Let’s go boating…

I had become friends with several RV’ers here in San Felipe, and it turned out that my new friend had a boat. I was all enthused about the possiblility of getting to sail a bit here in Mexico so offered what little expertize I had to assist. Steve, the owner, already had a plan, but welcomed the help. First he had to run up north and visit family for a while, afterwards, he and I could try to get his boat in the water.

After he got back, things went quickly. He and I drove over to the Yacht club’s man made harbor and scoped it out, he rented a space for his boat, and hired a mechanic to work on the bearings on the trailer. But he discovered that the antenna he’d just installed was missing.

I had seen it from my upper story palapa during the time he was gone visiting his family up near Stockton, so we knew it was up there at one time, but had no idea where it had run off too. He’d installed it a few weeks before after he’d bought a newer ship to shore radio. Required a new antenna. He’d strung new coax and thought he’d gotten everything tight the way it was suppose to be but, apparently, he’d only finger tightened the lock nut. We’d had a minor windstorm while he was away that I mentioned in my last blog post and the mast (it was on top of the mast) was up, it had whipped back and forth enough that the antenna was thrown out of it’s connector and ended up on the ground. Near his boat, on his rental property.

His neighbor spotted it one day, and took it with him to whack dogs that attack when you’re riding your bike somewhere. And one did attack. He attempted to whack it, and the antenna was lost, slipping out of his hand during the attack. So, no antenna. Steve and I went downtown looking around and I suggested a stainless steel rod. We couldn’t find that, but Steve found a brass rod that would do the trick so later that day, we lowered the mast, and installed the antenna. The mast had to be lowered anyway to get the boat out of the RV park since there were some electrical wires crossing the entrance/exit.


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More from San Felipe…

Visiting a Mexican village is always interesting. There’s so much that’s different down here compared to the US. Lax building codes for one thing. Slow customer service for another…”We’ll be back to finish mañana señor” but don’t show up for 2-3 days. But, we always say, “Ahh, Mexican time”. And don’t worry about it.

Here’s the gang hanging out having a brew. Notice everyone is wearing long sleeved shirts. It’s sunny, but the temps have been pretty low for quite a while. Gets electric heater cold at night.


When Sunday rolls around, I take the taxi over to Fatboys to watch the game and have their free with the purchase of two drinks breakfast. Very good huevo and chorizo enchilada with refried beans on the side. Yumm. Even comes with a small bit of shredded lettuce with tomato bits. And I can wait until just before I leave to have my two drinks. Pina Colada. At around 1 pm, just after the Seahawks game. And here’s what the bar looks like at 9:30 AM. I wanted a good seat. They get a big crowd so the staff is back helping in the kitchen.


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Enjoying San Felipe…

There are many things I like about Mexico…the weather is certainly up there as far as preferences go, the people are very nice, the mechanics are very competent, and the costs are low. As much as 1/3 to 1/2 less than what similar items would cost in the US. Or Canada. You might have read that Mexico’s fuel price has soared recently, but even though it is more expensive, right now $3/gallon, the fact that your overall expense for a trip here is lower makes up for that. And at this moment, the exchange rate of the dollar to the peso is $18 to $1. So for every US dollar I use to pull money out of a Mexican ATM, I get nearly $18 pesos. When I first visited Mexico, it was $10/$1.

I’ve been in San Felipe on the eastern Baja California coast now for weeks and I’m pretty comfortable. It’s January and Xmas and New Years have come and gone uneventfully.  Meanwhile, I’m having some of those great Mexican workers do stuff to my RV. Getting my front brake pads replaced and the rotors turned (it is time). Then getting some chipping paint repainted.

One highlight of San Felipe is the sports bars we have here in town. It costs me under $3 for a taxi downtown (including tip) and I’ve used them numerous times to go watch football. Seahawks ended up getting bashed by the Panthers in the semifinals though. It was 31 to 0 after the first half. Hawks came back to within 7 points and held the Panthers to zero points the 2nd but ran out of time. Damn. No Super Bowl this year for the Hawks. But they did play poorly the first 9 games of the season. Didn’t deserve to go back this year…if they had, it would have been sheer luck.

