Sunday, February 28, 2010

We are so far south

We are so far south!
Do you look at MsTioga's location on Google Earth? It blows me away to see how far south is our location right now! We are only 18° above the equator!

The image below is a copy of a Google Earth, and shows MsTioga's position in Mexico.
Click on the pic to see MsTioga's location

8AM - The village of Maruata
MsTioga and The Team have made our Camp in Maruata, a tiny fishing village located at the west end of a shallow bay. Some years ago there was an airstrip here, and Tioga is at the east end of the airstrip. Behind us is a naval station.

Part of the job of the Mexican navy is to protect the wildlife that live in the ocean and along the coast. The concrete things that you see in this pic, are homes for fish. One of the navy guys told me that these concrete homes are placed out in the bay so that fish may seek protection inside.

As you may imagine looking at the pic below, this is a very peaceful place. There is hardly any noise here. Only nature's sound of waves crashing on the beach or birds chirping.
View from MsTioga's roof

4PM - Very first blog post
My first blog post was published on May 14th, 2003. The URL for that blog was:

Just after New Years Day, 2004, Blogger lost this blog. It just vanished! Stuff like that happened back in old blogger days. The URL above was no more!

This afternoon I was messing around with the HTML code of my first blogger post, and managed to recreate that post as it actually looked on May 14, 2003 [link].

6PM - Two ships arrive
This afternoon a sailboat set anchor in the tiny bay close to the village of Maruata. Ahile later, a good sized motor boat anchored too.

We on The Team wonder what these boats are all about? What is their story? People from these ships did not go ashore. A dingy from the motor boat cruised around but did not land.
Ships anchored at Maruata

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Anniversary header pic

Anniversary header pic
Readers have wondered where our anniversary header pic was captured? Last year, MsTioga and The Team traveled to California. During our return journey to Mexico, we passed thru the City of San Diego. One of our favorite places to Nite Camp in San Diego is close to Shelter Island. Before sunrise on November 25, 2009, we moved our Camp down to the bay.

The view from this Shelter Island Camp next to the water was breathtaking! The pic that Little Mavicita took that morning is one of her favorites [link].

2PM - First good view of the Ocean
You may recall in yesterday's blog that we are heading to the Seaside Village of Maruata. The road to Maruata follows the coastline but snakes around in the hills. So far, the few glimpses of water are fleeting and distant.

Then MsTioga drove around a bend in the road and there it was! Little Mavicita captures a gigantic view of the Pacific coast. This view shows an abundance of almost unoccupied beach!
View of the coast from road to Maruata

3PM - Giant tsunami wave
We have made a Camp on the beach at Maruata. We were here only a few minutes, when a 12" high wave smashed into shore.

Little Mavicita captured that wave. Was this the giant tsunami?
Is this it?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Manzanillo Mexico rentals

Manzanillo Mexico rentals
Our first Nite Camp in Manzanillo was on February 15th. A homeowner from across the street came over to our Camp and suggested parking in front of his home instead of close to the street intersection. He explained that it was safer there.

He invited me in to his home to chat and show me around. He had built a two story apartment next to his home which was vacant right now. This apartment rented for $500US/month.

Readers have written asking for us to be on the lookout for rentals. So, later this morning we are returning to visit with this gentleman. We want you to see this apartment rental which is close to the beach.

10AM - Morning walk!
I've just returned from my morning walk. The apartment that I wrote to you about above is already rented. On my return walk there was a small hotel and I went inside to find out about room rates.

The young man at the front desk told me that a room for two people at the hotel is 24,600 pesos per month. He also told me that he used to work at another place that has vacation rental apartments that are much less expensive. Only 6,500 pesos per month [$520US].

He gave me a business card for a local real estate company that represents these vacation rentals. Their website is [here]. Below is a pic of a rental that goes for $520US/month. A bay view apartment!

Rental in Manzanillo

12 Noon - Heading south
We are leaving the City of Manzanillo. Heading south. Reader John sent an email and was very enthusiastic about the seaside village of Maruata in the State of Michoacan.

We are meandering down that way to take a peek.

5PM - City of Tecomán
We have arrived in the City of Tecomán and made our Nite Camp in a commercial neighborhood a couple of blocks away from Bodega Aurrerá [owned by WalMart]. It is somewhat humid and warm inside MsTioga. 95°F!

I wanted to show you a pic of the modern artwork at this city's entrance. But Little Mavicita said that this pic is so boring! He is jumping around like a crazy thing insisting on showing you a pic of the Señor Sushi supper that I had last nite. Can you imagine that!
Salmon sashimi and chicken teriyaki

Thursday, February 25, 2010

7th Anniversary - Tioga George

7th Anniversary - Tioga George
I was thinking about how I got to my 7th anniversary with Tioga, and wondering if you would like to read about the beginning of our journey?

