18C%PAY+ReSnsjVMx43txQJust when you think you’re running out of places to explore nearby, something new comes along. Tuttletown Recreation Area is located on New Melones Lake, not too far from Angels Camp. It’s about a three hour drive for us, but the roads are easy and newly paved. Our site was located in the Acorn campground, which is high above the lake, making for some really nice views.

vVT9j8wpSMiteZD9lz4QCAWe accidentally stumbled upon the exact time when this area is the most lively: during the Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee. Jumping frogs were the only thing I’d ever heard of related to Calaveras County and I have some regret over not venturing into town to experience any of it. Richard got out on Saturday for a bike ride up to Murphys and let me know that parking would be non-existent due to the impressive number of motorcycles. At first, there were “hundreds,” then “thousands,” then eventually “millions/billions.” I have no way of actually verifying numbers, but I can attest to the high numbers of biker/campers who had taken over the entire tent loop of the campground. Not sure about billions, but there were “many.”

zJRm%ZjRQaeFbDbaSlRBOgI did not attempt fair visiting, but instead finished what I hope is the last report of the school year and then checked out the rest of the campground. The Manzanita loop looked like it had access to the water for possible boat launching, but the sites down there are very exposed, and the last part of the loop is unpaved, therefore dusty. I liked the site we had in Acorn because we got lake views, plus solar, plus a shady spot to sit. I also checked out the Glory Hole campground for a future visit and there is a nice launch area in Angels Creek. That’ll be for a future visit. I also got a nice view of a nesting Osprey, so that was pretty cool!

9d28JOzVSbmjMEKCgS7tPQNice, therapeutic weekend to soothe the end of year blues. We will definitely check out the Glory Hole campground some time. It will be important to time it when it’s not too hot and we will try to remember to bring our own water, as the campground water was a bit rusty colored and smelled of chlorine. Now that I know where to go, I can imagine some nice paddling around here too. Plus, we’ve never really explored Angels Camp either. Fun to have new territory not too far away!

Total miles: 121.8, 16.6 mpg, 3 hours 36 min. Site: 67 Acorn. Nice. 41 looked nice too, but perhaps not that level. In the Manzanita loop, sites 109-117 are closer to the water, site 107 looked particularly nice. Good LTE for both. Vault toilet in the upper Acorn loop, but regular bathroom, with showers, down a bit lower.

Henry Cowell (2)

IMG_1572I always say that things like Teacher Appreciation Days are so unnecessary. We do what we do for the kids, we don’t need tokens, the joy comes from the work… blah blah blah. But OMG look at this DOOR!!! Some incredibly thoughtful parents went above and beyond this year and I am pretty floored. When asked what my interests are, apparently one of my students said, “Oh! She has a Dory!!” With the addition of the words, “Alto” and “trailer,” and a bit of Googling, they were able to create this incredible surprise for me when I arrived at school Monday. You guys, it has a moon globe, little battery operated stars, and grass. I would enter it in a Best Door Pageant if there were such a thing. I felt extremely appreciated, and profoundly grateful right on back. Special ed families are the BEST!!

IMG_1584Following a full week of being spoiled and well fed (guess I picked a bad week to get back on the healthy train), we returned to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. I had scoped out the sites on our last trip and noted #46 as being a good one. Huh. Not sure what I was focusing on there, guess the tiny bit of solar. I mean, it was fine, just really hard to level, even using the Caravan Mover to position, and it is right next to the dumpsters. It had a huge area to spread out tables or tents or chairs, but we were feeling especially lazy and didn’t do any of that. Still nice and a very pretty campground.

IMG_1546We have added a bit of assistive technology to the back of Dory. We’ve always known that Richard has a hard time with directions, but last Spring Break, I became concerned enough that I reached out to my special education professional colleagues and asked, “No seriously. What’s wrong with him?” Well lo and behold, it turns out he has a bonafide disability. His visual memory was assessed at the 5th percentile, while his visual sequential memory is in the 1st percentile. What this likely means is that he has a really hard time holding onto visual spatial information. Like, for example, left vs right when he’s trying to navigate me into a campsite.  We had given that up long ago, in favor of the words: “driver” or “passenger,” which works great unless he can’t see the car from behind Dory. So we put a green reflector on one side of the license plate, and a red one on the other. Now all he has to say is “green” or “red.” Problem solved. Good thing he’s not color blind.

IMG_1598Saturday we went on a hike, recommended by a friend, out to some old lime kilns. The trail from the staging area on Felton Empire Road will take you along Fall Creek a little over a mile until you get to the remains of a series of limestone kilns, used back around the turn of the last century to supply lime for construction in San Francisco. We had previously seen lime kilns at Limekiln State Park further to the south, but those were huge towering metal structures. IMG_1592These were made entirely of arched stone walls. Using this structure, you keep fires going in the spaces down low, while you pile the rocks above. Either way, that’s an awful lot of back breaking work, and makes me appreciate plaster a whole lot more. Saturday night, we ate out at a great place called Ambrosia India Bistro. The Tandoori Chicken was fantastic.

