Anthony Chabot (6)

Sunset through the Eucalyptus

Nice lazy weekend in our backyard regional park. This marks just the sixth time we have to come to this campground, despite its proximity and pleasant, Eucalyptus vibe. This sites are nicely spaced, some have full hookups, and there is good cell service in the park. And it is under an hour from home.

Richard likes to ride from home when we stay here, but his return trip was thwarted by some much needed and very welcome rain. It wasn’t a deluge, which is a good thing, just enough to quell some fires and dampen the tinder.

The reservoir is still pretty full

We did get in a hike down to Lake Chabot on Saturday and that was very nice. It is super steep to hike from the campground down to lake level. I must admit, I have noticed that going uphill has become significantly less complain worthy over the last few months. It helps to have taken off the equivalent weight of a crazily over-packed backpack. My calorie counting app used to tell me how much I had lost as I hit little milestones, like, “You’ve lost a bowling ball!” or “That’s the weight of two cats!” It stopped doing that and I would kind of like to know the pounds-to-cats conversion of how much I’ve lost actually. But at least I know that inclines do not piss me off as much.

Beautiful view while listening to the steady pitter patter

Rain in Dory is a delight. We lazed around inside for so long on Sunday, that we were pushing the noontime checkout. It is just way too delicious to be under the covers, heater running, listening to rain on the roof.

Maybe just use the Caravan Mover

Next time we come, we will have to try one of the non hookup sites overlooking the lake. We don’t know why this site’s electrical pole trips (this is now the second time that has happened), but at least we know we don’t really need hookups for a weekend. And the electric sites are very tricky to back into. There is this steep drop off from the pavement to loose dirt right at the place your tow vehicle needs to make a sharp turn. So the front wheel goes off and then spins against the edge before coming back up. I watched another trailer back in, to see if they had a maneuver I was missing, but it happened to them too.

Rent-a-Goats doing some organized mowing

The only downside with camping so close to home is that we get back really early. Then I don’t know what to do with myself. I was eventually able to put the time to good use and identified a whole lot of barely used camping items in the garage that we will be giving away at our Alto rally in a couple of weeks. Looking forward to that!

Yay California! Hope we get some more moisture. But not too much.

Total miles: 14.1, 12.2 mpg (all uphill), 54 min. Site 9. Hookups, but pole tripped again, so no electric. Site dump was good though. Excellent cell. Bit o’ solar.

Bodega Dunes (8)

Always a great place to come

Hooooweeee that was one hot week in the west. We suffered triple digits, peaking around 110º, pretty much the entire week, and it didn’t break until late Friday afternoon. The cool temperatures on the coast were most welcome at that point. I have been trying to get back in the habit of walking to work, since it is only about a mile, but that was definitely off the table.

Healing dose of coastal sunset

We unhitched, and Richard hopped over to ‘our place,’ La Bodeguita, to get dinner to take over to catch the sunset. There was a nice robust orangey glow before the sun sank behind a sunset blocking cloud bank. It was chilly enough for our fuzzies, which we welcomed with enthusiasm.

Perfect weather

Saturday we got in a hike over the dunes to catch me up on weekly steps. Weather reports called for cloudy skies all day, but the sun peeked out right as we arrived at the beach. It was nice to open the weather app without being greeted by another Extreme Heat Alert.

Nice chilly wet sand between the toes

There were lots of people on the beach, but not as many as I would have thought, given the collective melting we’d all just endured. Coming back through the campground, we spotted a coordinated group of flamingo enthusiasts, spread across five different campsites. Chatting with one of the campers, we learned that the group happened upon the theme, and it has become something of a competition. We nodded to the site that is clearly winning, and the camper noted how that couple was “late to the party,” but had taken it on full throttle, like they do “everything in life.” We found that funny, and the underlying tone of scorn was not lost on us. What would that be like, I wonder, to be out flamingoed by the newbies? And at what point would you draw the line on competitive pink purchases? When does it cross over into flipping the pink fluffy bird? So many questions…

At my school, we use flamingos to represent the character trait of optimism, so I took note of some items I may need to purchase for us. It will be impossible to top my principal’s stuffed flamingo hat, however. Good thing I’m not in a competition.

