Friday, August 31, 2007

Vamos a Mexico!

I knew we were very close to the Mexico border here, but I didn't know there was anything for us to do there until I got an email from one of our newsletter subscribers, Diane. She wrote that they had stayed at Pio Pico in the past and enjoyed visiting the border town of Tecate and touring the brewery. I looked on Google Earth and found that Tecate is only 18 miles away, and the brewery is just on the Mexico side. We had no seminars scheduled today, so, Mexico here we come! Thanx for the tip Diane. It was a pretty drive to get there too. Very mountainous. We saw some cars being searched at the border crossing. We pulled into the designated parking spot and the officer asked us what our plans were. Jim said we were going to the 'cervezeria' (beer garden) and he just waved us right through - looking very thirsty and envious! It was an especially hot day today. The cervezeria was easy to find with these street signs ... check out the first row, second sign from the left ... Unfortunately, they were closed for tours today, but the free, cold beer tasted good in the 'Jardin Cerveza'. Then, we walked around a few blocks to find a place for lunch. We were surprised to find that we were about the only tourists. The last time we visited a Mexico border town (Algodones) there were crowds of tourists. In Tecate, we actually had to remember a little spanish. They still accepted american dollars though! The exchange rate was 10 pesos to 1 dollar. We had an excellent lunch, and even had live entertainment! He might look like he's singing Cielito Lindo, or some other traditional mexican song, but - no - he sang 'Imagine' by John Lennon and 'Stairway to Heaven' by Led Zeppelin! Then we walked around the town square. I really like how town squares are really used in Mexico. We saw at least 3 Internet cafes. That was it, then we went home. Here's the fence on the border here. Crossing the border back into the US was just as easy as getting in. They took a look at our Florida license plate, the kayaks on the roof and our US passports and waved us through. One of these days we'd like to take the motorhome into Mexico and do some exploring. We have the book on RVing in Mexico by Mike and Terri Church with all sorts of information about where to go and what services to expect. Check out their website with logs of their most recent Mexico travels. Buenos Noches! My very first RV trip was in 1962 when my parents packed up their truck camper and left our Anchorage, Alaska home to travel to Guatemala. I took plenty of spanish classes in high school but I think any words I still know are from that 4 month trip when I was 10. Here's a few photos that have survived and been scanned. The first one is on the Alaska highway in January. The next is driving in Mexico - I believe around Queretero. The third is a campground in Mexico city and the last is on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Making a Life, Making a Living

Something came across our inboxes the other day about how most people are so concerned with making a living, that they don't do a very good job at making a life. That's not us! I marvel every day about what a wonderful life we've made. Like now ... It's nice here. The weather has been just perfect. Hot and sunny during the day. We need the air conditioning, but it's not an oppressive heat. Then it cools off at sundown and we open up for the night. We've been going for a nice walk in the morning. UP a hill! Here's a view of the campground from our walk.

We're getting some much needed exercise! Oh ... wait ... gotta ... rest!

We've also taken advantage of the spa in the cool evenings with the full moon coming up over the mountain. aaaaahhhhh

Then, there's our computer seminars. Small groups in our cozy classroom means we get to know each other! We really do have fun.

I spent some time today learning how Google Maps interfaces with Picasa Web Albums and Google Earth. Wow! If you look at our Picasa Web album for this month, you can click on "View Map" over on the left, and you will see thumbnails of the photos attached to the places in the map where they were taken. You can bet that this will be the topic of an upcoming Geeks on Tour Newsletter! Then I spent some time today paying bills and doing miscellaneous bookkeeping. ooooh, bummer. Our expenses for August were $4,600 and our income was $2,200. This month's expenses were unusually high due to traveling across the country, but the numbers are obviously still too far apart. I will always be more interested in 'Making a Life', but there does come a time (as savings dwindle) that 'Making a Living' needs to kick in so we can keep living this wonderful life! We actually do have all the pieces in place. I have every expectation that we will be able to making a living doing what we love - working with Internet connections on the road, and teaching people how to use computers - all while living on the road.

