Saturday, October 31, 2009

Olive Pit

We are in Corning, CA at the Olive Pit. This place is like a candy store for olive lovers. There are dozens (maybe hundreds) of stuffed olives for sale and all are available for free sampling! This is a regular stop for us and we usually stock up with enough so we have plenty to take back to Canada in the Spring.

I got an oil and lube this morning at WalMart. Lube and oil change with full Castrol Synthetic for under $74. A bargain compared to what I pay ion Canada. The engine seems to like it as well. It has never had synthetic and is purring like a kitten. It is hard to hold it under 65.

The weather is perfect and it is 350 miles to Bakersfield. We shall see how close we get today.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Gas Prices

When we got off the ferry in Port Angeles we were greeted with $2.89 per gallon gas prices. A lot cheaper than Canada but higher than it was in April. Oregon was a little better at $2.69 and they even have real, live gas station attendants there!

We topped the tank off in Oregon before we entered California at a nice little Union 76 station where they have a free sewer dump for their customers. We paid $2.69. Just 33 miles up the road in California the price jumped to $3.56!!! Ninety cents a gallon more! We will try to make it through California on a couple of fill-ups.

Anderson, CA

It was a very long drive today but I wanted to get the Siskiyou Pass behind me and the weather was beautiful as we crossed into California. We stopped at the Agricultural Inspection where they relieved us of three oranges. He was very apologetic, saying he hated to take our fruit but that he had a job to do. No problem, I am sure we can find oranges in California.

We parked for the night in a brand new WalMart in Anderson, CA where they have an RV service bay in their service Center. We will get an oil and lube first thing in the morning and then head to Corning, CA to stock up on olives at the Olive Pit. I can taste those martinis already!

This WalMart, like many in California, has a No Overnight Parking sign posted. I asked at the car center and was told to ignore it. They never bother anyone staying for one night but they have had problems with people using the parking lot for long term camping. These are the ones who ruin it for all of us who just want a safe, level place to park for a few hours sleep.

The really good news here is that when I turned on the laptop in the motorhome, I had WIFI!!!!! I think it is coming from a pizza and pasta place in front of us where we just might go for dinner.

I copied my friend Rae’s idea and bought a Starbucks card in hopes I could get two hours of free WIFI a day from them but when I signed up I was placed in an endless loop of Starbucks home page to the signup page and back to the home page. Nobody in the store knew anything about it so I gave up after an hour of frustration!

Anyway, it is 7:00 PM here in Anderson and it is still 70 degrees outside! We will be sleeping without all our quilts piled on top of us tonight and will be able to have the windows open. Life is good!

Salem, Oregon

We only made it as far as Salem tonight before it started to get close to dark. we asked the Garmin Nuvi to find us a Walmart and it gave us several to choose from so we picked a SuperCenter and it lead us right there. We went in and I picked up a $40 8 gig memory card for my new camera. The files on the new camera are much larger than they were on the D70S necessitating the change.

I love shopping in Oregon! There is no tax so when they tell you the tires cost $1308, that is what the bill is. Not $1308 plus PST, plus GST adding couple of  hundred or so to the bill. The other thing I really like in Oregon is the fact that there are no self-serve gas stations! This is great for employment, especially for young people. Working in a gas station was my first job while I was in school and it was great.

It is raining. It has been raining off and on since Victoria. At least it is getting a little warmer as we travel South.

I “almost” have a WIFI signal here. It shows a weak signal from somewhere but when I click on it, it disappears. I will save this and post it when I can.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Les Schwab

We are now in Les Schwab Tire store in Wilsonville, Oregon buying six new tires. The old ones had only 18,000 miles on them but were suffering from five years of UV damage. Rather than take a chance on a flat in Mexico we bit the bullet and invested $1300 USA in new Toyos. I am using their WIFI and see they are finished so I will pay the bill and drive to Eugene tonight. See Ya!

Chehalis WalMart

We got off the ferry at through US Customs by two and headed down the Hood Canal towards Olympia and Interstate 5. We stopped at a folksy restaurant for lunch along the way where I found a huge salmon burger for $7. As we were leaving some women asked where we were going in the motorhome. When we told them “Mexico”, one said, “Be careful, there are bandits there!” “ “Bandits?”, I asked. “I don't think I have ever seen a bandit except for the one-armed kind in the USA”. Norma, trying to get me to shut up, said. “Oh, we stay away from the border”. “It doesn't matter” she answered, “They are all over Mexico now”. Well, I will have to watch for one. If I find one, I will report.

