Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Sue and Mo at Harris Beach
Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Sunday, March 25, 2012


the skies really were this blueOne hundred ninety five.  Miles.  That is the distance that the San Andreas Fault has slipped northwestward since the Pinnacles Volcanoes were formed between 20 and 30 million years ago.  What I found so incredibly fascinating about this place is that it was once just a simple stratovolcano, very similar to Mt St Helens before she blew.

Indian paintbrush on the Rim TrailIt erupted and exploded and flowed and rumbled for a few million years before going silent.  Then the Farallon plate that was diving below the American plate at last completely melted and finally stopped heating things up, and the Pacific Plate ran right up against the American Plate and instead of diving, it started sliding.  The huge stratovolcano was literally split in two, while two thirds rode north on the Pacific Plate and the other third stayed behind on the American Plate.

there they are, just learning.  They look like junior high age kids I thinkOver time and many climate changes, the entire volcano was buried under eons of sediments then uplifted and eroded again to expose the multicolored hues of various versions of rhyolitic volcanic rock.  The two thirds that forms the present day Pinnacles was uplifted more recently and is far more dramatic that the one third that has soft, old rounded landscapes, left behind 195 miles away somewhere in the vicinity of Lancaster. 

Mo climbed up here for a view of the kids climbing the rock below.  Not me!We came to Pinnacles mainly to hike some of its many trails and stand on the top of what remains of the old volcanoes.  We also came to possibly see the condors who are released here in a special breeding program attempting to bring them back from extinction.  Of course, we also came for warm sunshine in March and spring wildflowers. We got most of what we came for, but this evening, after a bit of research, I am pretty sure our condor sightings were really just big, beautiful turkey vultures soaring over the High Peaks.

CCC built this building of the local rhyoliteWaking to an absolutely gorgeous sunny morning at Coyote Lake, we drove less than five miles to Creature Comfort, a dog resort Mo found for Abby in nearby Gilroy.  Mo was nervous about leaving her, worried that she might figure a way out, but once we arrived, the many tall chain link fences underlain with plywood barriers to stop the diggers eased her mind a bit.  There were about 20 dogs running around all happy and of course they all had to come to the fence to greet the newcomer.  Abby thought the world was ending of course, and we were reluctant to leave, but the woman caretaker said, “It is like kids in a day care, you just need to get out of here, and she will be fine”.

The trip south to Pinnacles was just a bit over 50 miles, but once past the small town of Hollister, it seemed we were wandering off into an unknown world.  The green hills gave way to brown, even less rain here I guess, and there were a few huge estates and rolling acres of grapevines, surrounded by rangeland.

such a good boy today outside on his ownThe Verizon signal gave out and the ATT bars disappeared and we were completely disconnected for the next two  and a half days.  We had decided not to make reservations, since we were coming mid week, and that worked out just fine, this time.  In the future, we will probably make reservations since we learned later that this park can be completely full on weekends.  You just never know.  When we arrived, however, on a Wednesday afternoon, we had our choice of several of the electric only hookup sites in the main part of the RV park.

We settled in to a site with no reserved sign, and were told to come back after four to pay since there was no one capable of taking money at the visitor center.  Interesting.  There was a little store there as well, and I bought Fritos on the honor system, putting exact change in a brown envelope as instructed by the ranger at the desk..

beautiful sunny day, let's put the awning outThe park was quiet, the sun was warm, there was lots of space between sites with many of them empty.  Mo and I looked at each other and said, “Why not?”.  We let Jeremy out to play, off leash.  Sure enough, Jeremy was as great as I thought he would be, but it did help that there were no bushes or creeks for him to explore, just open space, and he hung around the motorhome sniffing and playing until he finally decided to go back inside on his own.  It was nice to let him have that bit of freedom.

