Yosemite, CA to Newport, OR

June 13, 2004 - Monterey Pines RV Campground, Monterey CA. This was the first time that we arrived to find a full campground. This Navy military campground is located at the golf course near the Naval Postgraduate School and a huge overflow area, that used to be a soccer field, is next to the campground. Although no hookups were available, we were able to boondock here for four days.

Monterey Bay is a beautiful place with sea lions and harbor seals sunning on nearby rocks. We spent a day at the aquarium and then drove down the coast to visit Hearst Castle. Gorgeous scenery on the drive through Big Sur.

June 17, 2004 - Our next major destination was Crater Lake in Oregon but we had to break that trip up into several legs. The first stop was the military campground at Beale Air Force base near Yuba City, CA. Although there wasn't much to do here, we did take several interesting day trips to Nevada City and Oroville Dam. Nevada City started off as a mining town but, today, is a thriving little community. The downtown area remains alive and looks much as it did a century ago, with several buildings remaining from that period. We pulled into the parking lot just ahead of a Ford Model T rally and saw several dozen beautifully restored antique automobiles.

The next day found us at Oroville Dam. I must admit that I am a dam fanatic. If there is one nearby, large or small, I've gotta see it. I was surprised at the size of Oroville dam. I guess dams like Hoover and Grand Coulee get all the publicity and glory, not only because of their size and concrete construction, but because they harness some pretty big rivers. In height and length, Oroville Dam is bigger than the Grand Coulee Dam but it is an earth fill dam. It sure was impressive.

June 20, 2004 - The next stop was Bear Mountain RV Park in Redding, CA. We picked this area because of its proximtiy to Mt. Shasta. These volcanic peaks in the Cascade Range are so majestic as they stand thousands of feet above their surrounding area with their peaks covered with snow. When we arrived at Crater Lake a few days later, we could see Mt. Shasta at a distance of over 100 miles. Wow!

Bear Mountain RV Park has all the things to be a first-rate RV park. It has a nice pool. The bathhouses are small, but clean. It is several miles off the Interstate and is quiet (I was not here on a weekend). Several pull-through sites are large enough to accommodate big rigs. Lots of trees. The staff was pleasant and friendly.

On the downside, there is a large permanent or seasonal population that occupies about two-thirds of the sites. I have nothing against permanent residents of RV parks - Escapees parks and SKP Co-ops are full of them. But most of the permanent residents here contribute to a general shabby appearance with the way they maintain their RVs and their sites.

Little or no effort is made to improve the landscaping. Weeds grow knee-high around the site utility stations and around the pool fence. A weedwacker or Roundup would solve this problem. Leaves needed to be vacuumed from the pool deck. Many of the site number signs were broken or missing.

The deck behind the office building is covered with junk and is in full view when entering the pool. The entrance to the permanent section is filled with junk cars and other unsightly trash. The water and electric sites were not big enough to park a big rig (33' fifthwheel). The sites with sewer were $22 but I received a 15% Escapees discount. Then California grabbed their 10% tax.

This park received reviews from rvparkreviews.com of 7's and 8's but I was a little disappointed by the overall shabby appearance.

Several weeks ago, I had noticed some unusual wear on the inside edge of the tread on my RV tires. Beause my tread was now covered with road dust, the wear was really visible and much more severe. On one tire, the tread was bald for half the width of the tire. I needed to find an alignment shop that could handle big rigs. Boy, was I lucky. All Wheel Alignment was only 5 miles away, right off the Interstate, and they gave me an appointment on the morning I was scheduled to leave Redding. The facility was modern and clean and had 6 huge bays to handle the largest RVs and motorhomes. My camber and tow-in were seriously out of whack. They had that fixed and a new tire installed in two hours and I was on the road by 10:30 AM. They must have done a good job because I have not noticed any addition wear after another 6,000 miles of towing.

June 23, 2004 - How can one find the words to describe Crater Lake? Most photographs fail to capture the grandeur of this place. In my mind's eye, I see the first person that climbed what looked like a modest ridge line and stared in awe at the lake before him with the bluest water imaginable. It must have been apparent, even then, that this was the caldera of an ancient volcano. There was still 10 feet of snow along the side of sections of Rim Drive. Actually, the eastern half of Rim Drive was closed because the snow plows had not yet reached that area. Hey, it snows 600 inches a year at Crater Lake. Yes, that's 50 feet a year!

Diamond Lake RV Park, near Crater Lake, has many large, level sites that can accommodate big rigs but all are back in sites. Heavily forested area but the interior roads are wide and paved. No street lights so the stargazing is great (if you can find a clear spot through the trees). Each site has a fire pit for campfires. Bring peanuts - the chipmunks will crawl right into your lap for a handout. Internet access is available but requires an 800 number or calling card.

Across the road and along the shore of Diamond Lake is the National Forest Service campground of the same name. Although there are no hookups, this seems like a bargain at $10 a day. But lakeside sites are $5 more and the sites that are big enough for big rigs (and there are quite a few) are designated multi-use and add another $5 premium. So, a lakesite site big enough for my 33' fifthwheel will cost $20 a day compared to a full hookup at Diamond Lake RV Park for $24.30 (with Good Sam discount). For you biking enthusiasts, there is a bike trail around Diamond Lake.

Mazama Campground, on the other side of Crater Lake, is $20 a day with no hookups. So I think Diamond Lake RV Park is the place to stay if you are visiting Crater Lake.

June 25, 2004 - The drive from Crater Lake down highway 138 was absolutely gorgeous (I am running out of superlatives). We stopped at Timber Valley SKP Co-op in Sutherlin, OR. This SKP Co-op is number three on my list, right behind Jojoba Hills and Park Sierra. But my list is very subjective.

This park is at the base of forested hills that surround Sutherlin. The park itself does not have many mature trees so there is little shade except in the boondock areas. The park and individual sites are nicely kept and manicured. SKPs seem to take a lot of pride in their parks and it shows.

No pool and no showers but all the other amenities one would expect at a SKP park - large clubhouse with laundry, book and video library, pool table, game room. Deer roam freely though the park. Not many empty sites. Unlike the southern SKP parks, where everyone leaves for cooler climates in the summer, most of the residents stay here throughout the year. But there are a dozen or more level, shaded boondock sites. We decided to boondock the two nights we were here.

June 27, 2004 - South Beach State Park in Newport, OR is one of the nicest state parks I have seen. Well maintained with a surprising number of facilities for a public park. The beach is a half mile away down several paths and bike trails. Although we saw only half of it, the Oregon Coast sure is a beautiful place. More on this in the next leg of the trip.