Kings Canyon National Park – End of Season November 2019

Well here it is November 4, 2019, and my 6 month season at Kings Canyon National Park has come to an end. Today was the day I was pulling out and heading to Washington State. I had spent the week packing things up in my motorhome for traveling and today I was up early to do last minute things and get my tow dolly connected to the motorhome. I thought I had it all figured out and I pretty much did, but there always seems to be a hang-up here and there. A few days prior I had managed to pull by hand my tow dolly out of the brush where it had been sitting since arriving here back in April. A few of the rental trailers had been picked up by the rental company so the two spaces next to me were empty and made it easier to pull the dolly out and place it in the empty spot next to me. My plan then was that I could just pull my motorhome out of my spot and then back up to the dolly and hook it up. Well, my motorhome is 34 feet long and for some reason, after several attempts, I just could not seem to get it backed into the position I needed. I was close but just not where I really wanted to be, so I decided that maybe I could just pull it by hand to line up with the hitch on the motorhome. Well, I just did not have the psychical strength to get it moved and pulled by hand to line up correctly and in fact, it ended up rolling kind of sideways into the backside of the motorhome. No worries no damage. Knowing I was not going to be able to do this by myself I called up a couple of my guy co-workers, but they were working and involved with a year-end audit so they could not leave. I called my co-worker Andrew, who is the restaurant manager. Things were slow so he was able to help me out. He had the muscles to get the dolly moved to where we needed it and between us, we managed to get it hooked up on the hitch. My next obstacle was since I had been there one of the power lines was lower than it had been before due to some work that had been done over the summer, so Andrew kept a watch as I pulled out and up the hill that I was not going to catch the top of my motorhome on the wires…..Yea!, I cleared the lines. The next obstacle was just getting down the rutted out dirt road that was always a mess to drive even our cars on. I just took it really slow and easy so that I didn’t rattle and shake everything out of the cupboards in the motorhome. I made it down to the flat area of the parking lot where I had parked my car the night before. I knew Andrew had to be getting back to work and I thought I could load my car myself. So I proceeded and was able to get the car pretty much loaded by myself…..this was really the first time I was doing it by myself as the previous few times since I have been towing the car I have had help. I was doing good till I was at the part where I had to place the tire webs over the front tires and just wasn’t sure about if I was placing them correctly. About that time two of our girl co-workers came by in the company truck and asked if I needed help…..I was debating whether they could be of any help when I saw Rick our housing manager. I told the girls thank you but I thought Rick would proably be able to help me, so I got Rick and YES, he was so much help, he actually gave me good tips and got me all setup and the car secured for travel.

I made my last rounds stopping off at the Market, the Trading Post, and the Restaurant to say my last goodbyes to everyone. It was bitter-sweet. My time at Kings Canyon was amazing but also had its frustrations. I was ready for a change and ready to get back to Washington to spend time with my family. I made so many good friends at Kings Canyon and I knew I was also going to miss them a lot.

I was finally pulling out about 12:30 P.M. made my way down the mountain which is all downhill for 57 miles from Grant Grove Village to Fresno, CA. I made it to Stockton, CA by late afternoon where I was meeting up with a friend who lived there to have dinner, visit and stay overnight. It was great to catch up with my friend and take a good break from the day of just trying to get loaded up, on the road and driving. I stayed overnight at the Walmart parking lot.

November 5th – This morning I was back on the road knowing I needed to get the air checked in my motorhome tires before I went to much further. After sitting for 6 months at Kings Canyon I knew they were a bit low and you just can’t get air in your tires anywhere. The tires are much bigger than car tires so I needed a truck place. In Lodi just off the freeway about 12 miles from where I had stayed at the Walmart, there are several truck services, so I got off at the exit and spotted a truck tire and wash place that was an easy pull in and out. Pulling a tow car I can not back up so I always have to be thinking ahead about getting in and out of places pretty easily.  I parked alongside the road and walked into the place of business to make sure they would be able to help me out and sure enough, they could. There were no other trucks being serviced so I was able to pull right in and get taken care of. My tires were a bit low just as I thought…..all tires were checked including the tow dolly tires. I was not charged at all, but gave him a tip for the service and helping me out. So off I went, hopping easily right back on the freeway. I drove this day till I stopped at a rest stop about 4 PM just outside of Weed, CA as it was getting later in the day, I don’t like to drive in the dark and did not want to be driving over the Siskiyous in the dark.

November 6th – I made it through the night just fine although it was cold. One of the things I have going against me right now is my propane heater and my generator does not work, so I have no heat when I am on the road and its November…..Brrrr! I bundle up a bit more, put on my gloves, turn on the front dash heater but it’s not really made to heat up all the space in the motorhome, but it does a good enough job after a while that I am fairly comfortable. Today I drove a few hours and stopped at a rest stop at about noon for some lunch and to get a shower while the temperatures were warmer. I proceeded on my way and stopped again for the night around 4 PM just a couple hours before Portland. OR.

November 7th – Today I drive the rest of the way to Washington close to my destination of Gig Harbor arriving about 7 PM. I drive to Port Orchard, a small town about 15 miles outside of Gig Harbor where I can park at Walmart for the night. My son lives about a half-hour away so he and his girlfriend come to see me and welcome me home. I stay the night in Port Orchard but the temperatures really drop during the night and it’s very cold without any heat.

