Saturday, October 31, 2015

It's Good To Have A Tight Rear End Again

The SUV needed some pretty heavy-duty suspension work done this last week.  The rear end was loose.  We found almost new used parts of a Dodge Durango that had been wrecked sometime ago.  Worked like a charm.  What a big difference.  We're trying to get a headstart on Christmas vacation and get things ready.   There is a bit more change to spend.   September and October were good to me this year and the money kind of rolled right on in.

I'm sure you're aware that Ruth and Kevin are into their first days of Colombia.  Give them a click and see what South America is all about.  I love it there and wish we were with them.  I posted on their blog today that when their six weeks are finished they will be hoping to find a way to get Sherman, their motorhome there.  We will purposely go out and buy a used Class B so we can tag along.  

Now for some pics of what has been going on.  Well, the roof was finally finished and I may have mentioned it.  The painter has returned.   I dare ask him why he hasn't brought his raggedy ass back or answered our calls over the last two weeks.  I do know because that's how things roll.   Give them 50% down and they start work.  Then they find another job and you are left holding the brush, at least in this case.   Time to do some interior work.  I had hoped to get it done before we had company but there is a lot of movement in the soil here and there are some interior cracks I wanted to have done and replastered before Ruth and Kevin showed up.  That's next and we are thinking of new kitchen tile and counter tops.   Easier when sell time comes.

Took this pic of the moon on the way to the gym in the morning.

And this one that evening.

Altar del Dia de los Muertos at school.  Monday is a holiday in some other states because they dedicate more to this celebration than we do here in the north.  No holiday for us.   In this small town all the people in the photos are related in one way or another.  As we say, "pueblo chico, infierno grande".  

Caught this van in the shopping center of HEB.  Times they are a changing.  Now you place your grocery order on line.  Same day service and it is delivered to your front door.  You can see the pickers as they move up and down the aisles of the store.  They are trained on how to pick the best produce as well as substitutions when the customer allows them.   What next?

Still no firm decision on vacation.   Maybe we'll stay home for a change.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

They Left Us With A Hurricane

Too much has happened this week but I'll try and get it all on paper.  As Ruth and Kevin were arriving I was leaving for the border.  I had an event in Roma, Tx and I took off about noon.  Those guys arrived in time for happy hour.   I missed the first night.  As luck would have it, my event was cancelled one day before.   The owner of the company I represent was in McAllen and invited me for dinner.  No problem, I spent the night and did some early morning shopping before heading back home.  All expenses paid plus a cancellation fee.  First time a school has cancelled in my fourth year.  They just couldn't get the money together in time.  

Bustamante, one of the small towns on Hwy 1 come out of the Colombia bridge.  They have a fantastic cave system that is world class.  They also sell pan de Bustamante.  Famous for bread making and sweet treats.   From the bridge down to Monterrey there are five small towns that offer great boondocking and one state park with electric and public restrooms.

I did the usual purchases of shave cream, deodorant and gel.  I also stopped by Goodings Rv and got a latch for the screen door which was broken earlier this year by a guest and an LP hose for the new Weber grill which came in very handy this week.

Excited to get home I made it in record time.  The border was the usual bore as I have never seen any action that is  supposed to be a daily event according to some people and social networks.  Oh well, for the better I guess.

Came home and we put a beautiful chicken Ruth had bought at Soriana.   It was our first grill on the Weber and it was amazing.  I can't believe we waited so long to get one.  We've eyed one for years but we just don't cookout.   Weird, I know considering we live in Mexico.   I mean yes, we grill when family is here or the monthly rib eye but it's a pain in the butt for two steaks.  Not anymore!!!!   I attached the hose to the tank on the rv and it started right up (after Kevin turned on the tank valve).  

Nothing to show from the ribeye dinner but Kevin did a great job grilling.

We spent a pleasant week with those guys.  They are great house guests and know their way around the house and town.   I dropped them off at the river walk downtown on Wednesday and they posted some wonderful pictures on their blog.  I never understand why people pass up the border states.  You have to go through them anyway.   I've had people tell me they "beat feet" across the border.  We have mountains, rivers, waterfalls, grutas or caves that have cable cars to get you there and best tour guides in the world.  Truly first class.  If you come across Colombia, you just head straight into Nuevo Leon on Hwy 1.  You pass small colonial towns with lots to offer.  

So they left Friday morning and they also left Hurricane Patricia.  She did wreak some havoc on the coast, Guadalajara had record flooding and got some light rain all day Saturday.   This morning was sunny and cool and dry.   Texas has been hit hard by the flooding though save our house in San Antonio with no water damage.

Still debating about Christmas though.  We're kind of set on Mazatlan but in the poll process someone said it's too bad that the noseeums come out at sunrise and sunset.  That's the part we don't like and is stuck in my head.   We'll see what happens.  Gas is still cheap in the U.S. so that is another possibility.  Decisions. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Two Big Things Coming Tomorrow!

Leaves are falling here at the ranch, the air is cooler at night and the water in the pool is good for a couple more swims before we decide to drain the chilling waters and do repairs.   It has been a relaxing weekend and we are preparing for two events this week.  One not so great and one fantastic.

