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!

 

Jackson Rancheria RV Park

We just got back from a two night stay at Jackson Rancheria RV Park.  Jackson Rancheria is a casino owned by a local tribe of Miwuk Indians.  I have to admit, we’re not casino people and we didn’t venture to the casino.  But the RV park is top notch and the owners should be proud of what they have created.  We were greeted warmly when we arrived and I did not have to ask a single question.  Christina, who checked me in, answered every question I had before I even asked!  The RV spots are spacious and there is ample room between spots.   We had a back in spot on the east edge of the park.  The wide concrete pad was level and was surrounded by grass.  We were also given a garbage bag when we checked in just in case we didn’t have any.

As I was setting up a familiar face walked into my campsite.  It was my old buddy Bob!  Bob and I were aviation buddies back in the day.  We even owned an aircraft together for a brief time until my OCD couldn’t handle it any longer.  We chatted for a bit and thin I finished setting up.  After getting set up we took a walk around the park on their nature trail, after visiting with Bob and his wife some more.  The trail loops around the perimeter of their park.  We stopped in the office and helped ourselves to free popcorn.  Then we headed back to make dinner and catch up on some movies.

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The next morning after breakfast we drove down in to Jackson and walked around their downtown district.  It was nice but not much was open on Monday morning.  Seems the weekends are their big days.  Afterwards we drove to Sutter Creek which had a larger historic district and more stores were open.  We had lunch, shopped a little, then drove to Lake Tabeaud Day Use Area for a little hike.  It was overcast but still kind of warm and balmy.  The landscape was rich and green with all the recent rains.  We drove home for more dinner and movies.

The following morning was “go-home” day.  We slept in, had a late breakfast then packed up and drove home.  We really enjoyed Jackson Ranceria’s RV Park and since it’s so close to home we’ll definitely be back many more times!

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Our Second Harvest Host Stay

img_20190223_165745Well, a mere one week after our first Harvest Host stay at Klinker Brick Winery in Lodi we stayed at another winery.  This time we stay in Merced at Vista Ranch and Cellars.  My brother was going to be staying the night after we did.  I would have liked to have stayed the same night but I had work the next day.  So we spent a nice afternoon walking around the vineyard and orchards, dodging the bees who where busy doing their jobs, and just enjoying the break from the rain.  We stopped by the tasting room but since I don’t drink, I had a bowl of lobster bisque.  It was delicious!  Cristy tasted some sparkling wine and bought something in the gift shop as a thank you for being able to stay in such a beautiful location.

Most Harvest Host locations are boondocking only, meaning, there are no facilities available.  You bring your own power and plumbing.  This winery is different in that they provide three spaces that have water and 50 amp electric service.  No sewer service or dump station is available.  However, having electricity is AWESOME!  And if I’d known they have water, I’d never have filled up my fresh water tank to save some weight.

We spent the evening reading and catching up on some TV shows I downloaded to our iPad.  We heated up the soup she had brought and enjoyed a nice quiet dinner.  Even though there was a high school dance going on at the event center also located on the winery grounds, it was still very peaceful

That is, until a train went by.  And they go by very often.  There is a very busy stretch of railroad right on the other side of the street.  At times during the night it sounded like some of the trains were going to come right through our trailer!  But I fell right back asleep each time.

The next day we slept in.  I cooked some eggs for breakfast, and then we watched our church live on their website.  Just as church was ending my brother and his wife showed up.  We caught up a little, gave them the grand tour of our little Lance, and then headed back up to the visitor center to have some lunch together.  After some great conversation I had to start packing up.  Amazed that three hours could pass so quickly.

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It was really nice catching up with my brother and just enjoying a quiet getaway to Vista Ranch.  We will definitely be back soon!

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Our First Harvest Host Stay

Many RV’ers take advantage of a website called Harvest Hosts.  It is a searchable map of wineries, farms, museums, golf courses, and assorted other attractions that allow RV’ers to stay overnight for free.  The assumption is that you will patronize their facility.  Cristy and I found Klinker Brick Winery in Lodi, CA through Havest Hosts and stayed there this past weekend.

They have a great facility with LOTS of RV parking behind the winery right next to their  vineyards.  It’s a beautiful view!  The only problem we ran into was that it had rained heavily off and on for the past two weeks.  This made for some very large puddles and some very soft ground.

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I did my best to find a high spot to park the trailer but we were tip toeing around puddles all weekend.  Still the folks at the winery tasting room were really friendly and understanding.  They offered to pull out their tractor if I got stuck in the mud. And the view during breakfast was outstanding!

After breakfast we took a walk before heading over to the tasting room.  I don’t drink wine and Cristy can’t drink wine so it was a short visit.  However, since we wanted to support them Cristy bought a T shirt.

We really enjoyed our stay at Klinker Brick and can’t wait to try another Harvest Host location.  Which, incidentally, will be next weekend when we stay at Vista Ranch and Cellars in Merced, CA.  We’ll let you know how that went.

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Beautiful walk!  But COLD!