Bill and Kit’s 2017 Excellent Adventure, Journal #12

And I felt, in the silence that followed, everything that had happened on the trip to bring me to this place.

Morgan Matson


Saturday, February 18 through Monday, March 12, 2017-Admiral Baker RV Park, San Diego, CA:  Kit and I received word during our stay that a dear family friend, and childhood mentor, had passed away at the age of 100.

Mister “O”, as he was known to the kids in the neighborhood, was the father of my best friend Rodney and his sister Marti.

As a senior executive at San Diego’s Sharp Memorial Hospital, Mr. O possessed a sharp mind and a sharp wit, consistently regaling us kids with jokes and funny stories…occasionally a bit off color, which we loved!

After my father left the family while I was entering the tumultuous teenage years, Mr. O, and a few other neighborhood dads, took an interest in my brother and me to make sure we didn’t remove too many wheels off the proverbial bus.

Thank you, Mister O, for all the help and support during a very difficult time in my life…you remain an inspiration of a long life, well lived!

Camping at Admiral Baker Park has become an annual tradition, and this year Kit and I ended up spending three weeks in this very nice and centrally located recreation facility…a relatively quiet oasis in the hustle and madness of a big city.

As I’m sure you already know, we grew up in this area during the 1950’s and 1960’s.  When we left, the city of San Diego claimed a population of 612,000 folks…today it has reached 1,390,000 souls!  It is certifiably a grand megalopolis, with all the issues and problems of any large urban area.  However, in our opinion, it is also one of the most pleasant and livable large cities in the world.  We love returning every winter to enjoy the warmth of the season as well as the inhabitants…and to reconnect with family and friends that have stayed, and prospered in this city.

Toward that end, Kit’s brother Sam and his wife Ann hosted a family function at their home in Rancho Bernardo.

Her whole family was able to attend except for brother Tom, who happens to be a vagabond and purported to be living in South America somewhere.   A nice meal was enjoyed as well as the telling of many stories of family lore!  There were a couple of young folks that dropped in to visit as well, Kit’s nephew Matt and his fiancé, Paola.

And Anne’s daughter Brittany and her husband, Andrew.

Kit and I really enjoyed visiting with everyone and plan to meet up again before we depart the area.

As mentioned, the campground we are staying is conveniently located to many of San Diego’s beaches and other attractions…one of which is the primo kite flying venue in the area, Tecolate Beach.  Located on Mission Bay this large grassy park sitting on the east side of the bay features excellent wind conditions.

I spent many enjoyable hours over a few days flying various kites at Tecolate Beach.  On one of those occasions there was a fellow kite flier that had the same kite in the same color as one of mine…so that’s the one I choose to use that day!  We had a blast flying in close proximity and trying to keep our lines from tangling.

Even though Kit and I grew up in this area, there are many places that we haven’t explored, or that have been developed over the 50 years since we departed…one of which is Lake Jennings Campground in the East County.

Nestled in the Cuyamaca Mountains, the lake is an 85-acre impoundment of a San Diego River tributary held back by an earthen dam.

The park features fishing, hiking and a nice campground with some incredible views of the lake.

And, as you can tell, the wildflowers were blooming like crazy!  Next trip through, we intend to stay at Lake Jennings for a few days!

The reservoirs around San Diego County that provide the residents with their drinking water have been very low due to a prolonged drought…that is until this winter!  A few weeks of rainy weather, some of it biblical in volume, has not only filled the water coffers, but also caused the San Diego River to flow at capacity!

Kit and I have camped next to this river for a few weeks every year of our Excellent Adventure travels, and this is the first time we have seen more than a trickle of water in it…it’s actually at the level that I remember as a child!  The rain was so heavy that the campground was partially flooded!

Even the nearby golf course and picnic Area were submerged.

So, our enterprising campground neighbor took advantage of the high water to cruise about the perimeter of the golf course in his new kayak!

Yep, you guessed it…if I had one of my kayaks along I would have definitely joined him!

While on the road, Kit and I tend to eat out often…yea, I know, ya think?!?!  But we do actually  enjoy a meal in the camper sometimes, mostly breakfast, and occasionally we go all out!

Yep, if you’re wondering, that is indeed two slices of Julian Dutch Apple Crumb pie on that plate…the perfect California breakfast pastry!

While in town, one of us was surprised with a birthday celebration.

A bit early, but that’s because it’s a milestone year, and at my age, better early than never!  The very thoughtful surprise was perpetrated by Kit’s sister Char, and her husband Donald.

Who provided a nice meal in addition to the cake and ice cream…and a rousing rendition of the Happy Birthday song sung in perfect pitch!

