Our Spring Snowbird RV Trip – Hitting The Road

Mule Deer, BC
Our front yard before we left for the south, Mule Deer, BC

I must apologize to my readers, internet access problems have delayed my postings since the beginning of our trip.

Day 1

Traveling during winter months can be challenging, special attention to the weather along the route is vital if you don’t want to encounter snow and ice covered roads.
This kind of weather at the very least could delay your trip or worse, cause and accident. I learned the hard way to keep a close eye on route weather. One trip south we had to park on the side of the road for a night waiting for the snow to stop……..not fun.
Our original plan was to leave Saturday, Feb. 4 but the forecast at home indicated snow, beginning Friday and continuing for several days.
Fortunately, snow accumulation was limited to BC and northwestern Washington from there the forecast indicated rain for our route.
I’m the planner for this trip so I recommended we move our departure day up one to avoid the snow. As it turned out I looked like a genius.
The snow began Friday morning and continued for several days dropping an unprecedented three feet in some areas.
As luck would have it the group was able to move up appointments and obligations. A lesson learned when planning a trip be prepared to leave earlier or later, especially during winter the weather is unpredictable.
We didn’t escape the storm totally driving on treacherous snow and ice covered roads for the first couple of hours, once we reached the interstate 5 in Bellingham, Washington the highway had been salted and sanded leaving wet pavement ahead of us.
We were home free and continued south to Olympia where we stocked up on supplies at the local Walmart. Lynda and I always cross the border from Canada into the US with minimal supplies, to avoid being turned back.
The rules are alway changing as to what is accepted and what isn’t, even dog food is a no no in most instances.
After stocking up we headed to Lucky Eagle Casino to spend the night, located ten miles off I-5.
Mike and Kris planned to cross the border at Blaine, Washington while Ralph, Lois, Lynda and I met in Aldergrove, BC and crossed together.
The plan was to meet Mike and Kris at the first fuel stop, in Arlington, Washington. Unfortunately, an electrical issue with their 5th wheel delayed their departure and a stop for repairs was necessary.
During a phone conversation with Mike, it seemed a less than an intelligent move by himself and his navigator caused the electrical problem.
Later he filled us in that they inadvertently drove their truck forward forgetting that the 5th wheel electrical plug was still attached to the truck causing the damage.
Lucky Eagle Casino is a great place to spend the night, free dry camping. The area resembled an RV park with paved angled pads surrounded by grass and paving stone walkways between the rigs.
By the time Mike and Kris arrived, happy hour was in full swing, once set up for the night happy hour was a way to kill time waiting for them.
Mike and Kris were glad to arrive safe and sound after their ordeal with electrical repairs and the snow storm.
After a glass or two of wine, the group headed to the casino for a seafood buffet dinner. A great meal for $18.
Early to bed after a tiring tense drive through snow and ice.

Day 2

Rain continued through the night and the morning. Our departure time was to be 8:30, we were anxious to get some distance between us and the snow.
The concern of encountering snow or ice on the highway was on everyone’s mind. I tried to ease the feeling by mentioning if we encounter snow we will simply turn off the highway and camp for a night or two until the situation improves.
The solution sounds simple but in actual practice, it may be much more complicated, there may not be a place to get off the highway should we run into bad driving conditions.
Lucky Eagle Casino provides free internet which allowed me to check our route weather conditions.
Thankfully the I-5 weather app indicated no adverse weather, the drive should be uneventful except for periods of rain.
The forecast was correct, the day’s drive was filled with rain, heavy at times and some sunny breaks. The traffic was heavy through the major centers but through rural areas, it was moderate at worst.
Semi-trailers were the most dominated traffic as is on most interstate highways. A quick sandwich during a fuel stop at a Pilot truck stop and a potty break at a rest stop was our only breaks for the day.
Our destination this day is Seven Feathers Casino in southern, Oregon. Lynda and I have stopped there many times on our spring trips south. Another free dry camping stop with a limit of five days.
As with many casinos, they provide twenty-four-hour security patrols and a shuttle to and from the casino.
Seven Feathers Casino dry camping area
Seven Feathers Casino dry camping area
Seven Feathers also offers an easy access fuel station as well as a full hook up RV park across the highway, of course, there is a nightly charge although not excessive.
We arrived around 3:30 pm under partly cloudy skies, the dry camping area at the casino was almost empty. We had our choice of spots. The north side of the lot next to a large grassy field was our choice.
The temperature in our units was cool so furnaces and clay pots were activated to chase away the chill. Using a clay pot upside down on a stove burner provides warmth without using the furnace and battery power.
This evening happy hour was in Ralph and Lois’s roomy and comfortable new travel trailer. Dinner and early to bed was the theme after recapping the day over a glass of wine.

