Saturday, February 6, 2016

Clang! Clang! Clang! Goes the trolley...


Yep.  It is touristy.  Also, a great way to get an overview of a city.

Today, we took the Old Town Trolley Tour.  You pay one price and can get off and back on anywhere along the route.  It is narrated, so you get history and current info.  And, someone else is doing the driving, so you get to look around.


Buy your tickets online, and you can get on at any of the stops, and save a few bucks.  Easiest stop for us is the Ferry Landing on Coronado Island.  A view along the way...


We had a few minutes before the trolley was due; there was a Burger King close by, so we went in to get Joan a coffee and me a breakfast sandwich.  Turns out it was not just a typical Burger King - they have the distinction of being the World's Slowest Burger King.  I got the sandwich in time to wolf it down and get on the trolley...


If there were no stops or traffic, the ride would take about an hour and a half.  We talked about riding it all the way around, then deciding where we'd get off on the next round.  It is a scenic and interesting ride.  We drove across the Coronado Bridge, through the city, through Balboa Park (lots of museums and the world famous San Diego Zoo), then to Old Town, the original settlement area of San Diego.  Then, the plan changed: "Everyone off!  You'll have a few minutes before you can catch the next trolley."

We missed that one, walked around Old Town some, then got on the next trolley.  An interesting tour through Little Italy...


Then to the downtown area...


A cruise ship at the landing (above).  Some pretty views...


Then into the Gas Light Quarter.  We got off, had some lunch, walked around (getting very busy there for the Mardi Gras celebrations they're having this evening), made a small purchase at the Ghiradelli Store (they didn't have the container of "dots" that has been my favorite).  Back to the trolley stop, we had to wait for about 20 minutes for the next trolley.  Lots of people watching.  This made me chuckle...


An interesting way to get around: the SocialCycle... it is a mobile bar.  The people sitting at the bar pedal, like a bicycle.  The bar tender drives.  Great premise: you pay AND you provide the power!  ;-)


We got back on the trolley, did some more sight-seeing through the city, then headed back across the Coronado Bridge...




Back to the Ferry Landing parking lot, where we walked around for a while before getting back in our vehicle...


On the way home, we made a stop at MooTime Creamery, on Coronado Island...


Back to the coach so Iz could get some time outside.  The last rays of the day, looking down our street...


The bay is on the other side of those trees.


Friday, February 5, 2016

You want some cheese with that wine?


Really.  Wine.  Not: whine.

Joan saw a post on the RV park bulletin board about a farmers market being held at a winery.  She enjoys wineries.  And wine.  So, this morning, we were up and out early.  For disclosure, "early" for us is around 9:00am.

It took us less than 40 minutes to get there; the winery is in a residential area.  OK, I'm guessing the winery was here first.  Since it was a bit early to sample some wines, we first walked around the grounds and went through the farmers market...




Seems to be our MO: we are there early, ahead of the crowds.  Every person there with a booth was doing their best to "woo" us in.  It wasn't a huge farmers market, but they had plenty of interesting booths.

Since we passed on breakfast before leaving the motorhome, I was ready for some chow.  There is a very nice coffee shop/restaurant that is a permanent fixture at the winery.  I was expecting some kind of sprouts offerings, but they had fresh baked breads and outstanding breakfast sandwiches.  (I would go back to the winery again, just for breakfast.)  We sat at a table outside, enjoying the atmosphere and our meal.

Then, Joan was ready for some wine tasting.  There is a charge for the tasting - they give you a card, and encourage you to go out to the shops and the farmers market between tastings.  Each time you try another wine, they punch the card. 

By this time, more people were showing up.  There seemed to be an unusual amount of young mothers with babies and toddlers... perhaps they are in more need of wine?

Joan enjoyed shopping in an eclectic women's clothing shop... I held her wine while she tried on clothes.  Yes, she found something she couldn't resist.

Back to the wine...


More seating outside in a nice setting.

Joan had more on the agenda today.  She was originally thinking another winery, but decided that was enough of that today.  Also on the plan: a trip to a burger place in Escondido.  Yes, there are plenty of burger places closer, and we were still pretty full from breakfast... but, our son-in-law Dan had designed the sign and logo for a new place in Escondido... and, it was only about 10 miles away.  We decided to swing by and get a photo of the results of his design work...


I figured it was only proper to taste the wares, since it is "Burger Friday."  (an event that Steph and Dan have shared with us)  I'm happy to report the burger was mighty fine.  It is an "open" type restaurant - what looks like a large window in the photo above has folding panes that make it an open-air dining experience.  All kinds of beers.  Bowls of fries, rings, or nuggets.  And, yes, there is a bench along one wall (with tables) for seating.

