The CoolRVers are actually a couple of retirees, Judy and Luke Rinehimer and our 5 year old German Shepherd Dog, Miss Shady Lady. We are "extended-time" travelers with a home in Cool, California. Thanks for following along with us as we travel North America in our "rolling condo", enjoying the RV lifestyle. Your comments are always welcomed.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

California – We Have Arrived Home

We left California on our “Summer/Fall Adventure” on May 24, 2011 and arrived home on November 1, 2011 – a total of 162 days on the road, ~13,000 motorhome miles, plus ~3,000 miles more touring in the CR-V.

Our last blog detailed our trip from the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta to time around the Phoenix area.  This edition was going to be called, “California, Here We Come” and we thought it would be a pretty un-eventful last leg.  It wasn’t!  Somehow, travel stories (good and bad) are all part of the RV lifestyles.


We were not in a rush to get home so we gave ourselves a few stop-overs en route.  We have found the Elks Club in Indio, CA (near Palm Springs) is a nice day’s drive from Phoenix. When we were IMG_2841here last April, we actually had a scary moment when an older motorhome parked across from us caught fire.  We were at the right place, with the right fire extinguishers, and helped put out the fire.

When we arrived this time, we were greeted by SKP Boomer Joy Melton who we have seen many times this year in our travels (Puerta Penasca, MX; Quartzite, AZ, Indio, CA; Sturgis, SD; Gillette, WY, and Albuquerque, NM).  She was actually parked in our “favorite” spot (as seen below on our previous stay) so we pulled in next door.  Unfortunately for Joy, the adjacent plot of grass and fruit trees and been scraped and sent ants looking for food and water.  They invaded her rig and created a giant, dirty mess. (Fortunately for us, they did not make it to our site.) I was still in bronchitis recovery mode and temperatures were hot so we stayed indoors most of the time.  We did join Joy and a friend for the Sunday brunch at the Elks. 

Winds were forecast to get strong the next few days so we pulled in the slides and hit the road Monday morning.  The Palm Springs and Banning Pass area can be beautiful, but you don’t want to be around during strong winds.  The potential for windy conditions can be anticipated based on the wind farms surrounding the highways.


We do NOT like driving the motorhome through the Los Angeles area when heading north, so we have found various routes to avoid IMG_7930the traffic.  We make the trip from the Palm Springs area north a multiple day trip so local friends have introduced us to Highway 247 that takes us the back roads from Yucca Valley, Lucerne Valley, Barstow, towards Bakersfield. 

Yucca trees (aka Joshua trees) and dessert horizons were interrupted by occasional piles of rocks. Zooming in on the rocks reveal this area is popular with local graffiti artists.



Normally we would stay overnight at the Wasco, CA Elks Club, but this trip we decided to try a different park as we passed through the Bakersfield Hwy. 58 area.  I had posted on Facebook about our travel route and received a nice note from Dennis Hill inviting us to stay at their place (with hook-ups) right off Hwy. 58 & Hwy. 99.  I knew that Dennis and Carol Hill were down on their lot in Livingston, Texas so thanked them and said we’d catch them sometime when they were home. 

What I didn’t know then was that there are TWO DENNIS HILLs!!!  The Dennis (and Carol) Hill I thought I was writing to have been the second owners of the RV Driving School.  The Dennis Hill I was writing back and forth with while on Hwy. 58 was Dennis (and MaryKay) Hill.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one confused, so when this became evident on Facebook among my RV Friends, we now have new labels for each Dennis.  Dennis from Bakersfield is now FB Dennis (on left) and the other Dennis (who just sold the Driving School) will now be labeled Orange Dennis based on his favorite wardrobe (shirts, shoes, hats and wig hair color).

FB Dennis Hill

Carol and Dennis Hill

          FB Dennis Hill               Orange Dennis Hill

The Bakersfield Palms RV Resort was listed in the Escapees Discount RV Park Directory with a 15% off offer so we gave it a shot.  RV Park Reviews had posted ratings mostly in the 7-9 range, on a scale of 1-10.  There was, however, a pesky “3” that maybe we should have given more credence to:

We intended to stay for 7 nights. By the second night gang members were camped near our location and we heard two large caliber gun shots at 7:00pm. The trains were constant and many of them blasted their horns even in the middle of the night. The dog run was the worst I have ever seen not to mention the long walk to get to it. The landscaping is located in two small areas away from the actual campsites. It may be nicer for the single-day campsite except that the gunshots sounded like they came from that area. I also noticed a lot of graffiti outside of the campsite along with a sign on the outside fence of this campsite that read, "subject to flooding." I recommend that my worst enemy and all others should not camp at this site. We camped here in a Fifth Wheel.

