Monthly Archives: May 2017

Out & About—San Diego Harbor boat tour with Captain Randy Phillips

Out & About

When you come to San Diego, be sure to put “Harbor Cruise” on your list of things to do. There are quite a few harbor cruise boats full of tourists.

San Diego harbor cruise

Sure, you can take one of those. They are fun. I’m here to suggest even more fun. Take a smaller cruise, like one with Captain Randy and Randy Phillips Tours.

Captain Randy Phillips

Much more personable and enjoyable. Since Captain Randy was just a few feet away during the 2-hour boat tour, it was easy to ask questions…. And darned if he didn’t know all the answers!

That’s Captain Randy’s boat just to his left, so there’s no place to hide from the glorious San Diego Sun. If you’re not a sun bunny like me, take a hat, a long-sleeve shirt, sun screen…. whatever you need to have an enjoyable 2-hour harbor cruise.

Some of the sites you might see:

Seals and sea lions
Sea lion

Sea lion on buoy

Boats bigger than the one you’ll be on….
USS Carl Vinson

….up close and personal
(not available on the big boat tours)USS Midway Museum up close and personal

Sunrises or sunsets.
Captain Randy took my group out at 6:30 a.m.
Sunrise over the San Diego harbor

San Diego skyline at sunrise

If you go early in the morning,
you’ll have still waters with the sunrise.Still waters

Beautiful vistas of the San Diego skyline
(once the sun is up)San Diego skyline

San Diego skyline

The San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge
San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge

I even have a short video of us going under the bridge

Unusual ships that you have probably never seen
and probably will never see again.Hospital ship Mercy

Palmetto State

Naval vessel 23

Captain Randy will take you into Glorietta Bay
so you can see the Hotel del Coronado
and the Coronado Shores condominiumsHotel del Coronado

Coronado Shores condominiums, Coronado CA

Contact Captain Randy at Randy Phillips Tours, 858-531-3186. Tell him Russel Ray sent you his way.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About—Old Highway 80 & the best. chocolate. ever.

Out & About

Now that I have a fine fine fine super computer that will process pictures much much faster, I can do longer blog posts. Yahooooooooooooo!

So today I’m going to continue my tour of Old Highway 80 through the boondocks of East San Diego County.

Driving tour of East San Diego County via Old Highway 80

For previous posts on the beginnings of this Old Highway 80 tour, see these:

  1. Glad I could add some laughter to Mr. Agent’s day (Jan 27, 2017)
  2. Reminds me, something about a big wall (Jan 29, 2017)
  3. Marshall Scotty’s Playground Park (Feb 19, 2017)
  4. Stand down. Local tourist (Mar 2, 2017)
  5. The San Diego & Arizona Railway (Mar 7, 2017)
  6. Who wants to drink brown water (Mar 9, 2017)
  7. Halls of History—The Coogan Ranch (Mar 15, 2017)
  8. Out & About—Cruise historic Highway 80 (Mar 23, 2017)
  9. Bankhead Springs, drive-through ghost town (May 17, 2017)

Since I already have taken things out of order with the above posts, it’s best not to try to follow Old Highway 80 using my blog posts. Instead, get a copy of Chris Wray’s book, Highways to History, and following the “Highway 80 from El Cajon to Ocotillo” tour, pages 15-52. Alternately, if you’d like a personal docent for the tour, all you have to do is contact me. Give me 24 hours notice, and I’m yours. We’ll even take my car! Meanwhile, here’s the rest of the Old Highway 80 using unprocessed pictures that are left in my computer folder, seeming to indicate that they have not been used in a blog post yet.

We’ll start in this post at the Acorn Casino since it’s such all roads—Interstate 8, Highway 80—lead to the Casino. Looks like this:

Golden Acorn Casino

Next, go through Live Oak Springs and past Live Oak Springs Road until you get to the Tierra del Sol Road intersection. On the north side of the intersection is a stone tower sitting on top of a rounded boulder. Looks like this:

Stone tower on rounded boulder on Tierra del Sol Road, Old Highway 80, San Diego County

Sources don’t seem to know what it is but best guess, which I agree with based on my 55+ years of experience in real estate, is that the it is part of a building foundation sitting atop the boulder. I’ve seen such construction many times in many states.

Highway 80 joins with Highway 94 past Tierra del Sol Road. Look for the Highway 80 intersection with Jewell Valley Road (south)/Ribbonwood Road (north). Lots of buildings around, including the Wisteria Candy Cottage at 39961 Old Highway 80. Looks like this:


Stop at the Wisteria Candy Cottage.

Even if you don’t think you want candy.

They have the best chocolate in the world. Buy some for later.

As stated on their signs, they have been providing “old fashioned candies since 1921.” Everything I bought on my trip was based on chocolate. Maybe they have other “old fashioned candies” but I didn’t see any. Or maybe my eyes simply were focused on chocolate because my mouth was watering for chocolate. Best. Chocolate. Ever. I had read, and I agree.

