Weird… we are over two months behind on updating the blog with a new post! Ha! We’ve had every intent to write this since early June, it’s even been noted on our whiteboard, but we’ve been having too much fun exploring and sweating our tushies off. Since we last left off, we have wandered through the northern portion of Utah, northern Nevada, portions of California and we are making our way through Oregon. We are fifteen months in on our adventure and definitely have plans to spend more time in these areas over the years to come. We’ve highlighted some of our adventures below – enjoy!
Dinosaur National Monument – After we left Grand Junction, Colorado, we headed northwest to check out Dinosaur NM (something that had been on our list during our time living in Denver). We were fortunate to land a spot in the campground a few miles from the main quarry where the fossils have been uncovered. While the dig area isn’t as large as we were expecting, it was cool to see where many of the fossils from the Smithsonian (and other prestigious museums) came from.
Salt Lake City – We actually spent most of our time in American Fork with our friends, the Vickers, but either way, we were in love with the area. It may have had to do with the fact that you can be in the mountains within thirty minutes, but as with everything, it was enhanced by the fact that we were spending the week with awesome people. It was our first time boondocking in a residential area, and thankfully we didn’t fully creep out their neighbors, especially since we ended up staying so long. We rolled in over Memorial Day weekend because all the campgrounds anywhere near the area were booked solid so we were beyond thankful to have a place to sleep. We got to hang out with the whole Vickers crew doing everything from boating, picnicking, paddle boarding and lots and lots of chowing down on amazing food. Seriously, I think we both left five pounds heavier! While we were crashing with them, we had solar panels delivered and Shea installed them for even stealthier boondocking. We even had two adorable little helpers during the installation.
Park City – We figured we should give our friends their lives back ? so we headed up into the mountains for a couple days to beat the heat and enjoy the views. We wandered around both Park City and Heber City and even took a bike ride and hike… or two. Our favorite park of the area was the Homestead Crater hot spring where we soaked in the crater while scuba divers swam below – so cool!
Great Salt Lake – Before leaving the city, we spent one last night hanging out with our friends so their littlest munchkin could see Little Red one last time (so cute!). We seriously loved our time there, so it was hard to say “see ya soon” but we eventually made our way to see the Great Salt Lake. While we have both seen it from the air (way too many corporate trips over the years) it was spectacular to see it in person. I’m pretty sure I will remember the smell as much as the views themselves – eek!
Bonneville Salt Flats – Another bucket list item checked off our list! This was the hottest day of our adventure to date at 106 degrees but it was well worth it to see the salt flats and boondock just outside the edge of the salt fields themselves. Thankfully the new solar panels kept us powered enough to run the fan through the night so we could enjoy the views without being overly miserable due to the heat.
Pyramid Lake – Thanks to the power of social media, we stumbled upon Pyramid Lake on the western edge of Nevada and snagged a waterfront spot. While beautiful, the lake was incredibly windy; as in, I thought it was going to tip the camper over windy! The lake was formed by runoff water from Tahoe and it equally as blue and beautiful.
Carson City – We wanted to boondock one last night before heading to Lake Tahoe so we made our way to Carson City and found a spot at the Golden Nugget for the evening. For our first casino stay, it was pretty awesome! The town was so charming and fun to walk around and the best part was that we were staying next to the capital so along with casino security, local police were patrolling the area as well. Bonus!
Lake Tahoe – We just keep checking off those bucket list items! We stayed in the South Lake Tahoe city campground surrounded by towering trees and just across from the lake. It was quite a difference coming after the week full of crazy hot temperatures before; it was frigid and we had to bust out our winter gear again! The lake was stunning and despite the cold temperatures, we made sure to get out and enjoy it. We went on an actual date (I’m sure that sounds silly, but it isn’t often that we go on a bonified date) on a sunset dinner cruise around the lake. We had a great meal and even better views, complete with a loop around Emerald Bay.
Yosemite National Park – While we would have loved to scoot south on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada range, the snowfall over this last winter had everything packed in to the point that roads were closed. So, we made our way to Yosemite via the Golden Hills. The night before heading to the park, we stayed at an entertaining winery, Twisted Oak, and found the most charming town. Murphys, CA is such a quaint little town with strong Irish ties in the middle of beautiful rolling hills with mountain views. We were crazy enough to brave Yosemite on a Saturday, and thankfully we took the advice of travelers before us and got there super early. The park was overrun with people by the middle of the day, but by the time we were on more difficult hikes, it was like we were the only ones there. With the record snowfall came raging rivers and waterfalls shooting from the mountain tops. There is so much to do in the park and things are well managed with bus lines running through the park, but it was best to see it by foot. We even walked through the flooded valley floor with water so cold that it gave us an instant headache – crazy! This is definitely in the top five favorite national parks and another place we would love to go back to.
Monterrey – While trying to determine where to go next, we were looking for places a little cooler than the insanely hot temperatures we were experiencing and Monterrey just happened to be 30-40 degrees cooler than where we were. We packed up early and made the trek cross state and spent the day on the coast staring at blue water and huge waves rolling in. We drove around the peninsula and spent a few days just staring at the ocean and enjoying the atmosphere. Our favorite part may have been the drive to see Big Sur, and it was worth the twisty road to see coastline.
San Jose – Another moochdocking adventure for the books! We crashed my Aunt Therese’s house and had a great time getting to hang out with her without the rest of our crazy big family ? She has been in California for thirty years and this is the first time we’ve made it to her place – eek! We even took a trip to Jelly Belly – we couldn’t believe that she hadn’t been there before – it was heavenly!!
