Friday 1st September
Into Seattle for the hop on hop off trolley tour. The tour started near the Space Needle and took us along the water front piers with the many shops and restaurants.
At lunch-time we stopped at the Crab Pot restaurant on the waterfront. As the name suggests the restaurant specializes in seafood and what a feast we had. We ordered a crab pot that consisted of Dungeness and Alaskan crab with mussels, clams, prawns, andouille sausage, corn and red potatoes all tipped into the middle of the table onto crease proof paper to pick at and enjoy.
Back on the bus we continued our tour around the city. This is Labor Day weekend and everywhere was busy with crowds of people all enjoying the warm sunshine and blue skies. Seattle is a town of headquarters, including Amazon, Microsoft, and of course Starbucks.
The first ever Starbucks.
Saturday 2nd September
Got on our way this morning heading west towards the Oregon coast, passing Olympia the state capital. This is the start of our journey along the Oregon coast to California and our destination San Francisco.
The Astoria-Megler Bridge across the mouth of the Columbia River bridge crossing the state line into Oregon.
Arrived at the north Oregon coastal town of Seaside, our campsite is Circle Creek RV Park - 32 dollars a night, no hook up. Everywhere is very busy because of the Labor Day weekend.
Went into Seaside town, about a mile north of the campsite. A 50’s style resort with a beautiful beach. We arrived in town at sunset, lots of people in town and on the beach.
There is a statue of Lewis and Clarke here commemorating their epic journey in 1804-1806 across northern America to find a route to the Pacific Ocean.
Sunday 3rd September
Five miles north is the beautiful beach town of Cannon Beach. It was so busy we couldn’t find a parking space and therefore, continued on a mile or so to Tolovana Beach. Sandy had a great run on the beach and dip in the very chilly Ocean.
Cannon Beach is classic Oregan coast with beautiful beaches, rolling surf, dramatic rock formations and stunning viewpoints .
Haystack Rock in the background.
Back into Cannon Beach this evening to see the sunset and have a look around the town.
Dinner at The Irish table. Dungeness crab for starter, steak and colcannon for entrée – delish.
Monday 4th September
Ninette and I got on the road early this morning and went into Cannon Beach before all the parking spaces got taken. We had a lovely morning looking around this picturesque little town with its beaches to die for on one side and pine forested hills at the back. Art galleries and unique boutique shops abound.
At mid-day we got back on the 101 to continue our journey south.
Scenic views of the Oregon coastline near Manzanita.
Arrived at the Waldport/Newport KOA RV Park in central Oregon.
Went to the Salty Dawg Bar & Grill in town for dinner. This is a locals bar serving hearty meals, like clam chowder inside a sourdough loaf.
Tuesday 5th September
Set off east this morning for a picturesque drive through the Siuslaw Forest to Junction City on Highway 99. Here is Guaranty RV Supercenter. Simon and Ninette are thinking about the purchase of an RV, Erik, our salesman, showed us around their extensive range of RV’s for sale. We had a test drive in a Newmar 3124 which came up as the favourite model. No decision made yet but a lot to think about.
On our way back, we stopped off at the small beach town of Yachats for dinner at Ona Restaurant and Bar. We sat out on their patio where the heaters were on to keep off the nights chill.
Wednesday 6th September
There are several forest fires burning in Oregon causing smoke haze and mixed with the morning sea mist it led to a pretty foggy travel day. The journey continued along the Oregon Coastal Highway 101. As we hugged the coast we soon came to Cape Perpetua Scenic Area where we stopped to have breakfast and take a few photographs. The mist was rolling in and out of the trees and across the rocks. The sea was grey and frothy, with high white rollers rushing to shore.
For lunch we stopped off at the small town of Bandon with it’s quaint clapboard buildings and boutique shops. After a walk around the town and a little retail therapy we stopped at Tony’s Crab Shack and ordered hot prawn and crab sandwiches.
After collecting our packed lunch from Tony’s we went a couple of miles north out of town to the Devils Kitchen State Park, a small park overlooking the beach, the sea was lost in the mist.
After our delicious picnic lunch, we walked through the sand dunes onto the beach and ventured out into the mist to dip our toes in the very chilly sea.
The sand was warm, soft and comfortable as we sat and relaxed. The last time we were in Bandon was June 2015, then the sky was brilliant blue, the sun was shining and the wind was blowing, a total contrast to today.
The dog had lots of fun fetching sticks.
Back on the road and an hour later we got to our destination, Gold Beach and the Oceanside RV Park.
Thursday 7th September
Today we went along the Rogue River in a jet boat with Jerry’s Rogue Jets
It was another misty morning as we set off along the Rogue River with our skipper Geoff.
