Monthly Archives: November 2015

Too Much, Too Soon

Donna rode her bicycle to her sister’s house on Saturday. Sheila was out of town skiing in Park City, Utah and left her car keys for us. Donna and I mapped out a route for her to ride that would keep her mostly on bike paths or roads with bike lanes. She planned to ride the old Sea World Drive path to the Sunset Cliffs Boulevard bridge, then follow Nimitz to Chatsworth (map).

She ended up crossing on the wrong bridge – she took the West Mission Bay bridge to the intersection of Midway and Sports Arena Boulevard. It was a good thing we looked at the map together before she went. Once she realized her mistake, she knew what to do to get to Sheila’s house. We had already discussed a few alternatives before deciding on what we thought would be the safest route. She rode to Rosecrans Street and then cut through a neighborhood on Evergreen. This worked out fine and she made it to Sheila’s house in about 45 minutes.

When she came back to Mission Bay RV Resort with the car – she left her bike in Sheila’s garage – we went shopping. We drove over to CVS in Pacific Beach to pick up a few things. While I was there, Donna walked one block west to Trader Joe’s. When I was done at CVS, I drove over and parked in front of Trader Joe’s and walked to Petsmart to pick up cat food for Ozark. After I dropped it off in the car, I went into Trader Joe’s and found Donna at the checkout counter. Very efficient.

We were considering going over to Sardina’s for happy hour – also my last chance to hand in my football picks for the week –  but when we got into the car and I began driving home, I realized that I had overworked my hand. It was sore and I wasn’t feeling too good. After unloading our groceries, I hung out at the coach while Donna went up to the La Jolla Village Square to shop for shoes. She also went to Cost Plus World Market and bought tomolives and blue cheese stuffed olives for me – my favorite martini garnishes. Then she picked up some sushi to go.

On Sunday morning my hand was stiff and sore. I think I was trying to do too much with it. After I removed the bandages on Friday, I did passive range-of-motion stretches. I did more on Saturday plus carried bags of groceries. I decided to rest it as much as possible on Sunday. It was a good excuse for me to hang out and watch football.

The RV park was full of motion Sunday morning as all of the holiday weekend crowd packed up. There was a steady stream of RVs exiting the park. By noon, the park went from nearly full occupancy to maybe 30% occupied. It was a beautiful day out with the temperature in the upper 60s and clear blue skies. I managed to get out and walk a few laps of the park to take in some fresh air and get a little exercise. Donna went for long walk-run in the direction of Mission Beach.

Beautiful afternoon at Mission Bay looking west from the RV park

Beautiful afternoon at Mission Bay looking west from the RV park

There were good football games on TV all day. The Chargers ended their losing streak by knocking off Jacksonville in the morning. Then I watched a thrilling game in Seattle where they prevailed against Pittsburgh. I also toggled back and forth to the game in San Francisco where the Arizona Cardinals won. There were so many controversial calls in all of the games – I think the NFL needs to take a look at simplifying their rule book. Before the final game of the day in Denver where the New England Patriots lost their undefeated status, I opened a special brew to celebrate the Chargers win.

While we were in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Donna and I visited the Duel Belgian Style Brewery and Taproom. They had outstanding Belgian inspired beers there. I bought a bottle of their Cezanne Magnifique which they describe as a barrel-aged imperial saison. Barrel-aged implies hints of whiskey while imperial always means high gravity – high alcohol content. Saison is a style of ale that is sometimes called farmhouse ale and is usually pale in color and spiced with coriander or zest.

Duel Cezanne Magnifique

Duel Cezanne Magnifique

The forward whiskey flavor of this ale dominated the palate. I wondered why they called it a saison, other than the color. At 10.5% ABV, it was certainly “imperial.” As it warmed slightly, I began to taste more of the spice flavors that lingered. This is a complex and tasty brew with low carbonation. I think it may  be the most expensive ale I’ve ever bought at nine dollars for a 12-ounce bottle.

Today Donna plans to go to Ocean Beach for pickleball at the recreation center. I’ll pass and rest my hand. I have a follow-up with Dr. Leek a week from Wednesday. Once he removes the stitches, I’m hoping to get back to pickleball. Meanwhile we’re making plans to have guests next Saturday for a barbeque. Hans and Lisa (Metamorphosis Road) will visit us here at Mission Bay RV Resort Saturday afternoon. They are currently at the Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve and will be there for a few more weeks.


A Windshield Story

I spent most of Thursday watching NFL football. Mission Bay RV Resort had a steady influx of RVers Wednesday afternoon and more came in for the long holiday weekend on Thursday. There was a large group of people from four or more sites having their Thanksgiving feast at tables set up in the site across from us. They must have been locals as several carloads of people joined them.

Weather-wise, it was an iffy day to dine in the open air. They had their meal early and by the time it started raining around 3:30pm, they had most of their stuff put away. We planned to have Thanksgiving dinner at Donna’s sister Sheila’s house. Her friend, Dr. Jeff Sandler, picked us up on his way from La Jolla at 4pm. We had an enjoyable evening with much conversation and good food. Jeff dropped us off at home around 9pm. I didn’t take any photos – I don’t know why – maybe because I saw so many of the same looking shots on Facebook all day.

Donna bought a bottle of Hangar 24 IPA called Betty for me. Hangar 24 is a brewery located in Redlands, California up in Riverside County. Their Betty IPA is 6.8% ABV with 68 International Bittering Units (IBUs).

