Newport Beach then back home.

We drove down from San Dimas on a Saturday morning and the traffic made me wonder if it would have been worse Friday during rush hour.   We arrived before noon and wasn’t sure if they were sticklers about check-in time.  Turns out they are not and we got to our site for the next few nights within a few minutes of noon.

The site I had chosen was long enough for us and was wide enough to fit the car next to us with room to spare.   It wasn’t overlooking the water, but as we were in town to see the kids, we didn’t expect to be here that much.   The place turned out to be very nice.  I was pleasantly surprised as the reviews were very mixed.

This campground is a few minutes from the kids’ house, so it was a very convenient place to stay while visiting them.  Really nice walkway around the bay.  Kathy and Dusty enjoyed going down there every morning and afternoon.  We had a great time seeing Chris and Shelly and going out on the town!

The Dash Down Interstate 5

We drove down Interstate 5 about 220 miles, through Sacramento, past Stockton, and to Kit Fox RV Park in Patterson, CA.  Surprisingly, Patterson was a busy place.  We had the first pull-thru with a bit of green grass right out our front door.   The freeway was about 1,800 feet away, but the noise made it seem a lot closer.   It was very convenient for a single night, no need to unhook and was easy in and out.   Just needed to be a bit further from the freeway.

The following morning we headed the 200 miles to Bakersfield River Run RV Park.   I had asked for a pull-thru and they screwed up the reservation and all they had were back-ins.  But the next morning I saw that had been bull shit as there were still a few unoccupied pull-thru’s when we left.

The drive into the area was pretty rough and looked like we were heading into an industrial park.  I won’t bother stopping here next time.  I was totally underwhelmed by their service and location.

The next morning we headed toward San Dimas to camp for a night at Bonelli Bluffs RV Resort and Campground.   I was shocked how nice this place was.  Way up on a hill with views in all directions.  Lots of lush grass too!   I will try to stay here again!   The next morning we headed south to Newport Dunes Resort, our last stop before getting back home for the winter.  

Red Bluff CA

We looked at camping at another park in Red Bluff to stay a few more days with friends, but I got the dates screwed up and after rereading the reviews of that campground decided to go to a different park in town that we had not been to before.  Turned out it was a good choice as it was very pleasant, with full hookups and lots of shade for a few fairly warm days.   We had stayed at Durango Resort a few times but lately it was bought out by KOA and the reviews went downhill quickly.    There is absolutely no shade at Durango/KOA,  nothing at all, so we opted for Red Bluff RV Park.   I looked for pictures I took while there, but apparently I didn’t take any.

It was a nice quiet park and we would stay there again.   When we left there, we were going to make time traveling south to get home!

Emigrant Lake

On the way to Emigrant Lake we topped off our fuel tank as it was going to jump about a dollar a gallon just a few miles south of the lake at the California border.

We got there and the lake was Very low.   It was a very long way down to the water.  Even the ends of the boat ramps and floating docks were hundreds of feet from the edge of the water when we were there.

The campground side for larger vehicles is all the way at the end of the road on a tall peninsula.   It was interesting as we drove out there, I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck tingle as the height came into view over the rise.

Tami & Scott arrived the day after we got there as their repairs took a bit longer to complete the work they wanted done.   We did get to have lunch one day on the Ashland Riverwalk.   Nice small town, and lots of Oregonian folks.  You need to spend a bit of time in a small town in Oregon to know what I mean.

The best view site was RV21, a pull-thru overlooking the whole lake.  We were not in that site, but wished we were.

This park had the worst stickers Kathy has ever seen and it was impossible to walk Dusty unless we drove him to the day use area, which had nice lush grass.  The sign said no pets, but there were no people at this time of year so I dared it!

Valley of the Rogue

We were meeting back up with friends at this campground and staying for a few days.   When I was setting this camping up, I noticed how close it was to the 5 freeway.  So when we arrived and found our spot, I was pleasantly surprised how quiet it was.  And the Rogue River had a very small rapids area right across from us by Scott and Tami’s spot, so there was the sounds of the water right there making it a pleasant experience.

I spent some of the time there cleaning the basement that had gotten a bit dirty over the last several months.  Did some rearranging of stuff under there to lessen the weight on the right rear of the coach that I had found out about traversing a couple unoccupied weigh stations along the way to Champoeg.  (Shampoo)

One afternoon we headed over to Grant’s Pass for lunch along the Rogue River.  Was a pretty nice place with tables next to and overlooking the river.  Food was very good too.  (River’s Edge Restaurant)

One evening we were sitting outside our friends’ coach sipping on some beer and above us were hundreds of birds circling.  They looked like hawks to me and Scott thought they were turkey vultures.   I kept trying to get them into a picture but could only get some of them in any one shot.   They stuck around for a couple hours riding the thermals and dropping down and doing it again.  It was pretty cool as I had not seen that many birds doing anything like that before.


