Sunday, February 26, 2017

24.....more, or less

7:09 am - PST - Sunday - 48º F, humidity 66%, wind 11 mph out of the WNW.....very cloudy with occasional sprinkles right now.

I was up by 6:30 am and downstairs in the kitchen getting my first cup of French Roast made by the Keurig coffee machine.....my son Chris was already up.....he is an early riser.  I set up my computer to type Friday's blog post and got to work.  Our plan was to be on the road by 10 am so we could be home before it got too late into the afternoon.....we had some 145 miles to cover back to the Newell.

Some of our kids wanted to come up to Chris and TAR's* home for breakfast to spend a little more time with us, and, eventually Meredith, Kate and Nick along with two of their kids arrived, and then just before we left Rod, Sharon and Brayden arrived........



  Charlise.....a beautiful smile....she got her braces off a few months ago!

 My great grandson, D.C., with my grandson, Christopher

 D.C. playing while guarding Jolene Rose

Left to right: Jolene Rose, D.C. and Brayden James.....one of my favorite pictures of all time......Jolene is 9 months, D.C. is 2, and Brayden is 1.....already good buddies

......we finally got in the car around 10:40 am, and were quickly at our first stop of the day, Pro Bass Shop in Rancho Cucamonga, where TLE wanted to pick up some new RedHead (house brand) hiking sandals......her current pair have worn out after many miles of walking and hiking and it was time for a new pair.  We were merging on to I-15 south by 11:20 am, and on to I-10 eastbound a few minutes later.  We had to fuel up just before Salton City at the Red Earth Casino (best price in the area......25 cents less than the ARCO Travel Center), and then it was just 27 miles further to Rockhouse Road and home!

We arrived just after 1:30 pm to find our batteries at 100%!  I have to admit.....even though I was sure I had solved the mystery of the abnormal battery discharge the day before I was still concerned.....as usual my worries were unecessary. 

We quickly unloaded our luggage, mail and packages and settled in for the rest of the afternoon.....I put our patio furniture back out.....even though I pretty much trust our neighbors, I still feel better locking stuff away when we are gone overnight.

I prepared a sunset fire for TLE and I, which we enjoyed until almost 6 pm before heading in for dinner......we had a wonderful time with our kids even though it was less than 24 hours, and are looking forward to seeing them again in just a few weeks when we pass through SoCal on our way up to South Lake Tahoe for the summer.

Thanks for stopping by!

*TAR = The Amazing Rochelle

Saturday, February 25, 2017

In 'N Out......

6:31 am - RCT - Saturday - 39º F, humidity 62%, wind 3 mph out of the north......(RCT = Rancho Cucamonga Time)......projected high here is only 57º F!  Very cold here this morning.......we'll be getting in the VW in a couple of hours to head back to Anza Borrego State Park.  Had a wonderful whirlwind time picking up our mail, packages, getting haircuts, having dinner with all our kids and honorary kids.

Friday I was up just before 7 am to find that our batteries were all the way down to 71% overnight!  Wait, what????  I was thinking initially that I had another battery sulfating, but my mind just would not accept that premise.  So, here we are getting ready to leave for 24 hours and I have a battery emergency.......I immediately turn on the big 7.5 kw Kohler generator and then begin going through the possibilities in my mind......there is nothing on that should not be on and yet I lost 29% of my battery capacity in just 7 hours.  

Suddenly it occurred to me to check the refrigerator......if TLE had inadvertently pressed the button putting it on 'AUTO', meaning if there is an AC electrical source it will switch from propane to electric, then that would account for the battery draw down over night......well, the 'AUTO' button was on, and that is exactly what had happened.  The entire time we had been watching TV Thursday night (5 hours) off the inverter the fridge was running off our batteries and not propane, and that was the culprit.  Of course, we still had low house batteries, so I had to get them back to at least 85% before we left so the solar panels could take over and get them back to somewhere near 100%......by 9 am we had reached 85%, and I turned off the Kohler.  At least we could leave home and not worry about coming back to discharged batteries!

