Headed Home

Well, we have come to the end of another trip. After leaving Eureka, we drove down US 101 and made a quick jog along the Russian River to Guerneville, where we had dinner with our friend Ray McCabe. Ray and his former partner, split their time between Palm Springs and Guerneville.

Dinner, to celebrate Ray’s birthday, was at a cute little European restaurant in Santa Rosa, La Gare. We were joined by two of his friends, Jason and Erik. Erik is German, so I had a little opportunity to use my, somewhat dusty, German.

An interesting story about Ray and me, is that we both worked at the Bank of California in the early 1980s. We weren’t close, but did know each other way back then.

On Thursday. Bill and I took the opportunity to go on a bike ride using a rail to trail conversion from Forestville to Santa Rosa using the West County and Joe Rodota Trails. Both trails use the rail bed of the former Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railway which connected Petaluma and Santa Rosa with Sebastopol and Forestville. On the return, we traveled along the Santa Rosa Creek Trail. My favorite type of rides use rail conversions and waterway bike trails.

After the ride, we went into Guerneville for a quick wine tasting and then to dinner at Ray’s with Jason and Erik.

Yesterday, we drove down 101 and I-580 to Gilroy. Bill has a friend from his Milwaukee theatre days, who married a wine maker from Gilroy. Valerie and her husband, David, welcomed us into their home and shared wines from their vineyard, Solis Winery, pronounced solees.

David, with his sous chef, Valerie, prepared a wonderful meal of tri-tip roast, roasted vegetables from their garden and a salad of avocado and tomatoes, also from the garden. The meal, the wine and the company made for a magical evening. It was really nice reconnecting with both of them.

They sent us on our way with a nice bottle Of Solis Winery 2013 Cara Mia Reserve.

This morning we head toward home. We may break the ride up by staying over in Acton and that would leave a short 2 1/2 hour drive tomorrow. Once home, we have a week, before we fly east to Washington, DC and our long planned bike ride from Pittsburgh to DC along the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Towpath trails.

Eureka, California

On Labor Day, Bill and I left Keith and Joanette in Florence and made our way toward Eureka. We had expected heavy traffic, but is was surprisingly light. The drive was spectacular. Sometimes were were hovering over the coast, up on high cliffs and then back down at sea level.

Rogue River

As we entered the small town of Orick, California, we had a nice surprise.

After the quick stop in Orick, we made our way to the Redwood Coast RV Park in Eureka. I had not been in Eureka, since 1985. My good friend David Valentine was stationed near Eureka and decided to stay in the area after discharge. I made several trips to visit him, and for a while, we co-owned a small sailboat, and we kept it a nearby marina.

We planned a two night stay, to give us time to tike a bike ride and check out Eureka’s historic old town.

On Tuesday morning, we went on the bike ride on the Eureka Waterfront Trail. The trail, is not particularly long, only about 6 miles each way, but has several differing landscapes: shoreline, marshes, Old Town Eureka, industrial and a couple of miles in a wildlife refuge.

Eureka was settled along Humboldt Bay in the 1850s And quickly became a logging and lumber center. The old town is 350 acres with 154 buildings, most of them Victorian style. It is listed on the list of US historical places.

Anyone following the blog, knows that I love photo ops with big chairs. Well, on the ride there is a series of benches, some that look to me like big chairs, or loveseats. So here are a few pictures.


On the ride back, we passed by the Carson Mansion, built by William Carson, a logging in lumber Baron from the late 19th century. Construction on the house started in 1884 and Carson was quoted as saying,” If I build it poorly, they will say I am a damn miser, if I build expensively, they will say I am a show off, so I guess I will just build it for myself.”

The mansion could be listed on the national register of historic places, but the private club that has owned it since 1950, has not applied to do so. Probably so they could build the hideously ugly addition that I have cropped out of the photo.

