Memorial Day 2013

Since we are now on a more normal (read: more like the rest of the world) schedule for Roxie we have to take advantage of the 3 day weekends as they come along. This was just such a weekend. I had a hard time figuring out where we might go. I know I wanted a reservation but didn’t want to be too far. We wanted to be able to get there on Friday evening so we had a full Saturday of fun and adventure.

I called on an old, reliable friend. Princess campground near Grants Grove of Kings Canyon National Park. I checked reservations about 3 weeks prior and there were about 10. The next day about 8. Oh boy! Better get one. I did. Now that we have a longer trailer the spots are a bit harder to find. However they had one that claimed to be 45′ long. I’ll take it! However, I didn’t tell Roxie we were going until the week before. I wanted to surprise her a bit. There is a running joke that we never go camping on the major holidays. This used to be true when she didn’t work and I could take of whatever time I wanted. We would never go camping on Labor or Memorial day, we would go the weekend before or after. This was very advantageous to us when we were able to get reservations at Yosemite one year when our 4 days STARTED on Labor Day.

Roxie worked until 4:30 on Friday afternoon but due to her diligence over the week and pre-packing, we were able to get away at about 4:50! Fantastic! Princess is 70 miles away from home but there is a grade of about 5% that goes for about 15 miles. I had been having some electrical issues with the truck (discussed in the next blog post) so I started it with some trepidation. The truck performed just great up the grade even though Roxie thought I was going too fast since she was on the downhill side of the road with no guardrail. We made it to Princess just about 7pm.

The space at Princess (#7) was long as advertised. It was an easy back in to get there and a quick setup, especially when you don’t have hookups! We just made some sandwiches for dinner, watched a movie on the MBP and then settled in for a nice sleep. Aaron and Paige were supposed to come visit the next day.

I don’t know what it is but sleeping in that cocoon is so much easier than at home. Might be the closeness, the quiet or knowing you don’t have to work the next day but we slept so good that Aaron woke us up knocking on the door at 10am! That was good though, we shouldn’t sleep the day away.

We took the loop road down through Hume Lake and back around to Grants Grove. By that time it was time to eat and we had lunch in the restaurant there. Next stop was a walk around the Grant tree loop. It gave us a bit of time to spend with Aaron and Paige.

Here is the requisite shot of the General Grant tree:

Gen Grant Tree

A shot of grandma and granddaughter in the Gamlin cabin:

Paige and Grandma

Aaron and Paige by the fallen tree:

Paige and Dad


Paige and Aaron headed home after we got back to the trailer. It was nice to have them come for a visit. We will have to take Paige with us on one of these trips. Maybe on Labor Day…

We rested a bit at the trailer and Diane Ganner (the Bird Lady) walked by, telling people about her amphitheater program about birds. We had seen her before on our last visit to Princess but we always like to go to a program, especially if it is in our own campground. Diane stated that this was her last season doing these presentations and that is a sad thing. She truly enjoys what she is doing and does it very well. Here is a shot of her and one of her rescue birds:

Diane The Bird Lady

We didn’t have time to get to the amphitheater program at Grants Grove that evening but that was OK. We cooked some dinner and watched another movie.

Sunday we decided that we wanted to take a hike around Hume Lake. We had been there many times before but had never done it. We made up a lunch and headed off. This Memorial Day was strange in the sense that things did not seem as busy as we think it should be. I know that the Hume Lake campground was fully booked but Princess was not full.

We started the Hume Lake trail around 10:30. It is 2.6 miles round trip. The trail is very easy and flat except for a bit of up and down near the dam. We walked around the lake counter-clockwise. As we were walking I asked Roxie if it would be weird if we ran into someone we knew up here. We walked a bit farther and ended up by the beach that is near the inlet from Ten Mile creek. Luckily there was a restroom at the beach so we could take a little bathroom break. We were walking up a hill to the bathroom and waited for some guys to bring down an inflatable kayak. One of them said, “Come on up Roxie”. I did not recognize the person initially but Roxie did. Turns out it was some friends that we have not seen for a long time. We spent about 30 minutes visiting before we continued our trek.

A lot of people fish in Hume Lake. They are along the bank and out in boats (non-motorized). Between the beach and the dam there were numerous fishermen. Many of them had caught fish also. As we approached the dam I did not know how we would get by it. I guess I was expecting a HUGE dam like the ones I grew up around (Shasta, Whiskeytown, Claire Engle). This was not huge since the valley below was not huge either although they did have a nice bridge across part of the valley. Essentially we did some small switchbacks down, across the bridge, and some small switchbacks up.

The dam turns out to be the world’s first concrete reinforced multiple arch dam constructed in 1908 and still in use now. The designer, John S. Eastwood, designed some 16-18 of these dams and none of them have failed. Here is the Wiki on Hume Lake. Here is a pic from below the dam and then looking across the top:

Hume Dam Face Hume Dam Top

And a view of Hume Lake from the dam (facing west):

Hume Lake


We were on the home stretch now! Lunch was awaiting us back at the truck. We got back, got our chairs and lunch and plopped down in a picnic area to enjoy a bit of a rest after all that exertion! We returned to the trailer and partook in our favorite trailer activity. A nap! I said I wasn’t going to take one but I did anyway. We really did nap too! We slept until about 7pm!! The amphitheater show was at 7:30!

