Yank’s RV Resort

Friday:

About a month and a half ago, I was thinking of booking us at another Thousand Trails campground.  I was looking at the one in Paicines, CA but after reading the reviews I decided to look elsewhere.  Doesn’t seem the TT’s in California get very high reviews.  I wasn’t very impressed with the first and only one we’ve stayed at so far.  After reading the reviews I started looking for campgrounds near Paicines.  The thought was that we would take a day trip to Monterey, CA.  Yeah, that was a month and a half ago, before the COVID 19 outbreak.

It was a two and a half hour drive from our home to Yank’s but thanks to the pandemic, traffic was very light.  We arrived around 1pm and check in was super easy.  They had our paperwork waiting for us at the front desk.  We were only one of two checking in that day.  They were really hoping the second party showed up.  They were grateful we showed up.   They guided us to our back-in site, one of only about 8 in the whole park, all others were pull-through.  The back-in sites had more room so I requested one.  They backed us in and camp was set up in less than 20 minutes.

We fixed lunch and took a nap. (Naps are mandatory when we’re RV’ing) 🙂  The weather was beautiful when we arrived.  We took a walk around the park to orient ourselves and stretch our legs.

img_20200320_140429936_hdr

The park is fantastically clean, I’m just talking about the grounds.  Our site was bordered with rosemary hedges which smelled wonderful.  They have a pool, workout room, horseshoe pits, and a dog park with obstacles for the dogs (concrete pipes).   They had a nice little convenience store with all the basic “I forgot” items; frozen dinners, candy bars, sewer connections, power cords, RV decorations, etc.  After our walk we went back to the trailer and started on dinner and then watched a movie on the outstanding cable they had at the park.

Saturday:

The next day after sleeping in we decided our mission was to try to find some Kleenex since all the stores in our hometown had been cleaned out of ALL paper products.  We drove down to the Safeway in King City and found two four-packs of Kleenex left on the shelf. Being responsible citizens we only put one in the cart, and a roll of paper towels to be on the safe side.  We bought a few extra snacks as well and then went in search of gas.  Which we located after a brief search; right across the freeway.  As we drove through King City you’d never know that the governor of the State of California had put in a mandatory stay-at-home order.  Folks were in the restaurants, out on the streets, business as normal.  Kind of felt nice to see.

We drove back to the trailer with a full tank of gas and a full grocery bag. We watched more TV as there was not a lot else to do.  It had rained all night and most of the day.  Just before sunset the rain had stopped and we went out for a walk to breath the clean air.  We also took this opportunity to check out the little store in the resort office.  I hadn’t really looked at it when we checked in.  We chatted with the woman at the front desk who was bored out of her mind.  She told us that Yank’s RV Resort was built in anticipation of Yank’s Air Museum which was being built next door, along with some shops and restaurants.  Good to know.  I bought a magnet to commemorate our visit and then we headed back to the trailer.

More movies that night and then an early bed time.  Love the RV life!

Sunday:

We tried to sleep in on Sunday morning but a local crop duster had different ideas.  At 7am sharp he made his first turn over our RV park and spent the next several hours dusting the field around the RV resort.  Ah well….  We got up and set up the iPad so we could watch church online.  After church it was time to clean up.  We would just be ready to go right at the 11am checkout time.

Cristy started cleaning up the trailer, putting things away, etc.  I went out and started dumping the tanks.  If I do it right it usually takes me about 30 minutes with prep time and proper clean up.  I don’t normally put the hose out until I’m ready to dump so this counts as part of the prep time.  I got that dirty deed done and then pack up all the hoses, cable TV connection and stabilizer pads.  We hitched up and then headed home.

