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A new year, a new trailer, a new trip

The Jester

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Happy New Year to one and all.  


After putting around 90,000 miles on our first trailer (we bought it in April 2015) we decided to replace it with a new one - same model (Aliner Expedition) but with a few extras.  Instead of a sofa/bed combo it has a queen mattress on a lift platform (so you can tip it up and get to storage underneath).  Instead of an AC unit hanging off the driver's side (interfering with sight lines in the tow mirror) it has a heat pump under the bed.  In front there is a dormer over the table giving more headroom.  The rest is pretty much the same - small pantry, chemical toilet, 3cf refrigerator, two burner stove, microwave, sink, and furnace.


We spent a some time doing some modifications to it - things we'd added/changed in the old unit - working until a couple of days ago (the snow and cold temps took out a week or so - who wants to work in an unheated garage in those conditions?), cutting it a bit fine.  Things like replacing the cushions in the dining area (it was designed to convert to single bed) with boat chairs - a better fit for our old bodies.  Adding an outlet (110 plus USB ports) up front for use with the toaster oven or our little waffle irons.  Installing a slide out unit under the sink to hold the pots & pan (if you stack them, what's on the bottom - the frying pan.  What do you use the most - the frying pan) and other stuff.  Made modifications under the bed to get as much storage options as possible.  We have one other thing we need, but the parts didn't arrive from the dealer in time - the lifters on the bed platform aren't strong enough to hold up mattress and the topper we like (again for these old bodies) - now we get to play "package chase" to see if Cathy's sister can get the package and forward it to an address before we are beyond there (shouldn't be too hard we are bouncing back and forth along the Gulf as discussed below).


We spent Friday and Saturday packing all the stuff from the old trailer (I really didn't realize how much we carried in the trailer) into similar and new 'holes' in the new.  We've added a few more 'toys' in this last year.  One is a inflatable kayak, another is Yeti Powerbank to power the trailer if we're off grid (plus a solar panel to recharge it).  We used both on our last trip in Sept/Oct.  We were at a rally (near Santa Fe) in a campground without power or water for three days.  With pretty heavy shade (only a couple of hours a day with good sun on the panel) and using the microwave only to heat a cup of water occasionally, we found we used about 10% of the battery per day and 'recovered' 2-3% from the solar panel (overall we still had 75% left at the end of the rally).  And outside of St George UT we found a nice lake (with a cache on an island, of course) to go paddling for a few hours in the kayak.  Also this trailer comes with an outside grill - which required some finagling to fit into car with the clothing, powerbank, kayak, and misc. foodstuff.


But we got it all done and left home this morning at 8:45 to attend church before hitting the road.  Whew!  We're on our way to Florida (via the west coast to avoid nasty weather) for a Caribbean cruise for the last half of the month.  Then back along the Gulf to Yuma AZ for a couple weeks for both the Mega and a square dance festival.  Then back east along the Gulf to Louisiana for a week long Aliner Trailer rally for Mardi Gras, then we start working our way back home - visiting various relatives along the way.  We made it to Eugene OR tonight, tomorrow will be somewhere in mid-CA.  We have a little extra time build into the schedule for sights we might come across, problems encountered, and caches that catch our eye.

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Day two.  We're still are making small modifications - sometimes to modifications we've made already.  Adding the boat chairs raised the seat level and so had to raise the table, which is a work in progress.  We have to add blocks under the legs, and they aren't as stable as I thought they'd be.  A full redesign will have to wait until we get home, but I can add a couple of screws to stabilize things.


Our first night was quite comfortable - even as we played with the heat pump & furnace to balance the temp.  The new stove has electric igniters so no more matches or fire starters.  It seems a little smaller, as the fry pan overlaps the second burner.  But we still got dinner cooked.  It had been clear during the day, but early morning we had some rain.   I almost got a bath when we closed the front dormer - a fair amount of water was pooled there and the cascade just missed me as we folded it.  


The rain stopped mid-morning and the weather cleared as we approached the California border.  We tried for three caches and found one.  I found out the GSAK macro didn't go right loading the Nuvi at home.  Mid day we stopped at a rest area a nd tried to reload from the laptop - but the macro settings weren't right, so put off getting it right until camp.  We made it to Redding CA, went out to dinner at the Black Bear Diner (wonderful food, we've been to several over the years) and then out to see "Sing 2".  I've got the setting corrected so the Nuvi now has the caches loaded.  We have three GPSr's on the front window - two hand-helds (our 'targeting' computers) and the Nuvi (our 'navigation' computer).


