The truck is running on battery power only so we have curtailed our driving as much as possible. !!#*?!! alternator.
I spent the morning whipping up breakfast for today and cooking up some ingredients for quicker breakfast prep the next few days. Peggy wandered out into the warm weather and did some vigorous trailer scrubbing. I got to watch the NASCAR All-Star race. We were pretty dull folks for most of today.
However, right at about 4:00 one of the park operators showed up at our door with the daily delivered popcorn and also told us she could offer us free tickets to some auto racing scheduled for this evening. I asked where this racing was to take place and she pointed across the street to the adjacent Siskiyou Golden Fairgrounds. Soon we were afoot on our way to the races.
They only had a few classes of cars racing although it seemed like there were plenty of entrants for a small town like Yreka. One class had four cylinder cars and light trucks, vehicles notorious for tail-happy performance when driving on dirt. Very few of the body panels on these race vehicles were straight at the end of the heat and final races. Two classes of cars had big V-8s installed in car bodies that only generally resembled passenger cars. They turned out to be extremely durable because almost all the cars made it to the finals although virtually none of them looked like they did when the races started earlier in the afternoon. One car was driven at high speed into the end of the K-rail near a track entry point and it was destroyed. Since this is a small track in a small town, there is not really a wall between the track and points outside the track surface; it is merely a dirt berm at the track edge except in front of the grandstands where there is both wall and catch fence. Cars going wide on turns 2 or 3 just disappear over the berm, sometime re-entering the race from another spot along the back straightaway. It was brilliant, if not dusty. After much uncorked exhaust noise and great action, we filed out after the last race for the stroll back home.
Yreka has turned out to be very nice for us. In Waiiaka RV Park we have good cable TV, screaming wifi, full hookups, very good prices, a superb campground staff, tasty popcorn delivery every afternoon, very pleasant weather, free auto races across the street and an attractive place to camp. If it wasn’t for our truck alternator crapping out here, I would be hard-pressed to say anything bad about Yreka and it’s pretty plain these folks had nothing to do with that.
Today we had an opportunity to engage in our favorite activity which is exploring. Peggy prepped a lunch, we filled up our driving cups with icy water and hopped into Charlotte and fired up our recently replaced motor. Before we could get her into gear, a very irritating little light behind an icon looking suspiciously like a car battery appeared on the dashboard display. We have had some strange lights appear on the dash before, like the airbag icon or a seat belt icon, and were able to make them go away by shutting off the truck, pulling out the stupid smart key and then sticking the key back into the lock and firing off the motor. The same technique did not work with the battery light.
Very close to our current RV spot here in Yreka is Jim Wilson Motors, a Ford dealership. We drove over and their service guys said we could bring it in at the end of two weeks and they would fix any problems they could diagnose. I explained to them that two weeks would not work out for us since we are travelers and have many reservations at RV parks ahead on our schedule.
They agreed to find us a space in the afternoon today to run a charging system check. We took a short drive in the truck and it seemed okay other than the annoying little illuminated battery icon leering out from the dashboard. We soon found our way back to the trailer for some NASCAR racing before returning to the Ford dealer for our diagnosis. The quick diagnosis took a couple hours during which we loafed around in their sucker’s lounge. We met and had long conversations with a few locals, which around here means living within 60 miles of the Ford dealer.
It turned out that our alternator has crapped out but this is a rural area, so the soonest we can get a new alternator delivered will be Tuesday and it won’t get installed until Wednesday at 10:00 AM. Fortunately, just like our recent engine replacement fiasco in Santa Fe, NM, we are in a nice park in a beautiful area. Santa Fe was gorgeous and the park was on a ridge overlooking a massive flat with snow-capped mountains on the horizon. Here in Yreka at the Waiiaka RV Park, we are set up in a big orchard of hardwood trees and the park has rocket-speed wifi, cable TV, full hookups and the park owners bring by warm, buttery popcorn each afternoon around 4:00 PM. The owners also were very reasonable about us extending our stay until next Thursday while we await truck repairs. They even gave us a discounted weekly rate instead of charging us for 7 nights which saves us about $35.
Realizing we were going to be staying in Yreka a bit longer than we planned, we decided to break out some of our outdoor gear, particularly the barbecue which we used to grill up a couple of New Yorks and Peggy whipped up a great salad. We spent the remainder of the afternoon unmaking our recently made reservations for the next few stops on our journey to accommodate the slight delay we have encountered here. We did not make much reservation headway so we broke out some porter and Jack Daniel’s and called it a day.
There’s a picture. Click here
We had another travel day today but, fortunately, we only had a relatively short drive of less than 100 miles although it was through the Siskiyou range of mountains. The first half of the trip from Shasta passes through valleys of the gorgeous range but that makes for very few straight sections and long climbs and descents.
