Friday, July 30, 2010


It was Norma's birthday the other day. We never make a big deal of these things, sometimes have dinner out or something. This time, I mentioned an ad in the paper for a sale on Garmin Nuvi 265WT's. They have the wider screen and are a little easier to read. The maps in the older Nuvi 255 are a little dated and the new one says, "turn left in 200 feet on Elm street", instead of "turn left in 200 feet". This makes navigation a little easier.

Anyway, she said she wanted one for her birthday! Boy, does that ever let me off the hook. It arrived yesterday and today I registered it and was told I qualified for a map update. It has been doing that for the last hour.

One of my old workmates is having a small retirement party in the pub down the street that we are going to. I have been retired for 10 1/2 years so there are not many left there who I worked with. It will be fun seeing everyone. Not so much fun buying $8 mugs of beer.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dog Days Of Summer

It has been slow around the homestead. Norma is into her never-ending battle with the deer (the deer are winning) and I am just happy watching the world go by. The eagles that share our property have been active with their young who are still learning the finer points of this "flying" thing. One of them, Probably the old man, has found refuge on a large rock just offshore where he is not bothered. He spends hours there watching the nest, probably waiting until things quieten down so he can head back for a nap.

Brooks and Linda were up on the weekend. He has his motorcycle running so that is how they got here. Norma worries about them when they are on it and bugs me until I call them to make sure they are still alive. At last check they were.

They want to buy a house, at least checking out the possibilities. We have bought two houses in our lives, the first for $26,000 and the one we are in now for $84,000. That was a lot of money at the time. They are talking much more than that! Times are different. The place they are looking at has a huge shop on property. They are making all sorts of plans but they have to be reminded that they do not own it yet. It is a bank repo and they are going to make a low ball offer on it to see how bad the bank wants out from under it. If all works out they will be able to rent the shop out to their own business. We are cheering for them!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Time To Fess Up

I have a confession to make! We have been watching the drug violence in Mexico closely ever since we came home in April. We thought (hoped) it would blow over after the gangs killed off most of each others members but this does not seem to be happening. The violence used to be centered on the borders with a little seeping down the west coast, leaving the central Colonial areas and the Yucatan in relative peace.

The battles have now intensified with the narcos using military tactics as well as recruiting mercenaries from Central America. There has been one car bomb with threats of more to come. Despite the valiant efforts of the navy, marines and federalies the gangs seem to have free reign to operate wherever they choose. Calderon's war on drugs seems to be failing, at least for now. The death toll is now at 25,000 with no end in sight.

Admittedly, the violence has not reached the RV'ing community to any great extent. There have been some hijacking of vehicles and one shooting incident in our old RV park in Mazatlan but so far, no one has died. Our friends Jonna and Mimi in Merida tell us that in their area, there is no problem whatsoever and mi amigos John and Anita Calypso live in peace in the mountains west of Veracruz. On the other hand, Chris and Juan in Monterrey have been uncomfortably close to a lot of violence in the past few months. I am beginning to understand that there are two Mexico's, one I want to be in and one I want to avoid. The problem is, you have to pass through one to get to the other.

Like I say, we have been watching closely and now it is time to start making some plans for the winter. I cannot be called a scardy cat as far as travel goes as we have never backed away in the past. We have always been careful and aware of our surroundings in Mexico as well as in the USA and Canada ("situational awareness" as my military friend Steve or "Belgique" from North Carolina calls it). We know the warning signs of violence and avoid those areas and circumstances. The problem in Mexico is that police and soldiers are being attacked while simply driving down the road. The weapons being used are military issue and tend to spray a lot of bullets around in a very short time. If you are nearby when this happens there is a chance you may be hit.

If you want an up close and personal look at the violence in Mexico have a look at Borderland Beat. It is very graphic and maybe a little sensational but no responsible person can ignore the facts and this site shows them all in gritty detail!

All of you who know me know how hard it is for me to say this because I love Mexico and her wonderful people. We have traveled from one end of the country to the other with no problems but I think the time has come to take a year off.

We are looking at the Texas Gulf Coast as well as Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. There are places down there we have always wanted to see and this might be our best chance. The Blog will still be called "Croft's Mexico" because that is where my heart is and will always be considered my second home. This will just be one year off...

On the other hand, those of you who have been watching this Blog know how likely we are to stick to our plans!

My overriding emotion over the whole situation is anger! Anger at those who make canceling our winter of RVing in Mexico necessary and anger at myself for succumbing to the threats.

