On to Casa Grande

Before leaving Yuma, we put some diesel fuel in the RV. Yesterday we scouted around for a good price and found an ARCO with a great price of $1.85. We haven't seen it that low in years, and certainly nowhere near that in California.

Then we continued east on Highway 8. It was still windy, but not nearly as bad as yesterday. We stopped at Dateland, as usual. This wide spot in the road is the place to get some really good date shakes, as well as several kinds of packaged dates. Medjool are our favorites, but they have several good varieties. Their orchard must be an old one; it includes 6 date trees that nobody can identify.
Back on the road, continuing east. Shorty eventually gets tired. Even when he's almost asleep, he can keep his paw on that ball. 
As we got further into Arizona, the mountains looked less like rubble, and those iconic saguaro cactus started appearing. 
We will spend a couple of nights at Sundance 1 RV Park, just outside Casa Grande. We haven't stayed here before, but it's a large, attractive RV park that offers a good Passport American rate. 

Leaving Vista

The day after Christmas we left Vista, driving south to pick up highway 8 East. This is not a horrible road, but it is prone to bad weather - in January of 2013 we ran into sleet here. This year we got very strong winds, along the whole route. And this stretch is full of signs that indicate how tricky it can be.
 And on both sides of the road, the mountains still look like heaps of rubble.

We got out of the elevation and onto flat land before the dust storm hit. The Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area is just north of 8, and with winds like this, the recreation area moves.
To me, the vegetation on the side of the road, stripped and dried by the wind, looks like huge, dead spiders.
It was so windy that we lost one of the air conditioning covers off the roof, and our slide-out awning began to come off. Randy was able to secure it enough for us to continue. 

We made it to Yuma in early afternoon and went to the Quechan Casino parking lot. For several years they have let RVs park here overnight for free. That works in the Casino's favor because after people go across the border to shop, there isn't anything else to do except go into the casino to eat or gamble. But Quechan finally changed the rules: now they charge $10 for up to 3 nights. There are no hookups, but it's still reasonable if you don't mind dry-camping overnight, so we stayed. The wind was still very strong; we had to hang onto the RV door with both hands every time we opened it. So we didn't extend the RV slide-outs. We just took the dogs out for a quick potty break, got our passports, locked the RV, and drove a couple of miles to the border. The Quechan tribe also owns the parking lot at the border, and charge $6 to park there. They do a tidy little business just by being in the right place! 

We crossed the border and got a surprise - Los Algodones was almost deserted. A few of the medical services and the larger pharmacies were open, but the vendors who normally fill both sides of the sidewalks were absent. 
It turns out they all take the holiday off! Even our favorite place to eat, the stand that sells fish and shrimp tacos, was closed down. So we got a few meds at Mary's Pharmacy, just around the corner from the Purple Store (Mary has better prices). Then we went to the Purple Store to look around. They specialize in medicine, alcohol, chocolate and vanilla. We didn't actually need any of those, so, since we couldn't get fish tacos, we decided to have lunch there. They have a kitchen section in back that serves mostly the locals, but anyone can place an order. The young lady who took our order spoke no English whatsoever, but another customer helped translate for us. When it came to writing Randy's name on the order, however, she gave up. To her, we were "Gringos" so that's what she typed as the "Nombre del Cliente".
When our food was ready, we went outside and sat at a table to eat. I had ordered an omelet, but I wasn't sure if I was getting ham or chicken; turns out, I got both. The omelet was made with ham and cheese, with a side order of grilled chicken. Pretty good!
Back at the RV Randy had to check the tires again. We had so much tire problems in June that he has decided to check the tire pressure every day. 
And it's a good thing he did, because the front left tire was low. He aired it up and then we went into the Casino for dinner. The cold wind just kept blowing really hard, so when we returned to the RV, we decided to keep the slides in overnight.

Christmas for the pets

Christmas at the Lambert's always includes little presents for the critters, so Shorty has a new squeaky toy to obsess over. 
The problem is that Julienne has one, too. And as always, if Julienne has a toy, Shorty wants it. He's such a little hoarder!
Eventually (with a little help from us) Julienne got to play with her toy. But Shorty never took his eyes off her while she did.
Missy got a new toy, too. She's pickier about what she will play with, but likes these things a lot.
And their Christmas joy didn't stop there. The centerpiece of our dinner was a prime rib roast that came with two big ribs, just the right number for a doggy feast! Julienne's technique was to stand on the rib with both feet.
Shorty was so focused that for once he didn't worry about what Julienne had.
Tomorrow morning we will be back on the road, headed east. It is awful to leave our friends; we just hate that part. But it's time to move on. We will probably park in a casino lot the first couple of nights, which means no internet and no wifi. 

