Our Trip August to November 2012 (November 24)

Saturday November 24

A Sobering Experience

I had not intended on another post, but felt it important to let everyone know that, contrary to what the Vatican might tell you, St. Christopher (patron Saint of travellers), is alive and well.

We left the Holiday Inn in Roseburg at 6:45, and headed for the I-5. We had begun to notice distinct vibration starting at about 110 km/hr, whcih got worse as we went along. The steering was getting a bit iffy as well, so we decided to stop at a Jiffy Lube to get an oil change and have the tire pressures checked. It didn’t improve things, and a few km later, we heard a bang underneath, as if we had run over something, and a few minutes later, the Low Tire Pressure alert came on. The culprit was the right rear tire, which indeed seemed to be losing air. We did a search on the Garmin for a Les Schwab tire store, and found one 12 miles away in Lebanon, Oregon. We limped in and after they took Priscilla in and pulled the wheels off, the service guy came and told me to come and see what they had found:

This burst our bubble

This was on the inside of the tire, and was the result of a bubble underneath the tread, which eventuall let go, which was the sound we had heard on the highway. He then showed me the other rear tire, which was full of similar bubbles ready to pop as well. He told me that we had been very lucky to make it. We’re not sure what caused this, but is probably a bad set of tires from the factory. We will follow this up when we get back. Anyway, a new set of tires (I didn’t trust the remaining two tires) and $1000.00 poorer, we were back on the road, well behind schedule. After passing through a torrential rainstorm in Seattle and a 15-minute wait at the border, we finally arrived at Lisa’s at about 7:15.

Our Trip August to November 2012 (November 18-23)

Friday  November 23

All Good Things…

After a 9-hour drive, which we shared in two shifts each, we are now in a Holiday Inn in Roseburg, Oregon. The drive was mostly on the I-5, but pretty nonetheless:

Rollin’ down the highway

Mt. Shasta

By this time tomorrow, we hope to be with Lisa and Carolyn in Vancouver, so this will be the last post until after we return hope. We’ll post some final thoughts early next week

Thursday  November 22

A Bass Lake Thanksgiving

We went for a walk down to the lakeshore this morning, and spent an enjoyable hour sitting in the warm sun. At 2:00, we went down to the Clubhouse for a fabulous turkey dinner:

Ready for dinner

Sharing a table with our American friends, Rick and Lynn

There’s always room for dessert!

The turkeys were prepared in an interesting way. A fire was started in a large pit last evening, using a cord of oak wood and some hot stones.

The turkey pit

The frozen stuffed turkeys were wrapped in aluminum foils and burlap, put in the pit, then covered with dirt. They cooked for several hours, and came out absolutely juicy and tender.

The end result

We helped with the cleanup of the pots, pans and roasters, a small way to pay back the hospitality we have been shown here.

The cleanup crew

We leave early tomorrow morning for Medford Oregon.

Wednesday  November 21

A Down Day

As the weather has not been great today, we spent the morning discussing the schedule for the next few days, and the afternoon reading in the Clubhouse. It has gotten busier during the day, with many new people arriving for Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow we will attend the Thanksgiving dinner at 2:00, and we have offered to help clean up afterward. On Friday we will be on the road by 8:00 (hopefully), and hope to get as far into Oregon as possible. We will likely find a hotel, then plan to arrive in Vancouver by early evening on Saturday. We will be staying at Lisa’s overnight, and with Carolyn there as well, it’s a party! On Sunday, we plan to visit an RV dealership in Langley just before noon. We will then catch the Duke Point ferry, arriving home in late afternoon, if all goes well. Friday and Saturday will be long driving days, but since the weather has turned and many campgrounds are now closed, it seems like the best option.

