Category Archives: Grilling

No Green Beer

We had mixed weather here in Mesa over the weekend. Friday was pleasant with the high temperature reaching the low 70s.  Donna had a couple of errands in the afternoon, so she planned to ride with me on the Spyder to handle them. First I took her to the dry cleaners on McDowell and Power Road. I waited in front while she picked up a dress she had altered there.

While I was waiting, I heard the growl of a V-12 engine. An older Ferrari 575 Maranello drove into the lot and came past me. The 575 Maranello was made from 2002 to 2006 and had a 5.75 liter V-12 engine putting out 508 horsepower. A higher performance version called a Super America was also offered with 533 horsepower.

From there, I dropped Donna off at Home Depot where she wanted to return a phone cord she purchased – it wasn’t the one we wanted. I rode on to Lucky Lou’s where I joined the usual suspects and Donna walked over from Home Depot to meet up. When we were leaving Lucky Lou’s, something caught my eye. It was the same Ferrari 575 Maranello parked over by the Walgreen’s Pharmacy. I’m guessing the owner was in Lucky Lou’s and parked the car out of the way in the near empty Walgreen’s lot.

Ferrari 575 Maranello parked near Lucky Lou’s

I always like seeing exotic cars that are driven on the street. This Ferrari looked like a daily driver for someone – there were a few paint chips on the front, but it was a nice looking car in good condition. Originally these cars sold for $250,000 and up – a Super America was closer to half a million dollars.

On Saturday morning, Donna played in a 2.5 level pickleball tournament. I went down to the courts to referee the games on court one – there are five courts. Donna played well and won all five of her five games. She then played in the championship game, but she and her partner were beat and finished the tournament in second place. The weather stayed nice Saturday afternoon with the high in the low 70s, but clouds moved in during the afternoon.

We spent Saint Patrick’s day at home. Donna prepared a traditional Irish meal – she always does on Saint Patrick’s Day. Before I met Donna, I usually went out to a pub for Saint Paddy’s and drank green beer. Donna’s Irish heritage calls for something a little better than green beer in a pub. She made corned beef, of course – and served it with a potato side dish called champ, cabbage and carrots that cooked along with beef in the crockpot and Irish soda bread.

Saint Patrick’s Day dinner

A few rain drops were falling by bedtime. It rained lightly off and on during the night and on Sunday morning, we had a couple more showers before the sun came out. The temperature only reached the mid-60s. Sunday marked the start of the Moto GP season and we were treated to an excellent race from the circuit in Qatar. Valentino Rossi proved he can still ride with the leaders in the highest level of motorcycle road racing at the age of 39.

For Sunday night’s dinner, Donna prepared teriyaki BBQ pork kabobs and grilled them on skewers. The recipe called for the pork to marinate, then a different sauce was used to baste the skewers on the grill making a delightful glaze on them. Yummy!

Pork kabobs over a bed of basmati brown rice

This morning I was back at the pickleball courts playing in the 3.0-3.5 round robin. Tomorrow Donna will join me in the 3.0-3.5 open play – she’s ready to move up. Today we should see a high in the mid-70s with clear skies. The forecast calls for 80s in the next couple of days and 91 on Thursday!

Lingering in Mesa

In the winter months when we’re stationary for extended periods of time, I find it difficult to maintain this blog. My days fall into routines and I don’t have a lot to say. We’ve been here at Viewpoint Golf and RV Resort in Mesa, Arizona for nearly three months now. Most of my days revolve around pickleball. I play from 8am to 10am when the courts are reserved for players in the 3.0-3.5+ group. On Mondays and Wednesdays, we play an organized round robin. The rest of the week, it’s open pick-up games.

Playing with people at similar or higher skill levels is a great way for me to improve my pickleball skills. I’m playing at a much better level than I was three months ago. After two hours on the courts, I usually have over 8,000 steps recorded on my smart phone and my legs feel it. It gives me a good excuse to kick back and read a book for a couple of hours to recover.

