Saturday was a low key day. Donna went out for bike ride with our pickleball friend, Johanna. They rode out to Dog Beach on the north side of Ocean beach and back – about an 18-mile ride including a loop around Fiesta Island. I made a run to Keil’s grocery store up on Clairemont Drive (map). I had a few items on my shopping list and while I was there I took a look at the meat counter. To my surprise, I saw a Certified Angus Beef (CAB) USDA Choice grade brisket point cut. I’ve never seen a point cut at the grocery store before. It was well marbled and looked really good. I think I’m becoming obsessed with smoked brisket. I walked away from it.
On Sunday morning, my brisket obsession got the better of me. I rode the scooter back to Keil’s to get the CAB USDA Choice brisket point. I didn’t see it at first and thought someone had scooped it from me. Then I found it behind a stack of tri-tips. I’ll cook it later this week – maybe on New Year’s Day.
Speaking of brisket, we had about a pound of meat left from the Christmas dinner gathering. Donna cubed it and whipped up a pot of homemade chili on Sunday. It was delicious! I spent the day watching NFL football.
The weekend was windy and chilly with the temperatures only reaching the low 60s. This has been a cold start to winter in San Diego. Monday morning dawned with clear skies and no wind. I figured it was time to assemble the quadcopter Donna gave me for Christmas and try it out. I didn’t bother with it all weekend due to the wind.
Some assembly required
I think I’m a fairly handy guy, but assembling the quadcopter was easier said than done. The manual was obviously translated by someone with a rudimentary grasp of the English language. Not only were the words and word order strange, the sequence of the instructions were completely random. The manual left out an important notice – the rotors must be put on the proper shafts. There are two rotors marked “A” that must rotate in clockwise fashion while the other two rotors are marked “B” and must rotate in a counter-clockwise direction. The manufacturer corrected this omission by adding that instruction to the side of the box the quadcopter was packed in. Reading through the manual was almost comical – all I could do was laugh about it and figure out what to do as I went along. Here are a couple of statements verbatim from the manual:
The materials and specification mentioned in this instruction manual or the parts inside this package is for reference only. Our company won’t be responsible for any adaption of the outer package. Nor shall we keep our customers informed in advance. Any information updates or changes, please be subject to our website.
When the quadcopter flies, it should maintain 2-3 meters from user or others, avoiding from crashing into others’ head, face or body when it lands.
The company has the right of final interpretation of this instruction manual statement.
The nomenclature in the manual varied. One line of instruction said to install the stands:
Twist the wide screws to locking the stands as figure (2).
Figure 2 didn’t show much. I didn’t see any stands and when I looked at the exploded drawing of the parts, it became apparent that the stands were called landing legs in the drawing. I found them under the rotors in the packaging. There was a packet of screws – I had to sort out which screws to use for the landing legs and which to use for the blade guards.
I worked it out and the had the quadcopter assembled after about 45 minutes. I charged the batteries for three hours.
Ozark inspecting fully assembled Syma X8W quadcopter
While I was doing this, Donna went for a massage. She was walking back to the coach as I headed out to try my hand at flying the quadcopter. We met before I exited the RV park. She asked me where I was going. I told her I wanted to be away from the RVs while I learned to fly this thing – I wanted open space and I didn’t want to fly into someone’s coach. She suggested the beach area, then said, “No, too close to the water – you should go the grassy area of Mission Bay Park.”
I went to the storage area past our cargo trailer. The lot there was mostly empty and I had a paved surface to lift off from. I have a lot of radio control experience. In the ’90s, I flew radio-controlled airplanes competitively in the International Miniature Aerobatic Club (IMAC). I was a two-time IMAC National Champion. I also piloted radio-controlled power boats in the ’80s. I knew this would be different, but how hard could it be? Modern copters are fairly stable due to electronic gyroscopes. I knew I would have to adjust the trims to get it stabilized. I figured once that was done it shouldn’t be too hard.
