Category Archives: The Beast

our 2015 Winnebago View 24J

RVing: short weekend jaunt.

We’re off for the weekend, leaving tomorrow morning. First we’ll take “little Beast” off for an overnight at Skyline Wilderness Park in south Napa with friends who own a Liesure Industries Unity. Then we both will drive south to visit more friends who are considering purchasing a sprinter based class B RV. We’ll probably visit with our grand nephew, Gavin on Sunday before heading home.

We’ve stayed at Skyline Wilderness Park and hiked some in the hills. The park is large and compfortable for us, though the hook-up sites are spaced tightly together. No hookups for us for one day.

On Saturday the group will head to Regale Winery and Vineyards, Los Gatos for the quarterly wine delivery. Regale has a bocci court that’s really fun and a fine foods vendor on the weekends. The last tiem we visited we had small hand crafted pizzas and beer. Regale’s wines are good to excellent and not overpriced.

I’m setting up Little Beast now and correcting a few things, notably I had not sterilized the hot water tank when de-winterizing. The hot water smelled, not nasty but it was not good. I’m running Spring Fresh through the hot water tank now, which I should have done in the first place. I’ve also cleaned up the grill and re-organized the “basement”.

The 24J has a tone of space and we have been filling it with “stuff”. Even still, we are well below the load limits for the View (I had The Beast weighed on our last trip to San Diego).

With no electricity at SWP, we will be running the generator for morning coffee or evening popcorn. We’re still looking for a suitable light weight table to go with our chairs and considering how to make our outside space “ours”. So much of what you see done with kitchy lights just is not appealing. We may go with a all weather “rug” hoping to minimize debris in the coach.

We are ecstatic about our RV. It’s the rigth size. If anything it makes camping too civilized. It is so very different than backpacking was. Now That’s camping, but something I’ve outgrown!?!

San Francisco to San Diego on State Route 1

As we both have time and “Li’l Beast” we decided to take a leisurely trip to San Diego via route 17 and the Scenic Coast Highway. route 1. Both route 17 and 1 are windy and hilly if not mountainous for some of the distance. I wanted to see how Li’l Beast performed going up and down steep hills and how I handled the curves of rt 1. We both wanted an excuse to travel along the coast. It is serenely beautiful.

First we stopped in Palo Alto to visit friends, show off our “new” RV, and have an early dinner with Melissa, which was fun. Parking was not an issue though the restaurant would not let us park in their lot. We found a nearby bank that was closed and had ample parking. We headed out later than expected after dinner with only a few hours before sunset. AllStays (an I Phone app) to the rescue. Ellen settled on the Marina Dunes campground with AllStays, called ahead and made a reservation for us.

Like most campgrounds, this one had moderate sized RV campsites with water and electric hookups and a picnic table. Perfect. We hooked up and settled in just after sunset. Even better, the next morning we found that the seashore was a short walk through the nearby dunes. We had a fun morning.
We met a couple returning from a month in Mexico who also had a Winnebago View 24J. They had no problem with diesel in Mexico (I had read there were issues and now read it should be no problem). They found that their View was a bit small for an extended trip. Ours fells fine for us.

On our second day we drove through Big Sur. Li’l Beast performed admirably. No issues with the hills, if anything I found the twisties a bit intimidating at first. I’m comfortable in a sports car and this large and heavy (nearly 6 tons!) beast is certainly not that. There is more body roll with the View than I’m comfortable with; I’ll probably add Sumo springs to the suspension to dampen out the sway.
We prefer to stay at national or state parks for a number of reasons: the campsites are usually well separated, the park is usually sited in an appealing location, RV size is limited to 24 feet. Some parks are undeveloped and have no hookups which is inconvenient for long stays.

Kirk Creek Campground was our second planned stop. California State parks have a reservation system that is open to reservations two days out and beyond. We had not made reservations prior and were within the two day cut off and could not make reservations in the system. We tried calling the campground and go no answer. Kirk Creek was full as was Limekiln State Park, our second choice. Plasket Creek Campground had a number of open sites for a one or two day stopover and we took a site that was level and shaded by a big oak tree.

