Driving up the coast to Pismo Beach was just unbelievably beautiful. Imagine verdant hills on your right and rocky cliffs on your left overlooking the largest ocean on the planet. Our plan is not to travel longer than three hours and this leg was about 1 1/2 hours thus, we took our time and enjoyed the ride.
The five cities are comprised of Arroyo Grande, Oceano, Grover Beach, Shell Beach and Pismo Beach. All the these cities run into each other and each is very special in their own way. AG, as known to the locals, is usually referred to as Vintage California while Oceano is known for its sand dunes and for having the only state beach on which vehicles are allowed. Grover is known for having the only train station in the area and Shell is a gorgeous oceanfront community with breathtaking stretches of coastline and beachfront parks. Pismo is a really cool town with an amazing pier, surrounded by lots of excellent eateries and surf shops.
While in Pismo, Jackson absolutely loved his morning beach walks. He constantly pulled me toward the beach and his nose would get to work as soon as he reached the sand. However, driving the beachfront in Oceano was actually fun, although I was a bit nervous. The last thing I wanted was to get stuck and have to get towed out. Driving on the sand was a new experience for me. We drove for a while and decided to park the truck on the soft sand and began our walk. We did have to look both ways as vehicles were coming from both directions. We were fortunate to see horses being ridden beachside and of course, Jackson had something to say about that too!
Many had told us we would not have direct access to the beach from the campground we had chosen, however, I did not find that to be the case. The campground had not one but three beach accesses thru the dunes which were covered by dosanthemums, better known as ice plants. A small trail had been cut out to provide access. As we wandered up and down the dunes, the walks to the beach were not strenuous.
It was exciting to have been able to have dinner with new friends, Kathy and Victor Mayeron, whom we met while wintering in Arizona.
We visited the Monarch Butterfly Grove because it happened to be practically next to the campground knowing fully well that the season ended in February, but since it was open year round, we were hoping against hope. We did see three lonely Monarch butterflies fluttering around. During season however, thousands of colorful Monarchs cluster in the limbs of Eucalyptus and Monterey Pines giving them the appearance of having orange and yellow leaves.
With that excursion a bust, we decided instead to drive up to Avila Beach, yet another small coastal town which offers the magnificent 1.5 mile Bob Jones Trail and mineral springs.
There are so many beautiful coastal towns in California, yet Morro Bay was different in that it is a waterfront town full of unique boutique shops and a plethora of restaurants to choose from all along the waterfront. It is mainly known for Morro Rock, an ancient volcanic mound with a height of 576′, where falcons usually nest. We drove to the rock and although it was disappointing that we did not see any falcons, it was exciting in that we were able to see many sea lions and sea otters freely swimming along its shore.
During the entire stay in the area, the weather was either cool or gloomy, sometimes both. The locals call it May gray and June gloom, however, we were so happy our last weekend broke the norm, it happened to be Mother’s Day weekend and it was glorious. There was not a cloud in the sky. As we walked the beach we noticed that lots of people were setting up tents and umbrellas anxious to soak up the sun. Everyone intending to go in the ocean, whether surfing or not wore wet suits, little children included. It’s a good thing because the water is really cold and although normal to the locals, wearing wet suits on the beach is not something we are accustomed to seeing.
Food in this area cannot be more fresh and we experienced a complete range from elegant dining to family-run cafés where regional wines were made available.
Our last venture was to visit San Luis Obispo. It is one of the most populous towns in the area and home to Cal Poly, California Polytechnic State University. So in addition to it being a college town, SLO, has one of the most charming shopping districts I have seen. The tree lined downtown provides both shade and uniqueness. We came across an alley the locals call bubblegum alley, which could be, depending on your outlook, either a work of art or just plain disgusting. People come from near and far just to affix their chewed gum on the alley’s walls.
On our last night in Pismo we were fortunate to see a sunset. These gloomy days with lots of cloud cover rarely afford the opportunity for beautiful sunsets.
We left Pismo and took off on probably what will be our shortest drive, a whopping 45 minutes to the central coast’s wine country. Stay with us as we have more adventures coming!
Here we go again, the Lindstroms always have a story to tell. I always say that things happen for a reason. While staying in Barstow we did not have the opportunity to visit our friend in Huntington Beach because John had to repair the damage to the airbags in the truck. Little did we know that on the very the day we would have gone, there was breaking news that a male suspect was in a standoff with police and SWAT right in that area and although it would have made for a yet another great story, I’m glad we were not there.
