Showing posts from October, 2011

Oct 31 - High Hike on Halloween

This morning, Monday, we headed back into Yosemite to explore a corner of the Park we hadn't yet seen. Our objective was Glacier Point, an overview on a rocky outcropping at the top of the south canyon wall, high above Yosemite Village. Our visit to the village the other day had us down at the bottom of the canyon all day while Glacier Point is at the top. The weather was fantastic and air was clear. Yosemite is about 40 miles by 45 miles, and most of the roads are curvy and slow going. With stopping at turnouts for scenic overviews most casual explorers can't do much more than 20 miles in an hour. Except for some California drivers who seem to be late for work or have vehicles with accelerator pedals that seem to be stuck full-open, it takes time to get from one point in the park to another... but it's time well spent considering the terrific scenery. By the clock we spent two hours getting to Glacier Point. By the heart and mind, it was but a flash. "No... are we

Oct 30 - Weekend Update

This past Friday we got word that our number had come up and we'd snagged a real camp site here at Park Sierra. I'm talking a genuine, bonafide, double rectified, full hookup, level site with landscaping, privacy, friendly neighbors, and views of the surrounding valley. How does life get any better than this? So we moved from our not-so-bad boondocking site, plugged in to ample 50amp power, and quickly settled in to the new surroundings. We've met our neighbors and figured out where our other buddies (Jimmy and Julianne; Fred and Lynne) are now residing relative to us in this crazy maze of twisted and interwoven roads, campsites, hills, and dales. It's a wonder to me how quickly a new place can become home. During the past few days we not only didn't go into Yosemite (to avoid crowds), we never once even started the Toad... not even to run into town for bread or milk or gas or anything. I did get a workout riding the park's roads with my bike... can't re

Oct 27 - Yosemite National Park (day 1)

Our first night in SKP Park Sierra's boondock area must have been good as I don't remember a thing. Total darkness and no neighbors (=no noise), combined with the tension-release after the high pressure drive of the day before, came together to produce one of the best sleep-nights in many days. For me it was close to 10 hours of shut-eye. The rest of Wednesday we puttered around camp; I wrote some journal updates; Dar worked on photos. We ran into Oakhurst, a few miles north of here, to pick up some info for our Yosemite visits. We explored Park Sierra... enjoyed happy hour with friends. This morning, Thursday, Julianne, Jimmy, Dar, and I piled into the Focus "exploration-mobile" and we were off on our first visit to Yosemite National Park. The focus of today's trip was Yosemite Valley. I don't think it'd be interesting to give a blow-by-blow description of our day, and I think my inadequate descriptions would fail to inspire. So here are some random

Journal Updates

Things have been happening faster than I can write. So this morning I pumped out four updates that covered the past few days. If you're interested, you may have to hunt backwards to catch them all. Thanks for checking in with us.

Oct 25 - Yosemite Here We Come

186 miles - I-5 to US-99 to CA-41 to Coarsegold, CA We've never been to Yosemite National Park, and, as of this writing, we still haven't. But we're a lot closer. Our objective for today was a safe move from Sacramento to the SKP park, Park Sierra, near Coarsegold, CA... just a few miles south of Yosemite. The roads were all busy, all the time, everywhere. Why does everyone here drive with the accelerator floored? Over the next few days we hope to make a few incursions into the National Park... and we're really looking forward to it. The weather has been simply great since we arrived in California. No rain, few clouds, lots of sun. Generally, here at Coarsegold, we're expecting highs in the lower 70's and lows in the lower 50s. For the next 7 days I don't see much change. With weather like this the members of the SKP park are staying put... and that means transients like us have to spend some time waiting for a full hookup site. Yes, we're in "

Oct 24 - California State Capitol

Got started this morning at 9:00am. The general plan was to drive out to Woodland CA. the most distant point of our explorations today and finish with the State Capitol, the nearest point to camp. For some time now, we've been toying with the idea of replacing the Toad (our Ford Focus) with a small pickup and small pop-up truck camper that would give us the capability to explore multiple days away from the bus-house, camp in more remote locations, and be more free and flexible. It's really a hybrid concept to use the bus-house as a mobile base camp and use the mini-camper for multiple day explorations. If we needed to, we could pop the top and camp anywhere away from the bus-house and not have to be concerned about time or the drive back to base camp each night. As I said, we've been thinking about it. One of the requirements, as far as I'm concerned, for this to work is that we'd have a small truck (like a Toyota Tacoma) with a small, lightweight camper. It jus