We returned to the RV park and spent some time in the hot tub before going to dinner. We decided to go into Arcata, which is a university town just north of us and check out the dining options. As would be expected there are lots of cheap eats, but among them was a gem, Foile Douce. This cute little bistro has a very interesting menu and it was hard for us to decide. But, we ended up choosing a very delicious savory artichoke heart cheesecake as a starter and then shared a brie and salami pizza. Both were delicious, and filling, so we said no to dessert. I am so glad we passed on the Subway down the street.

We head south today. We are on our way to Guerneville, California, along the Russian River in Sonoma County. Wine country! We are visiting a friend that we know from Palm Springs who now lives in Guerneville and hope to get in a couple of wineries while we are there.

Covered Bridges, Kayaking and Jesse Honeyman State Park

On Thursday, Bill and I left Keith and Joanette at camp and drove 1 3/4 hours to Cottage Grove, the start point of the Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway. This bikeway passes 6 covered bridges, the Row River (pronounced like cow) and the beautiful Dorena Reservoir.

The bridges were not particularly spectacular, but traveling by bike was fun way to see them. After passing the first four bridges, we had a long distance along the river and past the reservoir before we reach the next (and our last) bridge.

We stopped at our turnaround, had Club sandwiches that we had purchased in town and then headed to our last bridge before heading back to Cottage Grove. It was a easy ride along the former rail trail.

The above picture is the Oregon, Pacific and Eastern Railway, which operated this line until 1987. This picture was during the time, 1972-87, when the railway operated a tourist passenger service, after the freight operations had been suspended. I actually remember this open area on the trail.

On our way back to Florence, we passed a little winery with a tasting room. We had noticed it on our way up and thought it would be a nice stop for the return trip.

And finally, on our drive back, we stopped at the “Elk Viewing Area.” Now, I don’t know why the Elk hang around to be viewed, since the are no visible fences, but they were there on both the outbound and return drives. They are hard to see in the photo, but there are several resting near the bottom of the hill.

We made it back in time for lasagne and garlic bread. Keith made his special recipe. Great! We enjoyed an evening around the campfire, drinking wine, and Keith’s lasagne.

On Friday morning, the four of us planned a kayaking trip on the Siltcoos River, a three mile river connecting Siltcoos Lake and the Pacific Ocean. Now, 3 miles each way may not sound like alot, but the trip took 4 hours. The river has lots of turns, lots of fallen trees and submerged stumps, so we took it nice and slow.

On the way back be saw family of Otters near the river dam.

And for our final activity in our stay in Florence, the four of us went for a little bike ride in the Jesse Honeyman State Park. It wasn’t a long ride, we rode the trail and park roads from the dunes at Cleawox Lake to the eastside of Woahink Lake. We used the pedestrian/cycle bridge across US 101, which added both mileage and elevation to the ride, but avoided crossing the highway.

Tomorrow, we head our separate ways. Bill and I head south toward home and Keith and Joanette begin making their way slowly back to Montana.

We have 2 nights, each in Eureka and Guerneville, and a single night in Gilroy. Our plan is to be back home next Sunday.

Florence, Coos Bay and a Bike Ride

On Friday Morning, we all went to the beach, so I could fly my new kite. It had been 50 years or more since I had a kite. Joanette thought it would be a fun birthday present, given there were miles of beach with constant wind to make kite flying easy.

After lunch, We drove the 11 miles North to Heceta Head Lighthouse. This lighthouse is one of the must see attractions near Florence.

Bill in front of the lighthouse

Sunday, I planned a ride from our camp to the North Fork of the Siuslaw River valley and later met Bill in Florence for lunch. Keith and Joanette had driven to Eugene to walk in a MDA fundraiser.

The river valley had extreme high cliffs, but was fairly wide and was filled with small farms. There was almost no traffic on a Sunday morning. I enjoyed the peace and quiet and the beautiful vistas.

Monday, the four of us drove down the coast to Coos Bay. Coos Bay is a logging town that has been an important commercial center since the mid 19th century. Originally called Marshfield, after a city in Massachusetts, it was founded in 1853. At that time transportation over the Oregon Coastal range was very difficult, so most goods came and left by ship. The natural protection provided by the bay and the mining and logging interests made the bay and the adjacent Marshfield very active places. A rough road over the Coastal range opened land travel, but it remained difficult. Finally, a rail line was completed in 1916. Then growth was steady the next few decades. Today Coos Bay remains an active logging center and tourist destination, but the mining industry has disappeared.

