Monday, March 31, 2014

A Monday Drive Up To Lake Havasu City And Back

We left our nice spot here at The River Breeze RV Resort with the intention of checking out all the RV Parks on both the Arizona and California sides of the Colorado River.

Here at River Breeze RV Park, the FHU sites are grass and very level.  It's been a bit windy here so we did not put out our awning.  We didn't even really set up anything but the barbecue and the satellite dish as we are only here for two nights.  I love this little park.  Lots of green around us.  Access to the river, not that we have any water craft with us, but still it is nice.  It is quiet.  I heard freeway noise from I-10 early this morning but otherwise not at all.  There are a fair number of park models and trailers that are for rent.  This time of year, they are empty.  I imagine in the summer it gets packed and I would probably not enjoy the peace and quiet so much.  Plus it would be way too hot for me, so I wouldn't be here anyway.

As I said, then intention was to check out all the RV Parks.  We took the Ehrenburg-Parker Highway to Parker.  Not much along this road.  Some agriculture and some desert/scrub land.  You don't get too close to the river once you leave Ehrenburg, until you get to Parker.  We drove through Parker thinking we'd check out the RV Parks there on our way back so we did not keep having to cross traffic.  Got all the way up to the Cattail Cove State Park, when we realized we had already driven through that park four years ago.  We headed back toward Parker and decided to drive over the Parker Dam.  Oh much for checking out those RV Parks in Parker.  Oops.  If you haven't been over the dam, be forewarned that you can not take big trucks, trailers, MH or anything like that on that road.  Even our Ford F250 Extended Cab truck was a tight fit.  Speed limit is 5 mph.

Once you cross the bridge, you will see a sign warning about free range burros crossing the road.  And they mean it.

The above pictures show the burros free roaming around the River Lodge Resort in Parker Dam, CA. We decided to drive through the resort to check out the spaces.  It is a big place, with many of the water front sites now taken up by park models.  There are still a few back in spots that look nice.

I stopped to talk with this gal who looked very comfortable, enjoying her stay here.  This particular section had a small patch of grass under the trees.  The rigs were parked across the drive

The only downfall is that where ever there is an open patch of grassy field, there is burro poop.  I guess you just have to be careful in picking your site.  Note the RV Parks across the river; someday we will go look at those ones too.

You can't really tell from the picture above, but you would be stepping around piles all over the place.    Those burros do wander where ever they want.

We continued down Hwy 62 to Earp.  We could drive over the bridge to Parker, AZ and come back via the Ehrenburg-Parker Hwy or AZ 95.  Or we could follow Hwy 62 to CA Hwy 95 and drive back through Blythe.  We opted for the latter.  I started kicking myself before we got to 95.  It was 18 miles from Earp to the junction with 95, then 48 miles to Blythe.  It was a very long, uninteresting, boring road with no services.  And wouldn't you know it, we got stopped at the railroad crossing in Vidal.  And all I could see in Vidal was the railroad crossing.  Unless you like driving a 2 lane highway with lots of dips, no services, and a boring view, I would advise crossing the bridge at Earp, going through Parker and down the Arizona 95.  The view is not much better, but the road is and you will make much better time.  I was so glad when we could finally see the semis cruising down I-10 in the distance.

As we head off to Phoenix tomorrow, we decided to get diesel at the Flying J which is the first exit off of I-10 as you enter Arizona.  The good new is that we only paid $3.77 a gallon for fuel.  That's the best price yet!  The bad new is that they are repaving, repairing or expanding the road to access the Flying J, Wendy's and the Best Western Hotel there.  The traffic back up is a nightmare, requiring a State Patrol car, and at least 3 flaggers directing traffic.  If you are pulling a rig or driving a MH, I would advise finding a different gas station up the road.

