October Visit to the Kids!

Time for another visit to Oceanside and my son’s family…


Thursday, Day 1, home to Barstow via SR99, SR58, I-15: 351 miles

It had been six months since my last visit to Oceanside to visit m’ boy and his family. My usual July visit was superseded by their visit to Craig in Stockton that month. I was more than ready to hit the road for Oceanside.2016-10-13a-navigator-checkNavigator installed… check! I had a good time loading the coach for my trip.

I went through my usual procedure of some coach house cleaning two days before the trip. I then washed the coach the next day, which is getting to be just about too much for this old man. But I was well rested on the morning of the trip and loaded the coach with much anticipation of the long drive ahead. Lord knows I’d rather drive some back road in Nebraska but if I’d have to fight Kalifornistan traffic all day, so be it; I wanted to drive!2016-10-13b-onramp-sr99-southThe onramp to SR99 near home. The landscape of the whole valley is ugly this time of year as everything not irrigated is dry and brown – except the areas burnt black!

I would take the Barstow route again to miss LALA Land and its horrific traffic. The drive would be longer as I decided I’d spend the night in Barstow instead of  Bakersfield’s Flying J Plaza. I stopped for lunch at a rest stop north of Bakersfield, and again for a Mickey D’s coffee and McFlurry energy jolt in the mountain town of  Tehachapi. Those were about my only stops all day.2016-10-13c-valley-is-just-uglyMore dry, brown and ugly valley landscape. We are so ready for rain!

I made it through the awful traffic of Bakersfield which was about as bad as I’d ever seen – especially for mid-afternoon, and turned east onto SR58 toward Barstow.

Click any above photo for large photos and captions.

2016-10-13h-fire-closed-lane-tehachapisThe traffic suddenly came to a crawl somewhere in the Tehachapis due to a grass fire. One lane was closed as the firemen fought the fire. I lost about 15 minutes, so it wasn’t much of a delay.

I arrived at Barstow’s Walmart store about 1730 and took my walk around the lot and the store first thing. It was a small Walmart with few groceries and even closed overnight. As Walmarts go it was pretty primitive, but next to it was a much larger Walmart under construction. Barstow would soon have a full SuperCenter.
I was surprised to see what appeared to be a squatter at the Barstow Walmart. How sad. Knowing Walmart, this mess wouldn’t last long!

2016-10-13j-barstow-walmartParked at Barstow’s Walmart lot. It was in the mid 80s which seemed pretty warm for an October afternoon.

After my walk I settled in for the night and the lot was pretty quiet. I showered, visited my favorite online sites, and zapped a quick meal. I edited photos and began this travelogue. Later, I pulled out the DVD movie Fargo and watched it for the umpteenth time. I am easily entertained, I guess. I enjoyed a couple of cool ones along with the movie, fell asleep on the couch, as usual, then woke up and went to bed. It was another pleasant evening on the road! Life is good.

Day 2, Friday, Barstow, CA to Oceanside, CA via I-15, SR76: 143 miles

I was up and about a bit after 0600. I wanted to hit the road earlier than I really had to because it was to be a windy day in the San Gabriel Mountains portion of my drive. l hate wind!

I worked through the usual morning chores, then visited my daily online sites. I cannot miss my morning online comics, no matter the weather forecast!

I continued my drive around 0830 as I pulled onto I-40, then merged onto I-15 south. The traffic was pretty heavy but still a big improvement over the traffic through LA which I avoided.

Click on any photo to see larger and read the captions:

I stopped at a Walmart in the town of Murrieta, about 30 miles before arriving at Dean’s. I wanted to buy a couple of items as well as take my morning walk.  It would also kill almost an hour so I wouldn’t arrive at Dean’s too early.2016-10-14f-murrietta-walmart Murrieta’s Walmart had acres of solar panels built over its parking lot and was quite a sight. 

I asked around at the store and was told that the panels provide 75% of the stores electric demand. I don’t know if that’s true, but those panels surely had to help and the customers probably appreciated the shady parking lot as well.

The coach parked across from Dean and Melissa’s home. Happiness is seeing a Cadillac and an Audi in the your kids’ driveway. 

I arrived at Dean’s  at 1145. He tied up some loose ends as I waited in the coach for a few minutes, then joined me. We had a good visit there in the coach and soon Aidan joined us. I brought along his birthday gift and enjoyed watching him open it. He would apply our gift certificate to a few others he had been saving towards an electronic game player I didn’t quite understand. But he was a happy camper as I added another $5 cash to his stash so that he could buy the gizmo that weekend.

