Liberty Glen Campground – Lake Sonoma

For my first 2-night sleepaway in Ramsey, the dogs and I headed 1.45 minutes north to Lake Sonoma. Because of the usual backup between Novato and Petaluma, Google Maps took us through the cow farms west of Highway 101 – gorgeous. I love the black and white cows. Jerseys? We emerged from the detour in downtown Petaluma, then continued through Sonoma County’s equally gorgeous and serene wine country.

DriveThruVineyards

Since I don’t drink wine, I wasn’t tempted by the wineries offering tastings. But I did stop for a look-see at the Dry Creek General Store – Est. 1881. I purchased some crackers and some spread made of walnuts and pomegranate, for a cocktail hour later.

DryCreekGenStore

Lake Sonoma is the result of a dam, which is the first thing you see from the vineyard lined highway. After driving over the dirt covered dam and through some hills, you come to a full vista of the lake.

LakeSonomaBridge

I knew from Recreation.gov’s website, where I’d made my reservation, that Liberty Glen Campground (run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) is not on the lake. It is in the hills to the left of the above photo.

LibertyGlenCmpGd

You can only see the sign as you exit the campground, not as you approach it, which is when I needed to know if I was in the right place. But since Google told me I had arrived at my destination, I turned into what appeared to be a driveway, followed the switchbacks into the valley, and eventually reached the gatehouse.

LibertyGlenEntrance

LakeSonomaHeader

In the photo above, I am looking down on the campground from the road that leads to it.

I also knew from the website that Liberty Glen has no water at the moment. It was perhaps 10% occupied if that and hence available, whereas the other campgrounds within two hours from home were not. The ranger told me to drive around the three loops and pick a spot, then return and report my decision. I chose a hilltop with the view seen in the feature photograph above that was on the opposite side of the campground from several large groups with packs of dogs.

For my first time, I needed to level Ramsey. I placed my bubble level on the fridge shelf, as my manual told me to do. Ramsey was leaning to the left. So I tucked a few of my lego-like leveling blocks behind the left tires and drove backward until my tires were on top of them. The bubble in my level had moved within the two center circles.

LevelingRamsey

Good enough. I turned on the LP (liquid propane), switched my fridge from electric to propane (and lit it), and set out a table and chair overlooking the valley. Time for cocktail hour and a good book.

CoctailHour

During the next two days, the dogs and I took several walks around the campground. Basil, the Norwich Terrier, is a burr magnet, so we avoided the trails. Those beautiful golden hills are, at close look, a mass of burrs of every shape and size.

WalkwayLibertyGlen

RamseyLibertyGlen

This was true dry-camping, aka boondocking, since we had no electric, water, or sewer hookups. I didn’t even have a cell connection – perfect conditions for forgetting the troubles of the real world to sleep and eat in quiet. The $25/night paid for a locked campground where I felt very safe.

Mid-day Saturday we took a jaunt into the nearby town of Geyserville for a touristy look around.  You can see the whole town center in this photograph.

Geyserville

Since I had already had lunch in Ramsey, I purchased a café latte at the coffee shop to justify sitting at its outdoor table to watch the world go by. Everyone was dog-friendly and patted Basil and Annie as they passed – so they were happy. I also wanted to check my email and messages because my two-month-old grandson was suffering from his first cold and I wanted to make sure he was OK, which he was.

The next two trips I have planned are simple visits to friends that I seldom see because they live too far away to allow for going out to dinner or lunch – one in Santa Rosa and one in Sebastopol. I will park Ramsey on the street in front of their houses for the night. We’ll see how that goes.

MapLakeSonoma

 

 

Backyard Farming

Since I need to pay Marin County’s steep taxes to stay in my house, why not make the land pay for itself a wee bit. Artichokes have been growing in my garden since I moved here 12 years ago. The drought did a number on my normally prolific lemon tree, but it seems to be recovering since the rains. Tomatoes like it here, too.

This year I added lettuce, snap peas, kale, Swiss chard, and beans. I’m growing them hydroponically in a Tower Garden by Juice+. I bought the tower for my son and his wife for Christmas. His response, “I only grow flowers, Mom, nothing edible. Bugs!”

So the Tower Garden moved to my patio. Early April I planted some of the seeds that came with the apparatus. Juice+ provided a wool seed-womb. Two weeks later, on April 30, 2017, the sprouts looked like this.

