Monday, February 22, 2021

Shake down trip to Morro Bay.

 February 22, 2021

Weather and our schedule aligned to finally take our first overnight trip in the new van. Decided to head to Morro Bay someplace we have only driven by and not spent any time at. Made a reservation at the Morro Bay state park for our first night and at 43 Ranch olive oil a Harvest Host site. 

We packed up and headed down I-5. Almond trees were in full bloom, springtime was arriving in the great central valley of California. 

One of the items I have needed to work on is to slow down and smell the flowers. Not to drive 8+ hours a day to get where we wanted to go. 

We decided to stop at the viewpoint on I-5  just below Patterson. Got out and we could smell the flowers, that is the almond blossoms. The van was running perfectly and I had set the cruise at 65 MPH to enjoy the day. 

California has many historical markers at the viewpoints along our roads. This one is from the viewpoint we stopped at. 

Clear day as we continued south on I-5. This was also a trip to find out things about our new van.  The adaptive cruise control is almost addictive, it just works. 

We stopped at the rest area just above Hwy 41, our turn to the coast. Nice to be able to stop and have everything we need to have lunch with us. Many people feel the Class B vans are too small. Coming from our little truck camper the van is large inside. 

Heading up the hills to the coast the Ford EcoBoost did not slow at all.  We arrived at the Morro Bay state park and got settled for the night. The picture to the right is our spot for the night. We walked the campground and checked out all the other rigs there. We were surprised that the row we were in had 10 other Class B motorhomes. 

We used our microwave at dinner and as the evening cooled off we turned on the Truma heater. The Truma makes almost no noise so we just turned the temp down when we went to bed and left the heater running. Changing the couch to a bed was very easy and took less than 10 minutes, I am sure we will get it down to under 5 minutes. Happy to report the cushions in the van made a great mattress. This will be the first RV we have had that will not require a sleeping pad to be comfortable. 

At 5:30 AM we heard a generator start. Sounded like it was a few spots away, why would someone fire up a generator at that time.  Tried to fall back asleep, but we were awake for the day. Turned the heater up and the van warmed quickly. Used the induction cooktop for the first time. Really heated fast. Also, that generator started again. Looked to see who's rig and was and found it was our generator.  I had set the Auto Generator Start to start when the voltage drops.  I knew the generator was the new super quiet one. Did not realize it did not vibrate enough to wake us when it came on. The fridge runs on 12 volts, the induction cooktop and microwave are 110 volts through the invertor. I have adjusted the setting on the Auto Generator Start and will check in the evening to see if the batteries need to be charged.  Don't want to be that guy running the generator at 5:30 AM.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021.

After we got up we had what I call our camping breakfast. Yogurt, banana, and Veronica's homemade muffin. In the old camper, we had metal REI coffee mugs. We upgraded to ceramic mugs so we could use them in the microwave if needed. Thank you to Garry and Wanda Pardini for the mugs. 

After breakfast we took a walk to the marina next to the State Park. Clear morning, no wind, and t-shirt weather.  

It was what I call a Chamber of Commerce morning.  These are the mornings you hear about and hope to have when you go to the coast. Most of the time you are in the fog or wind. 

After our hike, we cleaned up and got on our way for the day. Drove north to check out the Morro Bay beach. Found coastal access with a small parking lot. Luckily the van will fit in a standard parking space. Looked for sea glass and found none, but we did collect several sand dollars on the beach. 

Just a picture-perfect day on the beach. The sand was superfine, guess this is why no beach glass. The sky and surf were spectacular. 

Decided to drive up Hwy 1 as far as San Simeon.  Our next stop was Cayucos a small town that we have only passed on the Highway.  We parked, masked up, and walked to the end of their pier. There were plaques along the rail walking out the pier. Looks like it was rebuilt with local donations. There were several surfers in the ocean but the surf was flat without the wind.  Back driving up Highway 1 we took the first left exit going into Cambria another town we had just driven through. We drove toward the ocean looking for coastal access. Found it but only two spots that were both full. Some really nice home by the ocean in Cambria. 

