Making Lemonade from Lemons – A unexpected stop in Riverside CA


One thing we learned from this mobile lifestyle is to expect the unexpected. Even though we do plan our travel, have routes we want to take and reservations for places we want to stay – sometimes S*it happens!

We had an oil leak on the coach motor when we arrived in Palm Springs last November and we had (okay, the mechanic) thought it was repaired. Turned out that wasn’t the problem… when we got to the staging area by the exit at ORPS where we hooked up the car, Wally noticed the dripping had started again. DAMN IT…we were right on time to breeze through LA before rush hour traffic ensued DAMN IT!!!!

Luckily, we were able to get ahold of the mechanic and he came out to check it out. Okay, so we sat there for over an hour waiting but he did show up. Seems after some inspection, the oil cooler housing gasket was really the problem. After some phone calls, we were told that the gasket kit was available in Riverside CA (no where else BTW) at the Caterpillar Dealer. The other good news was that they had time to look at the coach that afternoon and could most likely get the repair done the next day. All good news so far…

The mechanic who did the work for us felt really bad that he missed the real issue and helped us get on the road to Riverside. He paid for the gasket kit ($40), wrapped an absorbent diaper around the housing and zip tied it on. This temporary fix would help keep the oil from getting all over the front of the car which is towed directly behind the engine area.

We made the short 55 mile drive to Riverside, saw the engine doctor and were put on the schedule for Friday am. At that point we were hopeful we would be back on the road Friday but had to rearrange some reservations and find a place to stay the night. We had plans to meet friends in Paso Robles on Sunday and had decided to leave a few days prior to that …just in case! Sometimes intuition is spot on!

We spent the night at a expensive and somewhat divey RV park just 5 minutes from the Caterpillar Dealer in Riverside. Didn’t even bother to put all the slides out or hook up the sewer as we knew we were leaving at 7am the next morning! The area we stayed in was in a very industrial area right off I215.


But I was hopeful we could find something to occupy us the next day while the coach was being worked on. Love the Trip Advistor App.

So this is when lemons started turning into lemonade…We had a great burger and beer for dinner at Heros Restaurant and Brewery in downtown Riverside. Turns out we were within walking distance to the very old, historic Mission Inn so after we tucked in all that food we took a nice walk around the area. Who’da thunk Riverside had such a cool old downtown. Apparently, this part of town has gone through a resurgence…use to be all you would get in Downtown Riverside was stabbed! Ya, thats a fact as told to me by some locals.

The grounds are at the Mission Inn are absolutely stunning…

Bellies full, we went to bed early. 6 am came and we were up getting ready to take the coach to the doctor. Now remember, we have two pets who can’t stay onboard the coach if work is being done. After loading Bentley in the back of Ernie and Sucia in her big travel crate with a litter box and food, off we went to drop off the coach. Yikes, its early…and coffee was the first order of business after we left the Road House. Yay, for Starbucks!!!

Fueled up from coffee and somewhat awake now, we decided to head over to the California Citrus State Historical State Park for a walk.

We got there at 8am and were the only ones on the trails…what a hidden gem this place is. This 300-acre park preserves some of the rapidly vanishing cultural landscape of the citrus industry and tells the story of this industry’s role in the history and development of California. There are fruit tastings and guided tours at museum/visitor center.

Bentley hiking…what???

In 1873, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forever changed the history of Southern California when it sent two small Navel orange trees to Riverside resident Eliza Tibbets. Those trees, growing in near perfect soil and weather conditions, produced an especially sweet and flavorful fruit. Word of this type of orange quickly spread, and a great agricultural industry was born.

Ah, the good ole days when most of Southern Cal was orange groves …can only imagine how beautiful it was.

In the early 1900s, an effort to promote citrus ranching in the state brought hundreds of would-be citrus barons to California for the “second Gold Rush.” The lush groves of oranges, lemons and grapefruit gave California another legacy – its lingering image as the Golden State – the land of sunshine and opportunity. It was awesome to be in the middle of these lush groves and see how the city has grown up all around them. Love it that this bit of Cali history is being preserved.

Bentley enjoyed a long walk in the orchards while Sucia stayed in her kennel in the car. Thankfully it was a cool day so the she could enjoy all the great smells with the windows cracked. The orchard were all blooming and the sweet smell of citrus wafted all around us as we hiked around and through orchards. So many varietals of fruit…lemons, oranges, grapefruits and even an avocado orchard. I can’t say enough about this fantastic park….if they only had overnight RV sites, it would be heaven!

As it turns out, the museum wasn’t open yet…seriously, we were there at 8am…so not like us! I was optimistic that the coach would be done by noon and really wanted to see the UC Riverside Botanical Garden so off we went. Will have to see the musuem another time!

So many varietals of oranges

Love tangelos…so hard not to sneak in there and pick a few!

Fruit trees take a lot of water and all of the canals like the one in the picture in the right were originally dug by hand. The picture on the left is of a water control channel which keeps the whole damn place from washing away in big rain storms. Guessing that wasn’t there in the early 1900’s.

We drove back roads through some beautiful neighborhoods, turns out Riverside has some lovely areas and is not just a industrial blight with a violent history!

I had no idea how huge and sprawling the UC Riverside campus is…there are 40 acres of botanical gardens containing more than 3,500 plant species from around the world. Located in the foothills of the Box Springs Mountains on the east side of the University of California, Riverside Campus, the Gardens covers 40 hilly acres.

We wandered over the four miles of scenic trails and really enjoyed hiking the NW trails up into Box Springs Mountains… the views were stunning over the mountains and back down onto the campus plus we got a serious cardio workout!

Great hike up above the botanical gardens

Back at the car, I was sure the coach must almost be done so we made a quick call only to find out that they didn’t actually start working on it until almost 11 am…how rude…why were we up and at the service desk at 7am?

Well, so far the lemon of a day was all lemonade and we were starving by then so lunch was in order. Wally was craving pizza and we thought it was only fitting to go to the California Pizza Kitchen! Yes, it’s a chain but I gotta say the grilled artichoke, goat cheese and arugula salad with a champagne vinaigrette was delicious.

After a long lunch, we still had some time to kill and the world’s biggest paper cup was not far away so why wouldn’t we go check it out?

So its not actually paper…huh?

Turns out it was just down the street from Quinns Caterpillar and by now I was getting a bit anxious to get on the road. Driving in rush hour LA traffic is something we occasionally had to do when we lived in SoCal but wasn’t high on either of our bucket lists of things to do in a big ass RV.

As we rolled into the Caterpillar lot…Lo and behold there was the Road House rolling out of the work bays. Fingers crossed she was done and good to go! Yep, $794 later we we ready to roll. But to where one might ask…not back to the divey RV Park down the street for sure. We decided the traffic on the 210 looked doable and the route to Paso Robles (258 Miles) on google maps suggested going I5, over the grapevine and cutting over to Hwy 101 just south of Bakersfield.

We have never seen the southern california hills so green!

Long story short, we drove through some beautiful mossy green rolling hills, dusk turned into darkness and by the time we drove into Cava Robles RV Resort it was way later than we ever like to be on the road. That said, we backed into our site, put our the rear slide, took a long, hot shower and crawled into bed. Dang…we were just happy to be there!!!

Were our eyes really getting this fuzzy???
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