Wednesday, April 25, 2012
I finally got everything entered and discovered we owed $1,100 between us. Not bad, could be worse. I then did the tax program's built-in review and it suggested splitting our income. Why not? After doing this change, we owed only $450 between us! Very manageable!
I will leave it in the computer for a day or two and then send it in. This is a big worry off my mind!
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
My new desktop computer was waiting for me and I fired it up and started deleting the garbage that comes with new computers. The process did not seem to take as long as it usually does. This is the first Acer I have bought, maybe that is the reason. Tomorrow I will attach the laser printer I bought on the way home. It will really be nice not having to constantly deal with empty or dried up ink jet reservoirs.
Our house sitter has done a great job of sorting the mail. The usual pile we are faced with when we get home is greatly reduced. I easily found the tax program I ordered online and loaded it on the new machine. Tomorrow we will find all the tax related mail and start entering it.
Anyway, I just wanted to let everyone know we are home safe and sound. We will be busy for the next few days and may not have much to report. Everyone have a great day and thanks for sticking with us.
I will do a budget comparison between this year back in Mexico and last year in the USA. I will have it within a few days.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
We drove off the ferry in Victoria and up to the inspection booth. He asked how long were we away? Five and a half months, four of those in Mexico. How much in goods are you bringing back? $1,439. How much wine? We thought we had four bottles but when we were sorting everything out last night we found two more, so we have six. We will throw out two bottles if we have to. How much liquor other than the wine? More than we are allowed but it is all open, partly full bottles. How many cigarettes? Four cartons. Four? Yes, two each. You are only allowed one each. Oh, sorry, I thought we were allowed two. Is that all you have? Yes. Welcome back to Canada, have a good day.
As a bonus, the ferry made an error measuring the rig. We are 49.5 feet tip to tail. Usually they say 49 feet and once in a while, 50. Today he measured it, wrote out the slip for me to take to the cashier and told us which lane to go to. As I was walking back to pay, I looked at the paper to see what he wrote. It said, "Motorhome 31 ' , trailer 7'" That is a total of only 38 feet! I thought for a minute about questioning it but quickly reconsidered and just paid what they asked. It cost us $260 to go to the States and only $160 to come back! Good deal!
We pulled into the Port Angeles Walmart along with six other rigs and had a nice quiet night. Norma added up all our purchases for the past 5 1/2 months and surprisingly, we are almost at our $1,500 limit! We did not realize we bought all that much but all added together, it was about $1,400. The new laser printer and BluRay player helped. We are way over on our booze limit but we will do as we always do, fess up to everything and offer to dump some out. All the bottles are partly empty so they always give us a break. We are obviously not bringing it in for resale and they tend to treat RV's more like "homes" than vehicles. Hopefully this year will be the same.
We are in the ferry lineup now. It is 7:30 and the boat loads at 8:00 We should be at Brooks and Linda's by noon.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
After a steep climb over the hills on the way to the Columbia River, the check engine light came on again! Very annoying! We tried to find a Meineke Car Center to get it checked and hopefully reset again but the first one the GPS lead us to was no longer there and the second was blocked by road construction. It will have to wait.
We headed up I-5 in a pouring rain storm and pulled off at Centralia and it's very RV friendly Walmart. We stocked up on a few things that we wanted to take home like Tilamook cheese and cheap USA butter and settled down to watch TV. Tomorrow we will drive to Port Angeles for the night and catch one of the two Saturday ferries to the Island. The party is over!
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
We headed out intending to drive about 260 miles to Hood River and it's Walmart but we had to stop in Burns to dump (no dumping at Crystal Crane) at the Chevron station. There was a Les Schwab Tires just down the street and we had a slow leak in one of the dolly tires. It turned out to be a nail and while we were there we asked them to check and adjust all the tire pressures. There was no charge for the flat repair! We have had several free flat repairs from Les Schwab over the years and bought our last set of motorhome tires from them.
