Monthly Archives: January 2016

Cradle to Grave in Quartzsite

Friday was our last full day at Golden Village Palms RV Resort in Hemet, California. We started with our usual time on the pickleball courts and played until nearly noon. I spent the afternoon organizing the trailer and packing everything away. It was just about 5pm by the time I loaded the Traeger and scooter and locked the trailer. It was time for a shower and happy hour. Our friends Ron and Marilyn Cross invited us for dinner at their place but we took a rain check until next time.

Donna took her backpack and walked to Marshalls where she returned a couple of items, then walked to Stater Brothers to pick up a few groceries. When she returned and emptied her backpack, Ozark thought the backpack was a nice place for her to explore. She crawled into the backpack and made herself comfortable. We were surprised to see her do that – she doesn’t usually like to get under covers but she was happy to hide in the backpack.

Ozark peeking out of her backpack hideout

Ozark peeking out of her backpack hideout

Our last sunset at Golden Village Palms

Our last sunset at Golden Village Palms

We hoped to make an early getaway Saturday morning but we weren’t ready to hitch the trailer until 10am. A few minutes later we were on the road. I wanted to leave early because high winds were in the forecast for the afternoon. We took CA79 north to Beaumont where we hit I-10 east. The wind picked up but it was a tailwind as we headed east. With the tailwind and downgrade from Banning to the desert floor, we were coasting along at 62mph. We made a stop for fuel in Thousand Palms at the Pilot/Flying J travel center. I probably could’ve waited until we crossed into Arizona to fuel up and save a few bucks, but I don’t like running below a quarter tank. I took on 50 gallons for peace of mind.

East of Indio, I-10 climbs to Chiriaco Summit, then drops back down to the desert. The wind shifted and we had a cross wind from the south. In a few areas there were columns of dust blowing – not really a full-on haboob – just a light dust storm.

Dust storm ahead seen through the windshield

Dust storm ahead seen through the windshield

Donna sent a text message to Jeff and Deb Spencer (Rolling Recess) when we crossed the border into Arizona. They’ve been here for about three weeks now – they had a booth in the big tent for the Quartzsite RV show. Jeff told us to take the Dome Rock exit and follow the road for about two miles and we would see his GMC Denali pickup truck. The Dome Rock Road exit is about 11 miles into Arizona. We found Jeff and his wife Deb waiting for us on the side of the road. They led us back to the area where they’re boondocking. It turned to be only a few hundred yards from the place we stayed two years ago. I wrote about it in this post.

We set up quickly in a level spot with plenty of open space around us. The road we followed in dead ends at a wash, thus we have very little traffic here (map).

Our piece of desert west of Quartzsite on Dome Rock Road

Our piece of desert west of Quartzsite on Dome Rock Road

Donna invited Jeff and Deb to join us for dinner. In her usual fashion, Donna chose a recipe she’d never made before to serve our dinner guests. She prepared a Marseilles-style shrimp stew with fresh shrimp she picked up the night before at Stater Brothers. She also toasted French baguette slices and spread them with rouille (a sauce made with mayo, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, cayenne and paprika). It was delicious. The toasted baguette with rouille was the perfect accompaniment for the stew – that and a bottle of champagne.

Marseilles shrimp stew

Marseilles-style shrimp stew with toasted baguette

Jeff brought firewood and built a fire on the leeward side of our rig. We’re parked facing west and the wind from the south hits the driver’s side, making a nice wind block on the passenger side. While we were eating dinner inside, the wind really picked up.

Long shadows as the sun sets in the desert

Long shadows as the sun sets in the desert

I had four camp chairs set up around the fire. While we were eating dinner, we heard one of the chairs blow over. Jeff went outside and found it in the fire! It was one of the chairs we bought here at the Quartzsite big tent two years ago. Jeff joked about its lifespan being cradle to grave in Quartzsite. Oh, well. Donna’s had her eye on some new chairs.

Chair didn't fare well in the fire

Chair didn’t fare well in the fire

After dinner, I pulled the living room slide in – the wind was causing the slide topper to flap like crazy and make quite a ruckus. We went outside and sat around the fire. Deb cooked up s’mores while we chatted. As usual, the time flies while we’re enjoying good company. It was past 10pm before we knew it.

This morning, Donna and Deb went out for a three-mile power walk. After their walk, we toured their Domani fifth-wheel trailer. They pulled out today. We plan to spend another night here before we head up to Lake Havasu tomorrow. The wind is blowing again and is expected to increase throughout the day. I’ll probably pull the living room slide in again tonight.

This morning, our Verizon reception was weak – a couple of bars of 3G. I almost skipped writing a post because of it. Then I relocated the Jetpack and the signal improved to two bars of 4G LTE. It’s always nice to have an Internet connection.


Leaving SoCal

My time here at Golden Village Palms RV Resort in Hemet, CA (map) has been mostly consumed by playing pickleball. It’s such a fun and social game, Donna and I both love it.  Donna has had a number of writing assignments cutting into her pickleball and free time – but hey, a little cash flow always helps. Of course, our main reason for relocating here was to assist my step-dad, Ken Keller, through his pre-operative and post-operative surgery. Thankfully he’s come through that without any complications and is back to living his usual routine.

We extended our stay here by a week to be sure Ken was alright. When I extended the stay, a gal at the office named Espey did us a real favor. The usual weekly rate for a Premium-Plus site is $378 – which we paid when I originally booked online. When I extended our stay for another week, she took the time to book each day as a daily reservation applying our Good Sam and Passport America discounts for each night. This resulted in the second week booking at $246. A savings of $132 – it took her a bit of time to circumvent the usual computerized booking method, but she was willing to help us out! Nice!

