Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cleaning house

9AM - Cleaning house
Today we are cleaning house! Front to back! Everything that has been hanging-fire for past months is getting the heave-ho!

Yes, we have been procrastinating. Why we have been procrastinating? We do not know the answer to that question! Because all of this stuff that is getting thrown out today has no use for us. One thing that we know for sure. It feels sooooooo good to have made this decision!

And how are we planning to get rid of all of this stuff that we do not need? Well, there is this old guy who has set-up a little junk yard along side the highway. Very close to Panchito's Body Shop. We are going to gather up all of our stuff that we want to dump, and take it over to this little junk yard and see what happens.


11AM - Antonio's Junk Yard
It is very likely that Antonio, the owner of this used goods store, would not describe his roadside stand as a Junk Yard. Here in Mexico, it is a cultural norm never to throw things out that have even an iota of usefulness.

MsTioga drove to Antonio's, and we made introductions. I described that I had things that I did not need anymore, and would like him to look at these things and decide if he could use them.

I put everything outside. Two traveling bags filled with various kinds of things. A HughesNet antenna arm. A popcorn can filled with electronic gear. And a box with copper mine rocks from our days in Santa Rosalia.

Antonio took everything. He could not believe that I was giving it all away for free! But I was. And it made me feel good to give it away, and be done with it.

The blue traveling bag was the one that I used on trips until I inherited David's larger American Tourister travel bag. The orange-black bag I bought during my recent trip to California in order to transport purchased stuff back to Mexico.
Stuff to give away


Antonio's Used Stuff Store

3PM - So squared away!
Everything is sooooooo squared away! You would NOT believe.

We even found a place for the American Tourister Flight Bag which had resided under the dining table since the beginning of 2011. The bag is now in the corner, underneath the clock and behind the living room chair. We never believed that this large bag would fit in the corner before!

82°F
Partly cloudy


Monday, July 30, 2012

Lithium batteries

9AM - Lithium batteries
Reader geysergazers posted in our Forum about buying a Lithium battery [link]. The thing that is so attractive about these new lithium batteries, is that they are so light in weight and delivers 100AH of electric power.

I do not know how to compare our present Crown batteries to the Lithium. Our Crown #CR-225 has a 5 hour rate of 171 Amp Hours. But what does that mean?

Here is a [link] to the manufacturer of the lithium battery that geysergazers is using.


2PM - Dust
It seems that in a blink of an eye, I look around MsTioga, and dust has returned everywhere. It is time to dust again.

As I go about dusting, I see the pics on Tioga's walls. Those pics of my departed loved ones. It occurs to me that those that I loved, also dusted their homes. So much time spent dusting. To what end?

It seems that I know, deep inside my being, that if I ever stop dusting, my own end will be close at hand. I recall when my own Mother stopped taking care of her hair. Only months later, she was gone.

3PM - Back to batteries
In thinking over the whole matter of batteries, it seems that AGM batteries might be the best choice. I do not know why I have not considered AGM batteries in prior years? Lithium batteries are just to new on the scene. And very pricey. Perhaps Lithium should be considered for the future.

Johnson Controls is a big time manufacturer of batteries here in Mexico. Johnson sells AGM batteries especially designed for golf carts. Johnson's brand names, LTH and Optima, are very popular in Mexico.

Right now, although are Crown batteries have been slightly damaged by the abuse of low fluid level, they are still doing a good job. No need to replace at this time.



81°F
Partly cloudy


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Perfect size RV

7AM - Perfect size RV!
If you are a single person thinking about living the RV life, we on the TiogaRV Team believe that a 27 foot long RV like MsTioga is the perfect size RV for you. One foot longer would be too long. One foot shorter would be too short. No slide-out required.

In October, 2007, Little Mavicito [our Team camera back then] made a video titled, "A Tour of MsTioga". We would like to replay that video to show you what our RV home looks like. Maybe you would choose an RV like ours too!


11AM - Rear clearance lights
The other day we picked up the shipment from the USA at the DHL freight station in San Juan del Rio. In that shipment came our five new rear clearance lights.

These are LED type lights. They are 6.5 inches long and about 3/4 inch thick. The plan is to mount them on a plywood base, just like our new cab-over clearance lights. We love the smooth look of the cab-over lights. Not just glommed on. They are blended into the base.
New rear clearance light

3PM - Back to Home Camp!
After a nice midday nap and going shopping at Bodega Aurrera, we returned to the gorgeousness of Home Camp.

