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September 17, 2017

Mast Park - Urban Hiking Santee

One of the communities that calls east San Diego home is Santee.  Santee is home to the fairly well known Mission Trails Regional Park.  The Santee Lakes are a well known recreational area and campground.  The San Diego River Trail passes through both these parks and continues to expand.  I noticed the Canyoneers had a hike planned for Mast Park in Santee.  An area along the San Diego River where I had not hiked before.
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Mast Park is the trail head for two trail systems.  A western section of about 6 miles out-n-back along the Carlton Oaks Golf Course, which could be extended to Santee Lakes and Mission Trails.  The east loop is about 3 miles, but can be extended into Wildcat Canyon.  The east loop offers better access to the San Diego River with more opportunities for wildlife viewing.

Regardless, the parking area is at Carlton Hills Blvd and the San Diego River.  The murals located on the trail as it passes under the roadway were a project of Boy Scout Troop 51.  Kudos for taking on such an effort.
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Mast Park has a large playground, basketball court, an offleash dog area, a frisbee golf course, restrooms along with picnic areas.  Dogs on leash are welcome on all trails.
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The park is home to a large variety of plants.  The beautiful datura smells like peanut butter, but take a good deep breath and you can feel your airways starting to close!  All forms of the datura are poisonous, especially the flower and the thorn-apple seed seen in the second picture. 
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Also found along the trail close to the river is large group of castorbean plants.  Properly prepared castor oil does have its benefits, however it can become the deadly poison ricin.
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With Canyoneer Jerry in the lead we approach a large saltbush, which has an ammonia odor.
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I don’t recall what this beautiful purple plant is, but it has the most noxious order!  Along much of the trail are the little cocklebur plants.  A bit of care may be needed to prevent their little velcro hooks from grabbing onto my socks.
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I do not have a picture of the poison oak, but I have to say I don’t think I’ve ever had this variety of plant life trying to get me in such a short distance.

Along the San Diego River a lot of water fowl can be seen.  The Great Egret (with its yellow beak) was a bit closer than its much smaller cousin, the Snowy Egret (with its black beak).
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A Great Blue Heron flew overhead and landed in a nearby branch, where he was content to check things out.
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There were quite a gathering of chatty mallard ducks, and the ever present coot.
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Also managed to capture one of the many hummingbirds and a commarnat in flight.
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It was a nice easy walk with Jerry as a very knowledgeable guide.

September 09, 2017

EV Day at The Q

No sponsor has taken over the naming rights at Qualcomm Stadium.  It’s been nicknamed ‘The Q’ for so long I suspect until something else is built on the property it will always be just The Q.

The biggest RV event of the year is currently in progress, and normally I’d take a walk around.  But for just a five hours today the Electric Vehicle Show is taking place.  The event is sponsored by Nissan, makers of the all electric Nissan Leaf.  There is no Tesla, but BMW does have an i3 electric at the show.
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We are hosting euchre tonight and have a very limited time to spend.  We skip the cars and food trucks and move to the back area.  The way-back area behind the electric school bus, the 18-wheeler, the articulated city bus.
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To the bicycles!  But I got side tracked by this electric motorcycle.  Don’t think it woudl ahve the range to make a the Run For The Wall.
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There was also an enclosed 3-wheel motorcycle, the Spira.  Not very big on eye-candy, but a long list of options.
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This little green mini-Pro E-FAT EcoMotion caught my eye when they were advertiing the event.  There are plenty of other bikes to take for a test ride also.
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But in the end Fran and I both liked this foldable German engineered Magnum best.  It doesn’t have a classic look, but sure is fun to ride.
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Perhaps once Santa folds it, it’ll fit in my stocking ….

September 03, 2017

The Numbers - Road Trip 2017

First of all be certain all plans are never firm!  I consider them as options for the sole purpose of budgeting our summer road trips.  And I didn’t do so good this year … Well it was indeed hotter than ever expected, more wildfires than anticipated, we needed the A/C at night to sleep, etc.

