Monthly Archives: October 2014

Dumping and Flushing

Yesterday, I dumped and flushed our holding tanks. I’ve written that sentence in this blog many times. It’s not the most pleasant task or subject, but I’m going to write what I know about it today.

To be self-contained, an RV must have the ability to store and pump fresh water. It also must be able to store wastewater for proper disposal. Fresh water capacity is usually the limiting factor regarding how long you can live without hook-ups. In some cases, gray water capacity may set the limit.

Most self-contained RVs have three water tanks – fresh water tank, gray water tank and black water tank.

Fresh water is potable water stored on board and is usually pumped through the plumbing with an electric pump. I always filter the water going into our motorhome. I never know if the water supply I’m hooked up to had recent work which may have left sediment or dislodged rust into the system. Our current set-up is a two-stage canister filtration system. The first stage is an inexpensive 5-micron spun-polypropylene filter that traps sediment or other solids. The second stage contains a 5-micron fiber-block activated-carbon filter. This filter removes chemicals, bacteria, lead and other heavy metals. We have another filter on a tap in the kitchen that is a one-micron carbon filter that will remove giardia and cryptosporidium cysts.

Fresh water supply pressure regulator and two stage canister filters

Fresh water supply pressure regulator and two-stage canister filters

I always use a pressure regulator on the fresh water supply. I wrote about that here. Our fresh water supply comes directly from the RV park water supply when we’re hooked up. When we don’t have a fresh water supply hooked up, we draw fresh water from our 100-gallon fresh water tank (total capacity is 110 gallons when you add the hot water heater volume).

So where does our fresh water go when we use it? The shower drain, kitchen sink and bathroom sink drain into the gray water tank (on some RVs, the bathroom sink may drain into the black water tank). Clothes washing machines and dishwashers also drain into the gray water tank. Gray water is generally considered to be harmless to the environment. Every drain has a P-trap. This is a U-shaped bend in the plumbing to trap and hold a small amount of water. This prevents the flow of gases from the tank coming out of the drain. Gray water can smell bad due to organic matter breaking down in the tank.

The tank has a vent that is piped up to the roof of the RV. It also has a drain pipe with a blade valve that exits under the RV. When we’re on full hook-ups, we aren’t concerned with how much gray water we create. We take regular showers and run the washing machine. I drain the gray water tank after two or three days – we have 100 gallons of gray water capacity in our coach. We average about 30 gallons of gray water per day for the two of us plus maybe another 8 gallons of black water. When we dry camp, we practice water conservation and use about 15 gallons of water per day. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average household uses a total of 80-100 gallons per person per day.

The toilet flushes into the black water tank. It’s important to understand how the black water tank functions. The most important thing is to have plenty of water in the black water tank. Solid waste matter and toilet paper needs to break down in the tank. If there isn’t sufficient water in the tank, solid waste can accumulate in one spot (below the toilet) and create the dreaded poo-pyramid.

Most RVers also add a chemical additive to the black water tank. There are many different additives on the market. They all have one thing in common – they claim to eliminate odor. Some mask odor by using scents. Some claim to break down solids as well as paper. Some claim to clean holding tank level sensors. Some of them claim to lubricate the blade valves.

I’ve tried several different brands. My comments on these brands are unscientific. I didn’t test or analyze. I’m just stating my observations.

Gray and black tank sewer manifold

Gray and black tank sewer manifold

The Oxy-Kem® brand controlled odors well. But I noticed paper in the black water when I drained the tank using Oxy-Kem®. By the way, it’s important to have a clear section in the sewer hook-up. It’s not a pleasant thing, but you need to be aware of the condition of your tanks by observing the discharge.

I was skeptical about brands that claimed to break down paper. I tried the Odorlos® treatment which claims to liquify all waste and tissue. To my surprise, I no longer saw any paper when I used this product. The odor control was not so good though.

The Walex Bio-Pak®was up next. it says it’s a natural enzyme deodorizer and waste digester. This product also broke down the paper, but isn’t the best odor controller. The packaging also doesn’t say it’s formaldehyde-free. Some holding tank treatments contain formaldehyde which isn’t environmentally friendly.

I’m currently using Happy Campers® treatment. So far, it seems to be the best. It breaks down the paper and seems to control odor well.

Holding tank treatments

Holding tank treatments

I drain the black water tank after five to seven days. Internet wisdom on various RV forums advises to have the black water tank at least 3/4 full before draining to ensure a forceful flow that will get everything out. This rule of thumb doesn’t make sense to me.

My old coach had a black water capacity of 40 gallons. At 3/4 full, it held 30 gallons of black water. It drained forcefully and I had no issues. My current coach has a black water capacity of about 90 gallons. The 3/4 rule means I should have more than 65 gallons before I drain the tank. Why? If thirty gallons worked on the smaller tank, why wouldn’t thirty gallons work on a large tank? They have the same size outlet and drain at the same rate.

I time how long it takes to drain the tank and I have a rough idea of how full the tank is. I usually have about 40 gallons when I drain the black water. We once went for 15 days without dumping tanks and I think the black tank was nearly full then.

