Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The List.......

I started off my Monday by dumping the black and gray tanks, or should I say 'maceratoring' the them........the only way I am able to dump gray, or black water at my daughter's home is to pump it to the sewer cleanout in her basement, which involves running a hose under her house through the raised foundation....I installed a hose two winters ago, and just leave it in place when we leave.  The total run is about 130 feet to the cleanout.  The next project up was to wash a few weeks of grime, including a salty film from our stay at the beach, off the Beetle.

Then it was time to start chipping away at the project list which now boasts 10 items:

1) Check coolant level in radiator - Done 11/23/2015
2) Splendide washer/dryer - fix the dryer portion - quit working about 6 months ago
3) Remove and repair the salon Suburban gas heater - quit working at Mono Lake
4) Remove and repair stove cover - the stainless steel liner is coming lose
5) Lube awnings
6) Have fire extinguishers recharged
7) Clean radiator
8) Install new water pressure regulator
9) Clean electric heaters - lint buildup
10) Build shelf in electric bay

Fire extinguishers ready to be recharged

Some of the 10 are big projects (2, 3, 7, 8 & 10), but all of them need to be done to keep our home on wheels functioning as close to 100% as possible.  I'll keep you updated over the next few weeks as these projects get checked off the list.....I'm going to start with the easy ones to get some momentum rolling.

Monday was the day the tree trimmer was to come and trim the neighbor's heavily overgrown tree, which besides blocking my view of the southern sky for my satellite dish, keeps a large portion of my daughter's backyard in shade and prevents grass from growing.  The picture below is the only 'before' picture I could find (taken last December), and the next picture shows the tree after the trimmers finished....I would say they removed about 80% of the tree volume, and now light is getting into the backyard again, and I can get a satellite signal without using my Winegard Carryout portable dish.  The first picture kind of gives you an idea of how bar the tree canopy extended......my satellite dish is to the right of the refrigerator vent in the center of the picture.  This is why we are currently parked so far back in the yard....to give the tree guys room to work on the tree......by the time they were finished trimming the tree the entire area where we usually park was full of tree debris up to the top of the fence.......

Sun light is penetrating once again

.....the arborists did not arrive until just after 1300 hours, but in just 3.5 hours they were done, and everything was cleaned up.......I was sure it would take them until sometime Tuesday to finish cleaning up the debris, but I was wrong.....they had cleaned up their mess and were on their way just before sunset.....very impressive.

For dinner TLE tasked me with grilling two filets she had picked up at Costco Sunday to which she added green beans, and mashed potatoes..........add to that a good Pino Noir and you have a perfect dinner.....

Of course Monday means MNF, and what a great game it was.......Buffalo was at New England, and they managed to keep the game close, but lost by a touchdown (20-13) to the now 11-0 Patriots.  We finished the evening watched 'Scorpion' and 'NCIS Los Angeles' before calling it a night.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 23, 2015


Over the past two weeks prior to our arrival in Riverside I had been ordering things for projects from Amazon and eBay and having them delivered to my daughter's home, and Sunday was a day to plow through most, if not all of them.

Here is a list of what awaited us:

1) VW - power mirror control module (the knob on ours broke while we were in Ventura) - DONE 11/22/2015
2) VW - passenger door pull handle (ours has been sort of broken for about a year) - DONE 11/22/2015
3) VW - passenger dashboard grab bar (had gotten a little 'ratty' looking) - DONE 11/22/2015
4) Newell - three 15' Rhino Flex sewer hoses in three large boxes (our current ones are just worn out and beginning to leak) - DONE 11/22/2015
5) Newell - replacement dual chamber liquid soap/shampoo dispenser for the shower.....TLE's had come off the wall a few months ago and broken - DONE 11/22/2015
6) Newell - Progressive Industries surge protector to replace the one that melted down in Carson City - DONE 11/21/2015

None of these projects by themselves was a very complex, or involved, but it did take me most of the day to complete 1-5.  After having removed and replaced items 1-3 in the VW I now know way more about how how the VW is put together than I wished to know.  Seriously, though, I had to remove both of the door panels to replace the mirror control module, and the door pull handle, and I had no idea how to do that.  This is what is so great about 'smart phones'.....I just Googled "How to remove the interior door panel on a 2001 VW Beetle" and I got a link to a YouTube video showing me exactly how to do it.  I just started the video, set the phone on the dashboard, and removed all the 'hidden' screws.....easy peezy!

During all of of this I had the TV's in the coach and trailer playing NFL football....it was a good day, and there were a number of good games to watch, including the SNF game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Cincinnati Bengals (in Arizona).  After the SNF game we decided to watch "Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1"  so we can go to see "Part 2"  with our kids Tuesday.  Hulu finally had it in their queue so we logged in via our TV and watched it.

