Whew, it was over. The sitting in the western Washington and Oregon rain and chill for two months, the complex solar and battery installation that took a week to accomplish (while we stayed in a nice Airbnb unit away from our “home”), and the refrigerator upgrade (removal and installation through a removed window opening in the side of our motorhome!) were all behind us and we were free to leave the Eugene area and begin our journeys. Where to go for our first stop? Off to Ashland, Oregon we went, an easy 180 mile drive.
We camped three nights at Ashland’s Emigrant Lake, in their The Pointe RV Park. Relatively inexpensive at $30 per night, the park was clean and most sites were level and had a good view of the lake, which had a very low water level in late January. The level looked alarmingly low to us (see the image above), but locals assured us drought conditions had left it much lower at times in the recent past. Neither of us had ever spent time in Ashland before, so we took the opportunity to explore the town and do some hiking around the lake. The weather was a welcome change from the rain and cold we’d been experiencing all fall and winter up to that point, with relatively warm and mostly sunny skies, and we enjoyed being outside. Ashland is famous for its long-running Oregon Shakespeare Festival and all of the great food and lodging choices that go along with a tourist-oriented town. Unfortunately, all of the Ashland playhouses were closed for the season, so we couldn’t see a play (the first plays were due to begin in March, although summer is their biggest and best period).
Our stay was a great opportunity to learn how our new battery and inverter system worked and how to read the new monitors mounted inside our RV. On the way we also discovered one of our slides was malfunctioning and we soon figured out it was due to mistakes made by a technician during some hydraulic line work we’d had done in November. Fortunately, I was able to get a HWH slide expert from Arizona on the phone and he graciously talked me through the steps I needed to perform on one of the solenoids to rectify the problem.
After three nights, and with a snowstorm on the way that would make travel over the Siskiyou Pass into California difficult, we headed further south.
We made a one night stop in Colusa, on our way to a longer stop in Modesto. The Colusa County Fairgrounds allows RVers to stay overnight with an electrical hookup for $20. With our new solar system we could have skipped the hookup, but we weren’t quite ready to try boondocking (dry camping) somewhere and this was a convenient stop over location. It turned out the fairgrounds was getting ready for a big farming combine and harvester show, so there was lots of interesting equipment being moved around as we arrived, but we were given a nice out-of-the-way spot to spend the night. The only downside: the ground we had to park on was high wet grass interspersed with patches of deep mud due to recent rains. We had visions of getting our 30,000 pound bulk stuck in the mud and as it was we couldn’t help but get ourselves wet when we had to move around the outside of our rig and then track the mud into our rig. We were glad this stop was only for one night and with some careful maneuvering after pre-walking our route (more mud on our shoes!) we did make it out the next morning without getting stuck. Sorry, no pics of this quick stop, despite there being thousands of beautiful white birds in the water and air of the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge that we drove through to and from town. I understand they could have been white ibis, white pelicans, and/or white geese that winter in those flooded fields and natural lands.
This was a fun, early February five night stop at the Modesto Reservoir, despite some occasional heavy rains and winds. We were there to visit Kathy’s Aunt Donna and cousin Michelle and her husband Dick. And, visiting with them was indeed wonderful. We even got to participate in Donna’s church sunday school class as she taught about Samuel. We didn’t do much sightseeing, spending most of our time with family and doing some short hikes around the campground in between storms. We camped on an estuary portion of the reservoir and it was active with many birds enjoying the waters, reeds, and nearby trees. The campground was largely empty during our early February stay but despite that people like us that arrived without a reservation were limited to a couple of very small sections of the many sites in the park. (Oddly, most sites couldn’t be used unless a prior reservation for it had been made.) The restrooms and showers were very utilitarian and worn and we were glad we have our own facilities in our motorhome. We did visit the Oakdale Cowboy Museum, which is more about rodeo cowboys and cowgirls than it is about working cowboys. It was well-presented, we enjoyed the exhibits, and I had a great discussion with the greeter about the different types of ropes used in roping. Who knew that a good roper has a full complement of different ropes—varying in thickness, stiffness, and perhaps even color—to use for different roping situations? (At least I didn’t!)
Next: Pinnacles National Park