Wow. Wow. Wow. Taxes, high prices, and crazy traffic aside, California’s diverse landscapes are breathtaking. From desert and palm trees in the south to high elevations, towering trees, and snow in the north. Or cliff-lined shores in the west to plunging waterfalls in the east. California does not disappoint.

Temecula and Menifee

We spent several weeks on and off in the Palm Springs area, mostly for the mild temperatures and sunny weather. We finally ventured further into California, first dry camping for a couple of nights at a Harvest Hosts location, Akash Winery, in the Temecula wine country. Wineries and vineyards are next door neighbors to one another, which was fascinating to see. Akash Winery had a beautiful setting and delicious wine, with wine tastings at $18.00 a person (and it did NOT include a free wine glass) and bottles of wine starting around $34.00 each.

We then moved to Wilderness Lakes RV Resort in Menifee. Nice, lively campground with lots of geese. We met some wonderful people here — Manny and Mina, then Mike and Mary. We had several “happy hours” with these folks, getting to know them and sharing travel plans.

While at Wilderness Lakes, we drove to Riverside to ride a bike trail along the historic Victoria Avenue. Beautiful plants, several orange trees – we even went back a few days later for Carl to pick a couple of bags of oranges from neglected orange trees.

We also went to Lake Perris to ride around the lake. Acquiring e-bikes has been a game changer, making bike excursions much more enjoyable. They can be as expensive as $5,000, but we found some through Amazon by MacWheel that fit our budget nicely.

We were fortunate enough to meet an old friend, Eddie Conner, in Rancho Cucamonga for lunch one day. He drove from Burbank to meet us – about an hour each way for him and for us! It was wonderful to connect with him IN PERSON after not seeing him for many years.

Visalia, Sequoia and Kings Canyon

In mid-April, we started heading north, stopping and staying at the Visalia Elks Lodge. Carl became an Elk in 2019. Many Elks Lodges across the United States have RV parking for members, charging a small fee – usually $10-$20 per night. Some—including Visalia—provide water and electricity hook-ups. This was a perfect location from which to explore Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. An added benefit was that we drove through miles and miles and miles of orange groves, almond trees, grape vines, olive trees, bee hives, and more! To get to Visalia, we passed by dairy farms, solar farms, wind farms, and oil production—this area of California seemed to have a little bit of everything in terms of utilities, ranches, and farms to keep people fed and to fuel the utility industry.

We passed by much of this to get to Sequoia and Kings Canyon as well. Visiting the national parks in California in April might be a tad too early but was still worth it. The parks weren’t fully open. There were roads that were closed because snow was still being plowed, debris was being cleared away, and sections were under repair. However, we saw the trees and bushes greening up, flowers beginning to bloom, and rivers and creeks flowing.

I decided to break this blog into two parts because it was getting long! Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers Yosemite and parts further north!