Sunday, February 28, 2021

Car Trip To San Miguel de Allende

For us, it was like a new world out there.  We hadn't really been anywhere since March 2020.  I know we could do some things close to home and that travel isn't restricted in Mexico, but with the now 10,000 deaths in Monterrey alone, we hung around the quinta.

We had everything packed and ready to go on Friday night.  One thing that may have held us back a bit was a large Zoom meet up with friends from Mexico and the U.S.  There were 16 of us online and although we started at 8 p.m., said our goodbyes and signed off at 10 p.m. The group stayed up until 3 a.m.  It was fun and we had a couple of drinks.  Getting up at our usual 5:15 was a bit slow but we were on the road by 7:30.

We took our usual route through the mountains instead of driving through Monterrey to Saltillo.  Many people who have come this way know the mountain highway from Linares to San Roberto or Hwy 57.  If you don't, I should have a video uploaded some time tomorrow.  I had purchase a dashcam but the darn thing doesn't like the memory card even after formatting.  We will go to the Steren store here in SMA in the morning to see if they can get it going.  We took some short and sometimes shakey videos from a cell phone.

It was a fun day and we have so many great memories of this route that not only takes us to SMA, but many cities in San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas, Hidalgo, Coahuila, Veracruz and more.  We drove straight through only stopping for pee breaks.  First stop was Linares, which is    miles from home.  I fixed a sandwich and we had brought along some hard boiled eggs and a small salad.  Great way to start the day.

Crossing the mountains is, well, not slow going but it's a curvy mountain road and one that anybody heading south that crosses at Laredo or Reynosa should try not to mention stopping by to stay hello.  We are now on Boondockers Welcome and offer a place to stay with 30 amp service and water.  Small rigs but we have other places nearby as well.

As you can see we saw some new things, and our lunch stop at Los Potosino was the first time we've had fried chicken in more than a year.  At the rest stop they have Churches, Dominos, Doña Totas, and other restaurants plus a convenience store and of course a gas station.  They have a large trucker's lot where you can park overnight as well as in San Pedro which comes first right after passing San Roberto.  We ate on the road to save time.  The second toll before getting to Matehuala had system problems.  It wasn't backed up to long but enough to make it irritating. 

On some of our bathroom stops we noticed that charging stations are located everywhere even Tesla.

We had a concern entering SMA.  I don't know if I mentioned it but they have COVID checkpoints set up coming from various cities.  You have to have a QR code from your hotel or restaurant.  Well, Airbnb doesn't have QR codes and we thought we might have an issue.  We had a copy of our reservation but we entered from Hwy 57 at Doctor Mora to Los Rodriguez.  When we entered SMA there was no checkpoint.

We found our apartment right away, no issues.  Very quiet building but only 375 sq feet.  A bedroom, bath, and a small living room divided by a counter/bar and a kitchen.  It is very well equipped and a good place to hunker down for the week.  We won't be doing much and Juan will be teaching in the mornings online.  We are happy here and the price is right at $23 USD per night. Yes, that doesn't sound like much but it has everything including high speed internet, Netflix, smart television, a great kitchen for cooking and everything works.  We didn't have to bring a thing (although we always come prepared).

So now we can relax and enjoy the week although we will be at the apartment.  We saw lots of people both Mexican and foreigners on the streets not wearing or carrying a mask.  It's not mandatory here.  Sad.  Guanajuato has had some very heavy COVID spikes in the last year.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

After The Arctic Blast 2021 Northern Mexico (In A Video)

An attempt at a video.  It's a learning process and I'm sure I'll get the hang of it.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Northern Mexico - No Gas and No Electricity

I know for a fact that the southern part of the U.S. is experiencing the arctic blast.  My brother in Kansas City is reporting -13F at night for the last week.  Now there are rolling blackouts.  In Texas, friends have not had electricity for more than 48 hours and their stockpile of wood for the fireplace is running low and no resolution in sight.

What's happening here?  We lost power yesterday morning for about 45 minutes.  By that time I had the generator hooked up and running.  We had internet, television, lights and chargers going and then it came back on.  We could have used solar but very limited as the days have been pretty cloudy.  We end up with about 12.4 on the batteries.  Today I will hook up the trailer to keep it charged just in case other methods might fail.  We have fuel for the generator and two very long extension cords which power everything we need.  2.7 million customers were without power here for two major reasons; freezing gas ducts and U.S. had to cut us off to conserve energy in the states.  

Our radiant heat is burning the LP but the house is warm (considering it's cement block).  The heat pump is running in the bedroom so as long as there is power we're good.   We also have the backup of the Mr. Heater Buddy in the trailer and I can move that into the bedroom if the power goes out again for any length of time.  Our radiant heater in the living area is 24,000 btus.  I'm sure in the worst case we could, with the help of a fan, keep the house and one-bedroom warm.   I'm just trying to balance the power to keep the electricity down and also regulate the LP use.  

We have had snow at the 1000 meter level and there are lots of pictures.  Our in-town national park, Chipinque, was full of visitors playing in the snow.   Yesterday I had to get out and go to the bank to make my social security payment.  Ice was on the SUV so I warmed it up.  The defroster took some time to melt the ice.  No one on the streets and the bank was empty.  Being the 15th of the month I was for sure thinking there would be a line.  These days, most payments are made online, and paychecks and social security checks are paid via direct deposit.  

