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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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

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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.

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Major modification March 5, 2017

Filed under: Destinations,Modifications — Sierrashadow @ 3:56 pm

We have been looking for a new house. The snow storm in January where my husband had to snowthrow three times in two days did him in. He said he got older in the five years of drought. Fortunately we live where just five miles makes a huge difference on the western slope of the Sierra. I had been looking in Sonora and the pickings were mighty slim. So I figured when the market started in the spring things might open up. I walked in from an errand and my husband said, “I think I found us a house.”  He did! It is perfect in so many ways. But it is in Jamestown, not Sonora. I didn’t think he would be willing to go that far down the hill. So in less than a week, we made an offer and are waiting to see if we get it or not. For anyone who knows my husband they would be shocked. He over thinks everything, and second guesses too much.  Among the many things that made me want the house was the garage. 


I sent him an email with just those two pictures and said, “Buy me the house!” The things I will do for my Bobcat. 

I had a trip planned to Capitola this week, but the state of California closed New Brighton Beach. I went to Anthony Chabot in the foothills of Oakland for three nights. But Warren called the first night to tell me he had made an offer. I guess the realtor called and said there were two offers so he had to jump on it. We went in full price, no contingencies so hopefully it will be the best offer. So even though the excitement was over and it was just waiting, I decided I would rather be at home.  


It was a really nice place. The city lights were pretty twinkling in the distance. But I could hear train whistles all night.

And I wrote this post from a hotel room in Jamestown because they are expecting a low snow again. Timing is everything.  It will be nice to put that chapter of our lives behind us. We loved living in the pines, but Bark beetle killed that dream. Our neighborhood has been a war zone of tree felling and chipping lately. 

 

Grand Canyon Attempt – Failure December 3, 2016

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Then I headed up Navarro River towards Boonville and home.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Clark Fork (Not Clark’s) Highway 108 August 15, 2016

Filed under: Bobcat travels,Destinations,Modifications,Solar panels — Sierrashadow @ 5:12 am
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I had never noticed that it is not possessive. It is almost hard to say it without the s on the end. Anyway, I needed a quick get away in my  C.O.W. (Cabin on Wheels) to escape the heat. This summer had a series of trips with family and friends that didn’t involve using the camper. I did enjoy pup tent camping again when we went to Arkansas, but the ground got pretty old after just a few days, even with the 3.5″ REI pad. I like the creature comforts that the camper provides.

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This was the first trip that used the solar panel, even though I probably could have gotten away without it for just the one night. I devised a good transport system. The Tacoma has loops on the seat bottoms to lift for storage underneath. I hooked a bungie through this loop and then up around the pole for the headrest. It didn’t budge at all.

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I had forgotten that Clark Fork has more than the usual campground cacophony. In addition to the college kids up late laughing around the campfire, there was a herd of cattle in the adjoining meadow with cow bells. They all have a similar pitch, but with slight variations. Loud near sundown, but settling down to faint all night. Actually it is kind of relaxing.

I went in to check out a new campground I heard about near Beardsley Reservoir. I almost don’t want to share since it is such a gem. TeleLi puLaya (Black Oak)  http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/stanislaus/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=80290&actid=29 has 20 sites and opened in 2014. Several of the sites sit right on the edge of the canyon and have fabulous views. I didn’t get pictures, but the weblink has nice ones. I also checked out the Beardsley campground across the dam, but they are pretty crammed together and don’t have lake access, not my style. But since I was down there I headed over to the day use area and had a picnic lunch and read my book for a while. Lots of families enjoying the lake, but way calmer than Pinecrest would have been. I refuse to go to Pinecrest between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

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One full year of retirement and owning my ATC Bobcat. As my friends get ready to begin another year, I sure don’t miss the stress I see in their faces. I am looking forward to the start of the school year so the campgrounds will be quiet and available again.

