I’m Not Even Sure What to Say About 2020

Where to begin?

Every year I like to write a post that wraps up the previous year’s travels with a proverbial bow, reliving all of the joy and wonderment we experienced. You can see how this is usually a fun little project by checking out the posts for 2018 and 2019. Obviously, this year is different. Like, so, so different.

We started the year spending the winter in the San Diego area as full-time Airstreamers and ended the year living in a condo in Bozeman, Montana. To say things took an unexpected turn is a bit of an understatement. I know that COVID-19 affected the life of pretty much every one on the planet, in a wide range of ways. We are so very grateful to be able to say that, as of this post, we have not personally experienced the virus, or lost loved ones to it. We know there are so many that can’t say the same, and our hearts hurt for the pain and loss others have experienced during this time. We know it’s still going to be a long road for our community, our country, and our planet, but we’re hopeful and optimistic that 2021 will eventually bring some health and happiness.

Besides the isolation, frustration, and disappointment that the pandemic brought to our lives, we also had to deal with the loss of our third amigo, our travel buddy, our faithful canine companion — Max. We said goodbye to Max on February 25th, just two days shy of his 15th birthday. When we first started our full-time travel life, we were so unsure how well Max would adapt. It turns out there was no need to worry, because he was the BEST Airstream dog. He slept through travel days like a champ and preferred so stay ‘home’ whenever Travis and I would venture out. The strangeness of not having a dog around after 15 years was compounded by the weirdness of the early days of the pandemic. Ten months later, and we still miss him dearly, but the thought of him no longer triggers a twinge in the heart.

So, yeah, 2020 hasn’t been the most enjoyable year, but we did have some good times and we were able to travel to some great places. Let’s look at some of that joy and wonderment we DID get to experience.

We travelled 4,608 miles across nine states — California, Nevada, Utah, Montana, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Dakota. Our longest travel day (which we’ll never do again) was 738 miles (you can read about that here) and our shortest travel day was 19 miles. We averaged $36.78/night for site fees, which is almost $10 less per night than 2019, so, yay us!

Michigan was the only new state we added to our travel map this year, making it our 20th state that we’ve ventured to with the Airstream. We were very happy to be able to spend some time in Michigan in fall — such a great time to be in the area!

While we had originally planned to visit a number of new National Park Service sites this year, we were able to make it to only eight, with four being new and four being return visits.

The four new sites were:

Capitol Reef National Park

Check out more from our visit to Capitol Reef here.

Voyageurs National Park

Our visit to Voyageurs makes 19 national parks visited thus far! Check out more from our visit to Voyageurs here.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Check out more from our visit to Pictured Rocks here.

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Check out more from our visit to Apostle Islands here.

The other four sites we were able to revisit were:

Zion National Park

Due to the pandemic, the only exploring we did of Zion during this time was to take a drive up the canyon, which is usually closed to vehicles, but was open because the shuttles weren’t running.

Check out more about our visit to Zion here. Read more about our previous visit here and here.

Yellowstone National Park

Check out more from our visit to Yellowstone here. Read more about our previous visit here.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Check out more about our visit to Roosevelt NP here. Read about our previous visit here.

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument 

Check out more about our visit to Little Bighorn here. Read about our previous visit here.

But our year wasn’t just about the parks! Take a look at some of the other things that brought us joy this year ->

We visited some of the ‘World’s Largest’ statues:

We ran into some interesting creatures in the Anza-Borrego Desert:

We tried a new sport:

We were able to meet up with a handful of other full timers:

We enjoyed some beach days and amazing sunsets:

Pre-pandemic, we were able to spend time with some of our favorite people:

And when we didn’t think it was going to happen, we ended up being able to spend some safe, socially distanced time with family:

The pandemic forced us to change our travel plans for 2020 (goodbye, hard-earned FL state park reservations!), so we made a decision. A big one. Even though the RV lifestyle somewhat prepared us for pandemic life (you can read about that here), it didn’t make sense for us to stay on the road. After dealing with multiple reservation cancellations and watching things close as the case numbers rose, we decided that the best thing for us was to get off the road and settle down for the time being. One of the best parts of full timing is not only exploring the natural wonders of our country, but also meeting new people along the way and checking out things in each city we visit — restaurants, museums, community events, etc. With all of these things closed, traveling just wasn’t that enjoyable. And we wanted to make sure we stayed healthy. So, we purchased a condo in Bozeman, Montana in July. Read more about what led to that decision here.

