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

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


Shasta Caverns, Shasta Lake, California

We are already much further south, at Ventura, California as I write this post, but I promised I’d give you the scoop on Shasta Caverns, so I will do that first and hope to catch up again soon.

I have to say that these caverns are very interesting, and the area around them beautiful, although not as colourful as others we have toured. However, the tour comes with a warning – they aren’t for those with heart conditions or walking difficulties, especially stair climbing. And if you are in a large motor home, pulling a trailer, your driving skills and brakes need to be optimized. Here’s why:

The road into the Shasta Cavern Tours office is 1½ miles of narrow, uphill roads with hair-pin turns that had me holding my breath at times. It was a relief to finally reach the parking lot and see that there was actually room there for us to turn around and park!

We bought our tickets. When the announcement that the tour would start was made, we were given fifteen minutes to get to the boat that would ferry us across the lake. That was a another warning. We had to walk downhill almost as far as we’d driven up it seemed. One Hundred and Fifty stairs (or ramps if you preferred) switched back and forth, and then several more switch-backs on sand and gravel took us to the shore, where a large open pontoon boat with metal seats along the outsides and down the centre and powered by two 150 H.P. Yamaha motors, picked us up. The trip across the lake was beautiful. On the other side a ramp was let down so we could disembark, and then climb up a small hill to an awaiting mini-bus. The captain of the boat was also the driver of the bus, and the tour guide. If you think the sound of the drive up in the motor home sounded nerve-racking, you wouldn’t want to be on that bus; more hair-pin and S-turns sometimes at a 17% slope and hanging on the edge of the cliff. Good thing I was in the outside seat! We soon arrived at the little log cabin where the actual tour into the caverns began. Again there was a lot of climbing and although the stairs didn’t bother me, the high elevations did cause some heart palpitations that forced me to stop now and again for a rest. After any long climb there were always benches to sit upon. Our guide gave us lots of the history of the caverns and helped keep our minds off the physical challenge with some light-hearted chatter. The walking paths and stairs were all solid and railed. We saw some amazing examples of nature inside the several rooms that had been discovered. I’ll let you decide if it would be worth it to you.

The drive up

The drive up

The narrow road

The Narrow Road

Driving UpThe Walk Down to the Lake

The stairs to and from the lake

The stairs to and from the lake

Walking down

Crossing the Lake

Crossing the Lake

IMG_1430Crossing Lake

View from Above

View From Above

Inside the Caverns

Inside Caverns

inside caverns inside caverns inside caverns IMG_1461 IMG_1458Inside CavernsWhen the tour was over, we had to climb back down many more stairs to the bus, make the return trip to the lake, cross the lake, and climb back up the hill. Someone asked how many stairs there were in total and we were told 150 up and down the hill to and from the boat, and 691 through and out of the caverns! Is it any wonder that we were exhausted when we crawled into bed that night, and that I suffered with major hip pain for the next five days? It did make me feel better to hear some of the much younger people on the tour huffing and puffing just as much as we. It was another Adventure, for sure!

Next time I’ll tell you about San Francisco and a little contest, perhaps.

Three States in Three Days with Lots to See and Do

It’s hard to believe that it’s been only five days since we left Canada and we’ve already been through Washington and Oregon and are now deep into California.

Our first stop was Seattle, Washington where we arrived at rush hour so spent some time crawling along Hwy. 5 before turning off in search of somewhere to park for the night. Jim wanted to stay in the downtown so we could tour on foot the next day. However, there was only one RV Park that we could find listed near downtown and we were told that it wasn’t really a “camping” type of park, but only for long term, i.e. minimum of 30 days. At 6:30, hungry and tired, we asked if we could park overnight in the gated Home Depot Store/Rental Centre. We could, but had to be out before things got busy in the morning. With no restaurants within sight, we ate my left over Quesadilla from lunch. Close by there was…you guessed it… a train track crossing, and a shipyard! Things got quieter after 11:00 pm, but at 5:00 am street cleaners were at work just outside our door. We were up and out of there by 6:30 in search of breakfast (we hadn’t yet restocked our cupboards and fridge since crossing the border), and a place to park for the day. After a couple of hours I suggested we drive further south to a KOA Campground that was close to public transit. We got settled in there just in time to catch the 10:15 bus that would take us to the rapid transit station. Well, it would have if we hadn’t missed the stop. We waited at the end of the line for another bus to take us back.

Finally, at noon we were sitting down to lunch in a cafeteria, and from there took the monorail to The Space Needle, a remnant the Seattle Worlds Fair, where our tour began. The view from the Needle was worth the hour wait.

Space Needle

Space Needle

IMG_1293 IMG_1303 IMG_1305We caught the monorail back, and then the rapid transit to Pioneer Square, where we took the hour long tour of the Underground City. I found the history of the first city of Seattle interesting, but the actual remains not as impressive as I had expected. The tour guide was excellent though.

Underground City

The sidewalk grates provided the only light to the Underground City

Underground City

One store in the Underground City, perhaps updated?