On Sunday, we had guests. Andrea and Tim Brundage came to our site for happy hour. They brought a veggie tray and dips. Donna made chicken satay with peanut sauce and I grilled the skewered chicken on the Weber Q. Along with good food, we enjoyed good conversation. Donna and Andrea met years ago through the Arizona professional organizers group and I met her a few years ago when we hosted a meetup to discuss full-time RVing as a minimalist lifestyle. But it was our first time meeting Tim. They have a toy hauler and also enjoy the RV life.

Most days I head out for happy hour at Lucky Lou’s around 4pm. Donna joins me a couple of times per week. I meet up with the usual crowd there.  Last Monday, we went there to celebrate Mike Childs’ birthday. Donna and I joined Mike and Kim Childs along with Mike and Jodi Hall, Jeff and Crissy Van Deren and a few others for a couple of cold ones.

On Thursday night, our neighbors Chuck and Sue invited us to join them for a concert in the ballroom here at Viewpoint. They had tickets for a Doobie Brothers tribute band. I like the Doobie Brothers music – particularly the early albums featuring Tom Johnston. The tribute band thing baffles me a bit though. It’s a little strange to see musicians playing the role of another band. These guys had wigs to look like the Doobie Brothers of the 1970s and clothing from that period.

Fuzzy image of the Doobie Brothers tribute band

The band faithfully reproduced the sound of the early Doobie Brothers. The later stuff when Michael McDonald fronted the band was little off – a bit fuzzy like the image above! I think there may have been about 1,000 people in the audience. We had a good time – it was all fun.

Although I can claim to have fallen into a routine, Donna continues to experiment with different dinner recipes and feeds me like a king. Here are a few plates from the last week.

One-skillet Italian chicken sausage with tomatoes and asparagus


Mojo pork tenderloin with sweet potato and spinach hash


Pan-seared chicken thigh with buttery orzo


Tortilla-crusted tilapia with seasoned black beans


Herbed chicken breast grilled under a foil-wrapped brick with sweet potato and asparagus

Donna rode the Spyder to Scottsdale yesterday. Her friend Stevie Ann recently became a certified massage therapist and treated Donna to a massage. Then Donna treated Stevie Ann to lunch at Arcadia Farms, one of their favorite restaurants.

The weather was mostly warm for the past week with temperatures in the low 80s. Yesterday was cloudy and windy and the temperature only reached 70 degrees. But I can’t complain about that in mid-March. The cooler weather will prevail through the weekend. We may or may not have rain Saturday night – depends on who you believe. One forecast calls for zero percent chance of rain while another calls for a 50% chance of rain – we’ll see.

We’ve extended our stay here for two additional weeks. We’ll hit the road on April 4th. I’m getting the hitch itch and I’m looking forward to adventures on the road ahead. Last week I visited the Mesa Buckhorn Elks lodge and renewed my membership. I wanted to renew in person so I could ask them not to mail my new membership cards. I wanted to pick them up at the lodge rather than have them sent to South Dakota. When I asked the lodge secretary if I could pick up the cards there, she told me to sit tight for about two minutes. She opened a file and found our pre-printed cards and I was set to go. Now that’s efficient! We will undoubtedly stay at an Elks lodge or two this summer on our travels.


*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to purchase anything, 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!



Spyder Key Quest

I may not be as organized as Donna, but I do take care of certain things. One thing is my credit cards. I always handle them carefully and put them away before I sign a receipt or do anything else. That way, I never misplace them. I’m also careful about keys – I have a place for keys and try to always put them where they belong. That way, I don’t have to look for them and I haven’t lost a key in years – until last summer. While we were in Iowa for the RAGBRAI, somehow I misplaced the Spyder key. I  looked everywhere I could think of and retraced my steps before they were lost. I had to give up and break out our spare key.

Since then, we’ve been operating with only one key – no spare for the Spyder. This made Donna nervous – she almost locked the key in the frunk a couple of times and was also worried about losing the key and getting stuck somewhere. I meant to get one made while we were in San Diego, but I put it off. On Friday, I went to the Ride Now Powersports dealer – they carry Can-Am products – and I bought a new key. It wasn’t so simple though. The Can-Am key has a chip that is read by the ignition switch. The Spyder is equipped with an immobilizer system that won’t allow the engine to run unless the system recognizes the chip in the key.

