Our Chalet Truck Camper

Our Chalet Truck Camper

Monday, November 09, 2009

Recompence weekend campout in Maine

Three hours of steady work got the TC back on the truck and ready to go over to Recompence Campground at Wolfe Neck Farm in Freeport for an impromptue weekend TC gathering. Joe's leg has improved greatly but not enough to let him go for the whole weekend. I needed a restful time in the camper so we figured I'd camp and he'd visit.

Eleven hearty New England TCs showed up for a glorious fall weekend in Maine. Friday was cold, windy but sunny for the most part. We got the fire going early on and, with various adult beverages, managed to stay warm.

This year the ground was muddy but not ankle deep as it has been before. No one sank out of sight and had to be pulled out though Paul said his was starting to list to the side. The cattle are no longer on the farm so we had no wide eyed calves mooing at us from the fence line.

Mikeeee brought his 10x20 tent which was set up as a gathering place and a wind break. As usual we shared a lot of good food and chat about places to go and see.

I took the women up to Bath for a yarn store trip and lunch at Kennebeck Tavern on the Kennebec River. Somehow we never all made a LL Bean trip this year but managed a few crafts shops and a lot of chatter. Relaxing weekend mostly spent around the fire.

Had our usual group breakfast on Sunday which the men cooked. Too short a time but so good to be back in the TC. Unfortunately our propane furnace failed so I did end up back at the house Saturday night to sleep. Too old to enjoy a 40F degree night? Yes! Mike's torn the gas heater unit apart and we're ordering parts today. Sure is nice to know someone so knowledgeable on the inner workings of all kinds of HVAC equipment.

Tempted to leave the TC on the truck awhile longer. Who knows if there is another weekend left to the year before the deep snows arrive.

Monday, October 19, 2009

TC off for the winter

Yes the TC is off the truck for the winter and almost totally winterized. Anti-freeze is in, everything perishable out and all the linens, etc. all boxed up and put up on the bed. Only things left to do are to shut off the gas, remove the batteries and (hopefully) remember to move the license plate from the TC to the truck. F-350 goes in Wednesday for service and then into the garage with the 1/4" to spare so the door goes down.

Why so early? Why did we miss the Northeast Truck Campers fall rally in Salem, MA last weekend? Well Joe came down with a pretty bad case of cellulitis in his lower right leg and spent 13 days in the hospital. The only good thing about it was we were in familiar territory with known hospital and doctors. We could have been in a back canyon in Utah or on a beach in Oregon and had to hunt for medical that would accept retired military health insurance. We'd have found it but if a medical problem had to happen, glad we were home.

The gear we took out isn't so buried in the cellar that we couldn't load the TC back up and head out during the winter. Time will tell. He's healing very well and quickly. walking easily again and getting pretty bored with spending most of his day with his leg elevated over his heart. Lots of trips left to the wound care clinic but he'll heal given a bit of time.

So...... be careful when you are out camping. Treat any tiny cut or bug bite as a source of infection. We never found what caused Joe's cellulitis but just be careful.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wandering through PA and VA

Our fall NorthEast Truck Camper Rally was held at Western RV Park in Carlisle, PA. Chimmy and Cathy were great Wagonmasters and made everything run smoothly. We got there a day early and set up after spending a night at Cracker Barrel. how odd to say you slept at Cracker Barrel!!

Here we are all set up on quite a slope. Had to take the camper off the truck to get it level. Darryl (Headin'South) lent us a brace for the front end of the camper which stopped all wiggling. We picked up one later at Camping World. Thanks Darryl! plus those smoked oysters were great.

Lots of activities such as a dog show,

Bingo, way too many chances to sample local wine/beer, cheeses, etc. Pot luck was fun and everyone always brings their best. Five of us women even took a trip to Adam's County Winery and to a local yarn shop. Great time and since we didn't want the trip to end - we didn't.

