Into Oregon and Crater Lake National Park

After departing the Lassen Volcanic National Park area we backtracked 30 miles west to Redding; from there our route would take us north on I-5 then US-97 to Klamath Falls and Crater Lake, Oregon. Before leaving Redding, however, we decided to get a mechanic to take a look at an odd noise the motorhome had been making. It had started with an occasional definitive “click” near the front, left and below the driver seat. It had become more and more frequent such that now, after a few minutes on the road, it would click several times a minute. My efforts to identify the cause were in vane, nor could I correlate it to any other symptoms beyond road vibration from an oddly wearing front left tire.

After a couple of calls we were referred to R and R Auto, conveniently located a minute off our route on I-5. They could not promise to fit us in right away, but they did have space for us to stay over night if needed. Upon arrival we parked in their large repair yard and killed time until the manager came out to triage our case. After some discussion of the symptoms he had me open the front engine access and drive slowly forward while he walked alongside. He was able to very quickly pinpoint it to the exact same box of electronics containing the battery isolation solenoid switch that went bad back in 2017.

The electro-mechanical sound I had been hearing and the lack of any other symptoms suddenly made sense: when the switch had failed four years ago, Thor’s official recall “repair” was simply to “jumper” it, electrically isolating the switch by wiring around it, effectively removing its function and from having any impact on the system. After years of continued degradation, the switch finally progressed from unexpectedly, though rarely, opening under heat and stress, to the current, near continuous opening and closing once things warmed up in the engine compartment. It presented no problem, just a mildly annoying nose that could barely be heard at highway speed. Sometime down the road I hope to remove it, but until then I can live with it.

Relieved, we continued on our way towards Crater Lake, where campground options were even more limited than near Lassen Volcanic. The on premises campground within the national park had mixed reviews, with a lot of complaints about the site selection process, but the bottom line for us was that there were only a few sites with power, none available, and the dry camping spots were $31 a night. Outside the park proper there were a good number of “dispersed” campsites on public land, meaning boondocking pull offs from dirt and gravel roads similar to our spot in Sedona, but that would involve possibly hours of trial and error searching along unfamiliar mountainous roads. There was a single moderately expensive RV resort about 45 minutes from the park, and a tiny state park in the vicinity as well, but we elected to take a chance on Annie’s Creek Sno-Park.

That’s our rig up there in the Sno-Park. Photo from an Off Road Vehicle play area down below, on the path to Annie’s Creek.

The Sno-Park is a strategically placed equipment storage and prepositioning site for snow removal and other heavy equipment, which also serves as a cold weather shelter and unofficial RV campground. It consists of a modest sized paved but unlined parking lot, a log cabin style shelter, and a roughly 50′ enclosed garage. The place was well suited to our needs: a free site on level ground, surrounded by trees, a nearby mountain creek (Annie’s) and only ten miles from the national park. Damn near perfect, particularly with the beautiful weather during our stay.

Annie’s Creek. Cold, but refreshing on a warm day.

The national park has the usual hiking trails and creek side picnic areas, but the reason people visit, the reason you should visit, is the absolutely stunning namesake attraction, Crater Lake. Formed from the volcanic explosion and subsequent collapse of Mount Mazama nearly eight millennia ago, the resultant lake, at just shy of 2000′, is the deepest in the US. Fed entirely from precipitation and snow melt is is also one of the most pristine; the azure color is rather spectacular. Rosemarie had the added pleasure of no expectations before our arrival, apparently assuming that this crater would be about the same as the one we visited in Arizona back in 2015, i.e., probably fascinating to geologists, but from a visual perspective rather so-so.

The 33 mile perimeter road, or rim drive, circles the entire crater, but the northeast portion of it was closed due to snow, even in mid June. We greatly enjoyed the sections we could drive and the numerous overlook pull offs. The one thing I would have liked to do that we missed was hike the single approved trail down to the lake’s edge, but it was closed as well, though for safety reconstruction rather than weather.

