Red Bluff, Orland, Coyote Lake, San Luis and Marin

Heading out in the late afternoon in February on a Friday for a week without a plan was exciting yet the weather was beginning to interfere. We left in the rain and drove until dark to Durango RV Resorts in Red Bluff. Luckily the site was a pull-thru, we could relax without much setup, and celebrate the beginning of an adventurous week. Waking up to no rain we checked out the Sacramento River which was crazy high and beginning to impact the premier river view sites. And as we were preparing to leave we received a video of the flooding south on Interstate 5 around Williams but thought it would be over by the time we got there. Leaving Red Bluff we continued to monitor the roads via Facebook and Instagram and it appeared it was getting worse with traffic backup so we decided to take the road to Black Butte Lake out of Orlando. Such a beautiful drive and perfect choice reinforcing the adventure with no plan.

Durango RV Resort walkway under the Sacramento Bridge.

Black Butte Lake was formed in 1963 and is west of Orland. Buckhorn campground has 65 campsites and is open year round.

We walked to the entrance station to register and enjoyed the wildlife along the way traversing all the empty sites throughout. Only six sites were taken by nightfall most likely by campers like us – seeking higher ground and relaxation. Sleep was distracted by heavy wind which we hadn’t had since Lake Mead years before, and made leaving/dumping in the morning an adventure. No rain constrained us and we headed south.
Our Sunday goal was Coyote Lake in the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation District. As we drove we kept discussing the upcoming storm and possibly changing plans but in the end stuck to this plan because after all we had the Airstream and could endure most anything.

Flooding in Williams is over but Maxwell was hit hard.

Our campsite was right on the water and a bit scary for me, but not hubby- he talked me into it.

The turnoff to the Coyote Lake is at a major shopping intersection and not conducive to gas, etc. but we managed. The drive to the park, due to the past weather, was uncomfortable with broken limbs and mud but manageable. After looking at both loops, with and without hookups, we secured the best lounge view of the lake #7.  Hard to figure out what’s open or not as the post signs appear out of date.  Walked to pay the fees twice due to no checks taken only cards and cash. I was surprised at all the campers still here both rv’s and tents. We settled into a pasta dinner and wine.
President’s Day and it’s wet, but not in the Cloud! So nice to have coffee, fresh baked cinnamon rolls, and look out through wet windows to see Coots enjoying the lake. Drove the 3 miles up to the dam- crazy one lane with numerous pockets to picnic and the boat launch. The Coyote Dam spillway is impressive and is above the Anderson Dam which opened its spillway for the first time since 2006. Also found a pocket of color along the way.

So happy we were at the top of this river. It’s main source is Henry Coe SP and then it flows into Anderson Lake which then flooded areas of San Jose.

Finally were able to scramble out of the campground around 3:00.

After paying for another night for our site, drove into Gilroy to the outlets and to grocery shop. We came back to find a note that our site was reserved. Long story short we got to stay for one more night in this prime site, and a realization that as conscience as we are there are holes in the system. Another wet and windy night in the Cloud. Awoke to a mass of turkeys prancing by, geese chatting and no rain. Just after 9 the ranger appeared to make sure we were moving and to inform us that the road was closed due to fallen trees, and that the county road also was having issues. We decided to hook up and move to site 8 and take a walk to look at the damage.
I figured we would stay after seeing all the work that appeared ahead for the tree crew.  We watched them take the tree down. Headed back to look at the other campground which was empty except for the pending camp host and a very vocal geese population. Three hours later it looked like people in cars were going out, but no big rigs were coming in. Let’s do lunch and think about it. Which lasted three hours until John connected with the ranger that the road was possible. We quickly got it together to leave, dumped our gray water and headed out. The road out of the park required warning horn honking and then the Roop Rd. required vigilance and a slide stop. Pacheco Pass was a breeze to San Luis and we settled in to site 16.  We toasted with Champagne our exit from the rain, only hearing a few drops in the night.

We were so happy to be here and the weather, although in the 50’s, warmed our hearts.

The ride on the California Aqueduct is one of my favorites. Over 400 miles long, and I ‘m sure this is in reference to a farm tool, or maybe not.

We awoke to a glorious cloudless sky and sun streaming in the windows! San Luis Creek Campground has water and electric hookups which we forgot about, and the campground was empty compared to last year at this time. We had a lake view site and watched the pelican, ducks, sparrows, ravens also celebrate the sun. We rode our bikes on the San Luis trail – round trip four miles, watched numerous people trying to catch fish, one did land a catfish about 8 pounds right in front of us.  Saw bush lupine, and a flowering tree- possibly almond. After lunch we wanted to check out Los Banos Creek campground.
Google maps was wrong and right- not a signed way to get there and the park aide was unfortunately unfamiliar with the route. In addition we never consulted the park website which would have saved us some challenges. We eventually made our way there to find it closed due to flooding, however we were able to chat with the park aide there to find out a bit more information and look at the area from a vista point. Not suitable for trailers, but sometime we want to return and do the Path of the Padres tour.

Los Banos Creek Reservior view and the flooded campground

Sunrise on Friday morning at the campground.

Thursday was another fabulous sun infused day, although the outside temps were brisk! Low was around 40, and a bit of wind. Couldn’t really use the heat pump – better heat with the propane heater.  We took off early on a bike ride to avoid the wind on the California Aqueduct. Road for about an hour as the cold weather and a little wind made it uncomfortable. Did hang out in the sun at our site for a bit. After lunch we drove up to the Romero Visitor’s Center to look at the reservoir levels, revisit the displays, and watch the hawks. We then drove to the Basalt Area, saw the elk along the freeway and scoped out the campground, went on to the Medeiros Area and watched some more hawks and checked the primitive camping.Back to camp, hung in the sun and watched a guy in his inflatable raft fishing for striped bass. All in a good day.
Leaving in the morning early our goal was to get to Marin County before noon. The highway was horribly bumpy- thought for sure the fridge and pantry would empty out all over the floor. We were lucky, the Cloud was clean, and we were able to set up in a flash on the street and head into San Francisco for a beer!

Nothing better than boondocking with family!

Best part of waking up is the coffee with the family!

Almanac Taproom – out on the patio celebrating being together,