Monday, April 23, 2012


We are parked on the street in Mountain View, California (map), a little further along the block than our past stays here. That's because the street south of us is coned off and posted No Parking, on account of the enormous construction project across the street, on the site of what used to be the county work release center. The building was still for sale when we were here a year ago; now it will be a three-story class-A office building, which has already been leased to Omnicell for their corporate headquarters.

We've been here two nights, and yesterday we awoke to the sounds of heavy machinery and backup alarms at 7:30am. Today was thankfully quiet. As if this major project, right across the street from thousands of square feet of perfectly usable and vacant office space, was not enough of an indicator that the region is beginning its economic recovery, we had a similar circumstance last week, when we parked in another of our usual spots on a dead-end in Sunnyvale (map). The long-time vacant lot (and toxic cleanup site) just north of that spot is also under development, and we had two mornings of similar rude awakenings there.

As I wrote here last time we were there (and, apparently, the time before that, too), lots of down-on-their-luck folks are living in RVs on the street all over the bay area, and this particular dead-end is a favorite of a couple of them. The same guy in the same rig we remembered from last time was there; he remembered me, too, and chatted me up. He told me the construction guys made him move, unsurprising since his rig was right next to the site, which is a beehive of activity now. He also told me the police had been marking his rig and making him move -- many of these folks push their luck on the "72 hour rule." It was clear to me that the developer of the site was trying to get him and his dilapidated rig away from their yet-to-be-leased multi-million dollar construction project.

I was unsurprised, then, when the construction superintendent knocked on our door mid-day Monday to ask what the deal was with all the RVs. I explained the situation and the 72-hour deal, and that as a public street these folks had a right to park. He asked when we were leaving and I said Tuesday. He was very forthcoming and indicated that the developer was pushing him to deal with the, umm, less-than-attractive rig on the street, and I posited that all he could do was ask the authorities to enforce the 72-hour rule -- sooner or later, the one remaining rig would get tired of having to move every three days and find greener pastures. Louise was out on errands at the time.

Tuesday, the knock on the door was the Sunnyvale PD. This time, I was out and Louise was home. The superintendent had, indeed, called to complain about the other rig, and when the police went to ask the guy about how long he'd been there and if he would move, he apparently threw us under the bus and complained that we'd been there too long, too. I'm not sure if he thought somehow that would buy him some leniency.

Of course, we were still under our 72 hours, since we had parked there just before dinner Saturday evening. Louise explained this to the officer, who was very polite about it all and agreed we were legal -- they knew exactly what was going on. He also thought the bus was really cool and asked if he could just stick his head inside to look. We knew we'd be in Sunnyvale again, and it always pays to be friendly with the local constabulary.

After my last post here, we drove over to Pittsburg to look at a 50' Kha Shing, which turned out to be unsuitable for us on a variety of fronts. Still, we always like to get aboard these boats and see what does and does not work for us. Afterwards we had a wonderful dinner with friends at their house over in Danville before returning to Alameda for one final night. We like that spot on the old Navy base, and we spent a good part of a beautiful Saturday there. We left mid-afternoon to be in quarters in Sunnyvale in time to head to yet another dinner, at the house of some other friends in Sunnyvale. We enjoyed a nice soak in their hot tub ahead of another excellent home-cooked meal.

You may be detecting a theme here. We had expected to have a relaxed month here in the bay area to fit in all our visits, but accelerating our departure to make a May 4 flight to the east coast out of Seattle cut that time down to just a little over two weeks. In order to see as many of our friends as we can, we've been scheduling visits for nearly every lunch and dinner during our stay, and in between as well. We seldom eat this many full meals, and after nearly two weeks of visits, we are ready to explode.

Sunday was our niece's birthday, and we took her to Cirque Du Soleil's Totem, which is in town in San Jose in their classic circus tent. Followed, of course, by yet another dinner, this time including birthday cake. After our full slate of visits while we were in Sunnyvale, we brought the bus down to San Jose for Tuesday Night Dinner with the motorcycle group, hosted at the home of friends. They blocked off a spot right in front of the house for Odyssey, and we not only enjoyed dinner and a great turnout of other friends, but also topped up the batteries and the water tank while we were there.

Schedule commitments on Wednesday, including more lunch and dinner visits, split us up after lunch, wherein I moved the bus back to Sunnyvale. Not wanting to return to the spot with the noisy construction project and the cranky RV-dweller they are trying to ditch, I tried a new spot across the expressway (map), which made my walk to the train station to reconnect with Louise in Palo Alto that much shorter. It was an OK spot with a squeaky shot to the satellite through a narrow gap in the trees. More importantly, it was across the street from a residential development, where RV-parking complaints are more likely, so we did not push our luck by spending more than the single night Wednesday.

That brought us here, to Mountain View. Or, more precisely, to where we were Saturday, when I started typing this post -- it is now Monday afternoon. Our social schedule has been so busy that I keep having to interrupt myself, and while I have been getting a bit of work done each evening when we return to the bus, the end of a long day after a couple glasses of wine is never a wise time for me to post. As we wrapped up our 72 hours in that spot Sunday, Louise trundled off in the car to do laundry while I took the bus over to dump the tanks, then re-spotted it around the corner from where we had been (map). I wanted to stay in Mountain View because we have been enjoying the free high-speed WiFi provided there by Google.

Speaking of free WiFi, I am wrapping this up on the VTA Light Rail as I head to San Jose for the evening -- I am going shooting with my friend John before we join our wives for dinner. Apparently since the last time I rode the VTA, they have equipped all the light rail trains with free WiFi -- snazzy. Soon the fare machines will even accept credit cards, bringing them into the 21st century.

We're good in our current spot through Wednesday, but I suspect we will move up to Redwood City tomorrow to be better positioned for our final Tuesday Night Dinner. We'll have two more dinners with friends on Wednesday and Thursday before leaving the bay area Friday morning for points north. Even then, there are still quite a few names on my list with whom we did not manage to connect on this visit (and my apologies if you are among them). At least we managed to get all our doctors' visits in, with both Louise and I seeing dentists and eye doctors.

We are due in Sumner, Washington the evening of May 2. We have already scheduled a repair visit with Infinity Coach starting May 3, and after going over the list and getting everything squared away, Odyssey will be in good hands while we fly to New York on the 4th. That, incidentally, is our wedding anniversary, so it looks like our anniversary dinner will be a box meal at 30,000 feet.

Given how busy we have been, and how long it has taken me to get this one update posted, I am going to guess that this will be my last update from the bay area, but you will certainly hear from me again once we get rolling north. We have a number of stops to make en route, including friends in Oregon and a visit to the Peninsula Glass shop in Vancouver to address the very last leaks, in windows of their manufacture.

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