Friday, March 30, 2012

Good-Bye La Verne!

Our 3 week project in LaVerne CA is over.  We were all very impressed with the general area, the village itself, and the local congregation.  They were so friendly, and FED us so well that it was hard to tear ourselves away.  But spring is coming to the northland, and the granddaughters need hugs (and so do the grandparents!).

We finished most of our work by Thursday morning; in time for a wonderful pasta lunch prepared by Babe (who has 30 years catering experience).  Here is Babe, on the right, along with Janice, our local materials gatherer.

Thursday evening we had our own team potluck dinner right after Pastor Linda showed us some old home movies of the construction of their wonderful sanctuary.  This building was also part of 3 other movies.  All of them tried to imitate the ending of The Graduate.  See this link,56223/ for a 6 minute clip of the film details.  I especially liked the ending with Simon and Garfunkel (What have we just done?)  Our team leaders gave a nice presentation and overview of our project along with “awards” for each of us.  Bob developed a “new” way of working (laying down to paint and remove motors, etc) so got an award for this new work position.  Paige received an award for being so flexible – that was a very nice award!

 This morning, Friday, was packing and loading, and saying our final “goodbyes”.  We were on the road by 11:00, in time to stop for a late lunch at Emma Jeans Holland Burger CafĂ© in Victorville, as featured on Diners,Drive-ins, & Dives,

With a later start, and a big lunch, we ended our day at the KOA in Needles, CA.  We can see Arizona from where we are parked.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Another Weekend in the Big City

Our second week on this project has been quite successful.  We have removed an old dishwasher, hung a couple of shelves, installed an interior door where once there was only wall, and did a LOT of painting.  All-in-all, a typical NOMAD project.  Our weekend began on Friday, when we met with Tomie, our niece, and got a tour of the USC campus, including her sorority building

 and USC’s sports heritage building where at least 6 Heisman Trophies are on display.
OJ Simpson's Heisman

Saturday we had 2 outings, and both related to food.  First was a brunch with Joel and Stephanie (whose father is a cousin of Paige’s mother).  Bob and Joel discussed motorcycling and travel, while Paige and Stephanie caught up on common relatives.  It was great to learn about another segment of our family! 

Upon our return to LaVerne, all of the NOMADS were treated to a backyard BBQ at the nearby house of a couple from the congregation.
Sunday started cool and sunny, but turned really wet and cold – a nice day to stay inside with a roast in the crockpot.

We have a “resident” skunk here where we are camped behind the church.  Trot (as we call him) has a daily schedule.  In the morning around 7:30 to 8, he comes in front of the motorhome and heads to the large grassy area.  You can see him as he roams around as his large fluffy tail can be seen in the long grass.  At about 5 p.m., he comes again around the back of the motorhomes and heads again to the grassy area.  We’ve also seen him around the church.  He’s a pretty skunk, BUT he’s still a skunk!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Snow! In Los Angeles?

We expect snow in the wintertime in Minnesota, but last weekend we had worse weather here in California, and all over the West, than they had back home.  Down here in the LA basin (1100 ft elevation) we had rain and wind.  We are walking distance from Foothill Blvd, which was old Route 66 in the past.  It runs along the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains.  Here are a couple of views from where we are parked:

Notice the snow up there?  Spring is here already.

Just 12 miles from us is the nearest ski area, Mt Baldy.  Today’s weather just called for a motorcycle ride, so Bob went there. 

It took 20 miles to get there, since the road is so twisty.  There were about 10 switchbacks along the way, and at least one section with a 15% grade.  The turnaround spot was over 6200 ft (over a mile above the motorhome).  Here is the view starting down

Now that Bob’s had his dose of motorcycling, the weather can turn crummy again, like it’s already forecasted for the coming weekend.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Strawberry Fields and Other Stuff

It is Saturday already.  We have put in our normal 4-day workweek and have already finished a major painting project.  Another day or two should finish the kitchen project.  
Bob is laying down on the job!

Luckily our hosts have plenty of additional projects available to fill our time here for the next two weeks.

