Ground Control to Major Bill…

After docking our traveling space vehicle, the Airstream Safari, at this remote base station below Ghost Mountain in the California desert under the rising full moon earlier this month, we set up camp and enjoyed eating spicy food under the stars. While listening to yipping coyotes and the crackling campfire and watching the flickering lights dance on the trailer, my mind wandered to more reports of strange lights over the skies of San Diego and to thoughts about the ghostly legends of this Ghost Mountain area.

These thoughts evaporated into the thin and dry desert air the following day as I protected my skin from the burning rays of the sun while I shaved with the help of the trailer’s Vista View window, which was now multi-tasking as a mirror.


But theses peculiar thoughts returned again after dinner at sunset…


along with the ghostly moonlight and clouds that began looking like dragons…


Then I saw it… an object flying over the trailer that I could not identify…


streaking across the sky and I remembered flashing lights reported by NASA. Could this be the Ghost Lights of Anza-Borrego? It seemed to land on the other side of Ghost Mountain and I was determined to locate it, so I closed the pod bay doors and prepared to launch our custom-ordered Airstream using its built-in De Laval nozzles.


I enjoyed the view as our Airstream rose up from the desert floor…


But I began to sense that something was not quite right when the vertical thrusters could not be shut down and the craft drifted higher into dark space…

and the stars began to look a different way…


Before losing my internet connection, I quickly checked Airforums, but was shocked to see no one had started a thread on this problem. As I started to lose contact with Ground Control, I wondered if I would ever be able to return to the desert…


or if it was all due to the spicy food… I did feel like I was floating in a most peculiar way in our aluminum can… but I think it knows which way to go…

Ground ControlCan you hear me now?

San Diego staycation

We did not need to get hitched to enjoy San Diego… we live here. So especially now that the temperatures are rising in our nearby mountains and deserts, and the price of just about everything (especially diesel fuel) is already too high and/or rising, it’s a good time to enjoy our moderate coastal temperatures along with the many amenities that multi-cultural and colorful San Diego has to offer.


Activities such as visiting local zoos, parks, museums, and attending festivals and backyard barbecues are becoming increasingly popular in the face of hard economic times. These activities are summed up in the relatively new term, staycation. A good local example, the San Diego Zoo is one of largest and most popular (and recommended) zoos in the world. Waiting to great you just inside the front gate are our American Flamingo friends.


Pink plastic flamingos (not to be confused with Pink Flamingos, the movie) are retro pop icons being increasingly adopted by Airstreamers and much discussed and analyzed on the Airstream Knowledge Sharing Forums, especially in the threads, “All Things Flamingo” and “Why the flamingo?“.

One of the best places in San Diego to take in the wonderful, panoramic view of the San Diego city skyline, harbor, ocean, mountains, Coronado Islands, and Mexico to the south is Cabrillo National Monument, location of the historic Old Pt. Loma Lighthouse, where docents meet and greet visitors from all over the world.



Living in San Diego is like being on vacation year round and there are always fairs and festivals occurring now or just around the corner. For example, Tiki lovers from around the world will descend upon an oasis (the Crowne Plaza), August 14 – 17, and take a “Voodoo Vacation on Zombie Island“, complete with an uke jam Sunday afternoon. Last week Larry and I attended the Na Mea Hana Lima Hawaiian Cultural Fair, where we picked up Michael Preston’s book and CD, “Let’s Kanikapila! Ten Steps To Learn ‘Ukulele The Hawaiian Way“, by Mutual Publishing, and enjoyed the entertainment.



A staycation is also an opportunity to have backyard barbecues and visit local Airstreamers, such as jd (also known as 5cats on He is seen here barbecuing shrimp marinated in a pesto sauce (very delicious). His shiny, 2007 20’Safari SE is nearby under a tarp canopy that slides on a rail system that he made himself.


Staycation could also mean simply enjoying one’s own backyard tiki oasis, and playing the ukulele as the hibachi coals heat up… and contemplating the wonderful world… and dreaming about rainbows.


California Mountain Camping

On Earth Day we arrived for four nights of non-hook-up camping at our favorite mountain campground, William Heise County Park, near Julian, California. During this second year of camping with our Airstream, we are learning to appreciate the rhythm of the seasons and the variety of topographies and micro-climates that are within a two-to-three hour drive from our home in San Diego. This is becoming increasingly important to us as the price of fuel sky-rockets, leading some to wonder, “Is this the beginning of the end?”


So at this time of year, as our nearby deserts heat up, we find comfort and interest in the Cuyamaca Mountians. The air was still cool, the flowers still blooming, and the turkeys were frolicking when we returned to William Heise County Park.



This park is located near Julian, a former California gold-mining-boom-town, and now a quaint apple-growing center, visited by many people, especially during the fall Apple Days and Bluegrass Festival. Occasionally, it is also visited by the Plague Doctor.

This area is also plagued by wildfires, especially during the Santa Ana wind conditions prevalent in late summer and early fall. The October 2003 wildfires burned 70% of William Heise Park. Seven miles of pleasant, wooded loop trails provide opportunities to follow the stages of re-forestation that occur naturally after fires.


During this second year of camping, we are also learning to keep an eye on naturally loosening screws in our Airstream. On this outing, Larry heard something drop as he was closing a window. The tiny hex screw that holds the gray plastic knob on the window-opening-arm-bracket had fallen out and was luckily found.


Last year Larry assembled two bags of essential tools, which included two sets of hex keys (also known as Allen wrenches) of various sizes. Larry used the 1/16th inch hex key to screw it back in and tighten all of the other window knob screws which had begun to loosen.


This underscores the importance of making and maintaining an essential tool bag.


All Aboard…

This is the History Safari Express. All aboard!!!

As our Airstream Safari makes the rounds in Southern California, we will stop along the way and savor historical aspects and highlights.

At times we will utilize our Renaissance fair and docent skills in bringing history alive to illustrate a historic point. A recent example was that while camping at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park with the Luhrs’, I portrayed the Plague Doctor as Larry talked about the plague and how it still is a current concern. See Rich Luhr’s Dec. 19, 2007 Tour of America post, “Characters“.


We will also share the ongoing history of our custom-ordered Safari built in 2006, the 75th Anniversary of Airstream. Two solar panels were installed during the build. We will touch on its performance history in a variety of settings and conditions. We will share our ongoing improvements, new ideas, items, and seasonal decorations that enhance its ambience.


Larry enjoys cooking and might be enticed into discussing some of his techniques along with some historical notes on a variety of foods including Chinese cuisine. For our December outing at Anza-Borrego, Larry prepared jook (Chinese rice congee), which we shared with the Luhrs’ while discussing its value as food therapy.


We returned to Palm Canyon Campground at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for an extended New Year’s weekend celebration with our friends Bob and Theresa. I joined them for a mid-day side-trip in their 4WD over a wash to Fonts Point with a spectacular view of the colorful Borrego Badlands. Fonts Point was named after Father Pedro Font, the diarist on the second Anza Expedition to California in 1775, bringing colonists to establish the pueblo of San Francisco.


Thank you for hopping on the History Safari Express. On our next stop, we will be taking a hike up Palm Canyon, the most popular canyon in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which is now celebrating its 75th Anniversary.