01-18-2015 Nevada City and Oroville and time with friends

Current Location: Rocky Point Oregon

no snow winter 2 (6 of 6)Talking about the weather is silly.  There is no snow, there is no rain, there is no winter to speak of anywhere to be found in our part of the world.  Crazy.  The skies are cold but clear tonight.  The thermometer might drop a bit below freezing before morning, but c’mon…is this really what January is supposed to look like in Rocky Point?  no snow winter 2 (1 of 6)

It usually looks more like this around here in January.  

Happy New Year's EveBut with snow like that I would be shoveling and blowing the pathways and complaining about the ice on the driveway.  We were gone for three months in winter of 2014, and heard rumors that there wasn’t much snow then either, but it is surprising that the lack of snow is still persisting.  Water?  Snow pack? Drought?  Those thoughts lie in the background as we enjoy the moderately warm, snowless winter.  Maybe it will snow in April as it usually does.  Just in time for Easter.

Leaving the gorgeous sunny skies of the Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree NP was tough.  I needed to be home, but that didn’t make the journey any more enticing.  As we approached the western slope of the Sierras crossing the Tehachapi Pass on Highway 58, we could see the thick blanket of gray brown smog/fog hanging low over the Great Central Valley.  Didn’t look a bit different than it did when we passed this same way two weeks ago.

I never tire of this view from Highway 58 toward the Grapevine The distance to Orange Grove RV park from Joshua Tree is a short 200 miles.  Of course we could have traveled farther, but why?  Why go beyond the waiting oranges!  I have to confess, I did take more than the loudly proclaimed one bag limit.  Signs everywhere said that limit would be “strictly enforced”.  I am sure they are talking to someone other than me, right?  Maybe the signs are for those greedy people who might try to pick bags and bags of the sweet things and sell them on the side of the road.  The sign wasn’t for me, the innocent little old lady from Oregon who just wanted an extra bag to share with friends along my route home, right?heading south_008DSC_0008

I remember blogland a long time ago when someone, can’t even remember who, “stole” oranges from a tree along side of the road.  Lots of moral lectures resulted from that little confession.  I am a good, mostly honest person.  Just don’t let me near your orange trees.

The park was about 1/3 full when we arrived, but by dark every single space was filled.  I would highly recommend getting a reservation if you are a big rig and intend to stay in the park en route or returning from the desert.  Seems as though the snow birds have found it and keep it very busy.

Once again we drove north along I-5 on a Saturday, leaving at 6:30 AM so that we could get all the way to the Grass Valley County fairgrounds before nightfall.  Just 370 miles or so, but that is still a long day for us.  The fog was thick when we gassed up at the Bakersfield Costco for a measly 2.06 per gallon for regular gas.  Who knows how long those prices will last, but we sure enjoyed them on this trip.

After a somewhat long and boring day traveling north, the fog lifted and we whizzed through Sacramento traffic onto the 80 and then north on Highway 49 to Grass Valley/Nevada City.  The two gold towns in the Mother Lode country of California are not far apart.  Our friends Jimmie and Nickie, are living in Nevada City, and in spite of their generous offer of driveway hospitality, we thought it would be smart to park the rig down the hill at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (47 of 49)It is a fairly nice park, as fairground camping goes, and in no time we were set up and on our way up the hill to Jimmie and Nickie’s lovely home on a lava cap ridge of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  Just high enough in elevation to be out of the poison oak but not into deep long lasting snow.  Perfect.

Nickie told me that when they walked into the house, within minutes, they knew it was the one.  I had an experience like that once myself, when I stepped into my little bungalow in Klamath Falls back in 2002.  Within 24 hours I had an accepted offer and that little home now shelters my daughter and her family after some delightful years sheltering me.

Nickie and I have kept up our correspondence after meeting in person a couple of years ago…neither of us could believe it had been two years since we met, but it has.   Thank goodness for the blog where I could check out the original date of our delightful get together the first time.  Walking into their home is so comfortable and their hospitality is wonderful.

nickie and jimmie I have seen photos of their canal walk, and was delighted to have Nickie suggest that we get a bit of movement in before dinner walking the canal.  What a great place close to home to get in daily walks.  The water was a bit low, but I could see what a shady retreat this pathway would be on a hot summer day. 

