Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Our Snowflower Adventure

Hi Friends,

How exciting are getting to explore new places and seeing new sights?

A Snowflower
So began our adventure to the Thousand Trails Snowflower Preserve in Emigrant Gap, CA. This would be the first time visiting this campground that seems to be just around the corner from home. How could we have waited so long to get here? Just about an hour and half from our driveway to the campsite, it seems like a logical choice for camping close to home. And compared to the campground at Stampede Dam, it is like night and day. Stampede was nice our first few trips out, but the lake is nearly gone now due to the drought and there is no power or water hook ups.

Tucked very neatly in the hills right off of Interstate 80, Snowflower was beautiful. Water and power hook ups with 2 dump stations available if needed and plenty of things to see and do. Once you get settled into the campground you have no idea that there is a busy interstate just a couple miles away. A couple times we could hear a distant train horn in the evening.
Our Home For The Week

Vacations are always better when you have good friends to share the experience with and this time we were joined by friends Patty and Steve for the week. We set up just steps from the beach and amazing 23 acre Snowflower Lake. What a view we had right outside our camper! Snowflower Lake is another no wake lake and that means no loud boats or jet skis. It also means smooth waters for kayaking and relaxing.

The View From Our Campsite
I decided to take a walk one day as the rest of the group relaxed at the campers. Just a short distance from the main road and a short walk down the Cisco trail I saw a beautiful big bear. It was gnawing on a old log and making quite a bit of noise. I quickly turned around and started walking the other way. I glanced back to see the bear walking across the road towards the lake. Stupid me, I was so excited to see the bear, I forgot to take any pictures. Oh well, that was cool and i won't forget the experience. The next day I talked the rest of our group into hiking the loop trail with me, but no bear sightings. Just as a note to others hiking the trail around the lake .... It is not a really easy or smooth trail. It had plenty of climbing and not too many views of the lake. It did have plenty of trees and it was a good workout.

One thing we are learning about camping is that we love camping during the week, but weekends can
be a mess. We arrived on Sunday after the weekend crowd had left and had a wonderful week. Then all hell broke loose when we neared the weekend again. What a crazy turn around it was. Our peaceful days and quiet evenings were now full of loud voices and games of washers. We listened to so many games of washers, I don't think we will ever take up that game.

We ate way too much and had so much fun that when we left we needed a vacation from our vacation just to get some rest. We played
Snowflower Lake Spillway.
shuffle board (our first time) and played pool. We even played a little ping pong in the wonderful and clean lodge (fun). The pool looked really refreshing but we ran out of time for that. We celebrated Brenda's Birthday (her 29th again) but didn't have any cake because I forgot to pack the cake pans. Ug!

Can't wait to get back to Snowflower for some more R & R soon. And with it so close to home it will be easy to make it happen.

Until Next Time...

Don & Brenda and The Critters!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Our Anniversary Camping Adventure

Hi Friends,

Ah Spring, and it is time to get out and go camping again.

As the temperatures wavered from cool to mild at home, it is usually already warming up in the Northern California Valleys.  So with a bit of Spring Fever and our Anniversary on the calendar, we were off to Lake of the Springs in Oregon House, CA for few days of rest and relaxation. Just a few miles from Marysville and Oroville, Oregon House is a wonderful oasis nestled in the foothills just off highway 20. It takes us about 3 hours to make the trip from our place in Washoe Valley so it is a quick trip.

Boy did I goof up this year. As we were nearing our exit in Nevada City, the GPS told me to turn and save time by driving via Highway 49 through Downieville. Well, I guess I learned a lesson about traveling on un familiar roads. To me it was a nice route with plenty of new sights and little towns along the way. Some looked really interesting and maybe worth a few minutes exploring, but not after having driven some really twisty roads. Oops, not a good start to the trip. Lesson learned.

Lake of the Springs at the Dam.
We arrived pretty close to the time we expected to arrive at Lake of the Springs. It was a good thing I didn't take that last short cut thru a farmers field about a mile from the park entrance... there was just no way I would have got the truck and trailer out of that road. Once we found the perfect spot, we got everything set up so we could go explore the park.  It was beautiful and with the air a bit cooler than we expected...... nothing a sweatshirt couldn't fix.

We did all the usual things we look forward to on this trip. We walked the park and the trails. Looked around for the mountain lion and sat by the lake and talked. The park was pretty full as we got closer to the weekend, with a few people just dropping off their trailers for the coming Memorial Day weekend.  As we stretched our legs and walked the trails we met some nice folks. That is one of the things we always remember about Lake of the Springs, there are so many nice people and they are happy to stop and say howdy.

