Monday, November 25, 2013

Los Algodones, Mexico

The next leg of our journey was to Indio, California.  The drive was just the way we like it, smooth and uneventful! Our alternative would have been to come south through Arizona, but MapQuest told us it was about fifty miles longer, and it seemed that Arizona was having some bad weather.

Besides, Craig wanted to get a Shields date shake.  No objections on my part.

Sunday saw us tootling along for the last 170 miles to Winterhaven CA. We stayed at the River's Edge RV resort. Not fancy, some train and highway noise, but it is one exit away from the Los Algodones border crossing. This is where there are dozens of dentists, pharmacies, doctors, opticians  and many other medical services pandering to the elder "Snow Bird" community.  

Had Craig not done some research and made an appointment for his laser periodontic (LANAP) procedure, it would have been quite daunting to run the sidewalk gauntlet of service hawkers. 
"Looking for a  dentist?"   "Come right in."  "Compare our prices." 

"Eye glasses?"  "Prescriptions?" "Come in!" "Lowest prices here!" 

"Gold chains? Rugs or blankets? Purses or leather belts?"  "Come right in, compare our prices!"

I insisted we go over early so we could find the dentist and take a look.

That took no time at all, so we walked around for a bit and had an early lunch.

As far as I know, things went fairly smoothly.  Craig is a bit uncomfortable tonight, but he would be if he had gone to a California periodontist too.  He will take antibiotics for a week, and we may drive back for a checkup appointment in two weeks.  It is about three hours from San Diego. We would come over in the car not the Alfa.

As we were waiting in line for re-entry, I had a conversation with a nice Canadian couple.  We discussed getting glasses in Los Algodones. The wife said you could see an optometrist in the morning and pick up your glasses in the afternoon. I am thinking about doing that when we come back for Craig's checkup.  It has been a long time since I have had my eyes checked, and I think I need new glasses. If they are good, it would save a couple hundred dollars, and if they were not good it wouldn't be a big loss.

I think of this as being one of the advantages of being a full-timer. 

We will see.  Have you had experience with Mexican medical/ dental/vision/pharmacies?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Camping World, Bakersfield, CA

The first day of our winter trip went very smoothly.  We woke to very gusty winds, but no rain and were a bit concerned about driving.  It turned out that San Jose had a "killer windstorm" Friday night, but we got out of town before it hit.

Getting out of our drive and up our road is always a difficult process, but it seems to go more smoothly each time.  I have made a flag with "RV COMING" and long pink ribbons that I use to stop the rare car coming down the road when we want to go up.  I go ahead to the top of the road in the car and let Craig know when it is clear for him to come up. I use the walkie-talkie, and do the same thing at the one short "S" curve just before the freeway entrance.  All in all we live about a mile from the freeway, but it is tight, curvy with a steep grade.  All went well, but we are not overconfident about it.

We stopped in town to dump and to top off the propane tank and then headed out.  We were both smiling.  We were not bothered by any wind and made it to our first destination, Camping World in Bakersfield, CA.

I had read that they allow overnight parking, and was delighted to find out that they also have two free 50amp hook ups.  We did some necessary shopping at the store and settled in for a nice night.

Sunset in Bakersfield

Saturday's drive should get us to Indio.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cabin Fever

I am happy to say that today, Thursday, is our last day at "Camp Driveway" for a month or more. We will head out for San Diego, by way of Los Algodones, Mexico for a dental appointment. 

Not for me. I decided to pay my American dentist big bucks because I had a complicating root splinter that had to be removed by an Oral Surgeon. I have no reservations about going there for simple work, but mine required several weeks of healing before the new bridge could be fit. In the future, if we are spending several months in Arizona, I might consider work that would take several visits over a period of time, but that wouldn't work for us right now.  Craig's work is a one-visit procedure.  We figure two and a half days of hard driving will get us there on Sunday. Appointment on Monday, and then over to San Diego on Tuesday.

For most RVers it is called "hitch-itch" The desire to get moving to the next place.  I have to call it "cabin fever" because the Alfa feels so much like a permanent structure on our land.  We have had more small fights about irrelevant things lately than I would like. We are not perfect!

I get negative about the house selling and exaggerate gloomy thoughts. Craig hates it when I'm an Eeyore.

And, I get mad at him when he acts like another kind of equine, and I don't mean a horse! 

I usually start a kerfuffle by questioning his way of doing something. I can't seem to keep my big mouth shut! He has done so much around the house and Alfa, and I still nag and question him. 

I'm sure things will get better as soon as we are on the road.  We both do want to do this, and we both are being worn down by the stress of having the house on the market. 

Most of the time when we are traveling we work together very well as a team.
Sometimes around the house too!
Enough about that. 

It has been quite cold and rainy for the last two nights. 