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A few days later:

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On March 1, I planted the seedlings into the tower.

On May 6, the garden looked like this.

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And today, June 7, it looks like this.

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The chard isn’t faring well. But the kale, lettuces, snap peas and beans are thriving.

TG_3815_6-7-17-combo

A cord runs from the tower under my garage door to an outlet with a timer. I filled the base of the tower with 20 gallons of water and the nutrients Juice+ provided. A pump inside the base pumps water up the center of the tower. The water then trickles down through holes to fall on the roots that grow inward from the seedlings that I planted in the cubbies. There is no dirt involved. You can check out Juice+’s website if you want a detailed diagram.

At first, I only needed to add water and more nutrients every other week. With the hot weather and larger, thirstier plants, I add water every five days or so. It takes about 5 more minutes to check the ph. Juice+ provided what I needed to take those measurement, too.

One lesson learned. I thought I was being very green one day by topping my tub with leftover bath water. The only soap I use is Dove. I took a ph reading and the number had plummeted. Bad idea.

TG_3821_6-7-17-combo

Here is a photo of the greens I will chill for lunch.

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A green “bon appetit.”

 

 

 

 

Monterey – Marina Dunes

 

After three days of packing the car for our first sleep-away in my new 21-foot PleasureWay Lexor, my dogs and I were ready to head out.

DogsReady

We drove 2.5 hours to Marina Dunes RV Park 20 minutes north of Monterey. Marina Dunes is a tidy, small park. Beggars can’t be choosers. I took the only spot available on such short notice. Just big enough for my relatively tiny rig, I shared a campfire pit and picnic table with four neighbors who all backed up to the same circle center. I wouldn’t need either the pit or the table. The pricey $77/night fee, including taxes, provided water and 30 amp electric, but no sewer hook-up. (There were sewer hook-ups for the larger spots.) Cars whizzed along the freeway to the east. But hey, this trip was meant to be a practice trip. Ice-plant covered sand dunes spread to the west promising the dogs and me a walk along the beach.

According to my bubble level, I didn’t need to try out my new leveling blocks. I plugged in the electric, passed on the water, since I didn’t have a water pressure valve yet, and changed into something warmer to head to the beach. The walk down the sandy trail would take about 15 minutes if you didn’t have a corgi who wanted to sniff every stick and pebble and a male Norwich Terrier who didn’t want to mark every post along the way.

I assume the RV park’s hefty price tag is for the privilege of walking California’s gorgeous coastline. The crashing waves and soaring seagulls reminded me why I wanted to get away from my computer desk and out into the fresh air.

I cooked my first meal on my propane stove. I learned that I need to pack fewer pots and pans because they get in the way and to turn on the Fantastic Fan before frying salmon or I will set off the smoke alarm. The brown rice and black beans came from Costco packaged in a packet that I heated up in my microwave. Super easy and no cleanup for that dish! I farmed the lettuce for the salad on my hydroponic Tower Garden – food for another blog.

first-meal

We woke up to a chilly, cloudy day. I prepared a decaf latte on my tiny cappuccino maker (my one space splurge) and drank it inside. Ramsey is surrounded by tinted windows. I can see out and others can’t see in. That means I have yet to try out my new folding table and chairs for the outside. I fried both the scrambled eggs and the English muffins in a pan on my propane stove. After cleaning up with my super eco-friendly dish soap I got ready for a short trip to Monterey. Marina Dunes is in the process of rebuilding their restrooms and showers. I won’t comment about the porta-potties and shower trailer they provided for the mean time.

Parking for a Walk along Cannery Row

Just as you approach Cannery Row in Monterey there is a place to park your RV. It’s called Breakwater Cove Marina on Foam Street. Perfect.

RV-parking-monterey-lr

You purchase a parking ticket from a machine, place it where it is visible on your dash, then head west to walk the strip of former sardine canneries that John Steinbeck made so famous. A statue I had not seen before displays the characters from his stories. Dead center is my favorite, Susie, who featured in Sweet Thursday.

Steinbeck-statue

I was home again by 4:00 that afternoon, safe and sound. I hosed Ramsey down to get the bugs off her nose, vacuumed her interior, and unpacked the food and clothing. Where to next?