Ride Now had a blank replacement key, but they don’t have a way to cut the keys. They can program the chip in the key, but it has to be cut first, so the key will turn in the ignition during the programming process. I took the new blank key with me. On Saturday, I set out to have the key cut. First I went to Ace Hardware on Main Street. No luck – they don’t duplicate automotive type keys. Then I went to Lowes – same story. I tried a locksmith shop on Power and Southern Avenue – they were usually open on Saturday, but not on the President’s Day weekend. Then I went to a Key Me kiosk in Bed, Bath and Beyond. They wanted to sell me another blank which they would cut for $73. I’d already paid $62 for the blank I had.

I did a search on my smart phone and found a mobile locksmith nearby called Sparks’ Locksmith. I gave him a call. He said he didn’t have a shop – just a van for mobile work – but I could come over to his house and he would cut the key in his van. He was a few blocks away off Signal Butte Road. I found his place and he cut the new key blank in less than 10 minutes and it worked in the ignition fine. He was a super nice guy and didn’t charge for the work. He just said think of me if you need to have work done or if a friend gets locked out. Sparks’ Locksmith – service 24/7 and no extra charge for after hours calls. His number is 602-301-8170 if you are ever in the area and need a locksmith.

From there I went back to Ride Now to have the key programmed. The service guy there told me on Friday that he would program the key for free once I had the key cut since I bought the blank from them. He tried to complete the program several times without success. Finally he got the service manual out. I read the programming sequence out loud to him from the manual as he went through the steps. Success at last – the new key works. I can cross that off my things to do list.

Old key, new key and keyholder

All that running around worked up an appetite. Donna grilled wild Alaskan salmon with garlic mashed potatoes and grilled baby bok choy for dinner. We always buy wild salmon and avoid farm-raised Atlantic salmon.

Wild Alaskan salmon with garlic mashed potatoes and grilled baby bok choy

On Sunday, our friends Gerry and Cindy Dimassa came over to go bike riding with Donna. We met them about 12 years ago when we rode in the same bike club together. The last time we saw them was eight years ago in Paris, France – we happened to be there at the same time.

Gerry, Cindy and Donna after a 36-mile ride to Tempe Marketplace and back

Gerry and Cindy are avid bicyclists and have ridden all over Europe. Cindy’s bike is really high-tech with electronic shifters – no cable adjustments needed!

While they were out on their ride, I tackled another chore. It was time to give the Traeger wood pellet fired smoker/grill and the Weber q2200 propane grill a thorough cleaning. Ash builds up in the Traeger and it needs to be cleaned out after four cooks or so. I cleaned the grates and build-up on the interior, then scooped the ash out.

Heart of the Traeger – the fire pot

Diffuser over fire pot after scooping out excess ash

Last step – fresh foil lining on drip pan

Later, I put two racks of babyback ribs on the Traeger. I had dry-rubbed them with my favorite rub to cook them Memphis-style. We had company over for dinner. Donna met another professional organizer online, Barbara. Barbara and her husband Brent have just taken up the nomadic lifestyle and have been on the road in their class C Minnie Winnie since August.

Barbara brought a 7-layer salad. Donna made cornbread, sweet potatoes and green beans to go with the babyback ribs and we had a buffet-style dinner outside. We enjoyed a couple of drinks and talked about the lifestyle. Brent and Barbara are just getting into it and still adjusting. Like most newcomers, they’ve been pushing and covering a lot of ground. Their next stop will be an extended stay in Palm Desert.

Dinner buffet

The wind kicked up Sunday night and Monday was very windy – gusts up to 30mph – and we had a few raindrops. It was a good day to lie low and we did. A cold front blew in and we’re in for below average temperatures for the coming week.

Tuesday was cool, but the wind died down and the skies cleared. Still, the high only reached 57 degrees! We rode the Spyder over to a Mexican restaurant where we met our friends Mark and Emily Fagan (Roads Less Traveled) along with their puppy, Buddy, for lunch. We sat out on the patio in the sun since we couldn’t take Buddy inside. We had a good time catching up on their latest adventures. We last saw them in McCall, Idaho almost two years ago.

Emily, Mark and Buddy

Donna made a turmeric chicken and rice soup for dinner last night. With the cool temperatures, soup sounded good – and it was!

