Thursday, October 23, 2014

DAY 46 - Oct 23

Since the last post we have been exploring the east coast of California. And what a beautiful coast it is! A bit dry because of the severe drought (it hasn't rained much since last winter) but lovely none the less. We've been sleeping in campgrounds this week, lots of nice ones to choose from and the summer crowds are gone, just the hardier travellers braving the cool nights (around 10-14C at night). Which reminds me i have to buy some new breakers for the heater... dang things keep popping...

A windy beach where the girls compete with the remains of a sand sculpting competition. The sand was a greyish white and very sticky, perfect for sculpting!

Marianne and i got rained on at this beach but it was worth it, the waves where the biggest we had seen so far and made a thunderous bang as they crashed on the rocks. We had a blast as we ran from the side of the road to the overhanging cliff, through a winding path in the bushes. Then back to the car, wet but elated. I love those bonding moments :-)

Another view of the same beach.

We had lunch in a awesome restaurant perched at the top of a cliff overlooking the ocean. The food was excellent and the service top notch. Well worth the price!

Another spot farther down the coast, no access to the beach but a spectacular view.

Umm, another spot... so many nice views along the coast, hard to keep track!

Two explorers admiring the view.

Elephant seals! A couple of hundred of them warming up on the beach. Fighting, sleeping, farting, flopping around. Cool stuff.

Nights are so dark in the campground here, and the stars... wow! Wish i had a better camera to take pictures of the stars!

The girls chilling in their "bird nests" :-)

All right, gotta work now... sigh... freezing my butt off at the local Starbucks, what's with the insanely cold aircon when it's 15C outside!! I'm heading for the library now... warmer there!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Day 41 - Oct 18

This afternoon we went to the Fisherman's Warf  in Monterey for a cool ride in a sail boat to go whale watching. Unfortunately the whales where shy today but we got to see a lot of seals and dolphins.

Our marine biologist in training are ready to go.

I was surprised by the smooth ride of the sail boat, and the steep angle it takes as the wind tries it's best to capsize us!

If you squint you can see the dolphins, there was at least a hundred of them hunting for fish in that one spot.

The seals like to sleep and warm up in the sun anywhere they can. After fishing in the cold waters they have no choice but to come back and soak up some heat. Sometimes they make their way onto boats and have been known to sink a few when they gang up on them and their combined weight is to much for the boat!

Marianne got to pet some parrots after the sailing trip, very happy girl!

Lot's of pelicans hanging around the boats also.

We finished the trip with a seafood lunch at one of the excellent restaurants in the harbour followed by a treat at a desert place with a familiar name :-)

At night we had a BBQ with Erin's brother, their parents and the boys cousins at the farm. I learned to play Cribbage, which is a lot of fun. After the meal we tried some Ghost peppers from the farm... crazy stuff! We each had a tiny piece, barely a crumb, and our mouths where on fire for a half hour... it used to be the world hottest pepper, but it was recently dethroned by the Corolina Reaper pepper.

Friday, October 17, 2014

DAY 39 - Oct 16

Today we meet up with a local homeschooling group in the Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge, close to Monterey, CA. I found the group online a few days before and we we're quickly welcomed in by the group founder and all around nice lady, Erin, who invited us to stay at her organic farm. After barely surviving an aborted late night attempt to climb their steep driveway (aka Mount Doom), her hubby Cyrus kindly towed our camper up the next day using his monster truck... ok, just a regular big pickup. We learned that towing a heavy load with a front wheel drive does not work well on a really steep hill, we had no grip at all!

After settling in they made us a delicious supper to welcome us, was the best food we had in a long time! Erin's mom cooked some corn on the cob covered in melted Mexican cheese, what a tasty combo!

They have two boys that Marianne quickly befriended. Evalie took a little longer, as usual, but is warming up to them. She is not used to wild older boys, what with most of her friends being girls or younger boys.

Here is the group having fun colouring bird wings before heading off to the beach at the end of the trail in the wildlife refuge.

Finally, the Pacific Ocean!!! I took 5 weeks and 7500km but it was worth it!

