Saturday, April 1, 2023

April 2023

Saturday: (04/01) Granola and a banana for breakfast. I took a walk around the rocks near camp and found lots of flowers. Types, not quantity. Finding them is more like finding nuggets. I took my first shower with the van. An outside shower at the rear of the van with the doors open and a tarp across the opening. Easy enough but my pump motor relay would not stay on so I had to wait for it to pulse enough water into the accumulator to get any flow. It’s an easy enough fix for my next shower by just jumping the pump on before I start my shower. I was in no hurry to leave and in fact was considering spending another night here but I decided to move on. I returned down the hill to Baker and stopped for lunch at The Mad Greek for a pork gyro. I then continued North on Highway 127 toward Death Valley. Traffic was terrible due to a very poorly managed runners event of all the police agencies from Southern California do a relay run from Baker to Las Vegas. We have to hope that no emergencies occur in Southern California like an earthquake or the like because all there command post vehicles, ambulances, and personnel are out in the desert. 25 miles at <10 mph average. I turned off to go over to Tecopa to explore. I went out to China Ranch Date Farm for a date shake. I also found the type of southwest blanket I want for the van but didn’t get one because I’ll wait for Lou to come out and smell it to see if she can live with it. I also stopped to check a hot spring for a possible visit in the future. Since I just had a shower I didn’t want to pollute my body nor take another shower today. I continued on the Shoshone encountering more runners. Fortunately they finished at Shoshone for today. Unfortunately, it isn’t that much of a benefit since I turned onto Highway 178 at the far end of town and headed into Death Valley NP. I stopped for the night about 50 miles South of Badwater by taking a side road up about a ¼ mile from the main road. It was nice to be settled in before dark as I should do but haven’t been doing. I had a pulled pork and cheese sandwich for dinner.

Sunday: (04/02) Banana and granola for breakfast. Green salad for lunch. Shepherd’s pie for dinner. After a nice banana I took a walk across the wash I was camped next to. It was a wide wash with many riverlet courses. After reaching the far side I hiked up stream and then came back on the road to the van. I discovered I had a neighbor just around a bend in the road. I then left my campsite and continued on into the park. I took hikes at Sidewinder Wash and Natural Arch as well as stopping for everything else along the way. I got to Furnace Creek about 1430 and checked into a site at Sunset campground. Later I made contact with some fellow SJMW hikers. We’ll be doing some hikes here for the next three days.

Monday: (04/03) Granola and bacon jerky for breakfast. I move over the the Visitor Center to meet my fellow hikers at 0830. We traveled down to Badwater and walked out in the salt flat. From there we headed back North stopping at Natural Bridge for a short walk to see it. Then we continued up to Artists Drive to see the colored hills. And our final stop was at Golden Canyon where we took our real hike, a 7 mile loop up to Zabriskie Point through Golden Canyon going up and back through Gower Gulch. We had gusty wind all afternoon and an effective dust storm late afternoon and evening. I had a pulled pork sandwich before the hike at the trailhead and chili and chips for dinner.

Tuesday: (04/04) Granola and bacon jerky for breakfast. We visited the dunes and hiked Mosaic Canyon before lunch. Ham and cheese with hummus sandwich for lunch. We then made our way to Darwin Falls Trailhead for the hike out to the falls. I couldn’t drive out the gravel ross to the trailhead because of some washout damage near the beginning of the road. I caught a ride with Dana, Mina and Rani the rest of the way. Definitely worth the drive and hike. Beautiful falls. From there I left the others and the park and continued on to Lone Pine. I got gas and more water and some orange juice at the market. I camped at Tuttle Creek BLM campground just below Mt Whitney. Ramen noodles with chili and a green salad for dinner.

