Travel Trailer Touch Ups

As we are counting down to our road trip to Missouri we have started getting our Lance Model 1995 travel trailer ready for the big trip.  There was one maintenance item and one upgrade that I wanted to take care of today.  Actually the maintenance item only cropped up today!

First the maintenance item.  I brought our trailer home from the storage yard and back it into our driveway.  Since California’s dust harvest is in full swing our trailer is just coated with the Central Valley’s finest Modesto series loam.  I gave the trailer a good rinse and took a sponge mop to the roof to get the stubborn stuff up there.  Afterwards I went to plug in the electrical cord from the trailer to the house.  When I opened the electrical connector cover on the side of the trailer, the cover broke off.   Ugh.  While it won’t affect operation of the trailer’s electrical system, it does leave the electrical plug exposed to the elements.   It needed to be replaced.  I found an exact replacement (the cheapest model they sell) at a local RV sales lot.  It only took about 10 minutes to replace.  Even though the trailer is still under warranty I elected to do the work myself because if I had taken it back to the dealer it would probably be sitting there for weeks and wouldn’t be ready in time for our trip.  Ten minutes and $40 was worth it to me.

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Next the upgrade item.  Our shower has a single handle control for the water.  It is VERY touchy.  There is very little adjustment available between BRRR COLD and OUCH HOT!  We actually waste more water trying to adjust it to our comfort.  After reading some posts on the Lance Owners of America forum I elected to replace the single handle control with dual controls.  One other modification I made was to add a check valve on the hot water side of the controls.  I call it a water diode.  (Electrical types will recognize this immediately but for the rest of you, a diode only allows electrical current to flow one way)  I added this check valve because there is a shutoff valve on the shower hose that allows you to instantly cut off water flow without having to turn the valves.  However, when we did this I found that the cold water was backflowing into the hot water line back towards the hot water tank.  This meant that when you opened the shutoff valve again you would get a blast of cold water until the hot water flowed back through the pipe and into the shower hose.  UN-acceptable!  The check valve will prevent water from flowing back down the hot water hose.  I haven’t tried it yet but I’m sure it will solve the problem.

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So far we are really enjoying our trailer and look forward to the trip.  Look for more about that in an upcoming article.

Saturday Drive to Silver Lake

After my awesome Friday, flying in the morning, camping in the evening, we had to make Saturday every bit as good.  But without the flying, Mrs. Flying Dutchman doesn’t like flying so much.  Since it was forecast to be hot again we decided to drive higher up into the mountains.  Our destination was only an hour away; Silver Lake.  When we arrived we found a lovely 75 degree day rather than the 98 degrees it was forecast to be back at the trailer.  We hiked along one of the roads along the shoreline and then moved to different section of the lake and did some rock hopping and took in the beautiful sights.

After spending several hours at the lake it was time to head back but not before swearing to come back after tourist season is over.  Even the drive back down the mountain was beautiful.

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Sunday Morning

On our last day we just hung around in bed for a while, had a leisurely breakfast, and then watched church on our phone.  Afterwards we packed everything up, got the trailer ready to travel, and then drove back down the mountain to Modesto.  It was a wonderful, relaxing weekend.

Awesome Friday

Morning Flight

This was a great Friday.  Due to some personal business I was FORCED to take the day off.  Okay, no one forced me, I forced myself.   But since I was home anyway, and I didn’t want to wake Cristy, I decided to head out to Oakdale to test out my new Electronic Flight Bag.  An EFB has all the info a pilot needs including airport information, temporary flight restriction, NOTAMS, and most important of all, up to date navigation charts.  The EFB I use runs on my iPad and it’s called Foreflight.  Foreflight will display your aircraft’s GPS position right on a navigation chart, what’s more, it integrates with the airplane’s transponder to display ADS-B data on the chart as well.  What’s ADS-B data, you may ask?  It’s basically real-time traffic position data that is transmitted by air traffic control every time their radar sweeps the sky.   Today was to be the first time I display traffic on my EFB and it worked like a charm!

I booked the Cessna 152 out at the airport at 6am and by 6:30am was climbing out and heading south for a quick flight to Turlock and back.  As I said this was mostly just to test the ADS-B functionality of my EFB.  I was amazed how many airplanes it picked up.  It won’t pick up every aircraft in the sky but it will pick up a good portion of them.  In fact, it picked up one that was dead ahead of me and at my same altitude.  I scanned the sky carefully and was finally able to see it!  Another aircraft heading into Turlock.  You can see it in the photo below depicted as N543RR.

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I continued my approach into Turlock, landed, taxied back, and took off again for Oakdale.  Fiddling with my new EFB the whole way back.  I was an early adopter of ForeFlight years ago and I can’t believe how may features they have packed into it now!  After arriving back at Oakdale I put the plane away and began on the second part of my awesome Friday!

