(And I got to meet Hoggie, too!!!)
I caught the Coaster commuter train in San Diego and rode an hour north up to the city of Oceanside, CA, where our guru Dale (jonescarp aka Dale) lives. I wandered out to the curb of the parking lot. I was worried I might not be able to pick him out. Silly me. He drove up in his white Toyota pickup truck and was wearing that visor with the wild fur on top and that yellow t-shirt with the duct-taped smiley face, BOTH of which we've all seen on his profile page. How could I have EVER thought I wouldn't know him immediately upon sight?? ;-)
Big hugs and huge smiles! I jumped in the truck and told him I was STARVING. He was also starving, so we immediately headed to the Mexican restaurant he had already told me about when we made our plans. The place he picked was great. And our food and service was great. I'm sure it had NOTHING to do with the fact that the restaurant was owned and operated by some of his relatives-by-marriage and that they were SO happy to see him (the owner/cook came out to see him and chat with us). And, Dale, you were so right; those chili rellenos WERE as big as your hand! Yum. While we waited for our food, we agreed that we had to take pictures of the plates when they arrived. But we forgot. We remembered AFTER we ate everything. So one of my pics included here is of Dale's empty plate...
From the restaurant we drove over to Dales's house. I had been being very pushy about meeting Hoggie. I WANTED A PHOTO OP WITH THE LOVE HOG! Dale was sort of shy (so cute!) about showing me his place. It's "kind of messy" he said. I told him, "Look, Dale. I am the mother of FIVE children. There is not a mess in the world that can scare me. I NEED to meet Hoggie!" So Dale caved. And I was so glad he did!
His place is small and it is a design-miracle! I have never seen such an efficient living space in my life!. His place is (what seems to me, anyway) high in the hills with a lot of open valley space behind the house. Dale is a general contractor and CARPenter. (Holy cow, I had always thought his name had something to do with FISH! Ooops.) He showed me how everything in his home worked. The storage spaces are clever and unexpected. The kitchen set-up is versatile. All the electronics (tv, computer, recording studio, video recorder, etc., are ingeniously connected.
And the BEST thing? Hoggie's set up. That cat has it MADE, folks. There is a swinging cat door at about shoulder-level, that leads out to a series of chicken wire-enclosed pathways leading to various places such as a cat bed that gets the sun, a litter box area, a cat-house area. (Hoggie can't be an outdoor cat roaming free because of the coyotes in Dale's neighborhood, but this cat has the next-best arrangement to free-range!) Pics to be included.
Dale played his guitar and sang two beautiful original songs for me. His voice is so much deeper and richer than we can hear when he posts a video on EX!
Hoggie came out from under the bed and settled in his own personal desk-drawer "bed" next to Dale while Dale sang. I got to scratch Hoggie and get the Hoggie/Sky photo op I'd been waiting all day for!!! ;-)
I met his dad and his step-mom. Excellent people and most welcoming!
From his house, we drove to a great park where Dale used to play games as a kid and now he and his friend Steve perform just for fun and to entertain the park guests. There was a fiesta quinceaneras going on. At first we thought it was an outdoor wedding, but the young woman's dress was bright red/metallic gold and she looked waaay too young to be a bride!
We drove up to the highest point where we could see the bike path where his friend Steve was injured in that horrible bike accident last fall. Remember THAT? Steve is doing great now, but when Dale showed me the decline and subsequent incline of that very narrow bike trail, with the cement wall on one side and the deadly jutting rocks/cement drop off on the other side...well, I'm astounded that Steve survived a fall down those rocks at all!
From there, we drove through the Oceanside airport and just happened to be there at the right time to see all the tourist skydivers come dropping down into the desert area around the airport. (I told Dale that I've done a LOT of things in and around airplanes in my life...but jumping out of one is never going to happen! I'm not scared. I'm just smart.)
Then we went to the beach. Oh. My. Bob. (Shout out to dear Jordan for that whole "Bob" substitution thing!! xxxooo)
Okay, you guys, we need to re-think the whole Orlando/DisneyWorld super-expensive Mickey Mouse plans for our next EX get-together!!!
The beach in Oceanside is gorgeous, the rental cottages along the beach are cute and inexpensive (especially in February; these little orange cottages in my pictures will house 3-4 people each at only $500 for a WEEK. Do the math. And there was SO much to do in Oceanside. (Let's talk more about this later, but let's not assume Orlando HAS to be the place, please?)
Dale and I spent a lot of time at the beach and he showed me a lot of cool stuff. You can CAMP on the beach! Tents everywhere!
We ended up having ice cream cones and hanging out talking until it was time for me to take the train back down to San Diego.
It was an excellent adventure. Truly.
Ok, now I'm going to try to include pictures. I've been having trouble with this lately. Not sure why. If the pictures/links don't post, just enjoy this blog. I'll figure it out eventually.