Wednesday, December 31, 2014


New Years Eve Traditions, Mexico Style!

New Years is our chance to get rid of the negative in our lives to make room for the positive. New Years Traditions abound in Mexico and include:

1) Make a list of all the negative things of the past year and just before midnight, throw the list into the fire. This will rid them from your life forever.

2) Wear red underwear if you want love and yellow if you want money.

3) Eat one grape and make one wish with each of the twelve strokes of the clock as it counts out midnight.

4) Sweep out your house before midnight. This rids the house of the negative forces that have accumulated over the past year.

5) Bringing your luggage outside at New Years will ensure you will travel in the upcoming year.

6) Make an effigy of a hated politician, stuff it with fireworks and set fire to it at midnight.

7) Visualize a huge cloud crossing the sky at midnight. People who are lucky enough to have a glimpse of the cloud are believed to experience good luck in the New Year.

Pleasant Surprise!

We were just finishing up a late breakfast this morning when a pickup stopped in front. It was our friend Rick from Rick's Bits 'n Bytes, Pics and News stopping in for a visit with Rylie. Rylie quickly found a comfortable spot on the back of the couch where she could watch the neighborhood while us humans chatted. Rick did a couple of tweaks on my computer that will make life easier for me.

Rick and Paulette are staying at The Sands, just down the road from us and Paulette was off on one of her excursions so Rick and Rylie decided to come and find us. It was a nice visit.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Just Wait, It Will Get Warmer!

Says my friend Brian who has spent several winters in Desert Hot Springs. Well, we are waiting.......

The nights are... what is the word... COLD! It warms up by noon, usually enough to walk around in shorts and t-shirt. The pool and hot tubs here are fed by the thermal hot springs and are always very warm and are open all night so we can always walk the fifty feet to the pool complex and have a quick dip in the hottest tub to warm up. That is what I did at about 9:00 PM last night.

Here is the forecast for the next 14 days (in Celcius):

We do not know what we are going to do after January 18 when our time here expires. We could renew for another month or we could head out over to Arizona. Our options are open and a lot depends on the chart above.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Cool Nights, Sunny Days

We have had some wind lately with the motorhome rocking and rolling a bit. Mornings have been cool enough to justify long pants but it only lasts until eleven or so and then it warms up and the shorts come out. Our friends Rod and Sylvia are in Apache Junction, AZ and are getting some below freezing nights so it could be worse.

The excitement around here this morning was moving a 40 foot rig into a spot across the street. A couple from Pennsylvania sold their older class A motorhome and bought a 40 foot 5th wheel locally. It was a bit tight getting it in but with six guys watching and one guy working it went well.

It has been pretty quiet around here. The Christmas potluck was well attended with way too much food. Norma and I got roped into selling 50/50 tickets at the door and managed to raise $73 for the Social Committee. It is a good way to meet everyone.

We are five weeks into our stay here, the longest we have ever stayed anywhere for many years. The weather is good, the people friendly and the pools hot. What is not to like?

Another sunny day in the desert. Life Is Good.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

It's Aliiiiiiive!

So I was sitting here thinking... Yes I know it is Christmas Day and no, I guess I really don't have what you would call a life. I was thinking about what to do with my dead Windows 7 laptop that I recently replaced. Salvage the hard drive? Try to turn it into a Linux machine? Run over it with the motorhome? Then (better later than never) I remembered the set of three DVD's I made when I first set it up. They were tucked away in my computer bag. Maybe it is not totally dead...

I dug out the disks, put #1 in the optical drive and hit power. It recognized the disk and asked if I wanted to restore the computer from the set of disks or from the Recovery Partition! I told it from the Recovery Partition and away it went. It eventually opened up like the day it was born. I installed Chrome and MSE Anti Virus and it is working!

My work was interrupted when I could not convince Norma that fixing the computer was more important than going to the potluck Christmas Dinner here in the park so I had to leave it in a state of limbo for a couple of hours.

It was still alive when I got back and is now busy downloading updates. I will let it do it's thing overnight and re-start it in the morning. Maybe I will end up with a reliable backup computer!

All this reminds me that I better make a set of backup disks for the new computer. Do we still do that with Windows 8,1? I will find out.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve!

Here it is Christmas Eve already! We managed to talk to Brooks, LindaLee, Jayde and Sierrah on Video Skype this morning and Norma got hold of her brother in the hospital in Victoria so it was great to talk to everyone!

The photo above was taken on a drive to nearby Julian, CA where a friendly bear is standing in as Santa's Helper! He says, "Have a Gurrrrreat Christmas!"

We are having some friends from the park over for snacks later today so Norma is busy digging treasures out of the freezer. It will be a nice, warm evening here in Desert Hot Springs so we will do it all outside!

We want to take this time to wish a Very Merry Christmas to all our family, friends and readers wherever you are!

We are also having a bit of a White Christmas! There is a little snow on one of the peaks way off in the distance! You have to look closely to see it!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


I just had to re-post this video from my friend Bill's Blog. So long Joe Cocker, you were one of the best!

Few entertainers put so much of themselves into their music. Janis Joplin is one other one that comes to mind.

Christmas Traditions In Mexico

You have not been subjected to much Mexican "stuff" on this Blog for quite a while but I want to share this write-up of how Mexicans celebrate Christmas.

In many Latin countries there are actually 12 days of Christmas with much of the gift giving done on Three Kings Day. Many will be partying from before Christmas until after Three Kings Day. Lots of fireworks. Lots of drinking. Gunfire New Years Eve. Here is a little more……….

January the 6th is a special day in Mexico. Known as 'El Dia de Reyes' (Three Kings Day), this holiday represents the height of the Christmas season. The date marks the culmination of the twelve days of Christmas and commemorates the three wise men who traveled from afar, bearing gifts for the infant baby Jesus. The children of Mexico in particular look forward to this holiday as traditionally, gifts are exchanged on this date, not on Christmas day.

