Saturday, December 31, 2016

December 18th - Make a date with Darkness

My last post of the year.  First, am apology.  I've been sick.  I sort of missed Christmas because of it.

There have been a number of posts on Facebook remarking about how they feel this past year has been a "bad" one and hope that the next, despite all indications will be better.  My response to that is a bit complex.  I want to say, that although we have lost a number of notable talents this year, It really isn't much different than other years.  It's just that as communication through social media advances, we miss less and that coupled with our increasing awareness of our own mortality makes it seem greater than the past years.  beyond that, If you are a liberal, you probably listen to too much mainstream media for your news and think the new administration will doom us all to tyranny.  Those of us who are conservative, have felt this way for many, many years through the last four administrations.  Our hope is that, although the new elect is not a true conservative, he is at least from outside the political class and offers hope from a different perspective.  I guess we'll see.

A preview of where this blog is going, we traveled back to San Diego for Christmas week. We attended an event at Ballast Point Breweries which I will document in a bit.  I got sick, Nana got sick and Christmas happened.  Then we drove home and her work started.  We are going to get out and do some geocaching and do some sightseeing. 

And that's where we are.

Ballast Point - Victory At Sea Day.
Ballast Point makes a Coffee Vanilla Porter called Victory-At-Sea.  During the year, they brew a number of variations.  On the annual day, they have a special event and offer 20 or so varieties.  We got up that day and drove into San Diego and got settle in at her Mom's house.  That next day, we went out to Ballast Point to participate.  For a small fee, you got a couple of trinkets, a glass, and five samples of any of the varieties.  It was busy, but we were able to find a freshly vacated table for four.  We decided that we would sit side by side and offer the extra space to whomever wanted it. We were soon joined by a nice couple and had some great conversations with them.  We ate some food, and tried many versions of the Victory at Sea.  All the employees were dressed up as pirates for the event.  It was a party atmosphere.  I have to say the service was excellent and we were attended to by first, Michelle, a tall girl with an amazing outfit, and later by Max who was silly and efficient.  We had a great time.

Welcome to Ballast Point

Pirate Michelle

New Aquaintences

Down the back, there was a pick up truck where they served the barrel-aged brews from.

Where the festivities happened.  Photo bombed by Max

Scurvy Dogs all.

Monday, December 26, 2016

December 17th - Moving Day!!!

It's moving day.  We got up early had breakfast and ran to the store.  Making sure we had what we needed for travel and fill up the truck with diesel.  Back home, we started the process of closing up the fifth-wheel.  It involves putting away anything that would roll or fall, moving furniture out of the way of the slides and taking down pictures.  The bed becomes a soft resting place for two TVs and Jeremiah's picture and flag box.  Tanks drained, all hoses and connections unhooked and put away.  Slides closed.

Finally, the truck is backed in and connected.  stands pulled up, and we are good to go.  The cat gets to ride with us.  Poor Gypsy whined for a while until she got used to the motion. 

It was quite a drive.  One that I haven't made for many years.  Up to Interstate 8, and straight on out to El Centro.  We didn't do any sightseeing o picture taking.  I did look out to see what I was interested in seeing better.  We'll be about 108 miles from San Diego, so we will be going back from time to time.

As we pass out of the eastern city area of El Cajon, Santee, and Lakeside, we pass into rising hills.  We pass into the Cleveland National forest past Alpine and Pine Valley.  Then past Sunrise Highway that leads up to the spectacular Mt. Laguna.  Past that, I-8 runs south for a bit and then drops down into the Imperial Valley.  Our RV park is just to the south of a town of 1500 people called Seeley but in El Centro city limits. 

The park is a golf resort surrounded by farmland.  Farming in the desert is different than what I've seen of course. 

As we get settled in, I'll take time to start doing stories about what it's like out here.

Friday, December 23, 2016

December 15th - Last night out as residents

It was Thursday and Laurie's shifts were done.  We were planning on making the big move on Saturday morning. We considered Friday, but there was rain in the forecast.  We decided to take a last night crafting and try a couple of  new places.

Border X Brewing
Our first stop was to Border X in Barrio Logan.  Right on Logan Avenue.  I have no idea if I've ever even been to this area of San Diego.  It's Mexican culture goes back many, many decades.  We quickly found our location, but had to drive around to find a proper parking spot for the large truck we drive.  Although it's not an upscale neighborhood, there seemed to be a lot of community pride.  Many fences and building walls weren't covered in graffiti, but rather in beautiful intricate murals.  We were in sight of the freeway ramps leading onto the Coronado bridge and a few blocks from Chicano Park.  As we drove up, there was a cloud of smoke coming from across the street.  Was it a fire?  Maybe an old car with bad exhaust?  What it was is a great Mexican Restaurant with a huge long outdoor grill where they were cooking chicken, beef, and pork.  They also do catering, and one of their trucks was parked right in the center division of the street.

