Dinner Without Donna

Donna had a busy day Tuesday. She hammered away at her book deadline and also had to prepare for her trip to Atlanta. She had an early flight scheduled out of San Diego to appear on television programs aired via satellite in a number of markets across the country from a setting in Atlanta. She was speaking as an organizing and decluttering expert.

She took time out in the afternoon to go with Sini for a manicure. When they left, I headed over to the Offshore Tavern and Grill for a couple of cold ones with the guys. Around 5pm Donna texted me saying they would be done in five minutes.

I found a table for us and they joined me at the tavern for dinner. Having dinner out would allow more time for Donna to finish packing for her trip. Sini ordered the taco Tuesday special and said it was good.

Taco Tuesday special

Donna and I went for our usual – the poke (poh-key) plate. This is sushi grade tuna served over chopped cabbage and scallions with Asian dressing and fried won-ton wrappers with sliced avocado on top. It was delicious.

Poke plate

On the way out of the tavern I saw a cool Volkswagen Beetle from the early 70s. These used to be a common sight around here.

Cars like this were once a common sight

Wednesday morning Donna was up and out of here early. The forecast called for warmer weather, but it didn’t happen. We had a low overcast ceiling and cool temperatures most of the day. The high finally reached the lower 60s once the clouds departed around 3pm.

The Ocean Beach Recreation Center was closed while they refinish the flooring, so I didn’t get out for pickleball. In fact, I didn’t get out at all. I spent most of the day reading a book

Before I met Donna, I was single guy for five years and mostly cooked for myself. I had a few favorites I would make, but nothing like the dishes Donna prepares. Over the last 10+ years we’ve been together, I’ve been completely spoiled. I handle the grill, but other than that I don’t cook much.

Wednesday night I was on my own for dinner. Donna anticipated this and bought a frozen chicken pot pie at Trader Joe’s. I like pot pie and I can handle cooking one. I even know how to run the microwave/convection oven now! I preheated the convection oven to 400 degrees. Then I wrapped foil around the rim of the pot pie so it wouldn’t burn the thin crust there and popped it in the oven. An hour later, dinner was ready.

Chicken pot pie hot out of the oven

Dinner is served

Of course a meal like this deserves a good brew. I paired it with Duet IPA from Alpine Beer Company located in east San Diego county.

Duet IPA

Today I plan to play pickleball in the morning at the Pacific Beach Recreation Center. This afternoon I should do some maintenance work on the Spyder that I put off yesterday. We have clear skies and it should be a warmer day, so I can’t use the cold weather excuse.

This evening’s dinner plan is pizza delivery from our favorite place, Mountain Mike’s. Donna should be home by 7pm.

 

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter

I mentioned in my last post an electrical issue Sini was having with her coach. On Sunday morning before we left for the Chargers game, she told me most of her outlets weren’t working. I took a quick look and checked for tripped circuit breakers on the 120-volt panel, but didn’t find any. I checked the breaker at the pedestal and it was fine. Then I noticed her microwave/convection oven had power. She told me at least one outlet had power as well. This led me to suspect the ground fault circuit interrupter, but I didn’t have time to deal with it.

Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) are required anytime a 120-volt electrical outlet is placed near a water source such as a wall in the bathroom or kitchen near a faucet and sink. The GFCI senses the amount of current running through the two legs of the outlet. Modern outlets have two different size openings that match the blades of the plug on the end of a power cord. One blade is larger – that’s the neutral side. The other is the hot side. There’s a third opening that’s round and it’s the ground lug.

The alternating current running through the neutral and hot leads should match. If there’s a discrepancy in the amount of current between the two sides, it means current is finding another path to ground. This could be a very dangerous situation. If you are using an electrical appliance and it gets wet, it’s possible for the water to conduct electricity from an un-insulated connection to your body and then ground through your feet. This could electrocute you and result in death. The GFCI senses the discrepancy in current and acts as a breaker to shut off the power supply.

Many GFCI’s are wired to receive the incoming power and pass it along down the circuit to other outlets and appliances. Since all of the power running through that circuit runs through the GFCI first, it provides protection for all of the outlets and appliances connected downstream of it.

When your RV has 120-volt power to some outlets or appliances but not others, the GFCI is suspect. I tried to reset Sini’s GFCI with the reset button on the face of the outlet. It wouldn’t reset. This could mean there’s a short to ground somewhere along the line or it could be a bad GCFI. A new GCFI costs under $20, so I made a run to Ace Hardware in Pacific Beach and picked up a new one.

