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Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Setup......

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8:09 am - Sunday - 45º F, 44% humidity, wind - CALM.....clear blue skies from horizon to horizon.  Forecast high is 63º F......beginning to get warmer.....heading toward 70º F later in the week!

For me Saturday was a day off from paid work, but not from work......there is still plenty of work to be done getting our site ready for summer enjoyment.  I had two goals in mind for Saturday and I was able to completely accomplish one, and about 80% the other.  Before TLE went to work she and I pulled out our triangular 'sail sun shades' and laid them out on the ground to see how we could deploy them for maximum shade effect in our site.......once the sun reaches its zenith this summer we will be getting a lot more sun, and nothing like the present to prepare for that eventuality.  Once we had agreed on how to deploy them, and where, it fell to me to execute the plan, and execute I did.

First I had to figure out what materials I needed that I did not already have on site, then I had to acquire those things......I needed some heavy duty carabiners, some 'eye' bolts, and two 10' x 4" x 4" posts, and a post hole digger.....the posts as well as a post hole digger we had on site, but the carabiners and 'eye' bolts I had to drive over to Scotty's Tru Value Hardware to acquire.  

The 'sail' over our picnic table

After returning from Scotty's and having already hauled the 4" x 4" posts over to our site I got busy digging two post holes, then erecting and setting the posts in their respective holes, then hanging the 'sail sun shades'.....I think it came out rather well.....I still have one more 'sail' to hang, but we're getting there.

The 'sail' hanging over the rear of our site to block that afternoon sun

The second goal was to install a snow fence running from rear of site 425 to to the rear of site 430 (all employee sites) to separate them from the sites behind them so customers would not be  taking shortcuts through our sites all summer as they did last year.  That is approximately 250' of fencing, but part of that I had done last year.  The remainder to complete the fence, and fill in all the gaps was about 150' and we had all of that material on hand.

 The snow fence between site 425 and 426 (ours)

The snow fencing between sites 427 and 430........note that all the snow in site 429 (picnic table to the left)  is now melted

The same table a week ago

In all I worked steadily from 10 am until 5 pm and was quite happy with how much I was able to accomplish.......by Sunday afternoon we should be ready for the summer, and that is a good thing as starting Monday, May 1st, we begin our season with employee orientation and we will probably be working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week the rest of May to get the campground ready for  the Memorial Day onslaught.

We were just getting ready to have a fire, when I got a call from Victor around 5:30 that one of our customers needed the cable TV line checked at their site......as it turned out it was missing the coaxial female connector, so I replaced it and restored his TV service.  I returned to our site about 30 minutes later to find the fire was at our next door neighbor's (Christina) site, and a number of our new employees had gathered to get acquainted.  We sat telling our individual stories for about an hour before TLE and I bid them adieu and headed inside for the night.....I had not eaten since about 9 am that morning and was famished, and very tired.   

Saturday was a good day, and I am looking forward to finishing our site setup on Sunday.  We have been here one week exactly, but it feels like two....we have gotten a lot accomplished, but have a long ways to go yet.

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Pining for Spring.....

6:42 am - Saturday - 28º F, 59% humidity, wind - CALM.....clear blue skies......forecast high 57º F.....another clear, chilly day in SLT.

TLE and I both reported for work at 10 am Friday to work our five hours.  Once the summer season gets into full swing Fridays will become very important days, but right now with just under 10% occupancy, and 2-4 arrivals per day things are pretty slow in the office, and in the park.  There is, however, a lot of preparatory work to be done before it gets busy.  There are things which must be done now before the Summer rush begins, or they will not get done at all.  Normally TLE and I would be starting around 7:30 am, but for me it's just too cold at 7:30 to do anything outside.....even at 10 it is still pretty cold, and that is how Friday was......the high temp was 50º F, and that was at 3 pm when I finished my workday!

I had many plans for my Friday, but none of them came to fruition......I wanted to spend more time on planning the fence we will build in the Group Section, plus attending to some more existing fence repairs, but I spent time carting cardboard from the store to the maintenance yard to be burned, then burning it (there goes an hour), greeting our arriving seasonal workampers, showing them to their sites, answering many questions, and then bringing rakes, ladders, and portable fire pits to their sites to they could get their sites organized.  So far, including ourselves, we have had 7 workamper RV's arrive in the past 5 days, with many more to arrive Saturday and Sunday for our first employee orientation meetings on Monday, May 1st.

