Another Trek to Dean’s in Oceanside, CA
Day 1, Thursday, July 19, 2012 Home to Frazier Park via SR99 and I-5: 260 miles
Having missed my April trip to my son Dean and family in April, I was looking forward more than usual to this trip south. It had been six months since my last visit.
We pose at the coach after a very nice visit with my dear cousins Murle Jean (C) and Genene (R) in Fresno.
A few days before this trip, I called and made arrangements to visit my cousins, Murle Jean and Genene, in Fresno on the first day as I headed for Frazier Park. We met at an IHOP Restaurant for a very pleasant visit and lunch. Both cousins are sisters I grew up with and we go back a lifetime.
The trip south on that July day was under cloudy skies and included a brief smattering of rain drops on the windshield. That’s mighty unusual in the hot valley, but made for a cooler travel day. I gassed up at Ripon’s Flying J station after leaving, then headed south a bit before 1100. Traffic was normal except for one construction area where three lanes backed up to form two lanes, but the delay wasn’t bad.
Jacks down for the night at Frazier Park’s Flying J Travel Plaza. It’s fun to travel on the cheap!
I arrived at Frazier Park’s Flying J at 1800 and gassed up again. After filling up there, I can drive to Dean’s and all the way home without having to gas up again. It’s good to have a 75 gallon gas tank, but it’s not so pleasant to pay for all that gas!
After gassing up I settled in for the night at the Flying J parking lot. I fired up the little generator, turned on the satellite TV to Fox News, and settled back to rest a bit. After a couple of good and refreshing Tom Collins cocktails, I hopped into the shower. After nine years and almost 100,000 miles, I am still amazed at the wonderful conveniences of this motor home. I still think a motor home is one of man’s greatest inventions!
After dinner in the coach, I headed to bed about 2200 for a pretty good night’s sleep. Other than some darn leg cramps, I slept well.
Day 2, Friday, July 20 Frazier Park to Dean’s via I-5: 154 miles
I took my time getting around the morning of Day 2 as I didn’t care to hit the road before 0900. Any earlier and it seems I just run into worse traffic through LALA Land. I watched Fox News and learned of the senseless “Movie Massacre” at the theatre in Aurora, Colorado, and it was about all the news they were covering. I made coffee, a small breakfast, then prepared for the drive through LALA Land that I so detest. And from the time I left Frazier Park, my day seemed to just fall apart.
As I was driving through the Castaic area in the outskirts of LALA Land, a terrible explosion shook the coach, then banged and banged ‘til I got over to the shoulder of the freeway. I checked the back of the coach for a blow out, and sure enough, the driver side inside dual was destroyed. Also, the hose used to dump the holding tanks was dangling below the coach, and water was dripping out everywhere. I opened the plumbing box door, and noticed the tire blow out and the subsequent banging of the tread against the body destroyed the grey water valve and all the plumbing up to the black water valve. Fortunately that valve was intact; had it been destroyed, the black tank, the sewer, would have dumped along with the grey water which is the shower and sink water.
I happened to be just past a turn off, so I backed to the off ramp, and took it to a safe area off the highway. I walked across the ramp to a gas station and learned that a tire shop was just a quarter mile away. I limped into the shop, and timed it perfectly. I was about the only customer there. Two good tire men got right to work on my coach, removing the blown tire and installing my spare. When the inside tire blows, it is a big job removing both tires to mount the spare. They had me up and running in just half an hour, and I was back on the road. The cost was an unbelievable $20. I was pleasantly surprised. I gave the two fellas a $10 tip for being so quick to get me back on the road. I lost a total of about 50 minutes with the flat tire.
The culprit. Purchased in March, 2005 at 22,000 miles it had about 77,000 miles on it. It is an Ohtsu brand tire I purchased from Les Schwab Tires. It still had pretty good tread. I don’t blame the tire; I blame the rotten roads of Kalifornistan!
But the tire repair didn’t address the problems the blow out created. My grey water tank emptied and the valve was gone. I could not use the shower and could only use the sinks very little as the water would just run out. The black tank was just fine, so at least I had a working toilet. I would have to address the grey tank problem once I got to Dean’s home.
