Thursday, April 17, 2014

Redding, California

I'm happy to report that we had a non-eventful trip from Stockton to Redding.  We had intended to be on the road by 9am, but a tanker fuel truck came to fill the fuel tanks at the marina, and we were blocked in.  We took it in stride - what else can you do.  We kicked back and watched the action on the delta - scullers, fisherman, a small Coast Guard boat, birds and a river otter.  We hit I-5 northbound about 10:20am.

A few comments about the evening at Riverpoint Landing Marina and RV Resort.  I can imagine that it gets pretty loud there during the summer when school is out and the weather is very warm.  As it was on this spring evening, our neighbor was having a good old time with his buddy, but things quieted down about 9:30ish.  In the middle of the night, I was awakened by what I thought was someone yelling "Help, Help, Help".  The only thing was that it repeated in the same tone, sometimes sounding closer, sometimes sounding further away.  The tone never changed, and there were no other words like you might expect "Somebody - help me."  Just "Help, Help, Help".  At some point, I figured it had to be a bird.  There was no action from any of the other rigs in the park, so I went back to sleep.  Geez, I hope it was a bird......

We never did get our satellite dish to connect, and for that reason, we will probably not return to this park.  If you are not a TV addict like me, you may like it there.

My other comment is that the lovely tree lined road that you take to get to the marina has 3 lanes in each direction.  You will want to stay in the middle lane.  Some of the branches on those trees were low hanging.  Also, the roots of the trees have grown under the road so the road is very lumpy.  I think the speed limit was 40, but we drove about 20mph.

There is really not a whole lot to be said about the drive along I-5 from Stockton to Redding, except for the following:

1.  Some time in the last four years, they resurfaced a lot of this road, and let me say - Thank God!  There are parts they are still working on, but oh how much better it is not to be bounced around until your kidneys and bladder are begging for mercy.

2.  It should be a law that crops grown along side the freeway must have signage.  I still don't know if I was looking at olive trees or some sort of nut tree.

3.  Why don't all sections of freeway have Rest Areas every 25 - 30 miles like this part of I-5 does?

We pulled into JGW RV Park about 3:00pm.  Set up was relatively easy - isn't that always the case, just as you are headed home, things start coming together.  All sites in this park are pull through in either direction.  The premium sites all face the Sacramento River if you are in a motor home, or have the back window facing the river if you are a 5th wheel or trailer.  The regular sites are also pull through without the view, but they do have nice cement pads along with a patch of grass.  There is a long patch of grass along the river, and we pulled our chairs out there to enjoy an afternoon beer.

This is how I spent the next few hours.

A picture of our site, #22.

And a few other shots I took on our afternoon stroll.

This is the view out our back window - very relaxing.

If it weren't that I am very anxious to get home and get some lovin' from my grandsons, I would consider staying here a few more days.

As we are getting ready to hit the sack, I can hear the muffled sounds of traffic from I-5 (you can see the park from the freeway), and I do believe I hear rain.  It has been so long since I heard that sound that I cannot be sure.......

Tomorrow we hope to get an early start, and drive at least as far as Eugene, OR.  This will be a first for me - heading out without reservations.  Life is an adventure, eh?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Oy Vey - What A Day!

After a nice night in Needles, CA at the Desert View RV Resort, we headed out about 9am, Bakersfield bound.  Before we left, I snapped these two shots - one of the pool and one of the outdoor visiting area, outside the clubhouse.

The pool was covered overnight - I took this shot about 8am.

At about 9:30, the CAC tube blew off again (it had happened on our way south 6 weeks ago).  Kim put it back on, tightened the clamp and off we went.  For about 30 minutes.  Boom!  Off it went again.   Pulling over once again for Kim to adjust it.  Back on the road, Boom!  When it happened the fourth time, and we hadn't even gone 100 yards, we knew it was time to call Coach Net.  Although it took some extra calls, we were finally able to talk to Carlos from Ken's Towing who had been dispatched from Baker, CA to our location about 30 miles outside of Barstow.  Kim told Carlos what he needed, and it sounded like he had the items in his truck.  As best I understand it, the hose had lost the adhesiveness that helps to hold the clamp on.  Kim had the brilliant idea to cut a small piece of emery cloth to put under the clamp and hopefully that would hold.  We gave it a try and were able to at least get up to the Rest Area just outside of Barstow so we were off the road.  Carlos showed up about 30 minutes later.  He didn't have the parts we needed, but he did double check the tightness of the clamp and it appeared to be holding.  He followed us almost all the way to the Ford dealer in Barstow (his turn off to go back to Baker was just before our exit).