When I wasn't escorting folks to their sites, I was raking sites for arriving retail customers......the first 'rake' of the season is always the hardest as the pine needle accumulation over the Fall and Winter is usually significant, and with this past Winter's way above average snow and rain it is even heavier than normal.....once all 406 sites have been raked the first time, it will just be a matter of maintaining them the rest of the summer.  My five hours flew by and it was time to head for the barn.  

Just as I was wrapping up my work day I saw my cousin Lois and her husband John drive into the park for a visit.  They live in Sparks, NV.....about an hour's drive from TVC, and have been thinking about bringing their 5th wheel up here this summer to camp, so they wanted to get the 'lay of the land' here at TVC.  We chatted for about 30 minutes and they were on their way back to Sparks.  By 4 pm the temperature was getting noticeably colder....I checked the weather on my phone and it was already under 40º F.

TLE was home about the same time I was, and we both changed clothes and began to let the tension of the day ooze away.....about 5 pm I turned on the Sea-B-Que in preparation for the grilling of carne asada.....I had to bundle up just to stand outside by the BBQ for the 10 minutes it takes to grill the meat.......very, very cold!  I was thinking about how nice it would be if it just warmed up enough to feel like Spring......Summer seems so distant right now.....:-)

I spent time watching NBA playoff games.....there were three interesting games on Friday night, and now most of the first round series have concluded, so it is on to the second round where things become much more interesting.

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Here they come!

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6:30 am - Friday - 28º F (BRRRR!!!), 87% humidity, wind - CALM......clear blue skies from horizon to horizon.....sun just beginning to peek over the eastern mountains.....forecast high for today is 48º F.....again.....BRRRR!!!

I rode my mountain bike (Intense 5.5) for the first time in months Thursday.....well, I rode it to work, anyway.  It's a long walk from our site all the way to the Maintenance Yard.....probably close to one third of a mile.  I usually store my bike in the cart shed during the day, and I really appreciate it being there at the end of a long day to whisk me home and a hot shower.  At any rate, I 'clocked' in around 10 am, and worked steadily on various projects.  

First up was to begin to prepare to build another wood pole fence....this time in the Group Area.....we are dividing that area into two distinct Group Campsites, and the fence will create the boundary between them.  In all it will be about 200' long, so I need to gather together the materials necessary to build it.  Over the past two years we have cut a lot of young lodgpole pines that were dead, or dying due to the drought.....they are ideal for building a pole fence, and they are in good supply right now.  Additionally, I will need a 100' feet of threaded rod to bind them all together.  By the time I had my materials list finished it was time to attend our first department head meeting of the summer where we spent an hour going over the management structure for this summer, as well as our goals for TVC.

We were done with our meeting by noon time and it was back to Section F for me to fix a pole fence, and to reinstall a sewer vent pipe which had fallen down during the winter.  After finishing the repair of the vent pipe I decided t head over to Section E and fix another pole fence I had noticed needed help on my way into work that morning.  While I was at it I repaired the snow fencing behind the employee sites which keeps campers from taking shortcuts through our sites.  By the time I finished that last task it was 3 pm, and time for me to clock out.....I'm working 5 hour days right now to kind of ease back into working 8 hours.  I'll take off Saturday and Sunday, and then begin working 8 hour days on Monday.

After clocking out I dropped off the cart in the Maintenance Yard, and pulled my bike out of the shed to ride home.  My work, however, was not done.....we still have a lot of stuff to deploy in our site, and I worked a couple more hours pulling stuff out of the trailer waiting for TLE to return from work so she could help me move a few heavy things like the picnic table.

Beginning to take shape
We are gradually getting acclimated to the elevation and winter like weather, we hope by the end of the weekend we will have finished setting up our site for the summer.  There is a lot to do and the next 4+ weeks will be a whirlwind as we get TVC ready for Memorial Day, and get our summer staff up to speed.  During our winter travels I had the opportunity to meet a few of our recruits in person as our paths crossed, but only a few.  As they begin to trickle into TVC the employee sites in Section E are filling up quickly........

The employee corner is beginning to fill up!
......oh, I almost forgot.....I received my 'Bicycle Trainer' so I can still get in a virtual ride when the weather is too cold, as it is right now....

The bicycle trainer courtesy eBay


......I used it for the first time Thursday morning.....well, that's it.....time to get ready for the workaday world once again.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Old 426.....

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6:32 am - Thursday - 37º F, humidity 33%, wind - CALM......clear blue skies....looking at a familiar view this morning!