The Wisteria Candy Cottage actually is located in Boulevard (pop. 315) but Wisteria is the name for western Boulevard left over from fifty years ago. It also is located in the original building and in the original location of the Mountain Empire High School.

You can start eating your chocolate while you walk around outside to the back of the Wisteria Candy Cottage. There you’ll see a huge dead building. Looks like this:

That dead building is the ruins of what sources say is an old lodge or temple for the Masons located in Imperial Valley. Sadly, that’s all the information I can find online. It’s probably the only dead building I’ve ever seen that is not ruined by graffiti.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

She was on to something

Investment Opportunity

Every occasionally, like this year, my anniversary falls on Memorial Day Weekend, and when it falls on Friday, as it also did this year, it pretty much means that Jim and I have a four-day weekend, like this year.

So if the last you’ve seen of me was Thursday, now you know why.

Lots of touring, margaritas, good food……… and locks.




When I went off to college in August 1973, my wise old grandmother told me, “Invest in locks.” She was on to something.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

“Off with their heads!” he’d say.

Did you know?

Hello, there, classic WordPress editor! You are sooooooooooo much faster than that new clunker, and I have you and the new clunker working in two tabs on my fine fine fine new super computer, so I can make that statement definitively. It’s good to be back.

Speaking of being back, for the last couple of years I have only been working on one computer. Previously, I had a work computer and a music computer. The music computer died so I had to move all my music to the work computer, and I can tell you that listening to music all day really strains a computer.

Well, this fine fine fine new super computer is now my work computer, and the old computer is now my new music computer. Now that I have two computers side by side again, I can multitask better again, and that means visiting more of my blogging friends each and every day!

Not having anything interfering with my music enjoyment is really nice. I hated all the boops and beeps from all other programs and web sites messing with my music listening pleasure.

I can definitively state, with absolute certainty, no doubt about, it, that I

really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really

hate web sites, especially news sites, that automatically start playing videos when I visit. If I want to watch and listen to a video, I will watch and listen to it on my own.

One of the advertising sites explained why they do that. I don’t know if their explanation is true, but it certainly makes sense.

Many organizations make their money from advertising, and advertising means unique hits and views. YouTube counts a view as at least 30 seconds watching a video. In the case of those organizations that start videos playing immediately upon you loading their page, it turns out that many of them get credit for you watching a video if the video goes for at least 3 seconds. That makes it almost impossible to NOT watch a video as far as their advertising dollars go.

Once I learned that, whenever I visit a site, I’m standing (sitting, actually) at attention with my hand on the mouse and I’m prepared to stop that video as soon as it starts so that it doesn’t get to 3 seconds.

One doesn’t even have to click on the pause or stop button. You can click anywhere on the video, and if it’s playing, it will pause. If it’s paused, it will start. So I immediately pause it and then decide if I want to give them 3 seconds of my time to support the organization.Alternative Facts

I have decided that if the video has Twitler or any of his ilk speaking, I refuse to watch it. I don’t want any organization thinking that a video of Twitler or any of his ilk is good because it causes their visits and views to go up, making them more money. I can’t stand their faces or voices, especially when they start dealing in alternative facts.

For example, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross offered two highlights of his trip to Saudi Arabia in an interview with CNBC.

He was given two bushels of dates by Saudi Arabian security guards. He was touched. That gesture really warmed his heart.

Second, he was overjoyed that he saw no protesters, indicating that the Twitler administration was well liked in Saudi Arabia. Of course, he pretty much admitted that he did not know that protesting in the Saudi Arabia kingdom is illegal and can result in a summary death sentence. Their death sentence usually involves beheading the person in a public square with thousands of people watching.


Perhaps if Twitler and his ilk like Saudi Arabia so much, they should move there. I’m betting they won’t, especially once they accept the fact (not an alternative fact) that the Saudi Arabia king pretty much has absolute power. He’s not going to put up with competition. “Off with their heads!” he’d say.

Rant over.

Margarita time.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

SNIPPETS—I’m exhausted. I quit. It’s margarita time.



I went to a photographer’s wine tasting yesterday in the Temecula Valley Wine Country. There is mile after mile after mile of vineyards, wineries, and tasting or other special events. I was the only guy in our group (ignore the photobombing dogs, one of which was a guy). I always have been an outcast.

Winery tour


I want to give a shout out to Joey Thaidigsman who just finished his freshman year at the University of California at Berkeley with a 3.96 GPA in computer science. I may need to help him with future courses involving the subject matter of that course he got an A- in………….

Joey Thaidigsman, freshman computer science major at the University of California at Berkeley


I give a specific shout out to Joey Thaidigsman because, now a sophomore computer science major at the University of California, Berkeley, but home for the summer, he built me a fine fine fine super computer for all my photo and video editing.