I know some people will be surprised by my sharing such specific numbers. I think it is the RVers' way! I've read several other RV blogs that share their exact budgets. I've appreciated their openness, and want to continue the trend.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Sunny Southern California

We are happily parked at Pio Pico. And, we are open for business! We're giving our seminars here for two weeks. We held our first one on Saturday. Quite a difference from the FMCA - a 3-person audience instead of 500! But, it's nice to be able to handle individual questions. We actually spend more time with the small audience. And, we've had several inquiries already about Internet satellite dishes, and an order for a website! It's fun here too. On Saturday night, we took advantage of the Thousand Trails entertainment. A group called Wild Rose Road Show. Check out their website - complete with video samples of their shows. It was two couples about our age who have just gone fulltiming and are working on the road with their musical act. Great singing, audience participation, and a RV Travel perspective! We hope to run into them again! On Sunday, we took a trip to the coast to visit a friend of Jim's. He and Ron went to high school together in Manahawkin, NJ. The only time they've seen each other since is at the 10 year reunion - 26 years ago! The last time we were in San Diego, Jim tried to look him up, but Ron was commanding a navy ship in the South Pacific somewhere. We were happy to find him, and his wife Ruth both home this time. We had a great dinner - THANX Ron and Ruth! They live just a couple miles in from the Pacific Ocean at Carlsbad, CA. We took a short detour just to see the ocean on this gorgeous day. Today, we're going to the store. It is such a treat to learn that a brand new Trader Joe's just opened only 12 miles away. Oh Boy. We love Trader Joe's. They don't exist in Florida. And, we hope to take a little detour into Mexico while we're here. It's only about 10 miles away. Right in the brochure for the park there are ads for dentists and other services in Mexico!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

200 miles in 6 1/2 hours?!

Little did I know that today's drive would have me looking longingly at yesterday! At least yesterday we were making progress. This may look like uninhabited country, but those 8 lanes of highway aren't for nothin! Apparently, it hasn't rained around here in a very long time. The smog needs a washing desparately. Jim drove thru all this traffic, thinking that might help keep me a little less grumpy. How'd that work out Jim? There was no accident, no construction. This is apparently normal mid-afternoon traffic on I-5 in LA. We averaged 34 mph for over 6 hours! Then, as if we crossed some invisible barrier, shazaam! We were in unhabited countryside again. Just a few more miles to TT Pio Pico. We will find a different route when we head back north in 2 weeks.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Road Weary

Geeez - and I thought Florida was a long state! We've been traveling south in California for 4 days and we still have one day of driving to go! Gas prices have not been as bad as we expected, we paid 2.67 yesterday, but it's still close to $500 for the California portion. I was fine till yesterday. Jim says it's because I drove for a couple hours - I'm only the relief driver - Jim normally drives. I don't think my driving was the problem - it was highway 5 - lots of *nothing* and several stretches of old, broken, pavement. In places it was enough to separate the meat from the bones. Several items that are securely attached to walls just vibrated right off yesterday. The scenery may as well have been a repeating scroll on a movie set! Till we got to the 'grapevine' that goes up to 4,000 feet in the mountains just north of LA. Just look at that smog! We do like the Thousand Trails parks though. Somehow, we've been looking for a grocery store and not finding one for several days. We just keep digging deeper in the pantry to find something to eat. We were down to hot dogs and beans last night, but we had a nice bottle of Cabernet from the winery yesterday! I'm sure glad we have a dog to take us for a walk. If not for Odie, I'd probably just sit in front of the computer all the time. I would have missed this nice hawk - Red-Shouldered Hawk, I think. Ok, back on the road. Only 200 miles to go, then we'll stay at TT Pio Pico for 2 weeks giving our seminars.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wineries, Santa Cruz and Arynne