Mo and I studied the park maps, the trails, the geology folders, the small booklet that I bought (with exact change of course), and decided that our afternoon hike should be the three miles or so up to the reservoir beyond the Moses Caves.  I had no desire to go through the caves, so we went around them and up some rather incredible stone stairs to the small dam built by the CCC and the reservoir.  It seems we also neglected to plan for the fact that this was spring break week in this part of California.

school kids writing their thoughts on There were lots of groups of kids in buses, and in the group tent sites, and on the trails. At the reservoir, we sat quietly with a small group of kids who were intently writing their reflections on “reflection” as they looked at the sky reflected in the water of the reservoir.Rather than retrace our steps, we took The Rim Trail which led up and back and around and down again to the parking area.  Perfect 3 mile hike for a perfect afternoon.  We knew we were saving the big one for the next day when we would have a full day to hike.

uhoh we have to climb those?Returning to the campground, I went back to the visitor center to pay my fee, only to discover that our site was technically reserved and we would have to move.  Seems as though whomever is responsible for putting out the reserved signs was letting down on the job.  We took down the awning, tucked everything into the rig and moved across the way to a site we liked better anyway.  It was lovely, with a huge live oak shading the picnic table and a perfect view of the mountain ridges to the south. We spent the evening entertained by turkey gobbles, quail calls and high clouds racing across the bright skies.

checking out the overlook on the Condor TrailThe next morning we packed up some tuna sandwiches and plenty of water to take on our planned six mile loop hike.  There are several options in the park, but with only this day for hiking we thought it would be good to get to the High Peaks Trail.  There are several ways to reach that trail, and we chose the Condor Trail, with an elevation of 1200 feet or so in 1.7 miles to the intersection.  The morning was sPut the awning away since the skies are clouding up a bit in the new siteunny but cool, perfect for hiking and the uphill climb seemed easy.  The views were expansive and gorgeous, looking back over the park down to Bear Gulch where we started.

At the intersection with the High Peaks Trail, we walked south a bit to see the views, and then continued back north for the 2.7 miles down to the Bench Trail.  During this time of week, there are no shuttles, so we stopped for lunch in the warm sunshine and rested our weary downhill legs.  All four knees held up, but I was really glad for my hiking poles!  It is a LOT of downhill with very few breaks. It was then another couple miles back to the parking area hiking along Bear Gulch, with more ups and downs than expected.  Amazing how much more we felt those little elevation changes after several miles of hiking!

intersection of the Condor trail and the HighPeaks trailIt was only mid afternoon when we returned, and we considered going back later to try a bit of the Old Pinnacles Trail.  However, neither of us were really up for another six mile hike and on the map it appeared that it was almost 3 miles one way to see the Balconies Caves.  Instead we decided to explore the campground a bit and discovered a huge complex of primitive campsites that could probably hold a small rig, but with no hookups, and every single one of them was reserved for the weekend, and many of those included Thursday night!  We couldn’t imagine all those tent campers showing up, but we left before finding out on Friday morning.

goldfields blooming at the top of the High Line TrailWhen we reached Bear Gulch Visitor Center after our hiking loop, there was a grad student from South Carolina taking a survey of your park experience.  It seems that the park is considering limiting access to large groups, perhaps limiting the number of people who can enter the trails at one time, and even requiring shuttle only entrance into the park area. We saw some illustrative posters of differing numbers of folks at different sites along the trail.  I was incredibly surprised. We had the entire morning and hiked the entire trail without seeing any other hikers until the very end where we met a young couple from Costa Rica, just up from the Bench Trail.  But at the parking lot there were suddenly screaming hordes of children, climbing over rocks, yelling, running up and down and generally doing what kids do on Spring Break.  Maybe the High Peaks trail is too long for them and the Moses Cave Trail and the Reservoir are the goal of a spring break day. The other goal seems to be rock climbing, with several areas filled with young ones attempting their first ascents.  We laughed as we overheard several children saying “not me” when asked who wanted to go first and then hearing the high voice of a young girl piping up with “I’ll go first!”

condor or buzzard?We were blessed with two days of perfectly gorgeous, coolish, sunny weather, an uncrowded campground, empty trails, wonderful hiking, lots of wildlife, and the possibility of seeing the endangered condor.  We studied the maps again, read Merikay’s account of hiking the southern loop of the High Peaks trail and decided, Yes, we will come back to this park again in the springtime.  We will avoid Spring Break Week, we will make a reservation in the campground, hopefully for number 91 again, and we will hike the rest of the trails that we didn’t have time to hike this time.

Yes, it is a bit out of the way, but it is a lovely place to spend a few days if you time it right.  Kinda nice being off the grid entirely.

