Monday, May 02, 2016

Financial Advice???

OK, two posts in one day?  Yeah, it's not the Don you know and put up with.  But this really called for a post.  After I posted this morning my wife and I go out to our local Chinese-Thai restaurant for lunch.  It's a nice enough little place so we have lunch and are given fortune cookies at the end of our meal.  My wife read hers out loud then I opened mine.

REALLY?  A way out of a financial mess as if by magic?  And it is the same for us both.  If I believed, I'd be searching high and low to see if we are in a financial mess that I don't know about.  Or maybe it is for our country?  I'd love a way out of THAT mess.  Well, here's hoping.  Take care!

Life is life and sometimes death

I'm not going to turn this into a medical blog but I do want to report on my MRI results.  Well, I would except I don't have any.  Last Tuesday we were zooming over to Vegas and were about 30 miles into the trip when we find a Highway Patrol car parked across the road.  There had been a fatal accident just up the road and the road would be closed for four hours (!) to investigate it.  Well, we were planning on having lunch then going to my appointment so we could still make it by going around to Vegas the 'long way'.  We zoom back to Pahrump and are cruising through town when my phone rings. 

Hooray!  An opportunity for us to try the bluetooth attachment between the phone and the car!  This is new technology to us so it was cool.  Unfortunately it was a young woman from the MRI place telling us that the machine broke down and we would have to reschedule.  Hmmm, well it was a opportune time to call!  So we made an appointment for next Tuesday, the 3rd, then went had lunch and went home. 

Saturday I get another call from the MRI place.  This time the machine needs maintenance so can we move the appointment to Wednesday.  Really?  The thing needs repair one week and maintenance the next?  Well, whatever.  So no MRI results.  I'm a little worried about Wednesday though!

I should mention that we are gradually getting used to the new car and all it's bells and whistles.  You only have to be carrying the key fob and when you touch the door you can either lock or unlock it.  That took me an embarrassing amount of time to learn.  The bluetooth apparently works.  The built in GPS is taking some getting used to but we've had Garmin for probably 10 years so it is a little learning curve.  One thing that I love is the backup camera.  Since I'm having neck problems it is great to just look at that monitor rather than try to turn around.  You need to be careful and not depend upon it totally but it is a real help.  In fact, I've purchased a backup camera for the truck as well.  It's really helpful.  Again you can't just ignore the world but it sure helps out.

I did notice a bumper sticker that I really like.  Amazingly it's not political.  Just real.
I sure wish I knew where they found that thing.  It fits the town so well! 

Gotta go.  We are having visitors this weekend (Number One Son & SO) so the cleaning frenzy is beginning.  Take care & thanks for dropping by.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Back to dull

I promised to get back to more normal stuff but we had one of those special things happen the other day.  This is when the cactus gets buds and sometimes blooms.  I've been watching them and they have just been hanging out.  Then we came home from the store and found FLOWERS!
We have two plants in our yard - that we put there - weeds aren't counted!  Both cacti have had buds but this one decided to bloom.  You have to keep an eye on it.  Within two days they were dried up.  What you can't see in the photo is a bee that was busy with the flowers.  That bee must have one heck of a sense of smell because there just aren't many places for the little guy to live around here.  I imagine he was even happier to see the flowers than I was.

I had to take this photo of our bird feeder.  It shows most of the birds we get on a regular basis.  Pigeon, dove and finch.  There are a couple varieties of dove and finch but that's it.  Cowbirds come through twice a year and kind of take over the place but they don't live here.  There are black birds but they don't really care about the feeder.  And we have hawks - they like the feeder for the hunting opportunities.  We have seen a burrowing owl on a couple occasions but it's been a couple years since we have seen them.
It's funny but if you would have told me 20 years ago that I'd like watching pigeons I wouldn't have believed it for a minute.  Funny how things work out sometimes.

I get to go into Las Vegas next week for an MRI.  My left arm has been bothering me for about four months.  It seems like it should be a pinched nerve and working through the local doctor-xray-specialist hoops I'll get my neck tested to see if in fact that's the problem.  Of course then we get to decide what to do about it.  We've been making plans for the summer but I'll probably want to put them off if I can get back to feeling good.  Since the first of the year I've gotten a full nights sleep maybe twice.  Sleeping three hours then wandering around for a while then getting three more stinks!  Of course getting up in the middle of the night and wandering around sometimes wakes my wife so her sleep in screwed up as well.  (A motivational factor that every husband will recognize!)  It does make one thankful for some of the wonders of modern medicine. 

