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The Happy Wanderers

Our adventures.

April 2008 Travel Log

04/27/08: Dorabelle NF Campground, Shaver Lake, CA:  A couple days ago, we moved MUCH closer to our final location for workamping this summer. Since there's still too much snow at Huntington Lake and the campground we'll be living at, we're staying about 27 miles away in another Forest Service campground. We're at Dorabelle campground at the the 5000' level. This is another campground managed by our employer, California Land Management. Although this campground isn't open yet, some of the staff are staying here (free) while we organize and work on getting ready to open all campgrounds. The larger area we're assigned to is the southern portion of the Sierra National Forest. This area is split into two sections, each ran by a "Site Manager". Larry is Site Manager for the Huntington Lake Recreation Area and the Kasier Wilderness. Clayton Vanderpool is new this year and the Site Manager for the Dinkey Creek area. Clay and his partner, Joan, are also staying in this campground as is our boss, Allan Friedman (and wife Silvana).

Kinninnick Campground Entrance - April 2008 Kinnkiinnick Campground Host Site in April 2008 Kinninnick Campground Host Site in April 2008 Clayton Vanderpool and Joan Black Dinkey Creek, CA

Yesterday, we drove to both areas to check on the snow condition. WOW! We walked back to Kinnikinnick/Catavee campground at Huntington Lake; this is where Connie will be camp hosting at this year. This is a recently renovated campground and is fairly modern. Last years campground was much larger and rustic. This year she has 48 campsites (instead of 148) and 8 toilets (instead of 50) to take care of. Even though she did have another host helping her last year, this campground will be MUCH easier to take care of. There's still 3' - 4' of snow in our site! (see photo). It'll be at least a couple more weeks before we can get into it. We also visited our new friends (the other site manager) campground. Since this is their first year, they're pretty eager to get going. They also have a lot of snow, but they'll be able to get into their host site soon. They may even go shovel out enough to move in. We also took a 2 mile hike through the snow to view their campground. It ends at a beautiful creek side picnic area. Dinkey Creek is running full blast right now. Being back on this beautiful mountain feels great and reminds us of why we love it up here.

04/20/08: Coursegold, CA: If you've been reading these logs for awhile, you'll know plans can always change. Instead of waiting to start work for another week, Larry started a couple days ago. Yesterday, work was up on "our" mountain. Connie came along, but wasn't in on the payroll yet. She officially will start in a couple days. It was nice heading up the mountain, bringing back pleasant memories. At first, we thought there was less snow than last year. But once we got to Huntington Lake, we realized there's more snow. They haven't plowed the road around the lake yet, so there's no access to all of the campgrounds (except Rancheria). The road and campgrounds still have 3' - 4' of snow on them. We understand they plan to plow the road on May 1st. It's been fairly warm and the snow is melting quickly. Perhaps after the road is plowed we'll have access to our camp host site, maybe with a little shoveling.

Larry heads out in a couple days to Sequoia National Park for a few days of management training. After training, we'll be moving to Dorabelle campground at Shaver Lake. This campground is one our company manages and is 27 miles from Huntington Lake (where we work), but only at 5000' elevation. There's still snow there, but not much and we can get in to be closer to our area. Besides, it's free there. We should have a 30amp electric site there. We'll spend a week or so doing initial chores and starting to get that campground operational. Then we hope to move to our area. At first, we have many chores that require us to make the long drive to Fresno and back. Getting supplies, shuttling company trucks, and moving golf carts from storage are part of the initial duties. Then it's the back breaking work of cleaning up the campgrounds and roads. But it's all fun. We pretty excited to be starting. Who would of thought "working" could be fun. The area is so beautiful with new adventures everyday.

04/16/08: Coursegold CA: We arrived at the Escapee RV Park, Park Sierra, a few days ago. I've been procrastinating on our taxes and finally got them completed and mailed. OUCH! On our way here, we stopped in Quartzsite, AZ in the desert, at the Elks club in Riverside, and again Wasco. The wild flowers along the road were in full bloom, making the drive a little more bearable. Otherwise, driving through Southern California's city traffic is not fun!

