California Dreamin’?

Okay okay okay. I know, it’s been a while, so sue me. Well, after leaving The Ranch in Lakewood, NM, we drove into Demming and overnighted at the Dream Catcher RV Park, an Escapee/Rainbow park we stayed in previously. We had pretty much seen most of the local sights our last time through; City of Rocks State Park, Rockhound State Park, ate at the Adobe Deli. So the overnighter was sufficient for our purposes this time around. 

We got up bright and early and headed into Benson, AZ to another repeat stop, the Saguaro SKP co-op RV park. We only stayed a couple of nights, basically to catch up on laundry, since we again had ventured out during a previous stop here for their sights; Tombstone (and Boothill cemetery), Bisbee (and the Queen Mine), and Council Rocks. Something eerie happened during this stop. I took Woodrow Wilson out for a walk by ourselves through the desert outback behind this park. We walked up a lengthy wash probably a mile or so. I had taken Woody off his leash since he really enjoys running free in the desert, and he hasn’t had issues related to taking off on his own. We were poking along and without warning or reason Woody suddenly made an about-face and SPRINTED back in the direction we had come from. He disappeared quickly! Well, I headed back, practicing all of my four lettered vocabulary all the way, some of it volume enhanced, until I reached the park. I found Woodrow sitting at the front door of our rig, it appeared he jetted straight back on his own. I have no idea what had spooked him. Jeanne said he just missed her on the walk.

Next stop, back to KOFA co-op SKP park in good ol’ Yuma, AZ for a couple of nights there before heading back into California. We were getting frustrated with the water quality throughout the south/southwest (lots of mineral deposits and nasty water spotting on the Jeep and bus), so we took the opportunity to load up some gallon jugs with the co-op’s reverse osmosis water for consumption before continuing on into California. We were driving on I-8 westbound which took us into some pretty steep mountains that looked like a mega-version of the City of Rocks in New Mexico. The grade was pretty extreme as well, good enough to rival the Grapevine in intensity but less on distance. The bus took the grades like a champ.

After being asked by other Escapee members many times over, “Have you seen Jojoba Hills yet?”, we finally made it to the Jojoba Hills SKP co-op park in Aguanga, CA, just outside of Temecula. HOLY MOLY! This 55+ park was impressive. Now, we’ve been full timin’ on the road for over 2 years, back and forth ocean to ocean a couple of times. We have been talking about having a base to operate from for a while, and with most of our families still in California and the fact that we have now wintered the last two years here, we looked hard at Jojoba Hills as that base.  We would still be Texas residents, just with a park in California to stop off for a month or two in between travels.The park itself is a gated community in the middle of the desert near the Palomar Mountains. The scenery is spectacular; mountains, valleys, sunsets. The park is run by volunteerism with a very small paid staff. The clubhouse is huge, the pool/spa area is resort quality overlooking the valley. There is a billiard room, small but effective gym/workout room (machines AND free weights), saunas, card rooms, huge media library (books, DVD’s), huge crafts room (quilting), separate arts trailer, tennis/pickleball courts, horseshoes pit, miniature golf course, a fully established outdoor airgun shooting range, on site storage area for RV’s, and exceptional landscaping throughout the park. And the town of Temecula, 14 miles away, is about 105K population with outstanding shopping areas and malls. In other words, we were so impressed we went ahead and got on the waiting list for lease holders. We started as number 16 on the list and were told the wait would probably be 2-6 months. As far as SKP parks buy-ins go, the cost to lease a space here is $30K + change, a bit pricier than most of the other parks we have been to. The beauty of the lease thing is once we no longer wish to be a member/lessee here, we get that $30K back in full. The only cost would be a monthly maintenance dues of about $280-ish. Any of the voted on “special assessments” that occur now and then are also fully refunded at termination of membership. We stayed here about a week on this initial stop, and left with an extremely optimistic outlook toward our future continued full-timing adventures with a new base to connect with.
One site at Jojoba Hills, where we stayed the first time around. TERRIBLE view, don’t you think?

The pool, with another TERRIBLE view.

The building behind the pool which houses card room, library, billiard room, and exercise room.

