Saturday, November 30, 2013

Our Thanksgiving

We were very glad to be able to see so many relatives over the Thanksgiving Weekend.  We have really enjoyed our time in the San Diego area.

We are staying at the Admiral Baker RV park not far from Qualcomm Stadium.
To start the long weekend off right, we were able to play golf Wednesday afternoon with cousin Kevin at Mission Trails Golf Course.
That was followed on Thanksgiving Day by brunch over at Kevin and Sue's place.
Two of their four boys were there (Trevor and Tristin).  Cameron and Kyle (there other two spent Thanksgiving in Michigan where they are working/going to school.  We watched the Detroit Lions take care of business.

Then it was over to Rob and Chris' out in Del Mar for the rest of the day.
We had a nice meal but saved enough room for the big event on Friday, when 20 people were there.  It was the first time everyone had been together since Robb's brother Matt and Sierra got married in September.

We had some of the Warners, Lovelaces, Crums and other relatives represented there.  It was fun to meet everyone and learn more of the family and extended family.  While Rob cooked the turkey on the grill, the rest of us were hanging out.
It was quite a production, but they made it look pretty easy...especially for those of us that were just watching..
The furniture was rearranged a bit, the dinner table was set up
We said grace, Rob gave a toast...
And we stuffed ourselves!
After dinner, we gathered for a group photo
all went for a walk around the block.

When we returned, Sierra set up Chromecast and we saw some pictures of Matt and Sierra's honeymoon and a great video of their wedding.
We did some more interacting before we said good night.  It was a memorable time and nice of Chris and Rob to host us all.

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving too!

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankfulness

Happy Thanksgiving!
I hope this holiday season is a good one for you.  
I love Thanksgiving!  I love how we are reminded of all the things we have to be thankful for and most everyone seems to be in a good mood.  Its a fun time of the year.

This time last year we were in Florida enjoying some warm weather and heading from central to south Florida.  At that time, we were away from friends and family.  

This year it is quite different.  The weather is nice again, but we are in southern California and seeing friends and family.  And we are very thankful for that.  As I have said many times, this is one of the big benefits our the RV lifestyle and life on the road.

We have already seen quite a few nephews and nieces and will be at Rob and Chris' here in the San Diego area (actually Del Mar) for Thanksgiving.  They will have quite a houseful with family and extended family so we are looking forward to seeing everyone.

And Thanksgiving Day this year also falls on the first day of Hanukkah which will not happen again.
Read about the reason here. 
Be safe and enjoy the long weekend!

Until next time...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Time in San Diego

We arrived on Tuesday from Seal Beach and got all set up at the Admiral Baker RV Park.
It is run by the Navy but in an area next to the golf course that is open to public.  The weather has been a little cloudy with some light showers, so that is a little different.  Over the past few weeks, we have had only a little rain here in Southern California.
The clouds make for some great sunsets.

Part of our usual routine in the first couple of days at a new place is to go check out the local area.  We have done that.  We found the commissary and exchange and bought some groceries.  The holiday season is in full bloom so to speak.  Got to like that -- most people are in a good mood and it seems there is a little excitement and good will in the air.

One thing we noticed about this are is the fast pace.  To drive these highways and byways, you really have to get your game face on.  And get in to the flow to keep up with traffic! Yikes!  None of this---um... "Lets amble over there and take our time finding this place..."  It's more like, "Let's figure out a plan, get in the correct lane and stay out of people's way!  zoom! zoom!

As you might expect, that is one of the down sides of being in Southern California.  There are also a lot of people here!  But that is why we are here-- to see people.  A couple of days ago, my cousin Kevin came over for lunch and we chatted for a couple of hours.  We were supposed to go play golf with his Men's Group at the Admiral Baker Golf Course, but it got rained out.  But is was great to see Kevin.  We'll get to see wife Sue this weekend and maybe a couple of their grown kids.

And we are figuring out the best time to see Rob and Chris and their kids.  We will be celebrating Thanksgiving (on Friday) with them and some other relations, but hope to see them other times also.  And we have some old friends from our days in Hawaii who live here and hope to get together with them.

So despite the fast pace and traffic, it is worth it all.  Plus it just adds to the RV experience if you know what I mean.

