Thursday, October 6, 2016

Wildlife Viewing at Folsom Lake, California

While we were enjoying our time at Folsom Lake SRA, (State Recreation Area), we encountered many different species of wildlife. Besides squirrels, which number in the thousands and skunks, which I did not photograph, Folsom Lake is home to rabbits, coyotes, deer, turkey, possum, foxes, hawks, tortoise, snakes and both Golden and Bald Eagles. I offered to assist in capturing any snake found within the campground and I wasn't disappointed. Using a 'snake stick' made out of PVC we capture them and release them away from the campground where they won't encounter humans on a regular basis. I was unable to get a picture of a Golden Eagle that frequents the campground due to being too slow to grab my phone. They are beautiful birds though. Below are some photographs in no particular order.

Our 'friend' the notorious Jack Rabbit.

A harmless garter snake. While not poisonous, it will bite if provoked or threatened. Here, he's in my bucket waiting to be relocated.

We also encountered a couple king snakes which are also non poisonous.

This tortoise wandered into one of the tent sites. I took his picture and watched him scurry away into the underbrush. I was amazed at how quickly he disappeared.

One of two hawks that visit the tent campground on a regular basis. You can always tell when one is around as the momma squirrels make a serious racket. While it does not appear large in this picture, it's wingspan was a good 24-30 inches.

Several turkeys wander the tent campground through looking for free food.
And, of course my favorite, the dreaded rattlesnake. This guy scared more than a few campers who did not want to share their tents or sleeping bags with him. I relocated him several miles away from the campground as snakes can find their way back if it's less than a mile.

Folsom Lake SRA Folsom, California

Great news! Doctor released me May 15th allowing us to head out as soon as possible. We left Arizona on May 25th with the house selling the day before we left. Life is good again! We arrived in NorCal on May 30th and headed to Folsom Lake on June 1st. After settling in, we were contacted by the rangers to accept our assignments. If you've never work camped, it can be a rewarding experience. This is our second time work camping and it's important to know what is expected on both sides prior to your commitment, otherwise neither party will be satisfied with the assignment. In exchange for our camping spot, we were expected to work at least 15 hours/week, with our choice of hours and days. Our assignments included collection of fees, cleaning of sites and providing direction for campers. No bathroom or heavy duty assignment. In the evening, we were expected to sell firewood when necessary.

Folsom Lake SRA surrounds Folsom Lake. It has two distinct campgrounds, Beal's Point and Peninsula. Beal's Point is close to shopping etc. and has 19 FHU sites and 47 non hookup. It can accommodate any size rig. Peninsula is remote and has no hookups although water and a dump station are available. Facilities are 45 minutes away. 

Our site was extra large. You can see our coach amongst the trees. We did have excellent DirecTV service. The small building in the picture is the firewood shack. To the left of that is our screen room. We were also provided a motorized GEM electric cart to get around the campground.

Folsom Lake is located about 40 minutes east of Sacramento. It contains over 11,500 acres of water with 75 miles of shoreline.  The largest and most natural part of the park is the Peninsula area which encompasses some 1,485 acres. It is located on the east shore of the lake near Pilot Hill, California.

These pictures show the west side of the lake which is more civilized. Here you can find riding and bicycle trails, (32 miles to downtown Sacramento if you're so inclined), picnic areas, a snack bar and boat/canoe/kayak rentals.  There is something for every taste around this lake.

The lake itself was formed by the construction of Folsom Dam in 1955. Until the events of 9/11, you could drive across the dam. That road is now closed but a bypass has been constructed. The lake is fed by the American River  which then merges further downstream with the Sacramento river eventually flowing out to sea under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

There are many areas with access to the lake each with it's own distinct flavor to cater to almost anyone. Granite Bay, (day use/launch ramp) Beal's Point, (campground/swim beach) Negro Bar, (group camping) Brown's Ravine, (marina) Peninsula (campground) and Nimbus Flats, (day use). Folsom Lake SRA is the most visited park in the State Park system.

