Author Archives: Mike Kuper

How an RV 50 Amp Circuit Works

Lately I’ve been seeing questions about the electrical power supply in RVs. Specifically, in one Facebook RV group, someone asked how large a generator should they buy for their travel trailer. The answers given by some people were confusing or downright incorrect. I’ll take a minute to try to explain how this works as simply as I can.

Recreational vehicles typically are wired for a 30 amp or 50 amp power supply. This is where the confusion begins. It seems like a 50 amp power supply would be capable of supplying 20 amps more than the 30 amp power supply. It doesn’t work that way. The 30 amp power supply uses a three-prong plug – a hot lead, a neutral and a ground. All current flows through one hot lead. A 50 amp power supply uses a four-prong lead – two hot leads (L1 and L2), a neutral and a ground. Each hot lead – L1 and L2 – can provide up to 50 amps of current.

An RV wired for 50 amp service has the power outlets and electrical consumers split into two separate circuits. Each circuit has the capability of providing up to 50 amps of current. For example, L1 might provide power to the front air conditioning unit, the microwave/convection oven and half of the wall outlets. L2 might provide power for the rear air conditioning unit, the converter/battery charger and the rest of the wall outlets. A 30 amp coach has all of the consumers and outlets on one power supply circuit. So, we can see that the 50 amp service can really supply up to 100 amps while the 30 amp service is limited to 30 amps.

Back to the question – how much power do I need from a generator? To answer this, we have to understand a few terms. First is voltage. Voltage is electromotive force – think of it as the pressure creating the flow of electricity. Amps describe current – it tells us how much current is flowing through the circuit. Watts describe power – the rate of electrical transfer. We need to understand watts because that’s how electrical consumers are rated and it’s also how generators are rated. The formula is simple – watts = volts X amps.

In a coach wired for 50 amp service we can use the formula to see that when the coach is plugged in to a 50 amp service, we have 120 volts times 50 amps = 6,000 watts on L1 and 6,000 watts on L2 – 12,000 total watts ( sometimes listed as 12kW). Does this mean I need a 12kW generator? That would be expensive.

Looking at the information regarding typical appliance loads in my Onan generator manual, I see the following:

Appliance                                               Load (watts)

Air conditioner                                       1400 – 2000

Battery charger/converter                     300 – 2000

Microwave/convection oven                  1,000 – 1500

Electric hair dryer                                     1000 -1500

Television                                                    200 -600

Coffee maker                                              550 – 750

As you can see, anything with a heating element will require quite a bit of power. Also, large electric motors like the one in an air conditioner also requires a lot of power. The power requirement drops after start-up. In other words, the maximum power requirement for an electric motor comes when the motor is first activated, then drops as the  motor RPM stabilizes. Likewise, a heating element draws the highest amount of current at start-up and the power requirement drops as it heats up. Our Dometic Penguin II air conditioners have a delay built in on start-up and both units never start at the same time – there’s a few seconds of delay before the second unit kicks in.

Our coach is wired for 50 amp service, but our generator is a 7.5kW Onan Quiet Diesel. It provides about 30 amps of current on each circuit. So L1 can provide enough power to supply about 3,600 watts of electrical consumers. Likewise L2 can provide 3,600 watts. With the circuits on the coach split, I see that this should be adequate. The only issue I have is if I want to run the front air conditioner, the microwave/convection oven and the coffee maker at the same time, I may overload the circuit and trip the breaker on the generator. So, if we’re cooking breakfast and making coffee, I don’t run the front air conditioner at the same time. If we need AC, I can run the rear air conditioner as it’s wired to L2.

On shore power, we have more than enough power – 12,000 watts total – to run everything without concern. I hope this makes sense and my simplified explanation helps someone understand the power requirements and how to choose generator size.

We’re continuing to enjoy great weather here in Mesa. We really like Viewpoint Golf and RV Resort. I’m hitting the pickleball courts four or five times a week and Donna has been playing more and she’s really stepping her game up. That’s all for now.

 

Bachelor Days in Mesa

I haven’t posted in a week – that’s a long layoff for me. The thing is, I just haven’t had anything exciting to add. Donna was away from Thursday morning, January 4th through Wednesday evening January 10th. While she was away, I settled into a fairly boring routine – I wasn’t bored, it just wasn’t anything to write about.

I started most of my days on the pickleball court. Then I would come home, make lunch, feed the cat and clean her litter box. Then do dishes and sweep the floor. With my domestic chores done, I’d read for a while before heading out for happy hour with the guys at Lucky Lou’s. On Monday, I hit happy hour at Red, White and Brew and caught up with my favorite bartender there, Kasondra.