We left Barstow and drove to Santa Barbara uneventfully. We began to see some greenery and then a bit more until we saw tree farms and even several orange groves. We hadn’t seen orange groves since leaving Florida, over a year ago. However, we knew, that soon we would be seeing the Pacific Ocean. We felt a sense of excitement and smiles creeping on our faces.
We arrived in Santa Barbara and once we got set up, we took Jackson for a ride and some lunch.
We visited Stearns Wharf which was built in 1872. It is the oldest operating wharf on the West coast. I was amazed that we could drive on the pier. I had never strolled on any Pacific Coast pier, let alone drive on one. Since I didn’t know what to expect, I suggested John ask the attendant if we would be able to turn the truck around at the end. John didn’t and wouldn’t ask and told me not to worry about it. I guess I was on a need to know basis. As we were slowly driving on the pier, one of my many thoughts was “this is actually pretty cool, we are actually driving over the Pacific Ocean”. Unreal!
By happenstance, we chose the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company which is apparently very known for a variety of seafood delicacies and not just limited to oysters. It did not disappoint! I had a cioppino, which is a local crab claw, shrimp, scallops, clams and mussels in sauce served in a bread bowl and topped with parmesan cheese and John had a lobster roll. The last time he had one was in Maine over five years ago. We had forgotten how delicious fresh fish actually tastes.
Adjacent to Stearns Wharf is one of the oldest working harbors on the West Coast. There were countless boats and sailboats, many of which serving as residences.
Joe and Melody Maggio, friends from Florida suggested that we not miss visiting Solvang. We had never heard of that town before and were so glad we went as we really enjoyed it. On our way we drove through the emerald green hills of Los Padres National Forest and then the Santa Inez Valley. The sky over Santa Barbara was hazy the entire time we were there and as soon as we crossed the mountain range it was as if a curtain had been pulled aside. The beautiful blue sky appeared and it was noticeably warmer.
We stopped at a vista point and ran into three original Model T’s which where parked while their owners enjoyed a picnic lunch.
Solvang (meaning “sunny field”) is known as the Danish Capital of America. The history on this town goes back to 1911 when three danish immigrants wanted to purchase land to build a school in Iowa and could not find anything affordable. They were told about a tract of almost 9,000 acres in the Santa Inez Valley so they saw the land and bought it for a really good deal. Imagine that! It became the Danish American colony of Solvang, California. They subdivided the land into plots for farms and homes and the profits were used to build a school and a lutheran church. The feel you get when visiting reflects the town’s Danish culture. Main Street is called Coppenhagen Drive and other streets have Danish names as well. The town has about 5,400 residents with about only 10% actually being Danish.
The school was built and so was the lutheran church. From it’s ceiling hung a miniature of the “Marmora” from the 1870’s. A Viking tradition views the church as a ship that takes people safely from the storms of life.
This was one of the first buildings in Solvang and it served many purposes. It was the first college, then as a location for church services until the present danish lutheran church was completed and later it became a restaurant and it remains as such today, called, A Bit of Denmark, where we enjoyed yet another delicious meal.
The town was lovely and we wish we would have known about it before as we easily could have taken several days to explore its restaurants, bakeries and unique shops. Sadly, it was time to return and we took the coastal route.
With so much yet to see and do we had to make a difficult choice and went whale watching. Everyone who has ever gone whale watching knows there is never a guarantee of seeing whales. We were so fortunate to not see one but two humpback whales each over 40 feet long. They are such amazing creatures. Their tales are like our fingerprints. There are no two alike as that is how they are distinguished.
Santa Barbara was a beautiful coastal town, one we would return for sure, but it was time to continue on.
The RV came out of the hospital looking mighty spiffy. It even got new shoes. The truck has also been looked at, or so we thought. We installed air bags on the truck and when we were ready to go, John activated the bags only to hear the compressor but the bags weren’t filling. If it’s not thing one, well then it must be thing two. We have to go with the flow.