It wasn’t a big awesome adventure or anything but it really helped to clear our heads.  Especially with everything going on in the world.  There is just something about RV’ing that slows us down and let’s us breathe and think.  I love it every time I go out.  Time to start planning the next boring adventure. 🙂

img_20200321_185356253

COVID-19 Pandemic

I thought I should write a blog post about this so that in the future, I can remember what we went through.  As of today, the statistics are:

Coronavirus Cases:

272,804
(world wide)

Deaths:

11,311

Recovered:

90,620
As of today the situation in California is that Governor Newsom has asked all residents of the state to self-quarantine.  All non-essential businesses are closed.  Restaurants serve takeout only.  Gatherings of 10 or more people are banned.  Churches have been ordered closed, however, they are streaming their services.
I am incredibly blessed to be working at hospital which is the quintessential essential business.  We will not be closing any time soon.   God has provide us with shelter, health (so far) and I am working, unlike a lot of my neighbors.  It’s a little eery not hearing traffic noise.  The slowdowns on the freeways are gone.
I have taken today off as it was scheduled far in advance.  I expect this to be the last day off I will get until this pandemic is over.  We booked the weekend at an RV resort about 3 hours away from where we live.  It’s beautiful and peaceful here.  We can use it.
img_20200320_140429936_hdr
I’m incredibly grateful to God for all He has done for me.  We are praying for the world daily.  Remember to stay safe:
Wear gloves when possible
Wash your hands frequently
Clean all surfaces periodically
Clean your computer keyboard and mouse
Clean your cell phone
God’s grace and peace to you.

Don’t Panic!

Whether your hitchhiking across the universe or just trying to go to the grocery store, don’t panic!

Wash your hands.

Don’t cough at other people.

Keep some distance from strangers.

Stay home if you’re sick.

Good things to do at any time.  Not just now that the disease du jour is making it’s way across the world.

Fly Day

Well this will go down as one of the epic days in aviation.  My daughter asked a couple of weeks ago if we could go flying.  After the shock wore off I told her OF COURSE!!  I booked the aircraft on the spot.  That was two weeks ago.  Of course a storm had to move in this morning… BUT!  It’s a California storm which means high overcast, wind from the south, and MAYBE some rain here or there.  Perfect flying conditions.

We got to the airport at 8am.  I was wondering what condition the airplane would be in because it was rented for the two hours leading up to my booking.  However, when we got there the prior pilot was walking out as we were walking in and passed off the key to me while letting me know he had topped off the fuel tanks.  Thanks random student pilot!

It was a little chilly so my daughter Angela sat in the plane while I did my pre-flight inspection.  Everything checked out so I couldn’t think of any reason not to fly.   We started up the plane, taxied down to runway 10 (since the wind was out of the southeast) and did my pre-takeoff checklist.  We took to the runway and started the slow climb up to 2000 feet MSL (Mean Sea Level).

At first we headed into the Sierra foothills but it proved to be a little bumpy there due to the winds from the south blowing over the hills and causing mechanical turbulence.  Instead I decided to take us back out over the valley and give Angela some flight time.  The whole point of flying was that she wanted to try actually flying the airplane.  And fly she did.  It was a little daunting for her at first but after she got a feel for the controls, and how you really only need a light touch, she really settled into it.  We just flow around Escalon and Riverbank and then over our house and church in Modesto.

Angela-flight

The map above shows our general route of flight.  The yellow highlighted part is the portion Angela flew.

Or if you don’t read aeronautical charts, here’s a regular map with a simplified version of our route:

Angela-flight-2

I think she did great and I hope she wants to go again!  I would love to have her as a flying buddy.  We’ll pick a time when the weather is better and we can fly longer.  Maybe head over the San Francisco Bay or over to Half Moon Bay.  But we’ll go somewhere.

angela-flying

 

Leap Day 2020

We get a bonus day this year.  Today, February 29th if you’re using the Gregorian calendar.  A day that only comes every 4 years.  Which if you don’t know is due to the orbit of the earth taking 364.25 days to orbit the earth so every 4 years we have to have a makeup day to make our calendar work right.  Anywho, it got me thinking about what my life situation was like on the last leap day.

For starters I had just come up with the notion of living full time in an RV.  To further that end I had just sold my airplane and took up flying powered-paragliders.  Cristy and I were looking at RV and had decided on the Solitude 384GK.  I had also changed the look of my blog to what you see today.  What I didn’t know yet was that in a few short months I was going to be told I was being laid off.  Again.

