So much to do…

I’m so enjoying my 3rd month in San Felipe, and I couldn’t be more pleased with where I’m staying, Campo San Felipe. Right off the beach, 50 amp service, really fast Wifi (at least where I’m parked), room to extend my slides, plenty of interesting neighbors to talk to, excellent services, and on and on.

So this post, we’ll take another tour around San Felipe on a nice sunny January day, so you’ll see why I’m liking it so much here…

This is main street. Runs parallel to the ocean. The walkway on the right is the malecon. It’s a strolling walkway fronting the ocean beaches. Every oceanside Mexican city has one as all the beaches in Mexico are considered public so business must provide access. That’s the reason cities and villages build the malecon, to take advantage of the oceanside space for their citizens. The buildings on the right in the foreground are public.

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Just a bit of news…

My last post, mentioned that the DirecTv wasn’t working…

and I had that weirdness on my online DTV account info, which keeps showing my old cancelled VISA card number as my primary method on autopay. I’ve changed it 3 times now since November and it keeps popping back up. A gal from accounting on their chat channel actually told me that yes, they did use my old card number to pay my bill, and yes, it was paid? WTF? How can their system and accounting techs be that screwed up? The card was cancelled in November, by Chase, I’m pretty sure they know how to cancel their own card. But here in February DTV accounting is telling me that they used that number to pay my bill?

But, when I’d check my NEW VISA card statement at my bank, it showed a DTV charge every month on the 27th since November. Huh.

Anyway, despite that issue, which made me think my DTV was actually shut off when it wasn’t, meant I didn’t have any DTV since December 31st I assume as it was the last date that showed up on screen when I’d press ‘Guide’. Here it was February 2nd and still no DTV. I had followed all the instructions a 775 error on screen was showing me several times to try and fix to no avail. I chatted with a couple service techs and had them change my service address from Thermal, CA to border towns El Centro than Yuma to see it that would jog it back to working but no luck there either. I hung around the pool, lounging and soaking up the sun, that didn’t work either.

Than yesterday, I was at poolside and mentioned my DTV problem to one of my fellow RVers here at the park and he said something, I don’t even remember what, and suddenly, a lightbulb went off and I remembered that I have a spare SWiM box! That’s the device that supplies power to the self aligning satellite dish on my roof, (that assembly is made by Winegard), the SWiM device is supplied by DTV. It both supplies power and passes the satellite signal onto the DTV receiver. I also still have the older coax cables and the splitter, also supplied by DTV, that came with my RV.

The 775 error display on screen always said that the receiver couldn’t communicate with the satellite dish…and here I could replace those parts required to do that! Great! Of course I immediately ran into the RV, installed the old SWiM box, the splitter, and the cables in place of the new parts and crossed my fingers. Than waited 10 minutes as the dish was extended, searched and found the satellites, peaked the signals, and finally it displayed a picture! Yea! I’m back with working satellite TV. But damn, the parts I replaced are brand new, I’d just received them from DTV in November. I’m sure glad I decided to hang onto those older parts.

However, shortly after that I remembered all those power outages that had happened here at the RV park. Most of them due to overvoltage. And putting two and two together, I’m now pretty certain that the SWiM box failure was due to one too many power glitches. Happily, it’s all back to normal now and I’ll be able to watch the SuperBowl at home!


My DTV issue isn’t the only reason I’m posting though…for those of you that like my RV repair section, I’ve completed a new section titled, Step Well Cover.

It’s an article about my defective (now repaired) step cover…check it out! There are several pictures and I understand that different years and models of Winnebago (and likely other brands of RVs) used this same system. It’s an air operated cover. It’s kinda cool when it’s working. Click the link here to read the story: Step Well Cover…

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More From San Felipe…

Well, the Seahawks got knocked out of the running…so my team isn’t going to the Super Bowl this year. That’s a pity. But there are other things to do around here rather than getting all pent up over that. My DirecTv stopped working. That’s something to freak out about since it’s costing me $74/month. Still not sure what the problem is but I did notice that my online statement shows the credit card they used for the last payment was canceled back in November. Hmm. So I went to their online ‘chat’ and the gal confirmed I am paid up…and that they used the canceled card. Curious. Something else to work on.

Meanwhile, the electrical issues I was having with the parks power dropping out or getting too high seem to have resolved themselves. I’m not getting near as many power drops as previously. And it’s 50 amp power so when I need AC, I can use mine. And the place I’m parked, since it’s directly across the roadway from where the modem is, gets a damn good WiFi signal…so I’m staying here in San Felipe, at this RV park. Maybe until March first or so when it’ll likely start getting too hot to be comfortable.


One Saturday morning, drove out the 7 miles or so to the El Dorado Ranch…which has a flea market from 7AM to 10AM. I wanted to get b-fast but the taco truck I had in mind to eat at wasn’t open.

Went walking around the market and stopped at another taco stand that had a fairly limited menu, but I went ahead and had this tasty taco. They did have radishes, chopped veggies, fresh salsa so I piled it on.

