The Bill and Kit 2010 Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #11

Bill and Kit’s 2010 Excellent Adventure

Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares

 

The Bill and Kit 2010 Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #11

San Onofre Beach

 

 Sunday, February 7, 2010:  This morning is a picture postcard southern California beach day.  Since one picture is worth a thousand words…..Please enjoy the following 8,000 word description of San Onofre Beach.

   The break on San Onofre shore is a locally famous surf spot…..especially following a storm like we experienced yesterday.  That and the fact that it was Sunday caused the surfers to be out in force.

 

 

  

We spent the day playing beach bums like we used to do as teenagers.  On one beach combing adventure I found a long fishing line with floats tangled in the seaweed.  Being a scavenger I pulled, parted and liberated the line and then spent a while untangling it.  Now I have a 100 +/- foot hank of commercial quality ½ inch poly rope strung with orange floats…..all for a few hours work in the sun on the beach.  Now what to do with it………    

And the resident seagulls as well…..I wonder why the surfers carry their boards on their heads when they walk down the beach through a flock of resting gulls?

 

 Oh, now I see…..drat and no place to seek cover!!

 

Monday, February 8, 2010:  We left San Onofre before noon under sunny skies with temperatures in the 60’s.  Decided to head to Riverside and visit the National Cemetery where Kit’s mom and dad are resting in a shared grave.  Hopped on US-74, also called the Ortega Highway, and climbed into the Santa Ana Mountains.

This steep and winding road quickly put us into El Cristo Village at an elevation of 2000 feet and a population 250.  It was a good 10 degrees cooler than on the coast. 

Descending from the summit we spotted the town of Lake Elsinore in the beautiful Temecula Valley.

 

When I lived in San Diego (as an adult) I had a Honda dirt bike called an Elsinore which was named after this town.  There is a huge annual off road motorcycle rally hosted by the town which draws thousands of participants and spectators.  Steve McQueen often rode in the Lake Elsinore Grand Prix as the event became to be known and the rally was featured in the film “On Any Sunday” as well.

It was a very nice town with a few campgrounds right on the lake.  Might be a promising spot to hang out on our next trip through.

We pulled into Riverside National Cemetery and spent an hour or so sitting by the grave site and reminiscing about the great times we had with Kit’s parents.  Frank was a US Navy WWII and a Korean War veteran and with his wife Charlotte was eligible to be buried in this beautiful and historic place.

Since it was getting late in the day we decided to stay at the campground on March ARB which was right near the cemetery grounds.  Due to the recent heavy rains we even scored a lakeside camp site!

Kit’s Corner:  The ride through the mountains from just east of Oceanside was very picturesque!  We had never been on Hwy 74 and were surprised at how rural and pretty it was.  We were also surprised at how the small town of Lake Elsinore had grown.  We hadn’t been there for probably 40 years.  Love staying on the back roads as much as possible, there’s so much more to see.  When time is an issue, we do take the highway but after awhile, all highways look the same.

Well tomorrow marks the unofficial return home as we will be generally heading northeast over the next few months.  For those of you keeping score we have been on the road for 35 days and have traveled 4,561 miles.

Many more days, miles and adventures to come…..stay tuned.

Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit

The Bill and Kit 2010 Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #10

 Bill and Kit’s 2010 Excellent Adventure

 

Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares

The Bill and Kit 2010 Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #10

January 28 to February 5, 2010

San Diego, California

Part Three 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010:  Today we visited with Kit’s brother John and met his very nice girl friend, Lu:

Kit’s Corner:  Well, another great day with John!  This time, he brought his girlfriend, Lu whom he has been going with for 6 years.  She’s a very nice gal, from Mexico and has 4 children, 3 daughters and 1 son.  The girls are in their late teens and early 20’s so, on their own more or less.  Carlos, her son is 13 and in the throes of puberty.  John, never having raised a son, is a bit perplexed on how to handle him.  The comical part is he spent many years working as a Probation Officer for the SD Police Dept.  About all I can say is, they are all different.  Not much help for him, though.  Actually I’m sure Carlos will be just fine, he sounds quite normal to us.  We had a great time getting to know Lu and of course visiting with John again.

Thursday, February 4, 2010:  Yep….we are still in San Diego, Finding it hard to leave.  There are so many memories and so many new things to experience.

Kit’s Corner:  We decided to stay in SD one more day than we originally planned so I could spend the day with Marie and Bill could go off and do whatever he does.  What a delightful day we had!  After 20 years of the new trolley system in San Diego, I was finally able to ride it!  We were able to catch it right near Marie’s apartment in Mission Valley; the station is only a 5 minute walk.  We rode all the way out to Santee which was maybe 45 minutes or so.  We got off, did a little shopping and had lunch at Daphne’s.  Then, we rode back to Old Town, which is beyond Mission Valley.  From there, we switched lines and rode to the downtown area.  We spent maybe an hour walking around.  Then, back to the Grossmont area, east of SD, switched lines and back to Mission Valley.  All this for a $5.00 Day Pass!  What a bargain!  We then went to Nordstrom’s Rack to shop for a few things, then out for coffee and dessert.  What a great day we had!  We hope to see both Scott & Marie next time we come to SD.  And, I definitely want to ride the trolley again; it’s a wonderful way to get around the city and surrounding areas.    

