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

HOME!!!

WE ARE HOME!!!
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.