My First RV Experience (Guest blog by Melissa)

Today I’ve given over the keyboard to my sister Melissa who is visiting us this week and learning about life in the road in an RV.  She wanted to share some of her experiences with you.  Enjoy.


Hello! I was invited to come and visit Bert & Kat for my vacation so I can check out RV life and do some sightseeing on the West Coast. With an offer like that, I could not wait to come spend a week with them! As many of you may know, I was born on an Air Force Base in California and my last memory of being in California prior to this visit, was right after high school graduation in 1987.

So this is an opportunity I was happy to have come my way.

I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised at how normal life is for being in an RV. You do have to plan where you want to stay, for how long, if reservations are required, cost of site and if you are looking for full hook-ups (Water, electricity etc.) It is an adjustment as far as setting up at the RV, knowing voltage for each appliance or device, being aware of sewage use, etc. It is just like anything else in life- you have a daily routine and before you know it, don’t even think about it.

I have flown a lot to visit Bert & Kat over the years, so flying is not a big deal to me. My adventures started once I arrived at the Oakland Airport. I walked out from my terminal and there were Bert & Kat with Fat Henry(the truck’s name) to pick me up. It was sunny and warm to my delight! It was a little bit over an hour from the airport back to the campsite. They had been in Skyline Park which is open during the day to the public for hiking, biking, running and Frisbee golf (that is HUGE in this area!) and after hours is only accessible to campers. It was funny that I had no idea of what to expect at an RV site. This particular site had maybe 30 spots and it was odd to me how most of them were kind of right next to each other and there were a lot of empty sites. It was interesting to be able to hear wolves, owls and then the sound of kids playing, dogs barking and no traffic! Dinner was Bert burgers with avocado and wine! A great dinner and I found myself very tired before long and ended up in bed very early(I did manage to lose 3 hours due to the time change!)

Up early with the time change, so a good picture of the sunrise.

They had super nice neighbors at Skyline and it was amazing to learn that the guy right next to us maintains pizza ovens and he goes to Ocean City, NJ Manco & Manco which has the best pizza at the shore in my opinion as I have been there many times with family over the years. Here I was way on the West Coast and found a “Six Degrees of Separation” connection!

Our awesome neighbors!

Sunday was wine tasting in Napa Valley!!! We all know I love my Cabernet!!! We had a list of 5 wineries to visit and Kat was our designated driver which was awesome as she is a great navigator and driver. We had our plan ready and Kat mapped out our trip and off we went ( we made Melissa take a short hike before we went out drinking for the day).

Just to prove we were really there.

Early morning hike to offset the drinking for the day.

The first stop was to Sequoia Grove where we had a 2 for 1 coupon for our tasting of $20.00. Our tasting consisted of 4 wines and our host was a guy named Eric and I liked the ambiance and personality of our host here the best of all the wineries we visited. He was sociable, funny, knowledgeable and fun to talk to. I am not a huge fan of white wines, but the Chardonnay was nice. My favorite of the day was Rebellious Red-what a delicious, delightful blend! Next was a Syrah which I usually like, but did not enjoy. Last was the Cabernet which was nice. There was no pressure to buy anything which was nice.

Next stop was Beauliue Vineyard which we also had a 2 for 1 coupon for! The Maestro Menu cost was $25.00 and you got to choose from 9 wines. I started with a Pinot Gris which I would totally enjoy in the summer as it was light and refreshing; it would make a great sangria! Next was the Zinfandel-red with quite the berry flavor with a peppery finish. I love black pepper so this was a great taste for me! I moved on to Beauzeaux “a mistake” which I would say was the best wine making mistake ever! It was a wonderful blend of different spices and berries with a very smooth finish. Last was the Tapestry Reserve which was a blend of 65% Cabernet and 35% Syrah and what a great way to finish this tasting. It was an earthy flavor that was silky and sinful.

The 3rd stop was at Sutter Homes at it was totally FREE! My favorite thing about this winery was the beautiful area outside-a lemon and 2 orange trees with a nice little fountain and pond with a turtle and fish. The best wine here was the Red Blend which we purchased as for about $6.00 how could you resist? It was not very busy here and I am sure many a wine snob would not be caught dead in there, but again it was free and I did start my love of wine with Sutter Home White Zinfandel so I was happy to go here! The hosts were also very nice and as Kat was the DD, they gave her bottled water!

Next on our list was the Napa Cellars which makes Menage A Trois- a favorite of mine that my friend Tara introduced me to years ago. They had a gorgeous outdoor seating area which I imagine is super busy in the summer! I started with a Chardonnay which was ok. Then I had a Gold Chardonnay which was better as it had a pineapple finish and I do love pineapple! Next I had Midnight-WOW what a perfect blend of blackberry, plum and mocha. It was so good I talked the guy next to me into tasting it and then he bought a bottle! I finished with a Cabernet but found that I did like the Midnight the best!

We couldn’t lift the barrel, so we had to leave without it.

