Thursday, December 22, 2022

Merry Christmas Everyone!


Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year to everyone! I hope everyone will be with friends and/or family and is safe and warm as weather-wise is is not a very welcoming time out there. My plans were to drive down to my son's in Shawnigan Lake for Christmas. From there the three of us were going to drive down to Victoria on Boxing Day to join my granddaughter Sierrah and Luke for a nice dinner out at a Harbour Side pub but road conditions may prevent that. So, it all all depends on the weather. It is scheduled to snow between here and Shawnigan all day today and tomorrow with temperature rising and heavy rain starting early Saturday morning (the 24th). Rain and ice don't mix well on the roads so like I say, I will wait and see. I really want to see everyone but I don't want to risk my life over it, we can delay our get together, it's not like we have little kids around the tree.

If I end up being stuck at home I will plug in the lights around the fireplace, light a fire and bake a small stuffed Sockeye Salmon for myself! Either way, it will be a nice Christmas!

My Love and Best Wishes to everyone and be careful out there!


Sunday, October 30, 2022

Battery Maintenance, Etc

 It has been a long time since I checked the water levels in my four six volt golf cart batteries that power the systems in the motorhome. The water levels should be checked at least every six months and to understate the matter, they had not. Luckily the water was not low enough to expose the plates but was almost there. They took almost half a gallon of distilled water between the four of them so that's how low they were. I topped them off and started the generator to exercise it and started my timer for an hour and a half. I got away with it this time.

In other news, there really isn't any. I am doing fine and staying healthy except for a brief cold that resulted in the worst sore throat I can ever remember having. It was over in only a couple of days and I covid tested before, during and after and all tests were negative so that's what it was, a cold.

I got an invitation to come in for my fifth covid vaccine but had read somewhere that we have to wait before getting a vaccine if we have had covid which I have had. Exactly how long this period should be wildly varies depending on which "expert" you talk to. I have been told everything from five days to six months and no two authorities seem to agree. I will probably wait three months so from my last day of covid, that makes it December 24 which realistically makes it early January.

I am watching as my RVing friends start their trips south and somehow feel left out. One part of me wants to resume the adventure while the other part of me says I don't want to do it by myself and that part seems to be speaking the loudest right now. I may think differently by next year. Time will tell...

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Done with Covid!

 After eleven days I finally got a negative test result. I followed up the next day with another test and another negative so I am done! I feel pretty good with no lingering effects except exhaustion! It took more out of me than I expected and turns simple jobs like taking the garbage down to the highway into a major project. But I will survive and I will keep checking every couple of days to make sure it stays away.

 May be an image of text that says 'COVID-19 Antigen Test'

I discovered ordering groceries online and will keep doing it on a semi regular basis, it is sure easier than pushing a cart up and down isles buying more than I need. My local grocery store has waived the fee for a personal shopper, probably because of covid. All I do is pick a time, pull into one of the designated parking spots, call the store, open the trunk and my groceries are loaded for me. Easy peasy!

I have found a local handyman to help with some of the heavier projects around here, I hired him to clean my gutters and he did an excellent job in less than two hours! You can't beat that. He is a healthy 60 year old working two part time jobs and is happy to get the extra work.

The evenings and nights are starting to turn cold so I have decided to delay getting the motorhome on the road until spring, I just don't feel like dealing with it right now,

Saturday, September 17, 2022

It Finally Got Me!

 On Monday I started feeling poorly. Headache, bad cough, sore throat and generally hurting all over. I suspected Covid but put that thought aside. Tuesday I spent in denial but stayed away from people and Wednesday morning I tested myself. POSITIVE. Crap! I called the government hotline to turm myself in and after I answered a few questions he told me that I must isolate for five days and if I felt "better" on the sixth day, I could go back to my regular activities. However I will be even more cautious and will stay in isolation until I test negative. I tested positive again yesterday and will test again tomorrow.

