Now in Phoenix, Arizona

Now in Phoenix, Arizona

We are now in Del Rio Texas

We are now in Del Rio Texas

La Jolla California – Tijuana Mexico

April 14 - 17, 2018:  

Patty was back to feeling sort of OK so we headed further south to the San Diego area on Saturday the 14th of June.  We have too missions while here, visit with Marge Lawless and her soon to be husband Doug in La Jolla near San Diego and to visit Tijuana Mexico.  We have known Marge since meeting her and her late husband Jim in the Yucatan 13 years ago and have stayed in touch since.  And Tijuana has just been sort of a bucket list thing.  

We had just 140 miles to travel to get to the Chula Vista KOA Metro RV Park in Chula Vista CA.  However, the trip which should have been about 2.5 hours took us a little over 5 hours due to a motorcycle accident near San Diego.  Still, this was a Saturday midday and would have never thought there would be this much traffic.  The traffic reminded us of going to the beach on the Garden State Parkway (GSP) in NJ on a Saturday morning in summer.  Can’t imagine the traffic on a regular work day!

LA from I-5 heading south to San Diego

Pacific Coast on I 5 south of LA

Traffic jam on I 5 just before San Diego on a Saturday Afternoon

We arrived at the RV Park about 4pm, got set up ate some dinner and then crashed for the day.  Patty was still recovering, or so we thought, from her hospital stay the day before.

Our site at the KOA in Chula Vista

Our plants love this weather

The next morning, Sunday, we were going to Marge’s house for lunch and some socializing but Patty was not feeling good at all.  Her blood sugar was through the roof again and she was having a hard time controlling it.  This just wasn’t right!  We now know for sure her insulin pump is not working correctly! Patty got in touch with the pump manufacturer, Medtronic, and they are sending her a new pump, it will be here tomorrow morning.  This is one of the reasons we now believe she had so much trouble the past week.  So we decided to just vegetate here at the RV and see what happens on Monday.

Now that we knew the pump wasn’t working she started to control her blood sugar with injections only.  She doesn’t do this very often so it took a bit to get her sugar level down without going too low.  She felt pretty good Monday morning before the pump arrived and even better after she got it!  She felt good enough that we finally went to Marge’s house a few miles away.

Our friends house overlooking the Pacific Ocean

We hadn’t seen Marge in person for over 10 years but have kept in touch on Facebook.  And we had not met her new guy Doug.  It’s amazing how FB keeps us all together.  It felt just like we had just been here a few months ago instead of years!  Marge is still a great friend to hang out with and looks fantastic.  Doug seems like the perfect match for her too.  We had a little wine (me root beer) before we decided to head out to a local bar and grille Marge and Doug recommended.  We had a great time and hope we get together again in the future and not wait over 10 years this time!

Our friends Doug and Marge

A pretty good representation of us

On Tuesday we went to Tijuana Mexico for our first time.  I did some research online before we went so I had some idea where we were going and how the best way was to get across the border on foot.  San Diego has a nice light rail line that takes you right to the border in fact just feet from the border.  The train has a stop in Chula Vista too with a train every 10-15 minutes!  The train is $5 for a day pass and $2 for the reusable card.  So the train cost us $14 total for the two of us round trip.  There is a parking lot near the border a little farther away and costs just $8 a day.  But I read that they have had lots of trouble with break-ins there.  So we decided to take the light rail and leave our truck in a nice safe free parking lot near the train and not deal with the traffic at the border.

The train station was about 15 minutes away and very easy to find and get parked, no hassles at all.  I bought the tickets and just 5 minutes later the train arrived.  

The train took about 15 minutes to arrive at the San Ysidro International Border station.  I had downloaded a walking map on to my phone to get us across the border and to the Avenue de Revolucion, the main tourist destination. The distance was about 3.7 miles to walk from the station.

The San Ysidro Station

The walkway to the Mexican passport control

After leaving the train station, it was a little disorientating as there was construction at the border crossing so my walking map was a little off.  However, we were so close that it didn’t take us long to figure it out. This is the first Mexican border crossing that we had to show our passports to get in.  Once we were into Mexico the walking map sort of was useful but there was construction on the Mexican side too!   

Along the walk to the passport control area there is a prairie dog city

Someone fed them a couple of crackers

Getting close

After a little back and forth and trying to look like we knew what we were doing we got to the area with the Libre taxis.  These are regulated so we weren’t going to get cheated or worse.  We had thought we may walk in but decided that the $3 taxi ride just might be worth it, and it was!  The walk would have been about 3 miles and a lot of urban uphill walking while dodging street vendors.