Lady of the Forest, a well known local rock carving, and part of a geocache.

Though only there for two days, they were fantastic in nearly every regard, and I hope we can return sometime when the rest of the rim drive and trails are open. Our only negative for the visit was discovering a flat (another one!) on the motorhome the morning of our second day. We picked up a road nail somewhere, and the leak was slow enough that we did not notice until it deflated overnight. I was able to plug it with a tire repair kit, but with a tire this size getting it to take air is quite difficult without special equipment; I could not get the edge of the tire to seat against the wheel rim (or whatever the correct terminology is) and thus air just kept escaping out the gap.

It was the outside tire of our left pair of duallys, and we have been in this position before, and chose to nurse the rig back to Klamath Falls at low speed to get it fixed. An expert at the very large and quite active Basin Tire Center inspected my plug, found it sufficient, and with the assistance of a specialized tool or two managed to get the tire seated and filled. We were on our way in less than an hour, headed north.

Next up: Two more stops in Oregon before hitting our next “destination spot” in Washington. (It’s another national park.)

Lassen Volcanic

Since our first year full time RVing we have made it an unofficial goal to see as many national parks as we can. At first it was less of a goal and more of an aspect of our route planning, i.e., defaulting to include any unvisited national parks on our itinerary as we passed through various states and regions. Not all of them have been home runs; I can think of two off the top of my head that did not seem to deserve the exalted status of being a national park, and I’m not even counting the truly weird Hot Springs in Arkansas. But far more of them either lived up to the hype or knocked our socks off off despite having barely heard of it before visiting.

Can you smell what we are cooking? Sulpherous Mudpots!

We have been so rewarded by this process that it continues strong here in our seventh year on the road, having already hit Sequoia National Park last month, with several more lined up for June starting with Lassen Volcanic, located deep inland in Northern California, about 150 miles north of Sacramento. We made the nearly four hour run from Travis AFB to our chosen campground in the park area, Living Springs RV and Cabin Resort.

The campgrounds within the park itself were either for smaller rigs or full up, and the options on the private market were limited and pricey. We paid $68 a night, and that’s with a 10% veterans discount, which is a much higher rate than our usual and surprising given my impression that Lassen is not exactly one of the big destination national parks. Aside from the sticker shock, the place was quite nice. The sites in our section were oddly laid out, but we had a full hook up, pull through site under a nice tree canopy in a well maintained campground that even had an on premises geocache. The place had a “living in nature but not roughing it” ambience.

The northern park entrance was conveniently located about 15 miles up the road from Living Springs. During pre-pandemic times we had a bit of a routine for new national parks that included an early stop at the information center for brochures and maps and to see the park movie, a staple at nearly every one we have visited. With COVID restrictions the visitor centers are limiting indoor numbers, and all their theaters are closed. This was fine for Lassen since the main info center was at the opposite end of the park, so we just grabbed the park map at the gate and followed along the numbered and clearly described points of interest on the park road.

Neither of us knew much of anything about the place before going, and so it exceeded our practically nonexistent expectations. Lassen is a beautiful park and we had a lovely day touring it using one of the better constructed park guide maps and roadside information markers that we have seen. Each stop gave you a piece of the geologic history and its impact on the flora, fauna, and sparse local population. The short version is that Lassen Peak, after decades of observed sporadic activity, exploded big time in 1915, causing a massive lava/mud slide and ejecting large rocks that ended up miles from the peak.

One of the big rocks ejected from Lassen Peak during the 1915 explosion.

The area remains volcanically active; many mud pots and fumaroles are quite visible, particular near the old Sulphur works. We appreciated the variation within the park, the harshly beautiful blasted areas still recovering from volcanic devastation, the idyllic meadow streams, clear mountain lakes, and snow on the western slopes. Upon reaching the southern entrance we stopped at the gift shop for coffee and a park patch to add to my growing collection.