First Overnight

Ramsey's First Overnight

The Hood

Annie, Basil (as in Basil Rathbone – my daughter’s Norwich Terrier who is visiting for a while) and I had our first overnight in Ramsey at the bottom of my driveway. It was quite peaceful. My neighbor greeted us cheerfully as she fetched her newspaper and we emerged from our elephant. For the last two days since I picked this beast up from the dealer, I have been equipping him, trying to anticipate the essentials needed for a real overnight away from home. The potty is properly set up with chemicals. I have figured out the locks and lights. And I’m learning to drive around town without popping the curbs at every corner. (I can’t get used the tail behind me.) But I still have a mound of manuals to read through. Last night I watched the video from the Dodge Ram people.

Just a note on picking Ramsey up from the RV dealer. The hardest part was insisting that the ‘walk through’ guy address me with his instructions and not my male companion, who was there because I needed a ride and moral support. Am I surprised that the RV world is a bit chauvinistic? (BTW, my male companion gets a thousand Good Man Points for standing by my side through the three-hour walk through and paper signing ordeal.)

It is too late in the week to obtain a reservation at the beaches in Bodega, so the first destination is Marina near Santa Cruz. Hopefully the shipload of items I ordered from Amazon will show up before departure. Thank goodness for the solar panels. I am having a hard time finding a 30 amp cord in the local hardware stores. The nearest Walmart or camping store is an hour drive away. Anyone out there been to Marina?

Delivery Date

Today I pick up my 21-foot Lexor RV built from a Dodge Ram 3500, who, as mentioned, I’ve nicknamed Ramsey. I’m nervous as heck about driving him. He is a lot wider than my SUV, Alice, and has no bells and whistles to warn me if I wander into the wrong lane. The hardest part will be angling him into my driveway. Deep gutters threaten on each side. If I don’t turn at the right time, his wheel will drop in and get stuck. Not good. I am on the waiting list for the nearest RV parking place. Someone is vacating a place for me in a month. Meanwhile, my neighbors will have to put up with an elephant in my driveway.

I’ve gathered kitchen gear and linen items plus a few mechanical necessities like a clear elbow for the black tank hose and some wheel chocks. My list of needed equipment printed out on four pages: hoses, wrenches, water filters, surge protectors, on and on, not to mention a bicycle rack. Most of the RV bloggers and vloggers think the best deals are through Amazon and Wallmart versus stores like Camping World and my home RV dealer. I’ve got the list of prices in my handbag. Once I figure out how to drive Ramsey, I am ready to shop.

It’s Wednesday. A weekend looms. Hopefully, we will be ready for our first trip on Saturday – even if just for a day outing.

Anticipation

Ten days until my Lexor RV, Ramsey, arrives at the Pleasureway dealer in Sacramento. I can’t wait to pull him into my driveway, fit him out for travel, and head out to explore. I can’t tell you how many videos I have watched. Maybe I’ll make a few of my own. Stay tuned.

Almost Official RVer

The last time I wrote, which was nearly six months ago, I announced I wanted to be an RVer. Well, I put down my deposit on a 21-foot Lexor and when it arrives in May things will be official. I can’t wait. The first road trip that Annie, my corgi, and I will take will be to Bodega Bay where, for a night, my Lexor will be a beach house. I have named the Lexor Ramsey because he is a Dodge Ram 3500. (I can’t seem to find a big strong man to travel with, so I paid for a big strong truck.) From what I see on the web, there are several campgrounds to choose from in Bodega Bay. I’ve found RV-Land’s equivalent to Facebook, which is RVillage.com. Maybe I’ll see if there is someone on it who can give me advice about which place in Bodega Bay is the best. Meanwhile, I have been watching video after video on how to dump black and gray tanks and I’ve made sure Ramsey will fit in my driveway and that I can legally park him there according to my city’s code. The people at PleasureWay in Sacramento where I ordered Ramsey sent a test drive model over to my house to give the Lexor a test fit. My neighbor was horrified, but it is the only driveway I have. So what can I do? Two nights ago I watched Robin Williams in the movie RV, which was too silly, but after watching all those video’s, made me laugh. Meanwhile, I am going to learn to play pickleball, a game I had never heard of but which, I’ve learned, is very fun. It’s supposed to be the rage in RV camps. There are free lessons near me on Tuesdays and if the rain lets up tomorrow, I’m heading out to give the game a try.