Friday, November 29, 2013

Del Rio, Texas

We drove to Del Rio today. We stopped for groceries as soon as we got into town as we had not shopped for a few days and were running low on some things. The only large grocery store we could easily find was WalMart so that was where we went. It was 4:00 when we finished and we considered just staying where we were for the night but it was Black Friday and the parking lot was busy and a DJ was pounding out "musica" outside the building so we went to a nearby Passport America park. It is not all that nice, being mainly used by monthly clients. Perhaps the name "Buzzard's Roost" should have warned us. Someone had parked their pickup in our assigned spot and the manager had to go find them to have them move. That started an argument complete with racial slurs until the offender put his beer down long enough to move his truck.

We are surrounded by trees so StarChoice is not an option. Luckily there is cable here and after adding my 24 dB amplifier to the line, we are getting lots of channels. We considered staying two nights but the argument next door is getting louder so I think we will move on in the morning. Tonight we will watch TV loud enough to block out the voices next door.

Del Rio UFO Crash - 1955

In 1955, Colonel Robert B. Willingham, US Air Force spotted and briefly followed a UFO on the USA – Mexico border near Del Rio, TX. His report says the craft was flying erratically and wobbling before it crashed into the Mexican bank of the Rio Grande River directly across from Langtry. It is a very interesting story that can be read here

He and another flier returned to the scene in a small aircraft and landed. He was only allowed a brief glimpse inside the craft before being ordered away by Mexican Army personnel who were guarding the area before turning it over to USA forces. He says he saw three bodies inside. The (now 84 year old) retired aviator said the beings he saw fit the common description of UFO occupants with large heads, slit-like mouths, and arms "like broomsticks”. They did not appear to be wearing any clothing. 


Looking Better

I am laying here in bed at 5:00 AM exploring the weather sites. Things are looking better for the Rio Grande Valley with forecasts into the high 70's to low 80's over the next week! It is even warmer here in Marathon as the hose is not frozen this morning.

The trains however are running! One woke me up very early and there was another a while ago which is why I am up typing instead of sleeping. I will try again.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Marathon Photos

Highway 90

The Park
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Frozen Water

Norma got up before me this morning at 7:30 or so and went into the bathroom. "Oh-oh" I heard. "What?" I asked. "The toilet won't flush!" I jumped up and tried the sink, nothing. The water hose is frozen. I turned on the pump and we had water so our holding tanks were OK. The sun is out and it will thaw soon. No problema, as they say in Mexico.

A half hour later everything was back to normal. It is Thanksgiving here which means everything is closed. There are no "Black Friday" sales in quiet little Marathon, TX. Everyone will be home digesting their turkey. However, we are almost out of bottled water which we use for coffee and drinking. I will walk over to the office and ask if the tap water here is good for coffee. It probably is.

Norma is using her rest day for doing laundry and having a shower. It is 9:00 and sunny, 38 F. There is a warming trend on with temperatures headed towards daytime in the low 70's. I hope we are heading into the warmer temperatures.

We talked to Chris and Juan last night. They are in the Rio Grand Valley "RGV" with their trailer, where it is freezing cold as well. They will wait for us there and then the four of us will head over to South Padre Island for a few days on the seashore. I am looking forward to it.

My reader Al sent me an email telling me about a great RV park in Del Rio, TX, called Broke Mill RV Park. Del Rio is about three or four hours down the road and we might just stop there because Laredo is a little far for a days drive for is. Thanks Al.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Marathon, Texas

We are in Marathon, TX. We got up at about 7:00, packed up and headed out by 9:00. We drove on I-10 to Van Horn, stopped for lunch at Papa's Diner and turned onto Highway 90/67 to Marathon. This is the Big Bend Highway and is much more scenic than the Interstate. It is two lane (one each direction) but is pretty much deserted and the pavement is very good. I did learn by my 2010 experience and started on the highway with a full gas tank. In 2010, I started out with only a half tank and was sucking fumes by the time we got to the first gas station in Alpine!

