Back in the Promised Land
Oct 19, 2011
|Oakzanita Springs TT RV Resort
Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2 PM PDT Descanso, CA
I’m here at Oakzanita Springs Thousand Trails RV Resort at 4000 ft elevation in the coastal range east of San Diego. I arrived here on Tuesday Oct 11 following a stay in Santa Maria CA on the coast north of Santa Barbara. Prior to that, I’d sprinted from Flagstaff at 7000 ft and 75 F across western Arizona (105 F) to Bakersfield CA (99 F) in the Mojave Desert to coastal Santa Maria CA (daytime temps 72 to 78 F) in 3 days to minimize my time in the desert heat of early October.
I spent the first few days at the Santa Maria Elks RV Park hanging out with other RVing Elks enjoying the wonderful weather before doing any wine-tasting. One of them gave Rascal a beef rib bone which made his day. After they’d gone, I tasted and bought some wines at local wineries. My favorite, Cambria’s Katherine’s Vineyard Chardonnay, cost me $23/bottle at the winery. A few days later, I found it for $15 at the local Vons grocery store. I’ll keep that in mind in future.
During the sprint across the desert, the RV had developed a slow leak in the inside driver’s side rear dual tire. And a few days after I’d arrived, my microwave quit working. So I extended my stay in Santa Maria for 6 days to get the tire fixed by a local mobile tire service (excellent), buy a new microwave convection oven at the local Best Buy, and get it installed in my RV. [In March, my Sharp microwave convection oven (less than 2 years old) quit working. The diagnosis was that a short in the start switch had burned out both the start switch and the heating/microwaving element. The fix cost over $200 and left me without a microwave for nearly 2 weeks. I swore then if the same thing happened again, I’d just replace the obviously defective Sharp unit with another brand. The symptoms this time were identical to those I’d seen in March, so I bought a GE Profile unit that matches my fridge along with a 4-year Best Buy warranty.]
The replacement GE unit was installed and mounted very securely a few days later so I could get back on the road. It’s more difficult to install such an oven in an RV motorhome than in a house where you can hang the unit from the bottom of over-oven cabinets. In my RV, you have no access to attach mounting bolts from above the microwave so it has to be hung from a solid wood mounting block above. I’ll have a carpenter cover up the mounting brackets for the GE when I get to Chula Vista. (I have another RV kitchen cabinet issue to address and I’ll get it done at the same time.)
I’d planned to head north along the coast to do some more wine-tasting in Paso Robles, but the Fall-Winter rains started early with a 2-day storm while I was in Santa Maria, so I decided to head south instead. To get to the San Diego area from Santa Maria, you have to either drive secondary roads through the Mojave to I-15S or go through some parts of Los Angeles. I chose the latter option and happily passed through northern LA from Thousand Oaks to Glendale to Burbank to Pasadena to San Bernardino on a Monday at mid-day with heavy traffic all the way BUT without hitting anything! Not even a close call despite getting missing a freeway exit and ending up on the wrong freeway for 10 miles before I turned around. I hit two bad traffic jams, one just south of Santa Barbara and the other in the Glendale area; the traffic was moving at glacial speeds. Otherwise I could move along at 45 to 55 mph the whole way. I stayed one night in Hesperia before turning south to Riverside and heading for Alpine and this RV park.
When I got here to Oakzanita, the Santa Ana (onshore) winds were blowing and temps were in the 85 – 90 range, so I decided to pay $3/day extra for 50 amp power so I could run both a/c units along with my microwave and/or laundry without tripping a breaker. Since Oakzanita is a Thousand Trails park, my only cost is the $3/day for 50 amp power.
I have a nice site near the pool and spa with a view of the surrounding Live Oak-filled gulch with its ground squirrels and bunnies. I have good sat TV reception and excellent Verizon cell reception giving me good Internet access.
There are both coyotes and mountain lions in the area, although I haven’t seen or heard them. My first two days here, there were flocks of Western Bluebirds migrating through, as well as resident Steller’s Jays and Acorn woodpeckers.
