October 26 Acton to Menifee

Strange coincidences can be frightening, confusing and annoying. Back when we were heading north from San Diego in the spring of this year, we developed trouble with our electronic brake controller for the trailer when we arrived in Acton. The controller then would flash alternating codes indicating either an overload condition was occurring or there was a short in the system. Regardless of the code flashed, the brakes on our 12,000 pound trailer being towed by an 8,000 pound truck would not work, a condition that can thrilling when descending a long, curvy grade.

Today, when we left the Soledad TT park in Acton some seven months later, the same codes started coming up on the controller’s display. We thought we had fixed the problem last April because the controller worked perfectly for the 9,500 miles we have driven this spring, summer and autumn. We were wrong.

The drive for today started out as about a 2,000 foot climb before cresting the pass and making a 3,500 drop into the Riverside, CA, area. It was our preference that the brakes be functioning on the downgrade. We found some wide spots next to the road (there were lots of them, none shady) and tried cleaning and securing all the controller’s wiring connections and, initially, we got good results and would continue. Eventually, however, the codes and lack of braking would return and we would try more fooling around before continuing.

We crested the pass and the trailer brakes seemed to work although I applied the brakes very rarely, instead relying on careful driving, considerable butthole puckering and heightened attention to traffic issues happening in the distance in front of us. We were beginning to wonder if there was something about Acton that caused the screwy controller issues because as we descended they were absent.

About four hours later, we covered the two hours worth of distance and pulled into the Thousand Trails Wilderness Lakes facility in Menifee, CA, our scheduled destination. As noted before, there is no wilderness nor any lakes in this campground although there are some man-made ditches filled with fetid, green water. Some campers here actually fish for the mutant fish that live in the liquid-filled ditches even paying $12/day for a funny fishing license. We won’t be in Wilderness Lakes for long because we are too close to home and the place is completely without redeeming features other than full hookups. We didn’t hook up to anything other than power so we could make a quick escape in the morning. Fortunately, since this is a TT facility, we don’t have to pay to stay.

October 25 Soledad TT

We anticipate more driving again tomorrow so the plan today was to hang out near the trailer and rest. Tomorrow’s drive will take us up another pass and then crossing the metropolitan hell of the Riverside area initially on poorly-constructed desert pothole demonstration lanes transitioning onto freeways that have been under construction since before I started shaving and overpopulated with lunatics, talentless unlicensed operators and uninsured motorists.

The Tick Fire, west of us and mentioned in yesterday’s post, only gained another 900 acres overnight. The Santa Ana winds have been fierce and I imagine the firefighters over in the 95 degree temperatures are becoming fatigued. The local TV stations have helicopters over the fire and it looks a lot better today than it did yesterday. This afternoon the winds dropped down below about 25 mph which should make the folks hunkered down west of us happy.

October 24 Lemon Cove to Acton

We were back on the road again today for another fairly long drive of about 200 miles. We departed from Lemon Cove Village RV Park and headed southwest on CA-198, originally destined for CA-99. Long before we got to the freeway, we were directed to turn south on CA-65 to go through Exeter, Lindsey, Porterville and Terra Bella. The GPS indicated equal times but less mileage on 65 so we gave it a whirl. It is a good road through farmland and small towns and it is quite pleasant until south of Porterville where it runs through some lumpy grass prairie before entering an area called Oildale. I don’t think anybody actually lives in Oildale but there are rocking oil pumps covering the landscape on about 150 foot centers. There are many shiny pipes running in all directions and mysterious devices filling up the areas between the pumps and the multiple current oil derrick drilling operations, some right in warehouse parking lots.

Just a short time after leaving Oildale, we joined up with CA-99 south for a few miles before turning east up CA-58 into Tehachapi Pass. It is a solid pull from right near Bakersfield with a slight incline gradually transitioning into a slope that had all the big trucks plodding along in the right lane with their hazard lights flashing. Our Charlotte was a powerful friend and, although passenger cars shot right by us, we passed all the trucks without fouling up traffic behind us. We finally passed over Tehachapi Summit at a bit over 4000′ before starting a slow decline into the desert town of Mojave where we had to fill up on diesel. Charlotte may have loads of power but hard pulls up long inclines suck diesel. After filling up and thankfully being able to use their restroom, we turned due south on CA-14 headed for the Angeles Crest. About an hour later, we turned off in the foothills and pulled into Soledad Thousand Trails in Acton. We stopped by and registered and then went looking for a campsite. Due to the interesting funding method Thousand Trails uses to maintain their parks, the electrical system is very shaky which eliminates better than 50% of their available campsites. We eventually found a space with electrical power and sewer but no water. We are happily sharing the one available water tap with our neighbor, unscrewing his hose and filling our on-board water tank before re-attaching his hose.

It is hot here but the Santa Ana winds are blowing from the desert toward the coast so the humidity is around 7%. This type of weather frequently brings out the firebugs. Sure enough, by 4:00 PM, there was a huge plume of smoke visible west of us. We turned on the local news and found the initial plume of smoke was now a 3700 acre fire and the houses of many Republicans were in jeopardy. Since the wind is blowing from the east, we are currently safe but those downwind are in a fiery shit storm and we are glad we are not there. In accordance with the fauna in this part of the state, it is called the Tick Fire.

