San Simeon (2)

img_9026Well, we are not at the Second Annual Altoistes rally in North Carolina because I can be rational sometimes. That would have been a big trip to justify for a four day event. Still, I wanted to. Instead, I picked up a project I’d abandoned last summer and cleared out our bedroom in order to have it painted and re-floored. Understand, this wasn’t a purely cosmetic project. It had become more of a health and safety issue over time and the few people in the know have all signed non disclosure agreements. Given that plan, we decided to make a crazy trip down south to the headquarters of the company that makes the Alto awning. Richard is treating it as a mobile work week and we’re finding it is going ok so far.

img_9025But first, we spent the weekend on the coast near Morro Bay to escape the heat. We left Friday morning and were rolling by 10. Richard was in full work mode, which appears to mean tapping on a laptop, dropping his mouse, and holding on and off conversations with other remotely connected programmers. We took a detour on our way to Coyote Lake because that is a mere 82 miles from us and offers kayaking potential. There are electric hookup sites there, which would be nice if it’s hot. I noted that site 7 had a good view, but is in full sun. Worth checking out.

img_9030We camped in the San Simeon campground before, but up in the Washburn “primitive” campground. I think the only difference is there are vault toilets up there, no showers, and unpaved roads. This time we checked out the lower San Simeon Creek campground in a “nonspecific” site (which means you can secure a reservation ahead of time, but choose your site based on what is available when you get there). I did take notes on sites that were on the nice side and have solar, but they all seem fairly equal to me along the outside of the loop. Inside the loop is much more in the thick of things, but we were fine with whatever. There was certainly a different vibe on the weekend when it was packed with partiers and families than on Sunday night. We had a group next to us, for example, with a palatial tent compound set up and they ran a generator most of the day. I’m not really sure what for, besides inflating the beds.

img_9052Saturday we split up so Richard could go on a bike ride and I could go kayaking in Morro Bay. That was pretty spectacular. The weather was perfect and a far cry from the 100s we’d left behind. There were definitely otters in the water as well as Pelicans and seals. We had a miscommunication on where we were supposed to meet up, but luckily there is pretty good cell service in that area, so I ended up picking Richard up out near Montana Del Oro. Sunday we hiked the San Simeon Creek trail and had dinner at House of Juju by the Bay again. Those fish tacos and seasoned potatoes are the absolute best. And Sunday was Dory’s 2 year Altoversary! Can’t think of a nicer way to celebrate.

Since Richard was working Monday morning, we put all of our outside stuff away Sunday night. We enjoyed the awning quite a bit this trip, which is nice since we are traveling several hundred miles to visit its manufacturers. This was the perfect application and provided a perfectly private refuge from the crowded campground. I found that I really like doing evening stretches under the awning with the privacy walls. It makes it so Richard can take his shower while I’m stretching and we don’t bump into each other or have to wait on each other. All I need now is to make it bug proof.

This was a great weekend, somewhat spontaneously planned. It’ll be a different kind of traveling for us for the week. But at least we get to sleep in a Dory bed instead of on a couch at home.

Total miles: 246.9 (with visit to Coyote Lake on the way), 18.0 mpg, 5 hours 52 min. Site: 91. Sites with some privacy and good solar: 108, 112, 114, 75, 74, 70, 68, 67, 65, 64, 62, 61, 57, 48, 46. No service for ATT or Verizon inside campground, but 4G or sporadic LTE as soon as you get to the beach.


IMG_8982Anyone remember the cartoon with the abominable snow monster who searched and searched but could not find his bunny rabbit? Well, it was really hot this weekend, and had we remained at home, we likely would have melted like he did. Instead, we returned to Shaver Lake, this time at the Dorabelle campground. I’d made these reservations probably six months prior and, just by pure luck, seem to have gotten the nicest site. In fact, when we checked in at the kiosk, the woman asked if we’d been there before, and when we said no, she remarked that any time someone has reserved sites 29-35, it’s because they are return visitors and are in the know. All I knew was that site 34 on the map seemed to be near the blue area on the map. Anyway, she was right, it was nice.

