The Happy Janssens

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Monday
Feb222010

Ocean Views

After leaving Santa Cruz, we headed up to San Francisco for a few days to see some of our favorite sites. Finding a reasonably priced campground in the Bay area is next to impossible. When we stayed here the first time around, we camped at Half Moon Bay for $25 a night with no hookups. They've now increased it to $50. So we figured for a few dollars extra, we'd get full hookups closer to the city at Pacifica's San Francisco RV Resort. It's certainly a humorous name for the park, because it's just a parking lot with electrical posts. However, it does happen to be right on the ocean...so they can call it whatever they want. Here is the view from the front of the RV:

We loved watching the waves and light change throughout the day. We would get up in the morning and just stand out there and stare into forever. God's creation is so awe-inspiring. How can you not just give praise to the Creator when you are surrounded by such beauty?

We only spent one day touring around the city but we packed a lot in! Our first stop was the Exploratorium...which just happened to be FREE on the day that we went. Yay! It was unbelievebly busy, but worth it. Bella had a blast...and so did we.

After that we headed over to a store I had seen numerous times on Apartment Therapy and I just had to go there...Rare Device. In their own words...it is "a place to promote designers, artists and artisans plus help them grow by taking on new projects and collaborations. Every object in the store has its own story, and has been chosen because it is either handmade, well-designed, useful, beautiful or all of the above." Now that's my kind of store. It was a fun surprise to see a friend's jewelry on display. Check her site out here...love love love her work!

Next, on to Cafe Gratitude, one of our very favorite raw restaurants. If you have never been there, Cafe Gratitude is all about the love. It's a wonderful, positive environment and the staff is always very laid back and helpful. The location we like the best, near the Golden Gate Park, was permanently closed...so we went to the Castro location. Matt had raw pizza, Bella has steamed red rice and raw "cheese" and I had the sushi bowl...a dish that I CRAVE! So good.

Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf were next on our list. It's SO touristy, but we love it and we really had our hearts set on seeing the sea lions again. We were so disappointed when they weren't there! Boo. But we had fun riding the carousel, gazing at Alcatraz & the big boats, and eating fudge.

To end the evening, we headed to our favorite Thai restaurant in the city...Marnee Thai. It's a tiny little restaurant and it's always busy. The food is PERFECTLY delicious. Probably one of the best Thai restaurants in the country. And believe me, we've been to enough of them to know. :) In case you haven't noticed, it's kind of "our thing".

One of our days in the Bay area was spent doing a photo session with a sweet family...and on our way back to the campground, our fuel pump went out. Luckily, Matt was able to pound on it good enough to get us back home. But we were unable to use our tow vehicle for a couple of weeks after that. We didn't end up fixing it until after we came back from Christmas in January (when Matt was able to get the part and do it himself).

It was a fun stay...but we were glad to head south. We were getting so excited to fly back home to the Midwest for Christmas!

Photos from San Francisco here.
Photos are available for comment on Flickr.

 

Sunday
Feb212010

The Magical Redwoods

"And whatever you do, don't take Bear Creek Road."

In hindsight, it would have been wise to read through Sarah's email more carefully before we headed into the Redwoods on Thanksgiving day. We ended up following the GPS instead of her directions and it took us on a rather precarious ride! Let's just say that a 40 foot RV towing a truck does not do well on hairpin turns with oncoming traffic flying by on the other side.

We ended up getting stuck on a turn with one wheel in the ditch. Several police were involved (to help block traffic) and about 30 other vehicles who were trying to get around us and get to their Thanksgiving dinners. I'm sure they were super happy with us. It's the first time I've been in tears over any situation on the road. Our lives were never in danger...but it was startling to say the least. We ended up with just a cracked windshield from the way the RV was twisted. We landed at such an extreme angle that it was hard to walk from the front of the RV to the back.

God sent angels that day to help us...one who was able to get our truck unhooked with great force while Matt stayed at the wheel and one who led us with his truck to the other side of the mountain. We are forever thankful for those helpers who graciously gave up time on their holiday to help strangers.

After such an intense beginning to our day, we were all rather emotionally burned out before we even arrived at our destination. But once we pulled up to camp* and I saw Sarah waving me in with her sleeve tattoos and her cute little red glasses, I knew it would be wonderful regardless of how we got there. We got settled into our campsite...down into the HUGE redwoods (see us waaaay back in there?). It's one of our favorite spots we've parked in the whole country. Ahhhhhh....I can smell the green moss and mushrooms now.