Tonight we are in the Walmart parking lot in Chehalis, Washington. It is much warmer than last night on the ferry dock and I may be able to make it with only one quilt. Life is good!

On The Road!

We finally started the adventure! We got away from Campbell River at ten o'clock Tuesday morning and headed South. We arrived at the ferry lineup in Victoria at 3:00 and selected our spor for the night. If you get there after the afternoon sailing and before they lock the gate at five, you can park in their lot overnight. We always do this because it gives us a chance to visit with Brooks and Linda. We met Linda's parents and went for dinner at The Keg.

It was a nice dinner. Brooks and I had the Ahi Tuna, served almost raw, just as I like it and it was very tasty. Norma and Linda had the Sirloin with mushrooms. I washed mine down with a VERY spicy Bloody Caesar interspersed with sips of water. To cool my mouth down. The meal was not cheap but then again, it is downtown Victoria. Brooks and Linda headed home after dinner and Norma and I walked along the waterfront with Linda's parents who live near the ferry dock. It was a beautiful, cool night.

We got back to the motorhome, covered up with two quilts and settled down for the night. In the morning we woke up as they were measuring the RV (50 feet with the car). I took the piece of paper he handed me and went to pay the $230  (Canadian) fare. A little pricey but we only cross two times a year and by taking the Port Angeles route we miss the Seattle traffic.

The adventure has started!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Loading Day

Today we transform the motorhome from a bright, freshly washed underweight rig to a bright, freshly washed overweight rig! It will be a tough job but Norma has all her clothes neatly piled in 5 huge plastic bins that fit under the bed and enough canned food to keep a small nation from starvation for a couple of days laid out and ready to go into the pantry and overhead cupboards. I have to sort out the liquor cabinet as there is no use taking liquor into the USA where it is half the price of Canadian.

My other job is to climb up on the roof with the hose and clean out the gutters for the last time this year. I will be complaining of a sore back later today, but this all means we are getting close! The adventure awaits!

As Rae pointed out I also had to park the Mazda where it would be out of the way. This involved driving it between Rae's motorhome and Norma's garden shed. It was not as big a deal as the two women made it out to be. I had more than five centimeters clearance on each side. Piece of cake!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Day Late

It looks like we will be leaving on Tuesday now. Norma is waiting for something in the mail..... If we arive at the Black Ball Ferry terminal before 4:00 pm then we can park overnight and catch the 10:00 am sailing. It is getting close!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wash Day

I washed the rig today and Norma is starting to get things ready to load. We will be leaving Campbell River on Monday the 26th. It is getting closer!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Great Wall

This is the retaining wall that Norma and Rae built yesterday. It won't keep the Mongols (or the deer) out but it might remind the neighbours in the condo to keep their hedge on their own side of the property line.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Clear Cutting Rose Bushes

When Rae asked if it would be OK to show up early for her winter parking spot, little did she know that Norma would be putting her to work right away! Today we finished a low concrete block wall between us and the condo next door. This involved much carrying, lifting, placing and leveling. After a couple of hours the job was finished.

Then they tackled the job of cutting Norma's rose bushes back for the winter. The rose bushes had been allowed to grow about eight or ten feet feet high so it was quite a job taming them! Our unsuspecting guest finished with many scratches and scars to show for her efforts!

Here are the two of them playing tug of war with a vine.

I had the job of cheering on the BC Lions who are now tied with Winipeg at half time.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bloggers I Have Met

About a year ago I started noticing something about us Bloggers. As you follow Bloggers and their Blogs you seem to get a deeper understanding of the people than would normally be the case with a few brief face to face meetings.

The first Bloggers we met in person were Brenda and Roy in Guaymas, MX. They were exactly as I imagined them to be and I liked them right away. Although from diverse backgrounds, we had much in common and hit it off right away.

Next was Filipe in Patzcuaro. As soon as we walked up to the sidewalk cafe where we were to meet, I recognized him and it almost felt like we were old friends. He is exactly the same rogue in person as he is on his Blog! We enjoyed his company immensely!

Kathe, whose Life's Adventures Blog I had been following for several years and who was actually responsible for giving me the inspiration and confidence for our first motorhome venture into Mexico was also exactly as I imagined her to be. Only a few minutes after meeting her she invited us to boondock on her beautiful property on the Caribbean Sea outside of Chetumal. She was exactly the person I had imagined her to be.

Jonna and Mimi of the Blah...Blah...Blah...Ginger! Blog were next. We met them in the RV park in Merida where we found ourselves parked side by side. Again although from very diverse backgrounds (a retired Canadian telephone guy and two cops from San Francisco!), we hit it off right away and we will be visiting them again this winter.

