How in the world has it been three weeks since I left Sky Valley??? I’ve seen so much in such a short amount of time. Let’s review, shall we?
Sky Valley —> Ventura (191 miles) —> Acton (86 miles) —> Bakersfield (96 miles) —> Lake Isabella (38 miles) —> Sequoia (155 miles) —> Merced (90 miles) —> Yosemite (54 miles) —> Lodi (88 miles) Phew! And those are just the miles I’ve gone while towing the rig. A total of 798 miles in just 3 weeks!
This frantic pace won’t always be the norm for me, but California has so much to see! Unfortunately, the RV park prices reflect the popularity of the state, and it will hopefully be the most expensive portion of my journey for a while.
I can’t shake the feeling of being incredibly lucky- both to be on this journey, and in the day-to-day happenings. Laverne and Shirley have been holding up great, even when I take them on winding mountain roads that are under a wind advisory. The pets are all doing great so far- the dogs love exploring the new areas and sit nicely in the back seat when I’m driving. The cats- well, they haven’t escaped into the wilderness yet, so I’m calling it a win. Even my timing has been wonderful. The weather is gorgeous and the summer crowds haven’t hit yet.
Parking along Lake Isabella was the first time I spontaneously changed my plans from one campground to another, and I’m so glad I did. I had made reservations at a state park, but when I got there it was deserted and closely resembled a parking lot with weeds growing everywhere. The kind of place you expect to see drug paraphenalia laying around and stray cats begging for scraps at the fish cleaning station. I had a bad gut feeling about the place, and so I ventured back in the direction I had come. There had been signs for other campgrounds, and they were right on the edge of the lake. Even though I could see neighbors in either direction, they were a solid 150+ yards away. I love these pictures and how small they make my rig look!
Days later, I only had a few hours to enjoy Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, which was disappointing, but better than nothing. So I made my way into Kings Canyon, saw the 3rd largest tree in the world, hiked around and took some pictures. I was ready to be on my way. At the intersection of the road into Sequoia (the parks are adjacent to each other) a friendly motorist flagged me down and told me the road into Sequoia was closed. I was MAJORLY bummed. There are no alternative routes or detours, just a locked gate to the road. I figured, I could drive a few miles and maybe take a few more pictures before running into the locked gate. While I was pulled over on the side of the road to capture some beautiful scenery, a Park Ranger truck drives by. Well wouldn’t you know it? He was going to unlock the gate to the road into Sequoia! I seriously couldn’t believe my luck or timing. I only hope the friendly motorist tried the road again later that day. Needless to say, the second park was fantastic as well. I saw the largest tree in the world (by volume) and hiked on some great paths. It was well worth waking up before the sun that day, and as I left the parks, I knew without a doubt I’d return some day to spend more time than a few hours enjoying the sites.
I recently joined a camping club called Harvest Host ($49/year) which has about 600 farms, wineries, and museums that welcome RVers to stay overnight at no cost. There are rarely hook ups, but a safe and interesting location is always worth the trouble of boondocking. The first one I enjoyed, Vista Ranch and Cellars, had beautiful grounds with wild flowers, gardens of produce, rows and rows and rows of almond trees, and I stumbled upon (literally, I stumbled- there was a lot of wine that night) a labyrinth! This random discovery warmed my heart and made me think of the wonderful Holly Bendz. As I slowly walked the winding path, I expressed gratitude to God, spirits, angels, etc. for bringing me on this journey and asked for safety as I continue.
My second Harvest Host stay was at Harmony Wynelands in Lodi, CA. The vineyards that surrounded my rig were heavenly. I’ve been able to work from my RV or their patio, enjoying their lush gardens and grape vines that stretch out in every direction. The estate zinfandel is delicious, and the winemaker is super nice (and easy on the eyes)! The problem with these “free” stays is that you are expected to buy some wine, and damn it, the things for sale in their tasting room were just too wonderful to pass up.
It’s comforting to know I’ve got the hang of this whole Rv’ing thing down. Well, for the most part. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, and had plenty of laughs at myself. But I know these first three weeks have only been a small taste of what’s in store for me. Reality kicks in as I realize campground prices are hurting my budget, and I have three weeks of laundry to do at my next location. I should probably get to a grocery store at some point too.
For now, the mountains are calling, and I must go.
(Up next: Yosemite! Which deserves its own post.)