Sunday, March 26, 2023

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in Southern California

 March 7 - 23, 2023
Yuma, Arizona - Del Mar, Frazier Park, Oxnard, Santa Clarita, Desert Center, California

We leave Tombstone where the weather is expected to be lovely for the next few weeks, and head for California where the heavy rain and wind continue. It would have been one good reason to stay home.

Our first night we stop in Wellton, Arizona, east of Yuma, to visit with our high school pal Teri and her partner Ashley. They have busy lives, but we're able to meet for dinner and get caught up. I forget to get pics, but we have a great time. Our one night stay at the Pioneer RV Park is quiet although it's close to the Interstate. Asphalt, level sites with 50 amp FHUs, we'd stay here again.

It's a lovely drive over the mountains between Imperial and San Diego county. The wildflowers are pretty, something we get very little of in our desert. From the wide open desert, through the pines, we arrive in the mass of humanity that is the city of San Diego.  Neither of us miss living amongst this many people, but there's always lots to see and do in big cities. We're only here for a couple nights and I've opted for the simplicity and economy of Del Mar Fairgrounds RV Park. A large parking lot along the river with all back-in, 50 amp FHU (very tight) asphalt sites. I rarely do first-come-first-serve parks, but we have about 8 open sites to choose from. I'm glad we took the chance!

Lots of Lupine along the highway.

Pretty pink grass I've never seen before lines the road just east of the mountains.

As we gain elevation the poppies are everywhere.

Pretty borders.

And then the masses!

No one parks next to us so we're not as squeezed as we could have been.

Tessa and I enjoy a morning walk along the adjacent San Dieguita River. 


We have a day to wander around the area before meeting friends for dinner in Carlsbad to the north. The weather is perfect and the crowds not too bad. We first head south to Balboa Park along the coast, then turn back. We're both familiar with most of the area, having visited here separately, so it's fun to share what we each know. It's the first time we've made a stop in the motorhome here and I'd love to return for a longer stay. 

The ginormous fig tree in Balboa Park. It's nearly impossible to capture just how big this beauty is. 

Seaport Village is a favorite of mine and my kids, and today it's splendid in the sunshine.

Coronado Bay sparkles.

A scrumptious veggie and apple sausage omelette at the Edgewater Grille.

A glimpse of the waterfront skyline.

Although still very populated, Carlsbad feels much more small town.

We enjoy an hour with the calming sea.

A fuzzy Sarah and her mom Michelle who we went to high with, and who was instrumental is getting Bill and I together 13 years ago. 

We love getting together with our pal and wish we could do it more often!

Our dinner is delicious at King's Fish House, and the service impeccable. Reservations always recommended. We savor every bite and every word for a couple hours. Then sadly it's time to say good-bye for now.

Rain moves in for our drive north and while breaking down the utilities, Bill steps on and splits the sewer hose (fortunately it was after he dumped!). It will end up being 12 days before we can dump again.

Although wet, the drive through Southern California is fine, and we're set up at the top of the Grapevine, at Pyramid RV Park. It's our first time here, and is about 15 minutes from where the family live. A bit rough with a real need for some grounds maintenance, but it's better than the place we've stayed up here in the past. It's also at a lower elevation so a bit warmer. Surprisingly this is still relevant in mid-March.

15 lanes of cars make their way through the Newhall Pass.

We're here for five days and all of it we spend at Ezra and Elliott's house with their parents. Games and movies and meals, stories and laughter and catching up. Elliott is becoming his own little person with a strong and affectionate personality. Ezra is such a big kid and embracing his big brother role while becoming a school kid in the mountains. It's a delightful visit that we wish could last longer. We never should have left the mountain!

Ready to take on the big brother.


These two :-))))

Not feeling like Spring is close!

I sure hope Elliott keeps his curls.

It's just not Sunday on the mountain without some donuts from Crows!

Our drive between the park and the house is beautiful.

Bring it on puny humans!

With the broken sewer hose, and not much time spent at the rig, we're just hooked up to water and electric - so Bill's break down is fairly quick on another pouring rain travel day. Lots of water on the road, I take it slow coming down the mountain. Because of the recent flooding we aren't staying at the usual Valencia Travel Village where they've suffered substantial losses from collapsed ground along the normally dry river. Instead, we're heading to nearby Acton. 

We don't make it. 

Both Check Engine lights come on as we enter Santa Clarita. Oh joy. Definitely more than the usual computer update that brings up one light. I find a large parking lot where we can make some calls and hope for divine intervention. It's raining in sheets. 

Safe for the time, but definitely not where we want to be.

After a couple calls I find a shop who is booked but is willing to do a diagnostic so we know what the issue is. It's 8 miles away and I'm hoping we make it. 

They have me back right up to the shop so they can hook up the diagnostic out of the rain. We're there about 30 minutes and learn it's the actuator-nox-turbo thingy and parts could be up to $7k if they do the work which they don't have time on the schedule to do anytime soon. Good lord. 

Waiting for the bad news.

It's a job that needs to be done at a Freightliner facility, and we know from experience that the closest one is in Oxnard, 45 miles away. Things look up a little when they can get us in in a couple days and we can bring it now to park safely on their large lot. 

