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!

Flight To Auburn With Angela

This past Saturday was awesome not only because I got to fly, it was awesome because I got to fly with a young woman I love very much! My daughter Angela. When she was younger I took her flying a few times. She went because I was her dad and told her we were going flying. Well, she’s grown up now and I can’t make her fly with me any more. Luckily she has, without any intervention on my part, started to develop an interest in aviation. I never wanted to pressure my family to like my hobby, just accept that aviation is a huge part of who I am. So it came as a wonderful surprise to me that she was developing this interest.

So about 4 months ago we went flying and I let her take the controls and see what it felt like. It was a lot different that what she expected I think. The plane seemed to do whatever I asked but it didn’t seem to want to listen to her. I explained that after some time in the cockpit you develop a feel for the plane and it becomes much easier. We tried again last month but the plane’s engine didn’t sound right so I asked the owner to check it out. I belong to an aero club and don’t own my own aircraft any more.

Well the stars finally aligned this past Saturday and we got in the trusty little Cessna 152 and launched toward Auburn Airport (KAUN). As soon as we had reached our cruising altitude of 3000 feet MSL (mean sea level) I gave her the airplane. When an airplane is trimmed up properly and on course, there really isn’t a whole lot to do. She finally tried some turns with some coaching from me. She was having problems with the nose dropping when she turned the plane. I told her that what I do is pull back slightly on the yoke when turning. For a very gentle turn I told her to just squeeze the yoke, that would cause her to involuntarily pull the yoke back just enough. She tried a few turns and started to get the feel of it. Mostly she was just content to hold the plane on course for Auburn.

Wings Grill and Espresso Bar

Once we got to within 10 miles of Auburn I took the airplane back from her and brought us in for a fairly decent landing. We taxied to the transient parking area and tied the plane down. We walked across the ramp to the Wings Grill & Esspresso Bar. We ordered a couple of fancy coffees and then grabbed a table and watched the airplanes taxi, takeoff, and land. Coffee and a show! It’s always a lot of fun to be able to just sit and talk to my daughter. We don’t always communicate that well, at least I don’t, so it’s always a treat for me to talk to her and find out what kind of woman she’s become. Happily the one thing we do have in common is Jesus!

Watching the show out on the runway

After coffee we walked around the ramp a little at looked at some of the airplanes. She was especially interested in the Russian Antonov AN-2 Colt biplane that was parked there.

Antonov AN-2 Colt at Auburn Airport

It was starting to get hot so we both thought it best to start heading back. I didn’t want her perfect (so far) flight to be marred by a bunch of thermal turbulence on the way home. We got back into the airplane taxied out to the runup area and prepared to depart. I made sure to lean the mixture for best power prior to takeoff, Auburn is at 1500 feet elevation and with a temperature of about 85 degrees that made the density altitude (the altitude the airplane “thinks” it’s at) about 3500 feet. There was no issue during the takeoff run and we cleared all the surrounding hills easily. It’s mostly downhill back into the valley after that.

We cruised back home looking for airplanes, helicopters, or anything else that might want to ruin our perfect day. Angela flew a bit more but I think it was becoming a little fatiguing. Step by step, she’ll get it. I don’t think this means she wants to become a pilot just yet but I’m so happy she’s expressing at least an interest in aviation. But to be on the safe side I bought her a logbook and a set of aircraft headsets. Hey, a dad can dream can’t he?

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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Dragoon Gulch Trail – Sonora, Ca

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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NFC Playoffs

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

* Stunned silence *

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Yes, sure I’ll take them!

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

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

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

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

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Finally…

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

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All free.

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

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

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

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

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

Geez, that’s all I was asking.

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

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

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The Obligatory New Year’s Post

Happy New Year 2020!

Wow, 2020.  Seems so futuristic.

Sealab 2020 (1972)

When I was a kid in the 1970’s 2020 seemed so far away with it’s underwater cities and moon bases.  Here it is and we don’t live underwater or on the moon.  Instead we’ve expanded to living in tents on sidewalks or under freeway overpasses.

But I’m not going to turn this into social commentary.  I am, however, going to take a look at the past 10 years and how much things have changed for my family.  Way back in 2010 I was building my second airplane with the help of my kids.  I did the majority of the work but they did help on many components.

We were attending church at Central Valley Presbyterian where I was a deacon.  Also, Cristy had to make an emergency trip back home to the Philippines because her father passed away. That’s how the decade began.

In 2011 I sold our pop-up tent trailer in which I had taken the family on several camping trips.  The most memorable of which was Zion Canyon National Park.  I also flew the Rans S6 to Oshkosh, WI for EAA Airventure.  My oldest graduated high school.