Also in attendance for the party, was Kit’s brother Sam, his wife Anne, and their delightful daughter Chelsea.

Love that smile Chelsea!  Thanks all, for making the day memorable!

Then there was the annual trip to Point Loma where my mom is resting at San Diego’s Rosecrans National Cemetery.

A veteran of WWII, mom was stationed at Peral Harbor, Hawaii and would have served longer, had I not come along!  Accompanying us was our longtime friend from the old neighborhood, CeCe whose father is interned at Rosecrans as well.

CeCe visits her father on many National Holidays, and takes the time to leave flowers at mom’s grave as well.  Thanks, CeCe for your thoughtfulness!

Within Rosecrans National Cemetery there are numerous monuments, one of which stands tall on the grounds.

The USS Bennington Monument memorializes the sixty men that were killed, and the remainder of the crew of 106 who were severely injured, by a boiler explosion in 1905 while the Navy Gunboat lay anchored in San Diego harbor.

The 244-foot long steel hulled ship was rigged with three schooner masts but relied primarily on steam engines for propulsion.  A combination of crew error, and a malfunctioning steam gage caused the boiler to run up into overpressure and rupture.  What had been the worst Navy disaster to date, caused the ship to take on water and list badly to port.  A nearby tug came to the rescue of the crippled vessel and nudged her onto a sandbar before she could sink into the bay.  Eleven of the crew were eventually awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for “extraordinary heroism”.  Due to the extensive damage, the USS Bennington was decommissioned the following year.

While in San Diego, we learned that a cousin from back east was in town for work.

So, Kit and I were delighted that he was able to meet up with us at a local tavern for food and drink.

Tim, a recent graduate of Drexel, works as an engineer for NAVSEA, the Navy department that is responsible for engineering support on all U S Navy ships.  A frequent traveler, his job takes him to many bases around the world and fortunately our travels crossed so we could enjoy spending a few hours with this fine young man.

It’s no secret that I’ve become a bit obsessed with kite flying.  So, while in San Diego, I sought out a true legend in the sport at his small shop on the edge of downtown.  Kite Country, is the store where Victor has held court for over 25 years.

A native of India, Victor has been messing around with kites since childhood, if you’ve read the book “Kite Runner” you get a glimpse into the kite culture he was raised in.  A world-renowned designer and builder of “Fighter Kites”, Victor now focuses his craft toward high performance Sport Kites…the kind I favor as well.  A slow day in his shop, I was able to spend about an hour with him learning a great deal about the design and construction of various kites…and, since it is near my birthday, I purchased this beauty as a gift to myself.

A three square meter parafoil, this thing pulls like a freight train!  In fact, at winds over 15 MPH, it has the capacity to actually lift a human off the ground!?!?  That is why the kite comes with “brake lines” …a second line set that attaches to the trailing edge of the kite and, on command, spills some wind out of the parafoil which tames this beast.  It’s a blast to fly, especially with a 75-foot tube tail attached!

In ozing about town, we have spotted a few unusual items…such as Gael’s Wallpaper shop and Lobster pound.

Yep, the sign does indeed read…GourMaine Lobster.

Then with a large Mexican population, there are a fair amount of “Low Riders” sitting about.

This mid 1950’s Pontiac was owned by a fellow camper and sits hard on the street until the engine is fired up, the hydraulics get pressurized, and then it’s off he goes at a somewhat normal ride height.

Also, pulling into the campground was this unusual camper.

Built on a heavy-duty utility trailer frame, the Tiny House on wheels is being used as an RV!

Finally, you know that you’re in California when these products are prominently displayed in most stores.

Not sure how much good they would do in a camper, however!

Kit and I were able to visit with our childhood friend Rodney, and his wife Gloria once again.

This time, we rendezvoused at a mutually convenient restaurant for a few beers, a nice meal, and great conversation.

Where I tried an unusual dish…kind of a breakfast/lunch hybrid!

Not very healthy, but some good!

Had a great time as usual folks…thanks for coming north of the border to share a meal with us!

One day, we took a ride up to the top of Mount Helix, which is topped by a brilliant white 35-foot masonry cross.

The views of the San Diego countryside from this lofty height are incredible!

And built into the hillside just below the summit, is a large Amphitheatre.

Where I vaguely remember attending Sunrise Easter Mass many years ago.

This entire park was built by a small group of private citizens to honor their ancestors who once lived below the summit…it is now managed by a foundation and is open to the public.  If in the area, take a ride up the steep winding road, you will be richly rewarded with grand views and a sense of peacefulness.