I shut off the power supply at the pedestal and removed the old GFCI – it only takes four screws to remove the cover plate and GFCI. Then I loosened the wire receptacle screws on the sides of the GFCI and pulled the wires out. The wires are very stiff solid copper. Sini’s GFCI provides power to the bathroom outlet and two additional circuits. So, it had three neutral wires with white insulation and three hot wires with black insulation. Additionally there was a bare copper ground wire screwed to a lug on the bottom of the GFCI.

I wired up the new GFCI and closed the breaker at the pedestal to restore power. It didn’t work. This had me scratching my head. I spent the better part of an hour trying to trace the circuit – without a schematic – to find the problem. Nothing made sense to me. It should’ve worked.

Finally, I decided to start over. I shut off the power again and removed the new GFCI. I carefully separated the wires and had Sini restore the power. With my Fluke multimeter, I measured voltage on the neutral and hot wires. Then I realized what the problem was. Sini shut off the power again. When I removed the original GFCI, the wires were very stiff and I thought they remained in the same position. I wired them to the new GFCI and didn’t give it much thought. But here’s the thing. The GFCI has two silver screws with stab-in receptacles on one side for the neutral wires and two brass screws with stab-in receptacles on the other side for the hot wires. One set of neutral and hot receptacles is marked “Line” the other set is marked “Load.” One neutral wire and one hot wire has the incoming 120-volts from the power pedestal. These wires must be connected to the line receptacles. The other two neutral and hot wires going to the rest of the circuit must be connected to the load receptacles.

I must have inadvertently switched the line and load neutral wires when I wired the GFCI. This won’t work. The strange thing is the new GFCI has an indicator lamp. When it’s green, it means there’s voltage available and all is good. If it’s mis-wired, it should show up red. I had a green light all the time. Anyway, I rewired the GFCI and turned on the power at the pedestal.

GFCI wiring

GFCI wiring

I hit the reset button on the GFCI and it clicked like it should and we had power down the circuit to all receptacles. Yay! It should have been a 15-20 minute job, but I spent over an hour because of a careless wiring mistake.

Later, when I turned on the Monday Night Football game Sini brought over a six-pack of brew from Mother Earth Brewing called Cali Creamin’ ale. It tastes like cream soda. I sipped one at the start of the game, but I’m not a big soda drinker and I think one is my limit for this style of ale.

Cali Creamin' Ale

Cali Creamin’ Ale

We had cool weather yesterday with the temperature in the low 60s. There was a chance of rain, but it never appeared here at Mission Bay. Today the forecast calls for more of the same before it warms up again. I plan to play pickleball this morning and do some Spyder maintenance in the afternoon.

Donna has a busy day working and preparing for a trip to Atlanta tomorrow. She’ll be up early tomorrow for her flight and she’ll return Thursday night.

 

*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to make a purchase, you pay the same price as usual and  I’ll earn a few pennies for the referral. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!

Tailgate Birthday Party

When I made my usual happy hour stop at the Offshore Tavern and Grill Friday, I shot a quick photo of one of the regulars. Lawrence is originally from England and he likes to stop at the pub for a couple of pints almost every day. What’s remarkable about him is that he’s 95 years old, sharp as a tack and gets around fine. Maybe the folks at Sierra Nevada Brewery are on to something when they say beer is good for your health.

Lawrence

Lawrence

Donna went out for a longer run on Saturday. She’s on a training schedule to run a 15k race in January. She ran seven miles and then rode a city bike 5 miles back to the park. Later, Donna, Sini and I went down to Seaport Village. Donna bought a Chargers shirt there and we went to the Top of the Hyatt bar on the 40th floor of the hotel to take in the views and have a drink. I shot a few pictures, but taking photos through glass windows really doesn’t do it justice.

View to the northwest

View to the northwest

View to the south

View to the south

Looking directly west across the bay, Coronado Island and Pacific Ocean

Looking southwest across the bay, Coronado Island and Pacific Ocean

Donna and Sini relaxing

Donna and Sini relaxing

Saturday night Donna made chicken tikka masala for dinner. It was a new recipe and it came out tasting very much like an authentic Indian restaurant version.

Donna working her majic at the kitchen counter

Donna working her magic at the kitchen counter

Chicken tiki masala

Chicken tikka masala

Sunday was Sini’s birthday. To celebrate, I bought four tickets to the Chargers versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers game. On Sunday morning, while Donna was out for another run, I borrowed Sini’s car and bought a snack tray at the grocery store. We left just before 10am and drove downtown to pick up her son, Beau.

We arrived at Qualcomm Stadium around 10:30am and met up with some friends from my high school days. We tailgated with Gary Stemple and Rosemary Neff (nee Burns) and a few others. Beau brought an assortment of craft beer and Rosemary had Sculpin Pineapple IPA from Ballast Point Brewing where her son works. Gary grilled chicken kabobs that he picked up from Siesel’s Market and Rosemary made an arugula salad with beets and goat cheese. Everything was delicious!

