Updated on December 30, 1998.
We sat in the Cal Expo RV park in Sacramento and watched the weather channel very carefully at the end of the week to determine just when to head for Morgan Hill. There was some windy, rainy weather coming in, and it looked bad on the big map.
Our neighbor was planning on heading to Eugene OR, and I told him of the expected snow up that way. He still planned to head out.
On Saturday, it began to look like the weather on Monday would be worse than on Sunday, so we decided to move sooner than later. Sunday morning we awoke to spitting rain, but it was not yet bad. We quickly rigged for travel and did a final dump. There were wind warnings posted for I-5, especially to the north, and heading south we encountered some pretty stiff winds. I really felt sorry for our former neighbor. When we finally reached San Jose the weather tempered somewhat, so by the time we arrived at the campground it was fairly decent and not a bother to set up.
As predicted Monday turned out to be really rotten weather. Again the satellite TV and weather channel had done us a great service.
The visit at Morgan Hill TTN was primarily one of finishing the consulting I was doing for my former company. We went to San Ramon on Tuesday, and again on Wednesday. Wednesday night we met with the Diablo Caravaners RV Club for the monthly dinner.
We had a bit of a problem with mail. Alice had understood from Escapees that we could ask for mail delivery by email, and had sent our request to them via email for delivery in Sacramento. When we had to leave it had not yet arrived, we asked the Post Office to forward it to Morgan Hill. But it never arrived in Morgan Hill. Finally Alice called Escapees and found out that it had never been sent! We reordered delivery and finally received it the next week. It drove home the point to always double check on matters of importance.
We did a bit of Christmas shopping in Gilroy at the Factory Outlet Stores and Walmart. It sure was different than Christmas shopping in a big mall. Alice also worked on the Christmas letter. I worked at finishing my report.
Thursday morning we rigged up for the drive to the Sacramento Delta to our next stop near Isleton. We chose to go by way of I-5 rather than going through the I-680 corridor. It was a lot less stressful that way.
As we turned off I-5 onto CA12 and headed west, we started passing the flat fields of the delta, some filled with water for the migrating birds. After crossing the second draw bridge, we turned off onto Brannan Island Road. It was a levee road, and there was little room on it for anything other than our trailer. Luckily, it was only a couple of miles to the RV park and we met no cars.
The river was within six feet of the top of the levee, and when we reached the park, we had to drive down the other side of the levee (at a considerable slope to the right) to the office. The park was about 20 feet below water level. Alice kept worrying about it.
The Lighthouse Marina RV Park is a nice, neat park, and we had full hookups on a grassy plot. It is obviously aimed at the boater in the summer, but there were ten to fifteen rigs there most of the time. Since we were into the rainy season, there was a little mud on the sides of the gravel roads, but it was not a significant problem.
I asked about modem hookups; there are none, and they do not want to share their phone.
On the other side of the levee was the Mokolumne River. There was a boat launch and restaurant. We did not try either, but we had a good time walking around.
One of the more interesting sights was a house on the dry side of the levee from the river. It leaned conspicuously away from the river. I don't think it fell off the levee; I believe it was built that way
We played musical chairs with our opthamologist in San Ramon during the week. He had to cancel our appointments twice for conflicts. Finally we made it in and found our eyesight was about what we thought, getting worse as we got older.
We made some new friends at Lighthouse Marina: Roger and Mary Carson from Klamath Falls, OR. They are contractors and travel about the west coast states doing specialized work. They were a lot of fun, and we received an invitation to visit their place in Oregon, provided we can find them at home.
Wednesday morning we rigged again for travel, dumped the tanks, and headed the 32 miles across the Sacramento River to Bethel Island. The Sugar Barge RV Park is a beautifully manicured park, and we quickly found a place to set up in the area where the Diablo Caravaners would be gathering. The weather was marvelous, and that evening, the sunset over Mount Diablo was spectacular.
On Thursday we drove back to San Ramon for some final eye exams. We visited our friends again and told them a final goodbye for the next four months. We also had a chance to have a lunch at one of our favorites in San Ramon, Ruggies Restaurant. They still remembered us.
Back at Sugar Barge, we found that a couple of the Diablo Caravaners club members had already arrived, so the visiting started. When the other members of the club arrived the next day, the campground quickly filled. There was a good turnout for this meeting, probably because we were only a few miles away from where a lot of them lived. There are now four Automate trailers in the club, so there was a lot of comparing to see how things were going. That evening we went to dinner at the Rusty Porthole which I would rate as mediocre.
The next morning was the traditional club breakfast, featuring Vern directing the cooking of several pounds of bacon, plus some eggs, french toast, and pancakes. Full of coffee and food, we all separated for a couple of hours to recover for the afternoon festivities.
One of the traditions of the club is for the owner of a new rig to buy champagne for everyone. Since Carl and Joyce had just purchased a used Prowler fifth-wheel rig, they provided the festivities for Saturday afternoon. Amongst the goodies was some red caviar on cream cheese. It fit the season, at least in color.
Saturday night we all met in the clubhouse for happy hour and dinner. Gene had just returned from a business trip to the far East (Taiwan, Hong Kong, New Delhi, Perth, and Sydney) so he was showing off his new digital camera and some of the sights he had seen. His biggest problem on the trip was that he did not like fish, and that is the only thing he had to eat much of the time. He made a good example to all in the club of the need to have a laptop computer on the road.
We had a great meal at the clubhouse, catered by the Sugar Barge Restaurant. It was excellent. We exchanged gifts and had a great time seeing what everyone received. Gene got a large stuffed bear, which seems to fit his personality. Alice and I both ate too much, and we headed off to bed hoping to recover.
