Monday, October 15, 2018

Day 31 - Lodi, CA

A potentially stressful driving turned out to be not bad. Traffic wasn't horrible and the drivers were much more courteous, as a whole, than Oregon. One notable incident was when the right lane needed to merge into the left, and there was a continuous stream of cars, a Mini flashed its light telling me to go ahead in front of him. Kind of took me by surprise.

The only reason for stopping at Lodi was that it was about halfway between Cloverdale and Yosemite National Park. I used the Passport America app and found a nice glamping location with full hookups. By being a Passport America member, we got 50% off. For this park, that was a $65 savings for the next two days.

We did check out the pool and hot tub. The pool was unheated and very cold and the hot tub was borderline too hot at 102°F. But we had a nice talk with a full-time RVer originally from San Diego. The park is all concrete but all of the sites are level and there is a 2.8 acre enclosed dog park. The place is covered with solar panels and I'd be curious to know how much of their power is from the panels. You can see some panels on the roof in the picture but that is but a tiny fraction of the panels. Not a campground but I really don’t mind it at all. The place was almost deserted when we arrived but by evening, we are surrounded by big class A RVs. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Day 30 - Cloverdale, CA - TT

It’s been a month since we left Fairbanks and it feels like we just got started on this trip. I’m liking the slower travel though we may need to try to not be in “vacation mode”. This is when you feel like you need to see or do something every day that you’re not traveling. More along the lines of living in different locations. Daily activities don’t have to change much from when we are at home. It may take a while to get properly adjusted.

This is our last day at the Russian River RV Park which is a Thousand Trails campground. No real complaints except that the only dump station wasn't available when we first arrived. It's working now. Also, the bathrooms aren't as nice as some other campgrounds but since we don't use them, it's not a big deal. We are in sort of an in-between climate where the furnace runs at night and the air conditioner is on during the day. I initially thought that we were in a sunny enough spot to do an equalization on the golf cart batteries. But the amount of time that all of the panels are receiving full sunlight is pretty minimal. I went up on the roof to clean the panels (window cleaner and paper towels) and only one panel had no shading. From testing by others, 10% shading is sufficient to cut the power from the panel to nil.

I am finally getting around to trying out one of our appliances for the first time. The propane oven. Last summer, it was too hot to even use the stove but I think it may be fine, today, to use the oven. I lit the pilot this morning. No problem there. Now I have it at 375°F but since I don't have an oven thermometer with me, I used the infrared thermometer that I use to check the hub temperature. No fancy baked goods. Just baked potatoes not made in the microwave. The dial on the oven is close enough. The sides of the oven are 362°F but the pizza stone on the bottom is a toast 425°F. We'll see how this works out.

The only trip today was running to the gas station to get some of that $4.16/gallon fuel. BTW, in case you're wondering, regular gas is around 25¢ cheaper but premium gas is the same as diesel. Still really expensive. Some of the most expensive on our trip. Even the Yukon Territory was $4.07/gallon after you adjust for the exchange rate. In Canada, diesel was usually cheaper than regular gas and premium was rarely available. It's always easier to fill up the truck without the trailer. Since all of our upcoming travel days are going to be under a full tank, filling up the day or evening before a travel day will be preferred. Tomorrow, we will be traveling around 130 miles to Lodi, CA, according to Google Maps. I think the RV GPS has us on a slightly longer route to avoid some of the mountain roads. But either way, I think that we will be going through the fringes of the bay area.

Lodi is a smallish town roughly the same population as Fairbanks just a bit north of Stockton, CA. I ordered another key fob for the truck through Amazon and will be trying out the Amazon Locker in Stockton. I've been wanting to try one out ever since I first heard about them. More about that in a later post...

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Day 29 - Charles Schultz Museum

Today, we ventured into Santa Rosa. A town about 40 miles south of the Russian River RV park. The first stop was the Charles Schultz Museum and Research Center which is built in the area where he had lived and worked. His office, favorite cafe and ice rink are all on the property. This wall of tiles dominates the entry hall of the museum and if you look at the second picture, you can see that it is made of tiles of Peanuts comic strips. The same tiles are used in other parts of the building including the restrooms.

Most of the first floor of the museum are comic strips showing the progression of different characters through the years with a large section on Snoopy. Quite a change through the years. There were other comics featured that had an influence on Charles Schultz through the years.

