RV Adventures from San Francisco to Mesa, Arizona, The final Leg of our Journey

If you missed the opportunity to get a free self-guided walking tour app for a city you’d like to visit, be sure to scroll to the bottom of my San Francisco blog and follow the directions.

After San Francisco we didn’t stay in any one spot for more than a night, but we did have some more interesting adventures, and the pain in my hip diminished enough for me to enjoy them.

We continued south on always-adventurous Hwy 1, around the curves, often hanging on the edge of the cliffs, and catching some amazing views.

Tunnel on the side of a cliff

Tunnel on the side of a cliff

At a spot when the the road was at beach level, we came across an observation parking lot where we stopped to watch hundreds of elephant seals fighting for mates and soaking up the rays.

Elephant Seals

Fascinating to watch

IMG_0031After a certain point we left all cities behind, and even the towns became further and further apart. Our plans to stop earlier that day were squashed. The two small RV/Campgrounds that we saw both had “Full” signs on them, so we had to keep going. Jim thought we might stop close to the Hearst Castle and take the tour, but by the time we finally found a spot to park for the night, at Hearst San Simeon National Park we were both tired. The thought of climbing many, many more stairs that the Castle brochure told us about sealed our decision to just keep on trucking the next morning.

We made it a short day. We needed time to do laundry and then relax. At noon we checked into Pismo Coast Village RV Resort, probably the nicest resort that we’d encountered the whole trip. We put our laundry in and crossed a courtyard to the Grill where we enjoyed the best homemade clam chowder we’ve ever had, while enjoying the warm sun on the patio.

Pismo BeachWhen the laundry was done and put away, we walked through Pismo State Beach Park next door, and then into the Monarch Butterfly Grove to view clusters of our own National Butterfly, hanging from the branches of Eucalyptus trees – more Monarchs than we’d ever seen at one time back home.

Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterflies

MonarchsAfter taking the many photos, trying to get the perfect shot, we walked over the sand dunes to the beach and almost got lost trying to find the path that led back to our RV Resort!

Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach Sunset

The sun was setting when we got back, and we’d worked up an appetite, so we found ourselves back at the Grill once more. Again we enjoyed some of that delicious chowder, and shared a seafood platter for dinner.

Seafood  Platter

Seafood Platter

I almost hated to leave the next day, it was so nice there. By the time we’d unhooked and picked up the trailer from the storage lot across the street, and stopped at a Mexican Flea Market a half-hour down the highway, it was past lunch time. The scallops and shrimp leftover from the night before warded off our hunger for another hour until we drove off the highway into Los Alamos to see what we could find. We found a quaint little town with a terrific little diner, The Bell Street Farm Eatery, where we chose the Special of the Day – a very thick BLT made with local lean slab bacon, local tomatoes and lettuce, drizzled with pesto and olive oil, on fresh baked bread. Yumm!

Bell Street Farm Eatery

Bell Street Farm Eatery


Best BLT ever!

We drove on through Santa Barbara and got onto the Pacific Coastal Highway at Ventura to spend the evening and night with hundreds of other RVers camped along the wall beside the beach. It’s dry camping, but costs only $28.00 a night, limit of five full days (24hrs. each).

RVs on Beach

8 miles of RVs along Pacific Coast Hwy Beach

We ate our dinner outside, watching the sunset and listening to the waves, which are very calming until you try to sleep. Then they sound like very high winds of a storm and you expect the motor home to be rocking and rolling. That and the sound of traffic on the highway and the trains going along the track between the highway and us (yes, again!) made sleep rather difficult, but there is always a trade-off.

Amtrak Train

At least most of the trains were quieter Amtrak

At the end of the next day we were more than ready to be settled in one place for the next few months!

