Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ferry Ride

Well better late than never...where did the time go? It's been almost two and half months since we took our two week adventure to the Northern States of Washington and Oregon with no additional post. Now come on, I can do better than that.

So here was my highlight of the trip...the Tioga Ranger got to go on a Ferry ride across the Puget Sound. On the last day of our stay at Port Angeles, we headed to Bainbridge Island to catch a Ferry across the Puget Sound to disembark in the city of Seattle.

Prior to arriving at the Ferry terminal, I called a few days earlier to be sure that a motorhome can travel in the ferry. It was a yes, they said, we can handle your rig with no problem. That was great to hear! So I looked at our travel maps for the best route to Bainbridge and then confirmed it with my GPS unit.

On August 2, it was time to point the rig toward Bainbridge Island and catch the ferry! By 1:00 pm we made it to the terminal area where we would wait for the 1:30 pm ferry.
Look Mom no road!

I know if you live in this neck of the woods it's probably no big deal using ferries, but I'm from Southern California and this is a new experience for me traveling in a large vehicle. So with no prior knowledge, I was glad that it all worked out and it save us 2 hours of additional travel time in the long run.

Tioga Ranger crossing the Puget Sound

The cost to travel across the Sound was only $57. and only took 30 minutes to get to Seattle from Bainbridge.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Two more States

It's offical - added two more States to our visited State Map, Oregon and Washington. More to come...

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Well better late and never. Here is a trip we took with the Tioga Ranger in the early part of June. Jean and I attended the Big Bear Valley Pirate Faire in the community of Fawnskin, California. It was a two day fair where I perfomred 3 shows both days. We had a lot of fun and linked up with some of our faire friends.

The organizers lets us set up camp next to the venue under tall pine trees. It's a nice place that we park the Tioga to set up our camp. It's classic boondocking for a few of days.

Our cmapsite
 Our plan was to arrive early on Friday and leave Monday morning so we can take adavantage of camping in the mountains. Our camp is close enough to the community of Fawnskin so if we need some supplies there is a small store and resturants nearby.

I have been performing for the Big Bear Valley Reanissance Society for a few years for their Pirate and Renaissance Faires. I will be perfoming again the last weekend of the Renaissance Faire 2012. Come on out and support the non-profit organization.

Here are a few pic from the Pirate Faire...

El Feo the Buccaneer performing fun magic

Our crew preparing for Pirate battle...

Yes, we even had Belly Dancer at the Faire...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Borrego Springs, CA

It was Friday night near the Borrego-Palm Canyon Campground at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park when the Storm hit us. The wind and rain lasted till Saturday morning, but our motorhome provided us with a comfortable shelter that evening.
Saturday morning I got up and stepped out of the motorhome to begin work for our departure home, when I was pleasantly surprised to see a dust of snow on top of San Yasidro Peak.

That scene reminded me of the years I had spent living in Borrego Springs. It was good to have one more visit before the summer heat made it appearance. I had spent 8 1/2 years assigned to Anaza-Borrego Desert State park as a patrol ranger. The desert landscape, the quiet surroundings of the desert had become an influenace in my spiritual mind set. The desert will always be a special place for me.

I was visiting in Borrego Springs because I was instructing a Wildland Firefighter course for park staff. It was a chance for me to visit friends while I was there. Our Class C rig was our home during the stay.

On a side note - Jean wanted me to also mention a camping item we use alot when we travel. It is the Coleman Stove Top Coffee maker. We have had this coffee maker for a long time and it really makes a great 10 cup pot of coffee.

We first saw this coffee maker at a Trail Days event campout. Our friend Rich Pinder was using one and of course it caught our interest. So first chance we had I found one and bought it.

Well when your camping, electricity is a rare commodity, but the coffee maker sits on top of your stove top and brews coffee for you.

You can find the Coleman Stove Top Coffee Maker at Traget, Basspro, Cabel's, Walmart or many other campin sporting good stores. It's easy to use and only require heat from your stove to work.

