Thursday, October 31, 2013

Best Laid Plans – Back in Sacramento Area


So, what went wrong?  No, the cold did not get us, although it was around 17 degrees when we got up this morning.  No frozen pipes, all of that worked.  What we did not expect was for the electricity to go out on us!  At 4:00 a.m. I was laying in bed nearly asleep after getting up for the umpteenth time to check the water at the two sinks to be sure they still ran when all of the sudden I hear a couple of clicks coming from in the living area of the motorhome, and then another click near the breaker box which is under the bed on Marcia’s side.  I open my eyes and see darkness.  Which is not the norm because we leave the living area TV on all night with no sound just to give us light.  We also have two dim night lights, and they normally glow…but now just barely glimmered.


I figured that the lights had gone out all over town…I mean RV park.  So I got up, turned on a LED light running off the battery, along with turning on the propane heater of which the fan runs off battery too, and went back to bed.  But around 7:00 when it got light, I took the dogs out and talked to a neighbor…who said they did not have a problem.  So “WE” had a problem, not the park.  Oh My!
So we have a mystery…..  I had already tried the breakers at 4 am, but I tried again after seeing that the surge protector we use at the electrical box that we plug into outside had lights on.  Nope, not that.  Marcia suggested the GFI in the bathroom, but nope, not that either.  I tried the fan for the air conditioner, and it did not work either, so it is a full 120 volt black out.  I try to start the generator, which they don’t allow in the park but I just wanted to see if it would give us 120 electricity.  After two tries, it would not start.  I knew we needed gas, so I started the RV engine, and saw that we had 1/4 of a tank of gas…that is more than enough to run the generator too.  So I gave the generator a third try and got it going…but still no 120 electricity.  I kept the motorhome engine on with the heater going, and very soon we were warm and the propane heater was turned off.  The best decision, as hard as it was, was to head back to the valley where it was warm and there were many more resources where it could be fixed.

Thank goodness we have a warranty with Wholesale Warranties on the motorhome, a service which has been highly recommended by Howard and Linda at RV-Dreams.   The “fix” should not cost more than $100.  Tomorrow I plan to test the master breaker just to be sure that it isn’t that…then we will give them a call and see where we should progress from there to get things fixed under the warranty.


The ride home started out a bit solemn….but quickly we saw that we needed to get the camera out, and Marcia took about 80 pictures on the way home….and if you know Marcia, then you know that she took a lot of pictures of… 

2a     2b
2c     2d

And as we got down in elevation, and with the sun to our backs, she was really able to pick some good Autumn tree shots, including this one above with the mist coming off the American River on the left side of the road.  Probably my favorite below, which she was able to take at one of the many turnouts we took to allow for cars to pass us.


Yep, it was a beautiful drive home…almost made us forget that we were going to miss Yosemite and Mono Lake.  But we will figure out our problem, and we will have other opportunities to see these other California sites, probably next year.  For now, we sit in the backyard of my sister, we have two extension cords running through a window, one for the TV and the computers, the other, with a 30 amp rating, running the heater.  A battery charger is keeping our house batteries charged, on a trickle charge.  About the only thing we won’t have until we fix our problem is the microwave/oven. 

Oh, and then there are the dogs….well, they were SO HAPPY to be back on the green grass, and getting all the treats that Arny and Sandy give them, that they are crashed out for the night…and it isn’t even 9 pm yet.

4a     4b 

Question?  Do you think I will be able to get the camera back from Marcia?  She sure did a good job....perhaps we both need a Panasonic FZ60.   

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe – A Snowy Delight


Emerald Bay is about 20 minutes from the RV Park.  It was 36 degrees out, with an occasional snow flurry here and there.  Marcia decided to stay put in the warmth of the motorhome, which is staying pretty warm with the help of the occasional simmering of water to bring humidity into the motorhome.  With the higher elevation (6,200 ft) and the dry heat of the DeLonghi Oil Filled Radiator has made the interior of the motorhome feel real dry.  I left at 1:00 and told her I’d be back by 2:30.  As I drove away I realized I should get some gas, so getting back by 2:30 was going to be a interesting task.  (note: remember to click on pictures to see larger views)


The roads were just fine, though a bit wet, from Monday’s snow. 

Which I was very thankful for, because I have driven this same stretch of road where the snow alongside the road was higher than the roof of my car.

The road climbs, and then a view of the Lake appears.  Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America.  On a bright, sunny day, you can see deep blues as the water reflects the sky.  Marcia and I brought mom and dad up here last year for a few days in May, staying in a cabin.  You can see the blues of the lake in the two postings of that trip here and here.  Just remember that the camera we used last year was far inferior to the one we are now using….