Plasket Creek Campground has access to the cliff area overlooking the Pacific Ocean with a 100 step stairway down to the beach. We stood on the beach and watched the sun set. On our way back we met a couple touring California in a rented RV. They were from Holland and were having a blast, though they were happy to be back with greenery after being in the desert for a week. The next morning we met a United Airlines pilot and his family. They had just purchased a View 24J. The father and one son drove the RV back from Ohio. This was their first trip as a family.

The next day we encountered hundreds (thousands?) of elephant seals molting on the shore. We stopped at a designated overlook and walked out to the fenced off area to get a better look. There a docent explained that these were 80% female with some adolescent males.. That they come ashore to molt, sloughing off a light brown stiff “fur” at this time of the year. We saw many brown seals, some strikingly light bright silver ones. Most had molted and were dark gray. It was a startling sight. The seals were crammed together on the beach, often crashing over each other to get around. The stench of animal pee hung in the air, reminiscent of old time Zoos.

On our third night we stayed at a state beach near Carpenteria. This was wall to wall RVs and many families. It was tight getting backed into our slot. With all the bustling activity, the park was noisy and uninviting. This was the night of the Pacquiao Mayweather fight. Every large RV had their external HDTV out and tuned to the fight. On the bright side, it was a short walk to the beach.

Setting up to drain the gray tank the next morning, I could not get the hoses to couple tightly and had some leakage. I also had a devil of a time getting the cap off the RV drain pipe, resorting to a screw driver to pry the cap off (or at lease loosen it enough to screw it off). I have to work on this; it’s embarrassing having leaking sewer hoses.

The next day we drove almost to Pismo Beach and stayed at the North Pismo Beach Campground. As campgrounds go, this one was expensive but well laid out. There were over 100 sites but setup to allow a good distance between them. Again the campground is located a very short walk to the beach. We had stopped at two campgrounds north of NPBC, but each one was full.

The next day we could have driven to San Diego, but chose to stay at South Carlsbad State Beach. This campground has a large number of sites along a bluff overlooking the ocean. The sites are wide and some have short trees dividing the sites. Some sites are developed though we stayed in an undeveloped site with no immediate neighbors.

All the state beaches were great for camping, though I would not recommend the one near Carpenteria if you want solitude. All campgrounds had showers with hot and cold water. As newbie’s we had not realized how important reservations can be to an orderly trip. On the down side, making reservations for a long trip (one or two months) is a planning nightmare. A two day delay in the trip could lead to scrambling to get back on track or at the worst derailing an entire plan. I think we’ll next try making reservations a few days ahead of where we think we’ll be and hopscotch along that way rather than planning out an entire trip. That way if we want to stay longer where there is lots to see or do, we can.

Little Beast


We are retiring this year. I’m already “done”. Ellen will be soon. We had planned to buy an RV to tour the country a few months each year. A few months of research let me to the Winnebago or Itasca View 24J as the best for us. The interior of the 2015 View has a much more modern look than the 2014 and prior. It has a canvas wrap on the cabinets which gives the interior a light and airy appearance. Also the “kitchen” window is 50% larger. For these reasons alone, the 2015 was our choice.

I started looking at 2014 and 2015 pricing across the country and found that the best pricing on the 2014s came around September. There were a number of 2015s in inventory, we’re headed into winter, and dealers wanted to move the 2014s. So I figured I’d wait until September this year and grab a 2015 at a discount.

I kept checking pricing practically every day to see if there was new inventory or if prices were dropping. Then one day I saw a used 2015 with very low miles. I contacted the dealer and yes, the 24J was available. Would Ellen let me buy an RV now and not wait until September and would our financial planner OK the purchase seven months early? Both said OK and I made a deposit on the RV!

This was in the height of the heavy winter storms that slammed the mid west to the east coast. I booked flights to Connecticut and a week later, off we went to Crowley RV, Bristol CT.

