Sunday, March 30, 2014

Last Rv Out, Close The Gate

We got up early this morning to see everyone off at Las Palmas.  I woke up at 5:30 as usual, got dressed and went looking for an OXXO to get some coffee.  Tight ass hotel doesn't have coffee service much less coffee maker in the room.   I knew we should have brought ours but I forgot.  I drove all over town in the dark, ended up in centro with not a place open or a person in sight.   I headed back towards the hotel on the main drag and turned to the opposite side of the highway across from the Soriana.   Way down the avenue I could see a lit yellow sign of some sort.   It had to be an OXXO.   Sure enough, as I got closer there was a Pemex and the convenience store. 

However, it was closed except for the little window in the door.   They don't open the store to customer walk-ins until 7 a.m.   No one was inside so I knocked with my key against the door frame and after a minute or two a guy came out of the back.   I asked him for two cups of coffee and he said there wasn't any.   I told him, "get crackin' mister" and he made a pot of coffee while I waited.   Don't hack me off without my first coffee.

Back I went and Juan was worried that something might have happened.   I thought what, I found a bakery and pigged out on pan dulce!  We got cleaned up and just as we headed out the door here come the rigs lining up at the back gate to get out.   We said our goodbyes and off they went.

We headed back to the room, watched the news from Monterrey and off we went.  Stopped for gas, looked for another hotel to use in the future.  Las Palmas is off our list.  New rv price is 346 pesos and the room was 800 pesos plus tax.   Way too much for even a rich guy.   Time to move on.

As we got on the highway just north of Matehuala we found a parador on the right that had a gas station.   The restaurant is closed on Sundays, they must be Orthodox.   Outside though was a great torta stand and we ordered two to go.   Had a great drive over the mountains between San Roberto and Linares and arrived home three and a half hours later.   That little VW Pointer of ours is fun to drive on the mountain roads.   All's well.  

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Surprise Trip To Matehuala

 Paula sent me a message last week about their trip north to the border.  Jerry, Paula, Sal, Barb, Heinz, Ulle, Peter and Madeleine were going to spend two nights in Matehuala and do a day trip to  Real de Catorce.   She wanted to know if we would be interested in driving down and spend a night to have happy hour and dinner.  Who could refuse. 

It wasn't a long enough visit but it sure was fun.  We plan on seeing them off in the morning (Sunday) and then we will head home before noon.   We had a beautiful drive over the mountains and will head back the same way.   Talked about our trip and got some great ideas.  I also posted on Rv.Net under the Canada forum and am receiving lots of information.  Looks like we should be taking six months instead of four to get across the country and then back home.

I'll try and get a pic of everyone heading out in the morning.  It was a blast!  Never enough.

Friday, March 28, 2014

We're Going To Canada!

Visa arrived today.  Multiply entries and good until 2019!!!!  Yippie!!!!!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Less Than Three Weeks

Still waiting on the visa and there is silence on the Canadian visa site.  We know they have the passport and it was received.   They have people who do nothing but this so I guess there are a lot of Mexicans wanting to visit Canada.   The wait goes on.

I was concerned about the cabinet door I had ordered for the trailer.  I went by several times and felt like I was being avoided.   After all, he told me it would be a few days and now it has been two weeks.   I found him today and he was happy to show me the door and that he has been working on it.  Whew!   He has a crew of five guys and they are building furniture for a new restaurant.   Next week he will come and do the install.

I want to design a banner or sticker to put on the back of the trailer that says "Great North American Tour" with the blog site on it.   We still have time to get it done. 

As you can see by the pics below, Spring has sprung and the place looks like summer around here.   We are planting grass seed and have had some great success.  We still need to get rid of some clover and I discovered why we were hit so hard by the plague.   We had dirt put down last fall and we left it up to the gardener to get the dirt.   He probably bought cheap and pocketed the money.  Good, because now he has been tasked with bringing the yard back up to snuff.   I hope it was worth it. 

Still working on the camera install for the house.  Way too many options. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Counting Down The Days

Not much to report around here other than counting down the days.  We're excited and waiting for the waybill to show up on the system showing that the visa is on its way.   

The worker did quite a bit on the pool and we hope to have it finished this weekend, rain pending.  I ordered the Passport America pass and downloaded the Walmart overnight listing and I've gone over the page finding it better than some of the others.   Jerry and Paula lent us their copy of the Canada version to get us through the country and then we'll return it when we meet up with them.