For now, I'm off to open a Coronita (7 oz Corona bottles we found in Menifee) and sit outside to enjoy the breeze.  It's 82 degrees out which is just this side of warm for us.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Last Days At Wilderness Lakes TT Park; On To River Breeze In Ehrenburg, AZ

Our last days at Thousand Trails Wilderness Lakes in Menifee, California were quiet.  Our major outing was into Temecula to have lunch with some dear friends.  We arrived at 11:30am at Mimi's Cafe and we didn't leave until 3:30pm!  I think we stayed through a shift change, and we are pretty lucky they did not ask us to leave.  We hadn't seen these friends in about 5 years and it was hard to say goodbye.  It was only as we were leaving that I remembered to get Kim to take a picture of me with my good friends Evie and Karen.

The food was excellent, by the way.  I had the Corned Beef Hash Eggs Benedict.  I was so focused on my food that I didn't pay attention to what everyone else ordered.  Just before we left, we decided a share a dessert sampler - brownies a la mode, bread pudding, and apple crisp.  I think I had larger shares that everyone else, and you will not hear an apology from me for being a pig.  A burp, perhaps, but no apology!

The other highlight of the day was finding diesel fuel at the Circle K in Menifee for $3.89 a gallon!

After last night's unimpressive viewing of The Wolf Of Wall Street, we decided to watch American Hustle. I gotta say, I was not very impressive.  I think for Sunday night we will stick with The Amazing Race and The Mentalist.

We were up this morning and on the road at 9:45am - Kim is still puzzled how I managed to be 15 minutes ahead of schedule.  This rarely happens.  Perhaps it was magic!

Our drive to the River Breeze RV Park in Ehrenburg, AZ was an easy 176 miles.  The only "excitement" was a crazy dust/sand storm as we drove through the Palm Springs area.

It went from this:

to this is quite a hurry.

Once we started climbing up to the Chiriaco Summit, the wind let up.  The ride down into Arizona was easy, if not boring from a visual standpoint.

We pulled in to the River Breeze RV Park.  The office was closed by our site information was written on the white board outside the office.  I had reserved a specific spot down by the river and that's what we got.

With the weather in the high 70s/low 80s, we strolled down to the river for a few pictures.

Tomorrow we plan to drive up the Arizona side to Lake Havasu City, and then back down the California side, to check out the various campgrounds.  Kim's aunt and uncle had camped at the Lake Havasu State Park and it looked fabulous.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Oil change at Thousand Trails/Wilderness Lakes RV Resort

I have been planning on an oil change since we left WA several weeks ago. It was getting close to time but I had so many other things to get done that I decided to put it off until we got to my brother's house in Goodyear, AZ. On top of that, with the problems we were having with the truck's cooling system, and the oil temps we were seeing, I was concerned that the oil had probably lost some of it's viscosity (thickness). The cooling system has been repaired and working properly again so when I noticed that the Thousand Trails/Wilderness Lakes RV Resort mentioned that they take recycled oil ($1/gal) at their maintenance facility I decided there was no time like the present. I had brought oil (4 gallons Shell Rotella T6 5W40 synthetic) and a Motorcraft filter with me. I had already purchased a drain pan that doubles as a closed container to transport the used oil. What makes this chore simple is two things. One, Ford did a nice job designing the oil filter housing. It sits right up on top of the engine and when you undo the filter cap a spring loaded mechanism allows a drain port to open and let the filter housing drain to the oil pan. With a little care and a couple of paper towels you can replace the filter without spilling a drop. The second thing is I had previously installed a quick drain valve (made by Fumoto) in the oil pan. Just slide the drain pan under the truck and flip the lever down and over and, viola!, oil is draining and none of it is on me! All in all I spent about 30 minutes, taking my time, checking other vital fluids, hoses and wiring, etc. and driving the used oil over to maintenance. Happy to have that done. The truck starts a little quicker now. The fuel injectors use high pressure oil to actuate them and the truck won't start until the high pressure oil pump (HPOP) reaches 500 psi so the new oil being thicker, it builds pressure quicker and starts.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lazy Day in Menifee, CA

My first thought today had been about a visit to the Motte Historical Museum but unfortunately both Kim and I had headaches that were not resolving as quickly as we would have liked.  The antique/old cars will have to wait for another time.

