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.

Buckhorn Campground

IMG_1410This place was a pleasant surprise indeed. Heading home from Ashland, we sort of planned to stop at Colusa again on the way home, in order to break up the long drive. However, as we were maybe fifty miles north of there, we spotted a brown sign indicating a recreation area at Black Butte Lake. Richard hopped onto his Allstays app and verified that there was a campground there and that it wasn’t too far off I-5 to go check it out.

IMG_1412Buckhorn Campground, which is managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, is on the northern side of the lake, while the smaller Orland Buttes campground is to the south. It was a pleasant and straightforward drive to the kiosk and the place definitely had spots available. For $20, we got a gorgeous view of the lake and a perfect place to stop. We even set out on a trail for a little hike where we spotted maybe eight deer and as many Jack Rabbits.

It’s a very nice place and we’ll be keeping it in mind whenever we’re hauling up or down I-5. No hookups, so if it’s hot, it could get brutal out there. Our timing treated us to lush green hillsides and temperatures in the 60s. Nice.

Total miles from Ashland: 209.2, 4 hours 27 min, 15.4 mpg. Total miles to home: 156.9, 3 hours 2 min, 17.1 mpg. Site 39, very nice, with a raised picnic area and view of the lake. Other nice sites: 36, 37, 38, 39*, 40*, 48, 49. Good solar, LTE for Verizon, but not much for ATT.

Ashland – Emigrant Lake RV (2)

IMG_1365This was our second visit to this RV park, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last. The campground has sites with full hookups, views of the lake, and is only about a ten minute drive to downtown Ashland. We had tickets lined up for every night and there was enough cell service that Richard could put in solid days of work right from Dory. And, when weather permitted, there was biking and kayaking for additional entertainment.

IMG_1348When I scoped out sites previously, I noted RV 21 as seeming nice, with direct access to the lake. What I did not quite realize was how huge the site is. It is clearly designed to accommodate the biggest of rigs, which is fine, but we quickly discovered that the electric and sewer hookups were waaaaaay back at one end, while the picnic table and area where you kind of want to hang out are waaaaaay at the other side. You guys, this seriously freaked me out. If I had been able to park Dory in the middle of the driveway, closer to the ‘hang out’ area, I don’t think I would have felt so weird. But to do that would have required having extensions for the sewer hose and power cable of around fifty feet. IMG_1364Alternatively, we could have gone out and bought another portable grey tank (because we hate the hugeness of the portable grey tank we left at home, thinking we wouldn’t need it). That way, we could dump into the tank, roll it to the sewer outlet, and re-dump every couple of days. Ok, fine. I admit, that is insane. I stood in the site for the longest time in a state of semi non-verbal, cognitive overload, before being willing to park her at the end with the hookups. It just looked so ridiculous to me. In a feeble effort to make our tiny trailer look better suited to the enormity of the space, I just started putting out all the outside camping gear I had. IMG_1354I even put out a little row of solar lights from Dory to the picnic table, like some kind of runway. If I’d had another thirty outdoor mats, you can bet they would have been carefully laid out and nailed to the ground. How much did we actually use any of that? Not much. It was cold and we mostly just wanted to stay inside our tiny trailer. Honestly, it took a while before I could shake the feeling of somehow being judged by the big rig people who seemed comparatively crammed into their normal sized sites. It wasn’t until I finally tried to verbalize my discomfort to Richard that it became funny. At that point, we decided we really needed to go buy the longest dining room table imaginable and just set it up as though that’s a totally normal way to camp.

IMG_1370Tuesday, the weather was clear, though chilly, and our pals came out to visit us for lunch. I was excited for them to be able to use the ample parking we had at our disposal. Except, where did they decide to put the car? You’ve got to be kidding me. IMG_1369

That night, we saw “Othello” with Caz and Steve. Great production, though I found this Iago to be a bit too likable for my tastes. Emilia, however, knocked it out of the park.

29790764_10214221802032867_3662550687562072064_nWednesday I saw a matinee of “Sense and Sensibility” with Caz & Steve, while Richard worked. Again, the production value was high, but this time, the subject matter didn’t really grab me. Right after the show, I drove back to pick up Richard, and then it was off to an outstanding dinner at New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro, where we met up with everyone. This place is one of a kind and not to be missed. I swear, I have never eaten better than at Sammy’s. The chef always comes up with new, seasonal menus, infused with her own unique flair. Every course was exquisite. One diner is vegan and all he had to say was for the chef to prepare whatever she thought would be good. It was all a hit. Just wow. That evening, we saw “Manahatta” with Rita & Mo. This one was great. It is a world premiere, personal story, about how new and old worlds collide with native american culture. It was fascinating, and moving, and depressing, all at once. That’s the kind of theatre I love.

