Saturday, November 17, 2007

Free at last

The wild fire relief operation is finally over (well, the one here in San Bernardino -- they are still working in San Diego, probably for another week). We packed and shipped the last of the equipment yesterday afternoon, and had headquarters cleaned up and turned back over to the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians tribe by the end of the day. By the time we wrapped up, there were only four of us left, including fellow DOVEs Beth Ann and Shashi, who also parked their rig on the street here in front of HQ. The four of us had a celebratory dinner last night, after a shuttle run to return one of the two rental cars to the Ontario airport. I brought the other car over to the Inland Empire chapter, along with three boxes of excess office supplies, this morning, and turned it over to one of the remaining caseworkers who is staying behind at the chapter office until all the casework is closed.

Now that headquarters has disappeared, I can share with you this map link to our cozy location on the street.

We are parked right along the Santa Ana river (which is bone dry and dusty at the moment), across from the yet-to-open San Bernardino International Airport, formerly Norton Air Force Base. Too bad they are not yet open for business, it would have saved us at least two trips to Ontario to retrieve and deliver cars, and I know the transportation department also made many shuttle runs over there as well. As a side note, the airport served as the base for both the fixed-wing and rotor firefighting aircraft, and we saw many take-offs and landings during the early part of the operation. The fully-laden tankers in bright orange and white livery were quite an impressive sight.

The city of San Bernardino, for some reason, has deactivated all the street lights along this stretch of Riverview Drive, and so it has been blessedly dark, and mostly quiet, every night. The street is not really a through-street, and so there is very little traffic. We are filing this away as a potential future suburban-stealth-boondocking site should we ever have the need to return to San Bernardino. A bonus is that there are quite a few restaurants just a mile or two from here, along the aptly named "Hospitality Lane," including Olive Garden, Claim Jumper, Outback, California Pizza Kitchen, and several faster-food outlets such as Chipotle. We were not lacking for variety when it came time to go to dinner each evening.

The tribe, by the way, operates an impressive casino on their reservation just a few miles from here, and on our day off last Sunday, we went up there with coworkers for the fantastic and inexpensive buffet. We went at brunch time, but they really serve the prime rib dinner spread from 10am onward on Sundays. We did not look around for RV parking, but I would guess they could accommodate us. Another possible stop-over alternative when traversing I-10/I-215.

Now that the job is over, we are trying to get the rest of our lives back in order. We are still intent on heading to Mexico from here, entering at Calexico, and so we will head back through Palm Springs and along the Salton Sea down to Brawley. First, though, we have a couple of things that need to get taken care of.

For one thing, I still need a dentist. Many thanks, by the way, to the several people who wrote in with suggestions. None of those was close by, though, and so I was not able to schedule an appointment and time away from the job to make it happen. Now that we have no rental car, we'll probably focus on finding one that is close to our route. We have friends in Indio, and have asked them for a recommendation. Of course, nothing can happen on that front now until Monday, and, even then, it will be problematic to get anything done during Thanksgiving week. So, even though we are chomping at the bit to head across the border, we may be stateside for another week.

The second item needing attention is the front end bodywork. Notwithstanding a mostly uneventful cross-country trip to get here (other than the windshield chip, which we fixed), on the very last half-mile into headquarters, we hit a drainage swale at about 20mph that caused our front end to take quite a bounce off the pavement. Neither of us saw how dippy the road was until we were already on top of it. The bash plate on the bottom of our 'roo bars prevented more serious damage, but we did do a number on the left side fiberglass, and I'll need to either have it glassed back together, or just epoxy the broken area together before we put any more stress on it. It's all still hanging on, but I fear it can come apart at any moment.

Speaking of which, we dumped our tanks mid-job at the nearby Redlands Elks lodge (one of our backup locations in case staying on the street did not work out). It was very convenient, but the driveway was a bit humpy. We did not notice it until today, but, apparently, between the driveway hump and the bus leaning hard left during a turn, we also scraped some of the Bondo off the left side underbelly between the steer and drive axles. Neither of us noticed this happening at the time, and we must have just grazed it, as the Bondo was chipped, but the underlying metal was untouched. I sprayed it all with black primer this afternoon, to keep it from rusting, which makes the damage all but invisible. I'll have to get some Bondo to smooth it all back out, or maybe I'll just get it done in Mexico, where such work is often quite inexpensive.

Our current plan is to pull up to the spigot at the San Manuel warehouse here that has served as HQ and put some water in our tank, then probably spend another night right here. Tomorrow is Sunday, and the weekend crowd should be thinning in the Palm Springs area, and we'll head down there to one of the casinos, or maybe (gasp) even one of the high-zoot RV resorts for a night or two.


  1. Have you thought about getting your dental work done in Mexico? I hear it is a lot cheaper there and the quality is supposed to be equal to the US.

    Thanks again for all you both do for the Red Cross.


  2. Glad yu are finaly free,miss your post. Long time reader. Dave

  3. Outdoor resorts in Indio has a online coupon for 5 nights free. No sales pitch of anything.

  4. Please read Michel Krzyzanowski's report on Mexican Dentistry at entries dated
    Nov. 4th and 16th. I really enjoy reading your adventures, and
    have even shown some of your last year's cruise pictures to my
    6th grade geography class.


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