IMG_8992Down in the valley, temperatures were in the high 90s or low 100s for most of the weekend, but up at 5k feet, it never got too bad and mostly stayed in the upper 80s. This was a good thing, because we did not have hookups to run the AC. We left midday Friday and Richard was able to work in the car. It really does take about five hours for us to get there, even without traffic. We were rewarded after the long drive with a lovely sunset over a much fuller Shaver Lake. Dorabelle is just across a little bay from Camp Edison and has many nice beaches to launch boats or just hang out. There were lots of campers this weekend and lots of boats on the water.

IMG_8995Saturday Richard wanted to do a bike ride down into the valley and back up, but the road into Shaver Lake, at least the last six miles of it, is quite narrow, with no shoulder. He also wasn’t too keen on the idea of all that descending because the gradient is pretty steep. For some reason, he was into the idea of climbing, even in the heat, so we came up with a compromise. I drove him down to Tollhouse and returned to the lake to do some paddling. Then, once he’d climbed most of the way, he could stop at a little market and wait for me to pick him up with the car. That worked perfectly and timed well with the amount of paddling I felt like doing in one stretch. I got some impressive before and after shots to show just how much the level of the water had risen since we were there a couple of weeks before. Apparently they had intentionally let a lot of water out in order to make ready for the snow melt. This time, the lake looked good and full. Sadly, all around you can see the decimation of the pine trees after the long drought. I’m not sure how many of them succumbed, but there is a lot of deforestation going on to remove the dead ones.


IMG_9006After his hot bike ride, Richard was up for spending time in the water. What he didn’t like the last time he tried boating was the feeling he was going to tip over. So I went and got him a floaty in town and towed him around the lake like an aquatic trailer. He got cheers from some of the guys on the beach, who said they wanted to throw him a beer and take pictures. It was Father’s Day weekend, so I guess you could justify the image.

Saturday night we grilled for the first time in quite a while. I also put up the awning for the first time since probably last summer. I’ve been doing a lot of contemplating over the awning. What I think is this: if there is a gorgeous view out the windows, I will never want to put it up. Also, if it is too hot or too cold to sit outside comfortably, I wouldn’t want to put it up. Also, for stays of one night, no way. IMG_8986But this application was a good one, the only problem being the fact that without bug netting, the awning sort of acts like a bug attractor and trapper. I’m scheming some ideas about how netting could possibly be added to it, but I still note that there are limited circumstances in which the effort it takes to put up and take down would make it worthwhile.

For example, Sunday morning we had a lot of outside packing up to do and it was hot. Neither of us was a happy camper while we were shoving everything back into their various carrying cases. We say we will pack up the night before in the future, but I also know that the night before we will probably be just as tired as we were this weekend, and I bet we won’t actually follow our own advice next time.

IMG_9012IMG_9011We made a quick stop at the same vista point we lunched at before and I noted, through not very scientific methods, that Dory is cooler inside than outside if you run the fan at full speed. Long drive home and we waited until eight to unpack and move Dory into the garage. Summer has arrived in all its glory.

Total miles: 199.2, 16.4 mpg, 4 hours 48 min. Site: 34, probably my favorite with a little bit of solar and walking distance to the lake. Nice meadow, privacy, and a little babbling brook right next to it. Sites 33, and the double site 36 would have good solar. 35 was also nice. We didn’t see 29-32 but they would be a farther walk to the water I think. LTE or 4G for both ATT and Verizon.


IMG_8934This one goes on the list of favorite campgrounds for sure! The park is only open from April to November and is geared toward tent camping. Several of the sites list a maximum vehicle length of 12′ and would not be suitable to an Alto. But there are a couple that are 24′ and level enough that small trailers can get in with no problem. This is a very beautiful campground and they take great pains to keep it that way. Some of the wildlife in the area is endangered, so it is a “crumb clean” park. That means you truly do need to be careful about not leaving any food out or around which would attract Jays, squirrels, or raccoons. Worth it, 100%.