All this delay made us late getting on the road so when we got to the tiny town of Maupin on Hwy 197 it was after 5:00 so we looked for a place to stay. There were signs pointing to a city owned RV park so we went to look. It is a tiny park on the river with no pull throughs but there is also a large gravel parking area across the street. It was posted as parking with a note to pay at the city RV park office. We pulled in and I asked how much to park over there with no hookups. $20. I asked how much for the RV park and it is $20 as well. Hardly seems fair as we have no hookups. Oh well, I don't want to unload the car and dolly for one night. We do get their WIFI over here and I set up the Starchoice dish. I will watch the Canucks..... They are down 0 - 3 games and could be eliminated tonight. The best team in the league getting trounced by one of the worst!
Monday, April 16, 2012
We got to the Walmart in Winnemucca only to find my Virgin Broadband did not have a signal and there were no free WIFI signals available. We were dark! I set up the Starchoice so at least I could watch the hockey game. This is really not "etiquette" while parked in Walmart where you are just supposed to "park" and not "camp". You are not even supposed to extend your slide but Norma had spent about $150 in the store so I felt we had more than paid for our parking. I managed to set the dish up between the car and the motorhome where it was really hard to notice so I was in "stealth mode". I may as well have saved the effort as it was a terrible game for the Canucks who are down 0 - 3 in the series.
We left this morning heading into Oregon without a clear destination in mind. We were just going to drive until we got tired. We were on the same route as last year which took us past the Crystal Crane Hot Springs and it's $9 Passport America rate. As we neared the hot springs the wind and rain started up so the decision was made. We pulled in and I ran over to register. When I got back to the rig I was already soaked so I stopped long enough to plug in the power. This is not good for the cold I am fighting off!
After an hour the rain stopped and the sun came out so I set up the dish. It went pretty easy and moments after we got the signal it started to rain again. We are nicely hunkered down here and I just might make my way over to the hot springs later for a soak. The WIFI is great here. The $9 rate is just a "teaser" for the first night only but the second night is still only $18 less 10% Good Sam Club discount so two nights for just over $25 is not bad at all. If we decide to stay. It would let me watch the hockey game tomorrow night. For what that is worth....
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Wunderground.com is calling for 45F today with a chance of thunderstorms. Warmer weather (54ish) is on the way starting tomorrow. I think we will stay hunkered down here for the day where we have electricity, water and Starchoice. The bare necessities of life! There is another electric heater stored in one of the outside bins that I will have to brave the elements to find.
I miss the Tropics!
Friday, April 13, 2012
We got an early start and headed north. As we neared Tonopah where we stayed last year, I asked Norma if she wanted to stop there. It was only a little after noon but 1) there is a Canucks game tonight and I wanted to set up Starchoice and 2) it was colder than heck and I wanted power so we could run the electric heater overnight. The local casino has an RV park with pull-throughs and only charges $18 per night with Good Sam.
It is so cold I almost changed my mind about setting up the dish. We had problems last year finding the signal here and I did not want a repeat performance. I tried finding a site on the Internet where I could watch the game but was not sure it would work. Finally I went out and tried the dish. I had the settings from the Internet and as I swung the dish, Norma yelled, "There it is"! I had found it within a few seconds! Probably my best time ever! The dish is tucked in between the motorhome and the car where it is protected from the wind and I put a concrete block on the mount to hold it in place. Go Canucks!!!!
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Guess what this is??
Hint: The picture was taken in 1956.
It's a hard disk drive back in 1956... With 5 MB of storage.
In September 1956, IBM launched the 305 RAMAC,The first 'SUPER' computer with a hard disk drive (HDD).The HDD weighed over a ton and stored a 'whopping' 5 MB of data.
Do you appreciate your 32 GB memory stick a little more now?
...............SORT OF GIVES A NEW APPRECIATION TO THE WORD "LAPTOP" COMPUTER.......
We headed up hwy 95 towards Las Vegas this morning with no real plans. Norma wanted to stop at a mall and then we would either find an RV park for the night or head further north. We set the GPS for JC Penny and it took us to a huge mall in Henderson, Nevada, just south of Vegas. We borrowed a wheelchair from the mall and Norma got her shopping done by about 2:00, a little too early to stop for the night and Las Vegas is a big, noisy city anyway. We got back on the highway and drove as far as Indian Springs where we pulled off the highway for gas. Right beside the gas station is a little casino with a huge parking lot in the back so we pulled in.