Another walker took some photos of all of us together (thanks for this photo, Nickie), and the happy smiles on our faces just gives a hint at how much fun we were having. 

Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (12 of 49)Later Nickie treated us to a wondrous supper of hand made spinach rolls smothered in her very own home canned marinara sauce, and a Caesar salad drenched in the fabulous dressing from the restaurant we had visited two years ago.  Fresh steamed broccoli and artisan bread rounded out the perfect meal.  Jimmie is so funny and friendly and kind, and he and Nickie are so much fun to be around.  I just love how they treat each other with such love and respect.  It is a joy.

Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (14 of 49) My favorite part of the evening was listening to the stories of how Nickie and Jimmie met and their travels and how they found their homes.  Flow!  These two definitely know how to live in the Flow of life at its finest. The best indication of the great time we had showed on the clock when Mo and I finally drove back down the hill to the MoHo.  It was almost 11 PM when we got to bed.  Geez!  We are early birds most of the time.

The next morning, with a brilliant sun bursting forth, we met again for a morning walk around the fairgrounds.  Nickie has a great sense of humor, although the wet bleacher seats weren’t exactly to her liking, but she wanted a photo in the bleachers, so I obliged.  Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (25 of 49)

I also got a kick out of taking pictures of Nickie herding geese.  She kept saying, “They love me!”.  I am sure that they did.

Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (45 of 49)We drove the short distance to Nevada City and a wonderful breakfast at the South Pine Cafe.  The food was incredible, and my choice was a lobster scramble with lots of mushrooms and avocados and Jalapeño Hollandaise!  It was even good when I ate the other half for breakfast the next day!  Once again, the fact that we were having a great time was evident as we lingered over our breakfast table long after the meal was finished.  Hard to say goodbye to such great people.

Of course, we had other great people waiting for us in Oroville, so we buttoned up the rig and took the back road from Grass Valley to Oroville via a road that I would NOT recommend, but it was fun. 

IMG_1217 The sun was brilliant in Nevada City, but by the time we dropped down the hill just enough to reach Oroville, the fog was again shrouding the landscape.  Spare me from California Valley fogs!! ick! That gray line you see on the horizon is the thick fog down in Oroville and the valley!IMG_1216

We camped once again at the Feather Falls Casino, not a cheap night by any means at $47 per night with no discounts.  Still, it was an easy hookup, a nice park that we like, and just minutes from Maryruth and Gerald’s home up the hill.  Readers know that Maryruth is my very best friend of more than 50 years.  It is always wonderful to see her and her husband Gerald, and to visit their home.

Maryruth has a new sewing machine and has completed more decorating projects in her home that I wanted to see.  After the look arounds, we drove down the hill again to her mother’s house, who has lived in Oroville for more than 50 years.  It was great seeing the family, people I have known and loved as my own family for all these years.

Later, Maryruth and Gerald took us to their friends winery, The Purple Line Urban Winery, right in downtown Oroville, and we sampled some great wines, including something called “Red Panties”.  We then ambled on to Papacito’s Mexican Grill and Cantina where I finally got my urge for some really GOOD Mexican food fully satisfied.  What a great little place with excellent food!  Their tortilla soup was the best I have ever had anywhere.

Once again we made it back home to the rig at a very late hour, proof of our wonderful time spent with good friends.  In case you are wondering where the photos are for this part of the visit, Maryruth did that thing when I pulled out the camera…”Oh Sue…Really?!?!”   So I put the thing away and didn’t take a single photo of our visit.  Only once, and only for you, Maryruth.  Next time I am taking photos!!IMG_1220

Because I honored Maryruth’s request, Instead of photos of Maryruth and Gerald and their wonderful home, the winery and the wonderful food, you get to see a photo of my daughter with her three little grandbabies, my youngest great-grandchildren. 