IMG_8949It only took us about two hours to get there Friday and we got to enjoy beautiful views of the California coastline on the way. The weather was cooler this weekend, but, being on the coast and in a redwood forest, I think this would be the place to go when inland temps get up there in the summer. Saturday we went on a beautiful hike along the Six Bridges trail (There are. We counted.). Along the way, we met a group of volunteers who were working very hard to keep the trails nicely maintained. After all the recent rain, they have found it only takes about a month for the trail to go from cleared, to impassably overgrown. Then we climbed up the Ano Nuevo trail and got some views all the way to the ocean. From there, it was a magical, gentle downward stroll through the forest and back to the campground. We figure the loop was about 4 miles and about 700′ of climbing. That was one of my favorite hikes.

IMG_8927We played around with the rear view camera a bit on this trip. It had worked perfectly for about a year, then started giving us problems. It would work sporadically, then not at all. We sent it back in and got a replacement camera and were able to verify that it worked, but only with the roof up and the receiver antenna sticking out the window. IMG_8933So this weekend we tried a BFA (A=Antenna, you guess the rest) and that seemed to do the trick. It’s pretty darn big and I’m not sure where to keep it when not in use, but I truly prefer being able to see behind me when I’m backing into a site, so I’ll make it work. In other tech news, and for those who have been worried about us dying in our sleep, we got a standalone CO detector which has yet to terrify us awake. Richard gave it a stern warning that at the first sign of a false alarm, it will be toast. It seems to be behaving.

IMG_8972Sunday we knew we were going to have to stop at Half Moon Bay on our way home to dump our tanks (no dump at Butano), and given the fact that my last work day was Friday, we were itching to stay out a little longer. When we pulled in, we asked about sites and sure enough, for one night, there was a non hookup site available. There was plentiful solar and at this point, we both blew a happy fuse. Once we calmed the giddiness down, we went for a walk on the beach, gawked at a group flying around with huge surf sails, and biked into town to get takeout dinner. I highly recommend a place called Ark and their Chicken Tikka Masala. Sunset on the beach… yeah. Life is good.

IMG_8977Monday morning, Richard had to go to work. Luckily, his commute was pretty short. As long as he has good cell service, it really doesn’t matter where he parks his laptop. He was able to hop online and do his job equally well at the beach, sitting in Dory, and he’s pretty sure none of his coworkers even knew he had his back to the ocean rather than our dining room wall. The only limiting factor to this setup turns out the be his laptop battery, which does not (yet) have a 12v solution. So when he took his “lunch break,” we hitched up and drove home. He jumped back online without missing a beat as soon as we got home.

This weekend was definitely a 10.

Total miles: 86.1, 16.0 mpg, 2 hours 22 min. Site 13. Sporadic cell service for both, but Verizon got LTE most of the time. ATT got 4G sometimes, and nothing at other times. NO solar, no hookups, but water spigots nearby. Bathrooms fine. Big, spacious sites, but pretty unlevel. Other possible sites: 13, 9, 8, 6, 5, 16.

Pinnacles (2)

IMG_8874This year, Memorial Day weekend brought the sweet respite of no internet service. I usually get pretty antsy when there is no connection at all from anywhere inside a campground, but it is clear to me that I needed a break. We still found time to check in with home every twenty-four hours, but once we got within about five miles of the campground, it was radio silence, a bottle of Rombauer, and bliss.

Friday, being a not altogether wonderful day for either of us, found us pulling out later than we wanted. We knew we would hit holiday weekend traffic, and we did. Still, we got to the campground with plenty of light for unhitching and a quick TJ’s dinner that was both delicious, and ready in 5 min. The site we got was very nice. One side faced some empty field space, so it felt a bit more private, and it was located under a huge Oak tree, for shade. We used the Caravan Mover to spin Dory to an optimal position and went inside for dinner, an episode of “Lost,” and bedtime.

