Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Heading To The Grand Canyon


This is going to be quick and dirty because we want to drop a few bucks into the bottomless pit before we head out tomorrow for the Grand Canyon.
Last night we visited with our friend Michelle.  She was our boss almost 25 years ago in Mexico City.  She moved back to the U.S. and married Sagi, a great guy and they have three beautiful children.  Sagi is in Israel because his mother has suffered a stroke and not doing well.  We missed seeing him but we are praying for his mother's quick recovery.   We talked all night after a great Minnesota dinner Michelle had fixed.   We covered her life, ours, politics, you name it.   The usual for me.  It was fun.  This woman opened many doors for me that led to my work travels throughout Mexico, Central and South America.  We are so happy to have her as a friend.  The years go by, but we remain in close contact.

Michelle and Sagi's dogs listen to our rants on life and politics.  Michelle says, "you have really become a conservative".  Yikes!

Today was a fun one also.  We got together with Brian and Sue, everyone knows them so I don't need to say to much other than they invited us to a great lunch outdoors overlooking Fountain Hills lake.  They have a wonderful place surrounded by mountains.   Brian is a guru on travel maps and he has been coaxing or should I say coaching me on Microsoft Streets and Trips which I am now convinced to download.   Thanks you guys, we had a great day and it is always good to meet up with friends.

So we say goodbye to Talking Stick Casino, it has been good to us even though we didn't win a few bucks.  A great boondocking spot for rvers, lots of things to see and do nearby not to mention easy access.   We've had a great stay and hope to be back here someday soon.

Just received a voice mail from our bank in the U.S.  A possible compromise on the account.  I called, it turns out we purchased gas in Tucson and they did a test charge of $300 before we pumped.   Not an issue, the charge was not posted and we went through the last two weeks worth of transactions.  Nothing was of concern.  Good to know they are on top of things. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Boondocking At Talking Sticks Casino - Phoenix

It was a short drive yesterday from Tucson to Phoenix.  Sorry to say goodbye to Casino Del Sol in Tucson.  It was a fantastic stay and way too short.   They really know how to treat guests.   We headed out for fuel first, $3.28, you can't beat that.   Next was the Camping World where we enjoyed using a free dump station.   Funny Camping World, they have no parking for rvs!   We looked around the store but the few things we need are just so much cheaper on line or at an rv parts supply.   I don't like to use anything for free, like at the casino, we dropped some money and paid for food, just like at Camping World, we should have purchased something.  We had a salesman take us around but they have a very small inventory.  Fruit and granola in the car with a cup of coffee was breakfast.  I did some exercise before we took off too.  Got to keep that up.
When we pulled into Phoenix it was chaos on the freeway.   I don't like driving here, it's nuts.   We were hauling butt at 60 mph to try and stay out of the way but people were going at least 85 mph.  Even rvs and travel trailer were zooming by us.  I guess the cost of fuel and the use of a finite resource still doesn't matter to Americans.
We followed the GPS to Talking Sticks.   As we approached the turn lane for the parking lot, a policeman directing traffic stopped everything.  He walked over to us and I rolled down the window.  He said, "Welcome to Talking Sticks, the rv parking is at the next turn.  I'll hold traffic while you move over".  How is that for a welcome.   We did what he said and there were four motorhomes in the parking lot.
Off we went to the concierge and they gave us a three day parking permit and we signed up to the club for the card.  No card benefits here though.   We were told we could unhitch and set up.   Very quiet at night.  We took a drive down the main avenue to see what was around, bought some water at a Glacier vending machine filling up our five gallon water jub.   Headed back to the casino and played our money on the card and then dropped two dollars each.   Still like the cling, cling, cling of coins and I won't back down on that although I know I'm living in the past.
Enjoyed a happy hour at home and watched the local evening news before hitting the pillow.   An excellent nights sleep.

An anecdote about the dangers of cell phone use.   I came up to the casino this morning to make sure we were good on the wifi and the woman at the concierge gave us the login information.  As I was walking out of the casino, a guy who reminded me of Midnight Cowboy was talking on his Iphone with his "I'm cool gate" seeing the hot women standing outside, he walked right into the automatic doors and knocked them off their glides.   He wasn't hurt but his pride was as he fumbled to get into his hot red Mustang parked in front.   I looked at the girls and we all giggled!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Boondocking At Casino Del Sol In Tucson

Everything we read on Freecampsites.net is true.  Casino del Sol caters to the rver as well.  We
parked out in the lot farthest from the casino hotel and went inside.  The guard at the door told us there was a concert in the amphitheater from 7 to 10 and customers had priority with parking and if we had parked any closer we may have been asked to move later on.   We signed into the club, received our club card with $10 cash and the $19 buffet.   The guy at the desk saw our driver's license from Monterrey and said he had worked there for four years helping to open a couple of casinos there.  Small world.
We played a few machines, went home for a drink (no free drinks here just water, soda  and coffee).   Headed back to the casino for the buffet.

