Bill and Kit’s 2016 Excellent Adventure, Journal #15

Bill and Kit's Woody and Airstream-2015Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God

Kurt Vonnegut

 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016:  Over the last couple of days, Del Mar Beach RV Resort in Oceanside, California has morphed into a nearly deserted campground.

2016-04-04, Seabreeze, Photo #0-2

Spring break in Southern California is over and all the poor souls that need to return to work and/or school have done so.

Overnight, the wind picked up off the ocean and the shifting sands has eroded the support used by the camper’s jack pad’s and chocks.

2016-04-04, Seabreeze, Photo #0-1

The camper bounced about a bit, however, as far as I can tell, didn’t move from its position.  All four tires, and all the leveling jack pads suffered severe erosion…so much so that there was just a small contact patch remaining!?!?

Following a lazy morning of re-leveling the camper, downloading photos, catching up on correspondence, and working on the journal, Kit and I departed our oceanfront campsite at 1115 and headed North.

2016-04-04, Seabreeze, Photo #0-3

We didn’t travel far before reaching our next destination…one we haven’t spent much time in over the years, the Seal Beach/Long Beach area just south of Los Angeles.  At 1310, we pulled into the Naval Weapons Station at Seal Beach and set up in their very nice campground.

2016-04-04, Seabreeze, Photo #24

One administrative note that I should mention, we just purchased a new laptop and installed Windows 360 so if the blog looks different that is the reason.  Our six-year-old laptops were still functionally working, however following the conversion to Windows 10, and the application updates that resulted, the processor which wasn’t very fast to begin with, slowed down dramatically.  In addition, the power supply’s cooling fan was starting to make noises like I do first thing in the morning…not good!

After a nice light meal followed by a session in the camping chairs with cocktails in hand while we enjoyed the warm spring evening it was off to bed.

 

Thursday, March 31 through Sunday, April 3, 2016-Seal Beach, California:  Kit and I spent the three days in Seal Beach exploring and enjoying some of the sights.  One day, while driving through neighboring Long Beach, we came to this interesting modification to a city street.

2016-04-04, Seabreeze, Photo #2

Yep, those are race car tires stacked to our left.  Knowing that Long Beach was renowned for one of the venues of the Grand Prix race circuit, I thought they may be setting up for that…but it seemed a bit early in the season.  Then, a short distance further down, the street converted to a race track, we came across this unusual looking vehicle.

2016-04-04, Seabreeze, Photo #3

That folks, is an all-electric race car that competes in Formula E.  This relatively new form of auto racing precedes the Long Beach Grand Prix by a week and features high performance racing machines that run solely on electric motors. Pit stops in Formula E are unique as instead of taking on fuel, changing tires and making suspension adjustments, the drivers simply step out of the battery depleted car, and right into a fresh one!  The zero to sixty mile per hour times are around 3 seconds, and the cars top out at 140 MPH.  Formula E folks race on the same track built on the host cities streets as the Grand Prix folks do.

2016-04-04, Seabreeze, Photo #5

As I continued down the main drag (pun intended) of Long Beach I had an uncontrollable urge to let our one-ton diesel rip!

Long Beach used to be the home of a Naval Shipyard where my San Diego based tin-can underwent a baseline overhaul before being deployed to the Far East.   The shipyard is gone…it has been turned into a huge containership port and is also the current home of this grand old British lady.

2016-04-04, Seabreeze, Photo #6

The Queen Mary sailed the Atlantic primarily between Southampton, England and New York City for close to thirty years, and for over half that time she was the fastest ocean liner afloat.

2016-04-04, Seabreeze, Photo #18

Originally, the Queen Mary was to be named Victoria after an earlier monarch…however during construction, and following a depression era government bailout, the name was changed at the urging of the King George V to honor his wife, the current Queen of England.

Along with her sister ship, the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mary served during World War II as an allied troop transport.  Being painted haze grey, and faster than the German U-boats, she became known as “The Grey Ghost”.  Although built to carry 2,800 passengers and crew during peacetime, the Queen Mary in 1942 ferried 16,028 American servicemen to the European Theater…a record for personnel transport by ocean that stands to this day.  Following the war, these two British ships were the most popular vessels for transoceanic travel until the jet age when both were retired.

The Port of Long Beach outbid a Japanese scrap merchant and acquired the Queen Mary for $1,200,000.00 after which she steamed to California where she was converted into her current state as a floating hotel, restaurant and museum complex.

Currently, there is a special exhibit featured onboard which Kit and I thoroughly enjoyed.

2016-04-04, Seabreeze, Photo #8

In addition to a very nice tribute to Diana, including a number of her personal items being on display, there was a chronological history of the British Monarchy which was interesting as well.

As in many modern tours, a portable audio device is available that provides for self-guided tours where one hears, by using the supplied headset, information about the various areas of the ship such as the bridge.

