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Dec 1 - Jan 2 - Southern California and WARM!

Our December turned out to be more eventful and more expensive than we anticipated, but at least we were warm most of the time. Read on.

On Sunday Dec 1, we hooked up and left the 1000 Trails Morgan Hill Resort (36), headed south. Almost immediately, the GPS navigation software running on the laptop started locking up. We eventually gave up and shut the laptop down. Fortunately, we knew where we were going, and by mid-afternoon had settled in at the Flying Flags RV Resort in Buellton CA (37) for an overnight stay.

Al started up the laptop to try and fix whatever had happened, but the computer wouldn't reload Windows. A phone call to Acer tech support didn't make any progress, and finally the tech said we'd have to ship the computer in for servicing, a process that would leave us computer-less for about two weeks. Since we couldn't exist without a computer that long, we made a quick trip to the nearest Best Buy store (near Santa Barbara) to seek a replacement. A couple hours and several hundred dollars later, we came home with a new Toshiba laptop. Al spent much of the evening getting familiar with the Windows 8 operating system and loading essential software. When everything seemed to be working well, we crashed for the night.

Next morning, we fired up the new computer, hooked up the car and headed out. Almost immediately, the GPS navigation software locked up. As we were heading into the most stressful part of the trip - Los Angeles area traffic - we wrote down all the turn-by-turn instructions for the day and Judy assumed the role of navigator. It was a long and stressful day, but by mid-afternoon we'd settled in at the 1000 Trails Pio Pico Resort (38), a little east of Chula Vista and a little north of the Mexican border. We'd be at Pio Pico for almost 3 weeks, primarily so Al could get some significant dental work done.

Our first cross-border visit to our family dentist, Dr Veronica Hernandez, revealed that Al was in for more dental work than any of us had expected. Veronica assured us we could get it all done in the time we had. Turned out we couldn't, but we got started anyway.

Later than same day, Al started preparing the Acer laptop for shipment to the service facility in Texas. Much to our surprise, the laptop started right up and seemed to be working fine. Gnashing of teeth ensued, which quickly stopped when it occurred that gnashing might lead to even more dental work. We decided that we liked the new Toshiba much better, so Al cleaned the Acer up, reloaded it, and got it ready to sell. We'll list it on Craig's List and post ads in the RV parks we visit, and see what happens.

We've gotten into a bit of a rut - when we go back to someplace we've been, we tend not to explore again. In an effort to change that, we're resolving to be on the lookout for new things to see or do when we visit familiar cities. To that end, one sunny day we drove into San Diego and toured the aircraft carrier USS Midway.

The Midway was built during WW2, but wasn't commissioned until just after the end of the war. At the time, it was the biggest aircraft carrier ever built. It was the first ship built too big for the Panama Canal, and for the first ten years of its life, was the largest ship of any kind in the world. It served actively in the Pacific Ocean until being decommissioned in 1992. Since 2004, it's been a floating museum, tied up on the San Diego waterfront just across from the San Diego Naval Base, where today's active aircraft carriers are based.

It's truly a floating city. Just over 1000 feet long, with 18 decks, she carried a crew numbering between 4500 and 5000. The flight deck is just over four acres. The two anchors weigh 20 tons each, and it carries almost a half-mile of anchor chain. Touring all of such a craft takes more energy that we could muster, but we managed to see a lot. We've got some pictures (naturally) in our slideshow.

The past few years we've tried to visit community giving trees to pick deserving kids, and then buy toys for them. We then give those toys in the names of our seven grand-nieces and -nephews on Judy's side of the family, plus Brian and Laura Pierson, our surrogate niece and nephew. Took most of a day to find the things that would help make a Merry Christmas for kids who otherwise might not get very many gifts. And we got some warm fuzzies as well.

One Sunday, there was the annual Christmas Cantata at the Chula Vista Presbyterian Church. They chose a challenging cantata by Verdi, and frankly weren't quite up to the challenge. But it was enjoyable none the less. Later that day, we went to a free outdoor Christmas concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. In addition to that marvelous pipe organ, we were treated to the San Diego Harmony Ringers, an excellent handbell choir.

On Saturday the 21st, we hooked up and drove about 100 miles northeast to the 1000 Trails Wilderness Lakes Resort (39) at Menifee CA, where we'd end the year. Again, the GPS navigation on the laptop locked up and Judy took over as navigator. We should have been able to resolve that at Pio Pico, but Pio Pico is in a cell phone hole - no cell service and precious little Internet, making it hard to get tech support. We'd have better luck at Wilderness Lakes.

On Monday the 23rd, we made a fast trip back to our dentist to get some of Al's new bridgework fitted. It was tiring day, involving a nearly 2 hour wait to get back into the US, followed by a drive through San Diego rush hour traffic to get back home.

Our Christmas Eve and day were relatively quiet. We went to an excellent Christmas Eve service at Grace Presbyterian in Temecula, talked to most of the relatives gathered at various places around the country (none of whom had weather as good as ours), and watched and listened to most of the excellent Christmas music programs on PBS.

After Christmas, Al spent a half-day working with various tech support folks to finally get the GPS navigation software working and stabilized. We tested it in the car on a 25 mile shopping trip, and it worked perfectly. Fingers will, however, be crossed when we next move the motorhome. Also, the day after Christmas, we had the RV washed, waxed and detailed by the guys who've been doing it for us for the past several years. Looks almost like new!




Our new thing to see while at Menifee involved a 50 mile drive to Yorba Linda CA to visit the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, Museum and birthplace. Following Nixon's resignation, backers of the library were unable to find anyplace that wanted to host it. Nixon wasn't particularly well regarded then. After several years, the City of Yorba Linda stepped up and offered a city park that also housed the Nixon family home where the future President was born. So the museum today is situated on the former Nixon family citrus farm.

As one would expect, the museum's displays focus on Nixon's pre-Presidential years and the many notable things he accomplished while in office - ending the Vietnam War, establishing diplomatic relations with China, and putting the first men on the moon, to name a few. But one whole gallery is devoted to Watergate, and it's a pretty objective telling of the story. Many of the Nixon aides who were involved have provided video interviews, and you can even listen to the famous 18 1/2 minute gap in the tape, and hear the pops and clicks that led analysts to conclude that the tape had been deliberately erased.

Early on New Years Eve, we made one (hopefully) last trip to our dentist in Mexico for the final fitting of Al's new bridgework. We were home again by 1:30pm, and Al pretty much crashed while Judy did some laundry. We watched the Times Square ball drop on the least obnoxious show we could find (it wasn't easy). And we started the new year doing what we do a lot - enjoying the weather, riding our bikes around the RV park, and generally kicking back. We hope the new year brings us much more of that.

Every time we return to Southern California, we have to relearn the rules of driving. We don't know if these rules are unique to SoCal, but to us they seem to be more rigorously applied. The primary rules seem to include:

1. Use of turn signals generally indicates a lack of confidence in where you're going.

2. No matter how fast you go, somebody will pass you.

3. If you are more than 30ft behind the car ahead, somebody will pull into that space (without signaling).

4. A posted speed limit is merely a suggestion, often interpreted as a minimum speed.

5. A change in color of a traffic signal from green to yellow is considered purely decorative.

So now maybe we'll remember.

On January 2, we drove the 70 miles around the mountain to Palm Springs CA. But that's for our next report.

Only about 59 pictures in our slide show this time. Check them out here.


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