Week 4 of our vacation 2022

Wednesday, October 19th, 2022: It was only 5:15 when I crawled out of bed this morning, so just to recap, we are at Sherwood Valley Casino in Willits California, we are moving south on US-101, with a destination of Yuma Arizona by the 28th of this month. We have travelled over 1000 miles (1600 kilometres) so far this month and we have another 850 miles (1350 kilometres) further to go. So here is the plan for this week, we will continue to explore the California coastline as far south as San Francisco, and then we will head inland to Interstate I-5 to continue our journey south.

Today we are going on an adventure, we will leave the coach at the Casino and head back to the coast. US-101 has moved away from the coast, and we are now east of the coastal mountain range as California Highway 1 is not recommended for 40 foot long motorhomes, but will be fine for the toad, along the coastal highway. A fresh perked cup of blessed coffee is first on the agenda, and we are aiming at a 9:00 departure. So after a cup of coffee, with a wee Irish blessing, and a toasted western sandwich, and we are ready to go.

We backtracked an hour north on US-101, often referred to as the Redwoods Highway to the junction of California Highway “1” referred to as the Shoreline Highway. We were greeted with a huge yellow warning sign “Motorhomes 40’ or longer are prohibited” and the next warning sign was 22 miles of curvy highway ahead, this is why we are in the toad today and not Thunder. Well the route to the coast line was in itself spectacular, and after climbing to over 2000 feet in altitude, we found ourselves descending down to the edge of the continent, just a couple of hundred feet above the shoreline rocks and the Pacific Ocean.

As we made our way along the shore line, one of our destinations was “Glass Beach”, this is located in Fort Bragg, and while it may be spectacular now, it has a very sad story as to why the area is covered with more beach glass than you can imagine. At some point in time this small town decided to just dump their garbage over the edge into the Pacific Ocean, and now the broken glass from the garbage is washing back onto shore and people are flocking to the area, to sift through someone else’s garbage. Not really as beautiful when you look at it like that, and take in the whole garbage dumping thing into consideration, but we stopped to admire the beach glass just the same, while also shaking our heads.

We also seen seals sunning themselves off the shore of Fort Bragg and at the wildlife preserve we had some ground squirrels that wanted to pose for some photos as well.

And of course there had to be a stop at a beach so Miss Laurie could go shell hunting, and she found three shells, but just picked the best one to make the journey with us.

As it was now three o’clock and we still have over an hour drive back to the coach, so we decided to call it a day, and we found California Highway “20” which took us back inland to Sherwood Valley Casino, where Mister Sam and the coach awaited our arrival, I think Mister Sam was more concerned about his dinner than his human’s, but gave up being mad at us immediately after his dinner. We settled in for a quiet night, Miss Laurie prepared tortellini with Alfredo sauce for dinner, the Wi-Fi was spotty, but we were able to watch some Food Channel shows before heading to bed at ten o’clock.

Thursday, October 20th, 2022: The Casino parking lot seemed busier than the night before, and I was awake a number of times, I actually got up for an hour or so between two and four, then went back to bed till seven o’clock. We are among the trees so we did not harvest a lot of solar yesterday, it was a bright sunny day, just too much shade. Our batteries are still above 50% and even after breakfast will still be fine. Today is a moving day and we are heading south another one hundred miles today, to an Elks Lodge in Petaluma California, we have a couple of nights booked with full hookups, and I’m thinking we may want to extend an extra night if we can. Breakfast this morning was fried eggs and toast, and of course a couple of cups of coffee, the GPS says we are less than two hours to our destination, and check in is 1:00 so there is no rush.

We were hooked up and on the move a few moments after 10:30, we never get to the destination when the GPS says we will so leaving a half an hour shouldn’t be a problem. Well today was the day that we were in almost perfect on the GPS arrival time, who would have thought it! This Elks Lodge has 18 sites, a full time camp host, it is full hook ups, with 50 amps. All sites are are back-in and sites 1 thru 8 are good for 40’ plus in length rigs, we have site “7”, the sites are paved but there is a grassy common area behind the coaches, in fact I’m sitting on that grassy area now enjoying a beverage and working on this blog. Now you may be wondering why we are staying in Petaluma California, well it’s actually quite simple, this location is 40 miles north of San Francisco, and we want to explore a bit of San Francisco, we are also about 40 miles from the shoreline and we want to take another day on the coast before turning inland. So why here, that is even simpler, $35/ night with full hookups here in Petaluma or $120 to $140 for a parking lot in San Francisco with partial hookups. I picked the $35 option and I’m ok with the little extra drive.