Hangar 24 Betty IPA

Hangar 24 Betty IPA

I enjoyed the bottle of Betty before going to bed. It’s a well-balanced west coast style IPA.

On Friday morning, I got the ladder out from under the coach first thing and removed the front windshield cover. I had an appointment with Pro+Tech to have new windshield glass installed.


Windshield cover off - the crack doesn't show

Windshield cover off – the crack doesn’t show in this photo

The driver’s side windshield was cracked all the way from the bottom up to the top. Our insurance company, Allied, set us up for glass replacement through a company called Duncan Systems. Duncan Systems arranged to have both sides of our two-piece windshield replaced and sent the glass to Pro+Tech. The guys from Pro+Tech, Dan Oglesby and his son Gabriel (it’s a family run operation), arrived around 9am. They had the new glass in a rack in the back of their truck.

Our new glass has arrived

Our new glass has arrived

We had a few rain showers earlier and I was a little concerned about rain coming down while they were working. Dan said he would do one side at a time to minimize the amount of open area while the glass was out. He said he expected the job to take about three and half hours. We put Ozark the cat into her crate while they were working.

They didn’t waste any time and set to work. Our windshield glass is bonded to the window frame with a urethane adhesive. Some windshields are set in rubber moldings. Bonded windshields took over the auto industry in the 1990s. They started by cutting the urethane with special knives – one with a blade folded at a 90-degree angle to reach behind the glass to cut through the adhesive.

Once they had the old glass out, they spent a lot of time cleaning the frame and prepping it for the new adhesive and glass. Dan told me the windshield bonding had failed on three of the four sides of the old passenger-side glass. The windshield was only held in by the adhesive on the right pillar. He showed me where the adhesive had separated from the glass – you could see the dust intrusion. He said the glass probably wasn’t properly prepped. Some urethane adhesives require a primer to adhere to glass. He figured insufficient primer or dirty glass caused the separation. I’m glad I opted to have both sides replaced. I’ve read stories of people having the windshield glass pop out while leveling the coach. We were probably heading for a windshield story.

Once they had the frame cleaned and primed, he was ready to put the new glass in.

Windshield frame cleaned, primed and bead of urethane applied

Old windshield out, frame ready for prep work

Lifting the new glass into the frame

Lifting the new glass into the frame

Once he lifted the new glass in place, he used rubber shims on the bottom edge of the glass to center it in the opening. He slapped the glass with an open palm to settle it in the adhesive and work any air bubbles out. Then he carefully masked the body around the glass with painter’s tape. The next step was filling in the void between the glass and body with more urethane. The urethane adhesive he used is a primerless product from Dow Chemical.

Final steps on the driver's side - urethane filler about to be put in

Final steps on the driver’s side – urethane filler about to be put in

Ten tubes of urethane were needed for the job

Ten tubes of urethane were needed for the job

I watched most of the work performed and I’m satisfied that a good job was done. Dan was meticulous throughout each step of the process. If you need mobile auto or RV glass in San Diego, I highly recommend Pro+Tech.

I waited two hours before I reinstalled the windshield cover. Dan said the windshield would set well enough to drive after two hours, but 24 hours is better and the urethane really takes about a week to fully cure. We won’t be moving for another 10 days, so it should be fully hardened by then.

Around 4pm, I removed the dressing from my hand. The nurse at the surgery center told me to keep the original dressing on until Friday afternoon, then I could remove it – just keep it dry and cover with a band aid. The incision hadn’t closed up as much as I thought it would. I haven’t had to take any pain meds since noon on Thursday, but my hand is still swollen.

Incision site on my right hand

Incision site on my right hand

Friday evening I grilled chicken thighs on the Traeger. I know it seems strange to have grilled chicken the day after Thanksgiving. Sheila sent us home with turkey and assorted leftovers, but we didn’t have any bread and decided to save the turkey for sandwiches that we can make today.

We had a couple of passing showers in the afternoon before things dried out. It was a cool 60 degrees here yesterday. Today should be dry and a little warmer. Temperatures will continue to warm throughout the coming week and we should be having highs around 70.

Today's forecast - we're under the sun where it shows 65

Today’s forecast – we’re under the sun where it shows 65

Donna plans to ride her bike to Sheila’s house to check on her cat and pick up her car. Sheila is off skiing in Park City, Utah for the weekend. We can get some shopping done today and return the car tomorrow.


Nothing to Eat or Drink

Thank you for all the support before, during and after yesterday’s medical procedure. On Monday evening, I received a call from the Mission Valley Heights Surgical Center telling me my surgery was delayed until 4pm Tuesday. This meant I was to arrive at 2:30 to begin preparation. It also meant I couldn’t eat or drink anything after 8am.

On Tuesday morning, Donna made a breakfast burrito for me before she went out for a run to Crown Point. Before she left, I told her I saw pictures on Facebook of flooding in the area. The flooding was the result of the King tides. King tides are the highest tides and are predictable as they are the result of astronomical occurrences. Along the San Diego coastline, the high tides Tuesday through Friday this week are expected to be around +7.5′ , the highest tides of the year.

Donna’s route wasn’t flooded and she came home with dry feet. While she was out, the surgery center called me again and asked if I could come in an hour earlier. I was all for it – going all day without food or a sip of water wasn’t going to be easy. I have chronic dryness in my throat due to head and neck radiation (cancer treatment).

