Thursday, February 24, 2005

Feb 18 Thru 24 We Are Back

Hello Again. We made it home safely with no problems. (Picture link at the bottom)

When I charged my laptop before leaving on the 18th, I pulled out the phone connection cable and left it on a table. I did not have internet access the whole time I was gone. I will catch you up now.

Feb. 18. We left in the rain. As we were about the leave we had a torrential downpour. We got propane and then gasoline and by the time we were on the road, the rain had stopped and we had a dry drive all the way to Lake San Antonio. (SAL Rally location --SAL = San Antonio Lake). Lake San Antonio is in the low mountains at about 1500 to 2000 feet elevation.

On the last SAL rally we overlooked the lake. This time we could not see the lake, but the campsite was beautiful in its own way. Lots of moss covered trees and green all around.

The weather at SAL was wet all weekend, but we had a recreation room to meet in and had a wonderful time. There were 13 rigs with 35 people including children. at the rally and all showed up Friday.

Feb. 19. Saturday was wet as I said. The rain came and went. SAL is known for its winter bald eagles, so we went on a eagle watch boat trip in the rain. We saw a lot of rain, but no eagles. It was fun in spite of the rain. We saw a very large bird on a distant tree top that we think was an eagle but the ranger guides did not think it was. It was the biggest bird I have seen perched on top of tree.

Saturday evening we had a bring your own meat bar-b-que and pot luck dinner. We should have brought smaller portions of meat. There was so much other delicious food the steak took up need room for sampling everything else.

After dinner we played bingo for white elephant gifts everyone brought. Some were very nice gifts and others were nice but "white elephants" Oh, if you have not heard the term white elephant, it is something you own and no longer want and usually a donation to a sale of some sort.

Feb. 20. Race Day. The Daytona 500 was run today and someone brought a TV and a satellite dish system into the recreation room so we could watch the race. About 3/4 of the way through the race people came into the rec room and started playing "Mexican Train Dominos". Train dominos is a favorite variation of dominos for RVers.

In evening we had a International pot luck dinner. This time no BBQ, just pot luck dishes. The meal was excellent. So much variety and so delicious. One of my favorite things during a rally is the pot luck dinners.

After dinner we played bingo again. This time the prizes were mini candy bars. Everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun.

Feb. 21 was President's Day, a national holiday. It was also the day everyone headed for home. We got up at 7:30 and found one rig had already left for home. As the morning progressed, "See you next time" was said over and over as each rig left. Hugs and hand shakes. You get very close to the people in a rally like this one.

Sharon and I were the next to last to leave. We left about 11:15 and headed over to the coast to see elephant seals and their pups. The ocean was very rough. The wind was blowing and it was cold. On top of that it kept raining. We stayed in the motorhome during the rain and ventured out to see the seals each time it stopped.

We were told by a docent last year that if we were there in February we would see a seal birth. That was wrong. They are born in December and January. Regardless, it was a very interesting site to see all the baby seals on the beach. They are fairly big and fat as can be. They have the most beautiful eyes. The babies make a tremendous amount of noise. They are crying for their moms, arguing with each other and just making noise to make noise it seemed.

Most of the females have left the beach already and left their pups behind. The pups are fat and will live off of that fat. They cannot swim yet. About March they begin to get hungry and venture out into the water and teach themselves to swim in the shallows. When the gain experience they too will take off.

The males fight quite a bit, with the stronger, more intimidating males driving their rivals away from the females. The male elephant seals stick around until the last female is gone. They try to keep the females their on the beach by herding them back when the females try to leave. We were told the males have not eaten in about 3 months and have lost a lot of weight.

Monday night we dry camped at an RV parking spot north of the seals. It was $15 for a spot on a low cliff overlooking the ocean. We could hear the waves and the noise of the seals in the distance. There is a motel there that takes your money. Piedras Balances or white cliffs is the area name and what the sign on the motel says.

Feb. 22. We got up at 6:30 and had a light breakfast. After we got everything put away, we headed back down to coast to watch the elephant seals again. This day was a lot nicer. No rain and the wind had died down. Today we learned that they are losing a lot of baby seals to the weather. The storms we are having here in California are creating higher than normal tides and the tide is washing babies out to sea. Since the babies can not swim, they drown. The docent we talked with was worried about how many pups would make it this year.

After watching the seals for a while, we slowly headed on down the coast. There are more, but fewer elephant seals for a few miles farther south. We parked at one spot next to a fence field where a large male was right up next to the fence. Just lazing in the sun and not caring if people were there or not.

