Adventures in the Villa


March 2017

Tucson, AZ – Escapade – Days 2-4 – 3/23/17

What an amazing series of seminars is being offered this week!  In addition to an RV show, and a Marketplace full of RV equipment, gadgets, and services, I have a wonderful opportunity to learn more about this RVing lifestyle!

But first, on my morning walk, I discovered that the fairgrounds has a Bar and Grill!


I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks like an interesting place to escape the heat…

On Monday the seminars I attended were:

“Equipping Your RV for Electrical Independence”, where I learned more about electricity and solar panels and batteries in 1 hour then I had in all my previous years.  I now know how attaching two 6 volt batteries in series is better than two 12 volt batteries in parallel.  I learned that an 120 watt solar panel at 12 volts delivers 10 amps per hour, or about 40-60 amps per day, depending on the amount of sunlight.  What I still do not know is why batteries are rated in amp-hours, solar panels are rated in watts, the RV has some things that run on 12 volts and some things on 120 volts, and the “shore” power we plug into the Airstream is 50 amps.  Why we can’t use common terms is still a mystery.  (Presented by RV Solar Electric, Scottsdale, AZ)

“Insurance Shopping – Comparing Apples to Apples”, where I learned that all insurance varies by state – what policy is offered by a carrier in California might not be offered in Arizona.  I learned that policies may pay out for total loss replacement, purchase price, actual cash value, or an agreed-upon value.  I learned that the most important thing that affects the amount of your premium is how many claims you file. Not how much was paid out, whether you were at fault, but just how many claims were filed.  Also, a call to your agent asking about whether you might make a claim is as generally reported as a claim, even if you don’t file a claim.  Best advice: decide what you can afford to pay out of pocket, keep your deductibles at that level, and only make a claim if you actually have to! (Presented by Miller Insurance, Lake Oswego, OR)

“Photo Memories with Google Photos”, where I learned that Google Photos is awesome, and there are some really good, knowledgeable people out there who can teach you how to use it!  I learned that your photos are stored “in the cloud”, for free; that you can clear out photos off your phone to conserve memory space, and that you can easily make albums, share with friends, even print books, all at the touch of a button. These guys are great!  (Presented by Geeks on Tour;

“The Intentional Traveler”, where I learned about trip planning, resources available to locate attractions, RV parks, etc. It was all about planning, but also how to change plans if needed. And how to get the most out of your RV travels along the way.  (Presented by Pam Johnson; and

And that was just Monday!  The evening brought more “entertainment”. The less said about that the better…

On Tuesday, I signed up to get my truck and trailer weighed, using the SKPs “Smart Weigh” system. I was assigned to gather data from my rig – tire size and DOT date stamp, weights and capacities of all axles, GVWR and GCWR, and other things that had me rolling around on the ground, in the heat, trying to read all these numbers… I weigh the truck on Thursday, and the entire rig on Friday. This will be interesting.

More seminars:

“Technology to Tell Your Story”, where I learned that I should change out of Word Press for this blog, and start using Blogger. This was presented by the same folks who did the Google Photos seminar. Again, lots of great information. There was a third seminar on working with Google Maps, which I could not attend, but I did sign up for their tutorials that are available on-line, mostly on YouTube. I have a lot to learn before we leave on our 4 month journey in June…  (Presented by Geeks on Tour;

“Are you smarted than your smart TV?”, where I learned that most problems associated with watching TV inside your RV are due to faulty or incorrect wiring connections and menu selections. Pretty basic stuff, but It was fun listening to questions from the audience about why their 16 year old TVs don’t get any over-the-air stations any longer… (Hint: Old TVs are not digital, and all TV signals today are…)  (Presented by RV Connection, Yuma, AZ;

Tuesday evening I did something I’ve never done before:  I joined a bunch of odd old people and we played Bingo!  For $1.00 I was able to play 3 squares for 15 games. The winner of each game won $10.00.  As usual, I won $0.00. But it helped kill the time until it was a bit cooler outside, and in the Airstream…

Wednesday was devoted to 5 seminar sessions all about different aspects of living in your RV full time; no home base, no permanent address.  Some were geared towards younger, working people, who have figured out how to work and earn while on the road; others focused on the emotional issues related to “moving away” from your former house-based life. The last session had a panel discussion with three full-timing couples: a retired couple who have been on the road for just over 10 years, another couple who started full-timing when his doctor said he had less than 8 years to live – that was 25 years ago. The wife kept repeating that she only agreed to do this because it was only for 8 years… The 3rd couple was younger, working, and living and travelling full time for 7 years, with 4 kids, aged 6-14!