We soon came out into the massive meadows along the ridge at Weed, favorite town for marijuana smokers to buy T-shirts. We continued through the gently rolling hills of green until we pulled out at Yreka. There we pulled into the Waiiaka RV Park which offers easy to access pull-thru RV spaces, full hookups, screaming-fast wifi, cable TV and, right now, scant crowds. We set up, broke out some adult beverages and relaxed. It was great. I like this retirement stuff.
There’s a nice picture of Mount Shasta if you click here
Reservations, unfortunately, need to be made in advance if intending to spend any holiday weekends or summer days in your RV in any park chosen so we spent the morning at the Holiday Harbor clubhouse/store/restaurant attempting to contact RV parks to the north of us. We logged onto the restaurant wifi network which was slower than either molasses or dial-up. Any attempts to reserve RV spots online were foiled by the primitive wifi network available. Attempts to contact parks north of us by phone was also problematic because the cell phone service at Holiday Harbor is also spotty, disconnecting callers at the most inopportune times.
After quite a bit longer than it should have required, we managed to get secured reservations through Memorial Day but not much further. By 1:00 PM, we were finished with the onerous task and were free to explore.
We hopped into Charlotte, crept up the Holiday Harbor access road of death and veered onto I-5 southbound. We had only gone about 5 miles before we discovered that I had not ascertained that we had our Nikon with us for photos of any explorations we make so we turned around and went back down the access road of death to get what we needed. Another pass up the Camino de la Chickens and we took off onto I-5, this time northbound.
Not 25 miles up I-5 is Castle Crags, a California state park with a series of spectacular rock formations, in addition to a nice shady forest. We exited I-5, drove the short distance to the entrance booth and gave the nice volunteer ranger $7 to drive into the park. The roads in the park are very narrow so we crept along at about 10 mph before we found a spot where we could park our enormous, beloved truck and get out for a bit of strolling. We took a short path to a place listed as an observation point although we were in thick forest and views of anything other than trees seemed impossible. After a very pleasant walk, we arrived at a clearing on a ridge where we could gaze at Castle Crags to the west and a magnificent Mount Shasta to the north. The views are stunning.
After our walk, we left the park and continued north on I-5 until we turned east on CA-89 north of Dunsmuir. 89 is a gorgeous, mostly-straight pass through pine forest with the imposing volcano, Mount Shasta, to the north. About 40 miles from Dunsmuir, we took a short scenic loop to check out the McCloud River’s Lower Falls, which turned out to be a nasty set of rapids and not really a waterfall, per se. Yosemite Falls – that’s a “falls.” McCloud River Lower Falls ain’t although it is located in the middle of some gorgeous country.
After about 50 or 60 miles, we came to Burney where we turned west on CA-299, a screwy road through some beautiful forests before descending into river valleys just chock-full of hardwood trees and giant pastures. Maybe 50 miles later, we pulled back into Redding where we turned north to again head down the death road into Holiday Harbor. I-5/CA-89/CA-299 is a very nice series of roads through magnificent scenery and we recommend it.
Check the pix. Click here
This day was dedicated to the mundane. Peggy and I drove into Redding and shopped at the Two Towers of Retail – Costco and Trader Joe’s. Because of all the shopping we do at Costco, Peggy had cleverly been able to take advantage of a rebate program and we got better than $275 back from member services to reduce our ample grocery bill. Our grocery bills at Costco can be frightening, especially since we try to buy Jack Daniel’s by the half gallon and Irish Cream by the case before we leave the state. Soon we will be in Oregon where Kirkland Irish Cream is unavailable and Jack Daniel’s costs $60 a handle at the green front store. Washington is even worse.
The Trader Joe’s here in Redding is the only store I can recollect with ample parking. It is also infested with old people like me instead of the yuppies normally encountered in any other Joe’s. We hauled our booty home and moved it from the truck into the cabinets and the fridge. That took a good while because we really stocked up.
I filled the freshwater tank on board the trailer. I dumped and rinsed the waste tanks. Peggy graciously did our laundry in the sparsely-equipped laundry room here at Holiday Harbor RV Campground. It took a while because despite us having numerous loads of laundry, there are only two washing machines here.
We lounged in the campground, noting the ospreys, cranes and scrub jays hanging around us. A family of western tanagers came by giving us a visual treat. We also spotted a very rotund doe who was almost unbothered by us as she trimmed the local vegetation. Holiday Harbor has a crummy access road but once here, the place is actually quite pretty. Coupled with that is a total lack of irritating and annoying noises emanating from our phone because there is absolutely no wifi, internet access or phone service here. It is kinda nice.