We headed on south to Pismo Beach to see the Monarch butterflies that winter there. It was still raining when we got there. The rain would come and go. We picked a nice campsite next to a duck pond.

After we got settled, we took a walk looking for Monarchs. We saw some but not a lot. Later in the day we walked down to the butterfly grove, which is a forest of large eucalyptus trees. There we saw more Monarchs, but still not really that many.

I was standing outside out coach after the butterfly walk and the camp host told me that it was possible that if the rains continued and got heavier that the park could flood. There is a run off channel that overflows. The camp host has had to evacuate from the park twice this season. He said it does do damage to RVs when it gets about two feet deep.

Sharon and I decided to take the offer to move to another state campground about two miles away. No additional fee. Actually we were glad we did. We thought the new place was prettier than the last.

Feb. 23. We woke up to blue skies and sunshine today. The first clear day since we started our trip. We have had fun the whole trip regardless of the weather, but it is nice to see the sun again.

This campground has a lagoon with ducks, geese and coots. Our walk around the lagoon was relaxing and fun. They have benches placed frequently around the lagoon. It is nice to sit and and just relax.

Both of these local campgrounds are right next to the beach. The walk to the beach was a little farther at this one, but a very beautiful walk through pine and eucalyptus trees, through the dunes and onto the beach.

The beach is one you can drive on. It was the first time I have ever seen a speed limit posted on a beach, 15 MPH. It was much warmer today and more comfortable walking along the water's edge.

On the walk back from the beach, we started seeing more and more Monarch butterflies. There were not hundreds in one place as I had pictured in my mind, but there we two here and four there and more over there. They were flying around from tree to tree and flower to flower. I guess they like to winter here due to the flowering trees that are in bloom this time of year.

We left the campground about 10 o'clock and headed for home. We stopped for lunch at a pullout overlooking the ocean and the Santa Barbara Channel. The view was clear and we could see the offshore islands and the oil platforms in the channel.

As we drove on home we encountered a couple short sprinkles on the windshield, but not enough to get the road wet. I do not mind driving in the rain. What I really do not like about driving in the rain is all the other drivers who can not slow down and are the cause of so many accidents every time it rains. When we left SAL, and were driving down the two lane mountain grade down to the coast, we had rain harder than any I can remember in a long time. Because the traffic was very light and almost none going our direction, the driving was a pleasure, even in the rain.

We got back to our home city about 1:30 p.m. and headed to Costco for gasoline. It took 70 gallons. Our trip mileage is still 4 MPG even after a tune up. I drive about 60 most of the time and 65 in traffic when it is "pushing" me along.

After gassing up, we went into Costco and bought a few things. We got a hand held digital thermometer. One of those you aim at a surface and it tell you the temperature. They say they are good for checking your RV tires. All tires should be about the same temperature. If one is hot, you have a problem. A hot tire could mean a failure in the near future. It is often an indication you are under inflated.

We also got a set of 8 battery powered, rechargeable LED patio lights that look like little lanterns. This is our first set of patio lights for the RV.

As we left, we could not pass the Very Berry Sundaes by so we each got on and took them to the motorhome to eat. Since it was early and the business next to us was still working, we decided to sit in the Costco parking lot and read until about 4:15. This way the business would be closed and their trucks would be out of the way. It would be easier to park the motorhome out behind our warehouse.

Feb. 24. Well, it is back to our mundane work life. Time to make a living so we can enjoy more trips out in the motorhome. This 5 1/2 day trip cost $403 for camping fees and gas. Gasoline was the major expense. As I said we get 4 MPG. We do not include food in the cost since we eat wherever we are. This trip would have been almost as much if it had only been a two day weekend since fuel is the major expense. It pays to extend a trip longer if you can, so you get a mini vacation and bang for you buck.

I have things to ship today. While we were gone some eBay auctions closed with a sale.

OH, I almost forgot. The PVC T's we put on our vent pipes worked great. This is the first time we have traveled in the motorhome and did not have sewer smells inside the coach. Normally the pressure while driving forces air down the vent pipes and forces smelly air into the coach. The T's acted like vacuums and sucked air out of the vent pipes and kept the smell completely out of the coach.

While we were gone UPS delivered our truck braking system. They left it at the business next door. We bought a Unified Tow Brake for our toad. This one is installed out of sight and does not have to be removed each time you drive the toad. I still have to get the base plate or brackets that mount on the front of our truck and the hitch itself. One step at at time.

To see our pictures click on this link: Pictures


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