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Here We Go!

Camping in a redwod forest, Cotilian Gardens; Felton CA, to visit the Cohelan family in Santa Cruz, Jan’s sister and her family, then a quick stop in Los Angeles to team up with Judi, Flash Buddy’s sister, then heading north with reservations at Camp Comfort Ojai | Emma Wood Ventura | Morro Bay State Park | Hammersky Vineyards Paso de Robles

Blowing a Tire

We RV’rs hear about China Bombs, tires that blow up on you. I think we hope it never happens to us but have that concern in the back of our minds. Our rig was rolling on a set of factory installed Westlake tires. Research will show one that they are no better or worse than any other tire out there, though there are Facebook experts that will tell you differently.

I keep my towing speed at 65 MPH or lower. Sure, I’ll jam it up to 75 to pass when needed (rarely). Trailer tires have speed rating and our Westlakes are rated for 75, so no issues there.

How It Happened

Crusing up Los Angeles’ Mulholland grade on the 405 Freeway and stressing about the interchange to the 101 coming up we hear a very loud “WHAP BAM” and feel the thump as the tire’s tread suddenly detaches, ripping out or decorative fender and marker light wiring in the process. “Wow, its happening to me – I gotta get over” I’m thinking. Lucky for me Jan Baby mostly travels with angels and sure enough a wide breakdown lane was immediately available to my right.

Getting out to access the damage, I chose to get our roadside assistance, State Farm on the phone immediately. “I”m sorry sir, we have no record of that VIN number. Are you sure you added roadside to your policy?” Of course I’m sure! What, you think I’d plan to travel all over the country and not have roadside assistance in place.

Not being a very patient customer I hung up the phone and started plotting plan B. Meanwhile, Jan Baby is calling her angels, she has them on speed dial. A chill goes down my spine as a tow truck magically appears and parks directly in front of us.

The Fix Was In
A very pleasant gentleman, dressed in a super safety highway vest comes over to Jan’s window and asks us if we would like some help. Once we explain the situation he asks me to get the spare while he jacks up the rig and removes the damaged tire. After replacing the damaged tire he assesses the torn wiring and goes right to work repairing it.


Changing the Tire

Repairing the Wiring

 

 

Meet Judi and New Tires

My sister Judi has worked in the auto industry her entire life. She was the responsible one in the family; no windsurfing,  no skiing, definately no hockey. Her guilty pleasure was a million dollar motor home (we RV’rs call those “Class A”), which she paid off! Judi got on the phone and had us booked into a local San Fernando Valley tire shop the next morning. A few hours laters we had a set of Carslile tires on the trailer AND a set of Goodyear Wrangler Trail Runner tires on the truck.

Jan, Judi, Randy and Flash

Baja Fogs with the Fritz Family. Check out Neil’s Man Cave by the pool.

Emma Wood – What a Babe!

Jan is Happy

We camped at Camp Comfort in Ojai with Judi and her group of friends for several nights. This park is a small yet beautiful campground in the Los Padres National Forrest with full hookups, shade trees and the cutest camp host your ever going to meet. But hey, it’s not the beach so off we went, down the mountain and straight into Ventura and Emma Wood State Beach Park! You should have seen the smile on Jan’s face as she looked at me and said; “I’m happy!” Camping right on the bluff at the oceans edge with its sights and sounds made for, to this point, the best camping experience we’ve ever had.

Morro Bay

State Park Campground in the eucalyptus forest, in the fog, in the dirt. It’s definitely in a cool location – lots of interesting things in and around Morro Bay. We used it as a base for coastal explorations; our old home and stomping grounds of Cambria, our favorite windsurfing beach Arroyo Laguna and more.

 

Morro Rock and the Harbor

Photo: Flash Alexander

 

405 Dorset Street

Photo: Jan Alexander

Cambria

We started our windsurfing careers and more importantly started raising our family in Cambria. Check out our house at 405 Dorset Street. Looks like somebody else is taking great care of it 🙂 Check out our photos from our drive north on HWY 1 to the San Simeon lighthouse. Damn elephant seals have taken over!

Hammersky Vineyards

Hammersky is a botique winery near Paso Robles California. They are also a “Harvest Host”. Harves Hosts offer free camping for one to two nights if you make some kind of a donation. This location had us purchase a wine tasting and either a glass or bottle of wine. We had a great time there. The following is my take on the experience and photos Jan and I shot during our time there.

Have you been to Hammersky Vineyards near Paso Robles, CA? Did you partake in their wine tasting? Well, if you booked it as a Harvest Hosts stop you had to; that’s how it works. If you did I want to hear about your wine tasting experience. You see, I haven’t done any wine tasting since the late 70’s and think things may have changed since then.

We signed up online through Harvest Hosts. We had to pay a very modest $10.00 per person plus tax for wine tasting and we added the $21 Charcuterie board.

| History and Etymology for charcuterie
| French, literally, pork-butcher’s shop,
| from Middle French chaircuiterie,
| from chaircutier pork butcher, from chair cuite cooked meat.

I’m not a very good tourist. I’m always suspicious; thinking I’m getting ripped off in some fashion or another. It was with said suspicion that I made this reservation. We’ve stayed at Harvest Hosts locations before. While it sounds like a very cool free place to stay, it generally costs as much as a normal campground; around $50 and up. So, I wasn’t surprised or taken aback by the initial price tag of $43.46. Again, due to my suspicious nature and the fact that I had heard others who have stayed here were required to purchase three bottles of wine! Well, the host points out how that requirement is a myth:

“We require that you please make a tasting reservation once you book your stay.
Contrary to reviews, there is no 3 bottle minimum purchase.”

