Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gas Run

With the price of crude hovering round record lows, that sent a clear signal to us to buy. With Bullwinkle's 75-gallon fuel tank sitting at just below one-fourth, we knew what to do. Fill 'er up!

With threatening skies looming in the not-so-distance, we headed out to see the moose fairly early this morning. We loaded up fresh linens and other supplies we needed to drop off before our next outing. Then, we headed out for a little road trip with one mission in mind: Get gas!

Once behind the wheel, a light rain began to fall. We headed out on the highway and were happy as clams - ready for a road trip. We settled for something a wee bit less: a 20-mile drive to an RV-friendly gas station where we filled up for $1.71 a gallon. That was accomplished with a mere 100 bucks!

Thinking back to this summer when we bought the moose (see the peak of the chart above), who would've thought we'd be filling up for way under two bucks a gallon?

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy Homecoming

After a lovely evening in Visalia featuring a cocktail by the campfire followed by a yummy dinner of Thanksgiving leftovers and a good night's sleep, we were up early to find our campground enveloped in fog. The San Joaquin Valley was under a dense fog advisory until 11AM, so an early departure was not to be. Letting Mother Nature set the pace for the day, we enjoyed a very leisurely morning. With just 200 miles to go, we were in no hurry to rush our last day of the trip.

We were ready to go by 11, but the fog continued to linger. The advisory was extended until 1PM. By noon we decided things were clear enough to give it a go. We were in and out of fog until we were just about halfway home. Then, we hit crazy California holiday traffic. Ugh.

It was after 4PM when we pulled Bullwinkle into his storage spot. With the moose secure, we loaded everything and everyone into the Jeep and joined more holiday travelers for the last leg of the trip.

Now, the four of us are back at our "big house". We're happy to be home, but sad for this adventure to be over. Already we're looking forward to the next.

P.S. We'll post a pic when we get the camera unpacked. And, just for our friends Gordon and Juanita I'll find a picture of the both of us!

Saturday, November 29, 2008


We're a bit over 300 miles north of the sunny and warm Palm Springs area, having just settled in at the Visalia-Fresno South KOA.

We left Indio at 8:00 AM in hopes of dodging crazy SoCal traffic. Less than two hours into our drive we were passed by a motorcycle doing what we guessed was at least 100 mph. This lunatic was jumping from lane to lane and, when that didn't work, splitting the lanes between two vehicles. Seconds later we were passed by two or three CHP cars and spotted a helicopter following the action. Hopefully, the speed demon is spending tonight in jail and nobody was hurt. With that kind of excitement on a Saturday morning we were eager to keep moving north. The rest of the trip was incident free, thankfully.

Our furry friends gave us the most pleasant surprise today. Overall, they were quite calm, peaceful and quiet on the road. They seem to be getting the hang of this!

Tonight's stop at the KOA is a bit sentimental for us. This is the spot where we spent our very first night ever in an RV. Once again, some 40-plus camping nights later, we're happy to be settling in by the cozy light of the red and yellow teepee.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Desert Caching

We celebrated National Turkey Sandwich Day by heading out to the desert for some geocaching. Our destination was scenic Box Canyon Road between the south entrance to Joshua Tree and Mecca. To most, this 20-mile scenic drive looks something like this: desert floor surrounded by distant hills and a mountain capped with snow from last night's rain. It's lovely.

But for geocachers, Box Canyon Road looks like this. Each of those little boxes represents a cache. The yellow line is just a section of the road we traveled. There are nearly 60 caches in that picture. That's a lot of caches! With our GPS in hand, we set out to get as many as we could. Upon our arrival in the canyon, we quickly learned our options would be limited.

While Box Canyon Road is paved, the rest of the "roads" are basically just desert, which made any off-road caches off limits to us. Here's P lamenting that we didn't have our trusty jeep Rocky with us on this trip.

We found all of the just-off-the-road caches we could. P was determined to make a quick scramble for this one. In all, we picked up seven caches along the way. Not a bad day for a couple of vacationing geocachers cruising in a Mustang convertible in the desert!

After all that work, we came home and had -- you guessed it -- a turkey sandwich!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

With the dawn of the holiday, the desert rains gave way to another day of dramatic clouds. What a treat! We took advantage of the sun and temps near 80 to get out and move before our holiday feast. P went for a big run and I walked the same route. With our exercise behind us, we went to work on our Thanksgiving dinner.

Creating a holiday meal in a teeny tiny kitchen could be a challenge. Somehow, we made it work. It helped that P cooked our turkey on the grill outside.