On the way here we passed through the small town of Marfa, TX. Marfa is known for two things. One, it is here where people see the "Marfa Lights", mysterious lights crossing the desert off in the distance. Speculation ranges from a secret military testing facility to UFO's to (the official explanation) a mirage of the Interstate highway located about 80 miles away. I am going with UFO's. There is a rest area type viewing area just out of town, I suspect because so many people were stopping on the highway to watch for lights. Chris says there are always a few people overnighting there sharing a beer and watching for lights. It would be a fun place to stop.

The other thing Marfa is known for is that it was the location for filming of the 1956 blockbuster movie, "Giant" starring Rock Hudson and James Dean. All around town are signs like, "This hotel was the headquarters for filming Giant" or, "This building is where the cast and crew ate their meals during filming". All these old buildings have a fresh coat of paint and are obviously a source of pride for the residents. It was Dean's last performance as he was killed in a car crash before the film was released.

The Marathon Motel and RV Park here in Marathon is nice although pretty basic. There are 19 not quite level, gravel sites with full 30 amp hookups and a very nice central outdoor fireplace that they say will be lit tonight. The big draw is the price with Passport America members paying only $12.50 per night. They have nice showers, great WIFI and a coin laundry so we booked for two nights. Thanks Teresa, Derek and Cassia for telling us about it.

The City of Marathon has a Dark Skies policy so when the nights are clear, the stars put on a brilliant show with limited light pollution. I should have brought my telescope as it looks like we might have a clear sky tonight.

I set up the StarChoice dish for some entertainment. It was an easy setup because, using the Dish Pointer site I found the sites point directly at the satellite so it was easy to find the "bird". Four or five minutes tops.

EDIT: Oops. I just discovered something else about the RV park. It is very close to the railway tracks! I hope there are not many trains!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

El Paso

We drove through to El Paso, Texas today. It was a long day and cool. In fact there was snow alongside the highway most of the way through New Mexico, left over from the recent passage of the cold front.

We checked into the Mission RV Park here in El Paso at about four intending to stay two nights but they have stopped honoring Passport America between November and April so the price is $41.75 per night, too expensive for what you get here. It was too late to move on so we paid for one night. We will move on tomorrow and will get to the Rio Grande Valley one day early.

Chris and Juan... Where will you be? I have a bottle of vodka!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Slept In!

Wouldn't you know it! We have been waking up at seven every morning and the one morning I WANT to get going early, we both sleep until 9:00: It was 11:00 before we pulled out of Cocopah and gassed up. Gas is slowly going down in price as we get further south and east. It was $3.11 in Yuma this morning, down from $ California.

We drove about 230 miles to just north of Tuscon where we found a Walmart for the night. It is sunny but cool, around 58F. Not bad considering there was a cold snap through here recently. Speaking of cold, there is snow in Albuquerque and I-10 through New Mexico had ice on the road yesterday. I hope it is heading east faster that we are!

Sunday, November 24, 2013


We are rested up and are leaving Cocopah in the morning. We went out for dinner with Muff and Val last night to Chilies. It was a lot of fun catching up with them. We have been friends since the mid 60's when Muff and I hired on with BC Tel. They are a great couple.

We will head towards Casa Grande, Tucson and Fort Wilcox. I do not know how far we will get, we will stop when we are tired. Google Maps says it is a five hour drive but that means 6+ for us. I will let you know. We are in no rush.

Friday, November 22, 2013


John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963)

New Algodones Glasses!

We parked in the $5 per day parking lot on the USA side and walked across the border into Algodones, Mexico at about 11:00 AM yesterday. I had my prescription from my Canadian optometrist so the ordering went smoothly at Algodones Optical. They had a sale on so I picked my frames from the higher mid-range selection (they start at free and go up to $200+). The final price was $189 for my first pair and $30 for a second, so my total was $219 for two pair of progressive glasses, the first pair being transition lenses. A very good deal considering the estimate from my Campbell River Optometrist was over $600 for one pair. Viva Mexico!

