Week 27: Wineries, Breweries and River Tubing in Russian River, California

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I’m back.

I’ve had a two week break from our weekly blog wrap and from Goldie (our RV) and we are back camping by a gorgeous river, the Russian River, 90 miles north of San Francisco.

I made a commitment when we left on this USA road trip to write a wrap up blog post each week sharing our highlights, lessons and travel costs.

For 24 weeks I was consistent – showing up and getting it done even when I didn’t want to.

All the times I didn’t want to was because of laziness, which is no excuse for not showing up.

However, for the time we spent in Yosemite National Park and San Francisco I decided to skip it.

I made the decision, not because I was being lazy but because I knew I had reached my limit and I was about to self-combust.

I was exhausted and had so many other priorities begging for attention – out exploring Yosemite all day every day for 4 days, planning for 8 nights in San Francisco, trying to find places to store Goldie (our RV) and the Beast (our F250), managing an insane workload and publishing deadlines, and planning accommodation for the Pacific Northwest through summer.

It was too much for me to cope!

Lower Yosemite Falls

I hate breaking a commitment but I knew it was impacting on other more important areas and my limit was reached.

I felt it was okay to postpone these two weekly posts as we were staying in hotels (so no RV lifestyle, which is the main focus of the post) and our blog post guides to Yosemite and San Francisco would be published not long after.

So the community wins anyway and I got time to ensure I don’t fall apart.

The Bay Bridge in San Francisco

It’s okay to take care of you.

It’s something I struggle with as I only typically operate in fifth gear and I feel like I can take care of everything.

Saying no is often taking care of everything.

Do you know when you’ve reached your limits? Are you brave enough to say no?

I’m thinking of ways I can better manage this wrap up post as it does consume a lot of my time. Because of this I can’t get many of our specific travel destination posts published, our RV posts that will help you embrace this lifestyle, many other unfinished projects and social media is really lagging.

So I think for a week like this week, which was more about relaxation and not so much doing, it will be quick and easy.

For posts we’re I’ll be writing destination content on it anyway, I may skip or just write a very condensed version with a few photos.

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This week 27 wrap up of our USA road trip shares our adventures from Saturday to Friday.

I publish the posts on Sunday (I need a few days to prepare it!) More in-depth posts on each region with loads of tips and suggestions will be coming soon.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook where we share the current day-to-day adventure

Things we did in Russian River

We joined our friends after two weeks apart, so there was lots of catch ups, games of dominoes, and river tubing.

We also had several almost full days to catch up on work which was so needed and appreciated. I’m still massively snowed under but that is the life we’ve chosen and the constant juggle we deal with.

Russian River

Do you give up all the play life and joy you get from experience the moments of travel so you can get all your work done?

What if you enjoy the work though?

I go back and forth between figuring out which one is more important and how to create a life that reflects this. I still don’t know the answer, but I’m starting to lean more towards, and dream about, a settled life.

One where I can easily plan for short trips away, completely immerse myself in that experience, and then do all the work when we return.

Rinse Repeat.

Russian River is about 2 hours drive north of San Francisco and is in Sonoma County with Napa Valley about an hour away. You know that means lots of wine!

Tubing down the river

I felt like I was back in Asia this week, sitting in the hot sun by the river and jumping on a tube to float down it when I needed to cool off. And cool off we did.

The water still holds a winter chill! It’s so serene here. It could definitely be a place I’d return to for summer camping breaks.

Russian River, California

Oh, and did I mention it’s HOT!!!

Finally summer dresses. Just in case you missed our updates from recent travels, it was cold in San Francisco and SNOWING in Yosemite!!!

I love summer dresses, flip flops, and heat so much.

Wine Tasting at Alexander Valley Vineyards

Bryanna organized a group wine tasting for us at the family friendly Alexander Valley Vineyards.

It was a very pleasant couple of hours touring the cave (fifth largest in California) where they keep 8,000 of their wine barrels and sampling different wines on their deck.

Alexander Valley Vineyards

I liked how we were able to experiment with tasting: two of the same wines housed in two different barrels (French and American Oak) and the difference between a French bottle opened to air and one not.

And being a kid-friendly winery, the kids got to sample some grape juice.

Wine tasting is the thing to do in this area. Bare in mind it can be expensive.

Gone are the days of free sampling. Find a winery that waives the tasting fee if you purchase a bottle of wine. Some will have free tasting for the lower shelf wines. Alexander Valley does and charges for their reserve tasting.

I also got to wear my new PrAna dress. We are part of their influencer group which gives me a discount on their clothes. Most of my wardrobe is PrAna and I regularly buy their clothes.

How gorgeous is this dress? I also got a short version in a different color.

And Craig was wearing his new t-shirt and shorts fresh off the rack from the PrAna store in San Francisco.

They are the BEST for travel and outdoor adventure. They’re an environmentally sustainable company, their clothes are super comfortable and last a long time and are beautiful.