We were in the Beetle just after 9:30 am heading east on S-22 to Salton City and our first stop to fuel up for the 250 mile round trip drive......we were leaving the ARCO with a full tank by 10:00 am and on our way to Rancho Cucamonga.

It was a perfect windless day for driving, and we made good time arriving in Ontario, CA around 11:45 am at the Ontario Mills Mall.....I needed to get a new battery in my Casio diver's watch, and I have a  'guy' there (Tic Time) who is fast and inexpensive......I also needed to have a new watch band installed.  We were back in the car and on our way over to my son's office in Rancho Cucamonga by 12:15 and there a few minutes later picking up a lot of mail, and 6 packages.....I forgot how many things I had ordered......:-)

By the time we finished at my son's office it was a little after 1 pm, and our next appointment (haircuts) was at 2 pm in Claremont, so we drove a couple of blocks over to Rubio's for some of their vaunted fish tacos.....as always, their service was quite fast, and we were on our way over to the Forte Salon in Claremont by 1:35, and arrived there just a few mintues after 2......


TAA***, moi and TLE
......I think our do's came out pretty nice.....thank you Amanda (TAA***)!  Amanda has been an honorary Hockwald since she was just a wee thing.

We ran by my son, Chris' home to drop off our stuff, and then headed down to my daughter Kate's home for dinner with our kids, and grandkids......we celebrated my grandson Elijah's 14th birthday.......how is that possible?  He was just 8 years old a couple of years ago.....

 Singing 'Happy Birthday' to Elijah

 All of the cupboard doors are painted and reinstalled in the kitchen now!

.....eventually my niece (brother's daughter) Danielle brought over her 6 month old Adrian for Kate and Nick to watch while she and Miguel had a date night.......so many babies in our family now!

Baby Adrian giving me the 'stink eye'

........Kate's baby, Jolene Rose, is teething big time right now and she was a little under the weather so I was getting the 'stink eye' from her, too......


.....Nick (Kate's husband), TAR* and Chris (my son) posing by the bar........


......all Hockwald gatherings are slightly chaotic, loud and boisterous and this one was no different......6 conversations in progress at all times....lots of laughing and love being exchanged......I wouldn't have it any other way........I love my family!

Present, but not all in the few pix I took (why do I always forget to take enough pictures?) were Sharon, Rod, Brayden James, AIDB**, TAA***, Meredith, Danielle, Nick, Kate, Charlie, Elijah, Jolene Rose, Adrian, Tim, and TBL****.

By 10 pm TLE and I were on fumes, and ready to head to Chris' home for the evening......we were long asleep when Chris and TAR* got home at midnight.....time to get ready for the drive home......In 'N Out of town in less than 24 hours!

Thanks for stopping by!

*TAR = The Amazing Rochelle!
**AIDB = Aly Is 'da Bomb!
***TAA = The Awesome Amanda
****TBL = The Beautiful Laila

Friday, February 24, 2017

None, nada, zip.....

1:30 pm - PST - Friday - We are on the road today.....there was no Verizon broadband all last night, or first thing this morning in the Borrego Springs area.  I will put a blog post up later this afternoon when we arrive at our destination.

4:40 pm - PST - Friday - Our plan when we went to bed Thursday evening was to drive into Rancho Cucamonga to pick up our mail, and some packages at our son's office, get haircuts, see our kids and spend the night, returning to Anza Borrego State Park Saturday morning.......we have completed the first part of that plan, and are now in Rancho Cucamonga at our son's home.  It was extremely windy Thursday night and into early Friday morning, but it finally calmed down around 4 am.  We lost Verizon Broadband sometime Thursday afternoon, and it didn't return until just a few minutes before we got in the VW to drive to Rancho.....so, what happened Thursday?

