Day 1, Thursday, April 28, 2016, Home to Flying J near Bakersfield via SR99: 206 miles
Three months, and more, have gone by since my last drive to Oceanside to see my son Dean and his family. This is a quarterly pilgrimage that keeps us all in touch although we’re over 400 miles apart.Loading groceries for the trip to Dean’s to see the family!
This trip would be the first to Dean’s aboard Cecil the Diesel, and I wanted to make a good impression. Cecil has had many small problems that it seems I’ve been working on ever since I got her. I suppose that’s because I have been! She’s a great coach with low miles at just 31,000 when I bought her, and she’s mostly near new inside and out. But the fella I bought her from, I suspect, wasn’t much on fixing little things. So while she’s in great shape, a lot of little things went unrepaired and now I’m fixing ’em. But it keeps me out of the recliner and I do enjoy tinkering.
Diesel for just $2.10 in Turlock, near home, at a small gas/convenience stop! They were almost giving it away and it was well worth going out of my way. I filled up!
What a great ride Cecil is! She rides on air bags and that makes a huge difference while banging along the neglected highways of Kalifornistan. Hitting the rough spots is still pretty noisy, after all, the coach is loaded with all the things we keep in our homes, but the ride is greatly improved and so much smoother. And the economy! As I wrote this, diesel was less money than gas, and that’s always nice when you drive a diesel. And instead of 7.5 MPG I believe I’m getting around 11 MPG. That is a huge improvement! And I found a gas station in Turlock that was selling diesel for $2.10 while Flying J’s price was $2.56. I stopped in Turlock and fueled up for sure! With the big 90 gallon tank it’s worth looking for the best price.
I stopped in Fresno to meet my cousin Murle Jean for lunch and enjoyed a very warm and friendly visit. We go waaaay back to when I was a baby.
The plan for the day was to stop in Fresno and have lunch with my dear cousin Murle Jean. We met at Marie Callender’s as usual, and spent a lovely hour and a half visiting over a delicious lunch. We were together as kids at times as we grew up, and while she’s 10 years older I have lots of good memories with her.
After lunch I continued south to the Flying J Plaza north of Bakersfield. I arrived at 1630 after a good day’s drive. I set about chasing down an infernal rattle at the front door, and hopefully I got it stopped. I also tightened the big mirrors that were a bit shaky when underway. These were but a couple of the small things I mentioned that I’ve dealt with on Cecil.
Doing my thing in the very comfortable new coach while parked at the Flying J Plaza near Bakersfield for the night. Cecil the Diesel is a very nice ride and a very cozy home on wheels.
I like a certain parking space that probably is for Jack in the Box, next door to Flying J as they seem to share the same parking lot. A car was in my spot and I figured it was an employee’s. I hoped that at 1800 he’d leave and I could grab it. 1800 came and went and the car didn’t move, so I took a shower and planned to check again afterwards. Also, I tried to start the big diesel generator and it didn’t want to run – it seemed flooded if diesels can be flooded. I figured I’d try again after my shower. Voila! When I stepped out of the shower, my space was empty and I drove right over to it! I also cranked the generator again and it started. Patience is a good thing, or so I’ve heard, and it seems that perhaps it may be. I should practice it more often!
Parked for the night in “my” space at Flying J near Bakersfield. What a gorgeous coach – if I do say so myself!
I zapped a frozen meal for dinner, then set about on this blog. I had a number of photos to review, and fewer to keep and edit. I spent over an hour blogging, then set up the TV and dug out the movie Fargo for the umpteeneth time. I consider it a classic and always enjoy it. I poured a couple of cool ones to enjoy with the movie, then sat back in the cozy couch. As seems to be my habit in my old age, I awoke sometime after 2300 and climbed into bed. It had been a long and pleasant day.
Day 2, Friday, Bakersfield to Dean’s in Oceanside via SR99, SR58, I-15: 283 miles
I slept very well there on Flying J’s, or perhaps Jack in the Box’s parking lot. It was quiet so far as I could tell with my white sound machine. I awoke about 0530 and set about getting the day underway. I had a long drive to Dean’s, even longer to avoid the ghastly LALA Land traffic. After the usual morning chores, making coffee and getting the coach ready for cruising, I pulled onto SR99 southbound around 0630 and headed to Dean’s in Oceanside via the Mojave Desert route.I again offer this same goat trail entrance to SR99 at Merced Ave. near Bakersfield as a tribute to Kalifornistan’s grand leadership. There is just no excuse…
It was a wonderful day to drive; it was partly overcast, cool and comfortable. I headed east on SR58 at Bakersfield and drove it clear to Barstow where I took I-15 south. Eastbound on SR58 on a beautiful morning.