But the tire repair wasn’t the end of my problems. After driving through the worst of LALA Land, and just beginning the newer, wider freeways of Orange County, I could finally pull over on the wider shoulder to safely use the bathroom in the coach. One of the many benefits of traveling via motorhome is the fact that one’s private bathroom is right there in the coach. It’s a great convenience. Suddenly there was a loud banging on my door, and a CHP officer was standing outside to put a stop to my crime wave. I walked out and asked what the problem was. He asked why I was on the side of the road, and stupid me, I told him. Had I told him I had pulled over to check my tires I’m sure I’d have been sent on my way. But no, pulling over for a “non-emergency” reason is a crime! I guess it depends on who’s bladder is calling defines “emergency”.
Here’s the badge-heavy thug who had nothing better to do than hassle an old man who pulled over, safely, to pee inside his own coach.
As I wrote in my “written declaration” to the trial judge, “emergency stop” is best defined by him whose bladder is calling. I beat this foolishness with a letter to the court. The cost if I had lost? A $248 moving violation. What an assault on logic! At a dead stop, how could it be a moving violation?! I had to send in the $248 with my explanation and the judge, a bit more logical than this jerk, ordered it returned to me. Such nonsense is 100% about revenue for the broken, third world State of Kalifornistan and zero about safety. Check out the wide area I chose to stop in, and it is considered safe enough to install a call box.
He took my license, registration and proof of insurance back to his car and wrote me a ticket. (UPDATE: October 17 – the ticket was dismissed by a judge who, thankfully, has a sense of justice. The badge-heavy thug who wrote this foolish ticket wasted his time, my time, the court’s time and the CHP’s time. If he writes enough of these stupid citations he may wind up working back at the carwash. I hope so!)
Ahhhh, the pleasure of driving through LALA Land. How is possible that people actually choose to live in this chaos?!
After all the trouble of my lousy trip through LALA Land, I finally arrived at Dean’s at 1330. I was able to assess the mess that was my discharge plumbing, and Dean and I drove to Home Depot and found a perfect fix. It was a plug that fit the exit port of the grey tank perfectly, and by turning a knob, it tightened to fit the hole and create a very stable plug. The grey tank could then be used and did not leak a drop the rest of the trip. I noted that the black water valve was leaking a small amount; about a drip per second. That was a bad situation and had to be fixed. I could not stop the leak, so I tied a plastic trash bag around it to catch the drips. I had to dump the bag into the public toilet in the Guajome Park bathrooms nearby. The bags would accumulate about 1-2 pints over several hours, so I dumped and changed bags several times during my stay. I controlled the odor by pouring a few ounces of holding tank deodorizer into the bag before tying it to the valve. This system made the best of a bad situation ‘til I got home and could dump the tanks. I was able to use the shower, sinks and toilet as usual, but the dumping would be problematic at home without that plumbing.
The destroyed valve box (after cleanup back home) behind the tire that separated. The grey water valve was gone entirely. It was a slow and deliberate process to dump that black water tank safely.
The damage included the entire valve assembly except the black water valve, the fiberglass box that enclosed the valves and plumbing, and some metal structure near the wheel well. It was a mess. And also I would have to buy two new tires. The blowout had created the need for some very expensive repairs.
Dean and I drove down to the beautiful Oceanside harbor and had lunch on a patio with a great view. Dean ordered his favorite beer, and I enjoyed a couple of refreshing Margaritas. And the coconut shrimp! We enjoyed great lunches and had a wonderful visit. It’s the highlight of my visits to have my boy across the table from me and enjoy spending an hour or two with him. We really do have a grand time.
View from our table at the restaurant overlooking Oceanside Harbor.
After lunch I spent an hour or so at the house with Melissa, Dean and the boys. But I was pooped; it had been a very stressful day. Dean drove me back to the motorhome about 1900, and I took a much needed shower and relaxed in front of the TV ‘til I headed for bed about 2200. I was glad to have this very trying day behind me!
Day 3, Saturday, July 21: Jacks down at Guajome Park and a day with the family.
Jacks down at the lovely Guajome Park in Oceanside, and I was able to relax after the misery and misfortune of the day’s drive.
I had a restful night and slept ‘til almost 0700 which is really sleeping in for me. I must have needed it. I’m sure the Tom Collins’ from the night before didn’t hurt my sleep any!
As usual, I had several hours to myself, and was able to update this travelogue and edit photos of this trip and made a small breakfast. Dean picked me up around 1000 and we headed to the house to just hang out with the kids and dogs for a while.
Monster dog #1, the loving and always tolerant Sally. She’s a real sweetheart.
Two monster dogs, a loving Golden Lab and a Great Pyrenees are a part of the Gillespie family. They are both around 90 pounds and love to greet all comers. I have a tough time with them mobbing me when I first enter the house, but after a while they settle down and pretty much leave me alone.
