Monday, September 24, 2012

Crane Flat and Tuolumne Grove

I think both Craig and I were a bit nervous about the unknown 46 miles between the Fairgrounds and our campground.  I had read posts on several forums about the roads and felt our choice of taking CA 140 was the best option.  As it turned out it was.  The road surface was smooth and the shoulders were reasonably wide. There is a spot where we had to unhitch the Accent to cross two one-way, narrow bridges, but Craig did fine driving the Alfa.  After he crossed, I led the way in the car for the remaining miles. 

image from web
One place that was a scary for Craig was a series of tunnels.  The first two had signs that read clearance 13' 10" at curb.  Fine, the Alfa is 13' 1" at the top of the sat dome.  But the last tunnel had a sign that read 10' 3" at curb.  I guess I didn't notice it because I went thru.  Craig saw it, but knew this was the tour bus route and just stayed in the middle of the tunnel.  All was O.K., but I think I would have stopped rather than risk getting "topped."

Crane Flat campground has a mix of RV sites and tent sites.  I think our spot was one of the better RV sites, but it was none too level!

This was our first "dry camping" experience. For my non-RV friends, this means no water, no power, and no sewer hookups. We carry 100 gallons  of fresh water with holding tanks of equal capacity.  We don't have solar panels, but they wouldn't have done us much good in this shaded campground anyway.  Instead we ran our onboard generator a few hours each day to keep the coach batteries charged.  This allowed us to use the lights, microwave, and any plug-in appliances. Our refrigerator,  hot water heater, and furnace run on propane or electricity.  Our stove and oven are always run with propane.  Some experienced campers claim they can go for several weeks without hookups, but I think our limit would be about one. 

The campground was much cooler than the valley fairground so we did not need to use the air conditioner. The morning temperatures were in the 50s and Craig turned on the heat for a short time.  

The biggest hardship was the lack of Verizon coverage, hence no internet.  We did get a cell call when we were in the valley, but up at the camp there were no bars.  

We were settled in our spot by 1:30 and decided to take the 3 mile round trip walk in a nearby Redwood grove. We both forgot our cameras. But we have plenty of big tree photos already. Although there were several bus loads of people also walking the trail, it did not feel crowded.  It was interesting to catch bits of conservations in languages other than English, particularly German.

That evening we joined a group of about 25 other campers for a ranger-led "Starry Sky" program. We both know our stars, but this was an opportunity to go up to a fire watch station that is not open to the public without a guide and get a good view of the dark skies without trees getting in the way.

picture from web
The Milky Way was quite visible. The ranger told several good stories about the constellations, and managed to relate them to the park. The early evening was fairly warm,  and we were all quite comfortable. 

Because it is very dry there were no mosquitos. How good is that?


  1. Good job boon docking. There are many tunnels here on the Blue Ridge and they scare me. I'd much rather go through them in the toad and leave the MH at home.

  2. That's good country you are in, kids. Get in your week of boondocking, then see if you can extend the time. We have managed to dry camp for a week, and we don't have solar either. Also, our tanks are smaller. Just gotta keep the showers to a minimum and use lots of deodorant!

  3. tunnels and bridges scare me when on unfamiliar routes. What if they've added an extra few layers of asphalt - gulp!

    Having a generator sounds like the answer to worry free dry camping.

  4. The star-gazing sounds wonderful.

  5. I dry camp most of the time, but need to be out in the open, like in the desert. There's something satisfying about being off the grid. But I have to admit, I am enjoying the $4/night elec hookups in the New Mexico campgrounds (with annual pass). I find I do more things during the day when my TV isn't on, but I sure do enjoy it when I get good signals all day!

  6. I have not tried dry camping yet, but its because my refrigerator only runs on electricity. I am looking into getting a 12V refrigerator. Tunnels can be nerve wracking, I never feel like they are tall enough at the edge and try to stay close to the center.

  7. Your good trip planning sure pays off. Good job Craig did with that last tunnel. We never have tried any dry camping yet.

  8. Great job boon docking. We so want to do that and this spring I think we will finally get our solar installed and get that chance. I could never talk John into the generator so I had to wait until we could afford the solar. I love the night sky so what a great experience to see it from there.


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