Len, this shower would not have been such a bust, except for the smoke. Even with hazy skies, we still were able to see about 20 decent meteors per hour. So the predictions were reasonably on target. But I could not find anywhere in the Western US without either smoke or monsoonal clouds.
We spent several pleasant days of boondocking and hiking in the Eastern Sierra, hoping to see the Perseid meteor shower. As it turned out, the meteors were a bit of a bust, due to smoke from forest fires in the Western Sierra. But DW managed to capture a great recording of some howling coyotes – the video clip is in this blog post:
We were hoping to take some pictures of the meteors, but my camera died suddenly and spectacularly the day before the meteor shower. So this is the only picture that I took that captured a meteor, and it was by accident – the meteor is the little yellow streak at the left of center, just above the horizon:
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PNL_jCu3Sio/VdN_g-9CTRI/AAAAAAAAQvQ/SJ_VBKqV4R8/s640/meteor%2Bmilky%2Bway%2Blmic.jpg height=400 width=600
I have now replaced my camera, so I am hoping that there will be another year, and another meteor shower.
Here is another useful short trailer trick -- when it starts to jackknife, just pull forward a little and it will straighten out. Then, before you start back again, put your hand on the bottom of the wheel and crank the wheel all the way over in the direction you want the trailer to go. As soon as the trailer starts to respond, straighten the wheels.
A spotter is invaluable, especially if she is patient with you.
A sense of humor is essential, as is a flexible neck.
DAS, we have found that on a really, really dark night, there is so much starlight that you can indeed see your feet, and you can see well enough to walk on a rocky forest road for quite a way without tripping.
Supposedly, there can be so much starlight that you can see your shadow, but I have never seen it that clear or dark.
One more thought -- watch out for the text offenders. Every day, we see folks on the freeways in LA looking at their phones while driving. Always assume that the other folks around you are fools, which is apparently pretty close to correct. Sigh.
Just another viewpoint -- we have towed our little trailers for more than a hundred thousand miles in ice, high wind, heavy rain, steep mountains, all with just a friction anti-sway bar, first with a Pathfinder and then with a Tacoma. Absolutely no stability problems. We rarely go over 62 mph, and usually hold it around 60.
Obviously, as the trailer gets bigger, the need for weight distribution becomes more and more important.
I am not sure whether there is a lower limit for WD hitches -- could you use one with a teardrop? Or with a 12 footer, like my trailer?
You can "rugged-ize" an ordinary trailer with shocks and extra clearance and bigger tires and so forth -- we did it for our little trailer -- see my blog links below. I am sure that there are better-built rugged trailers, but they will cost a lot more.
Jim, I laughed out loud. Well done! There is apparently a true story of a little boy at Sunday school. They were discussing Easter, and the teacher said, "Do you know what resurrection means?" The boy said, "Not exactly, but I know that if it lasts more than four hours, you need to see a doctor."
And this is exactly on topic, because six cups of espresso could cause a resurrection of a deceased person!
First time towing, the trailer started to sway. I eased off the accelerator, drove slowly home, and got a sway control. My ignorance almost caused an accident. That was ten years ago.
Since then, despite ten years of towing many thousands of miles a year on all kinds of roads (LA freeways, rural highways, mountain roads, dirt forest roads), no problems at all. Is towing more dangerous than not towing? Yes, I think so, because you are less maneuverable than an ordinary vehicle. But it is really worth the slight increase in risk.
I have not yet (yet!) had an accident or a ticket in 47 years of driving. (Knock on wood.) Why? Mostly good luck -- bad stuff can happen in a heartbeat, whether you are towing or not. Stay off the phone. Concentrate at all times. Be ultra-conservative. Only the paranoid survive.
Your terrible experience with the ambulance could happen to anyone at any time, towing or not. I would not let that prevent you from enjoying camping with your family. Unless you are already an experienced camper, you have no idea how much fun this is going to be. In retrospect, I wish we had not waited until the kids were grown to begin RVing, but I did not know what I was missing.
The best advice that I can give you is to ask a lot of questions on this website, especially during your early newbie stage. In the pre-Internet days, it would have been impossible to take advantage of so much collective wisdom. Yes, there is some misinformation here, and yes, there are a few unpleasant and opinionated participants. But the vast majority of us are well-intentioned, and you can learn from our mistakes.
Sorry for the long rambling reply. Bottom line -- just do it. (Carefully.) ;)
OZeRV, what did you think of Baja Seasons? Looking at the video, I am guessing that you spent your first night there. The video had tantalizing glimpses of the surf at that RV park -- it looked good! Did you go into the water?
Thanks in advance for your answers.
Well, professional bike riders wax, so it must be helpful. ;)
Seriously, though, I am sure that waxing would fractionally increase mpg -- why not? But the increase would be so tiny that the cost of the wax would far outweigh the fuel savings.
Naio, they used to have a pay box, but it now may be ranger-administered. Talk to the rangers at the headquarters in Ft. Bragg -- they are very helpful!
And just to whet your appetite, here is a shot of one of our campsites in Jackson:
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Eazuregv5P0/Tjx7wyb8TGI/AAAAAAAAC8Y/ZxJIen-0aY8/s1600/IMGP7051.JPG height=400 width=600
Note that it is very shady -- solar panels are not going to work well. And it takes about a half hour to get to the campsites from Ft. Bragg. But in my mind, the "commute" is worthwhile.
This is where Naio's "small is beautiful" strategy really pays big dividends -- that van is not much bigger than an ordinary SUV . Naio, I forgot to mention some great boondocking near Ft. Bragg in the Jackson State Demonstration Forest. It is not free, but it is true boondocking -- silence and isolation amid big redwood trees. There is the whole Mendocino area -- Van Damme, Russian Gulch, Mendocino Highlands. Farther north you have the Lost Coast and Mattole Beach. Heaven on Earth.
Yes, it is risky. But if you are getting a great price, and you are handy with tools, it may be a risk worth taking. (Is there any warranty??) We bought a used trailer from a private party for a good price and enjoyed it for several years. We later bought a new one with an extended warranty.
Naio, with your little rig (a van conversion), you can go anywhere!! Both north and south are great. Depends a lot on the time of year. Oddly, the views are better in the winter -- not so much low cloud and fog. In either case, north to south is better than south to north, so that you are that much closer to the ocean (not to mention the cliffside). In December, you can often see whales spouting far out to sea, sometimes lots of them.
Take lots of time to do this trip. There is so much to do and see. Great hiking, great photography, great seafood (especially in Monterey). Redwoods right by the ocean (in Big Sur). Fun, fun, fun!