Putah Canyon (3)

Perfect location

Well this was a much better weekend. Having warm, summer-like weather certainly helped, but it also helped that the inside remodeling work died down a bit this past week. Less stress, no break downs, happy box.

There’s a guy in Altoistes who swears he could just back his Alto up our driveway with no problem. Every single time we get in or out, we think of him. Out loud.

We did get off to a rough start, so it is a testament to our capacity for problems that this didn’t result in a scene. We had trouble with the Caravan Movers at the bottom of our driveway and got stuck for a while. We often have to retract and engage the rollers (the metal spinny things behind the wheels) several times before the one on the driver’s side will seat properly. This time required three full sets of move-them-in, move-them-out before the yellow check mark showed that it was fully up against the wheel. That process requires patience because it takes a long time for them to move back and forth and complete their cycle. But then, the passenger side rotor would not spin at all. We could hear the click at the control box, indicating the signal was being received from the remote control, but nothing was happening at the rotor. We then tried moving the rotors out again to start over, but this time, the driver’s side one did not move out. So each one was not working, but in different ways. Puzzle.

After many cycles of turning things off and back on again, searching Altoistes, googling and watching videos, pressing buttons in a different order, and standing in different locations when pressing buttons, Richard was finally able to use a tool to manually back the driver side rotor off just a bit. That allowed us to disengage it. Winning! At least we could then use the winch to keep lowering her down. Now all we had to do was figure out how to use what we had to get her over the low spot between the rise of the driveway, the gutter, and the upward curve of the street. In addition to the aluminum ramps we have always used, we recently purchased (incredibly heavy) gutter guards to keep the non ramped wheel from sinking so low and going through runoff water. That sometimes makes the rotor slip against the tire, but the gutter guards solved that problem.

We jury rigged a way, using both sets of ramps and gutter guards, to winch her all the way straight down the driveway and not get wedged on the street. We thought that would enable us to bypass using the CMs completely. So, I don’t know if you have ever tried to push a 2,000 lb trailer any distance, but it turns out, once she was on level ground, it was actually impossible for us to shove her anywhere. I started trying to figure out if I could use the one working CM to do a 180º spin to at least get the hitch facing the street. Then I’d be able to grab her with the car.

Once we were in that zone, it became clear it was time to bug Randy. And wouldn’t you know, he is such an incredible mechanic, that just texting him fixed the problem before he even had a chance to answer. That’s how good he is. Or maybe it was Richard jiggling wires behind the rotors that did the trick. But I choose to believe it was the telekinetic effect of Randy thinking about Dory that prompted her to get in line and stop screwing around.

Set up with light to spare

Anyway, all systems were working so that we could spin her and get her hitched up. We were off, about an hour and a half later than we are usually rolling on a Friday, but we didn’t have too far to go, and the sun sets late enough now that we were going to make it before dark.

We have not been to this campground since the Shelter in Place happened, back on March 16, 2020. We were lucky enough to call this place our quarantine home for about two weeks, and it was a weird juxtaposition of natural beauty, eerily set against a background of global armageddon. But it was dear to us in a way no other place could be. We later watched in horror, as the fires of 2020 came roaring through. We saw video footage of the lake being engulfed by flames, and I had little hope that our personal sanctuary had made it. We drove out one day, to view the remains, and though the campground itself had been spared, the entirety of the landscape all around was nothing but a charred and barren wasteland. It was devastating to see, and probably why I could not bear to come back out for this long.

Life finding a way, in the shadow of standing ashes

Healing happens. Especially if you add a whole butt load of water. The drive out, through Suisun Valley and Wooden Valley, revealed a rebirth of green. Hillsides that were black, are now blanketed in new grass and wildflowers, while valleys flourished with rows and rows of grape vines, offering the promise of future wine. Little shrubs and baby trees are starting to grow. And Lake Berryessa itself is higher than it has been in a decade. Oh lord, that lifted my spirits! Yes, you can still see forests of standing dead trees, skinny and black against the skyline, but at their feet are flowers, and the reflection of blue skies on the surface of the swollen lake.

Morning view, with our old “58” across the water

I had tried to reserve the same site we occupied during the lockdown, but it seems all the campsite numbers have been changed since then. The camp host was kind enough to help us find a nicer site, since “58” is now off to the side and in a field. We set up in 98, which was actually a far better choice. It gave us views of our spot across the water, but also views of throngs and throngs of people partying in, around, and on the site I had tried to reserve. So the one that is now 122 could be lovely, but only in a global pandemic where there is no one else in the campground. Important asterisk there in a campsite review: “Only nice if all other people in the world have disappeared.”

Little bit choppy from all the motorized watercraft

We were both so tired Friday, we slept like the dead. Saturday’s plan included getting Richard out for a do-over bike ride and me getting my boat in the water. His ride went great and he is enjoying wearing dark sunglasses finally. He says that Pope Canyon, which was once apocalyptic, is now all green and looking MUCH better. My boating went fine, but it’s been a long time since I’ve set the thing up. There was a lot of rearranging that had to be done with the inner air chambers and then I had to walk it down to the boat launch. I gave myself workout calories for all that. Sheesh! I figured that had earned me a margarita with dinner.

Super fun to grill again!

And speaking of dinner, I finally got to pull out the grill. That too has been in stand by mode for quite some time. I had previously purchased a very nice carrying bag, with pockets for tools and such. I had forgotten about the little cast iron pot I put in there, but that came in super handy as a way to pickle a red onion while I was grilling steak and toasting bread for a panzanella salad. Delish.

Life finds a way…. even through remodeling.

All is well with the world this weekend and we don’t have any more reservations before we launch for the summer trip. I am super excited about all of the people I will get to see along the way this year! Thanks for bearing with me through the rough posts. This one is a plain old happy camper weekend entry. Oh, and the Caravan Movers magically worked flawlessly when we got home. Thanks Randy for using the Force to remote fix her. You should definitely charge extra for that.

Total miles: 67.8, 17.3 mpg, 2 hours 28 min. Site 98 (all the site numbers have changed). Nice shade and view of lake. Good cell service. Pretty good dump, but you can’t get too close.

2 thoughts on “Putah Canyon (3)

  1. Boy, you two can hang tough. Just reading about your adventure in the driveway tired me out. Thanks for sharing the lovely adventure. Dee

    1. We are probably at the point where we’re so tired from problems we have to just roll with it. Takes energy to be upset. 😂

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