 

RV Trip to Gold Country Campground Resort

On my way home from the airport I swung by the RV storage yard and picked up our Lance travel trailer.  I had reserved two nights at Gold Country Campground Resort.  We packed up our food and clothes and then headed up into the Sierra Nevada foothills to try to beat the heatwave we were experiencing down in the Central Valley.  Unfortunately, our campground was not high enough in elevation to beat much of the heat.

We checked in at the campground office and were given a map to our site.  I asked if it was a pull-thru or back-in site and the young woman told me it was a back-in site.  So after finding the site and backing in, I found that the utilities (power, water, sewer) were on the wrong side of the trailer!  It was actually a head-in site!  I pulled out and went round the loop again and pulled straight into the site and then everything lined up perfectly.

After getting set up we cranked up the AC to cool off.  It was 97 degrees outside!  We took a nap first hoping to sleep away the hotted part of the day.  It was still hot when we woke up so we jumped into the truck and drove into town to get some ice cream.  Munnerlyn’s Ice Creamery was just a few miles away in the town of Pine Grove.  We stopped in and got some vegan blueberry ice cream.  It is non-dairy and made out of coconut and blueberries.  I’m NOT a vegan but this stuff was delicious!  All of their ice creams are hand made onsite and it is worth a trip if you are anywhere within a 2 hour drive!

After dessert we decided it was time for dinner.  We drove down to Jackson and had dinner at Highway House Restaurant and Bar.  Afterwards we drove back to the campground and sat out under the awning while the sun went down.  Then we watch some Netflix shows I had saved on our iPad and then we turned in.

More to come…

Weekend Getway to Flying Flags RV Resort

 

This past weekend Cristy and I decided to get away for a few days so we loaded up the trailer and headed for Flying Flags RV Resort in Lodi, CA.  It’s located just off I-5 and Highway 12 just west of Lodi.  I wouldn’t really call it a resort.  The spaces were close together and there is no greenery… just rocks.  But it’s very clean and quiet so it made an ideal base for our weekend in Lodi.  We used our Passport America membership to effectively get 1/2 off the price for two days.  Very worth it.

We got to Flying Flags around 12 noon which is their check-in time.  The front desk staff quickly found my reservation and gave me all the info I needed as far as where our space was, WiFi passwords, pools, bathrooms, etc.  We found our space and within an hour were all set up, sitting in the dinette with the AC blowing full blast.  It was already quite warm outside by this time.

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I was eager to try my new X-Chocks.  Even with our wheels chocked the trailer still rocked quite a bit whenever we would move around inside.  With the X-chocks in place the trailer was almost rock solid.  Very pleased with this latest purchase.

 

 

We channel surfed TV for a bit then decided it was nap time.  Yay!  My favorite time of day!  After napping we began looking for a place to have dinner.  Cristy already knew exactly where she wanted to eat: Thai Spices in Lodi.  VERY good Thai food there.  After dinner we headed back to the trailer and tried sitting under the awning to watch the sunset and enjoy the Delta breezes cooling down our hot valley.  UNFORTUNATELY the folks in the next space over decided to enjoy a nice LONG cigar.  It chased us back indoors where we had to close all the windows and turn the AC back on.  This was really the only downside to the whole trip.  Luckily they left the next morning.  But for the remainder of the evening we watched a movie I had downloaded onto my iPad and then called it a night.

The next morning I went out and sat under the awning and read a recent issue of General Aviation News – a rare treat.  I never get to just sit and read aviation news.  I did that partially to enjoy the cool morning and partially to just get out of the trailer so Cristy could sleep in.  When I heard her stirring within I went back inside and we had breakfast.  We decided we wanted to do some walking but not as long as our walk around Pinecrest Lake and looked around for a place to do that.  We decided to go to Lodi Lake Park which was just up the street from Thai Spices.

We parked on the south side of the lake first and then walked on the west shore of the lake ending up in a Masonic cemetery.  Many of the tombstones were very ornate (because… they’re Masons) and dated back to the early 1800’s.  We poked around in the cemetery for awhile until the “noseeums” started eating us up then we headed back towards the parking lot.  We stopped at a bench along the way and sat and watched a pack of kayakers enjoying the morning out on the lake.  Then we headed back to the parking lot and wanted to see what else the park had to offer.

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The lake is actually a large lagoon connected to the Cosumnes River.  We looked at the park map and found a few more parking lots over near the river so we headed over there.  Just in time as it turns out because by this time the park was beginning to fill up with people having picnics and birthday parties.  We parked and then walked a nature trail that ran along the river then back through the riparian forest that grows along side the river.  We enjoyed the many interpretive signs along the trail.