I went through the start-up sequence and lifted off. With the ‘copter about 10 feet high I started adjusting the trim. The copter was sliding to the left and moving away from me. It continued to climb as I adjusted the trim. At 20 feet of altitude I cut the power back – it fell like a rock! I powered up as it dropped and it touched down softly and sprang back up in the air. As it climbed it was still moving to the left and away from me. I added right trim and pulled back on the stick as it was heading away. I paid too much attention to the trim and allowed the ‘copter to fly too high. It was unresponsive as I reduced power and tried to get it to come down and fly back toward me.
It was 80-100 feet high. There must have been more wind at that altitude. Instead of sliding to the left, it went to the right. My stick commands didn’t do anything. The ‘copter was completely unresponsive. It headed out over De Anza Cove. I was frantically trying to get it to turn and come back over land when the rotors stopped turning. For some reason, the power shut off. I watched it fall like a rock and hit the water with a plop about 100 yards from shore.
I stood there with my jaw dropped for about a minute, then I sprang into action. I took off my shoes, shirt and pants and ran into the bay in my undershorts. I swam hard. I was within 20 yards of the ‘copter when it sank. I swam until I thought I was at the spot where it went under and dove down. The water was much deeper than I thought and I had to come back to the surface for air. I caught my breath and dove again. This time I was near the bottom but the visibility was only a couple of feet. I surfaced again, breathing hard. I was getting cold. The water was cold and the air temperature was only about 60 degrees.
I resigned myself to the fact the ‘copter was a goner. It seemed like a long swim back to shore. I retrieved my keys from my pants and opened our cargo trailer. I grabbed my clothes and dried myself off in the trailer, shivering all the while. I went commando and dressed in the trailer and walked back to the RV park. Thomas the security guard witnessed the whole thing. He didn’t give me too hard a time about it.
When I came back to the coach and told Donna what happened, she didn’t believe me. She thought I was telling a tall tale. My clothes were dry so she couldn’t see how I could’ve gone into the bay. I pointed to the wet undershorts hanging outside and explained how I undressed before jumping in.
We had plans to meet up for happy hour at Dave and Shannon’s site around 3:30pm, then go over to SD Taproom on Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach. It was nearly 3:30pm by then and I needed a shower. About then it started to rain. Donna exchanged text messages with the group while I showered. The plan had changed – we would skip happy hour in the rain and go directly to the Taproom. Hector and Brenda picked us up and we rode with them to Pacific Beach.
The SD Taproom is a nice pub with a rotating selection of craft beers. We sampled a few and ordered appetizers. Donna and I went for an order of wings and two grilled fish tacos. We split the wings plate and each ate one of the large fish tacos. They had a cask of Belching Beaver Hop Highway Ale brewed with Alpine Brewery Rye IPA (Nelson). This was a delicious collaboration.
After eating, we moved two doors down to the Barrel Republic. Barrel Republic has a unique set-up. They have 44 beers on tap plus about eight wines. You open a tab by giving the bartender a credit card and ID. The bartender gives you a wrist band with an electronic chip. There are several shapes and sizes of glasses on shelves. The taps are electronically controlled. You select a glass, then find the beer you want. Putting your wrist band on a sensor next to the tap activates the tap. You pour your own – as much or as little as you want. The tap measures your pour and you get charged by the ounce. The beers ranged in price from around 55 cents per ounce up to 99 cents per ounce. There’s a small screen over the tap that shows you how much you poured. There’s a limit on how much you can pour for yourself – I think it’s around 32 ounces. When you finish your beer, you leave your glass on the bar and get a fresh glass if you want another beer.
The bar at Barrel Republic – the sign says Freedom to Pour
Electronic taps at Barrel Republic
We sat at a table and told a few stories. It was a hoot. It was the last night at Mission Bay RV Resort for Dave and Shannon and Iain and Kate. They’re heading out to Anza Borrego State Park to boondock in the desert where they will ring in the new year.
Donna, Dave, Hector, Iain and Kate at Barrel Republic
We’re still thinking about extending our stay here. Hector and Brenda will be here for a few more weeks.
We made it home in time to see the overtime win by the Denver Broncos. One week left in the NFL regular season.