Once we got set up in our site we just kicked back for the rest of the day, I even succeeded to catch an hour long nap with Mister Sam on the big bed, as the afternoon passed we decided to add an extra day here, then the debate turned to what to explore what day, we have been blessed with weather so far on this trip and we are hoping the next two days will be the same. Miss Laurie prepared some sausage in the air fryer for dinner, and we settled in for a quiet night, and turned in early to be rested for tomorrow.

Friday, October 21st, 2022: Today we are going to San Francisco, and we are hoping for a clear day, to see the sights, we are aiming for an early start, but not so early as to get caught up in rush hour traffic. Bacon and eggs this morning with a cup of our special coffee and we are ready to head off to the big city with a number of items on our what to see list.

Traffic was not too bad, although we did encounter some construction on the way, we were headed south on US-101 which will take us across the Golden Gate Bridge, into the city, the bridge is an amazing structure, but far prettier when photographed from the side. We crossed it with some marine layer obstructing the full view, but still was a memorable event. Once in the city we had to experience Lombard Street, that is the iconic block long stretch that is very steep and has seven hairpin turns, we had to do it twice, once with Miss Laurie in the toad and a second time with Miss Laurie snapping some photos. We are easy to pick out with the kayaks on the roof of the toad.

Next on our list of must do’s was Pier 39 at the wharf, a view of Alcatraz prison on the island, a tour of the shops and restaurants, and of course the sea lions, which were both noisy and smelly, but still drew a big crowd of people, we walked along the wharf and seen the vendors hocking their wares, we smelt the street tacos as we passed, and finished off the experience with a sourdough bread bowl of a clam bisque, at Boudin’s, I debated on the clam chowder but I was hoping for clam chowder tomorrow. We had been lucky enough to score parking right at the wharf and it was only $30 for our time there.

Next was Ghirardelli Square, for a sundae for desert, this was on Miss Laurie’s wish list as soon as we mentioned going to San Francisco, and we were able to find 4 hour parking for free only a block away. We had the hot fudge / sea salted caramel sundae, it was pretty darn good, and then we wandered around the square checking the shops. Before we headed another block over to see the famous cable cars on Hyde Street, and completed our walk with a stroll along the bay front, then heading back to the toad.

We only had one more stop on the list for San Francisco, and that was at Fort Point which is located under the Golden Gate Bridge and is a great viewing point for the bridge, we were entertained by a group of surfers, kite boarders, and some type of hydro boarders playing in the bay waters, before venturing back across the bridge and heading back to the coach.

We managed to get back shortly after five o’clock, feeling that we had experienced a small but good taste of San Francisco, a little disappointed that it had been overcast most of the day, but also pretty much exhausted from our day of exploration. Miss Laurie warmed up a couple of our precooked burgers for dinner, we had a couple of adult beverages, and watched some television until bed time.

Saturday, October 22nd, 2022: It was near seven when I rolled out of bed this morning, I had slept well, exhaustion from the previous day was a contributing factor I’m sure. We are planning a later start today, we are heading back to the coastline today, we have a number of items on todays list of things to do or see, it is a shorter list today but it involves more driving between stops today. Miss Laurie made pancakes this morning for breakfast, and of course there was a cup of that fresh perked coffee as well.

Of course just to add to the fun, the fact that we have to change sites today, we had to move from site 7 to site 4, not a big deal, and just one of the problems of trying to extend a stay on a weekend, as our site was pre-booked by the next visitor, but other than that little work, not really a big deal.

We were back on the road by 10:30, we are headed to Bodega Bay, and the main reason was for the “Spud Point Crab Company” and their award winning clam chowder at a little take-out spot there. We were only around forty miles away, but none of the roads near the coast are either straight or flat so it took us just over an hour, and the clam chowder was as good as advertised, and worth the drive, from here we are headed south on California #1, to “Point Reyes National Marine Seashore”.