Since Kit was off enjoying time with Marie and since Scott was at work (actually he was at sea on his newest project) I took off toward Balboa Park to poke around and take in some of the sights.  After walking around a bit I decided to visit the San Diego Automobile Museum.  This fairly small but very nice museum had some interesting displays. 

Of particular interest was one of only 47 of the original 51 Tucker Torpedo automobiles that still exist.  This very rare post World War II car was way ahead of its time featuring a rear engine, innovative safety equipment and a center light that turned with the front wheels.   Bob Bahre upta Paris Hill, Maine has another of the originals but his is in a private collection only open to the public at select times of the year.  And, thanks to our friends Jeff and Cathy we were able to see the complete Bob Bahre collection last year when they took us on a foliage tour in their original 1940 Ford Woody.

Two other interesting vehicles were the Husquavarna motorcycle owned by Steve McQueen and ridden in many of his motocross races.  Steve and this same bike was featured in the Bruce Brown documentary “On Any Sunday” which was playing in the background.

The fascinating car below was built and driven by Louie Matter of San Diego.

 

It is a specially equipped 1947 Cadillac that broke many non-stop endurance records back in 1952.  It went 6,320 miles round trip crossing the US without stopping!  The car towed a trailer with 230 gallons of gas, 15 gallons of oil and 30 gallons of water in addition to tools and spare tires.  It cost Louie $75,000 dollars and took 7 years to build the car.  The three man team was able to do all maintenance while on the move including oil changes, engine tune up’s and changing of tires.  The latter by the use of hydraulically lowered jack wheels at each corner of the automobile.  The interior of the car contained sleeping platforms, sanitation receptacles, refrigerator, stove, tape player, TV, a Turkish Water Pipe and a mini bar…..the guy thought of everything!  Want to read more?  Click on the following link:

http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/tag/louie-mattar/

I remember seeing this incredible car at various auto shows and dealer promotion events back in the late 1950’s.  At the time you could crawl all over the thing and meet Louie himself.  Now it’s a museum piece.

Speaking of cars there are a whole lot of them in San Diego…..I think every man, woman and child has at least three!  The traffic is heavy…..twelve lanes side by side, bumper to bumper.  However as a credit to the local California Highway Department folks it all moves along just fine…..at 70 MPH.  Kit’s father, Frank was a Civil Engineer for CalTrans and he used to say when San Diego was planning their highway system they learned from the mistakes of Los Angeles.  As a result the traffic flows better here.  If you have every driven in LA traffic you know what he meant.  The closest to LA traffic on the east coast is the mess in downtown Boston.

Back in the 1950’s traffic was lighter and the roads narrower.  One particular road I remember was the main artery from our neighborhood up on the mesa to Mission Valley.  This rough and steep two lane road was called Mission Village Drive.  Well the road ended at the bottom of the canyon at a cross street called Friars Road.  Both roads still exist today though they are wider, smoother and not as steep as I remember.  One of our pastimes was to race our coaster brake bicycles down Mission Village Drive.  The trick was to see who would get to the bottom the fastest and stopped at Friars Road without flying off into the San Diego River.  Fortunately there was never much traffic on Friars Road back then except for the occasional tractor or other farm vehicle.  On one particular occasion this “Race to the Death” was occurring as usual and I was bumping along down the hill pedaling for all I was worth when suddenly my chain came off.  Now remember these were coaster brake bike’s…..no chain…..no brake.  Realizing I was going to either get wet or end up in a passing manure trailer I steered my bike to the right and bailed.  San Diego uses a lot of “Pickle Weed”, better known as ice-plant, on the excavated hillsides to control erosion.  Anyway I tumbled many times through the Pickle Weed before coming to rest.  My bike made it further than I did by about 50 feet.  If you have never seen pickle weed here is a close up, and yea, it is as soft and cushioning as it looks.  Thank goodness.

Tomorrow we pull up stakes for parts unknown.  We had a great eight days in San Diego and we are already looking forward to coming back next year.

Friday, February 5, 2010:  Left Admiral Baker Field mid day and headed north under overcast skies and temperatures in the 60’s.  As it turned out we only went 55 miles when we decided to check out San Onofre Beach Campground on the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base.  Even though it was the weekend we were able to score an ocean side site…..probably due to the predicted rain.  Yes it does rain in Southern California!

I was really intrigued by the sign behind our site.  WOW, I thought to my self, this must be the best beach ever for people watching!  They put up a sign and everything!!

Then Kit informed me that the sign had nothing at all to do with bikini watching…..Drat!

One of the reasons we decided to stay here for a few days is because Kit reconnected with yet another old friend on Classmates.com who lives in Oceanside.  We met Leilani at a nice restaurant in Oceanside Harbor called Monterey Bay Canners.

