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May 29, 2016

Mission Bay’s De Anza Cove–Redevelopment

Since I still have a ‘walking boot’ on my foot from the incident with the sewing needle.  No hiking blog today and our departure has been pushed back a bit.  All that really changes in that respect is our route to visit the family in WA, that arrival date is set.  But the reservations at Yosemite have been cancelled.

On to what’s happening in the park.  As a former permanent resident of the De Anza Cove Trailer Park, I am paying some attention to the redevelopment plan for the 120 acres that the Coastal Commission was acquired.  The little red circle is my old home at NW-2 (Northwest 2).

After Fran and I married, we I sold the ‘tin can’ some 30 years ago and purchased a home on the hill above the park.

Altho not technically part of the park vision, there are other things happening in the area.  I’ll start at the top of Clairmont Drive where Home Town Buffet is already closed.  That entire strip mall will be redone as store fronts below, condos above.

Just east of where Clairmont Drive crosses over I-5 work is well under way for a trolley stop.  It’ll be an easy bike ride from the RV park to the trolley.  The trolley will eventually continue north to La Jolla, but initially it’ll go downtown.  The 7-11 on that corner is already open.

The old Visitor Information Center, that funny looking building at the foot of Clairmont Drive will become a causal beach dinning.  Whoot whoot!  So needed in this area.


First off I’d like to assure you that no changes are planned for the Mission Bay RV Resort (Including it’s Passport America status) in 2017, perhaps not 2018 either. The lease at Campland On the Bay expires in 2018 and will not be renewed.  It seems obvious that they will be allowed to bid on taking over the De Anza RV Park – which will include tent sites! Whoot!   The area Campland now occupies will restored to marsh land as an extension of the existing Kendall-Frost Preserve.  Of course that may change, but not likely. 

As for the options for De Anza itself visit the De Anza Revitalization web site for the latest ‘official’ information.  Here’s a summary of the most agreed upon issues, thus far.  The next meeting is scheduled for June 16th, but we'll be on the road before then.

The little San Diego Mission Bay Boat & Ski Club (one of the oldest in the nation) is gone.  The Rose Creek Bike path will be straightened and Rose Creek itself restored.  The Boat & Ski Club may be relocated to South Shores – just east of Sea World.  Whoot! South Shores could so use a ‘marina’ type infrastructure, but the little boat club may not be able to meet that desire. 

The Mission Bay Golf Course becomes an executive with 2x 9-hole courses and the driving range intact; some say 3x 9-hole with the driving range removed.

Most likely the Pacific Beach Tennis Club will be gone, as will the basketball courts.  The ball fields will remain.

However there is another, and very different, approach to the revitalization of De Anza Cove.  Backed by The Audubon Society, The Coastal Conservatory and U.S. Fish and Game Rewild Mission Bay would turn the entire area to native vegetation.  Great for bird watchers.


May 20, 2016

Shoot – Stabed in the foot

Not sure if it’s true that most accidents happen at home, but this one sure did – right in the living room.  For some time, possibly years, there was a sewing needle laying in wait, hidden deep in the carpet.  The last vacuum dislodged it at just the right angle that it harpooned the next bare foot it saw.  That alone is not so bad but it broke off deep in a tendon just inside the pad behind the 2nd toe.  As a result I have a new sandal to wear!
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In 2 weeks the stitches come out, and another 2 I’m still wearing the latest in beach sandal fashions.  I must admit I am glad I found the needle, not glad that it broke for sure!  I’m not macho, nor do I handle pain any better than Fran, but I do make a better Margarita and don’t mind kicking back with my feet up.  She’d be nuts going 4 weeks without a tennis racket!

The result of my forced sedentary life is the first leg of the 2016 Alaska Adventure is done.  However, the first leg is family!, of course family comes first!  We’ll bid them so-long in Tacoma for a loop around the Olympic Peninsula.
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The only thing that changes is our departure date and route.  Of course 395 is always tops on my list.  But after 50 years of driving to/from the Seattle area once/twice a year we've covered much of any route :)

The loop will end at Cape Disappointment State Park.  There we’ll spend a few days with the our son’s family, including the only grandson there.  A bit out of the way as launch point for Canada, but it’s also a great stop.