The park road is not a full circle, but rather a zigzagging crescent, and once reaching the southern end, we were left with the choice of backtracking to the northern entrance, or taking a scenic tour east and then north back to our campground. We chose the latter, and had a great drive through further interesting and varied scenery, particularly once we took to the back roads to work our way across a valley before reemerging in the small town near our resort.

Aside from the interesting geology and history, the area is stunningly beautiful; the 30 mile park road comes highly recommended by travel connoisseurs at Shell On Wheels. Don’t miss it if you are in the area, and it is well worth a day trip as well. We enjoyed our short stay, and considered remaining another day, but other adventures called.

So that is 33 out of 63 US national parks we have had the pleasure to visit. Those numbers do not include the 18 other categories of properties managed by the national park service such as national monuments, recreation areas, lakeshores, seashores, historic sites, parkways, preserves, reserves, trails, etc. (which currently totals 423 places); just the official national parks. In fact, when we first started this full time RV adventure there were only 59 of them; with Gateway Arch, Indiana Dunes, White Sands, and New River Gorge added since 2018. We don’t expect to hit all of them; some require a lot of effort (i.e., money) such as the Gates of the Arctic national park in Alaska, accessible by air taxi, but we do plan on hitting as many as our travels allow.

Next up: Into Oregon and Crater Lake National Park.

Travis Air Force Base & Concord, CA

We had set aside five days near Sequoia National Park, but we didn’t feel like we were really enjoying ourselves with the heat and potentially overheating car concerns. So we packed up and headed out after four days, bound for Travis Air Force Base where we had a week long reservation, and Rosemarie’s sister’s town of Concord, nearby. We made the decision to head for the base a little too late to adjust the reservation for our early arrival; their office was closed for the weekend, but prior experience and online research suggested there were likely a few walk up sites available.

Our drive would take us quite close to sister Dolores’s house, which is why I did not realize until I was practically in her neighborhood that I had plugged in her address rather than Travis AFB into the GPS! Ah well, the suburban roads were plenty wide for the motorhome, so we pressed on and ended up dropping Rosemarie off at the house while I continued half an hour up the road to check in at the base and set up camp. Travis’ Family Camp did indeed have a couple of open spots for the night, though the next day I would have to move to the site assigned for our original one week stay. This was no problem since it was a pull through site and I did a minimum set up.

The FamCamp is a decent place in a convenient location near the San Francisco Bay area. It provides full service sites at a typical AFB campground price of $25 a day, which seems so much more of a subsidized bargain in this high demand area than that same price in some of the out of the way bases at which we have stayed. The park is decent, though unremarkable by AFB standards, and there is a noticeable difference between the front and rear halves of the RV loop, with the former significantly better landscaped than the sparse back section. This disparity has been quite apparent since at least as far back as far back as our first visit hear in 2017, and the word appears to be out among the California military RV community, and so it was unsurprising that both our one night stay and our week long reservation were in the back forty.

We have stayed at over 25 different military campgrounds, enough to know and appreciate the significant variation in services, maintenance, and amenities. This one, located as it is on a full size Air Force facility, is pretty well maintained and has the full range of traditional base services, including a large commissary and exchange, on base gas station, thrift store, playgrounds, and in different times, a gym and pool. However limited the views and campground décor from the RV sites, Travis FamCamp is in an expensive, touristy area and yet provides all the amenities you could expect from a military base at a market crushing $25 a night. We have stopped even looking at private or state park options when in the area.

Over the course of the next week we spent most days enjoying company, catching up, and making a few outings to local fun spots. Rose spent probably half the nights at Dolores’, while I kept the cat company on the base. Since both Josh and Dolores are quite allergic to cats, we make whatever adjustments are necessary when we visit.