2016-04-04, Seabreeze, Photo #12

This space, also known as a pilot house, contains the helm where the ship is steered and the lee-helm where engine orders are issued to control ships speed.

The tour also takes folks to the engineering spaces, where the steam turbines, reduction gear and shaft are visible.

2016-04-04, Seabreeze, Photo #15

There is also one of the massive twenty foot propellers available for viewing…preserved in a unique fresh water filled enclosure welded to the side of the ship!

2016-04-04, Seabreeze, Photo #16

The tour also leads through the passageways housing the passenger compartments which are available for overnight stays.

2016-04-04, Seabreeze, Photo #14

In the stern, is a 4D theater shows various films with visual, audio, sensory and physical effects that are timed to enhance the film…and you get to wear some really hip looking eyewear to boot!

2016-04-04, Seabreeze, Photo #17

For a late lunch, Kit and I decided to dine onboard and selected the Chelsea Chowder House on the main deck.

2016-04-04, Seabreeze, Photo #10

While I enjoyed a steak burger, Kit chose the Salmon Salad, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

2016-04-04, Seabreeze, Photo #11

From our table, we had an excellent view of the Long Beach waterfront.

2016-04-04, Seabreeze, Photo #7

Boy, has the Port of Long Beach changed since I was here last!

Following a great day, Kit and I returned to the campsite and enjoyed snacks under the awning while watching the sun drop into the western horizon.

2016-04-04, Seabreeze, Photo #21

Tomorrow we officially start heading home as we will finally point our rig into the rising sun!

 

Monday, April 4, 2016:  Up and on the road by mid-morning.  Kit and I wound our way through the city streets of Seal Beach while contending with LA influenced traffic until we merge onto I-15N as the traffic moderated.

2016-04-06, Las Vegas #2, Photo #2

Our return path from these winter escapes have taken many different forms.  Sometimes we stay far south and travel either I-10 or US-90 until we hit the Atlantic Ocean where we head up the coast toward home.  In other years we choose I-40 and travel through the Midwest, then meander up the Blue Ridge Parkway. Then there are times where I-70 through the Rocky Mountains and the Kansas plains toward points east is our route.  Or, sometimes we select I-80 out of Salt Lake City, drive through the upper Midwest, then move into Canada for the return trip.  And if we find ourselves in the Pacific Northwest, we will hop on I-90/I-94 and sail through Montana, the Dakota’s and head into Canada from there.

However, last night we had a discussion and decided we wanted to spend time in Southern Utah, an area we haven’t been in for a few years.  So, I-15 through Las Vegas toward Springdale, Utah is our current path…and guess who lives in Vegas baby?  Yep, grandkids!!

As the day wore on, we bisected the Mojave Desert and the temperature rose correspondingly.  Passing through Barstow, Kit noticed a reading of 91 degrees on the huge roadside thermometer the town is so proud of.

2016-04-06, Las Vegas #2, Photo #3

Well, as the saying goes: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of Barstow”!  So we did.

We crossed the border into Nevada at 1520 and just outside of the city of Las Vegas, we spotted this delivery truck.

2016-04-08, Zion NP, Photo #1

Yep, another truckload of Bimbo’s heading for the glitzy Vegas strip!

A half hour later found us pulling into Oasis RV Resort…a place we have camped many times before.  Unhitching the camper, we headed to our daughter’s house with pizza’s in hand for a spontaneous drop-in visit…. boy were Jack and Tucker surprised!

Since it was a warm evening, we enjoyed the meal on their patio.

2016-04-06, Las Vegas #2, Photo #6

Followed by birthday cupcakes which were good, but got a bit messy!

2016-04-06, Las Vegas #2, Photo #7

Since it was a school night, we left early and arranged to host the boys at the campground tomorrow afternoon.

 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016-Las Vegas, Nevada:  Kit and I spent the morning just relaxing around the park and the afternoon doing some shopping.  At 1500 Kevin arrived (on his way to work) with the boy’s and a few minutes later we were in the pool!

2016-04-06, Las Vegas #2, Photo #9

Kit prepared an excellent kid friendly dinner after which it was right back to the pool.  Well, until the sun dropped and the wrinkles began to set in!

2016-04-06, Las Vegas #2, Photo #10

At 2030, Suzie stopped (on her way home from work) to pick up the boys, so we reluctantly said our goodbyes.

This had been an unplanned but very pleasant layover but tomorrow Kit and I must continue heading east as we are anxious to see our three Maine grandchildren which include Joe, age 23 and his longtime girlfriend Abby, age 22.

Abby and Joe-2015

Also Katie, age 20 and her brother Chris, age 16.

Katie and CJ-2015

As much as Kit and I love traveling about the country for six months straight, we sure do miss family back home.  Can’t wait to see you guys…love you!