Our hope was that the weather would clear a little as we moved inland. We were wrong, there was torrential rain, thunder and lightning. Arriving at Cougar Lane Lodge, absolutely drenched and looking forward to a hot drink, we were soon disappointed, The lightening had taken the power out!
Back to the boat, still drenched but at least it had stopped raining but it wasn’t long before another deluge was dropped on us.
Anyway, we still managed to laugh and the rain did eventually stop. We enjoyed the scenery, wildlife, fishermen (and women) landing large salmon, running the rapids and the boat captains occasional 360 spin of the boat.
However, the highlight of the trip was seeing a black bear. He followed us along the river bank for some time. It was certainly the longest sighting of a bear we had experienced.
Back at Cougar Lane Lodge for lunch and the lights were back on.
At the end our trip we were relieved to arrive back at camp for a hot shower and change of clothes. The round trip up the river was 104 miles long and it felt like we had been on Oregon’s authentic version of Wet n Wild.
Friday 8th September
Our Journey south today continued into California. We gradually left the smoke haze and mist behind and the sun came out.
Northern California is Redwood country and as soon as we had set up camp at the Benbow KOA RV Park, we headed out to explore the Avenue of the Giants.
This is a magnificent 31 mile drive lined with these giants of the tree world. The Avenue is surrounded by Humboldt State Park which has the largest remaining stand of virgin redwoods in the world. It was like entering a prehistoric world amongst these ancient old growth trees. The quietness and the smell of pine in the air was intoxicating.
The Avenue followed the route of the South Fork Old River and has a few small towns along the way. We stopped off at Myers Flat to visit the Drive-Thru Tree, the Shrine of the Redwoods. The tree has been owned by a local family since the 1950’s and the natural opening in the tree was caused by fire centuries ago. We had no trouble getting through with the Celica but the people behind had a pick up. It was touch and go but amazingly he managed to get through without any scratches or getting stuck.
Back to the RV Park for a dip in the pool and a soak in the hot tub.
For dinner, we took the short walk from the park across to the Benbow Inn. An impressive looking place built in the 1920’s and to my mind rather like an Austrian hunting lodge. The decoration was sumptuous with some nice old pieces. We sat out on a large patio and was entertained by a duo singing some nice mellow music.
Saturday 9th September
We had breakfast and said goodbye to the Benbow Inn and RV Park.
It was sunny and 25c as we travelled south to our destination, Petaluma, 38 miles north of San Francisco. Down the 101, forests soon gave way to rolling golden hills and vineyards.
Arriving at Petaluma RV Park we met up with Peter and Suzan. Here we set up camp for nearly three weeks. Simon and Ninette will be here looking after the RV’s and the two dogs, Sandy and Trey whilst Peter, Suzy and ourselves fly off to Hawaii for two weeks - so excited !!
We soon found our way to a favourite local brewery, Lagunitas Brewing Company.
Monday 11th September
Up early to catch the Sonona Airport Express to San Francisco Airport. Simon took us to Petaluma Fairgrounds where we picked up our transport. The coach was busy but the roads were even busier. Road work was causing some problems but for 5.30 in the morning it was amazingly busy.
We arrived in plenty of time for our five hour flight to Honolulu. At Honolulu we caught a flight with Island Air for the 45 minute journey to Kona on the west coast of Big Island, the name commonly used for the island of Hawaii, which gives its name to the chain of islands collectively known as Hawaii.
We had had good views of the other islands on our approach to Kona and the weather was warm and sunny on arrival.
The small airport terminal is mostly open air, letting the sea breezes flow through.
We picked up a hire car and made our way north along the coast. It took about 30 minutes to reach our destination, The Bay Club, Hilton Grand Vacations at Waikoloa Beach Resort. We travelled on a good road cut through acres of lava field.
The resort has luscious gardens with many varieties of trees, shrubs and flowers all set amongst the lava fields. We soon settle in at our spacious two-bedroom apartment with great views over one of the landscaped golf courses.
Tuesday 12th September
Enjoying a Mia Tia.
Wednesday 13th September
After a day on the beach we joined the sunset Luau at Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort.
This traditional ceremony starts with the unearthing of the Kalua Pig from the underground oven where it has been cooking. A Luau is a Hawaiian feast with entertainment, traditional music and hula.
At sundown a conch shell sounds to signal that the feast is to begin. The dancing and entertainment reflects traditional songs and dances from across Polynesia and the pacific islands cultures of Tahiti, New Zealand, Samoa and Hawaii.
The entertainment was truly magnificent and ended with the exciting Samoan Fire Knife Dance.
What an evening under the stars and the swaying palms with the dramatic setting of the Pacific Ocean in the back ground. The entertainment, the dancing, the food, the people were all excellent. A Hawaiian night to remember and a great introduction to the Polynesian islands.