Returning to the coast from Mount Helix, we decided to detour to Mission Trails Park just to the east of our campground.  Kit and I like to spend time scouting out alternative camping opportunities for future Excellent Adventure trips.  Mission Trails Park is a 5,800 acre preserve that features sixty miles of multi-use trails, a campground, and a very nice visitors center.

Along with a museum of the areas artifacts and a nice library/reading room, the visitors center has an incredible view of the surrounding hillside from climate controlled comfort.

However, the access road to the campground is narrow and winding, with a few tight turns and overhanging vegetation waiting to snag the roof of a camping trailer.

I’ve hauled the camper on worse, but have also sustained some damage in doing so.  Might be worth the chance except for the small and tight spaces in the campground itself…great for Class B’s or tents…not so much for a 30 foot fifth wheel!

We also spent time with our neighborhood friend, JoAnne and her husband Ron.  They hosted us at a tasty steak barbeque in their home, and we also met a few times at local restaurants…one of which is our favorite, the Omelet Factory.

Where the food is incredible, inexpensive, and plentiful…if it can be paired with eggs, the Omelet Factory has it on their extensive menu.

Yep, that’s jalapenos, queso, cilantro, avocado and sour cream on the plate…a real taste of the Southwest!

What with all the rain, the wildflowers and erosion control plants such as this pickle weed are in full bloom.

And the home centers have their spring flowers set out.

Even the Agavoideae are getting in on the action.

The whole area is blooming like crazy, and the greens are vibrant as well…good time to be exploring the Southwest!

I’m posting the following photo as it played a significant role in our teenage dating years.

You’ll have to ask Kit for, “the rest of the story”!

Speaking of Kit, she plays an important role in proofreading the chunks of words that I spew into these journals.

She toils at this task not because she is worried that I may embarrass myself, she’s used to me doing that…but because there is usually an incentive involved!  Notice the line of “incentives” in the photo above.

In our mission to explore the early California Missions, we spent a few hours at the Mission San Diego De Alcala.

Mission accomplished!

The first Spanish Mission along the famed Mission Trail, San Diego De Alcala was established in 1813 and has undergone many updates and additions.

The architecture is classic Spanish and the belfry is in a bell tower façade.

An active parish, the mission hosts daily mass in the original church.

Many mission churches were long, narrow and tall…the width being dictated by the height of the nearby trees to span the church and support the roof.

The early fathers served as the moral guidance of the congregation and the nearby Indian heathens…and the sported some pretty cool hats as well!

Kit and I thoroughly enjoyed walking about the grounds and talking to the volunteers that were acting as docents.

A particularly funny thing transpired in the gift shop after the tour.  One of the 70-something parish ladies was flustered with how to document a recent discounted purchase that a parish priest had made, exclaiming; “I’ve never done a priest before”.  To which the other 70-something lady blurted out: “Me neither, but I sure would have liked to”!  To which I responded by laughing out loud, which threw the two church ladies in fits of embarrassed laughter…you can’t make this stuff up!

Well, this ends another great season in our childhood home town!  Tomorrow we head north for some beachside camping…stay tuned!

Kit’s Bit’s:  We had a thoroughly enjoyable time in San Diego, this year.  Even though it was only three weeks, we paced ourselves more than in previous years.  Of course, during the big rain and floods, we were forced to lay low.  It was nice watching it all.  It’s rare that SD gets that much rain.  Seeing the river rise was great!

However, as usual, Mission Valley (the shopping area) was flooded, causing lots of traffic issues.  My sister Charlotte and I were finally able to take the San Diego Trolley around the city!  We’ve been talking about doing it for several years but something always got in the way.  I think the total cost for both of us was less than $10.00!  We rode all the way out to Santee and back and through downtown SD, as well.  Next time, we plan to ride down to San Ysidro, which is just north of Tijuana.  Great way to see the area without having to drive through it!  Love visiting SD but miss our little town in Maine and I’m eager to head home.

Bill and Kit’s 2017 Excellent Adventure, Journal #11

Bill and Kit’s 2017 Excellent Adventure, Journal #11

Proudly brings you:

“Adventures with Jeff and Catherine in Bill and Kit’s

Ancestral Hometown”


I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.

Rosalia de Castro


Thursday, February 16, 2017:  In the previous episode, our good friends from Maine, Jeff and Catherine, had just arrived in town and met up with us at the Fiddlers Cove Military RV Park located in Coronado, California.  There was a bit of a mix-up in Jeff’s government credentials that almost caused them to seek other accommodations, but fortunately we were able to work it all out.

