Friday, May 23, 2014

I've been neglecting this blog for a few days, but I've been busy getting organized for the BIG TRIP. I move out of my house on June 11 and 12, so there's lots to do. I hope to post soon, mostly for my fellow RVing friends, info about modifications I've made to my RV, items that I've found make life on the road a bit more comfortable, and those things that have not earned my affections and will be left behind - they just take up space and space is at a premium in my little tin can on wheels!

To the right of the posts there are two new pages on the blog - one about food (the Darins' favorite subject except for babies) and campgrounds. It can be challenging to cook in a teensy galley and you need to be creative! Please, comment with suggestions! And for my RV ing friends, campground information is a must. I plan to camp in state, national, and Canadian provincial parks, as well as private RV camps and boondocking areas. The photos and info on the internet often do not reflect the reality...

Of course I spend time with Celia - photo of snack time in my favorite GF bakery in Portland. We had savory hand pies with eggs and spinach. Yummy!

Love the sunshine shirt!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I'm home, back in Portland. It's good to be back, and as soon as I unloaded my RV fridge I went to see Celia. I missed her a lot! She has gotten taller and her vocabulary, which was extensive when I left, is even more so. She told me to use two hands when I drive my car. I have a lot to do to get ready to leave for a year! My garden looks like a jungle.

This morning I made the only camping reservations I will make for Alaska - I prefer to stop when I feel like stopping, without deadlines or a schedule. However, vehicles are not allowed into Denali NP past the 15 mile point, unless you have a reservation for Teklanika Camp, which is 29 miles into the park. My reservations are for July 22 for four nights. Below is a photo taken by a friend of a friend, who stayed at Teklanika. I also got a Tek pass which is used on the shuttle buses to reach other areas of the park. There's an advantage of being old; I have a National Park pass (called America the Beautiful) for seniors that lets me camp for $9.25 per night in parks.

On my way back to Portland I drove past Lake Shasta - I don't think I've ever seen the lake full, but this year it is shockingly low. The fingers of the lake are dry, and all the houseboats are in dry dock. I wonder how long it will take for the marine life to recover.

Portland is very green right now. Things are blooming and the gardens in my neighborhood are beautiful!

Monday, May 12, 2014

The damaged windshield has been replaced today, but since the glue needs to dry before being subjected to freeway speeds, I am in an RV park just south of Shasta Lake. It's hot today - 90 degrees - but this park is shady with lots of big trees. Actually, it's very pleasant. Not quite the forest or rustic state park camp that I prefer, but a nice place to spend the night. This place is full of seniors, with big huge rigs. My little RV (Leisure Travel Free Spirit SS)  is dwarfed by my neighbors. There are several groups of oldies in their camp chairs sitting around drinking wine - lots of laughter and jokes about arthritis. If someone had told me two years ago that I would be in this spot and having cocktails (I've been invited to join the group across the way...) and driving an RV, I would not have believed it. What's next???

Saturday, May 10, 2014

I have a nice hole in my windshield - courtesy of a rock hurled from a truck on hwy 44, between Susanville and Mt Shasta. After driving into Redding to have the replacement windshield ordered, I am camped in Shingletown in the Mt Lassen forest. The replacement will be done on Monday afternoon so until then I've nothing to do but relax and think of all I need to accomplish before packing up my house and heading north to British Columbia and Alaska.

I usually prefer state and national parks or BLM land, and I've not been a big fan of KOA campgrounds. But this one may change my mind. Mt Lassen KOA is a friendly and well run camp, and has huge campsites for RVs. The tent sites are beautiful as well. There is a fenced off-leash area for dogs, complete with obstacle things like stairs, tunnels, and see-saws. This park is a nice combination of amenities like full hook-ups, and woodsy areas.

My campsite

Koka enjoying a rest stop along hwy 44. There are markers along the path that tell about the area being reforested after a fire. There are baby trees among the older ones. 

If I were a cow I would like to graze in this beautiful field. All the cows lying down are babies. It's a cow nursery!

A cozy place to spend a chilly morning. I have arborio, saffron, chicken, chicken stock, wine, butter and parmesan. I think I'll make risotto today.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

When I woke up in South Lake Tahoe this morning there was a bit of snow and it was very cold. I decided to walk Koka then then go back to bed to wait until things warmed up.

Cozy bed -

I was reading in bed and just happened to glance out the window as a bear walked by. I jumped up and tried to find my camera or phone or ipad (too many devices) but by the time I located something to take a photo with, he had moved away from my campsite. If you click on the photo below and look really closely,  you can see him just to the right of the big tree in the center. He looks like a little brown spot in the photo. He was being chased away by one of the park rangers.