Rascal is really enjoying this park especially chasing the ground squirrels and bunnies in addition to the birds.
He’s tried to make friends with the ground squirrels but they aren’t interested.
As the weather has cooled since last week,
this park has become a very comfortable place to spend an hour or two bird-watching and reading in a lawn chair right beside my coach. Rascal sits in my lap chewing a beef hoof or bone while I spot birds in the surrounding area. In the last 6 days, I’ve spotted about at least one new species a day: California Towhees, White-crowned Sparrows, Oak Titmice (a lifer for me), male Black-headed Grosbeaks, Western Scrub-Jays, a Spotted Towhee (a striking bird I found today), and one or two pairs of rare Phainopeplas, a striking all black tufted bird with a blood red eye found in limited places that birders fly miles to see. This is the best bird-watching spot I’ve found in southern California. However, none of the birds have cooperated by posing for pictures; of course, having Rascal around whenever I’m outside doesn’t help.
This is my last Summer-Fall journal entry. When I leave here on Saturday, I’ll move 70 miles to the Chula Vista Elks for the next few weeks. I’ll spend the winter in the Chula Vista area, staying at the Chula Vista Elks RV Park, Sweetwater Regional Park 12 miles northeast of the Elks and Pio Pico TT RV Park 18 miles due east of the Elks. I’ll probably come back to Oakzanita if the roads don’t ice and the winter weather isn’t too cold. I plan to visit Tucson at Christmas to meet up with Barb and Steve Hall during their Christmas visit with her parents who’ve retired in nearby Green Valley. My next journal entry will be starting a new 2011-2012 Winter Sojourn journal.
According to my notes, I traveled 4685 miles in my May 1 – mid-October summer tour, visiting parts of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Colorado and Arizona. While the map at the top of my journal shows a rough sketch of my route,
the Itinerary lists all my stops in detail. Over the course of my ramble, I had 3 rough RV encounters with fixed objects:
1) 05-12: a small hole and bent cargo door on the driver’s side leaving the Santa Maria Elks Club put there by a minor collision with a fire hydrant I hadn’t noticed;
2) 05-29: major damage to the lower half of the rear coach fibreglass shell from a root 4 inches above the gravel road which I didn't see while backing uphill from the sewage dump site in order to return to my campsite at the Russian River TT RV Park; and
3) 06-20: damage to 2 passenger-side cargo doors from a hard collision with a fire hydrant (never saw it till I hit it) right next to the entrance ramp to the Kelso-Longview Elks RV Park.
I’ll have all this damage fixed during the winter when Rascal and I can stay with Bob and Carolyn Williams during the 2 to 4 weeks it takes to fix and paint the coach. The bad news is that I was still hitting things at the start of the summer; the good news is that I haven’t hit anything since June 20, some 3250 miles ago. I’m being much more careful arriving at, leaving from and maneuvering within RV parks – looking low as well as high; and I’m more relaxed and confident doing it. I'm better about getting out and looking around and using my mirrors and back-up camera, as well as asking for help when available. I'll also have me Rx sunglasses replaced. Rascal ate them while I was in Utah before I got to the Rockies.
Rascal will be 1 year old on Oct. 27. He's full-grown by height and length but still too thin and his adult coat hasn't come in yet, so I expect to see changes over the coming year. I think he weighs about 9 or 10 lbs now and should top out at 12 - 14. I also hope that his energy level drops below Energizer Bunny in the coming year. But he is lots of fun and very loving.
I still miss having a cat. But if I get another one (which I'm loathe to do until Rascal leave his puppyhood behind), it will have to be a breed that isn't as quick as an Abby trying to sneak out all the time. Maybe a British shorthair or other laid-back couch potato cat breed. Persians and Exotics have trouble breathing; Ragdolls and Maine Coons are too big and have too much hair.
That wraps it up for the summer tour.