Life goes on and we are in a good place at the moment.  But we are very aware of others who face some challenging times and have some things going on.  Life on the road is not always 'the never ending vacation' though it may sound that way to some folks at times.

Which brings me to good friends Cathy and Tom.  They are in Nashville where their son lives.  He has a place there and they are doing some home remodeling projects.  At least Tom is.  Cathy went in for routine blood work and found out she has AML - Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  They immediately hospitalized her and put her on an intensive chemotherapy treatment.  My purpose here is to ask all my God-fearing readers and friends to join us in praying for her and Tom and their son.  This is serious stuff and we are praying for full recovery.  She has a tough road ahead, but I want to enlist your encouragement and support and prayers on their behalf.

When you get news like that, everything else pales in comparison.  But please keep her in mind.  Often.

Meanwhile, we have been over to Coronado Island and checked out the new RV park that has construction delays.  Now they are estimating it will be open in February 2014.  We also checked out the golf course over there.  We played there about 4 years ago and might do it again while we are here.

We've also been to the Mission of San Diego (more on that in another post) and yesterday we went to went by Torrey Pines site of the 2008 U.S. Open.  Some of my favorite golfers grew up in this area including:
Phil Mickelson at Torrey Pines in his younger days

We also went to Old Town San Diego.  We were last here when Adam and Kelly came out to see in our first year on the road.
Still a nice afternoon with museums and shops and a great Mexican Restaurant where we had lunch yesterday.

That's if for now on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Thanks for joining us.  Until next time...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Richard M. Nixon Museum

We continued on our quest to see all the Presidential Museums and Library's by taking a day trip over to Yorba Linda, CA a few weeks ago.
Our visit there finished up our stops for the Presidential Museums in California.

As we approached the Nixon Museum, I my mind riveted back to two images of him over the years:

  • The "I am not a crook" words he uttered during Watergate, and
  • The photo of utter and complete grief of him during the funeral of Pat Nixon.
I always wonder if the place we visit will be anything like my expectations or what I image it will be like...

We arrived late morning and my first thoughts were that it was in a mostly residential neighborhood where it was located.  I don't recall ever being in Yorba Linda, but it was a quite different than the Reagan Library site.  The Reagan Library is off the freeway up on the top of a mountain in Simi Valley.

The Nixon Library was easy to find and we started our exploring.
I like the open feeling of the buildings and grounds.  It wasn't particularly large, but we both thought it was very well done.
I really liked the replica of the East Room of the White House.  
The early years were a look into a family that did better during the depression years than many folks.
His father built the house he was born in and had a grocery store in Yorba Linda.
He was able to go to nearby Whittier College in 1934 and graduated from Duke Law School before returning to California to practice law.
He and Pat Nixon married in 1938.  They moved to Washington DC in 1942 and worked in the Price Administration before joining the Navy.  He was anxious, "...to get into the action" but never saw action.  He was assigned to administrative posts during the war and resigned his commission after it was over.

He was recruited to run for Congress and was successful in 1946.  He served on various committees, gaining a name for himself on the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigating Alger Hiss spy case.

In 1950 he was elected to the Senate and became Eisenhower's running mate in 1952, serving eight years as Vice President.
Then he ran for president again John F. Kennedy.  Though he lost, he was part of the history making event known as the televised Presidential Debates.  After the assassination of JFK, Lyndon Johnson became a one-term president as the unpopular Viet Nam War took its toll.

In 1969, Nixon defeated Hubert Humphrey and third-party candidate George Wallace and became our 37th president.
Some of his legacy apart from Watergate included:
  • Opening China, becoming the first president to visit there
  • Ending the Viet Nam War directing negotiations by Henry Kissinger in Paris
  • SALT I talks and the Anti-Ballistic Missile agreement with Brezhnev and the Soviet Union
  • Restarting the stalled Middle-East peace talks
We left the library with a renewed sense that history and justice does prevail in our country.  And the flaws of our presidents will come to light in the larger context of their life and service.

Appropriately, this museum gave extensive space to Watergate coverup and trial.
It did not avoid it or ignore it which culminated in his resignation in 1974 - becoming the first and only President in U.S. history to do so.