IMG_8867Saturday was project day. Richard had previously installed a Sun Saver Duo solar controller so that the solar panels could charge the main battery and the coffee machine battery simultaneously. It appears to be a pretty nifty unit and also has the added benefit of bringing in the amps at a slightly higher rate than the original one. Richard programmed it to use whatever solar energy it is getting and send 90% to the main Alto battery, and 10% to the smaller 50 amp battery. He wired up a plug in the battery box for one end of the cable, and Saturday finished the project by wiring a plug in the wall to go to the solar controller. We can verify that the system is working as intended, which means we shouldn’t need to plan long outings to have hookup sites just so we can charge up the coffee battery.

IMG_8897The other nifty thing he did was to install a dual USB charging outlet, pulling from the circuit that used to run the CO/LPG detector. We’d pretty much given up on the factory wired detector. It was excellent at detecting moisture, spilled beer, and sound sleep, but we decided a while ago that we’d rather just die peacefully than need to consistently pull the fuse at 3am. We will instead get a battery operated standalone unit and see how much it detects. But again, dying in our sleep in Dory = not a bad way to go.

My projects were: put in a cup holder on Richard’s side of the bed, and rehang the clothing hook so it doesn’t fall off. Done.

IMG_8880All projects were completed by 2, so Richard went on a bike ride and I wrote the last report of the school year. That took a couple of hours. I then followed his route with the car, and met up with him on the road. This jaunt also coordinated nicely with a daily check in with the outside world. Then it was back to blackout bliss and a Blue Apron meal of Meatballs & Tomato Sauce with Asparagus and Creamy Rice. OMG. That was good. I’m 50 and don’t like brown rice, but that was really delicious brown rice. Perhaps, with the addition of fromage blanc, pan seared asparagus, cilantro, and lime juice, I could learn to appreciate the stuff.

IMG_8887Sunday was the warmest day of the weekend and we planned to redo the hike to the Balconies Trail Talus caves. It turns out, we were not the only ones on Memorial Day weekend to have that thought. We bailed at the last minute after standing in line for the shuttle while feeling crowded. Instead, we went on the South Wilderness trail. That was lovely, though would have been better about five to ten degrees cooler. It was an out and back and we figure we went at least five miles total. That was plenty. When we got back to Dory, we cranked the AC and had ice cold lemon waters. Another “Lost,” another quick trip to see if the world was still there, and back for a grilled dinner of beef satay and skewered veggies. While I cooked, Richard utilized the portable grey water dump tank. I think that may have been the third time it’s ever been used. For a two night stay, we don’t need to dump. If we had wanted to conserve, we could have made it another night, but the thing is really big, so we kind of wanted to feel like it was worth it to bring. Plus, over the summer, Richard wants to see if we could go places during the week where he could work during the day. If we can find a place with strong internet, electric hookups or solar, and a dump station, we could stay M-F. We shall see.

IMG_8893Monday we packed up leisurely, expecting to hit traffic no matter when we left. Sadly, as we were cleaning up, I found out from a ranger that the big flying birds we had been positive were Condors, were in fact Turkey Vultures. Apparently, the Condors have all flown to Big Sur. Oh well. I did not inform the campers next to us because they were pretty excited about seeing Condors. In fact, the evening before, there was quite a gathering in the campground of people looking up with binoculars at the seven circling Condors, exchanging remarks about how they were clearly larger than Turkey Vultures, and look, you can even see the distinctive white coloring that makes it certain they are Condors. And who can say? Maybe all the RV campers know more than National Park Service Rangers whose job it is to know about these things.

We left for home a little after noon and shockingly did not hit very much traffic at all. We even took a break to get some fresh fruit from a stand in Gilroy and still made it home before 4. Lovely weekend! Now back to real life for a couple more weeks and then it’s summer!

Total miles: 125.6, 16.5 mpg, 3 hours 46 min with traffic. Site 87, very nice. Electric hookups with water spigots available in the loop. None of the sites are terribly private, but it seems preferable to get one on the outside of the loop. Nice bathrooms, no cell service for five miles for either ATT or Verizon.

Camp Edison Shaver Lake

IMG_8808Wow, I really like lakes. A big huge thank you to our Altoiste buddy, Linda, for the recommendation of Camp Edison at Shaver Lake! This may have been one of my favorite places, though it was a long drive and I would have preferred a longer stay. But isn’t it always the case that we’d like a longer stay?

