Seekin' My World

Brenda's wanderings and wishings

Late October Arizona jaunt November 5, 2017

I  really wanted to get to the Grand Canyon after last years aborted attempt. This year my sister-in-law was available to go with me. She handled the confined quarters well, and was a great companion. There was a controlled burn nearby which allowed smoke to fill the canyon. It was better in the mornings, and progressively worse as the day went on. No camera can really do justice to the Grand Canyon, especially not just a cell phone, but I still wanted to record the visit. Nancy made fun of me because most people take pictures of their grandchildren, I take pictures of my truck and camper. But hey, I have fans to keep happy.

IMG_7288   IMG_7290   IMG_7317   IMG_7321

Then we went to Monument Valley and stayed at Gouldings Campground. There aren’t a lot of other options, and with a novice camper along I wasn’t going to ruin it by suggesting boondock camping. The second picture shows my new entrance step, $19.99 at Ikea. I added sand tape to the steps so it isn’t slippery. It doesn’t stow as easily, but is so much steadier than the folding one I ran over. And even just an inch or two taller makes a huge difference in comfort getting in and out.

IMG_7342   IMG_7348

I usually shrink the images a bit on this blog to make it easier to view on phones and tablets, but I just didn’t have the heart to shrink these (I had to after all, but left them as large as possible). It is such a awe inspiring landscape. Nothing prepared me for it.

IMG_7349IMG_7355IMG_7363IMG_7364IMG_7367

The loop road is open to high clearance vehicles, but pretty rough. My Tacoma and Bobcat handled it well, but we were rockin’ and rollin’ in places (well, I guess not really rollin’ – that would be tragic)

IMG_7371

Then we headed for Canyon de Chelly. I don’t know exactly where this lunch stop overlook was, but I had been looking for a place to pull over for lunch for quite a while and there was nothing but sagebrush and no pull outs at all. Came around a corner and found a wide spot with this as the view. Amazing.

IMG_7377

I have been to Canyon de Chelly before, but it is still impressive. The cottonwood trees were flaming yellow.

IMG_7383IMG_7385IMG_7388IMG_7390

Next stop was Petrified Forest. More badlands with awesome color variations. IMG_7401IMG_7403IMG_7404

And the last stop was Meteor Crater. I haven’t been there for 30 years. The crater is the same, but my have the visitor services changed. A nice museum and buildings, with a hefty entrance fee to boot ($16 per). But I really wanted Nancy to see it. IMG_7408

I hadn’t really researched camping options in Flagstaff. The KOA was even full. They recommended Greer’s just up the street, but they wanted $33 with no external services (no bathroom at all). So we decided to get a motel instead. The snarky employee at Greer’s said we wouldn’t find anything because even the rents in town were $2,000 a month. We had passed the Hotel Aspen Inn and Suites and I had noticed it looked nice. So when it came up on my Kayak search as $37.50 a night we shot on over there. With taxes it ended up being $10 more than the camping, but for that price we got 2 queen beds, 2 hot showers, TV, Wi-Fi, heat, and 2 breakfasts. And the employees were gentle and kind. It got down to 27 degrees that night, so I am glad we did it.

Advertisements
 

Fall color 2017 October 7, 2017

I had a midweek reservation in Yosemite for an art journaling class. It was just a few days after a good sized chunk of El Capitan came down. The pictures don’t begin to describe the size of the chunk that came down. Much of the rock pulverized on impact. There was still lots on the trees, and as I drove by a good gust of wind stirred up a cloud. I didn’t get the camera out in time for that, but pulled over to walk around. I spoke with some climbers who had been on the face when it came down. They said they couldn’t see it (around the corner so to speak) but felt the rock shiver and heard the impact. People had run their fingers though the dust on the fence posts.

IMG_7149   IMG_7153

Bridal Veil Falls almost had more water than Yosemite Falls itself. But I think it is a distance/perspective thing.

IMG_7159

During the art class, we saw a small yearling bear on the grass right outside. He climbed up into an apple tree and gorged himself. It was interesting to see people’s reactions, from complete terror to idiotically approaching trying to get a picture.