It is a sad situation! Perhaps we can meet some of our Mexican friends in the States sometime over the winter. It would be "almost" as much fun.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Don't Fence Me In

I am sure you remember the story of our disagreement with the condo next door over repairs to the fence between us. After our discussion with them they sent a letter telling us that they felt replacement of the fence was our responsibility. We countered with our own letter telling them that we offered to pay half of a complete new fence or, failing that we would extend their hedge for the twenty five or so feet to replace the remainder of the fence that was destroyed last winter. As you recall, the tree that fell may or may not have been on our property. It appears that the tree was very close to the property line and may have even been on their side. It is very unclear without a survey.

They sent another letter telling us they were hiring a fencing contractor to replace the fence and would be sending us the bill of $1,700, the full cost of the fence. Today the fence crew arrived and removed the old posts and started the new fence. When the bill arrives, we will ignore it. The saga continues.....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Craigslist Comes Through Again!

We had two large, unused plastic composters that were taking up space. I put them on Craigslist to give away for free and within five minutes we had two hits! Annette just picked them up.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Kiva Loan Day

I was just notified by Kiva that some money had been repaid on my outstanding loans. I now had enough credit to make two additional loans so I went to the Kiva Website.

There I found two loan applicants from Bolivia. Rosario has a kiosk in the Pedegral District of Bolivia where she sells “salchipapas” (sausages and fried potatoes). Her husband is a taxi driver and together they earn enough to make payments on their own house in the city. She is requesting a small loan to buy supplies and equipment for her business.


Luis Carlos Angulo Zurita is a 24 year old youth in the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia. He lives with his parents, attends University in the daytime and works in his families restaurant at night where he is training to be a chef. He is seeking a loan to replace the kitchen equipment in the restaurant because the existing equipment is very old. The restaurant is very popular and after he graduates he hopes to open branches of the family restaurant throughout Bolivia. here is Luis with his mother:

Luis Carlos Angulo Zurita

Any day I am able to help someone in a small way is a good day! I have now made thirty loans. Twenty three have been completely repaid and seven more are being paid off with regular payments. I have not had one default. My total investment in Kiva is less than $200 and I have helped thirty individuals and families break the cycle of poverty! I have spent almost that much on one night out. There is no comparison of the value received and I always have the option to take my money back or to reinvest it every time it is repaid.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Linda and Me

Doesn't she make me look good? My son is a very lucky man!
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Argentina Joins The Modern World

On Thursday the Argentine senate cast the final vote making same-sex marriage legal in that country. The law, which also allows same-sex couples to adopt, had met with predictable fierce opposition from the Catholic Church and other religious groups. Congratulations Argentina and welcome to the modern world!

This map does not show some individual capitals and states that allow same-sex marriage such as: CT, DC, IA, MA, NH, VT and the Coquille tribe of Oregon. In Mexico it is Mexico City (DF) and the Mexican state of Coahuila

Come on so-called "freedom loving" countries (you know who you are). Catch up!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

86 Days and 219,135,000 Gallons!

It looks like they finally got it stopped. Lets see if it holds.

This little video takes a humorous look at the leak. If anything about this incident could be called humorous!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Final Scenes

Crystal and Linda, a couple of cuties!

Coyote on the way to Banff. (Maybe a Red Fox?) No, it is a coyote..

Brooks and Linda.


The Blushing Bride

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The Wedding!

Crystal and Bruce

Delivered to the altar...

We finally get to meet Derrick! What a nice guy. Welcome to the family Derrick!
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The "Cabin"

This is the "Cabin" we rented in Kimberly, BC. It is very nice! Spotlessly clean and very comfortable. There is a bedroom on the main floor, two beds in the loft and a hide-a-bed in the living room. It is about ten KM from the ski hill. If anyone is looking for a great rental in Kimberley, drop me a note and I will send it to the owner (who happens to be a regular reader of this Blog!)

The second photo is the outside with Norma and Linda on the deck.

The third photo is a downpour that started about
one hour before the start of the OUTDOOR wedding ceremony! It was an ominous sign but it did stop (or at least turn into sprinkles) in time.
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Monday, July 12, 2010


I suppose it is a result of my decades of working in the high tech communications field, including hundreds of nights sleeping in mountain top microwave sites but my ears and mind is highly tuned to sounds that others might not notice. When an alarm like sound goes off, I am instantly awake and alert, wondering what it is and what I have done wrong to cause it.

Such is the case when a cell phone sounds it’s low battery warning. No matter where the phone is in the house, I am instantly alerted when it makes it’s first sound…. BEEP…

Such was the case (again) last night at 3:00am! BEEP….. My mind was working on the problem before I was awake.

What was that?



Did a system switch?


Where was it?

This mental process all takes place between the first and second beep. By the time I hear the second beep I am wide awake. The phone is in Norma’s purse, unknown and forbidden territory for yours truly. There is no way I can sleep through the hour or so before the battery is too dead to even power the beep. I have no choice.


“Norma!” …….. “Your phone is beeping!” …….


“Shut up and go back to sleep, it is the middle of the night!”

