Usually we travel down 97 to Interstate 5 and take it south, however because of forest fires as well as the closure of I-5 we decide to take a more easterly route to Alturas on US 395 to Interstate 80. We had not traveled with Lola along US 395 in Northeastern California, so it was a new area to see.
Likely Place Golf and RV Resort is a great place to stay. Besides being a half way point in our travels south, it has an 18 hole golf course. It is in a pretty remote area in Northeastern California yet close to US 395 to make it a convenient stop.
There are 5 or 6 cement pads and a few more grassy areas all with power for telescope setups. With the dark skies and high elevation Likely Place Golf and RV Resort is perfect to do some stargazing. Since we are only here for one night, Jeff set up the tripod and camera to get some practice getting some Milky Way pictures. He focuses on Cassiopeia and Andromeda Galaxy and uses Deep Sky Stacker (DSS) to process the images.
Besides stargazing, the resort offers a host of other activities such as fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking and nearby places to ATV. California’s Lava Beds National Monument is close by and many other attractions to explore. Several scenic drives are listed on the Lively Place Golf and RV resort sure to keep any family busy while staying here. See more here.
Likely Place Golf and RV Resort is on our list of places to come back to – as a matter of fact we plan to revisit the resort next spring on our way north to Alaska.
We left Sacramento on September 25th, heading east to the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque taking the long road there!
We had a bit of a rocky start when our RVi Brake acted up braking hard when it should not. After getting frustrated about the RVi Brake we accidentally pulled the toad a bit in park! After several thousand miles pulling our vehicle it shows we can still do stupid things when we get side tracked! Oh well, live and learn.
We arrived in Fernley, set up camp and took the Eyes of Lola out for a fly. Our DJI Mavic worked like a charm. We stayed at the Desert Rose RV Park. It was a no-nonsense park that was clean and new. It was on Alt-US 50.
Next stop – Winnemucca and NEW TIRES
On the 25th we drove on to Winnemucca, and wanted to see a bit more about the town. We visited the Humbolt Museum first then down to Wal-Mart to get groceries. Thump-thump-thump… something was wrong with the toad. We stopped at one mechanic that had good Yelp reviews, but he didn’t have time to look at it, so he referred us to Speedy’s just down the road from the RV park that we are staying at. Once there Jeff spotted a flat spot on one of the tires, and the mechanic confirmed that was where we need to start in figuring out the problem.
You guessed it, we needed to invest in a new set of tires. Good thing there is a Les Schwab Tire Store in town. Of course, because of the all wheel drive you can’t just get one or two replaced. Nope, all four. Augh! Well, it could have been a lot worse. The transmission was fine, and the tires were past their prime so it wasn’t to bad that we needed to get all four replaced.
Weather was great and the high desert was… very dry ;-). We had to keep remembering to drink lots of water. (Beer too!)
We stayed at the New Frontier RV park outside Winnemucca – it was off the highway a bit so it was relatively quiet. We spent 2 days here so we could explore the museums (and get new tires). And another flight with Eyes of Lola.
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.
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.
On our way to the next stop after leaving the Verde Valley is Kingman Arizona. Before reaching Kingman is the little town of Seligman and a nice stretch of Route 66 that branches off the freeway. We stopped at a ridge along Route 66 and gave our DJI Drone Eyes Of Lola a chance to stretch her propellers! Not only did Lola travel route 66, but the drone did too.
About 20 miles down Route 66 is Seligman where we enjoyed walking by old cars and classic neon harking back to the days of 2-lane travel. After buying some Route 66 memorabilia we stepped back outside for some SNOW! As usual, Sam the yellow lab was in the driver’s seat ready to get back on the road.
Desert Diamond Distillery
At Escapade in Tucson, we signed up for Harvest Hosts. It is a service that matches RVers to farms, breweries, wineries and other businesses that let RVers lay-over for the night. Many of these are a bit off the beaten track and look like fun diversions while traveling. At the Fourth Street fair in Tucson, the oldest distillery in Arizona – Desert Diamond Distilleries – shared a bit of their product with me. I am typically not a rum person, but “if you like sippin’ bourbon, you will like Gold Miner Dark Rum”. With one sip that I could feel from my lips to my toes I knew it is a winer and a bottle slipped into my messenger bag!
