Well, it’s been a long time since we last checked in. We have been RVing our way across California and have had some wonderful times – and a few really horrible times too.
Since leaving Calistoga in the Napa Valley, we have traveled 580 miles across California. We have stayed at:
- The Tradewinds RV Park in Vallejo, California, where we stopped so that we could visit San Francisco.
- The Merced River Resort in Delhi, California, where we planned to stay for just one night to break our journey. That was where I had a truly terrifying experience!
- A Country RV Park in Bakersfield, California, where we stayed for two weeks thinking we could rest up and use the Free Wi-Fi to catch up on our blogging. Ha!
- Valencia Travel Village in Castaic, California, where we stayed for just two nights so we could visit Santa Monica and Venice Beach.
- Right now, we are staying at the Catalina Spa RV Resort in Desert Hot Springs, near Palm Springs. And we love it here!
Here is our video check-in, where we summarize our experiences of RV camping in California so far!
And here is the route we took to cover those 580 miles.
Tradewinds RV Park in Vallejo, California
This park is just a parking lot, really – but it is super convenient if you want to take a ferry ride into San Francisco. A ten-minute cab ride gets you to Vallejo Ferry Terminal. You can also just drive there, but be warned – if you have a giant truck, you may have trouble finding a spot in the packed parking lot. We decided it was easier to take a cab, for less than ten dollars. There is a pleasant coffee shop at the Vallejo terminal where you can grab a small breakfast on your way. You can also buy a return ferry ticket to minimize the hassle coming back.
Make sure to get in the ferry line-up – we sat on a bench enjoying the view, and then suddenly realized there was an enormous line-up!
We got off at the first stop, which was the San Francisco Ferry Terminal in the Embarcadero area. We were able to buy tickets for the Big Bus right in the terminal building, and caught the bus nearby. With just one day to spend in San Francisco, a Big Bus tour seemed like a good way to see as much as possible.
There are restaurants in the Ferry Terminal building, so we had dinner there before catching the ferry back. However, be warned that you will pay a premium price if you want to have a delicious dinner at The Slanted Door, overlooking the San Francisco Bay. If we had more time, I would have liked to find a more affordable restaurant.
While at Tradewinds, the staff let us lock our bikes up in a shed, as it is not a great area, and they had had bikes stolen.
More about Tradewinds and our trip to San Francisco at minute 1:22 of the video at the top of this post! We will be publishing a complete review of this RV park soon, so subscribe now to be notified when it is published. We only send out a maximum of one email per week!
Merced River Resort in Delhi, California
We planned to stay just one night at Merced River Resort in Delhi, California, just to break our journey. But due to a small RV repair issue, we stayed for two nights. A very friendly man from Diaz mobile repair helped us out for a very reasonable fee.
So that was fine. Unfortunately, we also had some very bad experiences at the resort. I was hoping to go fishing in the beautiful river that is next to the park, but that was not to be!
Instead, three large dogs (one was a Great Dane mix) attacked my dogs as I was walking them in the early morning. I had to hold them high in the air while yelling for help. Luckily, a large young man called Jason came to our rescue before the dogs were able to get the dogs from me, or knock me over. Later, Maggie bought chocolates for Jason and his wife. In retrospect, I should have just gone to the fenced dog run. But really, no one expects to be attacked by a pack of dogs in an RV resort. Plus, I wanted to get my steps in!
The resort staff were very supportive and sympathetic, and called the Merced Sheriff. The dogs belonged to neighbors, who had been told to fix their fence, but had obviously not done it. This was the first occasion they had actually attacked someone. It was a sweet place with good people working there, but of course it is forever ruined for us.
Also, because of the RV repair, we had to stay an unplanned extra night. The park was full, so we had to park in the overflow area, which was basically bumpy gravel next to the road, with some hook-ups.
Unfortunately, we have very low rear landing gear, so one of our rear legs got stuck in the gravel, and I had to lie in the dirt and dig a channel so we could get the fifth wheel off the road! Living the dream!
More about Merced River Resort at minute 6:25 of the video at the top of this post! We will be publishing a complete review of this RV park soon, so subscribe now to be notified when it is published.
A Country RV Park in Bakersfield, California
If Merced River Resort was the scariest part of our trip so far, then A Country RV Park was probably the biggest disappointment of our trip so far. It was advertised as having a pool, a hot tub, and free Wi-Fi. So, we booked for two weeks, thinking we could rest up, and use the free Wi-Fi to catch up on our work.
Well the free Wi-Fi was UTTERLY USELESS. Even if you sat directly under the transmitter, in the clubhouse, you could hardly do a thing with it. We were parked in the second closest spot to the transmitter, and could not pick it up at all. So needless to say, neither could the other hundreds of RVs that were further away.
During our stay at A Country RV Park, we were forced to invest in a Verizon Jetpack so that we could access the Wi-Fi and get some work done. It’s by far the best thing we have bought on this entire trip – magic!