South to California

morning sunlight at the KOA Hitch Itch.  Full timers get it, folks with an RV parked in the shed get it too. The past couple of weeks have been focused on work and home chores, and we both knew we wanted to get in another local camping trip before we head for Colorado at the end of the month.  Medicine Lake comes to mind first, a favorite high mountain destination, but we thought there might still be snow there this early.  Then fate stepped in with an invitation to a retirement party in Davis, California for a colleague.  We thought about it a bit and finally came up with a plan.  Oroville!
site 34 at the Feather Falls KOA There is a big lake there, nice campgrounds, my best friend and her husband are right there, and it is just a two hour drive to Davis so I could go to the party.  Calling the State Recreation Area phone number for reservations, we were shocked to find that electric hookup sites (no sewer) at the Bidwell Canyon Campground cost $45.00, plus the reservation fee.  Geez.  California parks are too dang expensive.  So I looked around a bit and came up with the KOA RV Park that is adjacent to the Feather Falls Casino and for $37.00 got a nice site with full hookups, free WiFi, cable TV and a heated swimming pool.  Hmmm, not such a bad idea.  We figured that we could go to the lake for kayaking without paying that crazy price.
morning relaxation in the shade of the oak tree Sunday morning we decided to drive to Grants Pass to check out another possible MoHo property and then travel south on I-5, a route we rarely travel between Medford and Weed.  The day was gorgeous and cool, with a bit of cloud cover and the drive was perfect.  I always smile when bloggers post the photos of amazing Mt Shasta, and decided that I didn’t need to stop once again to take one more picture of “the mountain”. 
The trip was wonderful and as always it feels so freeing to be in the MoHo on the road.  I said to Mo, “It isn’t just going somewhere that I love, it is the movement, the feeling of being on the road, the scenery sliding by, the skies ever changing”.   I guess I like that hum and vibration somehow.  Sounds completely silly to me when I write it, and yet I do know the feeling.  Bet others do too.
When we arrived at the KOA we were pleasantly surprised, but not before a moment or two of confusion.  You see, there are two casinos in Oroville, and I thought we were somehow going to the one that is on the road to Maryruth’s house.  Instead, the GPS kept trying to send me south of town to a completely different area.  Turns out we really DID have the reservation south of town and not on Maryruth’s road at the Gold Country Casino. 
great idea, a holding pen for your dog while you swimOnce settled in, we discovered what I think is the best KOA we have ever seen.  I often avoid these parks because they seem expensive and crowded.  This one won a Presidents Award of some kind and I can see why.  The sites were absolutely, perfectly level concrete pads, surrounded by large lawns, with a wide parking area along the road in front of your site for the toad.  There were picnic tables and plenty of shade under our very own lovely oak tree.  There were even two dump outlets on the site, one in front and one in back which we so appreciated.  So many parks are set up for just 5th wheels and pickup trucks and the dump is completely out of reach of a motorhome.
The grounds were beautifully manicured, the swimming pool clean and heated, with an adjacent holding pen for your dog, the hot tub fresh and hot, and the clubhouse cool and roomy.  The store and office had a great supply of anything you might need.  With the KOA club card, which ended up paying for itself after all the freebies, got us 20 bucks in free casino money in addition to the 10 bucks we got with our site.  We were also informed that a simple phone call would bring the casino shuttle right to our camp site on demand.  Right to the site!  Ha! The funniest part of this story is that in the four days we were in Oroville, we never managed to get up to the casino and our coupons went unused.
thermolite forebay track 02 launch site at the ForeBay Aquatic Center new OrovilleOn Monday, we decided to explore the Thermolito  Forebay area, a part of the huge Oroville Dam complex of water management systems.  The forebay was a perfect place for kayaking since there are no motorized boats allowed.  It’s really nice not to have to compete with jet skiis and bit boat wakes and noise.  I really love the MotionX GPS app for my iPhone, mentioned by Rick recently, and have used it now for several kayak paddles.  It is fun to see just how fast we have paddled, how many miles we have covered and where we have been on the map.  It even links photos to the sites and then I can upload the track to Facebook or send it via email.  Just tickles me no end.  Of course, another quirk of GPS is the excellence of X and Y and the complete goofiness of the Z factor, elevation.  We discovered to our surprise that on our nice little lake the elevation changed by 30 feet while we were out there.  Too funny. 
sunny day at the Thermolito Forebay near OrovilleI have had a few questions from readers regarding how hard it is to get in and out of the kayak so I made a quick video of the process, just for laughs.  I am still trying to figure out how to get the video to embed without any luck, so may just add the YouTube URL in case you want to see it.  If I can do it, anyone can!