The airgun shooting range.

The shooting stations at the airgun range.

A look down on the scattered sites at Jojoba Hills.
With the Gladiator’s (Max’s) 3rd birthday party planned for the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, we headed toward Santa Rosa. On the way, a 2 day stop was called for to visit our son and daughter-in-law in Atascadero. We stayed at the Wine Country RV Resort in Paso Robles. This was a bit pricey ($59 including tax and 10% law enforcement discount, others available) but a very clean, spacious park with pool, spas, and exercise room. We had a nice meal at AJ Spur’s Steakhouse and a very nice albeit short visit with the kids.

We arrived in Santa Rosa a few days before the big birthday party. It is unfortunate but Sonoma County is like all the rest of California—places to park an RV are few and far between and generally are really overpriced. The one “fairly” (pun intended) reasonable park in Santa Rosa is actually the Sonoma County Fairgrounds RV park. We stayed there before and they have the usual club discounts, but they still charge $35/night for a gravel parking lot with hookups. And the fairgrounds has a 14 day stay limit. Jeanne had previously cracked a crown on one of her molars while we were in Texas, where she got the temporary fix done. At that time she made an appointment with our previous family dentist in Santa Rosa in early December to get the permanent fix done. That took us well over the 14 day limit, but thankfully they allow hardship extensions and we definitely qualified. So we stayed until the 13th. Besides the birthday, we had a nice Thanksgiving time with our daughter, son-in-law, and Max. The one thing that struck us was the change in the Santa Rosa area. We lived there our entire adult lives and liked the area for the most part. But this visit the city got especially crowded! Traffic was a nightmare all day long. The freeway on-ramps had metering lights now and all that accomplished was to back traffic up on different highways other than Hwy. 101, which continued to be congested. And the landscape changed—there was trash/garbage alongside the roads everywhere we went and none of the governmental landscaping was kept up or neatly trimmed. It also looked as if someone brought in a trainload of transient, stinky, drunken, bums to populate downtown. Man-oh-man I don’t miss dealing with that…I managed to poke my head in on some of my former co-workers at the courthouse at lunchtime one day, had a nice visit with them. We also got a short visit with our former neighbors Cheri and Paul (next door) and Tami (across the street) one night. However, I have to apologize to Greg and Chuck and Paul for not having enough time in town to at least drive by and yell “Howdy” at ‘em. My regrettable “snub list” is starting to get unruly.
Happy Birthday, big fella!

Having WAY too much fun!

Future Giants superstar...
Since Christmas was planned to be hosted by our son and daughter-in-law in Atascadero, we decided we would go back to Jojoba Hills and see if we could hole up there for a longer period of time and just drive the Jeep up to Chad’s for XMAS. We stopped off overnight in Atascadero again, had a nice breakfast visit with Chad and Crissy, then drove to Ventura for another overnighter. There, we found the Rincon Parkway, a Ventura County Park right on the beach in the Sea Cliff area. This is a $28/night “campground” (parallel parking spaces along the highway to fit 45’ rigs) literally boondocking on the ocean. You just can’t beat the view, we saw an awesome sunset and in the morning watched a school of dolphins swim by. This is a must-return-to destination for sure. 
HORRIBLE view!

Ho-hum, just another sunset!

Dolphins playing through…
And from Ventura it was back to Jojoba Hills SKP park. Traffic was terrible right through the heart of the beast (downtown L.A.). We got to the park and they were able to put us up. We got in just in time for their ice-cream social. And just to illustrate how small the “full-timer universe” is, Jeanne walked into the club house for ice-cream and I would have thought we ran into a rock star. She pointed across the room and said, in a very excited “I-see-a-rock-star” manner, “There’s Dave and Diane!” It seems she has been following Dave’s blog for some time since we’ve been mobile. Well, we introduced ourselves and had a nice, short visit with them, comparing some of our travels.

Well, I think I am caught up again on this thing. I will try to add posts a little more regularly but fear I will continue to fail miserably. Until next time…

About rvrrat520

Recreational wanderers just livin' the dream while we can still get vertical.
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