Category Archives: Beer

Boat Club

We had a fun day on the bay Sunday. My friend from my high school days, Gary Stemple, invited me to go boating. He also said I could bring someone along, so I invited Sini to join us. Sini and I left Mission Bay RV Resort around 12:30pm and drove her car to the Dana Landing Marina which is centrally located on Mission Bay.

We went to the Freedom Boat Club where Gary has a membership. Freedom Boat Club is a boat sharing concept. To join, you pay a one-time membership fee and then pay monthly dues. They have a number of boats – fishing boats, ski boats, pleasure craft, etc. Members have unlimited access to their home fleet of boats – just reserve a boat and go. They have over a hundred locations in  24 states and British Columbia.

Gary and his friend Kirk, who is also a member of the boat club, met us there along with another friend, Howard. We took a boat designed for wake boarding and wake surfing out. Gary and Kirk are both experienced at wake surfing. The boat was an inboard design with a specially shaped hull and ballast tanks to enhance the wake it makes. There were two tanks, one on the starboard side and one on the port side.

Surfers use either a conventional stance with their left foot forward or what’s called a goofy foot stance with the right foot forward. Conventional surfers prefer to ride the wake on the left side of the boat. To enhance the left side wake, Kirk filled the left ballast tank with water as we cruised out on the bay. A pump filled the tank with bay water. This made the boat list to the left and created a wave-like wake on the left side. He also had us shift our positions in the boat to get the wake shape right.

The speed of the boat is a critical factor and the driver has to be precise with the speed. Kirk piloted the boat while Gary surfed and Gary drove while Kirk surfed. They set their speed to the tenth of a mile per hour – we usually ran around 10.5 to 10.9 mph.

Gary went first and started with the board on the fan tail of the boat. As we got up to speed, he put his weight to the rear of the board and slid off into the wake holding a short ski rope.

Gary getting started

Once the wake developed its shape, Gary shifted his weight on the board until he found the sweet spot, riding the wake and putting slack in the rope. Then he tossed the rope to me at the back of the boat and surfed the wake.

Surfing the wake

The water on the bay between Fiesta Island and Ski Island was choppy from all of the watercraft in the area. Gary was working hard to stay up on the board. After a while, we decided to move to another spot. We went to the area called Sail Bay and the water was smoother there. However, there were many sailboats, some participating in a race and we had to stay clear of them. The sailboats had the right of way.

Sailboats on the bay

They had an easier time wake surfing there and had some good rides. Sini and I passed on the opportunity to try out wake surfing – maybe if it was warmer and the water smoother we would give it a go. As it was, I was sure I would be cold and barely able to stay up on the board.

Kirk getting a good ride

Around 3:30pm, we quit wake surfing and took a leisurely cruise back to the marina. Boating is always a good time even if we’re just cruising the bay.

Sea World viewed from the water

Sini enjoying the sun and the boat ride

When I arrived back at home, I realized I was hungry. I ordered a pizza from Woodstock’s Pizza in Pacific Beach and it was delivered about half an hour later. I had an early dinner. I paired the pizza with an IPA from Stone that’s brewed with crushed tangerines and a touch of pineapple. It was tasty.

Stone Tangerine Express IPA

Yesterday’s high temperature only reached 71 degrees. The forecast calls for the upper 60s today. I’ll head over to the Ocean Beach Recreation Center and get some exercise on the pickleball courts.

Cadman Park Gang

I took a break from pickleball on Friday and took care of a few domestic chores. First of all, I dumped and flushed our holding tanks. I usually do this once a week when we’re on full hook-ups. Then I took care of house cleaning. Donna often says that when you live in 300 square feet of space, everywhere is a high traffic area. High traffic areas require frequent cleaning. I also cleaned out the shower drain and had the place ship-shape by noon.

My next task was adjusting the parking brake on the Spyder. As the brake pads wear and the parking brake cable stretches, it goes out of adjustment. With too much slack in the cable, it becomes difficult to get the brake to release once it’s applied. The procedure calls for tightening the adjusters until the brake applies, then backing off the adjustment lock nut four and a half turns. Sounds precise but it’s really only a guideline. It’s more of a trial and error process until you get it right.

