Thursday, July 9, 2020

Our first RV trip to Crater Lake, Oregon

An RV trip was in our list of things to do for a while. When our friends mentioned they are planning to do one, we thought it would be fun to club with them and experience this together. As this is pandemic times, RV looked to be the safer option if you plan to do a trip. Again, I want to  point out, that there is always risk in anything that you do outside of your own home during COVID times, but it is about how comfortable you are in taking any level of risk vs reward. In our case, for last 4 months, the kids were propped up at home, with basically no outing other than a few outdoor walks. So they were literally craving for some change, and so were we. And hence the decision for the trip in an RV. The owners from whom we rented also mentioned, they do give a 3-4  day gap between rentals too, which was comforting as well. But again, I would never vouch that it is totally risk free, as there is always some risk involved given the situation we are in.

Booking an RV

The first thing is to figure out where to book the RV from. Outdoorsy has some RV rentals from direct owners, and this is how we booked our RV. We booked an E-350 while my friends booked E-450. I would suggest booking the E-450, as it is slightly larger than E-350 in length and the additional space will be appreciated.

Also, we booked an RV, closer to our destination. We were off to Crater lake, and it’s better and cheaper to book an RV from Medford or Yreka as 100 miles / day is free and it’s more economical, at the same time you can still get the RV experience.

Campground booking 

The next up is to book the RV campground and we hit the jackpot with this one. We booked in Prospect, Oregon in the Crater Lake RV Park, and we loved our stay here. It was well equipped with hook ups for power, water and sewage each campsite having its own individual ones. This made RV living so comfortable for us. Our campsite was also well managed, with two camp hosts living in the property, and a small office with dvd, books and other small things you could borrow and return back. The camp hosts are available, for any urgent requests.

In this particular campsite spots were also well shaded with tall pines, which made it extra special as we clearly felt we were camping midst of nature. There were also short trails  starting from the campsite which we could hike with kids. For groceries, there was one grocery shop about a mile away which was convenient too.

For campfires, they do want you to get the wood from the campsite, and as per Oregon law, you cannot get wood from outside.

So as a tip, look for campground that has all the hook ups, because there are also campgrounds without these, and it might be less convenient. But, it also depends from one place to the other too.

What to pack & food

Another piece of info for first time RV-ers are most RV’s come with the below. But make sure you confirm with owners so that you do not need to take any of the below with you. We did take some additional sheets and couple of towels, for sanity reasons.

  • Camping chairs 
  • Table ( check with owner, ours did)
  • Outdoor portable grill ( you can also rent this for additional $10)
  • Canopy ( additional rental)
  • Basic utensils 
  • Plates, mugs and cutlery
  • Freezer, Fridge 
  • Towels
  • Bedding with comforter 
  • Toilet paper and paper towels (Better to carry some of your own too)
In our case, we had a planned menu, so we packed food accordingly and also as per individual family needs. I think this is one of the most important steps in the planning. If you plan your meals and keep some buffer food, you will have a clear idea of what to pack. You can buy some from grocery store, but in Prospect, we were not sure if there was a grocery store near by. This is an additional input you can check with the campsite owner. We later realized there was a grocery store, a mile away from campsite.

Depending on stay, pack your clothes. Rest of the items you pack, are very similar to usual camping trips
Other personal items you might want to take along with you.
  • Personal Clothes
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellant 
  • First aid 
  • Medicines 
  • Swim wear ( as per location)
  • Jackets 
  • Hats 
  • Coffee / Tea powder ( for tea you can get chai moments tea packets, which includes milk, sugar and tea and all you need is hot water)momen
  • Extra blankets/ throws 
  • A few toys for kids ( personal choice) 
  • Chargers for phone
  • Downloaded google maps of the area 
  • Flash light
  • Lamp Marshmallows, Hershey’s milk chocolate, graham crackers and Smore sticks 

With this, you are all set to enjoy the RV! Another tip is to actually do RV camping with at least one other family, as it’s more fun to just sit around the campfire and talk.

Take it easy & enjoy

Don’t pack your day with a lot of things to do during camping, as the main experience is the camping in itself.

We drove to Crater Lake area, and we camped at the campsite for 4 nights. On day 1, which was travel day, major part of the day was driving down to crater lake area with a few stops for lunch break or restroom break. We had lunch packed, and hence we were not dependent on any restaurants.

After we got the RV from Yreka, we spent about an hour with the owner going over everything and also doing a test drive. So please account for this time. Once we reached the campsite, the set up was very simple. We connected the gas, water and power to the RV and unloaded the car and we are all set! 

We had not packed our trip with too many things, and we spent the next 3 days exploring nearby trails, visiting crater lake national park( though most of west rim was closed) and driving down to Klamath falls. To Klamath Falls, we actually drove the RV to enjoy the RV driving experience. It’s very important to make sure we hold on tight during tight turns etc in a driving RV, and make sure the kids are not running around, as they can fall and get hurt if not careful. But otherwise this is a real fun experience to drive in a house on wheels:)
Few things we explored 

  • Rogue River trail
  • Hidden Lake trail 
  • Natural Bridges trail
  • Crater Lake 
  • Pearsoney Falls and Nature trail
  • Klamath Falls (Just drove up here and a nice lunch in link park)
  • Link River Trail (Klamath Falls)

What worked very well was, we had a well planned menu, and enough snacks to keep all of us fed and more. Our campsite breakfast and dinners and picnic lunches were always a highlight. We as a team, loved to grill and cook and hence the time we spent doing these were equally enjoyable. We also spent a good part of the night around the campfire and also did s’mores which is a favorite among kids. 

was pleasantly surprised that all the kids were happy exploring in and around the camping area. They hardly bothered us. In the nights, the borrowed DVDs came useful for the kids to watch in the RV. 

