October 14, 2013

Wine Country and The Pacific Ocean: The RV Trip Rolls On

As part of our satisfying retirement Betty and I have been to California wine country before, at least the area most people think of when someone says wine and California: the Napa Valley and Sonoma. This is where the big boys play, wineries like Robert Mondavi, Beringer, Inglenook, and Chateau Montelena (Think the movie, Bottle Shock).
Tasting room at Tobin James Winery
But, there is another California wine country that is very different in attitude and scale; the area around Paso Robles. With near 200 wineries within a thirty mile radius this is the home of the smaller operators, the smaller vineyards, and the less pretentious tasting rooms. 

It is also home to stunning views and great wines at very reasonable prices. The rolling hills and the rural setting  reminds me much more of the Tuscany area of Italy than the Napa Valley. 

Robert Hall winery tasting patio

San Antonio winery

We stayed in the appropriately named Wine Country RV Park. Not surprisingly, there was one tasting room within a three minute walk of our parking spot, and another twenty within a 15 minute drive. While Betty and I are not big wine drinkers, it was fun to see the various types of tasting rooms, sample some of the local product, and check out the small gift stores that came attached to each.

Betty at one of the spas at the RV park.

Downtown Paso Robles is very attractive  Around a large, grassy, town square are dozens of restaurants, antique stores and wine shops. Bailey found all sorts of new places to sniff and new people to greet. She may be making progress in this area. Instead of acting scared of people and barking whenever someone new came into sight she either ignored them, or allowed herself to be petted and have her big floppy ears scratched.  

As has happened on all of our recent RV trips we had the chance to meet another person who has become a virtual blogging friend. Pam, a frequent commenter, lives in Paso Robles and  suggested we meet. Over hot chocolate and a Danish Betty and I had a delightful time sharing life experiences. 

Pam lives in a cohousing development in town and suggested a tour. I had written about this rather recent option for retirement living but now had the chance to see one in operation. It is a mix of single family homes and condos, walking paths, a common building for cooking, dining, meetings, and laundry. 

The weather turned cool with rain showers for our last day in town but that didn't stop our having a tremendous time in the area. Then, we were off to Morro Bay and Bailey's first chance to experience the ocean.

At 575 feet, Morro Bay Rock dominates the view from almost any part of town, along with the three towering smokestacks of the largely unused power plant built near the rock.

With the summer crowds gone, Morro Bay was quiet. On a Friday afternoon the waterfront area looked almost deserted, a few tourists looking for an open place for lunch and some locals making deliveries and painting a wall.

 Morro Strand RV Park is basically a parking lot, across the street from the city waste treatment plant and the power plant.

Pretty it is not but being only a block from the ocean made up for the obvious shortcomings. Bailey had plenty of places to sniff and roam and become friends with all the3 other dogs in the park.
Actually, we ended up with the best spot in the small park up against the back wall with shade and privacy. With most of the RVs in the park being much larger than ours we also benefited from plenty of shade when we wanted to use the chairs or picnic table.

There is a town bus pickup at the front entrance so we were able to "be local" and catch a ride to and from the downtown area.

Sunday morning we packed up and headed home. We have allowed ourselves five nights so we will take a leisurely route home, through Barstow and along the Colorado River near Parker, AZ before picking up the Interstate back to Scottsdale.

The highlights of the trip? Betty and I had the time and solitude to have some important conversations and sharing about our life together and how we wanted to enjoy our blessings to the fullest. And, Bailey gained new experiences and self confidence, making her less nervous around other people and situations.

For us RV travel is a chance to explore the country and deepen our love and relationship  And that makes it priceless.


  1. The pictures are always a treat! Happy Thanksgiving from Alberta, Canada. We didn't worry about getting in the shade; we warmed up by a fire between rounds of a game called bones or bunnock(?). I believe the bones capital is Macklin, Saskatchewan. We celebrated with family and friends, ate too much (pumpkin cheesecake) and watched the last of the leaves fall to the ground. It was very quiet yesterday - the farmers in the area have finished their harvesting or they were celebrating Thanksgiving. Safe travels home.

    1. So I just learned that Thanksgiving in Canada is on the second Monday in October and is meant to give thanks for what one has and the bounty of the year. I had no idea. Thanks, Mona, for helping me learn something new!

      We are on our way home--4 or 5 more days and then back to a very active fall and holiday season. The RV will be cleaned and put to bed until next Spring.

  2. I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed your trip to our area! It was great to see the California Central Coast through Betty's pictures & your words. Having lived in the area for a long time, I recognized the photos but saw them with new eyes through her lens. Meeting both of you was the best part; a wonderful treat for me; a bonus that you chose to come our way.

    I agree that the priceless part of travel is connection to the one you are traveling with.The chance to see new places is a side benefit and for those you meet, the chance to see their homes as visitors again creates new appreciation for everyone.

    Hope your drive home is also enjoyable and not too windy!


    1. We made it to Barstow after leaving Morro Bay. We took route 41/46 to the Bakersfield area. You are right about how curvy it is, but the scenery was pretty and it wasn't windy.

      You live in a beautiful part of California. We thoroughly enjoyed Paso Robles.

  3. I love seeing these pictures. We're still in the process of deciding about an RV. We've had a tent trailer for years and love it, but we are getting older. What made you decide on yours, and do you pull a car. What about going out after you're set up? Is it difficult or do you get everything before hand. Sorry to ask so many questions but that's how to get real answers. Oh, what make is it?

    1. Hi Christina,

      We decided on a 30 foot Four Winds Class C Majestic after renting one and finding it fit our needs, was easy to drive, and there was a large selection of used ones to choose from.

      We don't tow a car at the moment because neither of our cars can be towed 4 wheels down and I don't want a dolly. We will trade in one of the cars and get a towable one before our 3 month trip next summer.

      We stock up before we pull into a campground. If we are in the area for several days often we will rent a car so we can explore and not feel trapped at the campground. The towed car will make a big difference in our ability to really see an area.

      Any more questions...fire away!

  4. As always, the photos are gorgeous! It's interesting you mentioned how Bailey is getting better around strangers because we took our two wild ones to a B&B recently. It was in Cape May and the whole town is pretty much dog friendly. We even found a restaurant that is so dog friendly they have a menu just for them! To our delight and amazement they were so well behaved we began to wonder what happened to the crazy dogs we have at home! Maybe exposing them to the world more is really good for them.
    Glad you guys had a great trip...Bailey too.

  5. Love your travel posts, especially the ones from Oregon--ha! You and Betty (and Bailey) have really discovered a great way to travel. And that last photo is breathtaking!

  6. OH! LOVE this post! This is a part of the country Ken and I want to see.We are making great progress with our retirement plans! I did get my real estate license and I am working part time, enjoying the heck out of it. I am affiliated with a firm where I can partner up and when Ken and I want to take off and travel,can share business with a partner. Ken has a date, January 31, that's the last day of business!!!! We are investigating all our options..just chill for a while , get a small RV such as a Scamp or a Casita and visit places we've been wanting to see, we also just want to RELAX a whole lot and decompress!! --- and enjoy our cabin in the woods in Pine and our lovely home here in Gilbert (Ken is an avid gardener and has some nice plans for our property..) Ken is talking about taking guitar lessons.. we want to get stronger with our hiking.. it's an exciting time. Got off on a tangent,sorry--Betty's pictures are beautiful as always-- can't wait to see and hear more!


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