April 2015 Means it’s Time to Visit the Kids Again!

Make Time for Grandpa!

2015-4-23, Thursday, Day 1. Home to Bakersfield Walmart via SR99: 220 miles

As with almost every April since way back when Connor was a toddler, I made my way south to visit my son and his family. It is important to me that I stay connected to the boyz and that they know their Grandpa. I also enjoy time with my son, Dean, and his wife, Melissa. It’s always nice to visit the whole family. I told my dear Wifey good-bye with a hug and a kiss, knowing I’d miss her and also knowing she’s willing to share me with the coach now and then. The trips through LALA Land are not her idea of a good time, and I don’t blame her for passing on them. 

2015-4-23a Gasup at Ripon tippedI stopped at the Flying J Plaza near home to gas up. Gas was just $2.27 back in February and back up to $2.77 this trip. Still, that beats $4 gas and I can’t complain too loudly. But give me time… (It’s time! I gassed up again on my return home, just three days later, and the price spiked from $2.77 to $3.06! Yeah, Ok… I’m complaining loudly now!)

As usual, I planned to visit my cousins, Murle Jean and Genene, during the drive south. We met at a Marie Callender’s in Fresno for lunch. We go way back to the 40s when they were kids and I was a baby. That’s 70 years ago!

2015-4-23da poor selfie with M and GA poor selfie of me, Murle Jean, and Genene as we bid our good-byes.

We talked of our aches and pains, the aches and pains of loved ones, and remembered loved ones passed – pretty much the usual conversation of old folks like us. It’s good to stay connected and we thoroughly enjoy the visits.

I continued south to Bakersfield, and to be sure I wouldn’t have to buy gas in the craziness of LALA Land or Oceanside, I topped off the gas tank at the Flying J north of town. I then continued to the south side of Bakersfield on SR99 and pulled in to the Walmart off Panama Lane a bit before 1700. I’ve never stayed at the Panama store before, but I don’t know why. It’s close to the freeway and seemed to be a pretty quiet place to “camp”. I dropped the jacks and was home for the night.

2015-4-23b highest tax, worst roads is KalifornistanI get livid when I have to drive over such rotten roads (above and below photos taken along SR99) here in Kalifornistan – especially after paying the highest gas tax in the whole country!

2015-4-23c highest tax, worst roads is Kalifornistan

I spent time on the computer, zapped a frozen meal for dinner, showered, and settled in for the night. It was a warm afternoon, and about 84° in the coach. I didn’t need the air conditioner, however, as the screen door and an open window let in a fresh evening breeze. It clouded over at dusk and I hoped for the chance of a thunderstorm to bring some rain.

I watched more of the Johnny Carson DVDs and had a lot of good belly laughs. He was a very funny man and brought out the best in his many guests. I seldom watched him when he was on TV but I seem to make up for it with the collection of DVDs.

2015-4-23k rain predicted, and evening looked promisingJacks down at Bakersfield’s Panama Ave. Walmart for the night. I hoped the clouds would bring a thunderstorm which was predicted as a possibility that evening. They didn’t.

I hit the sack around 2200 and slept very well. The place was quiet and well protected by Walmart’s many cameras that capture everything that moves on their busy parking lots.
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Friday, Day 2. Bakersfield to Dean’s via SR99, I-5: 220 miles

I was up around 0530 to turn on the hot water heater and climbed back into bed ‘til the water warmed. I was happy to be on my trip to visit my son and his family, but was not looking forward to the drive through LALA Land. It is the worst drive I know and I’ve driven all over the country. As a truck driver back in the 70s I had to drive big rigs through LALA Land. I hated the awful traffic way back then. Nothing has changed except that I no longer pull two trailers loaded with lumber behind me.

I got through the morning chores, and then took a walk which included a stroll through the store. I noticed that they had a uniformed guard at each of the three entrances plus one patrolling the parking lot. I chatted with a couple of them and learned that in addition there were two plainclothes guards inside the store to thwart the shop lifters. I also was told that the store closes from midnight to 0600 each night which seemed unusual for such a large Walmart. I figured that the crime rate must be so bad that it wasn’t worth being open overnight. I have never stayed at such a well guarded Walmart in the past.

In spite of the apparent bad neighborhood I was in, the city busses which stopped at Walmart regularly proudly advertised Bakersfield: Life as it should be! I had my doubts.

After my walk I dug out the small ladder and wash bucket from below and washed the very dirty windshields. Then I whipped up a quick breakfast by zapping a frozen breakfast sandwich, and cut up half an orange.

2015-4-24a Tejon PassTopping Tejon Summit in the Tehachapi Mountains at a bit over 4,000 Ft.

I cast off for the horror drive through LALA Land about 0815. As I drove through the Tehachapis I called my son to see which route would be best. I prefer to take the desert route of SR58 east of Bakersfield and down I-15 through San Bernardino, etc., when the wind isn’t blowing. But the desert forecast predicted a lot of wind. The alternative I had been taking in the recent past was I-405, but it had been a traffic nightmare more often than not. He advised that I-5 had improved as some big construction projects were completed and would likely be the better drive. I took his advice and found I-5 to be, well… tolerable. I had a couple of brief slowdowns but otherwise made good time.