By now it was 1pm and we were both getting hungry. HEY!  Thai Spices is just a mile up the road, let’s head there!  Good idea!   So after lunch at Thai Spices we headed back to the RV park for some more reading and napping.  But we also had something special to get ready for in Modesto.  Our daughter Angela was playing her music on the patio at church that evening.  This is an event our church puts on in the summer.  They invite member musicians to play music on their large patio and the church serves free hot dogs, or pizza, or snow cones or something.  It’s just a safe place for people to go, get something to eat, and hang out.  At any rate we really enjoyed Angela’s music.  Here is a small sample of what she did that night.

 

We really enjoyed listening to her.  Afterwards we headed back to the RV park for another movie and then bed.  At least this time we could open the windows because the cigar smokers were gone!

Sunday morning I woke up and did pretty much the same thing as Saturday morning.  After breakfast we watched church on their live Internet video stream, packed up, and headed back home.  All in all a great weekend getaway!

 

Weekend Getaway to Vista Ranch and Cellars

I took this past Friday off as my birthday holiday and Cristy and I hitched up the trailer and headed down to Vista Ranch.  Turns out Friday was a good day to head down there as they were set to have live music and food from 6pm to 9pm at Vista Ranch.  I ordered a veggie pizza and Cristy got a farmer’s market salad.  The pizza was delicious.  It was cooked in a woodfire pizza oven onsite.  The salad was made from greens bought at a farmer’s market and was really fresh.  We ate our dinner and then enjoyed the jazz trio for another hour or so.

On Saturday we drove up to Mariposa and let Cristy do a little window shopping in their small downtown.  Then we had lunch at High Country Health Foods & Cafe.  Also great food.  This is a hidden gem in Marioposa right off Highway 140 on the way up to Yosemite.  After lunch it started getting hot so we headed back to the trailer to watch some videos I had downloaded onto the iPad and take a nap.  After dinner we sat outside and watched the sunset.

Sunday morning we had breakfast, watched our church’s live stream and sat out side and just chilled.  We did nothing because we wanted to do nothing.

This was probably the most relaxing outing we’ve had in the trailer yet.  It wasn’t cold, it wasn’t raining, the air conditioner worked perfectly, and the nights cooled down enough to where we didn’t need it.  No allergies, no noise, no worries.  We can’t wait to go out again.

 

Garmin RV 780 GPS

Get Custom RoutesI recently picked up a Garmin RV 780 GPS to replace my aging Garmin Nuvi.  A lot of people use their smartphones and I get that.  I largely use mine for quick navigation.  But Google maps will not tell you if you have bridge up ahead that is too low for the travel trailer you’re towing!  So I bought a GPS that is geared towards RV’s and camping.

Know What’s Ahead

I pulled it out of the box and found it very easy and intuitive to set up and use.  I still haven’t looked at the manual or online documentation yet.  Haven’t needed to.  It goes through a start up wizard where it connects to a WiFi network, and then tries to pair to your phone via Bluetooth.  Both worked well.  After connecting to my home WiFi network I did a system and database update.  This took about 30 minutes to download and install but it did everything itself.  I didn’t need to intervene other than to restart the download one time.  (We were watching Netflix at the time so that could have something to do with it).  Part of the setup suggests that you install their Garmin mobile app on your smartphone which will allow you to get real-time traffic and weather updates as well a do hands-free calling on your phone (if your car doesn’t already do that).  Incoming emails and texts can also be displayed.

Outsmart the TrafficThe features in this unit and the speed FAR surpass my old GPS unit.  Screen updates are really fast and it’s very responsive to touch input.  Inputting a route is very easy as it autocompletes what you are typing and brings up suggestions you can select rather than type out the entire place name.   You can also use the Garmin Drive App to find the place you are going to and send it to the RV 780 so you never even need to touch the GPS.  I love the real-time traffic updates.  It will tell you what’s been reported up ahead on your route and how much time it will add.  It also has the capability to display images from traffic cameras up ahead on your route too though I haven’t found a way to make it do that automatically like it does with traffic.  Also the traffic camera images don’t refresh, they are just snapshots. One of the dislikes I have is the voice that they have chosen to use in this GPS.  It’s a slightly abrasive female voice.  I prefer the female voice in my older Garmin unit.

I’ve still yet to use this on an actual trip with my travel trailer.  I’ve only used it a couple of days on my commute to work.  But on those drives it’s worked really well.  After I get a few more miles under my belt I’ll report back on how it’s doing.

