…Let’s just call it by its proper name: “50-(c)Amping It”. Okay, that’s settled.
This weekend’s rather-spontaneous shakedown cruise took us a few hours North, as we got together with some outstanding chums in those parts. Folsom, California parts, that is. We were wheels-up a little later than we had hoped for on Friday — 1:30 p.m. Seemingly not bad, and hopefully we’d be a little ahead of the late afternoon drive-time crunch, right?
The GPS said it’d be about a 3.5 hour schlep. Turned out to be nearly a 5.5 hour traffic nightmare, taking the route we did (um…NEVER AGAIN!). The Stockton/Tracy/Sacto freeway gig in the late afternoon proves the very existence of Hell.
Anyway, aside from the quasi-alarming, and completely unscheduled, light show on our dashboard’s information center, we had an uneventful drive to Folsom Lake/Beals Point (Granite Bay). Here, for your enjoyment, is a sample of the aforementioned light show (and yes, that is ‘Holiday Road’ you hear in the background):
We finally pulled in to the Beals Point campgrounds around 6:15, and were able to enjoy about 14 seconds of daylight before we backed Moby 2 into our generous site. Great site (thanks to some stellar advance research by our good buddy, Mike), with plenty of room and full hookups. Funny, but the placement of the hookups was laughably optimal; I think our longest utility run from the coach was all of 3 feet! Fire pit? Check! And LOTS of room between you and your neighbor. Gotta say, we recommend this place.
In addition to our good buddy, Mike (who recommended our site, and would bunk with us for a couple nights), we were joined by a couple of other lifelong local buds (and lovebirds) Wendy and Scott. They had secured a great birth a couple of spaces over from us, and they had their truly-cool 15-foot trailer with them. Wave to the peeps, Wendy and Scott!
Scott is a former Eagle Scout, and definitely somebody who knows his way around a campsite, let me tell ya. One of the first things he pointed out was the abundance of red oily leaves on most of the surrounding bushes. Yep, Poison Oak. Needless to say, we’ll be keeping an eye out (we brought along Coco and Nikki too). They hosted an amazing campfire at their site once we’d settled, and not only did they provide marshmallows that looked to be the size of toilet paper rolls…
…Scott surprised us with one of his new specialties: Dutch Oven-baked blueberry cobbler! I kid you not. Can you say, Game Changer? Or more accurately, Game Changer Ala Mode? Wow….. I’m pretty sure it was the best thing I’d ever had in my mouth.
Give that man a merit badge, will ya?! Seriously…
have an amazingly-awesome circle of friends, and we are blessed to be able to call them among our Besties.
After a couple hours of catching up, swapping stories, and tellin’ lies around the fire, it was time for everybody to turn in. Scott, Karen and I were scheduled for a canoe trip across the formidable Folsom Lake at 0900, after all.
So, come sun-up, uh…around 0930, we slathered on some sunblock, and we jumped into Scotty’s truck and headed a few scant minutes away to launch our canoe at Folsom Lake. Lake? There’s gotta be a lake around here…it was right here — I could swear it! Well, despite a couple of decent rain showers we enjoyed recently, and the fact that the water level had reportedly risen about 28 feet in recent weeks, the once-formidable Folsom Lake looked pretty sad…
Here was the view from the parking lot. If you squint your eyes just right, you might be able to see a meager blue patch of lake water in the distance. This meant, of course, that if we wanted to get any canoeing in, we’d have to jump in our Mars rover and create our own “launch” ramp… Okay, we didn’t have a Mars rover, so that meant we were going to get a good hike in as well. Bonus!
It was one of those hikes where — you know the deal — it’s like this mirage on the horizon that never ever seems to get any closer. Scott’s GPS figured we hiked about 1.5 miles to the edge of the “lake” where we could get the canoe wet. Good times… Actually, Karen and I can’t really complain since Scott volunteered to shoulder the load — literally. That’s him, the guy shaped like a canoe, above. Did I mention he was an Eagle Scout?
