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July 1, 2013

Video about Wilderness Lakes

WAY back when we were first thinking about living fulltime in an RV, I found www.gonewiththewynns.com, and began reading about Jason and Nikki’s adventures.  They too had decided to sell all their stuff, move into an RV, and travel the US.  While we were on a trial run in Northern California, we ran into them at Pacifica.  Molly and I got to talk to them about various things, and we continued to follow their adventures online.  Well, we ran into them again last April, while they were here at our “home” park of Wilderness Lakes, in Menifee, CA.  We volunteered, along with our friends the Ewing’s, to be in their photo’s and videos of the campground.  One of the ways they earn money on the road is to produce these videos and reviews for RV Parks.

In their blog post, you’ll see some info about the local town of Temecula.  We’ve discovered it to be a great place to go ourselves, and it always amazes my what kinds of stores and entertainment we find there.  At the bottom of the post, there’s a final picture of all of us.  I don’t know what kind of pose I was going for.  In the video, you can see the Ewing’s, and Molly is in there with Hester, fishing and golfing.

Enjoy!

http://www.gonewiththewynns.com/temecula

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February 21, 2013

San Antonio

After a stay in Livingston to get mail, car inspection, etc., we headed over to San Antonio.  There, we stayed at a couple places.  First, we spent a couple days in town at the Carefree Travelers World RV Resort in San Antonio.  This was a pretty nice, clean park.  They were pretty full, and the spot we got barely fit our RV length.  The location of the park was what we were after, as it was close to the Alamo, and provided a good launch pad to get to the local Sea World, and up to Austin.  Our first day there, we headed into town for the Alamo, and we were all surprised the the size, location, and such.  It’s quite the tourist attraction.  After milling about there for a while, we headed to the river walk sections, and had fun with more crowds and detours around work areas.  Eventually we found a fantastic Mexican restaurant called the Guadalajara Grill, and got some dinner. It had a fun atmosphere, and great Mexican food that hit the spot.

The next day, we went up to Auston.  The main purpose was to visit a work colleague of mine, but we took some time to also visit the capital building of my state of residency. Molly was able to add another stamp in her “State Capital Passport” book.  The capital buildings are all running together, but this one seemed pretty nice, with lot’s of information and historic photo’s on the walls.  We were able to get in to see all the buildings too, since we were there on a Sunday.  For the afternoon and evening, we enjoyed a great visit and meal with a fantastic family there in Austin.  

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While still “in town” in San Antonio, we hit up Sea World.  It was a bit of an off season time for them, but we were still able to see much of the park, and get a good feel for it.  I bet it’s hoping in the Summer, with ski shows and a water park area.  Molly got a caricature done as well. This visit also means that Diane, and Molly have now been to all three of the Sea World locations.  I haven’t been to Orlando, or it would have been for me too.

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Once our “in town” tasks were done, we headed to the famous Texas Hill Country, and stayed at the Thousand Trails park called Medina Lake, in Lakehills, TX.  We were there for a few days, working, and enjoying the quiet of the hills.  We also had LOTS of activity with deer.  We even picked up a big bag of feed corn for them on one trip to the market.

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The lake at Medina Lake is very low.  I read up on it a bit, and it seems to be a normal cycle of drought and flood.  A few more years, and they should be back to a full/too full lake again.  It’s already a nice place in the woods, but the lake would make it that much better.

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Our next stop is Carlsbad, NM.

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December 15, 2012

Florida…Part 1

Ok, so, our Florida visit consists of several parts.  We have a few weeks at Orlando Thousand Trails, then a couple weeks at our Orlando timeshare (with a side trip to Tampa), then a weekend in Fort Pierce, back to Orlando Thousand Trails, and then up to Live Oak for the Fulltime Families Rally.  So, we’ll start with the first 3 weeks at Orlando Thousand Trails.

We arrived at Orlando Thousand trails, in Clermont, FL, on December 2, and picked out a spot in the office.  It was a fabulous spot, C-21.  If you can choose it, you’ll be pleased.  Close to everything, and a big “yard” right out front.

