Full Time Blogs - December 2005

December 1, 2005

Our last web log post was from Las Cruces, NM and apologies to everyone, it was a test post to see if we could actually post on the web log. From now on, our posts will have more substance and be based on the reality of our day-to-day activities.

Well, to date, we’ve been on the road a little over two months. We’ve visited with family and friends along the way in Georgia, North Carolina, and Indiana. We took time out to visit the US Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. It was a fantastic museum and one well worth another visit in the future. Leaving the Mid-West, we decided to head to the Southwest for a month or so before the year-end holidays in California. We anticipated staying in Arizona but fell under the charm of the Organ Mountains in Las Cruces, NM and ended up staying there for three weeks.

We had a good trip over from Las Cruces and after spending Thanksgiving with family in Thousand Oaks, are now located at Malibu Beach RV Park in Malibu, CA. We have stayed here before and knew the basic layout of the park. It was with this knowledge; we chose a wonderful back-in space, which would allow us to make full use of the picture windows at the rear of our rv. Our view consists of Pacific Coast Highway several hundred feet below, Catalina Island to the left, Santa Barbara Island of the Channel Island chain straight out and the many container ships and freighters which pass the islands. We also see the occasional dolphins playing in the water beneath our site.

One of the high points of our trip so far has been the people we’ve met, particularly fellow rv’ers. Some have been snowbirds, some full-timers, and some have been out for a brief holiday but almost all have been a delightful surprise. We can only hope this trend continues.

December 2, 2005

Rain? Are you kidding, this is Southern California! I guess we shouldn't be surprised since Mark Kreski on the KTLA Morning Show predicted it, so it has to be for real. Took a quick walk with Sparkie, then felt a few raindrops and quickly sequestered ourselves back in the trailer with the million dollar view. More to follow ...

December 4, 2005

The rains are gone and have been replaced by sparkling clear skies. The skies are sparkling clear because we are in a period of high winds. We recorded one gust of 48 miles per hour on our hand-held wind meter. Gusts were strong enough to prompt us to bring our slides in last night, no big deal, but we wanted to protect the slide awnings from the wind. Winds are still up but are expected to diminish tomorrow.

Had a nice brunch with Margo's brother, Tom, sister-in-law, Deb and niece, Suz. Tom recommended that we eat at Marmalade Cafe in the Malibu Colony, which turned out to be an excellent choice, great food! They brought us a very cute Christmas ornament, which we will enjoy displaying during the upcoming holidays. Thanks Tom, Deb and Suz.

Found out that the "dolphins" we've been enjoying watching play just beyond the surf line, are actually pilot whales. They never cease to be entertaining to watch.

December 7, 2005

Our days here at Malibu are pretty much the same consisting of mundane chores like grocery shopping, doing the laundry and maintaining the RV. We take walks on paths in the local hills, sit in the sun and do some reading when we feel like it. It probably sounds boring but in reality it isn't.

We've been renting our videos at the Malibu Colony Shopping Center Blockbuster. For those who don't know, many of the Colony residents are celebrities connected with the motion picture industry. For instance, Tom Hanks is known to rent DVD's at the Malibu Blockbuster so every time we rent a picture, we always wonder who's machine our particular DVD has been in. Maybe we should learn how to check them for fingerprints! Anyway, it's fun to rent there and shop at the nearby Ralph's Super Market. Never know whom you might see there. Things do tend to be more expensive though.

We made a run over to Marina Del Rey this morning. Marina Del Rey is the largest man-made pleasure boat harbor in the world and is absolutely huge. We've been going over there for years and would love to live there. We stopped at Fisherman’s Village and grabbed a coffee and roll then consumed them while walking and checking out the boats. We drove over to West Marine and picked up a few things there, then drove to the other side of the marina and took another walk. Sparkie joined us on that walk and made sure that the local plants were watered. It was a good day.