We had a cold front move into the area on Tuesday afternoon. With it came wind and rain Tuesday night. I covered the Spyder in anticipation of rain. When I looked outside before going to bed, I noticed the cover for the Spyder was gone! The wind had carried it away. I went out with a flashlight and found the cover on the next street to the north of us. I covered the Spyder again and made sure I had it secured with the bungee hooks.

Meanwhile Donna spent the weekend with her brother and his family in North Miami, Florida. It wasn’t too warm there – the east coast was having a cold snap that extended all the way down to south Florida. Mark had rented a house for a month there and hosted a party on Saturday for their Miami friends. On Sunday, Mark rented a pontoon boat for the day and they traveled south on the Intracoastal Waterway and to the Miami River.

After the weekend, Donna went up to Boca Raton to visit her friend, Lynne Ogren. She spent the night in Boca Raton then moved down to Fort Lauderdale to visit her friend, Karen Dayan, who also lives in Boca Raton, but had a rented a room at the W Hotel. She had a good time visiting her friends and hanging out.

View of the Intracoastal Waterway from Donna’s room at the W in Fort Lauderdale.

Another view of the ICW and the Atlantic Ocean on the left

On Wednesday morning, I went to the pickleball courts which were very wet – it had rained most of the night. I pushed the water off of the court with a roller made for drying the court for about half an hour, then rain drops started falling again and I gave up. I played Thursday morning with Donna and this morning I played with the 3.0-3.5 group. I’m prepping for a tournament tomorrow and I felt like I played well today. Hopefully it’ll carry over to tomorrow’s tournament.

Rain clouds just before sunset

Thursday evening I went to Lucky Lou’s for happy hour. Donna walked there and arrived around 4:30pm to join me. She wanted to make the four-mile walk to get her exercise before she had a beer. We got take-out from the Thai food place next door to Lou’s and brought it home for dinner.

The mornings have been a bit chilly – upper 40s to low 50s. The afternoons have been nice with temperatures in the low 70s after the cold front passed. This weekend we should see mid to upper 70s and no rain in the forecast for the coming week.

Donna asked me to share this article with you that she wrote on behalf of The Home Depot for KOA about choosing the right RV grill. It was published just this week. Enjoy!

Snow Birds

We have a variety of birds visiting our site at Viewpoint Golf and RV Resort in Mesa, Arizona. Snowbirds aren’t just people from the north wintering here – a lot of real birds also come to the southwest for the nice winter weather. We set up a hummingbird feeder with a suction cup on our living room window. It soon attracted a number of hummingbirds that visit throughout the day.

Before long we noticed other birds also came to the feeder. I’m guessing they’re attracted to the smell of the sweet nectar. We had finches perching on the feeder and I even saw a woodpecker – I’m pretty sure it was a gila woodpecker – drinking the nectar from the feeder. This prompted Donna to suggest setting up our finch feeder.

The finch feeder is a wooden tube with a mesh sock hanging from the bottom. I filled it with nyger seed. Nyger is also spelled niger and sometimes it’s called thistle. It doesn’t come from a thistle plant though, it’s the seed of the African yellow daisy. It’s grown in Africa and parts of India and is also used in local cuisine there. The name niger comes from it’s origin in Nigeria. In 1998 the wild bird food industry trademarked the name nyger. It’s a favorite food for finches and other birds feed on it too. Finches can live on it exclusively and the high fat and protein content help them get through cold winter nights.

Finch feeder

Now we have finches and sparrows in the orange tree on our site flitting back and forth from the feeder and tree. Some of nyger seed falls to the ground and in the late afternoon quail come to our site and pick at it. It’s fun to watch the birds.

Wednesday evening our friends Joel and Lana picked us for happy hour and dinner at The Hub Grill and Bar down on Baseline Road at Sossaman – a few miles from here. The food is good and they have a wide variety of beers on tap. We came here once before with our friends, Hans and Lisa. I had the pot roast sandwich – it’s a mid-western take on a French dip. It has sliced pot roast beef on a hoagie roll with mozarella and is served with a bowl of brown gravy for dipping instead of aus jus. It was tasty and I brought half of it home.

We came home early. Donna had already packed for her trip to Florida but had to be up early for her flight. She was heading to Miami to meet up with her brother and his family. He rented a place in Miami to celebrate his birthday and get away from the cold weather in Philadelphia for a month. It turns out Donna had to pack some cool weather clothing – they’re having unseasonably cold weather there, but it should warm up over the weekend. Meanwhile, we’re having great weather here in Mesa.

