Saturday, May 12, 2012


One more day of 'vacation', then back to work.  Spent today familiarizing ourselves with the new neighborhood, then playing in the dunes.  The dunes are really cool.  The neighborhood will require a little more research.  A good grocery store, someplace to get RV supplies and the regular ins and outs of daily life require commerce and we must find places for that.  The search goes on. 

We had fun on the dunes.  Plenty of running, jumping and digging.  Some sliding.  Lots of wiggling and more sand in the shorts than you can believe.  Ended on a sour note though.  Max tripped with Michael in close pursuit. Michael landed on Max's back and drove his face into the sand.  Max's first bloody nose.  Took it pretty well though.  Great day, hope more of the same tomorrow. 

Friday, May 11, 2012


Well, we have landed.

It appears at the moment that we will be staying here for the duration of our contract.  We will research the local RV parks and check out our options, but at the very least we are in the area.  2000 miles or so later. 

Interesting day of driving with the longest steepest hill I have yet encountered while driving Flo and Irv headed South on 101.  Geez.  We arrived in the park, got set up and played in the dunes for a while.

There are a few negatives.  WiFi is $30 extra a month.  Our air card is only 3g which is limited.  The spaces are REALLY close together.  The laundry rooms suck.  On the plus side, it is one of the cheaper parks around.  It is 1/2 mile from the ocean.  There are fantastic dunes just 50 yards from our door.  It is less than 45 minutes from work. 

We will figure it out.  Today wasn't a good picture day.  With the internet connection here being what it is, we may have to cut back on our already skimpy picture allowance.  Oh well, we will figure it out.  We always do. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

5/10/12 Pt 2

I mentioned pictures. 


Today was a bit more relaxing.  After a less than relaxing night.

At around 0200 this morning we lost power.  Nightlights, fans, AC and the heat lamp for Ned's cage were all lost.  Sarah and I have grown so used to the fan at night that it is difficult to sleep without it.  And then Max woke up crying because he had a nightmare.  A few hours later we made it back to sleep only to be awoken later when the power kicked back on.

When we got up the next morning a little later than normal.  Got some coffee and went to visit some local produce stands.  Mom got it into her head that she wanted to eat an orange that she picked off the tree.  Turns out they no longer have you pick them orange groves here.  Must interfere with the commercial farming industry in some fashion.  Luckily we found a guy that had an orange tree right next to his produce stand and he let us pick some oranges off of it.  Man, they are tasty fresh off the tree.  So we hit stand after stand and came home with more oranges than we know what to do with.  OK, so we know.

We had a delicious lunch at the Dry Creek Deli and then went home.  The kids convinced us to throw on the swim suits and head to the river.  One of our neighbors kindly noted to us that the water was ice not too very long ago.  This fact became quite apparent when we hopped into the water.  I had to swim the width of the river at least once and then the kids and I were happy enough just wading on the banks and in the shallows.

Now, we hope to get out and take a sunset picture over lake Kaweah.  We saw a beautiful vantage point on the way in. Pics of the sunset perhaps later.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Today we went to the Sequoia National forest and King's Canyon.  Our goal was to see the most massive tree in the world, General Sherman.

We got up and were quite a bit more relaxed this morning than last.  No pressing deadlines, no long drives.  The campground here is awesome.  The noisiest things here are the woodpeckers. There is a beautiful rushing river a hundred feet from our door.  This place looks like a 'Go RV'ing' ad.  Beautiful with wholesome looking families on vacation.

Eventually we got it together and drove out to the national park.We drove in, meandering about the mountain and stopping at whatever caught our eye.  Eventually we found ourselves stopped by a man holding a stop sign at a place called Hospital Rock.  Turns out there was substantial road construction and a pilot car took groups through ever two hours.  The last group just left.  Good thing Sarah packed a lunch.  We ate our lunch and waited our turn.

Then we drove.  The vehicle size limit is 22 feet long due to the twisting and turning road.  We were in Flo.  She is 21 1/2 feet long.  IT got a little tight in places.  We wound up 5000 feet higher than we started and then we started hiking.  It was a half mile down to the tree.  The forest is a large pine tree forest sprinkled in this area, with massive sequoia trees.  They are easy to spot because of the orange/red trunks.  Oh yeah...and their massive size.  Winding our way down we read the informative signs.  It is a well laid out trail with lots of benches.  Nice park.

The tree itself is huge.  Although, if it didn't tell you you might think there were a few others nearby that were just as big if not bigger.  We wandered around and ooohhhed and ahhhhhed over the trees in the appropriate manner.  It is a serene and tranquil place.  Only interrupted by the occasional outburst from our children.  There weren't a lot of kids there.  Still school time I guess.

Then we left and drove home.  Dogs aren't supposed to be on the trails, although we did see a few.  So we wanted to get home at a reasonable hour for Satchel.  We waited another hour for the pilot truck, who was running behind schedule, to go down.  Overall I think it was a win.  I love the forests and Mom seemed to like it too. Except for the drive up. She said she didn't want to do it again because of the steep drops and no side rails.  So instead of further exploring the park tomorrow it seems we don't really have any plans.

We shall see what the day brings.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


What a day.  Of course, since I didn't mention the end of yesterday I have to start there.

We settled in at the Sam's Casino RV park in Las Vegas and went to the strip.  After the let down of the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas didn't disappoint.  We drove to the Strip and parked at the Paris/Bally's garage.  For those that know the strip, we then walked the strip down to MGM and crossed over to New York, New York.  We then walked North to the Mirage with a stop to watch the Bellagio fountains and a side trip through Ceasar's and the Forum Shops.

