Casini Ranch 2015 – Part 2

Monday came around too soon. We had to pack up and head out to our next site. We had to cut this trip short to get Roxie to some MD appointments so she could continue with her back surgery in a bit over a week. When trying to think of a destination I thought of somewhere we had visited before but didn’t stay. The one drawback is that the day was going to be 240 miles to get there. A bit of a long day for us. We started earlier than we normally did, 9am.

We decided to go back down the coast and maybe get a few ocean shots. Here is one:


It was nice and cool there, too bad we couldn’t stay. We followed the Ford Nav unit again for directions. It took us back the same route toward Petaluma and then it got a bit exciting. It took us down a very rural street just to connect to another that took off of the road earlier? Why? That was just a precursor to our fun in Petaluma.

I needed to get some diesel and put some air in the tires of the trailer. We got on 101S north of Petaluma and Gas Buddy showed a station at the next exit. I took it but went the wrong way (W). I got turned around to go east over the freeway but got stuck in an unmarked on ramp that took me NORTH on 101. No! I don’t want to go this way. We had to go almost 3 miles before we could turn around. I paused a bit after the exit and before heading back SOUTH on 101. I used this to find a different station.

The next station was easier to get to. It had diesel and air! Well, almost. I fueled up and had to do some interesting positioning to get the trailer next to the air pump. Previously I had asked the attendant if their air pump was working and he said it was. It wasn’t. They apologized and we pulled out. I then started looking for a tire shop. We drove by a few but there was no way to get the trailer in there. We drove around some downtown, narrow streets and finally found a station that had an air pump.

More fun ensued there. There was only one angle for me to get to the air pump. I came in one exit, had to drive by the store, then back into the pump. Easy peasy. Except there were people going in and out, parking here and there, plus there was the slowest propane truck there filling the stations tank. Roxie eventually got out and asked people not to park where I had to drive through. It took us about 10-15 minutes of waiting until we could get the tires aired up.

Next task was lunch. We really like to eat at local eateries and we tried to this time but were thwarted each time by trying to find a parking spot (50′ long) for us. We gave up and headed down the road and ate at the Carneros Deli. It was very good.

We headed to Vallejo and down through Benicia, Walnut Creek, Livermore and eventually to I5 southbound. Yes leaving the nice cool weather. Where were we heading?

Mercey Hot Springs. We visited them, along with some Airstreamers, during our Valentine’s Day trip.

We really like hot springs of any kind so this seemed like a natural. It was nice to coming on a Monday as they weren’t busy at all. The only bad part was it was SOOO windy. There was a wind warning all the time we were there and gusts were up to 40mph!

The hot springs has a warm swimming pool. The main attraction are the tubs. Essentially plastered, concrete tubs. There is a hot and cold hose where you can adjust the temperature. We never used the cold. At night the wind would calm down and it was much more enjoyable. In the dark, in a hot water tub, looking up at the numerous stars in the sky. It was very nice and relaxing.

They have 2 Airstreams that you can rent on site but we took one of the full hookup spots. The full hookups were technically $15/night but that was on top of the per person daily charge. They say the location is off grid and they use solar and a generator to provide electricity. Therefore they don’t want usage of any electric heaters or air conditioners. However microwave use was OK.

Here are some pictures of our spot:

We didn’t want to leave but knew life was waiting, just for a bit.

Casini Ranch 2015 – Part 1

We weren’t initially planning on going to the Casini Ranch rally this year. It is a bit away for us, just over 300 miles, which is outside our daily driving limit. However we knew that Roxie was going in for back surgery in later April and we didn’t know when we could get out with the trailer again. I checked for space and there was a full hookup available. We were in.

We hadn’t been to Casini for 4 years so it was a nice change of pace. The last time we drove to Rio Vista the first night and met our Airstream friends, the Chen’s, for the next day’s trip. This year was somewhat similar. I am inherently a frugal person, some call me cheap, especially when on route to a destination. If I can stay overnight cost effectively (free) then I will do so. This is why I love WalMarts and truck stops.

