At your convenience – and other folk

           On Sunday Cal Guy Jnr was distinctly unwell: he was running a high fever and just wanted to cling to one parent or other.

            Cal Son came up with an idea: Why not drive towards Palomar Airport at Carlsbad -and watch the aircraft movements on the runway from the outdoor Starbucks lounge at Loker Avenue West? What a good idea!  Cal Guy Snr and the Captain got aircraft talk, Boatwif got a new view and a sky fast brightening from early sea fog – and Cal Gal got a Starbucks peppermint vanilla bean frozen drink. How convenient was that for aircraft spotting!

            Later a trip to Boomers was announced.  Along the 78 Freeway westbound the Captain bowled, with instructions from the rear seats to watch out for the Volcano…  What a convenient, if a trifle tacky, landmark. There it was, right beside the Freeway, hole 9 of the Miniature (UK: Crazy) Golf Course. Fun was had: Cal Guy Snr and Cal Gal won 9 games each while Boatwif won one – having flicked the ball into deep and inaccessible water early on during the match. Wistfully Boatwif watched later as the younger generation took to water, squirting spray and bashing each other with the bumper boats. But is the water in the pool really 30ft deep – watch your decimal places! (See photo 3)

            Other conveniences: Just look at that view (photo 4) – Boatwif had no-one of the same gender to share with her the breathtaking view from the Women’s Restroom last week: on Point Loma a set of conveniences looks directly over the Pacific Ocean. Is this the best view ever from a cubicle window…?  A star mention, too, must go to the Restrooms at the Carlsbad Outlet Mall. Has any other Restroom /Convenience designer been so thoughtful as to provide a railed-off shelf behind the toilet for handbags and purses? What a sensible idea!  Nearby a security officer was on patrol, mounted on a Segway – very convenient on smooth surfaces…


            The USA may be predominantly English-speaking but there are times when it is reinforced that you really are travelling in foreign parts.  There was the Senior on the cash till at the bookstore last week: “Oh, I once lived in Sheringham, in Norfolk. My Dad was in the US Air Force…”

            At Spanish Village (the area in Balboa Park for artists and artisans) an effusive gallery attendant oozed: “Why, can I help you?” (Squeal of pleasure)  “Is that an accent I hear… Australi…?”  There was a rapid reassurance that this was a British accent…

            On Tuesday, unaccompanied by the younger generation, there was a last visit to the Escondido Barnes and Noble bookstore. Conveniently, there is a Starbucks concession within the store. The Captain located a road map, then baled out to seek some coffee. As Boatwif, browsing finished, moved across the store to relocate him, strident words could be heard:  “There are two S bends in the tunnel…” The Captain was regaling the tale of Cleddau‘s conquest last summer of the Standedge Tunnel. But who was he speaking to? Strange, non-American accents were on the receiving end. And there in Starbucks were two Rotherham folk, ex-Sheffield steel workers, long term retired and great fans of the USA. They’d been through the 32 foot mobile home phase for about 15 years and now have an alternative life style, living in a San Diego motel for five months over the winter. A local travel card allows them easy bus and train travel – and for $35 dollars they had improved their motel kitchen facilities by adding two non-stick pans and a toaster!

            But now the Cleddau crew has relocated to the Anzo-Borrego Desert, in eastern San Diego County. They are the only guests at a desert inn, except for one – and he is quite exceptional. He arrived by bicycle this afternoon, cycling coast to coast, Florida to San Diego.  We conversed, he a German resident of Munich who speaks impeccable English. His trip will take two and a half months, he rides about fifty miles a day and cycles about six days a week… but wait! This is his ninth solo cycle transit across the States… Here, a rest stop in Borrego Springs will help him prepare for the four thousand feet climb through the mountains before it’s downhill to the coast…

            The last interesting person of the day was the waitress at the local diner last night. She was a fast-talking one-time Los Angeles girl, who had relocated a couple of years ago from a 300 person town up in Nevada to Borrego Springs. She has absolutely no wish for her two teenage girls to have any experience of urban life.  One daughter is a trainee welder, the other wants to be a baker. The population here in summer (low season) is about three thousand and in winter (October to March) it swells to maybe nine thousand.  She has, of course, two jobs, one as an evening table server and the other in the shopping mall.

            Bedded down now in an adobe lookalike building, rather like those pictures of South Western housing in the geography textbooks; desert exploration begins on Wednesday…

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