This past week was our 33rd wedding anniversary. We decided to spend it at an RV resort. I chose Durango RV Resort in Red Bluff, California for no other reason that it looked nice on Google Earth. Google Earth did not lie, this was a great little RV resort! I booked three nights there, Thursday through Sunday.
We drove up on Thursday and had no issues. It was about a 3 and a half hour drive. The hardest part was getting past Sacramento. Before and after that was smooth sailing. We pulled into the resort about 20 minutes before their official check-in time of 2pm and they were fine with that. They checked me in quickly and within 5 minutes of arriving I was being guided to my site. It wasn’t the site that I reserved but that’s okay. It wasn’t a bad site. In fact, in the end it tuned out slightly better than the site I booked because it was quieter.
After setting up, as on all travel days, the first order of business was a nap. We spent the rest of the day reading and catching up on political intrigue as this is an election year here in America. It was warm and very windy so we decided not to take a walk around the park until after sunset.
The next day was our actual anniversary. We drove down to Nancy’s Cafe at the Willow’s Airport for breakfast. I was a little disappointed. Even though they are still open during the present COVID-19 crisis, the food being served has suffered greatly due to supply issues. I’ll have to take Cristy back when things return to normal. After that we drove up to Redding for a surprise massage I had booked for her. She REALLY enjoyed that.
To round out the day we did some grocery shopping and then cooked dinner. Then it was time for my anniversary present, spending some time in the resort’s hot tub! It felt so good on my muscles.
On Saturday we just decided to hang around the park. We spend the day reading, watching movies, and taking walks around the park. Just doing nothing!
We drove into Red Bluff to buy some ice cream for dessert and took a quick drive through the downtown district.
I spent more time in the hot tub that evening, we took another night time walk, and then called it a day.
Sunday morning we ate breakfast, dumped the tanks, and then hit the road home. All in all a very restful and enjoyable weekend.
This past week I started a new shift at work. For the past 4 years I’ve worked 8:00am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday. It’s fine but at previous employers I’ve been allowed to work a 4×10 shift. This started at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space Co when they introduced their Commute Alternatives Program. You were given two choices. First, you could work five nine-hour days one week, and then three 9-hour days and one 8-hour day the next week with every other Friday off. Or you could work four 10-hour days per week and have every Friday off. No brainer. I took that one.
Then I got a new job at a bank and they didn’t offer this. After a couple of years I pitched it to my coworker and once he agreed then to our boss. My coworker would have Mondays off and I would have Fridays off and we’d both work 10-hour days. The boss finally agreed and I was back on my favorite shift! We were all laid off and I spent the next 11 years working at a newspaper who would not even consider such a thing.
Two weeks ago we were notified that the Alternative Work Schedule was being proposed as a response to COVID-19. We could either work from home two days per week or we could work 10 hour days and have one day off per week. No-brainer. I put in early for Fridays off. I got it and started last week. So far I love it!
Social media was really fun when I first got into it. Now it’s just a faster vehicle to foment hatred. I can’t stand most of what I see on there. I put up a test post this past weekend that I crafted to be slightly incendiary. It work. It was only a matter of hours before a few of my so-called “friends” (that’s what Facebook calls them) began name calling and using profanity towards others and myself. I took the offending comments down and ultimately deleted the post. I learned everything I needed.
As a result I have deleted my Facebook account. It’s not deactivated, it’s deleted. In 30 days I will not have existed on Facebook. I will do the same for Instagram, also owned by Facebook. I am tired of the left-wing rhetoric on that site. I am tired of having my posts “fact-checked” and removed because they don’t conform to what the liberal left is saying. There is no freedom of speech on Facebook, only freedom of conformity. We are in this position because conservatives tolerate dissenting speech but, as we have found out, liberals do not.
Therefore, this my blog, LinkedIn.com, and Parler.com will be my social platforms. Friends and relatives may come here to see what’s new in my life. They may contact me via email, text message, or (gulp) phone. I’ve threatened to leave Facebook before but have always gone back. Not this time.
This past weekend we got away to the heart of the California Gold Country in Angels Camp. We booked Thursday night through Sunday morning and were really looking forward to this getaway. In some ways it did not disappoint but in other ways it did.
We made the hour and fifteen minute drive from our house to the RV park with no issues. The front office staff was very friendly and we were guided to our site. Always a nice touch rather than just giving you a map and wishing you luck. The pilot vehicle driver helped guide me into my back-in spot and we settled in and set up camp. We rounded out the day by napping. Always fun!
