Saturday, November 29, 2008

Just Here For The Weekend

When we arrived Friday night we knew we would just be here for a couple days, for right now anyway. On Saturday, Bob's grandson had a full day planned for the two of them. He had fine tuned his driving since our last visit and was anxious to show Papa Bob some places he'd discovered in his travels around the area. They had a great day, even drove out to Santa Monica, having lunch at the Pier. Papa Bob explained to this young man that you don't have to pay the $10 or $12 for public parking at the Pier. You merely park at Sears, walk the few blocks to the Pier, then make a purchase when you come back to Sears and show the receipt to the Sears Parking Attendant and you've got 2 hours free parking.

Sunday was a busy day. We had to drag our suitcases out from behind the front seat of the truck and get them in order for Monday's departure on Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas. It was a day of ironing, making decisions about which clothes to take and which to leave behind, give one last pressing to those that need it, where are the Passports, the cruise documents, secure the proper tags on all the luggage, etc. etc. I decided to leave the shirts and blouses until Monday morning to be packed, then they'd only be in the suitcase a few hours.

Bob's Pasadena daughter is such a good cook. We had scrumptious meals everyday we were there. So our weekend dinners were to die for.

Monday morning it was the final packing, and loading the bags in the back of the car....and by noon we were heading out to San Pedro, CA and the Los Angeles Cruise Ship Center. It's about a 45 minute drive at that time of the day. Fortunately we'd just been there in March so we knew the way and remembered "don't go over the big bridge!" Ensenada mexico Oct 20081 They are so organized at these places. Hope pulled up to the curb, after hugs good bye, we got out and Bob unloaded our bags, there was a man right there with a big flat cart and onto the cart went our bags and away he went. You're given tags with your name and Cabin # on each ~so they can get your bags to your cabin with in a couple hours. With over 2,00o passengers on most of these ships~that's amazing.

We'd completed the on-line check in but still needed to get in line and step up to the counter to show our Passports and complete the process. Which included each of us getting our Sea Pass. The Sea Pass is your personal ID on the cruise, it's linked to a credit or debit card for on-board purchases and also identifies you as you depart and re-enter the ship.

Sea Pass1

As we proceeded to the ship, we handed our Sea Pass to a man, he puts it in a machine, you stand on a line and look into a camera affair & they take your picture~your face is now attached to your Sea Pass. When you go ashore, you have to have your Sea Pass handy and they pop it in the machine and look to be sure it's really you. Even the little ones do this.

By the time we got all checked in and on board we headed to our cabin and found my bags already in the cabin & Bob's showed up about 15 minutes later. The first thing I like to do is pick my drawers & get everything unpacked. We are "home" now for the next four days so lets make it look like home. We stow the suitcases in the closet and head up to the "Welcome Aboard" buffet. Lunch ~ yummy!! They have so many good things to eat, it's hard to choose. After eating lunch we headed up to the pool deck. The "Sail Away" festivities were in full swing and there were lots of people already splashing about in the big beautiful pool, some even in the hot tub. Ensenada mexico Oct 20084

Ensenada mexico Oct 20085 (a lesson in line dancing)

This is a very beautiful port and once again the weather was gorgeous. Sun, gentle breeze, we're on board a beautiful cruise ship. Ahhhh this is the life.

At 4pm everyone dons their life vest and heads to their assigned Muster Stations. This is a mandatory activity and all passengers must participate. I understand if you decide to skip out on this they come looking for you later & you still have to do it. They did mark each of us off by cabin number as we entered the deck area where the drill was held. The ship does not leave the dock until this drill is over. We always hope that this will be the only time we have to put those life vests on........Ensenada mexico Oct 20082

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Ensenada mexico Oct 20087(our ship was in the waterway behind that building)

Shortly after 5pm we slowly pulled away from the dock. The Port Police had a boat on each side of us and of course there was the Pilot boat. Ensenada mexico Oct 20088

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As we headed out to sea, people along the waterway waved goodbye & we waved back. Ensenada mexico Oct 200812 Ensenada mexico Oct 200813

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Soon the Port Police boats turned and went back and shortly after that the Pilot boat pulled up close and the Pilot jumped off the ship onto the deck of the Pilot boat. We were own our own heading out to sea. Ensenada mexico Oct 200820

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We sat on the deck for an hour or so, watching the people and since we had a late dinner seating (8pm) we had some time to re-explore the ship. We were just on the Monarch in March, so it was pretty easy to find our way around. After looking over the excursions list, we headed to the appropriate desk and got signed up for an excursion in each of the ports we would be visiting this week.