The parking lot is surrounded by a huge concrete block and razor wire fence with signs indicating it is US Military property and that it would not really be a good idea to climb over the fence. What it really is became clear when I walked over to the casino to register. In the doorway of the casino is a sign, "Welcome To Indian Springs, Home Of The Preditor Drone"! Yikes! Black Ops! Cyber Warfare! Over the fence are many Quonset style buildings and an air strip. A Google search suggests this is where they are developing and testing all kinds of remote controlled aerial devices including insect sized drones! That buzzing in my ear just might be one of them!
It is interesting how it works. Once you start your free play you cannot cash out until your $5 has been used up. Winnings are kept in a separate pool and the "Cash Out" button does not become operational until the $5 is used up. My winnings paid for dinner. Norma was another story however! She went through her initial $20 and then came over to "borrow" more from me...
She is still not up to walking any distances so we borrowed a wheelchair from the casino. It was a bit of a job pushing it across the sandy parking area. When we get home she is going in to see her "hip guy" to make sure she did not re-damage the old break.
The weather is great here. Mid to high 80's in the day and mid 70's at night. We are getting messages from friends to stay south for a while as it is still cool at home. However, our USA medical insurance expires at the end of the month and our taxes have to be done and sent off electronically by midnight April 30.
The party is almost over!
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
We are in the dry camping area of the Avi Casino near Laughlin, NV. It was another few hours on the road and we arrived here at about 3:00 PM. They have all-you-can-eat pasta and salad for $7.99 tonight in the buffet. We just might give that a try. The wind just came up so it will at least cool things down a little. Lots of off air digital TV to watch later. The little “Wingman” add on to the rooftop batwing antenna is sure paying for itself. There is not much need for the Starchoice in the USA. Except for hockey, football, figure skating, curling…….
The new 6 volt golf cart batteries are doing well. We have been staying in RV parks more than usual just to get a good first charge into them. We stopped for over an hour yesterday and the fridge kept running. It would never do this on the old batteries.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Another long day on the road (for us). We crossed two time zones since Mexico so we are waking up early. like 5 or 6 AM! We got on the road early after another feast of Belgian Waffles. We made one stop for Norma to get a haircut. We needed an oil change in the motorhome so we called ahead to a couple of Walmart Superstores and found one that had an RV bay in the auto center, a nail place for Norma to get a pedicure and would allow us to park overnight.
After our chores were done, I drove over to Carl's Jr and picked up dinner. We put the TV antenna up and are getting all the networks in high definition and a great signal on the Virgin Broadband stick! Life is good!
Monday, April 9, 2012
The owner of the park makes and sells pies! As I was checking in the smell of fresh apple pie permeated the office so I bought one. It was delicious! I went back to see what else she had and saw a Shoo Fly Pie. I have heard of these Southern delicacies but never tasted one. It is more like a cake in a pie shell and is made from molasses. It gets it's name from the fact that the sweet cake attracted flies when cooling on the windowsill and the cook was kept busy shooing them away. She says it is very good with coffee. We shall try it later today.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Tomorrow morning after our free waffles and coffee at this little Passport America “Fort Willcox RV Park” we will head 40 miles down the road to Benson where Norma wants to get a haircut.
Saturday, April 7, 2012
Last night I gave it a try with the USA Virgin Broadband stick and it is working! I guess it is just incompatible with the Mexican Telcel device.Too bad!
Friday, April 6, 2012
Fort Stockton is literally "in the middle of nowhere". The Texas Panhandle is very desolate. You can drive for hours on I-10 without seeing any civilization. It is the center for the area for shopping. As you drive into town there is a large statue of the native bird of the area, The Roadrunner. Wile E Coyote is probably lurking around as well.