“I can’t. Plug it in or turn it off!”

“Turn what off?”


“Your phone. It’s beeping!”

“I can’t hear it. Go to sleep”


“I can’t sleep with the alarm going off!”

“What alarm?”


Well, I am sure you are getting the picture. Eventually one of us gets up and plugs the damn thing in but by now we are both wide awake and can’t get back to sleep for a half hour or so. She turns on the light to read herself back to sleep. Another chapter in the saga draws to a close.

On Our Way Home

The wedding was a great success and we are on our way home. We are taking the long way home with a stop at Banff, Alberta where Linda lived and worked for a while a few years ago.

I do not have any way to move photos to the computer so posting will have to wait until we get home on Wednesday or Thursday. Here is where we are. The top pin is Banff, the bottom pin is Kimberley.

Map picture

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Off To Kimberley

We are off to Kimberley, BC for a family wedding! We are going with Brooks and Linda and will be staying in a fancy shmancy condo owned by Linda's aunt. Kimberley is a ski resort in the winter that is trying to become like Whistler. We have been there only once and that was many years ago.

It is Crystal and Derrick's wedding. Christal is my niece's vertically challenged daughter and despite the size of the package, is more fun than I probably will be able to handle. Just like her mother! Derrick however, is an unknown quantity to me. Although he and Crystal have lived together for years and have a charming daughter together, I have never been lucky enough to meet him. He works out of town and that is where he has been every time we have stopped by. In fact, I began to question his very existence after a while but I suppose the wedding will put this debate to rest.

As they have been together so long they do not want gifts. They have everything they need and just want to have fun with their family and friends. My favorite kind of wedding! Perhaps there will be a travel fund started to send them all on a little trip...

We are heading down to Brooks and Linda's this afternoon and will be catching the 7:00am ferry Thursday morning. This will give me a chance to use my free ferry pass that we get when we turn 65 here in BC. One of the very few perks of getting old! Kimberley is a two day drive each way and we will stop for the night somewhere along the way and arrive in Kimberley Friday afternoon in time for the pre-party party. Crystal asked me to bring her a sample of some good tequila that I brought home from Mexico. This I will do, although I feel it might be a mistake....

Talk to you when I can. Have a great weekend!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Flight Training

There was a great commotion in the trees behind the house this morning! We went out and a bunch of eagles had gathered to supervise the first flying lessons of one of this years batch. There were two adults and two yearlings in a tree behind us making a huge clatter as the new one was soaring in the sky albeit a little tentatively.

In a tree a couple of hundred feet away were another adult and yearling watching the show and another small group down on the beach. All in all there were five or six adults, four or five yearlings and the baby. All the older ones were crying encouragement and giving lots of tips!

Below is dad showing the kid how to make low passes over the beach looking for lunch. "This is how you do it son". "You can start getting your own meals now!"

Photos were taken with my Nikon D200 digital SLR and a Tamron 18 - 250mm lens.

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Old Joint

Here is our house in Campbell River. This is the patio with outdoor fireplace where we have Birthday Parties. My hammock goes between the posts of the pergola.

The other shot is over the front fence towards the ocean. They are in the process of improving the road in front and the utility wires you see will soon be underground.
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Feeding The Deer

This is one of Norma's prized flowers.

This little guy's mom brought him down to show him how to eat Norma's prized flowers while keeping away from the Angry Woman Who Yells at them and chases them away.
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The Bathroom Project

Well, it is 95% done and we just have to buy a new light fixture for above the mirror and some towel racks. What started as a simple $100 job of replacing the rug with tiles has turned into a $1500 remodel! It looks nice and if the Queen ever drops in for a visit, she will feel quite at home.

It is quite a change from what was there. The floor was rug, the vanity and toilet were very 60's and as soon as we started, we knew we had to replace them.

Sorry for the poor perspective on the photos but even with my 12mm lens I could not get far enough away to show everything.
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Friday, July 2, 2010

Booked Our Cuba Vacation!

I just booked our Cuba vacation. Our son Brooks has been there many times and knew all the websites for cheap rates. We booked a week in Veradaro's Club Kawama. It is a three star hotel on the beach. Brooks has not stayed there before but has stayed next door. He says the only difference between the three and four star places (besides the price) is the food. They found that they eat downtown most of the time anyway and since we are leaving the hotel to stay in Havana for two nights, it was not worth the huge difference in cost to upgrade to a 4 or 5 star. He also says if you tip well at the all inclusives, the quality of the food magically improves.

A week is not very long but we will see all the important stuff and still have a few days on the beach. It is costing $1100 each including all the flights, taxes, hotel and meals. If we lived in Toronto it would be about half the price!

It will be great spending a whole week with Brooks and Linda. They only live about four hours drive away but we do not see them often enough. God! Our little boy will be 40!