IMG_7164

There was a controlled burn up in Little Yosemite Valley that gave Half Dome a halo effect when I passed Olmstead Point headed to 395.

IMG_7181

I had a nice lunch stop at the Wildlife viewing-picnic area at the top of Tioga Pass. I love framing the shot through the doorway to record my lunch stops. IMG_7183

Then over the pass for the aspen color. I went up Virginia Lakes Rd. but the higher I got the more blown out it was. The best color was right at highway level.

IMG_7186    IMG_7191

Up 108, past the Mountain Warfare Training Center, the aspens on the hillsides were beautiful. It is a terrible picture, but I watched this guy landing. I had to slow down because he was kicking up the dust. I think it is called an Osprey Tilt Rotor Transport. Very cool, hovering like a helicopter, but an airplane.

IMG_7196   IMG_7199

So for the modification fans, I have installed many D rings throughout the camper. I utilized existing screws where possible. Then attached shoe strings as tie off points.

IMG_7161

I needed to dry my towel after a shower and realized that it was much darker than the Bali Scarf I used to put up and since I carry it anyway is a better curtain for the back door. Bali scarf will stay home from now on. It is attached to the aluminum with binder clips. Note where I store the lifting device in the handle of the refrigerator. I mangled out the rivets ATC installed and use it carefully for lifting and lowering. But taking it off opens up the space for sleeping. I banged myself on it far too many times. Which leads me to another thing I discovered this week. I needed more light for reading in bed  (wanting to minimize the battery usage), so I hung a lantern using an S clip in the hole created by removing the lifter bar. Cool.

IMG_7168     IMG_7177

I also have this little guy on velcro, but he doesn’t put out quite enough light for serious, early evening, wintertime travel.

IMG_7176

The Sterilite bins I bought are working out well. The lids only go on for transit, but they do contain a large amount of clutter, higher than the top of the couch alone. One for food and one for, well, clutter. In this picture you can also see how the command hook for the curtain popped off and I just tied it up using one of the D rings nearby. It works fine and is securely attached. The little red ice chest functions as my step stool into bed, and stores mittens, booties and a sleeping hat.

IMG_7172

My husband joined me for the first part of the trip. I made him take the extra pads back home with him so I would have the extra room. But I was glad to see he was willing to travel in the Cabin on Wheels (COW) again.

And bad news. I was careless and backed up into my stepstool like an idiot. I mangled it just enough that I don’t feel safe using it. Fortunately I had my trusty but tiny hitch step and a little white turtle step along, so it wasn’t a complete catastrophe. But I am researching and in the market for a new step stool, hopefully a little higher than the one I had. But not much is on the market that I think will work. One of the guys I met at Millpond last month had an awesome one, but I didn’t get the name of it and can’t find it online. It was grey plastic 2 step and folded like the turtle stool, but was much sturdier. So if the retired firefighter from Kernville is reading, please help me.

 

 

 

Millpond 2017 September 19, 2017

Filed under: Bobcat travels,Festival camping — Sierrashadow @ 3:08 am
Tags: , , , ,

I got almost the same spot as last year, but the view out the door wasn’t quite as spectacular, not that I spent much time looking out.

IMG_7103

I pulled in behind these two FWC’s and asked if they minded the competition’s product joining them. Actually, they were great guys who were on their second FWC each and quite proud of their rigs. We exchanged rig tours and compared the differences. I don’t think any of us were convinced that we were in anyway lacking. It is nice to have options. They commented that they were surprised I could unlatch from the ground (I’m only 5’4″). It made me reconsider the value of having a smaller truck, even if it is a bit wimpy. I counted at least 12 Pop-up campers at the festival.

IMG_7106

I put up my EZUP to mark my spot in case I needed to run to town, but left it low all weekend, I didn’t need to hang out there when there is such good music in the main meadow and workshop tents. My favorites this year were The Revelers (Zydeco) and David Grier (amazing guitar player). The Revelers were promoting their black pot festival in Lafayette in late October. Maybe next year.