As it was, we were able to get out pretty early on Friday and were on the road at 2. The drive according to the navigation system was under four hours, but we always know to add time to those estimates. It turned out to be about 5 with some trafficky spots, but we still pulled in and got set up before dark.

IMG_8794What a site! We had a beautiful and unobstructed view of the lake, but I will say it was rather unlevel. Perhaps if we’d repositioned closer to the power pole, it might have been better. But we pulled out the trusty BAL leveler and raised it to its max. Good thing we always carry that just in case. Also a good thing we carry a step stool. Linda was just across from us in a rockstar site right by the water.

18643521_10155530607436844_1015235396_nSaturday was a big day. Richard went out for an impressive bike ride, while Linda and I and her three doggies got to paddle the lake. Lake kayaking is my official favorite thing. There is no current, no tide, just easy, peaceful floating. Linda’s doggies were pros, even the puppy. We spent a good several hours paddling all around Shaver Lake. Once we decided to go back on land, we left the kayaks inflated on the chance we might want to hop back in the water later on. Then we relaxed in our respective Altos until Richard got back.

IMG_1268His ride covered forty miles and climbed 5,702 ft, so he was understandably tired and ready for food. First though, we had brought along all the fixins to install a Trimetric battery monitor for Linda, so we started on that.

IMG_8832To install a Trimetric on an Alto battery, often the most difficult part is fishing the thin wire that goes from the battery area, to the inside where the monitor needs to go. We got immediately confused when we looked at Linda’s Alto because hers was lacking the plastic tubing that houses the bundle of wires coming out of the battery on the port side. We found another tubing bundle on the starboard side and realized we were going to need to run the wire up through the floor on that side (*ok, it turns out we also have that same tubing on our Alto, we just never noticed because the one on the port side is so much more obvious. It also turns out the port side tubing is for the Caravan Mover, which Linda doeIMG_8835s not have. So there you go). I got to be the one on the ground with pine needles in her hair, carefully pushing the wire along from bend to bend. This process is not unlike when you accidentally pull a tie string out of something like pants or a jacket hood, and have to shove it back through, inch by inch, until you can pull it out the other side.
Eventually, Richard was able find the end and pull it up into the inside of the Alto. This was after we had to unscrew her little storage shelf in order to get access to the very front of the interior area. There sure are a lot of wires under there.

IMG_8833IMG_8829The next step was to install the “shunt” onto the battery. This is what actually reads the activity on the battery. Richard had made a fancy copper connector to go from the shunt to the battery terminal. Only problem: the terminal screw was too short. This stopped us dead in our tracks for a while until I asked if it could possibly be mounted upside down. Richard saw no practical reason that couldn’t work, so we were back in business.

Once we’d gotten this far, we sort of thought the hard part was over and Richard was very hungry. We made the call to pause and go get pizza, but Linda and I realized this would mean we really needed to retrieve and put away our kayaks. Plus, I had to change into more presentable town clothes. Plus, we had to put tools and stuff away if we were going to leave the campground. After all of this, I was regretting the decision to go out and knew we’d probably be finishing the project in the dark. Richard got to hear about my frustrations over that decision later in the evening, but in the meantime, we checked out a seriously great pizza joint in the town of Shaver Lake.

IMG_8837Upon our return, Richard started the process of hooking up the monitor. It turned out to be far more time consuming that he anticipated because he’d brought the wrong wire stripper. So…. he would go at it with a pair of clippers for a while, and either get it, or mistakenly snip the wire and have to start all over again with all four tiny wires. Poor Linda all this time, was standing outside in the dark with her doggies. Can you just feel the fun? So, cut to the chase, between his fiddling and my fiddling, we got it hooked up, tested, and mounted. I think it was around 9pm when we packed all the bits and tools away. That was a long day, requiring some follow up discussions for how to avoid similar situations in the future. We now have a “signal” I can give in moments when I think something is a bad idea but can’t explain all the reasons why. I also made reservations for this same site in October so we can have a do over. I really would like, someday, to go for a sunset paddle on a lake.

