Our 'COW' trip...California, Oregon & Washington travel blog

Guide dogs in training out for a ferry ride; we were heading...

A,T & T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants

McCovey Cove at the ballpark-kayakers & other boats wait for home run...

Pier 39 on the Embarcadero

View of Alcatraz, also known as "The Rock"

Inside the cellhouse at Alcatraz

Dennis inside one of the cells, maybe Al Capone slept there?

View of The City for the prisoners at Alcatraz

Alcatraz lighthouse

Riding our bikes through the Redwoods near downtown Larkspur

Cable Car at Market and California, the start of our "Real San...

Chinatown, part of the tour was a tea tasting

Banksy Guerilla Art on the side of a building

All 3 examples of Victorian homes; Stick, Mission and Queen Anne

Going into a Moroccan decor store on the tour

Streets in the Mission area are in alphabetical order, this one is...

View from Fort Mason

Public sidewalk in Russian Hill neighborhood

1930's era Diego Rivera mural at Art Institute of San Francisco, he...

Dennis and I at the base of Lombard Street

Our tour guide, Adam, was phenomenal

View of Coit Tower

Vesuvio Bar, Jack Kerouac's favorite hangout

Kaia and her uncle Elmo (Stuart Rothchild)

Kelli and Kaia at Jennifer's shower

Kaia and the bride to be, Jennifer

Entrance to Narrows Resort at Blue Lake

Morning coffee on Blue Lake

There was a heavy mist every morning on the lake

Our rig at Blue Lake...loved the place!

Elmo came along for a kayak ride, don't worry, he used Tiki's...

We stopped for lunch in a shaded cove on the lake

Paddling up to a Cormorant

The Cormorant sunning himself on a buoy

There are jumping ropes all over the lake

Wood carving at one of the other campgrounds

Paddling up to the dock at our campground

How would you like to climb up these steps to get to...

Our friends from Holland, Lars and Diane

Before I commence with our current travels, I neglected to mention an event prior to the start of this trip. I enjoyed a wonderful, but short, lunch with a few of my former colleagues at my former school, Merlinda Elementary. My awesome former 4th grade team joined me: Carol, Debbie and Tiffany. In addition, we enjoyed the company of Allison and Kathleen (sorry for calling you Karen). We reminisced and they blew off some steam about their current situation. I miss all of them but I certainly don’t miss the job of being principal!! All my best to all of you!

Our 6 days in the San Francisco area was nowhere near enough time to explore this wonderful city. We stayed at an ok campground in Larkspur, which is across the San Francisco Bay located in Marin County. If any of you have visited San Francisco (or The City, NEVER Frisco), parking is at a premium and very expensive. Thanks to our fellow RV’ers, Marty and Diane, we learned that the best way to get there is via the Larkspur Ferry. Our first foray on the ferry was to attend a Giants vs. the Milwaukee Brewers game at A, T &T park. I had purchased tickets a few weeks earlier when we were up there for an ESGR event. We were very impressed with the stadium, how the fans conducted themselves, the food and the overall atmosphere. Who wouldn’t love to attend a game when the stadium is situated along the gorgeous San Francisco Bay?

Our second trip on the ferry was to travel 1¼ mile on another boat to Alcatraz Island. Most of us know Alcatraz as federal penitentiary but this island has served as a military fort, a lighthouse and now as a National Park. It served as a federal maximum-security penitentiary from 1934 until 1962. One of the beauties of visiting Alcatraz is that you can stay as long as you like, just don’t miss the last boat back to Pier 33!! You can enjoy one of the ranger-guided tours or walk it at your own pace where you see the former PX/Officer’s Club, Power Plant, the Warden’s House and Lighthouse. The Cell House is best toured using the audio self-guided tour and is fascinating look at the history of the penitentiary, especially some of the more fascinating “customers” such as Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly and the Birdman of Alcatraz, Robert Stroud.

After our tour we ate dinner at another Triple D (Diner’s Drive-Ins and Dives) restaurant, Pier 23. It wasn’t the food that caught our eye on this one but the ambience and view. The restaurant is built on one of many piers on the Embarcadero, few that are in use today. We sat outside on the patio and enjoyed a gorgeous late afternoon dinner. The food was fabulous and we “borrowed” and I recently recreated the recipe for our cheese plate appetizer for my mom, dad and Stuart while I was in Covina for a few days (more on that later).

Another day we mainly relaxed and caught up on chores however, in the afternoon we rode our bikes into downtown Larkspur and discovered a street lined and dotted with stunning Redwood Trees. We were so amazed by the beauty of these magnificent trees that we spent an hour riding and walking the ¾ mile street.

Our last day together in The City was spent on the most interesting tour we have ever taken and if you ever get to spend time there, we recommend this tour without hesitation! We heard about it from a couple we chatted with at the Paraiso Winery during the first few days of our trip. I will never be able to do it justice but here it goes….the name of it is “The Real San Francisco Tour” and it is a walking (over 6 miles to include stairs, steep hills and even Lombard Street) and public transportation tour of the things only a local would know about. They describe their tour as part urban adventure, part urban trek and it lived it up to all of the above and more! We visited just about every section of San Francisco; the Financial District, North Beach, Hayes Valley, Mission, Castro, Pacific Heights and Chinatown. We saw where one of the original fortune cookie factories is still producing their product (sorry, no pix of that one, they wouldn’t allow it), admired a Diego Rivera Mural at the Art Institute, saw Jack Kerouac’s favorite local drinking establishment, discovered (via our tour guide) guerilla and street art, secret stairways and even a real pirate shop. There was so much to see and we plan to spend a few weeks in the area in the very near future just to revisit all we saw on that tour.

On the 28th of July I flew home to attend the bridal shower of a young lady, Jennifer Herfert, who is getting married September 24th of this year. Jen is best friends with our daughter, Kelli and she used to spend a LOT of time at our house when the girls were growing up. Kelli worked very hard at putting together a memorable shower for Jen and she certainly accomplished that and more! It was a beautiful event and I am so glad I was able to attend. I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked with my parent and “Uncle Stuie” but what little time I had was well worth the trip, too. I flew back to San Francisco on the 31st, Dennis picked me up and off we went onto our next adventure.

We just finished 3 glorious days at Blue Lake, which is about a half an hour east of Ukiah, which is 120 miles north of San Francisco. We vowed to come here after seeing it in our travels last year on our way to the California/Oregon border. Blue Lake is a spring-fed lake with about 3 miles of shoreline. Our campground, Narrows Resort, is a throwback to 1950’s camping. Most of the campers have been coming here every summer for 15 or more years. It has a very rustic feel but it is very family friendly, with kids, animals and adults hanging out on the shoreline from sunrise to well past sunset. We kayaked the lake many times and even picked up groceries in our kayak from a general store at another campground across the lake. We were lucky enough to see a bald eagle flying during one of our kayak ventures and we also eyed herons, osprey and mink swimming in the water. Unfortunately they are converting the Narrows to a private, lease only establishment next year. We also met a very nice couple from Holland, Lars and Diane, who were finishing up a month long tent camping trip from the East to West Coast. We spent two nights over a few glasses of wine talking about American and European cultural differences, similarities and the affect of American culture on the youth over there. We really enjoyed their company and we hope to run into them next year when they return to the U.S. Just an FYI for RV’ing friends, if you ever venture to Blue Lake be advised that the road in and out is considered a 2 lane road by the county, but it’s not even close…think of 3 miles of my parents driveway!! If you want to go, call us for navigation directions.

We are on our way to Fortuna, California for a few days before Dennis experiences Oregon and Washington for the first time….all our best!!

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