West Coast Drive

This drive is just part of a longer journey. We decided to drive from our home in Southern Alberta to San Diego where we join Holland America for a 30 day Hawaii / Polynesia cruise. The Cruise portion of the trip can be found – 2012 Hawaii / Polynesia Cruise.

And We’re Off



We are looking forward to leaving Nov 15 for our drive to southern California and San Diego. We plan to drive along the coastline from Portland all the way, stopping in San Francisco our way.

We will have internet access for our first week and will post our journey.  Nov 23 we will board the Statendam for a 28 day cruise to Hawaii and the Polynesian Islands, returning to San Diego Dec 21.  I will post whenever I can find WiFi.  The on board Internet is .75 cents a minute so I’ll pass given most posts take an hour or more by the time I insert photos.

Dec 21 we will drive directly to Vancouver to spend Christmas with family then home Dec 28. Happy Holidays to all our friends and family.

Coalhurst to Pasco WA Nov 15, 2012

heading west on highway 3

We left the house this morning on time, despite spilling a full cup of coffee over the table, chair and nearly missing the lap top.  Washing floors and chairs was NOT on the “to do” list this morning.   I got into a bit of a flap and that is my excuse for forgetting the binoculars and umbrellas at home. From the weather forecast, we will miss those umbrellas tomorrow as we hit the coast and the rain. 

We went through customs at the Kingsgate Crossing.  There was no one there but us and they gave us the full meal deal.  We had to pull over and had the full inspection.  We had to give them the car keys and passports, while they pulled the luggage out and opened to inspect it and then wanted to know what was in the large boxes.  We are bringing some heirloom china to San Diego for a friend who wants his daugther to have them.  We weren’t sure if we could do this, but I told the truth and all went well…but holy smokes did we get the third degree.  I got the distinct impression they thought we were nuts for driving to San Diego when one can catch a plane and be there in a few hours….and surely not something a sane person would do.  I guess they don’t understand the journey is the experience! 

We stopped for a quick gas fill just outside of Sandpoint and journeyed on to Coure D’Laine , Idaho for lunch.

Mountain west of Crowsnest Pass

Shortly after Spokane we turned and head south to our evening destination of Pasco WA.  The navigation system worked very well and we got to our hotel quite easily.  The landscape surely changed from earlier in the day going from scenic mountains to almost barren wasteland by Moses Lake. 

After settling into the room and deciding on our destination for tomorrow we decided to go for dinner.  We found a place caled “Cousins” and the on line menu looked great so we opted for the 8 mile drive.  I ordered the pot roast dinner and quickly sent it back.  Luke warm food lolling in the vegetable water, congealed gravy and tasteless beef.  Fortunately the accompanying soup and bread were edible.

end of daylight ( 345 pm) in the middle of no where near Moses Lake WA

 I did send it back and the manager offered anything I would like complementary of course…so having partially filled up with bread and soup, I went for the bread pudding.  It was a good thing there wasn’t a pattern on the plate as it might have been gone as well!  All in all I did have a nice dinner…even if it was mostly dessert! 

Tomorrow we will have a shorter drive to Newport Oregon where our hotel room will have an ocean/beachfront view.  Now if only mother nature will cooperate and keep the rain drops to a minimum.  At least it will be well above freezing, so no icy roads to contend with.

Pasco Washington to Newport Oregon Nov 16,2012

Driving along the Columbia River

Our day started very well.  The Best Western Pasco Inn has beyond a doubt the best complimentary breakfast of any hotel we’ve stayed in…and remember in just over a year that amounts to 40+ nights.  The pastries were light and fresh, the coffee wonderful and you could have eggs any style made just the way you want them.  The hot food was hot and the cold food cold.

The weather was over cast all day with occasional mist and occasional light rain, but for the most part just cloudy.  When passing near Mount Hood, the clouds were thick and obstructed any view of the mountain. 

Great scenery for our drive today

In two days we’ve changed seasons, going from winter to late fall.  Some of the maple trees are still red and the lawns and golf courses are a lush green.