Research from websites, blogs, best-of lists, etc. goes on the spreadsheet.  I mark this items on a AAA state map to dump the items that cannot be fit into the schedule.  Shi Shi Beach, with its Point of Arches will have to wait for another trip  … Then Google maps is a great resource to connect create the route as it offers both time and distance estimates.  I like to draw and annotate the route in the appropriate Delorme Gazetteer.

Please follow along and make your suggestions and comments.  I've use a several blogs in my research, here’s the final entries in a couple of those threads.  Just follow backwards, both Lisa and Lynn but up beautiful blogs.
Pretty much everybody reading this post follows Paul and Nina who have hosted at least twice at the Cape Disapointment Lighthouse.

May 15, 2016

RV Prep for Alaska

The Fleetwood Class C  Pulse 24A is based on a Sprinter chassis and has a nice large overhead.  In the overhead is a queen size bed, but we just use it for storage.  However when wind comes up that long slope of the Sprinter hood and windshield it can lift that overhead allowing water to intrude into the cab.  I’ve put a couple coats of silicon along the seam without success.  Time to get serious!
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Using a tennis ball to relieve the pressure I worked door shims around the seam.  The silicon gave way easily and came of in huge strips - it definitely did not seal.  With the entire seam open time it was time to clean it with Acetone move the shims and clean again.

The 3M 5200 marine sealant comes highly recommended, it must be good as 3M is quite proud of it - $17 for the tube.  I purchased the slow cure for the extra working time ... I do work slow … Acetone is the recommenced prep and clean-up solvent.

And the final results look a lot better than the silicon ever did!
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As I mentioned in an earlier blog I removed the wheel simulators.  The rear rims have been wet sanded and painted with silver Rustoleum.  I’ll replace the front simulators after the trip.   I use stainless steel cable ties from Home Depot to secure them, but if tire maintenance is necessary this is lots easier.

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Look close – yes those are metal valve stems and the shipping dust covers are removed from the front wheels. 

A May 2012 trip was to Tireman in Ridgecrest CA to have the metal valve stems installed.
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I do not expect WiFi while camping in some areas of Alaska.  Nor will cell service be reliable.  I ordered a weBoost 4G-X, their most powerful unit, but I do not have a metal roof and isolation between the outdoor and indoor antennas could not be achieved.  Hence there was lots of feedback - like having the microphone too close to the speakers.

While sitting along side the house, where reception is already poor, the gain was only 8db.  The previous unit 4G-M provides a gain of 30db! and no more feedback.

The antenna is a magnetic mount I attached  to the awning bracket close to the fridge vent.  Fleetwood expected this!  WOW!!  Sorry no picture but they left a 3” diameter chase for addons – satellite, solar, WiFi booster etc.  The little cell booster cable is lonely in there.

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I used a couple of those door shims – remember the shims? – to create a little space behind the existing TV power connection, no need to drill, then mounted the amplifier behind the TV and the indoor antenna in in front of the TV facing the dinette.  Yes the scotch tape will either be replaced or the antenna moved if necessary.
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On one of the early trips to Anza Borrego tracing down a water leak I broke the bottom drawer slide in the kitchen.  The Ace Hardware in Borrego had a standard kitchen slide, which worked, but was not designed for the vibrations of an RV.

I have since replaced it with a self-closing slide from Home Depot.  I also picked up a couple magnetic catches in case the drawer slide needed a bit of assistance to stay in.  Not the case.  With about 40k miles on that slide is working perfectly the time has come to replace a drawer slide on the other big bin in the kitchen.
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Be sure to get the right length!  18” for me, else they will not self close.   Don’t be cheap get the purple – the most expensive – $16 for my 18”.

The slides MUST be square!  Be patient and I do have some extra door shims if you need any …

May 09, 2016

Peña Spring to Maidenhair Falls–Borrego Springs

My plan was to get up early this Monday morning and if it was overcast head to Borrego Springs to witness the Transit of Mercury.  But made a quick decision to head out Sunday evening instead.  I grabbed my trusty old Canon camera case and was off.

Only the case contains Fran’s little Sony camera, Oops!  Without a good zoom Mercury is just to tiny to see, to take a picture at all I had to hold my solar glasses over the lens.  Lame.