Sunday we meandered our way up the coast, stopping at the Pescadero deli for a delicious bbq pork sandwich and cherry pie. Then it was up to Half Moon Bay to dump tanks, and then on home. It was a lovely way to spend a Mother’s Day weekend.

Total miles: 86.1, 17.2 mpg, 3 hours 4 min (lots of traffic and I missed the turn to our loop twice). Site 46. Not very level, so needed the BAL leveler and the step stool. Other sites to try: 5, 7, 11, 15, 18, 35, 33, 28, 32 With some solar: 40, 42, 43, 44. LTE for ATT, but only 3g sometimes for Verizon. No dump.

Half Moon Bay (4)

IMG_1554Aaaaahhhhhh. What a crazy-lazy, weekend that was. The longer daylight hours definitely help when it comes to Friday afternoon/evening arrivals. The sunset is now close to 8pm, so anywhere within a two hour radius from home makes for an easy set up on arrival. This particular arrival greeted us with a little mystery. Someone had left an entire set of brand new camping equipment in our site. IMG_1534There were a couple of matching chairs, a charcoal grill (complete with an unopened bag of charcoal), a little camping broom, and an unopened bundle of firewood. At first, it looked like someone thought this was their site and would be returning to either confusion or disappointment. However, no one ever came. Much speculation ensued and we made up a whole elaborate fictional story, tragically ending in someone coming to the sudden realization that they just really hate camping. The campground host had a more mundane hypothesis that someone had rented an RV, stocked up for the trip, and abandoned the accessories once they were done. She assured us the items would be donated, along with all of the collected beach toys, umbrellas, etc., to the next needy camper.

IMG_1549I was in the mood for easy dinner, so Richard went out and brought back a curry. Then it was all about watching the sunset from inside Dory, drinking wine, and listening to some tunes. The next morning we slept in and spied on our neighbors. A lot. With binoculars even. Don’t judge. This campground tends to have lots of really big rigs and some of them can be veryexpensive. IMG_1538We were mesmerized by one particular guy who was watching TV from his camping chair outside. He spent much time adjusting the awning to prevent glare on the screen. The TV itself was housed behind an outdoor hatch. Behind another hatch was apparently a fridge because he kept getting up and retrieving things from it. “OMG, is that an ice machine?!” we said, from behind the binoculars. Yes, he seemed to be moving ice from one hatch and into the fridge in the other. Eventually, he had moved enough things around that he ended up with what looked like a Bloody Mary. We were impressed. And anyway, people come right up to Dory all the time and take pictures, even with us sitting inside, so it seems only fair we should get to enjoy our view.

IMG_1543Richard went on a long bike ride Saturday and I lazed away the entire morning. Eventually I got myself to the beach, where I just sat and stared for a couple of hours. I did spy a whale quite close to shore, and a seal riding the waves, shouting “Dude! Righteous!” (I assume).

IMG_1555Saturday night was dinner out again and movies on our big screen. Someone was asking about our setup, so I snapped some pictures. Our system includes:

iPad movies are officially ruined for us now. Great weekend to laze around.

Total miles: 56.6, 16.3 mpg, 1 hour 29 min. Site: 42. Electric hookups, but so much solar, we didn’t even plug in. Water spigots nearby, dump, bathrooms with showers.


Coloma RV Resort

IMG_1524My last blog post was all about Type 1 Diabetes, and (spoiler alert) this one is going to end up there. I’ll start off with my usual shtick though.

A few months back, I reserved a site in Columbia because Richard wanted to see an old timey gold rush town. Working in a school, I knew just the field trip to take him on, except I got Columbia confused with Coloma. Both fit the bill, but this was the place I was thinking of. I had come here years before as a chaperone for 4th grade camp and it coincidentally timed out to follow our stay at 5th grade camp.

IMG_1525The RV park is really nice and we got a site overlooking the American River. The weather was beautiful and it promised to be a glorious setting in which to unwind. It was a long drive from Pescadero and I was pretty tired already, but the roads were easy and we hit only a little traffic as we passed through SF and Sacramento. As we got set up in the site, we drew quite the crowd from the big rigs next door, hearing multiple exclamations of: “No shit!” as Dory showed off her tricks. Always fun.

We checked out the cute gifts from the campground store, which was nicely stocked with all manner of touristy things. There is a playground in the park that is gold rush themed and there are many, many nice cabins to reserve. Then we took a stroll across an old, narrow bridge and did a bit of exploring in the historic park before dinner. I’d planned to come back to all of these and go to the Visitor Center the next day, but that didn’t happen. I was also going to hook up with a dear friend who lives not too far away, and I was very much looking forward to that. Oh well, activities for a return trip.

