Doran Beach

IMG_5412Well. My goodness, that was certainly a weekend!

This weekend was all about the beach, and what a fantastic beach it was! We had reservations for Doran Beach State Park in Bodega Bay, which apparently, was quite a lucky piece of timing. IMG_5428We got one of the nicest sites in the whole place and it was very full with campers who’d booked a year in advance. In fact, there was some kind of crabbing event happening and most of the people in our loop were from the same group. I must have timed the booking perfectly when someone cancelled. No complaints here. It was a beautiful weekend!

The change to Daylight Savings Time really bites you if you’re trying to get somewhere before dark. And if you recall from my last post, I do not like towing in the dark. However, it is much easier said than done to depart quickly at the end of the day if you work in education. I did pretty well though and Richard had gotten most everything ready by the time I got home. I think we were rolling by 3:30, so pretty good. We took an inland route and avoided bridges to head to the coast and it was a truly beautiful drive the whole way. We hit sunset at 5:02 and enjoyed a lovely colorful horizon, stress free, for the next half hour. I must say, I really didn’t even mind when it turned dark. The difference here was that I was on a nice, quiet 2 lane road with a  reasonable speed limit. Last time I hit darkness it was after five hours of driving and it was at the point where I had to navigate 4 to 6 lanes of fast moving highway with lots of merging and lane changes. Slow and straightforward was just fine with me.

IMG_5314We pulled in around 6 and it was fairly dark, but I got these little pop up LED lanterns to help with unhitching and our set up really does go fast. We even used the caravan mover to spin Dory so that we’d have the optimal view out the windows in the morning. Our site was right up against the cove water on one side and had bushes between the sites so there was nice privacy. After set up, we snuggled inside and watched the stars and the reflection of lights off the water. That was giddy time. We are still able to spill into giggle zone with Dory happiness and this was one of those moments. I just love being inside all warm with a view of the stars.

IMG_5410This weekend we got to try boon docking again, but this time with actual sun. Obviously, because we arrived after dark, we weren’t going to know how things would go, plus, we used the caravan mover just a little to set up, so we conserved at night. Richard still took a shower of course, and we did run the fan on low, so mostly what I mean by conserved is we kept the lights off.

IMG_5411In the morning, we were greeted by a glorious view of water just peeking through the Manzanita. In fact, from our site there was a little path right down to the sandy beach. We had coffee and a little stroll first thing. There is a Coast Guard station right in the cove so there were some impressive boats to look at, as well as all the recreational boaters on the water. Lots of birds to look at, though none attacked me. This is, after all, the location of the filming of “The Birds”, so one has to be careful.

IMG_5439Richard got ready for a bike ride and I showered, messed around a little, and got on my bike and just toodled around a bit. It was a glorious beach day. I made it (not very far) to a lunch place called the Fishetarian and had fish and chips and an IPA. Richard eventually texted me and met me there. He had the fish tacos and we shared a cup of corn and clam chowder. Yum!! IMG_5443

We rode slowly back to the campsite and got in another lounge before meeting up with a prospective buyer. I’d gotten a call Friday from my Canadian boyfriend, Denis, who had a person interested in seeing an Alto coming up to the Bay Area for the weekend and he put me in touch with her. She showed up right around three with her grandson and got the full tour. And actually, a couple of other interested people in the campsite joined in. She seems like the perfect fit for Alto life so it’s always nice to give people a chance to really see one in person before putting down a big chunk of money.

IMG_5456After the tour, we had a classically perfect, romantic walk on the beach at sunset. We found lots of little crab shells and some interesting sand sculptures and generally got to bask in California November. We were still cold mind you, because we are weather wimps, and it was at least below 70. May have even been as low as 50. I can’t be sure.

Plan A for dinner was steak and veg on the grill, but we once again froze our meat. Richard promises to remember not to put freezable things under the freezer when it’s set to 3 1/2. Plan B was fine with me though because it involved driving to a nice restaurant where there would be no dishes to do after dinner. In fact, we found a very nice restaurant called Terrapin Creek Cafe and Restaurant, but they were booked for a private party. Plan C was some Mexican restaurant that was just fine thank you. We will have to make a point of going back and checking out Terrapin Creek though. Looked expensive, but nice.

IMG_5433So for a little solar information, (don’t worry, it’s only this paragraph). Suffice to say we did just fine given the happy rays of the sun unobstructed by tree cover. We woke up with 71% battery capacity on Saturday morning, but the solar panels were already starting to charge it back up. We saw an average of 3-5 amps going in, which mostly offset any fridge draw. The only time it went negative was when one of us was showering and the fan was on high and the fridge was running. Otherwise, we were charging! By the time we got back from the bike ride around 3, it was back up to 92%. So that told us we could live it up and turn on lights. Woo hoo! Going to bed Saturday night, we were down (after shower and post sunset general use) to 87%, and woke up Sunday with 73%. With an overcast sky, we saw 1-2 amps going in, but that was only in the morning. We could see it was getting stronger as the sun was moving overhead. On pull out, we had used 42 total Amp Hours for two nights. I think, even overcast, we’d still be ok. All of this is to say, we will be back for this site in the future.