 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016:  Up fairly early and on the road toward the east.

2016-04-08, Zion NP, Photo #2

We clipped a corner of Arizona before crossing the Utah border at 1120 and entering the Mountain Time Zone…Yikes, we just lost an hour!?!?  This could be an issue as we want to camp at Zion National Park for a few days, and the campground is first come first served, so the earlier we arrive the better chance we have of bagging a campsite.  We thought we were making pretty good time and the GPS had us at the park’s entrance at 1200…then came the change to Standard Mountain Time, and the loss of that advantage, rut-ro!

Veering off I-15 onto UT-9 we headed into the mountains and started noticing the iconic red rock formations of Southern Utah.

2016-04-08, Zion NP, Photo #3

Driving through the gateway town of Springdale, Kit and I waited patiently in line to enter the park.

2016-04-08, Zion NP, Photo #17a

Flashing our old folks cards, we headed to the campground where Kit spotted a sign that read “Campground Full”!  However, a small piece of paper attached to the sign said that site #9 and #28 may be available soon.  Without even stopping, we drove in and found site #28 empty.  As we were backing in, another camper stopped to check it out…we had just barely made it in time!  Road magic strikes once again!!

2016-04-08, Zion NP, Photo #15

Today marks the third time we have checked Zion off our bucket list…can you tell it’s one of our favorite National Parks?  Can you also tell why?

2016-04-08, Zion NP, Photo #4

Please look for the next episode of Bill and Kit’s Excellent Adventure…Camping in Paradise.  But first, a few additional items to fill out the rest of this chapter.

As mentioned in the past, Kit keeps a pretty detailed record of our travels in a spiral notebook.  Then, when the mood strikes me, I’ll take those notes and write the Journal.  We use a new notebook every year as it fills up fast…there are lots of detailed notes about various campgrounds, points of interest, shopping lists, random thoughts, etc. etc. contained on the pages.  Below is this year’s notebook.

2016-04-06

This is my favorite notebook so far!  For one, I like all things bicycling, and for another, I love the sentiment in the quote!

Well, since I still have a little space remaining in my self-imposed journal length, here is some information on a new truck gadget we acquired a while back.

Edge CTS2

It’s an in-cab monitor that displays various engine parameters.  The device plugs into the OBDII port and features customizable screens and display options.  Most modern engines constantly run diagnostic checks as we merrily drive along.  Then if something is out of specifications, or fails, a warning light will illuminate on the dash.  With this monitor, the driver receives a constant readout of the engines health.  I like that…I’m funny that way!  Well, actually, I’m funny in a lot of ways!!

That last paragraph hit the twenty page mark according to MS Word, so that we will brings this episode to a close.  Kit and I are really looking forward to the next few days in one of our favorite National Parks…stay tuned!

Kit’s Bit’s:  Well yes, he IS funny in a LOT of ways!  What can I say?  Being “bound at the hip” for six months straight, you learn a lot about your spouse that you never knew, even after 50 years!  Such as being so tuned in to the workings of an engine!  Now, if he spent 1% of that effort being tuned in to “me” we might avoid our (now) occasional blow ups.  Fortunately, now that I’m older and have less energy, we have a lot fewer blow ups than we had in the early years.  However, I’ve never quite understood how he can be so tuned in to an engine and can’t even hear the change in my tone of voice.  J  PS I really enjoyed touring the Queen Mary, it’s been on my bucket list for many years.  Best thing though was surprising Jack and Tucker for one more short visit.  Also, anxious to get back to our Maine family.  Stay tuned for next journal, exiting things coming…

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Bill and Kit’s 2016 Excellent Adventure, Journal #14

Bill and Kit's Woody and Airstream-2015The concept of time, as it’s commonly understood by normal people with normal jobs and normal lives, doesn’t exist on the road. You never really know where you are or what time it is, and the outside world starts to fade away.

Tiffanie DeBartolo

 

Thursday, March 17 through Wednesday, March 29, 2016-Del Mar Beach, Oceanside California: The first few days at our beachfront campsite was spent establishing camp.  We put out our table, set up the barbeque, brought out the camp and beach chairs, and even deployed the awning…basically setting up for the long haul, a task we seldom bother with if only staying a few days.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #33

Then Kit and I laid in a ton of groceries and readied the camper for these two munchkins.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #1

Suzie made the six-hour drive in from Las Vegas to deliver Jack, age 11 and Tucker, age 9 to us for their week of spring break.  It was great seeing Suzie, if even only briefly, but we are really looking forward to enjoying the company of the boys over the next six days!

Prior to their arrival, Kit and I made a list of all the fun kid things to do in Southern California, not the least of which is Disneyland.  However, the morning of their arrival, we decided to take que’s from them as to how they wanted to spend their vacation.  Well, as it turns out, Jack and Tucker pretty much just wanted to hang out at the beach!

