It has been another beautiful day here in the desert. After spending most of yesterday feeling down and worried about my mom, it felt good to be a little more cheerful today. I felt better knowing that I was able to get a doctors appointment scheduled for her on Monday and had transportation arranged to get her there.
Instead of reading corona virus news, I popped on line to see what my pal Pluto had to say today and watch a fun video posted by singer songwriter Sheryl Crow.
So here is how day seven of our sheltering in place went…
Wally and I walked the resort in search of pretty flora and fauna. We haven’t left the “compound”since Sunday but if we mix up our routes here inside the walls of our pretty oasis we can see something different almost everyday. I have been checking this little beauty in the photo below for the past few days and was rewarded with this gorgeous flower today. Our walking route took us through the orchard where an acre of fruit trees ring the wall of our property. We were super excited to discover three mexican limes trees nestled in with the orange, grapefruit, lemon and tangerine trees.
We sat outside and enjoyed our lunch on the patio again today.
A unexpected wine delivery showed up today. I know, you must think we have a serious wine consumption problem. Yes, congratulations … that is a very fair assumption. The shipment was from one of our very favorite wineries in Walla Walla Washington – Isenhower Cellars. We have been wine club members for years, since the first time we met the winemaker/founder/owner Brett Isenhower at a wine event in our small town of Lake Oswego. His luscious rich reds caught our attention and his beautiful family run winery kept us coming back for more.
Wally and I went on a golf cart scavenger hunt here in the resort which was organized by our very fun friends Cindy and Jill. It was the perfect activity that people could all do but not gather in a group or worry about social distancing. We stopped by and got the list from Cindy, who sat at the edge of her driveway. Then we were off, zooming around the resort trying to creatively fulfill the list and photograph ourselves in action. Everyone had four hours to complete the hunt and post our top three photos on a community FB site. Yes, there were drinks involved… no harm, no foul …drinking and driving within the walls of the compound isnt a party foul. Here are the top three favorites with the categories explained:
Celebrated our friends John and Kristen’s 26th anniversary. Warning: There was no social distancing observed. The four of us have been very, very careful about our exposure and honestly had spent so much time together prior to the shelter in place order that we all agreed that we were comfortable with our risk/exposure going forward. So, since we couldn’t go out on the town and celebrate, the next best thing would be to cook together and play a kick ass game of Five Crowns. We broke out some very nice wine, did a build your own burger bar featuring grass fed, organic beef, caramelized onions, green chilies, chipotle mayo, tomatoes, lettuce, avocado. Kristen did her delicious air fryer garlic fries and I kicked in a southwest salad. I am sad to report that the only ass that got kicked in cards was mine….
Wrote this blog post and edited pictures.
Frig is not quite as full… The salad and smoothie fixings are getting thin…but I have crab from our summer harvest on the menu tomorrow. We are grateful to be healthy. So far, so good for day seven. Hope all of you are healthy, sane and have had a good day as well.
I have always loved the movie Groundhog Day…seen it dozens, okay many times. It makes me laugh every time I see it and wonder what would I do if there were no consequences for my actions and everyday was a new chance to do what ever I wanted. In case you haven’t seen it, it perfectly fits these unprecedented times. So here we go…
Weatherman Phil Connors reassures Pittsburgh viewers that an approaching blizzard will miss Western Pennsylvania. He goes with news producer Rita Hanson and cameraman Larry to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to cover the Groundhog Day festivities, which he has done for several years. Phil makes no secret of his contempt for the assignment, the small town, and the “hicks” who live there.
The next day, Phil awakens at his Punxsutawney bed and breakfast to Sonny & Cher‘s “I Got You Babe” on the clock radio. He tapes a half-hearted report on Punxsutawney Phil and the town’s festivities. Rita wants to stay and cover other events, but Phil wants to return to Pittsburgh. The blizzard blankets the region in snow, stranding them in Punxsutawney. Phil shuns the celebrations and retires to bed early.
Phil wakes to “I Got You Babe” and the same DJ banter on the radio, and discovers the day’s events repeating exactly. Phil relives the day and returns to bed, assuming it was a dream, but it is still Groundhog Day when he wakes again: he is trapped in a time loop that no one else is aware of. Realizing there are no consequences for his actions, he spends the first several loops indulging in binge eating and drinking, one-night stands, robbery, and reckless driving. After spending several loops trying and failing to court Rita, he becomes depressed and desperate for a solution to end the loop. He tries numerous times to commit suicide, including going so far as to kidnap Punxsutawney Phil and drive off a cliff with him, but he continuously wakes up to “I Got You Babe” on the radio.
Phil tries to explain his situation to Rita, for whom he has feelings, by accurately predicting the day’s events. Rita sympathizes, and they spend the entirety of one loop together, but Phil wakes up alone as usual. He decides to use his knowledge of the day’s events to better himself and the lives of others; he learns how to play the piano, sculpt ice, and speak French, but is unable to save a homeless man, who dies regardless of his actions.