I didn’t sleep well Wednesday night and Donna was up at 4:30am. I got out of bed to see her off – I’ll be fending for myself for the next six days. I didn’t take much advantage of the nice weather on Thursday – I mostly read and napped, then met the guys for a happy hour beer at Lucky Lou’s. The temperature reached 77 degrees.

This morning I played pickleball for a couple of hours and I’m looking forward to another day of abundant sunshine and mid-70s temperatures.

Goodbye 2017

Happy New Year first of all! Donna and I spent a quiet New Year’s Eve mostly binge watching early season reruns of Breaking Bad. Today is the first day of 2018. As we look forward to the year ahead, it’s always nice to reflect on the past year.

2017 was an eventful year filled with many good times for us. We started the year in San Diego, then moved to Arizona where we spent a month at RV Renovators getting the wall on our coach repaired. We stayed in Mesa, Arizona at Viewpoint until mid-April, then returned to San Diego for a month.

Our travels took us north through California. We stayed at the Escapees Park of the Sierras at Coarsegold where we met new friends and fellow pickleball enthusiasts, Joe and Melinda. Then we moved to Sacramento where Donna found excellent bike trails and I reminisced about my elementary school days there. We also found a fantastic boondocking spot at Lake Shastina.

We continued north to moochdock in my daughter, Alana’s, driveway in Arlington, Washington. We were there for our granddaughter, Lainey’s, graduation from high school. Heading east from there we stopped in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho where we were able to hook up with my high school buddy, Gary Stemple and spend a day on the lake.

We moved on to South Dakota where Donna had to get a replacement driver’s license – she lost hers somewhere in San Diego. Next up was one of our big events for the year – the Register Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). It was a bucket list item for Donna and we spent a fun-filled week with our friends Jeff and Deb Spencer and also their friends Geoff, Tom and Fred.

Next up was the total eclipse of the sun in Nebraska. Our next major event was crewing for the Hearts A’Fire hot air balloon owned by our friends Brad and Jessica Rice. It was our third straight year at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

These are just a few of the highlights. In 2017, the states we visited were California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. If you ever want to look up a post about a certain area, you can search for posts by state by clicking on the state name in the categories on the sidebar of this page.

Saturday night Donna prepared green curry shrimp and vegetables over brown basmati rice for dinner served with a side of grilled baby bok choy. On New Year’s Eve she topped that by making a bowl of her famous split pea soup served with a portobello mushroom stuffed with crab meat.

Saturday’s green curry shrimp

New Year’s Eve plates with a glass of wine

I often mention our meals because it illustrates the fact that we’re not camping out. This is our lifestyle and we don’t eat out often or roast hot dogs over a campfire. We mostly dine on nutritious, delicious meals that Donna prepares in the galley of our motorhome.

The last day of 2017 was cloudy here at Viewpoint RV & Golf Resort in Mesa, Arizona. The temperature only reached 71 degrees but it felt chillier. Today we have abundant sunshine and it feels nice. The high should reach the mid 70s and the nice weather is forecast to continue for coming week. We don’t know where 2018 will take us, but I’m sure we’re in for more good times and great places.

Runaway Spyder

We’ve settled in at Viewpoint RV & Golf Resort after our first week here in Mesa, Arizona. Viewpoint is an age-qualified community catering to people 55 and older. It covers nearly a square mile with most sites occupied by park model modular homes. There are 331 RV sites with full hook-ups for motorhomes or trailers. There are more than 1,000 sites total.

Our spacious site 5245 after sunrise

The park boasts of 75,000 square feet of recreation space and the residents tend to be very active. There are two golf courses – an 18-hole championship course and a nine-hole executive course – plus a pro shop. There’s a softball field. They have 10 tennis courts and five pickleball courts. There are four heated swimming pools and seven spas. There are two fitness centers and a woodshop. Also onsite are a restaurant and bar, hair and nail salon and a massage therapist. They have a number of clubs including a hiking club that Donna likes to go out with.

I’m not a golfer, so the activity I mainly participate in is pickleball, of course! Pickleball is a great sport and Donna and I find places to play most of the time throughout the country. In San Diego, we play on indoor courts set up on hardwood basketball courts. The indoor game is played with a softer ball with a thinner wall construction than the outdoor balls. They all weigh about the same – between 0.8 ounces and 0.9 ounces.

Here at Viewpoint, we play on outdoor courts. We’ve joined the pickleball club and play frequently – five days a week for me – with the 3.0-3.5 group. The level of play is quite high and many of the players in 3.0-3.5 group would actually qualify as 4.0 level players.