Coffeemaker: Camping Coffeemaker (Model No. 5008C700) Quick Specs• Drip-brews coffee, just like your coffeemaker at home
• Use it to make hot cocoa, hot cider or instant soup too
• Removable swing-out filter basket
• Solid steel base
• Easy pour decanter
• Brewing pause-n-serve feature
• Works with 2- and 3-burner camp stoves

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Anaheim RV Village

This Easter weekend Jean and spent it at Anaheim RV Village, a hop, skip and jump from Disneyland, California! The RV park is about 1/2 mile from the main entrance to the park and Disney Town, which is perfect for walking.

The folks at the RV park are friendly and helpful. The facilities are well kept and the restrooms and showers are clean.

 "We are not content with merely offering another camping venue; our commitment is to become the quality RV Park & Campground leader in the Anaheim area. We truly do offer the best of all worlds – location, facilities, service, and value. Until now, consumers have had few options when visiting the Anaheim area attractions – but that's all changing!"

However, one of the bonus staying at the RV park is being able to see the Disneyland fireworks! Right at our site we were able to catch the firework show.

The fireworks show was very impressive that evening.

You can learn more about Anaheim RV Village by viewing their website at:

Friday, April 6, 2012

RV Blog

I follow the RV.Net site when I want to research information on RVing or I just want find out whats going on in the RV world. I currently subscribe to several threads about Dutch Oven cooking, modifications, post your campsite photos and so on. There are tons of subjects people are chatting about. Just open the RV forum link and explore, I recommend this site.

The RV.Net Forum is the most comprehensive source of RV News & Information about your RV, Camper, Motorhome, Trailer and Fifth Wheel as well as RV related information on Camping in State Parks, National Parks and Campgrounds across North America

My username is: Tioga Frank

Included in this site you will find the following link, Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Back in January (2012) at the Quartzite's RV Show we had purchased an auxiliary braking system for the Jeep Rubicon. At the show we looked at several other dealers and we went with the RVi Brake system.

The individual who was selling and demonstrating the system was the owner and son of the person who had developed the Brake Buddy system. He said that his father broke away from Brake Buddies and design the RVi Braking system.

Both Jean and I were impress with the operation and compact design of the system. So we bought one.

Today (April 4, 2012) I installed the Breakaway system in preparation for a week long trip coming up.

I followed the instructions and hooked up the RVi Brake system for a test. Well it did what it was supposed to do and soon we will be taking it on the road.

Actually the whole installation process was a snap. The hardest part was locating a place to run the wiring from the Brakeaway control box through the Jeep's firewall. To my surprise there was a spot made for such a need.

After we come back from our trip, I'll report on how the RVi Brake works.

Here is some basic information to find out about RVi Brake.

Here are some facts about RVi Brake:
  • One touch Auto Positioning
  • No pushing against soft seats
  • Two-thirds smaller
  • Proportional braking
  • Works both with Vacuum and Active brakes
  • It only weights 10 lbs

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Camping at the Creek

Back in August 1988 I arrived to Malibu Creek State Park as a new supervising ranger. In Malibu Creek S.P. we had a campground, but it was not open to the public yet. So it was my job to get it ready and open it.

Little did I know later on in my life, that I would be returning 24 years later to camp there with my RV. Well it turned out to be a nice time.

The reason why I was camping at Malibu Creek S.P. was to act as the Parks Training conference host which was being help a few miles away. We were going to have some of the participants camping there while they attended the training. I was also providing the BBQ-Smoke for Wednesday Night.

The Parks Training is a co-sponsored  event held by the California Park Ranger Association of California (PRAC) and the California State Park Ranger Association (CSPRA). One of the schedule events for the conference was a BBQ (Smoke) and good old campfire at Malibu Creek.

On Wednesday I began preparing for the evening Q. At 10:45 a.m. I placed 25 pounds of Tri-tip in my smoker and spent the rest of the day relaxing and watching the temperature . I also mix up a batch of coleslaw  for a side when it was time to eat.

By 3:30 p.m. folks began to arrive and at 5:30 p.m. it was time to open up the smoker and slice the Tri-tip.  We had about 35 participants who came out that evening to eat and socialize around the campfire. I do believe everyone had a good time that night.
Andy Fisher (from England) Harry and I finalizing the evening meal.