All in all, a very productive few days. Wednesday evening it started to cool a bit, and rain is predicted…


The clouds gave us a nice evening sky…














Tucson, AZ – Escapade – Day 1 – 3/19/17

The Villa has left California for the first time!  While we have camped in The Villa 61 times over the past 3 years of ownership, before today it has never left California.  I am traveling solo this trip, because, well, I can. Lynda is still working, I am not, so I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to take part in the Escapee Escapade.  More on Escapees and Escapade later…

I left Irvine just before 4:00 am, with the goal of being at the Pima County Fairgrounds, about 10 miles south of Tucson, well before the check-in deadline of 2:00 pm.  It is about 500 miles, and since I travel at 55-60 mph, or sometimes slightly higher, I knew I needed 8-9 hours of travel time, plus a generous allowance for stops for gas and rest…

It’t always fun to leave in the dark, early in the morning, before the rest of the world wakes up.  Traffic is light, and adventure awaits!  My first stop was at the Golden Acorn Casino, in Campo, CA, in far east San Diego County.  I didn’t need anything except to stretch my legs, grab a protein bar and some water from the refrigerator, and use the restroom, so I was on my way in a few minutes.  My next milestone was the Arizona border!



A few minutes later I was able to pull into a rest stop and add the obligatory sticker to the map of the states we have visited in The Villa…


Before long I had reached the eastern outskirts of Yuma, AZ, where I was able to buy fuel…



I know! These are exciting photos!!!

Back on the road, I proceeded to make good time across the Arizona desert.  At about 1:15 pm I pulled into the Fairgrounds; I was shown where to park by one of the volunteers in a yellow shirt, and I made camp.  Not much to do, except leveling and stabilizing, since this is “boondocking”.  No hook-ups of any kind.  No amenities of any kind.  We are all parked in a giant field of gravel, weeds, and dead grass…



It’s about 94 degrees in the shade, and there isn’t any shade… I needed to get registered, so I headed out to the main building where most of the activities occur. It’s about a 1/2 mile walk!  At least the building was air conditioned!  After checking in, I received all my information on activities for the week.  I headed back to settle in, read a few things and plan my week.

Why am I here?  “Escapees” (abbreviated SKPs) is a club for most- and full-time RVers. Escapade is their annual “convention”.  What attracted me first was the list of seminars on everything you need to know about being on the road for extended periods of time. Mail, internet, trip planning, places to spend the night… Also, there is a marketplace of vendors pitching their wares, from solar panels, tow hitches, insurance, and satellite TV.  And plenty of fun RV gadgets to see…

After perusing the schedule of events, I set out tinkering with my own gadgets. First came my portable solar panels. I have had them since Christmas, but, since it has been raining constantly in SoCal since Christmas, this was the first chance I had to try them.  And they work great!  They keep my batteries charged throughout the day, and, as long as I don’t waste battery power at night, I can get along just fine with no electrical hook-ups. Everything in the Airstream runs on 12 volt battery power, except the TV, microwave oven, satellite receiver, TV, and air conditioning.

Next, I pulled out my generators.  I have two Honda 2,000 watt generators, that, when linked together, produce 30 amps of power. At least that is the story.  I had tried them once before, and they appeared to work. But this time, in the desert heat, when I really needed air conditioning, nothing worked.  After running a few minutes the systems shut down; warning lights on the generators said, “overload.”  I tried running just one generator to see about the TV and Microwave oven, and that didn’t work either.  I seem to recall that this has happened before, so I am confident with a little trouble shooting I can be fully functional again.  So for now, I use the solar panels, run the fans during the heat of the day, and watch CNBC in the morning using Sling Box on my iPad… After all, we are camping…!

Luckily the weather cools down quickly by 9:00 pm or so, and mornings are in the low 60s, so sleeping is not a problem.  By Thursday, the high temps are expected to be in the mid-60s – I may need by furnace!

Tomorrow I’ll report on my first full day of seminars!





Crystal Cove 3/9/17

I’m Retired!  3/8/17 was my 66th birthday, and my last day working at TCA Architects.  My first job in an architect’s office was in 1972 – a lifetime ago and a whole different world…

On my last day at TCA they celebrated my departure with a luncheon and a spectacular cake:

The cake was make by: Cakes By HollyK, a Class-A Cottage Food Operation (CFO) permitted by the City of Long Beach Health Department.  If you need a special cake, this is the place to go!

We are celebrating my retirement by camping this weekend at Crystal Cove State Beach… It is our third trip here this year! We are joined by Rob Michler, Gerry and Sandra Bangert, Bob and Karen Kirkpatrick, and Bruce and Marya Barefoot. We shared happy hours and dinner each night…

The beach had extreme high and low tides due to the full moon. High tide means the access tunnel under PCH was flooded.  But the low tide means that many more rock formations were visible and many more tide pools were available for viewing.


On Sunday we were visited by our daughter and son-in-law with our DARLING grandchildren. It was one of their first long trips in their new Tesla X…


Lynda and Erin spent 4 hours on the beach with the kids, exploring tide pools and enjoying all that there is to do on the beach.

On Monday we returned to Irvine for my first full week of retirement. On Sunday I leave for a quick trip to Tuscon to join the Escapees at their annual Escapade.

Stay tuned!

Campground Review – San Clemente State Beach

San Clemente State Beach features rugged sandstone cliffs towering silently above the beach.  The campground sits atop the bluffs, offering spacious sites and spectacular views. As a personal note, my family began camping here in 1956, and we have camped here well over 100 times; it is one of our long time favorites, where we have celebrated births, weddings, graduations, birthdays, and numerous other occasions with family and like-minded friends.

