Friday, January 26, 2018

Favorite Pictures From Our Journeys in November and December 2017

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua  Tree National Park

Had never seen a pomegranate tree before. Shoshone, CA
Sunrise - Palm Springs 

Salvation Mountain - Slab City, CA

Wish I could turn my head that far around! Lake Havasu State Park, AZ

Yucaipa Regional Park-Yucaipa, CA

Joshua Tree National Park

Monday, January 22, 2018

Birding in November and December 2017

I am a beginner when it comes to photography.  I have a Nikon D3300.  I'm still using auto-focus as I get used to this camera.  Wildlife, flowers and landscapes are my favorite things to capture (aside from my grandsons).

Black Phoebe - Lake Havasu, AZ

Black Billed Magpie - San Benito Thousand Trails Park

Gambel's Quail - San Benito Thousand Trails Park

Great Blue Heron - Lake Havasu

Killdeer - Lake Havasu

Great Egret - Wilderness Lakes Thousand Trails

American Coot - Wilderness Lakes Thousand Trails

Immature Black-Crowned Night-Heron (?) - Wilderness Lakes Thousand Trails

American White Pelican - Salton Sea

Hummingbird - the light was not good enough to tell what kind - Wilderness Lakes Thousand Trails

Rock Wren - Joshua Tree National Park

RV Park Mini-Reviews for December 2017

During December, we went from Nevada to Arizona to California.

After leaving Bullhead City, AZ, we drove to Pahrump, Nevada.

Pahrump, NV - Wine Ridge RV Park:  This is a nice, well kept RV Park, with great amenities and lots of activities.  We are not activity people, but there is plenty to do if you like that sort of thing.  Bonus points for the winery that is attached to the park! We spent our time in Pahrump relaxing and just driving around, checking things out.  I won $50 at Irene's Casino, which is a little hole in the wall place with a good restaurant, a bar and about 250 machines.  We also drove out to Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge, an oasis in the desert and worth the trip - we were only gone a few hours.  They have a nice visitors center and well informed rangers.

Las Vegas, NV - Thousand Trails Las Vegas:  There were a couple reasons we stopped here for a few days.  First was just to check it out.  People either love or hate this park, or they admit that it is primarily about location, location, location, plus a free place to park the rig if you are a Thousand Trails member.  I will say this is not my favorite, or even close to favorite park, but what it does have going for it, aside from the location aspect and as a base camp for exploring LV, is the staff.  All the rangers and staff we met were very friendly, helpful and on the job.  The spaces are tight, and it is basically a gravel parking lot, and not the type of campground where you sit outside and visit with people walking by.  

The other reason was to see our niece who lives in Summerlin, and whose sister was also visiting from Washington, so two nieces in one trip, and a wonderful late breakfast at the Peppermill.  That alone made the stay at this campground worthwhile!

Lake Havasu City, AZ - Lake Havasu State Park:  This park had been recommended to us over and over again.  Let's get the bad news out of the way first.  These sites are W and E only.  There is a dump station in the park.  Inconvenient, yes, but certainly doable.  We had a river front site, and the boats were loud.  I can't imagine what it is like during the summer.  Those are really minor gripes.  The big sites, the beautiful views, the trails, everything else - I loved this park and would highly recommend it.

Palm Desert, CA - Thousand Trails Palm Springs RV Resort:  Truth be told, we came to this resort expecting to just hate it.  It pretty much borders on a busy section of I-10 (there is a frontage road between the resort and the freeway).  Many reviews of this park were not good.  You will hear that the spaces are tight, it's too loud, there are trains at all hours, etc., etc., etc.  However, you will also hear the people that love it at this resort.  We decided to check it out for ourselves.  We were surprised how much we did like it.  There is a 50 amp section, which is tight - most spaces are between palm trees.  There is also a 30 amp section, where spots are much wider and bigger.  This is where we stayed.  There are lots of activities, again if you like that kind of thing.  While we were there, we encountered many friendly campers and people to chat with.  Kim joined in on the daily pool tournaments, and he really enjoyed that.  There are so many things to do and see around this area, even if you are not the touristy type - which describes us.  We did drive out to the Salton Sea, Slab City, East Jesus and through Joshua Tree National Park.  We will be going back because there was still so much we didn't do or see.  As Kim often reminds me, we are not on vacation.  We are full timing.  We don't have to do and see everything the first time there.  We know we will be back.

Menifee, CA - Thousand Trails Wilderness Lakes:  This is a park where we had stayed about 7 years before.  At that time, there was a big dairy farm nearby, and you could smell it.  The dairy farm closed down but the property has remained agricultural, minus the smell.  We like this park.  The site spaces are big.  It is low key, but close to shopping.  Hemet, Temecula and Lake Elsinore are just 10-20 miles away plus you could easily make a visit to San Diego in a day trip.   This park also has plenty of activities, plus a separate family and adults only pool.  Kim enjoyed the daily pool tournaments here as well.  We have a number of friends in the area which is why we continue to come back.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

RV Park Mini-Reviews for November 2017

Here are the parks where in stayed in November 2017.

Chehalis, WA - Thousand Trails:  Nice rural, forested park.  Space sites were good.

Creswell, OR - Meadowlark RV:  Right off I-5.  Traffic noise.  Employees with a great sense of humor.  Nothing special.

Grant's Pass, OR - Bridgeview RV:  Overnight spots are right on the river.  Other side of the river is the freeway, so there was noise.  Very nice and friendly owners/managers.  Easy on and off from freeway.  This was our view!

Redding, CA - JGW Park:  Stayed there before.  On the river.  Nice clean park.  Good laundry.  Easy on and off the freeway. With another great view!

Lodi, CA - Flag City RV:  Right off the freeway.  Nice clean park.  Manicured sites with cement pads.

Paicines, CA - San Benito Thousand Trails:  This park is out in the middle of nowhere -  about 15 miles from Hollister where there is major shopping, and then another 10 miles north is Gilroy.  What I loved about this park was the wildlife.  There are deer, fox, birds, and my favorite - the resident bobcat family!

Santa Barbara, CA - Rancho Oso Thousand Trails:  This Thousand Trails Park is also a working horse ranch, so one of the perks they offer is guided trail rides.  It is a rather nerve racking mile long drive into the park on a one lane road (once you turn off onto the park property from Paradise Road).  People either love or hate this park.  I was in the latter group, but that was mostly because cell, wifi and satellite service was iffy.  And the drive in terrified me.  That road is the reason there is an 11am check out and a 12pm check in time.

 Acton, CA - Soledad Canyon Thousand Trails:  Another rural park.  We were there during a time when it was warm and dry .... really dry and dusty.  Depending on where your site is within the park, you may or may not get cell, wifi or satellite.  Commuter trains and an occasional freight train run daily.  The park is showing its age, but the sales office and check in area have been updated.  The pool and clubhouse were fine.

Bullhead City, AZ - Mirage RV Park:  This is a nice residential park, with a few open spots for travelers.  The spaces are good sized, and paved.  Park residents are friendly.  We enjoyed our stay.  Lots of restaurant and shopping in Bullhead City.  We especially liked the Smith's Store for groceries.  Laughlin, NV with gambling and entertainment is on the other side of the Colorado River.  We took a side excursion to Oatman, AZ - about 40 miles.  This is an old ghost town where wild mules wander the streets.  It's a tourist thing, but worth the visit.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Two Years Later......

First, I'm kind of surprised that this blog is still here, and that I can access it!

So long story short....we sold the Hitchhiker II and bought a 2017 Arctic Fox 35-5Z and a new Ford F450 to pull it with.  Put the house on the market.  Sold or donated most of our belongings.  Rented a storage locker for a few items.  And hit the road on November 1, 2017.

While no longer really RV Virgins, we are slowly remembering things about living and traveling in an RV.  We are currently on a journey to find places we really like, especially to spend the winter, and then we will move on to places to spend the summer.  Our goal is to stay in areas where we can enjoy daytime temperatures in the 70 - 80 degree range, and evenings that still above freezing.

We spent about a month driveway camping, to get back into the swing of things, and to learn which electrical items you can't run at the same time when you are hooked up to 30 amp.

Then we hit the road - first stop, Thousand Trails in Chehalis, WA.  We did not much there but practice setting up and taking down, going over the "check list" and getting acclimated again to the art of living in an RV in a campground.

In the last 2 ½ months, we dashed over the Siskiyous to get down south before it snowed, and have spent time in California, Arizona and Nevada.  We are appreciating the mild weather.  We are missing our kids and grandkids and friends we left at home.

Up next on this blog:  A post of mini-reviews of the places we have stayed.