The next day we took a longish drive to Grass Valley. It was a fun tour of Highway 49 and the gold country. We didn’t take any pictures because we were in a hurry but still enjoyed the scenery. Cristy had a massage appointment and we didn’t want to be late. As we were pulling in to Grass Valley at the far end of our two and one half hour drive, Cristy got a text from her masseuse saying she had to cancel! Great. We made lemonade out of lemons by having coffee and then lunch in town. Cristy got a rose petal cardamom latte (yes it had rose petals) and I got a goat caramel latte (caramel made from goat’s milk). Both were delicious. If you’re ever in Grass Valley, CA stop in at Fable Coffee. Then we walked over to Sourdough and Co for lunch. Also very good and dine-in was available! Afterwards we made the 2.5 hour drive back to the RV park and… took a nap.
Hot off the disappointment of the massage being canceled we hit the second big disappointment of the trip. We could see that at the end of our row of RVs that a big party was being set up. It was Flavio’s 50th birthday party (whoever Flavio was). The noise for the rest of the day up until 11pm was unbelievable. We called the after hours number but the woman who answered was dismissive of our complaint. I told her we were trying to get away for some peace and quiet and she said “Well, it just depends on what part of the park you stay in.” Seriously, could you know have told me about the party when we were checking in? Maybe give us the option to stay in a different part of the park. At any rate the talking went on until 4am. We got NO sleep that night.
We were grumpy gusses the next day.
We decided to stick close by and headed to Columbia State Park. We shopped half-heartedly before leaving because most shops were closed. We headed into Sonora and hit a local candy store to buy some chocolate because… why not?
We took our chocolate and headed back to the campground to find the party mostly wound down. It was around 2pm when we got back and the campground was almost completely silent. Why couldn’t it be this way at night? Around 5pm the revellers all got back from the lake or wherever they went during the day and the party continued until 11pm! But.. hallelujah then it went dead silent. I guess two days of partying was enough for this crowd and they finally all passed out. It was the best night sleep we got all weekend.
This same day we were treated to the most beautiful sunset we had seen in years. Even so, I’d like to say we’ll be back, but we probably won’t.
Well, if California’s reaction to COVID-19 weren’t bad enough, we now have wildfires burning all over the state. Not only us but Oregon and Washington State as well. There is no escpape. A few weeks ago we could drive to the coast for some much needed fresh air. In the last two weeks even coastal air has been declared dangerous.
California’s air is extremely dangerous in some areas. For instance, in my town a few days ago the Air Quality Index was 185. In recent weeks it peaked out at 390 or so. Bridgeport, CA a few days ago was at 1200! Here is a handy reference table for your shock and horror.
Daily AQI Color
Levels of Concern
Values of Index
Description of Air Quality
0 to 50
Air quality is satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
51 to 100
Air quality is acceptable. However, there may be a risk for some people, particularly those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
101 to 150
Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is less likely to be affected.
151 to 200
Some members of the general public may experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.
201 to 300
Health alert: The risk of health effects is increased for everyone.
301 and higher
Health warning of emergency conditions: everyone is more likely to be affected.
We have been praying for clean air and our prayers might finally be answered this week with a storm system that could be moving through the area. It won’t give us much if any rain but it will at least stir the air up and send the smoke on it’s way. Sorry East Coast US.
I’m hopeful that this will happen as we have a camping trip scheduled for next week and we don’t want to miss that.
I never watched the movie Network which was released back in 1976. I was probably too young and as the years went by I never gave it a thought. The other day I ran across this scene from the move and it couldn’t be more appropriate for today. The state of media was bad back then but it was more subtle, we didn’t notice it. But there is no subtlety today. No nuances. It is one side trying to shout down the other side. News anchors trying to tell us what we MUST think and people believing them because people do not know how to learn on their own any more.
Actually this isn’t really about their music but about them as a group. The more I learn about them the more I like them. This group genuinely cares about the others. You can see Jukka Nevalainen playing drums in the video on my previous post. He’s easily one of my favorite drummers to watch. But he had to step down and his band mates where very supportive. I hope he feels better soon and comes back. Insomnia is no joke.
Interesting side note. I’ve never heard Finnish spoken before. That’s interesting as well.