After the Fall Carlisle PA Truck Camper rally, four of us continued on into PA and then into VA. What a joy it is to travel with like minded people who share the same things we like to do. Carlisle was a great rally and we got to meet new TCers and renew old acquaintances. We just kept on going with a bit fewer folk. It's a real joy to look ahead (or behind) and see a line of TCs riding along.

Camped overnight in Bedford, PA after stopping at a local winery. My wine of choice is single malt so the winery stops were educational. Our next stop was in Shanksville, PA at the temporary memorial to the 9/11 Flight 93 crash. That was a really sobering sight to see and made me even more appreciative of our freedoms. Plans are drawn for a permanent memorial but I wonder if part of that will be improving the farm roads to get there.

Next stop was "Falling Waters", a Frank Lloyd Wright designed house.

It was built for under $150,000 and today the operating and repair budget is over $4,000,000 a year. I loved the stone work and roof lines but it was not a house I would want to live in. Joe's head grazed the ceiling in several places and the general scale of the house was not user friendly. Gorgeous to look at but cramped to live in especially the bedrooms.

Interesting camp that night as none of our spots were any where near level and we ran out of leveling blocks and resorted to local rocks. Next day we toured "Kentuck Knob", another Frank Lloyd Wright house.

The exterior details were just perfect to fit in with the site - one of FLW's main themes in a house. The kitchen was almost laughable in size as he expected the home owner's to have most meals catered and only to serve snacks out of the kitchen. Beautiful homes to look at but living inside art must not have been fun if not functional. Our TC looked spacious after a few of the house's rooms.

We're now camped near Independence, VA at a friend of one of our TC buddies. Their summer house camp is beside a roaring brook and in a grove of old maple and oak trees. He's even built a suspension bridge over the brook.

We've had great down time with most of us reading, napping, and planning supper. Last night Chef Mikeeee cooked pork loin, steaks, and fresh veggies on our host's big BBQ grill. Life just doesn't get much better.

We're back in Maine after a great trip with good friends. Truck Camping's best benefit for us is not just the places we see, but the friends met along the way.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blueberry Hill in New Hampshire

Since returning from this summer's western jaunt, we've not used the truck camper much. We spent two weeks in VA working with the siblings cleaning out mom's condo for sale. Two weeks of way too hot weather, daily big thunderstorms, humidity enough to need a gallon of water a day - all reasons we sure do enjoy our home in Maine. We accomplished what we wanted as a family to ready the condo so even the heat was worth it.

We've just returned from Blueberry Hill Inn and Campground in North Stratford, NH. One of our truck camper friends lives nearby and found this 8 spot campground behind a B&B. It's always a great drive from Maine up into the western mountains and through the White Mountain National Forest.

We've spent so much time in our Host camper this summer, it is really easy to set it up. This time we put out the rear awning and also set up the popup tent at the end of the awning. Rob did the same so we had a big dry area during all the rain storms.

Mike brought up a 22 pound sirloin roast, fresh corn on the cob and steamer clams. Stoney brought up Mike's rotissier grill and two turkey fryer pots for the clams and veggies. Here's Mike checking the roast. It was fabulous! What a perfect summer meal with friends, beverages and a lot of chatter around the campfire.

Family Times (Jayne and Rob with their dog Lacey) set up next to us. They are really enjoying their brand new Eagle Cap truck camper. The amount of storage in this model is incredible. Rob worked with the tall steps into the Eagle Cap and built an interim step so it is easy to get into.

We're still hoping to get up to Kingsbrae Gardens in St. Andrews, New Brunswick for a camping weekend. In September we'll meet up with about 35 other truck campers for a rally in Carlisle PA and then a final small group meet in October in Salem, MA. Next week the camper goes in for re-caulking and a checkup. Love the Host and hope to keep it on the road for a long time.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

June 30 Home again, home again

June 30 - NY to Maine

Home again, home again. Never did get to go up the "Going to the Sun" road in Glacier National Park but what sights we did see. This sign is always a very welcome sight no matter how short or long we have been away.

We ended our trip by stopping in MA to see FamilyTimes new Eagle Cap TC. Sweet! Maine is in the third week of rain and we miss that western sun and heat. Great trip and five weeks flew by way to quickly. We traveled 9,636 miles, averaged 11.2 miles per gallon of diesel not horrible considering most of our trip was in the mountains. Average price per gallon was $2.67 with the lowest being $2.29 in Michigan and highest $3.20 in CA. Worth it? You betcha especially since last year's trip $4.65 per gallon.

What parts of the trip will stick with us the longest? The drive over Tioga Pass, north of Yosemite National Park and all of Rocky Mountain National Park for me. Joe says his is Olympic National Park and the views from Hurricane Ridge and also Crater Lake. We would both like to go back to Washington State and spend a month or so wandering around. I'd like to sit on Rialto Beach and watch the sunset. Never did see the type of western sunset colors we had hoped for so we'll just have to go back.

The Host Rainier truck camper and Ford F-350 worked perfectly, all systems taking a lot of abuse on rough roads. The new Michelin tires got a workout on some pretty poor roads and proved to be a good choice for us. We were thankful for our TC friend Mike Tassianari who talked us through fixing the refrigerator after being at high altitude and the thermocouple sooting up. Minor problem overall and just lack of maintenance on our part.

We didn't follow in truck camper friends Wazoo and Farctic Ox's footsteps with extreme back country camping but we stayed in many national forest and state park campgrounds. Most of the time we were pretty much alone in those parks and the quiet and utter darkness at night was fascinating. Sure is a great feeling to drive into a national park, campground or Corp of Engineers facility and either pay nothing or half price. That America the Beautiful senior pass is one of the good things about getting older. Joe calls it his "Golden Geezer Pass".

Once again I'll put all our best photos to music and burn to a DVD to bore all our TC friends and relatives.

Thanks again for all you on RV.NET who gave suggestions on places to go and things to do. We followed many of your thoughts and enjoyed them thoroughly. Hopefully we can pass on to others some of these special places. What an incredible country we are lucky to live in.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

June 27 - Iowa through Illinois to Indiana

June 27 - Iowa through Illinois to Indiana

Travel day - after looking for fossils at Devonian Fossil Gorge in the Coralville Corps of Engineers Park. None seen and fortunately the dam held while we were parked
in front of and under it.

I-80 East over the Mississippi River Bridge is closed for inspection and repair. Seems there were weak structural members and per internet, no idea of when it will be repaired and reopened. We did take I-80 from Iowa City to 280 around Davenport and then I-74 to get Peoria and red road Route 24. This route meanders through Illinois corn and soy bean fields, through myriad tiny towns and great views of America at its small town best. We plan to stay on Route 24 as long as possible as it cuts east between I-80 and I-74/I-70/ Slower? of course but a lot more scenic and almost no truck traffic. Gets pretty tense traveling in and around herds of 18 wheelers on the interstates and not much to see. Might get back on I-80 to cross Pennsylvania but not decided yet.

1,120 miles to go to home. Wonder what adventures lie between here and there?

Friday, June 26, 2009

June 25 Nebraska and June 26 Iowa

June 25 - Travel day through Nebraska Heat

Up on the road really early to try to air out the cow manure smell from the truck before the day's heat hit. Think I'm getting wimpy in my older age. Took I-76 to I-80to meet friends, one of the few interstate roads on this journey.

Today was a pure travel day other than the joy of meeting up with fellow TCers TinCanSailor and SailorsMate in Paxton, Nebraska. They were heading west from MA, we were heading east and with the miracle of GPS and cell phones we met up. We traded places to go and see and I gave Toni a lot of the brochures we had collected along the way. This is their first long trip since retirement and the TC is proving perfect for what they want to do and where they want to go. Joe and Ron did a lot of looking over each other's TCs to see that everything was working well. The seal in our toilet is slowly leaking out flush water from the bowl and no amount of cleaning will stop it. Doesn't happen all the time but enough that we'll replace the seal or ?? when we get home. They had a great time discussing tires and rims while Toni and I drank a lot of water.

Nebraska is right in the middle of the Breadbasket of America. Miles and miles and endless miles of corn, hay, and other foods we couldn't identify.

And then there are the cattle! Missed getting a photo of the main part of this stockyard since we didn't want to open the window. Got the "tail" end. We do love a good steak and can appreciate a bit more the effort to get it to us.

Tonight we are in a superb Nebraska state park, Eugene Mahoney State Park in Ashland, NE. Big trees, paved pad with manicured grass around it, full utilities plus wi-fi for $19 plus a $4 park entry fee. To get air conditioner tonight, we'd probably have paid twice that. TC when we opened it up looked like this -

It's hard to find an out of the way, safe place to run a portable generator all night so we chose to go for power. We even went over to the Lodge and had the buffet for dinner. US Air Force SAC museum is at the park entry so we'll go through there before leaving Nebraska tomorrow headed into Iowa.

June 26 - Iowa

Travel day in heat but overcast so it only got to 85F instead of 98F. We stay on red roads as much as possible but due to construction had to get travel I-80 a bit today.
The thundering 18 wheelers just get a bit too much after awhile.

There are hundreds of these huge windmills lined up in rows like a checkerboard. They
are adding even more as we saw a lot of the big vanes on flatbeds once we had to get back on I-80 for a bit. Many of the smaller country roads are being repaired. Thanks to Delorme GPS software we usually can figure out an easy way around the detours.

We stopped in Newton, Iowa at the Maytag Blue Cheese Farm.

Never had any idea of how blue cheese was made. We watched a film on the process and then took a tour of this immaculate small facility where all the employees looked like they were contented like the 200 head of Guernsey cows that provide the milk. happy people, great samples and we left with Havarti, Munster, and of course - blue cheese. This blue is nothing like what you can get in a grocery store. Smooth, creamy
and strong but not overpowering.

Tonight we are in the Corps of Engineers campground at Coralville Lake, Linder Point. Another great bargain at $8.00 with the old geezer pass as Joe calls his Golden Age access pass to federal facilities. Quiet, clean, electricity for the AC (86F is still hot) and some beautiful trails we walked down to the lake. Tomorrow we will go see the Devonian Fossil Gorge and then head further east. Looks like we are headed home and the total wandering has stopped. We'll wander a bit more but the line home is getting straighter.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

June 24 - Rocky Mountain National Park

June 24 - Rocky Mountain National Park

Today was a mountain and elk day combined. This morning at the North Fork Campground in the NFS we were awakened by bugling elk. Cool! From where we were in the White Mountain National Forest to Yampa, CO was 50 miles of gravel road. This road was in
better shape than a lot of interstate highways we've been on. Saw several small
groups of elk and a lot of beautiful scenery. Elk are huge animals and move so
gracefully and quickly. Their dark brown color blends pretty well with the big trees
so once they run out of the meadows, it's hard to spot them.

From Yampa we went to Grand Lake via Routes 40 and 34 into the Rocky Mountain
National Park. You can see the Rockies from quite a ways away and they were just
glowing with snow on the top in the bright sunshine. Along the way, we saw many
miles of dead lodge pole pines with some new growth of trees around them and between
the groves of aspen. A ranger told us the dead trees were from the pine bark beetle.
There hasn't been a big fire in RMNP since the 1880s and the older trees get stressed
and infested. Fire normally controls these beetles. The park service no longer tries
to prevent forest fires as fire is a natural pattern of renewal in the forests. One
day this corner of Colorado is going to be ablaze. Some of the trees are being cut
and used but no way could you ever remove them all. You can see the dead pines behind
this elk.

Just as we entered the park there was an "elk jam", a traffic jam caused by people
stopping in the middle of the road to view a herd of elk. Managed to get through the
crowd and then had the road to ourselves for a long time. Up and up and UP we went,
finally maxing out at 12,100 feet. Many, many 15mph U turn curves with no drop off
rails up there and we took it slow and steady.