We made it to the Ford dealer, and they had the parts we needed.  Kim initially was just going to take the parts along with us in case we needed them, but then decided he was going to fix it right then as we were on a side street without traffic.  Good thing he made that decision, because the parts guy had given him the CAC hose that went under the engine, and the one we needed went on top.  This time, Kim took the original hose, along with the wrong one, went back to the parts department, and this time came back with the right hose.  A few minutes later, fingers crossed, we were on our way.

I have to tell you, there was a whole lotta praying' going on during this drive.  I had to keep reminding myself that we knew what the problem was, and we fixed it.  End of story.  But I come from a family of worriers, so it wasn't so easy.  You hear all the time about the importance of positive thinking.....I had to focus my thoughts on being positive everything was going right, not positive that everything was going wrong.

We stopped to get fuel in Mojave, paying $3.99 a gallon, and then we started up Tehachapi Pass....praying all the way.  I can't tell you the relief I had when we crested the summit.  I relaxed considerably.  Unfortunately, that was the point where Kim informed me that going up a hill really made no difference.  If the hose was going to pop off, it was because there was nothing holding the clamp on, not because the engine was working harder.  I'm not sure I believe his story, but he was sticking to it.  I was sticking to my prayer treatments.

We finally pulled into the Bakersfield RV Resort about 7pm.  We had stayed here before, about 4 years ago, and things had not changed much at all.  Even the check in gal was the same person.  You can read my review of their park here:  Bakersfield RV Park Experiences

The only hiccup that happened at the park is that all of a sudden our 12 volt battery started acting up. All the lights went out, but the TV and the computers stayed on.  It only happened for a few seconds, and came back on.  It happened again about an hour later when we turned on the AC.  This may or may not have been a coincidence.  Again, the TV and the computers stayed on, but the lights went out.  And then came right back on.  We turned off the AC, and plugged in the fans, and no more problems.  I didn't sleep well, but that is typical for me after a stressful day.  I heard the trains about 2am, but I must have fallen back asleep because I woke up about 5:30am, in time to open the shades and watch the skies become light.

The morning went smoothly, and we were on the road by about 9:30am.  Things went so smoothly that we only stopped for fuel because we saw an easy on and off spot in Fresno, paying $3.83 a gallon.  We got back on the road, and remarked about how they must have done some highway improvements along Hwy 99 as the road wasn't nearly as rough as we remembered.  About 1:00pm, we stopped for a bite to eat at some big Travel Center of America around Merced.  We opted for the Popeye's Chicken.  I had a Shrimp Po'Boy with cole slaw, and Kim had chicken strips with fries.  I'd never eaten at a Popeye's before.  It was pretty good.

We hit the road again, and encountered a little bit of traffic coming over to I-5 from Hwy 99 as we entered Stockton.  We had reservations at the Riverpoint Landing Marina and RV Resort.  We are backed onto the delta with a terrific view and a very nice breeze.  It is a small park with water, electric and wifi - no sewer and no cable TV.  They assigned us space 3, but we were unable to get out slides out because of the trees.  This place had good reviews on and it seems very nice.  I haven't checked out the restrooms or the laundry so I can't comment on them.  We were unable to get our DirecTV dish to pick up a signal, possibly due to the high tension wires across the channel.  We'd get a signal and lose it without even touching the dish.  I told Kim to just give up.  I had plenty of things recorded we hadn't yet watched, plus we are still working through the DVDs we brought along.

The view out our back window.

The empty spot between our neighbor's rig and ours.

Our site #11.

A few empty sites with the trees that made opening our slides impossible....or at least difficult.

The small park area that separates the two sides of the park from each other.

A perfect place to watch the sun set.

The sun setting on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Next stop:  Redding, CA

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I Can't Believe We Are Headed Home - First Stop: Needles, CA

It rarely happens, but I was actually up and ready to go before Kim.  Of course, he has a lot more on his list of things to get packed and put away than I do.  I asked him the night before what time he wanted to leave in the morning, and he said 10am.  Well, much to his surprise, I was ready at 10am.   He was not.  Therefore, I got to spend a few more minutes visiting with his aunt and uncle before we headed out.  We started our drive up the road to the Thousand Trails Verde Valley gatehouse.  We checked out, and drove about ¼ mile more before Kim realized he had not had anything to eat yet.  We pulled over before we even got out on to the highway so he could grab an energy bar from the pantry.  We had a good laugh, turned left onto Highway 260, and headed east toward I-17.