Dean and I headed to Felix’s Barbecue with Soul restaurant where we have lunched together before. They have delicious food and our lunch was no exception. I pigged out on fried chicken thighs, candied yams and something new, braised cabbage. Surprisingly, the cabbage dish was pretty good. Dean pigged out on brisket and sausage with candied yams. It was a feast!

2016-10-14h-kids-houseThe Gillespie’s lovely home with the fancy cars in the driveway. Yep! I’m proud of how well they have done, especially with their two wonderful sons, Connor and Aidan.

Back at their place after lunch, I climbed aboard the coach and drove the couple blocks to Guajome Park and set up for the next couple of nights. They had Kung Fu and soccer games planned with Aidan for the afternoon and evening, and I just wasn’t up to going along. I stayed in the coach for the afternoon and took a much needed nap. Afterwards I just enjoyed myself around the coach which is very easy for me to do. I edited photos and wrote more of this travelogue, did a bit of housekeeping, and just took it easy.

2016-10-14i-online-documentaryA cool one in hand and a good documentary online with a front row seat! Life aboard Cecil the Diesel is good!

During the evening I watched a good documentary online. With the internet connection I see little reason to have satellite TV even though the coach is all set up for it. I’d have to re-subscribe to Dish TV which I’ve used in the past on the other coaches. The rates are higher now, and to me it just isn’t worth it nowadays.

I enjoyed a couple cool ones along with the documentary. I went to bed around 2300 and slept well.

Day 3, Saturday, Jacks down at Guajome as I enjoyed an airborne adventure!

Dean had a special adventure planned for me this trip that he had kept secret. I knew only that he had something planned and it would require me to sign a waiver. What?! If I had to sign my life away, maybe I didn’t want to go! Over lunch on Day 2 he told me that he had reserved a trip for me on a WWII trainer fighter plane! It would be aboard a T6 Texan, used as a trainer for WWII fighter pilots. All the info is here. 

I was up around 0600 to be ready for Dean to pick me up at 0900. We would drive about an hour to the airport for the ride which was scheduled for 1100. As I waited I took my obligatory photos of the coach and me at beautiful Guajome Park near Dean’s home.2016-10-15ab obligatory.jpg
Posed for the obligatory photo I take every visit to Guajome Park, I look ready and able for an airborne adventure. But I wasn’t really all that sure about myself hurling around the skies above SoCal aboard an airplane that was made the same time I was, in 1943. That’s 73 years ago!2016-10-15b-obligatoryNote the distance between RV spaces at Guajome Park. This is but a small portion of their RV park. My space, which I reserve months in advance each trip, is really off by itself even more than the others. As RV parks go, Guajome is as nice as they come.

Dean picked me up at the coach and we drove the hour to Ramona Airport where the small air show and Warbird rides were to be held. We arrived just in time to watch the color guard and the playing of the national anthem. There were small planes on display everywhere, and I shot way too many photos, as usual.

2016-10-15c-my-ridePushing my ride out to the area where I’d be helped aboard.2016-10-15h-ready-for-boots-and-dales-great-adventureBuckling me in for my adventure!

2016-10-15d-cockpitThe cockpit gauges and levers and switches facing my rear seat. The pilot had me take the pedals and stick for a short time to get a feel of flying the plane. I was happy to turn the controls back over to him!

2016-10-15e-my-viewMy view during much of the flight.

Mine was the first flight of the day, and I was mighty happy to climb aboard the old T6 trainer. A couple of fellows helped buckle me in and I thought they were into bondage or something for all the straps that held me to the seat. I was told “Unbuckle this first to get out of the plane if you must, then pull this, it’s the parachute. But be out of the plane before you pull it!” Oh. Really? What was I getting myself into!? I was not all that encouraged at that point, but at least I had a fighting chance if something went terribly wrong. I tried to forget their little infomercial.

Here is a video of the flight. It was about as much fun as I’ve ever had!

The old bird was noisy and shook like a vibrator but they were built for it and all was normal. The sound of the engine was like music to my ears; I love those old radial engines.

Dean bought the “cruise” ride for me, which was to be pretty much just an airplane ride, but the pilot threw in the excitement of their “maneuver” flight which included flying a loop, roll, aileron roll (I think he called it) and a diving, hard turning maneuver to fight off a Japanese Zero that might have been on our tail! The maneuvers were an absolute gas! I got to feel “g-forces” or gravity multiplied through the turns and loops. I loved it! My pilot said we took as much as 3½ Gs during the loop and I’m not sure I’d want to experience much more than that. I had to fight the g-forces to keep the camera and my hands off the floor.