The mirage eventually bore fruit in the form of an access point from which we decided to embark on our trip to Aintry (not really — there weren’t any toothless mountain folk around, thus we didn’t need to carry our bows ‘n’ arrows). Destination: the other side of the pond — or the little island where Scott had previously seen several bald eagles nesting — whichever came first. Oh, here’s a pic from Scotty’s previous outing a week before. Pretty dang cool to see Don Henley and Glenn Frey looking so good:
Good thing Scott had posted those pics previously because we didn’t see any once we arrived at the island. There were a few motorized boats zipping around the lake, going far in excess of the 5 mph limit, which probably scared away whatever birds of prey we might’ve otherwise seen. So we hiked around there for about a mile and a half, then returned to our boat and prepped for the paddle back. Since it was “Princess Day”, Karen got to sit in the middle seat and take photos while Scott and I handled the oars.
It’s kind of a deceiving distance. Once you get out there on the water, it seems like you’re embarking on a trip to Rapa Nui. But, like most return trips, it seemed shorter than the one coming. I’ve never understood that phenomenon, but it was.
We eventually got there, and from the place we landed, we stood there, slack-jawed, as we looked at the hike we had ahead of us — back across the Sahara, to the truck. This time, Scott and I shared the duties of transporting the canoe, while Karen hiked ahead. We both decided it was way more fun going uphill this time (not). GPS showed we did a little over 1.5 miles back up to the parking lot, and we were all patting ourselves on the back for getting a whole year’s worth of fitness accomplished in a single morning!
Now, I’ve never met a Bloody Mary that I even remotely-liked, but Scotty once again proved his Merit Badge in Mixology. I had 2 of ’em! Wendy served up some awesome solid breakfast fare too, and all five of us enjoyed the splendor of this 72-degree morning in Paradise. Fast forward a couple of hours, and our group ventured out for about an hour of donating to the good Native Americans at the Red Hawk Casino, followed by a trip to a favorite old haunt in nearby El Dorado, the one and only…POOR RED’S Bar-B-Q! Yeah, boyee!
This place is legendary. Legend has it — probably accurately — that this was a former bordello about a hundred+ years ago. That’s not why it’s a favorite old haunt, btw. They are famous for their baby back rib dinner, and their signature cocktail (invented here at Red’s), the Gold Cadillac! A Gold Cadillac is a beyond-yummy concoction that tastes a bit like a good vanilla milkshake (now THAT’s a “Happy Meal”!), that consists of Galeano, half & half, Cream de Cocoa, and ice — all frapped together in a good blender. One Gold Cadillac is served in two glasses: A champagne glass and a milk glass. Here’s what four Gold Cadillacs looks like:
Actually, we fired up another big bonfire @ Wendy and Scott’s, enjoyed some more big, big belly laughs, then returned to our respective tents. Another great day! Ahh….
It was Karen’s and my turn to host breakfast the next morning, so we decided to rough it (meaning there was no table cloth on our picnic bench). We busted out the good Corelle® dishes (the ones we got Free with our rig), and served up some scrambled eggs, bacon, toast with “Jannie Jam” (my sister, Jan, should be getting a Nobel Prize for her homemade jams any day now), orange juice, and some good Bailey’s-infused coffee. Some call it camping. You may call it Glamping. We’re just gonna call it 50-(c)Amping, thank you very much!
Afterward, I went about reeling in all three (3) feet of Moby 2’s utility hookups, and — after big hugs all around — we embarked on our return schlep home. We promised each other that we would avoid the route we took previously, and opted for the Hwy. 50/Interstate 5/Hwy. 152 option (Thank you, Jesus!!) — and we were home in 3 hours, door-to-door!
No dashboard light show on the way back, thankfully, and we can hardly wait for our next little road trip! ‘Til then, Happy Trails, kids!
By popular demand, here are a few pix of the inside of our “tent”, aka Moby 2.
Another view of the Livingroom: Note the Dance Floor, and the swiveled Captain’s chairs — which are buttery soft…
And then there’s The Captain’s Quarters. The queen mattress is one of those TempurPedic memory foam deals.
<Don’t forget: The Captain’s Welcome Cocktail party is on the Lido Deck @ 8:30!>
I love camping. Before, I could really take it or leave it…mostly due to the requisite rocks under the sleeping bag, the sloping tent site, the poles, the ants. Did I mention the rocks?
