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.


  1. Good report Bill,
    Also I like your simple website. I have been thinking of doing the same thing. Still researching as I need a "super simple one!
    See you soon at Sugarloaf. Looking forward to seeing your new Hawk.
    RC Pilot Jim

  2. Sounds like a great shake-down; glad you are happy with the new one. I keep meaning to replace the incandescent bulb in the porch light with an LED of the same form factor; maybe you could do that, too. Is that campground in Monterrey the one on the top of the hill?