My response was to take some ibuprofen, put my feet up and just rest.  Kim's response was to go change the oil in the truck.  I'm going to guess that makes sense to men, but it was beyond me.

Eventually the headaches faded, and we went for a walk-about around the Thousand Trails Wilderness Lakes park.

Saw a few things of interest......

Had never seen a pitched roof on a slide out.

Nor had I seen this type of class C style rig.

And I thought these planters hanging off the pin box were cute.

We found the family pool and lounge, the putt-putt golf course, the pickle ball and shuffleboard courts and the adult lounge.  We decided to sit and enjoy the sunshine by the adult pool, and spotted this hawk's nest.

If I'd had my reading glasses on, instead of my sunglasses, I might have captured the hawk in the picture as well.  I guess my aim was off.

Then near the canals that run through the property, we saw this other nest.  Not sure which kind of birds these are, but I'm pretty sure I saw them swimming.

We fired up the barbecue and enjoyed some brussel sprouts, carrots and onions, tossed with olive oil and vinegar that were cooked in a foil packet, along with a nice rib eye steak for dinner.

Not being basketball fans, we opted for a movie - The Wolf of Wall Street.  Leonardo DiCaprio played the part well, but the movie itself was rather boring.  So much so that when the rig started shaking, I assumed it was Kim jiggling my chair to wake me up.  I looked over at him, and he was wearing a puzzled looked.  We both said, "Earthquake?"  Yep, a 5.3 in LaHabra - about 60 miles west from here.  Checking Facebook, I noticed Kim's aunt and uncle felt it where they are camping in the Palm Springs area.  Friends in Orange and San Diego counties felt it as well.  That's it for Friday's excitement.

Hemet, California

We headed off to Hemet this morning, primarily in search of Vanilla Nut Maxwell House International Coffee and my new favorite oatmeal from BetterOats called Lavish Dark Chocolate.  As long as we were there, we might as well stop at the bank.

The first topic of discussion was why Hemet was there.  Well, actually it started when we went through Winchester, just before Hemet, where we found an easy access post office to mail some post cards and bills I've been carrying around.  All we saw on the main street was the post office, a market,  a gas station and two restaurants.  This all brought on the question, why is this here?  Apparently, Winchester is primarily an agricultural community and services sprung up in response to needs of the community.  There is a population of approximately 2500 people.  And what about Hemet you ask?  Hemet has a population of 78,000+.  The four main industries are retail trade, health services, educational services and government.  The biggest employer is the school district.  I'd have to guess that this is generally a bedroom community that services bigger cities (with large industries) in San Diego and Riverside Counties.

At any rate, we found the post office in Winchester, and a Super Walmart and a US Bank in Hemet.  We also found a Polly's Pies.  Kim swears I plan all outings based on my stomach so that he is forced to buy me lunch.  With every kind of restaurant available, I picked one I'd never heard of.   It was a good choice.  Having my mind on pie, I ordered a half grilled ham and cheese sandwich and a cup of pea soup.

Kim chose the deluxe grilled cheese (4 different kinds of cheese) sandwich and fries.

We had the discussion of whether or not to get pie to go; we were too full to eat anymore right then.  The Diet Angels won out, and we decided against pie - a decision we regretted at about 8pm that evening.

We have friends in the Seattle area that asked us to keep an eye out for a special top shelf tequila and a top shelf brandy.  Liquor prices are much much cheaper in California than they are in Seattle.  Interestingly, however, beer and wine prices are comparable to what we pay at home.  Anyway, we found a store called Mega Liquor (at least that was what the website was called - the store name might have been something else), where we found the brandy, but alas not the tequila.  What I loved was the sign above the front door:

I guess we passed the test as they most graciously served us, and went out of their way to see if they could find that tequila.