This past Saturday was awesome not only because I got to fly, it was awesome because I got to fly with a young woman I love very much! My daughter Angela. When she was younger I took her flying a few times. She went because I was her dad and told her we were going flying. Well, she’s grown up now and I can’t make her fly with me any more. Luckily she has, without any intervention on my part, started to develop an interest in aviation. I never wanted to pressure my family to like my hobby, just accept that aviation is a huge part of who I am. So it came as a wonderful surprise to me that she was developing this interest.
So about 4 months ago we went flying and I let her take the controls and see what it felt like. It was a lot different that what she expected I think. The plane seemed to do whatever I asked but it didn’t seem to want to listen to her. I explained that after some time in the cockpit you develop a feel for the plane and it becomes much easier. We tried again last month but the plane’s engine didn’t sound right so I asked the owner to check it out. I belong to an aero club and don’t own my own aircraft any more.
Well the stars finally aligned this past Saturday and we got in the trusty little Cessna 152 and launched toward Auburn Airport (KAUN). As soon as we had reached our cruising altitude of 3000 feet MSL (mean sea level) I gave her the airplane. When an airplane is trimmed up properly and on course, there really isn’t a whole lot to do. She finally tried some turns with some coaching from me. She was having problems with the nose dropping when she turned the plane. I told her that what I do is pull back slightly on the yoke when turning. For a very gentle turn I told her to just squeeze the yoke, that would cause her to involuntarily pull the yoke back just enough. She tried a few turns and started to get the feel of it. Mostly she was just content to hold the plane on course for Auburn.
Once we got to within 10 miles of Auburn I took the airplane back from her and brought us in for a fairly decent landing. We taxied to the transient parking area and tied the plane down. We walked across the ramp to the Wings Grill & Esspresso Bar. We ordered a couple of fancy coffees and then grabbed a table and watched the airplanes taxi, takeoff, and land. Coffee and a show! It’s always a lot of fun to be able to just sit and talk to my daughter. We don’t always communicate that well, at least I don’t, so it’s always a treat for me to talk to her and find out what kind of woman she’s become. Happily the one thing we do have in common is Jesus!
After coffee we walked around the ramp a little at looked at some of the airplanes. She was especially interested in the Russian Antonov AN-2 Colt biplane that was parked there.
It was starting to get hot so we both thought it best to start heading back. I didn’t want her perfect (so far) flight to be marred by a bunch of thermal turbulence on the way home. We got back into the airplane taxied out to the runup area and prepared to depart. I made sure to lean the mixture for best power prior to takeoff, Auburn is at 1500 feet elevation and with a temperature of about 85 degrees that made the density altitude (the altitude the airplane “thinks” it’s at) about 3500 feet. There was no issue during the takeoff run and we cleared all the surrounding hills easily. It’s mostly downhill back into the valley after that.
We cruised back home looking for airplanes, helicopters, or anything else that might want to ruin our perfect day. Angela flew a bit more but I think it was becoming a little fatiguing. Step by step, she’ll get it. I don’t think this means she wants to become a pilot just yet but I’m so happy she’s expressing at least an interest in aviation. But to be on the safe side I bought her a logbook and a set of aircraft headsets. Hey, a dad can dream can’t he?
Well as I reported in my blog entry about our trip to Morgan Hill RV Resort, we developed a leak in the hot water valve fitting on our outdoor shower. I ordered some tools to remove and replace the valve but I, being who I am, could not wait for the tools to arrive so I improvised.
I used a cutoff wheel in my Dremmel grinder to remove the existing stainless steel crimp ring that secures the tubing to the plastic elbow.
I had to be pretty careful so as not to nick or melt the tubing so it was pretty slow going but I finally got the crimp ring off and got the fitting out.
I stopped off at Lowe’s RV supply department (that’s a joke y’all) and picked up some PEX tubing in case I really blew this and the next closest fitting I could find which was made of brass.
Since I didn’t have the ring crimping tool or any replacement crimp rings I made do with a hose clamp from my airplane supply box. I put it all back together and no leaks! I’ll keep my eye on it though. The tool and crimp rings did finally show up so I can always do the repair properly in the future if I elect to.
I could have just taken it back to the dealer to have it repaired but it would have taken weeks to get it back. Since we’re not under warranty any longer I can imagine the bill would be a couple hundred bucks. This way I saved money and didn’t have to be without our trailer. You can save a lot of money on your RV if you learn to be handy with some tools and use what you have on hand. It’s the difference between an adventure and a cancelled trip.