Point Reyes National Seashore is a huge preserve covering 71,028 acres, with many different areas of interest, hiking, camping, the beach, wild life, and the list goes on. Today we had four areas that we were hoping to experience the first is a small boat that was a ship wreck. It is strictly a photo opportunity, and has been kept in place only for that purpose, we stopped to snap a photo as many others stopped as well

Next was a tree lined lane to a abandoned RCA/Marconi wireless communication station, the base is closed and the again this tree lined entrance lane has become a very popular photo opportunity as well, so now number two on our list is in the books.

Number three was the lighthouse in the southwest tip in the peninsula, by now the wind is howling as we climb the hill to the lighthouse location. It is easier to understand why the trees look the way they do after experiencing the wind today. The thirty story staircase down to the lighthouse was closed because of the wind, not that I was going to take on the 313 steps if it was open, but this wind was making even just walking difficult enough. We snapped some photos from the observation deck, and also of some of the wildlife that we observed in the area. We observed the “Tule Elk” which are endemic to California, as we drove from the lighthouse to Drakes beach. This area is a good whale watching area, but not with the winds today.

Our last item was to get a photo of “elephant seals” on Drake Beach, which is a regular spot that they are observed, there are two ways to observe them, either hiking chimney rock or on Drakes beach, the hike was out today because of the wind. So our fourth item didn’t come together today, and as disappointed as we were, it has been an amazing couple of days, so a couple of snapshots and a video of the wind blown beach.

Next we started the trek back to the the coach and Mister Sam, again a thirty mile drive that took the best part of an hour. We actually seen two vehicles today in the ditch on their side, I’m thinking it was just poor driving as opposed to the wind. It will nice to get on some flat straight highway for a change, as driving has been an actual been quite tiring over the last couple of weeks.

Miss Laurie prepared a chicken dinner, as we caught up on some of the happenings of the group heading to the Baja, there was an explanatory YouTube video on expectations, as well as some informative information in our preparation process. We watched some television before heading to bed near ten o’clock.

Sunday, October 23rd, 2022: And I was awake way too early this morning, it was five o’clock when I rolled out of bed, maybe I was just excited to resume our push our way south a little further, or maybe it was just the call of nature thing, but either way it was an early start. So we are aiming to be hooked up and on the road by nine o’clock, we are going to move south on US-101, then catch I-580 over through Berkeley CA the onto I-880 through Oakland CA, then back onto I-580 to finally hook up with I-5 toward Fresno CA. And then once back on I-5 we are going to find a fuel stop that is part of the “Open Roads” program. But for now a cup of coffee, followed by a cheese omelet, and a second cup of coffee, then a quick shower while we are still on full hookups and we are preparing to pull out.

9:10 and we are pulling out of the Elks Lodge parking lot, my thinking is that Sunday morning and early, we should have a reasonably quiet drive as we move away the San Francisco area and work our way east to the Fresno Valley. The drive started off well but some where along the way on a stretch of eight lane highway with a 55 mph speed limit some brain surgeon was able to roll his vehicle a number of times and bring traffic to a crawl so now eight lanes were jammed into two. I mean it’s a beautiful sunny day, how does this happen? What we did notice and comment on was the amount of garbage was along the sides of these highways, and this after commenting on how clean San Francisco had been, and the garbage continued well out of the metropolitan area.

We made it to the fuel stop very near the noon hour, and was lucky enough to get a very slow pump, which is a blessing and a curse, Thunder is a slow filling creature, but this pump seemed real slow and just 50 gallons (190 liters) later we jumped back on I-5, but we are only going down the road another 10 miles today to a small town Los Banos CA and the Elks Lodge there. We have covered 166 miles (267 kilometers) today, and that is the maximum distance we aim to cover each travel day. This little Lodge has no hook-ups and we are just parked in their parking lot, but the Lodge closed today a 3:00 so it is not an issue, there is an event happening across the street with lots of Mexican music, so maybe a warm up for the upcoming Mexico trip.

Miss Laurie warmed up some Taco soup in keeping with the Mexican theme, I have been catching up on this blog, and we caught up on some YouTube videos before turning in near ten o’clock and that was near the time that the music came to an end as well.

Monday, October 24th, 2022: Today is another way too early start to my day, and it was definitely not from excitement of our travels, if you understand what I’m saying. Today will be a fairly easy day, as we head south on Interstate 5 toward Bakersfield CA, and yes to another Elks Lodge located there. Some where along this journey I had not added fresh water to our tank, and we have ran out of water, it’s not a big deal, it just means it will be a toast & coffee morning, as we can not wash the dishes, we are aiming at a nine o’clock start again today.