Kit’s Corner:  It’s hard to believe, Leilani and I met when we were in 7th grade, going to Montgomery Jr. High School.  We both went to the same elementary school, Will Angier but were in different classes.  It was great to reunite with her!  We had lots of things to talk about, however, I must admit, her memory of those days is far better than mine!  She has had quite an exciting life.  She was born in Hawaii and lived many places while her dad was in the Navy and also while going to college and later working.  Also, she has had many very different jobs and currently works with autistic children in Oceanside.  We are hoping to get together again next year when we come to San Diego and continue getting to know one another better. 

Back at the beach the rain did indeed come.  With the sound of the surf and the wind gently rocking the trailer it felt just like being at sea.  After 22 years in the Navy followed by another 21 years working on Navy ships I have become quite accustomed to that sound and motion.  And as usual it put me right to sleep.

Saturday, February 6, 2010:  Woke to sunny but windy skies.  Took a walk on the beach and enjoyed the exercise and the smell of fresh salt air. 

There was a young fellow on the beach flying a Performance Kite.  That thing was incredible!  It was large, powerful and highly maneuverable.  When he landed the kite for a rest I walked over and began quizzing him on this hobby.  Turns out he was a Marine from Twenty Nine Palms and offered to give me a quick lesson and let me fly his kite.  After a few crash landings I began to get the hang of it and was hooked! 

Now to convince Kit that I need another hobby to spend time and money on.  When I mentioned it to her later she looked at me in that way I know oh too well and said: “Go fly a kite!”  I was surprised and elated…..now to do some research on the internet.

No she said……you already have a kite…..go play with the toys you have!

Sigh…..the other guys was so much bigger and nicer.  The story of my life bottled up in a kite metaphor.  So sad.

Well since the prediction for today is 60% chance of rain, we headed to the Camp Pendleton Exchange to re-supply.

Returning later that afternoon we took another walk down the beach and settled in for the night.  Not sure why…..it would have been so much more comfortable in our trailer.  Guess the smell of salt air and the sound of crashing waves caused us to want to relive our childhood.  I used to occasionally sleep on the beach back then.  Easier than going home just to turn around the next morning to head back to the beach….a major undertaking when your method of transportation is hitchhiking.

Well tomorrow we are off.  Not sure where to next…..probably north for a while then east than……….?

Stay tuned,

Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit

The Bill and Kit 2010 Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #9

Bill and Kit’s 2010 Excellent Adventure

Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares

 The Bill and Kit 2010 Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #9

January 28 to February 5, 2010

San Diego, California

Part Two

 

Monday, February 1, 2010:  We woke at around 0600 and than lay around for a while discussing the past few days and what to do today.  Next thing we knew the trailer sort of rocked back and forth…..gentle motion but quite distinct.  We have felt this motion before and, yep….it was an earthquake!  Back in San Diego less than a week and already an earthquake.  Signed on to the internet and copied the following off the San Diego Union website: 

Offshore quake rolls through south San Diego County

By Debbi Baker, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

Monday, February 1, 2010 at 6:37 a.m.

A 4.4-magnitude earthquake that struck offshore of Baja rumbled through the county early Monday.

The temblor was reported at 6:19 .a.m. and was centered 31 miles offshore west of Rosarito, Mexico, about 42 miles south, southwest of Imperial Beach and 3.7 miles deep, according to the U.S. Geological survey.

Sheriff’s Department Lt. Hope Andrews said the building shook in Kearny Mesa and police in El Cajon, Chula Vista and Escondido also reported feeling the quake.

No damages or injuries have been reported.

After an inauspicious morning welcome we decided to just hang around camp to do chores, rest up and prepare for the evenings activities.  Kit used the time to spruce up the trailer and goof around on the internet and I went for a nice walk in the canyon and the area up on the mesa. 

 This evening we were invited to the home of my best friend from the old neighborhood, Rodney Olson and his wife Gloria.

 

 Rodney and Gloria live in the foothills of the Laguna Mountains, an area called La Cresta.  They have a beautiful home with very nice decks, gardens and patios.  Gloria, originally from Tecate, Mexico made an incredible meal with Tortas, rice and beans.  Rod served us cold draft beers from his keg.  We haven’t seen them in 10 years and had a lot of catching up to do in addition to remembering stories from out teenage years.  Kit and I had a great evening and hope to stay better connected with them in the future.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010:  Groundhog Day!  We don’t have Punxsutawney Phil on the west coast but we do have San Diego Sammy…..a cute little bunny that frolics in the morning sunshine outside our camper window every morning: and oh by the way…..he does see his shadow.  It’s weird however each morning there seems to be more and more of him.  Wonder how that happens?

Since today the same old boring San Diego winter weather, sunny and warm, we decided to play tourist. 

First, Kit and I went to Seaport Village located in the waterfront portion of downtown.  This revitalized area sits on San Diego Bay and is a popular tourist destination.

 

 Years ago the area was a bit seedy and run down, populated by sailor bars, the shrimp fleet and its associated processing houses and canneries.  Today it is a trendy area with many neat little shops and features musicians and other street performers.  Also it is an excellent “people watching” place which is a favorite pastime of mine.

 While Kit shopped I hung out on the waterfront, watched the world walk by and studied the various, trees, plants and flowers.  One such tree is the Eucalyptus.