Thursday 14th September
Kailua-Kona is a town south of the airport on the west coast, in the region where the famous Kona Coffee beans are grown.
Back in the 1700’s the place was established as the seat of government and capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
Hulihe’e Palace – in the 1800’s the palace was built as a Governors residence but soon became a summer retreat for the Hawaiian royal family. The palace is now a museum and has had many of the original furnishings restored.
Moku’aikaua Church – Hawaii’s oldest Christian church. Missionaries from Boston brought Christianity to Hawaii when they arrived in Kailua-Kona in 1820.
Back in modern day Kailua it's a good town to go shopping for souvenirs along Ali’i Drive or at the local farmers market.
Heavy tropical rain stopped all sight-seeing and shopping activities. We had to take refuge from the rain in the Kona Brewing Company Pub.
As usual the tropical rain was dramatic but didn’t last long.
Friday 15th September
On our way to Waimea a town 18 miles away to the north.
Looks like the prairies.
Breakfast at the Hawaiian Style Café.
This is a local place that serves quality food at a reasonable price.
The pancakes are ginormous!
Back at Waikoloa Beach we explored some of the acres of gardens and landscaping around the resort.
Anchialine Ponds – brackish pools that form where depressions in the porous lava penetrate the underlying coastal water table. The water in the pools is a result of rainfall mixing with seawater. The pools are the habitat for rare red shrimp.
After all that exploring it was time for a drink.
The Lava Lava Beach Club - great beach-side atmosphere, lively with good food and friendly staff. The cocktails and sunsets were not bad either.
Saturday 16th September
The Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve
Amid the hotels and golf courses there is an ancient trail running along the lava bed called the Kings Trail. It is believed to have connected communities together. Along the trail are thousands of rock carvings. Our guide explained that many of the carvings are peculiar to Hawaiian families and only they can interpret the marking their ancestors made. He has gained a little insight from family members and was able to interpret some carvings. Messages may have been left along the trail to guide future generations or have some religious significance or represent family life, no one is totally sure. Some of the carvings are in 19th century style bible script, an indication of the influence from missionary teaching.
Sunday 17th September
Suzan dropped us off at Kona airport for our 1043 flight to Honolulu. We are very excited and looking forward to our three-day stay in Oahu. The airport is mostly open air and we sat outside while we waited for our 45-minute flight.
On arrival at Honolulu we booked Speed shuttle (29 dollars each return) to transport us to our hotel, Wyndham Royal Garden at Waikiki Beach. Our mini suite was on the 16th floor with an impressive view of downtown and from our small balcony there was a distant view of the ocean.
We spent the afternoon looking around the shops and the beach. Waikiki Beach was a very pleasant surprise. It does have the expected high-rise buildings and is busy, but the town Is very smart with plenty of high end shops and restaurants. The beach is two and a half miles long and is lined by hotel’s, but the sand is beautiful, and the sea is turquoise use blue with powerful surfing waves. We stopped off at Arnold's Tiki Bar for a drink. They didn't supply much in the way of food, just dogs and popcorn but we could bring food in. We went to one of the ABC stores and got a sandwich. These are great little shops that supply most of everything at a reasonable price. They are dotted about everywhere on Waikiki Beach in amongst the designer stores.
Roy's Restaurant. We had the set menu of three courses, all delicious, particularly the Lava pudding that oozed molten chocolate.
Monday 18th September
At 0630 we met our driver, Kona and boarded the bus for an Oahu Circle Island Tour with Discover Hawaii Tours – total cost $263.98
Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial
On arrival we went to the Road to War Museum which took us through nearly 100 years of history leading up to the attack. It begins in the middle of the 1800’s with Japans expansion into east Asia and concludes on the 6th December 1941.
Next to the Attack Museum that tells the story of the attack and starts on the morning of the 7th December 1941 and took us through to the end of the war.
The USS Arizona Memorial is a white memorial located in the middle of Pearl Harbor. It stretches the span of the sunken USS Arizona battleship but without touching it, and commemorates those who lost their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.
We boarded the boat operated by the US Navy to take us out to the memorial.
Inside the memorial is an entire wall with the names of the 1,177 sailors and marines who were killed when the battleship was bombed. Over 900 could not be recovered from the ship and remain on board.
The ship rests where she fell, submerged in the water.
Eight battleships were hit that day.
Many of the survivors of the USS Arizona have been interred with their shipmates.
After a very poignant start to the day, we traveled to the North Shore of the island.
he North Shore has beautiful surf beaches along Waimea Bay.
Around to the west and windward shore of the island we came to the town of Laie. Here a Mormon community was founded in 1864.
