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First Road Trip of 2021: A newly remodeled van and an Ice Storm or two

Here is a preview to the Ice Storm we followed into Washington.

After completing our 2020 trips we decided it was time to remodel the van setup. We had stopped in to see our pal Joe, of PropToro vans and saw his bed lift setup. We had to have that. And so it begins...

Darin researched linear actuators and we measured everything we wanted to fit under the bed and decided on new shelving. I tend to over pack for trips and we like to keep the common area clear of clutter so under bed storage is vital for peace and harmony.

Darin leans toward the minimalist style and I like to keep things... When we moved into our home in Oceanside he used a suitcase, I used a 26 foot Uhaul. It was a process. I always marvel at the minimal lifestyle and would love to achieve it but how do I part with all my stuff? Over the years, that has gotten easier, but still! It is an issue.

Once we completed the remodel it was time to try it out.

Packed and ready to hit the road! 2/8/2021 - We left home at 11:15am to take Shadow to Wendy’s… my BFF is the best and thank God she loves me and our dog.

Covid was still very active but the CA Governor has lifted most restrictions – except indoor dining at restaurants and hasn’t completely reopened schools. Traffic was nothing compared to pre-Covid conditions but the homeless encampments were massive and scattered everywhere. As we drove north, we discussed where we might go and what route we might take. Hwy 1 made the list but likely will not make the list again south of Cambria. However, North of Cambria was closed due to a huge mudslide/landslide in the Big Sur area that took out a large chunk of road. So... 101 it is.

Our first night was right on the coast (hwy1) with an unobstructed view of the ocean and dinner was a nice walk up to the Bar & Grill for some fabulous fish & chips and a burger & shoestring onion rings on the patio.

The next morning we took Hwy 46 from the 1 to the 101 at Paso Robles and drove up the 101 until the exit for Salinas/Castroville and took up Hwy 1 again. At lunch time we stopped at a pullout near Pigeon point that had one other vehicle. While we finishing our sandwiches we noticed another car pull in. The driver hopped out, handed the first guy a burrito, took some money and then sped away down the Highway… Uber-eats? Shockingly Darin didn’t approach the guy to ask but it fed our conversation for a few miles. Basic topic of, “my, how things have changed”.

We made our way to Uncle Brian’s and missed out on a flat spot but found a spot close enough. We worked on a few tasks and had a great visit, spent two nights.

2/11 We crossed the Golden Gate bridge and exited 101 back for Hwy 1 for the beautiful coastal drive. Knowing how long staying on the 1 would take, we decided to cut back over to the 101 into Santa Rosa. As we cruised up the 101 we saw something you don't see everyday so we u-turned to get a better look.

We stayed on the 101 and used the iOverlander app to find “Wild Bird Camping" on Old State Hwy. It was rainy but provided peaceful flat sleeping. This spot was near "The Lagoons" and well worth checking out if you are in the area.

2/12 Lots more rain. Stopped in Langlois to eat at The Spoon, a tradition of ours. WHOA! Wait, WHAT??!! Now it is Sushi?!?!?!? Umm, I love Sushi but this was an old greasy spoon joint with awesome food. I must say the sushi was also awesome, so the tradition can continue.

The rain continued and the Storm Radar app made things look ominous. We almost stayed at Heceta Lighthouse but moved on to Neptune South Vista and hunkered down – NASTY wind and rain storm.

2/13-15 We left the spot at 8:30am… Continued up 101 toward Astoria. When we got to Astoria the Maps app said the Columbia River bridge was closed! But as we approached they must have just reopened it ICE was everywhere on the bridge.

The night’s ice storm slammed the SW coast of Washington pretty hard. But we managed the roads nicely and got a scenic drive in up the 101/107/12/8/101 to I-5 toward Seattle. After Seattle the roads were a bit more snowy into Bellingham. We stayed 3 nights and enjoyed a great visit and the beautiful foot of snow at my brother’s.

We were also introduced to VR (Virtual Reality). I've never been big on video games, but killing Zombies is my thing! Who knew? We have since purchased a set of Oculus2 headsets and the Zombie killing continues.

2/16 The rain came and washed the roads clear for us to head south and west again… As you know by now, we prefer the scenic routes so on our way home we drove to Westport, WA and took the coast south. Did you know there were cranberry fields in this area? - I didn't.

Stopped in Rockaway beach at a trailhead parking lot near Mr Nice Guy Pot Shop on the east side of 101. Pretty quiet – this was an iOverlander find - left at 8am, had no issues.