During one loop, Phil enthusiastically reports the Groundhog Day festivities, amazing Rita. They spend the rest of the day together, and Phil impresses her with his apparent overnight transformation and charitable deeds. She successfully bids for Phil at a charity bachelor auction. Phil makes an ice sculpture of Rita’s face, and tells her that no matter what happens, even if he is doomed to continue awakening alone each morning forever, he wants her to know that he is finally happy, because he loves her. They retire together to Phil’s lodgings. Phil wakes to “I Got You Babe” again, but finds Rita is still in bed with him and the radio banter is different; he has escaped the time loop. He tells Rita he wants to live together with her in Punxsutawney.
So here is how day six of our sheltering in place went…
So I woke up today, hearing “I got you Babe”. And you know what, I wasn’t laughing. I serious want this pan epidemic to be over, I want people to stop dying and I really want our joke of a president to actually say something that will reassure me that this is going to stop and I won’t be hearing “I got you Babe“ every morning for eternity.
Yep, there are consequences for all of our actions…
India joins coronavirus lockdown, while WHO warns US’s escalating outbreak could become next global epicentre for COVID-19. Oh, and the POTUS wants churches full for Easter. All of this and more while US hospital are crying out for basic necessities like face masks and gloves. WTF…yes, WTF…I should have just stayed in bed with the pillow over my head. It worked so well for me yesterday.
I guess I wake up hopeful, like many humans and take a look at what’s new in the world. Looking for a glimmer of something that brings a bit of hope into this bleak situation. Thankfully those little glimmers of hope are out there…not so much at the political level but at the everyday human level. Loved this story about another restauranteur helping feed the staff at local hospitals while being closed down indefinitely.
So here is how day four of our sheltering in place went…
Walked the resort again with my friend Kristen. Its a bit like a ghost town around here with so many empty lots or shuttered up rigs. That said, it is still a beautiful ghost town with flowering bougainville, bright blue skies, citrus trees loaded with fruit and blooming desertscape.
Went on a fruit run around the resort in the golf cart with my walking pal. Meyers lemons, ruby grapefruit, oranges and tangerines filled our baskets and bags. The picture above is own lemon tree which is loaded too. There is going to be some serious juicing over the next few days and one thing is certain… there will be no scurvy here matey… argh….!!!
Made a nice chopped salad and ate outside on the patio with Wally while Bentley entertained us. Not sure why but our crazy mutt loves playing with lemons. If he sees them sitting on the table, he will whine until we roll one his way. Then he gets silly… play bowing, growling, nose bumping and jumping on the poor defenseless lemon. Then he picks it up, carries it around, nibbles on it and makes funny faces. The best part is he is smiling and has lemony fresh breath after all that!
Did laundry…need I say more. Yawn…
Wally worked on little projects around the coach.
Chatted with my Mom the phone. Got her grocery and necessities list, then spent a frustrating hour and a half trying to find the things she wants online. I use the Instacart App to do her grocery shopping and was amazed I could get her order delivered the same day in Mesa Az. Here in the Coachella Valley it is next to impossible to get anything delivered.
Had a glass or two of wine with friends on our patio, okay, there may have been a couple of bottles involved but these are stressful times. Yes, we did sit six feet apart, had separate bottles, glasses and appetizers. I bleach cleaned everything before and after …
Ordered take out sushi with our friends John and Kristen. Love our local Otori Japanese restaurant and gladly support them while they struggle to stay open.
Wrote this blog post and edited pictures.
Frig is still full…not sure what I am making for dinner tomorrow…but its gotta included some of the fresh veggies that I should have used for dinner tonight. Another uneventful day…so far, so good for day four. Hope all of you are healthy and sane…I love hearing from everyone so please leave a comment and let us know how you are surviving in these crazy times.
Monday started off on a high note by a knock on the door at 8 am. By our standards that is early and no one who knows us well would come a knockin. So as I lay there in a groggy but now almost awake state, Wally jumped up and threw on some clothes…well, I think he did but I was still buried under my pillow! I was still there under my pillow when he crawled back in mumbling “delivery”. High note… it was a wine delivery!!!!
What, now that is good news! We frequent, both in person and online at a really great wine shop in sleepy Anacortes Washington. Doug, who is one of the owners/founders of Compass Wines has an incredible palate and a equally incredible marketing talent. We received frequent emails like the one below:
“Technically, I know this is wrong, but it sure tastes like it. The White Burg we ran a couple weeks back was literally sold out before we opened the doors that day, so here is a bit of a solace for those who missed out. This one comes not from Burgundy, but rather, Piedmont. The land of Nebbiolo (Langhe, in this case) is also a great growing medium for Chardonnay. Bright an mineral driven, with green apple and pear, lemon rind and just a kiss of flinty smoke. Beautifully balanced and much more complex and sophisticated than the price would dictate. We bought every bottle imported into the state, and that was just shy of 20 cases. At this price, I would jump on that mouse ASAP.“
Yep, I jumped on that mouse for sure and this little gem was one of three cases of white wine we had waiting for us in Ancortes. Normally we would just pick up everything when we roll back in to Anacortes but given the current state of affairs, it seemed prudent to have them shipped to us in California. I can do without TP but no wine…that is a horrifying prospect. Thanks Compass Wines – you were the high note of the day!!!!
