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End of our time in the US of A

July 30th, 2023

We spent the weekend at the campground in Bishop, doing our daily routine with no major outings.  Fran did a small amount of laundry by hand to make sure we’d last till we get back to Serena’s in two weeks after putting the trailer back into storage.  It continues to be hot – around 40C / 100F but thank goodness we can run our AC on shore power until Monday when we leave.  We’ll head back up Highway 395 the way we got here, staying at higher elevations again.  The plan is to meet Serena and Kurt and go camping with them on their two days off before the middle of August when we fly out to Toronto to see Josh and the grandkids for a few weeks before returning to Europe.

Goodbye Bishop:

After showering, gassing up and shopping for food Monday morning, we made our way north hoping to camp outside Mammoth in the spot we did before; nope – there was a “no camping” sign up now; too bad.  Since there was no other place to wild camp where we could get cell service, we continued north back to June Lake BLM.  Here we found someone in “our” spot so we chose another and we enjoyed the cooler temps (28C instead of 38C) and a wonderful breeze.  We think we’ll hang here for 3 or 4 days as we do not have to be up near Reno for another ten days.

Usual: chores, walking, Spanish, reading, made a few trips into town to the library and for a bit of food.   Usually one of us would walk into town while the other drove in and then on the way back, we switched – this helped us get our daily steps.

We’ve decided to hang it a couple of days longer due to the weather as when we make our north we will be at lower elevations and it will be hotter for sure.

One day on her walk into town, Fran spotted two deer in the trees:

It cooled off a bit more on Tuesday and was cloudy.  That night we saw the first of the two August “super moons”

See our zoomed in pic of the Sturgeon Moon above.

The weather has been perfect since we got here; not too hot during the day and cooling off really nicely at night.  Daytime temps around 27C / 81F and night time around 8C / 46F – perfect for sleeping.  We’ve not had to use the AC here at June Lake at all.

Doug’s running mojo has been lacking lately so he took a break from it and on Friday tried again and it was not great but he had a lot of hip pain.  It sucks getting older.

The fresh water has begun to have a Sulphur smell so we’ll going to sanitize the tank.  If we use the purifier there is no smell but when we had a shower on Thursday, phew!

Sanitizing the fresh water tank means, dumping it, filling it again adding a cup of bleach.  Then you run it through all the lines by turning on all the taps and flushing the toile.  You then let it sit for 4-6 hours, dump and fill again – repeat of bleach smell remains.

Near our campsite on the walk into town you reach this memorial:

It says:

During the 1930’s in central Mono County, demand for gaming entertainment skyrocketed with the influx of hundreds of employees working on the Mono Basin Project. To accommodate the workers, many local bars and cafes installed slot machines. Although illegal, there use in Mono County thrived for many years. Unfortunately, upon completion of the aqueduct in 1941 and transfer of all workers, demand for this activity diminished. Within a few years most slot machines were voluntarily removed. It was rumored that the last slot machines were hastily dumped into June Lake in the middle of the night by local merchants in response to an imminent raid by the State Revenue Agents; however, the legend of the slot machines did not end there. Over the years, numerous attempts to locate them by special cold water dive teams failed. Although no one has inserted a coin into one and pulled the handle, many people still gamble on hitting the jackpot and finding those “one armed bandits” at the bottom of June Lake, forever lost? Time will tell.

We’ve been chatting with Serena and Kurt and will be picking them up to go camping with them next Thursday morning for one night at Frenchman Lake across the state line in California. We will then be putting the trailer in storage before we fly to Ontario on the 15th.

We’ve also been looking at our options for our time out of the Schengen this winter.  We arrive back in Greece on September 10th so we’ll need to be out in the first part of December.  For now the plan is take the ferry to Morocco and we’ve already booked flights from there to Toronto for Christmas as Josh has the kids this year.  After we return, we are debating checking out the Middle East, maybe the Maldives and of course, exploring Morocco itself before we are able to reenter the Schengen in March.  The plan is to finish up Europe before July….sell Minou and then who knows!!!

Here’s our view for the past few days:

On Friday we decided for sure to hang here at June Lake till Monday and try to get into the campground near Carson City for a few nights before meeting Serena and Kurt.  It’s first come first serve, so we hope we can get a spot with power as it’s hot there.

On Saturday’s walk, Fran took the backroads to check out a crater; the crater itself was not much but in the crater was parked an old pop up camper:

The road was very dusty and at one point saw deer tracks:

Then taking a different route back brought her to the June Lake Overlook:

As she returned to the main road, she once again saw deer but only one this time (it’s wearing some sort of collar so they must be tracking it):

That day we went into June Lake village for lunch, had some yummy bison burgers at the Tiger Club, and went to the library for a couple of hours before returning to the “T bar” for an early happy hour enjoying some Pacifico on draft.   We like this little town despite not having all you need, it’s cute, small and easy to get around as well as being not that far to walk to from our BLM spot.  It’s not hot enough for us to want to sit at the beach and if you don’t go in the morning, it’s hard to find parking, so we didn’t go there this time around.