Because I was whining the other day about missing all the spring blooming flowers in our yard, my daughter sent a few pictures.  My daffodils are out.  The dogwood has not yet bloomed.  The grass is definitely greener (and longer) than when we left.

I wonder if the weeding angels will visit before we get home?  The flower beds need some cleaning up it appears.

Very happy to see some flowers on the forsythia as it had a major pruning last fall.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring........................

Thousand Trails Wilderness Lake Park in Menifee, CA

Such a long day on Wednesday!  We left Champagne Lakes in Escondido about 11:15 am.  By 12:15 pm, we were backed into Space #560 here at Wilderness Lakes, hooked up to electric, slides out, furnitures arranged, dishes unpacked, when we realized we were hungry.

We scored on finding this site, as I think it was the last site that backed onto an open field where I have a view south to some hills and a pasture of horses.  We haven't walked the park yet so I don't know what other options there might have been, but I'm thrilled about where we are!

Okay, I have to admit, one of the first things I decided I liked about this park was it's proximity to services.  Within 10 minutes, we were able to find a Super Target, Kohls, Lowes, Michaels, and every kind of restaurant you could imagine.  We opted for Panera Bread as I had never eaten at one, and everyone I know who has, loves them.  I've been missing my normal amount of veggies that I enjoy at home where my kitchen is big enough to have 2-3 servings with dinner plus salad.  Therefore, my choice was a shrimp salad with mixed greens, gorgonzola, almonds, and garlic infused chickpeas and butter beans, plus a cup of pesto and veggies soup.   Yum!

Kim opted for an oriental chicken salad and half of a turkey bacon sandwich, with a smoothie.

The rest of Wednesday was spent finishing getting set up, getting the water hooked up and the sewer connected.  For whatever reason, our DirecTV dish has been giving us a challenge.  It seems to take a few hours to get the adjustments right.  I say it is operator error; Kim insists it is the dish itself.  Either way, it finally locked on the signal and I was able to watch most of Survivor.  I was a happy camper, although (spoiler alert) I missed what happened when one person quit.

Tomorrow may be a lazy day.  I always say that and then we end up going off to do something, so we will see.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

And We Are Off To Menifee - Thousand Trials Wilderness Lakes

Yesterday was our last full day here at Champagne Lakes RV Park in Escondido, CA.  It's been a nice park and we've had a good stay.   There are so many good things to say about this park - it's easy on and off I-15, but the noise from the freeway is not bad.  You are only 20-30 minutes away from services, Walmart, Costco, restaurants, and casinos.  The park is immaculate.  I've enjoyed the trees and watching the birds around our site and around the fishing ponds (catch and release only).  The bathrooms and laundries are kept very clean.  There are a number of full time residents, but the owner makes sure everyone keeps their sites clean and maintained.  My only complaint is that we are down in a dip and the cellphone service can be spotty.  If you stay long enough, you find your "sweet spots" and head there to use the phones.  Our Millenicom Mi-Fi would drop us or be very slow to load throughout the day.  It's not the park's fault (they do offer Tengonet for a fee but I'm not sure it would be any better); I'm sure it has to do with cell tower placement.  We had a challenge getting our DirecTV satellite to fix on a signal, but eventually we got it running with no problem.  If you are not a "working from the rig full timer" and you can put up with the dropped signals, I think this is a great park.

Today we head up to Menifee, just east of Lake Elsinore.  We are relatively new Thousand Trail members, so we will go check out this park for a few days.  Not sure what we will find to do there, but since it is only about 45 miles from where we are, I'm thinking if nothing else, I may talk Kim into going back to the Pechanga Casino.  My plans initially were to spend some time lounging by the pool, but it looks like Southern California will be getting some welcomed rain showers.  It may be time to catch up on some Netflix House of Cards episodes or a movie or two.  Ain't retirement grand!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I Love Pie! A Day Trip To Julian, CA

Months ago when we were planning our trip, I read about Julian, a small town in the mountains outside of San Diego, on Rick and Paulette's RV Travels blog.  A few weeks later, friends from Lake Elsinore, CA, mentioned that we might enjoy a day trip to Julian.  Then another friend mentioned it.  Always in conjunction with the nice scenic drive, pie was mentioned.  It didn't take much coaxing for us to add a day trip to Julian to our schedule.

