Sunday, February 27, 2011


We are packing to leave at 8:00 in the morning. I should say Norma is packing. She is trying to cram everything she owns into two suitcases. The trip is four days, two on the ship and two in a hotel in the Bahamas.

She asked me what I was taking and I said, "What I will be wearing plus one pair of light pants, two pair of shorts, three shirts, a toothbrush and a comb, it is only for four days".  Now she is calling me names. Sometimes you just can't win!


Almost a Crisis!

Paul came over about two hours ago to say he had lost his wallet! We searched both his cars, his motorhome, boat, all over the yard and throughout the house, everywhere he had been in the last two days. He was almost positive it was beside the computer in his office so we did a through search there, even in the garbage can. We checked everywhere all over again for a good hour. Paul was afraid Bahamas Customs would want picture ID other than his passport so this was a crisis in the making. Dodie and her DIL came home from shopping and we left the four of them to continue searching.

The wallet finally turned up under a pile of clothing Dodie had pulled out to sort through for the trip. Crisis averted! Why do things like this happen just before leaving on a trip?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

New Phone

I replaced my T-Mobile phone today. The old Samsing “Slider” I got off eBay was starting to die. Some keys were sticking and the battery life was shortening.  It was time for an update.

I stopped at the T-Mobile store to see if they offered free replacements for their Pay As You Go phones but they do not. The kid at the store told me to not buy a new phone there but to get it at Target where their $50 (+ $10 activation) phones were on sale for $30 (free activation).  I am now the proud owner of a new Samsung T139 flip phone.

I am awaiting my unlock code by email so I can use the phone with my Canadian and Mexican SIM’s. T-Mobile will unlock one phone per year for free as long as you have completed 90 days of service and I have had the account for many years.

Friday, February 25, 2011

OK William Shatner, Negotiate!

We are having trouble finding an RV park in Southern Florida and the Keys. Parks are full and we were only able to find four days in one place in Marathon and "maybe" a week in Ft Lauderdale but they did not get back to us. The price of these tentative spots is around $40 - $45 per night.

We have decided to take the advice of our hosts and our son up in Canada. If we decide to explore the Keys after the Bahamas cruise we will accept Paul and Dodie's offer to keep the motorhome here and go south in the car. Brooks suggested Priceline to find reasonable rooms down there like he and Linda did in Hollywood, CA last summer where they got a four star hotel for $79 a night.

This will save us a ton of frustration trying to find RV parks and negotiating the heavy traffic of South Florida. It will also save us about $300 in gas for the motorhome.

Three star rooms in Key Largo and Key West are asking prices in the $150 range but we hope to use "The Negotiator" to get us something for $80 - $90. We will stay four or five nights.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Looking To Move On

Our Bahamas cruise docks on the 4th of March and we will be home that same night. At that point we will have imposed on our friends here for two weeks! They have never made us feel anything but welcome but we really must move on eventually!

We spent a good part of today calling RV parks in South Florida. We tried Ft. Myers, Naples, Homestead and Ft. Lauderdale looking for something. We gave up on the "deals" as none of them offer discounts in March. In the end we were looking for anything! One park in Ft. Lauderdale is calling us back after she "checks the computer" but thinks she might be able to find us something for a week or two (at $260 - $290 per week).

Paul just came over to tell us he just found out that although the ship sails from West Palm Beach, we have to check in at Ft. Lauderdale which is one hour's drive from West Palm Beach! What we assumed would be a three hour drive to the ship is now a four hour drive to Ft. Lauderdale and a one hour drive back to the ship (plus whatever time it takes us to check in)! Boarding starts at noon so we will be up early on Monday morning!

I will have to start resting up!

Snow At Home

Brooks and Linda finally have their workshop ready to go into production. The plan this week was to have their employee start turning out panels while they started digging holes on the site. This is the best situation as Cecil can build them as fast as they can transport them and put them up. The money rolls in!

However the weather Gods were not about to cooperate and snow covered the ground this morning! Their delivery truck could not make it to them so they have no material! Bummer. Here are some shots of the new shop. All ready to go and no material!



Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cape Canaveral

We drove out to Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach today. Everything was shut down at The cape because of tomorrow’s launch but it hardly mattered. Foreign nationals are not allowed anywhere but the Visitors Center anyway. They’re afraid Canada may steal some of their secrets. Or something.

It was a beautiful warm day and a nice drive, with the air conditioner needed both ways. The route out included a couple of Toll roads but the tolls are pretty tame by Mexican standards. One was seventy five cents and the next two a buck and a quarter each. Small change! We drove out to the island past several motorhomes positioning themselves along the 528 causeway to see the launch at 4:45 tomorrow. It would be fun to watch but everyone said the crowds are horrendous on launch day. We continued south down the island, stopping once in Cocoa Beach to put our feet in the Atlantic and then crossed back over to the mainland on the last bridge near Palm Bay (off the map).

We stopped at Ozzie’s Crab House for a late lunch / early dinner on the way home. A very nice day!

Map picture

Darn! I can’t bring my three gallon Margarita glass onto this beach. Honest officer,  I only had one!


Feet in the Atlantic! A little chilly but not bad. Some people were swimming. Maybe after their one gallon drink.


Cocoa Beach


Local wildlife


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What Is Going On In Wisconsin?

The Wisconsin Legislature has been overrun with massive protests, The Government is refusing to back down and the Democrat opposition members have fled the State! What is going on?
The Government is trying to balance the budget the way they have been doing it forever, on the backs of the workers. They have demanded wage cuts of $5000 per year from State employees. They want to do this by forcing workers to pay an additional $5000 per year towards their pensions. If the Unions refuse then there will be massive layoffs.

To block the passage of this Bill the thirteen elected Democrats have fled the State to deny the Government the quorum required to force passage of the Bill. If they had stayed in the State the police would have forced them back to their desks and no matter how they voted on the issue, the Bill would be passed by the Republican majority.

Why is the Republican government of Wisconsin taking these drastic measures against their own workers instead of looking at open negotiations and other obvious areas to cut like their own members Socialist medical plan?

Simple. Republicans have never had any problem raising election funds. The right wing has always had the financial support of the rich and of big business through their many Political Action Committees and offshoot organizations, not to mention the biggest Cash Cow, the NRA.

The only organizations that consistently support the Democrats financially are Unions. This action is simply a way to bust those Unions and to eliminate their funding to those pesky democrats. This was clearly laid out by non other than Rush Limbaugh the other night as he was “justifying” Walker's Union Busting actions.

It is simply Union busting in it’s basic form.

Anyone who has ever worked on either side in a Union environment would understand the concept of trade-offs and negotiations.

When you negotiate a benefit like health care or pensions you also negotiate where the funding is coming from. The workers will say, "We will take a smaller raise this year and have the employer put more into the ...... plan". You give up one thing to gain another, that is why it is called negotiations. You negotiate a package and allocate whatever you negotiate wherever your members want to put it. They may want a shorter work day or they may want a dental plan or they may want a raise in pay. It is their money to "spend" where they want.

The State workers in Wisconsin obviously have given up things over the years to get whatever pension plan and benefits package they have. Maybe it was cash, shorter hours, longer vacations... whatever but be assured they gave something up for every benefit the received. They negotiated and everyone was happy with the result or else the contract would not have been signed. Nothing was ever "given" to a worker.

For the Government to now go back and unilaterally try to cancel what they previously agree to is criminal! You have to be able to trust the person you are negotiating with or there is no point to the exercise and this is the point Wisconsin State employees are at. The Governor cannot be trusted.

Yes, I did union negotiations and no one ends up 100% happy but everyone ends up satisfied. If you are both good negotiators then both sides will think they could/should have done a little better but when you shake hands and sign, that is it. Signing a contract means you give your word you will abide by the conditions you negotiated. Your word is your bond and you do not go back on your word. At least I never did.


We have been tied to the TV set the last few days watching the Canadian Women’s “Tournament Of Hearts” curling.  This is the first year in some time that we have been able to watch the Round Robins leading up to the finals. It has been keeping us around home.

