Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Trip Recap – All Systems A-OK

Camping at Granite Flat N.F. Campground

Five nights of no-hookups at Granite Flat N.F. Campground, and two nights of full-hookups at Zephyr Cove Resort and I have to say that everything went real real good.  Still have a few issued to work out with the no-hookups pertaining to running two computers, aircard, and aircard booster all off of two 12 cigarette lighter plugins.  Also, the 12V power supply for Marcia’s computer has not worked since the day I bought it…don’t know if it the wrong one, or just was broken out of the box…so we have had to run a small inverter for her computer.  I know the set-up won’t make us “generator free”, but an hour a day of generator timed at times that we make coffee or use the microwave, is not bad.


Citrus Heights has an elevation of around 200 feet, and up here in the Lake Tahoe/Truckee area we are at 5,500 – 6,000 feet level, with passes as high as 7,000+.  One would think that Donner Summit was the hardest to get up, but actually the stretch of Cal Hwy 267 at Brockway Summit was the hardest to go over both going to and coming from Tahoe.  With I-80 the climb is steep, but you can gain momentum.  On 267 the momentum is stopped by sharp curves and slower speeds leading up to the climbs.  I had to put it into first gear, 20 mph for a small stretch both coming and going.  And when I pulled over for others to pass…getting going from 5 mph while climbing is rough.  But our V-10 engine did great, all temps were normal, and there was no hesitation…just slow speeds at times.

Tire Pressure System

The tire pressure monitor worked real good.  When we left Tahoe one of the duel tires, due to high elevations, started out at 75 psi, while the others were at 76, but they all climbed to the desired 80 psi within just minutes…and after a long stretch seem to max out around 88-90 psi.  It really does add a level of comfort and assurance knowing that our tires are at and are holding at proper inflation levels.

Dump Station

We already know our limits as far as the septic tanks are concerned…and it was nice having full hookups in Tahoe for two very long showers each during our two day stay.  Our toilet system is a Vacuflush, which is what boats use.

Vacuflush System

There are some special parts that need to be replaced from time to time, and it is time.  I just need to decide if I want to do it, or pay someone else to do it.  

Battery Solenoids

All of our electrical issues seem to be behind us. When we get back to my sisters, I will check all of the connections and see if they held or not.  It is going to be something I will need to do from time to time.


After a minor adjustment before we left on this trip with the slide, it has been working real good.  After putting in the new floor, the “stop” needed some adjustment as it was not closing well up in Oregon.  It was an easy fix which McCullough RV did as part of their warranty.  Those folks are GREAT!

Front Tire  Back Tire

Although I talked about the tire pressure monitor, I should have mentioned the new tires.  WOW, what a great thing that has been.  I have also purchased some new valves to carry since Discount Tire does not seem to carry this type of valve.  For around $25 I have six valves.  Good insurance.


So what’s up next for us?  After the 4th of July we will go on another short, week long excursion.  Then we will come back and evaluate things again.  One step at at time…  For now we will again enjoy family, and enjoy another 4th of July in the Sacramento area.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ninety Minutes Later, a Great Breakfast!


After a great church service today (Calvary Chapel Truckee) we headed less than a mile down the road and pulled into Smokey’s Kitchen.  (Menu)   With the bike race downtown, and having eaten Burger Me twice (and that is good food there), we wanted something good and fast and get back to the puppies.  Church was out at 11:35, pulled into Smokey’s at 11:45, had our order in smidgen before 12:00 because they serve breakfast only until 12.  See a sign at the register (it is  walk-up counter to order, but they bring you the food and refill drinks except coffee which you get yourself) “45 minutes to an hour wait for food to cook, but each plate comes full of Love.”


My first thought, as a person who managed a full service restaurant for 10+ years, “They must be kidding…it can’t be that long!”  So I ask, and the lady who just took my money and she says, “Yes, our kitchen is really backed up this morning, but your plates will come full of love!”  Ok, this sucker is in….(after all, with the race going on, where else do we go?)  So I go to the table where Marcia is sitting and tell her the bad news…”It will be 45 minutes for our food….well, it will be served with a plate full of love.”


