Category: Camping


Uncle Ross

My Grandfather on my mother’s side got around, he had more than one family which used to confuse me when I was little. As a result I had two uncles around the same age as my brother and me which I definitely thought was cool.  One year on a family meetup we snuck away from the adults. It was Summer of Love and we were in our teen years. We took the bus to Haight-Asbury, the streets were overflowing with long-haired flower children, tie-died feathered barefoot kissers,  pretty acid bubbles floating through the air, smooth skin star gazers gifting love and peace to everyone amid rays of crystal rainbows and joy, a scene I’ll never forget.

Ross lives in Santa Cruz and works at the Community Print Collective; I’d stopped at a campground near Watsonville, Pinto Lake County Recreation Area. The campsite/park was bustling with families and small kids. Being “little” (the LT is only 19′) I was given the parking spot in front near the lake so I stayed. There was no hot water for showers, supposedly PG&E was repairing the lines and would be done soon but I was told the same story in the morning…  word for word. I didn’t see anyone doing any work. I walked towards the lake area:  Polluted! Contact with the water was to be avoided! What a shame, little kids were fishing, yuck!

Pinto Lake, Warnings! DSC00212

There wasn’t much else to do other than give Olympia an impromptu bath after she rolled in some muck so I headed back out in the RV. . .  found another entrance to the Park about a mile or so away, almost missed it. Hiking trails, a fishing pier, large ball fields, playground, picnic areas and nature trails, there’s a sign saying to watch out for runners and disc throwers, apparently they play disc golf and although I didn’t know to look for the area, the Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared at this park. The lake is very pretty. I was the only non-Hispanic person so it was no surprise that the bathrooms had signs only in Spanish….  something about putting the paper in the water bowl before flushing…..  geesh! The park was a canopy of activity; ball games, runners, walkers, picnickers and disc players. The dogs liked it too.

Hiking Around Pinto Lake, Watsonville with Olympia nad Mason Pinto Lake, Watsonville with Olympia and Mason

Pinto Lake County Park

To my delight when I returned to my camp Uncle Ross had left a voice mail, soon he was on his way to visit. We spent several hours in peace (all the little kids and other day time visitors had been told it was time to go and the gate locked.) Ross and I sat on my green camp chairs in front of the LT watching the lake in the dusk and into the dark.  I think this was the first time I had company, my mother’s little folding table from the ARVO (the cabin cruiser the family had when I was a kid) holding our mugs of tea, the dogs frisking about and finally settling inside as we talked . .. serious and very interesting talk about autism, Alzheimer’s, research and exercise in auditory training, sounds and perception and of course dogs and families. I was happy. I was happy for the connection to my uncle, happy for the birds and sounds of the lake, happy for the freedom of the LT, happy for my happy dogs that enjoy traveling with me.

My camp spot at Pinto Lake

My camp spot at Pinto Lake

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Pinto Lake Reflection

Tranquility ( Hajime Mizoguchi )

 

RV Fiberglass Repair

Should get the LT back next week. Here’s a shot of the last night camping before I headed back to Santa Barbara. This was at a marina not too far from Stockton, River Point Landing Marina Resort on the San Joaquin River. I paid for a premium spot right on the water. I had wanted to camp deeper into the delta but the wind was out this world. Even when I landed at the marina I thought we’d be blown into the brink. I checked the weather and it said the wind would die off at 7 pm…. fat chance I thought but oddly at 7:02 pm the wind died. I was amazed and spent a peaceful night playing with dogs and watching the river.

In the morning after a nice walk I tarried considering staying a bit longer… at 9 am the wind started at 10 am it was nearly a gale. I drove home with heavy wind warnings posted along my entire route. At one point the wind was so strong I could barely open the van doors to let the dogs out for a potty break… we only went a few feet with the air pressure generated force bending me over and spooking the dogs. I didn’t stop again.

Last Night

The view out my RV window

The view out my RV window

I choose Quality RV, the mobile RV Service to repair the damage done to the body of my Leisure Travel. So far am happy, Gabriel put my mind at ease. He picked up my little LT and drove it to his shop in Camarillo. AAA okayed the insurance work. Poor little baby has some nasty scratches.

Damage is along the driver side to the battery door and along the wheel. the fiberglass is flaky along the cracks.

Damage is along the driver side to the battery door and along the wheel. the fiberglass is flaky along the cracks.

