Friday, October 31, 2014

Jalama Beach CA - Setting up camp

Last spring several friends from SoCal and us planned a joint camping adventure to the Santa Barbara County Park - Jalama Beach as a fun get together. Jalama was chosen as it's approximately half way between the San Diego and SF Bay areas. It's also been a long time favorite campground because of its remote location, dog friendliness, and long sandy beaches in a rare undeveloped area along the California coast.

After packing up XSC8POD (our 2014 Free Spirit Sprinter van), we head south on Hwy 101.
 On the road again - XSC8POD reflected on tanker

Harvest season for vineyards surrounding Paso Robles

Just before Gaviota Pass, we take the Lompoc exit onto the California Coast Hwy 1 to Jalama Road. The narrow two lane blacktops curve through farms and ranches as we make our way towards the Pacific coast.

When we made our reservation for a group site many months ago, we knew we were taking a chance with the weather. Fortunately Mother Nature smiles on us by bringing in the last heat wave of the season. While temps hover in the 90-100 F range in the cities and interior valleys, the day welcomes us with warm sunny weather, calm winds and clear skies as we approach Jalama... or in other words perfect beach weather.
Jalama Road winds through large ranches

Good thing we have reservations

Almost there! Look, the Amtrak Surfliner is approaching, be careful going over the tracks

We couldn't have asked for better weather as we check-in at the gate and find our group camp site.  Several of the others are already there and have started to set up. We back into our site, plug into the utilities, extend the patio shade, and we're done.
Entering Jalama Beach Park

John sets up his camper's canopy

Camp site at Jalama Beach

After greeting everybody and helping to set up extra shade canopies over picnic tables, we leash up the dogs and head down to the beach.
Jalama Beach Campground

Ahhh - now that's a BEACH!

When we return to camp, it's happy hour and we toast our good fortune with wine and margaritas.
Jamie with his margarita

White wine anyone?

Suzie with margarita in a REI cup


David and Terry toast each other as the sun starts to set


As Jamie and Suzie prepare gourmet hamburgers and sausages for our first dinner, the rest of us watch the sunset and prepare for a fun evening together.
Sunset at Jalama

Party lights are up and ready

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cruzing the Cascades OR & CA

From the Oregon coast we take OR Hwy 22 eastward. This route takes us through Salem, the state capitol of Oregon. As we pass over the bridge on the Willamette River, we see the Willamette Queen at dock in Riverfront Park. Another time it'd be fun to take one of their cruises.
Back across the Willamette Valley

Willamette Queen at dock in Salem OR

We stay on Hwy 22 out of Salem as it follows the north fork of the Santiam River up into the Cascades. From the Willamette Valley there are three major routes up into the Cascades:
  1. Hwy 22 from Salem
  2. Hwy 20 from Albany/Lebanon
  3. Hwy 126 from Eugene
Of these three we've found Hwy 22 to be the easiest to drive. All three have beautiful scenery. Hwy 22 runs past the Detroit Dam and Lake. Unlike those in California, all of Oregon's rivers and lakes look pretty full this year.
North Fork of the Santiam

Detroit Lake

The trees get taller as we climb higher. That night we camp at Belknap Hot Springs, one of our favorite stops in this neck of the woods (see visits in once, twice in 2011 and then again returning from Alaska in 2012).
Tall trees along Hwy 22

Camped at Belknap Hot Springs

Morning inside van

The next morning our first stop is Larry's RV in Redmond OR since Peter wants to check out a 4x4 camper {sigh}. It has some nice features, but eats considerably more fuel than the Free Spirit.
Mt. Washington

The Three Sisters

Tiger Bengal TX

We camp at LaPine State Park along the Deschutes River. We're delighted to find a campsite along the river banks. It would be fun to raft the Deschutes sometime on another trip - it looks very scenic.
Deschutes as it flows from the north

LaPine campsite

Deschutes as it flows to the south

During a snack before dinner we have a unexpected guest at our table.
Hi there - I'm very friendly and very hungry

Ooooo nuts - I LOVE nuts

Chomp - chomp - chomp

In the morning we drive into Newberry National Volcanic Monument. The caldera itself is over 50 miles wide and contains two lakes - Paulina Lake and East Lake.
OR Hwy 21 towards Newberry Caldera

Entrance to Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Obsidian boulder and volcanic bomb outside Visitor's Center

The salesman at Larry's RV recommended our seeing the Big Obsidian Flow while we're at in the Newberry Volcano caldera. Both of us love obsidian, so of course we have to see it. The square mile flow is only 1300 years old (young geologically speaking). The flow only is only 10% obsidian while the rest consists of a mix of grey and black pumice, which is also a type of volcanic glass.

Why is obsidian black? Tiny black particles of iron oxide act like a drop of black ink in a glass of clear water. To the native tribes in this area obsidian was the same as money in the bank. It was highly valued as a trade item for making tools. In fact, even today obsidian blades are superior to even surgical steel.
There it is - turn in here

Ohhh - that's a nice bolder

6 flights of stairs to the top of the flow

Obsidian rocks in rail wall to stairs

View from the top of the flow over Paulina Lake

Rain water pond collects below flow

Trail through flow

Glassy crystals formed in taffy like obsidian

Obsidian rocks

Large outcropping of obsidian stands out in the flow

The day is wearing on and we're decided to make a run for home. So it's time to get back on the road if we want to sleep in our bed at home tonight.
Big bear sells sporting goods in the Cascades

Lumberjack advertizes motel

There's the fire in the Trinity Alps

Klamath Lake

Large flock of White Pelicans

Summer hay's stored for winter

Mount Shasta's up ahead

Recent forest fire

Grass Lake

We stop at a Vista Point and are treated with an excellent view of Mount Shasta which dominates the surrounding landscape. This large volcanic mountain can be seen from over 100 miles away. It rises 11,000 feet from the base to the summit for a total elevation of 14,162' above sea level. It has a 17 mile diameter with 5 glaciers including the largest one in California.
Mount Shasta

Castle Crags from the north

Shasta Lake is still alarmingly low

but the Sacramento River looks full.

Some farmers are still growing rice in the Central Valley

while others just plow dusty fields

Late summer in the East Bay hills

Full moon rising - we'll be home tonight!

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Retired and enjoying life to the max.