12-26-2016 Traveling South

Current Location: Lodi, California at 30 degrees F with clear skies

This trip has been in the making for almost a year.  While we watched the Rose Parade in 2016, I remembered the fragrance of the flowers from all the years that I attended that parade growing up in Southern California.  I once again said to Mo, “We have to get back to the Rose Parade someday”.  I have no idea how Adventure Caravans showed up in that picture, but on January 1 2016, we booked our very first formal “Rally”. 

I thought that we could “do” Christmas with the family before we left, but as is often the case when traveling south in winter, weather stepped in and changed those plans.  The MoHo is stored safely at the Cottage in Grants Pass, protected from Klamath Basin snows and extreme cold.  Instead of three passes to get over to go south, she only has to manage two.  Mo and I, however, still have to get over the High Lakes Pass.  It isn’t a problem most of the time, especially since the vehicle that makes the trip back and forth to Grants Pass is our trusty little Dakota. 

This year, however, a “big” storm was predicted for the day we planned to travel, with an even bigger storm coming over the Siskiyous and Mt Shasta.  Our plan to head south on Monday the 26th began to look like a real fiasco.  Instead, we decided to skip the Christmas festivities and use the tiny little window of clear weather and open passes to get to California. 

After a sweet early Christmas Eve Eve celebration with Melody’s family at the apartments, we loaded up the truck and managed to get over the snowy High Lakes Pass without a hitch.  Whew!  With an extra day to prepare the rig for traveling, Christmas Eve was enjoyed with a nice long visit with Daughter Deborah and Grandson Matthew.  So instead of the big family celebration with food and photos, we had special times with each family before beginning our southern adventure.

I love being in Grants Pass in the winter.  It can get frosty and foggy, but when that clears and the sun shines, it is pure gold, and the grass is gorgeous and velvet brilliant green.  That same grass goes dormant in the hot summers, but oh what a treat on a cold winter day to see green grass all around.  Nice too that it is cool enough that it doesn’t grow fast enough to need mowing. 

We woke on Christmas Day to cloudy weather and a gentle sunrise and temperatures above freezing.  What a delight!  Even more delightful, as we merged onto the Interstate from the Rogue River Highway, there wasn’t a car in sight!  I have never in all the years I have traveled this road seen it as empty and quiet as it was at 8am on Christmas morning.

South of Ashland, the Siskiyou Summit is the first hurdle encountered on the route south.  It is long and steep, and can be a tough pass, with chains often required during the winter. 

We sailed over the Siskiyou’s, with roads clear and almost completely dry except for a very few bits of ice at the top.  Down the southern slope are some steep grades toward Yreka, and then the valley opens up to views of Mt Shasta to the southeast.  Clouds obscured the mountain a bit, but she loomed white and brilliant over the landscape in the morning light.

The pass over Mt Shasta isn’t as dramatic as the Siskyou Pass, but it was colder and more icy between Weed and Dunsmuir.  That part of the highway can be treacherous, with lots of semis negotiating the curvy interstate and weather often choosing to slam into that southfacing slope with a vengeance.  Once again, we sailed past Shasta and Dunsmuir without a hitch, across the gorgeous new bridge that has been years in the building over an arm of Shasta Lake and then into Redding.  We both agreed it was the easiest most traffic free I-5 trip we have ever managed in all our years of driving south on this route.

With the plans moved up a couple of days, we then had to decide just where we would spend the extra night. Our first stop on this route almost always seems to be the Flag City RV Resort in Lodi.  It is quick and easy, a Passport America Park, with level pads and no reservations needed.  However we decided that we weren’t up for wine tasting in Lodi and wanted to continue south today after a single night here.

Originally I thought we could boondock at the Flying J on the north side of the Grapevine before heading into Los Angeles early Wednesday morning.  I looked for something along the southern route that might be worth spending an extra night, and found nothing we wanted to do.  Instead, we decided to go a bit off track toward the east to our favorite stop over on the way to the desert, Orange Grove RV Park.  Mo laughed and said, “You just want to go there to get oranges!”.  She was partially right, but it really was the best choice, both for comfort and price and an open sky to fiddle with our satellite on the extra day we will spend there. Now the plan is to spend the next two nights there, and leave early on Wednesday morning to return to I-5 and the Grapevine, south toward the 210.  Somewhere along the way that morning, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see our buddies, Jimmy and Nickie traveling south as well.  We are all supposed to arrive at the Pomona Fairplex KOA by noon on Wednesday.

