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The purpose for this site is to be a web home base for Steve and Marsha's next big adventure. Since that hasn't started yet, I'm just using it as a place to put stuff. Feel free to explore.

What's New...

12/30/2012: Photo of the left turn to the RV park we're camped at. The cafe at the corner bakes the goods for a chain in town, carrot cake, pecan pies, all kinds of things like that...

12/28/2012: Rocky and Charlie on the beach digging holes. Rocky was after a crab. Charlie thought it was a hole digging competition. . She's all fluffy clean now, and absolutely loved her day at the beach. Here are some photos.


12/26/2011: Just realized it would have been closer to drive our trailer to Ketchikan, Alaska from Breezy than where we are now...

12/26/2011: We did learn a new version of Mexican Train last night. When you start with 12s, if nobody has the double 12, you look for someone having the double 11, then the double 10, etc., until someone has the double. If say no one had the double 12 but someone had the double 11, you start with that. Then the next round look for the double 12, then double 10 because the 11 is done. It is optional for the player that starts with the double to then play their first brick after the double. Play is one brick at a time, unless you are playing a double. Doubles are way different. If someone plays a double, it has to be satisfied by someone before any other play can resume. The person that plays a double can also play the next brick that is the same number of dots as the double. If they can't, the next person to play has to satisfy it, then the next etc. Also different, when someone can't play and has to draw a brick, if they can play that one, they play it and don't put their train out. When your train is out, and on your next turn you can play on another train, your train is still out. Your train only goes back in when you play on your own train. At the end, if you get stuck with the double blank, it counts as 50 points. A couple of other new layout tricks, doubling up the row staggering the dots to save table space, and the Mexican Train also plays off the train terminal. Marsha found a link to Mexican Train rules which are much closer to these new "La Paz Rules" we learned. These rules also count a single blank in your hand at the end as 25 points. The rules on this link does have an alternate rule we called Bullet Train where players can play all of the bricks they can on the first round, which makes for faster play.

12/25/2011: Christmas Day's morning project was the awning. My first pass at deploying it back at Breezy was met with disaster because I didn't know how to do it. I turned to YouTube and found a demonstration online. Then it was easy, but I had to tape up the rip in one corner of the canvas. The weather is mild here, days in the 70s, shorts weather - nights in the 50s, good sleeping weather. Occasionally the northerlies pick up and the wind blow for a few days. So tie downs are important. I was relying on a spiral stake for a dog leash, but those are for sod - we don't have that here. After no luck looking for nails on steroids like Lance showed me on his rig, I found the dog leash stakes they use here and bought a couple. The mat would have blown away in the winds a few days ago. Lance is equipped for installing grommets on canvas, gave me 6 and loaned me the tools. In my search for awning stakes, I learned where to buy smaller tent stakes and plan to pick up 6 on tomorrow's run into town. We spent the afternoon having Christmas dinner of local beef rib roast on Hotel California. This is the cute holiday ecard they created. Below are some pics of the awning. Felice Navidad:-)

12/24/2011: In a way, it kind of feels like getting settled into Roscommon, MI - learning about the shopping rigs. Walmart was first, it wasn't here before. We hadn't started shopping at Walmart until we spent time at the cottage in MI. In Alameda, we tried to stay on island. Venturing to Walmart's was off island, down 880, and into the crowded, most speaking languages other than English, frey. In Roscommon, it was a great, lower cost shopping experience, but we have to drive 18 miles. Here, it's 3 miles away, but feels like 18 by the time you've driven it, and even the price tags aren't in English. Driving across the US, shopping at Walmart was a way to quickly absorb cultural differences in regions. Arizona was different, many different cultures there. Walmart here is really different, but culturally it is mostly Mexican and Gringo.

There are many shopping experiences yet to learn about. Before, to be cost effective, especially if you didn't have to be in a hurry, it was ISTEEE first, which was a government subsidized outlet, you never knew what would be in stock but if they had anything on your list, you bought as much as you needed because it was the best price in town. We haven't done that yet but I want to try to find it. Next was Aramburro's, nicknamed the Cow Store because of the almost life sized plastic cow as part of the sign above the store - a good Mexican grocery store. I'm not sure where that fits if at all anymore, likely because of the bigger stores. I had to stop in one of the more than one Ley's in town to pick up a couple of ice trays - very large Mexican supermarket - many less Gringo's in the isles. Then the third and last store to hit if you couldn't find it at the first 2 was CCC, very much like a large chain grocery store in the US, with many brand name products you would recognize from US stores, like Del Monte for example, plus a lower cost local brand (Springfield back then), kind of like Spartan in MI, or Springfield in CA. This 3 store algorithm doesn't take in the central market, which I'll discuss after we get back there.

CCC got sold out and is now called Chedraui, and there is more than one. I went to the one we used to go to that used to be way out of town. It's in the same place, but now there is no "out of" between it and town. The store has one special feature I've never seen anywhere else, and it still exists now as it did then. It has an up and down escalator for shopping carts. As soon as the wheels of the cart hit the moving surface, they freeze in place as if powerful magnets were holding them. I wasn't on it long enough coming out with my groceries to figure out the technology, but that's what if felt like. New, and not just with Chedraui, is the big stores have directional street signs that match the traffic signs - hadn't noticed that before.

On the growth here over the past few years, comments I'm hearing - growth in the number of Mexican middle class, growth in the numbers of Gringos coming here to retire - demanding services they are familiar with eg. radio station 95.9 FM, great classic 80s rock English songs, but with Spanish commercials, and growth in Government. I've gotten mixed readings on the growth over the last year because of the overall global economy.

We've still many shopping experiences before we learn the new way around here, more to follow.