Impressive commitment to a theme

In the afternoon, we welcomed a local Altoistes couple for a tour. It has been a long time since we’ve given an Alto tour. It felt good, and very post-pandemic. I don’t know what my stance is anymore on anything Covid related. Shrugged shoulders and keep on keeping on. But it’s nice to discuss Altos with interested people because it always reminds me how lucky we are, and how much life we have gotten from our little camper(s).

We love this campground, but we sure do wish the dump were more reliable. This is not the first time it has been closed, due to backing up. We now know that going just down the road to the private place, Bodega Bay RV, is a good option for $20.

Everyone needs a little rainbow colored flock of optimism now and then

Lovely weekend after a grueling week. I’ll channel the flamingo of optimism and choose to believe it will be a while before we get another heat dome like that.

Total miles: 80.9, 14.6 mpg (I was driving too fast), 2 hours 39 min. Site 66, nice and set apart from others. Dump out of service. Dumped at Bodega Bay RV for $20; worth it. No hookups, shady site. Great cell for both.

Clear Lake Campground

Buckling in for a three day bake.

Going out this weekend really seemed like a bad idea. We’ve got record breaking high temperatures happening all over the west this week, and the forecast called for triple digits around Clear Lake. But, we had hookups and the campground host confirmed a shady site. So we went for it.

Photo from five years back, looking across the water at the campground.

Friday we drove up via Highway 29, which is a twisty turny climb out of Napa Valley, but didn’t bother me. We arrived around six thirty and got to choose between two sites, both river front. We had never been to this campground before, and I will say first off that the hosts are very friendly and helpful. The sites are close, but not too close for comfort, and we had a nice little deck overlooking the water. Funny, the place seemed familiar, enough so that I looked back at pictures from the first time we came to the area, and found one I had taken while on a hike from the other side of the water. I remember the hike around Anderson Marsh Historic Park and vaguely remembered seeing a campground that looked nice. So I accidentally followed up on that five years later.

“Tasting? Oh, I just wanted some gifts…. What am I saying? I mean, YES!”

Despite the Labor Day weekend heat wave, we got in some outdoor recreation in the mid morning hours. Well, Richard did anyway. On Saturday I thought it would be fun to drive over to Chacewater Winery to pick up some nice gifts for my coworkers. It has been a rough and understaffed start to the school year, but I am extremely lucky to be working with a top notch team. And top notch people deserve top notch wine. I was only going to sample one or two, but accidentally proceeded with a full tasting session that covered eight different varieties. Not really accidental so much as that wasn’t what I had planned until I walked inside. I met a couple from Washington who were in town for a (very hot) wedding and we had a blast chatting and sampling. Eventually Richard showed up and figured out quickly that he was going to be a designated driver. I walked out very happy, carrying four bottles of future happiness for some exceptional educators.

Mmmmm, so good

Cooking was all planned for outdoor grilling and a couple of favorite recipes. The first was Grilled Steak and Panzanella Salad with tomatoes and Persian cucumbers. Sunday’s was Blueberry Mostarda Grilled Cheese and omg that was good. I used a grill pan to cook up a shallot, added blueberries, and then balsamic vinegar and maple syrup, cooked until it got thick. Then I stirred in Dijon mustard and spread the reduction on the bread before adding cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese. That one paired with a margarita; just the thing for a hot Labor Day grill fest.

Pretty, except for the green sludge

Sunday was a scorcher, with temps going as high at 106º. We planned to get out early so I could get my boat in the water and Richard could do a ride. Though there was some water in the little creek in the campground, I poo poo’ed it due to its dark greenish hue. It turns out the lake was not much better. I launched from the public boat launch and had to wade through a thick gunky muck of algae. I figured it would clear up after I got away from the shore, but it didn’t really. I started wondering if I was paddling through toxic blue green algae, which made me think about capsizing. I think there might be some residual trauma from that river swim…. In any case, it was cooler on the water and I paddled around for a while until Richard arrived.

When shopping for kayak wheels and there is a model in blue, named “Nemo Extremo,” I no longer have any choice.

I was very pleased with a newly purchased dry bag to carry the Nemo Extremo kayak wheels. I’m kind of a complainy pill when I set up the boat and one of the things that I gripe about is how hard it is to get the wheel pieces out of the deck bag. With this new bag, problem = solved. And it fits right behind my seat. It was worthwhile to get out there if only to confirm the viability of the new case.

