October 04, 2004

Not-So-Sunny San Diego

Today was one of those simple days, the kind where you get a lot done and enjoy the work involved, where since I am alone I did everything for myself and relished the self satisfaction that comes with independence. Just what I really needed. The last few days have left me near exhaustion and as frazzled as I have been since this journey began.

Dan flew out Friday morning for Jackson, WY. Barbara Marie Goddard, my mother-in-law, had a birthday this weekend. Not just any birthday mind you, but one of those big ones where mothers want their children near them. Her request was to have a weekend with her boys, no wives, no grandchildren. While I am sure that rafting and fly fishing would have been fun too, I was perfectly happy to get some alone time and I had surf camp to attend.

After I dropped Dan off our friend Jack, who lives in San Diego, picked me up for a city tour. We drove all along the coast in Jack’s convertible Mustang and I marveled at how well it corners compared to our behemoth.

Parasailers above Black's beach.

Del Mar at sunset.

After dinner Jack dropped me back off at the truck which was parked in front of our friend Kevin’s house in Del Mar, my first ever night all alone in the camper. I awoke early Saturday and rushed off to La Jolla to find a suitable parking spot for my surf class. I have no problem driving our rig, but I am willing to show up an hour early if it means I donn’t have to back the truck. Since we are dedicating the next three months to the pursuit of surfing, I am very pleased to report that I didn’t suck. In fact I stood up on my first try and a few times afterward.

After class I procured the phone number for another friend and was very pleasantly surprised to hear that he was in town. This friend is Sergeant Michael Marcellus Williams of the U.S. Marine Corps, just back from Iraq. Not only was Marcellus home, but this very day happened to be his welcome home party. I drove out to Oceanside and after getting the “fertilizer bomb check out” at the gate was admitted onto Camp Pendleton Military Base. Marcellus’ party was a fabulous affair, celebrated by his family, his wife Shannon, their two boys Gabriel and Lacy, and the family of another returning marine named Adrian. The joy and relief among the families was palpable.

I ducked out of the party at around 11:30 so as to get some good rest before my next surf lesson, and because I was beat. Truth is I don’t sleep well when I am alone, so the night before hadn’t been very restful and my body was fatigued and sore from surfing. I was parked in the driveway of Marcellus’ neighbor, on the military base and no more than 70’ from Marcellus’ front door.

Part of what is so great about this trip is the opportunity to catch up with old friends. Marcellus (pictured above) and I went to high school together in Cincinnati, Ohio. He wants me to tell you all that he dated Carmen Electra (she went to our school too), I will refrain from further comment on the validity of this statement ;)

At around 3:30am I woke up because I heard some weird metallic sound. My mind likes to play tricks on me when I am stirred late at night, so I tried to dismiss the noise as something outside, wind maybe, but it hadn’t sounded like the wind. I fell back asleep…then I felt a movement in the truck, my cackles went up. Nahhh Rachel, your head’s playing tricks on you. Then, a few moments later another movement, this time I didn’t stop to evaluate, someone else was in my truck and that was one person too many. I went from flat on my back in bed to up through the emergency hatch and standing tall on my roof 11’ above the ground, this happened in less than a second.

“Who’s there? What is going on?” I yelled out. Then I saw him, a man crouching on the ground in front of my truck trying to figure out where the voice was coming from and then which way he should run. We saw each other at the same moment, he froze, I started screaming bloody murder, he took off.

I woke up half the neighborhood. While sleeping in your camper on a military base is seemingly not as safe as one might think, there is an amazing neighborhood watch system. Military wives, who have been living alone while their husbands are at war, are fast to respond. Had this been 1950 they would have run out with rolling pins in hand, since it is 2004 they came armed with cordless phones and flashlights.

The next hour was spent with the MP’s, Marcellus, Shannon and Adrian’s wife who was one of the first wives to come to my rescue. My best guess is that this guy thought my rig looked like a good truck to rob. My doors to the truck cab were open- (I realize at this point that many of you are thinking how could I leave the doors unlocked, I remind you I was on base at my Marine Sergeant friend’s house and when I went to bed 15 people were still celebrating 20’ from me), I assume this criminal had no idea anyone was asleep in there and when he heard me yell I am surprised he didn’t soil my seat.

Needless to say I could not sleep after that. At 7:00 I finally gave up and drove back down to La Jolla. I’d guess that I had gotten about 5 hours of real sleep in the last 48, so surf lessons sounded a bit daunting. Never the less I rallied and enjoyed another two hours of paddling, standing and generally getting trundled in the surf. After class I took out my new board tried and succeeded to catch 3 waves and then poured myself back into the camper to try and rest. No luck, I never have been a good napper.

I decided that if there was any chance that I’d be able to sleep I needed to check back into the RV resort/park we’d stayed in the week before. I procured a spot, set up camp and went and lay by the pool. Kevin called and invited me to dinner with he and his girlfriend Amanda. I left the pool and packed up camp enough to drive up to Del Mar. For the first time I decided to leave my water and sewer hookups in place, I would only be gone an hour or so and this is a nice place. Dinner was lovely and I excused myself before I had a chance to pass out in my salad plate. I got back to the RV park and went to my spot, only to find out that while I was gone someone had swiped my water hose, water filter and pressure regulator. However, they were kind enough to leave my sewer hose.

This is where I had a minor breakdown. Basically I was completely tapped out, and now I didn’t feel safe in this $70/ night resort. Also Dan and Kevin both had insisted that I stay at Kevin’s house, so I felt like a jackass for having been so stubborn. My argument was that I had to stay in the camper, and get over my newly heightened fear of being alone at night or I may never be able to sleep in the damn thing again.

The nice lady at the front desk moved me to the month-long stay portion of the park, where she assured me “only real nice people stay”. I pulled off a miraculous backing job, managing not to hit either the fence or the Class A that flank me by about 2' on either side. I put a DVD in the computer and watched a comedy I had seen before. Additionally I downed most of a bottle of wine as a form of self-medicating. Something worked because I got six hours of somewhat fitful, but satisfactory sleep.

Dan flies in tonight. He is forbidden to take a “bump” thereby leaving me alone for another night. Staying alone last night really was good for me; my intuition/ perception have been tested and passed with flying colors. If dan gets stuck in Salt Lake, I feel certain that I can find another bottle of wine and get at least 7 hours of sleep.

Tomorrow we leave San Diego behind. Goodbye Santee, goodbye refrigerator repairmen, goodbye would-be car thieves and water system crooks; I won’t miss any of you. Jack, Kevin, Marcellus and family, thank you for looking after me, you all I will miss!

Onward to Mexico where it’s safe!

Installation of our new circuit board

Final conclusion on the fridge. We decided to tempt fate and just put in a new circuit board rather than a whole new fridge, since then everything is working fabulously. Two days and four mechanics couldn't bring us to the conclusion that about ten people fellow RVers could after I posted to our favorite RV Forum.

If you RV and you have not visited the RV Forum link on here then you really must. In ten minutes I had more information from those who've been there before, then I could get from mechanics and manufacturers. Once again the forum has saved us, and this time it saved us about a grand and another day or two in Santee. Thank you to those who responded to my plea for help.


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