Last year we visited Durango RV Resort in Red Bluff, California and enjoyed our stay so much we wanted to go back. Unfortunately my planning was poor in that not only was it Father’s Day weekend, it was the hottest weekend of the season so far! High temps hit 111 degrees F in Red Bluff! However, Cristy and I still made the best of it even if we didn’t take many photos. It was just too hot to be outside much.
We drove up on Thursday and then just hung out and napped the first day. On Friday we drove out to Black Butte Lake to do some kayaking but our GPS took us to the wrong side of the lake. In fact, it was the dried up side of the lake. By the time we got to where we needed to be it was so hot we could only stand to be out on the water about 15 minutes before turning back. Seemed like a good excuse to go have lunch so that’s what we did! We headed back to Red Bluff and had lunch at Los Mariachis.
Later that day we spent some time at the resort’s pool but it was so chlorinated we had to cut it short and head back to the trailer. We watched movies I had downloaded to the iPad for the rest of the evening.
On Saturday we slept in. We had two choices that day, go to Mt Lassen Nat’l Park or go to Mt Shasta Shopping Mall in Redding. Only one of those choices had air conditioning so guess which won? Shopping is indoor hiking as far as Cristy is concerned and she had a ball. I most sat and people-watched and read Telegram. Afterwards we made dinner at home in the trailer and watched more movies.
Sunday was a travel day so we pretty much woke up, got the trailer ready to go (dump tanks, etc) and then hit the road for home. We did stop off at Nancy’s Airport Cafe in Willows, California. They have THE best breakfast you’ll ever find. And if you happen to have an airplane, you can fly in and park right next to Nancy’s.
It was hot but it was relaxing and we can’t wait to take our little house on the highway out again!
To celebrate Cristy’s birthday I booked us a weekend at Jackson Rancheria Casino RV Resort. It’s a very nice resort located just outside Jackson, Ca. We’ve been there once before when we first got our travel trailer but it’s been a couple of years. It’s just as nice now as it was then.
We packed up Friday morning and headed toward Gold Country in the Sierra Nevada foothills. We jumped on Highway 88 and took it all the way up to Jackson. We had called ahead and they said it was fine for us to arrive before the 3pm check-in time. We got there around 1:30pm and found we had been given a beautiful cul-de-sac spot near the entrance of the park. I thought it might be noisy but they told us it’s actually pretty quiet up near the office. She turned out to be right.
As is my custom on arrival day, after setting up I took a nap. I was lulled to sleep by the sound of raindrops on the roof and thunder lightning. Now, if you don’t live in the central part of California you won’t understand how rare this is for us. There are always thunderstorms in the mountains due to orographic lift of the ocean breezes coming from the Pacific. But the Central Valley rarely gets thunderstorms. So hearing the thunder as I was going to sleep was very nice.
Later we decided to drive into town for dinner. We ate at an unremarkable Mexican restaurant. It was just okay. So I don’t want to call them out on the blog, if you find them, you find them.
Saturday was celebration day for Cristy’s birthday and was pretty packed, for us. First we drove into Sutter Creek which is a historic mining town near Jackson. Cristy did some shopping at the small shops lining the narrow street. We stopped by the farmers market and bought an onion to cook with our steaks back at the trailer. Then we decided to look for coffee and boy did we find it! If you are ever in Sutter Creek plan to stop by Choc-O-Latte. I got a caramel latte and Cristy got a macha latte and they were both DEE-licious. The folks were super-friend and NO MASK REQUIRED! We sat at a small table near the window and finished our coffees before heading back to the trailer to cook lunch.
Once back at the trailer I fired up our Blackstone Griddle and started frying up the onions, steak, and some snap-peas. Again, the grass-fed sirloin was delicious. We enjoyed our leisurely lunch and then made plans to kayaking on Lake Tabeaud near Pine Grove. We got to the lake and spent about 45 minutes paddling around before it started getting cold and windy. By the time we had packed up the kayak the sun had come back out and it was starting to get hot. Spring time in California. We drove in to Pine Grove and stopped at Munnerlyn’s Ice Creamery. Cristy got a pint of dairy-free chocolate chip ice cream (made with coconut milk) and I got a strawberry milkshake. Again both were delicious.
Afterwards we headed back to the trailer and took a before-sunset walk around the RV Resort on their “nature trail”. It’s paved and circles the park. There’s not much nature but it is a beautiful walk.
After we scrounged for dinner we watched a movie and turned in for the night. It had been an eventful day so no problems falling asleep.
The next day (Sunday) Cristy’s actual birthday we listened to church online and then packed up and headed home. A very enjoyable but short weekend. We could do this for weeks and weeks! Can’t wait until my birthday trip next month!
This month’s camping outing was at Modesto Reservoir Regional Park just outside of Waterford, CA. It was an easy drive as we only live 45 minutes away from this park. We took our time getting the trailer ready on Friday because checkin isn’t until 4pm! That’s the latest checkin time I’ve ever run into. We decided to try our luck and drove out there about 1pm after lunch. We go there at 2pm and was told no problem. We found our site and had no trouble backing into it even though the sites are perpendicular to the street. Plenty of room to maneuver. I didn’t bother setting up water or sewer since we had empty black and grey tanks and a full fresh water tank. The camp site was nice and the view was wonderful.
