Year 1 Day 65 Our Last Day

Time here in Southern California has just flown by.  It probably is because we have been so busy running around fulfilling our appointments and trying to see as many of our old friends and former neighbors that we could.  In the few days we have been here, we have put on over 300 miles on our little Fiat!

Today was no exception.  It started with us driving back up to Lake Forest so our dentist, Dr. Sal, could make and install a crown on the post that was implanted into Mary Margaret’s lower jaw two days ago.  Today’s technology is just so impressive.  Dr. Dal used a 3-D scanner and then inputted the data into a computer which then shaped and cut the new crown.  45 minutes later, the crown was done, and Dr. Sal popped it into Mary Margaret’s mouth.  Ta Da! It was all done! Yea!

Next, we drove over to Paula’s house.  Paula is Mary Margaret’s former manicurist that she used for years and years when we live down here.  They have become good friends and she tries to visit her whenever we come down to this neck in the woods.  Paula is 76 years old but still works making hands beautiful.  This last year she has moved her business to her home and all of her faithful clients have followed her there.  She loves working out of her house as it is so convenient.

We left around noon and, at that time, we tried calling my former mentor’s wife, Barbara, to see if we could swing by to say hi.  Unfortunately, she was not home so it was a missed opportunity.

We returned to LeuC and grabbed some lunch and rested a bit, all of this running around is very rewarding but also exhausting.   While Mary Margaret stayed to do laundry, and rest her sore jaw, I drove over to Doheny to visit my cousin, Robbie, and his girlfriend, Kim.  Back in 1965, I spend a couple of months with my aunt and uncle and Robbie.  During that summer, Robbie taught me to surf as Doheny Beach used to be one of Sothern California’s top surfing spots.  However, since then, Dana Point to the north, built a huge marina and jetty which changed the wave patterns and Doheny lost it surf and stopped being a surfer’s haven.  Nevertheless, my memories of being a young teenager and surfing the summer away remains.  Such great times!

It was great seeing Robbie again and meeting Kim.  Robbie now lives in the house that my aunt and uncle owned and where I stayed back in 1965.  They built the house in or around 1950 and it was one of the first houses on the bluff overlooking Doheny.  Since then, numerous mansions have been built and the view is now blocked.  But the area is still so beautiful.

Tomorrow morning, we will bundle up LeuC and start our journey up to Sacramento.  We will take 2 days to make the 350 mile trip, stopping at the Harris Ranch to spend the night.


Year 1 Day 64  A Wet And Loving Day

We got up early this morning, donned our swim suits, grabbed our towels and hopped into our little Fiat.  We drove over to our old neighborhood, which is called Nigel Shores.  It is a wonderful community with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island in the distance.  It has a large community center with a beautiful pool and spa.  We met our good friends, Ann and Steve, who still live here and joined them with the Dippy Dolphins.  This is a 3 times a week aquatic aerobics class that has been going on for years and years.  When we lived in Nigel Shores back during 2000 through 2007, Mary Margaret was an active member and loved it.

We were greeted by a number of people and friends who have been Dippy Dolphins for years.  One of them, Bunny, had introduced us to her family back in 2010.  They live in New Zealand and we arrived after sailing across the South Pacific, we so enjoyed meeting and getting to know them.

Today I discovered that while the aquatic aerobics class is about great exercise, it is also a great social function with all of the Dippy Dolphins being friends and keeping an eye out on the wellbeing of each member.  There were about 25 people there today and Steve shared with me that sometimes it grows to 40 people.  The instructor, Cindy, has been there since before we left to go sailing and Mary Margaret was thrilled to see and talk with her again.  It was like old times.  What a wonderful time we had and what warm and nice people!

Afterwards, we said our sad goodbyes and drove down the shore a few miles to Doheny where my cousin, Robbie, lives.  We thought we would just stop by to see if he was home.  He was but was in the process of stepping out of the house, having a meeting he had to attend.  I promised that I would try to swing by again tomorrow afternoon in hope of getting together.  He said that he would be there so I am keeping my fingers crossed that our schedule works out.

