2016 Colorado Move: Breweries!

We couldn’t move without trying breweries along the way. Unfortunately, we had to abort a couple of breweries as well. Alibi Ale Works in Incline Village, Nevada doesn’t like Alex’s type coming through their doors, which we respect. We had heard good things about Alibi, so we were disappointed that the logistics didn’t work out.

Due to the trials and tribulations of our journey, we only visited two breweries.

Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse, Berkeley, CA

How did we end up in Berkeley on our move to Colorado from Davis, CA? Our geography and map reading skills are not that atrocious, really and truly. Dave’s cousin and her family, who live in New Zealand, were in the area on a college visit. It has been several years since we last saw them, so we took the opportunity to visit (Wonder why it took us 2 days to drive a net of eight miles? A side trip that was a lot of fun). They told us to chose a place for lunch, and of course we selected a brewery.

We tried the IPAX Ale and the Black Rock Porter and were pleased with both. The actual appearance, aroma, and taste were in-line with the menu descriptions of the beers. The Reuben and pulled pork sandwiches were also executed well.

Wasatch Brewery, Park City, UT

We arrived in Park City, UT around lunch time. Fortunately for us, Wasatch Brewery was nearby. After parking Abby and the trailer in a free public lot (we used up 6 spaces, thankfully it wasn’t busy), we drove the car down to the main street of Park City and parked near Wasatch. We were able to get a shaded seat on the patio and got to relax while Alex enjoyed train videos.

We tried the Polygamy Porter which had a clever tag line of ‘take some home to the wives’. The color was excellent and the aroma was robust with chocolate and roasted notes. The flavor was disappointing. Grainy at best, it was surprisingly thin, especially after the aromas were the perfect set up for a thick bodied porter. The Evolution Amber Ale was the second beer we tried. It was an improvement over the Polygamy Porter, but we have brewed better at home. Overall, beer was meh. Food was very well done and the pickled tomatoes on the steak salad were a surprise highlight.

2016 Colorado Move: Mechanical Mishaps

No trip would be complete with out some mechanical issues. Especially on a holiday weekend traveling the loneliest road. Fortunately, the check engine light and the flat tire were not as serious as the failed turbo resonator or transmission breaking.

Check engine light: 

The check engine light came on coming into Carson City, Nevada after dropping down the Sierras. Dave used an OBDII reader to obtain the error codes associated with the check engine light.

Error codes: Cam position sensor, O2 sensor error

Fortunately, where we pulled over in Carson City was not far from the Dodge dealer. The shop manager reviewed the codes and said that the cam position sensor can ‘hiccup’ especially when traveling from high to low altitudes. This results in a cascade effect that causes the O2 sensor to error as well. He was happy to report that as long as the check engine light wasn’t flashing, we could continue to drive Abby. If we wanted peace of mind, we could have it checked out, but the soonest he could get to it would be Tuesday. As much fun as a two night minimum in Carson City sounded, we decided to push onward. We bought a Good Sam towing membership.

Total time lost: 1 hour

Repair difficulty: Easy, it was simply getting advice from a shop guy. Google indicated that replacing the sensors was not difficult and could be done in a parking lot or campsite. No auto part stores had the parts in stock. Abby is due for a thorough tune-up, including a transmission flush, at the end of this trip. We are going to pay the money and let a Dodge dealer give Abby some TLC.

Flat tire:

Flat_01Our flat tire occurred approximately 40 miles west of Austin, NV. We were losing approximately 2 lbs of pressure every mile. How did we know? Dave purchased and installed EEZTire Monitoring system that reports the pressure in each tire via RFID. Fortunately, the Edwards Creek historic marker was close by and we were able to pull over in a safe place to change the tire. As Dave changed the tire, Jess wrangled the dogs and Alex, with marginal success. The dogs had to be returned to Abby. Alex ran around with tools key for changing the tire and found every bit of dirt on the Abby and transferred it to himself. Inspection showed that the valve stem had failed. To add to the fun, the spare tire and the other dualie tire needed to have their pressures increased. Our 12V electric pump burned out; fortunately, we had a bike pump with the appropriate fitting in the trailer.

