Friday, June 23, 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Lazy Summer Days

Lazy days here on the coast! The weather has turned good again so there are sunny days to look forward to. Short pants weather here but not the severe heat our Arizona friends are facing, I can't imagine 120 degrees plus. We would be running the A/C 24/7!

Our niece Robin and George from Alberta dropped by on their big Harley for a surprise but always welcome visit a few days ago. They were headed for the Port Hardy - Prince Rupert ferry where George wanted to follow the Yellowhead Highway #16 back to Edmonton, visiting all the places he worked during his many years with the railroad. They spent a couple of days here while they determined the weather had changed for the worse in the north and they would be riding in the rain all the way. They made the decision to head back south to Victoria and the Port Angeles ferry to Washington State and back home that way. They are like us, no schedules, no reservations and no worries when plans change.

Brooks called to say his trip up to finish the porch would be delayed a week which is fine with us. We are still using the old concrete landing and stairs so a week delay is no problem.

Norma is working in her garden and I am getting a few odd jobs done around the place as well as catching up on my reading. Lazy summer days!

Monday, June 12, 2017


We just returned after spending a couple of days in Victoria visiting Norma's 73 year old brother who had a stroke a few weeks ago. He is in the hospital facing the confusion of having other people making decisions for him. He has a good support group of friends but was happy to have contact with his sister.

We discovered to our shock that the affordable hotels we have used in the past are now in the $200 per night range! We called Norm and Liz who we knew and worked with back in our political years. We spent a few hours catching up with each other's lives and solving the world's problems and then spent the night in their guest room. It was a very pleasant night!

Sunday morning we went back to the hospital to check in with Willea again and to make sure the staff had Norma's contact information. After an hour or so we headed back home, stopping in Qualicum Beach for a feed of fish and chips on the beach. It is about a four hour drive each way.

We are now in relaxation mode for a day or two before getting back into the job jar. We do not know exactly when Brooks is going to come back up but when he does he is bringing a roofing friend with him as Brooks is not comfortable working that high up. Things will go a lot faster with some help.

When I showed Norm and Liz the photos of our project Norm said, "You are building a Longhouse!"

Friday, June 9, 2017

All For Now

Now we can see a bit of what it will look like. Brooks and LindaLee headed back home just after noon as they have to get back to real (paying) work tomorrow and everyone was pretty wiped out from handling those very heavy timbers. I was out of commission with my ankle but LL and Brooks got all the trusses cut and two of them raised. They will be back in a week or so with a worker to finish up. So far it is looking very good! We are so lucky to have Brooks and LindaLee who gave up their "weekend" to work up here!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

End Of The Day!

End of the day! Got a lot done but I do hold Brooks back. My 72 year old legs just do not move as fast any more. Basic framing done!


Plans are written in sand, not stone and that is a good thing! We got the two main uprights dug and cemented in last night. It will be just under 200 square feet and will have a solid roof with skylights! Today we attach to the house and get the framing started. We will be short a few pieces but they will be hidden so the difference between the "store bought" and Brooks' full dimension lumber will not be visible.
Oh yes, the material is Douglas Fir, not cedar. My mistake. But Brooks assures me that fir is a very good product for the job and will last longer than me! :)
The rain woke me up at 5:00 am. I will try to go back to sleep!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Porch Day!

Brooks is coming up today with a trailer full of cedar to frame our new front porch. It is going to get very busy around here! The "plan" is framing today, decking tomorrow and the roof next week. The roof is still being discussed. Norma wants an open, pergola style while Brooks is suggesting a closed, shingled style, extending the existing peak. That decision will be made tomorrow.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Front Porch

Brooks just had a customer bail out of a project after the material was ordered and he is stuck with a trailer full of cedar that he thinks is enough to build a front porch on our house! He is bringing it up next week! 

The new porch will cover the small concrete landing and stairs currently at the front of the house and will extend out a bit and along under the living room window. It will have a pergola style roof and will be a great place to sit and enjoy a morning coffee or lunch!

Exciting times! I just have to pay his bill at the saw mill, buy the food and beer, pay for his gas and all the extra bits and pieces :). 

But we are getting a porch!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Mazda Maintenance

Norma's 1998 Mazda 626 just keeps running and gets pretty much ignored maintenance wise. Oh, it gets oil changes, tires and whatever else it needs when something fails but it has never had a real tuneup and at 181,000 KM (112,000 Miles) still had it's original timing belt.

So a few days ago we decided to give it a treat and sent it in. Changing the timing belt involves getting inside the engine so as long as he was in there it made sense to change a couple of other things as well so with a tuneup it turned into a pretty big job.

The mechanic called at noon to say it was ready to be picked up and the bill was $1,120 CAN ($830 US). It runs the same as it did before but now it will be good for another couple of hundred thousand kilometers. Norma likes it but it's not my favorite car I have owned, that title probably belongs to my first car, a 1959 Volvo 144, the old fastback model I bought in 1963. the year I graduated and got my first full time job. It was a rally car, fun to drive and indestructible!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Solar Panel On!

Finished! I got a late start because I waited for Norma's lawn guy to arrive so he could pass the panel up to me on the roof. I thought of doing it with a rope but it could easily have swung into the side of the motorhome.

The aluminum brackets bolted on easily.
 Yup, lots of room beside the back panel.

Dave's bracket screwed in place on a bed of very soft, sticky butyl rubber. This will be covered with a good coating of Dicor self leveling sealant.

All done. The old panels really needed a cleaning!

All three panels wired in to the back of the controller. EDIT: I have now increased the size of the output wires shown to #10.

and back on the wall!

It is getting harder and harder to climb up and down and to work on my knees up there but I got it done in a couple of hours. The batteries are happily charging at 14.7 volts. Everything is good!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Continuing Solar Panel Install

Didn't get much accomplished on the panel today. My friend Dave had some two inch aluminum angle so I went over and we cut off a ten inch piece. Doris then invited me to stay for lunch on the deck which was delicious. I sure miss these former next door neighbors!

I cut the aluminum into four pieces and marked them and the sides of the panel for drilling. Norma then asked me to help her with a couple of gardening projects so that was as far as I got.

