Sunday, April 16, 2017

From Klamath River, California to Jedediah Smith Redwoods to Rogue River, Oregon and the North Umpqua River Valley

A northern view of the Klamath River entering the Pacific Ocean.  The river is on the far side , flowing from your left to right.
 Leaving Kamp Klamath, we had traveled a short way on Route 101 north to Requa and up about 600 plus feet for the first picture above. Following that we continued on Route 101 north to Crescent City.  This road was quite hilly and winding. But what was more concerning was the amount of slide damage from the recent storms.  There were a number of sections that were one lane only as crews were working to repair roads that had lost most of the underlying support.
 While waiting for the one lane signals we notice first the mural style painting on the back of the Class C in front.  Then we notice the license plate---Maine!!.  how about that.
 Crescent City is a small town on the northern coast of California.  When we headed in---to pick up a few groceries--we noticed that it might be a lot busier in the summer season.  As it was, there were a number of wind surfers in the 40 degree weather enjoying some strong winds.  We parked out by the water to have some fresh toasted bagel and cream cheese and a great view.
 This was our view, Battery Point Lighthouse.
 A short distance above Crescent City, we branch off on Route 199 which will eventually bring us to Grants Pass in Oregon.  Still in California though, we stop for a few nights in the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. 
 Jan and I are treated to many Trillium , both white and this purple one.
 This will be our last section of giant redwood trees.
Always impressive.
 Yes, it is raining again.  Some of you know that we will often stay put in a campground and wait for sunshine, if it is raining.  But since Central California, we have had many more days of rain and very few days of sun.  Right now, we are averaging one day of sun for six days of rain.
 Besides------it makes the narrow, curvy,steep, drop-off-the-side Route 199 that much more interesting.
 Since it is raining---no solar charging today--, we decide to stop at Bridgeview RV Resort in Rogue River, Oregon, just past Grants Pass.  
Though the sites are close together, we have a view of the Rogue River.  The owners and campers we meet are quite friendly and helpful. If it had been sunny, we would have been staying 2 miles down the road(Route 5) at Valley of the Rogue State Park.  In a few weeks or so, there will be many kayakers and rafters on this river.
 A plus for our stay was being a short walk from La Guacamaya Mexican Restaurant.  We had stopped here two years ago in the middle of a bike ride from the state park.  Wonderful food. This time Jan had Huarache with shredded pork and I had Chimichunga-chicken.
This link will give you a little of the Yelp pictures and reviews.

From Bridgeview we head back a few miles to Grants Pass and the Fred Meyer grocery store.  These are always an eyeopener for us.  It is like a huge megastore with furniture, food, and more.  But the grocery section is something like a Market Basket to Whole Foods.  Wow!!
From there, we head north on Route 5 to exit 119, Route 42 west to Tenmile and the Girardet Wine Cellars, another Harvest Host.
 A pleasant, welcoming tasting room.
 Lady Blue is happy to rest amongst the vines again.
We are far enough north to notice that the vines are just beginning to bud.  This is a small vineyard, but still has a good supply of chardonnay, zinfandel, merlot, temperanillo and more. Two new names for us were Seyval Blanc and Baco Noir (their flagship wine). We had a great talk with Yvette, our host for the tasting, and Marc , the owner.  The following link should take you to the background story for Girardet.  We found it quite interesting.
And, of course, it rained again.
But---this time we are treated to a wonderful double rainbow.
A very short time, but, oh so bright!
From Girardet, we head back to Route 5 north to Sutherlin to pick up our mail--it's been about a month.  
Then we head back south a few miles to exit 125 west to Melrose and Melrose Vineyards.
This is a larger production with a very nice barn style tasting room.
Another Harvest Host, they were quite happy to have us as Harvest Host members.  Other Hosts have been welcoming as well, but this time we spent a good bit of time discussing RV travel with two of the Melrose staff.  Interesting also, that we had given a copy of our Escapee RV magazine to Yvette, our Girardet host who is interested in doing the RV life.
Lady Blue is quite comfortable in her parking spot.
Melrose does a lot of Event Planning--weddings, etc.
Lots of space to park and for catering or cooking on site, plus entertainment.
Not only a beautiful tasting room, but long distance views once the clouds lifted.
Melrose had a long list for tasting of about 14 different whites and reds.  New for us here was the Viognier white. The Riesling was also quite enjoyable and the Pinot Noirs.
These vineyards are part of the Umpqua Valley Wine Area.
This link goes to the Melrose website
A little more of the view with the distant mountains and the storage and bottling facility to the left.
From Melrose, we head into Roseburg and onto the Umpqua Scenic Highway , Route 138 east to Steamboat Inn.  This location used to be the North Umpqua Lodge, where names like Ernest Hemingway and Zane Grey would gather for Fly Fishing and relaxing.
The above link will give you some good history of the area.
Just click on each section like "introduction"
The Cafe was open for brunch.
Jan and I ate in the dining room--a little to the left of this.
This is the Library where , in the busy weekends, guests can gather for drinks and appetizers before dinner.
The view is right down to the river.
Jan had a Strawberry/Rhubarb rollup with sour cream and I had Orange French Toast with cheese filling.
Nice hand made fly fishing lures.
A premier area for fly fishing. Note that miles of this river are limited to fly fishing only.
We saw many fly fishermen on our trip to Steamboat. There were at least two here(note the one on the river curve on the left).  The river is running quite well with the rain and the snow melt just beginning.  The river is noted for Steelhead Trout.
We head back to Sutherlin and our membership Escapee park Timber Valley.  Nice, large sites and entertainment from the local wild turkeys--with a few jackrabbits as well.



Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sonoma to Redwood Forest, California

We had to visit a few more wineries in Lodi.

Klinker Brick was a very welcoming visit.
 Website for Klinker Brick Winery

 Flowers were already out .

 Amazing what you can make with pieces of an old oak wine barrel.

We had a bicycle flat tire which required a new tube.  We were lucky to find Lodi Bike shop.  While we waited we walked some of the downtown streets. A very friendly town.

Jan was tempted by this butterfly rug in a window.
A wide variety of restaurants.  
 We had a great visit to McCay Winery , recommended by a young gentleman at the bicycle shop.
Allen drew a tasting from a barrel of Equity Zinfandel. Two years in the barrel  and about to be bottled.  This would only be sold by the case.  Tempted to order a case.
The following is their website. Marsha and Mark note the Cycling Club menu at the top.  Not sure how many tastings you can do safely and still ride?
McCay Cellars 
When you see the website, click on the "wines"column and go to Equity Zinfandel(the one above).  Note how specific the description is, including the time of day for picking the grapes.
We also chatted about skiing in California and Allen's son, who is now living in the Boston area.
 Our last stop was Jessie's Grove Winery.
 Here we saw the oldest vines in Lodi. One old field of Zinfandel goes back to the 1880's.  
 These are some of the older vines.  Old Vines are at least 25 years old and Ancient Vines, like these, are more than 75 years old.
Are you impressed?  We are learning!

Jessie's had some wonderful fragrant lilacs , as well as rose blossoms.
This link will take you to Jessie's website Jessie's Grove Website

On the property are roosters, chickens, a great old barn, and a tortoise.
From Lodi, we headed west on Route 12 through the delta(rivers emptying into San Francisco area bays) Some are the Sacramento,San Joaquin(flowing from the Sierra Nevada Mountains), and the Napa Rivers. Due in part to the high cost of land in the area of Napa, there are very few campgrounds.  We finally found a site at the KOA in Petaluma. That worked out well because we were given directions for a nice travel loop through Sonoma , mostly on Route 12 from Santa Rosa south through the town of Sonoma. Beautiful ride! Above is the Ledson Winery.
Jan and I welcome you to our new home!
Just kidding!
Yes, it was cool enough for a fire in the fireplace.  We had another great chat with our server.  Part of the discussion was about how the building was modeled after Normandy estates, described as French Normandy Gothic. It has 16,000 square feet and was to be Steve Ledson's home. But, as it was nearing completion, he discovered it attracted too many curiosity seekers and offered too little privacy. So , it became their tasting room.
Ledson Winery Website 
You will find more history and wine info on the website.
Also, you may have noticed that many of these wineries have "wine clubs".  Since many are small vineyards by the number of cases produced, they can sell most of their wines through case lots through wine clubs and tastings. Beyond that , some will firm up contracts with local restaurants.
Ledson's was first along the wine route out of Santa Rosa.
Along the country road, vineyard and tastings rooms.
Quite a few cyclists along the route as well.  They seemed to do well, in spite of it being a narrow roadway.
From Sonoma, we cut back to Route 101 north by way of route 116. That brings us to Lake Sonoma and Liberty Glen, a Corps of Engineer Campground.  A very unusual situation for corps parks that we know.  The notice on the right indicates no showers, no flush toilets, and no drinking water.  It seems it has been this way for years.  Since we do not make reservations, the sign on the left was unusual indicating reservation only, but you can call to pay.  Nice, but there is no cell phone signal or pay phone here. However, there was a very nice camp host who let us use the office phone-a common request.  The thing is---this campground is fantastic.  And the campground was quite busy with tenters and RVers over the weekend. 
Our site was quite level with a great view.
Many of the open areas featured daisies.
 Enjoyed the bloom.
This is  site 80, a tent site in an unopened section. Had the section been opened, it definitely would have been filled

From Lake Sonoma, we were heading for Six Sigma Winery in Lower Lake.  To get there, we headed across Route 101 to Geyserville to pick up Route 128 south, a scenic road, to Calistoga. In Calistoga, we headed north on Route 29 towards Lower Lake.