This past weekend we loaded up the “Little House on the Highway” aka our Lance 1995 travel trailer and got out of town. I had made another reservation at a Thousand Trails resort trying to get some mileage out of the one year membership I had purchased. I decided on Morgan Hill RV Resort. We wanted to stay close by as Cristy’s mother is aging and we need to be able to get home in a hurry. It’s a short drive over the Diablo Range to get there. About a two hour trip with a trailer in tow. Traffic cooperated and we had no freeway adventures getting there.
We arrived around noon and checked in. It was made easy by the new online check in they are doing now. You show up, give them your name and off you go to begin the great site hunt. THIS is one of my big problems with Thousand Trails (TT). They do not let you reserve specific camp sites. You drive around, find one that’s available and park. We hate the uncertainty of not knowing where we are going within the park. Not knowing which sites are cramped or spacious. We like knowing exactly where we are going. However, the flip side of the coin is you can pick your neighbors.
We drove past a fairly cramped portion of the park and when I would ask Cristy, “What about this spot?” She would noncommittally indicate that maybe we should keep going. Glad I listed because we finally came across a site that was perfect. It was huge width-wise and deep enough that I could leave the truck hitched if I wanted to. Plus we already had neighbors and they seemed pretty quiet. We had already passed up a few areas where there were about 10 people sitting out front of their RV, 5 cars crammed into the site, listening to loud ranchero music. Really? Who comes out to nature and then blares their radio? Seriously, you’re music is not that awesome.
Happily we couldn’t hear their music down where we were. We heard only birds and the occasional ground squirrel chattering angrily. As we were setting up though we had our one and only downside of the vacation. It ended up being very minor but we weren’t sure at first. After I had hooked up our water hose I stepped inside to find Cristy looking under the bathroom sink. She said that’s not something she normally does but for some reason this time she did and how lucky we were that she did! There was a light stream of water squirting from one of the plumbing fittings under the sink!
Oy. I already had a headache from the drive. Now this. I turned off the water and thought maybe the water connection was just loose. As I first loosened it and then was tightening it again I noticed that adjacent to this fitting there was a shutoff valve for JUST this fitting. I closed the valve and turned the water back on to the trailer. SUCCESS! The leak had stopped. This was fitting that plumbed hot water to the outdoor shower. A feature on the trailer we have never used. With no more leaks our camp out was saved. I finally sat down and ate the sandwich Cristy had made me while I was investigating the leak. Then, FINALLY, we were able to truly relax and enjoy our camp site.
The weather was perfect, daytime highs of 82F (28C) and nighttime lows of 52F (11C). We spent the remainder of the afternoon lounging outside and then napping in the trailer. We also took a short walk around the park just to see what was there. There was a nice little creek near by called Uvas Creek. Uvas is grapes in Spanish and it was aptly named as there are a lot of wineries in the area.
The next day we drove into downtown Gilroy and looked around. There wasn’t much to see as most of the business are closed due to the Covid.
We decided to head over to Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing. Cristy got an order of cioppino and two oysters, I got a salmon sandwich and a cup of clam chowder. After getting our food we dove to down the street to Moss Landing State Beach. I flipped down the tailgate of my truck and we sat down and ate. Cristy discovered that they had forgotten her oysters and my clam chowder. We finished lunch and then walked back down the beach to Phil’s and they corrected the mistake quickly and without question. We walked back to the truck and decided to save these items for later. We headed back to the campground and read and relaxed for the rest of the day.
Saturday was our last full day camping and we decided to spend it in the campground with no day trips. This was like heaven to me. We took a couple walks around the park and read and watched movies we had downloaded. I also broke out my Blackstone Griddle and cooked BBQ’d chicken and onions for dinner. It turned out pretty good!
That was pretty much our camping trip for this month. We packed up the next morning, dumped our wastewater tanks, and then drove home. This was probably the closest we have come to a perfect camp out and we can’t wait to go camping again!
This will most likely be our last Thousand Trails visit. Given the caliber of people we have run into at these parks, the lax enforcement of park rules, and the hit and miss friendliness of staff at these parks, we have elected to let our yearly pass lapse and just stay in regular paid RV resorts. The customers are generally more likely to follow rules. The resorts are also generally kept up better. Thousand Trails bills themselves as “nature preserves”. And so pass off a lot of the lack of maintenance as “rustic”. Now, they are trying to update their facilities but at this point in time the parks in California are pretty run down. That all being said, for now, we are done with TT.