Check back tomorrow! Maybe photos.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Solar Panel Install, Part 1

So far, so good.
I decided to get a start on the new solar panel installation today even though I have no brackets to mount the panel to the roof. Tomorrow I will go downtown to buy some aluminum stock to cut and bend into right angle brackets.
I pushed two #10 wires up the conduit I installed in the fridge vent for the other two panels, climbed up to the roof, removed the vent cover and pulled enough wire to reach the spot where I will mount the new panel. The good news is, there is more than enough room to mount the panel without moving one of the older ones. What a relief!
Then I blind drilled a 1/2" hole through the metal bottom of the outside fridge enclosure to pass the wires into the solar controller beside the stairs. I will save that connection till last so I can check everything with the meter before making the final connections. The tough part is over!
Photos tomorrow.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Motorhome Parked!

Washed up and put away wet!
The motorhome is finally cleaned out, cleaned up and put away in it's parking spot. We are lucky to have room to park it on the property as most people have to rent parking for them. The house you see is our neighbour to the south. We are infringing about three feet onto his property but that area is unusable to him as it is only accessible from our property and contains his abandoned (and hopefully empty) oil tank. We make up for it by allowing them to extend their rear lawn right up to the back of my workshop, three feet or so on our side of the property line. Everyone is happy, it works out.

The dolly is in front of and partly under the motorhome and there is lots of room to park the two cars behind it, along with room for guests.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Solar Panel Arrived and New Dolly Lights!

They told me it would be two to six WEEKS. It was here in two DAYS!

I have to get the rig parked before I can install it and Norma wants to wash it first. I also have to buy some Aluminium stock or angle to make mounting brackets, Maybe on the weekend.

I did get inspired and installed some new LED running lights on the dolly so that job is done. The old ones were LED as well but I lost a lens off one.

Trump And The Dunning-Kruger Effect

This is Donald Trump to a "T"
The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein persons of low ability suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as greater than it is. The cognitive bias of illusory superiority derives from the metacognitive inability of low-ability people to recognize their ineptitude, without which they cannot accurately evaluate their actual competence.[1] - Wiki

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Another Solar Panel!

My friend Kevin emailed me with this great deal on a 100 watt monocrystalline (better than polycrystalline) Solar panel. This would even be a great deal in the USA as $150 CAN = $110 USA! Plus free shipping and no tax on solar it was too good to pass up!

I will now have 325 watts of solar feeding my four 6 volt golf cart batteries! Now my only problem is to find a place on the roof to mount it without moving one of the existing panels. When I installed them I gave no thought to future expansion!

Click to see sale

DC HOUSE 160W 12V Monocrystalline Photovoltaic PV Solar Panel Module 12V Battery Charging

EDIT: Sale is over. $220 now

Monday, May 15, 2017

Anik G1 Footprint

Further to yesterday's discussion. The future of Shaw Direct. Maybe not for a couple more years but eventually Snowbirds will start losing both HD and SD channels as programming is migrated to the new Anik G1 bird that Shaw Direct has contracted use of for 15 years, the expected lifetime of the satellite.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Shaw Direct Upgrade

I had a chat with one of the better CSR's at Shaw Direct the other day and came away a little better informed. First, they are slowly but steadily moving programming over to the third satellite that my current quad LNB dishes will not work with. I also learned that the older grey colored 500 series receivers will very soon be obsolete as they introduce compression into the programming. In the meantime, although not supporting use of their equipment while out of the country, they know many of their customers do this and are not going out of their way to stop it.

He also told me that when I will be forced to convert to the new three satellite LNB's they will only convert one dish for free. I have four dishes! Two on the house, one on the workshop for the motorhome where it is parked when not in use and one for the motorhome when we travel. This will be a problem when the time comes to change.

I am still unclear on how easy it will be to aim the new LNB dishes and if they will even be able to "see" the third satellite from down south. I have to do some research.

In the meantime I found someone selling two receivers (one 630 and one 600) on Craigslist for $125 total. I quickly responded and was the first of four people wanting them. I drove down to Courtenay to pick them up from a couple who had just given up their winter home in Yuma, AZ. He also gave me his dish which is the same older style as mine, but the smaller version. I got home, called Shaw Direct and got them both running. At the same time they turned off my two remaining 500 series receivers that are soon to stop working.

Now to do some research on the new LNB's!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Final election night totals:

Liberal 43, NDP 41, Green 3
Still many absentee votes to count and many Ridings could be overturned. Some, like our neighbouring Courtenay where the NDP won by only nine votes will be re-counted. This back and forth will go on for days.
We won in our riding by a substantial margin that will hold. I just wish there were many more.
If Green voters had of voted NDP it would have meant 16 more seats for the NDP and 16 fewer for the Liberals.
So what we have is a Minority Government with the Greens in the drivers seat. The Greens will never support the Liberals on the pipeline and tanker issues. Their members would revolt and the Party would fold. They may be tempted with the Speakers Chair or a Cabinet post and they may join the Liberals on economic issues as they have many times in the past but not on the environment.
British Columbia has always been hard left or hard right, there is no room for a wishy washy third party that can't make up its' mind which side of the fence it is on.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Final (Maybe) Battery Report

I turned the larger screen TV on at 5:30 PM last night and left it running on the inverter. Batteries were at 13 volts when I started. At 7:30 (2 hours later) I checked the batteries and they were at 12.8 volts which is 100% charge. At 9:30 (4 hours later) they were still at 12.5 volts or 80% charge! I hit the generator start button and the generator fired up without killing the inverter. This morning at 9:30 AM under a cloudy sky and drizzling rain the batteries had recovered to 13.2 volts with the solar panels. Things are exactly where I want them!

I might do the same test but with both TV's on. This would be when I want to watch a football game on one while Norma watches her stuff on the other.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Batteries, Day 2

I am very happy with my experiment today! At 5:30 the batteries read 13.7 volts as they were still getting a bit of a charge from the remaining sun. I turned on the smaller TV and it's satellite receiver and left it on for the 4 hour test period. The voltage dropped to 13 volts as soon as I turned on the TV. I left it on, tuned to CNN. Four hours later the batteries were reading 12.5 volts or 80% of full charge.

