Monday, April 13, 2009
Life on the road
This week we left SoCal and headed up to Sea Otter (Monterey, CA area). I drove the RV and pulled the pickup; Todd drove the van and scouted out spots where I could go without getting stuck. The RV cannot backup when the truck is attached because the tow bar or truck mount will be damaged. So, I am as big as a semi and cannot back up. Todd crashed in Oceanside while I got a late night start so I could avoid all traffic in LA, that backfired as they decided to close I-5 in the middle of the night and re-route traffic on side streets; I was so afraid I was going to make a wrong turn and get stuck. After getting through that there was a typical LA car chase and I ended up being in the front row of the slow rolling LA style road block (a police officer goes back and forth cross all interstate lanes doing ~ 15mph, so traffic doesn't stop but stays out of the way). I finally got through LA and stopped at the last good spot I knew of~ 3:00am, I slept in and Todd caught up with me in the morning. We always run into problems when we head to Sea Otter, the area is NOT big-rig friendly. We cannot find a place to park anywhere overnight while traveling, we are way too big for the campgrounds and the old-school RV "resort" spaces are too narrow and tight to get into for just a night. This time we figured we would make life easy while traveling to Sea Otter, forget the impossible campgrounds and just pull into a rest area or Wal-Mart overnight. Well, all the rest areas on 101 are still closed down, Wal-Mart kicked us out and sent us to the Pilot truck stop. It was the tiniest truck stop I’ve been to, no pull-through spots and what few back-in spots they had were full. I parked on the side of the road while Todd scouted for anything; usually we can find empty parking lots where the tuckers park overnight, but all we found were “no overnight parking” signs. Todd finally found a motel with a big parking lot, he went in to ask if we could park there for the night (it was already ~11:00pm) they said not unless we had a motel room. We paid for a motel room. It is amazing that there is no place for the tired traveler to pull over if they need some rest. We made sure to leave the motel at "checkout" so we wouldn't be charged another night. Once we get to the Sea Otter area, things don’t really improve. Last year we stayed at an RV resort that was crazy to get to. We had to disconnect the truck a few miles away then climb a steep narrow winding road complete with a bridge ~ 4 inches wider than our rig, and rated much lower than our 32,000 lbs, I am not sure how many low hanging trees we hit, but any on-coming traffic had to backup to the nearest driveway. Once we got there it took a few K turns to back into the spot with long term residents close on either side, we had inches to spare when we extended our slide-outs which means the doors to our storage areas could not be opened, either the hookups or trees were in the way. For this we paid the cheap rate of $60/night (full-hookup, only 30amp and no amenities). Needless to say we looked for other arrangements this year. The Sea Otter Venue is not an option as they charge $90/night (3 night minimum) to park in the paved parking lot with no electricity, water or sewer and dogs are not allowed. This year Todd found a Craig’s list advertisement, someone who had space next to their home and wanted to make a few bucks by renting it out at a very affordable rate. While this is working out well, they are very cool people, it was another steep drive up a narrow road and a very tight fit to get it. I am not sure how we will ever get out, but I was tired of trying to figure things out and just wanted my house back. Now that we are in the spot, it is great; a private, nice backyard and view. When we first arrived only 20amps was available, this is like running everything in your house, microwave, coffee maker, air conditioner, hot water heater, vacuum, washer/dryer, dishwasher, TVs, computers, etc. off of one plug. The fridge and hot water heater can also run off of propane and the stove is propane so that helps. We can run the generator and have all the power we need (50 amps), although it is really quiet we only do that when we are using an appliance and not when/where it will bother someone. Today the owner pulled a 30amp line, with our cheater box we can connect the 20 and 30 (different phases) together to get a 240V 50amp connection. For most of the day we hardly use any power but it is really nice to have it. And for those of you who don’t like the idea of running off of the diesel generator: It is much more efficient and cleaner for the environment to run the high standard generator than it is to be plugged in to shore power. The RV transmission lines are ~20 feet long and come from a high-efficiency generator that meets all kinds of emission standards. The typical home is receiving power from an out-dated, air polluting (does not meet current emission standards) coal plant located hundreds of miles away, which is neither clean nor efficient. Besides everything in the RV was designed to be small and super efficient, so we are using far less power (and water) than any home, even if you count driving the diesel rig around. just in case you wanted to know that... Not much bike stuff happening yet, things should start getting exciting on Wednesday as everyone starts arriving. Luckily we didn’t have to wait to Wednesday to see friends; we now have friends in the area. We were lucky to meet Bri and Brian at Sea Otter last year; they have given us a lot of local info. It is really nice to meet locals wherever we go and these two are awesome. Todd has already joined them for a “race”, we are using their house as our mail stop and they taught us how to play a Wii dance game. Invaluable, thanks guys!