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Casa de Fruta RV Trip #53

What can I say about Casa de Fruta? We went there on a whim, because we see their signs every time we drive South on 101 to Monterey. It’s 10 miles off of 101 on highway 152, between 101 and I-5. The drive there through the farmlands is really nice, though the traffic can be bad at times. You pass many fruit stands and crop fields on your way to the mother-of-all fruit stands.

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Started by an Italian family over a hundred years ago, Casa de Fruta has grown into a destination of it’s own, with everything Casa de…there’s Casa de Fruta, Casa de Wine, Casa de Ice Cream, Casa de Cafe, Casa de Inn, Casa de…well, you get the idea. It’s very well-maintained and there is always a crowd. We enjoyed choosing fresh fruit and vegetables each day.

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Lucy enjoying a Casa de Dog Biscuit. Bacon flavored!

They also have a nice park with a carousel and train.

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Casa de Fruta is known for their peacocks

The RV park has over 300 spaces and families come back year after year. The space are mostly pull-through and the sites face each other, so if you arrive with friends or family, you have the space between your RV’s for your group. We stayed at the end of an aisle and had a large site with a fire pit. The mood was festive with families gathering over the holiday weekend and lots of kids playing together.

OK, here’s an interesting way to make a statement…

Most of the park was full, so apparently many people like to camp this way. However, it’s really just not our cup of tea. We found there to be way too much asphalt in the RV park (Lucy was mortified at the lack of grass. :-), thought the sites were too close together, and besides visiting the shops, there just wasn’t much else to do.

We tried driving to Monterey, but the traffic was so bad, we ended up having lunch in Gilroy and instead visited a mission on the way back to our campsite.

Mission San Juan Bautista is a few miles off of Highway 101 on 156 (which also runs into 152 and Casa de Fruta). It is a beautiful mission that is still a Catholic church, and it was very peaceful and relaxing to walk through the church and gardens.

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As an added bonus, the town square in front of the mission and the surrounding buildings are a State Historic Park.

There is a hotel, which originally housed the soldiers protecting the mission, a livery, and other buildings. An interesting fact we learned was that a survivor of the Donner party, the Breen family, settled here, buying an adobe on the square owned at the time by the Commandant General of Alta California and lived there until 1935.

We enjoyed the visit, which rescued the day’s outing and proved to be interesting and educational. Many times on our trips, it’s the serendipitous finds that make the day.

Anyway, we made it back to camp, and grilled salmon for dinner and enjoyed the great produce of Casa de Fruta. While we won’t be back again, hundreds of families make it a destination each year.

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If you’d like more info on Casa de Fruit, here’s a short video from See Grins that provides all the details.

Cheers!

Al & Deb

First Adventure in our Adventurer -RV Trip #52

Over the Easter weekend, the first weekend after picking up our new RV, we headed to the coast to stay at Half Moon Bay State Beach.

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We stayed in our favorite campsite overlooking the beach with Mavericks in the distance. From here, you can watch the waves and the occasional surfer.

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As luck would have it, it was coastal wildflower day at the park, with music, exhibits, and even native coastal plants for sale.

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Local organizations have done a great job eliminating invasive plants and re-introducing native plants in the dunes within the park.

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On the first day, the sun was out and I was able to bike ride about 12 miles, from one end of the park…

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…to the other.

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It was rainy the rest of the trip, but Lucy was a happy dog because we still managed to get in several walks each day.

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Even with the rain, we had a really good weekend. In fact, the rain made it easier to read through the numerous operating manuals that Winnebago provided, and to test out all the new systems and equipment.

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The additional space in the new RV made camping in the rain more enjoyable without feeling cramped. The Adventurer is a great RV, and we like the ride, the open floor plan, and the quality build. Overall, we are very happy.

Winnebago is not perfect, however, and we have been making a list of things that need to be fixed or looked at.  The folks at La Mesa RV and Winnebago have already contacted me, and have been extremely helpful with questions. In fact, I’m already scheduled to come back to fix the issues, and they worked with me so as not to interrupt any future RV trips. Sounds good to me!

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We are looking forward to our next RV trip, which will be a little different for us, as we head to Casa de Fruta next month.

Al & Debbie

Hello to our Adventurer!

Last Friday I drove to La Mesa RV and picked up our new 2017 Winnebago Adventurer 35P in the rain.

