Category Archives: California

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.

 

 

 

Indoor Pickleball

Donna took an Uber ride to the airport early Tuesday morning. She flew to Albany to spend a week with her parents in Bennington, Vermont. I’ve been going to the recreation centers in Ocean Beach (OB) and Pacific Beach (PB) to play pickleball. They play pickleball in OB on Monday, Wednesday and Friday starting at 10am. At the PB rec center they have pickleball on Tuesday and Thursday – again starting at 10am.

I love the game – if you want to learn more about pickleball you can find all of the rules at USAPA.org. Their website also has listings of places to play. While we were at ViewPoint RV and Golf Resort in Mesa, Arizona, I played three days a week in a round robin series for players that are 3.0 level and higher. Most of the players in the matches were 3.5 to 4.0 players. Pickleball has a rating system that sets criteria for skill levels ranging from 1.0 – beginner to 5.0 – expert.

Playing with and against higher level players really improved my game. My tactics and shot selection improved and team strategy developed. We played on outdoor courts. Here in San Diego, I play on indoor courts at the recreation centers.

As my skills have improved, I see a bigger difference in the outdoor game versus the indoor game. Outdoors you play with a ball designed for outdoor use. It has smaller holes than an indoor ball to minimize the effect of wind. It’s made of a harder material to cope with a paved court surface and it bounces higher than an indoor ball. Maybe it’s just a matter of the players’ skill I was playing with in Arizona, but it seems to me that the outdoor game is played with more finesse.

The usual strategy is to hit the serve deep, the returning player hits a deep return and immediately moves forward. The first two hits must bounce before they can be returned – then the ball can be struck in the air before it bounces as long as the player hitting the ball is at least seven feet back from the net. So, the best third shot is usually a drop shot that hits the opposing court less than seven feet past the net. What often follows is a “dink” game where each team hits the ball softly trying to keep it low and within seven feet of the net. Sooner or later someone makes a mistake and hits the ball too high or hard and the opponent pounces on the mistake.

Here in San Diego playing on indoor courts I find the game is played differently. The indoor balls have larger holes in them and are softer. They can be hit much harder without flying out of control. There’s also no wind to to adjust for. Most games feature very little dinking, it’s more of a slam fest. I’ve had to adjust my style of play, but I have to say I prefer the finesse of the outdoor game to the slam and jam style played here.

When I went to the PB rec center on Tuesday morning, I noticed a difference. It was brighter inside. They had sanded and refinished the flooring – the new finish was much lighter than the color of the previous finish. The old darker flooring contributed to the poor lighting making it difficult to see the ball – especially on the court on the north end of the floor. The new floor color reflects much more light – this is good and bad. The additional light makes it easier to see the ball when it’s in flight or coming off your opponent’s paddle – this is good. However, sometimes you can lose sight of the ball when it bounces or passes low over glare spots on the shiny floor.

New lighter, shiny floor – notice the glare spots

At the end of the game, it’s the same for everyone – the glare is hard for both sides. Outdoors you have to contend with the sun and wind and sometimes it’s worse on one side of the court.

Other than playing two and half hours of pickleball daily, I haven’t done anything too exciting this week. Tuesday morning, I was checking our batteries. For some reason our chassis batteries don’t receive a maintenance charge from the Echo Charger intermittently. I haven’t been able to pinpoint the cause – it happens every now and then. I put a trickle charger on the two 12-volt chassis batteries when the Echo Charger isn’t keeping them fully charged.

After I hooked up the trickle charger, I straightened up and did it again – bang. I hit my head on the bedroom slide out. Donna keeps saying I need to put foam protector over the sharp slide edge. I tried using a foam tube that’s made for pipe insulation, but I couldn’t keep it in place when the wind picked up. I need to figure out a way. I don’t want to tape it on, the adhesive wouldn’t be good for the paint.

Bang – I did it again

The weather has been beautiful – high temperatures around 70 with partly cloudy skies. The humidity over the past couple of days has been higher than usual. It’s gotten up to 60 or 70 percent. After months of dry desert climate with humidity levels around 15 percent, this feels extremely humid to me.

Easter Sunday on the Bay

Friday went pretty much as planned. We pulled out of our boondocking site near the Imperial Sand Dunes around 9:30am and headed west on I-8. There’s construction in progress on the interstate between Yuma and El Centro, but traffic was light and it didn’t slow us down much. I usually cruise at 60-62mph and we were able to maintain this speed most of the time.

We had a headwind as we crossed the desert. West of El Centro the elevation was zero – mean sea level. There’s a huge array of solar panels covering hundreds of acres with a huge transformer station on both sides of I-8 in the desert there. Near Ocotillo, there are wind generators on both sides of the interstate. This is where the climb up to Laguna Summit begins. There are three summits along the route – Tecate Divide, Crestwood Summit and Laguna Summit. All are over 4,000 feet above sea level.