December 10, 2005

We're still located in Malibu and enjoying every minute of it. The view out over the Pacific and the awesome sunsets are alone worth the price of admission.

Margo was checking Sparkie for fleas and such when she noticed a large bump on the inside of one of his earflaps. She asked me to take a look at it and it took me all of 5 seconds to recognize it as a tick. We'd never seen ticks on any of our dogs before so this was new to us. We ended up putting a drop of Advantage (a flea killer) on the tick then waited a few minutes for it to work. Margo then used her nails to gently pull the tick out. It was really buried in his ear and didn't want to come out. There was a small pit left in the ear after the tick removal. Sparkie had been acting a little listless and we thought something was wrong with him before we spotted the tick. He's back to his old self now but it taught us to check him out frequently for these types of things. He must have picked it up during one of our hikes in the local coastal hills.

We can't believe we'll be leaving for San Diego one week from tomorrow. We've been debating whether to decorate the trailer for Christmas now or wait until we get to San Diego. I think we'll wait until San Diego then we'll get the full impact of both a new location and Christmas all at one time. To be honest, it's a little hard to feel Christmassy when people are surfing right outside of our living room windows and the temps. are in the mid 70's!

December 11, 2005

Ever since we've been here in Malibu, we've been wanting to take a walk down Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) to the Colony shopping center just for exercise and today we went for it. The total distance down there is 2.7 miles or 5.4 round trip. There are a few long, fairly steep hills between here and there which makes it a decent workout. It was a nice sunny day with temps in the high 60’s, which made it perfect for walking. While at the Colony we rented a Blockbuster video (Napoleon Dynamite) that our oldest daughter has been begging us to see (we'll let you know how we like it Heather!) and really enjoyed the walk.

On the way back we spotted a cell phone laying on the ground and picked it up to check it out. It was turned on with plenty of battery power remaining so we figured that somebody must have dropped it by accident and would certainly want it back. When we got back to the trailer, I started looking through the phones address book trying to find another phone number, like a "home" number, for the owner so I could give them a call. After checking out the entire phone all I could come up with was a late-night call to a woman named Leanne. I called her number and ended up leaving her a message so that she could hopefully get in contact with the owner of the phone and have them give us a call back on it. A few minutes later we got a call on the phone from a guy who said that he was the owner and sounded relieved that we had tried to contact him. Turns out that he went to use the phone, discovered it missing then decided to call the number to see if anybody would answer. We told him where we were and soon he was here to pickup his phone. Meanwhile, Leanne called to see what was going on and I told her that Brian, the phones owner, had called and that everything was okay. The owner turned out to be a nice young surfer who lives down the road in Santa Monica. He had stopped to surf and apparently dropped the phone getting back into his car. He offered us what money he had in his pocket as a reward but of course we declined it. He was a nice kid and we were just happy to see him get his phone back.

December 12, 2005

Today was a chores and workday for both of us. The truck hadn't had a really good cleaning since we left Florida so today was its day. This RV park has an area where they allow guests to bucket wash their vehicles including the RV's themselves. The cost to wash a car or pickup is $5.00, which seems fair to me. So out came the cleaning gear and the truck got a good going over. I even washed the bed and under the hood.

While I was giving the truck the once over, Margo was cleaning the inside of the trailer from top to bottom. When I got back from the truck wash the trailer just sparkled. She had even oiled the wood and used leather treatment on the chairs. It's nice to have everything looking nice and clean at the same time so this was a very productive morning for us.

After our cleaning spree we hit the road in the clean truck to do the grocery shopping. The prices are on the high side down at the Colony Ralph’s market so we drove down towards Santa Monica and did the shopping at the Vons. The Vons is at the intersection of Sunset and PCH and has been there for many years. It's on the small side but has everything we need.