The previous evening there had been quite the discussion between Kim and Uncle Bill and their GPSs about which route to take.  With the Rand McNally GPS, you can plug in whether you are driving a car, a motor home, or a trailer/fifth wheel.  If you select car or motor home, the route took you south on 17, picking up AZ Highway 89 through Prescott, and then joining I-40 at Ash Fork.  If you put in fifth wheel, it took you north up I-17, picking up I-40 in Flagstaff.  We still don't know why one route was selected for a motor home, and another for the fiver.  We took the route through Flagstaff.  Next week, Kim's aunt and uncle will take the other route and let us know how it goes.  The GPS said that the route through Prescott was quicker by about 20 minutes.  It took us 2 hours from the Verde Valley TT Preserve to Ash Fork.  I know because that was just where we decided to stop for a potty break.  There are a few sections of I-17 and I-40 that are quite bumpy, and after 2 cups of coffee, my bladder had had all it could take.

Back on the road, we motored along until just before Kingman, where we stopped at a Love's to fill up, paying $3.86 per gallon for diesel.

We were headed for the Walmart in Kingman to pick up some groceries, but found a Safeway with a big parking lot and a traffic light (making it easier to turn left to get back on I-40).  We picked up some veggies, a bag of meatballs, some pretzel M & Ms, 5 gallons of water, and a roll of paper towels.  With what I already had in the refer and freezer, that should at least get us through California and possibly into Washington before having to stop for groceries again.

It had been windy the last two days in Cottonwood, and I guess the wind was following us as we were fighting the wind most of the way on today's trip.  Eventually, we crossed over the California/Arizona border, had a laugh with the agent at the Agriculture Check Point when I tried to claim Kim as live-stock....and the agent offered to quarantine me if Kim was offended.  We decided that calling Kim a "live one" was a compliment, and off we went.

We had reservations at the Desert View RV Resort in Needles.  Once we turned left from the end of the off-ramp, the road (part of Historic Route 66) was definitely in need of resurfacing.  Luckily, the resort was just one mile down the road.  As we were driving up, I was a little skeptical.  The surrounding  area was not something I would have picked, but as we approached the resort, I had a change of heart.  What a delightful place!  The spots were level.  It was very quiet.  The staff was very friendly and helpful.  The gentleman who escorted us to our spot even asked Kim if he wanted help or if he'd rather just do it himself.  To me, that's good insight into how your customers think.

I didn't get a chance to check out the pool, the laundry or the bathroom/shower facilities, but everything looks well tended to.  Here's a few quick shots of an empty site.

This was just an overnight stop, but I would definitely come back and do a little exploring.  Laughlin is just 20 miles away to the north, and Oatman is 25 miles to the northeast.  Lake Havasu and The London Bridge are just 40 miles south.  And there is a wildlife refuge I'd love to visit as well.  We will probably return in the next year or so, and spend more than just one night.

Next stop:  Bakersfield, CA.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Legendary Jerome, Arizona

I think the last time I was in Jerome, it was probably 10 years ago.  It is not some place that either Kim nor I would have really picked out at that time.  We went because Kim's brother just loves Jerome.  He didn't warn us about the winding road up there.  If you've read this blog before, perhaps you know that I get very car sick on any stretch of tight, hairpin curves.  And that is exactly what happened 10 years ago.  I was so car sick just getting up there that I didn't even want to get out of the car.  I just wanted to go back to Sedona where we were staying and lay down.

So, it was quite a surprise to Kim that I wanted to go back to Jerome on this trip.  I'm not sure it would have been his choice, but he agreed primarily because his Uncle Bill and Aunt Maria were going too.  He wouldn't have to go into every shop.  He could hang out with Bill while Maria and I browsed.

So the good news is that I survived the trip up to Jerome without getting sick.  Who knows why - smaller car, different driver, or the fact that my depth perception improved greatly after my cataract surgery.  Don't know, don't care, just grateful!

Jerome, a National Historic Landmark, was built on Cleopatra Hill on top of what was the largest copper mine in Arizona - it produced an astonishing three million pounds of copper per month, according to the brochure.

I was skeptical of how long Kim would hold out while we browsed the shops, but there must have been some things for him to enjoy as far as looking around at the old buildings and people watching, because he lasted longer than I expected.

We had two other stops on our itinerary, Old Town Cottonwood and the Alcantara Vineyards.  We elected to have lunch in Jerome before moving on.

I had crab cakes and a side salad.  Kim had the prime rib french dip.  