I rode the scooter over to Costco to pick up a couple of heavy items before my hand was out of commission. I bought a 40-pack case of bottled water and a 42-pound bag of kitty litter. Costco was a zoo – it always is around the holiday season. I also picked up a bottle of Stone Thunderstruck IPA – it’s their 2015 Anniversary Ale limited release. I had a bottle of it last week and liked it a lot. It’s made exclusively with hops from Australia – Topaz, Galaxy, Ella and Vic Secret hops. The name comes from the song “Thunderstruck” recorded by Australia’s rock band, AC/DC.

Stone Thunderstruck 19th Anniversary Ale

Stone Thunderstruck 19th Anniversary Ale

After I unloaded the goods, Donna and I scootered over to Hertz rent-a-car on Garnet Avenue, a couple of miles from Mission Bay RV Resort. I rented a a Kia which Donna drove to the grocery store while I returned home on the scooter. By the time Donna came home from grocery shopping, I had shaved and showered and was ready to head to the surgery center.

The check-in process at the center was efficient. A little past 2pm, I was taken to the preparation area and had an IV started. I needed the hydration – I hadn’t had anything to drink since 8am. I met the anesthesiologist, Dr. Jones – he wasn’t the same one I had here last year. He reviewed my previous surgery and said he wanted to go lighter on the sedation. He thought I would be fine and I would be able to recover and leave sooner with just propofol for sedation and a local anesthetic to block the nerves in my hand. Last time I had a propofol IV cocktail that included valium.

After a short discussion with Dr. Leek, I was taken back to the operating room. Once everything was set up, Dr. Jones turned up the propofol and I was out for a few minutes. While I was sleeping, they injected the nerve block in my hand. I didn’t feel a thing. Then he dialed the propofol back just enough for me to be conscious but still on the edge of dreamland. I was able to hear Dr. Leek and respond when he told me to bend my finger or make a fist. It was a weird sensation to be aware but not really connected while he was working on my hand. He found the flexor tendon on my middle finger was herniated and a cyst had formed. No wonder my finger would get stuck closed. This made it a little bigger deal than the usual inflammation associated with trigger finger. I definitely made the right decision to have surgery versus getting another cortisone injection.

After he closed the incision, I was wheeled into the recovery room and had my vitals monitored. I finally had a glass of water. I was ready to leave about 40 minutes later.

My hand will stay wrapped and be unusable for a few days

My hand will stay wrapped and be unusable for a few days

We drove home and were back by 4:30pm. After dinner, the numbness in my hand was wearing off. I took percocet (oxycodone) to manage the pain. I expected the percocet to help me sleep through the night. That didn’t happen. I barely slept and had a fitful night.

Rain came around midnight and it rained off and on all night. The wind picked up around 2am. The wind, rain and King tide have flooded a few areas. I wish I was up to getting out and shooting a few photos, but I think I’ll be taking it easy today.

The day before Thanksgiving, I want to say “thanks again” to all who wished me well yesterday. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving with friends, family or wherever you may be.

Awesome Sauce

Donna started her Sunday morning with a bike ride around Fiesta Island. I did my usual Sunday ritual hanging at the coach and watching NFL football. I suffered through another Charger loss. A season that started with such promise and high expectations has fallen apart. The only NFL team with more starters out due to injuries than the Chargers are the Baltimore Ravens and their season isn’t panning out either.

At the farmers’ market on Saturday, I bought two containers of Bitchin’ Sauce to have with chips while I watched football. When I first came to San Diego in 1969, I heard the term bitchin’. It confused me. I thought it meant bitching – but it was a slang term mostly used by surfers to mean cool or really good. At the farmers’ market, we sampled a few flavors of Bitchin’ Sauce and it was…well, it was bitchin’. I bought the chipotle and also a cilantro-chili.

Chipotle Bitchin' Sauce

Chipotle Bitchin’ Sauce

Cilantro-chili Bitchin' Sauce

Cilantro-chili Bitchin’ Sauce

It makes a great dip for chips or it can be spread on crackers or bread. The base for this dip is ground almonds.

We also bought fresh sausage at the farmers’ market. We cooked as suggested by the guy selling them. Donna put the three linked sausages in a pan of cold water and brought it to a boil. Once it boiled, she turned the heat off. Eight minutes later, I put the sausage links on the grill.

Gouda cheese stuffed sausage

Smoked gouda cheese-stuffed sausage

The sausage was stuffed with smoked gouda cheese. The boiling water actually cooked the sausage and toughened the casing. Putting it on the grill added grill marks and enhanced the flavor of the casing. Donna served the sausages over apples and onions sauteed in butter and fresh thyme with leftover Moroccan quinoa on the side.

Sausage over sauteed onions and apple slices with Morroccan quinoa on the side

Sausage over sauteed onions and apple slices with Moroccan quinoa on the side

The sausage was very tasty – we’ll buy it again and cook it the same way.

Today we plan to get in a round of pickleball – they have open pickleball at the Ocean Beach Recreation Center on Mondays (map). I won’t be able to play again for awhile. Tomorrow I’ll have surgery to release the trigger finger condition on my right hand.

The forecast calls for nice weather today and tomorrow – mid to upper 70s. A cold front will move in on Wednesday and the expected high temperature will be in the low 60s for the next several days with a chance of rain. That will be a good time for me to recover. I may not post again for a few days.


