Porto Bodega RV

IMG_2310When your go-to state and county parks are booked, but you really really want to get to the coast, it’s good to start branching out. This was our “could be great, could be terrible” weekend at a private place we’d never heard of or noticed in Bodega Bay. It got fair reviews though, and we didn’t really care as long as we got to be by the coast.

IMG_2309On arrival we sort of recognized the place, based on its proximity to the Bodega Dunes campground. It is part marina, part RV campground, where the clear superior sites are the ones along the water. Ours was and we did a Caravan Mover spin to get the primo view. That caused a curious camper to come tell us we were “creating a spectacle” and yes, he would love to have a tour inside if it’s no bother.

IMG_2307Blue Apron was on the menu for both dinners and I made sure to select “Doryable” one-pan meals. Friday’s was salmon over kale, zucchini, capers, garlic, and sweet peppers. That one is a keeper and wouldn’t be too hard to replicate (i.e. no exotic, hard to find ingredients). Saturday’s included something called Cauliflower rice. And though it was also delicious, I would have no idea where to buy that.

IMG_2313Saturday, as Richard was doing his “Boho” ride, I was supposed to get something done for work and it was really really hard to concentrate with all the funny seals and birds hanging out in the harbor. I used to sit inside Dory to do writing tasks, but with our Nemo chairs, I find I am drawn outside much more. This created a cascade of problems. First, I needed to get some shade so I could see the laptop screen. So on went the Pahaque Visor, even though I’m not quite finished fixing things to bring the used package up to snuff. I did create some keder rail anchors during the week, to replace the window lock that never quite worked right. Those did a nice job keeping the visor from sliding out of the track.

IMG_2312Next, I got to try out the recently installed plastic keder rail I purchased to run along the bottom of the door-side wall. Let me just say, if I ever need to order keder track again, I’d better get a lot. I figured the 90″ “Flex-a-rail” would somehow flex and get shipped in a reasonably sized container. Not so. In fact, it shipped in a 95″ torpedo tube, constructed of impenetrable paper based material, so dense it required a handsaw to open. Both ends were sealed with some kind of canning lids, so I had to avoid metal parts whilst sawing through my package. Inside the huge, 4″ diameter tube, was one straight piece of 90″ flex-a-rail. No wonder shipping was so expensive.

IMG_2314Ultimately, the plan for the rail includes having a place to hang a bug netting skirt to go with the customized bug netting awning, but that project is for another day. In the meantime, I can use the outer edges to anchor the guy lines for the visor poles. The poles still do not have the connectors that are supposed to hold them together, so I’m still MacGyvering a solution using rubber bands. That part worked.

IMG_2319As soon as I had everything mounted and anchored and guy lined, I sat down to start typing. Except the sun was peeking under the rim of the visor enough to be annoying. So I lowered the angle of everything and re-secured. And that seemed better for about ten minutes. So then I had to go in search of something I could possibly hang as a shade panel. All I had that possessed the right qualifications was a California flag. Fiddling with tarp clips and bungee cords took a fairly long time, but I got it up! So I sat down to work for real and a huge gust of wind knocked the pole inward, right toward Dory. IMG_2317Lucky I wasn’t really concentrating on work yet because I caught it. And then I had to go in search of what I could use as extra guy lines to stake the poles down in the other direction. And then I was hungry and then there was this huge seal splashing around…. I did not get very much done is what I’m saying. But I did do a nice job creating a solid shade shelter by the time it got too cold and windy to want to sit outside anymore. Several orders were placed with Amazon, in clear violation of our newly self imposed spending freeze.

IMG_2333Sunday we stopped for lunch at the very popular Spud Point Crab Co. They have award winning chowder, and crab cakes that are only served Saturday and Sunday starting at 1pm. They only make a limited number and they run out quickly. We got there at 12:30 very excited, even though there was a long line. When we got to the front, at roughly 12:45, we tried to talk the cashier into pre-selling us crab cakes, even though they were still in the oven. She flat out refused, in a way that suggested she is very used to crab cake shenanigans. Our pouty lips only produced an adamantly pointed finger, indicating the big wooden sign that states there is a $5 charge for whining. So we sulked away with our delicious, award wining chowder, and timed our re-entry into the line. We were rewarded shortly after 1pm with 2 orders of piping hot crab cakes, served with a roasted pepper mayo and lemon wedges.