We had to wait two hours to pick up the glasses so we used the time to walk around Algodones. I got a (seniors, men's) haircut for $3 (plus a $2 tip), we had a lunch of fish and shrimp tacos ($1.75 per large taco) and stopped for coffee in a little mall. Ordering coffee was hilarious. I ordered in Spanish but the young waiter spoke only English, he had no idea what we wanted!

My glasses were ready at 1:00 so we picked them up, got the frames fitted and headed straight for the border. We were early enough that there was no wait so they scanned our passports and we were back in the USA with no questions asked, not even, "What did you buy?".

We got back to the rig and settled in for a quiet afternoon and evening. We were beat from the walking and the previous night's entertaining. I broke out my Fry Daddy outside while Norma cut up some french fries but before I could start cooking, it started to rain. The raindrops landed in the hot oil and splattered so I quickly brought it inside to finish my fries. This morning Norma is complaining about the smell of grease in the kitchen. I can't win.

We had a great lightning and thunder show last night and it rained until early morning. I love the sound of storms and rain on the roof. Norma, not so much. She watched out the window, thinking we were going to wash away over to Mexico.

We are scheduled to leave Yuma on Sunday, heading towards Texas. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Company, Company

We have done nothing here in Cocopah except entertain and rest between entertaining! We do love it that everyone comes around to say, "Hi" and we have made lots of friends here over the years. Our friends Dave and Sharon from Washington State are coming over this afternoon.

Tomorrow, we are taking the day off to cross over the border to Algodones, Mexico for new glasses. I just looked in the safe and we have a couple of hundred hundred left-over pesos in there, enough for a nice lunch! I can't believe our week here is almost half over!

The weather here is beautiful. Bright sun and 66 today. 78 inside!

Monday, November 18, 2013


We are in Yuma. We traveled slow, 2723 KM, six days and $850 in fuel. Fuel prices are higher this year but you have to shop for it smartly. In Canada you can safely assume that gas prices are the same in every station. Not so in the USA where prices can vary hugely in the same city. One particular case was along one stretch of highway where it was $3.55 at one station and $4.05 at another about a mile down the road.

It was an easy drive to Yuma. We left the casino at about 9:00 after filling up at their gas station for $3.33 a gallon, a great deal. We drove along the north shore of the Salton Sea which used to be the playground of the movie stars back in the day. The sea has no way for water to flow out of it so it only loses water through evaporation and this has allowed salt levels to go too high to support life. The result is a foul smelling body of water that holds little attraction. There are a few State Parks and motels left but there are also dozens of abandoned businesses and motels. It is still a nice drive and before long we were in El Centro where we made our final grocery stop at Trader Joe's (Sorry, Trader Joe's was in Palm Springs).

We pulled into Cocopah RV park in Yuma at about 4:00 and bought a site for a week. The weather is great! It was 80 outside when we arrived, cooled down at night to allow a nice sleep and is climbing up again this morning under a clear, blue sky. We set up the StarChoice, an easy process, and contacted our friends Muff and Val who came over for a visit last night and we made arrangements for dinner tomorrow. It will be a nice relaxing week.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Reminder To Self

Never, ever, ever take the I-5 / I-210 route to Palm Springs again! Never! This route skirts Los Angeles and is no fun in an RV. It goes up and over a range of mountains and then back up and over the same range after you turn onto 210. The lanes are narrow and several other freeways merge into ours along the way. Traffic is ridiculous! No, take the Bakersfield cutoff next time,

We had to stop for gas twice today (see previous comment on mountain ranges) and paid $3.79 per gallon, thanks to being in SO CAL (Southern California).

We are parked in the RV parking area of the Morongo Casino just west of Palm Springs. We have been here before and like last time, could not find the RV area. We just parked in the parking lot with the 4-way flashers going until security noticed and came to tell us we could not park there. He then gave us an escort to the proper area with his light bar flashing.

We walked over to the casino where I donated $5 to the slots and Norma, not being as willing as I to admit defeat, donated $40. It turns it into an expensive stop but hopefully this will be Norma's casino fix.

Tomorrow we will get to Yuma and check into Cocopah Golf and RV Resort for three or four days. Our friends Muff and Val from Vernon winter there but we do not know if they are actually there yet. It will be fun anyway.