12/23/2011: We'd never camped in an RV or Trailer in one spot for very long. Here, we've learned it's advisable not to have your tank drain hose laying on the ground, where the drain part has to go up hill. Lance helped me figure that out and design one, a quick trip to Home Depot, 160 pesos, and a couple of his saws later, we were upgraded. I had a few extra 1' pieces of 2"x6" boards that completed the system. Not pictured below are a couple of other fixes that required trips to the ferreteria, (hardware store). The first that you don't see is the handle to the gray water tank, it vibrated loose on one of the 2 detours coming. There was about 1/2" of 1/4-20 thread on the rod connected to the drain release left. I was able to fabricate a handle with 2 nuts, a lock washer, and a large diameter flat washer. I have to reach way underneath, but it allows me to open and close the tank drain by hand. I'll make it better on the next hardware run with a nut coupler and a 2 inch 1/4-20 bolt. The other thing you don't see is the dripping coming out of the hot water heater drain plug. It was leaking and any attempt to tighten it continued to make it worse - you can see the dry lake bed on the ground under the hatch cover to the heater. I was able to repair it with a 1/2 pvc tapered plug. One other item from the hardware store yet to be implemented are a couple of puppy dog leash bearing stakes for securing the awning. They are straight like small fence posts, the curly cue one we brought down is for twisting into sod and won't work in the ground here. The Santa Ana northerly winds from Southern California are blowing hard down here since last night, not the time to be rigging the awning. Possibly manana, then it will have taken a week to get settled.

12/22/2011: Been brushing up on my Spanglish. It is both refreshing, and at the same time humbling. I've been driving out to the different shopping options, tackling one or two problems a day, amazingly finding what I need, using two word sentences consisting typically of an adj. and an n., and succeeding, though it takes time. Then I listen to the radio, I can't understand a single thing I'm hearing. Gotta get more v.

12/21/2012: Nothing thorough, just some photos from my phone from the first couple of days after making it to La Paz. Crit posted a photo she took of Charlie and I at Ana's Christmas party. Thanks Crit! Also, a picture of Charlie with Ana...

12/20/2011: I'll admit our decision to tow Taylor the Trailer down the Baja to La Paz with our Ford F-150 was a bit over the top (really bad gas mileage, didn't accept our credit cards at the Pemex stations, ripped off on the exchange rates), but we did it anyway. It feels good to be here, I have to admit. But so much has changed, and we are not living on our boat in one of the marinas, and we have wheels, and that there is now Walmart, Home Depot, Sam's, and competing Mexican versions of the same, it's like the USA where the small specialty, sole proprietor stores in town dry up and die. That part is sad but we're going to try to reorient, and move forward. Lance has stressed it's best to REALLY obey the traffic laws, even though all the cars you see around you are driving through the STOP signs - targeting gringos screwing up makes for $$$ for holiday presents for the bambinos... OK:-{

We opted out of the frey today, to recover from yesterday. First day in La Paz, Lance and Jo, and Rick and Pam were extremely helpful in getting us reoriented. Red Snapper Veracruz style for lunch after chips and salsa (at La Costa ? near Marina de La Paz), and a kind of taco with shredded pork with a name starting with p we hadn't heard before for dinner. The laundry at the RV park has 2 washers and close lines, but a German family had the lines in use, then we discovered Polly at the laundry at Marina de la Paz would do your laundry for 50 pesos a load, so we stripped the sheets, and all, then dropped off the bags. We'll pick them back up manana, It's all good:-)

12/18/2011: I was able to get the dot to update once we arrived shortly before 3:00, mountain time. So re the dot above, esetoy aqui. Here's one photo that says alot about the road down the Baja, Mex-1. We followed Steinbeck's route, and further with Spirit back in 96-99. We did the Baja roads with our old RV during that time. The roads are better now, many places where you had to drive through dry river beds now have nice new bridges. We spent 2 winters living in La Paz 96-98, it's been 13 years, we're back - it looks promising. We have our trailer and truck in Camp Maranatha, seems like a nice place to base from for a month or 2. There is now a Costco, Walmart, Home Depot, Domino's Pizza, etc. We feel lucky to have seen it then, and to be able to explore the difference now. I'll get to posting some more pictures soon.

12/17/2011: The dot is still not working, we're at Loreto Shores RV Park and Resort, on the Beach of the Sea of Cortez. We once planned to retire in Loreto, then we did for a while, when here on Spirit, and then again considered buying a palapa RV site 17 kilometers south of here a few days before a grease fire burned the entire park down, a couple were cooking something and fell asleep. It's been rebuilt, the Trapui RV park. We won't go there on the way down, but I'd be surprised if we didn't stop there on the way back. :-)

215 miles to go tomorrow to our destination this trip, we're mentally prepared to be citizens of La Paz for a couple of months or so - much depends on the sale of Spirit and what we have to do. Here's Spirit's listing:

12/16/2011: We got underway by 9:15, but we had to get back out the half mile road to Mex 1 - that took a while, the road could not be described with the word potholes. It was a very long day of driving - Mex 1 is better as people have told us, which means the one lane highway with no shoulder most of the way, and no way could you use cruise control on it, had experienced more repair work than in the past. There still are a couple of places between Ensenada and Guerrero Negro that are under reconstruction. Today's detour didn't have us registering on the odometer. We got the rig back-in parked before dark, but it was dark by the time I got everything hooked up. Marsha got a couple photos of the sunset before we got here. The GPS tracker isn't picking up it's signals, so we can't update the dot, we're not updating it as we travel because of international data roaming fees. This was probably the longest and hardest day of the trip as Marsha was too white knuckled just being the passenger. We'll post some photos once we get settled in La Paz. We're staying at Malarrimo
Emiliano Zapata, Fundó Legal, 23940 Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur, Mexico +52 615 157 0100 this evening, which has a popular restaurant on the premises.

12/15/2011: We got underway by 10:00, the boarder crossing at Otay Mesa was a cake walk, not so for the folks heading north - long line, but they looked in a couple of bins in the camper shell, looked at the bedroom and bathroom in the trailer, then let us in. It took an hour to get through Ensenada, with one Pemex gasoline stop - no self service, they had young women wearing santa caps doing the full service thing, pumping the gasoline. My Visa card wouldn't work so I had to use American Express. I later called Visa customer support over VOIP, :-), to resolve we would be be in this country for a while, no problemo. More to follow, time to go get dinner and try to update our dot from their wifi. If all goes according to plan, our next 3 days destinations are Guerrero Negro, Loreto, then La Paz. Dinner here last night was great, seafood in garlic and butter, salad, and margaritas - Posada Don Diego Restaurante - Bar R.V. Park & Motel APDO POST #126, 22920 Ensenda Vicente Guerrero, Baja California, Mexico +52 616 166 2181.