In San Diego, the style of play on the indoor courts involved a lot of hard hits and slamming the ball. Although lob shots were possible, you have to be aware of the ceiling as hitting the ceiling with the ball is deemed out of bounds. Many players there hit hard shots, low and fast from the baseline.

Here at Viewpoint, the game is played mostly with a more advanced style. In higher level pickleball, you’ll see the point set up with a deep serve. The ball must bounce on the court in the proper area before the serve can be returned. The return of serve must bounce anywhere on the court before it can be hit with the third shot. These rules apply both indoors and outdoors. Higher level players will hit a drop shot on the third shot. The idea is to drop the ball in the non-volley zone. This is an area covering the first seven feet beyond the net – players refer to it as the kitchen. If you enter this zone, you cannot hit a volley – that is, you must let the ball bounce before you can hit, no striking the ball in the air before it bounces.

This rule keeps players from standing at the net and swatting the ball. The way we play here, many times a successful third shop drop is followed with a dink. A dink is when you hit the ball softly – just enough to clear the 36-inch high net and drop it into your opponents’ kitchen. A series of dinks will follow as each player tries to hit a certain angle or spot that will create an opening or one of the players will hit the ball too high or beyond the kitchen and the opposing player will pounce with a hard winner.

This is a very satisfying way to play. It requires more control and skill than just trying to hit winners from the baseline or slamming the ball back and forth. If my explanation doesn’t make sense, check out championship pickleball on YouTube. You’ll see what I mean as this is how championship level pickleball is played.

Sunset reflecting off the Superstition Mountains east of Viewpoint

Last evening Donna and I went to Lucky Lou’s for a happy hour beer with the guys. When we came home I parked the Spyder in front of the trailer. This morning it was on the gravel next to the trailer! I pulled it back onto the concrete – I didn’t release the parking brake to move it. I was sure I had set the brake the night before. I checked it and the brake was set, it just wasn’t set hard enough! A neighbor came over and said the Spyder had rolled into the street so he pushed back into the site on the gravel next to the trailer. Mystery solved. I’ll have to double check the parking brake from now on.

True to the forecast, the weather warmed up as the week wore on. Yesterday we had a high of 79 degrees. The mornings are cool though with overnight lows in the 40s. Today we should see upper 70s with clear blue skies.

The Cat and the Hummingbird

Before we left San Diego, our friend, Sini, gave us a hummingbird feeder. This feeder attaches to window glass with a suction cup. We used it at Mission Bay RV Resort and have it set up again here at Viewpoint RV Resort in Mesa, Arizona. I attached it high on the living room window right next to Ozark the cat’s window perch.

Ozark loves napping in the window and now she has entertainment there as well. At first the hummingbirds were a bit skittish and Ozark would try to reach them. She would make little cat sounds and paw at the glass or lunge forward. She soon learned that she cannot get to the hummingbirds. The glass has a solar film that reflects like a one-way mirror. Most of the time the hummingbirds can’t see Ozark, but when they do, it doesn’t really matter. They’ve also learned that Ozark can’t get to them.

Ozark and a hummingbird eyeing each other

I’d almost forgotten how spectacular the desert sunsets can be in Arizona. With a few high, thin clouds, the sunsets are fiery and colorful. On Christmas Eve, I shot a photo of the sunset here at Viewpoint.

Arizona sunset

Donna baked brownies on Christmas Eve. One batch was chocolate gingerbread brownies and another batch was almond butter (gluten-free) brownies. On Christmas morning, we went to the pickleball courts and worked on a few drills, then some players came along and we played several games. Pickleball is played at a high level here and we had a lot of fun.

Then Donna prepared asparagus spears wrapped with prosciutto and boursin herb cheese as appetizers. We were invited to spend Christmas afternoon and dinner with our friends, Howard and Sara Graff. Sara’s brother, Stanley, was also visiting from Denver. Donna brought the appetizers and brownies.

The Graff’s Christmas tree – if you knew Sara you would understand the elf legs sticking out!

Sara and Stanley tag-teamed in the kitchen and prepared a complicated recipe for chicken paprikas, also known as paprikash. Chicken paprikash is a Hungarian meal. The chicken is simmered for an extended period of time to infuse paprika and other spices. It’s served with boiled egg noodles that are like small dumplings and a thick, creamy sauce. Although Donna had paprikash before, it was a new dish for me and it was delicious. The egg noodle dumplings reminded me of of a German version called spätzle that I had several years ago in Munich.