Who knows what we are in for.  The rally people have communicated often, mostly by email, with different suggestions.  The campground venue changed from the original beautiful park in San Dimas to this KOA in Pomona.  Not optimal because instead of being half an hour from Pasadena it is now more than an hour.  (The change was made AFTER the trip was paid for!)  We then got a communication from the rally “wagonmaster” that we would be actually camping at the fairgrounds, not in the KOA itself?  What? 

They told us that dog sitting was included, and later mentioned that was an extra fee.  We reviewed the papers required by the dog sitters and thought, No.  No way.  The fine print states that they are not responsible for death of your dog if attacked by another dog while they have your dog out with them, among several pages of other sorts of liability releases,  including damage to your rig while they have the keys. No thanks.  Mattie will have to manage on her own on any of the long days we are away from the MoHo. 

No matter what, the Rose Parade is the goal of the trip, and the minor details are just that, minor.  Sitting in the bleachers smelling those flowers and listening to the marching bands will be wonderful, and no traffic and crowds to negotiate.  All handled by our rally wagonmaster.  Should be a real treat.

Thanks to my friend Erin, I am trying something different for the blog during this trip.  Both of us are often slowed in our writing process by the time it takes to select and process the photos we want to use to illustrate our stories.  Erin has decided to write more and worry about photos less.  Her reason for doing this is probably a lot more valid than mine, since she will be on a ship, but it still will work well for me.  Check out Erin’s upcoming adventure here.

I pay for bandwidth to upload those photos to SmugMug, and would much rather process all those photos at home on the big computer.  My laptop also has Lightroom on it, but oh my it is sooo slow.  I am spoiled with the hefty GIS ready desktop that I have at home, so will wait to process and add photos when we return to the apartments. 

I am sure that 99 percent of those reading this blog will NOT return to see the rest of the photos, so there you are.  You will get a few, but the rest will come later. Thanks for the great idea, Erin!

Now for a little bit of mechanical misery.  Our rig is almost ten years old.  It is a fabulous rig and we love her, but one problem that seems to keep cropping up are issues with the jacks.  Mo had the solenoids replaced and pump rebuilt last summer.  The jacks work just fine at the repair shop, but then when back out on the road, they refuse to extend, most often the rear jacks.  Our site was level, but we still wanted to work with them to be sure all was operating well.  Nope.  Not extending.  Mo crawled under the rig and fiddled, pulled them down manually, and put WD 40 on them.  They worked again, after being cleaned a bit.  All that road grime and snow stuff must get in there and make them sticky.    Hopefully they will work when we get to Catalina Spa after our Rose Parade week is over.  We love that place, but the sites are notoriously not level.

More misery with television.  I almost hesitate to talk about this, because it shows our unwillingness to move into the current technology.  The rig is from 2006, so our tv is a lovely flat screen, but is not digital.  Lately it seems that many of the RV parks are moving to digital cable that either requires an expensive box rental from the cable company, or a digital tv.  Last night we couldn’t get tv to work at all, and of course since no one was around on Christmas day, we have no clue if it is us or them.  Many folks in the park seem to be using their own satellites, but we didn’t want to fiddle with that for just one night, so no TV.  Thank goodness we have our own WiFi.  From the review that I read, while WiFi is supposedly available, it never works, and some people said the cable doesn’t always work.  Maybe they didn’t have digital tv’s either?

We hesitate to replace the TV because the current one is somewhat square and the newer digital models are longer and won’t fit properly into the perfectly shaped cubbyhole that we have now.  It would require a much smaller screen or a complete redo.  Of course, if we could get our satellite to work properly with our Direct TV box that we bring from home that would help as well. That is another mechanical issue we plan to address tomorrow on our layover day at Orange Grove, remember those open skies I mentioned? 

In the mean time, we have a lovely sunny day ahead of us to travel the short distance to Bakersfield and Orange Grove RV Park.  No worries, we will travel the 5 rather than the 99 freeway just because we like it better.  The mileage difference is miniscule. 

Author: kyotesue

Soil scientist/mapper working for 35 years in the wild lands of the West. I am now retired, enjoying my freedom to travel, to hike without a shovel and a pack, to knit and quilt and play, to play with photography and write stories about all of it.

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