Then I snagged a site in Tuolumne Meadows for Sunday night. It was cold at 9,000 feet. Very glad to have my heater.

IMG_7113  IMG_7114

Nothing momentous, but still a great getaway in the Cabin on Wheels (COW).

 

Northern Tahoe Quickie August 28, 2017

Filed under: Bobcat travels — Sierrashadow @ 4:11 am

I had a few extra days and got online to get last minute reservations, since it would be Friday and Saturday night in August. I got one night at Boca Reservior and one at Granite Flat fight off 89 near Truckee. Boca was a nice campground, but they neglected to tell me that the road was closed over the dam. So I had to make a big loop, plus about 6 miles down a well graded gravel road to get there. Saturday morning I went to Lake Tahoe between 267 and 89. I went to Robert Pomin Park and enjoyed the beach to myself on a Saturday morning! Of course, like many lake beaches, there was no sand. I also found Lake Forest Campground, owned and operated by Tahoe City PUD. It was pretty seedy, a bit waterlogged from the wet winter, but a first come first served with available sites Saturday at noon in August is nice to find out about.

IMG_7078  IMG_7080  IMG_7085   IMG_7088

Granite Flat is sandwiched between the highway and the river. Unfortunately, the highway noise overpowers the river. But it was fun to hear rafters laughing as they went by.

IMG_7090

But the highlight of my trip was seeing another ATC. This one had Truckee trails stickers on it so I am pretty sure it’s a local. The bike rack was deployed so I bet he was out enjoying the trails. I left my ATC business card with a note on his windshield.

IMG_7092

I headed up 89 towards Quincy and fully intended to camp another night, but as I headed down the Feather River canyon on Highway 70 I realized I was going to hit flat land by 2:00, so I just decided to head on home. Plus I really wanted a shower. But it felt good to get out again. All this home selling stuff is stressful, and this was the perfect antidote.

 

Couch modification May 6, 2017

Filed under: Bobcat travels,Modifications,Solar panels — Sierrashadow @ 5:33 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I have not liked the legs ATC put on my couch back to create the lower sleeping platform since day one. It didn’t feel secure and the brackets were cutting into the carpet they installed. True it was hidden by said couch back, but it still bugged me. It also didn’t allow the couch back to lean back into a comfortable recline angle. It was too vertical. So I pondered, and came up with a possible solution for me at least. I have a Sterlite box with latches that was the exact right height, if I bought two or three more, they might support the overhang. So off to Wal-Mart.

These boxes also ride well on the windowsill lip behind the couch. I placed a little sticky backed Velcro on the bottom of the boxes to keep them from sliding around up there. The plan is to travel with them up there, but if I want to sleep with the top latched down (stealth mode), I can flip the boxes over and place them in the aisle. The same Velcro should help the couch back stick to the boxes and not slide around. It still leaves a little bit of an aisle, and widens the cramped feeling on the bed because things are no longer riding on that windowsill.

I only bought two so far and put food in one and some assorted clutter in the other. Then there is a third one that I currently use as my portapottie which is strapped into the aisle at the front. I don’t think I will be able to use it for that purpose in stealth mode because the aisle is so cramped, but it will help support the extended bed.

I took the folding legs off but will keep them and the screws handy in case this doesn’t work. Stealth mode isn’t actually something I plan to do often, but it is nice to have options.
boxes on bench    IMG_6389   IMG_6388   IMG_6394 IMG_6397    IMG_6396

I also got a picture of my writing desk. I use the folding table with the ice chest on top. It puts it at the right level for writing, painting or drawing. It fits in the aisle. The ironing board is too cumbersome to deploy unless necessary (like rain, etc.)

.writing desk

I just got back from a quick trip down the coast. Sunset at Morro Bay was beautiful.

Morro Bay sunset

At Carpenteria State Beach I spent a half an hour watching a Great Blue Heron in the campground catching gophers. He was quite good at it. It took only three flicks to get the prey lined up correctly to slide down the gullet. I watched him catch at least four.

heron hunting

I enjoyed lunch in Ojai at a park all to myself. It always amazes me how people congregate in certain areas and are nowhere to be found in others.