Fix me.... fix me...  when it happened it seemed worse than it actually is. Still it's a big job to repair.

Fix me…. fix me… when it happened it seemed worse than it actually is. Still it’s a big job to repair.

Traveling with dogs can be a blast, they have a great time, they’re wonderful sentries and companions, fun loving, eager, joyful…. but it’s hard on the human. For the first time ever I didn’t stop at Harbin Hot Springs or Sierraville or any of the hotsprings that I love. A few days soaking would have been bliss. No dogs is the standard policy. No dogs may be left in one’s vehicle, no dogs unattended, no dogs on trails, no dogs in parks, no dogs in buildings, no dogs…… No on-location (safe and clean) kenneling, dog sitting, pet area, etc, etc, is offered and to make it worse dog napping is on the rise. California used to be a friendly place. I remember friendly dogs at Harbin, cute mutts on hiking trails, well behaved dogs in stores sheltered from heat exhaustion welcomed with a pat and a biscuit. Having once been a public sector servant I know that these policies are passed to provide the same requirement to all. They can’t say, no bad dogs, they can’t ask for self-enforcement of common courtesy instead they levy fines, restrictions, they mar the scenery with dozens of sings that must be paid for and maintained. Nature must be pristine, sculpted and controlled, unchanging so everyone gets to see the same thing.

It’s doubtful all this regulation will curtail the flippancy of non-caring humans, and even though dogs can read simple signs and words most don’t know how. The non-caring, non-stewarding human doesn’t give a holler about the results of their passage. Where’s the sign that says, no cigarette butts on this trail, you will be fined $100 for each butt, DNA testing enforced. How about no radios and TVs at campgrounds? No smoke plume campfires? No yelling and screaming, no cigar toking, no trash and plastic left in the fire pit, no revving super-sized trucks with all the lights blazing especially at 3 am, no unsupervised kids pawing everything in sight, no gunshots, no human waste piles, trash piles…. you get the idea. Most folks and their dogs are great. Isn’t it time we collectively ask the troublemakers to get with program and respect the land! Aren’t you tired of all the trash, violence, pillage and disregard for one another and for our environs? What happened to the Litter Bug, kindness towards strangers and leave a place better than you found it? Why pick on dogs, especially weary travelers, visitors and tourists with dogs? It’s time to be respectful, teach your dog good manners, teach each other and have them yourself or soon the next sign I expect to see is NO HUMANS.

My phone provides pleasure, especially via Tunein Pro radio, right now I’m listening to Folk Alley via my little pop up black portable speakers–I-Home–I think they are. Other favs, Sleepbot Environmental, Silent.li Nature Sounds, Misterium, Niryana Relaxation Radio, KCBX Public Radio, WKSU Classical, All Classical Portland. Most of these are for sleeping to kill the annoying wine in my bad ear, but they are for pleasure as well.

 My parking spot in the rain at Konocti Vista Casino, first night in Lake County

My parking spot in the rain at Konocti Vista Casino, first night in Lake County

Taking a walk around the Casino

Taking a walk around the Casino

My Note’s GPS is far better at finding and laying a trail via car or walking than my Garmin. My newish Garmin is a confused and wayward creature, I don’t recommend it although I loved my original one. The Note provides overview maps and specialty info. My e-mail is delivered as received, same for Facebook. I can watch movies, read a book, tell the time, count the stars or at least know what I’m seeing up there in the night. I can keep in touch, video and photograph what I see, draw a picture or pen a note. I can record fantastic bird and nature sounds. My Note will talk to me if I ask it to, it will sing to me in my own voice from one of the moments when no one was listening but my Note. Remember when one needed a daypack for all their stuff? All I need is my Note, a water bottle, a hat and my dogs. Oh and my wallet, which brings me back to the story of losing my wallet. How many of you have experienced precognition? If you have an explanation I want to know.

Comes cordis Olympia of Flying Curls Lagotto Romagnolo at the dog park

Comes cordis Olympia of Flying Curls Lagotto Romagnolo at the dog park


Flying Curls Mason at the dog park

Flying Curls Mason at the dog park

I had returned to a favored spot, the dog park at the Kelseyville County Park. Now this involves a pet peeve of mine; its women’s jeans pockets. Men’s pants have nice roomy pockets, front and back. Women’s have itsy-bitsy teeny weenie pockets, some pockets are even fake, oh how I hate those! How many road savvy, feet hiking, dog toting, camping, fixing, picture-taking, RV driving where other RVs don’t dare to go, women, have the space to carry a purse or need to with a nifty Note? So what’s wrong with pockets? One for the phone, one for the wallet, one for dog treats, one for pooper bags and I’m good to go. Why must they be so shallow?

