After a week of working in Phoenix and shaking down the Land Cruiser for reliability, we were ready to head to San Diego. Just like in Afghanistan, I was wheel man and my work partner was on line. When we were in Kabul or other major city, we’d use commercial “dongles” which would pick up the 3G that was somewhat available there. Outside of cities, I had a portable satellite dish that looked like a small brief case, but opened up to provide pretty solid connectivity.
Our first stop was some unnamed garden spot, which frankly, kind of spooked both of us. Some homeless guy was walking across the Arizona desert and arrived about the time I was walking back to the truck. There was a half consumed bottle of orange soda sitting on the ground in front of the run down gas station, which he took a hit on before heading into the gas station. The smell of him was a physical thing as I passed him. I recorded Janiece’s reaction to his appearance.
Our next stop was for fuel. A word about Toyota Land Cruisers; They are not designed for fuel economy. We got the advertised 14 mpg or possibly better on the trip, but it is what it is. At the fuel stop, we saw one of the many Mexican restaurants you see in the Southwest, and it was amazing.
I used to manage restaurants. I was completely impressed by the fresh ingredients and the excellent preparation of our meal. The only prior prepared item in our meals was the refried beans. And we shared a date shake which knocked both of our socks off.
The trip from Phoenix to San Diego covers about every type of landscape possible. From scrub to desert, to verdant fields of fresh fruit and vegetables.
I was really worried about crossing the Mojave, but it was cold and rainy the whole way.
The pass immediately before entering the San Diego Valley is not of anything earthly. It’s reminiscent of pictures sent back from Mars, frankly.
After the required 5 hours or so, we finally arrived in San Diego. The hotel is in the “Little Italy” portion of downtown, just off the waterfront. Funny thing; just diagonal from the hotel was a tall office building surrounding a house that looked uncannily like the little house from the movie “Up!”.
Once we’d finished some work, we headed out to Coronado Beach for some sun, and unfortunately, a small disaster. Just as we drove over the towering Coronado bridge, all hell broke loose from our front end. We parked the car and called a mechanic. Turns out we’d broken something called a “Birfeld Joint”. That’s the thing that makes a Land Cruiser a Land Cruiser and not some other lesser form of Trek vehicle. Basically it’s a ball with gears inside it in the front axle which allows the front wheels to both steer and have power.
It’s good that we found the problem near the hotel, but bad in that getting a competent mechanic in a large city tends to be an expensive affair. We are now stuck here for an additional day, but there is lots of work to do, and San Diego is a pleasant place to do it.