Monster #2. I can’t even remember this dog’s name. Sorry, son. She’s a Great Pyrenees and she is gorgeous. But she is sill a DUMB puppy!
We headed to our favorite Chinese restaurant, Chin’s in Oceanside, around 1130 for a great Chinese lunch. We dawdled there for well over an hour enjoying their wonderful pu-pu platter, followed by lunch combination plates. It was surely great food – but too much of it, as usual. After lunch Dean dropped me off at the coach and I spent some time alone for a couple of hours, and even took in a nap.
Around 1600 Dean picked me up again and we headed back to the house for the afternoon. We enjoyed the afternoon together, and had a fine chicken dinner. Dean fixed me a wonderful Margarita, and we watched some UFC on TV. Well… mostly I watched. About 1915 Dean drove me back to the coach for the night as I always want an early start for home the next morning.
Dean, Connor and Aidan with the hounds in the living room. The big ol’ dogs and the kids seem to get along great.
Dean, Melissa, Aidan and Connor. Dean fixes drinks as Melissa prepares dinner; it’s good to be part of such a fine, traditional family!
Dinner is served: Grilled chicken from the patio, corn on the cob and salad. Life is good in Oceanside! I note in this photo that m’boy is almost as good looking as me. I guess that explains his ability to attract a trophy wife – and their good looking kids, too!
At the coach I showered, imbibed a couple of Tom Collins’ and relaxed a bit. I always need some relaxing after a day with the kids and the dogs. They’re great to be around; don’t get me wrong. But this old man is way too high strung for much noise and activity. I appreciate peace and quiet more than anything and that doesn’t exist around kids and dogs.
Day 4, Sunday, July 24: Guajome Park in Oceanside to home via I-5, I-405, I-110, SR99: 415 miles
I was up and at ‘em about 0415 that Sunday morning, eager to do the necessary morning chores and hit the road. I dumped the plastic bag from around the leaky valve after marching back up to the public bathroom to do so for the fourth time. I assembled a double trash bag for the trip home, and tied it around the troublesome valve. It held up just fine all the way home.
I pulled out of Guajome Park at 0500, hoping the valve would get no worse and that my luck would hold – I had no spare tire for the 400+ miles home. Getting a flat with no spare on a Sunday is a sure sentence to be holed up somewhere overnight, awaiting the tire shops to open on Monday. I kept my speed at 58 MPH the whole way home, and slowed to 55 the last few miles when the weather was warm and the roads were hot.
While Streaking through LALA Land early Sunday morning I learned that an accident had shut down I-405, so I had to detour onto I-110 across to I-5. That included downtown LA and this incredible interchange near the heart of LA. Lucky for me, my path through it all was a straight line and I was too early for much traffic. What an engineering marvel! What a nightmare!
A view of downtown LA as I streaked through on I-110 early Sunday morning. I can’t imagine folks commuting to this bee hive every week day while being mobbed by thousands of other poor souls!
I stopped once for a couple of $1 Menu breakfast burritos at MickeyD’s somewhere north of Bakersfield, but otherwise kept rolling for home. I drank almost a quart of coffee during the drive, and of course I had to stop a few times for those outlaw 10-100s (trucker lingo for bathroom stops). Nope, I haven’t learned my lesson and now am smart enough to tell some bored CHP officer that I had stopped to check my tires. You bet-cha!
I pulled up to our home at 1315 and was mighty relieved that the tires all stayed together and that the lack of a spare tire did not ruin another day. It took a bit over an hour to unload my belongings and park the coach. I would deal with dumping the tanks without the proper plumbing the next morning. Before my next RV trip I’ll need to buy two new tires and get that blow-out damage repaired.
Still… after the frustrations and stress of this trip, I still think that a motorhome is among man’s greatest inventions and I love traveling aboard mine!
The coach back home with my other toys after dumping and cleaning those holding tanks and assessing repairs for the busted box and plumbing. Soon the repairs will be done, new tires will be installed and I’ll be planning another grand RV adventure. Life is good!
(Update: I sold the Rexhall to a friend of mine who can fix anything. I received a check from my insurance company for the extensive damage, then sold it to my friend for a very low price. He fixed it up nicely, including both the grey and black tanks which, as it turned out, were both damaged. I then purchased a 2006 Itasca. I put almost 100,000 miles on the Rexhall, and my friend is now using it as he completely repaired it.)