Once we had someone show us how the machines work with the card and the cash we were off to a good start.  We haven't played in a casino for ten years and to be honest I like using coins.  This new paper system is okay but takes a lot of the fun out of it.   We were up and then down but in the end we lost about five bucks.  We will play two dollars more in a few minutes before we go.  

The buffet was good, no crab legs.  It was luau night and the weekend buffet is $25 but included Brazilian espadas with beef, pork and lamb so we paid the $6.  Well worth although I think buffets are not very healthy.   We tried just to nibble to get a taste of everything.  Chinese stir fry, the Brazilian espadas, seafood, very good shrimp, excellent Italian bar with pastas and hand tossed pizzas.   You can see Juan's dessert plate below to get an idea.

A very good part of the casino is the rv parking.   Had it not been for the concert, you can park close in to the casino and the light poles have 110 outlets.   We were going  to move after the concert goers had left but by that time I was too pooped to pop and we decided to hookup the Mr. Heater and we kept nice and warm all night.   Wifi is available in the hotel lobby and had we been closer in we could have used it from the rig.  We had a signal but it was weak.  Very quiet.   I give this place a 10 plus.   Off of IH-10 it is eight miles south on Valencia Ave.   We found gas again for $3.28.
We're off to Talking Sticks casino in Phoenix.  My sister sent a picture of Reno from yesterday, snow falling!  Too many pics to post of all the great things we have seen on the road and also for lack of wifi but we are doing good so far with internet access.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Windy Travel Day - Deming, NM

We stopped in Roswell this morning to pick up something to cook in the crockpot while we were on the road.  Albertson's had 2 x 1 on all their poultry and meat.   What a deal.   Everytime we go into the rv we smell something good cooking.  
First stop was Ruidoso for a rest and a walk around through their visitor's center.   Juan wanted to read up on Billy the Kid.  Great place to stop and stretch.   The winds were picking up but I refused to go over 1800 rpms.   I'm trying to keep our mpg at 13 on this trip.  So far so good.   Sometimes it was slow going but we're not in a hurry on a day to day basis.  
Another quick stop at White Sands visitor's center.   Great movie room with a video about White Sands and how it was formed.  Lots of people were stopped there.   Funny, you can walk all over the sands, buy a snow dish to slide down the dunes but you can't park overnight.  Primitive camping is limited to tent campers, no sleeping in your vehicle.   Hacked me off.
Gas was $3.23 a gallon when we pulled in to Las Cruces.   I passed two stations and the price was creeping up.   Good thing I turned around and went back a half a mile and filled up.  In town it went up to $3.39. 
We are parked at the Walmart tonight in Deming.  There are about four rigs there.  One guy has his travel trailer unhooked, stuff on the ground and his truck parked caddy wampus.  Not good for the Walmart etiquette.   Tomorrow we will be at a casino in Tucson where you are supposed to sign up and receive @10 plus two tickets for their $19 buffet.   I wonder if they have crab legs? 

UFO City


Yesterday was a fun day but a big disappointment.  Roswell is not what we had expected but on the other hand it has one very interesting site.   We got up early, watched local news from Albuquerque and had some great coffee.  It's cold here in the mornings.  They had snow in Roswell just two weeks ago.

We headed out for the visitor's center to pick up some maps.  The two girls who work the center are from Guadalajara and they were happy to know we were from Mexico.  We had quite a chat for awhile and they gave us some good tips.   As you can see below we did the UFO and alien tours but opted out of the big UFO museum.  As Teresa said the other day, it is mostly newspaper clippings and pictures.  We decided we had better things to do with our money.

And you thought I was joking about my tin foil hat.  I had it disguised under my straw hat.  This guy wasn't very happy about it either.  I think there could have been something between us.