Gotta go do something even if it is wrong.  Have a good one and thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

I'm pretty conservative

Really, I am.  But every now and then something just triggers my 'Oh FuxK NO' button.  Well, first of all this whole disaster of an election season sucks big time - but I digress.  We live out in the back of beyond.  This is Conservative Country and that's fine.  People who live around here have horses and chickens and goats and why not.  It's not the city.  I'm sure most of them have guns not that there is ever gunfire in our neighborhood.  We have guns.  Granted most are ones that I fired when I was a child.  A couple of them are probably older than I am and that's saying something.  But, again I digress. 

The radio 'news' carried a story about how hackers can take over your car.  The reporter is talking excitedly about how the radio is blaring, the wipers going crazy and, worst of all, the brakes being useless.  Well, gee!  What kind of crap is that?  First of all, yes, there are plenty of computer systems in a modern car and yes, where there is a computer there can be a hack.  However, every maker has their own software so a 'universal' hacker would have to have individual hacks for every make.  Perhaps even several for different styles of car.  A Chevy Cruz probably isn't using the same software as a Corvette.  So this 'news' story is just aimed at increasing our paranoia.  Thanks!

We are in our mid sixties so many of our relatives are as old or older.  These older relatives are getting really paranoid.  We have one person who a few years ago took a cruise to Australia and stopped at several south pacific islands.  Now she is getting worried about being out and about in her own neighborhood at night.  Now certainly this could be the sign of some mental illness but they too live in conservative country and they are hearing the same crap on the radio that we are getting.  OMG, we are becoming a nation of idiots!

Of course we have Presidential candidates who are talking about building a fence between the US and Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants.  What happened to "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free".  (A quote from The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus and installed in the Statue of Liberty.)  Are there Mexican drug dealers who would like to live here?  Well, hell yes.  So let them sell something, arrest them and throw them in jail or ship them back home.  But does that mean we should keep out thousands of hard working normal people?  I certainly don't think so.  One guy I know doesn't like immigrants because they have 'taken over construction jobs'.  Well, that's what is called life.  Read a history book.  The Italian immigrant wasn't exactly loved when they arrived.  The Irish were hated. I imagine every incoming group was vilified.

Paranoia has it's place.  Walking around in bad neighborhoods at night is probably a bad idea.  Flashing a roll of bills in a bar when you are drunk is probably a bad idea.  But it shouldn't drive our society.  It shouldn't drive our Presidential election.  I know 'good news doesn't sell newspapers' but it doesn't follow that we need to make up crap.

Sorry.  I'll get off my soapbox and return to pictures of pigeons in the birdbath next time.  Take care and thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Still quiet around here

We are slowly getting back to 'normal'.  We did finally decide we'd seen enough cars and wandered off to buy a new one.  We liked the size of the RAV4; just wanted more power and more bells and whistles.  It's a crowded market place.  We tested at least 10 different vehicles and there are at least that many more that we skipped for one reason or another.  Presenting:  our new wheels!
It is a 2016 Ford Escape.  Somehow we've become a Ford Family!  Who would have though it?  It is almost the exact same size as the RAV4 but has a ton of options that we couldn't afford to get on the RAV back in 2010 when we bought it.  It also has a LOT more horsepower thanks to turbocharging.  We'll see how it works out.  Right now we are having trouble adapting to all the new stuff.  The built-in GPS doesn't work like our Garmin; the audio system is confusing; the a/c is all via the touch screen so that's weird.  That doesn't even talk about the new key fob that unlocks the car when we near it and the 25 different checks it makes to be sure you aren't locking the fob in the car!  Suffice to say, these old dogs are having a little trouble with learning these new tricks!  (That dog reference is not about my wife needless to say!)

Otherwise this is a pretty normal spring.  There is lots of wind and varied weather but gradually we are warming up.  The pigeon population has forgiven our vacation from feeding them and are back.
I haven't counted more than seven in the birdbath at one time but it's a small bath!  They are trying.  The smaller birds are slower to return but they are showing up as well; just no photos yet. 

Pahrump got it's name up in RV blog lights when the Cheap RV Living guy visited us.  He likes the place for many of the reasons my wife and I chose to live here.  It is inexpensive, there is a fairly good infrastructure and you are close to Las Vegas which has whatever else one might require including a world class airport so you can escape all this fun.  He camped on BLM land up on the mountain fan.  There are always people up there; some are even permenent residents.  In his case a complaint was made and the Sheriff came along to enforce the 14 day camping limit on BLM land.  Usually folks around here are pretty live and let live so the Sheriff contacted him but not other folks living farther from the person who made the complaint.  How do I know this?  I've seen their vehicles out there for months!  I take the truck up there from time to time for two reasons.  First I enjoy the solitude of the desert.  It's very soothing.  Secondly, the truck is a 4x4 and there are nice gravel roads up there to exercise that option. 

