Mt. Madonna County Park, CA

Last pics of Delta Bay

Last pics of Delta Bay

Saturday, May 7

My time at Park Delta Bay is up and early in the afternoon I make the two and a half hour drive to Mt. Madonna County Park, part of the Santa Clara park system south of San Jose. At $40 a night it isn’t cheap, but it’s no more expensive than Delta Bay’s daily price (I was wrong, it’s $40 not $35) and is located among redwoods. If I can’t find anything cheaper than $40 a night, might as well pick somewhere nice.

There’s a three week trial period written into the adoption contract, and getting Jessica back to her foster family normally wouldn’t have been a problem. But the foster mom is out of town on business, and then will be going on an extended vacation which complicates matters. I’m stuck in limbo, waiting to hear back from the rescue on where I should take her, which is hard on everyone involved.

I keep reviewing it in my mind, wondering where I went wrong. There were no real problems, she’s a good dog, no accidents, not demanding, travels well. We just didn’t connect. Given time, she would have bonded with me I’m sure, but by Thursday I knew I wasn’t going to bond with her.

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Bridge near Walnut Grove

I think the most likely cause is I was too hasty to find a dog after I was approved, and should have waited longer and been more discerning. Or maybe I like the idea of having a dog more than the reality. Whatever the reason, I have some soul searching to do before I decide if I should try again. Bringing her home with high hopes and then realizing she wasn’t the right fit was painful, and not an experience I hope to repeat.

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Walnut Grove, CA

But Mt. Madonna is exactly what I needed to start feeling better. A change of scenery, numerous hiking trails, and big trees. I grew up in the north woods of Wisconsin, and forests always feel like home to me. I love listening to the wind rustling through the leaves, the look of sunlight dappling the ground through the boughs, the way the closeness shuts out the rest of the world and makes the space feel remote from the worries of the modern world. Big trees like redwoods enhance that feeling of timelessness even more. Being in the presence of ancient redwoods makes all my troubles seem fleeting and temporary. It grants me some perspective.

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Mt. Madonna County Park is located on highway 152 west of Gilroy (south of San Jose). Maximum length for RVs is 35 ft, and the road in has a 45 foot maximum length. It is twisty with some grades.

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Site 117, a partial hookup site with typical tree cover

There are 30 sites with 30 amp electric and water hookups (dump station near entrance) all located in Valley View 1 campground, the other three campgrounds are all tent sites. Some of the tent sites will fit small RVs and those are $30, but given the dense tree cover solar power wouldn’t work here.

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Tent site 136, I could get Cas in here if I parked him in one of the car spots and the truck in the other

Pads are dirt and most are reasonably level. I snagged one of the last 3 hookup spots available on Friday night by reservation, site 101. It’s located on the inside of a loop which isn’t as scenic as being on the outside, but like most public campgrounds the sites aren’t too close to each other. I read, I explore the campground, I watch TV on my laptop. Things get better incrementally.

May 8 and 9

The weekenders trickle out on Sunday, and I take Jessica for a walk on the trails which are all dog friendly.

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From Valley View 1, Sprig trail heads north towards the amphitheater. There’s a quite a bit of up and down, the park encompasses elevations from 500 to 1,800 feet.

It’s beautiful though and the trails are well maintained. Bunches of clover grow underneath the canopy, among them hide tiny flowers. In a couple places where the giants have toppled, grasses and brush grow tall. I pass a mother and daughter out horse riding, it’s a good day for it.

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Both Sunday and Monday start out foggy in the morning but by the afternoon are mostly sunny, temperatures top out in the 60’s. Great weather for hiking.

On Monday afternoon a fellow with a truck camper stops by, he’s got a reservation for my site too. We compare our printed slips, and they’re both accurate. There must have been a mix up somewhere. Luckily there are other open spaces for him to pick from so it doesn’t end up being a real issue.

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The rest of the day passes lazily and without incident. Tuesday (today) I’ll be moving on, but in a much better frame of mind than I was when I arrived. Thanks everyone for your kind words in the comments and e-mails you’ve sent. I have read every one and appreciate your support.

* * *

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Cherie on May 13, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    The relationship we have with our furry companions is a unique one, and one that does need to click and bond. It’s kinda like dating to find the right fit – even though the criteria you seek might be checked in the profile, and the first date was pleasant, doesn’t mean the relationship will be ideal as a long term one.