Henriette Wyeth and Peter Hurd are famous southwest artists.  Their paintings hang in Museum of Art here in Roswell.  We haven't seen a museum as well done as this other than the Nelson Art Gallery in Kansas City.   There paintings, portraits and self-portraits are truly amazing.   The museum also features a history section and includes artifacts from native Americans, the Spanish inquisition, the black homesteading of this area as well as Goddard's work with rockets.  We will remember this place for a long time and recommend it to everyone.  Below is mural painted by a local artist.  

Lots of poverty here in rural New Mexico.  We are actually in Dexter, a small town just outside Roswell.   We went into town the other day looking for some wine for dinner.  All the businesses seem to be owned by whites and there are lots of poor Hispanics just barely making ends meet.   Parts of Roswell, where the tourists area is located, seems depressed.   We did find a winery on the main street and the son and co-owner gave us a good run down on the wine tasting and the establishment they run.  Too bad we're taking off, he says his Friday happy hour is a hoot and brings in all types of people and makes for a long Friday evening of conversation and meeting new people.  He also showed us a local vodka made from milk.    

As we were heading back to the rv park, we hit huge detour.   There had been a shoot out at a convenience store with at least one person shot dead.   Sad.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

That's Why Rvs Have Wheels


We had a great trip yesterday and decided to make a detour and a route change.  We have been to Guadalupe Mountains Natl Park twice and wanted a change of scenery.   We were looking for a boondocking spot called Avalon Reservoir outside of Carlsbad, NM on our way to Roswell.  I figure Norma will get a kick out of it after she finds out I have already fashioned my aluminum foil hat just for this trip :)   We couldn't find the reservoir and opted for the Brantley State Park outside of Carlsbad.   Can't beat primitive sites for $8 a night including water and dump station.  

As you can see, we had an idyllic spot right on the water.   What a view and the weather was fantastic.  Saw a couple of kids pass by and kick the water and they left after a few minutes.  Other than that we were all by our lonesomes.   Went for a long walk around the park and along the water and the winds picked up and that made me thirsty.   Our clocks had changed on the cellphones automatically so we were an hour behind now but for us it was still 6 p.m. and good enough for happy hour.   I fixed a great salad with chicken for dinner.  We had put the crockpot on in the morning, hooked up to the inverter and stowed in the kitchen sink.   Man was that good chicken and cooked with energy from the sun.  You can't beat that.   We are really into this "new to us" Redbox where you can rent a video for $1.20 and have it for 24 hours dropping it off at the next stop.   We fired up the video and it was really dark out.  I opened the door and said that we should go out and watch the stars instead.   OMG!  A flood of pests entered the rv.   The walls were covered with all kinds of tiny flying insects.   We closed everything up, cleaned up the mess and then headed to higher ground to the day use parking lot.   Ended up finishing the movie and having a good night.  Whew!

Yep, I hadn't even showered yet but I am on a kick to stick to our budget and to eating healthy.   So I decided to make our own McMuffins using whole grain English muffins, low-fat turkey sausage and eggs, no cheese.   They were fantastic this morning and I cooked up the sausage and stowed it in the freezer.  We've been doing a mini-fast two days a week on Monday and Thursday, 300 calories morning and night with nothing in between and no alcohol.  Seems to be working and my pants are getting saggy.

A disturbing fact though about the lake we stayed at.   You can fish but not eat what you catch.  The levels of DDT are very high.   So this morning we went to the ranger's station and asked about the water since it was a reservoir and what they did with the water.   He said it is used for irrigation.  Yikes!  DDT on our food!  
We will spend two days at a Passport America park in Dexter, NM.  I want to do some caulking on the exterior lights and sides, work on our route plan and work on a proposal that I need to submit for the national convention in November.  We are heading east to Phoenix to see Brian and Sue and old friends from Mexico Sagi and Michelle.  From there we want to pass by the Grand Canyon then on to Reno to visit my oldest sister before heading to the Oregon coast where we will meet up with my brother Steve and SIL Michelle.    Also we have friends in Eugene to see and people in Seattle.   I think I need to talk with Croft and Norma about when we will be there to visit.  We need more time!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Overnight At The Marfa LIghts


Took off from Lake Amistad and stopped by the dump station to fertilize Mother Earth and then fill up with water. They have very good facilities at the lake and the price of $4 per night can't be beat.  We stopped off at Langtry, Tx although we have been there many times.  It is a Texas tourist information site and we picked up a few brochures and maps. 