12/14/2011: Taking a lay day in Santee was so much the right thing to do. The big thing was getting the truck back to the state of organization we had designed as a living as gypsies out of the truck and trailer state we had going on the way to California, before we had to turn the truck into a hauler, back and forth to storage, while disavowing Spirit. In any event, we are enthused to get Taylor the Trailer back to being our live-in, and back on the road. We had TV issues, and had to upgrade the phone - 4GS - :-) , missed the bad accident that messed up LA traffic by a day, phew!!

A half hour to the boarder tomorrow morning...

12/12/11: We made it off the boat today just after 1:00 PM. I had wanted to get underway by 10:00, but leaving on the day you are closing down a place you live just doesn't work that way. Since I last wrote, I have been in fact, pushing myself. Everyday, from first coffee to being too spent to think clearly, working on the hatches, fixing things that needed it, there were cleaning tasks we didn't get to because we were just spent. We needed to get underway. There were two bright spots on our stay in Alameda, the annual left handed Sagittarian wives birthday party, and the annual Gate 11 progressive dinner party. The crabbers concluded their strike just in time for the birthday party, though the crabs were smaller than last year, about 2 pounds if you bought live ones. Everyone is happy and healthy. Our pork and clams Portuguese stew turned out to be one of the popular ones on the 200 dinner dock, with a full moon and mild weather to boot. But other than the 2 parties, it was work, work, work, that we really just wanted behind us. Spirit is listed for sale, the broker will be doing a photo shoot soon, I'll post a link when I have it. We're in Bakersfield now, Taylor the trailer is out of storage, we're at a full hookup, and everything appears to be working. We're bound for Santee tomorrow (outside of San Diego to the East), with stops planned at Camping World and Walmart. We think we are going to spend an extra day at the park in Santee just to chill a bit, and get the stuff in the back of the truck that needs to go back to the trailer put in place without a break neck pace. That will have us crossing the boarder on the 15th, and likely showing up in La Paz on the 19th. That leaves another day breather until Anna's party on the 21st. All very hectic, hopefully we will get to relax once we get down there. Charlie wonder's what the heck is going on with all of this moving around.

11/26/2011: It's been 2 weeks of pretty much sorting out personal stuff, filing, and generally cleaning out all of the hatches getting Spirit ready to list for sale. We're not trying to push ourselves, just processing as much as we can emotionally per day so as to make this yet one more enjoyable boating experience, just like we took our time getting back here. That makes two great journeys in the past month. There are still a couple of more weeks of things we want to do with Spirit to get ready, but we are at the point where I've updated Spirit's page, the hatch inventory, the equipment list, and added a notes page to reflect what's included with the package. Whewwww...

11/17/11: We've been feeling kind of strange being back here after being gone so long. It was like we walked away from here to move on to new life experiences, then got injected back in time through a portal. And as we get this, that, and the other thing working again we're now back living on Spirit, and we pretty much see what we have to do to actually move on, there's a nautical phrase for it, "Swallowing the Anchor". But maybe not forever, we may get a smaller boat back east down the road, just the west coast lifestyle for the last 26 years anchor. It means getting everything we own that isn't selling with the boat off the boat, plus some stuff that has no other use but for with the boat that should be in storage so it doesn't detract from curb appeal. The only stuff on the boat in the last few days should be the food, spices, and clothing we brought with us from Taylor, to be loaded on the truck last for the reunion with Taylor for the trip south to La Paz. Anything not on those lists I intend to sell need to be identified and corralled asap so I can list them on Craig's list or eBay so there is time to sell and ship. I stopped by the marine consignment store on the island today, any of the marine stuff that needs to move out of our life that would just be clutter for the boat sale effort will likely end up there Saturday, December 10th about 11:00 am. We met with Dave Vickland on the boat today, he's enthusiastic we have a good boat that will show well. Dave is a broker with Bay Island yachts that was recommended by Anna, a friend with recent experience that I asked how'ed it go. There are many good brokers here locally we're learning. I totally forgot my next door neighbor, Claus was one, sigh... Some work is coming in from my consultancy to the job I retired from as a full time employee, and I appreciate that. I exercised what stock options I could after I left, and believe in the technology and the people working there, they have my best wishes. This next month will definitely be a new and interesting section to the latest new chapter in our lives.

Update: there was a crab fight on our boat last night. We won:-)

11/14/11: We got Taylor the trailer backed into it's storage spot, and were underway just past noon, and arrived in the marina before dark. After almost 7 months away from Spirit, it's taking effort to remember how to live here. Where do we keep the plates, where do we keep the pans, etc. We had to hang the peppers from New Mexico somewhere. Oakland is still on the other side of the estuary. Charlie met a new friend back here, David and Catie's new 12 week old puppy, Stella.


11/11/11: We made it to Bakersfield, with a stop just before Barstow for lunch at Peggy Sue's Diner. Along the way, thoughts started forming about what we have to do to transition from living in the trailer to living on the boat for a few weeks. I'll leave the remaining contents in the beverages bin with Taylor, and use that bin to load all of the spices to take with us in the truck. We need to empty the fridge into the Koolatron, what doesn't fit will just have to go in a bag in the back of the truck. After loading our clothing from the closets into plastic bags, we should be on the road. Marsha just mentioned it's 4-1/2 hours to Spirit. I called our favorite place to buy live Dungeness crab in the bay area, Peninsula Seafood - they told me the crab season isn't open yet, but they should have some in by next Tuesday or Wednesday - ***** TIMING *****. We're still working down Taylor's fridge, dinner tonight is grilled steaks with fresh mushrooms sauteed in butter, the last of the farm fresh sweet corn Marsha simmered off the cob with salt pork and froze, baked potatoes with butter and sour cream, and a bottle of 2006 Joseph Phelps Insignia Cabernet Sauvignon, a gift from Dave and Cynthia Thomas when we hosted a Hansen's Vineyard big Cab vertical dinner over the summer. Been saving it for a special occasion, successfully towing Taylor the trailer from Northern Michigan to Southern California works for me. Charlie loves all of her ring toys best:-) More to follow, but here's a few pics...