I thought of leaving my wallet, it’s one of those Eagle Creek things, lot’s of stuff can go in there, I actually have a sort of purse, a green sling bag from Magellan’s Travel Supplies in which I keep my checkbook, camp cards and a few other things; my wallet and phone will fit in there if needed and I don’t want my too small pockets bulging…. ah hum… leaving my wallet in the LT was a good idea, I was thinking, but being the don’t trust anyone sort, my head plays the scene… while I’m off having fun, someone breaks into the LT, maybe they take my wallet, or maybe they take the van …. better have my phone, my dogs, my wallet and a jacket just in case. I was a Girl Scout, a leader of my troop and learned to Be Prepared. I’m skilled at worrying. My Mother taught me to think ahead. I doubt she ever thought I’d get it. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, I’m excellent at listening. I listen to what others don’t say out loud, I listen to the animals, to the wind, to the sound my feet make, to the dogs breathing, to the sound the stars make and more.

So, there I was in Lake County on a too tired day not understanding why an environment of such astounding beauty should be inhabited by communities of drugged out, smoking, beer drinking, trash heaping, badly groomed, overly poor, burned out humans. I’m gonna say beauty is learned thing. No I’ll change that, beauty is natural, but the senses can be so degraded that humans lose touch and start living in a collective illusion, often an ugly one.

My private world of water and birds at the lake, Lake County, CA

My private world of water and birds at the lake, Lake County, CA

So I had the feeling, actually a premonition, maybe you could call it a vision, that I would actually lose my wallet that day. I don’t pay too much attention to these things being a skeptic. I was considering what a silly idea losing my wallet was; I could leave it stashed in the LT but since I planned to do some meandering I decided my premonition was nothing more than a reflex from the panic of the last week; I’d be extra careful. After playing with the dogs I was tired headed to Clearlake State Park to spend the night, having earlier that day rejected a half-dozen so called RV Park/Resorts in Kelseyville and Lakeport that were run down Trailer Parks of the kind that we used say were trash camps, the one or two that looked nice were private, none seemed to have any offerings for an overnight guest in defiance of their welcoming signs. So, I rolled up to the State Park kiosk, surprised that this time there was a human in the booth rather than a note saying one should self-register, I’d been here the day I arrived but had gone to the Casino for their Internet access and plug-in power.

I tired to pay my entrance fee. No wallet! No panic either, this time I knew I’d lost it, I’d known I was going to after all. I pushed the LT over the rough roads, bump and grind ignoring the dogs look of pained “do you have to do that, Mom” look, as fast as I could. The young pole fishing couple in their blue 4×4 waved me over just as I arrived at the dog park, they were about to disappear. “We were gonna mail this to you,” he said. A few more moments they would have been gone.

Camping at Clearlake State Park added to my study of the uncommonly seen species, the human male fisherman. At the State Park they come out into the open and are to be found everywhere! They are a noisy bunch but seem to be having a lot of fun. I walked all the paved roads from top to bottom, some 3 or 4 times as dogs are not allowed on the trails. On the upper roads, which had been barricaded from traffic I was completely alone save for my dogs, no fishermen, no campers, only me and the dogs. It was gorgeous. I found my favorite spot up there but it was closed for the winter.

I’d began my observation of the Human Male Fisher the previous night at Clearlake RV Resort; the first hour at the resort I spent raking dog poop and cigarette butts from the camp site I choose; my dogs were embarrassed, they hid under the LT until I’d cleaned the mess. I felt sorry an Australian Shepard mix tied outside a weathered trailer, never saw his owner, the dog was waiting until I went to sleep and tied up outside in the morning, don’t know if the piles were his but he had a sad lonely bark. I suspect I was the only “visitor” in the Resort; the others appeared to be semi-permanent. Only one resident was brave enough to check out the newcomer (me) other than one of the wilder young girls who asked a lot of questions. The man brought his dog, a cute but vicious little chihuahua over to poop while he tried to engage me in conversation. He was smoking and trying real hard to explain about his retirement and moving to Clearlake, I was polite but cold. I cleaned up his dog’s gifts after he left.