After visiting the boardwalk and having lunch at The Blue Heron, a decent German restaurant right in downtown, we stopped by Mingus Park to visit the Choshi Japanese Gardens, named in honor of Coos Bay’s sister city relationship. Choshi is also a Pacific coast city, located east of Tokyo.

Tuesday was a warm and sunny day, so we decided to go to the beach. We chose a little cove just off the North jetty as the Siuslaw River empties into the Pacific. As we arrived, we noticed the tide was heading out, and after an hour or so, the water level had dropped enough that there was a visible sandbar crossing the cove. During the morning, we were treated to a bob of seals, playing in the cove. As the water level dropped, most headed out into the river. It was a very relaxing beach day. Keith and I decided to walk out on the sandbar to get a closer look at the seals. That didn’t work, as they just moved farther away as we approached. But that water was cold on our feet.

Since it had been a very nice day and the evening was still warm, with very little wind, we went to Heceta Beach to watch sunset. It wasn’t a spectacular sunset, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.

I realized that I haven’t mentioned Mouse in a while. Well he is doing great. He gets his daily walks and plenty of time in the tent room to soak in the sun.

Well that is it for now. I tried a new format that Joanette is using. It allows various ways to display the pictures. I am checking it out.

Heceta State Beach, Birthday and More

Bill and I, and a little later, Keith and Joanette drove from our camp at Armitage County Park to Heceta Beach RV Park near Florence, Oregon. It was a quick, hour and a half drive across the Oregon Coast Range. Because the Coast Range is made up of fairly low level mountains, the ride was much less arduous than you usually find in mountain driving.

Once we reached the summit, the remainder of the drive was along the Suislaw (pronounced sigh YEW slaw) River, which reaches the Pacific in Florence.

Siuslaw River Bridge, US Hwy 101, in Florence

The bridge was completed in 1936, and was one of the early WPA projects in Oregon. prior to then highway traffic was handled by a ferry, whose terminal pylons you can see in the foreground.

We set up camp at Heceta RV Park, and awaited Keith and Joannette’s arrival. They had been delayed by a mechanical issue with their coach. Eventually they left the RV at the repair station and drove over with their tent, the two dogs and tent camped for the night. Luckily, the repair was complete early afternoon on the 20th and they did the roundtrip drive to retrieve it.

On Tuesday, while waiting for the RV repair, we all (well except for Mouse), went on, what turned out to be a 5.3 mile walk along the beach to the Siuslaw jetty and then back on the streets. we all felt the effects of walking on sand. It was a slightly overcast day, but not too breezy, so easy walking weather.

Photo op in front of art studio near beach

The dunes, along this stretch of coast, reach heights of up to 50 feet. Bill climbed up to check out how much farther it was to the jetty, which we could not see from beach level.

There is a jetty similar to the one you can see on the other side of the river, just below the sand behind Keith and Joanette. A word about the dogs. The one on the left is Goober, Keith and Joanette’s miniature schnauzer. The chihuahua-Jack Russell mix, on the right, is Kona, K&J’s granddaughter, Bailey’s dog. Kona is spending the year with Keith and Joanette while Bailey is at University in housing that does not allow pets.

You know I can’t pass up a large chair photo op. Well this one is just made of natural stone.

After the walk, we went back for a well deserved nap. Keith got the call the coach was ready and they headed back to Eugene.

I made dinner using a whole chicken that had been in Joanette’s freezer. I have to admit, I have not cut up a whole chicken in years, and the cut parts did not resemble any chicken part I would recognize. So, the whole lot went into a pot of chicken stew. That and warm bread was dinner.

Some of you know that Wednesday was my 66th birthday.

It got started early, when two women, whom met earlier, dropped by, with balloons, cookies and a special treat. We met them on our beach walk and they were walking with a pet stroller with a Devon Rex cat inside. The Devon Rex is a similar breed to Mouse’s Cornish Rex. We spend some of Tuesday helping one of them celebrate a birthday. And they reciprocated early Tuesday.