Wednesday: (04/05) Rolled out of the campground around 0700. I drove out to the Alabama Hills Movie Road to see about camping there. Yes there is some camping but only in designated campsites and very soon will require a permit available online. I didn’t go past the entrance area on Movie Road because of all the re-construction happening there. I returned to downtown for breakfast at the Mt Whitney Restaurant. I enjoyed a green chili omelet. Then I was back on the road. I stopped at the Coso Rest Area and attended my Wednesday webinar there. After that I continued down to Highway 178 and headed into Kernville to look at what the recent flooding did. Not much damage to housing or businesses. The park was ravaged by the water though. I then came down Kern Canyon into Bakersfield. I stopped for an early dinner at the Rice Bowl Chinese Restaurant. I enjoyed a nice shrimp dinner. I picked up some taffy chews from Dewar's candy shop. I had difficulty deciding where to go or stay next. I finally decided it would be Walmart on Rosedale highway and if kicked out from there the TA Truck Stop at Buttonwillow. If I get to stay in town I may get breakfast at Milt’s, if not on to the Carizon Plans again. People still say the flowers are good there?

Thursday: (04/06) Granola for breakfast. I departed Walmart at 0530 with the idea to go by Milt’s for breakfast. Of course they were not open and in fact there are now gates enclosing their parking lot that were locked. I had enough doubt of their opening at all because they looked very closed. So, I headed off toward the Carrizo Plains out Highway 58 to Highway 33. I drove West of Highway 33 on Highway 58 about 5 miles before coming to a closure of the highway. You would have thought a sign might have been down at Highway 33. I returned and continued on Highway 33 through Taft to Maricopa and turned on Elkhorn Road. I’d heard reports of lots of flowers there so I took it into the Carrizo Plains Preserve. There were lots of flowers covering the hills. I stopped at a nice view point and enjoyed the view while I repaired the water pump which needed a new circuit breaker which I finally found. Then I took a nice shower. I continued the rest of the way through the preserve on the dirt road. I was fortunate to find that the van, with its front drive, was able to make it all the way. I had a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch. Near the end I stopped at Wallace Creek Interpretive Trail. Wallace creek has been offset a couple hundred feet by the underlying San Andreas Fault. It increases by 1.3 inches per year. Also a nice romp through the flowers there. I made my way to Paso Robles for dinner at Panda Express. In my wisdom, I thought I’d go up Highway One home. I considered checking the road status online but didn’t. Big mistake. I did pass two signs on my way up to the closure that said “No Detour” so considered the road open. I’m not sure whether they meant there wasn’t any way around the closure or that there was a detour for Northbound which they didn’t bother advising of just how to detour. Seems like the sign might have said “Road Closed Ahead”.Caltrans rarely does things properly. So, about 90 miles of wasted driving. I changed plans again and headed toward the Pinnacles for a hike tomorrow stopping at the Lockwood off ramp for the night.

Friday: (04/07) I was up at 0500 and headed on into Pinnacles NP. I parked at the Peaks View Trailhead and prepared my breakfast of ham and eggs with toast. It was sprinkling rain when I started my hike. I hiked out the Bench Trail then the old Pinnacles trail and finally the Balconies trail to the Chaparral Picnic Area on the other side of the park. The six stream crossing on the way to the Balconies cave were easy even with the high water but I needn’t have tried to keep my feet dry because the water in the cave was almost up to my knees when I passed through it. I returned via the bypass trail making this hike about 9.5 miles. I saw about 10 condors flying by Machete Ridge over the caves. I then traveled home. I stopped for lunch at Super Taqueria in Holister. Back home I cleaned the dirt and dust out of the van. Lou made onion soup with flat bread for dinner.

Saturday: (04/08) Granola for breakfast. I finished leaning the van, washing the bedding and remaking it. I washed the van and motorhome. I also moved all the stuff I removed from the van for the trip back into the van. I had chili ramen noodles for lunch. Dinner was who knows what.

Sunday: (04/09) I prepared scrambled eggs with chili and cheese for breakfast. I took advantage of a slow morning and relaxed in bed watching TV. Later, I organized my clothes in the motorhome and moved what I didn’t need to the van for temporary storage. Basically I did all the preparation I needed to be ready to roll tomorrow. I also did the RV tank duty. I also re-programmed all the yard sprinklers to start watering again. I’m assuming the rain is over. If not, at least nothing will dry out and die while we’re gone. I also repaired a drip pipe that I had damaged when we planted a tree in the front orchard. We picked up dinner from Harry’s Houfrau in Redwood City. I had the usual veggie lasagna and they shared leg of lamb.

