January 23 2016 Getting ready to go

When we originally booked into our camping spot at Wilderness Lakes here in Menifee, we were scheduled to depart on 1/25/16. We have decided to ignore that and depart for our next Thousand Trails RV park north of Santa Barbara. It is called Rancho Oso and we have been there a couple times before. The last time we were there, in October 2014, their internet capabilities were terrible so this may be the last post for a bit.
Peggy performed some snazzy re-upholstery work on her chair and I puttered around with stabilizers and cargo repositioning in preparation for departure tomorrow, a day earlier than we were scheduled to leave. A couple weeks ago we went to see my sister in Pasadena on a Sunday and noted the traffic was smooth. We’ll try Sunday again, right during the football playoffs, in the hopes of having a trip through the metropolitan L.A. area without the usual weekday hellish traffic.
It has been okay here in Menifee for the last few weeks. The park is nice, particularly if it has not rained recently. They do have some drainage issues but the utilities worked well (except for the water which was shut down for a few hours one day) and the park does have nice amenities. There is abundant waterfowl hanging out in the park and they were quite interesting. The swans jealously guarded the mud puddle near our trailer and made considerable honking and squawking sounds when protecting us from small dogs, geese and truck tires. Shopping is close. We found a few good local restaurants.
However, the locale is just not that inspiring. The drives we took to Dana Point and Idyllwild were very nice but those are about the only places to go other than Hemet, home to the highest average population age of 71. I give the place a C+.
A couple bird pix are available; click here

January 22 2016 More Home Depot fun

We arose and prepared to take off for an excursion to Home Depot and a Trader Joe’s in Temecula without our usual coffee and Irish Cream because the circuit we use for brewing coffee remains stone dead from yesterday’s suspected defective breaker.
Since we were early birds at Home Depot, we were in and out in record time. We popped over to T. Joe’s where we were also early arrivals and we whizzed through there, too. Folks around here must do their shopping later in the day.
Once back at the Barbarian Invader, I installed our newly acquired breaker into the panel and damned if that didn’t cure our problem. All the 120 volt receptacles in our traveling home are now functional and just raring to have something stuffed into them. Peggy did more fun insurance stuff and took care of our satellite provider for another month. I’m quite proud of her for doing this because the wi-fi here, despite being costly, is very slow and any attempts at doing anything on the internet is fraught with failures, slowdowns and outright stops.

January 21 2016 The Layabouts at home

It is fortunate that we don’t often set agendas for our activities. We closely followed today’s lack of agenda by engaging in some loafing and related activities. However, some cumbersome tasks did rear their ugly heads.
First, our new and noisy new phone made a noise and Peggy was able to find out that some boots ordered from Oddball in Portland had arrived at the Wilderness Lakes Ranger station and we wandered over and grabbed them.
We took out the trash. I did some computer work remaining from considerable procrastinating in the far and recent past. Peggy queried insurance companies about how much money we can give them based on where we live. It was all mundane.
Right about time we needed to turn on our heater, the 120 volt circuit it was plugged into made a muted tripped breaker noise and all the outlets on the passenger side of the Invader went dead. The creators of this trailer have cleverly placed the main electrical panel down at floor level which is miserable for fat, elderly persons like me. I flopped down to panel level and began speculating on the electrical issue.
After some unsightly squirming and tortured grunting, I came to the conclusion that the breaker itself was junk. Peggy and I will make another trip to Home Depot tomorrow to attempt to buy a 15 amp breaker. It seems strange that in the last week I have been in more home improvement stores than I used to visit when I lived in a house.

January 20 2016 2nd Idyllwild attempt

Peg and I woke up at an almost normal time of 7:30 and drank some coffee mixed with our non-dairy creamer, Irish Cream, and ate a Peggy-created egg, pork and spud dish. We both got in quick showers and then departed for our second assault of the road to Idyllwild. It is a pretty steep and very twisty road and there was roadside snow but the surfaces were good. We arrived in Mountain Center and turned north on CA-242 and continued on to Idyllwild, elevation 5300′. We drove around on the back streets a bit before going further up 242 to Pine Cove, elevation 6200′, where we checked out the Thousand Trails Idyllwild campground, one of the member parks where we get to stay without cost.
The park is located in a gorgeous setting but very recent snows seemed to present problems because quite a few of the trailers or motor homes were snowed in on the roads that were open. A large segment of the campground was closed and the dump station access road had a couple feet of snow blocking any attempts to dump tanks in a campground with very few sewer hookups. Perhaps I will brave the serpentine, steep roads to get to this campground but I believe I will wait until any season but winter.
CA-242 becomes the Banning – Idyllwild Panoramic Highway north of Pine Cove and the steep, winding road down the mountain is pretty spectacular. Vistas of the San Jacinto Mountains area on one side of the road and the San Gorgonio Mountain wilderness ahead make for a delightful treat as long as you are not driving. I rode shotgun today so I got some great views of the surroundings but Peggy was driving and kept her eyes glued to the tricky highway conditions so we ultimately closed the loop west on I-10 and south on CA-79 back to Wilderness Lakes.
Unfortunately, although one of our dogs, Jezebel, gave us a health scare yesterday but turned out to be fine, our other dog, Jack, got to go to the vet today. We suspected Jack had some problems but we sort of rescued him from a crummy place 4 years ago and have been spoiling him since. Today the cancer in him presented itself in a horrible fashion by filling his stomach with blood. Jack was euthanized about 7:00 PM.
All of the family is bummed. Jack was our wonderful friend and protector, a great example of a big, shiny Dobie and he will be missed.
For a few pix, click here

