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  • Writer's pictureRobert Gidley

Jumping with the frogs at Shingle Springs

May 23, 2023 (Wed)

9:15 am Country Inn, Fresno CA

Two days lounging around the motel has done wonders for our spirits (and for Robert’s knee). We availed ourselves of the swimming pool (although the hot tub was out of commission) and helped ourselves to the free breakfast (actual hot food, including sausage, egg fajitas, and oatmeal).

Robert enjoying the swimming pool (and dodging the occasional harpoon)

The gypsies decamp from the hotel

10:30 am

We are heading north and east to a Tribal RV casino place that Gini found. We’re rising up out of the valley and the temperatures are slowly dropping. Gini said that the only thing she ever heard about Fresno was that it was very hot. This remains one of the two facts we know about Fresno (the other being that there’s a Hookah Lounge right next to the falafel place).

1:00 pm Black Oak Casino RV Park, Tuolumne, CA

This place is well off the beaten track, but has a lovely (and large!) RV park. While not quite as nice as the 7 Feathers RV Park (the Gold Standard), it’s still pretty snappy and there’s a shuttle from here to the casino. In fact, we’re the only ones using the shuttle, so it’s like having our own personal chauffeur.

Our campground at Black Oak Casino RV Park

Tribal stuff

This casino is run by the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians, who are part of the Miwok tribe. In the fall, there’s an acorn festival and intertribal gathering. There are about 160 Me-Wuk folks in total. (Fun fact: Ewoks in the Star Wars movies are named after the Me-Wuks, although as far as we could tell, the Me-Wuk are not short and furry).

We spoke earlier about the Miwoks (they had the soccer game where you could pick up women who had the ball and run around with them). The tribe had the usual genocide and persecution from the U.S. Government

A fun feature of this casino is that there’s a bowling alley in the basement, although neither of us was inclined to partake.

1:30 pm Taking care of business

For the last week, we’ve been filling up Harvey’s black water tank and his grey water tank and it is past time to empty those into the local septic system. All the RV camps we’ve been to before have the septic access within about 10 feet of Harvey. For some reason, this camp has it about 25 feet from Harvey.

On the happy side, we are finally able to use the extra length of black water hose that we’ve been carrying across two countries and through five states. We back Harvey way up and connect the two hoses into one long cylinder.

We pull the valve, hold our breath and—yay! No surprises! Maybe we’re getting the hang of the RV stuff.

We even deploy our awning to create our own shade on the starboard side of Harvey, where we can sit and practice music (which we are inspired to do by our recent music camp experience!).

The temperatures are in the low 70’s and we are very happy that our butter will soon be congealing.

Our butter is still liquid from the Fresno Furnace

6:00 pm Dinner at the casino

We have a lovely dinner at the casino (casinos seem to do well with restaurants ) and enjoy the cool evening air.

In case you were wondering why we didn’t just keep moseying on into Yosemite, it turns out they’re closed on account of there’s a big crack in the road and it’ll probably collapse soon. Tough winter.


10:30 am

We like this camp so much, that we’re going to stay an extra day (which we don’t usually do). Rather than being a simple, “Sure, go ahead,” the person that Robert spoke to has to check with their supervisor and Negotiations Are Underway.

11:30 am

It turns out there’s a big holiday this weekend (Memorial Day) and lots of people like to go camping and those folks have the good sense to reserve their camp sites ahead of time, rather than just drifting from camp to camp like a couple of freelance gypsies.

The bottom line of which is: Nope.

So we pack up Harvey and hit the road, wondering where we’ll spend tonight.

11:40 am

Fortunately, all is not lost yet. We’ve located a KOA campground about two hours north of here, which gets us a bit closer to home. So we’re off!

2:00 pm Angel Camp, CA

We’ve been wandering through the foothills and we come across Angel Camp, which proudly proclaims itself “Frogtown,” because 158 years ago, Mark Twain (dead for 113 years) wrote a story called The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, which went viral and made Mr. Twain famous.

Since then, pickings have been slim for Angel Camp, so they’re still milking the century-and-a-half year old story for every dime they can wring from a tourist’s credit card. The downtown is exceedingly quaint with lots of American Flags and quaint shops selling quaint T-Shirts and other quaint Chinese souvenirs.

4:00 pm KOA Campground, Shingle Springs

Yup, we’re staying in Shingle Springs (which is the home of another branch of the Miwok Tribe, so we haven’t drifted that far from where we started). The town is not named after the disease (whew!), but from a horse-drawn machine that could make 16,000 shingles a day!

This place is deserted, so we have no trouble getting in, but, again, tomorrow, it’ll be chock-full of campers remembering U.S. military personnel who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

We’ll be on the move again…


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