We’ve been enjoying safely exploring our new city:

And we’re learning to embrace winter (kind of):

But probably the weirdest thing to happen to us personally in 2020, is our appearance on HGTV’s House Hunters!

We filmed the episode in August and it aired in December. It highlighted our transition from full-time travel to part-time condo living. It was an interesting and tiring experience!

Which brings me to what’s next for us:

We plan to continue to travel in the Airstream — A LOT. It’s nice to have a home base to return to when we need a break or something comes up, but we miss being on the road. We’ll get back out there once we feel comfortable doing so, which for us means when we’re both vaccinated. It’s been nice to take a pause and enjoy some of the things you give up when you live tiny, such as a king-size bed, a dishwasher, a washer & dryer, and easy access to our mail, medical care, and good grocery stores. There’s still so much left to explore! And we aren’t really cold weather people, so we’re looking forward to seeking out warmth in the coming winters.

We’re wishing everyone a safe and healthy 2021! Hopefully, we’ll see you somewhere out there!

 

A Few Days in the Desert: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

The drive from Temecula to Anza-Borrego is a bit curvy with grades, so our short drive day took a little longer than expected, but it was worth it! As previous San Diego residents, we had never been here before, which feels a bit blasphemous now. The nights are quiet, the sky is huge, and the stars shine bright — all things everyone could use a little bit more of in their life, I believe.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in the lower 48 and lies in three Southern California counties, making up one-fifth of San Diego County with its 600,000 acres. It’s also a certified International Dark Sky Park, which is “a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment.”

There are multiple campgrounds throughout the park ranging from no reservation, dry camping to reservation needed, full hookups. As with many California State Parks, and state parks in general, getting a reservation isn’t the easiest and does require some planning. We were able to reserve two nights in the no hookup section of Borrego-Palm Canyon Campground a few months ago, and at a later date, after a cancellation, were able to reserve two more nights in the full hookup section.

NOTE: Check in time is 2pm with no exceptions, and they definitely adhere to it. We arrived at 1:38 and they let us preregister, but would not allow us to go to our site. We drove over to the Visitor Center where there is RV parking, and bought some souvenirs and picked up all of the literature we would need for our visit, before heading back to the campground.

Borrego-Palm Canyon Campground

200 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs, CA

www.reservecalifornia.com

  • Dry Camping Sites (Max Length 25′)
  • Full Hookup Sites (Max Length 35′)
  • Dump Station
  • Restrooms with Flush Toilets
  • Token-Operated Showers
  • Water Spigots
  • Fire Pits
  • Picnic Tables
  • Shade Structures in Dry Camping Sites
  • Firewood for Sale

Our first two nights were spent in Site 72 in the dry camping section of the campground. The literature for the campground states that the max length of these sites is 25′. However, our trailer is 28′ from hitch to bumper, and we were able to squeeze in while still being able to park our truck at the front of the site. When reserving a site here, I looked at not only the listed length on the website, but also the Google Map satellite image where I could see that we’d be able to back up quite a bit further than the length of the pad. Not all of the sites would have fit us, so do your research if you have a longer rig — we were definitely the longest trailer in this section of the campground! The sites in this section are sporadically placed and offer more distance from your neighbor than the sites in the full hookup section.  The sites with the best views are 73, 75, 77, 79, 81, 83, 84, 85, and 87. The restrooms and showers aren’t anything special, but they are clean and all individual, so you have privacy and safety.

An iPhone photo in no ways does the night sky any justice, but as you can see, even with bright moonlight and campfires burning, the stars were out in force.
We just fit into our site!
We backed up as far as we could without hitting the shade structure and still being able to deploy our awnings — which is key in the desert without A/C.
Our site was a little odd in that the fire pit and picnic table were opposite the door side of our trailer, but the site itself is spacious with nice views.

