Fleming Meadows – Lake Don Pedro, Ca

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.

See you next time!

Yank’s RV Resort – AGAIN

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.

Friday

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!

Saturday

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.

Sunday

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

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.

Durango RV Resort

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.

Our site well after sunset
Three large fountains in the center of the park

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.

Enjoying our day in the park

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!

Just hanging out

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.

See you all next trip!

Angels Camp RV Resort

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?

Highway 49 bridge on the way to Columbia and Sonora, CA

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.

We’ll see you next month in Red Bluff, CA!

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.

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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. 🙂

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Trip To Hardin – Wrap Up

We are finally home after our partially successful trip to Hardin Missouri.  I say partially because we didn’t make it to Hardin.  I say successful because it was a fun memorable trip.  Not only did I get to cross some items off my bucket list and see some sites we never would have seen had we gone to Hardin, but we learned some things about our RV’ing style.

What I learned

  • We like RV parks
    Although I had planned to stay in some state parks along the way, and boondock at some Harvest Hosts, we really enjoyed the social aspects and easy of life at the RV parks.  You have unlimited electricity, water, and sewer.  It made life just that much easier and less “camp-like”.
  • We need a bigger trailer
    Duh.  If we’re going to do this full time, we will need a bigger trailer to live in.  We saw the exact unit we wanted camped right across the street from us at Distant Drums RV Resort.  When I talked to the gentleman who owned it the next morning I asked him what he did NOT like about the unit.  He said he wished he had bought the higher end unit rather than the middle of the line unit he had.  Good to know.
  • It’s all uphill
    I say this only slightly tongue in cheek; no matter which direction you drive in Arizona and New Mexico, it will be uphill.  If it’s not uphill it will be against the wind.
  • Never enough horsepower
    See the previous bullet point.  As a result, no matter what size trailer you get, make sure you get the maximum amount of horsepower you can to tow it.  You can’t have too much.  Especially with AZ an NM’s 75 MPH speed limit.  For ALL vehicles.  They don’t limit the speed of commercial trucks like they do in California.
  • Never too many plans
    I had a plan A, B, and C.  And when plan C fell through I came up with a plan D.  Always be flexible in your travels.  You never know what the weather is going to do.
  • Reservations never hurt
    One thing I didn’t take into account was the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.  As a result for a month or more leading up to and a month after all RV resorts in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe area had special “Fiesta Rates”.  In some case almost 50% higher than their normal rates.  And most parks did not have space.
  • Keep travel days short
    I found that when I planned for 4 hour travel days, they usually became over 5 hour travel days.  That’s.  Too.  Long.   In the future I’m only going to plan for three hours of travel.  Any more than that and it’s too fatiguing.  Plus you have time to do life once you arrive at your destination; laundry, email, bills, etc.
  • Travel less, stay longer
    Our next trip will be a short drive, and then a week’s stay.  Moving every couple of days is very tiring.
  • Keep track of time
    The days began to blur together.  We’re going to put a calendar in the trailer and mark off the days so we know what day it is and when we need to be where.  It was easy to forget.

That’s about it.  The last thing we found out is that we could very easily adapt to this lifestyle.  Cristy was somewhat worried to begin with but after about a week and a half she really began to enjoy herself.  If we could stay at our destinations longer she would absolutely love it.  I’m counting on that.

Oh, and we finally came up with a name for our trailer:

Little House on the Highway

 

Trip To Hardin – Day 22

Travel Day

This was just a travel day and not much to write about.  Other than the steep 6-8% uphill grade from Camp Verde 30 miles north up to Flagstaff.  It went better than I thought.  The truck performed better than I thought it would.  We stopped off in Kingman to make lunch in the trailer and then after lunch continued on to Needles to stay in the same park as before, Desert View RV Park.  We spent the afternoon catching up on phone calls and I took a much needed nap.  Then dinner, TV, and bed.