Our next stop going north was San Simeon where Hearst Castle is located.  Covid has the Castle closed, but Sebastion's store and Hearst's winery were open across the street. We drove by but did not stop. We turned and headed south stopping at the viewpoints along the coast.  The picture on the left is looking back to the Hearst Pier.  12 miles up the road Highway 1 is closed by a landslide. 

At the ocean viewpoint there were several plaques talking about the history of Sebastion's store. Almost every plaque had a fat squirrel on or next to the plaque.  

We continued south to Highway 46 and our turn back toward Highway 101. The road climbed up to a fantastic view looking back to Morro Bay and Morro Rock. The clouds and the wind were both coming in. We had had a great day on the coast. 

Next stop our first Harvest Host stay at 43 Ranch. 43 Ranch is a third-generation farm/ranch. We were given an olive oil tasting and I could not believe the differences in flavor. They have two areas to camp. Down at the mill or up on the hill. Reading the reviews we requested up on the hill. We followed the host's ATV up the hill to our spot for the night.  43 Ranch was a great host and had firewood set up in the fire pit ready to light.  

Veronica made up cheese and fruit plates. I poured a glass of wine and we enjoyed the view.  

Our spot on the hill.

Far in the distance, you can see an MB van camping our closest neighbor. 

I took the lazy afternoon to catch up on the internet. We used the microwave to defrost and heat a dish Veronica packed for the trip. I really like the large fridge and freezer we have in the van. I did remember to fire up the generator and get a full charge on the batteries. Did not want to be the guy running the generator at 5:30 AM again.  We watched the sunset cast shadows across the hills on the other side of the valley. Sorry forgot to take a picture. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Left is the sunrise we woke up to Wednesday morning. Took the picture out the back van window, under a nice warm down blanket. Going to get used to this Glamping. 

We got going early and added a stop to our trip. Carmel River State Beach where we have found some great sea glass. A quick trip up Highway 101 and across Reservation Road to Highway 1. 

Got a great parking spot in the small parking lot. Walked out to the Carmel River State Beach. The wind was howling and the tide and surf were up. The local PD was telling everyone to stay off the wet sand because of the surf.  

When we go to this spot the sand was dry one side to the other. We saw a couple run across. Our special spot to find sea glass is on the other side.  I did not get this old being stupid so the glass will wait for our next trip.

A short video of the surf going over into the lagoon.

Our total haul of sea glass. 

After the beach, we headed for lunch with my best friend Ron Giannini. We picked up sandwiches at the Corralitos Market and Sausage Co.  Worth the stop if you are in the area. After lunch and a visit with Ron, we headed home. The wind had picked up when we got to I-5 and headed into a headwind. The Ford may be too smart for me. After miles of fighting the wind, the Ford beeped at me and a message come on the dash. "Driver warning, recommend you take a rest"  what does it think? Drunk or tired?  Several more miles and I get another warning. 

We had a great first trip, and I think we are going to like the new Class B van.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Goodbye 2020 Hello 2021

 Well, 2020 was not a good year for travel. Only put up one trip report, Death Valley in February just before Covid shut things down. Our Tundra and FWC sat most of the year. We did make two trips to Schertz Texas to see and help our daughter. In December our daughter gave birth to our first grandson. By far the best thing that happened in 2020. Having the camper did make travel and isolation possible at the same time. 1600 miles and only talked to the gas pump. On our first trip to Texas at the end of September, we loaded the truck with lots of stuff for our daughter. With her own home, it was time for her to have the treasures we have been saving. 

This was a short trip and we only stayed for a few weeks. We did talk on the way down about moving from the truck camper to a Class B van motorhome. I spend time looking online at Class B vans and we found one we thought would work for us.  Did the deal over the phone and internet. We would be picking it up on our return trip. Stopped in Colton CA to pick up the Class B van and there were some problems to be sorted out. Spent the night in the new van at the RV dealer.