Beautiful sunsets are a given at any location around the lake.


The lake supports a large number of recreational activities including personal watercraft, fishing, sailing, wakeboarding, swimming, paddling, kayaking and nature appreciation. Aquatic activities account for almost 85% of all recreational visits to the lake. There are almost 100 miles of biking, hiking and equestrian trails within the park boundaries.  The Jedidiah Smith Memorial Trail traverses the park at Beal's Point. This paved off road trail links all the way to Old Town Sacramento and the train museum.


As a reservoir, the water levels in the lake fluctuate between 440 feet in the early summer and 405 feet in the early winter. Hidden beneath it's water is a gold rush city known as Mormon Island. In 2013 during an extended period of drought in the area much of this 'city' reappeared 58 years after being submerged under Folsom Lake, with stone walls from some of the outlying areas being revealed by the shrinking lake.

Up next are pictures of some of the wildlife found within the campground.


Welcome to 2016

Well, 2016 is well underway and I'm a little, actually quite a bit, late on posting so I'm going to try to bring our blog as current as possible with whatever time I have to do so. This year has been pretty busy so I've been remiss in posting. For that, I apologize. To begin with, 2016 saw us purchasing another property in Arizona where we usually spend our winter months, arriving around Thanksgiving or Christmas and getting back on the road in March or so. This gives us some time to get our annual physicals done, teeth cleaned, pet health checked etc. Anyway, I saw this property for sale a couple years ago and it came back on the market so I negotiated a deal that was accepted and we became the new owners. Because the previous owners had committed to renting it the first three months, we honored their commitment so we could not take possession until March. We decided to sell the property we owned as we didn't want two rentals. Obviously I was setting myself up for some really busy months, but I was ok with that. Unfortunately my knee, which has been steadily failing for the past couple years finally gave out. A visit to the doctor meant I was in for a total knee replacement. Those that have experienced this event know what's to come, but for those that have's a relatively easy surgery where they sever the bones above and below the knee, drill thru those bones and cement an artificial knee in it's place. Stitch it all back together and away you go. While the procedure is simple the recovery is a bear. Lots of pain, lots of meds and a tremendous commitment to the rehab process. The rehab process is usually 60-90 days. I went under the knife March 1st and was released from rehab on May 15th. I am pleased with the results. I was able to trash the brace I've had to wear for the past several years and I am mostly pain free. Every surgery is not without it's negatives however. Knee surgery is no different. With a "fake" knee, my running/jogging days are over. Also, I am not supposed to do any jumping although I did try it a couple times with no apparent problems. I have pictures but I'm electing not to post them on here on the advice of my darling wife. Anyone wanting to see them, contact me and I'm happy to share.

As you can see, 2016 started out with a bang. We adjusted our schedule to fit everything we had in front of us. Then our youngest daughter let us know we were going to grandparents again in June. Happy days for sure, as this is their first. This compressed everything we had to accomplish into a few short months. It also necessitated us finding a place to call home for a couple months to help with the new grandbaby.  Fortunately we had been in discussions with the California State Parks regarding a camp host position and when they called in March asking us if we were still interested, we gave them an enthusiastic yes! We offered to come June 1st, pending my doctor's release and stay thru the Labor Day weekend. We could not stay longer as we also have to renew our driver's licenses this year. South Dakota requires an overnight stay in their State in order to renew and we wanted to get in and out before any snow fell.

That's it for now. On the following pages, I'll post pictures and a narrative relative to our camp host experience, pictures of the grand-baby and our continued trip up to South Dakota and eastward. Stay tuned.....Dennis and Debi

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Quinault Rain Forest, Olympic National Park

About an hour north of Forks, Washington is the Quinault Rain Forest. After a short stop at the ranger station, you can take a very nice hike through the rain forest and see alpine lakes, streams and many old growth species of trees. Known as the "Valley of the Rain Forest Giants" because of the number of record size tree species found here, this area is in the second part of the Olympic National Park. This area receives an average of 12 feet of rain per year! Located on the western side of the Olympic Mountains this valley was carved out by a glacier. While the trail, at times, can be challenging, it is well worth the time and effort to make the hike. It's about 5 miles in length if you make the entire circle. Enjoy the pictures...I believe they speak for themselves and need very little input from me.

