Archive for category RV Parks
After meeting the Doheny State Beach park ranger last spring, Jeff and I committed to camp host for 3 months on the beach at Dana Point, CA.
Doheny State Beach is California’s very first state beach. It was named after oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny who donated 41 acres for public use on May 31, 1931. An additional 21 acres was later added by acquisitions from the Santa Fe Railroad, University of California and the Union Oil Company.
It was interesting to learn that Edward Doheny drilled the first successful oil well in the Los Angeles City Oil Field in 1892 that set off a petroleum boom in Southern CA.
After selling off his California oil properties, he was the first to drill for oil in Mexico and opened new oil fields in Venezuela.
He was later implicated in the Teapot Dome Scandal in the 1920’s, being accused of offering a $100k
bribe gift to US secretary of Interior in connection with obtaining a lease of 32,000 acres of government-owned land. The 2007 film There Will Be Blood is loosely based on Edward Doheny.
This is our first experience camp hosting and we where set to make the most of our free coastal living in exchange for 15-20hr of “work” each week.
For those not familiar with Camp Hosting, RV parks, campgrounds and National Parks will offer a free campsite (usually with full hookups) in exchange for 15-20hrs/week of volunteer work. It’s a great benefit to the campgrounds to have camp hosts on site to monitor the comings and goings of campers and to help with grounds keeping, bathroom maintenance and selling of firewood.
It’s a win-win for both parties as it offers us full timers an opportunity to give back, have purpose and camp for free while providing the parks with much needed help.
Each campground has it’s own agreements with hosts with different expectations/responsibilities and length of stay. So understanding your roll prior to committing is quite important to having a positive experience.
The reason we decided to make Doheny State Beach as our first experience was because it did not require cleaning of bathrooms or campsites, the campground is directly on the beach and it only required a 3-month commitment.
We showed up at Doheny a few days prior to our first day of work and did some training with the departing camp hosts.
Up at 5am to retrieve the camper log from the ranger station ½ mile from the campground with the provided golf cart. Drive around the campground to check registrations of campers, make stops around the shower houses, write up warnings to offending campers who string cloths lines from bushes or park in the landscaping. Then return the log back to the ranger station.
At 8am do a quick loop through the campground to remind campers that generator hours don’t start until 10am.
At noon it’s another trip around the campground to get those checking out to move along so that sites can be cleaned by staff before new campers start moving in about 1pm.
From 3-4pm we do an occasional loop to sell firewood for $7/bundle. We keep our RV door open until 8pm and make one more trip to remind folks that generator hours are over at 8pm before calling it a night.
We manage the campground with 1 other camp host couple and worked 2 days on/2 days off/3 days on. The following week we are 2 days off/2 days on/3 days off. That way we were off every other weekend. All hosts are flexible and if we needed a day off or just even a round covered, the other hosts were always willing to cover for us and us for them.
Easy peasy right?
So here is what really happens…
5AM while scanning the showers, if a door is closed and locked it usually means there is a homeless dude or meth-head encamped in the private confines of a shower stall. Whether they have chosen to take a sh*t in said shower stall is always the mystery when the ranger shows up to remove said homeless dude.
Place “friendly reminders” on windshields of those who showed up after hours that they must report to the kiosk to get their tags. Some are legitimate campers with reservations. Others are trying to camp for free by showing up late and leaving early. The ranger issues tickets to offending parties.
8AM we get to delay camper’s consumption of coffee by having them turn off their generators until 10AM. You can imagine how that is received.
Usually between 12-3pm we escort more homeless folks out of the campground who are trying to use the showers, toilets or picking aluminum out of the trash cans or are simply trying to walk off with campers bicycles, cell phones and wallets.
Occasionally we call the rangers on non-camper interactions that involve drug use and/or mental health crazy talk. Excuses for their presence is usually brushed off as they are there to “see a friend” or “a photographer taking family pictures” all the while walking off with someones generator with the extension cord dragging behind.
We’ve also dealt with groups of homeless folks that get one campsite then invite 14 of their friends for late night raves. According to the rangers, there is nothing that can be done since they paid for a campsite.
And when you confront non-campers they usually excuse their poor behavior by saying they are a veteran, saying they are helping veterans or give you a hardy, “God bless you”.
Luckily we only had two midnight knocks on our door that involved loud music. And another incident that involved a car egging after a large group of noisy campers ticked off their neighbors. According to the large group their music was “barely audible”.
I’m not going to lie. The first couple of weeks were a challenge seeing the overt drug use and mental health issues that this campground is surrounded by. But after that we developed quite a sense of humor about it all and realized that MOST people were opportunists rather than physical threats.
Despite some of the riff raff, we met a lot of great campers and got to spend a season living on the coast of California…for free.
Would we do it again?
We committed going back in October!
Doheny State Beach is located in the wonderful community of Dana Point. Within walking distance we had nice restaurants, grocery shopping and the Pacific Coast Trail to run and cycle.
It was a great location for the 10K Spooktacular Halloween run, 10K Turkey trot Thanksgiving Day run, the Cuyamaca 100k trail run and the Glamis Sand Dunes Veterans Day clean up.