Both couples were to depart in the morning to head for another RV Park to the north, so we made the most of this afternoon to show Jeff and Catherine around the village of Coronado…first stop was the old city hall where Kit and I were married.

Today we were in luck because the administration office of what is now the Lamb’s Players Theatre was open and the folks inside were delighted to meet us and hear our story…in fact they took photos and placed the visit on their Facebook page!

Thanks folks, we will be back to see one of your productions.

Next, we walked through the neighborhood where the Spring season was beginning to spring forth.

And everything was flowering.

Then on to the beach, and a return visit to the Hotel del Coronado.

Where we enjoyed the final sunset from the Coronado shoreline for this year.



Friday, February 17, 2017:  Woke to a weather alert of an approaching storm and high winds, so after contacting Jeff and Catherine, we thought it would be prudent to pull chocks and head out before she began to blow!

Heading south to Imperial Beach in order to avoid passing over the San Diego Bay Bridge then we looped around the bay and headed north on The Five.

As the winds picked up intensity, we successfully managed the 45-minute trip and pulled into our next destination, Admiral Baker RV Park located in the Mission Valley section of San Diego.

After setting up our prospective camps and grabbing lunch, we all took a ride to Miramar Marine Corps Air Station to see about getting Jeff an official Government Civilian Retiree ID Card.  However, upon arriving, we discovered signs on the door of the office indicating they had closed early due to the incoming storm.  Um, don’t chuckle folks living in Maine, these folks are not used to bad weather!

Back at the campground, we shared a meal and enjoyed a few drinks while visiting and discussing activities for the next couple of days.


Saturday, February 18 through Monday, March 12, 2017-Admiral Baker RV Park, San Diego, CA:  Following a restful evening, we all gathered in our camper for breakfast and an opportunity to plan the day.

As mentioned many times in the past, Kit and I grew up in San Diego, just a few miles to the west from where we are currently camped, so we made some recommendations to Jeff and Catherine and asked them to list things they would enjoy seeing and places they would like to explore…top of the list was anything train related!

You may remember, that about this time last year, Jeff and Catherine were rolling through Southern California and stopped to spend a few days with us at Potrero County Park located in the coastal mountains of San Diego.  As avid railroad enthusiasts, they wished to see the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum located in Campo.

But alas, the museum was on winter hours and closed during the week.  However, that didn’t stop we intrepid trespassers from finding a way into the railyard and poking about…well, until we were noticed and asked to depart the premises.  Fast forward to this year, and we made it our mission to finally see the museum and possibly take a ride on one of their operational excursion trains.

For an added fee, two folks could ride in the cab of the locomotive and get a real education on how to operate the controls.  Jeff has taken advantage of this opportunity a few times in the past, but agreed to accompany me, a real rail neophyte.

Sitting at the engineers control station with that mighty diesel engine rumbling was a thrill, and I stayed way clear of the control that the operating engineer instructed me to never touch.  With the professional back at the throttle we were rolling south through the California countryside, without a care in the world.

Well, until about a mile from the station that is, when a bump, then a shudder, followed by another bump and a horrible screeching sound caused the engineer, and Jeff to glance at each other with a worried look on their faces.  Then the engineer grabbed the radio microphone and blurted out that we were “on the ground” …which I thought was appropriate for a train until Jeff explained that we had derailed!

Climbing off the locomotive, it became apparent that “on the ground” meant “not on the rails”.

Fortunately, the engineer and crew knew what to do and immediately took charge and started building a makeshift platform.

They then stood by to help the folks in the passenger car off the disabled train…including these two attractive damsels in distress.

Of course, Kit immediately asked me what I had fiddled with that I wasn’t supposed to, but Jeff came to my defense and said the whole derailment thing was not my fault.

Soon, the rescue locomotive and coach car came around the bend.

The passengers were helped onto the coach, then Jeff and I climbed into a new locomotive for the return to the station.

The museum staff was very apologetic and offered to refund everyone’s money, but we decided to let them keep the funds as a donation…after all, it isn’t everyday one gets to experience a derailment while sitting in the cab of a locomotive!

Following the truncated train ride, we spent a few hours viewing the antique rolling stock at the museum, such as this 1912 Baldwin Steam Locomotive.

The 215 ton, 82-foot-long locomotive is capable of speeds up to 65 MPH and was in continues service until 1957.  Now a museum showpiece, it is fully restored and operational being brought out to steam down the tracks during special occasions.

In addition to a number of other rail cars, there is a US Post Office coach that is capable of snatching mail bags from trackside hooks without stopping the train.

