seats were at a premium.

After a lovely ethnic dinner at Sesame with the Braunsteins and their friends we returned to the theater to find it transformed for a modern day version of “Measure for Measure”.  The lines were pure Shakespeare, even those in Spanish and the mariachi band of three women certainly brought a different approach to the play.  The standing ovation at the end was certainly well deserved.  Well entertained and exhausted, we returned to our coach for a good nights sleep to the sound of rain on the roof.

As we set up for departure it was not raining, yet.  As near as I can figure it has rained on us some part of every day from March 8 to today, March 29.  Rain is forecast for tomorrow, the 30th, as well.  I am not complaining but the moss on my head will need trimming soon.

And yet further up the coast

We have been traveling up the wet coast.  That is not a typo!  It has rained some part of every day for the past week since we left Sacramento.  After we finally got the exhaust repaired in Ft Bragg, we settled in to a rainy day and as I approached the closet in the back of the bedroom I found myself with a cold wet foot.  We drove on up to Eureka and the Eureka Elks Lodge with its 32 space campground in a separate parking lot for RVs.  When we arrived the sun was out and things were drying off so up I went onto the roof with the usual repair materials all set to put and end to that nasty leak.  I know I closed up every crack and possible opening, but the rain resumed as did the leak.  Every time we have had a dry period I have applied new treatments to different area to no avail.  Today on return from touring Crescent City with its tsunami devastated harbor and then driving up into the Stout Redwood Grove on the edge of town and hiking among the giant redwoods in high top rubber boots, I stretched a tarp over an area I think is the source of the infiltration.  (In case you didn’t notice I am practicing my run on sentences)

I have a call into a mobile RV repairman, but he didn’t return the call today and my hope for his help is limited.  I am frustrated, but I know I will get this fixed too, some day.  Of course it would help if we could get someplace where it does not rain several hours of every day. 

The Towlers, founders and majority owners of City Newspaper in Rochester were reading this blog and realized that we were very near a friend of theirs from the Independent Newspaper world and they sent us email with phone numbers and such.  Wow are we ever grateful.  Kat and Doug picked us up at our coach in the Elks lot and walked us in to the Sunday Elks Brunch, they too are Elks.  Later that day with their invitation, we drove to Ferndale, a Victorian Village they call home, to see it and to pay another visit with them.  It is not necessary to replay the details, Carol may need to write a book to do that.  Suffice it to say we will delight in calling them friends and hope to come back this way when there is slightly less rain. March is usually wet and this March has been particularly rainy.  We do understand that wet and cool are normal here year round. 

We are enchanted with Humboldt County, although we did learn that others are enchanted by the good marijuana crop that is grown here, now largely legal.  We walked into a couple of shops advertising glass blowing.  Yup they blow glass, into bongs of all sorts, sizes and shapes.  I remember when we knew these as head shops.  Am I showing my age?  We backed out and decided that we really weren’t interested in blown glass any more at least until and if we get to Seattle.

Further up the Coast

We took a leisurely drive up the coast from Mendocino to Eureka where we found another very nice Elks Lodge with a 32 space RV campground adjacent to the Lodge.  Full hookups yet and cable and WiFi.  Having found this we next had to figure out why we might want t o be in Eureka for a while.  First we just had to take the Avenue of the Giants which parallels US 101 through the Humboldt Redwood Forest.  You have all seen pictures of the trees and the road.  It was cloudy and rainy and we did not have a large format camera to do justice to the majesty of the trees.  Carol tried and may post some of her images.  I took some pictures but nothing you want to see.

As we were sitting at lunch I received email from one of my bulletin boards that there has been a major slide across PCH 1 between Carmel and Big Sur.  That is called a long term closure.  Sure glad we are well north of that.  We have seen many places along the way where slides have been cleared from the road and a couple where the road is routed around places where it was undercut and falling into the sea or a gorge. 

We located the local Jewish Community and will be attending Friday night service and pot luck dinner – sound familiar? Not sure about Torah Study as it starts at 8 AM and runs up to 3 hours!!  Then of course there is Megillah Reading Saturday night.  Brief explanation, we read the Book of Esther to commemorate Haman’s attempt to destroy the Persian Jews and his eventual downfall.  The celebration includes food (what else?) drink, of course, and lots of noise.  Much fun for the children, and the adults.

Eureka is a wonderfully preserved Victorian area and the buildings are really great to see.  Add to that the Lumbering Convention at the Fairgrounds which we will drop in on and there is a lot to do and see. 

Written one day later: It is raining again and still, Noah isn’t until the Fall, but . . .