2015-4-24c LALA Land trafficThe crazy traffic through LALA Land. Again… why would anyone subject themselves to this every day?! I guess I’ll never know.

The day’s forecast was for possible rain, but I kept dry ‘til the Orange County line and then got rained on quite heavily for about a half hour. I drove into rain again as I entered Oceanside and up SR76 to the kids’ place. The day remained cloudy but the rain didn’t last long.

2015-4-24d Beach along I-5The Pacific Ocean view from I-5 as I approached the Oceanside area.

2015-4-24e I made it.I made it! This is the kids’ home with Dean’s new Audi Quattro in the driveway. That nice home and fine car, not to mention his trophy wife and wonderful kids, made his dear ol’ Dad proud!

I arrived at the kids’ place at noon. Dean was doing his work-from-home thing, as was Melissa, so I waited in the coach for Dean. After a few minutes he came out and joined me in the coach. I had mixed myself a Tom Collins to sooth the road weariness, and after I downed it we headed for lunch.

We drove down to the Oceanside Broiler restaurant overlooking the harbor we have often enjoyed in the past. The place was under new ownership in the past year or so, and along with the remodeling of the place came higher prices. Still, it is a fine place to have a very good lunch. I enjoyed lettuce wraps and a bowl of clam chowder. Dean ordered a tuna melt and we split a side of coconut shrimp. Mmmmmm. We shared a crème brulee for dessert that was delicious.

2015-4-24f my space occupied.Somebody was in my space!

After lunch we returned to the kids’ place and I boarded the coach to drive over to Guajome Park and settle in for a couple of nights. As I entered, one of the park employees advised me that the occupant of my space, which was to be vacated by 1300, hadn’t yet moved out. She drove to the space as I followed and sure enough – it was occupied! What a big disappointment after the long drive from Bakersfield! 

I was very unhappy that the park let them sit so long because they should have been right on them at the 1300 check out time and it was after 1400 that I arrived. To make a long story short, I drove back to Dean’s in the coach. The park called a couple of hours later to let me know that the coach was towed out of the park and I could finally take my space.

I was relieved to finally drop the jacks, power out the slide and settle in for a couple of days. The park employee who handled the RVers who hadn’t moved out as agreed dropped by and offered a two nights for one deal for my next visit to compensate for the delay. I thought that was mighty nice of them, and I gratefully accepted.

Dean and Aidan dropped by around 1700 for a half hour visit on their way to the beach where Melissa was with Connor and his soccer game. Melissa would then take Aidan home as Dean stayed with Connor to finish the soccer game. After soccer Dean would drive Connor to a flag football game at another locale and spend the evening there. Or it was something like that! I can’t begin to keep up with those kids and their endless schedule of games, practices, etc., etc. But dad and mom seem to love the seemingly impossible schedules they keep and the kids are kept busy. I’m not complaining since I don’t have to try to keep up with them!

2015-4-24h Connor at home ready for soccerConnor at home with a soccer game on his mind. It’s good to see the Gillespie good looks have carried forward to the grandsons!

I was happy to spend the evening in the coach as I didn’t want to be out at a late afternoon game, maybe in the rain, after the long drive of the day.

After Dean and Aidan left, I zapped another frozen meal, peeled a banana and called it dinner. I spent way too much time during the afternoon and evening writing this travelogue and editing photos, but such stuff keeps me busy and I do enjoy it.

I spent the evening as usual, watching more of the Johnny Carson DVDs and enjoying a couple Tom Collins. I hit the sack at 2230 and slept very well.
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Saturday, Day 3. Jacks down at Guajome Park in Oceanside.

I was up around 0630 and took my sweet time through the chores and morning routine. Dean would be calling around 0900 and all I had to do was wait. I whipped up a breakfast of creamed corn and half an orange. Yep, I brought along a can of corn and it just sounded good for breakfast.

I worked on the travelogue and took a couple of the obligatory photos I take every time I visit Guajome Park. 2015-4-25a morning in the coachI’m always happy to spend a few days or a few weeks aboard the coach, living in comfort, peace and quiet. Life aboard the coach is good.

2015-4-25b obligatoryThe obligatory photo of me and the coach at Guajome. It’s a great RV park as long as I get space #33 which is pretty much by itself, quiet and lovely. I have to reserve it months in advance and it’s worth it!

Dean called about 0900 as usual, and we agreed he’d pick me up about 0930 to take me along to Aidan’s soccer game nearby. The morning was cloudy, cool and it rained a bit. It seemed the rain was done so I wanted to go watch Aidan play soccer.

When I got into the new Audi for the ride to the soccer fields, I was surprised to see the whole family along. Melissa, Connor, and Aidan were in the back seat, leaving the front for ol’ Grandpa. How sweet. How respectful. I felt special.

