Monthly Archives: December 2013

Closing Out 2013

New Year’s Eve! Today is the last day of 2013. What a year it has been. The year flew past, while at the same time it seems like going to work at the office and coming home to a sticks-and-bricks house was something that happened a long time ago.

We made the decision to move up my retirement date by one year back in March 2013. Shortly after that, we had an offer to buy our house before we even listed it! Everything fell into place and with a little sweat and long  hours, we were ready for road. My last day in the office was July 19, 2013.

We headed east to visit Donna’s family in upstate New York. We visited friends and watched a friend compete in the Ironman Triathlon in Lake Placid. From there, we headed west and saw a lot of our country, making friends along the way. In Idaho, we stopped in Priest River to visit my best friend from my school days, Jim Birditt, and his wife, Cindy.

We eventually made it to western Washington State, where we visited my oldest daughter, Alana, and our grand daughters, Lainey and Gabi (Gabriella). From there we came down the West Coast through Washington, Oregon and California.

We stopped at the Cape Blanco State Park in Oregon and met Chris and Cherie (I follow their blog, Technomadia). We also visited Paul and Nina who have a blog called Wheeling It. Both couples were working as lighthouse hosts.

We explored the giant redwoods in northern California and made our way to San Diego. We stayed in San Diego for 97 days, visiting friends and family and enjoying the beaches and beautiful climate.

When I was growing up in San Diego, if someone said they were going to “the river,” it was understood that they meant the Colorado River at the Arizona border. No need to say “the Colorado River.” it’s just the river. That’s where we are today, visiting with old friends from high school days, Kim  and Pat Chapman, Kim’s sister, Debbie, and our new friend, Bruce Bednarski, Debbie’s husband.

Yesterday we went out on the river in Bruce’s boat. Kim and Pat followed in Pat’s boat. We went upriver from the Imperial Dam and found a sandbar. Bruce beached the boat and we set up chairs on the sandbar. It was relaxing, sitting in the sun and enjoying sandwiches with beer. The weather was fine – temperature in the 70s with just a light breeze.

Bruce taking us up the river

Bruce taking us up the river

Donna feeling the wind chill as we speed up the river

Donna feeling the windchill as we speed up the river

Relaxing on the sand bar

Relaxing on the sandbar

Bruce's boat in the foreground

Bruce’s boat in the foreground

Donna posing on the sandbar

Donna and her shadow on the sandbar

Today, Donna has a phone interview with WGN-AM radio at 12:30. I’ll dump and flush our holding tanks and attend to a few chores. At some point, I may take a nap and rest up for the evening’s festivities. We’ve been invited to join Bruce, Debbie, Pat and Kim for prime rib and  martinis.

I may not post again for a few days. Internet connectivity has been troublesome. We’ll leave here on January 2nd and head over to Mesa, Arizona. I intend to look at a few coaches there that I found on the internet.







Playoff Contenders

Saturday was a pretty relaxed day. Donna and I explored Hidden Shores RV Resort. It’s an interesting place. It’s built on  BLM land. I’m not sure how the commercial side works. It’s managed by a private commercial company, but it’s controlled by the BLM.

Most of the sites have manufactured homes that are loosely defined as “mobile.” The owners buy the manufactured homes and pay rent for the site. There are other sites that are set up for RVs. The site we’re in has travel trailers on either side. These trailers don’t seem to travel much though. They are set up with skirting along the sides extending to the ground.

There are boat launches here, a clubhouse with a heated swimming pool and hot tubs. They also have a cafe, an equestrian park and small golf course.

On Saturday afternoon, I lounged in an outdoor recliner and watched a pair of ospreys soar overhead. There were hunting for fish. Ospreys will dive into the water, feet first and snag a fish near the surface with their talons. They’re beautiful, large raptors that can glide along on the wind currents effortlessly. I enjoyed watching them.

On Saturday evening, Bruce, Debbie, Pat and Kim arrived. Donna and I joined them for snacks and cocktails. Donna made a jalapeno – cilantro hummus and toasted pita. She also prepared a veggie tray. We had a good time catching up. It’s been more than 25 years  since I last saw Pat and Kim.

Yesterday was NFL action day. The morning was cool and windy. The wind was gusty and I decided to put the awning up rather than risk having it damaged by a wind gust. I watched the Bengals take the Ravens out of playoff contention. Meanwhile, the Jets beat Miami, opening the playoff door for the Chargers. All they had to do was win at home against Kansas City to make the playoffs.