Good thing he got in a ride early

We packed up around noon and the rest of the day’s plan was designated for AC ONLY environments. So we wandered the Walmart, restocked paper towels and propane for the grill, then we headed back to Dory. The AC was perfect in Dory, without any need for Aluminet, since she was already in the shade. When it was 94º outside, it was a cool 70º inside, and when it was over 100º, Dory still never broke 80º.

Lots of Blue Herons visited the creek

We spent the rest of the day with curtains closed, binge watching the final season of “Better Call Saul.” We decided it had gotten too tense to watch this thing before bed and we both sort of wanted to get through it. This is one of the best series I have ever seen, but wow. A little traumatizing too. We had much to talk about on the drive home, including things to look up from “Breaking Bad.” We need another series now that is LIGHT and FUNNY. I put on emergency stand up comedy after a particularly shocking episode. Jeez.

Nice place. Would come again.

We have a place booked on the western side of the lake for next year. Perhaps the algae is less bad up there. Also, we might be walking distance from the county fair, where apparently there is an annual boat race. On land. Where cars drag boats around a track with no trailers. It looks amazing, but we were in too deep on Saul to venture over. One thing is for sure: afternoon Dory cinema with popcorn and cold LaCroix is a damn fine way to spend a hot hot day.

Total miles: 98.7, 16.5 mpg, 3 hours 12 min taking 29. Site 24 full hookups, but used sewer in site across the way because the inlet was lower. Great cell service for both. Campground wifi meh. Boat launch & rentals, store, pool. Didn’t go in pool because too many people, but it looked nice.

Casini Ranch (7)

Site 2 is fabulous. A little shady cove of privacy in a crowded campground.

Nice boring weekend. Nothing exciting to report. No near death experiences or anything. I got my boat in the water and STAYED IN THE BOAT the entire time! There was even a teeny teeny tiny rapid, like a Class .5 level ripple in the water and I did not fall out. Perfectly peaceful day on the Russian River.

Take 2: This time with no Poseidon Adventures.

Richard went on a bike ride up to Occidental and tried some smaller tires on his new bike. He gives a thumbs up. After dinner, we went to the campground store and got It’s Its, the San Francisco treat, one classic vanilla and one mint. Mmmmmm. Then it was the usual shows projected on the big screen. We are in the final season of “Better Call Saul,” which is gripping and pretty tense. We both had bad dreams about being lost in the desert.

Got a new hat. There we go for big news.

Honestly, I could try to stretch this out, but I don’t have much to say. Which, after last weekend, is a very good thing.

Total miles: 93.1, 16.5 mpg, 3 hours 13 min. Site 2, hookups. Shady. Nice and private. Pretty good campground wifi from the site. Little to no cell service in the area. Waited an hour at the dump because went right after noon. Dump is ok. Timing is everything.

Coloma RV (8)

Riverside site with nonstop views of potential drowning victims.

This is our eighth time at this campground (not counting when I chaperoned 4th grade camp) and since it is right by the South Fork of the American River, the thing to do here is river stuff. Especially when it is really hot. We have held onto riverside site reservations, which means I have done a lot of staring at people floating down the river in various watercraft over the years.

A couple of years ago, it was over 100º and I decided to try floating down the river in an inflatable tube. I am not a risk taker by nature, and am a pretty solid control freak. So despite the pre-acquired beta saying everyone free floats this one section in those tubes, I remember being pretty nervous about it. But then again, tons of people, not wearing life jackets and armed only with beer, seemed to be surviving. There were so many people in the water, mostly just letting the current take them however it wanted, facing sideways or backwards, and they all seemed fine with that. I however, was constantly trying to paddle my way to at least be facing forward. There were three spots where the water got decently rapidsy, and two that were serious enough to throw a big wave of water completely over my head. The last was the worst. I came out of that with underarms covered in deep purple bruises from all the attempted paddling, but claimed it was super fun. I am now calling BS on myself. I think I more survived than enjoyed that, and my post-experience recollection was tainted by adrenaline.

Tubing fun. But was it really?

