Dillon & Earl on the GO: Central California Edition

DILLON & EARL SUMMER CAMPING TRIP 2017 – CENTRAL CALIFORNIA: Yes, we are STILL traveling the country. Add to the list: Bakersfield, Sequoia National Park, Yosemite National Park and Manteca.


I would like to start by saying THANK YOU, THANK YOU & THANK YOU to those who have reached out to us via inbox when they didn’t see our post for 5 days! We have been in areas so remote that phone service was not available and I was actually happy we didn’t have any contact with the world. It was just Dillon and I, enjoying our time together (and a few other people whom I will mention as I share our memories). 

We left L.A. early Saturday afternoon and made it to Bakersfield (an industrial city located about 4hrs from L.A.) Bakersfield is also located less than 2 hours from Sequoia National Park, so I thought it would be a good resting place for us to hangout for the weekend (since it was July 4th weekend, there were no campgrounds available closer to Sequoia). I Googled the nearest KOA in the area and there were no vacancies; next, I Googled the nearest campground and found River Run RV Park. I called the park, the young lady was VERY nice and she stated that they had spaces available. As we drove to the campground, we hit a dead-end at a RV salvage yard. I looked at Dillon and he looked at me…we both said, “If this place is not good, we’ll get a hotel for the night”. To our surprise, the River Run RV Park was superb!!! The place is tucked away behind all the chain hotels, nestled along side a nice river. The gate was black iron and the road was newly paved. The young lady greeted us, offered us a few spaces near the pool and she didn’t take payment. She said, “You guys have had a long drive, so go get your camper set up and we’ll take care of it tomorrow”). Dillon smiled after hearing this because he was ready to get in the pool with the other children running around the park.


After getting the GO set-up and meeting our neighbors, we made our way to the pool and it did not disappoint. Dillon is a “young swimmer”, so he was a little timid about getting in until he saw the other boys just jump in and start swimming. This is where the magic happened…I watched my son who didn’t  know how to swim 19 days ago swim the entire pool starting in the deep section. I was a PROUD father and, of course, I have videos of him from start to finish. During our pool visit, we met a family who traveled from the East Coast (Miami). They had been saving for this cross-country trip for a while and they finally did it! As always, Dillon invited them to breakfast (he invites any and everyone to break bread with us). The next morning, I cooked breakfast (pancakes, sausage, eggs and potatoes) for eleven people (Dillon invited our neighbors too). After eating breakfast, we decided to stay another night before going to Sequoia National Park. Dillon met more friends and our Sunday was shaping up pretty good. My body was tired after driving across the country, so I took time to rest and read up on the history of Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks. 


The next day, we packed up and started our journey to see the GIANT trees in Sequoia (we didn’t know much about Sequoia, but we heard about the tree big enough that cars were allowed to drive through. Once we got to thru the park entrance, we stopped at the visitor’s center to get the Junior Ranger booklet. While there, Dillon held court telling the other children all about our trip and trying to answer all the questions about the parks wildlife (half of his answers were wrong, but he was trying). 


Seven thousand feet later, we were driving up a winding road and stopping along the way to take a few photos. As you can imagine, we both asked, “Where are these GIANT trees?” Just minutes after, we drove around a curve and there they were …HUGE Sequoia Trees!!! We pulled over, jumped out the truck and took all types of photos. We were amazed…it was like a fairytale or something I had seen while watching a Jolly Green Giant commercial. We proceeded up the mountain and stopped at the Giant Tree Museum (very impressive). The drive-thru tree was damaged during a storm, so we were not able to see it. However, we did take a lot of photos and we took a bus tour to the tree that allowed us to WALK-THRU (pretty freaking amazing).


After having peace with the trees, we decided to camp in Sequoia. Since all the traditional campgrounds were full, we were told to camp at Big Meadows (not a campground, but a tent campsite). Big Meadows is TOTALLY different from KOAs & River Run Campground. There was no restroom, no shower, no electricity, no water or lights…it was COLD at night, but the location we selected was beautiful with a view of a snowy mountain in July. I said to Dillon, “This is what you called shownuff camping baby.” He looked at me and said, “Like cavemen” lol. We met a cool young couple who had just gotten married and were on their honeymoon (I gave them some marriage advice). We also met a Russian fella camping with his two children (he was reconnecting with his children since he travels for business…similar to what I was doing with Dillon). I cooked salmon, shrimp and potatoes on our Fire X Disc grill and it was good too! As we all sat around the campfire, I told the young couple I would sing a song to celebrate their marriage, but out of nowhere, the Russian fella started signing Johnny Cash lolololol (and he sounded exactly like JC). Yep, he one-up’d me for sure and it was super cool! After singing, Dillon fell asleep…normally the heater would be blasting, but this time there was no heat and it was freezing. After putting out the fire, I climbed in the camper next to Dillon to snuggle. Through the clear window, I looked up and the sky was clear. I thanked God for the time he had given me with my son and I was also thinking of our escape route in case a bear wanted us for a late night snack ;). 