We spent the next two nights in site 33 in the full hookups section. All of the sites here are pull throughs and the sites with the best views are 50 and 51. The sites here are definitely longer, with us being able to park our truck in the same direction as the trailer, as opposed to perpendicular to it. Also, when friends visited, they were able to park their car at an angle behind the Airstream.

At site 33, there is shrubbery and a palm tree to give some separation from the neighboring site.

Borrego Palm Canyon is one of the quietest places we’ve ever stayed. People seemed to go to bed pretty early, but especially in the dry camping section, where there are a lot of tents and vans.

There are about 110 miles of hiking trails throughout Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and there are three trails that leave right from Borrego Palm Canyon Campground:

  • Trail to Visitor Center — Dog and bike friendly; Flat; Easy; Paved; .7 mile one way.
  • Panoramic Overlook Trail — Moderate with loose rock and 300′ of elevation gain; 1.6 mile roundtrip.
The wildflowers are out in force!
View of Borrego Palm Canyon Campground from the overlook.
  • Borrego Palm Canyon Trail — Fairly flat with loose rock and some scrambling; 375′ of elevation gain; Currently open portion is about a 2.25-mile loop.
The landscape along the trail is absolutely beautiful!
We were lucky to see at least a half dozen endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep.
Friends from Oceanside drove out to spend the day with us and the Ocotillo.
Due to a fire, the portion of the trail that leads to the palm oasis and waterfall was closed, but there was still a lot of beauty to see along the way, like these beavertail cactus.

Another fun hike that’s about a 25-minute drive from the campground is The Slot, which, in cased you haven’t guessed, is a slot canyon. The road to the trailhead, where you’ll find pit toilets and a parking lot, is about 2 miles of washboard gravel, but not awful. It’s an easy, 1.6-mile out and back hike through a narrow slot. There’s an option to make it a loop if you continue past the end of the slot, but as we didn’t have the AllTrails app open to follow the correct route (there’s no defined trail) we turned back after a bit because we didn’t really feel like getting lost in the desert that day.

This is what it looks like when you exit the end of the slot canyon — it’s pretty wide open and difficult to tell what direction to go, so make sure to have a map!

Galleta Meadows is privately owned land in Borrego Springs that’s home to over 130 metal sculptures by Ricardo Breceda. The Meadows are unfenced and open to the public — and definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in the area!

Our stay in Anza-Borrego was our last stop before wrapping up our winter in California and it was definitely a highlight! There’s a lot of boondocking to be had in this area, but seeing as this was our first time here, we took the safe route and stayed in a developed campground. And as it got really hot on Friday of our stay, we were glad to have an electric hookup to use A/C. Of note, gas is extremely expensive out here. Make sure to fill up before the trip out and search for gas stations a bit removed from Borrego Springs if you need to fill up again. About 45 minutes outside of Borrego Springs, we passed a gas station that was at least $1.50 less per gallon. Also, there’s a small market in town that is a catchall type of store and has the necessities — but I would not call it a grocery store. If you need specific items, bring them with you.

A Couple Days in Temecula

After leaving San Diego on March 1, we drove all of 55 miles to spend a couple of nights in Temecula. The main purpose of this pitstop was so that we could drop the Airstream off at Airstream Inland Empire and have the brakes checked. You may recall, back in September we had an issue where one of our brakes needed to be replaced fairly emergently. Before heading back on the road, we wanted to make sure everything was copacetic. And it was. While in San Diego, we also had the brakes checked on the truck and the rear brakes replaced, so now we can continue our travels with one less thing to worry about.

We spent one night at the RV park at Pechanga Resort and Casino, one night in the hotel of the resort while the Airstream was getting looked at, and then another night at the RV park in order to get the fridge back up to temp after being shut off and to stock up on groceries as we’d next be heading to areas without real grocery stores.

For more about this RV park, read about our previous stays here and here. Of note, the Pechanga RV park is a part of Passport America and offers half off of the deluxe site rate Sunday through Wednesday night, making the stay very affordable at $30/night.

The Deluxe sites at Pechanga are the lowest level site, but they’re super nice and huge — and the only sites you can use Passport America on.

