Sunday, May 29, 2016

Reminiscing Canada

It's been two years since we were in Canada.   We left on April 16th, 2014.  By May 29th we had visited the southwest and northwest U.S. rving with my sister in Nevada and my brother in Idado (we we met in Oregon).

By the time we hit the Canadian border I couldn't believe we had been on the road for over a month.  We then headed to Vancouver Island to visit Norma and Croft and we had some of the best seafood.  We met Brooks and Linda, had lots of conversations and happy hours were great. 

Heading east we made our way through British Columbia and on this day we landed in Lytton.  A small First Nation's town where people met us with open arms.  We were headed to a free campsite up in the mountains we hit a sign that said, "no trespassing, First Nation's".  Not wanting to get into trouble we headed back and stopped at the local gas station.  We met a woman who told us to head on up and not worry.   We have since become great Facebook friends.   

This spot, Lake Botanie, was one of the many highlights of our trip.  Truly isolated, we saw only three people in two days.   Dirt road, no services not even an outhouse.   The weather, the isolation, the quiet, it was really something for us.   I do have to go back to our spot at the Grand Canyon where we stayed on forest service land, that was another great spot.  I need to stop here, if I don't I might as well copy/paste the blog from the whole trip!

Last night after attending a folkloric dance festival,  I set up the rv and we had happy hour there talking about our summer plans.  The rv is in good shape.   I want to do some caulking around the running lights and check the roof lines and vents.  There are lots of things I would like to do but I'm not good in the being handy department and here in Mexico it's hard to find people who are in the know.  A quick example:

I wanted to have the bearing checked and greased and a review of the trailer brakes.  I made an appointment with our local mechanic and he made arrangements for me to leave the trailer early in the morning to avoid traffic.   Tuesday is the best day because the local merchants shutter their shops so there is no traffic or trucks on our road.  I hooked up the night before and pulled out at 5:30 in the morning so I could still make it to the gym.  I went about my business and after school I drove by (it was 12:30).  Nothing had been done and he told me he had too much work.  What?  Then he began with the questions.   Is there a computer for the electric brakes?  Where is it located?   

Then I realized he didn't know what electric brakes were and having too much work was his excuse for not touching it.   I decided to thank him and that I would make another appointment.  I won't.   I'll look for someone else, probably a trailer company in Allende who understands.  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Summer Spot - Looks Like We Have a Winnerf

On our way home from Mazatlan we passed a small town called La Ciudad, Durango.  The restaurant we ate at (really it was someone's house) was right next to the road to "Mexiquillo, Durango".  As you can tell by the pics its mostly mountainous and lots of waterfalls.  The best part is the weather.  For the month of May the highs are 24C and the lows 8C.  I like having the electric blanket on at night and waking up to the cool, crisp mountain air. 

I have two to three months so I have a plan.  We want to be in Zacatecas for a week-long folkloric dance festival and then go to Mexiquillo.   That will be about two weeks.  After, I'll spend some time in San Miguel de Allende and in August work my way up to Peña de Bernal and then on to Ciudad Valle in San Luis Potosi.   After that, I'll slowly make my way back home in time for school or really, in my case, traveling for teacher training in various parts of the country.

While I was in Mexico City this last week I was asked to attend a meeting of directors from seven South American countries.  They are all interested in having me work with them this next year.  Of course my answer was yes!  I had the opportunity with McGraw Hill back in 2003-2004 and took advantage of it except for a visit to Machu Pichu.  Not a mistake, but an opportunity missed.   It will always be there and hopefully if I am invited, I can take advantage of it. 

As for travel in Mexico, I was also in Merida where I opened a regional convention with my talk on Electracy.   The weather sucks.  It was 37C and the humidity was 95% so that's why it has been hard to want to accept travel anywhere other than SMA and Valle de Juarez.  This looks like it might work though.  

I'll post pics of my work in Merida later this week for those interested as well as my family.  Looks like my oldest sister is visiting the blog now.  

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Not Even One Bite

I posted on "On The Road In" Facebook page this week looking for a place to stay in Mexico or even do some housesitting/ rv park sitting or light maintenance for the summer.  Not even a suggestion.  Les sent me the link to Trusted House Sitters but that didn't look too inviting.  Most are people with picky pets and they want you to be there all the time.   I want a place to take the rv and spend a couple of months.  Looks like it will be the old stomping grounds we enjoy the most; Valle de Juarez or San Miguel de Allende.   I guess we could split up the time between the two.