You may have noticed, I've been working on upgrading the website to a new format. Not everybody will like the new look, but it gives me more flexibility. In addition, I've moved the website to a more powerful server. We don't start training for our summer workamper jobs for another week, so we've been working on various computer and website projects. We're actually over 50 miles away from where we'll be working. There's still too much snow on "our" mountain. We plan to stay here for another week or two, then try to find a place closer to our campgrounds. We originally planned to stay at the Elks club in Oakhurst, but the sites are VERY small. We could have stayed free in the forest service campgrounds near here, but we wouldn't have any hook-ups. So we elected to stay at the Escapee park for $16 a day with full hookups.

04/06/08: Apache Junction, AZ: Before hitting the road full time, we used to live in this area. We love the rugged and scenic desert. Most of the Arizona desert is unlike other deserts we've seen. There's a wide variety of cactus (saguaro, ocotillo, cholla, prickly pear, barrel cactus, and many more) and rugged and colorful rock outcroppings. Every 5 -10 years, the desert comes alive with color in early Spring. This year it happened again. The last time saw it similar to this was in 2001. Shortly after we arrived here, we made a day trip along the Apache Trail (Hwy 88). This windy road heads East from Apache Junction through the hills of the desert, past the Superstition Mountains, past a few lakes (reservoirs), and eventually comes out at Lake Roosevelt. Apache Trail was made between 1903 and 1905 to haul supplies from Mesa to the Roosevelt Dam.

Superstition Mountains Apache Trail Flowers Apache Trail Tortilla Flats Tortilla Flats Tortilla Flats

Along the Apache Trail is an old stage coach stop called Tortilla Flats. In the early 1900's, tourists to the Roosevelt Dam had a 3-day stage coach trip. Their first nightly stop over was at Tortilla Flats. Today, Tortilla Flats is a private tourist town. It's gone through many owners and has burned down at least once. During our outing, we stopped at Tortilla Flats for lunch. For a Thursday afternoon, it sure was crowded! Nearby Mesa and Apache Junction are popular snowbird locations and I think they all came up here. This unique restaurant and store is wall-papered with $1 bills. Actually, we saw many places with TWO layers of $1 bills. They have no idea how much is on the walls here. But these $1 bills are only since 1988. All of the previous money, and buildings, were lost in a 1987 fire.

We've also enjoyed visiting with our daughters and grand-daughter, Kaylee. She's almost 2 years old now and is talking up a storm. We were also pleasantly surprised with the news that Leslie is pregnant with our 2nd grandchild! She's due in November, which happens to be a good time for us to return after summer workamping. We leave Apache Junction tomorrow and will continue West towards Fresno.

04/02/08: Apache Junction, AZ: We didn't leave Livingston, TX until Friday, March 28th. Connie's been doing a lot of knitting lately, but ran short on a certain color and type of yarn she's using. She's trying to make a "shrug" (type of sweater). Since she couldn't find the same yarn in any of the stores, she ordered it online. So we waited in Livingston, since this is where our mail goes, for her yarn package to arrive. We waited an additional 3 days and finally gave up waiting. We needed to get moving as time is running out before we're supposed to be in Fresno. She finally called the store where she made her purchase, and... her yarn is on back-order! Yikes! We've been sitting there waiting for nothing!

Once we left, we had to stop for fuel and propane, and finally were back on the road again. The price of fuel hurts, but what can we do? We may not travel as much because of the prices, but it's not going to stop us. Fuel is just taking a bigger chunk of our budget for those times we do move. Since we enjoyed our German meal in Fredericksburg, we decided to stay off the huge Interstate and take a state highway to Fredericksburg. It was a long day for us, and we arrived around 4:00pm. Since we were just passing through town, we stayed at the local Wal-Mart. This was pretty nice. They had a special area for RV's and trucks in the back, away from the parking lot and highway. When we asked for permission, they told us to stay as long as we wanted. It was a nice quiet evening WITHOUT highway noise. Our German dinner was excellent again.