Thursday began with winds in the 'teens', and we fully expected to be home bound most of the day, but by mid morning the wind abated enough that it was comfortable being outside.  We spent most of the morning reading, and I eventually ventured outside to putter around in the trailer, and around the Newell.  The wind was out of the north and very chilly, so I still had my pajamas and a sweatshirt on until early afternoon.

Since the winds had calmed significantly I decided to take a short bike ride......nothing of the 20+ mile variety......just a short 10-12 mile ride.  As I eased on to S-22 I decided to turn left and head east towards the Salton Sea for about 6.5 miles and then turn around.  As I rode I was unaware that the winds had come back up and that I was being pushed gently along by a tail wind.  By the time I reached the 6.5 mile mark I was flying along at close to 30 mph so I continued on for a little longer.....for some some reason it never occurred to me why I was going so fast.......that is until I turned around at the 7.2 mile mark thinking that was far enough......it was then that I was hit by the 12-15 mph wind coming directly out of the west now.  My 'out' time to the turn around was about 31 minutes, and the road home was all downhill, however, the head wind was so stiff it took me 39 minutes to get back to the Newell, and I had to pedal the entire way due to the headwind.........

The tale of the ride

......in all I covered 14.5 miles in 1 hour and 10 minutes at an average speed of 12.3 mph, and scorched 900 calories......I wish I had turned around sooner......:-)

Around 5 pm I grilled some carne asada for the hard shell tacos TLE was planning, and was sitting eating them by 5:20.  The winds began to increase in intensity all evening, and we had gusts in the neighborhood of 40 mph several times during the night.  I woke up several times to the howling wind, but finally by 4 am it was once again quiet.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Wayward Wind.......

6:58 am - PST - Thursday - 49º F, 52% humidity, wind 7 mph out of WNW......more like 15 mph.....windy all night long with gusts into the high 20's.......clear skies from horizon to horizon.  We were hoping the winds would abate this morning, but they continue.  Such is the life of the desert dweller!

Wednesday had a very benign beginning.....almost windless, partly cloudy, but the forecast showed winds picking up by 10 am and continuing throughout the day, and into the evening.  Since I was set on taking a bike ride.....maybe break the 20 mile barrier.....I set out to take that ride about 8:30 am.  Most often when I set out to ride I have a general idea of my route, but about 50% of the time I change my mind as I am merging on to S-22......will I go left and ride the 8.5 miles up to the 'Call Box', or will I head right and take S-22 into Borrego Springs, or will I take Henderson Canyon into town.....or will I do something completely different?  Wednesday felt like a 'something completely different' kind of day.


Wall of unpruned palm trees along Borrego Valley Rd.

.....when I did merge on to S-22 I did turn right intending to just head into town and then retrace my steps, but as I came to the elementary school at the intersection of S-22 and Borrego Valley Road I decided to turn left on Borrego Valley Road which is also the Julian turnoff.  I road westward to Borrego Springs Road (where the metal sculptures are) turning right and riding back towards Christmas Cirlce and Borrego Springs.  By the time I finished my ride back at Rockhouse Road I had covered some 24.1 miles, burned 1534 calories, and averaged 14.7 mph for the entire trip.  Just as I turned on to Henderson Valley Road for the final 4.25 mile leg home the wind came up and thankfully it was a tailwind......I ran before the wind at 23 mph for about 3.5 miles.....suweet!

Wednesday was also laundry day.......the last time we did laundry was 3+ weeks ago in Parker, AZ whilst we sojourned on the Colorado River.....it was time.  There is a nice laundry in town at the Palm Canyon RV and Resort on the northern edge of town......

We enjoyed the view from the laundry front porch.....

 Keep forgetting to take off my reading glasses.....

......it took about 90 minutes to wash, dry and fold two large loads by which time it was now 1:30  pm and time for a late lunch at Los Jilbertos Taco Shop in downtown Borrego Springs.  These folks make wonderful, authentic Mexican cuisine which we first discovered last year when we were here with our friends.  I had two large Carne Asada Tacos and TLE had to regular Pollo Asado Tacos (all a la carte) for just over $16 (included drinks).....we sat outside enjoying the slightly breezy air.....