I've been working like a dog this last two weeks writing my talks for my trip this week to Mexico City and Merida.   My research has taken me about four months and it all falls into the same category.  How to get students and teachers alike involved in the use of technology in the classroom.  People are addicted to their screens, not to the internet.  Interestingly enough, the same happened to television.  

Up until 1961 there was mostly garbage on tv.  Then someone said it was time to find space for something with more substance and educational shows started to appear.  We are there with the internet.  Facebook is filled mostly with silly videos and stuff someone else has made up.  Austin Powers parody in one of his movies showing the video of a monkey scratching his behind sums it up.

That's pretty much where kids are today (and parents) with the internet.  It just happens to be the world's largest library at your finger tips.  Anyway, I could go on but we are trying to find a way to educate today's youth about the use of internet for educational purposes as well as entertainment.  Teachers shy from using technology in the classroom for lack of skills in technology.   We are after all, 16 years into the 21st century and the "life skills" we are supposed to have brought on board since then.  

There is a great documentary based on extensive research that has recently come out and here is the trailer:

Sunday, May 8, 2016

That Frackin' Texas

Friday was a school holiday so we took off for San Antonio.  The main reason was to check the damage done by the big hail storm three weeks ago.   Golf ball size hail damaged many homes in our neighborhood from asbestos siding, roof damage, broken windows and cars of which many were totaled.   Our tenants reported broken windows but my concern was the roof.  It's getting up there in years and near the end of its life but I want to get as much out of it as possible.

The border process, being a holiday weekend, took three hours from waiting to cross the bridge to getting visa permits.   The bridges were packed and there were no exceptions.  We arrived Friday around 4 p.m. and took a nap at the hotel before visiting our neighbors.

Saturday got me up on the roof.   The shingles are pitted but I think we can go at least three more years.  The shingles themselves are in good condition except for the pits.  Of course, the contractors are in cahoots with the insurance companies and about 30% of all the houses in the neighborhood have roofing materials already set up in the driveways and contractor signs in the yard.  I plan on getting a couple of non-contractor estimates just to see what they say.  Our neighbor and friend got an estimate of $11,000.  Yep, removing two layers of roofing and taking it down to the wood.  Only costs neighbor the deductible but man, what a business.

Checked out the rest of our house inside and out and all is good.  I want to install an electric  garage door opener and new shower doors.  I mentioned my kitchen cabinet project before that I may take on this summer if I don't find anything else interesting to do.

On the way home we stopped in Big Wells, Tx.  The oil boom is now oil bust.   Seven huge big name hotel chains opened for business three years ago.  Their parking lots now sit empty along with small businesses that opened to service the industry.   If you remember, I talked about this two years ago and the fact that these quiet small Texas towns had been invaded by drugs, prostitution, crime and corruption.  Now without work and jobs, the situation is getting worse.

By chance there was a 60 Minutes special on tonight about fracking and the earthquakes in Oklahoma.  Big oil still won't accept the damage they have caused.  A place that had no recorded history of earthquakes and registered 907 earthquakes last year and 36 of them being over a 5.0.  Shameful.  However, everyone in these towns wanted the big money that was promised and now this is what they are left with.  Holding the bag.  Sad, so very sad.

Monday, May 2, 2016

I'm A Lousy Blogger

A bit tongue in cheek but I haven't been posting much.  I mean the blog name says it all and I don't see much happening.   Some people travel in the winter and work in the summer.  For us it's the reverse.  This year I have from June 30th to September 1st.  We'll be heading to a folkloric dance festival in Zacatecas the first week of July and after that probably the sierra in Jalisco.   I may put some feelers out on Bill and Dot's Facebook page for a house sitting job or a cheap place to park the rv.  I go out to the rv almost everyday to check things out.   The batteries and the solar are just incredible.   I sit there sometimes thinking of all the places we've been and where we will go.  Every trip is a new adventure.

The last couple of months we have had a nightly visitor who has been cleaning out the cat food dish.  We caught him on camera several times and I had look for a tlacuachero or a possum trap.  But this wasn't a possum.   A beautiful cat that has been living on the empty lot next door.   Some distant cousin of our cat Little Bit based on his size, markings and color.   They never played together but would observe each other.

Well, last week I heard someone in the food dish but with a ferocious appetite.   I tiptoed out to the living room and there it was.  I ran for the front door and then for the patio door closing this baby in.  He literally destroyed the mini-blinds in the studio.  He scaled the windows, screens and blinds.   We were in a panic.   We grabbed a rope, made a noose and slipped it around its neck.  We turned the cat carrier on its end and dropped him in.  