My pickleball game has improved with the nearly daily play. I’ll have one more day of play before we move on. Donna and I are both feeling the hitch itch and we planned our next move on Wednesday night. We’ll leave here Saturday morning and make the 180-mile drive to Quartszite, Arizona. Our friends, Deb and Jeff Spencer (RollingRecess) are still there and they decided to stay an extra night so we can meet up.

Our original plan was to meet with a number of nomadic friends and acquaintances in Quartszite last week, but being available for family needs trumped that plan. So now we intend to boondock near Dome Rock – just west of town for Saturday and Sunday nights, then move on to Havasu Falls RV Resort in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. After a week there, we’ll move to the rodeo grounds in Lake Havasu City for the Alpine Coach Association rally at the Western Pyrotechnics Convention and Fireworks show. This should be a good time.

In preparation for our travels, I checked tire pressures on the coach, trailer and scooter and broke out our Porter-Cable compressor to set them to the proper pressure on Thursday afternoon. I don’t take tire pressure for granted – tire failure is no joke and under-inflated tires are the number one cause of blow-outs. I also checked and topped off the oil level in our Onan 7.5kW Quiet Diesel generator. Today I’ll stow the windshield cover and load the trailer. We should be set to roll and ready to boondock fairly early on Saturday. I’m looking forward to a couple of very quiet nights in the desert.

Donna walked to Marshall’s yesterday afternoon to do some shopping. She said it was the nicest Marshall’s store she’s ever been to.  After Marshall’s, she stopped at CVS and then Stater Brothers where she picked up some tilapia for dinner. She plans to go back to Stater Brothers today to re-stock our pantry for the next two weeks on the road. She loves it when we’re parked within walking distance of a variety of stores.

Fresh Mexican tilapia over sauteed mushrooms with roasted sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli

Fresh Mexican tilapia over sauteed mushrooms with roasted sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli

The weather yesterday was the nicest we’ve had since our arrival in Hemet. The temperature reached the upper 70s with clear, blue skies and little wind. I know I shouldn’t complain by saying this has been the coldest, wettest season since we hit the road over 30 months ago as it doesn’t compare to what many experience in the north or east coast. But one of the reasons for choosing the nomadic lifestyle is to follow the sun!

I’m not sure if I’ll post this weekend – if I remember correctly, we should have a good Verizon signal at Dome Rock and I can update at some point.


*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!

Idyllwild Day Trip

Sunday went pretty much as I expected. We played pickleball in the morning then I settled in to watch the NFL Conference Championship games. Denver’s defense had their way against the New England Patriots until late in the game. Then New England stepped on the gas and made it a close finish. Denver prevailed. The Arizona Cardinals versus the Carolina Panthers was a lopsided affair with Carolina blowing out Arizona.

Donna on the pickleball court

Donna on the pickleball court

Monday I started my day on the pickleball courts and played until 11:30am. Whew! Donna passed on pickleball and went out for a three-mile run then went to work on an article she’s writing for Quill. Although it was a nice day out with the temperature in the 70s with clear skies, I was worn out from three hours of pickleball so I read for a while and napped on the sofa. That’s about all I was good for on Monday.

I managed to fire up the Traeger wood pellet grill and roast a whole chicken for dinner. I seasoned the chicken with Sweet Rub O’Mine. Just like last time, the sugars in the rub caramelized and make the chicken look burnt in the photos. It wasn’t burnt – the skin was crispy and tasty with no burnt flavor at all.

Chicken roasted on the Traeger

Chicken roasted on the Traeger

Donna served it with a blend of brown and wild rices mixed with chopped pecans and dried berries. She also baked acorn squash with butter and maple syrup as another side.

Roasted chicken, acorn squash and rice

Roasted chicken, acorn squash and rice

Tuesday morning I slept in until 8:15 and still felt tired. I haven’t been sleeping well lately. Some of it is due to seasonal allergies starting to kick in – I know it’s still January but many plants are blooming around here. The other part is sore shoulders. My shoulders have been beat up – I’ve had multiple shoulder surgeries on both sides over the years and it’s catching up with me.

I decided to take a break from pickleball. We had a trip planned with our new friends, Ron and Marilyn Cross. We met Marilyn on the pickleball courts and she and Donna have become friends. It’s amazing how many new friends we find as we travel the country. They picked us up at 11am for a day trip up to Idyllwild.

We drove through Hemet and followed CA74 to CA243, a twisty two-lane country highway that climbs to the village of Idyllwild, 5,413 feet above sea level (map). Idyllwild is nestled in the San Jacinto Mountains which boast the second highest peak in southern California. San Jacinto Peak is 10,834 feet above sea level – Mount San Gorgonio in the San Bernadino mountains is the highest at 11,503 feet above sea level. Many people don’t imagine mountain ranges and towering peaks when they think about southern California, but they’re here. Idyllwild caters to tourism based around hiking, camping and rock climbing. It doesn’t have any ski areas although it does get its share of snow. If you follow CA74 past the CA243 turn off, you’ll find yourself in the desert at Palm Springs – only an hour away!

Idyllwild Ranger station - San Bernadino National Forest

Idyllwild Ranger station – San Bernadino National Forest – snow in the background

We walked through town with Ron and Marilyn and their dog, a long haired Vizsla named Callie. Then we came back to the car which was parked in front of the Lumber Mill Bar and Grill. Ron and Marilyn said this place had the best burgers around. We found about a dozen specialty burger choices on the menu. I went for a mushroom burger with grilled onions, Donna had the bison burger, Marilyn had the veggie burger and Ron had a bacon cheeseburger. They were definitely good burgers.

