Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monterey to Yosemite

We got up at sunrise this morning and bundled up for the chilly, windy walk across the dunes. It's been a beautiful stay in Monterey and it was sad knowing our time here was drawing to an end. We got to the beach before the sunlight really even hit the icy sand and we combed the beach looking for more treasures washed up by the storm last night. As the rays of light began to warm us, the kids and Rick got more daring and all ended up in the water at least up to their knees - the three year old was in up to his shoulders and had to hold on tight to Daddy's hand to keep from getting swept out to sea by the strong current.

After a couple of hours enjoying the sand and surf, we came back to camp and took long, warm showers before loading up the RV and heading out of camp for our final time. I have to say that the Marina Dunes was a great park and we would highly recommend them! Their website could use some significant updating, but "don't judge a book by its cover" because this is a wonderful place with friendly staff and great sites. We were on the road towards Yosemite by around 11 and will tell you more about this end of the trip in tomorrow's post, but now I'm headed for a nap to sleep off the rest of the ride.

A few fun memories from our time in Monterey that we have yet to mention:

Our 6-year-old, who knows nothing but the dry climate of northern Nevada, found humidity to be exciting. She said the toilet paper (definitely a cheaper quality than is found in our home bathroom) felt like "fairyland toilet paper" and we both loved the natural curls that sprung to our hair in the damper weather.

Kudos to the staff at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, especially Jim who went out of his way to see that all my needs as a disabled visitor were met! Our two days exploring the aquarium have certainly been a highlight for all of us.

On Monday night we strolled Fisherman's Warf and sampled clam chowder from just about every restaurant there. While we took advantage of being able to watch our budget and prepare meals in the RV for most of the trip, we had budgeted for one splurge out to eat and we selected our dinner location with great care. After the entire family had narrowed down our top three favorite chowders, we then selected our final dinner location based on best view from those three locations and had a delightful dinner from a second-floor table overlooking the bay.

Thw water's COLD, but the memories are well worth the chill. Who doesn't love a day at the beach!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monterey Day Three

Everyone got up early and prepared for the day by eating lots of bacon and breakfast rolls. We all then ran over and took showers at the RV parks showers.

We drove back to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, as we had drafted down a schedule of what to see for the day. When we got inside, we went directly to the Sea Otter exhibit so that we could watch the sea otters being fed. It was great to see them swim and dive as well as play with the items that their trainers supplied.

Then off to the Outer Bay Tank so that we could watch the larger speed swimmers feed. Over 85 pounds of fish and squid was dropped into the tanks as we saw blue- and yellow-finned tuna feed on the fish, as well as barracuda and dorado. Even the smaller sardines joined in on the feeding frenzy.

Then we ran to see the penguins and the hands-on exhibits for the kids. Finally we made our way through not one, but four different gift shops so that we could get everything that each person wanted to buy as a keepsake from our stay in Monterey.

We then made our way back to the RV to get lunch and map out the rest of the day. After having our fill of clam chowder, chicken, seafood salads, mac and cheese and hot dogs we made our way over to Pacific Grove, the next town to the south of Monterey and drove over to the monarch butterfly sanctuary, but found out that the butterflies had not been back to town yet.

We then headed to our of our favorite spots, Lover's Point, and enjoyed watching the local wildlife that tried to jump in your lap and steal anything you were snacking on. All in all we heard no less than a dozen screams from people in the park as the small and very fat squirrels tried their best to steal or beg food from the visitors to the park.

After that we drove over to the Dennis the Menace park, but were saddened to see that the city is closing it's parks on Tuesdays. (We guessed as a cost cutting measure.) Then back to the RV park for dinner, dessert and a movie.

Now everyone (including Jenni - this is Rick guest blogging tonight) is in bed and we are looking forward to the morning when we plan to do a little beach combing before we depart for the 4 hour drive to Yosemite. Actually we are staying in Oakhurst, just south of Yosemite, as it has full hookups. We chose to try only places with full hookups for our first family try at RVing. Maybe next time we will go for a dry camp experience. If this experience continues to be as wonderful as it's been so far, we hope "next time" comes soon. :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monterey Day Two

Our first full day in Marina / Monterey was a joy. The staff at Marina Dunes RV Park were very helpful in sharing information about good RV parking locations in Monterey and we were pulling into a parking spot on Cannery Row only about 10 minutes after pulling out of our campsite. A few blocks walk (or roll in my case) and we were at the members' entrance of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. (For our family of five, the $150 full year membership to the aquarium in only slightly more than a single day's regular admissions and the membership includes a year's subscription to their beautiful newsletter and is tax deductible!)

The kids especially enjoyed the touch pools and hands-on exhibits. Our 3-year-old was fascinated by the glass tunnel that let him stand on the under side of crashing waves. Sea horses held the fancy of our 6-year-old. The great white shark was a favorite for our 9-year-old. We all had a soft spot for the penguins too.