Hannity Is An Ass

Idiot talk show host Sean Hannity went off the deep end today. He announced that Canada's medical system is in such bad shape that they have now introduced "Death Panels".

What is a death panel you might ask? A Death Panel is a group who takes you aside and says, "You have had a heart attack. It is your second attack and because of that and because you are 63 and also have high blood pressure, we have decided not to offer further treatment. You are going to die". "Death Panels" were invented by half term Governor and half-wit, semi-literate politician Sarah Palin during her failed run for Vice President and the rumors of them have lingered. The novelty of them appeals to the loonie right.

According to Hannity, England and France also have these panels. He is suggesting that if ObamaCare succeeds, the USA will also have them. What a load of crap but these fear tactics probably work on some people.

I know my commenter Don (Don from CA, not Don from NV) will expound on his freedom of speech argument but freedom to speak does not or should not include freedom to repeat a known lie, specially one a stupid as this.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Somewhere On I-5

We got a very late start today. We slept in a little, had some coffee and muffins for breakfast (thanks to our neighbor Pauline) and then headed 40 miles to the Olive Pit where I grazed the sample bar while Norma picked up a few items. Next it was a couple of miles down the highway to a truck wash where, for $1.25 per foot they washed a summer's worth of grime from the motorhome and for $10 extra, included the car and dolly. $50 total including spray on wax.

Then it was a stop at Denny's where for only the second time in my life, I sent my food back to the kitchen. My poached eggs were hard as rocks. I could have made deviled egg sandwiches out of them. She quickly returned with four (!) perfectly cooked eggs, no hard feelings.

We then headed south but by now it was 1:30. We drove through the madhouse of Sacramento and stayed on I-5 instead of taking the Hwy 99 option. 99 is more scenic but is an old concrete highway and the thumping as you hit every joint can be a little annoying. There is nothing on this section of I-5 and at around 4:30 I was starting to nod off so we pulled into a TA truck stop and nestled into their huge parking lot with the big rigs. I think we are in the section where the non-reefers park. I hope so. We will watch a taped movie and call it a night.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Anderson, CA

We are safe and sound in Anderson where we got a lube and oil change for the motorhome. Unfortunately, the "new" computer system will not allow them to put synthetic oil in a motorhome. He tried several ways but as soon as he clicked "motorhome" the synthetic option grayed out. This is not the first time this has happened to us in WalMart. There are also new "No Overnight parking" signs up but the service manager told us to ignore them for one night.


On the way here we stopped for lunch at a Black Bear Restaurant and the couple at the next table were discussing ObamaCare. She said, "There is a poll on the Internet and if they get a certain number of signatures then ObamaCare will be cancelled on January first". OK. Here's Your Sign.

When they got up to leave Norma said, "I hope everything works out with ObamaCare for you". We said we were from Canada and loved our system. They said they had been told that Canadians hated their system and that most Canadians come to the USA for medical treatment. I said that was the Rush Limbaugh theory and they laughed and said that was actually where they had heard it.

She looked to be fifty something and currently has no coverage so they went down to apply. They said she was given two choices. 1) around $50 per month with a $4,000 deductible and 2) around $500 per month with zero deductible. She said the $500 was too expensive. I told her that by taking the $50 option she was saving $450 a month that she could hide away in a savings account and in nine months she would have her deductible saved up for when she needs it. If she needs care more than once a year on average, she would probably be better off with the $500 plan. I think she understood...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Short Day

We actually slept in this morning until after eight. It was quite foggy so no early driving.  Let it burn off, we are in no hurry, Norma walked over to the store for a couple of things we forgot yesterday and it was almost 11:00 before we pulled out. It got sunnier and warmer as we drove and we made it to Grant's Pass where we are in yet another.... wait for it...... yes, WalMart. It was about 3:30 by the time we gassed up and parked. The lot is posted, "No Overnight RV Parking" but there were a couple of other RV's parked so we went in and asked. They said we were welcome to stay one night but no more. The signs were there to satisfy a local by-law. These by-laws seem to appear when RV park owners get themselves elected onto city councils and attempt to pass laws to steer business to themselves. Thankfully, WalMart has a corporate policy to welcome overnighters and as they say, "We are open 24 hours and don't know if you are shopping or sleeping and we are certainly not going to knock on your door and ask".