He wasn't sure how this would all work on our portable propane grill. But, P's a Weber master! Our main entree was in good hands.

Voila! A couple of hours later the bird was done. Looks good doesn't it?

Here's proof that we pulled it all together in our little movable kitchen. It was even tastier than it looks. And, for that, we gave thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Desert Rain

Sometime in the night rain came to the desert. It provided us a wonderful sound to sleep to, and the very parched land around here a well-needed drink. Today we had a few brief sprinkles here and there. Most of the day the sun peeked in and out of dramatic cloud formations in the sky. Gorgeous!

We postponed geocaching plans and opted to head out to pick up a few things we needed for the RV. We've had it for months, but we're still moving in! We also picked up a few last minute items for our holiday meal at the grocery store. One of the things we love about road trips is checking out local groceries. They're all better than what we have at home!

We took advantage of a sun break and went for a late afternoon bike ride. It's very flat here, so the riding is easy! We enjoyed the views along the way, which included a rainbow above the hills. I wish I'd taken my camera along. When will I learn that some of the best views show up on bike rides?

P took on several tasks dealing with tanks today. Besides dumping our holding tanks, which is one of his favorite chores, he sanitized our fresh water tank. That was a first for us. We hardly ever use that tank, actually. When we thought about the fact that we were still carrying water we got at the dealership, we dug out our manual and learned how to make the tank sparkly and fresh. The process is easy enough, but it involves bleach and filling and emptying a 78-gallon water tank a couple of times. That takes time, of course. And, for a brief while Bullwinkle smelled like a hospital.

With all this work behind us, we're ready for a holiday!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Joshua Tree National Park

We took the Mustang for a spin today and visited Joshua Tree National Park. If you're wondering what a Joshua Tree is, this is a pretty good specimen.

The park is filled with geological wonders we will never understand, such as Jumbo Rock. Yeah, well, it sure is.

A highlight of our park experience was the drive to Key's view. Here's a shot of a - you guessed it - Joshua Tree and the road to Key's view.

Once we got to the top, we enjoyed a panoramic view from 5200 feet. This shot of the valley below is toward Indio. Bullwinkle is down there somewhere!

On the way out of the park we stopped at the Cholla Gardens and saw this incredible display of "Jumping Teddy Bear" cholla. Yeah, they look cute and fuzzy. But, guess what? They aren't.

As we headed toward the southern gate of the park, there was a moment where the best view was behind us. (And, yes, objects are closer than they appear!)

Our day in the desert was fun, indeed. We made it home in time to welcome many newcomers to our humble park, enjoy some dinner and watch our beloved Jayhawks lose one.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Shadow Hills

We're pleased to report that we are all rested, refreshed and recovered from our two days on the road. We spent yesterday lounging about our place at the Shadow Hills RV Resort and enjoying the view. With clear blue skies and the temperature reaching just past 80 degrees, it was a perfect day to do just that.

Today our agenda was to get out and explore a bit. So, the first item of business for the day was to get some wheels. With reservations for a plain vanilla "intermediate", we were prepared to spend the next few days in a Chevy Malibu or such. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) We arrived at the rental car place to discover no intermediates were available, but they'd be happy to give us a convertible for the same price.


We hit the road for lunch and a bit of poking around the Coachella Valley. We stopped by a couple of real tourist havens - Lowe's and Ralph's. Our rolling home was in need of a minor repair and food. So, these were our "must dos" for today. But, we we're running errands in Palm Springs on a warm November afternoon in a convertible, so you won't hear us complaining!

So far, we like it here. And, there's alot to like. Besides the fact that it's sunny and warm in November, we feel very young here! Just about everyone we passed by this afternoon was older than us. And, they all looked like they just stepped off a golf course. And, chances are they did. There are about a billion golf courses in the vicinity, so there could be hundreds of billions of golfers. Passing through Rancho Mirage this afternoon, we noticed signs everywhere that make special accommodations for these senior golfers:

Next time we come here, maybe we'll skip the convertible and just rent a cart.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

In Indio

We made it to Indio. And, we're all pooped.

P and I are tired. Two back to back days of traveling 200-plus miles in California will do that to you. Our kitties, you must understand, are truly pooped.

These two creatures are accustomed to sleeping 20-plus hours a day. They've slept far less than that over the last two days. They did manage to catch a cat nap or two on the road today, but it was barely enough to count. They are flat out exhausted.