Turmeric chicken and rice soup

The forecast calls for the cool weather to hang around for the rest of the week with daily highs around 60 degrees. This morning, it was 39 degrees out at 6:30am and the coach had cooled to a chilly 51 degrees. We don’t run the heat at night, we prefer blankets. But when I got out of bed, I turned on the heat pumps first thing!

*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to purchase anything, 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!


Spam and Sports

Something strange is going on with my website. Over the last four and a half years, the site comments are hit with spam on a daily basis. About 100 spam comments per day are quarantined by software I installed and I empty the spam comments regularly. Over the last four days, I’ve only been hit by two spammers. I’m not complaining – just wondering what happened to the spam.

We had a busy weekend with sporting events – both as participants and spectators. On Saturday morning, I played in a pickleball tournament. We started out with a round robin split into two groups. The group I was in had 12 players. The round robin results determined seeding to form the teams. Number one was paired with number 12, I was number two and was paired with the 11 place finisher and so on down the line. It was a fun tournament but I didn’t take home any prizes. Our results were 9-11, 9 -11, 10-11 and 11-4. We lost three close games and only won once. By number of points scored, we were the number two team, but it was number of games won that determined the results.

Our friends Howard and Sara Graff invited us to join them Saturday afternoon to check out the PGA Phoenix Open golf tournament. Howard somehow managed to get four free tickets and a parking pass. The Phoenix Open has the highest spectator attendance of any PGA event. The weekly attendance this year was over 655,000 and more than 218,000 were there on Saturday.

Crowds of this size made the logistics of getting in and out of there a little tough. We parked in lot 8 and rode a shuttle through bumper to bumper traffic. The tickets Howard had were for a penthouse skybox on the 18th green. We were guests of a law firm, Tiffany and Bosco. I’m not sure how that happened, but it was the place to be. They had an open bar and hot hors d’oeuvres plus sandwiches and snacks.

Great tickets!

I don’t really follow professional golf and have only played on rare occasions – company scramble tournaments mostly – back in my working days. We had a nice view of the 18th green and I recognized a few of the golfers.

Phil Mickelson on the 18th green

Another view of the 18th green from the Tiffany and Bosco skybox

Golf originated in Scotland in the 15th century. While we enjoyed the food and drink and the tournament, for me, the fun part was the atmosphere and people watching. We saw some guys that took golf’s Scottish heritage to heart.

These guys celebrated golf’s Scottish heritage

On Sunday morning, Donna headed out on her bicycle. She discovered a good route that avoided car traffic to the west side of Mesa, then got on a paved bike path into Tempe. She met up with her friend Beth Welch – we used to ride with Beth when we lived here and rode with the Phoenix Metro Bicycle Club. They rode to Singh Farms where they spent a few hours chatting. They ran into Howard and Sara Graff there. Her roundtrip ride was about 38 miles.

While Donna was out, I prepared babyback ribs with a dry rub so I could smoke them Memphis-style. I love cooking ribs this way on the Traeger wood pellet fired smoker/grill. I have the process for babyback ribs down by now and they are so good.

Memphis style babyback ribs

Donna made a potato salad and baked jalapeno poppers – this was our Superbowl meal. We enjoyed the game with a great meal.

Babyback ribs, potato salad and baked jalapeno poppers

Last night Donna prepared a new recipe, Chicken Lombardy. She pounded boneless chicken breasts, dredged them in flour, and sauteed them. Then she placed them in a casserole dish, covered them with sauteed mushrooms and cheeses, and a sauce made with chicken broth and marsala wine. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Chicken Lombardy with brown basmati rice and spinach

The daily high temperature has been in the upper 70s and the forecast calls for 80 to 83 degrees for the rest of the week. That’s why we winter in Arizona!

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.



Not So Prime Time

We had visitors Friday morning. Tom and Kris Downey came by. They live in Indio now, near Palm Springs. They were on the road for about three years, but sold their rig and bought a small house. We visited for a while and took a walk around the point to see the bay and De Anza Cove. Kris was happy to see the water and seemed to miss their time spent here.

