Napa – downtime and surprisingly no wine

After staying in a literal parking lot just outside of San Francisco, it felt good to camp at the Napa Expo Fairgrounds. Lots of space, grass, warm sun, and plenty of places to walk the dogs. Since Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is in nearby Vallejo and San Francisco is only 1.5 hours south, Napa seemed like a good spot to stop for a week. Since we liked the campground so much, we extended the stay to 10 days to give us time to be tourists, do our chores, and have some time off.

Napa Expo RV Park

The Napa Expo RV Park. A bit basic, but a nice improvement over San Francisco.

Our first stop was Six Flags Discovery Kingdom for our roller coaster fix. This is a much smaller park then the ones we’ve been to and only had a handful of coasters. Since we were there on a Friday in the “off” season, the park was very quiet. There were students here on a school field trip but even they didn’t add much to the crowds. We would wait maybe 5-10 minutes and that was for the front seat of the coasters.

They only had five open coasters at the park, we opted out of Boomerang but rode the other four. Roar is the classic wooden coaster and to our delight, we really enjoyed riding it. We’re never sure what to expect with wooden coasters, but this one had the classic bumps, shakes, drops, and turns without rattling all the teeth in our heads. Kong, their suspended coaster was quite a disappointment. It’s old and doesn’t have the thrill of most suspended coasters. The turns and inversions are way too tight, it’s bumpy, and you spend a lot of effort trying to keep your head from banging around. Superman was a lot of fun and has an interesting start where the ride needs to build momentum, so it launches you forward, backward, then forward again. Medusa is their floorless hypercoaster which we always enjoy.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

The park used to be Marine World before it was bought by Six Flags, so it still has a very strong animal theme. We saw dolphins, sea lions, giraffes, elephants, a tiger show, and other animals. Unlike the San Diego Safari Park though, the small quarters for the animals here make us a bit sad.

Due to the small crowds, we were finished in just three hours and headed home pleased with our visit and our season passes. We won’t be hitting another Six Flags until Chicago so this will have to hold us until then.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

We thought about checking out some Napa wineries because hey, Napa! However we found that most wineries now charge around $20 for tastings which are not included in most tours. While Mike and I enjoy drinking wine, our palates are not refined enough to justify expensive wines and we didn’t want to spend a lot on wine tastings if we’re just as happy with our cheaper box wines. Instead we took Max and Opie to Alston Dog Park which contains a nice dog park and some good hiking trails for Opie to explore. We also took Opie to Westwood Hills Park, a small city park with some great views of Napa and meandered through the trails there.

The top of the trail at Alston

The top of the trail at Westwood Hills Park

My college friend’s children really wanted to see our RV, so they drove up to visit us while we were in Napa. We met them at the Oxbow market where the farmers market had just opened for the season. We bought some fruits and our first RV plant, Thai basil. It has a little while to grow before we can harvest the leaves but it’s nice to have a plant in Rover. If it works out, I may end up getting even more herbs to grow. Oxbow Market is fun to walk through but it has a lot of (what I label) frou-frou foods: all flavors of bitters, italian pastries, chocolate wine sauces, expensive cupcakes and coffees, etc. I did really like the prawn taco for lunch but $9 for one small taco (no sides) is a bit pricey. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Oxbow Market, but it’s no Reading Terminal Market.

Rover's newest crew member

Rover’s newest crew member: Thai basil.

After Oxbow, we hung out by Rover while the kids had a blast with the dogs. Max got a nice brushing while Opie got to play ball and chase a very energetic boy around. A fun time was had by all AND we had a tired Opie by the end of the day which is a bonus.

Max chillin'

Max just chillin’.


  1. john and jacy   •  

    Man we just missed you guys again. It’s funny Saturday we were where you are now, but now we are 2500 miles away in nashville. Hope you guys enjoy napa…….if you like English muffins you have to get some from the model bakery.

    • Kat   •     Author

      Holy smokes, you guys move fast! Do you just drive straight through to your destination or do you take a break for a couple of days at one spot?

  2. Jonathan   •  

    Kat, Mike, Sorry the Six Flags was a bit of a disappointment. I know you are eventually going to head East and when you do you owe it to yourselves to make sure (if you already haven’t) you stop at Hershey Park….Feast your eyes on this

    I promise you this will give the coaster fix that you missed out West. If you do make it that way drop us an email (Peggie my wife and Zoe our Standard Poodle) we’ll meet you there. We live on Long Island but we go to Hershey once a year.

    Keep having fun!

    • Kat   •     Author

      Six Flags Discovery Kingdom wasn’t a disappointment per se, just much smaller than I had expected. Three of the coasters were fun to ride. LOVE Hershey Park, we used to go there pretty regularly. Big Bear (front seats) is awesome fun. I haven’t been for a few years. I’m not sure we’ll make it back to PA in time before it closes for the season but if we do, we’ll definitely give you a ring!

  3. Vicki   •  

    Napa looks gorgeous. Do you book your campgrounds “as you go,” or ahead of time? We’re planning a long trip from NY to CO, then to FL, by way of Nevada. I can’t imagine booking ahead of time.

    Enjoy the journey. Safe travels.

    • Kat   •     Author

      Before we hit Arizona, we wouldn’t book until a week or less in advance. AZ state parks in winter filled up so we had to book a few weeks in advance. Then in CA, many of the parks tend to fill up during the weekends (esp those with good reviews) so we’ve been booking those about 2 weeks, or even earlier, in advance. As we move out of CA into OR, we’re not doing quite as much advance booking, but there are also a lot more campgrounds available in OR too.

      I think many full-timers are more spontaneous and rarely book in advance (except major holidays). I don’t think we’re that confident yet so we still plan our route carefully.

  4. Tomi Newcombe   •  

    Max looks so sweet in his ‘Just Chillin’ pic. What a sweet boy! I see you have a ramp now for Rover for Max. Where do you carry it while traveling? Our lab just turned seven, and doesn’t require one yet, but I can see one in our future.
    Happy travels. Hoping you hit Michigan sometime this summer–outstanding summer destination!

    • Kat   •     Author

      The ramp really helps Max out a lot. Since we have it out all the time when we’re at rest, we just store it in our toad, Red, when we’re traveling to each site. Actually Red ends up being our “leftover” storage unit when we travel. Tire covers, recycling bin, ramp, etc. Comes in handy! Ah, hopefully your lab will have a nice long life with great legs.

      Unfortunately I don’t think we’ll make it into Michigan this year since we have to move it a bit faster to be at Cedar Point, OH before the park closes for the season (in sept). The nice thing is that we can always come back to it next year!

  5. DebbieM   •  

    Yes, Napa is pretty, but has become for the rich. You should check out Placerville (back home, where we happen to be for the next 2 months). Wine tasting is free and the wines are spectacular! As is the scenery. Gold was discovered nearby. We’re 1/2 way between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe in a quaint western town. Tahoe is a must see if you haven’t been there. The Sierra Nevada mountains are gorgeous! Lots of great hiking. Holy Cow, you’d never get me on any roller coaster! Those look just crazy! Doggies look happy.

    • Kat   •     Author

      Debbie, it’s funny, another friend of ours who grew up in Napa said something similar. She said it’s become a lot more touristy and definitely much more expensive. We’ll put Placerville on our map for the next time we’re in the area, thanks! LOL, roller coasters are definitely not for everyone and I’m starting to get limited on what kind of thrill rides work for me as I get older. Doggies are doing pretty well, Max enjoys the cool weather and sunshine. Opie is happy anytime he gets to go on an outing. Have a great time in Placerville, we’ll hopefully hit it next year!

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