Out and about in San Diego County

            Preferred option for travel for Boatwif and the Captain is by boat (and that is the sole reference to boating in this post). Getting around here is done mainly by car or by train.
            Travellers from the UK intending to drive face certain challenges. Rental (hire) cars are inevitably automatics rather than having manual gearboxes. Driving is done from the left hand side of the car but on the right hand side of the road. Local roads are frequently two or more lanes wide and freeways can get up to five or more lanes in width. It helps to have a sense of direction (sun sets in the west, keep the Ocean on the right heading south, on the left heading north). But not every journey clings to the coast… hence the value of a satnav (US GPS)…
            The Captain is fond of satnavs: he has been a loyal TomTom supporter for several years but has found the cost of downloading updated maps exorbitant.  Hence, in Autumn 2012, a new satnav was bought, shipped directly from China, with maps of North America already installed. Scottish Sis borrowed it in the summer and it performed beautifully in Switzerland for her. Why then so much frustration over it during this trip…  Could a suitable place be found to mount it on the dashboard of the rented Jeep? Would the instrument remain attached to its mounting and not slide off?  How long would it be before the satnav overheated and its screen blanked out? Frustration after frustration… When the mounting had been made secure on a weighted saucer-like structure still the thing over-heated.

Only as its position has been moved further from the radiant heat on the windscreen, the outside air temperature has plummeted and the power socket is shared with another device has that problem been overcome.  However, an overall solution lurked nearby: Techno Son-in-law, determined to drag the Cleddaucrew into the digital era, had upgraded his iPhone and donated his previous one to the boaters. Despite intensive pre-flight training the Captain reached a state of high frustration.
             “Give me the phone, man!” called Cal Mom one morning. “Let me see to it.” And quick as a flash she downloaded a free, simple to operate, satnav app. Wow, a Techno Mom was on hand…
               Picture the scene: twice the number of gadgets and wires now guide the driver about.  Off the car set on an excursion to a local shopping mall. Would both voices agree the route? Medium light “Chinese” voice chipped in first. “In three hundred feet turn left,” stipulated the instruction, in her very crisp delivery. The junction appeared.
              “Tuuurn left,” drawled the earthy tones of the iPhone voice.  And for a while the gadgets agreed. Chinese voice always spoke first, and at length, while the iPhone voice gave instructions later, in a succinct but slightly sexy tone. Then there was a falling out:
               “In two hundred feet turn left,” ordered the Chinese voice.
               “Turn right,” coaxed Miss Californian voice.  EEEK! That was why the Cleddau Jeep ended up driving into the rear entrance of the San Marcos Recycling Center.
               Within sight was the destination, a store named Bed, Bath and Beyond. “It’s OK,” soothed the driver as he wove his way onwards past industrial units and silos and disposal tanks… and, to be fair, in due course the destination was indeed reached.
               Over these last five or so days it’s as if there’s been quite a crowd in the car, one a rather officious being (“You are OVER the speed limit,” is her favourite complaint) while the other presence is a fun lover, confident in her ability to issue the right instruction at the right moment, always in a very encouraging way…
                So where have these Ladies guided us to? Furthest afield to date was an old favourite, Torrey Pines State Reserve,

a state park down on the coast. Mid-height cloud hung over the area, but there have been some winter rains and the terrain had lost its usual bleached appearance. The sandstone bluffs are carved dramatically by the winds. 300 feet below down on the beach thick bands of sedimentary rock are very apparent. The sand ‘s colour is grey-black,

the shade of the lowest rock layer…

               The Ladies (aided by Cal Guy Snr) got us to the Regal Cinema in Escondido (there was an audience of a dozen for a late afternoon showing of Frozen). There was a drive out to Oceanside, just to walk out along the pier, to see the pelicans

and to watch the surfers,

as well as various shopping missions.
               It was one particular shopping mission that got Boatwif labelled as a Seriously Dumb Woman. Bed, Bath and Beyond is a truly enormous home store, specialising in textiles, cookware and bathroom accessories. Boatwif was in search of a practical souvenir: at home a couple of months ago the Captain had applied ugly bodge tape to the split plastic of the clothes peg bag. Ha, get a replacement when out in America, she had thought. A first circuit of the store proved futile. Help was sought from an assistant.
               “A what?” (Puzzlement.) “ A peg bag? What’s it used for?” was the response, and he summonsed his supervisor.
              The purpose of the item sought was explained again. A faraway, dreamy look crossed the supervisor’s features.  At last he realised what was wanted. “Ah for clothes pins…! Now I do remember my old mom used to have something like that – but no, I don’t know where you’d get that.” Pause for thought. “I don’t even know where you’d get clothes pins…”
              In the land of sunshine no-one, just no-one it seems, hangs clothes outside to dry.
             “When did you ever see clothes hanging outside in California? People don’t do that here,” Cal Mom tactfully explained.
             Not beaten yet a few days later Boatwif scoured Target, a chain store similar to an old UK Woolworthstore. And there, in the bath section was just one of these

– a bath tidy, ripe for adaptation back at home.
             Out and about there are ducks to be fed,

signs to be comprehended

(at a TK MAX store) and roadside and neighbourhood flowers to be marvelled at.

At 11am on Saturday there was a bit of a novelty: “Come on outside,” shouted Cal Guy Snr, “ and feel the English rain...!”  It was wet standing in line an hour later at Oceanside waiting for the Santa train – but it was a great trip to Sorrento Valley and back on a train festooned with garlands  and Christmas lights. Also travelling on the train were the Grinch, Santa

and Mrs Claus…
              Santa had a busy day. Early evening he arrived in San Marcos on the Quint (a San Marcos fire truck). Lights, horns and sirens announced the truck’s arrival. Truck stabilisers secured, the huge fire ladder was turned and raised, and Santa climbed right to the very top to turn on the lights of the Christmas tree.

One little boy was mightily impressed…

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