We're hoping everyone will feel better after a good night's rest.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Seems we've gone from one Winnebago-Itasca Travelers group rally to another. We're here at the River Run RV Park in Bakersfield, camped out for a one night layover on our way to Palm Springs. On check-in we spotted many Winnebagos and one sign identifying them all as The Fresno Floaters. We'll have to wander by and say hi before we head out tomorrow morning.

We retraced last weekend's trip to Santa Nella, then kept heading south on I-5. We passed a couple of notable spots along the highway that brought back fond memories of our inspirational last day of our trip to the big ditch and back this Spring. We lunched at the rest stop where we met the inspiring fulltimers in April, and we made the same gas stop where we chatted with the young couple who were inspired by us to consider a vacation trip in a rented RV. Wonder if they ever did that.

Along the way south on I-5, we saw several groups of fire trucks heading north: a couple dozen in all. They looked to us like they were on their way back home after fighting the latest wildfires in Southern California. We spotted trucks from Forestville, Cal Fire and (we think) San Francisco. What a journey they've been on!

Our journey was just 273 miles today, landing in Bakersfield in time to catch a bit of Friday afternoon rush hour and get settled in to our cozy pull-through site before dark. This is a relatively new park that seems very nice. Of course, we won't be here too long. We have many miles to travel yet tomorrow.

Our feline traveling buddies did absolutely great today. It took about 200 miles before our boy kitty decided to stop crying and settle down. Once we setup "camp" they made a bee-line for the bed and took a quick cat nap. These two are accustomed to sleeping about 20 hours a day. And, today, they suffered a serious shortage.

Hopefully, they'll catch up tomorrow!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Santa Nella

If you find yourself cruising along I-5 between Sacramento and Los Angeles, you'll pass by the booming metropolis of Santa Nella. (Yes, we're kidding about the booming metropolis part.) We made our way there Thursday afternoon to park Bullwinkle in the company of other Winnebagos. (Look at all of them!) This Winnie party at the San Luis RV Park was the site of the Chardonnay Travelers Thanksgiving Rally. The Chardonnay Travelers are a Bay Area chapter of the Winnebago-Itasca Travelers Clubs. We first met the Chardonnays on our shakedown cruise to Oroville. We liked them so much we decided to catch up with them. And, they liked us enough to welcome us a new members.

The weekend was filled with seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones. RV people are generally fun. But, we have to say Winnie owners -- and this group in particular -- are GREAT! We enjoyed good weather, great stories, lots of laughter and gobs of good food. Friday afternoon we discovered the world famous Pea Soup Andersen's. (If you're hungry when you pass by this part of I-5, it's definitely worth a stop.) On Saturday night we gathered for a Thanksgiving feast with turkey and everyone's favorite fixin's. It was wonderful.

Before Friday night's dinner of delicious tri-tip, we hosted an impromptu open house to introduce our new friends to our new motorhome. We sipped sparkling wine in the setting sunshine. Lots of fun!

After the party, we learned a valuable lesson. When you have the door to your motorhome open in a comfortable campground on a warm November afternoon in California's central valley, you not only attract a lot of great RV folks. You also attract flies. Gobs of them! Much of our Saturday was spent with swatter in hand as we cleared our rolling home of these unwanted guests. (Our ceiling is "fuzzy", so swatting them up there is off limits.)

It was a small price to pay for a fun gathering with new friends and a delightful kickoff to the holiday season.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunny Sunday

After enjoying an extra hour of sleep to the pitter patter of the rain, we awoke this morning to a sunny Sunday. With a few welcome hours in the morning sun, our soaked awning and slide covers were able to dry before we rolled them up for the ride home.

Talk around the campground was the rain total for the weekend was being measured in several inches, like four to six. Through it all, Bullwinkle stayed warm and dry. But, all that water did make a mess of the windshield. Our girl kitty was captivated by the the clean up process.

Our second weekend at our new home campground did not disappoint. With perfectly scripted weather that gave us dry roads and sunshine to and fro, and a perfectly dreary rainy Saturday in between, it was exactly what we needed for a very relaxing extra-hour-long weekend not too far from home.

All of us, including the cats, are already ready to go back.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Back to the Delta

According to Bay Area lore, "rainy season" starts on Halloween and lasts until Tax Day. This year, the rain arrived right on schedule, with the area's first major storm forecasted for Halloween weekend.

We opted to celebrate this change of season at our new "home campground", the Stockton Delta KOA. With a 100% probability of rain, we loaded up DVDs, chili fixins, an extra quilt and the cats for what we hoped would be a wet but cozy camping weekend.