We piled into their car and drove to Ocean Beach for fish tacos at South Beach Bar and Grill on Newport Avenue near the pier. They have some of the best fish tacos around. We forgot about the long weekend due to Veteran’s Day – the beach area was crowded, traffic moved slowly, and we were lucky to find a parking spot. We all ordered the mahi-mahi tacos and had an enjoyable lunch before they had to head for home.

I crossed off another item on my “to do” list on Friday afternoon. The rear brake on the Spyder was noisy and the parking brake release was hanging up – making it difficult to release the parking brake. It’s hard to see the inner brake pad, but it appeared to be worn thin. I ordered replacement pads and picked them up on Thursday. On Friday afternoon, I got started on the job. The new pads came with new caliper mounting bolts and circlips – a nice touch. The caliper mounting bolts double as pins holding the brake pads in place and need to be secured on the back side with the circlips.

Brake pad kit

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again. I really dislike working on the Spyder. It was designed for ease of manufacturing without much regard for serviceability. I’d really like to get my hands on the engineer that came up with the rear brake caliper set up. To replace the pads without completely removing the caliper and putting it on a bench requires a lot of patience. In hindsight, I should have removed the rear wheel first, but I wanted to avoid doing that because that would entail setting up the belt drive adjustment when I put it back on. I got it done, but it wasn’t as easy as it could have been and involved a few choice words along the way.

After that job, I was ready for a cold one so I hit the Offshore Tavern and Grill. At this time of year, we often have overcast mornings which clear up before thin clouds return in the late afternoon. The thin clouds make fiery sunsets.

Sunset from the Offshore Tavern and Grill

Friday night Donna prepared fennel-crusted porterhouse pork loin chop, acorn squash and roasted brussel sprouts for dinner. She’s sticking to her plan of high protein, low fat and low carb diet. My weight seems to be pretty steady – I might be slowly losing a few pounds. She feeds me larger portions than she’s eating. She actually skipped the squash.

Fennel-crusted pork chop with roasted brussel sprouts and acorn squash

On Saturday evening, we had another visitor. Our friend Mona came by and she brought goodies. She brought along ceviche from the Blue Water Seafood Grill and Market which we snacked on with tortilla chips. It was delicious. She also brought a steelhead filet which I grilled. Mona is allergic to cats, so she and Donna spent the evening outside chatting, huddled under blankets. We met Mona here at Mission Bay RV Park the first year we were here and have been fast friends ever since.

Steelhead filet

Over the weekend, I tried to trace the electrical fault in our vent fans. The Fantastic Fans quit working. It seems like I have a poor connection at the toilet fan switch. The circuit runs power to that switch and from there goes to the kitchen fan switch. I need to remove the switch plate and look at the wiring. The problem is, the switch plate appears to be glued to the wall. There aren’t any visible fasteners. I’ll have to carefully separate the plate from the wallpaper to avoid unsightly damage. I’ll try to get to that today.

I’m heading to Ocean Beach for pickleball this morning. I’m a little irritated with Amazon. Last Wednesday, November 8th, I ordered a new pickleball paddle. With my Prime account it was supposed to arrive in two days. I received the order confirmation and tracking info. The tracking info has been erratic. First it showed the item due to arrive on Saturday. Then on Saturday it said it was delayed. Then it said it would arrive on Sunday – it showed it shipped on Saturday. Now it says it will arrive today – Monday, November 13th. What happened to Prime two-day shipping? I’ll chalk it up to Amazon relying on the US Postal Service for delivering the paddle.

The weather has been holding steady and it looks like we can expect more of the same in the coming week. Daily highs are around 70 degrees with night time lows around 60. That’s winter in San Diego.


*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to purchase anything, 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!

Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon

Here we are at the end of another week already. The time just flies by here at Mission Bay RV Resort. Donna is staying busy with her early morning workouts and putting in time at her computer getting writing assignments done. I spend about two or three hours a day on the pickleball courts at Pacific Beach Recreation Center or Ocean Beach Recreation Center. This usually wears me out and I come home and relax with a book and maybe take a short nap after lunch.

We started the week with Donna grilling a pork tenderloin on the Weber Q. Donna likes grilling on the Weber Q2200 – it used to be strictly my domain. She put together a nice presentation with a medley of pork medallions and yam slices, served with spaghetti squash on the side.

