Lone Tree Point and Hope Island

Thousand Trails La Conner

Lone Tree Point and Hope Island

The Swinomish Indians share some of their land with the Thousand Trails La Conner Preserve in Washington.  La Conner Thousand Trails  is on the Puget Sound just north of Seattle.  Lone Tree Point is a sacred spot for the natives in the area.

Here’s a map of the area, compliments of the Swinomish Indian Tribe


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Swinomish Indian Reservation

And an aerial view of the point:

2017-06 Lone Tree point
Lone Tree

On the point of land is a single lone tree.  Over the years, storms have ravaged the tree, and it is smaller than it was when we were last here in 2006.  The tribe is growing seedlings from the seeds of the Lone Tree to eventually replace the old tree.  The Swinomish tribe has established a marine interpretive center primarily focused on the clam re-seeding program.  There are several informative signs explaining what the tribe is doing.  They are experimenting with raising clam varieties that are better suited for eating than the invasive non-native pacific clams.

From Lone Tree Point, out in the sound is a large floating nest of pens where salmon are farm raised.  These do not belong to the Swinomish Indians and the tribe has erected a sign explaining the amount of pollution created by these pens.

Getting Some Pictures

Great weather continued during our visit to thousand Trails La Conner, and I spent a couple of hours out on Lone Tree Point enjoying the sea breeze.  On a couple of visits I flew the DJI Mavic Drone to capture the beautiful scenery.

Here’s the flight path on one of the flights (using Air Data):

Hope Island Flight
Hope Island Flight

I have been experimenting with using D-Log and the GC-Heron LUT (Look Up Table) for color adjustment from RTH Studios (non-paid reference).  I have found it a challenge to dial in the drone camera settings and the right post production settings.  More drone photography experiments to come!  {Updated Video with Corrected Color Grading}


Back to Oregon

As I mentioned in a previous post about our arrival in La Conner, in May and June we were in the middle of getting my dad’s house  ready for sale.  Fortunately my brother was able to maintain the house and get a new roof up prior to Christine and I arriving to get it ready for sale.  We remodeled the kitchen and bathrooms, put new siding on the house and painted it inside and out.  Thank goodness my younger daughter and her husband were able to take some time off from their busy schedule or we would probably still be up in Oregon getting it fixed up.  Thank you!

Dad’s house

What’s next?

As a retired couple full-timing in their RV, life is a breeze, eh?  Not!  We purchased a true fixer-upper close by our daughters in the Sacramento area and are currently busy ripping out carpets, remodeling bathrooms and the kitchen and hauling trash away!  Almost feels like work.  Good thing we have Lola to live in during these crazy times.

We are headed to Albuquerque for the Balloon Festival and are busy planning our winter visit to Arizona and South Texas.  Stay tuned!   We will explore more of Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico on our way to the festival.

Balloon Trip
New Mexico here we come

In the meantime I want to do some reviews of tools we have been using successfully and NOT over the past full year of full-timing in Lola.

Jeff and Christine


Happy Trails


Lake Minden

Lake Minden, Nicolaus California


Lake Minden RV Resort is a NACO/Thousand Trails RV park located in Nicolaus California between Sacramento and Marysville where highway 99 and 70 split.  This is the second time we have stayed at this RV park.  We are staying for 3 weeks.

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The park is close to Sacramento and the Lake of the Woods State Wildlife area.  Our daughters live close by and it is a convenient place to camp while visiting family and friends.  We are also catching up on dental, medical and vet check-ups.

Lake Minden has a small lake where fishing is popular with the campers.  The California drought seems to be over for now, and it rained most days for the first two weeks at the campground.  The sites are level, and our campsite finally dried up the last week at the park.  Since we spent most days out visiting and taking care of business it did not impact us too much, but we welcomed having a dry space to enjoy sunny weather the last week here.

The only campsites that have sewer is Section A.  Only one spot was available when we arrived, and we didn’t fit in that site.  Only a few sites in Section A accommodate a 40’ RV.  The other section for RVs is Section D.  The sites have more space but only have water and 30 amp power, so we have to pull around to the dump station to empty our tanks.  We could have paid $25 for the honey wagon to empty us but decided not to use that service.

For the past several months, our Norcold refrigerator has had a lot of condensation that pooled at the bottom of the inside.  I finally took some time to diagnose the issue.  I first checked the drain hose and it seemed clear.  Then I checked where the drain hose connects to the tray under the fins inside the fridge.  I had to take out the restraining bars that prevent the shelves from sliding out then pulled out the tray.  The drain hose connector is broken where it connects to the tray so I ordered both a new drain hose and tray from norcoldparts.com.  Since I was not certain whether the hose came with a new connector or if it was part of the tray I got both.