Our first stop in California, was Barstow. This was meant to only be a short stop over while we visited a friend in Huntington Beach. People had told us that it was just a truck stop, nothing to see there. Well, it was a very large truck stop as it has a population of over 23,000 people. The first thing we saw was a drive-in movie theater. I have never been to one and thought it might be cool to go, except I wasn’t fond of what they were playing. We stopped at a local Italian restaurant and I asked the waitress for things to do while in the area. She shrugged and said “EAT?” Their food was very good.
The following morning John tried to get a mechanic to look into why the air bags weren’t inflating and none could look at it for a few days so after getting instructions on what to look for from the mechanic who installed it, he got under the truck and after having to go to several auto stores, he fixed it, all for the cost of a coupling. Apparently, the tube connecting the air bag from the air compressor was rubbing against one of the tires and developed a hole. No wonder air was not getting through.
As a result of having to fix the truck’s air bags, we were saddened not able to meet our friend in Huntington Beach. On the bright side, we did find a neat place called Peggy Sue’s. This roadside diner was a true Old Fashioned Tourist stop and it was adorable. Yes, they cater to truckers, but also to tourists and locals. The walls were totally decorated with 50’s memorabilia and a 5 & dime store. The owner had moved from Southern California and was looking to open a place where she could display all of her movie and TV props. There was 50’s and 60’s music playing all throughout and various seating areas each with a different theme. And… the food was oh sooo good. That waitress was correct!
Stay with us, the fun is just about to begin in earnest!
On our way to Lake Havasu City we found ourselves driving through open roads with nothing on either side except rocks, dust, bushes and wildflowers, every now and then a small town would pop out of nowhere, you would blink, and then again to nothing. I believe the largest town we drove through was Parker and like Havasu, it is likewise on the Colorado River. I miss seeing water and after six months of wintering in the desert, I really was looking forward to the change.
We arrived in Lake Havasu City and fell in love. It was such a cute, clean city right on the water and bordered by the mountains.
London Bridge, the iconic landmark of Lake Havasu, is spectacular, especially at sunset. I was amused as I found a clock in town called Little Ben. I really liked this little town on the side of the river bordered by red rock formations.
Where ever you turn, there are RV and marine related businesses. Most homes had either a boat or an RV or both, parked on their property and many homes also had RV/Boat garages.
It occurred to us that perhaps this might be a better place to get the RV repaired. After much research, we contacted a local company who enjoyed excellent references. This time however, prior to contacting them, we visited the establishment just to look around. It looked very professional, no visible junk in their lot and everything was clean and picked up, and several RVs, boats and vehicles were in their lot. After speaking to the owner, he personally came out to our site, took pictures, contacted the insurance company and immediately ordered all the necessary parts, all without delay.
While in Havasu, we took a drive to visit the nearby towns. Along the drive we came across a beautiful, and unusually bright road, edged with wildflowers. The yellow lines, recently repainted reminded me of the good things to come…. “Follow the Yellow lined Road”… or Brick Road…
We arrived in Oatman, a very sparsely settled town in which a couple of prospectors struck it rich after finding gold back in the early 1900’s. It then became a mining town and then that dried up. It now remains a ghost town. With only 128 people and a handful of feral burros calling it home, Oatman is really tiny. It has a few stores, restaurants and gift shops and rely exclusively on tourists to survive.
We took Oatman Highway from Oatman to Kingman and it had many hairpin turns, reminding me of the road to Hana in Hawaii because of its numerous curves. No vehicles over 23′ were allowed on the road for obvious reasons.
We also drove through Quartzite. This area had always intrigued us as many RVers choose to winter there. There were numerous campgrounds, mostly all either dirt or gravel, and the city itself it quite small.
Alternatively, there were many BLM’s (Bureau of Land Management) – managed public lands, where people boondock (a site with no services). A permit is required to stay in these areas, you then select out a spot and park. I assume you will need to either use a generator or solar power, and I understand there are companies that will come out to pumpout your waste and refill your water tanks.
It’s definitely a budget friendly way to winter, still it feels too much like camping.
We had heard that we needed to visit the Desert Bar. This is a bar that is literally off the grid and totally self-contained – no power and no water.
Getting there was almost half the fun. The road was all gravel and dirt and definitely not maintained. Four wheelers and bikes were passing us as we took our time. Close to five miles later, we arrived at this incredible place.