Day 3

No rain overnight or in the morning as we prepared to leave. The anticipation of passing through the last remaining mountain passes before descending into the flatter warmer northern California agricultural area was on my mind as we pulled back onto I-5 south.
The morning drive started well, no rain and dry roads, but the good weather was not to last, as we climbed to Shasta mountain the temperature dropped like a rock to just above freezing, the wind increased and rain began to fall sideways.
We were all feeling tense as we climbed through the rain and clouds. Thankfully no snow before we reached the summit and began the long descent toward Shasta Lake and warmer, dryer weather.
Leaving the mountains just before Redding, California brought 60 degrees and partial sunshine a more than welcome feeling. Finally, we were encountering temperatures not enjoyed since sometime last summer.
Our destination today was Calusa Casino, in Calusa, California. Another free dry camping stop and maybe another buffet, my favorite. Although Lynda says we over- eat and gain weight, not sure about that?
Before leaving the freeway for the casino another stop at Walmart, apparently, the coming evening’s happy hour was to be enjoyed at Mike and Kris’s rig. Their concern was they were unprepared with only a couple of bottles of wine, Yellowtail and Malbec.
We arrived at Calusa Casino around 4:30 under gray skies. The casino is located about ten miles east of I-5.
Once the rigs were set for the night, the guys and I worked on Ralph’s quad deck, the screws and glue on one of the supports let loose and the deck was sagging.
Ralph jacked up the side and screwed another piece of wood under the deck. A temporary fix that would hopefully last until our next stop.
After the repairs were completed time for happy hour and another buffet. This buffet was not as interesting as the previous one but a bit cheaper around $17 each.
Rain and wind began during happy hour and continued through the night. Rain torrents landing on the roof and wind shaking our trialer, woke Lynda and I several times through the night.
Day 4
The wind and rain tapered off by morning, we awoke to partly sunny skies and heavy dew, and a cool 53 degrees F.
Sunshine was a welcome break from the rain we endured so far on the trip. We headed back to I-5 from Calusa casino. Dark gray clouds moved in and before long they were hurling torrents of rain at us as we made our way through Sacramento and Stockton.
The freeway continued straight as an arrow due south through orchards and vegetable fields as far as the eye can see. The weather improved to sunny periods and the temperature rose nicely to the mid 70’s.
A longer day’s drive today to Rosamond, California our next stop and a three-night stay at Lois Stevens, a Boondocker Welcome member.
‘Boondockers Welcome’ is a website that unites RVers from across the US and Canada providing free camping on private property. This was our first experience after joining the website.
We arrived at Lois Stevens home in the high desert about 5 pm. Fields solar panel and forests of wind turbines told the story of a sunny and windy area.
Lois’s son Anthony greeted us and directed us through a side gate to a large area behind their house.
Lois & Anthony's back yard 'Boondockers Welcome'
Lois & Anthony’s back yard ‘Boondockers Welcome’
Lois’s picture on the ‘Boondockers Welcome’ website showed a grandma, probably in her seventies. This would put Anthony’s age in his 50’s confirmed by his long flowing gray locks.
Our camping spot was perfect, Anthony pointed out a water hose as well as several RV park-style 30 amp electrical connections.
The group was pleasantly surprised at having free power and water, we decided immediately this gesture from Lois and Anthony would not go unappreciated.
Everyone was tired from the longest driving day so far and there didn’t appear to be a fire pit on the property so an early night was the consensus.
Thanks for visiting
Gord B.

 

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