The transit has already begun at sunrise, by 8AM little Mercury is about halfway across the sun.  But no zoom on the Sony ….
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I should have bought her a nicer camera Smile.

The hike to Pena Spring can be done as an easy loop from the campground (right) or an out-and-back from the trailhead (left) at the entrance to Culp Valley Camp.  There’s ample parking at the trailhead.
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Today I’m doing the out-n-back willing to miss the viewpoints from the loop.
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It’s an easy walk down the wash to the obvious marsh are on the west.
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This little spring is the main water source for Maidenhair Falls.  If you’ve hike to the falls from the big parking lot at the bottom to wonder where the water went – it went to the plants, animals ( have seen the Borrego Sheep here on a couple occasions) and sand above the falls.

Although not as spectacular as the overlooks from the campground, the entrance to Hell Hole Canyon is spectacular!
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Today the top of the falls is dry, just a tannin stain on the rocks where water sometimes flows.  This is the first time I’ve seen NO water at the top of the falls – none! nada! ziltch!  It'll be a long summer below …
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The hikers from the bottom will be disappointed today.  They’ll have a 7 mi RT journey, mine is 3 mi RT …. and I have moteros!  I have yet to hear of any art in the area, but these morteros are well used and not far from the spring.  I figure there has to be some native graffiti here somewhere near by!
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Where water flows flowers grow!  It’s getting to the end of their Spring Fling 3000’ above Borrego Springs.
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Oh my – look at those coastal clouds!  With the right camera this would definitely been the right move!
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May 06, 2016

North to Alaska !!! more on trip planning

It's raining so neither bikes nor boots this weekend.  But it gives me a chance to fill in some 'options' on the Alaska spreadsheet.  I thought I'd share the process I went through for this years big Alaskan adventure.

I offer you Johnny Horton for some background entertainment while reading through this post.

Although we have had our RV since 2012, I’ve only recently decided to blog our travels.  My inspiration was the fun of following our neighbors, Debbie and Greg’s Alaskan Road Trip.  I like their relaxed style of travel!  And knew we'd not be only a year or so behind.

In January I posted that Alaska would be our big adventure this year.  This is not an easy trip to plan!  It is likely a bucket list trip for many and as the distances are huge, it takes some planning and we’ve been making/changing/finalizing plans for the past 6 months or so.

I've read up on about the experiences of others who have/are blogging their recent experiences:
    Island Girl Walkabout has some fabulous photo essays from Hector
    Gone with the Wynns offers tons of adventurous energy, with great stories, pictures, videos, recommendations.
    WheelingIt offers some insights into additional blogs and planning from their bucket-it list and some good thoughts as to why they have not taken their RV up yet ... and perhaps why we should not!

    Our daughter was able to spend a few weeks as a college graduation present to herself! and our son more recently took his wife to Denali.  OK it's our turn and yes it is a very loooong road trip.

It looks like Camper Chronicles will be about a month ahead of us and is a good site for us to watch.  They have posted some great details of their planning.

But what Camper Chronicles failed to mention is health coverage, most US policies, including Medicare, are NOT accepted in Canada.  A supplemental ‘travel insurance’ is required if you choose not to go naked.  Pacific Blue Cross offers a pretty decent plan, and the one we will consider if we choose not to go commando.

Here are other items I took as action items in preparation for this adventure.  They are listed in no specific order and presented as bullets to consider:
  • Caravan groups and schedules offer ideas  of what the ‘pros’ think are important, with travel times and dates to ‘avoid’.  I work with some folks who used Alaskan Discovery Tours and that's not a bad idea for a first time trip or if you’d like FREE RV technical and roadside service, fuel discounts, pet sitting, international satellite phones, etc.
  • The North to Alaska website also has some good information.
  • Following the recommendations of those who have been there ,and the online visitor guides and websites, it was time to get good paper maps of Alaska and western Canada.  Along with The Milepost guide book (a gift from our daughter), I used a colored pencil to mark up the maps from the list of MUST do items.  And then a different color to mark it with the optional WANNA do items.
  • I updated it again from Milepost! It has some great options for Canada too!  Canada is a big part of this trip and not to be missed.  I also marked up The Milepost, perhaps a bit of overkill. And then I connected the dots on the map to determine the route.
  • I used Google to drive the route adding days, allowing for time to enjoy the sites along the way.  I tried to allow time for the usual chores i.e. dumping, filling, WiFi, laundry, shopping, etc. ...
  • And allowed sufficient time for seeing/doing – hiking, tours, museums, visitor centers.  It takes two nights at the same site to provide one day to do something, when check in/out are considered.  With the route and basic itinerary in the spreadsheet it was time to price out the route.   OUCH!  I included the must do and gas estimates in the committed column and kept optional items in a separate column.  This also helps to determine how much Canadian currency to carry.
All this research is on the computer and I placed it on a flash drive, I anticipate poor cell and WiFi availability

