Friday, April 29, 2016

Taxes Done!

A couple of hours with TurboTax and I am done. I NetFiled the returns and sent money direct from my bank account. A few thousand dollars poorer but done for another year.

Norma and the house sitter are busy emptying the motorhome. She was good enough to stick around to help us get settled in. It is great to have the help and it also encourages us to get it done a lot quicker than normal.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


We got home the day before yesterday after spending one night at Brooks and LindaLee's and have been busy unloading the motorhome. It is a big job that will take several more days.

My first job was to set up the new TV and attach the new Shaw Direct receiver Norma bought as soon as we got into Canada. It is all working just fine and it is nice to have the much bigger screen in the bedroom. I still have to deal with Shaw on the two PVR's that packed it in over the winter. They will not just allow you to say, "They are broken" and send you new ones, they make you conduct endless tests and re-sets (which I have already done) before they will replace them. I will call them when I have an hour to spend.

I have to drive downtown to get photographed for my new drivers license which expires tomorrow. The rest of the day will be taken up with filing our income taxes.

Oh yes, there was a letter awaiting us telling us that Norma's Mazda has been recalled because of a faulty ignition switch that could burst into flames at any moment. That would be exciting!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Last Full Day In The US

We are in Port Angeles and will catch the 2:00 PM Black Ball Ferry to Victoria tomorrow. Tonight we will remember everything we bought in the USA and check out the booze supply. As usual, we are over but not outrageously, depending on your (and Canada Customs) definition of outrageous.

We planned on driving to Tacoma Sams Club for new 6 volt RV batteries but then we remembered there was a Costco in Tumwater. I called them and they had 6 volt Interstate batteries on for $83, same price as Sams Club. We parked in their lot, bought the batteries and I asked the muscular young guy if he would lift the old ones out for me once I had them disconnected and he said he would be happy to. Our Costco card is from Mexico and we thought it had expired but no, they said, it was good for three more months, She must have bought a multi-year membership.

So anyway, I proceeded back to the motorhome, turned off everything electrical and proceeded to undo all the nuts and bolts on the batteries, keeping track of where everything came from. Just when I finished the battery guy brought the new batteries over on a cart, pulled the old batteries out and dropped the new ones in. I thanked him, re-attached all the wires, tightened everything down and tested it. It works.

The voltage is a little low (12.2 V at rest) so we will use the generator for a while tonight to top up the charge and then plug it in at Brooks' tomorrow night.

The tight battery compartment under the stairs. Note the 4/12 date stamp on the old batteries. Exactly four years old. The thing on the wooden block is the 200 amp circuit breaker for the 1500 watt inverter.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Oh, No!

It is a good thing I don't fly off the handle easily! The motorhome must have sensed we were close to getting home and that we had not spent enough on repairs this season so this is what happened:

1) We have noticed a small change in the way the water pump works and sounds over the past week. Two days ago we noticed a puddle of water under the motorhome after it was parked overnight. A taste test told me it was fresh water, not antifreeze or sewer. I then noticed the water level in the fresh water tank had gone down more than expected. Further investigation found a very wet area under and around the water pump. We had replaced the original pump in Chetumal, Mexico with a new one I carried as a spare. We stopped at Camping World today to see if they had a new one and they did not. We will try the next Camping world and if they do not have one, I will order one on eBay from home. Either way it will be around $80 US. Problem #1 solved!

2) As we were driving today we could hear a periodic "beep" from the living area but could not figure out what it was. We parked and shut off the truck engine. As I walked past the inverter I noticed it read 11.9 volts. Oh, oh! the two six volt batteries that I installed in 2012 are shot! The "beep" we heard was every time the extra fridge switched on, demanded power and caused the voltage to drop and alarm. I called the nearest Sam's Club in Tacoma, WA and they have the batteries in stock. It means a slight detour but not bad, we will still easily make it to Port Angeles via the Tacoma Bridge tomorrow. The batteries are $85 US each and I need two. Not the end of the world. Not even close. It's only money.