Rosemary, Gary, me, Donna and Sini

Rosemary, Gary, me, Donna and Sini

Mitch Pelegrin is San Diego’s most well known Chargers fan. He’s at every game in the northwest end zone with his face painted. The TV cameras always seem to find him. He had his tailgate party set up a few parking spaces away from us.

Mitch Pelegrin and me

Mitch Pelegrin and me

We had a good time but the Buccaneers prevailed over the home team.

Donna was the designated driver and dropped Sini and Beau off downtown where they were going to watch the Seahawks game and have dinner. We came home and zoned out after a long day of fun times.

The weather was fabulous yesterday – the temperature reached the 70s with calm winds and clear skies. Today will be cooler with a 20% chance of rain showers this evening. At some point, I’ll have to take a look at Sini’s coach. I think she has a bad ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). This is cutting out power to several outlets, including her TV. I’ll probably have to make a run to the hardware store to pick up a new GFCI and install it.

 

Epic Fail in the Closet

I decided it was time to get busy on Wednesday. We’ve been here at Mission Bay RV Resort for about six weeks and I had a number of projects on my list that I hadn’t tackled yet.

First up was a repair to the closet hanger rod. The hanger rod is a 1-1/4 inch wooden dowel six and half feet long. It has a support in the center made from wood that the rod passes through. The support is suspended from the ceiling where it’s attached with wood screws.

The weight of the clothing on hangers puts a heavy load on the rod. When we’re driving down the road, bumps can put a lot of strain on it. The hanger support broke once before and I repaired it. It broke again, but this time the hanger rod support pulled free of the ceiling. The wood screws securing it had stripped from the wood.

Hangar rod support pulled from ceiling

Hangar rod support pulled from ceiling

I thought I could use inserts in the ceiling and re-attach the support with screws. I envisioned a plastic insert with large, coarse threads that would bite into the wood in the ceiling and provide a sturdy material for the screws to attach to.

I went to the Ace Hardware store in Pacific Beach where the friendly hardware man helped me out. When I told him what I had in mind, he said he didn’t think the type of insert I was talking about would work. He said they’re designed for drywall and he didn’t think they were strong enough to thread into wood. He suggested a steel insert and machine screws to make the repair.

Threaded steel insert and machine screws - original wood screw on bottom

Threaded steel insert and machine screws – original wood screw on bottom

I removed the support and installed the inserts. This took longer than I thought it would – getting the inserts to thread into the wood was a real pain. I could see that the drywall type wouldn’t have worked. When I screwed the support back in place with the machine screws I gave it a tug. The inserts pulled out of the wood. Failure!

By then it was 2:30pm and I had to get cracking on the Traeger. The night before I had purchased babyback ribs from Siesel’s Market and prepped them. We planned on having company for dinner and I needed to cook the ribs on the Traeger wood pellet fired smoker/grill. We invited Sini and her son Beau, John and Sharon Hinton (On the Road of Retirement) and their daughter, Katie, who is visiting.

I had the ribs ready a little after 5pm – I’m fine tuning my rib preparation and think they’re coming out pretty darn good. Donna made cornbread and Asian coleslaw, Sini brought a tossed salad and John and Sharon brought green beans with sesame seeds. Sini’s son Beau had to take a rain check due to a meeting that came up.

It gets dark early so we had electric candles and a lantern on the table. We enjoyed the food and conversation – and beer. Not only does it get dark early, it really cools off after the sun sets. It was probably about 60 degrees, but it felt cooler. Around 7:30pm everyone was ready to move inside and retreated to their respective coaches. I neglected to take any photos.

On Thursday, I came up with plan “B” for the closet. I made a drawing and a list of goods. I rode the Spyder to Home Depot where I found lengths of 3/4″ x 1-1/2″ oak boards. I had them cut to the lengths I needed. I also bought some 2″ #6 wood screws.

Instead of suspending the center support for the hanger rod from the ceiling, I was building a post that would support it from the closet floor like a crutch. I drilled pilot holes where needed in the wood, then fastened it together with the wood screws. I like to scrape the screw threads across a bar of soap before I screw them into the pilot holes. This provides dry lubrication and makes the screw thread into the wood easier.

The crutch type support was made with two 47″ lengths of oak board attached together with six-inch lengths of oak board. The original support is 3/4″ wide, so putting the six-inch pieces of 3/4″ oak between the two 47″-long boards spaced them apart perfectly to fit the support. It’s not the most elegant solution, but it’s sturdy as a rock now.