03-22 Pinnacles

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

We found the sunshine on the Spring Equinox

green afternoon on the Spring EquinoxThere is a certain color of green in the California coastal range that comes after the winter rains.  Sometimes when the sunlight pours over the hills, that green can be so intense it feels as though it expands your vision into something psychedelic.  The timing has to be just right, and this year is a dry year so that neon green is a bit less dramatic, but still there if you look at just the right moment.

backlit hills from Coyote Ridge TrailOur moment was during a late afternoon hike to the Coyote Ridge Trail in Coyote Lake County Park, high above the hills of the Santa Clara Valley.  After waking to rain in Garberville, driving through rain as far south as Santa Rosa, negotiating huge lines of cars buying gas for 4.15 a gallon at Costco, and transiting the Bay Area freeways, we were happy to find our little park in the hills just a bit north of Gilroy off Highway 101.

the campground is open and today completely emptyWe found this one using Streets and Trips, researched it a bit, and made the decision that it would be a good overnight stop on our way to Pinnacles.  Just a few miles east of the freeway, the park could be in another world entirely. Rising from the valley, we drove a very narrow, winding road to the park entrance, and then after a couple of serious switchbacks, dropped down to the broad but small valley that is the home to Coyote Lake.

another good spot for a breakThe campground is lovely at this time of year.  I can imagine that the summer heat might be daunting, but right now the temperatures were a perfect 70 degrees when we arrived in late afternoon.  A large herd of resident deer wanders around the lush grassy site, and even now after dark I can hear the turkeys gobbling. 

I know it is mid week, but this park was completely empty when we arrived, and later this evening, one lone camper slipped in to a spot across the field from us.  There are 18 sites with hookups, not cheap at $30 per night, but that includes a fee for the dump station we passed on the way in. 

Is that our trail all the way over there? There are 28.5 miles of trails in this parkThe strangest thing about this park is the strict rule regarding NO swimming in the lake.  You can water ski, use jet skis, kayaks, motorboats, but you can’t swim.  Makes no sense to me at all.  Abby saw the water and got all excited so it was sad that we couldn’t take her down to the lake for a dip.

Coyote Lake from the Valley Oak TrailThe best thing about this park are the trails.  There are 28.5 miles of very nice trails, and we only managed to get out on 3 miles or so of the Coyote Ridge and Valley oak trail.  All are dog friendly, with leashes required of course, but with no one else in the park, it seemed fine to let Abby run free.  I did get a bit paranoid about the poison oak, but it wasn’t right on the trail in too many places, and hopefully we managed to keep Abby out of it.

We found amazing sunshine, and warm temperatures.  All the driving, all the rain, all behind us.  Sunshine ahead and I am sitting here after dark in capris and a tee shirt.  Great way to celebrate the beautiful balance of light and dark that this Equinox day brings.

Coyote Ridge to the topPS: As we packed up this morning, I learned some new things about the park.  On summer weekends it is packed.  During the week, however, there is almost always at least half of the hookup spaces available.  In summer it is hot and dry and brown.  The lake is kept at 55 percent of maximum because it is on the Calaveras Fault and they figure that the Anderson reservoir below Coyote Lake and above the Santa Clara Valley floodplain could hold the overflow in the event of dam breakage.  There are only a couple of mountain lions about, covering 100 square miles each, not enough to keep down the deer population.

I had no bars for Verizon MiFi and no bars for the ATT cell phone and no television signals.  I suppose someone with satellite would have had good open sky.  I am now posting from Highway 101 as we head for Pinnacles, another place with no bars.  We’ll be back in blogworld on Saturday.  There isn’t a cloud in the sky and the prediction for today is in the 70’s.  Yes!

Monday, March 19, 2012

It’s all good

the view through the windshieldReally, it is.  But sometimes it is also funny.  When we arrived in Brookings yesterday, we both had taste buds set on the perfect fish and chips at the funky little restaurant we found last fall.  Of course, being a small town, and a funky little restaurant, you never know when they will actually be open.  I had the bright idea, “Let’s run down to the harbor before we get the rig out of storage and make sure the Chetco Café is open today!”  Smart idea.  Mo went inside and got the hi ho from the help that they were open until 7 tonight. 

Yesterday afternoon, in all that gorgeous sunshine, we ambled around town, checking on some of the different properties we have been eyeing, and then ambled right back down to the harbor for a mouth watering supper.  Except…as we pulled up, at a few minutes before 5PM, the last car pulled out and a big CLOSED sign was on the door.  Foiled again.

