But just like anything else in life, as soon as we start moving, our excitement and energy build. And as we settle into our traveling rhythm, we’re happy that we’re once again embarking on a cross-country adventure.
A Different Travel Style For Everyone
Not everyone who travels fulltime makes the journey all the way across the country and back each year. (If you don’t have to, I’d say don’t.) Everyone’s style of travel is different, and ours looks like it does because we want to spend time each year with our family and friends on the west coast and with my folks in Florida.
Yes, we could fly for our visits instead of hauling ourselves and our RV across the country. It might come to that in future years. But we like having our home with us wherever we go, we enjoy revisiting favorite places as we cross the country, and we look forward to the new discoveries that we make each year in our travels. It helps a lot that we give ourselves a full three months to travel across the country. Even though we often wish that we had “just a bit more time” when we come across a particularly interesting locale, we’ve settled on a reasonably relaxed pace of spending 3-5 days most places and driving no more than 200 miles on a traveling day.
Just before Thanksgiving, we began our journey with a trip down the California coast, visiting three places that we’ve been before and wanted to return to.
Point Reyes, CA
We spent a few days in Point Reyes in spring of 2015 and loved it. We were happily anticipating a three day stay over Thanksgiving weekend in this picturesque national seashore that also happens to be a gourmet paradise. As it turned out, the photogenic lighthouse was closed for repairs (and the cool trail leading to it), our favorite restaurant was taking a vacation break, and a wild day-long rainstorm turned our campsite into a lakefront property.
Time to regroup. We found different trails to hike, ate oysters and drank beer at an outdoor oyster bar in lieu of our gourmet going-out-to-dinner plan, and were happy that the “lake” in front of our trailer didn’t submerge our little home.
Point Reyes National Seashore is still one of the most beautiful places we’ve visited in our travels. If you’re interested in more details on the many hiking opportunities and other fun things to do in the area, check out our post from 2015 here: Serene and Wild Point Reyes.
Click on any photo for a larger version
Pinnacles National Park
Our last visit to Pinnacles National Park was also in the spring of 2015. This is one of the best places in the country to see the California Condor, and since we didn’t see them last time, we wanted to try again. Plus, we really enjoy the hiking trails here, especially the 7-mile trail that tunnels through Bear Gulch Cave and climbs to the High Peaks Loop.
The pinnacles glow reddish gold in the early morning and late afternoon. It’s a place of peaceful beauty, broken only by the haunting calls of California Quail, the squawking of Stellar’s Jays, and the loud waka-waka-waka of the Acorn Woodpecker. Those guys are busy! We came across several woodpecker granaries, where the birds drill shallow holes into trees and stash thousands of acorns for their winter food supply.
Although there were few other people on the trails, we were happy to meet up with Shannon and Ken, fellow full-time travelers and nature lovers who regaled us with tales of their up-close encounters with the condors. Alas, we weren’t quite so fortunate. But we did have plenty of opportunities to see them roosting and soaring from a distance.
San Luis Obispo
We were looking forward to returning to El Chorro Regional Park Campground, just outside of San Luis Obispo. This is one of our favorite areas on the central California coast, and we’ve spent quite a bit of time here over the years enjoying the interesting town of San Luis Obispo, nearby Morro Bay (and kayaking with the adorable sea otters that reside here), and exploring the gorgeous coastline.
It rained the three days we were there, all day and all night. That’s why it’s good to visit places more than once. We did nothing more than walk the miles of muddy trails in the county park, including the pretty botanical garden. Our best discovery of this trip was The Vegetable Butcher, a wonderful place for a cozy and delicious lunch in downtown San Luis Obispo.
If you’re interested in things to do in and around this area during better weather, check out our post here: The Central California Coast: Monterey, Morro Bay, and Ojai. This is definitely a place that deserves more than one visit!
We wholeheartedly concur with your point about visiting places more than once to experience them at their best, or maybe just to have different experiences. All three places you mentioned are places we visited, and would love to return to.
With this really wild winter, our slow travel plan is working well because we are finding that we are getting shut out of activities for a few days at each stop thanks to weather. Having extra days in the schedule means we can make the most of the nice days by getting outside while pushing errands and indoor tasks like travel planning over to the crummy days.
