Category Archives: Spyder

Bachelor Days in Mesa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rain clouds just before sunset

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

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

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

Winter Solstice

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

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

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

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

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

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

Osprey on a lamp post

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

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

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

Quiet sunset in the desert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

 

 

Mystery Achievement

The US Postal Service came through and delivered my new pickleball paddle Monday afternoon. I used it on Tuesday and Wednesday and I’m happy with it. The grip is very comfortable. The performance difference between this paddle and my old one is subtle – I expected a greater change. It gives good power and I feel like I have a little more control, but it’s not a night-and-day difference.

New Head pickleball paddle

I crossed a couple more chores off my “to do” list this week. The first thing was addressing our vent fans. After studying the wiring schematic, I saw the power source ran from the fuse box behind the kick panel in front of the passenger seat all the way to the switch on the bathroom wall. It’s a 14-gauge wire with yellow insulation.

Vent fan switch on the right

At one pole of the switch, another yellow wire is crimped to the connector with the power wire and runs back through the wall into the ceiling and goes to the kitchen vent fan switch. The other pole of the switch completes the circuit to the vent fan motor. This explains why both fans quit working at the same time. If current doesn’t reach the bathroom wall switch, then there’s no current going to the kitchen fan switch either.

Looking at the wall switch plate, I couldn’t see any fasteners. I carefully pried the plastic surround cover with a plastic wedge tool and popped the surround off. The surround cover was held to the actual switch plate with four tabs snapped into square holes on the switch plate.

Switch plate screws revealed

With the surround cover off, I saw the screws holding the switch plate to the wall. With these screws removed, I accessed the wiring. I checked the yellow wires on the vent fan switch and found some interesting readings with my multimeter. At first I found about six to eight volts at the switch – meaning I had a large voltage drop from the 13.4 volts at the battery bank. I wiggled the wires and then read zero volts. I pulled the connector off the switch and checked the crimp and wire ends. I followed the wiring and found it coming out of the wall behind the clothes washer in the utility closet. I looked for breaks or abrasions in the wire and found none. I wiggled the wire where it enters the utility closet and pushed it into the wall opening to provide more slack. When I checked with the meter again, I read 13.4 volts.

Yellow vent fan wires on the right

Aha! Something was amiss with the wiring – there must be a break in the strands of wire and I had pushed them back together. The bad news is – the break must be in the section of wire inside the wall. I can’t just pull the wire out of the wall in the utility closet because the bundle of wires runs through plastic support loops every foot or so – including the portion inside the wall. They must have run the wires and secured the loops before the wall panel inside the closet was closed out.

Wiring coming out of the wall in the back of the utility closet

I was stumped. I gave the wires another wiggle test and lost voltage. My thought was to splice into the wires for the bathroom lighting. I could make a short jumper wire and have a power source for the vent fans without running wires the length of the coach. To do this, I needed some 14-gauge wire and piggyback connectors. I put this project on hold to think it over before I bought the supplies and started splicing. I left it with the switch plate off and reconnected the wiring. Later, the fans came on – I had left the switches in the “on” position. I wiggled the wires again. The fans kept running. I left the fans on all day and they worked fine.

Before pickleball on Wednesday, I stopped at the auto parts store in Pacific Beach. I picked up some yellow 14-gauge wire and splice connectors. I also bought brake fluid for the Spyder. When I came home, I wiggled the wires again and the fans still worked. I decided to hold off on splicing into the other power supply wire and I put the switchplate and surround back together. I don’t like mystery fixes – I’m thinking some time down the road the wire will open again and the fans will lose power. I’ll wait until this happens before I splice the wires – I have what need to do it when the time comes.

Next on my list was the brake fluid level on the Spyder. Can-Am did some weird things when they designed the Spyder. The brake fluid is contained in a two-chamber reservoir with tubing supplying fluid to the master cylinder and hydraulic system. Vehicle master cylinders are dual acting mechanisms. There are separate circuits – in this case one circuit operates the rear brake and a second circuit operates the front brakes. Separating the hydraulics into two circuits adds a margin of safety. This is common practice on cars. Some cars – mostly European – take this approach to the next level by separating the circuits into a right front – left rear and left front – right rear  to give greater braking control in the event of failure of one of the circuits.