So here is how day four of our sheltering in place went…
Walked the resort with my friend Kristen. Luckily our interior roads have very little traffic so we are able to stay six feet apart, still yak and get in about 3 miles! I love the smell of the citrus tree blossoms especially after it rains which it did last night.
Wally took Bentley to the desert for a run. Bentley doesn’t care to hike anymore or go on long boring walks but instead prefers to run with wild abandon, chase bunnies, vistit with his old man crow who drops in during their walks and carry a stick around in his mouth. There are huge tracts of land on the edge of Cathedral City where a man and his dog can walk without ever seeing another human.
Spent a couple of hours unpacking and bleach wiping three cases of wine. This virus puts a whole new meaning to “bottle flu”! We have one cabinet in the coach where we store wine and it holds about three cases of wine, some beers and hard cider. I also have another hidey hole under the sectional couch that I store all kinds things like seltzer water, cases of black beans (post apocalypse), more beer and now more wine.
Attended a teleconference Board of Trustees meeting for our community. Since the Governor’s shelter in place order, the board has had to make some tough decisions about how to continue the operations of the community while balancing the safety of our staff. Club houses, events, the hair salon, the poolside coffee bar, the Bar, satellite pool restrooms…all closed. Essential services remain as does our access to sports courts and the golf courses. I know, all first world problems is what you are thinking but these types of decisions are happening all around the world. Peoples livelyhoods are hanging in the balance. We are personally grateful to be in this community right now and the remaining owners would be happy to do whatever it takes to keep our little oasis functional.
Played three kick-ass games of pickleball. Bleach wiped all the equipment and the chairs I sat in – which were 6 feet from the other players FYI.
Had a glass or two of wine with friends on our patio as yes, wait for it, we sat 6 feet apart.
Chatted with a girl friend in Mexico. Our counties are going through very similar poor Presidential crisis leadership. Seems their State Governors are left to make all the decisions as well and plead for resources.
Fixed carne asada tacos, black beans (cause we got a case of them) and a spicy southwest slaw for dinner.
Wrote this blog post and edited pictures.
Frig is still full…not sure what I am making for dinner tomorrow…but its gotta included some of the fresh veggies we have stockpiled. By far our most mellow day but so far, so good for day four. Hope all of you are healthy and sane…I love hearing from everyone so please leave a comment and let us know how you are surviving in these crazy times.
Driving down Hwy 111 after our hike this morning was surreal. Very few cars on the road, a bit like Christmas but some retail store and grocery stores were open. I can’t help but think of the financial impact this virus will have on people in our small valley and all over the world. So many small store fronts shuttered, closed up tight, shades drawn. I suspect there are so many of these small business that will never reopen.
What seems to be thriving are fast food restaurants. By 11:30 there were lines starting at many we passed by. I have mixed feeling about restaurants being open and the people it puts at risk. Is the need for a paycheck going to outweigh the risk of becoming sick or passing the virus to unsuspecting patrons.
So here is how day three of our sheltering in place went…
Hiked the Araby Trail with friends Katie and Dean today. This heavily trafficked out and back trail took these hikers up a 900 ft elevation gain less than half way through the 3 mile hike. Yep, I was sweating and huffing a bit but the payoff was great views of the valley and a chance to check out the house built for Bob Hope in 1979. This 23,000-square-foot house is legendary for its unusual design and it is certainly is a architecture marvel. The vast copper roof slopes upward from three points to meet at a crater-like circular skylight opening over the home’s spacious interior terrace. Wedged between each of the three slopes is a massive rounded concrete shell-like arch hanging over the home’s three entrances and patios, each with enormous glass windows that provide spectacular views of the Coachella Valley, city of Palm Springs, and San Jacinto Mountains.
Spent some time on the patio fertilizing all the new plants we had put in January, my flowers and herb pots. Got my gardening fix!!!
Fixed a caprese and white bean salad to take to the first meeting of the Quarantini Club.
Had virtual happy hour with a friend in Palm Springs who is in the high risk group.
Joined in the fun at the first meeting of the Quarantini Club…Four couples from our “compound” met at the pool pergola for drinks and snackies. Each couple sat at a different table at least 6 feet apart. It was a fun first meeting and we all gotta thank Cindy for providing the buffs to help keep everyone safe!
Wrote this blog post and edited pictures.
Frig is still full and there is some carne asada marinating for dinner tomorrow…so far, so good for day three. Hope all of you are healthy and sane…I love hearing from everyone so please don’t forget leave a comment occasionally!!!
Not sure why I am subjecting myself to reading the news or responding to social media posts from people I actually know who can’t seem to fact check. Not sure which is more aggravating. Yep, going on a rant right out of the gate here.