When we left Ventura we’d intended to continue along the ocean on Hwy 1, but somehow missed a turn and ended up on 101. At Thousand Oaks we pulled off in search of coffee and could find none, but after consulting a map Jim found a road that would take us back to Hwy 1. I was a little concerned because the map also showed a mountain range, but for the first part we were on a wide city street. Then the city street turned right, and our road kept going straight. Well, straight isn’t exactly correct. The first hundred feet were straight, and then we encountered more turns and steep hills than all of the others we’d been on before! The bends were so sharp that we took up the whole road to make them, and there was no way to see or be seen around them! I think I held my breath with each one, expecting another vehicle to come barreling around and into us. There were some spectacular vistas, and some huge homes on gated properties high up on the mountains that I thought could have been owned by some movie stars. I doubted that they’d have too much trouble with tourists finding them up there!

Mulholland Hwy 20151026_115847 IMG_0152 IMG_0176Danger Sign

This sign was at the end. Jim didn’t tell me, though, that he’d seen the same sign at the beginning!

The GPS told us the road, Mulholland Hwy, was only ten miles long, but it took us an hour to get over it, and it gave the engine and brakes quite a workout.

It did take us back to Pacific Coast Highway though, and we were soon at Malibu Beach, hungry and tired. We parked beside the public beach expecting to have some lunch and that long awaited coffee at the café we saw there. It was closed. That’s when we started to learn that this part of California isn’t very RV friendly. We drove on, looking for any sort of restaurant along the highway that had enough parking space for us. Before long we were in downtown Malibou Beach and Jim was determined to find a parking space near the beach. There was a nearly empty parking lot, but it was gated and the fee to park an RV was $32.00 even though we wanted to stay only a couple of hours. We drove up and down some rather narrow streets for probably an hour looking for any kind of parking. One parking lot attendant saw us stop and offered us space (not even sure if we could have gotten into it) for $40.00.

That was enough of taking the Coastal Highway. We got back onto Hwy 101. We drove through the main street of Marina del Rey and Torrance, and could still not find a place to park anywhere near a restaurant. They all had trees too close to the street for us to park. Finally, at El Segundo we got parked and had lunch. We saved the second half of our subs in case we needed them for dinner later. The fridge was pretty empty.

We’d had enough “adventure” for the day so we started looking for RV or camping sites or even a Walmart somewhere near Long Beach. We could find only two listed in any of our resources (Next Exit, The Good Sam RV Guide, and the GPS). I called the Good Sam one first and was informed that they don’t allow enclosed (cargo) trailers in the park, and they had no suggestions as to where we could put ours if we unhooked it! Not the usual helpful response from a Good Sam rep. The other park was actually a small Mobile Home Park that had room for a few RVs, but none that we could begin to squeeze into. On we went, leaving 101 and taking Hwy. 91 to I-5.When we reached Anaheim we found a Walmart that didn’t allow overnight parking, but we bought some groceries anyway and secured a spot at a Good Sam Park just a few blocks from Disneyland. We didn’t go to Disneyland, but we could watch the fireworks from our site that night and rested.

The next day we just drove. We passed through San Diego without even stopping. At 4:30 we set up in an RV-friendly Walmart, had an early dinner and crashed. By 4:00 pm the next day (October 28) we were “home” at our site in Mesa Regal RV Resort, Mesa Arizona, after taking a short side-trip to Los Algodones Mexico to see if “Monica” (the sweet puppy we met last winter) was still there. She wasn’t.


San Francisco, Again, From a Different Perspective

As I mentioned in my last post, I was suffering with some major pain in my left back and hip the morning after we did the Shasta Caverns Tour. I really don’t know if that walking had anything to do with it. It could be sciatica; it could be a worn out hip joint. I was hoping that the pain would dissipate before we reached San Francisco.

