Dinner in the Desert

After 94 days in San Diego, it was time to move on. I began preparations Saturday morning. The rainy weather finally abated, giving me an opportunity to pack everything in dry conditions. Our neighbors, Hans and Lisa, helped me out. We loaded the Traeger smoker/grill and Weber Q in the back of their truck and they dropped me off at the trailer on their way out of the park. This was a great help as dragging the grills out to the overflow lot isn’t fun.

I watched the NFL divisional playoff games in the afternoon. During halftime and between games I was able to get the rest of our outdoor gear packed and stowed the windshield cover.

Sunday morning I filled our freshwater tank and dumped and flushed the holding tanks – that’s how I like to roll. You never know what might happen out on the road, so having plenty of fresh water and empty holding tanks gives me peace of mind. We had the trailer hooked up and hit the road around 9:45am.

We made the familiar run on I-8 east over the Laguna Summit. There are three summits on this route – all of them over 4,000 feet above sea level. This is a significant climb – we started out only a few feet above sea level at Mission Bay. When we drove over passes in the Rocky Mountains that exceeded 9,000 feet above sea level, the elevation change was about the same because the high plains around the Rockies are about 5,000 feet or more above sea level. So, if you start at 5,000 feet and climb to 9,000 feet, you’ve achieved about 4,000 feet of elevation change.

The main difference is the thinner air at those high elevations – engines produce less power in the thin atmosphere. When we stopped at the Buckman Springs rest area near the Laguna Summit, Donna found the elevation change had an effect on her new pantry containers. The lids were sealed when we were at sea level. On top of the mountains, the pressure differential in the sealed containers versus the atmosphere caused the lids to pop off.

As we proceeded east in the desert past El Centro I noticed a column of smoke rising to the south of us. I was puzzled by it. This area, southwest of the Imperial Dunes, is barren desert. The smoke column was huge – it would take a fire bigger than a football field to create such a column of smoke. Donna shot a picture of it through the windshield.

Puzzling smoke column

Later I looked online for any news of a fire or explosion or anything that would have created this and found nothing. Distances over the flat desert can be deceiving – it may have originated in Mexico as we were near the border.

Our destination for the day was near our usual stop on BLM land east of Imperial Dunes. We usually go to a place that has free dispersed camping and set up by a rock garden that someone created in the desert. This time were going to a different spot. We planned to meet up with Jeff and Deb Spencer (Rolling Recess). They were camped on the BLM land a few miles from our usual spot and we were able to find their rig.

I usually park at least a quarter of mile away from other RVers when we’re in this area. However, this time our plan was to join Jeff and Deb for dinner so we parked near their fifth-wheel trailer. They were out when we arrived – they had spent the day in Algodones, Mexico.

This is a very quiet spot with nice desert views. The sunsets and sunrises in the desert can be spectacular.

View from our doorstep

We set up around 1pm and I tuned in the satellite dish to watch two more NFL playoff games. The games on Saturday were a bit lopsided. Sunday’s games were the opposite with close battles decided on the final plays.

Jeff and Deb came over to our coach for dinner. Deb brought a flavorful bean and chicken soup. Donna made a spinach salad with a horseradish dressing. It was excellent fare and we enjoyed the conversation – although I was somewhat distracted at times by the football game on TV.

I usually rave about the beers brewed in San Diego – particularly the IPAs. I had one called Mongo from Port Brewing and have to admit it disappointed me. The balance was off, it was too bitter and piney. I guess they can’t all be winners on my palate.

Piney IPA

Jeff told us the story behind a little memorial monument under the desert scrub trees by our site.

Memorial

It was made by a guy that had camped here with his 15-year-old dog. The dog ran off into the desert chasing deer and never came back.

Jeff and Deb had recently camped near Ajo, Arizona. Jeff told us about memorials found in the desert there – they marked places where illegal immigrants perished in harsh desert. While they were there they saw illegals and drug smugglers in the early morning hours crossing the desert.

The camp host at one place they stayed at would leave bottled water out overnight for the illegals. But she also notified the Border Patrol when they took the water. There’s more activity along the Mexican border than many people realize.

Today we’ll move on to Mesa, Arizona. I plan to drop our trailer at our friend, Mike Hall’s house. Then we’ll take the coach to RV Renovators on Main Street. Hopefully they can repair the damage caused the by the encounter with the suicidal buck in Idaho without too much of a delay. They estimated about two weeks to get the work done. We’ll see how that works out.