The first “thing” up, was to let Molly know that on December 3, she and Diane would be heading up to New York to get their trip that Hurricane Sandy prevented back in November.  I dropped them off at the airport Monday, and they returned late Friday.  They had a GREAT time.  I’ll get Diane to create her own post on that trip, someday.

While they were away, I got to explore a bit of the RV park, get some pieces parts to repair a few odds and ends, and generally hang out.  The weather was AWESOME.  I spent a couple of my lunch hours and post-work time in the hammock.  After the couple of months in the cold fall weather of the east coast, it was quite nice to have 72 degree days, with a light breeze.

After their week away, the girls came back.  The next week, I flew up to Rochester, NY, to provide some training for a customer.  The next week, Megan arrived for a couple weeks of college time Christmas Vacation.  Once Megan arrived, the girls were off to explore, and to hit a couple of the theme parks.  They were able to spend a couple days at Universal Studios and see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and a special night at Disney’s Magic Kingdom.

On December 22, we moved into the Orlando timeshare.  We were putting the RV in storage, so all the fridge and freezer stuff had to come with us, as well as most of the other food, and lot’s of cloths, and stuff, and presents, and more stuff, and… The move out and back in was crazy.  But, after a failed attempt to store the RV in Orlando, we were able to get it over to Diane’s Uncle’s shop in Fort Pierce, and it was there for them to work on when they had time.

Orlando Thousand Trails…
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We setup some Christmas decorations, and rented a golf cart for a week.

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My close up pictures did not turn out well, but there were plenty of these birds (Sand Hill Crane’s I believe) walking about.  Some tortoises as well.

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I heard a loud “whooshing” sound early one morning, and found there were a few hot-air balloons flying over.

I saw this little guy wandering in the middle of the road while I was out for a bike ride.  Picked him up, and put him in one of the nests that was nearby.  Hopefully it was the right one.

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We also had a great time re-visiting with the Pickett’s that we’d first met in California, and then saw again in Indiana.  We also got to meet several other families, and Molly was not lacking for people to hang out with here.

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November 25, 2012

North Carolina

After Virginia, and the Indian Reservation visit, we headed down to Forest Lake, a Thousand Trails Preserve in Advance, North Carolina.  This was our location to stay over the Thanksgiving Day Holiday.

Because of the stop at the Indian Reservation, this was one of those rare times that we arrived to our stop after dark.  And, this one was hilly, with trees everywhere.  Fun.  Also, there was no one at the gate or office.  Just a box that had our info, car/RV tags, and a map.  Oh goody.

It took about a half hour, but we finally settled on a 50 Amp site that was easy to get into, close to the buildings, and had good clear view for satellite.  We thought we’d have to pay an extra $3 per day for that site, but it’s only during the summer.

This preserve is pretty cool.  There’s a big lake, and camping on both sides.  They have a large number of cabins, an adult lodge, and a family lodge.  Also, a pool at each lodge.  Everything but the adult lodge and laundry were closed for the season though, so not much else for us to do here at the preserve.  We did finally see some staff, and everyone we saw were very nice and helpful.

After all the travel, the lack of any friends/family around and such, everyone was getting, well, grouchy.  Just lot’s of grouchy ladies in the camper.  Not good, for anyone.  So, I told them to get ready, that we were going out for a surprise evening.  The big surprise was bowling.  It had been a long time since we’d gone, and it was just different and fun enough to get rid of the grouchies.  Hard to see, but Diane won… both games!

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So, for Thanksgiving, the plan was to hit up a local Cracker Barrel restaurant  and then go see the movie, Lincoln, to continue with the Lincoln theme of the trip.  We found a Cracker Barrel near a movie theater, and headed over around 1 pm.  Well, everyone else seemed to have the same idea, and the wait was going to be around an hour.  So, we headed next door to the not crowded Ruby Tuesday’s.  No turkey on the menu, but we got some decent food, and had time to head over to the movie and deal with the lines there too.  The movie was awesome.  No, nothing major or new to the story, but the way it is told is fantastic.

