Anza Borrego with the Chen’s

Our friends, the Chen‘s, contacted us about potentially going camping with them during their kids’ spring break. We found out that it would work out and we both made reservations at the Palm Canyon campground at Anza Borrego State Park. We had been to Anza many times in the past but they hadn’t been there since before they had their 4 kids! We set it up for 4 nights starting on a Monday.

They invited us to come down on Sunday to their house and watch their eldest son perform in high school play. Good deal! We decided to leave on Saturday, stop part way and head in to their place on Sunday. This enabled us to do most of the packing and setup on Saturday since I only planned on going 148 miles to Valencia. I had found a few places to overnight for free in Valencia/Santa Clarita from a new website called One option was a truck stop technically in Castaic. Another was an industrial area in Santa Clarita that held a great deal of promise. Roxie thought that the Camping World would be a better choice for her. The website stated that there was no parking at this time even though there had been in the past. I checked the Camping World website and it stated that they DID allow overnight parking. I called the store and they confirmed their website so we stayed there:



It was a good night and very uneventful. We got up, did a bit of shopping at the WalMart next door (which states NO overnight parking) and got on our way. We went straight down I-5 through the belly of Los Angeles, with the 31′ trailer, at the suggestion of George (Chen). Surprisingly there was very little traffic and it was a easy drive.

The Chen’s live at the top of a hill accessed by single lane road that is relatively steep and turns at the end near their house. He had an incident on the road a while back with his 25′ Airstream where he was stuck going up and sliding back down for about 30 minutes before he was able to get up the hill! No thanks! We opted to stay down the hill on the street by an avocado grove:


This is the day that the fun started. We started to disconnect the trailer by putting down the tongue jack. I went up by mistake and retracted it all the way. Not usually a problem. I went to extend the jack but it would not go. Odd. I tried up and down again but no go. I tried the light on the jack and it worked! The label on the jack stated “if the jack and the light do not work, check the fuse”. It also said “if the jack does not work but the light does, the fuse is OK and the internal thermal protector has to cool off so try later”. OK. Try it later but I want to disconnect the truck. Luckily this replacement jack (remember my previous blog post?) had a place on the top to put in a 3/8″ socket drive. I pulled out my socket wrench and started cranking. This obviously took a bit of time and effort but it worked. I thought I would wait until the next day to let the thermal protector cool down. The other issue was the tongue had to be jacked up a bit since the road is not that level.

That fun behind us we did a few errands. During one of these errands the truck (new in Sept) had an issue. The left turn signal was stuck on. If I let the signal go, the truck left signal was always on. I could turn it off by holding the signal in the right turn position, which I did for the rest of the day. However there was NO way to make a right turn signal and I could not signal with my arm because it was holding the signal stalk! I knew I needed to get this fixed. The local Ford dealers opened the next day (Monday) at 7am so the plan was to head there first thing. Oh, the play was very fun and entertaining (West Side Story).

We dropped the truck off at 7AM and had it fixed by noon. This pushed our departure back by at least 4 hours but I sure felt better about the signal working again. Now I just had to fight the tongue jack. It was still non-operational, the thermal protector must have still been protecting. The socket wrench was called into action again. My drill didn’t work and even started smoking (!) when I tried it. We got everything going and caravaned to Anza Borrego. We headed south through Temecula and toward Julian and then through the desert:


We got there about 6:30 but it was still light. Of course I had to do a lot of cranking and jacking while there because our spot (6) was very LOW in the front:



It was nice to get there and the weather was very nice.

Tuesday we all got up a bit late and decided to go to Julian for a late lunch and walk around the town. All this was new to the Chen’s so it was nice to let them see some of the sights around there. The weather in Julian was much different than Anza Borrego, cloudy and a bit cold. We had a fun lunch and time wandering around the town. On the way back the road was curvy and Roxie was not in the front seat so she had a bit of an issue, all down the side of the Chen’s Yukon. We stopped at the dump station on the way back and I rinsed it off with some help from George. That evening we got a nice campfire going and chatted for a while. After about 1 hour the wind started. That ended the campfire rather abruptly and was a premonition. The Chen’s planned on hiking the Palm Canyon trail the next day. Since we have done this before and Roxie was fighting some back pain we decided not to go on the hike.

