Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ya Gotta Have Friends

From Chula Vista RV Resort and Marina, Chula Vista, California      One of the greatest benefits of full-time RV travel is that we make so many friends with whom we have a common interest.  Our oldest friends remain dearest, make no mistake, but as we age and our love of RV travel deepens, we find a great deal of satisfaction connecting with others in our age group who share our passion for the nomadic life.

By the middle of March, we had met several of our neighbors at Chula Vista and formed friendships with several of them. The afternoon these pictures were taken, Jim and Bonnie had initiated the familiar "Happy Hour" where everyone brings a snack and their preferred drink.

Those who know me know I rarely indulge in "adult beverages" but this afternoon I drank three, no maybe four margaritas. They were Jim's own personal concoction and they were delicious. Pam and Ernie returned from a day at Balboa Park to find me holding one margarita and drinking another. Pam was dumbfounded. It was photoworthy.

I am a two-fisted margarita drinker. 
After a little while we began an episode of selfie-taking during happy hour. Bonnie's effort resulted in a pretty good one so I'll include it here... Not perfect as Penny has no upper body, but good.

Bonnie is front and center. Clockwise from there is Yerda, Phil, Jim, Bob, Ernie (standing), Pam, me, Wayne, Elaine, Ian and finally, Penny, who's upper body has been cut off.  Hey... it's a selfie. 

Left to right, Pam, Elaine and her husband Ian from Alberta, Canada.
Bob, from Colorado is on the far right. 
Until the sun dipped into the bay, the Chula Vista afternoon was warm and comfortable. By dusk, however, we had gathered a few propane "glamping" firepits as we exchanged stories and learned all we could about one another.

Left to right, Jim holding his dog Teddi, Jim's wife, Bonnie and her dog Luna.
Wayne, in the red sweater, and Ernie.
That's Jim and Bonnie's Holiday Rambler Scepter and Jeep behind them.

Left to right, Elaine and Ian again, Bob and Penny and their dogs, Marco and Maddie.
Bob and Penny are full-timers from Colorado.

We snagged an empty campsite for our campfire this afternoon.
Left to right is Bob and Penny again. Yerda in her ski cap. Her husband Phil is not in the picture.
Jim (holding Teddi) and Bonnie (Luna beside her).

We became friends that afternoon. The following week, eight of us who played golf formed one foursome of ladies and another of guys.  While the golf scores might leave something to be desired, we sure had a good time swiping at the golf ball. Here's proof at the end of 18 holes.

At our familiar haunt, Chula Vista golf Course.
Left to right, me, Wayne, Jim, Pam, Bob, Bonnie, Ernie and Pam. 
Nothing beats ending a neighborhood golf tournament better than having drinks and dinner so our group headed over to BJ's Brewhouse and Grill.  A few more pictures of our new, and old friends 'round the table.

Bonnie (she can slug a golfball) and Jim

Penny (so good we threw her off our team) and Bob

Wayne and me

Ernie and Pam (has a serious love/hate relationship with the game)
Two days later, Bob, Penny, Pam, Ernie, Wayne and I would depart Chula Vista, leaving Jim and Bonnie behind. We have a tentative plan to rendezvous with them later in the summer and hope to meet Bob and Penny at Moab in May. Because they pulled out early in the morning, I didn't get any last minute pictures of Bob, Penny and their dogs.  I did get these parting shots of Bonnie and Jim....

Jim and Teddi who reminds me of one of the Muppets.

Bonnie stole my heart immediately as an rabid rescue advocate.
Here she is again with Luna, her Costa Rica rescue with a bad back.
Ya just gotta have friends. You can never have enough friends.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter 2016 On Coronado Island

From Chula Vista Resort and Marina, Chula Vista, California    Easter, like most holidays, comes and goes without much notice for Wayne and me. This year though, traveling with Pam and Ernie necessitated marking the calendar, selecting a restaurant, making a reservation and dining in celebration... complete with mimosas.

Our restaurant selection would be a place recommended by friends we'd made in Cathedral City in February. Bob and Mary Ellen raved about Il Fornaio, an Italian fine dining establishment on Coronado Island and they weren't wrong. All four of us ordered brunch and every bite was delicious.

Easter Sunday was nice, though it began on a sad note. Pam and Ernie had planned to attend church but late on Saturday night, they got word that a good friend had died. By Sunday mid-morning, phone calls were complete and their decision not to fly home was finalized and there was nothing more to do except continue with the Easter plan.

