IMG_5198Now the real test begins. Things are starting to crank up at work for both of us. This weekend proved to be a good indicator of whether what I pictured for weekend trips was realistic.

Again we did the Friday afternoon departure and I brought my laptop and some files along with the weekend groceries. We pulled out around 4 and headed north, up the 505, in the general direction of Yuba City. This park came to us as a recommendation from an Altoiste as a nice local park, nothing spectacular, but a nice getaway. Backing up just a little: I had made online reservations for a place up the coast several weeks ago, but had never gotten a confirmation. A finally returned phone call a few days before the weekend confirmed that actually, the place was closed for the season. So Colusa Sacramento River State Recreation Area became a quick Plan B. Tiny park, but “we never fill up” sounded good enough to us.

When we pulled in, the sun was setting and I was tired. Exhausted in fact. The drive ended up being about three hours and I hadn’t really unwound from the stress of the week yet. I was worried about that. Upon arrival, the first thing we noticed was that the site we had reserved was taken by someone else. We circled again, thinking maybe we’d made a mistake, but as there were only nine sites in total, it didn’t take long to do the double checking. For a while we just sat there in between sites and went from checking out what services there were in the couple of empty sites, to scoping out just how settled in the people in site 6 looked. What I didn’t want to deal with was setting up in a empty site only to have some angry people knock on our door late at night. Then a guy came up to us who had a tale to tell about mixed up reservations and double booking that had apparently happened to him that day. So, a quick decision was made and I backed into site 8 because it had electricity, if not a lovely view (it was right next to the bathroom).

We unhitched, set up, and got dinner going. This would have been a great night for something microwaveable. I was still tired and the deep breath and “Ah” had not yet occurred. Really, it wasn’t until we were sitting down inside with the privacy curtains closed, a plate of fresh ravioli with parmesan, and a beer in hand that I started to feel the tension slip away. Up until now, this has happened almost immediately upon pulling down our street. But it did happen. Dory has that kind of relaxation power.

IMG_5197We both slept well Friday and woke up Saturday with cinnamon rolls and an interesting spectacle happening outside our windows. There was a big RV and a fifth wheel camped next to and across from us and the guys, one of whom was the one we spoke to the night before, were very busy erecting huge towers of what looked to be antennas. At first I thought, “Wow, that’s a LOT of trouble to go to just to get TV reception.” But there were three towers, accessible only by 20′ extension ladders, with lines being run through the trees and way up high from one tower to the other. There is really nothing on TV of such high quality that this would make any sense.

IMG_5196So Richard went out after coffee and chatted with them. Turns out, they are HAM radio guys and there was a big, world wide, check in happening and they were there to set up a station for Colusa county so that anyone anywhere in the world who was participating would be able to connect to each of the 58 counties in California. Pretty fascinating guy actually. He came over and chatted with me later and checked out Dory. He’s been through all kinds of interesting in his life and is “between jobs” after having scored big during the dot com bubble ages ago. IMG_5195One other guy was a PhD from Lawrence Berkeley Labs and one was a high level plant manager at some huge company. All self described “Type A+” super nerdy, hyper intelligent, guys with serious time and money on their hands. So here they were erecting giant towers so other nerdy, international, HAM radio people could put a check in the box for Colusa County. We liked him. And I think he was impressed that we were able to introduce ourselves with our HAM radio call signs. KE6SAI and KE6RQD, by the way. I learned a lot about solar flares and high frequency wavelengths I’ll tell ya.

Richard had intended to go for a bike ride and had scoped out a route. Unfortunately, when he went to get his bike ready, the saddle broke. Sad Sweetie. But he was very flexible and instead worked on setting up his tires the way he wants them for short little rides and he even put my ladies squishy saddle on his bike for a quick spin around the immediate area.

IMG_5185As for me, I spent some time setting up our awning with the Front Wall attachment. I’d sent it back to Pahaque to retrofit the attach points in order to make it hang better. I also asked them to see if they could make putting the pole into the grommets easier and they definitely came through. There are now straps to adjust the vertical tension and I think this is going to work far better. We had to go through a fair bit of wrestling with the pole last time. Hammers may have been involved. It’s a very nice set up and exactly what I was hoping for in a little private side room. So that’s where I spent much of the day, alternating between getting work done and chatting with interesting neighbors.

IMG_5194There was another couple who came over to look at Dory and they happily invited us over to see their homemade teardrop. The guy who built it had never done anything like this, but is a professional cabinet maker. The workmanship definitely showed. IMG_5192It was absolutely beautiful inside and they were both justifiably proud. They showed us clever little tricks like mounting tool boxes outside by the doors for shoes and sewing quilted curtains to keep the heat in during the winter. They were just passing through the park for a quick lunch and gave us some good recommendations for future parks to check out. Nice people.

Right about dinner time, a huge wind started picking up and I got to try putting the side flaps down on the awning as wind breakers. Wind breaking ability: check. Because of the added shelter, we got to enjoy a nice grilled dinner outside despite the bluster. IMG_5204After dinner however, we checked the weather to see if this was something to be concerned about. Seeing as how this is still California, the sudden departure from perfectly calm and sunny showed up on the weather app as a “Severe Weather Alert”. We didn’t want to risk it, and we took down the awning and put everything back in the car. It never really did get that bad, but there were several drops of water that fell from the sky, so I can understand the urgency of the weather app’s warning message. Again: California.

IMG_5205Sunday I opted for the indoor kitchen to make pancakes, eggs and sausage for breakfast and we lazed about and slowly packed up until around noon. On our way home, we made a house call to a fellow Altoiste who had placed an order but was in the waiting queue for a 1723 (shower model) and wanted to see a few things. It’s a narrow subset of people who can jump right into a conversation about US/Canadian border crossings, One Trip Permits from the CA DMV, and foam mattress toppers as their first conversation.

IMG_5201I think we learned this weekend that yes, we can take work with us (at least I can) and not have it ruin the weekend. Yes, we can unwind and detach and yes, it does help to get out and away from home, but it may take a few hours, especially after a hectic week. All in all, it’s better to be typing in a nice park and it’s nice to take breaks and meet interesting people or go for little bike rides or walk around somewhere new. Just being in Dory is still a thrill and she feels like a safe zone, even if there is cell service and wifi.

Total miles: 108.4, Engine time: 3 hours, 13 min, MPG: 15.2 (interesting, we got 17.9 on the way home; we brought water with us, so the discrepancy is either the result of a full water tank vs empty, or we had more significant headwinds than it seemed to me while driving)

Site: 6, but then 8. Future sites: 9 or 5

FYI, he’s standing on a stool here and still had to really stretch. There’s a lot of head room under the awning.

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