San Diego’s Best Kept RV Park Secret – Surf and Turf Del Mar

We decided to slow things down a bit this winter and spend four months in San Diego. This gave us the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time with friends; take care of doctor, dentist, eye, and vet appointments; join a gym; eat some good, healthy food; order all the things we couldn’t while on the road (big thanks to our friends that let us have packages sent to their houses); go on a few hikes; and Travis even got a trip with friends to Germany in. As we had lived in San Diego before Airstream life, we didn’t really do any touristy things during our stay. If you need recommendations for anything, send me a message and I can help you out.

We also had ample opportunity to clean out the truck and Airstream to get rid of junk, give away things we didn’t need anymore, and transfer stuff we wanted to keep to our storage unit. Even though we live pretty minimally, we still clean our cabinets, closets, and storage compartments on a quarterly basis, and there is ALWAYS stuff we aren’t using.

Surf & Turf RV Park

15555 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014

www.surfandturfrvpark.com

  • Water & Electric (30 amp only)
  • Three Sewer Pumps per Week
  • Propane Fill Once per Week
  • Nightly, Weekly, & Monthly Rates

This was our second stay at Del Mar’s Surf & Turf RV Park. Read about our previous stay here.

We spent all four months at Surf & Turf in Del Mar. At $650/month (including electricity), I don’t think any other RV park or campground in the San Diego area comes close to being this affordable. The bonus is that the location is perfect – you can get anywhere in coastal San Diego County in about 30 minutes (without traffic, of course).

As stated in our previous post, Surf & Turf is a pretty barebones RV park. With wide gravel sites, you park your tow vehicle next to your trailer, instead of in front of it. The electric could use some updating. They currently only offer 30 amp, which is fine for us. However, when we first pulled in and hooked up, our power kept tripping at the box. An electrician came to check it out and found a loose connection. After tightening everything up, we had no more issues, but it sounded as though it was not an uncommon occurrence. The pump truck comes around on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday – which generally works fine for two people, but you do need to keep an eye on your water usage. A propane fill truck comes through every Wednesday. Four months of having to go to a laundromat to do laundry got a little old, but the laundromat (Beachside Del Mar Laundromat) was very nice and it’s always great to get all of the laundry done in an hour and a half.

Del Mar’s Dog Beach is a short drive and a great place to take doggos to run around and get some exercise.

Surf & Turf is within walking distance of the Coast to Crest Trail at the San Dieguito Lagoon, which is a flat, 4.8-mile out and back trail. It’s a great trail for walking, running, and biking and is dog friendly.

I should also note that if you need full hookups, the Del Mar Fairgrounds (who owns Surf & Turf) has about 50 full hookup sites for $38/night. There are also restrooms with showers and laundry. We visited some other full-time Airstreamers that stayed there, and it’s definitely an acceptable place to stay for a bit — if you don’t mind being right next to the train tracks.

Food/Drink Places Nearby

There are a never-ending amount of food and drink options throughout San Diego, but our favorite restaurant in this particular area is Jake’s Del Mar. It’s one of those rare places that hits the restaurant trifecta – great food, great service, and great views. Make a reservation for about a half hour before sunset and request a table by the window – you won’t be disappointed!

When we’re traveling in more remote places, we REALLY miss having healthy food options. Thankfully, San Diego, and Southern California in general, does not disappoint on this front. Within a few minutes’ drive from Surf & Turf, you’ll find some great, healthy, fast-casual options in Mendocino Farms, Flower Child, and Urban Plates.

The Taco Stand has multiple locations throughout San Diego, but the closest one to Surf & Turf is a short drive up the 101 in Encinitas. If you’re not in the mood for one of the many taco options offered, get one of San Diego’s most popular eats — a California burrito.

For beer, check out Bottlecraft in Solana Beach. It’s a bit different than your average tasting room, as it’s part beer shop, part tasting room. They sell hundreds of bottled beers from multiple brewers that you’re able to carry out or drink in house. They also have about 20 beers on draft that are regularly rotated. Not a beer fan? They also sell wine, cider, and kombucha, as well as offer a menu of tasty sandwiches. If you’re in the mood for beer AND pizza, head to Pizza Port in Solana Beach. Bottlecraft is dog friendly, but 21+ only. Pizza Port is family friendly, with seating outside for your pups.