There is a Walmart and a Lowe's grocery store as well as farm and ranch supplies. We went into Lowe's and they offered Norma an electric wheel chair which was probably a mistake because now she has two baskets to fill up. One hour and $150 later, we climbed back into the motorhome. We were going to overnight in the Walmart parking lot but it is just too hot! It is 89F inside with the AC running and probably well over 100F outside. We found a Passport America park for $10 per night (plus $2 if you run your AC and another $2 for cable TV), so $14 for the night. It is not much, a large parking lot with hookups, all pull through. There is a shower that I think I am doing to try as soon as I finish this post.
Staying here also gives me another night to soak charge the new batteries so that is a good thing.
Tomorrow night we are going to boondock near El Paso at Norma's favorite steak house. It is about twenty miles east of town and one of the things they offer is free overnight RV parking for guests. Their ulterior motive of course is that you will order an extra couple of glasses of wine from them and not have to drive. Norma will have the rib eye (as usual) and I the swordfish (as usual). It is not a cheap place but the savings in an RV park will make it so.
EDIT: Contessa’s question in the comments sent me to Google and I found out the Panhandle is not where I thought it was! It is actually the northernmost part of Texas bordered by New Mexico and Oklahoma. I always thought it was the westernmost part.
Contessa asked why they called it the Panhandle, Here is the explanation:
“The northernmost area of Texas is called the Panhandle. It is straight and narrow like the handle of a pan with the broader area of the state below it, like the bottom of a pan.”
Thursday, April 5, 2012
He wheeled them out for me and said to call if I needed help. I disconnected the old ones and lifted them out but had trouble putting the new ones in as I had to lift the battery with two hands while holding the cables out of the way with the other. Oops, not enough hands and Norma is not getting down on the floor yet. I went back and got my new amigo to give me a hand. I held the cables aside while he used his twenty some year old back to lift the batteries into place. I hooked up the cables, checked everything for tightness and water and we were done. The Sam's Club Exide batteries were $78 each, more than I paid four years ago but much cheaper than the Trojan brand.
I guess four years is enough. These batteries were used hard in mostly hot weather. I check them for water level often and try not to draw the voltage down below 12.5 so I think I did OK.
I remembered seeing a commercial from Meineke Car Care Center where they said they would do an engine computer scan for free. I drove into one of their stores in San Antonio with my tale of woe. The manager grabbed a scanner, walked out and hooked it up. He told me it was showing low fuel pressure. He said that in his experience it was probably caused by a batch of bad fuel and since I had refilled the tank several times since it came on and was having no problems, he simply reset the computer and told me to put a bottle of fuel injector cleaner and a bottle of something that removed water from the fuel. I bought a can of each from him for under $10 and he told me "no charge" for the scan and reset. It was a good day!
We headed out on I-10 towards Fort Stockton, TX but only made it less than half way. Norma was nodding off and I was feeling pretty tired myself. We pulled into a KOA near Junction, TX and found a pull through site. The office is closed until 3:00 so the one guy that was around told me to go and pay after that. I just hope it does not cost an arm and a leg! They had a tornado go through here two weeks ago that wiped out the WIFI but it seems to be working. I am on it now. It is very hot and humid. The thermometer inside reads 87 F and the outside sender is not working. I will replace the batteries.
EDIT: Not quite an arm and a leg but a good chunk of one of them. $35 less a 10% Good Sam discount. I can’t understand so many people really liking KOA. In my experience they are always under par for the price. This one has dirt roads and weak cable. I am running it through my RF amplifier.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
USA customs was a little better than usual. This time we went through the fridge and took out everything that was not frozen or canned. This was joined by all of the fresh vegies and fruit which we placed in a big bag and gave to one of the RV park workers. It will feed his family for a couple of days at least.
When we pulled up to the customs booth and were asked if we had any fresh food, we gave an emphatic "NO!" and said we gave it all away. The officer smiled and said, "Welcome to the USA". Their drug dog was having a good sniff all this time and gave his approval as well. Every other time we had some fresh food and had to go through an additional agricultural inspection. Quick and easy this time!