Kansas City is a tough team. They rested many of the starters, as they are already assured of a playoff spot. Even with back-up personnel they’re a good team. They have a lot of depth on their roster and the back-up players didn’t take as many hits in the previous 16 weeks and were still fairly fresh.  I donned my vintage 1984 number 14 Dan Fouts Chargers jersey and went to Bruce and Debbie’s place for the game. Donna joined us later. We enjoyed some chicken chili Debbie whipped up and watched a real nail-biter of a game. In the end, San Diego won in overtime and will be a wildcard team in the playoffs next week against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Today, we’re going boating on the Colorado River with Bruce, Debbie, Pat and Kim. I’m looking forward to it and will try to take a few photos. The wind died down last night. There’s a gentle breeze today and the forecast calls for temperature in the 70s.

View at dusk from Bruce and Debbie's deck

View at dusk from Bruce and Debbie’s deck

Holiday Fun

I’m sitting at the table on Debbie and Bruce Bednarski’s deck, over looking the Colorado River at Hidden Shores Resort as I type this. I posted about my friend, Debbie Taylor Bednarski here. Bruce and Debbie will arrive today. I last posted on Christmas Day, so I need to catch up on  our activities since then.

My daughter, Shauna came to our site at Mission Bay RV Resort for a late morning  brunch on Christmas Day. Donna made a mushroom and sun-dried tomato frittata. We sat at the table outside and enjoyed the frittata with a green smoothie.

Frittata and green smoothie

Frittata and green smoothie

After brunch, we drove to the movie theater at Fashion Valley. I bought a $10 bag of popcorn and about a third of it ended up on the floor! We entered the theater about 20 minutes before showtime to claim good seats. The movie theater was busy! We sat through 25 minutes of preview trailers before the movie started.  It seemed a bit excessive. We watched American Hustle. I give it two thumbs up! Between the early arrival, the previews and movie, we spent about three hours in the theater!

After the movie, Shauna dropped us off back at the RV park. I packed a few things in the trailer, then Dr. Jeff Sandler picked us up and drove us to Donna sister, Sheila’s house for Christmas dinner. Sheila prepared rack of lamb with demi-glaze, potatoes delphinoise and carrots.

Rack of lamb

Rack of lamb

Donna prepared creme brulee for dessert. I carmelized the sugar topping with a small chef’s torch.

Christmas dessert

Christmas dessert

We enjoyed the dinner and the company. We said our goodbyes around 8:30 and Jeff dropped us off back at the RV park.

Boxing Day was a busy one for us. We packed up, I dumped and flushed the holding tanks and filled the freshwater tank. Hitting the road with fresh water full and holding tanks empty is the only way to fly! Shauna came by to see us off. We also said our goodbyes to our new friends, Bob and Sini, and drove out of our site just before noon. I drove the coach to the lot where our cargo trailer was stored. It was a little tricky getting the coach in position to hook up. The handheld Cobra CB radio worked like a champ though. Donna provided guidance and I hooked up without a hitch (pun intended).

Soon we were eastbound on I-8. I took the Greenfield exit in El Cajon. I was given a tip about finding cheap propane there. I pulled into the Chevron station at the bottom of the exit ramp. Getting close enough to the propane pump took some maneuvering. After a couple of missed passes, I was able to  position us close enough. With our new cargo trailer, our overall length is 53′ now. The propane was $2.70/gallon. This was a good price.

As we climbed into mountains on I-8, the wind really picked up. It was a quartering headwind from the northeast for the most part. It was a tough slog over the summits – we crossed Laguna Summit, Crestwood Summit and Tecate Summit. All of them are just over 4,000 feet above sea level.

The speed limit for trucks on the descent into the desert is 35 mph. I geared down and followed a couple of tractor trailers all the way down. It’s a 6% grade most of the way. We took our time and enjoyed the ride. The wind died down as we made our way through the desert past El Centro.

We stopped at Buttercup Station in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area and inquired about camping. There’s a fee for camping in the recreational area – it costs $40 per week to dry camp. There’s no day rate, so we would have had to pay the weekly rate. Outside of the recreational area boundaries, it’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public land. We were given a map defining the recreational area boundaries. We decided to boondock on the BLM land outside of the recreational area boundary.

We found a nice, fairly level area just before dark. We set up quickly. It was quiet, almost eerie after spending the last three months in a city. The night was clear and stars were bright and plentiful.

BLM near Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area - neighbors are not too close

BLM near Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area – neighbors are not too close

In the morning, Donna prepared yogurt parfaits for breakfast. Donna wanted to explore the ruins of an old gold mining town called Tumco. It was a few miles away. She said she would return in an hour and a half and trekked off into the desert to find it. I stayed back and puttered around in the coach.

Breakfast in the desert - parfait, biscotti and coffee

Breakfast in the desert – yogurt parfait, biscotti and coffee

Our neighbor saw me out and about and called out, “Good morning.” I walked over and talked to him for a while. His name was Jack.  He and his wife spend the summer at their home in Kansas and the winter boondocking in the California desert. He knew the area well – they’ve been coming here for years. I left my phone charging in the coach while I visited with Jack.