And of course, ice cream. Portland’s famous Salt & Straw recently opened a second San Diego location in Del Mar at the One Paseo shopping & dining complex. It is seriously the best ice cream I’ve ever had. Semi-national chain Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream recently opened its third San Diego location at the Del Mar Highlands shopping center. And if you want something a bit healthier, Yogurtland frozen yogurt is right up the street at the Del Mar Flower Hill Promenade.

 

 

A Synopsis of Our Second Year on the Road

Our second year as full-time Airstream dwellers/digital nomads/travelers has come and gone. We added a few new states to our travel map (North Dakota, Nebraska, and Idaho), crossed the northern border for the first time (it won’t be the last time), and traveled 7,607 miles (just 61 miles less than last year). Our longest drive day was 377 miles and our shortest was 6.5 miles. We averaged $46.63/night in lodging costs, thanks to spending 45 days in a condo/hotels at various times throughout the year while our converter was fixed, solar panels were installed, and modifications were done to the interior.

We continued to learn more about ourselves, our Airstream, our country, and the nomadic lifestyle. Here’s a look back at our second year on the road:

We visited 13 National Park Service sites, with 8 of them being new to us:

Zion National Park
Arches National Park
Canyonlands National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Petroglyph National Monument
Pompeys Pillar National Monument
Jewel Cave National Monument
Mohave National Preserve

We also revisited Death Valley, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Glacier, and Mount Rushmore.

With our return visit to South Dakota, we were able to conquer the remaining 3 sites of South Dakota’s Great 8, the other 5 of which we saw last summer:

Crazy Horse Memorial
Deadwood
Jewel Cave National Monument

The other 5 are Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park and the Missouri River.

We hiked, and hiked, and hiked…

Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve | Desert Hot Springs, CA
Mollies Nipple Trail | Hurricane, UT
Hidden Falls Trail | Grand Teton NP
Little Devil’s Tower Trail | Custer SP – Custer, SD
Hidden Lake Trail | Glacier NP

and paddled, and paddled, and paddled…

Sand Hollow SP | Hurricane, UT
Jackson Lake | Grand Teton NP
Lake Louise | Banff NP
Moraine Lake | Banff NP

and soaked, and soaked, and soaked.

Lava Hot Springs | Lava Hot Springs, ID
Bozeman Hot Springs | Bozeman, MT
Catalina Spa RV Resort | Desert Hot Springs, CA

We chased waterfalls…

Kanarra Falls | Kanarraville, UT
Hidden Falls | Grand Teton NP
Bridal Veil Falls | Spearfish, SD
Johnston Canyon Upper Falls | Banff NP
Virginia Falls | Glacier NP

but we also stuck to the rivers…

Firehole River | Yellowstone NP
Colorado River | Moab, UT
Missouri River | Helena, MT

and the lakes that we’re (not) used to.

Utah Lake | Utah Lake SP – Provo, UT
Jackson Lake | Grand Teton NP
Lake Agnes | Banf NP
Avalanche Lake | Glacier NP
Moraine Lake | Banff NP

We drank beer…

Miner Brewing Co. | Hill City, SD
Nordic Brew Works | Bozeman, MT
Deschutes Brewery | Portland, OR
Firestone Walker Brewing Company | Paso Robles, CA

and wine…

Prairie Berry Winery | Hill City, SD
Michael David Winery | Lodi, CA
Glunz Family Winery | Paso Robles, CA

and cocktails…

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise | Banff NP
Sky Bistro | Banff, AB
Glacier Distilling Company | Coram, MT
Jake’s Del Mar | Del Mar, CA

and tea.

Lake Agnes Tea House | Banff NP
Portland Japanese Garden | Portland, OR

We rode a gondola in Palm Springs…

and one in Banff.

(Have I mentioned I don’t like gondolas?)

We saw where Forrest Gump ended his run…

Mexican Hat, UT

and where Thelma and Louise drove off a cliff.

Dead Horse Point SP | Moab, UT

We saw lots of wildlife…

Death Valley NP
Beatty, NV
Grand Teton NP
Grand Teton NP
Yellowstone NP
Glacier NP
Banff NP

and visited the geographic center of the country.

