You’ve heard of our annual Advanced RV Fest, and this year a group of Advanced RV owners organized ARV Fest West, for those who live on the other side of the country. One of our staff, Frank Kolasinski, and his wife Sandy joined in the festivities at Old Stone Village in Oregon with six other ARVs. This weekend event brings some of the elements we love about our Willoughby celebration to ARV owners further west. According to Frank, “Being at the Fest was a great time. Our clients are wonderful, and it was empowering to see the love that the owners have for the vehicles we create for them.”
Here, follow Frank’s journal from his weekend at the Fest, and his weeklong West Coast adventures in Stewie, ARV’s rental unit in California.
Thursday: We left home at 3:10 a.m. for a 5:45 flight from Cleveland. Our connecting flight leaving Houston was delayed an hour due to an IT issue. We finally arrived at John Wayne Airport shortly after 11 a.m. Pacific Time (for a total of 8 hours of travel time thus far).
We were met at the door by Jen, ARV’s west coast partner, and Stewie, our home on wheels for the next nine days. The coach was sparkling clean and fully stocked. Jen went out of her way to make certain we had everything we need and even a few extras (like camp chairs and an outside mat so we could enjoy the outside as well as the inside of Stewie).
We would have loved to spend more time with Jen, but Oregon was calling, and we had precious little time to get there. We said goodbye to Jen around noon and started our journey north up Route 5.
The drive through LA was much better than anticipated. The scenery north of the LA area was interesting—everything from nut tree farms and cattle ranches to majestic mountains. The highest elevation we reached was over 4000 ft. We continued driving north until 8 p.m., stopping only to gas up and eat lunch at In-N-Out, per Jen’s suggestion. After a quick dinner and shopping trip we bedded down at a rest stop north of Sacramento. Day one complete!
Friday: Apparently our Ohio internal clocks did not reset to Pacific Time because by 4:30 a.m., we were awake and anxious to get on the road. It was great to be able to brew coffee right at the rest stop! Sunrise over the mountains was a huge bonus for getting up so early … beautiful! So far Stewie has handled very well, with no problem getting up and down those mountains! With only a quick stop for lunch and supplies, we got to McMinnville just after 5:30 p.m. Old Stone Village was great, and the people were very helpful. Once we all convened, pizza was ordered and the West Coast informal ARV fest weekend began!
Saturday: We all met at the campground’s meeting room for an informal question and answer session. After several topics were discussed, we lined up alongside our coaches for a photo.
We then had time to do as we wished before meeting for dinner. Several of us walked to the nearby Evergreen Aviation Museum. What a great facility just outside the campground! After seeing several full-size planes and other displays, we watched a 3D movie about deep-water exploration. Then it was off to dinner at McMenamins Hotel Oregon Pub. After dinner, we enjoyed the start of fall colors from the rooftop bar. The scenery here is incredible. Pictures do not do it justice.
Sunday: We said goodbye to our ARV friends early and headed west to the coast. We drove up Route 101 to Astoria, stopping for a short time to walk on the beach at Seaside. The beach was beautiful, but the water was cold for my tastes. Once in Astoria, we walked along the “river walk” along the Trolley tracks, visited the sea lions on pier 39, and walked up the 164 steps in Astoria Column to enjoy the breathtaking view from the observation deck. We had dinner at Buoy Beer Company before heading east toward Portland. The weather so far has been awesome! Sunny and in the 70s – 80s. Since we couldn’t find a rest stop, we pulled into a Walmart to sleep.
Monday: We woke early again. As we started getting ready, we noticed a sign warning “No overnight parking” … oops. Thankfully, we weren’t towed! Next we headed to Cascade Locks. After going over the Bridge of the Gods, we went to the Bonniville Dam Visitor Center. There we got our dose of education about generators and fish ladders. Onto the waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge. We hiked a little at three of the waterfalls: Multnonah, Bridal Veil, and Latourell. We saw Horsetail and Wahchella Falls as we drove by. I chose a campground near Mt. Hood, our next destination, from the Internet. The drive to Lost Lake campground was beyond challenging—full of switchbacks as we climbed for what seemed like an eternity.
But it was worth it. The campground was situated in the middle of the National Forest and was amazing. This was probably the most remote and rural site at which we have ever camped. The lake was beautiful. There were few amenities, but the awesome sites made up for it. We finally got to use the comfy camp chairs that Jen supplied us with as we sat by the fire. The stars were spectacular, and except for an occasional jet flying over, the silence was almost deafening.
Tuesday: Headed out of Lost Lake to fuel up, as gas stations aren’t as prevalent here as at home. After a quick stop, we headed to Timberlake Lodge on Mt. Hood hoping to grab lunch. The Lodge was huge with a ton of history displayed in pictures and tours. Parts of the movie “The Shining” were filmed here. Unfortunately the restaurant was closed, so we grilled some sandwiches and ate while we enjoyed the beautiful scenery. (The amenities in this coach are awesome—it’s no big deal to cook lunch in a parking lot!). There still had been one trail open for snowboarding until a week ago. They open again for skiing as early as late October if the snow is right. And they do have overnight parking at the lodge. From here, we headed south to Crater Lake. We had reservations at the Lodge for dinner with the owners of Jake. After an awesome dinner, we headed to the campground. Thankfully I reserved a site because by the time we got there they were full. Mazuma Campground was nice, but not as awesome as Lost Lake.
Wednesday: We stopped for a quick visit with the owners of Myst Too at the campground before heading up to the East Rim to snap some photos and marvel at the beautiful scenery around Crater Lake. We stopped at several viewpoints before turning south to start our journey home. Due to our time limitations, we changed plans and headed toward Redwood National Park instead of Yosemite, as we originally planned. We drove through the clouds down 101 to Elk Prairie campground. Apparently we were lucky again to get a site—usually this park is totally full during peak season. Our site was nice, but amenities were limited. The Redwoods surrounding us were incredible. We took a short hike on a trail in the campground before “chilling” by the campfire.
Thursday: Mostly a travel day. Stopped for breakfast at Bear River Casino, then spent a few minutes playing the slot machines before getting back on the road. We picked a random KOA campground south of Sacramento primarily because it had laundry facilities. We sat in traffic for over an hour resulting in getting to the site later than anticipated. Their Wifi was impossible to connect to, but we had clean clothes! Had dinner at the only restaurant near the campground, then went back to the coach to watch a little TV before turning in.
Friday: Last day on the road, heading for a hotel near the airport with long term parking so Jen can pick up Stewie after we leave. We had the misfortune to again sit in traffic adding over an hour and a half to our trip. We aren’t sure how people deal with the traffic in this area. The Hilton we stayed at was beautiful. Too bad we didn’t get to see it in the daylight!
This RV has served us very well. The ability to cook, shower, and sleep in a safe environment (away from the bears) in the most remote of areas was outstanding! I wish we had more time out here so the drive times were more segmented and we could have stayed in each area for longer periods of time. That being said, we saw a lot in a little time. This is one trip we will never forget!
If you want to experience a road trip in Stewie or one of our rental units in Cleveland, visit RV Rental by Advanced.