It’s been a long time since I’ve had the time to write on Laid Back Dad, a very long time! The reason I have time now is I happen to be on the road for work and have no obligations tonight, code for I’m old and sleeping on a Friday night is actually an appealing option. Having time to write is nice but it also means I’m away from home and family, which is tough.
It’s odd that when at home and “busy” it seems like there is never time to do enough with my wife/son/dog and once I’m away for 24 hours I miss them so quickly it’s nutty. Seeing people with their kids walking around, at restaurants, grocery shopping… makes me wonder why I don’t appreciate these moments as much when they’re happening…
I started writing this on Feb 6th and just saw it incomplete in the draft box now. It’s been an even longer time and the feelings I started getting down are still there. It’s a short one but it’s nice to get a post up, even if it’s not complete.
A good nights sleep in the Westy at the KOA Costanoa and we’re back on the road heading down the Coast. Barely on the road 15 minutes and we were already pulling off of HWY1 into Swanton Berry Farm since I had been craving Pie for a couple of days. This place was very cool and the karma led us to one of the best Strawberry Shortcakes on the planet! To add to the uniqueness of this stop was the fact that they had a Honor Till in an unmanned store, there is still trusting people in this world and that is very refreshing. This is a must stop if traveling this route, must stop!
This drive along the coast through California is beautiful and this clear sunny day was perfect for it. Our trusty VW Westfalia camper has been holding up well and the twisty coast roads definitely taxing it’s 90hp engine.
When traveling on a long road trip with a baby and a dog you need leave lots of wiggle room in your “schedule” for changes of plans. We were starting to realize that our Portuguese Water Dog Zucca hadn’t had any real exercise in a few days and this breed needs to burn off energy regularly. We had been told by someone in passing that the beach in Carmel was one of the few in California that allowed dogs, so we made sure to stop there when passing through. Zucca went bananas and made a few doggie friends on the beach while Archer did his own thing.
One of the key destinations when we planed this trip was Big Sur California and unfortunately we ended up there on a weekend. We called ahead to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and they said they were sold out but informed us there could be spots due to cancellations. When we showed up there it seemed like we lucked out and were given a spot, but upon arrival at camp site 58 it was essentially in the parking lot of a variety store. This park didn’t live up to our expectations, I think it’s popularity has caused it to be over populated and worn out. We did a U-Turn and changed our plan with sites set on San Luis Obispo. I must add that the drive through Big Sur is breathtaking.
After a couple more hours on the road and a few pit stops along the way we rolled into San Louis Obispo a little after dark. Using Trip Advisor to find a hotel downtown we ended up at the Garden Street Inn and were greeted by a very friendly host. We love this town and can’t wait to spend some more time here.
Do you really need a sterilizer, can’t you just boil bottles? Yup, but it’s a pain in the ass! Just spend some money and buy a stand alone sterilizer, it’s worth it. To be honest we chose the Philips Avent 3-in-1 Sterilizer because it looked the least bulky for our limited amount of counter space and it turned out to be a great value.
With 2 separate compartments for the bottles and all the other bits pieces and parts we found this baby gadget to be a huge help, especially in the early days of bottle feeding when you need several a day. We would was our bottles and dry them on the Boon Lawn and once we had a few piled up they would get thrown in the sterilizer for a set it and forget it sterilizing, so easy. The white Boon Lawn and the Sterilizer look great together on the counter.
We chose to avoid the dishwasher type since I don’t trust all the chemicals from the soap would be removed and you’re at the mercy of your dish washing cycles. We also stay clear from anything that goes in a microwave because I just don’t trust the “science oven”. The Avent Sterilizer just sits there ready to do it’s job whenever we need it.
The only 2 flaws that we found was the Evenflo 8 oz bottles that we started using at around 12 months were a little too tall to stand up straight so we had to sterilize them on a bit of an angle. Don’t lie them down or water will puddle. The second issue we had was some slight warping of the base in the section that holds the bottles. We did have a replacement warranty but it wasn’t bad enough to bother replacing it.
Gualala was a great relaxing camping find, we would recommend it to anyone heading down the coast.
Today was dedicated to mostly travel and taking advantage traveling through a city and getting some free wifi to communicate with home and work.
We b-lined it to Petaluma and set up shop in a Panera simply based on the fact they had free wifi. I hung out with Archer and did some work on the laptop while Connie took the opportunity to get her hair washed and blow dried at a salon, a little bit of luxury after “roughing it”.
While in Petaluma you must stop at one of the coolest craft breweries in North America, Lagunitas Brewing Company. This is great stop if you like craft beer, they also have a ton of merchandise that makes it easy to spend your hard earned. If you can plan ahead it would be awesome to check out a band at their LaguMiniamphitheater.
We headed south in the VW Westfalia and traveled across a the Golden Gate Bridge and passed through San Francisco although we decided not to stop. We chose to not stop in major cities that we have been to before or figured we would return to at some point in the next few years, San Fran was one of those.
