Friday, July 11, 2008

Escapade 2007 in Stockton

Hello friends and relatives.
We are on our way to Stockton, California, for the Escapee Escapade. It is the last one in California. Instead of having a spring and a fall Escapade, there will be only one a year, and it will be in the Midwest.

We left Carlsbad at 5:30 AM and arrived in Visalia at 12:00 noon. On highway 99 we past a motorhome with jeep in tow. We noticed the WIN sticker. We recognized the woman and I tried to call her on the CB. Later on I checked the channel and I had called her on the wrong channel.
We stopped at the next rest area and she did the same. Marie is on her way to Yosemite National Park. So is her boy friend. He has a truck and pulls a large fifth wheel.
We talked for a few minutes and then took off.
In Visalia we looked for the Moose Lodge. Our map had the lodge located in a dead end street, but the street was a through street. The buildings were industrial buildings, no lodge in sight. I called the lodge and was told that the building does not exist anymore, They sold the land and are
building a new lodge in another area.
So we went to the Elks Lodge. We have hook ups and are spoiled for the next two days.
After going to town for a while, we came home and started reading and I played with the new, under the cabinet, radio and CD player I bought at the K Mart today.
Our neighbor came to the door and invited us for a social get together. You never have this experience when you go in to a hotel or motel. We took our chairs and met some of our fellow travelers. They are all on the way to the Escapade. They all belong to the Boomers and know a couple we know from the Shanty Shakers. And the couple also lives in our neighborhood in Carlsbad.
The goodies they had of course spoiled our appetite. We had only a small dinner. Plus we also ate a Cadbury chocolate bar, from England, that Doreen got from K-Mart. Uh, Uh good.

We drove up to Sequoia National Park this morning. It was a beautiful ride on highway 198. The road follows partly the Kaweah River. On the lake are many house boats.
It rained off and on and when we arrived at the National Park entrance, the ranger asked us whether we had a four wheel drive vehicle.
We told her no, and then she asked us whether we had chains with us. The chains are at home in the garage. I had thought about putting them in the trunk of the car. The ranger was worried that the rain would turn into snow in the higher elevations and we would get stuck.
We will come back another time. On the way back we stopped at a large flea market. The vendors and customers were all Latinos. There were a lot of vegetable stands with produce not used in the average home.
In the afternoon we took a walk on the Main Street in Visalia. At four o'clock we met our neighbors again for social hour.

We were ready this morning to leave Visalia, but when we saw the blue sky we changed our mind.
At 9:00 AM we were on the way to Sequoia National Park. This time we had no problem entering the park. We stopped first at the visitor center.
There we were told to leave right away to get to the construction site on the road through the park.
We made it in time and had to wait only six minutes. There was snow on the side of the road and we had to watch for black ice.

At the Giant Forest Museum we enjoyed the exhibits. General Sherman, the largest tree in the world, is always impressive. I had not been at Sequoia for about sixteen years.

Later in the day we drove to Kings Canyon National Park and visited General Grant, the second largest tree. We walked through the grove of giant trees, I am always astound how large those trees grow. Some of them have large burn marks from fires.

At the Wuksachi Lodge we checked out the lobby. Most National Park Lodges have usually beautiful lobbies, and this one was no exception.
On the way home we took highway 180 and got a pleasant surprise. In one area the hills were covered with California Poppies. We stopped and took pictures. Between the poppies were batches of wild lupins. It was an unexpected bonus on this outing.

I had called the California Poppy Preserve in Lancaster and was told there are very few poppies this year because of lack of rain, and out here they are plentiful.
I am glad the ranger did not let us in the park yesterday. With the beautiful weather it was more enjoyable.

We left Visalia at 7:00 AM and arrived at the Elks Lodge in Oakhurst at 9:00 AM. By 9:30 AM we were on our way to Yosemite National Park.

Traffic was very light and it was a pleasure to drive down to the Valley. We stopped at the Tunnel Overlook, where one can see Half Dome, El Capitan, and Bridalvail Fall, all at the same time.

Our next stop was at the Yosemite Lodge where we made reservations for staying there at Christmas. Then we went to Yosemite Falls and ate our lunch while watching the waterfall. The parking lot near the fall is gone, instead there is a beautiful landscaped area. The park encourages
use of the free shuttle bus.
The weather changed and large clouds appeared. I would have felt better with tire chains in the trunk. But it turned out to be a super day.
On the way home we stopped at the Wawona Hotel to take care of Doreen's coffee fix.
Doreen also needed a little shopping fix. In Oakhurst we visited two Thrift Shops.

Today was a day of adventure. We drove the Sierra Vista National Scenic Byway.
When we left, the sky was blue, with big white clouds. We had a difficult time locating the Byway. After several tries, in South Fork, we gave up and left the town. At the end of town we changed our mind and turned around, and there was the sign of the beginning of the Byway.
There were very few signs and we sometimes were not sure where we were.
We stopped one person and asked for direction and whether we should continue. We were encouraged to continue and were told about some of the highlights of the tour.
Our first stop was at the Redinger Vista Point. The view was breathtaking, below us was Redinger Lake, the river, and a beautiful valley.