 

Unlucky Day

Today is Friday the 13th. Superstition says this is an unlucky day and bad things happen. Well, Donna jumped the gun on that. Yesterday we went to Pacific Beach Recreation Center to play pickleball. We played for a couple of hours. In our last game, Donna was playing on the court next to the one I was on. I heard her fall as she scrambled to get a ball that went deep in the corner of the court.

She stayed down, holding her right ankle. She said she heard a pop as her foot rolled under, hyper-extending the lateral joint. Her partner in the game went to the office immediately and retrieved cold packs. One of her opponents in the game happened to be a medical doctor – his name is Gresham. His thought there was ligament damage, not a break.

Luckily we had Sini’s car since she had the left the RV park the day before and wasn’t due to return until the afternoon. Another guy helped me get Donna to the car. We came home and she stretched out on the sofa with her knee elevated above her heart and her ankle above the knee – we accomplished this with a stack of pillows. She spent the rest of the day icing the ankle – 20 minutes on ice, then twenty minutes off. She also took ibuprofen. This is what Gresham recommended.

I’m happy to report she’s doing much better this morning and can walk, albeit gingerly. Yesterday she couldn’t bear any weight on her ankle at all.

I mentioned Sini leaving the park for a day. She drove up to Temecula with her son, Beau. They stayed overnight at the Pechanga Casino. She encountered heavy rain and wind on the trip – about 60 miles each way – but came through fine. It was her first solo experience driving her motorhome.

The rain had us hunkered down for the past two days. It looks like we should be in for dry weather through the weekend although there is still a 20% chance of rain. I’m keeping my fingers crossed as I need to get ready for the road and I’d like to have everything dry before I pack it up.

Our plan is to drive I-8 east almost to Yuma on Sunday. We’ll boondock overnight in the desert with our friends, Jeff and Deb Spencer (Rolling Recess) – they’re already there. We last saw them in Las Vegas last spring.

That’s one of the great things about the full-time RV community. We make new friends and keep up with each other via Facebook or blogs and then we meet up whenever we find ourselves in the same area.

I’m hoping to get a fairly early start on Sunday so I can be set up in time to watch the Green Bay vs Dallas NFL playoff game.

 

Enormous Pot Pie

The weather remains a topic of discussion as we’ve had more wet days again this week. Three quarters of an inch of rain fell in the last seven days. On average, January is the second wettest month in San Diego with a total of two inches of rain. We’re well on our way to exceed that average. February is the wettest month with an average rainfall of two and half inches.

We had some rain Monday morning, but it cleared up in the afternoon. I borrowed Sini’s car and drove over to Dan Diego’s for a cold one with the guys around 4pm. The parking lot at Dan Diego’s was empty and the sign by the door said “Closed.” I knew they changed their hours after the New Year, but I didn’t remember them closing on Mondays.

I went down the street to the Offshore Tavern and Grill and saw the guys at the bar there. I mentioned Dan Diego’s being closed and they told me that was news to them, they were about to go there. I looked up Dan Diego’s hours on my phone and it showed it open at 3:30pm on Mondays. I called Dan Diego’s and the owner, Ryan, answered. I asked him if he was open – he said, “Yeah, but the place is empty.” I told him he should check his sign! We went to Dan Diego’s for a cold one before the Alabama vs Clemson NCAA National Championship game.

I came home and tuned in the game at 5pm. Donna went out for dinner with her sister, Sheila and her nephew Connor. They went to Sushi Ota – where they serve the best sushi I’ve ever had. Donna brought home a spicy tuna roll and some nigiri for me – yummy!

As our time here is winding down, I’m looking forward to dry, sunny days in the forecast ahead, beginning Friday. I’ll need to organize the trailer and move things like our folding chairs, Weber grill and Traeger smoker/grill over to the trailer. Here at Mission Bay RV Resort, we have to leave our trailer in the overflow lot outside of the RV park.

Donna reorganized an overhead bin in the coach where she stores snacks. She used to have opaque plastic containers with lids that snap on and off. She labeled the containers so we would know what’s inside. The thing is, the labels are pretty generic and we would often forget about a particular snack inside.

Old container with generic label

She found a set of Oxo clear plastic containers with pop-up lids at Costco. She moved the snacks into these containers and now we can see at a glance what we have on hand. She’s planning to go back and get two more sets for other pantry items!

Clear Oxo containers

I repurposed the old opaque containers and used them to organize some odds and ends in one of the basement compartments. I had a few loose bicycle tools and lubes. Now instead of digging around in the compartment to find things, I can just pull out the container.

Tuesday, Donna and I went to Pacific Beach Recreation Center and played pickleball for a couple of hours. I’m going to miss the pickleball and the people we’ve made friends with at the rec center over the last three winters. We’ll find pickleball courts in Mesa, Arizona – our next destination.

On Tuesday evening, Donna cooked a chicken pot pie that she bought at Costco. Like almost everything at Costco, this was the biggest pot pie I’ve ever seen – it was over five pounds! We invited Tom and Kris Downey over to join us for dinner – they were the ones who told us about the pot pies made fresh at Costco. The four of us ate about two thirds of the pot pie – we have about two servings left over. It was tasty and I’m looking forward to reheating the leftovers for lunch!

Sini has to leave the RV park today. She’ll head up to Temecula with her son Beau. They plan to spend the night at a casino there and also visit an RV shop to get a quote on new flooring. She’ll be back tomorrow. This will be her first solo run. Although Beau is with her, he doesn’t have experience driving their 37-foot National Tradewinds motorhome. I’m sure she’ll be fine.

Speaking of returning, I posted earlier about the neighbor who left her bike in our site before Christmas. Her bike is still here. Yesterday I went to the office and asked if they could look up the person that was in site 114 and left on December 22nd. I told them about the bike and said I was leaving on Sunday and needed to figure out what to do with the bike. I only knew the woman’s first name, Lindis. They remembered her and looked up her info. We learned that she came back to the RV park two days ago. I’ll clean and lube the chain on the bike – it’s rusty – and return it to her today.

Donna’s 15k Race

We had beautiful weather on Friday to kick off the weekend. While I was out and about on the Spyder, I stopped on East Mission Bay Drive to shoot a photo of the sunset over De Anza Cove. This was a much different view than the one I shot through the window of the Coaster in my last post!

Sunset at De Anza Cove

Donna and I rode the Spyder over to Lanna Thai restaurant at 6pm to meet up with Chris and Sherry Nirschl. I’ve known Chris since my high school days. We were also roommates in Colorado back in 1976. We last got together with Chris and Sherry two years ago – the time flies by.

Donna, Sherry, Chris and me

Lanna Thai is one of our favorite restaurants and it’s only about two miles from Mission Bay RV Resort. As usual, I went for the pad Thai plate.

Chicken pad Thai

Thai cuisine demands Thai beer – so I paired it with a glass of Singha lager.

Thai lager

It was fun catching up with them. Now that we’re short-timers – we plan to leave San Diego on Sunday, January 15th – we’re trying to touch base with as many friends as we can.

Donna was up early Saturday morning. She was running in the Resolution 15k race and had to be at the starting line by 7:15am. The race started at Tecolote Shores – part of the Mission Bay Park system south of the Hilton hotel. She picked up a Deco bike rental in front of the RV park and rode it two miles to the start area where she dropped it off. I slept in and didn’t get out of bed until 7:30am.

Sini sent me a text message at 7:45am asking if I wanted to walk with her over to the course and see if we could find Donna at the race turnaround point in De Anza Cove. I hadn’t even had a cup of coffee yet, so I told her I would go later.

After coffee and breakfast, I estimated Donna’s position on the race course – her Garmin tracking app wasn’t working right so I couldn’t track her progress on my laptop. I rode the Spyder to the boat ramp parking lot – I thought she should have already passed this point but would come back by after the turnaround.

I saw someone that looked like Donna heading toward the turnaround and rode the Spyder to the north end of the lot. It wasn’t Donna, so I turned around a started riding south. There she was – she was past the turnaround and heading back south. I paced along with her for the length of the lot, then I rode down to the lot north of the Hilton. I caught a photo of her passing by there.

Donna about eight miles into the race

Then I rode to the road closure near Tecolote Shores and found a place to park. I walked out onto the race course and Donna caught up with me within a couple of minutes. I ran with her for about a quarter of a mile to give her encouragement. Then I peeled off the course and ran across the grass to the finish area – I didn’t think it would be appropriate for me to run along the final stretch to the finish line.

Donna averaged 10 minutes/mile covering the 9.3 mile course in 93 minutes and placing fourth in the females aged 55-59 group. Her original goal was to try to beat her personal record of 1 hour 28 minutes set 20 years ago. But her best time on a long training run was closer to 10 and a half minutes/mile. So she felt really good about the race. At the finish, she picked up a goody bag provided for the competitors and decided to hang out at the vendor tents. She was able to get a free chiropractic session and picked up lots more goodies before walking back to the Deco bike stand and riding the two miles home. Meanwhile, I returned and tuned in the Dish satellite to watch the wild card NFL playoff games.