In Mexico and many other Latin American countries, Santa Claus doesn't hold the cachet that he does in the United States. Rather, it is the three wise men who are the bearers of gifts, who leave presents in or near the shoes of small children. The holiday is also known by the name of the Epiphany which dates back to the 4th century. A grand feast would be held on this day to honor the occasion of Jesus' baptism and to pay homage to the three wise men.

Many believe mysterious events preceded Jesus' birth with perhaps the most notable being the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem. This new star appeared in the evening sky just prior to the arrival of Jesus. Three wise men or Magi as they were then known, whose names were Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar, traveled a far distance to pay homage to the Christ child. They brought with them fine gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Three Kings Day remains an important holiday for the people of Mexico. In addition to the gift-giving aspect of the day there is also a culinary treat that is specific to the holiday. Known as 'Rosca de Reyes' (King's Cake), this holiday dessert offers much in the way of symbolism. Shaped in the round to signify a king's crown, this sweet bread holds a special surprise. Baked inside is a small plastic figurine representing the baby Jesus. Whoever finds this token is obligated to host an upcoming party for the occasion of 'Dia de la Candelaria' (Candlemas Day) which occurs each year on February 2nd.

The effigy of the baby Jesus, hidden inside the cake, represents another aspect of the holiday. The reason Jesus is 'hidden' inside the bread is to symbolize how in life, the Christ child's birth location also needed to remain secret, in order that his life be spared. The ruler of Jerusalem at the time, King Herod, had been appraised of the mystical signs that indicated the new and rightful King of Jerusalem was soon to be born. Herod's reaction to these predictions was swift and horrible. He ordered his minions to murder all male infants recently born in Bethlehem. However, as destiny would have it, Mary and Joseph found their lodgings in a manger, not an inn. Herod's henchmen didn't think to look for an infant in such a location.

Another lovely custom associated with the Three Kings Day holiday centers around the evening meal. Traditionally, the supper served on this special day is delicious corn tamales accompanied by hot chocolate. This makes for a perfectly quintessential Mexican meal and one that is enjoyed by everyone in attendance.

Western Christianity celebrates the Magi on the day of Epiphany, January 6, the day immediately following the twelve days of Christmas, particularly in the Spanish-speaking parts of the world. In these areas, the Three Kings ("los Reyes Magos de Oriente", also "Los Tres Reyes Magos" and "Los Reyes Magos") receive letters from children and so bring them gifts on the night before Epiphany. In Spain, each one of the Magi is supposed to represent one different continent, Europe (Melchior), Asia (Caspar) and Africa (Balthasar). According to the tradition, the Magi come from the Orient on their camels to visit the houses of all the children, much like Sinterklaas and Santa Claus with his reindeer elsewhere, they visit everyone in one night. In some areas, children prepare a drink for each of the Magi. It is also traditional to prepare food and drink for the camels, because this is the only night of the year when they eat.

In Spain, Argentina, México, Paraguay and Uruguay, there is a long tradition for having the children receive presents by the three "Reyes Magos" on the night of January 5 (Epiphany Eve) or morning of January 6. Almost every Spanish city or town organises cabalgadas in the evening, in which the kings and their servants parade and throw sweets to the children (and parents) in attendance. 

Every year thousands of horses from all over Mexico make the peregrinacion (pilgrimage) to Cubilete near Guanajuato - then a cabalgata to the top on or around Three Kings Day. (Many pictures online).

El Cerro de Cubilete (Cubilete Hill) is located 15km west of the city of Guanajuato in the heartland of Mexico, a region known as the Bajio. At 2,579m (8,460 feet), Cubilete Hill is the highest mountain in Guanajuato state and thought to be located at the exact geographic center of Mexico.

Marvel at the towering Cristo Rey (Christ the King) statue, a 20m (65 feet) monumental sculpture, religious site and museum situated atop the summit of Cubilete Hill, and enjoy stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area. The statue faces the city of Leon and can be seen for miles.

Erected in 1950, the bronze Christ the King statue is one of the most historically important religious shrines in Mexico. It replaces a smaller statue that originally occupied the same spot atop the hill and was destroyed during the Cristeros War, an uprising against the Mexican government over anti-Catholic provisions added to the Mexican constitution during the first half of the 20th century.

Today, the Christ the King statue is a favorite Guanajuato attraction. Its history and location at the heart of the country hold significant importance for the people of Mexico and each year in early January thousands of people make the pilgrimage to the shrine to celebrate the Epiphany. 

This movement of Mexican men riding their horses to the shrine of Cristo Rey is called the cabalgata of Guanajuato. It is a mixture of a pilgrimage and a procession on horseback that ends at the foothill of the Cubilete. There, in a solemn ceremony, the riders receive a special blessing during an outdoor Mass. After the Mass, the pilgrim riders rest, don clean clothes, and then ride up the mountain individually or in small groups to venerate the famous statue of Christ the King. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Hummingbird In The Hedge

We were sitting out with some neighbors yesterday evening when suddenly, "Whoosh", a tiny hummingbird flew right past my nose! He had a branch picked out in the hedge and I was sitting between our feeder and his perch. He was giving me fair warning that this was his flight path and that I was in it!

I saw him in the hedge and he did not seem to be in a hurry to leave so I quietly got up to get my camera. He waited patiently while I sat back down and found him in the finder. He is only an inch or so tall so it took a minute to find and zoom in on him with a high magnification level of 50X or so. The light was not good as the sun was setting behind the hedge he was in so the camera insisted on setting a high ASA setting which introduces some grain as well as delivering less contrast that the scene deserved. I managed to add contrast with Picasa so here is the best I could do at the moment. I will keep my eye open for a better chance as he seems to be happy here on our patio. Maybe he has a girlfriend he will introduce us to.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

House Update And Windows

We got a message from our friends back home who report that cleanup is progressing nicely on the mud slide damage. The condo has had their crews working in our yard which is a huge relief for us. They say they they are filling in Norma's sunken rock garden. This means that one or two of our fence posts may end up being too short because they followed the old terrain level. I am sure there is an easy solution for this.