Having separate front and rear circuits is all well and good on the Spyder design. The Spyder also has a fluid level sensor in the brake fluid reservoir. But the thing is, the sensor is way too sensitive. The slightest drop in fluid level triggers a brake warning light and the message “Brake Failure” flashes on the dash panel. It’s normal for the fluid level to drop slightly as the brake pads wear. The wear of the pads is taken up by the pistons in the caliper extending further in their bores. This creates more fluid volume in the caliper and it’s drawn out of the reservoir. On the Spyder, the brake fluid reservoir must be periodically topped up to avoid the dire “Brake Failure” warnings.

To make matters worse, they put the brake fluid reservoirs under the seat. The seat can be raised to access the reservoirs and battery, but it only raises a short distance – maybe a 30 degree angle – before it hits the stop.

This is the fully raised seat angle

The geniuses that designed the Spyder put the reservoirs at the back of the seat near the pivot point. There’s no way to get even the smallest brake fluid container in there to fill the reservoir. I poured a small amount of fluid into the bottle cap and added fluid one capfull at a time.

Nice place to put the reservoir

Last time I did this, I used a small syringe, but I didn’t have a clean syringe to use this time. Anyway, it’s job done. No more warning messages.

It’s time to head out and use my new paddle at the Pacific Beach Recreation Center. Earlier this week the forecast called for rain on Friday. Now the weather guessers say there’s only a 10 percent chance of rain through the weekend. Maybe we’ll play pickleball in Ocean Beach tomorrow.

 

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.

 

Another Day in Paradise

Thursday was another day in paradise – nothing unusual to report. In the evening, we had a breeze blowing from the west. The onshore flow held a line of cloud cover right at the coastline. Donna and I walked to the west end of Mission Bay RV Resort to watch a spectacular sunset.

Thursday’s sunset

The setting sun reflected off the dark clouds and revealed many colors. Donna topped off the evening by preparing a new dish – tarragon and lemon roast chicken with fennel. Delicious!

Tarragon roast chicken with lemon and fennel – green beans, acorn squash and quinoa on the side

I don’t play pickleball on Friday usually, but since I took Tuesday off, Donna and I headed over to the Ocean Beach Recreation Center (OBRC) Friday morning. They have pickleball scheduled at OBRC Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings starting at 10am. Donna hasn’t been on the court since we were in Santa Fe but she played well and we had fun.

Speaking of fun, we met up with our friends from Arizona, Keith and Suzanne Gallaway at Offshore Tavern and Grill for happy hour and dinner. We enjoyed visiting over a beer and ordered food from their appetizer menu. The appetizers at Offshore are large portions and easily make a meal. Keith and I each had the poke plate while Donna went for the seared yellowfin tuna over salad and Suzanne had the housemade Offshore mac and cheese. The Gallaways treated us to dinner – thanks again!

We made arrangements to meet again Saturday morning. They’re here looking at an RV for sale – a 2004 Alpine Coach 36MDDS. Since I know a thing or two about Alpine Coaches, they asked me if I would look it over. We met at 10am at Campland by the Bay where the coach is being stored. This particular coach was built late in the 2004 model year run and has many 2005 features. After going through the systems and kicking the tires, Keith took it out for a test drive. In my opinion, it’s a solid coach. I think they’ll negotiate with the seller. I wish I’d taken a few pictures, but I was busy looking at things and thinking about it.

I came home around 11:30am. While I was out, Donna borrowed Sini’s car and went up to San Diego State University and picked up our granddaughter, Lainey. They were in the coach when I returned. Keith and Suzanne stopped by for a short visit, then I rode the Spyder to Lanna Thai to pick up take-out for lunch. We enjoyed the Thai food at our picnic table. It was a beautiful day with the temperature in the low 70s and nice to be visiting with Lainey.