The weather remained gorgeous all weekend. I squandered the beautiful weather as I was glued to the playoff games. The games went pretty much as I expected with all of the home teams winning. Home field doesn’t mean an automatic win – last year all of the road teams won the wild card games. But this year, I thought the home teams were the stronger of the match-ups.

Sculpin IPA for the game

On Saturday night, we planned to go to a party in La Mesa where Hans Kohls’ band was playing. We decided to pass though. We were concerned that it might not be the best idea to make the run back down I-8 on the Spyder in the dark after the party. As it turns out, Donna was pretty wiped out after her race, so we opted to stay home.

So, the weekend of blue skies and mid-70s temperatures were wasted as I stayed indoors most of the time watching football. This morning it’s raining again and the temperature will only reach the low 60s.

Last week I saw an iconic RV. We didn’t really think of them as RVs in the ’60s, but this VW type 2 camper van with a pop-top is a recreational vehicle.

VW pop-top camper van

The owner fired it up as I was walking by. He said it had a “big motor” but didn’t elaborate. I assumed it was a typical air-cooled engine with big bore pistons and maybe a stroker crankshaft – it didn’t sound like anything radical. He pulled out of the Offshore Tavern & Grill parking lot, then parked it on the street in front of the tavern. He said a group of VW vans was coming, but I had to leave and didn’t get see any more of them.

Hopefully the rain will clear out this afternoon. I have a few things that need to get done this week before we head east. I’m getting the hitch-itch and I’m looking forward to a change after three months here.

 

 

A Ride on the Coaster

It seems odd to have to plan our daily activities according to the weather for the day. We’re in San Diego where usually there’s very little variation in the weather. Of course, the rainy season comes in mid-December and runs to the end of February, but that usually means a few rainy days here and there. Lately, we’ve had a series of storms in the Pacific that bring a day or two of rain, then a nice sunny day followed by another rainy day.

Wednesday was one of the nice, sunny days. I started the day with pickleball at Ocean Beach Recreation Center. On my way home I needed to stop at a grocery store for bananas and tomatoes. I remembered a grocery store in Ocean Beach (OB) on Santa Monica Avenue and went there, but I found it was replaced by a CVS pharmacy. Then I found the Abbot Market on Google maps a few blocks away. The Abbott Market turned out to be a liquor store.

If you live in OB and want groceries, you have to go to Point Loma or Midway Drive or Pacific Beach to shop. There’s a definite lack of grocery stores in many San Diego neighborhoods. I put it down to over-regulation making it difficult to operate a small grocery store. The real estate footprint of a large store makes it very costly. I ended up stopping at Vons in Pacific Beach.

The dry weather on Wednesday was fortuitous as we had a happy hour gathering planned. Hans and Lisa (Metamorphosis Road), Tom and Kris (Open Road 365), Don and Cheryl and Sini all came over to our site. We had cocktails and everyone brought food. We met Don and Cheryl here two years ago – they’re fellow Alpine Coach owners. We sat outside and visited for a couple of hours before everyone was chilled as the evening temperature dropped. I neglected to take any photos (again).

Thursday was a dreary, rainy day. We had plans to travel up to Oceanside in the afternoon to meet up with our friends Bruce and Debbie Bednarski. The wet weather made travel a little difficult for us, but we had a plan. First of all, Kris Downey rescued us by driving us to the Metro Transit Station about four miles away in Old Town. The Metro Transit Station is operated by the San Diego Metro Transit System (MTS).

MTS has been in operation in San Diego since July, 1886 – more than 130 years ago! MTS offers mass transit through 93 bus routes and three daily light rail lines (trolley). There’s a fourth trolley line that operates on a limited basis. They have 53 light rail stations and serve about 250,000 customers every weekday. The light rail stations are also linked with a commuter rail service operated by the North County Transit District. This is a train called the Coaster – it runs between downtown San Diego and Oceanside with six stops in-between.

The Coaster runs on tracks that were originally installed by the Achison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad. These tracks are also used by Amtrak and a train called the Surfliner runs from San Diego to Los Angeles – it also makes some of the same stops as the Coaster.

The Coaster has double deck cabin cars pulled by an EMD F59PHI 3,200 horsepower locomotive. It’s capable of speeds over 100 mph, but doesn’t go that fast on the Coaster route.

Coaster locomotive

Bi-level cabin car

We bought tickets at the automated kiosk. The round trip to Oceanside and back costs $5.50 for people aged 60 or older – I qualified. Donna’s fare was the regular adult price of $11.00. Total cost of $16.50 for a round trip for two to Oceanside was not bad – and we didn’t have to deal with the traffic or rain.

Usually this would be a very scenic ride but the weather made it not so scenic. I took a few photos through the window, but the ocean views were mostly foggy.

Rainy view of De Anza Cove from the Coaster

View across the Los Penasquitos lagoon north of Torrey Pines – the ocean is obscured by fog

San Elijo lagoon

View of the Ocean near Swami’s

The trip takes a little under an hour and it was a pleasant ride. We planned to meet Bruce and Debbie at a restaurant called 333 Pacific. Specifically, we were to meet at the Vodka Bar there. They serve 100 different vodkas from around the world.

We arrived a bit early, so we stopped at the Breakwater Brewing Company for a local brew before we went to 333 Pacific. We were still a few minutes early – 333 doesn’t open until 4pm. Bruce and Debbie arrived a few minutes after us and we sat at their favorite table. We enjoyed a couple of cocktails – martinis for Bruce and me, Moscow Mules for Debbie and Donna – along with a couple of calamari platters. It was good to get together again with them – it’s been over a year since we were last with them.

The last Coaster train back to Old Town leaves Oceanside at 5:41pm. This would cut our time short. The alternative was to catch the Surfliner – our Coaster tickets would be valid on Amtrak – at 7pm. The catch was a problem with the Amtrak Surfliner schedule. There was an accident on the rail near San Clemente – apparently someone was struck by a train – which threw the Surfliner schedule off. I couldn’t be sure of when the Surfliner would actually depart. We had to say a hurried goodbye after only an hour and a half. The walk back to the station was surreal as the fog had thickened. You would think we were in London, England not southern California.

On another topic, readers of this blog know how I love high-end coaches built on Prevost chassis or built by Newell. The neighborhood here at Mission Bay RV Resort went upscale as there are four Prevosts and a Newell here now. The Newell and a Liberty Coach built on a Prevost H3 chassis are side by side in the park. I’m not 100% sure, but I think the Newell is a 2011 quad-slide. I found one similar to it online offered for $999,000. The Liberty Coach is a double slide model and I’m unsure of the model year, but I would guess it’s also in the million dollar ballpark.

Liberty Coach on the left, Newell on the right

We have a nice, sunny day again today. The weather forecast looks good for the weekend. Donna has a 15k race to run tomorrow morning. We’re planning to go to a party in La Mesa later in the day and see Hans Kohls’ band, The Sand Devils, play there.

 

 

Keep an Eye On My Bike

Last month, we had a neighbor move into the site next to us on the driver’s side. It was a young woman in a large fifth-wheel trailer – I think she said it was 43 feet long – with four kids. There were two boys and two girls ranging in age from about three to 11 or 12 years old. The oldest girl took on a lot of responsibility for her siblings. A couple of times the woman – her name is Lindis – went out for several hours and left the kids in the trailer. We could hear them running back and forth inside, but all in all, they were pretty well-behaved.

On December 22nd, she packed up her trailer. She told us they had to move and were heading up to the Thousand Trails park in Menifee. It was a rainy morning and not the ideal conditions to hook up and head out. The mom and her oldest daughter made short work of it though and got the trailer hooked up to their truck. Then the girl came to our door and knocked. She said they couldn’t fit one of their bicycles – a cruiser style bike with baby seats on the front and back – and asked if we would keep an eye on it until they came back for it.

We told her to put the bike in our site by the picnic table, which she did and we saw them drive away. That was two weeks ago. We haven’t seen them since then. I’m wondering if they’re coming back. We’ll be leaving on the 15th. I’ll check with the office to see if they have a reservation to return here.

On Monday, the neighbor on the other side of us had to leave the park overnight. He told me he was coming back to the same site on Tuesday. He asked me if they could leave their bicycles in our site rather than stow them aboard for an overnight trip. So we had a site full of bikes for a day, but they were back Tuesday afternoon and retrieved their bike rack and bikes that were left in our site.

On Monday evening, Donna made garlicky tomato-basil shrimp and served it over squid ink spaghetti. This recipe is a keeper for sure.

Garlicky tomato-basil shrimp

Yesterday our friends, Hans and Lisa (Metamorphosis Road) moved into the site next us. We’ll be able to get together a few times before we leave – starting with happy hour this afternoon.

I played pickleball for a couple of hours yesterday in Pacific Beach. I’ll head over to Ocean Beach Recreation Center to play today. The forecast calls for clear skies but the temperature will only reach the mid-60s. More rain is forecast for tomorrow.

Goodbye 2016

A series of storms lined up off the coast of southern California. The rain forecast for New Year’s Eve was accurate. It rained in the morning, then cleared up – the temperature only reached 60 degrees and it didn’t dry out before the rain returned in the evening. The high winds in the forecast never materialized though.

A lot of RVs were in the park to celebrate the New Year. You can usually watch the fireworks display at Sea World across the bay from Mission Bay RV Resort. Donna and I felt bad for the people who came here with plans to sit outside and take in the show with friends for the New Year. Instead, rain poured down from low clouds and everyone stayed inside. You wouldn’t see any fireworks even if you were outside.

On Saturday afternoon, Sini wanted to go to the store to buy a bottle of wine as a gift for her friend. I hitched a ride with her to buy Bloody Mary mix and beer. We went to Vons grocery store in Pacific Beach. This store is almost always busy – even more so around Thanksgiving and Christmas. I wasn’t prepared for the New Year’s Eve crowd there. I’ve never seen the store so packed with people. Every cash register had a line of people waiting to check out that extended into the aisles.

Donna and I decided to lie low on the last night of 2016. We usually go out or join friends to celebrate, but we stayed home this year. I made Bloody Mary’s for happy hour. Donna cooked lobster tails she bought at Sprouts. They were small tails, so we had two each.

Lobster with stuffed mushrooms and broccolini

She served it with mozzarella stuffed portobello mushrooms and sauteed brocolini. It was a nice meal to end the year.

I opened a special bottle of beer that I’ve held onto since we were in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We visited the Santa Fe Brewing Company and Donna bought an oak barrel -aged sour ale for me there. Sour ale is an acquired taste, but I like them occasionally. Sours are usually relatively expensive. This was a 750ml bottle – the size of a standard wine bottle – and I think Donna paid about $30 for it.

Santa Fe sour ale

Sunday the rain moved out and we had clear weather. It didn’t warm up though, the high was only 59 degrees. Donna and her sister, Sheila, went for a run on the trails at Torrey Pines down to the beach and back. Then they went to Pacific Beach for a late brunch.

All of the 32 NFL teams had their final game of the season on New Year’s Day. I spent the day inside watching three consecutive games. There were a few twists – Kansas City ended up winning the AFC West by beating the Chargers while Denver whipped on Oakland. And on Sunday night, the Green Bay Packers won the NFC north by beating the Detroit Lions.

Also Sunday night, Dean Spanos fired the Chargers head coach, Mike McCoy. The Chargers have had two poor seasons in a row, with multiple injuries hampering the team both years. I don’t know if any coach could’ve done much better than McCoy. The team started the year with a 53 man roster – as did everyone else. Twenty of the of the original players on the roster ended up on injured reserve – unable to play. Not just any twenty, but mostly starters and key players like Keenan Allen, Jason Verrett, Brandon Flowers, Brandon Mebane, Melvin Gordon and on and on. Andre Williams played running back – I think he was the eighth running back for the Chargers this year. He never had an NFL carry before but managed to gain 87 yards rushing in the game.

Firing the head coach won’t fix that. I wonder who’ll take the job. I also wonder if Dean Spanos will move the team away from San Diego. I commiserated vicariously with McCoy by opening a bottle of IPA from San Diego’s Saint Archer brewery. This is a very good IPA made with five varieties of hops.

Saint Archer IPA

A lot of the weekend warriors started moving out on Sunday. At least they were able to pack up in dry weather. Another Alpine Coach moved in across from us in the afternoon – bringing the total number of Alpines to four in the park.

This morning we woke up to rain drops on the roof as another batch of clouds came over. There’s a 20% chance of rain in the afternoon although it isn’t raining as I type this. The mass exodus continues and the park should be relatively quiet for the rest of the week. I don’t have any special plans for the day – I’ll watch some college bowl games and maybe download another book to my Kindle.

Soggy Year End

The weather guessers do a pretty good job most of the time in San Diego. I have to wonder how hard it could be – if you forecast clear skies and warm temperatures, you’d be right more often than not. Wednesday they had it right as we had beautiful weather. The skies were mostly clear and the temperature topped out at 73 degrees here at Mission Bay.

Donna and I went to the Ocean Beach Recreation Center in the morning to play pickleball. There was a crowd there – we had more than 20 people show up – only 12 can play at a time so we had long waiting periods between games. It took an hour and a half to get four games in. That was too much waiting around for me – we left after the fourth game.

Donna had a whole chicken marinating in a Peruvian chicken marinade. I spatchcocked it before I put it on the Traeger wood pellet fired smoker/grill. I started it breast side down at 350 degrees for 35 minutes – it was a small four-pound chicken. Then I flipped it over and set the temperature control to high – 450 degrees to finish it and crisp the skin.