We also drove to Newport Beach for the famous Christmas boat parade and took a trip to San Diego to have Thanksgiving dinner with some RV buddies.
Overall we really enjoyed spending fall/winter in shorts and t-shirts in southern California and look forward to returning to the coast in October.
If you have never smelled the South or Southwest when grapefruits, lemons, limes and oranges are blooming, you are in for a treat. The smell is fragrant, sweet and a bit intoxicating. It’s another reason we love the Southwest, especially because the blooming happens while the rest of the country is still experience arctic blasts.
We left the blossoms and Sam dog with the sitter while we flew back to Bentonville, Arkansas.
I had to delay my trip a bit because Sam was in bad shape. While we were in Tucson for the Escapees Rally, Sam started to act strangely. He couldn’t keep up with me on a simple walk around the RV Park. When we picked him up he would cry out in pain and he became lethargic.
He was holding up his left front paw and I found an enlarged lymph node on his left chest. We immediately started thinking the worst and scheduled a visit to the vet. It was such an odd feeling to have such a healthy dog who was still running up to 11-miles one day, but was so incapacitated the next.
I’m not going to lie. We thought his lymph node was a sign of cancer and we cried all the way to Phoenix on the way to the vet. We even stopped at his favorite canal trail and carried him to the ducks for one last chase. We were saying goodbye to the best boy we have ever had. We really thought we were going to be putting our beloved Sam down that day.
After blood work and an X-ray the vet assured us that Sam’s demeanor was NOT cancer, but more spinal related and he was prescribes pain killers, muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories. The vet then called a day later to let us know that the radiologist described two degenerated discs in his neck and what appeared to be bilateral ear infections. Antibiotics were added to his long list of meds.
This was all two days before we were supposed to fly to Arkansas. So I rescheduled my flight to later in the week so that Sam was more stable before taking him to the sitter.
It took a couple days, but Sam started to perk up day after day. By the time I left he still was not himself. All that medication made him loopy, shaky and sleepy. But at least his pain was finally under control and I felt OK enough to leave him in good hands.
By the time we got back, Sam was more spunky…but completely deaf! After a follow-up visit to the vet he was taken off all pain meds, but left on antibiotics for his ears. Currently, he has regained only a minimal amount of hearing. He is back to short runs and longer walks and now charges the door when we put our running shoes on. A sure sign that he is back!
It’s been a hard 4 weeks for Sam. At 11-12 years old he is finally starting to act his age I guess. We are just so happy he is still with us for a little longer. He is going to be a hard one to replace when the time comes for sure!
I did make it to Arkansas in time for the Bentonville Half Marathon.
Jeff and I and his two sisters, brother-in-love and nephew had all been training since mid-December for this race. We had a lot of fun texting and emailing accountability to the training program and talking about pain points on our bodies. This would be the first time our sisters, nephew and brother-in-love ever did a half!
In the end we all completed the race! It was a proud and emotional moment for all of us! This trip was about a family reunion, overcoming physical challenges and coming together to support their Mom who we had just moved into a local assisted living facility a couple week prior.
Jeff’s brother had their Mom at the finish line to cheer us all on. Though she has lost her ability to communicate, the pride of a mother over her kids was still evident on her face!
It was a special time for sure as we spent precious time with our families.
After checking on our lake cabin we flew back to Phoenix, picked up our dog and headed for Moab.
We split the drive into two days and stopped this time at Goulding Lodge and Campground at Monument Valley.
Wow. What a little gem of a campground! It is an RV Park so spacing is closer that a state park. But the sites are laid out very nicely so just about everyone has an amazing view of the monuments off in the distance. It is also on a hillside, so some sites are a little bit challenging to level. They have a nice short hiking trail from the park with perfect viewpoints for taking some awesome sunset pictures.
And if you want to schedule a hiking or jeeping tour, they will schedule your “Goulding” tour right from the campground. Or if you need groceries, stop at Goulding Market. Goulding has everything covered right from their grounds.
Jeff and I took a 5-mile sunrise trail run before we left and it did not disappoint. The red glow of the morning sun set the red rock formations on fire. We followed a horse path up the side of a mountain and hugged a fairly level trail once we got to it. We jumped on a jeep trail and looped us back around to the RV Park through sand dunes. We were chased by a few dogs in the distance on this run. But they quickly gave up the effort and retreated to their respected porches.
On day two we made it to Moab by lunch time.
We were at Moab again this year for the for the Easter Jeep Safari (EJS).
From the EJS website…
“The Jeep Safari was started in 1967 by the Moab Chamber of Commerce. The very 1st trail was “Behind the Rocks Trail” (according to what has been told to the club President, the road was made or improved with a BLM employee and equipment.) The “Moab Rim” was then added the next year. In those days, individual ice cream packages were dropped by airplane to the trails at lunch. All the leaders were Chamber members, there was no charge or entry fee, and only a Saturday trail. To register you showed up Saturday morning and signed up for the trail you wanted. The Safari was run this way through 1982 at which point the BLM required a permit and insurance. The Chamber was no longer able to run the safari and approached the club to run this event.