All night the wind howled. It was disconcerting at time as I heard the underbelly aluminum skin banging around. I guessed the winds were hitting about 40+mph but I figured we two the trailer at higher speeds than that. The AM wasn’t much different. The night before we had everyone over around the fire so there were footprints all outside but after the wind here is what we saw:



The Chen’s continued on with their hike. When they got back they appeared wind swept. They stated about getting sand blasted numerous times on the hike. I tried sitting outside for a bit but I also ended up getting blasted every once in a while. Her is a composite shot from George:


We have had wind before but at least this time it was warmer than other times. We took a short drive in the afternoon down to Agua Caliente County Park to see their campground and hot water pools. George tagged along and Roxie didn’t get sick! On the way back we spied this vehicle:


The wind continued unabated that evening and everyone sequestered into their trailers. It was not much fun. The next AM we all reached a consensus that we just needed to leave and give up on the last night. The wind had changed. Now it was just be breezy then it would hit high speeds for about 2 minutes then calm down. It was teasing us. We packed everything up, I did my arm work with the socket driver to hookup the trailer. We headed out east toward the Salton Sea. We ran into some very bumpy roads near the intersection with CA86. We ended up having lunch at the Love’s truck stop in Indio.

We parted ways with the Chen’s as they did not have far to go to get home but they wanted to stop to shop at the outlets in Cabazon. We were thinking of stopping at Sam’s Family Spa but I was really bummed about the jack (more about that in the next blog entry) so we just ended up heading home. We had some fun times on the trip but all in all it was a interesting trip bordering on difficult.

But it is always good to see the Chen’s…

We interrupt this blog…

for a current entry!  I have been behind on my blogging, which is nothing new.  The last few entries have been over 3 months old.  We just got back from a trip so I thought I would insert that entry here and then return to my historical (not hysterical) entries.

We went to Anza Borrego State Park for New Years.  This is becoming a tradition of sorts for some Airstreamers.  We know some of them and knew they would be there.  We didn't plan ahead for this and so there were no spaces available.  We were resigned to not going.  We were last there almost 2 years ago.

I was checking the reservation system for openings and one showed up on Monday.  I snagged it for Thursday for 3 nights.  It is always nice to get away for a bit.  So we got everything ready to go.  We were going to initially follow the same itinerary that we did the last time.  Leave in the evening and drive to Palmdale, spend the night at the Wal-Mart.  This way we can get supplies there and knock out half of our trip.

Day 1

We left about 5pm and hit the road.  South of Bakersfield I saw one of the road signs say, "I-5:  Snow on the summit".  I didn't say anything to Roxie about it but I was curious.  A bit further down the road, another sign said the same thing.  Roxie saw this one and expressed some concern.  I was unsure what to think since the weather was nice and clear.  We pushed on.

Starting the climb on the grapevine the weather started to turn.  As we got near the top the snow started.  It was dry and we didn't need our windshield wipers as the snow was just blowing over the truck.  It was also just blowing around on the road but not sticking.  As we reached the summit we could see CHP's escorting traffic northbound and CalTrans trucks dumping sand on the road.  We continued on to 138 to go to Palmdale.  The snow did stop and we got to Wal-Mart about 8:30.  We went shopping and I checked the local weather.  It said it was 36° but with the windchill factor it was 22°!  The entire night the trailer shook like someone was grabbing it.  We went through 2 small propane tanks with our heater buddy.  We survived the night.

Day 2

The morning was not quite as cold as it was but it was by no means temperate.  When we stop just for an overnight like this I jack the tongue to level the trailer and disconnect the umbilical cord to stop truck battery drain. So I lowered the jack and we headed off.  The trip was uneventful until we stopped for a bathroom break about 2 hours later.  I noticed that I had not reconnected the umbilical cord!!  This meant I had no trailer lights or brakes of any kind.  Not good.  We had descended from the high desert to the San Bernardino area in this state.  It shows me how beefy the truck is that I was able to control the whole rig like that.  But I don't want to do that again.

We got to Palm Canyon Campground in Anza Borrego around 4:30pm and had enough time to setup before the sun went down and it got cold.  We met Dan and Marlene (and their girls) that operate the Mali Mish blog.  We met Dan and Julliette from AirForums and Bill Kerfoot, also from AirForums.  We wound down the day quickly as we had to head inside since it was so cold.