    Thank you for being so conscientious in recognizing this wasn’t the fit you had hoped for, and making the right decision. Expectations and reality are so difficult to mesh sometimes.

    i’ve certainly been there myself, know how painful it can be and wishing you lots of love, joy and healing. *big hugs*

    • Becky on May 14, 2016 at 11:12 am

      *hugs*! Thanks Cherie, you pretty much hit the nail on the head.

  2. Terri on May 13, 2016 at 11:12 am

    I so know how you feel, both about it not working out with the pup or not feeling like you could or would connect with her, and for how you feel sitting near all those trees. They make me feel the same way. I like how when you are in a forest, the trees connect overhead. You put into words much better than what I did on my Reflection post about sitting under the trees on Oak Canyon Drive in Arizona. (It’s a drive I highly recommend!)
    Terri recently posted..Inspirations and Internal ChangesMy Profile

    • Becky on May 13, 2016 at 11:46 am

      I’ll keep it in mind next time I’m in that area Terri! Glad you enjoyed this and hope Lake Powell is treating you well.

  3. Ernesto Quintero on May 12, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Becky that final set of images are super! You have great composure and can arrange them together in a Nat Geo quality way. You are talented in many ways, great blogs and images. Be safe.

    • Becky on May 13, 2016 at 11:45 am

      Glad you enjoyed this post Ernesto, thanks and take care.

  4. Diane Ely on May 12, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    Change of subject: What does the name of this blog “Interstellar Orchard” refer to/mean? I don’t believe I’ve seen any reference to that anywhere here. (Maybe it’s a popular culture thing I’m not aware of.)

    • Becky on May 13, 2016 at 11:43 am

      I made it up off the top of my head Diane, it has no meaning. I wanted something different that would stand out among all the blogs with “travel” and “road” and “RV” in the title. 🙂

  5. Reine in Plano on May 11, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    Wise people recognize when something isn’t working, identify a solution and make the necessary changes. You’re being very wise. And you’re smart to take the time to evaluate your feelings to decide what’s best for YOU. None of us can live your life for you.

    We fell in love with a Siberian Husky the year after we married. She was a great dog and lived for 15 years as our kids were born and grew. But when she died we were so busy with kids activities, work and business that we felt we couldn’t provide another dog the home and attention it deserved. So we’ll have an imaginary dog unless we fall in love with one some time down the road.

    Thanks for being so honest in your blog. I know what you’ve written will help many others who encounter similar situations.

    • Becky on May 12, 2016 at 9:58 am

      I think everyone does the best they can with the tools they have. Some are better equipped than others, everyone learns as they go. If it’s meant to be, I’m sure I’ll find the right dog eventually. Thanks Reine.

  6. Scott Hinckley on May 11, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    Hi Becky,

    Will you be sharing any pictures of you and Jessica on those beautiful trails the two of you hiked together?

    P.s. so glad you’re feeling better!

    • Becky on May 12, 2016 at 9:56 am

      I’m not big on selfies and I’m not taking any more pictures of Jessica, it’s hard enough on me as it is.


  7. Judy Blinkenberg on May 11, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    We lived in Watsonville for 30 years so I am familiar with Mt Madonna. I have never stayed there overnight and I didn’t know they were so expensive. Our church had outings there. You can ride horses up there. I remember camping at the delta too but a long time ago when the kids were little. Sorry about your animal problems. I don’t plan on taking any of my chickens with me, although I do wish I could take two! Can you imagine!! It will be hard to give them away as they are pets. We haven’t begun to go yet. In our early stages of getting rid of stuff! Thank you for your report. Seacliff State Beach is in Aptos although I imagine it’s also expensive. Thanks for the update. Take care till next time.

    • Becky on May 12, 2016 at 9:55 am

      Up until a year or two ago the prices were much cheaper (tent sites were $12 instead of $30), but I’m not surprised they hiked up the prices so much considering how expensive camping is everywhere else in the area.

      Wouldn’t that be something, traveling chickens? Hehe. I wish you the very best getting on the road, downsizing isn’t very fun but it feels so good once it’s over. Safe travels and happy trails.