Lumber Mill Bar and Grill

Lumber Mill Bar and Grill

When we were leaving, I saw an interesting vehicle parked out front. It was Pinzgauer high-mobility all-terrain vehicle. These vehicles were originally made by Steyr-Diamler-Puch in Graz, Austria. It was a popular military vehicle in Europe. Steyr-Diamler-Puch produced these vehicles in four-wheel and six-wheel drive configurations from 1971 to 2000 when the rights were ultimately sold to the UK firm BAE. Nowadays, many of the older Pinzgauers are in private hands and they can be found anywhere in the world.

Pinzgauer high-mobility all-terrain vehicle

Pinzgauer high-mobility all-terrain vehicle

This one appears to be a first generation vehicle most likely powered by an inline air-cooled four-cylinder engine.

We left Idyllwild with the intention of finding Lake Hemet. First we made a wrong turn and went up Saunders Meadow Road. We quickly decided it was a mistake and Ron pulled over at a turnout. The view was spectacular so we got out. We then found a wide, well-defined hiking trail and took a short hike with their dog, Callie, among the ponderosa pines and manzanita trees.

Donna, Ron and Marilyn on the trail we found by accident - note snow on peak in the baclground

Donna, Ron and Marilyn on the trail we found by accident – note snow on peaks in the baclground

We continued on our way and headed east on CA74 – also known as the Pines to Palms highway. About four miles down CA74, we found the lake after one more missed turn – it was obscured by a construction zone.

Lake Hemet

Lake Hemet

We saw an immature bald eagle flying across the lake while Callie romped and swam in the water. As is the case with most western lakes and reservoirs, the water level is low. Recent rainfall and snow pack will undoubtedly help this situation, but years of drought aren’t erased by one wet season.

The heavy rainfall in the last month caused erosion along some of the banks of the lake. Marilyn and Donna sat on a bench they literally had to jump up on. The erosion of the soil under the bench left it sitting high above ground level. They looked like two little kids on a park bench with their legs dangling.

Legs dangling from a high bench

Legs dangling from a high bench

We made it back to Golden Palms RV Resort just in time to hit the farmers’ market before it shut down at 4pm. We picked up a few items before we walked back to our coach.

We were told about a pizza place that had good pizza and had a Tuesday special – buy one, get one free! I phoned in a take-out order and rode the scooter to Stadium Pizza in a small industrial park about four miles away. The parking lot was full and there was a line of people out the front door! I found a place to park the scooter and saw the line had the door blocked and the place was jam-packed. I asked people in line if I had to wait in line if I was picking up a take-out order I already placed. They said I probably needed to wait. Then one of them said I should go inside and try to pick up my order.

I wiggled my way inside and found a guy that looked like the manager walking behind the counter. I told him I phoned my order in and asked if I could pick it up or should I stand in the long line. He said, “We don’t have a drive through – you need to get in line.” I said “Really? I wasn’t asking for a drive through, but it doesn’t make sense to me to phone an order in and stand in line while other people are placing orders and waiting for tables while my pizza gets cold.” He asked for my name and phone number and went to the back and came out with the pizzas. What he needs to do is organize his counter – one line to place orders and another line to pick up orders. Simple. The pizza WAS good. Really good.

Today the only thing on my schedule is pickleball. Then I have no further plan.

Ozark Takes a Walk

Some mornings I wake up well before sunrise. Maybe I need to use the restroom. Maybe it’s a loud car or other noise. Sometimes it’s Ozark the cat moving about on our bed or scratching in her litter box. Some of the time I fall back into a slumber filled with dreams and I’m not really sure if I was ever awake or not. Does this ever happen to you?

Yesterday morning, I heard Ozark in her litter box. I drifted back to sleep only to wake up to the sound of Ozark in her litter box. This repeated countless times. Donna was out of bed before me. When I finally rose, she said Ozark needs to go to the vet. She said Ozark was climbing into her Clever Cat litter box every five minutes but didn’t seem like she was able to urinate. Something was clearly wrong.

We looked online for veterinarians nearby. At 8am, Donna started calling for an appointment. She was able to obtain an appointment at the Hemet Animal Hospital at 10:15am. We worried that Ozark might have a urinary tract blockage. I looked at Google maps and it appeared that the hospital on Girard Street was between 11,000 and 12,000 feet away – a little over two miles. Donna thought the best thing to do was to carry Ozark in her crate and walk there. Rather than carry the crate like a briefcase, she used our laundry basket – which has a shoulder strap – to carry the crate.

This turned out not to be the best idea. The basket was awkward and kept hitting Donna’s leg, so Ozark was getting bounced around. And the distance was badly underestimated. The scale of the Google map or the key to the map weren’t correct. It turned out to be 3.7 miles – a long walk. They were late, but they made it and the vet was still able to see them.

The vet diagnosed a urinary tract infection. Ozark didn’t have a blockage. In fact her bladder was nearly empty. She was just feeling an urge due to the inflammation of the infection. She was given medication and sub-cutaneous hydration – $162 later they were on their way home. Donna called a taxi for the ride home. Ozark came home with prescription medications – one was a sedative to keep her stress level down. She seemed to respond to it well at first, then she acted a little hyper. After a while she settled back down.