Although we had a headwind, we were able to maintain a minimum speed of 50mph up the grade and the engine coolant temperature never exceeded 197 degrees. I was happy about that. We stopped and had lunch at the Buckman Springs Rest Area. This is located in a valley between the Crestwood Summit and the Laguna Summit and is a favorite stopping place for us. The exit to the rest area on the westbound side is poorly marked. There’s a sign advising “Rest Area one mile ahead” but the exit at Buckman Springs doesn’t have a Rest Area sign and you can’t see the rest area until you’ve passed it. If you are looking for a rest stop and aren’t familiar with the area, you could easily miss this one.

Getting back on the interstate, we had to merge into bumper-to-bumper traffic. There’s a Border Patrol checkpoint about a mile from the on ramp at Buckman Springs. Once again, we were waved through with no questions asked and got up to speed again.

We checked in at Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego around 1pm. I had reserved our site here last November and paid a deposit. That locked in the price at $925/month. They’ve raised their rates since then – it’s now $1,085/month – it was $875/month when we started coming here four years ago. While I was checking in, the girl at he counter mentioned our trailer and overflow parking rent of $150/month. I told her we haven’t been charged for trailer parking here since those Dirty, Rotten Thieves stole our trailer from their lot. She looked up our account records and verified the information, but then she told me this will be our last free parking pass. So, next time we come here we will be paying a much higher price.

Although parking our coach at ViewPoint RV and Golf Resort in Mesa, AZ was difficult, the overall dimensions of the site were generous. We dropped our trailer on the concrete pad and had ample space between our coach and trailer to set up our awning mat, chairs and grills. Here at Mission Bay RV Resort, it’s a little more cozy. Our neighbor’s rig is closer to us than our trailer was at ViewPoint.

Neighbor close by

Our friend Sini Schmitt is three sites away from us. Sini came over and visited with Donna while I got us set up. Sini had friends coming down from Seattle and they planned to sightsee on Saturday. They used her friends’ rental car and Sini gave Donna the keys to her Saturn Vue. Donna took advantage of the car to get to her hair appointment, stock up on groceries and also visit her sister Sheila in Point Loma.

On Saturday evening, I grilled a pork tenderloin that Donna marinated in her mojo marinade for 36 hours. Twenty-two minutes on the grill had the internal temperature of the loin at 140 degrees – perfect.

Pork tenderloin with smashed potatoes and green beans

The RV park is nearly full with lots of young families and kids here for the Easter weekend. This is a big change from ViewPoint in Mesa, Arizona which is a 55+ park. Not many youngsters racing around on bikes and skateboards there. The weather all weekend was beautiful with highs around 70 degrees – it hit 74 on Sunday. The Easter crowds around Mission Bay Park were at summertime levels – lots of canopies, grills and volleyball games on the grass.

Donna is still trying to overcome a respiratory ailment but wanted to get some exercise on Sunday, so she walked to Trader Joe’s in Pacific Beach. It was about a five-mile round trip and she came home with a heavy load as she also stopped at Petco and bought a six-pound bag of cat food. I spent the morning watching the Formula One race from Bahrain.

Around noon, I got ambitious and pumped up the tires on my Specialized Crave mountain bike. It was breezy – I rode toward the ocean on the Bayside Walk right into a headwind. It was slow going. I kept at it and rode all the way to the boardwalk at the end of Pacific Beach Drive.

Easter Sunday and the boardwalk at the beach was crowded!

People on the boardwalk near the Surfer Hotel

Surfers in the water

The wind pushed me along on the ride back and I made good time. I stopped to shoot a couple of photos and still made it back in just 20 minutes.

A nice day to be on the bay

View from the pedestrian bridge over Rose Inlet looking toward Fiesta Island

For our Easter dinner on Sunday evening, I grilled salmon. I tried a different technique. Donna coated the salmon with olive oil on both sides and sprinkled it with salt and pepper. I also oiled the grill grates. I put the salmon skin side up on the hot grill for a few minutes, then turned it skin side down for a few more minutes on medium heat. It worked great! The fish doesn’t stick or flake when it it’s skin side up because it isn’t fully cooked yet.

Grilled salmon with orzo, spinach & feta salad

This morning I plan to head over to the Ocean Beach Recreation Center to play pickleball. Donna’s working on a article. Tomorrow Donna is flying to Albany, New York to visit her parents in Bennington, Vermont. Once again, I’ll be a bachelor for a week.

 

A Familiar Route

The final few days at ViewPoint RV and Golf Resort in Mesa, Arizona seemed to fly by. Actually, our two-month stay here seems to have gone by quickly – even more so for Donna since she was away for a girl’s week in Sedona. Our first month of the winter stay in Arizona dragged slowly – that’s because I was stranded in the parking lot of RV Renovators having repairs made. Donna was able to escape for week from there when she made a trip to Vieques.

On Monday, Donna joined me on the pickleball courts in the morning. This turned out to be not the best decision for her. Although she played fine, afterwards the congestion from the cold she’s been fighting returned big time. She took it easy and stayed home on Tuesday. I played for two and half hours that morning and again on Wednesday.