As mentioned in our previous posting, this church was used for the filming of the wedding scene near the end of “The Graduate” a 1967 release that helped make Dustin Hoffman the star that he is today.  Congratulations to Carrie, who was the first to comment back to us with the right answer.  This church has also been featured in a few other films but we don’t have those names.

A large commercial strawberry patch is located on the church’s property just south of us, and the crop is ready for picking and eating.  They are large and sweet.  We have already purchased and eaten many pints and expect to go through more. 

The local community holds a weekly produce/street fair every Thursday, beginning this past week. There were craft and produce vendors as well as entertainment.   As a group, we took advantage of it on our way out to dinner together at a local BBQ restaurant.  

Yesterday, our whole group took a field trip to another nearby agency that often hosts NOMADS, David and Margaret Youth and Family Services.  For details see .  There is a tremendous need for the work they do here, and there is little financial help from the state, county, and cities nearby so volunteer help is greatly appreciated.

Today is a rainy, dreary day.  Highs in the mid 50’s only.  Our friends and family in Minnesota are experiencing beautiful weather in the 70’s.  Guess we deserve this!  We’re honkering down here and may get together with the other two couples to watch movies in the social hall this afternoon.  We have corned beef and sauerkraut in the slow cooker in honor of St. Patrick’s day.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ready to get back to work

Saturday we moved all of 23 miles, from a quiet regional park to our next project site, the Methodist Church in LaVerne, CA.  We met our team leaders on Saturday afternoon and another working couple who arrived on Sunday afternoon.

This church appeared in a major film starring Dustin Hoffman.  Can any readers name that film?  (Answer will be posted later)

Apparently we’ll be doing a lot of painting and some carpentry work.  Mostly indoors work.  There’s a cold front affecting our weather this week – we might have colder temps than our Minnesota friends!  The location of this project is such that we can walk to most anything we want.  Going to the left on the main street takes us to the grocery store, Kohl’s, many restaurants and other major stores.  Going to the right takes us to old town LaVerne which has several smaller, local restaurants.  It’s a very nice area!  Now - back to work!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Taking it “easy” in Los Angeles

We arrived in Chino California on Tuesday and did little more than find our campsite, get groceries and get settled.  It was pretty quiet around here then.

On Wednesday we wandered around Pomona, LaVerne (where our next project will be), and to Pasadena, getting as far as the Rose Bowl before returning to camp for a nap. 

This metro area is very large, with lots of freeways (thank goodness for GPS).  Being mid-week, the campground is still pretty empty and quiet.  From our motorhome we have a nice view of the lake here.  Here is how our sunset looked

Thursday was another sightseeing day, driving first to the Hollywood area to see the sign on the hillside (unfortunately we couldn’t get a photo).  To prove we were there, here are some other tourist photos:
This is the Kodak Theater where the Academy Awards are presented.
Kermit the Frog's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

The sidewalks were filled with other tourists, and hustlers trying to get the tourists’ dollars so we left after only 15 to 20 minutes.  It was nice to see, but not someplace we wanted to spend a lot of time.  Next on our route was Beverly Hills

Rodeo Drive (we didn't do any shopping here - or get out of the car!)

and the Santa Monica pier (no photo).  Back at the campground, we saw another motor home just like ours.  The owners are also fulltimers who have been on the road for 8 years so far, and are also South Dakota residents.  We had a nice chat comparing the rigs.

Today was supposed to be a quiet day off, but that ended when Bob dropped the maple syrup on the carpeting and it spattered onto the walls and furniture (and Paige!).  The morning was spent renting and using a carpet cleaner.  The carpeting needed cleaning anyways!  The afternoon was spent on laundry.

It is clear that the weekend is almost here as the campground is now filling up with families in smaller trailers.  It’s not the quiet campground it was yesterday!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Into the Los Angeles Metro area

While still in San Diego on Monday, we visited Balboa Park which was the site of a world's fair in the early 1900's.  This is a huge park with many museums, flower gardens, and the San Diego Zoo.  It was another beautiful day for sightseeing.
The Casa del Prado Theater

One of the gardens

After our visit to the park, we did laundry, cleaning, and repairing of one of our window blinds.  We’ve done this repair a few times previously and it is not easy to do!  Living in the motorhome still requires maintenance as we’ve experienced recently.  We replaced the water pump in Mesa, found that it wasn’t working right so had to replace that again on our way to LA.  We had to add some additional venting on the roof to eliminate some foul smells from the gray water tanks while traveling.  Seems like we’ve got all the maintenance items taken care of – we’re keeping our fingers crossed!