Twisted Oak Winery

Well, after a week of doctor appointments for both ourselves and our conserved son Cristy and I felt a need to get away for a few days to relax and unwind.  We took this opportunity to get our Lance 1995 out of storage for the weekend and take it up to Twisted Oak Winery  which is in the heart of Gold Rush Country near Angels Camp, California.

Twisted Oak Winery participates in Harvest Hosts which allows members to stay for a night or two for free at participating wineries, farms, museums, and golf courses.  Twisted Oak even takes the extra step of offering one free wine tasting for their Harvest Hosts guests.  The hope is that you will like what you taste and make a purchase.

I called the week before and was told that they didn’t have anything happening the weekend that I wanted to stay but I should probably call back the day before to be sure.  I did and they didn’t… have anything happening that is so everything was all set.  We hitched up the Lance the night before and loaded it up with our clothes and groceries for the weekend.  The next day, after seeing Avenger’s Endgame, we hopped into my trusty (if not gutless) RAM 1500 and hauled our little wagon up to Twisted Oak.

When I had spoken to them they said there were two entrances to the winery.  The first one I would come to goes up a dirt road and is a little, um, twisty.  They recommend that people with RVs take the second entrance which is paved.  We took that entrance and pulled into the parking lot.  We saw one Airstream trailer parked at the far side of the lot.  I went in to ask where we could park and was told I could park anywhere along the edges of the parking lot, on any side as long as I didn’t block a driveway or their gravel “party area”.

Looking at the Airstream I could see that they were parked in full sun, and had one of their wheels on blocks because the parking lot wasn’t level over there.  That’s not good because I’m lazy.  I elected to park on the west side of the parking lot, in the shade of the trees, where it was level.  It was a really good spot not only because it was level but also a stand of bushes and lavender blocked our view of the Airstream trailer across the parking lot.  We couldn’t see them, they couldn’t see us.  Wonderful!

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After setting up the trailer and unhitching we decided that the first item on the agenda was a nap.  Cristy read for a while but I guess my napping called to her because she soon laid down on the bed with me and we were both snoozing away.  After our naps we went into the tasting room and that was when we found out that Harvest Host guests get a complimentary tasting.  We tasted a few of their wines but honestly, we’re not wine drinkers, I don’t drink alcoholic drinks at all.  I’m sure their wines are very good but I’m not the best judge.  We thanked them and then headed back outside.

They are very family friendly here with games and toys for the kids outside.  Plenty for both adults and kids to do while there.  They have picnic tables so you can make an afternoon of it and have lunch.  And the views are wonderful!

It was getting late so we decided to drive up to Murphys to find some dinner.  We ended up at El Jardin.  It’s a local Mexican restaurant chain that we’ve eaten at before but this was our first time in their Murphys restaurant.  It’s smaller than most but they have a great outside patio to dine at.  A small creek runs right past the tables.  Dinner was great as usual and the staff were very friendly as you would expect in a small town like Murphys.  After dinner we headed back to Twisted Oak, enjoyed the sunset, watch a movie I had saved on my iPad and then went to sleep.

The next morning after a sniffley, sneezey night we awoke to a beautiful, peaceful morning.  After breakfast we took a walk down to the vineyards.  It was a warm Spring weekend and the air temperature was perfect at 65 degrees.  Since I didn’t buy any wine I paid them back by putting the chickens back up in the trees in their Rubber Chicken National Forest.  We enjoyed the quiet of the vineyard and grounds since they hadn’t opened yet.

Once back to the trailer I had to succumb to taking some Benadryl.  After about an hour it hit me and I had to take a quick nap.  Cristy took some soon afterwards and was conked out next to me on the bed.  After we woke up we decided to head back in to Murphys for lunch and some shopping.  That’s Cristy’s favorite form of relaxation! We had lunch at Alchemy Cafe.  Always delicious and then walked the main street poking our noses into the shops and boutiques.  Cristy bought some of her favorite spices at The Spice Tin and then we decided to head back to our trailer to nurse our allergies some more.  Back at the trailer we watched another movie, took another nap, and then watched the sun set.  It was probably the most awesome day we’ve had in a while. 🙂

I need to insert something here about the roads leading to Twisted Oak.  The first entrance is a twisting dirt road that takes you up to the winery, the second is a shorter paved road that also takes you to the winery.  If at all possible take the dirt road, the first driveway.  It’s easily passable by any car, just don’t try it if you’re towing a trailer.  You’ll be rewarded with some of the most entertaining signs you’ll ever see.

The next morning we hung out, had some breakfast, and after watching our church service on our smartphone we hitched up the trailer and headed back down the hill to home.

Even though it was such a short outing, and we were sneezing almost the whole time (we went through 3 boxes of Kleenex) we still felt really relaxed and refreshed.  I’m already trying to plan our next outing and more than likely, it will involve Harvest Hosts.

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