January 19 ’16 Kid visit

Today we woke up at 6:30 which is a bit early for us. Peggy and I must have been awakened by anticipation since we believed our daughter was coming up from San Diego to see us. Dana arrived pretty much on time despite being stymied by the lack of paving and the clever mis-marking of road names in this locale.
We decided to pop into a local restaurant called the Breakfast Club over where Newport crosses the I-215. It was a nice day and we got a great seat outside and were fed pretty good food at very reasonable prices. They even helped me continue my quest for the best chicken fried steak in the country. The Breakfast Club serves a good-sized portion of meat with a good coating and sausage gravy but, despite being pretty good, they can’t hold a candle to the same dish at Dean’s in Clackamas and Jake’s in Bend, OR.
We retired back to our Barbarian Invader where Dana and Peg started getting prepared for some loafing or napping. Neither occurred because they both yakked at each other until a cease fire was called around 2:00 when Dana loaded up the crud we gave her and her stuff and took off back to San Diego.
No sooner had we received a text from Dana stated she was back home when we were contacted by our son, Sam, who told us one of our two beloved dogs was on the way to the vet because the dog seemed to be extremely lethargic and walking in a very irregular line. Many texts and phone conversations ensued and soon Sam was on the way with the dog, Jezebel, from the vet’s to an animal hospital with the dog having a diagnosis of suspected neurological problems. There was no new information for a probably short but seemingly endless period of time before we were informed that the hospital staff suspected THC as the culprit. There was family-wide denial of this diagnosis but some short time and a test later, we were informed we were wrong and the dog soon got better.
We have no explanation about the dog’s alleged ailment. It is strange.

January 18 ’16 Woodworking Mediocrity

Today started out with a great Peggy-cooked skillet with nifty stuff in it along with fortified coffee. Showers came next but after that, we had to face the reality of my carpentry skills, Peggy’s beard trimming talents and the laundry. The afternoon was shaping up to be horrible.
Peggy did another great job trimming my beard and keeping dangerous sharp objects away from my talented fingers. After the trim I was obliged to continue my demonstration of woodworking acumen by finishing the shelf that had so soundly defeated me yesterday. I started by opening all the 5th wheel’s hatches so I could again gather all my tools and supplies and went to work. There are only five total pieces in the shelf assembly, two of them 18.25″ long and three of them 34.25″ long. One would not think that little, seemingly innocent pieces of lumber would not have an agenda but one would be wrong. These small wood chunks made every vicious attempt to make me put them together incorrectly but after a protracted battle that far exceeded my estimate of time required to assemble the simple shelf, I was victorious.
However, my initial design, scribbled on a piece of paper and not really checked resulted in the discovery of a rather substantial error. The 18.25″ pieces, which my design had proved were of the correct length turned out to be a bit too long and the now completed assembly would not fit in it’s designated location. The old fabricator in me quickly arrived at a new procedure. I would merely whack off the extra material with a Sawz-all and hide the cuts where only the most fastidious would find them. With the newly partially amputated wood uprights closer to the desired length, the revised construction fit in the designated space and it was screwed in with probably either too many or too few fasteners.
Feeling vaguely dissatisfied, I put the tools back in their storage spaces and cleaned up the carnage remaining from my foray into wood cabinetry. I was able to finish out the day by sharpening the knives while Peggy knocked out the dreaded laundry. I have found that I can sharpen knives quite a bit better than building wood anythings.