The Jeep Safari itself, and participation in the event has grown since the club officially formed in the early 80s. Once the event was coordinated by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers, the registration moved from the Chamber building north of town, to Lion’s Park, and on to what was called “the Barn” which is where McStiff’s is currently located near Center and Main. Over the years the increase in participation grew to expand the trail riding to more days until it finally reached a nine day event. “Big Saturday” still remains the culmination of the event on the Saturday of Easter weekend. With the increase in numbers, the registration was moved to the Spanish Trail Arena where it is located today four miles south of the city of Moab on highway 191. This also became the location for the gigantic safari raffle, Boy Scout BBQ dinner, and a vendor exposition featuring over 130 national 4×4 manufacturers”.
When we were in Moab last year I have to say that I was not that overly impressed with the area. The views are beautiful, but the area felt worn and a bit junky. I suspect my view of the area was a bit tarnished by the overwhelming amount of ATV’s, motorcycles, Razors and Jeeps that were streaming by our campsite at all hours of the day and night.
But this visit was different.
Last year we arrived a couple of weeks early to get a campsite at Slick Rock, which is a first come first serve campground…right in the middle of all the action.
This year we stayed at the KOA just a block away from the EJS expo, thanks to some creative finagling by fellow Xscapers who work camp here. We didn’t have a reservation anywhere in Moab! (NEVER come to Moab during Jeep week without a reservation!). This KOA is one of the nicer, well laid out KOA’s that we have been to. And compared to last year, made for a quiet relaxed location to enjoy the Moab Brewery and Quesadilla Mobilia Food Truck in town.
Trail running near the KOA is not nearly as convenient as Slick Rock, so we had to be a bit more strategic to get our runs in. My favorite is the greenway that runs through Moab, within a block of the Laundromat. I put in a wash load while I ran two miles. Then put it in the dryer for three more miles. How is that for multitasking!
Jeff and I worked the 2-day EJS expo. Our fellow Xscaper friends Finding Marshall, RV Chickadee and Mamasaysnamaste stopped by to say hello! They were all staying on BLM just north of Moab at Willow Springs.
Willow Springs is a very popular boondocking area, especially during jeep week. Jeff decided to do his long run from our KOA site 25-miles to Willow Springs. His route took him through The Arches National Park. He didn’t exactly take a trail, but a wash that turned into some bushwhacking and creek crossings. I picked him up at Willow Springs where I was visiting our friends.
Before we left on Sunday we attended the Easter sunrise service at Arches. We started with a short 2-mile hike on the Park Avenue Trail by moonlight and finished at the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint, where there has been an Easter church service for more than 30 years.
We definitely had a much better experience with Moab this time. It is a stunning town with plenty of outdoor activities to last a lifetime. I look forward to coming back again.
After church we packed up the RV and headed to Salt Lake City. Sam and I are currently staying at the KOA while Jeff travels to Elkhart Indiana for meetings. Our next big show is the National Hardware Show in Vegas in about 3 weeks.
Until then, we are going to bounce around Utah and hit up some beautiful BLM sites to continue our training for the Bryce 100 (Jeff) and Half Marathon (Deb) trail run scheduled for June.
Look forward to seeing ya’ll down the road!
After leaving Bend, Oregon Jeff and I headed west to Eugene so that we could stop into AM Solar.
About a year ago we got most of our RV projects/repairs completed in Elkhart, Indiana and made a dash back to Arkansas to regroup. We had planned on having a month to catch our breath and install our final project, solar, before we headed to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.
Unfortunately our repairs lingered on in Indiana and we were left with a measly week to complete our final project.
As I mentioned in my last post, Jeff is extremely handy. His single Mom of five kids became a General Contractor in California and raised her kids to know how to “raise a barn” from the ground up. Jeff was certified in solar installation and has installed hundreds of solar water heaters all over California and Arkansas.
Installing 4-6 little solar panels on an RV roof would be a breeze!
Oh our plans!
We had a Solar panel that was damaged during shipping and our NorthStar batteries needed to be picked up 2 hours from home. The week flew by and we only got as far as installing 3 panels on the roof, batteries placed and inverter mounted. No connections were made and we left for ABQ without a functioning system.
Over time Jeff has tweaked our system and it has been running beautifully. We got all of our supplies from the highly recommended AM Solar in Eugene/Springfield, OR. Since we were in the neighborhood Jeff wanted a consult just to have them give us the once over.
AM Solar made a few modifications and after $800 our completely functioning system… wasn’t working properly! Darn it!!!
We couldn’t have planned a delayed stay in Eugene any better since the Track & Field Olympic trials happened to be going on. We headed over to Track Town, USA to Hayward Stadium. Interesting history…The University of Oregon outgrew their football stadium. Instead of demolishing the old stadium it was retained as a track-specific venue that is held in reverence to those who have competed here.
The day we attended, the women’s Hammer Throw was happening. We learned that this was the first time ever that the hammer throw was being held INSIDE the actual stadium. Normally the event was held off-sight with very little attendance. But this year was different and the Hammer Throw was given its just due. The crowd was still small but we heard that the ladies were feeling honored to finally be having their beloved event inside the stadium.
