Tag Archives: california travel

2013 in the Rear View Mirror

2013 – A year of travels and self discovery

The end of the year always brings reflection, a habit I developed when running our business. For us, 2013 was the first full year of retirement, traveling and self discovery. With our year-end travels, we were not able to send out Christmas cards this year, so hopefully this will suffice in lieu of cards for friends that follow our blog. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Happy whatever-holiday-tradition-you-follow!

Early 2013

After spending last Christmas 2012 with our boys (Cameron and Ryan), we started out 2013 by moving Cameron from Maine to Colorado. After a semester at the University of Maine, Cameron missed Colorado and wanted to spend his college years at CSU in Fort Collins, Colorado. That suited us, as Ryan was already enrolled there.

Ryan, Cameron and I flew to Maine, cleared out his dorm and made the 3 day trek from Maine to Colorado. We were packed into his Ford Mustang like sardines, sharing the backseat with half of his belongings.  Not the most comfortable ride across country, but we spent a lot of quality time talking, joking and just having fun. We rotated driving duties, so we only had to drive about 2 hours at a time — a cool way to travel. Lynn met us in Colorado and we moved Cameron into his new apartment and he enrolled in college.

After returning to Florida, I spent my time fishing and golfing on warm dry days. Fishing in the bay was great, a friend (Tom Helderlie) and I caught lots of red fish. We had plenty of cold days that brought on the first bout of boredom since I retired so I decided to start working on a new software project, discussed in my March 2013 blog.

Spring 2013

In February, Lynn and I talked about traveling again. We had an epiphany — what if we rented our condo to fund more travel. Getting the condo ready for the rental season was a bit of a chore, but by early March, it was fully rented for Spring break. So we hit the road again by visiting our boys in Colorado, then on to California. In California, we spent several days in Napa Valley, learning more about wines than ever before.

Red wines fermenting

Red wines fermenting

Then we were off to Sequoia National Park, the home of some the biggest redwoods in the  world. I was literally in awe of the size of these trees.

Huge redwoods

Huge redwoods

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park

Lynn and I had seen lots of Ansel Adams photography but had never visited one his most photographed subjects — Yosemite National Park. We took the chance to take some of our photos that could never rival his.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Before we left for California, a friend (Craig Bromley) mentioned that we had to visit Big Sur and the Sonoma coast. We tasted wine in Sonoma, visited Big Sur, the Hearst Castle, and spent a few days in San Francisco — what a cool town.

Point Reyes National Park

Point Reyes National Park

Iconic Golden Gate Bridge

Iconic Golden Gate Bridge

We ended our trip by taking in a Criss Angel show in Las Vegas.  That was my first trip Las Vegas, so we also took that time to visit the Hoover Dam.

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

Las Vegas

Las Vegas

After traveling for a little over a month, we returned to Florida. April and May in Florida is very nice. Warm days, cool waters, and almost no crowds. On nice days, I fished and golfed as much as I could.

Canoe

Right outside our door in Florida

On cool or rainy days, I continued to work on my new software project (aMemoryJog). I wanted to have a solid business plan and software prototype before summer and I was able to accomplish that.

Summer 2013

By the start of Summer, our condo was fully rented for the season so we jetted off on our next adventure. We decided to spend some time with our boys in Colorado, then visit the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. We saw more mountains, wildlife, lakes, streams, geysers, hot springs and mudpots than you can imagine (I almost said “than you can shake a stick at” but I visualized Lynn rolling her eyes as she read it).

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Old Barn on Morman Row

Old Barn on Morman Row

Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake

We then made our way to Oregon — starting in central Oregon and stopping to see Crater Lake — simply spectacular. Then we headed to the coast (Cannon Beach) — we had spent a weekend here when our boys were really young, but this time we spent a week really exploring this area.

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

Haystack Rock -- Taken in 2013

Haystack Rock  – Cannon Beach

Oregon Coast - My favorite picture

Oregon Coast

Our journey then took us to Washington.  We started in Seabrook, Washington, a town fashioned after the movie “The Truman Show”. It is an idyllic town, reminding me of Seaside, Florida.

Seabrook, Washington

Seabrook, Washington

Seabrook, Washington

Seabrook, Washington

Lynn and I briefly lived in Seattle Washington when our kids were young but never spent a full summer there. Most of you know that Seattle is miserable during the winter, autumn and spring — it rains constantly. The summer, however, is another story. So we visited the Olympic National Park then headed for Seattle for a couple of weeks. It was spectacular. We discovered a new found appreciation for Seattle’s beauty.