It has not been a huge problem, I feel fine, it is affecting me no worse than a mild/medium cold. I ordered groceries online and did a contact free curbside pickup yesterday. Tylenol keeps the headache at bay and other than that, I am fine.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Daren the Mobile Mechanic


I had the local mobile mechanic come over to check on the motorhome's steering column interlock. The last time I started it and exercised the transmission I could not turn the engine off! I tried everything and finally called BCAA. After a couple of hours he arrived and turned the engine off by slamming the shifter into park. I have been afraid to try it since. Daren explained how it worked and sprayed it with lube. It worked for him but was sticky. Taking it all apart would be very time consuming so he just said to exercise it often and call him if the problem came back but he thought it was just some corrosion from being unused for so long. One more step to getting it back on the road. Putting plates and insurance on it is next.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

What Have I Been Up To?

 Wow! I am not keeping up here. 

Last week I drove down to Victoria to visit an old high school friend and helped her fix up the patio on her new apartment. It turned out really nice and we went out for an all you can eat sushi feast. It was nice having someone to talk to for a couple of days.

Other than that I have been sticking around home. I haven't even been down to visit my son in about a year! I have to get off my butt! My youngest granddaughter, Sierrah and her partner, Luke were up for a visit a month or so ago. Luke is a refrigeration tech and replaced the thermostat in the motorhome. It had been acting up for a long time so he replaced it with a regular household digital model. Thanks Luke!

I found a guy willing to do odd jobs around the house and I had him clean all the gutters on the house. He charges $25 per hour, works his butt off and did the gutters in under two hours. A real deal.

I had him back today to wash the motorhome. It has been parked under a tree and beside a large hedge and the roof and one side were just covered with moss and mold. It was not easy to do but he started on the roof and worked his way down and in four and a half hours it is looking pretty much as good as new. $125 well spent in my opinion. One day he will come back and wax it with his buffer. He is a hard worker and a bit of a perfectionist.

One of my son's customers was telling Brooks that he was having company and had no room for them in his house and was thinking about renting an RV to park in his yard for a week for them to sleep in. Brooks mentioned that his dad had a motorhome and wanted to bring it down to his place to have some mechanical work done on it. Well, the bottom line is, he is going to pay me a bunch of money to drive it down to his place in Mill Bay and park it there for a week. The money he is paying me will pay my gas and probably most of the cost of the repairs (engine, transmission and generator service). It will just be parked there, he will not be driving it anywhere so no risk for me. It should work out well.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Common Sense GPS Use

 GPS's are a wonderful tool! They can guide you through city traffic and from one location to another with ease. But remember, GPS units lack one important thing - common sense!

I just watched another horror story on YouTube about an elderly couple in a brand new motorhome driving from Indianapolis, Indiana to Tucson, Arizona. They faithfully followed their GPS instructions and ended their trip on a four wheel drive only path through the desert near Tenopah, Nevada. By the time they realized there was something wrong it was too late. He tried to turn around, dropped the RV off a rock and broke a wheel.

The story should have ended there with them waiting in air conditioned comfort to be rescued but sadly, it didn't. The RV had enough food and water for them to survive on emergency rations for at least a month. But this couple, probably in a panic, made a completely irrational, fateful decision. They headed off in their tow car (a Kia) which itself got hopelessly stuck a few miles away. Now they were in dire straits with no food, no water and none of their medications. The husband died after a few days and the wife, who needed a walker, survived for nine days on dew she collected in the early mornings until she was found. She was unable to move his body and had to share the car with it for several days.

Another couple a few years ago, traveling in a car from Kelowna, BC to Las Vegas, NV followed their GPS instructions onto a snow covered mountaintop logging road in Washington State where they became hopelessly stuck. The husband tried to walk out for help and died from exposure on the way while his wife stayed in the car surviving on melted snow, toothpaste and a few candies until a snowmobiler found her after a couple of weeks. 

We have all had our unfortunate experiences with GPS instructions. One time Norma and I were trying to find an RV park in Louisiana and were sent up a paved road that soon turned to gravel. This wasn't making sense so we stopped beside a farm were we could turn around and stopped the next vehicle who told us we were on the road to the county dump. That is how easy it can happen but we must learn to count on our instincts before it turns into a disaster. Common sense tells us that the road from Indianapolis to Tuscon does not include a four wheel drive only trail through the Nevada desert and the route from Kelowna, BC to Las Vegas does not include a logging road over a mountain in Washington State. We have to do at least that much research before heading out. And above all, we must use common sense!