His office was moved into the museum as well as an entire wall from his daughter's bedroom that he had painted with characters. This wall had been repainted numerous times by subsequent owners of the house until one owner discovered it and carefully removed the layers of paint. When she heard about the museum, she donated the entire wall.

Outside of the museum on the path to the ice rink is the Peanuts version of Abbey Road. The artwork is flat and must be viewed from a specific spot to get the perspective right. Charles Schultz was an avid hockey player and played a large part in the development of ice sports in Santa Rosa. There are quite a few signatures in the concrete in front of the building by famous skaters.

Behind the museum, they are developing an education center and this is the "Under Construction" statue of Charlie Brown right in front of the construction fence. The garden was a nice place to sit and relax in the 75°F afternoon especially since I was the only one out there. Part of the upstairs display was his last comic strip. It mentioned that it would be the final strip due to health reasons. Shortly after it was penned, he died in his sleep the night before the last strip was to be published.

I had initially taken this photo when we arrived but discovered that the autofocus on the lens was turned off. Not sure how that happened or when. All of these photos were taken by the DSLR mostly for simplicity. It has fewer megapixels than the iPhone but a real zoom lens and better in low light. I thought that it would work better inside of the building.

Adjacent to the ice rink, there was a shop that had a lot of Peanuts memorabilia and hockey gear. How's that for an odd combination. We also stopped at the cafe but beyond the touristy prices, there was little that distinguished it.

After the museum, we headed for Petco and Walmart and arrived back at the trailer around 4:00. Long enough in the weekend traffic.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Day 28 - Cloverdale, CA - TT

We ventured out to the geothermal power company’s visitors center following the Garmin GPS directions. It was set to non-RV mode. Apparently, the fastest route was down a narrow, winding road with broken pavement. It degraded to washboard dirt after about ten miles and was rarely more than one lane wide. 4WD was used on some of the steep downhill sections to prevent the rear axle hopping on the washboard roads while trying to slow down with engine braking. This allows the front wheels to slow down the truck. Winding between trees and along cliffs, there were some great views of the surrounding farms and vineyards. We got there without incident.

This is a steam turbine blade on display at the visitors center. Back in the day, geothermal power was being demonstrated here but it couldn't compete with coal or oil. It is now producing about 1,500 megawatts. I had looked into a tour but they were all sold out for the year. Next time we are planning to be in the area, I'll look into it earlier.

We then headed to Calistoga as there was an attraction listed as "Old Faithful Geyser". It was, of course, a private tourist attraction that wanted $14 per person to go in. We opted to skip it as it doesn't look that impressive based on photos on the Internet. After lunch in Calistoga at a bar and grill, we went to the petrified forest. Also a tourist attraction. Bridget went in so you will have to check out her blog post for info. BTW, the hamburger was listed as being selected as the best burger in Calistoga. I won't argue with that. Basil aioli, fresh mozzarella, grilled red onions, fried prosciutto...

BTW, we hit 90°F today while headed back to Cloverdale. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Day 27 - Cloverdale, CA - TT

A relatively short driving day to the Russian River TT just north of Cloverdale, CA. This place is still more campground than RV Park but closer to RV park than either Sunriver or Florence. The sites are closer together but not slide to slide like some places. We arrived about 12:15 and there weren't that many spaces long enough for us to fit but we did find something that'll work. After lunch, we walked down to the river and it looks like, to me, that the water is kind of low.

We are going to be here for three full days and four nights. We did check out the little store/activity center. There is WiFi at the activity center but none in the campground area. But we get a decent Verizon signal so we'll probably just use that while we are here. I have a WebEx meeting this evening so that may be a test. It's the Arctic Amateur Radio Club board meeting. I volunteered for the board since I have time for these things.

All of the sites are 30 amp + water. No full hookups and the dump station is down for maintenance. That just means that we find full hookups next Monday. We did hit 75°F on the road today. It's getting warmer...

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Day 26 - Avenue of the Giants

We are continuing to stay at the Richardson Grove RV Park and we backtracked about 45 miles to the north entrance of the Avenue of the Giants. This is a scenic road that parallels Hwy 101 for about 30 miles or so and winds through multiple groves of giant redwood trees. About halfway through, we stopped at the visitors center at Humbolt Redwoods State Park. This was taken in front of the visitors center looking north.