Kualoa Ranch. A private nature reserve and working cattle ranch. The terrain varies from rainforest to open valleys, steep cliffs to sea shore. They offer lots of outdoor adventures including ATV’s, ziplines, horseback riding and kayaks. Kualoa has also been used for many Hollywood movies, such as Jurassic Park, Peral Harbor and Godzilla
Panoramic views of the winward coast from Nu uanu Pali Lookout.
Halona Beach Cove where the renowned scene in the sand between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr was filmed in From Here to Eternity.
Hanauma Bay where Blue Hawaii was filmed.
Kona was very knowledgeable about the history of the island and Hawaiian culture. He had lots humorous anecdotes about people and places. He entertained us for the whole trip. It was a long (12 hours) but very enjoyable day of ever changing landscapes.
Our night view of Waikiki.
Tuesday 19th September
Wednesday 20th September
Good bye to Honolulu as we take our early morning flight back to Big Island.
Hilton Waikoloa Village just opposite our apartment has a pleasant walk through their oceanfront gardens along the Kohala Coast.
Thursday 21st September
Took a road trip along the north Kohala coast.
Historic sugarcane plantation towns are along this route and still have some of the original wooden buildings from their 19th century roots.
At the northern point of the island is Pololu Valley Lookout.
We came to the town of Waimea and stopped off at the Big Island Brewhaus for lunch. This the Hawaiian cowboy land. The home to cattle ranches and rolling pastures.
Statue of King Kamehameha, founder of the Kingdom of Hawaii, in the town of Kapaau, near to his birthplace.
Akaka Falls, north Hilo
Rainbow Falls in Hilo
We finished off a lovely site seeing day with a sundowner at the Lava Lava Bar with Peter and Suzan. Enjoyed some Hawaiian dancing as the sun went down.
Friday 22nd September
View over the lake from Roy’s restaurant in Waikoloa.
Saturday 23rd September
We made our way around the south of the island past the coffee growing area. On the way we stopped off at viewing points showing lava flows set down in the 19th century.
Evidence of where previous lava flows have reached the sea shore at Whittington Beach Park.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
At least 70 million years ago volcanos created the Hawaiian Islands chain. Today Kilauea and Mauna Loa are two of the worlds most active volcanoes, and still continue to add land to the island of Hawaii.
Travelling through the park we passed steaming vents and smelt sulphur in the air before coming to the Kilauea Caldera. From 1823 until 1924 the crater contained a lake of lava. In 1924 a series of steam explosions sent mud and ash thousands of feet into the air and doubled the width of the crater to half a mile. In 2008 an explosion started the current eruption and blasted a new crater in the floor of the caldera. A lake of lava reappeared, and clouds of caustic fumes were produced. Today the volcano was quiet and the colours of the lava are subdued, just floating clouds and rising steam.
Still near the crater our tour took us to an area of tropical rain forest. The National Parks Service take great care to protect the forest. They have placed fencing around the park to ensure invasive animals (introduced by humans) cannot enter. Over the years the rainforest and the unique animals and plants it shelters have diminished.
In the midst of the rain forest we entered the Thurston Lava Tube. This 500-year-old cave was discovered in 1913. It’s scary to think that hundreds of years ago a river of red lava rushed through this passage
Another night at the beach bar.
Sunday 24th September
Suzan and I joined a tour of the gardens around our apartment area taken by one of the resort staff. The trees, plants and flowers are so numerous and strikingly beautiful we were keen to know more. Here are just a few.
My favourite the Plumeria or Frangipani. Very fragrant, particularly at night but contact with sap can irritate the eyes or skin.
Another favourite, the Rainbow Shower Tree
Monday 25th September
Our last day in Hawaii. We spent the day by the pool soaking up the last rays of Hawaiian sun in these beautiful islands with a perfect climate, live volcanoes, lush rain forests, tropical flowers, beaches, surfing and nice people. What a treat we have had in this pacific paradise that has given us even more memories to cherish. Aloha!
Tuesday 26th September
We got the ‘red eye’ flight with United from Kona Airport direct to San Francisco that landed just after 5am. Met up with Simon, Ninette and the two dogs. They had driven Peter and Suzan’s jeep to the airport where we did a handover before they flew out to Hawaii for 10 days. Suzan and Peter took the dogs with them in the jeep back to the RV Park in Petaluma. We stayed on to have coffee with Simon and Nin before their flight and catch up with them about the last two weeks. We then got the 7:30 Sonoma Airport Express bus back to Petaluma.
Wednesday 27th September – 30th September.
Tony has been laid up for most of the week with a bad attach of gout which delayed our departure. Paid a visit to a local walk in medical centre, everyone was super friendly, and we came away with steroid pills and some other anti-gout drugs. The car has also been a little sick and had to pay a visit to the auto shop in town for a new half shaft, amongst other things. Peter and Suzan left on Friday, travelling south.