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.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Shaw Direct

Peter told me in a comment that there is an active discussion on the IRV2 Forum on receiving a Shaw Direct signal down south. It is a fact that SD no longer supports receivers taken outside of Canada but since they have not replaced the two old "Birds" (107 & 111), there is no reason we cannot still get a signal.

The discussion there suggests that the software/firmware update they did on receivers this summer will somehow prevent them from seeing the signal below the border. Here is my response to that discussion:

"I spend the winters in the south USA and Mexico, traveling around in the RV. My Shaw Direct has worked well for years all the way down to the Belize and Guatemala borders. I have the dual LNB on the larger dish.

I am now being told here on this thread that the software/firmware update to the receiver that was made this summer will somehow block me from receiving a signal south of the Canadian border.

Your receiver may have been turned off all summer and will not have received the update. However, as soon as you connect it down south it will automatically update itself. You have no control over this. You can press the "Download" button and download it right away or you can leave it to update itself on it's own. Either way, as long as it sees sufficient signal of 5.5dB it will update.

The receiver is a one way device so even if they programmed something into the receiver that determined my location without a built-in GPS, there is no way for them to get this information back to the Mother Ship. The only way for Shaw Direct to know where I am is if I tell them, either by phoning them and telling them or by ordering a PPV by phone so they can see where I am calling from by looking at my area code. If they do not know you are parked down south they cannot make changes to your account (ie. cancel it).

They have not made physical changes to the 107 and 111 birds so the footprint pattern is the same as it was last year. Certainly the new bird has it's own footprint and I am sure they have centered it on Canada only but as long as you have the old 2 LNB dish and are not looking at the new bird, I cannot see how they could stop me from receiving signals from 107 and 111 with my old dish, same as I always have. If I can see the signal in Canada, I cannot see how I could not see it down south as long as I am in the footprint.

People are starting to head south soon so I am sure there will be some real life reports coming in shortly."