Category Archives: Campsites

April 18, 2017 Westport Union State Beach, California

Westport Union State Beach

Westport Union State Beach

Last Few Days in Beautiful But Expensive California

Westport Union State Beach Campsite

Westport Union State Beach Campsite

After soaking in the rain for several days in gloomy Bodega Bay, I headed north up the coastal highway on a relatively nice sunny day through Mendocino and then Fort Bragg, to Westport Union State Beach.

Westport Union State Beach Campsite

Westport Union State Beach Campsite

I had found this spot a few years back when I camped inland and drove the Prius through the coastal mountains and then along the Coast Highway, at the time, a little leery of taking the motorhome over the challenging mountains to the coast. Back then I thought this would be a nice remote peaceful spot to spend a bit of time doing nothing …. but in a beautiful setting!

Back then there were many campsites right on the edge of the bluff above the beach, today there are only a few left. Wave erosion has forced the campground to close most of the sites along the bluff as the bluffs are rapidly being lost to the ocean. No Verizon signal here, no water, no electric, no dump station, and sites are $33/night. Wonderful view and absolutely great place for being lulled to sleep at night by the crashing surf below.

The drive over the mountains on Route 20 or farther north on Branscom Road to get back inland to Route 101 is really not that severe if one takes it easy and is prepared for some long 6% grades and some fairly sharp curves, but it was easily done in my motorhome with the Prius in tow.

Yet more rain while I was here and I guess I am about ready to leave beautiful, but expensive California and head for Oregon.

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April 13, 2017 Bodega Bay, California

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

Monday morning I left the Mariposa Fairground and made what I thought would be a 4 hour trip to Bodega Bay on the California Coast. My 4 hour trip ended up being closer to 7 hours when I made the mistake of heading north from Mariposa on Route 49, a road I had not driven before. Well, turns out there are a few 7% grades to climb and descend, as well as about a thousand sharp switchbacks and hairpin turns along that route, and, although it was nothing my rig couldn’t handle, I seldom found myself going much over 20 mph.

And then, when I finally reached route 101 and turned north to Petaluma, I encountered some of California’s infamous commuter traffic heading north to home after a work day spent in the San Francisco area ( I’m guessing ). Four lanes of northbound traffic were squeezed down to two lanes at a point where there was an on ramp with traffic backed up forever, and this resulted in a traffic jam of about seven miles moving at stop and go speed and taking around an hour to cover the those seven miles into Petaluma where I was finally able to get off the highway and head west to the coast on uncrowded secondary roads. I have no idea how these poor folks can handle this day after day. This backup was caused strictly by traffic volume and not by any kind of construction or an accident along the way … this would be a daily occurrence!

Without a doubt, this state has got to have the most dangerous aggressive drivers I have encountered. Couple that with the deplorable condition of most of the roads in the state and horrific traffic conditions and suffice it to say, this is not a fun state to travel in. Add in the higher cost of everything out here, gas  ( where does all the gas tax money actually go since it obviously isn’t showing up in highway maintenance ), camping fees ( my spot in Bodega Bay is $34/night for a primitive site and is much less than anything else around here ),  and food ( I was going to treat myself to a fresh seafood dinner in one of the local restaurants, but checking out menus and realizing that it would be over $50 for any sort of meal, I had a sandwich at home ). But then, there is an unbelievable amount of unique and gorgeous natural features in the state, so it pretty much is a must see state. Grin and bear it, I guess.

Westshore Camping Area on Bodega Bay

Westshore Camping Area on Bodega Bay

Anyhow, I finally made it to the Westshore Camping Area in Bodega Bay around 5 PM and was able to get into a site that had three midweek days that were unreserved. All the reservable sites in the campground were reserved for the weekend, so I hoped maybe someone would move out of the two first come, first served sites before my three days were up … and lo and behold, both sites opened up the next day and I was able to claim one of them and thus can stay here through the weekend now.