So honestly most of my day was down right pleasant, despite all the crappy news but the lack of fact checking that is rampant all over social media is making me crazy. Do people (A) just like to stir the pot, (B) spread fear, (C) display their ignorant or (D) they are just unclear about the effects of what they say on social media??? All four options are perfectly viable but I suspect I will never know what is lurking in many peoples gray matter. Okay, rant over…
So here is how my day two of our sheltering in place went…
Spent the morning at two local stores looking for yeast…why yeast you may ask??? Well, we had a hankering to fire up the UNI pizza oven and damned if you don’t need yeast to make pizza dough. Unfortunately, I had the realization that I had none at 11 pm the night before and had already invited a couple of friends over to make pizza. I expected the TP and PT isle to look just like the picture below but not the baking isle. Guess all the TP hoarders are home baking bread too. I spotted Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Crust mix at the first store I went to and grabbed both bags after I read it included a package of yeast. Score… well, now wait a minute.. It is a gluten free pizza dough mix. No wonder there are still two packages available. Isn’t pizza dough and gluten an oxymoron??? Bought it anyway to hedge my bets …
Made pizza dough with my newly acquired yeast sans the gluten free mix. Spent the morning happily prepping ingredients for pizza, shredding cheese in my food processor and caramelizing onions.
Text cooked with my BFF Leslie…She loves to bake and is damn good at it. I know she never runs it of yeast! Her morning was spent making bread and shopping in her freezer too.
Vacuumed a small gray cat’s worth of hair out of our bedroom and our hepa air filter. I love our kitty Sucia but wow can she put down the hair.
Chatted with a dear friend on the phone. He just arrived at his place in Palm Springs. We debated if we should see each other, he is in the high risk category, or if we should just do virtual happy hours for awhile. This is just so hard…
Had three friends from the “compound” over for happy hour and pizza on the patio. It’s fairly easy to keep proper social distancing outside. Everyone enjoyed making their own pizza and Wally cooked them in our UNI pizza oven. Not too worried about germs after the ingredients go into the 700 degree oven!
Wrote this blog post and edited pictures.
Frig is still full and there is now yeast in the pantry…so far, so good for day two. Hope all of you are healthy and sane…I love hearing from everyone so please don’t forget leave a comment occasionally!!!
We have all been living in uncertain times these past few weeks as a worldwide pan epidemic unfolds. I would be lying to say I was a bit nonplussed when the novel coronavirus COVID-19 news starting capturing headlines. Surely its just anther flu bug, I got a flu shot, I will be okay.
Apathy turned to denial to uncertainly to a genuine fear that this isn’t just the flu and there is much more at stake than that. When this deadly novel virus reared its ugly head and exploded to life in Kirkland Washington just a little over 76 miles from where we spend our summers, I watched it unfold with horror.
Fast forward four weeks and the grim reality is this is really happening. A week ago Wally and I decided to stay put here in the Coachella Valley at our winter digs at the Outdoor Resort Palm Springs and limit our outings to hopefully help flatten the curve of the his deadly, growing virus.
So last night, when the Governor of California ordered the entire state to shelter in place to flatten the curve of the coronavirus we were prepared to do just that. Scared, yes a bit… not so much for myself or Wally but other people who are near and dear to us, all the folks who may have health issues, scared for all the selfless medical professionals who are putting their lives at risk treating all the victims, and really worried that our polarized US leadership isn’t up to the battle.
Writing eases my fears, getting thoughts or in this case maybe ramblings out of my head feels good right now so I decided to start a COVID-19 sheltering in place (SIP) diary. Virusapocalypse …maybe, maybe not, I am hopeful it will not be but hey, I am only a writer not a fortune teller.
So here is how day one of our sheltering in place went…
Spent the morning flying over the Coachella Valley, the Salton Sea and the San Andreas Fault with the our good friends John and Kristen Damazio in their plane Valentina. We had planned this outing long before the SIP order came down and we were actually playing cards together when we heard the Governor’s order. Debated not going but honestly we came in contact with no one, other than each other and we have already spent copious amounts of time together.
Went through the drive through at Burger King for some lunch…I know, not our usual healthy eating habits but what the hell these are unusual times!
Helped some friends (older and immune compromised) get packed so they can head back to MN tomorrow. It’s amazing the sense of community we have here at ORPS and what a small group of us got done in just a few hours. Lots of air hugs …Safe travels Diana and Dick!!!
Played pickleball (6 ft social distancing of course). Our hard working Board of Directors here at ORPS had given the go-ahead for pickleball, tennis and golf to remain available to the owners. YAY… so easy to social distance, get some exercise and safely be around friends. We were all careful to disinfect our balls (pickleballs people) and paddles after play. Thinking our hygiene habits are going to change for the better from all of this!
Relaxed on the patio with Wally And Bentley…fresh grapefruit juice and gin drinkies.
Chatted with my Mom on the phone, had to explain to her again why I can’t drive over and take her to lunch at The Cracker Barrel. Its kinda funny, annoying and sad as I see her cognitively decline. Over the last few weeks, I have hired more help for her and feel relieved knowing someone is checking in on her twice a day.
Foraged in the freezer, frig and panty to come up with ingredients for a seafood paella. Found some spot shrimp we caught in the San Juans last year, a nice piece of mahi-mahi, frozen homemade chicken broth, fresh asparagus, peppers, onion and garlic – yeah baby!!!
Wrote this blog post and edited pictures.