Too Much Excitement

We retraced to the coast and CA 1 north on the 101 to 128 to 1.  As we progressed the noise level from the engine began to rise.  Suddenly we were driving with a very loud opening in the exhaust system.  This is illegal, unpleasant and potentially dangerous as fumes began to leak into the coach.  We opened windows and continued to press on to our campsite in Caspar Beach RV Park just north of Mendocino.  As we drove I got on the phone and made arrangements for a repair requiring us to make a week long stop to wait for an appointment.  There is only one place capable of doing this work along the coast and the drive back to a larger city on 101 is not to be thought of.

Fortunately Mendocino has been in our dreams for 31 years.  That long ago we made a trip to San Francisco for a New England Life meeting and then stayed on for ten days to drive down to Carmel and then up the Central Valley to Napa and on to the coast with a stop at Harbor House in Elk.  The plan was to check in at Elk and then drive to Mendocino and for the day and see the galleries and tour the town.  We never made it because our rental car had a flat tire as we were pulling into Elk and the arrangements to fix it ate up our travel time.  We waited a long time and it is worth the wait.  But we did arrive with yet another vehicular malfunction.

We love the location of the RV park situated just above the beach in a sheltered cove with high headlands to the north and south.  Remember that!  We toured down to Elk and further on the Pt Arena and refreshed our memories, Harbor House has not changed and iota.  The garage now sports a cafe and coffee shop in one wing and the old junkers in the field beyond that Carol lovingly documented 31 years ago are all gone.  There is also a wonderful artists collective gallery that we spent a long time wandering through and congratulating ourselves that we have given up collecting beautiful objects for there certainly were many to choose from.

Friday got off to an early start.  At 4 AM our neighbor was knocking on the door.  He had a NOAH weather alert radio and the first Tsunami alert had been sounded.  We were not real coherent, but got online to see what the ruckus was about.  I do not need to tell you what story greeted us.  By 5 AM the local fire department had two and three trucks in the campground at various times.  They spread the word that we were in the Tsunami Warning area and needed to evacuate by 6 AM.  I got some clothes on and went outside to stow the awning I had just deployed, remove the windshield cover, put the bikes on the car, put away all the outdoor toys like the chairs, grill, and other conveniences we deploy when we are going to stay for awhile.  Carol was busy putting the interior into travel mode, something we usually allow a couple of hours for as we do it slowly over breakfast starting before bed the night before.  By 6 we were hooked up and ready to roll.  We rolled all of 8 miles to a gas station located on the high ground by the 1 where I topped off the tank and got permission to hunker down.  If the exhaust had not needed repair we might have gotten more creative, but level, high and safe seemed to satisfy our needs and so there we stayed for the next ten hours until they reopened the road to the RV Park.  We got a lot of reading done and many phone calls made. We still have our repair appointment for Monday at Jacks Muffler, another early day.

Where was I?

Oh yes, driving up the coast road.  The trip from Monterey through San Francisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge was uneventful.  It is a beautiful drive and the route was straight forward and traffic was mild.  Carol got to drive through San Francisco and over the bridge as well as on into Sacramento.   We used Thursday night to get some work done as well as some reading. 

Friday We were picked up by Annalee and Jerry Braunstein.  We met in Vermont at a FMCA Rally and I got friendly with them especially on an American Volkssport Association walk in Burlington.  With them we toured the Capital – check off California.  Then Jerry wanted to take us out to the delta area and lunch at “Al the Wops” in a Chinese Town that was built in 1915 to house the Chinese after an earlier town had burned down.  The site provides some history of the Chinese in this part of California.

As five o’clock approached we returned to Gee 2 to prepare to drive to Davis to see niece Minda and her fiancée Will Fertman.   We had a lovely dinner in their small grad student apartment just off the UC Davis Campus.  We also spent Saturday with them.  They chose a route to Sonoma and Minda had chosen a wonderful restaurant “The Fig and the Girl” for dinner.  Carol and I treated and the cheese plate Will selected was wonderful – if a bit skimpy by his standards and the wine I chose was also pretty good.  We dined well and fortunately we had left the car a couple of miles away so we had a nice walk to recover from the dinner and permit me to burn off the wine to be able to drive.   As if we had not bought enough at the Davis Farm market before leaving for Sonoma, we had to go to the Sacramento Market and Minda joined us or the shopping on Sunday.  Then she had to get the car back to Will for his work and she needed to get some work done as well.

The weather was not wonderful so I spent a lot of time at the computer catching up with personal finances.  It is amazing how far behind it is possible to get even though I pride myself on checking in on this stuff daily.  I missed some things that will cause me some aggravation for a few weeks.  Nothing big, but I HATE to pay any interest charges.