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No worries! La Mesa parked my Sunstar and Adventurer next to each other to make the move easy. Since it was raining, I extended the awning so I could stay dry while moving the contents.

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I posted a few photos today, and will post more later after our first camping trip!

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We are very happy so far with the Adventurer. Of course we found a few issues and we are keeping a running list for La Mesa when we return, However, no showstoppers yet!

Here’s a quick video of the interior:

Cheers,

Al and Debbie

Goodbye to the BWB (Big White Box :- )

Almost 5 years ago we purchased a 2013 Winnebago Sunstar 26HE, which we affectionately call our Big White Box (BWB).

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Highway 1 between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz, CA

Over the years we have enjoyed 51 RV trips, mainly short trips to the beaches and the mountains close to the San Francisco Bay Area. However, we have also travelled along the Oregon Coast all the up to Portland, and also all the way to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.

We’ve covered most of these trips in our blog, but we rarely talk about the BWB itself. So this post is all about the BWB. For an in depth look at her, I made this video that takes you an a tour inside and out of the motorhome.

Over the years, we’ve made a few upgrades that made dry-camping easier and more enjoyable. Here’s a list of our mods:

  • MCD solar shades to the interior – The RV came with MCD night shades, which provide privacy at night, The solar shades allow you to see out the windows even on a sunny and hot day, and obscure the view into the RV.
  • LP Connections inside and outside – The outside connection enables us to use the large onboard LP tank for grilling. The indoor connection enables us to connect a catalytic heater, which uses much less LP and electricity than the furnace on cold nights.
  • 3-stage converter/charger – This enables us to keep the RV plugged in while in storage, so the batteries were well maintained and the BWB ready to go on a trip at a moments notice.
  • Trik-L-Start Charger – This extended the benefits of the 3-stage charger to the chassis battery, too.
  • AGM batteries – I increased the size of the batteries to Group 31, and used AGM batteries because they are maintenance free and charge faster,
  • TPMS – To ensure a safe drive, we added a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), which provides a warning ahead of time of unsafe (too hot, rapid pressure loss, etc.) tire conditions.
  • Dually Valve Stems – Since the TPMS sensors are mounted to the tire valve stems, I upgraded them from rubber to metal for durability and safety.
  • Scan Gauge – Provides much more information on gas mileage and engine conditions than the factory trip computer.
  • Apple TV – I connected an HDMI cable from the built-in TV so I could connect an Apple TV. Since the Apple TV can connect peer to peer, we can watch photos and videos we’ve taken during the day on the large screen. It’s also good for watching movies on a rainy day.
  • Kitchen faucet – Replaced the original kitchen faucet with a metal faucet that pulls out for ease of use.
  • Tap lights – These illuminate the inside of cabinets and closets and storage compartments.

While the BWB worked well for us, there were things that Winnebago could improve on.

  • First, the ride of the Sunstar on anything but smooth roads could be noisy and bumpy. While improvements they have made to the suspension made traveling in windy conditions good, a smoother ride would greatly improve comfort for longer drives.
  • The Lippert hydraulic leveling jacks always worked for us, but they could be a bit finicky at times. Several times when leaving a site, the jacks down light and alarm would suddenly come on and I would have to stop and “retract” them again, even though they were already retracted. Spraying them with silicone stray before retracting them helped some, and I read that Lippert has recommended an additive when you have this condition.
  • The standard electrical system that came with the coach was, let’s just say, basic. The items I mentioned adding in the list above helped a great deal, but it should have come from the factory with at least a 3-stage charger/converter.
  • The front cap is not insulated, which made the A/C work extra hard on hot days, with a noticeable temperature different between the front and back of the RV.

However, for it’s few faults, we really enjoyed the BWB. When you have a motorhome, the drive is part of the fun. We loved sitting high above the traffic, with a great view of the road and sometimes breathtaking view of the scenery. We loved having a motorhome fully equipped and ready to go at a moments notice. We loved the overall quality of build that Winnebago provided, even for it’s entry-level class A motorhome. We loved taking our home with us on 51 memory making camping trips. We will miss the BWB.

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On the other hand, we are also really looking forward to our new 2017 Winnebago Adventurer 35P. The Adventurer line is the best gas-powered Class A motorhome that Winnebago makes, as we are looking forward to some of the new amenities and additional room. I also like the name as we look forward to many more RV trips in our future.

Adventure is out there!

Al & Debbie

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