What's this? A message in the sand to my sweet love Julie? Oh right, it's Julie's birthday today! Happy Birthday Julie!!!

The kids had a ton of fun building castles and walls to protect them.. alas, they were no match for the mighty Pacific waves!

Day 35 - Oct 13

We survived driving into San Francisco today, what a crazy town to drive in with a camper! Right off the bridge and we are confronted with a road we could barely decipher, blue painted lanes for taxies, tiny car lanes that you can only go 10 miles an hour on and have to share with bikes, electric buses zipping around clipped to overhead cable like old style tramways and no left turns... was a lot to take in at once but we managed. After that we saw that most of the road where normal compared to that first one! 

We made our way to the Golden Gate Park where we were treated to a free concert by the Golden Gate Park Band. The girls where very happy, i was tempted to send Marianne over to dance next to the conductor, but i figured he would not appreciate it... sigh.

After that we checked out the Japanese garden in the park. It was nice but expensive for such a small garden.

Next was the Science Museum. Nice also but very expensive for the family, over a $100! The museum has a planetarium, a tropical forest biodome (small compared the one in Montreal, which is hard to beat), an earthquake simulator and many exhibits. Here we see a fish that makes Grumpy Cat look like a happy cat!

After supper we had a walk around the lake where we saw a bridge right out of a Tolkien book!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

DAY 34 - Oct 11

Here are the highlights of the last few days.

OCT 8 

Captain's log, stardate 08102014... last night we... landed on a strange planet... it's.. otherworldly... the fauna and the... geology... are exotic. <for you non-geeks that should be read in James Kirk's voice... you know, Star Trek... sigh>.

We stayed at the Hole in the Wall campground in the Mojave National Preserve. Very dry, very hot and high altitude.. the hike didn't last long!

A mama mountain lion and her cubs.

Breakfast in the park.

Oct 11

Sequoia National Park in California. A tree hugger paradise :-)

General Sherman Tree. The biggest (by volume) tree in the world and over 2300 years old.

Our homelearners hard at work earning their Junior Ranger badges by completing some quizzes and exercises. National Parks in the states are well organized for teaching small and big kids all about nature and ecology. We've learned some cool stuff so far.

Today we are in Madera planning our next step: find a nice place to relax for a few weeks before we start our journey to Florida, then back up to Laval to cool off (it's been 33C for the last few days in California).

Monday, October 6, 2014

DAY 27 - Oct 4

Last night we camped at a nice RV campground in the Glen Canyon park.

Here we see Evalie this morning, in her increasing use of my iPhone to make surprisingly decent photos and goof around on video :-)

Btw i hope my old iPhone 4 survives until the end of the trip. It's getting it's fair share of sand, falls and greasy little hands on it. Can't wait to upgrade to an iPhone 6 when i get back!

I don't think i need to say where this is! Damn, that is one big hole!! Up to a 1.6km deep!!! The museum and visitor center is very nice and instructive, we learned a lot about the formation and exploration of the Grand Canyon. Here you can tell Evalie was very tired when we took the picture (last night actually, just before sunset). I had to watch her very closely so she wouldn't step off into the void...

At night we slept in one of the campgrounds in the Canyon Park. Very nice, saw lot's of stars despite the almost full moon.

Another view this morning.

And another.

And... another.

DAY 26 - Oct 3

Last night we slept at a RV campground in Page, Arizona, in the Glen Canyon National Park.

We took a boat trip on lake Powell in the Antelope Canyon.

Further down the river.

Gilligan and his crew.

On our way to the Lower Antelope Canyon while on Ken's Tours.

Down the rabbit hole!

Amazing rock formation throughout the canyon. This one is called "woman in the wind".

Another cool formation.

And again... you get the picture, impossible to make a bad photo in this place!

The exit. We looked like we are coming out of the bowels of the earth.

DAY 25 - Oct 2

Today was a quiet day of travel. Guess from the next photo which state we are in... hint: that's not a beer can my pregnant wife is drinking! :-)

A typical view from our window on the drive. Very nice rock formations all over the place.

Small mountain in the middle of nowhere.

A sand stone hill with an enthusiastic little girl at the top.