Tuesday, August 7, 2007

August in the Gold Country

It's HOT, baby!

Seriously, we just finished our annual camping trip with a group of friends we've had since High School. Last year on this trip, we drove home in our truck and 5th Wheel combo and decided that we were going to get a motorhome. Traveling with the kids in the truck across the state of California was just too cozy for all of us. And, that, my friends, was the beginning of our journey into FMC land.

As usual, the FMC performed quite well for us -- with a couple of heat-related concerns. We added to the lovely look and feel of our FMC on this trip. Doesn't every vehicle look better with some bikes attached. Form may follow function but sometimes design takes a backseat to practicality and we were tired of traveling with bikes in the aisle! Greg doesn't mind too much. Before too long, we'll have a Tow Vehicle back there and the bikes can go on the back of that!

Bike Rack on FMC

This trip went up to Lake Tulloch -- a small reservoir in the Gold Country. It's near Yosemite, near Sonora, near Highway 49 . . . but not too near much of anything. It's on the Stanislaus River and the lake itself is lovely. There is a real resort feel to the lake -- lots of vacation homes but there is still lots of land available too. I really loved the setting. We stayed at the Lake Tulloch Campground. It has a lot to offer but it also misses in many, many areas. It generally has a feeling that it isn't well cared for which is too bad. Seriously, some irrigation and some regular cleaning of the sites would go a long way toward making it a much nicer place to stay. Still, it had a general store with a snack bar and regular bar. The guys would go down to buy ice and spend an hour -- drinking beer! I couldn't blame them. I snuck down for a few milkshakes, myself. The best thing was the lake -- the water was very comfortable to swim in and there was tons of birds around. The best sightings were the many Osprey on the lake -- love those birds!

FMC at Lake Tulloch Campground

We actually squeezed a vintage trailer and another tent into the site next to us before we were done -- Crowded but it worked!

This area is very hot in the summer -- it was around 102 - 105 every day. We had sites without hookups and our generator isn't working so that made things a bit rough in the camping area. The FMC holds on to heat very well and we had a hard time sleeping at night as it took hours to cool down to comfortable temperatures. So, we'll be investing in some of those Fan-tastic Vents {click} to move the air around and help us to move hot air out and cooler air in so we can sleep at night. We also need to check into getting our auto air fixed as driving up and back was pretty uncomfortable in the 95-100 degree heat.

For recreation, this area had a lot to offer. We went river rafting on the Stanislaus River near Knights Ferry on Friday. This was an easy rafting trip -- Class 1 the whole way. They have one Class 2 rapids section but the water was low enough that it wasn't at all risky. The river water is COLD so you can easily cool off when you are too hot from paddling. It is beautiful and we say lots of deer, river otters, ospreys, kingfishers, vultures, and herons. Really nice trip.

On Saturday, we rented patio boats or party boats at the marina right at the campground. We tooled around on them all day. It was so much fun. We'd explore and then park them and swim and then explore some more. There are lots of houses along the lakeshore so it was very fun to look at them -- especially since Greg is an architect. He loves that sort of thing. We even tooled up the river a ways -- the water was cold in the river but really, really nice in the lake.

So, all in all, a good trip. I don't know if I'd go back to that campground again but if I did, I'd make sure that I got the "Cabana" sites which are right along the water. Being able to step right out into the water would have gone a long way towards making the trip a lot more comfortable. Plus, it is cooler near the water as the breeze crosses the water.