Saturday, December 29, 2007

First day in the desert

We have arrived. Finally arrived at our destination. After years of planning and months of traveling. To a patch of rock and hardened soil in the Arizona desert. Quartzite.

Camped along the northern border of short term camping on federal BLM land. Across a groove in the land created by flash floods one see nothing man-made in sight. Just scrub brush, scraggly trees, flitting birds, butterflies. Hills in the distance, also carved by precious rushing water. Peaceful, lush, beautiful in an alien way. Alien to recent inhabitants of the Pacific NW. No hint of ocean, tho it covered this region eons ago. No tall evergreens. Nothing at all to the casual observer.

We hope to observe more closely.

Tomorrow we will tow our home south to the Imperial Dam LTVA, just north of Yuma. To meet our email pals, Gene and Joyce Shea, with whom we hope to travel on to San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico. Before then we will join Escapees who have also plunged into this full-time adventure this year. And attend the Rock and Gem show, as well as the RV show in mid-January.

We know to expect the unexpected.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Preparing to live in the boonies

We’re getting ready for our first “boondocking” adventure…spending the month of January in the SW AZ desert without regular utilities or Costco nearby. [Shudder]

Well, actually, our first two weeks we’ll spend 15 miles from Yuma, AZ, at Imperial Dam Long Term Visitor Area. So we’re working into this slowly. Then two weeks at the big Quartzite gathering, among fellow Escapee fulltimers.

Which means laying in a month of food and other supplies, to avoid long trips to town later in the month. Takes some planning, particularly given limited storage. We expect to share our living room with cases of bottled water. They better behave when we entertain.

Thinking about battery capacity, techniques to reduce the fresh to waste water cycle, cooking cleanly. Stuff they didn’t teach us in college.

The adventure continues.


Friday, December 21, 2007

The Road to Hell Was Paved Without Urination

We took a vote. Our trip from the Bakersfield area to Desert Hot Springs CA was the worst day of our fulltiming adventure so far. Worse than several torrential rains in Oregon, worse than boondocking next to an all night filling station in Eugene OR, worse than the army of boisterous banana slugs.

Allow me to explain.

We departed on our 242 mile journey with a half tank of fuel. Which should have lasted almost the entire trip. We figured to fill up after a while and take a break.

Started looking for fuel after an hour on the road. Then we climbed several mountains along I5 and the fuel gauge slipped down quickly.

We looked for diesel fuel along I5 and I210 for 74 miles. Took exits that yielded nothing. And you don’t just go anywhere with a 50’ long 12’ tall vehicle.

Coupled with these events was Bruce’s EEE…Extreme Excretory Emergency. “Gotta go, but can’t stop.” Which impeded rational thinking somewhat.

We finally took an exit in Arcadia, CA, searched in vain and came to rest at the entrance to the Santa Anita Racetrack. Can’t go no further without risking a breakdown in city traffic, maybe in an intersection! Bruce resolved his EEE. Whew! We waited over an hour for 5 gallons of petrol from the Ford emergency road service - blessed are they.

On to a truck stop Ontario, CA. After fueling up, we try for some lunch. Park in the trucking lot, since we can’t fit in the car lot. The lot gate ticket machine runs out of tickets and wouldn’t open. 18 wheelers lining up behind us. Stuck again. Bruce finds the manager, who says, “You can’t park in there.” No kidding. After another long wait at the broken ticket machine, we drive thru the lot and leave.

Now we’re 2 hours behind schedule on our 242 mi trip and arrive in SoCal traffic at the beginning of the rush hour(s). Bumper to bumper for 60 miles in the rain and failing light. Pass the last of the walnuts please.

Arrive at Sam’s Family Spa and Resort in the dark. Uh oh, the electrical service keeps going out. This can be fixed.

Time for dinner – all the restaurants are closed. Get out the spaghetti.

Next day, we see this beautiful park and setting. All is well again.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Shafter, CA

Today we reached Shafter, CA, at this campground.
Don’t judge a park by its web site. Near a highway, train tracks, and local airport. Gee, we're part of a transportation hub! Maybe I can get a job as a truck driver. Might as well make use of this towing experience.

So we’ll stay till our mail arrives. Snow and other bad stuff in parts east have likely hampered delivery. At least we outran another storm, tho yesterday Fresno (and us) had a record setting rain day.