The flowers were from Bill.

Bill and I went into Florence for a walk, shared a sandwich at a riverside market and got to know the cute little town. We found the pier-side shop we had heard about, where one could buy crab by the pound. We will head back there with Keith and Joanette sometime to enjoy some dungeness crab, very soon.

Later that evening Keith, Joanette and Bill took me to La Pomodori, a cute Italian restaurant for a birthday dinner.

It was a great birthday and spending time with these three special people made it all.

Willamette Scenic Bikeway- Maps

I wasn’t planning on posting today, but a friend asked me to post the maps of the rides. So here they are:

Day 1 – Champoeg to Salem

Day 2 – Salem to Albany

Day 3 – Albany to Brownsville

Day 4 – Brownsville to Armitage

As you see, we crossed I-5 four times and the Willamette River four times. I will say the river crossings were far more interesting than the interstate crossings. 😉

Days 3 and 4 – Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway – Albany to Brownsville and then on to Armitage County Park

I did not get to post a blog for day 3, so here are Days 3 & 4.

Day 3

Our ride for Day 3 would take us from Albany to Brownsville. We didn’t have any particular stops planned, so we thought the ride would take about 3 hours. Bill had asked Keith to bring his old bicycle seat to dinner Friday night because he was not happy with a new bike seat he had purchased just prior to the trip.

Since we did not have the tool needed, we decided to stop at a bike shop, we had noticed near the restaurant the night before. So while Bill was making arrangements to have the seat exchanged, I took some daytime pictures in the neighborhood.

It gave me an opportunity to take a pictures of the Sybaris Bistro building.

The original two story building was remodeled into this open plan in 1893 to serve as a mercantile store. The building is in the Albany historic district, across the street from the Carousel Museum.

The Carousel is not a historic restoration, but a carousel shaped building to house a modern carousel with restored and new pieces, all hand carved wood. It is a monument to the great carousels of our past.

On our ride to Brownsville, we rode along the banks of the Willamette River for a while.

Passed beautiful rows of blueberry bushes

Look carefully and you can see the just ripe blueberries. No, I did not sneak a sample, tempting as it may have been.

Just as we were arriving into Brownsville, a Datsun Car Owners Road Rally came by. We watched for some 10 minutes as one Datsun after another passed by. Remember, Datsun was the predecessor to Nissan in the US.

That is Bill’s “thumbs up” in the right of the frame.

After the Datsuns were past, we walked across the street to our Airbnb for the evening.

This is the front of the building. Our space was the entire ground floor and the loft bedroom.

It is a fun space, originally built in 1912 as a homeopathic pharmacy owned by two sisters. It later housed the local newspaper, The Albany Times. The current owners bought it in 2017, and are slowly restoring it in their spare time. They have clearly done a lot, but have a ways to go. My favorite aspect of the space are the pressed tin ceilings.

On our evening walk to the store, we passed a great example of Italianate Villa style. Here is a little about this beautiful hime.

I know how I spend time on the buildings in my blog, but I so enjoy finding gems like this.

So, Sunday mornings in Brownsville do not offer much, no coffee, no breakfast, not even a bakery. They have these, but they are all closed on Sunday. So Bill and I decided to hit the pavement early.

Day 4 – Brownsville to Armitage County Park, Eugene

Today’s Ride was short, 25 miles and uneventful. We did notice the agriculture had changed. Gone were the hops, hemp, fruit and berries and instead, wide open fields of hay and seeds.

South of Brownsville, the trail goes up into the foothills of the Cascades with a climb of over 600 feet in just a mile or so. We didn’t really want that climb, so I plotted a flat path that reconnected with the official path after about 11 miles. It was quiet with almost no traffic. In fact, in the entire 11 miles two cars in each direction passed us.

As we got close to our destination, I called Keith and asked if he could come and take pictures as we arrived.

And here we are, 143 miles from Champoeg State Park at the entrance of Armitage County Park. We have biked the entire Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway..