Oh, I should mention we also fixed up a batch of Arbuckles' cowboy coffee that evening - that is another story!
Cowboy  Claire

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Is it worth it?

Since we started traveling in our Class C motorhome,  I was always wondering if it's a frugal way to go. Well, Jean takes notes on most of our trip expenses. When we travel together, both Jean and I share in some of the expenses, like fuel and food.

Our last trip was in Arizona, we visited El Dorado Hot Springs, my cousin in Peoria, friends Wickenburg, attended the Arizona Renaissance Faire, and then camped at Joshua Tree National Park, it was a 7 day trip in the rig.

We were out for 7 days and 6 nights and we only paid for a campsite in Joshua Tree National Park, the rest of the nights we parked our rig in driveways.

Back at home,  Jean totaled our expenditures for the Arizona trip and it was $888.58. Half of the cost was fuel - with a total of $427.69 for approximately 994 miles. So our joint cost for entertainment and food (including restaurants and Renaissance Fair tickets) was $460.89 . Given those totals our average for 7 days was $126.94 per day. Not bad, considering we had our home or our traveling home with us. On a given day we can easily pay $150.00 just for a hotel and that's not including fuel, food or entertainment.

If you search the internet, you will find articles about the pros and cons of RV travel. I've read them and it seem to me that the pros sure out weight the cons. Even with the added modifications and repair costs I dealt with, in my opinion traveling in an RV is still worth it.

For a short article on traveling with an RV follow the link...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Who is HAR-Vee

HAR-Vee is the name of our rig that Jean had christened it with. We actually spent some time trying to figure out what to name it and one day it was named HAR-Vee.

We purchased HAR-Vee in February 2009 from Mike Thompson's RV Super Store in Fountain Valley, CA.

HAR-Vee is a 2009 Fleetwood Tioga Ranger 29V Class C Motorhome. It has been our traveling motel for numerous trips over the pass few years. We have put some miles on it and we plan to put a few more.

Like all other RV owners we have made a few modifications to HAR-Vee. Here the list:

  • LED lights. I have now exchanged most of the original bulbs to LED lights. These lights draw only a fraction of the current and stay cooler than the original bulbs would have used.

  • TurboMaxx Fan and Vent. I read some where that if you have two ceiling fans going in opposite directions, it helps keep your interior cooler and minimizes the use of the Air Conditioner. The Maxx Vent covers also help to keep out the rain while having the vents open. 

  • Solar Panel Package from Discount Solar, Quartzsite Arizona. It has been about a year now when we installed a Solar Panel System. By having this system installed it opens us to more opportunities to find a place to stay. "The term boondocking, also known to RV enthusiast as dispersed camping, dry camping or coyote camping, is used to describe camping in the midst of nature without the use of commercial campgrounds and hookups."

  • Dinghy Tow Set-up. Awhile back we invested in purchasing a tow package from Camping World for my 2011 Jeep Rubicon. We bought the Roadmaster Falcon II All-Terrain Tow Bar, Tow Bar Bracket and Accessory Kit. Installation was part of the overall package. It turn out to be a good deal. I did search other local RV dealers for prices and Camping World out bid them. At the Quartzsite 2012 RV and Tent Show we also bought the RVi Brake system.

  • Mr. Heater, Model No: MH9BX - Portable Buddy. When we are not hooked-up to shore power, I try and find ways to conserve our house battery power. The heater fan in our rig uses a lot of power to keep it running especially during cold nights. My solution was buying the Portable Buddy. It can heat up an area up to 200 sq.ft., that's about what the inside of HAR-Vee is. The heater can run on a 1lb propane fuel canister for about 5-6 hours on its low setting.

To help me find information I refer to the internet. There is a lot of information on Motorhome travel, lifestyle, modifications and so on. I do have some favorite sites I like to go to when I need general or specific information

  • RV.NET, The  Official Blog of the Open Road. I get a lot of good information reading the RV forums.

Well there you have it. Now you know a little bit about HAR-Vee and some of the modifications we added. It's nice travelling with the comforts of home...

