Our visit to San Diego was certainly one to remember for a long time to come. We accomplished most of what we had intended to although we would have loved to have spent more time with each of our friends there. In fact there were some we were never able to get together with and others whom we only were able to visit with either via telephone or in groups. However, six weeks is a long time for us to be anywhere, so when it came time to go, we did so happy to have accomplished what we had.
Connie and I both got pretty sick with what we called the San Diego crud during our visit. That fact alone limited our visiting for a couple of reasons. We certainly did not want to spread what we had to anyone else, and neither of us felt very sociable during the worst parts of the illness. I got the crud first. I am not a very good patient. Once I went down all I wanted to do was stay down. I got a bit crabby before it was all over and I am certain Connie was ready to toss me out on my head. Just before reaching that point she came down with it and no longer had the strength to push me out the door. We both survived and I am sure we are stronger for it, but it was certainly no fun.
Connie was able to get together with a group of women she had done aerobics with for the two years we lived in San Diego. The group walked around Lake Murray and then went to lunch one week. Then a few weeks later they just did lunch. Connie really enjoyed getting back together with that wonderfully diverse group of women. I am sure that had we stayed much longer they would have been sneaking her into the gym for aerobics.
One Sunday Connie and I went to Lake Murray to run. Following the run we went to the nearest Starbucks which just happened to be a block outside the entrance. We got our Latte and Cappuccino and took them outside to enjoy in the warm sun. To our surprise there was a barista holding a rather formal looking and sounding coffee tasting. As Clark prepared the participants for each of the three coffees he had brewed for them he talked about the beans and the resulting aromas and tastes as though he was discussing wine. As we listened I became very interested not only in the methods he was employing, but also the history and the endless stream of product knowledge that flowed from Clark’s brain. It was obvious he was passionate about the product and really knowledgeable. We learned that this was a weekly event that he was holding as part of the requirements to earn his black apron. I made it a point to return every Sunday and take part in the program from then until Easter. I will spare you all that I learned about coffee and the brewing of same, but will share the last week with you. Part of Clark’s goal was to allow each of the participants in the weeks of tastings to formulate a list of the three or four coffees we liked the best. Then based on our new found knowledge about acidity and a variety of other facts we got to make our own blends by mixing beans from the total of four different varieties we agreed to use in the blending experiment. Each of us made our own blend based on what we thought would satisfy our personal palates the most. I chose a blend that included espresso as the base, but to be coarsely ground for subsequent brewing rather than packed into an espresso machine. I added one other bold coffee and one in the mid range. There was twice as much espresso as the other two coffees which were of equal weight. I have since ground my blend and made one pot so far and it is just wonderful. Before participating in Clark’s tastings I would have never thought to use espresso for anything other than espresso or cappuccino making. I was really surprised at how different that coffee tastes when coarse ground and then brewed. Each of the coffees we tasted throughout the program was brewed in a French Press except one. On about the third week Clark gave us two samples of the same coffee, one brewed in the big urn and one pressed. The difference was shocking. I have always enjoyed pressed coffee when I have had it in restaurants, but I never tried a side by side comparison to see just what the difference is. I was reawakened to the magic of coffee by doing that comparison test. As you can imagine, I now own a French Press and I use it exclusively. I have to admit that cleanup is a bit of a chore since I cannot just run the grounds down the drain like I could in a house. But, the additional cleanup effort is worth the full rich flavors that can only be gotten via a press.
I gave Clark high marks for his passion, knowledge and dedication to a product that is helping him earn a degree in biology. He hopes to someday become a professor. He has the skills to be an effective teacher and he certainly demonstrated that he can be passionate about the subject he may be teaching. I think Howard Schultz ought to get his hands on him, pay for the rest of his education, and then use him in the corporation for a few years before financing his advanced degrees in biology. So, Howard, if you have happened to stumble across this blog, Clark’s your man.
Even though we were camped adjacent to one of the best pairs of golf courses in the military system, if it had not been for our friend Deborah Robillard, Connie and I would likely as not played any golf while we were in San Diego. That would have been criminal. Of course since we only played one round our scores were pretty criminal as well. This was the first time we had played since that half round we played with my cousin, Dan, in Peoria, AZ. We were rusty. That said, we all had a great time and we were getting better as the round went on. Thank you Deborah for getting us out there.