We both curled when we lived in Terrace, BC with me curling three nights a week and sometimes four nights when Anita, our next door neighbour asked me to curl with her in the mixed league when her husband (the mayor) was out of town.

We had a lot of fun and some of our best friendships came out of curling in Terrace.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Quick Thanks To Commerters

I just want to say thanks to every one of you who leaves a comment. All are read, only spam is deleted and all comments are appreciated! Comments turn a "sermon" into a conversation.

I respond to those requiring or asking for a response but do not automatically respond to every comment as some of my fellow Bloggers make a point of doing. I understand that some comments are just that, comments.

All are valuable to me and are appreciated, it shows me I am not simply typing into blank cyberspace.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Medical Poll–The Results Are In

The medical cost poll is complete. Of my 46 person sample, here are the results:

13% have no insurance
30% pay between $1000 and $2000 per year
13% pay $2000 – $4000
10% pay $4000 – $6000
6% pay $6000 – $8000
10% pay $8000 – $12000
15% pay over $12,000 per year per couple!

I think this is ridiculous! Almost a third of American couples pay over $6000 with 15% paying over $12000 and 13% having no medical insurance at all. And this in a country that feels justified in imposing it’s will and “way of life” on others all over the world!

We have full coverage as well as all the extras (unlimited ambulance, semi-private room, etc.) and we pay about $55 per month each. Yes, we have an annual family deductible of $300 for prescriptions but our total drug costs (0 for Norma and 2 for me) are less than that as I buy my prescriptions in Mexico and India. The only thing our medical will not cover is my annual PSA test. That costs me $60 and yes, I am fighting to change that.

We have never had to wait in line, we have always picked our own doctors, can change doctors at will and have never been refused treatment. I once had a free Lear Jet Air Ambulance ride from the Alaska border to Vancouver where they put my ankle back together the morning after I landed.

Yes Rae, I know there is a “Catch 22” situation for full time RVers who cannot prove residency in any one Province. This situation must and will be fixed.

Socialized Medicine does work!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

At Home In Lakeland

Here is Paul and Dodies “guest hookup”. Very comfortable! Thanks guys!We were going to leave in a couple of days but with the cruise coming up, we will impose for another week.

Bahamas Cruise

We booked a four day cruise to the Bahamas! Our friend Paul came over today and said he had a deal for us. He had booked a cruise to the Bahamas some time ago. It was a huge "Early Bird" deal and they leave in a week. Knowing we were trying to find a way to the Bahamas, he called the tour company and asked if another couple could book an additional package for the same early bird price they paid. Surprisingly, he was told yes, he could add us to his reservation. We paid the same as them plus a small surcharge.

We sail out of Palm Beach on Monday the 28th, spend that night on the ship (all inclusive), check into a four star resort in Lucaya (near Freeport) for two nights (not all inclusive) and then another night on the ship (all inclusive) back to Palm Beach on March 3. Total cost? $600.This is only $150 per night! What a deal, you can’t even get a hotel room on the coast for that.

This is going to be fun! We are going to the Bahamas! I will have to visit to the Target cruise wear store! Life is Good!

Map picture

Did I Mention The Weather?

We have finally found our heat! The weather here is the best we have see since last year in Mexico! Daytime temperatures are in the high 70's to 80 and evenings only slightly cooler. Norma spent most of yesterday stashing most of our cold weather gear away. I am finally in shorts and t-shirts!

Now we are sorry it took us almost four months to get here!

We are going to try to move further south next week but the problem in Florida is full RV parks and expensive prices! It has been great being able to stay here at Paul and Dodies for the week. Dodie has had a bad back and has not been able to get out much so they say it is good for them as well to have someone around to talk to and for Paul to go for dinner with. He is a very interesting guy to say the least! He used to own a huge RV sales place just down the street from their house and has also owned several large boats. He has no end of stories about his adventures on the water! It will be hard to leave.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Starchoice Record

We have been using the digital off air TV signal here in Lakeland. It gives us most of the networks and we have not been watching that much TV anyway so I just did not bother setting up the dish. This weekend something in coming on that Norma wants to watch so I set up the Starchoice today.