We had timed our stay to overlap Rosemarie’s birthday, on which Dori took us to Mount Diablo State Park, a nice place for day hiking and picnics about 15 miles southeast of Concord, though the drive takes an hour due to the moderate, zig-zagging climb into the hills. We had a great day on a couple of the short trails, scrambling on the interesting sandstone formations and admiring the views from the lookouts. Tamiry helped me find a local geocache near Elephant Rock, an unusual formation with an obvious entomology (though it looks more like a bison to me.)

We finished the day with a nice celebration with just the five of us. I made pasta and clams, and after some negotiation, ended up with one of Whole Foods’ famous Chantilly cakes for the traditional candles, singing, and dessert. Those are some top notch cakes, but I don’t think anything will top the strawberry shortcake we got for her birthday back in Maine two years ago.

While in town Josh took us to his Mom’s house in Oakland for a late lunch along with two of his brothers and their kids; a small portion of the Foster clan’s local extended family. We had great food, a bit of wine, and conversation: I don’t get a lot of opportunities for “sports talk” outside of our Key West winters, so it was cool to have enthusiastic discussions and debate, particularly since this was during the NBA playoffs, with the LA Clippers looking to end their status as NBA perennial post season losers. We also visited the nearby Lake Merritt Saturday open market, a frenetic event that combines the vendors options of a farmers market, the pop up casualness of a swap meet, and the energy of a block party. We loved it.

Since Rosemarie was spending a lot of time and nights with Dolores and Tamiry, I occupied myself with geocaching in Fairfield and a couple of the other towns near Travis. Even without getting into the more esoteric aspects of the hobby, geocaching tends to take you to places you might never have known existed, like the Cold War missile bunkers some of us cached near in the Lower Keys. But if using multi-billion dollar satellite networks to find Tupperware in the woods is not sufficiently interesting to you, the hobby provides many options for increasing the challenge, adventure, and fun. Enjoy puzzles? There is an entire cache type just for that. Into geology, history, or earth sciences? Try doing some Earth Caches.

One of many historical plaques I have run across during geocaching. This one was part of a mystery puzzle cache requiring the use of information on the plaque to solve for the final coordinates.

I have been working on my “Jasmer Challenge,” which involves finding a geocache placed in every month of every year since the hobby started back in 2000. I started casually working on this and my “Difficulty-Terrain Matrix” two years ago in Florida, and now I am in the habit of checking for qualifying caches in each new area we visit. This is what led me to the decades old “Lifesaver” cache near our campground in Sedona, and half a dozen back in the Asheville area. Here in California, I filled in several holes on my Jasmer list during a couple of days of local caching, including one in which I did 23 caches in one day.

A modest hike up to the top of a hill and along the ridge in a county park took me to this cache location.

Though we paid for a complete engine rebuild and installation earlier this year, our drive across the country had made clear that we needed to put some additional work and money into both the 24 year old tow behind vehicle and our 14 year old motorhome. We decided that the rest of the summer we would pay for whatever needed doing on both vehicles, even if it busted the budget for a couple of months, and come fall we would start making up for it, financially.

A hawk on Dori’s roof.

Our eight day stay in Concord allowed the time for a couple of appointments, and in the process of getting the smoky smell from the Geo’s catalytic convertor area looked at, the mechanic pointed out that our shocks were completely dead and rusting through, the rear brakes were overdue for new pads, and one of the front axle components needed replacing. We settled on a critical work plan that accomplished most of his recommendations, though kept a couple off the list so that I could explore my options.

Near the end of our stay Tamiry stayed the night with us in the camper on base, which involved having to find all the parts for and install the rear seat to the Geo Tracker, which had been in deep storage under the RV for two years or more. Honestly, I can’t recall the last time we had it installed. In any case, it was good to find all the parts and do a little maintenance on them as part of the installation process. Tamiry enjoyed staying with us despite so man of the cool things on base (swimming pool, splash pad) being close for COVID.

Yes, it’s an old and very basic car.

This was a fantastic stop. We had the joy of family, a full service and affordable place to stay while there, plenty of things to do in a modern and energetic metropolitan area, and time enough in one place to take care of a few important repairs. Next up, we begin a series of National Park visits on our way north.