We noticed one interesting (to us) thing. In light or moderate rain you can only hear it in the back of the coach. It has to be coming down quit hard to hear rain in the front.  We wonder if that is due to less insulation in the ceiling, although Craig says he could see lots of insulation when he replaced the vent above the bed.

[From Craig] Folks on the Alfa Yahoo Group convinced me that the roof is well-insulated everywhere, so that we can only hear large drops.  There's a big pine tree behind our coach that "aggregates" (my word of the day :-) little raindrops into big ones, so that we only hear most rain in the bedroom. 

The rain stopped this morning, so Craig got the tires, oil and batteries all checked for travel. I'm getting the wash done. 

The sanitary dump place opens at ten, and after we are finished there we will be heading SOUTH! 628 miles in two and  half days.

PDS? No, he would do it in much less time. 

On to a new subject: I want to share a needlepoint project that I did this month.  It is a 3-ring binder for my reservations and stuff that I keep next to the co-pilot seat.  It is a little taller than a regular binder so it is easier to get in and out of its slot. The narrow pocket on the top of the inside is for a pen.

I'm working on more panels like these, but I'm not sure what I will do with them.  I find the basic images on the web and draw them onto the canvas with a sharpie. 

[From Craig]  How did I manage to get all the way to retirement age without ever having owned or used a creeper? 

Actually, I was a bit proud of this achievement, but it is no more.  Our leveling jacks needed maintenance, and it went a lot easier with a creeper. I cleaned the inside column of the jacks with brake cleaner, then greased them.  I should probably go under again and wipe most of the grease off, so that it doesn't accumulate lots of dirt.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me

I've never really put a lot of importance on Birthdays.  Especially my own. But today was my 67th. and Craig brought me the appropriate items for celebration.


A cake:

And a bottle of BlackBerry Brandy:

We went to see Ender's game on Friday.  Wonderful movie!

I think I'm a bit buzzed from he Blackberry Brandy, so it's just Good night All. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Organizing the Basement

I spent a couple of days this week getting some of Craig's things organized in the basement of the Alfa.  When we started putting things into it, I gave Craig a couple of big bins that I had used for storing art materials. I told him they were probably not the right size and shape, and that he should think about what he wanted.

Plastic bins were not high on Craig's list of things he wanted to think about. When it comes to tools he has always had the "leave it on the workbench" philosophy.  His usual way of finding what he needs is to ask me to look for it.  He has gotten better over the years as I became more and more reluctant to be his "gofer", but his first words about almost any project are: "Merikay, please go get the ..."

The other day he said the two bins he was using had too many things in them and could I move some of it to another container.

Aha!  I knew if I imposed some sort of system on him he would ignore it, but since he asked I went right to work.

First I measured the space I wanted to use and the existing boxes in it.  Then I went out to shop, stopping at Home Depot, The Container Store, Walmart, and Staples.  I found I had several options.  The best was from Staples.  Several same sized, handled,  stackable, click-close bins available in different colors.

I bought them and spent Monday sorting things out.

Three of these stacked up takes the same amount of floor space as one of the larger ones.  

The empty larger ones are still behind these, or in the other bay, along with a couple of other empty smaller colored ones. Hopefully he will be able to put things back into the correct container.  I have also made notes of what each color contains, so when he asks me where something is I can tell him to look in the designated color bin. We will see how long this lasts!

I have also reorganized a couple of the kitchen cabinets this week. Amazing how a little organization can yield more room and easier access!

Can you tell I have too much time on my hands?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Why Camp Driveway has been a good thing

We have been living full-time in the Alfa for almost three months now. Some of that time has been out on the road, and some of it has been here at Camp Driveway in the forest at the top of our property.

It is one thing to "dream" about living full time in an RV while still living in a large home, and quite another to actually live in the RV. Although I didn't plan on this "test" time, I'm glad we are going through it.  

When we came back from our last trip, there were only a couple of things that I brought up from the house that I had not transferred to the Alfa before we went.  One was a couple of slotted and serving spoons and a cooking pot lid that fit a particular pot that had not come with one.  Craig is still adding tools.  We know we will fit in a ladder, and bringing our bikes along is a question we have not yet addressed. The interior is pretty well organized, but the large basement bay still needs work.  I had several sturdy bins I had used to store furs and fabric, and we have been using them in the bays, but they are not quite the right size and feel like they waste some space.  I wanted to wait until Craig had brought up most of what he wants before I go out and get different bins.  This is the sort of job I really enjoy: packing things to fit a space!

I think we have come to the point where we need none of the stuff that is still in the house. We are in limbo on getting rid of more stuff right now.  Everything is either part of the staging or packed away in closets or the garage. When the house sells we will have the motivation to make a clean sweep.

I will say there are a couple of things I will miss. One is my Electrolux double oven, and the other is the rotisserie on the large Weber grill we have on the deck.  