Oct 23 - Downhill to Sacramento

210 miles - CA-44 to I-5 to Sacramento Leaving our beloved Lassen National Park behind, we drove through the northwest entrance, turned left on CA-44, and headed toward Redding and I-5, about 45 miles down the road. And I do mean "down" the road, as we descended from the 5900 foot elevation of our camp at Lassen to Reddings elevation of a mere 500 feet... a drop of over a full mile. I didn't do the math but I'll bet we got great fuel mileage for those 45 miles. The amount of traffic on I-5 is amazing... even on a Sunday morning. I know, I know... it's the main north-south road, and all that... but there are just too many people here for what this boy from Wisconsin could possibly consider a high quality life. Just my opinion. In the past I was in favor of some kind of forced relocation program. But I'm now of the opinion that it's better to keep as many of these people right here, piled on top of one another... and away from the few remaining remote

Oct 22 - Simple Walk around a Small Lake

Can you think of anywhere you'd rather be? More photos from our day near Manzanita Lake in Lassen National Park can be found [here] .

Oct 21 - A Two Dip Cone

First, the weather. Got down to 31 degrees early this morning and we were huddled under piles of blankets as even inside the bus-house we saw low 50's. I won the toss and got up to throw a log in the furnace, get coffee started, and start the genny. Still expecting mostly clear weather, lots of sun, and seasonably warm temps for the next few days. Our house batteries are really in bad shape -- almost 5 years old and abused by us newbies before we knew what we were doing.. If we can make it to Rockport I'll replace them myself. IF not, or if I run into a great deal somewhere, we'll have it done along the way. Probably Rockport though. After things warmed up a bit we started moving and getting ready for today's adventure... the hike to, and climb of, Cinder Cone. This is a volcanic feature that erupted in the middle 1600s spraying the area with an immense quantity of ash and cinders from deep in the earths mantle, and pushing out square miles of a thick viscous lave f

Oct 20 - Wrong Restroom

Needing a few supplies and an internet fix, we drove over to the nearby town of Shingletown today, a mere 17 miles to the west. First stop was the library where I used their wifi i-connection to post an update or two on the blog, download email, send a few emails, and browse some used books (Dar).  Then, over to the cafe across the street for a late lunch/early dinner... some refer to it as "lunner". The cafe is run by a Mexican couple and it was fun trying to understand them and absorb the chaotic small town nature of things as the two of them were rushing around trying to hurriedly get a delivery order ready and out the door. We showed up just after their noon "crowd" and were the only customers at that point. I asked to use the restroom and it turned into a major project. First off, we noticed a few signs as we entered that warned "Restrooms Only for Use by Customers". Well, I was a customer so I got the run-down... "Here, use these keys, g

Disconnected In Lassen

We're still in Lassen National Park and will probably be here until Sunday. We're at Manzanita Lake Campground, about the only one open this time of year, just down the road from the northwest entrance to the Park. We have no cell phone and thus no internet connectivity at all at our campsite. We're drycamping (no hookups). With temps sinking to the low 30's by morning, we've been using the propane furnace and running the generator to make coffee and charge the house batteries. And we're surviving just fine. We really enjoy camping like this... even if it is a bit cold and challenging in the mornings. I was hoping I could drive over to a visitor center and hook onto the internet. But the National Park Service hasn't quite found the motivation or the money to create a wifi hotspot at their visitor centers yet. And maybe their right. Maybe it's good to be disconnected once in a while... to concentrate on what the Park has to offer... to get out and mov

Oct 19 - Survey Course of Lassen NP

We just got back from exploring Lassen Park -- really an overview (or survey course) built around the main Hwy 89 Park road from the Northwest entrance to the Southwest entrance, where the main visitor center is located. It took us the better part of the day to do the 29 miles down and the same 29 miles back to our camp... stopping and exploring wherever we saw something of interest. Had a bright clear day, temps in the 60's... but you gotta remember, we are at some serious elevation here. Our camp is at 5900 ft., and the summit on the drive today is 8511. Highlights of the day: learning about the geology of this place... it's reason for existing as a National Park in the first place. Here, there exists in one place a collection of all four of the different types of volcanoes as classified by geologists and vulcanologists. It's a very active geothermal spot on the planet Earth. The last significant eruption occurred in 1915 on Mt. Lassen. But there are historic remnants

Oct 18 - Mt. Shasta to Lassen NP

101 miles; CA-89 to Lassen Volcanic National Park Another great traveling day for our intrepid explorers. The weather has been cooperating and looks like it'll continue to do so for the rest of the week. Warm sunny days and crisp cold mornings. With only a hundred miles on the docket for today we felt no urgency or rush to get anywhere. CA-89 is a good two lane road with abundant truck traffic as it's a shortcut between I-5 and Reno. Much of the route is through forest -- tall pines and scrub oak providing cover for deer and cattle, both of which we saw grazing right next to the road. Bright sunlit fall colors contrasting with the dark green of the pines added a sense of season that felt comforting. Dar found that we'd be passing by Burney Falls State Park on the drive today. We're usually careful about stops like this when we're moving with the bus-house unless we know ahead of time that the park roads and parking lots are set up for big rigs. We had no id