Frig is full…so far, so good for day one. Hope all of you are healthy and sane…I love hearing from everyone so please don’t forget leave a comment occasionally!!!
I have taken a bit of a winter siesta from blogging. Honestly, I have started several posts but haven’t been inspired to finish them. Not sure why as our winter in Palm Springs has been great, filled with loads of activities like concerts, comedy nights, hiking, pickleball and numerous guests.
We have made loads of travel plans for the spring and summer…Canada, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado. Life is good…
And now the reality check…no one expected the craziness that has ensued on a global level. Here at our winter digs in Palm Springs it is becoming very, very quiet. Most of our Canadian friends left early as they may have time or insurance restrictions. Some of our American friends have also headed for home but many are staying put here in the sunny desert.
The Road House crew is also staying put. We had plans to head to Portland Oregon then on to Ancortes Washington in mid April. Our plan WAS to provision the boat for a month and cruise north to Princess Louisa Inlet.
Again, reality check…the Seattle area is besieged with Coronavirus and in Ancortes most non-essential businesses are shutdown, the downtown area is a ghost town and oh yeah, it’s COLD there. Given everything that is going on, it was an easy decision to stay put and hopefully help flatten the curve.
While Palm Springs proper has shut down except for essential services we feel comfortable here in our RV Resort aka the “compound”. All of our scheduled events and activities were cancelled last week but the golf courses, pickleball center, pools and spas are open so again…life is good!
Until we are asked to shelter in place, we still plan to go hiking, biking, play pickleball and see friends outside in very small groups. We are definitely limiting our exposure outside of the resort but have ventured out for essentials. Trying to utilize online ordering but so far all I have received is 4 bottles of wine…LOL! Costco and Ralph’s are scheduled to deliver tomorrow. It’s going to be a bit like opening birthday presents!
There has definitely been panic shopping going on here too and some households in the Coachella Valley have way to much TP.
Reality check people… what really frustrates me about this is the ripple down effect. My mother is basically a shut in and relies on me to do her online ordering for all of her basic necessities. Guess what, not happening right now. All of the stores I online order from have made basic necessities like TP only available on a walk in basis. Not happening for my mother…way to go people…could you wipe twice…once for her???
Ok, venting over, but seriously…these are interesting times and humans can be incredible selfish. Thankfully, I have seen the other extreme happening, friends and neighbors coming together to help each other. We have several older folks who live here in our resort full time who have limited mobility or are self isolating. This community is helping them with grocery shopping, dropping off books or magazines, etc. Personally, I have had offers from friends all over the US to help my mother, mail their own supplies to her or go check on her. Thank you friends and neighbors, your simple acts of kindness are keeping my faith in humanity from a complete flush down the toilet…sans the TP!!!
So for now, we are healthy and mostly sane. Hoping you all are too.
WOW, the third anniversary of Our38ftlife was December 12th and this is our fourth winter on the road. Change seems to be constant and this last year brought a new coach, a golf cart and now a lot remodel in Palm Springs. Life is good and we are still really loving this new chapter of our lives.
So technically, we aren’t really on the road right now and have settled into our winter digs in Palm Springs. While some may not consider us “full timers”, we don’t live in a house, we travel/live in a 43 foot motor coach and a boat. Our first two winters, we moved around a lot, mostly in the SW and California but found that to be exhausting. We are part of the group of folks who like to sit longer in one place and not move every few days. That is a lifestyle choice for sure and when you undertake this lifestyle you don’t know what you don’t know!
We also didn’t realize that we would miss that sense of community that you have when you are in a S&B house. However, the great thing our current chapter is that we are the authors so we can change the direction of the plot anytime!
We had a better idea after our second year how we liked to “full time”. Summer on the boat with part of that time hanging around Anacortes Washington. Fall traveling in the coach with short hops of less than 250 miles and a few days to a week in each place. Winter in one place in the coach – for now thats the Outdoor Resort Resort Palm Springs. Spring we travel again for a couple of months, again short hops with stays up to a week. This next summer we are going to mix it up and travel to Alaska in the coach.
Yep, 2020 will be an interesting summer as we caravan to Alaska with a RV group. The trip officially starts in Great Fall Montana and will end in Prince George BC. We will cover over 5,700 miles in 63 days seeing the Calgary Stampede to Denali National Park and so much in between. We have never done a RV tour with a group but we have three other couples we know who are going as well so I have a feeling we will have a ball!
That will mean less time on the Beach House as we want to spend time in Wyoming and Colorado in the fall. The New Road House is going to get some miles put on her for sure!
For now, we are 6 weeks into our winter stay in Palm Springs and have been enjoying catching up with friends here at the Outdoor Resort and in Palm Springs. Comedy shows, concerts, checking out new restaurants, a trip to AZ in the coach, pickleball, copious happy hours and a lot remodel. Yep, we haven’t been bored, that’s for sure!
The 38ftlife Crew wishes you much happiness, joy and good health in the New Year.
The Road House rolled out of Ancortes Washington under bright, clear skies headed for Portland Oregon. The water in Padilla Bay sparkled as we rounded the corner on Hwy 20. I will miss the Beach House and all of our friends in Ancortes but it was exciting to finally hit the road in our new coach.
