Thursday, April 28, 2011

Recommendation: Get this App!

If you have a smartphone - whether it's an iPhone, an Android, or a Windows-based phone, then you must get this application, if you don't already have it.  It's free.

Gas Buddy

I downloaded it this morning, and discovered it's extremely easy to use, and soooo useful.  Don and I have recently made the switch over to cash after using Shell, Conoco, Chevron, etc. credit cards for years. We liked the convenience of making once-monthly payments. But now with the prices of gas so high, we're switching to cash since we can save so much at the local Fastrip, Arco, or other nondescript station. 

This morning I paid $4.13/gallon for regular at the Fastrip, compared to $4.23/gallon at the Shell.

The app allows you to check for prices near your current location, or by town/state/zip code, including Canada. You can also update it easily, which I did for 5 different stations this morning. You can get prices for regular, premium, and ultra-premium, as well as diesel. (I can't believe it's $4.69 for diesel at Chevron today!)

I am getting no compensation for this "commercial."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Home from the Kern River

I'm writing this from home--Sunday night, April 24. We got home around 1:30 this afternoon.

Saturday was another gorgeous day in the Sierras. We got up at 6:30 and this time, since it was warmer than Friday, enjoyed our morning coffee outside. Breakfast was Apple Breakfast Stacks, and then Don headed upriver again to the Wild Trout section.

He came back early, and announced, "Got a big problem.". Since I'd heard some ticking noises in the truck on the way, my first thought was that something was wrong with the truck. But no, he showed me his waders, which had sprung a big leak. His sweatpants were soaked. He'd torn up the waders scrambling through some brush after an errant fly. We went to Kernville to the fly shop to replace the waders. (Cost of errant fly: $2.75. Cost of new waders: $162.00). And the truck's still making ticking noises.

Dinner was hamburgers and fried potatoes; again we enjoyed some of the evening before going to bed to read.

This morning we were up at 6:30 again (I don't know how he does it--no alarm clock, and he doesn't wear a watch.). We heated up the leftover breakfast quesadillas from Friday, and were out of the campground by 8:00.

We were home in plenty of time to watch our Ducks get eliminated from the hockey playoffs and also saw our Angels get shellacked by the Red Socks. We've done laundry, unpacked everything, and are now enjoying "Amazing Race."

This is one of the things I do when Don is fishing, and I don't feel like staying at the trailer. In this picture I'm cross stitching and getting my legs sunburned.

I'm going to attempt to add a map to this post:

View Weekend Trip to the Kern River in a larger map

We're now starting the countdown to our big trip. 39 Days!

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Friday at Fairview Campground

This post was written on Friday, April 22, 2011

The night was cool--temps in the 40s, but it was comfortable in the trailer. We got up at 6:30, and enjoyed our first cup of coffee inside. We tried sitting outside, but it was a breezy and a little too chilly. After a breakfast of sausage and egg quesadillas, Don headed upriver.

I sat outside with my cross stitch for a couple of hours, but it started getting a bit too warm in the sun and I didn't want to put the awning up. I put everything in the trailer and took a walk around the campground with my little notebook. Since we know we'll be coming back, I made a list of the campsites that are appealing, as well as long and wide enough, and also made note of the ones that are long enough but either sloped or too narrow. There's one that's next to the river that is my #1 favorite for next time--I'm drawn to the concept of falling asleep to the sound of the river.

Don came back around 3:00, and said he caught a few nice fish upriver. He had to hike about 2 miles to get to the river again after the trail went up high above the bank, and so he was a little tired. We sat in the shade for a while, watching the mountainside to the east. We watched a car head up a 4WD road, and wondered where the people in it were going. I hadn't brought my Sequoia National Forest Map with me on this trip, so I couldn't see if they were going up a hiking trail or not. About 2 hours later, while we were cooking dinner outside, we saw them coming down what appeared to be a trail several hundred yards above where they'd originally stopped. Then late at night (after 9), we saw their flashlights and realized they were still up there. I'm going to have to check the map when I get home and see what's up there.

We also watched a large deer climbing up the mountain, but it was just the one. That led us to talking about the Alaska Highway, and our hopes of seeing lots of wildlife along the way.

Dinner was grilled chicken, baked beans, and corn, and we sat outside another couple of hours until it started getting dark. We read in bed-- Don made it until 8:30, and I had to finish the book I was reading (Capture by Robert K Tanenbaum), so I made it 'til 10.

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Fairview Campground on the Kern River

This post was written on Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tomorrow's a school "holiday," so I took a personal day in order to have a 4-day weekend. We got up at 6, had some coffee and read the paper, and I filled the cooler. We stopped at McDonald's for a bite of breakfast, then hooked up the trailer and were on the road by 7:30.

The marine layer was pretty far inland, and we didn't rise out of the clouds until we got to the top of Cajon Pass. Then we hit gusty winds as we left Adelanto for the drive across the desert. When we stopped for gas in Inyokern, it was gusting pretty hard, but Don had filled up the water tank to give the trailer some weight so it wouldn't sway too much.

We crossed over Walker Pass and dropped down into the valley that led to Lake Isabella. When we got to our turnoff for Kernville, we were met with a giant "Road Closed" sign. That meant we'd have to go about 20 miles out of our way. We stopped for lunch at Paradise Cove, and then got to Fairview Campground around 1:30.

Fairview Campground is a Forest Service campground about 16 miles north of Kernville, right next to the Kern River. We're in site #34, and while we're not at river's edge, we can hear it since it's a big, loud river. It's about 65 degrees, sunny, and a little breezy. Lovely! Don's already geared up and is out stalking the wild (and stocked) trout.

