Thursday, October 31, 2013

In Moreno Valley

First of all:  Happy Halloween!
For some reason on this day I always remember this joke:  (suitable for 4 years +)
What did one hot dog say to another?
Happy Halloweenie!

I know this is a fun day for a lot of folks and it seems to me that it is becoming more of a celebration/fun day than it used to be.  And I remember it was Meghan's favorite day of the whole year.  Though I am not one to suit up for it, I can enjoy and smile with those who do!

We left our Port Hueneme campground on Monday about 9:00 or so and went over to the gas station on base before we hooked up.  There was only one diesel pump so we had to wait for our turn.  We inched our way into the lane with over 6" to spare on each side...  So we took it slow and filled up.  Spent $274.23 on tank that was a little less than half full.

I never like drive though busy big city traffic in the middle of the day with a 40' RV towing a car.  But our prayers where answered again and we arrived with no issues.  After four years driving the Roadrunner, I have confidence and love to drive this baby.  It reminds me of using a power tool ~ I like to use them, but I have a healthy respect for them which causes me to focus on being alert cautious.   And I don't want to careless or think the other drivers are always alert.  I don't trust them.

The stress level in busy traffic goes up and it is a bit draining.  We only drove about 130 miles in three hours.  All in all, it wasn't too bad and we got into the base and campground about three hours after we left Port Hueneme.

Our campground at March Air Reserve Base (ARB) in Moreno Valley is fine.  It has been upgraded and we are on a nice site.
There are some things that are so-so but, all in all, it is fine.  We find our campgrounds and the places we stay are usually not exceptional and for the most part have a lot of good things.   Some of the good things about this site are:

  • Flat and level spot
  • Concrete hard stand
  • 50 amp service
  • Very reasonable ($17/night)
  • Flowers! (I have never seen a with space in the middle, but someone planted some petunias which are nice.)
  • Mowed grass
  • Plenty of room between sites.
Some of the impressions of the place have to do with it being a Reserve Air Base (more on that on another post).  It is a small base on what used to be a huge base.  So there is a lot of downsized neighborhoods and empty buildings on base.  We are here for about a week so we can see friends in Redlands, CA (about 25 miles away).

We have spent the last couple of days getting acclimated to the area e.g. finding Post Office (where we picked up our mail), Sam's Club, Walmart, CVS, golf course, commissary, BX

In the last few days, I switched to Blogger+ and shared it.  I am not sure exactly what that does, so I gave it a try.  One thing I noticed was that fewer people commented.  I asked my friend Rick if what I did affected things.  As always, he was very gracious and responded quickly saying (if I understood it correctly) that by changing to Google+ I eliminated spam.  I also only can get comments from Google users.  I am not sure I like that -- forcing readers who want to comment to sign in with a Google+ account.  So I changed back.  We will see how that goes.  If you were affected, my apologies.

Another issue I have been having is not being able to hear incoming phone calls on my iPhone.  About three weeks ago, I changed over to iOS 7.  It is a new look and feel and I am getting more used to it.  I like it except the ring issue.  Another friend (John) offered to help.  He also came through!  In addition to helping me trouble shoot and fix my issue, he  recommended downloading the free iOS 7 user guide.  Here is a link.

Another thing we did yesterday was to call around and make campground reservations for some open dates we had for a few weeks December.  Now we are booked through the end of the year.

Hope you have a memorable and enjoyable Halloween.  Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Moving On From Port Hueneme

We have been in Port Hueneme for two weeks and we'll be heading down to the Riverside area later this morning.