January 17 ’16 Craftsman Extraordinaire

I sort of fancy myself as a competent carpenter but I have very little experience and my assessment may be entirely erroneous. However, my carpentry bravado compelled me to drive over to the local home improvement store and purchase materials to make a small, ordinary wood shelf for use in our 5th wheel trailer. After an hour and a half in a strange Lowe’s store, we emerged with all the pre-cut redwood, fancy stainless fasteners and little bitty cabinet angles that I was positive I needed.
We drove back to Wilderness Lakes with our loot. I opened all the hatches on our 5th wheel and stacked all the tools and other stuff I needed on the workstation – in this case a wood picnic table. I started assembling the shelf components and on my very first joint, a problem arose. It seems the expensive and snazzy-looking #6 screws Mr. Competent had purchased just minutes earlier had heads on them that would easily slip through the large holes in the angles the very same shopper had bought, rendering the purchased angles useless.
Promptly recovering from this nearly fatal faux pas, I made another decision to assemble the joints temporarily using longer, bigger #8 fancy stainless screws and had just drilled the first pilot hole when my formerly always-faithful Milwaukee 18 volt drill motor made a funny noise and dropped stone dead from a woodworking standpoint. I made some amateurish efforts to resurrect the goner but all was for naught. I replaced all the tools I had collected back to their storage locations and locked the doors on the trailer.
We re-boarded Charlotte for a drive but this time we went to Home Depot in Perris, the retailer for things Milwaukee. Their service desk was quite useless for any sort of warranty issue but they did direct us to where we could purchase new, more expensive Milwaukee tools down on Aisle 12. I ended up buying different angles with smaller holes and a chuck to fit in my Milwaukee impact driver so I could continue my project without my drill motor.
By the time we got home it was dark so I curtailed progress on the wood shelf. It would seem I have made no progress today since returning from Lowe’s but, on reflection, I see I was correct.

January 15 ’16 Return to Wilderness Lakes

We woke up at the kids’ house to the happy sounds of the dogs dismembering a discarded cardboard box by bashing it into fixed objects, each time accompanied by a dull corrugated cardboard thud. They were quite cute but awfully noisy. I suspect they were really trying to let us know they wanted breakfast which we were not delivering in a timely fashion.
After a bit of de-groggying with coffee, we asked our son and his girl to join us for breakfast at a place called the “Original Pancake House” where the food was great and the prices were not bad. After a short stop at a Costso Business Center across the street for some kitchen stuff for the Barbarian Invader, we jumped back on I-15 and I-215 north for the uneventful trip back north.
Stupidly, we decided to stop by the Temecula Costco for diesel, one of the few Costco fuel stations that sell anything other than gasoline. This was not wise because many folks were available to take advantage of the $1.999 per gallon price of diesel and, in front of us in the lane we were assigned, was a possibly Alzheimer’s addled dweeb who pulled his big, ugly and ancient motor home across access to both pumps on our island and then pumped a couple tons of fuel into his old wreck. The poor old geriatric dirt clod pumped fuel into his tank for quite some time until the pump shut off when he decided to have a long conversation with the stranger on the other side of the island. After collecting his receipt, he decided to start the procedure over and then spent another considerable period of time hanging around and backing up the diesel lines into the street. I became incensed and offered repeated obscene gestures to the old fart before he finally became bored and left.
We drove from Temecula to the Menifee area where we are camped on city streets, another bad idea. We needed to go north on a route called Winchester Road which was gridlocked by numerous drivers who apparently felt compelled to repeatedly change lanes in stopped traffic. We were able to average some 10 miles per hour when moving because the signals are cleverly set where traffic can only move one block at a time. Being stopped kept all the motorists out of mischief because you must be moving to get into trouble on the highways. An hour and fifteen minutes were all that was required to get fuel and drive the 10 miles to Menifee. I think that averages out to about 8 miles per hour. We were glad to get back to the Invader.

January 14 ’16 Back to San Diego

We got up pretty early for us and departed for San Diego to see our kids and dogs another time and to take Charlotte to my regular Ford dealership in San Diego since the dealership here in Hemet was unable to remove my tires due to the locking lug nuts. Since they could not remove the aftermarket lug nuts, they were also unable to replace the front brakes.
We had an appointment in San Diego at 10:30 so we left here at 8:45 which should have given us plenty of time to make the 79 mile drive without being late. Unfortunately, an asshole Riverside County mountie had one of the three available westbound lanes on Newport Road blocked during rush hour so he could give some unfortunate local resident a citation. We lost about half an hour just driving the last 4 blocks to the freeway. There was also a Highway Patrolman parked near the freeway but neither he nor the mountie seemed to be interested in keeping traffic moving since the mountie was involved in revenue generation and the HP was asleep in his cruiser while burning the taxpayers’ fuel.
We finally got onto I-215 south about 9:20 and we throttled up to about 70 for the trip south to San Diego. We arrived at the dealership with about four minutes to spare and I went in to speak with the service writer. I told him about the lug locks and asked him to replace the front disc brake pads. With a bumper jack and a jack stand I could have probably done this work in about two hours with one hand taped to my leg but Kearney Pearson Ford was able to complete the work in a mere 8 hours. To make things interesting, I noted the “check engine” light was burning as I drove away from the dealership some three minutes prior to them closing but, by making a few illegal U-turns, I was able to pull back into the service area before all the staff bailed out. Surprisingly, the service writer at Kearney Pearson Ford did take care of my locking lug nut problem by acquiring the doohickey that removes the locks and giving the thing to us, charging us only the listed cost.
A bit later, after finding one of the myriad sensor wires loose and repairing it by using their OBD device, I was able to head for my kids’ house to spend the night because we were not tempted to drive back to Wilderness Lakes through rush hour traffic in the dark. This was actually okee-dokee since it gave us more time with our offspring. Since they were gracious enough to provide us with overnight lodging, we picked up the tab for dinner and a great time was had by all.