Monday: (04/10) Granola for breakfast. We spent all morning getting ready to leave. Still, we didn’t get away until nearly 1100. We headed up Highway 280 through San Francisco then on Highway 101. We stopped in Santa Rosa for Lou and Dawn to explore a thrift store, thoroughly, then went to lunch at Art’s Place. I had soup and a pizza, Lou had potato skins and Dawn had pesto polenta. Next we stopped at Friedman Building Supply. I found everything I’d been looking for all over home and on my drive to Death Valley. I found an oversized double Futura switch plate, some gray plastic plumbers tape and some metal plumbers tape. We then continued on through Cloverdale onto Highway 128 to our campsite at Hendy Redwoods State Park. We had an interesting time sewing the RV into the tight campsite between two trees from a narrow road. We had leftovers for dinner. I have to relearn the tricks of the RV each trip. I kept wondering why we were consuming so much power (35 amps) with nothing on it that should use it. Eventually I remembered the refrigerator needed to be set to gas ao it didn’t use the electric heating element. Leftovers for dinner.

Tuesday: (04/11) Lou made a Denver omelet for breakfast. We relaxed inside most of the day. We did have a visit from a ranger that brought our registration tag. She wanted to have us pave for the Jeep but it is included since it was towed in. Obviously a new host. I walked up to the entrance kiosk to get a tag for the Jeep as the signs advise but it isn’t manned. So, we’ll be scofflaws until we find it open. Lou made broccoli soup and toast for lunch. More relaxing. Later in the afternoon I took a walk out the Big Hendy Loop. I got lost several times. The signs were nonspecific. Eventually I made it out the the grove. I returned via the Hermit;s Hut trail to camp. About a 4 mile jaunt. We had baked potatoes, asparagus and stuffed bell peppers for dinner.

Wednesday: (04/12) I made a Lou’s Denver omelet for our breakfast. We drove out Highway 128 to Highway 1 and up to Van Damme State Park. We looked over the campground considering a future visit. We then continued up to Mendicino and looked around town. We enjoyed visiting a great nursery. Interesting pottery, succulents and garden tools. They have things we’ve never seen before. We continued up the highway to Fort Bragg where we stopped for lunch at the Noyo Fish Company. I had fish and chips and Lou and Dawn had clam chowder. All good. In town we looked around at a farmers market then visited some shops. We also stopped at several thrift stores before doing some grocery shopping at Harvest Market. We got gas at the Red Rhino station then headed home. We arrived home about 1830 and only had a little time to run the generator to charge our batteries before curfew. We had salads for dinner.

Thursday: (04/13) Granola and a banana for breakfast. Lou attended a webinar and Dawn and I relaxed all morning. PBJ bread for brunch. We drove out to the picnic area and Lou took her wheelchair and Dawn and I walked the Big Hendy Grove Upper Loop / Meadow trail. When we returned, Lou and Dawn took off and toured Boonville. I walked more trails including the Back Loop and looked at the Navarro River. Then I relaxed a while in the forest before walking back toward camp via the Eagle Trail and the Little Hendy Grove, the Azalea Trail and some unnamed trails back to camp. We all returned about the same time. They had lunch in Boonville so I had a snack of melted cheese on bread. We relaxed the rest of the afternoon while the generator caught up to our battery charge needs. Spaghetti for dinner.

Friday: (04/14) Granola and banana for breakfast. I worked all morning on our taxes. I needed to apply for an extension due to my procrastination. To do that, I needed to halfway prepare the taxes. To do that I needed to update Windows on my Windows laptop then install tax software, then update the software and then actually do some work on the taxes. I finished up about noon and we had roasted pepper and ham sandwiches and fruit salad. We then took a drive into Boonville stopping at a nursery and a bake shop before driving on via Mountain View Road to Point Arena. We explored hops and visited a library. We then drove up Highway One through Manchester where we found an outstanding Market/Hardware store. Then on to camp. We had Shepherd’s pie with tater tot topping for dinner.