IMG_2331And then it was home again, home again, on a path that is now becoming quite familiar. Overall, we liked this place and would reserve there again, as long as we could snag a place by the water. There are premium sites with hookups and sunset views that would be quite the treat, though we’d be in a big rig sandwich for sure. The bathrooms are nice and clean, with showers. “Could be great” was, in fact, great. Too great to do much work. And that’s just fine.

Total miles: 84.2, 15.0 mpg, 2 hours 37 min. Site: 49. Sites with hookups and sunset view: 33-39, 17, 18. Non hookups all seemed to be by the water on the marina side. 2 bars of LTE for both, ok campground wifi, terrible dump with a big curb.

Hendy Woods

AE1E37A7-625E-4236-ADA0-F0428E85C2DBI say we all just move to three day weekends from now on. Sound ok? This was our first Dory trip to Hendy Woods, up in Mendocino County, and we enjoyed ourselves quite a bit. It helped that the weather was neither too hot, nor too cold, and that nothing was visibly on fire.

0DAB06FF-C13D-4642-9897-5490959BE00FI was prepared for it to be a bit of a long drive Friday, but it turned out to be just under four hours, so we got to the campground with plenty of daylight left. The drive itself was no problem, most of it being a straight shot up Highway 101. We hit some holiday traffic, nothing too bad, and then cut off onto Highway 128. It started with some serious twistiness, but nothing deathy and the road conditions were smooth and newly paved the whole way. And after maybe ten windy miles, it evened out and passed through a couple of cute Mendocino towns along the way.7AD0928B-0785-46B3-888E-8DBC2F29E3AF The campground is nestled deep in the redwoods, just past Philo, CA, and has a decidedly tenter or small camper feel. We saw one or two larger RVs, but really nothing huge is going to fit in there. Our site was fantastic with lots of room and abundant privacy due to all the trees and bushes. It was quite unlevel, but with the Lynx levelers and the new addition of Lynx chocks, we were just fine.

50DA823E-0A21-41BA-9D9B-E0DD43CA7E89Saturday I had some work to get done and Richard rode out to the coast via Philo Greenwood Road to Cameron Road and landed at Navarro State Beach. I drove out once I was done for the day and met him there. It was glorious weather and I just stayed and gawked at the ocean for a while as Richard headed back on 128. We met up again at the Navarro Store to have a snack, and then we both headed back to Dory. 62E9579E-0797-4CDB-A45A-FF9999F23C18Dinner Saturday was a new recipe of grilled foil packets of salmon and asparagus topped with lemon and dill, and potatoes cooked on the griddle. Delish and very easy.

Sunday we hiked around the Big Hendy Woods trails and marveled at the redwoods. 8CAB2DBA-CBB4-4EA8-8570-794529915FF1Then it was back to Dory where Richard had nappy time inside while I fell asleep in my Nemo chair. Side note: since I’ve been wearing the permethrin treated clothes, I have not yet gotten bitten. And there were a few mosquitos buzzing around, with me being an easy sleeping target. So I’m hopeful there. Sunday dinner was a balsamic marinated grilled steak salad with grilled peaches and potato wedges. Also good, but the meat was a little dry. Maybe don’t pre-cut the meat.

8043BC9E-0A69-47E4-803F-F812B93686E4Monday we woke up happily late and rolled out after noon. We stopped at a place called Gowan’s Oak Tree for some award winning fresh fruit and a frozen apple pie. We heated it up when we got home and I must say, that was worth the drive right there. YUM.

Wonderful weekend in a campground that ranks high on my list. I will definitely want to go back there!

Total miles: 141.7, 3 hours 50 min, 15.6 mpg. Site 43. No electric anywhere. Water spigots a plenty and potable water at the dump. Nice dump. Nice bathrooms. Very little solar except in a few sites. 1 bar LTE for me, 2-3 bars for Verizon. With booster got up to 4 bars LTE. Nice sites: 43*, 27, 29, 31, 32, 34 (solar), 48, 49, 51*, 52, 22.

