November 1 Day of the Dead

We moseyed over to the Pio Pico entrance station to attempt another crossover into the South Pio Pico campground, across the highway from the not-as-spiffy North Side. The spaces are larger, there is more shade and there are sewer connections on the South Side so we were sitting in the shade outside the park entrance shortly before Jan and Lily, the two gatehouse ladies, announced that the daily distribution of available RV spaces was about to begin. Amazingly, we were #2 on the list, lucked out and received assignment to our preferred location. It was a miracle.

We drove into the South Side, posted the crossover chit on the space 44 electrical box and quickly shot back over to the now-icky North Side. There, we squeezed in the slide-outs, disconnected the water, picked up the stabilizers, disconnected and stowed the electrical umbilical, hitched up to the trailer, hooked up the trailer wiring and zipped over the anti-bad guy tiger teeth exiting the North, all in about ten minutes. That may be a record.

About 400 feet later, we pulled into the South Side and backed into our new location. It has full hookups, some rudimentary WiFi, excellent satellite TV reception and nobody but critters out the rear window. It is very quiet except when Homeland Security buzzes the campground with decidedly unstealthy helicopters or the guys come to dump the nearby dumpsters. The dumpster guys only come a couple times a week but there seems to be no end to the talent and fuel for the HSA choppers that are so noisy that they sound like they actually chop.

There is a park-wide change-over in progress between the old and hated StreamWiFi to Jabba, a provider we have had success with in the past. I hope the service isn’t too good or we’ll never get another space on the South Side without murderous looks from the unsuccessful.

Today is Dia de Los Muertos which, translated into English, is the Day After Halloween. Not really.

October 31 What crossover?

Today we went to the Pio Pico entrance station to prep for the crossover of our trailer from the not-so-good side of the park and into the better side. Unfortunately, it appeared that nobody was vacating a spot on the south side and the always-shaky Thousand Trails computer system was even less functional than normal. Since we didn’t have to move today, we were cut loose from any chores so we went to the kids’ house (actually, our house) to celebrate Halloween with the kids and to check out the tiny ones doing the Trick or Treat thing this evening. As a bonus, Sam’s spouse, Kate, is a wonderful chef so we also got to tubby up over there. We went home once the candy ran low.

October 30 The Haircut

Today I lost some weight by visiting our neighbor and delightful barber, Tracy. I prefer Tracy for several reasons: I get a terrific haircut, I can burn a fatty while losing weight and cocktail service is available. We also get a pretty good rundown of stuff that occurred in the ‘hood during our year-long absence because Tracy keeps up on those events.

We have already posted our name to the “crossover” list at Pio Pico which will allow us to move from the “Pio Pico North” section with partial hookups to the “Pio Pico South” section for tomorrow. We shot across the 35 miles from Pio Pico North to our neighborhood where our real house is located today for the haircut, which turned out very well, before hopping right back into the truck for the return trip. Afternoon traffic is terrible after about 2:30 PM weekdays downtown San Diego but we were lucky and got through right before it turned to shit.

October 29 Sweetwater to Pio Pico

Today we moved about 10 or 15 miles from Sweetwater Summit County Park to Thousand Trails Pio Pico Campground near Jamul. In our zeal to escape cold weather a few weeks ago up in Oregon, our schedule became a bit weird. Normally when we go to Sweetwater Summit County Park, we stay a week because it is very nice. However, at Pio Pico we don’t have to pay the $30/day at Sweetwater because we are TT members and can stay at Pio Pico for free. I like free. We also like the park although getting one of the upscale, full hookup spots in the “South Side” frequently requires an initial stay on the water and power only “North Side” until a full hookup space opens. We are on the crossover list for the day after tomorrow. We probably could have made the crossover tomorrow but I have a haircut appointment with our cute and superb neighborhood barber, Tracy, who was the last one to cut my hair back in April. I can’t miss the appointment because, in my eyes, I look like either George Washington or Albert Einstein, depending on the wind or time of day. To the myopic, I probably resemble a big, grimy Q-tip approaching. Tomorrow I will go back to looking a bit more lifelike.

October 28 Back to the Old Homestead

Today we returned to our house in San Diego which is currently occupied by our daughter, our son, his spouse and their happy dog, Lili.

It was very nice to see our kids for the first time in seven months and to hear about what has been happening with our beloved offspring and spouses and dogs. Equally rewarding was noting the kids had not burned the house to the ground.

It is quite nice to not be required to contemplate moving for a while although we sure ain’t done yet. We will lay low here for a while for truck and RV maintenance, a couple weeks in Cabo San Lucas, doctor visits, inheritance and trust issues, Halloween, Xmas and New Year’s. Peggy is already hinting at a winter stay in Arizona. Sounds good to me, as long as there are birds and cactus.

October 27 Menifee to Sweetwater Summit

Hooking up this morning, our initial concern was whether the trailer brakes were still working and, based on the display of the controller, they were. We happily departed Not Wilderness Nor Lakes TT in Menifee and continued south on I-15 toward San Diego County and our actual residence.

Traffic was pretty good all the way to our destination at Sweetwater Summit County Park in the Bonita/Chula Vista area but, during a particularly hard braking episode to avoid a veering driver, I noted the trailer brake controller was still acting fishy and I will need to fiddle with it further before we can count on it.

Sweetwater Summit is a very well-maintained facility with spacious RV spaces, full hookups, lots of birds, bunnies and coyotes plus gorgeous daytime and nighttime views to the west. We pulled into space 124, completing our big tour for 2019. This year we didn’t put in as many miles as some other years. We only went 10,000 miles since April, a record low. The trip was still fantastic.

