Monday, June 3, 2013

Girl's Trip to Italy and France, May 2013

Italy and France

My high school friends and I have enjoyed alot of trips together.   It all began when we turned 50.  We decided we would take a short cruise to Mexico to celebrate our 50th.  We have continued to take a trip each year...including this wonderful trip to Italy and France. In years past we have been on the Mexico cruise, Las Vegas, Mesquite, Hawaii, Branson, New York, New Orleans/Mississippi/Nashville, Niagara Falls/Philadelphia, Yellowstone/Jackson Hole, Boston and Cape Cod, Bahamas Cruise/Epcot, San Francisco and San Diego.
This trip, we took a guided two week tour with Globus Tours---which was called the Highlights of Italy and France.  We were very impressed how well organized it was and were delighted with our tour guide, Gerhard.

First stop was Rome.  We spent two days seeing the sights of Rome.  The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel and so impressed with Michelangelo's paintings on the ceilings.  We continued on to St. Peter's square and Basilica and then a stop to the Colosseum and Roman Forum.  We took an addditonal tour to see the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and the sites and squares of medieval Rome. 

Next stop was Assisi to see the 13th century Basilica of St. Francis and then a drive on the Adriatic coast and our next two days in Venice.  We took a walking tour of St. Mark's Square and the Byzantine Basilica, Doges' Palace and the Bridge of Sighs.  We also watch the glassblowers and then off to the colorful Burano Island. We didn't have the best weather in Venice....very rainy and windy. We waded back to the boat docks....the planks had been put away for the season.  

It took awhile to dry out...especially our shoes.  Then off to Ferrara and Florence the next day.
Of course, our tour took us to the Academy of Fine Arts to see Michelangelo's David.  
Great shopping at Piazza Santa Croce and a wonderful wine tasting dinner at Casa Toscana that evening. 
Next stop we were off to Pisa and Nice, France driving past some Italian and French Riviera resorts toward Monaco.  A highlight of the mornig was a visit to the picturesque hilltop town of St. Paul de Vence.  We returned to Nice for a two night stay right across from the Mediterranean.  Of course, one night we went to Monte Carlo.  I didn't go in because I didn't have a passport at the time! That morning my purse was stolen in the lobby of the Marriott in Nice.  So...Gerhard and I sat at an outside cafe with  some wine while the others were inside gambling.  
Mediterranean in background


Monte Carlo

Next we were off to Paris via the high-speed TGV Train....not sure it was high speed....took 5 hours.
As we arrived in Paris, the group tour went to the Eiffel tower while Gerhardt and I took the metro to the Consulate to see about getting me a new passport.  When we arrived we were told to come back in the morning between 8-11 am.  At least we now know.  We had a nice walk through Paris and the Concord Center and took some pictures along the way back to hotel.  We met up with the rest of the group. Dinner that night was Boeuf Bourguignon and the a tour of the City Lights.

View from our balcony

Dinner and show at the Moulin Rouge-FUN

We added two extra days in Paris after the Globus tour.  J'lene found an apartment to rent as we continued to see the sights around Paris.  Our last day we went to Monet's Garden and House and then to Versailles.  It was a very wet a rainy day but we enjoyed every minute of this tour. It was an all day tour but managed to make it back to town to top the evening off with some French Onion Soup.

Monet's beautiful garden

                                                                  Our Paris Apartment
                                                                 View out our window
                                             Our last night of dessert celebration--crepes

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Oregon Coast, Sept. 2012

Off we go....When we return is unknown
It seems like we are just back from Cabo....and we are but time to take off up the coast to Oregon.
Gary has been wanting to take a RV trip for some time and we just haven't done it. So now is the time.
We packed up the two dogs and the motorhome and left Sunday morning hoping to get through the LA traffic.  We took our time going up Interstate 5, stopping two nights at two different Elk's Lodges for overnight camping.  It is cheap camping and both nights we were invited in to the Lodge for drinks and dinner.  You know about the Elk's. 
Our two watch dogs.....DeeDee has her special sleepy medicine for traveling.  She gets car sick just going to the groomer's or vet, so for a long trip she gets her special pill.  It's seems to be working as long as we give it to her an hour ahead of time before traveling.