Tasted very good. Fresh condiments, fresh salsa, etc. After finishing, I walk back up and ask to pay, the guys says, $80 peso…I thought. So I handed that little gal there on the right two $50 peso notes. She gave a quizzical look but turned back to make change. Her dad stopped her and she returned and handed me one of the $50’s. I asked him again, and he says it’s $18 peso, not $80. OH! Yeah, that makes a difference. $80 peso is $4 US. But $18 p is only $0.90 US. So 90 cents for a fresh breakfast. Not bad. 

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Visit to South Beach…

Bumped into a friend in the coffee shop across the street from where I’m staying. I knew him from my stay at Kiki’s. Turns out he’s moved out to South Beach. Has a big deserted beach, a little store nearby, he said, and the potential for a bar with big screen TVs to watch the NFL games. Talked it up quite a bit so I decided, a few days later, to take a trip out there the 12 miles or so to check it out. I’m going to stop along the highway and take some pictures of the numerous developments that are along the coast here in San Felipe. Remember this town is very close to the US, has several ‘Baja’ cross country races in several styles of off-road vehicles every year so has a boom or bust economy. When the US economy is booming, they come down here in droves and the speculators pour billions into properties. Than something happens, like 8 human heads found in front of the police station in Acapulco, and people stop coming. Leaving the condos unsold and the infrastructure unfunded by those taxes from the buildings…after the city paid to pave the road out there. So in a lot of ways, what I’m seeing here now, is only half the San Felipe story. I’ll keep coming here in future years to see what a ‘boom’ is like.

Anyway, a couple miles from my RV park is this Pemex gas station. It’s on the highway out to South Beach, parallels the ocean shoreline mostly. And we’re going to take a ride on it…dodging potholes, and stopping at a working near seaside developement or three for pictures. Note the shape the road is in.

Just a random shot just after a big roadside sign advertising a NEW IMPROVED condo site BUY TODAY that never got built.

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Stuff to do…

The Wifi here at Campo San Felipe was much, much better than at Kiki’s but there still were glitches. And the big one was my big RV blocking the signal from the people back from where I’m parked. There’s a small building shown below across the entrance road from my spot where they had recently moved the Modem/Access Point and they started getting complaints as soon as the big RV next to my spot moved in a week before I arrived. And then I moved in blocking even more of the signal so many back further from the building weren’t getting a usable signal at all. I’d mentioned a couple days after I’d moved here that the Wifi wasn’t that great and if they needed some help with it I’d be willing and more than able. So we talked about their system and the groundskeeper keeps telling me he’s got a plan to put a repeater out in the yard on top of the new building so everyone will get a better signal. I made an assumption that they’d bought the right kind of equipment. Didn’t get a request to help so since I was getting a pretty good signal, I didn’t think much about it. Heard some rumblings about poor Wifi around the park though.

And then a couple days ago I see 3-4 guys over near where I heard the new Wifi antenna was going to go, and they’re kind of ganging up on the groundskeeper about the Wifi being weak and all. I was over there listening for a bit and try to straighten out the misconceptions about Wifi and then offer to get the repeater all set up. The groundskeeper guy was really relieved and handed me the box and all the paperwork.

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More from San Felipe…

I’d initially stayed free at Kiki’s for 12 days, than I paid for 3 additional days, meanwhile, I had asked around the camp to see if anyone had a suggestion for a park with better Wifi. And sure enough, I got a lead on a camp just south of the malecon. I went and visited and it’s just right for me. And they had a space big enough for my RV with the slides out, along with 50 amp service. It’s being remodeled so most everything is new. Wifi checked out too. So I reserved a spot and moved in the next day. And now, I have been here 8 days at Campo San Felipe, enjoying my stay, especially the fast WiFi that allowed using Netflix, when the situation changed. I had figured on only staying a week to 10 days here and then head on over to Ensanada. But that’s not what happened…

What happened was that the Mexican government sold their Pemex stations to private operators. This was to satisfy provisions of NAFTA. Thing is, the government had been artificially keeping the fuel prices low, below Mexico’s costs of production and distribution. And it had been that way for years. Plus they often have to buy gas from the US to keep up with demand and had been subsidizing that too. The citizens of Mexico strongly objected to the coming increases in fuel prices and started protesting. Soon there were shortages all over Mexico from hoarding, and thousands of stations ran out of fuel. Others were blocked by protesters, many were vandalized causing closures.

And that’s why I went ahead and paid for a full month here. With good WiFi, 50 amp service, and a beautiful RV park and surroundings, I didn’t really give up anything other than my wanderlust. Even then, I can wait for the fuel crisis to blow over and leave later. End of January when my monthly rent terminates would be a fine time.

Here in San Felipe, I’m told there was a small march through town protesting the higher fuel prices, and once I saw a truck load of marines hanging out at a Pemex, but that’s all that happened. Of course, all the stations in town ended up without any fuel but that lasted just a few days. I’m told by ex-pats living here that they will have fuel again today, and there’s not going to be any lines the day after. So, my plan to wait it out, worked. I still have 1/2 tank of gas in my car. And 3/4 tank in my RV. I could make it up to the border in the RV easy enough on that amount if the shortage drags on too long or returns.