We have a post about how to access Wi-Fi in RV parks here. Although it is aimed mainly at snowbirds, this post has many very useful tips for anyone struggling to get Wi-Fi in RV parks.
The pool at A Country RV Park was as useless as the “Free Wi-Fi,” as it was December and it was not heated. And as for the hot tub … we enjoyed using it once, and then spent a week trying to salvage Maggie’s swim suit and get the chlorine smell out of our fifth wheel. The chlorine smell from Maggie’s swim suit was so overpowering that it was banished to the storage underneath our RV! After about three washings it was usable again, but it lost most of its lovely blue color. So, needless to say, we never used the hot tub again!
There were orange and lemon trees in the park, which was nice – I have never eaten oranges picked direct from the tree before. And as documented in our video, we enjoyed visiting Buck Owens’ Crystal Place for a Holiday Music Jam, and the Holiday Lights at CALM (California Living Museum). However, we were more than happy to say goodbye to this large RV park.
More about A Country RV Park at minute 11:44 of the video at the top of this post! We will be publishing a complete review of this RV park soon, so subscribe now to be notified when it is published.
Valencia Travel Village in Castaic, California, near Los Angeles
We stayed at this park for just two nights so we could visit Santa Monica and Venice Beach. I was interested in visiting Los Angeles, which is also nearby, but Maggie talked me out of it. After experiencing the traffic in and out of Santa Monica on a Saturday, I am not at all sorry that we did not try to get to Los Angeles!
It was a HUGE park, and the desert setting was quite lovely. However, the beautiful big aquatic center was pretty much unusable – the pools were not heated enough, the wading pool was dirty, only one hot tub was working, and by the second night, even that one had broken down. We were NOT impressed.
However, it is handily located if you want to visit the Six Flags Magic Mountain park, which is just a few miles away. Also, handy if you want to visit Santa Monica (38 miles to the iconic Santa Monica pier).
We drove to Santa Monica and enjoyed a five-mile walk to Venice Beach and Muscle Beach. I have always wanted to see it, but it was a bit of a let-down, because Arnold wasn’t there! After that, we were exhausted, so we took a bike cab back to the car park.
The car park at Lot 1 North at 1550 Appian Way, Santa Monica, is right on the beach, next to the Santa Monica Pier. It costs $10 to park there all day, and will accommodate the biggest of tow vehicles. But get there early, as it can get very busy!
Valencia Travel Village is also handy if you want to visit Los Angeles (40 miles).
More about Valencia Travel Village and our trip to Santa Monica at minute 17:12 of the video at the top of this post! We will be publishing a complete review of this RV park soon, so subscribe now to be notified when it is published.
Catalina Spa RV Resort in Desert Hot Springs, near Palm Springs, California
Oh my gosh, the Catalina Spa RV Resort is the best surprise of the trip so far! We LOVE it here. We are already planning to spend at least three months here next winter, and are hoping to persuade some of our friends and family to join us (there are cabins that you can rent).
Catalina Spa RV Resort has natural hot springs that provide an endless supply of hot, soft water. When I say soft, I mean that it actually FEELS soft, and you don’t even have to shower after swimming. The hot springs supply water to two hot tubs (one indoor, one outdoor), and two large swimming pools.
Plus, they have many fun activities, where you have the chance to meet other guests. For the first time on our trip, we have made some friends we hope to keep for life, George and Marilyn, a very nice couple from White Rock, back home in BC. We also made friends with Ron and Laurie, and Ken and Laura, all from central Washington. We are looking forward to seeing those good people again next year at the Catalina Spa RV Resort.
Our days go like this: I get up and go and fetch free coffee from the clubhouse. We have coffee in bed, then I take the dogs to the dog park while Maggie makes a small snack. After our snack, we go and do water aerobics in the upper pool for an hour and a half with a very jovial and friendly group. Then back to our RV for a large, well-deserved breakfast.
Then a few hours of working on the blogs, before we go for a soak in the pool, or perhaps to an activity, such as pickle ball, wine tasting, taco night, or bridge lessons. If we are especially energetic, we can do a trip into the fascinating city of Palm Springs, just 13 miles away. On Thursday we are going with George and Marilyn to the modern art museum and street fair in Palm Springs. Really, I could stay here forever!
More about Catalina Spa RV Resort at minute 24:38 of the video at the top of this post! You can also see a bit of the resort right throughout the video, as we shot it in the park. We will be publishing a complete review of this RV park soon, so subscribe now to be notified when it is published.
Off to San Diego Soon!
On Sunday we are off to spend a week at Potrero County Park near San Diego, before embarking on our trip down to Baja California. Now that will be something completely different! We might be delayed in posting updates from Mexico, as we are not expecting to have great Wi-Fi during the 35 days we are there. But we will be publishing videos and news of our adventures in Mexico, so watch this space. And if you haven’t yet subscribed, click here! You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel and catch all our videos here.
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