Belle Fourche, SD

We added four new tires,

Discount Tire | Albuquerque, NM

two new batteries,

AM Solar | Springfield, OR

four new solar panels,

AM Solar | Springfield, OR

and a couch and a desk.

Ultimate Airstreams | Clackamas, OR
Ultimate Airstreams | Clackamas, OR
Ultimate Airstreams | Clackamas, OR

We had visitors in Las Vegas; Hurricane, UT; Custer, SD; and Glacier National Park:

 

Our second year on the road was fantastically fun and memorable, even with the issues we encountered. (I’m looking at you flat tire and junk converter.) All of the inconveniences we deal with are by far worth the amazing places we get to experience. Thanks for following along and we hope you stick around for 2020, our third year on the road — although we’re not really sure what’s in store yet!

 

A Return to Temecula – Pechanga RV Resort

This was our second stay at Pechanga RV Resort, located at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, CA. The main reason for this particular post is that I can only add a location to our map of where we’ve been if I have a blog post to go along with it — so, this is that post. Please click this link if you’d like to read about our last stay at Pechanga. Nothing new to report about the resort — it’s still well maintained with large sites and a great discount with Passport America and the casino is still really, really nice!

 

Wine Country RV Resort – Paso Robles, CA

We spent one week in beautiful Paso Robles at Wine Country RV Resort. The city of Paso Robles is located in central California, about 25 miles from the coast. The area is known for its wine, olive oil, and almonds. It’s an area we would definitely like to return to and explore more; though, probably during a cooler time of the year — practically the whole state was under a red flag (fire danger) warning while we there due to the hot and windy conditions. We had a pretty peaceful week that involved wine tasting, delicious dinners, lounging by the pool, and strolling through the cute downtown.

Wine Country RV Resort

2500 Airport Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446

www.sunrvresorts.com

  • Full Hookups
  • Pull-Thru Sites
  • Cottages
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Swimming Pool w/ Spa
  • Adults Only Spa
  • Fitness Center
  • Playground
  • Two Dog Runs
  • Picnic Table
  • Laundry
  • Communal Fire Pit
  • BBQ Grills
  • Harvey’s Corner (Outdoor Beer/Wine Bar Open on Thu, Fri and Sat)

We stayed in two different sites during our stay due to adding an additional night when we arrived. We spent the first five nights in the first site and the sixth night in the second site. Our first site was Site 10, which was a back in site with deck and patio table. A large oak tree provided nice shade, but also provided plenty of acorns for the resident squirrels, one of which decided to take his snack up into the engine area of our truck. (We got him out eventually.)

Site 10

Our second site was Site 79. It was another back in, but backed up to a hill and had a grassy front yard. While we had less shade from the sun here, we preferred this site for its grass and location.

Site 79

The RV resort is owned by Sun RV Resorts, who also owns the other popular RV resort in town, Cava Robles RV Resort. Sun resorts can be pricy, but they also are typically a part of the Passport America program. At Wine Country, Passport America can be used for four nights max Monday through Thursday. That’s exactly what we did, so we ended up paying an average of $75/night over our six nights as opposed to approximately $95/night. If we hadn’t added on an extra night when we got there, Friday, which has a higher rate than weeknights, our average would have been $66/night. That price is still high, but expected at such a nice resort in California, and this is a REALLY nice resort.

Even though it was hot, the pool was never busy during our stay.
It’s always nice when RV parks set aside some adults only space!

We visited three of the more than 200 wineries in the area: Tobin James Cellars; J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines; and Glunz Winery. All three had delicious offerings and we made sure to purchase ‘souvenirs’ at each.

Wine Tasting at Glunz Winery

If beer is more your thing, Firestone Walker Brewing is also located in Paso Robles. This property is HUGE! They offer tastings and brewery tours at their Visitor Center, delicious eats at their Taproom Restaurant, and any Firestone Walker products/paraphernalia your heart desires in their Brewery Emporium. Not knowing there was so much to explore, we only stopped in for a beer on the patio with Max in tow.