I also sold the RViBrake2 and got the new RViBrake3 control panel set up.  The Tire Patrol tire monitoring sensors from RVi are not available yet, so we will continue to use the TireMinder sensors for tire pressure monitoring until they come in.  Once the Tire Patrol sensors arrive we will have one control panel for both brake status and Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).  We bought the RViBrake3 at the Tucson Escapee Escapade RV rally.

We spent time with our friends and family – here’s pictures from a walk in Rocklin



Our summer schedule has firmed up, and we will be going up north to Oregon for May and part of June, then up to the Puget Sound area north of Seattle for the rest of June and July.  Then back to the Sacramento area in August to work on a house there.  For the fall, we will be going to the Albuquerque Balloon festival!  We are excited about that.

Happy Trails!


Camping at LOTS – Lake of the Springs

Camping Trip #3 – Camping at LOTS

Saturday January 17, 2015 – Oregon House, California

We are back at Thousand Trails Lake of the Springs (LOTS) for our third camping trip in the Journey.

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We found a campsite that overlooked the fog and low clouds of the Sacramento valley.

Overlooking Sacramento Valley
Sutter Buttes sticking up out of the clouds below

Originally we had planned to leave Friday mid-morning after Christine finished with her teleconference.  Then first I had to work all day Friday and then Christine ended up having another teleconference Saturday morning.  So I picked up the Journey from storage early Saturday morning and got it packed while the other half worked.  It is an easy 90 minute trip and we broke out of the clouds mid-way to Oregon House.

We selected “I” section because it’s the easiest section to get into and out of for a 40′ motorhome, plus it is a bit more remote than the sections that are closer to the little lake on the preserve.  There were only a half-dozen campers in “I” section at the top of the hill.

We first tried  the same site we used last time, but it was uneven and our front tires were way up in the air, so we decided to try another spot.  We backed into a 2nd spot overlooking a little ravine towards the east, but we didn’t have enough room.  So we pulled into a 3rd spot and it was pretty good, but when we leveled the Journey our back wheels were off the ground.  So back out, turn around and back into the spot.  Finally!  Sound like the Three Bears?  Christine is becoming an expert guiding my parking!  Well, anyways – home at last.

LOTS Journey
The Journey pointing West
Lake of the Springs Thousand Trails
Lake of the Springs Thousand Trails

Once we got set up the dogs wanted to explore and stretch their legs after that long hour and a half trip!  We took them out to explore the preserve.  It surprised us how empty the campground is.  This is a holiday weekend and even though it’s January we expected more weekend campers wanting to escape the clouds and fog in the valley below.

There are some nice trails throughout the campground.  Some of the areas are closed off – “hibernating” for the winter.  It is quiet and peaceful and before long we started relaxing and forgetting about work.

Before getting the slides out I wanted to finish the product videos that I had started some time ago.  We purchased the Hughes Autoformer Power regulator and I had done an unboxing video.  Before posting I wanted to include how it gets set up, so out with the camera.  The video and finished product review are posted here.

Then we pushed the slides out, brought out the dog beds and our books and we all stretched out to read and snooze.

Quick Pizzas - Mushroom and Olives
Quick Pizzas – Mushroom and Olives

For dinner we made some quick pizzas using our new microwave convection oven.  I put together some home-made pizza sauce and we added some sliced mushrooms, olives and sweet peppers with a few onion slices.

Great way to finish off the day!

Sunday, January 18th 2015 – Oregon House, California

The dogs got us up at the usual 5:30, and I took them out to look at the stars.  It was fantastic – a low moon at the horizon and thousands of stars at Thousand Trails.  Christine stayed in the Journey to catch a few more Zs.

Thousand Trails - Deer
Thousand Trails – Deer

We took the dogs for another walk through a hibernating area and spotted a family of deer foraging.

Manzanita Leaf
Manzanita Leaf

The manzanita are just starting to poke out new leaves, and the bark is all smooth.  In the summer the outer bark splits and looks like red paper wrapping the bush.

Manzanita Branch
Manzanita Branch

Here’s a shot of a Manzanita branch with the red wood circling an old branch cut.

Lichen and Moss
Lichen and Moss

If you look, there is lots of color – sometimes in unexpected places.  I liked the cooler color of the lichen with the moss.

Lichen on Rock
Lichen on Rock
Manzanita Blossom
Manzanita Blossom

A few manzanita are blooming too!  Great to see some real color in January.

Lichen and Moss
Lichen and Moss

And some new Manzanita bark – just starting to peel.

Sunday Smoothie
Sunday Smoothie All Done!

Then, back to the Journey for a breakfast smoothie, and more reading and complete veg-out.

In the afternoon I took out the RV QuickShades and finished the product review for the new shades we bought, and posted that product review here.  One thing that surprised us was how transparent the shades were at night:

RV QuickShades at Night
RV QuickShades at Night

Because it was very cool we couldn’t test how much heat the RV QuickShades kept out of the coach – we will revisit that in an add-on review later.