Wednesday dawned heavily overcast with a mild threat of rain, and Wednesday was the day we were going to move to our permanent summer site.....# 426......'Old 426' is one of maybe 20-25 sites out of 406 that has a clear view of the southern sky which is important for satellite TV reception.  This will be our fourth consecutive summer in # 426, and this year we were going to setup differently from the prior three years.  I wrote last year about having the old, crumbling concrete picnic table removed along with the old grill, and then leveling the site from front to back after we moved out of our site last October.  Our intent was to park the trailer along the fence line to the rear of our site, and then be able to back the Newell deeper into our site thus putting us right next to the utilities.  In the past I have had to run over 20' of sewer hose in order to connect to the sewer connection, and a 25' fresh water hose to connect to the hose bib.  Of course, the question that is always lurking in the back of my mind....."Will our vision actually work?".....is coming to the forefront as I walk over to the maintenance yard around 9 am to pick up the Case Front Loader which I would use to clear the snow from the outer loop road in Section E.......


......in the interests of full disclosure, this would be my first time operating the Case Front Loader on my own, and my first real experience using it to do actual work......I spent time in the maintenance yard last summer practicing using the loader, but we had a couple of guys to operate it last year, so I never really spent any time using it for TVC business.  All went well, and within an hour I had cleared three major snow fields from the outer loop road enabling us to use that road to drive our Newell in and enter our site from the rear.......

In position, but a few minor tweeks yet to come

......we parked the Newell, initially, at the front of the site so we could pull the trailer in using a pickup truck borrowed from Christina, one of our new employees, whom we had just helped get her trailer into the site next to us.....

Christina's trailer and truck in site # 425

.......I went back to site #167 to pick up the trailer with Christina's Dodge Ram and took the inside loop road in Section E to get it into our site from the front.....all of our concern was for naught.....the trailer fit precisely the way we had envisioned it, and then we moved the Newell back to the utility pedestal......


......next we pulled the tarp off our stockpile of firewood left over from last year, and retrieved our large piece of 'artificial turf'.......we'll move the portable picnic table into a better position as we continue to get setup for the summer.....there is still a lot more to do, but we decided to call it a day, and finish setting up everything Thursday and Friday.

 Once that was done I retrieved the Case Loader to finish removing the old concrete picnic table from site # 427 so Michael and Mary (our activity directors) could move their large Tuscany Class A coach over later in the afternoon.....I used the Loader to pickup the concrete pedestals, and the large redwood planks we salvaged from the table.

By that time it was closing in on 3 pm and time for me to call it a day.  I went back home and did a little more work around our site, which included moving the trailer back a few feet using our 'Trailer Valet' so we could properly extend our patio awning....by that time TLE had returned from work and helped me finish that task.....at last it was time for a long, hot shower, and then time to grill some pollo asado for dinner.....with our new configuration I can watch the NBA playoffs through trailer door while grilling, and smoking the odd cigar.....suweet!


We are falling in love with our new configuration and have a lot of ideas which will come to fruition over the next few days.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The return to 'Workaday'.....

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7:31 am - Wednesday - 44º F, humidity 75%, wind 18 mph out of the south.......there is a slight breeze evident, but nothing in the range of 18 mph....heavy overcast once again, and a chance of rain today.

It was time to go back to work Tuesday morning.......it didn't seem like it had been that long since I last did that, but it has been 6 months.  As we begin our 4th consecutive summer working at Tahoe Valley Campground (hereinafter referred to as 'TVC) in South Lake Tahoe (hereinafter referred to as 'SLT') it feels more like reuniting with an aging girlfriend whose every wrinkle, idiosyncrasy and blemish you know like the back of your hand, but love nonetheless.  But here's the thing......with each passing summer your efforts, and those of your friends and co-workers, are putting a smile back on the old girl making her attractive once again.

I spent a few minutes in the trailer putting together my summer tool bag of essential tools needed to work around TVC.......baby sledge, hammer, channelocks, pliers, vicegrips, screw drivers, impact driver, sockets, tin shears, etc.  I'm sure there are a few tools I have forgotten, but those will become self evident by the end of the day.  Next I walk over to the maintenance yard to pick up a golf cart and then head to the office to see what tasks Miguel has on tap for me.  I'm only going to work 4 hours, and I know the time will go quickly.

My first task is to clear any remaining snow away from the restroom doors in the pool area to allow access so we can get some bids from a local contractor to remodel the, plus put a new roof on the pool buildings......that is easy as most of the snow is gone now.  Next he has me clear a lot of old racks, shelving and brackets off the storeroom shelves which are no longer in use to the janitorial closet to make room for store inventory which is being delivered on a daily basis.

In the middle of moving the old shelving, etc. Michael and Mary Eubank came into the store to complete some more of their employment paperwork.  They had just arrived the day before, and will be our 'Activity Directors' this summer.  I took them down to the Thousand Trails office to show them their office and supplies, and we spent time talking about their plans for the summer.  They are very excited about the challenge, and I'm very sure they will do a great job!

I finished moving all the old stuff from the storeroom by 1 pm, and then Miguel introduced me to our new assistant maintenance manager Jeff and asked me to take him with my on last task of the day which was to begin dismantling a couple of the old concrete picnic tables.....we began with the one in site 427 (right next to ours) and got all the wood unbolted from the two concrete bases by my quitting time (1:30).....we'll pull the concrete out of the ground with the Case 'loader' on Wednesday.  I drove with Jeff back to the Newell where I removed my tools, jacket and gloves from the cart, and turned it over to Jeff for the rest of the day.

My next task was to change clothes and ride my Intense 5.5 back over to site 426 (our site for the summer) to rake the pine needles and pine cones from the site in preparation for our move over there sometime Wednesday.  The only thing preventing us from moving was waiting for the water to be turned on, and that had been done Monday afternoon......

 About half done raking

.......by 4 pm I had the site cleared of all the winter debris and ready for our Wednesday move.  I was back at the Newell by 3:30 and puttering around in the trailer getting ready to move it before retiring for the day.

TLE had purchased a couple of filet mignons for me to grill Tuesday night, and grill them I did.....just as we finished eating Victor dropped by to talk about the coming summer, and to let TLE know she had been approved to begin working prior to May 1st, so she will report on Wednesday afternoon.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Acclimating......

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7:38 am - Tuesday - 33º F, 77% humidity, wind - CALM.....partly cloudy skies today with a forecast high of 55º F.

Our first morning in TVC, Monday, began with snow showers which continued on and off all day long.  The snow never really stuck to the ground, but it did to the VW and our picnic table.......


......around 10 am TLE and I walked over to the office/store to talk with Miguel, our manager, and Victor, our assistant manager for a couple of hours about their plans and philosophy for the summer.  We are very excited about the direction the park is moving under their tutelage.  TLE will not begin working until May 1st as that is when their summer budget begins, however, they got permission for me to work 10 hours per week until May 1st going back to the beginning of the month.  While I was not physically here at TVC on April 1st I have been working all winter on recruiting workampers, and they are acknowledging that by paying me for 10 hours per week the entire month of April.  Of course, now that I am here I will be doing physical work, and there is a lot to do.

We walked back to the coach to get the VW so we could run a few local errands which will always involve a stop at perhaps the nicest Goodwill we have seen.....they refer to this Goodwill as a 'Boutique Goodwill'....all the best items from several surrounding areas are sorted and brought up to this Goodwill.  I found a wonderful parka with a hood, and a new (used) pair of Levis to use for my cold weather work pants this year.....the ones I used last year finally disintegrated just before we left TVC last October (TLE also found a few things she could not live without).  Next we stopped by Higher Ground Autoworx to talk with John (our mechanic) about getting the VW in next week for its annual service, then we stopped by Raley's to do a small shopping before arriving back at the coach around 1 pm.....it continued to rain and snow the rest of the afternoon.

The rest of the afternoon we just relaxed, read, and enjoyed the occasional snow showers....it's going to take me a few days to acclimate back to cooler winter like temperatures after 6 weeks of warm to hot temps going back to Las Vegas, and to being at 6,300' elevation.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Winter again......

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6:49 am - Monday - Elevation 6,300' - South Lake Tahoe, CA - 35º F, humidity, 32%, wind 10 mph out of east northeast......no wind detectable here in TVC.  Heavy overcast with snow showers.....affecting my DirecTV reception!  A light dusting of snow on the car and picnic tables.....not sticking to the ground.

Light dusting of snow this morning

I was awake Sunday before 7 am with the usual "it's moving day" type of thoughts going through my mind.  We woke up to very warm temperatures as you will recall from my intro yesterday.....after waking up to temps in the mid 30's the prior two days it was a surprise.  There was not much to do as we purposely created a small footprint when we arrived at Silver City, and we were not putting the VW back in the trailer for just a 40 mile jaunt up to South Lake Tahoe.

We were ready to roll over to the onsite fuel station around 9:30 am to put another $200 of diesel in the tank at $2.54/gallon which added up to just under 80 gallons putting us just over 3/4's of a full tank....perfect!  Then it was over to the propane station to take on 21 gallons of propane to top off that 60 gallon tank for the summer, and then we were on our way!

Within minutes I was grinding up US-50 towards Spooner Summit which sits at 7,100' elevation........