Tioga and George's first camp
On the morning of February 25, 2003, I was scheduled for an appointment with my cancer doctor. I suspected that my doctor was going to give me the word that I was in cancer remission, and I was right! My doctor laid out a five year plan for my after cancer treatment. I told my doctor, "Right after I leave your office this morning, I am driving to pick up my new RV home. When the time comes for my first appointment for the five year plan, I might be camping up in Montana. Thousands of miles away."

My doctor smiled at me and said, "Good for you, George".

A few weeks before that appointment, I drove to Manteca Trailer & Camper in the Town of Manteca, California to put down a $1,000 deposit to buy a 1991 Fleetwood Tioga Class-C RV. I liked the floor plan of this Tioga, with two single beds in the rear. I planned to convert one of these beds to a computer workstation.

After leaving the doctor's office that morning, I returned to Manteca Trailer and paid the $17,000 cash balance for Tioga. Then I drove back to my apartment in the City of Concord. I moved clothes, food and other stuff from my apartment into Tioga. I planned to be an RVing fulltimer from that day on.

I needed some screws and hardware stuff for Tioga. So, I drove to the Ace Hardware Store to buy these things. Out in the Ace Hardware parking lot, I did whatever repairs were needed. Then I wondered where I should go now? That was the first time that an astounding concept popped into my brain. "I was already home!" What an amazing thing to come to understand! No matter where I would go from that day on, as long as Tioga was with me, I would always be home. Man-O-Man!

Tioga and I spent the nite right there in the Ace Hardware parking lot. Our first dry-camp. In the morning, I saw Ace's assistant manager walking toward Tioga. I thought that I was in for a scolding for camping in the lot over nite. However, the manager only wanted to know about Tioga. He wanted to buy an RV himself, and wished to look inside!

Searching for adventure!
On June 7th, 2003, Tioga and I headed north. We were finally on our BIG adventure! During the past three months, we had been busy installing stuff. Mr. Datastorm got installed, so did a couple of Mr. Dometic refrigerators [one failed]. Mr. Levelers is now onboard.

There were a ton of other things that we did too! We went on some shake down trips to learn what Tioga was all about. We drove all the way to Southern California for the Datastorm installation. What a challenge that installation was for us because the Datastorm did not work at all for about two weeks!

Although I was having the time of my life going to new places in MsTioga, I had hard times too. I was completely inexperienced camping with Tioga. On July 1st, 2003, I drove Tioga down a forest road where I should not have been and came to a dead-end! I could not turn around. My blog post for that day did not disclose how upset I was by the challenge of that day's trip. But a note to myself shows how fear affected me. That note is still taped to the wall of Tioga today.

My creed
I don't run away from my dreams
Because of my fear of what "might" happen
I have faith that no matter what
Fate brings me, I shall overcome.
1 July 2003

Our transmission nightmare
During these first months on the road, we gradually had Tioga checked over. There were no records of maintenance for Tioga. We figured on checking everything little by little in order to begin to collect our own maintenance records. That was why when we got to Portland, Oregon, Tioga went to have her transmission fluid changed.

The tranny shop manager showed us a small mound of sludge in the transmission's pan. He said that this was a sure sign that our tranny was about to fail. We now know that this "about to fail" prediction was likely false. $3,200 was paid to rebuild our tranny. Two months later that rebuilt tranny did actually fail. The spline shaft on the tranny's torque converter stripped out. When the tranny shop refused to honor the warranty, a rebuilt tranny was installed at a Ford dealer. Another $2,700!

Not enough $dough$
Even though our cash reserve was now terribly low, we continued our journey. We had to believe that somehow, someway, we could make it financially and stay on-the-road. However, it was not until several months later that it became clear what the cost to keep Tioga on-the-road would be. And that cost was more than our income!

Reader Bob to the rescue
On March 31, 2004, I wrote to you in a blog post that I'd have to stop searching for adventure and go get a job. The maintenance for Tioga was so much more than anticipated. I figured that I'd get a job at WalMart or something.

Many emails arrived from Readers encouraging me to stay on the road. But one email from Reader Bob had a solution. Bob suggested that income could be earned with Google's AdSense program. I knew nothing about AdSense, but Bob seemed to be an expert. Back in those days, AdSense was different. There were no easy ways to understand AdSense as there are now. But Bob kept after me thru email communication, coaching and urging me on.