Sunday, we woke up to a bit of rain. In fact, I looked at the weather app the night before and it showed a “Severe Weather Alert” for Northern CA. I chuckled a bit reading it because really, what it was saying was that there was going to be some moisture on the roads and this is something Californians are perhaps not used to dealing with. From our location, it was not much of a rain and the clouds had pretty much cleared by 10. We reluctantly headed out, gave a few tours to interested passers by, dumped grey and black tanks, and hit the road. Home by 2ish.

IMG_5464This is where it gets interesting. We were going through normal maneuvers to get her up the driveway when the right side rotor on the Caravan Mover started acting funny. It would sort of peter out a little, then start back up, then stop. We already had her past the ramp at the bottom and maybe half way up the incline when it just stopped turning altogether. We could even smell a burned odor coming from the motor box. Ruh roh.

What we mostly did for the next hour was try hard not to panic. IMG_5467See, we really have no way to get the trailer up the driveway without the CM and it’s not like we have the expertise to do anything more than turn it off and then back on again. So we did that. We turned it off and left it for a good hour to “cool down”, but in the meantime we called Randy, the guy who leveled her a few weeks back and who we just knew was going to be our bestest, bestest friend. He is now way more than our BFF because he not only called us back on a Sunday after just returning from a trip himself, but he actually came out to our house. We love Randy very much. In fact, if any of you want an awesome trailer guy, here’s his website: And anyone else who thought they were my BFF, you’re not. Randy is. Sorry, that’s how it is now.

This is the inside of a (broken) Caravan Mover

He took the cover off the motor box and did some testing to see if power was coming to it, which it was. And he definitely does have the expertise to be able to say “Yep, that’s broken.” and we know that it is true. So he came prepared with a winch and an idea of how to use our dog door to get her into the garage. IMG_5472He actually wasn’t phased by this situation at all. To us, we saw a 2,000 lb trailer precariously teetering in the middle of a steeply graded driveway. To Randy, he was like “What? This tiny thing? This paved driveway? Pppfffft! No problem, stand back.” So he proceeded to save our butts with an ingenious rigging and didn’t even laugh at me that I had tied the frame to a tree in case it slipped off the plastic chocks. Once he got the winch going, we retracted the rollers of the CM and walked behind Dory in slow motion with serious rubber chocks, one of us following each wheel. Randy and his pal got her up the slope and into the garage in no time with no problems. We hugged them and gave them pizza and root beer. Boy, am I ever glad we met this guy!IMG_5470

We will sort this out later and get a replacement installed I suppose, but I also think it is very likely we will be installing a winch on the floor of the garage as a back up plan. Or even as a way to spare the CM having to do the whole job. All that matters is that she’s safe in the garage and didn’t end up in our neighbors’ living room.

IMG_5473So yes, eventful weekend! I’d give the site we had at this campground a 10. There were others not along the cove side that wouldn’t be as nice, but it would still be a stone’s throw from a very beautiful beach. We may be staying in for a few weeks until we get this sorted out, but overall, we’re just happy she’s safe inside. Tomorrow is supposed to actually bring rain to California and I’m much happier knowing I won’t be going to work in the morning with a trailer sitting in my driveway.

Total miles: 83.4, Engine time: 2 hours, 47 min, 15.9 mpg

Site: 76, super awesome. Also 70 and 75 would be awesome. Basically any of the sites right by the cove are nice and many have little paths that go down to the water. The ones along the road would not be private at all.

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11 thoughts on “Doran Beach

  1. Ingenious rigging, I don’t know how he rigged it on the other side, but I would not trust the door molding to hold that kind of load on a regular basis.. Hopefully he ran a beam across the frame on the inside, and rigged to that..
    It looks like it’s rigged 2:1, which doubles the load on the door/frame.
    I’m sure that the shackle added quite a bit of drag on the winch as well..

    1. He put a 4×4 on the back side of the door that did use the whole frame. We certainly don’t want to do that on a regular basis but it worked perfectly this time!

  2. Wow, quite the adventure…and after you got home! Great you have an RV guy. With your driveway, a plan B winch might be a good idea.

  3. Oh yeah, I should add that Randy has a sense of humor. When he arrived on the scene, the first thing he said to us was, “You know you’re supposed to level these things right?” Funny guy.

  4. Love your website!

    I went to Canamrv in London, Ontario this summer to see the Altos. They’re even better than I had imagined from photos. My only question is: is there anything that a woman can’t do that needs to be done with an Alto?

    1. Thank you!! I would say there’s nothing that can’t be done by a woman since I was essentially on my own for a good part of the maiden voyage. Hitching and unhitching just take some getting used to. Totally doable though unless you have injuries or physical limitations.

      1. Fantastic! Thanks so much, Alissa.

        I have another question about the Facebook page for Alto owners. Do you know anything about that? I’m not a Facebook-er and don’t have a clue about getting added to the list.

        Thanks again for your perspective on a woman handling an Alto by herself.

      2. Why yes I do! I started the group and moderate it. If you decide to join Facebook, you’d do a search for “Altoistes” and send a Join request. There are quite a few “non Facebook” people in that group I think. 😉 It sure is a great place for questions and information though!

      3. Alissa, I joined Facebook and I think I friended you, but I only seem to be able to search a name or email address. Typing Altoistes produces no results.

        I’m working on my list of accessories with John at Canamrv. Thanks. Barb (aka Annie on Facebook)


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