We then ambled nearby to another place touting fish and chips and thought we might give it a try.  People inside laughing and eating, locked doors?!  Oh.  It is 5:01 on a Sunday in Brookings Harbor.  We seem to repeat this story often when we come to Brookings in one form or another, but we didn’t give up and ended up at a place called the “onion grill” with a sign that said, Steaks, Seafood, and Chinese Food.  Hmmm.  Once inside we had our choice of an American or Chinese menu.  Well, what can it say.  It IS a small town.  The fish and chips were adequate, the service was fine, the ambience was filled with many retired folks slipping in from afternoon services and they all seemed to know the very cheery and friendly Chinese lady running the shop.

blooming quince at Richardson Grove CGI knew this day would probably be rainy, so wasn’t the least bit surprised to see clouds when I woke this morning.  Time to drive south.  A quick check of the weather confirmed what I already knew. Rain and more rain for every destination south.  Ah well.  We are cozy and we are on the road and we will have fun, rain or shine.  The Weatherunderground cheered me up considerably when I saw that in that moment it was exactly 14 degrees in Klamath Falls.  Good to be where the chill is in the 40’s not the teens. Did someone say it is March?

We had a perfect plan.  I would drive the Tracker to the quilt shop while Mo took the MoHo on down the road somewhere for us to meet after my shopping spree and hook up. Perfect.  Forty five minutes later I left the shop with a large bag of goodies and went off to find Mo and the MoHo.  Pulled in behind her to hook up and….hmmmm….no hitch?  Seems as though Mo had left the hitch back at the perfect camp site, pretty as you please, thinking that maybe we might want to get into the back garage of the rig before morning.  (Our hitch gets in the way of our drop down spare tire so we usually take it out when we are camped and want our campfire chairs)

I found some color at the campground, the quince is bloomingSo back we went again, one more time backtracking through town to Harris Beach.  The park was quiet, nearly empty, and our hitch was sitting right where we left it the hour before.  Any other time we would have hooked up right away, but not this time.  Those hitch stingers aren’t cheap, so we were glad it was still there.

On a good note, the last time we put the rig in storage we made sure the tank was full.  Rumors were already flying a month ago about rising gas prices and we did OK on that one.  Filled her up at 3.73 per gallon and today the price at Freddie’s is 3.99.  Of course, tomorrow when we fill up in California the cheapest  price I have found so far on Gas Buddy is 4.49.  I am wondering just how much this will dampen the travel plans of many of us out there.  As happened before, it seemed that most RV’rs kept on driving, but ate out less and camped cheaper when possible.  Giving up our freedom still isn’t an option.  What would the price of gas have to be for you to stop driving?  I still can’t answer that question for myself yet, hope I don’t have to.

the lunch stop wasn't particularly inspiringIt was a very gray and I hate to admit it, a rather boring day.  Hence the rather boring photos.  We drove south again on 101, along the ocean for a time, winding around the curvy, rough, landslide prone roads.  We drove through the deep darkness of the redwoods on a cloudy, gray, cold day.  Neither of us cared much for getting out of the rig and we just kept driving.  We talked about all the sights we have seen on this road.  We passed Big Lagoon, and Stone Lagoon, and some kayak launches.  No kayaks on this trip and we were glad we didn’t have them since it is so cold and wet.

We passed our turn to the Lost Coast from the trip last year, we passed the turn to Loleta Cheese Company where we usually buy fabulous cheese, we drove on by the Eel River and the turn to Ferndale where we like to take photos of the Victorian buildings. All places we have enjoyed so much in the past, several times. 

isn't there anything around worth taking a photo?We thought that maybe we have driven this road too many times, and lamented that we have to drive too far now to get to anywhere we haven’t driven before.  Then I remembered last year and how the only way we could get anywhere was to travel down I-5.  Ugh.  This is WAY more entertaining than driving down I-5.  I knitted for awhile, I played with my pile of colorful fabrics, and in just a short 185 miles we turned into the Richardson Grove RV Park. 