I got the angles from the Internet, put the dish together and pointed it in the general direction of the satellite. I got a background (noise) signal of 8 which tells me all the cables are connected correctly but I am off the satellite. I gave the dish a little push to the right and BANG! I had a signal of 45! I quickly locked everything down and walked away.

That is the quickest setup I have ever done!

Map picture

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Yesterday we spent most of the day washing the motorhome. We have just been hanging around here at Paul and Dodies and have not been exploring the area. Today we left at about nine to see the Sarasota and St. Petersburg area. Paul marked up our map with a route he thought we might like and he was right, it was perfect for a day’s drive.

Here are some shots.





Time For Lunch

Our drive took us past Longboat Key and we decided it was time for lunch. We saw a sign pointing to the dockside Mar Vista pub and turned in. Our friends Muff and Val had a sailboat they docked in Sarasota for a few years and Muff always raved about the Grouper Sandwiches. Today they were on the menu and I ordered one. It was every bit as good as he raved about! You better come down and get one before they are all gone!


We had to fight a little traffic on the way home but got back to the motorhome well before dark. It was a great day!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cradlepoint! This Is So Cool!

I have the Virgin Broadband Internet stick and I have been very happy with it. It plugs into the side of the computer, you open a program and it connects to the Internet through a cell tower. It is a little difficult as we have two computers and only one of them can connect at a time and I tend to use the small one in the bedroom and the larger one in the living room so it means moving the card from one to the other all the time and there is danger of damaging the USB port.

There is a product called a Cradlepoint CTR35 that turns the Internet Modem (“stick”) into a limited range WIFI zone. It plugs into the wall or inverter and broadcasts a WIFI signal in and around the motorhome. It remains connected and ready all the time which is just what I need/want.

I mentioned it to our host, Paul, and he said he had just bought one at Best Buy on sale for $79 and he would take me down there. They were out of them but Paul saw the bigger, more powerful Cradlepoint 600 that he said he would like to upgrade to as he uses it as WIFI for his whole house and the smaller unit would not reach to where his motorhome is parked. I told him if he wanted the bigger one then I would buy the smaller one from him and that is what we did.

Yesterday we spent too many hours setting up the “Plug and Play” units! We got his working, started the setup on mine and a little later his new one stopped working. We played with the settings for a long time before he called Customer Support who emailed a long list of things to do to troubleshoot the problem. The women were now complaining because they wanted to go out for dinner and Paul and I were getting a little hungry and frustrated as well.

As we were packing things up we realized that I was hooked into the admin area of his router and not mine. We had the passwords and settings so screwed up that neither unit was working! When we got home I was too tired to work on it any more but Paul stayed with it. He reset everything, turned my router off and got his working again by one or two o’clock and then started on mine until he got too tired. This morning we tackled mine again, got into it, reset all the passwords and it worked!!

I velcro’d it to the inside of the passenger side cabover window and started testing. It has a range much less than the advertised 350 feet but I can get a usable signal about 100 feet away from the window (this is fixed now, I discovered a setting to increase power). Both computers can be on at the same time and it will actually handle up to 16 simultaneous connections! It draws hardly any current and can be left on all the time. It is password protected so no unauthorized users can hop on but I can give my password to anyone parked next to us to share. This is an RVers dream come true! Life is Good!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Welcome To Florida!

Here are some bumper stickers on the back end of a vehicle in front of us yesterday. These friendly retired US Navy folks seem to be welcoming us lefties to their State!
I see he has his Jesus Fish on there as well, signifying his "Christian" attitude of acceptance and tolerance, but perhaps he should update to the new symbol:

70 Degrees!

Now this is what winter should be! It is just past noon and it is 70 degrees F out or 21.1 C for us Canadians and Mexicans, eh? It is real t-shirt weather!

I had a little problem where I dragged the dolly wiring harness on the ground the other day. It wore through some of the wires and some strands ended up touching. I thought all was well but yesterday morning the motorhome engine would not start, the battery was dead. I put it on charge all night and the charger showed a battery fault in the morning. The battery is shot. Paul knows a dealer in town so we loaded up the battery and took it down. We are now waiting for a new battery to be delivered to the dealer. The old one was three years old anyway so I am not concerned. S**t happens.

