Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lake Amistad

Headed out of San Antonio around 8:45 this morning and headed straight for Hwy 90.   We pulled over in Castroville to visit a credit union branch to make a deposit and do a correction on an account.  Americans don't get the concept of a passport.   They refused to take my U.S. passport as and ID.  They said my Texas ID card was expired so they couldn't help me.  Finally, after some coaxing the teller said she would make an exception.  I mentioned to her that I could get a fake Texas ID or driver's license in a garage in San Antonio for $25 and she said, "well, that would work".   Oh brother.

We checked our emails at a McDonald's and had a senior coffee before taking off again.   The drive was easy and the road pretty good.   Here is a pic of a small wind farm.  In today's San  Antonio Express on the front page is a story about how wind farms are changing the economic face of Texas and helping to create jobs as well as cheaper energy.

As we were leaving Uvalde, dead ahead of us comes a helicopter.  No police or emergency vehicles but this chopper sat down just meters from the red light we were waiting at.   Pretty cool but a bit concerning not knowing what it was doing.

We arrived to Del Rio at 2:30 and filled up with gas.   What a deal, $3.45 a gallon, that was the best price we found on the way out of San Antonio.  We stopped by the local Walmart to check on wifi systems and also to pick up a new map.  Walmart Del Rio only carries a city map of San Antonio?  Why a city map of San Antonio I'll never know unless it is for the fact that this is a military town and servicemen are transferred to San Antonio and need a map to get around?

We got to the lake a little after and found our spot.  This one is $4 a night no hookups but is very, very quiet and only a few campers.  I guess that's because the drought has left the lake pretty empty.   Took a quiet nap on a wonderful Sealy Francis Plush mattress and now we are at the local McD's for email.   We are heading back for a hike before happy hour and sunset if the sun comes out.  As you can tell by the pic it is pretty much overcast but this afternoon the solar was pulling in 2.5 amps.  Very happy with everything so far.  We will stay here until Monday when we head out to Marfa, Tx to spend the night and see the Marfa lights.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mattress Day!

Yesterday was a productive day.  I got the painting done at the house and almost decided to stay for a few days and paint all the trim and eaves but that can wait.  Too much fun to be had this trip.  My friend and neighbor across the street is a carpenter and he helped me finish hanging the infamous cabinet door.  Done.  Today Jimmy is making a support for the back of the cabinet for the flat screen mount. 

Still needs two more coats of paint but it will do the job!

Today we are off to a place called Billie Bob's Mattress Warehouse.  We have been wanting to replace the mattress since we bought this travel trailer.   The rv mattress is flimsy and not like the mattress at home.   I have researched this to death including the new memory foam.   Walmart has a memory foam that you can order on line and have it delivered to the store nearest you.   The problem is, it takes up to three days to come to life.   I want to be able to try it out before we buy one so we will see what Billie Bob has to offer.

I have read tons of reviews about Billie Bob and many of them are terrible.  So why am I interested in seeing Billie Bob you might be wondering?   The reviews are all pretty much the same.  The service stinks and the employees are rude and uncaring.   However, in all the reviews they say they have the best mattress at the best price and would buy there again.  Funny, isn't it?  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Excellent Border Crossing At Laredo II

Took off at 7:30 this morning.  Pulled the trailer out of the drive without a hitch (actually the hitch works great now!).   Stopped for gas and to air up the tires and headed through Monterrey hitting a bit of morning traffic although light as school is out this week and next.

We headed for the libre.  Smooth as glass and I insist it is just as good if not better than the autopista.   Stopped in Sabinas Hidalgo and prepared breakfast with leftovers from the fridge at home.  Off we went again for the border arriving in Nuevo Laredo at noot.  Took us an hour to cross the bridge and the U.S. border agents were fantastic.  Funny and talkative, we had a woman at the booth and she talked up a storm.  Off Juan went for his permit and I headed for the X-ray machine.   Took twenty minutes for both and off we went to San Antonio.

Just had a nice dinner with friends and we are driveway camping at our neighbor's house.  

More tomorrow.  It was a great start and everything is working well.   The pins I installed for the hitch worked great and we never dropped a bar. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Last Sleep Before Launch!

We can't get any more ready than we are now.  Everything is packed, trailer loaded and hooked up.  All systems are go and it looks like tomorrow will be a breeze to the border except for the permit process.  What the heck, we're on the road!

So, you won't hear from me until tomorrow night sometime.   Early bird gets the worm.  First stop is San Antonio to see the accountant and do a touch up on the house, painting the fascia that was replaced last week.

Monday, April 14, 2014

We Need To Simplify

 First time in 13 years we have turned off the refrigerator.  This is the original fridge we bought when we moved in here. 

Getting ready for the trip today I cleaned out the refrigerator and got it packed with newspaper.  I washed linens and blankets and pulled up the rugs from the living room and the dining room.  They need to be vacuumed and the woman who is coming to clean doesn't know how to use a vacuum or to change the bag.  Too much to explain so they are in the bedrooms.