Overall how did I do on the budget?  Not even close!
Days on the road: Budget – 84; Actual – 80
It’s not that we left a week late and are back a few days early, we left a week late and are back 3 days late.  But the house is spotless, thanks to Sue and Bob for taking care of it.
Miles driven: Budget – 6680;  Actual – 8445
The trip to Dayton was pretty much spot on, but the trip home .... with a few side trips and the kids moving, we did not take the most direct way home.  But we did get grandson, Jm, all to ourselves for a day! 
Fuel cost: Budget 1781.33; Actual – 1474.34
CA fuel is pretty high $3.50 while less elsewhere (2.29 in AZ), I usually over estimate the fuel budget.  The cost of non-bio diesel averaged $2.69, I anticipated it would be closer to $3.00.
Diesel: Budget – 450.00; Actual – 547.29 gallons
We did average 15.43 mpg, a bit lower than I had expected.  We started out great, but the prairie winds were biblical!  
Campgrounds:  Budget -  1130.60 ; Actual – 1389.42
With the heat and wildfires we did spend more nights in campgrounds than I anticipated.  The budget allowed for $13.46/night, but we came in at $17.37/night.  That includes the boondocking, moochdocking, Forest Service, WallMart, etc.  It really could/should have been less, even with the price of the eclipse at $80/night with a 2 night requirement.  We paid for 4 nights, Idaho Falls was an easy place to hook up with the family.
Dinning out: Budget – 500.00; Actual – 847.19
I always miss this by a bunch, even after I double the estimate … ARG!  For sure dinning out is part of the travel experience and I do not include the cost of eat-in groceries.  But we ate out almost every day, I did not anticipate that often.  Of course, I’d never pass up a Marion’s Pizza!
Misc: (laundry, haircuts, showers): Budget – 50.00; Actual – 36.50
I got a haircut in Dayton, most of the campgrounds offered free showers.  The price of laundry varied at every campground.  It is free in Dayton and at home so we did stretch the clothes a bit.  I expected Fran to also have a haircut, but she just trimmed it nicely herself.
Museums and entry fees:  Budget – 150.00; Actual – 153.07
Total coincidence that we hit this nearly spot on, the budget was just a guess to fill in a square in the spread sheet..  Mark Twain’s Hannibal and Cave are so worth it, the Taos Pueblo should not be missed and what a surprise find the Mammoth Site was.  If you find yourself in Dayton, the Carillon is worth a few hours of your time.
Entertainment: Budget – 150.00; Actual – 376.00
Again the budget was just a number in the spreadsheet, but we did use the movie theater to escape the heat of the day.  With the Fraze so close to the Dayton house we also enjoyed a few more concerts then we have in the past.
RV Misc:  Budget – 500.00; Actual – 320.10
This includes parking ($30 !!! in Santa Fe), toll roads, dump fee and the schedule A service at Lynnwood MB.  A shoutout to Lynwood Mercedes, the A service is filters and fluids, which is $350 locally without a wash, it’s $270 in Lynwood and they washed the RV!

Overall:  Budget – 4042.53 (48.13/day) ; Actual 5502.41 (68.78/day)
This includes the unanticipated costs for campgrounds and meals.  OK, mostly meals, we ate out a lot!

The Hot and the Squat:
Best RV Park (value): Blanco RV Park
It was $26 w/ FHU and best WiFi on the trip, hands down the very best.  Clean showers were a bonus.  But I’d go back just to be checked in again by the Reese Witherspoon clone behind the counter.  She could be reading the yellow pages, I'd still sit and listen.
Worst RV Park (value): Salem Campground and RV Park
The goal was to drive thru the traffic of Portland and Salem to find a place for the night.  Thus we could start the day fresh to explore the more interesting sections of the Oregon valley.  Location was perfect.
Many folks call this park home, however there is little pride taken in their lots.  Dogs run unchecked, off-leash, while investigating the newcomers.  Several dogs claimed the RV as their territory, one even pooped on my fresh water hose! – gross!!  Living near the beach I am used to public restrooms that are well used and will still go in barefoot.  This may be the first time I’ve worn my sandals into a shower, the only working 1 of 4, so it was well used.  At $41 it was a total waste, WiFi was unusable.
  Damage report:
The converter was acting up before we left but I did not want to address it with the trip a week away.  The house batteries would still charge from the engine, but not from shore power.  I purchased a trickle-charger to use while using an electrical hookup.  By the time we reached Dayton the converter had failed completely.
The TV was working fine one evening, but the following morning failed.  The self-test screen appears and completes, but then repeats and repeats.
The overhead bunk – our storage area – has a damaged hinge and can no longer be raised.
The entry door was sprung when the high winds in South Dakota got a hold of it.  For the rest of the trip it had to be slammed shut.
That’s not so bad really!  I’ve already fixed the entry door, ordered parts for the converter, will set new screws in the overhead bunk perhaps next weekend.
I’ll let Fran pick the replacement TV.  I have one in mind with a built-in BlueRay player Smile and better sound.  Perhaps she’ll think that’s the best solution …