Then the mail is sorted, bundled and left off at appropriate destination stops…pretty efficient!

After an amazing day of railroading, we were a bit hungry.  So, since we camped together in this area last year, we knew the perfect place to stop for a bite.  Barrett Junction Café is a biker tavern located on the main road to San Diego, and a place we’ve enjoyed a few times in the past.  Their specialty is fried fish which can be enjoyed under the watchful eye of this big guy!

Yep, all you fisherpersons…that specimen is indeed 39 inches long and weighs in at a whopping 55 pounds, 4 ounces!  However, looming over our heads as it was, gave one an unusual sense of trepidation as we munched on his kinfolk!

On another day during our stay in San Diego, we went to the historic Old Town section to poke around.

Old Town was the first European settlement in California and grew up around the base of the San Diego Presidio.

At the Presidio, we learned that the fort was established by the Spanish government in order to lay claim to what was then a part of Mexico.  Then following the end of the Mexican-American War, gringos began arriving.

Which settled around the Presidio for mutual protection and the first city in California had its beginnings.  Walking through the center of Old Town gave one a glimpse into those early days of colonization.

Spread along the large center courtyard are many shops featuring products and crafts of Mexican origin.

While strolling through this brightly landscaped mercantile, Jeff sensed a nearby Train shop…and he was right!

The Old Town Model Railroad Depot is the work of one man’s love affair with model railroading.

It is one of the largest privately owned “O” Gauge railroad layouts in existence with 2,500 square feet divided into two sections…daylight scenes in one, night scenes in the other, and all fantastically detailed!

Gary, the owner and proprietor, is a very outgoing and likable fellow that enjoys talking about model railroading…of course, he and Jeff hit it off right away!

As we exited, Gary gifted us with a certificate for a free appetizer at one of Old Towns better Mexican eateries, which was the perfect excuse to stop in for an afternoon meal.

The food was fantastic!

As well as the Cantina!

Then with full bellies, we strolled back through the courtyard and stumbled upon this Mariachi Band in full swing.

Where a couple of uninhibited women became caught up in the music’s rhythmic beat and took to the dance floor!

Very impressive moves Catherine!

On another classically beautiful San Diego day, we headed for Point Loma and the Cabrillo National Monument which sits on a high promontory overlooking the Pacific Ocean off to the West, and San Diego Bay toward the East.

Cabrillo National Monument is the winter home of the historic Point Loma Lighthouse.

Commissioned in 1855, the Point Loma Light was built on land that is 400 feet above sea level, which makes it the highest elevation lighthouse in the United States.  At that lofty height, the line of sight distance was phenomenal…however, the frequent coastal fog rendered the lighthouse ineffective so it was closed in 1891 and replace by a newer beacon along the shoreline.  Then, as on que, that darned coastal fog started to move inland, so we decided to head down to visit the San Diego waterfront and enjoy the many vessels that make up the San Diego Maritime Museum.  This institution features one of the largest collections of historic ships in the United States…and the star attraction of this 11-vessel fleet, is The Star of India.

Built before Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address the Star of India is the fourth oldest ship afloat in America, and the oldest that still sails under her own canvas on a regular basis…this 280-foot iron hulled Bargue has never been fitted with auxiliary mechanical propulsion. Of any kind.

Kit was a bit worried when I took the helm.  All she could think about was the great railroad derailing and how it might have had something to do with me fiddling with something!  But, alas all is well on this historic vessel which is near 100% authentic…outside and in!

An absolutely beautiful piece of seafaring history, and well worth the price of admission…but wait, there is more!

The above diesel powered Russian submarine played an interesting role in the Cuban Missile Crises in October of 1962.  Details vary depending whose version one believes, but this sub or a similar one in the group of Russian boats guarding their ally Cuba, erroneously thought they were under military engagement and was preparing to launch a nuclear attack on the US Navy.  Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the unthinkable was averted.  In fact, when the Russian sub was forced to surface due to depleted batteries, the US Navy stood by to render assistance!

And this ends another peaceful day in the great city of San Diego!


The next morning, in keeping with the week’s train theme, we all decided to connect two modes of mass transportation and visit the coastal village of Oceanside, California.  We began the day with a great breakfast, then headed for the nearby San Diego Trolley station.

Where a $1.25 fare shuttled us downtown to the historic Santa Fe Terminal.

And a $5.50 ticket bought us a seat on The Coaster.

For the one hour, northerly jaunt along the California coastline.

In a comfortable scenic cruiser coach.

Which was thoroughly enjoyable…and also entertaining as we watched the California automobile-centric folks crawling along the interstate as we zipped on by!

