Dec 8-Dec 27 - Chula Vista Area, CA
The good news to report is that the work we had done a month ago to replace our slide-out seals and cure the water leak worked. The bad news, of course, is that this knowledge is courtesy of a couple of pretty spectacular rainstorms in Southern California. As a side benefit, we've found that the new seals also keep the exhaust fumes from our auxiliary generator from seeping into the coach, as they previously did. We found that out when we arrived at the 1000 Trails Pio Pico preserve, and there was no electricity, and we had to run the generator for extended periods. From the looks of things, there was a significant windstorm hereabouts - lots of trees and branches down in the park - but the power problem was somewhere several miles outside the park. The power was finally restored about 26 hours after we arrived. Interestingly, when we were here in January, the water supply was contaminated, and we couldn't drink the water for two weeks. We were able to park in the same spot we used in January, one of the few spots in the park where we can get both satellite signals and a semblance of cell phone service. Life certainly is interesting.
It's always a challenge to spend family-type holidays away from family. We kind of started getting into the Christmas mood our first week after we got to Pio Pico, by setting our ipod to play just Christmas music. We did a little shopping, and started making plans for an over-the-top Christmas dinner. There are several very nice restaurants in the San Diego area offering wonderful (although spendy) meals on Christmas Day. Our first Christmas on the road, we wound up on Christmas day at a really shabby Denny's near Orlando, and we didn't want to risk that kind of thing happening again.
We also went to a fun evening at Chula Vista Presbyterian Church called "Ring in Christmas". Three churches combined for an evening of Christmas music, featuring about 7 hand bell choirs, a few vocal groups and some Christmas sing-alongs. It was a fundraiser for the San Diego area Interfaith Shelter Network, a cooperative volunteer effort of over 100 churches to provide shelter and resources for homeless people who are motivated to stop being homeless. Last year, they served about 250 folks, and "graduated" over half of them into income-producing lives in independent homes. Good cause, good fun.
We also visited our dentist across the border in Mexico a couple of times for general maintenance work. Didn't do a lot for our Christmas mood, but we felt better equipped to be able to eat better (not to mention well).
When we were here almost a year ago, Judy was nursing her sprained ankle, so we didn't do a lot of touristy stuff. We intended to make up for that this visit - there's so much to see and do in the San Diego area. But we had some rainy days, some chilly days, and managed to get distracted by Christmas. Basically we didn't do a whole lot besides go to the San Diego Zoo a couple of times. Our slideshow this time is almost exclusively animal pictures.
As we roam about, we get to visit a lot of churches. One of the nicest is the afore-mentioned Chula Vista Presbyterian Church, about 15 miles from the RV park. They have 3 services each Sunday - a contemporary service, a traditional service and a Spanish-language service. We go to the middle one. There are about 30 folks in the excellent Chancel Choir, they have at least three hand-bell ensembles, and an organist who really knows how to work the pipes. The Pastor delivers meaningful messages that actually help us stay awake. And the people we meet are friendly and welcoming. We attended their 9pm Christmas Eve communion service. Neat place.
Christmas Day, we drove about an hour north to Oceanside CA for a wonderful dinner at a restaurant named "333 Pacific", which also happens to be the address. It's a trendy place across the street from the ocean, with an apparently locally-famous chef. Nice view, spectacular food (and a price tag to match). Hundreds of times better than two years ago in Orlando (though not as much fun as Jan and Denny's last year).
Essentially, we ended our year at Pio Pico, although technically we spent the last 2 days in Palm Springs. It's been quite a year. We spent our first winter in the Southwest, managed to take a cruise to Mexico (we've always wanted to do that), took another cruise to Alaska (always wanted to do that too), spent some time with Wes and Vendy Lockard at their place in Estes Park CO (way overdue), visited many places we'd never been before, and managed to visit most of the west coast relatives at least once. In a full year on the road, we've driven the motorhome almost 8,000 miles - without going further east than Denver. We bought 1,142 gallons of motorhome fuel at an average of $2.46 a gallon, but we averaged only 7.09 miles per gallon (too many mountains). We spent an average of $6.26 a night to park the RV, including the dues in various clubs and organizations that get us low- or no-cost nights. We bought another 637 gallons of gas for our PT Cruiser, which we drove almost 15,000 miles just running around. Between the RV and the car, we almost drove around the world this year (impressed us).
Looks like 2010 will be another year in motion. From Palm Springs, we'll make our way to South Texas and Louisiana. Come spring, we'll probably zig-zag our way north from New Orleans to Upper Michigan, then be back in the southwest by fall, and probably back in Southern California sometime early in 2011. Or maybe not - we like to think we're flexible.
We're often asked where we'll settle down when we stop roaming. We haven't thought about that much - we're no where near being ready to think about becoming more sedentary. Newton's second law and all that. In reality, we probably should be developing an "exit strategy", so we have some idea of why (and maybe even where) we'd put on the brakes. But, as Scarlet O'Hara said, "We'll think about that tomorrow."
On Dec 29, we drove over the mountains to Palm Springs CA for New Years, and we'll cover that stop as our first report of the new year. Meanwhile, click here to ;see some of the pictures we took as we Christmased in the San Diego area.