We've liked it here in this area for a lot of reasons.
  • The campground is a good one.
  • Can't beat the weather.  Fall is coming and it has been very pleasant with no rain
  • Our internet and phone service have been good
  • We are near to shopping and places to see, things to do
    • Part of the 'getting settled in' task at each place is figuring out where the grocery store is and what is noteworthy in the area
    • We've seen and gotten to know some of the area: 
      • Places of Interest, Museums and historic places:  Ronald Reagan Library, port and beach at Port Hueneme, Mission at Santa Barbara
      • We visited a couple of swap meets
      • Golf and some good practice
  • Feel like we have gotten some things done:  
    • Planning for the holidays and winter and spring:  where we will be and reservations at campgrounds for the next couple of months
      • Riverside, CA area (San Bernardino, Redlands)
      • Seal Beach (LA area)
      • San Diego
      • Quartzite, AZ
      • Albuquerque, NM
      • Fort Worth, TX
      • Red Bay, AL
      • Maynardville, TN
    • Got caught up on our 'hang out time' and recharged our 'batteries 
      • Don't feel like we are rushed at the moment
      • In between my 'work for pay' P/T job at the moment but getting ready to gear up for it in the next few days
    • Phone session with my brother going through a thought provoking book, sending questions back and forth and then discussing them
    • Cleaned out some long neglected drawers and cupboards
      • Pam repaired the kitchen drawer that was separated
      • I cleaned out a couple of bins and drawers where I have accumulated a lot of junk
    • All caught up on the wash/laundry since it is free here
    • Lots of reading and goal setting:  Steinbeck's East of Eden and my ThinkTQ stuff
    • Regular bike riding and/or trips to the fitness center
    • Made progress on a couple of online courses (primarily since I found a Starbucks with good internet-I'd rather use there's than my mine)
    • Made two trips to the Apple store to figure out some things on iCloud, IOS 7 and 'synching'
This morning the plan is to depart the campground sometime after 8:00 and go fill up the Roadrunner at the gas station on base.  We've already done a site survey to see if we can get the motor home into the pumps.  It will be a tight squeeze.  The height should be fine, clearance is 13'6" and our height is 12'6".  (Do you know what height your RV is?)

Next we will go south to the Riverside area and be there a few weeks before we head down to the San Diego area for Thanksgiving.

Hope you are having a good week.

Thats all from this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles - thanks for joining us!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Seeing the Ronald Reagan Library

The Ronald Reagan Library is less than 35 miles from our campground and a few days ago, we visited it.

Our initial impression was good.  It was not hard to find, good roads into the facility and the parking was not far from the front entry.
The facility and front door area looked like a ranch hacienda type of area.  It was large and had lots of floors and I could image a few evening functions being catered out here.

When we entered the facility, we were greeted by a volunteer who told us about the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.  We became members for $62.  Our admission to this presidential library was $32.  But as Presidential Foundation members, we get free entry into any of the others we see this year.  My guess is we have a shot at seeing four more this year.

But they are scattered around the country.
So far, we have seen the Presidential Libraries of:

  • Gerald R. Ford - Grand Rapids, MI
  • Herbert Hoover - West Branch, IA
  • Harry S. Truman - Independence, MO
  • George W. Bush - Dallas, TX
  • Lyndon B. Johnson - Austin, TX
  • Ronald Reagan - Simi Valley, CA
That means we have a few left to see:
  • Richard Nixon - Yorba Linda, CA
  • George H.W. Bush - College Station, TX
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower - Abilene, KS
  • William J. Clinton - Little Rock, AR
  • Jimmy Carter - Atlanta, GA
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt - Hyde Park, NY
  • John F. Kennedy - Boston, MA
I think this, the Ronald Reagan may have been our favorite.  I liked the grounds, the setting and the layout of the facility.  I found this map online that gives a pretty good perspective.
I found a couple displays especially interesting.  One was the video and information surrounding his time (1964-1962) as the spokesman for General Electric  and the host of GE Theater.  I spent some time in there learning about his travels across the country, visiting many of the 140 GE plants nationwide.  

It provided him time to meet regular people and engage with them.  It was during these years, that he gave hundreds of speeches developed his political philosophy and ambitions.
I also saw a display of his personal collection of note cards.  Over the years, he kept his thoughts and ideas on 4" x 6" note cards that he carried in a re-purposed photo album book.  That really impressed me for some reason.  Every time he heard a quote, or a statistic or a joke he wanted to remember, he jotted it down on note cards for later use.
We spent a couple of hours wandering through the museum and saw his whole life story.  Some galleries included some great film footage of him and some scary moments during his presidency like the assassination attempt.

It was all very interesting.  I could have stayed longer.  Reading about his days as Governor, the accomplishments, the 'agenda'.
One thing I believe at all presidential museums has been a replica of the Oval Office.  We spoke with the ladies there for a few minutes.  I always try to thank the volunteers.  Without them - it would be quite different.  Whether they are at the Information Center in downtown Napa or at this Presidential Library, I appreciate their contributions.  Their contribution makes a difference in my day.