3) Oh, Yes. Meineke checked the fault codes associated with the 'check engine' light and the code reported a vacuum problem in the left cylinder bank. This was the same thing I had repaired in Palm Springs last year. Then, as now, it was set off by a steep climb. I just had him reset the alarm and we shall see what happens. It is a cheap fix (new vacuum line) so I am not worried.

4) Both Shaw Direct (StarChoice) receivers need replacing when we get home. One will not record and only one of the two built in receivers works. It started acting up as soon as we left home in November. The second one in the bedroom constantly re-boots and sometimes has problems playing back a recorded program. This just started a few weeks ago. Norma is buying a new one with her casino winnings and I will send the two broken ones in for warranty replacement, Not a problem.

But please, no more problems this trip, OK?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Hood River, OR

We stopped early at Hood River Walmart. There is another motorhome here so we are assuming their policy is the same as last year. Overnighters are welcome but there is a city bylaw against camping so there is always a chance that a bored cop could kick us out. I doubt that ever happens.

The "Check Engine" light came on when we negotiated a long, steep hill yesterday morning. I called the Meineke Car Center in Portland and they will read and reset it for free tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow night we should be at Chehalis, WA and then Port Angeles the next night. If all works out as planned we will be back in Canada on the 25th or 26th at the latest. Perfect timing!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Expensive Stop At Pendleton, OR

We had a short day on the road today, three hours on I-84 to Pendleton, OR. Norma has been pining to replace the 29" Toshiba TV in the bedroom with something bigger and Walmart has their 39" Vizio on sale for $229 US which is $290 CAN. A good deal and with a little ingenuity the old 29" Toshiba will replace the 21" Vizio in the front of the motorhome. That 21" will either replace the 19" in the back or if that doesn't work out, replace the 19" in the guest bedroom at home.

Simple, eh? I will have to refer back to this post to remember where everything goes!

Ontario, OR

We are in Ontario, Oregon! Unlike Ontario, Canada, it is HOT here. It was in the very high 80's when we arrived at 3:00 and now at 9:00 PM it is still 77. We did the secondary highway US 30 most of the way from Jackpot, joining up with I-80 about 70 miles from the Idaho-Oregon border. It will be a shorter run to Pendleton, OR tomorrow. Or who knows, we may go further if we feel like it.

We have a couple of things we need to buy in Oregon where there is no sales tax.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Another Lucky Day!

Remember the $237 US speeding ticket I got in Texas? The cop told me I had 24 hours to call them and make arrangements to pay. I called almost every day only to be told "it's not in the system yet". Finally, this morning after 20 days, it was finally 'in the system'! I asked the clerk to confirm the amount and to give me the case # so I could send in the payment.
She told me it was now possible to pay on line and the amount would be $237. "But just a minute" she said. She came back after a few seconds and said that it was unfair to make me call that many times and that they were going to waive the $125 fine. I would only have to pay the court fees of $100 plus tax which will total $107. Norma says I should have argued that they waive that as well but I am going to let sleeping dogs lie.
Now to see if their on line payment system will accept a Canadian credit or debit card. The clerk said to try tomorrow morning when it would be updated with the new amount.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


We had company for dinner last night. Our friends Kevin and Ruth had contacted us a few days ago saying they would be driving through Las Vegas on Saturday and would stop by if we were home. Yesterday afternoon sure enough they parked in the check-in area and walked over to our rig. We chatted while Ruth took advantage of the park's coin operated laundry and a couple of hours passed quickly. Norma thawed a bag of jambalaya and cooked some rice while Kevin and Ruth looked for a place to park for the night. Their rig is evidently too old (pre-2000) to stay in the RV park so they tried a casino down the road but were turned away by their "no camping" policy. Finally they settled in the WalMart down the street and walked back to our park.

Discussions continued until dinner was ready which we enjoyed with a bottle of wine. Time passed quickly as it always does and they walked back to their rig. This morning they are off to Utah to do some exploring before heading up to their summer job at a Saskatchewan campground. It was great seeing them, it has been a year since our paths last crossed.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Day 2 - Viva Las Vegas!