After that, I wondered whether the same thing could be done in my inflatable kayak. There is a much larger rapid just upriver from the campground, so many many people float by in those big professional rafts that carry six people. There are also lots of kayakers looking super serious with helmets and implied skill. And then there are the drunken floaties who put in AFTER the big rapid. I never saw anyone with my specific kind of kayak going down, so I didn’t know.

“This is a really good idea.” – Towlie

For this stay, weather predictions showed temperatures over a hundred and I knew I would be contemplating this again. I asked Richard if he could get some beta during the week from a local rafting place and see what he could find out. What he got back was in alignment with “everyone does this all the time every year” but stopped short of “she’ll be fine,” due to liability concerns. But it overall sounded reassuring, and the only advice offered was to go around 3pm because that is when the upstream water release will have calmed down a little.

Me: “I’m not sure this is a good idea!”

Richard: “What?”

So on Saturday afternoon, after Richard had gotten in a ride, and after Dory’s interior temperature had started to climb, despite AC and Aluminet, I was weighing getting in the water. After much thought, I decided to try it with my boat, just to stop myself from wondering. I also didn’t really like the lack of control and upright sitting positing in the floatie. I put in from the campground and will never ever do that again.

This is fine. Everything is fine.

It started well enough. Again, there were lots of people on the water, and after a little chop at the start, there were long stretches of calm, peaceful floating. I did very much prefer my boat at that point. I white knuckled my way through rapids 1 and 2 and did not get water splashed over my head, so I was winning.

Looking back on the first of the rapids. Doesn’t look too bad, right?

Then came the third, which Richard was told has a name; something like “Scary Rock.” To picture this spot (because I obviously wasn’t going to take pictures), imagine the river narrowing and dropping, while also turning rather sharply to the left. Then imagine a cluster of high rocks rising out of the river at the outside of that turn. I think when I did this in the tube, I bounced against the rocks, but then proceeded through the big waves after that and made it through with only a dousing. I could see the corner coming up and tried to kind of slow down to watch people go down it. Like to strategize my approach. Hahahaha. That was silly. I looked behind me to see a fleet of those professional rafting groups and figured I’d better just go before they got too close. Once I was in the chute, I had utterly no control over anything.

Ahead of me, there was a group of five or six floaties that were lashed together with ropes. They hit the rocks and got stuck there. Here I came, full throttle and straight at them. I could see the terrified face of a young girl, who was already upset and crying, as I approached. I attempted to thrust my paddle as hard as I could into the water, to hopefully steer and turn left to avoid them, and I flipped completely out of the boat.

The shock of hitting the very cold water was instant and I came back up trying to grasp my boat. It was upside down and I couldn’t immediately grab ahold of anything. My feet were also tangled in ropes, perhaps from my own paddle leash, or possibly the ropes tying the floaties together. At this point, the father of the family floatie group came to my rescue. He made eye contact with me and asked if I was ok. He helped flip my boat upright. He talked me down and talked me through just holding on as we started to move into the rapids together.

I was genuinely terrified and can only imagine the look on my face, which did not help calm down the girl. All I could do was hold onto the side as the fast moving current carried us along. The father and mother told me I was ok as I gasped with fear. The father coached me by saying to keep my feet high, and I was able to untangle them from the ropes. I managed, “Don’t let go!” and my saviors assured me they would not. Together we got through the rapids, and while I’m not sure how far that was, it may as well have been a mile. Could have been ten feet. I have no idea.

As the current began to slow, the mother and father kept talking to me saying it was getting calm now. They started paddling toward the shore and I got scared they were going to lose me. I didn’t realize the father had found my paddle and used the leash to tie my boat to theirs. Slowly, slowly, we made our way toward the shore until we could stand up and I figured at that point I might not die. Honestly, I don’t know how bad that really was. I just know I’m glad to have made it through. Maybe a hundred people a day flip there and are just fine. One would think if there were regular casualties on that corner, the rafting guy might have mentioned that to Richard on the phone.

I know this: I will forever be grateful to that couple. They may have saved my life and they certainly got me through a very difficult moment. Once on shore, I texted Richard and tried not to be too alarming, which didn’t work. He drove the car down river about three miles to find me, getting panicked and confused about where I was. But find me he did, and he helped me dump the water out of my boat and haul it up to the car. At that point, I cried.