Ozark resting on the sofa

Ozark resting on the sofa

One thought about the cause of her condition may be stress due to a change in diet. Before we left San Diego I went to Petsmart to buy cat food. They didn’t have what she usually eats so I bought the next closest thing (same brand, different formula). We’ve been blending the last of her usual food with the new formula. Cats don’t like to switch foods. So yesterday, I went to Petco and bought her usual stuff. The vet also recommended hydrating as much as possible with canned foods and broth in her usual food as she recovers.

Later I accomplished a task that needed to be done. I cleaned our battery banks with baking soda solution. Our house batteries are flooded wet cell 6-volt golf cart batteries. Flooded lead acid batteries are well-developed and proven technology. However, they can gas and produce acidic corrosion while charging. The corrosion can be a real pain as it attacks connectors and the battery tray. Baking soda neutralizes the acid, but over time the acid builds up again. I’d like to get away from this cycle and replace our house batteries with absorbent glass mat (AGM) batteries. They don’t vent acidic vapors and corrosion isn’t an issue. The problem is cost – I would have to spend north of $1500 to replace our house battery bank with AGM batteries. Our friends Mark and Emily Fagan wrote all you want to know about batteries in these posts.

Donna defrosted a tri-tip steak she bought at Trader Joe’s in San Diego. I looked around online to figure how to prepare it. We were introduced to tri-tip steak about a year ago on New Year’s Eve when Debbie Bednarski had one for our New Year’s Eve dinner on December 31, 2014. See this post.

I lucked out when I cooked the tri-tip back then as I had no idea what I was working with. Tri-tip is associated with Santa Maria, California – the barbeque capital of California in Santa Barbara County. I read that tri-tip is a west coast thing although it seems to be gaining acceptance in other parts of the country. After looking at a few recipes, I had a plan to cook the tri-tip on the Traeger wood pellet grill.

I dry rubbed it with Brooks Brown Sugar Bourbon Rub and let it rest in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.  The Traeger made the rest of the cook easy. I think it came out fine – juicy with a pronounced beef flavor. Donna thought it could’ve been a little more tender. I cooked it to about 130 degrees internal temperature and let it rest for about 20 minutes in a loose foil tent. Maybe I could’ve taken it off the grill five minutes earlier.

Tri-tip ready to foil

Tri-tip ready to rest in a foil tent

Sliced tri-tip

Sliced tri-tip

Tri-tip plated with baked potato and zucchini

Tri-tip plated with baked potato and zucchini saute

I know I go over the top at times about our dinners. I want readers to understand we’re not out on a camping trip – this is our lifestyle and that includes eating well.

I paired the dinner with an IPA ale from Bootlegger’s Brewery in Fullerton, Calfiornia. It’s an IPA style beer brewed with rye – maybe we should call it a Rye-P-A. It’s a very good ale with a creamy-frothy mouth feel.



This morning I plan to hit the pickleball courts for some fun and exercise, then become a couch potato as I watch the NFL Conference Championship games.

Swearing In

After pickleball on Thursday, my youngest daughter, Shauna, sent me a text message. She was back in Albany, New York to get sworn in to the New York State Bar and receive her certificate. I wrote about the near disaster during the first day of her bar exam in this post. This time in Albany, she had someone take a few pictures with her cell phone and she sent them to me. First up, the offending trash can that nearly kept her out of the exam center.

A secure trash recepticle

A secure trash receptacle

Next up, her swearing in ceremony and certificate.

Shauna swearing in

Shauna swearing in

Her New York State Bar certificate

Her New York State Bar certificate

If you haven’t followed the link to the post about her exam, I encourage you to do so. Gaining admission to the bar is a long, drawn out process. After taking the exam in July, she started working for the international law firm Mayer, Brown in Washington DC. She also works out of their New York City office from time to time. She didn’t receive her test scores until October 28 and only just now was accepted into the New York State Bar.

We originally planned to pull out of Golden Village Palms RV Resort in Hemet, CA tomorrow. We have a couple of open weeks on our calendar. So we decided it would be a good idea to stay put for an extra week and make sure my step-dad, Ken, is fully recovered from his surgery before we move on. I’ve extended our stay here until January 30. Our next planned stop isn’t until February 8th when we’ll arrive at Lake Havasu for the Alpine Coach Association rally and Western Pyrotechnics show.

The extra week here will give me time to catch up on a few chores and also keep us active playing pickleball every day. The people here are very friendly and we enjoy the comradery and competition on the courts. I found out they have two indoor courts here for rainy days!

We’re enjoying the mild weather. The nights cool to the upper 40s and the daytime highs are in the 70s.


Successful Surgery

I haven’t posted for a few days as I’ve been off my usual routine this week. I didn’t sleep well Sunday night. I knew I had to be up early – I had my alarm set for 4:15am. Usually, when I need to be up early, I have an internal clock that wakes me up just before the alarm. In this case, I was restless all night and I was awake at 3am. I stayed in bed and tried to sleep, but got up at 4am and shut off the alarm.

I was up early to take my step-dad to the hospital. We had Ken’s car all weekend so I could drive him to the hospital for surgery to correct an abdominal aorta aneurysm and not have to scooter over to his place at dark-thirty. I told Ken I would be there by 5:15am. I showed up at 5:05am and we were on our way by 5:10am.