Seaport Village

Donna and I played pickleball at the Pacific Beach Recreation Center (PBRC) on Thursday afternoon. I won’t be able to play again for a few weeks. PBRC has pickleball on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Next Tuesday I’ll be at the Mission Valley Surgery Center to have a minor procedure on my right hand. I developed another trigger finger on the middle (long) finger of my right hand. It’s painful and my finger gets stuck when I close my fist. It flared up at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta where I did a lot of heavy lifting and pulling on ropes. This is the third finger to do this. I had surgery on my left middle finger in 2002, then I had surgery on my right ring finger last year.

On Friday morning, Donna went for a bike ride with her friend Johanna. They rode up the Rose Canyon bike path and up Gilman Drive to Torrey Pines (map). I’ve biked that route – it’s a nice ride. They stopped for breakfast at The Farmer and The Seahorse, a new restaurant with a nice outdoor patio. They were surprised to find an Airstream indoors that is kitted out as a private meeting room.

I mentioned before that our DHS Mobile Theatre amplifier blew. I did some research, but all I could find was a used replacement on eBay that was being sold “as is” with no guarantee it even worked. I called the original supplier, RiverPark, to see if they had any suggestions for replacing it. They didn’t show any availability online, but I thought they might know of a suitable alternative.

When I talked to their technical support guy, he told me they had a replacement unit in stock! I ordered the new unit and it arrived Friday night.

DHS Mobile Theatre System amp

DHS Mobile Theatre System amp

I installed the unit Saturday morning and we have five-channel surround sound again.

The weather here has been unbeatable – clear skies with the temperature near 80 degrees in the afternoon. The nights cool quickly and the temperature drops to the upper 50s overnight.

Sunset over Mission Bay from the west end of the RV park

Sunset over Mission Bay from the west end of the RV park

Saturday was the warmest day – it reached the upper 80s. Donna and I went out on the scooter in the late morning and rode to Seaport Village. Seaport Village is a touristy area on the waterfront west of downtown San Diego. It’s filled with quirky shops and restaurants. On Saturdays, they have an open air fish market at the Tuna Harbor pier. Local fisherman sell their fresh catch. We walked along the pier to see what was on offer.

Donna at the Tuna Pier

Donna at Tuna Harbor

They had fresh dorado, big eye tuna, blue fin tuna, live black cod and a long nose skate. We also saw a stand with live sea urchins. They prepared the live urchins and made sushi to order.

Big eye tune

Big eye tuna

Black cod and long nose skate

Black cod and long nose skate

Live sea urchins

Live sea urchins

We didn’t buy any fish but we may in the future. We’ll have to see if we can come up with a method of cooking a whole fish – that’s how they sell them there.

The walk along the pier with the breeze coming off San Diego Bay was refreshing. Boats passed by and I was wishing I was out on one of them.

Boats passing by the pier

Boats passing by the pier

Off in the distance, we saw tents set up on the south end of Seaport Village. It was the San Diego Wine and Food Festival. We took a walk down there but decided not to buy tickets. Wine on a hot afternoon didn’t sound appealing.

Wine and Food Festival in the distance

Wine and Food Festival in the distance – Coronado Bridge on the right

As we walked back through Seaport Village, we looked in some of the shops. We also passed a carousel with kids riding the horses.

This kid doesn't look as happy as his mother

This kid doesn’t look as happy as his mother

We scootered over to Cedar Street for the Little Italy farmers’ market. We found a stand selling hard (dry) sausage and couldn’t resist the sopressata. They also had raw sausage that we might cook today – we bought a three-pack of smoked gouda sausage. The guy selling it recommended cooking it by placing the sausage in a pot of water – you can add beer or seasoning and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, turn the heat off and let it sit for seven or eight minutes. Then grill the sausage. I’m going to try his method.

After we left the farmers’ market, we dropped off the sausages at home and rode to the Pacific Beach boardwalk. It was like a summer day – warm and sunny and lots of people on the beach. We wanted to stop for a cold one, but all of the places along the boardwalk were crowded. We ended up stopping at Amplified Ale Works a block off the boardwalk. We took a seat at their patio, but it was too warm to sit in the direct sun, so we headed home.

Last night, I prepared chicken leg quarters – I used a rub I recently ordered from Amazon called Lambert’s Sweet Rub-O-Mine.

Dry rubbed chicken quarters on the Traeger

Dry rubbed chicken quarters on the Traeger

Our friends Bud and Mona joined us for dinner. We dined outside at the picnic table. It was dark by then, but Mona is allergic to cats, so dining inside with Ozark wasn’t an option. The Lambert’s rub is a keeper – sweet and salty with a kick of chili pepper.

Dry rubbed chicken with Morroccan quinoa and green beans

Dry rubbed chicken with Moroccan quinoa and green beans

We sat outside until about 9pm before we walked Bud and Mona out to their car. The air was still and the bay was like glass. I shot a photo of lights from houses on the mesa to the east reflected on the black, glassy water.


Today we expect another sunny day with the temperature reaching 80 degrees. The forecast calls for a cooling trend starting on Wednesday. I’ll be watching football today.


*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to make a purchase, you pay the same price as usual and  I’ll earn a few pennies for the referral. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!