Our first Oregon stop was in Grants Pass to see Don and Jean Martin, formerly of Escondido.  They moved about 8 years ago to Oregon and love it.  They picked us up for dinner and showed us around town and their home.  This restaurant is called TapRock where we had my birthday dinner.

As we left Grant's Pass and made the loop back down to California to head up the Oregon Coast,
we made one more overnight stop in the Smith Rivers National Recreation Area, Panther Flats.  It was a lot cooler there and high in the mountains.  We did find a little diner up the road and stopped for a greasy hamburger and milk shake!  Gary just couldn't resist the forest campground and of course the diner.

Our first Oregon stop is on Gold Beach.  Today we explored the southern part from Brookings to Gold Coast.  Stopped along the way at all the viewing spots.  The beaches are very different than ours.  Lots of huge rocks along the shoreline and piles of driftwood. We were soon on a mission to find some clam chowder and thanks to my handy dandy phone, we found the right place on the harbor.  See below.
It seemed easier to find our clams in the to-go-bag, rather than actually clamming!

This is Ireland's Ocean RV Center at Gold Beach.  Camping area behind the lighthouse and the beach is right out front. Not the best RV camping site but does have all hook ups, cable TV and wifi....thus making time for me to start the blog.

One last run on the beach for the dogs.  Buddy ran off leash after a low flying airplane.

                                                                Bandon, Oregon

For our next night, we drove just a couple hours up to Port Orford and Bandon area.  Found a nice KOA in the woods but plan to stay for only one night.  Tomorrow we will explore the town of Bandon.  It was written up in this month's Sunset magazine. T

                                                              CCoquille Lighthouse

Bandon was inhabited by the Coquille Indians, before white settlers started to arrive in 1850. The town site was settled in 1853 and was first called Averill. After the arrival of several immigrants from Bandon, Ireland in 1873, the town’s name was changed to Bandon in 1874.

Next stop along the way.....near Charleston.

Only one night here before moving on to Florence.

Florence, Oregon
Located in a converted garage / outboard motor repair shop, some would refer to the decor of the coffee shop as eclectic and sort of funky. Has a great view of the Siuslaw River Bridge.....had coffee here with the locals and the many visitors of Florence.

One of the most photographed bridges in Florence.
The Siuslaw River Bridge is a bascule bridge that spans the Siuslaw River in Florence, Oregon. It was designed by Conde McCullough and opened in 1936.
Friends living in Florence and other friends who want to live in Florence.
Going to stay here a couple of days to explore the town and surrounding areas.

Yachats, Oregon

We had a short drive up the coast to Yachats to check out this quaint town and camp one night at Sea Perch RV resort.  We had some friends that were here last year and they loved it.  It is getting colder and have our portable heater out right now.  This is a campsite right on the beach with a beautiful
clubhouse that includes a gym, billiard room, big screen TV and leather furniture, restrooms, showers, fully equipped kitchen and laundry facilities. Of course, WiFi and cable TV with all the hookups.We did did take advantage of the laundry and did a couple loads of dirty clothes. 
I think we will continue to make our way up the coast--heading toward Newport and Tilamook....yes there is a cheese factory we will go see and a lighthouse or two.

(to be continued from memory)

As I was about to do my last posting, I now discover the last 3/4 of my blog has disappeared!
So now I will try to redo from here :(

Breakfast in Yachats....had a nice campground right on the beach.
Buddy took an off leash run on the beach chasing after a low flying
Campground in Yachats....beach just a few steps away.

Nice drive up the coast from Yachats to

Many interesting bridges along the way.

Of course, we had to stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory.  Cheeses to sample, lunch to be had and of course, Tillamook ice cream cone.

Do you know how many times I have unhooked and hooked up the jeep?

 Spokane, Washington....Surprise, here we come.