Last year we were able to 'lent' out the house for our 4 months on the road.  This year we have a bit over 3 months to complete this trip, so that is the window we have to work with.
  • I then added the dates! and made commitments as reservations for high priority limited access venues! For instance Denali and a ferry we need to use.
Yes a ferry -  Marine Highway – it’s part of the experience.  But note - the requirements for ferry travel ticket(s) include:    photo id in same name as the tickets – NO nicknames!   RV docs ins/reg – turn off the propane.  

Before leaving home I've had the RV checked to make sure it is ready along with all the necessary paperwork:
  •     RV – ensure all services and inspections along with insurance and DMV up to date
  •     DMV tags, insurance, Canadian coverage certificates are REQUIRED!
  •     A PASSPORT is required!!! ours are good for another few months after we expect to return. 
  •     Check the credit cards and drivers license expiration dates also.
  •     GPS updated for Canada, Alaska
  •     Make sure roadside / trip interruption / assist services / warranty / etc. include Canada and Alaska.  We have Good Sam and all our subscriptions are covered.
  •     I changed out the RV alarm batteries and set a spare set aside
RV – Spares:
Most parts items can be had quickly even if shipping 2-day is required, I’ll still carry items that can ruin the day and are easy to replace:
  •    Fuel and air filter; and tools to replace
  •    Correct oil filter wrench, but let a shop do the oil change even although 229.51/2 oil is not common (but 13 qts is just too much to carry!)
  •     Clear shipping tape and super glue for windshield chip repair, etc.
  •     Windshield wipers
  •     Full set of manuals for all RV appliances
  •     Jump start battery pack
  •     5 gallons of non-bio Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel #2. All auto diesel in Alaska is ULS #2 … bio content?
  •     Serpentine belt and tools to replace
I've removed hubcaps/simulators, rather than buy replacements after we get back :)

We’ll be carrying bicycles, which will require their own unique tools, tire patch kit, air pump etc. and we’ll rent a car when/if needed.

My tools include:
A selection of hand tools for typical ‘home’ repairs including electrical and plumbing, with the ability to check for water and gas leaks. The basic specialty tools for RV spares I mentioned.

Cell coverage:
Before crossing the border we'll have to decide on cell service via Verizon, which would be $2 roaming per phone, $30 plan on MiFi.  A cell booster will likely be needed, which can be while traveling or a less expensive option is a stationary unit.  

An unlocked smartphone with Canadian SIM card might be a better option. Check out:

That's still not yet settled and we may just go without.

CASH – Credit cards may/maynot be accepted (Visa/MC are more common, there is little AmEx in Canada).
Current exchange rate $1 US = $1.25 CAD.
With the trip priced out I have a reasonable estimate on needs, but of course it'll not be enough ... we always go over budget :)

There are border crossing restrictions to consider such as limits on food and booze and medicals can be found at:
We expect to be crossing at Sumas WA into BC … Alberta requirements may vary

This is perhaps a trip-of-a-lifetime and as much as boondocking - man vs. nature - is part of the Alaskan experience, and we will boondock!  I’m willing to pay-to-stay for the right amenities …

I am aware EVERYTHING! in Alaska will cost more – most everything has to be trucked/barged in and sold in the few months of tourist activity.  I’ll not complain and just be willing to say thank you when a decent wine is available.

I expect this could be our most expensive trip, and that’s ok if we come home with no regrets.

And for certain add a playlist:

Fortunately next year's destination is set in stone!
Where will you be August 21 2017?