Last winter if we left a TV on for much more than two hours and tried to start the generator the start current for the generator would drag the battery voltage down so far the inverter would cut out. Tonight the inverter stayed on when I started the generator after running the TV for four hours!

Tomorrow I will see if the solar will recharge the batteries and then repeat the test with the bigger screen TV in the bedroom. Like I say, so far I am very pleased.

EDIT: I left the satellite receiver on all night (but not the TV) and when I checked at 10:30 AM the batteries were at 13.2 and by noon they were at 13.7. Very happy with this!

Battery Report

I let the batteries charge up all night the night before last and yesterday I unplugged the motorhome. It was a cloudy day but the voltage remained at 13.7 which told me they were getting some charge from the panels. I checked it again last night around 11 PM and they were sitting at 13 volts which was very good. There was nothing turned on in the motorhome, just the normal systems that always draw a little power.

I don't know what they dropped down to in the middle of the night but at 8 AM this morning they were being charged by the solar panels under a sunny sky at 14.4 volts!

Today I will connect the two TV's to their dish and turn them on for three or four hours tonight to see what they drag the voltage down to and to see how fast they recover tomorrow, whatever the weather is.

So far I am very happy.

Here are my rooftop panels. The new 100 watt panel is at the bottom and I should have mounted it further to the left (or right) to leave room for another one beside it. There still might be room, I will have to get up there and measure. As a commenter mentioned yesterday, solar costs in Canada are almost prohibitive. Last year I bought the new one At Canadian Tire for $199 Can ($145 US) but now they are back up to $550! I will wait for another sale or purchase and install it in the US where they are sometimes $110 US ($150 CAD) on Amazon.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Motorhome Battery Job

We bought two more six volt batteries in the US on the way home this year. I have not been happy with the battery system's ability to hold a charge. When boondocking we have been limited to only about three hours of TV at night before running the batteries down to 12.2 volts or 50% charge, the lowest you want to go without starting to damage the batteries. Adding two more would double the capacity.

Getting 12 volts out of two 6 volt batteries requires wiring them in series and that is how the original batteries are wired. What I had to do today was to wire the two new batteries in series as well giving me what amounts to two 12 volt batteries. These would be wired together in parallel to give 12 volts with twice the amp hours I had before. A simple series-parallel circuit. Simple. Right?

Then I cleared out the basement bin next to the side door and cut a piece of scrap 5/8 inch plywood to strengthen the floor. Norma had been using this bin to carry additional canned food so I knew it would bear the weight.

I then drove up to the local car audio shop where I bought a length of #4 power cable from their scrap bin and added a few connectors to my purchase. They charged me a very reasonable $10 for everything. I was happy.

I cut the cable into lengths for the positive and negative leads and soldered on the connectors. Red for + and blue for - and drilled a couple of holes in the side of the bin. I carefully measured voltages with my Fluke meter as I did not want a spark show when I made the final connection. Everything went well with no sparks!

I will let the batteries work together and equalize with the charger overnight and then tomorrow I will unplug the rig and start monitoring things closely making sure the two solar panels keep everything charged. If they can keep up in the current cloudy weather we are having then I have no doubt they will do well when we are down south. If necessary, I am prepared to add another 100 watt solar panel.

Sunday, April 30, 2017


Our provincial election is on May 9 but the Advance Voting was this weekend so we drove downtown and cast our ballots for the New Democratic Party candidate, Claire Travina. We are hoping the polls are correct for a change and the cursed "Liberal" Party will be thrown out of office. In Canada, the "Liberal" Party is on the right of the political spectrum and here in BC it is on the extreme right. We have suffered with them for too many years!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Taxes Done!

Taxes done! We saved a combined $800 by taking advantage of Income Sharing. Taxes NetFiled and money sent in. Copy of taxes sent to my Financial Advisor. Done for another year!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Taxes - First Look

I loaded everything into TurboTax and pushed the button. We owe $3000 between us. This is about what I expected. Neither of us has tax deducted at source with the exception of my Union Pension and my RIF (Retirement Income Fund) so we always owe. This amount will be reduced when the program files the returns and applies the Income Splitting to both forms. Just making a final check for anything I missed. It is nice to have a couple of days to do the taxes, it is usually a rush job to get it done before the deadline.

Plugged Tank

Our gray water tank has been plugged for the last few days of our trip and I thought I knew the problem - ME!

I thought it was OK to wash coffee grounds down the sink as long as we were hooked up to a sewer, the valve was open and I had the cold water tap running while I emptied the coffee basket. This is evidently not the case as when I opened the gray water valve I only got a few drops of water and a few wet coffee grounds! We conserved sink use until we got home and only had a quarter of a tank of grey water when we parked.

I had decided on a plan of action on the drive home and tackled the problem yesterday. I intended to give the tank and it's drain pipe a reverse flush.

I parked on the sloping driveway where a little grey water would do no harm, opened the grey water valve and sure enough only a few spoonfuls of water and a few coffee grounds came out. I got our garden hose that is hooked up to the high pressure (city) side of our house pressure reduction valve out and dragged it over. I wrapped a rag around the end to make a seal, jammed it in the outlet and held it in place as I released the water flow. Nothing seemed to happen! The seal was good as only a little water was dripping into the ground but otherwise, silence.

Suddenly I heard water gurgling and flowing into the grey tank! Whatever the blockage was, it was free now. I let a few gallons in and pulled the hose and rag out. Wow! A ton of dirty looking water came out and flowed down the driveway. A closer inspection showed a lot of coffee grounds in it. I repeated the maneuver a few times, getting more coffee grounds out every time. The last time, I let the tank fill to about 3/4 full before I released it to give it a really good flush. There were still coffee grounds but only a tablespoon full or so. The problem was solved without calling out the plumber and his "snake" which was going to be 'Plan B'!

Now to look at our taxes. Norma is sorting the several pounds of mail, looking for our tax information. This is going to be fun!

Saturday, April 22, 2017


Got home to a spotless house thanks to Kelly, our house sitter. We are so lucky to have found her! Nothing to do except bring in some food from the motorhome, bring Norma's PVR into the house and RELAX for a couple of days.
There is a drainage problem but Kelly called our drainage "guy" and he came by this afternoon and has a solution planned. He says it will wait until the rain stops in a week or so. :(

Friday, April 21, 2017

We Made It!