We cruised and maneuvered for something over 80 miles and 40 minutes or so. The view was best when I looked up to see the ground, but that was only during parts of the maneuvers. Most of the flight was level at around 140 MPH (Boots said my speed indicator was in MPH). We flew over the desert and mountains near the small town of Ramona which is about 15 miles northeast of El Cajon, Kalifornistan. The landscape was parched brown as most of the state seems to be, and not particularly beautiful although it was a perfect day to be flying.

The pilot, “Boots”, was a retired 23 year USAF pilot who had flown a number of aircraft including the A10, F16 and I don’t remember the others he named. But he enjoyed the loops and rolls as much as I did, I’m sure. My hooting and hollering through the g-forces was as much fun as I’ve ever had!

All too soon we touched down on the runway and taxied to the area of the airshow. I felt like a returning celebrity as a lot of folks watched our every move ’til the engine shut down and the flight was over. I was helped out of the plane and thanked Boots for the great time.

We returned to the car where I removed my glasses and set them on the roof of the car to remove my sweatshirt. I then climbed into the car, buckled up and we headed for home. But wait – my glasses! We backtracked to our parking area and I walked about 100 yards looking for them. They were nowhere to be found. They were my prescription sunglasses that will cost about $300 to replace. Suddenly I was back to earth after my adventure. I have never lost keys or a wallet or glasses in my life. I hoped that wasn’t the beginning of a new trend. I blamed it on my excitement of the flight. That seemed a fair excuse to me.

We stopped at a Chinese buffet en route home for a righteous pig-out as is our custom during my visits. Goodness, the food we put away! We left stuffed and nearly miserable, and then Dean told me of Melissa’s planned “Chicago Hot Dog” meal as we watched the Cubs play the Dodgers – a game of some importance I was told. I would make room for at least one hot dog.

Poor Connor, he just wanted to eat his hot dog but the rest of us decided it was time to take photos. He did his best… (Click to enlarge and read captions.)

I spent about three hours with the family at home and actually ate a hot dog after all that Chinese food. The game played on as we visited and had dinner. Kendra, Connor’s girlfriend, was there and we all enjoyed the “Chicago” hot dog dinner.

A bit after 1900 I asked Dean to drive me back to the coach as I wanted to get an early start home in the morning. I bid everyone good-bye ’til January when I’d likely make the trip again. It had been an exciting visit this time and I greatly enjoyed it.

Back at the coach I enjoyed a couple of cool ones as I unwound from the big day. I didn’t waste much time that evening and got to bed about 2100 so I could get up and hit the road by 0500.

Sunday, Day 5, Dean’s to Home via I-5, SR99: 420 miles

I was up at 0400 and on the road at 0445. I was not chipper and wide awake as I usually am each morning. But I worked through the morning chores, converted my cozy cabin to a comfy highway cruiser and headed for home.

I drove through the darkness for two hours and was in LALA Land by daybreak. I stopped atop the Tehachapis at a rest area where I made another cup of coffee, dug out a big fudge brownie Melissa had given me, and called it breakfast. I ate as I continued north toward home.

Trip home photos on a blustery day. (Click any photo to enlarge all and read captions.)

The trip was as usual but I was not my usual self. I just couldn’t get over the drowsies the entire trip. I considered stopping for a nap, but never did. I drove through rain as I approached home, and was delighted we were getting some at last.

I stopped in Ripon, near home, and fueled up at the same station I fueled for the trip. I drove with the “low fuel” icon lit up on the dash for over a hundred miles, but knew from my last trip south that I could make it home – and more – on one tank. As it turned out, that fuel icon lit up while there was still about 16 gallons in the tank. I don’t know why the warning comes on so early, but I do know that when it does come on I have 125 to 150 miles left in the tank. At any rate, I am delighted that I can “loop” Dean’s place in Oceanside and still have several gallons of fuel left over. Cecil the Diesel is a gloriously efficient motor home!

The trip home was windy and sometimes rainy. (Click any photo to enlarge and read captions.)

I pulled up to our home a few minutes after 1300. After a big hug from my dear Wifey, I unloaded the coach and put her away. I would dump the tanks the next day as I was just too tuckered out after my 420 mile drive.

The notion of heading east and prolonging my trip was lost along with my sunglasses. Arizona was to be in the 90s and sunny. I would head that way in January when it was much cooler, maybe even cold, and at least I would have new sunglasses!

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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