Got to Marfa in the afternoon around 4 p.m.  and took a long nap.  The train tracks are across the highway and the trains run regularly during the day.  We think only two passed by last night and only one caught my attention.  Yep, it was chilly at night but we kept warm without any problems.  There was another rv from California parked behind us.

So the lights are real and we did see them.  Lots of them.  We know they aren't headlights but these lights stir quite a bit of controversy even there at the visitor's center.  The binoculars they provide do a good job.  We sat outside for about two hours after dusk and had fun chatting with other people and listening to people tell their stories and give their opinions.  Some people we saw; a heavy woman with very squeaky shoes, a bicyclist you was dressed and looked like Lance Armstrong who was biking across country (we saw him smoking dope, very healthy I'm sure), a French couple, a drunk couple and he knew all about the lights!   It was fun.  Just an observation.  You can see the lights below.

I thought it was truly amazing.  Of course, no one will ever know the truth because they don't want us to. I am convinced they are beings who live inside the mountains and have an agreement to be left alone and the Marfa lights is the cover.  You can tell I couldn't let go.

Sunrise from the bedroom this morning with a fresh pot of coffee, warm heat from the furnace and lots of juice being generated from Mother Nature.  

P.S.  Yep, we passed the Prada shoe and handbag store outside of Valentine, Tx sitting along the highway all by itself.   A small 3m X 3m building looking like  a New York storefront.  Wierd!

Monday, April 21, 2014

On The Road To Marfa


 We spent Sunday at the lake doing some hiking and taking pictures.  Quite a few people showed up for Easter picnics but they were all pretty quiet groups.   Another Cruiser rv pulled in next to us yesterday afternoon.  We met Jim and Martha from Florida.  A very nice couple that just started rving this last week.   Previously they had purchased a trawler and traveled the South Pacific for four years!  Can you imagine.  They are headed to Alaska and we may just run into them again.   That was fun!

The great train bridge that runs across the lake.  

 Cactus in bloom along the trails.   There are several nature hikes and we did most of them.

Guess who standing next to the lake.  There is really very little water left.  The drought has taken its toll.  We saw only two boats all day.   People were attempting to fish but not much to catch either.  

 My first selfie!

We're in Alpine at the moment and after checking our mail we are stopping by the grocery and get some gas too before heading out to the Marfa Lights visitor's area.  Hopefully we will spend the night and then continue on tomorrow.  All is good!

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.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Trip To The Border


First thing is the price of gas in McAllen is skyrocketing.  Great, just in time for our trip!  Average here is $3.39.   

I headed out from the house at 6:30 this morning stopping for gas knowing I would hit traffic in Monterrey.  A few observations of that ride.   LEDs have taken over almost all the street lights along the highway into town and throughout all major avenues in town.  The look and the feel of the lighting is much better not to mention the energy savings.  Monterrey generates the electricity from a landfill using methane to power generators.  This power is for street lighting and running the subway lines.   Traffic was really flowing well and I was on the autopista at 7:30.   

I'm sure you have heard of the shoot outs and road blocks in Reynosa last week and the 28 bad guys who were taken down (they never win).   Our state government recommended we stick to the toll highway and not drive through Reynosa using alternate bridges.  Security would be beefed up and there would be no issues.  Okay, I had planned on taking the libre as we have been doing but was told at home not to take any chances.

By the time I got to km 26 outside Reynosa, I had had enough.  Not one federal patrol, no military and only two of our state patrols during the whole trip.  I got on the phone and called our local tv station and left a comment with one of the operators.   Five minutes later I get a call from home saying that they announced my name and my remarks.   That started a whole set of news reports.   Ha ha!  What a waste of 300 pesos, and the libre is in better shape and more scenic.

The bridge wait was over an hour and the usual inspection.  Went to the office, picked up materials and dropped them off at the school for tomorrow.  I arrived to the hotel at 2:30, took a nap and checked my mail and now I'm off to do a little shopping.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Smooth Sailing Ahead


I can't think of anything left to do.  We did all the banking stuff today, I had a bad wheel bearing changed out on the VW, got my Mexican tax return from the accountant, and I am packed and ready to go in the morning to McAllen.  If I make it through this trip and come home on Friday night it is smooth sailing ahead.

Saturday I will be doing things at my leisure packing up the rv and making last minute fixes.  I think I can adjust the rails on the bedroom dresser to an upward position and that will fix the problem.  The cabinet door fits perfectly and I just need to find the hinges or whatever those thingies are called in McAllen and I may just take a cabinet sample to match the paint.   