Hated to leave this park and the scenery but finally drove out through Estes Park and
back to Route 34 over to Fort Morgan. Look at this "boring" road we travel led out of
Estes Park.

We were headed for Fort Morgan town park which has spots for RVs with electricity for
a donation. For some reason it just didn't feel "safe" so we moved on in search of a
better spot - and ended up with our first Walmart (and last?)

For those of you who have never been by a cattle yard there is no way to describe the
smell. Think of an open septic syst We'd planned on staying in the Fort Morem in 90F
heat and you might have a clue. If you like beef, be grateful to these cattlemen but
hold your breath. The old romantic image of cowboys out on the pristine range has
given way to more commercial feeding in the lots. Last night was our first Walmart
camp over and we had to move the truck during the night as an empty cattle hauler 18
wheeler came in to park nearby.

Mike T - the refrigerator thermocouple didn't soot up even at over 12,000 feet.
Fridge is working great.

Tomorrow we head on east to Kearney, Nebraska and a museum on pioneer life. We're
trying to catch up with TinCanSailor and Sailorsmate who were in North Platte. Two
TCs from New England passing east/west should be able to catch up with each other
with cell phones and GPS right?

p.s. Writing this June 25 as we drive down I-76 towards a meet up with our TC
friends. My eyes are actually watering from the cattle poop smell.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

June 23 Provo to Flat Tops Scenic Byway, CO

June 23 Provo to Flat Tops Scenic Byway, CO

Mostly a travel day with several stops to see dinosaur digs and take a lot of back roads and scenic byways.

Dinosaur National Monument in Jensen, UT had few exhibits and no park maps available. They explained that to get up into the campgrounds near the Green River we would have to have a "high clearance" vehicle but they couldn't explain what that meant. We argued a bit but finally wandered on down to Dinosaur, CO where they also had no park maps (budget cuts?) and very few exhibits. We started up the 30 mile trail into the Green River but quickly turned back as the road was washboard and not a lot of fun. Not knowing exactly where we would end up and having been to a lot of dinosaur digs last year in Utah, we decided to forge onward. Don't mind not knowing where I'm going but would like some sort of activity at the end.

We hit the back county Roads 61 and 64 towards Meeker, CO. Amazing amount of mining and natural gas trucks use these tiny back roads.

They are tandem so we moved over a lot like we do in Maine for the logging trucks. The White River runs along this valley and it has ranches, hay fields and a lot of orchards right beside the red rocks we associate with desert and high country. Altitude was mostly around 6500 feet all day.

Stopped in Meeker to look at the town park for an overnight. Just not inviting when those high mountains kept calling with the river and elk and birds. Kept going into the Flat Tops Trail National Forest and State of Colorado Scenic Byway (county road 8), going by even bigger ranches, huge log homes up on the sides of the mountains and a lot of elk grazing in the fields and by the roadside.

We're camped in North Fork unit of the NFS. About 35 sites and there is only a tent here other than us. The aspens around us are stark white and the firs make a deep green contrast. No sound except for the birds and leaves rustling. Can sit outside without being drenched in bug spray for a change.

Tomorrow we head on towards Rocky Mountain National Park.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

June 21 Tioga Pass CA and June 22 Provo UT

June 21 - Summer Solstice and Tioga Pass

We finally found one of the most scenic, fun to drive roads in the USA. If you are ever near Yosemite, you have to make the Tioga Pass run. We saw more TCs on this road
than any other yet. Many were pulling boats, many had kayaks and a lot had people
beside them putting on mountain climbing gear. All the small primitive campgrounds in
this area were full.