Not the most elegant

Not the most elegant

Rock steady

Rock steady

12_1clst5

With that job done, I showered and headed over to Dan Diego’s for a cold one with the guys. Dan Diego’s features local brews on tap but they also have a large selection of imported bottled beer. They have a lot of Belgian beer made in monasteries – these beers tend to be strong, flavorful and expensive. Some of them run $10 for an 11.2 ounce bottle. They aren’t big sellers for them – probably due to the price. The management decided it was time to move some of the inventory, so they put together special pricing on about a dozen bottled beers.

One of the specials was Duvel Tripel Hop. This is a tasty, strong ale and they had it priced at $3/bottle. I couldn’t pass it up.

Duvel tripel hop

Duvel tripel hop

After a couple of cold ones, I came home to watch Dallas versus Minnesota on Thursday Night Football. After the game Donna relaxed with a couple of mindless TV programs. She’s been pushing hard to meet her book deadline and had a few other assignments as well. She laid back and Ozark the cat joined her.

Donna and Ozark kicking back

Donna and Ozark kicking back

Ozark gets closer

Ozark gets closer

Today we have sunny, blue skies and the temperature should reach the low 70s. I have a couple of chores to attend to, but nothing too heavy. Life is good.

The Green Flash

Mission Bay RV Resort fills up every year for the Thanksgiving weekend. The park had been fairly quiet since Halloween but it was full on Thanksgiving. Security Supervisor Thomas told me that 70 rigs checked in on the day before Thanksgiving. That’s more than a quarter of the park’s capacity. Kids had the week off from school and many parents had a four-day weekend.

On Sunday, there was a mass exodus as many of the rigs packed up and left. Looking around, I would guess more than a third of the sites are empty now. There aren’t many kids here as they’re back in school and parents are back to work.

Lots of empty sites

Lots of empty sites

Another change occurred after the wet weekend. The strips at the back of the sites are usually grassy. This year most of the grass is gone and it’s just dirt. They must have seeded it at some point. After the rain over the weekend grass is sprouting now.

New grass sprouting behind our site

New grass sprouting behind our site

With the RV park quiet and not much foot traffic, it seems like the grass will have a good chance to grow.

We had periods of rain Monday afternoon. Sini gave me a couple of bottles of beer. I enjoyed an IPA from Green Flash Brewing called Soul Style. They bill it as a tropical flavor. However, it doesn’t contain any fruit or fruit juice – the flavor is strictly from the hops used in the brewing process. It was a good beer and I drank it while watching Monday Night Football.

By the way, the name Green Flash refers to a seldom seen phenomenon as the sun sets. Under the right conditions just as the sun drops below the horizon, the red or orange sun rays appear green for about a second. That’s the green flash – it’s most likely to be seen when the sun drops below the horizon in the ocean.

Donna made a chicken enchilada soup Monday. She had it  in the slow cooker all afternoon. It was delicious and just right on a rainy evening.

Chicken tortilla soup

Chicken enchilada soup

We awoke to a cloudless blue sky on Tuesday. The wind which had been blowing for three days had dissipated. Beautiful weather ahead! I rode the Spyder to the Pacific Beach Recreation Center and played pickleball for two hours. It was nice to be out and about and get some exercise.

The only chore I accomplished was dumping and flushing our holding tanks. Before I dumped, I had to make a repair to our Camco Rhinoflex sewer hose. Last time I dumped the tank, I saw a couple of drops of liquid come from the hose fitting. I unscrewed the fitting from the end of the hose and applied plumber’s grease – a clear silicone grease sometimes called faucet grease – to the fitting and screwed it back together. Problem solved. No one wants a leaky sewer hose!

Last night Donna made a new recipe – crispy dijon tilapia. It was good, but Donna wants to make it with a flakier fish filet next time, maybe rock fish.

Dijon crusted tilapia with asparagus and potatoes

Dijon crusted tilapia with asparagus and potatoes

Today we should see a high temperature of 70 degrees. The weather forecast for the coming week looks great. I have a list of projects piling up. Today I’ll have to get busy and start tackling a few things I’ve been putting off. After all, I’m not on vacation, right? It’s a lifestyle.

 

*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to make a purchase, you pay the same price as usual and  I’ll earn a few pennies for the referral. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!

Southern California Winter Storm

Over the weekend, the local meteorologists on the news broadcasts were all talking about a winter storm. For someone who spent multiple winters in the north Cascades of Washington and also in Michigan, it’s almost funny.

Here’s the situation. Low pressure cells northeast and east of San Diego pulled the jet stream down the coast. The jet stream dipped all the way down over southern California. This brought moisture from the northwest, resulting in rain all along the coastal areas which then made its way east. It also brought wind – sustained winds of 15-20 mph with gusts of 30-40 mph.