I stopped at the rest area with the big boys near Boron on SR58 for breakfast. I zapped a breakfast croissant sandwich and cut up an orange. I needed to save room for a big lunch with m’boy.
The drive down I-15 was sometimes scenic and sometimes, in the populated areas, I dealt with heavier traffic, but it was a pleasure drive compared to what LALA Land would have been. I missed the exit for I-215 which would have been a few miles shorter, but my goof cost only about 10 more miles by staying on I-15.
I arrived at Dean’s place a few minutes before noon. I enjoyed time with my boy as I showed off our new Cecil the Diesel. He was properly impressed as I gave him the grand tour.
We drove down to the harbor for lunch at the Oceanside Broiler, the lovely restaurant that sits right on the harbor. I tried being a good sport by eating on the patio, but the cool breeze was just too cold for me. We moved indoors where I was just fine. We enjoyed a couple orders of big, deep fried shrimp while waiting for our lunches.
I had a huge hamburger and it was awesome! Dean ordered lettuce wraps. He was beginning a healthy diet and I hope he can stay with it. He didn’t even order his usual beer! He must have been pretty serious.
Me and m’ boy at lunch overlooking the harbor. The view was grand, but too bright to show in this photo.
Back at the house I boarded the coach and drove the two blocks to Guajome Park and settled in at my favorite space – that I have to reserve months in advance. Dean would visit after I set up the coach and took my grandpa nap.
The obligatory Guajome photo of the new coach and me set up at Guajome Park for a couple of days.
…and another obligatory photo of Dean and his hot rod Audi with dear ol’ Dad and Cecil the Diesel.
Back at home Melissa was at work upstairs at her public relations business that she runs from home, Connor was still at school and Aidan had a friend over. They also had a soccer game around 1730 that I was not up to attending after driving almost 300 miles. So Dean and I took a walk through some of Guajome Park and also visited in the coach. Sometime around 1700 he had to head back home for the soccer game. We said our goodnights and would meet the next morning.
Back in the coach I did a bit of housecleaning, made coffee and worked on this blog. Later I showered, watched the rest of Fargo, then began watching another Coen movie, Barton Fink. I enjoyed a couple cool ones, then fell asleep on the couch, as usual. I hit the sack around 2230 and slept very well.
Day 3, Saturday, Jacks down at Guajome Park
I was up and about a bit before 0600 and I had plans for the morning before Dean would call and we’d spend the rest of the day together. After the usual chores and perusing my favorite online sites, I began cleaning house. First I washed the dirty windshields so I could see my way home the next day. The housekeeper at work. I had the place spotless!
After the windows I vacuumed the whole coach including the little bit of tile floor. I then grabbed the bucket from below and sponge washed the floors. I was on a roll! I had cleaned the toilet and sinks the day before and dusted the place on Monday before the trip, so after the floors were done I declared the place clean! We’d head to Colorado in a few weeks to see the kids there, and the housekeeping was done and ready to go!
Dean picked me up around 0930 and we took a walk together around Guajome Park again. It is a beautiful place to walk and enjoy nature. We then headed over to the house for a quick hello to the kids and Melissa. A bit before 1100 Dean and I headed to lunch at a favorite Vietnamese restaurant. I tried a soup with noodles and chicken and some kind of egg roll that was very good. I added white rice to the soup and probably didn’t need to; the bowl was the size of a Jacuzzi and must have had a pound of noodles along with the chicken and other veggies. My goodness, I was stuffed. Dean ordered a curry chicken soup and it, too, was very good.
The Gillespie men pose after a day’s visit before ol’ Grandpa heads back to the coach and on home in the morning.
