Three Weeks Slip By

The days have slipped by and it is now over three weeks since the last update.  The cause for this is not writer’s block, but it appears that when we land in one place for a while, life falls into a routine of sorts.  The daily events loose something and seem unworthy of recording in this log.  However, over a period of time enough accumulates for a good read.  So, here goes:

Baby Erika continues to be a healthy, active baby.  Since she was born early, her birth weight was a little light, just over five pounds, but she has rapidly gained weight and now seems normal in all respects.  Her life is off to a good start and we marvel at how she changes every day.

For the most part, the weather has been beautiful.  Except for a very few rainy days, the weather has been sunny and warm.  This year the rain/sun cycle has been perfect and the hills are covered with a green carpet.  The oak trees are in the middle of a winter growth spurt and the leaves of the sycamores turned a golden brown.  Patches of land that are rock hard in the summer are now knee deep with grass.  Even the paddle cactus seems happy.

Our life here has fallen into a routine and every other day starts with the workout.  The mornings have ranged from the high 30s to the high 60s, so we have to dress accordingly.  Running conditions are perfect.  The sun warms you while the cool, dry air keeps you cool.  This is certainly a welcome change from Florida, where the humidity conspires with the broiling sun.  Anyway, our running has improved and the workout helps keep us fit.

We continue to move ‘stuff’ from the coach to storage.  The latest additions to storage were some chairs, CDs, tapes, lantern, hand warmer, spotting scope, etc.  It is amazing how much space this frees up.  I have no idea how much all this stuff weighs, but we won’t be carrying it around any more.  We still have a lot more to put into storage and estimate it will take about two days to go through it all.

We finally got around to some deferred vehicle maintenance on the Jeep.  In addition to a long overdue oil change, the tires needed attention.  Since we tow the Jeep behind the coach, it dawned on us how important tire maintenance is.  A TV camera on the back of the coach lets us keep an eye on the Jeep while traveling.  I joke that if I look at the screen and the Jeep is either missing or on its side sparking, we’re in trouble.  There is a lot of truth in this; A blowout on the Jeep would be disaster and for fuel economy, it is important to keep the Jeep tires balanced and aligned.  When we replaced the Jeep tires in June, we bought the lifetime rotation, balance and alignment package.  I had been noticing the Jeep ‘wandering’ a little while under tow, so it was probably time to have it serviced.  The local Firestone dealer took care of the problem.

We also took the coach in for a few warranty issues, the most annoying of which was the noisy water pump.  When living in a house, the water pump is usually far away at some pumping station maintained by the local water company.  In the coach, the pump is located under the living space.  Depending on conditions, the pump can either be whisper-quiet or noisy enough to wake the dead.  Usually the latter.  The technician was able to quiet it down a little, but it is still annoying.

When moving the coach for maintenance, we took the opportunity to top off the diesel and propane.  Combined with fueling the Jeep, we spent about $120 on hydrocarbons that day.  Ouch!  At least we’re now ready to roll when we pull out in January.

One day, Jeanne noticed the water pump cycling on and off every few minutes.  After investigation, it turned out I had not completely closed the shower faucet.  Normally, this would not be a problem since the water would run down the drain into the sewer.  However, the coach is a different situation since the shower water collects in the gray tank before it is dumped.  If left unattended, the tank would have overflowed and flooded the inside of the coach.  Yikes!  This time we averted disaster.  Lesson learned: shut off the pump and the outside water when leaving the coach.

One of our friends from the hunting and fishing club, Chris, announced a job transfer to San Antonio.  This will be a promotion for Chris and a great opportunity for him and his family.  We are really happy for them, but they will be missed by the club members.  One evening, there was a small going-away get together at the club to say goodbye.  In addition to seeing Chris and his wife Natasha, we got to see several of our club friends.  Except for the 3 1/2 hour drive through traffic, we had a great time.  We wish them well on their new life and expect to visit them sometime next year.

