Road to California: Triumph over Trials

road to California
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The road to California was a tough one this year, but we made it.

I should mention, before we get into the specifics of our trip, that King and I have had a propensity to have things go wrong. (Bad luck if you believe in it, I don’t). It’s been that way since we were married in 1976. So, when things go wrong, we tend to kind of roll with it. It can’t always be sunshine and lollipops.

Our third day out, as we were leaving our overnight stop in Neosho, Missouri, we were doing our routine pre-travel light check and discovered not all the trailer lights were working. We decided to drive to the nearest truck stop to get dielectric grease for the plug, hoping it was a bad connection. Apparently, Love’s Truck stops don’t carry the needed grease. We continued on with our travels deciding to look at various gas stations and truck stops on the road to Oklahoma when the truck started overheating. Since our next scheduled stop was Elk City, Oklahoma where we had the radiator replaced on our trip home last spring, King decided we would try to make it there to have the repair shop look at the truck — once again.

We limped along, adding coolant, running the heater and going slow on the road to Elk City. King drove directly to the repair shop where they got us in immediately (still hitched to the trailer) and replaced the fan clutch. We left the repair shop and drove to our campground at Elk City Lake Park, it’s our “go to” stay when in Oklahoma. It’s a cute little park with about 15 spots along a small lake. When we first started traveling it was free to stay, but they added a dump station and bath house and now it’s $15 a night. Still really reasonable.

The next morning, we still had erratic trailer lights, so we got on the road to the local Walmart to get the needed dielectric spray and on our way the truck over heated once again. So, we drove back to the repair shop, and they replaced the thermostat. Since it had been replaced by them just seven months earlier there was no charge, and while we were waiting for the thermostat to be delivered everyone took a turn trying to figure out why the trailer lights didn’t work. On a whim, King decided to replace bulbs… whoops. That was the problem.

We made it to Quartzite, Arizona a few days later and I had a feeling I was hearing brakes grinding. I convinced myself I was being paranoid and didn’t say anything to King. I wear hearing aids, except when we travel because I can’t adjust for road noise. King is stone deaf in his right ear so all he hears is road noise. By the time we got to California there was no question. We needed new brakes — in fact we needed pads and rotors. I’m guessing both of us being stone deaf we never heard the warning squeak of wearing pads. Who really knows?

Quartzsite, AZ – Images of Main Street | Caryn Esplin | Fine Art PhotographyCreator: Caryn_Esplin  Copyright: Caryn_Esplinhttps://carynesplin.com/arizona-sunset/

I’ve never mentioned to King how much his braking (or lack thereof) scares the poo out of me. I think driving habits have something to do with growing up in the city (Detroit area), because he never slows down until he’s five feet from a stop sign and then hits the brakes. It’s not just me who he scares. When our son rides with us he sits in the b*ack seat and pulls a hoodie over his head so he doesn’t have to watch. I think his theory is he’d rather not see it coming.

So… we arrived in California and little scathed, but fairly sound and got the brakes fixed at our favorite repair shop in Lakeside, California. I think by the time we are through with this travel adventure thing we will have favorite repair shops across the country.

And then… another disaster struck.

Petra, the feared

We don’t stay at RV “resorts” for several reasons. 1) they are quite expensive; 2) they have age restrictions on trailers — prohibiting trailers older than 10 years old; and 3) most RV resorts don’t allow “dangerous breed” dogs. That would be Petra.

There is one campground, Lake Jennings, that allows 90-day stays and does not have trailer age or dog restrictions. We normally start our stay there and when our time is up spending part of February and all of March traveling from campground to campground at San Diego County Parks. This year I decided to book Lake Jennings at the END of our stay and travel from county campground to county campground at the beginning of our stay. (We pick more urban campgrounds because we try to stay within a reasonable driving distance to our daughter — we help with daycare, school pickups, etc.) And this timetable is where our problems began.

California, Lake Jennings Beautiful landscape overlooking the city at sunset..

Apparently in addition to a 14-day limit at these campgrounds there is also a 60-day limit in any given calendar year. So, since we stayed at these campgrounds last spring (to us it was last year) the reservations I made for this fall put us over our 60-day limit. There is no notice when these reservations are made online, however I’m told that if I had called in my reservations, the egregious error would have been caught.

So, King and I arrived at Sweetwater Summit in Bonita, California, registered at the front gate, found our site, set up camp, had our dinner and were ready to call it an early night when there was a knock on our door. The park rangers informed us we were 15 days over our 60-day limit. It took us three days to get it figured out — including a phone call where we cancelled some days, shorted our stay at other parks and thought we ultimately had it figured out only to receive another phone call stating, nope, we were still over our 60-day limit. I’ll admit defeat, but King likes to argue. I mean REALLY likes to argue, but even he could not get them to budge.

There are a lot of remote places we like to stay in California, but those are for special “get away from it all” days of boondocking. The goal here is to be within a reasonable driving distance to our daughter.

And that is where it pays to have friends. A friend we met through our daughter sent out a request on a neighborhood chat asking for suggestions as to where we could stay. Enter Neil and Maria. An older couple who have a full RV hook-up in their yard for visiting children. Neil said he felt led to offer his place to us, and after a little negotiating we settled on a price (I’ve never haggled up before, but what he was suggesting would have been taking advantage of him). So, unless we really piss each other off, we have a place to stay until our long-term campground opens in January.

This winter’s road to California has been eventful. It’s been a wicked bumpy ride, but I think we’ve made it.

Stop by the gift shop

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