There are pix. Unfortunately, through incompetence, tomorrow’s photos can also be seen. Click here
The day started out with me getting information that I was taking Peg out for breakfast. It seemed an excellent plan so we hopped into Charlotte and drove south into Redding. On the internet we had found a place called Lumberjacks that seemed to be the type of joint we were looking for.
I found an item on the menu called an Extreme Breakfast and ordered one. Peg chose the Reuben. The Extreme Breakfast turned out to be no idle boast; a couple eggs, hash browns, two slices of French toast, four tubby sausages, four slices of thick bacon and about a half pound of ham. I believe it is the most massive breakfast I have ever been served and, like a crazed hog, I threw it all down the grocery hole although progress towards the end was pretty slow. Peggy’s Reuben turned out to be something other than advertised, possibly containing roast beef. My breakfast, on the other hand, was great although it should surely be branded as heart death.
After my turn at the trough, we took off for some aimless exploring. We drove by Shasta Dam and the now-full Lake Shasta trapped behind it. We have passed up and down I-5 by Lake Shasta many times over the last 40 years and, as far as I can recall, this is the first time the Lake was full. We found a nice spot south of the dam where we could check out the Dam, the Lake and Mount Shasta, a massive volcano, on the horizon. On the way down from our viewpoint, we got a glimpse of Mount Lassen, another massive volcano, to the east. The spectacular clear skies helped us enjoy the views of distant stuff.
We found our way to CA-299, California’s version of the Highway of Death. The road runs from Redding to Eureka on the coast. The western half of the road is famous for spectacular car and truck wrecks so we stayed on the east end, traveling only as far as Tower House near Lake Whiskeytown. A guy named Tower built a road and toll bridge and some lodging structures here back in the 19th century. He was also mining for gold and he and his relatives did well with the gold, bridge tolls and rooms for travelers. Unfortunately for him, he croaked when he got typhoid fever while visiting San Francisco. His sister, who had come from back east to help her brother, had married Tower’s partner named Camden and together they built a gorgeous house and made additional site improvements after Levi Tower had his Frisco vacation derailed. By 1900, the family had moved south to Oakland for winters returning in summers. In the 1920s, the hotel burned down.
Lake Whiskeytown is pretty, the terrain is gorgeous and, since this area is a National Park, there is a good chance it won’t get turned into a fetid stinkhole surrounded by condominiums. We are glad we took a spin through this area today.
We took a few photos you can see if you click here
Today was another travel day. We generally try to schedule travel with the trailer more often than every other day but Lake Minden TT was so uninspiring that we doubled up and headed north. It took us a while fiddling around on back roads and passing through little communities before we made it to I-5 near Williams and turned northwest toward the Oregon border. North of Williams we were passed by a series of brightly painted, decal-encrusted European and American sports cars that apparently had been having a race nearby and were on their way home. The CHP became interested because they had a few of them pulled over and were giving the drivers very sour looks. Maybe someone bolted because there were a lot of cops. We passed through about a million acres of nut, olive and fruit trees, Red Bluff and Redding before crossing the impressive steel bridge over Lake Shasta. Not too much further up the interstate, we turned off on Shasta Caverns Road and took a turn at the challenging curvy, narrow grade before pulling into the Holiday Harbor RV Park right along the edge of the Lake.
The road into Holiday Harbor would scare away most reasonable, prudent people but the RV park down at the bottom is pretty nice. There is a great shade canopy of trees. There are full hookups but no internet or phone service. The lake is beautiful and it is very quiet. Our satellite dish works perfectly here. The temperature today was in the mid-70s. There are ospreys, big scrub jays and woodpeckers that we spotted this afternoon but we also set up our chaises outside and soon us geezers were napping. It was great.
We got a few pix along the way. Click here
Today was a travel day. We reluctantly departed from TT Yosemite Lakes and drove west on CA-120. After quite a bit of steep climbing and descending, we came to the geezer-frightening Priest Grade and followed the steep drop down the 6 miles of harrowing curves before arriving at the bottom and flatter land. Thanks to Ford and Forest River for good brakes because we needed ’em.
We maintained maximum California speed, to the greatest extent possible, as we zinged across nice agricultural land until we got to Manteca where we turned north on CA-99. The first hour wasn’t too bad but we ran into some horrible traffic in Sacramento and were able to observe many terrible drivers doing strange things like failing to yield, illegal multiple lane changes, oblivious merging and outright speeding and/or reckless driving. It was bizarre. Many hand gestures were noted.
