Dale and I have just returned from a great trip to California. The main reason for our trip is that one of our on-line Rialta friends had organized a gathering for Rialta owners at his ranch in the hills of central California, east of San Francisco. Knowing that it would take two days to get to the location, we left on Wednesday, April 6 and drove I-5 to a rest area in Northern California. The next day we had a reservation at a campground called Del Valle that was very near to the town of Livermore, CA where we were all to meet up the next day.
Friday, April 8, at 10:00 am, nine Rialtas met at the Elk’s Lodge parking lot in Livermore and caravanned to the ranch. It was the first time we had ever seen any number of Rialtas in one place, so we were very impressed by the sight! Dave Smith was our leader as we traveled the twisty, turning Mines Road. (See the photos below to get an idea of the road) Finally at about noon we all pulled in Dave’s 400 acres of bliss, as he refers to it. And it was wonderful. There was an old ranch house with an airstrip out front that runs along a swimming pond. The Rialtas proceeded to line up, each taking its turn to back up to the lake. By the end of the evening we had 12 Rialtas gathered at the ranch.
The weather that first day was cool. Maybe I should even say COLD as there were periods of snow flurries, but by Saturday things warmed up and we all enjoyed the beautiful sunshine. The first night it was so cool that some of us migrated to the ranch house and built a fire. Pretty soon most everyone was up there drinking wine, eating snacks and swapping stories. It was great getting to know our fellow Rialta owners.
The next morning we gathered at about 10am in front of Duane’s Rialta and the guys started discussing a multitude of topics related to the mechanical operation of their rigs. The gals soon bored of all the technical talk and decided to do our own tour of the interiors of each Rialta. It was fun to see the different models and floor plans, and also to observe various ideas for storage and making the Rialtas more comfortable. We came home with several ideas we’ll want to implement.
In the afternoon we took a hike with ranch owner Dave to see the original homestead cabin on the property. I think we ended up walking a couple of miles through some beautiful hills. You’ll see some photos of the cabin below as well as some flowers we found along the trail and photos of the elk herd that roams the area. During the course of the day we got to know Denny and Sheri Robb and found out they live within a couple blocks of my cousin, Carol in Dorrington, CA. Since we were both going there after the gathering, we agreed to caravan together when we left on Sunday morning.
A potluck was planned for the evening and everyone brought lots of food and drink. After dinner we had a “class” on solar power as adapted for our RVs. Everyone felt that was most beneficial – thanks Mark! We were also treated to a performance by Joe Eding, who played the saw, violin and mandolin. It was amazing to hear what beautiful sounds can be produced from a regular old hand saw! As we left the ranch house to return to our Rialtas it was just amazing to note how totally dark it was outside and the magnificence of the stars above. We all went to bed with a warm feeling of satisfaction and gratitude.
I took some video of Joe playing the saw, but unfortunately didn’t get the whole song. However, you can get a good sampling of his work by clicking here.
Sunday started out as a lazy morning as we began the preparations to leave the ranch. Duane set up shop to sell the guys various parts at his reduced costs and also to give away some freebies. One by one the Rialtas would drive away and by about 11, we and the Robbs were also leaving this beautiful spot in the California hills for our trip to my cousin’s home in the mountains.
As we left, we drove another windy road east and made our way to Highway 4 into the Sierra Mountains. A couple short stops to dump our holding tanks and to buy fuel and 3 hours later, we were in Dorrington where we parked the Rialta in Don and Carol’s driveway for a two night stay. I still find it absolutely amazing that the Robbs live only a couple of streets away in this mountain community. Not many residents stay year round like Don and Carol and even the Robbs often spend a part of the winter in Thousand Oaks, CA. This year was a record year for snow in Dorrington with 27 feet total.
We had a wonderful day with Carol on Monday as we visited the Ironstone Winery and also the Moaning Cave. We took lots of photos of the beautiful daffodils and tulips in bloom at the winery and hiked a short trail at the caves, but choose not to go down into the cave. Maybe next time! They also had a zip line there so we watched a few people ride that, but again opted out. See my photo blog for photos taken at the winery.
We returned to Carol’s that evening to a house filled with wonderful dinner smells as she had set up the crock pot that morning with a yummy pot roast and vegetable combination. After a great dinner, I helped Carol set up an online account for her photos. I hope she’ll remember how to upload and order prints now that I’m gone. I’m only a phone call away, so Carol, if you’re reading this, be sure to call if you have any problems next time you upload your pictures.
On Tuesday we pulled out at about 10am to begin the trip home. We had planned to stop at Castle Crags State Park in northern California for the night, but it was still early when we got there, so we continued on to the Valley of the Rogue rest area in Oregon. The next day was just a 3 hour drive to Eugene where we spent the night with Kurt and Karla and then headed home to Olympia the next morning.
This was our first Rialta gathering and based on how it went, we know it won’t be our last. It was great meeting face to face with people we had only known by name from the on-line Yahoo Rialta groups. We left with fond memories of some beautiful country, pretty good weather, new friends, and a wealth of information gleaned from eleven other Rialta owners.