Garmin Drive 52 M GPS Car Navigator, with 5-in Display, Simple On-Screen  Menus and Easy-to-See Maps | Canadian Tire

Thursday, May 19, 2022

I Have A Story

I have a story...
About 25 years ago I had a job. Yes, really. I wasn't always a carefree Mexico traveler / apprentice chef. I was once a Radio / Microwave / Fibre Optics Repairman / Installer / Tire Changer for the telephone company.
One day I found myself at a US billionaire's fishing lodge on an island off Campbell River installing a fancy radio system that gave him regular dial service where none is normally available, I was installing the base in the utility room off the kitchen where my helicopter pilot was being entertained with coffee and cake by the chef. 
The owner's wife came into the kitchen to inform the chef that they would like fresh lobster for dinner that night. The chef told her there was no problem but it couldn't be tonight as he had no lobster on hand and it would take him two or three days to have some delivered. Well. that wouldn't do, she wanted it tonight and wasn't there "ANY way" he could get some. The chef looked at my pilot and said, "How much fuel do you have on board? Enough to fly to Vancouver and back?" The pilot said he had enough to get started and could stop for more on the way so the chef said he would call the Lobster place in Vancouver and have him get a box ready for pickup at the airport, which he did and off the pilot went in his $1000 per hour (plus fuel) AStar helicopter for a two hour round trip grocery run and the lady got her lobster dinner. 
I guess the moral of the story is, if you are a billionaire and you want lobster for dinner, you can have it.


Monday, April 25, 2022

More Information On Shelter Point Distillery

I just Googled for information about the distillery and discovered an interesting option they offer. You (or you and a small group of friends) can actually purchase an entire cask of whisky! The cost is +/- $10,000 and you buy it before it is completely finished the aging process and the cask remains at the distillery where conditions are monitored and controlled. During this final two or three years of aging you can arrange your own tastings to check the improving quality of the whisky yourself, waiting for the moment of peak taste. You then bottle it into a minimum of 250 bottles (depending I suppose on how aggressive your tasting has been) and divide the spoils. Custom labels can be arranged. That works out to +/- $40 per bottle, an unbelievably low price for a single malt whisky!

 Here is the report I read in Victoria's Oak Bay News:

"Shelter Point cask purchases: A reward that’s worth the wait

The price of acquiring a cask at Shelter Point may seem daunting at first – averaging about $10,000, including taxes and bottling. But the investment actually offers a variety of benefits. While the cask ages (for an additional two to three years), those who have invested in it can organize tastings of the spirit directly from their own barrel in Shelter Point’s barrel room. Customized bottling is another unique opportunity, but best of all, is the end price per bottle (minimum of 250 bottles per cask), which is significantly below retail pricing.

So like all good investments, the reward is worth the wait."

One of those casks on the back wall could be yours!


Saturday, April 23, 2022

A Single Malt Tasting!

We have our own Shelter Point Distillery here just outside of Campbell River. It has been running since 2011 and specializes in Single Malt Whisky, boasting several varieties with all using BC grown grains and utilizing glacier fed artesian well water and sea air to add a distinctive taste.

Yesterday my friend Brian and I decided to drive the ten kilometetres down the road and visit their tasting room. It is a beautiful location on the grounds of the old University Of British Columbia Experimental Farm, only a few metres from the ocean. We were greeted by a young woman at the reception desk and invited to walk around the sales area and to pick out anything special we would like to sample. The deal is, we can sample any three products for twenty dollars and if we purchase anything, the twenty dollar fee is refunded. A good deal as I was planning on buying a bottle anyway.

A very charming, knowledgeable young woman then came to fetch us and took us to the tasting room. She had pre-selected three of their single malts but told us we could exchange any or all of them for other varieties. Not having ever tasted their products, we went with her choices. She gave us advice on how to best taste whisky which is very similar to tasting fine wines. Smell it, drawing as much into your nose as you can, followed by a small taste which you swirl around in your mouth to get the full flavour and finally sipping the balance of the small tasting cup. They were all good but very different with one, a more traditional tasting single malt standing out for both Brian and I and we each bought a bottle to take home. It was $89.99 which in the world of single malts, is very reasonable. They did not offer their award winning ten year old $114 variety for tasting this time but assured us it was available and the next time I go there I will taste that one. They also produce gin, vodka and liqueur.

On the way back we picked up sushi to go and continued home to join our friend Kelly who is using my guest room while she is up here helping her daughter with wedding plans. It was a very enjoyable day!

Single Malt Whisky


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Pondering The Future Of The Motorhome

 The motorhome has been off the road for over five years except for a five week trip to BC's Okanagan in late 2019. It has picked up some moss. I have been running the generator every month and have had an electric heater in it to keep it from freezing. It is in as good a shape as could be expected.

However, if I am to put it on the road (or prepare it for sale) I have to do some stuff. It needs an engine and transmission service to start with. The four six volt golf cart batteries probably need replacing and the tires probably need replacing. The generator needs servicing. I am thinking a minimum $5,000 cost for all this even with Brooks' neighbour backyard mechanic (highly qualified) doing the engine and transmission for half the Ford dealer shop rate.

That's a lot and it could easily go up another thousand once the mechanic gets into it. But this all has to be done whether I sell it or keep it. Right now I would not feel good sending it out on a test drive.

What's it worth? Well, this is where it gets interesting. It's a 2005 31 Foot Tioga M-31K-Ford SL (kitchen slide) Class C. NADA in the US values it at $33,900 US "average retail" which equals $42,700 Canadian. Way more than I expected but explainable by the higher than average used vehicle prices overall. People are buying used vehicles because new ones are very hard to get right now. Supply chain problems and electronic chip shortages. And I may be biased but I consider mine to be "better than average".

Do I want to sell it? Sometimes "yes" but most of the time "no". I so enjoyed working on the lighting project this week and when I was in it, I just wanted to "GO"! I still don't know if I want to travel alone and that is the big question. If I sold it I know I would regret it immediately. I was talking to my friend the other day, actually my granddaughters' other grandmother about this and her question was, "Do you need the money?" Great question! No, I don't really "need/want" the money. I have been getting along without it and can continue to do so. So for now, the question is answered, I do not want to sell it. When will I start to use it? Well, that's a question for another day.

2005 FLEETWOOD TIOGA 31W - Good Sam RV Rentals

Friday, April 15, 2022

Big Buddy Heater Conversion.

Now that I have started working on the motorhome, I can't stop!  I have now decided to add a "Big Buddy" propane heater to the rig. The electronic board in the furnace is once again toast and yes it is the upgraded "Dinosaur" board from Oregon. It lasted about two years, twice as long as any of the others. I will buy the Big Buddy at Lowes in Nanaimo and the brand name ten foot hose from Amazon. About $250 total after taxes here in Canada, about half the cost of getting yet another Dinosaur board installed. I will run it off a 20 pound bottle and the ten foot hose until I can get it plumbed in. It will be more reliable. quieter and much cheaper to run.

While I was out doing the LED lights I remembered to check the water level in the six volt golf cart batteries. All four were down about a quarter of a litre each. Not good but I think I got to them in time!

In related news, I need a new laptop! I dropped this one onto my hardwood floor and now it shuts down unexpectedly. It shut down twice in the time it took me to write this. Each time I have to take the battery off, wait a bit, prepace the battery and restart it. I will buy another refurbished Dell.

Mr. Heater F274865 MH18B Big Buddy Portable Heater Massachusetts And Canada Version 4,000-18,000 BTU

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Motorhome LED Lighting Upgrade


I started converting the nine 12 volt incandescent ceiling light fixtures in the RV to LED. I completed four of them the first day and had to quit. My neck hurt, my arms hurt and my eyes hurt. The 77 year old human body is not designed for working above your head and glasses are certainly not designed for it as the close focus part of the glasses is at the bottom. not the top.
Norma always complained about the dim lighting in the motorhome and would compensate by turning all the ceiling lights on, putting a strain on the battery when we were boondocking. She would be very pleased with this LED modification and even if she turned them all on, it would not burn much electricity.
Day 2: Motorhome LED Conversion "Sort Of" done.
All nine ceiling lights have been changed out but I found one more under the cupboard and above the counter. The most difficult to work on as it is too low to stand and too high to sit. If I could lay on the counter I could do it easily but I am too big. I will watch TV for a bit and think about it later. As Scarlett O'Hara famously said: "I'll think about that tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day."
Anyway, they look good and give off a much nicer light. BTW, they were $86 for two boxes of five from Amazon.

There is a double incandescent fixture over the couch left to do and a 12 volt florescent tube fixture over the sink that used to be the brightest light in the place but is now the dimmest so I will have to replace that as well but the slide has to be out when I do it and I can't do that in it's parking spot beside the hedge.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

My Amazon Adventure!

 No, not THAT Amazon, the one.

I have taken to ordering some things from Amazon. Things I can either not get locally or cannot get locally at a reasonable price. I know, I'm a horrible person.

Well, I put in an order of four items a few days ago and was told they would arrive Monday (yesterday). They have always been very accurate with their shipping dates and things have always been here on time. At about 3:00PM I checked the website and saw that my order was, "On the truck and will be delivered by 10:00 PM." I checked again at 9:00 and saw, "Delivered. Handed to resident"! Well, it wasn't handed to me and I would have seen the truck in the driveway, and I hadn't. I checked the porch and even the workshop porch. No parcel.

I found the Customer Service number and called, it was answered quickly and by a human! Score one point! I explained my dilemma and the woman was sympathetic. I told her I lived alone and was the only "resident". She asked what I wanted, a re-shipment or a refund. I wanted a re-shipment and she started the paperwork but discovered one item could not be re-shipped. OK, I will take a refund on that. By now it was about 11:00 PM. All taken care of.

At about 1:00 PM today (Tuesday), my neighbour called to say a parcel had been left on her porch and she had only now discovered it! The driver left it at the wrong address and certainly did not, "Hand it to the resident"! 

I called Customer Service back and explained. We tried to cancel the re-shipment and may have been successful. One item may get through and if it does she says I will either have to pay for it or return it. Returning it is a pain so I will just pay for it and keep it until I need it.

So, all's well that ends well but I had to spend about an hour on the phone over two days. Am I discouraged? Na, I will give them another chance.

Amazon Canada Expands Prime FREE Same-Day Delivery to Calgary

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

A Very Late Update

 Well, Norma has been gone three years now (on March 24). Sometimes it feels like longer and sometimes like it was just yesterday. Anyway, I have to get the motorhome back on the road this year, it is too big of an investment to just leave parked and that is pretty much what it has done for the past five years except for my one trip to the Okanagan in late 2019.

Having said that, I will have to invest quite a bit to get it on the road again. The tires are eight years old and have to be replaced before I go anywhere. Not worn out, just aged out. The batteries appear to be good but I have four six volt batteries, two purchased in 2016 and two in 2017 so they are five years old and getting close to the end of their life. They have been on trickle charge for the past four years but I will have to watch them very closely. The engine probably needs a new battery, I will have to check the date but I know it is a few years old. It has been on trickle charge as well.

The engine/transmission needs a major service and the generator desperately needs an oil change, filters and plugs. I have been running it for an hour a month pretty regularly since it was parked. Brooks has a neighbour backyard mechanic who is willing to take all this on. He is highly trained, fully capable and willing to take it all on. He charges about half the normal shop rate. I will wait a couple of weeks and head down there with a possible stop at Cedar Tires in Nanaimo for tires. I will give my local OK Tires a chance first but I was impressed with Cedar Tires for my Mazda tires. It all comes down to price. Hopefully the old ones will get it that far. This is going to be expensive.

I still do not really know what my adventures are going to be. I really do not relish traveling alone. We have seen many people doing it, male and female in Canada, the US and in Mexico but I just think the adventure would be lacking without someone to share it with. Norma was an excellent traveling companion, braver than me to head out into the unknown and to take on challenges and to top it off, she could produce amazing meals in that tiny kitchen! I guess I have to give it a try and this is the year, I am not getting any younger. I will probably stay on the Island this year to get my feet wet, so to speak. Stay tuned!

One day at an isolated Mexican gas station we asked permission to spend the night in their parking lot. We were getting settled when Norma saw this armed guard making rounds. She charmed him with her personality, a couple of cups of coffee. four or five Cokes in a cooler beside the door and $50 pesos to take "special" care of us that night. It was a quiet night LOL.