I figured the drive to Inland Valley Medical Center would take at least 30 minutes. In the early morning hours of Martin Luther King day, there was very little traffic and we made it in 25 minutes. We checked in at the ER as instructed and sat and waited for about half an hour. Then an administrator called out a name and Ken raised his hand. She started to tell us where we needed to go and Ken asked about his co-pay. He was told during the pre-op appointment that he would have a co-pay and it had to be paid in full before the surgery. The woman said she didn’t know about the co-pay and took us to an office. She started looking at files on her computer, then asked Ken if he knew the amount of the co-pay. Ken told her the amount and she said she didn’t see any notes for it, but would take the payment. I saw the file she was looking at – it wasn’t Ken’s file. She was about to apply his co-payment to someone else’s case.

We got that straightened out and walked to the surgery center. Ken’s 84 years old and never had a surgery before – and he had never spent the night in a hospital before. After a short wait, a nurse came and led him back to the pre-operation preparation area. I joined Ken there after a few minutes. I’ve been through several surgeries and I tried to reassure him and explain to him what they were doing. It was almost 8:30am by the time they were ready to wheel him into the operating room (OR). I told him he would be going to sleep in a few minutes. He looked at the nurse and said, “I’m wide awake now, I don’t think I can sleep.” I told him, “Trust me, you’ll be asleep in a few minutes.”

Before they took him away, the surgeon told me there was maybe a 1% chance that he would have to perform open surgery. The plan was to insert a stent through the femoral artery into his aorta and avoid open surgery. The surgeon said I should stick around until he was out of the OR. This made me wary – if they had to perform open surgery, I wasn’t sure if it would be survivable for someone Ken’s age and condition.

I read a book in the waiting room. I went to the cafeteria for breakfast. Then I came back and read some more. At 10:30am, the surgeon came out and told me everything was fine. He showed me a CT-scan image taken with contrast in the bloodstream. It showed blood flowing through the stent with no leakage into the aneurysm. Perfect. He said there was a possibility Ken would be discharged the next day, but more likely it would be Wednesday.

About an hour later, I was able to visit Ken in the recovery room. I said, “Well, you made it through.” He said, “I don’t think I did too well.” I told him the surgeon said everything went really well and he was pleased with the outcome. Ken said, “But I was thrashing about and trying to stand up in bed.” I laughed and told him that didn’t happen – it was a hallucination brought on by the anesthesia. He seemed really confused by that. Before I left, I told him I would call him the following day to check on him. The nurse told me he would be in room ICU13.

Monday night I was really tired and went to bed at 9pm. I slept like a rock. I was up early and got out of bed at 6am. I read for awhile then had breakfast when Donna got up.

Sunrise Tuesday morning

Sunrise Tuesday morning

We hit the pickleball courts. Here at Golden Village Palms RV Resort, they take pickleball seriously and start play at 8am. I knew Ken usually likes to sleep in, so I played pickleball until 11am, then I called the hospital. It took four phone calls and lots of runaround before I was able to talk to Ken. He wasn’t in ICU13 like they told me – he was in ICU2.

Ken told me that when the doctor made his rounds earlier, he said Ken would be discharged after lunch! He said I should wait until he called me before heading to hospital because it might take a couple of hours. I received a phone call around 2pm from the nurse. He said he had trouble getting hold of me – they had written my phone number down incorrectly. Luckily Ken had my number on a note in his coat pocket which he eventually found. The nurse said I should plan to pick Ken up at 4pm.

Donna and I drove to the hospital and picked Ken up. He was moving a little slow but seemed fine. On the way to his house, I stopped at Rite-Aid to fill a pain prescription. That’s when trouble started. The pain med – Norco – is a class two controlled substance. Rite-Aid wouldn’t fill the prescription because the doctor didn’t hand write the date – it was pre-printed on the prescription form. They said the prescription had to be hand signed and hand dated. They suggested using a different pain med. I wasn’t going to do that without talking to the surgeon. It turned out he was in surgery at the time. I called his office and they told me they would page him and he could call Rite-Aid. They expected him to be out of surgery within half an hour.

We drove Ken home and told him he should kick back and relax while I worked out the prescription issue. Ken’s a pretty tough guy. He made a pot of coffee and turned on the television. We planned for Donna to spend the night at Ken’s house so she could prepare meals for him. He wouldn’t have it. Like I said, he’s a tough guy. Ken served in the Marine Corps and fought at the battle of Chosin in Korea. He’s been through very hard times in his life.

I went back to Rite-Aid to see if they heard from the surgeon. He hadn’t called and by now it was after 5pm. I called his office again but it was closed – I got through to his answering service. They paged him again and he called me. He said I should just buy extra strength Tylenol. He said Ken didn’t take much in the way of pain medication all day and he thought Tylenol would work fine. I bought the Tylenol and went back to Ken’s place. We sat for a while before he shooed us off. He’s used to living alone and he wanted us to go home and come back on Wednesday.

It was well after 6pm by the time we got home. Donna made oven-fried chicken that had soaked overnight in buttermilk and chives. This recipe was new and it was very tasty. The chicken was crispy, flavorful and moist. She also prepared buttered green beans and black rice with sweet potatoes, ginger and scallions.

Pan fried chicken

Oven-fried chicken

Wednesday morning we were back on the pickleball courts. I called to check on Ken at 11am. He seemed anxious to have his car back in his garage. I told him I would make a quick run for groceries, then go to his place.

He seemed to be getting around fine when I arrived. He said he had some aches and pains and he didn’t know why. I told him he was only on his second day after surgery. Aches and pains are to be expected. He said he planned to go to the clubhouse and play cards on Thursday. He usually plays on Tuesdays and Thursdays. His neighbor, Ray, would walk with him to the clubhouse. He said he thought the walk would be good for him.