We rewarded ourselves with a dinner out this evening. We found a Mexican restaurant called La Cabana about 4 miles up the road and popped in for some Negra Modelos and terrific food. Prices were fair and the service was great. The last time we ate out, before tonight, was 700 miles ago in Redding. Thank God Peggy can cook.

Don’t click the link if you don’t want to see Oildale. https://photos.app.goo.gl/X1cH8bSQVfYAr2br5

October 23 Another day in Lemon Cove

This morning we found out that the park’s maintenance guy doesn’t merely drag the park’s clanking, screeching and scraping Gannon around (see yesterday’s post) on days when it might be necessary. He does it every day, including today. As far as I can tell, the park looks identical before and after. However, we did find out that the folks we suspected of making the loud bass thumping noises a couple nights ago and who had departed were not the culprits. The culprit was Mr. Gannon Dragger who dismounted and came over to apologize for making the obnoxious racket right before he blamed it on his “old lady” who was allegedly cleaning. He suggested he didn’t hear it until after dark. I did not ask for more information.

Today our sole venture from the trailer was a short spin into Lemon Cove to top up the diesel tank and ogle some very nice old wooden houses near the only store in town. That gave us ample time to sit in the shade outside and enjoy the surrounding scenery and to misidentify the numerous songbirds that live in the park’s trees. There are a lot of Western Bluebirds, we think.

October 22 Around Lemon Cove

Since we are on what we consider as the fast track through California, we like to lay low for a day or two between travel days to recuperate. Yesterday we were on the road for more than 5 hours, a long time for us elderly types to be doing combat with young drivers recklessly operating faster vehicles, wild-eyed careeners, thoughtless lane changers, urgent quests to find restrooms and cops.

And after last night’s bass and thump serenade lasting well past dark, we spotted what we thought were the noisy types leaving this morning and taking their obnoxious music with them. Unfortunately, a park employee arrived this morning with a tractor equipped with a Gannon drag-behind tool well known on construction sites as an ample noisemaker. The employee dragged this appliance around for quite a while, making sure nobody wanted to remain in what was previously a very quiet park.

So today we tried to avoid the obnoxious racket and did a bit of driving, over to the town of Woodlake where we filled up Charlotte’s ample fuel tank with $91 worth of diesel. We believe that is the most we have ever been required to pay since 2014, when we started this adventure. California’s fuel prices are truly frightening. Less than 14 days ago we were getting diesel for less than $3 in rural Oregon while here in the Golden State we have found only very few places with fuel costs less than $4/gallon and that’s for biodiesel, which is not recommended by Ford in their diesel engines. In Woodlake we turned up CA-245 (the northern ¾ being possibly the most serpentine road in America) for a ways before returning to Woodlake where we rewarded ourselves with some drive-in ice cream.

That’s about it. We went back to our trailer and turned on the air conditioning and poured out some cocktails. The irritant with the Gannon had quit by the time we returned but it was difficult to discern if he did any good. The place looks exactly the same as when we arrived yesterday although it is much quieter.

We took some pix of the Lemon Cove area highlights. Click the link. https://photos.app.goo.gl/bSVWzfqiPSxe3mhq6

October 21 Isleton to Lemon Cove

We continued our southern progress today, leaving the Lighthouse RV Park in the Sacramento River Delta town of Isleton and getting back out on the substandard paving demonstration section known as CA-12. About a dozen lumpy miles later, we turned south on I-5, the main north-south interstate through California. We continued on 5 until we were south of Stockton where we swung east on CA-120 to I-99 at Manteca where we again headed south.

I-99 runs parallel to I-5 from north of Sacramento down to the Bakersfield area but we prefer I-99 since it is less boring, passing through many farming communities. I-5 mostly just passes through dead-flat farmland with nothing but more flat in the distance and an occasional glimpse of aqueducts of the California Water Project moving water from the Delta to thirsty Southern California.

According to our very shaky projection of about three hours of transit on I-99, we were flummoxed by some poor travelers whose $600,000 fancy and gigantic diesel pusher RV inconsiderately erupted in flames and backed up traffic for about five or ten miles, adding about a half hour to our trip. Near the town of Selma, a trucker who neglected to look in his mirror abruptly careened his tractor and 53′ trailer into our lane while we were occupying the space he wanted, forcing us into the #1 lane, a lane we rarely use because California limits us to 55 mph and condemns us to the ridicule and upraised middle digits of the motorists passing quickly on our left.

We finally made it to Visalia where we turned east on CA-198 and headed toward the Sierra foothills community of Lemon Cove. There we pulled into the Lemon Cove Village RV Park where we stayed as we passed through this area this last spring. When we were here back in late April or early May, our stay was pleasant with no nightime noise, balmy weather and Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks just a short drive up the hill into the Sierras.