There was a short nature loop trail across the street. It was challenging to find the trail as there wasn't a lot of undergrowth. I liked the hollow center of this root ball. And this shows how shallow the root system of these massive trees are. They don't go very deep.

Fill-in flash was used as it would've been a long-ish exposure even in the middle of the day. Using ISO 400, it would've been 1/6th of a second. There were a couple of other visitors measuring the circumference of some of the trees looking for the largest one that they could get to. I believe they said that this one was 65 feet.

It is hard to really for any picture to get the size of these trees. Kind of like a picture of the Grand Canyon ends up looking like a painting. No sense of depth. We did stop at the drive-through tree but they wanted $8 for the privilege of driving through. We didn't go there. We did end up giving the state $7 to park at the picnic area. BTW, this is the most we've spent on diesel. It's about the same as the Yukon Territory at $4.16/gallon. I'm told that there are a lot of taxes...

This log "RV" was on display in the visitors center. It was carved out of a single 22' section of a log back in 1917 or thereabouts. It is mounted on a Nash chassis with solid rubber tires on solid iron wheels.

Here is a photo of a display giving a little more information about the Travel-Log.

Now, on to a completely unrelated topic. This is the first time since I took the RV out of storage that the solar panels were unshaded for part of the day. Until this campground, we were always under a lot of trees. Here, there is shade for most of the day but we received full sun in the morning. And the batteries were fully charged by mid-morning. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Day 25 - Garberville, CA

Today was a long-ish driving day at 249 miles. We left in the fog/drizzle/heavy mist and hit the mid-70s by mid-afternoon. We are at Richardson Grove RV Park which is just south of the Richardson Grove State Park and right across the street from the Grandfather Tree tourist attraction. This area is full of touristy things. We must have passed dozens of chainsaw carving shops, myrtlewood gift shops, and sea lion everything. I guess tourism is big here. Another notable thing is that fuel is over $1 more per gallon than Oregon which was already higher than Washington.

Nothing very fancy with the RV site. But, they gave us the Passport America discount which is 50% off. That makes it a good deal even though I did have to pay for Internet access. BTW, the Internet is from the community network and not provided by the campground. We went into Garberville to get some groceries and look for a restaurant. We struck out on finding a restaurant. Just a couple of coffee places. We ended up getting food from the grocery store deli.

I think that I figured out the SWConnect issue. Within the setup portion of the app, there is an option for "Enable Auto Track Mode". When this is enabled, then tracking continues even when the app is not running in the foreground. In case you are interested, here is the Spotwalla link. The "S" is the Florence, OR, campground. The "19" is Port Orford and "71" is today in Garberville. Quite a difference in daily mileage.

We are staying here a couple of nights so we can go to the Avenue of the Giants tomorrow and maybe a couple of walks. The next TT is Russian River near Cloverdale, CA, and is another hundred or so miles. A relatively short day.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Day 24 - Port Orford, OR

Short driving day today. We are camped at a KOA about 10 miles north of Port Orford. One of the reasons for stopping here was to visit the Cape Blanco lighthouse. It was only $2 to get the tour including up to the light. As you might guess, there wasn't much of a view due to the fog but the volunteer did a great job of answering questions and explaining the history of the light.

After Cape Blanco, we drove down to Port Orford and this is the phenomenal view from the visitors center. It was closed as today is Columbus Day. The fog was starting to lift. When we went hiking at Port Orford Heads State Park, you could see the fog blowing up the hill.

We were planning on just walking out to a viewpoint but ended up walking all around the park to several other viewpoints. The ocean views were all phenomenal once the fog lifted. All of the views along the Oregon coast seem to be phenomenal.

Along the trail were a couple of geocaches. We couldn't find the second one. Geocaching is another reason for walking while traveling. I'm not as "into it" as some people are but it's still a fun activity.

Hmmm, I tried the SWConnect app and it worked as far as Coos Bay. Then it stopped tracking. Not sure why...

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Day 23 - Florence, OR - TT

Not really raining nor is it sunny. Overcast and occasional heavy dew. I went under the trailer again today as the valve I installed on the freshwater overflow hose was dripping. After tightening the hose clamp, I went ahead and filled up the fresh water tank until there was water dribbling out of the fill hose. We’ll see how full it is after traveling to our next campsite down the road. The next reservation is a non-TT location just north of Port Orford.

