A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about driving

Summer Plans Revised

A fizzle start to our summer trip

sunny 95 °F

We had quite a summer planned, and as usual, life got in the way. We’d planned for Dale to backpack across the Sierra with two of our boys and 3 of the grandkids, plus an adopted boy and his son. Then, the day after returning from the Sierras we’d go to the UK and travel for a month, return home and then be off to Alaska.

Unfortunately, as I haven’t worked since last year, and after several vehicle repairs and unexpected expensive home repairs, we decided to postpone the Europe trip until next year. I called United and they canceled the UK, giving us until Feb to rebook a new trip. This was quite a relief as I was afraid, with cheap seats, we’d lose our tickets. We do lose tickets to Les Mis, a concert at Royal Albert Hall, a performance at the Globe, opera in Oslo and a tour of Highclere. Alas…..

I’ve been on standby for most of this year so planning the hike has been iffy. I’d wanted to go, but I hike slow and felt that it could hinder the hike rather than help. But it was something I really wanted for Dale to do and the boys were so wanting him to go along. Also, someone needed to drive from one side of the Sierras to the other in order to get kids back home.

As last week was ending, and I was not called out, we made the decision to go with the hiking party. The hike would start in Onion Valley, just out of Independence on Hwy 395, go over Kearsarge Pass and end in Kings Canyon, 25 miles and 5 days later.

On Tuesday, Dale and I loaded up 4 kids, 3 of them hikers and one little, who needed to be taken care of during the hike. We drove up to the Upper Greys Meadow Campground, about 10 miles east of the Onion Valley trailhead. The campground is at about 6,000’ and quite a climb, even for our truck.
We arrived at the campground after 7pm, hot and tired of the 4-hour drive. Kids took off running, the campground nearly empty. Winds were howling off of the Sierras on thru the exposed campground.

Dale thought that he’d fill the fresh water tank before parking, turned off the engine and coasted to the faucet. Well that was a mistake, remember Palm Springs? We didn’t! So there the truck was, on the campground road, stuck. Dale sprayed the brake cleaner into the intake, but nothing happened. We waited and then sprayed and hit the gas but nothing.

Finally, with winds howling, no light, we decided to camp right there and deal with it in the morning. We’d take our chances on someone arriving in the night and needing to drive past us, as we took the whole road.
We got the slideout out, made dinner and all of us fell asleep quickly.

Posted by Miss Chris 18:26 Archived in USA Tagged road_trip nature walking driving camping breakdown rv outdoors grandkids onion_valley Comments (0)

The Ups and Downs of a Road Trip

Side visits with friends and vehicle breakdowns

sunny 100 °F

Now it was time to pack up and go back to the circus we call home. We didn’t need to check out until noon so there was no rush.

We made a nice breakfast of potato, fresh asparagus, and eggs, with a little leftover champagne, then sat outside on the picnic table, set up in the shade of a Joshua tree, and ate.

On our way to Joshua Tree, I’d realized that we’d be near the grandmother of one of our daughter-in-laws. I got her grandma’s info and we set a date to visit on our way home. This is a plus side of a road trip.

We drove to Great Mimi’s house intending to take her and her husband out to lunch. Great Mimi informed me by phone that it was her husband’s birthday and they would be taking us to lunch. Alas, our plan was thwarted and we were empty handed as well.

We got to Great Mimi’s and visited for a bit then went to lunch, Dale and I each taking a turn riding in her wonderful car!!!! What a treat, great people, great lunch and a ride in a great car. After lunch, there was more visiting and cake and ice cream.

It's always fun to visit with Great Mimi, she loves my photos and always makes us feel like we are doing probably more than we are. She has such great stories, has lived all over and I love talking to her. What a fun way to end our trip.

We left Great Mimi’s and started for home. It was over 100 but we’ve driven thru hotter weather and steeper hills. Dale obsesses over our truck so we were sure we’d make it home fine. WRONG!

About an hour down the road we stopped for fuel, nothing unusual here. But when Dale went to start the truck, it wouldn’t start. It would turn over, but wouldn’t start for anything. We started to get very anxious!

We began to discuss what to do: have the truck towed to Palm Springs or tow it home, what to do with the RV, what to do with us if we had it towed to Palm Springs. Then Dale called our trusty mechanic in Bakersfield. Bob, from Eye Street, told Dale to spray it with anything then try to start it.

A guy had pulled up at the same pump on the other side. He came over to see what was going on. Dale told him that he would need to get something to spray into the air intake. The guy went to his truck and came back with a can of spray brake cleaner. Dale sprayed the brake cleaner on the air intake and it fired right up. It hasn’t had a problem since so sounds like brake cleaner is the way to go!

Posted by Miss Chris 11:39 Archived in USA Tagged road_trip driving rv outdoors joshua_tree_national_park vehicle_breakdowns Comments (0)

A Short Hike in Joshua Tree

Hiking the High View Trail

sunny 80 °F

Before leaving home we’d decided that we would bring a good bottle of Champagne along for a celebration. We didn’t have anything in particular to celebrate but thought that we’d just celebrate us because we could and we are old enough. We brought an older bottle of Iron Horse.

After our snake adventure we were getting hungry but knew that we needed to pay for our campsite and decide what to do. The ranger at the visitor center said to just look around then we could pay after we had a plan. We drove around the campground, this time seeing the rutted roads. After looking around and thinking about driving to other campgrounds in the park, we decided our site was quite nice and we left the RV where it was.

Dale popped the champagne and we started cooking. We set up our little portable picnic table with a tablecloth, champagne flutes, and good tableware. I remembered the sterling when we started to eat and skipped that.