We ended our day at the KOA Costanoa in Pescadeno California. This was a very interesting KOA that was part of a resort which included a fancy hotel and restaurant. Since we arrived fairly late we decided take advantage of the Cascade Restaurant and we ended up with a fantastic meal backed up with great service. Overall this was a nice resort with a great view and had very clean facilities, reminiscent of a higher end hotel. You will pay a premium to stay here.
Well we had a great stay at the Willits KOA including a chance to relax in the hot tub before making breakfast and hitting the road. As would be expected with a 1 year old, trips to the hot tub happen in shifts but are still worth the effort. Now that the labour day weekend has passed we anticipate easier access to campsites like we experienced at Willits KOA. Off we go!
From Willits we headed over to Fort Bragg and made a left on Highway 1 towards Elk California for a late lunch stop at Queenies Roadhouse. This place is a great little restaurant that was very busy for a weekday and for good reason, the food was delicious and the service was great.
After a tasty lunch we hit the highway southbound along another stretch of beautiful coastal driving. We were pushing the limits of time a 1 year old will tolerate his car seat and decided to stop for the night at Gualala Point Regional Park.
This small park is part of Sonoma County Regional Parks and although small with only 19 spots it was a great find. The campground portion of the park is covered with very cool Laurel Trees which we have never seen before and it sits alongside the Gualala River which is almost entirely dried up this time of year.
We went for a 5km hike to the beach on the Pacific Ocean which turned out to be a little further than anticipated. It was kind of cool to walk on the dried up riverbed which Archer and Zucca both enjoyed. One interesting thing to mention here is the signs for “sleeper waves” which apparently can sneak up and carry you out into the Ocean, be safe kids.
Camping mid week after the kids are back in school makes for some peaceful camping. We made a nice big campfire for warmth while we made dinner on the Primus. Full of food and a sleepy baby, life is good.
Volkswagen Camper Sightings:
Accommodation Cost: $41.00 including firewood and dog fee (odd)
Cape Blanco Oregon is a pretty nice place to wake up, a little bit cool and foggy but very nice. Nothing an early morning campfire can’t cure.
We decided to spend the morning at Cape Blanco and go for a hike to the lighthouse. Before a big hike you need a big breakfast, Connie was on chef duty this morning.
Of course when traveling on a road trip with a baby you need to factor in time for naps. Archer loved the Volkswagen Westfalia and was quick to nap on the comfy bed before our hike.
We hiked to the lighthouse and back which is about 2km each way. We took the trails through the park on the way there and on the way back we walked down the beach. We had the whole beach to ourselves so our Portuguese Water Dog Zucca got to run off leash and burn off some energy. Some pictures of Cape Blanco…
We had a great time in Oregon, now off to California. We had our first bout of bad luck when we got to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, the park was sold out so we had to stay at Hiouchi RV Resort down the road. Hiouchi is a pretty plain park with not much to review, at least they had wifi…in some spots. Sleep
Loved the Historic Anchor Inn! Such a fun place with nice owners and it even included a real breakfast for the $89 a night rate. Our server was super nice and even brought in peaches from her tree at home to included in our breakfast.
After breakfast and a lazy start we were on the road to Cape Blano Oregon. We chose Cape Blanco based on advice from some fellow Westfalia owners on TheSamba.com a website forum dedicated classic Volkswagens. Since Cape Blanco is a first come first serve campsite we decided to head straight there and try and snag a spot. We did make a quick stop in Newport Oregon at Rogue brewing, unfortunately there’s nothing exciting to report.
Blah blah blah beautiful scenery blah blah Oregon is amazing. Since picking up Archer and Connie this was the longest drive day so far, arriving in Cape Blanco in about 5 hours.
We managed to get a good spot across from the entrance to one of the Cape Blanco walking trails. We set up the Westfalia and got started on dinner. I think I have mentioned the Primus Firehole a few times but haven’t mentioned the MSR Flex-4 System cook set, it’s been awesome and saves a lot of room in the VW camper. We used them both and cooked up some tasty vittles before a camp fire and bed.
Another shameless product plug is the Phil and Ted’s Lobster seat that archer is sitting in (below) attached to a picnic table. This thing is super solid and fits every table we tried it on not to mention it packs down flat taking up little space in the Westfalia camper van. It’s a must for traveling parents with a baby or toddler on a road trip.
We got a good nights sleep considering we stayed in a parking lot at the Cannon Beach RV Resort. The laundry facilities were handy and we’re starting off the day with a Westfalia full of clean clothes.
The drive down the coast in Oregon is beautiful but unlike California the road doesn’t always follow right along the coast line. We headed south towards Tillamook arriving in a little over an hour at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. This place is a tourist attraction in it’s truest form and they have done a great job at it. We had some tasty cheese, took some pictures in their VW bus display and ended it off with some delicious ice cream.
After filling up on dairy products we bought a souvenir Tillamook VW bus and some handy individual packages of Tillamook cheddar for the fridge. Back on the Highway 1 we headed south into Tilamook to search for a barber shop to get a much needed shave. We stumbled upon a cool looking place called Bob’s Barber Shop and thankfully Bob could fit me in. This is a great spot that I would recommend if you’re heading south down the Oregon Coast.