Cell service is almost nil here so don't count on it to make calls. You can get a fair signal in section I
The view from our site.
and on the benches by the lodge. That suits us fine, as we don't come to talk on the phone or surf the internet.  Sure it is hard at first to not look at your phone to see if anyone has sent you a cat picture or video of a bear, but you will get over it pretty fast. I have been trying something new when we travel. I have been taking almost all of my travel photo's and videos with just my cell phone. They seem to be turning out good and it makes it so much easier to share and even make movies of our trips. I am still looking for new ways to make slide shows and such, but so far it has been fun and easy.

Our Oasis at Lake of the Springs.
We didn't get out on the lake to kayak this trip because it was just a bit too cold. Next time for sure as this is a wonderful lake to paddle. It is calm and no power boats or jet skis to compete with. We thought about taking a pontoon boat out but nixed that idea again because of the cool air and the short time we had here.

All in all it was a wonderful, but too short, trip to one of our favorite places. We will be back soon and kayak the lake and maybe finally make it out to the bakery in Oregon House we keep hearing great things about.

Until next time, enjoy every day and have wonderful adventures.

Don & Brenda and the Critters...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Thousand Trails Lake of the Springs Review

Hi Friends,

We wanted to share a quick review of the Thousand Trails preserve called Lake of the Springs, that we visited in May for our anniversary.

Lake of the Springs
We are learning about reviews of rv parks and campgrounds the more we camp and make camping plans. At first we were excited about going to Lake of the Springs for a week to celebrate 32 years of life together. The closer we came to the date, the more we worried that just maybe we had made a wrong move. After first hearing how great it was, we started reading about how run down it is and that it was less than an ideal place to camp.

Well we had a wonderful time and are happy to report back that Lake of the Springs is a beautiful place, well run and well cared for. We joined Thousand Trails and are looking forward to returning to Lake of the Springs and also to try other Thousand Trails preserves in the area.

Lake of the Springs
When we arrived it was pretty warm, about 95 degrees the first day. Our spot was in section G, a very nice loop in a grove of trees that provided a canopy keeping the temperatures down about 10 degrees or so. Sites in this section were mostly water and electric only, but that turned out to be just fine for us.
There are plenty of restroom/shower facilities available in the different loops to more than make up for not having the sewer hook up. Plus there are sewer dumps (free) as you exit the park. They also have a honey wagon service that can come by a couple days a week for a small fee. You sign up for the honey wagon at the general store.

Kayaking on Lake Mildred
We found the showers and restrooms to be clean and very well maintained.  The people that keep the restroom/shower facilities clean need to be paid much more than they make. On more than one occasion we saw where folks had made messes that were just not acceptable in any situation. Oh well some people just don't have any respect for things that don't belong to them.

We used most of the fun facilities that were offered. We tried our hand at pickelball,  rented kayaks twice and played horseshoes. We even played a little basketball. We still could have tried shuffleboard but ran short on time.  Walking around the preserve is easy with nice walkways and a posted 5 mph speed limit that is very strictly enforced.  We really were worn out by the end of our stay.

Lake of the Springs Map
Evenings it was refreshing to relax around the campsite to talk with friends and bbq. Our campsite had a picnic table and bbq to use. Then we capped of a great day with smores. The nights were amazingly dark. We don't live in a very light polluted area at home, but man was it dark at night. What a treat.

As far as where to stay ... there are so many choices. If you have to have cell phone and satellite
service, section "I" is your best bet. It has fewer trees but makes up for that by having beautiful valley views.
Section "X" is for Thousand Trails members and is an all hook up area near the pool. It was nice up behind the general store. We noticed some park models and yurts up there to rent as well.
"D" loop had pretty views of the valley but seemed to be pretty full of
seasonal or annual sites. Nice units and well cared for more like a community of annual rv'ers that live at the preserve.

From what we could tell "B" loop was mostly big rigs. Some pull thru sites in there and  bit more sun than the other sections. Probably pretty good satellite reception here too as we saw plenty of dishes scattered around.

Lake of the Springs Map
Loop "A" looked nice, more in the trees again. These spots looked busy on the weekend but empty as could be during the week. There were some deer that seemed to hang out down in "A" just about every time we past buy. Section "H" was still closed so we didn't get to check it out. It looked to be higher on the hill so it may have been more of a sunny spot.
When we were doing our planning, we could not find a park map anywhere, so we have scanned the park map and included it here.

We need to add that there is a great little general store on the property that has soft serve ice cream (yum) and just about anything you will need during the weekend. That is also where you borrow the basketballs and other sports equipment. They have a really nice club house that serves meals on the weekends and holds special events during the week. We didn't go in but it looked very nice from the outside.

