I Found It!

 Posted by at 7:00 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 052010

Every fulltime RVer gets asked one question from almost everybody they meet – “What’s your favorite place in the country to visit?’ I always tell people that I don’t have just one favorite. That’s like asking me which one of my kids I love the most. It’s impossible to choose just one.

But I always tell folks that I can tell the one place I don’t like the most – the Rio Grande Valley in Texas! We know a lot of snowbirds who just love the place, and that’s fine for them, but one short visit a couple of years ago convinced us that we never need to go back.

Well, guess what? I’ve found a place I don’t like even more than I don’t like the Valley. That would be most of California between San Diego and San Francisco, with the exception of the area around Morro Bay.

Just like the Valley, I know that there are a lot of people who like this place. There must be, because there sure are a lot of them living here! But it’s just not our cup of tea. Prices are high, the stores are always crowded, traffic seems frantic all the time, and too many drivers have a kamikaze attitude.

I don’t mean to offend our friends from California, but I don’t  think we’ll be in any hurry to return. But that’s the beauty of the RV lifestyle. Everybody can find places they want to spend their time, and not go to places they don’t care for. It would get pretty crowded if we all wanted to go to the sames places, wouldn’t it?

We were getting to the point where we either needed to check into a nudist park, or get some washing done. I was all for the skin and sun option, but Miss Terry is more conservative, so yesterday we found an open coin-op and did a couple of weeks’ backlog of laundry. We also had dinner at Applebee’s and stopped at Kohl’s so Terry could buy some shoes for her son’s upcoming wedding.

There are eight RV sites here at the Gilroy Elks lodge, and when we arrived late Saturday afternoon, the place was almost full. By the time we got back from running around Sunday evening, it was almost empty.

We have decided to cut our California visit short, and instead spend a few days in Salt Lake City, Utah so I can do some genealogy research at the LDS Church Family History Center. We are not Mormons, but anybody can use their facilities and resources to trace their family tree. The collection includes over 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records; 727,000 microfiche; 356,000 books, serials, and other formats; over 4,500 periodicals; and 3,725 electronic resources. Their database contains more than 36 million names that are linked into families, as well as the names of over 600 million deceased people. There must be somebody I’m related to in all of that! I’m not sure where we’ll stay in Salt Lake City yet, as there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of options when it comes to RV parks.

The roads are sure to be busy today with everybody going back home from their long holiday weekend, so we’ll sit tight until Tuesday and then head out. We’re ready to put California in our rear view mirror.

Thought For The Day – Regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, passion fades, and there had better be a lot of money to take its place.

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Nick Russell

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  21 Responses to “I Found It!”

  1. Since Peter and I love genealogy we know you are going to love the FHL at SLC. A couple of suggestions: be ready with your info, take your computer and memory stick (thumb drive) with you, go into the library on the first floor and watch the short video they have first. Parking downtown is not bad. There is a very large lot west of the FHL for $3 a day. There is a smaller lot north of the FHL for $5 or $6 a day. I would drop Peter off at the door of the library with all our stuff and then go the the parking lot with the car ($3 one) and walk back. Then do it in reverse at the end of the day. The FHL is open 6 days a week. Monday only till 5 or 6 pm (can’t remember). All other days open til 9 pm. We usually got in by 9 am and left at around 5pm. After 6 days of that we were pretty tired.
    The FHL has THE state of the art machines. You can now copy from the microfilm directly onto your memory stick no charge. Otherwise if you want paper copies, you get a card from the machine, feed money into it for credit and then use the card to make copies, 5 cent each. They aim to please. While we are not Mormons either they are super helpful there. You will find lots of help. Just ask. It’s 5 floors of heaven for genealogists.
    There are several places to stay. The VIP/KOA is closest, 14 blocks away. The Pony Express is a little farther out, north and west of the center of town. BUT we paid $244 per week to stay. And you need to stay at least a week to get any stuff done at the FHL as there is so much information. There is an Elk’s lodge in Bountiful. We stayed there once but the parking spots are right next to the highway and we didn’t like leaving the coach all day that close to lots of people walking by. But you might want to check it out.
    Where to eat. They have machines on the first floor but ick. You can leave you stuff in a locker (10 cents) and ask at the front desk on the first floor. They will give you a card and instructions on how to find the cafeteria on the first floor down in the main administration building. It’s a short walk east around the cathedral and the south side and up by the big reflecting pool and then by the big fountains is the tall admin building. This is where the employees eat and the prices are superb. We had lunch there most days and you can get almost anything for around $5-6 a person. Check out the special of the day. It’s a beautiful walk to the cafeteria. I love fountains and flowers and this is very well kept up by the Mormons as this is the center of their religion. You can’t go in the cathedral but you can go to practice of the choir if you are interested. Ask for times. And you can always see the brides and grooms getting their pictures taken around the reflecting pool and flowers each and every day. Just nice.
    Any questions, just e-mail me and I will be happy to answer. We just spent 3 weeks there this year and have another trip planned next year.