Pork tenderloin medallions and sliced yam

She also picked up a nice IPA bomber bottle for me made by Mission Brewery here in San Diego. Mission is a well established brewery near Petco Park. New breweries keep popping up in the county – I read an article that stated there are now about 150 breweries in San Diego county. There are a lot of people in California, but I have to wonder how many breweries are sustainable.

Mission Brewery IPA

Tuesday evening we rode with Sini to our friend Mona’s house for dinner. We met Mona’s friend, Dan. Dan made a big spaghetti dinner. He’s also a pickleball player and we talked about the game. It was an enjoyable evening and dinner. He made it to OBRC on Wednesday and we played a couple of games together. Donna played on Wednesday as well.

Donna and Sini preparing a salad at Mona’s house

With all this playing and lazing around, my “to do” list is growing.  Wednesday I knocked one item off the list.  Donna mentioned that the dryer seemed to be taking a long time to dry clothes. I pulled everything out of the utility closet and cleaned the dryer vent hose. Over time, lint builds up and impedes the flow of air through the dryer.

Dryer vent hose

Next on the list is to fix the Fantastic Fans. Both vent fans quit working. They are on a common circuit so I’ll start by going to the fuse panel. I also need to replace the rear brake pads on the Spyder. I ordered new brake pads and picked them up at Fun Bike Center in Kearny Mesa yesterday.

On the way back from Kearny Mesa, I made the usual Thursday afternoon happy hour stop at Dan Diego’s. Here’s another colorful sunset photo from the parking lot at Dan Diego’s.

Sunset over the bay

The weather has been pleasant – partly cloudy with highs in the low to mid 70s. The week ahead is forecast to be slightly cooler with upper 60s to low 70s. I’m not complaining though.


Ould Sod and the Beachcomber

We had a fun-filled weekend, but I don’t think it would be fair to say we were busy.

While Donna finished up an article Friday morning, I ran a few errands. Then we headed out to Pacific Beach for a walk on the boardwalk and lunch. We dined alfresco at Tacos El Gordo, then took a walk out to the end of Crystal Pier and back to Reed Street where we parked the Spyder. The weather was pleasant – it was about 80 degrees with clear skies. A weekday at the beach at this time of year isn’t too crowded.

Donna at the boardwalk – Crystal Pier in the background

On Saturday morning, Donna went to her bootcamp workout. After lunch we rode the Spyder over to the Normal Heights district and found Ould Sod – it’s an Irish pub. Finding an open parking space around there can be problematic, but we eventually found a space about a block away.

We were there for a going away party for a friend from my high school days. Kevin Barry is retiring in a few days and he and his wife Monica are moving to Hilo, Hawaii. We had a table on the open air patio in back of the pub – it was shaded and comfortable there. Carole Bringas organized the party and it was fun to visit with some old friends.

We left around 4:30pm and came back to Mission Bay RV Resort. It was Halloween night at the RV park. When I was a kid, Halloween was always observed on Halloween – the last day of October. Nowadays I guess everyone goes out on the last Saturday of October. Kids in the RV park went from site to site. People put an orange card in their front window if they had treats for the kids – rigs without a card were to be skipped.

Donna’s altering her diet while she’s on her two-month workout schedule – which means I’m pretty much eating an altered diet of high protein and low carbohydrates. Donna has become proficient with the Weber Q grill and has taken over some of my grilling duties. On Saturday night, she grilled wild Alaskan salmon along with a baby squash medley with garlic and herbs, topped with a mixture of feta, sundried tomatoes, and pesto. It was a delicious dinner, but I think I might lose a few pounds while we’re in San Diego. After the excesses of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and two weeks of eating out while we were hotel bound, this is a good thing.

Grilled salmon and assorted squash

We had more fun in store for Sunday. I watched TV in the morning and caught the Moto GP race from Sepang, Malaysia, the Formula One race from Mexico City and the early NFL game. Then Carole Bringas picked us up at 2:30pm and drove us to Dana Landing where we met up with Gary Stemple and Howard Brutschy. Carole, Gary, Howard and I are charter members of the Cadman bunch. When we were in high school, we all hung out at Cadman Park.