Friday afternoon was warm – the temperature reached 84 degrees. Around 3pm, I rode the Spyder to CVS in Pacific Beach to pick up a couple of items. Although CVS is only a few miles from Mission Bay RV Resort, it was a tough ride. Traffic was backed up on Mission Bay Drive and barely moving. Grand Avenue wasn’t much better. It took me about 20 minutes to get to CVS. I planned to go to Offshore Tavern and Grill around 4pm for a cold one with the guys. I could see that getting out of Pacific Beach on Grand Avenue or Garnet Avenue would be slow going.

I took an alternate route that was much longer mileage-wise but ultimately I think it was quicker. I rode south on Ingraham Street to Sea World Drive, then hit Morena Boulevard and continued onward to Offshore Tavern and Grill. With Donna away visiting her parents in Vermont, I decided to take advantage of the happy hour pricing and ordered a poke plate for dinner. Poke (po-KEY) is cubes of sushi grade ahi tuna over chopped cabbage with green onions and Asian dressing. Fried wonton chips and avocado complete the dish. It’s delicious.

Poke plate

Saturday was another warm day with the temperature reaching the mid-80s. As I was getting ready to head over to Cadman Park for a get-together with old friends from my school days, Ozark was taking her usual mid-day nap on her bed attached to the living room window. With abundant sunshine, she needed to shield her eyes while she slept. She does this when it’s bright outside.

Ozark shielding her eyes while she naps

We had about a dozen people show up at Cadman Park. Someone was grilling burgers and we had snacks out. We stood around and talked over a couple of beers.

Some of the gang at Cadman Park

There were some people I haven’t seen in a few years and there were some I haven’t seen in decades – Mike McMahon, J D Mincey and John Drake. A little after 3pm, we moved the venue to the patio at Offshore Tavern and Grill and a few more people showed up. It was a fun time.

Party on at Offshore

I left before 5pm and came home to watch the Moto GP qualifying and Moto America races from Austin, Texas.

Today we have cooler weather. We may see 70 degrees, but it won’t be any warmer than that. I’m meeting up with Gary Stemple and a few friends at Dana Point around 1pm to go out on his boat for some wake boarding. Sounds like it’ll be another fun afternoon.

 

 

 

Ribs and Racing

Last week I played pickleball five days straight – I played for about two and half hours per day. Donna laid low getting over the cold she picked up while she was in Sedona. On Saturday, Donna borrowed a car from our friend Lana so she could take Ozark the cat to the vet. We suspected that she might have a tapeworm.

Before I dropped Donna off at Lana’s house we made a stop at Seńor Taco for an early lunch. This was our favorite taco shop when we lived in Mesa. They had a two fish taco plate on special for five bucks, including a 20-ounce drink.

Chipotle fish tacos

The tacos were huge and smothered with a chipotle sauce – tasty.

While Donna was out and about, I made a run to a well-known local butcher shop called Midwestern Meats on Main Street. They have high quality meats that are processed on site. We were having company for dinner on Sunday and I wanted to have another go at babyback ribs. The ribs at Midwestern Meats are not like the babybacks I typically find at the grocery store.

Most grocery stores have their babyback ribs delivered from a processing plant where they’re vacuum sealed. Midwestern cuts their own ribs fresh daily. They cut them differently from the mass production butchers. The ribs are meatier and most of the fat is carefully trimmed away.

Babyback ribs from Midwestern Meats

All I had to do was remove the membrane from the bone side of the rack of ribs.

Membrane on bone side

I dusted them with my rib rub which is three parts Pappy’s Choice seasoning and two parts Lambert’s Sweet Rub O’Mine.

Dry-rubbed racks of ribs

I wrapped them and put them in the refrigerator overnight and relaxed with a bottle of IPA Donna bought for me. It was one I hadn’t tried before called DFRNT IPA from Sonoran Brew Company – and it was different alright. Somehow they’ve managed to make a well-balanced brew at 6.2% ABV and only 42 IBUs. This seems like a low number of bittering units and suggests a lack of hops. However, the brew balances nicely and has adequate hoppiness without being over-the-top hoppy.

DFRNT IPA

Sunday was race day for me – I was a couch potato as I watched racing on TV most of the day. I started with the Formula One Grand Prix from Shanghai. It was an interesting race that started on a wet track that quickly dried. Then I watched the Moto GP race in Argentina. Another good one. Then in the afternoon I finished with the Indy Car race at Long Beach, California.