After brunch at Il Fornaio, Pam and I rushed outside to snag whatever photographs we could manage around the property, situated along the water's edge.  Most weren't so good -- this is the best of mine, complete with strangers photobombing the set.

Looking back into San Diego from Coronado

Next stop would be to explore Hotel Del Coronado. Easier said than done. Parking anywhere on Easter Sunday would be challenging, but parking here on Coronado Island was a nightmare.

Hotel Del Coronado from the city street. 

In the end, we parked in one of the hotel's parking lots for a fee of $30 which would be waived when we presented receipts totaling $50 or more spent on the property.  Heck, we can drink $50 easily. In we went.

Left to right: Wayne, Pam and Ernie.
The others aren't my people.

Naturally, we would need to take a few minutes for photos at the entry before spending at least a half hour waiting in the ladies restroom line and perusing gift shop wares. I bought n.o.t.h.i.n.g.

After window shopping, we visited the 1888 store to see the old photographs displayed there. Hotel Del Coronado was opened in 1888 and was, at one time, the largest wooden structure in the world. Of course, Wayne and I are fascinated by it mostly because it has played starring roles in several old movies.... our favorite, naturally, being "Some Like It Hot" with Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis.

Impossible to make out here but the old photographs are of "Some Like It Hot" stars while not filming.

Hotel Del Coronado's beach area. 
Finally we found our way around to the Hotel Del's beach side where we settled under a patio umbrella and ordered drinks.  Mine was a "Some Like It Hot" margarita. It was an $18 drink. I didn't notice the ingredient list included jalapeno infused tequila with sliced hot jalapeno garnish.  Fortunately, the waiter exchanged it after I burned my lips, teeth, tongue, throat, stomach and intestines on the first sip.

Wayne, Ernie, Pam and me (with my replacement drink).
Our Easter celebration continued when we returned to the campground with sliced ham and rolls Pam had prepared for us. Neighbors Bonnie and Jim joined us and we sat outside until the cool evening air forced us in.

It was a splendid day!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Touring USS Midway (CVB/CVA/CV-41)

From Chula Vista Resort and Marina, Chula Vista, California      This area of coastal California has a very efficient, well-maintained, inexpensive and easy-to-learn rapid transit system. Wayne and I have very little experience in using mass transit but Pam Ernie blazed a trail for us on the day we went into San Diego for our USS Midway Museum tour.

Waiting at the station.

USS Midway (CVB/CVA/CV-41) is a carrier of the United States Navy. She was commissioned a week after the end of World War II and held the record as the largest ship in the world until 1955.

Three football field lengths of steel behind us, USS Midway has been here since 2004
225,000 sailors have called the Midway "home"
In the spring of 2011, our last visit here, Wayne and I marveled at the gargantuan memorial from street side. Today we'll take the tour.

The USS Midway Museum houses more than 60 exhibits including 29 restored aircraft. There is a self-guided audio tour which we did not purchase. Two flight simulators were swarmed by long lines of thrill seekers... we didn't do that either.

The Dauntless dive bomber
The day of our visit just happened to be within one of the several "spring break" weeks so families were plentiful aboard ship making my photography efforts especially difficult.  Kids do love military stuff it seems. 

This is an especially good photo, not just because our friend Ernie is in it and not just because it's lunchtime. It's special because it contains the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the background and the famous "Unconditional Surrender"statue over Ernie's right shoulder. The wonderful stage salute to Bob Hope is also barely visible on the point.

Pam, Ernie, Wayne and I enjoyed lunch aboard ship from the Fantail Cafe actually dining on the elevator deck. The air was brisk, the sun was warm and the views were incredibly spectacular.
Aircraft tail sections, bay dock and the San Diego skyline
While the children, foreign visitors and family crowds created some chaos during our lunch, we enjoyed a surprise encounter with a 90-something year old Pearl Harbor veteran with whom we enjoyed a long chat. His nephew, a retired Navy pilot, and niece invited him to San Diego for the upcoming Easter weekend and to tour the USS Midway.

Our Pearl Harbor, WWII Veteran friend, Pam, Ernie and the elder veteran's nephew.
The plane behind them is like the one Senator John McCain was flying when shot down in Vietnam.
I think Senator McCain flew from the USS Oriskany, same as the plane here.  
USS Midway saw action in the Vietnam conflict and served as the Persian Gulf flagship during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. This behemoth, too large to navigate the Panama Canal, operated for an unprecedented forty-seven years before being decommissioned in 1992.  Midway is the only remaining U.S. aircraft carrier of the World War II era that is not an Essex-class carrier (according to something I read).