Left Yosemite early to avoid most of the incoming tourists (like we aren't?) and
headed up Route 41 to route 120 which is called Tioga Pass. What an incredible ride.
You climb from the water falls and domes of Yosemite and go up into Sequoia trees
along snow covered trails. As you ascend, the road gets steeper and twistier but
there are good pull out spots all along to let faster vehicles go by. We stopped for
many photos and walks up into the forests.

Tuolomne Meadows was a high open meadow nestled in the center of miles of molten rock that looked like waves on the sand. Tenaya Lake was so crystal clear you could see the bottom for a long way out. It was freezing cold water as there is still lots of snow up on the peaks and in shadowed valleys.

All good roads eventually end and Tioga did as we came out to Lee Vining CA and some
much needed diesel. $3.19 a gallon but we were sucking fumes so needed it. Stopped
for lunch at Mono Lake Tufa Reserve -Tufa not Tofu. Tufa are fresh water vents that
have petrified and left as rock formations when the level of Mono Lake was dropped.

At Benton we left Route 120 and started off on Route 6. This dead straight road goes
through totally uninhabited country. Most of the land is semi-desert, open cattle
range and home to herds of horses. We assumed the horses were wild since this is BLM
land. At one point, we went 25 miles before a car came the other way. We were headed
to Tonapah to a free campsite but Joe felt Tonapah was the model for an Apocolypse
movie so we wandered on. It was close to a wrecked ghost town and not very inviting

Humbolt National Forest, Ward Mountain just south of Ely, NV was our stopping place
for the night. There were only two other campers in this entire park, beautiful place
with small twisted cedars and many lizards. As we were setting up for the evening, we
noticed the check light on the refrigerator was on and ,yes, it was not working.
Since we read RV.NET and had seen others have this problem, we knew it was probably
associated with being over 10,000 feet. Do you think we could get it lit? No way.
Good friend Mike Tassinari was home, cell phone worked, and Mike talked us through
lightly sandpapering the thermocouple. Tiny piece of metal stuck way in the far
almost unreachable corner of the refrigerator mechinicism but finally got it cleaned
and the frig lit off well on propane. Thanks again Mikeeee. We owe you a case of
Klondike Bars. Since we are headed even higher in altitude in the Rocky Mountain
National Park, good trick to know.

Awesome trip so far, so much to see and walk through. We aren't really campers, we
are travellers and what a country to travel through. Tomorrow we head up near Provo
and then cut east to the Rockies.

June 22 - NV to Provo, UT

Today was a travel day and a day to catch up on laundry, groceries and cleaning up the exterior of the TC. A botanist would have been in love with the layers of bugs on the nosecone - but all gone now. We're now beside the Provo River in Provo Lake Park enjoying a beautiful sunset and a steak dinner. Time to get a new grill when we get home. This one is falling apart!

We did stop along Route 6 coming from Nevada into Utah to see several old mines and the equipment that was left behind. A lot of tiny towns on this route have dried up and just left carcasses behind of what was once a pretty busy town.

Also stopped at the Baker Archeological Dig which is an excavation of a Freemont Indian village. When you look around from where the wall outlines are, you realize how exposed to the elements and animals these people were.

Provo is a big city and we are anxious to get back into the back roads again tomorrow. We missed some of the dinosaur museum last year when we were in Utah, so are going to try to catch them this time.

Monday, June 22, 2009

June 19 - Jackson, CA to Yosemite National Park

June 19 - Jackson, CA to Yosemite National Park

Today was a rock and roll day. California Route 49 is a real treasure for those of
you who like tight curves, steep ups and downs and who don't get carsick. It is a
fascinating road with a lot of pullouts with markers of historic places and events,
beautiful sights out over ranch country and tiny towns all along the way. There are
vast stretches where there is absolutely nothing but the road in front of you and
steep hills, dropoffs and a few cattle - no people or vehicles. We went through San
Andreas hoping for some signage to the fault line if this is actually where the San
Andreas Fault gets its name from. I know the fault line is actually visible in parts
of CA and was hoping to see it. At least it didn't split open in front of us.