Our winter destination was Palm Springs but we planned to take a month to get there. Sure we could dead head, put the petal to the metal and get there in 4-5 days but why? Highways and byways can be a lot more fun for exploring rather than staying on the major interstates like I5.
Our first and longest stop was Portland. We haven’t done a stop over there since May of 2018 and then we only stayed 5 nights. Pheasant Ridge RV Resort was our home for the two week visit and we found the location in Wilsonville to be better than expected despite the horrific traffic that has entangled the city of Portland. This pretty little 45 acre resort is not only incredibly dog friendly (the doggies have their own laundry room) but has great amenities which include paved full hookup, pull-thru and back-in sites, onsite grocery, L.P. gas, indoor pool and spa, Wi-Fi (wireless Internet access throughout park) and much more.
The fall colors in Portland were spectacular… the city was ablaze with deep golds, reds and brilliant oranges. It was great catching up with longtime friends and our dance ticket was full every day. Late nights and bountiful bottles of wine left me in need of some serious sleep-in time. Not only that but 5 of those nights I spent in Austin with a friend I haven’t seen in 8 years….more on that later!
I spent my birthday with our good friend Deb and my favorite husband! We couldn’t have had a more perfect day together… picnic lunch, hiking the Trail of 11 Falls at Silver Falls State Park, a gorgeous sunset and a fabulous dinner together. Blackened Hangar Steak, Chanterelle Mushroom Barley Risotto made with duck bone broth (thank you Sharon Harmon), Arugula Pomegranate Salad and a amazing Almond Cake for dessert. Thanks Deb for taking a day off work to hang with us and make my birthday so special!
From Portland, we headed to Eugene for two nights to spend time with dear friends and our god daughter Lucie who has just turned 21!!! It was family and alumni weekend at the University of Oregon so the town was abuzz. We were treated to a pre-game party and great seats in a box for the Ducks vs Cougars game – Thanks Brent and Wendy for a fun weekend!
Next stop was Medford for one night where we honestly just did laundry, went for a walk and ran some errands. I will say the Southern Oregon RV Park at the expo is a great stopover. Just three years old, the landscape has really matured since our first visit and the access to the 20 mile bike/running/walking trail between Medford and Ashland is a bonus.
Our plan was originally to go to Bend Oregon, spend a few days then head towards south on Hwy 97 and catch Hwy 395 which follows the Sierra Nevada’s. The stopover in Eugene, kinda put Bend off the itinerary as we had a deadline to be in Palm Springs by the 6th. Crapola, why would we have a deadline – we are retired right? Well, tickets to see comedian Wayne Brady with friends in Palm Springs were on the calendar so there ya go!
Weather was a concern on the Hwy 395 route as it is getting close to snow season but all the fires in Southern California definitely had us wanting to avoid I5 and the LA basin. As luck would have it, Mother Nature has been withholding rain so the route down the Sierra Nevada’s looked just fine. Not sure how lucky this was/is for Southern Cal – rain is much needed for sure.
Our next planned stop was in Shingletown California as it was close to Lassen Volcanic National Park which has been on our list of places to see and hike. I didn’t make any reservations once we left Eugene as I just didn’t know if the weather would hold. Turns out that was probably a good thing. The KOA we had planned to stay in had no electricity due to the massive PG&E shutdowns. High winds were expected again and the worries of lines sparking fires led to power being turned off all across parts of California.
We can survive with out power as we have a generator but knowing how damn cold it was going to be at night, we decided that while we could run the generator to charge up the batteries neither of us wanted to have it running off and on all night to power our furnace. Thankfully, the Premier RV Resort in Redding had open sites and they aren’t part of the PG&E grid so power wasn’t an issue there. Also, we could still make our day trip to Lassen National Park from there.
Redding is a nice town with loads of outdoor activities, good restaurants and plenty of services. Unfortunately, the rampant homeless/opioid issues are holding the city hostage according to some locals we talked to. This seems to be the number one issue we see and hear about in our travels. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any easy solutions.
Lassen Volcanic National Park was spectacular albeit a bit windy but that didn’t detour us from our day trip. It was a picture perfect day for the scenic 30 mile drive through the park. We had planned to renew our annual National Park Pass at the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center but when we arrived it was open but there was no power so no monies could be accepted. The rangers gave us some maps and said “just renew your pass at the next park you visit”. SCORE…so technically admission was free but unfortunately the visitors center audio and media shows weren’t operating and the museum and discovery center at the other end of the park were closed too.
Oh well, despite the wind we really wanted to do some hiking and one trail that caught our attention was Bumpass Hell.
Yep, that really was the trail name and it turned out to be the highlight of the day. Bumpass Hell Basin is the largest hydrothermal area in the park and marks the principal area of upflow of steams and discharge from the Lassen hydrothermal system. The temperature of high-velocity steam jetting from Big Boiler, the largest fumarole in the park, has been measured as high as 322°F, making it one of the hottest fumaroles in the world. A board walk that takes you through boiling, hissing, steaming pots of sulfuric mud…oh, hell yeah we wanted to see that.
Distance wise the the trail was a easy 3 miles round trip but personally I was muttering “kickass hell” under my breath for parts of the hike that had elevation gain … my ocean level body wasn’t used to hiking at over 7,000 feet. The unworldly basin much like parts of Yellowstone National Park was worth the grunt in the wind…glad I had a hat and gloves.
Picnicking on a windy, 40 degree day isn’t for the faint of heart but we found a sunny area out of the wind where we could enjoy our lunch. Bentley had accompanied us on the driving tour but like all National Parks he was relegated to parking lots …well, and this picnic area. Honestly, we maybe saw a dozen people all day so who was going to tattle if he was laying in the sun by our picnic table.
Awesome day trip from Redding and only 144 miles round trip. I would love to go back and hike some more of the back country but really if you only have a day – do the driving tour and the Kickass Hell, Oops I meant the Bumpass Hell hike.
From Redding we headed east on Hwy 44 toward Susanville California where we picked up Hwy 395. There were some steep grades – 9% was the steepest but the new Road House handled them with ease. With six gears in the heavy duty Allision Transmission and the two stage Jake brake, windy hilly highways don’t bother my driver a bit! We were mostly driving on beautiful two lane highway with hardly another car on the road.
Our next stop for three nights was the Carson City area. We ended up at a small, “boutique” RV park near Dayton that had full hooks ups so we could catch up in laundry. Small and cramped must be there definition of boutique but at least it was really quiet at night. Next time we do this route, I will definitely try to get into the Washoe State Park Campground. Situated on the edge of Washoe Lake, with hiking trails and a great wetlands area this campground is a winner.
After being on the road all day, we decided dinner out was in order and we really enjoyed the San Marco’s Grill in Carson City. Great Mexican food, not your typical big plate of bland beans and rice plus the margaritas were da’bomb!
After a good sleep in and lazy morning, Virginia City was our first stop for the day. Like many cities and towns in Nevada, Virginia City was a mining boomtown that developed virtually overnight as a result of miners rushing to the Comstock Lode silver strike of 1859. The riches of the Comstock Lode inspired men to hunt for silver mines throughout Nevada and other parts of the American West.
Once a booming town of 25,000, prospectors from all over the world funneled their millions back into the town by building mansions, hospitals, churches, opera houses and schools. They imported furniture, fashions and entertainment from Europe and the Orient.
With more than 100 mines in the Comstock area, seven million tons of silver ore were produced – equating to more than $600 million in both silver and gold in today’s money. Among many things, this money helped to build San Francisco to what it is today as well as finance the Union in the Civil War.
Today mining for silver is a thing of the past in Virginia City but the town is well preserved and well worth an afternoon of exploration. I will say that we were lucky as it is off season and I suspect that Virginia City could be a zoo in the summer months.
After a very sad lunch at the Red Dog Saloon (highly rated but seriously crappy food), we continued on our loop back toward Carson City. Washoe State Park was on the agenda for a good walk in the wetlands preservation area. We knew it was too late in the season to see many of the migratory birds that fly through but we thought we would recon and check out Washoe State Park anyway.
I was surprised to learn that the number of recorded bird species visiting, breeding, or living in the state of Nevada is a whopping 488. During the spring and fall, hundreds of thousands of those birds following the north-to-south path from Alaska to Patagonia—the Pacific Flyway—can be seen throughout the Silver State. However, Nevada is rarely on a birder’s bucket list. In fact, according to the Great Basin Bird Observatory, a nonprofit science-based organization, Nevada is one of the most under-birded areas in the country.
The Washoe wetlands are also an Audubon-designated Important Bird Area (IBA). This classification is used to “identify, monitor, and protect the most important places for birds” according to Audubon’s website. Dangola, guess we need to come back through here in the spring.
Another reason for the stop in Carson City was the close proximity to Lake Tahoe. No snow, meant all the roads around the lake were open. This gorgeous freshwater lake is the largest alpine lake in North American. Lying at 6,225 ft, it straddles the state line between California and Nevada, west of Carson City. Casino’s dot the Nevada side and there are two major ski areas.
The lake was formed about two million years ago as part of the Lake Tahoe Basin, with the modern extent being shaped during the ice ages. It is known for the clarity of its water, cobalt in color and the panorama of surrounding mountains on all sides. More than 75% of the lake’s watershed is national forest land, so camping and hiking opportunities abound in this area. Since we were visiting in off season, most of the campgrounds were closed despite the fact there was no new snow.
We spent the day driving the 72 mile loop around the lake and also took a side trip to Truckee, the Donner Pass Memorial and Donner Lake. Post card perfect weather made this a spectacular day to be on a drive. Bentley frolicked in the Truckee River and at Donner Lake…he would have been happy to spend the whole day there.
We did a short hike to Upper Kings Falls near Emerald Bay and had a great lunch at the Fire Sign Café near Tahoe City. The only disappointment was that the Heaven Valley Gondola was closed – WAHHH, the views would have been amazing. We did however really enjoy a stopover at Sand Harbor (no dogs allowed, how rude). There is a great walking path and beautiful rock boulder formations at this end of the lake.