Oct 17 - On the Slopes of Mt. Shasta

204 miles; I-5 to Mt. Shasta, CA. With all the paperwork cleared up, moving prep done, and toad hooked on, we were on the road by 10:30 this morning. Our 200 mile drive started with low clouds (high fog?) obscuring hilltops and ridges, but the sun started breaking things up well before noon and we had full sun the rest of the day. We're at a rustic campground/"resort" on the shores of Lake Siskiyou just outside the little town of Mt. Shasta -- which is right on the flanks of the mountain by the same name. Both of us have a similar reaction to anything labeled "resort" ($pendy and touri$ty) but we thought we'd give it a go anyway considering it's perfect location right at the 200 mile point of our drive. We're thinking of this as an overnight stop but may decide to add on a day if the coin flips the right way in the morning. We'll see how that goes. The campground is Lake Siskiyou Resort and Campground. Only a handful of campers are here a

Oct 15 - North Umpqua Wild and Scenic River Corridor

The Umpqua River is one of the principle rivers of Oregon, draining a large area of southern Oregon and dumping into the Pacific Ocean at Reedsport. Today we explored a portion of the North Umpqua Wild and Scenic River Corridor from near Roseburg and stretching eastward about 40 miles. State Highway 138, the main highway between Roseburg and the north entrance to Crater Lake National Park, follows the North Umpqua through this area. We did three different hikes today, the first to Deadline Falls, the second to Susan Creek Falls, and the third to Fall Creek Falls. Flashes of sunlight between clouds combined with the dark dense forest (and a bit of exertion thrown in) had us shedding layers to cool off... then adding layers to warm up... then shedding again, etc. all afternoon. Overall though, the day was perfect for short hikes like these. The hike back to Fall Creek Falls was an ascending mile that took us through a narrow slit in a basalt rock wall, (we jokingly referred to a

Oct 13 -- An SKP Wildlife Sanctuary

Sutherlin, OR Today, I'm happy to report, we slept in... and then took it real easy the rest of the day. One of those days of solitude with no schedule, no appointments, no responsibilities, no worries. We did take an extensive walk around the park, walking almost every street and checking out every corner, in order to determine whether or not we're going to put our name on the list for a membership and a lot. No decision will be made for a while as there's more investigation to be done. There's no shortage of wildlife around here though. Browsing deer (hanging around apple trees for the low hangers and falls), huge jack rabbits (that look like they'd eat the tires off your car overnight), quail of some kind, turkeys, and, we've been told by a reliable local source, an occasional mountain lion is spotted. Hmmm... maybe that's why there are fewer little dogs around than we see in most SKP parks. And I forgot to mention yesterday that our new windshield

Oct 12 -- Back on the Road

187 miles; I-205 to I-5 South; Sutherlin, OR It was an uneventful, if not a little sad, departure from the Portland area and our Northwest family. Mostly cloudy skies but no rain so the toad was spared an additional coating of road grime. I'm always amazed at the amount of traffic on I-5, but come around once someone (Dar) explains again that this is the main artery between the congested la-la land to the south and the big cities of the Northwest. There's really no alternative for commercial traffic and folks trying to move quickly from point A to point B. We've snagged a site at SKP Timber Valley until Sunday and plan to spend our time getting back into explorer-mode. Some procrastinated chores need to be done, some QT (solitude) for pondering the future, and a new route planned for the next leg of the journey. Best memories from the day: Dealing with the mixed emotions of leaving family behind and the excitement of being back on the road; listening to the drone of


As we prepare for our departure from the Portland area, it occurred to me that leaving family, grand-kids, good friends could be compared to separating two pieces of Velcro:  a distressed ripping sensation of two joined pieces that, the first time you do it, you swear couldn't possibly be re-joined in the same way again. But in the same way we were amazed by our first experience with Velcro, their "hooks" and our "loops" will mate up again in a few short months.

It's a Love/Hate Thing

NewsFlash:  Apple introduces the latest version of the IPhone today When it comes to love/hate relationships, for me, the best examples are in the realm of the devices that connect me to the internet. On the one hand, they are so damned amazing (how old is Vanna White?... less than a minute later I know she's 54 (Yes... 54!), her father was Puerto Rican, she grew up near Myrtle Beach, NC... all with the simple press of a few keys on my laptop while we're eating dinner and waiting for the 6pm news).  But on the other hand, we consumers have to suffer through this period of discovery and "shake-out"... while manufacturers and the market try new things, new form factors, new technologies... some of which just aren't ready for prime time.  We're all trying to figure out what works best and what will someday become the norm. Why do I have to wait 2 full stinkin' minutes for my laptop to boot up? What's with