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #12

This desire of inland folks to capitalize on the beautiful Southern California beaches used to be a strange phenomenon to us back when we lived here as we kind of just took the beach for granted.  As a young lad, I remember my buddy Rodney would host his Kansas cousins every summer and all they wanted to do was hang out at the beach…at one point, I asked them what was so special about the beach, didn’t they have an ocean where they lived?

Early on, we took Jack and Tucker to the Marine Corps Exchange and had them pick out some beach toys, including a couple of Boogie Boards.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #13

Which they were tentative with at first, but soon got the hang of it and were out riding the shore break with the rest of the boarders.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #22

Even though it wasn’t Disneyland, there were many attractions the boys found interesting onboard the Marine Corps base.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #20

They had a blast chasing the Marines driving their AmTrac’s down the road and out onto the beach.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #21

Camp Pendleton at 125,000 acres, is the home of the Marine Expeditionary Force and the training center for the Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV), a 27 ton armored vehicle that can carry up to 20 combat ready marines.  The AAV is the only armored tacked vehicle that can operate on both land and water and these behemoths rumbling by at 0800 hours was a real thrill for the boys.

Jack and Tucker spent most every day in the water riding the surf on their boogie boards.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #14

Or digging in the sand until the sun sank into the ocean.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #10

An activity they enjoyed by moonlight long after dark.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #19

Another nighttime activity was the making of s’mores over a raging campfire.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #34

Followed by sitting around the warmth of the fire and discussing random thoughts as the cool damp air enveloped the campground.

Sand control was a lost cause as you can tell by this close-up of Jack.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #36

This stay with us was the only time in history that the boys willingly climbed into the warm shower before going to bed!

Early on, I taught each of them each the enjoyable pastime of Performance Kite Flying and they took to it like pros.

Jack enjoyed flying the traction kites.  When the breeze picked up, and if he flew it into the center of the wind envelope, the kite would drag his skinny butt down the beach!

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #23

They both spent hours flying a variety of kites…. below, Tucker is flying a medium sized Delta Kite to which I attached a fifty-foot tail.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #16

Notice the intense concentration on his face as he performs spins and loops the tail into a tight spiral.

Kit took on the food responsibility and I assumed the lifeguard and activities director roles.  At the end of the day, it’s hard to say who was the most tired, but generally Jack and Tucker barely finished dinner before crawling into their sleeping bags for the evening.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #35

On occasion, the boys would hook up with other beach bums on spring break and share an on-the-go meal before resuming their activities.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #29

One of their favorite endeavors was the construction of large sand castles, built with protective moats surrounding them for protection from the relentless tides.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #15

As hard as they tried, Jack and Tucker couldn’t protect their efforts.  Every morning they would race down to the tideline and see nothing but smooth sand, seaweed, and shells.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #44

One of the beach toys we purchased was a Beach Bocce Ball set and we all participated in a number of competitive games.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #37

This sport is a huge fad out here on the left coast.  Although intended for play in sand, one could derive just as much enjoyment from playing on grass as well.

The boys developed a unique way to carry the bocce balls out to a safe area on the beach to commence the game.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #48

Yea, it’s OK to giggle…I thought it was pretty funny as well!

Even though we had read the official rules that came with the set, we made up a number of additional ones…it was more fun that way!

One day, we were able to pry the boys away from the beach and headed inland to explore some more features of this sprawling Marine Corps base.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #50

We located Lake O’Neill…a fresh water reservoir that features boating, fishing and borders a very nice campground.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #51

There are actually three campgrounds on Camp Pendleton, the one we are currently enjoying, this lakeside one, and a third twenty miles to the north called San Onofre…yep, the base is that large!

Stopping for lunch at a Johnny Rockets, Jack and Tucker spotted an opportunity to try out a rather unique mode of transportation.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #53

No helmets required as this was a very safe bicycle, there only complaint that the saddle was a bit uncomfortable.

On the way back to the campground, we visited the Marine Corps Mechanized Museum.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #27

Which features dozens of wheeled and tracked vehicles in the collection, some from earlier skirmishes.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #54

And others, more recent veterans from the current Middle East conflict.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #55JPG

The week came to a close all too soon when their father, Kevin came to pick them up.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #47

After saying our goodbyes, Kit and I spent afternoon watching the sunset and reminiscing about the great time we enjoyed with Jack and Tucker on Del Mar Beach.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #38

We miss you guys!

We had a few more days in Oceanside so Kit and I decided to head down to San Diego and visit some old friends.

Angie and Carl were our surrogate parents when we lived in the Clairemont neighborhood. As a retired Navy Chief, Carl helped us many times, especially when we were stressed a bit with the raising of children in the 1970’s.