Shannon, we were wishing we had a couple more days in San Luis Obispo because the weather cleared the day we were leaving and we could have gotten out for our planned kayaking and hiking adventures. I think a week would be perfect in places that are really appealing so that weather isn’t such a big factor. Being stuck inside did help us get more of our summer travel plans in place, though. Have to look at the bright side, LOL.
We’re still envious of your close encounters with the condors at Pinnacles!
One of our favorite trips was up the California coast after a month boondocking in Borrego Springs. It’s one that we hope to repeat one day. Beautiful photos, especially the food. :)
Thanks, Linda. I often take photos of food to inspire me in my cooking at home. :-) We love the California coast, too—especially the central coast. We’ll definitely return!
Hooray, my subscription is working again!
No matter where you go, even if it is somewhere we never would have thought about, your writing makes me want to go there. I don’t like oysters, but you make me wish I did. Pinnacles looks dreamy. I wanna do that Bear Gulch Cave hike. The acorn woodpeckers’ stashes are called granaries? I love that, how perfect!
I am happy you are on the move again, and I know this spring/summer is going to be filled with new and wondrous experiences. So excited for you, and for those of us virtual hitchhikers!
Joodie, if you guys haven’t yet traveled the central and north coast of California, you’re going to love it! And those hikes in Pinnacles NP are exactly your kind of adventure with all of those fun CCC-carved trails and stairs.
I was reading about Acorn Woodpeckers and discovered that they actually tend their granaries, moving the acorns around as they shrink and putting them in smaller holes. They pound them in tightly so that other critters can’t get to them. Isn’t that cool? I know you like critter facts as much as I do. :-))
can’t wait to hear about your trip across the country. We’re flying to S.C. this spring. Not my favorite mode, but gotta see the grandbaby. We plan on driving there in the fall. We’re going up to Alaska again this summer. I really need to catch up on my blog!! Lol.
I’m waiting for your blog, Pam! :-) No pressure, but truly, I do hope you’ll post about your Alaska travels because that’s on our list for a future adventure. I understand how much work it is to write a blog, though. You might have noticed how far behind I am, LOL.
Enjoy that grandbaby—one of the few worthwhile reasons to fly!
Dear Laurel & Eric – just wanted to say ‘HI’ and thank you for your writeups and fantastic photos. I look forward to your posts – they just make me feel good. Yes, they do!!
Thanks so much, Rick. It’s nice comments like yours that encourage me to keep blogging. I’m glad you’re enjoying our posts!
You took us back to some of our favorite places. We look forward to your Death Valley post which is where we are headed next week. Hopefully, there will be a great desert bloom after all of the rain. You do find the best foods.
Debbie, now I’m highly motivated to get our Death Valley post done! We absolutely loved our time there, and I can only imagine how beautiful it will be with the spring bloom. I’m looking forward to your post!
We like food, as you know. Good thing we also like to hike and bike. :-)
We are two of the minority traveling across the country twice a year. We’ve yet to find a good rhythm, do we just put our heads down and move across, (have a wonderful 50 weeks of travel with 2 weeks of unpleasant drives) do we take the southern route and stop often along the way? The northern states aren’t usually an option for us because of the timing of our travels…..I feel like Goldilocks, too fast, too slow, never just right! Ah well, not really much to complain about is it!
Loved your California pictures. Places we haven’t visited in Beluga, now are on our list. That darn list just gets longer even though we regularly check things off….how does that happen?
Ah, Sue, I know you understand about the twice-a-year cross-country journey! We’ve settled on the three-month each direction plan, which seems to be working pretty well, although we do find ourselves wishing at times that we had longer to spend in an area that we’re traveling through. Six years into this adventure, and we’re still fine-tuning!
One of these days, I hope you will do the long, slow journey across the southern states. I know you would find a lot that you would love along the way. High Island, Texas, for example. And yes, how in the world do our lists keep getting longer??
We are headed to El Chorro in April. We’re enjoying a slow pace this winter as well. This month Sedona/Cottonwood with a flight east to meet the new grandson in Chicago!
Pat, how fun to have a new grandbaby! Congratulations to the whole family. Lucky you to be at El Chorro in April. It should be lovely then.
Living the DREAM!!!!
Yes indeed, and we’re waiting for you and Judy to join us!! Are you ready to retire yet, John? oxoxo
I can totally relate to the wanting to have your home with you and also wanting to stay put as it does require effort and energy to keep moving. We just experienced that, once again, while being “on the road” for three months, like you guys. It very much influenced our decision to stay in India for six weeks once we found out we had to be there for Ben’s work. It was easier just to stay than to move yet again!! How great YOU guys can take your closet with you! No suitcases to lug around…
200 miles per day seems like a relaxing pace indeed and that makes good sense to optimize enjoyment and not have the stress of long drives. I absolutely LOVE Point Reyes!! The views and shoreline are top notch and those oysters sure look yummy. Sometimes when favorite places are inaccessible, then we do discover new stuff to experience. Love all your photos too. Gorgeous acorn woodpecker and looks like quite a hike!
Great post, looking forward to more…
Peta, one of the best things about traveling the way we do is having our little home with us everywhere we go. I have a hard time packing a suitcase these days, LOL!
I admire you and Ben for your ability to maintain such a high quality of life while moving so frequently, and in such exotic and often remote locales.
Isn’t Point Reyes fabulous? It’s one of our favorite places.
I too love each and every one of these stops you made. Too bad about the weather, but you still made the most of it as always!
Lisa, as you know, space gets mighty tight in an RV when the weather doesn’t allow for a lot of outdoor time. So we go out, just about no matter what!
We did get a lot of planning accomplished those couple of very stormy days at El Chorro. :-)
Wish we had had time for El Chorro this year! It’ll be on our list for the future. Right now we’re driving away from a place we learned about from you guys and just revisited: Alabama’s Oak Mountain State Park. I said hi to it for you! Safe travels…
Gretchen, how fun that you were just at Oak Mountain SP! I hope you guys were far from the crazy storms in Alabama.
When you make it to El Chorro, I think you’ll love it. It’s so convenient to so many wonderful adventures on the central California coast. Happy trails!
Having done both the cross country RV trek and, alternatively, flying home to visit family, I think your approach is right. It’s nice to have your home with you, to have a familiar, quiet, place to retreat to, and to be able to sleep in your own bed each night. While I don’t relish the idea of driving across country, sleeping in hotel rooms or guest rooms is just not nearly as relaxing as being in your own space each day. Especially when dealing with family… I mean, let’s be honest… they’re exhausting. 😂
Anyway, I love that you visit new places on each trek and revisit old favorites. It keeps your treks interesting but also allows you to see things anew. We’re already starting to revisit certain stops and seeing them at different times of year, with different weather, or with new friends makes each visit unique and special. And Joodie is right, I don’t even like oysters, but your photos and descriptions make me wish I did…. that’s some crazy voodoo you do.
Laura, everything you said expresses exactly how we feel. Having our little home with us makes all the difference in our visits to family. Keeps me sane—I know you understand. Plus, I do love my own bed! And I have no clue how to pack a suitcase anymore, so there’s that.
We really enjoy revisiting favorite places that we’ve discovered in our travels. And like you noted, every visit is unique depending on season and weather. And new friends! Tucson, for example. :-)) Ha, give me a chance and I’ll try to convert you into an oyster lover! How about smoked oysters?
I have had fried oysters and those were ok. I don’t think I’ve had smoked…. The problem is I associate the briny taste (that doesn’t disappear) with the texture of raw oysters. Which gross me out. But…I am willing to try them… maybe it’s just an acquired taste…(not the raw ones though. Nope! Never!!!) 😂
I promise to never serve raw oysters to you. I grew up eating them, so I was desensitized at a very young age, haha! But I’ll bet you would like smoked oysters—no briny taste, no oyster texture. Just have to be careful that they haven’t been over-smoked and turned into rubber bands.
I also love them grilled and with all kinds of toppings. We’ll try some next winter in Florida. If you’re up for it. :-)
I love the bird photos from Pinnacles. And what a lake at Point Reyes. Weather certainly has been a factor this year. Thanks for a wonderful blog.
Thanks, Nancy. :-) We were happy to see the condors, even from a distance. And yes, the weather has been crazy everywhere, ever since late fall, it seems!
As you know, we decided to hoof it cross country this time and spend more time in Florida. We chose a week at each place, which normally might be a bit too long. But as another commenter mentioned, this year that has given us a couple or three days in each week of weather good enough to “do stuff”. It was supposed to be a trip filled with kayaking and hiking. Hard to kayak in the rain, and hard to hike with a knee injury. But we are plugging along, and enjoying as much as we can. This will be our last cross country on the southern route I think. Only a few more days and we will be in Okefenokee. Looking forward to that one, except for the big storm scheduled to hit there on Monday, our arrival day. Ah sigh. Weather stuff can be such a pain in the whatever! No matter where you are. You have inspired us again to travel south to Point Reyes. Another blogger friend talks about it as well. And we loved Pinnacles, but haven’t been there for awhile either. And Morro Bay as well, such good spots. But weather? really. All I can say when I start to complain about weather is that I am grateful we weren’t in Alabama. Seeing so much devastation this year, with Mexico Beach, and Paradise, and now Alabama just is heart rending. Geez. rambly comment here. but your writing triggered all those thoughts.
Sue, you and Mo have hit some rough patches with uncooperative weather and most of all, Mo’s knee injury. But you’ve certainly made the most of your time in Florida and have done so much gorgeous kayaking! I’m sorry that you won’t be making the cross-country trek again (it would be fun to meet up with you in Florida for some kayaking!), but I understand. It’s such a long way from Oregon!
You two will love making a trip along the California coast, even if you’ve done it all before. When you go, don’t miss kayaking with the sea otters at Elkhorn Slough near Monterey. That was one of our all-time favorite kayaking adventures. (It’s on our blog :-))
Fantastic as always but was there anything in Bear Gulch Cave? Bears, bats, Gollum?
Haha Brenda, no bears or Gollum (I don’t think…) but bats, yes! Although we didn’t see them, they’re there. I actually don’t like caves, but it’s a cool hike. It’s REALLY dark and you have to have a flashlight to make it through Bear Gulch Cave. Lots of low rocks, too—Eric hit his head a couple of times and the swear words echo really nicely, LOL.
Having family on the east and loving the west coast has “forced” us to travel back and forth for years as we full timed. Having family from northern NY to Georgia we have been able to choose a variety of paths across the country which has taken us to every state and so many wonderful little towns. We always looked at these journeys as part of the adventure. And having our home with us made our time with family so much easier. BUT, our last trip across the country was just too much. We have been there and done that too much…as in eight years. Of course, as we fly east for now, I know we will miss having the MH with us. Maybe one day we will take it with us again.
This post is so timely! I was just looking at possible routes for this spring. I don’t believe we will go all the way to WA this spring. There is just so much snow that I don’t think the best trails will be open in early June. But I am looking at a route that takes us to Red Rock Canyon SP (CA), Pinnacle NP, SLO/ Morro Bay area, and northern CA. I just checked out El Charro Regional Park and they have reservations for our size!! I was so excited to read this post. Thanks for the ideas and hiking trails! Hope all is going well with your parents!!
Pam, I know you guys have made the trek back and forth across the country even more times than we have! And you’ve made the most of your journeys. Every time we start the trip we think about how far we have to go…but then once we get started we’re both really excited about all of the adventures that await us along the way.
I’m so glad this post is helpful for you. That’s one good thing about me being so danged far behind! I hope you’re checking our archives on the central and north California coast—there are lots more ideas there from our visits when it wasn’t so rainy. I think you’ll love El Chorro and all of the things to do in the area. I hope you booked at least a week!
Thanks for taking us along on a great journey. We never visited Pinnacles National Park. It looks absolutely beautiful!. Glad that “lake” in front of the fifth wheel didn’t rise to dangerous heights….lol
Death Valley…ahhhhh…such good memories.
Marsha, I’m so happy to hear from you! We really like Pinnacles, and we might go again to see if we can get closer to the condors. Plus, there are more trails to hike that we didn’t get around to.
I had to talk Eric into going to Death Valley—he wasn’t too thrilled about pulling our trailer on that crazy steep and winding road into the park, LOL. Stay tuned for that story. :-))
It was from your earlier post that we learned about Pinnacles NP and we did enjoy that park. What’s funny was that it was only 2 hours from where we used to live and never heard of Pinnacles till then.