We spent the afternoon and evening with their extended family and many friends who came over for Thanksgiving. It was so nice to have a warm, inviting place to be for the holidays. Even though we couldn't be with our own families, we felt right at home.

The rest of our days there were filled with lives shared. Discussions about Jesus, parenting, unschooling, ministry, travel, worship, food, authenticity, and the blog world. We laughed, watched movies, sat by the fire, explored in the forest, walked together through Santa Cruz, enjoyed a fabulous farmer's market, gathered eggs, knitted, went to church, and shared meals. The girls played and played and played. We never wanted it to end.

This is an amazing family..truly like no other. They are artists. They have fabulous rituals. They know who they are and why they do things. They are speaking wisdom into other's lives. They are making a difference for eternity and living sacrifcially. We learned so much from them in the short time that we were there and we can't wait to be reunited...someday. Eric, Sarah, Ocean, Ellibella, and Phoenix...we love you guys!

We spent Sunday afternoon by ourselves exploring Santa Cruz. It's a BEAUTIFUL town, with fun shops, unique restaurants...and surfers! I could seriously sit and watch surfers all. day. long. I love it. Bella loves being in the ocean as well and she ran free at Natural Bridges State Beach...chasing Daddy and getting sand in her toes. We also walked the monarch trail and saw all of the monarchs coming out of their coccoons!

So many of you ask us where our favorite stop has been so far...definitely the Redwoods!

Photos from the Redwoods here.
Photos are available for comment on Flickr.

*For privacy purposes, I have omitted the name of the camp that Eric and Sarah run. If you are interested, please contact me directly for more information. I need to screen out the internet creepers :)

Friday
Feb192010

Gimme Some Eugene

Ahhhhh....Eugene. Nothing is quite like it. We spent 2 weeks in Eugene while we got our first Alpine converted to run veggie and fell in love with the city. Last time, we were there in May, so the weather was beautiful. We rode the trails, played in the parks, went on walks...but not this time. It rained. And rained. And rained. Apparently Eugene in October has a little bit of an attitude problem. But that didn't stop us from having fun.

Since the time we did our first conversion, we have become good friends with Clark, the owner of Green Eye Auto. So this time, we parked our rig right in his backyard to do the conversion instead of at his shop. It was an added bonus that he and his lovely wife Kimberly have THREE girls. And a playhouse. Bella was in heaven.

Matt did the conversion by himself this time...with Clark overseeing and mentoring him along the way. Matt is now a trained mobile installer for Green Eye...so if you've been wanting to convert your diesel to veggie oil...let us know!

We had the opportunity to meet up with another online friend, Bethany and her husband Jordan. We hung out a lot with their family...going out for pizza, coffee, doing photo sessions, going to church (Eugene Christian Fellowship). Such fun. Bethany is the sweet mama who owns One Love Creations (amazing hemp clothing!).

We also met her friend Gillian, who owns Indigo Inspired, another lovely hemp clothing shop. It was so inspiring being around these mamas who create such beautiful clothing and do it sustainably. My wardrobe is now blessed with their artistry!

Monica and her kiddos were passing through town while we were there on their way to see family in Texas, so I got to spend a few more hours with them. She had just gotten her hair dreaded with Stephanie at Akemi. The same salon I had just been to a few days before. Such a small world!  Everyone is connected in some way or another.

We loved exploring around town...even in the rain. The Saturday Market was always a hit with tons of organic yumminess and hand crafted clothes and art. In my opinion, it's one of the best markets in the country. Govinda's Vegetarian Cafe made us BEYOND happy with it's all you can eat buffet of Indian delights. They had a terrific salad bar and this coconut curry that was addicting. There are many yummy Thai restaurants and the coffee is good and plentiful. There are so many quirky and fun shops and restaurants in Eugene, along with the standard chains like Trader Joe's, Costco, etc.

There are a lot of people who ask if Eugene is a place where we would like to live...and honestly, I do love it. I just wish it didn't rain so much! We would love to visit during the summer/fall when it's gorgeous weather every day. Eugene is so close to the unbelievably beautiful Oregon ocean beaches...and to Portland. There are cool people. Lots of organic, local food. And it's full of people who question the norm. What's not to love?

Here is a list of places we enjoyed in Eugene:

The sun came out the day we were leaving...of course. We finished up the final details of the conversion, and headed towards Santa Cruz, CA...where the Redwoods were calling our name!

Photos of Eugene here.
Photos are available for comment on Flickr.