They are also working on a new drainage system on the bank behind their building in an attempt to stop any future problems. Norma is still worried about all her plants and bushes but Nancy has her eye on them and if any plants can be saved, I am sure they will be.

Windows 8.1

I followed commentor Don's advice and installed Classic Shell. It provides the old Windows 7 Start button that opens into a list of programs, settings, etc. It is also a shortcut to the desktop that hides under the annoying stack of "Metro" tiles. What a dumb idea that was! I know the Windows purists are looking down their noses at me but this is where I am, at least for a while.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Dreaded Windows 8.1

First post on Windows 8.1. The computer started and asked me a bunch of stuff, most of which I answered. It asked my Microsoft Account information which I don't know. I don't even know if I have one. It let me past that and also let me continue without a password and finally opened into that confusing "Tiles" page. I found Internet Explorer in there and opened it. I immediately downloaded FireFox and installed it. That is where I am now. Posting from within FireFox.

Lots to do but I am here.

Toast And A New Computer

My old Compaq Windows 7 laptop is officially toast. I have tried starting it up many times and it will get no further than the Compaq Welcome Screen. I can't even get the CD/DVD drawer to open to put in my restore disk set. Oh well, it has been giving me problems for several months so it's demise is not unexpected.

My friend Rick responded to my email about the Best Buy computer, telling me he saw no reason why it would not do for what I need it for.

I went to the Best Buy site to order the Toshiba (not for sale in store but can be ordered and picked up in store) and got as far as the point where it would not accept my Canadian address. I then called the store to order over the phone. Same thing. She asked my address and I asked if she wanted my legal Canadian address or my temporary US address. She wanted my permanent Canadian address which of course her computer would not accept. I then gave her the address of the RV park. Then she asked for my credit card number which I gave her. She then asked if the mailing address on the card was the RV park. No, it is my Canadian address. She then called a "manager" and they figured something out. Now she told me they had to wait for a "fraud check" on the card that could take up to 24 hours. and she would mail me a "pick up code" when (if) I passed the fraud check. Sheesh! I am just trying to buy a cheap computer!

Well, it is 9:00 AM, about 18 hours after I ordered the damn thing and still no email. I checked my Visa account on line and they put the charge through about an hour after I talked to them so what is the problem?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Disaster, Continued

Well, cleanup is progressing back home. The cleanup crew asked permission to move some light equipment including a Bobcat across our lawn as that is the only access to the damage. We said yes, as long as they agree to repair any damage they do. The workers made some comments to our friends about how amazed they were that the fence posts survived. The panels were all knocked out but seem to be intact and can be reinstalled with minimal work. I asked Brooks what the replacement cost for that fence would be and he said $350 per panel times six panels, so $2,100. Of course that would be a worse case scenario as most, if not all the material should be salvageable so repairs would be labour only plus some minor material.

Mud is piled up against one back corner of the house but not over the height of the concrete ring wall so that is not a major concern. Norma had $1,000 - $2,000 worth of bushes and plants on our side of the fence that may or may not survive, only time will tell. About 50 feet of deer fence is gone but we have a left-over part roll of the fencing so we can replace it.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mudslide at Home!

There was a mudslide next door to us back home yesterday! We started getting reports in the afternoon and then friends sent us this photo from the local paper. Damage to our house appears to be restricted to the fence and one corner where mud is piled up.

We have been talking to the fire department and friends. Details are slow in coming. I will post more when we find out.

That is our property on the right (over the fence).

Sunday, December 7, 2014

One Month Done

Well, we have been on the road for one day short of a month. This year we have made it only as far as Palm Springs, CA and will be staying her for another six weeks at least. Last year at the same time we were in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas visiting with our friends Chris & Juan and Wandering Mike. Last year we were covering much more ground and burning up the gas. This year, not so much.

Here is a quick comparison of costs:
Gas - motorhome  2013, $1,500   2015, $900
Dining Out            2013, $490      2015, $310  Temptation is higher on the road
RV Park fees         2013, $544      2015, $410 (pro rated) short vs. long term stays

That is a total of $914 savings in the first month alone!

Other expenses like groceries, liquor, propane are about the same. It is easy to see that costs can be kept down quite a bit by staying put. But then, I really miss Cajun food and Betty's RV Park!

I will do more comparisons as the winter goes on.

Friday, December 5, 2014


The most used cupboard, the one the coffee is kept in, had a hinge that has been giving us trouble for some time. I have had to increase the size of the screws and reinforce the holes in the particle board with glue in the past. A couple of days ago, one of the hinges broke and the door was in danger of falling off so it was time to get to work.

I found heavier duty hinges downtown and replaced the two that were on the door. I moved the door 1/4 of an inch so I was screwing into fresh wood but as it turned out, the door was mounted off-center from the start so moving it actually fixed it location wise.

These hinges were cheap ($2.79 for 2) but are much stronger and better quality than the ones Fleetwood used. I probably should pick up a few more for the "stuff" bin.

The other repair I did today was to replace one of the gas filled tubes that holds the outside compartment doors open. There is an RV supply place near here and they had the part for $22. It was a simple task to snap the old one off and the new one on.

We decided to reward ourselves for a job well done and went down to Ruby's Diner for dinner. Ruby's is a 50's style diner on the main drag in Palm Springs. It is bright chrome with red plastic upholstery and really looks like an old 50's diner. The only thing missing was a juke box. I learned about Ruby's from Rick's (earlier) Blog and had it on my "must do" list.