 

  These majestic and aromatic trees are prominent throughout the city.  As common as Maple, Elm and Pine trees are back home.

 One of the native flowers to the city of San Diego is the Bird of Paradise.

 

  As beautiful as these blooms are I didn’t stay around too long.  I didn’t want the thing to fly up my nose…..nor was I too crazy about an elephant caressing me with its toe’s.  Hey, the world famous San Diego Zoo is just a short distance away.  It could happen…..just ask Little Jimmy Dickens!

 After satisfying my horticultural curiosity (which took about three minutes) I spent the rest of the time watching both natives walk by and enjoying the various street performers.  One guy that fascinated me was the Rock Stacker.  This guy set up next to the breakwater the city had placed between the pedestrian walkway and the bay to prevent erosion.  He put out a small sign and a tip can and went to work.

 

  

 All these stacks were held together by gravity working with the texture of the rock.  He was very patient and worked with a focused singular purpose.  When pressed about why he did this, the Rock Stacker smiled and said in his broken English; I guess I just have rocks in my head.  I put a few dollars in his tin cup…..guess I have rocks in my head as well.

 While standing in the sunshine watching the Rock Stacker do his thing out in the bay I noticed the following inspiring sight.

 

  It is the USS Sterret DDD-104, a fine Bath, Maine built ship and one of the last Arleigh Burke class Aegis Destroyers that I worked on before retiring from Lockheed.  It was nice to see it sail majestically down the bay putting to sea for some exotic destination.  I learned later that it was actually heading up the coast to Seal Beach for ammunition on-load.  But then I bet it goes to someplace cool.  This particular ship was to be near the end of the run of 61 DDG’s.  However the US Navy couldn’t find a suitable replacement so they wisely decided to continue building them.  Great news for Bath Iron Works, Lockheed Martin, the US Navy and for America.  The Aegis Destroyer is one capable warship…..even twenty years after they were designed.

 While at Seaport Village I did have the special privilege of studying a truly fascinating species of the animal kingdom…..The Wifus Upsetus!  Using special high speed photography I was able, for the first time in history, capture its signature trait, “The Mood Swing”.

 

   

 You can verify how rapid the change occurs by noting the relative position of her sister species in the background.  I’m sure I will receive a National Geographic fellowship due to this very perceptive and ground breaking study.

 Kit’s Corner:  I can’t even remember why I was mad.  He must have done something stupid, no doubt…..

 After we left the first aid station I decided we needed to go somewhere tranquil for a while.  So off we went to the Presido.  Didn’t spend much time here as it was getting late and we were getting a bit hungry.  I wanted to take a look around as it had been about 35 years since I last visited.  The old Mission was still as majestic as I remember and the surrounding grounds were still very beautiful.

 

 Next we made our way to Old Town, which was part of the historic area of downtown.  We strolled through a few shops and then had a great Mexican meal.  One of the shops we visited was a surf shop which contained a bunch of antique surfboards and skateboards hanging from the ceiling.  The display was the personal collection of the shops owner and was worth quiet a bit of money.  The board off to the right was similar to the one I had as a kid…..it brought back a ton of memories.

 

  

 Stay tuned for Part Two of San Diego revisited!

Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit

The Bill and Kit 2010 Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #8

Bill and Kit’s 2010 Excellent Adventure 

Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares

 

The Bill and Kit 2010 Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #8

January 28 to February 5, 2010

San Diego, California

Part One

The city of San Diego lies on deep canyons seperated by mesas.  This unique geography creates a natural seperation between the 200 some distinct communities.  When we were kids back in the 1950’s most homes and businesses were located on the mesas or along the relativly flat coastline. The canyons were home to a few farmers and ranchers but otherwise were generaly left in their natural state.  The many canyons gave the city a segmented feel, creating gaps between neighborhoods so it didn’t feel like a large city…..still doesn’t.  The San Diego River runs through the middle of  the city creating an area called Mission Valley where we are camped for the week. 

The downtown portion of the city lies on San Diego Bay which is created by the Coronado peninsula and Point Loma.  The bay eventually leads to the Pacific Ocean making for a long “sea detail” for navy ships sailing from the Navy Base in the southern part of San Diego Bay.

Downtown San Diego has been restored and gentrified over the years and now is a thriving commericial, business and residential area.  It is one of the cleanest and most pedestrain friendly cities in the nation and boasts a new mass transit rail system that connects downtown with the outlying communities and the Mexican border.

In the spirit of full disclosure the above picture of downtown San Diego is a stock photo off of the internet.  I couldn’t tread water out in the bay long enough to snap a photo of my own.

 We are staying the week at Admiral Baker Field, a Navy recreation area that has picnic shelters, a campground, ball fields, tennis courts, a large swimming pool (closed for the winter?!), and what looks to be a very nice golf course with a clubhouse, restaurant and tavern.

 I remember my mom bringing my brother Don and me here to swim and picnic.  One of my proudest childhood moments was when I mustered up the courage to leap off the high dive.  Unfortunately both diving boards have been removed; probably due to our overly litigious society.  However a large water slide was put in its place.  Now let’s see parents sue because poor junior got water up his nose coming down the slide.

