Friday, May 7, 2021

More Family on Our Way to the Coast

 April 29 - May 4, 2021
Fresno - Manteca - Ukiah, California

We bring snow with us to Frazier Park, and we bring the heat to Fresno. Every time. After highs in the 50's on the mountain, we arrive in the Central Valley just in time for a couple 95 degree days!

Cousin Cindy and her family have a lovely green lot on their property where we squeeze the motorhome through the gate to park with 15 amp and water. This time we remember we can use the generator to run the AC making for much more comfortable sleeping.

After 14 months of no lawn, Tessa has found nirvana here!

Bill and Kurt get caught up in the shady backyard.

Although Tessa was over his attentions quickly, sweet boy Dutch gave us lots of loving doggy eyes.

It's a fun visit with the family including their three sons and Cindy's mom, Aunt Kathy. The priority however is seeing Bill's 96 year old mother. She lives happily and comfortably in a private care home nearby. Her hearing is nearly gone but her sharp mind shares fond memories with us on three separate visits. She's been fully vaccinated for weeks and although we still mask, it's lovely getting to give her big hugs.

The family matriarch, Anne.

While running a few errands we find three generations of goslings in a parking lot. They're all so cute!

The "middle" aged kids.

One of the errands is a trip to the vet for Tessa :-( who has a mild ear infection. Glad to get her taken care of before we get further into our travels.

When we were in Arizona the registration for the rig came due. It included a recall on the emission system so we took it to Cummins in Tucson to get the work done. Their computer said (and they gave me a copy of the printout) there was no "active campaign" on our VIN. Soooo, I paid the registration and included a copy of the paper. California tells me we have to get a special form from the dealer saying what the paper already says. Of course. 

While in Valencia the line at the DMV is literally around the building and there's no Cummins dealer nearby. I find a dealer in Fresno who confirms over the phone that they have the DMV form on hand - yay! So another errand is going to the dealer with a copy of the VIN in hand to get the form, send it to DMV, be done.

Nope.

This dealer says there is an active campaign, requiring a part replacement. Which isn't in stock. And we're leaving tomorrow.

Arrggh.

Plan C is taking care of it at the Arcata Cummins next week. We'll see.

Friday is a two hour drive north on Hwy 99 to Manteca, California. It's still windy, but not too bad. French Camp RV Park is a nice surprise with level, paved pull-throughs, pretty trees that don't block the satellite, and easy access. I routed us here so we can see Bill's niece locally for lunch, and my best friend half-way between here and Sacramento one of the evenings. While the lunch happens with the added surprise of Bill's nephew driving over from Santa Clara, multiple factors pop up and no visit with the BFF this time. 

Bill, Melissa, Kavan, Morgan and David

Me and them.

Getting to see two of Wayne's (Bill's late brother) kids is a real treat and we all make plans for them to come see us in Arizona. When we get back to the park the sky is filled with smoke and we find a brush fire very near to the park border. Fortunately it's out quickly.

After my evacuation experience a couple years ago, this is unnerving!

Driving through California's Bay Area is a challenging experience even in a car, so I'm happy I was able to route us through on a Sunday morning. It's an easy peasy drive even with the wind that seems to be following us.

Sunday morning - the only way to fly!

Our next stop, and the last with family for awhile, is Ukiah, California. When we stayed at the Redwoods Empire Fairgrounds in 2015 the sites were filled with stickers and we swore we'd never do it again. Fast forward to 2021, the recent reviews say no stickers, and it's much less expensive than the Willits' option we did last time. 

The park is full this time so obviously it's not the "secret" it was years ago, and I'm happy to find no stickers. Tessa is too!

After a couple of misses, we find the Ukiah Brewing Company, making us very happy the others were misses! Fantastic food, brews and live music on the patio, we stay for a couple hours enjoying the perfect weather.

The large roulette wheel on the ceiling really catches your eye!

These giant dry thistles are stunning. I get a pic so I can remember to try and find some for the house.

Hard to see, but this musical duo on keyboards and drums are wonderful. Lots of boogy-woogy and a powerful female singer.

Mendocino and Fort Bragg fill our Monday, and give us our first view of the west coast which will be our home for the next two months.

First stop is for zoomies in the sand along Big River.

Spring is bright and colorful in Mendocino.






It's going to take a few days to absorb all the green!!

Our sister-in-law lives in Clearlake, and on Tuesday we meet her in Lakeport for a long lunch. Marilynn is very special to us both so it's always a delight to spend time with her. Can't believe I forget to get a pic, we were even talking about the blog!! Next time :-)

We're so happy to be back on Hwy 101 and beginning our summer along the coast. Next up we'll stay in the redwoods for a few days.


Monday, May 3, 2021

Getting Back on the Road - Yipppeee!

 April 6 - 28, 2021
Ajo-Yuma, Arizona; Valencia, California


Did you hear the cheering? It was pretty loud :-) Pulling out of the driveway on the 15th with everything (I thought) loaded up feels like a cause for celebration!

The last week in Tombstone seemed to crawl by but looking back it flew. We spent our last Saturday with good friends Rebecca and Michael and a couple new friends from their RV park. The Meading Room in Sonoita is a wonderful treat of cider and mead tasting, and good conversation. All of us are fully vaccinated so when we return to their site we enjoy our first unmasked outdoor gathering in over a year. It feels like hope. Still forget to get a photo.

Having Jeff at the house this time makes it easier to leave everything behind without worry. It's one of the things we haven't had to deal with before. And I'll miss his company :-(

Our first day is a 200 mile drive to Ajo, Arizona. I'm tired of the I-10 route through Phoenix and this is a place we've wanted to see again. It's an uneventful trip with everything working as it should. Different from all of our other "launch" days.