Chicken paprikash

We visited for several hours and talked about a wide range of subjects. We also sampled a couple of Scotch whiskys that I hadn’t tried before. One was Bruichladdich Laddie – an Isley (say eye-luh) single malt Scotch that paradoxically is unpeated. Most Isley Scotch is heavily peated and has a very smoky flavor. In fact, another Bruichladdich offering called Octomore is considered the most heavily peated malt. Laddie is a very smooth Scotch Whisky.

The other Scotch I tried was Talisker Storm. This is a no-age statement bottling that comes from the Isle of Skye – I think Talisker is the only distillery on Skye. This was a flavorful and complex whiskey. I picked up a hint of sea salt – I wouldn’t call it briny, but it has a hint of saltiness that permeates the cask while aging by the sea. A great drink in my opinion.

Before we knew it, it was going on 6pm and we said our goodbyes until next time. It was a nice way to relax on Christmas day.

We had plenty of action on the pickleball courts again this morning. The mornings have been cold – the overnight temperature dropped to the low 40s. We expect to see close to 70 degrees this afternoon with a warming trend for the rest of the week. We might have high 70s by Friday. I hope you had an enjoyable Christmas regardless of weather wherever you are.

Winter Solstice

Our friend Sini left Mission Bay RV Resort on Monday and flew from San Diego to Seattle to spend Christmas with friends and family. She left the keys for her Saturn Vue with us so we could use her car – we had a plan for her to retrieve her keys when she returned. The car was a big help when I started packing our gear on Tuesday. I was able to load our chairs, ladder, Weber Q grill and a few odds and ends, then drive over to the lot where our cargo trailer was stored. Thanks, Sini!

On Tuesday evening, I rode the Spyder over to Offshore Tavern and Grill and Donna walked up to meet me for a final happy hour and taco Tuesday dinner. We said our farewells to the guys and to Leann, the bartender. We’ll be back in September – I’ve booked three months beginning September 25th.

I only had a few things left to pack on Wednesday morning. Donna went to her early morning boot camp for her final workout. Once again, our neighbor from Louisiana, Larry, loaded the Traeger smoker grill into his van and we drove it over to the trailer. Pulling the Traeger on its small plastic wheels is a chore, driving it over in the van was nice. Thanks, Larry! And thanks, Brenda (Larry’s wife) for the yummy homemade pralines!

I checked all of our tire pressures and added air all the way around. The trailer tires needed air as well. It’s common for tires to lose a pound or two of pressure per month and we’d been sitting for two months. Plus the ambient temperature was cooler which also affects the air pressure in the tires. I’m a real stickler on proper tire pressures. Underinflation is the number one cause of tire failure and a blowout is no joke.

Over the past eight months or so, when we’re packing up, Ozark the cat senses something is up. Before we know it she’ll hide behind the sofa and remain there until we reach our destination. I don’t know if being stationary for two months relieved her travel anxiety, but she didn’t hide. She ended up riding quietly in her crate.

We pulled out of our site at 11:30 am and hitched the trailer. Over by the boat dock at the overflow lot, an osprey perched on a lamp post watched us. Ospreys are sometimes called fish hawks as fish is their main source of food. They excel at plucking fish from a body of water and are often seen around Mission Bay.

Osprey on a lamp post

We were rolling down the road shortly before noon, making the familiar drive out I-8 east. We made the usual stop east of Laguna summit at the Buckman Springs rest area for lunch. Donna made ham sandwiches and we sat outdoors at a picnic table to enjoy a little sunshine with our lunch.

It was an uneventful drive to the Imperial Dunes where we exited I-8 at Ogilby Road. Road construction is ongoing on I-8 and the westbound ramps for Ogilby are closed, but the exit and entry ramps on the eastbound side are open.

We missed the turnoff for our usual spot in the desert, but it didn’t matter. We turned off on the east side of Ogilby at the next obvious trail into the desert – it’s BLM land and dispersed camping is allowed in this area for up to 14 days. I was ready for a break from driving and we were set up in no time – not much to it when we’re boondocking. We had a nice, level spot and I didn’t even put the jacks down. I just popped out the slides and got comfortable.

Quiet sunset in the desert

We remarked how quiet it was out in the desert. There were other RVs there, but no one was within a quarter mile of us. To the west, we saw only open desert out the windshield. I was looking forward to a good night’s sleep as I didn’t sleep well the night before.

It wasn’t to be though. Shortly after we retired for the night, the wind kicked up. We had howling gusts of wind that rocked the coach and had the slide toppers flapping. I slept fitfully. We wanted an early start Thursday morning, so I was a little short on sleep again.