Our coach is equipped with a black water tank flushing system. This consists of a hose connector and plumbing to a spray jet inside the black tank. I connect a water hose to the flush system and turn on the water before I open the black water blade valve. Do not use your fresh water supply hose on the black tank flushing system. I’ve seen people do this. Although the system has check valves, back flow is always a possibility. I let the flusher run for 10-15 seconds to agitate the wastewater, then I pull the valve open. Whoosh. After the tank drains, I leave the flushing system running for several minutes, then I close the valve. With the valve closed, I continue to run the flusher for 30-40 seconds to put a few gallons of water in the tank. Plenty of water in the black tank is a good thing. Then I go into the coach and flush the treatment down the toilet and into the tank.

I should mention the importance of having the sewer hose securely fastened to the sewer drain. If it can’t be screwed into the drain, it must be weighted down. The tank drains with enough force to lift the end of the sewer hose straight up and spew the contents. If you’ve seen the movie RV starring Robin Williams, you know what I’m talking about.

Sewer hose securely fastened to the drain pipe

Sewer hose securely fastened to the drain pipe

Once I’ve finished draining and flushing the black tank, I drain the gray water tank. Running 50 or 60 gallons of gray water through the sewer hose cleans out anything left behind after flushing the black tank. That’s how I do it.

I’m not sure if the cloud cover will burn off today. We have cloudy skies and a 90% chance of much-needed rain tonight.

Verizon Customer Service

Tuesday, Donna and I each had errands to run. Donna took Linda’s car and drove to Linda’s house to pick up mail she had delivered there. She also stopped at The Container Store to pick up supplies she’ll need this weekend. Donna is appearing on a local television program, Good Morning San Diego, on Saturday morning before she flies to Orlando, Florida to take a 2-day class.

While Donna was out, I took the scooter and rode from Mission Bay RV Resort to the Verizon store in Pacific Beach. We’re supposed to receive a $200 credit for porting Donna’s number from T-mobile to my Verizon account, but I haven’t received the promotional code to claim the credit. It’s been a real hassle. I spent an hour online in a chat session with a Verizon customer service representative. That didn’t help. A week ago, I spent an hour at the Verizon store that ended with them telling me Verizon would contact me via e-mail or text within 48 hours. They gave me a number to call If I didn’t hear from Verizon in 48 hours.

I didn’t hear from Verizon. I called the number they gave me – it was the Verizon trade-in center. They had no idea why I was calling them and said they couldn’t help me. They told me they would escalate the complaint and I would hear back from them. That was last Friday. By Tuesday, I hadn’t been contacted.

I spent 90 minutes at the Verizon store trying to get this sorted out. Once again, it ended with them telling me I would be contacted – this time within four business days. The interesting thing I learned was that the Verizon store in Pacific Beach is independently operated – it’s not a Verizon corporate store. The sign says Verizon Store and the employees all wear shirts with the Verizon logo. If I had purchased our new phones at a corporate store, I wouldn’t be dealing with customer service. The corporate stores can create promotional codes for my account to get my $200 credit. Independently owned stores cannot create these codes – they have to get them from customer service.

While I was out, I stopped at the Pacific Beach farmers’ market for a couple of items. When I returned to the RV park, I saw I had missed a call while I was scootering. My smartphone also showed that an new e-mail was received. I opened the email. It was from a Verizon account manager. Here’s the text of the e-mail:

Dear Michael,

We appreciate you taking the time to provide us with your valuable feedback regarding Verizon’s products and services. Your satisfaction is very important to us as we continuously strive to improve our customers’ experiences.

We have attempted to reach you by phone to discuss the feedback you provided, as well as any questions that you may have. If you wish to discuss this further via phone, or have additional information you’d like to share, please don’t hesitate to reply to this email or contact me at the number below.

Thank you for choosing Verizon as your wireless service provider. We appreciate your business and we look forward to serving you again the future!

Best regards,
haydee Madera gaytan
Indirect account manager

I tried to call the number listed below the signature. It goes straight to music every time. No ring tone. No message. Just music blaring. I tried e-mailing the account manager. No response so far. How’s that for customer service? End of rant.

After dinner, Donna and I watched Breaking Bad. This is our second time watching the entire series. We both agree that we see it differently the second time around. The first time, we felt sorry for Walter White and cut him a lot of slack. Yes, he did a lot of bad things, but he was very likely dying and wanted to do what he could to help his family, which is how he was able to justify his actions. He didn’t set out to be a bad guy, but one bad thing led to another. This time, we could see almost from the start that he was like a sociopath in the way that he used family and friends with little regard for their safety or well-being.

While we were watching TV, I opened a beer I’d never tried before. It was from Belching Beaver Brewery in Vista (north San Diego County). The beer was peanut butter flavored milk stout. I split it with Donna. We both found it to be delicious – a dessert treat. It’s like a Reese’s® peanut butter cup in a glass!