It was a short drive to Las Vegas yesterday. You really have to watch gas prices as they can vary as much as sixty cents a gallon from station to station. I got burned once at a Shell station in Wikiup that charged $3.09 in spite of a sign that advertised $2.99. Just down the road at the Wikiup Trading Post it was $2.49. I have to start using Gas Buddy!

We checked into The Roadrunner RV Park for three days at $18 per day. This has become a regular stop for us over the years. It is clean with great showers and a nice (if a little cool) pool and is close to a few casinos if we want to wander through one. No decision on that yet.

I am trying to pay the speeding ticket I got in Texas two weeks ago. I have called them several times including this morning but they keep saying it is 'not in the system' yet. The ticket says if it is not paid by the 20th of April then I have to appear in court. I guess I should call back and try to talk to someone other than the clerk who tells me not to worry about it, just keep trying. I don't want to find the fine has doubled because I did not pay in time nor do I want to get arrested next time I am in Texas.

The wind blew hard all night but did not blow the dish out of line. Both Starchoice receivers are giving us trouble. One re-boots every few minutes and the other has one channel dead. They both need replacing once we get home.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

First Day Heading Home

Early Start? Well, No...

So... Unhooking the water at 7:00 AM and the whole tap assembly broke off the rusted pipe! Fountain of water and me trying to stop it with a rag, wine cork, rag and concrete block (that one sort of worked). Finally our neighbour found the maintenance guys and by 8:30 they had it stopped. Good thing it is warm (72 F), I was soaked but did not even bother to change. Got on the road by 10:00.

Four hours later we pulled into Dazzo's RV Park in Wikiup, AZ. This is a favorite stop for us as it is exactly half way between Mesa and Las Vegas. It is a Passport America park with full hookups at $10 per night. It has 30 amp power which is running the air conditioning in the 85+ heat here. 

I had to laugh as we were checking in. There was a large Donald Trump portrait beside the desk leaving no question as to what Dazzo's politics are. I told Norma I was going back to the office with my Bernie Sanders shirt on!

It is always easy to find Starchoice in this park as the rout to the satellite is in the exact same direction as the RV is pointed. I got the skew and altitude set and dropped the dish onto the mount. I immediately heard the sound come on and a quick check showed a perfect signal! This was possibly the fastest setup ever!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Reminder - Change your Propane Detector!

Our built in propane alarm started going off unexpectedly over the last few months and last night it went off several times in the night. I checked and reset it three times and finally at about 2:00 AM, pulled the fuse.
This morning I went down to Camping World and bought a new one ($59 US) and installed it. I noticed the old one was made in 2004 and expired in 2014! I guess it was due for replacement!

Then I checked to see how old my Smoke and CO detectors are and see they will both be five years old on April 20. I guess I will be making a trip down to Home Depot for replacements.

EDIT* A little on line research tells me they are good for ten years, not five. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Edmonton House - Early Photo

Here is my Edmonton childhood house shortly after it was completed. As I said, it was very small, maybe 20 X 25 feet. The corner closest to us is the living room and at the back of the house was the kitchen. On the other side of the entry was my parents bedroom, behind that the bathroom and then my 6 X 8 bedroom. In my bedroom closet was the ladder leading to my sister's long, narrow room in the attic. My brother had a room and a simple shower in the basement. My sister was 18 when I was born and my brother 16.

​I once asked my sister how she felt about having to sleep in the attic and if it bothered her having to give her bedroom up to her baby brother when I was born. She said it was heaven because she still had had a room to herself. She had always shared with at least her brother and often with her mother as well.

Edit* After studying the photo and digging into my memory, I am going to modify my 20X25 = 500 sq. ft. estimate and reduce it to maybe 18X22 = 396 Sq. ft. It was really a tiny house.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Edmonton House

This is the house in Edmonton, Alberta our family lived in when I was born in 1945. My parents sold it in 1955 when we moved to Vancouver.