Another dog walk taking us by the lake at Lake of the Springs –

Lake of the Springs at Thousand Trails
Lake of the Springs at Thousand Trails

You can see what a nice day it was.

Monday, January 19th, 2015 – Oregon House, California

Last day at the campsite.  More reading and walks.  We were sad to have to take the Journey back to the barn.  We can’t wait until we are full-timing!

Journey @ Lake of the Springs
Journey @ Lake of the Springs









Buying the right RV – Done!

Our Journey – Maiden Voyage

We did it!  We’ve gone from looking to buying the RV.   In August we purchased a 2008 Winnebago Journey from La Mesa RV in Davis, California.  Prior to purchasing this RV we had placed offers on RVs in Oregon and Southern California during the first week of August.  Getting information about an RV that was remote was a real challenge.  On August 8th we got an email from La Mesa and saw they had 3 Journeys along with some other brands that we are interested in at the Davis dealership.  So we gathered information from NADA and  J. R. Consumer Resources so we could have some idea what price ranges would be proper.

Buying the right RV!

On August 9th we drove to Davis to check out several RVs including a 2014 36 foot Journey, a 2008 and 2007 40 foot Journey (actually 39 1/2 feet) and about 10 other RVs that fit our requirements.  We had originally been looking at the 32 – 36 foot range and thought that the new 36 foot Journey would be great (See this post for some of the decisions we have wrestled with).  We loved the fireplace and the fact that it was brand new.  But with our long-term plans for full-timing in the RV and going back and forth between the 3 finalist RVs we settled on the 2008.  First, it only had 17,000 miles and was in near-perfect condition.  Second, the price was more attractive to our pocket-book than the new RV and third, the extra space really makes the decision of which RV to buy easy.  Since it’s a used RV we opted to buy an extended warranty and La Mesa offers a 15 day warranty on specific items.  With the 2008 Winnebago we felt we were buying the right RV.

We purchased the RV on August 9th, and picked it up on August 25th.   Between the 9th and the 25th I spent some time each evening reading the various manuals from Winnebago, Freightliner, Cummins, Norcold, etc.   On the way home from Davis after getting our 2 hour orientation and signing the final paperwork we practiced driving, turning and even doing 3 point turns around Sleep Train Arena.   We then loaded a few things into the RV then drove it to storage.


We are so excited about our RV!  We were able to take it out on her maiden voyage on August 29th – September 1st.
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For our first trip we drove to Thousand Trails’ Lake of the Springs near Oregon House California – about 20 miles east of Marysville.  I could not believe how smooth it rides and how easy it is to drive.  With the rear engine, it’s quiet in the front cab.  I must admit I was a little nervous at first, but we had an older Suburban and Prowler Trailer several years ago and this was much easier to drive.  It didn’t take long before we were more relaxed – especially once we got out of the Sacramento city traffic.


Once we arrived at Lake of the Springs our first challenge was to find a spot large enough for our Journey and the 10 person tent we were setting up for our daughter & boyfriend.  The first few places we tried to slide into would have been OK for just the RV, but not an RV and a large tent.  We finally located a double space that was available and set up camp.

We wanted to check as many things as possible during this first trip out because of the 15 day dealer warranty.  We extended the slides, hooked up power and water, got the awning extended then took our dogs for an orientation walk.  Both of our daughters came up with family and friends to inaugurate this milestone.  What a great weekend.  2014-08-30-1805-03-LOTS Journey-2

Our laundry list of things not working was fairly short.  On Saturday I go to make some brownies for daughter C, and could not get the convection part of the Microwave/Convection oven to work.  I downloaded the manual and tried every which way to get it to do something and other than the fan going on for a short time, no heat.  Our electricity usage  bumped up about 1 amp while the fan was running, then went back to flat line.  So we microwaved the brownies; which was not exactly the way they are supposed to be baked.  But, they did get eaten.  When I tried to get the DVD player to work I got audio but no video on the front room TV; but the bedroom TV worked so the grand kids watched Disney in bed while we prepped dinner on Saturday.

Our grey water tank for the kitchen filled up quickly and after doing some searches on some blogs found out that the two grey water tanks are not connected.  There is one for the kitchen and one for the bath.   A simple gate valve can combine the two so they will balance out.  Also, the grey water gauge for the bath holding tank never registered past empty. And on the way back home it was hot, and the dash A/C quit working.

We reported these and a few other issues to the dealer and took the RV back in for the warranty work on September 25th.  They are also installing a new replacement bedroom window that is stained between the dual panes.  La Mesa has been great to work with.

We have made a lot of purchases since buying the RV, so in the next post I’ll share what we purchased and why these items were first on our list.

as Dale Evans and Roy Rogers sang… Happy Trails!