 We rarely make reservations for campsites.  Primarily because we are never sure exactly where we are going or when we might get there.  For the most part this method of traveling has not been a problem but occasionally we have to go into an “overflow” area.  Such was the case at Admiral Baker Field.  The “full hook-up” sites were already taken so we went to the overflow area which turned out to be a lot quieter, fairly private with a nice view of the river area.  Due to the recent rains there was plenty of water in the river and listening to it babble through the narrows was very pleasing.

 

     

 

Friday, January 29, 2010:  This morning a full hook-up site became available.  We turned it down as I had already disconnected the truck and we were perfectly content to stay where we were.  However, since we intended to stay in San Diego for a week or so and being that we would be without electric, water and sewer connections we had to get creative.  I predicted we would have plenty of water in our tank to see us through if we showered at the campground facility.  I knew from past experience that we had plenty of gray and black water holding tank capacity.  So the only issue was electrical power and since installing the second battery last year we had extended our dry camping capability to 5 days…..if we conserved.  That still left a few days where we might be short on electrical power.  So I did what any sensible male would do.  I went out and bought a machine; a Honda 2000 watt portable generator.  It’s really neat…..light weight, runs a long time on little gas and it is very quiet.  Now we are all set for our remaining time in San Diego as well as most any other dry camping opportunity that comes our way.

 While out getting the generator, Kit wanted to stop by the grocery store and pick up a few things.  So I did what I do best and stayed out of her way.  After a few laps around the parking lot I returned to my truck just as another GMC Sierra pulled up.  Seeing a kindred spirit I waved and the other guy and I stood around making small truck talk.  Then, an SUV pulled up and out came two other guys.  One was dressed in a suit and was carrying a microphone while the other was more casually dressed and wielded a camera.  They were from the local NBC affiliate channel 7 and a reporter named Bob Hansen (Consumer Bob) asked if he could interview us about distracted driving.  Even though we were heavily engaged in distracted parking we both agreed.  Of course all this commotion drew a small crowd and amongst the gathering was a young woman by the name of Jessie that excitedly proclaimed she was in San Diego as a member of the US Navy but was actually from Biddeford, Maine.  We all had a grand old time visiting and swapping stories.  Not sure if my fifteen minutes of fame actually made the evening news but it was fun thinking that it had.

 We still have some family in San Diego as well as childhood friends in addition to some newer friends from back in Maine who are now living here. 

 Two of the latter are Marie and Scott Freiberger.  I worked with Scott before my retirement and they recently relocated to San Diego to take advantage of a promotion opportunity.  Scott and Marie invited us to their very nice apartment in Mission Valley for dinner.  We had a nice visit catching up on who was doing want, discussing how well they liked San Diego and letting them know the latest news from Maine.  Marie made a great meal and Scott was in his element at the barbeque grilling the biggest steak I had ever seen.  Kit and I really enjoyed their hospitality; we had a great time with some great friends.

 

 

 Saturday, January 30, 2010:  This next morning I was out on my daily walk and decided to go up the hill to a mesa that should afford a nice view of Mission Valley.  There was indeed a great view from that lofty vantage point so I snapped the first photo and then later on, returning under a full moon, I snapped the second.  In the daylight photo you will notice our campground home at lower center of the picture.

 

   

 We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping and preparing for a special reunion coming up tomorrow.  And that evening we joined a friend from the old neighborhood Alan Clendenon and his wife Linda at a local eatery called The Islands. 

 Alan and my brother Don were best friends growing up In the Serra Mesa community of San Diego.  Serra Mesa is located just above the Qualcomm Stadium which hadn’t been built when we lived there.  Being a few years younger than us Alan and Don used to follow Kit and I around when we were “dating” and we would constantly chase them off.  I put “dating” in parentheses because we were 15, barefoot and my mode of transportation was by skateboard.  Anyway, Alan and Don joined the US Army together under the Buddy System.  Alan went to Vietnam and Don went to Alaska.  Alan returned safely to the US and Don stayed in Alaska where he created a new life for himself.  Don prematurely passed away in 1983 after living an interesting and exciting life.  Kit reconnected with Alan on Classmates.com and we enjoyed hearing his remembrances of Don and swapping tales of our teenage years while enjoying a nice meal with great company.

Sunday, January 31, 2010:  We arranged to host a family get together at the campground.  John Davies, Kit’s brother and Mary Davies, Kit’s (former) sister-in-law joined us with their daughters, Italia and Alicia and Italia’s daughter Cloie.

 

   

 Cloie is so cute she deserves her own separate picture:

 

  Kit’s Corner:  Imagine my surprise when, on Dec. 27th, just a week or so before leaving on our trip, I received an email from my sister-in-law Mary!  She had contacted me through Classmates.com.  It had been 13 years since I had seen my brother and his family.  Needless to say, I was excited to hear from her and after a few more emails and phone calls we were finally able to connect up.  It was wonderful to meet Cloie, Italia’s daughter; she’s quite a little spitfire, very friendly and eager to get to know us.  She was thrilled since this was her first “real picnic”, other than at Costco!  She played on the play equipment at the park and spent the afternoon visiting with all of us.  Quite the cutie!  Of course, we absolutely fell in love with her!