The only other thing to do is to collapse the lot and the house into a bunker and then we're ready to go!  You can't do any more than we have done.   Time to have four months of fun and what happens, happens.  I bet all you snowbirds had the first time jitters too!  Now it's our turn.  

Here's to a good event in McAllen and a great weekend!  I need to start brushing up on my Canadian and my French.   I have my white socks, camera strap, baseball hat and 100 SPF so I should look just right to be out of place!

If you were to ask me what I am thinking about now in terms of the trip it would be Hwy 90 through West Texas.   Oh man, crossing the Pecos River.   What a sight!  

(Sandy, if you're reading this we hope to see you guys soon)

What A Disappointment


Tomorrow I head to McAllen for an overnighter coming back Friday afternoon.  This is a short course from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.   I need to stop by a friends house and pick up some pins I ordered for the WDH (weight distribution hitch).  We keep dropping a bar and I want to get that fixed.

Today is a busy one.  First I won't be going to the gym.   My head cold has gotten the best of me and I actually slept in until 6:45.  That's practically a first.  I want to do some thing around the house and then I have to stop by the repair shop to find out what part I need to buy in McAllen.  That's another guy who has put me off looking for the part for two months now.  Then I have a meeting in Allende, stop by the car wash, head to Monterrey to meet people at the bank and then a 2:30 in town also.   Almost there though and come Saturday it will be smooth sailing.   We hope to leave on Wednesday.

The camera guys came and installed the system and it works great.   No worries there and they were friendly people.  I can see who comes up and down the street, when the cats come in to eat and what they are doing, the gardener doing his job, etc.

 I stopped by the carpenter yesterday for our 4 p.m. appointment and he said he needed 30 more minutes as he was making a delivery.  He asked me to buy the rails for the bedroom drawers.   What?  No rails!  Then I asked him if he had the small pistons for the cabinet door.   What?  He can't find them!   I told him to give me the door and I was done.   He brought the door and guess what . . .   I was never painted.   How in the hell was he going to my house to install a door without the pistons and the door being painted?  What a loser.   I told him he was off my list as I wanted new kitchen cabinets and he had been recommended to me by other people but was now off my list and if anybody asked, I had no comments.  Arghhh.   "Croft, you were right with your comment".   I'll be installing a door and rails myself next week.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Not One Of My Best Days


I got the tanks cleaned out and ready to go, that was one major thing on my list today.  However, I was sick all last night.   I had severe heartburn which I never get and also started to feel like I was getting a cold, scratchy throat and lots of post-nasal drip.  I couldn't sleep half the night. 

This morning I didn't go to the gym and Monday is our fasting day.  No fasting for me, I had to eat something.   I can always fast tomorrow.   It's 8 p.m. now on Monday and I feel a bit better and hope to sleep through the night.  As I said, none of this is normal for me.  I can only think of one thing and that was the party Saturday night.  We sat at a table right under the air conditioning vent and it was very uncomfortable and the food was, well, okay.   Who knows, could be something completely different.

My big disappointment of the day was the carpenter.   I had to give him an ultimatum.  When I went today to pick up the installer, I found out that the cabinet door was made almost two weeks ago but never painted except for the primer coat.  

The owner came out and I told him pretty much that if he doesn't have it ready for install tomorrow at 2 p.m. I want my deposit back and he can forget the work.   We'll see what happens.  I doubt I will see the deposit back and will have to blow this one off.   What was supposed to be four days is now turning into three weeks.

As for the cameras, well today is San Lunes (hangover Monday), and after paying a hefty 50% deposit, not only did they not show up but they don't answer either, at least as of this afternoon.  Let's hope tomorrow is a better day.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Last Minute Stuff

