Caswell Memorial State Park

img_7018This was a last minute plan. Most of the reservations I make are secured up to six months in advance. I try to make sure we always have at least two weekends out per month. And then, when non camping weekends come along when we don’t really have anything pressing or fun to do at home, we sort of panic and look for anywhere driving distance that has availability. This place worked under those conditions and ended up actually being quite pleasant.

Friday we left a little after 3. We are definitely finding the winch system to be a fast and easy way to get up and down the driveway. The campground is just a short drive over the hills and is situated along the Stanislaus River in the central valley. If it were summer, the temperatures would likely be way too hot for no air conditioning. But it was a lovely, temperate weekend, and no hookups suited us just fine.

img_7021Richard has dialed in a great chicken and rice recipe using the Shuttle Chef and this time he added Shiitake mushrooms for extra fanciness. Saturday breakfast was going to be an experiment with english muffins, eggs, and cheese. I learned two things. “Toasting” the english muffins using butter in a pan creates a lot of smoke. Also, there was no toasting happening. It was more like warming up the muffins in rapidly over heating butter. So I abandoned them pretty quickly and switched to cooking the scrambled eggs. We had forgotten the sliced cheddar, but did have extra sharp cheddar and a cheese grater. Having tested the sharpness of the grater, I can attest to its razor like quality, even on fingernails. Hmmm…. “I see what you were trying to achieve with this dish, chef, but it didn’t really work for me.” Sunday breakfast was cereal and that went off without a hitch.

img_7027Saturday we pretty much lazed around all day. I did write the requisite report and that took a couple of hours, so we weren’t completely useless. But I also spent a long part of the day in my chair throne watching people float down the river in front of me. Our site had viewing access to the river and apparently the thing to do at this park is to bring inflatable floaty things and meander with the current. Every so often, clumps of people (pods? schools? what would a group of floating humans be named?) appeared around the bend and slowly passed by. I swear I saw a bathing suit clad version of Jon Snow drift past me on a blue and white inner tube. He did not look like he was concerned about winter coming at all.

img_7025We did a bit of tinkering over the weekend, including taking off the cover to the propane heater area so we could assess what would be involved in putting in a 12v USB plug over on that side. I would very much like to charge my iPhone at night and the trailer is way too huge for me to have to use the outlet all the way up front in the dining room. We also putzed around with the rear view camera because it has been acting up lately. I do rely on it quite a bit when I’m backing into a site. Even when Richard is guiding me, it’s nice to be able to see behind Dory, like so I don’t run over him, for example. It was quite hot to the touch so we are suspecting something might be amiss. Richard will be making some phone calls to the manufacturer to see what we can see.

img_7034All in all, this was a nice weekend place close by with a water feature and some nicely spaced sites. There were no hookups and too much shade for extended stays. There was also no dump station so we had to use a truck stop on the way home. Richard felt most of the sites were pretty unlevel and we did have to jack up the tongue quite a bit. Oh yes, and we used a new kind of side leveler for the first time – a BAL leveler. That worked nicely and if I were setting up on my own, I think it would be easier to use than the Anderson leveler because you don’t have to drive onto it. It also appears that it would be able to raise the side a bit more than the Anderson. Downside is that you have to do the cranking. Nice place, nice relaxing weekend.

Total miles: 69.2, 18.3 mpg, 2 hours 25 min. Site 35 – pretty nice though clearly intended as a tent site. The camping area is set back a ways from the parking slot and it’s short, but fit Dory fine. Other potentially nice sites: 42, 5, 45, 17 (river view), 23, 32. Sites are non specific reservations so it’s take what you can when you get there. Great cell service for both.


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