The Long Beach Grand Prix is run on a street course in downtown Long Beach. The first race there was in 1975. An Englishman named Chris Pook, who was running a travel agency in Long Beach, came up with the idea as the city was trying to gentrify and rebuild their image. He envisioned a Grand Prix featuring the best cars and racers in the world – Formula One – racing on the streets as they do in Monaco. The course would take the cars down Shoreline Drive past the iconic Queen Mary cruise ship.

Before the FIA would sanction a Formula One race, the city had to demonstrate its ability to actually operate as a race track. In September of 1975, they held a Formula 5000 race as the inaugural event. I went to that race with my friends Jim Birditt and Steve Drake.

Formula 5000 was chosen as it was a popular class in the USA – as well as in Britain and Australia – at the time. In the USA, the class was sanctioned by the SCCA and USAC. The rules called for an open wheel chassis powered by a stock block V8 engine of no more than 5000cc – five liters. The most popular engine for the class was the Chevy 302 cu. in. V8. The engines utilized mechanical fuel injection and produced plenty of torque and about 500 horsepower. In the lightweight chassis – about 1200 lbs total weight – they were beasts to drive as the tire technology back in the day could barely provide enough grip.

The race was fierce with many top drivers competing. Mario Andretti and Brian Redmond had quite the battle. Brian Redmond was the race winner after Mario Andretti retired with transmission problems. I was looking through a packet of old photos on Saturday when I found a program I had saved from that race in 1975.

Race program from 1975

In March of 1976, the first Formula One race was held at Long Beach. I was there for that one too. Clay Reggazoni won in a Ferrari 312T2 and his team mate Niki Lauda was second. I attended several of the eight Formula One races held there – I saw Gilles Villeneuve win in 1979. The final Formula One race at Long Beach was held in 1983 and I saw John Watson take the checkered flag after starting 22nd on the grid.

I put the babyback ribs on the Traeger wood pellet fired smoker/grill while the race was on TV. With the racks of ribs trimmed the way they were, I was little unsure of the cooking time. After about 140 minutes, I wrapped the ribs in foil and let them cook for another 40 minutes. They came out fine – I probably should have wrapped about 10 or 15 minutes earlier to retain more moisture.

Our friends Howard and Sara Graff joined us for cocktails and dinner along with their daughter, Kenna. Kenna enjoyed playing with Ozark the cat – thanks Kenna for wearing Ozark out – it made for a nice quiet night’s sleep for me! Sara brought home made cornbread and Donna served up green beans and garlic smashed potatoes with the ribs. I got so wrapped up in conversation and story telling that I neglected to take any photos of the group or dinner plate. I had a bottle of Sculpin IPA with the dinner and I have a photo of that though.

Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point in San Diego

This morning, Donna joined me on the pickleball courts and we played for two and half hours. Today was the first time I played without a bandaid on my left finger that I injured last week. It’s mending nicely.

Finger on the mend

We’re expecting a high temperature of 82 today and it will warm up to near 90 over the next two days. I’ll be busy getting the trailer squared away and preparing for our departure on Thursday.

And, oh, by the way, we’re not sure if Ozark had a tapeworm or not, but the vet treated her anyway as it wouldn’t hurt. She also got a rabies vaccination booster shot.

 

Canadians Heading Home

Friday was the last day of March – hard to believe we are already into the fourth month of 2017. It was also a milestone for ViewPoint RV and Golf Resort. The majority of the people spending the winter months here are from Canada. As Canadian citizens, they’re limited to a total of 182 days in the USA during a 12-month period. A lot of the Canadians leave at the end of March and go back to Canada to avoid issues regarding taxation also maintain their health insurance coverage.

On Wednesday we had 22 players in the 3.0-3.5 level round robin pickleball match. On Friday we only had six players! I’m wondering if there will be enough players left in the park to play this week.

Our stay is coming to an end here. Looking at my reservations, I see I made a mistake. I had us booked here until Friday, April 14th. I also have a reservation to return to Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego on Friday, April 14th. Although the distance is about 380 miles, it takes over six hours in the coach. I don’t like to make the drive in one day and enter the park and set up after a long, tiring day behind the wheel. We usually make a stop overnight in the desert west of Yuma, then we have a leisurely three-hour drive to San Diego and can set up after lunch. So, I think we’ll check out of here a day early and hit the road on Thursday, April 13th.

I’ve been meaning to cook babyback ribs in the Traeger and have friends over. Although Donna is away right now, we only have a couple of weekends left here. I decided to invite Mike and Jodi Hall and a couple of others over on Saturday to try my ribs. We’ll do it again with other friends when Donna’s here.