 It was wonderful getting reacquainted with my nieces, Italia and Alicia!  Both are totally delightful and lots of fun to be with.  Learning about their lives, jobs, what kinds of things they enjoy doing was quite a treat!  We’re definitely looking forward to spending more time with them. 

 Of course, seeing Mary (she has been part of our family since her early teens) and reuniting with my brother John was very special.  After so much time without contact, it felt good to reconnect with all of them, and especially to meet Cloie!  Sometimes, it takes a little time for some of us to “mellow out”, (even me)!  J  All in all, we had the most wonderful day and are looking forward to spending more time with all of them, either in San Diego, Maine or Las Vegas which they all frequent regularly for entertainment and shopping.  Thank you Mary, for sending that email!  You have no idea how much it means to us, and we love you all! 

 That evening we joined an old friend of Kit’s from high school, Susan Foster at a neat Mexican Restaurant in University City called Cozy Mel’s.

  Kit’s Corner:  Susan and I had reconnected last year while we were in San Diego.  We’ve known each other since 7th grade but lost contact in January of 1965 during our Junior Year in high school.  We too connected through Classmates.com.  It was great to see her again; we had lots of catching up to do with our families, kids, grandkids and so on.  It’s always nice to visit with her and we are hoping she will come to Maine one of these days so we can share our little corner of the world with her!      

 Stay tuned for Part Two of San Diego revisited!

Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit

The Bill and Kit 2010 Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #7

Bill and Kit’s 2010 Excellent Adventure

Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares

  

The Bill and Kit 2010 Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #7

 Tucson, Arizona, January 18 to January 27, 2010-Part Two:  While visiting Tucson we enjoyed some great Mexican Meals.  Some were homemade by Senorita Bea which were, by far, the best ever and some we enjoyed at the various restaurants that only locals know about.  Here Kit is enjoying a Sonoran Hot Dog at one of the “trucks” that set up shop in parking lots throughout Tucson. 

 This delicacy consists of a hot dog wrapped in Mesquite bacon and grilled over an open flame.  It is then bedded in a large bun with chopped tomato’s and onion’s, cotijo cheese, tomatillo salsa and pinto beans.  It is served with a side of fresh grilled jalapenos and Mexican onions.  There is a “relish bar” containing dozens of different vegetables and sauces including my favorite, pico de gallo.

Most folks believe the Sonoran Hot Dog derived its name from its birthplace of Sonora, Mexico.  However Kit proved on the way home that it really is named after the effect it has on the diner…..she was snoring all the way home.  It worked in our favor however because traffic pulled over and cleared out of our way as we motored along. 

Sunday, was our other brother Dan’s 46th birthday.  We were all invited to the hotel where he works, the Hilton El Conquistador Resort, in order to enjoy their famous breakfast buffet.  If it even loosely could be called breakfast fare it was on the menu.  We had a great time gorging ourselves and then as a special surprise to Dan all of his fellow cooks, led by the resort’s Executive Chief, surrounded our table and presented Dan with a cake and candles.  We all sang Happy Birthday to him and several of the other diners joined in as well.  And as an added treat, the resort comped our meal!  Fully satisfied we decided to stroll the beautiful grounds of the El Conquistador.

 

Back at the camper I signed on to the internet and discovered an e-mail from square dance friends’ back home.  They were in Lakeland, Florida attending a large square dance weekend and sent the following photo of a street sign they came across.

Reportedly it is on a one way street, full of pot holes and leads to a dead end.  Yea…..sounds about right. 

Kit and I attended this same dance last year and had a blast.  We decided to pass this time so we could take a more westerly track…..and, besides, it was freezing down in Florida!  We do look forward to joining our square dance friends at Winterfest in Lakeland, Florida next year however.

In downtown Tucson there are a lot of unique homes where residents have let there whimsy direct their building style.  The photos below show one such house.  Reportedly the artist homeowner has been working on the place for a number of years and in fact was busy on a section of the lower wall as we drove by.

We have been in Tucson for 8 days and although we had a blast seeing family and the sights it is time to move on.  The plan is to head west to San Diego then up to Las Vegas before returning to Tucson in about four weeks.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010:  Underway at 1000 after stopping at an RV center to dump tanks and fill a tank with propane.  We did discover in talking to one of the workers at the RV center that several celebrities keep their motor homes in storage here including BB King and Will Smith.  The latter was a totally custom unit that telescopes up making a second story.  He wouldn’t let us take a look at either unit however he did show us a $750,000.00 motor home with an attached enclosed toy hauler that belonged to a prominent Tucson citizen.  It was pretty incredible.

We headed into southern Tucson to see mom once more before leaving town.  She was tired and didn’t seem to have made much progress in the last 24 hours but her famous smile and that twinkle in her eye was working just fine.  After insuring her we would be back we got on the road once again.

Headed out of Tucson on the Ajo Highway (AZ-86) which parallels the Mexican Border and travels through a number of Indian reservations.  If you have spent any time in Indian Township up to Maine then you know how these places look.  The only real difference is cactus instead of trees.  We have noticed that the nicest American Indian communities seem to be nestled around casino’s…..must be a message there somewhere.