Weather continues to be very wet, rain every day so far with just one 6 hour window of sun and cloudy skies when I was able to zip up Route 1 for 30 miles and get these shots.

Campground Wildflowers

Campground Wildflowers

Some spots of nice wildflowers but no poppies in bloom yet, still a couple of weeks away.

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

Probably because of the weather, but traffic on Coastal Route 1 is pretty light right now, making it a very pleasant drive.

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

California Coast

Russian River Harbor Seals

Russian River Harbor Seals

At the mouth of the Russian River, Route 1 climbs up to hundred feet or so above the beach and you get this view of a stretch of beach where the harbor seals haul out.

Russian River Harbor Seals

Russian River Harbor Seals

Russian River Harbor Seals

Russian River Harbor Seals

Wonder what the “sleep number” is on those rocks, these guys look like they are pretty comfortable.

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

This Peregrine falcon was perched atop a sea stack only a few feet from the edge of the highway …

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

… keeping an eye on everything while doing his morning preening routine.

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

I’ve never encountered one of these birds that was so unafraid of humans nearby. Of course there was no way you could get out to where it was sitting, but still quite unusual for a bird of prey to be this unconcerned with human activity so close by ( less than 100 feet ).

Hillside Grazers

Hillside Grazers

Along Route 1, you have some incredibly steep drop-offs to the cliffs and beach hundreds of feet below, with no guard rails, so most people probably don’t even notice the cattle grazing of the green hillsides on the other side of the highway. These animals have to be in some kind of shape to handle the steep grades of their pasture land.

Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

About 30 miles north of Bodega bay is the Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve, where rhodys grow wild up to 30 feet tall under second growth redwoods. Unfortunately, I was a little early to catch the rhodys in bloom, but it must be something to see in a month or so.

Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

The four mile drive ( single lane one way gravel road ) takes you through a dark, damp, coastal rain forest. Lots of moss and ferns to see in addition to the rhodys and redwoods.

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March 23, 2017 Lake Kaweah, California

Redbud Bloom

Redbud Bloom

Patiently Waiting on the Weather

Horse Creek Campground on Lake Kaweah, California

Horse Creek Campground on Lake Kaweah, California

Two days ago, I made the short move from Lake Success to Kaweah Lake and the Army Corps of Engineers Horsecreek Campground. I settled in on a fairly level campsite all but on the campground loop road. Fortunately, there are very few other campers here right now so I really haven’t been bothered by any traffic. I took this particular site because there are no other sites anywhere near it and it is fairly level … and level sites are pretty scarce in this campground. All the sites are primitive but there is a dump station on site, though I have yet to find any drinking water source here. Camping fee is $20/ night with a 50% senior discount making it $10. This place is probably very popular in the summer months, but with the roads up in the National Parks still intermittently closed by snow, most sites are empty right now.

Despite the very steep surrounding foothills I was able to get my rooftop satellite to lock on and surprisingly, there is a very strong Verizon signal here for some decent internet connectivity, something I have been lacking for the last several weeks.

Collapsing Arch

Collapsing Arch

Directly across the loop road from my site is a collapsing stone arch with a rubble pile of boulders below it, tumbling right down to the road’s edge.

Rock Rabbits

Rock Rabbits

And the rubble pile is home to several cottontail rabbits that are constantly hopping all over the rocks and ducking down under them every time they see the shadow of a black vulture or raven flying overhead.

Rock Rabbits

Rock Rabbits

Rock Rabbits

Rock Rabbits

Their antics are kind of fun to watch when I am stuck in the RV during the rainy days.

And speaking of rain … there has been plenty of it lately and more is forecast. I have made a couple of forays up into Sequoia National Park but can only venture in a dozen miles or so before encountering rain … or sleet … or snow … and always running into clouds ( literally ) once I get up to 3000′ elevation, and that makes any kind of photography impossible.

Spring in the Foothills of the Sierras

Spring in the Foothills of the Sierras

The entrance into the park is at about 800′ elevation and the sequoias grow at an elevation of 6000′-7000′. The morning I took the beautiful spring shots  ( above and below ) I ran into snow and ice just 12 miles into the park, probably no more than 15 miles from where these two shots were taken.

Spring in the Foothills of the Sierras

Spring in the Foothills of the Sierras

In the distance of just 15 miles of serpentine road climbing up into the park, probably no more than 8 or 10 miles as the crow flies, you go from beautiful sunny weather in the low 60’s to snow and ice and freezing temperatures … pretty amazing contrasts in weather here right now.

Kaweah River Rapids

Kaweah River Rapids

The Kaweah River runs next to the park road and there are some wonderful overlooks along the road. This is all snow melt runoff from the first good snow year in the Sierras in quite a few years.

Kaweah River

Kaweah River

Redbud Bloom

Redbud Bloom

Redbuds are in bloom from 2000′ to 4000′ elevation along the park road and when the clouds allow, they are something to see.

Redbud Bloom

Redbud Bloom

Redbud Bloom

Redbud Bloom

Redbud Bloom

Redbud Bloom

Redbud Bloom

Redbud Bloom

I have only made it up to the elevation where the sequoias grow one time so far and everything was enveloped in a very thick fog, actually a cloud I suppose, so I didn’t bother taking any shoots. But there are supposed to be a couple decent days coming this week and I am sure I will eventually make it all the way up the mountains and into the sequoia groves, so stay tuned.

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March 10, 2017 Joshua Tree National Park, California

The Desert in Bloom

The Desert in Bloom

The Desert in Bloom

BLM camping area south of Joshua Tree NP

BLM camping area south of Joshua Tree NP

I am camped just outside the south entrance to Joshua Tree NP on BLM land located along the access road to the park. Very fortunate this area is available for camping since it appears all but impossible to get a site within the park. The park campgrounds were not designed for today’s camping rigs so very few of the campsites in these campgrounds will accomodate a larger rig and the few sites that might are pretty hard to snag. I have made the run through the various campgrounds within the park hoping to luck out and snag an empty site pretty much every day I have been here but have had no luck, so I am thankful for the BLM site.

This would be a perfect spot to stay were it not so warm. There is no shade and the temps are hitting the very high 80’s every day. I even turned on the big generator and ran the AC for three hours the other day to make it through the heat of the day, I think that was the first time I have ever done that while boon docking. The other issue is the distance one has to travel across the Park to get to where the Joshua trees grow, about 40 miles from the BLM land. On the other hand, the best displays of wildflowers are all right here at the south entrance to the park just a mile away from my campsite.

Joshua Tree in Bloom

Joshua Tree in Bloom

Joshua Trees

The park’s namesake trees are a multiple branched Yucca on steroids, and many of them are in bloom at this time.

Joshua Tree in Bloom

Joshua Tree in Bloom

But I came here primarily for the desert wildflowers and for once I timed it fairly well.

The Desert in Bloom

The Desert in Bloom

The desert floor is carpeted with colorful blooms right now and the brittle bush is about ready to add to the color.

The Desert in Bloom

The Desert in Bloom

The only drawback so far has been the heat and the unrelenting wind that makes any type of closeup or macro photography impossible. But that wind that ruins my chances for any decent flower images also is the only thing that allows me to survive in my RV when the temperature comes close to hitting 90 every day. Interestingly the park info states that the average March high temperature is 70 degrees. Fortunately, when the sun sets, the temperatures do drop to very comfortable levels fairly quickly.

Looking East at Sunrise

Looking East at Sunrise

Went outside this morning to snap a shot of the colorful sunrise to the east …

Looking West at Sunrise

Looking West at Sunrise

… turned around to get back in the RV and got the full moon still out at sunrise. Just love boon docking in the desert !!

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