When I returned to the coach, I saw I missed a call from Donna. I called her. She said she found Tumco, but it was farther away than she thought. She had been gone for over an hour and said it would take her an hour to walk back. I asked her if she wanted me to pack up and drive the coach to her location. She decided to walk back.

About 15 minutes later, I heard an off-road vehicle outside of our coach and Donna yelling, “Honey, I’m home!” There she was, sitting on the back of a four-wheeler. She’d met a guy named Russell. He’s 74 years old and was out for a ride. They struck up a conversation and after talking to him, Donna felt she could trust him when he offered to give her a ride back to the coach.

We were back on I-8 east a little after noon. We crossed the state line and entered Arizona at Yuma. I stopped in town and filled our gas tank. Gas in Yuma was $3.19 – about 50 cents less per gallon than in California.

I didn’t print the directions to our destination from the Hidden Shores Resort website. I had to rely on our GPS, Nally, to get us here. Nally routed us back to the California side of the river through Winterhaven. We followed S24 north. I didn’t understand the route, because Hidden Shores is on the Arizona side of the river. Eventually, S24 crossed the river at the Imperial Dam, right next to Hidden Shores Resort.

We checked in and were given site C4. This site is down by the river. There are no sites between us and the river. We dropped the trailer in our wide site and backed the coach in. Once again, the Cobra handheld CB made it easy. This is one of the best accessories we’ve bought.

We took a walk and explored around the area last evening. Donna had chili cooking in the crock pot and we had that for dinner.

View from shore near our site

View from shore near our site

Today, Bruce and Debbie will arrive. Her sister, Kim, and Kim’s husband, Pat Chapman, will arrive tomorrow. I’m looking forward to meeting Bruce and seeing Kim and Pat again. It’s been over 25 years since I’ve seen them.



Merry Christmas

Christmas Day always brings me so many great memories. I like to think about the great times when I was a kid and the even better times when I was raising kids. I hope your Christmas is one filled with wonderful memories.

Yesterday I continued our preparations for travel. While Donna was out on a bicycle ride, I rode the scooter to Home Depot. I bought a couple of furniture blankets. We had a few of them in the trailer when it was stolen and I needed replacements.

As I rode down Clairemont Drive towards Mission Bay, I was awestruck by the view. It was a gorgeous day! The temperature was in the mid 70s and the atmosphere was so clear, the horizon on the ocean was sharply defined against a clear, blue sky.

After I dropped off the blankets, I carried my compressor over to the trailer and adjusted the tire pressure. I set the tires to 50 psi in preparation for travel. Tire pressure is important as under inflated tires are the number one cause of tire failure.

Last evening, we went out to eat with my daughter, Shauna, at Ra Sushi. Unfortunately, I neglected to take pictures. We were served beautiful sushi dishes and a fantastic dessert. They called the dessert a banana split, but it was unlike any banana split I’ve ever seen. They cut a deep fried banana into sections and topped each section with strawberries, kiwi fruit and whipped cream.

This morning Donna went out for a Christmas joy ride first thing, while I’m sitting at my laptop typing.  I plan to do a little more travel preparation this morning. Shauna will come over later this morning for brunch and then we’ll go to the movie theater at Fashion Valley. Today’s weather is a carbon copy of yesterday. Am I dating myself by using the term carbon copy?

I almost forgot to mention – Santa brought me a sportula. A sportula is a barbeque spatula with your favorite sporting team’s logo cut into the spatula blade. Of course, mine has the San Diego Chargers lightning bolt logo.

One week left in 2013. Tomorrow we hit the road for points east. We haven’t defined a destination for day one. We plan to boondock overnight somewhere in the desert. On Friday, we will arrive at the Hidden Shores RV Resort on the Colorado River. I don’t know if I will have a good internet connection in the coming week. I won’t post tomorrow as we will busy packing in the morning. Once we reach Hidden Shores RV Resort, I hope we have solid internet access.


San Diego Chargers Sportula

San Diego Chargers Sportula

Can You Hear Me Now?

I forgot to mention something in yesterday’s post.

Last week, I posted about the Cobra 38 WX ST* handheld CB radio we bought. That post is here. Before we returned to the RV park on Sunday, we tested the CB again. Donna was in Sheila’s car. I keyed the mic on the mobile CB in our coach and said, “Can you hear me now?” I could see Donna. She was talking into the CB, but I couldn’t hear anything. When you talk on the CB, you have to hold down the push-to-talk button. I thought she wasn’t pushing the right button. I said into the mic, “Push the lower button on the left side to talk.”

