Monday, November 26, 2012

Hot(water) and Cold(nights)

We are continuing our southern migration down highway 395 south of Reno and Carson City, Nv.  I think we are roughly following the same route that RV Sue followed a month or so ago.  We moved back across the line into California – with a full fuel tank again.  We came to a nice lookout with a view of Mono Lake, which reminded me that Sue had mentioned all the stickers on the guardrail there.


It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day up there, and all the flashing ‘wind-warning’ signs must have been referring to another planet, as it was quite calm.  I spent a bit of time there looking at my California back roads maps and searching with my binoculars for a likely camp spot down below.  Part way up the road towards Bodie state park looked inviting, but a drive up that way was soon heading into the higher elevations and rough roads, neither of which was good.  Continuing on, after a short stop at the Forest Service Info center overlooking Mono lake to ask questions and pick up more maps, we kept cruising southward.  RV Sue’s description of the Hartley campground sounded interesting, but when we got in that area, it was well over 7000’ in elevation, and there was patches of ssss-now in the bush, and too many trees for the warming rays of the sun to get through.  Past the June Lake Loop we went and the turnoff to Mammoth Mtn, all pretty high elevation.

Finally down on the treeless flats, the map showed the likelihood of some hotsprings, so we took the first few random turnoffs and soon found ourselves in a tiny parking lot – next to a free, outdoor, scenic, hot, – hotsprings!


Being the US Thanksgiving weekend, the popularity of the place was evident, so I never did have the chance to have a dip the first evening – without being overly friendly with groups of strangers.


Daytime temperatures here have been just wonderfully warm and sunny, but the high elevation and clear skies results in night time temps well below freezing.  I was a little bit concerned about my plumbing, but put a remote thermometer in a critical plumbing compartment, so that I could roll over in bed and be reassured that all was well – and it was.CIMG8360

First thing in the morning, as the sun was just coming over the distant mountains, rest assured that I was soaking in that hot water.  Hailey thought I was crazy getting up at that hour, and stayed in her warm bed.


I had the place all to myself, unless you count the curious ravens flying past, or the red-tailed hawk out on his morning hunt, or the lbb’s (little brown birds) coming out of their night time perches to soak up the warm morning sun.


Since it was a nice warm day and I had nowhere special to go, it was time to clean up and organize a bit in the rig, pull out the solar panel to take advantage of those rays.  I replaced two badly decayed and cracking roof vent covers that I had been carrying around waiting for such an opportunity.

And, although my Bell TV worked fine at a stopover in Oregon, I must hereby admit that Wandering Willy was right when he warned that my system would not work down here as it has in years past. Don’t worry, we’ll think of something else to ‘discuss’ when out paths cross again down here somewhere.

With all the days hard work out of the way, there was nothing left to do but enjoy another relaxing soak while enjoying the sunset. 

(All sunset photos taken from the outdoor tub!)


From here, should we decide to leave (!), it will likely be to head further south and check out some of the camping opportunities described by RV Sue, and Howard & Linda from RV Dreams in the Lone Pine area.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cattle Camp

The campground was closed at Lower Falls in the Trinity-Shasta National Forest, but we found a nearby spot in the woods that worked fine.  We checked out some of the short hikes and viewpoints in the area including more waterfalls and a small dam.  As we were heading back out to the main road (89), we happened across another campground that was open.  Though we don’t often stay in campgrounds, it is nice to drive through some of them and take a look anyway.  This one was regularly $15, but was closed/open for the winter!  CIMG8354CIMG8355

There were just two other rigs in residence, and the place was nice with tall pines, and along the river as well.  With the open/closed price we just couldn’t resist.  After a slow start and dawdling along at some other viewpoints, it was already getting on in the day 3:30PM +-, so we just pulled in and stopped.  This with the knowledge that it would put us well behind schedule!  Now we only have 152.5 days to see everything else we wanted to see this winter!  Another hard day on the road – all of 15km (9miles).  The bush was pretty damp, but using our best Boy Scout skills, a cheery fire was soon burning to ward off the evening chill.  It was our first campground of the season, and first fire.

In the morning, with a hot coffee in hand, it was back on the road, and everyone assumed their traveling positions.


There had been some frost overnight, and some slash fires further down the valley had created some interesting smoke patterns in the calm air.PB226840PB226838PB226835

Susanville was an opportunity to have a bite to eat, and pick up a few groceries and miscellaneous items, as well as just a splash of diesel so we could make it to the cheaper stuff across the line in Reno.  I guess I could have poured in the 5 gallons in the back, but whatever.  From Reno, after fueling up and getting some propane, it was south to Carson City. In spite of the well below night time temps, it looks like we will be headed down the 395 back into eastern California …

Thursday, November 22, 2012


The next day, the winds had abated considerably, and the rain had reduced to ‘almost’ 100% probability, so it was time to move on.  We had to decide whether to continue on down the coast, as is our norm, or head inland for a speedier departure.  The casino in Florence provided the next nights parking spot, after a quick run in the rain to register with security.  From there it was a direct shot to Eugene on I-5, but the coast deserved one more chance.

