Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cheap Tickets

Cheap Tickets!
Reader Mel emailed asking about how we buy airplane tickets. We use "Cheap Tickets".

We receive good prices when shopping for our trips. Cheap Tickets' online ordering routine is excellent. Even allows seat selection, showing which seats are already taken and which seats are available. I like that a lot!

4:45AM - Oakland Airport.
The fellow at the front desk at the Holiday Inn suggested leaving for the airport at 4:45am for a 6am departure. So, we are taking the hotel's van at that time.

Little Mavicita, Ms. Vaio, Mr. HP and Jorge do not mind being an hour early for an airplane flight. But we just hate being one minute late!

8AM - Phoenix Airport.

We have arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, which claims to be the friendliest airport in the nation! And so far, it is!

We have a 2 hour-38 minute layover here in Phoenix. This layover and the 2.5 hour flight time and flying west to east [losing clock time], brings us to Puerto Vallarta at 3:08pm. Pretty late for busing back to MsTioga in the Pueblo of Aticama.

However, we are going to try to catch the bus to Aticama anyway.

3:30PM - Taxi back to MsTioga.
We have arrived back in Puerto Vallarta and took a taxi to the bus station. However, we learned that the last bus north left at 3pm, a half hour ago.

So, we made a deal with the taxi driver to take us back to Aticama and MsTioga in his own car for the discounted price of $80US [regular price is $120US].
Jorge and MsTioga together again!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Last day in Concord

Last day in Concord!
My California trip is drawing to an end! This afternoon when I drive Son David's car to the BART station, I will not be returning home with him. Instead I'll be taking BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit] to the Oakland Airport Station. A Courtyard Marriott Hotel shuttle will pick me up and take me to the hotel.

Tomorrow my airplane takes off for Mexico at 6am. So, it is necessary to stay at the hotel close to Oakland Airport in order to check-in on time for my flight.

My heart goes in two directions!
Each time that I leave to return to Mexico, my heart goes in two directions. Part of my heart yearns to remain. Part wants to feel the rush of excitement that comes with beginning a journey.

At times as these, I've got to jerk myself back into the moment. Not longing for the past. Not thinking about what might happen to prevent me from returning to California. And I am thinking of William Wordsworth's poem which expresses so well how I feel now [link].

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass,
of glory in the flower,
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind!

5PM - Goodbye to David!
Every work day Son David phones me to come pick him up at the Concord BART station. During the day, I am using his late model Acura auto. A car that I really like a lot because it has lots of gadgets that are accessed thru a monitor in the dash. Love this stuff!

When David arrived at the BART station, we hugged good bye and he drove off. I boarded the BART train which took me to Oakland Airport BART. A Courtyard Marriott van came to the BART station and took me to the hotel.
David arriving at Concord BART.

6:30PM - Marriott's internet.
After checking into the Marriott Hotel, I found that their internet connection did not work! They claimed that somebody was fixing the internet, and I went off to eat supper. After supper, the internet connection was still not working.

Marriott graciously found me a room at a nearby Holiday Inn.

9PM - At the Holiday Inn.

We have moved over to the Holiday Inn, and the internet appears to be working. This internet/hotel thing is really weird. This is the 2nd hotel that I stayed at on this trip where there was supposed to be an internet connection but it actually was not working!


No location maps during the California trip.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Return of the rental beast

8AM - Return of the rental beast!
This morning Son David drove to Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and I followed him in my Rental Beast. He parked his car, then we drove together to the BART station and he went to work. Then I filled the Rental Beast with gasoline and returned it to Enterprise.

8:30AM - Country Waffles.
Close by Son David's home is a restaurant named, "Country Waffles". How could I resist such a tempting name as Country Waffles? Well, I couldn't and went there to try one. The waffle was very good. I love going to restaurants. Don't you?

Searching for short pants.
Since my arrival in California, I have been shopping for short pants. For some reason that I don't understand, the kind of short pants that I like are hard to find in Mexico. And here in California, the time for shopping for short pants has passed. All that's left are what remains from the season clearance sales!

However, out in the City of Antioch, about 10 miles east of David's home, I seem to recall a store that sells clothing for working people. Just exactly what I want. Later this morning I'm planning to take a look-see for this clothing store.

Ms. Vaio vs Mr. HP
Our new laptop, Mr. HP has been with us for a week now. We thought that you might be interested in our thoughts about these two notebook computers.

We like the HP much more than the Sony-Vaio.
  • The HP has a full keyboard, including a numeric keypad. The Vaio keyboard has no numeric pad.
  • Our Vaio has problems with with the wireless network card. Vaio wireless often is slow or fails to connect. Also, sometimes the Vaio wireless driver fails completely, requiring re-installation of the driver. Vaio support has been unable to fix problems with the wireless driver. HP wireless connects immediately, stays connected and operates flawlessly.
  • The Vaio runs very hot. The HP runs cool, or at worst warm.
  • The Vaio has superior sound compared to the HP.
  • Both the HP and Vaio have excellent video displays. Almost the same size too.
  • Battery life of HP is much longer than Vaio.