So you see it's pretty quiet right now.  We are making big plans.  I have my 50th high school reunion this year and we are trying to figure out if we can make it.  The problem is that we keep adding options to the trip so it becomes a major deal.  You know how it goes:  if we are there, how can we not go another couple hundred miles and visit so-and-so.  Then we were hoping to make a trip to Europe in the fall.  We are starting the research but again it's pretty much cast in jello at this point.  (Actually we hoped to make the trip this spring but it just didn't come together.)  Thanks for stopping by.  I'll see if we can't come up with some good photos or something for next time.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cruising, kind of.....

Since returning from Washington we've been just catching our breath.  Between the 6,000 miles to and from Florida and the 2,500 to and from Washington; we're loving being stationary!

Somewhere along the line my neck and back started giving me trouble.  This crap comes and goes but it's kind of stuck around this time so I've gone to the doctor and had a few x-rays done.  They don't tell me much but I have an appointment with an orthopedic specialist coming up.  Maybe they can offer some good ideas.  I do know I don't want to be in pain forever and I don't want to be taking pain meds forever either.  There's gotta be a better way.

When we got home from Florida we had quite a few weeds in our yard.  During the trip to and from Washington it got kind of out of hand.

Happily we were able to engage a couple of young men to come and remove them.  Believe me, they earned their money pulling those weeds!  The small ones got sprayed.  Good bye weeds.  I'm sure they will return next year.

One of the things I love about living here is that there is such a diverse population.  Here is an RV I found in the Walmart parking lot.  I didn't want to approach too close; some folks really like their privacy.
It was built on a F-350 Ford chassis.  The only part I don't like is the lack of windows.  There wasn't even one.  However, maybe they have a cool sunroof.  The cover on the top would keep some of the sun out but who knows.  The guy sure likes his spare tires!

Gotta go.  I'll see if I can't do more of this updating thing. Ha!  Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

A sad trip

While we were on our Florida trip my wife's step-father became ill with pneumonia.  He was a great male roll model for my wife when she was younger.  Shortly after we returned home he was allowed to leave the hospital and return to his own home.  Hospice care was suggested and my wife decided she needed to make one last visit to this fine man.  We chose to drive knowing that there was a good chance we wouldn't be in time.  And we weren't.  He passed away quietly in his home with his wife and children nearby.  It is what he wanted.

So we spent two and a half days driving up to Washington state; three days visiting with family and another two and a half days driving home.  2,489 miles but it was certainly the right thing to have done.  We could have flown, of course, but I think the long miles helped us to deal with the loss.  Sitting on a plane just isn't the same.

RIP, Hank.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Florida is HUGE! Trip report - last.

At least if you are in the south end and want to leave via the western end of the panhandle; it's REALLY a long way!  So anyway we finally decided to leave the country rv park outside Homestead, FL.  We had intended to drive up the east coast enjoying the beaches.  But, you know, it was cold and nasty so we (mostly me) didn't want to waste time on the beaches.  My wife is from California so beach time isn't very important to her.  And cold beach time just didn't do a thing for either of us.  Bottom line, let's get on I-95 and boot-scoot.

So we trucked up to Fort Pierce before we stopped.  Again there was a cafe attached to the park so we ate there rather than cook.  I can't honestly say I remember it but we both lived so I guess it worked!  We had some trouble figuring out our route from here and finally decided to head over to I-75 and move north.  Our next stop was Alacha, FL.  It is a small town just north of Gainesville with not a lot going on however we needed some time to just talk about the remainder of the trip.  For that it was perfect.

We decided to spend some time in New Orleans then basically head for home.  Complicated, huh.  So off we went the next morning crossing Florida ending up in Holt, Fl just northeast of Pensacola.  Holt had a nice little park called River's Edge RV Park.  It is mostly a fishing camp since it IS on the banks of the Yellow River.  And the entire park is sand so I was rather happy we have 4-wheel drive on the truck not that we needed it; it was just reassuring.  The park certainly isn't fancy but the woman running it was pleasant, it was quiet and level.  You can tell, we are tough to keep happy!  So the next morning we were off to New Orleans.

We stopped at a park called Pontchartrain Landing.  It is a combination of rv park and marina; I didn't actually notice the marina because it was across the way.  The park is in kind of an industrial area where at least one of the boatyards looks like it is totally dead.  In fact there seemed to be a couple half-finished 100+  foot yachts in one of the sheds. 

Doesn't that just look like two or three lawsuits just standing there?  The park has a cafe on site that we checked out.  The one employee totally ignored us so after a few minutes we left.  Chatting up your regulars may work some places but not with us.