The four of us went to Paul and Dodies favourite steak house last night. I had a huge slab of tuna done rare. Very delicious! Norma, true to form, brought 3/4 of her bone-in rib eye home.

We met Paul and Dodie in Isla Aguada, MX two years ago when Paul had a kidney stone attack and they could no longer keep up with the caravan they were with. The caravan, true to form, left them at the side of the road and carried on without them. Paul had the stone dealt with in Mexico and was recuperating in the beautiful RV park when we drove in and parked next to them. We got along well and they told us if we were ever in Florida....... So here we are in their side yard with a huge concrete pad and 30 amp service! Life is good!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Visiting Friends

We called a couple we met in Isla Iguada, Mexico last year. Paul and Dodi live in Lakeland, FL, about 30 miles from Tampa. We told them we wanted to visit and and would stay in an RV park nearby. Paul said they have lots of property and an RV hookup so why don't we stay there? Great! We will be able to save some money from the overpriced RV parks in Florida and spend it on something better, like food and booze! Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Vote Now!

This is the last day to vote on our little poll off to the right!

Turned South!

I fixed the wire harness this morning and all the lights work fine now. The car was covered with ice when we woke up and Norma said she did not sleep well she said her hair was frozen! It didn't bother me, I just crawled under the covers.

We pulled out, passed Tallahassee (never found "My Tallahassee Lassie") and turned South on Highway 19/98. You can almost feel it getting warmer every few miles as we move south! We tried to make it to St. Petersburg but it started getting dark so we pulled into a Walmart near Spring Hill. We asked the greeter if we could park and he said, "People do, but you will have to ask at Customer Service". The woman at CS had to call a "manager" and soon a 19 year old $9 an hour "manager" appeared. We asked her and she said "No, it is not allowed". I did not like her flippant attitude so we pursued it. We asked if it was a local by-law or store policy and she said the management does not allow it. I told her that Walmarts official policy was that RV parking is allowed unless there are local by-laws prohibiting it. She said lots of people ask and they always say no. We asked to speak to the store manager and an older woman appeared. We asked again and she made a phone call, probably to the actual manager. She spoke for 30 seconds and hung up. She asked us what time we would be leaving in the morning, I told her around nine or ten at the latest and she told us where to park.

I blame thoughtless RV'ers for this problem. We have seen Walmarts where old motorhomes park for days, even weeks at a time. Some folks set up tables and chairs, light barbecues and set up dog runs. It is obvious they intended to stay for extended periods. I also suspect they set up over storm sewers so they can use them to dump. These thoughtless jerks will eventually change Walmarts policy. It is a shame.

These are not really "free" nights at Walmart. Tonight I bought a $49 Schumacker 15Amp battery charger, a $30 recharge for our cell phone, a $10 SD card for the GPS and a few groceries. They get their money from us!

Tomorrow it is a short run to the St. Petersburg / Tampa area where we hope to settle in for a week.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Three States Today!

We are in Florida! We left Mississippi this morning, entered Alabama at noon and crossed into FL late this afternoon. We are now parked in a Walmart about fifty miles west of Tallahassee, FL. The Walmart was posted "No Overnight Parking" but we asked anyway. The greeter called the manager and he told us to go ahead and park for the night. The sign is just there to stop people from taking advantage and staying for several days. These are the kind of people who will eventually ruin it for all of us. Some ignorant people have even been known to dump their holding tanks in the parking lot!

From Tallahassee we will be turning south onto Highway 98 and taking the scenic route to Tampa. I have an aunt in Sarasota who I have met only once. Part of the purpose of this trip is to see her.

We had a little problem this morning when the wiring connector from the dolly became unattached from the motorhome and dragged on the road. I noticed the trailer brake was not working and stopped. The connector was ground down a bit from dragging in the pavement but the wired were nor exposed and I plugged it back in. Several hours later we stopped for lunch and when I went to start the engine, the battery was dead. I went back to the dolly connection and found the cable had been damaged in the dragging incident and several wired were barred and touching. I had grounded out the battery!