Mike and Jodi showed up with their granddaughter Swayzie around 5pm. Ray Laehu wasn’t feeling well and backed out, so we had a small party. Mike and Jodi brought a macaroni salad and slaw to go with the ribs. I dry-rubbed the ribs Memphis style – that’s the way I always prepare babyback ribs. I know I’ve covered the preparation of ribs before but I’ll go over what I did again. First, I removed the membrane on the bone side of the babybacks. This membrane is tough and also prevents the salts in the dry rub from penetrating the meat.

To remove the membrane, I start in the middle of the rack and use a regular table knife to separate it from the bone – you don’t want use a sharp knife, it’ll just cut through the membrane. Then I grab the membrane with a paper towel and pull it away from the rack. Then I’m ready to spice it with my dry rub mix. I did this Friday night and wrapped the ribs and refrigerated them. On Saturday afternoon, I cooked the ribs bone side down on the Traeger with the temperature set at 300 degrees – this results in an average pit temperature of about 265 degrees. After cooking for two hours, I wrapped the ribs in aluminum foil and put them back in the Traeger with the temperature set to 180 degrees. About 45 or 50 minutes later I took the ribs out and let them rest for a while before I removed the foil.

Babyback ribs ready to serve

Mike brought a couple of interesting beers to go with the barbeque. He brought a couple of limited releases from Lagunitas Brewing in Petaluma, California. One was a strong ale called Undercover Investigation Shut Down – a long name for a 9.6% ABV strong ale. It was obviously a high gravity ale and little heavy on the palette but worked well with the ribs. The other beer was called Aunt Sally – it’s described as a dry hopped, sweet tart, sour mash ale. I loved it – it tasted like a bourbon barrel- aged ale and was very drinkable at 5.6% ABV.

Interesting ales from Lagunitas

Although the thermometer read 70 degrees, it was breezy and felt much cooler in the late afternoon. We all put on sweatshirts or jackets and little Swayzie needed a blanket.

Swayzie bundled up

We’ll be pulling out of here in about 10 days. I’m starting to think about how I’ll get us out of our site. It’s going to be a challenge and I expect it to take a lot of maneuvering. We have obstacles – on the driver’s side there’s a lamp post only 26 inches from the side of the coach. On the passenger side there’s an orange tree with a sprinkler head 21 inches from the coach.

It’s a tight maneuver to get out of here

Additionally we have a permanent park model dwelling across the street from us. The street is only 27 feet wide – our coach is 40 feet long.

The street in front of the coach

I’ll take my time and hopefully come up with a good exit plan over the next week and a half.

The weather forecast looks good with high temperatures in the upper-70s and low-80s over the next few days before it warms up by the weekend. Donna will return from her girls week in Sedona on Tuesday.

 

St. Patrick’s Day Gathering

I went out and ran a few errands Thursday afternoon. Before I left on the Spyder, I dropped Donna off at the nail salon here at Viewpoint RV and Golf Resort. You gotta love an RV park that has its own nail salon! Earlier I had stopped at the main office and booked some time here next season. I reserved a site starting December 21st for a three-month stay.

While I was out and about, I made a stop at Lucky Lou’s where I found my friends John and Stan. We had a few laughs and a cold one on the patio. Before I left, another Can-Am Spyder parked next to ours. This one was a newer touring model called a Spyder RT. The touring models are more luxurious with more comfortable passenger accommodations and we tend to see these more often than the other models.

Can-AM Spyder RT – built for comfort

They also include more storage space with built-in saddlebags. This one was even equipped with a trailer hitch!

Our Spyder is the RS model – more nimble and sporty. We find adequate space in the frunk – the name Spyder enthusiasts use for the forward trunk space. Donna also carries a backpack for groceries if she’s making a big grocery run. The passenger seating isn’t as comfortable on an RS.

Our Spyder RS – nimble and sporty

Of course, the RT models with all of the creature comforts and accessories are priced several thousand dollars higher than the RS model.

I hit the pickleball courts on Friday morning. The pollen count remains high and I suffered a bit, but felt better overall than I did earlier in the week. I played eight games and got in a couple of hours of activity. I wrote about the hawk’s nest by the courts in an earlier post and stated that I hadn’t seen the adult hawks in a while. I surmised that they moved on – well, I was wrong. On Friday morning, I saw both adults and one of them flew to the nest with a mouse in its talons. So, they are apparently still feeding the juveniles in the nest.

