Greetings from San Diego

Feb 23

Greetings from San Diego

Last Thursday, we left Tucson and drove to Yuma, Arizona which is just a bit over halfway between Tucson and San Diego. We spent the night at one of the 55+ RV parks, which I was quite disappointed that they didn’t even card me. Since we weren’t going to be there long, we didn’t even unhitch the trailer. We did soak up some much needed high bandwidth internet. It’s nice that some places still know how to provide high speed internet though I wonder if the availability is somewhat due to the 55+ nature of this park. Hmm… On Friday morning, we got up early and hit the road. We were glad that we were a bit past half way because the drive gets  more involved once you start heading over the mountains into San Diego county. We climbed over 4000 feet once we got past El Centro, CA and a lot of it was through windy mountain roads (you can pronounce windy either way, both applied). I’m told the scenery was very cool and Leslie took this picture as we drove through an area called Devil’s Canyon. I was watching the road. Eventually we descended into San Diego and we got to Mission Bay RV Resort. Situated on a peninsula next to Mission Bay Park, this RV park definitely has location on its side. We are convenient to I-5 but right on the water and with nice walking and bike paths that go much of the way around the bay. Walks with Tiki are much more pleasant now that we have actual grass for her to tromp across. Grass was a much more rare commodity back in Tucson and Yuma and she got quite tired of walking across coarse gravel — as did I. The downside of this RV park is that it is an RV park. We are effectively in a big parking lot (though close to the water, which is nice) in an urban area. The location is great for the next few weeks when we’re going to the Storyline conference just across the bay and then flying back to Seattle for most of the first week of March. After that, though, we think it is...

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So Long, Tucson

Feb 19

So Long, Tucson

We’ve been in Tucson for about 3 weeks now and now it is time for us to head off into the sunset for our next destination. We’ve had a great time here, starting with Alumafiesta and later with exploring the area and catching up with some old friends but we are definitely ready to hit the road again. As expected, being near a big city like Tucson has lots of advantages – more restaurant and shopping opportunities in particular – but it also means that we’re effectively in a big parking lot so we’re looking forward to getting back to some more camping-y places. Given that our next stop is San Diego, though, it might be a while before we get back to a camping experience like Anza-Borrego. One of our goals here in Tucson was to get our power converter fixed so that we could try boondocking. When our batteries just won’t charge, even when we were plugged in to 50 amp service for days at a time, we knew there was something wrong. We asked the folks at Sutton RV to look at it but they didn’t do a very good job since they said it was fine but it definitely wasn’t. After doing some of my own investigation and getting confirmation from both Rich Luhr and some folks at Airstream, we figured that the converter just needed to be replaced. We set up an appointment with the Lazydays RV folks when we arrived and finally got in to see them last Thursday. After a nearly comic series of mishaps (note the nearly comic – it was actually approaching absurdly frustrating) they finally agreed that the converter needed to be replaced and then discovered that they didn’t have the part. Fortunately, they came through for us and brought the new converter over to our campsite yesterday to replace it and we are now running at full power again. Hint for anyone wondering why their batteries won’t charge – don’t just check the voltage, look at the amperage as well. We were getting the right number of volts but just a tiny fraction of one amp. After spending 3 weeks in one place, though, we’ve determined that 3...

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Visiting the Boneyard

Feb 08

Visiting the Boneyard

The 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, often called The Boneyard, is a United States Air Force aircraft and missile storage and maintenance facility located just a few miles from our campground. They are responsible for storing, refurbishing and destroying thousands of aircraft that are not currently usable by the US Armed Forces. If you look at the Boneyard from above, it looks like the coolest toy plane collection ever. Over 4000 planes and helicopters lined up neatly in rows in the Arizona desert. There’s actually a whole lot more than just the aircraft.  All of the manufacturing jigs from the planes are also stored there in case they needed to re-fab a part of a plane and they didn’t have any more spare parts. On the ground, though, you start to get a sense of the scale of the operation. Many of these planes are huge (C-130 and C-5s in particular) and it takes a lot of space to store them. The fighter planes are even more numerous and are packed in tightly. Some of them have already had parts removes to service other planes that are still in active use. Some are nearly ready to fly and could be back in active duty within a month or two. In some ways, it’s a bit sad to see so much hardware just waiting to be destroyed. I’m sure that many of these planes and helicopters have quite the distinguished history. According to our guide, only about 20% of the planes in the main part of AMARG will return to service and once you cross the road to the older part of the Boneyard that number drops to less than 10%. Some of this is due to planes that are past their expected lifetime – they are only expected to last for so long and once they “time out”, they are sent to the Boneyard to be scrapped. Some of the planes are destroyed because of the START treaty that requires that we destroy a certain number of B-52 bombers. If you look closely on the overhead view, you can see a few clusters of B-52s that have been clearly cut up and are left in place so that...

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Alumafiesta Begins!

Feb 05

Alumafiesta Begins!

When we started our journey, our first major destination was Tucson for the Alumafiesta rally and this week, it has begun! When we arrived at Lazydays RV resort, we saw several other Airstreams and over the past few nights the number has grown to over 100.  That’s a lot of Aluminum! Over the next few days, there will be sessions on maintenance, travel safety and the latest from Airstream as well as sessions on social media (presented by Leslie!), tours of local sites and a fair number of happy hours 🙂 It’s going to be a pretty busy week. The best part of events like this, though, is meeting other folks who are doing similar things. We got to meet up with the Mali Mish gang and Brian and Leigh from Aluminarium, people like Rhonda who we met at Alumafandango as well as Rich and Brett with R&B Events (and Airstream Life magazine) who organize all of the Aluma events (Alumafiesta, Alumafandango, Alumaflamingo and Alumapalooza). Today we took a trip up to Kitt Peak National Observatory. It’s about an hour drive up to the top of a mountain where the observatory includes more than 20 telescopes managed by groups of universities across the country including some pretty epic instruments like the McMath–Pierce solar telescope and the 4 meter Mayall telescope. All of the telescopes are fully booked by researchers though there isn’t so much activity during the day (except, probably, at the solar telescope) though the place seems to come alive around 5pm so we needed to be off the mountain by 4pm to make room for...