2017-03-31-172901 Kingman AZ Desert Diamond Distulery
2017-03-31-172851 Kingman AZ Desert Diamond Distulery
Planning our route from the Verde Valley to California took us through Kingman Arizona. Checking Harvest Hosts guess what business is listed in Harvest Hosts? You guess it, Desert Diamond Distilleries! We arrived mid-afternoon after driving a bit of historic Route 66 and stopping at Seligman to buy T-shirts and enjoy a bit of snow.
Peggy Sue’s Diner
Yermo, California – April
We drive through a small stretch of Nevada after leaving Arizona where we made a quick side-trip so the dogs could swim in the Colorado river at Bull Head City. We drove through some beautiful desert country all through Arizona, Nevada and California especially this year after the desert received more rain than usual. Another Harvest Hosts business is Peggy Sue’s Diner in Yermo, California, where we stayed next.
We had a nice dinner in the diner and took the dogs for a walk through a brushy area next to Peggy Sue’s.
Mojave and the Nipton Trading Post
We missed the peak blossoms at the floor of the Mojave, however the weather was perfect and the desert is green. We traveled the back roads through Mojave and stopped at the Nipton Trading Post for pictures and a break.
The drive up along Highway 65 going north from Bakersfield is magnificent this time of year with the wildflowers blooming and the Sierra mountains shining bright with fresh snow. Our next stop is just outside of Lemon Cove at the Army Corps of Engineers campsite at Lake Kaweah. The Horse Creek campground is only open from January to May. After May it is usually under water.
With our senior discount staying at the campground is a real steal.
We arrived at the Pima County Fairgrounds in Tucson on Friday, with the Escapee Escapade not starting until Sunday. This gave us an excellent spot near a grassy area next to the Cantina that is a few steps away from all the activities. Our reservation at La Mesa RV to repair our slide-out is Monday and we have an easy exit and re-entry plan since we are at the edge of the RV parking.
Oh yes, forgot to mention our slide-out issue. 2 days before arriving in Tucson when we brought out sides in at Las Cruces we heard a ‘crunch’ from our big slide-out. At the next stop in Lordsburg the slide stopped with about ½ inch left to go in. Trying again, the slide stopped (with a crunch) with an inch left to go in.
Christine called Winnebago and they thought one of the teeth of the slide-out ram had broken, and it was OK for us to drive with it that way. Christine then scheduled a time for the repair of the slide-out in Tucson at the La Mesa RV dealer. We purchased Lola from La Mesa in Davis California and that seemed to help us get an emergency time slot while we are in Tucson.
On Monday La Mesa identified the issue: a bolt for the slide-out had broken. This is an issue they have seen before, and a permanent fix done by La Mesa – by welding a bracket in place of the bolt – resolves the problem. Of course, our service plan (extended warranty) does not cover BOLTS & SCREWS! $500 for a half a day’s labor and Lola’s is ready to rock & roll again. Thank you La Mesa for getting us in while staying at the Escapade.
We enjoyed the Tucson Escapade. Since Jeff did not volunteer this time around we were able to focus on attending seminars and going to the show. Our favorite seminars were Harvest Hosts, Habitat for Humanity (FMCA has a specific chapter associated with Habitat for Humanity), Ham Radio while traveling and boondocking. The Ham Radio and Boondocking seminars were at the same time, so Jeff went to the radio seminar and Christine went to the Boondocking seminar – hosted by Boondockers Welcome.
What we missed were non-product specific seminars. At the FMCA rally this last August in Massachusetts, most of the seminars were not product specific, but more general. The few product specific seminars were clearly labeled as such. It would have been very beneficial to have some of the special interest groups (Birds of a Feather [BOF]) present. For example there is a boondocking BOF that would have been a great topic.
The chapter area was helpful. It was fun talking with Jojoba Hills SKP (Escapee) co-op and something we may look into in the future. Also talking with the various chapters so we can figure out what local camping events we can attend was useful.