11/11/11: That was easy to type. By gaining another hour, we made it to the Desert View RV Resort in time for lunch - leftover blue chips and salsa from Santa Fe, leftover microwaved pizza from Flagstaff, and bloody marys. The price of a gallon of regular gasoline at the last gas station we saw in Arizona was $3.39. The price of a gallon of regular gasoline at the first place we saw in California was $4.59. Where does the difference go? The Desert View is as we remembered it from 3 years ago, a west coast snowbird community. My neighbor back then was a guy from Seattle planning 3 months here. We're seeing retired folks drive around in their golf carts socializing with folks in other rigs. There's a community center with a white board announcing Texas Holdum at 6:30, a pot luck dinner tonight, etc. We had to strip off layers of clothing when we got here, down to shorts, t-shirt, and flip flops. It was supposed to be in the mid teens in Flagstaff last night, what a difference 6000 feet make. We got caught up on laundry, and I managed to install all of the new parts the diddy bag had been accumulating. Last night's dinner was the last of the homemade 5 cheese ravioli, tossed salad, and a yummy South African, Zafrika Sauvignon Blanc. The phrase, "eating down the fridge" takes on new meaning when you take 2 refrigerators, one with a freezer with you. Today, we're thawing the next to the last bean soup. The last one will help keep everything cooler in the Koolatron after we empty out Taylor's fridge tomorrow for the drive up to Alameda. The digital TV reception here is awesome. It's easy to figure out which direction to aim the antenna, just walk around and look at the other rigs. I noticed most that had antennas up were the old style we had before I upgraded it to the latest digital version. Charlie hit a milestone last night, the entire night with us in bed - no time in the cage. This is an important milestone for us, we don't have to figure out where to put the cage on Spirit, I'll just leave it in the truck for when she rides with us. Charlie likes her toys, and she has a lot of them, but her overall favorite has been my old Woosh ring. Below, a few pics of our spot here.

11/9/2011: We drove up to Flagstaff's Arizona Snowbowl ski resort, and later up to the Sunset Crater Volcano National Park to see the sights today. The town is gearing up for the beginning of the ski season, starting about a week from now. There isn't a particularly local cuisine here, and there are many good types of restaurants to choose from, so we went with what we really wanted. We toured the old downtown area, then had a late lunch at Karma Sushi Bar & Grill, it's been almost 7 months since we had sushi, it was not disappointing. Flagstaff reminds us of what Boulder, CO must have been like before high tech moved in back in the 80s, a high altitude college town adjacent to pretty mountains offering good, powdery, skiing close by. We've decided to hit the road in the morning. Next stop, Needles, CA and warmer weather - aiming for the Desert View RV Resort. The next day we aim for the Bakersfield RV Travel Park. We stayed at both of these places when we took Harvey the RV on his last big adventure, to Las Vegas 3 years ago, and liked them both. It turns out the place in Bakersfield also has RV storage, so the transition is falling into place, and rapidly approaching. We could be back on Spirit with the fridge turned back on, and the decks rinsed by Saturday night. Comcast will have the cable TV and internet service turned back on by then. We've been treating this trip from MI back to CA as a shakedown cruise for Taylor the Trailer, fixing or replacing what needs it, and stocking up on diddy we may need but may have a hard time finding down the Baja, the next journey in the plan that could begin in little over a month. At this point, the only things on my list to buy are replacement light bulbs for the refrigerator and over the stove. I also need to make up an electrical repair kit from Spirit's inventory. Here are a few pics we took today.

11/9/2011: After a long day on the road, 382 miles from Santa Fe, NM to Flagstaff, AZ, it's always a good thing to have an easy plan for the rest of the day. We were planning on clams linguini and salad, with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc for dinner last night, but when we saw the delivery pizza ad in the campground flyer, it took about a second to change our minds. If we find a nice restaurant for lunch today in Flagstaff, and have leftover pizza for dinner, we've extended our food on board to last the rest of the trip. This is our first cruise where we've been camping in below freezing temperatures. I mean below freezing at night, but above freezing during daytime - there would likely be more to learn with those conditions, and my brain isn't opening that door of imagination right now. The parks that are open year round, many close November 1, have plumbing heat tape and insulation wrapping their water supply lines. It's recommended to have your water tank half full, and disconnect and drain your hose connection to their water supply after the dinner dishes are done. Having the heat on in the rig should keep the tanks from freezing. Many parks charge an extra $2 per day if you will be running an electric heater. We are running both the house propane heat and an electric space heater. We learned how fast the propane heat goes through a tank of gas with visiting friends late summer when temperatures dropped below normal. While getting a tank filled at the Sports Barn nearby, the woman filling the tank said a guy was just here a couple of days ago to fill a tank, then was back again today. She said, "Use an electric space heater". That's why we brought 2 with us. There does appear to be easy access to propane refills around the parks that stay open.

While looking through the campground flyer, Greer's Pine Shadows, we saw some rules we've never seen before: 1. When you are absent from your unit, pets MUST be inside. 2. Use bucket and sponge to wash vehicle, not hose. 6. No structures are to be built on the sites without prior approval. 7. Car ports are to be approved by management prior to being put up. 8. Sewer hose to be enclosed in plastic pipe by city ordinance. 9. No more than one storage unit per site. 12. Flower gardens are OK if approved by management prior to planting. 15. Seasonal Rates available, 4 months minimum stay. Other information on the flyer: Fabulous Flagstaff, altitude 7,000, population 50,000, summer high 90 degrees, winter low 20 degrees. The internet connection is very good. This place bears further investigation.

