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  • Writer's pictureRobert Gidley

A Gidley in Gridley

May 26, 2023 (Fri)

9:00 am KOA Campground, Shingle Springs

When we last saw our heroes, they had just realized that this was Memorial Day Weekend, a time when everybody who has an RV digs it out of storage, blows off the dust, and heads to a campground. This is inconvenient for those of us meandering up the coast, and it’s beginning to look like we should be scouting out parking lots between here and home for the next three days.

But before we throw in the towel (which is currently on the bathroom floor because there’s a leak coming from someplace that we can’t find and the towel soaks it up so we can pretend it’s not leaking), we’ll try one last time to find a place to stay.

Our process is that Robert uses an app on his phone to find five RV parks and forwards the information to Gini who then does the calling (and not just because she sounds like a little old lady upon whom the RV parks should take pity). [Actually, this is 100% of the reason.]

“Oh, check this out!” exclaims Robert. “There’s a town in California called Gridley! And they have an RV park!”

Growing up with a last name of Gidley, as Robert did, you hear many (many) variations on it. Gitley, Gizley, Gritley. When dealing with phone representatives based in the Philippines, he was Gibley (for ten years, Robert Gibley had an account at The Seattle Times). Particularly popular in the South was Gridley (“You may fire when ready, Gridley!” proclaimed Commodore Dewey at the Battle of Manila Bay). So, Gridley is practically the family name!

“We have to start with this one!” says Gini. She calls and wonders how many nights we should ask for.

“Lets go for the bold—ask for three nights, if it works, we don’t have to worry any more,” replies Robert. Worst case, we’ll get one night and be in this position tomorrow.

Well, it turns out the Gidley/Gridley magic holds—we get three nights, full services, they even have a swimming pool, working hot tub, and laundry. Woohoo!

After Gini hangs up, it occurs to us. Why do they have open spaces on Memorial Day Weekend? Is this place next to the Gridley Toxic Waste Dump? Is it the battleground for the local gang wars? Is it slowly sliding into Gridley creek?

11:00 am KOA Campground, Shingle Springs

This KOA is expensive ($108 a night for a space with no black water hookup), the hot tub is broken, and there are no showers. Also, it’s sold out for the rest of the weekend.

As 11:00 approaches, we notice a man riding by in his golf cart, circling the area, checking to see if people are leaving on time. What if we don’t leave? Will they have to evict us? At least they don’t have to worry about us trashing the spot—it’s already pretty grubby.

Our small act of defiance is to pull out at exactly 10:59:50, leaving a good 10 seconds ahead of time. Take that, KOA!

12:30 pm Cool, CA

We discover there’s a town called Cool! Cool! Naturally, we have to stop and get pictures of us next to the town sign.

A cool Gini in Cool

Next, it occurs to us we need some souvenirs for the grandkids and what better gift than a Cool gift. Sadly, our artistic sensibilities exceed the local supply—we finally track down the only (?!) place in town that sells Cool T-shirts and their sizes are pretty restricted.

No Cool coffee cups, no fans that say “Keeping cool in Cool,” no snow globes from Cool. (No snow globes? That’s just a natural!!) Also, there’s no pot store, which could have sold T-shirts with people smoking product and proclaiming, “Cool folks.”

We sense an overlooked marketing opportunity.

There is a tattoo parlor, but having a “I was cool in Cool” tattoo seems a bit far to go for a joke. One more picture and we move along.

Robert always has a cool day in Cool

1:30 pm

We’re sticking to non-main roads (but this is California, so a “non-main road” includes four-lane state freeways), but traffic seems to be building. Whenever the 65 mph highway hits a town, there’s a 10 minute traffic backup. Memorial Day traffic begins.

The temperatures are staying relatively cool, and the scenery is lovely. The trees are bigger than back when we were staying with the Greek nuns. Pleasant driving.

2:45 pm Gridley, CA

The promised land! “Welcome to Historic Gridley” proclaims a sign. We approach our destination with some trepidation—will we need to break out the HazMat suits?

We’re here—but what’s here like?

Whew! The Gridley Inn and RV Park turns out to be a perfectly acceptable (if a bit run-down) motel with an RV park attached. The pool is working and piranha free, there are showers, laundry facilities—and enough available sites that Gini can pick one away from the road. All for $65 a night!

Highway 99 (a four-lane 45mph highway) runs right past the park, so it’s not really made for casual strolls. We’re half a block from a Safeway, lots of fast food restaurants, couple of bars, auto supply stores—we’re even right next door to a Dollar General. What more could we want?

Well, cooler temperatures for one. It’s in the low 80’s and we’re getting a little melty. Fortunately, Harvey has newly refurbished A/C! It works, and this site has electricity so we can run it all night if we want! (We don’t have to, because it cools off pretty quickly, but we could.)

Gidleys in Gridley


Friday Travel

Gini & Robert

Harvey Staff

P.S. Behind the scenes: Robert always refers to it as the “poop” tank. Editor Gini thinks this is vulgar and replaces it with “black water” or “sewage.” But Gini doesn’t know how to use “Search and Replace,” so eventually, she’s going to miss one. Stay tuned for the exciting poop scavenger hunt!

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27 mai 2023

The USS Gridley (DLG-21/CG-21) was a Leahy-class guided missile cruiser (1961-2005). She was named after Charles Vernon Gridley, who distinguished himself with Admiral George Dewey's force at the Battle of Manila Bay on 1 May 1898.

She was laid down at the Puget Sound Bridge and Drydock Company of Seattle, Washington and cut up for scrap at the Bremerton Naval Shipyards.

Gridley served honourably in the West Pacific in the early 1970s and was graced by the presence of Stephen E. Moore who was temporarily assigned to provide ready intelligence on the North Koreans.

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