Brand new and found so many problems we walked away and got our money refunded. We owned the van on the left for about 26 hours. 

Our search for a new Class B continued. We found nothing as Covid made Class B's and frankly most RVs hard to find. 

So after being home for a few weeks it was time to head back to Texas. On this trip, we would be away from home for along time. Left on November 14 for the long drive to Texas.


We celebrated Veronica's birthday waking up on BLM land in Quartzsite AZ.  

We were able to have Thanksgiving and Christmas with our daughter for the first time in 8 years. 

We enjoyed the warm December weather in Texas. Got to do so many fun things with Remie our 2-year-old granddaughter. And best of all we were there to welcome our grandson Max home from the Hospital. 

But soon it was time to head back home to California. When we returned we would start our search for a new Class B motorhome. After the problems with the one in Colton CA, we had narrowed our search to Class B's the Pleasure-Way and Coachmen.  We also knew we wanted to see one in person before we committed to a new Class B. I found a dealer in Sacramento Ca who carried both and would have two for us to look at when we got home. The picture to the right was our last night in our old camper. Just outside of Gila Bend AZ. We had a lot of fun in that camper. 

After checking out the two brands of campers we decided on the Coachmen Beyond 22C on a Ford Transit chassis. We have gone from Camping to Glamping. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Death Valley February 2020

Tuesday 2-4-2020

We have wanted to make this trip for several years. Just been too busy with retirement and traveling. Our plan was to leave on Superbowl Sunday and miss the traffic. I looked at the weather report and saw high winds, decided to wait two days and miss the wind. We got up early and were driving by 7:30 AM. It is a long way from Stockton to Death Valley in the winter as Tioga Pass is closed for the winter. 

We head up Hwy 58  and climbed out of the valley. 

Drove through some areas we have not been to. The town of Trona looked like it was deserted with most of the town empty and buildings boarded up. Only the factory had signs of life. I looked when we got home and found most of the employees drive from Ridgecrest. Almost 8 hours later we arrived at Furnace Creek. We walked into the Visitors Center and the lights were out.  Asked why and were told the winds on Sunday had knocked the power out. Some areas were running on generators.  We have always tried to eat at the National Park lodges when we visit. We had reservations at the Death Valley Inn and drove over to find they did not have power from the generators. No dinner for us at the Inn. We were told the Ranch at Furnace Creek had a generator and were serving dinner.  

The post below is from the Death Valley NP website. I almost feel sorry for the guests paying $400+ per night and being given a glow stick. 

Got to the Ranch at Furnace Creek and they were open but were told we needed reservations. Said we had reservations at the Inn but they were closed. The host pulled out the reservation list from the Inn and asked our names. Both restaurants owned by the same company and we were good for dinner. Both of us had a great meal after a long day. 

Our campsite for the next two nights. 

We settled in and made out plans for the next day. Just a little breeze until after sunset when the wind picked up to 40+ mph gusts.  The camper was rocking until way after midnight. 

Wednesday 2-5-2020

We had a beautiful sunrise to start our first full day. 

I decided to follow a suggestion from a friend on Take it easy and enjoy the park, don't try to cram too much into the day. After breakfast, we were off to Badwater the lowest spot in the park. 

We walked out about a mile into the dry lake where the salt turned to a smooth white. Did pass a spaceman with his friend taking pictures. I am sure there was a story about this. 

No wind and just a fine day to walk, temp in the mid 60's.

Leaving Badwater we were off to Artist Palette. A nice one-way loop, smooth pavement twisting and lots of ups and downs. It made me wish I had my Ducati here. 

After Artist Pallet, we drove on and saw lots of cars at Golden Canyon. Pulled in and decided to take the hike. 

Interesting to me that this was an asphalt paved road many years ago. Time, wind and a little rain have removed most of the asphalt. 