Neither Jeff nor I knew anything about Hammer Throw, despite me growing up in Track and Cross Country. We learned that HT is about pure technique of heel-toe foot action with maximum spin in order to hurl the 8.82lb hammer down field.
The top 2 ladies at Olympic Trials competed in Rio where Amber Campbell finished 6th and DeAnna Price finished 8th.
Toutle (too-tle) is a very small town that was located in the devastation zone of Mount St. Helens that erupted in 1980. There are times in your life that you remember certain world events. The eruption of Mount St. Helens was one of those events for me and I remember hearing about the mushroom cloud of ash that re-routed airplanes states away and covered towns as far as Alberta, Canada.
Jeff had heard about a training bike ride from Toutle to Mount St. Helens, so we stayed at the Harry Gardner City Park in Toutle. This park was destroyed in the 1980 eruption and was never re-opened until 2015. There is a very nice 14-site campground in the park with water and electric hook-ups for $20/night. We were there on a weekend and were one of only four RV’s parked here. We loved this CG on the Toutle River. Unfortunately there was no connectivity what so ever and we had to shorten our stay.
Jeff’s bike ride was cold, rainy and 80 miles of long hard hills and 6,000’ of elevation. Since I wanted to see Mount St. Helens from the Johnson Observatory, I took a drive and met Jeff there.
What a sight! The drive was stunning and the regrowth of trees were so symmetrical that I was almost dizzy until I reached the blast zone. The devastation is still palatable even after 36 years. I listened to the Ranger talk about that fateful day and learned that 57 people lost their lives, how rivers were rerouted, new lakes formed and the mountain lost about 1,300’ of elevation. Ms. Helen has remained active off and on since then, with her last recorded activity as late as 2008.
Auburn, Washington (Seattle)
We were getting to Seattle a little earlier than planned so I made last minute reservations at the Game Farm Wilderness Park in Auburn WA. This was another gem of a find especially since most RV parks that I spoke with in Seattle were booked up.
There was a wonderful paved trail system that ran through the park and it was also home to the busiest 18-hole frisbee golf course in the state! Over 300 people come here daily to play!
Since we had a lot on our plate for work we didn’t really explore too much of Seattle except to have Sunday brunch with a co-worker of Jeff’s at a marina in Des Moines. It was a beautiful sunny day and we finished our meal with a relaxing walk out on a peer.
Abbotsford & Vancouver, Canada
Jeff had an intern years ago that was getting his master degree from John Brown University. They hit it off and have stayed in touch since then. He and his wife have been asking us to come for a Canadian visit for a long time, so we purposed to make it happen this summer. The added “bonus” was that the Ironman Whistler was taking place during our stay. Not one to miss a race, Jeff signed up for the half.
This was our first boarder crossing in the RV and we were a bit nervous and had braced ourselves for a long wait. We used up most of our produce and got rid of the rest. I had Sam’s medical certificate and our passports ready. We nervously pulled up to an empty boarder crossing where we were asked where we were heading, how long we were staying and if we had any fruit on board. Then we were waved through. Easy peasy!
We spent our first couple nights in our friend’s backyard getting caught up before heading to Whistler for the Half Ironman. The drive from Vancouver to Whistler was spectacular! I’ve never been to Switzerland, but this drive made me think of the Swiss Alps.
Incredible blue water, dramatic mountain views and lush forests. We were on sensory overload for sure! We stayed at the Wonderland RV Park in Squamish, B.C. and made the 30-minute drive to Whistler for the race. It was a great race on a beautiful sunny day in a picturesque setting!
After Whistler we returned to our friends backyard in Abbotsford, BC. We spent time exploring their community, visited mutual friends, tasting some farm-to-table food and just hanging out with their family.
We planned a day trip to Vancouver via a train, water taxi and city buses with 4 kiddos in tow. Our first stop was Grouse Mountain known for the infamous Grouse Grind. This is a 1.8-mile hike, 2800’ elevation gain, and 2,830 stairs at a 30-degree slope to the top. There is a tracking device at the bottom and top of the mountain and you can see how fast people are hiking here.
After shredding our gluts and hams on “Natures Stairmaster” we took in the Lumberjack show, saw two grizzly bears in captivity and our favorite…the Birds of Flight show at the top of the mountain.
The Birds of Flight featured an Eagle, Falcon and Owl that were released high above the outdoor amphitheater and swooped down over the crowd to gracefully land on designated perches. What a treat to feel and hear the power of their wings as they flew just above our heads. It was interesting and highly entertaining and we would highly recommend this show!
Funny…the falcon flew off into the surrounding valley and was enjoying its freedom until a wild falcon aggressively went after him. The two tangled and the captive Falcon made a b-line back to the safety of his handler. Poor guy. Out for a leisure stroll around the airways when the big bully showed up!