We were only about 10 miles from the Arizona border. Once we crossed the border, we continued for another 12 miles to Fortuna Road. We stopped there so I could pick up water filter elements at Al’s RV Store. This shop is well-stocked and has just anything you might need for your RV. And the parking lot is big enough to park a big rig with easy entry and exit. From there, we crossed over I-8 to the Pilot-Flying J on the north side. I topped up the tank with 63 gallons of fuel at $2.70/gallon – about 75 cents less per gallon than diesel fuel costs in California!

We bypassed the usual shortcut through Maricopa and continued on I-8 until we hit I-10. I wanted to stop at the Blue Beacon truck wash in Eloy, near Casa Grande. The coach was badly in need of a wash, but it was too expensive to get a wash in San Diego. Mission Bay RV Resort doesn’t allow you to wash your coach. You need to hire a mobile detailer to get a wash job there and they charge exorbitant prices.

We pulled into Viewpoint RV Resort in Mesa, Arizona around 3:30 pm – we lost an hour when we crossed into Arizona. Arizona is on Mountain Standard Time year ’round. So at this time of year, it’s an hour later than Pacific Time. When everyone else changes to daylight time, Arizona is the same as Pacific Time.

Backing the trailer into our site took a few attempts. The narrow roads here make it tough, but we got it done without any problems. We’ll complete our set-up today. I need to wash the windshield cover before I put it on and then we can set up our mat, table and chairs. This will be home for the next three months.

The wind I mentioned in the desert was due to a cold front moving in from the north. It was chilly when we arrived – about 60 degrees. Overnight, the temperature dropped below freezing! Yesterday was the winter solstice – the shortest amount of daylight for the year. This morning it was only 49 degrees in the coach – we don’t run the heater at night. We have the heat pumps running now and our plans to play pickleball at 8 am were dashed – we play on outdoor courts here. Maybe we can play later or wait for warmer weather which should come over the weekend.

 

The Social Side of RVing

We’re down to the last few days of this stay in San Diego. I was reflecting on our time here and thinking about how social the RV lifestyle is for us. Here at Mission Bay RV Resort, we’ve made several friends over the past four years and we enjoy meeting up with them again when our stays here coincide.

This year we made new friends with our neighbor from Louisiana, Larry and his wife Brenda. Last week Brenda made a big pot of shrimp gumbo and rice. Donna made up a loaf of garlic bread. They invited us along with neighbors from Canada, Brad and Karen, for drinks and dinner. Sini and Bill came too. We sat outside by Larry’s propane fire pit and dined. Then we had a few cocktails and told each other stories until 10pm. It was a fun time.

The other social aspect of this lifestyle comes from playing pickleball. We meet the some of the nicest people on the pickleball courts and make friends. Here in San Diego I’ve played for several months every year at the Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach recreation centers. Year after year, I see many of the same people on the courts and they remember us from our last stay.

Since I grew up here, I also have some friends in the area from my school days. It’s always fun to get together with some of the old gang for a few laughs. Then, there are the Bay Park guys that I meet for a happy hour beer or two at Offshore Tavern and Grill or Dan Diego’s a few times a week.

I’m more socially active as a full-timer than ever. When we leave here, our next extended stay will be in Mesa, Arizona. Donna and I used to live there and we have friends in the area. We’ll stay at Viewpoint RV & Golf Resort again and I’m sure we’ll meet up with some the same people that were there last winter. We also play pickleball there – they have five courts in the park.

In Mesa, I also have a group of friends that I often meet up with for a happy hour beer or two at Lucky Lou’s or Red, White and Brew. Although we enjoy exploring new places, it’s sometimes nice to have happy hour where people know your name.

We borrowed Sini’s car on Saturday and drove up to see my stepdad in Menifee. After lunch at his local Chinese restaurant, we headed back. I wanted to be back in plenty of time for the Saturday night football game.

On Sunday, Donna again borrowed Sini’s car to meet our granddaughter, Lainey, at San Diego State University. As much as she’s loved being in school here, she’s decided to change her major and won’t be able to do so at SDSU. She’s planning to take some community college classes this next semester and figure out her next move. She asked Donna if she had any ideas about how to get her stuff home to Washington. Donna found Busfreighter, a service that uses Greyhound to get boxes from point A to B for a lot less than it would cost to ship them. After dropping off Lainey’s boxes, the girls headed out to Coronado Island to have lunch at the Hotel Del Coronado and go ice skating.

Lainey – in the gray sweater – skating at the Hotel Del Coronado

Our plan is to pull out of Mission Bay RV Resort before noon Wednesday. We’ll head east and boondock for a night in the quiet desert near the Arizona border, then reach Mesa on Thursday. We reserved three months there – it’s great place to be in the winter!