Tomorrow will find us in Anderson, CA where we will get an oil change in the motorhome. But first we will stop at the liquor store on I-5 just across the California border. This has also become a regular stop as they have some of the best prices we have found anywhere. I will be looking for a deal on a bottle of single malt. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pit Stop

We made a pit stop in Wilsonville, OR, just south of Portland. It is a regular stop where we get our tires checked out for free at Les Schwab and stock up at Camping World and Fry's Electronics. The tires passed inspection but with three of them needing five pounds more air. Next stop was Fry's where I found blank DVD's on at 100 for $12 and CD's at 100 for $29. Good deal.

Next stop was Camping World where we needed two folding chairs with flip up tables which we found for $46 each, expensive but good quality. Also, I had signed up for my Passport America membership by phone from home but they wanted an outrageous amount to mail their book of campground listings to Canada. She said, "Don't worry, they sell them at Camping World. Well, yes they do, but only with a new membership. Books are not available on their own. Norma "spoke" to one of the sales people who saw the look in her eye. The woman quickly pulled a book out of a membership package and handed it to her. "It will put my inventory out, but I agree, it is stupid".

I also had to stop at a T Mobile phone store. I stupidly left Canada without my T Mobile SIM card. I could have bought a new one but I would have lost my number and all the benefits I had earned with my long (7 years) service. I told the service rep my story and he said, "No problem, I'll give you a new SIM and register it to your old number". He did that and made a test call to the phone. "OK", he said. "No charge, you are a valued customer". I rewarded him by buying $50 worth of time which, at ten cents a minute, should last us the rest of the winter.

By the time we finished shopping it was almost 3:00 so we drove the few miles to Salem where we settled into a friendly WalMart where we found a Fry Daddy, a small deep fryer recommended by George, "The Weber Q Man Of Blogland". George is a retired cook and loves his Weber BBQ and his Fry Daddy! Can't wait to try it out!

ObamaCare Booth

We were in a mall today in Salem, Oregon where they had a booth signing people up for ObamaCare. We were in line near it and I overheard the person doing the signing up say to a young couple, "So it looks like $38 per month". I have no idea what he was discussing, the full cost, part cost, deduction or what, all I heard was $38.

There was an older woman in line behind us and Norma asked her if she had signed up yet. She said, "No, and I never will. They implant a chip in your neck or hand with all your medical information on it. I sure don't want that." We asked her where she had heard that and she answered that "It is on the Internet".

We told her we were from Canada where we have health care and we have no chips in our neck (showing her our necks). She said, "It may work in Canada but it can't work here". We asked her why and she answered, "Because we don't want it".

What can you say?

Monday, November 11, 2013

We Are In A Foreign Country!

Well, the USA. Not that foreign. We are in our favorite first night's parking spot, the Walmart at Chehalis Washington. There is a Radio Shack here and that is where I topped up my Virgin Broadband. I am "Grandfathered" in the $40 per month unlimited data plan which it let me renew once again.

The wedding was a blast. Jason held it together, Siri did all the stuff that made everything happen on schedule even through the drama of fighting and crying bridesmaids. Jason's dad (an old friend) did a suburb job of supplying the booze, including a "special" bottle of 40 year old single malt that was reputed to cost a good portion of my monthly pension cheque. He poured "wee drams" of it until the bottle was empty and I am proud to say I got my share.

We parked the motorhome across the street from the venue so 1) we did not have to sponsor any after parties at home and 2) so we could make a quick get-a-way in the morning. Both plans worked! It was freezing cold in the RV that night but either by good luck or good planing, we both had enough anti-freeze in our blood to survive.

Last night was spent in the parking lot at the Black Ball Ferry in downtown Victoria. It was quite a bit warmer there and we made a very early night of it. I was asleep shortly after dinner. We awoke in plenty of time to buy our tickets and clear Passport Control before boarding at 10:00 AM. On the Washington side, we simply showed our passports again. told him our destination and we were on our way. No muss, no fuss.