We stopped for a few groceries on the way home and had a little frustration when the ATM refused to accept my debit card. We eventually found another one that took it so I didn't burst a vein.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Under The Weather In Lousy Weather

It is raining here in Desert Hot Springs. California really needs the water so I will not begrudge them but I much prefer it when the sun is shining.

Norma was under the weather for the last two days and today seems to be my turn. I will not be venturing far from the toilet today so the rain will not bother me. May as well get the bad weather and poor health over with all at once.

To make things worse the hot tubs have been out of service here in the park for a few days. The deep submersible pump that pumps the hot water out of the hot springs source packed it in. Unfortunately, this pump is located in one of the RV sites and the owners of the RV that was blocking access to the pump were away for a few days so repairs were on hold as the park management did not want to tow the fifth wheel out of the way and risk liability issues. Anyway, there is all kinds of action down that way today as the owners came home last night. We will have hot pools very soon, maybe even today.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Desert Oasis RV Park

I took a little walk around the park with my camera this morning.

  Our little corner.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

My Take On The Ferguson Grand Jury Decision

I do not support rioting and looting but neither do I support a Grand Jury system that denies representation for either the victim or the accused but allows the prosecutor (the only lawyer in the room) to present evidence to laymen jurors in a way to suggest either guilt or innocence, as he chooses. 

This was the case here with the prosecutor acting as the defense for the officer rather than as an advocate for the public interest which would be best served by a full trial to determine guilt or innocence in a public forum. Maybe Wilson actually had to shoot the unarmed teen twice in the head to render him no longer dangerous (after hitting him what?, four more times?). I can't imagine such a scenario but I would like to hear about it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Great Day!

Fellow Bloggers Rene' and Jeanette from the Blog, RV Voyageur are parked just up the road from us at Caliente Springs RV Park. We chatted on email and we found ourselves invited up for coffee this morning. We pulled up at their place this morning and had a great visit. Like most of our Blogging friends, they turned out to be great people with whom we had a lot in common including some common friends from way back.

When we left we decided to continue along Dillon Road towards Indio and then to drive back on Highway 111 through Palm Springs. At the end of Dillon Road was the Fantasy Springs Casino where we stopped in for a look around. We signed up for the Players Club and were told that if we play $20 in a slot machine we then qualify for $40 in free play. I found a penny machine, put my twenty into the slot and started playing 20 pennies at a time. Soon the "Free Play" light came on so I cashed out my winnings which amounted to $19.60. The machine had kept only forty cents of my twenty!

Now I was playing with their money, $40 of it! I switched to a higher stakes machine and started playing $1.50 at a time. The rules are that I must play the entire $40 before I can take out any winnings. After a few minutes the 'Cash Out' option came on, indicating I had put the $40 through the machine. My winnings amounted to $90 which was all profit considering the first machine was a wash, $20 in and $19.60 out. Not bad for an hour's work.

Uncharacteristically, Norma did not do as well. She lost all of her initial $20 and then lost all of the free $40. I took a little satisfaction that she had to amuse herself watching me continue my winning spree.

We ended the day at the Fisherman's Market Restaurant and their 'Early Bird' Special of fish & chips for $12 each.

All in all, a great day! Friends, cash and a nice meal!


Monday, November 24, 2014

Cleaning Day

Norma talked to the office here at Desert Oasis and they recommended WatMex, one of the local wash/wax services so Norma booked them for this morning. At five to nine a truck with trailer and six guys pulled up. They quickly got their supplies out of the trailer and hooked into their own purified water tank. Two guys got on the roof and started working while the other four started on the outside. They asked me to let down the awning and started scrubbing that as well.

They all worked hard for just over one hour. They washed it, dried it with a gas blower and then hand waxed it with two guys applying the wax with rotary buffers and the other four working with lint free rags to polish.

They soon came to get us (we were next door having a coffee on Brian and Karen's patio). Carlos walked us around the rig showing us the job they did, twice calling one of the guys to add some wax. The bill was $182 US. Six guys and all the equipment and supplies for about an hour and fifteen minutes. Not bad and they did an excellent job. I will try to motivate myself to add a little more wax sometime over the winter.

Waxing the cap:

Brian checking the job:

Norma counting out her money:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Our Home For A While

Here is the pool complex at the Desert Oasis. There are three hot pools and one swimming pool. The hot pool (furthest from camera) is fed from the hot springs and is quite hot. As the water cools, it flows into the middle pool, then the nearest pool which is the coolest. From there it flows into the large swimming pool. I don't know the temperatures but the water is still very warm by the time it gets to the swimming pool.

That is Norma sunbathing. We had the whole complex to ourselves and the pools are about 50 feet from out spot!

 I will take more shots of the park soon. I am very lazy here!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Barstow To Desert Hot Springs

I really like Highway 247 from Barstow to the Palm Springs area. It meanders through the High Desert and is rarely busy. That was the case yesterday as we left Barstow by ten in the morning to start the three hour drive. There is one big hill on the way where the annoying "Check Engine" light came (and stayed) on. I know what the code will stay when I have it read, Low Fuel Pressure. The fuel pump in the Ford V-10 will simply not supply the demand for fuel as it tries to pull the motorhome and car up steep hills. I will find a place to have it reset when we leave here. This has been a minor annoyance since we bought the rig.

Speaking of "here", we checked into the Desert Oasis RV Park and paid for one month. We are one space away from our Campbell River friends Brian and Karen who have a permanent winter spot here. It is also just down the road from my Blogging friend Rick Doyle. Rick and his wife are still in Canada but our paths may cross when they head south. The weather here is perfect. Warm but not hot enough to need air conditioning in the day and cool enough to sleep easily without needing heat at night. There is a beautiful pool and three large hot pools, each increasing in temperature as they are fed by the local hot springs. The monthly rate is a very reasonable $420 plus electric.