Here are a few of my best photos of the Midway flight deck. 

There was an hour wait to take the guided tour of the tower which would take another hour.
We did not wait in the line so we did not take the tour.

Don't know what this one is but I liked it.

Gotta love those men and women in uniform! 

My favorite veteran in the orange cap with the pot belly. 
Mid-afternoon came around as the four of us concluded our tour of the USS Midway. Our next destination is directly below -- the Midway Park area where we'll see "Unconditional Surrender" and the salute to Bob Hope before rewarding ourselves with a drink in the restaurant bar before heading home.

The bridge to Coronado can be seen in the upper left. 

Leaving the pier where the Midway is docked, we came upon this black granite memorial wall to sailors and ships of the U.S. Navy. In the photo above, Ernie stands beside the inscribed section of the wall that memorializes his father's ship, the USS Gambier Bay.

Our old friend, Bob "ski nose" Hope entertaining the troops... 

"Ouch! Hey you! Quit that!"
Another great day with friends. Gotta run now to catch that Trolley!

Tijuana? Oh no, we missed our stop! 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Chula Vista Dog Days... Lexie's Mysterious Illness

From Chula Vista RV Resort, Chula Vista, California       On Tuesday afternoon, March 15, I cut carrots and nothing happened. That got my attention. Ozzie jumped down from the couch but Lexie didn't come and she didn't bark. That's odd. Lexie and Ozzie love carrots. He always jumps and she always barks. I pointed this phenomenon out to Wayne. We both were perplexed.

Next day, Wednesday, Lexie's unusual behavior continued. We kept an close eye on her and saw she just wasn't right. She avoided going up her steps to the sofa. By nightfall, she had begun to move away from us when we tried to touch her. None of us slept well that night. Thursday morning, March 17, I began research for a veterinarian and by noon, the four of us (Wayne, Lexie, Ozzie and I) were at South Bay Animal Hospital in Chula Vista.

 Lexie (left), her sweet face disguises a little dog in pain.
When one goes to the vet, we all go. All for one and one for all.
 Ozzie, on the left, is always apprehensive.
Dr. Jagpal Deo listened to our explanation of Lexie's behavior and examined her, noting that her abdomen felt abnormally hard. Her appetite, bowel and urine habits were normal.  X-rays were taken and the Dr. Deo reviewed them with us noting that nothing really seemed unusual. He asked our permission to do bloodwork. We agreed.

From the side. Lexie's head is to the left. 

Looking down on Lexie's back. Her head is to the right.

Thursday morning, Dr. Deo called with the results of Lexie's bloodwork, reporting that everything looked normal here too except her Gobulin, which was 4.6 (normal is 1.6 to 3.6). He suggested that we proceed with getting an ultrasound done the following Monday afternoon when a mobile unit would be at his hospital. A specialist could review the ultrasound and all the other data we had to that point. We agreed of course. He suggested we stop by the office for Tramadol to manage Lexie's pain over the weekend.

But by Friday night, worried sick, Wayne and I agreed we would get Lexie into the local Emergency Pet and Specialty Center to have the ultrasound done sooner than Monday.  By 9 a.m. Saturday we were meeting with Dr. Virginia Fritsch, reviewing Dr. Deo's x-rays and blood work. Lexie stayed at the hospital all day and was transported, via pet ambulance, to the hospital's La Mesa location to have the ultrasound. She was given intravenous pain medication during her stay.

Wayne, Ozzie and I returned to the coach and waited on tenterhooks. Around 5 p.m., Dr. Fritsch called to advise us that the ultrasound was underway. At 7 she called again to tell us that there were no conclusive issues and the best diagnosis they had was a possible kidney infection. A test for pancreatitis was performed and culture for urinary tract infection (UTI) was taken but results will take a few days. Lexie was dismissed up around 9 p.m.Saturday night and we brought her home in a very groggy state. The night was terrible as she seemed scared and unable to rest but in little or no pain. We continued giving her the Tramadol and now added Clavamox for the suspected infection. We watched and waited but our old Lexie just wasn't there.