It has been raining off and on since I installed the fantastic fan and no water or moisture to be found so I guess I did a good job.  Hey, if a guy in a factory can do it so can I.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Chisel and A Hammer

There are some home projects that have been on the board for awhile and now it is time to get it done.  We had some cracks in the driveway to clean out and fill and then to get the pool cleaned, re-grouted, fix the trim edge around the pool and  install an LED.  We never use the light in the pool, 300 watts, too bright and attracts bugs.   We have a dimmer so with an LED we can leave it on all night if we want.

I went to the gym this morning and before that I bought a 20 liter jug of acid, wire brushes, and some other odds and ends.   By the time I got home, the workers had pretty much finished the driveway.  I gave them some styrofoam to smooth down some of the work.   

Yesterday I stopped by CostCo and looked at the security cameras.  I know nothing about this subject and had lots of questions.  Being CostCo there was no one there who knew jack anyway.   I got the website and will call tech support on Monday.   Here is my question anyway:

Do you connect the DVR directly to the internet router?  Curious because if you have it connected to a laptop and power goes out, no one is there to reboot it.   Hmm.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Gotta Love Mexico!

I spent most of yesterday downtown.  I had a list of things to look for.   First stop was a lighting specialty store.   I was looking for a small 5W bulb we use for the lanterns on the sides of the gates.  The carry LEDs, colored bulbs of all kinds and sizes.   No packaging, she opened a catalog drawer and pulled out the bulbs and put them in a tiny plastic bag.
Further down the road I stopped to get information on sending passports to Mexico City via couriers.  I had it all worked out and then Juan went by later and they said they couldn't do it.  I'll go back today and talk to the manager who I had originally spoken with.  Some confusion there but I'll get it straightened out.
Off towards downtown and all the one way streets.  Here I am siting at a light and car coming straight at me.  The guy next to me starts honking and going crazy.  Somebody made a mistake, but it's not the end of the world.  I've done it myself over the years.   Sitting at a parking meter going over my list I hear honking again.  Another person going the wrong way again but on another street.  I guess it is common here because most people aren't familiar with the streets in centro.
I made my first stop at the hule (rubber products, gaskets, washers, grommets, etc.) store.   They had something similar to what I want for the slideouts but not a match.   He whacked off a sample so I could check it out later.  Again, no packages, just rolls of rubber in all different sizes and shapes.  I drove around the corner to another hule store and it was pretty organized and the guy new what I wanted it for.   I didn't ask if he had an rv or knew of someone, but we do have a couple of used rv dealers here in town.   Again, not a perfect match and he cut off a chunk for me to go.  One last stop and I found another place.   Nothing at all, big disappointment but that stop led me to another place I had forgotten about.
Around the corner was a Steren store.  They specialize in all things electronic.  I was looking for a small 12V to 110 for the television and living room lamp in the trailer.   Bingo.   I brought it home but I think it uses too much juice.   I'm taking it to my local electronics guy here in town to have him check it out.  
I am looking for an inline water filter but all I have found so far are ones that remove sediment.   We something that removes more than that.   We don't want to risk drinking the water in Canada or the U.S.,  hahaha. 
It was fun driving around downtown, lots of old buildings, specialty shops and friendly people who don't know much about other but what they sell and in that they know a lot.   Beats the big box stores and their standard stock answer  "lo que esta alli, es todo lo que hay".   Whatever is on the shelf is all we carry. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Application Approved - Pending

We received confirmation last night that the Canada visa was approved.  The weird part is that you have to send your passport via FedX to the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City.  They will apply the visa to the passport and then FedX it back.  Of course you have to pay the shipping both ways.   Sounds risky to me but those are the rules.

