We initially decided to go to Reno because Salt Lake City was too far from Yosemite to drive in one shot. Towing the trailer we top out around 65 mph, plus the pups need a stop every 3 or 4 hours. Reno isn’t much to see in the daylight, much like Vegas, the nightime lights make it look a lot nicer.
Reno hotels are cheap, so we ended up booking a room at Harrahs (dog friendly) and putting the truck and trailer in their overflow lot 4 blocks away, which turned out to be a blighted area filled with boarded up hotels and vacant lots. The latter made it hard to sleep and we were constantly making the trek to check on our stuff. Thinking it would be a nice change, I booked 3 nights, making the reservation before we actually got there. Had I waited, I would have discovered that one night was more than enough!
After being in Yosemite for a week, it was a huge treat to have reliable cell service, wifi and even cable tv (a first since the trip started). However, I have been trying to shake a chest cold and the heavy smoke in all the indoor areas was not helpful 😕. It did pay off to play at the casinos, Joel had his best ever winnings at the blackjack tables and I didn’t put too much into the slot machines.
We spent our days bike riding and had a scary encounter while riding along a quiet residential street. As usual, Belle and Lulu were in their doggie trailer behind Joel’s bike when a pit bull appeared out of nowhere growling and running straight for the dogs. Luckily, we had a slight downhill advantage, I was yelling “peddle faster” as Joel and I were both racing as fast as we could go. The pit bull couldn’t keep up and gave up after a few minutes, but it sure got our hearts racing! We were pretty happy when it was time to head out for Salt Lake City, bye Reno!
Yes, you read that right! Joel planned a day trip for us to visit Moaning Caverns. I really didn’t know what to expect as we headed out, but was excited for Joel to take the lead in planning the day. After about an hour drive we came to Sonora and were thrilled to find the biggest little town we have visited in the Yosemite area so far. So many great vintage shops, bakeries, restaurants that I thought I had died and went to heaven!
One of the coolest shops was Legends which is an ice cream sundae bar, bookshop and old mine shaft rolled all into one – crazy place! Above is a gorgeous antique bar where you can saddle up for an ice cream sundae or slice of blackberry pie (yes please!). Below is a book store and remnants of an old mining shaft which was really interesting and unexpected.
We had such fun in Sonora, it was hard to move along to our originally planned destination. We (okay me) grudgingly headed back on the road another half hour to Moaning Caverns. With my heart back in Sonora, I was not prepared for the amazing incredible adventure that lay ahead. We were about to descend 165 feet (16.5 stories) straight down into what felt like the center of the earth!
I consider myself pretty adventurous, but my knees were literally knocking as we started down 65 feet of steep wooden steps to the first platform. Looking down from there, it was seriously crazy to believe that we were now about to descend the remaining 100 feet down an iron spiral staircase that was built from a World War I battleship. I couldn’t chicken-out in front of Joel, but I also could not look down, not even once. I held a death grip, seriously thinking this is it, what if there is an earthquake, OMG I am going to die!!! We finally made it to the bottom and it was spectacular!!! The rock formations, amazing history of the miners who first discovered the cavern and bravery of the men who made it possible for us to experience this bucket-list worthy place. Wow, Joel really knocked it out of the park on this one.
Okay, so I am trying to keep a positive note on this blog, as there is already so much negativity in this world. However, just posting nice pics may be giving the wrong impression that we have set off into this new charmed life. Not so! Everyday problems still have a way of catching up, so I thought I would take this opportunity for a little reality check.
We have been traveling just about two and a half weeks so far. In this time, plenty of things have gone wrong, or at least not as planned. First off, when we left the weather was topping off at around 100 degrees in Orange County. We had a reservation to stay at a park near our home, but decided on a last minute change to see if we could find something cooler at the beach.
We drove about 5 miles down the road to pick up a few groceries. When I opened the trailer door to put them away, I discovered that the closet and refrigerator latches had not held and everything was thrown all over the place – our food, condiments, toiletries, clothing had been thrown everywhere – it was a huge mess! We had about a one hour clean-up and a trip back to the store to buy stronger latches and tension bars.
After first checking at Dana Point (a no go with no vacancies), we lucked out at San Clemente. We had a bit of a late start, so we were eager to get camp set-up and make some dinner. Joel began by connecting the electric and water hook-ups. Next we were trying to figure out how to open the awning when I saw a flood of water pouring out of the trailer. OMG!! We opened the door to find at least an inch of water and rising! I yelled for Joel to turn the water off as I went inside to see where it was coming from – everywhere! We grabbed every towel we had and started mopping up.