Saturday: (04/15) Lou made ham and eggs with hash browned potatoes for breakfast. Today was a shower day. We finally departed about 11am and considered some cider tasting but neither Lou or Dawn wanted any alcohol and I didn't want to pay 20 to get 8 ounces of samples of cider. We continued on to the Booneville Fairground and visited the library there. We ended up getting a bag of bools there. Heading onward, we drove Highway 253 to Ukiah. We stopped at several thrift stores. I visited a couple of outdoor stores. We finally had lunch about 1630 at Taqueria Michoacan North of town. Very good. After lunch we visited a couple of farm stores and Friedman's Building Supply before filling some water bottles and getting some milk and driving home. We were back at camp about 1900. No dinner needed. Black tank full, not good timing.

Sunday: (04/16) After a couple of night walks to the campground bathroom we fired up the motorhome at 0700 and went to the dump. We had to beat the departing weekend crowd of RVs. We settled back into our site. Leftovers for breakfast. I had leftover ham and eggs with hashbrowns. There was also spaghetti and Mexican food. Later, Lou dropped me off at the picnic area and I took a hike up an old logging road to its end at the top of the mountain and also along the fire road to its end. I came back on a connector trail beside the river and on the meadow trail back to the picnic area. I hiked back home on the fire road. All together about 7-7.5 miles. Lou made beef stroganoff for dinner.

Monday: (04/17) Granola for breakfast. After showers we were on the road at 0915. We heard out to Highway one and down the coast to Highway 116 and on to Petaluma. We stopped for propane and gas in Sebastopol. Dawn looked around and bought a bunch of seeds at the Seed Bank in Petaluma then looked around Copperfield's Bookstore before we continued home. A long day driving two lane roads, but a pretty drive. We had lunch overlooking the ocean on a cliff along the way. We arrived home about 1900 and had leftovers for dinner. I didn’t settle the RV fully into its spot because I want to fill the gas tank and see about getting the shock absorbers replaced tomorrow.

Tuesday: (04/18) Granola for breakfast. I tinkered in the van. First thing, I made an appointment for the motorhome to get new shocks tomorrow morning. I installed the drinking water filter. And prepared the compost toilet with a new, drier batch of coco coir. Ramen noodles with ham for lunch. Mashed potatoes with wieners for dinner. Grapes for dessert.

(04/19) I headed off in the motorhome at 0650 toward San Jose. I had an appointment to get the shock absorbers on the MH replaced at Ross Equipment. The MH has a dangerous wobble over 55 mph when towing and anything over 45 without the toad. Bridges present a real problem due to the bump on each side. I had put off getting anything done for just procrastination reasons but had to do something after this trip reminded me of the need. I stopped for gas at Costco on the way. I was surprised it took over 40 gallons even though i had partially filled it on the way home. I checked in at the garage about 0740. I took a walk looking for breakfast while I waited. All the restaurants nearby didn’t open until after 0900 so I continued my walk to Downtown from North 10the Street. I got my favorite bacon breakfast burrito at La Victoria Taqueria on Santa Clara Street. I enjoyed eating it at an apartment complex's dog run park about a block from the garage. I returned to the shop a little before 1000 and watched my Wednesday Webinar. About 1120 the service advisor started to move the RV from where it was parked next to the waiting room trailer. I thought they were still waiting to get the parts but, no, it had been ready since 0950. The service advisor had called and left a message. My phone never rang and didn’t even show a missed call. The transcribed message was in my text messages though. The advisor started to move the FV but evidently noticed me standing in the doorway of the waiting trailer. I took care of the bill and headed home. I stopped by REI to look around and check their library. I also stopped at Sprouts Market for some of my favorite Bee’s Knees peanut butter. And, I picked up lunch from Wok On Express Chinese restaurant. I also got some carpet cleaner at Safeway to clean up the grease marks left by the mechanics shoes on the carpet. It always happens. I should have learned by now to install my own paper sheeting to protect the floor. Back home I got the MH parked and setup then transferred the stuff I had put in the van back into the MH. I tinkered a little in the Van installing some plumbers tape to anchor the water filter in place. Meili, our neighbor made a nice black eyed pea soup for our dinner.