Trip To Hardin – Day 21

Sedona some more

This was our last full day in Sedona.  We decided to go back and do some more urban hiking in the downtown district.  It’s like any other touristy spot, like Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, or Cannery Row in Monterey, but we really enjoyed it there.  It’s fun to look at all the “Indian jewelry” and “mystic crystals”.   Pretty but nothing mystical about beveled glass.  We had lunch at Wildflower Bakery near the Hyatt and enjoyed the cliff views from their balcony.  Then we slowly walked across the entire shopping district and then the art district of Tlaquepaque.  This was the extent of our hiking today.  Then back to the RV resort and the hot tub!

 

I really enjoyed the hot tub at this park.  It was large, clean, warm, and I had some of the best conversations with people that I’ve had in a long time.  Learning about where they are from, how they are travelling, and where they are going.  Like the Germans who had come from Detroit and were on their way to San Diego before flying home to Germany.  They rented a Class C RV and were scouring the country looking for girls.  They hadn’t found any as of yet.  They were the only ones other than me to see the giant green meteor with the orange tail streak across the sky as we were sitting in the hot tub.  Or the couple from Surprise, Arizona who just come over to Sedona to relax.  The couple from Hawaii that keep an RV in Las Vegas because flights are cheaper from Honolulu to Las Vegas for some reason.  They come stateside and travel for several weeks before going home.  There was the single woman who lived full time in her RV travelling between Texas and Colorado.  All of them were great conversations and it was hard to leave, even after soaking for three hours.  All that to say that even though this RV park was next to a freeway, and a casino, it was easily my favorite park and we will be back.

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Trip To Hardin – Day 20

Chapel of the Holy Cross

Our first stop in Sedona today was a trip to the Chapel of the Holy Cross.   An architectural wonder!  There is lots to read on it’s history on Wikipedia but nothing prepares you for actually seeing this wonder.  Or at the very least, the views from the chapel.   We didn’t take any pictures of the interior out of respect for those who were praying inside.

Airport Mesa Trail

Afterwards we drove up to the Sedona Airport (KSEZ) and walked about 1/4 of the airport loop trail.  The trail circumnavigates the runway down on the side of the mesa and provides stunning views of the red rocks surrounding Sedona.  There is a parking lot just outside the airport where you can park for $3.00.  However, (pro tip) you can continue just past that lot and you come to the airport parking lot which is free and only adds about 100 steps to your hike.

The trail drops one or two hundred feet before joining up with the main loop trail.  It’s VERY rocky so watch your step.  Otherwise it’s an easy hike.  Down at the airport loop trailhead there is a rock with a trail and steps leading to the top of it.  It’s called the Sedona Trail View Point on Google.  Think mini-Half Dome.  We climbed to the top of that and found the most stunning views of Sedona.   The airport loop trail was a let down after this rock

After eating lunch at the top of the rock we headed back up the trail to the airport.  The downhill hike we had enjoyed had now turned into a longer uphill hike.  Luckily I found a shortcut to the airport frontage road which cut a lot of time off our hike.  We found the airport terminal to use some CLEAN restrooms and then headed back down to town.

Just when we thought we were done taking pictures…

Tomorrow is our last day in Sedona.  We’re going to go back to our favorite places in town (which will most likely include Starbucks) and just chill.

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Trip To Hardin – Day 19

Sedona

This is the grand finale of our trip.  We have wanted to visit Sedona for years and finally we are here.  Today was tourist day.  We stopped at some of the scenic overlooks on the way into town but mostly spent our time on tourist row.  “Indoor hiking” as Cristy calls it.  We bought some gifts for family and continued to take in the magnificent views of the cliffs.  Tomorrow we’ll do some outdoor hiking.  For now, enjoy the photos we took…

And in town I saw this statue which I’m including in homage to the folks I work with at San Joaquin General Hospital.

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More pictures of Red Rock Country tomorrow…

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