We eventually went back to the cabin where we met our cabin attendant for the first time. He was such a nice fellow~I chuckled each time he called Bob "Mr. Robert." We freshened up for dinner and took off down to Claude's Dining Room ~ table 440. That first dinner you always feel a little apprehensive....most of the tables in the large dining rooms are for 6 or 8 people so you never know who you're going to be eating with. Once again we were blessed to have 2 couples who were delightful dinner companions for the week. Allen & Kathi from Pennsylvania and Howard and Grace from Vancouver, BC shared our table. Every evening with these 4 other people was delightful!

Tuesday morning, we'll be in San Diego~

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Will We Get To Pasadena By This Evening?

After a delicious pancake breakfast at Mc Donald's, we continued south on Highway 101. After awhile we came to beautiful Pismo Beach. It was so beautiful, we pulled into the public parking area, Bob put enough money into the slot for us to have 90 minutes on the pier or on the beach. It was absolutely beautiful there. Sit back, relax and imagine the warm sun, a slight breeze, the beauty of the Pacific ocean ~ sand & surf, the seagulls, the surfers, the people playing on the beach.....just let your mind take you away and you'll know what sort of day it was.

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There's such a beautiful sloping beach here at Pismo Beach.

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Those dark spots are not seals~those are surfers, waiting for the perfect wave.

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This little place is about mid-way on the pier. You can rent a fishing rod, get a snack, even a postcard here.

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There is now a fine for feeding the pigeons and seagulls at Pismo Beach. They produce hundreds of pounds of waste which causes diseases and ruins the wood pier.

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This pretty little church is on the National Historic Registry.

We reluctantly walk back to the truck and get back on the freeway. I had been looking for my sunglasses all day so when we got to Oxnard we pulled off the freeway and went into Wal Mart so I could get some new clip on sunglasses that fit my glasses. They are so expensive~I think they were $16 and would you believe I later found my old ones. Oh well, now I have two pair so should never be without them.

Meanwhile, we're in rush hour traffic and the going is so slow. I think we saw the first Pasadena sign ~

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but it would be two hours before we actually got to the home of Bob's daughter & family.

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It was good to be off the freeway and heading up the tree lined streets toward their house.

We pulled up to the gate and called for them to open it at about 7pm.

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It was so good to see everyone, they came running out and there were hugs all around. Bob's daughter, Hope had some dinner ready and we gladly sat down to feed our faces.

We checked our mileage....we'd driven 1,380 miles since we left my house in Washington state.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thursday September 25, 2008 ~We need to get moving!

When we woke up this Thursday morning, we finally got to see where we camped last night. (Remember it was pitch black when we pulled into this campground at 8pm). It was so beautiful! We were right in among the giant Redwood trees.

Look at the size of the stump behind me!

Bob getting the camper loaded up.

When you look up into these magnificant trees...well, lets just say one feels very small indeed.

It's interesting to look at the bark of the Redwood up close. Not like the Douglas Fir that grows here in the Pacific northwest, that's for sure.
They have these food lockers at all the camp sights for those with tents. Put your food in there & lock it up or the bears will come looking for it in your tent.
On the road again. This is a little section of highway called "Avenue of the Giants" off Highway 101. Very narrow but then 101 isn't much different in some areas.

We stopped here briefly. Sometimes there will be a chainsaw carver working but not today. This place along the highway has all things Redwood & Bigfoot. (They don't know that Bigfoot lives in Washington state!)

We finally got on the road again, knowing that we needed to cover some distance today if are ever going to get to Pasadena by Friday evening. We stopped in another cute little town ~ Willits, California for gas. But, oh my it was so hot! I'm sure it was at least 100*. Just suffocating!

