california, Grant's Pass, koa, Modesto, Oregon, Snow, VanDeCampSeesAmerica17
5 March 2017 – Modesto, CA
We woke up without the kids stirring all night at a very reasonable 7:05 AM. I mentioned I like sleep, right? I was kind of afraid sleep was a thing of the past embarking on this trip. Six people in a minimally insulated mobile hotel room? Scoffs. Turns out the doors work some minor wonders! Exhaustion probably helps, too.
Sergio made the kids oatmeal and our coffee, and as we were cleaning up and finishing getting dressed, our lucky feeling started going away. The snow began to fall heavily, and we had already accumulated over an inch in less than an hour. We stuck the kids in the Suburban with a movie and started going down the breakdown checklist. Sergio started raising the stabilizer jacks with the drill we brought and realized it wasn’t working anymore so manually did it with the included tool. That wasn’t too hard! I walked with another couple up to the KOA office to inquire about road conditions. They were a fellow self-employed couple who were headed to Vegas for a heavy construction equipment conference. I have the feeling we’re going to meet some awesome and colorful people on this trip! The good news is that Grant’s Pass was right on the edge of the storm and the roads south, including the pass, were pretty clear. We finished packing up the trailer doing all the things I mentioned the previous night in reverse. We’re figuring it out, or so we thought. We turned off the fridge, the LP gas, the lights, folded down all the tables, stowed everything away, and then actually said, “Hey, the snow on the slideout will squeegee off when we bring it in. No problem.” Ahem, yes it was a problem. When we pulled it in, I stood on top of the cooler to see if the slide out (now inside) was mostly free of snow and saw there was still an inch of snow. After laughing and debating how to solve the problem (hey, let’s just slide it back out and then broom it off outside didn’t work, haha), we decided I was going to stay on the cooler and use the broom to slide the snow to the sides, where Sergio would try to catch the snow in a salad bowl to dump back outside. I’m laughing while writing this! He caught some of the snow in the bowl, and the floor caught the rest, but I fairly quickly got it off the slide and pushed it back out so we could clean off the floor. Swept that all up (plus the gravel that SOMEONE tracked inside with their slippers), then pulled the slide back in. Laughed some more and added that experience to our mental checklist of things to do/not to do. Nothing like life to keep you humble!
We pulled out just before 10:00 AM with the help of the 4WD and drove over the first pass easily. We stopped at an Albertson’s to pick up some lunch things – worst organized grocery store ever! – and Sergio took a work call. He’s been asked to keynote a conference in July at MITRE, which was exciting enough on its own but then I really got excited when I learned they wanted him to present on my nonprofit, Global Emancipation Network, for which he serves as the Technical Director. Squeal!
We hit the road again and went up over a second pass and crossed over into California. We took turns driving and eventually pulled into RiverPoint Landing Marina Park. We started by debating whether or not we had to take the sway bars off the Equalizer 4-way weight distribution hitch and decided we didn’t have to, but being nervous newbies, we decided to do it anyway. Probably with amusement, another couple came out of their giant motorhome and asked if we needed help as Sergio and I began the dance of backing the trailer into a spot for the first time (yes, in the dark). I was driving the Suburban and Sergio was behind the trailer, both with walkie talkies in hand. I nodded enthusiastically, and the lady stood by my window helping me sort out which way to turn the wheel while the two men shouted directions through the walkie talkie to me. It was great! We got in without too much trouble, so I felt pretty good about everything. Night two in the books!