With our new 40-foot “tent”, we don’t have worry about those pesky things ever again. Moby 2 has one of those heavenly memory foam mattresses. Even a Princess could sleep undisturbed by a boulder under this mattress. Fresh water for dishes, a hot shower, a flushing toilet, reliable gas burners for cooking, 4 slides, a fireplace and DirecTV: Now THAT’s camping!
Okay…okay…it’s not really camping in the purest sense, but it works for this former Boy Scout, and there’s no going back.
Our test shakedown cruise took us only an hour away, to the Thousand Trails San Benito campgrounds (just south of Hollister, in Paicines). If you’re a TT member, we can heartily recommend this 200-acre facility. I think it boasts about 500 sites, many of which have been upgraded to 50 amp hookups. FULL hookups, including sewer, unlike the TT campground we vacated in Morgan Hill.
It was Super Bowl weekend, and TT hosted an all-you-can-eat Crab Feed on Saturday night. It was a kick, and we definitely each ate our $45 worth of crab, salad, pasta, garlic bread…plus, we each got a bottle of wine included in that! They sold raffle tickets for big screen TVs, computers, and a host of other surprisingly-high end prizes. Our group didn’t win anything (ahem, rigged!), but we had a blast just the same. Great staff, and they also offer full breakfasts each morning — for like six bucks!
We pulled-up our tent stakes (snicker!) around noon on Sunday, and made the return pilgrimage to our home base. Karen wanted to try driving the new beast, and drove like a pro all the way back. She even wanted the challenge of backing this 40-footer into our space, which she handled admirably! Back in time for the Super Bowl even.
All in all, it was a great first venture, and we can’t wait until we can unleash Moby 2 on the open highways for an extended voyage. She handles like a dream, and we think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship…
So… When we last checked in with our young heroes, they were about to spend an hour or two poking around the SeeGrins RV Extravaganza RV Show. Just for fun. Get a free burger. Enjoy a little sunshine on their Saturday. Coupla hours, max. Done.
I’ve gotta say, there was a pretty good turnout on Day 2 of their big RV show. Lots of inventory, and lots of rigs to poke our heads in. We exclusively looked at the Class A models, which ranged from upwards of a quarter million dollars, to as low as…some very modest preowned ones (most not nearly as cool as our Moby for the same price point).
Of all the offerings, we absolutely fell in love (LOVE!) with a new 2014 model Winnebago Itasca 35-foot diesel pusher in the showroom there. We kinda fell out of love with it when reality brought us back to Earth and we paid closer attention to the $225K price tag. Okay, when we win the lottery, we may revisit that one. In the meantime, our current rig, Moby, is just fine…she’s great, even.
A couple of hours later, having had our free burger, and realizing that our dream machine was completely out of reach for the foreseeable future, we were heading back to the car.
Leave it to yours truly to want to poke my head in one more rig on the way — a For Sale By Owner diesel pusher we hadn’t yet seen.
Oh, she was a beauty from the outside! High-end full-body paint, four (count ’em: 4!) slides, and a handsome freight train at 40 feet long! After peeking at the window sticker, noticing that this was less than half the price of our dream machine (see above), I decided to peek inside — just for giggles, right?
Right. Who’s giggling now?
Upon seeing the raised embossed graphics on the headrests of the buttery-soft leather captain’s chairs, I exclaimed, “Hey, this one’s got palm trees!”. Did I say that out loud? Did I exclaim it even? I must have, because moments later Karen responded with, “Uh oh…” (obviously thinking about what happened the last time we saw a rig — our current rig, Moby — adorned with funky palm trees). We’re into that schtick.
Anyway, as we entered the rig, our jaws dropping at the beauty we beheld, it suddenly dawned on us that this HAD to be another National RV product! Like ours! Palm tree headrests, bird of paradise dining chair cushions and embellishments, gorgeous workmanship and attention to detail…and the name: TRADEWINDS. Hello!!! This could be our Tropi-Cal‘s (Moby’s) big sister! (And it could be Moby’s successor if we don’t get back in the car and leave now!!)