From Willits we continued on, rolling into the San Francisco around 4pm. Before heading across the Golden Gate bridge we turned off and went up into the Presido on the northern tip of the San Francisco peninsula. The narrow winding road takes you high up into the hills above the Golden Gate bridge and offers magnificent views of San Francisco Bay and of the city. This area has a very interesting history. It has been a fortified location since 1776 when the Spanish made it the military center of their expansion in the area. It was later passed to Mexico and they passed it to the United States in 1847. In 1995 it was closed as a military base and since then has began the change of mixed commercial and public use. In 1962 Congress recognized the Presido as a National Historic Landmark. As you drive around you can still see many of the old bunkers and of course buildings used for military purposes in the past. This particular afternoon, it was sunny and warm up there but extremely windy. Almost so windy we could barely open the doors of the truck to get out and take pictures.
Up in the Presido. I believe the housing down there is still being used by military personnel. There were people on the beach and vehicles coming & going. Can you believe that guy out there? The wind was blowing so hard~I was afraid he'd loose his balance and fall off.

Bird Rock (YUCK!!!!!!!!!)

One of the old military buildings left for public viewing. As I remember, this was a Brig. There were bars on the windows.

The Golden Gate Bridge

It was so windy here this picture of "The Rock" also known as Alcatraz was a little blurry. I was leaning on a bench but that wasn't enough.

We'll be down there soon.
After leaving the Presido we crossed the Golden Gate bridge, paying the $5.00 toll (you only pay when you're going southbound) blending in with all the commuter traffic.

heading for the toll booth
We're in town now and heading for Beach Street that will take us down to Fisherman's Wharf.

This sign cracked me up! Even if I was a wine drinker, I don't think I'd feel comfortable in SNOB bar. LOL !
The houses are so close together but they are all so beautiful. When we came home I took more pictures of these homes. I'll share those at a later date.

heading down towards Fisherman's Wharf.

This particular line of the trolley car system starts in front of this 24 hour Walgreen Store.
The traffic wasn't really that bad, those people move right along and are courteous enough to let you change lanes when you put on your turn signal. Our destination goal was the Fisherman's Wharf area to get something to eat and then on down 101 to a campground.

We actually found a parking place right at the corner of Jefferson and Jones. Bob pulled that big truck & camper right in and we filled the parking meter full of quarters and took off walking down the street.

How would you like a loaf of crab shaped sourdough bread? I got a small loaf of regular shaped sourdough~theirs is so good!
Most of the eating places were already really busy by this time, so we ended up walking back past the truck and went into In-N-Out for dinner (yum? yum!).

Robin, I had a fry in your honor!

One last walk past the marina and then we went back to the truck and headed south on Highway 101.

It was now after 7pm and Bob said that we'd pull into the first campground or rest area and spend the night. We saw some private campgrounds but a couple of them wanted $40 for a night and that's just ridiculous! We kept thinking we'd find a rest area~so we kept driving and driving and driving. Finally about 150 miles south of S.F, near Soledad, CA I saw a big McDonald's sign off to the side of the freeway and we could see lots of semi trucks in their parking lot. By now it's almost 11pm and we are both exhausted. So we took the exit and found a spot out at the end of this huge parking lot and settled in for the night. We figured if we could get a couple hours sleep & then someone pounded on the door and told us to leave~at least we would have some sleep . Well, no one bothered us and we slept like babies.

The next morning, we went into the McDonald's for some breakfast and told the manager we'd looked for a rest area after leaving S.F. and there didn't seem to be any. He said, "no, there's no rest areas between here and S.F. but you're always welcome to park here." Wow ! How nice of them! I'm still going to write Arnold Schwarzenegger (former actor and now governor of CA) about this situation. That's crazy not to have a place for people to pull over & take a rest break. We did consider that big prison just off the highway there in Soledad but by the time we stopped we were too tired to care. However, I had my can of Hornet & Wasp spray ready in case someone came breaking in the back door of the camper.

It's now Friday morning~will we make it to Pasadena tonight or not? That remains to be seen.