All was dry for our Friday afternoon drive. We arrived in time to enjoy a cocktail by the fire on our patio. (That's it behind the raindrops in the pic.) As our dinner preparations got underway, the rain began to fall. We slept to the pitter patter of raindrops on our fiberglass roof. (We highly recommend that!) This morning, a brief but welcome break in the rain gave us an opportunity to go for a long walk around the campground, which is significantly quieter than it was when we visited earlier this month.

P loaded chili fixins into the crockpot and we settled in for a long lazy afternoon of movies, reading, surfing and a little college football while rain continued to pitter patter on the roof. The aroma of simmering chili added extra comfort to the cozy day.

The cats have done great on this trip. They definitely recognized Bullwinkle as a place they've been before. And, they settled in quickly. They are a couple of camping kitties!

Besides the made-to-order wet weekend, we had a dream come true when we pulled Bullwinkle up to the pump on our way here Friday afternoon. Gas was just $2.79 a gallon. (M had to take a picture!)

This is some kind of record for us. When we bought the moose back in June, our first fill-up cost us $4.58 a gallon!


Sunday, October 26, 2008


Our last day in Calistoga started off with an early show. While enjoying a few more minutes of post-dawn slumber, we were awakened by quick bursts of a propane burner. "I know that sound," piped M as she jumped out of bed. "It is balloon!"

What a gorgeous way to start a day that wraps up a fun-filled weekend.

Bullwinkle and his trusty sidekick Rocky both made the trip to the Napa County Fairgrounds on Friday morning. They're not set up for towing (yet), so P and M caravanned through wine country to the top of the valley to set up camp quickly before taking off in the Jeep for a bicycling and wine event at the nearby Meadowood Resort.

What a treat to have wheels on camping trip, especially in Napa Valley. With the grapes recently harvested, the vineyards are beginning to display their brilliant fall color. The weather was spectacular all weekend. So, we got out and enjoyed it as much as we could. Saturday we explored in and around Calistoga and did a little geocaching, with mixed results.

Calistoga is a quaint little artsy town known for its healing mud baths and mineral springs. Sculptures dot the landscape, including this creation outside the Calistoga Beverage Company plant. The detail was amazing. (And, there is supposed to be a cache in there somewhere, but we couldn't find it.)

With lots of time for fun and relaxation with Rocky and Bullwinkle, we give Calistoga a big "thumbs up".

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Traveling with Cats

All four of us are home once again. The furry RVing "newbies" have both found sunny spots to take a well-deserved rest after their maiden voyage. We are absolutely delighted with how they fared. Despite the hide-n-seek incident on Friday night, the weekend went very smoothly.

We learned that our cats like being in a camped motorhome much more than they like riding in one that's rolling down the road. En route, they were confined to their carriers. Though they were safe and comfortable, they weren't all that happy. One of them made his feelings quite clear...and quite vocal. (Thankfully, our travel time was short.)

By this morning, our feline friends had actually adapted quite nicely. Our girl kitty hopped out of bed this morning and headed straight for her favorite spot...the front window. From there she could keep an eye on everything -- campers, dogs, falling leaves. So much to see. She makes a nice dashboard cat, don't you think?

While it took our boy kitty longer to get comfy, he managed to make up for lost time. While his sister was peering out the front window this morning, he was the last to get out of bed. Though we needed to get busy getting packed up to go, we had an extra cup of coffee and let him sleep. How could you disturb this?

The Stockton Delta KOA delighted us, too. In our search for a "home campground" within an hour or so from our house, we think we've found it. For a quick weekend place to get away for a night or two, this might just be the place. We'll definitely be back.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Stockton Delta KOA

After a too-long camping hiatus, we're out and about for another weekend on the Delta. This time we're checking out the Stockton Delta KOA. It's in between Lodi and Rio Vista on a two lane crummy California highway that - because it's the Delta - is extremely windy. (That's blowing wind, not winding.) P gets big points for maneuvering the moose along the route, which ended with this rather long and narrow bridge across a waterway. We were really glad to see that red and yellow teepee on the water tower.

This stretch of land along the water is called the Tower Park Resort, which features a restaurant, marina, many covered berths containing boats of every size and shape, and of course our KOA. We have a special place in our hearts for KOAs, because we spent our first night ever in an RV under the warm glow of the teepee. And, that's where the RVing bug got us! All KOAs are not created equal, but this one rates right up there. While a scenic shoreline is just steps away, we're actually quite sheltered from the Delta breezes. (We especially appreciate that!) We have outdoor furniture and a chiminea at our site, which is a nice extra.