We'll be somewhere down by Bakersfield CA tomorrow night - depending on when we leave camp in the  morning, how many caches we try for (we're not out for numbers on this leg of the trip), and any shopping we do.  We're still on track to get on the Cruise on the 18th in Tampa.



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Day Three.  Another pretty nice day - until the end (see below).  The weather was dry and pleasant, mostly sunny.  We took off a little earlier than yesterday and headed down I-5.  We had much better luck with caches today, we found all we were tried for.  We didn't quite make it as far as Bakersfield, we're about an hour northwest near Coalinga.


I had a brainstorm on how to redesign the table legs - so easy and stable - instead of adding blocks to the end of the legs, add the material to the underside of the table and mount the legs to that.  


Now to the big news.  We are turning around and heading home.  We just found out the cruise has been cancelled - bummer.  Since we are so close to home and don't have any idea(s) what to do to fill the now extra time, we figure to go home, do a couple of more mods on the trailer and later head back down to Yuma and do the rest of the planned route.  We'll take our time, do some 'heavier' caching, check out a few more covered bridges in OR and such.  


Well, like they say "the best laid plans of mice an men often go awry".


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Day Three.  The day started a little foggy/smoggy, but turned into a nice day.  Instead of heading back up I-5 we head east to connect to 99 near Fresno.  We tried one WIG on the way, but the final was missing - otherwise a nice walk and interesting stops.  Just south of Fresno we did a couple of virtuals.  One had a plane on the roof of a gas station, sounds different but more-or-less normal until you see the plane:



When we got to Fresno we saw a Sizzler's and stopped for an early dinner/late lunch.  Then we headed north and got as far as Merced and stopped at a little RV camp on the north side of town.  The wifi was crappy, so I wasn't able to post this last night.  


Day four.  We headed north to Modesto for a Weight Watcher's meeting, breakfast/lunch and a couple of Challenge caches.  We continued north, picking up a couple of more caches as the mood struck (or the bodies wanted out of the car).  We made it to Corning CA and stopped at a RV park across the way from the Olive Pit, a store/cafe featuring ... wait for it ... Olives!  Coring does claim to be the Olive Capital, after all.

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Day five.  Not a whole lot to see along the I-5 corridor.  Mt. Shasta is pretty nice and today's weather allowed us to see it well and often.  Mostly we just drove and stopped for caches when they were available (I only grab high Fav caches for the database, just to limit the number), there are a few long stretches where there weren't any. 


Once we got to Oregon, we swung off I-5 to see a covered bridge SW of Medford (McKee Bridge).  It Oregon's oldest that is still in it's original spot.  Then up to a RV park a few miles north of Medford.  That allowed us to go into town this evening and see a movie (The King's Man).  It's getting pretty chilly (Cathy says COLD) tonight (low 30s) - just what we were trying to avoid with this trip.  If we pushed we could be home tomorrow, but we'll probably stop at a couple of other covered bridges (there's around 50 in Oregon) plus caches.

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Day Six.  We drove to three different covered bridges (Wimer, Milo Acadamy, Cavitt Creek) but along the way we found another covered bridge for pedestrians (with a cache!).  These were all a ways off the I-5 corridor, so we only made it Eugene that night.


Day Seven.  We did a loop east from Eugene to see a couple of more covered bridges (Earnest & Crawfordville - but missed one just couple of miles off our route).  Then we stopped near Portland for dinner.  And home around 7pm.


We've spent the last week doing some more 'tweaks' to the trailer.  We got the new lifters for the bed (so we didn't need to do 'chase the package' around the country) and installed them.  I did a complete redesign of the table to raise it a couple inches.  The 'feet' that I tried didn't work all that well (I'm glad we didn't have to fight them the whole trip), so I built a box the right depth to mount under the table and mounted the table legs to that.  We also added a small, removable extension to Cathy's side of the table so it's not a long reach for either of us.  We had to pull out the microwave to replace a couple of screws to keep it in place - it would twist and 'sink' into it cubby making it hard to open the door (which in it self was twisting the unit).  And few other very minor things.  It all took time and I finally competed the tasks last night, so this weekend we'll just start restocking and reloading the trailer so we can leave Monday (possible Tuesday - the route isn't fixed yet...) for the drive to Yuma where we'll pick up the vacation as planned.