We did have a storm or two here in San Felipe. But the two rain storms happened only while I was sleeping, and then there was one during the day but I was busy inside and didn’t really notice until it was almost over. And then we had a wind storm or two.

Out there on the ocean, straight out from the RV park, there are several local fishing boats that just sort of anchor there for days at a time.


Here’s what the distant coast looked like for several days. Couldn’t really see much of anything there. On a clear day, there’s a whole host of stuff to look at.


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Inside Mexico…

In the week I’d been in El Centro, California, I’d had to deal with the leaking tire, getting to the football game at a sports bar, and my decision to replace the toilet. Yeah, after 22 years and a couple repairs, it was time to dump the old thing. I hadn’t done anything about it until now as it was sort of working. And wasn’t leaking. Here in El Centro, I pulled it because of the weird way the flush pedal was acting. Sort of stiff like, requiring much more force to activate than usual. And when I removed it this time, it was obvious that I would not be able to repair it without a workshop. See ‘Toilet Repair‘ for the story.

Because the toilet manufacturer is a loon (Thetford), with both documents and phone techs telling me there is an ‘exact’ replacement, which was actually 6 inches taller than my old toilet, I had to delay my departure to Mexico one day while I figured out which one I really needed, ordered it and waited for that better substitute to arrive. Even that was fraught with peril as UPS delivered it to the wrong space #7. They hadn’t bothered to check the actual address of the park I was staying at. If they had, they’d have known where my spot was and not taken it to the wrong address. They got the #7 right though. I only had to walk over and grab it before someone pilfered it after I’d figured out what had happened.

I did take the time to drive to Home Depot to get a part for the toilet plumbing and on that trip I also went south towards the border to Calexico to buy pesos. There’s always exchange booths on either side of the border but I want to get mine early. That trip also gave me the opportunity to get familiar with the road to the border, parking, number of lanes, etc.  While I was out, I drove around El Centro a bit just to look around. Passed through the old downtown on my way back to the RV park. Kind of neat looking…but it was deserted. Lots of closed and boarded up business.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Has the town’s entrance arch there in the distance. Many Mexican towns have that still. The reason they were invented was because of crime. The entire town would be surrounded by a wall to keep out banditos and a gate attached to that arch actually closed so the town was protected. Probably no wall was ever here at El Centro, but the pioneer townspeople liked the welcome arch so up it went. Many small Mexican towns still have the arch and remnants of the walls. Some arches are so narrow and short I won’t drive my RV through them. And villages with small arches often have such narrow streets that I’d probably get stuck.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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On to El Centro, California…

I spent a week in Oasis, Thanksgiving week, as I prefer to not travel during holiday weeks. It’s such a hassle with the traffic and the last minute RVers who suddenly decide to invade a RV park leaving no spots available for us full timers. I learned this was a problem in the first two years I was traveling. You need to plan in advance of a holiday and get your ass parked before the crowds flock to the parks.  Now, depending on how popular the area I’m staying at is for particular holidays, I’ll get to where I want to be a week or two in advance. Sometimes a month in advance. This gives me squatters rights at a RV park and also time to scout the area for other RV parks that might have better accommodations, or are closer to services and stores. And I especially look for parks that are closer to sports pubs. So I can watch my favorite teams on a big screen, or with other fans.

Although there are online resources like rating systems for RV parks, they never tell you everything you’d like know and there’s no substitute for actually parking there for a few days. If it’s not a holiday week, usually I’ll pay for 1-3 days, depending on what my research has shown about the park and area. If it turns out good, I’ll roll that over to a week stay. Some parks will not allow that, so I don’t get the weekly discount that I would have if I’d just initially sprung for the weekly rate, but staying at a bad park is much worse then paying more than you’d like for those days.