Next stop just south of Tillamook was the Tillamook Air Museum which is housed in a very impressive building originally constructed as a base for Military Air Ships (Blimps). This structure is the largest wooden building in America and it really is a must see if you’re in the area. The planes in the Museum are interesting but for me the building stole the show, it’s huge!
Our next stop was Pacific City for lunch at Pelican Pub & Brewery. The restaurant is located right on the beach so after lunch we had a chance to take Zucca and Archer to the beach for first time on the trip.
Letting a baby and dog play in the water and sand made for a pretty good mess in the Westfalia.
Before we left for the trip Archer just started walking at 11 months. His confidence is increasing very quickly and he has already started climbing around the van. Gotta keep a close eye on the baby.
We hoped to stay in Pacific City but the local accommodations didn’t work for us so we headed south. It was getting a little late and Archer was getting a little fussy so we decided to pull into the next place we saw. Well they didn’t allow dogs so we went to the next, next place which turned out to be awesome luck. The Historic Anchor Inn was one of the most unique hotels we’ve ever seen and it’s a must stay if traveling in the area. Check out their gallery to get the vibe. This was a fantastic day, time for rest.
We woke up at Sasquatch Provincial Park to a beautiful morning and packed up early to hit the road. Instead of making breakfast we decided to head out and grab something in town en-route.
Before leaving Connie found a list of the best Ice Cream shops in Canada and one happened to be on our route to Victoria in Abbotsford BC. It was only 10 in the morning but stopping at the Birchwood Dairy seemed like a great idea. It’s a cool operating farm in the country that includes a petting zoo, antique tractors and a retail shop featuring dairy products, baked goods and of course ice cream.
One thing that we tried to do was pack light but when heading on a road trip with a baby and a dog it’s not simple task. We realized quickly that we had brought stuff we simply wouldn’t use. Before we left the country we decided to hit up the UPS store in Surrey and ship some stuff home. We had a great experience dealing with the owner of the store Jasbir Mehta who took the time to help us get packed up, if you need some shipping done hit these guys up.
We headed over to the catch the ferry to Victoria and learned that we should of made reservations. Our karma kicked in we were one of the last cars squeezed on, whew. The ferry ride is very scenic and we used the opportunity to have a late lunch in the restaurant, mmm lunch.
We headed straight for Goldstream Provincial Park to check in for the night. Given that it was a Friday we discovered that there was 1 spot left and it was slotted in with a group of folks that we didn’t feel would be ideal neighbors with a baby. We headed back to the gate and just as we were handed our refund a lady came to the gate declaring camping wasn’t for them and they were leaving early, we snapped up her spot which turned out to be one of the better ones at Goldstream. Karma!
Goldstream offered some great hiking so we loaded Archer up in the kid carrier back pack thing and went for a hike around the park. After our hike we did dinner and hit the hay. Well before that Connie did manage to get lost and ended being guided back to our site by some wine filled ladies.
As mentioned yesterday we ran into some problems with the Westfalia late in the day, it started making a disturbing creaking noise when going over bumps. We stayed at a hotel to regroup and get some internet access to find a shop. Luckly we found Axel’s Auto Service on Road Haus (Link) who opened at 8:30 am. With a call to them in the morning they said they would try and squeeze us in to assess the situation. So far we’re having good karma.
Well once on the highway things seemed to be OK as long as we stayed off the bumps. After a tense 40 minute drive we pulled into Axel’s and met Axel sitting at the counter. I’m starting to learn people in the VW business have unique personalities and Axel was no different, in a good way. Turns out we had lost a bolt in the sway arm that was causing the noise. Luckily they had a scrapped front end sitting around back and they scavenged the parts needed off of it instead of having to wait the weekend for a part to come in, Karma! We were back on the road within an hour and everything seems back to normal. They did mention my brakes seemed to need servicing but they couldn’t fit it in, that’s reassuring for the coastal drive ahead.
Since we were unsure of how long we would be in Kamloops we didn’t really make any plans but since we got back on the road so quickly (10am) we decided to head towards Hope BC and see how far we got.
Hope appeared sooner than we thought and we learned at the tourist information center that Rambo was filmed there, how awesome is that?
The nice folks at the tourist info centre recommended Sasquatch Provincial Park which was 30 minutes south. It’s one of those places that just when you think you’re lost and gone too far it’s right there. The park operates on a partial reservation system which means some sites are first come first serve and did we ever luck out. When the ranger came around and chatted with us he said of the 100+ sites we had scored the best one, Karma! Our spot was lakefront with a beautiful view out our bedroom window. Check my review of Sasquatch Provincial Park here.
After setting up our gear and converting the Westfalia for sleep we broke out the Primus camp stove and cooked up a Quinoa and Veggies recipe that Connie had found online. I was skeptical at first but it turned out to be very tasty and simple to make. We went for a walk along the water and let Archer play for a bit on the new playground that was close by. Bed time comes quickly when you’ve had a long day.