Sunday, January 25, 2015

California Uber Alles

I was still digesting the greasy lunch I insisted upon having, when we crossed the state line. There were large mountain peaks all around us that I had to try to ignore as I maneuvered our truck and trailer down a winding mountain pass. I drove past a sign that said '8% Grade' as my engine screamed at me for using the low gears to slow us down. As I rounded a steep curve, the first exit came into view. Exit #792. I couldn't ever remember seeing an exit number that high before. I considered the geography for a minute and realized that was probably the largest exit number in the country. It was also a symbol for us. We were going to be here for a while. Welcome to California. 

It's been about four months since that moment. We are near exit #15 now, just east of San Diego, in a town called Jamul. The area is really nice and the weather is fantastic. 70-80 degrees every day and not a single cloud in the sky. The park we are staying at is part of the Thousand Trails network and it leaves something to be desired. Not because the park itself is in bad shape. I mean, it could use some fresh paint and landscaping but it has great amenities like 4 swimming pools, 2 hot tubs, a bike trail, a restaurant and they even have an RC track that we have been driving Noah's RC on. But, we have had some incidents occur since we have been here that showcase the type of people that use this park. Like the guy who was in the site next to us who got drunk, got in his car and started racing around the park with techno music playing on full blast (the crappy trance kind, not the good Detroit kind). Eventually, the CHP showed up and arrested him. Thousand trails revoked his membership so now he is homeless. Well, technically he was already homeless because his previous residence was a tent. Anyhow, this dude was just an extreme example of the kind of seedy folks that live in this park. In addition to this, we are just 12 miles from the border so the Border Patrol has their hands full in the fields all around us. 

Despite all of this, we have really made the best of our situation. We found a park nearby in Rancho San Diego that the boys like to ride their bikes and scooters at. It's close to the grocery store and frozen yogurt place so we like to make an afternoon out of it. 

We took a field trip to the world famous San Diego Zoo. The boys each chose an animal the day before and did reports on them with their mom. At the zoo, they presented their reports to me and taught me all about the animals. Noah did a report on Rhinos and Sammy did one on Penguins. They really did a great job and showed a genuine understanding of their animals. I have to give some credit to Jessica on this too. Like always, she did an amazing job of engaging the boys in this activity. 

In between visits to the park and the zoo we have been using up our bonus visits at Legoland. We found that if you go on a Friday afternoon, everything is open but you have the park basically to yourself. 

If you read my last blog entry, you might be looking for an update on our recent RV problems. I have gotten a lot of professional opinions and I have educated myself on these types of problems and it has helped me to decide on a course of action. It looks like it is all going to come together in Phoenix. We will be getting the roof replaced and all of our slide-out issues will be resolved. Now, the nature of our issue is such that they might uncover other problems while taking everything apart so we are prepared to roll with the punches. We will just have to cross our fingers and hope for the best. While our rig is in the shop we plan to bum around the area with our backpacking gear. If it seems we are going to be without our RV for an extended period, we may look into a long term vacation rental or a last-minute Mexican cruise ($100 a person for 4 nights. You just have to be flexible). 

As we spend our final few days in California, we can't help but look back at all the memories we have made. We lived off the grid in a Redwood forest and hiked the steep, rocky trails of Yosemite. We ate Chinese food in San Francisco and Korean food in Los Angeles. We made new friends in Pismo and became members of the California State Parks family. We rode bikes on the Pacific Coast Highway and walked down Cannery Row. From the wildlife and pine trees in the High Sierras to the crashing waves and beaches of the coast, from the jagged peaks of lassen to the sunny deserts of Joshua Tree, the Golden State is one hell of an awesome place. I look forward to the day we meet again, California. 

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