Henry Cowell (3)

img_2202This was our first foray into tippy sites in the post BAL Leveler era. I am happy to report that Lynx Levelers work better. The Anderson Leveler probably feels nervous in fact. I guess we have to get the Lynx chocks now? Our black one seemed sufficient, but we wouldn’t want to mess around if there’s a chance we could roll. And since we’ve removed so much stuff from our camping gear, we can afford the space.

img_2213On Saturday, we hiked up to Observation Deck and took the trail down all the way down to Cable Car Beach. That’s a great loop. It takes you to lookout points where you can, if it’s clear, see Monterey Bay. If you go just a little off the loop to another Lookout, you can see Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Then you descend into the thick redwood forest until you come to a river. Great place for a bit of lunch, or a wade if it’s hot. You do have to pay for it on the return because it is almost all uphill to return to the campground. At least it’s also shady.

img_2216In the afternoon, Richard went on a ride up the Felton and Empire grade. I dozed in my Nemo. After dinner, we went back up to the Observation Deck to catch what we could see of the sunset. We noted how much fire damage there is around there, but we saw a sign indicating it was all controlled burns. If so, that’s a lot of intentional burning there. It did seem to be contained within the boundaries of the trails though, so I guess I could believe it.

img_2207Once the sun disappeared, we walked an easy downhill path along a well worn and sandy chute, back to the campground. I used my blue plastic sippy cup to bring some Chardonnay along for the ride and spent some more chair time back at the site, watching bats whiz around at dusk.

Lovely weekend in nice weather. And for the record, I wore my Permethrin treated clothes while outside and have yet to get a bite. Staying hopeful!

Total miles: 83.0, 16.8 mpg, 2 hours 20 min. Site 46, right next to the dumpsters. Spacious, but unlevel. Trail runs behind it. Some solar though. Nice bathrooms, water spigots, no dump but you can go to New Brighton for free. LTE for ATT, but very little service for Verizon.

Rancho Seco

img_2175You mean, like the nuclear power plant? Yep, the same Rancho Seco. Apparently there is a lake there, with a campground, that is quite the happening place to be on a hot weekend. It is no longer a working power plant, and one has to wonder just a little bit about that lake. Apparently, when it was operating, it was known for frequent accidents and shut downs and boasts the dubious honor of having experienced the third most serious safety-related occurrence in the United States. But hey, it was a nice place with an interesting backdrop view and the whole point of this reservation was to fend off post vacation depression.

img_2159In years past, I have allowed myself plenty of “down time” before the beginning of the school year, theoretically so that I would not feel rushed in the get ready process. Twice I’ve ended up in the emergency room feeling funny and was actually probably experiencing mild to moderate panic attacks. So this year I decided to try something different by not allowing any down time. Worked like a charm. Except this weekend I felt like I’d been hit by a train.

I love my job. I seriously do. But wow, it is a significant mental shift to move from making sure I’m rotating ice cube trays to scheduling a year’s worth of IEP meetings. It’ll all be ok. I think we’re back in our home based groove now. But I should apologize to neighbors for some of the colorful words we used getting Dory down the driveway on Friday. Two months of not doing that and we just about took out the mailbox.

img_2178Richard went out for a very hot bike ride on Saturday and I kind of just laid there, having been recently hit by a train. He saw lots of coyotes, I putzed with the visor and rejected screen shelters while doing online searches. I could have launched my kayak, but it was over 100 degrees and my motivation was low. At dusk, we walked through the campground and saw that there were tons of people there, partying it up with tiki torches and movies projected onto tents (that got Richard’s attention).

img_2180We walked all the way out to a little beach, attempting not to step on the millions of frogs jumping out of the grass. There were so many, it made me wonder if their numbers were somehow increased due to multiple radioactive gas leaks. That’s not such a bad outcome if that’s the case. Now there is a massive array of solar panels at the foot of the cooling towers, but I doubt they could be responsible for a surge in frog population.

img_2182We enjoyed a nice drive home along the Delta via Highway 160. We’ve got sites lined up for the next couple of months and we’re already talking about next summer. It’s good to be home, but it was really good to be out there.

Total miles: 92.4, 17.2 mpg, 2 hours 47 min. Site RV4. Electric and water at our site. Bathroom nearest to use was flush, but single room, so there were lines to use it. Fairly crowded in the day use and tent camping area, but our site had lots of space around it. No view of the lake due to trees and bushes. Dump, LTE cell service for both.