Our dear friend, Leila, offered to drive us.  A long time resident of the area, she had never been to Julian herself, so it was a new experience for all of us.

We headed out about 10 a.m., and took Highwayy 78 through Escondido, past Safari Park, through Ramona, and on up to Julian.  The road did have its winding spots, usually in 5-7 mile sections.  Sitting in the front seat, with Leila driving, I did okay.  It is not a road I would want to take often.  However, the scenery was lovely.  It took us about an hour to get there.   As we were driving along, admiring the horses and cows and sheep, we came upon some camels!  Yes, camels!  Apparently, there is a camel dairy there with camel milk soaps and lotions, camel milk chocolate, and camel rides.  Unfortunately, visiting is by appointment only.   Check them out here:  The Camel Dairy

While not what I would call 'busy' - there was plenty of activity in Julian for a Monday, after a weekend festival.  Our first stop was at The Birdwatcher.  Oh my kinda store!  I do miss my birds at home.  The gold finch are probably arriving soon.  Anyway, lots of cool stuff in this store.

Next up - lunch!  We went to the Julian Cafe and Bakery.  A fun little place with great food.  We elected to have lunch, then wander around the town a bit, and have pie a little later.  Good thing, because I was stuffed after lunch.

I chose the half sandwich (roast beef on rye) and cup of the house special tortilla soup with a side of coleslaw.  All very yummy - especially the soup!

Kim and Leila both had the french dip and fries.  Both said it was very good, and judging by their clean plates, I would take them at their words.  (Oops - Kim - I deleted the wrong pictures.  I was getting a scolding here for taking too long to get the shot.  He was hungry.)

Our water was served in these cool cowboy boot mugs.

After lunch, we strolled down the street, and popped into a few stores and galleries.

Now who wouldn't stop in a store named Pistols & Petticoats.  Lots of cool stuff including these masks which I love (but have absolutely no use for) and my new friend.

We strolled about and appreciated the quaintness of some of the shoppes.  (If they are quaint, aren't they automatically "shoppes" instead of "shops"?) There was a small cemetery up the hill that looked so peaceful.

We stopped in at A Rose Path Gallery   A small gallery, featuring local San Diego county artists.
And this very cool bird bath!

How convenient that right next door was the Julian Pie Company!  The last stop on our visit to Julian.
Leila and I opted for the cherry pie (I had mine with a half scoop of vanilla and a half scoop of cinnamon ice cream), and Kim chose the pecan pie.  I started eating before I even snapped a picture.  It was that good!

There was a discussion about apple pie and cheddar cheese.  None of us had ever had it, but we had all heard of its being served that way.  A very nice younger man ahead of us in line told us he was going to try the apple pie with melted cheddar today.  He is a marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, and was visiting Julian with some family members visiting from Alabama.  We were all sitting out on the back deck enjoying our pies, when he came over and offered us a bite.  That was so sweet of him, and oh so good.  I'm pretty sure the next time I have apple pie, I'll ask for some melted cheddar on top!

And a last shot over a Julian side street as we headed to the car, and our drive back.

We opted to go back via Highwayy 76, and I'm so glad we did.  It was a nicer, prettier drive, with not so many twists and turns.  In fact, the worst of it was the 5 miles between the Pala Casino and I-15, which wasn't as bad as it seemed when we went earlier in the week.

My only disappointment is that we did not stop at the Mission Santa Ysabel.  My bad; Leila offered to stop, but I declined.  Now that I've looked at the website, I'm sorry I didn't take advantage of the opportunity.  And what the heck was I thinking - we passed two casinos without stopping :  Santa Ysabel Casino and Viejas Casino.  Oh well, next time!