When it opened back in 1983, it was a small shack with an outhouse. It has grown quite a bit since and is certainly a fun weekend hangout. Today, they have water tanks in the property, which are filled with a firetruck they purchased for that purpose, along with solar panels. There is live entertainment and relatively inexpensive alcohol and food. It is a cash only business and it is packed every weekend they are open. John did not visit the boys’ room so I can’t report on that, but I certainly had to make my obligatory visit. The ladies’ restroom is built against a boulder. The boulder serves as the back wall of the stalls and the separating walls are steel slats. The stall’s door was really heavy and after looking at it closer, I realized it was a box car door. Even more interesting was the way I had to flush the tank. There is a huge water tank above the restroom needed to flush the tanks and provide water to the sinks. Next to the toilet was a 4″ PVC pipe coming down from the ceiling. Perpendicular to that, above the tank was a 1″ pvc pipe that had a valve. There was writing on the pipe “fill to flush”. So once I was done, I opened the valve, and water slowly began to fill the toilet tank. When I thought there was enough water in the tank to allow for a decent flush, I then had to lift the flapper and voilà, it flushed! There were no handles or buttons to push. Thank goodness I’m married to a plumber and had a vague clue as to the inners of a toilet tank. There was no wall over the sinks, so while I washed my hands I had a beautiful view.
It was time for the RV to get repaired and after leaving it in the collision shop, we drove to Las Vegas for a few days with a small mission in mind. Once the mission was fulfilled, we returned and now…
Upon our arrival at Lake Havasu City, we ordered brand new H rated Goodyear tires and had them installed on the RV. Ours were only 4 years old, but after having experienced a blowout we were not going to take any chances. We left the RV at the collision shop in Lake Havasu, knowing it would undergo cosmetic surgery and that the doctor had previously ordered all the botox it needed, we left for Las Vegas for a few days and bordered Jackson at Camp Bow Wow.
We have been to Las Vegas in the past many times over the years and had always stayed in the strip. This time we opted for different and decided to stay downtown and the GPS took us through the strip. Aside from it being crowded and the traffic being just awful, it is always amazing to see the magnitude of these hotels. On the bright side, it is awesome to see how much the town continues to grow and how many new hotels are being built.
We reconnected with old-time friends, Kathy and Chuck England. John worked with Chuck at the United Association and they have lived in Las Vegas all their lives. It had been ages since we had seen them.
On our first night, we walked up and down Freemont Street where nightly street performers do their thing hoping for tips. Another sight was that of older men wearing nothing but boas and thongs standing idly by. Suffice it to say that the images were worse than those of the less than presentable homemade full body paint jobs done for Fantasy Fest in Key West. The main stage offers live band entertainment all while screaming patrons zip lined above our heads. It was also quite fitting that the sign read “We Come to… Las Vegas”.
A few blocks away was Container Park. An interesting shopping mall entirely built using shipping containers, each of which is a different venue, ranging from shops to eateries and everything in between. In its courtyard was a huge children’s playground with more slides than I could count and a small amphitheater. At the entrance was a huge steel praying mantis where people gather to watch it emitting fire from its antennas every so often.
We wanted to see Vegas from the Stratosphere and on our way we stopped at “the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop”, which was interesting to see and for fun, we met Rick’s life size cardboard. People are allowed to come in just to look around and it was like a revolving door.
We learned that the Stratosphere tower is 1,149′ tall and claims to be the tallest building in the western hemisphere. We were fortunate to have a very clear day and the views from the observation deck were amazing. I did not realize how large a city Las Vegas is.
We drove with Kathy and Chuck to Death Valley National Park. The road to Death Valley reminded me of Texas in a way. It was a long drive with not much to see along the way, except for a few establishments of ill repute here and there. It’s pretty sad that people actually travel for hours just to get a little lovin’ and then who knows what kind of souvenir they take back.
We arrived at Death Valley National Park around 10:00 a.m. and already the temperature had reached 100°. Thank goodness for air conditioned vehicles.
We had to pick and choose which scenic points to visit as this park is the largest of the national parks outside of Alaska. We knew that the road to Scotty’s Castle was closed so that narrowed our options and we were saddened to learn that Dante’s View was closed the day we visited.
One of the lookouts is Zabriskie Point
In the middle of the park is The Oasis at Death Valley which used to be called Furnace Creek Resort.