Need to work on my charisma

......while we were eating I looked up to see Becky Schade waiving at me from a car that had just parked in front of Los Jilbertos......we first met Becky at Amazon in Fernley, NV back in the 2014 Peak Season.  She writes a blog called 'Interstellar Orchard' which I love to read.......very, very informative and well written from a single woman's perspective of the fulltime life, and she has written and self published a couple of books on similar topics.  We last saw Becky at Quartzite last January.  She is also boondocking with friends out on Rockhouse Road a few hundred yards from our location.  As I have often told people, Becky was one of those people we met at Amazon in Fernley that made our time there more enjoyable......there is nothing like shared suffering to bond people together.....:-)

We were back home by 3 pm, and by this time the wind was really kicking up its heels.....a couple of our patio chairs had been blown over, and we had to take down our wind chimes lest they self destruct in the freshening winds.  Normally I would sit outside reading the rest of the afternoon, and ultimately watching the sun set, but with the blustery, and ever so cold winds out of the north I opted for the more comfortable confines of the Newell.

We watched some TV, then read until it was bedtime.......thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Julian, but no Lennon.......

6:43 am - PST - Wednesday - 55º F (feels warmer than that to me), humidity 67%, wind 8 mph out of the northwest (feels more like 1-2 mph at most).......cloudy.....forecast for Wednesday is for a high of 70º F with partly cloudy skies.

We had nothing much planned for Tuesday except a scenic drive up to Julian, CA.  Julian's elevation is just over 4,200 feet, and has an ideal winter climate for growing a large variety of apples.  Julian came into existence around 1870 when gold was discovered nearby causing an instant boom, and the creation of the town.  The gold mines' cost effectiveness declined over time and by 1906 they were closed for good.  The town remains to day as a tourist attraction, and is world famous for their apple pies......


......there are many places in Julian you can buy apple pie, but the most famous of them all is the Julian Pie Company located at the western end of the main street......Yelp gives them 4.5 stars on 710 reviews......I think my point is made!  We bought one of their pies during last year's visit, and since we are attempting to consume fewer calories at present we did not buy another this year.

We left Borrego Springs around 11:15 am and were in Julian parking our car by 12:05 pm......it is only about 29 miles each way.  Last year we ate lunch with our friends Michael and Liz at 'Soups and Such', and we really wanted to return there for some of their French Onion Soup......OMG (Yelp gives them 4 stars, but we would we would be closer to 4.5)!  We were quickly seated, and ordered our bowls of this amazing elixir.  The town was uncrowded, and this is precisely why we waited until the day after President's Day to visit.....it is always a madhouse on holiday weekends this time of year.    After savoring ever single bite of our soup we were on our way to walk around town popping in and out of many local stores, and one very cool thrift shop across the street from Julian Pie Company, but we found nothing without which we could not live.......and we are still alive today, so I think we made the right decisions.....:-)


We were back on our way down HWY 78 to Borrego Springs before 2, and home before 3 pm......the views coming down the hill are quite big.......


......we did make one quick stop at Center Market to get some fresh water......they have a filtered water machine outside the store where you can get filtered spring water for .25/gallon......as of Tuesday we have used 65 of the 145 gallons of fresh water we arrived with......not too bad, but since we do not run our RO system (reverse osmosis generates a lot of waste water....not practical for boondocking) filtering system when boondocking we need drinking water separate from the fresh water tank, which we only use for taking showers, washing dishes, and flushing the toilet whilst boondocking.  We carry a 5 gallon fresh water container with us for just this purpose, so we filled it up, and 3 additional 1 gallon bottles.....total cost....$2.00 for 8 gallons.....we were paying .99 cents per gallon for Crystal Geyser water, so one fourth the cost.

We both spent the rest of the afternoon reading.....me outside reading and napping....as it began to move towards sunset I began to observe some unusual (for me) cloud formations......

 This one did not move for two hours

 A little creepy, huh?