Gary has a membership in the Freedom Boat Club – I wrote about that here last year. Gary took us on a boat ride around Mission Bay, then we beached the boat at the bay side near San Gabriel Place in Mission Beach. Our destination was the Beachcomber where the Siers Brothers band was setting up.

Boat ride on the bay – Gary, Carole , Howard and Donna

The Barefoot Bar at Paradise Point

We claimed a table at the Beachcomber and the Siers Brothers put on a great show playing classic rock tunes.

Siers Brothers Band

I checked the tide tables earlier and knew we were safe beaching the boat. The tide was near high and would be slack when we left. Gary had to return the boat before dark, so we left the Beachcomber around 6pm. I think I’d had enough adult beverages by then.

Back to the boat

This morning we have overcast skies. The forecast calls for clouds and a high of only 68 degrees. I need to do some maintenance service on the Spyder. Today seems like a good day for it since we don’t have pickleball at the Ocean Beach Recreation Center.



The Sun is Eclipsed by the Moon

We survived the solar eclipse. On Sunday afternoon and evening, a few more people showed up here at the city park in Bayard, Nebraska. An older Monaco Windsor class A motorhome parked next to us in the full hook-up site. A car with Texas plates parked on our passenger side and the lone occupant put up a tent in the park. Later, another car with two guys joined our new friends from Longmont, Colorado, Frazier and Debra, in the last campsite and put up a tent in their site.

The Monaco had three occupants, the elderly owner and his son and daughter. The owner – I didn’t get his name – was 90 years old and bought the Monaco new in 1991. He wanted to see the total eclipse as he figured it was his last opportunity. He also figured that this trip to see the eclipse, then Estes Park in Colorado and a couple of other sites would be his last motorhome adventure with his son and daughter.

The car from Texas on the other side of us was driven by Jesus. He made the trip up from Fort Worth to capture images of the total eclipse. He had a nice telescope that he uses to observe planets and the moon and he planned to use it to make a video and capture photographs of the eclipse. He was a nice guy and just wanted to find a place off the beaten path to take his photos.

Jesus and his telescope

On Monday morning, a few local people turned out at the park to see the eclipse. It was very low key with maybe 20 to 30 people overall. Many brought snacks, drinks and/or lunch and sat in the grass or at the picnic tables in the pavilion.

People in the park

The partial eclipse began at 10:26am local time. You wouldn’t know anything was happening unless you had eclipse glasses and could look into the sun to see the moon begin to cross the sun. It was a slow process and I was surprised to see how little effect it had on the amount of sunlight for the most part. Once the moon had obliterated all but a small sliver of the sun the amount of sun light noticeably decreased and air felt cooler like it does in the evening.

While we were waiting for it to happen, a few people amused us with eclipse parlor tricks. If you can catch shadows just right, you can see the crescent shape of the available sunlight in the shadows.

Sunlight crescents in leaf shadows

Sunlight through a colander shows the crescent shaped sunlight

At 11:49am bam! – the sunlight was gone. We were suddenly in darkness but it wasn’t totally dark. Although it was dark enough where we were for light sensor-activated street lights to turn on after a minute or so, on the horizon in every direction it looked like the sun was rising. This was the edge area of the total eclipse where partial sunlight was still hitting the earth. Cicadas began buzzing with the sounds of evening at mid-day. After about a minute and a half, the sunlight returned quickly. Again, without looking directly into the sun with eclipse glasses, you wouldn’t really know much out of the ordinary was happening.

Jesus in the darkness at 11:49am

In the end it was a fleeting moment in time, but everyone was buzzing about it and I’m glad we were able to experience the total eclipse. I now know that being in an area with 90%+ coverage is meaningless compared to the total eclipse – like I said, up to about 97-98% you wouldn’t know much was happening without looking into the sun with special glasses. In Donna’s words, “It’s the difference between night and day.”

The park soon cleared out and the tent campers packed up and left. Jesus had a long drive ahead to get back to Fort Worth. By 4pm, we were the only ones left at the park. Earlier, before the eclipse, I had ridden the Spyder into town and paid for another night here in Bayard. In the town office I paid $10 – that makes our cost for three nights with 50amp electrical service and fresh water come out to about $3.33/night!