The weather has warmed nicely, around 70ยบ today.  Izzy got some outdoor time when we got back.  The rest of our time here is supposed to be more of the same beautiful weather; the kind of weather that San Diego is known for.


Mugging for the camera...


My morning hot chocolate (not a coffee drinker) in my new Taylor mug...


:-)


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Taylor made...


We did pick up some apparel, but it was Taylor made, not tailor made.

A trip to the Taylor Guitar Factory today, to take the tour.  And, do a little shopping in their Taylorware Store.

Heading out from our site, a look at the rental car...


OK, it's a Nissan Frontier, a light truck.  Comfortable riding, it handled the various roads from Chula Vista (where the RV park is) to El Cajon (Taylor Factory).

We went there early, so we'd be able to shop in the store and try out some guitars in their display area before any crowd showed up...



I generally don't go into a music store to just "play"... but, that is why they have these guitars on display here at the factory.  That's a nice koa 12-string I'm playing - you aren't going to find that in most guitar shops.  Or a custom Builder's Reserve.  Or...


Another part of getting there early: there's a decent BBQ place not too far away.  We had a relaxing lunch before heading back to the factory for the tour.  On the way into the parking lot at the factory, we passed a school bus... "Oh, I wonder if they're here for the factory tour..."

Yep.  We were back a half hour before the tour start time; 5 minutes later, the high school kids on the bus came pouring in.  Not a problem because they are kids, it just made for a heck of a crowd for the tour...


Just glad I played all the guitars I wanted to before we went to lunch - the kids descended on the guitars... it was a cacophony of sound; you couldn't hear the tone of any particular guitar at that point.  On the bright side, some of the kids could play, so I'm assuming it was more than just a field trip to get out of class.  Judging by their shirts, it was some kind of an arts-centric high school.

On with the tour...



We started with a tour of the wood stored outside (in covered tents).  The wood scraps in the photo above make for some expensive firewood.  ;-)  Jonathon, the tour guide, talked about the various woods, where they come from, and how they are harvested.  Very interesting.  Heading inside...



More wood storage and guitar tops being cut out...


Necks being glued up...


Some people knock Taylor, saying the guitars "have no 'soul' because they are all built by machine."  Of course, that is a load of crap.  Taylor does use a lot of automation, including specially designed CNC machines and laser cutters.  All to eliminate variation in size and fit.  The photo below shows necks being shaped - this will insure that they all have that "Taylor neck" that so many guitar players prefer...



Here is one factory guy doing the inlay on the neck; yes, by hand...


Moving from one area to another, and a look back overview...


Inside the guitar, the bracing that is used makes a big difference in the sound...


There are templates used on the different models, but it is still put together by hand.

Putting the labels inside...


The side bending area...


The sides are shaped with the help of machines, again allowing consistency.

The binding adds some "bling" to the guitar...




One of my favorite bits on the 814 I have is the curly maple used for binding - it has a "glow" to it.  There are different materials used for bindings and inlays.

The finish on the guitars is applied by robot - more efficient, more consistent, and no one has to be exposed to the vapors.  There is another robotic that does the initial buffing, bringing out that gorgeous finish.  Some guitars just after the buffing...




Hand buffing for the final finish...


Installing the electronic pickups...


Final assembly and inspection...



Stringing them up, more testing and inspection...



Some say these guys have the best jobs in the factory: they get to play every guitar before it is ready to be shipped.

Part way through the tour, the guy who was in charge of the high school kids asked when the tour would be done, because, "We have to get going."

Jonathon handled it well, and planned an easy exit for them before the tour was actually finished.  Made me laugh when he said, "OK - you guys won't get the free guitar at the end of the tour."  (Yeah, that's a joke.)  With 25 fewer people, the last half of the tour made it a lot easier to get around.

They didn't have an 812ce 12-fret in their display area.  If I decide to "thin the herd," that will be the one guitar that can take the place of a couple others I currently have.  Probably just as well.  We did leave with some shirts, a new fleece jacket, a leather guitar strap, and a mug... all adorned with the Taylor logo.  No, they don't give those away, either.  We did get some new "coasters" free...


Those are the cut-outs for the sound hole on the guitars.  We were told that the factory is currently making about 250 guitars per day (they do have a higher production capacity) and are running two shifts.  Those cut-outs would be waste, but they make an interesting give-away.