We enjoyed taking a nap with the windows open enjoying the cool Spring breeze blowing through. It was idyllic… Until our neighbors showed up. They pulled into the spot right next to us. Rap music blaring while they set up their… tents. These folks were, shall we say, completely Section 8 through and through. Now these folks really were nice enough but entirely clueless about camping etiquette. They finally did turn the music off so the weekend wasn’t a total rap fest. But many other campsites we walked past were blaring every different kind of music you can imagine. Most of it not pleasant. Now, early mornings were very pleasant and peaceful because all the partiers were still asleep. But this is NOT a place to go to enjoy peace and quiet. Although I’ve never been there mid-week I suspect it is MUCH quieter at that time. We rounded out the evening by grilling tri-tip hamburgers and mac-n-cheese bratwurst on the Blackstone griddle.
To escape the music on Saturday we drove up into Sonora and had another delicious latte at Revive Coffee and a delicious lunch at Diamond Back Grill.
Sunday was much quieter as our neighbors left first thing in the morning. We enjoyed a nice breakfast of scrambled egg, bacon, and I also fried up some left over mac-n-cheese brats. Then we took a walk down by the lake and got ready to head back home.
So again, to wrap up this short entry, maybe this would be a good mid-week campground but unless you are a partier I would avoid the weekends here.
This past weekend we went camping at Fleming Meadows at Lake Don Pedro, in the Sierra Nevada foothills. We’ve been up to Lake Don Pedro many times. I’ve flown over it for years and years. This is the first time we’ve camped there. We picked Fleming Meadows because it is relatively close at only an hour a fifteen minutes away from home and it has full hookups (30A, Water, and sewer) at each site.
We left at around 1pm and got there shortly before 2:30pm only to find that check in time is 4:00pm! However, the ranger at the gate told us our site was unoccupied the night before so no problem with the early check in. Reservations were easy (and highly encouraged) via the Turlock Irrigation District website. TID owns the facilities up at Lake Don Pedro, including the huge hydroelectric dam that creates Lake Don Pedro. We found our site quickly and after a few tries got backed in and settled thanks to the superb directions from my co-pilot.
The first day we just decompressed, took a nap and then took a walk down to the lake to watch the boats and enjoy the scenery. Although there was plenty of scenery to enjoy right at our campsite.
But the walk was well worth it. Not only to enjoy the glimpse of pre-COVID life (very few people were masked and plenty of children running around playing together). We walked down the lake both days we were there.
The wildflowers were simply stunning.
On Saturday we drove into Lake Tulloch to buy some repair items from the hardware store. Some of the trim under our slide-out came loose and although I couldn’t repair it this particular weekend I bought some supplies that will help me make repairs next week. I’ll put up another post about that.
After buying parts at Ace Hardware (and RV repair) we drove to Sonora and had lunch at the Diamondback Grill. They have the best steak salad you’ve ever had. Yes, it’s salad with sliced steak on top. I had a bacon burger with garlic fries. Almost as much garlic as fries! And very good. Afterwards we walked up a couple doors to Revive Coffee and enjoyed two of the best lattes we’ve ever had. We sat and chatted in the coffee shop and enjoyed the afternoon. Cristy shopped at a little touristy store up the street and bought a T shirt that said “Don’t mess with Mama Bear!” (I don’t.) Then we headed back to camp to enjoy the sunset and watch a movie.
Sunday morning I made breakfast on the Blackstone griddle; eggs and bacon. I’m still trying to get the hang of that thing. Looked awful but tastes great! Then we packed up and headed for home. On the way, though, we stopped at Robert’s Ferry Nut Company just outside Waterford. Great little shop with delicious nut-based snacks… and milkshakes! I want to try their almond nut butter milkshake one of these days. After that we headed to the storage lot to put our “little house on the highway” to bed.
Overall Fleming Meadows is a very nice campground with very scenic views. If you can, try to stay midweek as I think it will be quieter. Weekends bring the party and boat crowds and they love to boast of their tales of daring do on the water well into the night. We will probably go back but we’ll make it mid-week and off-season next time.
We love our Lance 1995 travel trailer. Everything on it has worked well except for one component. It’s not that it doesn’t work. It just doesn’t work very long. I’m talking about the wind sensor in our Carefree Latitude awning. It has a motion sensor in it that detects awning movements caused by the wind and is there to protect the awning from wind damage by automatically retracting the awning. It is powered by two hearing aid batteries and they only last for about 6 weeks or so. It’s maddening. The sensor connects back to the awning controls via Bluetooth and when the batteries in the sensor go dead, of course it stops communicating. When it stops communicating with the awning controls the awning will retract half way, and then beep every 30 seconds. If you put the awning back out, it will again retract half way, and of course the beeping will continue as long as there is power to the awning. Even if you retract it all the way!
The workaround is to extend your awning and then turn the power off. Voilà! No more beeping. Of course if it gets windy the awning will not retract and could be damaged by the wind. Well, for about the 10th time since I’ve owned the trailer my awning started it’s beeping routine again. I removed the wind sensor from the awning (it’s under the front end cap) and opened it up.