Make no mistake…many parks flat out lie about their features. Both online, and over the phone. Even attempting to baffle you with bullshit when you call them on their inaccuracies. This is the main reason I so seldom call for reservations. I’m not going to fork over money to someone for what may turn out to be wholly inadequate accommodations. Luckily, many parks allow you to reserve a spot without taking your CC info though. Others have really strict rules about it and sometimes suggest on their web sites that they require reservations. BS usually. I just show up. I think I’ve been turned away 3-4 times in 12 years.

So, you’re protecting yourself when you only pay for 1-3 nights to begin with then roll over to the weekly after deciding it’s an OK park. I’ve read so many hilarious accounts of people who failed to check out a place, paying for a week or month to save money, only to discover the park did not meet their expectations, then ranted and raved about the park refusing to give refunds. I try to avoid that unpleasantness. It does cost a bit more over the long run but not enough to be a concern.  My spreadsheet shows I’ve been averaging $332/month over the last 12 years for RV parking spaces. I’ve spent the majority of my time in what would be called 2nd tier RV parks which tend to be less expensive, but doing so has given me the funds to occasionally splurge on fancy, expensive parks. One problem with expensive parks that annoys me to no end is that they often can afford to pay some outside company to completely control their WiFi system. And generally, it doesn’t work worth a damn. And complaining to staff brings up the oft repeated, “We don’t handle the WiFi here so we can’t do anything”, or my favorite dodge, “It’s slow when too many people are all online at the same time”, and you’re in  a nearly empty park. Gah!

So here are two examples within two weeks. I called the Oasis RV park before leaving Rosamond and found that they ‘knew’ they had a very good WiFi signal. So when I arrived at the park, the guy was kind enough to rung Speedtest.net on his office computer and show me the results. As a result, I spent a week with them over T-Day holiday. Turned out they handled their own WiFi and it was blazing fast. Like cable fast. I really enjoyed the video streaming I was able to do, but the park was soooo far from anything. So I moved on, headed south to El Centro.

First though, on my travel day, Dec. 1st, I thought I’d try to visit the Salton Sea. But I’d checked the air pressure in all my tires that morning and there was one that was 40 PSI low. See the tire story here: Tire Low Dec. 2015.

Crap. It’s the inner dually on the driver’s side. My destination of El Centro is only 1 & 1/2 hours away so I took my time on the road since you can limp along with one of the dual tires a little low. Gotta be careful and keep your speed down though. Meanwhile, I wanted a few pics of the Salton Sea so tried to drive over there just across the freeway from the RV park. Turns out the road is private and this is as close as I could get.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Here’s a look at how dry and desert like it is here in this below sea level valley.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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On the way to Mexico…

On Nov. 24th, I left my brothers house in Rosamond, and headed south towards Mexico. I initially thought I’d stop in Parker, Arizona for a few days along the Colorado, but a quick check of the weather showed that it was a little bit too hot, and all that’s really there is a casino. So I decided to head towards the Salton Sea and stay at a PPA half price RV park where they had assured me the WiFi was very fast.

It’s not a very long trip, four hours if you miss traffic. I skirt alongside East LA, than drift southeast using I-10.

Here’s where I park my RV while I’m staying at Brennan’s place…in his front yard, which is the yard next to my brothers house. Across the street neighbors are friendly and don’t complain about RV’s parked in yards. So that’s good. You can see how steep the road is, that’s why I don’t park on it.


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I’d been at Dan’s place a couple days, (well, actually, I park my RV in the front yard of his neighbor, Brennan), when I asked Brennan if he’d like to go sailing. He’s become something of a friend and he and I hang out quite often. He lets me plug my RV into a 20 amp circuit so I can come down from Dan’s house, make coffee, and surf the internet on my own computer.