The view north from our front door

7:00 pm:
We just got back from dinner at McNally's. All the money we saved by staying here went towards dinner! It's a very well-known steakhouse, and we each had a big meal. I had their "petite filet mignon"--it was 10 ounces. We have half of it left to make sandwiches for lunch tomorrow. Don had the ribeye, and ate every bite. The prices are pretty high, but you really can't come up here without eating at McNally's.

After dinner we drove upriver to the Johnsondale Bridge. This is where the road and the river separate--the road heads west up to Johnsondale, Camp Nelson and Giant Sequoia National Monument (different from Sequoia National Park). The river flows down from due north here, and this is where the Wild Trout section is. Just below here is a dam that separates the Wild Trout section from the rest of the river, which is stocked. The Wild Trout section has specific rules and limitations, and is accessible only by foot trail along the eastern bank. Don decided he'll come back to spend the day here tomorrow.

This is the Kern River, looking downstream from the Johnsondale Bridge.

Next to the Johnsondale Bridge, a road used to go down from the road level to the river. In addition to blocking it off at the top with a gigantic boulder, they Laid down fresh concrete and scattered it with large irregular-shaped rocks to further prevent anyone from driving down it.

We're going to sit outside for a while, then go inside and read before going to bed.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Long trip preparations

As we get closer to the trip "up north," I find myself making various changes to my normal routines. For example, today I was going through the coupon inserts in the Sunday paper, and learned I couldn't use some of the ones I normally clip because they expire while we're on the road (and I don't need them now). Later, I was getting ready to add an item to my shopping list, and realized I wouldn't need it until we returned this fall.

I'm already making a mental list of what to take from my fabric inventory--not too much, because I KNOW I'll be hitting any quilt shops we pass.

I look at the freezers, and have decided I have to get the large one downstairs emptied out so we can turn it off for the summer. Therefore, my meal planning centers around that. I plan to fill the freezer in the trailer, especially with meat, since groceries are going to be more expensive further north. Since I want to utilize local produce as much as I can while we're on the road, I need to use up some of the frozen fruit and vegetables I've accumulated. First up will be a trifle for my book club, and I'll throw in the strawberries. The blueberries will go in muffins and pancakes, and the bell peppers are probably going with me. The rest will gradually be eaten over the next few weeks.

We are taking one more short trip before the big one--we're going to the upper Kern River Thursday and will be there for 3 nights. We have a reservation at Fairview Campground (Forest Service). No hookups. But at $9 a night using Don's Senior Interagency Pass (also called America the Beautiful), it's a bargain. Don will get to fish the Kern, and I'll take a couple of good books and my cross stitch. I haven't done any cross stitching for almost a year, and have 2 nice pieces to work on. I've spent many nice hours cross stitching next to a river, and I can tell you it's one of the most soothing activities I can do.

We'll use this short trip as a "shakedown" for the long one, and make lists of things we need to do or put in the trailer before summer.

One thing I'm looking forward to is putting some more books on my nook. I've been told that I'm getting a Barnes & Noble gift card or two as retirement gifts, so deciding what titles to get will be great fun. I have plenty of paperbacks to take as well, so I don't have to worry about running out of reading material.

-----Only 31 more work days!------

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Continuing the Countdown

I now have 34 working days left. We have finalized our plans for the first part of the summer: on June 1 we're "moving into" Yucaipa Regional Park for 2 nights so we can get everything ready to go. I'll still go to work those 2 days, but having hookups (instead of having the trailer in the storage lot) will allow me to fill up the fridge and freezer. We'll be able to come back up to the house in case we forget anything.

The first month of the trip is scripted-reservations have been made.

June 3 we'll hit the road, and plan on spending the night in Alamo, Nevada.

June 4: probably Wells, Nevada.

June 5, 6, and 7: I think that we'll be ready to stop and stretch our legs for a bit, so we're going to stop at a campground in Arco, Idaho near Craters of the Moon National Monument. There are some nice hikes to take and places to see, so a 3-night stop will be good here.

June 8: Sula, Montana. We'll stay here for 6 nights. Our campsite, at the Sula Country Store and RV Campground, is 20 feet from the East Fork of the Bitterroot. It's one of Don's most favorite rivers to fish. I love the area-rugged mountains, rushing rivers, bighorn sheep, and a small (16-sites) campground that's one of my favorites.

June 14: Malmstrom Air Force Base FamCamp in Great Falls, Montana, 2 nights. Here we'll use their FREE laundry facilities and stock up at the commissary. I plan to fill the freezer and fridge since I'm sure food will get more expensive as we go further north.

June 16: Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada, 4 nights. Don's first opportunity to fish the Bow River. We'll do a little exploring of Kannanaskis Country- the beautiful mountains southwest of Calgary. We decided to forego hookups here to save a little money--since we want hookups in Banff and Jasper.

June 20: 7 nights at Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court in Banff National Park. I made the reservations the very first morning the reservation window opened.

June 27: 7 nights at Whistler's Campground in Jasper National Park.

July 4: Off into the Great Unknown! We intend to make our way to Dawson Creek and Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway, and then head north and west. We've looked at maps, the Internet, Milepost (the book), and numerous other guides and resources, and have decided NOT to decide right now where we'll stop and which routes we'll take when faced with choices. I'm sure we'll make it into the Yukon Territory, but will we make it to Alaska? Will we take the Klondike Highway to Dawson City? Will we go all the way to Fairbanks and Anchorage? Will we take the Cassiar Highway and visit Stewart and Hyder? I have no idea. We'll make those decisions when we get there.

This is going to be so fun!

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