Well, Sunday morning came and after Doug’s run, we decided to move on today instead of tomorrow; this allows Doug time to do another one of his marathon walks and maybe get a few things done on the truck (maintenance time) in Carson City.  We drove as far as Minden, about 169 km / 105 mi got gas at $4.06 a gallon at the Maverick station and arrived at Washoe Lake State Park around 12:30 pm hoping to get a spot.  Naturally, we’d love our site one spot again, but at this point any site with power and water would do as it’s definitely hot here.

The fellow at the gate told us that there were a few serviced sites left (despite the sign saying both Loops were full) and to go get a site and come back before 8pm to pay.  Well Site one was taken as was ten (our second choice) but 11 was open and it had two trees.  We nabbed it and got partially set up so we could at least have brunch.

After lunch Fran screwed up big time and after getting out the blocks for the stabilizers that Doug would wind down, went off to the front office to pay, forgetting to put the wheel chocks in!  Doug raised the two front stabilizers and the trailer rolled forward about a half metre, bending the two front stabilizers back and part of the hitch hook up.

At the office, Fran explained we wanted four nights and he confirmed the price of $30 per night.  He gave her a receipt with the exit date written on it and she said “what about a chit for the post at the campsite?” He told her she didn’t need it.  Just before getting back Fran reviewed the receipt and he’d actually charged her $20 a night for five nights (as if we were residents of Nevada and getting a non-serviced site in Loop B).  WTH?  Oh well, she leave it be until they figure out it…..and pretend she didn’t notice as he’d verbally confirmed the price of $120 despite charging $100.

When Fran returned, Doug explained what happened and she felt horrible.  Luckily, Doug was able to kick the stabilizers back into alignment and set them up.

Phew –  here’s our campsite for the next four nights:

It’s not as big as site one which we really liked last month but it does have two trees and our awning stretches out to almost reach the shaded picnic table.  We seem to be able to be less exposed to the late afternoon sun too, which is quite nice.

A couple of days ago, a friend of ours that we met in Panama, reached out as they saw where in the US we were and they said they’d love to meet up.  Well we heard from them today and they are here at Washoe Lake State Park.  They got a site in the non service area and they came over for happy hour.  We met Norm in Panama as stated above and we stayed at his farm there.  He recommended a mechanic to us at the time (2017) and we had some work done on Tigger at Neil’s garage.  Norm also let us stay at his farm in England when we first got Minou.  His sons live in cottages there and he has a farm manager, Jess, who let us park out front of the barn area for two weeks while Doug installed a new propane system and solar panels in Minou. We had never met his wife, Amelia, until today.  We enjoyed a couple of hours of chatting and will get together again tomorrow afternoon.

Monday, Doug did his marathon walk; Fran began to clean out the trailer in readiness for putting it back in storage next weekend also went into Carson City to do some shopping.  It’s too far to walk (due to the freeway you really have to go the long way around) but it’s only a seven minute drive.  The weather is still on the hottish side but as usual there’s a great “zephyr” breeze here and at night it cools down. We run the AC in the afternoon to keep the trailer for heating up and turn it off before the sun goes down.

At 4pm we walked over to Norm and Amelia’s site and had happy hour there.  We checked out their rig; Norm did the build himself.

Tuesday, Doug took the Tundra into Carson City to get some regular maintenance taken care of; got it all done but the oil change which we will do in Reno using a Groupon and he’s been trying to get a couple of chips in the windshield repaired without success.  We have firmed up our camping trip on Thursday with Serena and Kurt and hope to be able to park out trailer on the street near the house when we get back so as to save a trip out to Fallon and just return both the truck and trailer to storage on Monday before our flight on Tuesday.

So Wednesday morning, Doug did a couple of repair jobs on the plastic under the trailer, then washed the awnings before we went into Carson City to get the glass chips repaired – done.  We stopped at Costco to fill up (and get hotdogs!) before heading into the library for some Wi-Fi time.  While we have plenty of data on our cell phones, the hot spot does not consistently work.

Thursday morning, we packed up, filled the water tank, dumped the black & grey tanks and made our way to Serena’s with a couple of errands enroute.  (Doug had purchased a Groupon for an oil change for the Tundra but could never get through on the phone to book an appointment so we stopped to make one in person and also made a stop at the Home Depot to pick up something.)

We picked up Serena and Kurt and their gear around ten and made our way to Frenchman Lake in California – about 70 km / 45 miles away – so about an hour’s drive.

The windy part just before the lake:

We had reserved a site and it turned out to be right up from the lake and it was plenty big enough.  We got the trailer parked and set up their sun shade and had some lunch.

It’s a very pretty site and we are all happy with it.  Serena and Kurt had brought their inflatable kayak and they went for a float; Fran went for a dip and then we sat on the beach chatting and playing a National Parks trivia game.