I started looking for a place in Fairfield which would leave only about 80 miles for the next day. I remembered that there is an Airstream dealer there. Having had good luck staying at Toscano’s, albeit times where we had repairs, I thought I would contact Airstream Bay Area. I also mentioned that we DID purchase our trailer from a dealership in their group, Airstream Northwest in Portland. The service manager graciously agreed and told me where we could park.

We got there just around dark after having to stop and get supplies on the way, as we always forget something. It was a nice place to stay. The next morning I saw through the window someone picking up their Airstream from storage. I wondered if they were going to Casini also but did not get out to talk to them. We looked around at the new Airstreams they had before we left.

I had planned out a route to Casini on my own but I also let the truck’s NAV unit work it out. We were conflicted from time to time. We also fought some terrible traffic on CA12 around Napa. It turns out that day a UPS truck caught fire on the RIchmond bridge which closed it. Part of this traffic were people trying to avoid that mess but creating a whole other mess. Nothing like trying to change lanes with 50′ of rig in a bumper to bumper traffic jam!

We made it to Petaluma and once again took the NAV path but I thought I was taking my route. I normally come into the Russian River area (where Casini Ranch is) from the east (the Santa Rosa area) but the NAV was taking us west from Petaluma. In looking at the map it was taking us to CA1! OK. That might be fun to drive along the coast for a bit as Casini is only 7 miles from the coast.

We got to Casini around 3pm, just in time to get things going for the evening happy hour. It was great to see old friends and meet new ones. That Airstream that was leaving Fairfield that morning WAS at Casini and it was the trailer of John and Lori! We had met them at Three Rivers. I didn’t even recognize John that AM. Must have been before my diet Mt. Dew.

The next day was a visitation day with a loose ‘open house’ of sorts. Like an Airstreamer needs an excuse to talk to another. I worked on upgrading the remainder of my LED lights to newer and brighter strips. Another Saturday event was Vinnie of Vinnie’s Northbay Airstream Repair giving a demonstration on proper awning usage and how to polish out scratches. He also fielded a variety of questions. I know many of this group are customers of his already and the rest probably will be soon. Some of the products that Vinnie used:


There was an opportunity to do some tye-dying on Saturday. Roxie took advantage of that one:



As if all this was not enough the Bowlus arrived:



This is a reincarnation of sorts for Bowlus’. Bowlus Road Chief is creating these trailers with modern technology. Designed to be pulled by a smaller vehicle than most trailers. Interestingly enough, we had seen the outside of this trailer before. We were heading to Fresno and passed West Coast Polishing and I spotted it. We stopped to talk to them and said that this is a new company starting to build these.

The interior is relatively small but makes great use of the space. The owners were there and mentioned it was a nautical feel but I felt it was more like an old train. One interesting feature they did was a removable table. Back in the mid-60’s my father was tired of having to use the tailgate of the car to eat when there was no picnic table:


At that time the table in the trailer was attached to the wall by a bracket that released when you swung the table up. He mounted the same bracket on the side of the trailer above the wheel. That meant we just had to lift up the table, take it outside and we had our own picnic table! The Bowlus used this same concept. I bet they got it from my dad!!

That evening was the infamous potluck. However I told Roxie the wrong time for it but found out later that the time was changed but I didn’t find out, so I am sort of off the hook. That meant that ours was still cooking while the potluck raged! No worries as there was a LOT of food. I did a time lapse of this one also:

Sunday was the day for over half of the group to leave and head out. We opted for another night as we thought we would be able to have a whole extra week before we went home. As it turns out we had to cut that short also. Roxie needed to get some medical clearances for her surgery and we couldn’t do all that in the amount of time we initially allocated. It is OK. The more important part is to get her well.

Sunday was some time spent in Guerneville. It is a very cute town, not very big but it at least has a Safeway and a hardware store! It was a very nice, low key day. For dinner we had some of the potluck dish that never made it there! We visited with some fellow Airstreamers and called it an evening.


The next day, Monday, would start the journey to our next destination.