Sweet to be somewhere else!

Ajo Heights RV Park is immaculate and quiet with level gravel FHU sites and easy access. I'm very happy to be here.

Until I reach for my purse to check in at the little office.

No purse.

Because it wasn't on the list.

Because who needs to put their purse on a list?!?!

They only take checks and fortunately I have some in the rig. Jeff is home and (after lots of laughing) able to ship the purse to one of the other kids in Valencia. It's really stupid, but not something that even slightly ruins this wonderful day!

Friday morning we head south to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. We've had Puerto Blanco Road on our list since we weren't able to drive it when we were here last time. It's a cool and cloudy day, perfect for appreciating the natural beauty of this unique environment.

Fluffy Face happy to be out exploring again.


Bookend Saguaros

Healthy namesake cactus.



One area is covered in old ash.


We stop for a picnic lunch at an old corral.

Fallen and dried saguaro.


Cholla spines

Greasewood and ocotillo

The beautiful park property ends along the border. The destruction of the desert is sad, the wall easier to scale than those at state prisons.

Looking like gates at an amusement park, these are left open during monsoon season. Probably not a secret on the other side.

Glad we're headed away from the border. The line of cars entering Mexico is 15 miles long and not moving. 

We're up and out the next morning. Hwy 8 is a nice change from our usual I-10. Different scenery is always good, and the road condition is much better. Yuma, Arizona, is home to one of our high school friends, and both her mom and sister (who Bill knows, but I don't) are visiting as well. We have a wonderful visit at Teri's lovely home, getting caught up and (me) getting to know the rest of the family. Again, all being vaccinated makes it feel like the real world!

Yay, I got a pic!! Vicki, Bill and Teri

Sunday we continue west for over 300 miles, a very long driving day for us. Hwy 8 continues to be a pleasure to drive, I wish all freeways were this smooth!!

We take a break for lunch at Pechanga Casino's parking lot in Temecula and arrive in Valencia after 5 PM. 

A three lane on ramp - we must be back in California!
Why I'm so glad we have a notification if our brakes in the Jeep are on while towing, and our TPMS monitors tire temp. It looks fine from the side, but the back of the rig is destroyed.

It's Sunday and I'm shocked to see the pool at the RV park is full of families. The last place I'd feel safe is a public pool in a pandemic! 

Our site is the tightest we've ever had at Valencia Travel Village, but I did have to change our dates at the last minute, and they literally squeezed us in this time.

Won't be having the family over on our little strip of grass. Tessa is not impressed.

We're here for a week with seeing the grandkiddos at the top of our list of priorities. 

Since we missed seeing Henry and his parents in November, they're our first visit this time. Having just moved into their first house three weeks ago, it's especially fun to see them and their new home. Megan is my "borrowed daughter" and has been part of the family for decades. Henry is grand number five and such a happy, active little guy.

Tessa wastes no time getting comfy.

Spinning the wheels is the most fun you can have with any toy truck!

Chris, Henry and Megan
Nawma time with Henry.

Megan prepares scrumptious pasta and too soon our visit is over. It's wonderful to see Megan and her family so happy :-))

Tuesday is as long as we can wait to see the oldest and the youngest (for now) so up the hill we go to Frazier Park to see Ezra and Elliott and their parents.

PopPop  enjoying Ezra and Elliott

Elliott at almost five months is a happy, happy boy.

Ezra and Miss Clover rubbing heads. She is a great kid-cat.

The weather is warm and we spend time in the back-yard. A great opportunity as when we return in a few days there will be snow :-)

Travis and Emily and Reese invite all of us over for pizza and salad and catching up. Seeing Reese playing with her cousins M&M is delightful. We love that they are all growing up together. Nick, Jillian, Corey and Christie round out the full house. Richie's at work :-(

Little M reads with PopPop

Reese is our only girl - until we learned on Easter that she will be joined by a little sister in October!!

Reese, Emily, Travis, Corey, Christie, M&M, Nick, Jillian and Bill

Little M entertains Reese and her mommy.

The cousins played well together - so cute!!

They need work done on their car and I need to get the last of our boxes from storage, so Brian and Ezra stop by at the end of the week. Ezra stays with PopPop while Brian and I get things done. 

While they're with us, Ezra has a kindergarten class. Able to join his classmates on his tablet in our bedroom is definitely a sign of the times.

Richie and girlfriend Amanda join us for dinner on our last night in town. At 24 already, the youngest is so grown up now! It's a wonderful visit but I fail to get a photo this time :-(

Big M is playing softball/t-ball at the local park with limited attendance so PopPop joins his family for the game on Sunday morning before we pull out and head north.

Unlike our trip on Tuesday, it is very cold with a storm on the way. Snow and rain fall overnight, but it's dry in the morning. I'm sure it's only because we got the rig washed and waxed in Valencia (always good to help out in a drought).

We spend three fun days with the boys and their folks. So much has happened since they spent the first four months of COVID in Tombstone with us. Both the new home and Elliott! It goes by way too fast, and leaving is very hard.

Big smiles all around.

These two love to cuddle.

Daddy gets an Ezra hug.

Elliott is always happy. Always.

Ezra has his Spanish class with little brother paying close attention.

Shalise opens birthday presents - last year they were in Tombstone for the big day.

Mommy and Daddy hang out with Elliott who's happy to play with the wrapping paper.

Reminding us that when we leave we'll still have this cuteness with us.

All the grands are growing so fast, and there's never enough time to see them as much as we'd like. With all of their parents vaccinated, or soon to be, we're looking forward to a longer visit at the end of the year.

For now, it's on to new adventures in both familiar and new places up the road!