A Four Hour Day

 Posted by at 12:06 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 012011

Yesterday was an easy traveling day for us, just four hours. We hardly had time to get our Cummins diesel engine warmed up!

As I wrote in yesterday’s blog, I wasn’t sure where we were headed, either to the Lake Minden NACO campground a little north of Sacramento, or the Russian River NACO, near Cloverdale. I went to the Thousand Trails Yahoo group to ask about Verizon service in both places, and was told that while coverage is good at Lake Minden, it can be problematic at Russian River, even with a Wilson Trucker antenna and a Wilson signal amplifier. I have several projects going on that require a reliable internet connection, so we opted for Lake Minden. Besides, Greg and Jan White  were headed there, and who knows, I might break something along the way? (As it turns out, I did.)

We pulled out of the Escapees Park of the Sierras about 10:30 a.m., drove a few miles south on State Route 41 to State Route 145, which we took west to Madera, to hook up with State Route 99. State Route 99 is a good divided highway, and we rolled north, passing through Merced, Turlock, and Modesto. At Ripon, we stopped at the Flying J for fuel, paying $4.07 for diesel after our discount. That was twelve cents a gallon less than we paid in Las Vegas two weeks ago! 🙂

It started to rain somewhere around Sacramento, but not hard enough to be a problem. I turned off our exhaust brake, because safety experts say not to use it on wet roads. But I sure missed the extra braking power in Sacramento! Traffic was very busy, as it has been every time we have ever driven through the city, but we managed to get out the other side in one piece, in spite of the best efforts of a lot of drivers who apparently never got the memo about using turn signals and not cutting in front of big rigs with inches to spare.

Eventually, we arrived at the NACO campground at about 2:45 p.m.  The entry is a reverse left, and there was a car at the guard shack, and while Greg was able to pull in, the corner of his toad was sticking out in the road. There was no room for us, so we sat in the road, and the conversation between the person in the car and the gate guard went on, and on. And on! I have no idea what was so important that they couldn’t have told the person in the car to move clear of the entry so our two motorhomes, and one more that pulled in behind us, could get off the road, but apparently it was a matter of national security or something. Finally another ranger showed up, and she came out to our motorhomes in the rain, gave us our parking passes, and they opened the gate so we could get in. The car was still there, and the very important conversation was still going on, but we managed to squeeze past.

The campground is arranged around a small body of water called Lake Minden, and we got sites side by side, facing the water. I always tease Greg when we stop someplace, because he has a portable satellite TV dish, and we have an automatic Winegard Trav’ler rooftop dish. So while Greg is outside aiming his dish, I simply push a button, and mine locks onto a signal. Usually. This time around, there was a tree blocking the signal, and the dish just turned and turned, and finally it gave up and stowed itself. We had to pull in our slide rooms, raise our leveling jacks,and back up two or three feet, then lower the jacks, run out the slide rooms, and then I pushed the button again, the dish deployed, and we were able to get a signal. You can bet that Greg got a lot of payback jabs at me over that! 🙂

Greg and I thought that we had solved the problem with our black tank valve, but we were wrong, and if anything, it is getting worse. We are going to check with Camping World in Sacramento to see if they have a replacement valve. It is not the standard dump valve most RVs uses, with a T-handle to open it; this one is located under the sewer bay, and has a cable that connects the handle with the valve itself. It looks like it could be a real nightmare to get to.     

Thunderstorms are predicted today, but if we get a break in the weather, we may throw our Sea Eagle kayaks in the water and do some paddling. There are supposed to be a lot of fish in the lake too. I wonder where my rod and reel are?

We’ll only be here two or three nights, then we’re going to continue on to the Oregon coast. It feels good to be on the move again, and we didn’t really scratch our hitch itch yesterday.

Thought For The Day – Most people are just about as happy or sad as they make up their minds to be.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  11 Responses to “A Four Hour Day”

  1. We purchased a Winegard Carryaround a few months ago and absolutely love it because you can put it up to 50 feet from the rig and it is automatic. We had never carried a dish because of the difficulty of finding signal. We would not have to move either because we can just move the dome.

  2. Just finished reading Big Lake. It is my first book read on my new Kindle. Enjoyed the book very much. Had me guessing for sure. GREAT job Nick!

  3. Hope that you can get you canoes wet, and yes there are a lot of fish in the Lake. Last time we were there they had a problem with a flock of Pelicans staying on the lake. They ate a lot of the fish. It was quite a site to see, it was a first for the park. They stayed around for about a week. No one could figure out why they were so far from the ocean. Be safe and have a great time.

  4. Did you know that diesel is in the midwest ranges from $3.69 to $3.79 a gallon? I paid $3.94 in Colorado last week.

  5. Always enjoy your blog and the new places you go to. Why no photos this time? Just love the pic’s as it gives us a better idea of the area. Thanks.

  6. Finished reading Big Lake a few days ago … when is the next one?? I did NOT see the ending coming, although I had several other suspects in mind. We passed your rigs in the parking lot yesterday. You were hooking up your toads as we were leaving for yet another visit to Yosemite. We have also enjoyed our stay at the Park of the Sierras VERY much. I was going to try and find you to say “Hello” while you were here, but I just kept getting busy. I can’t figure out what I was doing, exactly, but I know I was occupied! We also stopped into the Taste of China yesterday after leaving the Mariposa Grove … your recommendation was spot on. Great food, and I have already passed the info on to some other folks who will be here in a week or two. Safe travels!

  7. Just saying hello from a little south of you – San Francisco bay area. On my never ending search for another Class A I’ve been to the Camping World in Sacramento. By the way, I hope you have more fun in this SPRING JUNE weather that we’ve been having around here. I’m ready to head back to good ole TN!

  8. Nick, Can you briefly tell me how you got from Sacramento to the Cloverdale area? We are planning on getting from Sacramento over to the coast (starting in Bodega Bay) but going up highway 1 till we meet 101 and then up the OR coast. I just cannot decide how to get over to 101. Thanks!!!

  9. Judy,
    We didn’t go to Cloverdale. We left the Park of the Sierras and went to Lake Minden, just north of Sacremento.

    If I were going to Bodega Bay from Sacramento, I think I’d take I-80 to just outside of Vellejo, then take State Route 37 west to US 101, and take that north to the Bodega Bay cutoff. I have never taken that route, but others have recommended it to me.

  10. My husband drove truck for many years and I asked him if he had heard that for safety reasons you should not use the exhaust brake when the road was wet and he had not heard this. We have a diesel pusher with an engine brake which I assume is the same as your exhaust brake. Would you please expand on this subject? Thanks.

  11. Nick..which subset of the yahoo group for Thousand Trails did you contact? I looked for something that would be of the advice nature, but didn’t see the yahoo group that fit. Thanks, Jeannie

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