I drove around the west side of the lake to Tahoe City, and stopped at Emerald Bay to see the view. The photo is fuzzy because it was snowing but it was so beautiful. After lunch at Rosie's in Tahoe City it was down the mountains to Grass Valley, where I had dinner with Mom and three of her buddies, including Susan who is 103 years old. These ladies have a good time after a few glasses of wine. Susan won a big card game today.

Emerald Bay

Monday, May 5, 2014

It was a crazy day, but there was beautiful scenery along the way. I left Mammoth planning to drive to Reno and then take the 80 down to Grass Valley, but those plans changed, as I will explain.

By the way, every time we used to drive to Mammoth we sped along, anxious to get there to ski. Since I wasn't in a hurry I drove around side streets in Lone Pine and Bishop. Great dog park in Bishop and Koka got tp play with two beautiful Irish setters. The setter owners are a retired couple from L.A. who now live on a little ranch outside of Bishop. They rent out some of their land for cattle grazing. I went into Schat's Bakery to see if they perchance had gluten free things but left with only a cup of coffee. Damn.

After breakfast at the cafe Whoa Nellie in the Mobil gas station in Lee Vining (if you haven't been there that might sound strange), I stopped a few times for Koka to play.

As I approached Bridgeport I was pulled over by a highway patrol who advised me to stay off of hwy 395 north of Carson City. Actually, he didn't really give advice, he said I would be stopped from traveling further north than Carson City, due to high winds. Reno was expecting a big storm and indeed there were clouds in big round shapes that looked like cotton candy.

I decided to keep going and figure out a plan when I got to Carson City. As I approached Minden the DEF fluid light came on on the dash. So I went to a gas station but they didn't carry it. There was an auto part store down the road so I purchased a gallon of the stuff but then I had to get 3 more gallons to fill it. When I opened the hood I also found that the oil cap was missing. It took about 20 minutes to find a replacement oil cap, and after refilling the DEF fluid and the window washer fluid I was on my way. Trucks usually have a DEF meter thingy next to their diesel fuel fill spot and they can tell when the fluid is low. Sprinters don't have a meter - the light just comes on and after that you can only drive so far or start the engine two more times before it will not start again until the fluid is replaced. That happened to me in my previous RV. Now I know that every 3000 or so miles the light will come on and thankfully this time (since I wasn't paying attention) I was not in an isolated area. I left Minden full of fuel, DEF, coolant and window washer stuff, and wondering what to do when I got to Carson City.

Then about 15 miles down the road there was a warning sign about the winds, and RVs and trucks were given the choice of staying in Carson City or taking hwy 50 over the mountains to Lake Tahoe. So, I'm camping in a city park in South Lake Tahoe. It's a nice camp!

Dinner - chicken, red cabbage slaw with pico de gallo, cheese and chips.

View from my dinner table - that's the lake in the background. The sky is a bit stormy looking and people are talking about snow, but just a little bit in the lake area. Tomorrow I'll drive along the west side of the lake and head down to Grass Valley.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

I spent last night in an RV park in Mojave - it really was nothing more than a gravel lot, but there was a sheriff's car parked next to the adjacent rig. A deputy and his family are in Mojave for a few weeks (egads!) while he fills in for someone who is on vacation. They had a really big and beautiful RV, and probably 10 times nicer than any other accommodations in Mojave. On my way out of town this morning I saw this. Creepy.

Redrock Canyon on Hwy 395.

Manzanar - we used to stop here on the way to Mammoth. There have been a lot of changes since the park service has decided to do improvements, and it was good to see lots of people stopping. It felt like a forgotten place before. I took a tour around and these were my favorite places.

The hospital garden.

The Japanese garden, which used to have water running through it.

The gymnasium is now an information center, but was closed when I was there.

My campsite in Mammoth Lakes. It's peaceful, cool and beautiful. Koka is happy to run through the forest!

Tomorrow I will head to Grass Valley to spend a few days with my mom.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Louis! He's very cute. Lots of aunts, uncles and cousins anxious to meet him. Good job Tessa and Paul!

Baby Louis Finn made his appearance on April 30 at 11:01 pm. He is adorable and his parents are smitten, as are his grandparents, who were waiting anxiously. Photos will follow when parents approve! Tessa looks wonderful. Ok Paul looks cute, too.

The weather has been very hot, dry and windy. Hopefully that will change soon. I'm back in Montecito for the night. I'll visit Louis tomorrow afternoon and then start the journey north to see my mom. I think I will take hwy 395 and camp in Mammoth Lakes on the way north.