We continued on this small, winding road, high above the valley. The road belonged to us alone. For a long time we saw no other vehicle. The cell phones did not work and that gave us a strange feeling.

After a while we saw three young men on the side of the road. We stopped and asked them about the next Vista Point. They told us to continue at least to the Mile High Vista Point. The five miles distance they told us turned into eight miles. When we arrived at the Mile High Vista Point we forgave them. They view from this site was unbelievable. A mile below us was Mammoth Pool, a lake behind the dam. In the distance were Balloon Dome and Squaw Dome, and behind them the snow covered high mountains of the Sierra Nevada Range.
We ate our lunch there and then decided to turn around. On the way home the sky darkened and we encountered a small blizzard. When we came to lower elevations the snow turned into rain. We had made a good decision not to continue.
When we arrived at Bass Lake the weather had improved. We took the road along the west side of the lake. On this side are many National Forest camp grounds and beaches.

It got really cold last night. I had to turn on the furnace this morning for fifteen minutes and then use the small electric heater.
We left Oakhurst about 8:30 AM and arrived at The Elks Lodge in Stockton at 11:30 AM. There was only one site left. We lucked out again.
The drive along the Western Sierras, on highway 49, was pleasant. The new catalytic converter, high flow muffler with large diameter pipes, and the tune up made a lot of difference. We did not unhook the car for going up the mountains.
There were many spring flowers on the side of the road and on the hills,
and the trees, with their new light green leaves, are completing this beautiful picture.
We took it easy the rest of the day and enjoyed the warmer conditions in the valley.

Todays day trip was visiting the Sutter's Fort State Historic Park in Sacramento.

The Fort is in down town Sacramento. We were lucky, today they had the 15th Annual Mountain Man Traders Faire and Historic Demonstration Days.
There were many people in period costumes and they did work in their trades, like blacksmithing, weaving, and cooking.

We learned a lot about early California and the Gold Rush. From Sutter's Fort we went to Old Sacramento and had lunch. We did some walking near the river and in some of the streets.

The Railroad Museum visit was postponed until the next Sacramento visit.

When we returned to Stockton we went to the Moose Lodge. Lola and Bruce had just arrived and we paid them a visit. They will also attend the Escapade. The weather man promises us rain every day, but so far we have beautiful weather.

It was another beautiful morning. We went to the Downtown Stockton Waterfront. Lola and Bruce came along. First we checked out the route to the Fairgrounds.
It started to rain in the afternoon and it was a perfect time to take it easy. In the evening we did our regular Saturday routine, watching Lawrence Welk and the English shows.

This day started as rather frustrating. It had rained all night. In the morning, after I disconnected the water and electricity, the rain finally stopped. Three motorhomes were in front of me at the lodge dumping station. We left a bit later than I had planned. When we arrived at the San Joaquin Fairgrounds there were a lot of motorhomes in front of us, but we were the first motorhome for the boondock area.

The motorhomes in front of us went to the electric and generators areas.
That was when our real problem started. Volunteers had marked the RV parking areas in the last four days. The rain changed the picture. Our area was flooded.
When I let the hydraulic levelers down, they sank into the soft soil. I tried pieces of 2x6 boards under the wheels, they disappeared too. After a while I gave up.
Finally the supervisor of the parking crew told me to follow him. He guided me to an asphalt covered area. There is a tree but we get enough sun to charge the batteries. After leveling the motorhome and some cleaning up, I went and registered.

I was able to get the two Photo Shop Seminars I wanted last year, and could not get, because I did not know that for computer classes one had to sign up. When I found this out, the classes were filled.
Later on we went through the shopping areas and the area where the individual chapters of the Escapees have their booths. The Shanty Shakers, the Southern California Escapees, our chapter, was also there.

I also went to the WIFI area and checked our E mails. Most of the people we know, listen to our wishes, and do not send us any jokes, political information and junk mail, unfortunately some do.
At 3:00 PM the opening ceremony started and ended with an ice cream social.
The evening entertainment started at 7:00 PM. A raffle preceded the Tribute to Barry Manilow. We did not win anything today. The show was not that good either. Frank Sternett is an impersonator, He is probably very good, but we are nor fans of Manilow, and the sound system did not help. We left early.
Tomorrow will be a good day, a day without rain and some fun things to do.