Donna got out of the car and came to the door of the coach. She was clearly frustrated and told me she knew which button to push. Something else must be wrong. I tried the handheld and it transmitted to the coach. She took the handheld back to the car to try again. The same scenario played – she could hear me, but I couldn’t hear her. Then I had a thought. I told to get out of the car. She stepped out and now I could receive her signal fine.

The antenna for our mobile CB is on the left front of the coach, above the driver’s side window. The antenna on the handheld is obviously on the unit itself. When Donna was in the car, the steel roof of the car was blocking the signal transmitted from the handheld. She could receive my signal though. I think there are a couple of factors influencing this. The mobile unit in our coach is more powerful than the handheld. Also, it takes more power to transmit than to receive. So she could receive my signal, but couldn’t transmit. For a while, it looked like our plan to relieve some of the communication frustration was backfiring.

Donna was waiting, radio in hand, at site 110 when I pulled up in our coach. I looked at the rear view camera monitor and it looked like I was in position to back in. I asked Donna if I was far enough forward to cut the wheel and begin backing in. She told me to go a few more feet forward.  As I began backing in, she talked to me and gave me instructions. I was able to position the coach perfectly in one shot. This sure beats the heck out of waving arms and hand signals!

Yesterday, I changed our plan. Donna would take Sheila’s car and do some grocery shopping while I rode the scooter to Sheila’s house. I looked at the front door lockset. The doorknob had been drilled out and wasn’t usable (see Monday’s post).  I rode over to Ace Hardware and found an exact replacement for the door knob assembly. I had them re-key the lock so it would use Sheila’s existing key, which also fits the deadbolt and back door. It took about an hour for them to re-key the lock, so I had lunch while they did that.  I returned to Sheila’s house and changed out the front door lockset.

I spent the rest of the afternoon organizing the trailer and figuring out how to hang our bicycles. I have the bicycles hanging in there now and everything is falling into place.

Last night, I walked to Dan Diego’s Bistro to watch the Monday Night football game. Donna picked up Sheila and Connor at the airport. Donna and Connor came back to the RV park while Sheila went to teach her exercise class and run a few errands. Donna baked cherry pistachio biscotti, which I’m having with coffee right now. Yum. Shortly after I came home, Sheila returned. We sat and visited for a while.

I’m  having a hard time believing today is Christmas Eve. The forecast calls for temperatures in the 70s along the coast, warmer inland. It’s not just the climate that throws me. It’s also about how the time has flown by. We’ve been in San Diego for over three months! When we pull out on Thursday, we will have been in San Diego for 97 days. I’m looking forward to hitting the road again. I just hope it isn’t too windy crossing the mountains.

This evening, Donna and my daughter, Shauna, and I will go downtown to Ra Sushi. It may not be a traditional Christmas Eve meal, but we love sushi and they’re having happy hour specials all day! Tomorrow, the three of us will go to the movies and then we’ll go to Sheila’s house for Christmas dinner.

Merry Christmas!


*Just so you know, if you decide to purchase one of these through the Amazon link in this post, I’ll earn a small commission. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!


Pry and Enter

We had a busy weekend, beginning with Friday. Our coach was scheduled to be washed and waxed at noon on Friday. Friday morning, I moved the things we had outside so they would be out of the way.

Included in the wash/wax job was stripping and cleaning the roof. The sealant I used on the roof was the wrong type. At A&S RV, they told me to use a sealant that’s made for EPDM roof membrane. I took their word for it. Roberto from Extreme Detail took one look at the roof and said, “This is the wrong stuff. It needs to be removed. Don’t let them sell you sealant. This is a fiberglass roof and you shouldn’t apply this sealant. It’s a mess.”

He was right. The sealant didn’t absorb into the roof as I thought it should. It just left a coating that hardened in some spots, but didn’t cure in others. After being on the road for a few months, it left streaks on the sides where it ran off of the roof with rain water. Live and learn!

They arrived and started work about an hour later than planned. They worked until about 6pm, it was dark a little past 5pm. After dark they were cleaning the awning, but it was too hard to see if they were missing spots so they quit and said they would have to finish Saturday morning. This cramped my plans for Saturday because we had to check out by noon on Saturday.

Once they left, I walked over to Bob and Sini’s place. Their site is on the west side of the park, right on the water. Donna was already there. We were invited to join them to watch the sunset and have a snack and cocktails. The cleaning job ran late, so I missed the sunset. I enjoyed the appetizers and cocktails though!