After a breakfast of eggs, grilled salmon and sautéed potatoes we thought we’d walk to the visitor center. We needed to figure out what to do for the day. The ranger suggested that we hike on the “High View” a nature trail. This is a trail with marked signposts along the way. She gave us a booklet that had descriptions to correspond with the marker posts.

The 1.3-mile trail is a moderate trail, but moderate here is so steep in places that there are steps up the hill. And, although it is a nature trail, it is not paved so not accessible to people who have trouble hiking.

The trail is a loop that goes along some ridges then down into a valley. We got our heart rates up but with the stops at the posts we were not too overworked.

We realized ½ way thru the hike that we should document the posts and share it with a cousin. This became a way to also take a closer look at our surroundings. When we explained our plan to the ranger, she said to keep the booklet and share that as well.
Dale grilled some chicken for dinner but it got so cold after dark that we had to eat inside the RV. This time using sterling. Ever the class act!

Posted by Miss Chris 15:15 Archived in USA Tagged road_trip nature hiking driving camping rv outdoors joshua_tree_national_park Comments (0)

A Snake In the Night

A snake in the Joshua Tree Campground

sunny 80 °F

Before Dale and I were married, and after, until the farm, we’d take off on our weekends to go wherever we wanted to go. Dale had a VW camper van and it was quite perfect for the 2 of us. We went to Solvang, Big Sur, San Diego, up and down the coast.

We’d been home for a week from Dallas and Oklahoma when I just felt like we needed to be the free birds we once were. Drama and family issues were pulling us in and I did not want to be a part of it. Additionally, since there has still been no work and Dale is retired, there seemed no reason to stay put. Well, there are plenty of projects to get done at home and in the RV, but those can be ignored. I told Dale that we should just pack up and go to Joshua Tree and he agreed.

We decided that we’d return home on Thurs, for no particular reason. We sat down and made some menus, then packed up what we’d need.
We got a late start out of Bakersfield as the truck seemed to be presenting problems for which there seemed to be no fix. Fortunately, Joshua Tree is only a 4-hour drive, however, with afternoon traffic, it was a little over 5 hours.

It was really getting dark when we arrived at Joshua Tree and there are few lights in the area. We decided to go directly to the closest campground, thinking that we’d leave in the morning when we could find a better site.

We drove into the campground and up past the visitor center when the paved roads turned into partially paved and rutted roads. In the dark, we couldn’t tell if we were on a road or a trail.

We drove out from the rutted roads and onto the main road, not knowing where we were, and ending up outside of the park. We found a place to turn around and went back into the park taking the 1st site we saw.

Dale backed into the site, and we got out into freezing winds. After setting up the RV we looked around a bit. Dale yelled for me to come to where he was, there on the ground was a snake. In the light of our flashlight, it looked like it was a mid-size snake with its head up. Now we are not snake people at all, so had no idea what we were looking at, except to move out of the way. We were grateful for an RV and not just a sleeping bag on the ground.
In the morning we went outside, only to find the snake still there, still in the same position. Again, as we do not like snakes, we were uncertain. Dale found a stick and after poking it discovered that the snake was only a toy. We had a good laugh and suspect that whoever left it had a good laugh as well.

Posted by Miss Chris 06:52 Archived in USA Tagged road_trip wildlife nature driving camping snake rv outdoors joshua_tree_national_park Comments (0)

Road Trip to The California-Mexico Border


Before leaving for Oregon I applied for Global Entry passes for Dale and I. When we travel for work I usually carry lots of equipment and it is always a worry when I get stuck in security and my equipment goes on down the line. We also hate the lines in security.

We’d hoped to go thru the interview process in San Francisco or Portland but there were no interview openings until July and August. We got our Conditional Approval while we were at the South Beach. I looked again for interview openings but when there was nothing in Northern CA, I secured interview appointments down in El Centro for Wed afternoon.

Our plan was to go to El Centro via Anza Borrego on Tues, then drive to El Centro for the night. On Wed, we would go to our interview then return home thru Joshua Tree. We’ve been wanting to go thru these 2 parks for several years so this would be a good excuse.

We arrived home from Northern Cali on Monday, repacked and left again on Tues morning. We’d planned to take our RV but then last minute decided to leave the RV at home and hotel it.

The drive down to Anza Borrego was beautiful. We were surprised and wished we were in a sports car instead of our truck. We could imagine driving on the 2 lane roads winding thru the hills, flying low! Someday.
We were so surprised in Anza Borrego. There were so many flowers, so much green. http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=638 I had Dale to stop several times for photos.

We made it down to El Centro and after checking into the hotel got a recommendation to eat at D’poly. As it turns out there are 2 restaurants, one a taqueria. We went to the taqueria, as recommended. A little place but great food.

We made our interview and it was as others had posted, simple and quick. We were out in about 15 minutes. Now we had to wait for our passports to be linked.

We started for home but had to have another meal at D’poly, this time, the restaurant. Again the restaurant was hardly larger than the taqueria and food was so good. Dale was the only non-Hispanic in the place.

We drove home via Joshua Tree. https://www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm. We were under pressure to get home but stopped at several pull outs in the park. The cactus were beautiful and unusual. At the last pull out I stopped to shoot photos of some rocks. As I was shooting I realized there were Big Horn sheep running around the rocks. I’d read that it is unusual to see them.

Nearly too late I remembered my telephoto lens, I ran back to get the lens but then only got one photo. This was a sad lesson on why I need to carry all this stuff, even when it is across a road.

We will return to both Anza Borrego and Joshua Tree, hopefully, next spring. Next time we will camp in the RV for several days at each place.

Now for our next trip.

Posted by Miss Chris 17:32 Archived in USA Tagged road_trip nature driving national_park anza_borrega_state_park joshua_tree_national_park Comments (0)

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