  2. Wow, Connie. Your information is great. It was like reading a blog within a blog. Whether Nick uses your directions or not a bet a few of his readers are now thinking of ways to swing past SLC and do some research. Thanks so much for sharing with all of us.

  3. I hope someday you will have time to return to visit the “other” California: the north! Lassen National Park, beautiful Mt. Shasta, the huge coastal redwoods and the deserted beaches.

    To the east of where you are, you missed winding Hwy 395 and the interesting little towns along the way. Tiny Lone Pine with it’s wonderful movie museum highlighting all the westerns (movies and TV serials) made there in the Alabama Hills (great boondocking). Lee Vining and Mono Lake. The well preserved ghost town of Bodie. The fabulous vistas of the Sierra to the west and the Owens Valley to the east, along with the fascinating history of the area’s water wars. Manzanar (Japanese Internment Camp) with it’s new interpretive center.

    The area you have just visited represents California as well as the Rio Grande Valley represents Texas, or Detroit represents Michigan. Such a shame to miss so much of the beauty of the west coast.

    But, like you say – that’s what is great about having wheels!

    Safe travels,

  4. Nick, it is a ways south, but you could check out Quail Run campground in Sandy, UT. Not too expensive and very nice.

    JB’s restaurant was on the immediate west side of Temple Square, and they have a breakfast buffet to die for, very reasonable. Ask for the senior discount also.

    Be sure and visit the SLC downtown public library while there. It is beautiful! Also the hotel?/office building? the church took over and restored, a little ways east on the main street. Just walk thru the lobby and take the elevator to the top floor and look around. It is beautiful. There is a restaurant on the top floor.

    This all from 2007, so…

    We’re not Mormon either, but I have to say, they have turned many parts of Utah into little Gardens of Eden. There are some beautiful small towns around the state. Not to mention the national parks!

    Have a nice visit. I know you will enjoy it.

  5. I couldn’t agree more! I was raised in Oklahoma but the family moved to Ca. my senior year. I spent the next 40 years in Orange County. It’s turned into quite a zoo. Overcrowded and a hectic pace of life.
    I didn’t realize the pace or the pressure until I moved back to Oklahoma 8 years ago. It took a while to calm down and relax.
    You couldn’t drag me back into California.

  6. I was just reminded that a great place to stay on the way north to SLC is Beaver, Utah. Beaver is just off of I-15, a nice day’s drive (200 miles) from SLC. We stop there at the Passport America Park, Beaver Canyon RV ($12 Passport). They only have 6 sites for travelers so it’s wise to check ahead. There is a Mexican restaurant on site run by Maria, the owner’s wife. We always have dinner there when we stay. YUMMY! There is also a nice drive up in to the mountains if you head east on the same road as the CG, U153 (East Canyon Road).
    We also are not fans of certain parts of CA. We just don’t like big cities and crowds. But as others have said northern CA is pretty and going along 395 is great. If we have to travel from south to north (Oregon), we usually go over to 395 rather than go I-5. It’s longer and not so fast but much less crowded and much prettier.

  7. We agree 100% with you and your dislike fo California. After living there for over 20 years after we retired from the AF we did not know just how bad things were. The state is over crowded, expensive and so on. The hectic pace to hurry up and get there is awful. There are beautiful areas of both Southern and Northern parts of the state. I have to admit the further north you go the better it gets as far as scenery. We love the Ocean and the Redwoods. We are both from San Diego and we would not go back to that area is someone gave us a million dollars. The entire area is now known as Tj of the north,

  8. Another place to stay near on the way is Willard State Park….

  9. Mixed feelings about California. We have a daughter living near San Jose, so we have a draw to that area, but the Central Valley is the pits. We usually drive 101, stop at Elks Lodges in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, and unfortunately the TTN at Morgan Hill.

  10. On your way to SLC check out http://www.holysmokebbq.com In Layton, UT. a little ways South of Ogdon, If you like good potato salad try Grandma Rosie’s while there. They also have some award-winning ribs and BBQ sandwiches. Right off I-15.

    So far we are still stuck living in the high desert of CA. But we sure agree with you about the problems in this state. Though we will probably never go full-time, we really enjoy spending half the year in the “Republic of Arizona”

  11. I was born and raised in California, moved to Oregon in 1989 and never wanted to go back. Too damn many people. I make a wide birth when heading south just to avoid the made house.