The Oasis was absolutely beautiful and the surroundings were surreal. I could not get over the thought that this was in the middle of the such a dry and hot desert and that it was not a mirage.
We had lunch at the golf course grill and it was a lovely place. The greens were nice and it was so peaceful with the mountains as a back drop.
Badwater Basin is the lowest elevation in the western hemisphere. It is 282′ below sea level. As we walked on the basin, it felt odd and spongy. It makes for a truly unique experience as you can see them for as far as the eye can see, about 200 square miles.
Note the sign posted on all trails – hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
The crust is relative thin and there is mud underneath, which is why vehicles are not allowed on it.
Walking back to the car, someone pointed to a sign that read sea level.
I circled the sign so you can get an idea of how small it looked from the ground.
And then, there are the Mesquite Sand Flats
The highest dune is only about 100′ although they cover a vast area. Does anyone out there know how sand dunes are formed?
It was time to return to Las Vegas and then the following day, return to Lake Havasu. The RV was ready and it looked really well. We are now ready to travel!
Before leaving Lake Havasu, we visited Joshua Tree National Park. The drive was only a little over 2 hours and it was very peaceful. We drove over the Parker Dam into California and had to stop at a border checkpoint. In our six years of traveling, this was the first mandatory checkpoint we have ever encountered. The agents stop everyone driving from Arizona to California but not the other way. Surely they are looking for something, but for all they know we could have had whatever they were looking for, as they neither looked nor asked, the agent just said hello and waved us through.
We drove and drove through large swaths of uninhabited land. No longer did we see cacti but instead, lots of dirt and tiny bushes, which I recently learned were mesquite and creosote. We reached the very small towns of Twenty Nine Palms and Joshua Tree, both of which border the park. For logistical purposes we entered via the westernmost town, Joshua Tree.
Not much compares to the beauty and majesty of the Grand Canyon, but this park can hold its own. Joshua Tree National Park sits where the Mojave and Colorado deserts converge. The boundaries are not firm, but they rather overlap.
The main road lead us to the famous Joshua trees, which are actually not trees at all but a species of yucca.
After seeing acres and acres of Joshuas we came across what I would describe as a field of jumbo boulders haphazardly stacked as if just thrown about. These boulders protruded the earth eons of years ago as a result of volcanic activity. It is however, a rock climber’s paradise.
Midway through at an elevation of 5185 feet is Keys View where we had the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful view of the valley, mountain and desert. You probably wondered what is wrong with this picture? Well, the picture is fine, it’s actually haze and caused by pollution.
As we continued our drive, we ventured into the Pinto Basin in the Colorado desert portion of the park and the landscape gradually began to change. We came across the Cholla Cactus Garden. The Cholla cactus is also known as jumping cholla because it has a tendency to jump and attach itself to those being inattentive and yes, their needles do hurt. Back in Florida during one of our stays at Jonathan Dickinson State Park, chasing after Jackson who was chasing a rabbit, I was apparently being inattentive and the chollas got me and it was not fun. So bearing that in mind, I stayed really close to the trail.
Right before we were left the park, out of nowhere we encountered an Ocotillo patch. Ocotillos are very tall, long stemmed looking plants, not quite a cactus, whose red blooms can be seen after rain, usually in the Spring. We were here just in time! Yay!
Although the views in this park were drastically different from our most recent adventures, it was quite a place to see.
We intend to visit as many National Parks as possible this summer so you are welcome to travel along vicariously with us through our experiences.
It is almost time to begin our summer trip and the RV still had to undergo some plastic surgery. Remember the blowout we had on our way to Arizona? Well, it was high time to get it fixed.
Upon our arrival at Palm Creek, we had met with the owner of a local collision repair shop, which came highly recommended and he provided an estimate for the repair. We filed a claim with the insurance company and once we received payment, we gave it to him so he could order the necessary parts. Through out our stay in Palm Creek I can’t tell how many times we confirmed and reconfirmed when we would be dropping the RV off and on the day we arrived, he had no clue that we were coming in. We had already planned a trip around Northern Arizona to give him time to perform the repairs and he did say he would have the job done by then.
We boarded Jackson at Phoenix’s Camp Bow Wow and began our trip to visit the Grand Canyon. We were both excited as we had never stayed in a National Park’s lodge. We were warned that it might be cold and windy in that elevation so we went totally prepared.