This is the traffic leaving Mexico in to the US.  I would not want to drive in that.

This the walkway toward the Avenue de Revolution.  Not real inviting

This is the taxi you want and not the other unmarked ones
We had heard a lot stories about how bad Tijuana had gotten in past years.  We are here to say that is definitely in the past.  The people are helpful and friendly and very much less in your face as it is in most of the other border crossings.  The streets are very clean too.  The prices were pretty in line with other border crossing but the variety of merchandise was much greater than any of the others we have been to. All in all it was great experience.

The arch is the landmark for the Avenue de Revolution.  If you get lost you are to head toward the arch

We had lunch at the Hotel Nelson.  It was windy and the air was a little cool coming off of the ocean. We wanted to sit outside in the sun but in the sun it was windy

Great food!  The salsa was so damn hot I could hardly eat it, but I did!

We eventually went up to this balcony to have a couple beers.  Note the guy waving at us trying to get us to come up for drinks.

The streets and sidewalks are extremely clean

Some art on the sidewalks

It looks like they are milk jugs.  I didn't know that until I looked at the pictures

This the place we had a couple beers on the balcony.  It is a nightclub.  This place looks as if it is hopping at night.  The border stays open until 10pm here.  I wouldn't be afraid to stay in a hotel here either.

Having a beer and people watching

This is sort of funny.  These are a group of Chinese tourists, part of a tour.  These musicians only came to play for this group.  It was probably billed as "be serenaded by local authentic musicians".

If you get in trouble you may end up here at the Tijuana Municipal building.

After a few hours we were ready to return to the US.  That was very easy too!  We just had to look at a taxi on the street and they would turn around and park right in front of you.  No hailing needed!

Now for the somewhat bad part of exiting Tijuana, the return line at the US Passport office.  The line was very long; it took us over an hour to get through.  We were here way before the tourist season so we just can’t imagine what it would be like then.  All of the passport control booths were open too.  It wasn’t like it would be faster if they opened more as they were already open!  They do accept Sentri passes and that would take off most of the wait.  It looks like if it would cost something like $100 for 3 years to get one.  If I was traveling across this border very often it would definitely be worth it to get one.

Long line leaving Mexico.  It took less than a minute to get through Mexican Passport control and over an hour to go through the US control.

Patty had left a bag at Marge’s house on Monday so after getting back to the truck we headed another 30 minutes to Marge’s house to retrieve it.  As we were heading back into San Diego we noticed that the other side of the highway was bumper to bumper with traffic.  Ah, rush hour had arrived as it was 5pm!

This guy got on our train heading back to Chula Vista.  He looked just like Patty's son Chas.  He only a little looks like him here but to see him in person he really did look like him.
After getting the bag from Marge’s, Patty plotted a course along the coast and directly through San Diego.  This route would keep us off the main highways but we would now be in the city.  We are not sure we saved any time but the sightseeing was great.  We had never been in downtown San Diego so this was a nice extra!

These are pictures of our bonus tour of San Diego.  This cruse ship does cruises of South America.

View of San Diego bay

Down town San Diego

We couldn't get a better picture but this is the aircraft carrier USS Midway docked in San Diego.  It is now a museum.  If we are ever here again I would love to visit this.

There are some tall ships in the bay too!

Very cool San Diego Convention Center

That was it for the San Diego and Tijuana Mexico visit. Wednesday the 18th of June we are heading toward our next stop, Yuma Arizona on I-8. 

Stay Tuned!

Vacation from RVing: PCH to Monterey and Yosemite National Park

April 7 - 14, 2018:  

We have been planning this short vacation trip for a while now.  The plan originally was to get a convertible and drive along the coast with the top open, real cool like.  However, we didn’t think about it being too cold this time of year to do that.  It’s not cold inland but not hot enough to make up for the cold Pacific air.  Inland the temperatures are in the low 70s and 50s at night.  The coast is still close to 40 at night with only low 60s in the daytime.  There is a lot of sun but really cold wind!  So we saved some money and got a full size regular car.

Our rental car for the trip, a Chevy Impala

We hadn’t gone anywhere away from the RV for some time, well since the Alaska trip last year.  We had a hard time getting into the travel by car mode.  We didn’t pack until just before we left so it took us a long time.  We really had not planned on the wide variations in temperatures this trip would involve.  Snow was predicted in Yosemite while we were there and it wasn’t looking good in Monterey either.  We were going to leave at 10am and we finally got moving about 11:30 am.