IMG_8841Sunday we enjoyed a nice, lazy morning. We headed back a little after noon, stopping at a vista point for lunch and coffee. The drive back only took around 4 hours and we got back at 6ish, gave an Alto tour, and collapsed for the night.

Total miles: 209.1, 16.3 mpg, 5 hours 8 min. Site: 120 (awesome). Other nice sites with a lake view and some privacy: 122, 124, 125, 119. Nice sites with lake view and solar: 120, 121. Potential nice group sites: 107 & 108. We didn’t check out the other loops though, so there might be some good sites there. Strong LTE for both of us. Electric hookups for most (if not all?) trailer sites. Water spigots plentiful. Sparkling clean bathrooms with showers, dump station. Great place.

Henry Cowell

IMG_8748This was my first time exploring the redwoods just outside of Santa Cruz in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. The super fun part of this weekend was that we got to hang out with our “wine and whine” besties. Also, I recently won 50 bottles of very nice wine in a raffle. Trust me, you so want to be my bestie right now.

While we regularly reserve sites about six months in advance, it’s not always so easy for friends to just spontaneously join us. Luckily, our friends are very happy with renting an Airbnb nearby and connecting for meals and/or hikes. We pulled in to the campsite around six and they came over to join us for dinner. A couple bottles of fine Cabernet or Malbec, and that, to me, is the perfect evening.

IMG_8750Saturday, Richard went for a “top 100 rides” biking adventure while Rita, Mo, and I went for a hike in the redwoods. Mo is a super hiker and disappeared ahead of us on the trail almost instantly. Rita and I got to stroll along at a more relaxed pace and we planned to hook up later. When I hike with Richard, most of the conversation centers around whether we are still on the trail. His eyes are usually glued to Galileo Pro and/or a trail map. I think on this hike, I may have over adjusted to a more relaxed state of mind and was paying not too close attention to the navigation. Instead, I just enjoyed the scenery and talking to Rita, who teaches mindfulness classes and is an expert at living in the moment. Eventually, I realized that where I was casually aiming our route was not in the same direction that Mo had bee lined toward. In fact, it was about exactly in the opposite direction. But here’s the awesome thing about hiking with a mindfulness expert: the destination doesn’t matter! …. Except we needed Mo to pick us up because we didn’t want to walk all the way back and we were not in the right place by the time we reached the road. So perhaps the moral is: it’s good to aimlessly hike and enjoy the scenery, but it is also good to have a backup plan in case you totally screw up because you weren’t paying attention.

IMG_8756Once we got our ride, we drove to the town of Felton for lunch where Richard also happened to be ending up. On our way, we spotted a biker wearing a bright yellow jacket. From a distance, we thought it might be him. As we approached, we saw that the rider had a big, bushy, totally white beard, and we joked, “Wow. That must have been a really hard ride to age him like that.” We did actually find him at the next intersection wearing the same yellow jacket, but not so many white hairs. We all had lunch together at a Mexican restaurant and then I got dropped off back at Dory while Richard rode back. Afternoon was nappy time for both of us. Then we decided to be lazy and both couples did dinner on their own. I did a re-created Blue Apron recipe, which worked great, except we still have leftover scallions and cabbage.

IMG_8767Sunday, we got packed up and drove to the Redwood Grove interpretive loop trail in Felton. This is a beautiful, easy walk through a grove of coastal redwood trees. It is located right by the Roaring Camp train station, so you can hear the sounds of steam trains echoing through the woods as you go. We parked Dory in a horse trailer parking lot outside the main parking area and Richard was thrilled to see that the new solar controller was putting in >10 amps from the solar panels. This will be a big bonus, not only for charging the Alto battery, but for charging the coffee battery once we get it wired in. From Felton, we headed to New Brighton to dump tanks because the dump station at Henry Cowell is closed.

The only other fun thing to report from the weekend was that we accidentally followed an Airstream all the way from Santa Cruz to Lafayette, through dense weekend traffic, and around 80 miles. We noticed it and wondered if they noticed it. When they finally pulled off, just one exit before ours, we turned to look as we passed them, and the driver was waving at us. We waved back. I don’t know why, but I find that to be really fun.