Our last stop was Nicheline which was up a twisty, curvy road with very limited parking, but boy was it worth the drive! Our host was Scott and he was very personable and humorous! We also met a couple from Australia who we ran into again in San Francisco! The winery has the option to let you keep your 2 for 1 coupon if you decide to make even a one bottle purchase! The tasting here is a set menu but how can you go wrong with 5 different wines? First was Old Vine Muscadelle which I enjoyed. The Primitivo was our favorite and we ended up getting a bottle and will have it with dinner Friday night which will be a great wine to end my journey with! Next was Reserve Old Vine Zinfandel which I thought was smooth. The next selection was Cabernet which was very tasty! The last one was Syrah but Scott let me pick anything on the menu I really liked so of course I had more Primitivo! It was an awesome day and once we got back to the campsite, I naturally drank more wine!!!! Was happy to wake up Monday without a wine hangover!

Monday we moved from Skyline to Anthony Chabot Campground which is much more rural.  (Full of eucalyptus trees and lots of hiking and biking trails).  The drive was a bit scary as I have never experienced riding in a truck pulling an RV ( called a 5th wheel) so again, I had no clue what to expect. I don’t think I would be good at driving or trying to park this whole contraption! I can barely parallel park my Honda as it is! Anyway, we made it up the big twisting, turning road to our destination and I again was happy to stay out of the way as Bert & Kat got the Shady Lady set up for our stay. It is very, very quiet and dark here at night. We had a campfire on Monday night which was very nice. I could hear the hum of traffic on the highway miles below, airplanes flying overhead, woodpeckers pecking, birds chattering, frogs singing and music from a camper down the road and our neighbors having a good time with some friends who came up for the night. It was a delightful blend of sounds for someone who is accustomed to only hearing traffic at home. We took a short walk and then I came back to relax while Bert & Kat went exploring. Had a delicious dinner of London Broil and of course some red wine!

Watching Bert and Kat hike up the hill (safely from my chair of course.)


Tuesday was Explore San Fran day We took the Ferry over which was neat as we passed by the big cargo ships being loaded up. The one ship had about 3 guys who waved to us and blew kisses. When we got the dock, we went right to see the Sea Lions at Pier 39. They are so funny- grunting and pushing each other off the floating docks, soaking up the sun and sleeping while all huddled together! While looking for souvenirs ( I usually like to get a zippered sweatshirt and postcards) we ran across the couple we had seen on Sunday. We chatted with them and off we went to get some lunch. We ate and then it was time to go sightseeing.


My bucket list was to get to the Golden Gate Bridge which we did!!!I would highly recommend renting bikes to make the trip there and returning on a ferry! A lot of people did this. I attempted to make the walk, but it was about 4 miles from the Pier to the GGB and hills, hills, hills!!!! We ended up getting an Uber to make it to GGB and them bought a bus ticket to get back to Fisherman’s Wharf. I was so happy to get to the Bridge and have photos taken there. It is quite windy and chilly so if you plan to come to SF, make sure you have a hooded jacket or scarf. I saw a lot of people with gloves on too! On the way back to the ferry, we stopped off and two different bars to have some cocktails and get a nibble before heading back to camp. The ride back on the Ferry seemed warmer to me even though the sun had set. It was neat to be on the water at night. Great view of the Bay Bridge with the LCD lights glowing on the water. It was and adventurous day and one I am grateful for!

Yay! I made it.

Good times.

Older sister, but not always more mature…

You never escape the torture of being the youngest sibling.

Its Wednesday and we are just relaxing today. I got up late- almost 8am! Bert got a fire started and we sat outside and enjoyed the sights before the rain and wind come again. It is getting windy out and is supposed to rain starting this afternoon. We will be going into the city again tomorrow to do a little more sightseeing. Friday we will drive the Pacific Coast Highway and then I fly out Saturday.

It is easy to see why so many people choose this way of life. You can choose to be in an urban or rural area, visit so many great places (National Parks, cities, zoos, etc.), meet new people, visit family or friends while staying in your own space and last but not least- have the freedom to move around as much as you want!!

I hope I didn’t bore you with my long, detailed blog! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it!



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7 Responses to My First RV Experience (Guest blog by Melissa)

  1. Abbey says:

    Glad you guys had such a great time. Sounds like fun

  2. Breck says:

    Oh Melissa, the challenge of sharing our wonderful lifestyle with bricks and sticks folks is that more of them hit the road and fill our campgrounds ! Seriously, it’s a wonderful way to enjoy life and traveling with Bert and Kat is a plus. Thanks for writing the article with that first-timer’s point of view… as you learned – it’s great to be on the road! When we first met Bert and Kat, we gushed over how much we loved it… they were probably skeptical… No longer. “Come on
    back again soon!”

  3. Diane says:

    Writing must be a family trait! Melissa did a wonderful job! I could almost taste the wine through the detailed description. I’m very impressed she could remember what she drank after the first winery. You go girl!
    Glad you all had a terrific visit.🍷Cheers!

    • Dr. T says:

      Agreed! Great storytelling/writing, and I enjoyed it very much. Thank you Melissa for sharing with us! xo

    • Melissa says:

      It was fun to write and I did have a notebook which was a huge help because I would never had remembered otherwise! I also took pictures of the wine tasting menus. Was an awesome day with so many fantastic wines.

  4. Karl S. Kramer says:

    Well done Melissa! That sounded like a GREAT vacation. I love the pictures of the three of you. Napa and San Fran are on our bucket list too. I am sure you hated to see it end!
    Welcome back to lovely NJ!

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