If you saw the NCAA football game between Notre Dame and USC at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, they had several video clips of the palm trees bent by the wind and periods of heavy rain in the first half of the game.

Here at Mission Bay, we had gusty winds and maybe a quarter inch of rain. The rain fell hard at times, but mostly it was short showers off and on. A few miles east of here and in parts of North County, more than half an inch was recorded. San Diego is an area of micro-climates. The coastal areas are usually more moderate than the mesas and valleys to the east.

Waterfowl riding the storm out at Rose Creek inlet

Waterfowl riding the storm out at Rose Creek inlet

Rain and wind continued on Sunday. Donna took advantage of a break in the rain to go out for a training run. For me, it was a good day to watch football. Some areas had significant amounts of water over the road and we saw news reports of many car accidents as drivers didn’t slow down and aqua-planed, losing control. Another system is supposed to come through the area late this afternoon or evening. Then we can expect to be back to the usual clear skies and warmer weather – the highs only reached the lower 60s all weekend. This was considered a wintry blast.

Last night Donna was watching NCIS on TV. In one scene, I noticed a guitar on a stand in the background of the living room. Not just any guitar – it was a Pelham blue Gibson Reverse Firebird. That’s a fairly obscure guitar. Next to it was what appeared to be a vintage Epiphone tube amplifier. Whoever was responsible for the set must be a guitar geek. I wonder how many viewers caught it. I guess since I did, I must be a guitar geek.

The weekly football pool I enter has been tough. The way this pool works is you have to assign a point value to each game. We only use the Sunday and Monday games, no Thursday Night Football. That meant there were 13 games in this week’s pool. Each game has to have a number from one to 13 – you only use each number one time. If you add up the numbers from one to 13, the total is 91. You want to assign the lower numbers to games that are toss-ups and the higher numbers to the ones you’re most sure of.

Everyone starts out with 91 points. For each game in which you picked the losing team, the point value you assigned to that game is subtracted. At the end of the weekend, the person with highest number of points wins. Once again, I picked nine winners out of 12 games on Sunday – but I lost too many points. Seattle, Arizona and Carolina let me down. I had 11 points on the Seattle game – that killed my chances. Oh well, there’s always next week.

It’s supposed to stay dry for most of the day, but the temperature will remain in the low to mid-60s. Donna is very busy trying to meet her book deadline. I think I’ll get out for some pickleball in Ocean Beach before the next storm blows through.

A Nice Walk

I returned the rental car to Enterprise on Friday after writing my post. The Enterprise agency is on the northwest corner of Garnet Avenue and Mission Bay Drive. After I dropped the car off there, I walked back to Mission Bay RV Resort – a distance of about a mile and a half.

This gave me the opportunity to stop at the Chase Bank across the street from Enterprise. Then I walked to the west end of Figuroa Boulevard where there’s access to the Rose Creek Trail at the end of the street (map).

Access to Rose Creek Trail

Access to Rose Creek Trail

Walking home on the trail, I realized how easy it is to take our surroundings for granted. Being in San Diego at this time of year is a beautiful thing. I took my time walking the trail and enjoyed the scenery. It’s not only people that like the winter weather in San Diego – a large variety of birds winter here.

I saw waterfowl in the creek and snapped a photo of a dapper-looking Western Grebe.

Western Grebe

Western Grebe

I thought about the flora as well. There are trees and flowers here that you don’t see everywhere. Of course palm trees are found throughout southern California.

Palm tree at the park

Palm tree at the RV park

Bird of Paradise plants can be found in gardens here – including the entrance to Mission Bay RV Resort. These flowering plants are indigenous to South Africa but have flourished in temperate climates like we have here.

Bird of Paradise flower at the RV park

Bird of Paradise flower at the RV park

Eucalyptus trees are found throughout San Diego. I don’t recall seeing these trees anywhere else in the country – maybe I just haven’t noticed them.

Eucalyptus tree

Eucalyptus tree

Donna was out for a run and our paths crossed near the park entrance. I gave a wave and continued on. Across from the RV park office is another San Diego sight – City Deco Bikes. These are rental bicycles found at many locations – especially near the beach. You can pay for a 30-minute rental (the minimum) at the bike rack and unlock a bike. You return the bike to any city bike rack and it records the amount of time you had the bike. Donna paid for monthly bike access to reduce the cost and she uses them from time to time. Sometimes when she goes out running, she likes to run to the beach. Then she picks up a city bike and rides back to the RV park and leaves it in the rack here.

City Deco Bike

City Deco Bike

As you can see in the photos, it was a beautiful day for walking. The temperature reached the mid-70s and we had sunny blue skies. This morning it’s overcast with a low ceiling. Rain will move in over the next couple of days and we can only expect to see highs in the low to mid-60s. I’m not complaining though – it’s a great place to be at this time of year.