We took advantage of the weekend and did the usual household chores, did some laziness activities and watched the return of Tracy Morgan on SNL.  I quit watching the show as it has pretty much fallen into, well, beyond sad conditions.  With the return of Tracy Morgan it seemed to pick up a bit last night and we enjoyed the first half of the show.

This morning we putzed around until 8:30 and decided to head to Monterrey for the book fair.  The convention center was packed.  Not only is the book fair going on but so is the October Horror Fest, and the Tlaqueparte which is an artisan exhibition.   We chose the book fair as we are readers and teachers.   We saw a few teachers we knew, talked to the Mexican Japanese association who had a large and interesting booth along with a book display, presentation and bonsai.   The guy who formed those little bonsai has been gone for ages but those 70 plus year old trees continue to grow today.  Amazing.

I forgot that we stopped for tacos on the way in and they were pretty darn good.   What taco isn't.  I'm in and out on the vegan thing, I maintain six days a week which is very good to say the least.  Hey, we all need a day to be human.

The mega event this week is the arrival of Ruth and Kevin.   They will be coming here on tomorrow but I will miss them.  The second event is my workshop in Roma, Texas.  I may just pass them on the lonely bypass highway from Allende to Cadereyta.  Anything is possible.  They will stay for a couple of days and I will be back on Tuesday night.   Can't wait to see these guys.  A select few of the fish that never seem to stink after three days:)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Internet In The U.S.

There is a thread on Rv.Net about a person who will be fulltiming in the next five years and was wondering about how to connect to the internet.  This is my response below.  We did find internet but found it difficult to say the least.  I won't go to extremes to find it and if it doesn't come to us I usually give up easily.

I haven't lived in the U.S. for over 30 years and find this thread interesting. I live in what is considered a very poor, antiquated country. That said, we traveled four months in the U.S. and Canada last year. Internet was a disaster. Good luck finding a place where you can sit down and send documents and heavy files. One such place is Kinko's FedEx. They charge .49 a minute. That's almost $30 an hour and I have used them on several occasions only to say their wifi isn't any faster than that of an rv park. Many libraries we found had a secured signal and had us sign up for a card which was very time consuming, and in some cases charged a fee. We found only one town on our trip that had open wifi everywhere and that was in Canada and if memory serves me correctly it was Merritt, BC.

The rv park signals were pathetic. I don't care what cost is, how many users are online it stank. After all, we are in the age of YouTube, live-streaming and sending files, online banking and "innovative" technology such as Skype and Facebook face talk. Somebody is not doing something. We found our trip, in terms of internet, frustrating to say the least and when you are being charged almost the same price as a discount hotel it is not acceptable.

In Mexico, this poor, poor little country where people still ride burros and use smoke signals, we actually have internet cafes that charge a less than a dollar an hour, you can sit in front of any public educational institution and connect free to the internet, governemt offices, and our home internet provider including landline, free long distance to the U.S. and basic Dish cable charges us a measly $38 a month.

The U.S. has a long, long way to go to get people connected without gouging the consumer to use a service that is available for little or no cost in most of the world.
We're watching last night's Democratic debate on YouTube.  The U.S. is a capitalist country by every sense of the word.  The debate was broadcast via CNN and not local networks.  How can you interest people to vote in their country if they don't have access to the information. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

I've Got It - Bad!

All this talk about heading south for the winter has literally got me on edge!  I've got the itch and I've got it bad.  My sister in Reno, who probably never reads the blog but is an avid rver along with my BIL, sent me this message:

If you don't hurry up and get that house sold and get ready to "hit the road", I'll be too old to go with you.  I may even permanently be in my rocking chair if you wait too long.

I've got the solar issue fixed and I am working on some other stuff.   When you work for yourself the checks don't come every fifteen days, sometimes it can take 90 days and in Mexico it may not be negotiable and I want that to do some mods on the rv.

The tile roof is back in place and looking good now I just need to get the spare bedroom painted.  Ruth and Kevin will be here soon and we want them to be happy while they're here.

While they were finishing the roof on Saturday I we went to the movies.  I don't like to be at home and have strangers around.   We headed to Esfera which is a sustainable community complete with shopping mall, supermarket, condominiums, gym, offices and a school will also be built so that no one has to leave the grounds.   The interesting part was that there are electric car charging stations in the underground parking not to mention red and green LEDs over each parking spot to make it faster and easier to park your car.  Wow, what next?

We saw the movie Martian.  Because the place in opening tickets are 40 pesos each.   I've never been to a VIP theater although we have had them for years.   There are faux leather recliners with tables, cup holders as well as foot rests.  You can't see or hear the people sitting in front of you.  

As for the movie, it was typical Hollywood.  Hokey to say the least and don't forget parts that are just plain corny.  Towards the end of the movie it shows the Americans in one shot giving a huge hurray for the success of the journey and then the Chinese who helped them doing the same thing.  What was the difference?  The Americans were waving American flags and the Chinese didn't have any flags to wave.  Why weren't the Chinese waving their flag as well, after all in the movie the expedition wouldn't have been successful without them?