In 2012 we took a family trip to Maui.  Yep, all of us, mother-in-law included.  However, my daughter had broken her ankle just prior to the trip… and then came down with a cold!  She didn’t get to have much fun in Hawaii, poor thing.  But she made up for that later.

In 2013 life was pretty much on auto-pilot.  Going to work, going home.  Home-schooling our daughter was coming to an as we put her in a private school so she could get some socialization and a real-live high school diploma.  Two kittens named Jovie and Truffles showed up in my son’s pockets one day when he came home.  Truffles still lives with us.  Jovie moved on shortly after he came to live with us.  Cristy and I also took a trip to Oregon to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.

   

In 2014 I was beginning to explore full-time RV living.  I started coming up with a plan to travel from property to property for my employer to do network work.  However 2015 would put an end to those dreams, temporarily.

2015 was a harbinger of change for our lives.  Our daughter graduated from high school and we changed churches.

2015 was also when I had an accident in my airplane.  I landed up in the Sierra Nevada foothills and took the landing gear off.  Hey, it could happen to anybody!  Unfortunately, it happened to me.  We got a big insurance settlement and everything was good.  I was putting the airplane up for sale anyway.  It was at this point Cristy and I were seriously looking at RV’s so I was looking for a more portable form of aviation.  I found it in the form of powered paragliding.

2016 was a gut punch.  I was told that my entire department would be laid off that year.  Also my son was going through some extreme behaviors.  It seemed like my life was about to hit rock bottom.  SEEMED.  We started putting my son in group homes which he kept getting kicked out of due to his behaviors.  But 2016 was the year God truly moved in our lives.  He found a home that was able to really work with my son.  And He found me a job.  This is when I started working at San Joaquin General Hospital.  To celebrate my getting a job we took a family road trip to SoCal.  I also got a Ham radio license so I could legally use a Ham radio on my powered-paraglider.

 

In 2017 life started getting somewhat better for us.  My son was living in a home only 5 miles from where I worked.  My daughter was getting very involved in church and starting college.  Cristy and I also celebrated our 30th anniversary in Hawaii.

 

 

 

 

 

Also, Angela finished the Spartan Race

By 2017 I had sold my powered paraglider and had bought my powered parachute.  Cristy and I had also started walking more, trying to get in shape.

2018 was another year that brought a lot of change.  Mostly in me.  Through walking and intermittent fasting I was able to lose about 50 lbs.

This is me just prior to losing weight…

And this is what I looked like post weight loss…

2019 was a sad year.  We lost my sister Sheila to cancer.  We lost my wife’s cousin Jaime to kidney disease.  I was diagnosed with invasive malignant melanoma.

2019 was a happy year because we became part of a small group at our new church.  We received a lot of support from them and they came along side us in prayer many times.  The doctors were able to remove all of the melanoma.  I also sold my powered parachute and began flying rental airplanes.  I got back into regular airplanes after a young man from my old church took me for a ride to pay me back for all those times I took him for rides when he was learning to fly.  Now we fly together whenever we can.

2019 ended with my son being removed from a bad living situation in the group home he was in.  He now lives back in town with us, which, he has been asking for quite some time.  My daughter also bought a poodle this year.

It’s been a tumultuous decade.  We’ve covered a lot of territory in the last 10 years.  Who knows where we’ll be 10 years from now.  Not sure but I sure like where we are now.  I wouldn’t trade a second of the last 10 years for anything.  I’ve seen God’s faithfulness and Providence countless times.  I see God’s love in those around me every day.  I don’t expect that to change much.  I’ll keep doing what I can to reflect God’s love to those around me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awesome Day

Flight to Columbia

It’s one of those days that I need to keep me going.  It started out early and COLD!  My flying buddy Jordan texted me last night and asked if I wanted to go on a quick flight the next morning.  Just a quick 30 minute flight up to Columbia (O22) and back to Oakdale (O27).  I had plans to drive up to Sacramento with Cristy but I had a feeling that I could fly with Jordan and be back home before Cristy even had breakfast.  Turns out, that was the case.

I met up with Jordan out at the airport around 6:00am or so.  We got the airplane ready (trying not to shiver too much in the predawn twilight). We squeezed ourselves into our little Cessna 152 and were taxiing out to take off just as the sun was starting to peek above the Sierras.

 

It was a beautiful flight up to Columbia.  Nothing would be open when we got there but that wasn’t the point.  Whenever I fly, and this morning was no exception, the destination is always secondary to the journey.  The journey IS the destination.

