Of all 50 states, we have undoubtedly spent the most time RVing in our sister state of California. It’s “our” beach and vacation-land away from home. San Diego is about 6 hours from where we live so it makes it an easy place to head, even if you only have a few days. I could plan a whole separate post all about California RVing – best places to stay, RV friendly beaches and coastal routes, national parks, theme parks…you name it! Message me if that’s something you’d like to see!
For now our trip through California was going to be a short one. We were quickly approaching the end of summer and our kids were due back at the end of the week for meet the teacher open house at their school, followed by placement assessments and their first day back the following Wednesday. Where did summer go?? Since we’ve done California a dozen times we decided as a family that we wanted to make use of our annual fun passes at Seaworld San Diego and take a day there and then take a beach day before we crossed back into Arizona.
On Day 56, we had crossed from Oregon into California and then drove right up until it started to get dark to arrive in one of our favorite places to stay in northern California – The Avenue of the Giants!
The Avenue of the Giants is a scenic drive off of old Highway 101, which parallels Freeway 101 with its 51,222 acres of redwood groves. It is surrounded by Humboldt Redwoods State Park, which has the largest remaining stand of virgin redwoods in the world. Some fun facts about it (courtesy of the Save the Redwoods League):
- The Coast Redwoods grow only in a small coastal range from Southern Oregon, to the Big Sur coastline in Northern California.
- The tallest redwood, Hyperion, is 379 feet tall – the height of a 37 story building! It is estimated to be 700 to 800 years old.
- The widest redwood is 27 feet across at its base – equivalent to two VW bugs parked bumper-to-bumper.
- The oldest Coast Redwoods are over 2,000 years old. Some of the redwoods alive today sprouted in the days of the Roman Empire.
A few trips back we discovered this full service RV park right in the heart of The Avenue of the Giants, just steps away from the Immortal Tree (which is 950 years old)! We were lucky when we called as we were driving in that they had one spot open for the night. It was nestled against the forest lined with blackberry bushes!
The girls had so much fun picking through and finding a few ripe ones. We were still early in the season and most of them had a few weeks to go before they were ready.
We walked over to the Immortal Tree for some photos. A portion of it lays beside it and the kids all climbed up for a photo.
We took a drive to a few of the nearby groves for some photos.
We took our chalkboard photo and then we were back on the road, south bound! Today we decided to just push it as late as we could so we could cover a lot of miles.
So many vineyards!! And then we passed right by San Francisco and it was really hard to not to stop and take a few days. Skyline and bridges from a distance are all we get on this trip!
We ended up making it all the way to Lebec, somewhere between Bakersfield and LA, dry camping in a dirt lot off of the Flying J Travel Center. It was late and we just needed to get some sleep so we could pick up and make it to San Diego in the morning!
Since it was dark when we got in last night, we didn’t realize what a glamorous location we had chosen for the night! Hello, Lebec!
And then it was a short drive that morning on congested Los Angeles freeways to make our way to one of our favorite spots in all of California.
Before we knew it, we were breathing in the clean San Diego air and turning off the I-5 onto the 75, otherwise known as the Coronado Bay Bridge that leads to Coronado Island.
Coronado has fantastic RV camping on Silver Strand State Beach! You park right against the sand with the ocean just steps away. They have water and electric hook-ups, a dump station on site, and although the sites are very close together, the view and proximity to the ocean is unbeatable! We come here several times a year just to spend full days on the beach. The direct oceanfront sites book up as much as a year in advance on popular holidays, so make sure you make reservations early!
This is one of those occasions when we didn’t make advance reservations and there were no RV spaces available. Fortunately there is plenty of day parking available so we were still able to pull right up along the sand and set up day camp for playtime on the beach!
After being in such cold places all summer, the kids were dying to get into some warmer water and do a little body surfing!
Silver Strand State Beach is such a good one for families! The waves are small, it is shallow quite a ways out, and it’s rarely busy compared to other San Diego beaches.
We stayed until the sun set over the Pacific ocean!
Then we drove the RV over to our home for the next few days, the Mission Bay RV Resort! This park is in a great location on the bay and just around the block from Seaworld, so it’s a favorite of ours when we know we’ll be visiting the theme park.
It’s also close to a lot of great restaurants near Pacific Beach. Tonight we decided we were craving some fish tacos – so the Pacific Beach Fish Shop was where we stopped in for a late dinner.
They have a delicious and fresh menu – and my fish taco and chowder were amazing! We also loved the casual vibe and being able to eat outside on the patio since we still had sea salty hair and sand in our toes!
Our day ended with late night fro-yo across the street from the fish restaurant before we returned to the RV for the night.
Our last full day of vacation was upon us! We wanted to end things on a fun note, so we headed over to Seaworld for the day!
To say Charlotte was amazed with the sea life would be an understatement. She was entranced by these big beautiful creatures of the sea!
We love that Seaworld doesn’t have the crowds of the bigger theme parks, and we are always able to get right on all of the coasters. That drop in Journey to Atlantis gets me every time!
While the big kids and I ride Manta, Avery loves to feed the mantra rays with Daddy. She could spend hours talking to and petting these guys!
When it got dark, Seaworld transformed into a glow world with their Electric Ocean festival. There was live music and dancing, and black lights and glow sticks everywhere! So much fun!
We stayed until close, unwilling the end the night….our last night of vacation.
On the road again, this time home bound! For the first time in 60 days, we crossed state lines back into our home state of Arizona!
We were home late afternoon, exhausted, and feeling ‘jet lagged’ a bit as strange as that may sound. But when you’ve been away from home for so long, and then you are suddenly back, there is this strange sensation of “was that all a dream?” We actually had a meet the teacher event at the kid’s school just several hours after coming in so we were immediately thrust back into a bit of normal life with no time to come down from all of our traveling.
Coming back to normal routine was hard. We missed being so close together, and yet we were happy to have our own space as well, as strange as that paradox sounds. I missed my large bathroom and was relishing in the thought of a bubble bath. It was nice having Charlotte sleeping upstairs in her own bedroom after sharing our room for so long. And it was nice to not have to watch how much water we were using as you do when you are watching your tank capacity all summer, and to have dishwashers again after hand washing for months!
I jumped head first into planning because my type A personality requires that I am always planning for something. And we were of course discussing our next trip because we already missed our life on the road!
Fast forward to present day- as it is already MAY 2018 in several days and writing these updates has been a slow going process. It is strange to think this was nearly a year ago, and it has felt like the fastest moving year yet! We are already packing up to leave in less than 3 weeks for our next summer of traveling! The kids have grown so much! Seeing how fast it all goes, we feel so incredibly blessed to be fortunate enough to do this with our children while they are young. This concept is not lost on us.
We’ve made some RV modifications in the last few weeks in preparation for another summer with slightly older kids. Charlotte will be 2 in several months and is quickly outgrowing her pack and play set-up, so Adam decided to build a third bunk bed for her to transition into this summer! I’m working on a post about how we did that, and I’m looking forward to sharing our journey this summer in real time! Join us for a summer in New York City, the outer banks of North Carolina, beautiful southern cities of Charleston and Savannah, and a festive fourth of July in our nation’s capital – Washington D.C.!! We can’t wait!