Russian River Brewing Company

So we’ve been hearing about Pliny the Elder now for a long time. Apparently this is one of the best beers in the entire USA, along with Pliny the Younger.

So much so that limited supply is sold and when it is, lines wrap around the streets and sell out quickly.

Of course we had to visit the Russian River Brewing Company in nearby Santa Rosa to experience it for ourselves.

Let’s say we walked out with a case – $60 for a 12 pack!! In US terms that’s expensive beer. I must say it was quite a delicious beer, perfectly smooth, flavorful and at 8% alcohol content totally buzzing.

I’d say this is a California Bucket List item. Be sure to visit and do the Pliny Walk.

RV and Travel Lessons

  • I don’t like not having a mobile home when traveling full-time. I enjoyed staying in hotels in Yosemite and San Francisco as it suited the experience quite well. But the hassle of leaving the RV is not worth it. There is too much to worry about in terms of storing the RV, parking our car, and refrigeration.
  • Our solar power failed so we returned to Goldie with our food off. Thankfully, we didn’t have a lot in it as we did our best to eat it all before we left. But there were some things we couldn’t so we’re hoping the solar would last as it was parked out in the hot sun all day. Not sure why it didn’t but it didn’t.
  • A Thousand Trails membership may be a good way to save money on RV camping. We were able to get a membership through Bryanna’s Thousand Trails membership. I’m not sure exactly how that works but a premium member has so many to give to a personal network. We paid around $500 for the year. With that we get to stay in a Thousand Trails RV campsite for up to two weeks for free. You have to have a seven day break in between booking again. If not you can book again for only 4 days. As most campground are between $45- $70 this can bring great savings.
  • This week we stayed for a week at the Russian River Thousand Trails and have three other Thousand Trail campsites booked for the next couple of months. We were also able to store our travel trailer at one just outside of San Francisco for just $40 for the week. Which gave us great savings.

Russian River

  • Sadly, our membership came in the day after we left our Yosemite Thousand Trails campsite so we had to pay for that otherwise it would have made it even more valuable to us. So be sure to organize yours ahead of time. Thousands Trails RV campgrounds aren’t in every state and amenities may not be as great as you find in other parks. But if it saves you money, why not? It’s something I possibly would have looked at getting before we left Raleigh if I realized how much it would save us and I was a better planner. You can learn more here and get $100 off your membership. 
  • We found an awesome grocery chain in Sonoma County – The Bargain Outlet. It’s incredible how cheap it is and I love how it shares with you on the docket how much you’ve saved in comparison to another grocery chain. Hello $198 savings. Yes. That’s how much cheaper it is. I bought in bulk!

And we found the BEST gluten free donuts ever at Dahlia & Sage Community Market in Cloverdale.

Where we stayed in Russian River
Russian River RV Campground

As mentioned, this was a Thousand Trails RV campground by the river. We had power and water, but no dump at site. There is a dump station in the park however.

It was a very peaceful place to stay and surrounded by trees and nature which was wonderful. The staff were very nice too. I’d recommend it as a place to stay.

You tend to find a lot of families at Thousand Trails which is another reason it’s good for families.

Distance Driven

Travel Costs

Each week, I include our travel related costs for the week.

I don’t include things like business costs, insurance, and souvenirs etc. That’s so personal that whatever I told you wouldn’t necessarily be true for you and your budget.

The following, apart from perhaps our groceries, will give you a reasonable estimate of costs related to travel.

If you are new to our weekly wrap, our costs each week are usually around $1,000 – $1,300. We’re really trying to stay under $1,000

Vehicle Costs

  • Fuel: $175
  • Parking: $ 7
  • Uber: $

The generator is costing us a bit extra in fuel. We only use it for about an hour a day to top up. Once we get our broken batteries replaced it will be better.

Accommodation Costs

  • Camping: $0 (it would have been $420 without the Thousand Trails membership)

Attractions

  • Park Fees: $
  • Tours: $
  • Tickets: $
  • Tips: 

Food

  • Restaurants: $ 130
  • Coffee: $9
  • Groceries: $435
  • Take out/ snacks: $7.5

We eat a mostly whole foods, organic diet, which means our grocery bills are higher than what would be typical.

Don’t forget with eating out costs, tip will be included in the prices and the odd glass of wine or two.

RV Supplies and Living

  • Laundry: $10
  • Firewood: 
  • Propane: $
  • Supplies: $
  • Dump: $
  • Postage: $

Total paid by us: $773.50

Where to next?

We’re headed for Northern California and the Redwoods.

We’ll be spending half the time at Ferndale on the coast, and the other half in the mountains near the Oregon border and the Redwoods National Park.

Sadly, this means leaving the heat for cooler temperatures. I’ve given up on the idea of a summer this year. It will be our coldest and shortest summer in about 5 years or more.

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You can find our previous RV weekly wrap posts here.

Our latest in-depth blog post is on

Videos of the trip coming out soon.  Subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss it. We’re now releasing our road trip videos.

Check out our latest video of our ATV adventures in Sand Hollow State Park

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