Dinner had to wait as we drove the 7 miles to the Kings Canyon campground where the show was. We didn’t know the subject but it doesn’t really matter. We just like going, listening and learning. Since the presenting ranger was first stationed at Mammoth Cave NP AND he was a geologist the subject was: Caves! We knew about Crystal Cave in Sequoia NP and Boyden Caverns in the National Forest nearby as we have been in each of them. But we did NOT know that in the two NP’s there were more than 300 caves! One of them is over 20 miles long and they are still discovering parts of it (Lilburn Cave). Here is a pic of the ranger (with the required beard) and some of his Junior Ranger helpers, the boy was very outgoing:


We had a very late dinner that PM and a late movie night and probably went to sleep about 1 or 1:30 AM(!). But we knew what the morning brought. Time to get ready to go home.

Here is a shot of our trailer in the spot (#7 is nice and long!):


Almost forgot one last shot. Roxie always gets cold wherever we go, sometimes even in the summer. She had to get this hat to keep her ears warm:


Another enjoyable weekend. Next post about some truck/trailer weighing and truck electrical issues.

The “first” weekend trip!

We had another one of those 3-day weekends but this one was a bit different.  Roxie no longer has to work on Saturdays so she does not get every 5th Monday off.  This is good and bad.  So now we have to take 3-day weekends with everyone else, on a holiday.

This holiday happened to be President's Day so I looked for a place to stay.  Somewhere kind of close but not over any major hills.  One time when we were in Bakersfield for the weekend (without the trailer) we went by Lake Ming.  It was a county run (Kern Co) park and had RV spots (dry).  That was a possibility, it was on the river but they did not take reservations and I didn't know how busy they were.  With a bit more investigation, I found another park the Kern Co ran that has RV spots, full-hookups, on the water and took reservations.  It was the Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area.  It was between Bakersfield and Taft.

As we were packing and loading we found this:

Who? Me?

The cat (Jewels) is ready to go!  If she is still alive when we start traveling we might have to take her with us.

Roxie took off a half day on Friday so we could get an 'earlyish' start and get there before dark.  There is no exactly straight road there.  The best bet is to go south (or actually south-east) on 99, head west at Delano and catch 43 to go south (south-east) again.  It was about 90 miles there.  I discovered one interesting fact at the expense of a few bees that were flying around from the numerous bee boxes by the blooming trees.  If I go 60mph (as I normally do with the trailer), the bees will smash on the windshield leaving their guts behind.  However, if I go 55mph it appears the bees just bounce off of the windshield.  What happens after that is unknown.

The spot we got was right on the water as advertised:

On the water again!

On Saturday we headed to Taft to see what was there.  We also had to get some things for the trailer that we did not transfer from the old one.  Taft is a cute little town.  At least it has a Kmart.  When we got back in the early afternoon the air was warm, the windows were open, it was quiet. 

Buena Vista

What to do?  Take a nap naturally.  We don't normally nap but this felt very good.  We must have needed the rest since we slept about 3 hours.  We cooked a quick dinner and had a campfire.  Ah, the life.

Here is the sunset:

Buena Vista Sunset

This lake is man made for boating and fishing.  There were a few boats.  One even came by each campsite and asked if anyone wanted to go wakeboarding.  They needed one more as the ranger told them they needed 3 in the boat.  It was fun to watch the boats and the wildlife all around.  Here is what we saw from our door one morning:


On our last evening there we thought we would go to another town close by.  Buttonwillow!  Well downtown Buttonwillow does not have much but when you go to the Buttonwillow exit on I5 there is a lot of places.  We thought we would try the Willow Ranch Restaurant.  It was pretty good given the slim pickings and we did not want to drive to Bakersfield.

Monday came too soon and it was time to head home.  We were just south of Tulare, doing about 60mph.  I saw brake lights come on about 1/4 mile ahead and a cloud of dust coming up.  We we pulled up we saw a minivan down in a corn field and all smashed up.  It left the roadway and rolled. There were 6 people in it.  Since Roxie is a nurse she is required to stop at an accident is there are no other emergency personnel there.  So we pulled over.  Almost immediately an off duty Tulare Co firefighter pulled up and helped out.  No one was seriously injured so all we pretty much did was comfort the people until the real help showed up.  You can see the van in the left side of this photo:


We made it home uneventfully.  Had to do the trailer dance to get the old one out of the way and the new one back in its' spot.  Here is how it looks at home:

Home 2013-02-05 15.59.46 2013-02-05 15.59.54

It is kind of a tight fit and FUN to back in.  I will take a video of me parking it some day.

Our next planned trip is taking the trailer to Toscano's RV in Los Banos to get our problems with the trailer fixed (only 16 or so!).