I loved my spot on the lip of the lake with no view of the campers far behind me. I laid out a nice clean big mat for the dogs and a few smaller ones to collect mud. We had a private paradise to ourselves. I left dogs off leash, Olympia played in the water, Mason and I watched the birds. I relaxed tossing the ball to Olympia, sitting in my green chair over a good dinner on Mom’s little nautical folding table. I felt like I was in a Disney Nature World, but it was real! Mergansers, plovers, mallards, greebe, coots, osprey: the feeding in turns… what expert fishers the birds are! The four guardian geese. The rituals, the crickets, squirrels, pond turtles, the bullfrogs, turkey vultures and hawks, the wind… it was rapture. The Resort was not so great, the wi-fi didn’t work, the shower took quarters so I didn’t bother, the store was closed, the pool and hot tub chained linked closed. I paid way too much to be doing my own cleaning but my spot had to be singularly the most vibrantly elegant bit of lakefront that I’ve experienced. I dreamed of having a place like that. I drew a picture, read my book, cooked a great meal, I was happy.

To my horror in the morning I made my first sighting of the human male fisher, they often came in pairs, in boats, looking very serious in special costumes and talkative among themselves at an hour long after the fish have retreated; what’s alarming is that they hunted for fish in the dirtiest part of the lake made even dirtier by the inhabitants of the resort… and I put all the blame on the humans here not the dogs. I dreaded what would happen if they caught a fish and took it to their wives for dinner…. mercury in the lake too. . . sick kids, sick mom and dad.

Keeping Guard over us

Keeping Guard over us

Clearlake 056

Clearlake 077

I think Clearlake needs to be repurposed as a naturalist habitat. I love all the organic farms. . .pears, peaches, apples, walnuts, grapes, herbs and figs, melons, berries, olives, pomegranates, lamas, flowers, free range pheasants, chickens, goats, wild turkeys, etc. but not the failure of the fishing economy and the collapse of tourism. The Lake is troubled, contaminated but she’s ancient and beautiful. It would be terrible to turn the borders into another Lake Tahoe where you have to pay for a view and the traffic is thicker than frozen butter. So if I won the lottery…. well who knows. Bed time now.
Clearlake

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Clearlake 054

This turned out to be a favored camping spot: River Reflections RV Park … could’ve, should’ve spent another night there but with the rain I went exploring as you already heard…. Oh yay yay Great camping spot with a view of the Feather River. Had our section to ourselves, peaceful and serene.

The Park had some sticky seed pods in the grass, Mason was suspicious, when something funny gets in his paws he gives me this look, like, you gotta be kidding, what, walk on the stuff, no way! But he’s little I can pick him up. I gave him a nice foot massage and all was forgiven.

On our last walk of the day we sat at the bottom of the boat loading ramp watching the birds.

On our last walk of the day we sat at the bottom of the boat loading ramp watching the birds.

night

Rain Outside Our Window

Rain Outside Our Window

Oh yeh….. and the dam – I would have liked a tour but I wasn’t finding anything that day. Maybe it was down the way too small and steep looking dirt / gravely and wet road that I didn’t dare take the LT on or maybe further up the hill or maybe on the other side… I was driving in loops and circles.

Oroville Dam from the road

Oroville Dam from the road

No Wi-Fi Here

I choose this spot for it’s location and the connection.  Have been enjoying the delight of the Lake. No signal, not surprised. I am right on the lake, the wind is howling. In the quiet spaces, lapping water, frogs, crickets…they start and stop, same with the wind. A glorious concert.

Am I imagining things in the darkness, has the water risen. It looks so close now, the lights on the walk out peir twinkle at me as if it was just us, the water and the lush of night.

The Power of Birds

I wrote this yesterday, but could not post as there was no Wi-Fi,   Tonight  it’s iffy…   will see..

Okay, no pictures tonight, not enough  bandwidth to load them…  but here’s the text…  photos to come. Oh, there’s one….more later.