We get into Border X and the building is very old.  The walls are decorated with artwork of a local artist.  The place is airy and clean.  The girls behind the bar are outgoing and knowledgeable.  We order flights and go out back to the patio, where the kitchen service is and order Mulitas, mine pork, hers beef,  and Nachos.  The building is amazing with it's metal ceiling and the back counter which is leftover from this locations days as a barber shop.  The mirrors over the counter have been replaced with blackboards showing the varieties of beer.

We have the Horchata, A rice-drink flavored Golden Stout, Abuelitas Choco Stout, The Blood Saison made with Hibiscus and Agave. and their Mayan Trippel.  They were all very good.  We had a great time talking about the history of the building as well as the different events and such of the current operation.  We had some great conversations with other customers.  A young man from Oregon but originally San Diego and his friend, and A couple of local guys on my other side.  This was one of the most fun experiences.  It is so different from all the great and not-so-great places that are up in industrial parks when the place is in a typical street store front.

From there, we drove up to Miramar and visited Kilowatt.  This place was a small taproom more like a wide hallway.  The brews here were pretty forgettable, and the girl behind the counter was not particularly talkative or outgoing.

Our last stop was just down the street at Council Brewing.  The place was large and open.  Very, very busy.  We ordered their Belgium Trippel and tried to find a seat.  We settled onto a table with an older foursome who let us sit with them.  They were friendly and we talked for a while.  The Trippel was pretty good.

All-in-all, it was a pretty fun day for us.

Logan Ave. Logan Heights

Amazing beers, great service

In the food court out back.

I love this old barber's counter

Quiet spokesperson

The craftsmen won this $5,000.00 check to get going from a garage oporation

This car was the coolest part of this visit to Kilowatt. Cute.

Hops lanterns

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

December 14th - Laurie's last day at Sharp

The 14th was Laurie's last shift working Sharp Hospital in Chula Vista.  The girls she worked with invited us to go have drinks at a place near the hospital.  We arrived at the Archway and it looked pretty divey.  Actually, it was a pretty nice low key place.  Everyone arrived and I had a bunch of new people to meet.  Good music, good conversations, and a good time.

Our time in Chula Vista is coming to a close.

Part of the group

Saturday, December 17, 2016

December 7th - Park lights contest

They have a lights and decorations contest here at the RV Park every year.  An entire row of sites was occupied by an RV group in participation.  Don't ask me how it came out.  The decorations were very nice and imaginative.  We walked through one night to enjoy it.  A couple of days later, we caught a great sunset just before the clouds moved in.  A guy was on the bay parasailing. he cruised across the bay barely touching the water at times.  It sure looked like fun.  A couple of days later, a group of people dressed as Santa, a Bear, and the Grinch among others were out walking around.  I'm guessing they were the judges.

It's just about time to move to our next location.  She's taking an assignment out in Imperial County in the desert.  The town is called El Centro.  It's close to Calexico and the Salton Sea in the Anza Borrego Desert.  It's winter, so it won't be too hot.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

December. Truck repairs and things to know

This will not be a typical post from me.  It is still an event we were involved with, but not voluntarily. In November, we started having troubles with the truck starting.  Instead of taking it in to get looked at, with just kept working with it until we finally burnt out the starter.  Not the best way to handle things, but there it was.  Once that happened, we had it towed.  When we had our last breakdown in Idaho, we took it to a Napa repair shop.  This time, we did what we normally do, and took it to a Ford dealer.  I always think the repairs might be more expensive, but you are dealing with mechanics that have been trained by the manufacturer of the car.

The problem manifested itself like this.  The truck always starts when cold.  No problem.  If it is warmed up and you restart it soon like if you stop at a store, it starts also.  However, if it gets warmed up, and you turn it off for a period like 45 minutes to and hour, It will turn over but just run rough and stop.  Think of an old car with a manual choke and you don't engage the choke when you first start it.  So, we would keep pushing on it with the starter until it finally caught correctly and ran.   Of course, the starter can't take that.

I called AAA and they sent out a tow.  The guy asked me what the problem was.  I told him what I just said and said that the starter was burnt out.  I knew this because there was the smell of a burnt starter and it no longer turned over.  So, apparently he didn't listen and got a heavy tool and banged on the starter a couple of times like you would if the starter was just seized.  Nothing happened and I was peeved he hadn't listened to me.