2/17 – Stopped to checkout Barview Jetty County Campground – very nice. In Tillamook we turned west onto 131 (3rd St) towards Oceanside/Cape Meares/Netarts and drove about 9 miles to the coast. Along the way in we passed a campground and a small rest area. Cape Meares is a MUST see. The Cape Meares, Oceanside and Netarts coastline is a little hidden gem of hiking trails and the beautiful rugged coast.

As we reentered the 101 we were at Pacific City and saw a campground that looked worthy of a drive thru to check it out. Not sure if I actually live under a rock or just don’t realize things when I see them but this campground is where I found out about Thousand Trails. At first glance and prior to thorough investigation this sounds like a great idea for long-term travellers. It’s one fee for a year of camping, depending on what you sign up for, there are restrictions but they seem manageable. Anyway – more on that once we look into it.

We were taking our time down the coast looking at the State Parks and different locations identified by the iOverlander App and decided we wanted to see the next Thousand Trails Campground. I plugged it into the Maps app and saw that 101 was closed between Yachats and almost to Florence – detour required. The next 50 mile stretch took over 3 hours, at Newport we turned left onto Hwy 20 towards Boston Mass, yes that is what the sign says.

However, we turned right when we got to Corvalis took Hwy 99W south to Hwy 126 to Florence. Hwy 20 was not our friend, a huge rock smacked our windshield. If you've never been told this, then allow me... NEVER follow a dump truck too closely. You just never know what might bounce out. And IF you are a dump truck driver, use the damn cover when you are hauling rocks and other projectiles. We cruised through the Thousand Trails in Florence and headed to Dune City for the night at a trailhead located by the iOverlander app. We’ve had difficulty finding spots in this area before so we were very happy to find this spot.

The rain and wind continued, and so did we. 2/18 we left Tahkenitch Trailhead Parking. We saw a bounty of possibilities for boondocking and camping. Stopped in Winchester Bay OR for a GREAT breakfast at Jackson’s Café & More – bought desserts.

We again used iOverlander and stayed at the Port Orford Parking lot with ocean view to wait out the storm instead of chasing it. Quiet night – one knock on the door but they went away as we ignored them.

2/19 Left at 9am headed south. Part of 101 is closed AGAIN past Crescent City but we trudged on to see what we can do and where we can go. In Gold Beach we found a great artist, two actually – Tod & Jeanne Steele at ipaintanimals.com featured at the Indian Creek Café, the Port Hole and Gold Beach Books. Their work is amazing and their customer service is even better. Please check out their website and blog. This is the print I ordered; one for me and one for my BFF! We can relate!

At Crescent City, CA, we had to detour due to rockslide road closures. 199 East to Grants Pass, we drove up to Mt Ashland Ski resort and considered staying in their back lot for the night but we still had plenty of daylight left and the weather app said more snow was due so we moved on down to just north of Yreka on 263 for a quiet spot on the river near a bridge.

2/20 CA 96, 36 & 3 had more road closures so we chose 299 west at Redding to get back to the coast. So many boondocking and USFS camping opportunities!! The Van Duzen County Campground in the Redwoods is amazing! Closed to camping due to COVID but an absolute MUST! Off the 101 on the 36 east about 13 miles out.

We headed back to 101 and took hwy 254, Avenues of the Giants and found Ancient Redwoods Resort – closed! We parked in the parking lot for the night. We were less than 2 miles from Redcrest, CA and the Redcrest Resort but chose the parking lot anyway.

2/21 We left at 6:30am – From CA1 we took 128 to Cloverdale to see the Russian River RV Resort Thousand Trails. Then back to 101 to San Francisco. Another quick visit with my uncle and run some errands with him.

2/22 We checked out SF Rv Resort by Thousand Trails. Headed south on CA1 toward Santa Cruz and checked out Morgan Hill TT then drove south on 101 to Hwy46 west to CA1 North to Cambria, slept at our usual coastal spot and had dinner at the Bar and Grill. HWY 46 aka Green Valley Rd has 4-5 boondocking options.

The ride home is always a mixed bag... sad to end a trip but excited about planning another one. Plus, we sold out of screens on the road so we need to get back and stock up again. Check those out HERE

The tour through the Thousand Trails was really cool and the membership seems like something we would use. The day use option alone is enticing.

2/23 is my mom's birthday, Happy Birthday Mama. I love you!

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