I will take some photos today but in the meantime, here is our route.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Bakersfield To Barstow, CA

It was a short day today but we are headed into nicer weather. The coffee maker packed it in halfway through making a pot this morning so that went on the shopping list. We will stop overnight in either Flying J or Walmart in Barstow. Walmart won out because we needed to buy a coffee maker.

We needed gas on the way out of Bakersfield and as we were almost out of town anyway, there were no gas stations close by. Gas has been pretty reasonable in California, if you search for good prices. Truck stops usually have it for $2.89 to $3.10 per gallon. We were getting low and we had the big Highway 58 hill to climb so I pulled into a small gas station and bought $50 worth of expensive $3.79 per gal gas, enough to get us to Mojave or Barstow. It hardly moved the needle on the gas gauge!

A while later something strange happened. I spotted a Love's Travel Center on the other side of the highway with a big sign offering unleaded gas for $2.99. I took the exit and there was a Chevron station, much closer than the Love's, also with a big $2.99 sign. I pulled up to the pumps and was about to gas up when I noticed the price on the pump said $3.79 per gal! I went inside and asked the woman about the $2.99 sign. "Oh", she said, "That pump is around the back". "So", I said, "The pumps in front are $3.79 and the pump at the back is $2.99, the same price as Love's". "Yes" she said with a big smile. I moved around back and filled up for a 25% savings over the front pumps. The front pumps had three or four cars filling up and the cheaper pump at the back had no customers. I guess people around here have so much money they just couldn't care less.

Gotta go, the new coffee maker just brewed me a pot!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bakersfield, CA

We had a great night in the Stockton Walmart last night. They have a huge parking lot so we drove over to the far corner where it looked quiet. We slept right through until the sun (!) poured through the back window and into our faces at just before 7:00 AM.

We hit the road and stopped at a Denny's for breakfast, After that it was the long, boring drive down I-5 to Bakersfield, CA where we stopped for two nights in the Orange Grove RV Park which really has orange trees and customers are encouraged to pick the plentiful oranges. However, not right now as they are not yet ripe. Oh well, we found a roadside stand where a Mexican family was selling fruit and flowers. Their oranges are perfect!

We quickly set up the StarChoice and are starting to relax after six days on the road. Hey! That would make a good title for a song!

It is warming up as we move south. I will have to start studying the weather forecasts for the Palm Springs area as the Fountain Of Youth RV Park has a sale on right now at $295 per month. This is less than $10 per day and they have great hot pools. I shall investigate!

Thursday, November 13, 2014


We stopped at the All Star Liquor Store on the CA side of the CA/OR border and stocked up with enough for most of the winter. The price difference between California and British Columbia is shocking to say the least. I even found a bottle of Glenfiddich Solara for $40, better than half price.

We got the oil changed in the motorhome at the Anderson, CA Walmart, one of the few with a motorhome bay. However, they refused to put synthetic oil in a motorhome. Stupid! "The computer will not give me that option and I cannot over-ride it." I offered to pay the difference in oil cost in cash but no, they would not do that. I had to take their default brand of Penzoil or nothing. I took the default. The price was right anyway, $50.

We were up really early for us anyway, at around 6:00 AM so we starting nodding off on the highway at around 3:00. This was fine for Norma to nod off but not so much for me as I was driving. We stopped for propane, gas and a dump for the motorhome at a Love's Travel Center and then pulled into a Walmart at Stockton, CA.

It is much warmer today, we are getting south!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

We Shall Survive

Mike, the service guy replaced the blown tire last night in the dark, working on the shoulder right beside the heavy traffic. He then followed us with his emergency lights flashing as I drove the twenty miles back to Wilsonville, OR at 30 MPH. We parked in the Les Schwap tire store and Mike gave us an extension cord to plug into. it was a pleasant enough night considering the stress level.

This morning we vented to the manager, telling him we always stopped at his store for a pressure adjustment and a safety inspection and were more than disappointed that they had let us go with at least three tires that were on the verge of failing. He agreed that they had screwed up.

He inspected all the tires and gave us a warranty adjustment of $40 per tire and they are busy putting all new tires on right now.

There is freezing rain headed this way so we are anxious to get on our way and over the Syscuse Pass into California.

Monday, November 10, 2014


We are parked on the side of Interstate 5 with a blown inside left dual tire. It does not look like there is any damage to the RV so that is a relief!

What pisses me off is that we had JUST stopped at Les Schwab Tires in Wilsonville, OR for a safety inspection of the tires and were told we were good to go. That was 12 miles back!

The service guy brought us one new tire to replace the blown one but he showed me where two other tires are ready to burst. We need a full set of six tires.

The guy is going to get us going and follow us back to their shop where we will park for the night.

Like I say, I am pissed off!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Spread 'Em - OK, Slight Exageration

That was the toughest Canada/USA border crossing we have EVER had! We drove off the ferry at about noon and stopped at the customs booth. He was nice enough, inspected our passports, asked where we were going and for how long, the standard questions. He then told us to drive down the block, park along the curb and wait for the inspector.

The inspector eventually walked over, took our passports and then looked in every outside bin. He came inside and looked in every cupboard, lifted the toilet lid, looked under the seats and couch, fridge, freezer and just about everywhere you could imagine including under the bed, between the pillows and under the mattress! Then he did the same thing to the car. Checked the trunk, inside the cooler, in my StarChoice parts bag, everywhere. The only contraband he found was a quarter of a bag of wild bird seed from two years ago in Mexico. He told us this was a terrible thing to have and that he was going to seize it. No problem, we said, it is probably too old for the birds anyway. 

Anyway, we are honest and were not worried, let them search.