After just the one night, we ended back on I-10 heading West. The wind was blowing, which makes driving even more tiring. It's actually funny. Although we travel full time, we don't really like the driving portion. That's one reason we don't drive too far in a day, if we can help it. These 300+ miles per day were draining me. We stopped at the Escapee RV Park in Pecos, TX. We'd never been there before, and it was only 3 miles off the Interstate. We decided to stay a couple nights to relax and Larry needed to get his electronic newsletter emailed to over 6,000 subscribers of the Military Campgrounds and RV Parks website.. We weren't impressed with this SKP park at all! It's a very old trailer park with rigs crammed together. Dogs were running around looses and leaving deposits everywhere. We were ashamed that this place was operated by the Escapees. It's also available to the public (for a higher rate), which made it even more embarrassing for us club members. We did go into town (if that's what this small, old, mostly deserted community is called) and buy some fresh tamales.

During our drive through Texas, especially when we were on the state highways, we enjoyed viewing the blooming wild flowers. Connie was excited, as she finally got to see Texas Blue Bells flowers everywhere! We moved down the road some more and stopped in Deming, NM at the SKP park there. More wind on this driving day made the stop a welcomed sight. After a single night there, we moved another 200+ miles to Casa Grande, AZ. We stayed at the Elks lodge without hookups for the night. We visited with Al and Jan Schwartz, who we worked with a few years ago in New York. They're workamping at a nearby RV Park. This morning, we had breakfast with Connie's Grandma Cappie. For 93 years old, she still has a sharp mind. Our last move was a short one to Apache Junction. We're back at the Carefree Manor RV Park, which we've stayed at many times. The last couple times we've been here to visit our daughters, we've been staying real close to them at a run down RV Park. When it was $15 a day, it was good deal. But they raised their prices to $35 a day and the campground is nothing but a field with hookups! Even though Carefree Manor is 20 miles from our kids, the price is less than $16 a night in a decent RV Park, and we have a pool and hot tub. Hmmmm... that hot tub sounds good for tonight. We plan to be here for 5 nights to visit our daughters, hubbies, and grand daughter Kaylee. We probably won't see them for over 6 months again while we're working in the mountains.

During our drive this past week, we commented to each other the "interesting" things you see on the road. Sure, we've enjoyed some good meals and seen some pretty sites, but what about the "other" stuff we've seen. On this past weeks drive, we've seen not one, but TWO HUGE road runners on the side of the road. When I say HUGE, I mean over 20' tall. Made of metal, or course. We also saw a semi truck pulling a LONG tower of some type. This thing had to be over 150' long. The tower wasn't on a trailer - it WAS the trailer. Special adapters were fitted on each end with wheels attached. It's just something you don't see everyday. Of course, it was going the other way, so we didn't get a photo. Or how about the 40' motor home towing a full size helicopter? Now that's a different kind of 'toad' vehicle. A couple weeks ago while in San Antonio, we saw a possum along the side of the road at night. We've seen them dead before, but never a live one. Good thing he "froze" and played 'possum' when we approached, or he'd be another road kill statistic. Texas also doesn't have a shortage of deer. But with all of the deer road kill we saw (at times, we would see 4 or 5 every mile), you'd think they'd all be dead. But we saw dozens of deer (alive) on the side of the road. Every time I'd see one ahead, I prayed they would run AWAY from the road. There's no way I was going to stop 12 tons on a dime. One final lesson that we learned on this trip into Texas. While there's plenty of restaurants around, you mainly have a choice of BBQ or Mexican food. There must be a dozen BBQ places and a dozen Tex-Mex restaurants available for every restaurant of another type.

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May 2008 Travel Log
March 2008 Travel Log
 

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Thursday, 14 November 2019