Bill and Carl

And, Angie befriended Kit which helped considerably when I was away on my Navy duties or attending college courses I needed for advancement.

Kit and Angie

They were great friends, great neighbors and great mentors.

Directly across from their home, our former place is still standing, albeit a bit tumbled down looking after forty years as a rental unit.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #42

Both Carl and Angie, well into their nineties, have been battling health issues, but so far, they live in their home with a little help from visiting nurses.  It was great seeing them and reminiscing about old times!

On other days at Del Mar Beach, Kit and I would walk the shoreline and pick up the occasional shell, sand dollar, or unusual rock.  It was during these strolls that we would notice the varied sea birds about of which the largest number were flocks of seagulls.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #49

But there was also the majestic pelican soaring overhead.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #4

And there were many military birds flying up and down the beach.

2016-03-17, ABF #3, Photo #11

Then, there was this contraption.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #40

That paraglider had to be piloted by a US Marine as I’m sure it would have been intercepted had it been a citizen violating military airspace.

I have often said that a snapshot dubber like me can always take an acceptable sunset photo, especially if it’s across a body of water.  It is so easy to attain good results, that I will usually grab a few photo’s every night and the law of probability dictates that there will occasionally be an acceptable image.  However, most of the credit goes to the brilliant colors bouncing around a dramatic sky and the fact that every sunset is different.

Such as the Marmalade Skies produced by the sun peeking under a cloud bank just before it extinguishes itself in the Pacific.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #17

Or the dramatic masking of a brilliant sun by an approaching storm front.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #8

And the everyday, garden variety, clear sky sunset.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #46

Then there are special evenings when all the atmospheric aberrations come together and create a masterpiece.

2016-03-29, Del Mar Beach, Photo #41

Nothing else need be said except goodnight from Oceanside, California!

Kit’s Bit’s: We were so fortunate to have been able to spend a full week with Jack & Tucker, during their Spring Break.  They had so much fun doing all the fun things outside, they hardly spent any time indoors.  Imagine our surprise when we discovered that they had little or no desire to spend time on their iPads!  Tucker didn’t even bring his and Jack hardly used his at all.  They must be “outgrowing” them. They both seemed to enjoy the entire time with us, but were happy when Dad showed up to take them home.  It’s all about making memories with the Grands!

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Bill and Kit’s 2016 Excellent Adventure, Journal #13

Bill and Kit's Woody and Airstream-2015If you don’t know where you are going, any road will lead you there.

Unknown

 

Tuesday, February 23 through Tuesday, March 1, 2016-Potrero, California-Part #2: We only spent 7 days here at Potrero, but we enjoyed the park and the experiences we had overflowed my self-imposed journal length of 20 pages on the previous episode, so this issue begins with the rest of the story!

Kit and I have a very good friend from our childhood days that resides with his wife in Mexico, a short hop across the border from where we are camped……and one day, they invited us south for a visit!

2016-03-02, Potrero #2, Photo #5

Rodney and Gloria live in the small Baja California town of Tecate…..yep, that Tecate!

2016-03-02, Potrero #2, Photo #4

A premium beer, Tecate has been brewed in this town since 1943 and is credited with starting the lime in the beer craze of the past few decades.  As the story goes, British sailors during the days of sail where given lime wedges with their daily ration of grog to stave off scurvy…..and the combination of flavors endured.  So the founders of Tecate Beer started recommending their bartenders try this pairing with modern sailors that visited from the Navy Port of San Diego, and so the “lime in a beer fad” began!

Rodney and Gloria reside in a compound that Gloria inherited from her parents, and has been in the family for generations.

2016-03-02, Potrero #2, Photo #2

It consists of four nice homes surrounded by an attractive wall and covers on most of the city block.  Over the year the compound has been lovingly restored by Rod and Gloria.

2016-03-02, Potrero #2, Photo #3

Gloria was born in one of the homes as was her 100-year-old mother Minga, who still resides in a casita on the family compound.

Gloria and Mom

Rod and Gloria treated Kit and I to a tour of Tecate.  A town of 65,000 that is far more authentic then most border towns we have experienced.

2016-03-02, Potrero #2, Photo #7

Absent are the many tourist shops selling Mexican souvenirs made in China and the rows of seedy bars…..in fact I didn’t see one donkey sporting a sombrero waiting for a tourist photo opportunity in the entire city!  However, there is a very pleasant town square, complete with old retired guys playing chess!

2016-03-02, Potrero #2, Photo #6

The tour included a famous shop that sells authentic Mexican made piñata’s, with everything one would want to fill them with.

2016-03-02, Potrero #2, Photo #10

They then treated us to lunch at a very nice restaurant that was owned by a friend of Gloria’s from her childhood days.

2016-03-02, Potrero #2, Photo #11

I enjoyed Carne Asada with two enchiladas’, beans and rice…..it was incredible!

