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Old 07-22-2019, 12:00 PM   #11
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NorCal 2019 adventure, week 2 continued

We packed up at Laguna Seca, including changing a flat on my bike I had gotten during my death march at French Meadows. Once again fully loaded, we drove about 4 miles to Fort Ord National Monument - Badger Hills Trailhead, where I unloaded my bike and went for a ride. I spent about 2 hours riding and had a great ride once I found some of the singletrack at Ord. It was fun, but there was plenty of poison oak to watch out for.

Returning from the ride, I loaded my bike, ate lunch, did a quick sponge-batch in the van sink and got back on the road. We headed north and by late afternoon arrived at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Vacancies were limited, but we managed to grab a spot at Sempervirens Campground. Being among the towering Redwoods in a unique experience and we were somewhat in awe of these ancient giants.

By now, my daughter and I were operating as a well-oiled machine with regards to our camping setup and takedown. We swung into to action as it was getting a bit late and we wanted get setup and eat dinner right away. We had noticed a group of about 6-7 young people next door to us as we pulled in. They looked on with a bit of amazement as they observed us quickly getting setup for the evening. We later learned most of them were first-time campers and they were impressed with our rig and expedition when I shared details of our trip thus far. It was a nice campground, very scenic, but full and busy with campers for the summer season.
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Old 07-22-2019, 12:28 PM   #12
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The next morning we loaded up and left Big Basin Redwoods State Park with our final destination unknown once again. We were headed generally north and the drive out of the park proved both scenic and challenging on the narrow winding road. We decided to head towards San Francisco and see a little bit of the city. We were planning to hit Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, which was the one destination my daughter had requested we visit for this trip.

The drive to San Francisco was interesting and along the way we encountered first some heavy misting, then fog, then the first real rain we had seen on our trip. We arrived in the city in overcast cool condition and drove to the beach adjacent to Golden Gate Park to get our bearings. We opted to drive to the Golden Gate Bridge for a sightseeing visit. We found a near Battery East in the Presidio and walked over to the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center. By this time, the morning overcast had turned to a lovely sunny day. The Golden Gate was awesome and scenic and we enjoyed walking out onto the bridge and taking lots of pictures.

As it was getting to be late afternoon, we needed to find camping for the evening. We wanted to be in striking distance to Six Flags for the next day, but also close to San Francisco. We consulted iOverlander and found tow spots very near. The first was a rest area just across the north end of the bridge. We stopped and of course it was... just a rest area. This didn't seem ideal so we checked the other nearby spot which iOverlander referred to as "Pier warf(sp) at Golden Gate view". Here we decided to spend the night. It was a lovely spot on the water with breathtaking views of the Golden Gate. There was small Coast Guard facility, The Presidio Yacht Club and plenty of parking. We were a bit worried about getting rousted during the night, despite a the presence of a few other rigs that appeared to be camping too. We opted for our most stealthy mode, leaving the top down, and putting nothing outside the van. It turned out fine and we spent an enjoyable night in the Shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge.
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Old 07-22-2019, 12:55 PM   #13
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The next morning we were up early, and with little pack up from the previous night's stealth camping got quickly underway. This was the day my daughter Trinity had awaited for the whole trip, our visit to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom! We made the drive to Vallejo in under an hour, grabbed a fast-food breakfast from a nearby Carl's Junior, fueled up the van and drove across the street to Six Flags. Trinity has the "thrill-ride gene" and really love going on rides. Even from a young age, she exhibited no fear in riding the biggest, scariest coasters and amusement park rides we encountered. She was definitely in her element here and proceeded to ride all the big rides multiple times. I don't share that enthusiasm, but I joined her on a few of the tamer rides and had fun just watching her have fun.

Before taking a break at about 4 pm we went on the two water rides, first Monsoon Falls then White Water Safari, a total of three times for me and four times for her. We planned this knowing we'd be soaked, and thus dripping wet, we headed out to the parking lot and changed into dry clothes in the van and had a late lunch. Not content to be done just yet, we returned to the park, where Trinity got another couple hours of riding the biggest rides again.

As we left Six Flags, I could tell she was content with the day's activity. We were still in need of a place to stay for the evening. We had ID'd a couple possibilities and were sitting at the freeway on ramp waiting for the light when Trinity mentioned the nearby Solano County Fairgrounds. I literally pulled a U-turn and headed for the Fairgrounds across the street from six flags. Meanwhile, Trinity dialed the Fairgrounds Reservation line and got... a voice message stating they closed at 6:00 p.m. Since it was after 8, I suggested we just drive around and see if we could find the RV lot, which we proceeded to do. We found it back of the main fairgrounds complex, adjacent to an empty field and not far from the I80 freeway. The place was completely deserted, including the RV camping area and rather eerie in it's emptiness. Nevertheless, it seemed like it would work, so we proceeded to grab a spot and setup for the evening. It even had hookups, a rare option for us camping, so we plugged in and spent the night. We found the nearby restrooms required a code to open, but a wandering a bit further found another unlocked restroom deeper in the fairgrounds complex. Did I mention this place was creepy? There's something very odd about being in a place like this alone, at night!

It was fine and we woke the next morning to find maintenance personnel onsite, but no one paid us any mind. We broke down and got on the road.
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Old 07-22-2019, 01:16 PM   #14
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We departed the Solano County Fairgrounds and headed north to Trione-Annadel State Park. I knew there was some good riding there since my wife Karen and I had taken a trip in 2006 sans kids that included a stop and mountain biking at that location. I'll mention briefly that I lost Karen in 2014 to breast cancer, and F**K cancer, by the way. We enjoyed many trips as a family in our camper van and it was with these thoughts on my mind that I stopped and rode at Annadel. Karen is never far from my heart and mind and I know she would have loved this trip had she been along. I felt like this ride was a fitting tribute to her.