Tomorrow I’ll get the trailer ready for travel, pack the tire covers and windshield covers. Then I’ll check and adjust tire pressures on the coach and trailer. The forecast looks good tomorrow – upper 60s. Wednesday is supposed to be cooler with a chance of rain. With any luck, we’ll pull out here ahead of the rain.

The Genuine Article

Donna and I usually don’t make a big deal about or keep secrets regarding Christmas presents. This year we both splurged a bit though – but it wasn’t secret. I had  pair of western equestrian style boots from Lucchese made to order for Donna. To do this, I had to trace her feet and take measurements – more about that later. Donna bought a new Euro-recliner chair and ottoman for me. Both of these items are leather, so I want to start this post with some information about leather.

I’m going to talk about cowhide or calfskin leather. The tanned hide of a cow is thick – in some areas it can be half an inch or more. The thick hide isn’t homogeneous – the properties vary. The area on the outside where the hair was removed is smooth and has the tightest grain structure and the greatest strength. The part that is closest to the muscle tissue is rough  and has a more horizontal grain structure that is the weaker. Tanneries split the thick hide – they run it through a machine that cuts the outer, stronger layer from the inner, weaker layer.

When asked what type of leather is most desirable – full grain, top grain or genuine leather – many people pick genuine leather. That’s a marketing ploy – genuine leather sounds like it’s the genuine article. But when we’re discussing the types of leather, full grain is the most desirable for most items like furniture, foot wear or upholstery. Full grain is the outermost layer of the hide and is the strongest, most durable and takes dye well. The downside for some people is the fact that cow hide comes from an animal that may have had scars from rubbing against various objects or branding and of course it’s costly.

Top grain is similar to full grain, except it has been sanded to remove any imperfections, removing a millimeter or two of the strongest surface. Usually a coating is applied to top grain leather. It’s commonly found in furniture and handbags and some lower quality footwear.

Genuine leather comes from the bottom half of the hide – the weakest part closest to the muscle tissue. This is also where suede comes from. It’s not a very desirable leather if durability is important. There’s another type called bonded leather – this is low grade leather mixed with a synthetic binder and leather scraps that have been ground. It’s the leather equivalent of particle board.

Okay, enough about leather. Wednesday a package arrived at Mission Bay RV Resort for us. It was the boots I had made for Donna. They were beautiful full grain calfskin. I had Donna try them on. Uh-oh. Either I messed up when I made the tracings of her foot or Lucchese made them too big. They didn’t fit her feet – they were too loose in the vamp and heel.

I repackaged them and sent them back after talking to Lucchese customer service. It was as hassle-free as something like this can be. I dropped them at the Fed Ex store in Pacific Beach. Meanwhile, Lucchese is making another pair for Donna, but it’ll be weeks before she can have them.

Another delivery was dropped off at our site. It was large box containing the Euro-recliner chair and ottoman she bought for me. Some assembly was required. The parts were well-packed and all of the hardware was present. I unpacked everything, then decided to get our old chair out of the coach and assemble the new one inside so I wouldn’t have to wrestle a fully assembled 70-pound chair through the door and up the steps.

Assembly wasn’t that difficult, but the instruction manual would have been useless without exploded drawings. The written instructions were nonsense. Here’s a quote from the instruction manual:

Attach the back cushion to the left & right the aggregation of arm wood frame base with seat cushion...”

The chair is made of top grain cow hide on all of the contact surfaces – the seat cushion top surface, the backrest front surface and arm rests. The bottom of the seat cushion and rear portion of the backrest are bonded leather to keep costs down. I think this is a reasonable compromise to provide quality leather on the contact areas.

New Euro-recliner and ottoman – color isn’t true to life in the photo

I also received another pair of Tecovas boots. I ordered another pair of Cartwright calfskin boots in desert tan. I know, it’s getting a little out of control. I have six pair of boots now – three Lucchese and three Tecovas. Two of the Lucchese boots are ostrich and one is crocodile. Two of the Tecovas are calfskin and one is lizard.

Tecovas desert tan Cartwright boots

Tuesday night Donna made another new dish for me. She knows that I often cook Marie Callendar pot pies when she’s away. So, she made a chicken pot pie from scratch in a skillet. She said she’s sure it’s much more nutritious and healthy than a pre-made one. It was great – and it was large enough to have leftovers for lunch the next day.

Chicken pot pie baked in a skillet

We’re into our last week here in San Diego. Two months flew by, but I’m ready to roll. We’ll spend the remainder of the winter in Mesa, Arizona. It’s been fantastic as usual. We won’t be back in San Diego again until next September.

