Updated on June 9, 1998.
Our day began with a frenzied organization of the trailer so we could close it up for travel. Gene Lavielle installed the ham radio in the electronics center as we stowed. Then Gene helped Sam reinstall the trailer hitch in the truck so we could hook-up.
Finally we were out of Gene and Carol's yard and on the road to San Ramon for Sam's last day at work. It was a rainy day, but we didn't much care. We were beginning a new phase of our lives. Gene followed us to SBE then went ahead to scout the parking lot. He determined there were no spaces long enough for us in front, so we parked in the back of the building.
The company put on quite a party for us at lunchtime. They played "Name That Tune" with a geographical theme, then sang "Happy Trails" to us. Robin Tate was a great emcee again and Jeph Larkin handled the music karaoke style.
After the great going away party, we invited everyone out to our rig and held an open house. Everyone came, even in the rain. Misty served as the hostess with the mostest, and everyone was enthralled with our palatial home. One by one, they each came by and we had our partings, handshakes and hugs.
Then, an hour and fifteen minutes late, we packed everything up, brought in the slide-outs, and headed south on I-680. Of course, it was a bit more emotional than that, but we were mostly numb; we had just left our family and close friends to start a whole new adventure and life.
As we drove away we went through a rain squall
down the road, and then the sun broke through. There was a bright
double rainbow to our left and as we were looking at it, we realized
it ended inside the truck. Our pot of gold?
The first leg of our journey was from San Ramon to Morgan Hill Thousand Trails Preserve (TTN), a distance of just over 60 miles. Of course, that was during Friday afternoon commute traffic through San Jose, but the traffic was not too bad.
The trip was mostly uneventful, and we pulled into the Morgan Hill TTN for a three night stay about 6pm. We found a good pull-through and set up camp. We took the opportunity on Saturday to go to the nearby San Martin Camping World and buy more stuff.
We did laundry while at Morgan Hill, and I
worked on the itinerary in the laundromat. It rained a little,
but we took that in stride.
We left Morgan Hill TTN Monday morning, caught US101 south and then turned east on CA152 in Gilroy. All of my pulling experience with the new rig had been on four lane divided highways and mostly on level ground, so the trip to and over Pacheco Pass provided some new experience. I found the trailer handled well on two lane roads, and it pulled well up the grade. My knuckles stayed white for the first hour or so.
We stopped in Los Banos at the Auto Mate factory. There was a list of items we hoped to have fixed, but they were pretty busy in the plant. While we were there the water pump quit working, so they replaced that unit as well as getting the paddle fan to work again. The other matters were mostly a matter of understanding how the rig worked, so it was a worthwhile trip.
Leaving Auto Mate we went by the AAA Truck Scales and weighed the rig. It showed that we still have a number of pounds to get rid of, but by throwing out the kitchen sink we were within striking distance. I am not going to tell you what the results were. ;-))
From Los Banos we drove on over to US99 and headed south to the Royal Oak Resort (our Coast to Coast home park) just east of Kingsburg. This is a nice resort on the banks of the Kings River. However, they seem at times to be not too interested in what goes on. The store was not open during the entire time we were there, and often there was no one in the entrance shack. Maybe the season had not started.
One of the most notable features of Royal Oaks is the cats that hang around the place. Misty was beside herself trying to figure out what to do about it.
We found two notable eating establishments
in Kingsburg. One was Bobby Salazar's and the other was a great
Italian restaurant on the main drag -- it is a drag that I cannot
remember its name and address. Anyway, Salazar's had great Cal-Mex
food, and the Fettucini Alfredo downtown was delightful.
It is about 20 miles from the Royal Oak Resort to Mother's home in Hanford. The morning after we arrived, we headed over to see her and Daisy, her live-in helper. The next few days we spent considerable time visiting with her, and when Rosemary and Everett Cheeney (sister and brother-in-law) returned from their trip, we spent time with them.
Easter Sunday occurred while on this stage of our trip. We had the chance to be with family for that occasion, probably the last chance until next fall.
We spent a total of eight days in the area.
Mom is failing rapidly and it was difficult leaving, knowing it
might be the last time we would see her. But she was happy having
been with us, and we promised to send tapes telling her of our
travels as we went across the country.
Leaving Kingsburg we headed south on US99, past Bakersfield to I-5 and up the Grapevine grade, and then we stopped at the Camping World on I-5. Going up the Grapevine was the first long pull up-hill for the rig, and it did well. After buying some more stuff, including a volt-a-check, we went on down I-5 until we turned east on I-14. It was after 3pm by this time, and it was evident the commute was underway. We just made it into Acton in time -- before the big rush.
We left I-14 and followed the directions to the Soledad Canyon TTN Preserve. There is a back entrance to part of the preserve that was confusing, but when we finally reached the entrance, we knew where to turn.
The Soledad Canyon TTN Preserve is now one of our favorite places. It is a beautiful park with lots of wide open spaces. Of course, we were there the middle of April, and I heard some stories about how the quality goes down when the crowds arrive later in the year.