Tuesday’s forecast was for high winds later in the day, so we got an early start and left the San Diego area by 9:15.  We made a quick stop at the Camping World in San Marcos for the water pump replacement but still finished driving about 1 p.m. before the winds picked up.  

We are nearly alone (only 3 other units at 75 available campsites) at a San Bernadino County regional park, and less than 20 miles from the church we will be working at beginning next week.  We will be moving there on Saturday so we have 4 days available for geocaching, sightseeing, and just being lazy.  Today is a beautiful, sunny day and we have a nice view of a small lake here.  Only in the mid 60’s but it’s going to be in the high 70’s during the next few days.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

More Sightseeing in San Diego

Saturday’s sightseeing had us continuing with the “scenic drive” we had started on Friday.  The instructions provided on the Internet left a lot to be desired and many of the route markers were missing from the streets, so it was a mixed effort. The weather here warmed up to the mid 70’s so it was a beautiful day for this drive. We did see Mission Bay, Soledad Mountain, La Jolla, and Pacific Beach, all on the northwest edge of the city, before lunch and a short walk on Mission Beach. This area is very hilly with many beautiful homes with great views of the oceans.
View of San Diego beach
 Bob and Paige by the Ocean

We saw some interesting architecture and a lot of neighborhoods, but parking is at a premium here.  We got to Balboa Park briefly but it was very crowded on this weekend, so we plan to come back later in the week.  During this drive, we actually stopped at one yarn shop that provided its own parking, but passed on a second one since there was no parking available.  Paige looked but didn’t buy this time!

We are staying in a very nice state park/campground.  Being that it was a weekend, the campground filled up Friday night with families and children. There was much more activity here than in the week but it was good to see so many families enjoy this area.  By late Sunday, the campground was emptied out leaving just the “old folks” here again – quieter now!

Sunday began with a local church service where we had a nice conversation after the service with a future Nomad.  Then the sightseeing continued with our visit to Coronado, across the bay from San Diego.  We got there from the south, coming up the “silver strand” from Imperial Beach and leaving on the relatively new bridge to downtown.  The weather was absolutely beautiful with temperature around 80!  We had more time on the beach behind Hotel del Coronado, an iconic wooden structure more than 125 years old.
The Hotel del Coronado from the beach

 What a sand castle!

The afternoon continued with more sightseeing near downtown: the baseball park, the Gaslamp Quarter, and “Little Italy” where we had a late lunch/early dinner at Filippi’s (recommended by Paula and Joyce).
Bob and Paige at Filippi's

Then it was time for a nap for Bob.   Tomorrow we’ll do laundry and go to Balboa Park for our last day of sightseeing here in San Diego.  We’ll head a little closer to Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Tourists in San Diego

On Thursday, we had an easy drive from Yuma along Interstate 8, and pulled into Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve by mid-afternoon. (See   for details of this interesting park.)

We are not in San Diego, itself, but are within 20 miles of the bay.

Friday was our time to play tourist; neither of us has ever been here.  We took a 2-hour boat tour of the bay, followed by a walk to Seaport Village.  The US Navy and Marines have a huge presence here and we saw lots of Sky Hawk helicoptors. 

   USS Midway Aircraft Carrier

VJ day

It was nice to see a tribute to Bob Hope as well.  He was performing for the troops here.

 Bob Hope Entertaining the Troops 

Before going home, we started part of the self-guided driving tour around the bay, to Point Loma where we found the Cabrillo National Monument.  How many of our readers know who Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was, and why we have a National Monument in his honor?

 Bob and Paige on hill overlooking San Diego

 A view of the harbor and a cruise ship from our tour boat

Paige also got to see a surfer and realized she had never seen one before!  A first at her age!


We'll be going back tomorrow for some more tourist stuff.  Maybe we'll even find a yarn shop??