After Harris Beach State Park in Oregon (GO THERE!) we made our way south and into California. Our first stop was Crescent City where we boondocked in a casino parking lot just 1/4 mile from the entrance to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. We had an amazing experience being ooohed and ahhed by the giantness of the trees. We touched their spongy, mossy bark and ran and played in the forest. No RV/campers on that road, folks! We also went into town and found sea lions barking at each other. We might (maybe) have barked back.
IN Leggett, CA, for $15, we were able to visit the Chandelier Tree – it is a drive-through Redwood tree! There is RV parking but it is an interesting drive to get down where the tree and gift shop are. Tight and steep so if you are faint of heart, park elsewhere and unhook first. We walked through the tree and took some fun pictures. It really is something to experience. Standing inside a living tree and looking up into it… just wow!
Redwoods are awesome but, for me, California means family. Mike and I both grew up in California and moved to Kansas after got married. Mike’s family followed us east but my whole family is still in Cali with the exception of my brother – he is in central America protecting the future of our fresh drinking water. #coffeelands
Our only scheduled stop this year was Christmas at my other brother’s ❤︎. I have a lot to choose from. Brothers that is. Despite the fact that the last new Hicks baby was born nearly 4 years ago this was our first time ALL TOGETHER – 29 people deep! Mike took some awesome pictures for us! We spent five weeks there and I was so H A P P Y! This lifestyle afforded us the time and flexibility to spend more time with my family than I have been able to in years. Win!
We explored northern California and got to see parts of our “home” state that we hadn’t seen before – we toured the original site of the gold rush in Coloma, we saw whales on the Princess Monterey Whale Watching Tour (thanks Karen!), and we explored Old Sacramento (set aside an hour to go to Envangeline’s! FUN!. Collin’s favorite thing from the entire last 6 months of travel was seeing the large birds of prey at the Lindsay Wildlife Experience in Walnut Creek. We even took a day to play in the snow near Tahoe. California really does have it all (and the price tag to match, LOL).
Just as we were pulling out of town we got a message that my dad was having a heart attack. Thankfully he quickly recovered and I was beyond grateful that we were still there. We stayed until he was home and then said some tearful see-you-laters.
Next stop was Arizona and the Quartzsite RV show and then Las Vegas! Read about those stops in upcoming blogs!
We were back in California a month later to joining Fulltime Families at Legoland in Carlsbad. Curious about FTF? Read my blog here.
We stayed in Temecula at a KOA. Now, we normally wouldn’t consider a KOA – too rich for our blood – but we got a good deal on this one. It was a mom-and-pop campground that had just been bought out by KOA and was still in the process of being updated so the rates were perfect. We stayed a week and used the location to go back and visit LA and San Diego – our old stomping grounds!
We tortured our poor children with a trip down memory lane. Our day trip to San Diego included a visit to my childhood home, a stop at me and Mike’s high school – including the donut shop across the street where we and I met for the first time! We also went to our favorite beaches and enjoyed the sunset at La Jolla Shores. That also happened to be where we had our first date ❤︎
Another day trip took us to Los Angeles. We saw the La Brea Tar Pits (free with our ASTC membership!) which was a place I had always wanted to visit but never had. Bucket list, baby! We recommend the 3-D movie. The tech was a little outdated so the picture wasn’t fabulous but the content was great and got a thumbs up from our boys who are up to date on all things ice age.
After the tar pits we drove through Beverly Hills and tried to go to the Chinese Theater but couldn’t – the area was blocked off for some event (the Oscars!). We did see the walk of stars and drove past some of the big production studios on our way to the Griffith Observatory. Talk about amazing views! We could see the LA skyline and the Hollywood sign perfectly. Great place for a hike and for some science learning. We sneak that in wherever we can. The two highlights: seeing the Tesla Coil in action and the plane that was writing in the sky above us. Someone got proposed to! I guess you could say that love was literally in the air in LA!
The desert was calling us! Not only were we looking for some dry weather (seriously, it had been raining since we left Idaho). But we were still in the mood to reminisce and the Anza Borrego desert was our weekend riding spot when we were newlyweds 🙂 We met up with another fulltime family and spent a week enjoying the desert bloom and getting caught up on school and work. The promise of more flowers brought us to Joshua Tree and there we met even more families (arguably the best part of the whole week) and explored that amazing National Park. The grippy rocks were awesome fun to climb on and the hikes and views were phenomenal. The cholla cactus garden was like a weird little part of wonderland that starts and stops as if someone drew a magic circle that marks the boundaries of where they can grow. This place needs to be on your bucket list!
Where we stayed: mooch-docking with family, French Camp RV Park in Stockton, CA, KOA Temecula, Joshua Tree South BLM in Anza Borrego/Ocotillo Wells, Cache Creek Casino (their rewards program got us a buffet dinner for 6 for like $10!), Elk Valley Casino in Crescent City (1/4 mile from the Redwoods!)
Next time: Yosemite, Death Valley, Chinese Theater in L.A.