Our first night camping off the grid was a success! I cooked breakfast (bacon and eggs). We packed up and headed to Hume Lake, where we day camped along the lake (such a beautiful place). After lunch (sandwiches), we packed up and traveled to Yosemite!!! Before leaving Sequoia, we saw a July 4th parade and stopped by the ranger station where Dillon was sworn in again for his 4th Junior Ranger badge. 




As a kid, I had always seen post cards featuring Yosemite National Park. I actually didn’t think the place was real, but boy was I absolutely wrong. While Dillon slept during the drive up, I woke him as we entered the Yosemite Valley. Once we drove through the first tunnel, there was a sign that said, “Slow for crossing pedestrians”. We looked to our left and saw a huge waterfall. The water was raging off the cliff and it was pretty cool. We drove along rivers that would be seen on ETV and the scenery was majestic. The air was clean and the people were in awwwwwwwww (so were we). Once at the base, we visited the park, walked around and took lots of photos. Once again, Dillon gave me the history of the park that I didn’t know (I felt like the child on this trip lol). 


After visiting the park and viewing the theater, we decided we would try another night of “off the grid camping”. The weather was a little warmer, so all was fair. Just like Sequoia, the campgrounds near Yosemite were full, but we found a spot outside of the park (Sweet Water). We rolled in, dropped our $22 in the pole (it’s the honor system) and proceeded to our spot. When I parked, I noticed a big brown box with a sign that read, “Bear Box…Store Your Food”. My eyes got really big and I said to Dillon, “I’m not sure this is our type of spot and he said, “Right on, Dad”. Nevertheless, we stayed because I asked the campground host if they had seen any bears in the area and she replied, “No, not at all, but we have seen deer and a baby bobcat”.


Later, Dillon met some friends. Just as the darkness arrived, Dillon and his new friend saw deer running thru the campground. After snuggling on another cool night, we packed up and traveled to Manteca, CA to visit a client. We had not taken a shower in two days, so I didn’t want to stay long. After two hours, we left and drove through Sacramento to Mt Shasta, CA. On our way to Oregon, we stopped here because I wanted Dillon to meet my Appalachian State University classmate, Linwood Byron Mathes, who lives 8 minutes away in Weed, CA. I’ll post about our time here in a few days…just know that the KOA, Linwood and his family treated us like GOLD! 


I was hoping to leave at 6am today, but Dillon wanted to sleep in. I don’t blame him, he’s been on the road with me for almost a month and we still have a few more weeks to go. We will leave and travel 4hrs to Eugene, OR (home of the Oregon Ducks). We’ll visit the Ducks facilities, but I’ll also introduce Dillon to another friend, Moe Williams, who lives nearby in Portland. YES, we are still excited and YES we plan to go further WEST! 


Again, thanks for following us! Leave us a message in the comments below…we love hearing from you!

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35 thoughts on “Dillon & Earl on the GO: Central California Edition

  1. Looks like you are having a blast! I am a teacher, so you know I can benefit from this amazing relaxing chair! I would even be tempted to use it in my classroom as my desk chair?

  2. Dillon and Earl are the sine qua non of all that SylvanSport is: playful, fun, adventurous, nature-loving, smart, travel-savvy, purposeful, environmentally-conscious, and most of all camp-loving peeps! Have really enjoyed following you all on Facebook across the country and the enthusiasm and warm style. THANKS for lighting up my wall with all-things-GO!

  3. Hey Dillon & Earl! What an adventure you’re having! I really enjoyed this read and I’m super jealous! One day, I hope to get out and see the places you’re visiting. Happy trails from New England!

  4. Hey Dillon and Earl! I am so happy, jealous, amazed, wistful, curious, proud, interested, expectant, and did I mention jealous, about your journey. I want to do this in my Go, but that may not happen for me. SO, I enjoy reading of your adventures, almost as much as being there myself. You have gone many miles, seen beautiful people and places…and you will never forget this. So proud of you, hope someday I get to shake your hands! Prayers for continued safety and further adventure. <3. Martha Sue, fellow Go-er.

  5. I am so happy to see you get to share this adventure with your son. I love to see your pictures and all the sights to get to experience. I especially love that grill/griddle you are using. Be safe, and may you both be blessed with great memories.