Then a whole lot of life happened and brought us to today.  It’s amazing how many things actually happened between last leap day and today.  Some are too depressing to go into.  Some are too private.  One thing that has stayed the same is our faith in a loving, gracious God.  I hinted at that faith in the “I was being laid off” link above.  We had so many questions but we knew God would take care of us.  And He did.

With all the life that happened between then and now it makes me wonder what’s going to happen in the next four years.  A few predictions:

  • Angela moves out.
  • Angela becomes engaged.
  • My boss gets a promotion.
  • I get a promotion.
  • Cristy has to deal with the loss of her mother.
  • We begin fixing up our home in preparation to sell it.
  • I have a new truck.

Those are just a few.  I wonder how wrong I’ll be?  It doesn’t matter if I’m right or wrong, we’ll still have God in charge of our destiny and that suits me just fine.

So how did we celebrate Leap day?  Just enjoyed the beautiful valley that we live by going out for a walk in the near by town of Ripon.  Now get out and enjoy the day the Lord has made!

img_20200229_105659136

Cleaning Up

I whiled away the minutes this morning by cleaning various parts of my garage.  It was a very random selection process.

What’s in this box?

Whatever caught my fancy this morning is what I decided to clean up, throw out, or organize.  This all in preparation for full-time RV living.  I have a little over six years to go so there is no rush.  I just do little bits at a time when I have time.  Today’s mission was books.  We have tons of books left over from homeschooling our children.  We picked a few favorite books and set them aside.  I think this process is harder for the parents than for the children.  There were a few books that our daughter wanted to keep for the sake of that nebulous concept of “her children.”

The kids have long since stopped reading the books and playing with the toys, so why is it so hard to throw that stuff out?  It’s hard to let go of  what has taken up most of your life. It’s hard to let got of the memory of who your children were when they were young and looked up to you for everything.  But they grow up and you have to let them.  Which means you stop holding onto those things which still makes them small children in your eyes.  You have to let them become adults.  This is the goal anyway…

So now, off to the library to donate books!

Dragoon Gulch Trail – Sonora, Ca

Today is President’s Day, a holiday for the County.  Rather than stay home and do laundry my wife and I decided to take a hike.  We haven’t hiked a trail in some time so last night I started looking for some trails to stretch our legs on.  We initially were going to go back to the West Side Trail but I found another trail that looked a little more interesting: Dragoon Gulch Trail.

existing-trail-map-1-600x927-1

We started from the Alpine trail head and walked down to the Woods Creek parking area first.  Had we known this was where the restrooms were we would have started from here.  We then walked back up to the Alpine trail head and started up the Vista Trail.  It’s an easy hike but is all up hill.  It was a beautiful day with the air temperature in the upper 60’s F.

We got up to the end of the trail (the vista) and were rewarded with a view of Downtown Sonora.

img_20200217_113935708_hdr

We enjoyed the beautiful Spring weather for a while before heading back down the trail.

 

The Spring weather we are enjoying is known as Fool’s Spring or False Spring.  It’s only February, we will still have more cold snaps and rainy weather before True Spring makes an appearance.  This occurs roughly two weeks before Summer and 90 degree (F) temperatures set in.

We walked down to the Ridge Trail and decided to take that one back to the car.  It’s a longer trail but far less steep and thus easier on our knees.  It dumped us out on the Creekside Trail where we walked back to our car.

Once back to our car we checked my phone for some good eateries near by.  We settled on one that we weren’t too sure about; The Diamondback Grill.  The menu we downloaded to my phone said they had the gluten-free options my wife needs so we decided to give them a try.  I am so glad we did!  I ordered the Flatiron Steak Salad and it was AWESOME!  Grilled mushrooms and onions atop a grilled steak on top of a salad!  The steak was so tender and delicious!  Cristy ordered a Buffalo Burger but they deleted the bun and dropped it on top of a salad for her.  It wasn’t on the menu, they just came up with it for her.  Very helpful wait staff there!  If you are ever in Sonora please give these folks a try!