We plan to explore Flagstaff today, and it wouldn't surprise me if we stayed here an extra day. Once we leave here, it a short 211 mile day to Needles, CA, then a 266 mile day to Bakersfield where we plan to store the trailer ($35 per month). Then the final leg to Spirit, 254 miles. If we're going to be doing any more dilly dallying around this trip, it should probably be here.

We learned about a website from the manager at the place in Santa Fe, RV Park Reviews. We intend to participate, on the places that advertise wifi, where it takes up to a half hour to open a web page. Below are some pics of arriving in Flagstaff, plus one of where we were parked in Santa Fe.

PS: A couple more items for the dealing with freezing temperatures. Though I drained the hose, I left it laying on the ground. The pressure regulator was frozen up. I was able to get water to come through the hose so I hooked it directly to the connection on the trailer. I turned on the water, still nothing. Then I remembered another tip the manager of the Santa Fe park had given me, open the hatch door that will let heat get to the plumbing coming in from the supply connection. A few minutes after I opened that door and aimed the space heater at it, the water started flowing again.

11/7/2011: We made the rounds in Santa Fe today, shopped, took Charlie to a dog friendly park, then had lunch at La Choza (recommended by a friend, appeared quite popular). After 2 meals at restaurants in Santa Fe, we started to get a feel for what New Mexican food was about. The green chile sauces are distinct, and honey drizzled over sopapillas at the end of the meal is yummy. My blue soft shell beef taco was almost a stew, and delicious. After lunch, we parked near the center of town and walked around a bit, until the temperature dropped and it started gently snowing. We haven't had Charlie out in public for a while, it's not just us - at 6 months she hasn't lost her "Cute" ability to distract just about everybody walking by. We thought we were going to have to stay another day because of a couple of inches of snow coming in the morning, but the forecast has backed off, it should be clear by then, so we plan to continue west tomorrow. We plan to stop at the Camping World outside of Albuquerque for a few replacement parts, external plastic and rubber parts need to be replaced every decade or so. Then bound for Flagstaff, we may make it all the way, or stop short in Holbrook or Winslow, AZ. Tonight's dinner is leftover prime rib from Texas simmered in leftover green chile stew from lunch today, with blue corn chips and salsa, and sopapillas and honey. Here are a few pics from town. I also added a few from Amarillo below. They were beginning putting up Christmas decorations in the central square...

PS, we missed the biggest earthquake on record in Oklahoma City last Saturday by a day.

PSS, I topped off the propane today, 3 gallons - I was surprised it was so little. We have been using propane for the fridge while driving (AC while in parks), propane for cooking, and mostly AC space heater for heating except last night when the temperatures were below freezing we used the propane house heat so the heat would be more uniform to decrease the chance of tanks and pipes freezing.

11/7/2011: We made it to Santa Fe, NM yesterday, and had to set our watches back 2 hours. We crossed a time zone boundary on the day daylight savings time ended. We're in the Trailer Ranch RV Resort. It's a nice place 3-1/2 miles from the historic downtown area, which we plan to go tour today. We unhooked the truck as soon as we got positioned, and went out to a nearby Mexican restaurant, Tortilla Flats. We took Charlie in her cage, I told her she had to stay here while we went inside to eat. It seems like she is understanding what we are saying more and more. The food and margaritas were very good. We spotted Walgreens and Walmart on the way, and plan to catch up on a few list items while we're out. This will be our 10th day on the road. The laundry is caught up, life is good


11/5/2011: Well, with 30 mile an hour winds with gusts much higher, we decided this would be a good time to take a lay day, catch up on work, and give Charlie a bath. We've also changed our plan for the next stop. We were planning on camping in Albuquerque, unhooking the trailer, and take a day trip to Santa Fe. After looking at the map, from Amarillo, TX, it's about the same distance to Santa Fe, so why not camp there. I just made reservations for 2 nights at the Trailer Ranch RV Park. When we checked in to the park here in Amarillo, they told me about a local restaurant that has free limo service to and from your campsite. They have this deal if you can eat their 72 oz. steak with 2 sides in under an hour, it's free. We didn't try that, but we did go to have good Prime Rib at The Big Texan Steak Ranch.

11/5/2011: I've already mentioned poor gas mileage, but much has changed for us as I gained experience over the past year towing this trailer with our Ford F-150 truck. I think I felt the way everybody feels about the thought of backing up a trailer, until you've figured out how to do it, not a pretty picture. YouTube has become a very important educational resource for me. I'm thinking in the learn how to fix something you need fixing as opposed to calling in the specialists. Sidebar: That on a global scale has flattened our world - so many activities that constituted jobs with specialized knowledge became common knowledge - that's big time change. I found a great YouTube video on backing up a trailer - if one side is getting bigger, and you want to straighten out, turn towards the side that is getting bigger. I've since heard other rules of thumb, there's more than one, pick one. It's no longer an issue, you figure it out. Now, we have a separate vehicle to go do whatever.

But a very huge win, as we experienced in Oklahoma City, is, once you have done it a few times, is to unhook the truck and go. Hooking back up in the morning is a small percentage of extra effort getting ready to go. So this has got Harvey beat hands down. I'm wondering if 5th wheelers, or Buses and Class C's towing cars are better or worse.

11/4/2011: Charlie listening to the Pink Panther.


11/4/2011: Fear these words -

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11/3/2011: Nice visit, great dinner - a rice, black bean, chicken dish with corn bread and butter, and salad. I had to go back for more - then lemon meringue pie. Jerry and Cheris live about 5 miles from this RV park, in a very comfortable house. Charlie picked up a new toy she really liked that Maddy didn't care too much for. On to Amarillo tomorrow, then Albuquerque the next day. We're going to be crossing into a different time zone just about when daylight savings time will end. Lets see, fall back + fall back. We set the watches back an hour when we get to New Mexico, then wake up the next day and set the watches back again.