Our trips into Los Angeles remind us of why we decided to leave the area.  Trying to move around the city is almost impossible.  No wonder motorists here kill each other.  Visualize this:  take most of the young males aged 18 to 34, confine them to a restricted area most of the day, subject them to time, family and financial pressures, then turn them loose in gridlocked traffic with a 300 horsepower vehicle.  Voila!  Instant aggression!

On two occasions, we were invited to Andy and Dannette’s house.  The first time was for a wonderful steak and lobster dinner.  There is a backstory to the lobster:  it seems the neighbor girl who just got her driving license, backed her daddy’s car into Andy’s 1980-something El Camino.  The El Camino has seen better days and it was hard to determine if the crash caused any additional damage.  At the end of the day, Andy and the girl’s father did their best to scare her into a lifetime of safe driving practices.  The two guys winked at each other and went their separate ways.  The following day as a good neighbor gesture, the neighbor, who owns two fishing boats, presented Andy with a bag of frozen lobster tails.  Combined with some juicy steaks and a few cans of beer, we had a great dinner.  I told Andy to leave the El Camino parked where the girl can hit it again.

Our second visit was to celebrate Dannette’s 32nd birthday.  I had forgotten what a birthday party attended by 30-somethings can be like and this was a good reminder.  The details shall forever remain sealed in history; let’s just say a good time was had by all.

During the past three weeks, we made a few trips to the shooting range.  One was with with Steve and Cathy.  The trap range they took me to was located very near the ocean in a restricted-use area.  I am fortunate to have the opportunity to shoot there and it was a perfect day at the range with good friends.  Steve let me use his Remington 870 Wingmaster — every time I pick one of these up I’m reminded what a great gun it is.  We shot trap, skeet and even some international.  What a great day!

For the second shooting event, we took our friends Doug and Karen to the club property.  Doug and Karen are relatively new to shooting and had never shot clay targets before.  It was a perfect day at the property and after blasting 200 rounds at clays, we picked off the pieces with a scoped .22 rifle.  Upon our return to civilization we dined at La Cabana, a local favorite Mexican restaurant.  Needless to say, a good time was had by all.

We made three trips to West Los Angeles for medical appointments — mostly checkups and all were good reports.  On two of these trips, we stopped at FOX to visit with former co-workers and talk with my ex-boss Phil.  It was good to see the group again and generally everyone is doing well.  We spent as much time as we could to visit, but these folks were suppose to be working, so we had to keep it short.  We did get to lunch with Phil on the FOX lot.  I have worked for Phil for years, at two different companies, and always respected him for his skill and professionalism.  To be sure, there were times when I sensed he very much wanted to strangle me, but somehow we got through it.  I always appreciated his honesty and he was one of the very few people I’ve met who really did have the company’s best interests at heart.  I’m sure we’ll cross paths again in the future.

In retrospect, the FOX experience was interesting.  The nature of the business, cable television, attracts very bright and aggressive people.  The pace is fast and furious and the transactions can be complex.  Accounting for all this is challenging, frustrating, rewarding and futile.  It damn near killed me, but I did enjoy it in a strange sort of way.  I can say I made some very good friends and met some interesting people at FOX.  Sometimes, at the end of the day when I’m washing the splattered bugs form the front of the coach, I think about my work at FOX and marvel at how much my life has changed this past year.

One evening we were invited to David and Ellen’s home for a Christmas Party.  This is an annual event for a small group of Jeanne’s co-workers from the State Fund office in Ventura.  We have been attending these for years and it is always great to see everyone again and catch up on things.  This year, we were fortunate enough to be in the area for the gathering.  As usual, a good time was had by all and we very much enjoyed the evening.

The rest of our time was spent visiting with the family, Christmas shopping and hanging around the coach.

We are beginning to lay plans for our travels next year.  For now, we are paid up at our current location until January 12.  After that, we attend an FMCA rally in Indio, California before going to Quartzsite with the CHFC group.  From there our plans are vague at best, but I’m sure we’ll figure it out.  Bottom line: we’re eager to get back on the road.

Well dear readers, my apologies for the length of this update and the time between updates.  With Christmas and New Year quickly approaching things should start happening quickly and the updates should be more frequent.  Be patient, for before long you’ll be getting regular reports from the road.