Chris of the Living And Boondocking In Mexico Blog exceeded my image of him! We called him after having our incident with the low overpass in Monterrey and within minuted he was there, offering his help and fluent Spanish to deal with the bureaucracy of Mexican Insurance. He then made us very welcome in his adopted city and spent two days showing us around. It was as if we had known him for years!

Now we have finally met Rae of the Travels With Miranda Blog. Rae is a full time RVer embarking on a great adventure. Someone pointed her Blog out to me and I started following her with interest as she made her way across Canada. We corresponded a few times when she was having battery problems and when she mentioned that she would like to spend the winter on Vancouver Island, I felt I knew her well enough to offer our RV pad to her. She pulled in yesterday and once more it was like old friends meeting. She is exactly as I pictured her and I know our house will be in good hands this winter.

So my record is perfect. I have never met a Blogger I didn't like! We are going to try to get together with John Calypso in Veracruz and Paul in Merida this year and I am sure I can keep this trend going! I will report.


As my friend Les and his Journey Of A Lifetime Begins Blog points out, I forgot him! Les has been a great help to us, offering help and encouragement for all our ventures into Mexico. He has been heading down there for many years, knows the country well and is always eager to share. His help made our trips down there much easier. We will be visiting him and Sara in San Miguel de Allende this year. Thanks Les!

I was also reminded that I forgot Tioga George! Now I am really showing my age! How could I forget George and the team, the most famous Blogger of all time? We ran into George twice in Mexico and had a great visit each time, we even got to meet Boid once. I always look forward to seeing George and I am sure our paths will cross again...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Still Here....

It seems expansion tanks for Mazdas are all in Toronto. They sent for one and it will be here around noon today. They will replace it along with the thermostat and see if that fixes the problem. If it does then we will get Brooks and Linda to drive us to pick up the car when they get home from work and we will be home by 9 or so. If they have to dig deeper then we will drive Linda's car home and they will drive our car home on Saturday. We are in the hands of fate.

Home Again!

The garage called to tell us the car was ready at about 3:00. We borrowed Linda's car to drive to the station to pick it up. The tab for a new expansion tank, thermostat, 2 radiator caps and antifreeze was $620. Ouch!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Still In Lake Shawnigan

I called the garage this morning and the car is not finished, in fact repairs have not really started! They could not do much on the weekend as it was a long weekend in Canada and the suppliers were not open. This morning they are going to replace the expansion tank and thermostat and see if that fixes it. If not then they will have to dig deeper. If it is going to be a couple of days then Linda says we can drive her car home and they will deliver the Mazda on the weekend. We really enjoy hanging around here but we have a ton of stuff to do to get ready to head South and this is not helping. Rae is going to be arriving on Thursday or Friday to park at our place for the winter and our motorhome is in her parking place. It will be a busy couple of days when we get home!

We knocked down a couple of walls in the huge shop on the property. Brooks and Linda are going to use it for a fabricating shop for their fencing business. It is so huge they had both pickup trucks and a flatbed trailer parked in it and that took up less than half of the space. It's previous life was an illegal marijuana grow-op that was raided by the police. They were not gentle in their search and all the doors were kicked open, the furnace ducting knocked apart and holes cut in the drywall, I suppose in a search for hidden cash. Anyway, after the interior walls are torn down, it makes a perfect shop for them and will allow them to build fence sections where it is warm and dry. This will let them work all winter if the jobs keep coming in. If you live in the Victoria to Duncan area and need a fence or a deck give them a call and tell them I sent you. Their website is:
Fencetera Fencing

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Best Laid Schemes

The best-laid schemes o' mice an men
Gang aft agley!
-Robert Burns

The plan was to spend a couple of days at Brooks and Linda's new house in Shawnigan Lake. We loaded Norma's car up and headed merrily down the highway at around 2:00 on Friday. We made it as far as Nanaimo when I noticed the temperature gauge pegged on "Hot" and steam coming from under the hood.

We limped to Ladysmith by pouring water over the radiator every few kilometers and found a gas station that actually has a mechanic. He checked a few things and told us he could fix it but it would not be ready until Tuesday. Our son came and picked us up so we will be here a couple of days longer than planned. That's OK because he feeds us well and I think Linda likes us.

