Lost in the Mountains
Day 1 with the RV started when we left San Leandro, Thursday lunchtime.
The usual first stop was Walmart; coffee grinder, coffee maker, coffee beans, coffee mug, and some other essentials: like food.
Feeling full of enthusiasm, we set the satnav to take us southeast, staying off the interstate. Our objective was to stay away from mud slides (west coast) and snow (Sierra Nevada). Unfortunately, we got it a bit wrong.
We took the Hwy 49 (the miners' road), and drove through the beautiful foothills past lakes, orchards and farms, not to mention the usual thousands of abandoned homes and businesses. It never fails to amaze me how poor the richest country in the world can look. I feel similarly when travelling through parts of Africa, or Scotland. That mix of pity and guilt, before I realise that we are in the wealthiest state of the most economically powerful nation. Then I just feel bemused.
The farms became fewer and further between, the mountains taller, and the roads narrower and winding. By this time, it was dark too. With Sarah gripping on to to the arms of her chair, we crawled at 5-10 mph up into the hills. The darkness didn't help particularly, but on the other hand it meant we couldn't see the drop-off just inches outside our rear tyres. Slightly scary, tbh.
After more than 4 hours of tiptoeing through the black night, we reached Mariposa. It's a cutesy ex-mining town (home of the Mother Lode), flickering with Christmas lights. That's about all I can tell you, because by now we were determined to leave the mountains behind. We don't have snow chains, so it is fairly important that we don't get caught in any white stuff!
Two hours more driving, this time downhill and back to the valley, finally brought us to Merced; and an RV MacDonalds. If you don't know what one of these strange creatures is, you haven't missed much, but suffice it to say they have Big Macs and a free parking area for RVs. Sleep came easily!
Early the next morning, still shaking our heads at the stupidity of the previous night, we set out on the nice safe, boring, flat Hwy 99, (we thought we were on the Mother Road, but then realised we were looking at it upside down) south to Bakersfield. The heart of Californian oil country.
The richest place on Earth
Feeling that it was only fair to spoil ourselves, we checked in to the best RV resort in Bakersfield, plugged ourselves in, and prepared for a nice hot shower!
The jacks wouldn't go down on the RV (no power to the unit), so we couldn't extend the slides (or rather we could, but then we might be rolling the camper:) ). Oh well. Nothing to do about that until tomorrow. Let's just have a shower ...
A yell from Sarah brought me running to the outside of the camper. Water was pouring out of the water heater vent. Not good. We turned everything off, and opened up the water heater - only to find that the drain plug had been left off the water pump valve, and now the water heater compartment (full of electrics) was drowned. A quick look around revealed the plug placed neatly on to top of the pilot light cowling. A bit of mopping up, and replacing the plug, resolved that problem: eventually, after drying, even the water heater worked again!
So we decided to find the nearest Camping World, and get the jacks fixed the following day. A quick google search; by chance, CW was in the same street as our RV site. That was for tomorrow, though. Tonight, we needed a rest!