Next, we headed over to the Air Force One display.  It was quite impressive.  We got a chance to walk through it although photographs were not allowed.
Then we went through another part of the museum

Around back, we saw a piece of the Berlin Wall.  
And his final resting place
It was a great afternoon.  Sometimes during the tour I got goosebumps and our time there was very uplifting.

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

Friday, October 25, 2013

Reflections on Reflecting

This could be a title of a mirror photography, or deep thinking or just enjoying the moment.

Today I read this and just thought I'd share it with you without any additional comment.  It is on a site I visit  regularly. -Just for a change of pace....

Thanks for visiting today on the Roadrunner Chronicles! As always, I really appreciate and value your comments. Happy Friday! Until next time...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Day in the Life - Port Hueneme, CA

I thought I'd try to describe what our days are like here in Port Hueneme.  Over the last four years, we know that many of our friends and family kinda know what we do, but not really most of the time.  I'd say we are not too much different in what we do compared to our other RVing friends, but I'd say there are a fair amount of our family and friends who really could not describe a typical day in our life.

A lot depends on whether or not we are in an area with friends or family.  Here in Port Hueneme, that is not the case.  We are don't really know anyone.  Although we did meet John and Pat who are the new campground hosts.  And we met Randy when he joined us on a few holes on the back nine last Friday.  But other than that, we are here on our own.

So no family and/or friends with us.

Another consideration is whether or not we are here because we wanted to see a specific place.  Like the beach, or a museum or a Presidential Library.  And yes, we picked this area because we wanted to see the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library which is about 30 miles away from our campground in Port Hueneme.

Here's a list of what we (I) did yesterday:

Got up about 4:05.  I am an early riser.  I usually get up between 4:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.  The last few weeks, rising time has been closer to 4:00 a.m.

I usually fix some coffee (and use my new coffee cup warmer which we got at Fry's Electronics last week) and do some reading, reflecting and planning my day.

Then about 5:15, it was off to the gym.  The gym on base is fairly small, but has all the equipment one needs to get the job done.  I worked on stretching, used a 'foam roll' and did a lot of ab exercises.  In the last couple of weeks, I have come to appreciate the foam roll.  It is my personal version of a massager.  I put it under my legs, side etc and use the weight of my body and roll on it slowly.  This basically sets me free ~ like mucho pain and agony!  Pain as in no-gain-no-pain, not injury-myself pain.  Almost like massaging the lactic acid out of my muscles.  Or something like that.  It definitely rubs the soreness out and after a couple of days, I feel like it really helps.

Another thing I have been working on is leg lifts and core exercises.  My lower back is not the strongest and as long as I take it slow, I figure it has to help in the long run.  My theory is that my sore lower back is due to weak abs and core muscles.

After the gym, it was over to Starbucks about 6:15.  I decided a few weeks ago that I want to make some progress in a couple of online courses that I have signed up for.  One is Photography and another is learning more about Google Analytics.  So yesterday I used the ATT network at Starbucks and went through another 50 minute module.

I got back to the campground about 7:35.  Pam was up and had cooked some sausage and eggs for breakfast.  We watched some news and I answered email.

About 8:30, we discussed our planning again for the winter stops in the coming months.  We know we would like to be in the San Diego area for Thanksgiving and Christmas and in Quartzite Arizona for the yearly January RV boondocking (dry camping extravaganza).   Then in the Spring, we want to be in the Mesa/Scottsdale area for Major League Baseball Spring Training.

For our time in Southern California, we have decided on March AFB FamCamp - Riverside, Seal Beach (Sea Breeze Military Campground) - Long Beach area and Admiral Baker (Navy Campground) - San Diego.

After our time in Southern California, head over to Quartzite, Arizona.  We need to find the group of Tiffin Owners and hang out with them like we did four years ago.  After that, we will head back to familiar surroundings in Tucson at Davis-Monthan AFB for the month of February.  We can't make reservations there, so we will just so up, spend some time in overflow and make our way into full hookups.

In March, we want to see if we like the large RV 'snowbird' type of parks in Mesa.  We reviewed about a dozen parks and read comments before we finally made reservations at Mesa Regal RV Resort.  We also made reservations at the Catalina State Park north of Tucson (Oro Valley) for the first couple of weeks in April.  All that research, calling places and scheduling took a little while before we pulled the trigger.

