Homeless Car Campers

Since finally extricating ourselves from our house we have had limited internet connectivity and have been out adventuring. Here is a synopsis of the days.

Wednesday 26 Jul: checked cats into a kennel for the night and then ourselves into Great Wolf Lodge on our way South. We enjoyed water slide fun and the kids worked on their MagiQuest adventure. Jon and I were really happy to have a real bed, a few moments to come up with a plan to get us to Truckee, CA, and a chance to actually sleep after all of the moving out of the house work. We'd been on an air mattress since the end of May.
Great Wolf Lodge fun
Thursday 27 Jul: Daxton stood tall on the morning of the 27th so that he was tall enough to ride the howling tornado slide and go by himself on the inner-tube ride. He loved the crazy tornado slide and we went multiple times. He fell off the inner-tube on his first trip down alone. Which was funny in the incident report, when asked how tall, uh, 48in of course, certainly not 47.5 or anything that would not allow him to be alone on the inner-tube... We moved along in the afternoon, picking up the cats on the way. We stopped in Portland at REI to get a tent and some dinner. Then continued on to Eugene, OR where we stayed in a cat friendly hotel and swam in the pool before closing time.
Packed Car!
Night swim in cold "hot" tub
Friday 28 Jul: grabbed breakfast and a little pool time at the hotel and then headed off to Crater Lake. We secured a walk up camp site and went off sight seeing. The Lake was a real highlight for us all. It is beautiful, there was some snow and it was formed by a massive volcanic eruption - all cool things for Ronan and Daxton (and us adults too). The boys got their junior ranger badges and we went on a hike and enjoyed a dinner of appetizers and desserts with a lovely view of the lake.
A.M. pool time
Crater Lake
Lake Panoramic
Dinner view
Lake from hike Panoramic
Snow fun
Hiking path
Saturday 29 Jul: started a drive around the eastern rim of Crater Lake to see some more things. We had no cell coverage and were in 2 cars still at this point. The boys and I were out front and at some point I finally realized Jon was no longer behind us. Turned around eventually and went back to look for him. Found him with a lot of things on the side of the road (both cars were fully loaded!) and the spare tire nearly finished being put on. He blew out the side wall on a pot-hole. After reloading the car, we did do a couple of stops on the eastern rim and then headed off to Truckee to see Jon's brother and family, putting 400+ miles on the spare.
Cat hiking
View from hike
More view
How I found Jon
What it took to get to that point
I think he's still smiling?
"Phantom Ship" view spot
Phantom Ship (island on left side)
Panoramic from same spot
Can still see "Phantom Ship"
More lake
Pumice Castle (orange on right side)
King of the snow
Two kings now!
Falls near the lake
Another view of Vidae Falls
Sunday 30 Jul: hung out in Truckee. I mapped out a rough National Park plan and laid out dates for visits to family and friends. Jon visited with his brother and unloaded a number of things from his car that were for Brandon, Jamie and Cal, plus some ski stuff that they agreed to keep for us. The boys played with their cousin and their cousin's cousin (Brooks) who was also visiting. In the late afternoon we went down to Donner Lake for a swim.
Cousins with trucks!
Donner Lake swim time!
Monday 31 Jul: continued hanging out in Truckee. Went on a morning hike with Brandon and Cal and then left the kids behind with their Aunt and Uncle while Jon and I went to Reno to secure a hitch hauler and some additional camping gear for the upcoming adventures. We were well aware we still had far too much stuff and needed to be a bit better organized. Reno took far longer than expected and proved to be a bit frustrating. We were happy to get back to Truckee for pre-dinner drinks and more family time.
Lake Tahoe Panoramic
Hike view of Lake Tahoe
Inland Panoramic
Hanging out
Tuesday 1 Aug: Brandon, Jamie & Cal (plus Brooks) all headed out on their camping adventure and we worked to get the hitch hauler set up, do some laundry and get organized. We headed to the winery in the afternoon for some wine (adults) and Bocce ball (all), then to the lake again for a swim. Back "home" we made some dinner and continued packing and preparing.
Family Picture
Bocce Ball
More Bocce
Wednesday 2 Aug: sell back the diesel Passat day!!! Got up and finished packing up the Audi and tried to clean up after ourselves. Jon took off to the Reno VW dealership to ensure he made the appointment and the boys, cats and I all followed shortly thereafter. We picked Jon up in Reno and began heading towards Yosemite, now all in one (still over packed) car. We stayed in the Honeymoon Flats campground that was just off the route to Yosemite. We secured a great spot right next to a creek that was really flowing and that Daxton had proudly chosen.
Still overpacked!
Camp site
Hike from camp
Hike Panoramic
My happy place - kid playing in river and good wine!
Thursday 3 Aug: packed up camp and drove to Yosemite. No luck with the walk up campground (at 10:30 we were number twenty something on the waiting list at Toulame Meadows) and were told to try back at 2 pm to see if there was a spot. Drove along the northern part of Yosemite and tried our luck at Tamarack Flats, nothing there either. Went back towards Toulame Meadows and had lunch at  a lake. No luck off of standby for the campground so headed into the Yosemite Valley. Got into the valley late in the day thanks to the campground shenanigans. Did a little hiking and site seeing and the boys wanted to try to get their junior ranger badges, but a ranger presentation was required (with signature proof!) and we didn't have time to get to any and turn in the sheet before the visitor center closed. We did some more hiking / site seeing and then decided we needed to head out to try to get a campsite. We opted not to walk out to the historic hotel and then ended up some what regretting it as we were in standstill traffic for quite some time and the time would have been better spent seeing the hotel. We did luck out with a campsite for the night right outside of the park - we arrived at dusk, threw up the tent and all crashed.
Lunch spot