By Sunday morning the weather had really turned cold. A group of us headed over to Sugar Barge Restaurant for breakfast, and we sat around coffee for a couple of hours. You might get the idea that a club outing is all a matter of eating -- you would be close to right.
Then it was back to the rigs, and people started heading out. With the cold weather coming along, Alice and I filled our water tank so we could avoid using our water hose. We dumped the tanks, stowed everything, and headed south for Santa Nella on I-5 and our visit to the Automate factory.
As we were leaving, we were given directions by Kenny on how to avoid driving back through Stockton. Of course, we did not bother setting up the Co-Pilot GPS, so when we got lost we finally had to stop somewhere in the middle of Tracy and get it out of the trailer to find out where we had gone. It really helped to find there was a quick way to get back to I-5 from where we were.
When we arrived at the RV park at the Santa Nella stop on I-5, the weather had turned very cold. We were put into a spot where we did not have to unhook, so setting up was fairly easy. Then we turned on the TV and checked the weather. We found the temperature was headed for the 20s, which is really cold for the San Jaquin valley in California. I was pleased I did not have to put out the water hose.
The next morning we were up at 6am to have breakfast and drive the 10 miles over the the Automate factory where we were to have some warranty work done on the trailer. Ray, the fellow in charge, was somewhat taken aback by the long list we presented to him because he had scheduled us for only one day of work, but he tackled it. By 3 that afternoon he had everything fixed. It was a good job.
While waiting for the trailer work to be completed, we went by Walmart and did some more Christmas shopping, then to lunch at Espanas in Los Banos. I highly recommend that restaurant. It is at the east side of town on CA-152 (Pacheco Blvd).
While at Automate, I talked with Bill Wyrick, the President, about the problems we had had with the brake wires in South Dakota. He says he will be looking into it closely.
By 3:30 in the afternoon we headed for Hanford and arrived early evening. We called ahead to be sure there was room at the Four Seasons Mobile Home Park. That is located about two miles from the home of my sister.
The weather continued to get colder, and again I did not connect to external water. The first night, one of the hot water heaters froze up just a bit -- luckily not enough to break anything. Then when we went outside it was like a wonderland. Everything was covered with ice crystals; there had been no wind, and the temperature had gone down to the low 20s. Crystals up to half an inch long were all over everything. We put a coat on the dog and grabbed the camera and walked around the mobile home park taking pictures.
There was a rose bush that had been blooming late in the year, and the buds were covered in frost. When we went back a few days later, they had turned a sullen yellow from the freeze, but for a brief time they were spectacular.
The weather continued cold the rest of the week. We spent a lot of time at the home of my sister and her husband, Rosemary and Everett. My other sister Janet came up from Palm Desert along with husband and daughter Michael and Sasha. Our daughter came down on Christmas Eve. We had a great time, but all felt a little lonesome for our parents who had passed away earlier in the year. We passed out presents Christmas morning, and Rosemary's grandchildren were the center of attention. Of course, we all ate too much, but with good New Year's resolutions, we will all lose that extra weight in 1999.
By Sunday, Alice and I were a bit tired of the cold and sometimes foggy weather, and we were happy to start preparing to head further south. We had made arrangements to meet Rosemary and Everett in Las Vegas in February, and we would be near Janet and Michael in the coming weeks.
We left Hanford at 8:30 Monday morning. Co-Pilot said we had 319 miles to go to reach the Palm Springs TTN Park (actually in Palm Desert). The drive over to and down US99 was smooth and uneventful. The atmosphere was very hazy. As we headed east from Bakersfield on CA58 and started climbing towards Tehachapi pass, we climbed above the fog and haze, and the sky was blue and the mountains were clear. It also started warming, so by the time we were at the top, the temperature had gone from the low 30s to the middle 50s.
Coming down to Mojave, we had a choice of continuing east on CA58 to Kramer's junction and US395 or going down CA14 (a four-lane highway) to Palmdale. I chose the latter, and then when we turned east on CA138 I found why I had made a mistake; the next 15 miles were mostly through towns with lots of stop lights. Next time I will go to Kramer's junction and catch US395 south.
We finally reached I-15 and started down the grade to I-215. It was smooth sailing, and we took the CA30 cutoff to miss the heart of San Bernadino. The temperature was steadily climbing, and by the time we were on I-10 it was into the 70s. What a change from Hanford!
We arrived at the Palm Springs TTN in good time and quickly found a nice spot. The RV Park is nestled in a grove of date palms with a clean sandy soil and some grass. The palm-dates are a problem this time of year because they fall to the ground and are worse than dog poop if you get them on your shoes.
We found the weather to be delightful, with a little breeze and temperatures in the high 60s. It dropped down to the mid-40s the middle of the night. My sister says the problem with this area is that it is so seductive, you sometimes forget to leave soon enough in the spring when it starts to warm up.
Our larder had gone dry what with eating family food, so we had to go to the grocery store and stock up. The price of vegetables in Palm Desert was quite high, but I think this was due to the recent freezes here in California. At least we were back to home cooking where we could control some of the calories.
We had a site visitor during the third day, a road-runner. He just checked us out and headed on his way. I heard later that if you feed them raw hamburger, they come around to check out your rig every couple of hours. We also saw an owl nesting in the top of a palm.
We started walking again, and all three of us need some conditioning.
During the last days of the year, we caught up on the lists of things to get done, preparing for the coming of the new year. We visited with Janet and Michael to welcome the new year and lasted until 11pm. Then as we drifted off to sleep for the end of 1998, someone's loud speaker started playing Auld Lang Syne for the whole campground. It was actually nice to hear.
This log is continued in the January page. In the meantime, I wish everyone a prosperous and happy new year. I also hope that your life may be as interesting as ours (an old Chinese curse).