Bakersfield, CA, 14 miles south, boasts high levels of growth now. Also the worst ozone levels in the nation, likely from that growth and the petro industry. We will drive straight thru to the CA desert once we can leave.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

On the list for the Sierra SKP

Today we applied for a lot at this SKP 55+ RV park. Then drove to the nearby casino for the lunch buffet with the senior discount.

Geezers at last.

Prospects dim for a trip to Yosemite tomorrow. The recording says they require chains throughout the park. I’m not crawling under that truck with chains for any scenery.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Like this SKP park a lot (Get it? "Lot" Hee hee. Great RV humor)

We really like this Escapee RV park. Beautiful setting and lots (snicker), wonderful facilities, and a very friendly coop community. Tomorrow we intend to place our names on the waiting list for a site here. The four to five year wait suits us fine as new full timers. If we change our minds, we get a full refund on our deposit. No worries.

We plan to drive into Yosemite National Park on Friday, up to the western entrance where you don’t need snow tires, as least as of today. Expect some pictures.


Friday, December 7, 2007

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Rain at the SKP Park of the Sierras

Good news
This Escapees park on the southern border of Yosemite National Park is quite beautiful. Large attractive sites, well maintained by the community, inexpensive, on a lovely hillside in the desert. We can see this as a winter homesite. They have a four – five year waiting list…understandable given the amenities.

It holds more attraction than the prior one in southern Oregon. We already have a summer place in the WA Cascades. Oregon is not far enough south to have nice winter weather. And this Park of the Sierras setting is far nicer. Note we’ve only spent one day hear so far. We’ve not seen the two closest towns yet – Coarsegold and Oakhurst. And another Escapees park lies north of Yuma. We hope to see it soon.

Bad news
More rain. It follows us around. Average rain accumulation is three inches here in December, yet the weather report predicts one inch today and tomorrow, 24 hours after our arrival. Coincidence? You decide.


Monday, December 3, 2007

Sacramento the Serene

California, here we are
Came by truck, not by car.
Hmmmhmmm bloom in the Spring.

At last, we arrive in Sacramento, to a new region of the country. Till now we have traveled in Cascadia, i.e. Pacific NW climate. Today we reached the land of palm trees and 68 degree December days. Arrived to read of the disasterous wind and rain storms in our former WA home. Even down to areas of Oregon we had visited within the last week...and fled from the approaching storm. For all the work of this mobile life, we see the advantages of moving out of harm's way.

Tomorrow we go for another day of repairs. Then we can move freely about the land.

Don't say it!


Saturday, December 1, 2007

Garberville yes? Garberville no.

The alert reader, newly roused from sleep by a noise in the hall, will remember that we aspired to return to Garberville to complete a reprise of our motorcycle journey those many years ago. And so we did…for less than a day.

Excitement filled the truck as we cruised into Garberville. Well, actually we parked on the exit ramp for town and walked to the post office for our latest general delivey mail. But we glimpsed our goal nonetheless. We drove on 6 miles south to a campground, intending to return to town and visit the Big Trees on the morrow.

That night, Jenna, ever alert to metrological conditions like all Heilemanns, learned of an approaching wind and rain storm. (“Motorists driving high profile vehicles may wish to postpone travel until after these winds have passed.”) Ummm…that could be us.

The following morning, the forecast had not changed. While we sat on the edge of the predicted storm, who knows where it would actually strike. Maybe driving our high profile vehicle into 60mph rain?

Prudence prevailed. We bid a wistful farewell to the redwoods after only viewing the Grandfather Tree ("That's just what the previous owner called it.") across the street from our campground.

We consoled ourselves by stopping at a nice park at Blue Lake, half way to Sacramento. Hopefully we can stay here for a rest day before resuming our quest to repair our trailer. That is, barring an earthquake striking Lake County California.


PS We are just the latest travellers to marvel at the diversity of highway 101 from the Oregon border down thru the redwoods. When we drove east onto highway 20, we had braked through 30mph tight cliffside turns, dodged looming redwoods along narrow lanes, chugged up and rocketed down 6% grades, and cruised down four land divided highway. Though Willits, home of Seabiscuit. 101 has it all!