Around 11:00, I went over to the Port Hueneme Post Office to see if I had a package.  No dice.  I ordered some items from SMI (our auxiliary braking system) and had it sent it to General Delivery.  I will have to go back in a couple of days.

While I was doing that, Pam took off on a bike ride.  The base has some nice low traffic roads not far from the campground over by the golf course and she took out over there.  She was back by the time I returned from the Post Office.

About 11:45 ish, we had lunch at the RV.  And then about 12:30, we drove out Simi Valley to see the Ronald Reagan Library and museum.  What a great place that is! (More about that on another post.)

We got back about 4:30 p.m. and vegged out for a while.  We watched some TV and read (East of Eden) before I put some fish on the grill and had dinner about 5:30.

We had a quiet evening and watched Monday Night Football which was a real snoozer for the most part.  Pam went to bed about 9:00 pm or so.  I read some more and then woke up in the chair before I also went to bed and called it a night shortly after 9:30.

That was our Monday in Port Hueneme Navy Campground!  Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles today.  Until next time...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Steinbeck Center in Salinas

While in Monterey, we drove over to Salinas, home of John Steinbeck.  The Steinbeck Center was one museum I didn't want.  I felt like I didn't get a lot of those 'standard' reading assignments in high school.  Back then it depended on what English or Literature teacher you had as to what 'classics' or authors you became familiar with.  Now that we were in Steinbeck country, I was interested in learning more.

I am now reading Steinbeck and it has really been good.  To my surprise, I feel as if I am becoming more familiar with what early life was like for my parents.  They both lived through the realities of the Depression and Steinbeck does a great job of creating the word pictures.

My most recent reading, "Grapes of Wrath", creates images of hardship that may have been real for them.  Neither of my parents were migrant workers or ones to talk about it much about their growing up years.  But now and again, we'd pick up a hint of what life was like being poor back in the 1930's.

The Steinbeck Center museum is well funded so it has a 'study center' look to it as if there are conferences or important research going on.  The facility is not especially large, but it has a museum area with displays and artifacts, a theater to show short videos about Steinbeck, as well as meeting rooms and other parts we did not venture into.
We saw a short film, then took our time in the museum area.  I liked how it was set up very informational displays. It starts off with a family tree of sorts that shows his ancestors and his immediate family.  He was married three times and had two sons.
Some of the displays were focused on famous works like "The Red Pony", "Grapes of Wrath" and "East of Eden".
A number of his works became motion pictures.  I'd love to get my hands on "Grapes of Wrath" with Henry Fonda.

Many of his works were about California and the areas where he lived.  But he also spent considerable time in New York where he met his first wife.  
During his later years, in 1960, Steinbeck became a full-fledged RVer and set out across America in a pick up truck that was modified with a camper on it.  
He was ahead of his time on that note and traveled with his wife's poodle 'Charley'.  He wrote about it one of his last works, "Travels With Charley - In Search of America".    
At the time we went on his 10,000 mile, 11 week journey, it was thought that he was ill and according to his son, 'wanted to see America one more time'.  

His account appeared in three installments in Holiday magazine in 1961 and was published in book form in 1962.  Later, the book's authenticity as a work on 'non-fiction' came into doubt with published accounts that his wife joined him many times during the trip.

Later in 1962, Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.  He died of congestive heart failure in 1968 after being a life-long smoker.

I learned a lot about John Steinbeck, one of Americas great authors.  After I finish 'East of Eden', I will probably know more.

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cannery Row in 5 Pictures

I love those concise, well-done displays that tell the story of the area and a lot of history.  The other found one on the pier outside of the Monterey Aquarium in Monterey, CA.

Hopefully you can click on the picture to enlarge it and read the finer details if you want to.

I find myself taking pictures of the sign and informational items so I don't forget a name or in this case, to go back and re-read the information.

I have been curious about Cannery Row since I first heard of it.  I didn't find out until later, after high school, that it was more than the title of John Steinbeck's novels.   But, what was it?  Is there such a thing as a cannery row apart from THE Cannery Row?  Apparently not.  This is the only reference to one I have heard of.

In fact, the area of Monterey known as Cannery Row was actually a stretch of Oceanview Avenue that had its name changed to "Cannery Row" in January 1958 to honor John Steinbeck and the notoriety he brought it.