The bees have taken to Sweet Flowers like crazy. Bees do not seem to stop the hummers though.
Bees and hummers


82°F
Clear blue sky


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Simple

7AM - Keeping it simple
Awhile back we wrote to you about a new under-chassis storage space that was being considered. This storage would consist of a large box that would drop down from the right-rear. Never mind how this storage box would be secured while traveling. Because we are abandoning this storage box idea!

Why were we needing this additional storage? We had accumulated additional stuff. Mainly, two additional flight bags into which we had put even more stuff. We have decided to donate all this stuff to the Catholic church located in the main Tequisquiapan plaza. The church will be able to sell our stuff for money.

It takes thinking for us to keep our life simple. It's too easy to fall into the trap of accumulating stuff. Once we give away our two flight bags with all the un-needed stuff inside them, things inside MsTioga will be sooooo neat and un-cluttered!

10AM - But I do need a credit card!
Just now I completed an online credit card application with my bank, Bank of America. Because I have not used any credit for many years, I have no credit history. I have only used debit cards. However, during my recent trip to California, I was refused a rental car. Most rental car companies ONLY accept credit cards. Not debit cards.

I need a credit card!

So, I applied for a secured credit card. This is a credit card backed up by a deposit that I make with Bank of America. Now I will be able to have a credit card when I need it. Pretty neat, huh?

Weird that after all these years of having excellent credit, borrowing for several houses, etc., that I would come to a place in my senior years where I have to re-build my credit. I remember my very first credit card back in 1955. I was only 17 years old and applied for a gasoline credit card from Union Oil. No problem! My Union Oil card came in the mail a few weeks later.

2PM - Olympic games
MsTioga and the TiogaRV Team moved to central Tequis in order to get a stronger WiFi signal and be able to watch the Olympic games.


5PM - How do you know?
Somebody with a blog asked me, "I never know what to write about in my blog. How do you know?"

That's a very good question! I've made over 3,300 blog posts. And one of the things that I like most about posting is, that I hardly ever know in advance what I am going to write about. In fact, I believe that writing my blog is exactly like living my life. In both cases, I have no clue what is coming next.

I believe that it's supposed to be that way.


82°F
Partly cloudy


Friday, July 27, 2012

Phone companies

8AM - Trouble with phone companies
Ever since MsTioga and I began vagabonding together, we have had problems with phone companies. We have come to the conclusion that phone companies just do not listen. Or, if they are listening, they do not understand what we are saying to them. Hmmmm?

It started with AT&T in 2003. AT&T billed us for about $700+ worth of calls from Mexico. We tried to explain what happened, and AT&T did not understand. They wanted their $700+ dollars, and we refused to pay. So, they turned us over for collection.

Then came T-Mobile. Many of you will remember the "lost cell phone" incident. That lost cell phone ended up with a balance of about $450. We tried to negotiate with T-Mobile for 50%. After all, $450+ is a lot of money to pay for calls that we never made. T-Mobile would not negotiate. So, we refused to pay. And again, we got turned over for collection.

The next phone company to go for collection was Jitterbug by Greatcall. You would think that a "pay-as-you-go" phone company like Jitterbug, would not go for collection. But you would be wrong. After we explained that we were returning to Mexico and would no longer be using Jitterbug, AND having Jitterbug agree.......we began receiving past due notices. What is the use of calling companies like Jitterbug, when they do not listen in the first place? Hmmmm?

Verizon is the current phone company that we are dealing with from Mexico. You may recall that while in California, we got a Verizon cell phone to make calls. We tried to pre-pay. But Verizon told us, "Not necessary, we will bill you." So, they are billing us by mail. BUT, we must pay Verizon online. So far, we have been unable to access our online account. Verizon will probably turn us over for collection soon. Oh well!

9AM - Mail call
The reason that we posted about phone companies above, is that yesterday we received a big batch of our mail from the Americas Mailbox company in South Dakota. A package was sent to us for pick-up at the DHL Express Depot in San Juan del Rio. When we opened our mail, out came all of these collection notices.

Let me explain about how we feel concerning collection notices. We are not concerned about collection notices. We on the TiogaRV Team are not concerned with credit. Or credit reporting agencies. Or our credit score [FICO] which they tell us is now 608. All this credit stuff is a bunch of BS!

If these collection companies want to take me to court and sue me, fine! I will go to court and present my case against their case. And see who wins! But they never go to court.


11AM - SiteMeter
Yesterday I emailed SiteMeter asking for information on why the SiteMeter counter is appearing twice on all of my webpages. So far, no response from SiteMeter.


