Friday, February 28, 2020

Snowbird RV Adventure Part 1: Travis AFB to Woodward Reservoir Regional Park

Part 1: Days 11 - 13

November 14: Before we left Travis AFB, we stopped at the Commissary one more time. We will be away from grocery stores for the next six days so we wanted to restock our fridge.

We took Highway 12 through the Sacramento Delta. Rich soil and water make it fertile. We passed through more rice fields, vineyards and two new crops, solar and wind farms.

After a gas stop (we are getting about 12 mpg) in Rio Vista, we joined Interstate 5 near Stockton then jogged over to Highway 99. Mariposa and Dodds roads took us through almond, walnut and peach orchards, and our destination, Woodward Reservoir Regional Park.

Woodward Reservoir Regional Park T-Island Site #107.

We had a reservation for three night at T-Island Campground. It's almost surrounded by the man made lake and reached via a causeway.

Sunset from the T-Island beach.

I'm familiar with Woodward Reservoir because my Great-Aunt Mar and Uncle Chet lived in nearby Oakdale. When I was little, Uncle Chet would bring me here fishing near the dam. In those days camping was unregulated. Today there are several campgrounds around the lake, and three have full hookups.

November 15-16: California has been going through a drought, so the lake is very low. Rather than being surrounded by water, the shoreline is a dry lake bed.

In the distance you could see lots of birds on sandbars including white Egrets, Canada Geese, a few white Snow Geese, seagulls and ducks.

From our campsite we can see four elaborate duck blinds anchored offshore. Hunters can apply to build and place a blind for the hunting season. Each morning we were awakened to several shots being taken. Hope our Canadian compatriots weren't on the menu.

Our campsite was right on the edge of what would have been the lake in wetter days.

We had a great view and with no one next to us, it was very private.

The driveway into the spot was sloping gravel, but a cement pad just our size gave us a level spot to park. We had a picnic table (which we did use) and fire ring.

From our spot we could barely see the foothills and the high Sierras not at all. They were shrouded in a smokey haze. Our next destination was in that direction,

Getting ready to leave on our final morning.

Wayne and I discussed our options and decided to stay out of the dry foothills due to the ongoing fire danger. I called Don Pedro Recreation and they graciously gave us a credit on account for future use. That's great customer service.

We invite you to come back soon to find out where we headed next. -- Wayne and Margy

Trip Mileage Log
Leg - 81 miles
Total - 985 miles

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Snowbird RV Adventure Part 1: Woodward Reservoir to Merced River RV Resort

Part 1: Days 14 - 16

Many RV sites come with a sewer hookup.
November 17: We've become morning slugs. With such short travel days we can sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast and still get on our way by the typical 11:00 checkout time.

Before we left Woodward Reservoir, we had housekeeping to do. Our RV has sinks and a toilet. Sinks empty into a gray water holding tank, toilet contents go into a black water tank. Living in our float cabin has taught us to be frugal with our water use. In the RV, we need to empty our tanks every eight to ten days. It's a small price to pay for the convenience in our rig.

One of the many almond orchards we passed,.
Driving southwest to Merced River RV Resort we passed almond orchards. They brought to mind all the years I visited Aunt Mar and Uncle Chet at their almond orchard in nearby Oakdale. I loved to eat the almonds right off the tree, especially the soft immature ones called "in the milk."

Taking advantage of the nuts, Hersey opened a plant in Oakdale in 1965. Now Sconza Candy has taken over. A Blue Diamond Almonds plant is also nearby.

Just before we reached Highway 99 we passed the 1000 mile mark for this trip. It is hard to believe we've already driven this far, but California is a very long state.

Merced River Resort is between Livingston and Delhi. It's an older RV park with shade trees, grassy open spaces and tidy sites.

It was Sunday so we picked up our "after hours" packet at the office and drove straight to Site #A25. As we were pulling in, Jerry stopped by to make sure we had everything we needed. Customer service from making last minute reservations to departure was excellent.

November 18-19: We settled in for a three night stay. Each day we strolled around the park and down to the river.

The Merced River flows slowly in the flat Central Valley.

The Merced River runs through Yosemite Valley. The water passing us raced a long ways to become this lazy river on its way to join the San Joaquin River to the west.

Site #A25 was shaded by oaks and mulberry trees.

The perfect spot for Wayne to read and a picnic table for me to journal write.

I took advantage of the shower facility. It's one way we minimize water consumption in the RV. Plus, a long hot shower in a big stall is way better than a short one in our small one.  -- Wayne and Margy
Trip Mileage Log
Leg - 51 miles
Total - 1036 miles

I was never good about keeping a diary in my youth, but I've kept various journals as an adult. Journaling is a great way to hone your writing skills and it's a great way to capture memories.