In retrospect, there were many things that worked well for me in all of this. First off, people are mostly Good and will try to help other people in trouble. What a nice thing to be reminded of. Second, safety overkill has its moments. I never ever go out without my lifejacket, no matter how dorky it looks. On totally calm days and small lakes, I always wear my lifejacket. On the river, it is a legal requirement, but that didn’t stop a big percentage of floatie people from ignoring it. I also have ridiculous emergency gear stowed in the back of my boat seat, like an inflatable bag thingy that could theoretically be used with my paddle to help me get back into my boat, and a whistle, and flares. For when… I’m kayaking on the ocean at midnight and get lost? Unlikely, but I carry them every time. The flares maybe didn’t come in so handy, but that lifejacket maybe saved my life. Maybe.

Also, I honestly think having lost some pounds, and therefore having a smaller butt, really helped me out here. Before, I was pretty snug in that boat, keeping the maximum weight limit always in the back of my mind. Now I notice that there is more room to sit. When the boat flipped, it threw me out immediately. I wonder what it would have been like if that had not happened.

Safe on land. With wine. Trying not to think about it too hard.

In addition, I lost no gear. I am in the habit of clipping things onto the boat, in case I flip over. It is never my goal to capsize and it has only happened once, intentionally, when I took a beginner kayaking class. It was comforting at the time to see how hard it actually is to flip an inflatable boat. But still, I secure all things as a habit and that paid off. In fact, the only thing that was not secured was my water bottle because I forgot its holder in the campground and didn’t feel like going back for it when I launched. I found the bottle in the boat behind the seat and the only explanation I can think of is that the family grabbed it out of the water and put it there while we were floating. That would not have been a big loss, but still. I always put my car keys in a dry pouch in my life jacket pocket and I always keep my phone on a leash. Because things were unusually exciting, I decided to stow it inside my life jacket pocket too. I think that is the only reason it didn’t fry. And, I don’t always wear my old backup hearing aids when I go boating, but I did this time. I was fully underwater for a bit, and I’m surprised the old ones didn’t die, but also super happy they weren’t the really expensive new ones. Even my new hat stayed on my head because it has a pony tail hole and an elastic band.

Two other things that made a big difference: there was cell service to contact Richard, and the water was not as icy cold as it was the last time. It was already a shock going in, so I’m just glad it wasn’t worse.

Delicious dinners help too.

Back at Dory, there were a lot of wet things to dump out and a lot of time needed to defrazzle. I deeply regretted not bringing the margarita mix. Chilled wine was a fair consolation. By dinner time, things had cooled off a smidge (but when I say that, I mean like 100º instead of 103º) and we had created a shaded porch with some Aluminet that made it acceptable for cooking.

Surprisingly effective at temperature reduction

I slept very well that night and today my whole body is sore. That makes total sense. Thus ends any interest I ever had in rapids. If we do go back to this campground in the summer, I will be finding other things to do. On land. Good lord, what an experience.

Total miles: 116.3 (avoiding highways), 17.4 mpg, 3 hours 54 min. Site 70 hookups. Richard hates the dump at this place, but since Brannan Island is temporarily closed, he dealt with it. There is a high curb around the inlet that makes things annoying. Good service and campground wifi for a while, then it all dropped out to be slow. Not sure why.

Westside (4)

Nice site near the bay

Post summer reset back to normal life = achieved. Man, it is such a whiplash transitioning from summer to not summer. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I admit, it is a big shift.

Let’s just scoot forward a wee bit.

We skipped one weekend in order to wash ALL THE THINGS and we both felt we didn’t know how to trailer anymore as we were leaving on Friday. We made it safely to the campground with no incidents, but then did a super derpy thing. On initial set up, we were kind of far back in a pull through site. As big rigs continued to come in to the campground, we noticed they were passing kind of close to Dory’s butt. Right as Richard was about to start his shower, another came through too close for comfort, and we both decided it would be worth it to Caravan Mover just a couple feet forward.