Mom seemed to really like it and Michael loved showing everything to her.  Max loved the little 'football cards' the guys kept handing out with the ladies with stars over their boobs.  That kid.

We end up back at the car at around 10 pm.  The kids haven't been fed, showered or anything.  We are officially bad parents.  So, on the way home we stop at a restaurant to feed everyone.  Before the food can arrive, Max is asleep. We eat and head home.  By the time we get home and everyone situated it is very late.  Sarah and I get to bed at half past midnight.  During the day, we had received word from the campground for the next day was full.  It was to be our backup campground because the one we wanted didn't take reservations.  This didn't bode well.  So we decided to skip the campground in Tehachapi and drive straight through to Three Rivers.  That would make it the longest drive this trip by 100 miles and one of our longest days ever.  Now we weren't getting to bed until after midnight.  Good start.

So, Satchel wakes us up at 0700 to go potty.  He does this by shaking his head and flapping his ears.  He has done this for years, works every time.  We get up, make coffee and get started.  By this stage of the trip everything is pretty smooth in the preparations.  It doesn't take us long and we are on the road, even after a fuel stop, by 1000.  Awesome.  Then we drive.

For those that haven't been there, the climb out of Vegas on Highway 58 is brutal.  Hot, long and steep going up and down.  For hours we are climbing and descending through desert, mountains and high desert plateaus.  This sucks.  It takes a lot of concentration.  Everything wants to overheat and there are crazy drivers everywhere.  It doesn't help that every few miles you see the burned asphalt on the right shoulder from a past Car-B-Que.  At last, after several hours of torture, the scenery starts to change.  It starts getting greener, a little cooler and not quite so steep. We stop for fuel and a potty break.  When we get back on the road, things start going wrong.

First, the truck won't accelerate.  It will shift gears one time, drop power and has no get up and go.  Won't go past about 35 MPH.  Which, on this highway, is slow enough to get you killed.  I radio Sarah and pull over.  It sounds like the truck is in limp mode.  The Duramax has so many sensors that it knows when something is wrong and will drastically decrease performance to save the truck.  When it does that, it is called limp mode.  Now, we pretty consistently have a check engine light on.  I have researched it and found that it is a fault in a sensor called the vane position sensor that can decrease efficiency in the turbo.  The sensor costs $350 or so.  I haven't changed it.  The downside here is that there is a check engine light and I don't know if it is the same old thing or not. We pull over.  While walking back to confer with Sarah, I notice something.  There is a bulge about the size of a baseball on the side wall of one of the RV tires.  That is not good.  Crap.

All of this happens in....wait for it...Tehachapi.  So I talk to Sarah and she gets on the phone with Good Sam Emergency Roadside assistance.  I get on the phone and start looking for what causes the Duramax to go into Limp mode.  It all hinges on the trouble code by the check engine light.  I don't have a reader.

Back on the phone.  There is a Napa auto parts store in Tehachapi.  I call them and they have a reader.  Just so happens that the basic model is also on sale.  I hop into the Civic with Mom while Sarah waits for the roadside assistance guys in the truck and haul butt into Napa.  A few minutes later I return to the truck with the reader.  The first roadside guy is there.  They have to send two, one for the truck and one for the RV.  Can't tow both.  While we wait for the second guy, the RV guy, I check the code.  IT is a low fuel pressure at the fuel supply rail code.  I am now convinced that this is a clogged fuel filter.  I just so happen to have a spare fuel filter under the seat.  I whip it out and get busy.  The truck tow guy is convinced I am wasting my time, but he is humoring me.  The RV tow guy has now arrived and he starts changing the tire so he can tow it.  Luckily I have changed this filter a few times.  It only takes a minute.  I finish, fire it up and get no check engine light.  All is good.

The RV guy finishes changing the tire and I test out the rig.  Everything works.  We thank the roadside assistance guys and get back on our way, a few hours later.

We decide to go ahead and press on to Three Rivers.  We arrive at the park a few minutes before sunset.  Exhausted we managed to get set up, some dinner cooked and the nightly kid routine done.  They were washed, fed and in bed half an hour before we had left the strip the night before.

Now Sarah and I are off to bed.  Hopefully tomorrow can be a different sort of adventure.

Edit:  Updated to add a picture.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Sorry no post yesterday.  Things kind of went off the rails a little bit.  After an initial underwhelming day at the Grand Canyon, I wasn't too excited at the prospect of going back.  Neither, it seemed, was anyone else. 

Part of it, I think, is that this isn't the type of place you take young children.  They couldn't care less about the majesty staring them in the face.  They aren't the contemplative type of creature.  So they get bored.  Which leads to obnoxiousness and things like chasing lizards near cliff edges.  Not good for parents. 

So nobody seemed excited to go and yet we went anyway.  Small things were magnified and I ended up snapping at Sarah when a much calmer response would have been better.  Then I was cranky, she was cranky and everyone else is weirded out at the cranky Mommy and Daddy.  Sigh.

We went home early and hashed everything out before bed.  Next day, on to Vegas.  I have a love/hate relationship with the drive to Vegas.  On one hand it is beautiful near the Hoover Dam.  On the other, it is windy, hot and steep.  And then we got turned around and ended up spending another hour or so trying to find our way to the park.

Now, we are here.  We are fed, rested-ish and ready to see some stuff.  The fountains of the Bellagio usually put me in a great mood.  We will see.