Peanut butter and chocolate in a bottle

Peanut butter and chocolate in a bottle

Yesterday, I rode my mountain bike in San Clemente Canyon again. I tried a few different trails in the canyon. Some of the trails are challenging. One of the trails I was on had a short, steep climb up the canyon wall. I didn’t notice a tree root across the top of the climb until it was too late. I popped the front wheel past the root, but I lost too much momentum. When the rear tire hit it, I was stopped dead in my tracks. Before I could react, I fell heavily on my left side and slid partway down the hill.

This is the steep section that i crashed on

This is the steep section that I crashed on

After I picked myself up, I got on the bike and started riding back home. My left hip and elbow were sore. I wanted to get back before my hip stiffened up.

I haven’t crashed on a road bike in years. I’ve had a few spills on the mountain bike though. When I got home, I ordered a set of tires for my Orbea road bike. I think I’ll get back out on the road to work myself into better shape.

Around 5:30pm, Donna and I drove over to Sport Rx on Santa Fe Street – the same place that puts refreshments out front for bicyclists. The Cyclo-Vets bicycle club was holding a “kit fit”  meeting there and Donna wanted to try on club cycling clothing. The Sport Rx facility is a cool, friendly place. They sell sport glasses and some clothing and helmets. They had a keg of pale ale on tap – just ask for a glass and help yourself!

From there we stopped at Sushi Ota. We thought we would have sushi for dinner, but they had a 90-minute wait! We went next door to Lanna Thai instead. I’d been craving pad thai anyway. The food and service was excellent – I’d give them 4.5 on a scale of 5.

Last night, I enjoyed a fun beer from Stone Brewing called Lukcy Basartd – that’s not a typo. It’s a spin-off from their popular Arrogant Bastard ale. We watched the final episode of Breaking Bad.

Stone Lukcy Basartd

Stone Lukcy Basartd

Donna has a doctor appointment today to get her annual physical. If it’s not too windy, we might take the Sea Eagle kayak out later.




San Clemente Canyon

I put on my cycling shorts and headed out on my mountain bike yesterday around 11am. I didn’t head for the beach, I wanted to ride mountain bike trails. I rode up the Rose Creek paved trail to Damon Avenue. Damon Avenue took me to Santa Fe  Street, where I turned north, parallel to I-5.

Santa Fe Street is a light commercial zone with small business parks. The Santa Fe RV Park is also on this street. As I rode past one business complex, I saw an interesting sign. It invited cyclists to stop for air, water and refueling.

An invitation for cyclist

An invitation for cyclists

I didn’t stop. I continued north to the end of the road and followed the paved Rose Canyon bicycle path for a few hundred yards. At the junction with San Clemente Canyon, I carried my bike across the railroad tracks and rode east along single-track dirt paths into San Clemente Canyon.

When I was growing up in the area, we often hiked in San Clemente Canyon. I haven’t been in this place for at least 40 years. The bottom of the canyon is overgrown with vegetation now and the trails are very narrow in places.

Trail in San Clemente Canyon

Trail in San Clemente Canyon

There were several trails intersecting each other and either climbing the south side of the canyon or dropping to the bottom of the canyon. I meandered up and down as I rode east. I wanted to find a particular tree. I have an old picture of me and my brother sitting in this tree. I was 16 years old at the time and Eddie was five or six.

Me and my brother, Eddie

Me and my brother, Eddie

I didn’t know if I could find this tree 42 years later. I knew I was in the right area. Then I spotted what looked to be the same tree, but viewed from the other side.

42 years later, I'm not sure if this is the same tree

42 years later, I’m not sure if this is the same tree

Riding up and down the canyon wall had me huffing and puffing. I need to get out here more often and work myself back into cycling shape. I was in much better condition when I rode my road bike most days last year.

The trails were challenging in some areas. Even the wide open sections had rocks in the hard-packed dirt, which kept me on my toes.

Watch out for rocks

Watch out for rocks

I tried to capture a steep, rutted downhill section, but the camera perspective doesn’t really show how steep it is.

Steep, rutted downhill

Steep, rutted downhill

I rode on the trails for about 40 minutes before I re-crossed the railroad tracks and headed home. I was out of water and feeling overheated. When I rode past the Sport Rx Glasses business with the sign inviting cyclist to stop, I stopped this time. They had a table next to the sidewalk with a five-gallon jug of drinking water in a rack that allowed the water to be easily poured from the jug. There were also some chewy granola bars on the table and a sign-up sheet to receive e-mails about bicycling events they sponsor.

Free refreshments for cyclist

Free refreshments for cyclists

I filled my water bottle and helped myself to a granola bar. Thanks, Sport Rx! I felt much better after taking a break. I rode home and was feeling whipped. Donna was out for a run when I returned. She came home a few minutes later.

Donna spent the rest of the afternoon working while I kicked back. Donna’s sister, Sheila, dropped off leftover ziti with marinara and meatballs from the Halloween party while I was out on my bike. We reheated it for dinner. I was just as tasty the second time around! She ordered it from The Venetian in Point Loma.