Seems Santa Barbara was having some sort of car show as we came through

PCH Coast pictures

Our first stop was going to be Hearst Castle about 150 miles north up the coast near San Simeon.  Since we were running late we went directly to the castle before checking into our hotel for the night in Cambria.  We arrived at the castle around 3pm and got into a tour group right away.  It was perfect timing.

Hearst Castle has 7 different tours; one for the main rooms, one for the upstairs bedrooms and suites, one called designing the dream, Hearst and Hollywood, Art of San Simeon, Cottages and Kitchens, and evening tour.  Each of the tours was priced around $25 each.  This is actually a pretty good deal as tours go today.  We took the main rooms tour as this is recommended for first timers like us.  The tour is about 2 hours long.

View on our way up to the castle.  Pacific Coast in the distance

We had no idea that this castle was this big and was built around the depression.  The first part being built before the depression and then finished just after WWII over a 30 year period.  The truly amazing thing is that this place was built in what is still the middle of nowhere.  And before the depression, it was even farther than nowhere!  Back before the depression, Hearst had to make his own electricity for the place.  He had a hydroelectric generation station just for the castle!  Even by today’s standards, this is beyond decadent!  

Many fountains around the castle

Another view from the castle to the Pacific ocean

An Olympic swimming pool that looks like it was in Greece.
It is even heated (and under repair)!

A view of the lower grounds looking up at the castle

A look at the front door of the castle.  Yes, that is gold!

The main foyer area with a fire place

The main dining room

The pool hall

The movie room

Tennis anyone?

Even an indoor heated swiming pool

After the tour, we got checked into our hotel and went for dinner.  It is a little different having to always go out to eat when we travel but this is a vacation!  We ended up at a nice seafood place overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  We got to have our wine and watch the sun go down over the ocean.  A great way to end day one of our little getaways.

Sign for our first night hotel in Cambria

Day 2 was going to be half driving north on the PCH and some time in Monterey.   It started out real good.  We weren’t but a few miles in and we see a few cars pulled over with people taking pictures.  That’s usually a good sign something is happening that we will want to see too.  At first, it looked like people were taking pictures of cows; not something that appealed to either of us.  At the last minute, we saw zebras and lots of them!  We were just south of San Simeon and Hearst castle so these were descendants of the zebras Hearst had here for his zoo.  How cool!

We went about 20 miles and pulled over to take a bathroom break and to maybe get gas at Ragged Point.  Yeah, well no on the gas as it was $5.34 a gallon!  We got our break in and got some fantastic views before heading out for a great drive through Big Sur.  This was the part of the trip on the PCH with the best driving views.

Views from the PCH coast line

A stop at Ragged Point on the PCH

A great place for lunch

Check out the diesel cost, $5.34!

We got another 10 miles north and were just settling in to the drive and the great views of the coast when we encountered a sign telling us that the road was closed ahead in 10 miles.  And it also said that there were no detours!  Well shit!  We kept driving and seeing the great views until we rounded a corner right at the entrance to Big Sur where we encountered barricades.  It seems that the road is closed due to a mud slide in Big Sur.  Now for the even worse part, we will need to back track to before where we stayed the night near Cambria, 31 miles!  Then we will travel 24 miles inland before heading north again!  It worked out to an extra 2 hours travel time and no great views!  Oh yeah, now I had to get some of that expensive gas in Ragged Point!  Just purchased $20!

The road is definitely closed

We arrived in Monterey about 2 in the afternoon and decided to have lunch on Cannery Row.  It was very windy with temperatures around 65.  It was damn uncomfortable to walk around in that cold wind.  We found a nice but a bit touristy place overlooking the Monterey Bay for lunch.

Welcome to Monterey

We walked the entire length of Cannery Row with the intention of going to the Aquarium.  I had gone 30 years ago and only remember it was a great experience.  This time, however, we couldn’t get over the high cost of a ticket to get in.  It was $49.95 each to visit an aquarium!!  We just couldn’t wrap our heads around visiting an aquarium for $100.  So we left and walked back to the car and headed to a hotel.