Whole chicken hot off the Traeger

Donna served it with roasted Brussel sprouts and garlic smashed potatoes.

Roasted chicken, Brussel sprouts and smashed potatoes

Just before I put the chicken on the grill I walked to the west end of the RV park to catch the sunset. I’ll never get tired of watching the sunset over the bay.

Sunset on the bay

Thursday we were in for another gorgeous day. Clear, sunny skies and the afternoon high reached 83 degrees! I played pickleball at the Pacific Beach Recreation Center while Donna worked on an article that was due on Friday. There were only 12-14 people there so we had very little break time between games on the three courts.

I played for about two hours. In my last game, I was getting tired and starting to make too many mistakes. At one point, the ball was lobbed over my head. I turned to run to the back of the court to return it when my feet got tangled together and I went down hard. I landed on my right shoulder and hip and I’m feeling it today. I’m usually good at rolling with a fall to minimize the impact, but I was tired and maybe I’m not quite as quick as I once was.

In the afternoon, I broke out our Porter-Cable air compressor and plugged it in at our site. Once the reservoir was filled to 150psi, I disconnected it and drove in Sini’s car to the outer lot where our trailer is. The trailer had been sitting there for two and half months and I knew the tires would need to be pumped up to the proper pressure. It’s not unusual for tires to lose pressure over time. Smaller tires lose pressure more quickly due to the small volume of air.

I found the tires to be low by about seven psi. The air hose on my compressor leaks slightly when the hose bends in a certain direction. By the time I got to the trailer, the air compressor dropped from 150 psi to 125 psi. Pumping up the first tire dropped the pressure to about 70 psi. Electricity isn’t available in the outer lot so I had to return to the park to plug the compressor in and fill it again. It took four trips to fill all four tires. I’ll check the tires again before we leave here on January 15th, but I think we’ll be good to go.

The weather guessers said rain would move into the area today. We woke up to the sound of raindrops on the roof of the coach. They get the rain forecast right most of the time too. I imagine it’s pretty easy to see what’s heading this way off the coast. Sometimes weather anomalies occur like when the jet stream dips south or moisture moves up from the Sea of Cortez – but these are pretty easy to detect also.

The forecast calls for rain through Saturday night. We’ll ring in a wet New Year. It’s also supposed to be windy on New Year’s Eve. I hope the New Year’s revelers take care on the road – heavy rain and wind could make it treacherous.

Southern California will close out the year with a wet December. We are well over the average rainfall for the month here in San Diego. I read this morning that the water level of Lake Elsinore is rising for the first time since 2011. This is a good thing.

We don’t have any grand plans for New Year’s Eve. We’ll probably stay in. Donna just brought home some lobster tails and other goodies. Have a safe and happy new year!

 

*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!

Pelicans Fishing

We’ve had beautiful weather since Christmas here at Mission Bay RV Resort. It gets better every day. On Monday morning, Donna and I took a walk around the point that separates De Anza Cove from Rose Inlet and Fiesta Bay. There was a wide variety of ducks in the bay along the point.

Ducks on the bay

As we walked along, a brown pelican glided past us about 15-20 feet above the water. It pulled up suddenly then folded its wings and dove headfirst into the water. A few seconds later it surfaced and swallowed a fish it caught. We watched it repeat this performance four times.

As we rounded the point, we saw two more pelicans performing this fishing feat. It looked like they never miss – each time they dove they came up with a fish.

At the end of our loop, I came back to the coach while Donna continued on. She took an easy training run of four miles along the bay. I tracked her run with the Garmin Connect app – it sends a link to my e-mail and I can track her activity. (We’re thinking this will come in handy when she’s out hiking on her own.)

I’ve neglected my guitar for quite a while. In the afternoon, I plugged my Gibson ES-339 into my amp stand and worked on a song I haven’t played since we left Michigan. It’s a song by Weezer recorded in 2000 called Island in the Sun. I surprised myself – after about half an hour I was playing it better than ever.

I first learned this song when I joined a band called BackTrack. My friend, Gerhard Rauch is the leader of this group. When I joined, I was told it was a classic rock band. This sounded good to me – I was thinking the music would be Allman Brothers, Rolling Stones, Beatles, Santana, etc.

The group had been practicing together for a while before I came along. Gerhard’s son, Ben, was playing lead guitar but he was leaving the band. I planned to take his place. They already had a play list going. Unfortunate for me, the play list was unfamiliar.