The museum also gave a broader background and foundation to the full life of Richard M. Nixon.  Especially after he resigned.  He wrote nine books and took a number of diplomatic trips overseas.  In 1977, he granted a series of 90 minute interviews with David Frost which began re-entry into public life.
In 1986, he was on the cover of Time magazine.
His wife Pat died in 1993 and he died in 1994.
We were glad to see the museum and thought it was among the best we have seen.  So far I think the Ronald Reagan museum is our favorite, maybe followed by this one.  It was a couple of hours we are glad we spent there.

That's all for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Thanks for joining us!  Until next time...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Seal Beach Days

We have had a great time in California and are enjoying our time in Seal Beach.
One good thing about it is the campground. The Sea Breeze RV Resort Park is one of the best we've been to.

The campsites are large and level, the laundry is free it is right on the edge of the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge.

It is also centrally located for our needs.  We are fairly close to shopping and the airport and some nice areas to visit.  Like Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Pasadena, Yorba Linda and La Mirada.

Over the past couple of weeks we checked out the Los Angeles AFB in San Pedro CA which is about 30 minutes away and decided we didn't want to put family up in quarters over there. (Planning for Christmas visitors).  On the way over there to check it out, we passed over some big bridges in Long Beach.  Wow!  What a sight with all the shipping and containerized business in the port.

We've also been to Pasadena for a large swap meet at the Rose Bowl.  Getting to see the inside of the stadium was awesome! The swap meet around the parking lot of the stadium reminded us of the swap meet at Aloha Stadium.  We didn't find anything there we couldn't do with out.

Right after I returned from Sioux Falls on Thursday, we went over to the grand opening of the new Chick-Fil-A restaurant in Seal Beach.
We were excited to see Scottie, the new owner/operator.
He lived in Virginia Beach a few years ago. In fact, we stayed in his beach house the very night before we went to purchase our Allegro Bus in May 2009.

We have driven over to Huntington Beach to check out the ocean and do some shopping (Dicks Sporting Goods) and to see the area.  Lots of RVs were lined up in the parking lot RV campground on the beach.  Looked pretty windy but it was beautiful.
We were near Huntington Beach last week when we ate at Applebee's on Veteran's Day.

We drove 30 minutes to spend the day at the Richard Nixon Museum and Library in Yorba Linda which was very well done.  I liked it a lot and it is one of my favorite Presidential Museums to day.
More on that on another post.

Yesterday we drove over to La Mirada and attended the church were nephews Ben and Nate (and their families) attend.  Nice communities in these parts.  The areas we have been to seem to be well maintained, in mostly nice areas.

Each day has been a little different, but yesterday we had a leisurely morning as we showered and got ready for church.  We drove from Seal Beach over to La Mirada and met our two nephews at their church.  We hit the jackpot because it was 'pot luck' Sunday and we got to have lunch and meet their friends.  We enjoyed that.

Next, we went over to Walmart, picked up some things and then found a Dick's Sporting Goods in Huntington Beach.  We exchanged a Women's Small golf glove for a Medium size.  (Happy Birthday Pam!)
Then we took the Pacific Coast Highway from Huntington Beach to Seal Beach and saw some beautiful beaches on a nice day.

After some football watching, we went over to Joe's Crab Shack for dinner.
 It is on the marina in Long Beach.
They weather has been fabulous and we are glad to be here.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saga in Sioux Falls - Renewing My Drivers License

Five years ago when we first checked out becoming a resident of South Dakota, we thought I may have to be in South Dakota in the winter time to get my drivers license since my birthday is in April.  They allow you to renew up to six months before your birthday.  It was time for me to renew, so I flew to Sioux Falls to do it.

Here's my saga, the short story:
On Tuesday, I flew from Orange Country Airport (Irvine, CA) to Sioux Falls, SD.  I got my license renewed on Wednesday, spent Wednesday night with friends (Steve and Therressa) and flew back to Orange County (John Wayne) Airport where Pam picked my up.  I am now back at Seal Beach Weapons Training Station (Navy) campground.

Here's the longer version:
I had a 11:00 AM departure from Orange County (John Wayne Airport) in Irvine.  Pam dropped me off.  I went over to the Frontier Airlines e-ticket kiosk and checked in and then over to the TSA security lines.

