Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Napa Valley Wine Train Trip

Aggie & I left Friday, 4-9-10 through 4-16-10 (to celebrate our 39th wedding anniverary) to Napa Valley to take the Napa Valley Wine Train. We stayed at Canyon Creek Campground in Winters, California for 5 nights. This was our first stay at a membership park which we just purchased. It is part of the Resort Parks International (preferred) network. My rating for this park is M***. All sites had 30 amp electric and water. There were some sewer connections mostly accross the street away from the river but they had two dump locations on the property plus a honey bucket service for a fee. We picked a location right next to the river. The pad was gravel and relatively level. They were weeding ; feeding and; trimming the lawns while we were there, and they were reconstructing the bath room building near us. Two pools on the river were not maintained and no water was in the spa. We would visit this campground again.It rained Saturday through Tuesday but, we had a pleasant stay. We toured Lake Berryessa which is still 19' below full level. It was 33' low before this years rains. We visited a residential 1 acre lot we were interested in buying ten years ago. It had some geological problems so we did not buy, but it had spectacular 270 degree views of the lake. It is a good thing we decided not to buy because the lot is now about 4000 sq feet and it drops off a cliff about 400 feet below. Wow! When we were there 10 years ago, there were few homes, lots of open space with large lots. Now there are hundreds of little 1200 sq foot homes on 6000 sq. foot lots with cars, trucks, RV, and boats parked all over the lots and streets. Not a place I would like to live. On Monday, we had a wonderful time on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Our departure time was 11:30AM and they recommended we arrive at 10:30AM. At 11:00 AM they started the tour with a wine tasting, a red & a white wine. We were boarded in the last car for appetizers which consisted of shrimp, cheese & crackers, & hawaiian seawead. Yummy! The train never exceeded 18 MPH while cruising through some of the Napa Wine Region. I decided to partake in a wine tasting (extra cost) which was located in the first car. (quite a hike). While there our waitor's moved our belongings to our dining table in the diner car. They came to inform us that lunch would be served soon. We had a choice of 5 entries, I ordered halibut and Aggie ordered Cream pea ravioli. We shared and it was an awsome meal and great service. I would not hesitate to reccomend this trip to anyone. On the way back, we stayed at Pyramid Lake RV Resort. I rate this park P** This park is located about a 100 yards from Interstate 5 and this is a good sam park and rated 8/8*/6.5 by Trailor Life camping book. If it was not for 50 amp service, pull throughs, I would rather stay at the rest stop a few miles up the road. Thanks for reading my blog. Happy travelling. Mark

Monday, April 19, 2010

Campground ratings

In our travels I plan to rate all campgrounds on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Since we will be visiting, membership parks, private parks, and county, state, corps of engineer parks, and federal & national parks; I will rate the membership parks preceeded by an M, private parks open to public will be proceeded by an P, and all county, state, federal, corps of engineers, and federal & national parks will be proceeded by an F. Since most federal and state parks do not offer electric and water at each site, an average 3 star state park may not have electricity & water at your site while a private site would be required to have water and electric at each site to achieve a 3 star rating. My rating guide follows: Federal F* very primitive (pit toilets,limited drinking water,no recreational activity close by without hiking or driving, no dump site locally, no trash, natural landscape) F** primitive (pit toilets,easy access to drinking water,close to recreational activity, no dump site, has trash pickup, natural landscape) F*** Average (has flush toilets, easy access to drinking water, close to recreational activity, has dump station in park and may have limited electric & water at site, park is well maintained and most RV sites are relatively level) F**** Above average (same as average but must have major recretional activity on site such as golf course, large lake, river,etc., full hook-ups to most RV sites,pull through sites should be minimum 20'X 65' and back in site should be minimum 30'X 45', full service resort with groceries, gasoline & diesel fuel,docks for boats, small restaurant, all roads paved with level paved or concrete pads) F***** Full Resort Golf courses must be exceptionally cared for, all concrete pads, all grassy areas between sites are properly irrigated, fertilized, mowed, and weeded. It should look like a 5 star hotel resort. I personally have not stayed at one since they would charge $100 plus per nite and federal & state parks do not spend capital on such amenities. Private & Membership P* Substandard You are better off staying at a Walmart or rest area. Campground only suitable for sleeping overnight. Park may not be maintained or substandard facilities. P** Below Average Park not well maintained, advertised facilities are not available or not working, unfriendly staff, would not recommend a return trip. P*** Average Well maintained property, must have minimum 30 amp electric and water to each site and should be relatively level, should provide flush toilets, showers, trash service, dump station or full hookups, should have some reason to stay there such as working swiming pool & spa, recreation room, Park may have some deferred maintenance and some weeds but overall the park should be attractive and pleasant. Inside roads and pads can be gravel, but they should be thick enough and maintained so as not to have weeds, grass, and dirt comming through. This park would not be a dust bowl. P**** Above Average Same as average except must provide 50 AMP service & full hookups to all RV sites, must have level paved roads and pads. Pull through sites should be minimum 20'X65' & back ins should be minimum 30'X45'.These parks should have minimum 20'X40' heated inground swimming pool plus heated spa, some sort of club house with games such as video, pool table, ping pong table. There is no visible deferred maintenance,all advertised facilities are working properly and available,all grassy areas are properly irrigated,fertilized,weeded,and trimmed. There should be a golf course, river, large lake with boat launching facilities, or other recreational facilities on the property. P***** Resort I won't be reporting on these as they would be over $100 per nite. That said, these would be equivalent to a 5 star hotel. All level concrete pads, these parks must have a large attraction such as large lake with marina or full 18 hole golf course with everything impeccably maintained. There must be full service restaurants on site. There would be man made and or natural water falls and fountains throughout the property. The entrance would be manned by a 24 hour security officer and 8 to 10 foot stone walls would surround the property. These resorts are usually restricted to late model motorhomes.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Big Sur Sunset

Nice campground on highway 1 about an hour north of San Simeon & Hearst Castle. I rate this park F***. We camped at this park from 1-1-10 through 1-6-10 with our best friends, Kathy & Grant. No electric or water at site and was a little tight inside the park with my 40 footer but managed OK. Nice 10 to 15 minute hike to rocky shoreline. I would not recommend any swimming or fishing here. We came from the south and it was a challenge driving my 40 motorhome with jutting rocks on tight right hand turns. It was much easier travelling from north to south. We toured Hearst Castle while here. The Hearst family donated the property to the State who now maintains the propert and runs the tours. I understand it costs the State $13 Million yearly to operate and maintain the beautiful property.