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Space Needle

Space Needle

Seatle

Seattle

Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier

We then journeyed to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  There we explored the city and saw Butchart Gardens — probably the most beautiful gardens we had seen. Victoria is a cool town with lots of history. We learned more about Canada than we ever did in school.

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Leaving Victoria, we headed for a 3 week trip to Vancouver, British Columbia and Whistler. Vancouver is a really cool town, probably one of the coolest towns I’ve ever visited. It is trendy, has lots of great restaurants, is a waterfront community, and has tons of biking and hiking trails. The city looks similar to Hong Kong, with high rise apartments and condos on each block. Stanley Park is an incredible park — reminds me of Central Park in New York.

Vancouver Canada

Vancouver BC Canada

Whistler Canada

Whistler BC Canada

It was also here that I started experimenting with meditation. It really helps calm the mind, I highly recommend it if you have not tried it. I also accomplished a challenging hike called “The Grind“.  It is a 2,800 foot mountain climb that is nicknamed “Nature’s StairMaster“.  I summited in just over 1.5 hours and found a new confidence by completing it.  After finishing this hike, I pledged to train for a 50-mile bike ride upon our return to Florida.

Warning: Not for Wimps!

Warning: Not for Wimps!

The final leg of our Summer trip took us to Alaska. We spent 2 weeks cruising Alaska and visiting Mount McKinley. We visited Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and then onto a land tour in Denali National Park. During this time, we visited breweries, took a helicopter ride up to mountain glacier, rode a dog sled across a glacier, and visited the iconic Glacier Bay — watching glaciers as they crashed into the sea.

Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay

Landscapes

Alaska Landscapes

Fall 2013

Returning from over 3 months of Summer travel, we made our way back to Florida.  This was mid-August and the weather was hot and humid.  There were still crowds during some weeks and some weeks were quiet.  It was a great time to catch up with our Florida friends, share dinners and play golf.

Rosemary Beach, Florida

Rosemary Beach, Florida

At the same time, I decided to begin working on my next challenge — training for a half century bike ride (50 miles).   After 6 weeks of training, I accomplished my goal and lost 1o pounds during the process. I also became passionate about bike riding and am still riding each week.

IMG_0724

Training for a Half Century

October and November were more mild with some really beautiful days. We spent weekends watching Bama kick butt in the SEC (until Auburn humbled us) and with the usual ups and downs of watching Dallas Cowboys football. Our boys came to Florida for Fall break and we spent Thanksgiving with the Miller family. My brother and his wife graciously had the entire family over for an incredible meal. Thanks Chris and Danielle!

Also during this time, I committed myself to finishing the first phase of my new software project and before we left for our next set of travels, I had accomplished that goal and blogged about it in early December.

End of 2013

We are spending December and January in Colorado with our boys. In fact, we rented a place in Fort Collins so that we can spend more time there in 2014. It is surprising how much we missed Colorado since we moved almost 2 years ago. Upon returning, we’ve been eating in our favorite restaurants, biking the Fort Collins trails and learning our way around the city. We plan to get some ski days in during January.

Our journey to Colorado started rough. We decided to leave a day early because there was a huge snow storm coming to Arkansas and Oklahoma.  On our first day, our car broke down in Birmingham, so we spent 2 days waiting for parts and getting it fixed. On the third day we made our way to Arkansas where it started sleeting. The next day was spent trudging through the snow storm, slowly making our way through Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas. White knuckle driving for a day, but we made it through the storm the next day and it was smooth sailing after that.

As I sit writing this blog, it is December 22.  The snow is falling outside, it is cold, and the boys, Lynn and I will be having dinner together tonight followed by playing board games.  What a wonderful life.

Scenic drive from Pebble Beach to the Hearst Castle

We drove the scenic highways on our way to Hearst Castle in California.  During the trip, we saw the iconic 17 mile road through Pebble Beach and Hwy 1 that runs through Big Sur.  The scenery in this area is breath-taking.  We stayed a night in Carmel but never got a sighting of Clint Eastwood – bummer!