Long walk up the canyon, it felt shorter as we returned downhill. Also, time for lunch when we got back. Nice to have the camper and everything we need for lunch.  After lunch, we drive to Zabriskie Point and start our climb out of the valley.

The views at Zabriskie point were fantastic.  My pictures do not do them justice. 

Next, we drive higher to Dante's View and overlook all of the Valley. Badwater is just below Dante's View and we can see where we walked this morning. 

It was very windy at Dante's View and cold.

We had two Crows or Ravens soring in the wind in front of where we parked. They put on quite a show. 

We have had a full day and it was time to head back to camp. The gas station at Furnace Creek was still closed. Tomorrow we will drive Titus Canyon that has been on my bucket list for a few years. 

Sunset as we arrive back at our camp.

Thursday 2-6-2020

We both enjoyed a good night's sleep after a full day of walking. Today we will be driving more than walking. First, we are off to Beatty NV. for gas before we drive Titus Canyon Road. The road starts in Nevada before entering Death Valley NP. The sign advised allowing 3 hours for the 27-mile drive.  The first 7 miles were bad washboard and had to stay below 10 MPH even though the road was straight. When we started climbing the road delivered with great views. Dropping into the canyon you could see Leadfield far below. 

Video of our drive.

Climbing up to the top.

Around this corner, we drop into the Titus Canyon.

Leadfield, interesting story. The product of extensive and fraudulent advertising by the Western Lead Mine Company and C.C. Julian, the town boomed in 1925. His advertising posters showed steamboats navigating the Amargosa River to Leadfield, ignoring the fact that the Amargosa River is dry much of the time and does not run within 20 miles of Leadfield. Historic photographs show some frame and corrugated metal buildings and there is evidence of a few dugouts, but the majority of the denizens of Leadfield lived in tents of varying sizes and construction. The population peaked at around 300 in 1926, with a post office opening in August of that year. However, by February 1927, the post office closed down and the town died. Just a get rich scheme gone bad. 

After Leadfield we enter the high walled area of Titus Canyon. It is amazing to see how the walls were carved by water. Many of the rock walls were polished smooth. As we approached the end we were surprised to see hikers coming up the canyon. If we do Death Valley again we will do the hike up the lower canyon.

After leaving Titus Canyon we stopped at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. This is a Google photo as we did not get a picture. The sand was as soft as wheat flour in your hand.  I have never seen sand this fine. Must have been a bad place to be when the wind was up last Sunday.

Next up our hike for the day, Mosaic Canyon. This was a recommendation from several people and it did not disappoint. 

A wide gravel stream bed quickly turns to rock and polished marble slot canyon. A lot of beauty in a short hike. We just did the lower canyon and could not have been more than a 1/2 mile up and a 1/2 mile back.

We had planned to stay at Stovepipe Wells campground tonight. We visited with some campers in the parking lot. They said they enjoyed the Lone Pine campground. It was early and staying by Lone Pine would make tomorrow's drive home much shorter. So off to Lone Pine, we go. We had stayed at Alabama Hills and Veronica saw Turtle Creek campground on her All Stays phone app. We were surprised with a temp of 73 degrees when we got to Lone Pine. Turtle Creek is a BLM campground and only $2.50 with our senior pass.  We camped close to Turtle Creek and could hear the creek all night.  Very few campers this time of the year.


Another fine night's sleep and we decided to have breakfast in Lone Pine.  Veronica checked her phone and said the Alamaba Hills Cafe and Bakery sounded good. Small local place with great food, if you are in the area give it a try. 

We split the morning special of Ham and Eggs. Don't think I could eat it all by myself. 

After breakfast, we headed north on Hwy 395.  The east side of the Sierra Nevada is a special place with great views. I was disappointed there was not more snow on the peaks and very little around the highway by Mammoth.

By the time we got to the Carson Spur on Hwy 88, we felt like we were almost home.  Not much snow for this area. At 6,000 feet there was bare ground. At 5,000 feet no snow.