We arrived at our reserved spot next to the wall overlooking the beach, at the San Francisco RV Resort in Pacifica at 1:00 p.m. on October 21st. This spot is a lot pricier than the one we stayed in the last time we visited, and we had only dry camping (no water, sewer or electrical hook-up), but the view was worth it. The temperature was warm enough for us to don our shorts for the first time. Unfortunately, Pacifica is ten miles away from downtown San Francisco. The plan was to ride the motorcycle to the Rapid Transit Station, and then take that downtown. But the pain in my hip was not letting up. There was no way I could lift my leg over the bike seat. It was all I could do to walk a few blocks to the nearest restaurant for lunch. After ice and pain medication it felt a little better and I could take no more sitting inside on such a gorgeous day, so we decided to try walking down the boardwalk along the beach to the pier that we could see in the distance. It wasn’t so bad going, and we took lots of pictures, but it was much further away than it looked.

Distant Pier

The distant pier along the shore at Pacifica

Shoreline Trail

The shoreline trail where we were camped above the ocean

SanFran (5)ShorelineWe were fascinated with these little birds that scurried in and out from the edge of the waves along the beach’

Birds on Beach

Tiny birds running on the beach

On the pier we watched many different coloured sea gulls that waited for fish or food scraps from the fishermen, and a lone pelican that sat still on the railing.

SanFran (8) Birds on the PierWhen we arrived back at the RV two hours later, I was in agony. From the front of the RV, we watched the beautiful sunset over the ocean, and the moon rising behind us. I was determined to do better the next day.

Sun setting

SunsetMoon RisingI still wasn’t up to climbing onto the bike the following morning, but after sitting on an ice pack, taking more pain meds, and rubbing on some lotions, I was able to walk the few blocks to catch a bus to the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) Station that took us downtown. The first thing we did was purchase transit passes. For $26 each we got three-day passes to ride any city bus, street car or cable car as many times as we needed. Jim really wanted to do the tour of Alcatraz, so we caught a street car to the Piers where the tour began. He was disappointed to discover that it was booked up until Saturday and we had to leave on Friday. He’d read that some of the City Tours included Alcatraz in their packages, but it took us several tries and a couple of hours to find one that did, only to learn that they too were sold out.


Alcatraz, so near and yet so far

Instead, we purchased a regular tour package, at a discounted price because of the late time of day. We were assured we could use it again the next day too. We took a one and a half hour tour around the downtown, learning some of the history of the different parts of the city. When the tour was done strolled around the Fisherman’s Warf area, and had clam chowder in a bread bowl for dinner before catching the street car back to the BART station.

Seals at Fisherman's Warf

Seals basking in the sun at Fisherman’s Warf

The temperature had taken a plunge once the sun went down, and I hadn’t taken a sweater along. By the time I got off the bus back at the RV Park, I was cold, tired and ready for more Advil.

The next day we did it all again, this time taking the tour through Golden Gate Park and down to the coast for pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge. The park is huge, and beautiful. I would like to have explored it more.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

When we got back to the downtown we did get off at the Ashbury and Haight corner to experience what’s left of the” hippy era”. Instead of stepping into the “Glass Gallery” that a friendly, bearded fellow wearing a top hat assured us we’d like, we relaxed with a wonderful Chai Tea at a little café.

Asbury St. Decor

A fine example of some of the interesting decor on Ashbury and Haight Streets

SanFran (16)

Glass Gallery?

We had to take at least a short ride on the cable car before we said goodbye to the city, but I wasn’t up to hanging on the side like we did last time.

Cable Car

Cable Car

It was certainly a different visit than our first, when we took the ferry into the downtown, from the other side, and spent our days walking and hopping on and off streetcars and trolleys. This time we had a new city walking tour app that would have been a great help, had I been able to walk more. Here’s your chance to try it out for free.

Mind Traveler has recently partnered with GPSmyCity to bring you access to one of these detailed apps that will answer all your questions about what to do and where to find it, in whichever city you choose. To get this free app all you need to do is be one of the first 20 Mind Traveler readers to like and comment on this post, telling me what motivates you to travel, and which city you plan to visit next. The codes for the free apps will be sent at the end of two weeks from the date of this post, or shortly after I’ve received 20 responses, whichever comes first. Note: These apps are currently available for only Apple devices. For a list of cities that are covered, visit www.gpsmycity.com

Be sure to follow this blog to get notifications of future posts and opportunities.