77 Months Full Time RVing: May 2021 Report

The Distance: 2,406 miles while traversing the country from Southern Appalachia to Southern California, our biggest travel month in a long time. And since we did not leave North Carolina until the 19th of the month, we did al of that in less than two weeks. This nearly tripled our 2021 total so far, bringing us to 3,758 miles.

Look at that nearly dead straight shot! When we say we are headed west, we mean it.

The Places:  So many places! We finished our slightly more than two month stay at Lake Powhatan, then sprinted across the country with mostly one day stops all the way to Arizona. This included a COE campground (Seven Points in Tennessee,) two Air Force Base Family Camps (Little Rock and Tinker,) and two spots in New Mexico (Blaze-In-Saddles and Red Rock Park.) We then had two “destination” stops at Petrified Forest and Sedona. After that we finished the month with a modest sprint to California, stopping for a night each at two inexpensive sites near I-40 (Route 66 Golden Shores and Arabian Oasis.)

But making such a journey means exchanging the leisurely life of camp hosting in Asheville…

Breaking it down by campground category and services: we stayed 23 nights in public spots (18 national rec area, 1 COE, 1 municipal, and 3 BLM,) 3 in military Family Camps, and 5 in private parks. We had full hook ups for 24 days, partial for 4, and dry camped for 3.

The Money: May was a month of financial contradictions. On the one hand, we received our last 2 1/2 weeks of camp host pay, enjoyed heavily discounted camping fees, and did not have anything break on the motorhome requiring significant expenditure. On the other hand we drove over 2,400 miles (with the associated gas expenditures for our 7 miles per gallon motorhome,) paid a modest sum to the IRS, purchased an eye exam and prescription glasses, made our annual $84 WordPress blog hosting fee, and had a $446 mechanic bill for Loki. That all balanced out to a modest 9.5% over budget.

…for an arduous life on the road.

A few of those points deserve clarification, You would think after the ordeal we went through to replace the entire engine on our Geo Tracker that we would not have anything significant to repair for some time, but this latest bill was for a transmission seal replacement and AC troubleshooting. The WordPress bill increased significantly this year due to our reaching the maximum picture and media storage limit for the cheap plan. You don’t think this level of online literary and photographic entertainment comes without a cost, do you? Rose had not had an eye exam and real prescription glasses in years, for the first time in four years our federal tax bill was more than $2, and we spent $986 on gas just for the motorhome this month.

And also swapping the wet mountain forests…

That is probably a bit more than you cared to know about our monthly finances, but since I have already delved this deep, why not a bit more? Our campground fees for the month averaged just under $14 a day, which is quite good and well under our loosely applied goal of $30 or less. When we first started full timing back in 2015 we aimed for closer to $20, but its been nearly seven years and both inflation and realistic expectations have affected our assumptions. Our campground fee while working at Lake Powhatan was heavily discounted ($450 a month) but we also benefitted from the nearly defunct Air Force Frequent Camper Program (which provided us one night free at Tinker AFB), three nights on the Passport America 50% discount rate, three nights boondocking for free in Sedona, and otherwise quite cheap rates at military, COE, city park, and gift shop parks. That’s about as cheap a month as we can do without settling in for a seasonal rate in one place or cranking up the boondocking ratio. We aren’t for staying in place that long yet, but nor are we living like Nomadland.

…for the deserts of New Mexico and beyond.

The Drama & Improvements: As our time at Lake Powhatan ended, we made preps for an aggressive year of travel. That included the aforementioned eyeglasses and Tracker repairs, but also standard things like oil changes for both the Serenity and Loki, generator checks, storage compartment reorganization inside and out, and the resulting trips to donation centers to drop off all the things found during the reorganization.

Next up: Travis Air Force Base and Concorde, CA.