So I get our coffee, and get our water.  Go back and sit and we talk, she reads all sorts of tourist newspapers and I watch the Yankees playing softball against the Astros.  (NYT headline: Yankees Pay the Price for Miscommunicating on Another Routine Fly)  Couldn’t have happen to a better team…well, except for the Dodgers, it would have been nice if they lost.   And NO, the coffee did not come with a heart in it, but I thought that would be a nice touch.


So for 30-40 minutes I am watching the game, watching what is going on in the restaurant (still a habit after thirty years), and occasional talk with Marcia.  That’s about the time she notices a family come in, go up to the counter, turn around and walk out.  “Yes,” I said, “there has already been about $250 walk out since we sat down.”  Right then a very large party comes in, I figure this could be an easy $150 tab.  “Want to bet they walk out?” as they go past us.  Minute later, they are walking by us and out the door.  Ok, now we are up to $400 lost.  For the next twenty minutes we played a game of “WILL THEY OR WON’T THEY?”   I am like going out of my mind here….they have 30-35 tables, seat 100+ with the inside and outside seating.  Those who have food or have gotten their food are very happy.  Those who don’t wait go out hungry still.  At 1:15 we finally get our Veggie Omelette and Truckee Omelette, one with Fruit and Rye Toast, the other with Skillet Potatoes and Wheat Toast.  And let me tell you, YES, it was GOOD…real GOOD.


Now I did not bring our camera in, and by the time we got our food I did not even think about taking a cell phone picture of it…but the Omelette looked something like this one above.  EVERYTHIG was fresh food…real eggs, real mushrooms (not canned) etc. etc. etc.!  The Skillet Potatoes were to die for…only wish there was more.  And both toasts were real real good…and I don’t like Rye Toast, but this was some good stuff!  And, they had Blackberry Jam!

Now WHY it took so long, I cannot answer….never could see into the kitchen.  I figure that for every $1,000 per hour rung up, they lost another $500 out the door. A little after 1:00 I went up to the lady at the counter who took our order and asked her to check on it, only because I was afraid it did not get turned in.  She assured me that ours was the top ticket, so it would not be long now.  She also said that they expected to get hit next weekend (4th of July) but did not expect it today.  I don’t think they realized how many people were turned away from downtown’s National Bike Race where there are 3 or 4 food establishments that would have been near impossible to get to.


Boy did we have some happy dogs when we got home….well, two happy dogs who were so happy it seemed like we had a motorhome full of dogs.  Winking smile

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Truckee–Trains, Cars, Bars and Bikes?

Truckee Railroad Museum

Took a little trip with the dogs into Truckee just to get a feel of the place.  Truckee was and is a huge railroad town with many trains passing through it each day.  There is only one set of tracks over Donner, so Eastbound has to wait for Westbound and vice-versa.  Here is their little Railroad Museum, an old caboose.

Truckee Old Railroad Station

It stands next to the old train station, which is now a visitor’s center, Chamber of Commerce office, and stuff like that.

Truckee Railroad Museum

The little train museum, which is accessible to wheelchairs, is so small that it is hard to take good pictures of the wall displays since it is only the size of a caboose…a narrow gage caboose at that (I think).

Truckee Railroad Museum

This is a good depiction of a standard gauge and a narrow gauge.  Narrow gauge came to Truckee in the form of transporting people from Truckee over to Lake Tahoe where they would get on a steam ship to head over to one of the cities along the lake.  Of course the standard rail came as part of the Transcontinental Railroad.  It took six years for the Railroad to be built between Sacramento and Promontory, Utah where the East met the West.

Flying A Service Station

Next door to the train station is an old “Flying A” service station which is now a brewery, or was a brewery…it was hard to tell if it was still in operation or not.

Flying A Service Station

Flying A’s were popular on the east and west coasts from the 1930’s to the 1960’s.  The ones on the west coast were taken over by Phillips 66, while the ones on the east coast were taken over by Texaco.  One can occasionally find a independent Flying A, but otherwise they are pretty much gone.  This replica is noted as one of the few authentic looking Flying A’s in the nation…and represents to Truckee the importance of old U.S. 40, where it is located on.

Flying A Service Station

They just don’t make signs like that anymore….

Old Truckee Jail

Another thing I wanted to see was the old Truckee Jail.  They don’t have set hours of operation, and it looked to be closed up this morning.  Truckee’s historic jail museum is one of only a few surviving 19th century jailhouses of its kind in the West and one of the few remaining original buildings in Truckee. The jail was used continuously from 1875 until May 1964.

