. . . then the Millers must be camping! We spent the long weekend at New Melone's Reservoir near Angel's Camp in the California Gold Country. We planned all our trips for the year early in January and knew it was risky to go camping in February but it was worth it.
We loaded up on hot chocolate, games, activities, books, and even a movie or two and headed off. Camping in the rain can be romantic for a couple but for a family, it's a test of your mettle and the size of your vehicle. Our family and the FMC passed with flying colors!
This was the first *real* camping trip we'd been on in the FMC -- camping in Felton (three towns away) for the Rally doesn't really count! We don't have a tow vehicle yet and it was raining and due to rain all weekend. We put Greg's parents on call to come get us if we had problems.
The FMC performed beautifully! Everything we wanted it to do, it did! Travelling across the state in our truck and 5th wheel was always taxing -- the kids are RIGHT behind you and when they get antsy and loud, there they are. Not relaxing for anyone with them either playing loud or bickering and Mom nagging the whole time. Delightful. Travelling in the FMC -- awesome! Even with limited seatbelts, we had ample opportunity to separate the kids when they needed alone time or let them play silly, loud games without bugging Mom. Needing to go to the bathroom 5 minutes after we just stopped? No problem. Hungry and need a snack? No worries. Need to stretch out and nap . . . just do it.
So, we left early Saturday morning and made about 47 stops on the way out of town. New windshield wipers, gas, iPod radio transmitter, Claritin-D, and some lunch later and we're finally off and out of the Bay Area. The drive was mostly rainy but we did fine. We got to the gold country around 2:30pm and went to Columbia State Park. It's an active town where the down town has been preserved as a Historic State Park. The 2nd Saturday of every month, they have people dressed in period costumes who answer questions and show what life was like. We almost had the place to ourselves on a rainy Saturday in February. The highlight for all of us was Nelson's Candy Store where we all picked out goodies! Yum! We also enjoyed the General Store where the people gave us tons of information about what life was like back during the 1850s. Really fun!
From there, we went to our campground at the Glory Hole Recreation Area on New Melones Lake. We pulled into our reserved site and were quite pleased. The campground was fantastic -- paved spaces, great views, clean but spartan restrooms. Again, we had the place to ourselves. The campground hosts came by in their electric car and checked us in. There was one other couple in the next site up the hill but there was enough space between the sites that we barely knew they were there. It was cold and windy but not raining so the kids did some scootering to burn off their ya-yas from the long drive while we got the FMC into camping mode. We didn't set up the canopy as it was too windy. We settled in and started a fire because Greg forgot the BBQ grill. So, he grilled the burgers in the cold wind over a real fire. They were delicious! We played Monopoly Jr and went to bed! We were all out by 9:30 pm.
The next day woke up damp and we decided to just stay put and enjoy the day. We took walks when we could, played games, made paper airplanes, ate, played more games, and generally enjoyed a lazy day. Late in the day, the sun actually came out and we took a walk down to the water. We all threw rocks in the water and had a grand time getting muddy. We came back, cleaned up, and had a great dinner of chili with all the fixins. Double Yum! We watched a movie that night and put the kids to bed. Greg and I played Cribbage. I actually beat him the last time (we won't talk about the 3 previous games where he beat me!!!). Greg has been playing cribbage since birth whereas I learned it after we met some 25 years ago! (Yikes!)
Today, we drove home the long way. We are looking for a new dog and had to visit some breeders in that area. We ended up driving south of Sonora on 49. We were warned against it but Greg is adventerous and the FMC was performing beautifully. It was a great drive -- up and down and round and round. We loved it and were very proud of the FMC and how well it performed! We made a couple of stops on the way home and cruised on home via 152. We planned to have dinner in Gilroy and were enjoying the clear driving we'd had since we left the Sierra foothills. The phone rang -- it was Greg's parents telling us it was POURING at home. We did eat dinner in Gilroy and then got back on the road around 7:30pm. The rain was really coming down but we decided that it would be better to drive up to San Jose and then over 17 so that's what we did. It was a great choice because it was a small thunderstorm and by the time we got to San Jose, it was only drizzling. The rest of the drive home was uneventful. The kids were stretched out on the bed in the back. We had to carry them to bed when we got home.
Fantastic trip. I can happily recommend camping in the Gold Country in the winter. It was uncrowded and delightful. I'm so glad we bought the FMC and so glad that we are making a real point to use it!