Here are some photos of HAR-Vee about...
Malibu Coastline

KOA Apache Junction, AZ - Feb 2011

Bitterroot Mountains, Montana - July 2011

Rose RV Park, Quartzsite, AZ 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Wow, what a fun trip we had travling in Arizona, both Jean and I sure enjoy traveling in our RV visiting family and friends who live there.

After we left El Dorado Hot Springs (Part I), our next stop was at my cousin Louie's place where he lives in Peoria, Arizona. Our plan was to spend a couple of days and visit the area while at Louies. On Thursday, Jean and I headed for Cabela's Outfitters to do a little shopping and just check out all the stuff at the store.

 Cabela' Homepage

I should also mention that there is a Cracker Barrel restaurant next to Cabela's. Jean loves to have breakfast at Cracker Barrel and since Cabela's is right next door, well then everybody wins!

After a few hours of shopping we left Cabela's and went to see a movie till my cousin Louie came home from work. That evening we had dinner at BJ's restaurant in Glendale, Arizona.

On Friday morning we said our good byes to Louie and we were off to Wickenburg, Arizona to see some friends that live there. Ken and Susanne had invited us to come to Wickenburg to stay at their place and attend the Annual Gold Rush event at Wickenburg. By 11 a.m. we had the RV parked in their dirt driveway.

Just when I was finishing up, Ken and Susanne showed up. They were at the event area and walked back to greet us. Ken asked if I wanted to go down to the event and check out some of the vendors and then get lunch at the Hog Trough. He didn't have to ask me twice and off we went. The ladies would find us later by the miracle of cell phone.

Wickenburg Gold Rush Days is a big event for the town and community.  The event celebrates the town’s origins as a ranching & gold mining center in the days before there was a Phoenix, Arizona. 

Now if you are ever near the vicinity of Wickenburg, you should make an effort to stop and visit the Hog Trough BBQ Smoke house! You will not be disappointed.

On Saturday it was parade day at Wickenburg! So we were off to a spot to view the parade. It was a down-home community parade and we enjoyed it!

The parade was a nice break in our travels, and the parade dispalyed how comunities still take pride with it's people and hertiage.

Sunday was Arizona Renaissance Fair Day! We were heading to the fair, located near the city of Apache Junction, Arizona.

Jean and I have been coming to the Renaissance fair for 9 years and always have a great time. Ken and Susanne have joined us for the last 3 years and they also looked forward to the fair.

We loved going to Renaissance and Pirate Faire's! Jean and I have also performed at the Big Bear Valley Pirate and Renaissance Faire in June and August. I'll be Blogging about those events soon.

One of the special offers at the faire is the Pleasure Feast. It is a sit down 5 course meal with entertainment. Jean and I have been attending this feast since it has started and several friends and family members have joined us over the years. The Pleasure Feast special includes your entrance fee, food and entertainment. You also get an commerative goblet to take home with you. It's a fun way to enjoy the fair.

Driving from Wickenburg to Apache Junction makes the drive long both ways. Once we arrived back to Ken and Susanne's that evening it didn't take long for Jean and I to hit the sack.

Monday morning was a treat, Ken had coffee ready for us as we gradually got out of bed. Ken even cooked breakfast to help start our next day of travel. By 10:30 am Arizona time we were saying good bye to Ken and Susanne and Wickenburg.

From Wickenburg we would take Highway 74 to the I-10 and then take a fuel stop at Quartzsite, Arizona. Gas is still cheaper in Arizona than it is in California. When we travel in our RV, we try and get our fuel at either a Pilot or Flying J. When we began our trip last Wedensday, we registered for the RV Loyalty card. If you sign up you can get additional reductions on fuel, dumping and propane. Not bad if you are traveling in an RV.

With our  Tioga Ranger filled with fuel, our goal was to camp at Cottonwood Springs Campground, located in Joshua Tree National Park.

We stopped at Blythe, California to pick up a few supplies, including a bundle of fire wood. It was my intention to complete our trip with a good ol' fashion campfire.