We just have to get it there. As long as the lights aren't flashing and the engine isn't losing power, I'm assured I can drive it. In case we have issues, Bill unhooks to drive separately. 

But wait, there's more!!

Getting ready to pull out I notice we have a fault light on the electrical management panel. The house battery is nearly dead, too dead to start the generator which could potentially charge said low battery. Arrghhh. The tech plugs it in until there's enough charge to start the generator, and I'm headed to Oxnard making deals with the gods that I'll make it. 

45 miles of downpour with standing water in many places. It's a slow and nerve-wraking drive. 

No flashing lights, no loss of power, generator purring along, no accidents or road issues in the rain, and an hour later I'm soooo happy to pull into Velocity Trucking in Oxnard. It's still pouring but the rig is where it can get fixed. And I can relax for now.

The staff are aware we're traveling and tell me they'll try their best to get it diagnosed in the morning so they can order parts. It's Tuesday, yet I suspect we won't be back in the rig until after the weekend. 

With a couple days worth of clothes, meds and dog food, we find a regrettable Motel 6 nearby for the night. Dinner somewhere I don't remember and an uncomfortable night on a concrete bed with sand paper sheets gets us to Wednesday. 

Today is the first day I can make reservations for Banff and Jasper in Alberta, the planned highlight for our summer travels. I have reservations on both sides, but have had to wait until now for the parks. 

Yep, completely booked for every day in every space. I went online 3 minutes after booking opened. Clearly I am being punished for sins unknown :-( I'll cancel reservations and make new ones for Plan B over the next few days. 

Might as well make the best of being on the beach again. Even in the persistent rain the ocean is a balm.

Bill lived in this house in the late 80's. More cactus than we have in Arizona :-)

Very different colors than our time in Carlsbad last week.

We upgrade to a Choice Hotel in Camarillo and add a delicious dinner at Lure Fishhouse for a big improvement. What a difference a comfortable bed makes! 

A cucumber gin martini is the perfect start to a nice evening.

Thanks for the better bed Mom!

Thursday morning we get a call from the shop confirming they were able to get it in the day before and parts have been ordered. They'll be there Monday and they'll get it done the same day. Okay! 

We stop by and load up all our laundry and clothes (this will end up being a very good move), dump the refrigerator, confirm the house battery is still nearly dead but the fault light is off, and we're headed back to Santa Clarita to get some time with the grands as originally planned. Bill has them add an oil change. Afterall it's only $750 :-0!

A breakfast stop in Ventura at Immigrant Son Caffe (recommended by borrowed daughter Megan who we don't get to see this time) is another yummy stop.

California strawberries grown just down the road!

During a break in the rain we can appreciate how beautifully green the hills are. They've been brown and black for several years. 
We move into another Choice hotel (we're members now of course) for four nights, and make arrangements to catch up with the family. Time in the park with Oliver and his parents, and Chinese food with M&M and their parents get us started. I hardly get any pics, wanting to spend as much time visiting as I can.

Oliver and Mommy

Look out below! Oliver and Daddy

Oliver has mastered his daddy's glare :-)

It's been years since either of us have been to a t-ball game, and little M's first game is Saturday afternoon. The weather cooperates and the puddles have dried enough for play. It's over an hour of non-stop laughter as we watch the antics of these little people having fun with little understanding of what game they're playing :-))) Dog piles on every ball, running the wrong direction, abandoning all bases including home to chase the ball - it's hysterical and delightful.

Our very own little Giant.

Rounding the bases for home!

What a cutie.

We wrap up the day at Topper's Pizza with M&M, their parents and other grandparents. It's more fun times! But no more pics :-(

Sunday I meet Brian at their storage unit in Santa Clarita where we load the Jeep and their Subaru in the drizzle to take up to Frazier Park. It pours all the way up the mountain but gives us a break with sunshine at their house - yay! We unload the Jeep, and load my antique dresser back in it. They've been storing it for us for 8 years!

Back in Santa Clarita Bill and I have dinner and pack up to pick up the rig on Monday morning.

But wait, there's more!

About 11:30 that night the paramedics take Bill to the hospital with another attack of CHF. We know what caused it and can prevent it in the future, but he spends another two nights in the hospital and I extend our time at the hotel. At this point I'm convinced I will never leave the house again if we can just get back there!

The shop confirms leaving the rig as long as we need is no problem, it's ready to go. Fortunately Bill is out Tuesday afternoon and we pick up the rig early Wednesday morning. He has some residual effects, but mostly just tired from the inevitable lack of sleep that is a hospital stay. 

While it pours on us all the way to Oxnard again, we have sunny skies while he hooks up the Jeep. Battery still too low to start the generator or run most things, but the backup camera works and the stairs go in and out. Even better, Freightliner has covered all parts and labor and with the oil change and diagnostics we're out the door for under $1500. Whew!! 

California cuts us a break finally and we have a good drive to Desert Center. Some rain but not much, and no wind! We dump (since we haven't since Del Mar last week) at a truck stop near Palm Springs.

But guessed it.