For most of our travels today we skirted the Columbia River and the scenery was great.  We were surprized to see the number of campers and people fishing. We saw two dams along the way, the John Day Dam and the Dalles Dam.  I’m not sure how the salmon get arond those dams.  I’m sure they have fish ladders but I didn’t see any. 

View of Agate Beach from the back of the hotel

We drove south through Salem and then turned west to catch the Coastal Highway 101.  The temperatures climbed to 15+ C and despite the wind coming off the Pacific, it felt warm.  We hit the coast at Lincoln City then continued on 101 to our hotel in Newport.  We are staying at the Best Western at Agate Beach.  What a wild area.  We can see the beach and ocean from our upgraded ocean view room.  I think they hotel is very quiet and we were given a large corner room with a view to die for.  It faces along the beach and the lighthouse at Yaquina Bay is visible from our room.

Beach in front of the hotel with Yaquina Bay Lighthouse off in the distance.

Shortly after settling into our room, we went for a short walk along the beach.  There are several people walking their dogs and older kids just goofing off.  I can only imagine how delightful this place must be in summer.  This is a wild area of beach with rogue waves and people are warned to never take their eyes off the water.  If it wasn’t so cool, I’d be tempted to leave the sliding doors open so I could fall asleep to the sound of the waves.  Guess I’ll just leave that until we go to Mexico in February.

This hotel has a bar and grill, so our dinner tonight consisted of pub grub.  We’re heading for Eureka tomorrow, then on to San Francisco they day after.  We are hoping to spend a

Sign of the day

1/2 day Sunday touring around and also most of the day Monday.  Tuesday we will head south along the coast for a bit and hope to land in San Diego mid day Wed.  That will give us a day and a half to tour that area, but given Thursday is Thanksgiving, we’re not sure what we will find open.

Newport Oregon to Eureka California Nov 17, 2012

Wild Water on the Oregon Coast

When we left the hotel this morning it was overcast.  We drove up the road about 20 blocks to the Newport Cafe.  Brian found this little gem in the phone book and it definitely is a favorite of the locals.  It has about 10 tables but the three large tables in the middle of the room all had a “Reserved” sign on them.  Not sure who they were reserved for, as they remained empty the whole time we were there. We were quickly waited on by the bubbly

Cook’s Chasm

waitress who brought us both, steaming hot and very delicious coffee. We ordered the one egg seniors breakfast.  For $5 we got an egg, two pieces of hand cut crispy bacon, a plate full of nicely fried hash browns and toast.  In addition to the food we were treated to local entertainment.  All the men in the cafe were older, white hair, beards and jeans…two wore faded large bib jeans…which we have seen several times today.  Maybe it’s the local uniform. The entertainment consisted mostly of one man’s recent entry to home ownership.  He kept saying he bought the house from a “friend” but I’m not sure they really were.  It seems the house is in disrepair and the back half is rotting away.  The man

Oregon Dunes National Rec Area

went on to describe the interior of the home and it sounds like the previous owner was a hoarder and a bit of an odd duck as apparently, he “hand fed” the rats in the house.  Made for great eating conversation! You can check out the cafe at www.thenewportcafe.com

 As we left the cafe the rain started and by the time we got to the gas station two blocks away it was pouring hard.  The gas station looked in pretty rough shape but it has a gas attendant who jumped to the pump and filled er up for us…so he got wet..we stayed warm and dry.  Haven’t had service like that is a very long time!  To boot the gas was 2 cents cheaper than across the street.

The rain and low clouds did dull the views but with virtually no traffic, the scenery was great.  As we drove along we noticed a couple picking mushrooms at the side of the road. We have also seen several hitch hikers.  They had to be some kind of crazy!