Then the actual essence of Cannery Row in its peak time --it was all about the sardines.  Millions of pounds that were harvested and shipped out. I think I tried sardines once.  Might have been when I was still in my mid-twenties.  Afterwards, I remember thinking, "Why did I do that!? That was awful!"  Sometimes I mis-remember though and may have to try them again.  We'll see.  But I know they smell quite a bit.

Can you imagine being in Cannery Row during its Hey Day? The action activity of the tens upon tens  of boats (purse seiners) going out each day. And later, whistles going off to alert the factory workers, the catch is coming in -- get ready!  And then the hours upon hours sorting fish and packing and canning them.  All the routine, monotonous? work day after day for years.

And folks glad to have a job.  In spite of the nasty conditions.  And the smell.  For miles and miles.  Cannery Row then was probably not anything remotely like the tourist spot it is today.  It was probably gross and smelly and polluted industrial park-like area where hard working people were getting the job done…

So that's how I remember a bit of Cannery Row - in 5 pictures!

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Monterey Aquarium

One of the great things about our stay in Monterey was being able to see the Monterey Bay Aquarium with some free passes from the campground.  We were running out of time and decided the best remaining day would be on Saturday.

Oops. It was crowded.  Not "I can't move around here it is so crowded",  more like, "Wow - there a lot of people here.  Kind of tricky to get some pictures of the fish."
Monterey Aquarium is one of the leading tourist attractions in Monterey Bay.  It was founded in 1984 and is located in one of the old sardine cannery's in the famous Cannery Row section of Monterey.  And right on the beach.

It has thousands of plants and animals/fish on display and is visited by over 1.8 million visitors each year.  And we could see why.  It is very well done and very interesting.  In some ways it reminded us of the Oregon State University Mark Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport Oregon.    Monterey Bay Aquarium is significantly larger, and has a lot more to see, but both were worth the time and effort to visit.
The building itself is quite extraordinary.  Look at this tank.  It is three sided.  You can see people through the corner on the other side.
And it was huge.
And it was a bit mesmerizing just watching the fish.
The rays were keeping to themselves
And the penguins were entertaining the crowded.  By just being penguins.
And the sardines and mackerel go round and round...
And they were in a hurry!

The jellyfish on the other hand,  weren't.  They just floated around.
And we liked the hammer head shark and the turtles
We felt like this is a place we'd like to spend more time in.  There was so much to see, we barely covered it.  And the better time to go back would be during the middle of the week.  We were glad we got to go, and will look forward to putting it on the "Go see again" list.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

San Luis Obispo - Our Campground

We found another one that is a little off the beaten path.  But it is still close enough we don't feel like we are out in the hinterlands.

We are at Camp San Luis Obispo which is between the town by that name and Morro Bay.  We have never been here and relied on the reviews on
The base in one of the old National Guard bases in California.  Our first impression as we drove on base was -- there are a lot of old, really old, like WWII buildings on this post.
Post NCO Club

But it seemed clean and well maintained and we saw no evidence of broken down, empty buildings or trash or debris.
Our arrival and registration went without a hitch so-to-speak.  The lady at the office was friendly and helpful and we drove over to the campground and found our site.  No problem, no issues.
After a while, we noticed just how well the post IS cared for…it is really really cleaned up and maintained.  It is a mix of old and new buildings and all are tidy.  There is only a few places on post that have grass but it is still a nice place.
One of those places is the campground.  We are very impressed with the campground.  All the sites are level.  All are pull through sites and all have a concrete patio.  And all have individual grass on the campsites, and a fire ring!  The picnic tables at each site are a little old but we can see a couple new ones so it looks as if they are getting those replaced little by little.  And we have plenty of space between sites.

To top it off, in the middle of the week, we had the place almost to ourselves.  Since this is a Guard Base, I imagine it would be more full if the government had not shut down.  After that happened, 900 soldiers who were due to be here now, had their orders cancelled.  That was according to the manager in the PX.
The internet and cell phone service works fine.  And I got to engage in one of my favorite evening events:  a campfire!

So far, on two occasions, I have enjoyed the cool evening beside the campfire.
Pam would be out there too, but the MLB playoffs are on, so that was a no-brainer. I had some company with a glass of Merlot and continued reading Grapes of Wrath.  Every so often, she opened the window and called out the scores.  Ahh--the best of both worlds!

For $23/night it is a real find!  We expect our time in California to be more costly for campgrounds and will be glad if we can average $35.  We will see.

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