2016-03-02, Potrero #2, Photo #12

For desert, we visited another of Rodney and Gloria’s favorite places for Paletas, a delicious frozen dessert.

2016-03-02, Potrero #2, Photo #8a

I selected a Neapolitan Paleta, and it featured a very good, but intense flavor…..one could make a meal out of these things!

2016-03-02, Potrero #2, Photo #9

In Tecate, Rodney explained that property rights and zoning laws are far different then in the U.S.  And differ still depending who is in power and who has the most influence with those with more power.  There have been cases where a neighbor has cantilevered his home addition into the airspace of his abutting neighbor!  And got away with it, because well…..no one in Mexico can lay claim to the air above their land!?!?

Then there was the example we stumbled upon while walking about town.  Apparently if you have a gated driveway, and you buy a longer truck, and if you have influence, then it’s perfectly acceptable to extend your gate onto the public sidewalk!

2016-03-02, Potrero #2, Photo #14

We had a great time visiting with Gloria and Rodney in their home and experiencing their nice hometown…..but getting late, it was time for us to head back north of the border.  So, Rod walked with us along the infamous fence that separates the two countries.

2016-03-02, Potrero #2, Photo #15

It’s kinda sad that a barrier fence exists on the southern U.S. Border….no such fence separates the U.S. from Canada!  In fact, there are towns in Northern Maine that share the border with their Canadian neighboring town, and there is very little restriction to movement back and forth!

Rod, bid us farewell at the Port of Entry, while Kit and I fumbled for our passports as we stepped over the man-made line of demarcation that defines what belongs to America and what belongs to Mexico.

2016-03-02, Potrero #2, Photo #16

We had a great time in Mexico, seeing the sights and visiting with some great friends…..thanks guys!

Potrero Regional Park has become one of our favorite municipal campgrounds.  In addition to the many attributes previously mentioned, there is a nice field for kite flying!

2016-03-02, Potrero #2, Photo #18

Even though we are 40 miles from the coastal sea breezes, the winds were quite good for flying a few of my smaller kites.

Well, tomorrow we continue our camping tour of San Diego County.  After a nice meal and a few cocktails, Kit and I relaxed outside as the sun set over the Laguna Mountains.

2016-03-02, Potrero #2, Photo #19

Good night!

 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016:  It is sunny and 75 this morning as Kit and I head west on CA-94 to Jamul before jumping to Otay Lakes Road toward the San Diego County town of Bonita.

2016-03-04, Sweetwater #1, Photo #1

And finding our way to Sweetwater Summit Regional Park, we checked in, selected a site and set up camp for a week’s stay as the sun set to the west.

2016-03-04, Sweetwater #1, Photo #3

 

Tuesday, March 3, through Tuesday, March 8, 2016-Bonita, California:  The town of Bonita is located to the southeast of downtown San Diego and is where my family lived in at an old farm house when I was a mere five years old. I remember back then riding a big yellow school bus spewing diesel exhaust fumes as I made my way to kindergarten.  Funny, how various sights, sound or smells will transport one to an earlier time…..for me the sound and smell of a diesel engine takes me right back to that era.  The farm had been a rather successful chicken growing operation judging by the multiple rows of low coops that my brother and I used as our playground.  A very old house by San Diego standards, there was an out of commission outhouse on the property but the “indoor plumbing” was housed in an addition stuck on the back of the place.

The campground at Sweetwater Summit Regional Park was well laid out with large sites spaced a nice distance apart.  The park was very nicely landscaped and was kept looking tidy by the help of young inmates from the San Diego jail.

2016-03-04, Sweetwater #1, Photo #5

While in the area we wanted to visit with some folks that had moved here from Maine.  We arranged to meet up with Scott and Marie at a nice Asian restaurant close to their home, and when we walked in Kit and I were pleasantly surprised that their daughter, Libby was able to join us as well!

2016-03-09, Sweetwater #2, Photo #5

Scott and I worked together for Lockheed at Bath Iron Works testing the new construction Arleigh Burke Aegis destroyers that were being built at the yard.  As the program was coming to a close, Scott took a management position with Lockheed here in San Diego, overseeing the modernization of the earlier generation Aegis ships.  Marie is the family CEO and works hard at making a life for her family in their beautiful hillside home.  Libby works in Los Angeles as a fashion designer and will most certainly have her designs on the worlds runways in the near future.

Following a great meal, and even better conversation, Scott and Marie invited us back to their beautiful home for dessert and coffee.

2016-03-09, Sweetwater #2, Photo #6

Where they enjoy an incredible view of downtown San Diego, the bay, and on a clear day, the Pacific Ocean beyond.

2016-03-09, Sweetwater #2, Photo #7

Thanks, folks for taking time to spend with us….we had a blast!