  12. SLC is a great place to visit. We were broke down there for a week in 2003 waiting for a diagnosis and parts for the coach. Do not miss the Tabernacle Choir rehearsal or the Sunday performance–the singing will put chills up and down your spine. All visitors were invited to sing along with the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” —awesome!!! Find time to visit the state capitol building. It is a marvelous work of architecture and beauty. We were given a private tour by a docent that was very appreciative of having people genuinely interested in the building. Temple Square is beautiful and the people are genuinely friendly. You will not have a hard time spending a week or more in SLC. We stayed at the KOA–OK but typically expensive but so close to everything that it was worth it. Have a great stay.

  13. Nick, you don’t have to go to SLC to access their records. My friend visited the Mormon Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she lives, and took a short class and did her whole geneology search right there. She searched back to the l700s.
    We seem to get more tolerant as we get older so I don’t hate RGV or CA. We just go to the places we enjoy and ignore the rest.

  14. Over many years, I have done genealogical research at several places throughout the country — including the family library in SLC. Staring into the microfiche viewer can be stressful and hard on the eyes. Need to sit back now and then and look at the rest of the auditorium sized room with microfiche viewers as far as the eye can see. At one point I was leaning back when the gentleman at the next viewer leaned back at the same time. I made the comment that I felt that this 1850 ancestor did not want to be found. The gentleman responded that “witness protection programs are not new to this century”. That could explain lots of dead ends in my family tree. 🙂

  15. First, a joke which I heard on the Garrison Keillor show. An Oregonian was told by his doctor that he had only one day to live. When asked what he would do with his last day, he replied “I shall go to Southern California, where every day seems like an eternity”.

    I heartily agree with Laurie about the beauties of northern California, and especially about Rt 395 on the eastern side of the Sierras. All the stuff she said about the Lone Pine area is right on, and the drive North past Mono Lake and “over the hump” to Nevada is breathtaking.

    If you want delightful people, spend some time in the midwest. Even the teenageres are polite in Iowa. We also like the Dakotas and Minnessota, in the summer. We like the Rockport, TX area in winter, but elected to buy a winter residence in Jupiter, FL because it is closer to the grandchildren in the northeast. Wherever you travel on your eastbound journey, we wish you the best. I look forward to meeting you in Elkhart.

  16. If you get to the Fort Wayne, In area stop at the Allen County Library. I have had people tell me that next to the Slc they are the next best. It is fairly new. We have a campground on the north side of town. City owned. Johhny Appleseed. Water and electric great shower house and laudry with a dump station..

  17. You could stay on Antelope Island, but be prepared to wash your coach. Salt is bad.

    Connie, thanks for all the great info.

  18. I agree with you Nick the Rio Grande is a place I will never go back to either. I am heading to California and I guess I will find out if I like California or not. Either way I won’t be out west again probably just too far to drive alone.

  19. Hey Nick, If you’re heading towards SD, stop by Hart Ranch.

  20. Nick,
    We stayed at the Pony Express in SLC. The site they gave us was too short too short for our 30 foot fifth wheel. They gave us a larger spot and there was no where to park our truck. We were suppose to share a spot with someone else who parked in the middle. The hook ups were located up front and ours are on the back.

    You probably have already been to Park City to see the Olympic site tour. Well worth the short drive from Salt Lake City.

  21. I love California! But not all of it. My navy family moved to San Diego in 1964 and I watched it grow but it has never become the big, ugly mess called LA. When we head north we go inland to get around LA. I find Elaine’s comment “…Tj of the north” insulting and I have never heard it before. We embrace the Mexican heritage of the area and there is no better Mexican food I’ve ever tasted.

    San Diego county should not be lumped into the LA mess. We are special and unique with beautiful ocean beaches, mountains, desert and lakes. And of course near perfect weather year round. Some of the beach areas and major freeways are crowded especially on the holiday weekends.

    We have a lease site at Pio Pico. I have been reading a lot of negative stuff about other TTN parks on the yahoo site. Pio Pico is still a nice park, fully staffed and well maintained. The trick is to get a good cell signal. I use 2 signal boosters and 3 wilson antennas and do fine at the south end of the park. The Oakzanita Park in the mountains is a great place to stay and visit Julian and Cuyamaca Lake.

    We have been traveling and recently spent a night at the TT Kenisee Lake Preserve in Ohio on July 3rd. It is a very nice looking, well maintained park with roomy sites and we saw no ill-behaved campers. I was pleasantly surprised. I have never seen out of control campers at Pio Pico either. I usually just stay inside or visit people while the holiday crowd is there. Too bad about your experience at Morgan Hill. We would have left too.

    By the way because we love California we have remained residents and pay taxes and registration as opposed to RVers who love California and lived there for years but became residents of other states when they retired. They now live in their RVs and spend most of the year in California.

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