We noticed a number of wide spots along the road where the weary traveler could pull over for a rest.  Most featured telephone booths with the Spanish name for telephone, “Bano” on the door.  We had cell phones so didn’t need to use them.

Passed Kit Peak which had a lot of antennas and domed buildings on its summit.  Probably an observatory as there is nothing for miles around so the night sky has very little light pollution.  Put it on our Life (Bucket) List to check out next time we are in the area.

Noticed a lot of Saguaro cactus along side the road.  These icons of the American Southwest are very slow growing.  They don’t develop “arm’s” until they are 60+ years old and at 200+ years they get to there full height of about 40 feet……unless they are blown over first.

 

Entered Ajo and were stopped by another Border Patrol checkpoint:

The agents are always friendly and usually only ask if we are US citizens, where we have recently traveled and if we keep the camper door locked.  These encounters do give me the opportunity to impress them with my mastery of conversational Spanish which I learned back in junior high school.  At this station the two agents started talking Spanish to each other.  The pace was too fast for me to catch what they were saying…..the only words I caught were “gringo”, “loco” and “cabeza”. 

There was a large sign at the checkpoint that listed their results for 2009:

            3567 Immigration Arrests

            370 Criminal Arrests

            9952 Pounds of Drugs Seized

            15 DUI’s Referred to Authorities

Pretty impressive for an established checkpoint!  I wonder how successful they would have been if they went 200 feet into the desert?

We decided to hop on I-8W as it is getting late and we have no idea where we will camp tonight.  Interstate 8 has a 75 MPH speed limit…..and a bike lane!?!?  Honest!!  We headed into El Centro and stopped at the Navy Air Facility to see if they had any room at their campground….nope, full.  Then we checked a commercial campground down the street…..nope, full.  Darn Snowbirds!  By now we were running low on gas so we decided to retreat back to El Centro.  When I filled the tank I was startled to find we would have only had 1.5 gallons, or approximately 15 miles of fuel until empty.  Close call….too close.  I need to see about adding an auxiliary tank to my truck if we continue to travel these back roads in the southwest.

It is now 2230 and we are both very tired.  Kit looked up a Wal*Mart on the computer and we headed there for the night.  On the way we found a Costco and noticed about a dozen other RV travelers already in for the night, so we decided to join them.

Thursday, January 28th:  Woke to sunny skies and temperatures in the mid sixties.  We noticed that the Wal*Mart was next door and it contained another dozen or so RV’rs.  Both parking lots were level, well lit and patrolled by security.  We had a restful night and the price was certainly right!

Pulling out of Costco we decided to treat ourselves to breakfast at IHOP.  After a great meal we continued on I-8 toward San Diego.  As we neared the Navy Air Facility we noticed four planes flying in formation.  As we got closer we realized that the planes were F/A-18 Hornets and were painted with the colors of the Blue Angles.  NAF El Centro is the winter training ground for this world famous flight demonstration team.  The formation was kinda ragged so I’m guessing there were a couple of rookies in a few of the planes.

As we headed west into the Imperial Valley we noticed mile after mile of crops, irrigation canals and farm workers picking in the fields.  This climate, except for the lack of naturally occurring water is superb for growing vegetables.  The water of course is diverted from the Colorado River.

Passing through Plaster City, California we noticed a sign that said we were now at sea level…..but not for long as the Laguna Mountain range loomed ahead.  Entering the mountains we encountered an 8 percent climb and signs every 300 yards that said “Radiator Water”.  The assent seemed to go on forever and the readout on the trucks dash dipped to 4 MPG.  Finally we topped out at 4,140 feet.  From sea level to over 4,000 feet in 35 minutes and the temperature dropped 12 degrees!  This pass through the Laguna Mountains is called the Tecate Divide.  Scientists claim that beer spilled on the western slope flows to the Pacific Ocean and beer spilled on the eastern slope is quickly consumed by all the illegal’s in the area.

Dropping into San Diego we were surprised by how clear the air was.  We could actually see the ocean from the foothills of El Cajon.  In addition everything was green and lush.  Apparently they had a substantial amount of rain this winter…..a rare occurrence.  San Diego is our original hometown; both Kit and I grew up, attended high school and were married here and we still have family and many friends in the area.  Even though San Diego has fond memories for us we doubt we would ever move back.  It is a beautiful city but a bit too crowded for our liking.  How crowded?  The city of San Diego has more people than the entire state of Maine….even if you include all the moose!  As a comparison between our old hometown and our new hometown here are a few statistics I picked off the internet:

  Location    Population     Pop. Density   Avg. Temp.   Avg. Age     Precipitation

  San Diego  1,316,456     4063               70                 32               9 inches

  Brunswick  21,172          392                 56                 36               47 inches

OK….so our adopted hometown of Brunswick, Maine is colder, wetter and older, however we are content to spend most of the year there.  Now about those winters…..you know, there is a reason we head south, then west when the temperature, and snow, begin to fall.  It is said that so many retirees from Maine head to Florida for the winter that the average age in Maine lowers to thirteen until spring…..and Florida’s average age increases to one hundred and seven.