The grocery store in town is small but they have their meats prepared by their own butcher. Donna bought a spatchcocked chicken at the store – I wrote about spatchcock here. It was a small, presumably locally sourced chicken of about three pounds perfectly spatchcocked. I set up the Weber Q and grilled it for dinner.

Grilled spatchcocked chicken

Donna served it with roasted butternut squash and sauteed spinach with garlic. It was delicious – the chicken was tender and juicy.

This morning, Donna is out for a bike ride. We plan to pull out of here by 11am and make the 145 -mile drive to Cheyenne, Wyoming. We plan to stay overnight there at the Sierra Trading Post outlet – we stayed there a year ago. Then we’ll move on to Longmont, Colorado where we hope to get a site at the fairgrounds – they don’t take reservations.

The high temperature today in Cheyenne is supposed to be 78 degrees with clear skies and overnight it will drop into the upper 50s.

Since leaving Iowa we’ve been steadily gaining elevation across the great plains. Bayard, Nebraska sits at an elevation of about 3,900 feet above sea level and we’ll be at 6,000 feet above sea level in Cheyenne. Longmont, Colorado is closer to 5,000 feet above sea level.


Four Years Down the Road

I ended my last post as we backtracked to Waukon after the finish of RAGBRAI on Saturday. Team RV There Yet? went our separate ways.

Our destination was southwest of Waukon. I programmed our destination into Nally, our Rand McNally RVND 7720 GPS. She directed us on a route that took us south, then west in a stair-step manner utilizing mostly county roads. I trust the GPS most of the time – there have been a few occasions when I had to override her directions. The thing is, the RVND is an RV-specific unit. I entered our vehicle height, length, weight and other parameters such as how much propane we have on board. When the GPS calculates out route, low clearances or bridge weight limits, etc. are factored into the route.

We hit IA150 at Independence, Iowa and went south to Interstate 380. We were on 380 for about a mile and half and exited at Urbana where we found the Lazy Acres RV Park. The designation 380 for the north-south Interstate that runs from the Waterloo area to Iowa City seemed strange.

Primary Interstates have a one- or two-digit designation with even numbers designating an east-west route and odd numbers indicating a north-south route. Auxiliary interstate highways have a three-digit number with the last two numbers indicating which main Interstate route it’s attached to – in this case I-80. When the first digit is an even number, it means the auxiliary interstate is a loop. When the first digit is an odd number, it means it’s a spur. In this example, I-380 is spur from Interstate 80 to Waterloo.

The Lazy Acres RV Park is geared toward family use but it’s very quiet on weekdays. Even on the weekend, quiet hours are strictly enforced after 10pm. We were assigned to a long pull-through site – it has to be at least 100 feet long. The graveled parking lane is relatively narrow but the site overall is spacious with a large lawn area, picnic table and fire ring.

It was nice to find a quiet place to rest and unwind from all of the RAGBRAI activity that had us packing up and moving every day for an entire week. After we set up, we rode the Spyder about 10 miles into the countryside near the town of VInton where we found Donna’s nephew’s house.

Mark and his wife Jamie have about eight acres and a nice home of about 5,000 square feet – a big change from the 350 square feet we now call home. After the grand tour, Jamie put out some appetizers and then Mark grilled burgers and brats. It was nice to sit and talk with them.

On Sunday, we decided to extend our stay here until Tuesday. We’re in no hurry to be anywhere so an extra day of quiet time was nice. I even got my fishing pole out and fished the pond here. The office had photos of large mouth bass and catfish taken from the pond.

Fishing for fish

I didn’t have much luck. I had several bites, but they were small fish – not even big enough to take the whole bait in. They took nibbles and stole my bait. It was relaxing anyway.

Today we’ll move on a short distance to Amana. We’ll spend two or three nights there. We’ve been told there are interesting historic sites to see and they have a brewery!

The weather forecast calls for 80s there today, cololing to the mid 70s for the rest of the week. Thundershowers are likely on Thursday, so maybe we’ll stay until Friday.

By the way, I neglected to mention that the first day of RAGBRAI, July 23, marked our four-year anniversary on the road. And in case you’re wondering, we feel like we’re just getting started.


*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to purchase anything, 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!