The vendor area had a good selection of products, and we made a fairly major upgrade purchasing the RViBrake3 and the associated tire monitoring. Our RViBrake2 has worked well and our TireMinder Tire Pressure Monitoring equipment monitors Lola and the Toad’s tires.
One big improvement of the RViBrake3 is that it uses a tablet interface that makes it easier for us to keep tabs on the brakes and tire pressure (using RVi Tire Patrol); plus it is one interface to watch for both functions. And I must admit that I’m a bit of a sucker getting ‘new and improved’ technology. The geek is hard to retire!
The weather was nice, and the DJI Drone Eyes of Lola took to the skies again to capture the Pima Fairgrounds and the Escapee Escapade.
The entertainment was top-notch with a Native American group (Native Spirit) performing one night, and an amazing Escapee member talent show another night.
On the Friday after Escapade, we spent the day at the Tucson 4th street fair – a huge street fair – with my cousins David and Linda who live in Tucson.
At first we planned on staying at the Thousand Trails just outside of Cottonwood, Arizona at Verde Valley so we could explore the Sedona area after Escapade, however there are no campsites available at Thousand Trails Verde Valley. We thought about staying at the BLM land near Thousand Trails, but were uncertain about finding a campsite so decided to stay at Camp Verde RV resort in (surprise!) Camp Verde.
The campground is centrally located. We explored Montezuma’s National Monument – a cliff dwelling site, Montezuma’s well, Cottonwood, Jerome (unique ghost town) and Sedona.
We also found a great natural food store with a variety of medications for our mature hounds, grocery stores and other ‘necessities’ such as a great coffee shop and cool tavern (with local craft beer offerings) in town.
Montezuma Castle National Monument and Tuzigoot
Montezuma Castle National Monument is the site of a cliff dwelling dating back over 1,000 years, while Tuzigoot is a hilltop structure that was carefully restored from piles of rock walls left behind from early inhabitants.
Along its walls is a cliff dwelling. No fish live in the water, however leeches live in there and the water bubbles up from the bottom. The well itself is very deep.
Jerome Ghost Town
Jerome is a unique ghost town that abandoned in the early 1950’s. At that time it had 3 car dealerships, movie houses and many restaurants to support the miners. Perched on the side of a mountain at an elevation of nearly 1 mile above sea level there are amazing views of the Verde Valley.
Traveling from Florida to California. Abilene Texas
Buck Creek RV Park
Buck Creek RV Park is a very simple, full hook up RV park overlooking Abilene. They offer all pull through campsites. It is a great place to stop if you are passing through or exploring Abilene for a few days.
What surprised us about Highway 20 in general throughout Texas was how rough of a road it was. So many pot holes and a very rough ride.
2017-03-11-155950 Midland I-20 Preserve And RV Park
2017-03-15-073512 Las Cruces NM
2017-03-15-071932 Las Cruces NM
Midland Texas & the I-20 Nature Preserve
Midland RV Resort
We arrived in Midland Texas and stayed at the Midland RV Park with a threat of wind, rain and thunder-storms. Arriving around noon we ended up having dark clouds and strong winds the rest of the remaining day.
We also hit the jackpot at this RV place due to having a highly recommended RV Repair person available about 30 minutes after we arrived. If you need RV repairs, call Leon Booth (Mobile RV Tech) in Midland. You can find him doing a Google search. Fortunately he was able to fix our hot water heater within an hour, which then allowed us plenty of time to take in a hike just across the street from where we were staying at the I-20 Wildlife Preserve – bird sanctuary. What a treat that was.
The I-20 Wildlife preserve just across the street from the RV Park as promised, had lots of birds, turtles and other wildlife giving us a nice break from our travels. No dogs allowed though, so leave your pooches in the RV.
The storm hit us in the late evening and was pretty much over by the time we were ready to leave the next day.
We decided to take a break from our one night stays to stay at Van Horn for two nights. A very interesting place with lots of history in the surrounding area. Of course, we were now in the desert and what’s there? Pickers that just about took the dogs out from walking any distance. Desert in the spring time, especially after rain is such a beautiful place, just watch for those darn weeds.