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Back at the preserve, Molly and I were able to use the shuffle board courts and scoot the puck around a bit, as they’d left the equipment out.  Diane and Molly were also able to get in a round of mini-golf because we carried a couple putters and golf balls with us in the RV.  And, there is an old tobacco barn on the property that we got to check out while there.

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And, anyone that is a fan of Hunger Games, that finds themselves in North Carolina, is going to try and seek out one or more of the movie shoot locations.  Diane read up on some of the old abandoned buildings that were used for some scenes, and we weren’t sure what we’d find or be able to do while there.  To our surprise, we were able to park, get out, and spend plenty of time walking around and taking pictures.

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On one other holiday weekend trip, we went to tour the Latta Plantation in Huntersville, NC. It was another historic site with re-enactments, and we had a good time learning the history.

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Oh, and he’s not smiling on purpose, cause it used to take so long to take pictures in his day, and such.

We headed out of North Carolina on Sunday, and headed to Georgia.  We’d hoped to go over and stay at a place in Myrtle Beach for a few days before heading to Florida, but, work had requested me and a few others to come in for some meetings, so we hoped over to Cumming/Alpharetta, GA.

November 17, 2012

Virginia

After D.C., we headed for Gloucester, VA, to stay at the Thousand Trails Chesapeake Bay Preserve.  Our visit here was just a little over a week, and the location is close to Richmond (the state Capital) and Colonial Williamsburg, as well as the Jamestown Colony site.

Our first weekend there, we headed over to Williamsburg.  Now, we’ve been to a few different places that provide an interactive “back in time” type setup for their location, and they recreate life back in the 1800’s.  In Indiana, we have been to Conner Prairie a couple times, and there was a “one weekend only” recreation near Terre Haute that Molly got to participate in during our last visit.  So, the idea of paying theme park prices for one of these, was not on the top of our To-Do list.  Also, you can tour the grounds, shop in all the shops, and eat in all the restaurants, for free.  That’s what we did.  We did have a great late lunch.  Best “Bangers and Mash” I’ve ever had.  Love the simple meat and potatoes stuff.  We walked around, but we were feeling a bit overloaded on even more history, so we only spent a couple hours, and headed out.

There was a Yankee Candle Company store there however, and so we had to stop, I’m told.  One item we picked up was some wax hands, where Molly was the model for the hands.  Hopefully these survive our journey!

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The RV Park itself was right on one of the waterways that lead to the Chesapeake Bay, and the Fall Colors were in full form while we were there.  It was “off-season” of sorts, and so they didn’t have any activities, and the pool, store, etc., were closed.  Still, nice place, pretty, and quiet.  Oh, and we saw an RV there that we know we’ve seen at a couple places in CA.  The park here was recovering from some flooding they experienced during Sandy, but it was drying out nicely.  Only one section of the campground was impacted, and it was an area with mostly long term sites.  Oh, and they got fresh pavement for the main roads just before we left.  You can see it in the photo on the right below.

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Also while here, Diane and Molly headed over to Richmond to add another State Capitol to their passport booklet.  Diane was very impressed with this one, and thought it was pretty cool.  They even used this location for some of the filming of the movie “Lincoln” that is out right now.  They also visited the Confederate “White House”, which is located in Richmond as well.

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And, our last visit in Virginia came on the day we headed out of town.  We had communicated with my sister, who’s been doing some genealogy research in the last couple years.  We had known that my Grandmother (Granny, Dad’s Mom) was part Native American.  However, Granny never wanted to really talk about the past, especially things related to her childhood and relatives.  She passed away a few years ago, but Chellie (my sister) was able to find out that our Native American ancestors were from the Pamunkey tribe.  She also knew that they had a reservation in Virginia, and it was pretty close to where we were.  We had hoped to visit earlier, but as it turned out, we could only visit on the day we were leaving.

It was quite a journey to get out there, and driving in the RV was extra fun.  Diane followed in the car, and it was a bit easier being separated.  The museum is small, but nice, and they have a gift shop with locally made jewelry and other items, as well as books about their history.

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We had a nice visit, and then hit the road for North Carolina.

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October 7, 2012

Horseshoe Lakes – first 3 weeks.