.......from the intersection of US-50 with US-395 it is 9 miles to Spooner Summit with grades ranging from 5-8% over that distance.....I was able to average about 40 mph over that 9 miles without the car in the trailer, and within 20 minutes I was passing the Summit sign .....shortly thereafter I could see the sign indicating the intersection of US-50 with SR-28 (Nevada) approaching......then  we began the annual plunge into the Tahoe Basin...... 


......a few minutes later my beloved Lake Tahoe came into view.....I still get that same feeling of excitement and anticipation I got the first time I saw that view back in 1953......


.....all along the route there was very little snow still in evidence at lake level, however when we pulled into Tahoe Valley Campground almost 6 months to the day after we left there was a lot of snow on the ground still......


.......Section E, where we usually spend our summer is to the right, and there is no way the Newell is going to be able to traverse that tiny road with so much snow still covering the road.  I parked the Newell and TLE and I walked into the store/office to see our friends from last year, and to meet a few new people.  TLE checked the computer to see what sites were available in Section G, and we settled quickly on site 167, which is where we spent our last month at TVC last year.....it's one of just a few sites in Section G with a view of the southern sky for satellite TV reception.  It looks like we'll be there for at least 10 days until we can get Section E open.

After we got ourselves settled we took a walk over to our site in Section E to find it clear of snow....... 


......so it just remains to get the road cleared of snow enabling us to be able drive the Newell and trailer over there and get set up for the summer.....on the other hand, the sites to the left of our site are still buried in snow.....


.....I had a number of packages awaiting our arrival, and I spent the afternoon opening them, and in once case assembling one of them....


.....I ordered a large Rubbermaid Deck Storage container about 6 weeks ago....it will come in handy this summer to keep some of our outdoor stuff out of the weather when not in use.

Around 4 pm we drove over to Lake Tahoe Pizza for our 4th annual 'Arrival at Tahoe Valley Campground' dinner....we always order the 'Jackpot Pizza' with anchovies.....it is sooooo good.....


.....I still say this is the best pizza place in the Tahoe Basin.....bar none!  We talked fondly about the last three weeks spent meandering our way up the Central Coast of California, and how we had finally gotten a taste of Spring, and how in the last 40 miles we had returned to Winter again.  I have no doubt the next 4-5 weeks will be cold with rain and snow still to come.....as I sign off we are still getting a dusting of snow......yup, it looks more like Winter here at TVC than Spring.

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

An afternoon of conversation......

7:33 am - Sunday - 50º F (that's much warmer than the last two mornings which were in the mid to high 30's!), humidity 38%, wind 5 mph out of the east.....partly cloudy skies great me this morning.  We'll be rolling our wheels in a couple of hours and hope to be at TVC* and hooked up before noon.

We had a lunch date scheduled with my Cousin Lois and her husband John at 11:30 am so I spent some time first thing in the trailer moving a few cargo rings around so that their new positions could be better used in securing the cargo for which they were intended.  Several of them I have wanted to move for months, but just never took the time to move the cargo they were securing out of the way in order to access them and move them to better positions.  It's also been a long time since I took out the throw rugs, shook them, and then vacuumed into some of the deep corners of the trailer that are mostly inaccessible when we are traveling and moving on a regular basis.  Even though we are still moving (until later Sunday) I had just reached that point where all that dirt in the corners, and the poor positioning of some of the cargo rings were really beginning to bug me.

We were meeting Cousin Lois (the daughter of my mother's brother, who will always be Uncle Bob to me) and John at Red's Old 395 Grill near downtown Carson City so we left Silver City RV Park around 11:15 and arrived almost exactly at 11:30 am thanks to us making all but one green light on our way up US-395.  As usual Lois and John were already seated and waiting for us.....I so appreciate punctuality!  We quickly settled into the booth opposite them, and began talking (there was some eating along the way, of course, but on this day the food, as good as it was, seemed a secondary consideration), and talking, and talking.....when I finally looked at my watch it was after 2:30 pm!  And that is the way it usually is with Cousin Lois and John.....we never run out of conversation.  We last saw them for dinner last Fall, I believe.....my uncle Bob, who joined us with his wife Jane, was still alive then, but it was obvious that he was failing, and this past January 5th he passed suddenly in his 89th year.  We weren't able to attend the funeral, or memorial service so Cousin Lois saved me a copy of the program for the service, which she brought with her to lunch....thank you so much Cousin Lois!  I will always remember Uncle Bob's dry sense of humor, the great stories he told, and his devotion to his family.....he was a good man and is missed every day.