 The Alfa has both a combination microwave-convection oven and an LP oven.  Craig uses the LP oven frequently to bake his frozen rolls and frozen French tarts that he eats for breakfasts.  It is hard to get up to temperature and is very small. I have nothing against convection cooking.  My Electrolux was a convection oven, but I just treated it like a regular oven with excellent results. 

I just haven't really explored the convection feature yet.  

I really like to make roast chickens on the Weber rotisserie because I almost always get three or four meals out of one large chicken.  I do not like the rotisserie chickens sold at groceries, Costco, or Walmart.  They are usually small, and because they have been brined have a higher salt content.  Tasty, easy, but not healthy. I'm sure once we are on the road I will learn how to do a whole roast chicken.

I am quite surprised that I don't mind hand-washing the dishes. They seem to get much cleaner than in a dishwasher, and washing up after dinner doesn't seem to take as long as it did to empty the dishwasher, rinse and load it, and then do the pots and pans.  I am cooking most of the same things that I did in the house.

Because we are being careful about filling up the tanks, I have been practicing low-water-use dish washing by wiping dishes off with paper towels, rather than rinsing them, and dumping the dish water down the hill outside instead of pouring it down the drain. 

We have also been taking showers and doing the wash at the house. We are not quite used to having only one potty, so some mornings I walk down the hill to the house for a bit of private time.  I've done this at campgrounds too; it is not a real problem.

We will be going down to town to dump the tanks every seven days. They don't get completely full, but we don't want to risk sloshing on the steep hills we need to go up and down to get out of our property. If we had access to a shower house, and if Craig would be willing to use it instead of the shower in the Alfa, I think we could do ten days at a power-only campground.  This is good to know, because many State and National park campgrounds do not have water or sewer hookups.

As the weather gets colder in the evening, I find I am cuddling in the bed and reading or watching Netflix more often. It's warm and comfortable. It's getting too chilly to sit outside. We have spent the last twenty or so years of winter evenings sitting in front of a cozy fireplace in our comfy chairs.  I will miss that a bit, but not my daily chore of cleaning up the hearth and floor.

All in all, I am so ready to leave this place and set out on our full time adventure.  

My emotions fluctuate between hope and despair about the house selling for a reasonable price in a reasonable time.  We have lowered the price, but there has still been very few showings.  But every time I go down there and walk thru I think: "What a wonderful house this is." 

We leave for a month in San Diego soon. It sure would be a great holiday gift if we got an offer while we were gone.  Then we could come home in January, clear it out and be on our way.  

It will happen, it's just a question of the right buyer coming to see it.

 (Note to robbers: there is nothing in the house worth taking.)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Another way to install sliding drawers in a tight spot.

For those of you who are interested in putting in sliding shelves or drawers in a hard to use cabinet, here is another way of doing it:

Debbie included this URL in her comment on my last post.  They used hardware she found at Lowes.  Looks like it worked perfectly for them. 

 If anyone else has done something like this I'd be happy to pass on the information in a post.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Shelf Improvement

No, I didn't make a typing error, this post is really about shelf improvement, not self improvement.

We've had the Alfa for two years, and have lived in her for over three months. I have to say that there are very few things I would want to change. But nothing is perfect.

This is my wonderful kitchen area. I like having the windows behind the sink and stove.  It gives me lots of light and I can look out while I am cooking or washing up.

On the other side of the coach is a cabinet that has three humongous drawers and two big shelves. Great accessible storage for canned goods,  snacks and miscellaneous cooking tools. I keep small hand tools like spatulas and wooden spoons in the drawers by the sink.  

The less-than-perfect cupboard was the one to the lower left of the sink.
The bottom shelf is deep and narrow. I had to go down on my hands and knees to get anything from the back of it. With the bottom of the sink taking up part of the upper space, it was not good for tall bulky items.

I asked Craig if he could make some slide-out shelves for it. Last week we went out and looked at existing hardware and pre-made shelving. Of course nothing was quite right.

When we got back, Craig searched the Web and came up with a company in Arizona that made custom size pull out shelves for a quite reasonable cost.  It is called Shelves That Slide. They have several standard sizes for depth, but the width is cut to your measurements.  We ordered two and they arrived within a week.

The company has locations in Arizona and Nevada. They will also install the shelves for you for a reasonable cost.  

Craig said he ordered the wrong type of hardware, but with a little modification it worked just fine.

I wasn't thinking when I made my counter-top holder for oils and balsamic vinegar. They really should be kept in a cool dark cabinet, not on a sunny counter. Now they are, and are still quite available when I'm cooking. The needlepoint holder will keep them in place when we are moving. 

Another plus is that this shifts just a little of the weight to the right side of the coach. The Alfa seems to be left side heavy because that is where her slides and closets are. 

Every little bit of weight balance can help.

So, that's the news from Camp Driveway, where the squirrels have fluffy tails and the bucks are following the does around waiting for the right moment.