We’d planned to meet other Mesa friends, Nita and Fred, for dinner, but that didn’t work out for them in the end.

After sandwiches at the nearby Subway, we boarded the train and bus back to the campsite. It was a wonderful day, but by the time we got back, at 7:15 pm it felt like midnight! I opened the fridge to get a drink of water and discovered that, from all the banging and bumping we’d done while crossing cobblestone intersections and jamming on brakes when it looked like someone was going to pull out in front of us that morning, a jar of Kalamati Olives had managed to flip completely upside down and all the juice had drained into the vegetable bins and the door shelves. Sigh. Not quite what I wanted to do that evening.

The next morning we enjoyed a hot breakfast available at the campground, before we got on the road again. We drove through intermittent cloud and rain, but the temperatures started to rise. When we were ready to stop for the night, there seemed to be few campsites around, but I thought I’d found a good one on public land near the reservoir at Cottage Grove, Oregon It took a bit to find it, only to discover that it was closed for the season. I’d missed that little detail at the bottom of the description. However we found a day Park with a paved parking lot right next to the reservoir. We parked there for the night. Fortunately we had stopped at a grocery store to buy a few groceries so we had food for dinner and breakfast.

Cottage Grove Reservoir

Room with a View of Reservoir

IMG_1343The next day, a visit to the Information Centre in California resulted in a decision to camp somewhere near the Shasta Caverns so we could do the 10:00 am tour the next day. It was only 3:00 pm when we pulled into Shasta RV Resort and Campground, but it was nice to have a shorter day. We enjoyed a walk through the forest and along the Shasta Reservoir while the sun was warm, and that evening we had great WiFi connections that enabled us to catch up on email, and I could add the pictures to my last blog post. If you want to see them, check it out.

Shasta RV Resort and Campground, California

Shasta RV Resort and Campground, California

IMG_1372Today, we did the Shasta Cavern Tour. It was quite the adventure, one that I will share in detail in my next post. I will say that we enjoyed it, but we were reminded that we aren’t as fit as we should be.

Tonight we’re at the Vineyard Campground, seventy miles away from San Francisco, where we will go tomorrow for a few days.

Word A Week Photo Challenge – Clouds

I’ve always had a fascination with clouds, so just had to share these in the Word A Week Photo Challenge.

Adirondacks, NY, USA

Adirondacks, NY, USA


California, USA


California, USA


Florida, USA


Storm Building, Florida, USA


Undecided sky, Ontario, Canada






Fog, Redwoods and a Long Day

Friday, Day 30

After we spent time visiting with our next door neighbours at the campsite this morning it was nearly eleven o’clock before we got away. The ocean was barely visible through the fog and for many hours fog drifted just above the road and through the trees.  It was another slow drive, up, down and around mountain peaks, but this time much more of it was through the Redwood Forests. The highway was even narrower and steep in many places, until we reached the junction at Hwy 101.  Before continuing on along 101, we stopped at Leggett to see the drive-thru Chandelier Tree, a 315 foot redwood with a diameter of 21 feet and believed to be 2400 years old.  The motor home wouldn’t fit through the opening, but I got a picture of Jim pretending to try.

That was our only stop except for taking the occasional picture and eating lunch along the side of the road.  We were determined to get to a full-service campsite tonight. We were running out of clean clothes and we weren’t sure how much propane we had left, since the gauge quit working a long time ago. We also needed a bank and a grocery store! We finally made it to Eureka just before dark. A fine mist was beginning to coat the windshield. We did our banking and a bit of grocery shopping, but by that time I was too tired and hungry to decide what we needed.  We got only the bare necessities. We were lucky to find a space at the nearby KOA.  This was a very long day.

Nope, it won't quite fit!

Searching for Family and Cool Air

Thursday, Day 29

Tonight we’re camped at Ocean Cove, California. It’s a site with neither hook-ups nor levelled lots. We can’t use internet, or empty our holding tanks or fill the propane tank.  But we’re right beside the Pacific Ocean, watching the sun go down, and the cool, crisp air is a welcome relief from the 105 degree temps this afternoon.  What could be better?

We didn’t travel very far today, but it was a slow drive.  Our first stop was in Sonoma where we began a search for a family who was very close to Jim’s Uncle Peter and with whom he and Jim had spent time during Jim’s visit. We had names and an address, but hadn’t been able to track them down after Jim and his family last visited them in 1964. It wasn’t too difficult to find the house, and it too was listed for sale. No offers of a tour were forthcoming this time though. There appeared to be no one home. A chat with neighbours on either side provided us with only one small piece to the puzzle. One neighbour had been there since 1968 and he didn’t recognize the name, so we could conclude that the family had left the neighbourhood sometime between 1964 and 1968.