This was a super day. I woke up at 6:00 AM and went straight to the WIFI building. It was still closed, so I used an outside picnic table to set up my computer. I did my E mail and went back to the motorhome. When I came back Doreen was gone. She went for a walk. A lot of people were already about. The sky was blue and no sight of rain.
After breakfast we went to the registration building and Doreen had a coffee and I had a hot chocolate.
Lola and Bruce came by and we talked for a while. At 8:30 AM Doreen and I attended the "RV to Alaska" seminar. At 10:30 AM I went to the "WI-FI Industry Update" seminar.
I learned a lot about increasing the signal from a router or network.
After the seminar I went to the merchant row and talked to some of the vendors. I have a clear view now of what antenna to buy.
The IHOP had a coupon in the Escapade hand book for one free meal, so we took advantage of that and had lunch there.
Costco was next door and we bought a few items there. Our next stop was the Grocery Discount Store. Besides groceries we bought some Lindt chocolate. In regular stores a bar costs $2.15, there it costs only 99 cents.
At 7:00 PM we went to the raffle. For 45 minutes they give out door prizes. So far we have not won anything. The combination of items are at least $100.00 for each prize.
At 8:00 PM the entertainment started. Jimmy Travis put on a good show. People were in tears because they laughed so hard. It was really a good show. It made up for last nights fiasco.

Another sunny day. At 8:30 AM we went to the seminar "Working on the Road". It gave us all the information about working part time at National and State Parks and private Industry. Disney has a booth at the Escapade, of course I would not qualify to work for them, I have a beard. Besides they pay only $7.00 an hour and provide no parking for the motorhome.
I always wanted to work for a few months in Grand Teton National Park or Yellowstone.
At 1:00 PM I went for the Photo Shop Seminar and had already loaded down the pictures from the instructors CD, when I was told I had the wrong Photo Shop program on my computer. This was the second year I tried and it did not work out. Last year I did sign up too late. Next year I will have everything in order. I was disappointed but life goes on.
In the afternoon Lola and Bruce came by to say goodbye. They are leaving tomorrow, two days early. They had gone to "Killing your Turbo", a seminar about turbo charged engines. 60 different seminars are available.
Most of them about the RV Lifestyle and about motorhomes.
Tonight was no big entertainment, so we went to the building where the square dancers did their thing and then to the jam session in building 1.

Since I could not attend the three hour Advanced Photo Shop seminar today, and I did not go to another seminar, we did some shopping and in the afternoon we went to the Haggin Museum. There are twelve large paintings, of Yosemite Valley, by Albert Bierstadt, and many pictures by other artists.
I always thought that Caterpillar was a Peoria, Illinois, Company. I learned today that Benjamin Holt of Stockton invented the Caterpillar tractor, and the company was located in both cities. The equipment was called Holt Caterpillar. The Holt was dropped later on. Some of the early machinery is on display at the museum.
I also learned that Stockton has the third largest harbor in California, after Los Angeles and Long Beach. That was hard to believe, since Stockton is so far away from the ocean.
The Shanty Shakers, the Southern California Chapter of the Escapees, had their Pot Luck Dinner at 4:00 PM. It was strange to sit with the group here at the fairgrounds instead at the regular meeting place in El Cajon.
At 7:00 PM we went to the Raffle. Again we did not win a prize. But I got a spray can of Slide Out Lubricant because the person next to me won a prize.
At 8:00 PM the Ham-O-Rama started. It is a talent show and was very good. In the 825 plus motorhomes and trailers attending the rally, are some people with talent, not in our motorhome though.

This was a very warm day. The temperature must have been at least 85 degrees F.
I attended the "Supplemental Braking" seminar at 10:30 AM, and at 1:00 PM I went to the "Scanning Fundamentals" seminar.
The Closing Ceremony of the Escapee Escapade was at 3:00 PM. We did not win anything there either. Altogether $19,000 in prizes were given in the last five days.
Today's main prize was a five day trip to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for the' Fly In.'
The Farewell Party was at 7:30 PM. We did not stay very long. Doreen had two sore toes and could not dance.
Other than not being able to attend the two Photo Shop seminars, I had a good time and learned something. We also met some people we had not seen for a long time.
Yesterday I joined the Boomers, another chapter of the Escapees. They are a fun group.

We got up at 5:00 AM, hooked up the car and left the Fairgrounds. At the next Rest Area we had breakfast and did our regular morning chores.
I can imagine what the traffic was later when everybody was leaving the Escapade.
It was very hot coming down I-5. The temperature was in the 90's. We made it to the Elks Lodge in San Fernando, North of Los Angeles. I had enough of the heat.
We relaxed all afternoon.

We arrived home at 8:30 AM. One neighbor asked me whether we were coming or going. We had left San Fernando at 6:00 AM to get through Los Angeles before the traffic starts.
Now I have to get ready for my Colorado River rafting trip. I will leave for Las Vegas on Thursday. The Orientation will be Thursday evening and we will be picked up from the hotel on Friday morning. Starting point is Lee's Ferry, north of the Grand Canyon, and will end in Lake Mead.
It will be a 190 mile journey, lasting eight days and seven nights.
We hope all of you have a wonderful summer.
Doreen and Richard.

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