Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dogwood Campground

This week's camping location was Dogwood campground near Lake Arrowhead. We were looking for an escape from the heat of Woodland Hills and this campground didn't disappoint. At 5,600 feet, it was no small "feat" for the camper to make that elevation. Most of the steep and scenic climb was in 2nd gear at approx. 25mph with engine temps spiking at 250 degrees at one point but we eventually made it in one piece. Arriving after dark to a pretty much full campground, we took the only empty site we could find. Here she is the following morning
This campground was renovated in 2004 with modern and clean facilities that were nicely maintained. Waking up early the next day we were able to choose practically any site as the weekend campers left. We were very impressed with not only the size but the privacy level as well between each site. Here are some shots showing just how much space we had during the second day at our new location.

Plenty of trees provided both shade and a nice place to hang our hammock.
The campground is very close to Lake Arrowhead which is often referred to as "The Alps of Southern California". It was surreal to travel under 2 hours from Los Angeles and reach such a beautiful area that has over 300 days of sunshine with a natural peacefulness and stunning beauty. Here are a few shots we took during our day trip into town.

I did find out that I most likely will not be pursuing a career in mountain climbing as the altitude had some negative effects on me. Although it was only 5,600 ft, spending 2 days at that elevation caused some ill-effects on my body. So with our weekend over it was time to depart and enjoy the beautiful scenery on the much easier decent down the mountain.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

East Shore RV park

Preparing the camper for our excursions has always been a lengthy process but our latest trip involved a little extra work. Living in the LA area brings with it much hotter weather than what we experienced in Portland so I wanted to try a different oil in the camper to better handle the heat. I had been using straight 30 weight oil which was working fine and after many hours reading differing opinions I decided to try Valvoline's 20w50 oil. The initial findings that I have noticed are less metallic knocking right after start up. Previously I had noticed 2-3 seconds of "knocking" when starting a cold engine but this has all but disappeared after switching to 20w50 - I'll take that as a definite improvement. The last time I filled the propane tank was also in Portland (over 5 months prior) and thinking that it was almost empty I tried to find a location that would fill the tank. After visiting and calling several gas stations I discovered that they all had a 5 gallon minimum filling/service charge which would have cost almost $20. I eventually located a tool rental place that also sold propane and $6.35 later I had a full tank! I also discovered that the tank was only half empty so my worries of a near empty tank were unwarranted. In addition to our full tank of gas and water, along with a fridge full of food, we were ready for our next camping trip

One of the advantages of living on the West coast is the abundance of older VW's still on the road and with that also comes a greater number of related car clubs and shows. I read that Dubfest was occurring this past Sunday and decided to find a camping spot nearby so we could attend. An annual even held at Irwindale Speedway, I discovered East Short RV park was a 20 minute drive away. Our weekends usually start late so we didn't want to pay the $50 nightly charge and camped for free at a Park & Ride lot. We normally wouldn't do this but wanted to be close to the car show and surprisingly, there were 3 other campers staying so we figured it was a safe choice. Here is a shot of our "free" camping site for the night, nothing special but the sun was already down so we didn't mind.
An early start on Sunday got us to the show while they were still arriving and setting things up. If we had the entire day to spare I certainly would have "shown" our camper as I think it could have done well against the "competition". Although this was mainly a water-cooled VW show, there was also a nice assortment of air-cooled examples as well.

Overall it was a nice show to attend but don't think it was worth the $20 per person admission fee. We also saw all the show cars in under an hour and left shortly after due to the 100+ degree temperatures.
East Shore RV park is a huge resort located by Puddingstone lake. We generally don't go to large RV parks but decided to give this one a try as they had many features and it was close to the car show. Driving into the park we soon discovered that we were the smallest camper by far and quite a few of the campers are permanent residents. This certainly didn't stop the many people that came over to compliment our camper after we set things up.

After a full day of swimming at the resort pool, reading and general relaxation it was time get ready for bed
Although the campsite was very scenic and had terrific amenities, it's not our idea of "roughing it", that and the $50 per night fee is on par with some motel rates. Here are some great shots my wife took of the surrounding mountains.

Even though our site had full hook-up including cable TV, my shore power cord wasn't long enough if we wanted to keep in the shade under our tree so we opted to rely on our free battery/solar power as well as run the fridge off of propane which of course worked great. Our final shot of the trip shows the camper all packed up with the beautiful mountains in the background.
Overall a fun and busy trip but we will attempt a more primitive camping experience next time

San Francisco

This past Labor Day weekend brought us to San Francisco to meet up with both friends and family. As this was a trip of almost 400 miles each way, we decided to drive the Beetle and take advantage of the air conditioning as well as better fuel economy. Here she is next to her older sibling all washed and waxed.
Over seven hours driving with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees for the majority of the trip we arrived at our destination in Union Square. The next 2 days we went into full tourist mode and took advantage of all the beauty that San Francisco has to offer.
Waking up early to start a beautiful day we took a street car to Pier 39. I found out that the Presidents' Conference Committee (PCC) Street car we rode on was manufactured by the same company that provided streetcars for Toronto.
After arriving at pier 39, we heard the boisterous calls of sea lions. I learned that these pinnipeds started arriving in 1990 due to a plentiful herring supply, available dock space, and the marina's protected environment.
Some shots of the Golden Gate bridge as well as Alcatraz Island.

We couldn't have asked for a nicer day and were lucky enough to get a picture of the Golden Gate bridge without any cloud cover.

The day was completed with a cable car ride back to the hotel where we experienced insane 21% grades.
Completing our "full tourist mode" the next day we also drove down the famous Lombard street and saw the "Painted Ladies" while I imagined the theme song from Full House.

A great trip overall with some beautiful sites, good friends and lasting memories