I finally come to the Inspiration Point turnout.  There is a sign which says that the recreational area is closed, yet there are a few other cars in there….they will eventually barricade the entrance when as winter sets in.  Fannette Island sits within Emerald Bay, which today, with the overcast, hides the emerald colors from which it gets its name.


Above is the back portion of Emerald Bay, where Vikingsholm sits (below), the summer home of Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight.  (More information about the island home, and Vikingsholm can be found on last year’s blog posting.)


Emerald bay is the “Jewel” of Lake Tahoe, that is for sure.


From the view of the bay and the lake…..


To the mountains which tower over the them.

2f    2g

And I was pleasantly surprised that there were still fall colors up around the bay.  I have been to Emerald Bay many times, it is a wonderful place.  Those who enjoy hard hikes will find some very good ones which offer great views of the lake and surrounding areas.  There is a hike which goes down to Vikingsholm which is not too hard outside of the elevation coming back.  A visitor’s center, closed during the winter, is also found here.  And there are many places to camp, both RV parks, and state and federal parks.  If you have not been to Lake Tahoe, and you want to miss the crowds, late September through October is definitely the time to come…and if it snows, don’t’ worry, it won’t last long….until winter really sets in.

Monday, October 28, 2013

"Baby, It's Cold Outside" – South Lake Tahoe


Yep, it snowed last night.  What a wonderful winter scene when I opened up the door and looked out this morning.


About 5 inches of nice, fluffy snow, enough to fill the trees, and…..


HEY!!!!!  What’s going on here????  We left the warm, green backyard at Uncle Arny’s for THIS????  We want to GO HOME!!!!!


DAD, this really sucks!  There is NOTHING but this COLD WHITE STUFF everywhere!


Well, when a girl has to go, a girl has to go.  “Dad, yesterday you worried about it getting to cold that it might freeze our water pipes, you should have thought about it freezing my #@@ off!”


The snow did melt a lot as the day went on….all that snow on the trees above fell on the roof of the motorhome throughout the day, some with some loud thuds, most just falling with light taps. But there is not a whole prettier than a fresh coat of white snow.


I did get out to the store to buy a few things.  While in line the young lady in front of me told the clerk that a bear broke into her car last night.  She did not have any food in there…it just broke a window, got in for a look.  She was a bit upset because her insurance said it was an “Act of Nature”.  Sometimes you have to wonder what you have insurance for…. 

Anyway, tomorrow the weather should be better, and we will try to get out and see some of the sights .  Most of the snow has passed….or has it?  Guess we will find out tomorrow.

South Lake Tahoe

We left after lunch with mom, dad and my sister Patty, and after Arny helped us again by making sure our tire pressures were accurate.  When we bought our motorhome we got brand new tires, and I never pressure gaged them before.  When I tried, I found out that the outside dully had such a short stem that I could not get my gage on it.  I went by a Napa store and got two extenders, and we are in fine shape now.  We arrived at Tahoe Valley RV Resort around 3:30, had to fill up with water since they have turned most of the faucets off for the winter.  (Passport American park cost $17.50 per night, free Internet, electricity, sewer….)

It was a pretty drive, as highway 50 always is, hardly a cloud in the sky, and just an occasional wind.  Highway 50 is in great shape, and there are many turnouts and passing lanes for that part which is only one lane each way.


I was happy to see that the fall colors were still in their prime for much of the trip…although eventually all you see is evergreens as you get nearer to the 7,200 ft. elevation at the pass.


Marcia took many of the pictures today since I was driving, and we did not want to stop for photos.


Including this shot with camera hanging out of the window pointing down at the American River (above) and Tahoe Valley and Lake Tahoe (below)


And these two mountain shots below, one taken through the window and one out the open window.

1f     1g

Although there is going to be some snow tonight / tomorrow, I think we are going to have a good time here…as long as we don’t freeze our …. water pipes.  (naughty naughty to all of you who thought I was going to say something else. Smile   Freezing )

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Do we Dare Head up to Tahoe?


After a visit from my niece (oldest brother’s child) and her new husband a little over a week ago, and a very quick visit from my oldest son (UC Berkley student) last night and today, I think it is time for another trip.  Over the next ten days or so, the weather up in the Sierra’s is going to be fairly good, except for Monday night and Tuesday morning.  So tomorrow (Sunday) we are headed to Lake Tahoe, where we will stay for three nights, then head down to Mono Lake on Wednesday for a few nights, then through Yosemite to Lee Vining for a few nights, then about five or six days in the Sacramento / San Joaquin Valley before heading back.  Most of the parks will be Passport America parks, and we plan to have electricity every night.  The coldest times will be Monday night and Tuesday night, with temps down in the upper teens….otherwise we should be in the upper twenties and into the forties once we get back to the valley.  We will see just how well our heater tanks work, and how well I insulated the water pipes under the motorhome last week.  We also have Reflectix for each window, which we have been testing the past few nights.  With temps in the mid-forties at night, we have been nice and toasted with our DeLonghi Oil Filled Radiator Heater.
I started using this type of heater while in Arkansas living in a 5th wheel.  If your RV is insulated, or small enough, this heater will keep the inside pretty warm.  If temps get real low, and they would get into the teens a few nights each year in Arkansas, we will use the motorhome propane heater to keep things above 60…which means it will kick on a few times through the night when set to 60.  But during the day with temps in the fifties, this heater will keep us warm enough, that is for sure.

