Week 9-  Oct 24 Week: San Francisco Here We Come!

Sunday turned out to be yet another sunny day.  We have been fortunate that even though the forecasts have been for rain every day, we have had good weather with only one completely rainy day!  

We decided to hold a private, family church service on the property of our RV park, overlooking the ocean.  I read Job 38 where God responds after Job’s so-called friends have been counseling him to reject God and give up because of all of the trials he has been through.  God compares man’s knowledge of the world to His control and understanding of creation.  The parts about the origin and immensity of the oceans were especially poignant as the waves crashed against the shore! 

Before heading out of Newport, we visited the aquarium in town.  It was top notch… a great way to pull together what we have seen and learned about the ocean this week.  There were exhibits explaining the shore life we have been so enjoying, plus live bird, fish, and animal exhibits highlighting the indigenous creatures of this area.  The highlight was a tank with a large octopus that you could view closely through the glass. 

As we headed out of town, our memorable stay in the Newport area was topped off with a stop at the best tide pool of the trip at an area called Strawberry Hill.  It was low tide, and the area was teeming with life.  As a bonus, a rock island that was a stone’s throw away from the shoreline was blanketed with seals basking in the afternoon sun. 

We made it down the coast as far as the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.  We knew this would be a trip highlight for Nate so we decided to rent a dune buggy and ATV for an hour, first thing on Monday before heading on down the coast to California.  For the hour that we played around on the dunes, the clouds held their fury, then as soon as we started our travel day, heavy rain started and lasted the whole day!  We, and especially Nate, appreciated that little treat from God. 

We had originally planned to cut back inland in southern Oregon, but snows have come early to the Cascades and inland ranges.  We removed Crater Lake from the itinerary for this reason.  Driving Harvey through snowy mountain passes with chains is one adventure on which I can pass…  Instead, we came down the coast on 101 which is pretty, but slow at times. 

In northern California, there are several places where we drove through Redwood National Park.  Late in the afternoon, after making it through one such area with massive redwoods standing right at road’s edge, along curves, grades, and construction; we made a steep descent along the coast and decided to stop for the night at one of the plentiful pull offs right along the ocean.   

One of the great things about a rig like Harvey is the self-contained systems that allow us to “boon dock” with all of the comforts of home wherever we are.  This night, it allowed us to sleep twenty feet from the crashing waves of the Pacific!  As we ate dinner with fresh baked cookies in the midst of God’s glory, I put on one of our favorite Christmas piano CD’s.  From now on, when we play it during our special Christmas Eve dinner, it will bring back this memorable night! 

The next morning we stayed at our “campsite” to do our schooling with the ocean waves out the window and a recess of beachcombing before heading off toward San Francisco the rest of the day.  There were several RV Parks along the way that were full or unacceptable, so we kept driving on into the evening, something that I’ve vowed to never do.  Finally we made the decision to try another Walmart night in Windsor, with memories of our Cedar Rapids nightmare in mind.  Fortunately, this time we had the opposite experience!  We parked on a quiet edge of the property and the night was actually quite comfortable.

After schooling, we only drove a short way to Petaluma on Wednesday so that we could drop off Harvey at Hansel RV early the next morning.  We stayed at a big KOA that during the summer is highly popular with people from the San Fran area.  Thankfully, it wasn’t busy, since the campsites are getting tighter and tighter as we come further into California.  There was another family at the park, so our kids got another dose of playmate medicine.  We also met a couple who has been full-timing for nine years.  As we watched the lunar eclipse in a crystal sky, they gave us some good ideas for our future planning in the southwest. 

We had arranged to have some maintenance work done while we drove into San Francisco with the van for five days to stay with Brenda’s sister Denise’s family.  Another adventure that I didn’t want to try was driving Harvey in San Fran, so this plan worked out perfectly.  Thankfully the folks at Hansel were very helpful in getting us an appointment with short notice (something that has been impossible at other places along the way).  They even let us store our bikes in a covered area on their back lot since we had to move out of Harvey for this period. 

After moving out of Harvey at Hansel’s on Thursday morning, we stopped at Mrs. Grossman’s sticker factory for another of the factory tours that we enjoy so much.  The tour was one of our favorites, and our guide Robert entertained all of us with his creative, out-of-the-box personality!  As with all of our tours, a lot more goes into stickers than one would expect.  The new laser cutting technology that makes intricate, lacey stickers was fascinating. 

The kids could barely contain themselves the rest of the day, in anticipation of seeing their cousins that evening.  We came into San Francisco by way of the Golden Gate Bridge under a cloudless sky.  Standing at the observation area gave us a great overview of the area we would be exploring the next few days, including the San Francisco peninsula, Alcatraz, and the ocean.  Walking out on the bridge we could see several sea lions playing down in the bay below.  It was a grand reunion when we made it to the kids’ Uncle Doug and Aunt Denise’s house in San Francisco.  The kids were immediately playing together like they see each other every day! 

On Friday we had a good homeschool time while the cousins were at their school, and in the afternoon we got to experience driving the winding roads of San Francisco with Denise.  In the evening, the kids rode their first big public transportation system with their introduction to BART.  They loved it as we took it downtown to a theatre complex in the Metrion for a movie with both families, and again on Saturday as we checked out Chinatown.  Brenda and I enjoyed getting off the beaten path to the road with all of the food markets there.  It was a little too much for at least one of the kids- the sights and smells of frogs and eels and huge chopped up fish as we pushed through the throng.

As we were watching the children’s movie “Shark Tales” that Friday, Brenda and I mused upon our choice of anniversary celebrations… our sixteenth was that night.  Ahh, parenting.