Saturday morning, I moved our bikes, outdoor mats, chairs, ice maker and a few other items to the trailer. The security guys let us leave the trailer while we did our 24-hour shuffle. I posted about the 24-hour shuffle here.  We also had another minor complication. Donna sister, Sheila, went on a ski trip for the weekend. Donna dropped her off at the airport so she has her car for the weekend. I still had Shauna’s car. We can’t park two cars in our site. Friday night the security guard let Donna park Sheila’s car next to our trailer. They usually charge for for parking extra vehicles overnight, but they didn’t charge us.

Roberto spent a couple of hours finishing up the wax job and cleaning the awnings Saturday morning. They did a great job – the coach looks really good. I dumped and flushed the tanks. I finished packing and we pulled out of the park just before noon. This time we took our chances and served our 24-hour exile in the Mission Bay Park parking lot across from the RV park at De Anza Cove. Overnight parking is not allowed, you are not supposed to park there between 2am and 4am. We often see RVs in the lot. Enforcement is spotty, so we took the risk.

Donna drove out to T’s Hair Salon to have her hair cut one last time before leaving San Diego. I went for a walk, then drove over to Pacific Beach and picked up Carole Sue Bringas. Carole’s birthday is December 25th. It seems like she never has a birthday party because everyone is celebrating Christmas day with their families. The plan was for several old friends to get together with Carole to celebrate her birthday at the Old Town Mexican Cafe.

By the time I left to get Carole, Donna returned from her hair appointment. Donna and Carole drove to Old Town in Sheila’s car. I drove Shauna’s car to her apartment. Shauna dropped me off in Old Town and took her car. So we solved the two-car issue. We had a good time at the Old Town Mexican Cafe. We visited with old friends. Gary Stemple and his wife, Janet joined our table. They had to leave early, around 4:30, to drive up to north Los Angeles to pick up a new car.

Tom Lewis and I talked about music. He’s a drummer, but also plays guitar. His wife sings in a band covering Linda Ronstadt. Everyone had a great time. The party broke up around 6pm. On the way home, we stopped at Sheila’s house. Donna had to feed her cat and we also picked up a couple of NetFlix discs we had delivered there. From there, we dropped Carole off and returned to our coach in the parking lot.

We saw a few other RVs in the lot and on the street. I was a little nervous about having a cop knock on the door at 2am. We watched two episodes from season two of Breaking Bad. This is such a good series- we’re totally hooked on it.

I didn’t sleep very well – probably because I was nervous about illegally parking overnight. Sunday morning we got up and drove over to Ocean Beach. We walked to the cafe on the OB pier.

OB pier - pelican, fishermen and cafe in the background

Ocean Beach pier – pelican, fishermen and cafe in the background

After eating breakfast on  the pier we returned to the coach. I watched the first half of the Bronco game and saw Peyton Manning throw for touchdown number 51 of the season – a new NFL record. Then we moved back into the RV park. We’re in site 110. Last month we were next door in 111, while Bud and Mona occupied 110.

View of the RV park last evening from our freshly cleaned windshield

View of the RV park last evening from our freshly cleaned windshield

I had things set up in time to watch the Chargers game. They beat the Raiders and still have a chance to make the playoffs.

Last evening, Donna went back to Sheila’s house to feed the cat. She had an unfortunate experience there. She stepped out of the house to put something in the recycle bin. When the door closed behind her, it was locked. Her purse, car keys and cell phone were all in the house. A neighbor helped her by calling a locksmith. It seems the locksmith was a hack though. He couldn’t pick the lock so he tried to drill out the tumbler. Two broken drill bits later, he pried the door knob and broke it off. Donna finally was able to get inside. The guy calling himself a locksmith charged her $169 to break the door knob!

When Donna returned we watched more episodes of Breaking Bad. Today, we’ll go buy a new door knob for Sheila’s house and I’ll install it.





Hazardous Day

Yesterday, I drove up to Riverside County to visit my step-dad. It rained all the way on the 75-mile drive. We sat and talked for a while. After about an hour, Ken seems to become tired of visiting. He will say, “Well, you probably should go before the traffic gets heavy.” So, after about an hour of visiting, I left.

On the drive down I-15, traffic came to sudden stop near the junction of highway 76. I could see emergency vehicles on the grade ahead. Two lanes were blocked. I’d never seen so many fire engines and ambulances at the scene of a wreck. As we inched forward, I saw more ambulances staged on an overpass and on-ramp.  I knew this had to be a bad crash.

When we finally came to the site of the wreck, I saw two badly mangled cars and thought it must have been a multi-vehicle crash, maybe due to the weather. It had been raining off and on all day, sometimes pouring down hard. As I passed by ambulance after ambulance, I saw something that made my stomach turn. There was a large tour bus lying on its side on the freeway. I don’t know how it happened. Later, from watching the news, I learned that at least one person died and many were taken to area hospitals. I also heard that one person miraculously walked away from the bus unharmed.