After we were all sufficiently sunburned we took the sky tram down the mountain where we picked up the city bus. The bus was air-conditioned and super comfy and all eight of us took power naps while we were transported back to downtown Vancouver. We stopped for a late lunch then walked the city a bit before catching a train back to Abbotsford.
It was a great day full of new adventures with our host family of 6! Our week’s stay flew by and before we knew it, it was time to head back to the states!
So Jeff and I finished up a hard pressed 5 weeks of work responsibilities that took us from Las Vegas, NV to the northern coast of California. It was A LOT of miles with little sleep and sore rumps. Our schedule was rough (compared to FT RVing standards) but we did manage to experience some amazing places!
We attended the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas. This is where retailers “shop” for new innovative ideas displayed by suppliers from all over the world. Other than this show, Jeff and I really don’t have an appreciation for Las Vegas.
It’s big and loud. For peeps who like to take in scenic runs and prefer dirt of dusty trails it’s just not our kind of place. But sometimes you just do what you gotta do!
We stayed at the Circus Circus RV Resort, which was 1.4 miles from the Hardware Show on the north end of the strip. We picked this park for convenience over amenities so our “camping” was a parking lot with full hookups.
Despite being in the city we found our stay to be quiet, especially since we ran the fan on the air conditioner all night. I’m not quite sure what the neighbors were up to but I did notice a shoe on the roof of their RV one morning.
Our RVing buddies Donna and Mike Kuper from Flying the Koop were in Las Vegas for the show as well and we had a quick dinner together before we all went our separate ways.
After the Hardware Show we had to zip over to the West coast for a company photo shoot. The shoot took us to Pacifica, Carmel, Santa Cruz, South Lake Tahoe, Auburn and San Francisco.
Jeff jumped on a plane in Vegas for a quick transition to San Fran while I made my maiden solo voyage in the RV. Though I do 80% of the driving, this was the first time I was alone for the trip. It really felt like the very first drive I took after I got my drivers license.
The training wheels were off and I had to make decisions on gas station approaches and clearances and conflicting GPS routing all by myself. I survived the drive and was reunited with Jeff a day later in Santa Cruz.
We stayed at the Santa Cruz Ranch RV Resort for it’s central location. It also happened to be within a mile of Jeff’s high school swim coach.
Jeff grew up in Sacramento and started swimming in high school. His coach would take a group of swimmers to his parent’s trout farm in Santa Cruz every summer. This was the start of Jeff’s career in the Junior Lifeguard program that he still talks about today.
Coach is retired now and lives on that same trout farm, even though the fish are now long gone. But what he lacks in fish he has made up in feathery friends. He has geese, exotic chickens, parakeets and turkeys, all squawking to be fed twice a day.
Coach is a part of Jeff’s family and even though our time was tight we did have an opportunity to have breakfast together and feed his plethora of animals.
We had a day of shooting in Pacifica and another day in Carmel. We roped some RVing buddies John and Becky into using their RV at some stunning locations. One spot was on private property on the cliffs of the Pacific Ocean. WOW…what a location!
I had some heartburn watching our friends take their very nice Class A motorhome 4-wheeling on this rough farm property. The photographer wanted the RV as close to the edge of the cliffs as possible so I held my breath just hoping the RV would not roll right off the cliff into the water!
We spotted a pod of whales and a shark chasing a sea otter. The water was turquoise blue, the sun warm and the sunset unobstructed. IT. WAS. MAGICAL!
Since the photo shoot would last into the dark we approached the property owner to let us camp on his property until morning. He graciously agreed and we spent the night in our friends RV being lulled to sleep by the crashing waves. Best boondocking spot EVER!!!
Funny story though. While one of the models was changing in the RV the sliding bedroom door got stuck and we couldn’t get the model out! John had to climb in through the emergency window and work on it for 20 minutes before they both could be freed.
We wrapped up our Carmel stop with giant strawberries from a roadside fruit stand and big breakfast at Lou Lou’s on Monterey Fishermans Warf. Jeff and I found this little place years ago while Jeff was working for The Scotts Miracle Grow Company. They supported a Walmart junior golfing event a Pebble Beach for 3 years and heard about this place from a local.
The servings are huge and they have a special pancake called The Hubcap. And yes, it is the size of a hubcap! Get there early to get a seat before the line starts to back up around 9:15AM.
South Lake Tahoe
Our next stop was at various locations around South Lake Tahoe. We stayed at the Zephyr Cove RV Resort on the Nevada side of the lake. This was a wonderful campground with a delicious restaurant and beach just across the street on the edge of the Lake.
In 1980-something Jeff swam across Lake Tahoe in a relay. Freezing water made for an unforgettable experience!
We had asked one of Jeff’s high school friends, Sabrina and her significant other Roger to be models for the photo shoot at this location. This gave us time to get reacquainted since high school. They both recently retired and are adventurous people, so playing hikers in the woods of Tahoe was not a stretch for them!
Tahoe is one of my all-time favorite summer places to be. Cold nights and warm days, the smell of pine needles and the sound of wind pushing through the trees…all rejuvenating to my tired soul. But alas, our time was short and we had to get to the next location.