Ojai lunch

I needed the get away to prepare for our upcoming move. We didn’t get the house I hinted about a few months ago, but got one that is better! The garage is also high enough for the camper/Tacoma combo, but it will be several months before it is clean and organized enough for one car much less two. So at the end of the month things will be pretty hectic.

I also enjoyed the roof mounted solar. When I was at ATC recently, I asked them to mount the panel on the roof. It is wonderful not to have to schlep it around, lock it up, worry about tearing the upholstery when sliding it in and out of the back seat, scratching it somehow. I loved the portable solar but the permanently mounted is ten times better. If I stop at an attraction for a few hours it continues to charge, so even if I didn’t drive around all day, I am good to go for the evening. It did make lifting the lid a bit heavier, even with the external shocks. Remember, I am a wimpy 60 year old woman. If I can do it anyone can.

 

Grand Canyon Attempt – Failure December 3, 2016

Filed under: Bobcat travels,curtains and steps,Destinations — Sierrashadow @ 1:51 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Since I was down in Long Beach for family Thanksgiving, I took that opportunity to head for Arizona. My goal was the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, but I guess the last week of November was too optimistic. Things were great until Needles, but then the storm clouds started brewing. By Kingman, I tried to go to the BLM camp I found, but went six miles up the road until it turned to a dirt road. I knew I had at least another mile left, and didn’t want to get stuck in the possible snow and clay slick. So I chickened out and got a motel room. It was 28 degrees at 4:00 p.m. and only going to get lower.

img_5037   img_5039

In the morning, the hills around were dusted with snow, so I felt like I made a wise choice. When I got to Williams, the road to Grand Canyon was closed. So I drove to Flagstaff in the snow. It was dry blowing snow that wasn’t really sticking to the roads, but people were driving full speed (70 mph!) down the highway! I decided to turn right towards Phoenix hoping the road dropped down quickly. I drove an hour in the snow, at one point low visibility, too. I tucked in behind a slower car with flashers on, and went a reasonable speed. I was so glad to see the big advisory signs for trucks warning them of a 20 mile long 6 percent downgrade. Sure enough, shortly I was out of the white stuff. I decided to stop at Montezuma’s Castle, the first cliff dwelling I ever saw 40 years ago. There used to be a campground there, but not any more. The ranger directed me to a State Park, Dead Horse, about 30 minutes away in Cottonwood, Az. I got there at dusk and holed up while it continued to rain. Good thing I was holding on to the handle when I stepped out in the morning. My step stool had a thick layer of ice on it.

img_5043   img_5047

I did some shopping in Phoenix and Sun City. Realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore when I saw the parking dedicated to golf carts! The people were bundled up in ski jackets when it was 60 degrees out! Warm enough for me to indulge in a little frozen custard.

img_5049   img_5052

I bought a little Christmas cheer for my camper. And just for the sake of documenting, I have a picture of the little ice chest I use as a step to get in and out of bed.

img_5057   img_5062

The next two nights I ended up in an RV park. I had to warn both places I was a cabover camper, not an RV, but they were fine with it. One was just outside of Yuma and the other was El Cajon.

img_5068   img_5067

Next morning I went to San Diego Old Town. All decorated for Christmas, and before things opened. My idea of fun, no crowds.

img_5071   img_5076

Then I headed up PCH looking for a beach site for the night. San Elijo was full but she told me Carlsbad would have some for sure since they had 70 sites free last night. I got a nice one, but all the cliff side ones were reserved. I just moved my chair over to the empty site and chilled for a while until the occupants arrived. Two big RV’s that totally blocked my view, glad I enjoyed it earlier.

img_5077   img_5078   img_5079   img_5081

Fitting to end with a Sunset. I felt like the whole trip was a search for the sun. Finally found some, but three hours after this clear sky shot, it started raining lightly. And then perfectly clear in the morning. Reminded me why I like my ATC, weather tight comfort. The Santa Ana winds were whipping through the Orange County-Los Angeles County area. I had to pull over to the slow lane to keep from being blown around. But arrived back in Long Beach to see the other half of the family who had the audacity to go on a cruise for Thanksgiving when their only daughter was coming their way (just kidding mom).