The one tremendous advantage the park has is that they provide free bus service to the French Quarter.  When we traveled it was into town at 10:00 and back at either 16:00 or 20:00.  Of course you could go in at 15:45 as well if you wished.  We just wanted to spend the day so took the early bus.  It worked out really well!  I never realized that Mardi Gras isn't just a day in New Orleans; it starts in late January and continues until the actual day.  That managed to make the trip very interesting:  i.e. traffic was horrible!  It was SO GREAT not driving down there and not having to find a parking place!  We went down; enjoyed the day and went back to the rig.  Easy for us; horrible for the driver!  We enjoyed the food, the people watching and even did a little shopping.  We just said 'no' to the $11K antique diamond necklace.  The tourist city is lovely; just lovely.

I must admit that I hadn't expected to find people in costumes!  The various groups can't parade much in the French Quarter but they can meet!  The bemused tourists wander between them trying to figure out what's going on.  It's kind of strange.

There was also this balcony - you can enjoy the party from above!  By the hour!

It is also about time for people to start getting drunk.  We were happy to be leaving on the 16:00 bus because already things were getting odd.  And who doesn't love being around a bunch of drunks who are wearing costumes?  Hmmm, I'm thinking that's most of us!  At least those of us over about 25!

We stayed in New Orleans one more night mostly because we needed a break.  I did really exciting stuff like visiting the local Winn Dixie!  LOL  Two thoughts remain with me.  First, it is a very poor city with a lot of people just getting by.  Secondly, while many of the drunks in the Quarter were white, the city seems heavily black.  It's still the South and segregation may be gone but don't bet your last dollar on it.

We left town and drove down towards Homma, LA.  We wanted to check out that area.  We didn't really stop but enjoyed this agricultural area so near New Orleans.  We rejoined I-10 and ended the day at Frog City RV park in Duson, LA.  What can you say about a name like that?  Well, it was a nice enough park so we enjoyed our stay.

Hopped on I-10 again and headed west to Houston, TX then Junction, TX.  We were in travel mode and stopping was ok but we prefered not to unhook the rig!  The park was quiet but the cable tv didn't work even after one of the employees took it apart; the wifi was really slow; the site was level but had a hump in the middle where our tires were.  That left our door about 4 feet off the ground and we only have 2.5 feet of step!  That last one was a doozy!  However, Junction had a lovely bbq place called Lums within walking distance.  I've got to admit, it was excellent food!  They claim to have won many awards and I can see it.  Nice food!  It's a very plain place with gas station attached but the food is there! 

So the plan here was to stop in Van Horn, TX; then Lordsburg, NM, Phoenix, AZ and a final stop in Las Vegas.  Van Horn was kind of cool  - also physically cool.  It was 17F (-8C) in the a.m.  Grrr!

They were proud of the place.  Unfortunately the cable didn't work not did the wifi.  There was a cafe that we skipped in the evening but tried in the morning.  Glad we missed the evening shift!  The cook could only do one ticket at a time so there was a long wait.  The food wasn't quite what we ordered but we didn't have patience to send it back and the server was rude.  Who needs that?  I did like their trash cans!
So the next stop was at the Journey RV Park in Lordsburg, NM.  It is an ex-KOA and you can see why it's an 'ex'.  First there was the neighborhood - not good.  Then there was the small matter of the electricity.  We were given a list of how much power various things draw.  We blew the circuit breaker four times during our stay.  That would be ok if we were using lots of electricity but we hadn't blown a circuit breaker the entire trip.  When it must be the customer's fault - it's not.  I definitely cannot recommend the Journey RV Park in Lordsburg.  Sorry about that!

So we hit the road for Phoenix.  It was exciting driving through Phoenix in rush hour but we managed to find the Sunflower RV Resort in Surprise, AZ.  Sunflower is another park intended for long term visitors.  It had over 1,000 spaces!  We parked in one of their very-temporary spaces.  They have about 500 rules; I'd love to never be anywhere like that again.  But, it was on the north side of town so we got out of there easily in the morning. 

It was another long day but we ended up back at the Las Vegas RV Resort again.  Just like last time you get a nice level secure space in Sin City.  It is near Sam's Town so well off the strip but nice spaces and inexpensive. 
The park only allows certain vendors into the park but one is Red Rock RV Cleaners; we asked them to wash the rig.  They charge $2 a foot so it's not too expensive.  Doing the roof is $20 more.  They do a nice job and I'd recommend them.  The next day we managed the 60 miles back home.  And darned glad to see it!  Travel is great but so is home.

Have a good one!  There will be more news before long.  Take care.