Some of the songs were more 60s pop than classic rock – like Time Won’t Let Me by the Outsiders or Gimme Some Lovin‘ by the Spencer Davis Group. Other songs were 90s music like Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears or the aforementioned Weezer song.

We played a Creedence Clearwater Revival tune I was familiar with – Lodi. We also played a couple of Tom Petty songs I enjoyed. The playlist included a song by Guess Who that was a real rocker, but I had never heard it before – Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon.

I was behind the eight ball trying to learn the song list while they were adding new songs every week. I was also working long hours in the office at the time. It didn’t work out – after a few months we mutually agreed to part ways. It was a fun time but also a stressful period. I was so looking forward to retirement and a life of leisure, playing whenever and whatever I wanted. Anyway, it was good to pick up my guitar again.

Donna wanted to rest on Tuesday – she’s on a training schedule for her 15k race a week from Saturday. I went to the Pacific Beach Recreation Center to play pickleball. I hadn’t played in over a week. It was a good time and I got some needed exercise over two and half hours.

I saw the most beautiful sunset on Tuesday evening as I drove along east Mission Bay. By the time I was able to stop and get out to take a picture, the sun had set. I was able to capture some of the color anyway, but I was few minutes behind the best display.

Looking across De Anza Cove toward the RV park at sundown

We have about two and a half weeks left here in San Diego before we move on to Arizona. I’ve been pretty lazy and I’ll have to get after a few things before we go.

The temperature reached 70 degrees yesterday. Today’s forecast calls for clear skies and mid-70s. We’ll go to Ocean Beach to play pickleball, then I’ll get out and enjoy the weather while Donna works on an article that’s due Friday.

Christmas Dinner with Friends

With Christmas falling on Sunday this year, most of the weekend’s NFL action was played on Saturday. It was was a relatively cold day here in San Diego – the high temperature on Saturday was only 59 degrees. It was windy with rain showers – a good day to be indoors and watch football.

The first game was set to kick off at 10am. I tuned in the satellite around 9:30am and had a problem. The Dish Network satellite signal was lost or interrupted every 10 seconds or so – I couldn’t stay locked on a channel. This puzzled me as the satellite was fine the last time I used it.

I thought about what had changed since Thursday night. I remembered seeing a rig with an exposed Dish satellite on the roof in the RV park and was surprised to see how high it was aimed in the sky. I assumed the satellites were lower in the southern sky, but at this latitude the dish points up at a high angle. Our actual antenna dish is hidden under a plastic dome so I don’t see where it’s pointed. I knew the Dish Network satellites here are at an azimuth of 158 and 171 degrees – almost due south.

Then I thought about the weather. On Thursday it was cloudy and raining – so no change there. But Saturday we had wind – a 20-25mph wind with gusts to 40mph. The tree at the front of our site was whipping around. I thought maybe a tree branch was blowing across the line of sight to the satellite. I hadn’t thought of this before because I didn’t think the line of sight was a high as it is.

I pulled the jacks up, fed about three feet of our power cable and water hose out then fired up the engine. I moved the coach forward about two feet to see if this would take the tree branches out of the path to the satellite. Bingo! Now I had great reception on all HD channels.

So, I was a couch potato all day Saturday. I watched football and read a book inbetween games.

Christmas morning we opened presents. The weather was much nicer – clear blue skies and the wind had abated. It was still cool out, but felt much warmer in sun. Donna went out for a long training run – she has less than two weeks until her 15k race. She ran a loop around east Mission Bay taking the path to Sea World then crossing the Ingraham Street bridges before coming back along Crown Point and over Rose Creek. It was a nine-mile loop and I was able to track her progress via the Garmin connect app that was synched with her Garmin GPS watch.

Later we joined Kris and Tom Downey and their daughter Meg in their Tiffin Allegro Bus. Tom mixed up Bloody Mary’s and we watched the Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens game. It was an entertaining game. Tom had cooked prime rib on his Traeger grill and it was cooked to perfection. Donna made a side dish of maple-chile roasted Brussel sprouts with butternut squash and Kris had a side of mashed red potatoes with sweet potato.

Christmas dinner plate

I managed to snap a photo of the dinner plate but was so engrossed in the football games and conversation with Tom I neglected to take any other photos. We also had a mid-western dessert dish called seafoam salad – it was very good. It’s a tangy lime jello mixed with whipped cream over canned pears.

Tom and I sipped Woodford Reserve bourbon after dinner. It was an enjoyable evening.

Today we expect a few high, thin clouds but no rain. So far we’ve had more than two inches of rain here in December – much more than the average of 1.53 inches. I don’t have any plans for the day – we’ll see what pans out.