Kramer’s Best

Donna met a new friend, Johanna, playing pickleball at the Pacific Beach Recreation Center (PBRC). They’re planning to ride their bicycles up to Torrey Pines on Friday. So fixing her bicycle became a priority – the shifter cable for the rear derailleur broke on her last ride.

Donna had an appointment for her annual check up Wednesday morning so I scootered her up to Washington Street. After her appointment, we went to Lanna Thai on Mission Bay Drive (map) for lunch. Pad Thai is a favorite for both Donna and me – they make a good Pad Thai there.

After lunch, I got to work on Donna’s bike. I set up my Cycle Pro bike stand outside the cargo trailer and mounted Donna’s bike on it. Her bike is equipped with Shimano Ultegra brakes and derailleurs. The brake lever applies the brakes when you pull the lever toward the handlebar. If you push the lever toward the center of the bike, it works as a shifter. It does this by applying tension or releasing tension on cable through a ratcheting drum mechanism inside the brake lever hood.

New shift cable

New shift cable

I removed the old cable and threaded the new cable in place. I cut the cable to size, allowing a few spare inches. Then I tried the shifter. Oops! It didn’t work. I looked at the drum again and realized the cable wasn’t connected to the drum properly. In fact, the drum was stuck and wouldn’t return to the spring-loaded rest position so I could thread the cable through the drum properly.

I had to remove the new cable and start over. After poking and prodding around, I finally saw a few strands of wire. Part of the old cable was stuck in the drum, wedging it in place. This was why the drum wouldn’t return to the spring-loaded rest position. I spent the next 20 minutes trying to get the piece of stuck cable out. I was eventually able to grip the barely visible wire strands with a small hemostat and work it free. Once the old cable end was out, the drum rotated from the internal spring pressure to the stop. Now I could thread the cable through the drum and route it back to the derailleur.

I was glad I left a few extra inches of cable when I cut it so I had something to work with as I tensioned the cable and adjusted the shifter. Donna’s bike is back in business. The 15 to 20 minute job took me over an hour!

With that job done, we scootered over to the new Trader Joe’s location on Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach, one block west of Vons. The new store is brighter and airier than the old location was.

After shopping at Trader Joe’s, I was ready for a cold one and went to the Offshore Tavern and Grill. I was hoping to run into Butch there. Butch won the football pool last week. Traditionally, the winner of the pool buys a round for the other pool entrants – usually on Tuesday night. Butch didn’t show up Tuesday and he wasn’t there Wednesday either. I hope he’s okay.

Around 6pm, UPS delivered a package. It was something I needed for another project. Somewhere on the web I read about a wood refinishing product – I don’t remember where I heard about it or the exact story I read. The gist of it was this – a couple had a motorhome and the cabinets were in need of refinishing. They had a friend who was a cabinet maker. They invited him over to look at their cabinets. The proposed a trade. They would give him stereo equipment worth several hundred dollars if he would repair the finish on their cabinets. He agreed to the barter.

Later, he came over and went to work. He spent all of half an hour wiping the cabinets with a special product, then rubbing them dry with a cloth. The people were amazed – the cabinets looked like new. The magic product is called Kramer’s Best Antique Improver.

Kramer's Best Antique Improver

Kramer’s Best Antique Improver

We have a cabinet that had something spilled on it and I thought the finish was ruined. I don’t remember how it happened, but I wanted to repair it. The Kramer’s product isn’t cheap, but I thought it was worth a try so I ordered it online. This morning, I wiped the damaged wood on the cabinet door with Kramer’s on a square of cotton cloth from an old T-shirt Donna’s been after me to quit wearing. After I applied the Kramer’s, I used a fresh, clean cotton cloth and rubbed it dry. I didn’t spend more than five minutes on it. Here are the results:

Damaged finish on wood cabinet door

Damaged finish on wood cabinet door

Rub on, rub off with Kramer's and it's job done

Rub on, rub off with Kramer’s and it’s job done

I don’t have any affiliation with Kramer’s in any way. But this stuff is amazing and I wanted to share the results. I’ll tackle our dining table and chairs next and touch up a few other cabinets.

The weather continues to be agreeable. We should see mid to upper 70s today and through the weekend. Overnight lows have been in the 50s – perfect sleeping weather. I need to scooter over to Costco this morning, then Donna and I will go to the PBRC for more pickleball action this afternoon.


*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to make a purchase, you pay the same price as usual and  I’ll earn a few pennies for the referral. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!


30 Degrees West

Donna came home from her trip to LA for the 5K run at Universal Studios earlier than I expected. She arrived here at Mission Bay RV Resort by 1pm Sunday. I had football on TV – I was able to get local broadcast channels but I still couldn’t access ESPN and a few other channels.

In my last post, I mentioned rain Sunday morning. It remained cloudy all day with a few light showers. In the afternoon, the wind started picking up as an area of low pressure developed over the desert. The onshore flow of wind from the Pacific was blowing east at about 20 mph. I saw a weather alert for high winds – gusts up to 40mph – from 6pm through 10am Monday morning.

I was surprised to see a couple of RVs pulling out of the park around 4pm. The normal checkout time is noon. I mentioned it to Donna and she thought maybe they arranged a late checkout to watch NFL football. I was hoping they had a short drive – I wouldn’t want to be on the road with wind gusts of 40 mph in a high-profile vehicle.