We planned to be at Horseshoe Lakes for three weeks, and then move on to Pennsylvania.  But, as the move day drew closer, we started hearing about some bugs and things being at the park we were heading to.  Also, I was going to be gone for 2 weeks of the time at that park, and Diane and Molly would need to deal with the bugs themselves.  We investigated what it would take, and then decided to just go ahead and stay at Horseshoe Lakes for an additional 3 weeks.  This meant paying for one week, where we should be out of the park, and then two more weeks of our normal Thousand Trails reservations.  For this post, we’ll cover some of the activities and scenes from the first three weeks.

First, I grew up (age 5 to 18) about a quarter mile from the RV park.  I had only been in the park twice before.  Once before it became Thousand Trails, and the second for my 10 year class reunion.  I was pretty excited at the idea to be able to ride bikes with Molly, up and down the streets that I spent so much time on.  I had a paper route for something like 5-7 years, and put some serious seat time delivering the paper 5 days a week.

Upon arrival, there were some differences here.  Most notable was that you don’t check in at the gate, but rather at the office, which is on a side road before you enter the gate.  Ok, no problem.  We got in, got a basic briefing of what all the site groups had to offer, and we headed out to pick a spot.  The biggest “issue” was the number of tree’s, and how low on the horizon the satellites are here in this part of the country.  We found one site, but couldn’t get the dish to latch on, so we moved a couple sites over, and got a lock.  Another interesting thing about this park, is the number of Seasonal Sites that are occupied.  With the price they charge, and the fact you could stay there from park open to close (April to end of October), there are several people in the program.  Some parents of one of my classmates have their camper there in a spot as well.  It made for a nice community, and likely the park would be a ghost town without them.  I also saw how they basically ran the facility.  Some of them officially, and others unofficially.  It wouldn’t be as nice a place without them.

 

Now, all the visiting and fun.

We had a visits from family of course, and also another Fulltime Family came to stay at the park.  We had met this other family (The Pickett’s) in California at Wilderness Lakes.  They have three younger kids, but they all enjoyed spending time with Molly whenever we’d go over for a campfire. It was great to catch up with John and Mary, and do some in-person smack talk for our Fantasy Football league.  John was starting one at the beginning of Football season, and I was able to join.  It was my first, and it has been a lot of fun.

During this first three weeks, we got to go over and see the great Pumpkin Works that we’d heard so much about over the years.  This is a pig farm turned Halloween extravaganza, near Paris, IL.  The farm is owned by my Aunt’s family.  They started Pumpkin Works 20 years ago, and it is even on the map!   My Aunt and Uncle have also started their own horse carriage company, offering carriage’s for weddings, parades, and such, and they also give horse wagon rides at Pumpkin Works.  So, we got to go see them as well as the great Pumpkin Works.

Not sure if it has been mentioned before, but Molly is a great fan of horses.  She’s had several lessons while we lived in Orange County, and she was very happy to be able to get a ride with Uncle Jeff and Aunt Cathy’s horses.  Even better, she got to DRIVE!  And even better than that, she went back and worked as “Uncle Jeff the Great” (a name he recommended) assistant on several days.  The J&C horses were only there on the weekends, but Molly spent as much time as possible working with them.

 

 

Also during this time, we got some Woopie Pie’s from the Amish, took lot’s of fall color photo’s, rode bikes in the old neighborhood, took care of my Mom’s “honey do list”, installed a new bike rack on the back of the RV, and got a “Stay-a-while” gas line kit so we can use portable tanks and attach them to the RV Propane system.  A very productive few weeks.  More on the next three weeks in a later post.

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August 11, 2012

Morgan Hill

After leaving Sacramento, we headed to a Thousand Trails park in Morgan Hill, CA.  We left later in the day on Sunday, giving Molly and Diane time to participate in all the sessions they wanted to see at the conference.  It took a couple hours to get to Morgan Hill, and we got there just in time to get a spot and hooked up before it was totally dark.