We are parked in our favorite WalMart in Chahlis, Washington. I set up the StarChoice and I am watching the Canucks. Life Is Good and we are on our way!

We Are On Our Way!

We are in line waiting to board the ferry to Washington State, $280 lighter in the pocket! More to follow. The adventure continues!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Easy Furnace Duct Repair

The duct guy arrived in a rainstorm this morning. He had me turn the furnace on, climbed into the crawl space and found the problem immediately. The duct heading to the master bedroom had pulled loose and was laying on the ground. The repair was easy, duct tape, but getting to the area involved crawling on his back over an old, abandoned footing. It was a good thing he was skinny and not claustrophobic! He was finished in about a half hour. They called me with the price of $78.75.

All that is left now is Norma moving her clothing into the motorhome and taking some food out of the house. There are stories about US customs not letting fresh food through this year so we will not test them on that. We will load the pantry with canned goods and fill the freezer with frozen salmon.

On Friday we have to move the motorhome out, hook up the dolly and load the Mazda. I would like to have everything done and the rig parked in the driveway Friday night, ready for our Saturday morning departure. The Black Ball Ferry leaves Victoria at 10:00 Sunday Morning and we will be aboard!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Last Minute House Repairs!

Once again disaster strikes just before we leave! I finally called the furnace repair guy to deal with the lack of heat in the back bedroom. We first noticed it after the duct cleaners did their thing last year. It was not that noticeable as we seldom have the bedroom vent open, preferring a cool bedroom. The duct cleaners put their camera into the duct and said there was a blockage that looked like a large wasp nest or a rock. This made no sense but we do not use heat in the bedroom anyway, we ignored it.

Last week I thought we should get it dealt with for the house sitter who might like some heat. I called the furnace guy and arranged a visit on Thursday (tomorrow). Yesterday I decided to open up the accesses to the crawl space and when I took the first hatch off I was met with a blast of hot air out of the unheated crawl space! The duct must be pulled apart somewhere and the 'rock' or 'wasp nest' the cleaners saw with their camera was actually the ground!

We have been pumping hot air into the crawl space for a year! No wonder my gas cost went up!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mexico Through New Eyes!

Remember the reaction you had on your first motor trip into Mexico? Well, I know many of you have yet to experience this but one person is getting that experience right now!

Our friend Rae has ventured south of the border, driving her pickup from Nogales to Mazatlan where she will stay in an apartment for the winter. She crossed the border very early Sunday morning and landed in San Carlos that afternoon.

Rae is a great Blogger and the chronicle of her adventure is going to make interesting reading. You may want to join me in seeing Mexico through new eyes!

Rae's Blog.

Friday, October 31, 2014

All Quoted Out!

I spent two hours on the phone today answering endless questions about our health. I decided today was the day to settle the health insurance problem for six months in the US.

I called three places, BCAA. Johnson Insurance and Desjardins.

BCAA was recommended by Rod and Sylvia. After answering all their questions I was given the total: $5,468 with zero deductible and $5,223 with $1000 deductible. Wow! I asked her to save the quote but that I was going to call a few others.

Johnson was next. Norma and I each belong to a retirees group that is affiliated with Johnson Insurance. Norma the BC Government Retired Employees Assn and I the BC Assn Of Retired Telecommunications Workers. Rates were slightly different for each group and in our case she chose my discount instead of Norma's. It came in at a more reasonable $3,950 with no deductible and no option for a deductible. The nice thing about this plan was that it was for a year and covered us for as many additional trips as we wanted next summer of less than 35 days each. OK, one more to try.

We have used Desjardins (the issuer of our Visa credit card) every time we have traveled. When Norma broke her hip in Tuscon, they were very good and easy to deal with. They covered every expense including an Air Ambulance home for treatment and then returned us to get the motorhome. We had already decided to go with them again if their quote was at all competitive. I was happy to hear that their cost was $3,498 (again, no deductible), $450 cheaper than Johnson and $1,970 cheaper than BCAA! Desjardins also covers flying us home and back if there is an emergency at home (sickness in family, damage to the house). This adds a little security. This is only $50 more than we paid last year and amounts to exactly $20 per day for the two of us. Sold! Expensive if we do not need it but cheap if we do.

The pleasures of getting old! After this marathon I went out and finished the cable addition to the motorhome. Done!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

StarChoice Moves And Final Plans

Yes, I know it is now Shaw Direct but I still call it StarChoice.

We normally move the bedroom PVR between the house and the motorhome bedroom every year. Norma has it loaded with movies and programs to watch when we are not hooked up to the dish. This year we decided to change out the non-PVR receiver in the front of the motorhome for the PVR from the TV room in the house as well. This will give us two recorders for the winter, his and hers.

This means an additional RG-6 TV cable had to be added going from the electrical bay in the rear bin to the overhead area in the front of the motorhome. I drilled some holes and got underneath the motorhome with my flashlight, coil of cable and package of tie wraps. I quickly discovered that the motorhome must have sunk into the driveway because I could not fit underneath! I drove the right side up onto blocks and that gave me room to work. The rest of the work involved running the cable along the frame and whatever else I could use, keeping it away from the exhaust and slides while keeping it protected as much as possible. It was dark and the ground was wet so it was an uncomfortable hours' work but I got it done with only one cut finger and a washer load of dirty clothes. The only part left is the inside work, running the cable up the wall and into the entertainment center, adding the final connector. That will be tomorrow's project.

I also have to call about our medical insurance. I am going to get a couple of quotes this year. We have been very happy with the company we have always used, Desjardins, but with the costs going up so rapidly, I want a comparison.

We were looking at leaving on the 5th but Brooks does not get home from Alberta until the 7th so we will leave Campbell River on the morning of the 8th and spend the night at the ferry dock in downtown Victoria. Brooks and LindaLee will meet us there for the evening and then spend the night at LindaLee's parents. The ferry leaves at 10:00 AM the next morning.