11407 84th St. NW Edmonton, Alberta

Photo taken by Google in 2014. The house looks much nicer than the last time my sister and I drove by it. At that time it was obviously a rental and was in terrible shape. It needed a paint job, the front window was broken and the yard was full of junk. It now looks much the same as it did in 1955 except the stairs used come down the side of the entry, joining up with the sidewalk. They now appear to just end on the lawn.

The house was tiny, somewhere around 500 square feet. My sister's room was in the attic and my brother's was in the basement. Mine was about 6X8 and on the main floor and the stairs (more like a ladder) to the attic were in my room. Mom and dad built the house as they went, they never borrowed a cent. They bought the material they needed for the week and dad built it by himself after work and on the weekends. As soon as the walls were up and the roof on they moved into it so they could use what they were paying on rent to buy material to finish it quicker. There were no neighbors on either side when it was built, just empty lots.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Back In Mesa!

And exhausted after all the early mornings, hill climbing in SMA, driving and trying to keep up with two 58 year olds who go to the gym every day! We will hang around Mesa for a few days and then head north with a couple of days stop at the Roadrunner RV park in Las Vegas on the way. My drivers license expires on April 29 so we have to be back in BC by the 28th.

Monday, April 4, 2016


Wandering around Silver City Old Town yesterday we found the Bernie Sanders Campaign office! I opened the door to find a meeting going on but they stopped and we had a great chat, comparing Canadian and American politics and the pros and cons of the word 'Socialist" which I am proud to claim. We finally left with a supply of t-shirts, bumper stickers and buttons. Fun time!

The two women running the office love Canada because several years ago they went to Vancouver to get married, long before it was allowed in the US.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Silver City, New Mexico

Many times we have driven through Deming, NM on I-10 wishing we could make the detour to Silver City. Something always stopped us, not wanting to use the gas to drive the motorhome up to 6000 feet, the weather or not having the time. Today we had no motorhome, the weather was perfect and we had the time or at least could make the time. No excuses!

So off we went on NM 180. Uphill. We got to Silver City and stopped at the Visitor's Center where we got a quick but thorough talk on the city. We asked about hotels and she told us the historic hotels were the same price as the chains and were right in the heart of town, walking distance from everywhere. That sold us so we checked into the Palace Hotel, a small, almost European 18 room hotel at $56 plus tax. The room is small but quaint with the sink, the shower and the toilet in three different rooms.

Built in 1882 the Palace opened as a hotel in 1900. The town itself was founded in 1870 as the center of silver mining. It prospered as such until 1893 when the silver markets crashed. While nearby cities became ghost towns and crumbled away, Silver City hung on, becoming the charming tourist center it is today.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Alpine Texas, Holland Hotel

Built in 1928 and re-built in 2011, the Holland Hotel is again (still) the beating heart of the Big Bend country! We have driven by it twice in the past but this time I was determined to have a closer look. We checked out the dining room but balked at the $30 and up meals. But it was well worth the visit in any case. It really is a grand old hotel.


The 51%ers. This is a loophole in the new "Open Carry" law that allows responsible business owners to keep the gun freaks from scaring customers out of their businesses. It is a declaration that a business derives 51% or more of their revenues from the on premises sale of alcohol, thereby making the open carry of weapons illegal. To say the gus freaks are upset is an understatement. This is a voluntary declaration, not subject to an audit, something the NRA would dearly love to volunteer to do. The 51% signs are very common in Texas proving that not all Texans are crazy!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Hard To Find A Room In Alpine

No room at the Inn! We decided to stop in Alpine, TX to visit our RV'ing friend Mike who made the trek up to Canada to see us last summer. Unfortunately, Mike is not here right now but he suggested a hotel We called and it was full. In fact every place we called was full! It is "Orientation Week" at the local University so the students and parents have every room in town booked. Except one! We found a vacancy at the Sunday House for $89 plus tax. A little steep for us but what the heck, at least I didn't get another speeding ticket today.

There is a neat old time diner near here where we stopped a few years ago. We will head over there for dinner later. 

Winter is coming to the Big Bend country. It rained and hailed last night and we drove through a little rain today. Time to head home.