Marsha with Charlie, Cheris with Mattie and Jerry

11/3/2011: Here we are at the Rockwell RV park in Oklahoma City, seeming the only trailer and the smallest rig in the park. I think they all get better gas mileage than us. What do you think, after Spirit sells - upgrade? Catching up on laundry and grocery shopping, then visiting the Dunlaps this evening.

11/2-3/2011: Made it to Oklahoma City today, flatter roads but still pretty windy. We're at an RV park, again with crappy throttled internet access, and plan to be here tomorrow night too. The winds are gusting up to 50 miles per hour, and the temperature is dropping, from flip flops to freezing in one day. It's supposed to be sunny and getting warmer by Friday. We're visiting my nephew Todd Taylor and family (wife Linda, daughters Sandi and Sarah, and daughter's friend Britney) this evening, and friends Jerry and Cheris Dunlap tomorrow. A good coincidence not having a driving plan with this weather. We also plan to do laundry at the RV park, and do some grocery shopping to restock. The internet connection here, as was at the KOA in Joplin, MO last night are criminally advertised as available. They both are using a system of throttling your bandwidth back if you are using more bandwidth, provided by checkbox systems, They ask you how many devices you have, then give you that many slips of paper with unique access codes. If you try the same code with more than one device, it invalidates that code. Once you get in, anything you try to access takes longer than dial up. Except for last night between 3 - 5 AM, it felt like it was working normally then. It took Marsha an hour to bring up, and another hour to bring up her mail.


Linda (right), Daughter (Sandi) (center), friend Britney, and puppy Zowie.

Steve, Marsha, and Todd Taylor

Charlie, surgery healing nicely - 8 days after

11/2/2011: Yesterday, just west of St. Louis to just west of Joplin, MO - 257 miles. The fall colors are turning more brown, and there were MANY shades of brown, greenish, yellowish, orangish, reddish, and well just plain brown. It was very hilly the entire day. We didn't know what to expect, but kind of expected flatter plains like KS and NB. Also, there were MANY semis, it seemed like more than on Interstate 80. We don't know if it was the normal load, or if snow conditions on the more northern routes changed their plans. When a truck or a big rig passes us, their air flow causes the truck to be sucked over towards them a bit, likely because of the trailer in tow. So we had to keep a constant grip on the steering wheel. It was also very windy. It made for more stressful than normal driving conditions. Our gas mileage is poor, 8-9 mpg, and possibly worse with the hills. We stopped mid day at a rest stop to make hot dogs for lunch, and I had a conference call meeting for work. We changed to lighter clothing there, shorts and flip flops as the temperatures were in the mid to high 70s. We got anchored in time to set up the chairs and enjoy some of the sunshine. We're enjoying the slower, 250 mile/day style of traveling, reminiscing on how it worked with Harvey the RV. Charlie seems to be getting used to the routine, we stop and walk her when we switch drivers every 2 hours. She hadn't been eating much, but made up for it today. We still have a bag of apples from our trees, I shared one with her when Marsha took over the wheel. She seems OK traveling in the cage in the center of the back seat. By the way, the left over ribs and chicken from Super Smokers were as good as the first night, no disappointment with St. Louis BBQ. They have several BBQ sauces, I asked for the best spicy, not sweet - without hesitation the girl at the counter pointed at the one that has won many awards in BBQ competition. I just checked their web site to order a couple of bottles but it appears you can't buy it that way:-(

Note from a few days ago, while traveling through Indiana, in our heads we kept hearing a song from the 70s, Indiana Wants Me.

10/31/2011: We got the anchor set (nautical metaphor) by 4:00, which was 5:00 on our bodies, we crossed a time zone. They say some types of things come in 3s, today felt like that. One, as we were unhooked and ready to go, one of the last things to do is switch the fridge from AC to propane. The AC was unhooked, when I went into the trailer, there was no DC. The downside of traveling with that is the fridge would be off, and we still have a lot of good things in the freezer - including ice. So I tore apart the junction box behind the battery. With the Radio Shack multi-meter Jim Hegland had donated to Harvey the RV, I was eventually able to trace the short to the ground wire that leads from the battery to all of the wires leading to the trailer. Jiggling it would make the lights go on an off, so I took it off the battery and twisted the cable a couple of times. When I put it back on the battery, sparks, juice. Seems to have done the trick. I put wire and big wire nuts on the list, but I think that fix will last a while. Two, as we were getting out at a rest stop, Charlie's leash up malfunctioned and she was walking away. Maybe she'll improve past puppydom, but she just will wander, chasing leaves, anybody, any dog, anywhere but next to her owners. We were both trying to get her to come with treats, if it wasn't for the fact she had to stop for a poo, I don't know how long or how far it would have taken to retrieve her. Three, because we were in the area of St. Louis, we thought BBQ would be good for dinner and google served up a place a couple of exits before our stop for the night. Past St. Louis but before we got there, the Low Fuel alarm sounded, we got off the exit and turned right - gas was supposed to be near the ribs, but it was an immediate left after the right off the exit, we didn't make it over to that lane in time. We had to go a long way and up a steep hill before any opportunity to turn around appeared. Running out of gas would have been a bummer. We lucked out, made it to the gas station, and got the ribs. This involved 3 tighter turn arounds than I've ever made towing the trailer, including a reverse backfill that took me over a couple of the curbs at the rib shack. Marsha said I deserved a bloody mary when we got the anchor set for the electrical repair, so here we are at the KOA in Eureka, MO...

PS, we liked the Good Sam Cloverdale RV Park, and would stay again. The photo below is the rig we're traveling in...


PSS: I think I was standing next to Al Gore in the rest stop wash basin today, he commented "They even have hot water".