November 8th – This morning I called my son and talked to him about how cold it had gotten during the night. My son talks to the homeowners where he lives to see if I can bring my motorhome to their place to park and hook up to electricity for the night….I am so grateful as they say that it is fine. I have an Airbnb reserved in Port Orchard on the 9th for a month, so I just needed to get through one more night in my motorhome. I drive out to the Key Peninsula and my son helps me get parked and all settled in. I am happy to be warmer.

November 9th – It rained during the night and I awake to some drizzling rain. I spend a few hours getting some things packed up and loaded into the car that I will take with me to the Airbnb that I think I might need and some of my scraping book stuff to work on while I am staying there. I borrow a car from my son’s girlfriend since mine needs to be worked on. I head out about 1:30 and pick my grandson up from high school at 2 PM. He is going with me to the Port Orchard Airbnb to help me unload the car and get set up. Check-in time is 3 PM…..We get to the Airbnb, meet up with Shannon the host who was very nice. The cottage is just as awesome and cute as I thought it would be from the pictures that were posted on the website. The cottage sits at the front of the property near the road with a circular driveway between the cottage and the main house which is on the waterfront. The cottage is blocked from street noise and view by a row of very tall Juniper trees….its a lovely place.

 

 

September 2018 Road Trip – Nevada: Elko, Lamoille Canyon

My next stop was Elko, Nevada to spend a couple days with my cousin, so I headed out of Las Vegas about 1 PM as I had a 6 1/2 hour drive to make. Because I can not drive that many hours straight without a break and because that stretch of road is long and nothing for miles I knew it was going to take me longer to get there, plus I ended up feeling really tired and just needed to close my eyes for a bit, so at one of the rest stops I fixed myself some lunch and slept for about 15 minutes. After that I was fine but I did not get into my cousins until 9 PM that night.

The next day, Saturday, August 25th my cousin, Walt and his wife, Lynette took me on a drive to Lamoille Canyon….21 miles outside of Elko. Lamoille Canyon is a glacier-carved canyon in the Ruby Mountains and is one of the most beautiful ranges in Nevada. The scenic drive is just 12 miles one direction with self-guided interpretive signs describing the geology of the canyon. It’s hard to believe after traveling through much of Nevada that is desert, rock, dust and pretty barren that one would find this beautiful canyon. There are plenty of hiking trails to explore with Island Lake being an easy two-mile hike. I wish I was in better shape and did not have bad knees so I could do more hiking and get into the backcountry a bit more. In addition, there are places to camp as well as picnicking which is what we did, we brought some lunch and found a really awesome place nestled in among the trees after a short trail walk. A few weeks after my visit a terrible fire went through this Canyon so before you pay a visit be sure and check the updates.

How it all began

Some of you are probably wondering how this all began. This is something I have wanted to do for a very long time. My initial thinking sometime back was to get an RV while I was working and have it paid off by the time I retired, which is at the minimum 6 years away, and then hit the road. I just am not the type of person who in retirement would be happy just living in an apartment and looking at the 4 walls.  During the past year, I began to see stories of people selling their homes, all their belongings, quitting their jobs and hitting the road in their RV’s or travel trailers. Then a friend from high school retired got herself an airstream and started traveling, then I saw another old friend and her husband spend a month traveling in their camper.  I was seeing all these great adventures and the beautiful places they were visiting….. Every day is a new adventure and meeting new people, seeing old friends and family. I was seeing folks removing themselves from being tied down to a job, a  house, a car payment and the same thing day in and day out, I was seeing them removing the stress from their lives, exploring and being free and happy. In August of 2015, I went on a two-week road trip with my three grandchildren. I saw old friends I grew up and went to high school with,  spent time hanging out with them and going on great adventures….. quad riding on a friends ranch, horseback riding on another friends ranch, swimming (lot’s of swimming), visiting my hometown of Truckee, California and getting to see the famous Squaw Valley where the 1960 Olympics took place and where the ice rink I used to skate on as a kid was, but is now gone, the house the grandkids mom lived in when she was born, dip their toes in the famous Donner Lake, go to the Donner State Park and visit the new museum and see the Donner Party Memorial, take a drive up old highway 40 to Donner Summit to the viewpoint and take in beautiful Donner Lake and really get a feel for what the Donner Party was trying to accomplish crossing those rugged, rocky mountains in wagon trains,  a day playing in the sand and swimming in beautiful Lake Tahoe. In addition, we visited Crater Lake……drove around the whole lake, which was so beautiful and interesting. We spent a few nights camping in various places and we were able to see and visit with an old co-worker in Klamath Falls. We went to Vacaville, California and stayed with another high school friend, went swimming and toured the Jelly Belly Factory and at the end of our tour, we ran into my brother and his girlfriend out of the blue.  We crossed over through Napa Valley (Wine Country) to the Redwoods and the ocean. What majestic trees the redwoods are and the preservation that has taken place to preserve these trees for us all to still enjoy. This trip was such a special, bonding, rewarding trip that will be with me always.