Thursday, November 9, 2017

Rancho Jurupa

Over 5 years ago we went on our first camping trip in our Vanagon and I can still remember the excitement of waking up in our van after driving, cooking, eating, and sleeping in a new place. That feeling and sense of wonderment hasn't subsided after all this time and, if anything, has only increased with all the fascinating sites that can only be visited by camping in this beautiful world of ours.

With that said, we had the opportunity to experience and support our friend's first camping trip in their new (and awesome) teardrop trailer. Wanting to start things off easy we picked a fully featured RV campground. Situated along the Santa Ana River and located behind Mt Rubidoux, Rancho Jurupa Park offered the perfect place for a fun overnighter. Here we are getting ready for our day and night of adventure.

Of course I was just as curious to see the details on their amazing little camper which featured a very nice kitchen in the back with sink, stove and fridge. Inside was a queen bed including TV, stereo, and even an air-conditioner when hooked up to electricity.

After everything was set up it was time for all of us to have some fun. As always, the kids came first.

With a little help, the adults had some fun too!
Nighttime brought out a beautiful sunset, excellent food and delicious dessert by the fire.

This was just a quick trip but I think we packed in a lot of activities in that short amount of time.

We are not only thankful to be able to explore this beautiful country in our Vanagon but are now hopeful to enjoy some of those places with our new camping friends in the future.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Meadow Campground

I have been wanting/trying to arrange a VW group camping trip for a while now and this past weekend turned out to be the one. Having researched appropriate campsites over a year ago, I decided that Meadow Group campground would be an ideal place to host a small gathering of fellow VW lovers and Vangeleno members.

Located at an elevation of 5,200 feet and under 40 miles from Los Angeles up the scenic Angels Crest Highway - Meadow Group campground turned out to be the spot to host our weekend getaway. We arrived early on a Friday and were a bit lonely at first.

So we decided to set up our site, light a fire and make some dinner.
Of course all the Vangelenos and friends came through and were able to enjoy the beautiful scenery and have a great weekend.

What I found interesting about this group was the diversity and variety of VW's that were able to attend. There was my air cooled VW as well as an air cooled transformed to a Subaru and a water cooled to Subaru conversion, an original water cooled, an air cooled bus with beetle engine and to round everything out there was a VR6 Eurovan. Getting into more detail there were 3 Westfalia poptops, one Rivera pop top, one Country Homes pop top, and a split window EZ camper hard top. We were also lucky to have a former Vanagon owner join us too! All these people brought together by a common interest in VW's and good friendship.

This turned out to be a perfect and safe venue for all the kids that were able to attend whether it was hiking, exploring, making broomsticks, watching a movie, or just being a kid!

Although most were only able to stay for one night, it definitely made for a great VW meeting and memorable event.
As they say, all good things must come to an end and one by one everyone said their goodbyes.
Which left just us to enjoy one more beautiful sunset.
Another great camping experience in the books thanks to the combination of our amazing VW and good friends!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Lodgepole campground (Sequoia National Park)

Wanting to take full advantage of my wife's maternity leave, I decided to do something I haven't done in 4 years.....make an actual campground reservation. I originally was going to reserve a site at Yosemite but was informed that there were air quality issues due to some nearby forest fires. Although we will attempt to visit Yosemite next year, we couldn't have been happier with our experience in the Sequoia National Park. We recently visited the coastal Redwood forest which are the tallest trees in the world but the Sequoias have their own massive beauty and hold records for largest mass due to their incredible diameters that are maintained almost all the way to the top.

As the total distance from home is about 250 miles, we decided to split the drive up and stayed at Horse Creek campground. This campground would have been nice if the temperatures weren't so hot and our neighbours weren't so loud. It was over 100 degrees and didn't really cool off till about 2am which was also when our noisy neighbours decided it was time to end their game of "Never have I ever".

After surviving the heat we woke up early and made our way up the mountain to our home for the next 4 days at Lodgepole Campground. At 6,700 feet of elevation the temperatures were perfect and the weather was beautiful. This popular campground is right beside Lodgepole Village which offered a visitor center, daily Ranger programs, a market, deli, snack bar, gift shop, post office, coin-operated showers and laundry facilities.

We arrived at campsite 96 which was supposed to be a tent only site but worked well for us to stay in the camper. Bears are a major concern in this area (there was one sighting while we were there) and we stored our food in the huge bear locker. The sites were clean with a new picnic table and fire ring as well as nearby water and flush toilets.

The best part of our site, however, was being right beside the river.

As always, the van provided an excellent place to eat, play and just hang out.

With 4 days of camping, we all had plenty of time to enjoy nature and the beautiful scenery.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park is the second oldest national park and is home to the General Sherman Tree. At 275 feet tall and weighing an estimated 1,385 tons with a trunk circumference of 103 feet and 52,500+ cubic feet in volume, it is the worlds largest living tree.

Sequoias have the potential to grow over 300 feet but they tend to lose their tops due to lightning strikes once they outgrow the surrounding trees usually around 275 feet. The root system is only 12-14 feet deep even at maturity but are wide spreading and can occupy over 1 acre of earth and over 90,000 cubic feet of soil. It is impossible to determine the exact age of the living sequoias but ring counts on fallen trees have provided age estimates of around 3,200 years old!


Some of the fallen trees were big enough to walk through.
Others were big enough to live in. Hale Tharp is described as the first Non-Native American to enter the Giant Forest and used a fallen tree as his home with a table and bed inside. It also had a fireplace, door and window at the wider end.

Of course some of the trees were big enough to drive through which was the highlight of the trip!
There is a free and very convenient shuttle service throughout the park that picked us up from our campground and took us to all the major destinations. That being said, we had to visit Moro Rock to witness the vast beauty of both the forest the Sierra mountains.
 The Sierras in the distance were about 7,000 feet higher.
And on the other side was a 5,000 foot drop which was quite scary with 2 young kids!
The 21 mile road back down to the park entrance took over an hour mainly due to the extreme curves but also because of all the beautiful places to stop along the way. Here is a shot of Moro Rock near the bottom looking up.
With our 4 days of camping complete, we reluctantly made our way back home but managed a final stop at the Tunnel rock before leaving the park.

We eventually made it back home despite the immense and uncomfortable heat but were thankful to avoid this fire sparked by lightning that occurred just before we passed by.
This blog entry will be a reminder of one of the best camping experiences we have had yet and I look forward to returning to the Sequoias again. The beautiful sights were made possible because of our incredible and versatile Vanagon (the memory maker) and were only exceeded by my amazing family that I have the pleasure of sharing it with.