The 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.
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.
Then Kit and I laid in a ton of groceries and readied the camper for these two munchkins.
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!
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.
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.
Even though it wasn’t Disneyland, there were many attractions the boys found interesting onboard the Marine Corps base.
They had a blast chasing the Marines driving their AmTrac’s down the road and out onto the beach.
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.
Or digging in the sand until the sun sank into the ocean.
An activity they enjoyed by moonlight long after dark.
Another nighttime activity was the making of s’mores over a raging campfire.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
One of their favorite endeavors was the construction of large sand castles, built with protective moats surrounding them for protection from the relentless tides.
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.
One of the beach toys we purchased was a Beach Bocce Ball set and we all participated in a number of competitive games.
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.
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.
We located Lake O’Neill…a fresh water reservoir that features boating, fishing and borders a very nice campground.
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.
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.
Which features dozens of wheeled and tracked vehicles in the collection, some from earlier skirmishes.
And others, more recent veterans from the current Middle East conflict.
The week came to a close all too soon when their father, Kevin came to pick them up.
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.
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.
And, Angie befriended Kit which helped considerably when I was away on my Navy duties or attending college courses I needed for advancement.
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.
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.
But there was also the majestic pelican soaring overhead.
And there were many military birds flying up and down the beach.
Then, there was this contraption.
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.
Or the dramatic masking of a brilliant sun by an approaching storm front.
And the everyday, garden variety, clear sky sunset.
Then there are special evenings when all the atmospheric aberrations come together and create a masterpiece.
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!