Changing the batteries were not going to do any good as water had intruded through the screw holes and corroded the circuit board.
I called Carefree and after waiting on hold for 40 minutes was told that they would send me a new wind sensor for a little under $90 US. I did some research on the Lance Owners of America website and found that many people had received an updated sensor that takes AAA batteries and had received it for free. I decided to try their automated DIY warranty process on their website. I put in all the requested info an uploaded the above picture to them. I then received an email from them:
This was very good news to me. Not only are they sending me a new wind sensor but an entire Bluetooth kit! Free of charge. I was starting to wonder about Carefree’s customer service after having no luck getting hold of anyone the first time I called (6 months ago) and then told I would have to pay this time. I’ll post an update after I receive the kit and install the new sensor.
I was looking for a place a place for Cristy and I to go this weekend. I originally wanted to go back up to Durango RV Resort up in Red Bluff but they were booked solid for the weekend. I called around and found that Yanks had ONE MORE SPOT open for this weekend so I booked it. It was a long weekend with a my normal Friday off and then Monday being a holiday. Seems everyone had the same idea. I picked up the Lance on Thursday evening after work and drove it home to plug it in for the night. I also turned the refrigerator on to get it cooled down before we put food in it on Friday morning.
We loaded food and clothes up on Friday morning and after I checked all the air pressures in the tires we finally hit the road around 10:30am. The drive down I-5 was easy as the wind was at our backs. Driving over Pacheco Pass was fairly stress-free as well due to the lag of big rigs crawling over the steep incline. I was white knuckles the first time driving over but this time I felt very relaxed. We pulled over once for a potty break in the trailer and then finally pulled into Yanks at around 1:30pm. Note that one new change they have implemented is that you now pick up your check-in paperwork outside the front gate rather than in the front office. The nice lady told me they were supposed to call me. Nope. No call. And no big deal as I walked back out the front gate picked up my packet which was basically the park map with our site indicated and the best path to get to it. We drove right to it and quickly settled into the spacious 70-foot pull through site.
We were situated on the very end right next to the (super-clean, brand new) combo bathroom and shower rooms. Each bathroom has a toilet, sink, and shower with marble floors and walls. Very nice and clean. We also had a great view of the hills to the east and Pinnacles National Park. We spent the first day taking a nap, walking around the park, grilling burgers on our Blackstone griddle, and then watching a movie. We watched the marine layer (San Francisco fog basically) roll in while we ate dinner. And that was pretty much it for the first day. My favorite kind of day!
On Saturday we slept in and then headed down to Paso Robles to get some lunch. We’ve been through Paso many times over the years but have never been to their downtown area. We headed down 13th street and found some free street parking and then started walking through the small but lively downtown area. Even in the age of COVID it’s a pretty nice place, it must have really been something before the lockdowns. We settled on a restaurant called Fish Goucho on Park Street. It was very good and very pricey! That’s okay, God has blessed me with work throughout this pandemic so I’m happy to help out businesses who are struggling to stay open. Afterwards we strolled down to City Park. It was remarkably clean and free of homeless folks. The centerpiece of the park is the Public Library, which, is closed. Still a beautiful park. Then we walked back to Park Street and stopped at Brown Butter Cookie Company. Cristy bought some gluten-free chocolate-mint cookies with sea salt. I bought some regular cinnamon cookies. All of them were very good but a little on the sweet side. We then walked up to Spearhead Coffee for a couple of latte’s. We drank our coffee at one of their sidewalk tables and watched the fog burn off. The warm sun and the warm coffee felt very nice after the chilly foggy morning.
We headed back to the truck and then drove back to the RV resort. We took showers in their bathroom which is very nice! Nice to take a LONG HOT shower. The rest of the day was just kicking back in the trailer watching the wind blow outside. We watched another movie I had downloaded. Then after dinner clean up and did pretty much nothing until bed time.
I love days like that.
We slept in on Sunday morning and then watched our church services online. After lunch we decided to drive up to Pinnacles National Park. It was a little cold and damp but we’d never been there so we wanted to try it out AND it was only a 30 minute drive from our RV park. When we got there we found that the park and visitor center was closed although, they were allowing free access to the hiking trails. We parked along side the road just outside the gates as the parking lot was full. Apparently a lot of people knew there was no charge to enter the park at this time. We just decided to hike one of the smaller loops as it was pretty damp and chilly up there. The peaks there spend much of their time in fog that comes down from Monterey Bay. After our decidedly short time at Pinnacles we headed back down. We spent the remainder of the day relaxing even MORE when we got back to the trailer.
Monday was travel day heading back home. We pulled out of the park at about 10:30am and made the 3 hour drive back home. Traffic was heavier going home but still not too bad. Not much to write about on travel days. They are what they are. I will add that my personal travel maximums are: drive no more than two hours before taking a break, travel no farther than two hundred miles, stay no less that two days. It’s my 2:2:2 rule. I don’t always abide by it but it’s my goal. Well, that was our trip to Greenfield, CA and Yank’s RV Resort. On to planning our March trip. See you next time.
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 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 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.