Turkey Day

Shortly after we arrived in San Diego, I took my favorite watch to Ben Bridge Jewelers in Fashion Valley to have have it serviced. The watchmaker there, Israel Coughlin, had serviced Donna’s watch a couple of years ago.  I have an affinity for mechanical self-winding watches. Their intricate design and precise workmanship fascinates me. They have their drawbacks though. A mechanical watch will never be as accurate as a quartz movement. It also needs to be disassembled, cleaned and lubricated periodically. On the plus side, it doesn’t need a battery.

The heart of a mechanical watch is the balance wheel. Different designs oscillate at different frequencies, ranging from 2.5 hertz to 5 hertz. The balance wheel swings back and forth – for example it rotates clockwise to a certain point, then stops and rotates back counter-clockwise. The full back and forth motion is called an oscillation. The movement in one direction (half an oscillation) is called a vibration.

Bear with me here. A watch with a balance wheel frequency of 2.5 hertz ticks five times per second or 18,000 vibrations per hour (vph). The most common frequency is 4 hertz – 28,800 vph. Some watches are 5 hertz which tick 10 times per second or 36,000 vph. The reason I’m going through all of this is to illustrate how even a slight discrepancy in the oscillation of the balance wheel can add up quickly. A fine mechanical watch may have an error of a couple of minutes per month. When you realize that over 690,000 timing events (ticks) of the watch occur every 24 hours, it’s an amazing feat to keep the total timing error down to a couple of minutes per month.

Israel didn’t service my watch due to the heavy workload he had scheduled. Instead he sent it to the Rolex Factory Service Center. They disassembled the watch completely, put the components through an ultrasonic cleaning process and inspected all of the parts. They polished the case and bracelet, reassembled it with special lubricants and calibrated the balance wheel.

Israel called me Tuesday evening and told me my watch was ready for pick-up. They’d had it for five weeks. So on Wednesday, Donna and I drove to Fashion Valley Mall and picked up the watch. It looks like brand new! The only part they replaced was the bezel – it had a couple of fine scratches and was starting to fade a bit. The polishing of the case and bracelet looks fantastic. I’m glad to have my Rolex GMT Master II back again!

Looks new after the service

Looks new after the service

I had another phone call Tuesday evening. I had reserved a rental car from Enterprise in Pacific Beach a little over a mile away from here. They told me they expected to be extremely busy Wednesday morning – San Diego is one of the nation’s most popular Thanksgiving destinations – and advised me to come early. They were closing at noon on Wednesday and I originally set my pick-up time as 11:30am.

Donna dropped me off at 10am and took the Spyder to pick up some last-minute items at Trader Joe’s. She commented on how empty the Enterprise lot looked. When I went into the office, the manager pulled up my reservation and then said there would be a short wait as they didn’t have any cars but were expecting some soon.

After about 20 minutes of waiting, she asked if I would be willing to take a ride with one of their employees to another location to get the car. They had a car at the Little Italy location just south of the airport. By the time we went there and I got a car and drove back to Mission Bay, I’d been out for over an hour! So much for the advice to come early. I think I would have been better off coming at the original time – maybe they would have had cars by then.

Thursday morning I spatchcocked our Thanksgiving turkey. Spatchcocking is a method of cooking whole fowl by removing the backbone and flattening the breast. This puts the breast, thighs and legs along the same plane and about the same thickness. It cooks more evenly and also takes less time to roast.

Back bone removed

Back bone removed

I spiced the turkey and put it on the Traeger smoker/grill. I set it to the smoke setting which is a cool temperature for 30 minutes.

Seasoned and ready for the Traeger

Seasoned and ready for the Traeger

Then I turned it up to 325 degrees. It took about 15 minutes to reach the cooking temperature and I thought it would take about two hours from there. An hour and a half later, I checked the temperature of the breast with a quick read thermometer and was surprised to find it was 160 degrees.

I took the turkey off of the grill and wrapped it in foil. Then I wrapped the foil package in a towel and put it all in a foil bag designed to keep hot foods hot. The plan was to drive up to Menifee for Thanksgiving dinner with my step-dad Ken and his neighbors Ray and Helen. I was so absorbed in the task, I didn’t stop to take a photo of the turkey – it looked marvelous.

Meanwhile, Sini had brought her golden-doodle dog, Ziggy, over to our place. Our plan was to be dog sitters while Sini went with her sons to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends in Pasadena. We would have Ziggy Thursday and Friday until she returned. Ziggy and Ozark the cat get along fine.