This is the first time we have seen their new place. The house is almost new, on 12 acres with 100 feet of river frontage and has a huge shop for their fencing business. They are renting for now but the owner has agreed to sell it to them if the business continues to grow as it has been. Maybe they will let me live here when I am old!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The New Nikon

The New Nikon D200 arrived Monday morning. It should have been here Friday but missed the last Purolator shipment out of Vancouver onto the ferry. The courier walked it up the driveway at 8:30 am on Monday. So far I am very happy with it. It looks like new and takes fantastic photos. It should. It is after all a Nikon Professional level camera, albeit the lower priced one. It is certainly worth the $612 USA I paid on eBay. I want a new high tech lens for it, the kind that has a gyro and a motor in it that compensates for shake. This is becoming more necessary as I age. These lenses used to come in around the $2000 range when they first came out but you can get them now for under $400. I will wait until we get back from Mexico and buy one. I should be able to sell the "old" D70s for around $350 - $400 on Craigslist. That will pay for my new lens. The boys must have their toys and I have finally learned to not jump in and buy stuff as soon as it comes out, but to wait a couple of years for the prices to drop.

I updated the firmware yesterday as it still had the original version 1.0 in it. It now sports the 2.01 version with a couple of things added to the menu that I will never use. You update these things the same as you update the BIOS in a computer. Download the new one, move it to a formatted memory card which you then put in the camera, push a few buttons and Bob’s your uncle!

Well, I am off to help Norma in the garden. She ordered a pallet of concrete blocks which she has some grand idea of using in her flower garden to keep her dirt from migrating onto the neighbour’s property. I don’t think it will work but all I have to do in the project is to carry the blocks from the pallet in the middle of the lawn to where she needs them. I am sure she will tire of this arrangement before long…

The Dow is up and the TSX is up so I am a happy guy. Eventually I may have as much money as I had a few years ago. Life is good and getting better!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Time Is Flying!

It is less than three weeks before we leave! Time flies when you are having fun. Today I installed two scissor jacks on the rear frame of the motorhome. I am hoping it will help level it when we are parked. I have been running it up in blocks until now but that is not a very exact science. Hopefully the jacks will work out better.

I could install an automatic leveling system where I just push a button and it puts down four independent hydraulic jacks and levels itself but that system is several thousand dollars and not something I want to do right now.

My niece Robin called the other night to tell me her and George are heading for Mazatlan on the 20th. For a while it looked like George had a fibre optics contract in Toronto area and that they would be spending the winter there! The job fell through and now they can go to Mexico. A much better place to spend the winter!

We will head down I-5 and over to Yuma where we will visit friends and have the generator serviced. From Yuma we will cross into Mexico at Lukeville / Sonoita and head south as far as Mazatlan to visit Robin and George for a few days. From there I would like to head east to Durango and then south. After that I refuse to make any plans because we much prefer to make up our itinerary as we go. Right now I am only looking as far as the Olive Pit in Corning, CA where I will stock up on garlic olives and walk across the street to a discount liquor store where I found some very nice single malt scotch last year.

In the meantime there is lots to do....

Monday, October 5, 2009

Project Warm Hearts

A couple of years ago Wayne on Isla Mujeres started encouraging folks to knit mittens and scarves to warm the heads and hands of children in a small Mexican village called Xico in the Mexican State of Veracruz. Wayne has coordinated distribution with John & Anita Calypso who live in Xico. Veracruz is on the Gulf of Mexico but the village of Xico is in the Sirrea Madre mountain range to the west and it can get very cold there and cold weather is a shock to these children living in the Tropics. Last year Project Warm Hearts was met with an enthusiastic response and collections poured in. However, it was not long before the Mexican Government started estimating a value and charging duty on these imported items making this plan no longer workable.

Wayne & John are still carrying on with Project Warm Hearts, but now the best way for us to help out is to donate cash that can be converted locally to warm clothing and toys for the Holiday Season to help out the needy kids of the village many of whom will not be getting anything else for Christmas.

John has a PayPal button on the bottom left of his Blog, Viva Veracruz. If you would like to help the kids of Ursulo Galvan and Xico area please consider a donation. The note beside the PayPal button says make a donation to keep the server running so please note that your donations at this time are intended for Project Warm Hearts and that is where they will go. I know there are many deserving charities and not that much money to go around but if you have ever seen a Mexican child react to cold weather you will not be able to stop yourself from helping out. If you can spare a few dollars for Wayne, John and Anita’s efforts, please donate. There is nothing quite like the smile on a Mexican child's face. Thanks.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Table Saw

How much can a 12 X 12 workshop hold? Answer - It depends.