We had a great ride, riding 4 days, with three very different overnight venues, a great dinner with Keith and Joanette.

Tomorrow, the 4 of us travel to Florence, Oregon, where we will spend two weeks along the Oregon coast at Heceta Beach RV Park. I won’t post daily, but will every few days.

Day 2 – Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway – Salem to Albany

After our breakfast at Century House, we left Salem behind for what would be our longest riding day, 43 miles. We started by crossing Salem to Riverfront Park and made our way toward the Peter Courtney Minto Island Bridge. Just before crossing the bridge, we passed the Giant Globe.

Clearly a lot of money and effort went into designing and building the globe and I am glad there is an ongoing preservation effort.

The bridge links Salem Riverfront Park with Minto Island, a 1200 acre wilderness and conservation area with over 29 miles of multi-use trails. It’s close proximity and ease of access makes it a favorite for locals wanting outdoor recreation.

We rode on quiet country roads about 12 miles and the bike trail headed south along the river. Everyone we talked to suggested taking the bridge at that point across the river and visit the small town of Independence and afterwards come back across the river to continue the ride.

We headed into Independence and were greeted by a group kayaking the river at that point.

In the background, so can see the new Trace Hotel, which is scheduled to open this fall. We happened to run into the General Manager at our stop at Jubilee Champagne and Dessert Bar. At that time of day, we opted for coffee and a couple of their delicious pastries.

The Trace Hotel GM was very pleased to tell us the new hotel would have secure storage for bikes, a full bike service station and a hot tub and spa to relax those sore muscles. Who knows, we might come back and check it out.

Since we knew we were going to have quite a few miles until the next town, we bought sandwiches to take with us as we headed back across the river to continue our ride. We did find a nice shady place near the Buena Vista Ferry to enjoy our lunch.

Our lunch stop

Bill resting after lunch

After lunch, we rode a short distance to check out Ankeny Winery, where we tasted but did not purchase any more wines. (No room on the bikes.) And, we could have had lunch at the winery, if we had known beforehand .

On our way out, I noticed a sign on a pear tree.

Can you imagine this tree is still producing pears and has been doing so for something like 170 years. Thomas Cox purchased the land on Ankeny Hill in 1849. The seed for this tree along with apple and peach trees he planted were brought to Oregon in his journey along the Oregon Trail in 1846-47.

Those, who know me, know that I love finding little pieces of history like this.

We made our way to Albany, where my brother, Keith, and I had planned a surprise for Joanette on their 31st anniversary. They drove up from Armitage County Park and met us at Sybaris Bistro. The surprise was lost when Joanette noticed a sign indicating the distance to Albany. She said to Keith, ” we are going to meet John and Bill.”

Dinner was fantastic. The chef is a James Beard Award winner, and his dishes reflected his skill. I particularly liked using a corn chowder as a base for cornflake encrusted Halibut.

After dinner, Keith and Joanette headed back to camp and we headed to bed, because we had 36 miles planned for the today.

Day 1 – Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway – Champoeg to Salem

Yesterday morning, Keith and Joanette drove us to Champoeg State Park on the Willamette River, about 30 minutes drive from downtown Portland.

Champoeg was a town in what was then Oregon Country, a disputed area that both England and the United States claimed. In 1843 area residents, meeting in Champoeg, voted 52-50 to petition the US government to establish a provisional government . It took two years for the petition to reach Washington and in 1846 Oregon treaty settled the land dispute and Oregon became a US territory, but Champoeg was passed over as the capital.

In 1861 the town was destroyed when the Willamette River rose 55 feet above flood stage, washing away most of the structures, and they were were never rebuilt.

But today it was important to Bill and me. It is the Northern terminus of the Willamette Scenic Bike Bikeway. Bill and I will bike along scenic backroads and lanes back to our campsite at Armitage County Park. We will take four riding days to cover the 134 miles. Our first day we logged 35.81 miles.

Yesterday, our ride was divided into two parts, the first along lightly traveled roads through a very diverse agricultural area, with many varieties of fruit and nut trees and two vey important crops: hops and hemp.