Maryruth and Gerald came out to our little shady campsite that evening and we all went up to the Feather Falls Brewery where we were able to use the other coupons that gave us a discount on food.  After dinner when we thought about playing the slots we all thought better of it and just went back to the campsite instead.  Tuesday was our day to visit at their home, to see all the beautiful garden work that Gerald has done, and enjoy some of Maryruth’s legendary cooking. 
Sue and Maryruth in Maryruth's lovely yardMaryruth and Gerald at home in Oroville Often Oroville can be unbearably hot, and just the week before we were there the temperatures were in the triple digits.  For us, instead, we had beautiful skies, not a speck of smog or haze, and temperatures in the mid to high 80’s.  Couldn’t have been more perfect. 
On Wednesday Maryruth took us out to her sister’s houseboat for an afternoon on the water with lots of good food and drink.  The shuttle picks up passengers at the marina and takes you right to your boat, and even let us bring the dog. We settled in with sunscreen, comfy chairs, and good conversation with a view of the water all around us. Abby and I both even managed a good swim.  Mo was a bit concerned about getting her back on the deck of the houseboat, but in nothing flat, with a little encouragement, Abby learned how to climb that ladder right back up on the boat.
DSC_0011DSC_0009 Thursday morning we decided to explore some other areas for kayaking, including the Afterbay and the Diversion Pool.  The big lake itself it fine for kayaking as well, but not nearly as interesting.  The last time we were there we encountered a lot of wind and boats, and there is a large area of houseboats near the launch that require navigating through before you get to some more open water. 
I left Mo in the shade of the oak tree mid morning to go meet my friends in Davis.  There are so many people that I know from California, and it was so good to see everyone.  Dean Burkett, who had a position in Chico like my position in Oroville had also come to detail and map for me while I was there and we developed a great friendship. 
the three suesIMG_2530 When I had my retirement party two years ago, Dean gave up a 22 year tradition of attending a rendezvous to come to my party instead. You can bet I wasn’t about to miss his retirement send off! I also got to spend quality time with the other two “Sue’s”. We are all a rather interesting phenomenon in California, all GS-12 managers, all in California, and all named Sue.  In a career choice that at one time didn’t have many women, this is particularly funny.  We called ourselves “the three Sues,” Sierra Sue (me), Coastal Sue in Arcata, and Valley Sue in Davis.  Plus we all have kayaks!  The three sues kayak trip is still in the works, but we keep talking about it. I still sometimes get emails meant for one of the other sue’s and they get mine.  It IS a funny thing.
very early morning light on the Feather River I stayed much to late and arrived back home to the KOA far too late for Mo and I to attempt to gamble away our coupons as originally planned.  Instead we got a few hours sleep before taking off the next morning by 6:30 AM.  After all, I had a quilt class in Merrill, at the Tater Patch and couldn’t miss it.  It was the final class in a group of three that I have attended.  We decided to leave early enough to take the back route home, via Highway 70 along the Feather River, north to Lake Almanor and Susanville, and then on to Merrill.  It was a gorgeous drive over a road I haven’t seen for more than 40 years and I loved every minute of it. 
We arrived in Merrill just a few minutes before my class started, unhooked the baby car so Mo could go on home, and I managed to finish the series without falling asleep at the machine.  Let me tell you I was one tired puppy when I pulled into the driveway in Rocky Point that evening, glad to be home and completely satisfied with what turned out to be a really great week.
Next up: an amazing kayak on Shoalwater Bay and camping at Eagle Ridge just ten miles from home!