There are no shortage of things to do or see in Lake Tahoe and if you are a casino lover, well you might never make it outside to see anything.
Our three days in the Carson City area flew by and soon it was time to hit the road again. Our next stopover was Mammoth Lakes and the drive between Cason City and Mammoth was spectacular. Late fall colors, beautiful blue lakes and towering mountains make this portion of the drive my favorite. Only one crazy deer almost ended its life by bounding out in front of our 48,000 lbs coach. Luckily, it saw us and changed course at the last minute. CARDIO BLAST for both of us and I bet the deer might have dropped a load of pellets too!
Mammoth Mountain RV Park was our home for the two day stopover. After a frustrating time initially trying to get parked in the treed campground, we eventually got settled into the spacious site under the towering pine trees. Again, since it was off season we were lucky to find any place to stay but the upside was this “resort” was virtually empty. The sites are much like being in a state or national park, except there are full hook ups and a big price tag. At $75 per night, I would say they think highly of the place. No off season rates here or any discounts like most RV parks or resorts. Oh well, the area was worth the visit and in addition to all the scenic beauty, Mammoth has great restaurants.
Our splurge meal was at the Mammoth Rock Brasserie…a well rated restaurant situated over the bowling alley. There were plenty of great restaurant choices but the menu caught my eye as did the funky location with the spectacular views of the Sherwin Range and Mammoth Mountain. The website noted that they did NOT offer a children’s menu and expected any children in the restaurant to be well behaved, to stay in their seats and to keep their voices to a normal speaking level. If a child is being loud or disruptive, they expect parents to instruct their children to act appropriately. AMEN to that I say.
We booked an early dinner reservation to take advantage of the views and were not disappointed. A gin martini and Ahi Poke tower to start. Our entrees were delicious and the wine list was first class. The restaurant was on the second floor of a newish, modern mountain building which you would never know housed a bowling alley and fine dining restaurant when you pull into the parking lot. I am also happy to report that there wasn’t a child to be seen or heard…guess all the other patrons took the website warning to heart!!!
After another well deserved sleep in day, we spent the day hiking at Convict Lake and touring the surrounding alpine lakes. There are a plethora of places to hike in this region but Convict Lake struck our fancy because the trail is a 3 mile loop around the lake, is relatively flat (no kickass hell here) which was important since the elevation was 8,438 feet. Plus it has cool history and spectacular views of the mountains. If you are an angler, bring a rod and reel as this lake is stocked with trout. As a matter of fact, bring your fishing gear and a kayak…so many places to use both around this basin. Curious how Convict Lake got its name? Click on the hyperlink and read on!
This trail can be really busy in peak season but on our sunny Sunday hike we saw far more people fishing than hiking. After a pleasant, easy hike complete with bald eagle sightings and fish jumping in the lake, we headed further up into the mountains to check out Lake Mary and Lake George. There is a great bike path and plenty of options to get off road or golf in this area as well. Of course, there is a the ski mountain…and we had a Good giggle recalling a weekend we spent in Mammoth with friends Eric and Carol many moons ago. We went to ski and ski we did but what we really remember is the Spanish Coffee induced clogging and craziness that happened one evening. I am pretty sure we didn’t ski the next day…or did we???
The Mammoth Lakes Basin is so diverse that it really deserves a longer stop over. One could tour Yosemite National Park from here but we opted not to try to do just a day drive to this massive national park. A return trip in the late spring to this area might just be on the agenda.
Our last stop on the souther migration was merely a place to park and sleep. Mammoth Lake to Palm Springs is about 345 miles, totally doable but makes for a long day. We didn’t want to roll in after dark and have to get set up so we opted to spend the night in nowhere Ridgecrest CA.
$22.50 got us a self registration, full hookup and pull thought site with easy access off Hwy 395. After a tour of Ridgecrest we were in total agreement that this wasn’t a town to put on our “future paces to live someday” list. The Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake is the reason this nowhere desert town exists.
China Lake is the United States Navy’s largest single landholding, representing 85% of the Navy’s land for weapons and armaments research, development, acquisition, testing and evaluation use and 38% of the Navy’s land holdings worldwide. In total, its two ranges and main site cover more than 1,100,000 acres, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island. Well, that explains why a newish city of 27,000 plus people is thriving out in the middle of nowhere.
The last 150 miles of our southern migration was uneventful desert driving on mostly two lane Hwy 395. The last stretch merged onto to Hwy 15 in Victorville where we dropped down into the San Bernadino Valley. Did I say uneventful..well yes, uneventful, until the front shade came unscrewed on the passenger side and dropped down obscuring the windshield. Of course that happen right as we were merging onto busy Hwy 15 but thankfully before were were headed down Cajon Pass. As luck would have it, we were able to safely pull over and engineer a temporary fix with gorilla tape and a mop handle.
We rolled into The Outdoor Resort Palm Springs in the early afternoon. Home again, home again!!!
What a awesome road trip in the new Road House, Hwy 395 is a great alternative to I5. We will definitely travel this route again and that my friends is no BS!