We still had some final shopping and a haircut for moi to accomplish so we said our 'until next times', or as Uncle Bob would have said....."See you again, soon!" and got on our way....we stopped first at the local Supercuts where I got a haircut that will, hopefully, last me until we return to Carson City for another resupply mission in a few weeks.  Next up was Trader Joe's and then we were home by 4 pm.  We hadn't really had any exercise Saturday so we decided to make a couple of laps around the park....1.2 miles in all.....we had planned to maybe walk one more lap, but the wind was beginning gust, and TLE does not like walking in the wind, especially when the pollen count is rising.

We spent the evening watching parts of three NBA playoff games.....I don't really get interested in the NBA playoffs until the second round......typically the first round winners are easily predicted....it's the second round when things begin to get interesting for me.

Time to begin putting things away for our 40 mile jaunt to TVC*, and spend the next 4+ months working in one of our favorite places on earth!

Thanks for stopping by!

*TVC = Tahoe Valley Campground

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Being thrifty.....

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7:21 am - Saturday - 38º F, 72% humidity, wind 1 mph out of the west.....clear blue skies with a forecast high of 70º F.

We awoke Friday at high elevation for the first time in months.....we have not been too far from sea level for a long, long time, but now we find ourselves in the northern Sierra Nevadas at 4800' staring at the snow clad mountains surrounding the Lake Tahoe Basin with anticipation of a great summer to come, but first things first.

We always stay near Carson City, NV for 1-3 days prior to grinding up the Spooner Summit grade and into the Tahoe Basin for the summer.  We stock up on Trader Joe's, COSTCO, Target and Walmart supplies, and then do some serious 'junking' looking for an extra coat, pair of shorts, or shirts to be worn this summer.   Typically, when we arrive in South Lake Tahoe is is late April, or early May and the weather at 6,300' elevation this time of year reminds me more of winter than spring......by the end of June it will be nothing but t-shirts, shorts and flip flops on our off days, and by the end of August we will have run our A/C a couple of times.  You need a wardrobe that run the gamut of weather conditions for the next four months, because you will see them all from snow, to rain, to sleet, to fog, to wind, to warm, sunny days without end.

The snow clad mountains surrounding the Tahoe Basin

First up Friday morning, however, was a call from my sister Jill who lives in Michigan near Ann Arbor.  I haven't talked with her in a while, and I know she is struggling with the imminent death of her husband due to a long terminal illness.  We usually talk on the phone while she is taking a walk down a country lane near her home, and she was out early Friday doing just that.  We talked for about 30 minutes.....I was encouraged to hear her infectious laugh throughout our conversation as I tried my best to inject a little humor into her situation, although she seems to be doing very well in spite of the circumstances.  She is a strong woman, and I know she will come through this in good shape.

Next up we removed the VW from the trailer so I could organize it for limited use for the three days we will be in Carson City, and then did my workout whilst TLE did the same inside the Newell.  Around noon time we headed out to visit the numerous thrift stores in the area, and there are many (Goodwill, Salvation Army, Classy Seconds Thrift Shop, A to Zen, Carson Treasures Thrift Store, Reruns, etc.).  By the time we had run through all of them it was after 2 pm and we were both getting famished so we began driving south on Carson Street (the main drag) past the Capital buildings (Carson City is the capital of Nevada)......as we came even with a place called 'The Fox Pub' we both said almost simultaneously, "That's the place for lunch!".....and that is where we ate.  We quickly found a parking spot, and walked inside....it was about 2:15 pm so we were well past the lunch crowd......


.....usually we check Yelp before we walk into any eatery, but we just went on instinct, and were not disappointed.  This place used to be part of a chain called 'Firkin & Fox', but this particular store has separated from that chain and is now called 'The Fox Brewpub', or just 'The Fox'.  Their ratings are still suffering from their past association with 'Firkin & Fox' and their terrible service.  After we were seated I looked them up on Yelp and initially saw most of the recent reviews gave them 4, and 5 stars, but the further back you went you saw a lot of complaints about slow service.  Our experience reflected that of the recent reviewers, and we would be solidly in the 4 star camp.  

I immediately ordered a 20 oz. glass of their High Sierra Brewing Company Irish Red Ale, and TLE a pint of their Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin' (IPA)....we both loved our choices......


.....for lunch I ordered their 'Angry Fish Tacos' which comes with fries and this amazing hot sauce......I dare you to pour all of the hot sauce on your tacos......this is some of the hottest sauce I have ever had, but delicious.......