We Made It!
Crossing the border at the Victoria ferry dock was easy as pie. How much did you spend? $1435. Any liquor? Yes, three full 750ml bottles and several partial bottles. Welcome back to Canada. That was it.
We drove the Malahat Highway to Brooks and went out for fish and chips with them, came home and watched some of the Edmonton Oilers hockey game but I went to bed before it was over.
We will spend today here and head home tomorrow. Our vacation is over! :)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Island Bound

Sitting in Port Angeles figuring out what we spent this winter. We are allowed $800 Canadian each and appear to be well under.
We have a reservation on the 2:00 PM Black Ball Ferry and should be at Brooks' by six or seven.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

United Airlines

What concerns and upsets me the most about the United Airlines incident is the actions of the police! What is next? You buy and pay for a new car and then the cops show up at your door, kick the shit out of you and take the car back to the dealer? What about a house? The realtor or previous owner sends the cops to drag you out of your house after you have bought it? Who are the police "Serving and Protecting" anyway? The public or their corporate masters?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sunshine And Solar Musings

We drove from Pendleton, Oregon to Hood River, OR today. We probably would have spent another night at the Wildhorse Casino if it were not for the $40 a night rates. I have no idea why a Casino would chase people away with high rares and few services, not even showers.
It was a beautiful, clear, sunny, warm morning and it got better as we approached the Columbia River and the left turn towards Portland. We stopped at the sometimes friendly and sometimes not so friendly Walmart in Hood River and parked right in front of the "No RV's", "No Overnight Parking" and "No Camping" signs and went in to ask if it was OK to park overnight. We were told yes, it was fine as long as we were gone in the morning. We will be.

Remember all the battery problems we had on the way down last year? I sure do. We replaced the two 6 volt batteries, the converter and then the batteries again!

We never boondocked after that so the new system was never put to the test. Two nights ago we overnighted in a Walmart and watched some TV. We had bought a new 26 inch TV that uses more power than the old one but with just the TV and Shaw Direct box on the battery steadily fell from 12.9 when it settled down after we parked to 12.4 a couple of hours later. and the amber warning light came on on my high tech battery monitor. Crap! It must also be noted that the weather was cloudy when we parked so the solar was of no help.

Today we are parked at another Walmart but under a bright sun and the battery monitor is jumping between 13.1 and 14 volts depending on whether there is a small cloud shading the panels or not.

I have two solar panels giving 225 total watts and two 6 volt batteries in series to make 12 volts.

I am thinking I might add two more 6 volt batteries in a series/parallel circuit to give me still 12 volts but double the amps. It will take a little longer to charge them but that should not be a problem. It will also add a couple of hundred pounds of weight to the right hand side but that is a fair trade off for the extra amperage.

Wow! The TV has been on for an hour and the voltage is currently at 13.94. The system I have now would be fine as long as we are in sunshine. But we are not always in sunshine. I am musing...

Friday, April 14, 2017

Wildhorse Casino

Wildhorse Casino Tally:
Norma - $60 in, $160 out :) :)
Croft - $40 in, $47 out :)

Everything But Locusts!

Wind, rain, hail and snow! That was our day driving from Ontario, Oregon to Pendleton! It was not that far (160 miles) but we called it quits ten miles short of Pendleton and pulled into the Wildhorse Casino and RV Park. It is a pretty basic park with gravel spaces and they charge $40 per night but it was way better than a Walmart parking lot with no hookups. We will need our electric heater tonight.

We set up the dish and eventually got a good signal but ten minutes later a gust of wind hit it and blew the whole thing a foot down the road. It is now set again and weighted down with a 30 bottle drinking water pack and a sand bag I made with a grocery bag and a few pounds of dirt from a nearby pile. It's not going anywhere now!

Maybe we will go over to the casino later and see if Norma can win our rent back.

Ontario, Oregon

It was a three State day for us yesterday, driving about four and a half hours, a good day for us and we were ready to stop when we crossed the Idaho/Oregon border into the city of Ontario. We wanted to start looking for a new microwave oven for home and this was a good place as Walmart and Home Depot are right next door to each other.

We sort of wanted to find a combination Convection Microwave because we were getting used to and liking the one in the motorhome but they are hard to find. Home Depot had a nice one for $291 but it had to be ordered and would take 3 or 4 weeks so that was out. We ended up buying a standard stainless steel Magic Chef oven with a large 1.6 cubic foot capacity.

It is a great parking lot here, right on the river so we set up for the night. There are lots of trees so we had a bit of a problem finding a spot to set up the satellite dish but finally did it. Norma had a list of shows she wanted to PVR.

It was quite cold overnight and when we were woken up by our neighbors leaving at 3:00 AM we fired up the generator and the furnace for a few minutes and then had trouble getting back to sleep so it will be a slow morning for us.

Norma wants to go back to Home Depot to get some garden supplies that are much cheaper in the US. We will then go to Denny's for breakfast and head out for Pendleton, only 190 miles away.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Jackpot, NV

We got to Jackpot yesterday afternoon after a pleasant but long (for us) four and a half hour drive. We decided we were far enough ahead of schedule that we could take a day off the road and we booked a spot at Cactus Pete's Casino RV park at $18 per night. The water is turned off because they are in constant fear of a freeze here and actually, we have been snowed and/or frozen in here twice in the past.

But not this time. It is sunny but a little windy here, definitely not short pants weather and speaking of weather, we well be running into rain in Idaho and the rain will likely be following us all the way home.

We were going to wander over to the casino this afternoon but decided not to. Norma is not feeling particularly lucky and I could really take it or leave it. So we aren't going. Our niece won a bundle here a week or two ago so they might not have much left. :)

Tomorrow night will probably find us in Ontario, Oregon, just across the Idaho border. We are looking for a new microwave for the house and will start searching there. We would like a combination convection microwave if we can find one we like.