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Sick on the Road

Feb 02

Sick on the Road

No, not sick OF the road, we are loving it out here. Getting sick, though, is part of life and I suspect there is an increased chance when you are always in new places with unfamiliar stores, germs, etc. I got to experience this first hand on our last night in Anza-Borrego. I wasn’t feeling quite right at bedtime and in the middle of the night I woke up with that weird feeling. You know, the one where some very low-level part of your body is trying to tell you that they’ve initiated an evacuation order, the countdown has begun, but the message isn’t too clear for a while — until it is? OK, enough subtlety – I barfed. I had wondered over the past few months how that eventuality would work – it’s a pretty small bathroom. It turns out that when push comes to shove (so to speak) you figure it out quickly. Once all of the excitement is over, though, the real questions arise. How do you handle being sick on the road? We were far away from any city and we were supposed to drive that day to Painted Rock Petroglyph Site for our first night of boondocking. 250 miles to a remote location with no hookups. The first question was, do we leave at all or do we stay in place for another day so I can get enough rest. Since we needed to be in Tucson is just 2 days and we figured it would be better to get closer to a city, we decided to pack up and go but boondocking was out so we set our destination for Yuma, AZ and reserved a spot at an RV park there for the night. I was pretty out of it so that meant that I was not going to do the driving so Leslie got behind the wheel for her first day of towing (she did great!). Our insurance comes with a 24 hour nurse hotline which is a great resource when we’re on the road.  I was able to call in and talk to a nurse who not only listened to my symptoms and suggest next steps but also was willing to...

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Anza-Borrego and the Salton Sea

Jan 28

Anza-Borrego and the Salton Sea

Anza-Borrego and the Salton Sea – that sounds like a band name.  Or a Harry Potter book. Actually, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California (and the second largest in the country). We’ve spent the last few days at the Palm Canyon campground which is tucked up against some mountains near the park headquarters. For one of the first times on this trip, we really feel like we’re camping. The vistas are wonderful and the sunrises have been stellar. The nearest town, Borrego Springs, was designated as California’s first International Dark-Sky Community which means the nighttime sky is just as impressive. With very little light pollution, the stars are stunning. Yesterday was a work day so we spent part of it sitting outside at our table and as it got dark we could just look up to see the night sky dissolve into an immense field of stars. Today we made our way down to Salton City on the Salton Sea. Rich told us that the east side of the Salton Sea was much prettier, and I totally believe that but we really wanted to see Salton Sea Beach. Back in the 50’s Salton City was going to be the next big resort destination. Another Palm Springs. They designed a pretty big city, laid all the roads and ran the utilities. Then people just didn’t move in. By 2000, only 978 people lived there and while it’s up to nearly 4,000 now, that is still a very small percentage of the intended population. Much of the original infrastructure is gone now but there are still some areas that are abandoned – modern ghost town stuff. The Salton Sea is a popular place for birds, though. We drove down Seaport Avenue near Yacht Club Drive (where there is neither a sea port nor a yacht club) and saw lots of white and brown pelicans, seagulls, egrets and some species of crane that did a great pterodactyl impression. I found it interesting that the birds tended to segregate themselves by species. Maybe they just don’t speak the same language, or perhaps the seagulls can’t afford the same waterfront lots that the pelicans get. The beach itself is unusual. Since Salton...

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Seacocks and Spelunking

Jan 25

Seacocks and Spelunking

It’s a funny thing when you tell people you’re going to be RVing full-time. They tend to assume your life will now be margaritas on the beach 24/7. They think of the best times they’ve had in an RV, or, even more likely, the pictures they’ve seen in magazines, and they think that’s the lifestyle. Well, just like anything else in life, it’s part of the lifestyle. But there’s still regular old life that happens, too. Case in point: clogged toilets. This new Airstream of ours has a macerating toilet, which means it shreds up the “contents” of the toilet before it flushes them into the black water tank. I’m not sure why this is considered a useful feature. Perhaps one of you readers can tell me. But I will tell you this. The goddamn macerator gets clogged at the drop of a hat. Oh, this also means our toilet is an electric toilet and anytime the macerator has to strain in the tiniest bit it blows a fuse. Yes, you read that last line correctly: Our toilet regularly blows a fuse. You can buy special RV toilet tissue that’s quite expensive but promises to flush and break up easily. It’s pretty much tissue paper. We’d heard that any toilet paper that was labeled “septic safe” would work, so we bought a roll of “septic safe” Scott 2-ply. This was the first time we discovered what owning a macerating toilet was really all about.  It spun that “septic-safe” 2-ply paper into cotton rope and jammed up good. Learning that lesson, we reverted to regular ol’ Scott one-ply. Problem solved. Except, if you use too much it still sometimes blows a fuse. Now to last night: I was very tired and cleaning my face with a disposable face wipe.  I absent-mindedly threw it in the toilet and flushed. The toilet immediately made the loud buzzing/roaring sound that we now know means the macerator’s jammed. “What did you do this time?” Chris asked from the bed. Here’s some free marital advice: Never ask that question to your spouse. Ever. We went to sleep and figured we’d deal with it in the morning.  The Sealand 8100 Series MasterFlush™ manual says to clear...

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