Monday, December 25, 2023

Merry Christmas!

A Very Merry Christmas to all my Family and Friends Everywhere!

I am in Victoria at my friend Pennys' place for Christmas. I stopped at my son's for a couple of days on the way down. We are probably going up to Campbell River for New Year's. No big plans, just a quiet celebration. All my best to everyone!

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Boy, Do I Feel Dumb!

 At the beginning of the summer I decided to let the motorhome run on solar power so I evidently turned off the "Aux Battery" switch on the control panel which isolated the batteries from all charging systems except solar. The problem is, I totally forgot about this until I started looking into the converter "problem". Turning the "Aux Battery" switch back on sent 14.4 volts charging voltage to the battery. Problem solved and $200 to $300 saved!

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Converter Problems

 It appears the electrical converter in the motorhome is shot! The job of the converter is to take the 115 volt AC power coming into the RV and convert it to 12 volts (actually +/-13.5) to charge the batteries. A couple of weeks ago Kelly was staying at the house while I was in Victoria and heard an alarm coming from the inverter in the motorhome. She turned off the howling inverter and called me. When I got home I did a quick check and discovered the batteries were low but being slowly recharged by the solar panels which eventually got them back to 12.2 volts in spite of there being little sunshine.

A couple of days ago I finally got around to checking, (first confirming the rig was plugged in) and discovered the converter was not putting out any charging voltage. The converter is situated behind the breaker panel under the bathroom sink, not an easy spot to work in. There is no rush as I will not be using the motorhome for at least several months so I plugged in a battery charger, recharged the batteries and then exchanged the big charger for a trickle charger / battery maintainer. I will be like Scarlett O'Hara and "worry about this another day" when the weather is a little better and I feel more like contorting my body around the tiny bathroom. New converters cost between $200 and $300 and I imagine they would charge $100 to install one at the shop so If I can do it myself, the savings will pay for a nice dinner out.

Thursday, October 12, 2023


On Friday I had just finished rinsing a few dishes for the dishwasher when I noticed a puddle of water on the floor! I opened the cupboard and saw the drain pipe had come apart and when I touched it I could tell it was broken. Well, I had installed this drain when we had replaced the old enamel sink shortly after we bought the house 34 years ago (my god, how can it be that long!) and the black drain pipes had reached their half-life. I "could" do it myself, I have the required tools and talent but did I really want to? I have little problem getting down on the floor, it's the getting back up part that is the problem and the process would require many trips up and down and out to the workshop and hardware store. The fairly simple job would have left me in a semi-crippled state for a couple of days and wishing I had "farmed it out",

So, that's what I did. I called my plumber. It being a long weekend he could not make it until Tuesday unless I wanted to pay his emergency weekend and after hours rate (which I did not) so I simply started using the laundry room sink until he could get here. Tuesday arrived and the plumber showed up around noon. He advised replacing the whole mess of pipes instead of just the broken ones and I agreed. I also had him replace the ancient hot and cold water shut-offs as one of them was almost impossible to turn and I foresaw disaster in the future. Using the laundry sink I noticed the hot water tap was difficult to shut off completely so I had him replace the washers on those as well. I had originally estimated $150 and with the extra work the bill came to $250 ($200 labour and $50 parts). He was here for just under two hours so I consider that a very good deal.

So that was my (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend adventure!

Monday, October 2, 2023


 Last Sunday was my 60th High School Reunion! The entire Kitsalino High School 1963 grad class is 78 years old (give or take). I picked up Penny, (who was also my high school girlfriend) in Victoria and we went over to Vancouver on the ferry early Sunday Morning and got an early check-in at our hotel in Steveston, The reunion was at the posh Arbutus Club and consisted of a cocktail hour and a wonderful Buffet dinner followed by socializing. It started at 5:00 PM and by 9:30 or 10:00 it was winding down. I had kept contact with a couple of the people over the years and it was great catching up with them and many others but by 10:00 I had stood around and talked long enough and we were both ready to head back to the hotel.