A new big screen TV was on the shopping list as well but we decided to hold off on that for the time being. Our old 44" plasma TV is still working and I hate spending that kind if money to gain five or six inches of viewing area. Plus the old plasma puts out enough heat to heat the downstairs room.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Off To Ely, NV

Up and at it early as the RV park at The Prospector Casino fills up early and there are only six pull throughs. A long drive (for us) of about five hours today!

The last time we were at The Prospector in Ely, Norma won $400 and I got two free margaritas! I hope history repeats itself!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Gordon Ramsey's Fish & Chips - Las Vegas

Gordon Ramsey's Fish & Chips.
It was good! Right up to Dick's standards (a dockside place back home).It is an order at the counter and wait till your number is called place with a limited number of tables both inside and outside. We got an inside table as that was all that was left. I forgot my camera but the meal looked just like the photo in their add except the fish portions were maybe a little smaller. Norma ate 2/3 of her fish and maybe 1/2 of her chips which told me she really liked it. I ate all 3 of my fish plus her leftover piece but only 3/4 of my chips. Not a bad meal @ $15 each and we would go back. We could have done without the blaring music that the number caller had to scream over.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Back On Line!

Virgin Broadband is back! There never was a "network problem", that story was just to shut me up. The actual problem was they reduced my account from unlimited to the smallest amount they offer and showed me as having used up all my time. They reset everything and gave me an extra five free days, not that I can use it as we will be back in Canada.

The Bootlegger

We had a great time at Las Vegas' The Bootlegger last night. Good food, a great table and the Jazz singer made a big deal about our 48th Anniversary and she sang a couple of Billie Holiday songs for us (my request). $128 US after tips but what the heck, my annual RIF (Retirement Income Fund) payment is due in a few days! :) We had dinner, a glass of wine each and a liqueur with our coffee after. Almost an hour to drive each way!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Catching Up

We made it to Las Vegas with no problem and checked into the Road Runner RV Park. It has a ten yea rule on age of rigs but Norma smiled sweetly and told them it was an '08 model and they let us in. $107 plus electric for a week.

My Virgin Broadband would not connect and after a call to Support it was determined that their cell tower was down and expected to be repaired by Wednesday. The park WIFI would not reach our site so I had to walk over to the office. Then on a whim, I tried my Hawking WIFI dish on the dash and guess what? It is picking up the signal! Weak but workable and I don't have to walk!

Last night we drove over to Arizona Charlies, a local casino where they had a Tuesday Special of two buffet dinners for the price of one. Not bad for $12 for two. Shrimp, salmon, roast beef and a huge desert table. On the way out we stopped at the slots where I turned $5 into $23 and Norma turned $20 into $0. Has she lost her touch?

Tonight is our 48th Anniversary (actually yesterday) so we made reservations at The Bootlegger, a Mafia era Italian restaurant down on The Strip featuring a live jazz singer. The restaurant was featured on an Anthony Bourdain program on CNN.

Otherwise, we are happy here in the sun until we leave on Monday.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Heading For Las Vegas!

We left our relaxing two months in Mesa yesterday morning after an early morning visit from Paula and her mom. We followed Highway 60 north (fighting the GPS all the way as she had a different route in mind) and ended up at Dazzo's RV Park in Wikiup, AZ. which is about half way to Vegas.

Dazzo's is a strange place. Last year at this time his restaurant and lobby looked like a Donald Trump Campaign Headquarters. This time, everything is gone including his extensive Glen Beck book display and his huge collection of anti-Obama sign, posters and post cards. The walls are bare except for American flags and one lone sign on the cash register stating, "We The People Are Pissed Off!".

Other than Dazzo's politics, the RV park is basic but nice. Great showers, free WIFI, long pull-throughs, easy satellite TV hookup and dozens of talkative birds making their homes in the cactus' growing between the spaces.

The four hour drive yesterday left us both a little stiff so we are thinking of staying another night at Dazzo's welcoming Passport America Rate of $10.50.

It is going to be a slow trip home, just the kind we like. We will get to Vegas tomorrow and will stay for six or seven nights, scheduling a dinner at The Bootlegger, an old time Italian restaurant featured on one of Anthony Bourdain's shows. We tried last year but their reservations were full for the next few days and we could not get in.

Our shopping list on the way home has expanded to include a new microwave for the kitchen at home, new chrome rings for the stove and maybe a new wide screen TV for the bottom room. Brooks and LindaLee complain that the screen "flickers" but my 71 year old eyes can't see that.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Magic Honda Repairs

Weird. I took the Honda with it's non functioning right turn signal into Zemp Auto here in Mesa.The mechanic checked everything with his meter, took out all the relays and checked them. He talked with his boss and the boss told me all they had found was that it was not a simple repair. All the parts worked properly but the signal was not getting to the right side bulbs. The next step is to get into the wiring and find the problem and that would take some time which they did not have this week. He told me to call on Monday and set up an appointment. While we were talking his mechanic plugged all the parts back in.
I pulled out and a few blocks later I signaled for a right turn and IT WORKED! Now I feel like a jerk. He put maybe 20 minutes into it and did not charge me. Pulling the twenty-eight year old relays in and out must have cleaned the contacts. I probably should stop in and give them $20 for their coffee fund or something.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day

To all my Sisters out there on International Women's Day! Enjoy your day, you have earned it!

As we go marching, marching
In the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens
A thousand mill lofts grey
Are touched with all the radiance
That a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing
Bread and roses, bread and roses
As we go marching, marching
We battle too for men
For they are women's children
And we mother them again
Our lives shall not be sweetened
From birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies
Give us bread, but give us roses
As we go marching, marching
We bring the greater days
For the rising of the women
Means the rising of the race
No more the drudge and idler
Ten that toil where one reposes
But the sharing of life's glories
Bread and roses, bread and roses
-James Oppenheim (1910's)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


We have decided to stay here in Mesa, AZ for another month. We had planned to carry on to the Texas Gulf area but the weather everywhere is very unpredictable this winter. It is 90% nice here so we will save the gas money and stay until April when we will start the slow trip home.

I am ignoring the fact that it has rained here for the last day and a half and the thunder is rolling across the valley right now.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Still Here!

Some friends from back home emailed to see if we were OK so I better report in. Nothing has been happening except for the odd walk around the park and some swimming. The weather has been good in the day and cool at night, in other words, perfect.