We stayed on Monday and after yet some more grocery shopping, we went to the California State Railroad Museum.  It claims to be the biggest in the country and second biggest in the world.  I won’t argue.  I love the size range from the Front Cab 4-8-8-2 articulated monster with 6,000 horsepower at 40 MPH to the Z scale models (track gauge is 1/4”) it is all there.  Carol expressed doubt since the weather was chilly and the thought of a couple of hours wandering in a train yard was not appealing.  It is not like that, they built a Roundhouse with a turntable to support the exhibit and everything on display was indoors!  We loved the RPO (no not that RPO – Railway Post Office) with a docent “Jim” who had worked the line from Chicago to Sacramento for two years.  The sleeper was set up to rock like was going down the road and there were flashing lights and the sounds of rail travel as we talked with the docent on board.

Back to the coach for one of Carol’s very creative dinners and off down the road on Tuesday toward Mendocino, more twisty roads.  I got to drive mostly freeway, Carol took over the wheel as we left the 101 for 128 through the redwoods and up over the coastal mountains back to the 1.  We had both noticed that the engine was getting louder and as we started to mention it to each other, it began to roar.  Clearly something in the exhaust system has broken.  It remains to be seen what and how long the repair will take.  That is tomorrow’s project and we are set to stay in Mendocino on the beach for a week while we get that all in place.

We have great wifi and no phone service in the RV park. 

Driving up the Coast Road

Among the many experiences I have read about on RV forums, driving the Pacific Coast Highway aka PCH aka 1 is an experience some chose to avoid and many relish.  We have driven from Los Angeles to San Francisco north on the PCH over the last week.  It is a wonderful experience.  We have driven through flat agricultural areas north of Monterey and we have driven rugged coast line through Ragged Point where I swear I was looking at the brake lights on my tow’d on the switchbacks. 

Although a mile here and a mile there are challenging driving, for the most part it is an exercise in paying attention to the road and keeping one’s speed in check on the descents.  Our time in Monterey was fun and there are hikes we did not take because of limited time.  We did two major undertakings in the one full day we had.  We went to the Steinbeck Center in Salinas and after lunch we drove down to Carmel and drove the 17 mile circuit. 

Approaching the Steinbeck Center the highway passes through several miles of agricultural land, all of it in production.  As the GPS announces we are two miles from the Center, there is no sign that the fields will ever end.  Then rising from the fields are the buildings of a moderate sized city.  The highway becomes Main Street and then the Center is blocking the road.  There is a forced turn into the parking garage and we were taken aback as we had our bikes on the roof and needed more than the promised 7 1/2 feet of head room.  Fortunately the first level of the garage was not very full and had plenty of headroom.  If you have ever read a Steinbeck book or seen one of his play/movies this is a must see history of him and his times.  If you have not read his work or seen his plays/movies this is a must see history of him and you will want to go out and read him.  The one real memento of his life is Rocinante, the pickup truck with camper mounted on it that he used for his 10,000 mile tour of the United States as he wrote Travels with Charley.  For RVers this is a must read, and better than the Long Long Trailer (but not as funny).

The 17 Mile Circuit in Carmel was established as a horse drawn in the early days and has been maintained to provide access to the private playground of the very rich that is Carmel.  The route along the coast includes the Lone Cypress and many other great overlooks and opportunities to walk down to the water.  We did it on our trip out here in 1980 and it does not seem to have changed in the least. 

Our route up the coast was driven by my desire to drive the motorhome over The Golden Gate Bridge.  This took us many miles out of the way, the Bay Bridge would have been a much shorter route.  I discussed this drive with some California RVers I met at the Monterey Elks Lodge and they approved of my decision suggesting that we keep to the middle lane as much as possible.  This is the most wonderful of the Lodges we have seen yet.  The fitness room was in active use all the time it was open from 6 AM until 9 PM.  The camping was comfortable along an edge of the parking lot with adequate 30 amp and water pressure and there is an on site sanitary dump as well.  I was greeted warmly in the bar and met several members and touring RVers.  If we are in the area again we most certainly will take advantage of their three day camping limit.  The drive was wonderful and Carol got to drive the coach over the bridge while I took pictures of the fog.

Catching Up

I last wrote and posted about all the failures we have experienced.  Since then we have had none of our own and the car windshield has been replaced and there is one small screw that needs to be driven back into place when I remember to do when not traveling down the road. 

We spent nine days in Dockweiler our least preferred RV Park both for cost and location under the LAX departure runways.  Its redeeming value is relative closeness to our son Yechiel’s home and its proximity to the beach.  We chose a space (#81) as far down the camping area as we could get from the entrance and the runways.  I am not sure how much it helped, but we slept, mostly.  After 5 days at the Burbank Elks it was quite a change.