The passport will be sent on Thursday.   So far it has been pretty fast so lets see if this works just as well.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Good News

As some of you can attest too, our road has been an issue of controversy ever since we have lived here.  Four administration and lots of promises or excuses why something can't be done.  Last year we had another change of administration, now the part is the PT.  From one day to the next they came and graded the road with a bulldozer but didn't put any type of gravel or material down.  The months go by and the rains come and the potholes return not to mention the mess it makes of the cars and the kids who walk to school.
In December, I began again.  The weeks went by and I kept showing up  as usual.  Then one day, the same person tells me I need a written petition in addition to the report I filed.   Oh brother.  So I wrote a petition and gathered a few signatures from those neighbors I could find.   I turned in the petition and the weeks went by.
I showed up again and this time I was ushered into the architect's office where he put the cards on the table.  No promises but hopes that they could at least level the road and put down gravel.  I thanked him and went on my way as always. 
You pretty much know my routine, up at 5 a.m., showered and off to the gym, return home and shower again to do my chores or visit a school.   This day was an exception and I stayed home from the gym and worked on a translation and some lesson plans for teachers.   I didn't shower and still had on my pajamas.  All of a sudden, there is a knock at the door.  Three men standing outside with cell phones, folders under their arms, the works.   Another, oh brother, now what did I do wrong.
They came from the city to express their disbelief in the condition of the road and that action was being taken.   They handed me the following letter that they sent off to the state water board:

Dear Sirs,
By way of this letter we send you a cordial hello and at the same time we are asking that you do a study at the following address.   We would like you to program maintenance on water lines and the extension of water and sewage drains on Camino Al Eden, this will be part of the public works project to pave the street with concrete as part of the program for 2014.
Arq. xxxxxxxxxxxx
Oh ye of little faith, I will still wait and see what happens.  They want me to stop by the office this week so we can program the grading which will do until the rest of the work is done.  The water board here works slowly and with us gone for four months nothing may happen.  But when we return, it will be full guns.  I can't let this golden opportunity slip out of my hands.  Could it be that after 13 years we may have city water service as well as a paved street?

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Funniest Place To Put It

Today by the way is a national holiday celebrating Benito Juarez a Mexican hero.   We had a list of things to do today and got them all done.   Except one.

I mentioned the other day that the water pump makes the famous banging sound.   I new its location and had found it before.  It is buried under the refrigerator behind the Suburban furnace and the converter.  The furnace is a PITA to put back in and the converter is a disarray of wires.   I chose the furnace and dug in to investigate.  It is on its rubber supports and well-attached to the floor.  We did several tests to look for banging pipes against walls or in this case banging hoses and found none.  It's a noisy pump.  I can't get to all four screws so I stuffed foam under the pump and to no avail.  It does seem to be a little less noisy so that will just have to do.  Doesn't really bother me much so not a big deal.

When we took off for San Antonio a week or so ago, I noticed one of the trailer tires was low.   We filled it and I kept my eye on it.  We had also purchased new tires at Discount in San Antonio for the SUV and before heading home we drove by and had them check the trailer tire pressure.  All was fine.  Today, just by chance, I was inspecting the underside of the trailer for any odd looking stuff.  There it was.  There is a large screw wedged in the tire.   Another thing to add to the list.  It will probably be easier for me to take the tire off and have the vulka down the road fix it.

I called Cruiser Rv today to find out what kind of axle we had on the trailer, if it had zert fittings or needed the bearings removed and greased.   I called Tech support and the guy was about as helpful as well, I don't know what.  He said to take the wheel off and look for a cap, that would tell me if it was or wasn't.  Hmm, funny, before I called it says on the website to have your VIN ready so they can give better tech support.  

I also asked about parts.  I told him I wanted to replace the rubber seal around the slideouts as it is getting worn.   He asked if I was a dealer and I said no.  He asked where I was and I responded Mexico and his comment was "That's not gonna happen".  I then explained that we have a U.S. mailing address and his comeback was, "Well, doesn't matter, we only ship to dealers".  I'm like WTF!  

We have a street downtown and all the businesses there deal only in rubber, hoses, gaskets, etc.  I'm sure if I cut off a piece they can match it.  Oh the woes of the rv industry.   I wonder if I bought a Prevost I would be treated better.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Great North American Tour - Route Change

My sister has been pestering me to make a reservation for our meet up in Yosemite.   I have put her off for over a week.   I have been checking California gas prices and rv and state park prices and we are going to steer clear of the state.   Gas prices are increasing as warmer weather and Spring Break get closer.  Average price throughout the state is $4.15 a gallon.   We have a choice in the U.S. and in Canada the prices are higher and there won't be any $3.25 a gallon fuel there.   No choice then in Canada and we have accepted that from the beginning.  

Instead, we have decided to travel up through Arizona from our Phoenix visit with friends and through the state of Nevada.   We can consider Las Vegas and take in a good show or hang around Lake Mead and then head on up to Reno where we will take off with my sister and BIL for a few days before heading to Coos Bay.