The security line was long but moved quickly.  I got a finger scan on what looked like an iPad and the TSA person checked my ID card with my boarding pass.  I didn't have to take off my shoes.  Only my belt and had to take out my laptop.  Moved through the line without incident and proceeded to my gate.
I had an energy bar which I ate for lunch on the plane.  I asked for coffee and decided against it when it cost $1.99.  I wanted some coffee but balked at the principle of the thing.  Times are changing.  I decided to do without.

After a snooze and some reading on my iPhone, we landed at Denver International Airport (DIA).  I went to Air Force training in the 1970's when they had a USAF base here which was before this huge airport was built.
At DIA, I had a meal at Panda Express that was pretty good.  I also was surprised at scarcity of outlets in the waiting areas where I could recharge my iPhone and plug in my laptop.  They did have a free 'Power Up Area' with six stools but they were all taken.  I brought a 'Y' pigtail cord to double up on a connection once I got an outlet at a payphone.

I arrived in Sioux Falls and picked up my Hertz car which was a Hyundai Accent compact.
Nice little car.  Even though it was only 100 feet outside the terminal, it was 28 degrees outside!  Yikes.  Reminded me of Santa Fe and Albuquerque at this time of year.

I went over to my Ramada Inn - no frills room.  It was warm and clean and the bed was fine.

Wednesday morning I checked out and noticed on my Hotwire confirmation receipt that there was no where that it had my South Dakota address.  I talked with the manager who was coming on duty and she said she could not add my address to the receipt, nor could she print out one with a zero balance that had my South Dakota address.

Ugh oh - the fun begins!

Hmmm.  But she did write a note on my Hotwire printout that said I stayed there the previous night.
I had an appointment (which you can make online)
I arrived a few minutes early and walked right up to the counter.  The lady was very polite and business like.  And she found me out.
I did not have a hotel/motel (or RV park) receipt with my South Dakota address.  I explained my situation.
She said showed my a print out of the web page.  Confirmation of receipt from third party (like Hotwire) was not proof.  Period.
She asked her co-worker standing there and then went back to her supervisor and asked if what I had would suffice.

Her demeanor changed when she returned.  She said I "had no document proving my local address".  I summoned all my polite, here's what I tried to do, here's what I did and here is my sad situation.
No dice.
I finally said, "I guess I have to rent a hotel room, get a receipt which shows my local address (where I just stayed). I won't be staying there tonight, I made arrangements to stay with friends. So I pay an extra $75 for a room I will not use?"  I asked her what else I could do?

She said, "My boss said Ramada Inn is not providing customer service.  They should print a receipt for you.  But that is for you to work out".
She was unsympathetic and also said, "You need to bring in all required documents before we can proceed.  Up to you how you want to do that."

Hmm...

I went back to the Ramada and talked the same manager who was there earlier.  She was very surprised sympathetic but could not print out a receipt for the night I stayed there with my address.  I didn't understand why not but she said had no way of knowing how much I really paid for my room on Hotwire.  

As they say in the cockpit in stressful times, "I was out of air speed and ideas", so I paid me the lowest cost she could give me.  For a room I did not use.  And I got my receipt with my local address at a cost of $50.62.  That combined with my Hotwire cost for my previous night ($50.22) came to a total of $100.84 to get my address document.

I could have gone online and gotten a $75 room at Ramada (plus tax) by going direct and saved about
$25.
So I tried to save $25 and it cost me $25 more.  But there's more... (see P.S. below)

I returned to the Driver's License place and filled out one form.
It didn't take 20 minutes to hand over all the documents which got scanned and get a new picture taken.  While there I asked about 'Online Renewal'.  A friend sent an email last week and said I could do that.  Turns out I tried it but could not.

Now that all my documents are scanned, I have a Gold Star on the right top corner of my license which means in five years, I can renew it online.  I won't have to be there in person.  

I was done by 9:15 even though I had to go back to the Ramada and pay for a room and get the receipt.
Next I went over to Alternative Resources and picked up my mail.
They are in business to accommodate and Full-Time RVers so I was going to suggest they highlight this kind of situation and get the word out.  They have a monthly newsletter.
Interestingly they said, "Oh -- you should have come by here, I think we could have found a way to get your local address on a receipt..."

Hmm... 

That never occurred to me and not sure I would want to go that route, but she did say they work with two local motels and a campground that have no problem putting your local address on the receipt.

