Sunday, July 30, 2017

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Having decided that a Portland visit wasn't in the books for us, we chose to head closer to the coast for some cooler temperatures and slowly make our way back home. Big Basin Redwoods State Park is California's oldest state park covering more than 18,000 acres and ranging from sea level to more than 2,000 feet of elevation. The biggest attraction being the awe-inspiring ancient coast redwoods, some measuring over 300 feet tall and 50 feet in circumference. It is estimated their age range is between 1,000 - 2,500 years old!

The first thing I should mention if anyone would like to stay here is to make a reservation. Being a weekday there were 5 available spots to camp but you have to put your name on a list and then you have to wait till 5pm till they are officially available. This inconvenience wasn't too much of an issue as we took the opportunity to discover some of this vast and beautiful park.

After some lunch and a few hour's exploration, we set up our site for the evening.
The temperatures were perfect for sleeping but Brooke wasn't feeling well so she got to spend the night downstairs with mom (Catherine is under there somewhere too!)
It was very refreshing to have an open schedule with this trip so we decided to spend one more day at the park to enjoy a more detailed tour of the redwoods. I woke up early to add my name to the list for another night and was able to enjoy one of the many beautiful paths.

How would you like to watch a show at this theatre?
The park offered several trails and paths but with two kids in tow, we chose the Redwood Trail which was the easiest but at the same time was beautiful and informative. If you're up for learning some interesting and amazing facts about some of the longest living organisms in the world - please read on!
The durability of coast redwoods is truly remarkable as they can survive almost all that nature can throw at them including fire! This tree is called The Chimney Tree because it has survived many fires over the years.
It is theorized that several successive fires over the years ignited the tree's heartwood creating a perfect chimney causing it to be entirely hollow from base to top. Here is a picture looking straight up.
There are many examples of these giants that had fallen over the years which provided a great place for Brooke to climb.
This grand old tree is called the Father of the Forest and is estimated to be over 1,800 years old with a height of over 250 feet and a circumference of almost 67 feet at the base.

Next up is the Mother of the Forest which was once 329 feet tall but the top broke off in a storm reducing it's height to a measly 293 feet.
 This great redwood fell in 1983 exposing it's massive root structure.
With our day of exploration complete is was time to cook our dinner and head to sleep.
These redwood trees stole the show over showing shots of our Vanagon but here is a short clip of our drive through the forest after packing up to leave.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park definitely ranks up there as one of our favourites that we would love to visit again (with reservations). Although it was sad leaving, we were excited to stop at our next episode of adventure.

Friday, July 28, 2017


We have stayed at large RV campgrounds before but try to avoid them for several reasons, one of the main reasons being higher costs. Once again, I discovered this campground (resort) using the Park Advisor app. Located in California's Central Valley along the meandering byways of the California Delta, Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park offered a great place for us to spend the next 3 days of our journey. At $75 per night, it was the most expensive campsite we have been to but the amenities and fun we all had more than made up for it. We were given a site with lots of shade which was a definite reprieve from the 100 degree temperatures.

The main reason we decided to stay 3 days was due to the beautiful water park area that we couldn't get Brooke to leave. It was a perfect and safe area for her to play and us to watch and cool off as well.
Everyone was able to enjoy the waterslide too!
Another excellent feature of this park was the opportunity to meet Yogi and friends!

Even Catherine had a good time.

Jellystone park was just as much fun as a Great Wolf Lodge but way less expensive which made it well worth the price.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Success Lake.

Our van has been out of commission for several months getting an improved new engine and transmission including other upgrades and replacements so when we finally got it back up and running we had to take it out on a journey. Even though it still required some "fine tuning", the new engine was running fairly strong and was shifting like a dream. Our original plan was to travel 200 miles per day and take 5 days to get to Portland Oregon. After two days of driving we realized that with no air conditioning combined with 100 degree heat, a toddler and a 2 month old, we wouldn't be carrying on to Portland. Here is a picture of or first fuel stop with my hot wife (literally and figuratively).
Google estimates about 3 hours to drive to Lake Success which turned out to be closer to 6 hours when you include our leisurely driving pace and stops for fuel and food. For this trip we used the Park Advisor app (highly recommended and free!) to discover this campground that is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. We were pleasantly surprised with the proximity and views of the lake, clean bathrooms/showers, large sites with shaded picnic tables, and it was only $20 per night.

We left home at 10am but due to the above mentioned delays, we didn't arrive till 4pm which left us with little time to enjoy this campground. Here is a shot of the beautiful sunset, Brooke's chalk art, and the lake as we left.

Overall it was a success at Lake Success and we would like to visit again when we can stay for a longer period.