Friday, April 25, 2014

2014 FWC Rally at Sugarloaf State Park

Got out of town at 11:30 AM and headed to the FWC Rally at Sugarloaf SP. Driving up I-5 saw sign that Hwy 12 was closed due to an accident. Had to make a detour to Walnut Creek and Isleton to get to Rio Vista and back on 12. Most traffic I have seen on Hwy 160.

In and out of the rain all the way to the Sonoma Valley. We stopped at the Sonoma Market to do some shopping. I recommend anyone driving by stop, one of the best deli's around.  For lunch on the way up we had looked online and the Cafe Citti in Kenwood looked like somewhere we would like to try. We were impressed with lunch, Smoked Chicken Caesar Salad for Veronica and Calamari Sandwich for me. Both were great. 

Short 4 mile drive up the hill to Sugarloaf State Park, our first time there.
Light rain falling as we checked in and found a campsite.

Being from the hot valley we found a place under the trees for shade. This was be a error as we would find later. Four Wheel Camper had a happy hour for the Friday arrivers. We met some nice people there. Not too many from the southern CA rally we attended last fall. Rain was picking up so we headed back to our camper for dinner and to get warmed up.  I continue to be impressed with how well everything is working in the new camper. Read books for a couple of hours and got ready for bed. The automatic thermostat drops to 45 degrees at night and back to 68 in the morning. The heater came on 4 times at night as the temperature dropped to 37 degrees that night. We were awake each time it came on, due to the error we had make earlier picking this campsite. The rain collected as it fell though  the trees. The sound was some what like tennis balls hitting the roof. Not a good nights sleep on Friday night. 

Saturday April 26, 2014

Cold damp morning, but blue sky breaking through. We are early risers so we had coffee and yogurt in the warm camper. FWC was having rolls and fruit at 8:00 AM. We walked down and visited, it was nice to not have rain falling. 

I set up my Solar in a Bag at 9:00 AM and had a full charge on both camper batteries by 2:00 PM. The DC fridge is working just like the fridge at home, great. The solar is easily keeping the batteries charged, very happy with this set up.

At 10:00 AM the tour of the campers started. Everyone has made changes to their campers so they are how they want them. I do not think there were two campers the same. FWC brought the new flatbed UTE camper. Lots on interest in it, lots of room inside and a queen size bed without a pull out. I can see me making a rear awning for our Hawk. Would have been nice in the rain. 

This is one of the things from the tour I have never seen before. Campfire in a can, ran on propane

This was our campground neighbor's rig.  New Tundra with Aluminess bumpers front and read. Hawk looked great with this set up.

After lunch we headed for the Q&A session at the amphitheater.  How often do you get an update from the company owner and open questions. Tom covered lots of items and answered everyones questions. 

Nice to sit out in the warm sunshine. Veronica decided that we should move the camper out from under the trees for Saturday night. I have such a smart wife it made a big difference when it started raining at 4:00 AM Sunday morning. 

Dinner was a potluck with FWC supplying chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs.

 These were some of the best Artichokes I have had.

This table was full when dinner started.

Brenda from FWC kept the wine flowing.

Lots of good conversation after dinner. The two Hawk owners from Petaluma,  who we met at Pinnacles NP showed up for dinner. It was nice seeing them again, hope to run into them camping sometime.  There was a star show at Robert Ferguson Observatory just a short walk away. However the clouds were coming in and Veronica and I decided not to make the walk up the hill. 

Sunday April 27, 2014

Morning came early as the rain started about 4:00 AM. The noise was much better as we were not under the trees. We both fell back asleep until the heater came on to warn up the camper. 47 degrees this morning so the heater did not come on all night.  Light rain falling so we had breakfast in our warm and dry camper. FWC was having a full breakfast at 8:00 AM but were a little late getting going with the rain. They did put on a great spread with breakfast burritos and fruit, eggs and meats. More than we could eat. 

The lady below drove her own camper to the rally. She must have cracked 100 eggs. 

We left as we came in the rain. We had a great weekend and  less than a two hour drive home.  There is a Southern FWC Rally the end of October. Depending on what we have planned we may make the drive south. 

Video of the Rally.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pinnacles NP and Monterey, shake down trip in the new camper. 4-6-2014

Put this trip off a week because of rain and had some of the best weather of the year. Left Stockton Sunday morning and headed for Pinnacles NP. Strange year for weather as the hills looked like late November just turning green. Not a lot of spring wild flowers but the ones out were beautiful.