No location maps during the California trip.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The kid likes Nirvana

The kid likes Nirvana!
This morning Hector was listening to his Play Station and Kurt Cobain's "Lake of Fire" was on. I asked the kids of they knew other Nirvana music. We put Nirvana on using YouTube.

Hector's brother Kyle really liked the music, and he is only six years old!
Kyle watching and listening to Nirvana.

9AM - Kids and electronic things.
Son David went off to play tennis and left me in charge of the three boys. Soon all three were on the couch, immersed in their electronic gadgets. Not a good idea, it seems to me.

All of us went outside to do some games, play around on the bikes, and tell stories. Much more fun!
Andrew, Hector & Kyle electronically involved.


No location maps during the California trip.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rental car

Rental car
Yesterday afternoon, Son David dropped me off at the nearby Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company. I rented a "Mazda 3", a zippy little auto.

We are going to drive the Mazda this morning to the City of Santa Cruz to spend the day with my Son Joseph! Little Mavicita, Ms. Vaio and Mr. HP are going too. So, we will be able to take pics of our visit and share them with you while we are still down in Santa Cruz!

4PM - Joe's project.
We are at Joe's home in Santa Cruz. He has made a drainage ditch going around his home to collect rain runoff. The ditch goes to a sump at the front of his home and pumps water out to the road to drain away.
Son Joseph
Standing next to drainage ditch.

9PM - The Bigiest Jenga!

When we arrived back at Son David's home, we found the kids admiring the Bigiest Jenga that the World had ever seen. "Who built this Jenga?", I asked. Nobody would tell, but the major suspect was David!
Kyle, Hector & Andrew admire
The Bigiest Jenga!


No location maps during the California trip.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A giant caring heart

A giant caring heart!
My son David has been a foster parent for many years. When a family cannot properly care for a child, the county steps in, removes the child and finds a home for him. David provides such a home.

David has provided a home for kids in trouble for many, many years. He has three boys now. Two brothers, Hector [11] and Kyle [6]. Also Andrew [7]. Taking care of kids means seeing that they are dressed, fed, and arrive at school on time. It means settling arguments, picking them up from school, looking over their homework and insuring that the kids complete their school assignments. And as you may imagine, it means a zillion other things too.

Each of these kids are individuals, requiring separate and special loving care. Kyle sleeps late, while Andrew and Hector get up by themselves. When breakfast is on the table, David goes upstairs, wakes Kyle and carries him downstairs to eat.

These three boys are lucky, because David has a giant caring heart!
Andrew & Kyle watch
as David prepares breakfast.


No location maps during the California trip.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Visiting plans

Visiting plans!
My son Joseph lives in the City of Santa Cruz, California. I sure would like to spend a day with him, just talking and messing around. Joseph's home is about a two hour drive south. This morning I made plans for this visit.

On Friday afternoon, I'm picking up a car rental, a 3-day deal. The rental car will take me to Santa Cruz early Saturday morning. Joseph is working on a drainage project for his home. I'll be watching him work!

Son David's mailbox.
My son David has a mailbox which is in need of refinishing. I've volunteered to do this finishing project. The morning is a good time to do the job. The Sun is behind the trees early in the day.

The finish is Varathane Outdoor Clear Satin Spar Urethane. This finish gives outstanding U.V. and weather protection.
Mailbox before.

Mailbox after.


No maps during our California trip.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Returning to California every six months

Returning to California every six months.
Some Readers have emailed wondering why we return to California from Mexico every six months. They point out that I could easily obtain a Mexican visa [the FM3] which would allow staying in Mexico permanently.

However, I want to return to the United States often to visit with family and friends. So, my current Mexican Visa [the FM1] is perfect for me. Upon my return flight to Mexico, by filling out a Mexican Visa form, I receive a new FM1 for free from Mexican immigration!

10AM - Making the rounds.
One of the places that I like to stop into and say hello, is Oak Mountain Cabinets in Concord, CA. This is the last cabinet shop that I worked at.

It is a kick to go to Oak Mountain, and tell them about the places that I have been since my last visit. And to see that things have not changed since I worked there.


No location maps during our California trip.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Stuff for MsTioga

Stuff for MsTioga!
In October, MsTioga is scheduled to have service at the Ford dealer in the City of Tepic. One of the things to service is replacing the transmission fluid which requires a new "inline fluid filter". This filter is hard to find in Mexico. We are going to a Ford dealer here in Concord to buy one.

Another thing that MsTioga needs, is new cabover clearance lights. The present clearance lights are deteriorating due to weathering. So, we will be looking for five new clearance light fixtures too.

Breakfast with friends.
We have a date today with our friend Paul Gouveia. We will go this morning to Giant Burger, famous locally for their breakfasts.

Paul and I worked together in the 1990s to restore the Veterans Monument. The monument now resides on hotel property and will be forever cared for by the hotel. When Paul and I began the campaign to restore the Veterans Monument, the concrete structure was very deteriorated. But now, it is gorgeous!

When Paul and I began the drive to restore the monument, hardly anybody was interested in the project. However, the two of us persisted and after a few years, lots of people climbed aboard.
Veterans Monument
Pleasant Hill, California


No maps during California trip.