Days 6-8: Quinn Epic Oregon Adventure

You’ve already read about the first 5 days of our trip down the I-5 to San Francisco and starting our voyage back north towards the Oregon Coast (and if you haven’t, you should now!). We left off in Sonoma, one of my newly found favorite places ever! If you want to take a gander at my photos for Days 5-8 and more stories, please visit my Days 5-8 Facebook album.

Foggy morning in Sonoma - from

A foggy morning at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in Sonoma.

Campsite deer in Sonoma  - from

Deer next to our campsite at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.

Day 6: We woke up in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, to find a quiet fog settled down over the meadow and deer right next to our camper. It’s worth mentioning that the washroom and shower facilities at this campground are great too – very clean and comfortable. After I showered, I came outside to see wild turkeys running across the campground! We took some time for a short hike around the park and saw lizards on rocks and trees too.

Hiking the hills - from

Hiking in the hills at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.

Eventually we ventured back down the mountain to visit some of the wineries that Sonoma is known for. We had lunch on the patio of B.R. Cohn winery, and I’ll be the first to admit that it gets a little fuzzy after this ;). They pour a lot more generously in the US than in Canada, and my husband was driving. Here’s a list of wineries we visited:

It doesn’t seem like a lot looking at it, but it took quite awhile. Back in Sonoma, we hit up the Sonoma Cheese Factory too for wine and cheese samples. We were going to try another campsite, but after taking a wrong turn, went back for another peaceful night at Sugarloaf Ridge instead.

B.R. Cohn Winery patio in Sonoma - from

B.R. Cohn Winery patio in Sonoma.

Day 7: After sadly saying our goodbyes to Sonoma, we headed northwest through the Redwoods National Park and hugged some GIANT trees!

Redwoods National Park - from

Redwoods National Park

In northern California, we went through a town called Eureka – have you been there? Don’t. Avoid it. I could be wrong, maybe the highway just runs through the worst of it, but it was the most depressing, downtrodden town I’ve ever seen, leaving us feeling a bit… blue. But about 15 minutes out of Eureka, we turned a corner and BOOM! Our first sighting of a beautiful white-sand beach! We took a quick scamper across the sand, then headed on.

Northern California beach - from

Our first beautiful beach encounter in northern California.

We wanted to stay at Patrick’s Point State Park in Trinidad, CA, but unfortunately, it was the Friday night of the Labour Day long weekend and by the time we got there, it was full. We ended up staying at Sounds of the Sea RV Park, five minutes down the road, which was your typical “line ’em up” RV park, where everyone disappeared at 8pm to watch cable TV in their giant RVs. But we did hear sea lions when we woke up which was cool. It was a couple mile walk to the beach back at Patrick’s Point, so we did that and scrambled down a steep cliff-side trail to the beach to take in the sunset.

Heading to the beach at Patrick's Point State Park - from

Heading to the beach at Patrick’s Point State Park.

Amazing ocean views at Patrick's Point State Park - from

Amazing ocean views at Patrick’s Point State Park.

Day 8: We woke up to such thick fog that our camping chairs, which we left outside overnight were soaking wet. You could literally see the moisture in the air. After a soggy breakfast, we hightailed it out of there in pursuit of more sunshine. We drove straight to our next destination, across the border into Oregon, and to Cape Blanco State Park, which is at the tip of a peninsula with a lighthouse overlooking a great beach and stunning ocean views. We took a long walk on a completely deserted beach. Why are there no people in these amazing places!? It was breathtaking. Some friends from Vancouver met us at the campsite to spend a few days with us; we shared some food, good wine and lively stories.

The lighthouse at Cape Blanco State Park - from

The lighthouse at Cape Blanco State Park.

A beautiful deserted beach at Cape Blanco State Park - from

A beautiful deserted beach at Cape Blanco State Park.

Stay tuned for Days 9-14… (we’ll be going to the Dunes!) :)

Days 1-5: Quinn Epic Oregon Adventure

My husband and I booked two weeks off at the end of August and took our first real vacation in awhile. We bought a new camper (a pop-up four wheel drive camper) and decided to drive down the I-5 to San Francisco and then up the Oregon Coast.