Around that time, a technician from DISH network came to check out our reception problem. He asked me what kind of antenna I had. When I told him it was a Winegard, he wondered aloud why he was sent. They only work on their (DISH) antennas, not private-branded equipment. He had a sophisticated compass device that could locate the various DISH satellites. When I told him I was only receiving 110 – not 119 or 129 – he used his equipment to locate the satellites.

The problem turned out to be simple. I thought we were oriented facing north with the back of our coach at 180 degrees – due south. His equipment showed us facing 330 degrees north-northwest with the rear of the coach at 150 degrees south-southeast. Satellite 110 is directly behind our coach with a clear line of sight, but 119 and 129 are west of there. We have a tree on the west side of the coach and tree branches were blocking the satellite signal. He also showed me that the satellites were much higher in the sky than I thought – about 53 degrees up from the horizon.

I knew a clear line of sight to the satellites was required. I just didn’t realize our orientation put two of the satellites off to our left rear. There wasn’t much I could do about it by then. Our Winegard antenna is permanently mounted on the roof and automatically locates the satellites – it’s not like I could move the antenna or point it manually to try to find a signal.

On Sunday night, we had pizza delivered from Mountain Mike’s. They are known for their outstanding pepperoni made in-house. This was the most expensive pizza I’ve ever had delivered at $30 for a 14″ pie. Although it was good pizza, I don’t think it was worth $30 plus tip for the driver.

Expensive pizza

Expensive pizza

The wind blew hard overnight. I woke up several times when the coach was rocked by gusts. The wind continued to blow throughout Monday morning. Tree branches and leaves littered the park. The cover for the Traeger grill blew off and was under the picnic table but we didn’t lose anything.

I talked to the security supervisor, Thomas, and asked him if he thought the park would trim the tree branches blocking our satellite antenna. He put in a call to have a groundskeeper come over and take a look. While I was talking to him, a guy came and asked if anyone found a 10′ x 15′ awning mat. His had blown away in the night and he couldn’t find it.

A couple of guys came over to look at the tree next to our coach. After a bit of discussion, they decided to get management approval before they tried to do anything about the branches. When they came back, they said they could remove the branches but I would have to move to coach first. They apologized and said they knew it was a pain to disconnect everything and make the coach road ready just so I could move it 50 feet away and back again. I moved the coach and they had the branches cut in about five minutes.

I backed the coach into our site – this time I positioned it about a foot further to the right of the tree to allow more clearance. Once I had everything set up, I reset the DISH receiver. Now I have satellites 110 and 119, but not 129. This is okay – I can tune in Monday Night Football on ESPN with the two satellites I’m receiving now. In the future, I’ll avoid site 135 when we’re at Mission Bay RV Resort.

Who knew the tree to the left of our coach was partially blocking the signal

Who knew the tree next to our coach was partially blocking the signal?

The wind died down Monday afternoon. Donna and I rode the scooter to Pacific Beach. I dropped Donna off at Vons supermarket to grocery shop while I went to the UPS store to ship the old receiver back to DISH. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I’ve already installed, programmed and activated the replacement so all I can do is return the old one.

When I went back to Vons to meet up with Donna I found a beer I hadn’t seen before – Stone Ruination 2.0. I’ve always liked Ruination, but what is 2.0 all about? I bought a bottle to find out. It seems Stone thought Ruination needed to be updated. It was originally released in 2002 – before the real boom in craft beer and the India Pale Ale (IPA) style became so popular.

Ruination 2.0

Ruination 2.0

I drank the Ruination 2.0 while watching Monday Night Football. In my opinion, it isn’t an improvement over the original. I’m thinking maybe Stone hasn’t been able to get the same type of hops used in the original Ruination, so they developed 2.0 and are calling it an update. Marketing – who knows for sure?

I want to give a shout-out to our friend and fellow nomadic RVer, Jeff Spencer (RollingRecess). Jeff competed in the Ironman event in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday in the men’s 55-59 age group. He finished with a personal best overall time of 11:46:06 – 12th in his division. He was first in his division in the swim and won $100 for that. His time for the 2.4 mile swim was 57:11. He completed the 112-mile bicycle portion with a time of 5:59:30 and ran the 26.2-mile marathon in 4:34:34 – he picked up the pace over the last two miles to set his personal overall best time. Jeff Spencer – you are an Ironman!

Today we have fine weather – wind at five to 10 miles per hour. The temperature should reach 70 degrees after a blustery and cool high of 61 degrees yesterday. The extended forecast calls for temperatures reaching the mid to high 70s over the next several days. We’ll be off to play pickleball at the Pacific Beach Recreation Center this afternoon.

Customer Service

In a previous post, I mentioned a few gremlins we encountered after setting up at Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego. One of the issues was reception on my DISH satellite receiver. Rather than give a blow-by-blow account of the past few days, I want to talk about customer service.

When I worked with the DISH technical support folks through online chat last Monday, after an hour of diagnostic work (most of which I had already performed before contacting DISH and was going through for a second or third time), the conclusion was that I needed a new receiver. I was told one would ship to me in a few days. I gave them shipping information – I told them I was in an RV park, not at my billing address.

Later I received an e-mail telling me the order was placed for a new receiver and it instructed me to confirm the shipping address – if there were any discrepancies, it gave a number for me to call. The shipping address was incomplete – it didn’t have my site number, just the park address. This doesn’t work here – or at most RV parks. They won’t accept a UPS or FedEx shipment for you unless it has your site number. I called DISH immediately at the number they provided. The customer service rep said she updated the info and all was set.