We spent the night in Prescott, a lovely mountain town and rightfully so. Downtown’s historic Whiskey Row, known for its bars and live music would have been a fun place for alcohol research, but again we were on a different mission. As for the weather, you could definitely tell we were in a higher elevation.
The following morning we continued our trip and had to got through Williams, a Route 66 town known as The Gateway to the Grand Canyon. Williams has an elevation of 6,770 and you could definitely smell the mountain air.
Upon our arrival at Grand Canyon National Park, we checked in to the Thunderbird Lodge, which sits right on the south rim of the canyon. Our room reminded me of a renovated old college dorm, but its redeeming quality is that it is right on the edge of the south rim, right in the center of the village so geographically desirable. Originally, we had made reservations for two nights at Maswik Lodge, about a 1/4 mile walk from the rim, and when we attempted, at the last minute, to extend our stay on the front end, Thunderbird was the only lodge with available accommodations, so we were excited nevertheless.
We followed the recommendations of many to make sure we made the much sought after dinner reservations at El Tovar. At least a month prior to our arrival this was secured, as we learned that walk-ins would not accepted. The hotel itself was built in 1905 from local limestone and Oregon pine, as a cross between a Swiss chalet and a Norwegian villa, the views from the dining room were spectacular and we lucked out by getting a table with a beautiful view of the south rim. The meal itself did not disappoint either.
As anticipated, the majestic views of the Grand Canyon left us in awe. We had been there before but it is beautiful each time. Parking was incredibly difficult to find and when we agreed not to move the truck until it was time to leave. The park itself was amazing and the free shuttle transportation provided was very well organized and easily accessible to everywhere you might want to venture. Even though it was the beginning of April, it was already busy and the summer months are yet to come.
We heard on the news that the week prior to our arrival someone had plummeted in the canyon and then the week we were there yet another person met the same fate. This was not shocking as in front of us, people, both adults and children climbed through the metal railings to have their pictures taken. The wind picks up at that elevation and all it would take is for a gust to come along or to misstep on a rock and bye, bye baby. The rule of thumb is to not get closer than the length of your body to the edge. Hence the reason for the placement of the railings and danger signs posted everywhere.
When it was time to leave the Grand Canyon, we decided at the last minute to visit Page, Arizona. We had always wanted to see both the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons. The local Navajo people’s name for the Upper Antelope is Tse’bihanilini, which means “the place where the water runs through rocks”. The name for the Lower Antelope is Hasdeztwazi or spiral rock arches. The reason they are called Antelope canyons is because many years back pronghorn antelope roamed the area, thus the English name. These canyons were created over many thousands of years by the relentless forces of water and wind which continuously carve and sculpt the sandstone into what we see today. As the sun moves across the sky, the sun beams filter through the stone walls, and the angles bounce light back and forth creating the beautiful color, light and shadows.
Lower Antelope Canyon: You are guided through many narrow, steep steps throughout the canyon.
Upper Antelope Canyon: You are driven to the entrance and much easier to navigate and explore. Additionally, we were so excited to be able to catch the sunbeams at perfect time.
Prior to leaving Page we wanted to visit Horseshoe Bend, so we opted for a short helicopter ride for an aerial view of Horseshoe and Lake Powell. We were the only passengers and it was really cool as we sat next to the pilot and had the entire front window to ourselves.
The following day we tossed a coin between either going to Sedona or Winslow. Sedona won out so I booked a hotel room at Los Abregados for a few days. We contacted Palm Creek friends, Gina and Mike Wimmenauer (pronounced “Women Are”) who happened to be staying in nearby Camp Verde. We met for dinner in downtown Sedona and are excited to again see them this coming winter in Florida. We were in Sedona over 20 years ago and it has grown tremendously. We took a pink jeep tour back then and loved it so we wanted to take another one, just not as extreme, so our tour took us on an off-road adventure through the red rocks of the Coconino National Forest.
It was time for us to return, as we had only packed a week’s worth of food for Jackson and then pick up the RV. We had a magnificent week and looked forward to continuing toward Lake Havasu until we attempted pick up the RV. The owner of the collision shop was not in and would you believe, the RV was untouched. The owner claimed he had forgotten to order a part and that it had yet to come it. Blah, blah, blah, blame this one or that one, bottom line, he refunded our money and we were glad to just move on.