Hwy 25 driving to Pinnacles. Waves of yellow mustard over the green hills

Passed a lot of campers and RVs leaving the park as we drove down. Arrived to see a Campground Full sign, did not expect this on a Sunday night. Went in to be sure and was told "is that sign still out from yesterday"?  Sounds like they fill on the weekend but almost always have space on the weekdays.

We found the park much more wooded than expected. Stream was flowing from the rain last week.

Found our spot and got the camper set up.

Time to read about the park.

After we set up took a walk around to check out the campground. We stayed in the no elec area, smaller sites and very nice. The elec area was flat,  wide open and full of large RVs not where we wanted to be. Came back to camp and opened up Tom Clancy, a newer 2007 Tundra drive up with a Hawk on the back to say hi. Their friend saw our camper and told them where we were. Talked for awhile and they told us to stop by their camp site. 

The two other FWC's in the park. This was also the first trip for the couple with the Tundra and Hawk. They purchased both together in Shasta, I remember seeing it on WTW.

Pictures from Pinnacles. Click for full size.

So this was our shake down trip, how is the camper working? Very good. At Pinnacles we spent our first night in the camper. At dinner we did the normal set up and found we had no knobs to hold a trash bag.  Love the new style drawer latches but they are flush and we have always had a trash bag hanging from one of the old knobs. Going to mount a couple of knobs when we get back. The main reason we purchased a new camper was the extended cabover. First night we wanted to try sleeping on the stock foam without the bed extension pulled out.  Foam was firm but I did not get sore sleeping on it. Veronica felt it was too firm. Room wise we were OK, just a little tight. 

Morning arrived and I reached down to turn on the heater and warm up the camper. The new heater not only uses less power it is quieter than the old one.  Got up, it is getting too warm! The heater was not turning off ??  First problem on our shake down trip. I tested and make sure the heater worked but did not run it up and down on temp to see if the thermostat  worked. Who wired this thing wrong?  No one to blame but myself, but I did bring a VOM with me. Quick check and I find I used the wrong lug on the back of the thermostat. Moved one wire and all is good, problem solved. We also noticed we did not hear the DC fridge at all, this was a good thing. It also worked great, just like a fridge at home. Checked the battery monitor before putting the camper down and had 3 lights on the panel. 

We did hike up to and through the caves, not a lot of pictures as the camera battery died and I left the spare in the truck.

Still lots of moss on the rocks, will be gone soon.

Tunnel on the way to the caves. 

 Tight squeeze on the trail.

The temperature  had climbed to over 80 when we left Pinnacles and headed for Monterey and the cool coast.
Monterey 4-7-2014

I learned about Monterey Veterans Park on WTW. Hard to believe there is a campground in the middle of Monterey. 

We found the campground clean, small and well kept. Restrooms were cleaned each morning and had showers. We got our spot and set up the solar to charge up the batteries. Enjoyed the weather and read our books for a couple of hours. Oh did I mention it was the middle 80's ! Warmer than at Pinnacles. After the batteries were full we drove down to the Pacific Grove and a walk along the beach

Calling my friend in Capitola, telling him I can see all the way across Monterey bay.

This is why you buy a Truck camper, park anywhere.

Just about as good as it gets on the coast.  
Like a postcard everywhere you look.  
We had an early fish dinner before driving back to the campground. Tonight Veronica wanted to try sleeping on the REI pads and the bed pulled out. What a difference, more room and very comfortable. Looks like this is how we will sleep in the camper. The next morning we had our normal breakfast of yogurt and homemade muffins. 

I checked the battery monitor and found two lights with the heater and fridge working?? Had three lights at Pinnacles and had charged on solar!! Will this be a problem? It did go to three when the heater was off. After breakfast took a morning walk around and met a couple in a Grandby they were from Petaluma same as the FWC owners we met at Pinnacles. Their camper was older and a shell build out that they purchased used. They were thinking about selling and buying a newer camper and wanted to look at ours, so we gave the tour. Feels good to hear others say they like the work you have done. I did notice after the couple left the yellow porch light was on! I had turned in on last night. An incandescent light running all night explains the lower battery level. 

So our shake down trip is over, how did it go. Really like the side dinette and the room in the camper we have now. I know it is the same footprint as the old Hawk but feels larger. The table mounts on the side and pivots out of the way.  I made the seats a little lower so our feet touch, a little narrower to get more room in the middle. That along with the extra height gives a bigger feel inside the camper.  The extra cabinets allow us to have everything put up and not laying around. Only problem was the thermostat and was fixed on the trip. Found we need to add knobs to hold a trash bag. We will still be moving things in the drawers to get them just where we want. Over all we had a great trip and look forward to many more.

Bill and Veronica.