It eventually started by using the "Emergency" button which connects the engine to the coach battery and after an hour on the road everything is charged and provided it starts in the morning, no harm was done. I picked up a box of wire splices in Walmart and I will cut out the damaged section of the cable tomorrow morning before we leave. It will be a half hour job.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

KKK License Plates

Just to place an exclamation mark on my last post, it has been released that Mississippi is considering a 2014 State license plate honoring Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Yuk!

Here is the story in the local paper.

Off In The Morning

Our original plan was to move to Mobile, AL for a week before heading to FL. The weather there is virtually the same as it is here in Biloxi, MS. Chilly! We have been getting two or three cold days in a row followed by one nice day. Our neighbor from Illinois promises us it will start getting warm soon and we want to believe him but we also want to warm up before we have to head home. We have to be home in time to mail our taxes by April 30 so that means heading slowly north by the first week in April. We will skip Mobile and head straight for Southern FL! Temperatures there are in the mid 70’s. Just what we need for a few weeks.

We spoke to an older black gentleman ahead of us in line at the grocery store. Norma remarked to him how friendly people are in Mississippi. With an obvious glance at his black skin he said, “Are now, weren’t always”! We told him we were from Canada and thought we were coming down here for some warm weather. He told us to come back in the summer and we would get enough warm to last us through the next winter.

Now an observation

This is our first time in the Southern States. We have known many black people but all of them either in Canada, Mexico or the Western USA. We have spent lots of time interacting and talking to them. Here in the “South” things seem different in everyday interaction between the races. I am most comfortable in situations where there is no apparent or perceived differences between people. I talk to and treat everyone the same; black, white, brown, red, yellow, gay or straight and I expect to be treated the same back. This is my comfort zone and I feel very uneasy stepping out of it. Here, white people appear to be treated differently. Black people seldom or never seem to initiate contact. They will return a smile or nod but they do not come over to talk. If I initiate conversation they are friendly but let me lead the conversation. They always address us as “sir” and “ma'am” which always makes me uncomfortable, I don’t want to be called “sir”. I don’t know if I am creating all this in my head or not. Are they simply taught much better manners than the rest of us or is this a remnant of their life back a few (too few) years? Also, I do not recall seeing a mixed race couple since we left Arizona or New Mexico. I even feel uncomfortable talking about the subject here and I hope all I have said here is just my imagination.

Slow Times In The South

It has been pretty quiet around here the last couple of days. Norma has had a relapse with the cold she got last week and hasn't felt like doing much. I have been "puttering",  that is to say, not doing much either. We paid to stay another three days and that is up. We should move on to Mobile, Alabama but I may go and pay for one more day.

The park Internet was down most of yesterday and the time expired on my Virgin Broadband card. I have been mute!

The Internet was working when I woke up this morning so I have been catching up. What did we ever do before the Internet?

Edit: This weather is getting to us! We have decided to head out tomorrow and drive straight to southern Florida. The temperatures there are in the mid 70's and that is what we need. We are searching the Internet for deals on RV parks and will stay out of the $100 per night joints.

Monday, February 7, 2011


You will notice a new "Poll" box to the right. I am having a discussion on another venue on health insurance costs in the USA. If you live in the USA, please take a second and let me know. I understand my question leaves a lot out of the equation (like age, prior conditions, etc). As always, comments are welcome and appreciated. Thanks.

This subject is generating a lot of interest very quickly! Click on the comments to see what people have to say. To see the results of the poll you have to click on the "Show Results" button.

From the comments coming in, it seems I should have put in higher numbers!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Beautiful Day - At Last

Today is beautiful and sunny! It is 59F outside so Norma has all the doors and windows open. I went shopping for a couple of things while she washed the floor and I was able to just wear jeans and a t-shirt. There is a pot luck tonight where they have the big screen showing the Super Bowl.