Flat_02After completing the tire change, we stopped in Austin, NV to fill Abby up. Dave inquired about tire repair and was directed to Wayne, the tire guy. He provides 24/7 service for this isolated area and was able to fix the tire.

Total time lost: 2 hours

Repair difficulty: Easy. If you know how to change a tire on a car, you can change a tire on an RV. Parts are just bigger and heavier, technology and theory are the same. This is a key skill otherwise you will be waiting for several hours in the sun for assistance. And there may be no cell service.

2016 Colorado Move: Great Basin National Park

Our Colorado move has been rather light on state park/national park/national forest campgrounds. We quickly discovered that the holiday weekend results in spike in usage and you have to be in extremely early to get a walk-up spot, and there may not be one since most spots are booked for the entire weekend. 75% our nights on this trip were spent in commercial campgrounds. This was not bad, just different. And truth be told, not entirely unwelcome. We had full hook-ups and were able to run the A/C, which made sleeping bearable with days in the mid-nineties and above.

GreatBasin_01
View from campsite 26 at Wheeler Peak Campground.

History:

Great Basin National Park was the jewel of our trip. Found on multiple hidden gem lists, the rangers said that the secret is getting out. This national park is just a representative piece of the Great Basin, which covers the majority of Nevada, half of Utah, and parts of eastern California, and south eastern Oregon. The region was named the Great Basin because it has no hydro-graphic connection to the ocean. Elevation greatly influences the flora, as temperature decreases and precipitation increases. These conditions result in forests composed primarily of piñon and juniper varietals with stands of limber pine, Great Basin bristlecone pine, cottonwoods, and quaking aspen interspersed. Similar to Chisos Basin in Big Bend National Park, fauna are rare species isolated after the last ice age. Great Basin is also a gold-tier international dark sky park.

GreatBasin_09
Night sky in Great Basin National Park.

The Great Basin region was inhabited by the Shoshone, Ute, Mono, and Northern Paiute tribes. Europeans first explored the region during the Spanish colonization during the 18th century.

Activities: Lehman Cave tours, hiking, caving, star gazing

Lehman Caves is part of Great Basin National Park and can be seen on a guided tour only. We went on the 60 minute Lodge Room Tour (allowed children under 5). While not as majestic as Carlsbad Caverns, it is an extremely intimate and educational tour. This cave has features actively forming, so one must be extremely cautious and not touch any of the formations. Also, they are very concerned with protecting their bats from White Nose Syndrome, so be aware that items worn in other caves that are unlikely to be washed, need to be sanitized. Review all the tour guidelines in advance to ensure that you don’t bring any contraband material with you.

GreatBasin_03
Alex and Jess waving bye-bye to the deer.
Dave and Alex watching a deer.
Dave and Alex watching a deer.

Our campsite (number 26) at Wheeler Peak Campground was idyllic. Over a rise behind our campsite was a creek with a meadow nearby. Next to our campsite was another alpine meadow. We observed a deer grabbing its evening meal in the meadow by the creek. There were several trail heads available at the Wheeler Creek Campground COMove_07– Lehman Creek, Bristlecone, Glacier, Mountain View Nature (accessible), Alpine Lakes Loop trails. Other hikes are accessible at different points in the park. We were hiking the Bristlecone trail when Jess fell and lacerated her knee. This resulted in us breaking camp and driving to Delta, UT (100 miles!) to the nearest hospital with decent service. For more serious injuries, it is a Medivac flight to Salt Lake City ($40,000), so be aware that this is an isolated area. We did not finish our hike, but for more detailed information regarding the Bristlecone pines, check out this article and video from Atlas Obscura. And, the best part of all, there were rocks.

Alex found a rock.
Alex found a rock.

Overall: We really enjoyed this park. The scenery is picturesque and while it is becoming more popular, the usage is light. We look forward to going back and making Jess wear knee pads during hikes.

2016 Colorado Move: Summary

We have arrived in Loveland, CO and have internet! This is no small feat considering we are dealing with Xfinity, the re-branded Comcast. Note to all businesses, changing your name will not wash away the stink of abysmal service. You eventually will have to come up with a new name because you have not solved the underlying reasons for customer dissatisfaction. Any hoo . . .