Reaching our destination in time for a late lunch, we discovered a nice seaside fish house called Hello Betty!

Where the food was excellent.

And the company was as well!

A great day, with great friends, in beautiful California weather…life is good!

On the final day with Jeff and Catherine, we continued our railroad fascination and paid a visit to Frank the Trainman!

Unfortunately, Frank, who had been in business at this spot since the 1940’s, has passed…but his partner Jim Cooley is alive and holding court in their store.

Jim is a spry 96 years old and sharp as a tack!  In addition to an extensive inventory of model railroad merchandise, he is an avid antique automobile hobbyist.

About twenty cars are in his museum located in the same building as the train shop, and, according to Jim, it only represents 20 % of his total collection.  Specializing in Brass Era and unique one of a kind automobiles, Jim claims that each and every one of these cars arrived under their own power.

Of special interest to me were the following:

A 1910 Hunt Special, which is the only automobile ever to have been manufactured in San Diego…they only produced one before going bankrupt, and this is it!

The massive hood is virtually empty, as the four cylinder, forty horsepower engine is located under the passenger compartment!  So why the fake hood?  Well William Hunt thought a hoodless car looked strange and would not appeal to the early 20th century motoring public.

Then there is this 1912 Cartercar.

As the only known Cartercar Sedan in existence, this four cylinder, thirty horsepower automobile featured a body made of a papier-mâché type material.  It was only manufactured for ten years during which time it struggled due to low sales volume.  The founder, Byron J. Carter, had an unfortunate role in the development of the electric starter…Byron was 45 years old and president of his company, when his car stalled on a Detroit bridge.  Attempting to start the car with the common hand crank of the day, it backfired and critically injured Mr. Carter leading to his early demise.  His best friend, Cadillac founder Henry Leland, went on to design the first practical electric starter in his memory.

Next is the 1914 Woods Mobilette a four cylinder, twelve horsepower “cyclecar”.

Capable of mileage figures topping 40 MPG, the Woods Mobilette was one of the earliest economy cars produced.  However, the extremely narrow automobile, which sat the sole passenger behind the driver, proved to be very difficult to steer and control on the early dirt roads of the day.  That and the fact it was competing for market share with the immensely popular Ford Model T, led to the Mobilette’s demise in 1916.

The J. A. Cooley Museum was well worth the price of admission, and although I focused on his automobiles, Mr. Cooley has an assortment of other antiques crammed into his gallery as well.

Including a sizable collection of antique model trains, dozens of early cameras, and many clocks, toys, phonographs and brass spittoons!

If you visit, you may encounter Jim’s daughter who will gladly show you her 1918 Chevrolet Model FA.

The four cylinder, thirty horsepower automobile has been documented by the General Motors Corporation as the oldest known Chevrolet Sedan in existence…and it runs like a top!

All this in a museum that most folks don’t even know exists…truly a great find!  Visit if you get a chance, you will not be disappointed!

Kit and I also treated our visitors to a drive about our old teenage stomping grounds.  We showed them the homes we grew up in and the close proximity they were to each other…a critical fact when one is dating on foot, or by skateboard!  We also drove about the beach area where Kit and I spent a considerable amount time during our misspent youth.

Well, all good things need to come to an end at some point, and tomorrow Jeff and Catherine are to return to the road and continue their RV adventure.

Goodbye good friends and travel safe…we will see you back in Maine come summer!

Kit’s Bit’s:  We had a very enjoyable time with Jeff & Catherine, touring San Diego!  So many things to see and do and many of them, we’ve never taken advantage of.  Certainly, we have more time these days to explore the area than when we were kids with working parents, then parents ourselves with kids.  Of course, with the nice weather most of the year, and the many places to see and things to do, it’s impossible to do it all.  We’re hoping Jeff & Catherine enjoyed a good sampling of what this city has to offer.  We thoroughly enjoyed being your tour guides for a few days!

Bill and Kit’s 2017 Excellent Adventure, Journal #10

As a dreamer of dreams and a travelin’ man, I have chalked up many a mile; Read dozens of books about heroes and crooks, and I learned much from both of their styles.

Jimmy Buffett


Sunday, February 12, 2017:  Up to sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 60’s…enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, broke camp, and rolled out at 1125 hours.

Since we were on our holding tanks these past four days, decided to drain the extra weight at the waste dump as we exited the RV park.

I mention this rather mundane and necessary chore of RV’ing because this “dump station” is one of the better designed we’ve seen.  Plenty of approach and departure room, and the road is graded to tilt to the left which facilitates quick and efficient draining of all three waste water holding tanks.  In addition, there is a hose for connecting to our onboard Sani-Flush system to hydro clean the black water tank.  OK, I know…TMI…sorry!