10/31/2011: This time of the year, where we're traveling right now, we're like the little tug that could. I'm talking snowbird season - Class A buses and 5th wheelers. We're learning alot, but we're looking at this experience compared with our time on Harvey the RV, that was a 1978 20' Class C. We get better gas mileage, 10-11 vs 8-9 mpg. I chatted with one of my neighbors last night, while we were walking our dogs, that has a 16,000 pound 5th wheel towed with a Chrysler 3500 diesel that gets 13 mpg - they have a winter home in Florida and leave their rig stored nearby here in southern Indiana for summertime. We have a separate vehicle, which gives us the same freedom as a 5th wheel, or a bus towing a car. The galley works better than Harvey's, bigger sinks, the fridge/freezer works better, it has a microwave. The hot water heater works on propane or electricity and turns on with a switch - Harvey's took a lot more effort, though both are 6 gallon, same as Spirit's. Harvey did have a drawer under the fridge that worked great for tools and junk that I miss, but my full toolbox is in the back of the truck, along with many other storage bins. The dining room (ha ha) table is the same. There is a slide out, so the living room (ha ha) is much bigger. The bathroom is much bigger and has a door instead of a accordion type cloth divider. And instead of having to climb up to the bed (which was very comfortable once you got there) over the cab, there is a walk around queen sized bed that is also very comfortable. Televisions have come a long way so the 22" flat panel takes up much less space than the old 13" one. Harvey was easier to maneuver, but as long as we opt for pull through spaces, this rig is pretty easy too. All in all, it feels much like traveling in Harvey but more comfortable in many ways. We think traveling like this is WAY MUCH better than the hotel/motel route. It's like cruising in your yacht, you've got all of your stuff with you.

It's just after 7:00 am, still dark, and several of our neighbors have left already.

10/30/2011: A 300 mile day towing a trailer, that's our longest trip with Taylor, and everything seems to be holding together. Unhooking to hooked up, a bit before 10:00 am to 6:00 PM. The weather is already getting noticeably warmer, I plan to put some water in our water tank before leaving, not worried about the plumbing freezing anymore. I put more air in the tires today, the ride was feeling bouncy even though the tires are new. Internet research last night said the old rule of 32 psi was wrong. The rear tires were 33 psi before loading the camper shell and hooking up the trailer. Today, they were at 38 psi because of the loading. I pumped them up to 45 psi (writing on tires says 50 psi max). MUCH smoother ride, and I suspect much better gas mileage - we'll be able to compare before and after numbers from our gas log. We stopped at a rest stop to have lunch in the trailer, Charlie is much happier today. Yesterday she was kind of pissed at us having to put up with watching us throw tarps over the furniture and all of the other activity with closing down the house. She didn't know what was in store for her. The blurry photo below is her at lunch. There was a BIG fire in the middle of Fort Wayne as we were going through this morning. Indianapolis has *alot* of road construction, and much of it active on Sunday. They should call this state Windiana...

10/29/2011: We didn't make it out of the driveway until almost 2:00, so instead of Ft. Wayne, IN, we made it to East Lansing, MI. This is day one of about a 5-1/2 month, 7000 mile adventure until we make it back to Breezy next April. We decided mid September to tow the trailer back to California via a southern route through Albuquerque, stowing it at an RV storage place in Bakersfield while going back to Spirit to get it ready to list for sale. The main reason for deciding to take the trailer this time is Charlie - she loves camping in it, and the thought of dealing with her in hotel rooms seems like a lot less fun. We were thinking about renting a house in La Paz for a month in January, but having the trailer for that too sounded like a great alternative. Our friends Lance and Jo Young spend winters in La Paz in their 5 wheel, they visited us at Breezy this summer and shared good information about an RV park there, with wifi, and explained how much better highway Mex 1 was than when we were traveling it with Harvey the RV back in the late 90s. So, it all made sense, the plan for the next 6 month chapter became clear.

Once we made that decision, there was much to do to prepare, both mentally and physically. It felt like every day had a preparation agenda, which also included finishing off the last bits of the different remodeling projects we had been doing over the past couple of years. I replaced the heater in the laundry room with one that worked and had to reroute the wire in the circuit breaker box from a 120 volt breaker to a 240 volt one. That will keep the water lines feeding the washing machine from freezing after the evening temps drop below 32, until the place gets winterized / water lines drained. I installed a 30 amp RV outlet on the outside of the garage which meant adding a new breaker in the breaker box and running the wire through conduit following the base of the garage to the other side. I had purchased a 100 piece of 10-2 wire, I sold the leftover on eBay. I also constructed a shutter doorway to the hole in the drywall the furnace installation caused 2 years ago, in the upstairs room.

Taylor the trailer needed organizing for living in. This meant buying a new LED TV, a 22" Vizio. I converted the old roof mounted TV antenna to a digital one so we could pick up digital signals. I went through our 1500 DVD collection and picked about 400 movies we hadn't watched yet. I also brought along the ROKU box so we could stream movies when at parks with wifi. I constructed shelves for 2 of the hatches, installed different wall hooks and a dust buster vacuum cleaner, and found bins for the hatches to accommodate spices, dishes, pots & pans, etc. to have a galley that would function for a few months. We had Camping World repack the wheel bearings, install new tires, and do a roof reseal job. We then had to plan a food wind down such that Breezy's would transfer to Tailor's fridge, and then plan out a strategy for what would be necessary to accommodate a traveling home in bins in the camper shell in the back of the truck.

My work load as a consultant to my former job was light, so between the work, the house projects, and preparing for a long cruise on a rig new to us, it made the post summer time fun and all consuming. Fall is not quite half over but we need to be south of freezing temperatures so ice doesn't damage our plumbing system. Frost was heavy on the ground yesterday morning, it was time to hit the road. We'd been noticing much evidence of Halloween around the corner, people here seem very enthusiastic about it - more than I remember out west, maybe it's the more noticeable season change that inspires the mood.

5/4/2011: We're back at Breezy for the time being. I've cleaned up/reorganized Breezy's pages and added the update notification code. See you back here in a few months.

