6/11/2018 to 6/13/2018
A Cool Mountain Getaway
Monday 6/11/2018 We left the Joshua Tree/Palm Springs KOA this morning and headed to Idyllwild, CA. Idyllwild is a small town nestled in the San Jacinto mountains. “Set among tall pines, sweet smelling cedars and legendary rocks. The town has kept its "small town" atmosphere. Locally owned shops and restaurants are all you will find there. It sets right beside the towering 8,846-foot-tall Tahquitz Peak.” It was only about an hour drive and started out on the freeway but about halfway there it became a two-lane winding mountain road. It felt like we were going up, up, and up. I really gave the truck and transmission a workout making the steep grade but we arrived fine.
The elevation of this campground is 7200 feet and we gained that height in just 21 miles. If you want to camp on top of the world, this is the place. Even the roads in the campground are very steep. The elevation in Palm Springs is 476 feet and that makes for a tremendous temperature difference. It was windy and sweltering in Palm Springs but is very pleasant here. We didn’t even need the air conditioning. Thousand Trails owns this campground and we joined Thousand Trails right before we left home. We had to pay a lump sum fee which is similar to owning a timeshare condo. You buy into the “co-op” yearly and you are entitled to stay in any of their campgrounds for free. They have lots of campgrounds on the western side of the country, that’s why we decided to buy into it. I’m hoping to be able to use it many times during our travels up the west coast.
After selecting a site, they don’t assign them here – you just drive around and chose a site you like that isn’t occupied – we drove into the quaint little town of Idyllwild. This town reminds me of a very tiny old ski chalet village. It has shops, restaurants, little grocery stores and the ranger station is located here. We had dinner at a very nice gourmet pizza shop. They advertise that they serve pizza with an attitude. After dinner, we came back to the campground and walked around to see what amenities they offered. Then it was just time to relax.
Tuesday 6/12/2018 It was a cool 65 degrees this morning and because of that, we decided to take a hike. We drove to the ranger’s station in Idyllwild and took the ranger’s suggestion of hiking the Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail (whoever he is). She described it as an easy 2.6-mile one-way hike with one way being mostly uphill but the return hike would be mostly downhill. We decided to take the uphill portion first. We had to drive through the village of Idyllwild and take a dirt road to the beginning of the trail. There really wasn’t any parking, just dirt turnouts on the side of the road. Three cars were already parked near the trailhead and there wasn’t any more room so I had to back down the road and snuggle the truck into an offset that barely fit the truck. We began the hike and we knew it was going to be all uphill but it was worse than we thought. The scenery was beautiful with large rocks, towering pine trees and mountain views. The day was beginning to heat up and we stopped several times for a rest wherever we could find shade. Once we made it to the top, we sat on a rock in the shade and had lunch. Then we began the return trip and the downhill portion was a piece of cake. Then it was back to the trailer for a much anticipated shower and relaxation.
Wednesday 6/13/2018 We were still a little worn out from yesterday’s six-mile hike so today was going to be a non-hiking day. We had driven up the mountain one way getting to the campground and today we were going to drive down the mountain the other way to a town called Hemet. I felt at times like I was on a go-cart track going fast with all the downhill twists and turns. The road was on the edge of the mountain with very steep drop-offs. Our refrigerator hasn’t been cooling like it should be. I was troubleshooting it online and decided I needed to purchase a part at the RV store in town. Luckily they had what I needed. After that, we stopped at a Dollar Store and Target to pick up a couple small items we needed. I passed a Valvoline quick oil change shop on the way to Target and since I was close to needing an oil change we stopped on the way back and got the oil changed. Since I usually change my own oil this was my first experience at a Quick Lube. They really were super quick and efficient, we didn't even have to get out of the truck. The truck is just about to turn 100,000 miles. When we returned to the trailer we took a walk around the park and that was about it for the day.