Great weekend. And the best part was connecting with our wine and whine friends. I hope to find future trips where we can hook up together.

Total miles: 78.1, 16.1 mpg, 2 hours 33 min. Site 5 was nice and spacious and private. Other nice sites: 7, 11, 15, 18, 35, 33, 28. Sites with potential solar: 40, 42, 43, 44*, 46. Good LTE for ATT and 3g or 4g for Verizon. Dump not open. Bathrooms fine, no hookups, but water spigots plentiful.

Anthony Chabot (3)

IMG_8661Our backyard campground just got a little harder to get to. With all the recent rains, there have been mud slides and road closures all over California. Two of them have made getting through the Oakland hills much trickier. Going our normal route, Anthony Chabot is a mere 14 miles away, taking under an hour of travel time. Now we have to go out Highway 24 through the tunnel, down Highway 13 to 580, then up Redwood, just to get to the other side of Pinehurst. The miles now are just over 25, but the travel time is still just over an hour, so I can’t complain much. I am mostly just glad it is still accessible at all. Richard plans to again ride the Grizzly Peak Century in a couple of weeks, and they have had to completely reorganize their route and will only be offering a metric century this year.

IMG_8665Friday we delayed our launch in the hopes that one last UPS package, listed as “Out for Delivery” might make it to us before we left. Lo and Behold, right when we were ready to give up, the beautiful brown truck came rumbling up the street. Richard had a battery project he wanted to tackle this weekend and just needed those last couple of parts. As you know, we power our 12v espresso machine with a standalone 50 amp hour battery. We attach metal clamps to the battery terminals every time we want to use the machine, and every time we charge it back up. I say “we,” but really it is Richard who always does this. This has all worked surprisingly well, with the exception of when we go out on trips longer than four days and we don’t have electric hookups, because we then have no way to charge the battery back up. So he got this idea to tap into the solar panel charging system and did lots of research to verify the details. A new solar controller was purchased to replace the original one. This one, the Sun Saver Duo, has the ability to charge two different batteries using the same solar panels. IMG_8666He got all excited about the concept and I countered with one condition as part of the project: no more clampy things. So he got pluggy things (aka “Power Poles“) and a box to contain the battery (aka a plastic shoe box), plus all the wiring. It appears to work as intended and now all I have to do is make another battery cozy, because obviously I’m going to do that. He still needs to hook into the solar controller, but we can now plug the espresso machine into a receptacle so it can use the battery, and the charger for the battery can plug into the other receptacle when it is plugged into the 120v AC outlet. Don’t feel stupid if this is all baffling to you.

Saturday Richard went riding and I drove down to the lake. Except the road leading to the lake is half gone. So instead, I went all the way back down Redwood, to Highway 13, down 580, and up to Lake Chabot. From the lake, I can literally wave to Richard in the campground (I have photos to prove it), but to get my kayak down there, I have to drive 15 miles. Oh well, still better than trying to lug the kayak down a crazy steep trail.

To launch from Lake Chabot, you have to pay a fee and get your boat inspected. They are very, very particular about wetness on your boat. You also need to have at least 5 chambers if you have an inflatable. Mine passed, but frankly, I think if any one of those chambers were to fail, I’m going down. IMG_8679I got on the water around one and had a lovely, peaceful paddle. I like lakes a lot. It was amazing to see the difference in the water level from when we were last there in the middle of an extreme drought. Docks that were hanging off the side of dirt hills are now looking like actual docks, floating in the water like they’re supposed to.

I still like this campground very much and it’s nice that it is so close, even with the detour. We will have more to report on the battery charging scheme in a couple of weeks.

Total miles (taking highways instead of going through Canyon): 25.2, 14.0 mpg, 1 hour 4 min. Site 11, full hookups. There is a dump in the campground, but no showers. Good LTE for both of us. Site 69 in the lower loop would be a nice site and might have solar, but the bathroom is very far away.