I haven't been out for my exercise since Friday but at -4C it's too cold for me.  I could bundle up but someone told me I couldn't go out to play 😀.  I made chili which we've had twice to go with the cold.  I'm actually enjoying the time.  I like cold weather.  It reminds me of the weekly hikes we took as kids.  That was my dad's way of entertaining us and getting out of the house.   It was a good introduction to nature.  Between those hikes, camping and Boy Scouts, I learned a lot along with my siblings.   So much so that we have a botanist, marine biologist, environmental science to mention a few.  Lots of bird watchers in the family and I enjoy that but never made it an official hobby.  I prefer digging in the dirt.

The cold here is definitely not like the U.S. or Canada now and we feel for everyone who is suffering from the effects of the arctic blast.   Let's hope don't have another one this season and a few years before the next.  

Friday the 12th, we celebrated 36 years.  We had a nice dinner here at home ordering from our favorite Italian restaurant in town.  Very good food, nice table setting, and music.  A lot of fun and it continued through the long cold weekend.  Be safe out there, keep your distance and please, please keep your mask on!

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Preparing For The Arctic Blast, It's Still On It's Way

First an update on our friend Brenda the photographer who has COVID.  She's still in the hospital after two months.   She can now answer yes/no by blinking and also squeezes the nurses' hands.  Other than that, she is still having issues with her kidneys and other functions.  She will probably be one of the long haulers.  Juan's BIL lost two cousins last week to COVID they were anti-maskers.   The fight goes on here in Mexico and although the president now has a negative test result after his 16 days of COVID, he says he refuses to wear a mask.  It's almost as if he wants people to be sick.  

The vaccines have been negotiated various times and still, we have no results.  The registration system they created for people over 60 crashed continually for over a week until people gave up.  There were only two fields; your name and your CURP (federal registration number).   Finally, we were able to get in.  So now, we are happy to be registered to receive the vaccine in the next 15 years based on the 717,000 received so far.  We are getting a shipment this week of another 400,000.  Yippie!   We decided that it is time to make some travel decisions but those will be in an rv with no contacts.  We won't be flying anywhere for the next few years and until we are vaccinated and the borders opened, we won't be rving in the U.S.  I just need to get out.

To fight that urge to get out, I decided to do this the other day.  We had purchased a tent for family use about five years ago and it sat in the storage shed.  It would have been used for the family when they brought the kids but never cared much for our rules so they pretty much stopped coming.  I took it out Sunday morning and set it up.  My first thoughts were that it would be a huge fiasco.   I searched for a video and found several on Amazon that shows how to set up the tent.  It took all of 1.5 minutes to set it up and the same taking it down.  Truly amazing.  This came to mind because our trailer awning is wearing out and I never liked it anyway.  The support arms always rattled even with a slight wind or someone walking in the trailer.   I know there are pop up rooms out there that literally pop up like this tent we have but needs to be square or rectangular and best without a pitched roof but a low-profile roof.  When it sits up against the trailer I want to be able to walk from the door to the popup room.  Any suggestions are appreciated.

We are waiting for the arctic blast and here is what is happening now.  Last Saturday it was 36C/97F and since then a balmy low nineties.  Today although hot, the air is thick and the sky is low and cloudy.  The forecast says we may have snow on Monday but if I say we are, it will peter out and you won't see our yard in white.  It happened just a few years ago.  But as I post the weather forecast, it is changing already.  We had our LP tank filled for our radiant heater and the larder is full.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Tioga and George, Two Years After - Vaccine Registration
Funny how friends, friendships even virtual ones can affect a person.  Two years ago today, it was announced on George's blog that he had passed away.  228 comments were written on that post before comments were closed just two days later.  I bet George never would have thought that his blog would attract so many followers.  

I read something on his blog at least twice a week as if the blog was still active.  I choose different topics or check a specific date that corresponds to the day I am reading his blog but in different years.  there are 16 years to choose from, 2003 to 2019.

I still use his MsTioga Magazine.  When I am looking for a product that I remember he mentioned, I can usually find it in his glossary.  Just this week I wanted to recommend an electronic contact spray to someone who had refrigerator computer board issues.  It is great for reviving contacts as well as keeping battery posts clean.  We have a Mexican version that I use but since the person was in the states I thought it would be better to recommend what George used.  Sure enough, I found it in the glossary with a short write up page and a story he tells about using it.  Give credit where credit is due.  I remember buying our rv and storing it in McAllen.  An old story but it was George's boondocking stories that really struck my interest.  Good memories George, and thanks for sharing so much of your wonderful vagabond life with us.   

I mean, how many people had a Datastorm satellite and solar panels on their rv rooftops in 2003?  Maybe a lot and I was just a newbie who knew nothing about it.  But it sparked my interest and got us boondocking with solar.

Here is his first post from May of 2003:

Also, on February 3, 1910, and February 5, 1911, my parents were born.  Married in 1939, they were together 58 years.  They passed away in 1997.  Hard to imagine that they were born 110 years ago.  That's life.

Mexico's vaccine registration webpage is finally up and running.  It is still hobbling a bit, but we did get in after two hours of constant attempts and we are now registered.  There are no more vaccines in Mexico, but they will be calling us to set the date and location when they do receive them.  Should our state come through first, or the option to buy directly that will be fine with me.  Just covering all our bases.  This has been another black mark on the president.  Things are not well-planned, thrown together and this is the result.  Imagine, a webpage that requires your government ID number and telephone, and they couldn't get that right.  It was down for over a week after it was announced.