But since the rains continued pretty much constantly, at Reedsport the decision was made to head for the freeway and make a mile.

Even though I-5 is the freeway, which I normally avoid, it did provide a change of scenery that I had not seen in some time.  But I don’t think it was a fuel saver (other than less expensive prices) with the numerous steep mountain passes on the way to the California line.

My green grapes did not interest the inspectors at the California ‘fruit customs’, so we breezed through there, straight into a nice view of Mt Shasta, already wearing her winter whites.


At the first inviting turnoff, we got off the main drag and headed into the California hills with perhaps Susanville in our sights.  Since it was getting near dusk with these very short days we started to watch out for good campspots along the way.

The forest service campground we found was closed and locked for the season, but we quickly found a nearby spot hidden in the woods to spend the night.


Hailey spotted some birds or squirrels outside in the morning sun (!!!), and had to get out to keep them all honest.  She was glad she did not have to wade through deep snow or freeze her toes, like her last few outdoor experiences back home.


In the morning, we had a look around at the nearby Lower Falls viewpoint and picnic area.


The garbage bins looked somewhat familiar, and sure enough, they are imported from Lethbridge, Alberta.PB226833

Well, the sun is shining, the roads are bare and dry – I wonder what we will see or where we will end up today?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Foul Weather at the Cape

Last time I passed through Cape Foulweather on the Oregon coast, it was sunny, warm, and calm as I recall.  Hailey went for a stroll with me to the lookout.

Not this time.  The cape lived up to it’s name this time – and then some.

We reached the coast after a wet night in the parking lot of the air and space museums at McMinnville.CIMG8336

Once we hit the coast, the weather really started to pick up, or deteriorate, depending on your point of view.

The weather service was predicting some severe winds, and flooding from the rain, and they were correct.

My first choice of places to stop proved a bit exposed, and the rig was rocking so bad that I thought I might get dumped out of bed!  Reluctantly, I relocated to a more sheltered spot on a little used roadside.  The rig was no longer rocking, but the branches and cones were landing on the roof with regular crashes.  In the morning, the forecast was at it’s worst, and winds of close to 100mph were predicted – on exposed headlands on the coast.  Which is exactly what Cape Foulweather is!  It was only a few miles drive to the shelter of Beverley Beach State Park, but one section is on a bridge completely exposed to the ocean winds, and I did not want to enter the campground directly off the bridge deck.  So it seemed like the better decision just to stay put, and listen to all the reports of downed trees and power lines on the scanner – and there were lots of such reports.  I put the rain gear on and went for a stroll up to the viewpoint.  It took a few tries before I made it without being blown back.  I made a video, but it was impossible to hold the camera close to still as I hung onto a plaque for stability.

News reports put the wind speed there at about 98mph!

Cape Foulweather


Then I walked down the road along the coast for a ways, but most of the rain and ocean spray was being blown uphill by the winds.  A culvert suspended in air was trying to drain toward the ocean, but most of the water was whipped back up the hill where it could collect and run down into the culvert again.

Otter Crest road

The forecast is still fairly poor for the next few days, so it might just make sense to head back inland ;-(  and make a mile south.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

On the road south–at last!


After the final flight, it was time to take to the roads, before the weather turned bad again.


The camper had been mostly loaded and getting restless for quite a while now.


And Hailey assumed her travel position as co-pilot.CIMG8312

Driving through Banff and Kootenay Parks, we got to act lake tourists where we used to toil away for a meagre wage.


We headed south in British Columbia, before stopping at the world famous St. Mary’s River B&B  between Cranbrook and Kimberley, to visit the owners and managers Doug and Dale. 

After an evening of fine food and hospitality we were on the move southbound again in the morning, but not before pouring in the last 5 gallons of premium Canadian diesel fuel in, to enable us to make it across the border. Border crossing was smooth, with only a fridge check, that showed no contraband avocados (or firewood) were aboard.

After topping off the tanks again south of the line, we hooked up on I-90 westbound through Spokane, then south on 395 to the Columbia River.  It was dark by this time, but we found our favourite boondocking spot just below the John Day dam – on the mighty Columbia River, on the Washington side, which is much quieter than the Oregon side.  But the barges do slide by in the night, close up to the shore as they manoeuvre in and out of the locks to pass the dam.


There was a bit of rain overnight, but the temps stayed well above freezing, so I think we have crossed the threshhold when the camper no longer needs to be winterized – Yay!

There were some Native fishing structures along the shore, so Hailey thought she would try her luck, but there were no fish to be seen.


Headed for Portland and the coast …

(Tried to publish this for two hours in Biggs, Or, and it refused to go online …)