When we started taking RV trips, I began journaling about our travels. In addition to my narrative, I include illustrated maps and scrapbook items from the places we've visited. We keep our old journal with us as we travel. It's full of information we can use on future trips.

Do you keep a journal? What do you write about and do you include illustrations? -

Monday, February 24, 2020

Snowbird RV Adventure Part 1: Merced River to The Lakes in Chowchilla

Part 1: Days 17 - 21

A Union Pacific Train heading north near Merced.
November 20: We left Merced River five minutes before the 11:00 checkout time. We don't have far to go, so there's new hurry.

All the way down the Valley we've heard train whistles day and night. The tracks parallel Highway 99. Soon after leaving Merced, we saw a Union Pacific engine pulling a mixture of cars but no caboose. I sure miss seeing those iconic cars.

When we reached our off ramp in Chowchilla, we stopped at a Save Mart Supermarket. It's a local chain of stores that started in Modesto in 1952 and has expanded primarily in the Central Valley region. When we finished shopping, we walked next door to Taco El Grullense for our first meal out since Travis.

The Lakes RV and Golf Resort Clubhouse from a lakefront RV site.

Just a mile east on Highway 26 we reached our destination, the Lakes RV and Golf Resort. Like the shopping center, it was built as a planned community of upscale homes, the Pheasant Run Golf Course, the Final Round Bar and Grill and an RV park where you can purchase or rent sites. Each overnight stay comes with free golf if you want it.

Site #78 with full hookups, privacy hedges, trees and patios.

We settled into Site #78 with blue skies and warm temperatures to end the day outdoors.

November 21-23: On our second night, we walked over to the 18-hole Pheasant Run Golf Course to have dinner at the Final Round Restaurant.

The Pheasant Run Golf Course and Final Round Restaurant in Chowchilla.

 Our plan was to stay here at The Lakes for four nights. Two things changed our mind. First, we really like the quiet laid back atmosphere at this luxury RV resort. It's a rare find in the Central Valley. Secondly, the weather forecast is for rain and even snow new week. We decided to cancel our campsite reservation at San Luis Reservoir and extend our stay here an additional day.

Football Saturday on the road with a built-in TV.
To celebrate, we walked to the Final Round Bar and Grill for a steak dinner. On Saturday, we used the free cable for college football including the USC vs. UCLA game.

November 24: We used our extra day wisely, relaxing. That's what this Snowbird RV Adventure is all about, in addition to exploring and reliving good memories of course.

We'll be back here at The Lakes on our trip north in April for sure! -- Wayne and Margy
Trip Mileage Log
Leg - 38 miles
Total - 1074 miles

Here's a picture of my kitchen. It's complete but compact. The burners have a folding cover, but it isn't a flat surface. To the left of the sink is a flip-up counter, but it blocks the exit door when in use.

They do sell a cover for the sink, but when I'm preparing meals I always need to use it to wash foods or rinse utensils. Plus, to order one through Forest River was expensive.

My solution was a 15x21" wood cutting board. Mine came raw, so I spent a few days curing it with mineral oil from the drug store. It's food grade, easy to find and doesn't get rancid over time.

My kitchen work surface with the extension and chopping board in place.

It's perfect to cover the burners on top of my Furrion stove. When I need to use the burners, I just lift it off. It really comes in handy when preparing meals and for cleanup afterwards.

When we are traveling, I slip it under the mattress so it doesn't slide around and become a dangerous projectile.

What are some of your space utilization strategies in an RV? 

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Snowbird RV Adventure Part 1: Chowchilla to the Visalia/Sequoia KOA

Part 1: Days 22 - 24

The entrance to the Visalia KOA and its office/store.
November 25: We arrived at the Visalia/Sequoia National Park KOA a day earlier than planned due to our cancellation at San Luis Reservoir.

Storms, including rain and possibly even snow, are forecast in the coming days. We didn't want to drive in unsafe conditions, so adding an extra day each to The Lakes and the Visalia KOA took care of our overnight needs.

They sell propane, so we decided to fill up before going to our site. Our refrigerator, stove and heater run on propane. The fridge has dual modes. It runs on electricity in RV parks and propane while we are on the road. That saves on quite a bit of gas.

We only needed 2.3 gallons in our 9.8 gallon tank for a cost of $9.09. That was amazing since we went out on four multi-day trips in the summer, and 22 days so far on this adventure.