  • Guest House Inn and Suites (3101 W. Russell St, Sioux Falls SD, 57107) (605)338-6242 - Cost including tax: $66.61
  • Fairfield Inn (4501 W. Empire Place, Sioux Falls, SD, 57106) (605)361-2211 - Cost including tax: $86.32
Wish I had know that...
But hopefully those of you that are in similar situations may find the info useful...


I spent the rest of the day with Steve and Therressa and stayed at their place.  Nothing like seeing good friends from way back and enjoying the day with them.  I filled up the car that evening so I was ready to go.  I noticed I did not have a boarding pass for the two legs of the flight, but figured I'd just print it out on the e-Ticket kiosk.

I got up early and showered and was at the Sioux Falls/Joe Foss Airport at 4:45 AM for a 6:30 AM departure.  The Hertz counter was not open but I noted the mileage and marked it on the card and dropped off the keys.

I went over to the Frontier ticket area and made some observations:

  • No e-Ticket kiosk available.  Ugh...!  Have to wait in line.  Another reason to arrive early.  Give myself some margin which cuts down on the stress.  No worries.  I got up to the counter after about 15 minutes and got my boarding passes.
  • A number of people in front of me were paying $45 or $50 they did not plan on.  Those checked bags cost $$$!  Sad thing was that too many folks were surprised.  And mad about having to pay the extra bucks.  At that point what are you going to do?  Probably vow never to fly Frontier again!  It would not surprise me if most airlines are charging comparable prices on checked bags.
I asked the person at the counter about no e-Ticket kiosk and she said to complain to Frontier corporate.  They would not put one in there because Frontier only has one flight a day out of there.


Next, I went through TSA security.  It was busy and reminded me of a few years ago.  Everyone had to take off their shoes.  It was pretty fast but crowded.  I got to my gate in plenty of time.  I got a large cup of Caribou Coffee (at $2.25 which was the best deal on the menu).  Then I proceeded over to a seating area with some plug-ins.  Wanted to have my iPhone fully charged before the flight.
The seating areas had lots of these charging stations.  Most were empty.  Nice to know.  I got on the flight and took a nap en route to Denver.
Ended up near the same gate I had a couple of days ago.  I had enough time to hit the Men's Room and quickly get on board for the return leg.  Best seat of the trip.  Window seat on an Exit Row.

Pam was their to pick me up at the Orange County Airport and we got back to the coach about 11:30 AM Thursday.

Mission Accomplished!  
I was successful on a number of accounts:

Purpose of the trip:

  1. Renew my Driver's License
  2. Pick up mail at Alternative Resources, including my plastic cap ends for the air/brake line hoses on our RV Air Force 1 (SMI Auxiliary brake)
  3. See friends Steve and Therressa (life long residents of Sioux Falls)

My approach was to get ready for the trip:

  • Get information on South Dakota Driver's License Renewal
  • Purchase Airline Tickets and Car Rental:  Hotwire and Kayak-
  • Check the weather
  • Check with Alternative Resources in case there is anything I need to do
  • Assemble Documents for driver's license renewal
  • Get a small backpack/laptop carry on

Having just finished it all, I would have done things a little differently and have my recommendations:
  • Visit the South Dakota website so you now what you need
  • Pre-print all boarding passes for all legs of the trip
  • Hand carry a small back pack or small suit case.  Do not check a suitcase unless you absolutely have to.  $$$
  • Stay with a friend (cheapest way to do it, or use one of the motels/hotels can print out a receipt with your address.
  • Give yourself some margin  and time for a contingency.  I could have gotten it all done with one overnight stay, but it was nice having the extra night. It could have been more intense if I had to arrive in Sioux Falls one day and fly out the next.
  • Check to see if you can renew online and avoid a special trip 
P.S.  -
As I go through this post and link some web sites I hope you find useful, I found out I could have stayed one night with my friends.  All I had to do is have them complete a "Consent of Use For Address Form".  Steve would have been more than glad to do that and help me out by going through the whole process with me.

That would have saved me the cost of the Hotwire and face-to-face reservation.

Note to self:  when researching, read all related information.... or better yet, have Pam take a look also.  She doesn't miss that kind of stuff.

That's how it went down on my Driver's License Renewal.

Thanks for joining me on this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!  If you have some ideas or helpful hints to share, please share!

Until next time...