Truckee Commercial Row    Truckee Commercial Row
Truckee Commercial Row

Truckee’s downtown, old U.S. 40 called Donner Pass Road here in town, is known for its “Commercial Row” which includes some shops and a number of taverns, such as the Sierra Tavern (multistory building with ivory colored façade) which was built in 1928 with upper floor added in 1938.  Many of the buildings date back to the 1860’s, and there are a number of drinking establishments here…I am sure they keep the cold winter skier warm at night once they get off the ski slopes.

Truckee Veterans Hall 

Next to the Veterans Hall above is the 17 ton “Rocking Stone” below. 

Truckee Rocking Stone

At one time this stone would rock with the touch of a finger, even a good wind would make it move.  Indians used it to store food on because the rocking scared off animals, even birds.  It was placed there by a glacier and is only one of 25 rocking stones in the world…however, this stone was CEMENTED in place for fear that it would roll and hurt someone many years ago.

Railroad Tracks, Downtown Truckee    Railroad Tracks, Downtown Truckee

Left, train tracks headed west towards Sacramento.  Right, train tracks headed east towards Reno.

Truckee old home  Truckee old home
Truckee old home

We enjoyed driving through some of the side streets, some along some good high slopes, to see he local older homes.  One has to wonder how they get down those roads in the winter to the main part of town.

Truckee old home now Commercial Property

This one here is along Donner Pass Road and is a commercial property which is up for sale or lease.  For a mere $10k per month you can open up this “ready to go” restaurant (which means it is designed for a restaurant, but you have to furnish the insides).  Never could find the price to buy it, I am sure it is up there in the one million range.

Burger Me 

Tonight we are going back to “Burger Me” for another award winning burger.  This time, I am going to bring it back to the RV because there is a bike race in town tomorrow, right along Donner Pass Road just down from Burger Me.  Don’t want to have to fight the crowd in finding  table.

Bikers Bikers and more Bikers (Cycling)

It is hard to tell which bike enthusiast is here for the race, or just out riding…they are all over the place. It is all part of the USA Cycling National Championships, which were held over in Lake Tahoe and ending here in Truckee.  Here in Truckee the Criterium, which is a bike race held on a short course, will be held.  You can bet we are glad we went to old town today and not tomorrow!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Granite Flat Campground

Granite Flat Campground

I don’t think we have we ever gone back to the same campground during the same trip, but this time we did.  We escaped the crowd at Zephyr Cove before 10 am, and pulled into the campground here around 11:15.  Construction still going on, but traffic was lighter, and we had more downhill too.  At 6 pm I took down the solar panel, and took a quick stroll around the park.  There are twice as many campers in the park now than on Monday when we arrived, but it is still quiet (so far).

Granite Flat Campground    Granite Flat Campground
Granite Flat Campground

Although there are six or seven campers behind us, there is nothing next door on either side, but in the next loop down there are a lot more campers, but they are so far away this should not cause problems.  However, the site next to us on he driver’s door is reserved starting tomorrow until July 2nd, I just hope they too are a quiet group.

Truckee River

The Truckee River runs along the entire eastern side of this campground.  The level as you see today (June 26th) is what it would normally look like in late August or early September.  The Truckee is the only outlet river for Lake Tahoe, and they do have it damned to time the release of water through the long hot summer and into fall.  I wonder if it is going to dry up this year before the next winter storms replenish Lake Tahoe to get it high enough for the Truckee to run again.

Truckee River

I really like this picture…it kind of reminds me of a Bob Ross painting.  I can see him color the canvas blue, then add the happy little clouds, then cut in the hill to the right, the water, the land to the left, then the smaller trees.  After that he would say, “Let’s see, I think one lives right here”…an proceeds to place the large trees into the picture.  The only thing missing is his trademark little cabin.

Truckee River with photoshoped cabin

There we go…something like that.  (wonders of photoshop).

Truckee River

One thing about a river, you go down stream or up stream a bit and the picture changes.  Only wish the sky was blue, I think the Washington Fire smoke is reaching even over her near Truckee.