Red Tailed Hawk perched above its nest in a power line tower

On Friday evening, we went to a St. Patrick’s Day happy hour and dinner at the Northpoint Gathering Room in the RV park. One of our neighbors, Dave and Molly MacFarland, organized the event. For a cost of just five bucks per person, they supplied liquor and food. Others pitched in to help and Donna made her famous Irish soda bread from scratch and brought it along. Dave clued me in to the hiding place for the good IPA beer and told me to help myself – which I did.

They had all of the traditional fixings served buffet-style. The corned beef brisket was some of the best I’ve ever tasted. They served it with a mustard gravy – a first for me – and it was delicious. They had scalloped potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes with green onion, cabbage, carrots and boiled onions. They ran a 50-50 raffle to help offset the cost of all the food and drink. Donna snapped a couple of photos.

Back of my bald head on the left at the St. Patrick’s Day gathering

Lots of green in the Gathering Room

The pickleball tournament scheduled for Saturday morning wasn’t what I expected at all. It turned out to be a “fun tournament” where we had to play some silly games. Our first match had to be played with your weak hand. I never hit a ball with my left hand and it showed. Things were a bit chaotic but I had fun.

The temperature has reached the mid 90s for past few days and we can expect the hot weather to continue for a couple more days. The past two nights were a little rough for me as my allergies interrupted my sleep and I feel like I may have a sinus infection coming on. I’m planning to have a mostly quiet day today.

Ozark the cat spends most of the mid-day hours napping in her window bed. That leaves her with plenty of energy to get up and tear around the place at 4am!

Another mid-day nap

I’m going to have to find a way to change her sleep pattern.

Heat Wave

Wednesday was pretty low key for me. Donna went to the pickleball courts in the morning while I stayed home and nursed my hay fever. I ended up spending most of the day indoors – just as I thought I would. The thermometer hit 92 degrees in the afternoon. This heat wave may be a blessing in disguise – it seems like the hot daytime temperatures are causing the orange blossoms to drop from the trees prematurely. The pollen counts are still quite high, but I slept well last night and I’m feeling a little better this morning.

Donna and I had a conference call with our tax accountant in the afternoon. I always dread these things. We uncovered a mistake in last year’s filing and it looks like we overpaid, so that may be a good thing for us this year.

On Wednesdays and Fridays, there’s live entertainment from 3 to 5pm here at ViewPoint RV & Golf Resort. Donna walked down with her hula hoops and hoop danced to the music. She always takes two hoops in case someone wants to join her. Yesterday, she offered a hoop to a young girl who was visiting her grandparents and the two of them had a lot of fun. I only got out once all day and that was just to make a run on the Spyder to the store.

Donna defrosted the last of the lamb rib chops we bought from the farm in Portland near the Columbia River RV Park. She put them on the grill along with some sliced zucchini, peppers and onions for dinner.

Grilled lamb chops with zucchini, peppers and onions

Lamb chops are very flavorful but a little fatty in my opinion. I guess it’s an acquired taste – I didn’t like lamb when I was younger but I find it a pleasant change now. I paired the lamb with an IPA from Elysian. Although Elysian is located in Seattle and typically brews West Coast style IPA, this bottle called The Immortal is more of an English style IPA with pronounced malt flavor and a sharp bitter finish. I liked it but wasn’t crazy about it.

The Immortal

High, thin clouds formed in the late afternoon sky. This always brings a colorful, fiery sunset here in the desert.

Fiery sunset

I’d like to get out and about today – hopefully my allergy symptoms will continue to abate. I plan to hit the pickleball courts tomorrow morning and we’re both signed up to play in a tournament on Saturday. The heat wave is expected to linger through the weekend with daily highs in the mid-90s.

Pop Goes the Rivet

The cooler weather forecast for Monday arrived as predicted. It was in the upper 40s in the morning when I headed over to the pickleball courts. It didn’t feel that cold though – we had abundant sunshine with clear skies and calm wind. The high temperature for the day was 68 degrees.

One of the things I love about the RV lifestyle is the community. We’ve met so many people and made new friends as we travel about. In some cases, we have connected with our new friends several times in different places. Our stay here in Mesa, Arizona is one of those times. On Monday afternoon, we met up with Hans Kohls and Lisa McGuire (Metamorphosis Road) at The Hub for happy hour and dinner.