North of Sacramento we broke out of the knotty traffic nightmare and continued north on CA-99 to Nicolaus where we pulled into the Lake Minden Thousand Trails. We have been here before and it was nearly vacant then but today it is open for business and almost all 200+ spots are filled. The campground and artificial lake are located in the middle of a nut tree orchard so it is pretty quiet. We are at a loss to explain why so many people are here because there is very little to do in or near Nicolaus except fishing in the lake for bluegills and carp. We are only here for one night before continuing our northward trek to find reasonable temperatures. The park has some spaces with sewer but we didn’t get one of those. We found a spot in the cheap section and climbed into the Barbarian Invader to rest up for more travel tomorrow.
Pix? – click here
Weather can be fickle. Yesterday we went into stunning Yosemite Valley and spent the entire day wandering about the valley floor. The weather was almost perfect; a bit of haze but otherwise bright and sunny. Today was a different story. It rained late last night and as we drove over the ridges between our campground and the park, we ran into heavy fog offering visibility of less than 75 feet. We continued anyway expecting the fog to lift since we could see clear skies way off in the west.
We were wrong. The waterfalls and extraordinary rock walls of the glacially-formed valley were not visible this morning except right down at their bottoms. After a spin around the valley floor loop, we decided to try going out CA-41 through the long Wawona tunnel and driving up to Glacier Point which is a few thousand feet higher along the upper edge of the valley. The fog was even heavier or maybe we had just driven into the clouds but either way there were only quick glimpses of the massive valley below us as the clouds blew by. What quick views we had were gorgeous but fleeting. There was snowmelt water running everywhere, sometimes in big streams across the road.
The road to Glacier Point is steep and very screwy so the speed limits are either 25 mph or 35 mph and it seemed only road racing vehicles could go faster than the posted limits. Driving errors along this road are either expensive or fatal. We nearly crashed into a couple of oncoming vehicles that had drivers who believed it was perfectly acceptable for them to drive with a portion of their vehicles in the our opposing lane, particularly on corners. Their dramatic corrections to leave our lane before contact gave some of them comical facial expressions, mostly of terror.
When we arrived back on the valley floor around 2:00 PM, the fog had lifted somewhat so we took another spin around the loop to see some of the grand views we fell in love with yesterday. Yosemite Falls was visible from the top of the first plunge all the way to the bottom of the lower falls. The swinging bridge across the Merced River, which had about two feet of clearance between the bridge and the surface of the river yesterday had no clearance today. The spot where Ansel Adams took his trademark picture of the valley with Bridalveil Falls on the right and massive El Capitan on the right was available to us today and the view was stunning.
We finally finished up our second loop and drove back down CA-120 to our campground in Buck’s Meadow. We will gather up our satellite antenna, dump tanks, disconnect from the water and electrical service and depart tomorrow for points further north in California. It has been very pleasant being in the mountains where it is cool after our last few stops in Menifee, Acton and Three Rivers where it was quite warm. We are headed for the Siskiyou Range that divides Oregon and California with stops along the way someplace north of Sacramento, maybe a stop in Red Bluff and another near Mount Shasta. I am glad I had the truck and trailer recently serviced because we have to go back down Priest Grade first thing tomorrow. I’m glad we have new brakes because we will need them.
We got some pix you can see if you click here
This morning we popped out of bed and took off for Yosemite Valley. From TT Yosemite Lakes, we drove east for about 8 or 10 miles through the Stanislaus National Forest until we crossed into Yosemite National Park. There are a couple of 6000 foot ridges we crossed before coming around a corner to be dazzled by a spectacular view of Yosemite Valley.
We visited Yosemite back in October 2014 and, at that time, there were no waterfalls, the Merced River was just a trickle and vast tracts of mountain bushes, trees and grasses were dying from drought. Fortunately, this year California received ample rain and, more importantly, snow. The snowpacks are melting now so the Merced River is swollen right up over the valley floor roads in a few spots. The waterfalls are open for business and they are magnificent. El Capitan’s 4000 foot tall rock monolith and the giant granite hemisphere of Half Dome are truly extraordinary scenes, visible from lots of locations on the valley floor. Peggy had pre-assembled a terrific lunch and we stopped at a picnic area to eat while gazing at the awe-inspiring scenery all around us. I have never eaten in a better spot.
It was considerably more crowded today than it was in 2014. With the increase in crowds, more idiot drivers are available to foul up the ordinarily quite orderly traffic and they were busy today. It is probably wise to figure that when the crowds swell, you are not going anywhere quickly. We took a route up all the valley floor roads and were amply rewarded with visions of astoundingly beautiful territory, pounding waterfalls, and glacial geology that is unmistakable coupled with a massive torrent of water headed down the Merced which bisects the valley floor. This is certainly another bucket list trip.
There are a few pix if you click here