  8. Rene Kipp on May 11, 2016 at 10:30 am

    What a tough decision for you to have to make. One day your perfect pet will find you 🙂
    I’m glad you’ve found a peaceful place to rest for the moment.
    Rene Kipp recently posted..Math EquationMy Profile

    • Becky on May 11, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      It sure was pretty Rene, thanks.

  9. Jodee Gravel on May 11, 2016 at 9:02 am

    What a lovely location! Love the redwoods and yes, they are a wonderful and healing place to be. I’m sure Jessica enjoyed her vacation and will be happy to see her foster mom. She’ll be fine and of course you will you 🙂 Safe travels, enjoy California.
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Family FirstMy Profile

    • Becky on May 11, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      Thanks Jodee, there sure is a lot to see here. 🙂

      It does make this situation easier knowing that Jessica won’t be “damaged” by her brief time with me, she’s a laid back dog and adaptable.

  10. Gary on May 11, 2016 at 8:02 am

    I definitely agree with Jerry’s comment above. The idea of having a traveling mate is appealing, but you do lose something in your full time travels.

    I had just started full time travel a few months before getting Jagger. I got him from a breeder, but he was six months old already (long story). Still cute, but I missed the puppy stuff. That’s is good and bad as it seems harder to bond with them when they are older. After all they are a lot of work! Especially at the beginning and they have their little personalities. It felt like he was demanding and taking all my time, yet at the same time I loved having him around. I was really torn for a long time. It took me at least six months to adapt, especially since he is aggressive towards other dogs. In fact I am still dealing with the aggression issues over two years later, which can be embarrassing when meeting others and your dog is rude.

    Jagger is a lot of company to me and I feel more secure as he warns me of anything around my Coach without barking a lot. Would I do it again? Probably. I definitely will be more aware of what is involved when adopting or getting an older dog. I’ve raised several from puppies over my life and that was a lot of work too in a different way.

    Hopefully you heal quickly and thanks for your insight and honesty when writing your blog. I’ve enjoyed your travels and you have given some great ideas along the way.

    • Becky on May 11, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience. The puppy vs. adult thing is a complex issue and there is no easy answer, everyone needs to decide for themselves. Glad things worked out with Jagger in the end!

  11. Dawn on May 11, 2016 at 7:43 am

    I’ve had dogs and cats… and have fostered many over the years. I have met dogs that I don’t bond with, but more often, it’s just time. Now, I have two dogs – an elderly pug and a year old heeler/shepherd mutt. Both of them I spent a month waffling. “what am I doing?” “this dog is strange….” … but after a few weeks, then after a month, we settled in with each other.

    The pug has now been with me for over three years, and the heeler since this past January.
    I love them both very much. Sometimes it just takes some time.

    What I’ve found with both myself, and adopters from the rescues I have worked with over the years, is that usually it takes at least a couple of weeks for the people and the animals to get comfortable with each other. Occasionally, it’s a perfect match right away, but not usually.

    Obviously, you know you best! And do what is best for you! Just writing this in case it gives a little perspective to other possibilities.

    Thanks for writing and sharing yourself with all of us. Following your adventures is a treat!

    • Becky on May 11, 2016 at 12:07 pm

      Yes Dawn I’ve heard from others who’ve said the same thing. This rescue has a 3 week grace period for just that reason. I believe Jessica would bond with me given time (she’s already comfortable with me – she’s a pretty easygoing dog), but I know in my heart that I won’t bond with her. Her forever home is waiting out there though, and she’ll make someone a great companion. Glad things worked out with your two!

      • Dawn on May 11, 2016 at 12:37 pm

        Rescue groups are great!
        To echo the others – you will find your match! 🙂

  12. Larry on May 11, 2016 at 7:40 am

    It’s good to see you back.

    • Becky on May 11, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      Thanks Larry!

  13. Dave Chess on May 11, 2016 at 7:27 am

    We looked at all the dogs at the humane society and only one seemed to connect to me. After a short walk outdoors I knew we had connected. I hope that happens for you too. Good luck with your search.

    • Becky on May 11, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      It’s great when it happens instantly like that Dave, thanks.

  14. Deb on May 11, 2016 at 7:20 am

    So glad you are feeling better. I love dogs….as long as they belong to somebody else. 🙂
    At this season in my life I just don’t want the responsibility of a pet.