It was getting well into the afternoon so we headed to Laredo where we made a quick stop at the HEB grocery store. These trips are sure a lot faster when Norma can't come in the store! We then headed to the Casa Blanca State Park where we bought a pull through site for $18 plus a "Park entry fee" of $8 and settled in for the night.
The Texas songbirds woke us up this morning and we headed out for San Antonio where we were going to get the propane leak fixed. After stopping at one place that we didn't really like the look of, we phoned the Camping World in New Braunfels where we had the roof repaired three years ago. After being sent to an answering machine three times, I asked for the store manager and told him we were not going to drive 60 miles to his store only to be told they could not look at it until June. He told me to ask for him when we got there and he would make sure someone dealt with it right away.
We arrived two and a half hours before closing time, talked to Scott the manager and one of their service guys started on it. He did a pressure test and determined there was indeed a leak and then spent over an hour finding it! It was a T connector under the rig that was leaking at one of it's legs. He said he was going to cut it off, re-flare it and reattach it. If that did not work, he would have to replace the pipe. Well, it seemed to work. He did a pressure test where the pressure is supposed to hold for at least three minutes and it was still holding after ten minutes. Fixed!
I went in to pay but they did not have the bill ready and it was closing time. I said I was going to ask if we could stay in their lot overnight anyway, so why don't I just pay in the morning? They said no problem so here we are, plugged in and using free WIFI in their guarded compound. The only problem is, I don't know how much they will charge me. He worked on it for over two hours and the shop rate is around $140 per hour. However, "Propane service" is listed on the wall at $99.95 so which will it be? $100 or $280? I will know in the morning!
Monday, April 2, 2012
Well. I found it is not so simple if you happen to be a woman. Norma's clothes are stashed in many different parts of the bedroom with the majority of them under the bed. She cannot get on her knees to search under the bed right now so she asked me, "Croft, will you go under the bed and grab me my soft blue pants and that nice white and blue blouse that goes with them"? Oh boy! She has at least 479 pairs of pants under there and more than 579 blouses. I know, because I carried them out of the house when we left. Most of them are one shade of blue or another. At least I thought they were blue. I now know they are navy, teal......
Not wanting to seem uncooperative, I went under the bed and after fumbling around a bit, pulled out a nice pair of blue pants. "What are you doing? Those aren't soft. I have a sore leg"! Oh, silly me! Under I go again and after pulling out several more pairs of blue pants, all of which felt soft to me, I hit on the right pair. Back again for the blouse that "goes with them". Well, maybe it is just me, but I think all of the blouses go with them. After showing her at least twenty white and blue blouses, I finally came up with the one that "went with" the pants. My knees were killing me!
As soon as I sat back down behind the computer I heard The Question. "What are you wearing tomorrow"? I pretended not to hear her.
We have a couple of chores to get done in the USA like new batteries for the RV and the propane leak fixed. No rush! Life is Good!
Sunday, April 1, 2012
One of the items was a re-certified Acer with a Quad Core AMD processor, 4 GB of memory and a 1 TB hard drive. The OS is Windows 7 64 bit. It is all I need and for $499 less $190 "instant rebate" and free shipping, it was too good to pass up. Final cost after tax is $347.
I will probably pick up a cheap "all in one" printer at Walmart in the USA on the way through. My old printer has been misbehaving for the last year. It is wireless and I was able to print from all my computers for a while but soon it would only recognize the one it was hardwired to. The laser printer on Norma's computer was a gig disappointment from the start. It took about three minutes to print one sheet and refused to print multiple copies. It will be heading for the recycling bin at our neighborhood computer store.
So now when I get home I have to set up the new computer, rid it of the bloatware they always come with and do my taxes on it. It will be a busy few days!
On a sadder note, our friend Les had his motor scooter stolen right off the back of his motorhome while he slept in it in Puerto Penasco! It was chained on but they just cut the lock off. The park had nighttime security but they knew nothing! It was such a dependable scooter for Les. I just hope he has good luck with his Mexican insurance and will be able to replace her.
UPDATE: Well, apparently Les considered this to be some kind of British April fools Day humour! So, no stolen scooter...... I guess you have to be a Brit to understand...