The 4 sliders, the whole Palm theme dealio, the utter spaciousness and grandeur of this Taj Mahal on wheels… We didn’t stand a chance! National RV 2006 Tradewinds (the 40D with the “Maui” paint job, btw)
Yep, you guessed it. We pulled the trigger on this one and Karen, master negotiator that she is, got them to buy back our precious Moby for the same price we’d paid, minus $300, when we bought her from them two months prior. She could negotiate a glacier sale to an Eskimo, God love her. Really, it’s like we got to rent — or test drive/live in — our current RV for two months. For $300!
We’re still pinching ourselves, believe me, and can’t wait to take her home this weekend! Moby 2 will be our new home — a real home — starting Saturday! It’s gonna be awesome!
Now…having not even test driven it, I wonder what it’s like driving a 40 footer!? Stay tuned, kids!
Well, we’re now halfway into January. After a feverish couple of months of daily scrambling, the dust has settled, for the most part. Actually, where we are now, there isn’t any dust to speak of. Thank God.
As we become more accustomed to our new life in very-finite living quarters, we’re beginning to learn a little each day — and are quickly becoming hip to what we like, and don’t like, in our humble little mobile whale. Okay, to be fair, our girl Moby is pretty delightful, and if we were planning to occasionally spend a week or so in her as we travel somewhere, this baby would fit our needs in spades. Seriously, she’s got a lot going for her. And she’s not little — she’s 36 feet plus. But the space that her single slide-out offers is seemingly sliding IN on us as we avoid the trip hazards and stubbed toes that go with our current living arrangement. And we’ve exhausted both the indoor and outdoor storage space already… Oy.
But. We did jump into the deep end without even testing the water, and we’re finding that, as first-time FULL-TIMERS, we may not be as happy as we’d imagined for the long haul in this thing. Full-time, every day, every night, repeat as directed… Moby is starting to present a few minor challenges. Mostly room, as I’ve mentioned. But now it’s the little things that start to go wrong on a 15-year old coach.
Like…plumbing, for example. In the past week, two minor problems have presented themselves. One is the plastic spray hose deal that’s attached to the kitchen faucet. We’ve noticed that the shelf under the sink there was getting wet. The main pipes seemed okay. After much testing, we found that the aforementioned spray attachment leaks down the little white hose, and deposits its moisture under the sink. In the scheme of things, it’s not like we blew up the generator or something serious like that, but for this patently-unhandyman, it might as well be. I’ve disassembled that thing and put it together in as many configurations as a Rubik’s Cube, and it still doesn’t seem to work. So, on to the next issue:
Karen was removing her blow dryer from the cabinet below the bathroom sink the other day. Apparently the hair dryer lightly bumped the pipes under the sink — like, akin to a soft kiss — barely touched it. Suddenly the entire plumbing array fell off from the sink and lay there in the cabinet like a castaway Blue Man Group instrument.
“Damned LEGO plumbing!”, is what I heard from the next “room”. Upon investigation, it seems apropos: LEGO plumbing. Plastic parts, fit together by the loosest of contact and without any additional joint compounds or hardware. The guys in the RV manufacturing plant must have contests for who can slap together a plumbing assembly the quickest. Apparently, the guy who did ours won that day.
Thankfully, there wasn’t any water in the pipes at the time, so it was only an inconvenience — and perhaps warning sign as to problems to come…? A little roll of that weird, stretchy black plumber’s tape wrapped around the connections of said pipes seems to have done the trick. Not pretty, but it’s good for now.
Where’s that little LEGO Plumber when I needed him most?! Oh, well…
Hey, the TV is advertising the big, seasonal, Gigantic RV Extravaganza show at SeeGrins RV in Gilroy this weekend! Maybe we should check it out for an hour or two and get one of those free burgers they offer! Note to self: Don’t forget what happened last time we went there for a free burger, a mere two months ago! Ah, we’re just gonna go there to have a look see … not to worry…
Watch this space.
What day is this? And what are we doing today??!!