We had the gardener and his wife over tonight to give them their lists of duties and show them around the inside of the house.  I also decided to pay the electric and phone bill for the next four months just to avoid any problems via internet that we could have.   Done, no worries and no "OMG, I forgot" and life goes on without any problems.

What I did discover was that we have way too much stuff in both the house and the rv.   "I" could live out of a suitcase and a laptop bag.   Odds and ends, and leftover bags, containers, salt and peppers, soy sauce packets, triplicates of cookware, dishes, 1000 coffee mugs, clothes that are not used, well you get the idea and the list goes on.  

Tonight we had happy hour in the rv and went through all the cabinets eliminating and consolidating whatever we could.   We have decided to travel light including clothes.   This may be a lesson learned when we get back home the end of August.  

BTW,  many years ago I developed a system called, "My Life In A Box".   But that's another story!

Tomorrow is laundry, packing up the clothes we are taking and hitching up for take off on Wednesday morning.  I apologize for my mistake on dates.  For some reason I thought that Wednesday was April 15th.   That's when we are leaving for Laredo.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Couple More Sleeps

Yesterday was a fun day and a day off before gearing up for packing.  We went to a baptism for our friends who recently adopted a baby.   They are very good friends of ours and waited for almost two years to be approved only after classes and psychological, physical and financial evaluations.   If anyone deserves to be parents these guys do.

We spent the afternoon there not getting home until almost 9 o'clock.  Oh well, it was a fun day.  We started out at the church and then headed over to the quinta in Monterrey.   A beautiful place they rented and invited 100 guests.  We had snacks, drinks and then carne asada with all the trimmings.  The kids swam in the pool.  

I want to make a comment about the event.  All of our friends there, or at least the majority, are first generation graduates from the university.   Most of if not all of their parents didn't finish high school and worked in factory jobs, had a small business, market, etc.  back in the sixties and seventies.   Not rich by any means.   Their parents, now retired and on small pensions have to be proud of their kids.   All of these people worked and went to school, got a good job, a degree and now live very comfortable and productive lives.   So, I guess what I want to say is that it isn't all "woe is me, I'm a poor Mexican".  It's about making something out of your life.  Our friends are younger than we are, 30 to 45 years old.   They have worked hard to achieve what they have.   Mexico is on the move and truly growing.

Today, we went shopping for all the supplies we need to take with us and what we need to keep the house going while we're gone including cat food, chlorine and chemicals for the pool.   I picked up some of the hottest salsas I know of in Mexico for my BIL in Reno.   He loves that stuff!

We cleaned out the shed in the backyard, loaded some stuff in the rv, cleaned the bathrooms,  cleaned out the pantry and most importantly was to replace the pins on the weight distribution hitch.   No wonder I had to use hose clamps to keep the bars in place.  The lugs, or pins, were pretty much sheared off to nubs.  It's not like I can go out to the Eazlift hitch store in Monterrey and pick up a repair kit.  I ordered it online and had it shipped to our friends house in McAllen and I picked it up on Thursday.  You need four hands and a double set of reading glasses to get the job done and we did it.  The bars stay in place.  I'm not taking any chances and keeping the hose clamps in place.

Tomorrow we need to have the security company do some adjustments to our DVR and software, clean out the refrigerator and talk to the gardener and his wife about their lists of duties while we are gone.   

One small glitch.  In today's paper, people were complaining about the U.S. border agents.   The wait to get your permit is up to eight hours.   Everybody wants to travel to the U.S. to visit relatives and the people asking for permits say there has been no additional agents added, no overtime authorized, and most of all, no understanding on the part of the U.S. agents to speed up the process.  To bad we don't have a place to stay overnight in Nuevo Laredo.  We could go late afternoon and get up at three a.m. to get the permit.   We may cross the border and put up with the two hour crossing and then spend the night going back after midnight to get the permit before heading to San Antonio.

Now, a steak is on the grill and a cocktail in my hand.   I am ready to roll!  Viva Canada! or Oh Canada!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Let The Vacation Begin

Got home to Monterrey around 7 p.m. and had a cocktail waiting for me and it was well-deserved.  A great drive home through Mexico and there were 10 Federales, 4 military patrols, 2 state police, and one state helicopter overhead.  Interesting fact, last Semana Santa there were no crimes reported on Nuevo Leon highways.   Let's keep it that way.  BTW, I made the news again today in Monterrey.  As I was heading south of Monterrey heading home, there was a carambola (pile up), seven cars and traffic was at a standstill.  I called the news and reported it.   Five minutes later they called me back to verify the location.   20 minutes later they announced my name on the news and what I reported.   

Time to relax.  Tomorrow we have a baptism to go to and then starting Sunday packing up the trailer and tying up loose ends.  I'm ready and I bet you are too.   We plan on posting pics of our adventure.  I am receiving lots of good info via the blog, email and the forums about routes to take and places to stay in the U.S. and Canada.