The next day he was off to the vet to be cleaned, fixed and ready for adoption.   It took only three days before someone was looking for a cat to hunt mice in his ranch house.   This guy fit the bill!  We are happy to have fixed another one.   

Then on Sunday, I went to buy the newspaper and I was met by a beautiful Irish Setter mix.  She was starving.  I bought her some cinnamon rolls and she scarfed those down.  I'm looking for her now and hope to rescue her.  She is a real charm.  She may have moved on though.

This Friday is a holiday and we will be going to San Antonio on Thursday afternoon.  A major hailstorm passed through the area about 10 days ago.   Our house, along with all of the neigbors, sustained damage.   We'll see when we get there.

I'll be back on the road the 17th of May heading to Mexico City for two days and then to Merida where I will be the plenary speaker at a convention.  Have you heard of Electracy?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

What A Bargain!

Sunday morning and we decided to go out for tacos and a stop by Home Depot to look at some things and get ideas.  This afternoon I'm going to Mexico City but I'll return tomorrow in time for happy hour.  I didn't want to stay out too long this morning so I could prepare my things and pack.  

Arrived to Home Depot and they were having a clearance sale.   Can you imagine the surprised look on my face when I saw a new Weber Q with all the instructions and complete (sans box) for $88 dollars?   I sure couldn't.   Unbelievable when just yesterday they had the larger one at HEB for 9000 pesos.  Yikes.  

Now we have one for home and one for trips.   I just need to find a place under the bed to store it in the trailer. 

We also got a nice fountain for the front yard for half price and three small appliances for $289 pesos; a sandwich machine, a toaster, and a coffee maker. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Matamoros to Reynosa and Home

I think we have recovered from our trip to San Miguel de Allende with Norma and Croft.  They had it tough because after a week of partying they had to drive back to Arizona.  I hope they had a good time because I know we did.  One of our best trips and it wasn't in an rv.   Now that's weird!  Renting is a good option if your not a full timer.  I guess it depends on how much of a rig you buy and good the gas mileage is.  The drive back and forth was a blast.  I know I'm retelling the story but it was a good one.

Back to work and on the road.   No sooner did I get back to work and I worked in two different schools in the RGV.   Amazing, the state of Texas is one giant corruption pit.  More police, city officials, mayors, etc.  all caught up in the drug business, casino corruption and it's not just with Mexicans.  One case the whole city counsel is in jail since last month for corruption with Vietnamese.  This S@#$ makes me laugh.   

Went to school on Wednesday and Thursday and some major changes are taking place.  I've worked at it for almost three years now and things are starting to happen.  I think I have one more year there and then it's time to move on.  I found another school that needs some restructuring so I am putting together a proposal to present next month.

Thursday afternoon I went for a trip to Matamoros.  I know you're thinking, Yikes!!!  I rode with the representative and his boss insisted we drive to Laredo and then cut across to Brownsville.  I said no way to that.  We crossed at McAllen and over to Brownsville and then took the bridge to Matamoros.   Spent a difficult night there.  I've got some kind of bug and I want to not say it's Dengue.  But the signs are pretty obvious.   

We stayed at the Holiday Inn and I had  a nice room.  The rep didn't want to pay for two rooms and I had to tell him that I don't share rooms.  Too old for that.   Only problem was, when I went to bed one of the black out curtains was missing.   This is a big problem in hotels.  People think because they are staying just one night they don't report issues and all of a sudden the room is a disaster.   So I did what any good Mexican would do.  I had to find a way to tie the inner and outer curtain together.  Hey, it worked!

Visited a huge private school that has kindergarten to university with over 1000 students.   Nice people and a great time spent with them.  On the way home I said to the rep, "Let's not be silly."  We took Hwy 2 from Matamoros to Reynosa on the Mexican side.  What a wonderful highway, smooth as silk and the countryside is in bloom.   I would recommend Brownsville/Matamoros to anyone.  It is a major port and they move people fast.

On a side note, we redid the yard.  We had the trees cut back and new grass put down.  14 cubic meters of dirt, 500 sq meters of grass and fertilizer.   The trees are in bloom and the grass has taken root.  Time for it's first cutting.   

Not sure what to do for summer yet.  I would like a job in the U.S. to add to my SS but if I don't I want to go to Valle de Juarez for two months.  I need to get some serious research and reading done.  Any ideas for a job?