 Very symmetrical


.....and at last it was time for our evening ritual......the sunset shot........


.....once again Tuesday, while we were on our brief road trip our batteries reach battery nirvana......100% charge.  We continue to learn more about our electrical system, and are excited to think that we will eclipse our previous record for consecutive boondocking days in one spot without dumping our black tank.  We have been here 12 days and the black tank is just under 50% full.....I think we can make it over three weeks if all continues to go as it is......previously we had gone 17 days.  Hard to believe we will have been here 14 days come this Thursday!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Recovery

8:19 am - PST - Tuesday - 54º F, humidity 83%, wind 1 mph out of the west (if even that)....forecast high for Tuesday is 76º F.....partly cloudy, but lots of sun right now on the solar panels.  Batteries are continuing to get back to 100% every day except the rain day....haven't run either generator in days.

In spite of not getting to bed until almost 1 am, I was awake at 6:30 am, and not able to get back to sleep.....I wanted to sleep more, honestly I did, but it was just not in the cards, so I got up and lit the burner under the coffee pot to get the coffee going. Then I went outside to turn on our house batteries.

An interesting note for those who are interested in electrical stuff.....I have a GUEST four way switch on my house batteries that enables me to draw power from each each battery separately by choosing 1, or 2, or I can, as has always been the case, draw from both at the same time by choosing 'BOTH'.  It also has has an 'OFF' position, which I have only used in the past when the coach has been in storage for long periods of time without a power source.  I began to experimenting by turning the batteries to the 'OFF' position about two weeks ago when the chassis battery was going bad, and have found that whatever percentage of charge the batteries are at when we go to bed, they are still at that same percentage when we get up.......turning them off stops the overnight discharge when we are not needing anything from them.  In the past I have just left this switch in the 'BOTH' position and our batteries continue to discharge overnight another 5-9% depending on the outside temperature.  Why it never occurred to me to turn them off, or 'isolate' them I cannot say, but when we were having the issue with the chassis battery a couple of weeks ago I began doing this to protect them from the then mysterious drain.  At any rate, now even on partly cloudy days our batteries are getting back to 100% easily, and we are not having to run the generators much at all.....cool!  No point in having them on when we do not need anything from them, right?


The 'GUEST' marine grade battery switch

Monday was sort of a recovery day for TLE after Sunday night's Indio escapades.....she knows if she catches the infection early on with antibiotics that relief will come quickly, and that is just the case this time.

We had made plans Sunday night to hike with Bill and Patsy up to the 'stone snake' sculpture, but TLE was not feeling it, so I joined them at 10 am to show them the way. 


Of course, there must be an 'usie'

 Patsy taking some 'long' shots at the top

We were back in about an hour.....it is not a long hike.....about .75 miles each way, but the 'stone snake' and the attendant long views are worth it every time.....


.....instead of retracing our steps the way we came we made a big loop hike out it and ended up covering just 1.3 miles, but I managed to burn 239 calories of my daily goal of 1,000.....


......so later in the afternoon I got my Cannondale Bad Boy out and rode about 14 miles to get the final 761 calories.  I have found over the years that when I can consistently burn 1,000 calories, or more each day I am able to lose weight while still eating normally, and that has once again proved to be the case as I have lost about 11 pounds since I started about 4 weeks ago.  I get it in many different forms......power walking with TLE, hiking, bike riding, working out.....as long as any single activity, or a combination of activities achieves that daily goal I am able to keep my metabolism running which helps me lose the weight.....the secret, of course, is to do it consistently.  Now, to be fair, I do give my 67.5 year old body a day off here and there.

Since our Canadian friends Bill and Patsy are leaving for new adventures on Tuesday we invited them over for a campfire at 5:30 pm......


.....Patsy's sister, Gayle, and her husband, John, had just arrived in their 5th wheel, so they came along also.  We talked and laughed for over two hours before it was time to bid our adieus for another day.....we have so enjoyed getting to know Bill and Patsy, and now Patsy's sister and her husband......it is one of the many blessings of this lifestyle!