Our move to Colorado from California did not go as smoothly as we hoped. Moving on the Fourth of July weekend and having to go through a major tourist destination does not result in good time on the road. We spent more time in commercial RV parks than typical for us, but options were limited in some of the areas we were traveling.

Route from Davis, CA to Loveland, CO.
Route from Davis, CA to Loveland, CO.

The trip covered 1,191 miles and took us over the Sierras, across the loneliest road (US-50 in Nevada), and through southern Wyoming. Abby’s mileage pulling the trailer ranged from 13.5 over the Sierras to a whopping 18 across Wyoming (tail wind aided). Dave drove Abby while Jess followed with Alex in car.

We chose to come across I-80 because the climbs were less severe than I-70 through Colorado. We did not count on the 35 mph tail wind in Wyoming which had an extremely positive effect on Abby’s mileage. Coming through Lake Tahoe on US-50 was a critical error and resulted in frustrating traffic that added 90 minutes to our trip.

Campgrounds:

  1. SacWest RV Park West Sacramento, CA: 2 night stay. Clean, trash pick up at site. Fantastic playground for Alex, pool, and a fenced in, off-leash area for dogs with agility obstacles. Full hook-ups. Restrooms closest to the office were the cleanest. The other men’s restroom, to quote Dave, ‘Looked like something completely unholy happened in it’. One stall was completely clogged and the other had poop smeared through out the stall.
  2. Fallon RV Park  Fallon, NV: 1 night stay. Clean, grass at each site, long sites that fit the 40 foot Abby/trailer combo and station wagon. Full hook-ups. Restrooms are older, but are clean. Fuel and store for supplies.
  3. Whispering Elms Motel and RV Park Baker, NV: 1 night stay outside of Great Basin National Park (will write a separate post). Full hook-ups, sites are smaller so it feels rather crowded when full. Owners are nice and found us a spot on the Fourth of July and let us stow our cargo trailer for a couple nights. Bathrooms are older, but function well and are clean. Bar is open from 4 to  8 pm and the beer selection is more diverse than Bud!

    View from behind the
    View looking way from Whispering Elms RV Park.
  4. Wheeler Peak Campground, Great Basin National Park: 1 night stay, campground elevation is approximately 10,000 feet. 8% grade for 12 miles to campground with tight turns, we left the trailer at Whispering Elms as not to tax Abby. Absolutely beautiful. For smaller rigs, well worth the journey. Check out site 25 or 26 (meadow next to site). Sites can be rather uneven, so bring leveling blocks. No hookups.

    Abby at campsite 26 in Wheeler Peak Campground
    Abby at campsite 26 in Wheeler Peak Campground
  5. Antelope Valley RV Park Delta, UT: 1 night stay, full hookups. Large levels spots with a grass next to each site and a large dirt/gravel area for dogs to be walked on leash. Very nice owners.
  6. Fort Bridger RV Park Fort Bridger, WY: 1 night stay, full hookups. Large level sites with separate parking area for tow vehicles at each site. Lots of grass and dog friendly. Owner is a veteran and is very nice.
  7. Yellow Pine Campground, Medicine Bow National Forest Laramie, WY: 1 night stay, no hook ups. Site size and levelness varies, we camped in site 12 which fit Abby, trailer and station wagon. Some sites are pull through. Surprisingly, copious amounts of mosquitoes.

Emergency Rooms:

  1. Banner Churchill Community Hospital: We stopped in Carson City, NV for lunch and discovered Alex had 102F fever; Alex received a dose of children’s ibuprofen. When we stopped for the night in Fallon and checked his temperature again, it had risen to 104F to 105F (temporal reading). We were nervous since we were going to head into an isolated area, the fever didn’t respond to medication, and Alex didn’t get upset when we turned off Cars. So Jess took him to the emergency room where his temperature was confirmed and he received a dose of Tylenol. His fever slowly came down and by the time we left he was cranky because Mama didn’t bring enough crackers. A toddler with enough energy to throw a tantrum is a toddler that is feeling good!
  2. Delta Community Hospital: Jess fell while hiking on the Bristle Cone Trail in Great Basin National Park. Unfortunately, her knee landed on a rock and caused a 3 cm laceration. Alex did not like the fact that his pack mule fell down. Dave took over Alex’s pack and we hiked back to camp. After consulting with the park EMT, we made the decision to break camp and drive to the nearest decent medical facility in Delta, UT (100 miles away!). We declined the $40,000 helicopter medivac option, it seemed a bit excessive for a laceration. Jess’ knee took 6 staples to close and the ER doctor removed a lot of debris. The experience got us to thinking that a wilderness first aid course might be extremely beneficial.

Farewell CA

These last 5 months have absolutely flown by. Abby is packed and we leaving for Colorado.

Our time in California wasn’t all that we had hoped. We had hoped to travel more on the weekends, see more of the state. The Master Brewers Program was intense and weekends were spent studying. In hindsight, entire weekend trips would not have been wise, but day trips were feasible. We were within a couple hours drive of some amazing attractions (coast, Sierras, San Francisco, state parks). If we had given the situation more thought, we would have been able to enjoy the surrounding attractions much more.

What we will miss

View after sunset as the fog rolls in at Westport Union Landing State Beach.
View after sunset as the fog rolls in at Westport Union Landing State Beach.
  • The diversity and beauty of California. Mountains, rugged coast line, a fertile valley, redwood forests. There is a reason the meteorologists provide micro-climate forecasts in California, the character of these areas is extremely varied. We didn’t explore the state as much as we would have liked, but have so many reasons to keep returning.
  • The weather is truly spectacular (excluding the Central Valley’s heat in the summer) and rather gentle. When it rains, it doesn’t stay gray for 3 weeks. Rain falls, clouds clear out, sun is shining bright.
  • The produce – especially from the farm markets. It is amazing how fresh the produce is and how good fresh produce tastes. We have been purchasing avocados and we haven’t had a bad one yet. No careful monitoring of the avocado to make sure it is caught in that rare 15 minute window between inedible and rotten, no cursing when you realize you have again incorrectly estimated the state of our avocado. Besides the avocados, the strawberries! The apples! The broccoli! The cabbage! And so much more – all fresh, all flavorful. Farewell outstanding produce.
  • The people. We met some really awesome folks through the Master Brewers Program. It is rather bittersweet as everyone is scattering with the wind to different job and educational opportunities. Although, this does create a fantastic portfolio of breweries to visit.
  • Our landlady. Karen gave us a chance with our 3 dogs and 6 month lease. We appreciated the opportunity.
Fresh June snow fall on Mount Lassen.
Fresh June snow fall on Mount Lassen.

What we won’t miss

  • The heat. Summer is just getting started in the Central Valley and it hasn’t even truly gotten hot yet (only up to 105 Fahrenheit so far). But far too hot for us.
  • The students.

So, fare thee well California. We wish a very rainy winter to help alleviate the drought and build a fantastic snow pack. Our plan is come back for vacation.

Magic 8 Ball Says: Reply hazy, try again

It has been a long time between posts. Jess has had her nose deep in the books studying for the Institute of Brewing and Distilling Diploma in Brewing Exams, all while searching for a job. Which means Dave has been busy wrangling Alex, the dogs, and running a household. Alex is getting the itch to travel and is always very excited to see Abby or take a ride in the car. Little does he know, we will soon be on the road again.

AlexAbbyJune
Alex is very happy to pay Abby a visit at the storage facility.

With the UC Davis Extension Master Brewers Program in its penultimate week and Jess still unemployed, the question is ‘what next?’. What we know for sure is that we will take about 2 weeks to travel around California before our lease is up. After that we will pack up our trailer and head to Colorado, where we have a solid lead on a rental.

It is after this point the Magic 8 Ball’s reply gets a little hazy. If Jess finds employment, a routine will be established and we will settle in to that. If Jess is still unemployed, we will take the opportunity to travel. Perhaps up to Banff, down to Washington, Oregon, and then back to Colorado. The future is unwritten, but we at least have an outline.