The afternoon was spent watching a DVD, "Napoleon Dynamite". For those that haven't seen it, this picture is a series of short scenes dealing with the life of a very nerdy high school guy. Can you say "geek"? To be honest, it's a stupid movie but you can't help but laugh at some of the dumb things that happen to this guy. The dialog is pretty stupid too but very funny. I gave it a thumbs up while Margo gave it a hearty thumbs down, her feeling that it was just too dumb.

December 13, 2005

This will be a short post because to be honest, we were slugs today. Didn't really do much except take a short ride up into the Malibu Ranch area behind the RV park. The road is a very narrow two lane and very steep. But it took us up maybe, 600-700 feet to an absolutely stunning view of the coastal hills below and the Pacific Ocean beyond. We felt as though we could see Hawaii on a clear day. It came as no surprise to find some very expensive and very beautiful homes up that way. One house was constructed of steel and glass configured in pyramid shapes. The entire structure was cantilevered out over a canyon with a breath taking ocean view. That place is like nothing we've ever seen and definitely an easy candidate for HGTV's "Extreme Homes" program. We're going to head back up there and try to get a photo of it before we leave Malibu. If the photo comes out okay we'll try to post it in the photo gallery.

December 14, 2005

If you go south from here and hang a left at Sunset, the road will take you over a range of coastal hills populated by lushly landscaped, multi-million dollar homes. You'll share the poorly maintained (by Southern California standards)road with every type of exotic car available and see lots of trendy people. The road will pass by the campus of UCLA and the high-end neighborhood of Bel Air. Soon you'll come to the old Sheik Al-Fassi property on the left and the north-end of the famous Rodeo Drive shopping area on the right before passing into the city limits of West Hollywood. There stands one of our all time favorite restaurants, Carney's. Carney's Restaurant is made up of two ex-Union Pacific passenger cars and serves possibly the best hot dogs and hamburgers in the world. You can dine inside or outside on the patio while watching the rich and famous pass by on Sunset. So today we felt it was time to head on over and have lunch. We've been going to Carney's for over 20 years and it feels like home to us. We both ordered burgers and fries washed down with ice-cold coronas. We had a chat with one of the owners and I reminded him that he sold me an employee t-shirt back in the early 80's. They now offer t-shirts for sale but I still have my original. If you're ever in the area, we highly recommend Carney's: www.carneytrain.com

After our run over to Carney's the rest of the day was pretty quiet. Margo worked on the computer and I performed some minor tasks on the trailer. Sparkie got his Advantage flea treatment, which he hates. He's not talking to us now.

December 15, 2005

Funny how easy it is to fall into a routine when staying at one place for a while. Today we went back down to the Malibu Colony to return a DVD to Blockbuster and found ourselves at Diedrich Coffee, a local coffee bar. Margo ordered a mocha and I had a cappuccino. We also spotted a couple of danish pastries with our name on them. (I know, I know, but it's the holiday season, we can diet later!)

While sitting at the coffee bar people watching we spotted two SUV's pull into the parking lot that were heavily disguised manufacturing prototypes. Both were white and had all identifying marks and badges covered over and both the front and rear of the cars were completely covered as well. Just small holes for the head and taillights to peek through. I love things like that and couldn't wait to go over and check them out. The first of the two had a heavy black fabric pulled down over the dashboard and steering wheel so that they were completely covered. Even the tiny manufacturers printing on the window glass was spray-painted black so it couldn't be read. I don't know too much about SUV's but I tried to figure out what brand they were and just couldn't. My guess was that they were from GM but that was just a guess. The puzzle was solved when we went to check out the second of the two vehicles. The driver of this car was careless and left his steering wheel/dashboard cover off and there was even a partially covered book in the back seat with an undisguised photo of the car on the cover! The real clue as to what make of car they were came when I noticed that the duct tape covering one of the wheel center caps had come off revealing the Hyundai stylized "H" on it. Puzzle solved! They were Hyundai engineering prototypes undergoing road tests under "real world" conditions. I don't really consider the Malibu Colony to be part of the real world but hey, maybe Hyundai is going upscale!