It’s a beast.

What used to take 30 minutes now takes 30 seconds.


  1. Intel 7th Gen Core Desktop Processor i7-7700K (BX80677I77700K), $337.00
  2. Samsung 850 EVO 1TB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-75E1T0B/AM), $349.99
  3. ASUS PRIME Z270-A LGA1151 DDR4 DP HDMI DVI M.2 USB 3.1 Z270 ATX Motherboard, $159.99
  4. Corsair LPX 32GB DRAM 3000MHz C15 Memory Kit for DDR4 Systems, $259.99
  5. MSI GAMING GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5 DirectX 12 VR Ready (GeForce GTX 1060 GAMING X 6G), $259.99
  6. Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO RR-212E-20PK-R2 CPU Cooler with 120mm PWM Fan, $24.99
  7. Corsair Carbide Series 200R Compact ATX Case for H55, H60, H75, H80i (CC-9011023-WW), $58.99
  8. Sabrent 75-in-1 Multi Flash Media Card Reader/writer(With power cord) (CRW-UINB), $12.14
  9. EVGA SuperNOVA 650 G1, 80+ GOLD 650W, Fully Modular, 10 Year Warranty, Includes FREE Power On Self Tester Power Supply 120-G1-0650-XR, $79.99
  10. LG 27UD58-B 27-Inch 4K UHD IPS Monitor with FreeSync, $344.99

Pictures, new on the left, old on the right:

Fine fine fine new super computer compared to old computer

Fine fine fine new 4K super monitor compared to old monitor


When I graduated from Texas A&M University sometime in the late 1970s, I wanted to work in a forest somewhere, sitting in a lonely fire lookout tower like the one below, where I sat today for about an hour watching the beginnings of the Gate Fire 80 miles away. My 600mm lens made the Gate Fire look like it was just down the road. It burned over 2,000 acres and is now 100% contained. High overnight humidity and low winds for two consecutive days helped fire fighters control the fire with no loss of buildings or life, other than the plant life, of course.

Boucher Tower, a fire lookout tower
built in 1948 on Palomar Mountain in Southern California
to replace an older tower built in 1921.
Boucher Tower was closed in 1991
but has been open to tourists since 2013.
There are volunteers who staff the tower
during fire season, which began May 1.

Boucher Tower, a fire lookout tower on Palomar Mountain in Southern California

The Gate Fire near Jamul CA
about 30 minutes after it started
and seen from 80 miles away
and 5,438 feet elevation in the Boucher Tower.

The Gate Fire near Jamul CA about 30 minutes after it started and from 80 miles away and 5,300 feet elevation

With the amount of rain we had this past winter, I think it’s going to be a bad fire season.

Fire on the freeway


I have resisted moving from the classic WordPress editor to the new one. I thought the new one was disorganized, clunky, and slow.

Normally I do 10 SNIPPETS in a SNIPPETS post. Takes me about an hour. Using the classic editor.

Today I switched to the new, disorganized, clunky, and slow editor. It has taken me three hours to create this SNIPPETS post with just 5 SNIPPETS in it.

I’m exhausted.

I quit.

It’s margarita time.

Margaritas at On The Border in El Cajon, California

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

It speaks to me

Out & About

I made it through these past two days of hiking here and there and everywhere.

This morning I did the Navy’s 31st Bay Bridge Walk/Run.

I don’t know how many steps I took….

but I’m pretty sure it had to be close to 15,337.

And in just 1 hour and 59 minutes.

4 miles.

I took 31 minutes to go from starting line to bridge.

The winner of the race finished in just over 20 minutes.

I’m thinking he didn’t get any pictures.

I got 191!

I win!

Navy 31st Bay Bridge Walk/Run

I got so many pictures from these past two days that I have enough pictures to use in my blogs for, well, probably the rest of my life.

A lot of them will make great Photographic Art, too, such as this one:

San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge

That’s a good picture, but it doesn’t have any emotion.

It’s just a picture.

So I made it into Photographic Art:

San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge

Rarely do I like black & white pictures, but sketches are a different story. I can see the college student in his drawing class sitting out at Tidelands Park in Coronado and sketching that bridge. Suddenly the picture speaks to me.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Mount Palomar

Blogger might have died from exhaustion

If you don’t hear from me anymore, it’s because I died of exhaustion.

Today, 8:30 a.m., I went on a 7-mile round-trip hike at 4,700 feet above sea level on Mount Palomar.

Mount Palomar

I don’t know whether or not I made it back—this post is set to publish at 1:00 p.m., with or without me.

If I did make it back, Sunday is a 5-mile round-trip hike on the Coronado Bay Bridge.

Coronado Bridge

I’m registered Sunday as a walker in the Navy Bay Bridge Run-Walk.

Walkers are encouraged to stop and take pictures, and I assure you, I will.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat