Thursday, June 23, 2016

camping in SF Bay Area's back yard

After a great time with Mika and Karl in Lake Tahoe, we are back in our "home turf" for the summer to work: welcome to traffic,  delicious bread from Acme, great Monterrey Market and median home prices of $ 1,000,000 in Berkeley. Before we start our house/ pet sitting, we are camping in the area for a week. We found a great overnite place in cute Benicia for $12, and had a blast biking and picking berries there.  Antony Chabot State Park, in the Oakland hills, is pretty, quiet and you can get away from all the crazy traffic and busyness of the bay area. Biking, petting dogs and chatting with neighbor campers is our daily routine here.  Soon we will store Betsy for a couple of months, and be living a land based life. Variety, it's all good!

view from our campsite at Anthony Chabot

the one nite- great deal site at Benicia State Park

Looking at Carquinez Strait from our campsite

They picked a bunch of black berries, and Tod make a delicious pie

having a great time with Mika and Karl in lake Tahoe, a gorgeous place to live

helping Karl making pizza

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Yosemite by RV

"Come catch me! Lets play hide and seek! " that is how Tessa climbed the trail up to Vernal Fall foot bridge in Yosemite. That's after she climbed every possible rock at the beginning of the trail. No doubt she will be ready for Half Dome in a few years with Tod, while I will have a "spa" day at the lodge.

We arrived in Tod's favorite park the day before on a rainy day. We got the only rv parking spot left at Glacier Point, and run out in the rain to have a minute long look into a misty Yosemite valley. Ah, the joy then to make hot chocolate in your own home after you peel off your wet clothes!

Tod had reserved a camping spot at Crane Flat (not sure why its called flat, as there ain't any flat spots to pitch a tent or level your rv), 25 minutes drive from the valley. We had heard bad stories about finding a parking spot for rv's in the valley, so decided to leave early in the morning to increase our parking karma. The reason I'm less charmed by Yosemite : the crowds. The incredibly beautiful valley attracts over 4 million visitors each year, so especially during main season it's a zoo on the road (yes, you can get away from the crowds by taking more strenuous hikes, but that's hard to do with a 4 yrs old). We got a parking spot at 8.15, and by 9 the spots were full. We used the shuttle and our bikes to explore the valley, and enjoyed our meals, including dinner, outside in a lovely meadow in front of Betsy . By 6pm, we "only" had to wait 15 min in traffic to leave the valley.

My favorite part of this trip was the drive and stops along the Tioga road the next day.  Sadly the Tuolumne meadows campgrounds were not yet open for the season.

On a side note: we have met several Dutch families doing "the California loop". Fun to talk with them, and it reminded me of my first experience with the USA when I did that loop about 28 yrs ago.

Now on to Lake Tahoe to visit with our dear and long time friends Mika and Karl.

at the Vernal Fall bridge

Upper Yosemite Falls

Half Dome from the Olmsted point on Tioga road

at the end of Tioga road you see Mono lake

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Sequoia and Kings Canyon's natural playground

Who needs a playground when you have many trunks to jump and walk on, be surrounded by big, big trees (General Sherman Tree is the largest tree on earth at 275 foot tall), climb to the top of Moro Rock at 6725'? The Betsy crew had fun visiting these national parks, and welcomed the cooler weather. Memorable quote, after she finished the scavenger hunt and Junior Ranger Booklet with our help, and we told her she could get a Junior Ranger badge: " But I don't want to be a Junior Ranger, I want to be a bus driver"! Ah, the mind of  a 4 yrs old....a few weeks ago , she wanted to be an airplane driver.

on top of Moro Rock, she climbed the 300 steps up and down by herself

great landscape to explore at our campsite at 6500'

Monday, June 6, 2016

Back on the road again

115 degrees (46 C) in Needles, CA! The Colorado river feels good on our feet, and low humidity makes it somewhat tolerable. Tessa is having a blast with a water hose, for once I don't enforce the not wasting water policy.

The Bliss crew is back on the road again, after spending another month and having a great time with oma, opa and Flak family in Ohio. Unfortunately me getting pneumonia put a damper on our travel plans to see Matt , Sarah and Cayden in Chicago (don't grow too fast little boy, we gotta catch up with you). Tod got to enjoy great Italian food for a week, a small benefit for working long hours for his italian client. In our final weekend back east, we met our dear Italian friends Paolo, Paola and sweet baby Luca in Pennsylvania , and had a great time hanging out. Thanks Don and Lisa for hosting us on our way back to Ohio, we enjoyed our visit with you!

We are slowly making our way to Berkeley to work during the summer. But not before adding more national parks to our travels, and getting the most out of our $80 annual park pass (so far we visited 10 parks with our annual pass). Kings Canyon , Yosemite here we come again! Big difference rv'ing during fall and high season: we have to have reservations for this trip and most weekends campgrounds are full!
The great "woody playground" near
Oma and opa

water hose joy to stay cool in extreme heat