Diamondback Grill Hours
Grill – Monday thru Thursday – 11am to 9pm
Friday thru Saturday – 11am to 9:30pm
Sunday – 11am to 8:00pm (New)

Wine Bar Hours
Tuesday-Thursday, 5pm to 9pm
Friday & Saturday, 5pm to 9:30pm
Closed – Sunday and Monday

Address:
93 South Washington Street
Sonora, CA 95370
Phone: (209) 532-6661
Fax: (209) 396-2456
email: dbacksnake@att.net

 

Afterwards we walked around downtown Sonora and browsed the shops.  At least, the shops that were open, many were closed for the holiday.  We didn’t go into this next store but next time I’m up there I may buy this sign:

img_20200217_135101841_hdr

Afterwards we headed back down to Modesto happy and content with the small adventure hike in our back yard.  You don’t always need to travel for hours to enjoy the beauty of nature.  This park is only an hour from our home.  Take a look around your town.  You never know what hidden gems you may be missing.

img_20200217_113610798

 

 

 

Thousand Trails – Ponderosa RV Park

This past weekend we decided we needed to get away in the RV.  We’ve been planning on doing this for a couple of months now but things kept coming up and preventing our planned trips.  This weekend there was nothing to stop us so  planned a trip to Ponderosa RV Park.  Ponderosa is part of the Thousand Trails resort chain.  This was to be our first trip to a Thousand Trails park so we didn’t quite know what to expect.  We’d always heard mixed reviews.  Late last year I bought a camping pass from Thousand Trails which is good for a year.  This means I can stay in any of their parks in this region for free for up to 14 days.   You can bet we’re going to stay in a lot of Thousand Trails parks this year! (That’s what I thought when I got there.)

ponderosa-rv-map

The drive up to Ponderosa was a little exciting.  I wanted to take mostly back roads and avoid the freeways.  This was a mixed bag.  Most of the backroads were nice but a few got VERY narrow lending some excitement and adventure to the trip.  I ave to admit I’m not a fan of excitement or adventure while towing a trailer.  But we finally arrived (after missing the turn and having to turn around). Check-in was pretty easy.  I showed the gate attendant my membership card and she checked for my reservation.  Gave me my paperwork and sent us on into the park.  She was friendly enough but only JUST friendly enough.  She seemed mostly bored.  Not like the super-friendly welcome we have received at other RV resorts.

img_20200207_152255336Then the great hunt began.  You see, Thousand Trails does not assign you a camping spot.  You have to drive around and find one.  We drove the entire park (not that it was very big) and finally circled back to a spot we had driven past earlier.  It was in a small cul de sac and had no neighbor one side and nothing on the other side of us because this was the end spot.  Nice!  We got set up and then just settled in for a quiet afternoon recovering from the drive up.  Later I set up my Blackstone Griddle and grilled some meat and vegetables that Cristy has prepared earlier and put in plastic bags for our trip.  It was good but let’s just say I need to practice with the griddle some more to really get the hang of it.   We watched some TV on my laptop and then called it a night.  And thanks to the electric heater we brought along…

We slept good.

The next day we drove into Placerville and shopped a bit.  Well, Cristy did.  I mostly just followed her around.  It’s urban hiking after all.  The we had lunch at The Farm Table restaurant.  Always one of our favorites when we’re in Placerville.  The we drove over to historic Coloma, site of Sutter’s Mill where gold was first discovered in California.  Coloma is a town that is a state park much like parts of Columbia.  We walked around and enjoyed the sites for a bit and then headed back to the trailer.  When we got back we discovered a HUGE 5th wheel trailer 20 feet from us which brought 2 parents and 9 kids.  Oy.  There goes our peace.

And that is what we are finding is the downfall of this particular RV park.  If it is like this in the off-season I can’t imagine what it would be like in the summer.  Everyone here is “camping” meaning, the have to put out ALL their camp toys, even if it means completely surrounding our campsite with their stuff.  There are no clear boundaries and there is little to no enforcement of rules.  Again, probably because this is the off-season.  I won’t judge the entire Thousand Trails system by this park, but I certainly won’t be back to this park.