The Dan Goldberg family flew in on Wednesday, late and we met them at the beach Thursday morning.  They played there until it school was out for the local family and then we had dinner at Miriam and Yechiel’s and everyone crumped.  Friday we took the Virginia family to Labrea Tar Pits Page Museum and LACMA (Los Angles County Museum of the Arts.  Then we settled in for Shabbat.  Saturday we gathered at Miriam and Yechiel’s for the day, with some time at the park to run off Shabbat Lunch.  Sunday was an expedition in two cars to San Pedro, the port of LA where we saw shipping and toured the museum and rode the Red Trolley and thought we wore everyone out.  True for the parents and grandparents, not apparent for the boys.  We wrapped it all up on Monday, President’s Day, by breaking the RVer’s myth of 6 for drinks, dinner for 4, sleeps 2.  We had 10 for play on the beach and drinks for 6, dinner was grilled vegetables.  I was at my new Weber Baby Q grill for 90 minutes grilling for the gang of 10 (and some burgers made from meat carried from Virginia for us carnivores).  It was too cold once the sun set to sit out so we all ate on board.  Lots of fun.  Oh yes, sunset in a clear sky on the ocean horizon treated us to a “green flash” (you could look it up or follow this link).  This was a first for Carol and most others, I had seen it many years ago from the top deck of our boat in the Galapagos.

One last item to report from the LA visit.  We stayed on an extra day to attend “Poetry Cafe” at the kids school.  When I tell you we sat through 125 kids reciting their own poetry and were disappointed only that it ended, you will understand how exciting an event this was.  Of course Avtalyon and Azriel were “performing” and they were divine.

The route from LA was north on PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), THE ONE.  We made our first overnight stop in Santa Barbara, actually about 25 miles out of town up in the mountains at Cachuma Lake Reserve.  It is a lovely spot worth more time to explore, but the weather was dreadful and we were spending time with Bob and Joyce Herman.  Although we know each other from Rochester, we have deepened our friendship with meeting at the extremes of the continent.  We actually ran into them at an overlook in Nova Scotia a few years back when I noticed a car with NY plates and the license frame was from Hoselton, a Rochester area dealer.  Then we saw them.  This time we knew they were in Santa Barbara and called ahead to make plans.  Several good restaurants later and one incredible party and we were on our way north again. 

For the record, Carol and I went to Solvang when we first got there and found our selves in looking for a decent restaurant among hordes of Greyhounds (the dogs were in town for a convention).  There were none at Root 246.  This is a superb dining place, not cheap!  The staff were wonderful and food preparation was beyond expectation, Bradley Ogden the Chef heard that Carol is a vegetarian and came over to discuss the menu with her.  I have never seen beef short ribs served without the ribs and with such wonderful sides.   With Joyce and Bob we had lunch at a wonderful Mexican restaurant in Santa Barbara and decided to put off dinner until after Shabbat service at Bnai Brith Cong.  Rabbi Stephen Cohen is the son of Jules Cohen who among other things was my boy scout troop leader back in the ‘50’s.  He is also a fine cardiologist.  Dinner was at Cold spring Tavern.  The meal was ok, the atmosphere was wonderful and the road was unspeakable.  We drove out on the mountain road that lead to the campground we were staying at and then turned off on Old Stage Coach Road, a left over from the stage coach days.  It twisted and turned down the mountain side and the rain and fog just made the drive more interesting.  I braced with a scotch before dinner to prepare for the drive back up the road and found the main road shrouded in fog for several miles as we continued to twist our way to Cachuma. 

We found that courtesy of the Hermans we had been invited to a party at Gail and Peter’s home up a canyon road.  The jazz trio was wonderful and the guests and host and hostess had all lead fascinating lives and we made several new friends who I hope we will see again when we pass this way in the next years.

Another day another hundred miles as we worked our way up THE ONE to Morro Bay where we stayed at Morro Bay State Park.  It is a lovely park with great surroundings and the State of California has made it almost unaffordable.  The senior rate for water and electric is $48 cash or check only!  and the final indignity was that a tree fell on the power line as we were setting up and the power was out from 1:30 to 11:30 PM.  Carol ad I walked into the town, about a mile and wandered through the shops.  This is a nifty town and in better weather the hiking and boating would be a lot of fun.  The next day we set off to Hearst Castle, a state historic park.  We took Tour 1 and it was well worth it, for that matter it was far beyond worth it.  The guide alone was worth the price of admission, she was wonderful and her tail gunner was also a lot of fun.  If you are coming this way, or even close, do miss this tour.

Now we are in Monterey at yet another Elks Lodge.  This one looks like a nice country club although you do want to follow their directions getting in, we got turned around and taking a left turn into the lot required that we disconnect the car in mid turn, never fun. 

I’ll post now and write more soon.