By 2:30 p.m. we were parking the RV at our campsite and preparing for the night. Our night at Cottonwood Springs was very relaxing, especially sitting next to the campfire. We were both glad that we ended our trip at one of our favorite campgrounds.
Tuesday was our travel back to home day - BUMMER! By 3 pm that day, we were back home reflecting back on the long week of travel. Yes, we are ready to take off again...real soon! 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Arizona Trip II - Part I

After work from Pepperdine University I quickly headed home to get Jean and our gear for our next trip to Arizona. By 5:15 p.m. we were on the road heading east toward Arizona.

What made this exit unique was we were not sure where we were going to stay that evening. My first thought was to overnight at a Flying J in the city of Thousand Palms, Ca., but when we arrived that evening we decided it was too bright and noisy for us. So we continued on till we reached Chiriaco Summit on Interstate 10.

Chiriaco Summit, to our surprise, was a truck stop over and there was free dry camping. Yes, that's where we decided to spend the night. Before long we settled in until the next day.

By 6 a.m. I was up and ready to take my desert sunrise picture for the day. Because Chiriaco Summit is a truck stop there was a nice resturant for us to have breakfast.

I should mention that this is also the location for the George Patton Museum. So if you are passing through the area, you should at least plan to stop to visit the Museum.

After breakfast we were on Interstate 10 heading eastbound to Peoria, Arizona.

As we were getting close to Buckeye, Arizona, the community of Tonopah, Arizona was in view. I had mentioned to Jean that I had read about some Hot Springs that were there. So before Jean said "no way" I was getting off the exit for Tonopah.

Findng the Hot Springs was easy. It was really close to the exit and we were able to park our RV nearby to explore the site.

The Hot Springs are known as El Dorado Hot Springs. Take exit 94 off the I-10, to get you there. The address is 41225 W. Indian School Road.

The site is located above a subterrainean hot spring. The operators boast the the hot spring is pure, odorless, and tastless mineral water.

The word Tonopah means "hot water under the bush" in the local Native American language.

One of the employees gave us a short tour of the site and we decided that we wanted to have a soak. For 20 dollars we had a private tub for an hour and it was a nice relaxing break during our drive to Peoria.

The hour went quick and both Jean and I were ready to finish our trip that day. It turned out to be a fun drive that day with a great side stop at El Dorado.

The photo above is a sign you see as you exit  El Dorado Hot Springs.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

When I first transferred to the Santa Monica Mountains, near Los Angeles, California, it was Malibu Creek State Park. I was the Supervising Ranger for the then 7,000 acre state park. Nestled in the middle of the Santa Monica Mountains, it was a busy weekend park for equestrians, hikers and some mountain biking.

In the interior of the park there was one particular destination, the old M.A.S.H site. The M.A.S.H site was abandoned after a wildfire in 1982. Most of the scene props were either destroyed in the wildfire or remove when it was transferred over to California State Parks.

On February 23, 2008,  to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the T.V show , California State Parks authorized some restoration work of the site. Even the old road to the helipad was restored.

Malibu Creek State Park remains a special jewel of nature and it continues to provide recreational opportunities for visitors when visiting in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Follow the links below for information on the 25th Anniversary of M.A,S.H and Malibu Creek State Park

Malibu Creek State Park Web Site, California State Parks
Sign Post -M.A.S.H. set, Malibu Creek State Park

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Quartzsite 2012

Quartzsite January 2012

We ended the month of January traveling to Quartzsite, AZ to attend the  RV and Big Tent show. Our camp was the Rose RV Park which is located not far from the main tent. Our Friends Ken and Susanne met us there when we arrived. By late afternoon we landed at the Quartzsite Yacht Club enjoy their happy hour. 

The next day I got up early to cook breakfast for our group. I cooked Biscuits in my Dutch Oven, made some Creamy Gravy and grilled some Brats. The biscuits came out great. Once  we finished breakfast we all walked over to the Big Tent and spent some time looking at all the vendors. One of the items we were looking for was a auxiliary braking system. Of course there were other items that we had in mind to purchase as well. 

My wife Jean, wasn't sure about the Quartzsite trip. When I told her it can get really crowed she gets the Heebie Jeebies. But in the end after 5 days of camping she actually had a fun time. She even went on a bike ride while we were in Quartzsite.

It was my second time coming to the RV show and again it was fun. So If all things work out, I'll be there for next year show