Anyway, soon after I got there, I suggested Brennan and I should go sailing again. He was all for the idea so…here we go…

Here’s where our rental boat hides out close to Marina del Rey in LA.  There are thousands of these boats all along the coast. Costs a fortune to park them here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I like those round buildings.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA And here’s our rental boat. Cost $200 for the day. So, $100 apiece. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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On to Rosamond…

Arrived in Red Bluff, Wednesday, Oct. 28th. There was to be an Oregon Ducks game on Thursday the 29th. I’d asked the park manager and thanks to him knew there is an Applebee’s nearby (and no other ‘sports’ bars within bike riding distance) so called them and discovered that yeah, they did have the channel the Ducks game was on, and yes, I could watch it in peace. Next evening, at 7 pm I call the local taxi, decided not to bike ride since it was a late game, and take a $5 + tip ride over and the gal I’d talked to remembered talking to me and set their main, giant bar TV on the game. And what a game. They played Arizona State, at Tempe, and the game went into triple overtime. Wow. Ducks won, 61-55. Hell of a game. Have to say, the staff at Applebee’s really bent over backwards to accommodate my interest in the game and I ended up the only one left in the place, along with the manager, because the game ran on so long. The manager actually kept the place open just for me after it had emptied out. I did have dinner there earlier, and I left a big tip, $20 just for the bartender. She had kept my game on the main TV instead of switching to the NFL game and making me move to a smaller TV. Very nice of her. Often in bars I have to fight to even watch an entire game.

Very nice weather here in Red Bluff. I did ride my bike the one mile to downtown a couple times and found a nice and just opened coffee shop with mocas, and what looked like great food…but no WiFi yet. Right across the street from the county courthouse. Pleasant restaurant in a pleasant town. But I could imagine how hot it would be during summer.


While in Red BluffI was waiting for my new meds from the VA pharmacy. The VA has no mechanisms in place to deal with wanderers like myself. People without homes, who perhaps wander around the country in their RVs nearly full time. As though they would rather the homeless dropped off the rolls. As a matter of fact, from my observations of the way clinics and the web site operate, that seems to be exactly what they’re trying to do. It appears to be a purposeful hassle on their part when you need or want to change clinics, or to receive meds. Even though they have an extensive online presence that could easily adjust for changes if they wanted to set it up that way. They also have a database in place so every VA clinic and hospital in the US has my records. But each one would make me fill out the entire application again, and give my ‘local address’. I can’t use a temporary address, or my address back in Gresham just for an office visit…I have to be a local resident. All I want to do is, without hassle, to be able to have my meds shipped to an address different than my permanent address, or just walk into a clinic anywhere in the US and get my flu shot after showing them my VA card. Simple with computer databases and online ordering these days, huh? Millions of online and big box retail businesses do it every day. Well, with the VA, you can’t even do those simple things.

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Heading South…after Gold Beach…

I was following the weather fairly closely online and there were several storms heading my way here on the coast of Oregon. I did want to stay longer and have the mechanic I’d found d0 my brakes for me but, he didn’t return my calls, and the weather was closing in. The morning I left Gold Beach didn’t look all that bad though.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo off I went, due south on Highway 101. It looked like this just a few miles south. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I had planned on spending a few days in Brookings, but I wasn’t going to stay there during the type of drenching rainstorms they get, so I just kept going south. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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I’ve spent several hours the last three days trying to make organizational sense out of the “RV Repair Section” of my blog. I have been aware of the poor organization of that section for quite a while and finally decided to do something about it. I finished up a while ago with the major categorizing and think it’s ready to be introduced. This should make it much easier for my readers to navigate around when looking for specific RV repair topics. I do have a little more cleanup to do, but it’s minor stuff.

Check it out by either clicking “RV Repair Section” above in the Banner or just hovering your mouse cursor over it. That will show several categories that you can click on and navigate to a particular Table of Contents page or directly to individual categories.

Or if you don’t like to hover, just click here: RV Repair Section

For those of you who don’t visit this blog for the RV repair info, here’s a picture of “The Dying Gaul”, one of my favorite ancient sculptures…

The Dying GaulAnd here’s a picture I took in PV, Mexico along the malecon back in 2011…



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