Hotels in Vancouver have become ridiculously priced and we were very lucky to find one for under $500 a night, The Steveston Hotel is a very nice small, newly remodeled hotel in an old suburb of Vancouver very near the water and we found a room there for $230 a night with full breakfast included, a great deal for Vancouver! There are many neat old restaurants in the area and we had decided to stay an extra day. We spent Monday cruising around our old late 50's, early 60's stomping grounds and spent an hour in an old coffee house near the High School. We then drove back to the hotel and walked to a nice Greek restaurant just around the corner and had a very pleasant evening (like being back in high school but with enough money for a nice dinner out)!
Tuesday morning we headed for the ferry but made a detour to Point Roberts, Washington where we both stocked up on Tilamook cheddar cheese and butter (only available in the US). After exploring Point Roberts for a couple of hours, we re-entered Canada and boarded the ferry home. I hung around Penny's for a couple more days, stopped to see Brooks for his birthday, turning down his invitation to accompany him on his birthday adventure of skydiving and drove home on Friday. It was a very busy week and I am now in my "relax at home" mode!

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

The Kia, One Month Later

I have had the 2015 Sorento for one month now. I have not gone far with it other than driving it home from Victoria where I bought it and one trip to Brooks' in Shawnigan lake. It is running perfectly and behaves like a new car. It is getting 8.8 Litres per 100 Kilometers which is 32 miles per Imperial gallon or 24 1/2 miles per American gallon. Everything about the car is great, it is comfortable, easy to get in and out of and drives well. The electric steering takes a bit to get used to and I wish I had a backup camera as the view to the rear is a little lacking so I might add one if I can decide where to mount the screen.

It came with a full tank and I have added one full tank. I have tested it on gravel with a short trip to Brown's Bay and (not that I needed the AWD) I tested it. I have driven hundreds of thousands of kilometres in company 4 wheel drives and the AWD and it's Traction Control is a little different but I will get used to it when we have a little snow.

But so far, so good. No complaints and it is so much easier on the back than the old Mazda!

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Finally, A New Car

 May be an image of car and text 

 I am the proud owner of a 2015 Kia Sorento! My friend Mike in Victoria checked the ads and made a shortlist of what I wanted. Our second stop was the Victoria Mercedes Benz dealer where we found this little gem. It's a beautiful, clean, low mileage car that I am picking up Monday after a detailing. I think I got a good deal and Mike thinks I got a good deal.

A Tale Of Two Dealers
Dealer 1: Selling a 2016 Hyundai Tucson AWD. 76,000 KM $22,600 ($17,023 US). Auto Trader said the price was about right but I told the salesperson it was at the very top of my budget, maybe higher. she said go for a drive. It drove beautifully, I loved it. She gave me the printout and the total was $26,500 ($19,900). I offered $23,000 (what I told her my budget was) all in and she "took it to her manager", came back and said, "sorry". No counter offer, just, "If you change your mind..." I really expected her to counter with $24K or $25K. I would have paid $24K but not $25K.
Dealer 2 (Three Point Motors Mercedes): 2015 Kia Sorento AWD, 105,000 KM. $18,500 ($13,900 US). Auto Trader said it was $2,300 UNDER market value. I hummed and hawed and the salesman said, "Try it, it's the end of the month so there might be some flexibility". It drove great except for a feeling that I had to keep "correcting" the steering. I had Mike drive and he said the word he would use was,"The steering isn't really confident". We went back and the salesman said he would send it to the alignment shop. He gave me a (conditional on repairs) printout with a $20,600 total. I said $18,000 all in would work, he countered with $19,000 ($14,300 US) and we shook hands. It cost me $3,900 under what Auto Trader said was a fair market value and $7,500 less than I would have had to pay for the Hyundai! I get the final say on Monday after a test drive after the alignment.
I have the car!
It passed a full alignment check. I was told what I was feeling was the electric steering. There is no traditional steering column but the steering wheel drives a sensor which in turn tells the steering box what to do. The "feedback" feeling is totally different and takes getting used to. 
It was ready by 2 PM after a detailing. I haven't driven a brand new car for many years but I can't imagine one feeling any better than this Kia! I am more than happy with it. It is higher and wider than the Mazda as well as much heavier but feels great driving. I picked Penny up and we drove out the highway to Sidney, BC for an early dinner on the ocean. Buying this car was a smart move that I should have done years ago. The chorus of, "I told you so" can now start!
The Old '98 Mazda Has A New Home!
It had/has many minor problems and needs some tender loving care. Other than that, it has been a solid, very reliable car and has great bones. It has had no accidents and zero rust!
I gave the car to my former daughter in law Colleen (my granddaughters' mom) and her new partner, Ron. They are restoring it to much of it's former glory and I can't believe how much they have done in just one day! Ron has almost fixed the rear power window (wiring problem) and is about to tackle re-finishing the headlights while Colleen has a plan to replace the sagging headliner with new stuck on fabric from Fabricland where she works.. 
It is so good to see some new life breathed into the old beast, it was too good a car to throw away. It will help them out so it is a classic win-win situation and the car stays in the family!