Donna and Lainey took the Spyder to the beach and kicked around while I stayed home and read a book. We had pizza from Mountain Mike’s for dinner before Donna used Sini’s car again to drop Lainey off back at the campus.

I did one other thing this weekend. On Thursday night, Sini stopped by to chat over a glass of wine. She mentioned that she wanted get a pair of western boots and had been looking at the Tecovas site. She and Donna had a conversation about women’s styles and boots. I got to thinking – always a dangerous thing. It’s been a few years since I’ve bought something really special for Donna.

I quizzed her a bit about her thoughts on women’s boots and had her look at the Tecovas site. She didn’t want a short boot or one with tall heels and that’s all they had for women. So, I directed her to the Lucchese site. She found a couple she really liked. The next day she was looking at them again and decided she would really like to have a pair of Lucchese Women’s Tall Riding boots. They are high-quality hand-made full-grain calfskin boots. The heels are roper type – only one inch high while the riding shafts are 16 inches tall.

Picture taken from Lucchese.com

I can’t surprise her with them as a Christmas gift – these boots are made to order and I needed to get on it if I wanted them by Christmas. That meant I had to trace her foot and take measurements. So, she knows I’ve ordered the boots and I hope they are finished and shipped by Christmas.

The skies are mostly cloudy this morning, but I think it’s going to burn off and we’ll have a mostly sunny afternoon. Another day in paradise!

Dieting by Default

We’ve been at Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego for two weeks now and are settling into our routines. Due to Halloween activities, the recreation center in Ocean Beach was closed on Friday and Monday, so I had a break from pickleball. Donna has been working out with an early morning boot camp near here on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday and with a personal trainer on Thursday.

With no pickleball action on Monday, I made myself useful and changed the engine oil and filter, transmission filter and the air filter element on the Spyder. It was due for service and I’m happy to put that behind me. This is always a tougher chore and takes longer than expected because I have to remove so much body work to access the engine area. The high on Monday was only 68 degrees.

Tuesday was another cool day and it rained in the morning. The roads were very wet all morning, so I decided not to ride the Spyder to the Pacific Beach Recreation Center for pickleball. I stayed inside and had a lazy day reading a book. I got out in the late afternoon though. Part of my San Diego routine is to join the Bay Park guys at Offshore Tavern and Grill or Dan Diego’s for happy hour. We hit Dan Diego’s on Monday and Thursday, Offshore on Tuesday and Friday.

I received another delivery from Tecovas – I had taken my Ariat boots to Buffalo Exchange and sold them. Buffalo Exchange is a used clothing outlet that buys apparel that’s trendy and in good condition. The boots were like new. Now that I made room in my closet, I replaced them with a pair of boots from Tecovas – I wrote about that company in an earlier post.

The new boots are made from exotic leather – they’re lizard skin. The vamps (the part that covers your foot) are made from Varanus salvator – water monitor lizard skin. The water monitor – sometimes called a ring lizard – is the second largest lizard on the planet. Only the Komodo dragon – another monitor – is larger. The water monitor is from Asia and the average length of the reptile is about five feet although there are records of water monitors twice that size.

Most lizard skin boots are made from teju lizards. These lizards are smaller and the vamp usually requires more than one skin to be sewn together. Tecovas uses the water monitor skin so they can create one-piece vamps. The shafts – the vertical portion around your ankle and calf – are made from hand-stitched calfskin.

Tecovas Nolan lizard skin boots

Donna asked how many pair of boots I need – the answer is always just one more! I’m through buying boots for now though – five pairs is my limit due to space requirements.

Donna is following a diet recommended by her personal trainer that’s high in protein, and low in carbohydrates and fats. Although I may stray from her diet a bit at lunch time, I’m pretty much eating what she serves, so I’m kind of on the program as well. This doesn’t mean we don’t eat well.

Monday she prepared tortilla crusted tilapia with baked acorn squash and green beans. A dollop of salsa enhanced the flavor of the fish.

Tortilla crusted tilapia with salsa

Our friend Sini Schmitt got back in town Monday evening. Her coach has been here in a site down the way from us, but she was off on an adventure in Key West followed by another in northern California. She joined us for dinner on Wednesday night. Donna served spice chicken with Moroccan herb dressing with sides of spaghetti squash and roasted tomatoes.

