It’s been a very busy week and sorry I didn’t write sooner, but I think you will see why once you read this. Wednesday we started to button things up in preparation for leaving, but Lee made time to watch the Veteran’s Day parade downtown. It was a small town parade, but Lee enjoyed it and afterwards he ran several errands.
I stayed back at Hobo Camp and did one more big clean prior to leaving. Emptied all the trash, ultra filled the toilet paper, and scrubbed things down one last time, basically left it as I would want to find it. Once we leave Hobo Camp they don’t open the gate at the road again until spring, but folks still walk and horseback or bike ride into the park and the restrooms do get used on occasion. It was a very nice day, so I wanted to take advantage of the good weather and get it done. Thursday was our day to pick up the truck and it wasn’t done until 4:30. We decided to go ahead and keep the rental until the following morning which was a good call because Lee heard a knocking noise in the engine after just a few miles, and the check engine light came on. We decided to take the truck back in the morning and although we were very anxious about it, there was really nothing we could do. Plus, Stan was having us to his house for a goodbye dinner so we did the best we could to put it out of our minds. I hadn’t met Stan’s wife Beverly yet and was looking forward to it, but we were surprised by the number of cars at the house when we pulled up. Stan had invited some of the young people who work at the BLM, and what a great evening we had. It is really great talking to people who are passionate about what they do and they were all really interesting. Plus we had some songs (about trains!) and the food was really great. It was so sweet when Stan stood up and gave a little speech about the work we had done and then gave us a picture of ourselves in a frame. It really meant a lot to both of us, and was a wonderful way to cap off our time at Hobo Camp. Plus one of our readers has signed up to camp host there next fall, so it’s great that Stan will have another nice couple next year!! He was very excited about it.
Stan telling a story about Lee!
Friday Lee got up first thing and was at the dealer when it opened. Now we were feeling the pressure because the weather was forecasting 2-4 inches of snow on Sunday and we really wanted to leave on Saturday before the snow, to drive through the mountains. We had no idea though what would happen with the truck and again just took some deep breaths and thought good things. At noon Lee drove back and the tech had found the problem. One of the fuel injectors had been mis-programmed and was causing the engine to miss. This would have caused fuel economy problems, a loss of power, and noises so it was a good thing Lee had them look at it and didn’t just ignore it in a hurry to get out of town. John the technician (who has been terrific through the whole process) was very apologetic and Lee drove the truck back so we could take our test drive. We knew we needed to drive at least 200 miles before towing (learned that from when Howard and Linda had their engine replaced) so decided to drive to Reno for dinner and a movie. We saw Spectre which was incredibly disappointing. Lee is a huge James Bond fan and has been waiting for this movie for months and it was really awful. But then we went to Red Lobster (where we had our first real date) and managed to eat dinner for under $40. Lee got the 4 course meal for $17.99 and I ate the add-on crab legs and his soup. Plus we got waters and I used my packet lemonade and we had an appetizer. Their prices have really gone up and I was thrilled at the $39 check before tip. The good news was the truck ran very well and although we still were a little concerned about towing through the mountains with a brand new engine we both felt a lot better. By the way the total bill on this was $16K with our part being the $1K deductible. So please, please put your finger on the word diesel before pumping fuel, assuming you have a diesel vehicle!
Saturday morning we were up and moving by 7:30 because we needed to go to the tire place. We have not been able to get new G rated tires because of our schedule and Lee was determined that we weren’t leaving without them. So he ordered them from SimpleTire.com, and had them delivered to a UPS store and they were sitting in the rental car. The day before we had dropped the tires off right before returning the rental and since it was first come first serve at the tire place we wanted to be first in line. Thankfully we were and they jumped right on it. I do want to mention that when they were done the manager came out and checked it and two tires were under torqued and the pressure was low on all of them. So if you get a tire replaced double check the work and ask for a supervisor to check. That could have been very bad if a tire would have come off. But Lee was on it and again we felt relief at having finally taken care of that problem.
Immediately after the tires were done we were off. Lee had done extensive research on the best route to the Redwoods and unfortunately both roads going over the mountains were on the scary side. So we decided to go all the way south of the mountains and then back up on the other side, and take two days instead of doing it one. The drive down was good, with some icy roads in the beginning but mostly it was an easy drive. There aren’t many places to stay near San Francisco, where Nick lives, unfortunately, so I ended up picking a KOA in Petaluma. Wow. I had forgotten how crowded those could be. The place was packed, the sites super tight, and the price was the most we have ever spent ($58 for one night water and electric only). They did have some nice features for kids such as a petting zoo and a huge bouncy bag, but for us it was not where we would choose to stay. We were also pretty disappointed that the camp itself wasn’t clean when we pulled in (beer caps in the fire pit, ad cigarette butts and small litter everywhere on the site). For that kind of money the place should have been spotless. Then when we called Nick he was still two hours away and could only meet us halfway in the city. I didn’t have it in me to handle San Francisco on a Saturday night so we took a rain check and went to bed early.
The next morning we were up and out early and looking for a Walmart. We wanted to stock up on food prior to hitting the Redwoods and Lee had found a Walmart neighborhood market close by. I hadn’t seen one of these since Florida and was excited to go there but the parking lot was very tight so we headed about an hour up the road and went to a “Super Center” in Ukiah. It was not a huge Walmart but had a decent selection and some really good deals on meat so we filled the freezer and cabinets and walked out $300 poorer. Since we got killed in Glacier going to the local stores I wanted to buy a months worth of everything I could, but we will see how this impacts the budget overall. I am hoping I can get away until the end of the month with minimal trips to the grocery store. Since we were only a couple hours away from the campground we just put away the freezer and fridge items and left everything else out. In retrospect I don’t think I would do that again, however, because it really made my setup time longer especially because I had to rearrange most of the cabinets to get everything put away.
Also up until that point the scenery wasn’t that great. I had a mental image of the Napa/Sonoma area but the parts we were seeing along 101 looked more like Central Florida. Suddenly though, around Geyserville the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. So many vines it boggled the mind and the rolling hills were beautiful in the background. Unfortunately I don’t have pictures because there were not many places to pull over and it started to rain but the views were amazing. As we got closer to the Redwoods the terrain became more hilly. Lee called the road “relentless” as it was very twisty and turny. There were two 6% grades and a 7% which I am happy to say the truck handled beautifully. Lee was a bit stressed though, new engine, new tires, challenging road, but overall he did great. Finally we left 101 and drove on the Avenue of the Giants. We are staying at Burlington Campground at Humboldt State Park and it is very close to many of the important groves like the Founders Grove. We didn’t really know what to expect, but aahhh the trees!
When I was a little girl my mother scraped together money to buy me the World Book Encyclopedia set which came with a set of Child Craft books. I was an only child until I was 12 and we moved around a lot so I spent a lot of time with my nose in a book. I loved that Child Craft set (still have them, couldn’t give them up in the purge) and each book was on a different subject. One was on Plants and Trees and I loved the pictures of the big redwoods. So as we were driving down the Avenue of the Giants I flashed back to those pictures and how much I wanted to see the trees as a young girl. Here I was 40 years later making that dream come true. And the trees do not disappoint. They are so big, that it’s hard to capture them in a picture, although I have tried and when you touch them they feel soft and almost spongy. Some of them are more than 2,000 years old and they are only still here today because a dedicated group of people in 1913 rallied people to protect certain spots against the loggers. Rockefeller donated $2M during the depression to protect a group of trees and other groups paid money to protect a grove. So it was with wide eyes and an open heart when we pulled into our campground, but my bubble was burst a little when no one there was expecting us. We had spoken to John the Ranger who said it was fine if we came in early to avoid the snowstorm, but he was off until Wednesday and hadn’t told anyone we were coming. Because we are 40 feet they were concerned that we wouldn’t fit in any other site and the current hosts were not leaving until the next day. After the volunteer coordinator called around and tried to find us a spot, we finally took a piece of road in a closed section of the campground and boondocked for the night. It actually worked out ok, we just used the generator and some solar and it was very easy to back into our camphost site the next day once Shane and his husband left.
Shane was great. He spent a chunk of the morning walking us through everything we had to do and was very organized. I am so grateful to him, because without him we would have been a bit lost. It’s not that uncommon when volunteeering at a State campground for responsibilities to be a bit vague. Since the rangers seemed pleased by what Shane had done, we decided we would follow his lead and were lucky enough that he was generous with his time. He and his husband volunteer frequently at State Parks and say the disorganization is pretty common. His advice was to stay busy and people would be happy. There are ranger staff at the kiosk from 8-4 every day so we just handle helping people after hours and in the morning. This will leave us during the day to explore the area and he also gave us all the cool places to see. He loved it here and would have stayed if they needed him, and I felt much better Monday morning about the situation. Plus I took a walk around the campground and, oh my. The whole front section that we are in is closed and there is hardly anyone in the back. So beautiful and since it is off season all ours!! Plus we have keys that work on all the gates throughout the entire park so we can take our truck anywhere, even areas that are closed for the season. Super excited and can’t wait to get settled and start exploring. Will let you know how everything goes. Oh and I hope you like pictures of trees because you are going to be seeing plenty of them 🙂
This was at least 20 feet tall and you can walk inside it also
- Put you finger on the word diesel before pumping fuel or you could lose your engine
- Get higher rated tires.
- When getting tires replaced on your rig ask the supervisor to come check the work and double check the pressure and torque yourself!!
- Some things in life live up to their press
Petaluma KOA 20 Rainsville Rd 2 out of 5 pine cones
The sites are super tight and only one vehicle could fit. We have a forty foot trailer and it was close that we weren’t in the road. Very expensive at $58 water and electric only. $75 for full hookups pull through. They did have some nice features for kids such as a petting zoo and a huge bouncy bag, along with a pool and they certainly make the most out of the little space they have. We were also pretty disappointed that the camp itself wasn’t clean when we pulled in (beer caps in the fire pit). For that kind of money the place should have been spotless.
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