I snapped a couple of shits while I was stopped in taffic

I snapped a couple of shots while I was stopped in traffic


It’s a somber reminder how things can go wrong on the road. We need to drive safely and defensively.

Last night I was sitting at my computer looking at used motorhomes for sale. The coach started rocking. Donna asked, “Are you doing that?” I said, “No, that’s not you doing that? It must be an earthquake.” The Christmas decorations Donna hung in the windows were swaying back and forth. It was a fairly mild earthquake. According to the Union-Tribune, it was a 4.6 magnitude quake centered 57 miles southeast of Ensenada, Mexico. We felt a couple of aftershocks, but it wasn’t a big deal. We weren’t going to fall into the sea or anything.

I picked up something yesterday that should be useful. When we set up in a site, I put blocks under the jacks before I level the coach. I made 12″x12″ leveling blocks from treated 2×12 lumber and laminated them with 1/2″ plywood. Using these under the eight-inch-square steel pads of the jacks spreads the load. If we’re parked on dirt, gravel or grass, it’s more stable and the jacks won’t sink into the ground. On asphalt, in warm conditions, the steel jack pads can damage the asphalt. On concrete, it isn’t necessary, but I still use them to reduce the amount of extension of the jacks.

Putting the blocks under the jacks pads means I have to kneel down to place them in the right spot. I bought knee pads to make kneeling down more comfortable. I think they will work fine. I used a mat before, but that meant I had to carry the mat and the blocks to each corner of the coach. Now i can just strap the knee pads on and get to work. You can check out the knee pads here. *

Today, the skies are blue and the sun is shining. It may the beginning of the rainy season here, but it rarely rains for days on end. Two guys from Extreme Detail are scheduled to come to our site around noon. They will wash and wax our coach.  They will clean the roof and awnings also. The coach hasn’t been washed in months. The Mission Bay RV Resort doesn’t allow guests to wash their rigs onsite. This is a common rule in many RV parks. Extreme Detail is approved to wash coaches because they use a waterless method. They figured the job would take four to five hours.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to search the internet for a class A diesel coach.


*Just so you know, if you decide to purchase one these through the Amazon link in this post, I’ll earn a small commission. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!

On the Prowl

I woke up this morning to the sound of rain falling on our roof. I took a look out the window and saw a blustery, overcast day. The weather guessers predicted a possibility of rain tonight, not first thing in the morning. A day with rain showers is okay though. I’m not complaining.

I didn’t post to the blog yesterday, mainly because Tuesday was just another day. Nothing remarkable and I didn’t have a story to tell.

We have a neighbor behind our site with a travel trailer. He’s a retired San Diego lifeguard. I think he has a job though. Every morning, around 8:30, he fires up his old Mercedes. I think it has a fuel pressure issue. The engine starts reluctantly. When it finally starts, it idles very slowly. I can hear him feathering the throttle, trying to get the engine to rev. Sometimes it just dies. Other times it will rev wildly, then run out of fuel as he plays the throttle and then it dies. He goes through this ritual four or five times before the engine settles into a steady idle and he can drive away. I told Donna this wild revving is known as an Italian tune-up.

When he came into the park, I noticed the tires on his trailer were under-inflated. Tuesday, I was standing outside and noticed they were nearly flat. He came home as I was standing outside. I pointed out the low tires. I told him that I have a compressor and could fill his tires if he wanted me to. He appeared to be stunned by the offer. It was dark, so I said I would fill them the next day. He went into his trailer. After the door closed, I heard him holler, “Yes! That’s what it’s all about!” I like to think he was talking about my unexpected offer of assistance. Yesterday I filled his tires. They had about 20PSI of pressure. I pumped them up to 60PSI.

I drove to Home Depot in Shauna’s car later in the day. I was looking for storage containers to organize things in the trailer. I bought three stackable, heavy duty Rubbermaid Commercial totes.* I’ll screw one of them to the floor in the trailer, then I can stack the other two on top and secure them together with a strap or bungee through the handles. Each container has a 20-gallon capacity. This will allow me to securely store odds and ends for travel.

Before I came home, I stopped at Sheila’s house and picked up a NetFlix disc that Donna ordered. We’re going through the Breaking Bad series. We’ve watched the first season and are starting season two, or so we thought. Season two is broken up into three separate discs. The disc we queued up from NetFlix turned out to be the second disc of season two. We debated whether we should send it back and get the first disc or watch it. We ended up watching it. It wasn’t too hard to piece the story together. Now we’ll go back and watch the first disc of season two before moving on to the third disc.