Hans and Lisa are full-time RVers and we’ve crossed paths several times – most recently at Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego. Since we both like to spend the winter months in southern California and Arizona, we often find ourselves in the same areas at the same time. We sampled some good beers – stouts for the girls and IPA for Hans and me. We sat and talked for about two hours and the time flew by. Today they’re moving from Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction to McDowell Mountain Regional Park – about 40 miles away.

Last night, before Donna went to bed, she said the door on one of cabinets didn’t feel right when she closed it. The cabinets on the upper walls of the living room/kitchen have small spring-loaded struts that hold them fully open and keep them closed. When she opened the cabinet door this morning, one of the struts was detached from the door.

Left strut detached from mount

The strut attaches to mounting points with rivets. I have several replacement strut assemblies that I picked up a couple of years ago, but I decided to repair this one since it was a quick and easy repair. I’ll save the replacements for times when a strut sacks out and loses spring tension to hold the door open.

I retrieved my pop-rivet tool and and a 3/32″ rivet from the trailer and went at it.

Pop-rivet tool and rivet

Pop-rivet inserted through strut and mount

Tool pulls mandrel, breaking it as it expands the rivet head

Voila!

The entire repair took no more than five minutes – job done! It’s always good to have the proper tool for the job at hand.

If the weather-guessers have it right, today will be the start of a warming trend. The forecast calls for upper 70s today and mid to upper 80s for the rest of the week.

 

*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!

Pickleball and a Movie

The nice weather continued on Tuesday – the temperature hit a high of 77 degrees with sunny, blue skies. We had a notice in our mailbox of a package being held at the park’s post office. As part of my effort to increase my activity, I walked to the post office to pick it up. This is a large park. We’re in the northwest end, the post office is located to the southeast.

It was about three quarters of mile from our site to the post office. When I got there I found they had not one, but two packages for us. One of the boxes was little bulky, the other was a Priority Mail box with a month’s worth of mail forwarded from our service (MyDakotaAddress). Carrying the two packages made the walk back seem a lot longer.

Donna’s keeping her activity level up as usual. She went out for a 16-mile bike ride Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday morning I went to the pickleball courts for the 3.0-3.5 level round robin matches at 8am. Donna came down an hour later to play on the open play court.

A pair of red tail hawks are nesting in a high voltage utility pole near the courts. I saw one of the adult hawks return to its nest with a snake in its grasp. I wish I could have taken a picture. I’m pretty sure there are immature hawks in the nest and it was bringing back the snake to feed them.

The round robin matches consisted of six games played over a two-hour period. I stayed for another hour and played nonstop, ending up with 11 games played. Donna played quite a few games as well.

After lunch, we headed over to the Harkins Theater on Superstition Springs Boulevard. We went to the 3:20pm matinee and watched John Wick: Chapter Two. It was all action and an entertaining shoot-em-up movie. We watched the original John Wick movie released in 2014 a couple of weeks ago on TV.

We don’t go to movie theaters very often. One thing that kills me at the theater is how they gouge you for snacks and drinks. You can’t bring your own, so they charge $4.50 for a bottle of water! A large popcorn, a soda and a bottle of water was $18.25! After sitting in the theater for more than two hours – with very comfortable seats – I was feeling a little stiff from the morning’s activity.

Last night, Donna prepared something new to go with the salmon cakes she made for dinner. She made a cheesy cauliflower bake. This was steamed cauliflower with cheddar cheese, bacon and green onion baked about 20 minutes to meld the flavors. It was a little labor intensive to make, but it was very tasty.

Cheesy cauliflower bake

We had a discussion about whether to call the entree salmon cakes or salmon patties. I decided to call them salmon cakes as they are made like crab cakes. Salmon patties implies something akin to a burger.

Salmon cakes with cheesy cauliflower bake

I opened a bottle of Ninkasi Total Domination IPA from Eugene, Oregon to go with the meal.

Ninkasi IPA

Before I went to bed, I checked the S-Health app on my Samsung Galaxy smart phone. It showed 12,999 steps for the day. I went over 13,000 walking from the living room to bed. The activity bars on the screenshot below show the pickleball activity and then an inactive period in the afternoon – that was the movie theater time.

Steps recorded on the S-Health app

I had to close our bedroom window in the night. We usually sleep with the window open, but a cool breeze was blowing in overnight. Today the forecast calls for a high of only 63 degrees. The next seven days will be cool and Friday the overnight low is expected to be 39! Brrr.

 

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.

 

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.