Colorado River


Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 28-10-2009

We had a few days before heading to the Anthem area so we made a stop near Laughlin on the Colorado River.  We had a spot almost IN the water and the girls enjoyed building forts while Andrew tried his hand at fishing.   The wind picked up and seemed almost to be of hurricane force (undoubtedly not even close) but it made for a wild weather experience.   Beautiful spot and time well spent. 

Las Vegas


Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 26-10-2009

Viva Las Vegas! From the peaceful solitude of Death Valley to the blinding bling of Las Vegas, it was a tough transition to say the least. Our RV park was quite nice though and out of the main stream of Vegas. Ken and I had a great dinner out at Sushi Samba in the Venetian Hotel followed by drinks at a variety of other venues. I can’t say anymore as you know what they say, “What happens in Vegas STAYS in Vegas!”

We just HAD to enjoy a buffet one night as the word buffet seems synonymous with Vegas.  So,  we worked up a big appetite and headed to the Rio for their famous “‘Round the World Buffet”. It was quite an amazing set up with so much food it verged on making you a big nauseous before you even started. The kids LOVED it though (especially our foody son, Andrew) and they ALL wished we could go there everyday. (Ugh!)  What cracked us up most though was Poohnut and her insatiable appetite for seafood. We were all enjoying our dessert when Poohnut left and returned with some clams. Then she left and returned with some shrimp, then clams, then shrimp. Alright already Poohnut! We all left about 10 pounds heavier but much happier for the experience!

I took the girls shopping one day at Caesar’s Palace and we had a great time walking around the Forum Shops and watching a bunch of cheezy statues come to life in the shows. That evening, we all walked along the strip and watched as volcanoes erupted and pirates battled. Three nights is MORE than enough to experience what Vegas has to offer so we were happy to be off to the calm beauty of the Colorado River. 

On our way to the Colorado River and the Laughlin area, we made a stop at Hoover Dam.  A few weeks later we would see the water in AZ which came from the Hoover Dam.  Cool bit of hands on education for the kids. 

Manzanar/Death Valley National Park


Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 22-10-2009

On our way to Death Valley, we stopped at Manzanar.  In 1942, the United States government ordered more than 110,000 men, women, and children to leave their homes and detained them in remote, military-style camps. Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of ten camps where Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese aliens were interned during World War II.  It was a surreal experience to walk the actual grounds where these people were held prisoner.  It was made even more surreal to see Ken’s uncle’s name, Donald Nishimura (just a boy at the time)  on the list of people detained at this camp.  These good families lost their businesses. their homes and many,  their pride.  In 1988, Congress and President Reagan passed legislation that granted a formal apology to Japanese Americans who were incarcerated.  It was a real eye opener for the kids to visit this place and know the difficulties that are part of their heritage.

Death Valley is  world renowned for its colorful and complex geology.  I envisioned Death Valley to be somewhat desolate but it was far from it.  Peaceful, beautiful and wide open are just a few adjectives to describe this amazing place.  Ken got inspired one evening and made a FIVE pound burrito for dinner! 

We spent some time at the Mesquite Flat Dunes.  The kids came manned with plastic trash bags ready to slide down the side of the 150′ dunes.  The tiny grains of sand were actually grains of quartz and feldspar and were so fine that they didn’t make for good sledding.  Andrew decided to trek across the sand field to hike to the top of the tallest dune in the area. We took a picture of him at the top and he looked like he was a teeny tiny ant on the top of an anthill!

We took a tour of Scotty’s Castle, “a remarkable and exotic edifice that rises from the dust like a desert mirage”.  The story of the castle was as fun as seeing the castle in person.  The castle takes its name from Walter Scott, better known as “Death Valley Scotty”, an ex prospector and performer at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.  Scotty met Chicago millionaire Albert Johnson, who had been urged by his doctors to spend time in a warm dry climate.  Scotty roped Johnson into investing in a fictitious gold mine on this property.  Despite the fact that gold was never found, Scotty and Johnson became friends for life.  Johnson, having lived a very sheltered life,  was able to live the wild west life through this friendship and hearing Scotty’s stories. 

At 282 feet BELOW sea level, Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America.  Two to four thousand years ago, the basin was the site of a 30 foot lake that evaporated and left a one to five foot layer of salt in its wake.  A briny pond, four times saltier than the ocean, still remains in the basin during the winter.  A really amazing site! 