Friday 4 Aug: checked to see if we were lucky enough to get an extra night at that campsite (we put ourselves on standby the night before when checking in); we were not. The kids decided that they did not need to go back into Yosemite. They really didn't like the traffic jam from the night before. So we packed up and drove on to King's Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. We arrived around noon and got a walk up campsite in between the 2 Parks (Stony Creek). We set up camp and then ventured into King's Canyon where we saw the General Grant Sequoia, the kids quickly did all their work for the junior ranger badge for King's Canyon / Sequoia Parks (the boys were disappointed that these Parks share badges and they couldn't get 2) and drove into the Canyon. The trees were so unimaginably big and the canyon was beautiful with lots of white water in the river. We returned back to camp and had a pleasant evening with lamb chops, corn and s'mores all cooked over the camp fire.

Saturday 5 Aug: Jon drove in to Sequoia to pick up cave tour tickets (limited number of daily tickets available to walk ups) and we were able to pick up another night at the campground but had to move sites. We did camp chores, cooked some lunch and moved sites. Then we headed into Sequoia National Park. We saw lots more amazing trees and made it to our cave tour. The tour was really interesting and the boys were so into it that they were embarrassingly harassing the tour guide. Tricky to encourage the enthusiasm but teach them that they can't monopolize the tour. After the cave tour we did the Sequoia museum, hiked a bit more, saw some more giant Sequoias, including the General Sherman tree, and saw a black bear cub in a tree. We arrived back to the campsite after dark and I collapsed into bed while Jon cooked and fed the boys.

General Sherman Sequoia
Sunday 6 Aug: we packed up and drove out through Sequoia National Park. We planned to hike, but really only stopped to see a few more trees since there was no clear path and everything was steep where we had stopped. Plus we had a big driving day ahead of us to get to the Santa Ynez Valley. We hit some traffic and arrived at Lake Cachuma around 5:30pm. We got set up and headed to Buellton to see my mom. The boys enjoyed all of my reminiscing about where I went to high school and the places that I worked. I was shocked by the changes to the town - many more fast food / big chain stores (makes it hard for the kids to understand how boring the Valley could be to teenagers in my day). Jon and I also laughed about the Windmill Days Inn being renamed the Sideways Inn (if you've seen Sideways you might understand, if you are from Santa Ynez, then you will understand).

Monday 7 & 8 Aug: hanging out with Grammy and Grandpa. Went to my Mom's to visit, eat good food, steal Wi-Fi, do laundry, re-freeze ice packs and that type of thing. We will visit again with them tomorrow and probably walk around Solvang. Then we plan to head out towards the Grand Canyon, passing through Death Valley on the 9th of Aug. I expect we will have limited internet again and the next update will be from Jon's parents' place in Denton, TX - where we will again visit, eat good food, steal Wi-Fi, do laundry, re-freeze ice packs, etc. Homelessness is definitely made easier with stops in to see family!

1 comment:

  1. So many of the photos take my breath away and the narrative is terrific!