.......and with that I will leave you with this short video.....

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Surprise!

7:58 am - PST - Monday - 56º F, humidity 77%, wind - calm......sunny from horizon to horizon.  Very, very windy last night, but finally abated around 3 am.  

After 24 hours of rain it was nice to wake up to sun once again Sunday, and then the drying out process began.....the awning mats were wet, and covered with wet sand, and there was some standing water, but that is the great thing about the desert......water soaks into the sand quickly, and things do dry out fast......by 11 am the mats were dry to the touch, and the standing water was gone, so we decided to take a hike up Rockhouse Canyon towards the 'dry' lake bed.....we did this hike last year, but I did not recall how far it was......


.....we reached the dry mud flats which still had us about 1/2 mile from the dry lake bed, which did have water in it as is often the case this time of year.  Unfortunately this eventually turned into much softer mud and made it unwise to proceed any further.  At this point we had covered 2.3 miles......whoa.....much further than I remembered!


.........our return trip had us back at the coach around 1 pm, and our total mileage came to, as one might expect, 4.6........

 Our 4.6 mile hike route

We had made plans to meet at the site of fellow bloggers Tom and Deb Duchaine for a campfire.....they will be leaving Monday morning.  Earlier in the afternoon we had met their friends Bill and Patsy Richards from Ontario, Canada, who were also at the campfire. Bill and Patsy are also bloggers......Bill's is 'On Our Way', and Patsy's is 'Chillin With Patsy'. We had a wonderful time chatting and getting to know each other for about 90 minutes until the wind came up, and chased us back to our respective domiciles.......usually by this time of the evening the winds, if there have been any, have abated and it is very still, but not Sunday night.....surprise #1........

Our campfire 'usie'.....left to right: moi, Deb, Tom, TLE, Pat and Bill.....oops I cut Bill's head off.....¡lo siento mucho!

......surprise #2.....we had barely gotten home when TLE advised she was not feeling well.......this past summer she came down with a bladder infection while we were in South Lake Tahoe......the first in 25+ years.  Well, it was back again and here were are almost 60 miles from medical help (everything in Borrego Springs was closed by this time), so TLE googled '24 hour urgent care centers' and the closest one was in Indio......we called and found they only had a 30 minute wait, so at 8:22 pm we got in the car and made the dash to Indio arriving at Premier Urgent Care on Monroe at 9;20 pm sharp......58 minutes.....not bad Clarke!   TLE was in and out in less than an hour, however, now it was after 10 pm and most pharmacies close at 10.....we found out from the Urgent Care lady there was a CVS over on Washington and 42nd that was a 24 hour pharmacy so we drove over there......by the time the prescription was filled it was 11:20 pm, and now we still had an hour drive back to Borrego Springs (Anza Borrego State Park). We arrived back at the Newell without incident by 12:20, and were in bed by 12:45 am.......you just never know how your day it going to end....SURPRISE!!

Editor's note.......out of respect to TLE's privacy I rarely, if ever, share something so personal about her, but this is real life, and I know many who are contemplating this fulltime life are concerned about these types of situations.  This is the first time in 5 years of traveling, and staying in sometimes quite remote locations that we have had what I would call a medical emergency when we were quite far from medical help.  The odds of this happening increase with each passing year as we continue to add years.  Fortunately this was an easily remedied situation, and just required that we drive an hour.  We have certainly been in much more remote areas where we were probably two hours, or more from help.  I think it is time we subscribed to 'Teledoc', or 'Doctor on Demand', and it is also probably wise that the next time we are in Los Algodones, Mexico where you don't need a prescription for antibiotics that we buy a couple of prescriptions just in case we find ourselves in this situation again.......a 7 day dose of antibiotics costs under $10 there, and they are usually good for a year.....a small price to pay for piece of mind, and to avoid that unexpected 120 mile drive late at night!

Thanks for stopping by!