I was having trouble with the 89 Honda refusing to start when my neighbor came over to look. He is retired from Caterpillar and was quick to diagnose the problem (or at least one of the problems). The ignition wires were dirty and oily and had never been changed  in 260,000 KM. I went downtown, bought new cables for $24 and installed them. It started right up and ran smoothly. I hope the problem is fixed! The car is very old and not worth putting much money into but I have to keep it running at least until we get home.

My Solar

This post is for reader Bill in Nebraska. He asked about our solar and since today was the day to open up the battery compartment and water the batteries, I thought it would be a good time to snap some photos.

The rooftop panel is a single 125 watt unit. This is about the minimum unless you just want to keep your battery(s) topped off without much being drawn out. We can boondock with this panel as long as we watch our power consumption. We can watch both TV’s and power the Starchoice for several hours at night and as long as there is at least a bright sky the next day, the batteries will recover. More importantly, we can leave the motorhome parked for several days without hookups and the solar will power the controls for the fridge and keep it running on propane as well as keeping the batteries charged.

The rooftop panel is wired down the fridge vent with #10 wire to the Solar Charge Controller and then to the two 6 volt golf cart batteries under the stairs. If I ever add a second panel, I will upgrade to #6 wire. I then ran #6 wire to a 400 watt inverter mounted near the TV area. This inverter runs the TV, TV speaker system, Starchoice, both laptops and the cell phone and camera battery chargers with power to spare. We have another 200 watt inverter in the bedroom for that TV and Starchoice receiver.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cajun RV Park, Biloxi, MS

We are across from the beach here in Biloxi. The Quality Inn that was across the street was washed away by Katrina and never rebuilt. All that is across the street now is a gas station.

View Larger Map

1,649,267,441,664 Bytes

That's 1.5 Terabytes! That is the size of the Seagate external hard drive I bought a couple of days ago at Walmart for $70. I forgot to bring my old external drive with me and have been paranoid about losing my photos from the trip. I was going to buy a smaller one (both physically and capacity wise) but this monster was only $10 more.

It came with free backup software so I backed up both computers onto it as well as copying all my photos. I have not even dented it's full capacity.

I bought a 1 terabyte drive three years ago and paid almost $200 for it. Some things are coming down in price! I can remember a few years ago when the 1 Gigabyte drives came out. "Who would need all that capacity"?, I thought. Well, I soon bought one and watched it slowly fill up. This new one has the storage of a whole wall full (1,500) of those tiny Gigabyte units.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cold Times In The South

As much as I complain about the weather here in Biloxi, others are getting it worse. Here are conditions in places where other friends are right now.

Rod from Campbell River, BC had his water hose freeze in Yuma, AZ.

The Bayfield Bunch are thawing out plumbing in –2F (-18C) near Benson, AZ.

The Radio Girl and her “Fella” are “cuddling” in 17F (-8C) nights near Tucson, AZ

Wandering Willie is reportedly frozen solid in Columbus, New Mexico.

Eve and Steve are freezing at 20F (-7C) in Port Aransas, TX.

Alistair and Mary are shivering at 23F (-5C) in the Rio Grande Valley, TX’

Chris and Juan in Monterrey, Mexico are also experiencing 20F (-7C).

On the other hand,

Les, aka “Mexico Kid” has been tanning in the sun in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Jonna and Mimi are enjoying 88F (31C) (Jonna would like it warmer) in Merida, Mexico.

John Calypso says “Great weather down here in Puerto Escondido amigo (same as last year and the year before, and...)

Would someone please remind me why we decided to stay in the USA this year?

Right now it is 39F (4C) and raining here in Biloxi, Mississippi. This temperature seems to be similar to our next stop in Mobile, Alabama so we may move there after our week is up here on Monday. Norma is feeling a little better so we might actually be able to see some of Biloxi in the next couple of days.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Use The Power Button, Stupid!


Like most RV’s ours has a Winegard Sensar “Batwing” TV antenna (first photo). Mine worked fairly well (I thought) for the past two years and when the USA switched to digital TV signals I added the Winegard Wingman (second photo) to convert the antenna to digital. I was now sometimes able to pick up a few HD channels off air while we boondock in Walmarts. I was happy…. I thought I was state of the art!