Loomis & San Francisco
Jeff headed to San Francisco with the team while I had pulled the RV to the Roseville just NorthEast of Sacramento so that we could visit with family while we were in the area.
Jeff heard about an epic race called, “Bay to Breakers” that was being run the day he would be in SF. It’s a 12k race that started in 1912. And in typical SF fashion it’s known for its nude runners, costumes and salmon runners who run the race in the opposite direction.
Jeff also got to squeeze in a visit with our nephew and his fiancé’ who just moved to SF.
In the mean time I was having some challenges finding a place to park. After calling 5 RV parks I found a spot at the Roseville Fairground RV Park. It was a bit rough there and after spending one night Jeff’s cousin insisted that I relocate to their driveway in Loomis.
Free. Nice views. Safe neighborhood. Wine. What’s not to love about driveway surfing!
Steve and Vicki were over-the-top lovely hosts and I parked here over a week while Jeff wrapped up the photo shoot and flew off to another event in Flagstaff. I loved my time here with wonderful family. I got a personal tour of the town of Loomis, had some delicious meals, drank more wine than I have in a long time ever. It was a joy to visit and we look forward to getting together again in the future.
It was 5 weeks in a pressure cooker and we were ready for a break. I had made reservations at the Yosemite Ridge RV Resort over Memorial Day week so I can’t wait to show you what we did there!
See you in Yosemite!
Ooooof! More excuses why I have been very tardy in keeping up with my blog!
Working with an RV company, the full-on RV season has arrived and our show responsibilities have ramped up.
So instead of trying to catch up with multiple posts I’m going to cheat and summarize the last two months of travel in one. That’s the way we catch up around here!
Zion National Park…A Thing of Beauty
Continuing our visit to the Canyonlands we headed over to Zion National Park. I thought since we were visiting during the early season we wouldn’t have any trouble finding camping around the National Park. After checking the recreation.gov website for camping within the park I found 1 campsite left for 3 nights at the Watchman Campground. Not the week stay I was hoping for but we had to take what we could get.
With our Zion Ultra trail run scheduled we needed some additional reservations closer to the venue. I got reservations at the Zion Canyon Campground behind the Quality Inn Hotel in Springdale. It was literally just across the Virgin River from the Watchman…for double the price.
Our first day at Zion we decided to take a drive through the park traveling through the tunnel on 89A. I’m so glad we did this because we had planned on going out this way on our way out of town. We didn’t realize there was a tunnel for one thing. Secondly, they have a height restriction of 13’2″. Thirdly, if we could have fit (we are 13’ 8”) we would have needed a park escort in order to drive down the middle of the tunnel while traffic was blocked. Lastly, they charge a $15 fee to do so.
Despite all that, it was a beautiful drive and gave us a little taste of what was to come during our weeks stay.
Two days before our race we decided to take in an easy hike and headed to the Emerald Pools. There is a high, medium and low pool and we hiked to all three. This is an easy hike and we purposed to leave before 8 AM to avoid any crowds. This time of year you can only access the Trailheads via the shuttle system that we picked up at the visitors center.
There are flashing signs all over town about the National Park parking being completely full by 10AM until 3PM, so we wanted to be sure to get an early start. We waited for the shuttle with 4 other people to head to the TH’s. But when we returned around 10:30 the lines just to get on a shuttle were about a ¼ mile long. It was crazy!
If you have ever seen pictures of Zion you more than likely have seen Angels Landing. This hike’s iconic knife edge assent with the aid of chains and the infamous Walter’s Wiggles were enough to make this one of our most unique and exciting hikes we have ever done.
And the view from the top… Simply amazing! It’s a great place to have a mid morning snack or a picnic lunch with plenty of room to move around (mild crowds). But if you are scared of heights this hike is not for you!
Be sure to do this hike early morning before the crowds kick in. The chain section is for one rear end at a time and even early we had to share the road with A LOT of people including small children and terrified adults. There aren’t too many spots to just pull over and let someone pass, so expect to hang out on the side of a cliff waiting for your turn.
Zion 100 Ultra
The Zion 100 Ultra offered a 100-mile, 100k, 50 mile, 55k and half marathon distance. Jeff signed up for the 55K while I signed up for the half marathon.
We were watching the weather closely the week leading up to the race and as the race got closer the chance of rain increased. So much so that the race director offered the option to back out of the race even though they were going to have it rain or shine.
But nothing could prepare us for…mudageddon!
It started to rain about 1AM and rained off and on through the entire race. The rain made the trails a soupy sloppy mess and the course had to be altered at the last minute. I finished my half while Jeff pulled out at mile 22 of his 55k. The mud was relentless and we were both exhausted!
We took a rest day and walked to town for lunch the day after our race. Sam was glad to get outside.Though we love our National Parks we hate that you cannot take your dog with you on the trails. We understand the safety concerns and the trails are really too crowded for both people and dogs. Zion does offer one paved walking trail that pets are allowed on and we were thankful for it.
We really wanted to hike The Narrows which is water/river hiking. But spring runoff had the river running too high and wild to do this trip. We hope to come back in the fall for this one.