And here’s a few more shots of the Campo San Felipe campground…the weather has been a bit chilly this year but the sun does come out from under the clouds on a regular basis.

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Enjoying Mexico…

Surprisingly chilly here in San Felipe since I arrived on Dec. 13th. Midday is nice and warm, and mostly sunny, but the mornings and evenings when I’m out and about can be downright cold. But when I consider what my friends up in Portland are enduring right now, I’m happy to be here and not up there.

Now that I have a car, it’s fun to drive around and explore the San Felipe area. I hope these pictures will give you a sense of how the people here live and work.

This is a very sandy valley. Many of the roads are not paved. There are street lights on this dusty neighborhood street though.

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On into Mexico…

My stay at the Salton Sea was great, I liked having the cement parking spot for my RV at Oasis Palms RV Resort. Allowed for crawling around under the RV and spraying the entire undercarriage with Jasco Rust Preventer, using my wheeled creeper. Much better to work under there on a cement slab and easier too using the creeper as I could just quickly roll around checking things. Most RV parks have a slab next to the RV as a patio and usually add a picnic table for visitors use but this park has the opposite. Park the rig on cement, enjoy your grass patio. Worked out well for me as I needed to treat the rust on the undercarriage, needed to get familiar with what’s under there for future reference, and finally, I used the opportunity to plug the drain for the fresh water tank. It has a drip-drip-drip leak that slowly drains the fresh water tank. It’s used when winterizing the RV. Since the drain is right in the middle of the undercarriage, the cement pad made it much easier to get to, and more comfortable to do the work of plugging it (I used a commercial 1 & 1/2″ expanding rubber plug).

With basically everything done that needed to be done, it was time to head to Mexico. I’d stayed here at Oasis Palms for 2 weeks. Used my PPA card so I only paid $160/week, $80/week less than their normal rate. The manager groused a bit about the 2nd week, saying they normally only do the PPA for six days per year, but I’d already made out the check (I anticipated his objection) and the park was less than half full so he allowed it.

All ready to go the next morning.

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Tour Around the Salton Sea…

This is the 2nd time I’ve visited the Salton Sea area, but during the first visit I didn’t have a car so I could not easily tour. This time with the car, I decided to just circumnavigate the sea and have a look. On the side I am staying on, the west side, there’s not much of the sea to see. I’d already visited the small housing developments of Desert Shores and Salton Sea Beach along the seashore that exist nearby where I was staying and they are certainly showing their ages. Even at those places there were scant opportunities to actually get anywhere near the sea. There’s really not a lot of access to it. No obvious public beaches or boat ramps that I could find. I did find some man made canals running a hundred yards from the sea inland, but their purpose escaped me. No fishing boats in them. They didn’t smell all that pleasant either. I did see some governmental environmental research buildings on one of those canals but they seemed long abandoned.

Here’s a history of the Salton Sea that helps understand it’s recent history. Worth the read. It’s the result of a human engineering accident back in 1905 which went on for two years and was considered a catastrophe back when it happened.

This is a Public Domain photo I found on Wikipedia that shows how nice the sea can be at times.

salton_sea_reflection-resized

Anyway, I drove north 7 miles from the RV park, then crossed over to the east side of the sea, then continued down the east side for 35 odd miles, then back up the west side back to home base. Stopping occasionally along the way. So a 2-3 hour adventure.

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At the Salton Sea…

I am enjoying this area quite a bit…mostly because of the fine weather. Warm days, cool but not cold nights. And we’ve had a rain storm or two come through. I’ve gotten some work done on my RV too, here’s a link to the latest project, restringing of two Day/Nite Shades. They were in the living room and took me much longer than they should have, for a couple reasons. The article about those specific shades are below that older article of the bedroom shade I had to restring. So scroll down, or better yet, read both articles as they relate.

I also spent half a day visiting three hardware stores trying to find a 1 & 1/2″ plug for the fresh water drain. My Winnie has a drip-drip-drip from a PVC pipe in the middle of the undercarriage that slowly depletes my freshwater tank. It’s a drain that this RV has a slide valve for, used when winterizing the RV. Pull the handle, the slide valve opens, and drains the tank. Except when you close it, it’s suppose to seal. Doesn’t work very good at that. And rather than trying to find and repair whatever is wrong with that slide valve, I’ve just plugged the outlet for now. Had to drive for several miles to find the right sized plug. True value was out, Home Depot didn’t have that size, ended up at a regular plumbing supply house where I finally found the right part. Like I said, took half a day.

After I’d been here a week, I was enjoying myself here enough that I decided to stay another week. No particular reason, I just like it here. This is the area where the Coachella Concert is held each year. My brother Dan used to come down and camp in a tent every year to enjoy the concert but he’s stopped coming because he says the music has gotten too mainstream, with too much hip hop type music. He really goes for off-the-wall style music though. Stuff I can’t stand to listen to.

A couple days ago, I remembered my camera and just cruised around the area near where I’m staying for a look/see. This is the view from the end of the street I’m on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA And up the road a bit is this little store. They really need to dust in there. Not a very pleasant shopping expirience. They have a little tiny Mexican style cafe in there too. If it wasn’t filthy all over the store, I might have tried eating there.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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