We were in bed by a little after 2300 hours.....thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Urbanites again.....

The daily temps have been steadily increasing on the Rincon, and Saturday was no exception......by far the warmest morning of the 9, and, of course, with the steady warming the humidity becomes more noticeable.  Saturday was our departure day, and I was up early thinking about what still needed to be done for us to roll our wheels.....put the portable fireplace away after dumping the ashes, put away the campfire chairs, put the left over wood (two bundles) in the VW, un-tilt the solar panels and stow them for travel, turn over the DD 6V92, then delicately extricate the Newell and the trailer from our site.

In all the years we have been visiting Rincon Parkway departure day has always been too soon, but Saturday, after 9 nights and 10 days we were ready to leave.....not so much ready for the heavy urban traffic which we would necessarily have to negotiate on our way to Riverside.  Spending that much time in one spot with good sun each day enabled us to learn even more about our solar system, as well as see the results of our investment in the two extra panels.

We had the trailer hooked up by 1000 hours, and drove south about a mile on Rincon Parkway to a flat, shady spot to load in the VW before making our dash for Riverside.  The traffic steadily increased as we neared the San Gabriel Valley via I-210 through Pasadena, Arcadia, Monrovia and Azusa where we slowed to 40 mph for about 10 miles.  Then we took the plunge into the Pomona Valley and SR-60 eastbound, arriving at my daughter and son-in-law's home in Riverside just after 1230.  For a few days we will be parked way in the back of the yard awaiting the tree trimmer who will be coming Monday to trim the trees along the southeast side of the property where we normally park.

With the help of Nick (our son-in-law) we used his GMC truck to back the trailer into their backyard, then I backed in the Newell, and we were set up by 1400 relaxing with the kiddos.  Nick grilled some hotdogs and hamburgers for dinner, and we were joined by Tim, Sharon, Meredith, and Laila........

......and speaking of Sharon and Katie......they are both expecting....Sharon in February, and Katie in June, so there will be two additional grand babies in 2016.....like I've said repeatedly....this is the best time of life!

So, we are settled in for for probably at least 3 months waiting for the birth of Sharon's little boy before we roll our wheels once again.  There are a few other things in the works, which I'll relate at a later date, but 2016 is shaping up to be a banner year for the Hockwald clan.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 21, 2015


So, here it is....Friday.....our last full day on the Rincon.....our last sunrise, my last bike ride down to Emma Wood State Beach along the ocean, our last walk on the beach down to Faria, our last Rincon sunset.  Of course, when we get down to last things on any extended stay there comes the time when we must put all our stuff away once again.

Right after I finished my blog entry about Wednesday I went outside to start putting things away.....tables we would not be using anymore, the extension cord for the trailer (yup, I had the lights on inside the trailer last Sunday), do some preliminary straightening up of the trailer interior, pull out the stakes holding the awning mat in place, etc.  I've found it is better for me to do the "putting the stuff away" in two, or three stages over several hours......doing it all at once just wears me out.

Then I hopped on my bike for my last 10 mile round trip jaunt down to Emma Wood this time around.  In all I rode my bike around 60 miles in the last 9 days.....the most I have ridden since Lake Tahoe.  I'm starting to feel some endurance returning....I'm able to push taller gears for a much longer time.

Around 1100 TLE and I took our last 3 mile walk on the beach down to Faria County Park.....on each end of Rincon Parkway there are small RV/Camping parks operated by the County of Ventura.  The one on the south end, Faria, offers about a dozen full hookup sites, which include cable TV, and WiFi.  They also offer dry camping spots for those with RV's who don't crave hookups, and tent sites as well.  Everything in Faria is 'first come, first served'.  On the north end of the Rincon is Hobson County Park, which offers maybe 7, or 8 full hookup sites, and a number of dry camping sites.  From April 1st to October 31st this park is also 'first come, first served', but from November 1st to March 31st you can reserve a few of the sites in advance......this is something new.

The temperatures were getting into the low 80's Friday, and we spent most of our walk going and coming in the water.  TLE found a couple of 'sand dollars', which are hard to find here.....she has a good eye for those kind of things.  Ultimately she gave them to a young child who was out looking for them also....he was very excited!

After we returned we spent the better part of the afternoon reading outside, then about 1530 I began the final push to put stuff away......I stowed our bikes back in their travel spots inside the trailer, put my bike stand away, and straightened up the trailer so the VW will once again fit inside.

Next TLE and I folded up the awning mat, I pulled the rest of the stakes, we put away the lounge chairs, and then stowed the patio awning.....by the time we finished with that stuff it was around 1630.....20 minutes until our 9th, and last Rincon sunset......I needed a shower, and I needed to get our sunset fire ready.....I took a quick shower, got the wood in the fireplace and sat down with my cigar just as the sun was slipping beneath the horizon one more time......