Tuesday  November 20

A Great Tour

The 30-passenger bus picked us up just after 8:00, then picked up the other 25 passengers at a Lodge just up the road. The weather couldn’t have been better; a clear sky and about 60 degrees Fahrenheit on the valley floor. After a very scenic winding drive of about an hour, we entered the Park for the full-day tour that included stops at Mariposa Grove, a stand of Giant Sequoias, one of which is over 3500 years old:

Giant Sequoia – they can survive insects, drought, fire and lightning strikes because of the vast amounts of tannins they contain

The “Fallen Monarch” – its fall predates even the original Indian tribes who lived here

The Wawona Hotel, built in 1857 as a stage stop:

Wawona Hotel

The resident Raven

Immediately after exiting a mile-long tunnel, one of the most photographed views in the world:

El Capitan (left) and Half-Dome (back centre)

Two sets of waterfalls; their water volume is less than half of what it will be in the Spring:

Bridal Veil Fall

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls

Speaking of water volume:

The water level of a surprise flash flood on New Year’s Day, 1997. Miraculously, there were no deaths

Grant, the driver and guide, had an encylcopedic knowledge of the park, its history and its flora and fauna. It was a wonderful day, and was worth every penny. We would highly recommend this tour to anyone; it is a great alternative to taking your vehicle into the park. It even included lunch!

We took our hot dogs down to the Clubhouse kitchen and cooked them up for supper; the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Monday  November 19

Taken For A Ride (Or Two)

True to their word, our new friends Rick and Lynn showed up promptly at 9:00 and drove us into Oakmont to do some shopping, then dropped us off at our campsite:

Bass Lake campsite

In the afternoon, they took us on a drive around the lake;

Bass Lake – it is virtually emptied during the winter, which makes for a strange sight

Upon returning, we phoned and made arrangements for a guided bus tour of Yosemite National Park, considered one of the 3 “Crown Jewels” of the National Park System (the other two being Grand Canyon and Yellowstone), which means we will have completed the Trifecta. In the evening, we lit a fire in the Clubhouse and read watched TV on their big flatscreen. We were the only ones there, but things will start to get busier in the next couple of days.

Sunday  November 18

The Kindness of Strangers

We decided to do what they call “self-assist” to speed up debarkation from the ship this morning, which essentially meant looking after all our own luggage and getting off the boat by 7:30 a.m. We breezed through Immigration and then had about a half-hour wait for the shuttle to come and take us back to pick up Priscilla. We were on the road before 9:00, and after a 4 1/2 hour drive, we arrived at the Bass Lake Resort, which is in a beautiful setting at about 3600 feet above the San Joaquin Valley in the Sierra National Forest. The original intent was to be here for one night, but the best-laid plans….

We went walkabout and ended up in the resort kitchen, where we were greeted effusively by the local ladies, who had just finished stuffing 20 turkeys for the resort Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, which they insisted we attend. Long story short, we have decided to stay until Friday morning, which in turn means that our arrival back home will be delayed. We are still planning on being home sometime on Monday, but we will be doing a couple of long days of driving. We will be taking the I-5 instead of the Pacific Coast Highway. Part of our reason for staying is that Yosemite Park is only an hour away, so we thought we should take advantage as long as we are this close.

The hospitality here seems to know no bounds. A couple of the locals insisted we come down into the local village for Mexican food, where we met all the other locals. At the end of dinner, one lady finagled her husband into driving us into Oakmont, about 8 miles away, to pick up some groceries. He seemed perfectly happy to do it. These are real down-to-earth, hospitable folk, who seem to have taken us under their wing.

Our Trip August to November 2012 (November 11-17)

Sunday  November 11 – Saturday November 17

The Sailors Are Home From The Sea: Highlight Reel

– our cabin, which was bigger than expected:

Our cabin

Our cabin

Our cabin (night)

– overhearing the story of some guy hitting on another guy’s wife in the hot tub; the husband jumped in the tub, cowboy hat, boots and all, and started beating on the offender (welcome to the “Fun Ship”)

–  Karaoke, ranging from very good to truly awful

– winning a Trivia trophy on our first try, described by the trivia host as a “plastic ship on a stick”. We’re proud of it anyway;

At least it’s gold-coloured

– watching Carnival’s version of the old “Love and marriage” gameshow, wherein 3 pairs of contestants (in this case, passenger couples who had been married 2 months, 35 years and 60 years), are asked (sometimes embarrasing) questions about each other to see if their answers match up, and thus demonstrate how well they really know their partners. The absolute highlight of this one was the ansers of the newlyweds to this one:

Question – What is the strangest or most bizarre place you have made whoopee?

Her answer: “The back of the sofa”.

His answer: “I may have misunderstood the question, because I put down “Her butt”.

