Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Shakedown Cruise

I was wondering if there was a masculine equivalent to the term "maiden voyage", and this week heard the phrase "shakedown cruise" used in the same context.  I looked it up, and sure enough it's what they call it in the Navy when they're testing out a new ship for the first time.  Checking to see what works, what doesn't, etc.  So that's what we did this week with Little Billy.  We took him on his shakedown cruise.

We didn't have Billy built for off road only to take him to regular campgrounds.  But for the first time, I wanted to keep it simple and relatively close by.  There was also the complicating factor that we didn't really know exactly when we would get Billy, so we couldn't make reservations in advance.  AND, because we did know that it would be mid-summer, we had to find somewhere that was relatively close AND not sweltering desert hot.

I decided the Cleveland National Forest looked promising.  And as I was searching, I found an area, Mt. Laguna, that seemed nice.  I found a guy on Flickr who has been there a lot, and taken lots of pictures, and he recommended a campground.  The really great thing was that since Jerry is retired, we had the luxury of camping mid-week, and even without reservations, there were loads of empty campsites.

Ready to go
 Here we are just getting underway.

  Billy in campOur campsite: Mt. Laguna Campground/Meadow Loop/space#15

  Meadow viewAnd they don't call it the Meadow Loop for nothing! This was the view right beyond our trailer.

  Billy in camp
See that little blue car in the background behind Billy? There was a couple camped in a tent over there, and there was another couple in another trailer way on the other end of the campground. And that was pretty much it. But both of those couples came up to us right after we got there, to have a look at Billy and just generally drool over him and say how cool he is.  Made me feel kinda proud of Billy, and validates that Jerry and I made a good choice in getting him.  But I can see where all that admiration could get pretty old after a while.  

  Galley view
Our galley, open for business.  I had no trouble reaching everything I needed.  When I was waiting for Billy, looking at so many teardrop pics online, it seems like they were either advertising shots with a mostly empty galley, or mid-excursion nitty-gritty with every inch of shelf and counter space taken up by so much stuff. I am determined to keep a neat, well organized kitchen, and have the counter space open for food prep.  So far, so good.

  Dinner the first night Dinner the first night. We wanted to try different cooking methods, but I mostly only used the stove to boil water on this trip. I wanted to use our Volcano grill. We used it for this, in a grill pan: Sausage, veggies, and potatoes. I make a version of this at home fairly often, because it's so yummy.

  Camping Breakfast Another thing I wanted to use were our new pie irons. A simple almond butter, banana and jelly sandwich becomes something much more special when you toast it in a pie iron.

  Camping Breakfast Hopefully, eventually, I will have a section in this blog for cooking and recipes.

Our bed was comfy enough.  It's a 4" mattress, and it was firm.  I like firm.  I was able to use my little chamber pot without a problem.  I will elaborate on the chamber pot in a future post.  Maybe.

Jerry hooked up his solar panel and fiddled with it a fair amount, moving it several times to make sure it got as much direct sun exposure as possible.  It worked, and so did our little ARB fridge.

A real Navy shakedown cruise has no set timetable.  The ship and its crew stay out until everything is tested and all problems and concerns are resolved.   I wanted to take Billy out on the first available weekday after we brought him home.   But in order to do that this past week, we had to be back after 2 days, because our son, who was watching the house and the dog, had another commitment.   So it was a brief shakedown, but it was still successful!

Happy Birthday, Dad

Before I post anything else, I just need to acknowledge my dad, because today was his birthday.  He would have been 84. 


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Bringing Billy Home

Celebratory See's Suckers Yesterday, our "trailer pregnancy" finally culminated in the triumphant delivery of Little Billy.   And, befitting a birth celebration, I bought a bag of See's Suckers* to hand out to all the wonderful people of So-Cal Teardrops.

Jerry gets some parting instructions
Gabe Pari went over all the details, hints and tips.  I sure hope Jerry was taking good mental notes!

preparing for docking maneuver
Getting ready to attach Billy to the truck.

The crew at SoCal Teardrops
Thank you, So-Cal Teardrops!

It was hot in Upland today!
Did I mention, it was really hot yesterday?

A brief stop for lunch
We stopped briefly for lunch at El Pollo Loco, where we found a spot on the outskirts of their parking lot that we could just pull in and out easily.  And we had another "baby moment", that I didn't even realize till later.   Because when Brice was born (in 1990) we also went to El Pollo Loco on the way home from the hospital.  In fact El Pollo Loco has become the customary meal every year on his birthday.

Our street can be busy at times, and our driveway has a little slope to it.  So before we got home, Jerry made a detour to an empty church parking lot nearby, to perfect his trailer-backing skills.   Then, the moment of truth was upon him.  I told him that this would be yet another "baby moment".  Like the first diaper change.  You know, it's something you know you gotta do, but you sorta dread it, and you just want to get it over with, and you hope there's no surprises.

Billy is home
 Backing in.

parked in the garage!
Home at last!

Of course, like the analogous diaper-change, there will be many more trailer-backups to come, and we will gain confidence and proficiency to the point where they will become something that we just do, which will lead to an ability to improvise if we find ourselves in a more unusual or difficult parking situation.

Next up, some pictures of Little Billy's amenities.  Stay tuned...

*Oh hey, did you know that See's Candies doesn't sell "See's Suckers"?   They do sell those delicious, square-shaped lollipops that we have enjoyed for, basically, our whole lives.  Those things that we have forever known as "See's Suckers" are, and apparently always have been, called lollipops, and only lollipops.  Mary See, the founder of See's Candies, and whose sweet, grandmotherly face still adorns every box of their chocolates, would "turn in her grave" if she heard anyone call them "suckers", according to the primly (and retro-style) uniformed woman who rang up our sale.  I did not know that.  Now I know.  But I'll probably still call them "See's Suckers".

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

So close to done...

The proverbial "Fat Lady", is clearing her throat.