We are on the prowl for a new (to us) motorhome. I’ve decided to buy a diesel pusher model. I have a few in mind. I spend a couple of hours every day looking online at used motorhomes for sale. I try to be realistic when I look. I have budget limits and I also have certain requirements. The floorplan needs to accommodate Donna’s office needs. The engine and chassis need to meet my expectations. I think we are better off buying an older, higher-end model than a newer entry-level coach.

Last week, a coach I can only dream about came into the  RV park. The security guy told me the owner comes here frequently. The owner is in his 80s. He traded in his 45-foot Newell for a 2012 40-foot Newell last year. He wanted a shorter coach because it’s easier to maneuver. Newells are custom-made from the ground up. They design and build their own chassis to support a coach constructed with the finest materials. His 2012 40-foot, two-slide Newell was $1.5 million!

2012 two slide 40 foot Newell

2012 two-slide 40-foot Newell


Our plan is to leave here the day after Christmas. We’ll stay at Hidden Shores RV Resort near Yuma for a week. From there, we’ll go to the Phoenix area where there are a few coaches for sale that I’m interested in. I expect to buy a new coach next month if I can find what I’m after. They all look good on the internet. I’ll have to actually see and drive them before I know if I’m really interested.

Today, I’ll drive up to Menifee (Sun City) and visit my step-dad. Donna will stay home and work on some book promotions she is doing. She’s offering one of her Kindle books, How to Declutter and Make Money Now, for free through Saturday, December 21. Consider it an early Christmas present! You might also want to grab Secrets of Professional Organizers, a 3-volume series, while it’s on sale.


*Just so you know, if you decide to purchase one these through the Amazon link in this post, I’ll earn a small commission. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!


Communication Breakdown

Healthy relationships require clear, open communication. Donna and I are pretty good at this and rarely have misunderstandings. Since we’ve been on the road, there is one activity where we sometimes become a little frustrated.

That can happen when I’m backing our coach into a site. Donna gets out and directs me as I back in. This is useful as I have many things to consider as I back a vehicle that’s 37 feet long and over 12 feet high. If I don’t drop the trailer, there’s another thing to think about as I reverse. I want to place the coach precisely in the site to facilitate the hook-ups and maximize our space.

Donna stands behind and off to the side of the coach. I use a combination of the rear view camera and side mirrors to watch her signals. Sometimes she isn’t in the right position and I’ll lose sight of her. When that happens, I have to open the driver’s side window and call out to her. She’s standing about 50 feet away and I have to call out loudly. Sometimes she feels like I’m yelling at her. Sometimes I get a little frustrated and maybe I am yelling.

We’ve talked about this several times and tried a few solutions. We’ll be hitting the road again soon and we will need to park the coach in various places. Last time we did this, we tried using cell phones. Donna got out and dialed my cell phone. I put her on the speaker and she could direct me. I could tell her what I was concerned with (a tree branch I didn’t want to be over the roof). This seemed like a great solution until the call dropped as I was telling her about the tree.

Last Friday I decided to try something else. I went online and found a handheld Cobra 40-channel CB radio at*. I opened an Amazon Prime account to get free, next-day shipping and ordered the radio. We have a mobile CB radio in our coach. With the handheld, Donna and I can communicate without me raising my voice. This should work!

It was scheduled to deliver on Monday. The FedEx guy stopped at our site about 9am and delivered a box from Amazon. When I opened it, I found another box wrapped in bubble wrap inside. This box was a cube and seemed to be too small and light for a handheld CB radio. I opened it and found a Snoopy coffee mug!

I don’t think this type of thing happens too often with Amazon. There weren’t any return instructions in the box. I  went online and found their customer service page. I filled out a form and submitted it. Within 30 minutes, I had an email with a return authorization and free shipping label. The replacement Cobra handheld CB radio is due to arrive today. I think that’s pretty good service. They stepped right up to correct the mistake.

Yesterday, my daughter Shauna left her car with us. She completed her last final exam on Saturday and has a break until the next semester starts in January. She and some of her law school classmates are rewarding themselves with a cruise from Long Beach to Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico. They will return Friday. Meanwhile, we have a car for the week. This is handy as I need to pick up a few bulky items before we pull out of here.

Sunday, I posted about visiting Jim Birditt’s dad, Lee. When we were young, Lee Birditt was one of the most feared dads in the neighborhood. We viewed him as being humorless and stern. But that was our perception as kids. If he was humorless and stern back then, he’s really mellowed with time. While we visited, he laughed and joked about some of the things Jim and the rest of us did when we were young. It was fun telling stories of days gone by. Donna always says that I’m a storyteller. I’ll tell a short one about an adventure Jim and I had.

In February 1976, Jim and I decided we should go and see the Grand Canyon. We thought we could hitch hike there with backpacks and sleeping bags. A week would be enough time to travel there and back again from San Diego.