Our next TT destination is Russian River near Cloverdale, CA, which is about 400 miles south of here. Or about 100 miles per day as I planned for three nights somewhere along the way. Last year, we were traveling just about every day. This year, we are trying a much slower pace. With a preference for longer stays and shorter travel days. The rules for the TT zone camping pass specifies that if we stay at one of their parks for more than four nights, we need to stay out of the network for seven nights. They do have more expensive options that eliminate that restriction but, for now, we’ll just go with this.

This afternoon was spent north of Florence at the beach. As you can see, the dogs went along and one decided that the waves were evil and wanted to attack. The waves retaliated and he was swamped. After retreating to dry land, he thought about attacking again.

On the way back through Florence, we stopped at a seafood store and picked up a bowl of their clam chowder and a cooked and cleaned dungeness crab.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Day 22 - Florence, OR - TT

Today's activity was a tour of the Oregon Dunes on a Sandland Adventures large buggy. They also offer sandrail tours that are much faster but since they seat far fewer people, the cost per person was much higher. With this large of a vehicle, they weren't going to be ripping up and down the dunes. I believe that there were 16 people plus the driver on our tour.

We made our way out to the ocean with narration for most of the way. He pointed out that on high tide, storm surges reach the line of vegetation. He also mentioned that the grasses that were introduced many years ago as a method of stabilizing the dunes were taking over. And soon they would cover the entire Oregon Dunes.

The ride was fairly relaxing. These pictures were taken with my GoPro 3+. Of course, the batteries were all dead and the hour I had them charging was good for some video. The GoPro Studio app doesn't seem to be very compatible with the current Apple OS, Mohave. The replacement for GoPro studio requires Internet access to run which makes it kind of worthless, in my opinion. I may try messing around with iMovie again but I wasn't very happy with earlier results. Anyway, I included a short clip at with this post.

After the sand tour, we headed into town and walked around the Old Town area. There was a wine tasting event going on where you purchase a wine glass for $5 and tickets for $1 each. By mid-afternoon, there were quite a number of people staggering around the area. Maybe $1 per glass was a bit too inexpensive. Tomorrow, the event switches to chowder tasting.

But, it was a nice and sunny afternoon. Perfect for walking around Old Town. Parking was a challenge, much more with the truck than when we were here last time. The Ural fits almost anywhere. Most of the stores were either art galleries or bars/restaurants. I was tempted by the fish and chips but decided that I really don't need the calories. I even talked myself out of a cup of coffee.

After walking through town, we headed back to the campground. All is quiet here. After dinner, we went back to Florence to watch the sunset over the river. I did a time-lapse on the iPhone but now I just need to figure out how to get it into the laptop and YouTube.

Sandland Adventures

Friday, October 5, 2018

Day 21 - Florence, OR - TT

The South Jetty Thousand Trails RV Park is pretty similar to the one in Sunriver. By that, I mean more campground and less RV park. To me, this is a good thing. The sites are not on top of each other with plenty of trees and bushes separating them. The challenge for us was finding a large enough site for the trailer. Most of the sites would be ideal for a class B or C or a modestly sized travel trailer. Since it is "off-season" for them, many of the sites that are being upgraded are chained off. The common spaces are well maintained though there isn't a campground store or propane sales. That is a minor inconvenience. There is WiFi in the activity center but none in the campground. Verizon is two bars of LTE. More than sufficient for what we need though Bridget wants to watch Netflix.

The weather looks wet for today but improving through the weekend. I think that today is a "sit in the RV" type of day. In the first picture, you may note that the awning is out. Not for the sun but to cover the door and steps from the rain. There doesn't seem to be any wind at all. The steady rain makes for a very relaxing day disturbed only by snoring dogs...

We did go into town to pick up some more groceries and refill one of the propane tanks. The propane took longer than I would have thought as several of the vendors had run out. I guess it was a busy summer around here. The picture to the left was taken yesterday from the deck of the Sea Lion Cave attraction. In the distance, you can see the sand dunes. We should be able to go there tomorrow or Sunday. This really is a beautiful area.