Irish Red Ale

.......we sat inside even though they had a wonderfully large alfresco dinning area as it was a little chilly to be outside in the shade.  Our service was top notch, and our food, which was served within minutes of our order being placed, was wonderfully fresh and rustic.  As we walked back to our car I was still feeling the heat of that amazing hot sauce......mmmmm!

We stopped off at COSTCO to pick up a bag of San Francisco French Roast coffee beans, and a rottiserie chicken before heading for home where we arrived just after 4 pm......a great first day at elevation.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

And the Jello jiggled......

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7:21 am - Friday - 34º F, humidity 78%, wind 1 mph out of the northeast.......CLEAR BLUE SKIES from horizon to horizon......we are not in 'Kansas' anymore, and we are definitely not in 'Coastal California' anymore......elevation is 4,500'.  Forecast high for today is 67º F.....no rain, or snow in the forecast.

Thursday our plan was to be rolling our wheels eastward by 9:30-10 am.....we had sort of a complicated getaway plan, and when things get too complicated Mr. Jello begins to jiggle and giggle.....and giggle he did.  

Our first order of business was to drive the coach over to a local fuel station to pour in $200 worth of diesel......the needle on our gauge was right on the 'E' when we exited SR-101 in Petaluma on Monday.  Now, when the needle is on the 'E' that does not mean we are out of diesel, or even close......we usually have 10-20 gallons left in our 180 capacity tank.....nonetheless, once that needle hits 'E' we are looking for a fuel station.  Normally, I am always looking for a good deal on diesel when the needle gets past 1/2 full, but there are no good deals in 'Coastal California'.....most prices I have been seeing range from $2.93 to $3.09/gallon.  I know that diesel will be less expensive when we get to Carson City where it is going for $2.31-2.35/gallon, and I was hoping to get that far, but alas we were going to have to buy diesel in California for the first time in years.  The station we chose, Valero, was just a few blocks away, but it, as well as the other local stations were not trailer friendly, so we left the trailer at the Elks Lodge while we drove the Newell over to the Valero.  The price there was $2.87/gallon (cash price), so we put in $200 worth of fuel which bought us about 69.5 gallons of diesel.....more than enough to get us to Carson City where we plan to top off our tank for the summer.  That 69.5 gallons got us back to 1/2 tank on the fuel gauge, which means we had at least 10 gallons of diesel left.  That part of our plan went flawlessly......the rest, not so much.

We arrived back at the Lodge around 10 am thinking we would drop the trailer back on the hitch and be on our way by 10:30 at the latest.  As it turned out, where we had dropped the trailer using the 'Trailer Valet' proved difficult to get at with the Newell, and after a few attempts I decided, with TLE's encouragement, to use the 'Trailer Valet' to pull it out of the parking space in which it was parked.  Since that space was sloped significantly to the back it was a grind....I had to use the low gear setting for the first time, and in that gear it does not move far very quickly.  Anyway, by the time we had the trailer on the hitch once again and began to roll our wheels it was after 11 am.

Our goal for the day distance wise was modest......just 112 miles to the Elks Lodge in Auburn, CA.  They have no RV facilities, but they do have a large gravel lot where you can park overnight for one night.  I had called Bob at that Lodge the day before and he gave permission for us to do so.......on Google Earth the lot looked big enough, and it was......but I get ahead of myself.

Our initial route took us out SR-116 which took us through lush countryside to SR-37 which took us across a long causeway surrounded on both sides by water.....




.....eventually we merged on to I-80 eastbound and just cruised mile after mile on flat, smooth Interstate......by 1:15 pm we were exiting the Interstate in Auburn and heading over to the Elks Lodge......we noticed at we were very near their 'Old Town', and were already talking about walking over to have lunch as we turned on to Pine Street where the Lodge was located.....the first thing I saw was that the entire parking lot, including the gravel area was packed with cars, and to top that the entire lot was a 'sidehill lie' (a golf term) meaning there was no way, even it we could get in, that we could park there overnight.  Foolishly I pulled into the parking lot anyway and became immediately trapped.....doh!  There was no way I was going to be able to turn around and leave until most of the cars were moved.....very embarrassing to say the least.  Bob, the Lodge secretary, came outside and we discussed my situation.  Fortunately, the meeting that was taking place inside was due to disband at 1:30, and most of the cars would be gone shortly after that.  Bob was very understanding, and gracious even though I was completely blocking a large portion of his paved parking lot with my 62' monstrosity.

When I had looked up the Auburn Lodge originally I just looked at the Google Earth view and it looked fine.......