Last night we stayed in Monterrey and attended a quincenera.   That was a lot of fun except for the noise.  I guess I have built a reputation over the years for being a person who doesn't tolerate a lot of noise and partying.   I posted about a part of the party last night on Facebook called "batucada", a Brazilian band of about eight people who come marching into the party beating drums and making noise for about 30 minutes.  So loud that this morning my ears were still ringing and some people actually went outside.  Anyway, I was told "no aguantas nada, jejejeje", or "you don't tolerate anything, hahahaha".   I guess not, I must be a real sourpuss but I think I have a great life.
Got up early and with our time change, we headed out for breakfast.  Good breakfast, Huevos Gobernador, sincronizados (flour tortillas with cheese and ham) covered with two fried eggs and served with beans.  Very good.
Then we headed home for a nap, and then being lazy all afternoon.  So we decided to fix dinner and guess what?  Nothing in the house to eat, no eggs, no meat.  We made salsa and made some fried potatoes and Juan decided to go up to the highway to look for some cooked arrechera, no luck.  He bought eggs only to find out when he got home there was no gas for cooking.  Tosatadas with beans and cheese and French fries.
I cleaned out the black, grey and fresh water tanks and no we need to start reorganizing the cabinets and the closets, packing what we need for warm and cold weather.  I go to McAllen on Thursday for an event at a high school and then back home for the finals.  Cameras installed on Tuesday, details on the pool and a talk with the gardener and his wife about the house and the cats.   I'm ready.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Keeping Warm


Stopped by to pick up the carpenter today to have our new cabinet door installed on the entertainment center and new drawer rails in the bedroom dresser.  No one was in the shop but his wife and she said he was there just a minute ago.  I saw the door on the work bench but it was missing another coat of paint.  He showed up a few minutes later and said that the painter took off to help in a kitchen installation and was supposed to finish it before leaving. Well, today is Friday and las caguamas (liter bottles of beer) are waiting.   In our little town things shut down on Friday early.   Okay, next Monday then.   We still have time and it is a 30 minute job.   

Now you guys are telling me we are going to run into snow in Canada.   Cool!   We are packin' heat and lots of it.  Thanks to Sal in Valle de Juarez we have a great install for our Mr. Heater and it works really well.   

I still need to test the electric blanket on the inverter.   I know you may think it is a power eater but we put it under the sheets and keep it on the lowest of 10 settings.   At home we use it all the time in the winter and there is no change in the electric bill.  Yep, big difference in 110 off the grid and batteries but let's hope it works fine on the coldest of nights.  I don't know what happened, but my little plug in 12V meter reader broke.   It was kind of broken for awhile but now it won't even read.  I'll put the blanket on the bed and take it with us and worst case the batteries don't like it but if we have 110 we can use it.

We're counting down the days now and I guess we are as ready as can be.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Reason To Go To Canada


Reason:  Today it was 104F, tomorrow and the weekend, more of the same.  Enough said.

Tomorrow they are coming to install the new cabinet door and fix the bedroom drawers.  This weekend is clean the tanks.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

13 More Days


Let's see, what have I been working on?  I bought a 2x4 (yep, I know it really isn't a 2x4 anymore), had it cut into 30 cm lengths for new stabilizer supports.  I got those painted today.

Ordered new set pins and clips for the WDH (weight distribution hitch), those I will pick up in McAllen on the 11th at my last seminar for the school year.

Opened new online paying lines for insurance and to pay the care taker while we are gone.  Easy to do transfers these days even between banks.  Pretty much all of the bill paying is taken care of for the trip.

Still thinking about downloading new maps for Canada on the TomTom, not sure if it is worth the 50 bucks they are asking.  I think it would make things easier when we go to visit someone or some place.

Story on buying the wood or reverse discrimination.   I went to Home Depot, picked out the wood and asked them to cut it.  They gave me a ticket to pay for the wood and the cuts and sent me off to the check out.  While I was choosing the piece I wanted, I noticed a young girl looking for wood.  In Mexico, you don't have to wait long for assistance if you are a woman.   She was probably 22 yrs old, kind of pretty but not in good physical condition (chubby).  So when I went to ask them to cut the wood, she was there and she wanted to make a shadow box.  Boy, these guys were all over her like white on rice.  They measured, she'd change the measurements and they'd re-cut the pieces, on and on.  After I came back from paying the ticket, they were still all over her.  One of them even offered to glue and nail the pieces.   I stood there for about 10 minutes and finally one of them asked me what I wanted.  I showed him my ticket and he looked a bit annoyed because now his friend was going to take over.   When he grabbed the paper from my hand I held it tight and looked him in the eye and said, " It's okay, I can wait while you paint it too!".   He didn't know what to say and the girl looked at me and started laughing.   We both got a kick out of it.  

So now we are in the waiting game.  Cameras should be installed on Saturday and I will begin prepping the trailer.  The truck still has two more items to check and one is the fan clutch.  Other than that, I am at the point where there is really not much else we can do but close up the house, say goodbye to the kitties and take off.