Returning from the ride I got loaded up and hit the road again. Tonight's destination would end up being Van Damme State Park, a lovely spot on the coast south of Mendocino. In addition to the scenic beach vistas at Van Damme State Park where the Little River meets the sea, the campground had showers! Since showering had been rare accommodation this trip it was a welcome respite to enjoy. I had to explain to Trinity why I kept saying "Van Damme State Park" in my best Belgian accent!
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Old 07-22-2019, 01:47 PM   #15
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It was Friday and we were on the home stretch of our trip. It was sad to see our adventure coming to an end, but we had had a lot of fun experiences and seen some great sights while covering a lot of territory! For our final night in California, we headed first towards Eureka. We stopped in a local bike and sport shop and spoke to an employee who was very knowledgeable about the local scene. We opted to continue on towards Crescent City and head for Jedediah Smith State Park. Arriving there in the late afternoon, we were disappointed to find the campground full for the evening. The person working at the front gate suggested nearby Florence Keller County Park & Campground which we proceed to.

We were happy to find vacancy and grabbed lucky #13 for the night. The campground seemed OK, but had a fair bit of litter in the site and a dank, dirty restroom area. I have a history with county campgrounds, I don't know why, but most that I've stayed at have a sketchy vibe in one way or another. I mentioned this to Trinity, but didn't worry over much about it. We had a nice evening, bought firewood for the low price of $5(!)and had one of the few campfires we'd indulged in on the trip. Trinity finally got the chance to toast marshmallows and make s'mores and we enjoyed our evening in camp.

We turned in late and it was after midnight before light's out. The next morning I awoke and noticed that the tarp I had thrown over the racked bikes was pulled up. I joked that someone had tried to steal our bikes, but was only kidding. Later I went o change another flat ti0er I had noticed since I was planning to ride again that day. This was when I realized that a thief really had tried to get the bikes! I was astonished and dismayed by this brazen attempt at theft that had taken place overnight about two feet from where I lay asleep! I felt angry and violated, but relieved that the attempted theft had failed. They had managed to cut about halfway through the security cable that was integrated into my Yakima rack, but perhaps I rolled over and scared them off, or the cable proved too difficult to cut. I informed the camp host who told me his kid's minibike had been stolen from camp the prior week, and that thefts had been increasing throughout the campground since the fourth of July! Furthermore, he said the Sherriff's office had done nothing about it. Lovely.

We finished our pack up and quickly left this shithole behind. I had identified nearby Little Bald Hills trail as a likely ride, so we drove over there and I went for my final mountain bike ride of the trip. It was fun and challenging with a big climb on the Paradise trail to gain access to the Little Bald Hills trail where a lesser climb continued along the ridge with scenic views of the Smith River below. Once the Little Bald Hills trail began to go downhill, I turned around and enjoyed a thrilling downhill myself back to the place I had started.

With my ride over, I ate a bit of lunch, loaded the bike and headed for Oregon.
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Old 07-22-2019, 01:57 PM   #16
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When we left Florence Kelly County Park, I texted my cousin in Grants Pass and asked him if we could driveway surf at his place for the night. When I got back in cell range after my ride, I was pleased to see that he had responded affirmatively.

We let him know we were on our way and continued the drive to Grants Pass, OR, or, as I referred to it as a kid, "Grass Pants Orygreen". We hit the relatively new to Grants Pass In & Out Burger for dinner then proceeded to cousin Don's for the evening. We had a nice visit and a relaxing night in his driveway.

The next morning we met up with Don's Dad, my 83-year old Uncle and retired pharmacist, Bill. Apparently he eats breakfast every Saturday with his posse at a local diner. It was fun to get to see him and meet a few of his pals.

Alas, we needed to hit the road. I had been riding a rental mountain bike (another story there) for the trip and needed to return it to Otto's Ski and Mountain Bike shop in Sandy, Oregon before 6:00 p.m. We got underway for the final drive of the trip and made it to Otto's with time to spare.

We were home by about 4:00 p.m. with lots of memories, lots of miles, lots of smiles and much satisfaction with a wonderful adventure.
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Old 07-22-2019, 02:38 PM   #17
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Great trip report! Live in NorCal, have a son-in-law who works in Elk Grove, used to live in Davis (just down the road from Woodland), have been to most of the places you mentioned. Lots to see in the area, standing by for the next installment!
Thanks Fitz! Week 2 is posted.
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Old 07-22-2019, 04:04 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by YoTerryh View Post
....with lots of memories, lots of miles, lots of smiles and much satisfaction with a wonderful adventure.
It was a great recap - enjoyed the Pic's as well. No doubt you had a good time, and I can say with certainty your daughter has memories she will relive the rest of her life. These are the kinds of experiences that bring smiles each and every time they're recalled! Hell, I was smiling throughout this thread.
Glad you both had this opportunity.
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Old 07-22-2019, 04:23 PM   #19
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Yeah, plus 1. Great trip and lifetime memories. Just what having a van is about.
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Old 07-22-2019, 04:42 PM   #20
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It was a great recap - enjoyed the Pic's as well. No doubt you had a good time, and I can say with certainty your daughter has memories she will relive the rest of her life. These are the kinds of experiences that bring smiles each and every time they're recalled! Hell, I was smiling throughout this thread.
Glad you both had this opportunity.
Glad you enjoyed it, Twoxentrix. I know the forum is a receptive audience for this type of report, and I really appreciate the feedback.
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