Morgan hill is in a nice area, in that it’s not near any highways, railroad tracks, airport, or other noise generating equipment.  The sites all look pretty level, and there are lot’s of tree’s.  It has a huge pool, especially compared to the number of available sites in the park.  All the sites have water and electric, but none have sewer.  They do have a honey wagon service, but it could get old paying $25 every few days to dump the gray tank.  I would invest in one of those portable tanks if I planned on staying here longer than just a week.

Internet and cellular services worked fine.  I think we were right on the edge of Sprint coverage, and a booster might have helped.  The AT&T and Verizon phones worked just fine.  We got Satellite TV too, but that is a tough one here for the roof mounted dishes.  Not too many spots with the right clearing.  The spaces here can be kinda tight too.

We may be spoiled by our experiences with staff at Lake Conroe, Wilderness Lakes, Idyllwild, and even Pio Pico, in that they’ve all had some pretty friendly staff.  At Wilderness Lakes, you cannot drive, walk, or ride a bike, and not have one of the staff wave at you when they see you.  Even if they’re off scooting around on the golf carts, they’ll throw a wave and a smile at you.  Pretty much the same thing at Idyllwild.  But, at Morgan Hill, it was hard to even know who the staff were, let alone get a wave, or a smile.  Not sure if they’re more seasonal, and just getting worn down by what seems to be a constant state of being filled with campers, or what.  Nothing bad really, just not as friendly.  All in all, I got most of what I want in a site.  Respectful neighbors, electricity, level, some shade, water, and a generally calm atmosphere.  Oh, and good Internet for the worker type, and the YouTube watcher.

Enough about the park…

While there, we all went out to dinner one night with a colleague, his wife, and daughters (he has a new tiny one!)  We had a fantastic dinner at Maggiano’s in San Jose, CA.  The food was very good, and there was lot’s of it.  Both families walked away with a couple days worth of leftovers.  It was great to see Thao, and spend some non-work time with the families.

Another family outing was off to the Santa Cruz boardwalk.  This is like the runway of a larger county fair, with permanent rides, food vendors, and games.  We went on dollar hot dog and soda night, so dinner was cheap.  You buy tickets for the rides, and this night had some special ticket prices as well.  Molly had a great time on some of the rides by herself, a couple with Diane, and then one final “see if we can make him hurl” ride with Dad.  Ugh.  The ride home was on some twisty roads too.  It was all I could do to keep from letting loose of the cheap hot dog and soda.  I’m officially too old for such things now.  If you’re in the area, it’s a great spot to hang out.  There’s no fee to get in, so you have some hooligan’s hanging around that you need to keep an eye out for, but there’s lot’s of families there too, till it gets dark and cold.

 

Since the boardwalk rides were not quite enough, Molly and Diane also headed out to San Jose to California’s Great America (http://www.cagreatamerica.com/)  We had gotten some great tickets from another Fulltime family that was not going to be able to use them.  They both had a great time, rode several rides, and spent nearly the whole day there at the park.  It sounds like it is similar to Knott’s Berry Farm that is in Southern California, and they do have some affiliation as well.  If you’re in the area, and it’s open, it would be some good fun for the kids.  Way cheaper than the Disney prices.

 

Our stay at Morgan Hill ends Sunday, August 12, and we’re booking it down to SoCal that day to stay back at our favorite, Wilderness Lakes in Menifee.  We’ve got some appointments lined up before we head east, plus moving Megan into an apartment, and a couple RV projects.  Sorry this post is so late, but I’ve been working on those projects, and time has gotten away.

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July 27, 2012

At Menifee for most of July.

Wilderness Lakes has been a pretty good “Home” base for our California adventures. It’s close to our old Orange County home, it’s free, full hook-ups at every site, and the amenities are good. It’s a nice place to bike, hang at the pool, allows campfires when burning is OK, and they let you wash your RV/car at your site. You can even do some work on the rig if needed, like my painting of some of the stickers.

Molly also went to Seaworld camp during the beginning of this visit. She had a GREAT time. I’m hoping she’ll put some blog posts together and tell everyone what all she learned and did while there. Fingers crossed! I took the day off from work in order to go pick her up on the last day. Diane’s back had been out for a couple days. Molly and I had a nice time touring many of the shows at the park and I enjoyed hearing all about her camp and what all she learned. The Clyde and Seymour show was awesome! We fed some Sea Lions too.