There are some things you have to do before you can move, like raise the stabilizers and get off the leveling block(s). We did all that, engaged the CM, moved forward, and got ready to put the leveler under the driver’s side wheel. Did that, moved up onto the leveler, and saw that we were still a bit tippy. Well ok, let’s build a leveling tower with the orange blocks to get a little more height. Did that, moved up, still tippy. Now we were confused. Well dang, I guess move off of that, build a higher tower and try again. Done. Still same tippy. Now we were questioning our understanding of, not only how to park a trailer, but the basic laws of nature and physics. Well it turns out we had not moved the orange stabilizer blocks on the front passenger side far enough out of the way. We didn’t see that the passenger side wheel was going up onto those blocks at the same time we were moving the driver’s side wheel onto its leveling blocks. Hence the no change on the bubble levels. Wow. Wine time.


I was ready to come out of my fog Saturday morning, even if Bodega Bay was not. As I slowly had coffee and my morning shower, Richard went out and tested his new second wife. I am now referring to his bicycle as the “second wife,” but want to note for the record that he has multiple other wives hanging from hooks in the garage. Like, there are currently eight of them, but two are mine. He’s waited a long time for the right frame size to come back in stock and his first second wife has traveled many many miles, through all kinds of weather, mostly traveling outside on the bike rack. This second wife will live a cushier life now that we have dedicated space inside the car. But I have a butt warming and cooling seat, so I win there.

Gorgeous California Coast

When he returned, we went on a hike around Bodega Head and it was beautiful. I’m realizing that we came to this same campground last year as our first stop post summer. It is such a nice place to be reminded of how beautiful our home state is that I went ahead and reserved the same site for this time next year. There is great service and solar, and you can’t go wrong with Bodega Bay.

High end trailer food

We celebrated Saturday night with a “fancy” Blue Apron recreation. We used our fancy Corelle plates and I opened a bottle of Rombauer. It was Charred Gochujang Pork Chops on the menu, with Sour Cherry Sauce, Ginger-Honey Carrots, and Marinated Radishes. It was so so good. But also, they are not kidding when they say “charred.” The pork itself was great, but the pan will go home for intensive care.

Lucky to always be able to come home to this.

I feel I am back to factory default settings and in the home groove now. After amazing summer trips, it seems to take about two days for me to remember what “school” is and how to open regular doors and take normal showers. Then we need a full weekend to do unbugsplatting and wash all the clothes and sheets and everything. We outsourced the cleaning of the car to professionals and tipped really well. Dory took two full washing cycles. The Chilewich flooring is one of the best investments we made because they wash off so easily and so well. We have weekend reservations lined up six months out, and some places beyond that. Most will be repeats, but there are a few new ones too.

Snake in a hole, just chillin.

In the words of Jimmy McGill, “‘S’all good, man!”

Total miles: 86.4, 16.4 mpg, 2 hours 35 min. Site 36 no hookups. Great solar. Fantastic cell service for both. Pretty good dump, but need to pay $7 in cash or check, or add fee onto reservation.

Woodson Bridge RV Park (2)

Last minute switch from the SRA with no hookups to the private place across the street with hookups. I forgot when I made the reservation in January that it gets hot in July.

Well, there you have it. Another summer in the books. This was a fantastic trip and we would do the whole thing again in a heartbeat. Literally the only thing we would change is not staying in Lake Louise. But we learned from that, so it’s all good.

This was AFTER Richard scraped about fifty squashed locusts off the front of the car. Gross.

Bruce and Dory started nice and clean and shiny and ended up fully gross and filthy. The locust clouds in Oregon and Northern California were disgusting and left bug pieces so embedded in the grill that I’m not sure we can ever be fully cleansed. I don’t know that those were in fact locusts, but I’m going with that until someone corrects me. Dory came through it like a champ, with only a few parts missing on the road somewhere in Canada. Her electrical system all seems to be ok, and we’ll have Randy do an inspection when he comes back from his well earned summer break. We learned to always set the water heater to Eco because everything else is unnecessarily hot. All of the pantry and recipe planning worked extremely well. We had a nice balance of Blue Apron recreations, pan dinners, and eating out. I was able to manage calories and even sodium pretty well on the road, though I have not weighed myself in over two months, so I guess I don’t really know how effective I was. It’s not like we travel with a bathroom scale, but I could have stopped at the truck weigh stations I suppose, if I’d really wanted to know.

Still stuck on body parts. Yuck.

