Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Chilao campground

Today's post is a happy and breakthrough one for many reasons. First and foremost....I survived a 5000'+ elevation with no negative higher altitude issues which is great news for potential future camping. The second reason is we were able to test our new 100Watt portable solar panel and third was the immense amount of wildlife and beautiful views we witnessed!

Only a one hour (Vanagon speed) drive from Pasadena, this is the site that we came upon to enjoy our weekend.

The air was clean and crisp and our site had amazing views.
First off I need to discuss our new solar set-up. I noticed that the 80Watt panel we have in the luggage rack was barely able to keep up with the CF-25 cooler along with other charging needs and would limit our battery use over long periods so decided to get a portable 100W panel to add to our energy production. Hooking into the existing wiring was quite easy after purchasing some Y-connectors which now give 180Watts of power.
A little messy with the wiring but I will clean it up. This is the new Y-Connector that allows me to run my new 100Watt portable solar panel (or both 180Watt) with a simple snap of the MC4 connectors. I was more than satisfied with the power output when I had everything hooked up and still made more power than I could use.
Lets get to some of the amazing wildlife we encountered while at our campsite. There were plenty of lizards soaking up the sun including this little guy in the bottom corner that was competing for some rays.
The sun brought out many other cold blooded animals including a friendly snake right beside us.
After all the other campers had left, a curious coyote checked out what was available......
There was 20 minutes of frustrated crying but eventually Brooke went down for her nap.
Followed by some play time with mom.
Dinner cooked over a fire was delicious.
Once dinner was finished, it was time for a movie in the van.
Then watched the sun go down.

After our camping excursions are over we generally rate them as successful or not and this rated as a good one. I am more than pleased that we can now pull in over 10amps of free power during peak sun periods with our solar set-up. We are also looking forward to testing out some other high altitude campsites in the future.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Lake Perris

Lake Perris is an artificial lake that is the southern terminus of the California State Water Project. At less than 70 miles from home we decided that we had to visit and explore. After an easy 1+hr drive, we arrived early in the morning to this view in our new campsite for the evening.
After setting things up, we had to check out the lake and discovered that this was the best fresh water swimming we have experienced so far in SoCal. It was cool and clean and very refreshing.
 Swimming completed, we headed back to our campsite for Brooke's nap.
This amazing girl of ours adapts so well to our camping excursions, we are so lucky to have such a versatile child. Brooke's sleeping allowed us to enjoy our thing.
I had to take a picture of our awesome "Supervan" as well

After nap time it was time to explore.

We then headed down to the boat launch area for some beautiful views.

A little dinner cooked on the fire followed by an evening movie (that Brooke had no interest in watching) and our day was done.

Although this was a short one day trip, it was still quite enjoyable and we will most likely be returning to Lake Perris again.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Calico Ghost Town

I had previously read about a ghost town in California and with two days off we decided to visit. Calico is a former mining town located in the Mojave Desert with an estimated population of over 3,500 in the late 1800's and after a decrease in silver value, it became a ghost town by the turn of the century. Since then the town was restored similar to it's original condition and received Historical Landmark status by then governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Not the greatest family picture but at least you can get a sense of the size of the town.
Here you can see our campsite and how close (far) it was to this cool little town.
The campground itself was clean with nice bathrooms and showers and we were glad that it was practically empty as there was no privacy in-between individual sites. We're that little blue spec down at the bottom and the town was just up the hill.
Here are some more shots of our visit.
A view from the top.
We decided to take a train ride so we could see the mines and surrounding town. The train operator told us that the current resident population was only 9!

Some other town sites....I think Brooke was more scared due to my not taking a shower yet rather than the coffin.

By noon it was getting hot so time to head back to our site for a nap with mom.
I took that opportunity to climb the surrounding mountains to see the views.

After a failed nap attempt, Brooke went exploring.
Dinner included some awesome turkey burgers with the family.
The intense heat was diminished by the cool but constant wind we encountered. We eventually had to take down our side awning before heading to sleep which was a good thing as the wind gusts were quite strong. The evening sunset added to a great day.

Some nice warm milk was a great way to finish off a great day and another great camping experience.