Traveling the U.S.A. – Chapter 15 – California

This is the final travel blog for our trip that took 132 days. There are so many photos, I hav put them in a slide show format. What a trip of a lifetime this has been!

We were in California over three weeks.  We drove out of Grants Pass, Oregon on August 21, and headed our way into California.  We spent the first night at a Harvest Host location in Corning, CA.  It was a place called “The Olive Pit.”  I was surprised to see it was in town, and just off Interstate 5.  It is a retail store and restaurant, and they have parking in the back for RV’s.  We went in to let them know we were there, and they really didn’t care.  They said we could park anywhere back there, feel free to open the slides, and use the generator.  We bought a few bottles of olives and wine, and spent the night in the parking lot.

From there we made our way to Manteca, California.  We made this stop for one night in order to have dinner with my cousin, Cindy.  When I was a kid, her family lived on our street, and then moved to Arizona.  I had not seen her in more than 40 years, and had never met her husband.  We had a lovely dinner with them and enjoyed getting to know them.  As we drove around that area, we saw a lot of Orchards.  I assumed they were olive trees, but Cindy informed us that they were almond trees, and this is the area where Blue Diamond Almonds are processed.  There are also a lot of vineyards in the area, and Cindy works for a very large winery that happened to be across the street from our RV Park.

Almond groves
Trucks of produce

We made our way to Pacifica, California, which is just outside of San Francisco.  Our RV park was right on the Pacific Coast Highway, although we were quite high above the ocean.  A short drive from the park was a public beach which we visited one day.  My oldest son and his wife live in San Francisco, so most of our time was visiting with them.  We had them over for dinner at our little home on wheels, which was fun to entertain there. 

We went to the Rosie The Riveter National Museum.  It was small, and interesting, but it’s not one that I would go to again.  It was mostly about the women from that area of California who worked building war ships.  For being a national museum, I would have thought it would have covered more than just that one community.  It was worth a quick visit, if you are int he area. 

I finally got to see Alcatraz.  The many times I have been to this city to visit my son, I had not yet gone there.  There is a ferry service to the island. We had an audio tour of the prison.  I was surprised to see how small it was.  I had in the past done the Missouri Penitentiary tour in Jefferson City, Missouri, and it was a bigger prison than Alcatraz.  Afterward we walked down the Embarcadero (the street along the bay) and had dinner, and then discovered an arcade that had old antique games.  Most everything there cost only a quarter, and it was so funny to see these machines that were around from my childhood and way before.  

Leaving San Francisco after a week of relaxation, we headed to Yosemite National Park.  Our RV park was up in the mountains about 1/2 hour’s drive from the park.  That evening we realized we had a reservation for Sequoia National Park, but not Yosemite.  I went online to make a reservation, but the earliest we could get was after we would be gone.  We decided to drive there anyway.  We figured if we couldn’t get in, we could drive to the other side of the mountain.  Well, the other side of the mountain could only be drive to by driving through Yosemite.  The ranger said she could let us drive through the park for 2 hours, but we couldn’t recreate there.  I guess that means, we couldn’t picnic or hike.  

One of the things I have realized about national parks is that they are about rocks, mountains, trees, lakes, and volcanoes.  Yosemite is definitely about rocks.  These huge rock formations on top of this mountain were just amazing.  It was at Yosemite, that the naturalist, John Muir brought Teddy Roosevelt, to convince him to start a National Park system.  We took a lot of photos in our two hours, and were happily satisfied to go back and get ready to leave the next day to make our way to Sequoia.

Our trek to Sequoia was heart-stopping.  Our GPS put us on some really treacherous mountain roads.  Sitting up high in a Class A RV, I could just see straight down some of these cliffs we were driving on.  For a good portion of the ride, I had my head turned away from the window, and contemplated if I had all my stuff in order in case we went tumbling down the mountain!  Once we reached Fresno, the ride was on solid ground.

Sequoia, once again, is about mountains and trees.  It was a beautiful forest, and Dennis was really stoked about this park.  He had been there when he was eleven years old (64 years ago), and he was so taken by the giant Sequoia tree known as General Sherman.  He was on a quest to see it again.  We had to park and take a shuttle since it was a holiday weekend and the park was busy.  The it was a mile and a half hike down to this tree.  Mind you, that means it was a mile and a half up to come back.  When you are several thousand feet above sea level, that hike back up was a killer.  By the way, as of this writing, Sequoia National Park is closed due to wild fires. They have wrapped the General Sherman tree with fire resistant materials. I don’t think the fire has gone that far yet. Let’s hope it doesn’t.

I personally like the redwood forest better because I loved all the ferns that were the ground cover.  Sequoia is nice also, and the trees are amazingly big.  The General Sherman is the largest living tree in the world.  It is not the tallest, but it is the largest.

What I didn’t realize about California was that most of the state has mountains.  As we left Lemon Cove to drive to Malibu Beach, I was surprised of how many mountains we drove through to get to the Los Angeles area.  As we got into town, the traffic got heavy.  Once again, our park was on the Pacific Coast Highway, just hundreds of miles south from San Francisco.  Our RV spot was a back in, and if we backed in too far, we would have tumbled one hundred feed down to the highway and ocean!  Fortunately, Dennis is a good driver, and park properly.  We had a great view of the ocean.

The view looks like we’re right at the ocean, when actually we are about 100′ above.
I took this photo from the Pacific Coast Highway–we are the RV on the top right–right on the edge of the hill.

My youngest son lives about 10 miles from this location, so we were about to spend time with him and his wife.  We took one day to drive to Simi Valley to visit the Ronald Reagan Library.  Wow!  Was it impressive.  Not only does it have all the information about our 40th president, the museum also contains Air Force One plane and a Marine One helicopter as a permanent display that we could actually walk through.  They also had a special exhibit about the FBI.  We arrived shortly after 10:00 a.m. and left at 4:00 p.m., and I think we just skimmed the surface.  There was so much to see.

When our week in the Los Angeles area concluded, we made our way to the San Diego area.  The first evening there we met up with a lady I had contacted a couple years ago who was an Ancestry DNA match.  I also met her mom and all their family.  They are 4th to 5th cousins and we pretty much found the connection of her 4th great grandmother, born in Hungary (now Romania since WW1), was the niece of my great great grandfather.  We will be doing more checking and verifying on the family connection.  

We spent our second day with a friend from Junior High!  Yeah, time flies.  Cheryl did not graduate with our class because her family moved to California when she was in high school.  I had no clue where she was, but a few years ago, when I was celebrating my 50th high school reunion, Cheryl was there!  We reconnected, and therefore our lunch together on the ocean.

We had pretty much seen everything in California.  We did miss going to Coronado, but we don’t live that far away, that we could easily go there sometime.  It was time for us to head home.  We left El Cajun for Yuma, Arizona.  It was just a stop over for the night, and let me tell you, it is HOT in Yuma, Arizona!  The following day, we made our way back home.

It feels really good to be home.  We are not in sync yet on our daily routines, so we are kind of discombobulated at the moment.  Slowly, living at home and what we do here all day, is coming back.

All I have to say is. “Home again, home again, jiggety-jig!  Home Sweet Home!


  1. I, too, have enjoyed following along on your trip. I’m glad that the issues that you encountered were manageable, and I’m glad you’re safely home.
    I’m still hoping you’ll find time to read “Travels With Charley.” You just might find Steinbeck to be a kindred spirit.


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