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!