Rain changes our plans

Today was the day we had planned to leave the museum and head to San Diego. But it rained all day yesterday. Rick, knowing what rain does to the roads here, stopped by to see what our plan was.
The plan now, of course, is to go nowhere today. The Jeep can't make it in or out without sliding sideways, so there is no way we can move the RV.
So we got in the Jeep, slide out to the main road, and went to Beach Break Cafe, where we shared one of their big breakfasts - corned beef, hash browns, eggs and toast, and a slice of coffee cake apiece. Nice! 

Then we went to the Unique Indian Store. Randy has bought several flutes there, and we like to see what's new in the shop. If we had a house we would buy a lot of things here, but there is a limit to what will fit in the RV.
We have decided that we will spend Christmas here at the Museum, and head out after we get a couple of sunny days to dry the road.

Another rainy day

It was a rainy day today, which means the roads on the Museum grounds are impassable. We have done everything we can to be ready to move, so it was a slow day. Randy and Dan went to lunch at Prohibition, which involved a fair amount of alcohol.

For dinner we had Popeye chicken; there was just enough traction to get the car in and out, but I'd hate to do it again. 

This evening the coyotes were very vocal - there was a whole pack, very close to us. Randy went out with a flashlight and saw one of them cut across in front of our RV. The howling increased; I think something died out there tonight. We were going to make sure that didn't happen to our babies! When it was time for their bedtime trip out, Randy went out first to check if the coast was clear, then I took them out one at a time, on a leash, with a flashlight, while Randy stood guard. 

Goodby, Ciao's

We went to Cioa's today for their weekday lunch buffet. Their buffet always offer a couple of excellent salads, veggies and pizzas (their sauce is so good) and several pasta dishes, all served with excellent home-made bread.  And for dessert, fresh cannelloni and those little bits of fried dough, well sugared. I don't think those are Italian, but they are so good! We will really miss this place.

Clock work

I recently bought a couple of clocks. I knew one didn't work but the other one did, and now it doesn't. Rod and Becky asked us over for dinner to night, so I took my little clock along for Rod to look at. He quickly determined that I was turning the wrong stem. The stem I was trying to turn would wind up the music box (although it wouldn't turn at all). He wound the clock properly, and it started ticking - problem solved!

Then, because he's a nice guy and I needed the help, he took a look at why the music box didn't work. It hasn't been run in so long that it locked up and needed a bit of adjustment.
He tinkered with it until it started working, then put it back into the clock base. Now if I can just keep it working.
Rod's work room fascinates me - all these cool things.
One of the things I love about these is that they are hand-made. People had to make these complicated machines by hand, and took the time to make them beautiful, too. 
After the clock work was done, Becky served us a great meal, and we spent the evening visiting. 

One last trip to Carlsbad

We are just a few days away from leaving, and frankly, we're running out of things to do. So today Randy took me to Carlsbad to goof off. We parked the car by a little group of street vendors who were selling painting, photos and jewelry.
We didn't buy anything but we did get a good recommendation for lunch - the Armenian Cafe, just one block away. Randy got the combo salad, topped with Chicken Kebab, Gyros and Falafels. The waitress assured us the falafel was good, and for once, they were! 
Outside it was cool enough for a jacket but the sun was shining, so we walked around town a little longer. In this area of Carlsbad, the crosswalk lights are coordinated so that instead of stopping traffic in one direction for pedestrians, traffic is stopped in all directions at the same time. We crossed one of those intersections to check out a truly beautiful building, a "Victorian Lady", home to Sun Diego Board Shop. 
Inside, along with stuff for sale, are some beautiful antique boards, showing the progression of surf boards through the years. 
From there it was natural to walk down to the beach. Today it was too cool to go wading, so we went back into the car and drove to Tip Top. Besides their restaurant, Tip Top has a deli and a pretty impressive meat section. We bought some of their hot dogs, we won't be able to get those soon, so we wanted a few in our freezer.
This is the first place I've seen a Tomahawk steak, an on-the-bone rib steak, french-trimmed. Looks good!
We rounded the day out with a stop at Baskin Robbins. We usually prefer Coldstone, but during December Baskin-Robbins offers peppermint ice cream. It's my favorite ice cream - even better than chocolate!