12 Noon - Battery watering system
Remember the Pro-Fill Battery Watering System that we bought awhile back? The Pro-Fill did not work without the hand-pump. That pump arrived yesterday with our mail. So, this morning we went to install the Pro-Fill.

However, one of the battery cables interfered with the battery watering system's plastic plumbing lines. When we install a new and longer battery cable, we will test the Pro-Fill out and give you a report.

1PM - Tex-Mex vs Mexican Food
We are at the little restaurant on the 2nd floor of the Pedregal Plaza. The Plaza is pretty fancy. Tile floors. Tall ceilings. There is a movie theater in the Pedregal. The Bodega Aurrera Store [owned byWalMart] is in the Plaza. Music from the sound system is playing an elevator version of rock-n-roll.

It would all be perfect, if it were not for the food! Try as they might, most restaurants in Mexico just do not understand Tex-Mex. That salsa covered, rich in cheese-gooey and mouth-watering Tex-Mex.

It's weird! You go to Mexican restaurants in California and the Mexican cooks in these restaurants really do understand Tex-Mex.


3PM - Made our own battery cable
We fabricated up our own battery cable! Now the Pro-Fill Battery Watering System is complete. We tried it out. Seemed to work fine. Takes less than one minute to top off batteries with distilled water.

The Pro-Fill is pretty easy to install.
Pro-Fill installed on Mr. Sunny's battery bank


82°F
A bit cloudy


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rethink solar

7AM - Rethinking solar
Mr. Sunny is using his second set of deep cycle batteries. His first set of batteries were the Exide Golf Car model bought in April, 2003 from Sam's Club for only $47/each. The second set were manufactured by Crown Battery bought in December, 2007 from American Battery in San Diego for $106/each.

Our electrical needs on the TiogaRV Team are much different today than they were back in 2003. Back then we had a full size desktop computer and monitor. To go online in 2003, we used our Mr. Datastorm who had several pieces of electrical equipment (modem, controller and the antenna). To go online now, all we need is our Apple MacBookPro and a little wireless modem!

So, we are rethinking solar. Especially the battery part of our solar electric system. Our set of Crown deep cycle batteries are still operating, but much less efficiently than when new. The Crowns were abused a while back when I was away on vacation. During that time, a few of the batteries had their plates uncovered (low electrolyte level).  It might be a good time to consider replacing the Crown batteries. However, we now feel that instead of (6) deep cycle batteries, we may only need (4). 


LTH Batteries: Recently we learned that the Johnson Controls company, manufacturer of LTH batteries here in Mexico, sells a line of deep cycle batteries. We believe that LTH has branch location in the nearby City of San Juan del Rio. We are planning a shopping trip to Johnson/LTH with the idea of buying (4) new deep cycle batteries. At that time, we also want to replace MsTioga's house battery located in her engine compartment.


5PM - Map problems!
The TiogaRV Team just returned from San Juan del Rio. During the late morning and early afternoon, we tried to find the Estafeta Depot. We wanted to use Estafeta-Ground to ship our Datastorm stuff to Steve O'Bosky in California. We tried hard, but just could not find Estafeta. Our Garmin Nuvi GPS showed the Depot to be in a residential neighborhood. That's not right.

Finally, we decided to ship only the essential Datastorm stuff to Steve. We used DHL to do the shipping. We are junking all the remaining Datastorm stuff.

Looking for the LTH warehouse
We had the same map problems looking for the LTH warehouse. Somehow the location eluded us. The GPS showed several locations with the same address. Weird!

However, we did find an AutoZone that sold the LTH 6Volt Deep Cycle Golf Car battery, re-branded to AutoZone. However, AutoZone only had batteries dated January, 2011. Not good.

We will have to ask around for info about buying these batteries. I believe that we can order them from a local auto supply store.

It was suggested in ShoutBox, that we try buying only 2-batteries to replace the 6 that we are using now. We like that idea, and are going to give it a try.



92°F
Lots f clouds


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Change

9AM - How things have changed
On June 7th, 2003, Tioga and I went on the road on our first great adventure! Back then, the only practical way to get on the internet everywhere, was to have satellite internet capability. We paid about $7,200 to buy  and have installed our Mr. Datastorm.

Who knew then, that in about eight years in the future, a tiny thing called a USB Wireless Modem would obsolete the mobile satellite business?

Battery Changes: Similar changes are happening with storage batteries. A few years ago, a Lithium Ion Battery that would replace a Lead-Acid Deep Cycle Battery was not on the market. Now, they are! Yes, these Lithium batteries cost a fortune. But they are here [link]. And in time, the price should come down a lot.


