Monday, September 26, 2016

September 19, 2016 - Oh my! Time just flies by and we're now back in Texas.

Since leaving Eagle Lake we moved on to the Wonderland MH and RV Park in Redding, California, a so-so but economical campground with full hook up in Redding, California. The park itself was not too bad but the spaces were very cramped and due to the trees in between the sites, satellite was a chore to connect. Our left slide was about 1 foot away from the neighbor’s awning and sitting area. Luckily there was no one on our right. Bill was sick with a bronchial congestion (probably in part from the high altitudes) so this was a welcome change from our previous 5,000 – 6,000 feet, at just 500 feet. Also there was another VA outpatient clinic there so he got attention and meds for it there (2 visits). We spent 8 nights in Redding at the Wonderland RV Park ($150 for the 8 nights) with full hook up, it was hard to complain about the close proximity even with the short spaces and hard maneuverability for a 41 foot coach. We didn’t do too much in this area, other than go to the V.A., and shop at Costco, but did manage a trip to the Lassen Volcanic National Park and a visit to explore some lava tubes.

Toward the end of our stay there we managed to get an appointment with Fleetwood Warranty at the factory in Decatur IN for October 17th until ALL our new coach issues were taken care of (including a crack in the right outer wall at a corner of the bedroom slide).  Then we found out that we still had an issue to deal with back in Texas, so since we already had an appointment to be in Decatur IN on October 17th, we decided to get there via Texas, so we made a 14-nightreservation at the Thousand Trails Lake Conroe Campground & RV Park on Lake Conroe, which is beautiful and FREE.

We decided to drive down IH-5 to IH-15 to IH-40East, which is when one realizes just how BIG California really is. On our way to Texas we stayed one night at a small campground in Williams AZ, 3 nights at a campground in Grants NM and 2 nights at rest stops. Though we had taken care of our issue in Texas, we also considered future camping savings and purchased a Thousand Trails Elite membership upgrade. Our 2-Zone Camping Pass membership allowed us a 14-night stay FREE with a required 7-night stay out of the Thousand Trails system (i.e. at other non TT campgrounds or dry camping somewhere else AND it only allowed us Thousand Trails campgrounds in the South EAST and South WEST zones, which include campgrounds as follows:  Florida (3), Georgia (1), South Carolina (2), Alabama (0), Mississippi (0), Louisiana (0), Texas (7), Arizona (1), Nevada (1), California (15),Oregon (4), and Washington (12) for a total of  46 eligible campgrounds. Under our upgraded plan we can stay up to 21 consecutive nights absolutely FREE (no $3 daily charge after the first 30 days) at ANY of ALL of the Thousand Trails WORLD/NATIONWIDE (US plus Canada and Mexico) AND there is no longer any time period that we need to be out of the Thousand Trails system, so we can go from one TT campground that we just stayed 21 nights at, directly into ANY other TT campground and stay there for up to another 21 nights, and so on, at over 730 campgrounds. Additionally, we can also stay at any ENCORE campground for only $0 - $20 per night, depending on the level of luxury of the each campground. For example, there’s one on the beach just outside of Key West. Try getting a $20 rate anywhere near Key West. Also reservations can be made up to 210 days in advance vs. 60 days under the previous membership.

So we have been at this campground for the original 14 nights, and upon upgrading extended our stay for 21-nights more… ALL FREE. Therefore we shall be here until September 30th, when we will go North and East towards Decatur IN for our October 17th appointment, though arriving there on the 16th, as Fleetwood will put us in their own campground for FREE; then pick up the coach by 06:00am and return it to us by 02:00pm every day until we are satisfied that all issues are resolved to our satisfaction. At that point our plan (so far) is to start heading back home, although we may stop in at Gaffney, SC to visit the main Freightliner Service Facility to have the coach serviced for its first maintenance service and go over the owner maintenance requirements with them.

The photos are not as many as in previous posts because we have been doing less outings around here, but we did not want y’all to think we had gotten lost or something

08/14 - Shasta Dam, Redding CA 
Since Shasta Dam was so close to where we were staying, we thought we would check it out.  It was HOT!!  Not a day to really enjoy the beautiful park-like area around the dam.  But, from inside the Visitors Center we had an opportunity to watch the raptors soaring above the dam area.  One stopped mid-flight and dove straight for the river below.  Since the river was out of sight at that particular point, we didn’t get to see if the dive was successful.  It was an awesome sight. The other striking scene was in the forest across the lake.  The leaves on the trees were bright red, but it area.  We learned that the fire retardant dropped on the fire to put it out was the cause of the bright red color.  Check the attached pictures.