IMG_1531For dinner, we went to a place called Argonaut Farm to Fork Cafe. Ok, I was in a mood to enjoy myself, but this was one of the best places I’ve ever eaten. It is located inside a historic building and the ambiance is beautiful. It reminds me of New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro in Ashland, as the prix fix menu is tailored to whatever ingredients are fresh. You will get excellent service because the place is really small and the staff is friendly and very enthusiastic about their craft. IMG_1533We even got a story about the carrot in Richard’s salad that came from “Ben’s garden.” I got a bottle of their own label red wine and it was fantastic. Richard got to enjoy the “bathroom experience” where you get to enter a historic, preserved gold rush house, staged authentically, and use their facilities. No fear, I hear the actual bathroom is updated. I missed out on that, so again, a do-over is in order.

My plan was to sleep in, a lot, on Saturday morning, but this is where diabetes enters and messes everything up. I got a text first thing in the morning from our daughter, saying her Omnipod PDM (insulin pump controller) had failed. We texted through trying to locate and use the backup, but alas, it is an older model and did not work with the newer pods. She called the tech support hotline to see if she could hard restart it and that was a no go, though she says they were very nice to her and very supportive on the phone. This was on a Saturday though, and the best they could do was get her a replacement Monday morning. This left her with pretty much one option if she wanted to stay alive until then: multiple daily injections. I can’t even remember the last time we had to do that, so it took some serious thinking to work through the calculations. “Do you know your basal rate?” “Yeah, pretty sure it’s 1.2/hour.” “Ok, so that would be a total of 28.8 u for 24 hours, but you might want to under bolus that.” “Right.” “We’ve got Lantus for emergencies right?” “Yes.” “You know your carb factor?” “Yes, it’s 1 unit for every 8 grams in the morning, but 1 to 10 for the rest of the day.” This went on as we texted through correction factors, which she couldn’t look up on the PDM because it was dead. She injected herself so she could eat. And live. I’ve been completely out of this loop for a couple of years now, but I’ll say, any worries I may have had about how she’s been managing things are gone. The girl is ON IT. She knew everything. After all of this went down, I called her to make sure she was ok. If you ever wonder what could make us abandon a beautiful river side site without a moment’s hesitation, it’s the crack in your adult daughter’s voice when you ask if she’d feel better if you were home and she says, “Maybe.”

We all knew there was nothing I could actually do to help by being home, but there was zero chance we’d be staying. We went from bed to showered, hitched, and rolling in about thirty minutes. I half hoped someone from the Diabetes Online Community would chime in with a spare PDM I could pick up on our way home, but, to be honest, it’s probably not a bad thing to go back to shots once in a while. At least she knows she can do it. And so do I.

I hate diabetes. But she won this round and it can just fuck right off.

Total miles to home: 126.1, 16.9 mpg, 3 hours 18 min. Total miles from Memorial Park: 192.5, 16.6, 5 hours 17 min. Site: 72. Great river view, right on the corner. Great solar, but there were electric and water hookups. There is a dump, but it’s one of those high ones, so it’s difficult to get the hose water in the drain. No service for ATT, but LTE for Verizon and fairly good campground wifi.

Memorial Park (2)

IMG_1481We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for a public service announcement about Type 1 Diabetes. Type 1 is not the same as Type 2, the one where I often hear people say, “Oh my grandmother/cat/dog had that. We had to give him/her/it a shot every day.” Or, “I thought you only get that from eating too much sugar.” This is the type where your immune system mistakenly identifies insulin as an invader, tracks it down to the beta cells in your pancreas, and destroys them. Your body can no longer produce insulin and will literally die unless you inject or infuse it 24/7/365. This is the type that can strike when you are a baby. It is the type formerly known as “Juvenile Diabetes,” that we personally knew nothing about until our daughter nearly died at diagnosis at the age of seven. This week was all about diabetes for me, so I need to depart from campground reviews for a moment.

IMG_1483My school was all set to send students to 5th grade camp this week and somewhere along the way, I volunteered to go and support a child with diabetes. I knew full well what that entailed, having attended the week our daughter went. People have questioned why kids who have technology, like insulin pumps or glucose monitors, would need this support. Here’s how I’ve tried to explain diabetes to people who don’t live it:

Picture living in a two story house filled with delicate, temperature sensitive orchids. Then picture having to maintain the exact proper temperature range of that house by alternately running the oven or freezer with their doors left open. Sure, you can get a high tech, extremely programmable oven. You can even set the temperature to the hundredth of a degree, running on an elaborate timer system. But see, the weather outside keeps changing, and, oh yeah, the house seems to move through entirely different climate zones from day to day. You can separately have a highly accurate thermometer that tells you precisely how badly you are screwing up from minute to minute. It can even graph your inadequacy for you. But it doesn’t control the oven, let alone the weather. Things can get way too hot, despite your best predictive calculations. So you panic, quickly turn down the oven, and open the freezer, hoping it doesn’t get so cold that everything inside dies. This is cutting edge diabetes management, and it does not sleep or take holidays off.