While the overnight sites were newly upgraded, it was awkward for our 40’ motorhome to pull into the site without unhooking the car. The dog run for this end of park was “out of service” while they tried to seed the grass.  The walk at night to the other end of the park was far, dark and had lots of permanent residents sitting around in groups at picnic tables.  The kicker, for us, however, came the next morning when Luke went out to hook-up the car and discovered the interior had been ransacked.  I was the guilty one for not locking a door, but we were lucky that we could not find anything actually missing.  The culprit(s) didn’t find anything of true value but they passed on older binoculars and a couple of 12v inverters and plugs.


Nevertheless, when this happens you feel violated.  I did report the break-in to the office staff but there was no feedback nor even an apology!!!  FB Dennis did let me know that if he had known that was where we had planned to stay, he would have steered us away.  Next time, FB Dennis, we’ll listen to your recommendations.  Smile 


We obviously decided not to spend another night in Bakersfield and headed towards Fresno and then east along Hwy. 41 towards the Escapee’s Co-op “Park of the Sierra” (POS) RV Park in Coarsegold.  Unlike other Escapee affiliated parks, this park was not built on flat land in typical campground rows.  Instead, each site was uniquely carved into the rolling hillsides in the Sierra Foothills community.  The area is actually very much like the area we live in further north along the Western Slope of the Sierras. 

The members of this park have been aggressively marketing the park by offering free and discounted stays for first-timers.  Since we didn’t qualify, we didn’t think to call ahead for reservations – there has always been room for us.  NOT.  The park’s 254 spaces were either filled or reserved when we arrive and we had to settle in for a dry-camping site between the huge clubhouse and the dump station.


We booked through Friday and decided to use this as a home-base while we visited nearby Yosemite National Park. 

This park has also been upgrading their canine facilities and I appreciated the lights that have been installed at the dog run.  I had to laugh, however, that the rocky terrain within the fenced area has been covered in 50+ carpet remnants.  It looked funny, but it did make it less slippery for dogs and humans.  I don’t think I want to spend much time there on a hot afternoon. Phew…


First, we had dinner at the nearby Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino Market Buffet with SKP Boomers Barbara and Tom Westerfield and Barb’s “Mom”  who all home-base in the Fresno area.  Turns out “Mom” has been a reader of this blog throughout our travels to Alaska.  The casino restaurant was also special for the Westerfields whose son Jason had been an Executive Chef for the different venues here.  As with any RVers dinner, we found enough to talk about that kept us at the table for over three hours – and we had just seen Barb and Tom in September!  We’ll see them again in January, February and March when Barb and I partner to teach geocaching, smartphone apps, and whatever else comes up at upcoming rallies. 

During our time at POS we also enjoyed a Happy Hour visit with Mary and Rich Braughman, and {{{ SKP HUGS }}} from Kate Bright and Lynne Benjamin.  Thank you all.


Living within a day’s drive of Yosemite we always surprise ourselves that we don’t spend more time at this wonderful, majestic national resource.  The trip to the South Entrance of Yosemite is just 26 miles from Coarsegold and the park rangers didn’t even bother asking for Luke’s Golden Age Pass, as they handed us the current park guide and brochure and wished us a nice day.

IMG_7949We opted to head for Glacier Point, 16 miles off Wawona Road. This area closes from November until May, but on this day the roads were clear and traffic was fairly light. (The only congestion was at the few open outhouses!) 



Our first stop was Washburn Point that provided uninterrupted views across the top of Yosemite Valley and the tops of the various waterfalls.

Glacier Point brought us to the edge of the cliffs, looking down onto the Valley floor.  Breathtaking!

We drove the hour back to Valley floor in time to catch a late lunch and a drive back out of the park in search of fall colors.  We missed the peak of the colors, but did get to enjoy the yellows along the tree-lined roads and the views of Bridal Veil Falls, the rock climbers’ El Capitan, Half Dome and the Tunnel View area at the entrance to Yosemite Valley.

There was one more stop before we got home, but we’ll deal with it in our next blog.



hobopals said...

I have enjoyed following your travels, Judy and Luke. Enjoy your time at home. I know I would if I lived where you live!

Barbara & Tom said...

Super post - as usual. We sure enjoy the times we spend with you guys. So many laughs!

mobileer said...

Great pictures guys. Did you take the RV up there or drive? We were thinking of heading out that way from Pleasanton over the Thanksgiving Day weekend. I was wondering if the road is too twisty turny for the RV.

Judy and Luke Rinehimer said...

MOBILEER.... which road are your asking about? How large is your RV? The Glacier Point Road will be closed by now and you can get to the Valley Floor. If going to Park of the Sierra, you need to go through Fresno and the roads are fine. If going from Pleasanton to Yosemite, you can use the north route. - Judy

mobileer said...
Great pictures guys. Did you take the RV up there or drive? We were thinking of heading out that way from Pleasanton over the Thanksgiving Day weekend. I was wondering if the road is too twisty turny for the RV.

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