We got the truck to Fuller Ford in Chula Vista. As the check in guy wrote up the order I told him the story.  He didn't seem like he was really listening but assured me they'd get to the bottom of it.  They gave me a courtesy ride home and Laurie took a Uber home from work.  The next day, they said they had the starter replaced and the truck ran well.  We took a Uber down to get the truck. The guy I had been dealing with is named Jon.  He told us the starter was to be $850.00 but he had discounted it so it would be a bit less.  Then we asked him if the truck had started okay after it was warmed up, and I repeated the story of the symptoms we had experienced before the starter went out.  He then asked the guy who had brought the truck around if he had had any problems starting the truck.  The guy said yes he had.  So, I told the story again, Jon said they'd find out and he said, "Let's get you a car to drive" and walked us over to the rental department.  We filled out the paper work with no discussion of cost or anything.  We assumed they weren't charging.  If they were, we would have had a chance to see if we liked their prices or if we thought we could get a better deal somewhere else. Right?

We got a call from Jon and the valve related to the Idaho issue was not functioning properly.  This would end up being a replacement of that valve and the High Pressure oil pump as well.  Basically a bunch of the work from Idaho.  Jon worked things out with Napa as it was under warranty.  Because it was nearly Thanksgiving and they had to get parts, things drug on.  During a phone call, he said we would be just paying for the starter and the rental.  We said what? the rental?  He said he would see if he could get Napa to pick that up, too.

After three weeks, they were finally done and Laurie was at work so I went to get the truck.  Napa covered everything except two days of rental, $70.00, and the starter.  It ended up being over a thousand dollars.  I still don't know how that math works out.  So I picked up the truck and went home. Later that night I did what I always do, I drove to the hospital and got there early for her shift's end.  Yes, I sat for about an hour before she got off.  When she was ready, I tried to start the truck, and it was just as it was before.  It took 10 tries to get it to kick over right and run.  I have rarely been that angry. 

The next day was Friday and I took it back.  Now, Jon finally listened to me as I described step by step the issue.  It was as if he had never been told any of this though that was just not true.  I got the rental back and we all understood I would not be paying for it.  

No call Friday.
No call Monday

We stopped in to a different dealer in town and asked for advice.  We were told to take the issue directly to the service manager.

We drove down there Tuesday to what was up.  The mechanic had left for a doctor's appointment and we were told Jon would call us when he got back  We talked to the Service Manager and (Josh) said he'd become personally involved and get us on the road.

No call Tuesday
No call Wednesday
No call Thursday.
Understand I made several calls throughout this process and never got more than an answering machine.

We drove down Friday.  The story was that they ended up calling the Ford Company itself, were told several things to check.  Everything looked good.  Apparently, this is a very unusual problem.  They think we have a set of bad injectors.  Usually, when an injector goes bad, it just stops working.  Ours seem to work most of the time, but the only way to find out is to have them replaced and see if it fixes the problem.  We are leaving for a different site on Friday, and we need our truck.  We returned the car, and took our truck.  We'll get it fixed in our next town.

Overall, a very bad experience.  Because they didn't want to listen to me, because it ran over Thanksgiving, and because of basic subpar service, it took literally, 30 days and the problem is still the problem.

Fuller Ford in Chula Vista, California will never see me again.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

November 24th early Thanksgiving.

We had an outstanding meal at Nana's house.  There were about 13 of us all told.  Nana, the three sisters, myself, Susan's two kids and their respective mates and children.  Lots of food and fun.

I played chess with Seth. Almost lost a game but won through his inexperience.  As always, what I'm trying to do is introduce him to thinking beyond the moment of a particular move.  Great life lesion.

Fun fun fun.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

November 20th - Vista, CA and the Shaffers

We had an opportunity to go taproom hopping with our friends Tim and Linda.  We agreed to meet at Mother Earth.  They brought a couple of friends, so we met Mike and Sherrie Zorn.   I've seldom ever gone to anywhere in Vista, but this is the first time I've been to downtown.  Quaint little place.  very nice.  Mother Earth was on one end of a street and Wavelength was on the other.  We had a great time.  Outside of Wavelength, was a sculpture that had a sign saying you should take a selfie and post it to the Facebook page listed.  I let Linda take it with myself and her.  After all that, we went to Backstreet Brewery and had some appetizers and sat outside on their patio.  Everybody left for home after that, and we visited Belching Beaver.  We'd been to their room in North Park but not to the main shop and restaurant.   On our travels, there is a little shopping center where the outsides of all the buildings are painted to look like a street scene. Pretty cool.

Da Gurls

Flights at Wavelength