To Dean’s and… home!
January 26, 2017 –
Day 1, Thursday, Home to Barstow via SR99, SR58, I-15: 351 miles
It was January and time to find some sunshine and warmth! Our winter had been very wet, not that I’m complaining even a little bit, as we need the water to quench our very serious drought. But I was daydreaming about wandering the back roads of Texas in 70°+ sunshine! Loading on stores for the two or three week adventure to Dean’s in Oceanside and beyond to Texas and sunshine and warmth…
I washed the coach the day before, and on the morning of departure I about wore myself out again loading up for two to three weeks on the road. The prep and loading work is a whole lot tougher than it used to be, but it’s still called “playing with my toys” so I can’t complain.
I bid my dear Wifey good-bye around 1030 and pulled out of our little gated senior community. The day was bright and cold; I ran the heater the whole day to stay comfy.How green is my valley! Lots of water and recent sunshine has turned brown into green. What an improvement!
Somewhere north of Bakersfield I pulled into a rest area and zapped lunch – a frozen egg white, turkey sausage and cheese sandwich. Later, as I topped the long pull to the town of Tehachapi, I stopped at a Mickey D’s for one of my caffeine/sugar jolts to keep me alert. The sugar came in the form of an Oreo Cookie McFlurry, one of my favorite treats. And I was alert as I dropped down from the Tehachapis and clear across the desert to Barstow where I pulled in for the night.
Rant Warning: The following photos are accompanied by one of my usual rants about the lousy roads in Kalifornistan… (click for larger photos and the excellent rant.)
The day before my trip, as I planned the first day, I found cheap diesel online at a Valero station just off the freeway in Barstow. Having programmed it into my navigator, I simply followed the prompts to some $2.50 diesel. Near home, the local Flying J wanted $3 per! I felt pretty smug as I saved myself over $30 on that one fill up alone.
After arriving at Walmart around 1730, I walked into the store to buy a few things I needed and to show my appreciation. Back at the coach I dropped the jacks and settled in for a cold night in the high desert. They predicted 32°; it was low 40s when I got there.The Tom Selleck double at the ‘puter, posting photos and the day’s travelogue.
I spent the evening as usual, perusing the ‘net, editing photos, and writing this travelogue. I zapped a frozen meal for dinner. The generator needed some “exercise” as the owner’s manual puts it, so I ran it a couple of hours and used the electric water heater and heat pump to keep the coach warm. I am always amazed that the heat pump, or the air conditioner running in reverse, can draw warm air from the cold air outside, but somehow it does. The manual states that I should have a load on the big 7500 watt diesel generator to properly exercise it, and it easily ran everything all at once.
Sometime around 0900 I headed to the shower. Afterwards I poured a tasty vodka tonic or three, and settled back for some more ‘puter time.
After enjoying the cool ones, I hit the sack around 1100. I slept very well ‘til around 0400 when the familiar ankle cramps awoke me. I got my socks, put a bar of soap in each one and went back to sleep. I have no clue how that works, but as mentioned in past stories, it does. Somehow. Honest. I slept fine after sticking bars of soap in my socks. Again.
Day 2, Barstow to Dean’s via I-15, I-215, SR76: 148 miles
High winds were in the forecast, but I had no idea what I was about to get into. I hurried through the morning chores and pulled out of Barstow a bit before 0700. I thought an early start would get me beyond the windy area north of San Bernardino. It didn’t.It was a beautiful morning as I began the drive south.
The mountains north of San Bernardino were covered in more snow than I had seen there before.
Uh-oh. Not that I didn’t expect winds, but I had no idea what lay in store…
I enjoyed the morning drive immensely ‘til I got into the windy valley along I-215 that I’ve dealt with in the past. I’ve driven in cross winds that nearly blew me off the road several times in the past, but none that blew off the fiberglass roof!
Suddenly, as I drove along at about 50 MPH to maintain control in the incredible cross wind, I heard a terrible rattle on the roof. I pulled over and discovered the thin fiberglass coating that covered the roof had separated and was blowing like a ragdoll in the wind.