Hwy 1

Hwy 1

This curious guy was pictured in Carmel

This curious guy was pictured in Carmel

Carmel

Carmel

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

xx

Monterey

Hwy 1

Hwy 1

Hwy 1

Hwy 1

The Hearst Castle was built by William Randolf Hearst, a newspaper icon in the early 1900’s.  The castle took 28 years to build and because he owned over 30 homes, he only stayed at it a few weeks per year.  But he spared no expense.  It is now a national park.

Hearst Castle - pool anyone?

Hearst Castle – pool anyone?

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle - large dinners

Hearst Castle – large dinners

Hearst Castle - pool anyone?

Hearst Castle – pool anyone?

This home theater was state of the art for 1938

This home theater was state of the art for 1938

Three days in San Francisco

We decided to spend three days in San Francisco because it has so much to offer.  As we drove into the town, we were taken aback by the price of gas.

Want to pay over 5 bucks a gallon?

Want to pay over 5 bucks a gallon?

On 0ur first day in San Francisco, we visited the Point Reyes National Park, we blogged about that here: https://webetripping.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/cool-lighthouse-at-point-reyes-national-park/.

On our second day, we visited the hippie area of town called Haight Ashbury.  This is where the hippie movement started and is where Jimmy Hendricks, Janice Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Hells Angels and many more groups dwelled in the 60’s.

The hippy movement

The hippie movement

Our tour guide

Our tour guide

Our tour guide

Our tour guide

We visited The Grateful Dead’s home during the 60’s.

The Grateful Dead's house

The Grateful Dead’s house

Haight

Haight

This was funny — during our walk we saw this flyer at this house.  I guess this homeowner had hit the limit with people urinating on his doorstep.

No urinating!

No urinating!

On the third day of our trip, we took a city tour and then visited Alcatraz.   Here are some pics we took along the way.

7 painted sisters - Victorian architecture

7 painted sisters – Victorian architecture

Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf

Fresh crab in Fisherman's Wharf

Fresh crab in Fisherman’s Wharf

Iconic Golden Gate Bridge

Iconic Golden Gate Bridge

Cable cars

Cable cars

Lombard Street -- curviest street in America -- we drove it!

Lombard Street — curviest street in America — we drove it!

Cable car museum

Cable car museum

China town

China town

Beautiful museum

Beautiful museum

This swam was nesting -- notice the eggs

This swam was nesting — notice the eggs

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

Mossed over roofs at Alcatraz

Mossed over roofs at Alcatraz

How would you like to stay here?

How would you like to stay here?

The wardon's home at Alcatraz

The warden’s home at Alcatraz

Driving the Sonoma Coast

The Sonoma Coast is north of San Francisco, about a 4 hour slow ride along scenic highway 1.   We began our trip at Bodega Bay — this is where Alfred Hitchcock shot the iconic film “The Birds“.  There is not much evidence that the movie was shot here but you can recognize the area.  As you can see below, the coast is beautiful.

The Sonoma Coast

The Sonoma Coast

As we drove the twisting roads along the coast, it reminded me of Maui, Hawaii.  If you have ever driven the road to Hana and kept driving past Hana to the other side of the island, it looks a lot like this.  You will see cows sunbathing and enjoying the day.

Cows on the coast

Cows on the coast

Cows on the coast

Cows on the coast

After about 4 hours, we made our way to Point Arena to see the famous Arena Lighthouse.  As you can see, the views are incredible.

Point Arena

Point Arena

Point Arena

Point Arena

Point Arena

Point Arena – Ski Jacket and Flip Flops!

Point Arena

Point Arena

Point Arena

Point Arena

Point Arena

Point Arena

As we made our way towards the Sonoma wine country, we saw a lot of really cool farms.

Cool farms

Cool farms

Cool farms

Cool farms

After an hour on a long and winding road, we made it to the Navarro winery.  This is a cool winery that has some great white and red wines.  When we got there, we were famished, so we bought some wine and cheese and had a little picnic.

Navarro Winery

Navarro Winery

Navarro Winery

Navarro Winery

Picnic at Navarro Winery

Picnic at Navarro Winery

Navarro Winery

Navarro Winery

Our final stop for the day was Yorkville Cellars, a winery that uses sheep to groom their grass and fertilize the grapes.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen sheep in a vineyard before but hey, if it works…

Sheep providing fertilizer

Sheep providing fertilizer

xx

Yorkville Cellars