Sunday, September 30, 2007


For years, when traveling to San Diego, I've passed by Dateland but never stopped. Dateland lies halfway between Phoenix and Yuma and claims to be the home of world famous date shakes. Since not much else lies between Phoenix and Yuma, if you see something, it's probably Dateland. You really can't miss it if you watch for the giant billboard proclaiming "World Famous Date Shakes and Shaded Pet Facilities". Shaded pet facilities means that, after you park, your dog can get out and crawl under your car. On our way back from San Diego, Marilyn and I decided to stop and sample a world famous date shake. We pulled in and parked at the Dateland gift shop/restaurant complex.
Inside the restaurant we found a turquoise decor that was a throwback to the 60's yet clean and fresh. We both decided to have a chef salad (also a 60's delicacy). The salads were good and the price was right. This place was a gem in the middle of nowhere. From now on we're going to stop by every time we pass.

When we were done eating, I ordered a date shake for the road. I have to say it was the best date shake I ever had. They also have other flavors of shakes, but none are world famous.

Beach Vacation

After months of being in the hospital or house bound, Marilyn wanted to go somewhere. She wanted a beach vacation and wanted to stay on the beach where you could hear the waves breaking all day and all night. We found the perfect motel in Mission Beach and booked a room overlooking the ocean. Off to San Diego we went. The motel was great offering a bountiful continental breakfast, underground parking, complimentary happy hour by the pool, and best of all, free coffee all day long. We hadn't planned to do much but relax. The only thing I wanted to do was go sailing. Sailing can be relaxing if you know what you're doing. If you're a novice like me, it's more of an adventure. We rented a sailboat at the Bahia dock on Mission Bay. After filling out all the paperwork and swearing on my American Express card that I would take good care of the boat, we got in and they pushed us off. We managed to move away from the dock but about 300 yards away, the boat stopped moving. we were about 70 feet from shore, but looking into the water I could see bottom about three feet down. Five minutes out and we were beached. I took off my shoes and socks and climbed out of the boat into the waist deep water. I pushed boat toward deeper water and climbed back in. Ironically, this was the same spot that Steve had beached a sailboat 20 years ago when we stayed at the Bahia on a family vacation. Since he was a kid, we made him jump out and push the boat off then.

Back in deep water, the only thing to worry about was running into other boats. I told Marilyn to mind the jib. Now, if anything else happened, she would share in the responsibility. Who knows how many boating accidents occur each year from unminded jibs. After sailing around the bay for over an hour we headed for the dock. We were coming in nice and slow but I thought it was still too fast. About 200 feet from the dock I decided to do a 360 degree turn to kill some speed. Normally, when turning, boat occupants move to the windward side of the boat to offset the tipping effect of the sail. We were both sitting on the leeward side. We were moving so slow that I didn't think it would matter. I was wrong. As the main sail touched the water, we both lurched forward to right the boat. Our bags and camera nearly rolling into the water. As the boat righted itself, Marilyn yelled "What are you doing!" I calmly replied, "that's what happens when you don't mind the jib". With the boat now upright, we continued to the dock. The attendant pointed to the spot and I hit it, literally, with a thud. Someday I'll figure out how to slow down a sailboat.

Wet and with wrenched backs from the near capsize we called it a day for sailing. The way I see it, any sailing experience you can walk away from is a good one. Anyway, it was time to get back to the motel and enjoy some free coffee.
As if Marilyn hadn't had enough of boats, she wanted to visit the maritime museum in downtown San Diego. She was particularly interested in the Russian submarine. Once inside, she noted how tight the space was and that movies and photographs always make submarines look bigger inside. I already knew this from experience. Also, active submarines don't have "CAUTION-watch your head" signs. That's something submarine sailors also learn from experience.
Although this submarine is newer than the one I was on, it is a much cruder build than American submarines. Much of the cabling and electronic equipment has been stripped out and the classic submarine smell of diesel fuel and hydraulic oil has all but vanished. Still, it bought back memories of life on a submarine and reaffirmed my decision not to live on one.
From tight spaces to open space we moved on to tour the aircraft Carrier Midway. It was loaded with planes and helicopters on display.
Seal Beach in La Jolla was only a few miles north of the motel. We drove up to have a look. There were a few seals there. We watched them for quite a while. It's amazing how a legless, blubbery animal laying on a rock can hold your attention. I guess it's the anticipation that it might move at any moment and you wouldn't want to miss that. Whatever it is, we went back three times to watch them. If I only had a beach ball to throw them.
This was supposed to be a relaxing vacation and we did take a little time to do that too.

When the Storm Passes

The darkness came on Valentine's day this year when Marilyn was admitted to the hospital. Since then it's been a tough time for both of us; more for her than me. Over a five month period, she spent 54 days in the hospital unable to leave the room. Good news came last month and we're getting back to a normal life. This storm has passed.

Breakin' Rocks in the Hot Sun

As I uncoverd the latest section of failed drip line on a hot Arizona August afternoon (is there any other kind?), the words of the the Bobby Fuller song "I Fought the law and the law won" kept going through my head. "breakin' rocks in the hot sun......." as I removed several hundred pounds of river rock to begin line replacement. In my previous post, "One More and Die", I took a benevolent stance and wished no harm on the inventor of drip tubing. That's just the way I am. Now, I'd feel a lot better if he dropped one of these river rocks on his foot and had to limp around for a week. That's just the way I am now. .....breakin' rocks in the hot sun, I fought the law and law won......
Sing along if you'd like to.