Our pull-through site is well shaded and doesn't block our satellite. Now, that's something special! This weekend the campground is home to the California Bluegrass Association, which is hosting its fall campout. There are pickers and fiddlers warming up around the place. It reminds us of the many trips we used to make to Winfield, KS for the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival. We were in a little tent back then. We'll have to take Bullwinkle there sometime!

This is a big weekend for our cats, too. We got brave (or crazy) and decided to bring them with us. So far, so good. One cat is quite comfortable with her home on wheels. She camped out on the sofa and checked things out while her "daddy" watched KU beat Colorado this morning. Rock chalk!

The other cat is slower to adapt to his new surroundings. The place is filled with new sites and sounds that he's finding a bit unnerving. Plus, there are all kinds of places to explore in this box on wheels. He managed to squeeze his way into a hiding spot behind the glove compartment. That wasn't much fun for anybody! Thankfully, he got out OK and we didn't have to disassemble the dashboard. (Wouldn't that have been something?)

We're looking forward to everyone getting more comfortable as our big plans for tonight are to kick back and relax beside the fire and listen to the sounds of some mighty fine West Coast bluegrass.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

First Bath

We decided to take advantage of a "no camping" weekend and give Bullwinkle his first bath. After a couple of months on the road and several nights by the sea and in dusty campgrounds, this moose was overdue.

We had no clue how you give a moose a bath. We did our research and loaded up our supplies: a couple of buckets, microfiber towels and baby shampoo. (Really, baby shampoo!) Our storage facility has a handy wash area. For $25 we had four hours of access to a space to work, a long hose and water. With that, we went to work on our 1,325 square-foot task.

We started with the roof. P bravely climbed up the ladder in back (not the one in the pic) and hosed things down. (13 feet is a long way up!)

We divided the work fairly equally. P took care of everything above six feet or so. M washed and dried everything below. Here's P rinsing away with his feet firmly on the ground, behind our nifty new ladder that helped him reach the highest heights with ease.

Here's what makes this ladder nifty. It folds up to the size of a two-by-four and stores nicely in our pass-through bay in the "basement".

About three hours later we were done. And, Bullwinkle was once again sparkling in the sun.

Here are a couple of before and after pics, so you can admire our work, too! (Click on any pic for a closeup view.)

The front was the worst. Hundreds of bugs have met their maker on this grungy surface.

Now it's ready for that first "splat", which will probably happen three minutes into our next trip.

The sides were bug-free, but covered in road grime.

Now it's clean as a whistle, and ready for our next voyage.

We're not sure you can tell a difference in these pictures. But, we sure can. We're both moaning and groaning with stiff muscles after all this work. Though, the sense of accomplishment after cleaning a beast like this is really something!

Meanwhile, Bullwinkle will sit gathering dust for awhile. It'll be next month before we hit the road again.

See you then!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Back from Ft. Bragg

The Northern California coast is absolutely stunning. No doubt about it. And, we soaked up as much as we could over Labor Day weekend at Ft. Bragg.

The drive to and from Ft. Bragg is not for the faint of heart, especially in a motorhome. On the way up, we turned off Highway 101 at Cloverdale, and did a 50-something-mile gig of hairpin turns with very narrow shoulders. There was a flat part or two, but it all seemed pretty darn curvy. With the 50 curvy miles behind us, we faced a 15-mile drive north on equally curvy Highway 1 to Ft. Bragg. Sure, there was an amazing ocean coast to our left, but I don't think either one of us actually saw it.

After a very relaxing four-night weekend, we took an alternate route back. From Ft. Bragg, we went just a couple of miles north of our campgrounds on a very straight patch of Highway 1 to the intersection of Highway 20. Highway 20 is a 33-mile stretch of curvy roads that are slightly wider and might, in a few spots, actually have a shoulder. The road is shared with cars, trucks, other RVs and high-speed logging trucks. Yes, it's an adventure! Where Highway 20 intersects with Highway 101 we headed south and experienced slow single lane traffic, road construction, hills, curves, the bumpiest roads known to mankind and traffic. Lots of fun.

Round these parts, when people head to Ft. Bragg, a great debate remains: Do you take Highway 128 out of Cloverdale or Highway 20 out of Willits?

We say it's six of one, half-dozen of the other.

Let the great debate continue!