Stuck in Lodi Again, RVing in California’s ‘Other’ Wine Country
Vineyards and Oak Trees at Jessie's Grove Winery

Stuck in Lodi Again, RVing in California’s ‘Other’ Wine Country

When you hear 'Wine Country', the first thing that probably comes to mind is Napa, or possibly Sonoma, the two most popular winemaking regions in California. When we were planning this leg of our trip we were hit with the reality that we really couldn't afford camping at $60 or $70 per night most campgrounds in those areas charge. Luckily, California offers a cheaper, more casual, less uptight alternative to the crowds of Napa in areas like Lodi, Merced, and Lake County. Yeah I know I was hard on the Central Valley in my previous posts, but there is one good reason to visit. Wine. And what better way to tour California's 'other' wine country than to actually stay at the winery itself? You can't do that in Napa! Using our Harvest Hosts member benefits, we were able to stay at four different California wineries for free. Yes, that's right FREE! While the camping was free, the nightly…

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Sierra Nevada Pale People: the Scott Family Visits Alabama Hills, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks
Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View

Sierra Nevada Pale People: the Scott Family Visits Alabama Hills, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks

Joshua Tree... check. Death Valley... check. Next on the list of California's Gold was the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Specifically the Alabama Hills, Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, and Yosemite. Our first stop would be Lone Pine California, the gateway to the Alabama Hills, and Mount Whitney. Diaz Lake Campground Looking Towards the High Sierras. The drive from Death Valley to Lone Pine was a little dicey. First, we had to climb out of the valley. There were frequent roadside water spigots for the expressed purpose of refilling overheated radiators (nice blast from the past). There were also signs warning against the use of air conditioning in order to prevent engine overheating. I figured I'd better obey if for no other reason than to prevent an 'I told you so' moment later. It was a hot, white-knuckled, climb out of Death Valley followed by a cooler but even more white-knuckled decent into the Owens Valley. Our Leprechaun…

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Death Valley, Unexpected.
Not what I expected from Death Valley

Death Valley, Unexpected.

Back home in Colorado, there's a town called Greeley. Whether deserved or not Greeley is known as sort of a dump. The constant smell of cattle feces from the neighboring feedlot doesn't help. A while ago, Greeley came up with the somewhat odd marketing slogan "Greeley Unexpected". It implies: "We know you think we're a dump, but hey give us a chance, we've got award-winning tap water!". Much like Greeley, Death Valley has a dubious reputation. I remember watching TV as a kid and seeing the standard Death Valley tropes. Wile E Coyote crawls on the ground dying of thirst. Guy hallucinates about the imaginary oasis on the horizon. But hey, if Greeley deserves a second look, why not Death Valley? After leaving Joshua Tree, we made our way to the hottest place on earth, the lowest place in North America, and somewhere I never expected to visit, Death Valley National Park. Following a brief overnight stop in…

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California… Knows How to Party: Amboy Crater, Joshua Tree, and Palm Springs
Desert Scenery around Joshua Tree California

California… Knows How to Party: Amboy Crater, Joshua Tree, and Palm Springs

We left Arizona behind just as our first month of full-time RVing also came to an end. I've gotta say it felt longer than a month. Overall we did pretty well. We were only slightly over budget and had no major breakdowns or mechanical issues. We're getting used to limited showers, and having to conserve electricity and water. I'm not yet to the point where I miss working. Not even a little. I knew Snoopy's brother Spike lived in Needles, CA, didn't know he lived inside Subway though. Up next we start our tour of California, beginning with the areas around Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park. Jackie's mom came out to visit for a week and rented a house in the city of Joshua Tree. On the way to Joshua Tree, we made a quick overnight stop at Amboy Crater. Amboy Crater is an extinct volcano just off Route 66 in the middle of the Mohave…

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Spring Break 2019! Camping Quartzsite and Lake Havasu
Wildflowers at our Dome Rock Camp Site in Quartzsite Arizona.

Spring Break 2019! Camping Quartzsite and Lake Havasu

We left the Phoenix metroplex ready to ditch the traffic and overcrowding, at least for a little while. Our next destination was the boondocking mecca of Quartzsite Arizona, and it certainly was a change of pace. Apparently, Quartzsite camping areas can get extremely busy in the winter due to snowbird RVers taking advantage of the plethora of free BLM camping in the area. We were there for the same reason, with a plan to spend a few free nights living off our recently filled/emptied water tanks, and then move on to Lake Havasu to quench our thirst for some water in the desert. We had researched camping areas on campendium (our favorite online resource to find camp sites), and found Dome Rock Mountain 14 day BLM camping area. Although we weren't sure what to expect, it turned out to be the perfect spot. There were some campers there, but not too many and there were plenty of spaces…

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Gear Review – Coachmen Leprechaun 21QB, Does it Work for Full-Timing?
Coachmen Leprechaun 21QB Boodocking in Quartzite Arizona

Gear Review – Coachmen Leprechaun 21QB, Does it Work for Full-Timing?

