Back in the fall of 2020 I hatched a plan to head south the first of February in 2021. The plan was to get away from the cold and wet. Drive south on I-5 to Bakersfield and then head east and explore towards Death Valley. Then covid hit California hard. Driving through California didn’t seem responsible with the ICUs full and I didn’t want to drive down the east side of the sierras pulling a trailer with the potential of icy roads. Surprisingly California started recovering from covid in February. I made the decision to go south.
Here are a few lessons learned or reminders.
- Gas stations don't work without power. Duh. I knew a major ice storm and gone through the Portland area and it resulted in a major power outage. I checked the roads on the ODOT site and they were all open. What I didn’t think about was that gas stations had lost power during the storm. My first attempt to get gas saw a closed gas station! Yikes. Exploring a bit further I found an open gas station with lines. I was happy to wait in a line to get gas.
- Campgrounds with the sign “Reservations Required”. What? Can I spend the night? At the Armitage County Park, the sign meant you stop at the office before choosing a site. At Sycamore Grove USFS campground it meant you pay by phone calling reservation.gov.
- Campground websites can’t be trusted for open/closed information. Before I left, I had figured this out and was calling all my potential overnight stops. Phone numbers are in the Ultimate Campground app. An example was a COE campground. Their website indicated it was open for the season. But I couldn’t make a reservation (my way of verifying that it was open). I called recreation.gov and the nice man explained that the campground was open for the season but temporarily closed.
- Max speed limit in California when pulling a trailer is 55 mph. I liked this rule. I could calmly drive slow.
- Watch the weather and DOT reports. This one I think is obvious for everyone and I was on top of this. I ended up spending an extra day north of the Siskiyous waiting for the weather to improve.
- I’m fortunate. In southern Oregon and perhaps elsewhere, campgrounds are being used to house people that lost their home in the fires, in FEMA trailers.
I’m now at what I think of as the “start” of the trip. At Red Rock Canyon State Park California. I’ll start posting to my blog in a bit about the trip.