California! Sequoia National Park and a Shockingly Good Deal on Our COE Campsite

Once we left Asheville we made what is for us an aggressive drive all the way through New Mexico in five legs, with all but one ending in a one night layover. We slowed down in Arizona, spending five days between Petrified Forest and Sedona, but now it was time to pick up the pace again to reach our next destination, Sequoia National Park in Central California. Keen eyed and sharp minded readers might remember our painfully long explanation of our “Texas to California” route planning, and that the final proposal included a stop at The Grand Canon. Yeah, we skipped that. “The Plan” was always just a starting point from which to deviate, and since we have been to the big ditch before, we decided to forego it along this section of our 2021 tour, with the hope of putting it back into the mix later on.

We did not go to Grand Canyon, but we did visit another national park. That makes 32 of the official 63 for us so far.

We started the drive by taking 89A north through Sedona to I-40. This is the road I specifically avoided coming to Sedona due to our bad experience with it back in 2015, but I reasoned that it would be much easier to manage going up hill rather than down, and it was no problem, even pleasant when Rosemarie wasn’t whimpering and clutching the seat rests while looking down the cliff faces along the sharp turns.

We had over 600 miles to go before our Sequoia campground, which meant three modest legs. Three legs meant two stops in route, and since these were going to be one nighters, we wanted them cheap and close to the interstate. We consulted our standard sources: All Stays, Campground Reviews, Passport America, and the newly added Campendium, which is the best of the bunch for boondocking sites. The weather was turning quite hot, and since we were closing in on the Mojave Desert, we decided to forgo boondocking in favor of electricity and air conditioning. Many of the options along our expected stopping point were either pricey or had shaky reviews, but Passport America came through for us again, leading us to Route 66 Golden Shores RV Park just shy of the California border.

Desert flowers in a Boron community park.

Now, I’m not gonna lie: this place has some bad reviews, but a close reading of them suggested that the problems described were not ones we were worried about (awkward dump station, unusable wifi, run down, etc.) We just wanted safe, convenient, cheap, and serviced, The place was nothing to look at, could use some maintenance, and needs some signs to clarify the confusing split-level lay out, but once we located the camp host, we were good to go, getting a 50 amp, full hook up, pull through, level site for $20 (cash only.) It even had a bit of a view from the front. No complaints.

We usually try to get at least few pictures from every place we stay, no matter how short or forgettable, but this is the only one we took at Route 66 Golden Shores RV Park. Not a bad view at all.

We departed the next morning, stopping briefly for a geocache in a field along the dirt road back to the interstate, before continuing west and crossing into Cali. We had topped off all of our tanks (motorhome, car, generator, gas can) before leaving Arizona since the prices are more than a dollar steeper per gallon in The Golden State. To my surprise Passport America again provided our stopping point, this time at Arabian Oasis in Boron. I had expected PA rates to be mostly unavailable in California, but Arabian Oasis, a better maintained and serviced campground than our previous one, gave us a full hook up site for $18. Sweet.

Our perfectly serviceable site at Arabian Oasis.

Our short drive and early arrival allowed us to explore Boron a bit, but only on foot as we tend to leave Loki attached for one night layovers in pull through spots. The town was established after the discovery of a borax deposit nearby (borax, used in detergents, is a compound derived from boron) and now sits near the largest borax mine in the world. Given a few more hours and energy we might have checked out the 20 Mule Team Museum or one of the rock and mineral shops, but this short pass through visit we satisfied ourselves with a stroll and come geocaching.

Retired equipment from the borax mine. Also part of a geocache “earth cache.”

In the morning we made the leisurely three hour drive to Horse Creek Campground, a Corps of Engineers owned place on Lake Kaweah about ten miles from the national park entrance. We had considered several possible campgrounds, but selected this one based on price ($20 a night), availability (plenty of first come first serve sites,) and a recommendation (my dad and stepmom had stayed here a couple of years back in their 5th wheel.) It was all dry camping, which we initially did not worry about since the park is into the mountains and we figured it would be reasonably cool. We were quite wrong: the temps were pushing 100 degrees, and even before checking in we had pretty much decided to make this a one night stop and to seek an electric site the next day.