Spice chicken with Moroccan herb dressing

We had a sudden rain shower last night. The sound of rain drops drumming on the roof woke me. I don’t think it lasted very long – I’m not sure because I drifted off back to sleep. Rain during the night time hours is okay – the forecast looks dry today. I’ll head over to Pacific Beach and drop Donna off at the gym while I play pickleball this morning. The weather looks to remain cool for next several days with overnight lows around 60 degrees and daytime highs of about 70.

 

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.

 

 

A Great Find at the Mercado

We’ve settled in quickly here at Mission Bay RV Resort. We had a few San Diego favorites on our list to hit and we started in right away.

On Friday evening, Donna and I headed over to Offshore Tavern and Grill for happy hour. But our real reason for going there was to have their poke plate for dinner. Poke (poh-key) is diced sushi grade tuna over a cabbage salad served with fried won-ton chips. Donna had poke on her mind for a while and couldn’t wait to get it at Offshore where they make an excellent version of this Hawaiian dish.

Poke plate

On Saturday morning, we rode the Spyder downtown to the mercado (farmers’ market) on Cedar Street in Little Italy. This farmers’ market is a favorite of ours.

The mercado

The street market covers about four blocks and has a great selection of local produce, meats and crafts. Donna was on a mission and bought several items including a dry mole salami that wasn’t local – it came from Salumi Artisan Cured Meats – a Seattle market founded by Armandino Batali, father of famed chef Mario Batali. The mole salami is amazing. Sliced thin, it’s somewhat chewy and the flavors morph from chocolate to cinnamon to clove and other flavors that I can’t adequately describe.

After we returned from the market, I took the Spyder to Pacific Beach for a much-needed wash. There’s a self-serve car wash on Garnet Avenue that I like and the Spyder is shining once again. I also ordered air and oil filters so I can service the Spyder – it’s due. We both spent a lot of time online ordering things we’ve been wanting but haven’t had to opportunity to get. We haven’t been in one place long enough over the past few months to get deliveries – the shop in Albuquerque and the balloon fiesta don’t count – we couldn’t receive deliveries there.

Donna also spent a lot of time online searching for a strength training class to join while we’re here. Tomorrow I’ll get back on the pickleball courts – I plan to play four days a week while we’re here. Hopefully I’ll get my game back up to a level where I can play with the 3.5 group when we get to Mesa, Arizona in late December.

While I was walking through the RV park, a high-end coach caught my eye – they always do. It was a 2007 quad-slide Newell. I’ve described Newell coaches before. These are top-of-the-line motorhomes that are mostly made to order in Oklahoma. Newell builds the entire coach from the ground up. They make a few coaches on speculation every year for use at RV shows before they’re sold. Being mostly custom-made, the prices vary, but bought new you need to bring something in the neighborhood of 1.5 million dollars to get onboard.

I met the owners of this Newell. They sold a ranch in Arkansas and bought the Newell. They got on the road with the intention of spending a year or so traveling the country before deciding where to settle down and enjoy retirement. That was one and half years ago and they’re still enjoying the travel.

2007 quad-slide Newell

I saw a similar Newell online for sale listed at $550,000 – probably a third of what it cost new. That’s the reality of RVs – they depreciate.

Last night I had a seasonal special from Alesmith – a local San Diego brewery. It was a Halloween release called Evil Dead Red. It’s a malty red ale that was tasty with a creamy mouth feel. It was very easy to drink despite it’s 6.6% ABV.

Halloween ale

We had cool weather on Friday – the high was about 70 degrees and a few rain drops fell. Saturday was clear and warmer with the temperature reaching 75 degrees. The forecast calls for a hot spell beginning today. Santa Ana winds should develop. Santa Ana is a condition affecting southern California coastal areas when high pressure develops over the desert basin. This pushes hot, dry air through the coastal mountain ranges and offshore along the coast. We should see upper 80s today and into the 90s over the next couple of days. Time to hit the beach!