I rode the scooter back home and left Ken’s car in his garage. Donna adapted a chicken stir-fry recipe and made beef & broccoli stir-fry with flank steak for dinner. It was delicious!

Flank steak beef stir-fry

Flank steak beef stir-fry

We played pickleball again this morning – I played for three hours. I’ll call Ken later, after his card game to see how he’s doing. I told him we were paid up here until Saturday, but we can extend if he feels like he might want some help. That’s the nice thing about being mobile and full-timing. We don’t really have to be anywhere. At a time like this, if we lived in a sticks-and-bricks house, I would have flown out here to help Ken. Then I would sleep on his sofa or get a hotel room. But I didn’t have to do that. We were able to move our living quarters to his area and we can remain here if he needs us.

It’s a beautiful day today. The temperature is in the mid 70s with only a few high clouds. The snow we can see on Mount San Jacinto and up in Big Bear is melting from the mountain tops.

Snow on the mountains

Snow on the mountains

The nice weather should hold up through the weekend. We’ll decide tomorrow if we’ll stay here or move on.

Heat – Diesel or Propane?

I mentioned in my last post how cold it was at Jojoba Hills SKP RV Resort. Friday’s high temperature was in the low 50s. After a couple of hours on the pickleball courts in the morning, we stayed indoors for the rest of the day.

Our five dollar per night boondocking spot wasn’t as economical as I hoped it would be. With the cold weather, I had the generator running all day with the heat pumps on. I could have shut down the generator and fired up the propane furnace for heat – I’m not sure which is more economical. The generator burns roughly half a gallon of diesel fuel per hour. Diesel fuel is around two dollars per gallon now. Propane is slightly higher than that but I don’t know the burn rate of our furnace. I ended up with about 18 hours of generator run time over the two days we were there.

Donna prepared a pork tenderloin with pomegranate glaze for dinner Friday night. So yummy!

Pork tenderloin with pomegranate glaze

Pork tenderloin with pomegranate glaze

We pulled out of Jojoba Hills around 11:20am Saturday morning. Our route took us up CR3 to Hemet. I’ve driven this road before in the opposite direction. I remembered some tight twisty sections, but I didn’t remember it being 15 miles of twisty, narrow highway. There wasn’t much traffic but a couple of times, I had cars lining up behind me. What the drivers of cars may not realize is how much I need to slow down for tight turns. They also probably don’t know how difficult it may be for me to pull over on a narrow road to let them pass. I need to see a wide enough shoulder and judge whether it is smooth enough to drive on and solid enough to support our weight. I usually have to make that decision in a matter of a few seconds. Twice I found wide spots on the shoulder where I could let the cars pass.

We’re currently at the Golden Village Palms RV Resort in Hemet California (map). We’ve stayed here once before when it was much warmer. We have a back-in site that’s barely wide enough for our coach with three slides and our trailer. When I backed the trailer into our site we had a number of spectators. About a half dozen people across the street and another three or four people down from our site all stood by and watched. It must have been disappointing for them as I didn’t hit anything and Donna gave excellent guidance. We dropped the trailer without any drama at all.

Once we were set up, I scootered about 15 miles to my step-dad, Ken Keller’s house. I left the scooter in his garage and picked up his car. I’ll drive over there at dark-thirty on Monday to take him to the hospital. He has a surgery scheduled and I need to have him at the hospital before 6am.

Ken is 84 years old. He’s never had surgery and never spent the night in a hospital before. One of the nice things about our nomadic lifestyle is the ability to visit family as we travel about. In this case, it enables us to set up near Ken and assist him. The hospital requires an adult caretaker to drive him home (when he’s able to go home) and stay with him for 24 hours. I’ve booked a week here. I’m hoping that’s sufficient time for him to get back on his feet.

When I returned, I watched the NFL playoffs. The Cardinals won a thriller over Green Bay. Donna played pickleball in the afternoon. Then she made turkey and black bean chili for dinner. A simple and delicious meal!

Turkey burger chili with cheddar and cilantro

Turkey chili with cheddar and cilantro

We’ll head over to the pickleball courts this morning, then I’ll kick back and watch more NFL playoff games.

Gray Skies at Jojoba Hills

On Wednesday morning, our last full day in San Diego, Donna joined her friend Johanna for a bike ride up to the Torrey Pines Glider Port. While she was out, I cleaned our site, packed the awning mat and folded the chairs. I cleaned the Traeger wood pellet fired grill. I checked our tire pressures – something I always do before we travel. When Donna came home from her ride, I took her bike to the trailer and hung it up.

Our friends Tom and Kris Downey (Open Road 365) generously offered the use of their Chevy Equinox to haul things out to the trailer. But before I started hauling stuff to the trailer, I had to scooter to Pacific Beach to CVS Pharmacy. During my last check-up before Christmas, Dr. Ryan put me on a new prescription. It’s a daily medication. I picked up the initial 30-day supply at CVS, then added the medication to my CVS-Caremark mail-order plan. I received an e-mail Tuesday from CVS-Caremark telling me they would fill the mail-order prescription with a 90-day supply in three to five days.

We’ll be bouncing around for a few weeks and I don’t think I’ll have mail forwarded until the middle of February. I’ll run out of my meds before then. I told the woman at the pharmacy about my dilemma. I was certain the insurance wouldn’t cover another 30-day supply when they just approved a 90-day supply. She looked up the out-of-pocket price for 30 capsules. It was $142. She had my contact info and said she would talk to my insurance company and call me later. She called me about half an hour later and said she had it worked out. She asked the insurance company for a vacation waiver to refill the prescription as my meds wouldn’t catch up with me in time. They approved it! When I went back to CVS and picked up the prescription there was no co-pay – it cost me zero instead of $142.