Though, I imagined initially that the beds may not be that comfortable, we all slept like a log, thankful for air conditioner, heater in the RV. The availability of shower was also great, as after a long day, it was much appreciated. Having your own restroom made total sense with small kids. The kitchen in the RV is fully functional and there is enough space in the fridge and freezer for all your food. The RV also has enough space for the dry foods that you bring and your clothes. I was expecting dumping the grey and black water to be a dreadful experience, but the hook up for the same was individual to each spot, which made it quick and easy. All in all, this was a great experience, one I would recommend everyone to try. 

The best thing I personally loved about RV camping, was waking up in the morning with no particular agenda, and soaking in the nature all around.

A few snaps below

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Weekend gateway to Cambria, CA

This was president’s day weekend, and I wanted to have a getaway. It’s been almost 6 months since we went for a family trip. Lack of vacation days and time, led us to making a quick booking 2-3 days before the weekend. 

We did not want to fly, and driving too far, will just end up being too hectic, so Sree figured Cambria which is a beach town about 3-4 hrs down south would be a good destination. 
We booked an AirBnB 2-3 days before the weekend began.

Day 1 
On Saturday, after lunch we started off to Cambria. The drive was beautiful. We reached Cambria around 5:30 pm  and checked into our airBnB. It was a good idea to reach here before dark, or else it would be a bit challenging to find the place in the dark. But they had white lights outside which was very helpful too.The place was really nice with all the amenities and a fully stocked kitchen. It was surrounded with trees. It had a deck and I think the most interesting aspect of the house was that, it had these stained glass windows in multiple places  and an old reading/writing nook with an antique table. This was a 2 bedroom home with one bedroom downstairs and the other one up. One of them, had a king bed and we decided to just use that for the 4 of us.

After moving in the luggage, we decided to check out the small downtown in the east village of Cambria. It spanned a few blocks of old coastal town buildings and shops on one straight road. 
We found a Mexican place (Las Cambritas) to have dinner. The food was great, but heavy and a lot. My Mango margarita was perfect. 

We wanted to get some milk and bread and the only grocery store in Cambria, the SOTO’s earth market has everything you need. I got a Brioche bread thinking it was normal bread only to realize it’s not later. As always we had forgotten our sunscreen and I got a small stick of it. This will add to our sunscreen stash at home. 

We came back home and called it a day by snuggling into the king bed and instantly falling asleep.

Day 2 
During the early hours of the morning, I felt Pranav was running temperature and on checking realized he had 100.4. We gave him Tylenol and he went back to sleep. Thankfully we had remembered to carry it with us.

We all woke up around 8:30 am,  and Pranav looked fine after a good night sleep. We enjoyed looking out of the windows at the trees watching  the sun rays shining through the stained glass. Myself and the kids started working on one of the smaller jigsaw puzzles in the house. 
Mid way- Pranav told he had ear pain and me and Sree realized that this could be ear infection. There was no urgent care in Cambria, so we all got dressed and left to
Morro bay. 

After a quick visit there, we went to the Rite aid to collect the prescribed antibiotics, and also got ourselves two beach chairs. We reached Morro beach, and it was windy and cold! But the kids were so excited. They made impressions on the sand with the sand toys and wanted Sree/me to accompany them to the waves every now and then. But the cutest pass time for the kids was the run towards these sea birds who flocked now and then near us. The birds would fly away, and the kids would repeat this. 

Me and Sree sat bearing the cold thanking that we had beach towels to wrap us, jackets and chairs to sit on. 
After the beach, we went to moonstone pathway in Cambria and walked there for a while. The scenery was beautiful and it was nice to just walk around. 
We got tired around 4, and we headed back home to get cleaned up. We quickly snacked on some bread from yesterday, and got dressed for dinner.
Before dinner, we walked around and got into one of the gift shops in east village. It had a lot of handmade gifts. I happened to pass a girl who looked familiar and I immediately realized she could be Divya Thellore - with whom I had corresponded via chat for dance. I pinged her and she confirmed it was indeed her. So we met in the gift shop and said our hi’s. Of all the places, we meet in Cambria :)

The kids started feeling hungry, and we decided to go to Lynn’s for dinner. I ordered their scampi which is a shrimp curry with rice. Sree ordered lemon chicken which was really tasty and the kids had mac n cheese & pasta. They also ordered milk shake which was so big, and was very good. 
We stopped at the grocery store - Soto’s earth store and got bread and milk again and Sree got some beer to try. 

Once we reached home, me and Sree watched Kim’s convenience on Netflix while the kids watched something on the iPad.
I wanted to do the jigsaw puzzle, the bigger one, and Pranav and me did it for a while - we just sorted the pieces and called it a day.

Day 3
Pranav was coughing so badly in the night that it took him a while to get rested sleep. Finally after a bottle of milk, he slept soundly.We all woke up around 8:30 am again.We packed our stuff, got dressed, took some pics on the deck and checked out of the house.

We went to Cambria downtown and walked around East village checking out some shops along the street. I got some interesting wind chimes. We also checked out the antique store and the tiny house which we were originally considering for staying via AirBnB.  Next time, may be the tiny house :)
We ordered food from the Soto’s earth market as togo, and went to a nearby cafe, to get some scones for the kids.

On our way back, we saw signs of Red Moose cookie company, and followed it to a storage location where they are running this from. They had some interesting varieties of cookies.I got some root beer cookies, molasses cookies and almond and chocolate cookies.

We went down to West village and I checked out a pottery place which we thought might be interesting and we also got our usual souvenir magnet of Cambria from the Shell gas station in West village.
Around 1, we started our ride back home and reached home by 5:00 pm. 

This was one of the most relaxing vacations we have had. Short and sweet.