On Tuesday afternoon I started packing the trailer. I reorganized a few things and had it looking good. By Wednesday afternoon, I had most of the stuff stowed in the trailer, leaving only a few items for Thursday morning before we pulled out.  We went out for dinner at Roma Cafe Wednesday evening on Main Street in Mesa. Donna loves Italian food and she says it’s great to feed a cold.

I ran across one of my pet peeves when we arrived at Roma Cafe. Someone decided they were entitled to take two parking stalls – right at the entrance to the restaurant! What? I don’t understand behavior like this.

Nice parking job – but we got the Spyder in there

On Thursday morning, I put the windshield cover, awning mat and chairs away. Then I dumped and flushed the holding tanks. Then it was time to kick the tires and light the fires – we were pulling out. I thought I had a plan to get us out of the tight spot we were parked in. I wanted to pull straight across the street, then angle back and work my way to the left around the light post.

After a couple of moves, I could see this wasn’t going to work. Time for a new plan. I reversed the operation and worked the coach around the orange tree and irrigation line on the right side of the coach and pulled into the street in the opposite direction of my original intent. This was a time-consuming and painstaking process. When I finally got the coach safely into the street, I had to back into the pad to hook up the trailer – this wasn’t so easy either.

After nearly an hour of manueuvering to get out of our site and hooking up the trailer, I loaded the Spyder in it. We hit the road at 10:50am. The trip was a familiar one as we took the Loop 202 south and followed it west on the San Tan Freeway to I-10. I got off of I-10 at exit 164 and followed AZ347 through the town of Maricopa. Although Maricopa has grown and is beginning to sprawl, it cuts several miles off the drive to I-8 versus staying on I-10 and is a quicker route. We took AZ347 to AZ84 and merged onto I-8 west a few miles later.

We made our first stop around 12:30pm at exit 119 – the Butterfield Trail at Gila Bend. We often stop there for lunch at the Subway sandwich shop. It’s next to a truck stop that has ample parking in the rear and also has a free dump station and even RV hook-up sites in back – for a fee of course.

Great parking space behind Subway

We split the daily special foot-long sub and got back on the road. Droning along on I-8 isn’t the most exciting or scenic drive, but I don’t mind. It was getting warm – Donna had me turn on the generator and crank up the air conditioners. It was over 90 degrees out. Also, the wind was increasing – it was mostly a headwind but I had a few cross wind gusts to contend with. Our next stop was another familiar one – the Pilot/Flying J Travel Center at exit 12 – Fortuna Road in Yuma. I always top off the tank there before I enter California. I paid $2.54/gallon there for diesel fuel while the TruckMiles.com site shows the average diesel fuel cost in California is currently $2.93/gallon. Plus I have a harder time finding convenient truck stop locations in California.

A few miles after we crossed the Colorado River and were in California, we hit another familiar sight – the inspection station. This is where they usually question us about fresh fruits and vegetables onboard and ask us where we came from and where we are going. This time they just waved us through, no questions asked.

About 12 miles later we pulled off of I-8 and found our little piece of desert on BLM land in the Picacho Recreation Area. I think this is the eighth or ninth time we’ve stopped here for an overnight stay. We stop here when we’re east bound from San Diego and when we’re west bound from the Phoenix area. It’s a nice change of pace to boondock in a remote site without the distractions from sirens or helicopters and traffic racing through the streets of the city. Ironically, as I’m typing this, a formation of four helicopters – I think they were military MH6 Little Birds  – flew by!

Our little piece of the desert

The view from our doorstep

We don’t have another rig in sight. Donna spotted a large American flag to the northeast of us and took a walk toward it before dinner. It turned out to be just a flag pole and flag – no people or RV there. She also found a stack of pallets where someone had a bonfire but the site was empty.

The gusty winds continued through the night. It didn’t bother me but Donna said it kept her awake all night. This morning we have calm air here and clear skies. We’ll head out around 9am. Our only planned stop for the trip to Mission Bay will be at the Buckman Springs rest area in the Laguna Mountains – about 115 miles from here. It’s another place we always stop at – we’ll have lunch at one of the picnic tables there.

The weather forecast for San Diego looks great for next couple of weeks – high temperatures around 70 degrees and mostly sunny skies.

Dinner in the Desert

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

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

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

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

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

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

Puzzling smoke column

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

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

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

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

View from our doorstep

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

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

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

Piney IPA

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

Memorial

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

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

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

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

 

Unlucky Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Enormous Pot Pie

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old container with generic label

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

Clear Oxo containers

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

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

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

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

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

Donna’s 15k Race

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

Sunset at De Anza Cove

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

Donna, Sherry, Chris and me

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

Chicken pad Thai

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

Thai lager

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

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

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

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

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

Donna about eight miles into the race

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

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

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

Sculpin IPA for the game

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

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

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

VW pop-top camper van

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

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

 

 

A Ride on the Coaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coaster locomotive

Bi-level cabin car

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

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

Rainy view of De Anza Cove from the Coaster

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

San Elijo lagoon

View of the Ocean near Swami’s

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

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

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

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

Liberty Coach on the left, Newell on the right

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