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Mystery car! The driver had just given up on the trying to cover the vehicle with a fabric cover while he was parked. THAT would have attracted some attention.

I’ve seen these mysterious cars for years, coming and going along the highway just long enough to get a peek, but not a good look at what they are- I’ve never actually seen one up close because they have always been moving. You may have seen them too: usually black, odd shaped trim pieces on the hood, fenders and grille, obviously bad paint jobs and doo-hickeys attached in weird places.

This is what a doo-hickey looks like. Looked like they just stuck the lights on with 2 sided tape. It was all very.... mysterious! The windshield of the vehicle had an official sticker bearing the Mercedes name and logo.

On Friday, we were parked at the rest stop North of San Diego and spotted a man trying to throw a fabric cover over his vehicle, like he was waving a flag at us to look at what he was doing- so we obliged him. I hollered at Trevor to get his shoes on and follow me, not wanting to make contact alone, but we were gonna make contact! We sauntered across the lot as if we were just happening to walk by and the man was busy under the hood checking the oil with a clipboard sitting on the fender.  Several minutes prior he had abandoned the attempt to cover the vehicle, with a light breeze fighting him, he’d have just attracted more attention, and had tucked the cover into the rear hatch. He wasn’t a huge guy- although he could have been a Ninja killer with his wiry build- it was hard to judge in the few seconds we had to size him up. As we approached, I said to the man (to his back, actually since he was so engrossed) that it looked like he was working on something secret, and I asked if I could ask him about the car? No punches, just “Can I ask you about the car?” He looked at me very briefly and replied in a Ninja way- ‘I can’t talk about it’, then without a smirk, smile or other physical gesture, turned back to his clipboard and kept working.

The mannequins were officially decorated with bright red lips and a thin mustache. Looked like a woman with a mustache, and bald, and real pale, and not well dressed. Looked like lightweight plastic, milk jug style- what's the point? Carpool lane?

This is where I missed my opportunity to take a photo of the sacred engine… Trevor and I moved around to the rear, out of his way and sight and snapped a couple of shots closer in, peered in the windows at the lovingly decorated mannequins (comical eyes, nose line, lips and a thin mustache) and then went back up to the front as he dropped the hood to its driving position and jotted a few more things down. He then got right back in and started it up as we walked back to the bus to hide behind our tinted glass and gawk. Traffic was remarkably steady coming into the rest stop so it took him a while to back out. His license plates read Michigan- which is probably why he was so courteous and didn’t just push his way into traffic like the locals seem to do. Finally, he was off, and we reviewed the photos.

Mad Max, right?! Mercedes, you might want to really consider selling these to the people, make em think they were getting something special. As we drove along the highway, we thought that it most closely resembled a Lexus like Colin & Joel drove last summer....

Success! We’d spotted, inspected and taken our first spy photos. With some research, and finding other similar photos already online, we believe this is a Mercedes M class 2012 under heavy cover. As you can see, the body panels are built up with what looks like plastic panels adhered to the sides and painted matte black- along the sides and tires and glass. The front and rear hood grill and fenders are the most obscured, and the intent of this trip… ? We are assuming they are gathering road data, but probably not aerodynamic data (the panels add a rough surface), and probably not aesthetic appeal data. Although it looked cool and Mad Max-ey, they probably couldn’t sell it to the Mad Max crowd for what they could fetch from preppie lawyers that would prefer a new model Mercedes. I admit, we were timid, buuuut next time? Paparazzi style! We’re getting the shots! It’s public, we’re public, we have a camera! Next time.

Sunset with the Star of India in the background. It is the worlds oldest (1863) active ship that still sails each year... 

Don't know what the project was, but they were making movies. Neat old cars that were just perfect in front of the beautiful San Diego city building. Well dressed actors primped and strutted around waiting for the clapboard to snap together and start the action. We didn't stay for it- 3 had to pee, and it was getting cool enough to move us along.

We have arrived in San Diego and enjoy the family friendly feel of this city. WOW there’s 1.3 million folks living here, but it doesn’t feel too big city. We spent a couple of hours along the boardwalk and have enjoyed some parks, ran across a movie being filmed, watched a H U G E cruise ship set sail (the ship’s bellowing horn set me green with horn envy). We will be combining some surfing, home schooling and perhaps snorkeling into this stop.

The Bureau of Reclamation is adding sand to the beach via this 24" pipe from a dredging project. Looks like the pipe travels more than a mile, and occasionally you can hear a big rock or shell bouncing along inside the plastic pipe. They're working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

PS: Anya lost another tooth.