With the dilemma solved, I went to Tom and Kris’ site to borrow their car. I made two trips to the trailer and had everything except for the Traeger packed – it’s too bulky to put into the car. I returned the car, then I walked the Traeger out to the trailer and it was job done.

Just before sundown, our friend Hans Kohls (Metamorphosis Road) stopped by. He told us Lisa had a cold and didn’t want to infect anybody so she stayed home while he came by to bid us farewell. Hans brought a cold bottle of IPA from Green Flash Brewing. It was billed as a tropical fruit style. It tasted more citrus to me than anything tropical. The hops were typical IPA – I think it was Cascade, Centennial and Simcoe hops. I opened a bomber bottle of a limited release ale from Lagunitas called Hairy Eyeball. This was a malty, almost sweet beer with 9.1% ABV and 56 IBUs. It was tasty – Donna even liked it, but I think one is my limit on this beer.

Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball

Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball

With the gear already stowed in the cargo trailer, I had a leisurely morning on Thursday prepping to leave. I hooked the water hose I use for flushing to the flushing valve for the black water tank and dumped it. While it was flushing, Ray stopped by and started talking to me. I shut the dump valve on the black tank and opened the gray water tank as Tom arrived and joined the conversation. The gray tank took about six minutes to empty – then I realized I hadn’t shut off the water supply to the black tank flushing valve. I was filling the black tank with water while we talked! I ran over to the spigot and shut it off. We have a large black tank – 89 gallons, so there’s no way I could overfill it in six minutes. But I was a little flustered none the less. Getting distracted while performing a chore like that can have disastrous results.

We fired up the Cummins ISL diesel at 11:15am. When we were lining up to hook up the trailer, I couldn’t hear anything Donna was saying over the handheld Cobra CB radio. I checked the radio and it indicated low battery. Donna could hear me – there was enough battery power to receive a signal but it takes more power to transmit. There wasn’t enough current to transmit so I couldn’t hear her. The radio takes seven AA batteries and they lasted for about two years. Not bad.

We drove north on I-15 to Temecula and on to the Jojoba Hills SKP park near Aguanga (map). I told Tom it takes about an hour to get to Temecula. I was right – we got to Temecula in about an hour, but I didn’t account for the stoplight-to-stoplight drive through Temecula and the 13-mile drive down CA79 to get to the RV park. It was about an hour and half total time.

We checked in to the boondocking area – no hook-ups for five dollars a night. We’ll spend two nights here before we move on to the Golden Palms RV Resort in Hemet, about 30 miles from here.

Setting up in a dry camping area is quick and easy. I pushed a button to extend the jacks and level the coach. Then I worked three switches to extend the slide-outs. Job done. Donna loves this place. It’s one of the cleanest and well laid out parks in a beautiful setting. The amenities are great. I gave a little background on this park in this post.

It was cold Friday morning. The temperature was in the 40s. We’re a little more than 2,000 feet above sea level here. Around 9am, we braved the cold and went to the outdoor pickleball courts. We had fun and played for two hours before retreating to the coach. From the boondocking area, it’s a bit of a hike to the pickleball courts – uphill all the way. The trail is nice though and a new waterfall was added since our last stay here.

The trail heading back to our coach

The trail heading back to our coach

Our boondocking site hidden among the trees

Our boondocking site hidden among the trees

The new waterfall

The new waterfall

Another view of the upper part of the 'fall

Another view of the upper part of the ‘falls

We spent the rest of the afternoon with the generator running and the heat pumps on. The skies are overcast and the temperature stayed in the mid-50s. Tomorrow we’ll move on and hopefully find warmer weather.


*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!

From Kafta to Sushi

Donna and I played pickleball at the Ocean Beach Recreation Center on Monday. They only play for two hours at OBRC. We were home by 2:30pm. I had one task to take care of as we prepare to hit the road after nine weeks in San Diego.

I replaced the windshield wiper blade assemblies. The last time I replaced the wipers, I put new rubber inserts in. The blade assembly wears over time and the pivot points loosen. The blade clamps around thin metal strips reinforcing the rubber blade material. This area also loosens its grip after the inserts are replaced a couple of times. I found 28″ replacement blade assemblies to fit our wiper arms at a school bus supply company in Clinton Township, Michigan called Unity School Bus Parts. I don’t have any affiliation with this company, but I included a link in case a reader needs parts.

The blades are attached to the wiper arm with shoulder bolts. The replacement blades were a perfect fit. The shoulder bolt has an 8mm hex head and is fastened with a 6mm hex nut.

Shoulder bolt for wiper blade

Shoulder bolt for wiper blade

Old and new wiper blades

Old and new wiper blades

This was a simple task. I think I spent more time walking to the trailer and back to get the proper wrenches than I spent actually installing the blades

Around 5pm, we went to Kris and Tom Downey’s (Open Road 365) coach. We were invited to join them and their friends, Ray and Kathy, for dinner. Kris is recovering from surgery on her broken ankle and is mostly confined to hobbling around in her coach. Ray made kafta – a middle eastern dish of ground beef and lamb on skewers or rolled into oblong meatballs. Donna made orzo with roasted cherry tomatoes and parsley.

Donna working her magic in Kris' kitchen

Donna working her magic in Kris’ kitchen

We enjoyed the meal inside and sat and talked. Some of us enjoyed adult beverages as well. As always, the time flies by while the conversation is flowing.