In several small towns, we stopped and walked the old main streets, enjoying the
early frontier architecture and watching all the river rafters stock up on supplies.
This is big business in the small towns all along these rough, small rivers. I kept
expecting to see kayaks but mostly there were the large rubber rafts.

Stopped in Mariposa and walked that town, finding Castillo's Mexican Restaurant for
lunch. At last - great food and what we think was authentic flavoring. Maine is not
exactly a hot bed for Mexican food, flavors there being pretty bland and all tasting
the same. This was not bland and definitely not flat. My tongue is still tingling
from the salsa.

We had not planned on going to Yosemite National Park and therefore didn't make reservations. Of course all campgrounds in Yosemite are full so we found camp space
in Mariposa. Off comes the Host, first time since we left Maine.

An audience gathered of course to see how the truck camper came off. Always fun to
explain the fastguns, legs, etc. Off we go in the naked F350 to Bridalveil Falls and
Glacier Point. The Ford feels like a sports car without the TC weight.

Prior to El Portal, a landslide had totally closed the road and gone out halfway
across the Merced River. Two temporary bridges make a detour around the slide. IT's
going to be a long, long time before the original road is open if ever. The rockslide
went half way up the mountain like part of the side of the mountain had just

Along the way to Yosemite, there are many rock overhangs. No signs of RV debris so
they must be tall and wide enough.

Bridalveil Falls is the first real glimpse you get of what Yosemite is about and it
is awesome. After only three circles in the small parking lot, we finally squeezed in
a legal space as the park ranger was busy writing tickets for the idiots who had
parked everywhere. We must have heard a dozen different languages walking up to the
view point but once there, everyone sort of falls silent as they look.

We decided to go up to Glacier Point today and save the valley floor for tomorrow.
Weather was 90F as we entered the park and 63F up at Glacier Point. No way to
describe the view all along the way and up at the end of the 16 mile dead end road.

Met a Caribou TC couple from Bend, OR who really want a Host and asked us a lot of
questions. Shame we were TCless. Saw many pop up TCs and way, way too many of those
Rent-an-RVs driven by people who probably have never even driven a pickup. Scary when
you are looking down the side of a cliff and see one of those things barreling
towards you over the middle line. I kept thinking of Robin Williams and the movie "RV". Shudder.

Great day. We are both very tired from a lot of intense driving, town walking and a
couple of the smaller trails up at Glacier Point. This view was all along our walks.

Tomorrow Yosemite Valley floor and then we will turn eastward.

June 20 - Yosemite Valley

Today we planned on playing tourist and taking a guided tour of the part of Yosemite
Valley that you cannot drive into. Wrong!!! We had to pick this weekend to come to
Yosemite. It was "Free Weekend" with no entrance fees so of course there were traffic
jams, no parking, and a lot of very overworked rangers playing traffic cop. We missed
a two hour tour by one seat - meaning there was one left rather than two but it was
okay because by then we were on edge from all the people. Isn't that the problem with
being a TCer? You get so used to the back roads, out of the way places, that if you
encounter crowds, it's a bit of a bother.

We did finally find a parking place in a far off lot (truck only, not TC loaded) and
took the shuttle bus over to the Visitor Center. We wanted to see the Ansel Adams
exhibit (fantastic) and watch the 20 minute film on how the park was formed. Both
were excellent but by then, the elbow to elbow crowd was enough. Shuttle buses were
packed so walked back to the truck and left.

Fortunately we were able to find a parking space along several of the open meadows
and walk there on the paths and boardwalks. We also watched climbers going up El
Capitan through our binoculars. Oh to be young and fearless?

Got a good photo today of the landslide over Route 140.

Went into Mariposa and walked the street(s) again going into a lot of the small
shops. So many of the small towns have vacant buildings, businesses and houses.
Recession is hitting hard in the tourist areas. Maybe that is why Yosemite was so
busy today. Free means a lot to a family.

