Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On to Oregon

Mount Shasta - N California
We left Nicolaus, CA about 9:15 AM Saturday and headed north on 99.  We decide to go across 20 to I-5 rather than spending time going through all the towns on 99.  We continued to see lots of rice fields as it was very flat for hours.  We were able to see Mount Shasta, very large and snow capped at 14k feet, for over a hundred miles as we headed straight toward it.  To my surprise, we didn't start getting into any climbs until we were north of Redding and very close to Shasta.  Once we did though it was up and down until around Umpqua, Oregon.  The other surprising thing to me was that though there were climbs, we rarely got over 3k elevation. We would go from around 600 some feet to maybe 2000-2500 feet and then back down.  There was only one pass that hit 4k.  I thought there would be longer climbs and higher elevations.  All that being said, there was plenty of up and down for less than ideal fuel economy.  It was good to smell the pine forests as we got to the woodlands in the hills.
Landscape - Southwest Oregon

We stayed the night at Wal-Mart (parking lot, not in the store) in Grants Pass, OR.  We thought we would rest up before tackling what were supposed to be the tough climbs.  As mentioned above, the climbs didn't amount to much compared to driving from Phoenix to Flagstaff or Phoenix to Payson.

As we got to the flat lands in Oregon we were excited to find ourselves driving through the Grass Seed Capital of the world.  I'm glad they had the sign so we didn't wonder why so much land was just allowed to be over grown with grass.  You can tell it is an "organized" grass rather than just purely wild.  My itchy eyes and sneezing don't let me forget we are in the grass wonderland. 

Our RV Park is just northeast of Salem on the edge of Silverton.  This area has blueberries and other fruit (in addition to the grass) for crops.  Silverton is a neat little old town that sits on the 45th Parallel.  We'll stop and take a walk around some time this week now that our quick drive through looked interesting.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sacramento area

CA State Capital
Our home at Lake Minden RV Park
Nicolaus, CA
We are enjoying our stay north of Sacramento.  Our site at the RV park is on the outside edge where we have an open hay field and can see many miles to the east all the way to the snow covered Sierra Mountains.  It is so flat around here that they have miles and miles of rice fields full of water.  The elevation is only 35.  We see lots of Red Tail Hawks circling the field especially when they were bailing and picking up hay.  The RV park surrounds a lake (I believe it is man made) which is a nice 1.5 mile walk around.  We see fish, ducks, and Blue Herons as we walk to the sound of bull frogs (haven't actually seen one yet).    
Lake Minden - Lake Minden RV Park

Last weekend's tourist trips started with a visit to the State Capitol building and Old Sacramento on Friday afternoon.  The Capitol was very nice.  They did a nice little touch by setting up some rooms as they were actually used in 1906.

Old Sacramento was very cool from an old building standpoint.  They've done a very nice job of restoring buildings.  There are some museums but most buildings just contain shops.  We ignored how they were using the building (shops) and just focused on enjoying the old buildings and imagining the life of the historical location. 
Old Sacramento

Saturday was spent going over to the foothills of the Sierras to Nevada City, a gold rush town.  Here again was a beautiful little town with restored old buildings.  It was very cool again to walk around there.  After eating lunch we went to Empire Mine State Park.  This was a site of a huge gold mine and several smaller ones - none still operating.  They have a museum and you can walk around checking out old equipment and buildings.  We went on a 3 mile walk in the woods that went by several old mine sites from the late 1800s.
Nevada City, CA

It's pretty hot here, mid-90s, which isn't what I was expecting.  For some reason I thought it would be cooler here.  It is supposed to cool off some the next couple of days.  We head into Oregon this weekend with our next stop being near Salem on Sunday.  We'll be able to take in another State Capitol.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Grand Tour has begun

After what seemed to be a long, long wait we have finally begun our tour of the continent.  Ann officially retired on Friday June 3 and we hit the road immediately.  On Friday we headed west on I-10 from Phoenix and quickly got a reminder of why I like to avoid the interstate.  A couple hours on the road and a semi forces me to hit the shoulder.  A couple hours later and a similar scenario.  We made it to San Bernardino and headed north getting off of that ugly interstate. At this point it was new territory for us as neither of us had traveled north of I-10 in California.  We stayed over night at Oak Hills.  Saturday we drove north on 395, west on 58 past Edwards AFB and then north on 99.  Heading out of San Bernardino and again before Bakersfield there were some mountain climbs.  Once on 99 it was as flat as can be.  We stayed the night in Chowchilla in a nice quiet shopping center parking lot. We made it to our reserved campground just north of Sacramento at noon on Sunday.  We are here for a couple of weeks as we make our way to Seattle for the wedding.  We will spend the weekend checking out local history and attractions.