Each time we looked at a US map, we plot the route from Florida to Lopez Island. Then we get amazed at your annual cross country travel. I am quite sure that your parents are proud and happy to see you and Eric each visit! Such love and care to put thousands of miles to see them smiles and get a sweet hug.
ML, it is a really long way across the country (as you know!). The longest trip we’ve made so far was from Lopez Island to Key West. I think that is just about as far as it is possible to go and still be in the contiguous U.S. Good thing there are so many wonderful adventures along the way! :-)
My folks are really happy that we’re here. We’ve been busy bees, as you know. So glad you guys came to visit so that we had good reason to get away and play!
I decided today was the day to read one blog post and this is it. Looks like a lot of people beat me to it. It’s easy to see why. I loved Point Reyes and it was always on our list of longing to go back to. Your go with it attitude is so admirable. No wonder you always have such a good time. And yes, that is SOME lake you had there. Pinnacles is a place I have not been and I’d love to see the birds and the scenery there. Really nice choice of pictures. I’ve only seen condors at the Grand Canyon and don’t think I’ve ever seen an acorn woodpecker. Great shot! Back in my living in California days – 3 years and that was all I could take – I visited San Luis Obispo and Ojai fairly often as they seemed places of sanity to me (guess that says a lot about me) and I lived in the NW area of the San Fernando Valley so it wasn’t that far. Sadly I wasn’t kayaking then so I didn’t get to see the sea otters. Serious loss! I’m so sorry it rained the entire time you were there. Weather doesn’t seem to be treating you well. Hope it gets nicer as you go.
Sherry, I’m so glad to hear from you. San Luis Obispo and Ojai are among our favorite places on the central California coast, too. I can certainly understand how they would appeal to you.
I hope you’ll return to kayak with the sea otters, both at Morro Bay near San Luis Obispo and at Elkhorn Slough near Monterey. I know how much you would love that experience!
And then you could return to Point Reyes, too. Despite how crowded some parts of California are, there is still so much beauty to be found there, and lots of spaciousness away from the cities.
I think Point Reyes is one of my favorite places in CA. We like eating baked oysters at The Marshall Store and that cheese shop is to die for. Thanks for taking us on a tour of Pinnacles NP as we haven’t taken the time to explore it yet. Hope you are one of the few having good weather right now. It continues to be chilly in Southern Cal.
LuAnn, Point Reyes is one of our favorite spots in California, too. We were happy to finally get to The Marshall Store—the oysters were fabulous, as is the setting! You guys will love the hiking at Pinnacles.
This has been a wild winter, hasn’t it? We’re warm in Florida, but some days are too humid for me. Haha, that’s coming from a native Floridian! I’m accustomed to the west coast and low humidity. :-)
We haven’t stayed in Point Reyes, but I think we’ll give it a try next time we’re visiting family in Santa Rosa (and stuffing our faces with fish tacos at Handline in Sebastopol!). Last time, we stayed at the Bodega Dunes Campground, which was nice, but neither of us loved it enough to return. Pinnacles N.P. is another spot we’d like to visit. We drove by on our way north from SLO to Santa Rosa, but didn’t make the stop.
BTW, I’m not sure if you subscribe to replies to your comments on my blog, but I mentioned a few books that you might be interested in (on the Tuesdays with Morrie post).
Les, I think you would love Point Reyes! The Olema Campground is a wonderful place to stay for exploring the national seashore, and the little hamlet of Point Reyes Station is just a few miles away. There are many beautiful hikes in the national seashore, and the food in the area is outstanding.
Thank you for the book suggestions—I enjoy your reviews.
Very nice Laurel, love your writing style! I can’t wait till Stacie & I can get out to California again and enjoy some of these beautiful places. Miss you guys, say hi to Eric. Hope everything is going smoothly! Safe travels & happy camping. Tom
Thanks so much, Tom—it’s great to hear from you! We look forward to seeing you and Stacie on the road…we would love to meet up for some West Coast adventures. Hope you’re continuing to have fun in Galveston! :-)
This post will be very helpful as we do the reverse cross country trip, from Florida to Oregon! We have gone as far as Arizona, but going up the West Coast will be new territory. We definitely need to check these out…..thanks! As always, beautiful pics.
Debbie, I hope our posts will be helpful for you in your west coast travels. You have lots of grand adventures ahead!