Sunday, January 19, 2014

Autumn finally gets her Tahoe!

Autumn has had a thing for Chevrolet Tahoes ever since one of our friends had one up for sale a few years ago. However, she doubted that she'd be comfortable operating a full-sized vehicle. With her current car showing its age, along with a growing family, we've been keeping an eye out on something that would fit her needs. The GMC Acadia seemed like a good option, but she decided on this 2011 Ice Blue Tahoe LT Vortec 5.3L Auto SPI Flex Fuel Iron Block with 76K on the clock and 3 year/30K warranty. 

It seats 8 with three rows of seating, has a great towing package, bluetooth, mp3, and a bunch of other bells and whistles. While I would have preferred something with 4WD or even AWD, I think we'll still get around okay on dirt roads and trips out to the river with it. I think the last Chevrolet in my family was my father's 1977 Silverado pickup. We're looking forward to getting years of enjoyment out of this vehicle. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Jamul Kiln Ruins

Hidden among some low grassy hills in San Diego County are the ruins of the Jamul Kiln, or Jamul Cement Works. I learned of this site while researching interesting and historic places to hike to around San Diego.

"A little more than twenty miles southeast of San Diego, within the boundaries of the Mexican land grant Rancho Jamul, a curious and substantial masonry structure stands isolated at the foot of a low hill. The structure houses two octagonal kilns, a brick smokestack rising more than thirty feet above them. Limestone and clay from a deposit on the hill behind were once burned in these kilns by the Jamul Portland Cement Manufacturing Company, an enterprise created during the boom of the 1880s." 

The Jamul Cement Works soon after its abandonment. The trolley tracks to the limestone deposit on the hill are directly behind it. The masonry kilns occupy the center behind the lumber shell. The buildings on the right house the boiler room, the brick machine, the grinding apparatus and the workers' living quarters. To the left are the five pot kilns.

I'm always up for an adventure in the wilds so when I first learned of these ruins I knew I had to find them for myself. After a little internet research and consulting my maps, I found the site within a few minutes. So after making arrangements with my friend Steve and his girlfriend Tammy, we were headed out towards Jamul on a Sunday afternoon.

Passing some relatively modern pipes and industrial materials. We knew these came from the ocean since they had barnacles attached to them.

Our first sighting of the ruins. Construction of the cement plant began in April of 1890. The kilns were fired up in March of 1891.

 The organizers of the Jamul Cement Works had hoped to eventually produce 1000 barrels (200 tons) of cement per day, but the daily capacity of the plant was reportedly 150 barrels. A crucial spur to the nearest railroad  was not built, and it cost about as much to haul cement by wagon the dozen or so miles to the railroad at Sweetwater Valley as it did to ship it around the Horn to the Bay. Labor costs were also high. 

The building boom in Southern California had subsided, and the nation as a whole was headed towards the Panic of 1893. Any financial support for the improvement of the Jamul Cement Works dried up.

By 1906 most of the plant was dismantled. By this time, the California Portland Cement Company at Colton and other large plants were in production, and the Jamul deposit was not only too small to be profitably developed but still lacked a railroad spur. 

Although cracks have developed and firebricks are missing from the linings, the kilns have stood largely undisturbed since 1891. Because of their primitive design they might prove to be the only ones of their kind still standing in the United States.

Click here to see a photo of the kiln from 1918. San Diego History Center

Making our way back to the trail head.

This is an awesome site. The large brick ruins are graffiti-free and seemingly untouched by modern man. As for sharing directions to this site, my thoughts are in line with those of The Last Adventurer, who also posted a great write-up on his search and discovery of these ruins. Here is a partial quote from his blog:

 "...after finding it, and after spending some time at it, I felt like I would be doing the site – and its history a disservice if I was to post directions to it. While I know it’s not my job to be the gatekeeper for this – or any site, I do feel strongly, as I did about the Blue Sun Cave, that I do have a responsibility to protect these areas for future generations and explorers. I feel like I would be remiss if I blindly posted directions to these sensitive sites; and I feel like I would be further remiss if I allowed intentional – or accidental harm to come to these sites." -THE LAST ADVENTURER

Click here for his blog post.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

San Diego International Auto Show

For New Year's Day 2014, my family and I decided to check out the San Diego International Auto Show, at the convention center downtown. Running from January 1, 2014 through Sunday, January 5, 2014, the show features over 400 2014 model-year vehicles. 

With our 2004 PT Cruiser on its last legs... or, wheels... it was a good opportunity to see what kind of vehicle would best suit our family and a daily driver for my wife. With our daughter and another one on the way, as well as the habit we have of taking other family members along on trips we figured that a vehicle with 3rd row seating would best fit out needs. Ample cargo capacity would be another deciding factor. Unfortunately, these requirements would disqualify most Jeeps. While I like the Patriot and Cherokee models, my wife couldn't see them meeting her needs. The rigs she had in mind before going in was the Ford Explorer and the Hyundai Santa Fe, but we ended up finding something better. More on that below.

For more info click here:

"The San Diego International Auto Show features the widest variety of new vehicles under one roof, featuring over 400 vehicles from 36 global manufacturers. The 2014 model-year vehicles showcase the newest levels of technology that enhance the driving experience, packaged in luxurious interiors and wrapped in cutting edge designs.

When not captivated by the cars, show visitors can participate in exciting, fun new features, family entertainment, and interactive activities. This year’s show will have 15,000 square feet dedicated to the Exotics Vault with vehicles from manufacturers like Bentley, Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus and more."

Waiting for the trolley. 

Arriving in downtown San Diego.

Ford Mustang GT

Ford Fiesta

Ford Explorer

Ford Expedition

Ford F-150

Honda Pilot

Hyundai Santa Fe

GMC Acadia

GMC Terrain Denali


Looks like them Duke boys are in a heap of trouble again!

Getting ideas for my old YJ...

Jeep Patriot

2014 Jeep Cherokee

2014 Ford Shelby GT500 

Of all the vehicles, it seems that the GMC Acadia would best suit our needs. Plenty of cargo space and 3rd row seating. I could see ourselves in an AWD model, loaded up and headed out to the river or along some mild trails in Anza-Borrego.

SDPD was standing by in case anyone tried to make off with one of the test drive vehicles.

With only one day off work in the middle of the week for New Years, it was an enjoyable way to spend the day with my family.