 Rincon sunset #9

.......there were a few clouds on the horizon which made for probably the best sunset of the 9....it looked like the sky was on fire!  We sat there for about 40 minutes enjoying the afterglow, and finally heading inside around 1540.  TLE made pollo asado salad, which I loved.....I chased it with a couple of Margaritas for good measure.

It is difficult to believe we have already been here now for 9 days......it seems much longer....in a good way, to be sure.  We are rested, refreshed, recharged, and ready to take on the Thanksgiving and Christmas season with with family and friends!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Watch the Rincon sun come up, and then gown down.....repeat 8 times

Thursday was the 8th day since we arrived at the Rincon.....we hadn't been into town since Sunday with my brother and sister-in-law....and the VW had not moved an inch since the prior Friday.  Life on the Rincon takes on a sort of preferred monotony.....the sun comes up, the sun goes down.....in between you take walks, you ride your bike, you read, you nap and all of that with very little human interaction outside of that with your spouse.....like I said, a preferred monotony.  You look forward to that flash of sunlight through your front windshield at 0720 hours ......the chilliness you felt just before that flash of sunlight is once again vanquished for another day, and you know this will be another t-shirt, shorts and flip flops Rincon day.  The days of low highs and very low lows are gone......the high each day on the Rincon is about 70-75, and the low is 55-60........there were a few weeks when we didn't see a high over 60, and often not over 50.  I was telling TLE last night (Thursday) that I have been sleeping like the dead every night....it must be the ocean air all day long, and the sound of the waves at night.

When we arrived at the Rincon last Thursday we paid for one week, not being sure whether we would leave the 21st, or the 22nd to head for Riverside, CA.  Thursday we made the decision to leave the 21st (Saturday), so I went down to the 'Iron Ranger' and paid for two more nights, which comes to 9 nights and 10 days on Rincon Parkway......seems much longer to me.....in a good way.

Around 1000 I took my daily 10 mile bike ride down to Emma Woods State Beach and back, then joined TLE on the 'patio' to read, and nap.....not necessarily in that order.  As we relaxed we noticed the Rincon was beginning to fill up much faster than when we arrived one week ago.  Last Thursday at noon there were 30-40 sites still vacant.  By noon this Thursday that number was down to less than a dozen, and this morning maybe a handful of sites are left to be snagged by some lucky people.

Around 1300 hours we headed into Ventura to shop at the Von's......I wanted to grill filet mignons Thursday night, and there is always something TLE needs......we were back just before 1400.

TLE decided to try a feature on her iPhone 6 she had not accessed previously.....time lapse photography.....I'm a little jealous as my Samsung Galaxy Note does not offer this......below is what our Rincon sunset #8 looked like in time lapse format.......

Time lapse video courtesy TLE of our 8th Rincon Sunset

.....below are my meager one dimensional representations of the same event.......

Of course, Thursday night is also TNF (Thursday Night Football), so while I grilled our filet mignons, I enjoyed the beginning of the game, and the long, long sunset afterglow......

.....we continued watching the football game over dinner....the game ended just about 2030 hours, and we then switched over to watch 'Blacklist' (which was recording while the game was on), then 'Bones', and finally 'Elementary' before retiring for the evening once agin.

We reached 100% charge on our house batteries for the 5th consecutive day Thursday just before 1400 hours.....we were only down to 88% when I got up Thursday, so that was a recovery of 12%.  The day before we started the day at 87% and recovered back to 100%.  This morning as I write we only went down to 90% overnight, so we will, undoubtedly, get back to 100% again today.  This is working soooo good I am trying to figure out how to squeeze in one more 160 watt panel on the roof.....I think I can make it work....we'll see.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The beginning and the end

I've written often these past few days about how the sun suddenly breaks over the hills into cloudless skies just to the east of us, and here is what it looks like at 0720 hours at the beginning of our day........

.......and this is how most of our days on the Rincon end as the sun once again slides over the edge of the almost cloudless horizon which will ultimately give someone else a sunrise......

Rincon sunset #7

While we have been enjoying warm, cloudless and mostly windless days since we arrived at the Rincon last Thursday I heard from my sister in Spokane Tuesday advising they were having very high winds, and had lost power.....as I understand now from the news, over 350,000 people lost power, and most, including my sister, are still without power this morning.  Fortunately she and her husband installed a large household natural gas generator a few years ago, and it has been running non-stop now for close to 3 days with at least a few more days to go before power is restored.  My mother, who has an apartment a few miles away also lost power, so she has been staying with my sister since then.