Post Long Trip Thoughts

xPD+fMkwR%2HkQ8b9VtSzwHaving just completed our longest Dory trip to date, I wanted to sum up some of our initial impressions over what worked particularly well, what we’re still pondering, and what fell into the “not so much” category. These are in no particular order, but came up as highlights as we reflected on the trip as a whole. And overall, I must say I think we were extremely well provisioned for an extended time out.

E55CP%fxR7mh+LeJxkgqjwFor us, “Long Trip” means: 2 months (6/13-8/12), 9,274 miles, 37 campgrounds, 19 states, 2 provinces, 2 countries, 2 languages. We broke personal records in: length of time on the road, length of time in one campsite (7 nights), number of one night stands in a row (9), and certainly number of Bison spotted (same is true for motorcycles). Here’s a wrap up of our post summer opinions.


Thumbs Up

Loosey Goosey Planning

img_2161This comes in as number 1 on our list of things that exceeded expectation. Really, we only reserved campsites ahead of time for rallies, where we needed to be sure we had a site for a specific time and for a longer stay. I think doing it this way accomplishes a couple of things. First off, it makes the pre-trip planning much easier. But more than that, it builds in flexibility to adjust your route based on information you get along the way. For example, had I mapped the whole thing out ahead of time, I might not have chosen a return path through Ontario, and that turned out to be one of my favorite areas.

img_2162The caveat that comes with this is to be very prepared to stay in weird places if need be. There’s always somewhere to stay for the night, but it might not be the most scenic. We almost always lucked out with really nice sites in state or provincial parks. There weren’t always hookups though, so hot weather narrowed the choices to mostly independent places or KOAs. We got in the habit of always filling the fresh water tank, just in case.

Allstays is a must have app for this kind of traveling, and it really helps to have the non-driver doing the research and phone calling on the road. If I were a single traveler, this would all have been much, much harder. Allstays works without cell service pretty well too.

Nemo Stargaze Chairs

img_2163We probably gave as many “tours” of these chairs as we did Dory. They are super comfortable and easy to set up and take down. They store down into nice, small, light packages that don’t take up much room in the car. We have officially ditched all other chairs. They’re expensive, but worth it. There was a safety recall on some of them, but we checked and ours are fine. The enjoyment factor we get out of these has actually changed our behavior in terms of how much time we spend outside. The only downside is that now we need to think more about insect repelling.

Chilewich Rugs

img_2164There’s been a lot said in the Altoistes group about these rugs, but I’m going to go ahead and say more. I really love these. The color adds to the overall attractiveness of the inside and I can’t say enough about how great they are at hiding dirt. For two solid months we did very little in the way of cleaning the floor. We shook out the piece that is by the door maybe once a week, and I think we shook out all of the pieces like twice. I never felt sand or dirt on my feet because all of it falls through the little loops. We dropped stuff on it and weren’t terribly careful about tracking stuff in. Once we got home, I took the pieces out and gave them a good hose down. The water coming off the stuff was brown and filthy. After that, they were good as new. Again, pricey but well worth it.

O-Polar Fan

img_2165This is more an endorsement for having some kind of little 12v fan in the bedroom area, rather than a specific brand recommendation. I do like this little fan because it’s super quiet and uses very little battery power. In fact, we’re not quite sure how it works. I have it plugged in to our USB all the time and it only seems to draw power to recharge its battery when it’s not running. The power draw is less than .3 amps, so it’s pretty efficient. Anyway, having any kind of fan there can really make a difference when it’s hot and you don’t have hookups for AC. I think I might have actually died in Arches without this little guy, so I’m giving it a thumbs up.

Pur Water Pitcher & Rotating Water Bottles

img_2166This is something that has been under appreciated and taken for granted because we’ve had it from the very beginning. It’s really nice though to have filtered water all the time. We got into a system of filling and rotating water bottles on the upper shelf of the fridge. That shelf stays very cold, even on the lowest setting, so the water was always nice and refreshingly cool.

img_2167We got a water bag that we use to fill the pitcher and just lash it to the top with a Velcro strap. An important modification was the addition of one of those really big rubber bands all around the top opening, so that it forms a gasket when the top is on. That, plus the lashing with the Velcro strap, prevents water that hasn’t yet filtered down into the bottom from sloshing all over the place. It only took us three years of sloshing and wiping to figure that out.