A few items that were packed and not used once include: the Yoga tent (I know. I feel shame. Don’t talk to me about it.), swimming suits (because we were going to so many damn hot springs), and Gochujang (I thought I had more recipes that called for that). The bear spray purchased in Canada also did not get used, but that’s kind of the hope there. By now we are up to three unused canisters of bear spray that we bought on the road and unloaded at home. Do not make us angry, at least not when we are at home. We had TP anxiety early on, but remedied that with a Walmart stop. We were able to restock everything we needed on the road and had plenty of coffee with 450 pods packed. I learned to branch out in the types of La Croix water I can tolerate, but continue to reject all of their weird flavors. It is annoying how well stocked everyone is on Pampelmousse, but not normal flavors like lemon, lime, orange, or tangerine. I had alcohol wipe anxiety but we made it. We did not suffer too many mosquitos, which is great because I do not have a solution for how to cook dinner outside when it is super hot AND full of bugs. I guess we would just eat sandwiches inside or something. I packed way too much Margarita mix.

Very pleasant last night out by the Sacramento River.

Probably the toughest problem we face on summer trips is my sometimes resentment of Richard’s second wife; i.e. his bike. Most of the time I’m fine with the hours and hours and hours he spends riding. I can usually entertain myself. But it seems there is at least one point on every long trip where I loose my shit over it. We end up fine on the other side, so we should probably just see if we can predict when it’s going to happen, like start a betting pool. Long trips can bring up all kinds of emotions, but that is part of the reason we like them. We always resist coming home, but appreciate it when we finally do. We love seeing our daughter, and Kitty, and the wifi. Home wifi is awesome.

It even came with a sunset.

If we were on the road for longer than two months, we would have to figure out how to defrost the freezer and how to get prescriptions on the road. I would miss friends and coworkers, and eventually my job. The idea of retirement gets more appealing every year, but being home reminds me I’m maybe not quite there yet. And that is great, because we can’t quite do it yet.


Really the only straight up traveling fails this summer had to do with mandarins. Noted for the future: 1) remember to take ALL of the mandarins when we leave, and 2) do not restock them right before crossing back into California.

Now we return to our regularly scheduled programming of repeat campgrounds every weekend. But not this weekend. This weekend is bath time for Bruce and Dory. Ew.

Total miles from Woodson Bridge: 164.7, 17.8 mpg, 3 hours 53 min. Site 12, full hookups. Cell service for both, but not enough to upload pictures. Fast Wifi at registration office. Sewer outlet less gopher holey in this site than in 4. Nice view of the river.

Total stats for summer trip ’22: 4,178 miles, 66 nights, 32 campgrounds, 8 national parks.

Manzanita Lake, Lassen NP (2)

Really nice campground with shady trees and plenty of space.

What a perfect way to round out a glorious summer of mountains and geothermal activity! The four travel days in a row were well worth this three night stop. And one of the benefits of being back in California is that it was hot enough to be able to enjoy cooking outside. I say ‘hot enough,’ but we actually really lucked out by being six thousand feet up. The rest of the area experienced a major heat wave, seeing temperatures in the 100-113º range any place lower than around five thousand. We not only didn’t feel it too bad, but actually got caught in some chilly rain. Camping Level: Expert.

Speaking of being back in California – we forgot about the agricultural checkpoints until we were crossing the border. It was then we remembered we had just gone produce shopping the day before. For a while it looked like we were going to sneak through with no checkpoints in that remote area. But California takes its fruit super seriously, and there is one located 35 miles south of the border where an inspection officer is happily enjoying a full bag of mandarins right now. Camping Level: Fail. We stopped shortly afterwards at a little market in Alturas that just so happens to sell all of the produce that typically gets confiscated. That’s a scheme right there. The produce cartel are making a bundle.

Every descent came with temperatures rising at least ten degrees.

Leaving Oregon Outback, the terrain changed immediately from flat and dry to rolling and shrubby. We were watching the elevation closely, as well as the temperature, because Richard was wanting to get in a bike ride. Plan A was to hop out 20-30 miles before the campground and meet me there. But the 105-107º temps and “Extreme Heat Warning” alerts made that seem like less of a fun idea. Instead, he waited until we got all the way up the the park. At that point it was at least under 100º and falling with the approaching dusk. He rode up the park road for a couple hours while I lounged and prepped for dinner.

