Departure – 5 weeks on the road

Keep on truckin’

Tuesday (May 25): Today marks the beginning of a five week road trip. Destinations include the Oregon and Washington coast, central Oregon and the Lassen area of Northern California. I’ll spend the last six days at a Lassen campground attending an A-frame camper get together.

With the Pilot and Aliner fully packed, I hit the road around 11:30am. Interstate 5 was predictably crowded with truckers; this is a major north/south transportation corridor. I headed north to Williams, then west to Highway 101, and continued north on 101 to Burlington Campground along the Avenue of the Giants. I planned to stay overnight there to break up the drive.

Burlington Campground – Avenue of the Giants

Burlington Campground is beautiful. The campsites are spread among the towering redwood trees (aka – the “Giants”). The campsites are designed for tent camping and small trailers. Several bicycle campers were staying there, as well as motorcycle campers and a few other trailers or Sprinter-type vehicles. On-site restrooms and showers are available, as well as a handy dish-washing station.

Looking up – a terrific way to wake up in the redwoods

On Wednesday morning (May 26), I continued on my journey northward. Costco in Eureka was a popular (and affordable) place to buy gas and a forgotten loaf of bread. (Well, at Costco, you can’t buy just one loaf of bread)

Continuing north on HWY101, I noticed a couple of emergency road signs warning drivers of road restrictions ahead. The words “2 hour delay” got my attention. I pulled off the highway for a break and consulted the CalTrans website for more info. I learned a rock slide near Crescent City was under repair, with regular road closures (2 hours at a time) alternating with one-lane road openings for an hour. It turned out to be a one hour delay, so not a big deal. At least the road was open enough to get through. There were no desirable alternative routes.

Waiting for the road to open

I arrived at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in the later afternoon and set up in my campsite. I’ll be staying here for 3 nights. Another great campground! In the section I’m in, there are just a few spaces, and they are far apart. I’m surrounded by tall redwoods, layers of ferns and peace and quiet.

Space #77 at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

The campground has about 120 campsites, along with a few tiny cabins for rent. The Smith River borders one side of the campground. In the distance, I can hear the faint sounds of HWY 199, which connects Crescent City with Grants Pass, Oregon. Again, excellent restrooms and hot showers are available.

Camping among the redwoods and ferns
Small cabins are also available for rent

Thursday (May 27): Apparently, today is a good rain test of the new window installations. As I write this, a steady rain is filtering through the branches above me and pattering on the roof of my camper. As far as I can tell, the rain is staying on the outside. Fingers crossed.

A different challenge has presented itself, though. While driving the first day, I had the refrigerator set to run on 12v DC to keep it cold. It worked, but when I had arrived at the Burlington campground, the trailer battery was at about 60% charge. I determined that the refrigerator consumed much more 12v power than I expected, which didn’t leave much for charging the battery on the drive.

When I drove from Burlington to Crescent City, I turned off the refrigerator and let it “coast” while driving. This worked OK, the temperature didn’t drop too much and the battery got a fair amount of charge while driving on the road. However, is still wasn’t a full charge, and my arrival time at the Smith campground was too late to use the solar panel to provide an extra charge. Even though I would be running the refrigerator on propane, it still requires 12v to operate the control panel and ignitor.

I monitored the battery level into the evening and as it approached 60%, I shut off the refrigerator again to “coast” overnight. This worked, but I had to restart the fridge and continue to use the battery power. With the rain today, I knew I would have no chance to recharge the battery with solar. So….McGyver to the rescue.

I did a bit of re-wiring to disconnect the refrigerator from the trailer battery and connect the refrigerator to a portable rechargeable 12v power station. This removed all usage from the trailer battery. I’ll continue to monitor this method and if all my power sources are drained, I can move the cold food to an ice chest until I’m able to recharge the batteries. No biggie. The lesson learned is that the refrigerator will work fine on 12V while driving, but the first night after a long day on the road should include hookups so I can recharge the batteries.

So, with a rainy day, what is there to do? I am sitting in a rain forest, so it seems like a perfect day to get out and take some photos!

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3 thoughts on “Departure – 5 weeks on the road

  1. Nice start to your trip. My family has a cabin about a mile from the Lassen Park entrance. It’s a beautiful park. Have fun.


  2. This is a good idea to create a memory document, for yourself, friends and family or any traveler. Well done, thanks for sharing



  3. I grew up in Garberville. We drove, learned,hiked, played along the Avenue of the Giants before it was named. (I wnet to High School in Miranda…we road a bus or drove 14 miles every day to school). Your new most favorite picture reminded me of Richardson’s Grove which was a favorite place of mine and where my sister and I left my fathers ashes. We didn’t put a sign there but I know the tree.
    You have a special talent taking perfectly beautiful pictures. I especially like the ocean, hiking traisl and tall Redwood Giants. In other words I am enjoying all the beautiful talent you have.
    Than/k You for sharing with me. It is a relaxing time with many wonderful memories of my childhood.


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