The day starts out nice enough. I’m up around 3000 feet, so I’m glad it is not a super cold night for up there – got tanks that could freeze if it gets too cold. My plan for today is to get back where I can get an internet signal (absolutely nothing at Cibbets Campground). Once connected, sign up for another $100 for 10 gigs for 20 days. Then use my googles to find my way to the San Diego Zoo for a day. Things were not going to go to plan today. Not even close.
I figure since I want to avoid the San Diego morning rush, I’d not hurry out of Cibbets, so, time for a nice little morning walk. Only planned to walk through the tenting area and up the hill across from me for whatever twenty minutes would take me out.
The tenting area is very nice – I cross over to it over this great stone bridge – no way you’d get anything this nice built these days on a budget. The tenting spots even have water taps – running water at your tent, sweet!
I climb up the slope a bit. There are some big rocks sticking out here and there. I pick my way through the bushes and climb up on one. That’s as far as I’m going to make it on twenty minutes. Not a bad view, but the hill top would have been nicer. Oh well, have to prioritize sometimes on vacation!
I head back to camp and inspect my rig before leaving. I notice my right rear tire has sunk into the pavement. WTF? I remember last night feeling the rig move a little, brushing the trees. I had thought a small earthquake had struck, for there was no wind to move the rig or the trees around like that. Now, I’m not so sure. Did the rig just suddenly sink into the ground here and move that way? I guess technically the ground did move last night, possibly just on a very small local level!
I get out of the hole OK, but I’m happy I didn’t sink any further! Off I go, back to Interstate 8, cell signal and getting my plan updated. As I approach the Interstate, I see I have pretty good cell signal. I pull over and try to connect. My phone tells me that my plan has expired, follow the link to spend too much money for too little data. But nothing happens. I try Freedom Mobile’s web page, and the account page. I almost get the account page to load, then nothing. Nothing anywhere else either. Perhaps my cell signal is still too poor, even with half bars?
Onto Interstate 8 I merge. I drive down the road a little ways, seeing a rest stop just ahead. Pulling in, I see I have full bars – should work here, right? Nope – nothing on any channel. Can’t do a damn thing. Now what? I think of what other resources I have, I did buy a “Lonely Planet” guide for southern California, it does have maps good enough to get me to the zoo, but really, I need more detailed maps than they provide. The big G has made things so easy, I’d really rather not navigate old school – I’m rusty on it, and old school navigation means you are totally reliant on good signage for where to be to enter/exit freeways, and you need to know your exits in advance. I’d have to make a list, and consult them while racing down a freeway I have never driven on.
I think on this a little further. Hey, Walmart has free Wifi, I surely will find one just off the freeway going in – go in there, connect and see if I can get my data setup. I’m pretty sure I’ve hit some sort of cap and Freedom is not letting me do anything, even on what should be the free access account pages I need to get to to change those sorts of things. I’m annoyed – I want to just give them my $100 and get to the zoo!
But we’re going to Walmart instead. I head into the ‘burbs of San Diego, watching along the roadside for a Walmart. Not too far in, I spot one on the right, but no freeway exit right there. I go about a mile down, and see an exit. Do I dare try and exit, and see if I can get back to the Walmart by dead reckoning?
I dare! Off the freeway I go, and onto a fairly major street. I make a guess and turn right at another fairly major street, hoping it will take me back to the Walmart. But it turns into a neighborhood feeder road. I hope it comes out on the other side near the the Walmart. But it curves away, leading me to a three way stop. Right I go, heading back towards the Walmart. I see a major road ahead, I think the Walmart should be to the left, let’s turn that way and see… Yes! There it is, ahead to my right, just turn on the next street and down I go to the Walmart. I pull into the parking lot, congratulating myself on having done some navigation without maps or googles to help me.
My parking is a bit wonky – I’ve picked an edge with a triangle cutout on the diagonal parking lot, I’ve not lined up right. I see this, having stepped out of the rig to look. No problem, I’ll just get back in and – FUCK! I don’t believe this! My rig, running – has just locked me out. Of course, I don’t have the windows down, or such. My phone is IN the rig. Good thing I at least have my pouch with my wallet, ID and cash out here.
I try the window on the side, hoping it will slide open if I pry it a bit. No luck. Now what? Into the Walmart, call Cruise America. The lady says I need to know the number. How am I supposed to know that, my phone is back in the RV, with all my other stuff. I head back out – surely there is some 1-800 number stuck to the vehicle somewhere. I see 1-800-RV4-RENT that might get me though, although if it’s a sales department, who knows if they could help. There is number just plain on the bumper in the event this RV is stolen, blah blah blah. Let’s try that.
Go back into Walmart, dial. It puts me through to a main menu system. I bet it’s the same RV4-RENT number, duh. I push through the menus and eventually get a fellow who speaks very softly, despite my asking him to speak up owing to the noisy Walmart. He says to try opening the side window, the latch should just pop open. If that doesn’t work, call a locksmith.
I sigh, and head back out to try the same window again. It’s not going anywhere. Back in I go. Same routine at Walmart – I need to know the number of a locksmith/towing company to phone it. How am I supposed to do that? What do they do if there is a vehicle they need towed? Finally, I get some decent advice – they call security – security will have a towing service they can call!