A drinking fountain in the park by the pedestrian bridge:



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Take two


Jan 24, Day one.  And so we got our selves packed up and headed back on the road to pick up and complete the rest of the planned trip.  The day started very foggy and chilly, and didn't clear up until late afternoon.  We have plenty of time to get to Yuma so we took some back roads to get to Centralia (down thru Roy).  Once we reached Oregon we headed east to see Multnomah Falls.  We passed a number small falls and a couple of big ones (Bridal Veil & Horsetail).  It turns out the parking lot next to the lodge has no room for RV's so we had to go a few miles up old Hwy 30 and back down I-84 to the parking lot between the lanes (much bigger) and then walked over to view the falls.  Afterwards we headed back to Troutdale to find an RV camp and met up with a square dance friend of Cathy for dinner.  We hung out in the trailer getting caught up and solving the world's problems.  Being at the end of the Columbia Gorge the wind was pretty strong and it was getting pretty chilly.  But a nice snug trailer kept us warm - except when we had to walk across to the bathrooms.


Day two.  The wind was still with us so we packed and moved out right after breakfast.  We spent the day wandering around on the east side of I-5 between Portland and Albany, seeing Covered Bridges.  In between a couple we had to stop by a Camping World to replace one of the tow mirrors, which had gotten broken riding in the back of the car during our time home.  We found 5 bridges today (Cedar Crossing, Jordan, Hannah, Gilkey, and Weddle) and missed one by mis-reading the map.  We ended up in a KOA near Corvallis/Albany.  We didn't consider how the clear weather would mean a cold night - at least until the next morning.


Day three.  We woke to temps in the 20's and frozen hoses (both water supply and drain).  The supply hose we screwed the ends together and brought in by the furnace to thaw.  The drain hose went in the sink (connections don't match to connect together) with heated water (we have an eleven gallon tank in the trailer) to thaw.  A little heated (but not hot) water we poured over the faucet head to thaw that ice.  In a pretty short time we had things back to normal (for the RV life).  After breakfast we headed to Corvallis for a covered bridge on the University campus (Irish Bend).  This required a walk thru the chilly fog of about 6/10ths of mile, but with the right clothes it wasn't so bad.  Then down the back way into Eugene (we're trying to avoid I-5 when we can, since we just drove it).  We did a loop east of Eugene for three bridges (Pengra, Unity, Parvin), down to Cottage Grove for a short loop east of town for more bridges (Currin, Mosby Creek, Stewart) and farther south to Drain (on the west side of I-5) for Pass Creek bridge.  Then we headed for a RV camp outside of Medford we've used before.  On the way we checked and found a Weight Watcher meeting we thought we could make that evening (we made it with 10 minutes to spare), driving straight there and going to the camp afterward.  Since this was putting us late into the evening we had dinner in town and gassed the car before setting up in the dark (no big deal, after do this for a total of a year & a third).  We checked the weather and skipped doing the water connection since we wouldn't need water tonight.  


Day four.  We woke to colder temps then predicted (25 instead of the 30-31 expected).  When I went to connect the water for breakfast and dish washing, the faucet head was frozen, so back to onboard water for breakfast.  Afterwards, we check the faucet and it had thawed in the sun, so we used it for clean-up.  After breaking camp, we drove up the Rogue River to see a couple of 'falls' - more like big rapids/cascades.  Pretty interesting - it would be fun to see the rafters run them, even more fun to be in the raft!  Then headed east of Medford for the last two covered bridges (Antelope Creek, Lost Creek) for this part of the trip (we might try for some the bridges on the west side of I-5 on the way home as we drive up the coast).  We then headed down to Redding for the night.  It took us four days to go as far as we did in two days on the first try of this trip.  When we got to camp about 4:30 it was 73 degrees, now at 9pm it's 55 degrees - much better than the sub-freezing we've seen the last couple of nights.


Here's Mount Shasta today:


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On 1/27/2022 at 9:11 PM, The Jester said:

Here's Mount Shasta on the 10th:P1101776.thumb.JPG.e6e9858ebe62b1423b0028bfd76340cf.JPG


It's lost a lot of snow in the last 2 1/2 weeks.

It's really scary about Mt Shasta.


I heard that Mt Shasta was the first mountain in the US that glaciers were discovered on. Last year they totally melted for the first time. The mountain was totally bare last year. It was really scary. I drove by it and it was just shocking.


I know someone who does not believe the scientists about climate change. I told her to go on a road trip with me. That's all you need to do to see the evidence yourself. Mt Shasta is a scary example of that.

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