After we got most of the water cleaned up, we headed out for something to eat and see if we could find a decent Internet connection. Unfortunately, we headed the wrong direction on the I-5 and ended up having to drive 22 miles all the way to Oceanside, the first available off ramp. Now it’s 9 pm on a Sunday and we haven’t eaten all day. We found a greasy spoon and proceeded to watch YouTube videos to discover we hooked the water supply to the flush-out connection with all the tanks closed, thus causing them to overfill and back up into the trailer. Our first night we went to bed exhausted and frustrated.
The next day we took all the dirty wet towels and headed to the laundry mat. Again, we got a late start, but had enough time to get a few loads done by closing; except the cleaning crew showed up early and kicked us out, wet towels and all.
Once we got back to our campsite we discovered we had been kicked out of our space, another party had reserved it on-line. We packed up and had to move to a dry camping (no hookups) location. The next morning Joel decided to take a shower in the Airstream bathroom. However, after a few minutes in, water was once again flooding the trailer. He had to make a quick and soapy exit and, once again, every towel we had was soaked during the clean-up.
Next up was Morro Bay. However, a 4 hour detour to the Airstream dealer to fix the shower put us on the road at 5 pm, just in time for LA’s infamous traffic – which did not disappoint. After several hours of driving, we pulled off for a bite to eat. That was when we heard the most ear splitting screech coming from the trailer hitch. Apparently, it needs to be greased – all the time – something we figured out after yet another call to AAA (our first being the day we brought the trailer home and couldn’t get it off the hitch). Ugghhh!
After Morro Bay was Alameda County Fairgrounds in the SF Bay Area. I made reservations about 2 months earlier and had paid in full at that time, so we thought we were all set right? Wrong! On our third day of a planned ten day stay, we were once again getting kicked out of our spot! WTF?!?! This time we were informed that their computer accidentally double booked our space and it had been rented out a year ago for the biggest car show on the west coast. There was nothing (truly nothing) available in a 100 mile radius.
Following much discussion with the manager, he found us a spot in the “long term” area (read this as the “carney” area where the fair workers stay). Ummmm yeah, it was as bad as you are imaging right now. When we weren’t being woken up all night by an ornery donkey kicking his stall at perfectly timed intervals (just long enough for you to fall back asleep), we were overcome by the sewer smell right next to our front door – literally inches away. You can’t make this stuff up – seriously! When we were first planning this trip I never calculated staying in carneyville next to an ornery donkey as a possible “what could go wrong” scenario. Silly me.
Yosemite is so beautiful that it is even more heartbreaking to see the ravages of the ongoing California drought. As we were driving into the Valley, there were groves and groves of burned out forests. The areas that were missed by fires had many dead trees mixed in with the few hearty drought survivors. It’s very hot and dry and more than any other place we have visited so far, the lack of rain has really taken a toll. The urban areas are irrigated which I think tends to insulate us from how bad the problem really is. We haven’t seen much wildlife, the sole mule deer I snapped a pic of just as we were leaving and some squirrels were all we spotted after a whole day in the Valley. We are staying at a campground about 40 miles away, so we have to drive into Yosemite Valley.
While visiting, we really enjoyed a short film about John Muir and how a 3 day camping trip he spent with President Roosevelt resulted in Yosemite being designated as the first national park in history. It’s amazing the foresight they had to save such a beautiful resource and how this started the national park system that other countries later followed. So thankful for people like John Muir, President Roosevelt and so many others that truly care about our wonderful country. I hope that we can follow in their footsteps and save these national treasures for generations to come. It’s truly awe inspiring!
Okay, we love this place. I mentioned before that it is dog and bike friendly, well it really is!! So many cool bike trails, we find new ones every day. Today we found one that runs along this creek. Neither of us have mountain bikes, but the trail was tame enough for our street cruisers (though a bit bumpy if you were to ask the dogs).
We also found this super cute restaurant, the Red Tractor Cafe, serving comfort food surrounded by jars of “canned” vegies. They even sell little red toy tractors – I want one!!!
We spent the day at Lake Del Valle, renting a pontoon boat and cruising the 6 mile long lake. The weather was perfect and we beached the boat along the shore to let the dogs run around for awhile. Afterwards, we headed into downtown Livermore and visited the cute shops and had a yummy Italian lunch.