Quinn Epic Adventure

Quinn Epic Adventure 2013

I had intended to blog about our adventure on the way, but that quickly fell to the wayside, losing out over taking the extra time to kick back and relax instead. Can you blame me? As much as I love blogging, everyone needs a vacation from everything once in awhile. Now that I’m reflecting on our trip, I thought I’d just write a small synopsis of each day for you here, in three parts, highlighting some of our favorite places and the campgrounds we stayed in.

Feel free to visit my Days 1-5 Facebook album for more pictures and stories of the first leg!

Day 1: We drove from Prince George to Vancouver, brimming with excitement to pick up our new camper before the day was up. We spent the night with some friends, in our last “real” bed for awhile!

Day 2: We left Vancouver, anticipating a fairly long wait at the border crossing. It did take over an hour, but luckily we were waved through with minimal questions. The highlight of this day (mostly for my husband) was visiting Bruce Lee’s grave in Seattle. Finding a campsite near cities was definitely the most challenging part of our trip, and this first night was the worst. We had dinner at an Applebee’s in Federal Way, WA, as darkness was coming on quickly and finally found a campsite on our iphone map. We pulled up five minutes after the gate closed, but being the rebels we are, we sneaked through (as stealthily as we could with a truck and camper) the other side of the road and found an empty spot. I have no idea what this place was called and we left really early, but it seemed nice!

Deschutes beer sampler

Sampling the beer at Deschutes Brewery in Portland.

Day 3: We visited Portland, home of the American microbreweries, and we didn’t miss this chance to test some of their product! We wandered around a bit, enjoying the free wifi on nearly every street corner. That night we stayed at Sunny Valley RV Park, a little over an hour north of the California border. Even thought the campground was right next to the freeway, it was down a bit of a hill, so pretty quiet, and very pretty. Not exactly roughing it though with wifi, full hookups, showers and a even a pool, but very nice after spending so much time driving!

Our camper

Our setup at Sunny Valley RV Park

Day 4: We drove and drove and drove, and finally approached San Francisco. We wanted to stay somewhere before entering the city, but again, ran into the problem of finding campgrounds near the city. We thought there was one just before it, but taking a wrong turn, ended up in a… let’s just say, less than savoury neighbourhood (oops!). We drove through the city, unfortunately right at rush hour, and quickly reconfirmed that we’re not big city folks! Loved our first Golden Gate Bridge experience though and ended up staying at the huge KOA Campground about 45 minutes north of SF, in Petaluma. A quick dip in their pool followed by a toasty warm campfire put us at ease again.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Day 5: We ventured back into San Francisco, found some parking, and spent the next few hours wandering on Fisherman’s Wharf, taking a cable car up, up, up the big hills and exploring Chinatown. After eating warm steam buns, fresh crab and lobster, and taking in the stunning views of Alcatraz, we’d had enough of the craziness of city life and driving through the fog once more, turned towards Sonoma.

Seafood in San Francisco

Crab rolls and lobster on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco

Riding the cable car in San Francisco.

Riding the cable car in San Francisco.

We didn’t arrive in Sonoma until about 5pm and we were both instantly transfixed by the quiet calm of the small town. City Hall sat in the middle of town, surrounded by a park and then shops on the streets around it. Sonoma was a place where people actually read books in the park and sipped wine in bakery cafes. We went straight to the wine shop for our first tasting, got free bread in a bakery (as it was closing) and then I totally geeked out in my first Whole Foods experience. What an amazing grocery store! After leaving the crazy busy heat of SF we fell in love with Sonoma. We drove our way through the hills to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, and oh, the tranquility! Deer were grazing in the meadow in the middle of the campground, and it was just sooo quiet. The perfect place to wind down.

Sonoma bakery

Bread and wine at the bakery in Sonoma.

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

The sun setting at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.

Stay tuned for Days 6-8 coming soon… :)

Barkerville: 24 hours in an historic ghost town

Wine at Barkerville -

For my birthday this year (which conveniently fell on the BC Day long weekend), I wanted to do something different and special. After searching high and low for interesting options – something not too far away, different and not too pricey – I called the St. George Hotel Bed and Breakfast in Barkerville to see if they had any rooms (three days before the weekend – hah!). I was in luck – they’d just had a cancellation for Sunday night and I jumped on it. Barkerville it was.