This got me to thinking about how fragile the sticks and bricks world is for most people, and how important it is to be self sufficient whether you live in a sticks and bricks home, or as we do, in an RV.  We have been striving for self sufficiency since we embarked on our endless journey almost four years ago, and with the addition of 2 more solar panels are getting closer.  All it takes is a humongous storm of any kind like the wind storm in Spokane to turn your world upside down.  No doubt most people in Spokane do not have a 'whole house' generator to provide power, which in turn gives them much needed heat.....the lows at night are in the low 20's there, and barely getting to the low 40's in the day time.  Without electricity, which permeates every aspect of our daily lives, we are screwed.....unless we have taken steps to become self sufficient.

So, with that in mind here are a few stats from the first 7 days of our sojourn here on the Rincon.....we arrived with 145 gallons of fresh water, a full propane tank (48 gallons), a full gas can for the small generator (6 gallons), empty gray and black tanks, and the promise of sunny skies.  Seven days in we still have just over 100 gallons of fresh water....our gray tank is about 1/3 full, and our black tank just over 1/4 full.  We have not run the big generator one time since we arrived, and used our small generator to watch TV at night twice.  We have reached 100% on our batteries 4 out of the first 6 days, and expect to return to 100% again today making it 5 out of 7 days.  A little context is in order as regards the use of our 7.5 kw generator......when we were dry camping last February, March and April with only 2 solar panels we would often have to run the big generator for at least an hour in the morning to give ourselves a chance at getting back to 100%.....we were able to get back to 100% about half the time....sometimes less.  Our goal when we added the 3rd and 4th solar panels was to avoid having to use either of our generators to charge our batteries, and we seem to be achieving that goal.

So what was Wednesday like on the Rincon?  I took a 14.33 mile bike ride and I spent the rest of the day outside reading....TLE spent the entire day reading....sometimes outside, sometimes inside.....she likes to move around....:-)  We ended the day as we try to do every day.....watching the sun set in the west accompanied by a fire, some adult beverages, a cigar for moi, and then dinner.  This day TLE had me grill some carne asada for tacos which included avocados, tomatoes, cheese and the aforementioned carne asada in hard shells.  We capped off the evening watching the latest episode of 'Survivor', and then read until after 2200 hours before touching our heads to our pillows one more time.

I've said it so often that it begins to seem trite after a while, but life is truly good.......

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Rincon state of mind

It takes a few days to take hold....that Rincon 'state of mind'......that place in your mind were one day begins to blend into another, and you actually do forget what day it is.  As the sun sets each day your mind then turns to the rhythmic sound of the ocean as you drift off to dreamland.....the sound of one wave after another breaking and retreating in this sort of hypnotic cadence.  As if no time has elapsed, you are awakened by a sudden burst of sunlight at 0720 as Mr. Sun breaks over the coastal hills one more time to announce the beginning of another day.......what day you are not quite certain......you think 'is it Tuesday, or Wednesday?  Or, maybe even Thursday'......you don't know for sure, but you don't really care whether you answer the question, or not.  The sun is out, the air with its balmy, silky feel is calling you outside where the morning zephyrs are just barely discernible, and the roiling water is just 50' away.  The closest human portable habitations are at least 150' behind you, and in front the nearest is over 300' away......it's as if you have your own little seaside estate.....you think that life cannot possibly get much better, and you are probably right.....except for all the other cool stuff you know is just around the corner.

In past visits to the Rincon, we would be getting ready to return to our hectic lives after just 2, or 3 nights just as we began to slow down mentally.  And even when we had retired, we were still on some sort of self imposed schedule.  This is the first time we have stayed for more than 4 days, and knowing that we will have logged some 10 days when we do finally pull anchor puts a smile on our collective faces.

In the interests of full disclosure, we are less than 70' from a set of train tracks, and there are 2 to 3 freight trains that pass by each day, as well as numerous 'Surfliner' commuter trains, and less than a 1/16th of a mile away is US HWY 101, which always boasts a steady stream of cars and trucks.  Nevertheless, if you face the ocean you cannot hear any of that......just the waves, the wind and the ubiquitous sea birds.  There are several beach colonies along Rincon Parkway (Faria, Hobson, Solimar, etc) boasting multi million dollar homes, and yet they have the same view for which we pay $28/night, and the same traffic noise and train noise we do.....we have no utilities to pay, no property taxes to pay, and no 'stuff' to take care of day after day.

During the day there are a couple of freight trains, and several 'Surfliners' (commuter trains)

Wednesday we spent most of our day reading outside.....I did manage to motivate myself to wipe the road grime off the passenger side of the coach......we passed through a lot of snow and rain on our way south from Spokane.  Maybe I'll tackle the driver's side Thursday.....maybe.

 A lot of surfers out Tuesday

As is or custom whilst we tarry on the Rincon we were outside sitting by the fire as the sun kissed the ocean one more time...........

 6th Rincon sunset

......and really, in the end, this is what it is really all about......just me and my baby facing the world together.........

Life is good......life is sweet.......life just is.............

Thanks for stopping by!