Last night, I watched the Monday Night Football game. Today, I have a number of errands to run. I’ll recover from the bike ride today and head out to the canyon again tomorrow.

Pre-Halloween Fun

On our way back to the Mission Bay RV Resort on Saturday, I stopped at the Shell gas station on Grand Avenue to fill our fuel tank. It’s a large station with room to maneuver. After I pulled in, I stopped short of the pumps and tried to see which lanes had diesel fuel. The station was busy and all of the lanes had cars in them. Donna was about to exit the coach to take a look when I said, “Forget about it.”

I noticed the sign on the roof over the pumps – clearance 12′-6″. The satellite dome on the roof of our coach is 12′-6″ above the ground. No way was I pulling up to the pump under a 12′-6″ structure. We’ll fill the tank next time we move. It’s 3/4 full, but I like to keep it filled when we’re parked for an extended period of time. This minimizes the air space in the tank and reduces the amount of water condensation.

We arrived at the park around 12:30pm. We had to wait for about an hour before they checked us into site 111. I’m not sure why we had to wait. I walked into the park and saw site 111 was open. Several other rigs were also waiting to check in.

We were set up in no time. I used the auto level feature on the HWH hydraulic system. I wasn’t happy with this feature before, but after I found and corrected the loose ground on the HWH control box, the auto level is working smoothly. All I have to do is press the button twice and the auto level sequence begins. It levels and stabilizes the coach with the hydraulic jacks and shuts itself off.

The park filled with weekenders. The park put up Halloween decorations and had activities for the kids. We had our own Halloween plans.

On Saturday evening, Dr. Jeff Sandler picked us up at the park and drove us to Donna’s sister Sheila’s house for a Halloween party. The party was for her son, Connor, and his friends, but the adults enjoyed themselves as well. We had adult beverages and great food.

Kids at the party

Kids at the party

The adults enjoyed the party

The adults enjoyed the party

We had fun and were back home by 9:30pm. At this time last year, Sheila had a Halloween party which we attended. While were at the party, those Dirty, Rotten Thieves stole our cargo trailer.

Sunday morning, Donna was up early. Jeff picked her up at 8am. They drove to Point Loma to watch Connor finish a 5k race. Donna’s other sister, Linda, picked Donna up afterward on her way to the airport. She was going to Ohio on business for a couple of days, then on to her home in Vermont for the remainder of the week. So we’ll have her car this week which is nice. After dropping Linda at the airport, Donna drove to meet Jeff, Sheila and Connor for breakfast at Snooze, a popular downtown breakfast spot.

Sheila and Connor after the race

Sheila and Connor after the race

While Donna was out and about, I rode the scooter over to the Model Yacht Pond at Paradise Point. I wanted to check out the radio-controlled (RC) power boats that are on the pond on Sundays. I posted about the Model Yacht Pond here.

There were a few guys with gas-powered RC boats there. The season is over, so there wasn’t a lot of activity. The RC boats have changed since I was involved in the hobby decades ago. Most people run larger gasoline (weed wacker type) water-cooled 2-stroke engines rather than the model nitro-methanol glow engines. Back in the day, glow engines ruled. The two-stroke gasoline engines are cheaper, more reliable and burn gasoline mixed with two-stroke oil, which is much cheaper than a nitro-methanol blend.

RC boat with a 26cc two stroke engine

RC boat with a 26cc two-stroke engine

Nice finish on  a mono hull race boat

Nice finish on a mono-hull race boat

A fast catamaran

A fast catamaran

I hung around for a little while and watched a guy dial in a sport hydro RC boat. This was a very fast boat and turned like it was on rails.

Sport hydro RC boat skimming past at 60mph

Sport hydro RC boat skimming past at 60mph

The hydroplane-type hulls are very fast and have unbelievable speed through the turns. The mono-hull boats require more finesse to get them turned.

Mono-hull RC boat sending up a rooster tail

Mono-hull RC boat sending up a rooster tail

I came back home around 11am and spent the rest of the day watching football. At this time last year, I won the football pool after picking 12 winners out of 14 games. I’m not doing that well this year, but I’ll have seven or eight more tries at it.

By the afternoon, the park was nearly empty. All of the weekend Halloween partyers had left.

This morning, I completed our health care elections. Open enrollment occurs in October. I almost forgot to do it. I have health care benefits through Volkswagen of America as a retiree. I’m thankful we don’t have to find health care through the Obama-care morass.

Today looks like it’ll be another beautiful day for a bike ride. I’ll unload our bikes from the trailer and go out for a ride.


Home on the Hill

Our first month at Mission Bay RV Resort at De Anza Cove in San Diego ended yesterday. One month is the maximum length of time you can stay in the park. After one month, you must leave for a period of at least 24 hours before you can check in again. I wrote about it last year in this post.

The City of San Diego has been fighting the residents of the mobile home park at De Anza which surrounds the RV park. This land was originally owned by the state. When the city worked out a lease with the state to add this land to their Mission Bay holdings in the 1950s, it was supposed to be a park for “travel trailers.”