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As I said it is a quick flight up to Columbia from Oakdale.  It’s the “mountain airport” in our back yard.  It took about 30 minutes to fly up there.  No small feat as we were flying almost directly into the sun.   The airport is very difficult to locate as it sits in the shadow of a hill and is hard to spot during these early mornings until you are right on top of it.  However, Jordan demonstrated his piloting prowess and got us in and down in one piece.

As I thought everything was closed when we got there.  It was only about 7:30am and they hadn’t opened up the FBO yet.

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We piled back into the plane and headed back down to Oakdale.  Yours truly was the pilot in command for the return leg of the trip.  We scampered skyward and followed the lava flows from Columbia back down to Knights Ferry and then back home to Oakdale.  I entered on a left crosswind and made a fairly decent landing.  It was an awesome way to start the day.

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Pilot Life

LaMesa RV

After the flight I headed back home and picked Cristy up and we drove up to Sacramento.  The reason for our trip was to check out some 5th wheel trailers at LaMesa RV.  On the way up I stopped off at Meeks RV in Acampo to pick up some repair parts for my Lance 1995 travel trailer.  They were minor nuts and bolts, easily repairable and no need to take the whole trailer in.

The 5th wheels we wanted to see at LaMesa are a new brand that just came to my notice called Vanleigh.  They are manufactured by Tiffin, the famous motor coach manufacturer.  We have been looking at them online and liked what we saw but we wanted to see what the build quality was like.  While we originally went up to look at the Vanleigh Pinecrest models, once we saw them we were underwhelmed by the build quality.  We looked at the next model up the Vilano series and found them much more to our liking.  We ended up liking one of their larger models the best and this kind of surprised us.

385RD Logo

385RD

385RD Floorplan

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We’ve always looked at rear living models but none were laid out this way.  We also really liked the HUGE (YUUUGE) rear storage bay.

I wouldn’t want to put really heavy items back there but it would be great for bulky items.  I also wish the build quality was slightly better.  I understand them wanting to use really light materials but it gave the overall feel of the unit a chintzy feel.  Overall the interior looked great and they paid attention to a lot of details that other manufacturers miss.  I’m not sure this has changed our mind away from the Grand Design units but we did change our mind about one thing though; we’re not going to limit ourselves on the size of the trailer.  If it’s 40 feet, then it’s 40 feet.  Smaller would be better but it’s not a deal-killer anymore.

In my next blog post I’ll do a comparison of the 5th wheel models we are considering at the moment and why.

 

Saturday Flight To Willows

It’s been a month since I’ve flown.  I spent the last two weeks working and the three prior to that traveling with my wife in our travel trailer.  After so long the sky was calling and I had to answer.  I decided a nice cross country was in order.  My destination was one I used to stop at quite often years ago.  When I flew up into Oregon in my old Aeronca Champ, I would stop for fuel at Willows-Glenn Airport.  They also had a nice cafe on the field called Nancy’s.  I decided that I needed a nice breakfast from Nancy’s so off to Willows I flew.

The air was super smooth this morning.  Fall in California’s Central Valley always brings calm hazy air.  Today was the very definition of that.  After I reached my cruising altitude of 3000 feet I leveled off, trimmed the airplane for level flight, and didn’t have to touch the yoke again until I was entering the pattern at Willows.  All that was needed to make course corrections was just very light pressure on the rudders.

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I flew northwest towards Davis, Ca, then turned due north towards Willows.

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The approach and landing at Willows were both super easy as there was no wind.

I landed, tied down the airplane, and walked through the airport gate to Nancy’s.

Nancy’s is kind of an old school diner.  Lots of pictures on the wall of aircraft and pilots.  Most of them have gone west.  I asked the waitress what I should get.  I wanted the kind of breakfast that when I told people I went to Nancy’s, they’d ask “Oh!  Did you get the … ???”  What should that be. She suggested their ham.  I am so glad she did!

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After eating more than I should have I took a walk around the airport.  Not much to see but I did run across one interesting little tidbit.  The airport beacon (the flashing red and green light that help pilots find the airport at night) is made from an old airmail beacon.  If you’ll recall I visited the Western New Mexico Aviation Heritage Museum where they have an entire museum dedicated to the airmail beacons.  It was really cool to see one still around and in use.

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After such a big breakfast I was wondering if the airplane could even get me off the ground.  But the takeoff and climbout were uneventful.  An hour and change later I was landing back at Oakdale.  All in all it was a great Saturday and a great flight!

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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