The e-mail also contained a link with instructions. It said that once I received the equipment, I needed to pack my old unit in the box the replacement came in and peel off the shipping label to reveal a return label underneath. Okay, so far so good.

On Saturday morning, while Donna was getting ready to take the Amtrak to Los Angeles with her sister for the 5k run at Universal Studios, I realized I didn’t get an e-mail with tracking information from DISH and I didn’t have my replacement receiver. I looked at the previous e-mail again – this time I read a line at the bottom that said the new unit would ship when they received the old equipment. What?! This contradicts the instructions from the link and I didn’t have a shipping label or address to ship the old one back! I called DISH customer service.

When I told the guy at customer service what had happened, he looked up my account information. He said the receiver was shipped but wasn’t able to be delivered due to an incomplete address! I told him I had called and updated the info as instructed in the e-mail. He gave me the tracking number and I looked it up, he was right – they tried to deliver on November 11th. He said that the previous customer service representative had updated the address in their system but that didn’t update UPS – the system is automated and once the order is placed, they can’t change the shipping information.

This didn’t make sense – why would they send me an e-mail instructing me to confirm the shipping address and provide a phone number to call if there were any discrepancies if they can’t update shipping info? I bit my tongue and just asked him what I needed to do to get the replacement. He said, “You need to contact UPS and find out where it is.” I told him I was on the UPS site but didn’t see a phone number. He was ready to hand the problem off – he immediately gave me the phone number for UPS customer service. I managed to persuade him to take one week’s worth of charges off of my bill since I wasn’t getting the programming I’m paying for.

I called UPS and things got really strange. I gave the lady at UPS customer service my tracking number and told her what was going on. I told her I was in an RV park and they needed the site number. She told me they tried to deliver last Wednesday but due to an incomplete address, the package was at the UPS Customer Center on Ronson Road (map). This is six or seven miles away from the RV park. I asked why I wasn’t contacted about the address problem. She told me the notes indicated that a postcard was sent. What? I was thinking okay, you have an incomplete address that you can’t deliver to, where are you sending the postcard? But I held my thoughts.

I asked her how I could get the package. She told me the Customer Center is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm and on Saturday from 10am to 1pm. I said, “Great, so I can go to Kearny Mesa and pick it up.” She said, “I can’t guarantee they’ll give you the package on Saturday.” I said, “Maybe I should call them – do you have their number?” Then she told me, “We don’t give out phone numbers for Customer Centers, they aren’t staffed to take the volume of calls.” Hmmm…a customer center that won’t take calls from customers.

Then she asked me to hold for a moment. When she came back on the line, she said she had updated the address and I should have the package by Tuesday. What?! The package is six or seven miles away, today is Saturday and she is saying I won’t get it until Tuesday. I asked what I would need to do to pick up the package. She told me I would need to go to the Customer Center and give them the tracking number and a photo identification that showed the same name and address as the package. What? I told her again – I’m in an RV park visiting the area, my driver’s license is from another state and doesn’t match the shipping address. She said that was the policy.

I said, “Let me get this straight, you couldn’t deliver because of an incomplete address, you figure sending a postcard to this incomplete address solves the issue, your Customer Center is open on Saturday but you can’t guarantee they’ll give me my package, your Customer Center keeps their phone number secret because they can’t handle the calls, if I wait for delivery, I should have my package by Tuesday – is this right?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “Does this seem reasonable to you?” She said, “I’m just trying to help and explain the policy.” I said, “Thanks for trying to help. I feel like I’m trapped in a comedy skit here. I think I’ll go to the Customer Center and take my chances.”

I rode the scooter over to Kearny Mesa and found the UPS Customer Center. I brought the receipt for my site at Mission Bay RV Resort in case there was an issue with my ID not matching the shipping address. I figured the receipt might be enough documentation for a temporary address. I waited in a short line and then a young woman helped me. I gave her my tracking number – she was pleasant and said, “Just a moment and I’ll get your package.” She returned with the box and asked for my ID. When I gave her a South Dakota driver’s license, she asked if I had a California ID. I told her I was just visiting the area and she said, “Okay, I just need to take some information from your license and have you sign this form.” With that done, I was on my way. A lot of drama for something that was not a big deal.

Incomplete shipping address - label peels off to reveal return label underneath

Incomplete shipping address – label peels off to reveal return label underneath

When I returned home, I connected the new DISH receiver. I spent 40 minutes programming the unit and in the end, I had the same problem – it wasn’t giving me all of the channels I pay for. I went online to chat with DISH customer service again. They had me do all of the steps I just completed all over again. You might recall that I pointed out to the technical support guy last Monday that I was only seeing satellite 110. I pointed this out again and the tech told me I should see 110, 119 and 129 – that’s what I thought. He had me go through a few more attempts and when I still only had 110, he said they would send someone out to check my satellite dish antenna. This is what I suspected would be the culprit. We’ll find out this afternoon.

Having ranted about poor customer service, let me tell you the other side of the story. In our travels this year, we suffered damage to our windshield. The driver’s side windshield is cracked from top to bottom. The passenger side has some stone chips. Last Monday, I called our policy holder, Allied Insurance – part of the Nationwide insurance family – to file a claim. The customer service person was very polite and asked if we had a one-piece or two-piece windshield. I told her it was two-piece. She asked if I wanted one or both sides replaced. I wasn’t sure how to respond. I asked her what the deductible was for both versus one. She told me there was no deductible on the glass replacement and it was up to me if I wanted both replaced. Well yeah, I’ll take both. She then transferred my call to a glass specialist.