The TC is loaded on again (first try!), fridge has some Tecate Beer cooling and we
are going over the next leg of our trip. We are going east on Route 120 which
is the Tioga Pass Road. A ranger today gave us some good places to take off this road
for incredible views. I'll start a new message group on going east in hopes of
picking up more places that have to be seen and roads that have to be driven.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

June 17 and 18 - Redwoods to Whiskeytown Lake to Jackson, CA

June 17 and 18 - Redwoods to Whiskeytown Lake to Jackson, CA

Long day today but worth the time. After spending more time walking in Jedediah Smith Redwoods we headed south on Route 101, the Redwood Highway, to intersect with the Newton Drury Scenic Road. We had stopped in Klamath at a ranger station to clarify the meaning of "no trailers on this road". No one there and the three rangers took a lot of time explaining why no trailers on unmaintained pothole back roads. They did point out several they felt the TC could handle without rocking so much it tore the cabinets out of the wall. Someone recently tried to sue the NFS for rough roads, hopefully not a TCer.

Newton Drury road goes right through a redwood forest for miles with many turnouts and trails to walk. We were mostly all alone walking through these giants, with only bird calls and the sound of dripping water around us.

Stoppepd and saw the biggest redwood named Big Tree - Diameter 21 1/2 feet, 304 feet tall and 1500 years old. Lunch was enjoyed while watching a herd of elk grazing.

Back on Route 101 we drove just about straight up to the Lady Bird Johnson redwood area. I think the grade was about 15% or so it felt and no good place to park at the top so we just pulled into a grass area and took a short walk.

Beaches everywhere on 101 as we continued south. We really enjoyed the sand at Clam Beach since it was the closest we'd seen to Northeastern sand beaches. No we didn't try to dig clams.

Finally cut east headed in the general direction of Yosemite. I'd already called and there are no reservations to be had there except first come but we are going to try it anyway. Route 299 is another mountain, twisty, turny, up, down, sideways road with log trucks and terrified drivers. Again, fabulous scenery but if you get carsick, don't go there. Not many places to cut east/west in northern CA which is similar to ME/NH/VT. Took hours to go from Blue Lake to just before Whiskeyville. We're "camped" or should I say parked in the Oak Creek National campground RV section. It consists of nine spots lined out on the edge of a huge paved parking lot where the boaters put their trucks and boat trailers. Hey - it was $7.00, we couldn't have driven any further and it's clean and quiet. Joe just finished cooking a steak and all is right with the world.

Tomorrow, we head towards Yosemite.

June 18 - Whiskeytown to Jackson, CA

Did you all hear me screaming today? Oh Reddog1, you live in this general area. How on earth do you travel these roads all the time. These are the tightest, steepest, closest together curves we've traveled in almost 5,500 miles.

First group came south of Auburn, CA on Route 49/193. If we were to get carsick this would have done it. However..... once we got on Route 89 there were a series that made Route 49 look like a straight away. Hats off to any of you who travel these roads as a commute.

Today was a travel day, planned as such. We are headed to Yosemite and have reservations for Friday and Saturday night. Figured we'd get a good part of the mileage done today.

Now I can understand why so much of CA burns often. All along our route today we saw vast fields of dry grass that had to be knee high.

Folks we talked to said they hadn't had a bad grass fire for 30 years, that most of the big fires are south of here. No idea how a fire here would ever be stopped as the dry grass goes for endless miles.

Tonight we splurged especially after our $7 asphalt campsite last night. We are in "Jackson Rancheria RV Park" in Jackson, CA. Plush, not expensive but we are the only TC here. Lots of those huge bus sizes, 5th wheels and a few travel trailers. The RV Park has a mandated black water dump as you enter. They do it and give you a bio friendly black tank treatment bottle. We're going to take the shuttle bus over to the casino and watch people throw money away. Good chance to catch up on TC chores and, since it is 94F degrees, we're going to enjoy the electricity tonight with AC.

Tomorrow - on to Yosemite where we will take the TC off and enjoy exploring for a couple of days.