A few days in San Francisco

We hadn’t seen our daughter for a while, she lives in San Francisco, so we thought we would take a trip over there to visit. We wanted to take the trailer so the options were limited. The RV park in Pacifica might be in the ocean currently as they were suffering a large erosion of the cliff they are perched on. There is an RV/mobilehome park in South San Francisco that we have never stayed at. There is also an RV park right next to Candlestick park but it is near a pretty seedy neighborhood. What to do? We called upon a site from our history. Anthony Chabot campground in the East Bay hills north of Castro Valley.

The campground has a few negatives but the positives are pretty nice. One negative is you have to be back to the campground at 10PM or you are locked out. Another is the road to the campground is really long and curvy. However, you ARE close to the populous cities but it does not feel like it. You are up in the hills in a eucalyptus grove. There are only 12 full hookup sites and it is very hilly. That is where one of the other negatives came into play. But more about that later.

We were happy to get out of the central valley and the heat. The previous days were over 100 and pushing 110. The forecast for Castro Valley was high 60’s to low 70’s. As we started out all was going good but the truck seemed a bit sluggish with the trailer attached. Usually the truck will get going pretty good from a stop but not so now. We pulled off of I5 around the Westley area. When I got back on the onramp was uphill. The truck had an issue doing so and was belching out a goodly amount of black smoke. This is not normal. It also started huffing when you would hear a thump under the hood and then a large puff of exhaust. Needless to say I did not like this but I had seen it before.

Now that I know what it is I can rest a bit, well sort of. We still had a few hills to get over before we made it there. One was the Altamont pass and the other was between Dublin and Castro Valley. The Altamont went pretty good. I found that if I did not go higher than 2000RPM I would do OK. I was able to do so on this pass and we made it over. However the next pass was different. I could not get a running start on this one and near the top I had to downshift out of overdrive which started the huffing. Luckily we didn’t have to go too far huffing along.

Once we got to the campground we found the hills. I reserved this spot specifically but I could not tell the terrain. The spot was on a downhill road and at a 90 degree to the road. Here is a picture that does NOT show the grade:

Chabot 01

Pretty nice spot. Let’s look at the other side:

Chabot 02

Ah, there’s the slope. Still doesn’t look too bad. Next shot:

Chabot 03

This is taken down the hill where I had to back in from. I started backing in and my rear wheel started spinning on the asphalt and my other was on the dirt. I was not getting anywhere. It might have been because of the engine running rough also. Anyway I put the truck in 4wd and tried again. I had to get up some speed and crank the angle pretty tight but I got it in. We hooked up the hookups, Roxie is getting very good at this, disconnected the truck and met our daughter at the BART station (two days earlier BART had agreed to stop the strike for 30 days). She spent the night with us in the trailer. It has been a LONG time since she did that last.

The next day I had a mission. I needed to get my diesel filter replaced. I started out at a JiffyLube (why not, it worked before) after dropping off Roxie and Hannah at a shopping mall. The guy flatly said they don’t do it here. I called a SpeedeeLube and they said, “Sure we do it!”. When I got there the tech said they did not and the management did not know what they were saying. However they recommended me to a tire/service location. I was able to get it replaced there and 2-3 hours later the truck was running good again.

I picked up Roxie and Hannah and we did some errands then headed into the city. Driving my truck in San Francisco is a real experience. If you just take it slow and deliberate you are good. However, people usually give you room if you start moving into their lane. The rest of the days were filled with driving places, parking, shopping, eating, all the fun boring stuff.

Wednesday eventually came and it was time to go home. I was a bit concerned about the road out of the camp area. It was curvy and steep. I have a video that I took. I have kept the commentary in it also so enjoy:

On the way home we stopped at Toscano’s RV to get the hinge on our stove covered fixed under warranty. Then the long drive home.

We wanted to take a short trip before we are off on our long one to Alumafandango in early August.

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.