Off down the mall I go, heading for security. The lady there is very nice and does indeed know the towing service they use. She dials it for me, and I talk to Clancey’s Towing, who can be there in 20 minutes to unlock my rig. It’s Ford. Any thief worth their salt can use a slim jim to unlock my vehicle in ten seconds or less.
I wait, for what seems like an hours but who knows – my phone is inside so I have no idea what the time is. After what seems like an eternity, Clancey’s shows up and does indeed unlock my RV in ten seconds flat. $65 later, I am sitting in there again, looking at my phone with no data service. I could try and head to the zoo without maps, but this shouldn’t take too much time – might as well do the data today while I’m in cell range during business hours. I had forgotten how stupid Google is without data service, no maps pre-loaded for San Diego, so I had something no better than my basic Lonely Planet map there too.
I connect to the web page and try to sign up for more data. Get an error, cryptic code. Sigh. Now what? Try again, same cryptic code. Power cycle the phone, try again – same cryptic code. Swear at Freedom, cursing them for wasting my valuable time in San Diego, that I should be at the zoo at right now rather than dealing with the zoo of their web page.
I debate phoning in and waiting at least 20 minutes to talk to an agent. Screw it, I will do the chat service – that is usually quick, and my problem is basic.
Get on the chat screen, connect with an agent. So far, so good. Explain my problem. Long wait, then the ask for account and verification details. Long wait again. I notice a little text box saying they are committed to answering each text message within ten minutes. Ten minutes?! I’ll be here all day if they take that long between replies!
But I’m already into the session, keep going along with this. After a long session of typing with much more waiting than typing, I finally get my data plan back. I mention that it should be a lot easier for me to give them my $100 and move on. Oh it’s MY fault for this problem, I had a cap set on my plan and couldn’t add on any more data! I refrain from pointing out that I had to get on WiFi to even get to the point of being able to change that, and then the cryptic message was a NUMBER error code. While I had a clue what the problem might be, I was not about to spend a bunch of time digging through their maze of links to see if that might be the problem, thus my ‘just fix it and take my money’ approach.
But at least I have data again! But it’s 1 pm now, really too late to do a zoo trip. Plan B: Visit the beach! I had in my little research prior to my trip found a beach right up against the US-Mexico border that looked more secluded, at least as far as San Diego is concerned. I put down the pin in my now useful googles, and off I go!
The big G takes me off the freeway a couple of exits before the Mexican border. I had already seen the big warning signs that Mexico does NOT allow guns, a very important message for the many Americans that do pack heat. But I’m not going any closer to Mexico that this park. Off I go down side streets – promising for things being quieter where I am going. The road is pretty poorly maintained towards the end – holes, water, and humps of dirt running off the hills to my left are all over the place. But I get to the sign for Border Field State Park – beach, here I come!
CLOSED?! What do you mean ‘closed’??? Area closed, I can’t even WALK down to the beach?! No way! My day just isn’t going to plan at all. Well, I might as well see what there is here at the entrance, there is a little parking lot so I’ll stretch my legs at least.
It doesn’t take me long to notice the border wall above me, under construction with brand new shiny steel too! I also notice the border guards on the ridge above me, watching.
I hear the distinctive whir of helicopters, not long until I spot them either – three of them flying circles to the north. Training, or patrol, I cannot tell, but the whole mood of the area was oppressive.
I walk south to the road just past the little display the parking lot is for. Pretty sure I’m not supposed to be on this road, but since there is no sign or fence right here, I have every right to play dumb tourist on this one. I wander over to a large crane with a flatbed truck. Another truck had just left. I look everywhere, on high alert for border guards telling me I must leave the area immediately. But I see one hard hat construction worker only walking around a bit. I go over and strike up a conversation.
He’s there minding the crane while waiting for anther load of beams to show up – this is the off loading area for the beams being used to construct the wall above us. “We can only haul one at a time up there, so I wait for them to return for another one”. I remark on how much effort is being expended for this wall. “Gotta keep those Mexicans out” was his response. I’m not going to argue with him – the whole reason he has a job right now is because America is trying to keep those Mexicans out.
I head back to the RV, depressed at what I have seen, and not seen. But I notice there are trails open here after all, just not going to the beach! At least I can take a little twenty minute hike down these paths. It’s nothing spectacular – I never even see the water with all the vegetation around me, but at least I get some walking in, even if it is with helicopters circling overhead all the time…
I consider my next move back at the RV. I could go back to Cibbets, but it is an hour out of San Diego. I also need to dump soon. Let’s see what there is for campgrounds. I find one, not too far away, $55 a night! – Let’s look a little farther away. I find a place called “Ma Tar Awa Viejas” Campground, about 45 minutes out. $35 a night. Give them a quick call to verify they have spaces. A bit more digging on the googles reveals nothing better – too many of these places are right by the Interstates, why would I want to listen to freeway traffic all night?
Off I go, to camp on an Indian reservation campground. It turns out to be quite nice, just far enough off the Interstate 8 that you can’t really hear it, and it’s nice and clean and quiet. Perfect spot to regroup and try the San Diego Zoo again tomorrow!
Oh, in case you were wondering (I know I was) my RV definitely locked me out. I tested the door locking extensively afterwards (with the side RV door open!). With the keys in the ignition, the door always immediately unlocks if you try and manually lock them before closing the door. I had been thinking I accidentally pushed down the lock on exiting the door. Nope, somehow the locking relay triggered when I slammed the door shut. Do not trust a Ford’s locks was my lesson of the day!