I was able to get onto the Internet several times while at Soledad. They provide an RJ-11 jack in the Family Center Rec Room for internet users. There is a power plug on the wall below, but it is hard to see. I had to share the line with several other people, but everyone was considerate. Of course, all the calls were 800 number calls since there was no local Netcom POP. I was pleased with their trust in people not making long distance calls, but maybe they had a stop of some sort on the line.
We attended an Escapees social hour (4pm Wed)
while at Soledad. This is somewhat of a tradition: if there is
a SKP in an RV park on Wed afternoon at 4, they try to get together
all the SKPs for a chat. We met several nice couples, including
John and Marie Stewart. More about them later.
We pulled out of Soledad Canyon TTN early Sunday morning and headed for Victorville for the Spring 98 Escapade. The first thing we did was get lost and go to Palmdale instead of taking the turnoff we should have taken. Luckily for us, if you turn east after you get into Palmdale, it takes you right back to CA18, the road over to Victorville.
We arrived at Victorville along with another hundred rigs about 8:30am. I had a cop explain to me that Californians did not pull into intersections and block them when the light turned; maybe Texans did. I smiled. It was amazing how efficiently we were hustled to the proper part of the Fairgrounds and parked. By 9:30 we were meeting neighbors and were ready to roll. We also had started our first true experience with boondocking. We were never short of power or water, and luckily the temperature remained reasonable.
I am not going to describe here what all happened at the Escapade. When I get a chance, I will create a new page just for that. But if you get a chance, go to an Escapade. The people are great, the information is top-notch, and the camaradery is delightful. Most important, become a volunteer and help others enjoy the experience.
John and Marie Stewart were great finds at the Escapade. John convinced me I should go with a macerator for sewage disposal. Of course, that requires some special plumbing and it will take a while to get it all together -- key is to get it all together before trying it out. It is best not to have a learning experience when dumping.
John will be tutoring a session on computers in RVs at the next Spring Escapade in Chico. I plan to attend -- I suggest hearing what he has to say.
The Escapees office kindly set up a telephone link for getting onto the Internet. They charged $1 per call, and the time was limited, but it was worth it. At least I kept up on email.
By the end of the week, the wind had started
to blow a little. It got quite dusty, especially with 1300 rigs
and 2800 people milling about on dirt and sand parking lots.
After five days at Escapade we packed the rig, visited the hitch-up breakfast, and hit I-15 south on our way to Palm Desert. One of my concerns was the downgrade to San Bernadino, but everything went okay. I do know I need to get an exhaust brake installed on the truck.
We followed I-215 down to I-10 and turned east. Traffic was not too bad since we were a little behind the commute. Coming over the top of the pass we saw the acres and acres of windmills. The number makes Altamont Pass look piciune.
We arrived at the Palm Springs TTN Preserve about noon and quickly found a pull-through (not before a friendly neighbor told us that our first choice had water problems). This park is in the midst of a former fig orchard, so there are huge palm trees thoughout the park. At the end of April the grass still looks nice, but it is evident that the hot weather is about to take its toll on most of the vegetation.
When I tried to set up the DSS, I could not get a signal. I tried for several days, and then took the dish and LNB to Travel-SAT in Palm Desert to find out what was wrong. They took one look and almost fainted -- the dish was so bent from all its falls (including the one from the second story landing) that it had difficulties focusing. They had a deal for me: for $50 they sold me a new dish and a new dual LNB!! It now works fine, and I am more careful about keeping the dish from being blown over.
The Palm Springs TTN administrative office allows campers to use a fax line to connect to the Internet. You have to sign in, and it is available only during office hours, but it is quite comfortable and they are friendly folks.
We had the Dodge truck serviced while in Palm Desert. It took a while to find the right place -- look in Cathedral City. They did a good job for a very reasonable price. I also bought some touchup paint for the scratches that the parking lot crew has been putting on the truck.
Janet and Michael Leitman (sister and brother-in-law) live in Palm Desert, so we had a good chance to visit with them. Janet was working on a piece of fiction, but Michael took us to the Dragon Gate Restaurnat for Chinese food. Later in week, Michael and Janet took us to the Tanpopo Japanese Country Inn for sushi. It did not compare to Sakura in San Ramon, but it was good, especially considering it is probably the last chance for sushi or sashimi until we return to the west coast.
Leaving Alice in Palm Desert on Wednesday,
I flew back to SBE in San Ramon to interview a VP candidate and
to take part in a Strategy Meeting. I flew out of Palm Springs
in a puddle jumper to LAX. I was expecting to return that evening,
but my schedule was rearranged. I had to buy clothes to stay the
extra day. But it was worth the trip -- we made good progress
on defining a product direction for the future. In addition, Bob
Hoffmann, Lee Techeira, and Gary Hasenfus succeeded in diagnosing
why I was having trouble logging into SBE and fixed the problem.