December 16, 2005

We'll be leaving here in two days so we've been trying to get ourselves in a travel mode even though our next destination is only down to San Diego. That includes doing the laundry and making sure that everything is shipshape on the trailer.

We took one last run up into the hills above Malibu and managed to take a couple of photos of that amazing home we talked about in an earlier post (December 13, 2005) above. We tried to get closer to the house but it was impossible so we were forced to take a shot across a canyon. It didn't help matters that we picked a day when the coastal fog was rolling in and it was a bit hazy. The results are photos of iffy quality (see them in the "photo gallery") but at least they show how extreme the home really is. If you are ever in the area, it's located up off of Corral Canyon Road in Malibu. Some of the streets are very narrow up that way and our Dodge dually was taking up the whole road with no place for cars to pass. Luckily we met no vehicles going the opposite direction.

We spent the evening watching a Christmas DVD, "Noel", starring Penelope Cruz, Susan Sarandon, Paul Walker, Alan Arkin with a special cameo by Robin Williams. It was a movie from the "It's A Wonderful Life" or "Family Man" genres. Pictures that cause the viewer to reflect on the good things in life and who they are. Not a bad thing for this time of year.

December 17, 2005

We started the day off by returning a video to Blockbuster then picking up a few food items down at the local Ralph's Market. That will be our last shopping trip down to the Malibu Colony area before departing here tomorrow morning. We will be sad to leave it.

We were invited to dinner at Margo's brothers home in Thousand Oaks and the plan was for us to be over there at 5:00 pm. We also needed to pick up Margo's mother from her place on the way. Since we needed to purchase a few items at a hardware store we left here a little early for the 30 minute drive over to Thousand Oaks. We made a stop at the Orchard Supply Hardware store over there and then made an additional stop for diesel. After picking up Margo's Mom we headed over to Tom and Deb's home where they had a wonderful dinner waiting for us. After cocktails and dinner we took Margo's Mom back home then made the run back over here to Malibu. The dinner was wonderful and we appreciated the effort that went into preparing it. Our thanks and holiday greetings to Tom, Deb and daughter Suz.

It's hard to believe we've been here in Malibu for three weeks. We've always loved it here and hate to leave but the road calls.

December 18, 2005

I was sleeping like a log but Margo was awakened by the sound of raindrops hitting our trailer roof during the night. I was conked out but she lay there thinking that maybe we might have to make our run down to Chula Vista in the rain. Not to worry, the morning dawned a little overcast but dry. So at 9:00 am we departed Malibu, trailer in tow, destined for the RV Resort at Chula Vista.

When our trailer sits for a while it literally starts to gather cobwebs and seems to become almost a permanent structure. It needs to roll down the road to be alive, same with the truck. Cummins diesels love to pull hard and get heated up so that when they putt around town they seem to get restless, yearning for a load and a chance to hit the open road. It's only about 150 miles from Malibu down to Chula Vista but both truck and trailer got a chance to stretch their legs today. We made the trip down in good time and actually ended up a little ahead of our self-imposed schedule. With time to kill, we stopped at a local Camping World RV Supply to pick up a few items and window shop. We rolled into Chula Vista a little after 1:00 pm, still ahead of our schedule. Official check in time at this park is 2:00 pm, but they didn't say anything when we checked in a little early. The park staff assigned us a nice end space with a partial view of San Diego Bay and we should be very happy here for the next month.

Chula Vista RV Resort (www.chulavistarv.com) is located in the town of Chula Vista, CA on the eastern shores of San Diego Bay. The park is just a few miles south of the city of San Diego, which makes it convenient to all of the local attractions. It's also located just a few miles north of the Mexican border, for those that would like to sample a touch of Mexico. We know from past experience that the San Diego area has a lot to offer and thus the stage is set for our next month's worth of adventures.