Titan exploring

Fran and Kurt also took the dogs for a walk to check out the area beside the campground after he set up their tent.

Heidi bushwhacked her way on our way and managed to get a few burrs so Serena spent some time cleaning her up:

We enjoyed a teriyaki chicken bbq for dinner and a lovely sunset:

We ended the evening with a campfire – we’ve not had a campfire since the summer of ’21 that we spent in Ontario near Josh’s.  The wood we used we’d been carrying around since then!

Next morning we went to look for a geocache nearby that we never found and then had an early lunch before we had to check out at noon.  While it was only one night it was a great camp spot which we all enjoyed.

After unloading the trailer, Doug parked it on the street and we had a chill afternoon.

In our mail, we received the insurance reimbursement for the towing/impound charges for the accident in Mexico; they do not give full reimbursement but we got the max so better than nothing – FINALLY!!!!

Serena and Kurt had to work on Saturday so we had an early night.  Fran cleaned the trailer some more and we began to get things ready for storage.  That night after they both got home, we took them to see the “Barbie” and we all were thoroughly entertained.

Sunday was a day of errands and beginning to pack for Toronto & then on to Europe.  Luckily, our flight to Buffalo on Tuesday allows us two free checked bags on Southwest because we have a lot of stuff, and more than one of the bags is for Josh!

Doug took the truck to get it washed and then had to hook up the trailer and re-park  it as there is a by-law in Reno about vehicles being in the same spot for more than 48 hours.  Before parking he took it to dump it, drain the water tank and upon parking it, we winterized it.  Fran now cleaned the inside the truck and they are now both ready to go back into storage.  Doug hooked the trailer back up and then decided he should re park it as it was facing the wrong direction; that caused a major issue:  the trailer hit some branches, damaged the roof and ripped the camera off the back!  He was able to put it all back on, re-caulked the camera and used self-leveling sealant on the roof to repair the tears and make it waterproof.  What an afternoon!  It was hot too so that just made it worse.

The temps the past few days are still in the high 30’sC / mid 90’s F and it don’t cool off as much at night as we’ve been used it.  Kurt & Serena turn on the AC only in the late afternoon to save energy bills and we have our portable fans from the trailer to help.

Kurt offered to barbecue corn on the cob and vegetarian burgers for dinner and went shopping, He also brought back yummy brownies.

Monday, Doug left around 7:30 to head wash the trailer near the storage place and then to park the vehicles at the storage place in Fallon.  Serena drove Fran over to Kurt’s work just after 8 am on her way to work.  Kurt had arranged a rental vehicle for us and after she did a couple of errands (a home depot return and she want for a lipid panel blood test to see if the statins were helping), she met Doug in Fallon at the Mini storage.   He was almost done and she finished the inside of the trailer.  We put a few things in storage, got out the stuff we had to take to Josh’s and put it in the trunk of the rented Camry.  It was now nearly noon and we stopped at DQ for lunch.

Here’s a shot of Bruce chilling in the house:

We were back at the house by 2 and then after making sure everything fit in our bags – yes we do have FOUR bags to check – we spent a quiet afternoon.  After Serena got home from work, we all went for dinner to do an early celebration dinner for Doug’s birthday (tomorrow) at the Olive Garden where Doug really enjoys the all you can eat soup and salad.

Tuesday (happy birthday Doug!) we did last minute packing s0 we have four checked bags (actually all carry on sized but using the expando zippers!), two backpacks and one small duffle we’ll carry on as well as Fran’s purse:

After an early brunch, made our way to the Reno Tahoe airport for our flight to Buffalo (via Denver) at 2:10 pm using an Uber as we gave Kurt the rental to take back when he went to work early this morning.  We landed at the end of a rain storm in Buffalo at midnight, but that’s Eastern Time so it only feels like 9 pm for us.   Our four checked bags made it too and we found the hotel shuttle from the airport.  We had booked a hotel for the night super close to the airport that we’ve stayed at before.

In the morning we caught another Uber to where we store our Honda.  As usual, we have a few packages to pick up at Amanda’s (we needed to pay up our lease) and then we drove to Walmart to get groceries and topped up the gas tank at $3.89 USD (cheaper than Reno!) before heading for the border.  We have not used the Honda since we were in Ontario for Fran’s mom’s funeral back in April 2022, and Amanda’s husband , Kevin offered (and we accepted) to do an oil change for us at a reasonable price – above and beyond storage duties for sure!   Turns out he also hosed down the car so it wasn’t too dirty considering it’s been so long since we’ve used it.  (It did smell a little musty so at Walmart we got some stuff to kill any spoors in the air and a freshener to help with the musty smell.  We did find some ants in it so we went to get some ant traps after arriving at Josh’s.)

Adios USA for quite a while we anticipate.  Thanks Serena & Kurt for putting up with us so much this past year! xo