Thursday, May 24, 2012


Deschutes River running through Bend
Brasada Ranch
Upon leaving California, we headed to Bend, Oregon.  Situated in the center of the state along the Deschutes River, and surrounded by volcanic mountains, Bend is a lovely town that has easily doubled in size since we were here with our motorhome in the late 90s.  

People are drawn to central Oregon's sunny days, dry desert climate and a landscape dramatically punctuated by snow covered mountain peaks. We enjoyed several days in a one bedroom unit at the Seventh Mountain Resort just outside town.  
Athletic center and pool

I wondered what I had gotten us into as we drove through miles of open countryside to our next destination.  The Brasada Ranch in the tiny hamlet of 
Powell Butte is at least 20 miles from a town of any size.   
Mountains to the west
Patio off bedroom with view of...

Fortunately, there was no need to worry and no desire to leave the place during our 4 day stay.   A casual restaurant in the Ranch House and a beautiful restaurant on site had excellent food.  The athletic center housed a top notch gym and indoor pool that opened to  outdoor pools.  Our suite was a beautiful one bedroom apartment with spectacular views of the Cascade Mountain range.  This was one of the most idyllic places we have visited in our journey.

Columbia River - Part of the Lewis & Clark Trail
Having heard about the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge, we made our way to The Dalles and Hood River. Unfortunately, the weather was wet, windy and cold, but the majesty of the area was still apparent.  
Basalt cliffs line Columbia River

40-60 million years ago, this part of the country was covered by a large inland sea. The earth gradually rose only to be covered by volcanic lava some 10 – 15 million years ago.   The volcanoes that formed the Cascade Mountain Range also formed the basalt cliffs of the gorge.
Multnomah Falls
Then the land was submerged again as glaciers melted after the last Ice Age and floodwaters  from western Montana broke through ice dams, carving the canyons walls.  Today the Columbia River is the 4th largest in the U.S. and forms the border between Oregon and Washington.   The surrounding mountains include Mount Hood, Oregon’s highest at just over 11,000 feet.  Waterfalls include Multnomah Falls, America’s second highest year-round waterfall dropping 620 feet.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


When we told people we were going to spend a few days in Sacramento, they said “Whyyyy?”  Nevertheless, we’re glad we did.  Yes, there are economic problems, vacant buildings and homeless people on the streets.  But there is also much to see and enjoy.  Not to mention that Sacramento is often listed among the 10 sunniest cities in the country.

We stayed at the Citizens Hotel, a beautifully restored old hotel in walking distance to the Capitol and Old Sacramento.  The latter is one of the most authentic and best restored old towns we 
have ever visited.   Situated beside the Sacramento River, 28 acres have been designated a National Historic Landmark District and State Historic Park. 

Sacramento began with the establishment of Sutter’s Fort following the arrival of John Sutter in 1839.  The town slowly developed until 1848 when the California Gold Rush began.  Then it grew virtually overnight.  It became the last stop on the Pony Express route as well as the terminus of the transcontinental railroad.  

Originally called Sutter’s Embarcadero, the busy trading center for miners became the City of Sacramento.  While convenient for travel and trade, the waterfront was  prone to flooding.  As described on the official Old Sacramento website: "In 1853 a mammoth project was proposed to raise the city above the flood level. The ambitious and expensive proposal was not fully accepted until another devastating flood swept through the city in 1862. Within a few years, thousands of cubic yards of earth were brought in on wagons and the daring scheme to raise the street level began. The original street level can be seen throughout Old Sacramento under the boardwalks and in basements."

Eventually, floods and fires that ravaged hastily erected wooden buildings forced the commercial development of the town eastward, away from the water.  The original town became known as the worst skid row west of Chicago.

In the mid 60s, a plan was born to redevelop the original city.   The result is 53 beautifully restored buildings, wooden sidewalks, shops, restaurants and several museums. 

The capitol city seemed an appropriate place to conclude our time in California which consisted of 3 months and 17 stops.  All of it enhanced by friends visited along the way.   So far, the nomadic lifestyle agrees with us. 

As we drove north from Sacramento headed for Oregon, we stopped to take a picture of Mount Shasta and bid farewell to California.  For now.   


Ron with Marcia at her Napa home
Old Mill & River Walk; Napa River Inn far left
We were fortunate that Marcia, yet another friend we met on the World Cruise, was at her house in Napa the day we arrived.  Combine a brilliant sun,  roses blooming and the beauty of her 25 acres and you have the picture of  tranquility.   We enjoyed lunch at the Oxbow before Marcia headed back to her home in Sausalito and we drove over to the Napa River Inn in the Old Mill District.  This was a deal from (described in an earlier blog).  It included 2 nights at the Inn with a bottle of wine, breakfast and complimentary wine tasting cards.  We had a lovely room overlooking the Napa River.  

 Mission Sonoma

We spent several days in Sonoma County with the charming town of Sonoma at its heart. Sonoma is the northernmost point of the Mission Trail 1523 - 1823.  The trail went as far south as Guatemala and covered what is now 11 states.
Fayemarie, Ron, Geri & Jules

After a few relaxing days in Sebastopol, a little sun and getting caught up on laundry and correspondence, we headed back to Napa to visit Fayemarie and Jules.  They were on the World Cruise with us from San Francisco   to Beijing. 
Wine tasting at Stag's Leap

Their home is high on a hill with an expansive view of Napa Valley.  We had a wonderful time dining and wining with Jules, Fayemarie and her sons, Ian and Devin.  The highlight was a private wine tasting at Stag’s Leap.  The winery is one of California's oldest and has 90 acres of vineyards.  One could become intoxicated on the setting itself.  The wine is good too!

Gardens at Stag's Leap

Vineyards at Stag's Leap 
TRAVEL TIPGroupon and Livingsocial have also come in very handy in our travels.  I simply put in the area we are going to visit and deals with considerable savings on lodging, meals, massages, salons etc. are emailed to me. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Acqua Hotel Mill Valley

Sorority sister Carol

It was a pleasure to settle down for 9 days at Acqua, a charming boutique hotel in Mill Valley. Our room faced Richardson Bay which we enjoyed walking and biking along.  The highlight of this stop, however, was visits with several friends including a sorority sister I had not seen in over 40 years.  I had a "catch up" visit with Carol before we met Ron for lunch.  It turned out to be Carol's birthday - even more reason to celebrate.  
Ron with Tove & Gene

Gene & Tove's home in Tiburon 
Coastal Redwood 909 - 1930
Another treat was seeing several friends from last year's world cruise including Tove and Gene who live in nearby Tiburon.  We had a wonderful dinner at their beautiful home overlooking San Francisco Bay.  
Ron supporting the Redwoods
Muir Woods National Monument
We were fortunate to have great weather the day we went to Muir Woods, home of some of California's magnificent coastal redwoods.   150 million years ago, redwood and sequoia trees were growing throughout the United States but most have been destroyed by development. In California, almost 2 million acres of old growth forest was lost to logging.  Thanks to William Kent, the stretch known as Muir Woods was saved because he donated it to the Federal Government and Theodore Roosevelt declared it a National Monument.  Rather than having it named after him, Mr. Kenwood requested that the land be named after his friend, naturalist John Muir. We have Muir to thank for our national parks as he petitioned Congress for the National Parks Bill that passed in 1890.

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike."   John Muir

                                              Now it is on to Napa Valley.