Skillet Dinners

img_2168This is proably our most mundane recommendation, but man, these frozen skillet dinners make cooking so easy. We can fit three in the freezer and that was about the right time span for shopping trips anyway. Walmart, yes I’m gonna say it because I am not pretentious, has the best selection. There are nice Bertoli pasta dishes and some good ones from P.F. Chang’s. Lots of them have frozen veggies thrown into the mix and we found them to be quite tasty with minimal prep and cleanup. The P.F. Chang’s dinners worked nicely with (we’re in full disclosure mode here) Minute Rice. Does it help at all that it was brown Minute Rice? No? Whatever. It worked for us. We have a little Thermos that we use for the Minute Rice because boiling water in a kettle and pouring it in works slightly faster and uses less propane than cooking rice on the stovetop. Which is nice when it’s already hot. And, as always, the Magma frying pan worked like a champ.

Baking Soda and Bleach Crystals

img_2169I do a sponge cloth “swooshy” of the water in the back of the shower basin before each time we pack up and move, so the bathroom normally stays pretty clean. Using a spritzer bottle with some kind of citrus based cleaner, I spray everywhere, and this mostly keeps things nice and fresh. However, for extended traveling, I found that when a little more is needed for either the floor or the toilet, Baking Soda works great. The bleach crystals were a new experiment to see if it would work on the grey tank when it started getting smelly. It did. And I like the idea of carrying dried crystals rather than liquid bleach for multiple reasons. Every once in a while, or if we notice smelly grey water dumps, I’ll pour what looks like about a Tablespoon down the shower drain and/or sink drain. I just run a little water to wash it down and that seems to do the trick. Bonus if I can time it so there’s already some grey water in there and we have to travel a little to the next dump, so it can slosh around.

Solar Charger

img_2170This is also something we take for granted, but since Richard replaced the factory solar controller with a Sun Saver Duo, we really haven’t had to worry about charging the coffee machine battery. I realize most of you do not have a 12v standalone battery powered Italian espresso machine, but my point is, if you did have something you wanted to power with a standalone battery, this system works well to keep things charged. We do have a backup charger on hand that we can use when we have hookups, but we really only did this once or twice the whole trip. Nice.

Sure Call/Signal Booster

img_2171While I’m not necessarily endorsing the specific brand name here, I will say that having something like this (or a weBoost) has been very helpful in multiple situations. Since Richard had to work during this trip, the expenditure was justifiable, as was the time and effort put into figuring out how to mount the antenna on a pole. So far, using two pieces of aluminum conduit, joined together by a standard connector, has given us enough height to be able to grab a signal even when the phones say “no service.” Of course, there are places where “no service” means just that, and no booster will help. But for most situations, we were able to boost to 3-4 bars of something, even from nothing to LTE. That’s enough for mail, or a phone call, or web access. It’s also not that time consuming to put up and take down. I’ve got strategically placed Command Hooks to route the cable, which runs through the back window. The cable fits even when the window is closed and in the “ventilation” lock position, which is good, both for security and in the event of rain.

Port Side Keder Rail

5yQr%SJcSC+XRZ9oEAYlOQThis was a good upgrade. Already, we’ve tried out hanging a piece of Aluminet or using the Pahaque Visor, and we can tell there is a difference in interior temperature getting that sunny side shaded. In fact, I like the Visor even though I don’t have the correct pole set up yet. I may have to end up getting another to go for the full Dumbo look when all we’re after is shade. Anyway, having that rail there really helps.

Fixing the Fridge Noise

This is Richard’s favorite thing right now. For three years, he has been complaining that the fridge was noisy. For three years I have blown him off saying it’s “normal.” It wasn’t. When we told Frederic Pratte about the rattle, he immediately knew there was something missing, or broken, behind the fridge to hold the compressor coils in place. It is totally silent now. Sorry, Sweetie.