The little town of Springdale is within walking distance of the Zion campgrounds and a delightful place to grab lunch, ice-cream or coffee. It’s quaint and friendly, but I can only imagine what it would be like to get around in the height of summer tourism. Springdale is bracing itself for the estimated 5 million visitors expected to Zion this year, so if you are planning a trip pack your patience.
Lee’s Ferry, AZ
After leaving Zion we stopped over at Lee’s Ferry campground in Utah. What a gem of a find!
Lee’s Ferry is the only place for hundreds of miles where you have easy access to cross the Colorado River. Back in the mid 19th century it was the site of Lees ferry that provided a way to cross the Colorado River for those making their trek out west.
The water is smooth and calm here and is where all Grand Canyon rafting trips start their journey.
The little first come first serve campground is situated on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River. As with all the Canyonlands, the full beauty of Glen Canyon is revealed in the sunrise and sunsets and boy did it put on a show!
The rock formations glowed with the dawn and dusk sun so be sure to set up your chairs and take in the view!
Phoenix, KY, IL, MO, AR, OK, TX, NM, AZ, NV
Yup…in a matter of 9 days we crossed 9 states and 3 time zones. We flew to Louisville to pick up the Dometic show RV and drove it to National Hardware Show in Las Vegas.
This kicked off 5 weeks of non-stop driving and we are almost finished with our show responsibilities for this round. It has been a whirlwind for sure but next week we will be taking a weeks vacation in the majestic Yosemite National Park.
The internationally known Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta has wrapped up and what a spectacular event it was!
We made a B-line to Albuquerque to take in the splendor of the Balloon Fiesta and IT IS SPECTACULAR!
From Dumas Texas we made a 2 hour drive to Ute Lake State Park to camp for two nights. This is a dry, barrow campground overlooking the very nice Ute Lake. Evidently this is a great spot for birders and fisherman alike. The lake is shallow with a lot of reeds and grasses along the banks. What is brown and desolate by day turns to an incredible glow of oranges, yellows, blues, purples and pinks when the sun hangs low.
The sites are packed gravel, super long and have great separation. Each site has a covered patio with picnic table, fire pit, grill and lots and lots of goat head stickers. Sam enthusiastically jumped out of the camper ready to explore his new surroundings and was stopped in his tracks with paws full of stickers.
If it were not for the goat heads we would have stayed a bit longer. But after two days we decided to move on.
Our next stop was just 20 miles down the road in the little town of Tucumcari, New Mexico. Tucumcari mountain is an isolated mountain in a sea of brown dessert that was a landmark back in the 1800s for those traveling west from Arkansas to California.
We camped at the nastalgic Cactus RV Park, one of those original destinations back in the hay day of Route 66.
We are wrapping up our three RV rally events in four weeks and will be heading back to Arkansas soon. Our feet are sore, our backs are tired but we have met so many people from around the world who call the desert SW home for the winter.
Part of our job is to show new RV products to the public. RV toilets, holding tank treatments, freezers, cooler, icemakers etc.
You’ve never seen a group of people so willing to talk about RV toilets, odors and embarrassing moments like a group of RV’ers. I’ve heard of people cleaning their toilets with Dawn Dish Soap, tongue depressors and even Tang. We share laughs at the things that have been dropped into holding tanks such as bolts (Ok…we did that one), mouth guards, sunglasses and toothbrushes. RV’ers secret? What falls in the tank stays in the tank!
While at the Good Sam Rally we did have the privilege of staying at a hotel for 5 nights. And as many of you know, it is always a luxury to stay where there is an endless supply of hot water, enough counter space to handle your tube of toothpaste and moisturizer at the same time and a flush toilet that can handle an entire roll of toilet paper at once. Oh the joy of careless flushing!
Between events, we pulled the RV into Paradise RV Resort in Sun City, AZ for 5 nights. This was another 55+ retirement community with more park models than RV slots. And par for the course, this place had a long list of activities to keep you entertained and busy.
We played a few games of pickle ball. The fun part of playing pickle ball, or any other game for that matter in 55+ communities, is that no one can remember what the score is. I’m not kidding. I couldn’t even remember. I think there is some sort of device that sucks the memory side of your brain out as soon as you pass through the gates. Once outside the gates, your memory is graciously restored so you can remember you went to the store for batteries. But once back through those gates, BAM…it’s all gone again.
Most everyone wears a name tag. But on the occasion when it’s not on, our new friend Joe taught us his secret. Just call everyone man or honey.
We played another “friendly” game of water volleyball with the group of guys that play every day except Sunday. These guys play with enough youthful exuberance of an unsupervised group of teenagers in high school detention.
Jeff earned the nickname Chunky by Joe. Joe said he wasn’t going to remember the name Jeff but he could remember Jiffy peanut butter. And since he likes chunky better than smooth…voila…Chunky was born!
It’s been a fun trip out west again, but we are looking forward to getting back to Arkansas. We’re hoping to time our return with spring since the temps in Phoenix and Tucson will be reaching the 90’s next week. We’ve heard that the snakes and scorpions start showing themselves in these parts when things start to really warm up. So we will be checking our shoes before we head out.