Between working, the heat, and hanging out around Paso Robles, we didn’t get a chance to explore other sites in the area. Hearst Castle is 40 miles away in San Simeon and the beaches of Morro Bay are just 30 miles. There are also great restaurants, museums, and shops throughout Paso Robles, so it’s definitely easy for a week or more to fly by in this great city!

Flag City and Wine Tasting in Lodi, CA

Our stop in Lodi, California was another two-night stay as we made our way south through California. We stayed at Flag City RV Resort, a Passport America member, which made the usual rate of $67/night only $33.50. Flag City is easily accessible from I-5 and there’s a Blue Beacon, Love’s and Flying J nearby.

Flag City RV Resort

6120 W. Banner Rd, Lodi CA 95242

www.flagcityrvresort.com

  • Full Hookups
  • Pull-Thru Sites
  • Picnic Table
  • Swimming Pool
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Laundry
  • Cable
  • Propane Fill
  • Recycling
  • Convenience Store
Our site, E11, was a level pull thru with concrete slab.

With longer drive days than usual and only staying two nights at each stop, our driving schedule allowed us to cover a lot of miles but didn’t give us much time to explore the places we stayed. However, seeing as we were in Lodi over a weekend, we were able to get out and make a visit to Michael David Winery, one of more than 80 wineries in the region. Michael David is only a 5-minute drive from Flag City and probably the most popular winery in the area. Lodi is the self-proclaimed ‘Zinfandel Capital of the World’ as 40% of California’s Zinfandel comes from this area. We made sure to leave with two different varietals from Michael David’s popular Freakshow line — the Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Michael David also has an onsite restaurant at which we ate a nice lunch.

Rolling Hills RV Park – Corning, CA

As we made our way from Southern Oregon to Southern California, we stopped in Corning, California and spent two nights at Rolling Hills RV Park.

Rolling Hills RV Park

2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning, CA 96021

www.rollinghillscasino.com

  • Full Hookups
  • Pull-Thru Sites
  • Laundry
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Casino, Gas Station, and Golf Course Onsite

This RV park — as well as the hotel, casino, truck stop, golf course, and gas station that are part of the property — is easily accessible from I-5. We made a reservation a few days in advance, but probably didn’t need to. Check in is quite easy. After you pay the $35/night fee, you drive through and find an open site. All sites are long, gravel pull-thrus with full hookups and a few bushes for privacy. It appears as though they recently expanded the size of the park by adding two more rows of sites, and it looks as though they’re ready to expand again as the area beyond the two newest rows was cleared and graded. The RV park itself is pretty low frill, with the restrooms, showers, and laundry being located in the Traveler’s Center, which are also use by the truckers. The onsite casino is nothing special and quite smokey, with a couple of restaurants, none of which we tried.

There was nothing special about this RV park, but it was clean, quiet(ish), cheap, and easily accessible. It’s a good place to stop for a night or two while driving along I-5. It’s one of those places that is fairly empty early to midday, fills up by late evening, and then empties out again in the morning.

Catalina Spa and RV Resort – Desert Hot Springs, CA

We spent one month at Catalina Spa and RV Resort in Desert Hot Springs, California. We really enjoyed this property as well as exploring the Palm Springs area. CatSpa, as it’s referred to, is a mineral hot springs resort with five different pools of varying temperatures. They’ve recently undergone some renovations including new restrooms, a new clubhouse and store, a new fitness center, a new dog park, and a new office. Many of the guests are snowbirds, retreating from the cold winters of Canada and the Northern U.S., but there are a few full time residents. While most stays are long term, we were in an area that seems to be for shorter term stays, with neighbors coming and going fairly often. All the sites are back in and some can be tight, but the staff helps direct you in to your spot, which was much appreciated. We were in site 6, which is on the smaller side of their sites, though we fit fine with our truck parked parallel in front of the trailer. We backed up to a tree line along the front of the property, which meant we had a little road noise, though not bad, but we also didn’t have neighbors behind us, which was quite nice.