The game went very well as Aidan played goalie and stopped the opposing team’s only kick into the goal by literally falling onto the ball for the save. His team won the game 1-0 and we all celebrated the victory.

2015-4-25c Grandpa at the gameGrandpa tried to make sense of the soccer game while holding what must be a soccer ball. I had a good time, and hoped the rain wouldn’t resume. It didn’t.

2015-4-25e Goalie is a lonely jobAidan played goalie which is a very lonely job. I suggested he bring along a chair and portable TV. Either nobody is at his goal or everyone is; there seemed to be no middle ground.2015-4-25f Good game from Mom and Dad Aidan saved the only goal opponents got to the goalAidan got a lot of attaboys from mom (L) and dad after the game which he saved 1-0.

2015-4-25d Good grief. That's MY kid with all the grey hair.

My little boy – and when did he grow old enough for all that grey hair?! He said he’s earned every one.

Dean and I dropped the family off at the house and then headed to Chin’s Chinese Restaurant for a pig-out Chinese meal. The meal was, as usual, delicious with a side of too much. Way too much. Other than a couple of brownie’s forced upon me back at the house by Melissa, that was it for the day. I over did it again. But that has become the tradition on these visits.

2015-4-25g Aidan at home with ubiquitous i-thingy

A happy and relaxed Aidan at home with one of the family’s many i-thingies after the big soccer game. Sally, of course, was underfoot as is her calling in life.

IMG_7732Moments like this with family make the long drive, including LALA Land’s awful traffic, more than worth the effort.

We returned home after the pig-0ut and spent the rest of the day there. I napped awhile in the living room, much as I do at home. The nap was ended by a short lived soccer game that broke out in the living room between Connor and Aidan. The ref, often referred to as Dad, soon broke up the home game and made it an away game; away from Grandpa and it resumed at once in the backyard.

We watched TV some of the time, including two hours of UFC fights that were broadcast live. I had them set to record at home, but since the kids put up with me watching it live, I’ll likely watch them twice. Dean and the kids seem to watch every type of game that utilizes a ball, but MMA fights are not their thing. Dean enjoyed the fights somewhat, but likely would not have watched had I not wanted to see them. I’ve always wondered why some guys are nuts about ball games, but since MMA has become mainstream, I understand the ball game passion; I’m that way about MMA.

We had the aforementioned brownies during the afternoon, and Melissa made hot dogs for the kids. I just couldn’t force another meal down and neither could Dean, so we didn’t even bother with dinner. A bit after 1900 I bid the family farewell ’til my July visit and Dean drove me to the coach for the night.

Back at the coach I worked a bit on this travelogue, showered, watched some more Johnny Carson silliness, and was in bed by 2130. I had a long drive awaiting  me early the next morning.
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Sunday, Day 4. Guajome Park, Oceanside to home via I-5, SR99: 405 miles

I was up and at ’em at 0415. I hustled through the morning chores which included boiling up some instant coffee for my travel mug. I unhooked from the park’s electricity, brought in the slide, and raised the jacks. I pulled out of my lovely space at 0440. I had over 400 miles ahead of me.

2015-4-26a Border Inspection a few miles north of OceansideA few miles north of Oceanside the Border Patrol station was open for business. As usual, they waved me through. A few miles before this there was a fatal accident on the southbound side that had those lanes closed.

2015-4-26b streaking through LALA Land early Sunday morning and it's wide openStreaking through LALA Land early Sunday morning was a breeze.

2015-4-26c Artsy Fartsy center divider along TehachapisNote the artsy-fartsy highway divider in the foreground; Kalifornistan can afford this absolutely unnecessary artwork but can’t afford to fix the broken roadways. Truly, this is an amazing place to live.

2015-4-26d dropping down five mile into the valley belowDropping down Five Mile from the Tehachapis into the Big Valley I am forced to call home. I still had over two hundred miles of driving to reach home, and all those miles covered just part of the huge valley.

Other than driving by the accident, the drive was unremarkable in every way. I stopped at Frazier Park to add 20 gallons of gas. While there I zapped another frozen breakfast sandwich and cut up a half orange for breakfast. I stopped briefly a couple of  other times along the way home, and pulled up to the house at 1300. That was mighty good travelin’ time for an old man who cruises at 58 MPH.

I greeted Wifey with a big hug and a kiss. It was great to be back home. I unloaded the coach and parked it in the community’s RV lot. I would dump the tanks and wash off the bug collection the next day. I was pooped.

It’s always good to visit the family and watch the kids grow. I thought Connor might reach my height this trip, but he’s not quite there yet. I already had reservations for my favorite space at Guajome park for my July and October visits, and I reckon I’ll  be looking up to him by one of those visits! Life is good.

About FishWisher

Over the years I have posted many exciting fishing and boating stories here, but now in my seventies, it was time to sell the boat and find less demanding pastimes. All the fishing stories are still here! I will now post my travels aboard the motorhome and other activities. I hope y'all will still enjoy the fishing and boating adventures and perhaps peek in on my post-boating activities on occasion. Thanks for dropping in and I hope you enjoy your visit.
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