 

Late October Jaunt November 5, 2016

Filed under: Bobcat travels,Destinations — Sierrashadow @ 8:02 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

It was a rainy beginning, but this was the timeframe I had allotted to go, so I headed out anyway. I stopped at Sims Flat off Highway 5 between Redding And Dunsmuir, near Castle Crags State park. $15 a night at the USFS site is better than $35 a night at the state park. I was the only one there on a Saturday might. My, the benefits of off-season travel. But it was supposed to be a wild and wooly storm. So I picked the site least under the trees, and prayed a lot. The thunder was loud, but only lasted 20 minutes or so. The train horn was actually much more of a nuisance. The Sacramento River was flowing mightily, a reassurance that the drought just may be over. One can only hope.

img_4801

I knew it was supposed to rain all day, so I was hoping that by heading to the desert side I could at least lessen the impact. The next morning I crossed over 89 at McCloud towards Lava Beds NM. This was Lower Falls on the McCloud River.

img_4808

I pulled off the road and followed a FS road towards Medicine Lake, passing Jot Dean Cave. No way I was going to go in alone, but it sure looked interesting.

img_4812

When I got to Lava Beds, it was still raining a bit, and the only really interesting thing to do there is go into the lava tubes. Again, I wasn’t going to do that alone. Also, since I had recently been in a cave in Arkansas, they would have had to decontaminate me for white nosed syndrome (http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/disease_information/white-nose_syndrome/) which is prevalent in the eastern half of the country and they are hoping to avoid its spread into the western bats. So I just drove right through.

I hit Klamath Falls for a late lunch and did some shopping. By the time I headed out it was getting time to find a campsite. I headed up highway 66 towards Ashland, but the campgrounds I passed were closed for the season. I went down a dirt road to Topsy Lake BLM camp, but it was closed. One the way back out I noticed several fishermen’s access points off the road. I decided to do my first official “boon docking” experience. That was a huge step forward for me. But it was getting late, I had driven quite a bit and there wasn’t anything else to head towards. I was well off a seldom used road that I hoped was still on BLM land. It was actually a beautiful site, level with a wonderful view out the doorway.

img_4821img_4822

The next day was a slow wander through lower Oregon. I didn’t make great time because I did quite a bit of shopping. I ended up at Valley of the Rogue again. I guess I needed the tried and true old faithful after my adventurous night before. Plus it was time for a guaranteed shower opportunity.

img_4886

Down the 199 through Jedediah Smith Redwoods Park. The sun came out the minute I crossed the California border. I decided to try for Gold Bluffs Beach in Prairie Creek Redwoods. It is 6 miles down a 15 mph dirt road, through glorious old growth forest, dripping in ferns and mosses. Then you break out into the beach and go another 2 miles to the campground. Wow, just beautiful. There are 20 sites, but only about 5 were filled that night.

img_4916

I saw an older FWC that had an interesting bike rack and way of turning the jacks sideways for travel. Very clever. I can’t carry the extra weight on my Tacoma, but for others it might be a good compromise between driving with them on, and down, or left behind.

img_4926img_4927img_4928img_4931

Roosevelt Elk were everywhere. And some arty-fartsy shots I took with my cell phone.

img_4948img_4959img_4962img_4970-1img_4977

I stopped at the Fort Bragg marina and had shrimp and chips at the SeaPal dockside. They were plump, juicy and delicious.

img_4978

Then I headed up Navarro River towards Boonville and home.

img_4980img_4984

Somehow I picked up a little decoration. And stayed at Hendy Woods State park. They wanted $40 a night, and I told them it was only $35 anywhere else. But not too many options there either.

img_4986img_4987

Then I went to the Charles M. Schultz “Peanuts” museum in Santa Rosa. It was very well done, but my favorite was the cartoon strips even in the bathroom.

img_4988img_4989

So a nice, simple get away. I didn’t come up with any new storage techniques for the camper, so that must mean I am finally settled in.