Day 3

I had a hike on my mind.  With my current knee situation we really cannot do too many long and/or strenuous hikes.  I read about a hike that started from the campground and went up to a panoramic point.  We started out around 10:30.  Here is a picture of Roxie taking a rest on the way up.

We had to stop a bit every once in a while on the way up as it was pretty steep with a lot of switchbacks.  However, we did make it to the top.  We could see the surrounding area very well from up there.  Here is our trailer.

I also took a set of panoramic pictures and stitched them together.  Here is the link. 

We had some lunch and then walked to the visitor's center to hear a naturalist talk about the Creosote plant.  I remember my father loved the desert but I cannot remember if he loved the smell of the creosote or sage plant or both but it was one of his favorite things.

That evening Rich, Eleanor and Emma plus Alex and Charon showed up in their Airstreams.  This was New Year's Eve and some of us had plans to get together over at  Bill's trailer.

Almost all of the 7 Airstream's had representation at the 'party'.  Everyone brought some different type of food and we all huddled around the fire since it was cold, again.  Good discussions and such were had.  Then the wind picked up and that dispersed everyone to their trailers.  I know that we ended up in the trailer by 10pm and we did not make in anywhere near midnight.  Lights were out by 11pm. 

Day 4

Happy New Year!

More hiking or no hiking?  How about a combination of both.  We packed a picnic lunch and headed by the visitors center to get some ideas.  We ended up doing some offroading in the truck to the Desert Garden 'picnic' area.  It had two tables but it was pleasant.  We continued on the road and did a few creek crossings in the truck.  Roxie seemed to enjoy it so we will have to try this some more.

The next stop was to see the Elephant Tree.  The road to this trail was TERRIBLE!  Not only rough but a lot of rocks.  The hiking was good and easy.  We had a brochure that talked about each point of interest.  However the sun was starting to set.  Here is the Elephant Tree.

Here are some ocotillo shots.

The next stop was Narrows Earth Trail.  It had better be short because we were losing daylight.  It was short and taught us about some of the geologic features in that area.

We had worked it out to go out to 'town' and eat with the Lin's (Dan and Marlene).  We are ones that do like to sample the local area eateries when traveling.   It turns out they do too!  We tried to go to a local bar and grill, Carlee's.  It turns out the tradition in Borrego Springs is that all the locals go out to eat for dinner on New Years.  There was no where for us to sit at Carlee's so we had to go somewhere else.  Hopefully, they would have room.  We tried Pablito's, they had room and it was very good.  It was nice to get to know the LIn's, they are a very fun couple.

We had a campfilre by their trailer but again, the cold closed in and we all retreated.

Day 5

We woke up and got around and saw Dan and Marlene were gone.  We found out why a bit later.  I had wanted to stop in Desert Hot Springs and hit a hot pool or two, another thing my dad liked.  However, Roxie 'forgot' her swimsuit so we decided just to head home.  We hooked up, said our goodbyes and hit the road.

We made it to Temecula and I checked the weather radar map and it showed snow all across the grapevine!  Here we go again!  I called the road report and the CHP was escorting traffic over the grapevine.  I decided to head up I-15 to Corona.  There I would have to decide, grapevine or high desert.

Calling the road report at Corona made the decision for us.  The grapevine was closed.  High desert it was.  We continued on I-15 past San Bernardino and it started snowing and continued the same dry swirling snow we had to start the trip.  The snow stopped at the summit and we didn't see it in force until Mojave and it was really coming down.  The road report on 58 said the CHP was escorting traffic there also.  I was hoping we could make it through before they closed this road.  But we do have the trailer so we could spend the night somewhere if we needed to.  The traffic on eastbound 58 and southbound 14 was amazing.  These are all the people that were trying to get to the LA area from the north.  I have never seen so much traffic over the Tehachapi's.

The rest of the trip home was the same boring 99 that we are used to. 

One interesting thing happened at the end of the trip, as I was taking the trailer around the block to park it.

All in all the trip was kind of like a flight for a pilot.  The takeoff and the landing were the most difficult with the in between being the easy part.