  6. Hi Dillon & Earl:

    GO West young men! But then come back to the Southeast. Have a great trip and be safe on the road!

  7. Looks like you have having a great time. We (including our 6 year old daughter) saw a bear when we were in Yosemite over 4th of July weekend. Everyone loved our Go! We call her Callie, since we live in California. Safe travels! Bethany

  8. Amazing Father & Son life experience!! Like Dr. Seuss says,
    “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

    Today is your day.
    You’re off to Great Places!
    You’re off and away!

    You have brains in your head.
    You have feet in your shoes
    You can steer yourself
    Any direction you choose.
    You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
    And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

  9. Team Earl & Dillon! You’re traveling in such style and certainly we expected some extra time in California. Two southern gentlemen being “The GO” guys Hollywood needed. Enjoy and we can’t wait for the movie!

  10. I wish we could join you on your adventure! You are seeing so many wonderful places. Everyone who sees our GO here in the Northeast loves it. We have handed out many cards!

  11. I wish we could travel with you! You are seeing so many wonderful places. Everyone who sees our Go here in the Northeast loves it. We have handed out many cards!

  12. Love watching your trip and all the awesome stops! Just took my 1st trip with my 3 boys in the sport go and it was epic! Happy trails!

  13. This was a great read! This experience will be one to reminisce about for years to come. It makes me want to take my kids out on a grand adventure! Thanks so much for sharing!

  14. Rumor has it that you guys need a little boost from time to time. Is that true? Following ‘the adventures of Dillon & Earl on the GO’ obviously, has inspired many. You two are rock stars! Keep on pressing on allow us to live life through you as we remain in our depredation tanks… Not! I’m planning on making my FordE250 into a camper, plop it in a relatively static camp as the first leg of my remote modular abode and snap a GO to bug out deeper. You’re postings keep the dream alive!

  15. I love this. What a great thing to be able to be together and have all these wonderful experiences. I hope to visit these places that I am seeing pictures of. Enjoy!

  16. You guys are doing it right! Congratulations on the Park Ranger badge! I make merit badges for my friends who camp with me – such as the hanging out badge and the gracefully awkward badge! Lol!

    1. Dillon, congratulatiobs on earning your Junior Ranger work! What a way to grow! Carolyn’s comment about making funny camping badges for her buddies made me think of your Dad. It sounds like he could use Super Chef badge for his camp cooking, and maybe a some sort of safe driver badge too?
      It really made me happy to discover your blog today. Thank you, Earl and Go. It brought many memories to me of wonderful trips camping off the grid. Enjoy the stars, the streams, and the chipmunks, and lots of wonderful hiking!

  17. You guys are obviously having an amazing time, together you will keep the world spinning, have fun be safe and keep on smiling!

  18. That camper is so awesome. Love to see it in action. You both look like you are having a fantastic time. Can’t wait to see you in Colorado.

  19. Experiences, especially out in nature are the very best kind to share with our chilfren, our families, all those we love. I’m so envious of your amazing mega trip, I hope there is still much fun and many adventures ahead! Happy trails!

  20. Adventures like this rarely get to happen for a father and son; the hustle and bustle of our daily lives interferes with making memories like you two have gotten to do. No matter what happens after this adventure ends, you both will be able to look back at the pictures and relive these times together, from the people that you met to the sights and wildlife that you got to experience. Relish these memories as these are the sorts of things that bring as together when we start to drift apart!

    1. Hi Mike. We’re excited to let you know that you are the winner of the ENO Lounger DL Chair! We’ll shoot you an email and get your new chair out to you. Thanks for playing along and your great words of encouragement!

  21. I’m always amazed by what I see in nature. Adventures like yours are tragically few. I look back at my family vacations and wish we would have done more. Keep venturing on and enjoy!

  22. We are just about to take our new GO out for her maiden voyage -camping in the beautiful Pacific Northwest! Heard you all might be in our neck of the woods soon… hope to see you in the Eugene area…

  23. What an awesome trip! My kids and I are traveling from Canada down to Washington and Oregon in our new GO. Looking forward to some awesome adventures along the way

  24. What an awesome adventure and camper to do it in! We absolutely love our new GO and looking forward having multiple adventures like yours.
    Thanks so much for sharing, we picked up a lot of great tips!

  25. Nice to meet the two of you. Dillion sounds like he’s having an awesome time with you Earl. There’s nothing better than making memories with someone you love. It’s great that Dillion gets some culture in his life while he is young. I wish that all you’ll dreams come true.

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