Sunday morning after a quick liquid breakfast I kicked the next-door neighbors’ toys out of the way so I could start packing up and making the trailer ready for travel.  We got everything stowed, the slide pulled in, and everything locked.  Cristy stood guard to make sure no children (who were literally 3 feet away) got run over.  Although there were no sewer sites available there was a dump station on the way out.  We dumped our tanks and hit the road for home.  It turned out to be quite the exciting drive because the winds were 30 gusting to 40 mph.  Luckily for us the winds were mostly at our back coming home so we had incredibly good gas mileage.

So all in all our stay at this Thousand Trails was a mixed bag.  The area was beautiful but the park itself was cramp and noisy (for us).  We’ll try a few more TT trails parks before passing judgement but as of last night those 55 and over RV parks were looking pretty good!

img_20200207_150407323

 

 

Never Too Old To Be A Rookie

This morning my flying buddy Jordan and I decided to take a quick flight from Oakdale down to Los Banos, just ’cause.  We hadn’t been flying together in a while and just decided to take a quick flight somewhere and Lost Bananas is just as good as any place.  The morning started out great.  It took a few tries to get the airplane started because it was pretty cold out.  But finally we were airborne climbing up into the silky smooth air.

The flight down to Los Banos was uneventful and we chatted happily (for us anyway) about life’s goings on.

img_20200205_073718829

We finally had Los Banos in sight so made a long lazy approach and perfect landing.  Good job Jordan.

img_20200205_073737082

We swapped seats and I taxied out to take off.  I finished off all the pre-flight checks and took to the runway, rolled on power, and off we went.  Then Jordan tells me his door isn’t latched.

Okay.

So that’s supposed to be one of our pre-takeoff checklist items:

DOORS and WINDOWS CLOSED and LATCHED……CHECK.

Who’s fault was that?  Mine.

No problem.  I tell Jordan that I’ll just climb out and when we get a little higher, I’ll slow down and he can shut the door.  I slow down to about 60 MPH and he still can’t shut the door.

No problem.  The slipstream is going to hold the door closed anyway so we just decide to fly back to Oakdale with the door cracked.

We make a beautiful approach back to Oakdale and I call all my pattern positions, downwind, base, final using my best professional pilot voice.  Except, something doesn’t feel right.  I’m too close on my turn to final approach and too high.

No problem.  I’ll just use all 40 degrees of flaps on the plane we were flying.  Most only have 30 degrees but not this beast.  I was still high when going past the first taxiway and I should be touching down at that point.

No problem. Go around.

I advanced the throttle, eased the flaps back up and tried it again.  Upwind, crosswind, downwind, base, final… Exact same result.

Huh.

Only this time I finally looked at the windsock.  Well there’s your problem.  We’ve got a fairly decent tailwind.  You see, we took off to the west on runway 28.  There was ZERO wind.  When we got back a mere 45 minutes later the wind was coming from the east meaning I should be landing on runway 10.  On cold mornings the cold dense air in the Sierra Nevada mountains just east of Oakdale starts rolling down the mountains.  It blows down into the low lying Central Valley for a few hours until things heat up and the wind starts blowing the other way.  And I KNOW THIS.

So I changed my pattern to land on runway 10 and made a beautiful landing, right where I meant to touch down.  The moral of the story is that you’re never too old to be a rookie.  If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Happy landings.

NFC Playoffs

This past weekend we had a happy bit of circumstance smack us in the face.  Us being my wife and I.  I was offered two tickets to the NFC playoffs between the San Francisco 49’ers and the Green Bay Packers at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

* Stunned silence *

Image result for 49er nfc championship

Yes, sure I’ll take them!

And took them I did.  But it was more than just tickets, it was preferred VIP parking right outside the gate.  It was also in one of the Blackhawk Casino Suites which as fully (and freely) catered.  We didn’t have to pay a dime for food, parking, or seating.  It was like winning the lottery.