Friday, July 21, 2023

Still Kickin' AKA "Proof Of Life"

I am doing fine. I am on the waiting list for some fairly major dental surgery and right now that list is about eight months long. putting it into early next year. It is no problem waiting as I have no pain, just a little trouble eating some (most) things.

I'm down in Victoria "helping out" my friend Penny who is undergoing some minor surgery of her own and her doctors did not want her to be at home by herself while she is recovering. She is actually doing as much for me as I am for her right now so everyone is happy!

I will stop in and see Brooks (my son) in Shawnigan Lake on the way home. I have not seen him nearly enough for a while, in fact the last time was on Father's Day when he drove up for a couple of hours visit before he had to get back to work.

Penny and I are going to our 60th Kitsalino High School Reunion (Class of '63) in late September. Finding a "Reasonably priced" hotel near Vancouver is a real challenge but I finally found one on the water in nearby Steveston for a little over $220 per night, about half the current going rate in Vancouver. With the registration, ferry, hotel and meals it will be a thousand dollar (plus) weekend but well worth it considering it will probably be the last one.

Still no serious travel plans and the motorhome is still parked by the house. It needs some work before I would feel easy using it so, there it sits.

Anyway, I thought I should stick my head up out of the foxhole and say "Hi", so... Hi! I hope all are well.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Water, Water Everywhere!

About a week ago I ran the generator in the motorhome and realized the water system was still winterized. I do not use antifreeze but instead I drain the water tank, the hot water heater and all the pipes. It is easy to do, is cheaper than using antifreeze and it very seldom drops below freezing here anyway. Just in case I have an electric heater inside the rig that turns on at 40 F. I've never had a problem.

I filled the water tank after closing all the various shutoff valves, went inside, opened all the taps and turned on the water pump. It went on and started pressurizing the system. But it didn't stop after I turned off all the taps. Then I heard water running! I opened the cabinet under the kitchen sink and water was coming out of the underside of the taps! I turned off the pump and cleaned up the mess which was not all that bad. I cannot get into that cramped space and even if I could, I cannot see well enough that close to my face. I suspect it is the taps that failed. The fixture was leaking a little before and I had to make sure the hot-cold lever was perfectly centered or it would drip and leak from behind onto the counter, it needed replacement anyway so I went down to Home Hardware and bought a suitable Moen replacement for $110. I bought a household model, not one for RV's. The RV ones (in my experience) are not as well made and cost more. Next I called my local plumber, a smaller guy who installed the last one and got a promise he would call first and be here sometime this coming week. Hopefully a leaky tap is the only problem which was probably caused by not being used for a long time.

Monday, April 17, 2023

A Great El Paso Steakhouse

 Memories from The Road.

There are many steakhouses in Texas but this one is special for one good reason. The Cattleman's Steakhouse is located a few miles outside of El Paso, TX on the grounds of an old ranch that was once used as a movie shooting location. The food is great and the servings Texas sized! It is not cheap but more on that below.

If you show up in your RV you are welcome to boondock in their parking lot for the night for free! So if you want a bottle of wine with your meal, no problem, they have you covered! When we were there there was even an electrical outlet right beside us which security gave us permission to use. Only 15 amp so forget about air conditioning but enough to run a fan or to make a pot of coffee which is what we did. So what you save on an RV park for the night will pay for one of your meals, a win - win situation with fine dining at half price.

When we first started stopping at The Cattleman's they served a delicious shark steak which I ordered every time we were there. Norma always had the rib eye steak and always took 2/3 of it back to the rig for her next two days meals. The last time we were there I was shocked to see they had taken the shark steak off the menu! I asked why and they said they simply did not sell enough of it to make it worthwhile to keep a stock. Too bad! I would have ordered more if I had known. It was addictive but luckily there were more selections for me the non meat eater.

Sunset at Indian Cliffs Ranch