Three weeks on the road!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Day 20 - Florence, OR - TT

We left the Benton Oaks RV Park in Corvallis, OR, this morning. But before we left, Bridget swept off all of the acorns and leaves from the roof and especially the slide. We drove approximately two hours to South Jetty RV Park just outside of Florence on the Oregon coast. It is another Thousand Trails park. There were a handful of sites with full hookups but since we are only here for four days, we took an electric/water site. No sewer connection.

After getting things set up, we headed north on Hwy 101 to the Heceta Head lighthouse. This beach is at the parking lot for the lighthouse and it is a short walk (uphill) to the residence and the lighthouse. The residence was closed for the season which was Memorial Day to Labor Day. I guess there is a slight disadvantage to this traveling off-season.

This is the view of the lighthouse from the residence and it was operating. You could see the large lens slowly rotating and occasionally get a glint from the sun reflecting off of the lens. No one is allowed up in the lighthouse itself but one of the volunteers let me take a photo looking up the stairs. This was after their normal hours. All of the volunteers were walking down the trail ready to head for home.

There were some spectacular views from the lighthouse. The picture below is (obviously) looking south. The tide is out at this point. There were some old pictures of wagons going around the headlands on the beach at low tide carrying people and supplies. This was before the road was cut into the mountain.

We headed south again stopping at a viewpoint to get a good view of the lighthouse. We saw about a dozen sea lions swimming below the viewpoint. Shortly after that, we stopped at Sea Lion Caves. We didn't pay the $12/person fee to go down the elevator to the cave level. I had visited here about fifty years ago with my uncle and his family and friends. We went down to the cave and saw one sea lion sitting on a rock. I don't know what the current experience is but that was pretty disappointing.

We headed back to the campground and it really feels cold. High humidity and there is supposed to be rain coming in tonight and lasting for most of tomorrow. The last time we were in Florence was on the Ural trip in 2015. We didn't see much of the town except for some exploration in Old Town.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Day 18, 19 - Corvallis, OR

After the weekend, the RV park really empties out. We need to plan our stays accordingly. You can see the oak trees towering over the trailer dropping acorns on the roof. On Tuesday, I finally put the valve on the fresh water tank overflow hose this morning. How is this for procrastination. I picked the valve up in Edmonton last June. To test, I’ll fill up the fresh water tank before heading to the coast. If we still have a full tank upon arrival, then the repair worked. Normally, the overflow is routed to the fresh water fill point. When water starts coming out of the overflow, then the tank is full.

That afternoon, I met up with Scott, the CW (morse code) instructor from the online class that I took last Spring. We met at the coffee place that his office is located. How's that for convenience. I participated in the Alaska DMR (digital mobile radio) net last night. This is the first time since we left that we had sufficient Internet to use the hotspot on a Monday evening since we left Fairbanks. (The Alaska DMR net is on Monday evening)

Wednesday - Spending time getting ready to hit the road again. I used Chirp to download the 2M repeaters for this area and Florence, OR. Already received some traffic reports on congestion on the road between Eugene and Florence. I had forgotten all about that feature within Chirp.

The weather app claims that it's only 63°F but it feels a lot warmer than that to me. What am I going to do when it really does get hot. Oh well. We picked up a bunch of groceries here in Corvallis. No Costco here but I can't think of anything we need from there.

There is some hint of color on some of the trees around here. I don't think that it's even gotten close to freezing yet but we don't plan on sticking around until it does. We ran through another 30 lbs of propane. This time it took 9 days. It only lasted 4 days in Sunriver. The furnace really does use a lot of propane. I am thinking of a Mr. Buddy heater and installing a valve and hose off of one of the low-pressure lines feeding either the water heater or the furnace.

Our water heater has always only run off of propane. Even though there is a circuit breaker labeled as "hot water heater", it has never worked. I removed the wooden panel behind the stove and saw a single outlet with the water heater cord hanging next to it. I didn't check the outlet but just plugged in the cord. There was also a power switch on the water heater but it was frozen in the "Off" position. After several attempts, it moved but I still don't know if power was flowing. I left the gas water heater off all day and we'll try the electric option when we get back to the trailer this evening. Hopefully, it works.

Update - Success! Arrived back at the trailer, turned on the breaker for the water heater and the shore power current jumped to 12 amps. Which means that the electrical element in the water heater still works!