In the 1970s, the city and state governments agreed to “phase out” permanent residents. At the same time, the state of California passed a law ensuring that residents could stay until the lease expired in 2003.

At the time the lease expired in 2003, residents filed a class action lawsuit against the city. They won an injunction in court allowing them to remain in their mobile homes – which may have once been mobile, but were made permanent long ago. The battle has been ongoing in the courts since then.

The “phasing out” continues. As residents pass away, their dwellings are demolished and the empty lot belongs to the city. Last month, the city council passed a bill to allocate $22 million to relocate the remaining residents. If they can reach an agreement, the mobile homes will disappear.

There has been much speculation over what will become of the area when that happens. The state still insists that the land was always intended for recreational use. There have been rumors of a resort hotel or enhanced RV resort. You know which rumor we want to believe.

I believe this lawsuit is the reason for the one-month maximum stay in the RV park. The city doesn’t want any chance of RV dwellers claiming residence in the park. Making us leave after a month is their insurance policy.

We opted to spend our 24-hour exile at the Sycuan Casino like we did last year. It’s about 30 miles from De Anza. It’s an easy drive and the distance is long enough to exercise the coach and get the running gear up to operating temperature. I think this is a good thing to do. We also run the generator while we’re parked at the casino. Monthly exercise for the generator is also good.

After we arrived and set up in the upper lot, I took my driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance to the casino’s security area. They require these documents to issue a free overnight pass – they actually gave us a two-night pass and encouraged us to stay and enjoy the casino. They didn’t require this documentation the first time we stayed here, just a driver’s license. Now they want to make sure we are the registered owners of a licensed and insured vehicle on their property.

Our house on the hill at Sycuan Casino

Our home on the hill at Sycuan Casino

We enjoyed a cold one at the casino sports bar, then walked back up to the upper lot called Bradley 2. Bradley 2 is the designated RV parking lot. It’s large and we are the only occupants at this time. Later, we returned to the casino and had dinner in one of the restaurants there. I had the kung pao chicken. Donna had a baja chicken bowl. Both dishes were mediocre at best, but there was lots of it. We both brought home leftovers that we’ll have for lunch today.

Donna made banana pancakes with walnuts, chocolate chips and dried cherries for breakfast this morning. We plan to shove off soon and head back to Mission Bay RV Resort to begin another month long stay.

Time Keeps on Slippin’

I mentioned wasting time playing a computer game called 2048 in my last post. It’s a matching game. The game has a board with 16 squares. It opens with two numbered tiles, numbered two or four. Every time you move a tile, another number two or four tile appears. Put two twos together and you get a four tile. Put two fours together, you get an eight tile and so on. The idea is to reach the number 2048 before the 16 squares are gridlocked with tiles. It’s challenging. I worked on a system and kept getting close – I would usually reach 1024 before I got locked out. Yesterday, I finally hit the magic number.



After I hit the winning number, I went out for a bicycle ride. I rode through Crown Point to Pacific Beach, where I stopped at Seňor Pancho for a plate of five rolled tacos with guacamole. Seňor Pancho is on Mission Boulevard on the northwest corner at Hornblend. It used to be a Der Weinerschnitzel when I was growing up in the area.

On the way back to the Mission Bay RV Resort, I stopped to watch sailboats on the bay.

Identical sailboats racing each other across the bay

Identical sailboats racing each other across the bay

I’ve joked many times about how every day is Saturday. The fact is, I lose track of the days many times. The time just slips away. While I was standing there, I realized it was Wednesday and our first month at Mission Bay RV Resort was coming to an end.

Mission Bay RV Resort is owned by the city of San Diego. The city only allows RVers to stay in the park for a maximum of one month. After a month, you’re required to leave the property for a minimum of 24 hours. I’ll go into what I think is the reasoning behind this in another post. Our time is up on Friday. That means I need to pack and prepare to leave today, so we can pull out tomorrow. We’ll go the Sycuan Casino near El Cajon and spend the night, then return on Saturday after serving our 24-hour exile.

When I mention staying in a parking lot overnight – such as a casino or Walmart lot when were on the road – I think some people get the impression that we’re living as homeless vagabonds. Nothing could be further from the truth. When we overnight in a parking lot, it’s a matter of convenience. We’re fully self-contained and live in a comfortable, albeit small home. Our home just happens to have wheels.

When we’re in a nice RV resort – or even boondocking in the desert, on a beach or along a river – we live what we consider to be an excellent lifestyle. We stay in places that generally have agreeable weather. We meet up with family and friends and make new friends. We take advantage of outdoor activities. We grill and dine outdoors often. We’re not roughing it. This is a lifestyle choice for us, not a road trip or vacation.

Some people have the means to take this lifestyle to an even greater level of luxury. Right now, there are at least four coaches in the park that cost well over one million dollars. The owners of these coaches may or may not be full-timers, but they spend months out of the year in their motorhomes. They could be living anywhere, but they choose to be here with us.