There was a small window of fair weather between the storms that coincided with our trip east. Crowley picked us up at the airport and took us to their dealership and our “new” RV. The walkthrough with Mark was very complete and took two hours, but at the end we signed papers, a check changed hands, and we drove off in “The Beast”, a Winnebago View 24J builtl on a Mercedes Sprinter V6 turbo diesel chassis.

The temperature that first night fell to 3 degrees and even with the heater on, we froze. An electric mattress pad from bed bath and beyond solved that problem. We found that the only place we could stop for supplies in many of the towns was Wal-Mart. They apparently drive small business out of business. Want a local grocery?? Wal-Mart. Cleaning supplies? Wallmart. Camping Gear? Wal-Mart. We are not big supporters of Wal-Mart, but they did come in handy and prices are admittedly very low.

We watched the weather reports every evening and planned our next leg of the trip accordingly. Initially I thought we’d skirt the southern tip of the Appalachians then turn back toward 40 to head west. The snow and ice storms forced us further south toward 20. Then it became apparent that would not be far enough south and we took 10 through Texas. We hit some hail and snow briefly that forced us down toward 10 and the weather projections for Flagstaff were brutal and we wanted to avoid it.

We did discover two wonderful places to camp on the east coast: Oak Hollow Campground in High Point North Carolina and Roosevelt State Park Mississippi. I did not like the stretch of South Carolina we drove through, the coast is probably much different. We took some back roads in Louisianna that had nothing noteworthy and Texas was booooring.

I had wanted to drive the Natchez Trace Parkway, to see The Smokey Mountains, and/or visit Baton Rouge or New Orleans, but that did not happen. Both the weather and our schedule to get back home for whale watching in Loreto conspired to make this trip “too fast” for much sightseeing.

Somewhere along the way “The Beast” became “Little Beast” as we saw just how large some motor homes actually are. Many dwarfed “The Beast”. It looks like the name “li’l Beast” has stuck.

So now Li’l Beast sits waiting for our next adventure.



We are both retiring now, one year earlier than planned. With all the activities and hobbies I’m into, this will be fun. I am not at all concerned that I’ll have too much idle time on my hands. I can spend half a day days on end simply researching a topic of interest.
For instance, we are taking a cruise of the Greek Islands next year and I’ve been reading up on each of the ports of call. We are also joining a whale watching trip friends have organized for next spring. I’ve been planning a trip to Alaska from Seattle for 2016 in a motor home. The most time consuming topic I’ve looked into is motor homes: which size, model, manufacturer. What features are available and which are necessary? Alternate supplies of water? Rainwater harvesting and filtration? Water heater, tank less?
After many hours chasing my tail, I think it’s a Winnebago View for us. It’s a moderately expensive diesel class C rig, nominally 24′ in length (25+ in reality), with a functional interior for two people on extended trips. We will not be going on an extended trip between now and our spring/summer trips next year. Therefore we’re putting off a purchase until next August-October when the 2016s are available. That should help bring down the price on a 2015 either new or slightly used. We will consider older Views if price, interior, and model came together. For now, I’m “just” researching coaches.
The class C is a natural choice for us. Based on past camping experience, we like to visit state and national parks. Many of them have a size limitation of 30 ft. We also want a very drivable coach, but one that does not sacrifice interior space and comfort. A class B is too small for us for extended periods of time. There is too little exterior storage for us.
The View is not optimally setup. We will swap in a tank less water heater, carry a rainwater harvesting system and additional water “cans”, and carry solar panels: all useful for boondocking. Friends of ours are getting a Leisure Travels Unity class B+ van. It has a Murphy bed that folds down over the dinette and looks out the side window and door. It has a number of unique and well conceived features not available in a typical RV: a tank less water heater standard is standard for example. Both the Leisure Industries and Winnebago View are built on the Mercedes Sprinter chassis with a 3 liter turbo diesel engine.
RV pricing is very confusing for both new and used. Prices are all over the place and it is hard to know what’s a good deal. There are a few great deals that go by, but they’re snapped up quickly.
Now to stop researching RVs until next year… but I’ve learned that Mercedes is introducing a 4 wheel drive version of the Sprinter.