Maneuvered the rig through the village of Potrero and eased onto US-94 heading to the northwest.

Within a few minutes, we came upon Otay Lakes Road and headed due west, through the town of Imperial Beach before turning north and driving up the Silver Strand toward our next stop, Fiddlers Cove RV Park.

Co-located with the San Diego Navy Marina, Fiddlers Cove is situated south of the town of Coronado and sits between the Pacific Ocean to the west and San Diego Bay to the East where the marina enjoys a protected anchorage.

This military RV park is very popular, and therefore very difficult to get into.  It was extensively updated and remodeled three years ago, and has become one of the most popular campgrounds in the military system.  Since we rarely make advanced reservations, we usually are locked out…but not this year!  Kit and I were able to eke out a five-night stay, presumably due to a last-minute cancelation…road magic at work again!

Spent the afternoon and early evening setting up camp, walking about the grounds, and basically relaxing.


Monday, February 13, through Thursday, February 16, 2017-Fiddlers Cove RV, Coronado, California:  Woke to a beautiful San Diego day on the shore of Fiddlers Cove with America’s finest haze-grey warships peacefully at dock across San Diego Bay.

If you look really close at the photo above, you can just pick out the superstructure of the one, and so far, only DDG-1000, the USS Zumwalt…a fine Bath (Maine) Iron Works product!  Here is how she appeared when conducting sea trials in the Gulf of Maine last year.

Yep, looks unlike anything the Navy has ever developed…almost spacecraft like, which is good considering the vessels first commanding officer was Captain James Kirk…true, look it up!

The 600-foot-long DDG-1000 class of warship has an unusual tumblehome style hull and corresponding superstructure to reduce its radar cross section…in fact, it works so well, the Navy had to design an electronic signal that makes the ship look much larger for use while in friendly waters during nighttime operations.  This state of the art warship features many new and innovative systems in machinery, electrical, combat systems, and habitability.  The electrical power is based on an Integrated Power System that can generate up to 80,000 watts of electricity and can be proportioned to the systems that need it at the time…propulsion when steaming at high speed or combat systems while in battle.  In addition, the ship features upgraded radar, sonar, weapons, missile defense, and electronic warfare systems.  In addition, automation has reduced the crew manning to a level never seen on a Navy ship of this size.  Why only three being built?  Cost…four billion dollars apiece!  The tried and true DDG-51 Ships go for less than half that, which is why the program has been restarted…at Bath Iron Works!

Since we are camping right next to a marina, and they offer boats of all types for rent, I selected a small kayak to paddle about the bay in.

This 9 ½ foot sit-on style boat turned out to be an excellent kayak for protected waters.  Very stable, and although not very fast it tracked well and paddled easily.  The online reviews indicated it was a very good all-around kayak that performed well in river whitewater and ocean surf!  I was so impressed with its performance that I may search out a pair of these for use out at camp this summer!

There is a nice little beach which made launching the kayak a breeze.

Speaking of a breeze, as you can tell…there weren’t any!

Decided to paddle about the various boats that were tied up at the slips, or further out hanging on moorings.

Of the dozens of sailboats in the harbor, this beauty was my favorite!

A Vagabond 47 according to my nautical grandson, Joe.  He also shared that he may crew an identical boat this summer during a transit from the Caribbean up the East Coast of the US.

After checking out the boats, I decided to leave the protected small boat harbor, and venture out into the bay toward the Coronado Bridge.

About half way there, the winds picked up from the northwest, and the bay started to chop up a bit, so I decided to reverse course and head back to more sheltered waters.  Nearing the breakwater, I was startled by this fellow.

The California Brown Pelican, flew right over my head and made a perfect landing on the floating breakwater buoys.  I did notice it inbound and on flightpath, so I had the camera ready…just didn’t know it was going to buzz me in the process…good thing this kayak is as stable as it was!

On Valentine’s Day, Kit and I decided to spend the day in the village of Coronado, where we were married on June 4, 1965.  More than 52 years ago, here is what we looked like on Valentine’s Day 1965.

An original “selfie”, the above photo was taken in one of those photo booths that were popular in stores and amusement parks back in the day.  A strip of four black and white snapshots for 25 cents, which was about the cost of a gallon of gas!

And here is what we look like when we returned to the scene of the…um, event!

What was the Coronado City Hall, is now an office complex for a community theater group…unfortunately the door was locked so we couldn’t visit where it all became legal.

After some shopping, we walked the oceanfront toward the world-famous Hotel del Coronado.

Opened in 1888, the seven-floor hotel features seven restaurants, and 680 rooms.  As the second largest wooden structure in the United States, the Del, as it is known locally, is registered as a National Historical Landmark.  The ornate lobby is paneled in stately mahogany.

And the ceiling was built using wooden pegs.

No mechanical fasteners were used, and it’s held up pretty well over the past 119 years!

The Del was illuminated by gas lamps, 2,500 of them…then a few years after opening, electrical wires were strung along the gas pipes so if the newfangled electric thing didn’t work out, the hotel could revert to reliable gas lighting once again.

Kit and I decided to enjoy lunch on the beach patio of the Del where we enjoyed an excellent view of the Pacific Ocean and Point Loma.

Keeping with our “eat plenty of authentic Mexican food before I leave the Southwest” effort, we each ordered the fish taco plate.

While Kit enjoyed a fine Zinfandel, I choose a Ballast Point Brewery IPA.

Which tasted so good, I had another!

Many places have wait staff that roam the restaurant with carpet sweepers to brush the crumbs from their floors…this restaurant has resorted to a more natural method.

Like young puppies, the little fellas where skittering about on the hunt for dropped morsels.

Following a great meal, we strolled back toward the beach to watch a talented builder of sandcastles.

He is Bill Pavlacka and is known as “The Sandcastle Man”.  A mason by trade, Bill became unemployed during the sub-prime mortgage debacle of 2008 and turned to sand art to support his family.  He has won numerous awards, and commands top dollar to design and construct sculptures in front of the Del for corporations that hold functions there.

Walking back to the truck through town, Kit and I decided it was time for coffee and dessert so stopped at a local café where we enjoyed a fresh brewed cup and a fantastic sundae…Cinnamon Bun Carmel!!!

Nearing sunset, we strolled hand in hand as the sun set on a wonderful Saint Valentine’s Day in beautiful Coronado, California.


While Kit and I were enjoying this fantastic Southern California weather, we kept a watchful eye on the Nor’easter that was bearing down on our Maine hometown.  By all accounts form family and friends, the storm was one for the ages.

Yep, that’s our home with snow drifts mid-way up our front door!  On the left side of the driveway, is a car buried under feet of snow!  Fortunately, we have a plow guy that takes care of the bulk of the snow for Kim, and Joe comes by to clean up the rest with the snow blower!

Thanks Joe, for helping your mom out!

During our stay on Coronado, I was notified that my 23andMe DNA report was ready, and as promised…here is the main news!

As I suspected, nothing exotic…well except for that 97% Neanderthal Variant!

Guess that explains a lot!?!?

Anytime we are camped by the ocean, there are open spaces and consistent breezes…which equals great kite flying.  So, on a day that Kit wanted some quiet time, I struck out on my bike with a couple of kites in a backpack and went searching for a suitable flying location.

The ocean side of the strand had the best winds, but unfortunately it also had people…beach goers and low flying high performance sport kites don’t mix well.  So, I crossed the road to the bay side and found a perfect spot.  Setting up a traction kit, as well as a medium sized delta, I spent hours entertaining myself…and the seagulls whirling about overhead.

Back at the camper, it was cocktail time…after which we enjoyed a nice meal as the city lights danced on San Diego Bay.

Then after some reading we turned in for the evening.

A few days before we intended to move on, some RV friends from Maine called from the California Desert and said they were inbound.  Fortunately, as popular as this park is, we were able to reserve a spot for Jeff and Catherine so they could camp with us!

As you can see, they scored a primo waterfront site!

Speaking of Maine RV’ing friends, there are at least four couples meandering about the countryside, one of which are at the extreme Southeast part of the country!

Vince and Candy winter over in Key West, Florida and keep their own very interesting blog.  They plan on heading home before us but hope to see them a few times this summer…travel safe folks!

Also on the road are Frank and Pat who split their time between Florida and Texas.

Looking forward to seeing you folks this summer as well!

Well, this has hit my self-imposed journal length…stay tuned for next edition; “Fun Adventures with Jeff and Catherine in Bill and Kit’s Ancestral Hometown”!

One never knows what mischief we can get into!

Kit’s Bit’s:  With the beautiful San Diego weather, we’ve taken the opportunity to see many places we’ve never had the opportunity to explore.  Playing ‘tourist’ in your home town is altogether different than living here.  One of these days, we should think about the other cities we’ve lived in and never had time to see all the sights; Key West, Charleston and Virginia Beach.  All on our bucket list…