On Monday, pancreatitis was ruled out. Waiting just for the UTI test result now, we were hopeful to see a bit of progress but did not. On Tuesday afternoon, Lexie had to make a return trip to Dr. Deo when her back legs were so wobbly Wayne and I feared she was losing her ability to walk.

Jagpal Deo, DVM
Dr. Deo examined Lexie again. After a few minutes he told us that the reported weak and wobbly legs indicated that Lexie's problem was likely due to pain in her back, legs or hips even though she didn't cry out when physically examined. A puppymill dog with Lexie's neuroses is especially careful to mask signs of weakness or pain. Pain and inflammation explain the high Globulin level too. Dr. Deo prescribed a two week steroid (prednisone) treatment. We finished the Clavamox and gaveTramadol for a few more days.

Dr. Deo was right. Within days, our sweet little Lexie was back to herself. We returned to the clinic and her abdomen had softened -- that made Dr. Deo feel good. Us too. Lexie was released from his care and continued to improve.

A shaved tummy and front leg were required for the ultrasound and the IV.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Chula Vista: Beautiful View

We spent the month of March at Chula Vista Resort and Marina.

Chula Vista is halfway (7.5 miles) between downtown San Diego and the Mexican border.

The name "Chula Vista" translates to "Beautiful View" in Spanish. But...Let me be clear: what I saw of Chula Vista is not beautiful. I speak only for myself mind you....

Chula Vista was, in the early days, a lemon growing community. That changed when, in 1941, a few months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, America's war machine brought Rohr Aircraft Corporation to town along with several thousand production workers.  The housing demands and consumer support services needed for this effort insured Chula Vista would never return to it's simple citrus growing heyday.

These days, the area around San Diego Bay, where we are, is pleasant enough and the east side of the county is also quite nice. The space between here and there however leaves a lot to be improved. Again, I speak only for myself and I did enjoy my morning walks through the resort, along the marina and beyond.

A few pictures from around Chula Vista Resort...

The calm water of the marina on a  morning walk. 

More of my walking photos.

Another view of the marina 

As luck would have it, the day after our arrival, Ernie began to develop symptoms of a dreadful head cold. Desperate for a golf fix, he threw caution to the wind and the four of us played at the Chula Vista Municipal Course.

Chula Vista Golf Course's goose population made Pam a bit uneasy.
A couple days later, Pam and Ernie sat it out while Wayne and I played another 9 holes at National City Golf Course. This municipal course was simply awful, with male golfers wearing muscle shirts using foul language. There were bicyclists, loud obscenities, group of walkers and strolling high school students all along the course. The cart path was abysmal as were the tees and fairways. Mark that one off the list.

The following week Pam made a trip home to Maryland and I missed her terribly as did Ernie, I am sure. The three of us busied ourselves as best as we could considering our Social Director was absent.

Without Pam to guide us, Wayne, Ernie and I resorted to eating $1.50 hot dog lunches at Costco.
Here are the big spenders. 

As Ernie's head cold subsided, we found more golf to be played at East Lake Golf Course.
It would be the best of the four area courses we played though all are what Wayne calls "valley courses" that appear to have been created in great drainage ditches.
After our round of golf at East Lake, the three of us dined in style at the Galley Restaurant at the Chula Vista Marina, a waterside bar and restaurant within walking distance of the campground.

Pam's empty chair alongside Ernie who ordered a bottle of Miller Lite in here honor. 
It didn't take long for us to find a quick and willing replacement for Pam. Here she is: meet "New Pam" whose real name is Castle (yes, that's right), a hostess at The Galley. Of course we sent these pictures to "Old Pam" to encourage her to hurry back.

Left to right: me, Wayne, "New Pam" and Ernie
We hit practice balls at Chula Vista as I am trying to correct my "worm burning" strokes. 

After meeting some of our neighbors, we arranged another foursome and played Chula Vista again.
In this picture, Ernie is the ball striker, while Wayne and our new friend, Jim Chele, look on. 
Rattlesnake Habitat - Do Not Enter
Risk of Serious Injury

Pam did return after just ten days... seemed longer though... and we quickly fell back into our structured routine -- or lack thereof. We tried yet another municipal course, this one was Tecolote Canyon, an appalling 13 miles north of Chula Vista, but easy enough to reach -- as long as the traffic flowed well.

Another narrow valley course, Tecolote Canyon had an added dimension: DANGER SIGNS! with rattlesnake warnings. This makes a real difference in deciding whether or not to go chasing lost golf balls.