The dome/skylight over the shower got cracked from light contact with a branch. It has an inner and an outer layer, The outer bubble survived but the inner cracked. I took it out the other day to try to find a replacement and it broke up as I removed it. No one had the same size so I ended up ordering it on line for $110 plus $40 shipping. All in US dollars of course. It will be here in a week.

Anyway, that is the sum total of the action around here. We haven't even been out for dinner since we got here a month ago. Lazy but nothing wrong with that. I will let you know if Norma wins the PowerBall lottery.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Lenovo Ideapad 110S

I am really happy with the $119 Lenovo I scored from Best Buy a few days ago. I was concerned that the 32GB (28GB after the hidden restore partition) solid state drive might not be large enough but my guru friend Rick Doyle reassured me that Windows 10 would not crowd it too much and he was right (was there ever any doubt?). I took it over to the clubhouse and used the park WIFI to do all the updates and Windows used only 15 GB.

I downloaded Chrome just because I prefer it to Edge and installed my Quicken. The drive is still only 60% full so there is lots of room. I just will not be able to use the machine to store photos.

It is blazingly fast due to the solid state drive and is ready to use just a few seconds after turning it on.

The only possible complaint I have is that the case is white, the only choice available in this sale, so it might be a little difficult to keep clean. But that complaint is very minor as it is a quality machine!

Sunday, February 12, 2017


About six last night we heard a terrific BANG outside our rig. Norma thought it was a firecracker and I thought it might be a tire blowing out. Then we wondered if if was a gunshot. Our neighbor came out and said it definitely was a gunshot.

Ten minutes later sirens were heard and about six police cars entered the park and blocked off the row just around the corner from our site. Then a police helicopter started circling the park with it's spotlight on. That made it too noisy to hear what was going on around the corner, if anything.

Curious Norma of course was outside walking around. I told her if the helicopter was looking for someone sneaking around acting suspicious they would lock in on her! She ignored me but eventually came in.

The police stayed a while and then left. That was it, we don't know anything else. Maybe someone who lives closer to the source will fill us in.

Just another night in gun happy America.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Wandering Around Scottsdale

We dropped Norma's gold bracelet off at Jewelry Repair on Main Street in Mesa this morning for a repair. I asked Norma what she wanted to do until it was ready in four hours and she said "Lets explore Scottsdale". We headed over to Scottsdale Road and found one of the resorts we used to stay in when we escaped the north and soaked up summer sun in Arizona back in the 80's.

The Plaza hotel has not changed much over the years. We parked and went in to have a look. The lobby and pool area were the same and we walked on to the casitas that we used to rent for a couple / three weeks at a time for greatly reduced summer rates. Remington's, the on site restaurant and piano bar where we spent many evenings listening to Ike Cole (Nat King Cole's young brother) play and sing all the old favorites. Being there brought back many memories.

We left there and headed down to the Old Town where we stopped for a very late breakfast at The Breakfast Club and headed back to Mesa. Norma's bracelet was ready, he had gold soldered the catch back on, a very nice repair for only $20.

Tonight we are taking it easy as we are meeting our friends Brian and Sue up in Fountain Hills tomorrow morning for breakfast and the car show at Phil's Filling Station, a popular restaurant in Fountain Hills.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


What could possibly go wrong here? A totally blind person with PTSD and a fear of dogs legally carrying a loaded gun. I can't believe he faced opposition.
USA – -( At 27, Carey McWilliams became the first totally blind person in the USA to acquire a concealed-carry permit.
Despite weapons training during his ROTC years, McWilliams has faced opposition to his right to bear arms from both the media and public officials.
Once fervently against hunting, McWilliams now views hunting as a way to connect to a system greater than himself and cope with PTSD brought on by a recent violent dog attack.
In his downtime, he carries a loaded pistol to the grocery store.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

New Laptop

I replaced my Netbook a year or so ago with a small used laptop but was not happy with it. It had Windows 7 on it but it was corrupted and would not update to Windows 10. In frustration I formated the hard drive and installed Linux. It worked OK but was / is really slow and because it has no Windows, it will not run my financial program, Quicken.

When our American friend Paula was up to visit this summer she had a very nice little Lenovo Ideapad, a tiny laptop that was just perfect for what I wanted. I looked into them but they were just a little too expensive than I wanted to pay.

This morning Best Buy sent me an email advertising a five hour sale with this computer on it for $119. Perfect! I ordered it online but when I got to the checkout, it refused to take my creditcard because I did not have a USA billing address. I tried PayPal but same problem, they will not accept an out of USA payment. There was now less than an hour left on the sale so I called the customer service number and finally, after about 40 minutes got someone to take my money! It had free two day shipping so it should be here Thursday.

Here it is:

Monday, February 6, 2017

More RV Servicing!

When we parked here in Mesa Norma noticed a propane smell outside the door and the furnace would not light. We called Four Points Mobile RV Service and talked to Juan who said he could not get here until Monday (unless it was an emergency) which was fine. It was Friday and it was warm enough that we did not need the furnace so we turned the propane off for the weekend. Today (Monday) Louis came out and quickly determined the leak came from the Extend-A-Stay valve that we had replaced in December. This time however it was just a cap that was not tight. I should have found that myself but I can say that about many things. The reduced pressure in the line resulted in the furnace's safety feature preventing the furnace from lighting.

While Louis was here we had him look at our Fantastic Fan which had quit working and which I suspected had a bad plunger switch. I was right and Louis simply bypassed the switch. It now works but has to be manually turned on and off until I get a new switch. Not a problem.