IMG_1376Thursday I jumped in the lake for a nice paddle and Richard went for a ride in the afternoon. We knew the weather was going to turn to rain by that night, so this was our chance to get in some outdoorsy activities. Thursday evening, we met up with Caz & Steve for dinner at the Cabaret, my old home turf, followed by an energetic and seriously impressive performance of “Million Dollar Quartet.” Don’t bother trying to get tickets because the run is sold out. And deservedly so. All of the performances, including: Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash, were outstanding.

IMG_1141Friday it rained off and on all day. I mostly cocooned inside, but did venture out for lunch and a stroll around historic Jacksonville. There, we met up with Caz & Steve, and we did some nice window shopping. That night we had the pleasure of seeing “Henry V.” Last season, we got to see both Henry IVs, parts 1 & 2, back to back, as matinee and evening performances by the same cast, and in the same intimate space in the Thomas Theatre. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to see these plays again. This was the epitome of the Ashland Shakespeare experience. I can’t say enough about Daniel José Molina’s Henry. He is simply outstanding and I put his performance (extended across all three plays) alongside some of the all time OSF highlights. And if you know the place, you know that is saying quite a lot.

Coming off the high of seeing such exhilarating theatre, we returned to Dory around 11pm to find the weather had turned quite nasty. The rain was now coming down sideways as the wind whipped off the lake and right into Dory’s starboard side. Because of the way I had positioned her (“you and your damn views”), she was getting buffeted severely by the wind. We scurried from the car, holding doors firmly, lest they get blown out of our grasp. Once inside, I kind of panicked because of how much she was rocking. There was a pause as Richard and I wrestled with whether to try to do something about this, or hope for the best and try to go to sleep. Knowing there was no way I was going to be able to sleep, team Do Something won. We went full pirate mode at this point as we headed out into the blasting rain. We had to yell to each other and hold onto things like stabilizer blocks, so they wouldn’t blow away. First, we engaged the Caravan Mover rollers before taking up all stabilizers. Then we had to get her off the Anderson Leveler before we could spin her so that her nose was pointed into the wind. Then we re-leveled and re-stabilized everything before letting the rollers back out. This whole time, we were conscious of the fact that if we screwed up any one of these steps, there was at least a small chance that she could end up in the lake. Once we were very, very sure we had done everything right, we clambered back inside, quite wet and wind blown. But guess what. The maneuver totally worked. The same brilliantly engineered aerodynamics that make towing Dory such a breeze, also serve to minimize the impact of serious weather. As long as she’s facing the right way. We slept well that night and woke to find a rainbow and a forgotten light left on. All things considered, that was the best thing we could have forgotten.



Thank you again, Ashland, for such a wonderful vacation! We’ll be back I’m sure, and next time we’ll bring a fifty foot dining room table.

Total miles (from Colusa): 253.6, 14.5 mpg, 4 hours 57 min. Site: RV 21. So awesome it made me feel awkward. There are no bad sites at this place, though the ones on the lower level offer an unobstructed view of the lake. Full hookups, including sewer, plus solar. Nice bathrooms, strong cell service for both ATT & Verizon.


Colusa-Sacramento River SRA (2)

IMG_1339This was our second visit to Colusa. It’s funny how much your perception can change based on circumstances. The first time we were here, it seemed a funny little place with not much to do. At that time, it was in the heart of the drought and it was hot and we were there for the weekend. This time around, it was the absolute perfect stopover, breaking up the long drive up to Ashland.

We came from Monterey and had already gone a little over a hundred miles on the day before heading north from home. We had thought to stop at a little private RV park on the 505 where I saw my first ever Alto in person. That felt like a nice act of closure going there with our own Alto. But on arrival, we learned it would be $68 for a site for the night, and it’s not like the place was anything great. I wasn’t tired yet, so we pushed on.

IMG_1338We arrived at Colusa around 5pm and were greeted by the camp host, who said we could just pull in to whatever place we liked for $15. Deal! It wasn’t full and we’ve heard it doesn’t ever fill up. There are a couple of sites with hookups, but we didn’t need it. It’s safe, cheap, never full, and there’s a dump. Pull the privacy curtains and fire up the rear screen projector. Perfecto!

Total miles (from Monterey): 215.9, 15.2 mpg, 4 hours 56 min.