Barkerville is an historic town about an hour east of Quesnel and two and a half hours southeast of Prince George. In the mid-1800s, it was a major settlement during the Cariboo Gold Rush. Now, it’s a thriving tourist attraction that features guided tours, functioning businesses and fun for the whole family.

Barkerville -

We arrived in Barkerville early in the afternoon and had lunch at Wake Up Jake before checking in. The St. George Hotel is located in the middle of the main street and decorated to its day, quaint, cozy and full of antiques. We were lucky to snag one of the rooms at the back of the house with a private bathroom (some of the rooms share a bathroom). Our room was beautiful, with its canopy bed and antique furniture.

St. George Hotel bedroom-

We spent the afternoon exploring the buildings in the town site (there are over 100!), which are frozen in time as if the old inhabitants still live there. Homes and stores are intricately arranged with remnants of the day, and it’s easy to lose some time peering in through the windows and doors, imagining what life must have been like. Throughout the day there are seemingly impromptu (but scheduled) enactments of conversations in the streets by actors as townspeople, who spend the day wandering around. This is pretty entertaining as long as you’re in the right place at the right time. We also walked the half hour trek up to the Richfield Courthouse to watch Judge Begbie deliver some justice. And no trip to Barkerville would be complete without actually panning for some gold, which we did in the troughs outside the gift shop, coming away with four gold flakes each.

Barkerville actor -

Gold panning at Barkerville -

Barkerville even has its own Chinatown, now one of Canada’s oldest. There are some great buildings in this area, including a museum and several art and gift shops, and a fantastic Chinese food restaurant called Lung Duck Tong. This is where we had our dinner, and where I enjoyed some of the best chow mein I’ve ever had. I hear the hot boxes are amazing too.

Barkerville's Chinatown -

As everything closes down in Barkerville around 6pm, we had the whole evening to entertain ourselves. Our B&B had a second floor balcony, so we decided to lounge up there and enjoy a bottle of wine we’d brought to celebrate my birthday. This was definitely one of my favorite moments of the trip – sitting up there, people watching. It had been pretty busy in the afternoon, but as we watched the people slowly filter down the street and out of the town, a very peaceful quiet came over everything.

Darkness settling on Barkerville -

When darkness fell, we took a stroll through the deserted streets, and I must say I stayed glued to my husband’s arm, positive that ghosts would come drifting out of every dark shadow. Luckily our only company was the town cat that apparently everyone collectively looks after, and who followed us around as if protecting us from whatever lurked beyond the light.

The next morning, we headed downstairs for breakfast. I had ordered the pancakes with apple compote (delicious!) while others joining us at the communal table had giant omelets. Knowing it was my birthday today, the proprietress, Saya, came out of the kitchen with fresh muffins with a candle in the middle and everyone sang happy birthday. Quite the hospitality, for sure!

Birthday muffins -

Afterwards, we had our photos done at Louis Blanc Photographic Gallery, where we got to dress up – I chose to be a saloon girl, and my husband a miner – and take home an old-fashioned framed photograph (for a charge). Our final activities of the day were to take in some “shows.” The town tour was guided by two “locals,” both full of humor and entertainment, who described some of the buildings and experiences of the mining town era. We also watched the Cornish Water Wheel show, which featured some very colourful characters – both educational and hilarious, I thought, especially when they included some of the audience in the show.

Water wheel show actor -

As our 24 hours in Barkerville came to a close, it occurred to me that while we didn’t actually see any ghosts, they were all around – in the history and the spirit of the town. We visited the old cemetery on our way out, taking in some of the old tombstones and paying our respects. Then we said goodbye to the unseen ghosts and made our way home.

Barkerville cemetery -

Prince George’s cabin country at Cluculz Lake

Ontario may have its Cottage Country and Great Lakes, but BC has cabin country and great lakes! Cluculz Lake, about 45 minutes west of Prince George, near the small town of Vanderhoof, is definitely one of those great cabin country lakes.

Read the rest of this post on the Explore BC blog…

Cluculz Lake post on Explore BC