Over Tioga Pass and Back--At Last!

We have been talking and talking about going over Tioga Pass ever since we got the RV, over 5 years ago. We haven't done it till now as we are usually traveling out of state OR enjoying summer off the road, letting the families and foreign tourists have at the national parks we so treasure visiting OFF SEASON. Oh well, we jumped into the high season fray this year, as we realized we were just never going to get to Bodie State Historic Park if we didn't go in the summertime, so off we went for a very quick trip to the mountains.

Total Miles: 1,127

Number of Nights: 4. Camping fees: $50, $16, $14, $40 (commercial, county, fed, state), for a $30 average

Temperature Extremes: Low 40, High 105. AC/reflectix as well as heater were required.

Best Road Food: Lobster Taquitos at the Whoa Nelly Deli

RV Maintenance: Absolutely none. We had just (earlier in July) had the 80,000 mile maintenance done at the Mercedes dealer (brakes, oil, fuel filter, transmission--the works!) AND a major maintenance at our favorite RV service shop in San Jose. Finally go that pesky leak fixed properly, along with a wash and wax, and many other tune ups to all the appliances and systems.

First On-the-Road Medical Emergency: Julie contracted a bacterial infection (cellulitis) on Wednesday night along her (well, my) calf. On the drive home Friday, the darn thing was really a burning, oozing mess, so I called my doc to see what I ought to do. She said, START ANTIBIOTICS ASAP. And she meant it. Once I had a name for the condition, I looked it up. I had just thought it was a bad spider bite. Eek. Glad I didn't put this off longer, or I may have had to go into the hospital for IV antibiotics; turns out these critters can actually kill you, if left to their own devices.


Monday: Yosemite/Mariposa KOA. As is our usual practice, we leave late in the day (this time because we had a dinner party for 8 on Sunday night and hadn't had time to finish loading the RV), drive 3-4 hours, and stay at a full-service campground on the first night out to work out the kinks. This time, we also did it to fill up with fresh water so that we could boondock the rest of the week. Given the drought and the cost of water at home, this seemed a good idea. The place was only OK; just full of European tourists (who, as a rule, tend to keep to themselves; not as much fun....) AND full of burrs that poor Bago needed to avoid. Shan't return here.

Tuesday: Drove through Yosemite on Highway 120--an absolutely GORGEOUS drive--all the way to that fabulous Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining, where we had THE finest gourmet lunch in a gas station that is to be found anywhere, I'm sure. We were ravenous, as we got there much later than we had expected, due to lots and lots of 20-30 minute road construction delays. So, we changed our plans for the afternoon and visited Mono Lake, instead of heading to Bodie. Thank goodness for THAT decision, given the exhausting trip to/from Bodie. Tuesday night we stayed at Lundy Lake Campground, north of Lee Vining, in order to be closer to Bodie. Funky campground (no signage!), but very beautiful and Bago got to take a dip in the Lundy Creek. We also got to read some scary signs we hadn't seen before:
WARNING: Bubonic Plague Present in Rodents
WARNING: You are camping downstream of a dam. In the event of an earthquake....

Wednesday: Headed up to Bodie bright and early, thank goodness. We were able to get a good parking spot and walk around in the relatively cool morning and not have too much traffic on the way in, over that hellacious washboard rock road. (The way out was very busy and dusty, but at least we knew what we were doing on that trip.) Camped at the most delicious spot that night--Lower Lee Vining Campground--next to the friendliest families, who invited us over to their bonfire and tried to persuade us to stay another night. They come up and stay for the 14-night limit every summer; we can see why. Bago loved it there, too (another creek swim) but we had to make our way back home on Thursday.

Thursday: Returned over Tioga Pass (much steeper heading west!), encountered even more traffic delays at the NP gate, so ended up in Mariposa around 2:30ish. We debated about whether to try to make it home that night (it was SO hot!) or stay in Mariposa again. After checking out the options, we decided to keep driving. No point in stopping at 3:30 in a hot, shadeless, grassless place. What would there be to do? So we headed for Millerton Lake State Recreation Area, down 49 in the Central Valley. Also hot, but at least on a lake. Bago got a dip when the rangers weren't looking....

Friday: We got home early enough in the day for me to visit the pharmacist and for Lisa, poor girl, to do all the unloading, since I was supposed to keep my swollen, infected leg elevated. All in all, a good (if short) trip to some beautiful country. We really do need to go up to the Sierras more often, and I really do need to wear long pants when we hike!

And P.S. Thank goodness we missed the wildfire that started on SATURDAY in Yosemite, closing off Highway 120. If we had had to turn around and "go around" the Sierras, we would've had to go 511 miles (instead of 266) to get home! Here's a shot of the fire a week later, taken when I was flying home from Florida.

2014 V/N Rally in Oregon: Trip Summary

Trip Theme: National Skinnie Winnie Rally

Total Miles1,472 miles

Number of Nights: 11

Average Camping Fee: 36.26 (but that included 6 nights of VERY nice resort camping!)