Hops vines are strung vertically high above the ground.

You can see the hop cones, almost ready for harvest.

And the other interesting crop is

hemp, a cousin to cannabis. When we first saw the plants, I thought it odd that they were out in the open, unfenced and unprotected. Although very valuable commercially, they have no benefit to someone looking for a cheap high.

We rode past all the various fields on our way to the Wheatland Ferry, where we crossed the Willamette River to visit a couple of wineries and the Willamette Cheese Factory.

It was a quick ride across and then the first winery was just up the road to the right. Arcane Cellars, a great little winery, right on the Willamette River.

Very rarely do Bill and I think every wine at a tasting is worth taking home, but Arcane wines did just that. But on bikes, we had to choose. Their Rogue Valley Tempranillo was the winner.

Our next stop was Stangeland

Here, we met the winemaker and tasted a few wines. Because we were on the bikes, we shared one tasting at each place. Again we found the wines to be well crafted and selected another tempranillo for purchase. I wasn’t quite as impressed as at Arcane.

Just across the road was our last stop for the day,

Home of some great tasting hand-crafted cheeses. We tasted several cheeses and ended up taking four with us. It is a challenge to keep the cheese cool in our saddle bags.

Getting back on the bikes we had a challenging 5 miles before we picked up a bike lane again. Our deviation to visit the wineries and cheese factory had taken us off the bikeway and onto a busy highway shoulder.

The last few miles were across Salem and by the State Capitol.

The statue at the top is not a specific person but an artistic representation of the Oregon pioneer.

We arrived at Century House BnB and was greeted by Jean, an enthusiastic biker. She told us at breakfast that she has biked in 38 of the states.

Jean was a great host and was very attentive to make our stay comfortable. The welcoming butterscotch cookies were particularly well received.

After a little down time we walked to dinner and crossed the campus of Willamette University, was where we passed these huge Sequoia trees. I thought they must have been there when the university was founded in 1842, but surprisingly they were planted 100 years later in 1942 in celebration of the university’s centennial.

After a great night’s sleep, we had breakfast with Jean and the other two guests and were on our way to Albany, Oregon, a planned 42 mile day.

Bill waiting for breakfast to begin.

Eugene and Springfield

Bill and I arrived in Eugene Tuesday afternoon and set up camp. My Brother, Keith, and Sister-in-law, Joanette, arrived a couple hours later. This is our first day of almost 3 weeks together in Oregon.

On the drive up from Redding, we passed one of my favorite sights in California, Mt. Shasta.

But, just before the mountain, we were treated to a nice sunrise over Shasta Lake.

The Lake has a lot more water than it did last August. And then, just a few miles later:

I was having some difficulty getting a nice picture at 70 miles per hour.

While we waited for Keith and Joanette to arrive, we just hung around camp.

I thought Mouse was in this picture, but he must be a little camera shy.

Once Keith snd Joanette arrived, we got settled in, had a quick dinner of Beef and chicken pot pies from Trader Joes and turned in early.

It had been a few days since I had been on the bike, so, on Wednesday, I got up early and rode down to the Willamette River, along its bike paths and back via the Rosa Parks Bike Path.

I had planned to ride along the southern river path all the way to the Knickerbocker Bicycle Bridge, just before I-5, but as you can see on the map, I had quite a detour through downtown Eugene and the University of Oregon, due to path construction along the river.

The river is shallow and has lots of small rapids in the Eugene area.

Continue reading “Eugene and Springfield”

La Ciudad de El Paso de Robles

Or Paso for short, located along the Salinas River 20 miles in land from the Pacific. We have been coming here for years, usually for quick weekends of wine tasting at the more than 200 wineries located in the surrounding hills.

This trip, we joined 28 other campers on a Rainbow RV camping event. The focus of the trip was Saturday night’s “Winemakers’s Cook-Off.” But, we managed to pack the weekend with other activities. In my last post, I highlighted our visit to Lights in the Field. Saturday morning, our local hosts provided breakfast and then some of us went into Paso to checkout the City Park, with its Carnegie Library.