Now, our daughter is 20, and she has been 100% managing her own care for several years. It has been a very long time since I have done night checks. But, back in the day, I set alarms for every single night at 12am and 3am, at the very least. Once my body became so sleep deprived that I no longer woke up to the alarms, I bought an alarm clock made for deaf people that vibrates your skull violently when you place it under your pillow. I still cannot fathom how I held down a job during those years. This past week, I was back on night check duty, except now it involved getting out of bed, going outside Dory in the cold, driving the car a short distance into camp, walking up to the kid’s cabin, and making rational medical decisions. As the fatigue steadily increased, all kinds of post traumatic flashbacks surfaced, mostly in the form of emotional fragility. By the end of the week, I was fully fried.

IMG_1489Daytime at camp was mostly pleasant, as we had the entire campground to ourselves and it is a beautiful park. Richard was able to use the wifi at the rangers’ office and worked the whole week. I needed to do meal time checks and be on call by walkie talkie during the day, so I didn’t venture out much until beach day.IMG_1498 That was great fun and I got to hang out with two of the world’s best fifth grade teachers. Teachers work very hard at camp, much harder than parents ever know or appreciate. Go hug a teacher please.

There is no cell service whatsoever in that area, so I spent a lot of time WiFinding. I discovered that I could hit the county park office as I drove out, and hit the teachers’ cabin WiFi on my way back. Mostly though, I was incommunicado and was only scanning for urgent messages.

IMG_1490I’m happy to say the week went well for the student, and I survived it too. Sort of. I’m tired. This was not your typical camping trip and we would like to go back some time to enjoy the many hikes around that area. Some of the sites that are listed as “Small Trailer” are quite unlevel, but the “Large Trailer” ones seemed pretty good. There are no hookups and the dump was not open yet. We made reluctant use of our portable grey water tank and did our best to minimize grossness using the campground shower drains (we got permission first). This is a deep redwoods forest area, so there was very little solar. We ran the generator a little bit daily and had no power problems.

One last thing to report: I twice spotted a Grey Fox during the 3am drives. 🙂

That was a week. I’m over 50. It will take some time to reboot.

Total miles from Half Moon Bay: 27, 13.7 mpg, 58 min. Site Azalea 33. They say site 37 can hit the WiFi, but we found it to be very weak unless you’re standing in the road.

Half Moon Bay (3)

IMG_1468This visit was planned late in the game, after I decided to spend the following week at 5th grade camp. We’d already reserved Sunset for the prior weekend and it didn’t make sense to go all the way home, and then all the way back to Pescadero for camp. Lucky us, there was an opening for a Sunday one nighter with hookups at the very place we’d be going to dump tanks.

IMG_1463I dropped Richard off with his bike in Pescadero while I headed up to the site. In the time it took me to drive there, dump, set up in the site, and get the heater going, he pulled up. About five minutes after he came through the door, it started pouring outside. Nice timing there.

For dinner, we went to a place in town called Spice Me Thai Cuisine and it was delicious.We get to return here soon for a longer stay, so that will be very nice.

Total miles from Sunset SB: 69.5, 14.7 mpg, 2 hours 38 min. Site: 31.

Sunset SB (4)

IMG_1421Our fourth stay at Sunset State Beach was filled with our usual biking/kayaking agenda, plus a couple of planned tours. With an Alto, once you start giving a tour, all the other people in the campground who were curious but too polite to ask, will then approach. We are thinking we should make a sign saying: “Yes, you can ask for a tour.” and put it up during designated office hours.

IMG_1423Nothing hugely new to report. There was one particular otter in Elkhorn Slough who was quite rambunctious. He/she seemed young and curious and went around trying to pull dangling straps off some of the kayaks in the water. At one point, he/she totally came straight at me, dived under the kayak, and pushed the bottom of my boat with his/her adorable little paws before popping up on the other side. I imagine later he/she totally bragged about it ala “I touched the butt.” from Finding Nemo. Generally, you try to keep your distance from the wildlife (which is why most of my pictures are fuzzy and you can’t tell there’s an otter there). In this case, it was not possible to avoid, and that was pretty fun. Here’s a video where you can almost see him/her (because apparently this is now an otter based blog):

Richard meanwhile had a great ride on San Andreas, to Larkin Valley, to Buena Vista. From Sunset, we headed off to Half Moon Bay for a one nighter.

I forgot to take driving data, but we’ve been there a bunch and nothing was much different. Site: 27. View of the ocean, great solar. Kind of unlevel, but we raised the tongue to its max and that worked fine. Good LTE again for both of us.