Thumbs Down

Offline Blogging

This was, hands down, the most frustrating part of the whole trip. I have to admit, keeping up with the blog on the road was hard. At home, it is super easy and part of my Sunday routine after we get back. But this summer, I spent lots of time re-examining why I do this because there was a strong pull to give up. I’ll say this though: I always appreciate having done it, later. Yes, it’s my own public travel journal, and it’s how I look back and remember our trips. But it is also a resource and we find ourselves looking things up and like having it all there. And of course, I enjoy sharing it out, especially because I personally got so much out of reading other blogs, like RouteAlto80.blogspot.ca. It helps me feel connected to friends when we’re far away and I’d like to think it offers helpful information from time to time.  Truly, those people who told me they appreciated the blog kept me going more than any other factor.

So I knew I wanted to keep it up. And I knew that if I didn’t write it down in pretty close to real time, it would be overwhelming and forgotten later. What I tried to do was just keep current on the writing part first and foremost. This was something that was supposed to be possible in the WordPress iPad app when there is no service and you are working offline. I even verified with tech support before we left. They were wrong, it is not. So sometimes I had enough service to connect and do the writing, sometimes I wrote in a note and pasted later, and sometimes I thought I had enough service, but it hadn’t saved, then it crashed, and I ended up losing stuff. Arf.

The photos are a whole other thing. You really need WiFi and/or an unlimited service plan to upload those. And no matter what, it’s going to be time consuming. I sort of settled on using iPhone hot spots to upload just enough pictures to tell the story. I then organized all the rest into albums on my iPhone so I would be able to find them after we got home. That part worked ok, but does not work unless there is enough service to get the pictures to WordPress. And that only happened sometimes.

What I want Richard to invent and make a million dollars from, is a truly offline version of WordPress, where I could create drafts on an iPad or laptop, don’t care what, that have a couple of pictures placed and formatted and ready to upload when I have WiFi. Then I could more easily do the formatted posts in real time, save, and upload sporadically along the way. That was what I thought I’d be able to do and it was absolutely not the case. If someone knows something I’m not understanding, please post a comment! By the way, all the photos are now uploaded. Home WiFi rocks.

Wax Candles

lzyPdtP+RbWH5NGUJ7OtgQJust nope. They are so pretty and have little fake flickering flames that reflect off the ceiling. But they do not get along with 100+ degrees. So sad.

I am reasonably happy with the Romance Package 2.0 LED string lights, and even added a set of blue string lights in the bathroom that can be set to blink or pulsate. Like a Disco. A bathroom disco.

General Delivery from Amazon

IMG_0613Richard gets all excited about the idea of general delivery, so we had several things sent after we left home. Anything mailed from a USPS post office works great (thanks Caz & Steve for mailing checks and re-issued credit cards after ours got compromised and cancelled). Things sent from Amazon usually go through UPS or FedEx and neither of those will deliver to a post office. Luckily, the box of 100 Kustom Koozies we had made got redirected to a FedEx warehouse in a location not far from the Colorado Altogather. Just good to know in the future that this doesn’t work as well as we thought it would.

BAL Leveler

img_2185We are pretty sure we’re giving up on the BAL, even with its nice pizza box storage solution. Thing is, we only ever use it in situations the Anderson Leveler can’t handle, so like really unlevel sites where you have to crank up the BAL to its highest position. This is really hard to do and Richard hates it. It is also apparently not how you are supposed to use the BAL because ours ultimately started to bend at the part of the frame that holds the giant screw thingy in place. After talking to them on the phone, they were sort of willing to replace it, but cautioned us against using it this way. So, if that’s the case, we really would not ever want to use it. Plus it’s big and heavy and awkward. And, I mean, so am I, but since the BAL is an optional member of the camping party, we’re thinking it’s out for good. If it comes down to being that tippy, we’ll just aim the downhill side so the shower water drains properly and not worry so much about whether round things roll off the table.


Still Thinking

Awnings/Screen Rooms

IMG_1481Maybe it’s good to have some kind of unattainable goal. Like it keeps you motivated and prevents boredom. Of all the many options out there for shade/rain/privacy/bug protection, no combination has yet spoken to me as the perfect solution. We have a Pahaque “front arc style” awning, which is great. I really do like it a lot. Its best use is privacy screening and shade. It does both of those things really well. For us, it has worked pretty well for rain too, especially with the addition of the center pole. The downsides are that it’s not super easy to put up or take down and it really blocks the view out the side windows. Also, I was in the middle of trying to make it bug proof. I think if I ordered or made a skirt to block off the underside of the trailer, it would be close to bug proof. At least, as close as is reasonable to expect. But there’s still the set up/take down/block view. And wind. Nothing is going to do well in the wind. We put up our awning a total of two times this trip, each time was at a rally with a stay of at least three nights. One of those times I had to take it down because of wind. And did I use the bug netting either of those times? No. Instead, I got bitten.