The last part was that they refer to the United States as America.  America is a continent made up of 22 countries.   Sorry, but if you live in a country on the American continent it leaves a bone of contention to those peoples.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Polling Time - Mazatlan Rv Parks

It looks like we will head to Mazatl├ín again this Christmas.  It's an easy drive and we can boondock along the way.   A short trip of two weeks but enough to relax and visit with friends.
One week we mostly likely will boondock on the Isla.  That said, we also want to spend a week in town at an rv park so we can hang out visit a museum, aquarium, markets and do more relaxing.
The poll is in the upper right hand corner and asks about your personal experience at one of the parks listed.
Thanks in advance for your help.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Dallas Bound

Took off this morning at 6 a.m. heading for McAllen.  I had a flight at 12:30 and wanted to do a little shopping beforehand.  I came across some beautiful sunrise pictures.

I pulled up to the bridge in Reynosa at 9:15 and the wait was about 15 minutes.  I was waved through without any questions.  They checked the trunk and that was about it.   I headed for Walmart, HEB and then looked for the long term parking at MFE.   No issues, walked right on the plane.  I got there as they were boarding.  I hate getting there hours early.  I've never been refused as long as I don't have any bags to check.  They checked them at the plane anyway and it saved me the $25.

Picked up my rental and headed for the office to pick up books and materials and then off to Kaufman, Tx.  I spent an hour in traffic going through Dallas.  Way too spread out for me.  Bumper to bumper the whole time.   

I finish at 3 p.m. tomorrow and then head for the airport.   Late night flight to Corpus where I will get another rental, teach on Thursday and then drive the rental back to McAllen where I pick up my VW and head home.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Got A Weber!!!!

We finally did it.  Found a Weber 1000 at Home Depot on sale for 2600 pesos.  The same price as the one I have had in my Amazon cart for the last two months.  We still need the hose to hook it up to the rv tank.   There is a grill store on the way to Monterrey where I purchased the hose for the Mr. Heater.   We'll check there this week.  We can give it a try when Ruth and Kevin show up.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Notes From My Road Trip

First, I found this in the McAllen Monitor the day after the shooting in Oregon.  The front page is a story related to Dia de los Muertos and down in the bottom right hand corner a small blurb about the mass shooting.

It was a good week but I'm glad to be here at home writing the blog.   Monday afternoon was the drive to McAllen.  I went in the afternoon and waited on the bridge for an hour.  Great border guard, didn't detain me and off I went.  I had a reservation at the Victoria Palms Rv Park and Hotel.  It's well-located and reasonable in price.   

Tuesday I went to the office to load up materials, boxes and boxes of books.  Filled up with gas and headed for Port LaVaca.   Good hotel, good food and a good sleep.   Worked in LaVaca on Wednesday with a group of 100 students who were great kids.  Either they're farm families or their parents work for Alcoa or the refineries.   Texas kids have Texas names such as; Zane, Sage, Gage, Brook, Chase, and Koo.   

Headed out for El Campo which was an hour away.   I took the counselor's cue and headed for the backroads and it was a pretty sight.  I didn't take any pictures as I was too tired and wanted to take a quick nap.   Found the hotel right away.  Small town of about 12,000 mostly run down and forgotten.  Some nice areas around the downtown section.   Thursday I was at the school with another group of 100.  Best students ever and we hit it off.   I was expecting mostly Hispanics but it was an even mix of whites and blacks.  Again, heaving in farming and cattle.  The counselor dragged me over to meet a student.  She said, "Mr. Bauer meet Bauer".   I said, "oh, so your a Bauer too".   "Nope, my first name is Bauer".   His parents used his mother's maiden name as his first name.  Good kid and we hit it off.

Long, long drive back to McAllen that night.  Almost five hours.   

1) Cops follow me on the highway.  One policeman followed me for 10 miles with only one car length between us.  We even passed a semi that had some type of explosion and smoke was pouring out of the engine like it was on fire.  He continued to follow me before turning back.

2) In Falfurrias the same thing happened again.  This time before turning off, he passed me and nodded his head.

3)  When you go to pass a car on the left, the one that is a quarter of a mile away speeds up.

4) I've said this before.  In McAllen, they drove slow on city streets.  They have streets that are 45, 50 and 55 mph zones and they drive like snails.   OTOH, on the highway through the valley they drive like nuts going 80 and 85.   I think it is because there are so many illegals.  A new strategy is to keep Border Patrols close to city police so that when a stop is made they can try and catch them.  Very illegal.

5) I now send my reports via USPS in a $5.75 overnight envelope with a tracking number.  I got to the post office before 8 a.m. so I could head home.  They don't open until 9 a.m. and then the clerks take an additional ten minutes to set up.  Wow, things have changed.  There was a line all the way through the building.  There is a postal workers union, right?

Rvs rock and I say that from experience.  Hotels are mediocre.  They could do so much better.  These are not five star but ones in the $100 range.   Still quite a bit for an eight hour sleep.  The hot breakfasts they advertise suck, the carpets are usually dirty and well I could go on.  But that's what I do and until I can drag along the travel trailer that's how it will be.

So, Tuesday I fly from McAllen to Dallas to do this all over again.   Kaufman, Tx and Corpus Christi.