Farewell dinner with dear friends

Recently there's been a lot of baking going on around here, to make gift plates for our friends. Raisin-nut oatmeal cookies, peanut clusters, chocolate chip cookies ansugar cookies. My contribution was marshmallow treats, which certainly isn't baking, but I like them. Then, to be sure we had a great gluten-free dessert, Randy made seven layer cookies. Normally it calls for a graham cracker cookie crust, but he worked around that. 
Ken and Patty, who had gone home after he picked up his tractor, drove 2 hours back here to take us to a farewell dinner. Ashley and Dan were there with their children, in spite of Ashely feeling under the weather. Cheeseburger Jack drove in and joined us. Rod and Becky also came, and picked up the check. Before we ate, Randy and I handed out little presents. We had mugs filled with chocolates for the ladies, one for Jack, and t-shirts for Dan and Ken. Dan's t-shirt stated the Museum's unofficial motto: "Why'd you do it that way?", and Ken's had his favorite refrain: "Do you know what pisses me off? Everything!" We gave Rod something job-related. When something aggravated us during our time here, we would just remind ourselves: "Not my circus, not my monkeys". Rod is in charge, so technically it is his circus and these are his monkeys. So we got him a Monkey coffee cup!
It was a lovely dinner, and in spite of the terrible jokes and insults, it was clear that these nice people will miss us. It's lovely to be so appreciated.

Late Thanksgiving or Early Christmas dinner

Randy didn't get to cook a turkey this year, and he really likes to cook turkeys. So today he made a whole turkey dinner. Randy cooks everything from scratch so the dressing started as onions and celery, simmered in a bit of butter.
Since Ashely's family would be joining us for dinner, gluten was a consideration, so Randy cooked the dressing separate from the turkey. At the end of the day he took turkey, dressing, corn, mashed potatoes and gravy over to Ashley's house. The gravy was gluten free too, so she could enjoy everything except the dressing. Fortunately I don't have a problem with gluten, so I filled my plate with everything. Twice.

Frosty morning

It's cold this morning! 34 degrees when we got up, so it was probably colder in the night. WAY too cold for SoCal. When I took the dogs outside, it looked like the grass in front of the bandstand was dead, but it's just where the sunshine hasn't touched the frost yet.
This year started with Julienne wondering why it was so cold and it is ending the same way, with frost under her feet and a sweater around her neck.

Oceanside again

Today we took one of the bikes apart and packed it in the car. Ashley stopped by to visit, then took me along to an estate sale she wanted to check out; fortunately I didn't find anything to buy. 

For lunch Randy and I went to one of our favorite restaurants, Harbor Fish and Chips. We sat in the sunshine, eating fish and chips and watching for the seal who visits the harbor. He was there again today, although too quick to get his picture taken, so we just relaxed and enjoyed the view.
After lunch we walked down to the beach. There are coastal flood and high surf warnings every day now; el nino is coming.

Old Town San Juan Capistrano

On our train trip to LA we got a glimpse of Old Town San Juan Capistrano, and decided to go back today for a visit. 

A few really old adobe structures are still standing. This one, built in 1794, is called the Montanez Adobe, after Polonia Montanez, a village midwife and healer who was, according to the plaque, responsible for the religious education when the priest wasn't around.
The main road here is Los Rios, an area reported to be the oldest continually-occupied neighborhood in California. Most of the houses along the main street are adorable little shops, most of which we visited.
Even the ones who aren't open for business are pretty darn cute.
In one yard is a little jail, sitting next to a house that is almost as small as the jail. 
Back in the main section of town, the big park has a huge tree, but it looks like a tall version of Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree. 
A big antique-and-junk store was right next to our parking spot, so we went in there before leaving. It had rooms and rooms of good junk.
Randy got a couple of good buys - a lovely old music stand and an old Ã†bleskiver pan. One of the cashiers recommended El Adobe de Capistrano Cafe, so we went there next. They served good food so we enjoyed lunch. We also discovered we were sitting in chairs used bPresident Nixon and his wife Pat, during their frequent visits here. They are dated, but pretty comfy.