    • Becky on May 11, 2016 at 12:02 pm

      That’s fair Deb, everyone needs to walk their own path. 🙂

  15. Chris L on May 11, 2016 at 6:27 am

    I still don’t understand why would anyone want a pet living on the road boondocking. You constantly have to worry about it. Especially with temperature. Even when boondocking in the mountains in 70 degree weather. On a sunny day, it could reach 100 in a trailer so the dog can never be left alone. If you leave windows open, other animal can brake in and harm the dog. In the winter, we may be OK with 20 degrees wrapped up in 2 sleeping bags but little dog, no way. What about when you go to work for 10 hours at Amazon. What if someone steals the entire trailer with the dog in it? More and more RV parks not accepting dog. Cost of food and vet. Constant lookout for Bears and Lions when hiking. The smell, fur, dirt, insects all in a tiny space. Why do it? For companionship? Just not worth it.

    • Becky on May 11, 2016 at 11:56 am

      It’s good that you know where you stand on the issue Chris. But I hope you can appreciate that we’re all individuals with different tastes, needs, and desires, and that just because someone sees things differently than you doesn’t make them wrong. I’ve addressed these concerns in previous posts/comments for those reading this who are wondering how having a dog as a full-timer works.

  16. sara chauvot on May 11, 2016 at 6:22 am

    Hi Becky, Glad to hear you are feeling better & sorry the adoption didn’t work out..When the time & pet are right you will know it..In the meantime I’m sure I speak for the many lurkers enjoying your posts..So happy you are back sharing your experiences/pictures, we really enjoy your writing style..Take care of you..

    • Becky on May 11, 2016 at 11:52 am

      Glad you enjoyed this post Sara, thanks for commenting. 🙂 You take care as well.

  17. Sara on May 11, 2016 at 5:39 am

    I’m so happy that you feel well enough to post again. As hard to believe as it might be . . . I had almost exactly the same experience with a rescue dog. My dog had been stolen and I was devastated for years and finally had the courage to rescue a gorgeous dog of the same breed. She was lovely and I can only write positive words about her. We never bonded. I tried to explain this to my friends and family and always felt they were trying to persuade me to stay in a marriage that did not work out! LOL! Bottom line? I arranged to “return” her (hated writing that) and she was rescued by a family with children who turned out to be a good fit for everyone involved. My intention in posting this is to remind you that we are not clones. We are very much individuals and we do not always “fit” with everyone else. It takes courage to admit to yourself that something is not working and to move forward. If I have learned anything about you on your blog, it is that you are a courageous person. The forest and nature heals me more than anything or any place I have experienced and I am certain it will be the same for you. Big hug!! 😀

    • Becky on May 11, 2016 at 11:51 am

      Thanks for sharing Sara, sorry things didn’t work out for you and the rescue, but it sounds like everything worked out well in the end. And I’m sure Jessica’s forever home is out there and she’ll get her happy ending too. She’s too good of a dog not to find one.

  18. MB from VA on May 11, 2016 at 5:34 am

    Ahhhh, the redwoods. One of the most awesome places on Earth…..and a great place to renew your spirit. I remember getting up very early one morning….and leaving The Whispering Pines Motel……and driving towards The Avenue Of The Giants. There was a light fog. The sun was juuuuust peeping through. No one else on the road. I stopped to take a picture. But when I stepped out, there was an overwhelming (in a good way) feeling of “spirit” there. It was like the verse from the Bible where God told Moses to take off his shoes. He was standing on holy ground. I think it’s all “holy” but there are some places that by their sheer beauty and, in this case, those ancient trees……just are easier to recognize as such. Enjoy your time there!

    • Becky on May 11, 2016 at 11:49 am

      Thanks MB, it sounds like you had a really magical moment!

  19. Karen SC on May 11, 2016 at 5:18 am

    So glad you are back. Perhaps your expectations were too far from reality. You are doing the right thing for you. Plus it would be hard with your work schedule. Love your pictures.

    • Becky on May 11, 2016 at 11:48 am

      I’ve worked with many campers at Amazon who have dogs, it’s doable Karen. Invariably there’s someone in the campground that makes their money walking them all while everyone’s at work, hehe. That wasn’t the reason things didn’t work out with Jessica. But I’m glad you enjoyed this post.