We made it to the northern tip of Oregon, and at this point we decided we were
about 7 hours away from our off to Spokane.  It was a long drive
going east along the Columbia River.  Nice drive but long.  We stopped in Ritzville...about an hour from Spokane.  It was getting dark and our GPS couldn't find the campground.  It had us going in the wrong direction and the only
place to turn around was in an old cemetery.  Finally called the place and they gave us directions.  

Justin gave us a tour at his work place on base.  He is  in charge of packing the parachutes and safety equipment.  Markay is about to demonstrate the zip line and shows us how she lands.

Watch the helicopter pilot and jumpers practicing.

Perfect landing!

The happy to spend a couple of days with the kids.  Nice dinner out and a movie while in Spokane.

                                                           Couer d 'alene, Idaho
Old friends out to lunch

We were so close to Idaho, we had to look up an ole friend of Gary's,  Frank.  He moved to Couer d'Alene about 8 years ago from San Diego and loves it.  He showed us around and invited us over for dinner to watch the debate.

View from lunch....our campground is across the lake.

Campground with the lake just in front of us.....plan on staying here a couple of days.
These deer just hanging out in someone's yard.

This is when Gary decided he needed to get a "deer whistle" while traveling.
Just too many deer.....some on the side of the road.

Big eagles here too.

Awwww.....found our deer whistle....went to Cabela's first, but none there.
Found a Walmart and they had them.  It will be mounted on RV tonight.

Time to head home

Well, it's been almost 3 weeks on the road and feeling like we want to head home.
Frank suggested to go home through Idaho, but the weather was beginning to get pretty cold. We thought we would  back track a little, and find the warmer route.  Our next stop was at Big Pines RV park in Crescent, Oregon.
The host warned us that it was going to be in the 20's in the early morning, so don't leave a hose out.  After reading about how not to have our tanks freeze, we took the necessary precautions:  opening up cabinets for better circulation, turn on the electric heater as well as the RV heater.  As it turned out, it was COLD, but nothing froze.

Took a little more time to enjoy the Columbia River as we head back.
This was a nice place....but no wifi or cable...what???  I had to talk
to Gary and clean out some cupboards!

Our view from our window.

Took the dogs on a nice walk...they weren't too sure about walking on this dock.

Last stop before leaving Oregon...time to fill up with gas before we hit those
high California gas prices.  

Time for lunch.....Mount Shasta in background.

Mount Shasta

Shasta Lake....pretty low water level.
Red Bluff at Elk's Lodge.  We took advantage of several campgrounds the Elk's offered.
It was cheap camping and usually had hookups.  We were even invited in to the lodge for a glass of wine.


DD after another RV bath....white again

Morro Bay

Next stop is Morro Bay.  Gary has a friend here so plan on staying a couple days catching up.
Beautiful, quaint little town.

The Morro Rock

Bill, Bernadette, and Gary on their deck.

Looking over the bay

This pic is for Frank....he calls Gary Dutch!

Dinner sunset

This is what Gary does at night.

Part of Bill's property...this was an old cannery.

Bill and Gary out to breakfast at Dorn's

Our last night on the beach in Ventura.  

A lonely seagull

An end to a wonderful vacation.

We made it home......3 1/2 weeks of travel

Gary said we might be gone for 6 weeks but we didn't last that long.   We saw the beautiful coast of  Oregon, headed east along the Columbia River, up to Spokane, Washington and Couer d'Alene, Idaho.  When we left the temperature at home was in the 100's.  It was time to get to someplace cooler.  We had great weather throughout the trip....just started to turn a little cold for us in the mornings in Idaho toward the end of our trip. We got to see our granddaughter which really wasn't planned but so glad we did!  

We traveled 3000 miles and spent alot of $$$ on gas.  Gas was cheaper once we got out of California, but came back when the prices were sky high!  Still waiting for them to go down.  We stayed in several state many nice ones in Oregon and several Elk's campgrounds as well as private ones.  This was the dogs first trip camping and both were great travelers.  DD required a special pill to keep her from getting sick and Buddy just went with the flow.

Now of course, Gary wants to move out of California.  He loved Florence, Oregon.  I guess he can cross this off his bucket list---traveling the coast of Oregon--done.