We had a *full* day yesterday. First, driving from Stockton to Morgan Hill. California is known for it's beautiful golden rolling hills in the summertime (they're green in winter/rainy season), but these look downright brown and dangerously dry. The Thousand Trails campground in Morgan Hill is very close to several wineries so we unhooked as soon as we got parked and headed out. Here's our site: And,here's the first winery, Clos LaChance. Now you're talkin! Can you tell we're having fun? It's just so pretty here. They hold lots of weddings on this property. You can see why. It was sunny and hot today, probably in the 90s, but it gets down in the 60's and high 50s at night. Just what the grapes like! Our reason for coming to this area was to meet my old friend Arynne after work. She lives in Santa Cruz, over the hill down by the ocean. So, after crossing the country, we finally saw the Pacific! It is just so wonderful to be able to visit old friends. One of the best parts of traveling. Here's the entrance to her place. I think this is just the best kind of living situation for a single person. She lives in the cottage (aka grandmother suite, or mother-in-law suite) in the backyard of her good friends in the 'big house'. Here's Arynne with Maggie: Then we had a great dinner at the Crow's Nest right on the beach. We watched the sailboat races as they finished and came into the harbor. Great to see you Arynne! Till next time then. Today is a long drive (300 miles) to the Los Angeles area. We'll be staying at another Thousand Trails park called Soledad Canyon. Then tomorrow we're on to TT Pio Pico just east of San Diego where we'll be giving our seminars for a couple weeks. See our main website at http://www.geeksontour.comfor the exact schedule.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

California's Central Valley

Ahhhh - all cleaned up. It's the little things that really count. Like the mini-blinds. They are impossible to clean. I've tried blowing the dust off, using a feather duster, wrapping a cloth around each of my fingers and painstakingly swiping each section of the blinds. Nothing really works. Then Frankie told me, 'you take them out of the motorhome, then you can use a hose and wash 'em' I think that's the best RVing tip I've ever gotten! I just love clean mini-blinds! Thanx Frankie! We vacuumed and cleaned the car inside and out. When I got in it to drive, I thought I had mistakenly gotten in someone else's car. I even washed the dog! We're ready to get back on the road! We traveled on I-5 down California's great central valley. Here's a view of Sacramento in the distance. We stopped just south of Stockton at a Thousand Trails park called Turtle Beach. It's a small park - only 30 sites. Actually they call it a 'fish camp'. Our site was fine, and the view from the banks of the river at sunset was quite pretty. Today we're going to visit my old friend Arynne in Santa Cruz. We'll be staying at a Thousand Trails park about an hour away in Morgan Hill. Arynne lives in a new place since we visited her last and we want to see! She lives in the guest house - her good friends, Maggie and Jess live in the main house which they built. Remarkably, their house was in a newspaper article just last week.

Monday, August 20, 2007

California and Mount Shasta

We left Crater Lake on a cold (42 degrees) and rainy morning yesterday. But, isn't this a great way to see the lush spruce and hemlock forests around here?! Here's the Rogue river, we're still in Oregon, coming up to I-5. Soon after crossing into California, Mt. Shasta appears. Wow! We're not in Florida anymore! Now we're in Red Bluff, California at the Red Bluff RV Park. We'd heard a lot about this park from Lynne and John. The people who own the park are the ones whose house Lynne and John just built. They said it would be a good place to wash the rig and clean up. So, we're spending an extra night here so we can do just that. After 4100 miles - we sure need it!

Thousand Trails to Crater Lake

After the FMCA convention, we went back to the Thousand Trails park in Bend - Sunriver. Since we had stayed there before the rally, it already felt like 'home', but this time it was even more so. We walked into the cafe and were greeted by name by several of the other guests! They had taken some of our seminars at the rally and we had lots to chat about. Here we are with our new friends: This is a heavily forested park, and we weren't sure we could get lucky twice and find another satellite-friendly site. But we did! We acted like we were 'on vacation' this time. Played a little pickleball, and spent some time soaking in the hot tub. What a beautiful place! Back on the road the next day - only a couple hours to Crater Lake. This is one of those sights that is a 'must-see-before-you-die'! Doncha think? It really does take your breath away. More pictures are on our web album. You have to scroll way down since this album is for the month of August. Our satellite's luck with the trees finally ran out in this campground. But, we figured it was time to have one night without Internet anyway!
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