From there we will head down the Olympic Peninsula, through Washington and into Oregon. If the weather is halfway decent we might drive down the Oregon Coast. I love the coast but if there is going to be stormy weather anywhere, that is where it will be. We are not in a hurry and I have a taste for fresh crab!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Kick It Up A Notch!

As we were getting the motorhome ready the other day I found a shaker of Tony Chachere Cajun Seasoning in the cupboard. I had forgotten that I had brought one of these home from Louisiana last winter. I knew I had a container of Slap Ya Mama Seasoning* which is very similar and which Brooks quickly relieved me of when we got home. If I had remembered the Tony Chachere, I would have been using it all summer. It gives any food a Cajun flavor, not hot, just spicy. They say it goes on anything that you can put salt on, which for me is almost everything. As they say, "Ya Gotta Try It".

If you do not live anywhere you can buy either of these, here is a recipe I found on the Internet that looks like it might be very close.

Cajun Spice Blend

Yield:1 1/2 to 2 cups
This recipe appears in:Cajun Spice Blend: Store-Bought or Homemade?


  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf


  1. 1
    Combine all the ingredients into a spice blender, and grind until fine. Use to season meat, poultry, fish or vegetables. Store in a cool, air-tight container for up to three months.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Getting There...

We are slowly getting ready to leave. I followed Kevin's suggestion and found a propane delivery truck to come fill the tank that emptied when someone left the motorhome furnace on. It was an expensive fill at $50, but then this was the first time I have had it filled from bone dry. I fired up all the propane devices (stove, water heater, fridge, furnace) and they all work.

Norma has been wanting the carpets cleaned for a couple of years so she finally hired Sears to come to clean the carpets and upholstery. The guy was here with his truck for just over an hour and dropped off a bill for $220. I missed my calling, I should have been a carpet cleaner instead of an electronics technician.

We brought all the storage bins into the house to be sorted out and some stuff thrown out. My job is to go through all the electronics and motorhome related stuff as well as the paperwork (including travel guides). I will do that today and tomorrow as well as running the generator for a couple of hours on load. This is supposed to be done every month but I have trouble remembering to do it. Our generator gets quite a bit of use as we boondock (WalMart) quite a few nights as we travel as well as stopping in rest areas for lunch and coffee breaks. It always fires right up (except for that time in Puebla, MX).

We will be towing the Mazda behind us this year. The A/C on the Honda packed it in again and it will cost +/- $1000 to fix it and the car is simply not worth this expense. The Mazda is bigger, heavier and wider so it will be a little harder to load properly as it has to be exactly centered on the dolly to avoid the possibility of the dolly fenders making contact with the doors as I make sharp turns. I may take some measurements and paint some guide lines for the tires on the dolly to make things easier.

I still have to deal with travel medical insurance. I am not looking forward to this as we are both a year older and costs go up every year. Our first winter insurance cost around $500, last winter it was $3,100.

Another difficulty this year is the devalued Canadian dollar (or over valued US dollar). Our dollar is worth 89 cents right now. On the positive side, gas is fairly cheap in the US and groceries are always a bargain compared to Canada. We will be fine. We will be saving on RV parking (and gas) by staying more long term and when we are in an RV park, the temptation to dine out is not as strong.

It will be a good year.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Little Dose Of Reality

On October 8, Canadian Parliament voted 157 to 134 to join the US led campaign to bomb Isis in Iraq. Our prime minister had a big grin on his face as he stood to cast his vote amongst the childish clapping and cheering of his supporters. During the debate, he laughed at the opposition who argued against the motion to join the attack.

Are these "leaders" and their supporters so stupid as to not realize there are consequences to this war mongering? Do they not realize that thousands of innocent men, women and children are killed by these bombs, drones and fighter attacks that they laughingly voted in favor of conducting? Are they unaware that as many as 90% of the causalities in Iraq are non-combatants?

We send our soldiers to their country to kill their women and children and then are shocked when a couple of their supporters attack Canadians here in Canada. Did we really think we could keep this killing "over there" and away from our borders?

Are we stupid? Can we not see the connection? Wake up!

Can anyone remember a time when Canada prided itself as being "Peacekeepers"?

Laughing and cheering as we vote to kill Muslims:

Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, stands to vote in favour of a government motion to participate in US-led air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq.

Shooting At Parliament Hill

One soldier killed outside at War Memorial. Automatic gunfire in Centre Block of Parliament Buildings. MP's locked down.

Another shooting in nearby shopping mall (It now appears this shooting never happened). All bridges leading into Ottawa closed.

One gunman reported dead, soldier dead (not now confirmed), one other person wounded. This person appears to be one of the Parliamentary Security staff.

This video from Global TV shows the actual killing of the suspect. He was evidently shot by Parliament Buildings Sergeant At Arms, Kevin Vickers who is responsible for the safety of staff and visitors.

Sergeant At Arms Kevin Vickers:

Sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers of the House of Commons leads MPs out of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, March 3, 2010. Two sources told The Canadian Press that Vickers shot an assailant on Parliament Hill on Wednesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wind Warning!

We are currently under a wind warning as well as being threatened with power outages.

The areas in pink are the high wind areas. We are between the words "Skytracker" and "Comox".

Parts of the Island are already without power but we are OK so far. I went out a while ago to check the motorhome and gigantic raindrops are falling! We are getting almost no wind so far but that could change quickly.

We usually have the added security of being able to move into the motorhome if things get too bad but we have to wait till Friday for propane so we are not much better off out there right now. It was a dumb mistake to run out of propane! Anyway, the fireplace insert is loaded with paper and wood and is ready to keep us toasty warm. We have lots of firewood.