Donna read a Facebook post yesterday by one of her full-time RVing friends about her husband having surgery. Someone posted a reply suggesting that maybe they should get a hotel room for a few days to recuperate. What? Why would anyone leave their home to recover in a germ-filled hotel? Donna’s friend isn’t on a road trip. Like us, they’ve made a commitment to this lifestyle and their coach is their home.

I have much to do today before we head out. The temperature this afternoon will reach 80 degrees. We’ll have back-to-back travel days, so I probably won’t post for a couple of days.

The Solution

I haven’t posted since Sunday morning. This wasn’t due to laziness on my part – well maybe it was a factor. I just didn’t have much to say. My Sunday was consumed with NFL football. I watched the Chargers lose a nail biter when Kansas City kicked a field goal with 30 seconds left in the game. Donna went out for an easy spin on her bicycle, then spent the rest of the day taking care of business.

On Monday, I puttered around while Donna worked on her book revision. I did a lot of hand exercises with therapy putty and wasted time on a computer game called 2048. It doesn’t seem that hard until you try it. Then it becomes an obsession to score the 2048 tile. I have yet to get past 1024.

Yesterday, Donna went out on her bicycle at 8am to meet up with a training group on Fiesta Island. The group is part of a cycling club called Cyclo-Vets. This is a San Diego-based Masters Racing and recreational bicycling organization. Its members include dozens of national cycling champions and gold medalists in the Senior Olympics. The Tuesday morning ride is coached by a time trial coach, but is open to anyone wanting to improve speed and fitness. Donna learned some new techniques. They did intervals and high-cadence spinning over the 30-plus mile ride. She came back excited to join the club and plans to continue training with them every Tuesday morning. These coached sessions will surely help to increase her speed and racing confidence.

While Donna was out on her bike, I retrieved a ladder from the trailer and went to work cleaning our coach. We aren’t allowed to wash the coach with a hose and bucket of suds here in Mission Bay RV Resort. I did a waterless wash with a product called The Solution. This product was recommended by our friends and fellow Alpine Coach owners, Dave and Lynda Campbell. I purchased it at the FMCA Convention in Redmond, Oregon, but hadn’t tried it until yesterday.

The Solution waterless wash

The Solution waterless wash

The Solution comes in a gallon-size jug that contains a few ounces of a concentrated formula and an empty spray bottle. I added distilled water to the formula to make a full gallon. Then I poured The Solution from the gallon jug into the spray bottle. I applied a fine mist of the product to small sections of the coach and wiped it with a microfiber cloth. I used a second, clean microfiber cloth to buff the area. I cleaned the entire coach, from the roof line to the bottom of the basement compartments.

The Solution worked really well. It was a matter of spraying an area and wiping it clean. It took me two and a half hours and a little over a quart to clean the entire coach. I’m really pleased with its appearance – the coach is gleaming. Now it will be a matter of seeing how well the shine holds up. The Solution claims that waxing isn’t necessary when this product is applied.

Clean and shiny

Clean and shiny

Later, I rode the scooter to the Verizon store. I wrote in my last post about a discrepancy in the credit that the Verizon salesman, Christian, told us we would get for Donna’s old phone and what the Verizon customer service support person told me. Christian said we would receive a $200 credit while a one-hour chat session with the support person resulted in an offer of a $17 credit. I told Christian what had transpired. He said he would straighten it out and that we would definitely get $200. He got on the phone with the Verizon trade-in center. He was on the phone with them for 50 minutes!

It turns out the trade-in center was supposed to e-mail a promotional code to me. With this code, we will qualify for $200 versus the “normal” trade-in of $17. They said I would receive my code within 48 hours. There went another hour of my life dealing with Verizon.

After I left the Verizon store, I stopped at the Pacific Beach farmers’ market. I picked up San Diego wildflower honey for my daughter, Shauna. She has pollen allergies and wants to try the honey therapy. I also bought more Rickaroons. We love ’em. And I picked up a couple of bottles of extra virgin olive oil from a local family-owned business.

By the time I got home, it was time to go to the Offshore Tavern and Grill for my free football pool drink. Donna and I didn’t fare too well in our football picks, but at least I got a free drink.

Donna saw an Alpine Coach pull into the park while I was out. We also saw a Kymco Downtown 300i scooter, identical to ours, in one of the sites. Last evening, we took a walk through the park and introduced ourselves to the Alpine Coach owners, Marvin and Donna. Their coach is a 40-foot mid-door triple slide like ours, but it’s a 2008 model.

Marvin owned a construction business that specialized in building horse arenas, race tracks, rodeo and fairgrounds. He traveled throughout the country operating his business. Over the years (since the 1980s), he’s owned 13 different motorhomes that he used to travel to the construction sites. He’s owned his Alpine since 2008, when he bought it new. Like most Alpine Coach owners, he’s enthusiastic about the brand.

He sold his business and retired at the age of 50. They have a home in Boise, Idaho but do a lot of traveling. They come to San Diego several times a year. His wife, Donna has rheumatoid arthritis and gets regular infusion treatments here at Scripps. They agree that San Diego has the best doctors and medical facilities.