We both agreed we want to see California.   At a later date we can fly out, rent an econo car and drive the coast or maybe take a train trip.  

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Clock Is Ticking

Yesterday I got the carpenter to come to the house.   The drawers in our bedroom dresser keep rolling out while we drive and if we aren't just level the slowly roll out.  Imagine at night, I hear this slow rolling.  Croft mentioned adding drawer magnets and I did.  It worked for awhile one broke off.  The carpenter said the drawers were not installed properly and the wood is poor quality.  Well, tell me something I don't know about the rv industry!

Also, we have a corner entertainment center that has cabinets above and below but with a huge section in the middle for a television.   With the new flat screens it is just wasted space and our rv only has one small outside storage for the water hose, electrical cord, and the sewer hose.  Interior storage is abundant though with lots of cabinets and under bed storage. 

I asked him to make a door that looks like two cabinet doors so that I can attach a flat screen on the front and still lift up the complete door and put shelves inside.   Total price, 800 pesos.   Keep in mind, here in the north things are much more expensive.

Today I quiet the water pump.  I'm tired of the thumping.   It is located underneath the refrigerator behind the converter and the crappy Suburban furnace.  I need to remove the furnace, which I have done before but didn't take advantage of the work to do the pump.   I will put padding underneath the pump and hope that will quiet it.

Last big task is to take the trailer out for the day to have the wheel bearings and electric brakes checked.

We may change our route plan and go to San Antonio first if the insurance company gives us a go ahead on the roof that was damaged by hail.   It would be a good time to order the seals for the slideouts.  When I was on the roof this week I noticed one is starting to deteriorate.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hey, I did it! Fantastic Fan Install

I bought the Fantastic Fan on line two months ago.   It was delivered to our friends in McAllen and one of their friends brought it to Monterrey.   It sat in the box only because I didn't have any Dicor and I doubt I would ever find it here in town.   

When we were in San Antonio we went to the rv parts place around the corner from our house.   A great place to buy stuff.  However, they wanted $130 for the install and they said it was 1/2 of labor.  What?  I then looked around the store and saw they sell the fan for $225.  Wow!  I paid $126 on Ebay new in the box complete.   I picked up three tubes of Dicor while I was there.

Turn the page, today I decided it was time.  There really is nothing to it.  What worried me was the crappy way they put rvs together and that I would have to jury rig something.  The old one came out pretty easily but getting all the old putty off was a b!@#&.   I got it all cleaned up and started the install.  Took me a few hours only because I needed a new drill bit.  There is one permanently lodged in the roof :).   Also, the inside shroud needed to be cut and I don't have a saw.  Yep, no saw.   I had one once but the blade broke and the handle is somewhere.   I went to the carpenter in town here and he charged me 10 pesos.  I gave him 25 pesos and we were both happy.  

Got home, climbed the roof and put it in.  The wiring was easy, I also bought two of those plastic thing-a-ma-jigs that you screw the wires into to connect them.  Worked much better than the other thingy where you stick one wire in each end.  I wired it up first to make sure it would run and bingo.  Nothing.  Now what?  I kept checking the wires only to discover the light was out too.   I had burnt a fuse.   Got it going and it worked great.   It ran all afternoon and the solar never blinked.   I will always be thankful to Croft and Kevin for helping me install the solar panel.  Can't believe we carried that monster around for weeks before getting it done.   

So here is a look.  Any problems with the caulking, please let me know.  I did it just like the original.  They gooped over the screws and let it go over the edge and then caulked the edge. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

We Need An Internet Option

Too confusing for me.  What is the best solution for internet on the road in the U.S. and Canada?  I know we can find many hotspots along the way but we would like to have access when we are at home in the evenings.

Any ideas?  I did some checking on a Verizon stick but there must be a dozen options.   

Friday, March 7, 2014

Back and Gearing Up

Just got back home to Mexico from San Antonio, Tx. Mistreated by ICE on the U.S. side, and warmly welcomed by the Mexican immigration and border guards.
Then, as we head home we met two checkpoints; one Mexicans soldiers and the other Federal Police. All with smiles, handshakes and a bienvenido.

Why can't American border agents, ICE, and U.S. immigration do the same instead of acting like such asses?