Well we did get on the road a few moments after nine, we worked our way back to I-5 south and I set the cruise on Thunder at 58 mph, here in California the speed limits vary for different vehicles. So the speed limit is 70 mph, but trucks and vehicles towing, the speed limit is 55 mph, and yes it does cause some issues, but let’s just say that at 58 mph, which is technically speeding, I was able to just settle into the right lane and cruise south. I was able to cruise along for almost 100 miles (160 kilometers) without ever having to adjust it. That doesn’t happen often or maybe ever so let’s talk about California, the state of California is the third largest state, it is the heaviest populated state, and has multiple geographical areas, from the Redwoods of the northern area, to the deserts of the southern area, and mountain peaks of over 14,000 feet (4367 meters) above sea level, to the desert of Death Valley at 275 feet (83 meters) below sea level.

We will still be in California for a couple of days, but so far we have wound our way through the Redwoods, then near Willits, we found ourselves in a valley of farm land, the north of San Francisco we had rolling hills of vineyards as far as we can see. After the metropolitan area of San Francisco we headed inland through a maze of highways to the Fresno Valley area, a huge valley of farming areas, fruit and nut orchards everywhere, by the time we made it close to Bakersfield we were in gentle rolling hills, and as we exit I-5 we drive through orchards, garden crops, fields of flower, then into oil country with oil wells pumping everywhere.

Well we arrived at the Elks Lodge in Bakersfield CA just before one o’clock, and yes I know we could cover a lot more distance each day, but we don’t need to so why bother. Today we moved 177 miles (284 kilometers) and was driving under four hours, we have made it 1600 miles (2575 kilometers) so far this month and are now under the 500 mile (800 kilometers) to our destination of Yuma AZ, witch is our ending point for this month. We have taken on some fresh water, but did not elect to use their power, This is a big Elks Lodge, but has not made much effort to maximize the RV portion and we just parked on the side of the building. Lots of road noise, multiple sirens through out the night has this being one of the worst Elks stays, but there was no charge for dry camping for the night, so that was a plus.

Dinner tonight was chicken, peas, and rice. We caught up on some Ontario news, before filling the evening with some YouTube videos and some episodes on HGTV, before turning in near ten o’clock.

Tuesday, October 25th, 2022: And it is another early morning for me, so some catch up time on this blog, not many photos to show for the last few days of travel, but the last few days have been uneventful which is good thing while traveling, but it can make for bit of a boring blog. Our departure time today is around ten o’clock, we are only going to Barstow CA which is only roughly 125 miles (200 kilometers) after a fuel stop here at Bakersfield, hopefully the last fuel stop in California, and we are starting into the mountains as we move east. Breakfast was fried eggs and toast and of course the cup of coffee with a wee touch of Irish Cream, so I will be hooking up the toad shortly, as we get ready for todays adventure.

10:10 and we are pulling out of the Elks Lodge, our destination for today is a “Harvest Host” location “Peggy Sue’s Diner” at Barstow CA. We need to fuel one more time in California so I have picked a fuel stop from our “Open Roads” app less than twenty minutes from here we are pulling up to the fuel pump of a “Speedway Fuel Station“, this app has been a blessing when looking at pump prices for fuel as high as $7.19 here in California. It should be another three hour travel day as we tick off another 140 miles (225 kilometers) on our trek to Yuma Arizona. I was not feeling the best today so we stopped for a couple of hours at a rest stop on California highway 58, that is the beauty of moving more slowly, a couple of hours doesn’t effect most of our days in any way.

We pulled into “Peggy Sue’s Diner” at 3:10 and tucked ourselves on the edge of the parking lot behind another motor home, and while if I was feeling better we would have had dinner in the diner, we have decided to have breakfast tomorrow morning in the diner. We are not expecting a quiet night as we are located close to I-15 which runs from Los Angles to Los Vegas and is a main supply artery to Vegas. But a free camping spot is a free camping spot, and it will be better than some of the other options or choices. Dinner tonight will be Tacos as it is Taco Tuesday, and as we catch up on the Canadian news, is is good to see snow in the prairie provinces, and some of the ski slopes getting their first snow as well, while we are experiencing nothing but warmth and sunshine as we enjoy the beauty of the desert and the mountains, the rest of the night was spent just watching some television, as we prepare for our final push to Yuma.