We ended up having a wonderful breakfast at the restaurant on site at the campground before heading out to explore the area. Starting with a visit to the local museum in downtown Van Horn, we learned a lot about the local area, past and present. We also learned that the CEO of Amazon owns much of the land north of Van Horn and is planning on some very interesting things for it’s future. See link for more details.
Valentine Texas, about 35 minutes from our camping place is a ghost town, but does have a few hundred residents. (still not sure how that qualifies as a ghost town). A few old buildings were there with some old cars, etc. from its hay day. The winds were friendly, so the Eyes of Lola – our DJI Mavic Drone was up and flying at Valentine!
We stopped at the site known as Prada just on the outskirts of Valentine. The store (not actually a place to shop, just a display) was set up with some Prada purses, etc. It is a great place to stop and take a pictures of a unique object d’art.
Las Cruces, New Mexico
There are some really nice rest areas along the interstate going through New Mexico. The wild flowers were blooming all through the hills.
We ended up staying at the Las Cruces KOA on the side of a hill overlooking Las Cruces for just one night. What a view no matter what time of the day.
As we arrived just after noon, going out for lunch in the ‘old town’ of Mesilla before heading to Walmart to pick up Jeff’s prescription for an infected tooth. The restaurant was a treat for us and we walked around the old part of town a bit just enjoying some of the local tourist offerings.
Heading to Walmart, we did some quick grocery shopping before realizing we had gone to the wrong one to pick up Jeff’s prescription. Who knew that Las Cruces had three Walmart.
Our next stop was at the Lordsburg KOA. It is a clean campground that is convenient to the freeway. Eyes of Lola was out and we did a little more flying at this quick one-night layover on our way to Tucson Escapade.
Our last stop before Tucson was the Cochise Terrace RV Resort in Benson, Arizona. Cochise Terrace is an upscale RV park with lots of activities. We could have stayed here for a couple of weeks exploring the hills and ghost towns in the area, but the Escapee Escapade was calling us.
Arriving in Benson just after noon and the first question out of my mouth was, can we wash the RV and car in the park. They weren’t recognizable any longer, covered with dust from the time we left Florida until now. Our assigned campsite was asphalt for our overnight stay and they did allow us to wash both Lola and Toad for $5. Thank goodness. The wash took about 2 hrs to complete but we at least got the initial layer of dust off and buffed out the layer of minerals that had settled on the surface where the water heater had leaked onto the RV and the car.
Once we stopped cleaning and had a quick bite to eat, we were able to explore a bit in the area and take the DJI drone up for a quick flight before the evening sunset. After all that we were glad to head back to the RV to catch some much-needed ZZZzzzzz’s. All this traveling is exhausting. :)
We had very poor internet access after leaving southern Florida – so we are now catching up on our video and blog postings.
Lake Tawakoni Texas – Thousand Trails
We are on our way west to the Escapee Escapade in Tucson Arizona. We stopped at Lake Tawakoni to take a few days to veg out and unwind from traveling from Southern Florida.
Lake Tawakoni is a Thousand Trails RV park. It was flooded some time ago, but many repairs are being done (primarily electrical). The park is spacious and it was fun flying Eyes of Lola (our DJI Mavic Drone). The wind was calm and weather good, so we got some good flying in. We are getting the many features of the drone dialed in, and you will see more improvements over time.
The trees were just starting to bud out, and the wildflowers were showing their colors. There are some neat spiders just waiting for a quick snack too!
There were lots of trails to walk the dogs, and the lake has some great places to boat. Some of the reviews complained about ruts in the roads, but we didn’t have any problems as long as we kept Lola at the 5 mph. Like many other Thousand Trails parks there are more and more seasonal or annual sites. Lake Tawakoni is no exception. We feel some of the sites really needed more cleanup; however this was still early in the “season”.
Just before leaving, our water heater started leaking (inside the RV!). It appears the back flow valve leaks. I took it out and removed the back-flow valve inside, but it was still leaking.
We drove on to the Texan RV Ranch in Venus Texas to see our good friends in Arlington. We had a great dinner with Mike and Vicky then did some much needed shopping in Venus.
Next – on to Lake Whitney – Another Thousand Trail preserve and a quick visit to Magnolia Market in Waco.