I mentioned in my last post that one of our reasons for going to the FMCA convention as a day trip was to try to find someone who would install a satellite internet system on a tripod for us. I am sure I also mentioned that there was no one there who was in the business. Well, I eventually e-mailed a guy who spends his winters in the foothills area of Yuma, AZ, every year. His retirement income is supplemented by installing and servicing Hughes Net Satellite Antenna Systems for RVers. He responded to my e-mail and we were soon talking on the phone. As luck would have it, Glenn did not need us to bring the entire motorhome to Yuma to do the installation and training. We were able to drive over in the car, set up the system in Glenn’s yard, program the modem/computer, install software on our computer that assists in the setup and testing of the link and of course sign up for Hughes Net service. We got over there late in the morning for what we were led to believe would be an all-afternoon session. We must have either impressed Glenn or bored him, because we were out of there in just a few hours armed with a new gadget and hopefully sufficient knowledge to replicate the alignment when we got back to San Diego. No, Pearl, we did not call, because we didn’t think we would have any free time.
Since we got out of Yuma as early as we did, we decided to take a bit of a detour on our way home and check out the spot we wanted to dry camp at in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. We had two concerns about our favorite place. We wanted to make sure there was no one sort of squatting there for the winter/spring and we also were not sure we should drive our motorhome down the almost road that goes to the site. We found the road to be much the same as when we were last there. There was a series of turns just before the campsite that looked a little dicey, but other than that it would just be a very slow 1.5 mile drive. That sort of jazzed us up for what was to come.
We continued on our trip back to San Diego and I soon realized we would get there before it got dark. Therefore, we would get there in plenty of time to exercise our new found training and set up the satellite dish. BIG MISTAKE! My argument was “repeat the setup soonest before we forgot any details.l The reality was that by the time we got home there may have been plenty of light, but there was just as much exhaustion of the brain and we still forgot many a fine detail. Of course I forgot the most important detail, listen to you wife when she says we should wait until tomorrow. We ultimately did wait until the next day to get properly aligned and therefore connected to the internet. There were a lot more details in my head that morning after a good night’s sleep and a great cup of coffee.
Did I mention that all of that happened on St. Patrick’s Day? By the time I gave up the ghost it was too late to go in search of an Irish meal so we wound up eating at Joe’s Crab Shack. Not exactly a bit of the green, if you know what I mean. I was lucky to have survived the night as Connie holds St. Patrick’s Day pretty darn special. I tried to make it up to her the next day by getting her connected via our dish.
We were able to visit with several of our Audubon friends during a Sunday evening at a Greek restaurant. That was a lot of fun, but as there were four and a half couples of us, it was impossible to keep up with all the various conversations going on. Connie and I sat in the middle of the table. Therefore she spent the majority of her time with the folks on her right while I talked primarily to those to my left. Every now and then there would be a whole table topic that mixed things up a bit. It was a great evening and one we would have loved to have repeated.
Terri had told us she would be unable to attend the Sunday get together so on the Friday before, we met her outside her home in North Park and walked to a nearby little restaurant. Like most of North Park the restaurant Terri had chosen was very unique with dishes that you would never think to put together. The really big surprise was that it was not one of those overpriced kind of new age sort of places. We had a great time catching up with everything going on in Terri’s life while enjoying a great dinner in a really relaxing atmosphere. After dinner we walked around the corner to another of Terri’s favorite spots, a dessert restaurant. We imbibed much more freely in dessert than we normally do. I suspect it was because we were walking (ha ha). Finally, we went back to Terri’s condo which is just absolutely to die for. She has a great view of the neighborhood and the mountains. The building is super secure and full of amenities such as a party room with giant television and a “you supply” wet bar. There is a fitness center in the building. The condo itself is the perfect size for one or two people. The designer had a good eye for what is important and utilized the available space accordingly. I really loved the place, but I am not ready to trade the coach for even that location.
It seemed that the closer we got to leaving the longer our list of “have to dos” got. We found ourselves running around like crazy people trying to do everything we felt needed to be done before getting underway. I swear one would think we were going to another planet the way we were behaving. Of course we were going to the desert and there would be little in the way of shopping opportunities. Therefore we needed to make sure we had all the food we needed for the week we intended to dry camp. We also needed to make sure we were caught up on our verbal communications with friends and family members as we were pretty sure we would have no cell phone coverage. So, there was some justification to our busy schedule as we prepared to roll out of San Diego.
When we did get underway there was sort of a collective sigh indicating that we were right to be on the road again even though all our San Diego intentions were not completely fulfilled. I am sure we will return, but we are not saying when.
So, what is next? You already know we were heading for the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. So, what you can expect in my next post should include some great images of the beautiful desert flowers, some awesome scenery and maybe a bird shot or two. Of course, there will be an abundance of words as well.