It is Easter weekend and the park is full. Since the crowd here this weekend is not the normal crowd that stays here, some things are very different. Folks that only rarely come to this campground have brought their motorcycles, vehicles equipped with loud stereos playing music of a type and at a volume that makes even distant listeners hate them, many nighttime garish and blinding lighting arrays but also the sound many happy folks laughing and kids having a great time. The spas and pools are getting workouts.
On the south side of the road here at Pio Pico not one empty RV space is available. Over on the north side of the road where there are no sewer hookups and typically few RVs, the campground is also pretty full. We have not stayed here previously when as many people were out enjoying the fantastic spring weather. San Diego County received a reasonable amount of rain this year, ending a 10-year drought. The result of the rain is a display of vibrantly colored flowers, waist-deep grass in the pastures and emerald green, happy trees. Driving around here is now a very scenic event which is nice because the traffic is shit.
Today’s task for us was to affix the bedroom slide-out overhead gasket into place and make it stay there. It is located such that fixing the gasket when the trailer has been assembled is not nearly as easy as installing it properly at the factory. We have made a few attempts to secure the errant gasket previously but they all resulted in dismal failures. The first time, lousy adhesive and poor labor expertise yielded almost immediate re-failure. We then tried an excellent gasket sealant but, again, the installers (us) used a poor technique and failure soon followed. Today we used the proper procedure and application techniques and the gasket has remained in place for more than 10 minutes. We may have won.
Our bird feeders have been discovered by a nice variety of local birds and we spent a good portion of the day trying to get some good photos. Strangely, once I set up the camera and had the focus squared away, few birds showed up. No sooner would I abandon the properly stabilized camera and retreat to my normal chair when the birds would come back in hordes. We spotted hooded orioles, hummingbirds, ruby finches, a harrier, lots of cowbirds, a nuthatch, a bluebird and some guys we did not identify. The racket from yesterday’s big car show here at the campground is over and animals are returning. It makes for great birding.
At Thousand Trails Pio Pico Preserve, our current campground, the Alpine Kiwanis Club put on a Hot Rod show along with a chili cookoff today. There was a band playing covers, food stands, lots of booths with crafts, a beer garden, many fancy and custom Harleys, the cookoff and a big assortment of magnificent old cars restored and customized by old guys even older than me. I.C.E., the County sheriff and fire departments were all present showing off their stuff like drones and spiffy red and chrome trucks.
We strolled around the cars for a while before heading over for some frozen yogurt which was welcome because it was warm today. The folks who have exhibition cars like those we saw today must spend all their time on their cars because there were models from as early as the 1920s that look like they just rolled off the assembly line. Some even have upholstery in the trunk. Many cars had custom engines up to 650 cid that were all chromed. Foreign (AC Cobra, Anglia) and domestic (Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Studebaker) models were available for perusal. It was one of the best days I have ever had in a TT campground.
We got a few pictures of snazzy cars you can see if you click here
We fully intended to get a bunch of mundane, if boring, tasks completed around our tow vehicle and trailer today. We were partially successful in that we did perform some work although production was poor. My estimates of the times required to do seemingly simple tasks were woefully inaccurate and very few tasks on our fun charts were completed. Peggy scrubbed furiously in the interior of Charlotte and she looks better. We acquired some bird seed because the black sunflower seeds we bought in Texas are not haute cuisine with the local guys. We shopped for some fruit and made an appointment to take Charlotte to the Ford dealership to get the air conditioning lost in Santa Fe back on line. We put the new vehicle registration on the Barbarian Invader’s rear plate and I demolished and reinstalled a new battery compartment vent and cover. We purchased, filled and enjoyed a new kitchen window-mounted hummingbird feeder. Charlotte also got a washing which made her more handsome.
The car wash that we patronized in downtown Jamul near our campground was of a unique, hybrid type. We paid $9 and only expected the usual run through the whirly brushes and spooge squirters before hitting the big air ducts at the end. However, this place was different. Two guys first soaped the whole truck with brushes and then clear water. The gizmo behind the tire then pushed us through a roofless array of whirling brushes and spooge squirters then more brushes and water squirters before the big ducted fans. At the end, we were directed around the front when a very diligent yet strangely non-verbal guy started cleaning the windows with a blue spray and fuzzy cloths. It was quite warm today and we had some trouble synchronizing the window operation with his tasks. I rolled my window down due to frying and he signaled that I should roll it up for cleaning. Before I could get the window up, he sprayed me with the blue shit, missing the window. He then wiped the dry window until he thought it was clean. Once he got to Peggy’s driver’s side window, he sprayed the blue stuff through the opening where the window would have been if it was up and then threw the fuzzy rag through the open window onto the ground. The truck ended up being quite clean although I was moistened with spray and Peg’s window had marginal results.
However, the best part of the day started while we were reclining in our chaise lounges outside under our shade canopy while reading and bird watching. Some neighbors arrived and they seemed to be Girl Scouts or something similar. The big kahunette of the group promptly split the six girls into two groups of three for tent erection. The tents appeared to be identical. We started our timers.
One group of three girls exhibited amazing prowess by making scant headway in the first five minutes but by the end of ten minutes, they were done. They were good sports about it and soon pitched in with the other group of three to get the second, identical tent up by the twenty minute mark. Everything was going quite well until a squad of boys and men arrived to take charge of the tent erection tasks.
Production soon dropped to nearly zero as the brilliant male counterparts discussed, implemented and soon abandoned numerous schemes to get the two girl-erected tents onto a ground cloth tarp. From a distance, it appeared that the erected tents were actually enormous ladybugs hustling about on the lawn except when the wind came up and blew them across the campground. Chaos reigned until the girls corralled their tents without any expert help.