6PM - Stayed home today
Yes, I just stayed home today at Home Camp. Bought a license frame light online. Watched the hummers. What do you think? Is this a good day? Or what?

7PM - Eating changes
Eating used to be big part of my life. But not anymore. Since I began eating less sugar last year, slowly but surely, the amount of food that I eat went down. And as the food amount went down, the flab came off my mid-section. Don't get me wrong. There is still a lot of flab to go. Flab like this seems to go away very slowly.

Interesting thing for me is that this eating change goes hand-in-hand with my Health Value, Goal #5: "To never over eat." [link]

Before the sugar change in my diet, I was unable to control the amount of food that I ate. Now I do not have to control eating. I just cannot over-eat anymore!

7:30PM - Good size rainstorm
A pretty good size rainstorm blew in from the east. We love it! Now that MsTioga is all rain-proof, we do not have to worry anymore about leaks.

We just watch the rain rolling down off the roof, like a little waterfall.



77°F
Rainstorm


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Home Camp

8AM - Why I love Home Camp
It is sooooo peaceful here. The large highway that connects Tequisquiapan to Ezequiel Montes is far enough away so that traffic sounds are minimal. The small highway which is about 4-blocks away, has almost no traffic at all.

The views from MsTioga are all green. Very green. Even before the big rains came and the grass grew, the plants were green. It is a forest of plants and trees. As you may know, Home Camp is at the edge of a hill. So, looking east we can see all the way to the distant hills. Just gorgeous.

Something about this place is calming. I felt that calm the very first time here. After first finding this place, it was that feeling of calmness that caused me to return and adopt Home Camp for my own.

Things to do list
The major item on my Things-To-Do list is to ship Mr. Datastorm and all of his accessory equipment to my friend and former Datastorm Dealer, Steve O'Bosky. Panchito at Panchito's Body Shop told me that he knew of a company that would package and ship this stuff. We want to use a truck shipper in order to keep freight costs down.

Right now all of the Datastorm accessory equipment is stored inside the large traveling bag that I bought during our California trip. There is only one place for that bag. On the passenger seat! Not good.

PS: I'm feeling much better today! Summer cold seems to be over!


1PM - Spoke with Steve
Getting the Datastorm to a place for packaging and shipping to the USA proved to be a problem. So, I phoned Steve O'Bosky in California. Turns out that he would prefer to have the parts from Datastorm, rather than the entire unit. This is great news!

My plan now is to put everything in the bag that I bought for transporting from California to Mexico and take it to Estafeta [UPS in Mexico]. Then ship UPS ground to California.

I am typing this post to you from K'puchino's Restaurante, just off the main plaza of Tequisquiapan. This place is turning out to be a favorite of mine. I like the open-air ambiance of K'puchinos. And love the food here.

5PM - Pena Bernal
Señorita Tioga was about one mile from Home Camp when New Mavicita saw a marvelous view of Peña de Bernal. The 3rd largest [correction tallest, not largest] monolith in the World! [link]

Of course Tioga stopped so that New Mavicita could capture the pic to share with you.
Peña de Bernal



87°F
Partly cloudy


Monday, July 23, 2012

Burn out

7AM - Better to burn out
When I think about settling down because of my age, my mind travels to one of my favorite performances of all time. Neil Young at Farm Aid 1985 singing "Hey, Hey, My, My" [link]. Those words! That face! Wow!

In this song, Neil Young sings the words, "Better to burn out, than fade away..." That's exactly how I feel. THAT is the reason that I keep pressing on. Keep going up on MsTioga's roof. Because once you stop doing that stuff, you just fade away.



12 Noon - Hangin round the house
I've just been staying home and hangin round the house. Doing resting in the bed. Watching the hummers from the dining table. It's a gorgeous day. A good one to catch up on rest. My summer cold wants me to do this rest.

I've been toying in my mind with the idea of raising and lowering of the solar panels using linear actuators. You may remember awhile back that fellow RVer Bob Parker helped upgrade our solar panels from a wood to aluminum frame. We showed then how Bob's solar panels are powered with linear actuators. Bob has his panels raised up on an aluminum frame in order to get enough of an angle to move the panels.

We want to be able to do the same thing as Bob Parker, but without raising the panels up on a frame. One day while I was waiting for Gina, my Spanish to arrive at the Plaza Hotel, I happened to glance up at the umbrella over the restaurant table. Umbrellas have a mechanism which does a similar thing to what I want to do with the solar panels.

I believe that I am able to use a simple mechanism, similar to an umbrella, to power the solar panels without raising everything up on a frame.




78°F
Partly cloudy