We learned the hard way last time that we need to stop this far north of the Bay Area to avoid getting trapped into a very expensive night in a not so comfortable park.  Here the Passport America gets us a good nights rest for 16.50, full hookups, no cable. Mo found to her dismay that the electric cable to the Tracker had come undone and was all mangled.  Who knows how long we drove without lights.  We piled into the car for the 7 mile trip back to Garberville with hopes of finding some place to buy the part.  Now I would imagine that at times, Garberville could be kind of cute, but cute doesn’t exactly equate to a part for a Toad.  Lucky for us, however, Napa auto parts was in town, was still open, and had the part.  Back to camp in the rain, winding through the truly gorgeous Richardson Grove, I wished for more light and a camera, and no rain, so we could maybe stop and wander.  I am from Oregon, I should know how to hike in the rain and love it, right? Not.

the view through the bedroom windowOnce back home, I  put the bbq out on the wet picnic table and let the raindrops sizzle on the top as it got hot.  I have to say that dinner was amazing.  I bbq’d the chicken breasts with olive oil and garlic, and topped them off with a drizzle of the habanero pineapple jam, cut up some leaf lettuce and a tomato and topped that off with the award winning Rogue Blue Cheese and some 18 year old pomegranate balsamic vinegar, split half a baked potato from the microwave with Mo and settled down with our cute plastic wine glasses from the festival and we had ourselves a feast.

Tomorrow we will leave early in the rain, navigate the Bay Area and finally arrive somewhere new tomorrow evening.  I think I saw a lone group of poppies today, all closed up in the rain, but they gave me hope for the drive south.  The grass is getting greener, and I see hints of bursting spring leaves on the lower shrubs and on a few of the willows along the creeks.  There are daffodils here and there along the road.  When I think it may have been a bit of a boring day, I just have to go look at the photos of the snow at home.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

We found the cheese and the sunshine

ambience of the Oregon Cheese FestivalThe Rogue Creamery in Central Point, Oregon, has been making cheese since the early days of the Depression.  At that time, “artisan” wasn’t a common word associated with food, but the Vella family decided the only way to keep their business viable was to create a new image.  That commitment to creating artisan cheeses changed everything, and the Rogue Creamery has become world renown, with award winning blue cheese, among others.

Oregon-Cheese-FestI read about the creamery in Sunset magazine, read about it again in some food magazines, and then again in a newspaper article touting this amazing cheese resource right under our noses. They host the annual cheese festival, and it seems that this little corner of Central Point is home to several artisan food makers that participate.

Often, Mo and I would drive through Central Point near Medford on our way to somewhere else and see the big banner “Oregon Cheese Festival” and say to each other, “Gee, we have to do that sometime”.  Isn’t is amazing how often something so close to home can be overlooked while we wander the country searching for new adventures?

yummy stick from the Rogue Creamery.  The yellow band on my wrist allows ten wine tastingsYesterday, the adventure was all about cheese, and wine, and chocolate, and more wine, and more cheese, and some great breads, and oh yes…pesto….and salsa….and lavender jam….and habanero chili lime cilantro sauce…..and …..and….more wine.

Just an hour from home, with a dusting of snow on the pass, we found the big white tent with hundreds of cars parked on all the side streets and friendly bike cops patrolling the crosswalks.  There were a LOT of people there, and a LOT of people sharing their passion for artisan everything.

it is spring across the mountain in Central PointWe really had no idea what to expect, thinking perhaps there would be a small gathering of folks, a few booths maybe.  Instead, the huge tent was filled to the brim and it seems that there was a lot more wine than cheese!  For five bucks we got a bracelet with ten spots to check off for wine tasting.

Now, as you know, a tasting isn’t really all that much, but after ten of them, I was as giddy and bubbly as a kid out  of school.  And I couldn’t figure out how I could be so FULL from eating all those little bites of wonderful tasty things.  After all, they were just little bites, and little sips, right?

pib_750mlMy favorite thing of all was the Clear Creek artisan distillery using beautiful Oregon pears to make pear brandy and pear liqueur.  That was truly amazing stuff, and they even have bottles with a perfect pear INSIDE floating in the crystalline 80 proof tasty brandy.  The liqueur was to die for.  Maybe that was why all the cheese tasted so good and I felt so giddy.

We topped off the afternoon with a trip to Chico’s for me  (ahhh yes…have I mentioned I am a Chico’s addict?) and a Costco run for the best chicken breasts around, cashews that are bigger and fatter than any others, and pecans at half the price of the grocery store.  No toilet paper.  How many Costco baskets can you count leaving the store that don’t have huge packs of toilet paper in them?  Not many!

water coming off the steep mountains all along highway 199 and the Smith RiverWe woke again this morning to a dusting of snow, and once again loaded up the Tracker with dog, cat, food, (including of course, our artisan purchases of cheese, salsa, hot pepper jam, and other goodies), clothes, cameras, computers and ourselves, for the four hour trip to Brookings where the MoHo safely awaits our return.  This time the pass had a lot more than a simple dusting of snow, with the plows running heavy and a near blizzard at the top. Once again I was grateful that we weren’t driving the MoHo over that pass to get out of the basin!