The badass blue grill finally gets its chance to shine!

Even though there were some bear warnings, they were half hearted at best, leaving me unimpressed and unconcerned with having cooking equipment left out. The scariest thing reported in this area, besides the Dixie Fire of 2021, was the brutal River Otter attack that left some poor boater with scars and, I imagine, mixed feelings.

Ouch. 🙁

As for the fire, the devastation is immense. I know we have heard lots of sources lecturing about the necessity of wildfires in healthy forests, and we attended a ranger talk where we were encouraged to look for the positive signs of regrowth and rejuvenation on the forest floors. But it is very hard to look past so many charred standing dead trees over such an expansive horizon. From the National Park Service literature, 69% of the park was impacted, and that was significantly less than what was experienced outside the park. We did not venture over to the Lake Almanor area, nor the southeastern regions of Lassen, but I’m sure it looks solidly burnt.

Look for the new growth… Life finds a way… Circle of Life… repeat.

But the Manzanita Lake side looked almost unfazed. In fact, the roads throughout the park have been completely repaved and were a pleasure to ride and drive. The campground structures were all untouched and only the malfunctioning chocolate soft serve ice cream maker showed any signs of distress. Nevertheless, I am still all bent out of shape that only the chocolate side was not working. I call BS and suspect someone forgot to restock and simply claimed “malfunction” to avoid customer wrath.

Very specific rain: only coming down on bikies and WLBs.

We got to enjoy two full days in the park, albeit without chocolate soft serve. We commenced with Plan A on Friday, which involved me driving Richard all the way through the park, dropping him at the Visitor Center, and letting him ride his ass back thirty miles. My plan was to return to the campground and spend the rest of the day on the lake. Good plan. Weather had other ideas. He got as far as the summit and got genuinely rained on. This was rain in excess of what I would deem a Whiny Little Bitch drizzle. We quickly executed a Plan B and went hiking in Bumpass Hell, where the cooler temps would work in our favor.

Sure. Extreme Heat. But I’m gonna need a jacket.

We were putting on rain jackets as simultaneous Extreme Heat alerts buzzed on our phones. In fact, we had hardly walked any distance before the clouds passed overhead and it was time to take jackets right back off again. It was perfect weather for hiking around a thermal basin.

Really gorgeous, sulfur rich, valley.

We came prepared to be thermosnobs, having seen the most impressive super massive volcano basin in North America. But actually, this more compact valley has all kinds of fun sights and smells, and certainly does not suffer from an overabundance of crowds. The forest floor was alive with blooming Lupin and baby Manzanita regrowth. We even saw a little deer family meandering in the grassy area beyond the fumaroles. This was our second time visiting Bumpass Hell, so named for the unfortunate Mr. Bumpass, who stepped where he shouldn’t, as opposed to any anatomical innuendo.

Pretty sweet sight

We were able to fully execute Plan A the following day. That made it a total of two complete out and back trips along the park road for both of us. I took advantage of the Visitor Center wifi this time, while Richard got a good long head start. We arrived back at the campground about the same time and he was able to help me get my boat in the water. Temperatures were balmy but not miserable, so a float in a nice chill lake with a spectacular view could not be beat. Manzanita Lake is the perfect size for a couple of hours and was filled with jumping fish and iridescent blue dragonflies.

Water lilies (or something like them) and dragonflies

For our final fun dinner, we had French Toast on the grill griddle and it was perfect. Reminder to me: lowest heat setting and three minutes per side. Start the eggs going on the saute pan at the same time as the toast. YUM. Further note: it is fun to have tiny stolen butters.

Stolen butter and Maple Shots. OMG

Wonderful end to a wonderful summer. We have another stop before home, but that’s just dragging things out another day. This was the fireworks finale and it could not have been any better. Except the chocolate soft serve.

Total miles from Oregon Outback RV: 196.2, 19.2 mpg, 5 hours 14 min. Site B18, no hookups. Some solar. NO cell service (can go to point of interest #14, Chaos Crags, for good cell, or go to Visitor Center at the south entrance for wifi). Water spigots in loop. Good dump with potable water.