This morning, I broke out the ladder again and finished cleaning the windows on the coach. When I washed the coach yesterday, the front windows were too warm to clean them. I got on it early this morning before the sun heated them up.

Clean glass

Clean glass

We have another beautiful day ahead with temperatures in the mid 70s. I think I’ll ride my bicycle to the beach this afternoon.

Friends and Family

I rode the scooter to Dr. Leek’s office Friday morning. He examined my hand and removed the stitches. He said it looked good and now I need to work on motion and hand strength. We set another appointment for four weeks out. He told me I could cancel the appointment if everything is going well three weeks from now.

I knew Donna was busy on her book revision, so I didn’t come straight home. I rode the scooter to Ocean Beach and stopped for lunch. I kicked around the beach. It was a beautiful day. The north end of the beach near the jetty is called Dog Beach. It’s one of the few beaches in the county where dogs are allowed on the sand.

Dog Beach

Dog Beach

I made another stop at the Model Yacht Pond. Two guys were sailing their model sailboats on the pond. The sailboats are interesting. The boat in the photo is about 40″ long. Servo motors with clever linkages are used to trim the sails. A servo operating a block-and-tackle on the stern applies tension on the carbon fiber mast. This is used to keep the mast from whipping about in gusty winds. The model sailboats are cool, but I’m a motorhead. I’ll come back to the pond next Sunday to see the power boats.

Radio controlled model sailboat

Radio-controlled model sailboat

Last week, when we bought our new smartphones, Christian (the Verizon guy) told us they would send return packaging via mail in 10 to 14 days to return our old phones. On Thursday, I received an e-mail from Verizon with a USPS label attached and instructions to return my phone by October 24th. This confused me. I went online to the Verizon site and started a chat session to ask what I needed to do. I had two phones to return but only one label, and if I waited to receive the packaging that Christian said we would get, I would miss the October 24th deadline.

I spent an hour online chatting with a customer service representative who didn’t understand my issue. She was also the slowest typist ever. I would sit and stare at my screen which said a message was being typed for several minutes before I would receive a one-line question. I finally came to the conclusion that we have two returns with different instructions. My old Samsung S4 needed to be sent with the label that was e-mailed to me. Donna’s old Samsung SII will be sent when we receive the packaging for it. There’s still a disparity in the credit amount we should get for the old phones. I need to go back to the Verizon store and straighten that out, the customer service representative had me going in circles until I gave up and ended the chat.

On Friday night, Donna’s sister, Linda joined us for dinner. I grilled a Morrocan-spiced rack of lamb which Donna served with a brown rice pilaf and sauteed zucchini, peppers and onions. Later we watched an old movie – My Cousin Vinny. It’s a great movie. Joe Peschi and Marissa Tomei are both outstanding in this comedy classic.

Morrocan Spiced rack of lamb

Morrocan-spiced rack of lamb

Saturday morning I rode over to the Pacific Beach post office and mailed my old phone. At 11am, my daughter, Shauna, picked me up. We made the 90-minute drive up to Menifee to visit my stepdad, Ken. We stopped at the Kentucky Fried Chicken near his place and bought an eight-piece meal to have for lunch with Ken. Ken loves Kentucky Fried Chicken. I can’t even remember the last time I had it.

Anyway, we sat and talked for a couple of hours before we headed back. On the way home, we stopped at Trader Joe’s in the La Jolla Village Square. Donna had sent me a text message with a long list of groceries to pick up there. I’m glad Shauna was with me because the store was a zoo and she knew where to find everything.

Donna and Linda were in Lakeside at a country music festival with Mona. They made plans to attend this event a few weeks ago when Mona told them she had two extra tickets.

Linda, Mona and Donna at the country music festival

Linda, Mona and Donna at the country music festival

Last night I watched an entertaining Moto GP race race from Phillip Island, Australia. I won’t spoil the results in case a reader has it recorded. Donna came home from the festival around 9:30pm, halfway through the race.

The Mission Bay RV Resort has the usual weekend crowd with lots of kids in the park. Today is NFL football day. I think I’ll do some hand exercises while I watch the games. I broke out my number 14 Dan Fouts throwback jersey –  I hope to see the Chargers beat the Kansas City Chiefs and go 6-1.


Just Another Day

I haven’t posted since Wednesday, mainly because I haven’t done anything special. We’ve been at the Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego for three weeks now. Our days are pretty routine. I can’t say much about the weather. Every day for the past week has begun with an overcast marine layer, with the temperature in the mid-60s. By noon at the latest, the overcast burns off as the temperature rises to the mid-70s. Very predictable. But ‘m not complaining.

When we hit the road 15 months ago, we started out like most full-timers do. That is, we hit the ground running. We acted like tourists on vacation, trying to see all of the sights and flitting from place to place. We went from Michigan to upstate New York, then across the country to the Pacific Coast in Washington. We followed the coast south and made our way to San Diego last fall after just nine weeks on the road. We covered something like 7,000 miles in that time.