We had a beautiful drive home taking the libre from Laredo to Monterrey.   We hit Friday rush hour traffic but got to the house just as dark was upon us.  I put the SUV in reverse and backed that baby in the first time.   I guess I've gotten good at it.

Here are some pics from the week:

The LEDs using just a wisp of energy from the batteries!

The chicken salad that was made for me last night served on the doily my neighbor made by hand.

Now the heat is on and I have a laundry list of things to do to the rv.  I'm ready to go and there is no turning back.  Daryl and Sandy, we're coming your way!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Good Trip

Made it to San Antonio.  We left Casa Blanca around 8 a.m. and arrived to San Antonio before noon.  It has really gotten cold here and the rain is coming tonight.
If any of you have passed through San Antonio with your rvs, you know there really isn't anything centrally located.   Not far from our rental is a mobile home park.  Nicely paved streets, good electricity but definitely not a recommended place.   You can pretty much picture the place but people are friendly and it is about eight blocks from the house.  You can't get any closer.
The manager wanted to charge us $120 for three nights and in the end, I was able to negotiate a week for $100.  Power is good and I have been watching the meter, FHUs too but no wifi.  So I am writing this from the McDonald's on Austin Hwy for those of you who know the city.
We made appointments for the a/c maintenance and the accountant for Wednesday and those were the most important things.   I'm power washing the house tomorrow and I saw a piece of fascia over the porch that has a small piece of rot or water damage and I have paint in the garage so I should be able to change that out.  The trim could use some painting but that may require that I come back towards the end of March.
Time for dinner and visit with friends and then hunker down for the cold.   The solar is working beautifully but we didn't want to boondock at the local Walmart.   The area has changed a bit and we didn't feel comfortable.
Brian and Sue sent us some good information on  Harvest Hosts and there new partnership with Boondockers Welcome .   Harvest Hosts are wineries that allow boondocking for one night.  This will come in handy along with our Passport America membership and the guide that Jerry and Paula loaned us. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

An Interesting Drive?

We are on our way to San Antonio and have stopped in Laredo, Tx for the night at the famous Casa Blanca State Park.  We have a great site next to the water.  However, it stinks, literally.   When I was a fisherman, we would catch fish and then take them home to clean them or take them to the cleaning station to do the job.  

To start things off, we arrived to our designated site to find three vehicles and a picnic table full of food and drink and a smoking hot fire in the pit.   As I pulled in front of the site a guy was coming back from the washroom and I asked him if it was his site.  He kind of shrugged his shoulders and said he would be right back as he headed for the water where his friends were fishing.  I told him to check his sticker on the windshield of the truck.  Long story short, they had to move out and fast.   They had day passes only and just plunked down on the site.    No apologies, nothing.   They packed up and moved out.   

Now we're settled in and we keep smelling fish.  We walk down to the water and there are latex gloves strewn all over and dozens of fish heads and intestines.   Kids are swimming just feet away in the stench and it surely couldn't be very healthy.   The park itself is nice and we have a wifi signal although they say you can only get it from the entrance office.   

Still a good place to spend the night and we are settled in and watching the Oscars and having a glass of wine. 

We took the toll highway up from Laredo and it is excellent.  We decided this last year that the toll highways present a sense of false security.  Both the libre and autopista receive the same level of security and the libre is much more scenic with places to stop along the way to eat and use facilities or do some shopping.  The condition of the libre from Monterrey to Laredo is top notch.   Very good asphalt and much better in my opinion than the toll highway.   So we save over 850 pesos round trip.

That said, we stopped in Sabinas Hidalgo for some LP gas and a couple of breakfast tacos.  We got back on the road and we way an armored patrol from the federales.  As we approached they pulled us over.   I didn't think anything of it, an ordinary stop for a check.   The officer walked up to the window and said good morning and the asked if we had jumper cables.   

They had been chasing someone when the bad guys threw a spiked something or other to blow their tires.   As they swerved something broke and the engine died.   The lighting eventually ate up the battery and they needed a jump.  We offered to help them.  They connected the cables and as we were waiting here comes the military and two state patrols and more federales to the rescue.  Apparently the problem had happened just before we were stopped.  All guns drawn, we got their vehicle started and they were very thankful.   Funny part is, as cars slowed down and passed by, they looked at us like we were criminals and were being arrested.   :)   We had an uneventful trip other than that and the bridge wait on a Sunday was only 20 minutes.