08/15 – Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA 

We heard about this park while we were staying at Eagle Lake.  It is very small by National Park Standards at only 106,452 acres and just over 400,000 visitors a year.  However, it shares many of the most famous features with Yellowstone.  The last time Lassen erupted was in 1921, but that was merely the end of a series of eruptions of varying severity that began in 1914.  Mt. Lassen, the peak from which the park receives its name, reaches a height of 10,463 feet and highest point of the road through the park reaches an altitude of 8,512 feet.  Yep, it was much cooler than down in Redding!  About 25 degrees cooler.  And yes, Bill got to play in snow again.  We had intended to visit Bumpass Hell, which is an area of thermal features.  The area includes steaming sulphur vents, mud pots, boiling springs and fumaroles.  Unfortunately, it was a 1.5 mile hike each way and with Bill’s bronchial issue and the 8,000’ it was not to be.

To make up for not seeing Bumpass Hell, we stopped instead at a lava tube.  We climbed down a stairway built where the ceiling of the lava tube collapsed and entered a very eerie place.  The Park Service has not installed any lighting in the lava tube, so it is completely dark once one leaves the area immediately below the opening.  It is also quite cool, particularly by Florida standards.  The temperature is a constant 46 degrees year around, fortunately, we had followed the advice in the brochure and had flashlights and jackets with us.  The tube varied in height from about 6.5 feet to 12 or more and in width from 12 or so to over 20 feet.
The floor was not very even, so I paid a lot of attention to my feet to maintain my footing.  There were some pretty deep cracks in the floor, hinting at another lava tube below.  In all, the tube was probably more than a quarter of a mile long, before we came to a second stairway that took us back to the surface.  More than once we both thought about the earth tremors we had felt in the Eagle Lake area.  All we could do was hope that there would not be any while we were underground.



On our way through California to pick up Interstate 40 to head back toward Texas, the effect of the drought was very evident as we drove through the San Joaquin Valley.  There seems to be a war of sorts going on between the farmers in the valley and the folks in the city.  We noted numerous signs indicating that farmers use the water to grow food for the nation.  All along our trip we have seen windmill farms, but the one we saw as we were traveling toward Arizona was the McDaddy of them all, as you will probably be able to tell by the photos.
08/19 - Dry Camping on IH-40
The real interesting event of this portion of the trip was after we stopped at a wide spot at an exit to spend the night.  (NOTE:  we ended up staying on the side of exit ramps a couple of times because about every other Rest Area that we have come across has been closed and sometimes there has been more than 200 miles between open rest areas.)  But back to why this stop was more interesting than others.  We had been having some issues with the battery in the Explorer not holding the charge while being towed, so Bill went out to check on the situation while Mary worked on fixing some dinner.  It was nearly dark outside.  When Bill came back into the coach, he was not alone.  He had found a young (20s) woman walking along the road.  Keep in mind, this exit is MILES from anything.  It seems she had just been released from the local jail, which was on the other side of the highway, and quite a distance away from it at that.  It was so far away, that it did not show up on Google Maps when we were trying to identify a place to park for a few hours.  According to her story, she had been in jail on a misdemeanor charge and was looking for the person coming to pick her up and the battery had died in her iPhone. We couldn’t help her with charging the phone, as Bill’s phone is an iPhone 5 and her phone was a 4 so the charging tips were different.  If she had had an Android, we could have helped her and even given her a charger.  So she left and walked back toward where she had arranged to meet her friend, hoping he was going to be there.  Bill went out again about midnight to make sure she had found a ride or at least offer her some food/soda or possibly a safe haven for the night, but she was no where around so hopefully she was picked up by her friend, or obtained a ride in to where she wanted to go. 

08/20 – Canyon Motel & RV Park, Williams AZ
When doing our original trip planning in February and March, we had identified this park as a reasonable place to stay while visiting the Grand Canyon area, so nothing fancy, but gave us full hookups and a place to relax after spending a couple of nights on the road.  (Unfortunately the photos were corrupted.)
08/21 – En route to Grants, NM
Travel on this section of road was relatively uneventful.  The scenery is ever changing, from pasture with small low trees to red rock cliffs and scrub sage for vegetation.  As we got closer to Grants, the volcanic origin of the landscape became more apparent.  
NEXT POST:   08/22-24 -


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