We cleared so much "stuff" out of the workshop and into Norma's new garden shed that I was now able to buy myself a little treat! I have been wishing I had a table saw ever since we bought the house in 1989 but never thought I had room. Also, I had it in my mind that they were expensive and hard to justify for the few times a year I needed one so I made do with my Skill Saw and jig saw. This included putting a laminate floor and new trim in the lower TV room and up the stairs into the living area. It would have been so much easier with a table saw.

Yesterday I was surfing the Net and found a 10" Ryobi table saw on sale at Home Depot for $109, including blade. This is not a saw that you could build a house with or easily rip a sheet of 3/4" plywood with but for what I need it for, it is perfect.

This morning I went down and picked one up. It came in pieces of course and took me a good hour to put together like an old Meccano set. Remember those? It is powered by a noisy 13 Amp motor but it works just fine. I ripped a small piece of plywood and cut the end off a scrap of trim. Perfect! I cut a piece of plywood for the top of it and now it is also a table for the Compound Mitre Saw that my son gave me last year. It takes up no more room than the mitre saw took up sitting on the Black & Decker Workmate that can now fold up and hang on the wall (if I can get enough rust off it to get it to fold).

Now I can sit and watch TV knowing that if I ever get around to checking the job jar, I will have a table saw to do the jobs with. And Rae, it will be perfect for your list of winter projects in the motorhome! Life is Good!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Back Away From The Computer!

Go outside!

Look up!

That is the Harvest Moon! Shine On!

Harvest Moon

Shot with Nikon D70s & Nikon 70 - 300 lens @ 300mm. Exposure manual using "Moony 11 rule”: 1/ASA @ f11 or, in this case, ASA set at 1000, exposure 1/1000 @ f11. Try it - it works every time. Any camera, any lens. This shot was hand held and shows it. My tripod would have been a good idea here.

Pescado Veracruzana

This was my masterpiece tonight. Not bad if I must say so myself! Can’t wait to pass through Veracruz to enjoy their copy of it…

Pescado Veracruzana

You're a luck man John Calypso! You live there.

Odds and Ends

It has been quiet here this week, not much happening. Yesterday I cut some oak and finished the trim around the new dishwasher and wall oven. It was finicky work that I do not mind but I sure would like a table saw! My workshop is not large enough for much more but maybe I could find a small one and then design something that would turn it into a working surface for my mitre saw on top of it. That would save some floor space.

I sent the new netbook down to my granddaughter on Thursday and it was delivered on Friday. She phoned in frustration that she could not get it to connect to the Internet. It turned out that they had lost the WEP key for the wireless router. Very frustrating for the poor kid. She acts so grown up you sometimes forget that she is still a little girl. She sent an email today and said they figured it out but didn't give any details. Anyway, she likes the computer so that makes me happy.

Well, the Vancouver Canucks have just lost the second game of the season. Their record is now 0 and 2, not a great start. The BC Lions won their game last night. They are doing well in the standings but did not play a great game last night. They just sucked a little less than Saskatchewan. Oh well, a win is a win.

Anyway, that is what is going on in the Randle house. I will have to drag myself out of my chair and find something to do. I bought some scissor jacks for the motorhome that have to go on. My son said he would bring his welder up and help me with them but time is running out. I may just try to bolt the rear ones on and he can touch them up with the welder. Or maybe I will just sit here for a while longer...

I found something to do! I made Pescado Veracruzana for dinner. I love that stuff! Red Snapper baked in a concoction of tomatoes, onions, garlic, capers, olives, herbs and lots of olive oil! There should be enough for leftovers tomorrow night.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Rant Alert!

Overheard in Republican Think Tank: (now there is an oxymoron)

"When we poll Americans and ask: "Are you in favor of an affordable, universal Health Care System covering all Americans?", we get an 85% positive response. This is bad! However, if we tweak the question slightly and ask, "Are you in favor of an affordable, universal Health Care System covering all Americans even if it means crushing puppies with a steamroller?", we get a 50.02% negative response from the ones who do not hang up on us. This is better and is how we have to get the question asked!"

The other problem with the wording of questions on the ballot is the complete inability for voters to figure out how to vote to indicate their wishes. The Same Sex Marriage question was one of these. I am not stupid in political matters nor am I illiterate but after having read the actual question placed on the ballot I was unable to determine if a "yes" or a "no" vote indicated my wish to allow all adults the right to marry irregardless of race, colour or sex. I found myself looking to see who was sponsoring the pro and con ads on TV to try to figure out if I was for or against the Propositions. There auta be a law! It is a good thing I don't have a vote, I would need a cheat sheet! Things are still a little simpler here in Canada. People who love each other can still get married and our ballots are worded so they can be understood .

End of Rant