The cost was $155, very reasonable under the circumstances.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Old Friend Gone

My old friend Don McRobb passed away a few days ago. Don was my Union rep partner back in Terrace, BC in the 70's and 80's. He was 74 and when I last talked to him in October he was very proud of the fact that he had finally quit smoking. "I may have waited too long though Croft as I am hauling an oxygen tank around with me. It's not slowing me down though". Don and I had our share of arguments but he was a good rep, always having the member's best interests at heart. Here is one of a thousand memories Don and I shared:

Don McRobb Story
The Chief Operator in Terrace was trying to fire an operator for "abusing her (late night company paid) taxi privileges" (an operator gets a taxi ride home if her shift ends after 11:30 PM). They had two charges, 1) She had once taken her company paid taxi ride home at 1 AM when she got off work and had asked the driver to stop at a 24 hour convenience store on the way so she could grab milk and cereal for her son's breakfast. While she ran in and out the taxi meter clicked over an additional $1.15. Some bean counter in Burnaby caught the higher than normal charge and decided to make a big deal out of it. 2) Another time she got off work at midnight and instead of taking a cab directly home she walked across the street to a nightclub where her friends were having a bridal shower party where she stayed for an hour or so before taking her cab ride home. The nightclub was literally across the street, maybe 30 feet from BC Tel's door but the taxi invoice said the bar and the Burnaby bean counters caught it. "She is entitled to a cab ride home from WORK, not from a BAR" said the Chief Operator. They fired her.
This was the first serious grievance we had in Traffic since the Plant (craft/trades), Clerical and Traffic (operators) amalgamation into one Union Local and the Chief Operator never knew what hit her. We had the right to take up to four Union reps into a second level meeting and the company had to match our numbers so the more chicken shit the company's action was, the more we took in so we had four. This meant the Chief Operator had to ask three Plant supervisors to sit in the meeting with her. Their rolling of eyes was very noticeable when they heard why we were there. Us four Union reps had already decided it was going to be a "Take No Prisoners" meeting, ground rules were being set. The Chief Operator started off on the wrong foot by insisting she be addressed as Ms Whatever instead of by her first name. Don informed her that in this room we were all equal, being a boss gave her no extra rights and that we were all on a friendly, first name basis, "Got that?" "yes". "Don't forget it".
So here we were, eight people wasting an afternoon discussing a stupid $1.15. She went on and on explaining her interpretation of the rules the poor single mom had violated and I could see the Plant supervisors still rolling their eyes and knew the fruit was ripe for the picking. So I dropped the F-Bomb. "Why are you wasting everyone's f***ing time with this chicken shit grievance"? Two of the Plant supervisors nodded, one smiled and the Chief Operator burst into tears and ran out of the meeting.
The remaining seven of us just looked at each other and a few suppressed chuckles were heard (except from Don, he was outright laughing). One of the Plant supervisors said, "Let's get together again tomorrow, I will have a talk with her". Another said, "I will pay her the stupid $1.15 if I can get back to my job. We have wasted about $400 in wages just sitting here".
The next day we all met again and she had recovered her composure, someone had talked to her. "I have decided to give her one more chance and am prepared to offer her job back". "No", Don said, "you will not offer her job back because she never lost her job. You will make her whole by paying her for all the time she has lost, restore her seniority, her pension credits, her wage service credits and you will erase this whole sorry affair from her file. This never happened. And you will apologize to her. Got it?" Silence. She was beat and she knew it. "OK, but I want an apology from Croft for what he said to me". I told her that I would but only after she apologized to the woman. She agreed. Don and I were there the next day when our member came back to work and the Chief Operator made an un-heartfelt, weasel worded apology and then turned to me. I said to her, "And I apologize for asking you why you are wasting our f***ing time with this chicken shit grievance". She was gasping for air as Don and I walked away. I think that was the last grievance we had with her. She was no longer used to getting her way and she never wanted to see the four of us again.
RIP Don! We got your back!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

It's Been Awhile

Sorry, I have not been diligent with the Blog. We have been in relax mode in Hope, AZ and not doing much of anything. Our neighbors Bill and Dee's daughter was  close to having a baby so Dee flew back home to help out. Good timing as the baby decided to make an early entrance and was born six hours after Dee's plane landed.

Bill decided to go on one of the organized ATV trail rides from the park and invited me along. It was a lot of fun traveling around the desert on old mining roads and ATV trails. We were gone about six hours and I was sunburned and spitting dust when we got back but we had a ball. Lots of interesting people and the leader had all of the route mapped out on his GPS so he knew exactly where he was going and more important, how to find his way back through the labyrinth of intersecting roads and trails.

Yesterday we moved on to Mesa Village, our old standby RV park in Mesa, AZ where we are settled down now. It is so much warmer here with temperatures pushing up into the high 70's and low 80's. The StarChoice / Shaw Direct setup was almost a record for us, taking all of five seconds after I set the skew and elevation.

When we arrived Norma complained of smelling propane outside the door, a warning which I tried to ignore thinking it was her imagination because I could not smell anything. After five or six pesterings from her I went out and had a good sniff and she was right, there was a leak. She narrowed it down to the furnace so we tested it by trying to start the furnace but all ot did was blow, click and make a "whump" as it tried to light and then turned off immediately. Something wrong! I turned off the propane and Norma called a local mobile RV repair that was highly rated. We are waiting for a call back but it will probably be Monday before he comes out. The only thing we need the propane for is hot water but we can heat water on the induction stove until it is fixed. They charge $65 for the visit and then $90 per hour so I may as well get him to fix the ceiling exhaust fan while he is here. I think the plunger switch is shot so it should be a simple fix.

Our friend Paula came over for coffee this morning and ended up staying for breakfast which for her is a cup of coffee and toast. Like I have said, she is easy to entertain!

Well, we were up very early (6 AM) for some reason and it is noon now. I feel a nap coming on.

The Ride:

Thursday, January 26, 2017

An Adjustment, A Conference... And A Lineup

We headed of for Los Algodones, Mexico at 8:00 AM precisely for my 11:00 AM appointment. We made it to the office at 10:30 with a little time to spare. I was not happy with my partial plates and hoped they could adjust them to fit better. Well, the denturist looked at them, the dentist looked at them and they both decided they fit as well as they could ever be expected to. They sent them out for some grinding down and shaping and when they returned they did not feel any better. I simply hate the f*&%#g things and will not be happy with them. Period.

The main job of the upper and lower partial is to fill in a two tooth on each side space at the back of my mouth where I have not had teeth for many years. I am quite used to this empty space and have learned to chew just fine without those teeth. In my mind they are not necessary and are certainly not worth the trouble of carrying two partial plates around in my mouth thank you very much.