Catalina Spa and RV Resort

18800 Corkill Road, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92241

www.catalinasparvresort.com

  • Full Hookups
  • Daily, Weekly, & Monthly Rates
  • Propane Fill
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Laundry
  • Fitness Center
  • Pickle Ball
  • Horseshoes
  • Cornhole
  • Bocci Ball
  • Mini Golf
  • Multiple Pools & Spas
  • Cottages
  • Mail Service
  • Store
  • Activities including live music, water volleyball, water aerobics, and food nights
Site 6
We spent many days in the the mineral hot springs pools!
This was the view on the other side of the trees at the back of our site. Note the wind turbines in the lower right corner. This area is VERY windy often.

 

There are a lot of things to do and places to explore in the Palm Springs/Desert Hot Springs area:

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

The tramway is used to access Mt. San Jacinto State Park, which offers hiking and primitive camping, as well as some great snowshoeing during the colder months. We were lucky enough to be able to visit after a recent snowfall. If nature isn’t your thing, the ride up is still beautiful, as well as the sights. Between the Valley Station at the bottom of the tram and the Mountain Station at the top, there is a museum, theaters, nature exhibits, visitors center, gift shops, and cafes & restaurants.

The tram rotates as it travels the 2.5 miles from the Valley Station (at 2,643 feet) to the Mountain Station (at 8,516 feet).
The park encompasses over 50 miles of hiking trails, primitive campgrounds, a ranger station, and an adventure center for winter activities.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day when we visited! You should expect the temperature to be at least 20 degrees cooler up top than it is in Palm Springs.
Snow is fun when you can ‘visit’ it and then quickly return to warmer temps!
On the lookout for wildlife, which can include bighorn sheep, coyote, fox, mountain lion, bobcat, mule deer, and much more!
The best!

Unfortunately, not long after our visit, Palm Springs experienced a once-in-a-century rain storm that washed out the road that leads to the tram. It is currently closed indefinitely.

Palm Springs Air Museum

CNN Travel rates the Palm Springs Air Museum as one of the top 14 air museums in the world. Its collection is largely aircraft from World War II, but also contains some planes from Korea and Vietnam. Sorry, I don’t know any of the details of the aircraft, but there were some beauties!

If you’re interested in planes or are a WWII history buff, then you’d probably really enjoy this museum. If you’re not, then you probably won’t. We were disappointed that the only plane, besides the cockpit pictured in the first and second pictures, that you are able to go inside is an additional $10 fee.

Palm Springs Art Museum

Located in downtown Palm Springs, the art museum is a nice little museum with an impressive collection. In addition to the artwork, there’s also a museum store, a small bistro to grab a bite to eat, two outdoor courtyards, and a theatre. If you enjoy art, I would definitely recommend a visit; I especially enjoyed the modern art wing.

Desert Adventure Red Jeep Tour

We did the San Andreas Fault Jeep Tour with Red Jeep Tours. It’s a three-hour tour on the company’s private preserve along the San Andreas Fault zone. There are six people per Jeep, and the other four in our group was a family — a grandma, mom, uncle and son. I fee like we missed out exploring a bit because the grandma had a hard time getting in and out the Jeep. The tour was just okay and I wouldn’t recommend it, but we did learn some things about the fault that we didn’t know before.

Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve

Thousand Palms Oasis is located in the Coachella Valley Preserve and has 30 miles of trails, multiple picnic areas, wildlife, oases, and if you time it right, wild flowers.  There’s a parking lot, pit toilets, and a visitor center housed in a 1930s palm log cabin. We followed the McCallum Trail to McCallum Pond, which is a pretty little oasis with picnic tables. We then continued on the Moon Country Trail, which is a 4.1-loop trail that’s not too strenuous, but gave us some great views of the recent wildflower super bloom.

Vintage Trailer Show During Modernism Week

Every year, Palm Springs hosts Modernism Week which celebrates midcentury architecture and design. There are a lot of different events, ranging from home tours, to films, to lectures, to bus tours, to the Vintage Trailer Show, which is the event that piqued our interest. The show displays vintage trailers, campers, buses, and motorhomes — some restored, some original. One trailer in particular stood out to us — the 1959 Airstream Traveler that was painstakingly restored into a masterpiece:

Of course, there were also a number of other beautiful, interesting, and quaint trailers:

 

We really enjoyed our time in Desert Hot Springs and would definitely stay at CatSpa again. There is so much to do in the area in addition to things we’ve already done, so it’d be great to be able to explore some more!