That’s what our past…oh…two months have been like. Seriously! You should see our calendar entries. I’m exhausted just thinking about it…
Between the five (5) garage sales we had in November, the dozens of craigslist ads we posted to sell-off some of the big stuff (hutches won’t fit in an RV, nor will a Tiki Bar), the countless ebay sales, the generous Salvation Army donations, the stealthy tossing of stuff in neighboring dumpsters (shhhh!)…it’s amazing how much STUFF you have to get rid of when you decide you’re going to live in a tube!
Then we did the Yelp! thing, shopping around for storage facilities. What a racket that is! Someday I want to own a storage facility. I digress. We ended up getting a 10’x10’x20’ (the largest we could find at an acceptable price), and it seemed cavernous when we rented it. Surely we’ll have plenty of room for the few things we’re keeping, right?
So, after we pared down to what we decided we wanted to keep for some future day when we again might have a domicile that would fit the multiple couches, the dining set, the three flatscreen TVs, the coffee tables, bedroom furniture, and innumerable boxes of sh—er, stuff, we rented the largest UHaul truck available, and hired a couple of strong backs to pack her up. Amazing how, even with the most strategic packing, that truck filled up to the point where the door would just barely close.
Man, I hope this stuff will fit in the storage unit! How big was that thing again??
Panic began to set in once we rolled open the door to our storage unit, now with the mother of all truckloads poised to fill it. Our visions of spaciousness, and having access aisles between rows of stuff, quickly vanished. Cr@p – we are hosed… Oh, well; too late now. It is what it is.
So, our guys did the impossible; they somehow managed to make our *stuff* fit in there – barely. (I forgot to mention that our truck was 26’ long and our storage unit was 20’ long.) Yeah… Absolutely ridiculous how much we decided to keep! Miraculously, the sliding door closed and we slapped a lock on it. Pray we don’t need to find anything in there anytime soon…
This was just another day in a series of days, weeks, and months that seemed to blend together…and never end. A blur, for sure, and between all of the innumerable logistics, we managed to do our holiday shopping, attend two (2) Christmas family get-togethers, moved into the new rig, began our own crash self-study course in RV Living 101, returned to clean the house we had just vacated, shopped for more stuff to put in the RV, designated more stuff to get rid of from the RV…
Anyway, since our RV purchase included a one-year membership with Thousand Trails, we planted ourselves at the Thousand Trails RV Resort in Morgan Hill, California. As complete virgins to the RV experience, it seemed like a decent place to start. The only wrinkle in that plan was when we noticed there were no sewer hookups at any of the sites. DOH!! We noticed several people were pulling around these wheeled wagons of their own excrement, toting their waste to the designated dump site there. Ummm…seriously???!!! I’m sorry, but life’s too short to be schlepping around a cart full of nasty crap every few days. Even if it’s your own. It just seems so Neanderthal, and – whew!! – God forbid you’re downwind of that! Oy…
So, we toughed it out there for about a week, then we decided we needed to find other digs. Nice campgrounds; don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of trees, critters, and it’s a nice place to have a campfire. But, once your black water tank’s level indicators show you’re approaching FULL, the reality of the situation rears its ugly head, and you have to deal with that whole unpleasantness.
After checking out numerous other RV resorts in the area, with FULL hookups being the priority, we were thankful to stumble upon a place where we feel we might be able to stay for a while. We have since relocated there, put down stakes (and our sewer connect hose!), and now have all the basic comforts two campers could possibly want — and we don’t have to worry about…well, anything.
I think we just might sleep in late tomorrow, enjoy a nice pot of French Press coffee, flush the toilet gratuitously (because we can!), and do absolutely nothing.
After the month-long week we had yesterday, we’ve earned it.
Ah, yes… Nothing says Merry Christmas quite like choosing Christmas week to move. That’s right, boys and girls. Our young heroes are about to embark on a major life change during the holidays!
After conducting five (5) garage sales in a month in an effort to streamline to the bare essentials (okay, we are putting some stuff in a storage unit), we face the challenge of transitioning from home to RV. You can only eBay and craigslist so many things, then it’s time for the Salvation Army donations. Then, the trash heap.