It’s our first RV gear review, and what better piece of gear to review than the RV itself. When we first started toying with the idea of taking some time away from work to travel the country in an RV we had no idea what kind of RV we actually wanted. In fact, we knew nothing about RVs other than Jackie’s childhood experiences camping in a pull-behind trailer. This option was off the table pretty much from the start due to Jackie’s fear that our marriage would end over backing into campsites. I thought a trailer might be an ok idea due to the lower cost compared to other RV types. When I researched further, I came to the conclusion that we’d also have to buy a truck to pull anything but a tiny trailer. Trucks are expensive, and as much as I’d love a new truck it just wasn’t in the budget. Over the next year we…

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How to RV Camp in Phoenix (With Kids) On The Cheap
Pleasant View Harbor as viewed from Pleasant View RV Resort. A surprisingly cheap option for Phoenix area camping.

How to RV Camp in Phoenix (With Kids) On The Cheap

We knew lodging was going to be a challenge for the Phoenix/Scottsdale portion of our trip. It was mid-March so we had to contend with snowbirds, spring breakers, and MLB spring training attendees (yes that's a real thing, I can't imagine anything more boring). State park campgrounds around the metro area were all completely booked. In addition, many if not most of the RV parks are either 55+ or don't allow kids. Even if we could find a spot in an RV park it would have been cost prohibitive. Our experiment with casino camping in Tucson was such a success we decided to continue the streak in Phoenix. After all, casino camping is free (usually), and we're on a fixed income dammit! We scoped out a few promising leads and decided to try the Desert Diamond Casino in Glendale. We weren't sure what to expect, or if camping was even allowed, but we arrived to find a nice…

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Tucson, Lots of Saguaros and Some Other Stuff
A many-armed saguaro cactus

Tucson, Lots of Saguaros and Some Other Stuff

This week our travels took us to Tucson Arizona, I was not sure what to expect other than a lot of cacti. It did not disappoint on that count. The drive was an easy couple hours of interstate from our last home in Willcox. We had decided to stay in the Casino Del Sol parking lot. I was a little nervous that RV parking would be prohibited or frowned upon, but I was proven wrong. Overnight RV Parking Area of Casino Del Sol We arrived to find hundreds of RVs covering the entirety of the back parking area. This made me happy because nothing beats free camping. Jackie wanted to spend a fair amount of time in Tucson which was an easy sell for me, considering it was costing me nothing and I'm a huge cheapskate. Of course, our stay wasn't free with the cost of sightseeing, but that was money that would have been spent anyway, and…

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Wild West Arizona – Willcox and Chiricahua National Monument
Walking through the rocks of Chiricahua National Monument

Wild West Arizona – Willcox and Chiricahua National Monument

New Mexico was a blast but like all good things, the New Mexico portion of our trip had to come to an end. As we bid adieu to New Mexico we said hello to Arizona. Our first stop was the small town of Willcox, a sleepy cowtown, bordering on ghost town. It seems like Willcox has seen better days. Still, I found it quite charming in a "Hey Dude" sort of way. Downtown Willcox, desert wholesome After four nights of being disconnected from hookups, we were in need of a good battery charge, water fill-up, showers, and dumping services. We decided to stay at the Cattlerest RV Park which featured it's very own western style saloon. After arriving, I approached the dimly lit bar to inquire about site availability. Upon entering, I realized I couldn't see anything due to the previously mentioned dim lighting and the fact that I only had my prescription sunglasses. Considering the fact that…

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Alamogordo to Deming – By way of Aguirre Springs
Aguirre Springs Campsite

Alamogordo to Deming – By way of Aguirre Springs

The full hookup convenience of our RV park in Alamogordo was nice and all, but what we really needed was something a little more rustic (think cheaper). We ended up in Aguirre Springs campground, just east of Las Cruces and it did not disappoint. For a mere $7 per night, we got one of the most beautiful campgrounds we've ever frequented. In-between Alamogordo and Las Cruces New Mexico lie the Organ Mountains, a rugged range made up of canyons, woodlands, springs, and rocky spires resembling the pipes of an organ. The Aguirre Springs campground is a BLM administered site nestled on the eastern slopes of the Organ Mountains. https://youtu.be/x6QttAI-Xm4 Alamogordo to Las Cruces with a stop at Aguirre Springs Campground The tiny cover charge gained us access to a campsite with a garbage can, a covered picnic table, a charcoal grill, and a fire pit. Quite a bargain, although considered "dry camping" due to the lack of water,…

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