I hate to keep going on about where we ate, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Double D’s Cafe in Gold Beach.  As we has a larger than usual breakfast, we really only

Oregon Dunes Overlook by Gardiner

wanted a hot bowl of soup for lunch. Whenever possible we like to try out where the locals go, and I would say the Double D Cafe fits that description.  Their soup special was Navy Bean and Ham soup so we each ordered a large bowl.  The bowls were huge and the soup was hot.  I’d say we got 2 cups of soup in one bowl and it was full of beans…I couldn’t finish mine and Brian….well lets just say….he tasted it all afternoon, given the amount of burping he did!  Oh well maybe saves it from coming out the other way!

I drove this afternoon and on occasion we could see breaks in the clouds off in the distance.  As we neared Eureka, the rain tapered off and stopped by the time we arrived. 

Rest Area north of Eureka

For the first time, we have encountered a busy hotel.  It looks like their may be some type of sports tournament going on given the number of young teen boys around.  We went next door Maria Callendars Restaurant and had another memorable experience.  Thank goodness we got there when we did or we either would have been there for two hours or would have walked out hungry.  At first they seemed short of help…and the help they did have…..was as high as a kite!  This guy was no spring chicken…I would guess in his 40s, but he was on a whole other planet.  He was friendly as hell and tried to be helpful but his attention span was that of a pea.  Thank goodness we eventually got our

rest stop

meal but the people who ordered at the same time as us were still waiting when we left.  His service was getting worse as time wore in, forgetting things, spilling things…it was painful but almost entertaining to watch.  

After dinner I walked across the street to the local mall.  It has 3 anchor stores – Kohls -Walmart – Sears with large retail areas between.  I walked from one end to the other and was sad to see 26 vacant spaces and 6 obviously temporary stores (open likely just for the Christmas season). Quite a reminder of a hurting economy.

We’re off to San Francisco tomorrow for a two night stay.  The weather forecast for Monday is much improved and calling for sunny with occasional cloudy periods.  We’ve booked a tour and will take in what we can in our short time there.

Finally a break in the skies





Eureka to San Francisco CA Nov18, 2012

The day started out with the usual Best Western breakfast and a quick gas up( at $4 per gallon).  The day was overcast but the further south we got, the clearer the skies and the temps warmer.  A good omen for our San Francisco visit.

The newest “tree hugger” in the Avenue of Giants

We were soon driving in the Humboldt Redwood Forest and turned off for a quick tour down part of the “Avenue of Giants.”  The size of the redwoods are beyond imagination…you have to see to believe and the smell of the forest so sweet and refreshing.  Further down Highway 101 we detoured to drive through the Chandelier tree.  You have to pay $5 for the opportunity and we almost lost a mirror.  I was taking a video when I realized Brian was too close on one side and it’s quite funny to watch and hear it….the file is too big to share here, but it is a giggle.

We drove over some high areas including “Rattlesnake” pass before descending into the Mendocino Valley and wine country.  One very impressive winery was Jaxon Keys which I looked up and found to be owned by two Canadians from Ontario.  To learn more about their estate you can check out

Grapes anyone – Jaxon Keys Winery

www.jaxonkeys.com  We were curious to know how so many grapes are harvested and found the answer on the internet ( of course) which is many wineries use machines or a combination of hand picking and machines, depending on the type of grape they are picking.

We stopped for lunch just outside of Santa Rosa in a town called Windsor.  I took over the driving at this time which meant I would be driving through downtown San Francisco to our hotel.  As it turns out I drove over the Golden Gate Bridge for which you must pay $6 per car.  What a thrill but you have to keep you wits about you.

The Rock at dusk

The hotel reminds me of the hotel we stayed in last year in New Orleans, reasonably priced but in a not so good part of downtown.  The parking is the same…gated and security on sight 24/7 and of course over and above your room rate. At the hotel staff suggestion we walked to Market Street ( a short walk away) and caught the old trolley to Fisherman’s Wharf.  We were told to exit at Pier 39 which we did and it was wall to wall people with families and children.  We later learned they were to light the Christmas tree, and had Disney characters and Santa in attendance. We didn’t stay long and opted to catch the trolley back to the hotel.  We have a city tour booked for the late morning and plan to return to the wharf and take a harbour cruise later.  We’ll try to do what we can in the few short hours we have here.