Last night I was reading, one of my RV forums, when I came on a discussion on these antennas. Someone was complaining that he was getting no signal from his while his neighbors were getting several channels. He wondered what could be wrong.

One of the other posters asked him if there could be something wrong with his Antenna power supply or if the switch was turned on. Huh??? Switch? What switch? I am supposed to know about antennas but I never heard of powered antennas. I thought they were just like the old rabbit ears, passive devices.

I climbed up behind the TV and sure enough, there on the wall was a little power button. I raised the antenna and scanned for digital channels. There were none. I pushed the button, a little green light came on and I scanned again. This time I got eight channels, all clear as a bell.

This is going to make the whole boondocking experience a lot more fun. The antenna has to be turned to face the transmitters but there are a few sites on the Internet to help you do this from whatever location you are at. I guess am still in danger of skidding off the learning curve!

Hunkered Down In Biloxi

A quick glance at the weather map will show you what we are facing here in Biloxi.  In a word, it is COLD! The only good night was the first night we arrived and sat outside with our next door neighbors. I did not even need a jacket until about 9:00. That all changed quickly. Since then we have had scattered rainstorms, thunder and lightening, wind and even hail.

Norma came down with a sore throat and sinus cold  on day two. The sore throat repaired itself but the stuffed sinus and cough has remained.

We went for a drive yesterday, found a bakery and scouted out some of the casinos for a possible visit and then came back home. We are running our two electric heaters pretty steady and staying inside. We booked for three days which is up today and we have not seen anything of the area. I will wander over and pay for the rest of the week. It is supposed to warm up by the weekend.

So far temperatures have been below average for our whole trip!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More On Lower Ninth Ward

Just a couple more thoughts on the Lower Ninth Ward damage. All of the houses were old and not very well maintained, they did not stand a chance against the storm surge. To compound the problem, many of the houses had been informally "inherited" from parents and grandparents with the name on the title never being changed. The long dead ancestors were the legal owners. They had no mortgages so therefore no automatic or mandatory insurance. Any funds that were paid out by the government or by the few insurance claims could only be paid to the legal owners who were long since dead. A catch 22 situation with the current "owners" out of luck.

This financial situation added to the disgraceful actions of the Army Corps Of Engineers in the building of the flood walls created a disaster waiting to happen. The fly-by-night lowest bidders who built the walls with substandard materials and building practices were the final straw. The walls failed the first time they were tested.

When I was searching the Internet for information on the LNW I found this information:

If you are living in New Orleans you may notice that people don't much like the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The flooding in the City of New Orleans (except for New Orleans East) was caused by breaches in flood walls for canals. The flood wall for the Industrial Canal was built in the middle 1960s and it failed basically because it was not constructed to withstand a Katrina (built on the cheap). The flood walls that breached and flooded the rest of the City were built in the 1990s. The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), designed, built, and was responsible for the major maintenance of all the flood walls that breached.

For years the USACE told us (residents of New Orleans) the flood walls were fine. It was a lie (lie = saying something you know is false for the purpose of deceiving someone). After Katrina, the USACE tried to pass blame for the failures onto anyone and everyone they could.

Court hearings in 2007/2008 discovered the USACE knew all the flood walls were poorly built and lied about it, but agency officials took the position they built the best floodwalls they could with the money budgeted by Congress. The result was a federal court ruling stating the USACE was responsible for the failures. However, the USACE - as a federal agency – has immunity for most actions & decisions.

Court hearings in 2009 discovered the USACE diverted funding from the 1990s flood walls in New Orleans to the “Big Dig” commuter tunnel in Boston. They did that because Massachusetts is an “important” state while Louisiana is a “flyover” state.

Their decision(s) killed 1500 people and resulted in more than $100 Billion in damage to the City of New Orleans.

The USACE and its officials still have immunity.

Tornado Watch

We are in Biloxi, Mississippi where they have just issued a Tornado Watch! There is thunder and lightening right on top of us. I know that because the lightening flash and thunder are simultaneous. The noise of the rain hitting the roof completely drowns out the TV. The warnings on the TV say this will go on at least two more hours. No sightseeing today!