Yosemite National Park


Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 19-10-2009

From our campground in June Lake,  we took a 2 hour drive to Yosemite National Park. Ken and I have both visited Yosemite years ago (Ken actually hiked Half Dome as a young lad) so we were both anxious to share this wonderful park with our kids. The Tioga pass had been closed due to the recent storm but it was cleared and open so we drove the pass  up and over the peak of 9950’. Down in the Yosemite Valley,  it was 81 degrees and the sun was strong. We took a hike to Yosemite Falls and it was amazing. Had we took a trip to Yosemite just one week earlier, the falls would have been but a trickle. The recent storm brought over five inches of rain and provided enough snow pack to feed the falls. We also visited the Ahwahnee Hotel which has a rich history of famous visitors. On our way out of the park, we stopped by the base of El Capitan and watched as several rock climbers make their ascent. It takes four days to hike up and down El Capitan so an overnight stop (hanging off the mountain) is required. Not something on my bucket list!  

Mono Lake and June Lake Loop, Sierras


Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 17-10-2009

Ken and I both grew up in Southern California and we remember hearing about Mono Lake and how Los Angeles was dependent on this beautiful lake as a big water source.  Having now learned the story of Mono Lake, it  makes one wonder why more effort wasn’t made by Los Angeles to assess other water sources.  Here is the low down. . .in 1941, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power began diverting Mono Lake’s tributary streams 350 south to meet the growing demands of a thirsty Los Angeles population.  The volume of water in Mono Lake was cut in half while its salinity doubled.  The ecosystem of Mono Lake began to collapse.  In 1978, Mono Lake Committee was formed to help protect Mono Lake.  Much has been done since 1978 to help bring Mono Lake’s ecosystem back to its delicate balance with more work still needed to ensure its ultimate survival. 

My sister Robin, husband Steve and son Paul have visited the June Lake area for many years.  I have seen many a photo and hoped one day, we too would find ourselves in this beautiful place. Finally we arrived at the June Loop and feel in love. We reached our campground, Oh Ridge State Park, and found a spot overlooking June Lake. The day was unseasonably warm (75 degrees) and we relaxed with the beautiful backdrop of the Sierras.

On Saturday Andrew went fishing and we all took longs walks around the area. The autumn leaves were ablaze in gold and when the wind picked up, it was as if the air was filled with golden snowflakes. There were photographers everywhere taking in these amazing fall colors. Sunday we awoke to fierce winds and cooler temperatures. The weather (as my sister warned us) could change on a dime in the Sierras and we felt like we were entering winter. The kids really wanted to play a game of volleyball on the beach of June Lake. We had a blast as the wind was a strong factor on where the ball ended up going. It was parents against  kids and we were beat badly. This was due in total part to my complete inability to dig, spike or serve. Fun nonetheless! We had some young guys camping out in a tent next to us and it was hard to watch them try to endure the strong winds with their wimpy tent. We brought them over homemade warm banana bread at night as we felt we wanted to do something for these poor guys. When we woke up, they were gone and their tent, while still there, was badly shredded.  We assumed they took off for a place with wind protection. Snow was forecasted for the next afternoon so we packed up Monday morning and headed to dry and warm Death Valley.   


Washoe State Park, Nevada


Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 15-10-2009

We had our mail and other items sent to Reno as we knew we would be passing by en route to the Sierras. While I picked up our mail at an old historic post office in the center of Reno, Andrew spent some “alone” time at an RC (radio control) shop. When I picked him up, he was so excited he could barely speak. Andrew loves to read RC magazines and the winner of a recent rock crawling RC contest was the OWNER of the RC shop. He now only met the guy (Jake Hallenback) he even got his autograph! Time well spent for my son! 

After leaving Reno, we reached a state campground in the middle of seemingly nowhere. During the drive, we wondered where in the heck we were headed but when we arrived, we were so happy! It reminded us a lot of Cave Creek. One of the most remarkable features was the potent smell of honey throughout the air. We found out there were more than 20 kind of sage bush in the area and they give off a distinct smell of honey. We loved it!

We were happy to be anchored down as we knew a big storm was coming. The reports were touting winds in excess of 120 mph. Yikes! The storm arrived early evening and it lived up to its billing. We were whipped around so much that in the middle of the night, we rearranged the sleeping set ups and pulled in the slides. Needless to say, we all barely slept but we weathered the storm with no harm done. 

