Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pyramid Lake

Having lived in California for just over a year has given us an even greater appreciation for the amazing and diverse places this state has to offer. Many of our travels involve driving along Interstate 5 which has some beautiful views overlooking Pyramid Lake and prompted us to take a closer look. We discovered the closest campground was Los Alamos campground and at just over 2 miles away from the lake, it was our "home" for 2 days. Our good Vanagon friend Ric was available to join us for this outing and kindly scoped out a nice spot under a big tree that shaded us for most of the day from the heat.

Besides the camp hosts, we were essentially the only visitors at this large 93 site campground. Clean flush toilets, free passes to the lake along with splitting our site costs made this an inexpensive $20 weekend. Our previous camping experience was marred by an insane amount of ants so when the wind was calm we discovered that flies were our enemy here and headed down to the lake to get a reprieve.
Pyramid Lake is part of the California State Water Project that was completed in 1973 and named after a pyramid shaped rock carved out by engineers building the old Highway 99.
Brooke and mom were able to enjoy some Frisbee time and tested out the water.
Frisbee's are not only fun but delicious.

This trip also marks the first use of our new and exciting cooler! I know what you're thinking....who would think a cooler could be so exciting but it was. After doing some debated research, I came across the Dometic CF-25. This entry level compressor cooler is fairly inexpensive ($395), has a low power consumption and most importantly fit in-between the front seats.
Above you can see how the regular cooler we used is very comparable in size but now we don't have to deal with a cooler full of melted ice water.
This turned out to be a great real world test for our 80W Solar Panel and 55 Amp/h battery as originally I had concerns if this would be a sufficient set-up. With outside temperatures in the 90's I estimated the van to be at least 100 and had no problem running the fridge at an indicated 27 degrees during the day. As this was our first test, I discovered I will most likely run the fridge in the low 30's temp range as after the second warm night my battery was at 11.9 volts.
From what I keep hearing, I believe we are in the minority when it comes to our stock fridge but are quite happy with both the cooling capability and very inexpensive running costs while on propane. The CoolFreeze CF-25 will now be an excellent compliment to our stock propane Dometic fridge and just adds that extra needed space.
 An evening shot of the campground taken from the surrounding hills.
And a nice campfire (kindly supplied by the camp hosts) topped off another great weekend.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lake Prado

Lake Prado is a one stop recreation area located in the Chino Valley basin loaded with outdoor activities including Fishing, Hiking, Biking, Nature trails, Disc Golf, and of course Camping. With this in mind, we attempted to be present for one of the biggest VW bus gatherings of the year.

After an easy 1 hour drive from Pasadena we easily set-up in the main camping area for the first night.
The next morning we met one of the many friendly organizers and headed over to the group camping area where the event was to be held. We knew we couldn't stay for the entire upcoming VW event so made sure to camp in a spot that we could easily exit from and not get boxed in.

A perfect spot right by the lake and shaded with a nice pine tree.

An obligatory night-time LED shot.

Hindsight is 20/20.......

When we were in the main camping area I kept wondering why there was white powder spread around almost all the parking sites. I later found out that it was to discourage ants from "ruining the party". After that (too late) learned that Comet cleanser sprinkled on the ground is an old Boy Scout trick to discourage ants from entering your camp area.

Despite the 90+ degree heat and ensuing ant procession, it was a beautiful park

Here's Brooke enjoying a warm nap and some quality time:
And Brooke enjoying some music

The small part of the show we were able to enjoy was amazing and it was bittersweet to leave early.

At the end of our trip we had had enough of the ants invading our space and were happy to head home. We also ran completely out of propane for the first time the last night which made our departure even more timely. Having run out of propane for our fridge has me considering our next addition to the camper which is a portable cooler/freezer to run off our 80Watt solar panel. Hopefully my next post will include some freshly frozen ice-cream to enjoy on our next journey!!!

I also want to add our latest addition/improvement which is our LED back-up lights. I've found out that backing into a dark camping spot leaves something to be desired so this inexpensive mod will surely make things better....