Our wine tasting hostess let us know that we would have to purchase either a glass or bottle of wine. I’m still good here, as long as bottles of wine don’t go for $50.00 and over! You guessed it, bottles of wine started at $50 and went up to $135.00! Lucky for me, my wife wanted the $19.00 glass of EXTRACTION (no vintage date), “80% Syrah and 20% Petite Sirah, full-bodied black fruit backed by leather finish”. I’m still good at $58.46.

This winery is drop dead gorgeous! Their fifty acres are absolutely the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. HammerSky has done a lot to make their property an asset in the community. They have purposed the barn for weddings, I saw an album of wedding photos that were amazing. They have a flat wide field for us campers (no hookups – dry). The wine tasting area is very well thought out. They have two levels, an upper level of picnic tables and small tables with retro metal chairs, and alsop comfy couches, a lower level with Adirondack chairs with small tables between them; all the areas come under the cover of one or more trees, umbrella and or sunshade sails overhead. Sit in the sun, or the shade; I’m a shade guy 😃 You can easily walk the 100 yards over the hill on a dirt road between the grape vines from the camp field to the tasting room. Bathrooms are provided near the barn and tasting room. Are you feeling me here? You want to check this out and see for yourself; am I right?

Back to the wine tasting. We were given two logo glasses (we didn’t get to keep them), a adorable glass bottle of water with two small plastic cups. The Charcuterie board wasn’t a board at all, but rather a small plastic deli pack of Charcuterie kind of stuff; cheese, meat, fruit. I think I saw them at the nearby Albertsons for $5.95, but l’m still good here. I understand markup and making a living, though I thought they could have dumped it out on a board. That would have made some kind a presentation at least.

Our hostess poured a finger of our first wine into our glass while expounding upon its merits with adjectives such as “jamie, complex, fruit forward – along with sounds effects such as “Ummm, Ooooo, Ahhh”. New wines were poured over the remnants of the previous wines. Back in my youth we got a new glass for each new wine. Do they no longer do this? I learned that if you eat a piece of cheese, meat or fruit between sips your wine will explode with new flavor experiences. I tried it, nothing changed. I had to curtail this method to make my Charcuterie last to the final wine.

Was the wine any good? How the heck would I know. I didn’t keep notes for the first half – The pen and wine notes list didn’t come until the second half. Anyway, I’m the $16.00/bottle Costco guy. There was a time I managed a restaurant with an amzaing wine selection. I read all the wine periodicals I could get my hands on and was lucky to have not only experienced fine wine tastings, but componet tasting too. For you new to the world of fine wines, component tasting teaches you to identify the various component that go into making a wine. When a wine is described as having hints of this or that, or this aroma, or that finish, you know what specific component is creating it. Earthy | Tannin | Fruit Forward | Tart | Stoney| Toasty etc. Most of the wines offered were not varietals, rather blends. A little Zinfandel, a little Pinot Noir, a little this, a little that… I’m a serious varietal kind of drinker. I like to compare one Merlot to another. How can you compare one blend wine to another?

It was hard to determine if it was all kabuki theatre or the real deal. At Costco and my local liquor store I’m given scores of how a particular wine fared at local, state and national wine festivals. The wines we sipped (though I prefer quaffing) came with no scores. I had to take the word of my hostess. The wine labels appeared to have been printed with a quality laser printer on some of the finest blue card stock available, then expertly cut and gluled to the bottle. Though to be fair, their bottle of 2018 Vampire [Rare bourbon barrel-aged of 78% Merlot, 15% Zinfandel and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon with cherry burst with a warm smoke finish] had a beautiful glossy and embossed label. I think at $103.00/bottle it should! Still, even at $50.00/bottle, laser printed cardstock? I may be wrong. They may have found a local printer to do the job. well, at least the labels were on very straight.

Checking out was a mess. Our hostess nervously tried to bill us an additional thirty dollars. She said wine tastings are $25 and since we paid $10 we owed and additonal $30.00 (plus tax). The DW pulled the reciept she had kept in her purse and showed it to her to set the record straight. Phew, dodged a bullet there. My wife is organized that way.

Was this place worth it? In a word; “YES!”. We’re sharing the field with five other Harvest Hosters, all delightful people. The peace and quite, space and soul soothing views won’t ever be forgotten. The four miles of winding road in was an amazing experience too. In summary, five stars for the stay and two stars for the wine tasting.

BTW – The alpaca farm we stayed at cost of $68.00, but at least they provided 30 AMP service and my wife has a wonderful pair of mittens she knitted from the yarn we scored 😃

The Cruz

Santa Cruz California, and home to the Cohelan family. Jan Baby’s sister Sondra, her husband Terry and the kids Sean and Bryony. Oh, Sean fell in love and Married Laura 🙂

Jan spent a lot of time in Santa Cruz. She even lived with her sister and her family prior to attending the University of Santa Cruz.

So Much to See & Do

Banana Slug in a redwood forest when running through Henry Cowels Redwoods State Park with Sean – Cotillion Gardens RV Park – Camping in the Redwoods of Felton California was amazing. Dinners and Fogs with the Cohelans. Sondra is an amazing cook.

Bundt Cake Decorated Fence

This shot embodies how I (Flash) percieve Santa Cruz and the surrounding areas.

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