With 20+ pictures, I've posted them in a smaller format. For more detail, please double click on any picture for an expanded view. Enjoy !

The trail is, for the most part, pretty easy walking. There is some up and down and the path does disappear at times, but it's easily done.

We discovered many small waterfalls all along the trail.

Some unlucky parent is going to be in deep trouble once their child misses this parrot. We found it along the trail and I put it on one of the fallen trees. In spite of any argument from the little one, I'm sure the parents weren't about to retrace their path to retrieve it. It will be interesting to see how long it stays on this log. 

Anyone who takes this hike, drop me a note if you see it still there.

I hope you enjoyed looking at these pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them. If you are in this area, be sure to take the time to walk this trail. Even if you don't do the entire loop, there is an easy walk to a fabulous waterfall within 1/2 mile of the parking lot. You can also walk all the way to Lake Quinault although that trail is much more difficult.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Copalis Beach to La Push, Washington

We headed north toward Aberdeen with our destination set at Copalis Beach for the Fourth of July. There is a burn ban in all of Washington State and fireworks will only be allowed on the beaches. We have stayed at Sunrise Resorts in Copalis Beach before and loved it's location on the sand, so we decided it would be perfect for a week or two. From there we will head north to Forks and La Push. Enjoy the pictures.

Traveling north on US 101 we entered the quaint City of South Bend, which borders a small cove.

Stay on US 101 towards Aberdeen and Gray's Harbor. Chehalis is east of here on Washington Route 6. We've stayed at the Thousand Trails park there which was the first TT park and is an excellent destination. However, we wanted to stay on the coast so we continued north.

Considering it was the beginning of July we thought there would be more traffic on US101. It is a beautiful drive.

After passing through Aberdeen and Hoquiam, we turned off US 101 onto Ocean Beach Rd. This takes you through Copalis Crossing and on to Copalis Beach. Again, we encountered very little traffic. A little weird and eerie.

We finally ended up at the Sunrise Resorts facility in Copalis Beach. Lots of room although the grass had died due to the extreme drought that all of the western states have had this year. While the skies were cloudy, there was no rain forecasted.

After spending two weeks in Copalis Beach, (see the following posting for our trip to the rainforest) we headed north again toward the City of Forks and the Olympic Peninsula.

The Olympic National Park was created by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1938. It has four very different regions - the Pacific coastline, Mount Olympus and it's ski areas, the west side temperate rainforests and the forest areas on the drier east side.  It encompasses almost 1 million acres. We plan on visiting all four areas.

We arrived in Forks, Washington. A small city on US101 it thrived on the timber industry. Decline in foresting almost led to the city's demise. Fortunately for the city, the movie industry discovered it and filmed many episodes of Twilight there. Tourism has kept the city alive. While we kept an eye out for vampires, we never encountered any. 

Leaving Forks, we headed west on Wa. 110 toward the town of La Push. This area is known for it's salmon fishing and serene isolated beaches. Our destination was the Quileute RV Resort in La Push.

Several small islands surround the coves in La Push.

We finally arrived at our destination. There are cabins, a hotel and an RV resort all connected on the grounds. All have ocean views and a beautiful beach.  Just a heads up with this area though, it's an Indian reservation and as such fireworks are in demand here and are sold everywhere. They are allowed on the beach with restrictions and are sold very cheaply. Think sky rockets over the ocean...a lot...

The grounds were excellent and the sites were roomy. The beach was a short stroll behind the coach. We weren't able to secure one of the sites on the front beach row as the park was booked solid. Still, we were close enough to enjoy ourselves. Fires and fireworks were allowed on the beach with some restrictions.