During this trip, Diane and Molly got to hang out with Diane’s Aunt who was visiting from Florida, as well as to attend the Home-school conference in Ontario. Lot’s of visiting with friends, Ed and Victoria, etc. I was also able to get some customer visits in, and plenty of work done. The red stickers are now 75% done. Most of the ugliness is gone. It also looks like the other stickers just need the old clear stuff off and they’ll be fine. The sun and some high pressure water seem to keep the peeling process moving along just fine.

Our next trip is up north for another Home-school conference in Sacramento, with some other stops on the way up and back.

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May 22, 2012

Feeling Hot Hot Hot…

It’s a HOT time in Menifee, CA.  Temps last week got into the 80’s, but we were at 95+ for most of the past few days.  Summer time here at Wilderness Lakes means hot, more hot, and some flies.  With all the “food” next door at the dairy, and the summer time heat, the flies just multiple like mad.  We’re fortunate on our timing for arrival, and are able to stay in areas that are furthest from the source of the flies.  Only a few stragglers make it over here.

We’ll be leaving here Friday afternoon, and staying at another park near hear called Elsinore Hills RV.  We’ve stayed there a couple months ago, and it will be a good spot for a week or so.  We have some scheduling issues with the rest of our summer plans and the Thousand Trails reservation limitations, so we need to be out of their system for Memorial Day weekend.  We’ve also got another Komfort Kruiser event the first weekend in June.  Busy summer.

As we were getting ready to head here, we found out via Facebook that another fulltime family was going to be here.  We’ve been able to meet them and enjoyed some conversations and an evening of snacks and drinks.  They had also met another family that was here, so it was a nice evening of sharing stories and getting to know everyone.

We’ve also got some things in works for some business ventures to make some extra bucks…hopefully.  I’ve been managing our website through several hosting companies and variations, as well as some sites for family.  I see a possible opportunity to also help out some other fulltime RV families, or others, who’d also like to have their own sites.  So, I’ve opened up a new frontend for people to come and get their website domains and hosting platforms.  I’ve got a few more tweeks I want to do on it over the next few weeks, and then it will be ready for prime time.  If you’re curious though, and are looking to create your own website, just let me know and I’ll make sure to get you the details.

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May 11, 2012

Soledad Canyon

Continuing my late updates…

On Sunday, May 6, we left the Komfort Kruisers and headed to the town of Acton, CA, to spend the week at a Thousand Trails park called Soledad Canyon.  We’d not been at this park yet, and had heard mixed reviews.  Some of the reviews pointed us to the right areas for the best Cell coverage, and that worked out.  It’s section “N” if you happen to need to know. 🙂  Also, we found the train noise really not an issue if you are in sections away from the road, which is right next to the tracks. We did find it to be hot, but dry, and with the constant breeze, we mostly left the windows open and didn’t use the AC.

On Tuesday, May 8th, we were just hanging out.  I was working, and Diane was busy on the Internet.  It was near the end of the work part of the day for me, and I kept hearing sirens.  I just thought it was an accident out on the road, or that the freeway was backed up, and they were using the canyon road to get around it.  Then, a helicopter went over.  Then another.  And the sirens continued.  I said something about there must be an accident, and then thought… OR A FIRE.  I looked out the door and saw this…

Soledad Canyon Fire
Soledad Canyon Fire

It was close.  Wind was blowing the smoke away, but the fire will sometimes move towards the wind at its base, and the winds could shift at anytime, and as they sometimes do at dusk.  Diane and I got to practice our “Rapid Relocation Drill” and get everything ready to roll out.  We had the inside set, and the car hooked up, and everything but the electricity disconnected while we waited.  It ended up that the Fire Departments hit the fire hard, and had it nearly completely knocked down in about 2 hours.  Whew!

The rest of our stay was boring by comparison, and smelt of campfire when the winds did shift.  On Thursday, Molly rejoined us, and on Friday afternoon, May 11, we headed back to the grand ole Menifee, CA.

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