Bill and Kit’s 2018 Excellent Adventure, Journal #12

“This Year Marks Our 10th Winter RV Trip”

To travel is to take a journey into yourself.
Danny Kaye


Tuesday, April 3, 2018: Kit and I enjoyed a great camping vacation at Fiddlers Cove Marina and RV Park with the Pacific Ocean on one side of us, and San Diego Bay on the other. This thin strip of land known as The Silver Strand is very picturesque…we are going to miss views like this from out bayside campsite!

On the road at 1054 hours and made our way south to Imperial Beach. Then headed east to Interstate 805, which we traveled north until it merged with I-15 and our ultimate destination of San Diego’s Mission Valley and…our camping residence for the next few days, Admiral Baker Park.

We set up in a nicely sited spot in this very convenient military recreation facility, one we have visited many times in the past.


Sunday, March 25, through Wednesday, April 2th, 2018-Admiral Baker Park, San Diego, California: Kit and I enjoyed our time in this area, which is located just a few miles from where we grew up, then initially met back in 1963. We still have a number of family members and friends in the region who we try to see each trip. However, this year Kit suffered a pretty severe allergy attack and wasn’t really up to going much of anyplace or seeing much of anybody. But on her good days, we did get some touring and visiting in…here are some of the highlights during our stay in Mission Valley.

We managed to finally see Gloria when she and Rod came up from Tecate, Mexico to spend the day with us. After visiting around the campsite, we all decided to go a few miles down the valley to one of our favorite burger and beer joints…The Islands Restaurant.
Known for their specialty hamburgers and incredible seasoned fries, The Islands also features a variety of great beers on tap.

Established by two US Navy sailors that were stationed in Hawaii, The Islands has a distinctive tropical feel.

Kit and I had a great time reconnecting with Rod and Gloria and made tentative plans to host them at our Maine home later in the year.

When Kit was up to it, we took care of some family business, and then poked around the old neighborhood. Our childhood homes are still standing pretty much as they were when we left in June of 1965. Kit’s looked in a lot better shape than mine, which I believe has been a rental for a number of years.

My parents purchased this brand new home in the summer of 1957 for $12,500.00 ($111,011.57 in today’s dollars). Previously we were living a few blocks away in Cabrillo Navy housing so most every night, after dinner, mom, dad, brother Don, and I would walk over to see how progress was coming on our new home. Today that old flimsy track home is valued at $546.187.00! An example of the red hot Southern California real estate market!

After my dad bailed on the family, and my mom started working two jobs to ensure we didn’t lose the house, that place was my sanctuary…and the neighborhood hangout spot! The two-car garage, which never saw a car, would be the afterschool gathering place for myself, Kit, Rod, Billy, David, and Joanne. Below is a sketch I made in 1962 and used as a guide to draw a large mural on one wall of that garage.

I’ve often wondered if that mural still exists…what are the odds? One of these days, I’m going to knock on the door, and inquire!

In addition to painting the garage walls with beach scenes, we used the space to build and repair surfboards, move into and out of romantic relationships, build and ride skateboards, listen to Beach Boys music blaring from a portable record player and basically cause the prim and proper neighborhood folks to wonder what this new generation was coming to…fun times!

While out and about, Kit and I happened by a new lunch place and decided to give it a whirl.

The Grater Grilled Cheese specializes in the namesake sandwich. This high calorie comfort food we all grew up with has become high cuisine with the addition of a large election of meat and vegetable choices.

Who would have thought that the lowly old grilled cheese sandwich would be reinvented?! We thought the name was creative…or did they rip it off that political slogan: Make America Grate Again?

Kit and I spent one day visiting the National Veterans Memorial on top of La Jolla’s Mount Soledad.

This sacred spot contains memorial plaques with the names of many service members who have passed…most of them were Navy and Marine Corps, which one would expect in this Navy Town.

Mount Soledad is US Government property and the cross has adorned the summit since 1913. In the late 1980’s the cross was designated a National War Memorial, which gave it some exposure in the press…this resulted in a group of atheists, later joined by a Jewish organization, (yea, I know, strange bedfellows) to challenge the legality of a Christian Cross on Government property. They won their case in the United States Court of Appeals, and the government was faced with removing the cross under court order. Finally, after 25 years of litigation and controversy, some local folks banded together and raised over 1.5 million dollars to buy the 1/2 acre of land under the memorial from the government putting the issue to rest once and for all.

The views from 882-foot Mount Soledad, of La Jolla and the Pacific Ocean beyond, are incredible.

As is the solemnness of this memorial to past military heroes.

Rest in Peace Brothers!

Since Kit was under the weather, and relished some peace and quiet, I took the opportunity to take an excursion to areas of the beach communities that we used to haunt…or, what I like to call: My Childhood Playground! The first stop was South Mission Beach.

Even though this is spring break season, the beach was lightly populated, probably since this area is mostly residential with few motels, bars, or restaurants.  However, that did not deter this Spring Breaker!

One can always tell the birds that are on spring break by their white legs.

Next stop, a short distance away, was Mission Bay.

My mother would take my brother and I, along with any other neighborhood kids that we could pile into the Family Truckster, to this bay for swimming, boating and a picnicking. We always pleaded for her to take us to the real ocean once in a while, but since mom was not a good swimmer, and since the Lifeguard Service was a lot smaller then, she was too afraid to tempt fate in water that occasionally developed a strong undertow.

I then drove north up Mission Beach Boulevard toward Belmont Park…this place was absolutely packed! There was zero parking anywhere near this local amusement park that sits on the shores of Mission Beach, so I just kept going toward my next destination…the village of Pacific Beach.

This was place was crowded with Spring Breakers as well, but just a few blocks off the beach I was able to find street parking in a residential area.

PB, as we used to call it, was our local surf spot back in the 1960’s as it was very close to where we lived, and usually could be counted on for acceptable waves…especially with an offshore wind.

The anchor for PB was Crystal Pier…

… privately owned by the same family since 1961, Crystal Pier is open daily to the public and features cottages for nightly rental along each side.

Took a stroll toward another childhood play area…Tourmaline Canyon.

Situated on the far end of the beach, just where the cove turns west, is a great surf break. Back in the day, it took a climb down a narrow trail to reach the rocky beach…nowadays, there is a road down to it with a parking lot and bathroom/shower facility…times change.

The last beach I wanted to check out was a short distance, as the crow flies, from these others…but since it was on the other side of the inlet for Mission Bay, I had to go inland a bit to access the bridge.

In addition to checking out how the beach area had changed, I wanted to grab a late lunch at an institution in the area…Hodad’s.

But when I arrived the line was down the block…thanks, Spring Breakers!

However, the silver lining was that today is the weekly farmers market, where the main drag is closed off and local farmers sell their wares.

There were several food trucks in attendance to capitalize on the increased foot traffic, one of which catered to those of us who like Filipino food! So, I took my beef meat sticks, lumpia, and chicken adobo down to the pier to enjoy the best native Filipino food since my stent in the Philippines!

A great day exploring the coastal areas of San Diego, and Kit really appreciated the peace and quiet in the bargain!


Tuesday, April 3, 2018: Departed Admiral Baker RV Park mid-morning for the 18-mile trek east to our next camping destination…Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve. So, why go to the trouble to move such a short distance? Well, one of us will soon celebrate a milestone birthday…and she wants to celebrate in her favorite campground, with her best friend from the old neighborhood who will be entering the 7th decade as well…on the same date!


Wednesday, April 4, 2018 through Tuesday, April 10, 2013-Santee, California: Kit and Joanne have been best of friends since junior high school days.

However, they lost track of each other for about 50 years, until a FaceBook search reconnected them in 2016.

A lot has transpired in their lives over that period of separation…including JoAnne’s bout with some very serious health issues. But now that they have reconnected, both of them are making up for lost time!

Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve is a municipal recreation and camping facility run by the Padre Dam Water District. Back in the mid 1950’s, the local water district began researching ways to effectively treat wastewater for reuse. In 1961 a seven-step wastewater treatment facility opened, and the output was sent down via a surface stream to the newly constructed Santee Lakes impoundment. Today the treatment plant is capable of processing over 2,000,000 gallons of wastewater a day into fresh water that is approved for recreation uses.

Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve consists of 7 lakes with fishing, picnicking, paddle-craft boating, bicycling, and camping available.

And a mecca for aquatic birds.

Since Kit and JoAnne wanted to spend their joint birthday’s together, and since Kit wanted to be at Santee Lakes for this major milestone event, I booked our reservation back in November 2017, so we would be assured of a site in her preferred “deluxe” section of the park.

JoAnne, and her husband Ron, were able to score a spot as well and parked their rig a few doors down from us.

And, as a pleasant surprise, JoAnne noticed that hidden around their campsite were a clutch of the famous Santee Rocks!

These works of art with information on the bottom as to date and origin, have been an outdoor pastime in this area for a few years…it’s always fun to discover a Santee Rock.

Before we got to the date of the Kit and JoAnne milestone…there was a lesser birthday to celebrate at a local Mexican Restaurant. Even though I knew that our meeting up with JoAnne and Ron was to recognize my 71st birthday…

…I was totally unprepared for them to cover our bill, and, as an added bonus, they had snuck a cake into the place!

After a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday, that the entire restaurant joined in on, we enjoyed the dessert before heading back to the campground. Thanks folks, for a great birthday surprise!

As mentioned, there are various paddle-craft to rent at Santee Lakes…some of which are peddle boats.

One afternoon, Kit and I decided to walk down and rent one for an hour. After a brief indoctrination, it was off we went.

There are numerous manmade islands that dot the lakes, and we circumnavigated all but one…being the island where Mother Goose was protecting her fledglings from any and all intruders.

The boat was interesting to propel…having bicycle like pedals it was pretty simple, but not having any way to adjust the seats I was forced to pedal from an unnatural and uncomfortable position. However, it was only an hour and we had fun on the water nonetheless!

Kit and I spent a few enjoyable afternoons at JoAnne and Ron’s place a short distance away. In addition of walking down memory lane to the era of 1960’s San Diego, JoAnne shared information about her father’s military career during WWII and his war souvenir.

Serving on a US Navy warship in the Pacific, he was assigned as a member of a landing party that went ashore moments after VJ day. Reportedly, the locals were very happy to see them, and most of the Japanese military had left their weapons and gone home…so there were plenty of these Arisaka rifles…enough for most every member of the crew.

One of our favorite breakfast joints is The Omelet Factory…where we met Ron and JoAnne on three separate occasions! The food is incredible, and the portions are substantial!

On one of these visits, they invited some friends to join us.

From the left; Ron, JoAnne #2, JoAnne #1, Paul, Gavin, and Kit. Paul was a retired Navy guy, so we had a lot to talk about…great meeting you folks!

Then, the BIG DAY arrived and was kicked off with a toast to the honored septuagenarian’s! Yep, these two wonderful ladies turn a very youthful 70 year’s old!

Then there was the exchanging of gifts…

…including this very nice ring that JoAnne gave to Kit.

As nice a gift that it was, the symbolism of the ring overshadowed the gift itself…you see, JoAnne had worn that ring for many years until her debilitating illness prevented her from continuing to enjoy it. What a magnificent and loving gift from one friend to another!

The meal was catered by Blundering Bill’s Babes, Beer and Barbeque of Brunswick…

…with all the fixings…

…also cocktails and this Rack of Cerveza provided by a secret admirer.

All this was followed by an appropriate dessert from Nothing Bundt Cakes!

Which resulted in a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday sang in four-part disharmony by the assembled guests.

Happy Birthday Kit and JoAnne, love you both!

A side note…there has been a tradition that Kit and I have fallen into for the birthday boy or girl to choose how to spend their special day. Kit’s wish was to spend it with JoAnne here at Santee Lakes…and my choice was to spend my day in Del Mar attending the Goodguys National Car Show. Since our stay here has more to do with Kit and Jo’s birthday, and since I’ll likely run over my self-imposed word limit, I’ve decided to defer writing about the sights and sounds of this national event put on by the world’s largest hotrod and custom car association to an upcoming issue…Stay tuned!

Kit’s Bit’s: Such a nice way to spend our 70th Birthday! Since JoAnne and I had lost contact with each other for 50+ years, it seems only fitting that we spend as much time as we can together to get caught up on how our lives have turned out. And, spending our 70th Birthday together was exactly what I wanted. We still have lots and lots of things to share about our 50 years but, I think we both expect to be able to get together as frequently as we can in the future to “catch up”! Thank you, JoAnne and Ron for sharing our birthday! Love you both!