We returned to LeuC and shortly thereafter, our friends Debbie and Steve arrived.  Their daughter, Stephanie, and our daughter, Christina, were cheerleaders together and are still best buds.  We cracked open a bottle of Champaign and celebrated our getting together again and then gave a tour of LeuC.  Afterwards, we drove over to San Juan Capistrano, to return to Café Mozart, which our other friends, Ann and Steve, had introduced us to last night.  The food, wine and ambiance were so remarkable we wanted to share it with Debbie and Steve.  Each time we share a meal with Ann and Steve, they introduce to us a restaurant that is to die for and Café Mozart being no exception.

Tonight, we enjoyed glazed duck, swimming in brandied cherries or the wiener schnitzel with spätzle and red cabbage, each paired with great wines. Of course, the conversations we shared as we caught up on everything that had gone on in our respective lives and families over the last year were great and made the evening fly by. It was so special!

For a second time in two nights, we closed the restaurant.  We then said our sad goodbyes, sharing promises of getting together in either New Orleans or Savanah next spring.  We have our fingers crossed this will work out.

By the time we returned to our campground, it was 2150, just 10 minutes before the entrance would be closed for the night.  To our shock, the gates at the entrance were closed and Mary Margaret spied the chains and locks which were wrapped around the gates.  Fortunately, when she got out to inspect them, she discovered that the locks were not locked, and she was able to remove them and the chains, and then opened the gates.  Whew!  Once I had driven through and Mary Margaret reclosed the gates, we continued on to our campsite and LeuC.  Yea!  What a remarkable ending to a remarkable day.




Year 1 Day 63 More Dear Friends

I received a surprised Facebook message this morning from the wife of my former mentor, Joe DeFranco.  Joe was a member the Board of Directors when I was hired as a partner into an environmental engineering firm when I left state government way back in 1988.  He taught me the basics of running a successful and profitable company with the mantra of: “cashflow, cashflow, cashflow”.  Nine years later, after I and my partners sold our firm, I used that mantra and many of the other little secrets he drilled into my head to open up my own environmental company which also was very profitable.  I owe it all to Joe and the wisdom he shared with me.

Barbara, his wife of over 70 years, posted a message to me this morning asking me to call her.  What a wonderful surprise!  I immediately called and thoroughly enjoyed talking with this warm and gentle lady.  She shared with me that Joe quietly passed away this last February when we were still sailing around the West indies.  She shared that he was ready to go and while that helped ease my pain, it was still a shock.  Joe was a rock, a person who was an Icon in industry, and a person who helped so many people throughout their lives.  He will be sorely missed, not just by me but by all of those who he impacted in such a positive way.

Barbara, while 91 years old, is doing very well and, in fact, shared with me that she will be flying over to Hawaii in a couple of weeks to enjoy Thanksgiving with one of her daughters.  We are going to try to squeeze in a visit in the next couple of days if we can.  Our stay in So Cal is truncated as we wish to drive up to San Francisco this Friday to attend our granddaughter’s Baptism on Sunday.  Thus, we will not be able to see as many of our old and dear friends as we had originally hoped.  As we all get older, missed opportunities are more and more significant.

Speaking of dear friends, we were able to spend the evening over a delicious dinner with Ann and Steve, two former neighbors from when we lived in Dana Point.  Ann and Mary Margaret were “Dippy Dolphins” during the 7 years we lived there.  Dippy Dolphins is the name of the water aerobics class that is still being held 3 times a week in the neighborhood’s community pool.  Steve shared with us that he and three other men have joined the 30 or so women who so enjoy this form of exercise.  In fact, they have invited us to join them and see a number of our former neighbors early tomorrow morning during their next meeting.  We plan on grabbing our swimming suits and will brave the waters with them.  I have a cousin who lives just a few miles away that I wish to see and since Dippy’s is on the way, it is an opportunity we do not wish to miss!

We also were able to see another dear friend today, Maggie.  Maggie is our CPA and we have known her for 28 years.  She helped Mary Margaret manage the financial side of our firm and we have recommended her to a number of our friends over the years who now use her also.  It was great to see her and see that she is doing well.

Squeezed into this busy day Mary Margaret also visited a specialist who finished implanting a post into her jaw so that our dentist, Dr. Sal, can install a crown this Thursday.  Since we have previously been in the States just for a couple of months each year, this procedure has taken three years to get to this stage.  In just a couple of day, it will be all over.  Yea!