This was another Harvest Host stop.  And it was so enjoyable.
Lady Blue is below in our camping spot for the night. Jan is at the table where the owner served us the beginning of our tasting.
This is the link to the Six Sigma websites.
Six Sigma Ranch History 
 Six Sigma techniques
We encourage you to browse through the entire website.  We talked with Kaj(pronounced KI-rhymes with "eye"). He and his wife lived and worked in Denmark  for their professional careers.  They both loved farms, Ki worked a farm as a youth.  They wanted a ranch that they could protect and work with good sustainable principles.
We were fascinated that he was slowly taking time to find the best sheep for meat and for grazing the vineyards. Also , finding the best cattle for the same reason.  If you read the history you can see how the ranch became the 4,300 acres it is now.
Kaj was so environmentally attuned and scientifically interested in ranch methods, that he has brought graduate students from Kellogg in Chicago, Duke University on the east coast, and UC Davis here in California. They came about six students at a time and used the ranch as their thesis subject , suggesting ways to create the best business and sustainable models.
He has some great ideas, including a French company that wants to create a campground(tent platforms and cabins) towards the entrance that would also include a restaurant.  The ranch has 38 miles of roads, such as this one we hiked for a bit.The entrance dirt road alone is two miles long.
Some of the grazing sheep working on maintaining the grass
You might need to enlarge(right click) to see the California Quail
What is this?
One of the wild turkeys, who with the quail seemed to take great delight in creating dust baths right behind Lady Blue.
The all-terrain Pinzgauer used for tours of the ranch. It is a military unit manufactured in Britain.
A recent addition to the ranch. This is a pot bellied pig that wandered onto the property from a neighboring ranch. The owner gave him to Six Sigma.By the way, Six Sigma refers to a set of management techniques that greatly reduce the probability of an error or defect.
We then headed north on Route 29, up the west side of Clear Lake. We had thought to stop at the state park, but discovered that it was closed due to flooding from the recent storms. So, we continued to Route 20 west and Route 101 south to Hopland and Jaxon Keys, another Harvest Host. 
This was quite different from Six Sigma. Right on Route 101 , situated in an old ranch house.  A small number of vines located close by.  They have some award winning wines and an excellent brandy , all of which they produce on site.  Not bad roses either. By the way, we also learned that roses are often planted nearby vines because they are the first to give notice of any problems like lack of water, etc, that might affect the vines.
The view from their porch. This is a link to their website Jaxon Keys Winery Website
A view of the vineyards across Route 101. A fairly quiet section of the 101 below Ukiah.
From Jaxon Keys we head north on Route 101 to Richardson Grove State Park . This is towards the beginning of the Redwoods Highway. These redwoods(a bit different from the sequoias) are the tallest living things on the planet.
Another way of looking at the difference between the trees. The sequoias are the widest and the oldest-up to 3,000 years old. The redwoods are the tallest and rely more on the moisture from the ocean---which they can absorb through their tops in addition to moisture traveling up from the roots.
At the foot of these giant trees, the Redwood Sorrel, looking like clover.
Also, a large number or wild Iris.
Jan is looking at a candelabra growing redwood.  Branches grow off each side .  The black burn marks are from years ago. The redwoods are resistant to fires, floods, and insects--thankfully. They can live for over 2,000 years
The Avenue of the Giants--through the redwoods--can be a bit tight at times.
Taking a picture of the entire tree is difficult.
Jan is standing at the foot of one of the largest, located in the Founders Grove on the Avenue of the Giants.
This is a recent casualty of age and storms.One of these downed trees was noted to have started back around 600A.D. and had fallen in the 1930's.  What is amazing is that at a time ,back in the 1800's to only a few decades ago, lumber companies owned much of the land and were intent cutting all of the old trees. Starting in the 1920's , organizers began to lobby to save some of the old growth.
Amazingly, the trees do not have a tap root.  It is a wonder how they stay standing for so long.
Jan has a new term. This is a goose pen. And it was used by early settlers for-------keeping geese and other fowl penned on the farms.The large cavities, usually caused by fires,  do not harm the trees.

The closest downed tree near Jan has been there quite a while--we saw it three years ago.  However, the the top one--looking splintered-- is a fairly new fall.
Some of those construction vehicles at work (Lucas). We see many of these cleaning up the damage from mudslides that resulted from heavy rains this winter.
From the Redwoods we continue on Route 101 north for a stay in Fortuna and then on to a stay here in Klamath, Califronia.
We were going to stay at Elk Prairie Campground further south, but the weather forecast of heavy rain and high winds sent us to a private campground just a mile walk from here. This is the Klamath River on the right, flowing out to the Pacific Ocean out at the surf.
It was a good choice. Wonderful people at the campground. And, as predicted, the storm caused a bit of damage including a power outage affecting over one million customers from Grant pass in Oregon south to Trinidad, California. Our power was out for two days.
Right on Route 101 by Prairie Creek is a large herd of Elk. We have to stop to let them cross the road.  We note that they are beginning to lose their winter coat.
The mist and fog from the ocean drift inland.
A great little campground. Kamp Klamath is proud not to be a resort campground.  Their property includes half of the River and an island that tenters love to use in the summer. They are rated as the best restaurant on the north coast even though they are not a restaurant.  They do serve a number of people on summer weekends with fresh caught salmon from the river, chicken, and other foods ending with a large wood fire and s'mores.We will be checking the weather to head next over the mountains into interior Oregon for a while.