Our Sunseeker RV in Site A-5 next to a Cruise America rig.
We stayed here last year on our Rental RV Trip. It's a typical KOA (Kampgrounds of America) layout with gravel sites and some trees. With our $30 annual Rewards Card, we get a 10% discount. For our three night stay, we saved $15.26. It doesn't take long to get your investment back.

If you are traveling through the Central Valley, it's close to Highway 99. With a toad (towed vehicle) or rental car, it makes a good home base to visit Sequoia National Park

Each site comes with water, power, sewer, fire ring and picnic table.

November 26-27:

On Tuesday, we took an Uber downtown for a movie. We saw Ford vs. Ferrari with Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby. While the movie was about the development of the Shelby race cars for Ford, the 1964½ Mustang made a cameo appearance. My first car was a 1965 Mustang. Afterwards, Wayne and I went to the Sequoia Brewing Company for a tri tip sandwich dinner.

Tuesday night and Wednesday, the rain storm arrived. It was too much all at once, causing floods in the valley and blizzards in the mountains. We even got a few thunder claps and a pelting of pea sized hail. There's more rain to come. Hopefully it will lessen the fire danger situation throughout the state. -- Wayne and Margy

Trip Mileage Log
Leg - 75 miles
Total - 1149 miles

Cut a piece of pool noodle and slit it with a knife.
On our first few trips, Wayne misjudged the headroom when he was stooped under the bedroom slide-out. Our utility connections and a locker are underneath. After standing up too quick, he learned the hard way that sharp edges hurt.

I read a tip to use pool noodles. Cut two pieces. Slit them lengthwise part way down from the outer surface to the central hole. This leaves one end to be a bottom cushion. Slide a noodle over each corner to catch your attention and protect your head in case you forget.

Our bedroom slide-out with pool noodle bumper guards in place.

Of course, they must be placed on the slide-out after it's extended, and removed before it's retracted.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Snowbird RV Adventure Part 1: Visalia to Lemoore Naval Air Station

Part 1: Days 25 - 27

November 28: Thanksgiving Day  Yesterday I called the Lemoore Naval Air Station RV Park because we were to arrive on a holiday. I got the information we needed to get on base and situated in our new spot.

Later that night I got a call from Mark, the camp host. He would wait for our arrival (even though he had Thanksgiving plans of his own).

Our Sunseeker on the left at the Lemoore NAS RV Park.
Wayne and I hurried to break camp in Visalia and get to Lemoore as quickly as possible.

Mark told us to use the main gate since the bypass to the truck and RV entrance is closed after duty hours, on weekends and holidays. 

Mark's a great camp host. He gave us everything we needed to find things on base.

Lemoore Naval Air Station map.

Getting our Sunseeker clean after the dust storm followed by rain.
Last Monday there was a huge dust storm. Strong winds kicked up dirt from plowed fields and dust settled on trees overhanging our RV. Then on Tuesday, rain turned that dust into muddy water to coat our rig.

Mark gave us directions to the car wash with a special bay for RVs. We headed right over.

We continued to the gas station to fill up and stopped at the Jet Mart convenience store to check it out.

Settled into Site #15 with clearing skies.

Back at the RV park, we settled into Site #15. I fixed our Thanksgiving dinner (check the previous post) and we called it a night.

November 29-30:

Our bed extension is out and connected to full hookups.
We keep an eye on the weather. Right now there are major rain and snow storms. We don't want to drive during inclement weather, so we asked Mark if we could add two more days to our stay and he was able to work it out. He's the best camp host ever.

Today the weather was mostly sunny. It was a good time to get our dirty clothes to and from the laundry room. I didn't plan on doing washing this often, but free machines are too tempting to pass up.

We've discovered that RV parks on military bases are an excellent way to travel. They are well maintained, reasonably priced and have lots of amenities not always available at public and private parks.-- Wayne and Margy

Trip Mileage Log
Leg - 35 miles
Total - 1208 miles

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Snowbird RV Adventure Part 1: Happy Thanksgiving

For all of my American readers and friends ...

from Up the Lake
home of

Wayne and I are celebrating our second Thanksgiving of the year while on our Snowbird RV Adventure in Central California.

Our Sunseeker at the Lemoore NAS RV Park.

We've picked Lemoore Naval Air Station's RV Park as the location to celebrate with a simple turkey Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving is a great time to step back and reflect on all of our blessings.

Wayne and I live in the best place on earth and have many wonderful friends. We have the time and ability to continue to explore new places and have lots of adventures.


If you're in the States, we hope your Thanksgiving is peaceful and filled with joy. -- Wayne and Margy