I dug out the ladder extension from the basement storage that connects to the higher ladder on the back of the coach, and climbed onto the roof in that awful wind storm. I pulled the loosened, thin veneer of fiberglass and tossed it onto the ground. I tried to duct tape some of the loosened area, but it was impossible in the wind. I stowed the gear I had dug out and continued south.I was down to some ragged fiberglass and bare wood after the wind was done with me. I can’t imagine how wind could blow off the fiberglass, but it sure did!High winds blew across the mountains tops, too. Here the snow is blown off the peaks by the fierce wind.
Things seemed Ok and I drove on to the Walmart about 30 miles north of Dean’s. I planned to stop there anyway to whip up breakfast, and I did. I walked into the store and bought some “Gorilla” duct tape and a couple items I needed, and then returned to the coach.
I climbed up onto the roof again and discovered a large chunk of the fiberglass had also blown off the rear section of the roof. Half or more of the fiberglass was gone! I taped areas that might have caught the wind, but could do no more than that. The roof was absolutely unable to handle rain without the covering fiberglass. (Back at home as I prepared my insurance claim, weather history for the area from Cajon Pass to San Bernardino recorded winds to 60 MPH!)
My trip to Texas was no more. I had to get home where I could park the coach under its metal cover. I checked the weather forecasts and, fortunately, no rain was expected the next few days. I would head home on Sunday as I usually do when I visit the family.
I drove on to Dean’s and parked in front of his home at 1115. While he tied up some loose ends of his work week in his home office, I got online and entered a preliminary claim with my insurance for the wind damage which, I’m quite sure, is covered under comprehensive. To say the least, my excitement of bumming around Texas was destroyed with the roof.
I still had my appetite! When Dean came out to the coach, we drove it to Felix’s, a southern/soul food restaurant we’ve enjoyed in the past. Melissa’s car was in the shop and she would be using Dean’s to pick up the kids at school. So Dean rode along in Cecil the Diesel for the first time.Note the monster lunches we ordered at Felix’s Barbecue with Soul restaurant.
Our meal was huge! Dean bought the sampler of four meats and four side dishes. We should have had just that for the both of us. But I ordered fried chicken, and a side of candied yams and coleslaw. What a feast! Dean brought much of his huge meal home to eat later.
After I dropped Dean off at the house I headed for nearby Guajome Park and set up the coach in their fine RV park. After settling in, I began my evening aboard because Connor had a soccer game at a high school an hour’s drive away. I’d seen enough traffic for one day, so I declined the invitation to go along and would spend the evening in the coach. After the day I’d had, I was ready to be alone to lick my wounds.
But wait! The blown off roof wasn’t enough trouble for the day. My smart phone’s hotspot icon disappeared. I tried for over an hour to get online with the computer, but nothing worked. I spent the evening offline which, when I’m on the coach, is worse than it sounds!
I busied myself editing photos and writing this travelogue on a document. The next day, Saturday, I’d be at Dean’s and could use their Wifi. But I had to get that hotspot fixed somehow!
I dug out the movie Oh, Brother Where art Thou and watched it for the umpteenth time. I still get a lot of laughs watching those hobos. I enjoyed some cool ones along with the movie and tried to forget the lousy luck I’d experienced during the day. I hit the sack around 2300 and slept well.
Day 3, Saturday, Jacks down at Guajome Park
I slept surprisingly well in spite of the daunting problems with the roof. And not having the ‘net on my computer didn’t help any. But I climbed out of bed at 0530 and was my usual energetic self. I worked through the usual morning chores, and then set about doing a bit of housecleaning that was past due. I cleaned the kitchen and bathroom sinks and the toilet. I did my arm exercises that should have been done on Day 2. I sorted my pills for the week. I found a leaky water bottle in a kitchen cabinet the night before and I removed everything to dry overnight. I set about putting all the stuff back. I took a long walk. I made breakfast. I don’t know why I was so active but it kept me occupied and I didn’t think so much about the canceled trip to Texas and the big roof repair ahead.