We checked for records at City Hall and found nothing. We continued on to Santa Rosa, the County Seat, and at the Office of the Registrar were able to find a few more details about Peter’s death – he’d been cremated, which could account for the lack of burial records. There was nothing about the other family.  While we were parking the motor home in the parking lot, we’d been chatted up by a friendly fellow who talked about his motor home experiences and shared much of his life story with us. Once, when he was telling us about how he’d prayed for a good outcome to some financial situation, he asked if we were believers. We braced ourselves for a sermon, but our positive response seemed to suffice. He eventually let us go on our way and he went on his.

Disappointed with our meagre findings, we returned to the motor home to  find a book on my seat, obviously tossed through the open window,  National Sunday Law – forces unite amid stupendous crisis. Might make some interesting reading!

We left the cities, and the exhausting heat behind. Even the fans in the cab of the rv were of no use in that temperature.  The air was so warm it felt more like hair dryers blowing on us.

We soon began our journey through some rather narrow, always twisty roads that eventually led us to US Hwy 1 and the ocean.  We’d planned to stop at the next available KOA, in Manchester, so we could catch up on laundry, fill up with water and propane and empty the holding tanks, because we’d hoped to find

Sunset behind Jim, over Ocean Cove

a nice camping spot in a State Park the next night, where we knew there would be none of these amenities available. But the winding,steep roads reduced travel speeds to between 35 and 45 mph. The scenery was glorious, yet some of the turns caused us to hold our breath as the road appeared to drop away over a cliff. As I photographed one turn, I was stunned to see three cows on the narrow inside shoulder!

By 6:30 the all-day upper-body workout had Jim badly in need of a rest. That’s when we pulled into this very relaxing spot for the night. The laundry will have to wait for tomorrow.

Yosemite – a Must See to add to your Bucket List

Monday – Day 27

Ahh, it’s getting harder and harder to remember what day it is! If I didn’t write this blog every few days, I wouldn’t have a clue!

We had a late start getting away from Reno on Saturday, despite setting the alarm clock so we’d get up early. We had a couple of stops to make before leaving town and they took longer than anticipated. But it was a nice drive on another sunny day.

We crossed the border into California sometime late afternoon.  We stopped to eat lunch along the road a short time later.  I’d considered having an apple for dessert, but thought I’d have it later.  I should have eaten it when I had a chance.  Just a few miles down the road we had to stop at an “Inspection Station”.

“Do you have any fresh fruit or vegetables?”

“A couple of tomatoes, some lettuce and some apples,” I replied. I forgot about the raspberries I’d purchased a couple of days ago.

“I’ll have to come aboard and check your fridge,” the attendant said.

Of all the things in it, she confiscated only the apples.  They were the only thing left that we’d brought from Canada.

It was nearly four o’clock when we stopped at the Visitors Centre at Mono Lake, a sparkling blue lake that was very photogenic, and only twelve miles from Yosemite.  While there we learned that there were no camping sites within Yosemite Park that could accommodate us. We decided to camp at the nearby Mono Vista RV Park for the night and go into Yosemite in the morning. It’s a small park, with a few permanent mobile homes and small spaces, but there were several RVs there for the night, either on their way to Yosemite or just out. A very strong wind rustled the leaves of the poplar tree above us, sounding like rain. There was no rain though. How many days has it been since we’ve seen any rain? I can’t think of one day since we left Peterborough.

We were on the road by 9:15 on Sunday morning and a half hour later we were climbing uphill towards Yosemite. If we thought that the drive through Yellowstone was breathtaking, this was more intoxicating and even a little bit scary at times. The road climbed and twisted along the side of the mountains and slightly back down into valleys before steeply climbing up again. By the time we reached the entrance to the park, at Tioga Pass, we were at nearly 10,000 feet and we’d already taken fifty or more pictures. It was a slow climb, but the motor home made it without incident. It was cold up there! People were wearing heavy coats – quite a change from Reno.

We stopped to take a photo of Half Dome, and then we climbed 800 feet up a rocky hill, just to challenge ourselves, I think. It was a marvellous view from the top.

We’d planned to drive to Yosemite Village where we could park the motor home and take the bike up to Glacier Point, but we made so many other stops along the way, to snap more pictures, that it was already four o’clock when we got there. Since we had to be out of the park before we could stop for the night, we reluctantly continued through and out the north exit.

Although we couldn’t camp in Yosemite Park, we did find a spot just outside, within the Stanislau Forest. Our only neighbours were a young couple in a tent several metres away from us.  We hoped to see some animals, but no such luck. I was glad that we were inside, just the same. We had no power or internet for computers so we went to bed at 9:00 to read, but the day’s adventure had tired us out and the books were soon dropped and the light out. What a stupendous day!

Today was a day of travel. Another mechanical problem caused a delay in reaching San Francisco, but fortunately it wasn’t an expensive one. It was 6:30 when we finally got ourselves into the RV Park closest to downtown that we could find. It’s small, and maybe not in the best neighbourhood, just across the river from San Quentin. I convinced Jim to lock all the outside storage compartments. Tomorrow, we hope, we’ll get to explore San Francisco.