Monday, October 20, 2014


We all have weather but ours is mostly rain. I have a few things I want to do with the motorhome before we leave, like add another TV cable between the front TV and the electrical bin but it does not look like I will get the chance.

"Someone" left the furnace on and the propane tank is now bone dry. I cannot check the water heater, stove or fridge (propane setting) until I fill the tank and that means waiting until I buy insurance so I can move the rig. I don't want to do this too soon as I will only buy 6 months insurance and we are not leaving until November 3 - 5.

Yes, we are leaving on the third or so. Norma has an appointment on the first and then we get ready! We will then head down to Palm Springs area and see how the weather goes. We will move wherever we have to to find or avoid weather but the plans are to stay put more this year to save on gas and to take advantage of monthly RV park rates. We went a little nuts last year expense wise!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Best Used Car Deal

From my recent research I have come to the conclusion that the best used car deal, for me anyway, right now is a used Saab. Since GM drove the Swedish automaker into bankruptcy the price of used Saabs have dropped remarkably. There are some great deals to be had on Craigslist and such as people fear that spare parts might not be available. Not to worry, someone will be producing spare parts, it is a lucrative market. Saab was once sold by GM as a Cadillac BLS.

Here is one example in my price range. A 2001 9-5 Turbo Sedan for $3,500 (asking price) in Palm Springs:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

No Bimmer But Some Work Done

I did not buy the Bimmer (1988 BMW 325i). We went down to Brooks and LindaLee's for the weekend in hopes of at least seeing the car but the owner had been called away on business again and had taken the car. I did find out a little more though. There has been some (maybe considerable) rust repairs and there is more rust showing. The problem last week requiring the tow home was a broken fuel line so when the mechanic repaired that, he inspected both fuel pumps and both were good. He now thinks the long cranking might be injector related. He put some injector cleaner in the gas and the owner says the starting is "better" but not cured.

The bottom line is I would be no better off (probably worse off) with the BMW than I am with the Honda which is running great. It is a year newer and has lower mileage. There is no rust. She has been good to me and I will keep her a bit longer. Thanks for the useful comments here and also to the people on the Bimmerfest Forum in helping me reach my decision.

I also realized that because the BMW is rear wheel drive and automatic, I would not be able to tow it behind the motorhome without a lot of trouble so I could not be that "Cool Old Dude With The BMW" in the RV park.

My granddaughter now wants the BMW. Well, more accurately, she wants a car she can afford to buy and all she has is $1,000. The car will not be leaving Victoria so it might be a candidate for a "first car" for her. Brooks says as long as it lasts her six months to a year, she will have gotten her money out of it. He likes it because of it's safety features and construction which should survive a crash better than an older American car. Her ultimate goal is a six to eight year old Honda but she will have to save some money. She is a hard worker just like her dad but also, just like her dad, has a hard time saving her money. The goal of a good car may help her focus.

New Roof

Brooks has been promising LindaLee a roof over their deck for a long time and he finally got a chance to do it. He had a couple of the guys he works with in Alberta and who live near him, come by to help on Sunday. This "West Coast" roof is really well built with 8X8 rough cut timbers and full dimension fir lumber and would survive an earthquake! I was there to help with the lifting and the basic framing was up in no time. Just in time actually as the rain started pouring down and put an end to his plans of putting the roof on. It is just too dangerous up there in the wet so that part will probably wait until next time he is back in town.

"Make sure it's square!"

"A little to the left!"

Brooks cutting the next piece and Norma going through the burn pile for useful pieces for her garden.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Moon Rise

Two nights ago from our front porch:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

But Guys...

These E30 Bimmers look like so much fun to drive!

Nothing Yet

I found out a few things about the Beemer. It is:

1988 325i E30
Rear wheel drive
Gold colour
300,000 KM or 186,000 miles

The owner is back from her trip but the car isn't. It quit on her about 100 miles from home and she had it towed for repairs. This may be a good thing depending on what broke and who fixed it

My DIL asked her if the air conditioning worked well and she said she did not know because she had never used it... ??

This Beemer buying is a work in progress.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pending Deal

I don't want to say too much in case I spook this but my son and I are working on a deal. One of LindaLee's customers wants to get rid of an older "3" Series BMW. It has been meticulously dealer maintained and is in perfect shape inside and out. She is asking very little for it. It has one problem, slow starting. Brooks' mechanic thinks one of the two fuel pumps has gone bad allowing the fuel to drain back into the tank when it is not running, causing it to crank for a few seconds every time it starts. He will be checking this out further.

This deal came to light when they were looking for a car for my granddaughter, Jayde. She does not like it however and is currently taking advantage of an even better deal, unlimited use of her other grandmother's brand new SUV for which "Nanna" buys gas and insurance. We should all have this deal.

Anyway the BMW seems too good to let go. I have only seen this car once and know nothing about it, not even the specific model number. But... you never know. I always wanted a BMW!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Shaw Direct II

Yesterday's post started quite the discussion in the comments section.

It appears that as long as you use the same dish and receiver you used last year there will be no problem. If you had your system upgraded to the three LNB dish then there were software or firmware changes made to the receivers attached to that dish that prevents them from working with one of the old dishes. Al had success with the three LNB setup down south last year as long as he did not attempt to receive signals from the new satellite. Another person on the IRV2 forum had the opposite experience, his did not work down south.

Jean and Skip from Nanaimo asked for some reassurance their old system would work on the RV even though they had the dish and receivers in their house updated. I told them the only way to know for sure was to try it. They did today and found they only received Ch 299. They called Shaw Direct and were talked through a factory reset on the receiver.

I really encourage everyone to do this. Try it before you leave. It will be awkward and expensive to have to do it from down south without letting it slip that you are away from home. If you call from a USA phone, they will see the area code and will know where you are.