If we missed anything please drop us a note and we will be glad to answer any questions you might have. Lake of the Springs really turned out to be a beautiful and fun place to camp and we are planning our return in a couple months.

Happy Camping,

Don & Bremda

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Our 32nd Anniversary Getaway

Hi Friends,

My how time seems to fly by.  It is hard to believe that it was 32 years ago that we were married,  and to celebrate we wanted to get away for a few days camping. At first we were going to visit Monterey and camp by the beach, but were excited to learn that our friends Steve and Patty were vacationing the same week. They were heading to the hills, to a preserve called Thousand Trails Lake of the Springs. So we changed our plans and made tracks for Oregon House, California.
Lake of the Springs

To say we were excited would be an understatement. Not only was this our anniversary, but it was also our first camping trip of the year. We planned and dreamed and planned some more in the months leading up to our weekend. We needed, or thought we needed,  a few things that we were missing from last years trips. So we got those little niceties like a bbq and comfy chairs, oh and nifty folding table Brenda was longing for.

The week before our adventure it snowed in Reno and rained on the Western side of the mountains, but the weatherman still promised us that our order for awesome weather was guaranteed. And as luck would have it, it was. When we got to Lake of the Springs it was 95 degrees and just as clear as could be. And it stayed clear all weekend.

Our good friends Patty and Steve had arrived a day earlier and had found us a beautiful spot under a canopy of trees. Perfect!

Kayaking on Lake Mildred
During our 5 days at Lake of the Springs we got to Kayak (our first time) and played horseshoes (haven't even picked up a horse shoe in 40 years). We also went for walks had delicious meals and enjoyed the company of good friends. We both thought Kayaking was just awesome and are talking about getting a couple kayaks for us to enjoy when we camp. We think we might want to learn how to swim too. Probably a good idea...

What a wonderful adventure this was.  We both at one time or another commented that we had just as much or more fun this weekend, than we had on any trip to Disneyland.  We can't wait for our next adventure, probably close to home in the hills by a lake. Oh, and we still have to get down to Monterey for a beach adventure. Below is a short video we made to remind us of this special weekend.

Thanks Steve and patty for sharing an amazing week with us.

Find Your Bliss,

Don & Brenda

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Progress as the Countdown Continues

Hi Friends,

Still getting things ready for our little get-a-way in May. Just a few days but we can't wait to get on the road and away from the rat race. This weekend we worked at getting the camper ready. The cover is off and she got a nice wash and wax. We have started wiping things down on the inside as well. Just making sure everything still works and there are no little leaks or hitchhikers hiding in the dark places. So far we have found nothing at all.

We are so excited, we have a countdown going on the calendar in the kitchen and we decided to add one to the blog as well. We sometimes feel like the shoppers from the old Mervyn's commercial. They were standing outside the store looking in and saying "open, open, open" over and over.

Back to work tomorrow, but we will keep doing little things at night after we get home.

www.MyVacationCountdown.com Ticker

Monday, April 07, 2014

Spring Fever

Hi Friends,

It feels like Spring in the Nevada desert finally,  and I am pretty sure that last snow storm that blew through last week was the last of the strong storms. From here on out we are hoping for Sunny skies and great camping weather. Of course more storms will come from time to time but we think they will be small ones. So it looks like it is time to uncover the camper and get her ready for some Spring and Summer fun.

Still Sleeping From Winter Rest
We have a Anniversary trip planned in May to the Lake of the Springs Campground by Marysville, but I am thinking we need to sneak away sooner. So I have been considering going just a few miles away to Virginia City. They have a little RV Park there and we can take in the rustic old town and listen to the steam train whistle.

During the Winter we picked up a few things we wanted to make our adventures more fun. I wanted (and bought) a nifty portable gas fire ring. We thought it would be fun when we visit campgrounds that don't have fire rings or that don't allow wood fires because of the fire danger. We also picked up a gravity lounger for my times of rest. Pretty sure I will be falling asleep in that from time to time.

Happy camping everyone. Let the Spring camping season begin!

Don & Brenda

Monday, March 24, 2014

RVillage .. Making The Journey More Interesting

Hi Friends,

We found this great RV community online called RVillage. It was referred to us by the Living the RV Dream Podcast.  Facebook is fine and Google+ has plenty to offer but what is so nice about RVillage is that it is specific to people that enjoy seeing the Country in RV's.

If you are so inclined and want to find new friends or just want a place to swap camping stories stop by RVillage and see what is happening. If you decide to make a spot there for yourself, be sure to friend us so we can keep in touch.