Calistoga – While we don’t make RV Park reservations in advance on a regular basis, we did have a week booked up in the Napa Valley before the rush of the 4th of July long weekend. We will actually be doing an entirely separate blog post on our time here, but needless to say, we looooooved it! We’ve been to wine country before, but it was so nice to be able to take our time and hit wineries that we hadn’t been to before. Look for more on this one in the near future!
Dublin – To avoid the crowds of people flooding the wineries (and roads), we dropped back down to the Bay Area and had the pleasure of staying with Shea’s boss and his family! While Shea has had work trips with Amit and Monisha, I was finally able to hang out with the folks who help make it possible to be out on the road. We were spoiled with home cooked Indian meals that Monisha was kind enough to make without the spicy heat that Shea would have liked. With a workday between the weekend and the holiday, we were able to run over to see the Alcor office in person. We had a leisurely start to the holiday with a girls’ outing to the mall (which was insanely busy) before attempting to head to the fair. While we weren’t able to make it to the fair, we did head over to Pleasanton (another adorable town) and got the coolest ice cream we have ever had in our lives. Monisha and their girls helped us make the most of our creations! We had such an awesome time with their whole family!
While we were there, we got to hang out with our friends, Arnold and Patty and their little munchkin, a whole bunch as well! They even drove up to Napa the week before to meet us for dinner before – they are awesome! We took a gorgeous hike that led us to a spot that looks over the valley before heading to their favorite winery – a great way to spend the day for sure.
We can’t wait to head back to see everyone again this autumn!
Petaluma – While we were originally going to stay in Santa Rosa, we were invited by some InstaFriends (ha!) to stay on their farmlet just outside of Petaluma. It is amazing how social media has helped create this community of travelers who meet up along the road and the Zimmermans are part of that awesome ecosystem. With an awesome moochdocking spot, we were able to explore the area a lot more than we were originally planning and we couldn’t be more grateful. We got to meet Dave and Ann in person at a great little beer garden in town along with some other travelers. It was a great launching point for the Golden Gate Bridge, Sonoma and Bodega Bay. While we have spent a lot of time in San Francisco, Shea hadn’t actually been to the bridge; so we had a little day trip with our friends, Jon and Nadia. We also spent a day in Bodega Bay (film location of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”) with Patty and Arnold grilling on the beach and enjoying the much cooler weather.
Ft. Bragg – This was just a one-day adventure, but it was worth noting nonetheless. After seeing pictures of Glass Beach a few years back we knew we had to visit. Unfortunately, most of the large chunks of glass have been harvested by other passers-by, but it was still neat to see in person. While we had plans to boondock that evening, we weren’t certain how the spot would turn out so we were taking a risk in hopes for the best. Fortunately, the spot right off of highway 1 ended up working out, albeit a little sketchy. We were one of about thirty vans or campers pulled over on the side of the busy highway with breathtaking views for the evening. We were tempted to stay another night, but after bending our front jack earlier in the week, we figured it was best to get to a town where we could replace it.
Redwoods – After leaving Fort Bragg we took the excessively windy road out to the 101 to head north to check out the infamous great Redwood forests. We started with the Avenue of Giants on the southern edge of the giant tree groves and over the course of the week made it all the way up to the northern groves in the state and national parks. We even ventured up the lesser developed forest roads to see the “Big Tree Area” and hike amongst the redwoods. One of our favorite parts of the forest was Fern Canyon along the coast; it looked like something straight out of a fairytale. Fun fact… parts of Jurassic Park were filmed in Fern Canyon.
Jacksonville – The start to state #33! We started our time in Oregon at a great little winery near the southern border of the state, just outside the super cute little town of Jacksonville. We love finding towns like this where they are little communities with all the amenities of a big city within 30 minutes, not to mention all there is to do nearby. We topped off the evening hanging out with the owner/winemaker of Long Sword, watching the paragliders hang above the hills in the distance. The winery even comes with an alarm clock… the roosters woke us up promptly at sunrise over the valley.
Crater Lake – While we stayed at Collier State Park on the outskirts of Crater Lake in order to have wifi signal, we spent two full days exploring this unbelievably beautiful national park. While the park is small, it is so uniquely gorgeous that it too, is in our top five list of favorite parks. Our friends, Heath and Alyssa, warned us that we wouldn’t be prepared for just how blue the water is and they were right. We have seen a LOT of beautiful blue water in our days, but Crater Lake is just so blue that it is hard to describe. On our second day in the park, we were lucky enough to have the east rim free of cars so we could bike without the crowds. The hills were brutal, but the views were certainly worth it. It didn’t hurt that there were still snow piles for us to cool off in!
Bend – Heading to Bend over the weekend meant we had to snag a campsite early and thankfully we were the first to arrive and get a riverside spot. I’m pretty sure all of Oregon goes camping on the weekend after seeing how quickly our campground filled up. We loved how much Bend had to offer so close to and in town. We explored the Lava Lands National Monument and loved seeing the volcanic activity throughout the area. We spent Sunday morning walking around downtown checking out all the local shops and eateries, it makes me hungry just thinking about it! Our favorite part of Bend has to be the Deschutes River and the hordes of people who all grab anything inflatable and float down the river, right through town. We met up with our fellow traveler friends, Jon and Nadia, and spent the afternoon floating with what seemed like the rest of the town! We can’t wait to return and do it all over again!
Newport – In what seems to be our new pattern, we escaped the mountain heat and shot west to the coast yet again for cooler temps and calming views. The Oregon coast has a similar feel to Duluth, MN, where Shea and I met so we are soaking in the gloomy mist that is engulfing the campground and surrounding area. We head out in a couple days to start making our way to Portland, so more to come on the rest of our activities next time!