Sign of the day

Touring San Francisco Nov 19, 2012

Golden Gate Bridge at sunset. Taken from our Bay cruise

We booked a city bus tour today.  The shuttle picked us up at the hotel at ten and got to see more of the downtown, as the shuttle has several other stops before getting to their office terminal.  We couldn’t help but notice the obvious “street people” and homeless.

We have found lots of interesting people, many with mental illness and likely drug problems. Much worse than any other city we have seen.

We’ve seen people sleeping on the streets and the area of our hotel reminds me of East Hastings in Vancouver B.C.  We haven’t seen much in the way of police presence and given the large tourist population in this area…that is a surprise. 

We had a wonderful driver and tour guide named Norma Jean.  She was very entertaining and made the time fly by with all her stories.  Upon leaving their office near Fisherman’s Wharf, Norma gave us a run down of the area, before heading to the Presidio area of the city and the bridge.  

We stopped briefly at the Palace of Fine Arts and it truly does look like a palace. The bus continued on to and over the Golden Gate Bridge where it made a brief stop to allow us to take photos.  The problem is the timing….we were looking straight into the sun, so not the best conditions for optimal photos.  It was about this time when I noticed I seem to have an

Palace of Fine Arts – cornice – weeping women

issue with the camera.  Brian wanted to buy me a new camera for this trip, but I told him I wanted time to research what I wanted….so now I am wondering if that was such a good idea.  Some of the photos have a dull crescent in the lower left part of the picture but it really only shows if the area is light in color.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed our photos will turn our well for this trip….especially when you think about the fact I took 132 today.  I have deleted 32…but I still have 100.

Upon leaving the Bridge area, we crossed the Bridge again and then turned right.  This is a beautiful area and the beach…called “Ocean Beach” is quite spectacular.  From there we

Aptly named ” Ocean Beach”

carried on the the Golden Gate Park.  This park is quite remarkable given all the trees and vegetation were planted…the area had no natural plants or trees. We stopped for photo ops at the Speckles Temple of Music.  The area in front of the shell holds upwards of 20,000 and the seating is sprinkled among trees is some places.

Golden Gate Park is a large park (1,017 acres) with something in it for everyone.  You’ll find a small golf course,soccer fields, fly-casting pools, stables, a

Brian in the area called “The Temple of Music”

variety of gardens, an arboretum,library,lawn bowling, racquetball courts, playgrounds, tennis courts, a conservatory, a museum, model yacht club, senior center and even a bison ( buffalo) paddock. You could spend days here and not see everything.

When we left the park we drove through the area of San Francisco called Haight Ashbury.  For those of you close in age to me, you’ll remember when and why this area gained notoriety in the 1960s.  This in Hippy Haven and given the people who frequent this area and the obvious “weed” signs and paraphernalia …I’d say not much has changed in 50 years.  Can it really be that long?

Just outside of this area is another part of the city known for it’s Victorian houses.  Many of these homes were purchased through catalogues and we very inexpensive.  These

Victorian home

homes have been loving kept up or restored and ar worth several million.  There are very strict guidelines including the upkeep and style on the outside.  They must have at minimum, three colors of paint on the outside of the home, but I would say most owners go well beyond that. Some of the homes were tastefully painted as the one in the photo, but some were quite colorful ( I’m being kind) and certainly stand out.  Maybe those owners were left over hippies!

The bus sontinued back to the downtown area, through China town  and back to the Wharf.  We opted to stay in the area and went “walk about” and stopped at Joe’s Crab Shack for a late lunch / early dinner.  We first ate at Joe’s crab shack about this time last year when visiting Galveston Texas.  During our bus tour, Norma pointed out the toilets on the Wharf.

Fisherman’s Wharf pay toilet

  She explained these are one fits all ( boys and girls) and they are pay toilets.  When you go in, the amount of time is limited so you better not be tardy and when time is up, the doors open…for all the world to see inside!