Bill and Maria opted for burgers.  One of them chose the Mile High's Big Ass BBQ Bacon Burger.  I'm not saying which.....

With our tummies all full, we headed back down the curves to some flat land.  I once again survived the drive (Thank You Bill for taking it easy on me).  We drove into Old Town Cottonwood.  It reminded me a bit of First Street in our home town, Snohomish, WA.  About 4 blocks of little shops and boutiques.  We didn't get out, but instead headed over to the Alcantara Vineyards.

The boys wimped out, but Maria and I were up to the challenge and sampled 5 of their wines.  At this winery, they gave you a list of the wines available, you picked 5 to sample, and they gave you a glass.  You find a table or a spot on the grass, drink your first sample, and then go back for the second. And so on.  Maria and I noticed that when you went back up to the bar for the next sample, if you were standing to the right of the server, you got a bigger sample.  Now the race was on to see who could get on the right side.  Of course, being grown well behaved adults - we took turns.....sort of.

I sampled the NV Viognier (crisp and clean with hints of grapefruit) which was nice, a 2012 Pinot Grigio - not my favorite, a 2011 Zinfandel which we heard others raving about - I apparently have a different kind of pallet, a 2010 Merlot - okay, and my favorite a NV Syrah (the description read "plum currants and peeper w/a nice long finish" - who knew I liked a peeper taste in my wine) which was very smooth and delightful.  It was a little pricey for my budget, so we didn't buy a bottle.  

And a little funny to end this post ;)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Day Trip To Payson, AZ

The title may be a bit deceiving.  As I read it, it implies that we really explored the area.  That's not exactly so.  The point in going was to visit with a high-school classmate of mine.  That, we did.  She also drove us around to see her favorite points in the area, but we were so busy talking, I didn't take any pictures.  The following are pictures of our drive up from Cottonwood to Payson.  They are mostly shots of trees.  After a few weeks in the desert area, I miss the green of the Pacific Northwest. I got a little carried away.

Going up to 6000 feet, we watched the landscape change.

We drove through two small towns.  If I had to guess, the industry in this area would be logging and tourism.  I'm pretty sure lots of people come up from the Phoenix area to camp in the summer to escape the heat.

And speaking of coming from the Phoenix area, I would do that next time I visit Payson.  I'm told that Highway 87 is a much easier drive than the way we came.  I have a tendency to get carsick on winding roads, so this is good for me to know.  The drive from Cottonwood on AZ Highway 260 (which incidentally our GPS calls aah-zee 260 - took us a while to figure that one out), which eventually hooks up with Highway 87, is a bit too much for me.  It was easier going back down that coming up, perhaps because I wasn't looking over the embankments.

Anyway, we went through the town of Strawberry - not much there, a few shops and probably a restaurant.  The photo of the street did not turn out, unfortunately.

And then through Pine, which is a bit larger.  If you are familiar with the Washington Coast, think Grayland.

We drove into Payson, and I was surprised at how big it was.  I'm not sure why, but I was.  There was a Super Walmart, a Big Lots, a Home Depot, Walgreens, lots of restaurants and shops, a Bashas (my favorite Arizona grocery store chain), a hospital.  It was fairly good sized - a large town/small city.

We caught up with my friend Debbie at her rig at the Ox Bow Estates RV Park.  This is a smaller park with some long term residents, but it appeared clean and well cared for.  There were restrooms and showers and a community center, but no pool or other "resort amenities".  I'm not sure big rigs would fit, but it was a nice little place out of town.

Debbie drove us around to see her favorite parts of the area, including a drive through the Houston Mesa Campground in the Tonto National Forrest.  They looked like very nice campsites.  I think they were all dry camping, and looked a little small for our rig, but it was lovely.

We opted to have lunch at Mazatzal Hotel and Casino  We decided on Friday's Fish Fry at the Cedar Ridge Buffet.  And as a bonus - we all qualified for the senior discount!  Kim and I had dinner plans with his aunt and uncle so we did not have time to play at the casino.  However, I did a walkabout and found many of the older reel to reel machines as well as newer video ones, and my favorite nickel and quarter keno/poker machines.  I will definitely make time to try my luck next time we are in Payson!

Soon it was time to head out.  I understand the cost of living is reduced in Payson as there are many retirees in the area.  We decided to fill up the truck as we found diesel at $3.81 per gallon at the local Circle K/Shell station.

The drive back down the mountain to Thousand Trails Verde Valley took about 90 minutes.  I waved goodbye to the trees.

Tomorrow, we are off to Old Town Cottonwood, and Jerome.