The quizmaster, who was the cruise director, was so overwhelmed with laughter that he had to literally crawl off the stage, quickly followed by the wife, who was so embarrased that she had to be coaxed back on.

Cabo San Lucas

– being lured into a jewellery store by free beer and almond tequila shooters – walking out an hour later with our current jewellery cleaned and a new pinky ring for Jeannine. Our salesperson, Juan Rodriguez, should be teaching sales technique at the Harvard School of Business; he’s that good.

– lunch at the Mi Casa restaurant:

A small part of the “Mi Casa”…

…Complete with fortune-telling canaries

– meeting a lovely mother-daughter duo, who became dinner and show companions (Valerie and Susan Taylor – what are the chances?)

Valerie and Susan

– snorkelling trip to Chilleno Bay and Santa Maria Bay. Lots of beautiful fish and a bonus appeaarnce by 3 adult and one juvenile migrating whales. We were close enough to hit them with a rock.

– Pancho the Sea Lion, ridng the swim step of a boat in the harbour while being fed

– sign on a fishing charter kiosk on the dock: “A real fishing company; no bullshit”

– reluctantly leaving Cabo San Lucas:

Cabo sunset

Puerto Vallarta

– pirate ship in Puerto Vallarta harbour:

There is a lot of pirate history in this bay

“Aaaarrr…”

– “When Good Time Shares Go Bad” – exchanging a free phone call and two free beers for a  with a sales job showdown from a resort club tag team. The match ended in a draw.

– drinking $1.00 beer and margaritas at the Sea Monkey on the beach, and meeting a true (Canadian) character named Brenda, an ex-trucker turned ESL teacher, now living in Puerto Vallarta

Our Trip August to November 2012 (November 1-10)

Saturday November 10

Life Is A Carnival ( For those Who Remember 3 Dog Night)

We left the campsite late this morning and had a quick drive to the Holiday Inn in Long Beach, where we will be spending the night, prior to catching the 1:00 shuttle to the Long Beach Terminal to check in at 1:30 for our cruise on the Carnival Splendor. While we are bringing the computer and Ipad with us, it is unlikely that we will be updating again until after we return on the 18th. The weather is supposed to be improving over the next few days, so we are looking forward to that. See you all when we get back!

Friday November 9

Who Turned the Lights Out?

Due to cool cloudy weather,we spent a fairly quiet day in the Adult Centre, reading in front of the fire or watching TV. We wanted to make a couple of phone calls, but couldn’t get cell service. Around 6:00, our half of the resort lost power, so we returned to Priscilla and cooked dinner. About 30 minutes later, the power came back on. We did most of our packing for the cruise. We will be leaving for the hotel tomorrow, so will update Sunday morning before we leave for the cruise terminal.

Thursday November 8

Best Campsite Yet (continued)

The weather has definitely changed; over the last couple of days, the temperature has cooled considerably, and we have had some rain, the first we have seen since leaving Cape Cod two months ago. The more we see of this resort, the more we think we will come back here for a longer stay in the future. It really is very nice:

Our campsite; the lagoon is directly behind us.

Looking out over one of the two lakes here.

In front of the fire in the Adult Centre.

We spent the afternoon in the Adult Centre, reading and doing some computer work. Jeannine went for a swim, then we talked to Matt and Nichol on Facetime. We will do some laundry tomorrow, then start packing for the cruise.

Wednesday November 7

Best Campsite Yet

We drove a short 2 1/2 hours to Mountain Lakes Resort, just outside of Los Angeles. Pretty uneventful, but got a kick out of this:

Just in case you were wondering…

This view, 70 miles from L.A., is less amusing:

L.A. smog

The resort itself is arguably the best we have seen yet, set in the San Bernadino mountains at 3200 feet, it has two fishing lakes and a lagoon, and is large enough that although there are a fair number of rigs here, it doesn’t feel like that. Wonderful amenities, including three pools and two jacuzzis, a general store and full clubhouse and adult centre. Our site backs onto the lagoon.

We have decided to spend Saturday night at a Holiday Inn close to the cruise terminal. It provides free parking while we are away, and a shuttle service to the terminal. The weather is supposed to be cooler and wetter over the next couple of days.