The view from near our site at Horse Creek.

As it was the office was closed and we could not find a camp host or employee anywhere, but during our search we stumbled across a single sentence on one of the posted forms, practically fine print, that suggested the park had three full hook up spots for rent, and we were parked in front of the two empty ones. Rosemarie found a phone number on one of the RV websites, and a somewhat surprised ranger answered and met us in the office ten minutes later. He confirmed that, due to a shortage of camp hosts, they did indeed have a couple of hook up sites available, though they tend not to advertise them.

One of three sites with power and water at Horse Creek.

The real surprise came after I mentioned I was retired military: after doing whatever it is they do to note that status in the computer, he reported that the system was telling him the site would be free. Perplexed, he called his boss, who lacking contradictory information told him to go with it, both of them apparently thinking that some recent rule changes, perhaps associated with the free national park pass for veterans, had changed things. The bottom line: we got one of three full hook up sites in the entire campground, for four days, and didn’t pay a dime.

Now, the arrival day of any RV visit is often a wash: it’s for setting up your campsite and relaxing after the drive. But even during the next three obligation-free days we only visited Sequoia National Park twice. Did I mention it was hot? Like, super hot? Things cooled off as you actually climb in attitude into the park proper, but we were having a bit of a problem with our tracker, with a very noticeable smell of something burning and a bit of smoke coming off the catalytic converter. It looked like a slow leak from something dropping onto the very hot exhaust system, though we could not be sure it wasn’t the cat itself failing, and with the heat, altitude, and uphill grades, we decided to keep things very limited until we could get Loki checked out.

When we did finally visit the park, the “arboreal transformation” was rather astounding. Ever since turning north off I-40 in Bakersfield I kept noticing the arid conditions, with most of the vegetation rather scrub like and stunted, at least the greenery that wasn’t irrigated fields and orchards . Even after turning inland at Visalia and reaching our lakeside park, the trees all seemed rather anemic. It wasn’t until you got closer to the national park itself that things changed, but they did so dramatically. Within a couple of miles you go from “where are the big trees” to being surrounded by giants, though the true monsters are well into the park boundaries.

The largest tree in the world. My distance from the trunk in this picture diminishes how large the tree appears in person. The base circumference is over 100′!

After clearing the park entrance using our free annual veterans pass acquired back in Arizona, we parked at the information center lot and then caught the park shuttle to the main sights. During most of our first year of full time RVing we did not have a tow vehicle, and thus really appreciated national parks that had shuttle services available. While we have not had to rely on them since buying Loki, we still appreciate having the option, particularly under current “smoky engine” circumstances. The downside is usually that those parks with shuttle services are also the most popular and crowded. During COVID such human density would be “no bueno,” but fortunately with school still in session, few international tourists, and limited general travel, the otherwise popular park was rather sparsely attended.

This made for a simple and and efficient limited tour. We never had to wait for a second shuttle despite each bus allowing fewer riders than capacity, were able to keep spaced out from other tourists, and even the informal lines for pictures in front of the most famous trees were quite short. The trees themselves were rather astounding. We had thought the ones in the Redwood Forest were giants, but these seemed much bigger due to our ground perspective: though the tallest redwoods grow about 100′ more than the tallest sequoia, the latter are much, much wider at the base, thus giving them the distinction of being the larges trees in the world by volume.

Between the heat and concern for our little truck’s smoking, we really minimized our outings during this four days. No restaurants, just one brewery, a bit of grocery shopping at the little town store, some geocaching, and an evening dip or two in the very low water level lake a couple hundred yards from our campsite rounded out the extent of our activities.

Next post: May 2021 Full Time RVing Report, then our visit is to Concord, CA to see Rosemarie’s sister Dolores and niece Tamiry.