Thursday: (04/20) Granola and diced apple for breakfast. I read the heater installation manual and watched a video on the heater installation. Then I studied how best to install the heater. Eventually I came up with a plan that should work. Leftover Chinese food for lunch. I took an extended nap in the afternoon. In the late afternoon, I got back to work on the Van. I completed securing the water filter with some plumbers tape. Split pea soup for dinner.

Friday: (04/21) I prepared a ham, egg and cheese sandwich for breakfast. I then worked on the van. The first part of the “work” was to watch another video on the heater installation. In looking at the installation I decided to remove the previously installed wall panel and modify it. I wanted to make it possible to route the heater duct to the garage through part of the wall behind the . That allows more adjustment, if needed to position the hole in the floor to clear the beams and have room to work on connections below. I had a fight removing one of the screws from the panel without having to remove the batteries. I managed to lose two screwdriver bits in the wall. I’ll have to locate my magnetic extractor, if possible, to recover them. I removed the refrigerator to get access to the electrical panel and I energized the sink/water heater circuit. I got the saw out and cut some plywood to cover the portion of the wall behind the refrigerator cabinet. I also reworked the framing for where the monitor panels, thermostat and kitchen outlet will be. I prime painted the wood pieces for installation tomorrow. As part of all this work, I needed to go to Lowe’s to get some saber saw blades. That allowed me to stop by to pick up Chinese food for lunch. I also stopped at Smart and Final for some hummus and granola, which are low. I had been having difficulty locating the 5” hole saw that I needed to install the heater. Lou put me to work fixing a leak in Dawn’s garden drip water lines. I needed to get my heat gun out and found the saw blade with it. Lou made BBQ ribs with baked potatoes and a waldorf salad for dinner.

Saturday: (04/22) I prepared ham and egg with cheese sandwiches for breakfast. We ate them in the back yard. I got distracted and rescued a couple of flowers that were growing through the cracks between the bricks on the patio. I had fun getting the key brick out but then removing about six bricks to get two plants out was easy. And once carried away, I continued and plucked the weeds out of the rest of the rear half of the walkway and patio. That occupied me until lunch. I had my leftover Chinese food for lunch and then needed a nap. I didn’t recover until 1630 when I started work on the van. I installed the replacement switches for the pump and lights by the sink. Lou had prepared sauerbraten and I added a baked potato for my dinner. Lou and Dawn were gone all day at a Vision expo and then thrifting in the San Mateo area. They had dinner at Jacks in San Mateo.

Sunday: (04/23) Granola and banana for breakfast. We had the usual slow Sunday morning watching CBS Sunday Morning and Face The Nation. Then I had several Youtube subscriptions to watch. And that all took all morning. After lunch of a nice salad I finally got to a little work on the van. I installed the wood pieces in the van and removed the window frame ring to be able to screw in some wood framing pieces. After a fight to get the metal window frame ring back on I was diverted to Dawn’s place to get her Google One backup working. That took a while due to some missing requirement info from Google. Namely, for Dawn to use our family Google One account, she has to be in the same house. So, she now has her own 2TB account because her existing 200GB was full. After returning home I needed a nap to eliminate the frustration of computer fighting. About 1800 i got back to the van and installed some power and heater cables. We had more sauerbraten and baked potatoes for dinner.

Monday: (04/24) Granola for breakfast. I checked all the sprinklers to see if they are working. Then I got busy working on the van. Or at least I tried. Seemed like everything I wanted to do required a tool or part I couldn’t find. After a couple of trips to ACE Hardware for parts I got the wiring in for the electrical control panel and dinette outlets. I also got the wall panel pieces cut out for around the window. I also cut out all the holes to mount the control devices in a panel. One of the tools I looked for but didn;t find was an arbor for my 1 ⅛” hole saw blade. Eventually I gave up and headed off to Harbor Freight to get it. On one of my trips to ACE I picked up lunch at Los Altos Taqueria. I managed to get the panels varnished with a couple of coats before dinner. We had sausage and cabbage for dinner.

