Friday, November 23, 2012

What do you do when you have six days off in a row? Go on a camping trip to California of course. We started our journey on a Wednesday evening in Portland to eventually end up in San Jose. Our first night began in the dark so we stayed at a simple rest stop along the I-5. Nothing exciting and no pictures but it was comfortable and free. With the extra time and decent weather, we decided to head down the coast for part of the trip. After hitting Grants Pass we headed to the coast and down HWY 101 but it eventually went back inland due to the mountains. We wanted to spend the night by the ocean so took an extremely curvy road onto HWY 1 and stayed at the Westport beach KOA. We wouldn't normally stay at a KOA but it was getting dark and it was right by the beach.
We also managed to drop by to see our buddies Paul and Babe again along the way
This marks the first time we slept in the upper bunk which worked out great. We usually store our luggage and other things upstairs and sleep on the lower bunk but decided to try it out for this trip and it was surprisingly comfortable. Here's a shot of the new (and messy) master suite
This turned out to be quite a nice KOA mainly due to it's proximity to the ocean and we were fortunate that they only charged us a tent rate of $25 for the night which is quite a bit less than the $50 rates they wanted for a full RV site.

Time to hit the road and make way for our next pit stop in San Francisco.
A shot of some of the curvy roads we encountered
But then the skies turned gloomy and this is what we encountered by the time we hit San Fran. Our plan was to stop at the Golden Gate bridge but decided to wait until our trip home.
Eventually we hit our destination and of course the niece and nephew wanted to check out the camper

After a great visit with the in-laws it was time to head back home - we had some luck with great weather so stopped by for some sightseeing

I discovered the new Hankook tires emitted much less road noise than the old ones which allowed us to talk at highway speeds without yelling. I'll have to look into if there is anything that might be causing our poor fuel economy as one tank averaged only 14.2 mpg - I thought my normal 16-17 mpg was bad enough. The camper ran perfectly otherwise and overall this was a very successful trip.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The weather forecast for northern Oregon and southern Washington called for some heavy rain so we decided to head a bit south for our next camping instalment. We knew we couldn't avoid the rain completely but were hopeful to at least experience some sunshine.  Detroit Lake State recreation area is a man-made lake created in 1953 by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and is located in the Cascade Mountains.  In the summer the lake has 400ft depths, is 9 miles long with over 32 miles of shoreline.  Once again we arrived in darkness so had to wait till the next morning to see this beautiful park.

It rained for most of the first night so the top was down, above are some shots of our site. While waiting for the sun to arrive, it was time to go exploring! I discovered that they lower the lake level in September to compensate for the extra rain in the fall/winter. It was an eerie site to walk on what is normally the lake bottom with 60 year old tree stumps looking as tho they had just been cut down
Here are some more shots we took while exploring the area

Another cool close up shot of some stagnant water
Of course the sun did make a few appearances and we were able to lift the top for a while

We will definitely be visiting this park again next summer as we soon realized that boating and water activities are the major attractions when the lake is at a higher level. Only one of the camping loops were open in November and there were only two other campers which made for a peaceful weekend of fun.

We are planning a big camping trip next week to San Jose so we performed some basic upgrades in anticipation of the 1,500 mile round trip. Here are some shots of our new headlights and brand new Hankook RA08 tires. Stay tuned for more updates when we get back!