 

Chautauqua on the East side June 24, 2016

Filed under: Bobcat travels,Destinations — Sierrashadow @ 4:52 am
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I love being able to pull over and have lunch anywhere. This was a fishing access on the Consumnes River at Mokolumne Hill. I was headed over to Lee Vining for the Mono Lake Birding Chautauqua. I wanted to go over a different pass, so I went highway 88 & 89. First night was at the Kit Carson campground at the top of the pass, in the aspens. Heavenly.

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Then I went to Reno and Carson City. I used to work at Carpeteria as my very first paying job. I remember the logo well. At the Nevada Railroad museum, I took a picture of the sign because I know someone who lives in Keeler. This was a railroad I need to research.

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Carson City has some beautiful old buildings. They have a well laid out walking trail. The Davis County park was nice, but I was lucky there were many open sites to choose a level one.

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The East side is so much drier. And so much more dramatic. Headed to Bodie there was a herd of sheep being managed by a Basque shepherd, two Austrailian Shepherd types in front. I couldn’t figure out why the shepherd wasn’t watching the back, especially since some of his “charges” were right up near the road. As I headed towards them to help, “this” raised its head and woofed a deep, resonant alarm. He was sheep sized, but much more threatening. There were three of these dogs watching the back, but you could tell they were only worried about threats not sheep behavior.

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The Chautauqua was fabulous. I did a workshop on listening to birds in Lee Vining canyon, a presentation on endangered birds of Kauai, birding the Bridgeport Valley where we saw 56 species, a historical tour of Bodie, and more than I thought possible to know about woodpeckers. There was an evening storytelling and star watching presentation. All were top notch, talented presenters.

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Carizzo Plain April 10, 2016

 

This was the weekend for the Wander the West get together at Carizzo Plain. I got there but couldn’t find the dispersed camp, even though I went back and forth twice. It was raining and mucky, and I just chickened out. Headed for Morro Bay instead. I hope a good time was had by all, and I look forward to the reports.

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I have a few mods to share. I made a campsite occupied sign out of plastic corrugated sign material. It is called Coroplast. It is lightweight and waterproof. It came with a flimsy metal stake for putting in lawns, but the Death Valley gravel wouldn’t let it penetrate. So now I just clip it to 2 one gallon water bottles. I am hoping this solves my ongoing problem with losing my site even though I paid for it. Unfortunately with a camper you take it all with you. And I don’t want to leave anything too valuable out to claim it.

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With some leftover I made two turnbuckle covers that have screening to allow air flow without bugs. It really helps when the fan is sucking out to have cooler air coming in.  I blatantly copied this but can’t for the life of me find it now. He used a picture frame and bungee cords. Mine is lighter and uses the existing slides to keep it in.

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I also hung a cargo net I had leftover from my Toyota Highlander from the knobs on the sliding cubbies. It corrals my shoes yet allows opening the cubbies if necessary. I copied this from Bill Harr (Bill’s version). His is first, mine is next.

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I also got pictures of the ironing board inside as a table, since I shared it on WTW but didn’t have a picture.

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I also needed a better way to corral my step stool. I lost the carpeted area that held it with velcro when I installed the Dometic. So I made two loops through the heater vents with zip ties. That lets me use a bungee to connect around the step. I am really trying not to make any holes in my rig. Takes some creativity, but that is half the fun.

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This was the first trip with the Dometic and I have to figure out how to pack it better. But I was so pleased with the way it operated. My secondary battery was a little low when I left, so it was having trouble coming down to temperature, plus I put warm drinks in instead of pre-chilled as advised. So I grabbed the ice chest just in case. But in retrospect, the ice chest rides well in the space, is velcroed down, and fits more cargo than the Action Packer I usually put staple food supplies in, so I will probably switch the ice chest to my food locker. If I pack it with interior containers, I would have the benefit of having an extra ice chest if necessary. Double win! Plus the nice flat, metal top could be cooked on if necessary due to poor weather (like this weekend).

So it was an interesting trip with some high points and some low points, but the adventure continues.