Tuesday: (04/25) Granola for breakfast. I installed the wood panels that I varnished yesterday evening. I fitted all the control devices in the panel and hooked them up. Nice to see them in their final home. Lou and Dawn were heading off to look at the super bloom at Carrizo Plain NM. I prepared hamburgers for our lunch before they left. I had a nap until they left at 1500. Then I got busy on the Van again. I laid out and measured and measured again, then drilled an exploratory hole. After a final adjustment I cut the 5” hole in the floor for the heater. I then cleaned up before going to get dinner from Wok’s On Chinese restaurant.

Wednesday: (04/26) Happy birthday to me. Another day younger. Granola for breakfast. I worked on the van heater installation all day. That included a couple of runs to ACE Hardware for some parts. I mounted the heater itself. I installed the fuel line and fuel pump and I installed the air intake. I got about half of the exhaust done. Tomorrow I need to complete the hookup of the instied wire harness and the exhaust muffler and tie down cables and tubes of the installation. I had leftover Chinese food for lunch. Dinner at Aqui’s Restaurant in Cupertino. Lou and dawn enjoyed a drive through the Carrizo Plains NM looking for the super bloom flowers on their way to Bakersfield.

Thursday: (04/27) Granola for breakfast. I was out earlier than recently because it was cooler. In the afternoon it was going to be in the 90’s, much higher inside the van. I finished installing the exhaust and securing everything. I had to make a run to ACE for some bolts. Then I finished the inside by removing the refrigerator and hooking up the power to the heater. These heaters have a history of locking out the controls due to failure of the flame to start because the fuel line needs to be primed. I was locked out as well and I couldn’t release the lockout. I ended up contacting customer service and Webasto got right back to me but I was busy with an after lunch nap. A hamburger for lunch. When I checked the email at 1500 it had some info that might help but by then it was over 107 inside the van and, of course, the heater didn’t want to start because of that as well. I’ll try early tomorrow when it should be cool enough to allow the heater to be needed. I ended up relaxing in the heat the rest of the day. Eventually I fired up the air conditioner in the motorhome to cool off. So, I did manage to change the weather by getting the heater installed. We now finally have daytime temperatures over 60 degrees. Chili and bread for dinner.

Friday: (04/28) I got up early and went out to try to get the heater to work. I couldn’t so I phoned Webasto. It turns out it was only a lack of patience. The red lights I thought indicated a failure were just indicating heat mode. When I waited longer while talking to the representative, the heater started to work. Huevos Rancheros for breakfast from Tacos El Grullense. It was hot so I relaxed the rest of the day. In the early evening after the sun went behind some trees, I caulked the underside of the heater mounting flange under the van. Loaded baked potato soup from Safeway for dinner.

Saturday: (04/29) Granola for breakfast. I work much of the day organizing the van for my coming trip to Pinnacles. I removed most of the remaining materials. When I return, I work on the 3rd passenger seat and cabinet and the dais. Salad for lunch. Before dinner I rode the bike to ACE to get a battery for the compost toilet liquid full warning light. I also hooked up the power to the compost toilet vent fan. Spaghetti squash with chicken and corn on the cob for dinner.

Sunday: (04/30) Lou prepared French toast for breakfast. I like to add peanut butter and jelly to mine. I finished up loading the van and left about 1100. I stocked up with food on my way. I god a super burrito, some Chinese food from Wok On, and I picked up a pizza from House of Pizza in San Jose. I then drove down and looked at the Henry Coe State Park, Dowdy Entreance to see about a possible future hike there. Next stop was at Casa De Fruita for a look around. And then on through some back roads to Holister. I filled the gas tank there then continued on toward Pinnacles NP. I didn’t enter the park but stopped about 12 miles beyond the entrance for the night.Pizza for my late lunch/dinner.