Whatever what won’t fit in the motorhome…
Repositioning Moby to her new berth, and repositioning ourselves into Moby in her new berth, all come to fruition next week, during…the most Wonderful time of the year…
Call us crazy; go ahead. Maybe we are. But, the wheels on the bus go round and round, and we are all systems GO for living full time in our rig. It’s too late to turn back now…I believe, I believe, I believe we’re falling in love (at least we hope!), with the new lifestyle… We shall see!
‘Til then… from our motorhome to yours…Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year, by golly!!
After repeated viewings of the RV 101 DVD the dealership gave us, we felt reasonably confident (?), and embarked on our maiden voyage, with Moby setting sail for a beautiful beach destination, a few hours’ drive south: Morro Dunes, CA.
Morro Bay’s location is smack-dab in the middle of what is arguably the prettiest part of California, the Central Coast region. What better place to conduct Moby’s road trials than a manageable schlep to San Luis Obispo county, n’est pas? Besides, if there’s a problem, we’d be stuck in wine country, so it couldn’t be too bad!
Now, I’m used to driving a Mazda Miata. So… as you can imagine, taking the helm of a 37-foot bus was akin to going straight from a canoe to the QE2. Without any help from the Port Authority. Thankfully, Moby performed admirably!
We found you really have to have a healthy respect for the girl’s length and girth when navigating in tight traffic and on narrow passages of road — especially in some of the construction zones we encountered on the 101 (you know the temporary cement lane barriers that leave you about a half inch on either side). Zero room for error. You really have to keep your eyes on the road every second…and don’t blink unless absolutely necessary. Then there’s momentum; don’t forget momentum. It’s best to anticipate your braking needs, and engage/disengage the overdrive strategically, if you want to miss that iceberg off the starboard bow.
But we made it, and without incident!
We weren’t sure what to attribute it to, but upon arriving at the Morro Dunes RV Resort, my lovely companion started to feel ill. Real ill. And, like immediately! We found our site, and it was dark at this point, so some friends, waving flashlights, helped navigate Moby into her slip. Some minor leveling was involved (ahem); no biggie. By this time, Karen was in full-on Flu mode, and was otherwise disposed, so El Jefe dug out the brand new sewer hose, the 50-amp power cord, and the new fresh water hose, and hooked ’em up…hoping to God that it was done right (where’s that DVD?!). After a few leaks and tweaks, we were good to go. No pun intended.
Now, as a point of information, having The Flu works the same way whether you’re at home or in an RV. We’ll spare you the details, but all plumbing systems seemed to be working properly. We just kept a close eye on the Black Water level indicators. Oy…poor Karen.
About 36 hours into her 24-hour bug, she began to feel a bit better, so we were finally able to leave the confines of Moby and explore the wonderful beach and town there. We had the dogs with us, so walking them on the vast expanse of beach at Morro Dunes was a treat for everybody! Gorgeous beach, and amazing landscape features that reminded us of Planet of the Apes — all it needed was that half-buried Statue of Liberty from the movie <sorry, Spoiler Alert!>.
We enjoyed lunch at the Hofbrau Haus in town (sans dogs), did a little shopping to help the local economy, and found the best salt water taffy we’d ever tasted. <Goooood cracker!> Had to buy a coupla pounds. Help the economy.
Dinners during our stay were with friends, in their 40′ 5th wheel trailer which was parked across the way. With 4 slide-outs, their rig was much more conducive to dining/entertaining, so it was nice…
The morning of Day Four, it was time to make the return schlep home. Karen battened down the hatches inside, while El Jefe donned his rubber gloves for the fun part: unhooking… Thankfully, the handles on the Grey and Black Water drains were color-coded, and the process began. Oh, Black Water, keep on rollin’… (apologies to the Doobie Brothers) — that song has new meaning for me now (gotta add that to the Playlist!). I digress. Grey Water flush: Check! All lines in…Roger that! And we were “wheels up”…
As we got to Paso Robles, we had to stop at the wonderful Robert Hall Winery (highly recommended), where we did a quick tasting — after all, we’re members! We carefully stowed the six bottles we bought, and enjoyed a leisurely return trip home! And lived to tell about it!
Thanks, Moby!! It was (mostly) a dandy vay-cay!