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.

3 thoughts on “Pinnacles (2)

  1. Okay, my time to ‘fess up is long overdue, I’ve been following your posts with great interest and appreciation, ever since finding a link on the Altoistes facebook page.

    The short(er) story is that last July my wife and I ordered an Alto 1723, with expected delivery this November. We anticipate finalizing the order within the next several weeks, through the Alto dealer in Abbotsford, BC (we live in the Seattle area). If you are willing, I’d like your advice regarding what options you have found are worth (and not worth) adding to the order.

    The options we are planning so far are: blue exterior (a must), front window, heat pump/AC, solar panels, bike rack, awning, and electric fold down back cushion (recommended by the dealer), and weight distribution/anti-sway hitch.

    Things we’re considering are the compressor fridge (instead of the LP/electric), TV mount and wiring for cable, and and extra 12V outlet near the bed, for my CPAP machine. We’re not sure yet how we’ll manage evening entertainment (videos)- on a laptop, or TV/DVD, but thought that having the TV mount would be harder to install after the fact, in case we end up wanting it.

    I don’t think we’ll need a caravan mover, so we’ll hold off on that for now. I’m reasonably handy, so plan on adding things like a Trimetric monitor, rearview camera, and who knows what else, as we progress. While I admire the passion, I don’t foresee a need for a 12V espresso system!

    Of note, we are on the verge of retiring, and within the next several months planning to relocate from Seattle to northern California. Our son and daughter in law (and 2 grandkids!) live in Mountain View, and our daughter and son in law (currently in SF) plan on moving to Sacramento in the next couple of years. Our plan is to find a place somewhere between (probably closer to Sacramento, for affordability). All this is a prologue to what you would otherwise consider really creepy: by triangulating your outings miles, I conclude that you live somewhere in the East Bay/Alameda County region.

    As such, you are familiar with how the Alto behaves in that climate. As an example, before we decided to move from Seattle, I hadn’t considered adding solar panels, given the climate and tree cover here. So, I’d really appreciate any advice you can give on Alto needs for your region. As far as activities, we plan mostly on exploring campgrounds in the area, for 2-3 days at a time, i.e. maybe some light duty boondocking. We’re hoping to do hiking and light biking (no 100 mile rides for me!), and haven’t considered kayaking (yet!). So, in addition to the Alto-specific features of your blogs, I appreciate the reviews of campgrounds and specific campsites in your blogs. We figure we’ll do some more long distance trips, as well, once we’re more familiar with the Alto.

    Thanks for bearing with my rambling. It’s been almost 11 months since we place our Alto order, and still have 5 to go. I really think that give the gestation of an Alto, their mascot should be an elephant, not a snail! I’m sure it will be worth the wait, though.

    1. Hahaha! Oh man, that was the best blog comment ever! I’m not sure if you wanted me to publish or keep this private. I’m fine either way.

      As for options, I think you have things pretty well covered. I believe solar panels are a must, even if you think you won’t do much boondocking. You just don’t want to limit yourself and it would be difficult to install later. The camera has given us some trouble, but I might recommend getting it anyway, only because it involves wiring and going through the back wall. I’d want SC doing any of the things that involve drilling holes in exterior walls. Depends how handy you are and whether you’d feel fine doing that if you later want one. It is not a huge necessity for us (which is good since it hasn’t worked for a while). The CM is nice, but if you can back a trailer and don’t have a tricky storage situation, I think you could do without. Good point about the TV mount. We use my iPad with downloaded shows, but the screen is rather small. Just know you’ll need to watch the battery if you’re running the TV while boondocking. All things considered, we would get the 12v fridge again. Just know that it is the biggest battery drain, so you’ll need to be conscious of turning it down (or off) at night if the battery is running low. We’ve found a comfortable time limit without much solar to replenish the battery is about three days.

      Yes indeed! We are in the East Bay, Lafayette specifically, so you’ll be exploring many of the same places we go. California is an awfully nice playground. 🙂 It does get hot here in the summer, so we’ve learned to either get places with hookups to run the AC, or we go to the coast. Happily, it doesn’t get all that cold, so we can and do camp year round.

      Nice to have a new future neighbor! 🙂

  2. Wow! Thanks for the wonderful, prompt reply. I’m thinking maybe I can mount the camera on the rear bumper and run wiring along the underside, to avoid piercing the wall. BTW, in the “biting the hand that feeds you” category, if we cross paths and Tricia and I happen to snag one of your best sites, we’ll happily and gratefully relinquish it. We’re really looking forward to enjoying the California playground, Keep the posts coming! You really are a talented writer, and I appreciate the blog.
    Thanks, John

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