Ziggy - our guest

Ziggy – our guest

I expected to take about 90 minutes to get to Menifee. I didn’t count on stop-and-go traffic on I-15 from south of Escondido all the way to Temecula. This 30-mile stretch took over an hour to cover. It took more than two hours to get to Menifee.

When I unwrapped the turkey, I was disappointed to see the skin, which looked nice and crispy when it came off the grill, had become somewhat rubbery – no doubt from being held in foil for so long. The meat was still plenty warm and I carved the turkey.

No so crispy now

No so crispy now

Donna heated up side dishes in Ken’s kitchen and we all ate together. Ziggy stayed in Ken’s backyard and Donna took her for a couple walks. We had a good time and headed back home around 4:30pm. The ride home was quick – traffic was moving at 75 miles per hour all the way and we made it back in just over an hour.

This morning I have to return the rental car. The weather forecast looks good today – sunny with clear skies and a high in the mid-70s. This weekend’s weather is not so fine looking. The forecast calls for a cold front bringing rain and highs in the 60s.

 

 

 

Preparing for Thanksgiving

Monday was a cool, cloudy day. Showers passed through off and on until well after noon. Donna had an annual check-up appointment in Hillcrest so she decided to take an Uber ride rather than ride the Spyder. I took advantage of the wet weather and rinsed the dirt that had accumulated on our batteries. Washing isn’t allowed here, but with everything wet I figured I could away with a quick rinse job.

I spent most of the day reading. When we had a break in the weather around 2pm, I rode the Spyder to Sprouts Market and bought an 11.5 lb turkey. Our plan is to go to Menifee and have Thanksgiving dinner with my step-dad Ken and his neighbors Helen and Ray.

I’ll spatchcock the turkey and cook it on the Traeger Thursday morning. I think it’ll fit on the grill once I flatten it. Then I’ll wrap it and we’ll make the drive up there. Ken is getting the side dishes.

Donna made a new dinner recipe Monday. She had a pork tenderloin cooking in the slow cooker all afternoon in adobo sauce with chipotle peppers and onion. The result was New Mexico style pulled-pork adobada. She served it over a fried tortilla with a fried egg on top.

Adobada with fried egg

Adobada with fried egg

I enjoyed a Blood Red Orange IPA from Latitude 33 Brewing with it.

Blood Red Orange IPA

Blood Red Orange IPA

Later, during the Monday Night Football game, we snacked on the salami and cheese I bought at the farmers’ market.

Meatmen Flagrant Seed and Ooh Mama spicy salami

Meatmen Flagrant Seed and Ooh Mama spicy salami

Great with pricey French hard cheese

Great with pricey French hard cheese

On Tuesday, the clouds and rain were just a memory as we had clear blue skies and the temperature reached 70 degrees.

When I was up on Sini’s roof to seal the vent pipe last week, I noticed the shrouds that cover her Dometic DuoTherm air conditioners were cracked. This is fairly common. The plastic shrouds become brittle over time from exposure to the sun and the way they’re mounted places undue stress on the mounting points. When you’re driving down the road and hit bumps, the shrouds can flex. I wrote about the poor mounting of the shrouds when I replaced ours in the summer of 2015 in this post.

Sini ordered replacements from Amazon and had a quick delivery. I think she ordered them Friday night and they were delivered on Monday. After pickleball Tuesday morning, I went over to Sini’s rig to replace the A/C shrouds.

Shroud cracked around the mounting point

Shroud cracked around the mounting point

I put the tools I would need and a bottle of rubbing alcohol in a backpack and we climbed up the ladder. Halfway up the ladder, Sini handed me the big boxes containing the new covers and foam seals and I placed them on the roof.

Foam seals are used to block airflow from coming through the space between the shroud and the condenser. You want all of the airflow drawn by the electric fan to go through the condenser coil, not around it.

Old foam seal

Old foam seal

The foam seals deteriorate over time and should be replaced when you install new shrouds. I peeled the old seals off and cleaned the surfaces with rubbing alcohol before installing the new self-adhesive foam seals.

Old seals removed

Old seals removed

Then it was just a matter of mounting the new shrouds. I used the double fender washer method I came up with on our A/Cs. I put one 1″ fender washer with a 1/4″ opening on the mounting screw. I put a second matching fender washer between the shroud and the mounting point on the A/C chassis. This created a clamping surface the distributes the stress of the mounting point over a much larger area. I think this will help to prevent the cracks.

New covers installed.

New covers installed.

That’s all there was to it – job done. Sini stayed up on the roof while I installed the new covers. She wants to see how things work and learn what I do to make repairs so she knows what to look for in the future.

Today I’ll go to Enterprise and pick up a rental car for our trip to Menifee. Enterprise closes at noon today. They called me last evening and advised me to come early as they expect to be very busy today.