The library, built in 1907-08 from a $10,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation sits in City Park and today in on the National Register of Historic Places.

Near the Park is the Paso Robles Inn, originally named Hotel El Paso de Robles, the hotel was constructed in 1889-91 using 1 million bricks. Part of the ownership group, at that time was Jessie James’ uncle and aunt, Drury and Louisa James. Jessie used the hotel as a hideout and there are escape tunnels under the ballroom, which was the only part of the hotel saved in a 1940 fire.

Ballroom Entrance

Interior Ballroom

After a nice lunch in town, we headed back to the RV park, to rest before the main event.

The 21st Annual Winemakers’ Cookoff, is an annual fundraiser hosted by the Rotary Club to raise scholarship funds to assist local high school graduates to pay for collage. It is a fun event that brings many of the local winemakers together. Each winery selects both the food item and pairs that with wine from their collection to share with the attendees. All of the food and wine and staff time is donated by the wineries. After entering and verifying that you are of legal drinking age, you are give a wine glass and a plastic plate and then you are on you own.

Bill with his notched plate and inserted wine glass. That is more difficult to manage than you might think.

You are also given 6 tickets, which you use to vote for you favorite wineries. Although there is some chicanery where food and wine are not the only things valued. Some wineries bribe with raffles tickets, free T-shirsts, One even had a Gilligan Island theme, with Ginger, Mary Ann, the Skipper and Gilligan.

Here I am with Gilligan and, I assume, a native islander. Although I am pretty sure he is Greek.

I did give them a couple of voting tickets, and they let me select a message in bottle which said I won a logo T-shirt.

The event lasted 3 hours and during the last hour, a local bakery brought out delicious “Madonna Cakes” to share. I had a great carrot cake.

This is our group, except for the woman in orange top. We don’t know who she is, but we tried several photos and she manage to jump in just at the right time.

I can see Bill and I returning for this again.

Yesterday, we went wine tasting with a couple of guys from Palm Springs. We had not met them before, but knew of them as they used own one of the guest houses in the Warm Springs area.

We chose three wineries, had lunch at the first and enjoyed tasking the wines of all three. And quite frankly, for us, that is enough.

On the patio at Aaron Wines

Tasting Room at Niner Wine Estates

With Doug and Matt on the patio of Tooth and Nail Winery

After a quick nap, we went out with the group to a local Mexican fish restaurant, Fish Gaucho. It had a very eclectic menu, not restricted to fish. Food was very tasty, well presented and the beverage list had lots of unusual choices.

I had Chile Verde Beef Short Ribs and once I got rid of the over cooked fried egg off the top, it was fantastic, served with a side of jalapeño mashed potatoes.

Today, we had out toward Oregon. We will stop for the night in Redding at Green Acres RV Park and plan on being in Eugene tomorrow afternoon, where we will meet Keith and Joanette and begin our 3 week Oregon adventure.

Destination- Oregon

Bill and I left Cathedral City yesterday. Our destination is Oregon to spend three plus weeks with my brother Keith and his wife Joanette. They are on their first post-retirement summer and have gone totally mobile.

Our plan is to spend about a week in the Willamette Valley, including a 138 mile bike trip, and then a couple of weeks on the Oregon Coast in Florence. More about that later.

Yesterday, we drove to one of our favorite California wine growing areas, Paso Robles. We are attending a weekend sponsored by Rainbow RV. The prime event for this weekend will be the 21st annual Winemaker’s Cook-off, a fund raising event by the local Rotary Club. The entry fee gets you in, and then the wine and food is all included. I’m told, far more food and wine than you could possibly consume.

Last night, the local hosts suggested that we check out, Bruce Munro’s Field of Lights at Sensorio

So, we did! Amazing, and my Iphone camera did not do it justice.

The fact that the lights are installed on slopes and in valleys added to the impact.

All solar powered.

We had a great time walking through the lights, enjoying the gentle evening breeze. Afterwards, we returned to camp. It was a long day and the nice queen bed was our next destination.

Tonight is the Cook-off.