We were able to get through all the exhibits in a single day, but there are a few exhibits we hope to revisit again tomorrow, like the 11AM feeding at the Outer Bay tanks. We then hope to drive to the next town south, Pacific Grove, in search of the masses of migrating Monarch butterflies.

Please enjoy more of our beautiful memories. We will let these speak for themselves:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

First Day on the Road

Erik at Classic Adventures RV got us off to a great start Saturday morning as he gave us a tour of our RV and taught us all the tips and tricks for getting the most our of our rental. We brought it home, let the kids explore, loaded it up and headed for bed, then got up early this morning for our first day on the road. The kids were excited for Sam's Club jumbo muffins on the road and loved eating at the RV table as we traveled!

The kids started out the morning watching Wall-E on DVD while Rick drove, then the younger two and I headed to the back bed for a rest. I fell asleep with our little guy while our 6-year-old went back to the table and joined her big brother playing with their Leapsters.

We made our first stop at Petrick farms for produce in Dixon (can't beat farm-fresh prices!) and topped off the Diesel tank. In Fairfield, CA we took a tour of the Jelly Belly Factory and of course picked up some "Belly Flops". The kids were a little disappointed that there was no candy production to witness live on weekend tours, but their sorrow quickly ended when they found out they got free samples at each video tour station. Our 3-year-old road on my lap in the wheel chair and we all had a great view of the factory and jelly beans in various stages of the drying process in their 3 week journey to earning the Jelly Belly label.
Factory Tour Photo with Mascot Credit:

After a quick lunch stop we were back on the road. I slept for a good chunk of the afternoon and am so thankful for the ability to rest during travel, something I haven't enjoyed since I was a kid riding in the back of my parents' station wagon! It was a little bumpy at times, but if I kept the curtain drawn around the bed, I had much less motion sickness than my norm!

We pulled into Marina about 4PM, quickly and easily set up camp, then took a pleasant walk to the beach. The waves were powerful and the misty fog rolled in as the kids tried to outrun the tide as they searched for kelp, shells and sea glass. Beautiful!

Around 6 we were back to the RV and roasted hot dogs for dinner. After another walk around the RV park, little ones were getting tired, so we came back to the RV, set up beds and got jammies on. Our 3-year-old was out cold before we even finished our bedtime story and the rest were asleep by about 8.

We've been taking pictures but can't get them to upload to the laptop, so we'll be updating these posts once we are back in Reno.

It was a great first day. We are looking forward to visiting the aquarium in Monterey tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Mom and Dad set to house-sit and bird-sit - Check!

Meal plans and grocery list written out - Check!

To-dos of phone calls to make before we leave and last minute chores to be taken care of, all down in writing - Check!

In the process of doing laundry and starting to sort for packing - Check!

Printing off paperwork for RV rental insurance - Check!

Medical supplies and IV schedule all in place to hopefully avoid any unplanned trips to away-from-home medical care - Check!

Kids ahead in school work and homeschool supplies ready for the road - Check!

Rick asked yesterday if I'm excited about the trip. (Usually I'm really chattery about things I'm looking forward to, and I guess I've been pretty quiet about next week's plans.) It really hit me that I am very excited, just have been putting my thoughts down here rather than actually talking about the trip so much.

With the medical elements added to the planning, I've been a little nervous too, but I am ever-so-thankful for our family to have this chance and will be excited to have all the packing and prep finished up and actually get out on the road together. :) It could be pretty chilly on the coast and in the 90s in the central valley, so we'll need everything from shorts and swimsuits to sweatshirts and footed jammies. We plan to eat out at least once or twice on the trip (who could go to Monterey and not enjoy fresh sea food?) but our home freezer's been stocked with easily reheated foods as I've made extra batches of homecooked meals the last few weeks, and a trip to Sam's club will take care of the rest, so mealtimes should be easy, affordable and stress-free.

Yes, I am excited!!! We'll be picking up the RV in about 96 hours now!

Friday, September 18, 2009

To Speak of Many Things

One of my favorite poems as a kid was The Walrus and The Carpenter. I especially loved the lines,
"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings..."

Well, here we are, a little more than a week out from our first RV Adventure, and the time has come to speak of many things. No, not shoes (but that does remind me to add them to my packing list!) or ships, but of the specifics of RV travel.

Did you know you need special toilet paper for an RV? I just learned this little tidbit this week. My friend describes it as the kind that "basically starts dissolving in your hand as you are using it." Ewwww! LOL

While we were quite tempted by the huge luxury models, we intentionally chose a small 24-foot diesel RV for our maiden voyage, in hopes of better gas mileage and maneuverability. I just came across this video on Driving Your RV Like a Pro so hopefully that will give us a little more confidence as well. It's my hubby who is going to primarily be behind the wheel, but I want to be able to drive it if I have to.

I've been able to rearrange my IV appointments so I get them just before and after the trip but won't have to do any on the road. Hubby will get extra training in care of my PICC line this week, then I think we have our medical bases all covered.

I guess the big things yet to do are get our shopping and packing lists together and actually get ready. Any advice from seasoned RVers? We are getting excited to be on our way!