Eastern Sierra Photo Slideshow

After posting the earlier photo slideshow from the Pacific Northwest, I remembered I had created a similar video from a road trip in the Eastern Sierra in 2019. On that trip I was photographing the fall colors in the area. I was traveling for about nine days on that trip.

It works best if you click on the YouTube link on the video and watch it there, full screen is best. The music is from Boney James, his song is called “RPM.”

Enjoy!

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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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Russian River in November

Casini Ranch Family Campground – Drone photos by Bruce Prichard
That’s my trailer at the bottom of this image.

November was a good month to camp near the Sonoma Coastline. The Casini Ranch Family Campground is just a few miles inland along the Russian River. The RV Park is well maintained with a variety of spaces. I chose a space along a wooded area, with the river a couple hundred yards behind me. Other spaces were available nearest the beach area. The weather was great for most of the week; the rain started about the same time we were packing up to leave on Friday.

Our first full day was Tuesday, November 10th. We drove over the nearby Korbel winery for some champagne tasting. Social distancing was in full effect during the tasting session. The champagne was good, however, in the gift shop I purchased a small bottle of Korbel brandy. 

Continue reading “Russian River in November”

Introduction – The Beginning of the Journey

Aliner Expedition – folded down for travel mode

Aliner Expedition – folded up for camping mode
My Honda Pilot tows this trailer easily

I bought this Aliner Expedition folding A-Frame trailer in mid-September from a couple I know through photography. I had seen photos from some of their photography adventures and noticed this Aliner as their travel vehicle. When they put it up for sale, I took a look and made the purchase! 

This has a “sofa” that can be converted to a queen-size bed, 4-seat dinette, 2-burner stove, 3-way refrigerator, sink, microwave oven, heat pump/cooler, outdoor shower, cassette toilet and water heater.. For full service, it has hook ups for shore power, city water and cable tv. 

I’ve made some enhancements to improve storage spaces, create new ones and add some features. (More about those projects later)

When folded down, the trailer pulls easily. The smaller box means less wind-resistance and a lower center of gravity than a standard trailer. It is also very easy to maneuver in small spaces. 

The camper sets up quickly. In less than a minute, the two roof panels can be raised, as well as the two side walls. Once locked in the open position, the inside area can be arranged as desired. Traveling in an A-frame requires a minimalist approach. The more stuff I pack, the more stuff I’ll have to shift around to get to the other stuff. Rather than thinking about what I can take, I need to think about what I can do without. 

In addition to limited space, I also have consider weight: trailer weight, tongue weight, cargo weight in my tow vehicle – these all add up to fuel efficiency, strain on the Honda Pilot and safety. 

With the restrictions related to COVID-19 pandemic, camping has seen a surge in popularity. Camping offers social-distancing, fresh air, opportunity for exercise and a respite from in-home lockdown. As a result, it is more difficult than ever to locate and reserve campground spaces. Most state and federal campgrounds are at full capacity, and private campgrounds and RV parks are charging premium prices. 

The other option is boondocking: camping on open space land, usually operated by the US Forest Service (USFS) or Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These spaces are also seeing significant impact from increased camping. Many areas are experiencing crowded conditions, excessive trash and human waste strewn across the landscape and campers barging into protected land spaces and private property. 

In this blog, I’ll share my experiences with road-tripping, trailer mods, camping and yes, boondocking. It promises to be an adventure! 

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