Kit and I spent a considerable amount of time just hanging around the campsite and enjoying the features of Sweetwater Summit Park, one of which was an incredible multi-use trail system.

2016-03-09, Sweetwater #2, Photo #3

Where I went out on my bike a number of times during our stay, to explore the countryside.

2016-03-04, Sweetwater #1, Photo #14

At times, combining it with Geocaching, where I located the below wedding cache.

2016-03-04, Sweetwater #1, Photo #12

However, ever mindful of the many signs posted alongside the trail, I keep a constant vigil for slithering critters.

2016-03-09, Sweetwater #2, Photo #10

Good thing as I almost ran over this fellow!

2016-03-04, Sweetwater #1, Photo #11

When I noticed him/her (I didn’t bother to look!) he/she was stretched out across the trail almost taking up the entire width.  Initially thinking it must be a stick in the way, I was preparing to roll over it then the stick moved!  I came to a sliding panic stop about 3 feet away…..notice my tire tread in the photo above?  I quickly started pushing the bike back while straddling the cross bar…..must have been a funny sight!  Before I could un-holster my camera, the Diamond Back, made a U-turn and started to retreat into the trailside underbrush.  Guess my geocaching is over in that area for today!

We also took a number of walks about the campground…..it’s always fun to see where folks are from and what type of rig they are using to RV with.  A popular option out here in the west is the Class A (think bus) motorhome, some of which exceed seven figures. ­­ And most of these rigs tow small car or truck (called a “toad” in the RV vernacular) as a get-a-round vehicle when camped.  Over the years we have seen folks tow basic sedans, or a small truck or jeep, and some tow fancy sports cars in enclosed trailers, then there are a few who tow a classic car or hot rod, like these folks!

2016-03-04, Sweetwater #1, Photo #7

Yep, that’s a 1957 Chevrolet Nomad and it’s powered by a modern Corvette engine and drivetrain, and it sounds mean!

Being close to the Navy base at 32nd Street Kit and I took advantage of the shopping opportunities to re-provision and browse about a bit.  Kit’s penchant for shopping exceeds my tolerance level, so frequently I walk about the area while she walks about the store.  Nearing the shipyard as the sun was setting I snapped this interesting composition.

2016-03-04, Sweetwater #1, Photo #6

I’ve often thought that a sunset enhances an otherwise mundane object or landscape, and the above photo goes to prove that point.  Even a gritty industrial scene can take on a magical quality when being back-illuminated by the sun.

On one nice warm day, Kit and I decided to explore the southern coastal border of San Diego County.  Our first stop was at the aptly called Border Field State Park.

2016-03-09, Sweetwater #2, Photo #14

Sitting hard on the Mexican border and paralleling the Tijuana Slough, a great surf break back in the day…..if you didn’t mind the raw sewage coming down the Tijuana River.  Today it has been cleaned up and houses an international wildlife sanctuary.

The trail to the beach was impassable due to the effects of the recent high tides, so Kit and I stayed within the park and enjoyed some of the art worked affixed to the fence by local schoolchildren using mostly found items along the beach.

2016-03-09, Sweetwater #2, Photo #15b

Next, we drove north up the Silver Strand and stopped at one of our other favorite camping opportunities in the area, Fiddlers Cove Navy Marina and RV Park.

2016-03-09, Sweetwater #2, Photo #19

In addition to a nice marina with a variety of powered, sail, and paddling watercraft for rent, this is one of the nicest military campgrounds in the system and the view across San Diego Bay and beyond is incredible.

2016-03-09, Sweetwater #2, Photo #18

OK, I slipped a Navy ship in there…..so, what did you expect?

We have only been able to score a stay once in the past eight years, as folks queue up to make reservations a year in advance and we just don’t plan that far ahead…..actually planning a day ahead is a stretch for us!

Continuing up The Strand, we entered the town of Coronado, home of the iconic Hotel Del Coronado.

2016-03-09, Sweetwater #2, Photo #21

While Kit engaged in some “Retail Therapy”, I grabbed a few kites and headed to the beach.

2016-03-09, Sweetwater #2, Photo #20

As I stepped onto the sand, I noticed the usual signs about safety and littering, but there was a restriction posted that was new to me, “no kite flying”.  What the…..Drat!  Trying to decipher the rational for this seemingly ridiculous regulation I was intercepted by a number of low flying US Navy helicopters heading over the beach toward North Island Naval Air Station.

So, tucking the kites under my arm I walked the length of the beach to see what I could find……that was when I came upon this item of nautical necessity!

2016-03-09, Sweetwater #2, Photo #22

That folks, is a six inch mooring line from a rather large vessel, possibly a US Navy warship!  Some skipper is gonna be upset when he maneuvers his destroyer alongside the pier and is minus one mooring line!

Later in the afternoon, I met Kit at the Islander Restaurant for a fresh seafood dinner.