Once in Medford, things settled down, but we again had snow on Highway 199 along the Smith River.  I have never seen the Smith running so high and frothy, and all along the canyon, water cascaded down the rocks at every turn.  We stopped for one of the biggest ones, along with several other cars taking advantage of the deluge.

Here we are again, in an even better space.  Look at THAT view!Once we reached the “Banana Belt of Oregon”, however, the sun was shining and the skies were clear and gorgeous.  Not a speck of fog or rain, but huge white cumulus clouds in the sky made the blue seem even brighter.  Harris Beach yielded up the prettiest site we have had so far, and we have had some nice ones.  A24, down toward the far end of the front row, has a wide view of the ocean, with just enough trees to keep us a bit hidden from incoming cars on the road below.  Lots of empty spaces on the front row this afternoon, and we took the very best\

keepsake poster from our trip north last monthJust a couple more little things to share that I keep forgetting about.  Geez.  We finally made it onto the website.  Of course, we are still in the process of being accepted or not, but hopefully they won’t dump us in the near future.  Al was right, people seem to really use that site a lot to find out where the RV bloggers are. 

good thing we have ten foot walls for all the keepsakesThen, I just wanted to share the really gorgeous poster that we bought from our last trip up to the northern part of the coast.  The whole Lewis and Clark history was so wonderful, and the poster so gorgeous, we couldn’t resist.  It is a good thing Mo’s ceilings are ten footers and that there is still room in the office up high for one more wall thingy. (You know, of course, that you can click on these photos if you care to see them bigger)

cheese fest 3-17-2012 10-41-43 AMActually, speaking of wall thingy’s.  I just have to share this incredible gift from my daughter Deanna.  When she visited last month, she said her whole reason was to bring something to me that she just didn’t want to ship in the mail.  Needlepoint is something Deanna has done for some time now, and she whiles away her non-driving time with needle in hand.  I am the lucky recipient of this amazing stitchery, framed perfectly, and ready to hang.  I think of her every time I pass the low wall in the kitchen where it now hangs.  Just tickles me no end.

With all the rain predicted for our trip south, it’s hard not to want to just sit here overlooking the amazing ocean, but the road calls, new sights await.  Besides, if we sat here it would probably just rain brookings 3-18-2012 2-01-45 PM


Friday, March 16, 2012


I won! 002I won! I won!!  Amazing.  Those of you who rode along with me in the MoHo on the Coast 101 Quilt Run (my very first such experience), and wished me well, are in for some thank you’s.  I won a third prize gift certificate for $50 to spend at will at the sweet little quilt shop in Brookings.  I am happy to say that this was one of my favorite stores of the 14 that  I visited.  I had given up on winning anything except receipts for all the fabric I bought when this little card showed up in the mail yesterday.  Needless to say, I am tickled and already imagining and remembering all those gorgeous fabrics and the great ladies I met in the shop last month.

Carrizo Plain flowersLucky me, since we are heading back to Brookings on Sunday morning, and I told Mo that we would have to wait until store opening time on Monday before we travel south to California.  Once again we are going south, looking for sunshine and warmth.  According to the predictions, however, it might be warmer than Rocky Point but probably not much sunnier.  A big storm is dampening the west right now, and it spreads far and wide.

birthday snow_477Our plans have shifted back and forth several times, with thoughts of traveling far enough south to the Carizzo Plain to see the amazing wildflower show.  The image on the right is from the internet (I have no idea who to acknowledge here), but it is one I have seen repeatedly when searching for wildflower blooming times in the California springtime.  The Carizzo Plain and the Tremblor Mountains straddle the San Andreas Fault and are a long way from anywhere southeast of Paso Robles and southwest of Bakersfield.

I plugged the plan into Streets and Trips, counted the days, looked at the weather, and looked at the lack of rain and rethought the plan.  Wildflowers on the plain are an ephemeral thing, totally dependent on the timing of rainfall, and this year there has been very little.  Rumor has it there isn’t much blooming  yet. The Carizzo Plain will have to wait for another year. Of course, now that we have ten days to get away, it is raining.  Of course. 

we had no snow this winter, so I knew it would come in Marchclose to two feet of snow in the last 2 daysGas prices being what they are, and timing being what it is, I decided instead that it might be time to go see Pinnacles National Monument.  Merikay was there recently and took some great photos.  Mo was there many years ago when she lived near Half Moon Bay, but I have never seen it.  Several friends from soil survey have been involved in the soil mapping there as well.  I have read papers, and seen the results of research and study, but now I just want to walk and explore and experience what it has to offer. 

Being a national monument, we knew that Abby couldn’t go on the trails, so planned for a doggie day care in nearby Gilroy for the two days we plan to stay in the park.  The day care seems rather amazing, with no cages, just lots of beds and toys and other friendly dogs in a big doggie park kind of environment. 

The new office color is called cocoa rumJeremy is wishing the birds would hurry up and returnLast week I wasn’t working, but of course Mo and I had some big projects waiting for a non-working, non-traveling week.  We finished the painting project started last year at this time and completed our office, and mud room and back entry halls.

In the early mornings I worked on the baby blanket I am knitting for Mo’s new grand niece born just after her birthday and took one long afternoon to pull out the sewing machine.  When Maryruth and I had our girls weekend last fall, we bought fabric and patterns at the quilt shop in Chico, but of course Maryruth doesn’t quilt.  I am making this diamond lattice table runner for her. As simple as it looks, it still is a bit of a challenge for me as a newbie, but I am having so much fun with it.  It amazes me how all these little puzzle pieces actually turn into something.

been working on a baby blanket for a new grand niece coming to Mowinter days are perfect for quiltingThis week was a working week for me again, and Mo managed to finish painting her entire big bathroom while I plunked away on the computer.  It is Friday!!  I shut down NASIS for the last time this evening and won’t look at it again for ten days.  Poured myself a glass of wine and took a deep breath.  Tomorrow we will brave whatever the weather gods have in store for us over the Highway 140 pass to go to Medford for the day.  Our destination: the annual Cheese Festival at the Rogue Creamery and of course an opportunistic Costo Run as well.  Gotta stock up for our Sunday exit to sunny…er…rainy California.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The MoHo

We drive a 26 foot 2006 Dynamax Isata E Series 254, on a Ford Chassis with a 450 V-10 gasoline engine.MoHo on the overlook on I-5 south

Our first experience with Dynamax was with the small 21 foot used Dynamax Starflight that Mo bought back in 2005. Back then we thought we were so incredibly original to come up with the name “MoHo” since it was MO’s HOme.  Ah well, since then I have discovered that MoHo is often a short name for other MOtorHOmes.   It was a cute little rig, but really too small for extended travels.  We loved it, though, and discovered over the two years that we drove it that the quality of Dynamax was dependable.  Mo started looking for a newer rig and found our Dynamax Isata in New Braunfels, Texas in December of 2007.  We drove to the east coast for a cross country trip and picked up the new MoHo trading in the old one on the way back west.

Moving Day 12-27-2007 1-22-47 PMShe was a year old model at that time, but still new with a new vehicle warranty.  At 26 feet, she is short enough for easy travel in tight spots but big enough for us to feel comfortable for extended traveling.  Our longest trip out has been about 2 months.  With a Ford 450 V-10, we have enough power to easily pull our 2001 Chevy Tracker, usually loaded up with our Swift kayaks and our bikes. We get about 9 miles per gallon on a good day. One of our favorite features is the automatic engine downshift when in tow haul mode.  It works great for steep, mountainous western driving.

When we first bought the rig, we drove home from New Braunfels, Texas to Oregon.  It was a good opportunity to learn the rig and with the 800 number for the dealer, we had good help with small issues. Since then we have had to replace fuses now and then, replaced the relay for the inverter, and finally fixed the goofy passenger seat wiring that kept causing the fuses to blow for the seat adjustment buttons.

checking stuff before we leave MontagueA bigger issue that took a bit of doing was the right side mirror, which was defective.  It took a bit of hassling to get that replaced, but it was done through the warranty at Central Point RV.  The step also had some issues and was also under warranty.  The biggest issue, however, was the manifold exhaust, which came loose on a stormy night when we were trying to get back to Oregon from my home in California.  A post about some of these initial issues is here.

We have one slide for the living area, and the bed in the rear is always down.  It’s a 3/4 bed, but we both like not having to make down a bed every night.  We also know that neither of us is young enough or agile enough to climb up into a cab over bed, which is why we weren’t interested in a Class C. Some of the newer models, with a couple more feet, actually have a bedroom slide-out with a full queen bed.  Making the bed is a bit of a pain right now and that is one feature that could tempt us to upsize someday in the far out future.interior MoHo shots ambient light

We have a comfortable leather sofa that makes down into a queen size bed but no dinette.  There is a pedestal table that we don’t use much and instead we have folding tables that we store behind the sofa and bring out when we park.  One feature we really love is that everything is accessible to us when the slide is closed, so we can stop along the road and rest, cook, get in the refrigerator, or use the bathroom with no difficulty.  Also nice for windy nights when we want to leave the slide closed anyway.

After six years, we have actually decided to replace the leather sofa with a Flexsteel leather dinette that will make into a single bed if needed.  I’ll update when that project is completed.  Countryside Interiors in Junction City, Oregon is in charge of the installation. We also replaced the original very poor mattress with a new one specially made from American Mattress in Eugene, Oregon in late summer 2013.  Much Much Better! As of October 24, we have the new dinette installed.  See my post about our upgrade here.

sure glad we are in the MoHo and not a busWe both drive, although Mo tends to do more than I do.  She likes my navigating skills and hates doing that part herself.  The rig is comfortable and easy to drive, easy to park, and easy to handle in traffic, even with the towed. The rig is extremely well built, and even after several weeks on the roads in Alaska and Canada, we didn’t have any serious problems with anything breaking, rattling, or coming loose.  All the materials used in the interior are super high quality, corian sinks, leather upholstery, nice wood, a good porcelain toilet, brushed nickel faucets and shower head, that sort of thing.

Interior MoHo with flashWe have been really blessed and with the exception of a very few minor fixes when the rig was new, she has been dependable and not prone to stuff going wrong.  Sometimes I still think of her as new, but now at six years old there are no real signs of wear or leaking.  The paint is still nearly perfect and Mo just uses the liquid waxes after she washes the rig. 

new rig 12-29-2007 8-21-18 AMMo replaced the house batteries last year, and our Onan generator is still working well.  We do try to start it up on a regular basis and let it run for a bit if we haven’t used it. 

One downside that Mo has discovered is that the batteries are in a very inconvenient location in one of the lower bays.  They are open to the road and get dirty and are difficult to reach when trying to check the fluid levels.  The batteries are not closed cell batteries.

In 2010, with kudos to Michelin, we replaced the tires.  While the MoHo was brand new to us in 2007, and it had very close to zero miles, the model was 2006, and the chassis was actually from 2005.  The MoHo sat in the hot Texas sun waiting for her new owner, and we then added around 18,000 miles on the rig before Mo noticed that the tires were checked and cracked, and very dangerous.  Buying six light truck e-class tires is not a cheap proposition!  Michelin to the rescue.  After reading the fine print, we found that the tires were still under warranty.  Michelin gave us an 85 percent credit toward the entire set of six!  We got brand new tires on the Michelin warranty for a little over 200 bucks.

Mo also replaced the non functioning CO2 monitor in 2011, and we have had to order door handles for both the fridge and freezer part of the Dometic refrigerator.

Folks driving a big Class A with those gorgeous huge windows might miss those open views and light.  I know I do, but with all the other features that are so convenient and useful, I’m still not willing to wish for a Class A. Since we are not full time RV’rs, we have all we need with this rig for now. 

Interior MoHo with flashI  received a couple of questions about what is in the upper part of the cabover in our rig, so added this photo even though it isn’t exactly blog quality! 

Interior MoHo with flashThe photo shows that our cabover is basically empty in the forward part over the driver’s seat.  Helps a lot to keep us from feeling claustrophobic and from worrying about a TV falling on our head.

Our driver and passenger seats are very comfortable, but they do not swivel.  That would be another feature we would appreciate and may upgrade the passenger seat eventually.

Another person asked about cat litter. If you look in the hall shot  toward the bedroom, the tall scatter proof gray box travels there when we are moving and moves in front of the passenger seat when we are parked. Quarters are obviously cleaned as quickly as you might flush any other kind of toilet in your rig.