Big Rigs and Bad Roads

After enjoying an extended Labor Day weekend on the Row River, courtesy of Scott and Marcia Hicks, we prepared to leave Tuesday morning. We had everything packed, secured the property and rolled out at 10:45am with empty holding tanks and the fresh water tank full.

Our route took us south from Cottage Grove on I-5. We stopped in Medford for fuel and ate a salad Donna made for lunch, then continued south. The terrain became mountainous as we climbed through the Klamath Range in southern Oregon. I spotted elk in a meadow, including a couple of nice bulls. I always like to spot wildlife.

We crossed the California border and continued another 20 miles or so to the town of Yreka (wy-REE-kuh).  After we crossed the border, we started seeing smoke from wildfires in the distance. As we came closer to Yreka, the smoke became heavier. Our destination for the day was the WalMart in Yreka. Donna needed to buy groceries – she’d made a list of things she needed for the 21-day sugar detox program she just started. She phoned ahead to be sure we had permission to stay overnight in the parking lot.

As we exited the interstate and stopped at the traffic light, I could hardly believe my eyes. A vintage Newell pulling a long, enclosed trailer came past. I recognized it immediately and said to Donna, “That’s Clarke and Elaine.” I’ve followed Clarke’s blog for two years! We followed them into the WalMart lot. Clarke scooped me on the parking spot I wanted, but we were able to maneuver around and park 100 feet behind them in a level spot.

About 20 minutes later, I reluctantly knocked on Clarke’s door. I say reluctantly, because I knew they were probably road-weary and needed to unwind. I wanted to say “hi” and introduce myself, but I didn’t want to come off as a blog stalker. The usual RV etiquette allows for visitors when your door is open. Knocking on a closed door is generally not the thing to do. Of course, with all the smoke in the air, no one would have their door open.

So I gave a knock and Elaine opened the door. I apologized for disturbing them and introduced myself. They invited me in and we chatted for 15 or 20 minutes.

Clarke and Elaine Hockwald's 1984 Newell

Clarke and Elaine Hockwald’s 1982 Newell at the Yreka WalMart

When I returned to our coach, I started the generator and the air conditioners. It was hot and too smoky to open the windows. Donna returned with a pile of groceries. Once they were put away, she said she was going to walk down the block to Raley’s to get a few things she couldn’t find at WalMart. Raley’s is a supermarket chain found only in northern California and Nevada. Back in the day, they were a supermarket that carried just about everything – kind of like a small WalMart. Today, they are more of an upscale market with a good selection of organic and healthy gourmet food at good prices, according to Donna.

When I was in third or fourth grade, I lived in Sacramento. There was a Raley’s Supermarket about a mile away from our house. I’d heard about a pie-eating contest for kids at Raley’s on a Saturday morning. I entered the contest, thinking at the very least I would get a free cream pie! On that Saturday, I rode my Huffy bicycle to Raley’s for the contest. They had a couple of different age groups for the contest. My age group had 10 or 12 contestants. We were seated around a long, rectangular table. We were given a choice of cream pies – I remember coconut and chocolate cream pie among the choices. I went for the coconut cream pie. We had to keep our hands behind our backs and devour the pie, face down. On the start signal, I pushed my face into the pie and started swallowing it. I thought I was done and pulled my head up. The judge shook his head and pointed to some remaining filling. I lost a couple of seconds in the exchange before I finished the pie, but it didn’t matter. I won! The prize was a Raley’s gift certificate that I used to buy a pair of cowboy boots I’d had my eye on.

On Wednesday morning, we were up by 7am. The Hockwalds had already left. They were pushing to make it to Cape Blanco where they will be lighthouse hosts for the next two months. We visited Cape Blanco last fall – I posted about it here.

Our plan for the day was a longer drive than we usually do. We wanted to reach Ripon, California in the central valley about 330 miles away. My overall plan was to dry camp again, then continue south and check into an RV park in Bakersfield. This would position us close to Tehachapi, where Donna has a bicycle race on September 13th. There aren’t any RV parks in Tehachapi close enough to the race and with sites big enough for our rig. We’ve been told that we can dry camp for the weekend in the school parking lot when we get there.

We did make a stop in Corning, California –  the olive capital. In northern California, walnuts, pecans, olives and almonds are big cash crops. Corning has a few olive shops. We stopped at The Olive Pit, which has RV parking in the back. They have every olive and olive combination you can think of. I bought blue cheese – stuffed olives and Tomolives (which are really pickled olive size green tomatoes) for martinis. Donna bought Mediterranean-style olives, Cuban-style olives and anchovy-stuffed olives. She also bought walnut oil and balsamic vinegar, both locally produced.

Spoils from the Olive Pit

Spoils from The Olive Pit

South of Sacramento, we hit CA99. This road is in a sad state through many sections. I don’t understand how our elected politicians have allowed our infrastructure to deteriorate to this degree. Transportation, first with railroads, then with an interstate highway system, is what opened this country up and led to prosperity. Some of the roads we’ve traveled have been allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair, they need to be completely torn out and rebuilt. Much of CA99 needs to be replaced.

South of Stockton, we saw an overturned tractor-trailer rig blocking the northbound lanes. The northbound traffic was at a standstill for miles. I hope no one was seriously injured.

After a long day on the road, we pulled into the Pilot/Flying J travel center in Ripon. I found this place on the Internet. They advertised overnight truck and RV parking. We found a long, level parking place and backed the coach and trailer in. I asked the woman in the travel center if RVs were okay to park overnight. She said, “Absolutely, as long as you’re in a marked parking stall.”

By evening, the lot was full. I saw only one other RV, a fifth-wheel trailer. The rest were big tractor-trailer rigs. I had our coach inside the marked stall, but I had us slightly angled so I could put a bedroom slide out. If both bedroom slides are in, it’s too cramped with the full-length queen size bed. Donna would have to climb over me if she needed to get up in the night.

Running with the big dogs

Running with the big dogs

Slight angle to allow the drivers side bedroom slide to open

Parked at slight angle to allow the driver’s side bedroom slide to open

I think we stuck out like a sore thumb

I think we stuck out like a sore thumb

On Thursday morning, we were up early again. I didn’t sleep well. Truck stops are noisy places. Everyone, including us, had generators or engines running. Donna injured her eye somehow. It seems that she scratched her cornea – a painful and irritating injury. There’s not much to be done about it other than to let it heal. So she didn’t sleep well either.

We continued south on CA99, taking a real pounding at times on the rough road. We stopped at the only rest area we found on our route and had lunch outdoors at a picnic table. We finally pulled into our destination at the Bakersfield Palms RV Park where we’ll reside for the coming week. Bakersfield is a hot and dusty place. I’m wondering if I made the right choice by coming here.

Today, Donna and I will explore on the scooter and look for possible bike routes. The temperature is forecast to reach 90-plus degrees every day for the next week.

7 thoughts on “Big Rigs and Bad Roads

  1. Cheri

    Brett and I stayed there over night our very day on the road! It was 109 degrees that day. All I can say is that it was nice they had a pool that day.

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