Last time we were here, we were assigned a space where there were no substantial trees to the south, a primary requirement to get satellite TV reception. This time, despite the park being almost completely vacant, we were assigned one of the only spaces with tree to the south so we have a long piece of cable to reach our antenna which is set up in an adjacent RV space. We also found some minor issues with the site electrical pedestal but we quickly got around that. This evening, one of the very few neighbors decided that everybody in the park wanted to hear their loud music which, based on the way it sounded, was mostly solos for bass guitar, bass drum and tom-tom. The only recourse when encountering inconsiderate twits with loud music complaints is to get ahold of park staff to have them enforce the anti-jerk rules. Unfortunately, two attempts to contact management were absolutely ignored and, despite closing all our windows and doors, turning on the air conditioning and turning up the volume on our TV so even the deaf could hear it, we were still serenaded by the type of music that makes people hate those making it.

It is unfortunate that the folks running the park let assholes run roughshod over their other customers because it is a very nice park with good access roads, lots of birds (although we currently can’t hear them), adequate spaces, full hookups and some WiFi. In addition, it is located in a good spot to stop on our long treks through Central California. Maybe we should look elsewhere next time.

See the fricasseed RV. Click the link. https://photos.app.goo.gl/Md5k6RrhtJUGG5Ku9

October 20 At the Lighthouse

On our journeys, we try to pass through California’s Central Valley as quickly as possible since the place is, frankly, quite boring unless interested in farming. From our house in San Diego, we are obliged to traverse this area on any trips to or from the Pacific Northwest so we just have to make do – quickly.

Yesterday we knocked out better than 200 miles, about our limit for a day considering the time to break down and store all our stuff, disconnect from park utilities, hook up the trailer and connect the brakes, get out on the road to do the wayfinding and highway driving at California’s lethal, breakneck maximum towing speed of 55 mph and registering and setting up utilities in the new location.

With that in mind, we went no place today other than a fuel station to fill up the tank because tomorrow we will knock out another 200+ mile day into southern California, specifically to the foothills below Sequoia National Park.

It was quite nice doing nothing today. I seem to be quite good at it.

October 19 Redding to Isleton

The southward progress of our trek towards warmth continued today. We broke camp in Redding and hopped on I-5 for the long leg toward Excremento, capital of California and quagmire of governmental tomfoolery. Fortunately, we exited I-5 north of the rampant shennanigans and turned due south on CA-113, an amazingly lumpy two-lane road that allowed us to avoid the nightmare of official traffic congestion and to soon intersect with I-80. We turned west on 80 for two exits and then continued south on an even lumpier section of CA-113 where the paving is such that all the contents of our trailer were rearranged into a more random arrangement.

After encountering some of the most jarring pavement surfaces available outside a motor vehicle test facility, we came to a surprise roundabout in the middle of nowhere where we turned east on CA-12, toward Lodi and the Sacramento River Delta. After some more mildly terrifying high speed/low passing clearance driving, we got to a place called Isleton where we turned off onto a very skinny road atop a Sacramento River levee which we followed for a few miles before arriving at The Lighthouse RV Park (at least our second “Lighthouse RV Park” on this year’s excursion, neither within sight of any lighthouses) and dropping down their nearly vertical driveway and into our lodgings for the next two days.

This park has full hookups, at least in our space, WiFi available at usurious rates and is located about 30 feet below the the top of a massive dike along the Sacramento River and one downpour away from uncontrollable flooding if the levee breaks. Reassuringly, the dike is made of dirt.

October 18 Mt. Gate RV Park

Today we hung out close to the trailer. We dumped the waste tanks, Peggy cleaned the awning and we ate very well since yesterday’s shopping nightmare is now paying off with the refrigerator and cupboards of the affluent. Tomorrow we will reluctantly leave this place and continue south.

The Redding area is very pretty, the weather has been superb and the surrounding countryside is gorgeous with amazing colorful vegetation, majestic rock and volcano formations, spectacular waterfalls and rivers, beautiful lakes and abundant wildlife. This October, however, it is bone-dry and even the most insignificant error with open flame coupled with some breeze or a volcanic eruption will result in a fiery holocaust that could consume everything in this stunning region. We hope it rains soon. Time to go. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, for arsonists.

October 17 Challenge Shopping in Redding

Redding is a very attractive city but there are only a few exits from I-5, the primary north-south highway in this part of California. The result is an absolutely bewildering web of thoroughfares that go in almost full circles before terminating in uncrossable highways or dead ends near the freeway. All of these busy roads have substantial dividers running down the center, potentially averting collisions but certainly eliminating free thinkers and fuel economy buffs from taking the shortest or most efficient routes. Left turns are almost right out. This area offer numerous visible businesses where “You can’t get there from here,” or maybe anywhere.

Despite this confusing arrangement, we were able to find the Redding Costco which, it turns out, is almost adjacent to I-5 although we went through multiple stoplights at busy multi-lane intersections before turning east and north and south and west and ultimately entering the parking lot. After an ample re-supply, we then went through more counter-intuitive rambling before arriving at a Trader Joe’s where additional retirement dollars flew out of our accounts in exchange for some of T. Joe’s tasty products which went into our stuffed larders back at the trailer. Returning home was the highlight of today’s ramblings.