4/16/2011: We're still on track with packing, man the truck is going to be full. It's been quite the organizational task - brings back an old phrase from the 70s, getting your shit together. This move feels like we're turning Breezy into our permanent residence, and Spirit into our vacation home. It's expensive keeping a vacation home when you are retired. It may take a year or so, maybe less, to understand the best way to move forward. Still planning on making it across the estuary to the party that's part of the Strictly Sail Expo tonight. Eric Stone's voice was out last year, hopefully the band will be in full swing again. Kyle sure plays a mean lead guitar. Sunday night, Elko, NV - woo hoo. An observation that is *very* important to note - the sensation of time passing has changed **dramatically**. Used to be a struggle getting through some days - now it's blowing by so fast - holding on to it's like corralling mercury.

Since the next post will likely be while we are underway, I'm moving them to Breezy's page for the time being, including the moving red dot:-)

4/12/2011: The truck is 2/3 packed, we can now see how much space is left, and feel we can take most of what we want to - it's going to be packed, very tightly. Our plan is still be ready to go on Sunday morning, bound for Elko, NV - then on to Jim and Jo's house in Dillon, MT on Monday. I've got my exercise thing going again, and am starting to feel much better from it. I got out last Mon., Tue., Wed., and Friday. 3 days in a row was painful. I knew it, and I know it again, every other day is the right formula. I was anxious to get started. I took the weekend off and got out again yesterday. The routine is a 2 mile course of walk/jog, 20 sit ups at the 1/2 mile mark, then stretching and reps with a 15# dumbbell at the end. 10 curls and 10 overhead lifts with each arm. Even as we are "eating down" the boat to leave it for 6 months, meals are getting more interesting. We've been watching some health, nutrition, and cooking shows and DVDs. We had a couple of filet in the freezer. I've always cooked these steaks on the grill, with varied results at succeeding bringing them in perfectly medium rare. We'd seen a show where they cooked the steaks inside with a frying pan seer, then in the oven. With a bit of internet research, I came up with this recipe. It turned out beautifully. We're now excited about exploring sauce variations. I updated the recipes page.

4/5/2011: As the day of my retirement was approaching, many acquaintances and coworkers asked me what it felt like. Having taken the sabbatical from work life that we did back in 96-99, we understand what it should feel like to be retired. In one sense, it feels like a continuation of where we left off when that experience ended. But there are several differences between then and now. Then, we knew we would have to go back to work at some point, and knew the longer we waited, the harder it would be to “get back in”. Then, we were living in a foreign country, as not first class citizens, and legally not allowed to work and make money. Now, we are first class citizens of the United States, and have no plans on leaving the country. Well, I won’t say no plans – it could be fun to spend a few weeks in La Paz, BCS Mexico to catch up on things, and see the changes – maybe next January. We were both younger then, 15 years ago. Back then, I felt immortal, that I was in some way special and would live forever. Watching your retirement coming, and in the last year it is clearly visible – you need to face mortality to make decisions about your health insurance and asset allocations – for the rest of your life. I've gotten past that now, and that feels good, but now you see the hourglass. In that last year before retirement, there didn't seem to be time to fit in enough physical exercise. I’ve gotten lumpy around the middle, bending over to tie my shoes is taxing. For that I feel I retired a year too late, and now have to determine if I can fix it by making exercise a much higher priority. I already have a pair of jogging shoes and a 15# dumbbell weight. It doesn’t cost any more money to use them. Aside from those differences, we’re pretty much where we were before coming back to work. But now we’re planning to do some work, on a part time basis, with the flexibility to fit in to a schedule that doesn’t tie us to a place.

We’re very anxious to get back to Breezy, our cottage in Michigan, and pick up where we left off last year. Last spring and summer, we made 3 trips back and forth between there and Spirit – and missed so much of a great summer. We don’t want to do that again. We need some time there to catch up with ourselves. We want to plant a row of trees along the back. We want to be there in time to watch the leaves bud, and grow through their life cycle, until they fall from the trees. Then we will think about what’s next.

4/4/2011: My last day of being a full time employee was last Thursday. Here is the calendar in my office on that day:

3/28/2011: I was a bit hasty stating the soul of Gate 11 has moved on. There was a gathering at No Worries yesterday afternoon to salute Steve.

3/24/2011: The soul of Gate 11 has moved on. The majority of the liveaboard community we've been part of for the past 5 years is in Mazatlan at the moment. A few of them left there yesterday morning, heading off on the Pacific Puddle Jump - 3 weeks or so across the Pacific Ocean to the South Pacific Islands. In a few days, many more will begin migrating towards Loreto Fest. We learned yesterday afternoon of the skipper of the sailing vessel "No Worries", Steve Hall's passing. Anna, we've got big tears.

3/18/2011: The CEO of the company I've been working for sent this note out to everybody 2 days ago:

   Hi All:

   Steve Sears has been with us since October 2002. Steve has gotten to the point where he and his wife want to go travel so he decided to
   retire and relocate to Michigan and enjoy life on the road in an RV. Steve has been a great asset for Franz with a wealth of experience
   in our day to day marketing. So, given this experience I'm certain he will from time to time do projects for us as a consultant. Most likely
   from a camp site with 4 G.

   We will organize a farewell between now and the end of the month.

   Steve: thanks again for your many years of service to Franz,



Now I'm putting instances of this on my calendar instead of Xs:

2/27/2011: I told my boss at work I'm giving him a 30 day notice of retirement on March 1. That was 2 days ago. Things have already changed dramatically in my mind. Was: Dream about future. Now: This is reality, what picture do you want to paint.

1/26/2011: Northern California has had an amazing stretch of sunny mild weather for the latter part of January, since a week ago Friday, and will likely hold up until I'm scheduled to play tennis this coming Sunday with my long time tennis partner Jim Callan. Speaking of Jim, he just became famous, again, in this news article on old guy's sports obsessions from the San Jose Mercury News. That's Jim on the right in the photo below.

1/11/2011: New year, clean slate. One exciting activity for us over the holiday was selling a 1/4 acre lot we had up in Monte Rio, CA. Turns out 2 people were bidding on it so the price went up. We ended up half cash and holding a land contract for the other half. 6% interest for 6 years. My company's holiday party was last Sunday. They are kind enough to schedule it after all of your other parties are out of the way. Kevin took a bunch of photos this year. Here is his album, and a picture of us.