Saturday, April 30, 2016

April Wrap Up -- Day 185

So here we are on the doorstep of another chapter of our adventure. We're making the transition from constantly moving, to being mostly stationary for the next five months.

And it's nerve wracking.

Before I get into the new adventure, let me first wrap up April.

Viking RV Park in Kingsburg was a welcome oasis of green after so much southern California desert. It's a tiny little park, filled with mostly permanent residents. I don't think we would have found the place, had it not been for Passport America (did I mention the awesome 50% discount? Because if you don't have PA, and you're in a motorhome, you're doing it wrong.) The funny thing about PA parks is that some of them seem to have doubled their rates to account for the discount, but the discounted rates fit our budget and are generally acceptable. This place was very no-frills, and even had pay showers (!) but being surrounded by old green trees put a smile on Anya's face, and that is priceless, my friends.

After Kingsburg, we had some bigger city needs, so we stopped in Fresno. The turtles, Luke and Leia, needed some companionship and exercise, so we picked up minnows and ghost shrimp. We added 20 new creatures to the turtlearium (that's the scientific word for their habitat. Don't bother looking it up, it's way too technical to be on the internet.) Out of the 20, almost half were consumed in the first day, because Nature is a violent place sometimes. Fresno is a rough town, if you're a ghost shrimp.

One of the things that you have to do from time to time is splurge to maintain sanity. I was craving Snuffer's (famous Dallas burger joint) and thought that Fresno might be able to offer something of a local equivalent. There was a Farmerboys® in the parking lot of the PetSmart in Clovis, and Yelp said that it was good. And while it was good, it was no Snuffer's.

The next day we drove to Arena RV Park in Chowchilla, because I really dug the name of the town. It was a quaint little place, and the site we were in was super narrow, I couldn't even get Fezzik's whole body in the lines. But they had wifi, and nice bathrooms, so it was worth the overnight.

This is from Fahrens Park in Merced

While I love to disc golf, the parks are not often designed to accommodate a vehicle as impressive in stature as our dear Fezzik. The fair citizens of Merced, being no different, had a very cool natural boulder barrier to set off the parking lot from the disc golf course. I noticed that there was plenty of room when we arrived, and didn't think that lots of people would be coming out to disc golf in the middle of the day on a Wednesday. When am I going to learn that disc golfers don't adhere to a typical 9 to 5 schedule? Trying to leave the full lot was not fun, and I wish I could say that I pulled it off without incident. Sadly, Fezzik now has a not-so-straight bumper and the roof access ladder is a little broken.

Undeterred, we ventured forth to Fisherman's Bend in Newman, CA. If you ever want to be off the beaten path, this is the place to go. It was a little run down (Anya didn't feel safe leaving the rig) and it totally seemed like the perfect place for a meth lab, so if you're looking for secluded and out of the way living with chickens and goats, I have found the place for you! I didn't take any pictures (for fear that at some point my phone may get taken into evidence), but trust me when I say the place was really green.

Ready to return to civilization, we hit up the Flag City RV park in Lodi. The sad thing about civilization is that it often resembles a parking lot. This place had ALL the amenities: nice bathrooms, laundry, swimming pool, clubhouse, flat paved sites with full hookups. But it was ugly, and the pool was freezing! Also, even with the Passport America discount, it was really expensive.

Would you like to know the remedy for a parking lot camping experience? Disc golf. For us, it was the beautiful and grueling Taylor Mountain course in Santa Rosa. 

"Before disc golfing, we spent the night at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. After getting our butts kicked by the Mountain, we headed off to Alexander Valley," Anya reminded me. It was a really physical course, with lots of elevation changes, and some spectacular vistas.

Alexander Valley RV park was right on the banks of the Russian River.

For me, being in the Alexander Valley was a dream come true. Back when I was first learning to appreciate wine, Alexander Valley Vineyards was my first favorite Cabernet. After three glorious days, we drove up to Ukiah to the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds. 

This picture just doesn't do it justice

The energy up in Northern California is so awesome. It just really feels like we belong here. While I do miss the ocean, I am loving being up in the mountains amongst the trees.

Our final week of this stage of the journey was spent at the quaint little Sleepy Hollow RV park in Willits. It is a very cool, if tiny, place with not much by way of amenities. We also got to spend time with some of our new best RV friends that we had met back in December in south Texas. It's one thing to make friends when you stay in one place. It's a bit of a different experience making friends on the road because you never know when your paths will cross again. It was really great to get to spend time with friends that we met 4 months and 2000 miles ago. 

 Some of the local residents came to see us off

And now we're here at the Redwoods River Resort, just off Hwy 101 between Leggett and Piercy, CA. New jobs, new friends, and a new way of life.

Tomorrow starts the new adventure.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Desert is scary and Water is wet -- Day 165

We made it to California! After blazing through Arizona and New Mexico in two weeks, we now have a month to make our way up to Northern California where we'll be spending the summer. This period of constant, rapid change is going to be put on hold for a while, and a new chapter of the adventure will begin.

Our first stop in California was in Needles, just over the border. We wanted a couple of days to charge up our spirits before braving the Mojave, having seen way too many Bugs Bunny cartoons as children. Anya is descended from forest dwellers, and I am of tropical stock -- so the desert is a scary place. We stayed three days at Fender's River Road Resort, right on the Colorado river in Needles. It was the perfect, peaceful respite before undertaking the Fury Road across Tatooine.

"You could not step twice into the same river" ~ Heraclitus

Being so close to the Colorado, I had to go down to it. It was really interesting to me to go down and touch the water. Imagining that this is the same river that had come from the Grand Canyon, and would eventually make its way to the Pacific. Some of it will evaporate and become the rain that feeds the crops that will eventually make their way to my plate. It's weird to think of the interconnectedness of it all. So I had to touch it. It was wet.

Maybe some of the water that I touched will make its way to you. I hope that when it finds you that it's particularly edifying. We are all in this thing together, you know?

I have made a lot of friends on the internet, recently. It it a reminder to me that I am not a rolling island on the highway, but there are real people out there whose lives are affected by my actions. And in turn, they are affecting me. It has been said, "Your vibe will attract your tribe." I think that I have found some of mine, and it feels pretty good.

Refreshed and recharged, we were ready to tackle the desert. Fingers, still wet from the Colorado, firmly grasped the steering wheel. "Let's do this!"

And then it was really uneventful. The desert is not nearly as bleak as we had thought, there were plenty of opportunities to stop for supplies (not that we needed it, since we were prepared to be stranded for a week, you know, just in case.) There was a lot of traffic, and it didn't really even get very hot. I'm sure it was the blessing of the Colorado River that moistened our way.

Our first stop, on the western edge of the desert, was in Newberry Springs. I'm not going to link to the place, because it was honestly one of the worst places that we've ever spent the night. (And that list includes Walmart parking lots.) To add insult to injury, it was also one of the most expensive places that we've ever stayed, so my advice to all travelers crossing the Mojave would be to get as far past the desert as you can, because they know you're coming. Everything near the desert is more expensive, since they are preying on your fears. It definitely worked on us.

Today is also "National Sibling Day" and my brother coincidentally called me. It was pretty cool, since he had no idea. He just hadn't talked to me in a while, and we got to catch up. He had big news: he is getting married, again. I'm super happy for him, because he seems really happy. Lots of things have changed for both of us through the years, so this is an exciting direction in which to see his life go. It seems like the changes in my life have accelerated over the last few years, and moreso over the last few months. But getting a call from my Big Bro reminds me that even though everything is in a constant state of change, there are some things that still remain true.

Water is still wet.