As I sit at the bottom of the boat ramp at River Reflections RV Resort & Campground in Oroville CA,  tired dogs snuggled close, a rapid streak  fills the flickering of  first one eye then the next, replacing the uncomfortable tailings of ocular migraines and visual snow. It is a goodness only surpassed by the cacophony of dinner calls, territorial puckering, perhaps mating rituals; it is after all early spring. The whistles , hoots and calls of 5 or 7 or 10 species eradicates tinnitus. The noise of the birds is like a waterfall in sound. And again, another flash of bird power that feels so good to my eyes, shattering the stasis of torn nerves. I don’t know how they can fly so fast then seem to slow as l watch. I want to memorize them,  They are beauty and doctoring entwined. It is magic.  Today has been a feast, all this natural music. Earlier there were carpets of tiny flowers , purple butterflies, more fantastic bird songs and strange roads my GPS sends to test my mettle. I plugged in my desired location and was instructed in rather bad English. The road unexpectedly turned to gravel, oh heck, I thought, someone had told me the road was paved, this must be temporary  but it went on. I swore, knuckles clamped on the wheel it was time to turn around, give it up, I could not pass this way, yet I’d experienced before how I never see others making the journey I’m making only to arrive and find there is a crowd…  how did they get there! The road was too narrow to turn around. Who would find me and the dogs I wondered, I passed homes until they disappeared. This time just before I reached  my destination–Table Mountain Ecological Area–a ranch appeared, cars appeared and a cross-road… paved of course, with a double yellow line.  Oh! And all these folks were picnicking and walking dogs. Everyone happy, with the thunderclouds and dotted sun. Folks asked me about Olympia and joked about investigating the cow piles. I was glad I found it. Wildflowers jumping up and down.

Table Mountain Ecological Area

Table Mountain Ecological Area

Still earlier, I had driven into Chico from Paradise; Paradise I have decided is a delight to those living in Chico because of its stunning Pines. The town is filled with trees, Dogwoods, Maples I think, Willows maybe, I’m guessing since I don’t know, some of which were in bloom, white, others blazing pink amid the evergreens, a delight in contrast to the heat of Chico. Yet I was not taken with the town, it seems better suited for seclusion. I loved the off-road walkways walking with the dogs, didn’t see any residents on them. The Safeway was packed with men, maybe going fishing?  As one guy told me, this isn’t San Francisco you can’t expect to find those fancy foods here, my tastes for the natural organic stuff…. life here is more basic. Maybe it was just the day, I’ve never seen so many guys grocery shopping, l felt dwarfed standing in line with them.

Stopped at Bidwell Park in Chico, loved it! 3,670-acres! The dogs ran free, Olympia blasted into the pond, Mason in wonder…he seemed stunned, fascinated by such a place; didn’t love the speed bumps on the road in… those are tough in the LT. I took the road to the end. Dogs were permitted off leash on the hiking trails!!! That’s love. We played amid Pipevine Swallowtails, geese, herons, ducks, salamanders, and flurries of assorted  and noisy song birds with their accompanist insects.  I liked Chico,well, I loved the Park and therefore the town! The Natural Food store was yummy; tons of students. Then the challenging drive…my Garmin secretly laughs at me; those 4 by 4 trucks can’t get anything over on the LT. I could do it. Twisty, steep, gravely, no shoulders, bring it on. The reward was wildflowers and at my campsite more birds!!!!

Early this morning it rained, I felt relaxed, I almost never feel that way. I woke at 6:30 with the wind, then the rain came. I lazed in the Park for a few hours, took the dogs for a walk in-between showers but then I left. I might have stayed another day it the Park had Wi-Fi. Instead I went in search of a wildlife viewing area which I couldn’t find. Every turn I made was the wrong turn. I was frustrated so decided to head to Clear Lake State Park…  I stopped here and there, for a walk, near a river, or a downtown or a path.  Someone slide up next to my LT, maybe another camper, maybe a truck….  they left a long wound on my motorhome, sliced fibreglass badly all along the rear wheel and compartment and more. I was upset, then Olympia started in with her I want to play tennis ball sulkiness…. why did today turn out to be irritating and troublesome when yesterday was a delight?  The rain turned gray and muddy. I passed on the State Park, I passed on the nearby RV Park and am at the Casino…ho-humm, a parking lot, but it’s quiet. Patience  I need patience and please, please bring back those magical birds and butterflies and singing insects….

Awake at 3 am

Am in the town of Paradise, CA, it’s filled with trees. First night sleeping in the LT on this trip; there seems to be a bit of mold which has caused breathing trouble keeping me awake. Tomorrow will need to take out the contents from the overhead cabinets and treat them with a mold killer…  maybe a hot laundry too. On my way to Table Mountain to see the season’s wildflowers.

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Posted from Android

Took this shot with my now (old and retired cell phone) I love this place and will return. It’s a county park, Lake Cahuilla.