The park was dedicated in 1933 on 100 acres of land purchased from H.H. Cotton, one of the founders of the City of San Clemente. (H.H. Cotton also built his home on a nearby bluff overlooking the ocean, which became the Western White House in the 1960s and 1970 whilst Richard Nixon was in residence…) The facilities at the park were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) between 1934 and 1937. Some of their signature rustic stonework is still in evidence around the park. The Visitor’s Center is a Spanish Colonial adobe cottage, recently restored as an events venue. (During the 1950s and 1960s the cottage was a residence for lifeguards and other park employees…)

The  Campground consists of 160 campsites, all  with picnic tables and fire rings. 72 are designated as RV and trailer sites, and feature water, electricity (30 and 50 amp), and sewer connections; there is also a sewer dump station on-site; 88 sites are “dry” camping, for tents, vans and small trailers and RVs; There are several restroom and shower buildings with pay showers. Restrooms and showers are well maintained, although they vary greatly in age.

The campground is located at the south end of the City of San Clemente.  The entrance to the campground is accessed just off the Calafia exit from the 5 freeway (Interstate 5).  There is a beach-front trail that follows the railroad tracks about 1 1/2 miles to the San Clemente Pier, and it continues about another mile to the Metrolink Station. There is also a Metrolink and Amtrak stop at the pier, but is it served only by a few trains each day.  The pier area also offers several restaurants, both on the pier and on the adjacent street; our favorite spot for a quick bite and morning coffee is Bear Coast Coffee. The Pier is located at the foot of Del Mar Avenue; “Downtown” San Clemente is about 1/2 mile up Del Mar.

The best features of this campground are the large, pull-through RV sites.  Site #31-53 (odd only) are the largest RV sites, and #57-72 are the smallest (#72 is VERY small…), but most offer ocean and sunset views down through the canyon. (We call sites #57-72 the “new” sites; they were added in the late 1960s…) All other sites are more than adequate for a large RV or trailer plus 2 cars, the maximum allowed.  Many sites, especially site #20-56, offer room for pitching tents as well.

The “dry” campsites are very spacious, and most are well spaced away from others. Each site features paved parking stalls for 2 vehicles, plus a picnic table and ramada. Water is available nearby. Sites #82-83 are right on the bluff-top, are very large, and are perfect for friends camping together. Note that Sites #82, 83, 85, 88, and 89 are directly on the edge of the bluff; while there is a fence (added in the 1980s), these sites might not be a good choice for families with small children.

San Clemente 10

The beach…


San Clemente 2San Clemente 1

More Beach…


Pier Bowl


San Clemente 12

Nice place to relax…


San Clemente 17

Restrooms and Showers…



Typical street scene…


San Clemente 5

Large, pull-through campsites…


Reserve early: For weekend year around, or anytime in the summer, you must reserve at EXACTLY 8:00 am on the first day of the 6th month prior – For August reservations, be online at 7:45 am on February 1!



San Clemente 2/24/17

Our weekend at San Clemente State Beach is an annual birthday celebration with many of our numerous Terhorst cousins.  The weather this year was again cloudy and overcast, with some rain starting on Sunday…

The weekend began on Friday, Feb. 24; this is Lynda’s 65th birthday, so special festivities were in order.  I was able to leave work a little early, so I brought the Airstream and set up camp; Lynda arrived at about 4:30 after school was out.  Lynda and I had made plans to walk to the nearby MRK Public, a local gastropub that we enjoy when we are in town.

Lynda was surprised by a visit by our good friend Rob, who had made a birthday cake. Rob joined us as we walked to MRK, where were seated on their nice (heated) outdoor patio. (I had conspired with the staff to leave adjacent tables empty…)  We ordered drinks and some small bites, and set in to relax and enjoy our time together.

Surprise!  We were joined by Steve and Jane Carmichael!  Surprise!  We were joined by Mark and Connie Miller!  Surprise!  Surprise!  We were joined by Doug and Lorraine Wilson and Scott and Lyn Gardner! We added nearby tables and continued to celebrate Lynda’s milestone with good friends.  An enjoyable time was had by all!

San Clemente 18


Saturday morning was again cloudy and gray. Lynda and I were joined by Rob; we left at about 8:00 am for our daily walk down the nature trail (heavily rutted and eroded by the recent heavy rains) to the foot of Calafia and along the beach trail to the Pier Bowl. We enjoyed coffees and we split a breakfast sandwich.  After walking back to the campsite we met up with a few of my cousins…

San Clemente 19


This February gathering coincides with many of my cousins’ birthdays. We’ve been meeting at San Clemente for 3-4 years now. We all enjoyed catching up with each others’ lives… 11 out of the 32 Terhorst first cousins were here… I was the only cousin present with the Terhorst name…

Also on Saturday we were visited by my daughter, Erin, and her PERFECT children. A few of them deserved time reading with L.A. Grandpa…

San Clemente 20


Sunday brought a little more rain, but nothing to worry about. We walked to coffee again, this time joined by Cousin Bill…

We look forward to our return visit next year!


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