Trip Overview:

May 16: First night out, as usual, only a few hours away. Tried Cal-Expo in Sacramento; only so-so. We tried it based on glowing reviews (and dog park, which isn't very big), but think we'll stay with the Sacto KOA for northbound trips.

May 17: What are the odds? Pulled into Friendly RV in Weed, CA rather late in the day for us because we spent most of the day in Redding at Camping World, trying to get a leak repaired. Campground was practically empty. Manager puts us in a site next to another V/N. Guess who's in that RV? Our rally co-hosts, who then proceed to make us dinner! Such a happy coincidence.

May 18: Had another great visit to Medford and the Jacksonville area. Stocked up on rally food (and Abecela Tempranillo!) at Costco, visited the city dog park again, and met up with an old friend for cheese tasting and lunch at the Rogue Creamery. Wow--that smoked blue cheese is going to be a hit when we give it for Christmas this year. Laid up short of the rally site at Valley of the Rogue State Park--a very nice park just off I-5.

May 19-23: The View/Navion National Rally at Seven Feathers RV Resort. A few pix:

Lisa and co-host chilling before the first presentation of the rally

Lynn and Claudia's collection of V/N rally stickers

Co-host Dave introducing Russ Garfin of Winnebago Industries

Russ explaining the new 2015 line up and taking heat from the assembled owners over various product design choices (!).

The first night's entertainment: native drummers.

And, yes, this one WAS an intruder in our line up. (He snagged a cancellation's spot.)

May 23-24: Turtle Rock Resort at Gold Beach, Oregon. An awesome idea for an RV park: private deck with a BBQ and hot tub in our site, plus an easy walk to the beach (and the turtle rock):

May 25: Crossed the Trinity Alps. Quite the winding and hilly experience. Didn't see Bigfoot, but we did luck into a great $10/night spot right on the high-water Trinity River on a holiday weekend. Gorgeous! Had to keep the leash on Bago, though, as that river was really rushing. Had to reel him in once when he went too far in....

Pretty nice spot for dinner and a fire. I liked this campground's strategy on firewood: $5 for as much as you could haul in the provided wheelbarrow.

May 26: Laid up close to home at Casa de Fruta RV Resort because we needed to dump and wanted to get home early in the day to unload, not in the evening when exhausted. Campground was a nightmare after the 3-day weekend, though. Trash everywhere (which of course Bago found and ate.....).

New Parks: While we liked the BLM campground in Douglas, I'm not sure we want to drive that road again! Next time, for some mountain experience, we'll try the campgrounds in the Whiskeytown NRA, which isn't too far off I-5. And of course we'd go back to Seven Feathers again (and probably will in September of this year).

RV Maintenance: Oy, the darn gray tank leak that we thought we had fixed, after spending many hours at the Redding Camping World. We had to manage that leak the whole darn trip. So much for trying a new RV repair place in Salinas before this trip; that fellow did fix one problem, but caused this other one....

Novel Medical Treatment: I think this speaks for itself.

Quartzsite: We Finally Made It!

January 2014
On our way down to the annual View/Navion Tech rally in Quartzsite (which I have managed to avoid for 5 years now), we had a CEL (check engine light) come on. Now, going to a Tech Rally, where all the engineer types are, is a good time to have a CEL. Because the light was on solid, not flashing, we knew it was OK to drive, so we carried on to Q after overnighting in Palm Desert (Sam's Family Spa--not a place I wish to return). Had a fun two days in Q, but that was quite enough (good Lord, the number of RVs has to bee seen to be believed. Look here.) then hotfooted it back (Q thru LA to Morro Bay, then Morro Bay to home) so that we could get the CEL addressed by Mercedes the DAY before our warranty expired. Good thing, too, as a glow plug needed to be replaced, and we've heard that this can be pricey.

Missed the Yuma detour to see Uncle Joe, though :-(  Happy to have scored some awesome Santa Maria BBQ this time, though. Must go back (if we could remember its name, doggone it)--it was off 101 along Highway 1 toward Morro Bay. Very nice young people running it. Found it via Yelp (but cannot find it again!).

RV Rally Scouting Trip #2

After striking out last summer finding an RV rally site in the Rockies, we decided to check out Seven Feathers RV Resort Campground in Canyonville, Oregon, based on a number of fellow Skinnie Winnie recommendations.

Trip Route:

  • Home to Sacramento (the West Sacramento KOA--only OK, as KOAs are, but nice dog park)
  • Lassen National Park: thanks, government shutdown. We only got to stay one night, but we did get to walk the Bumpass Hell trail.
  • Seven Feathers: Well, this is IT! Our rally site. Great place, great people, convenient location, and BIG.
  • Mount Shasta, CA: that mountain is just jaw-dropping.
  • Quincy, CA: another rally candidate stricken from the list
  • Vacaville, CA: laying up before heading home

Didn't take too many pix on this quick trip, but here are a few: