Friday, July 31, 2015

Quick Trip Down Island

Brooks needed a golf course net delivered from north of Campbell River and Norma wanted to work in her garden so I took off around noon and drove it down to Brooks. I brought my tooth brush in case I ended up staying the the night which I am doing.

Brooks and his worker were building and staining fence panels so I sat around and gabbed with them until LindaLee got home. We will visit tonight and I will drive home in the morning when everyone leaves for work.

Life Is Good when I visit my son!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Posting From Windows 10!

I upgraded my old Windows 7 Compaq laptop first so I had something to use for a test platform. I wanted to make sure all my existing programs worked before up dating the rest of the computers.

So far, so good! The most important thing is Quicken works! And it works better than it did on Windows 8.1 where every time it opened it told me I must change my language to English. I clicked OK and it was happy until next time I opened it.

First impressions are that it is maybe a little faster. So far I am happy. Now I can fix this old computer. It needs a new battery and I have to replace the LED inverter as the screen has become quite dim over the 5 years I have owned it. I bought a new laptop last winter when this one crapped out but I brought it back to life by reloading Windows.

Happy, Happy! Life Is Good!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Morning Garden

Norma called me out to the garden this morning to show off some plants. She wanted me to take some photos but she does not understand lighting and thinks the brighter the sun the better. Well, I found some flowers in the shade so here they are:

Monday, July 27, 2015

Birthday Girl!

It is Norma's Birthday today! Seventy something. Don't ask her, she will lie but she will lie on the high side, not the low side.
I offered her dinner out but she said no, she was beat and dirty from working in her garden. So I went down to Thrifty's and bought a 'hand full' or $14 worth of fresh, hand peeled shrimp and a loaf of grainy bread. We toasted the bread, slathered butter and a lot of real mayonnaise on it along with a little red seafood sauce, added one third of the shrimp to each and enjoyed the nicest shrimp sandwiches we have had in a long time! There is enough shrimp left for one more. It won't last long!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Netflix Overdose!

Brooks and LindaLee gave us the Apple TV box just two weeks ago and already we have watched two years of House Of Cards episodes! I just got an email from Telus telling me I had used up 75% of my monthly 100GB of data! My pre- Apple TV usage was +/- 22 GB / month. They will be happy to add another 50 GB for only $5.

This is also the month that Microsoft is downloading Windows 10 to four computers in the house!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

You Knew I Was Going To Finish It!

You knew I was going to finish it, right? The garden shed is done. I dug some left over house paint out of the workshop and splashed it on the shed. It looks pretty good. I wanted to paint the door and trim but Norma wanted the door left as a reminder of the landslide damage (the door was the only thing that survived the carnage). Total cash outlay for the shed was only about $170 because I was able to use all the reclaimed cedar boards.

I also touched up the siding on the corner of the house where mud, rocks and trees had taken their toll on the paint job. The fence panels in the background are the reclaimed panels Brooks and Beau put up last weekend. Norma wants to stain them charcoal colour. I kind of like them the way they are.

Baja Reference Library

I ordered two books for our trip. First, the Baja version of Mike and Terri Church's Camping Guide To Mexico. These books are essential for anyone driving into Mexico and it gives detailed instructions for finding all RV parks as well as exact GPS locations for each one. I ordered it from Amazon and it arrived by Canada Post incredibly fast! Page by page updates to the latest 2012 edition are posted on their website.

The second book I ordered was the Moon Books' Baja Handbook. This is the guide for everything non RV and camping related and is the one recommended by Mike and Terri Church. This along with the Internet will be our restaurant and sightseeing guide. These books were under $20 each after shipping costs.

Monday, July 20, 2015


"Research is hard. You have to Google and stuff." - Sarah Palin

I have been researching the Baja. We want to spend at least a couple of days or a week in every significant town or village on the way down. We also want to spend a few nights boondocking on the beach. It is not hard to find information on the Baja as too many people go there. It is indeed "Mexico Lite" but is about as desolate and "foreign" as most North Americans are comfortable experiencing. It is not Chiapas or Oaxaca. Not by a long shot.

It is, as I suspected, very "Americanized". Many (maybe most) signs are in English and many prices are quoted in US dollars. When people on Baja travel forums talk about prices, it is always in US dollars. This does not make me happy.

One thing I do like reading about are the restaurants along the way. The food selection and quality look very inviting but I suspect prices will be higher than we are used to on the Mainland. However, fish tacos are plentiful and the beer is ice cold! I will get used to it!

Vehicle TIP's (Temporary Import Certificates) are not required unless we leave the Baja. The motorhome has a five year permit already so we may as well buy one for the car in case we do decide to take the +/- $1,600 ferry over to Mazatlan from La Paz. Visa (FMM) rules are the same as the mainland. We need them.

I am thinking we may cross at Tecate and take Mex 3 down from Tecate to Ensenada. This route goes through the Guadalupe Valley wine country of Mexico, a geographical extension of the Napa Valley. The Adobe Guadalupe Winery has a tasting room, a nice restaurant and allows free overnight RV parking which might be fun. This route also avoids the madhouse of the Tijuana crossing.

I tend to over-research everything I do so you will be hearing more about the Baja.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Time To Start The Planning Process

Planning process started - We are thinking a Baja Winter...

Facing a mixed reaction on Facebook where I announced this earlier! As I said there, I am having a severe craving for fish tacos!

It will mean a different kind of travel as the land mass is significantly smaller and the road is only 1600 KM top to bottom.  This means we will be spending more time in each location but we do not mind that. There is lots of beach camping available, either free or low cost.

We 'did' the Baja by car and hotel back in the early 80's so we know what to expect. Kevin & Ruth call it 'Mexico lite' and that is exactly what it is. Even back then the popular areas were overloaded with Americans.

One option that remains open to us is to take the ferry from La Paz over to Mazatlan and return home via the mainland. This would allow a stop in Mazatlan to visit Rae and Contessa. The downside is that it is a very expensive 17 hour ferry ride.

Lots of research and planning to do!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Short But Productive Visit

Brooks drove up yesterday to pick up a golf ball net to protect the front of a customer's house as well as to work on our fence. He brought dinner with him, some beautiful sea scallops, mussels and clams. He did the scallops in a delicious citrus sauce and served them just the way I like them, barely cooked with a little cracked salt and pepper! The mussels and clams he did in a curry sauce and they too were delicious. Brooks is an excellent cook and could work as a chef!

This morning Norma's lawn guy arrived at nine sharp and the two of them started measuring, digging and hauling the remaining two old fence panels into place. They set the posts and cemented them in. He put the panels on the only two sections of fairly level ground and filled the gaps between them with wire deer fence. Eventually he will fill the gaps with custom built fence panels designed to go up steep slopes. In the meantime the deer fence will keep the wildlife at bay.

He also brought a very nice gift from him and LindaLee, an Apple TV box so we can watch Netflix. I know very little about this technology but got a short lesson from Brooks. The box will go south with us for use when and where we have WIFI in a park, it uses too much bandwidth to use on our Internet sticks, specially in Mexico where we have a hard limit of 3 GB per month. A full movie evidently uses about one GB.

Anyway, Thank you very much Brooks for the visit, dinner, the Apple TV Box and all the work on the fence! We are very lucky!

Here are the two panels and the new shed. The pile of rocks is riprap placed after the landslide. It will become Norma's new rock garden.

Brooks and Beau hard at work!

Gourmet quality scallops

And seafood!

Update On The Update

Shed is done except for paint. Photos later.

Brooks drove up last night to pick up some netting he had made to hang in front of a house on a golf course and will spend a few hours doing fence repairs before he heads home later today. We will be re-using two of the undamaged fence sections that were knocked down by the landslide. Nice to have a talented son!  Beau (Norma's lawn guy and helper) is coming over to help with the muscle work. I will drive to the netting place to pick up the net while they work. It is about a half hour north of here. Photos soon. Busy, busy!

Saturday, July 11, 2015


First - It is RAINING! This is very welcome because the fire situation was getting very serious. There was a smoke haze over everything and people were developing breathing problems. It also means I can take a day or two off from my three or four hour a day job of building the garden shed.

We had a visit from our friend Les yesterday. He has moved from Mexico for a while and is back living in Nanaimo where he is preparing for a 60 day cruise and then a lengthy visit to New Zealand and England. He will be gone for several months.

He was in Campbell River for a tennis tournament so he came a day early to visit with us. We went for a feed of fish and chips at Dick's on the dock. It was delicious as usual. This morning Les got up for his tennis and it was raining! He headed off for the courts and if they decide to play in spite of the rain he will stop by later for a shower before he heads home. It is always fun to catch up with Les. He lives an interesting/complicated life!

Here are the garden shed photos! First the old smoke house foundation and my new cantilevered base. The corners will be supported with 4X4 pressure treated posts (from Brooks' burn pile).

Back wall up.

All walls finished, door framed and siding (reclaimed cedar fence boards) on three walls.

Inside details

I have to put siding on the front, install the door (salvaged from the old shed) and build the roof. By using salvaged material from the old fence, I have managed to keep costs down to $165. I bought two bundles of shingles but I think one will do so I can return the second one and get almost $40 back.

Life is Good!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Smoke On The Water

Taken down the driveway at 8:30 this morning:

Smoke on the water and on everything else! BC is suffering one of the worst fire seasons in our history. We are supposed to be up in the 90's but the smoke is reflecting the sunlight away keeping it rather cool down here on the ground. There is a yellow haze everywhere.

Here is a NASA photo of the southwest coast of BC showing the smoke from the multitude of fires. It shows Vancouver Island. We are in Campbell River, just above the heavy smoke. Victoria is right where the smoke is heaviest. Seattle is on the mainland at the bottom of the photo. There are 178 fires burning in BC right now and the air quality index in Vancouver is 10+ or Very High Risk. A Vancouver radio station reports that, "It smells like someone is barbecuing in the studio."

Saturday, July 4, 2015

To All Our American Friends

Have A Happy Independence Day!

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Little Work

It was not unbearably hot yesterday so we tackled one of my jobs with the help of Beau, Norma's lawn guy. The old garden tool shed at the back of the house got knocked off it's foundation and destroyed by last winter's landslide. It was still sort of standing and sort of keeping things dry but it was falling apart and had to go. The old wire deer fence used it as a corner support so it had to move as well.

First the fence. We took the temporary section that we had put in when we got home out. We then pounded in four steel posts and ran new wire fencing between them, connecting to the old fence where it came down the hill. This fence needs a professional touch which it will get when Brooks gets up for a visit.

Now it was time to tear down the old shed. Beau went at it with a hammer and pry bar while Norma insisted on standing too close and getting a large bruise on her arm for her troubles.

Here is the foundation that I have to work with. It was always much too small for a garden tool shed but then it's original use was a smoke house. My intention is to cantilever the walls out one to one and a half feet on either side, leaving room for wide shelves on one side and vertical storage on the other. The foundation is 3' X 3.5' and the finished product will be about 5.5' X 3.5'. It will be about 7' high and will have a peak roof. Now to go out and buy some 2X4's.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Canada Day

Happy Canada Day, eh! We are close to the water but it is still far too hot to do much outside. Norma planned to be out in the garden by 7:00 AM but we both slept until almost 9:00. She did an hour or so before she got chased in by the heat.

I ripped some cedar boards salvaged from the old fence and made a couple of trellis' for the rose bushes and some stakes for the garden but that was it for me as well.

There is activity in town today. Helicopters have been roaring back and forth along the beach as someone is selling sightseeing tours from town. Ships are sounding their horns and our two pair of nesting eagles are spending their day off teaching their young ones how to fish. Always fun to watch.

Our deer made a very quick incursion yesterday. Norma was out with the car and as she turned into the driveway coming home she startled two deer who were studying the gate. One took off into the neighbour's yard and the other somehow got in between two wire strands in the gate. Norma beeped the horn to get my attention and I yelled at her to open the gate and block the deer's way back around the house. I went around the house in the opposite direction and between us we convinced the deer to go back down the driveway. I don't know when she had the chance but on her way by she ate Norma's brand new white rose bush! I added more stainless steel wire strands to the gate and added some ties so there is no way they can get in that way again. No Way!