We showed up just as they opened the parking lots.  Traffic was a huge snarl as you can imagine but once we got to the parking lot the attendants directed us to our parking lot quickly.   We ended up waiting at the gate for about 45 minutes but there were other fans to talk to so the wait wasn’t that bad.  When the gates finally opened and we got to the entry gate, here is where one of the headaches I had with the whole process started.

They do not issue paper tickets, you MUST have a smartphone to show your ticket on.   Now, if you have an iPhone you can load the ticket into your Apple Wallet and show that.  If you are a lowly Android user (as Cristy and I are) you must use the Levi Stadium or 49er App which is just a web front-end.  So basically you have to go to the ticketing website every time, log in, select your event, select your seat, and then show them your ticket.  Since there were so many people there, cell towers were swamped and cellular data was moving …   …   …  s  .   l   .  o   .   w   .   l   .  .  .   .   .  y.

We had to step aside and wait for our tickets to load.  Once we were in the park we had a hard time finding our seats.  The ever helpful Levi Stadium staff did not know where the Blackhawk Suites were so they directed us to the 49er merchandise store.   That was hell on earth.  It took us another 30 minutes to find the suite.  When we did we had to load our tickets again.  This took more time.

img_20200119_141933155

Finally…

We got to the suite and what a pleasant surprise that was.  There were two rows of comfy seats up front, there was a row of barstools at a bar behind the seats, in the middle was a buffet bar, and all along the side were more buffet foods.  The refrigerator was stocked with beer, whine, champagne, soda, and water.

img_20200119_131058858

All free.

img_20200119_140752027We claimed our seats and then set about having lunch.  Beef brisket nachos, lobster macaroni and cheese, pineapple bacon cheeseburgers, the most tender pork loin, and hot dogs if you wanted them.  It is a ballpark after all.  After eating we got an opportunity to go stand on the field and get our pictures taken.  Pretty cool but pretty crowded.  While we at we watched the Kansas City Chiefs win their game against the Tennessee Titans.  Good, I like Kansas City, my mother was from there.  I hate Tennessee.  My wicked stepmother was from there.  True story.

img_20200119_152404766_hdrJust as the game was about to start my wife heard from a very old friend of hers that was also at the game.  We snuck her into the suite and visited for a while.  Then kickoff happened and the noise was deafening!  I’ve never been to a professional ball game of any kind so I really wasn’t prepared for the noise level.  I brought ear plugs just in case.  We wore them for a while and then just gave up.  Since this was our first football game I found it hard to keep track of what was going on.  I really miss those fake lines they use on TV to show you where the line of scrimmage is, and the 1st down line.  We had a pretty good view of the field but it was still hard to figure out who did what.  The stadium announcer was nowhere near as descriptive as the TV commentators are.

Early on in the game it became apparent that the 49’ers were going to the Super Bowl.  They ran and ran and ran the ball.  They intercepted, they sacked, they recovered a fumble.  It was the 49’ers I remember.   And that last fumble recovery… game over.  Green Bay gave up and the 49’ers won, and Levi Stadium went crazy.

So needless to say, I CANNOT WAIT for this Super Bowl, the 49’ers vs the Chiefs.  Red on Red.  I love both teams so really, it’s a win-win situation for me.

The final downside to the trip came as we were leaving.  You see, I didn’t really keep track of where we were parked.  I knew what parking lot we were in but not really which gate it was or how to get there.  I saw some friendly looking security guards near one gate and asked them if they could tell me how to get to the Red Lot.  One of them immediately got in my face and asked me how come I didn’t know where I was.  He interrupted as I tried to explain… “How did you get here?  How can you not remember how you got here??!!”  Luckily one of the non-security officers piped up and told me that was the right gate to get to the Red Lot.

Geez, that’s all I was asking.

We quickly found our car, warmed up a bit and when traffic on our aisle died down headed home.  The trip home was MUCH faster than the trip to the stadium.  It only took 2 hours to get home from Santa Clara.  Trust me, that’s not bad at all.

So after all that would I go again?  You bet!  As long as the tickets are still free. 🙂  But personally for the most part I will just enjoy watching from home.

img_20200119_184520332