2016-03-09, Sweetwater #2, Photo #23

Both meals were excellent!

Returning to the campground, we sat outside as the sun set on a fantastic week at Sweetwater Summit Regional Park.

2016-03-04, Sweetwater #1, Photo #4a

 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016: This morning finds our erstwhile travelers underway for points north.

2016-03-09, Sweetwater #2, Photo #24

In a mere forty-five minutes we pull into Admiral Baker Field and set up camp.

2016-03-09, Sweetwater #2, Photo #25

Yep, again!  However, there is a valid reason to return to this Navy Campground in Mission Valley!  You see, in a departure from the traditional Kit and Bill travel philosophy, we made reservations for the following week at Del Mar Beach Resort up in Oceanside.  So, why didn’t continue to make up our itinerary as we travel along, you ask?  Well, grandsons Jack and Tucker are coming over from Vegas on spring break.  Their parents are arranged for them to join us on the beach for a camping adventure…..Kit and I are really looking forward to that!  So, how do we spend the next few days until our reservations kick in?  Keep reading!

 

Thursday, March 10 through Tuesday, March 15, 2016-Mission Valley, San Diego, California: These six “bonus days” were spent doing the mundane but necessary tasks of daily living…..yep, still have to grocery shop, do laundry and clean the trailer and truck.  In addition, we took time to catch up on some reading and paid the monthly bills via electronic bill pay. I also spent a lot of time organizing and editing photos, while writing the Travel Journal.

While attending to the chores, we were out grocery shopping one day when I noticed these delicacies!

2016-03-17, ABF #3, Photo #1

Who knew that the meat of my childhood was now available in so many varieties?  I was tempted to buy a can of each and perform a taste test, but the thought of eating Spam when I no longer had to, was distasteful (pun intended).

On one nice sunny California day (yea, I know the words “nice”, “sunny” and “California” are redundant), Kit and I hosted a campground picnic for her family.

2016-03-17, ABF #3, Photo #2

We had a great time visiting, eating, drinking, and celebrating the folks that have discovered the RV’ing lifestyle.

2016-03-17, ABF #3, Photo #3

Yep, that smile on sister Chars face reflects her pleasure in being an owner of a brand new RV!

Char and her husband Don recently purchased a very nice towable that will fit their interest in camping at the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  It features a Murphy Bed system that converts to a comfortable couch by day.

2016-03-17, ABF #3, Photo #9

Kit had gathered a number of RV’ing necessities and put them in shopping bags emblazoned with RV themes then presented Don and Char with this “Trailer Warming” gift……and when we said necessities, we meant truly needed RV’ing items!

2016-03-17, ABF #3, Photo #5

Congratulations, Don and Char…..welcome to a wonderful world of traveling opportunities!

We were able to spend more time with Ron and JoAnne as well.  JoAnne, a former professional landscaper, cares for a beautiful garden in her backyard and brought Kit a colorful offering from that garden.

2016-03-17, ABF #3, Photo #6

While Kit, dug up some old 1960’s photos of the two of them which we framed and presented to her.

2016-03-17, ABF #3, Photo #12

The inscription reads: “Childhood Friends since 1961”……I think she liked the gift as much as Kit liked the flowers!

 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016:  Today we head north to the beachside town of Oceanside, but first.

2016-03-17, ABF #3, Photo #13

Yep, two new tires for the camper.  You may remember that the two rear tires on our new unit have taken a beating, a total of six different punctures over the past 14 months.  All in the rear…..how does that happen?!?!  You would think that the front tires would be far more vulnerable to road hazards!  The death nail (pun intended) was a side wall penetration that was not fixable, so not wanting mismatched wear patterns I opted to get both tires replaced.

By mid-morning, we were heading north trying to avoid the Interstate.

2016-03-17, ABF #3, Photo #8

Wait, what is that car to the left?

2016-03-17, ABF #3, Photo #7

Looks like some sort of Armageddon Vehicle, notice the diamond plate with the gun port that replaces the rear Window?  Don’t think I would want to tailgate that fella!

Around noon, we pulled into Del Mar Beach Resort on Camp Pendleton and set up for a two week stay.  Following an enjoyable meal, Kit and I partook of a few cocktails while watching the sun set into the Pacific.

DMBR Sunset #1

Gonna be a great two weeks…..stay tuned!

 

Kit’s Bit’s:  We’ve had quite a nice time in So Cal this winter.  Exploring several places, we’ve heard of over the years but never seen, has been great!  And, you can’t beat the weather there.  Warm days and cool nights.  We had one storm come through but, for us hardy souls from Maine, it was nothing.  We have thoroughly enjoyed visiting with our family and friends and, very excited to camp with my sister and her husband when we return next year!  Looking forward to our next “gig” on the beach with Jack and Tucker.