Forty minutes after we started timing, the later-arriving male contingent managed to install the girl-erected tents on top of the tarp only to have another near escape occur. More conferences were held and ultimately a plan to stake the tents in place was implemented. Within another 45 minutes, the experts had erected two more tents and stationed them almost on top of the much-discussed tarp.
With the tent erection finally completed, the kids dispersed from the general tent area and started having a good time. If I was one of the girls, I’d leave the boys alone. The hummingbirds and song birds have found our feeders and have begun putting on their colorful show. Although our production today was poor, we still had a pretty good time.
We have spent a lot of time on the road in the last two weeks and were, frankly, kind of pooped. Therefore, we hung out near our trailer all day. We accomplished a few tasks like fixing the upholstery on the fold-down thing in the truck’s front seat and dumping the shit from the trailer tanks but not too much other stuff. We were dull. We’ll try to be more interesting in the future.
For the first time in a while, we left our Barbarian Invader fifth wheel in Pio Pico and returned to our brick and mortar (actually, wood framing and stucco) residence in nearby San Diego. We no longer live there year-round, choosing instead to travel to the greatest extent possible. We have superb tenants in Sam, our son, and Kathleen, his fiance. They are scheduled to get married in a couple weeks. They not only rent the place from us; they also tend to the pool, the grounds and take care of Jezebel, our family dog.
They must have been doing a pretty good job because the place looks great. Jezebel put on an appropriate demonstration of being happy to see us again. We also got an opportunity to visit two of our favorite restaurants: Original Pancake House in the morning and Panda Country in the evening. As usual, the food was superb at both places. They ain’t cheap but the food sure was tasty.
I also scheduled for some trailer maintenance to bring our traveling home up to snuff before we depart on another protracted excursion. It is time to give the experts opportunities to inspect and possibly repair some of our systems like the stove, the water heater, the furnace, axles and bearings and any other stuff that looks like it could go wonky in the next 40,000 miles.
We spent most of the day hobnobbing with the kids and catching up on family or property issues before breaking out a substantial supply of beer and booze and helping consume it. It was very nice but we ended up heading back to the Invader for sleep. We are quite accustomed to our trailer and we find ourselves being very comfortable there.
Since we made the minimum hookup to utilities yesterday in Yuma, we had scant work to perform today before departure. We wandered around on the Yuma area’s dead-flat roads for a few miles before getting into a fuel stop where we filled up the truck and then headed out over some more dead-flat roads under construction until we made it to I-8. We headed west for a few miles until we got to California and their anti-contraband fruit stand where we stopped long enough to be waved right through because we are old.
We continued west through some dunes, some flowering desert landscapes and the massive Imperial Valley, irrigated breadbasket to the world. After crossing a considerable amount of land below sea level, the road starts to climb near Ocotillo and gets downright steep at the In-Ko-Pah grade as it continues into the Laguna Mountains. We were at about 400′ elevation in the desert and the first big ridge we crossed about 20 miles later was 4100′. In-Ko-Pah is Indian for Poorly-maintained car killer. Near the top of the grade is a junkyard holding numerous vehicles which crapped out on the way up.
After a long pull with our 12,000 pound trailer, Charlotte rolled over the pass and we started the long descent to the west coast of the U.S. We pulled off I-8 about 15 miles from the Pacific and headed south to our local Thousand Trails Pio Pico Reserve where we turned in for a three-week stay (minimum) before embarking on our next journey into the unknown.
This morning, we were almost ready to go because we prepped for departure yesterday. We were on our way out of Wishing Well RV Park by about 0930 which is early for us. We started the drive with about a 10 mile drive on city streets but we found an alternate route from the way we came into town and our results were much better. We were actually moving most of the time.
After a bit we arrived at I-10 west although through Tucson the interstate runs north – south. We went north, urr… west until we turned west on I-8 near Casa Grande. I-8 passes over a series of ridges and through some wide valleys that, until recently have been known for their bleak, lifeless landscape. However, during today’s passage, we got to see the benefits of some recent rains on this landscape.
The desert was alive. There are an abundance of flowers. The palo verde trees are yellow with flowers. The prickly pear are erupting with crimson fruit sprouting bright pastel flowers surrounded by discouraging spines. The Ocotillos are covered with brand new tiny dark green leaves and bright red flower clusters. The desert appeared to be a green carpet all the way to the distant mountains.
About 10 miles from Yuma and 250 windy miles from Tucson we dropped out of the undulating mountain and valley terrain and descended into a wide agricultural valley with the Colorado River creeping through the middle. There not much of the Colorado left by the time it gets to Yuma. We pulled into an RV park called Yuma Lakes where we have stayed before, thanks to our Resort Parks International membership which lets us stay there for $10 a night. It is a flat, bleak parking lot-type facility with full hookups, a courteous staff and crummy wifi. There is a nearby stocked pond but we were unable to identify any lakes.
We spent our last day in Tucson taking care of some traveling business before continuing our trek to the west coast. We bought some milk. We fueled up the truck. I dumped the tanks. We prepped for departure.
Based on our recent experience in this region, the next two days going west will have great views to the horizons but will be uninteresting from a flora standpoint. There is a wide, fierce desert west of here. We will be driving west on I-8, a road that is unique for its lack of creature comforts, available assistance or humans. We remember a bleak roadside landscape most of the way. I think we are ready.
Today we were slugs and hung about the trailer all day. Peggy did the laundry without the dubious benefit of me helping. She was fortunate in that the laundry here at Wishing Well RV Park is about 75 feet from our trailer space and the clothesline is immediately adjacent to our home away from house.
We watched Netflix. We liberally loafed. We admired the spectacular view of the snow falling on the peaks of the Catalina range of mountains that fill all our east side windows. It was great but nobody wants to read about us doing nothing so I’ll cut it off here. Move along!