Back home we settled down for the day in the living room. I watched TV with Dean and the kids pretty much did their own things. Connor’s cute little girl friend was with him all day, watching TV in the garage which is more like a sports bar than a place for cars. Aidan spent most of his time in his room as he likes to do. He and Melissa took a bike ride for awhile during the day. The two cats and two humongous dogs kept us company in the living room. They have a real lively home with all the kids, dogs and cats. And they all seem very happy and well adjusted.
About 1730 I asked Dean to take me home as I wanted to go to bed about 2100 so I could get an early start for home the next morning. I like to hit the road at 0500 to streak through LALA Land with little traffic.
Back at the coach I settled in for the night. After a very small frozen dinner, I showered, then updated this blog. I poured a couple of cool ones, then watched the rest of the Barton Fink movie. I was in bed by 2100 so that I could get seven hours of sleep and arise at 0400 for the trip home.
Day 4, Sunday, May 1, Oceanside to Home via I-5, SR99: 416 miles
I was up a minute before 0400 after a good night’s sleep. I hustled through the morning chores, converted my cozy home into a highway cruiser, and pulled out of the park at 0445.
The dark hour or so of the morning’s drive made for a nice surprise as I saw my “big rig” style dash board lit up for the first time – and it was a memorable sight for this old truck driver. I was reminded of the long nights I’ve spent behind the wheel of big rigs many years ago and it was a pleasant recollection.
The very business-like “big rig” style dashboard of the new diesel coach.
Streaking through the downtown area of Los Angeles on an early Sunday morning with little traffic. 60-some years ago, back in the 50’s, my mom would drive my sis and I down this very same 7th Street off ramp and to a downtown rescue mission where we held services one Saturday morning each month. Those poor, homeless guys would have to endure an hour of my sis’ accordion, my trumpet and my mom’s preaching to earn a hot meal – served only after the preachin’. It was a hard earned meal!
And more than memories, the day was a marvelous revelation of what a great highway cruiser my new Cecil the Diesel is. The numbers I really wanted improved were revealed for the first time and the new coach was all I had hoped for – and more. I wanted 11 MPG or better, and I wanted a range that would permit me to “loop” SoCal and return home without having to fuel up. I fueled up on the drive home at the same little convenience store in Turlock that I fueled up at on Thursday. Those were the only fuel stops I made the entire trip! The fuel economy turned out to be 11.1 MPG by my own calculation, not the little on board computer, however the two agreed. I drove that 847 mile loop with about 12 gallons of fuel left in the big 90 gallon tank. I drove through mountain passes both ways; it was not all flat land driving. I was delighted with what proved to be a 1000 mile range – that was even more than I had hoped for in the new coach!
And speaking of numbers, the diesel at the little Turlock Express convenience store sold for $2.10 per while the big chain Pilot and Flying J Plazas increased their price from $2.51 to $2.71 per in three days! It pays to check prices online.
Parked with the big boys at the Fort Tejon rest area near Frazier Park for breakfast aboard the new Dale’s Diner. Breakfast was cheap and fast!
The trip was wonderfully routine and unremarkable other than the wonderful numbers. I stopped at the rest area below Tejon Pass near Frazier Park, on the long descent into the valley from the Tehachapis. I zapped another sandwich and cut up an orange for breakfast. That and the fuel stop in Turlock were my only stops on my drive home. Dropping down into the valley from the Tehachapis on a sunny, clear Sunday morning that was perfect for the long drive home.
Kudos to Bakersfield for this long standing tribute to legendary country singer Merle Haggard. He was born in Oildale, near Bakersfield on April 6, 1937. He died last month, on April 6, 2016, his 79th birthday. Merle was my favorite country singer.This incredible ’55 Chevy Nomad passed me twice during the drive. What a gorgeous classic! These wagons that sold for under $3000 new are now valued above $100,000 in great condition!
The trip was very rewarding in other ways as well. I enjoyed the time with family, being a part of the big, rowdy, loving, fun bunch they are for a couple of days. While I seek peace and quiet in my old age, their happy and rambunctious home is a good thing, indeed, and I enjoyed my visit.
I arrived home at 1315 and unloaded the coach. The weather was pretty warm at about 86° so I decided to wait ’til morning to dump the tanks. I still had a number of small projects to complete before our trip to Colorado later that month. I was looking forward to getting back on the road aboard our very economical and comfortable Cecil the Diesel!
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.