On the way down the Olympic Peninsula we stopped at Hama Hama Seafoods and stocked up on some goodies, filled the gas in the motorhome and car with some much cheaper ($3.21/gal) gas and some equally cheap propane ($1.99/gal).

We parked at about 4:30, I bought my Virgin Broadband and Norma walked over to Walmart to grab some things. It will be another very early night.

Lined Up

We are in line for the Black Ball Ferry in downtown Victoria. $237 US one way. It has been a busy few days and I am still hung over from Jason and Siri's wedding on Saturday night!

I will try to post an update tonight after I buy my Virgin Broadband time.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tiny Furnace

We had the new furnace installed yesterday. It went in easily and connected to the existing duct work with a couple of custom made sheet metal adapters. The new furnace is just a little more than half the size of the old one.

I was amazed that the new furnace does not use the chimney! All it requires are two four inch PVC pipes to the outside. One for fresh combustion air and the other for combustion gasses to escape. That exhaust pipe gets "warm" but nowhere near "hot". The gas guy says you can comfortably put your tongue on that pipe and after feeling it after the furnace ran for a long time, I believe him.

Other than that, we are slowly getting ready to leave on Sunday after the wedding. Norma has most/some of her clothes loaded and all the food except the fridge is loaded. We went down yesterday and bought insurance for the motorhome, dolly and Honda so that is taken care of. One new thing is a "penalty" of 33% of the liability portion if the motorhome is to be in the USA for more than 120 days. They say this is because of the high cost of lawsuits in the USA. Wow!

Brooks and LindaLee will be arriving later tonight and maybe the granddaughters on Friday if they can arrange for a ride after school on Friday. In any case, it will be busy here for the last few days before we leave.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Expensive Season!

October has been a costly month for us! First the chimney repair at $1000 and then the $4100 furnace replacement. Yesterday I searched for our travel medical insurance and suffered sticker shock once again. Norma is now ** years of age and that triggers higher rates. The best price for our six months coverage came in at $3400. This was from my Visa Card carrier, Desjardins of Quebec. My Gold card gives us two weeks free coverage so I really had to buy only five and a half months insurance from them. The other quotes I got were $3600 from Johnson, which our retirees group has an arrangement with and another from the insurance agency that handles our car insurance for $5500! Thanks but no thanks! Our Canadian health insurance covers us while we travel but only up to what the same injury or illness would cost in Canada which is a fraction of costs in the USA. Maybe I should sign up for ObamaCare! BTW, their website is finally getting some professional attention and things are looking good for it being up and running properly by the end of November.

We like Desjardins Insurance as we have used them for years and they are the ones who handled our claim when Norma broke her hip in Tucson and we had to fly home on a chartered Lear jet!

Add all that together with the regular expenses for the month and my Visa card got hit with over ten grand! That is a tad higher than my income so we will be digging into the "Rainy Day Fund" to pay it off. It will be a good month for points on my card.

Speaking of rain, it has been raining non-stop here for over a week. I have to move the motorhome out of it's parking place so I can open the slide. The kitchen tap started leaking on the way home last year so we bought a new one but have not installed it. It is not a complicated job except it is to cramped in there for my large frame to get under the sink. I believe there is access from under the bathroom sink once the slide is out so I will try that before I call the plumber. Norma would like to wash and wax it before we leave but the weather does not look like it is going to cooperate.

Oh well, what can you do? I can't wait for some of that Texas sunshine. Don't disappoint me, Texas!

EDIT: One unique policy Johnson's has is one which for $644 per year for both of us covers us for a year. The catch is, we would have to return to Canada every 34 days. A friend in Yuma had this. She flew to Vancouver once a month, had lunch with her daughter in the airport and flew back to Yuma the same afternoon. She shopped for cheap flights so it so it was worth it to her. She had heart problems and could not get long term insurance (at least affordable insurance), I hate flying so this would not work for me. I do not fear flying, I just spent so much of my working life in airplanes and airports that I became sick of it.