When we plug in at our friend's house in Desert Center, where we're hoping to finally get the battery charged and open the slides, the fault returns and we have no power coming into the rig. Even plugged in we're still completely dead. Sure glad we dumped the frig and pulled out all the clothes!

It's snug spending the night with all the slides in, but we're comfortable and when the sun rises we're on the road. Blue skies and no wind take us the six hours back to Tombstone. We fill up at Exit 2 in Arizona for $3.99/gallon - woohoo!

So we're back at the house where we're not sure at all how our plans are going to change - just that they are - for this year's travels. Our local shop is booked through June so we're scrambling to find a fix for the electrical before our reunion (my 50th) the weekend of April 14 in Laughlin. 

Fingers crossed we've seen the last of the bad and ugly!

Saw this headless man at a gas station - very disconcerting! 


  1. Wow, when it rains it pours! So sorry to hear about all your troubles. So glad to hear Bill is recovering though. Hoping for sunny days in your future.

    1. Thanks Jim. He's back to normal and we are so happy to be back under sunny (and finally warmer) skies.

  2. After reading, I can understand why you might consider SoCal 'bad and ugly'! OMG what an adventure! Good to hear that Bill is recovering and you are safe at home. More rain heading this way, but not near what your experienced.
    Nice to see the kids in T-ball, the Padres might need them.
    Next time you're in SoCal give me a shout, maybe we an finally meet.

    1. I will definitely make contact when we're going to be there again - which I'm sure we will! We love SoCal but it sure didn't like us this time. LOL, poor Padres.

  3. Oh dear! Those are the times when you want to just stay in bed with the covers over your head. May Bill continue to improve, may that motorhome start to behave and we are glad you made it home to Tombstone!

    1. Thanks Janna. I'm not sure I could have taken one more hit, so I'm glad things have calmed down with our return to Arizona. Might even venture out again :-))

  4. I’m happy to read you had wonderful visits with children, grands, and friends. I’m happy to read Bill is doing good and I’m happy to read your MH is all fixed . And happy to read you are home safe. Staying at a motel was never an option for us as we had/have too many pups and were not allowed those options which constantly added to our stress of full-time MH living and the main reason we are not venturing very far away from home anymore.

    1. Sorry, I forgot to sign my name….Gay

    2. We're happy to be back and healthy too! Looks like the MH electrical issues have been diagnosed and will hopefully be fixed soon. It really is stressful. We're very glad to have a house to return to these days.

  5. Oh no!!! I kept thinking "This can't get any worse!" and then it did. Thankfully you had some bright moments in the midst of all of that craziness. I laughed out loud at your description of the baseball game!

    So glad you guys made it home safely. I hope you have some relaxing time planned at home before heading out on your big summer adventure. So very glad that Bill is doing better.

    1. Yeah, I kept thinking the same thing. I think the universe took it as a challenge every time I even thought it! The baseball game was a real highlight - we might have to find one near home :-) Our warm weather has been a big help.

  6. Yikes! I guess we've all experienced bad times on the road and can really feel your pain, but on the bright side, at least you had all your bad luck for the year on a relatively short trip and now you can look forward to smooth sailing! (insert "finger's crossed" emoji here.....) Seriously, we're happy to hear that Bill is ok and that the motorhome is on it's way to feeling better also. How are you though? I hope you're taking this time to lie around reading movie magazines and eating bon bons!

    1. I think that is the perfect prescription for me! In hindsight everything was resolved as well as possible at the time, but whew am I glad it's over. I'm sure going with having all the bad luck all behind us now :-))))

  7. Oh those poppies look so beautiful. Not sure there are any puppies in the neck of the woods where I travel. The masses of people and cars not so beautiful. FIFTEEN LANES of cars. I can't even handle the thought of it.

    Thank goodness it was AFTER the dump. I have a heart attack at one check engine light. Two would be beyond me. I am so very very sorry for your troubles. They make me feel less bad about mine for sure.

    When I read but wait there's more I almost had to go away and do something else for a while before finishing your post. But I knew you guys would rally. Thank goodness you have each other. But so sorry velocity wouldn't let you stay in your rig until they needed it. Your description of the dreaded Motel 6 bed makes me grit my teeth.

    AND Bill in the hospital. How are you still functioning? Sure glad he's okay. I think my comment is as long as your post. Not sure I'd ever leave home again reunion or not.

    1. I was so ready to get out of the rig when I got to Velocity that going to a hotel was fine. Especially after that first night. And with the electrical issues I'm not sure we could have stayed in it comfortably. Yes, I was ready to walk away and come back later a few times :-)) The only thing not great about our desert in Tombstone is the lack of wildflowers. We loved the poppies and all the other beautiful flowers going in both directions.

  8. I lived in Carlsbad on Carlsbad Blvd when it really was small ... 1974-1984. Thought I'd never leave but too many people coming in even that long ago. Single story beach houses were tore down turning into multi-level condos ... time to leave a great small town.

    1. Those little beach towns are hard to find on both coasts, but we love the few we've found in our travels. I visited Carlsbad several times in the late '70's and it was great.

  9. Oh my golly WOW! Sure glad there was lots of family LOVE in there. I'm going to believe you're at the reunion and all is good. Where next?