We tried Florida last year for a few weeks…..it was warm, nice and featured a lot of activities and attractions to keep one busy.  However since some of our family lives west and since we personally like the weather and terrain of the southwest we choose to winter over here.   I hope the East Coast Retiree Relocation board doesn’t get wind of our escaping.  There is apparently a requirement that all Mainer’s over the age of 62 must move to Florida for the winter.

Anyway…..lost in thought about all the above we drove through the city of El Cajon toward Mission Valley.  We pulled into Admiral Baker Field in Mission Gorge around noon where we plan on staying for the next week or so. 

Kit’s Corner:  That Sonoran hot dog was yummy!!!  I could have eaten a couple more but decided against it.  Camping in Tucson, especially at Dewey & Bea’s place is delightful!  The company is great, the weather is great and it’s good to be with family.  Coming over the Laguna Mountains into SD was so nice and clear.  I always forget how beautiful it is here till we return.  Of course, it’s crowded but just seeing the ocean, the hills and valleys brings me back to when I was a kid. 

Stay tuned for more stories of Bill and Kit in Retireeville!

Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit

The Bill and Kit 2010 Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #6

 Bill and Kit’s 2010 Excellent Adventure

Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares

 

 The Bill and Kit 2010 Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #6

 Tucson, Arizona, January 18 to January 27, 2010-Part One:  OK, most figured out that the Doobie RV Resort and Riparian Desert Oasis is really the home of my bruzzin Dewey (Dew) and my bruzzin–in-law, Beatrice (Bea).  It is however a very nice and a very inexpensive place to stay:

 

 These great folks always make us feel welcome; we have a lot in common and have a great time together.  In addition they have been the primary local contact for most issues concerning my mom…..from monitoring her medical needs to taking her to appointments and on various outings.  In addition they always include her in their holiday celebrations.  We have really been thankful they are in Tucson and that they have willingly and lovingly taken care of all the “heavy lifting” concerning my mom’s care.

 What’s a “bruzzin” you ask?  Well, um…..funny you should ask.  A bruzzin is the result of my mom marrying my uncle so my cousin became my stepbrother and then my mom divorced my uncle so my step brother became my cousin again but that seemed kinda impersonal so we decided to call each other bruzzin’s.  Now, aren’t you sorry you asked?  And, uh…..oh by the way, I have a “bruncle” as well…..but that gets really complicated.  Here is a picture of the happy couple……yep they are the Desert Rat’s that they appear. 

 There are three other residents of the home; Sammy, Max and Nile.

    

 Yep, they too are the Desert Rats, um…..Dogs that they appear.

 The first morning when we signed on the internet a Winter Weather Advisory banner was scrolling across the screen.  We smugly dismissed it because we were in Arizona.  Then we realized it was the Tucson Weather report we were looking at!  Yikes!!  Reading further we learned that it was for blizzard conditions with up to 20 inches of show.  Double Yikes!!  Reading still further we learned it was only for elevations above 7,000 feet…..Tucson sits at 2,380 feet.  Whew!

 We visited mom most days and were pleased to see small but consistent progress toward recovery from her stroke.  The prognosis is that she will stay at the skilled nursing facility for a few more weeks and then return to her room at the Adult Care Home.  She is still weak, can walk a short distance with assistance and in pretty good spirits.  Here she is laughing at one of my dumb jokes:

 

 Dew and Bea invited me to join them on a hike up Sabino Canyon in the Coronado National Forest.  They were nice enough to let me lead as we hiked down the trail.  However it not so suddenly came to me that they invited me along as bait as they were hunting snakes for Rattlesnake Taco’s.  Fortunately we didn’t encounter any.

 Arizona, like Maine, has problems with invasive species of plants taking root and squeezing out the native plants.  In Sabino Canyon, one unusual invasive plant that has taken root along the riparian corridor of the river is Watermelon…..hum, wonder how they got there?

 It was a nice day but we still worked up a sweat and went through a bit of water.  Fortunately there were plenty of Barrel Cactus and Aqueous Rocks around to tap and draw water from.  However, only if you know what you’re doing…..not all rocks or cactus are safe to drink from.  One should only tap those that they are sure contain potable water…..such as the one below. 

 

 There has been a lot of rain in the area recently and combined with the snow in the higher elevations, a lot of trails were impassable due to high water.  Even the bridges over the Sabino River were under a foot of water:

 

 A really nice day, sunny and cool…..perfect for a hike in the mountains.

 Speaking of mountains, Tucson is surrounded by them.  There are the Santa Catalina’s, the Rincon’s, the Santa Rita’s, the Tucson’s and the Tortolita’s.  The highest peak at 9,453 feet is Mount Wrightson which gets up to 180 inches of snow a year.  Mount Lemon in the Santa Catalina’s at 9,174 feet boosts a thriving ski area….yep, in Arizona!  As you drive around Tucson the various mountain ranges are constantly in the background.  At times it feels like you can reach out and touch them, which I wouldn’t advise because, after all, you are driving.

 

  

   

Stay tuned for part two of Fun in the Sun in Tucson,

 Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit