Archive for August 2012

The Unpacking Begins

August 27, 2012

We’re unpacking about three or four boxes a day. We’ve been concentrating on kitchen stuff and clothing.

The pod was unloaded in good time on Saturday and picked up today. I picked up the tab for lunch for the unloading crew.

Sunday we took a break from our labors. Went to church and then brunch at the Pacific Diner.

Here’s a picture of boxes left to be unpacked. We ought to be done by Christmas. The big problem we are facing is where do we put the stuff? In a sense we’re doing the same thing we did in June in our house in Billerica. Some of the stuff that we are throwing out hasn’t been touched in years.

Today’s good news is we found the coffee pot. Bad news is we can’t find the filters for it. So we’ll use the small pot that only makes four cups per cycle until I get to the store to buy the filters.

So as we unpack, we invariably find something that should not have made the journey. Why on earth did we pack that thing-a-mabob? Of course the answer was it was packed by Tom and Al, who made no decisions others than to pack it.
So it goes into the recycle box.

All of the china and crystal has survived the journey unscathed. Not a broken goblet yet.

Much of our belongings will stay in box until we find a place for them. It may take awhile. I am convinced that my mother-in-law has become incapable of throwing anything out.

So we’re sitting on the balcony in one of the few pieces of furniture to make the trip. Meanwhile, Mary K has gone off to the HOA’s Board of Directors meeting. She does love to go to meetings.


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Location:San Pedro, CA

Settling In

August 24, 2012

Settling in has begun. The jeep is mostly unloaded and contents mostly unpacked. Things that were lost for the duration of the trip have been found (mostly).

The POD is scheduled to be delivered tomorrow. Mike has lined up volunteer labor to help us unload. We haven’t been able to get a straight answer from the HOA on parking the POD in the guest lot. So it goes. To quote Admiral Grace Hopper, “Easier to ask forgiveness than permission”,

We’ve spent the last couple of days dealing with little (but time consuming) issues. Had to get extra perimeter keys (aka keys to the condo common areas) and a remote to open the garage gate. This took a trip to the mgmt office in Torrance. Took about two hours. Went to UPS store to ship some stuff to Roberta.

I also had to go the local Home Depot to get copies of keys made. Trip to CVS to pick up Rx. CVS being a national chain makes it easy to get Rx from Billerica filled in San Pedro.

Started working on change of address issues. I was amazed on how fast Northeastern University changed my address. Warp speed indeed. I started working through the mail that had piled up with an empty trash can at the ready. I found a check from our old mortgage company for refund on escrow account. $1355, woohoo!

We did some grocery shopping. Takes a while to get acclimated to the layout of a new grocery store. One of the conveniences of Cal stores is that they sell liquor. Beer, wine, hard stuff. Picked up some Gin, vermouth and olives.

On one of the grocery trips, a young lad asked if I would sign a petition supporting medical marijuana clinics. I told him I was not registered to vote yet. He pulled out a form to register. So now California has one additional (Democrat) voter.

We are working on decluttering the condo. Mary K (mother in law) tends to save a great amount of paper. Every flat surface in the place had a pile of paper on it. This will be an ongoing project.

Things that will need to be done in the near future:

– order internet service
– upgrade DirecTV service with DVR
– Get a piano
– Get a new HD TV

Enough for today. I am posting a couple of pictures of the view. No inside pictures yet. Too messy.

One final note. Folks have asked if this blog will continue after the move completion. Absolutely. I find that it is a nice way to communicate to many of our New England friends,

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Location:San Pedro, CA


August 22, 2012

We were on the road for twenty days for more than half of those days we stayed in hotels. Some good, some bad, some very good, some very bad.

Typically we would stop around 4pm and figure out where we would plan on staying for the night. Sometimes we could find area guides in rest areas, other times we would use our maps and travel apps on my iPad. One useful app was “the Road Ahead”.

Usually we would use highway signage identifying brand name hotels at upcoming exits. Sometimes there bill boards advertising motels. In Evanston, there was several billboards for Best Western with restaurant and bar. It was one of the really good hotels that we stayed at.

There are many nationwide brand hotels and there are some that are more regional in scope. eg. Drury Inn’s is mostly south (seen in MS, MO, and KS).

The things that we cared about were free wifi, coffee pot in room, free breakfast, king size bed and restaurant/bar in walking distance. (After driving 400 miles, I was in no mood to go looking for a restaurant.)

Very Good

Drury Inn. Had nice clean comfortable rooms. Free hot breakfast and free snacks and drinks in the evening. Free WiFi. Coffee pot in room.

Best Western, Evanston WY. It had restaurant and bar. Free WiFi. Didn’t have free breakfast, but did have coupon for free pancakes. So breakfast cost about $10 for my eggs and bacon. They had real glassware and real coffee mugs to go with the coffee pot.

Very Very Bad

America’s Best Value Inn, Memphis, TN. We ended up paying $160 for two nights. When we went into this place we should have turned around and gone out to find someplace else. First clue was we had to deal with the front desk clerk through a security screen. Perhaps one could understand at two AM, but 6pm? I don’t think so.

No wifi, no coffee pot. The free breakfast was a small cup of coffee plus a krispy kreme donut (limit two to a customer). I could write a whole post on Krispy Kreme. Don’t like them, too sweet. Okay the TV worked and it was king size bed. Side furniture was uncomfortable. Cheap junk.

The hotel once was a TraveLodge. I knew this because the logo was painted over on the room doors. We were happy to be on our way. We skipped the complimentary breakfast and had a decent breakfast at a Denny’s at a truck stop in Arkansas.

The word “value” to me means “Good stuff cheap”. In this case, the opposite was true. Cheap stuff expensive.


Comfort Inn. Reasonable price. WiFi, coffee pot, decent breakfast. Not fancy but good.

Hampton Inn. West Jordan UT. Stayed for five nights in Utah. Real nice experience. Breakfast was free and decent. They responded to my complaint about the desk chair and replaced it with what I though was the manager’s desk chair. Convenient location, about half mile to Neil’s place. I would stay in a Hampton Inn again in a heartbeat.


Days Inn. No WiFi. Reasonable price. Room opened to outside corridor. Corridor and elevator were filthy. Room was adequate. Breakfast was adequate.

And finally, Las Vegas.

We ended up staying in an older hotel/casino in Jean, NV. Price was reasonable. Room was adequate. No WiFi, but they did have coffee pot.

I really abhor walking into a casino. You are looking for the hotel reg desk and all you can see is slot machines. The noise is so annoying.

Downtown Vegas doesn’t give discounts unless you stay at least three days. There aren’t any hotels without casinos. To get a hotel in CA would have been at least another 1.5 hour ride.

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Location:San Pedro, CA

Day 20 Journey’s End

August 22, 2012

After 4958 miles, we pulled into San Pedro, CA. We left Jean NV about 9AM, stopped at rest area just across the CA-NV border. Took a few pictures of the desert and the joshua trees. Weather starts out hot in the morning and gets hotter.

We talked with an older woman who worked in the dining room of the hotel. She had noticed my iPad. She said that she had a Kindle-Fire. She told us that when she was done with her shift she would go out in the desert and search for a geo-cache, but only if it didn’t get too hot. Too hot would be if it got over 105.

Here are a pictures from the rest area at Valley Wells, CA (aka. the middle of nowhere).

We stopped in Victorville for lunch at a Coco’s. For you easterners, Coco’s a restaurant franchise mostly in CA. Much like IHOP or Denny’s.

We finally hit the rush hour traffic of the I10 and I110. Nothing like the adrenaline rush of driving in LA traffic on freeways with 5 or 6 lanes across at 65 mph. One must keep your eyes on all three mirrors, GPS, and road ahead.

We spent the next couple of hours partially unloading the Jeep. Then finally dinner at Nico’s Pizzeria in San Pedro with Mike, Theresa and Jonathan.

Wednesday more unloading and dealing with keys and garage door openers. I’ll write another whole post on hotels.

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Location:San Pedro, CA

Day 19 addendum

August 21, 2012

A couple more things to write. The drive south takes us through the NW corner of Arizona for about 20-25 miles. This has to be one the most beautiful sections of interstate highway. I don’t have any pictures because no place to stop safely.

The section of roadway winds through multiple S curves through massive red canyons. There are signs “Watch for Rocks”. Of course, what they mean is watch for rocks on the roadway.

As we get into Nevada, we are descending from the high plateaus of Utah. At Salt Lake city we start at about 4000′ ASL. Eventually we get to about 6000′ ASL. But when we get to Nevada we get down to about 1500-2000′ ASL. One first notice by change in pressure on your ears. Then you notice that by gum it’s getting a bit hotter. Once we were in Nevada, the outside temp was about 103. We stopped for gas at a truck stop. Damn that’s hot. Don’t tell me it’s dry heat. hot is hot. Like stepping into an oven.

The section of highway in NV north of Vegas is one of the most desolate landscapes I’ve ever seen.

On Tuesday, we will be driving through parts of the Mojave Desert, then into Barstow then San Bernardino.

Interesting factoid about Barstow. FAA’s Los Angeles Center (The enroute center if you will) is located in Barstow. LA Center was one of the first Air Traffic control facilities built back in the 60’s. It was built in Barstow, because of fears of nuclear war. FAA figured that Barstow was far enough away from ground zero.

At any rate, today we are off to LA. BTW, this blog will continue once we get to LA.


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Location:Jean, NV

Day 18 Salt Lake City (again)

August 20, 2012

Running a little behind. On Sunday, we joined Neil and his family at the Shadow Mountain Church in West Jordan, UT. I will post a separate post on SMC.

After church, we headed up Emigration Canyon to have brunch at Ruth’s Diner. Ruth’s Diner is another restaurant featured on “Diners, Dives and Drive-ins”. Neil already knew about the place, so I didn’t need my iPhone app.

I had a western omelet. For east coast folks, see Denver omelet. Same thing. They have biscuits that are called “Mile high biscuits”. Outstanding. We had a table outside under a tree. Paula said it was brunchier to be outside.

Next we went to the Hogle SLC zoo, just down the road. The boys liked the zoo which surprised us.

Here are a few pictures

It was close to closing and I think some of the animals knew it. It seems that many of them had called it a day.

Then we headed back down the canyon and had dinner with everyone. As always, beast (Neil’s boxer) was happy to see us.

Off to Nevada on Monday.
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Location:Salt Lake City, UT

Day 19 SLC to Nevada

August 20, 2012

Getting close to the end of the trail. Did about another 400 miles today heading down I15 to Nevada. Once we got outside of Salt Lake the air got a lot cleared. We could actually see the mountains on the horizon.

Here is a picture taken at lunch time at a rest stop somewhere in southern Utah.

We made pretty good time. Speed limit increases to 80mph once we get on the open straight away. Cooking along pretty good until we run in to construction where the speed drops down to about 60-65 mph.

We stopped in the afternoon in St. George UT to get a cup of coffee and look at hotel possibilities. We found that bargains for hotels in Las Vegas depended on booking for a 3-4 day stay. No bargains for single night. Boo-hoo.

So we decided to try Primm, NV. Last port of call before the CA-NV border. There are three large hotel-casinos there. First one had long lines then fire alarm went off. Nobody in the casino moved. Incredible.

So we went to another casino in the area, all booked. huh? It’s monday night. Why are all these people going to a hotel-casino to get rid of there money?

Continuing on would take us at least 50 miles into CA before we would get to a hotel. So we had to back track about 20 miles to the Gold Strike Hotel Casino. $39 per night and AAA discount of 5%. It’ll do. Not particularly fancy. Had dinner at the buffet for $20 for the two of us. Paula tried her luck at one of the slots. She lost $5 faster than you can blink your eye. No free wifi either.

So tomorrow we have about 250 miles to San Pedro. It’ll be good to be home.

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Location:Somewhere in NV

Day 17 Salt Lake City

August 18, 2012

Another hot and sunny day in SLC. We met up with Neil, Dawn and the boys and headed off to a farmers’ market in downtown SLC. Lots of fresh produce and local artists and artisans were there. This is a really large farmers’ market.

Once we finished with the market, we had lunch at a local sports bar. Quiet afternoon to catch up on stuff.

Spaghetti and sausages for dinner. One more day in SLC tomorrow, then off to LA via Vegas.

Location:West Jordan, UT

Day 16 Salt Lake City, UT

August 18, 2012

Friday we drove up to Park City with Neil and his family. First stop was the Tanger Outlets to shop for back to school stuff for the boys. I couldn’t believe that we’d driven over 4000 miles to go to a Tanger outlet. Just like Tilton, NH only bigger.

We had lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Park City then we went up to the Olympic Park. This was one of the sites for the 2002 Winter Olympics. This was the site for all of the ski jumping events. It is still in use for olympic training and world class ski jumping events.

The boys did the zip line and adventure course.

We did the tour that took us up to the top of the big ski jump. luge, and bobsled. Here are some of the pictures from the top.

They also do training for ski jump and freestyle skiing even during the summer months. The tracks are like a giant slip’n’slide. They end up landing into the big pool. That way noone gets hurt.

Saturday, we’re going to local farmers’ market. Weather here is going to be hot and dry. Forecast high of 98F. Pretty dry.


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Location:West Jordan, UT

Day 15 Evanston to SLC

August 17, 2012

Started out yesterday with stop at Evanston liquor store to buy some Sam Adams beer for Neil. You can take the boy out of Billerica, but … Then we bought some gas and hit the road.

About 100 miles to West Jordan and mostly downhill. We stopped at a rest area just across the Utah border. There were some really spectacular views. Nice lady at the info center gave us some suggestions of things to do in SLC. Here are a couple of pictures.

Then we headed down the road. Elevation at the rest area was about 6500′. Elevation at SLC is about 4000′

Pulled up in front of Neil’s house on time. Neil and I then took off to find an ATM and then a Jiffy Lube to get oil changed on the Jeep. Jeep was overdue for change after over 4000 miles on the road.

Then we picked up some burgers and fries for lunch from a place called “Five Guys Burgers”. Decent burgers.

Off to check into hotel which is less than a mile from Neil’s place. Then it was time to head off for football practice for Quinn. We set up shop under a tree to watch.

Finally late dinner with Neil and family. Then to bed. Friday we will be heading up to Park City.
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Location:Campus Cir,West Jordan,United States