California - Visiting Di & Graham

10th March - 6th April 2011

Barb's birthday

Our first morning in beautiful San Diego didn't begin particularly well, with a Tsunami warning, following the massive earthquakes in Japan. Fortunately the effect of the Tsunami on the city's waterfront was minimal. A good job as, despite the warnings, crowds of on-lookers had gathered on the seafront.

We were soon launched into the local social whirl. First was a beachfront bike ride, to orientate the visitors. This was followed by Phil being whisked off to the boy's happy hour that evening, whilst Christine was kindly invited along to the birthday party being thrown for Di's friend Barbara. We were glad neither of us imbibed too much, as we were put to work early next morning, helping our niece, Kate, to move house!

Everything loaded up into the van....

and unloaded again.

With many hands to help with the move, everything was loaded and unloaded at the gorgeous new house by lunch time. At this point we were all delighted to see Kate and John's friend Christopher, who brought along lunch for all the workers. This lunch turned out not to be just a couple of sandwiches as we'd expected, but a delicious and spicy Thai curry! It was good most of the lifting was finished, with a belly full of good food, washed down with several beers, the crew were more reluctant after lunch and preferred to spend their time relaxing in the peaceful, shady garden!

Christopher serves the curry

The workers enjoy lunch

We made the most of the fact that we had somewhere else to sleep, to carry out some maintenance jobs on Harvey-the-RV. We found a great mechanic, Dave at Lamont St Autos, conveniently located just down the road, and finally had a new exhaust manifold fitted. We'd listened to the old one blowing for 4 years (Harvey always sounded like he'd eaten too many beans!). Of course once the exhaust manifold was fixed, the check engine light stubbornly kept coming on, a new sensor was also needed. Harvey was then revamped with new tyres and superstrength shock absorbers, making him drive like a whole new animal on the road!

Harvey gets a makeover

With his mechanical parts all spruced up, it was time for some TLC to Harvey's bodywork. Eventually we managed to track down the correct vinyl trim strip for his corners and this was renewed. Then, whilst we had access to Graham's two sets of ladders, we replaced all the caulking around the exterior.

In Di and Graham's neighbourhood, it was fine to leave Harvey parked, so long as he moved every 72 hours. On consultation with the local parking enforcement, we were told the "even if you drive around the block and park in exactly the same spot, we'll know you've moved". Hmm, left us wondering just how they would know. We often checked around Harvey for marks on the wheels, or on the roadway, but never did work out how. At least we didn't get any parking tickets!

Di and Graham kept us well fed. Our daily excursions for exercise, by bike or on foot along Pacific Beach's lively boardwalk, were always broken up with a refreshment stop for home made chocolate cakes and tea. This probably counteracted the diligent exertion but at least exercise was more fun this way!

At work on mass production of chocolate cakes.

Graham prepares bruschetta for lunch.

Dinner at Kate's

Working off all those calories!

Tea and Cakes on the Embarcadero

Ship used in Master and Commander Movie

Between the eating, working and exercising we managed to fit in some sight-seeing in downtown San Diego. We toured the Embarcadero, enjoying the sculptures and tall ships. After a visit to the Seaport Village, we headed to the guys' favourite fish and chips spot. This was followed up by a trip to the Old Town.

After our walk there, as we were leaving the parking lot, we spotted a familiar small Toyota pickup converted to a mini-camper. We were convinced that this was the vehicle owned by friends we'd last seen when they visited us in the boat yard in Florida. Sure enough, when they got our note, left under their windscreen wipers, we got a call back from a surprised Steve and Lorri and were able to arrange to meet up for lunch and a tour of their larger RV parked nearby.

Lorri and Steve's RV

We'd timed our San Diego visit to coincide with Diane's 21-again birthday. It turned out to be gorgeous sunny day. First we took a road trip about an hour north of Pacific Beach to visit the local flower fields. Here, of course, we took a much needed break for chocolate cakes and tea! That evening we had a wonderful family picnic at the beach.

Birthday Girl and Hubby at the Flower Fields

Family picnic to celebrate

No way for a 21 year old to behave!

The following evening, Di's friend Wendy hosted a lovely birthday party at her home. The birthday cake, made by Wendy's daughter, was stunning! The party began as girls only, but later we were joined by the boys, back from happy hour at the beach. It was a great night.

Soon we were driving Harvey to his storage spot south of the city in Chula Vista, a couple of miles from the Mexican border, ready to fly home to the UK for a month.

Di's birthday cake

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