 

Party in the Park

The wind diminished over the weekend here at Mission Bay. The mountains east of San Diego and areas of the north county still had high winds though. The north county fire – called the Lilac fire –  near Bonsall destroyed homes and swept through the San Luis Downs horse-training facility killing at least 35 thoroughbred horses. The wind drove the fire westward causing more evacuations around Oceanside. The fire is 75% contained now and the evacuation order has been lifted.

Someone at the RV park stores their kayaks under a canopy on the beach at De Anza Cove. They have the kayaks locked with a cable to secure them. The canopy didn’t fare too well with the high winds though.

Canopies don’t hold up to Santa Ana winds

I was at a gas station on Morena Boulevard Friday when I heard the unmistakable sound of a radical V8 engine. An old school ’55 Chevy pulled up to the pumps. It was a bit ratty looking, but I knew it had a hot motor. It was old school down to the straight front axle, Halibrand magnesium wheels and cheater slicks. I shot a photo of it.

’55 Chevy Bel Air

The owner of the car saw me taking the picture and asked me if I wanted a look under the hood. Of course I did. It had a supercharged small block with dual Carter carburetors and fender well headers.

Small block Chevy

There wasn’t anything ratty about the engine. Then he opened the driver’s door so I could take a look inside. It was upholstered in diamond stitched naugahyde including the headliner and had a roll bar. You wouldn’t guess that by looking at the paint job!

Diamond stitched naugahyde

Headliner and roll bar

The guy told me he had owned the car for about 30 years. He said he also had a ’32 Ford Coupe and a ’39 Willys. He said they were set up similar to the ’55 Chevy – no fancy paint but killer drive trains and nice interiors.

On Friday night Sini joined Donna and I to listen to live music at Fast Times Bar and Grill up the hill on Clairemont Drive. John January is the brother of my friend, Joe. John is a very talented guitarist and was performing with his girlfriend, Linda Berry. John is an inductee of the San Diego Blues Hall of Fame. They were performing as a duet – they also front a complete band sometimes. John has the skills to fill out the sound with his sense of timing, bass lines, chord inversions and riffs. It was almost hard to believe that just two people and one guitar could sound that good.

John January and Linda Berry

By the way – the name of the bar was taken from the title of the 1982 movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High starring Jennifer Jason Leigh and Sean Penn. The screenplay was written by Cameron Crowe after he supposedly spent a semester posing as a student at Clairemont High School – my alma mater – to develop the characters.

On Saturday, I took the Traeger wood pellet fired smoker grill out of the trailer. I was about to drag it through the lot to our site when our neighbor called out to me. Larry is from Louisiana and his rig is in the site behind us. He was at the overflow lot retrieving something from his van. He said, “How about we put that grill in the van and drive to your site?” Good idea! Thanks, Larry!

I needed the Traeger to smoke a couple of racks of baby back ribs I bought at Costco on Friday. The ribs weren’t the pre-packaged Swift Premium they sell – they were cut right there at the Morena store. The butchers there did a really nice job trimming the ribs. I prepped the ribs with dry rub and cooked them Memphis-style.

We had a potluck dinner planned for Saturday night at Sini’s site. Donna planned to grill chicken drumsticks and make a beer and bourbon cheese fondue. To marinate the chicken drumsticks she needed liquid smoke. I told her I saw liquid smoke at Siesel’s meat market. I rode the Spyder over to Siesel’s to get it. I looked through the aisle where I thought I saw it before, but couldn’t find it. A woman asked me if I needed help. I told her what I was looking for and she said, “It’s right here…oh, I guess we’re out of it.” Then she called out to one of the butchers behind the meat counter and asked if they had any liquid smoke. He said he had a gallon of hickory liquid smoke. I said I only needed a couple of ounces. He disappeared for a couple of minutes, then returned and gave me a small plastic container with about half a cup of liquid smoke and said “You’re all set.” Nice!

Everyone gathered at Sini’s place around 5pm. We had an extra picnic table the park provided plus a couple of folding tables for the food buffet. Five couples from inside the RV park were there plus a few of our friends that live in the area. Gary Stemple and Mona Sojot came along with Mona’s friend, Berdine.

Potluck food and drink time

Everyone enjoyed the food and drink and we talked the night away. Before I knew it, it was 10pm.

We only have 10 more days here at Mission Bay RV Resort before we leave San Diego. The time has flown by. The weather forecast for the next 10 days looks good – daily highs in the 70s with no rain. We’ll be heading east to Arizona to spend the rest of winter in a warm climate.