Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Gila Bend; California, Here We Are! San Diego; Port Hueneme

We only stayed one night in Gila Bend. When the sun was setting over the desert and temps had dropped into the high 80s, we got out for an after-dinner walk near the airfield. The control tower was flanked by a huge saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) higher than the tower itself.  

This sign is familiar to us military folks. “FOD” stands for Foreign Object Damage, and every airfield and ship that carries aircraft will have such signs and “FOD walkdowns” several times a day on the airstrip/flight deck to find and remove litter, rocks, snakes, or other materials that could be sucked up into a jet engine intake or blown around by propellers. 

The drive on Interstate 8 from Gila Bend (pop. 2,701), to San Diego, CA (pop. 1,301,617), was an interesting one. The day started warm, but after we passed Yuma, Date City, El Centro and  and Plaster City, we climbed up from the Sonoran Desert over the Laguna Mountains to Laguna Summit (4,055 ft), with a big elevation gain from 227 feet below sea level in the Imperial Valley. Our motor coach strained up the steep 6-7% grade, slowing to 35-40 mph, but still passing many of the heavy semis headed west. The weather cooled and trees started to appear above 3,000 feet. The Pacific Crest Trail passes through this area, but regrettably I didn’t have time to hike these mountains.

As  you get into civilization in the Golden State, we saw this unofficial “Welcome to California” sign… YIKES!!!

Arriving in San Diego, we were happy to be able to meet up with friends from Naval War College – Andy Sargent, a Marine Corps F-4 Phantom pilot, and his lovely bride, Marcia, who had written a great book called Wing Wife, about her experiences as a fighter pilot’s wife. I was happy to get Marcia to autograph her book; it is a fascinating story – I learned a lot about Andy that I hadn’t known back in Newport, Rhode Island when we were classmates in 1980-81.

We also got out hiking with Nita Gill, seen here with Suzanne at a park near Solana Beach. Nita was also gracious enough to have us over for a gourmet Moroccan dinner at her beautiful home with her husband Frank. Nita was in Suzanne’s Serving Spirit class in San Diego and took over my book table responsibilities, freeing me up for more hiking. Thank you, Nita!!!

It was a short two hour drive from San Diego to Tustin, just south of Los Angeles. Marj Britt, the former Senior Minister at Unity of Tustin, had invited us to visit. Suzanne took advantage of the opportunity to broadcast her live Unity Radio show, Messages of Hope, from the sanctuary at Unity of Tustin, with Marj as her guest. This photo was taken in the beautiful Spiritual Garden that Marj had designed; if you’re in the area, it’s a unique experience that you shouldn’t miss.

The afternoon traffic in Los Angeles was TERRIBLE, but we finally arrived at our next campground, on the Naval Construction Battalion Base at Port Hueneme, near Oxnard and Ventura, for a six-day stay over Memorial Day weekend. A dinner with Britta and Peter Grubin and their kids Annabella, Juliett and Maxwell was a highlight of the week.  

Britta also taught Suzanne how to ride a “scooter” – Suzanne had so much fun that she’s now looking into getting one of her own! (I gave some thought to getting one myself, but after a nanosecond, I decided that I’m too much of a klutz…)

I am a bit more coordinated on the water… we went kayaking in Channel Islands Harbor, where this very user-friendly (read “sissy”) kayak launch float allows you to get into your boat without getting your feet wet. You can see that My Lovely Bride is all charged up and rarin’ to get paddling…

Some of the floats and piers had a few very large locals lazing about, barking, snoring and occasionally fighting for spots in the sun. There seems to be no convincing these rascals to go to work and catch some fish. California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are intelligent, feed on squid and fish, but are themselves preyed upon by orcas and white sharks. Males run to 770 lbs., while females average a svelte 220 lbs. Large males have been known to feed up to 250 miles from shore. It can be surprising to find them surfacing near your kayak – our first sighting of the head of a smaller harbor seal made us think that a dog might have fallen overboard from a boat. These guys have obviously had plenty to eat at sea and are now taking some R&R ashore…

Speaking of food… before leaving Southern California, My Lovely Bride made a few subtle hints about taking her out for dinner… like when I would ask, “Hey, Babe, what’s for chow?” she would answer, “I’m not sure, Ty, I forgot to take anything out of the freezer; maybe we could go out?” “But Sweetheart, didn’t we go out to get BBQ sandwiches for lunch back in Texas a few months ago?” Smack!!! “Okay, okay, I’ll find someplace to have dinner…” Carl’s Jr. and Taco Bell were all booked up, but this nice lady at a vineyard restaurant said they had decent food on the cheap… Note to self: never trust a nice lady who works in a restaurant… she must have been the cleaning lady. We wound up at Tierra Sur, a kosher restaurant at Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard. The food was exceptional, MLB having a delicious halibut and Your Faithful Correspondent having the best veal ever. I knew we weren’t in The Villages anymore when I asked for the Seniors’ Blue Plate Special and the waiter suggested the mobile taco stand a few miles down the road… sigh…


  • Jeanmarie Randall
    Posted June 4, 2019 at 2:59 am

    Very interesting as usual! Great photos, thanks for taking us on your journey!

  • Nita
    Posted June 23, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    What a wonderful adventure that you are having. Thanks for sharing it with us so we can live vicariously through you for a moment. Frank and I sure enjoyed having you here in San Diego.


Leave a Comment