Dean picked me up about 1015 and we headed to the house to visit awhile. It was good to see both boys at the house, and I had the shocking discovery of hugging Connor and having my face even with his neck! He has grown like a weed in just the three months since my last visit.The smilin’ Gillespie family – Connor, Grandpa, Aidan, Melissa and Dean.
We left for lunch around 1130, and headed for Maan’s Mediterranean Grill where we enjoyed… um, Mediterranean food, a style of cooking that Dean likes. It was a first for me and I did enjoy it. But it didn’t compare to Chinese!
After our Mediterranean meal we returned home and spent the afternoon together with Melissa and the kids. During one of the rare moments when everyone was at home, we had our annual Christmas in January. We gave Dean and Melissa an Echo, the device from Google that does so many things by voice command. It plays music, answers questions about weather, news, and many other things. We all had fun playing with “Alexa”, and the kids seemed to really like her. We gave the boys cash instead of the usual gift card this year, and they liked getting cash. They could buy anything, anywhere, anytime.Grandpa and the boyz. Aidan who is 12, (L) and Connor who turned 16 this month and seemingly grew a foot taller since my last visit.
I hung out with the family, watched some UFC on TV with Dean, and also dozed on the couch as most folks expect grandpas to do. Around 1730 I asked Dean to drive me home as I was tired and my legs, after those trips up the coach ladder several times the day before, were killing me. We shared hugs all ‘round and bid our good-byes, and Dean drove me to the coach for the night.
Back at the coach I showered, did a bit of writing and editing photos, and poured a cool one or so. I went to bed at 2100 as I wanted to head for home around 0500.
Day 4, Sunday, Guajome Park to home via I-5, SR99: 417 miles
I was up and around at 0400 as I planned. After hurrying through the morning chores, I raised the jacks, powered in the slides, unplugged from the grid and headed for home at 0450.
It was clear sailing through LALA Land as it always is so early on a Sunday morning. I stopped at a Mickey D’s in Bakersfield for a breakfast to go, and enjoyed a couple sausage, egg and cheese McMuffins as I drove. I also had a large coffee and a McFlurry for dessert! The calorie/caffeine jolt saw me through to home without fighting the sleepies.Six Flags meant I had LALA Land behind me and the mountains ahead!
The drive was uneventful which was surely appreciated after the recent wind incident. It was foggy for awhile in the valley, which is almost expected this time of year, but it was a light fog and didn’t slow traffic down. This dog blew by me on the flats, and I blew by him pulling up the Tehachapis. The race was on!
…and here he blew by me again and I lost another dog race. Ya don’t win many races driving 58 – 60 MPH all day!
Pyramid Lake in the Tehachapis on a lovely Sunday morning.
There was a wind warning south of the Tehachapis and it did blow pretty well near LALA Land, but by the time I got into the mountains the wind died down.I drove through some fog in the valley but it was light and not unexpected.
I trucked on through the valley, dodging the many potholes and patches as usual. The ride on SR99 was so rough in spots that when I got home a plastic light cover, both dinette back cushions and the computer were on the floor! And that’s with air suspension!This washboard goat trail was brought to us by Kalifornistan’s outrageous gas tax. No… we aren’t getting our money’s worth!
I pulled up to our home at 1240. It was not so good to be home this time, as I had planned to be in Arizona en route to Texas and a couple weeks of bumming around. But the roof must be fixed first. I believe a long, carefree drive around the country is due me when the repairs are done. The RV gods owe me one!Back home once again, I contemplated the big repair job that must be done before I can hit the road again. Sure, I know life isn’t fair, but this one was a punch below the belt!
In spite of the disappointment of the wind damage, I had a lovely visit with my son Dean and his lovely wife Melissa. I saw the grandsons again and enjoyed seeing how well they are doing. I’ve already made my reservations for the next two visits, in May and August, to be sure I get my favorite spot at Guajome Park. Perhaps the May visit will be a part of a long and lovely drive into Texas and even into the southeast!