So why do we want to leave the confines of the warm Sacramento Valley?  For one, who wouldn’t want to spend time in South Lake Tahoe?  I have been there in the Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter…it is ALWAYS a wonderful sight to see Lake Tahoe.  A small amount of fresh snow will make it look that much better.  And this time of year means that within a day, the snow will be gone from the roadways, and if it is not, we will stay another day until it is.

This motorhome is new to us…we have not done any winter weather camping in it.  Not that we love cold weather, but sometimes you just need to know how it is going to do.  Our last motorhome had the fresh, grey and black tanks enclosed….this one has them “open” underneath with heater pads.  It looks like we are headed to Alaska next year.  We need to know just how cold of temps we can safely handle, which means do we head up there in early May or late May, which can make a big difference.

Although having a “favorite” National Park is hard to pick, due to the many visits I have had to Yosemite I would say that it rates just a bit higher than all of the other parks just on the sentimental value alone.  Last year was Marcia’s first time to Yosemite…but we could not get up to the high country.  We have a very short window right now to visit the high country…we are going to take it.  Once down to El Portal, we will also visit the valley again, and a day trip to Mariposa Grove, something else we missed last year.
And then back in the valley we will warm up, visit some sights, and I hope to see a old friend.  If all goes well, we should have some nice pictures to share real soon.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Skruffy – Our Naked Little Girl has a “Rescue” Birthday

image   image

Above is Skruffy on October 28, 2009 in my office at the Library in Arkansas.  She had been with me for just a couple of days, I think I got her on Thursday, October 22, 2009.  She was a MESS, having been living outside in a yard of a construction company, hiding under dump trucks and other large vehicles, for nearly a month enduring very heavy rain.  In these pictures, she had had two baths, been to the vet where she had been given her shots, and diagnosed with heart worms.  Someone at the vet had trimmed her a bit, getting rid of clumps of hair that were full of “gunk”.  The people at the construction yard had given her the name of Skruffy, or “Scruffy” to be more precise…the spelling with a “k” is my doing.  The lady at the Vet asked me her name, I said Skruffy, she said, “How do you spell that?”  I blurted it out with a “k” instead of a “c” because I froze…you see, spelling is my weak area.  It put me on the spot, I spelled it out with a “k”, and I have never regretted it.

1a   1b

This is our little girl tonight, four years later.  I gave her a good haircut yesterday with a new blade in the clippers. Compared to how she looked four years ago and today….she is heavier since she was very under weight when I got her, and probably a couple pounds too heavy now.  But her fur is much more manageable now than it was back then….so much so that she is nearly naked now compared to the heavy thick fur she had back then.


With this blade, I will be able to keep her fur shorter, but not cut all the way down as Bubba gets cut (although I intend to try this blade on Bubba too to see how it works with him.)   


For those who have had rescue dogs, you will probably understand this….one really has to wonder who rescued who?  Four years ago she was desperate, lonely, and afraid.  There were many lightening storms back in October of 2009.  To this day, thunder and lightening scare her…as does heavy rain.  There were signs telling the Vet and I that she had recently had a litter.  My feeling is that the family dumped the mom (Skruffy) at the Vet across from this construction company during off hours…unfortunately it happens way too often.  People think that the Vet will take care of them.  In this case, she ran across the street into this gated yard which provided much cover.  She would not come to the construction crew when called, but ate the food they put out.  Until on that Thursday four years ago, in the late afternoon when one guy was getting into his pickup truck to go home, she acted like she wanted to hop in and go too….so he invited her in, and that is how she was caught.  My assistant director at the library had already told them if they caught her, that she had the perfect home for her.  Hence, our relationship started.

 Skruffy has brought so much joy into my life, into Marcia’s life, into so many friends and family who have gotten to know her.  Not a perfect dog by all means…she tends to bark from time to time, and in a close space like a motorhome that can be a bit much.  But overall she is such a good dog, one who has given me her utmost loyalty from the minute she came into my arms.  Four years ago we needed each other so much…and today we still do, but in a much different way.  I can only hope that we have many, many more years to enjoy each other’s company and friendship.  Happy rescue day Skruffy, love you girl…..arf, arf, arf……