Tuesday November 6

Walk on the Wild Side (Someone Told Me It’s All Happening At The Zoo)

We spent the day at the San Diego Zoo, and while it is very well done, on balance, we preferred the Safari Park. A big cat in a cage, no matter how nice a cage, is still a big cat in a cage, and there’s something sad in watching them pacing back and forth along the front of the cage. To the Zoo’s credit, they have tried to re-create natural conditions as much as possible, and their breeding programs are very successful. Overall, it is a beautiful zoo, although a bit over-commercialized for my taste (although it is non-profit and all money goes back into the zoo).

Timon…Timon?

“What are you looking at?” (A Fishing Cat)

Just hangin’ out

Hmmm…Big Mac or Cheeseburger?

We returned to the campsite about 5:00 and met up with Maurice and Marilyn for a game of cards, and then watched the election results. Off to Mountain Lakes Resort tomorrow.

Monday November 5

Priscilla’s Day Off, The World’s Biggest Floating Basketball Court

Priscilla spent the day getting repairs to her passenger seat mechanism, so we rented a car and drove into San Diego to tour the USS Midway aircraft carrier, now retired from service. It is…big:

USS Midway (or at least, part of her 1000 foot length.)

“The Island” – air control and Bridge

Take off, eh?

The Navigator

We really enjoyed the tour, but were a little disappointed in the fact that a huge chunk of the flight deck was taken up with bleachers surrounding a basketball court, which is being set up for a college basketball game on Friday night.

After the tour, we headed to the community of La Jolla, which is beautiful and rich. Maurice drove us around, and the sights are quite beautiful:

Surf’s up!

La Jolla from Mount Soledad

We fought our way through San Diego rush-hour traffic, returned the rental, picked up Priscilla, had a bite to eat in town, then returned to the campsite to rest up for the San Diego Zoo tomorrow.

Sunday November 4 

Tied Hand and Foot

Actually, we weren’t tied, we just played a card game with our new friends Maurice and Marilyn, which is called Hand and Foot. It was a lot of fun, and capped off a very pleasant day that we had decided to spend hanging around the pool. That pretty much sums up the excitement for today. We are planning on going into San Diego tomorrow to see the USS Midway aircraft carrier, then hooking up with Maurice, who is going to drive us around the community of La Jolla.

Saturday  November 3

Me Tarzan, You Jane

We drove into the pretty little town of Ramona this morning and had breakfast at the “Kitchen Cafe”, which is a local favourite, judging by the number of locals eating there. Interestingly, right next door is a beauty salon, which, in addition into making you beautiful, will also sell you a stun gun and pepper spray to fend off the resulting male advances. We checked in with a local RV service centre regarding a problem we have been having with trying to turn  the passenger seat around. We are taking it in first thing Monday morning for them to have a look at it. We then drove to the San Diego Zoo Safari, which is part of the San Diego Zoo, but is not in San Diego itself. It is a non-profit entity, which was founded to study and breed endangered animals, primarily from Africa, with an emphasis on research and re-introduction into the wild. It is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and has had tremendous success in its breeding programs. It occupies several thousand acres, and has developed a number of African habitats, ranging from jungle to desert, which focus on enabling its inhabitants to develop natural habits of behaviour, which in turn ahve enabled them to be re-introduced into the wild with a high rate of success. We took two different types of tours, as well as doing a lot of walking. It is not cheap, but well worth every penny, especially considering that all income goes to support the park’s efforts. Here are a few pictures:

Trivia: anyone know what a flock of flamingos is called? (Answer at the end of this post)

A cerval cat

Poomba..Poomba?

Gentle giants

Here kitty kitty

Tough day at the office

Cheetah run: 100 metres in 5.9 seconds!

We returned to the campsite after sunset. Tomoorow we will probably go to Julian, an old mining town very near here, which is now famous for its pies. We plan to spend the rest of the day relaxing, and are planning to visit the San Diego Zoo itself on Tuesday.

Trivia answer: a “flamboyance” of flamingos.

Friday  November 2

Ducks Unlimited

We left Desert Pools campsite at about 10:30 this morning, and drove into the San Jacinto mountains on the way to Ramona. The views were outstanding:

Coachella Valley, Palm Springs, Palm Desert

After a scenic but twisty drive, we arrived in Ramona Canyon campground at about 2:00. We are in a lovely campsite overlooking a duckpond (euphemistically labelled “Lake Nicholas” on the campground map).