Year 1 Day 62 Another Busy Day

Our first couple of months of living and traveling in an RV have been pretty hectic but also very rewarding.  We have driven over 3,000 miles: exploring places that we have never seen before and meeting numerous wonderful people.  Now, we have briefly returned to the area where we used to live (southern Orange Country in California) and raised our kids.  A number of our dear friends still live here and we are filling up our free time with visits to as many of them as we can.

These visits are interspersed with meetings with professionals who have taken care of us for over 25 years.  These include our dentist, financial advisor (and dear friend, Ken) and our CPA (another dear friend, Maggie).  Today we visited our dentist and financial advisor and were rewarded with another clean bill of health from our dentist (Dr. Sal) and a rosy report regarding our financial status.

As it turns out, the radically alternative lifestyles of either living on a sailboat or living in an RV are actually rather inexpensive when compared to what it previously cost us to live on the land in a conventual manner.  Furthermore, being an RVer is even less costly than living on a sailboat and sailing around the world.  Go figure!

After our dental appointment and meeting with Ken, we swung by and visited with a former neighbor we had during the 12 years we lived in Lake Forest.  For years Mary Margaret and I used to take dance lessons with our neighbors, Glenda and Bob.  Bob passed away about 3 years ago and we miss him dearly but it is always so great to spend time with Glenda.  She is a vivacious, gregarious and energic person who is so much fun to be around.  While it has taken her a little while to deal with the loss of a lifemate, she has rediscovered herself and is once more enjoying life to the fullest.  To us, she is a role model on how to sweetly remember a love one lost but also as one who once again grabs with gusto the love ones she still has and enjoys life to the fullest.  She is a remarkable woman and we are so fortunate to be able to call her a dear friend.

She drove with us to see our new home on wheels and afterwards we went out for an early dinner in San Juan Capistrano.  The restaurant was located right across the street from the old Catholic Mission that is famous for the swallows that return to nest there each year.  For years, due to the development of the area, the swallows had stop returning but Glenda told us that for the last couple of years, they have started to return once more.  We were thrilled to hear that.

We enjoyed a wonderful meal at the Cedar Creek Inn.  It had been years since any of us had been there and we were so happy that the quality of the service, the ambiance and its delicious food had not changed.  My swordfish covered in a fruit salsa was to die for!

Year 1 Day 61 Dear Friends

This morning we drove over to San Clemente to visit with Mary Margaret’s dear friend, Robin, and her sister, Pat.  In the past, when we lived on our sailboat, we would stay with Robin at her house for about a week and she would pamper us with great meals, strong, delicious coffee and wonderful wines and spirits.  We used Robins house as a base where we would run around for the week, fulfilling the various annual appointments we needed to keep.  However, now that we are back on land and have our own house on wheels, we went over to just spend the day.

After getting together and chatting, Mary Margaret and Robin went off together for a mani/pedi; enjoying their girl thing while I took our little Fiat and did a number of errands.  When we all returned to Robin’s house, Robin’s sister, Pat, came over and we all enjoyed a brunch of quiche, salad and fruits all paired with a wonderful dry rose’.  Ooooh, so good!  Robin and Pat are foodies like Mary Margaret and I and their skills at the epicurean side of the ledger are unmatched.

With our tummies full and smiles on our faces, we then hoped in our respective cars and drove over to our campsite in the Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness so Robin and Pat could see our new home.  When we arrived, they were rather shocked at how big LeuC was.  We have gotten used to this reaction by people who are just seeing LeuC for the very first time.  After all, she is 40 feet long, about 15 feet wide with the slides out, 13.5 feet high and weighs in at a trim 20 plus tons!  In other words, she is BIG!

They were a bit overwhelmed with how plush she is inside and the vision of the Leu’s “roughing it” in the wilderness quickly dissipated.  As the sun set over the western hills, they had to leave so avoid driving in the dark down the windy two-lane road that leads down from the mountains to the ocean.

It was so great seeing Robin and Pat again as we cherish their friendship and kindness.

Year 1 Day 60 California, Here We Come!

We continued our travels this morning, heading west toward the California border, just 20 miles away.  As we crossed the Colorado River and passed from Arizona into California, we were greeted by the infamous California Agricultural Inspection Station.

