The final leg of the final road trip in SLOTH

01 March 2019
Janice Nagle
Our final road trip in SLOTH continued into California. The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range runs 400 miles and is part of the American Cordillera, a chain of mountain ranges that consists of an almost continuous sequence that rises through North America, Central America, South America and Antarctica. Mount Whitney towers at over 14,000 feet and is the highest point in the lower 48. Three national parks also make their home in the High Sierra. We had visited Yosemite a couple years back so our focus was on Sequoia and Kings Canyon. While these parks have different names and seperate visitors centers they intertwine with each other and also the protected lands around them.

One might wonder why we would visit a park in winter that requires snow chains to traverse the winding road just to see some trees. Roads that are only partially open at that. Timing, its all in the timing. Now that we are traveling by boat on The Great American Loop summers, this was our time to go. That being said I know that the giant forest is breathtaking at any time but the snow did add an element of purity to the scene, snow that was untouched, giving the illusion that no one had been there before. The white backdrop accentuated the standing giants and truly created a Wonderland effect.

In addition to remarkable forests, Sequoia and Kings Canyon each has their own famous tree. The General Sherman is the world's largest tree by volume. It is estimated to be over 2000 years old and is 275 feet tall. Each year this tree continues to gain mass but does not grow taller as the top is dead.
The General Grant tree is 40 feet in diameter making it the widest known sequoia. You would need twenty people holding hands to circle around the base.

Interesting facts:
Redwoods grow to 379 feet, have up to a 22 foot diameter base and weigh up to 1.6 million lbs.
Sequoia grow to 311 feet, have up to 40 foot diameter and weigh up to 2.7 million lbs.

As an added bonus to visiting these two parks, we stayed in a few Corp of Engineer campgrounds nearby. COE have always been our favorite federal campgrounds as they are always near water, are almost always paved with partial hook ups, and usually have lovely views. Two of these made our top 5 all time favorite campsites list!

With reluctance we left our perfect views and headed west. The drive to Pinnacles NP was through miles and miles of vinyards, fruit trees and a variety of nut trees. We reached our destination to find the park campground all but deserted. The government shutdown was still on and only those with confirmed reservations were allowed in the park. Pinnacles was upgraded from a national monument to park in 2013 and we don't understand why. We have experienced much greater vistas driving sections of a variety of interstates. I assume some government official pushed for this to benefit someone but I'm not sure how it works. Maybe that's something I should research. Anyway, there was one lovely walk that we found among the few we tried and cut our stay short to move south towards Channel Islands NP.

Honey look, a wine region! Put your blinker on. As an unexpected treat we spent a couple days at Wine Country RV Resort in Paso Robles. We sampled our way through this newer but extensive region. One winery told us that the area has more acreage of grapes than Napa and Sonoma combined.......

The drive along 101 was as wonderful as expected, ocean views, rugged coastline and even magnificent homes as we ventured closer to Santa Barbara. The Channel Islands sat offshore as sentinels protecting it's mainland. Channel Islands National Park encompasses 5 islands just miles off the coast yet worlds apart.

145 species of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth call these islands home. Rain and lighting prevented our scheduled boat from departing the dock but the visitor center had a very informative movie about the flora and fauna. A variety of marine life include the usual whales and dolphins but also seals and sea lions, the most unusual being the Northern Elephant Seal. These huge creatures were almost extinct in the late 1800s but now number upwards of 170,000 on the protected islands. Did you know that sea lions can 'walk' on land while seals scoot on their belly? Land animal and birds would also draw any nature lover to hike and explore these rugged time trapped sanctuaries.

Heavy rains even drove us out of our campground, once or motorhome was pulled out of the mud, so we moved on along towards Joshua Tree. Like the Saguaro that only grows in the Sonoran Desert, Joshua Trees only grow in the Mojave Desert. Cholla, yucca and joshua trees grow in harmony here. Amazing rock formations that began eons ago as a result of volcanic activity (in reality they are alien cairns) punctuate the landscape. Another National Park checked off our list and the last park for the year.

We spent a delightful few days visiting Steve's brother in Palm Desert on our way to our final destination for the season. Several lovely meals and a round of golf and off we were to Yuma.

The original plan was to spend a month in Yuma checking out RV parks. Now that we already purchased a unit in Texas we reduced that to a week. The park we had reserved was nice and we did find another that was quite active but the fine dirt that got into everything was a major drawback. Poor DeeO'gee kept picking up and burrs in his paws and couldn't find grass to do his business on. Friends from our boating life had joined us there and made the stay enjoyable anyway.

Our last park we had planned to visit was Petrified Forest which was gated due to the government shutdown when we were in the area on our way west. We spent the night on our way back east at friend Kitty's park outside Phoenix only to wake up to blizzard conditions in the area north that included the Petrified Forest so we had to leave that last park for another visit to Arizona.

This was the last park on our original bucket list but since the list was made two more national parks have been added, neither of which I believe should be national parks. There are many different protected national designations and if you do a bit of research I think you would agree with me but again some congressman pushed for the change, stuck it in with the national budget and had their way. The National Park Mission Statement : 'The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.' Could someone tell me how this applies to the St Louis Gateway Arch?

So this ends our mission to visit parks, both national and rv, for this road trip

All in all, after viewing 55+ Parks throughout the southwest we are more convinced than ever that we made the right choice. Llano Grande RV Resort and Country Club will be our home for around 7 months out of the year, continuing our water based nomadic life until we finish the Loop, after that we will make a new plan. Another plan written in the sand at low tide.