  20. Jerry Minchey on May 11, 2016 at 4:53 am


    I think your statement, “Or maybe I like the idea of having a dog more than the reality.” hit the nail on the head.

    I like dogs, but one of the main things I like about RVing is the freedom, and if I had a dog, a lot of that freedom would go out the window.

    Don’t get me wrong. Dogs can bring a lot of love and joy to your life, but they take away a lot of freedom.

    Just my thoughts,

    • Becky on May 11, 2016 at 11:44 am

      I’m not sure if they’re true of my situation or not Jerry, I need to think about it some more.

      I know full-timers who wouldn’t be without a dog. I know others like you who would feel confined by one.

      As with everything about full-timing, there is no right or wrong answer. Everyone just needs to decide for themself. 🙂

  21. George on May 10, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    Maybe the return snafu is a way of someone telling you to wait a little longer. If it still doesn’t work out then it just wasn’t meant to be. I think Jessica will understand.

    The park looks very nice. I also like trees and hiking/biking trails and would feel right at home there.

    • Becky on May 11, 2016 at 11:42 am

      Jessica is pretty resilient and easygoing for a rescue dog, it’s one of the reasons I looked at her over others available: I figured those traits would be good for full-timing. She’ll be alright, thanks George.

      There are miles of trails at Mt. Madonna, a great place to be for hikers.

  22. Norm H. on May 10, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    Thanks,again, for more good memories. If you’re still in the area check out Portola State Park or Big Basin State Park for more big trees! Great places for the heart. Peace.

  23. pamelab on May 10, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    Love those trees. Thank you, Becky, for you work on this blog. I have enjoyed it since I first started following it. Lots of good information from a level-headed and detail-oriented full-timer in a Casita, with a kind heart.
    Happy Trails.
    Pamelab in Houston

    • Becky on May 11, 2016 at 11:37 am

      Aren’t they gorgeous Pamela? Hope you get to travel and see them yourself soon. Thanks for reading and I’m glad you’ve enjoyed IO.

  24. Beverly in CA on May 10, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    Hi Becky,
    It great that you are back, I had the same problem when I tried to adopt a cat. It wasn’t right. If it is meant to happen it will. Great pictures the place looks beautiful.

    • Becky on May 11, 2016 at 11:36 am

      Glad you enjoyed this post Beverly and thanks. I believe you and the others posting similar comments are right: it’ll happen when it’s meant to happen.

  25. RGupnorth on May 10, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    Looks like a nice park. Little like the tall pines of Michigan. Good you realized the relationship with the dog wasn’t going to work. Not everyone can face up to that. It would have been somewhat tough in the fall when you are working your long days. One of these days the pet you want will find you. Those are the best ones.

    • Becky on May 11, 2016 at 11:35 am

      That’s a good way of looking at it RG.

      I haven’t been to Michigan but I’ve heard they have big trees there too, parts of Wisconsin have big pines. Not as big as redwoods I don’t think, but still really impressive!

  26. Tina on May 10, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Hi Becky,

    Love all the great pictures, what a peaceful place I will have to check out. Glad you are feeling better.

    Big hug,


    • Becky on May 11, 2016 at 11:33 am

      Thanks Tina. Mt. Madonna is a beautiful park, I highly recommend it!

  27. FRANK POOLE on May 10, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Pets, yep, had the same thing with a cat… when in a condo… had to return… biggest thing I believe was that were “Both” were just too set in our ways and weren’t willing to change. Luv’d the cat, tears in bringing here back, but best for both worlds.
    While I would luv to have pet, probably a dog, my lifestyle just wouldn’t be fair to it and it’s too dang hard to give up when the end of life comes or worry about what happens to “My Best Friend” if I go first, so, I just enjoy the Cat/Dog vids and pretend… but..

    Bottom line, it just didn’t work out, but shouldn’t feel bad or guilty or anything else, just didn’t work, IMNSHO…

    Happy Trails, Redwoods in No Calif only one State park open, maybe the others have opened by now, but check… one or two privates, but out from the trees… was there several weeks ago. nice.. and beautiful drive up as you well know.


    • Becky on May 11, 2016 at 11:32 am

      This county park isn’t far from the state park I stayed at with Julie late in 2014 that was among redwoods. I chose it because it was cheaper, haha. But it turned out to be really beautiful too.

      Sorry things didn’t work out with the cat.

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