When we arrived in San Diego last year, the idea of settling in one place for three months seemed strange. We still saw lots of local sights and went out and about. We learned to adjust to our new way of life and really started living the full-time RV lifestyle.

Our coach is our home. Sometimes we’re homebodies. Donna is busy working on a book revision and doesn’t have time to sightsee right now. She still enjoys getting out on her bicycle or jogging in Mission Bay Park on a daily basis. I usually get out and go for a walk at the beach or ride my bike. In the evenings, we just hang out. It’s no different from when we lived in a sticks-and-bricks home. Some days are couch potato days.

The big difference is that we can move wherever we want, whenever we want. When we left San Diego at the end of 2013, we moved at more leisurely pace. Since trading up to our new (to us) coach in January of this year, we’ve covered about 6,000 miles, less than 700 miles a month on average.  We spent January through April in Arizona, mostly in one place (Mesa). Then we made a big loop of the western states over the summer. We’ve learned to break up our travel and keep our travel days under 250 miles. When we stop, we usually stop for at least two nights.

The pace we ran in the beginning was unsustainable. It was exhausting. Reading other full-timer’s blogs, I see this is a common occurrence. Most of us start out thinking life on the road means constant motion. Donna and I are better at planning our travels now. We’ve settled on having extended stays in San Diego and Arizona. These are our home bases. The fall in San Diego is hard to beat. The climate is mild and there are so many things to do. Arizona is a great place to spend the winter months.

Next year, we plan to make another cross-country trip, but we’ll do it at our own pace. We’ll have certain destinations that we want to reach by a certain date, but we’ll be able to be flexible between planned stops.

When we lived in our sticks-and-bricks home, I enjoyed grilling. I also enjoyed eating the great meals Donna prepared. That hasn’t changed since we hit the road. In fact, I grill more often than ever because we’ve got grilling weather year ’round.

On Wednesday evening, our friend Mona visited us. She and Donna took the Sea Eagle kayak out for an hour-long cruise on the bay. When they returned, I grilled boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Donna prepared hot sauce-butter to put over the chicken and served it over corn-and-spinach salad with a baked yam on the side. The hot sauce-butter was an adaptation of the steak recipe she prepared last week.

Grilled hot sauce-butter chicken with corn and spinach salad and baked yam

Grilled hot sauce-butter chicken with corn-and-spinach salad and baked yam

Last night we enjoyed wild Alaskan cod poached with tomatoes, summer squash, white beans, onions and red peppers, and grilled rosemary toast.

Wild Alaskan cod

Wild Alaskan cod poached with tomatoes and summer squash

I have an  appointment for a follow-up visit at Dr. Leek’s office this morning. He’ll remove the stitches from my hand and I can start working on regaining hand strength and finger motion. My fingers are very stiff now.

Other than that, it’s just another day in the life of a full-time RVer.

50,000 Hits

Yesterday marked a milestone for this blog. We had our 50,000th hit! It’s gratifying to know people check in on us and find the blog interesting enough to come back from time to time.

Once again, the skies cleared up by noon. I was finally able to get a sock and shoe on my right foot. The toe healed and is fine. With shoes on my feet, I put on my helmet and took my mountain bike for a ride by the bay. I left De Anza Cove and rode south along the east side of the bay. Near the Hilton Hotel, I saw an interesting water toy. It looked like an oversized tricycle. It seats two and the rear wheels are paddle wheels. I saw two of them out on the water and one on the shore.

Water trikes

Water trikes

It looked like they moved along without too much effort. You see all kinds of things on the bay.

I rode with the heel of my right palm on the handle bar. The swelling in my hand has gone down, but the stitches still pull and I lack finger strength. The stitches will be removed on Friday when I go in for a follow-up with Dr. Leek.

After my ride, Donna and I rode the scooter to the Bayard Street farmers’ market in Pacific Beach. It’s not that large, but they have plenty of fresh produce. Donna discovered Rickaroons there. Rickaroons are healthy and delicious energy snacks – a perfect treat after a bike ride.

Farmers' market on Bayard Street between Hornblend and Garnet

Farmers’ market on Bayard Street between Hornblend and Garnet

I made the usual stop at Offshore Tavern for my Tuesday free drink. The winner of the football pool buys a round for the rest of the guys who entered the pool. Although there are more than 30 entries, only half a dozen or so show up for their free one.

Last night, I watched last weekend’s Moto GP race in Japan that I had recorded. Marc Marquez sealed his second consecutive Moto GP World Championship at the age of 21. Moto GP is the pinnacle of motorcycle road racing. This was the first time Honda captured the championship at the Twin Ring Motegi race track, which they own. Marquez is destined to break many records if he stays healthy.

We have a thick marine layer overhead this morning. The rain showers didn’t hit us in the night. The overcast should burn off by mid-day. I expect another pleasant afternoon. Donna’s friend, Mona, is coming by later in the day and the two of them plan to take the kayak out on the bay.