We finished the day by taking a “Bay” cruise.  This was the last one of the day and we were on the water when the sun set.  The tour passes Alcatraz on the way out and coming back, they cruise closer.  The cruise goes to the Golden Gate Bridge and then turns back.  Fortunately the water was calm, so this girl…who is prone to motion sickness was fine.  It was a great way to end the day.  We’re off to Oxnard tomorrow and are leaving with fond memories ( and lots of great photos) of our brief stay in this beauttiful city.

The backside of Alcatraz

 Sometimes it’s not easy but I did find a sign of the day.

Sign of the day

And one more parting photo of the Bay Bridge taken at sunset.

San Francisco to Oxnard California Nov 20, 2012

Wow what a drive and long day!  We left San Francisco at 830 to hit the road. We set the navigation system so most of the day we would follow along the coast.  I think we

The long and winding road

assumed it would be like the Oregon coast where we travelled 45 to 50 km an hour.  Well we were wrong….it seems 25 to 30 was the norm given the up hills and down dales and the twisting winding road.  We burned through gas and gas stations in some places were few and far between at times, especially through the Big Sur area.

Broccoli anyone

As we travelled south we came across huge land masses of crops and areas getting ready to plant.  Some of these fields spanned as far as your eye could see.  We saw them harvesting broccoli and the avocados seemed ready to go.  There were fields of strawberries and many young plants we couldn’t identify. 

We had a lovely warm day and by noon we took our jackets off.  The temp 20C.  The Big Sur area is very impressive with hills and mountains ( they were pretty high) and occasional sloping fields to the sea with cows grazing.  However sometimes it

Breath taking views

was mountain drop off to the sea with the road clinging to the side.  We stopped at a desolate place called Gorda at the Whale Watching Cafe.  Two bowls of soup, two diet cokes and a bill of $32.  I had wanted to stop along the way to take photos but it’s just as well we didn’t.  The day just wore on and we were still from our destination.  We hit Santa Barbara at 5 pm, just in time for rush hour traffic.  Two hours and 70 miles later, we eventually found our hotel…in the dark.  The drive was something else and the scenery difficult to describe in beauty and wildness.  We saw a herd of sea lions basking on the beach….at first they looked like big rocks until one of them moved.  We are getting closer to our destination now but not looking forward to driving through LA on what is called the busiest travel days of the year.

rocky shores

Oxnard to Rancho Bernardo ( San Diego) November 21, 2012

We Found the Palm Trees

Yesterday I read my horoscope…which is usually dead wrong……it said today I would spend a great deal of time regarding finances.  Interesting! 

We don’t have that far to drive today and wanted to wait to let the morning Los Angeles traffic settle down.  The morning television programs were all about the expected traffic and this “The busiest travel day” in the US.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and everyone seems to want to get to somewhere. 

We left  Oxnard at 930, so a nice lazy start to the day.  We fully expect traffic delays but for the most part we moved along very well with only the occasional brief slow down.  We are staying in the north part of San Diego as we will meet Amanda tonight, to give her the boxes we have brought from Canada for her. 

We arrived around 1 pm and settled into the room before going for lunch.  As we are getting low of US cash we decide to go to the bank and use the ATM.   Now remember what I said about my horoscope today….. we tried the ATMs at three banks and not one of them would give us cash.  I called my bank and there were no issues and they couldn’t understand what the problem was.  We went into the banks and the tellers couldn’t help us either. All they could suggest was taking a cash advance on a credit card.  Whoopie and pay 27% interest…no thanks.  Not wanting to miss a credit card payment while away, I actually overpaid it, so I withdrew some of those funds.  We have used ATMs all over Mexico without an issue…but the US…another story.

After a frustrating hour or so at the banks, we stopped to get gas for the car.  Inside the gas station was an ATM machine, so just for shits and giggles…. I tried it…and you all know what happened don’t you…….it gave me my cash!  Need money???? Avoid Banks!!  Lessoned learned.

Rocky Shores