Mt. Hood and the Fruit Loop

We arrived as early as we could at Toll Bridge Park, which is probably 20 miles south of Hood River (which is on the Columbia River).

It’s a first-come, first-served campground, (FCFS) meaning you cannot make reservations; you can only get a site if there is an empty one when you arrive, or at least, before you give up.   The west loop, which is where I hoped to get a site, was a bit too tight for our bus and “of course”, none of the sites that were long enough for us were empty, so we continued to the east loop where there  were many empty sites to choose from.  We picked a 65′ pull-thru, one of the half-moon type pull-thru’s which are never as long as they state.  Ours was the same, shorter than it stated, so our car is close to blocking the exit of the campsite behind us.

The next day we took a drive up to the Timberline Lodge, apparently the hotel they filmed The Shining (Jack Nicholson’s version).   It was very cool (cold) up there and the view of Mt. Hood was spectacular as the lodge is just above the timberline.

Geez, guess I should have read this article prior to coming here about: Mt Hood     After coming down off the mountain, we headed over to Government Camp and found  a pub for lunch.

We headed out the next day to drive the fruit loop and pick up some fresh fruit.  It seems most of the fruit we saw driving were pears.  We did find some great apples, peaches and blueberries.  There are a lot of stores/farm stands around the loop.  That 16% grade was really short, but I doubt I would want to drive the bus on it anyway.

And no day driving around looking for fruit stands could be complete without a stop at a winery/brewery.   That purple stuff was wild berry hard cider.  I took a sip, it was very sweet.  My beer was much better.

We also found Ethan’s favorite tortilla chips while wandering the roadways, and currently they are Kathy’s favorite too!

One afternoon we headed down to Hood River, which was a very nice area to wander around.  Just about every building had a small plaque on it explaining what it was used for when built, most in the early 1900’s.   While Kathy was shopping, I sat around with the dog breathing in car exhaust.  Not sure why it was so noticeable, but it was.  Hopefully folks will pull their head out of the sand and seriously look at electric cars.  I won’t be buying another gas powered car.  The only thing holding me back at the moment is none of the current electric cars can be towed behind our motorhome with 4 wheels on the ground.  I would have to deal with a large trailer and that’s one hassle I don’t want to deal with.

I noticed this hole in the very tall tree next to us and hoped that there wouldn’t be a storm coming thru the few days we camped there.

Hells Gate State Park

We drove down to Clarkston / Lewiston on Thursday morning.   Here is a picture of one of the first signs we saw in Clarkston.  Headed over to the local Costco to fuel up and maybe pick up some groceries .  The fill-up there was easy, but the parking lot was small and filled with cars, so we headed down to the campground.  Along the way we thought we would stop at a roadside rest on the Snake River road, but that was not such a great idea.  It was tight to get in and turned out to be full, so we had no where to park.  To make matters worse, they had placed large rocks at the entrance and exit to the lot; so getting back out was too tight and we had to unhook the car so I could back up and get a better angle to get out. (otherwise one of the rocks would scrape a bit of the new paint, and I wasn’t going to be happy if I let that happen!)

The reason I wanted to find a roadside stop was the state park wouldn’t let you check in prior to 2 pm, and now we were early due to the missed grocery shopping opportunity.   Turns out the park’s kiosk wasn’t where you check in to that campground and we were able to drive to their “Discovery Center” parking lot and park there till the check-in desk opened.

I drove over to see the campsite while we were waiting, and it was surrounded by wild turkeys and a couple deer.   There was also a nice big shade tree strategically placed for great shade to sit outside!

I wanted to take one of the local jet boats into Hell’s Canyon, but the only day they had available was Sunday, and showed it was going to be very smoky there that day, so I didn’t sign up.  Maybe next time…  And on Sunday the smoke was very thick.  Glad I didn’t drop the $200, would have been a lot like the bus at Denali, hard to see anything due to all the smoke that day.

This weight limit sign inside the campground, just prior to any of the campsite loops, was interesting.  The weight limit listed precludes most Class A motorhomes as the rear axle is usually 20,000 lbs (10 tons) , and newer ones are often 24,000 lbs (12 tons).  So the 8.6 ton limit would be an issue. Also noticed the other weight limits listed for more axles don’t follow the 8.6 tons per axle limit.  Possibly they aren’t teaching basic math in schools anymore.

Our next stop will be Crow Butte Park on an Island in the Columbia River.