Stay strong, be smart & be careful!

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Day 1848

Open Roads?

So what the heck is “Open Roads”?

So to keep this as simple as possible, because “Open Roads” has evolved over time. But here is how I like to explain it to friends, it is a direct payment card that is attached directly to your bank account similar to a “Debit Card”. There are numerous stations on the program and the discount varies from station to station and from brand to brand.

It is a fuel purchasing group of RVer’s, that can provide very large saving for purchasing diesel fuel. I have spoke about this program before, and it is worthy of another few words.

This screenshot shows the “Open Roads” app opened up to the fuel map, I have mine set to a 100 mile radius from my location. The app has brought up 14 fuel stations, now I can adjust the map size to find the station closest to my projected route.

This screenshot shows the closest station to my route.

With this screenshot I can check the present station discount.

There are a number of things to watch on these screenshots, first is the price that is going to show up on the fuel pump ($6.599), then the price that will actually be charged ($5.260). So that is a savings of $1.339 per gallon, but before you count all your savings there are some other cost’s involved, so always check the transaction fee, in this case it is $0.65, then the logistics company that does all the work behind the scenes takes 1% of the savings, that does not show up on this screen, but it is the same percentage for every transaction. And always check the date in the bottom corner, as to when the price was last confirmed, looks like a great savings so we will be fueling there tomorrow as we pull out of Bakersfield.

A couple of things to remember, this for diesel only at this point, to get the savings you must go through the big truck lanes out back, and they are not a clean and as pretty as are most of the pumps out front. Depending on your coach or truck you may need to use the satellite fuel pump, all truck stops have pumps on both sides of the fuel lane. You might wonder why? It is quite simple most highway transports have fuel tanks on both sides, and they carry a lot of fuel, so a driver can fill both tanks at the same time on the same transaction, and lots of these trucks carry 3 to 5 hundred gallons so tanks on both sides, keeps the truck balanced. With our coach the filler is on the passenger side, which requires the use of satellite pump, but to get the satellite pump to dispense fuel you must start the main pump. I just lay the nozzle down at the pump and carry on. Oh yea by the way there is no information on the satellite pump, that’s all on the main pump. The bonus is the pump does not kick off at a set amount so you can put three of four hundred dollars of fuel in on one transaction.

I have learnt that there is never any paper in any of the truck pumps, so if you want a receipt your going to need to go in and wait in the line with all the rest. I have started just snapping photos of the pump price, and the total amount of dollars and gallons. Also remember these are high volume pumps so there can be some splash back, there will be diesel fuel on everything in the fuel lanes, so I recommend gloves, and be careful not to track spilt fuel into your unit.

The Savings and the Benefits out way the inconvenience, you finish up and get back on the road and now the logistics company does their thing and the next day you get a transaction receipt with the pump cost for fuel, the transaction fee, the 1% sur charge, and finally the debit from your bank account. I have blown up the transaction report to show what has transpired from our fuel purchase.

This screenshot shows the price on the pump this morning when I stopped to fuel the coach. But behind all that dust the price per gallon is $6.599 just as indicated on app from the above screen shot.

This screenshot shows the total amount of fuel I purchased today with the gallons. Again not a pretty photo but it shows $315.60 total purchase for 47.825 gallons

Now you can see by the photos, that when I said the truck fuel lanes were not pretty, I was not kidding, but this is all about the savings, and the proof is in the final charge for the purchase.

This screen shot is of the PDF that I received by email the next day, and it has a lot of numbers that seem to repeat. But the line you need to be aware of is the actual amount of the draft from your account.

So the net pay line shows:

Pump price: $315.60

Transaction Fee: $0.65

1% Surcharge: $6.22

Bank Draft: $260.25

Savings: $55.35

The bottom line is that I saved $55.35 from the actual pump price. And yes the logistics company made a few dollars on the way through, but my true cost per gallon for this purchase was $5.33 which is a savings of $1.2687 per gallon. I watch people rush in to pay cash to save 10¢ per gallon from the credit/debit price, this is so much better and easier, I have been asked how can there be savings like this, and my answer is I don’t know or care as long as I can enjoy the savings!

But I’m sure much of it is from volume, lets face it did you expect those big transportation companies were paying the same price as you and me? I just feel that this levels the playing field and if the logistics company is willing to offer and provide this service, I will continue take advantage of it.

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