Cannery Row

Monterey Bay

Our lunch restaurant had these cool booth seats which overlooked the bay

Another disappointment was that there weren’t any sea lions or seals.  When I was here 30 years ago they were everywhere!  We didn’t see any at all!  The only animals we saw were tourists and birds.  I know the sea lions have been decreasing there but to not even see one!  So, for me, Monterey was not so much fun and not nearly as nice as I remember 30 years ago.  

We were going to Carmel by the Sea but Patty wanted to pass on that.  I had been there 30 years ago and thought it an interesting place.  We did drive the 17 mile Pebble Beach route and enjoyed that.  Nice views of the coast and of the great golf courses.  This is a residential neighborhood that they charge you $10.50 to drive through.  Even 30 years ago I remember paying to drive this.  It actually is worth the cost.

Views from Pebble Beach

NICE golf courses

After the driving tour, we headed to Yosemite National Park 185 miles to the east.  We had reservations at the Yosemite View Lodge just outside of the park, about 2 miles.  We arrived there with summer clothes on and it was windy and 60.  Yeah, we were cold! The room we had was nice and had a good size fridge so we could keep our drinks cold.  We checked in and had dinner at their restaurant which was pretty good.

View from our hotel near Yosemite

Dinner at the hotel

We are here way before the tourist season so there weren’t any crowds to speak of.  I just can’t imagine being here during tourist season though.  There is really only one main road in from the east and it is a slow winding road to the village.  Even if you are staying in the village it would be very hard to get around with loads of people.  We are so glad we went when we did.

We had great weather while we were there with temps in the low 70s during the day.  It quickly got cold after the sun went down though, close to 40 degrees.  The only bad part of being there this early was that the road to Glacier Point was still snowed in.  We still got to do quite a bit of hiking around the village and see most of the famous sites from there.  And we had no problem parking either which I don’t think would be even possible after Memorial Day.

The streams were really rushing from the spring snow run off

The waterfalls were in full flow too!

El Capitan!

Half Dome

A hike to Yosemite falls

A few whitetail deer

The famous Majestic Yosemite Hotel

We spent one full day in the park and one day exploring the town of Mariposa.  Mariposa is just a little tourist town on the west edge of the park.  We had come through there on our way in and it looked interesting to visit.  Actually visiting the town was a last minute idea.  We were going into the park on the first day and we were not dressed warm enough.  In the morning the temperatures were still in the low 50s with wind.  Too cold for us we so drove out of the park and then went to Mariposa for the day.  Mariposa was just ok.  We had a really good lunch at the 1850 bar and grille.  After lunch it took us about 2 hours to walk the main street and see all of the shops.  Again, in a couple of months this will be a hopping place!

Lunch at the Mariposa 1890 bar and grille

Downtown Mariposa

On our last evening after getting back from the park, Patty let me know she wasn’t doing well health wise.  Her blood sugar had been high for two days and now she was going to run out of insulin.  Not good at all.  She doesn’t have a syringe or any needed pump supplies to refill her insulin pump.  So even if we drove the 100 miles to the nearest Walmart for insulin, she has no way of using it!  Yeah it was also now 5pm and getting dark.  She wasn’t feeling sick form DKA (High Blood Sugar) yet but that was coming.  I suggested going to the local hospital in Mariposa but she didn’t want to do that.  So we went to bed and were going to wing it and drive the 5.5 hours back to LA tomorrow.

During the night she got sick around 2am.  Again not good at all!  By morning she was in full DKA.  We left the hotel at 9am and she lay down in the back seat with a barf bag for the duration.  As we approached our friends’ house where our RV was we headed directly to the local hospital.  

Los Robles hospital was great!  She was seen quickly and by 3 doctors in the first couple hours.  As I expected she was admitted and spent the night there.  By the evening the next day they released her and we headed back to our RV.

The hospital stay put us a day behind schedule but we can make it easily in the next month.  Our next stop is to see friends in La Jolla near San Diego.  After that we are headed back east toward Florida for house hunting.  We want to make sure we have enough time there to purchase a house.

Before we left our friends house in Newbury Park CA I took a couple of pictures of their beautiful gardens from their living room windows. 
Nice morning light coming in.

In summary, the Hearst Castle was great and worth visiting. The PCH drive was a little disappointing but we got a taste of driving the coast, all was good there.  Monterey wasn't worth the drive for me especially since there wasn't even sea lions to see.  The 17 mile drive Pebble Beach tour made up for Monterey a bit.  Yosemite was great but glad we went in the off season!  Patty getting sick was a bummer but has become normal now!

Stay tuned!