Blanchard, Idaho (CDA)

We decided to go to the Stoneridge Golf and RV Resort about 30 miles northwest of CDA.  I’ve found that the most expensive places often have last-minute campsites available, even though this wasn’t really last minute.  I was calling when it was only a couple weeks prior to the Labor Day Weekend, so every other place had no openings for that long weekend.

Turned out Stoneridge was a very nice place to camp (glamp?)   It did seem to have an identity crisis though.  All the paperwork when we got there had the name “Motorcoach RV Resort Idaho” on them.   I had asked the guy next door (who in the first conversation let me know he was an “owner”) about the name, and he wasn’t aware of that name.  Not sure how that works, if one of the site owners isn’t aware of the place’s actual name.

The place was extremely nice.  Lush grass and flowers everywhere!  If this was closer to home, I could see investing in a lot here.  But it’s very far and is only open May to October due to cold weather.






The day after arriving, we headed up to Newport on the Pend Oreille River, which is a tributary of the Columbia River.  The drive through the area just south of the town was a very depressed looking area, and the town itself, which I believe is in Washington State, is only a slight upgrade.   We did enjoy a drive over to the Albeni Falls Dam a few miles upriver for some pretty views.

The following day we met with the in laws to check out their new motorhome, new pup, and to see the lake house construction progress.   The lake house cabin was anything but a cabin.  It was very large with lots of steel beams and columns, three stories, right on the lake with three nice-sized decks, one on each level.  It will be a gorgeous home when it is done!  Hopefully John will get this done soon so he can retire!   We then headed back up to Stoneridge so they could see this place and we could get lunch on the deck at the deli.

Lunch was pretty good, and while we were munching down, the wind really started to blow, knocking over one of the unoccupied tables and umbrella behind us!   Thank goodness it didn’t hit the man and his daughter only a few feet away!

We drove over to our rig for desert just as the rain started, which only lasted a little while.  We bid Stacy and John adieu and they headed back home.  We were heading out the next morning toward Potlatch, ID.

Missoula 2022

We arrived in Missoula the Thursday afternoon before my niece’s wedding.  I had gotten a last-minute reservation at the local KOA, so I was a bit apprehensive about the site we would get.   A couple weeks prior they had no openings for our stay; so when I called back and they had something, I was very happy.   We had originally thought we might stay at the ranch or at the local hip-camp.   When we drove over to the ranch to help set up for the next day’s event, I was surprised by the 10-ton bridge weight limit I would have had to cross.  We are close to 20 tons…

It turned out we really lucked out and the KOA gave us a very nice campsite with a very big tree for shade!

We had been struggling with our toad’s A/C only blowing cold air from the defroster and floor vents for about a year since last year’s Mississippi River trip.  When originally calling around to get it fixed, the dealers were talking thousands of dollars in repairs as the whole dashboard needed to be removed to get to the system to fix it.

Recently I had re-posted my question about the issue on a Chevy forum, and someone answered that my issue was a bit different than what the Chevy dealers were quoting; that the Mode Door Actuator was the problem and it was a lot simpler to repair than what the Chevy dealers were telling me about.

I then watched a Youtube Video on the repair and knew that was my issue with the A/C.  I must have called 20 places while in Wyoming and Colorado and was only hearing they had no openings for weeks.   I finally decided to call the Chevy dealer in Missoula a few weeks prior to getting there, and the service gal told me they could do it, but had no openings till the week after we would be leaving Missoula.  Then she said if I brought it in early the day after we arrived, she would squeeze it in.  YES!

That morning I brought it in and they fixed it in a few hours.   Two weeks later and we still have air coming out of the dash instead of the defroster!!  Wow.  It’s been really hot this summer and it took a long time for the car to cool off with the cold air blowing everywhere but at you!

We drove over to help with anything we could for the wedding on Friday afternoon, mainly moving things like beverages, chairs and coolers around the barn and adding ice to the coolers.

The wedding was a fantastic event, and the weather totally cooperated.  I did learn something new at the event.  I asked someone why all the cowboys where wearing sunglasses and was told, no one wants to see cowboys crying.  🙂


The next day we went with Chris and Shelly for lunch at Notorious P.I.G. restaurant downtown in his rented model Y Tesla.   It’s a pretty nice car.  I really liked the display showing all the cars around you.  That may be a feature of the self-driving mode which it had.  Chris said he used that during the drive from CDA to Missoula the day prior.

We headed over after lunch on Sunday to help with the cleanup.  There was a lot to move from the barn to the house and a small truckload of borrowed tables/chairs and cooler to go back to Julia’s work.   After that we went back to the bus and passed out.