Today’s weather should be much like yesterday. I’m expecting sunny skies and warmer weather for Thanksgiving. I hope wherever you are, you’ll enjoy a great Thanksgiving with family and friends, regardless of the temperature.

A Well Fed Weekend

I can’t complain about wintering in San Diego. However, we had a little bit of everything over the weekend. Friday was a gorgeous day – fair, sunny skies and a high temperature of 76 degrees.

Sini found signs of water seeping through the roof of her rig and took a look up on the roof. She asked me if I would look at it too and give my opinion. I found two areas of concern – the caulking around a vent pipe deteriorated and had cracks in it and it also had shrunk away from the pipe. Also, her air conditioner shrouds were cracked. I replaced our shrouds about a year and a half ago and posted about it here. The plastic shrouds get brittle from constant exposure to sunlight.

I told Sini she should get some Dicor self-leveling lap sealant to re-caulk the vent pipe. She picked up a couple of tubes at the RV Solutions store in Kearny Mesa. We climbed up on the roof and I showed her how to apply it. The first step is to remove the old caulk. I like to use plastic or nylon instruments for this – a metal putty knife may damage a fiberglass or rubber roof.

These are the tools I used to scrape the old caulk out

These are the tools I used to scrape the old caulk out

Removing the old caulk is the most time consuming part of the job. Then I cleaned the area with rubbing alcohol before putting down a new layer of caulk. The dicor sealant is thick and hard to apply. It takes a lot of hand strength to squeeze it out of the tube with a caulk gun. On a horizontal surface the sealant will spread and flatten out. It makes a good water barrier.

Donna spiced boneless chicken breasts with jerk marinade and I grilled kabobs for dinner Friday night. Another simple, delicious meal.

Grilled chicken kabobs

Grilled chicken kabobs with mashed sweet potato

Donna and Sini planned to go to the farmers’ market in the Little Italy district downtown on Saturday morning. Donna had to back out as she had fallen behind a bit on her book deadline and had too many things on her plate for Saturday. I accompanied Sini instead.

We left early and dropped off Ziggy, her golden-doodle dog, at Petsmart for a bath and grooming on the way at 8am. At the market, we found a vendor selling breakfast crepes. The girl making the crepes had two round hot plates. She would put a scoop of crepe batter – basically eggs, milk and flour – on one hot plate. She used a flat wooden stick half the diameter of the hot plate to spread the batter. She held one end of the stick in the center of the hot plate and swept the other end of the stick in a circular motion around the outer circumference of the hot plate. This perfectly spread the batter in a thin layer over the entire hot plate.

Making breakfast crepes

Making breakfast crepes

After a couple of minutes, she flipped the crepe. Then she folded the crepe in half and transferred it to the second hot plate where she had the filling cooking. I had ham, mushrooms and cheese in my crepe. Sini went for a veggie filling. After adding the filling, she folded the crepes into a triangle shape and put them in tapered cup like the ones used for snow-cones. They were absolutely delicious and very filling. Well worth the eight bucks!

I ended buying some hard salami locally made along with sweet Italian sausage. I also bought some pricey cheese – an herbed brie and a hard French cheese.

Later, Donna made cream of celery soup. Instead of celery stalks, she used celeriac. Celeriac is a root crop that comes from a celery variant. She planned to take the soup to her sister’s house Saturday evening where we were invited for an early Thanksgiving dinner.

Cream of celery soup with a dollop of creme fraiche, chopped chives and pomegranate seeds

Cream of celery soup with a dollop of creme fraiche, chopped chives and pomegranate seeds

Donna’s sister, Sheila, made traditional Thanksgiving fixings including a large stuffed turkey.

Stuffed turkey

Stuffed turkey

Unfortunately most of the dinner conversation was focused on politics after the recent election. Since I’m on the opposite side of the aisle from most of the other guests, I found it uncomfortable. We took an Uber ride home at 9:30pm.

Sunday was a typical NFL football day for me with the exception of not watching the Chargers play – they had a bye this weekend. I enjoyed the Dallas versus Baltimore game and also the Seahawks win over Philadelphia.

Donna made fresh marinara and added the sweet Italian sausage from the farmers’ market to serve with porcini mushroom ravioli. I continue to eat well!

Porcini mushroom ravioli with sausage marinara

Porcini mushroom ravioli with sausage marinara

I started this post with a comment about the weekend weather. After a beautiful Friday, Saturday was another nice, sunny day with slightly cooler temperatures. Sunday was breezy and rain showers moved into the area in the afternoon. The high was only 67 degrees and by nightfall we had steady rain. The rain continued well into the night and this morning we have a few clouds lingering with a forecast high of only 65 degrees. Such is winter in San Diego – I shouldn’t complain.