.....you can see the large gravel lot to one side of the Lodge paved parking lot.....had I bothered to look at the 'Street View' I would have immediately known this gravel lot was not going to work......


......in the 'Street View' you can see the significant slope of the entire parking lot including the gravel portion......lesson learned....always look at the 'Street View'.....don't assume facts not in evidence!

While we waited for the meeting to end, and the parking lot to empty out TLE and I decided we were not going to stay there.....there was no way..... it was so steep we'd be falling out of bed during the night.  We decided to just get back on I-80 and begin heading east and make a new Jello plan as we drove.  There was a nice Rest Area just 27 miles east where we pulled in to have a late lunch, and to make a decision about where to stay the night.......over the course of our 20 minutes there we decided to just continue on another 115 miles to Silver City RV Park where we were planning on staying for two nights begining Friday while we shopped and met my Cousin Lois for lunch.  I called Silver City and was advised there was a site for us, so we headed out.....it was around 3 pm by this time and our ETA was between 5 and 5:30 pm.  

Almost immediately we began the long climb towards the Sierras and Donner Pass.....the grades varied from 4-6% for 50 miles and we began to see snow...... 


.......and then a LOT MORE SNOW........


.....eventually we passed the Donner Summit sign at 7,227' elevation beginning our long descent towards Reno........


.......in the distance you can see the long shed covering the railroad tracks as they snake their way through the Sierras.....without these wooden sheds the tracks would become impassible with the winter snows, and this year's snowfall is about 170% of normal.....probably similar to what the Donner Party experienced in their ill fated attempt to cross the Sierras in the winter time.....we all now how that ended........


.......the rest of our drive to Carson City, and ultimately Silver City RV Park was completely uneventful.....it was just twice as far as I had planned to drive Thursday.  By 6 pm we were in our site, and hooking things up in preparation for a cold night.....as I write I can see the snow clad mountains guarding the Tahoe Basin where we will be in just a few days.  So, plans come and go......the Jello jiggles and you make a new plan......no muss, no fuss, no stress.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Old California....

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7:13 am - Thursday - 51º F, humidity 96%, wind 4 mph out of the west.....partly cloudy skies, but the sun is visible!  Today is getaway day.....heading eastward today towards the Sierras and South Lake Tahoe.

Based on prior weather forecasts we had expected Wednesday to be a day of rain, which is why we stayed an extra day here in Petaluma......we do not like driving in the rain.....who does, right?  As it turned out Wednesday was a rather nice day, so we decided to do some more site seeing......less than a couple of miles from the Elks Lodge is the largest privately owned adobe house in Northern California called the 'Vallejo's Petaluma Adobe'.......and it is LARGE.....



.....there is a an entrance fee of $3 per adult ($2 per child over 2), but the tickets you are given are also good at the Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma, and at the Vallejo home in Sonoma if used the same day......


.....we spent about 40 minutes touring the house and the grounds.......there was a lot of quite mature prickly pear all over the property......


.....there is a nice little creek flowing through the property which separates the adobe from the parking lot......


.....from there we drove about 11 miles over to Sonoma, CA to see the one mission we had never seen.....Mission San Francisco Solano......the end of the El Camino Real (King's Highway) and the 21st and last California Mission......it was founded July 4, 1823, however, the building we toured was rebuilt from 1911-13, and is considered an authentic restoration....of course, the restoration is over 100 years old now.....


 A quite modest mission in comparison to the others we have seen

 The sanctuary

.....directly across the street from the mission is the Sonoma Barracks which housed Spanish army troops.....



 View of the town square from the second story balcony  of the barracks

......there is a nice museum on the ground floor which is definitely worth the time......from there we drove over to the Vallejo home about 4 blocks away from the barracks.....

The granery

The Vallejo Home


Behind the home is the still functioning reservoir

.....by the time we finished touring the Vallejo home it was after 3 pm and we were feeling a little peckish, so we decided to head back to Petaluma and visit a local brew pub called 'Pub Republic' (Yelp gives them 4 stars on 444 reviews!) for Happy Hour, so everything is at half price, but truth be told the beer and food was so good we would willingly have paid full price!  They have a lovely alfresco dining area for which we immediately headed, of course.....
 

 Lovely alfresco dining....we had the place to ourselves

Bleu Cheese and Bacon Sliders and Fries with Bacon and Chipotle Aioli appetizers

....we both had a chocolate porter (I forget the brewery name) to 'chase' the great food.......we always say the food must live up to the beer, and this food lives up to the beer in spades!  We had a lovely time talking and enjoying great pub food.....a perfect way to end a very enjoyable afternoon!

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