On our return trip, we hitched a ride with a guy in an old sedan. He also had a large dog. We traveled west across Mohave County on Route 66. I don’t remember much about the guy’s car, other than it began to run poorly. It was losing power and started overheating. He nursed it along until we came to a small town called Peach Springs, Arizona.

He stopped at a gas station there and went inside to inquire about repairs. Jim and I were discussing our options when the guy returned. He said, “I’m with you guys now. I just sold this heap to guy in the station.” What? He was planning to hitchhike west with us? The chances of someone stopping for three guys and a large dog were slim and none.

It was late afternoon when we walked to the street corner and stuck our thumbs out. A couple of blocks away, we could see a baseball game was being played at a field. There was a noisy crowd in the bleachers. Peach Springs is located on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. I think we were the only white people on the street.

Just before sunset, a tribal police officer stopped at the curb. He got out and told us the ball game would be over soon. He didn’t think it would be a good idea for us to be on the street after dark. He suggested we get off the street and take a motel room for the night. We took his advice and pooled our money for a room.

Since Jim and I had sleeping bags, we told the guy he could have the bed and we would sleep on the floor. I was up at sunrise the next morning. I quietly woke Jim up. We grabbed our stuff and slipped out the door.

We walked a few blocks down to the edge of town and started hitchhiking. There wasn’t much traffic. A car would drive by every five minutes or so. I was worried about the guy waking up and joining us with his dog. A blue Ford Econoline van with New York plates approached. I held out my thumb as he drove on past and disappeared into the desert.

A few minutes later, the van returned. He made a U-turn in the road and told us he could take us as far as Barstow, California. We climbed in. I thanked him for coming back and giving us a ride. He said, “I don’t usually pick up hitch hikers…but I got to thinking, I bet they have pot.”

And that’s how we made it out of Peach Springs, Arizona.

We’re having another bout of summer-like weather with the temperature in the upper 70s. The forecast calls for cooler temperature and the possibility of rain by Thursday. Today, I’ll take care of a few errands while I have a car available. But I won’t be picking up any hitchhikers.

*Just so you know, if you decide to purchase one these through the Amazon link in this post, I’ll earn a small commission. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!

No Chargers

Yesterday, while Donna was at her exercise class, Carole Sue Bringas picked me up at the RV park around noon. We drove to our old neighborhood and visited Lee Birditt. Lee is Jim’s dad. He’s in his 80s now. Jim and I used to travel to Montana during hunting season and hunt with Lee and Bob McBride there. Bob had a cabin in prime elk hunting country, north of White Sulphur Springs.

Lee’s wife, Betty, passed away last month after suffering a sudden stroke. I think they had been married for more than 60 years. Betty would join our hunting party some times. She wasn’t a hunter, but she would cook and take care of us. I’m sure Lee misses her greatly. Carole Sue was Betty’s friend. She would check in and talk to her on the phone.

We had a nice time telling stories about the times we spent together in Montana. Lee filled us in on how he and Bob met. We chatted for over an hour. It was nice to see Lee again, especially to see that he is well and doing okay all things considered.

After our visit with Lee, Carole took me to the Bay Park Fish Company for lunch. We had fish tacos made with grilled halibut. They were excellent. The corn tortillas were soft, but firm and didn’t fall apart. The potions were large and the sauce was perfect.

Next to the restaurant is Siesel’s Market. We took a look inside. It’s an old-fashioned meat counter and fish monger. There are aisles with shelves full of spices. They had fresh-baked bread and fresh apple pie from the Julian Bakery. I’ll have to bring Donna here. She will love this place.

After Carole dropped me off, my daughter Shauna phoned me. She’d just finished her last final exam of the semester. She’s in her second year of law school at Cal Western. The finals were tough and she put in long hours studying the past few weeks.

Last week, she was offered a summer intern position at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regional office in San Francisco. This would be an excellent opportunity for her, but she didn’t accept right away. She was hoping to get an offer from the SEC headquarters in Washington, D.C. The offer from D.C. came on Thursday. So, at the end of May, she will move to D.C. for a 10-week job as an intern at the SEC. This is a real feather in her cap. She will make valuable contacts there.

Last evening, Donna and I drove Sheila’s car over to Sardina’s Italian Restaurant and Bar on Old Morena Boulevard. The guys I meet up with at Offshore Tavern and Dan Diego’s told me we should try Sardina’s. The restaurant has been there for 40 years, but I never ate there before. We ordered from the happy hour menu. The portions were much larger than we expected and the food was great! This place will definitely be on our favorites list from now on. The small antipasto salad was so big, Donna brought three-quarters of it home. This will be lunch for her today.

Since the Chargers played on Thursday night, they have the weekend off. There will be plenty of NFL action though. I’ll be watching and hoping I can win the football pool.