4Q9IcUiETM2oGDChsVW3CgSo that leads me to thinking I should get a standalone thing, like a Clam or easy up canopy thing, that is detached so it doesn’t block views and is quick to put up/take down as soon as there’s wind. But honestly, that leads me to “Meh” because I don’t really have the urge to go over and sit inside a screen house. I guess I’ll just stick with the Pahaque awning, and now the Visor, for shade or privacy. So far, I like the Visor because it does not block views and is pretty quick. Granted, I don’t yet have the correct pole setup, so I’ll report back after we’ve used it properly for a while. I could order an “old style” SC awning, but, beyond punching another hole in some Awning Frequent Purchasers Club card, it doesn’t really get me anything I don’t already have. Maybe if that could be ordered with bug netting, I’d get excited. Or maybe I need to keep working on the Permathrin clothes instead.


And that’s a wrap for now on things that stood out for one reason or another this summer. There are things we value more highly (Techimpex, rear projection system), but I’ve talked about those a lot already. I hope to never stop tweaking things though, because that is all part of the fun!

Donner Lake SP (2) & Home

JKzMMhltTy25Qci5JMuCHQOur last hurrah before returning to the real world! Going with our theme of spontaneity, we just decided to pull up to the park and see what they had. I’d secured a reservation for Saturday night at Sugar Pine Point, but we had booked it through Nevada with enough time to get to Donner and out of the smoke and heat by Friday. That all worked perfectly. And not only did they have a site, they had one for two nights. We cancelled Sugar Pine and basked in Donner as though it was just another weekend out.

b4Id0umcQ0mq10jo1b%DQAOn our way, we passed by, but did not stop at, Thunder Mountain in Imlay NV. I wrote about this place three years ago and had intended to stop so Richard could see it. However, the smoke in the air was so bad, he was having a hard time even breathing. So we waved and drove by, on our way through Reno and to higher ground.

Saturday, I wanted to do some reconnaissance while Richard did a ride up Barker Pass. I really have never just gone around Lake Tahoe, so my plan was to check out the roads and scope out other potential campgrounds. Wow, was my thinking waaaaaay off there! QAtKjKJHTYafHZKp2gTr3gFirst off, about half of the 39 million residents of California had decided to go to Lake Tahoe this weekend. So I hit some crazy traffic jams with tons of people trying to make their way along single lane highways while events were blocking off streets and taking up every conceivable parking space along the lake. Next, wow, ok, I’ve never driven the part of Highway 89 that goes along Emerald Bay. I will officially say, that is not my favorite thing to do. There are definitely steep deathy drop offs along there, and with so many people in cars, or walking next to parked cars, it was dodgy at best getting through. I was super glad not to have accidentally had Dory with me for that drive. I made it, partly on the power of the promise to myself that I would not have to drive it again since my plan was to go back up on the eastern side of the lake.

TwdUjaexSj2N2wjFJq076APlan thwarted. Once I got to South Lake Tahoe, I discovered all the rest of the 39 million Californians, on the road, completely stopped, in South Lake Tahoe where 50 meets 89. I sat in a parking lot of cars for a loooonnnggg time. Eventually, I started getting hungry and realized this lake loop plan was going to take at least triple the time I had allotted. So, I reluctantly turned back, deciding to cut my losses even if it meant driving the deathy road again. I wasn’t happy about it, but having immersed ourselves in Donner Party history the past couple of days, it just seemed like a more rational thing to do. I mean, I didn’t have food in the car, it looked impossible to pull over and park to get food anywhere along the way, and I didn’t want to have to end up eating someone. “No see, Your Honor, I’d only had a protein shake for sustenance and it was super hard to park, so I had no choice but to eat that guy.”