All vehicles must pass through this inspection station, as the officers stand guard looking for foreign agriculture pests that could sneak into the state and decimate State’s key economic engine.  It brought memories of when we moved from Delaware to California back in 1984.  At that time, Mary Margaret and I and our three very young kids, passed through this same station driving our maxivan.  At that time, they stopped us and did an inspection looking for the nefarious east coast pine bark beetle.  They even ending up sending an inspector to our new home in Sacramento a week later to finish the inspection.  They were very serious about preventing bad bugs sneaking into the state.

Today…not so much.  Here we were with our big, long LeuC, pulling our little Fiat and our South Dakota license plate staring the inspector right in her face and she just smiled and waved us through!  Go figure!

We spent the rest of the morning driving down the freeways approaching and then passing through San Bernardino, Riverside, Anaheim, Santa Anna, Irvine, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo and finally, San Juan Capistrano.  For the last two hours the traffic was pretty impressive with drivers zipping in and out of their lanes at high speeds and then braking hard as parking lots of cars formed at key pinch points.  It was a hoot driving LeuC through this mess and maze of freeways.

We arrived at the Ortega Flats Campground which is nestled in the Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness that runs up and into the Santa Ana Mountains; with Saddleback Ridge and its twin mountains: Santiago Peak (the highest peak in the range and the highest point in the county at 5,689 feet) and Modjeska Peak (which is the second highest in this range of mountains at 5,496 feet).

The campground is lovely with lots of California Oak trees and Cottonwoods yielding lots of privacy.

Here Is A Photo Of LeuC Snuggled Amongst The Trees.


The sun was out and it was another beautiful day so we had our exterior shade canopy pulled out to keep LeuC cool.

Tomorrow, we will be spending the day with our good friend Robin and the rest of the week will be spent having appointments filled with our dentist for our annual checkups, financial advisor and CPA.  Between these meetings, we will be seeing old friends that we miss so much!  Whoo Hoo!  A fun week ahead to look forward to!

Year 1 Day 59 Boondocking

This morning we bundled up LeuC and started driving down the road.  Our goal was the BLM land just north of Quartzite, AZ, near the AZ/CA border.  It was only 165 miles, so it was an easy 3 hour drive.  It included a stop at an Arco gas station where we filled up our fuel tank with diesel that cost only $2.65 a gallon.  We only needed 28 gallons, but we just had to fill up knowing that once we cross into California, the price will be much more.

The BLM land we are now camped on is known as dispersed camping land.  This means that one can camp anywhere on this area that is so designated.  We did have to check in with a camp host and fill out an information sheet, but there was no cost.

We are located about 5 miles north of the town of Quartzite, near the intersection of US 95 and Plomosa Rd.  There are a number of large pull out areas along Plomosa Rd, most of which are empty.  There are a few other RVs in the general area but they are far and few between.

Here Are A Few Shots Of Our Site And Area


This area is famous for a number of reasons but the one that we find the most interesting is that just a few miles east of us is a large Intaglio also known as a geoglyph or earth figure called the Bouse Fisherman.

Geoglyths are very large earth figures that were created generations ago by the indigenous people. The dark desert pavement stones were removed and the design dug deep into the light colored soil that is beneath.  This method is the same used in the Nazca Plain in Peru.  We visited the Nazca Plain back in 2009 while we were in the process of sailing around the world.  We rented a plane and flew over a number of the earth figures so we could view them well.

We will not have a chance to explore the Bouse Fisherman this time but hope to return on our way back to Tucson, either right before Thanksgiving or after the Christmas holidays.  Until then, I hope this aerial photo of the Blouse Fisherman will satisfy your curiosity. There are actually a number of these in this area.  A couple are across the Colorado River near Blythe, CA.

Here Is The Bouse Fisherman Enhanced For A Better View


Early tomorrow, we continue on our way to the Ortega Flats Campground within the Ronald W. Caspers Wildness area near San Juan Capistrano.  We will be there for 6 days seeing old friends, having our annual dental checkup and meeting with our financial advisor and CPA.  The drive should take about 6 hours.  We are hoping that the traffic around LA will not be too bad since it will be Saturday.