October 26 Acton to Menifee

Strange coincidences can be frightening, confusing and annoying. Back when we were heading north from San Diego in the spring of this year, we developed trouble with our electronic brake controller for the trailer when we arrived in Acton. The controller then would flash alternating codes indicating either an overload condition was occurring or there was a short in the system. Regardless of the code flashed, the brakes on our 12,000 pound trailer being towed by an 8,000 pound truck would not work, a condition that can thrilling when descending a long, curvy grade.

Today, when we left the Soledad TT park in Acton some seven months later, the same codes started coming up on the controller’s display. We thought we had fixed the problem last April because the controller worked perfectly for the 9,500 miles we have driven this spring, summer and autumn. We were wrong.

The drive for today started out as about a 2,000 foot climb before cresting the pass and making a 3,500 drop into the Riverside, CA, area. It was our preference that the brakes be functioning on the downgrade. We found some wide spots next to the road (there were lots of them, none shady) and tried cleaning and securing all the controller’s wiring connections and, initially, we got good results and would continue. Eventually, however, the codes and lack of braking would return and we would try more fooling around before continuing.

We crested the pass and the trailer brakes seemed to work although I applied the brakes very rarely, instead relying on careful driving, considerable butthole puckering and heightened attention to traffic issues happening in the distance in front of us. We were beginning to wonder if there was something about Acton that caused the screwy controller issues because as we descended they were absent.

About four hours later, we covered the two hours worth of distance and pulled into the Thousand Trails Wilderness Lakes facility in Menifee, CA, our scheduled destination. As noted before, there is no wilderness nor any lakes in this campground although there are some man-made ditches filled with fetid, green water. Some campers here actually fish for the mutant fish that live in the liquid-filled ditches even paying $12/day for a funny fishing license. We won’t be in Wilderness Lakes for long because we are too close to home and the place is completely without redeeming features other than full hookups. We didn’t hook up to anything other than power so we could make a quick escape in the morning. Fortunately, since this is a TT facility, we don’t have to pay to stay.

October 25 Soledad TT

We anticipate more driving again tomorrow so the plan today was to hang out near the trailer and rest. Tomorrow’s drive will take us up another pass and then crossing the metropolitan hell of the Riverside area initially on poorly-constructed desert pothole demonstration lanes transitioning onto freeways that have been under construction since before I started shaving and overpopulated with lunatics, talentless unlicensed operators and uninsured motorists.

The Tick Fire, west of us and mentioned in yesterday’s post, only gained another 900 acres overnight. The Santa Ana winds have been fierce and I imagine the firefighters over in the 95 degree temperatures are becoming fatigued. The local TV stations have helicopters over the fire and it looks a lot better today than it did yesterday. This afternoon the winds dropped down below about 25 mph which should make the folks hunkered down west of us happy.

October 24 Lemon Cove to Acton

We were back on the road again today for another fairly long drive of about 200 miles. We departed from Lemon Cove Village RV Park and headed southwest on CA-198, originally destined for CA-99. Long before we got to the freeway, we were directed to turn south on CA-65 to go through Exeter, Lindsey, Porterville and Terra Bella. The GPS indicated equal times but less mileage on 65 so we gave it a whirl. It is a good road through farmland and small towns and it is quite pleasant until south of Porterville where it runs through some lumpy grass prairie before entering an area called Oildale. I don’t think anybody actually lives in Oildale but there are rocking oil pumps covering the landscape on about 150 foot centers. There are many shiny pipes running in all directions and mysterious devices filling up the areas between the pumps and the multiple current oil derrick drilling operations, some right in warehouse parking lots.

Just a short time after leaving Oildale, we joined up with CA-99 south for a few miles before turning east up CA-58 into Tehachapi Pass. It is a solid pull from right near Bakersfield with a slight incline gradually transitioning into a slope that had all the big trucks plodding along in the right lane with their hazard lights flashing. Our Charlotte was a powerful friend and, although passenger cars shot right by us, we passed all the trucks without fouling up traffic behind us. We finally passed over Tehachapi Summit at a bit over 4000′ before starting a slow decline into the desert town of Mojave where we had to fill up on diesel. Charlotte may have loads of power but hard pulls up long inclines suck diesel. After filling up and thankfully being able to use their restroom, we turned due south on CA-14 headed for the Angeles Crest. About an hour later, we turned off in the foothills and pulled into Soledad Thousand Trails in Acton. We stopped by and registered and then went looking for a campsite. Due to the interesting funding method Thousand Trails uses to maintain their parks, the electrical system is very shaky which eliminates better than 50% of their available campsites. We eventually found a space with electrical power and sewer but no water. We are happily sharing the one available water tap with our neighbor, unscrewing his hose and filling our on-board water tank before re-attaching his hose.

It is hot here but the Santa Ana winds are blowing from the desert toward the coast so the humidity is around 7%. This type of weather frequently brings out the firebugs. Sure enough, by 4:00 PM, there was a huge plume of smoke visible west of us. We turned on the local news and found the initial plume of smoke was now a 3700 acre fire and the houses of many Republicans were in jeopardy. Since the wind is blowing from the east, we are currently safe but those downwind are in a fiery shit storm and we are glad we are not there. In accordance with the fauna in this part of the state, it is called the Tick Fire.

We rewarded ourselves with a dinner out this evening. We found a Mexican restaurant called La Cabana about 4 miles up the road and popped in for some Negra Modelos and terrific food. Prices were fair and the service was great. The last time we ate out, before tonight, was 700 miles ago in Redding. Thank God Peggy can cook.

Don’t click the link if you don’t want to see Oildale.