The rest of the time in Missoula we mostly visited with the family that was still there and cleaned the inside and outside of the bus.

On Thursday morning we headed northwest to CDA to visit with the new in-laws.



Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.

We headed up the mountain after staying a single night at St. Vrain State Park which was outside of Longmont, Colorado.  If you do stay at St. Vrain, pick a spot as far west as they have available.  The eastern edge fronts the I-25.  From our western-most site, we couldn’t hear the freeway.

It’s a bit of a twisty road heading up toward Estes Park, but a fairly short drive from Longmont.  We camped at Elk Meadow Lodge & RV Resort.  It’s not even close to being a resort.   No paved roads, not even gravel, just dirt; and when the wind blows — and it really can blow — it creates a dust bowl effect.  The sites are terraced into a small hillside, but for some reason, they didn’t make them level when they easily could have.   Some of the sites had a small area cut out of the hillside so the picnic table could be level.  Our site didn’t have that feature, the table listed at probably 10 degrees from level.   That said, it was a great base camp for seeing the RMNP and Estes Park.


That first evening we walked to a restaurant right out the driveway a friend had recommended and tried the Devils on Horseback.  They were delicious, quite a unique taste!







The first morning there we headed to the Rocky Mountain National Park gate to get in the park prior to 9 am when you must have a reservation to go to the western area of the park.  (Bear Lake area needs you to be inside prior to 5 am)   We drove out to the Alpine Visitor Center, which was about 25 miles of steep, twisty mountain road.  The views along the way were pretty spectacular and there are many overlooks along the way.  It was a beautiful morning to head out there.

For some reason the Bear Lake area of the park requires reservations from 5 am till 6 pm, and the rest of the park needs them from 9 am to 3 pm.  This National Park reservation thing is very new, starting last year.  I had not heard of it prior to a few weeks before.

I looked at making a reservation for Bear Lake, but there was nothing available the whole time we were going to be in the area.  (Bummer!)  I really didn’t want to get up at 4 am to drive there in the dark before a reservation was needed.   Lucky for us, Kathy read something about the site selling tickets every evening at 5 pm for the next day.  Seems they hold some reservations back.   So that evening I was ready with a CC and on the site just prior to 5 pm.  I was able to purchase a reservation for 10 am the next morning!  $2 is what they cost at the moment (2022).

The next morning we left a bit before 10 and got into the park fairly quickly.   We sure love the fact that we purchased a senior park pass back in 2017 for $10 at Montezuma’s Castle.  That thing has saved us many hundreds of dollars in park entrance fees and even more in camping fees at certain types of government facilities.  Two times into the park from the Estes Park side would have been another $60 ($30 each day), but the pass waived those fees.    It’s pretty amazing what that $10 investment 5 years ago has saved us.  And what a nice benefit for seniors!

We got to the turn for Bear Lake and there was another line to get thru a checkpoint where they again validated your reservation time and whether it was for the Bear Lake road.    It’s only about 10 miles of more twisty road to get to the lake.   It’s also very crowded as it seems everyone wants to go there.  The park service wants you to park about 1/2 the way there and take a shuttle bus.  We decided to ignore those signs and drive all the way up there.  That parking lot was fairly small, but the parking gods were with us and we lucked out and found the one parking spot that was open when we drove in.  It was even at the front!

The lake is a very short hike from the parking lot, a few hundred feet.  We had to take turns going there as Dusty wasn’t allowed on the trails.  It’s a pretty lake and an easy hike.  Kathy made it all the way around it.  At 9,500 feet elevation that’s still saying something!  I guess this place is so popular as it’s such an easy hike?   It was nice, but based on the popularity/reservation restrictions, I was assuming there would be something spectacular there.  I personally thought the way out to the Alpine Visitor Center was much closer to “spectacular”.

[A lot of the hikes started from that area to other lakes, waterfalls, and just beautiful hiking trails.]

The rest of the week we spent as tourists in Estes Park proper.   Went out to see the Stanley Hotel, which was the model Stephen King used for The Shining, but didn’t actually film here.)

There is a small riverwalk downtown that was very nice.  Going into the town on the weekend is a zoo.  Bumper-to-bumper traffic all day.  And it’s not easy to bypass that area, even to get to a grocery store from Elk Meadows.   There were some signs downtown saying they want to kill the proposed bypass the town wants to build, but it’s really needed.  If you were a local resident, you would really need to plan your day to avoid going anywhere because of that super-congested area.






We never did see any elk at Elk Meadows.   But we did see the cutest little Black Mini Schnauzer a lot as the couple next door walked their 6 month old often.






RMNP Pictures:



July 19th thru the 26th.