TqSuaR%y8wbVqPxZrpwI was able to get enough service to text Richard, who procured a nice sandwich and some water. I picked him up in Tahoma and managed to snag a parking spot long enough to eat lunch. Then we got the hell out of the chaos and went back to Donner. I do like that park. I got to sneak in one last paddle and we had dinner outside in our swinging chairs. That is just much more relaxing. I know lots of people who love Tahoe, and I’m willing to learn how to do it, but so far I must say I do not have a good impression of the place. Too crowded, too hard to get around.

QHOZ9TwSRumfBmSrxj6TIwSunday we trudged home. Richard was not a happy camper about the whole idea. I had intentionally made reservations for the next several weekends, specifically as a way to fend off post vacation depression. That helps. And I must say, all things considered, the twentysomethings did a pretty good job not trashing the house. The bathroom sink seems to not be draining, but everything else is. Also, the cat was full of burrs. So many burrs. But she endured brushing and only batted at me every three or so strokes. So I think she knew it was bad.

And you gotta hand it to home on a couple of fronts: the wifi is fast, the laundry is free, and the grey water tank is simply amazing.

Total miles: 205.4, 15.1, 4 hours 21 min. Total miles to home: 176.4, 17.1, 4 hours 38 min. Site 67. No hookups and no dump, but you can dump in the nearby Chevron station. Slight solar, but it’s fairly shaded. Water spigots and nice bathrooms and showers. Good LTE for both, but around Lake Tahoe, service drops out sometimes.

Winnemucca KOA

E68BD7A0-63E7-416B-8E8B-4F9E9E2ADFC4Nevada, in Spanish, means, “don’t go there.” Got it. Today we mentally connected with the Gold Rush pioneers, noting that we have a car, and air conditioning, and roads, and…. It was still a slog.

Remember that Laramide Erogeny I keep mentioning? Nevada is what happens when huge areas of land rise up and form mountain ranges. In between the ranges, the land gets stretched out to form ripples of repeating basins and ranges. So, stretch marks, really.C4248DAF-42BF-4D53-A462-83E15C740A6C The great basin of Nevada does not get water draining into it, so it’s a vast desert, punctuated with salt flats and a wall of death, called the Sierra Nevada. You can probably tell we stopped at a pioneer museum today, and you’re right.

To break up the long drive, we pulled off at the California Trail Interpretive Center and I would give that a 5.0. They take you through the pioneer story by focusing on members of the Donner/Reed party. 84D2D75A-FAC2-4F58-94A5-B7420385F8EDThey have excerpts from journals, illustrated with displays showing what the land was like at the time. For example, going through the Bonneville Salt Flats, tedious in a car driving 65, took them weeks. The carts and horses broke through the top layer of salt, only to sink into salty mud. They had to abandon supplies, carts, and livestock all along the trail just to make forward progress. By the time they got to the Sierras, much later than they planned, they were exhausted, emaciated, and not getting along terribly well with each other. It’s the ultimate camping trip from hell, but with much more death. E0864219-2289-464B-ACB8-9B119BB9FE2FThere was a multimedia display that sort of brought to life the final months up in the snow and I literally felt my stomach tense up because I could imagine the scene. This historic site is really well done, and I highly recommend it as a stop along 80. Also, it’s air conditioned and has great bathrooms.

Backtracking a bit, we began the day with the discovery of another Alto in the SLC KOA! And it was not only a member of Altoistes, but also someone I’d conversed with previously because they live in California. Turns out, they are returning from their pickup and we will probably see each other on the road all the way back. I love when that happens. 🙂

31469A57-215F-4EB3-AA9F-262A6CC4FE29We wrapped up the day with another KOA. Listen, it’s 105 degrees here. No way were we going to camp at a state park with no electric hookups. And out here, the only choice is really how far you want to drive, in 50-100 mile increments, before you stop for the day. Today’s winner was: Winnemucca! It is every bit as exciting as its name sounds. And, who should we see in the site across from us, but our new Alto friends. Richard went and got take out from a nearby Mexican restaurant and I’m sipping margaritas with ice, so all is well. It’s a far cry from the end to a Pioneer’s day, where you mostly either die or eat deceased non-relatives. Those people were amazing.

Total miles: 351.7, 17.1 mpg, 6 hours 24 min. KOA with full hookups. LTE still strong all along most of 80. Pretty good wifi. All the expected amenities, plus fake plants in the bathroom for ambiance.