SLOTH heads west

20 January 2019
Fall and the land yacht.... For those that may not remember, we named our rig SLOTH for Sailors Living On The Highway.

Back in the motorhome after hauling our boat in the Chesapeake Bay and driving south from Hurricane Florence. We wrapped up some appointments in Florida where we had the motorhome stored and started our trip. Epcot Food and Wine Festival was first. We were invited by friends we met at one of our regular campgrounds and it was a special treat. Lots of options for small plates and wine pairing, with a short concert by Starship. Just a very enjoyable day with perfect weather and good friends.

Next stop was family in Tampa and a chance to spoil my granddaughters just a little bit more. One of the sad part of our nomadic life is time away from the grandkids. We also had wonderful visits with old sailing friends, then our usual stop in New Orleans as we headed west. As soon as we hit Texas we rustled up some lunch with sea and land cruising buddies Chris and Barb. They winter near Houston and after several attempts we finally arranged a visit.

The season plan was 2 months in Texas checking out several RV resorts to consider for a winter home. Then we would move on to visit the last few National Parks that we haven't been to yet in Arizona and California, along the way checking out more RV resorts and visiting friends. At the end of the season we would decide which area we would purchase a park model unit and become snow bird residents each winter.

In Texas after touring several parks we found a wonderful community at Llano Grande that met all of our criteria, had fun people, and an 18 hole golf course. Weekly dances, nightly card games, shuffleboard, almost any craft or hobby, this park checked off every box on my spreadsheet and more. DeeO'gee enjoyed the dog park with a dog wash station! I even joined Steve on the course golfing in the two best ball scrambles each week. Now add that my grandson could join us from Austin for holidays and we decided to look at some housing options. We close on March 1st on a lovely park model and look forward to becoming an even bigger part of the Winter Texan community. After 2 months we said a temporary goodbye to friends and headed west again to complete our planned adventures.

Arizona was great, what a beautiful state with so much to see and do. We visited 2 sets of sailing friends, a high school friend I hadn't seen in decades and my Milwaukee bestie in the Tuscan/Phoenix area.

Doug and Meyka took us to Kartchner State Park for a hike and cavern tour. We enjoyed a day trip to the historic town of Bisbee and toured the mine there as well as stopping at Tombstone. Add food, wine and several games of Pegs and Jokers and you have a recipe for a great time.

Kim was a gracious hostess and our tour guide for Tucson. One afternoon we spent a few hours taking in Sonora living desert museum. I never knew there were so many varieties of Cactus, now I want to plant a cactus garden!

We then visited Saguaro National Park during the shutdown so the visitor center was closed but the road through the park was open. The entire area is populated with saguaro of every shape and size. It takes these magnificent succulents 75 long years of growing before they begin to sprout the arms and live to be over 150 years old. Hmmm, did i mention food, wine and several games of Pegs and Jokers?

Moving north we visited with Kitty and Bill in their new winter home near Phoenix. This time we mixed things up a bit, food, margaritas and cards! I just don't want you to think we aren't flexible.
Petrified Forest National Park was gated due to some vandalism so we will visit that one on our way back through to Texas. Hopefully that will be before the next government shutdown.

A great car tour is on the scenic old Apache Trail stagecoach route. Stopping at several vistas and lunch in Tortilla Flats makes for another lovely day.

Last but not least was meeting up with Bill and Colleen on the north end of Phoenix. A day trip to Prescott with a stop at the Arcosanti
artist community. Don't forget the food, wine and Pegs and Jokers each afternoon...are you seeing a pattern here?

So much to see and so many friends...

When it was time to move along we took a route that would let us visit Quartesite, all full timers head to check out this area eventually. This area has free and almost free desert camping on BLM land. Many events take place over the winter that draws hundreds of RVers. Motorhome rallies, rock shows, swap meets, etc.

Our last stop before leaving the state was Lake Havasu. While summer is a better time to visit, we had lovely winter weather and enjoyed the sights. I'll have to put a summer visit on the bucket list.

The fact that London Bridge is in the Arizona town just doesn't seem to make sense. The bridge was purchased from London in 1968 for over 2 million dollars, it took 3 years and another 4.5 million to transport and reassemble the bridge. It would be interesting to talk to the city father's to see if the bridge was worth the cost.

We enjoyed Arizona so much that we are glad we have to pass through again to return to Texas.
Vessel Name: Nomadic Spirit
Vessel Make/Model: 32' Island Gypsy & 36' Monaco
Crew: Janice & Steve
This adventure began in October of 2007 when Steve came to look at a boat that Janice had for sale on Craig's List. Steve wanted to learn how to sail and Janice needed a new kitchen. [...]
FAVORITE QUOTES: 'Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do then by the ones you did. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.' Mark Twain 'We went cruising not to [...]
Nomadic Spirit's Photos - Guyana and Kaieteur Falls
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One for the sea, One for the land...... Living the Nomadic Life is our plan

Who: Janice & Steve

Click: Where are we now?

'OMG It's Almost Time' in 'Getting the Boat Ready' attempts to describe my excitement of our impending departure.
Check out our Favorite Anchorages and best snorkeling spots in Blog Catagory 'Our Favorite Things'
And our thoughts on the completion of our first year in 'Our Cruising Advenures'!
'You're lucky if YOUR LOVE loves what you love the best' Eileen Quinn