December 19, 2005

It's always fun to change sites, especially when we've been in one location for a while. But when we get to a new RV park it dawns on us that we have a certain amount of setting up and cleaning to do before we really feel settled. Such was the case today. We woke up anticipating a day of fun and games but the reality was that we needed to do some chores in preparation for the Christmas holiday.

Chula Vista RV Resort is located adjacent to several marinas and marinas are like second homes to us. So we started the day off by taking a brisk walk from the RV park to the other side of the most distant marina and back. It was a very scenic walk around to the other side with San Diego Bay as a backdrop. We quickly vowed to take this walk every morning that we're here. But when we got back to the trailer it was time to stop procrastinating and get the chores done.

My wonderful wife loves to decorate for Christmas (and all other holidays and occasions for that matter!) and couldn't wait for me to break out the "Christmas box" from our RV basement. Before we sold the house in Orlando, we had tons of Christmas decorations, which, out of necessity, were pared down, to one plastic tub for the trailer. We call it the "Christmas box". We were waiting for Chula Vista to do the Christmas decorating so this was my day to delve into the basement and extract the box. Once Margo had it she quickly opened it up and set to work transforming our little rolling home into a warm and wonderful holiday setting.

Call it advancing age or just plain laziness, but I let my fingers do the walking straight to a local RV wash and detailing service. One quick call and some folks were here to wash the trailer and make it sparkle. In my defense, this park like many, doesn't allow guests to wash their own rigs. They have many reasons for this prohibition, but the fact is that they tend to frown on the practice. So it was with a minimum of guilt that I stood back and watched as the trailer got the once over.

December 20, 2005

Who in their right mind wants to visit Costco, Wal-Mart, or Home Depot this time of year? Not us, but that's exactly what we did today. Throw in an upholstery shop, the local Dodge dealer and Albertson’s to shop for a week's worth of food and...well, you get the idea. Everything was crowded, but folks seemed to be in good spirits, which helped to soften the experience. It also helped that we started the day at an I-Hop in El Cajon. Pancake platters and industrial strength coffee for both of us!

When a person enters into the "retirement mode" the days seem to run together and people actually have to ask their better half which day of the week it is. In fact, you can actually buy "day of the week" clocks that only display the day of the week and are targeted at the retirement community. The point is, it's hard to put the holidays into perspective when you can't even get the days of the week straight. So here we are with Christmas only a few days away and so many things to do. It's almost as though it has snuck up on us. But today was a good day. We put a real dent into our holiday preparations. There are only a few loose ends to tie up tomorrow then we can relax and enjoy one of the most wonderful times of the year.

December 21, 2005

Today was the day to tie up those loose ends and we did - sorta. There's still a few day-to-day items left to do, such as our laundry, but we're getting there.

The truck was starting to look shabby so I took it up to a coin car wash and gave it the once over. It isn't until you hand wash one of these quad-cab dually's that you realize how big they are. You get a workout but it's worth it when they end up looking nice and clean.

I also made a stop at the local Dodge dealer to pick up some factory splashguards that I had ordered for the front tires. We have regular commercial vehicle mud flaps on the rear but we found that the front tires were throwing mud and dirt onto the running boards and that dirt was being transferred into the truck when we get in. So I picked up the front flaps and installed them today. They look good and will help keep things clean.

While I was busy with the truck, Margo was busy cleaning the trailer interior, especially the carpet that was starting to show some soil in the high traffic areas. She loves having so little space to keep clean. This is a far cry from the 2200 square feet of our home in Orlando. She can spend an hour to an hour and a half and have the coach spotless from top to bottom.

I almost forgot, we bought walkie talkies! We've always made fun of RV'ers who use walkie-talkies when doing their light checks. What, like old-fashioned hand signals aren't good enough? Anyway, we bought our walkie-talkies to do the satellite dish setup. Now when we arrive at a new RV park and I do my dish aiming routine Margo can stay in the trailer and let me know when I have it aimed properly. I have a signal strength meter but to be honest, it doesn't always work that great. It only gets me in the ballpark and I still have to run back and forth between the dish and the tv to see if I have a proper signal. We'll see how our new system works the next time we set up at a new location. Oh, almost forgot, we thought we should have "handles" for when we talk between ourselves. Margo is the "Bandit", I'm the "Snowman". Corny? Oh yeah!

December 22, 2005

Today we wrapped up our chores by doing the laundry and picking up a few last minute items at the local Target and Albertson's stores. We returned to the RV park around 1:00 pm only to find that the bright sunny afternoon had been replaced by a slow moving fog bank. It's been a long time since we've seen a genuine afternoon California costal fog roll in. It reminded us of our sailing days when we would side-tie our boat up at San Francisco's Pier 39 marina. We'd sit back under the dodger with a beverage and watch the afternoon fog slide beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. The city lights would be coming on with the sound of foghorns bellowing in the background. Those were great days and we miss them.

One of the items we purchased when we were at Costco was a set of sheepskin seat covers for the truck so I installed them today. We've had them on several vehicles in the past and we like them because they not only save wear and tear on the factory seat covers, but they also tend to be cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Costco seems to always have them in stock at all of their stores. Next time you fly on a Boeing jet peek into the cockpit and you'll see that the flight deck crew sit on sheepskins too.

We've stayed in the San Diego area before so it comes as no surprise to us that people here are genuinely nice and friendly. Maybe it's the wonderful climate or the beautiful scenery, but people will smile and greet you in stores and on the street. They'll hold the door for you and give you the right of way on the road. This behavior is even more surprising considering the vast mix of cultures and races that call this area home. In our opinion, the San Diego and Chula Vista areas are a model of how the peoples of the entire world should co-exist. This courteous and friendly behavior strikes us as being totally in keeping with the spirit of the season. We've come to the conclusion that there might be no better place than Chula Vista to spend Christmas and the holidays.

December 23, 2005

Today was haircut day! Before we left Orlando I asked Margo if she'd like to try cutting my hair once we were on the road. The thinking was that we could save the $14 (including tip) I was paying for haircuts in Orlando and it would be a lot more convenient. She agreed to give it her best shot so we ordered a hair cutting kit off of the internet. When the kit arrived we found it to contain not only the regulation barbers clippers and related accessories, but also an instructional DVD showing how to cut hair. Now, I don't have much hair left and I tend to keep it short, but it does need to be trimmed every few weeks. So after viewing the DVD and pondering the situation, we both felt comfortable enough for her to fire up the clippers and give it a go.

The results have been just great! As of this date, she's cut my hair a total of six times and each haircut gets just a little better than the one before it. She's fast too with each haircut taking only about 10 minutes. Six haircuts at $14 each equals $84. The haircutting kit only cost $56 including shipping so we're already $28 ahead! I told her that we should put up a sign outside of the trailer saying something like, "Haircuts For Geezers, $5.00" to make a few bucks extra on the side but she won't have it. Gees, I wonder why not?

The rest of the day was goof off time. We sat outside in the sun and read our books. The evening was spent watching my favorite movie, "The Family Man" starring Nicholas Cage and Tea Leoni. The picture is sort of a modern day "It's A Wonderful Life" and I love it. We also had mugs of hot buttered rum and some Christmas cookies to go with the movie. It's these small things that make the holidays special for us.

December 24, 2005

This has been a very quiet Christmas Eve for us. We woke up to bright sunshine and warm temps and had plans to enjoy breakfast out under the awning only to find that our chairs were soaking wet from the evening dew and from the park sprinkler system. No problem though, the fog came back in a few minutes later and we would have came back inside anyway.

The highlight of the day was our walk to the other side of the marina area. It was still foggy out which made for good walking. Nice and cool.

Except for watching "A Christmas Story" on DVD there really isn't much else to report for today.

We were wondering though, how much Santa, his sleigh and eight tiny reindeer (9 counting Rudolph) weigh. We hope they don't overload the coach when they land on the roof tonight!

December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! We hope that friends and family alike have had a wonderful holiday.

We started the day off with a breakfast of those cinnamon rolls that come in the cardboard tube (refrigerator rolls?). You know, the ones that are in the dairy case down at the store. You pop them into the oven and then put frosting on top. We chose the orange flavored ones accompanied by some industrial strength coffee. We love this simple breakfast combination but save it for special occasions due to the calorie count. What a wonderful feeling it is to enjoy a favorite breakfast on such a special holiday morning.

After breakfast and with both of us experiencing a touch of cabin fever, we decided to take a ride over to Coronado. Coronado is located across San Diego Bay from San Diego and is always a nice place to visit. It's a town of beautiful older restored homes situated on picturesque tree lined streets, some with stunning water views. Coronado has a nice mix of shops and residential areas that make it appealing enough to possibly be the most expensive community in the country. Among the real estate treasures of Coronado is the wonderful Hotel Del Coronado. The "Del" was built in 1888 and is a beautiful old structure in the same class as the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island or the Mohonk Mountain house in Upstate New York. Being dressed in shorts and sweatshirts, we shunned the Del Coronado for a stop at the Coronado Landing Park to take in the view and take a stroll among the shops located there. Being Christmas, most of the shops were closed but we were really there for the excellent view of the San Diego skyline across the bay. We weren't alone, others seemed to have the same idea as us and were also out to take photos and enjoy the day.

After our little jaunt to Coronado, we decided to return back home and relax in the sun. It was then that we ran into long time boating and RV friends Gary and Terri Metz. We thought that we might see them at some point during the holidays and were delighted to see such old and dear friends here at Chula Vista on Christmas. We quickly set about catching up on the latest news while enjoying a glass of champagne. Unfortunately their stay here will be all too short as they need to return back to Northern California and work on Wednesday. They will be missed.

December 26, 2005

Before parting last night, we agreed to meet the Metz's for breakfast at "The Galley", a nice restaurant on the water near the RV park. 9:00 am found the four of us at The Galley having breakfast and enjoying more conversation. Inevitably the conversation turned to RV's (now there's a big surprise!) and the pros and cons of trailers vs. motor homes, full-time vs. part time, etc. We discussed other things too, maybe too many things, but it was the conversation of old friends who have been apart for too long and have a lot of catching up to do.

After breakfast I accompanied Gary over to a local GMC dealership where he had his Duramax diesel's oil changed. Since he's a service director at a S.F. Bay Area General Motors dealership, it was great fun watching him show up as a "customer" at the local dealership and then make the transition into an industry "insider". Needless to say, once they knew what he did for a living, the red carpet came out. In all honesty, they were giving him excellent service before they knew what his profession was, still fun to watch though.

After a satisfying session of male bonding at the GM dealership, Gary and I returned back to the RV park where we joined the wives for an impromptu lunch and of course, more holiday champagne. Realizing that they'd have a long drive ahead of them tomorrow, they headed back to their trailer to rest and prepare for the trip. Margo and I fell back into our familiar evening routine of having dinner and feeding the dog.

December 27, 2005

Today we set the clock (now there's something we haven't had to do for a while!) and got up early so that we could see the Metz's off on their long trip back up to the S.F. Bay Area. We gave our good-bye hugs then stood there in the early morning light waving to them until they disappeared around the corner.

Once back home in the trailer, we ate breakfast then set out on our morning walk to the other side of the marina. Just for fun, we took our handheld GPS along with us so that we can see how far we walk over our little course. When we walk we usually like to cover at least 3 miles so we were pleased to find today's total coming in at 2.9. All we need to do in the future is add a little more distance to achieve our daily minimum goal. We use the GPS primarily when we're out on the highway but it's also fun to take on walks. It's an inexpensive little unit but still packs a lot of features.

Margo and I both like to read but our supply of unread material has been dwindling to the point where we needed to find a bookstore. We found a Border's Bookstore at the Chula Vista Mall where we were able to make a few additions to our "library". The library consists of a small locker over our living room sofa and is usually packed with paperback's. In fact we need to start weeding some of them out by leaving the ones we no longer want at an RV park "book share" area.

December 28, 2005

With Christmas behind us we felt it was time to begin our San Diego area sightseeing. We got cleaned up, grabbed the camera and set out for San Diego's wonderful Balboa Park. According to their website they have, "Over 85 Performing Arts and International Culture Organizations, 15 Museums, The World Famous San Diego Zoo, Gardens, Hiking and Biking Trails, Recreational Facilities and Restaurants". Wow, Can't miss all of that! With Sparkie left behind guarding the trailer, we made the short run up I-5 to the Balboa Park turnoff, which is about as far as we got before we ran into a huge line of vehicles, all queuing for the Balboa Park parking areas. It took us all of about 5 seconds to decide that we wanted none of that so we got out of line and headed back towards Chula Vista. We visited the park three years ago during the Christmas holidays and it was very quiet, especially in the morning hours but not this year. Since we'll be here until mid-January we have plenty of time to let the holiday crowds calm down then we can go back. Today’s experience gave us pause as to whether or not we want to try any of the other local attractions. At this point, we plan to take it one day at a time and watch to see the crowds thin out. It's nice to have that luxury.

With Balboa Park sitting on the back burner, we decided to do something constructive while we were out so we did the week's worth of grocery shopping at a local Von's store. Real exciting I know but with the cost of fuel we thought we'd get it done since we were out.

After that we returned to the trailer and goofed off until 5:00 pm at which point we attended a "happy hour" up at the swimming pool area. Alcohol is limited to beer and wine, but they do provide complimentary tidbits to munch on. RV'ers tend to be a social bunch and many will look for any chance to mingle so this event was well attended.

The weekend weather forecast is for rain so we better get out and enjoy the sun while we can. pulling a 5th wheel

December 29, 2005

Today was destined to be uneventful and some what boring until some folks came into the park with a pickup truck pulling a 5th wheel and absolutely couldn't back it into their assigned space. Come to find out they had been assigned another space in the park but couldn't back into that one either. We watched as the man tried repeatedly to back into the space with the wife directing him but just couldn't do it. Even from a distance I could sense his frustration. I was just about to go over and offer a hand when another fellow showed up and started offering pointers on backing a trailer. I figured that was it and that between the two of them it wouldn't be long until the trailer was in the space. Wrong guess. The situation got even worse with the truck and trailer completely jack-knifed past the 90-degree point and nowhere near to being in. I could see a small crowd of onlookers starting to form down the way. Each one a sidewalk superintendent with cold beer in hand, hand gestures flying but no one stepping forward to help this poor guy.

Finally I couldn't take it anymore so I went over and offered them assistance, which by now they were delighted to receive. Come to find out, the man who originally offered his assistance owned a motor home and didn't know how to back either! It was the blind leading the blind. Finally I went over to the truck and told the driver to pull his rig all the way out into the street and we'd start from scratch. He was very tired and frustrated by now and was having a hard time following my instructions but soon the trailer was in the space and positioned the way that they wanted it. To me, backing is a very simple and straightforward process but some people have a hard time with it. My advice to new trailer owners is to take their new truck and trailer out to a quiet industrial area on the weekend when businesses are closed and just practice backing. Set a few empty milk jugs out and practice backing around them. I also advise new owners to start off by trying to back their rigs in a straight line. It's much harder than it seems and gives practice in directing the path of the trailer.

Last night we ate "all you can eat" fish and chips over at the Galley Restaurant. After dinner we went into the bar and had a few drinks before returning to the RV park. For some reason the park guests were in a festive mood with lots of small parties and get-togethers going on. Kind of fun but we'll be happy when the holidays are behind us and the quiet times return.