I gave them the information they needed and they told me to expect a call back within an hour. I got the call about 30 minutes later from a representative named Flavia who said she would coordinate the replacement. She asked me to read all of the numbers on the lower left side of the windshield. Once I did that, she said she had a match and would order the glass and contact an approved local mobile installer for me – unless I wished to find my own installer. Later she called me again and said the glass was ordered and should arrive in five to seven business days at the installer. After they inspect the glass and are satisfied it wasn’t damaged in shipment, they will make an appointment to come out and install the glass. She then sent me an e-mail with her direct phone number and e-mail in case I had questions or problems. Now that’s what I call customer service.

The weather guessers forecast rain late this afternoon. They almost had it right – I woke to the sound of rain drops falling on the roof this morning. The expected high temperature today is 66 degrees. Cool temperatures should remain until Wednesday when the forecast calls for temperatures in the 70s again.


Cabrillo National Monument

Wednesday was Veterans Day and in honor of the occasion, the National Park Service waived their normal access fees. Donna and I took advantage of this by visiting the Cabrillo National Monument (CNM) in Point Loma (map), which is operated by the National Parks Service and usually charges five dollars per person for day use.

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was a 16th-century explorer. Historians debate whether he was Portuguese or Spanish. On June 27, 1542 he set sail from Navidad, Mexico with a flotilla of three ships – the flagship was a 200-ton galleon called San Salvador, there was a smaller, 100-ton ship called La Victoria and an even smaller 26-oared bergantin called San Miguel. They had provisions for a three-year journey. As they sailed north along the coast of Baja California, they were in uncharted waters. On September 28th, they found what is now San Diego Bay.

The Cabrillo National Monument pays homage to this explorer and also has several points of interest including the old lighthouse which was in operation from 1855 to 1891. It also provides access to hiking trails and tidepools.

I shot a photo of a relief map of the area at the cluster of buildings in the CNM. The lighting was poor and the focus in the photo isn’t great, but it gives an overview of the area that will help put the rest of the photos into context.

Relief map of San Diego Bay and surrounding area

Relief map of San Diego Bay and surrounding area

Donna and I walked to the southern tip of CNM. The weather was breezy and the air was very clear. Looking south, we could see the coastline all the way down along Mexico and the Mexican Coronado Islands – not to be confused with San Diego’s Coronado Island. The Mexican Coronados are three islands – South Coronado, Central Coronado and North Coronado.

The coast of Mexico to the south

The coast of Mexico to the south

Coronado Islands to the southwest

Coronado Islands to the southwest

If you look closely at the picture of the islands, you can see two World War II warplanes that were flying around the area. I think they were Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers.

We walked to the lighthouse and lighthouse keeper’s quarters.

Info about the lighthouse - click to enlarge

Info about the lighthouse – click to enlarge

Old lighthouse and keepers quarters

Old lighthouse and keeper’s quarters

As we walked back down from the lighthouse to the main buildings and statue, I kept stopping to take in the spectacular view and shot a few more pictures.

View toward North Island Naval Air Station

View toward North Island Naval Air Station

The North Island Naval Air Station is part of Naval Base Coronado which is also the home of the odd numbered Navy SEAL teams (1, 3, 5, and 7).

Another view of North Island

Another view of North Island

North Island is on the northernmost end of San Diego’s Coronado Island which isn’t really an island – it’s an isthmus with a narrow strip of land called “The Strand” connecting it to the mainland at Imperial Beach.

Pacific Ocean at the mouth of San Diego Bay - downtown San Diego on the east side of the bay is seen on the left, the strand is on the right of the photo

Pacific Ocean at the mouth of San Diego Bay – downtown San Diego on the east side of the bay is seen on the left, the strand is on the right of the photo

We walked down to the statue of Juan Rodiguez Cabrillo, then took a stroll through the gift shop. On the way, I shot a photo of an interesting sign telling about old Point Loma.

Interesting facts about early days on Point Loma

Interesting facts about early days on Point Loma

Juan Rodiguez Cabrillo

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo

We climbed aboard the scooter and rode down to the tidepool area. I was surprised at the number of people wandering around the tidepools. We were on a rising tide and the pools weren’t too interesting at that point. Low tide is ideal. We saw a large sea lion sunning himself and snoozing on the beach. A park service ranger had put out cones surrounding the area to keep people away from the sea lion. Some people think they’re at a petting zoo or something, but sea lions are wild animals and you need to give them space.

We couldn’t have picked a better day to visit the Cabrillo National Monument. The air was very clear with little haze – it shows more haze in the photos than what we could actually see. The vistas were beautiful and we could clearly see the mountains in east county at least 40 miles away.

On the way home, we saw a Fresh and Easy Market and decided to stop as we haven’t been to one in years. Many of them have closed. Unfortunately, this one is also closing. They had a sign outside that said everything was 60% off the marked price. We found most of the aisles were bare, but Donna found a few bargains.

The rest of the evening was uneventful. Donna went to a meetup of a minimalists group she belongs to. I just hung out at the coach. Today we’re off to the Pacific Beach Recreation Center for an afternoon of pickleball.