Robin in Truckee River

Another thing about rivers is you usually see wildlife around…all I saw was a few of these giant Robins.

Granite Flat Campground Map

I do like the layout of the park…had it not been so close to highway 89, it would be a great campground.  Looked for other NF Parks, but with the weekend, this looked like the best bet, so that is why we are back.  Three days of no electrical hookups will give me a good idea of what we are capable of doing.  I figure the generator will run first thing in the morning (after 7:30 that is) and again before we go to sleep for 30-45 minutes each.  That should keep us charged about the 50% level, which is our goal.  Tomorrow we are going to see the sites of Truckee.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Tahoe Crowds and Fallen Leaf Lake

Stateline Casinos

I couldn’t tell you when the first time I came to Tahoe…but I do remember camping at Bliss State Park, I remember camping at other parks in and around Lake Tahoe, and I remember being on my uncles boat in Lake Tahoe.  Which of those memories is the first I could not say.  From my youth until I left California I probably came to Lake Tahoe each year at least once…sometimes more.  Since we are camping in Nevada, our route takes to Stateline from reverse compared to what I am use to…above is the four major casinos on the state line, with Harrah’s and Harveys in the distance…they both sit right on the state line in Nevada just outside of California.

Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

And one of my favorite places at Lake Tahoe is Emerald Bay.  Marcia had been to Emerald Bay once, so I thought we would head over there again before we drove up to Fallen Leaf Lake, which is a place I have not been before.


Our new camera was able to get a better shot of Vikingsholm that Marcia took.  You can clearly see the people down there, and details on the building. 

View South from Emerald Bay

I also got this nice panoramic shot from the Vikingsholm parking lot…this shot faces where the Washington Fire south of Markleeville, California is burning.

Washington Fire

The map above shows the line of site, which is where the panoramic picture was pointing, with the fire about 90 miles away.  Highway 4 and Highway 89 are closed over in that area, which HAD we gone to Calaveras Big Trees before I found out Ebbetts pass was too much for our motorhome to handle, so we wouldn’t have gone that way tomorrow anyway. 

Lake Tahoe from Emerald Bay through smoke

Yesterday we did not notice smoke, but today the smoke had nearly hidden Lake Tahoe from Emerald Bay.  But we have covered Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe a few times in our blog, if you want to see better, clearer pictures, visit these two blog post:  May 15, 2012 and October 29, 2013.

Fallen Leaf Lake

After we left Emerald Bay we headed back towards South Lake Tahoe and took a right to Fallen Leaf Lake. I knew there was a NF Campground back there, and I knew the road continued past the campground and I just figured we would have a nice view of the lake, perhaps with few people around.  WOW, was I wrong!

Fallen Leaf Lake Summer Homes

There is a whole summer community crowded in back there.  Fallen Leaf Road is about 5 miles long, and for the last 2+ miles you can see the lake, and from that point on you see summer houses of all ages (old to new construction).  The road is very narrow, and cars have to pull over and/or hug each side of the road to allow two cars to pass by.

Fallen Leaf Lake Summer Homes

And the road is bumpy, full of pot holes in places, and there is a fire department back there.  If there was ever a fire, people would have to flee into the lake to survive.

Fallen Leaf Lake Summer Homes    Fallen Leaf Lake Summer Homes
Fallen Leaf Lake Summer Homes

Top two photos above show some newer homes, while the one along the lake shows an older boat house, many of which dot the shoreline.  Small houses up here run around $250-$500,000…and that would be for a home of 1,000 sq. ft. or less.  Larger homes run up into the multi-millions.  Don’t know if the house is worth it, but the view is sure worth it…if you can stand the fire risk.

Fallen Leaf Lake

It was a hard drive to the end where, if it wasn’t so busy, they have a public beach and boat launch for people to use.  But for us the idea of having a nice lake to view with few people became a crowded mess…much like Lake Tahoe is during the summer.  But there is some sort of pull to those who grew up visiting Tahoe as kids back in the ‘60s.  It was crowded in a way then, but that was because of lack of infrastructure.  Now there are more people, many more living here, many more visiting, but the infrastructure makes it look and feel like it did back in the ‘60s…busy, hectic, yet beautiful and dreamy...even with the smoke filled skies.  Tomorrow we head back to the quieter life of Granite Flat.