We are getting lots of use out of our dog stroller! It is an easy way to deal with them in crowds or places that might not otherwise welcome our furry family members and they seem to enjoy it as well, they certainly get lots of attention in it.
This posting is a double header and also features our trip to San Jose to visit the Winchester House. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the tour. The house is crazy big and had so many doors, interior windows and passageways that it is more like a maze than a house. Ms. Winchester was a very strange lady and I can’t imagine living through 32 years of constant construction – no thank you!
New camping pjs!
We really enjoyed getting to know Pleasanton today, what a charming little town! First off, it is very bike and dog friendly and we had both 😊. We toured all along Main Street with tons of cute little shops (hence my new vintage trailer pjs), and loads of restaurants. Whatever you are in the mood for – from gastropub, Mexican, Italian to cute little wine bars – they have it! Top off your meal with some dessert, we visited Primrose Bakery and tried their mango macrons, almond cookies and petite fours and everything was fresh and delicious!
What a great way to spend a day!
We spent the day in San Francisco which was an easy BART ride from the Alameda Fairgrounds RV Park on the Pleasanton/Dublin line. We dropped the puppies off at doggie boarding for a day of professional grooming (a first for them as I always did it myself) and an overnight stay. It’s crazy how much I miss them (limited myself to only one check-in call) and I can’t wait to see how cute they look when we pick them up tomorrow.
So our must do’s in SF include waterfront seafood near Pier 39 (clam chowder bread bowls), the vintage arcade where you can play all the games – including some pretty creepy old time maniquins that talk and even an “opium den” re-creation (WTF??), Ghiradelli ice cream (yes, I died and went to heaven over their sea salt, caramel and hot fudge chocolate-dipped waffle bowl), Chinatown and lots of walking because the cable cars were packed 🚃🚃🚃.
We are now officially on the road! Our first stop was Morro Bay, CA, a little coastal town above Santa Barbara. A great spot for seafood lovers with lots of dining options. We enjoyed fish and chips at Giovanni’s Fish Market which is located on the waterfront right in front of the big rock in the bay. One thing we noticed were lots of second hand, vintage and antique markets. In our old life this would have been heaven, but in our little Airstream – no room to buy anything….uuuggghhh it’s killing me!!!!
We stayed at Morro Bay State Park and found it to be ideally located less than 2 miles from the heart of town, but still in a wooded, quiet area close to the beach. In the morning we headed to Kitty’s Diner for breakfast – the most amazing homemade biscuits and crisp, perfectly cooked bacon – yum!
Before we purchased an Airstream, we bought a 1958 Westerner Deluxe travel trailer that had been professionally restored. It was too cute! We took it to flea markets where we sold vintage furnishings and also used it for camping. The fact that it didn’t have a bathroom was a bit limiting, but we loved her anyway.
We kept the prior owner’s name for her – Flo. It was impossible to be in a bad mood when you were hanging out in Flo. Her turquoise, red, and yellow vintage cowboy interior were so cheerful it just brightened your day. The 1958 Westerner’s were the first trailers to be themed. At the time, John Wayne was a popular movie star and served as inspiration. The restoration included new exterior siding, custom screen door, all new interior (with the exception or the original ice box and original hand painted cowboy light), new LED lighting, stove, sink and small water tank. It was an excellent first excursion into owning a trailer, and a definite upgrade from tent camping.
Movin’ on Up
Living full time in Flo was not going to work. First of all, she’s older than us! While we haven’t had any issues in the year and a half that we owned her, we were cognizant that she wasn’t up to a long journey. My first thought when contemplating a new trailer was Airstream. I loved the vintage styling of our Westerner and could not see us in a modern, boxy trailer. Oh, we looked at them – Joel’s idea – but the choice was clear from the beginning, it had to be an Airstream.
Now get out the checkbook because they are not cheap! However, they are well built with a solid aluminum frame and body that is riveted together like an airplane. They have residential-grade interior finishes and we could tell from the start that this is a trailer that could stand up to full-timing.
Getting Ready to Live Riveted
As expected, we have a few obstacles to cross before we can actually hit the road. Selling the house is top of the list. While we are currently in escrow, I am holding my breath that everything goes smoothly and we close next month as planned. With all the bad news we’ve received this year, I just can’t help but steady myself for the next possible blow. I am a positive person, but so many things have hit us this year that I can’t help but hold my breath a bit until we are actually going down the road on the start of our journey. Hopefully, all can go smoothly for a while, because I am ready!