The 4-3-2 Rule

Posted September 13, 2016 – Narrated by Carmen (updated December 2017)
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I don’t know where we are, but we’re not in California anymore.”  Jim squeezed the brakes for a steep descent, “The town of Doris is fifteen minutes back.”

What a disappointment. It was Stateline Squirrel’s first day on the job.

How did she miss this?!

It’s been eight weeks since we left San Diego, a couple of miles from the Tijuana border near Baja Mexico, and today is our first day out of California.

We’d probably find reasons to white-knuckle our beloved state even without the heat and truck problems.

Since leaving Mammoth, The Beast – our 2014, Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel – has been diagnosed with a faulty catalytic converter which 18,000 other trucks are in line for all over the US.

So, we’ve been advised not to drive it – much less tow 7,500 lbs – in 90+ heat and to sit tight and wait in line for five to six weeks for repairs. Yeah, right … So, we drive in the cool early hours of the morning and, always – after 100 miles – the engine light advises us to seek maintenance.

It’s a squirrely problem to have to drive from Ram dealership to Ram dealership – just to be on the safe side – where they will, at least, reset the light.

Our current plan is to take it easy and slow ’til we get to Mississippi in October.

Yesterday we were camped at the foot of Mount Shasta soaking in the vortex, the splendid threshold of California.

Middays were in the low 80’s but as evening set in, the temperature dropped into the mid-40’s.

For six days we tested the water … gingerly sticking our toes in, trying to imagine what it will be like to experience weather patterns that are different from our usual eternal spring and summer.

Swimming pool at Mt. Shasta KOA campground where Carmen swam every day in 50 degree water temp. For some reason, she was always the only one in the pool.

Cold, frost, snow, sleet, hail – are novelties for San Diegans. You either drive a distance to see them or you immediately run outside and take a photo before the aberration dissipates and all is back to Camelot.

Leaving Mt. Shasta

Now, we’re in cold territory where community pools, campgrounds, gardens and other attractions actually close for the season.

This campground near Klamath Falls will close this Sunday and reopen next Spring.

Like salmon traveling upstream, we will be driving against Snowbirds who are migrating south. But, we need to make it to Twin Falls, Idaho to visit Jim’s sister, Delores and her husband Richard. They’ve been accepting our mail and Amazon deliveries.

We also want to visit Jim’s 93-year old Aunt Lillian in North Platt, Nebraska. This will put the 4-3-2 plan to the test.

It might seem like a strange regimen, but as new full-timers, we’re exploring the virtues and pitfalls of the 4-3-2 Rule: drive no more than four hours a day; stop by 3 PM; and stay 2 weeks.

UPDATE DECEMBER 2017: Click here is a more in-depth look at Jim’s 4-3-2 Rule.

Only twice have we departed from 4-3-2 to-date. The first time was in Riverside, due to extreme heat – over 110 in the first few days of the heat dome…

Camping near Riverside California at Rancho Jurupa

…then, again, last week at Shasta Lake because we we’re unequipped with a small aircraft to fly us and our kayaks down to the new water level.

Sadly, the water level at Lake Shasta is 50 feet below normal conditions

Most places we’ve stayed for at least a week…

…and we enjoyed a maximum 14-day stay in beautiful Tahoe … someday, we shall return.

Camping in South Lake Tahoe, only a 5 minute walk to the lake to kayak

Even though it’s unseasonably warm for Klamath, these dense, surprisingly frigid gusts blast through the tree tops, signaling the climactic tone for our journey north.


Jim is preparing – should we be stranded by a sudden blizzard or ice storm – studying up on how to manage extreme cold in an Airstream.

Before we pull out Sunday, I need to check the under-bed storage for our winter clothes. I cant remember what we donated and what we kept – if anything.

I have the sniffles … throat feels scratchy. Jim’s in the same condition. Meanwhile, Pico our feral, Katrina-rescue chihuahua is going native in these silent and magical woods. He thinks he’s got the stuff – ain’t scared o’nuthin’ …

Here we are, Oregon. Next stop, Idaho. Stateline Squirrel (AKA: Fetchy Squirrel) will be back on the job.

If you want to see our exact route, click here.

*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.

4 thoughts on “The 4-3-2 Rule

  1. I recently found your blog and have now read it all and waiting for new installments. You and your husband are around our age so we can relate. While we are not full timing as of yet, my husband did recently retire and is now pushing me to do likewise.
    We are also new owners of an airstream that we bought earlier this year. I fell in love with the limited edition Pendelton and my hubby said ok. We love the rear hatch and have opened it many a time to cool off the interiors when setting up camp, to enjoy the view and outdoors when the bugs are bad, and makes storing the fishing rods easy too. Don’t regrets the purchase at a all!
    I would like to buy a surpass rack but have been unable to find any. Can you tell me where you purchased yours?

    1. Gina, glad to meet you! My wife has been talking about the Pendleton since it was announced. Hopefully we will meet up some day on the road and we can take a closer look, since it has many of the features we love. Ours is a 2001, but we have updated many features with modern items like LED lights, a new battery inverter, replaced old fantastic fans with new part, etc. You can purchase the Surpass rack at our store, . We try to put stuff there we like and use. Please, let’s keep in touch!

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