The other job the upper one does is to fill the gap where my right eye tooth used to be before it broke off at the gumline and was extracted. They could not include this tooth in the bridge they built because it would have made the bridge to long (large) so they put it on the partial. The solution is a single implant which cannot be considered until the extraction has had at least 3 - 4 months to heal.If at that time I still want it, I need an MRI of the area for $150 to make sure the jaw structure is strong enough for it. If it is they will do the implant for $900. Then I wait for six months for all this to heal and then get the implant crown for $400. Then I am done. Like they told me, I have to wait for the implant and maybe I will get used to the partials. Don't hold your breath!

By now ir was about 1:30 PM and the lineup to get back to the US was about two blocks long! The border guys are trying to impress their new boss and are making it difficult to cross the border! It took us two hours to get to the front and I then fully expected the agent to say, "Aren't you the guy who called Trump an asshole on Facebook?" I am not sure how I would have answered that and thankfully he did not ask it. He simply asked what I was bringing across and grinned when I pointed to my teeth and waved us through. Phew! Made it again!

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Visit From Wandering Mike!

We got an email last week from our American lawyer friend Mike who used to Blog as "Wandering Mike". He would be driving by and would we be available for a visit? Well, of course we would! We always enjoy a visit from Mike and since he suffered some recent health issues, we were very anxious to catch up with him and get the latest reports.

Sure enough a couple of days ago we got an email saying he was registered in a nearby hotel and would be over to see us. We had a great visit with Mike, eventually inviting our neighbors Bill and Dee over for a drink and to meet him. Conversation turned a little "left" among a group of people of similar political opinions. Later on, Norma, Mike and I headed down the road to a local steakhouse for dinner. It was a great time and it was very dark and raining when we got home.

Mike dropped in for coffee the next morning before heading off towards Riverside, California where he has an appointment this week. It is always nice to see Mike who actually made his way up to our house in Canada last summer. For those who know him, he is doing well and is dealing with the effects of his rheumatoid arthritis.  He is managing it with a herbal salve and diet but has his bad days which is why he gave himself so much time to drive from Alpine, Texas to Riverside. We were very happy to keep him occupied for one of his travel days!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration Day With A Difference

I can't say I am watching it but it is on in the background and Norma is sort of watching it. It is a sad occasion and the country will not benefit from this President.

In stark contrast I remember Obama's first Inauguration with much better memories. We were in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, an area called The Mexican Riviera (not that it bears any similarity to the Real Riviera.

We were in a large RV park and had Starchoice set up. Many of our neighbors were Americans and very few had TV as none of the American satellite systems reach that far south. We put out a general invitation for anyone to come join us and soon the RV started filling up until all the seats were taken and the last three or four people brought in folding chairs.

It was a happy occasion with what seemed like everyone very proud of America's pick for President.  Everyone had something positive to say and many tears of pride were shed. One American said he wished that his parents had lived to see this day, that they would be very proud.

This Inauguration, I do not think I have heard that word, "proud" mentioned even once by anyone in reference to the President Elect. In reference to the process maybe, but not the man. It is a sad occasion.

He is a Bull In A China Shop and I am holding my breath in hopes that he does not break anything important before he finds the back door and gets out.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Visit from Paula!

Paula, our friend and neighbor from the RV park in Mesa dropped in on her way back from Quartzsite yesterday. She was just in time for Happy Hour and got to meet some of our neighbors, two of whom she already knew. We had a bite to eat and as it was getting late she decided to take advantage of our couch for the night. She has had a trying winter with some medical issues (now in the past) so it was good to catch up with her life!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Martin Luther King Day and John Lewis

"Stand Up, Speak Up, and Speak Out!"
Some piece of crap who does not deserve to have his name mentioned here said this about Civil Rights icon, John Lewis, “All talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad!”. John Lewis who was instrumental in bringing about The Civil Rights Act as well as The Voting Rights Act deserves far better. It is time to let our voices be heard. Not by simply typing away on social media although this is important as well, but also by speaking out in public. It is time to "Stand Up, Speak Up, and Speak Out!" Let's celebrate Martin Luther King Day by helping right this wrong. We have been called to action!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Purdy, eh?

Yes, I know I need a shave. One crisis at a time, OK? I am going for the 90's Don Johnson's "Miami Vice" look.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Back In Hope

We drove home from Algodones, MX yesterday. After a stop at Silly Al's Pizza in Quartzsite we got home at about 3:00, just in time for Happy Hour at Bill and Dee's, After that it was an early night for me as I was physically and mentally drained after the dental ordeal.

This morning I forced myself to remove the partials and found they were very hard to remove! They have a death grip on the bases of the surrounding teeth and it took a few minutes of pulling, prying and pain to get them out. I will probably get better at it and I am sure it will become easier after the swelling goes down and my black eye fades. When I went in yesterday for the final fitting one of the young assistants told me in her best English that I looked like I had gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson. I told her that Dr, Jesus should have been a prize fighter as he sure put me on the canvas. She had a very good laugh about this and rushed out to tell her co-workers.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Test Driving My New Teeth

They test fit, adjusted, fit again, adjusted again and eventually cemented in my new teeth. They then took even more impressions, saying they were for the two partial plates, I am not sold on these partial plates. One has only one tooth on it to replace the missing right eye tooth that for some reason could not be included in the bridge up there. The other is to give me chewing molars on the lower right side.

I have not had any chewing surface back there for two years now and have been managing quite well without them. I hate the feeling of the huge chunk of plastic in my mouth and seriously doubt I will be using these very often. The other one tooth partial is, I am sure, purely cosmetic. Norma says no, it is to keep the shape of my mouth and jaw. I will have that conversation with them at the final fitting tomorrow.

Anyway! I have all the rest of my teeth cemented in and functioning. To celebrate we stopped at the hotel restaurant on the way back and I ordered cheese enchiladas. They work! I can eat! The larger bridge on the left is a little sensitive to pressure right now but that will soon disappear as the area is still recovering from Tuesday's root canals,

Anyway, so far I am very happy! They feel good, work good and look good! The jury is still out on whether the partials will get used. In any case, we will be back at the motorhome in Hope, AZ tomorrow.