It’s back to the bricks & sticks for a few months to attend graduations and our nephews wedding before heading back on the road for more RV’ing adventure. We have big news (hopefully) coming soon, so we will be posting a blog about it as soon as things are finalized.
After eight days of travel experiencing some of our countries worst major highways (thank you Louisiana) in a Class C motorhome, our road weary bodies have landed in the world of secrets.
Driving a Class C motorhome over potholes, through construction zones and wind tunnels can be compared to driving around in a tin can of marbles. The noise level and bruit strength it takes to maneuver “Ms. Piggy” almost 2000 miles in eight days is enough to beat the crap out of a person. We. Are. Tired.
As we pulled in to our RV park excited to just sit still for the next 5 days we remembered that we had no groceries left nor toad to get us to the store. So we made a U-turn out of the park and headed for the nearest Walmart…pouting, short tempered and spent.
Oh to just stop moving!
We finally pulled into the Fiesta Grande RV Resort in Casa Grande Arizona, a very large 55+ community of park model homes and RV’s. We evidently arrived at happy hour as neighbors congregated under carports at every turn. We didn’t realize that it was “Thirsty Thursday”. Our timing was impeccable!
We met many nice folks from all over North America who flock to the great southwest for winter.
After a good nights sleep we showed up the next morning at the pickle ball courts ready to kick some retirement community butt. But with 30 or more “retirees” on 3 courts who spend 2 hours a day playing this addictive sport we were handed our rears in a hurry…thank you very much!
These men and women were fierce and feisty with lots of friendly banter and encouragement, just enough to keep things fun.
The three new courts are a first for Fiesta Grande, just installed in November to the pride of the community. But they have quickly realized that more courts are needed, as Pickle Ball is the fastest growing sport in the country. We were told that another RV Resort down the road has 28 courts in their community. That’s a lot of pickles!
After being humiliated on the courts and a two-hour nap we sat on our patio watching the beehive of activity that is all around us. People are out and about on bikes, scooters and foot either going to or from some planned community activity or event that is available on a daily basis. Computer classes, tai chi, variety shows, potlucks by state, shuffle board, card games, wood shop. There was something going on for everyone.
The next day after 2 hours of pickle ball, we headed to the pool to cool off and were quickly invited to play water volleyball. And after 2 more hours of humiliation we shook it off with a nice soak in the hot tub with our volley-mates.
The mix of guys were from New York, Michigan, Canada, Seattle, Idaho and Oregon all talking about the snowy cold temperatures back home with huge grins on their faces. They had no sympathy for the sorry suckers back home who were shoveling their driveways right about now.
These guys were pranksters, calling passing folks “tourists”, and in general very happy giddy people. I couldn’t help but feel as if they had a secret amongst themselves. As if they had found the fountain of youth or the true meaning of retirement that so many others don’t find or stopped looking for.
Reality is, they have found THEIR fountain of youth, their meaningful retirement. It’s a youthful exuberance for life that is filled with activity, comradery and relationships in a delightful setting of 70-80 degree winter temps. What’s not to love about that!
We regretfully have to move on to our final destination, The Good Sams Rally in Phoenix. Casa Grande has left a lasting impression in my heart as the land of secrets where the fountain of youth has been found. I can only hope that Jeff and I will carry a piece of our learnings with us into our own meaningful retirement.
See you around the bend!
We made our way back to Arkansas for a quick stop over. After mid west temps in the teens we are giddy with the idea of finishing our winter in sun kissed Florida and the desert bliss of Arizona. Despite a week of cold temps this has been one of most enjoyable winters ever!
Our fast track from Quartzsite to Arkansas was a trip back to the land of trees with market stops (part of the job) at KOA’s along the way. Jeff and I are partial to wide open spaces and prefer camping in boondock obscurity. But when we are on a mission to get to one destination to another in lightening speed (over 2000 miles in 5 days) we usually do quick overnights at KOA’s.
Our first stop was the Tucson/Lazydays KOA. What a fabulous RV park! Clean spacious sites, an event center, pool & spa and sparkling laundry room. And even more thrilling was that Airstream was having their AlumaFiesta onsite while we were there.
A couple hundred shiny bullets both new & vintage were a sight to behold. And since Lazydays RV had their ribbon cutting of their new Airstream showroom and gift shop, shopping for key chains, coffee mugs and 2015 models fresh off the runway were available for purchase.
Airstreamers are a loyal bunch. We were surprised by the number of folks who trade up or down frequently all the while never straying from their beloved brand.
Our last stop was in Durant, Oklahoma at the Choctaw Casino/KOA about 1 1/2 hour north of Dallas. This KOA is owned by the Choctaw Indian Reservation with an associated Casino. It’s a newer campground with event center, pool, laundry AND the most beautiful bathrooms/shower facility we have ever seen. Charlie and his wife manage the place as if it were their own. They know their business and pride themselves on cleanliness and upkeep. The grounds are laid out around a pond with each site being nicely spaced, level, paved with a bit of separation by hedges on each site. They even have round covered picnic tables for each RV.