Ramona campsite

We went on an explore, ending up at the Clubhouse, where we met and had a lengthy conversation with an older gentleman named Maurice, who has a home in San Diego, but is on the road for a year with his wife. We have set tentative plans to go into San Diego in the morning, tour the U.S.S. Midway aircraft carrier, then meet up with him in the afternoon. He will take us up a mountain (actually, a large hill) overlooking La Jolla, which apparently provides a spectacular view. He also wants to get together to play cards and socialize a bit, which we are quite happy to do. We came back to our campsite and fed the ducks:

Jeannine’s new choir

“Now, one at a time…”

There are also several dozen mallards, but they seem to be intimidated by the bigger white domestic ducks, so they didn’t get much of the bounty. We are thinking of heading for the Wildlife park tomorrow, which comprises several thousand acres.

Thursday November 1

Watching the Prostate Parade, A Larger Than Life Marilyn and Palm Springs Night Life

We did not take the Palm Springs Tour as planned, since the schedule we had was not the right one, and the tour we had planned on taking had already left. Things have a way of working out, as we wound up seeing something a little less mundane than dead movie stars’ summer homes.

When we arrived in Palm Springs (which is a beautiful place; lots of really neat stores and lots of money in evidence) and parked, the first thing we came across was a 26 foot high, beautifully done statue of Marilyn Monroe, which was brought here from Chicago some years ago:

Marilyn, in the famous pose from “The Seven Year Itch”

Another view

After visiting a few stores, we grabbed a quick lunch and headed for the Plaza Theatre, a Spanish Revival theatre opened in 1936:

Outside of the Plaza Theatre

Inside of the Plaza Theatre

We had reserved tickets for the season-opening matinee show of “The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies”,  the cast of which range in age from 52 to 84, and features music, dance and auxiliary acts (such as a world champion hula hoop “artiste”, and a set of songs done by Lorna Lufts (Judy Garland’s not-so-famous other daughter), all done in the classic Las Vegas style; huge elaborate costumes and big production values, all under the capable direction of “The Follies Man”. Well, my dears, how to describe the indescribable?

When it was good, it was very very good, and when it was bad it was hilarious. Don’t get me wrong; we applaud these folks for putting on a strenuous and quite entertaining show given their ages (keeping in mind that most of the cast have been in showbiz all their lives, dancing and singing with some of the biggest stars of the 1930’s and 40’s). “The Follies Man” was full of the standard patter, and wended his way into the  front row of the audience to trade barbs with unarmed seniors. While much of his humour was poking fun at his Jewish background, and was quite funny at times, we were a bit worried when he found a gay German tourist to skewer, and referred to him as a gay Nazi not once, but twice. Anyway, you get the idea. It was a 2 1/2 hour show, but we were just as entertained by the audience as by the show itself. Picture a theatre audience with an average age of 88; now picture a constant parade of wheelchairs and prostate challenged males coming and going throughout the show. Lest we seem cruel, we are choosing to laugh at it now, because that will be us in 20 years. The good news is that Jeannine has been motivated to stay in show business, and has sworn to take up a training regimen for when we move here and there are holes to fill in the Follies cast, sinced many of them will have tap-danced their way to the Great Beyond by then. Just for fun, here is a list of the Medical Support Staff, according to the program:

Cardiology, Dentistry, Ear, Nose and Throat, Emergency and Preventive Medicine, Gastroenterology, Gyncology, Internal Mdicine, Orthopedic Surgery, Otolaryngology, Pathology(?!) and Podiatry. (This seems to be where a large percentage of the State’s healthcare budget goes).

After the show, we wandered across the street to a Mexican restaurant’s Happy Hour:

Palm Springs Happy Hour

By sheer serendipity, Thursday night is Street Fair night in Palm Springs. About 4 blocks of Palm Canyon Avenue is blocked off and lined with vendors, artists, food stalls and the like.

Palm Springs Street Fair

We took it all in, then said goodbye to Lucille Ball before heading back to the campsite.

Bronze of Lucille Ball

We are headed to Ramona tomorrow for a few nights, which will serve as a base for exploring San Diego and the surrounding area.