Fishing French Meadows Reservoir

I haven’t been fishing in probably 25 years  but this year I decided to get my license and give it a try.  I  prefer camping by Sierra lakes and I’ve seen how good the fishing is up there.   So my first mountain excursion this summer was to French Meadows Reservoir over the fathers day weekend.  It’s a bit more remote than my usual camping spots and therefore not as crowded which pleases me immensely, but it is a long windy road down then up the American River Canyon.  Takes 2.25 hours from home in Colfax, including the gas stop.  Of course I had Ben and Biggs with me, while Kate was in Portland visiting her son and grandkids.

French meadows reservoir

When I arrived I was surprised the lake was down so much, this being early in the summer.  It had to be a good 30-40 feet down.  Apparently a record low for this time of year.  The campground was about half full, or less.  Gorgeous campsites, well maintained with flush toilets.   The camp host, Mike, was a terrific very likeable guy, who gave me some tips on where to fish and that they were averaging two fish per day from the shore and five per day from boats.

I had two spinning rods, one set for power bait rig and the other for casting lures.  I had a masterkaster lure and tried that first around 5pm just for practice.  Bam within 15 minutes I had a big German Brown Trout on the line.  What a surprise.  A real nice one measuring 16″ long.

german brown trout
Note Ben rolling on his back in the background laughing at me for being so excited about catching this fish.

French Meadow trout


I ended up catching 8 trout all together and let go 5 since they were too small.  The power bait worked good but the rig kept getting snagged in the rocks until I alleviated that problem a bit by reeling it in faster when done.   Biggs sat next to me nicely while Ben, being the water dog he is, got frustrated when I wouldn’t let him swim out to the bait.  But eventually he just decided to swim by himself going out to the center of the lake and exploring.


Ben swimming French meadows Biggs helping me fish Ben swimming

A beautiful Bald Eagle soared right above me while fishing and of course I had no camera.  It was so low I could see it perfectly.

French Meadows Campground

Road Trip to MacKerricher State Beach

In May I made a week long trip up the coast of northern California with my good friend Scott Oglesby.  We started at Bodega Bay and ended at MacKerricher State Beach just north of Fort Bragg.  Note these photos are in a gallery on picasaweb and if you click the linked album below you can see it as a slide show.

I also put up a video on you tube, quite ridiculous but funny, that you can see by clicking here  Continue reading “Road Trip to MacKerricher State Beach”

Lakes Basin Spring Hike

Kate, the dogs (Ben and Biggs) and I took a nice 1.75hr drive up to Sierra Buttes in Lakes Basin area. We wanted to check out the campsites for future RVing up that way. It was perfect timing as the snow had greatly receded. In fact, it was equivalent to late June in a typical year. So the lakes were full and the waterfalls and streams were running full blast. We hiked to Frazier Falls, which I had never seen before since I usually go to this area late summer or fall and they are dried up. They were magnificent. Something like a 300 foot drop and this was at the 6200 foot level. We like to camp right on or very near lakes, so we really didnt find any great campsites in that regard, so we will have to just continue doing day hikes in that area. (click to enlarge photos)

Sardine Lake
Sardine Lake, Lakes Basin Northern California


Frazier Creek
Me and Biggs on Frazier Creek before we found the falls
Frazier Falls
Frazier Falls in Lakes Basin off the Old Gold Lakes road



My Wounded Winnebago

My old 1986 Winnebago had a bit of a mishap back in November of last year. It was my last campout of the 2012 season. As I was leaving Colfax for the ocean, I stopped at the post office to get my mail, parking along the curb. What I didnt notice was a low hanging tree limb that bashed the right top corner of my baby just as I was pulling out.  It broke my heart and was a huge cause for concern because there was a big storm coming in the following day.  When i arrived at Wrights Beach (trip photos here) I immediately covered the gash with duct tape.

wounded Winnebago

Turns out the patch worked and other than some tiny drips from the window, which were easily kept under control with a bowl and a towel, I weathered the storm and drove home in the rain without any water damage.


When I got home I went to Home Depot and bought a huge blue tarp to cover it thru the winter.  Which worked out quite well.   But now that the weather has warmed up and I am planning a trip back to Wrights Beach May 1st, I decided to tackle the fix up project.


One of the key pieces to the repair was finding the curved trim/molding metal  piece that went around the corner and was totally messed up.  I sent out emails to various RV salvage yards around the country and was lucky to get a response from Arizona RV Salvage  in Phoenix.  They had a whole bunch of these pieces with a cost of only $75 …. plus $120 shipping, gulp.  Anyway.. I was thrilled to have found the part.

Since this is an old RV not worth a lot of bucks, I couldnt see spending a fortune to get it back to the original state but instead just really wanted to secure the shell so it was weatherproof and looked decent enough.  I talked to a Paramount RV in Reno and they suggested all I would need is to use ProFlex caulk on the two big tears in the fiberglass combined with putting on the new trim piece.  This was great news.  However… when I removed the duct tape I saw what kind of mess had been covered up all this time.  Totally shattered fiberglass in the corner.

Geoff Panek's RV damage

When I took out the shattered pieces of plastic I found I  had a big hole fill.  Foam insulation worked well for that.  Finally I made the decision to cut out the really bad area, replace it with a piece of aluminum, screw it in place, and caulk the torn areas.

Geoff Panek damaged RV repair


So after painting … good enough!  A little bit of frankenstein scars but what the heck.  Not that noticeable and now weather proof and ready to go.

Geoff Panek RV repair

Asilomar trip near Monterey

Kate and I happened across a fantastic deal for staying at the retreat center, Asilomar, near Monterey at Pacific Grove.  We stayed there three nites last week 2/21/13 and found it to be delightful.  There are something like 200 acres including beachfront with many buildings designed by the famous architect Julia Morgan.  We brought our bikes and road from our room to Cannery Row in Monterey.  Saw the famous Monarch butterflys, sea lions and a gorgeous coastline.  Fabulous trip all together.  Here are the photos.


Asilomar Arrival

We had just arrived at Asilomar on the Monterey coast on Thursday and were blown away by beauty and architecture of the complex. Buildings all designed by julia morgan. We hopped on our bikes right from our room and followed the boardwalk to the beach.


My poor RV

Last November I ventured to Wrights beach for 3 days, during a big storm BTW.  On the way there I pulled away from a curb, at our Colfax Post Office, only to be surprised by a crunching sound.  A low hanging limb of a tree bashed my top right corner.

Rv bashed

It bent the curved trim piece plus tore the plastic sides in two place.  I temporarliy fixed with duct tape, thank god, because a huge storm came in that night.  It held just fine.. amazing what duct tape can do.

Anyway, ever since then I have been reserching and planning how I am to fix this.  I found a trim piece in Arizona.  I found  a rv salvage place on the net, sent a photo and lo and behold the guy there had just the thing.  $75 for the part and $120 for shipping.. but what ya gonna do?   This is an ’86 Winnebago and I was lucky to find a new piece for it.


Next problem is fixing the tears.  I thought I was going to have to fiberglass from the inside, meaning tearing out all the insulation, paneling etc.  However, I found an RV repair shop in Reno that looked like it handled stuff like this.  Paramount Auto Body.  So I emailed them with a picture asking how much it might cost.  In probably 15 minuts I got a call from them explaining exactly what I could do to easily fix the tears.  ProFlex.  I didnt have to tear out the insulation as it would have been a mess since its glued to the siding.   Anyway, I was so impressed with these people helping me out like that instead of trying to discourage me or sell me something.

So.. when the weather warms up I plan to be out there fixing this thing and can only hope it will go smoothly.