When we ventured outside the RV in the morning, we couldn’t believe our eyes. Those same mountains that just yesterday were bare, were now covered with snow. A breath taking sight. The wind died down and we enjoyed walks around the park, taking in the sweet smell of honey. Now onward to camp in  those same mountains covered in snow!

Collier State Park/Crater Lake National Park


Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 13-10-2009

We were fortunate to have arrived at this small and special state park during the week as by the weekend, it was packed. It was dry camping so we we pulled our RV in forward (no need to worry about what side the water and electric was on) and overlooked the crystal clear river. There was a long walking/biking path along the river. We enjoyed many a stroll and the girls enjoyed “making their houses” along the path. Seems they are anxious to build a stick house sooner than later!    We took a bike ride to the Logging Museum which was a huge area filled with logging artifacts. Poohnut loved to pretend she was manning one of the big old caterpillars.  Could this be in her future?

The next day we ventured to Crater Lake National Park.  Crater Lake combines a deep, pure lake, so blue in color and sheer surrounding cliffs, almost two thousand feet high.  Crater Lake is located  on the crest of the Cascade Mountain range.   It lies inside a volcanic basin created when the 12,000 foot high Mount Mazama collapsed 7,700 years ago following a large eruption.   It was clear to see why this special place has a national park status. 

On the way home from this amazing experience, we let the kids loose to play in the snow along the road. They were desperate to have a snow ball fight and we think they got it out of their systems, for the time being!  The day we left, it was a mere 28 degrees. Yikes!  The days warmed up nicely so at least we get to thawout  throughout the day! 

Newport Oregon


Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 09-10-2009

We planned on staying at another state campground in Newport but found a really cool private RV park right next to the marina. It was essentially a big parking lot but it had great views and it was nice to have asphalt as opposed to dirt! Ken and Andrew did some fishing and the girls and I visited the historic marina district. At night, Ken and I took walks down the docks and saw many a boat filled with people enjoying living on board. It was fun to imagine living on one of these boats as this is one of our ultimate dreams.

Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon


Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 05-10-2009

Ken does such an amazing job researching and finding special places to camp and Fort Stevens was no exception. The Fort Stevens Military Reservation guarded the mouth of the Columbia River from the Civil War through World War II. This Oregon campground is right on the ocean and has more than  five miles of hiking trails and seven miles of bike paths.

Lauren (Poohnut) celebrated her 10th birthday during our stay in Fort Stevens.  She’s been counting down the days to her big day  for at least the last 2 months.  Much of the planning of her birthday included her menu planning.  We started the day with Ken’s cinnamon buns.  Lunch was chicken wings and dinner chicken picatta.  Dessert included homemade pumpkin pie!  What a foodie day!  She loved spreading her present opening throughout the day and had such fun opening them all.   Oh to be 10 again! 

Ken and I took a great bike ride to the ocean and throughout the forested area. Our weather was warm and sunny and we didn’t want to leave!

Seattle, Washington


Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 01-10-2009

After leaving Vancouver, it was a mere 2 hour drive south to Everett, a city just outside Seattle. The state campground was filled with large moss covered trees and was situated on a beautiful lake. The day we arrived, the sky was dark and rain was sporadic. We were one of only a handful of Rvs, evidence the season was coming to a close. We were invited over for dinner to my friend, Suzanne’s house. I have known Suzanne for more than 20 years and I have watched (through yearly holiday letters) each of her three children  grow up. It was really neat to see her wonderful family in person after all these years!

We awoke Wednesday morning to bright skies, much to our delight. When we visited Seattle last July en route to Alaska, we had a nice sunny day and we couldn’t believe our luck to have sun two visits in a row. We made a quick stop at the post office to pick up our mail (all our mail gets forwarded to Seattle since we are essentially nomads) and then on to Pike’s Place. Always a great foodie stop and we ate our yummy lunches overlooking Puget Sound. We then hopped on the monorail to the famous Space Needle. The girls and I see this landmark at the start of every Grey’s Anatomy and here we were, about to venture up the top! It was great fun and the view was stunning. We all love to toy with the idea of living in Seattle one day as it really is a great city. We just can’t decide if we could deal with the weather as we are sun lovers and, while we love rainy days, we appreciate them only upon occasion. Who knows!