Donna, me, Kris and Tom

Donna, me, Kris and Tom

Tuesday we had nice weather. It was sunny and clear out and slightly warmer with the temperature in the upper 60s. I went to the Pacific Beach Recreation Center to play pickleball while Donna stayed home to do some early spring cleaning in the coach with the products she is reviewing for Family Circle magazine. I intended to get started on packing things in the trailer after pickleball but I showered and went to Offshore Tavern and Grill instead. I had a farewell toast with the guys there.

I came home before 5pm because we had an early dinner reservation. Donna’s sister Sheila and our 11-year-old nephew Connor were picking us up to go to Sushi Ota. This popular restaurant has some of the best sushi in San Diego – make that the best sushi we’ve found anywhere. We ordered a large selection and I stuffed myself. Connor wanted to try uni – sea urchin – and I talked him into ordering it with a quail egg. He was venturesome and went for it. And he liked it!

Sushi platter

Sushi platter – uni with quail egg in the lower left

Today we have partly cloudy skies. I’ll remove the windshield cover and tire covers and set the tire pressures. Then I’ll pack the trailer. We have cloudy skies, but the forecast calls for zero percent chance of rain until this evening. I should have ample time to pack everything this afternoon while it’s dry. Donna’s out for a bike ride with our friend Johanna this morning, then she has a lunch date in Old Town with a former colleague. I’ll scooter her over there and she’ll take the bus back while I’m packing up.

Tomorrow we’ll pull out and head up to Temecula about an hour away from here. We plan to spend two nights at Jojoba Hills SKP Resort – an RV park for Escapees members. Then we’ll move to Golden Palms RV Resort in Hemet. We plan to stay there for one week. This should be enough time to assist my step-dad. I’ll drive him to the hospital at 5am Monday morning and drive him home once he’s released after surgery. We’ll hang out and help him while he recovers. Hopefully we’ll have dry weather up in Riverside County.

Foul Play

We had cool, cloudy weather over the weekend. The thermometer struggled to reach 60 degrees. The El Nino effect is causing a wetter than usual winter in San Diego. The rainy season here is generally from Christmas to the end of February. January and February are typically the wettest months. San Diego averages less than 12 inches of rain per year. January averages about 2 inches of rain. This year, over four inches of precipitation were recorded by the 10th of the month. The most rainfall in one month was 9.09 inches in January1993.

I spent most of the weekend watching the NFL playoffs. The playoffs should be high-level football, but mostly they were disappointing games. Kansas City destroyed Houston. The biggest disappointment for me in that game was seeing Eric Fisher throw a vicious elbow to back of J.J. Watt’s neck while he was down and injured. It must have been a heat-of-the-battle thing because Eric is a decent guy. I used to work with his mother.

The Cincinnati Bengals versus the Pittsburgh Steelers game was ugly. I have to say the Cincinnati fans didn’t show much class when they cheered because Steelers quarterback Ben Rothlisberger left the field due to injury. Then they threw debris on the field as their defensive players went through a meltdown.

The Seattle Seahawks played the Vikings in Minnesota. It was a frigid six below zero at kickoff. The Vikings outplayed Seattle for three quarters but failed to score a touchdown – they had three field goals in tough conditions. Seattle put up 10 points in the fourth quarter. Minnesota’s kicker, Blair Walsh, had a chance to win the game with a 27-yard field goal attempt with seconds left in the game and he missed it!

The most entertaining game of the weekend in my opinion was the Green Bay Packers at Washington. Both teams played good football through three quarters before the Packers put the game away.

Enough about football – if you’re not a fan, it’s enough to make your eyes glaze over. Donna took advantage of the rental car and went shopping on Saturday and Sunday. She picked up the car on Thursday to go to her hair stylist. When she came home from her hair appointment she told me something had hit the car and left a white mark on the black car about four inches long.

On Saturday she went to Costco. When she came out to the parking lot she saw a dent where someone banged their door or shopping cart against the car. I understand accidents can happen, but I also know some people are careless and have little regard for the property of others.

When Donna came home from Costco, I took the car over to the trailer to unload a case of water. I also wanted to see if I could buff the white paint that was transferred onto the black finish by whatever hit it on Thursday. The first thing I noticed was someone had hit our trailer in the parking lot!

Damage by the second rivet from the top and in front of the wheel fender

Damage by the second rivet from the top and in front of the wheel fender

See what I mean by mindless people having no regard for the property of others? I was able to remove the white paint from the door skin of the rental car and it wasn’t creased so the door looks fine. The trailer damage is not so simple.

We have clear, blue skies this morning and are looking forward to a few dry days. I’ll need to start packing up some of the things we have out as they dry. We’ll pull out of here on Thursday. Once again, our plans are changing. We thought we would head over to Quartzsite, Arizona for the big RV show, but now it doesn’t make sense. My step-dad, Ken Keller, is scheduled for surgery on Monday. He’ll need someone to take him to the hospital and help him when he’s discharged. I think we’ll head up to Temecula (map) and spend a couple of days at the Escapees park near Aguanga. Then we can move to Hemet (map). This will put us in a position to ride the scooter to  Ken’s house on the weekend. I’ll leave the scooter there and take his car. On Monday morning, I can drive back and take him to the hospital. This should work out.

We aren’t booked anywhere until the Alpine Coach Association gathering for the big fireworks show at Lake Havasu beginning February 8th. We’ll see how the rest of January works out.