I was putting in several hours a day with AdSense and only earning pennies per hour! My first month I earned $108.09 from AdSense. I wanted to quit this AdSense. I thought that it was not worth it. All that work for so little money. Bob keep after me. He would not let me quit!

I have no clue what I would be doing today if it were not for the dogged determination of Reader Bob. He saved me. In December, 2004, my AdSense cracked thru the $500 barrier. I was now earning more than my expenses!

How the blog began
During May, 2003, I was still going to weekly meetings of my cancer support group at the Wellness Center in Pleasant Hill, California. It was clear that sometime soon I would be heading out with my RV. There would be no more meetings!

Betty Phillips was one of the members of Group. Betty wondered how they would know what became of me when I was off wandering around in my RV? She suggested that I begin a blog, so that my Group members could follow me on the internet.

That's how this all began!
George and MsTioga
Camped in Benicia, California
April, 2003


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tioga maintenance

Tioga maintenance
Remember I wrote to you that going under Tioga flat on my back was not good for me anymore? Well, I changed my mind. Because I really like to go under there looking around and inspecting. In the late afternoon when Tioga is in a shadow is my favorite time to inspect. Our Camp in Manzanillo is on a concrete street, very clean and smooth. Easy to move around on my back.

Inspection of Tioga's parking brake system came up on Auto Maintenance Pro. While inspecting the brake cabling, I came upon a rusted out support clamp for the black pipe coming from the propane tank. A stainless hose clamp was used to secure the propane pipe once again.

Our rust control program is really doing pretty good. Regular inspection is the reason. Yesterday afternoon some rust was found around a leaf spring support bracket. This is one of the brackets that was replaced last year when cracks were found in the old brackets. After Must-For-Rust was sprayed on this corroded place and the liquid dried, Rust-Oleum Flat Protective Black Enamel was sprayed on. Looks really good now!

12 Noon - XM/Sirius radio
Ever since we traveled south of Puerto Vallarta, our XM/Sirius satellite radio has had trouble receiving a strong signal. We must be close to the edge of satellite footprint.

The tiny antenna for the receiver is mounted on Tioga's cabover roof. Perhaps if the antenna could be raised up, the antenna might "see" its satellite better?
Antenna moved to vent cover

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Three column blog

Three column blog
It was because of wanting a three column blog that we have a "classic blog". A few years ago when Google came out with new blogger and developed templates with layouts, we on the TiogaRV Team did not convert. We liked the way our blog looked. Converting to a layout based blog would have changed all that.

However, that meant that we did not have access to "widgets", which only come with layouts. Widgets are tools that bring to a blog all sorts of things. Labels or categories are one of those things. Because we have a classic blog, there was no way to publish a list of our labels so we never used them. But still we wanted labels.

We find label code!
The internet is a miracle place. All over the World people share things on the internet. Stuff that would have been almost impossible to know before the internet, is now available to the ordinary person.

It blows my mind that while camping in Mexico, I was able to find the website of some person living who-knows-where who shared how to put label code into a classic blog. Amazing! Just freaking amazing!

If you look near the bottom of our right hand column, you may see our new "Labels" list! Clicking on a label brings up all of our blog posts containing that label or category. We only just began putting labels on our posts a few days ago, so there are not many posts containing labels right now.

We would like for you to see a list of snippets when you click on our labels. Right now the entire post appears making it difficult to select a particular post to read. But we have the internet resource available, so we will be searching for code to allow you to read snippets!

12 Noon - Fender bender!
MsTioga needs a water fill-up. There is a large Pemex gas station near the embarcadero that has a nice large water hose for filling up. There is a body shop there and we want to look into that shop.

After filling up and looking in at the shop, we headed to the embarcadero. The streets are narrow there, but no big problem for MsTioga. We came to a tiny intersection with a mandatory left turn. MsTioga's rear bumper was only inches from a fence barrier, requiring back and forth maneuvering in order to clear for the left turn. No problem, we have done such a maneuver hundreds of times.

Only this time there was a transit cop at the intersection, and he distracted me. MsTioga's rear bumper brushed the fence. Fender bender!

So, what happened next?
The traffic cop wanted Tioga to back into a tiny street in order to park. I explained that the street was not wide enough. But the cop insisted. I explained again that the street was not wide enough, and asked him what he wanted me to.

The traffic cop then instructed Tioga to turn left in order to find a place to park. Tioga did her back and forth maneuver in order to make the left turn. We made that turn and the cop directed us to a parking place.

The cop asked for my driver's license. I don't give my license over easily. Not a good idea here in Mexico. So, to change the subject, I suggested that we walk back to the place of the accident in order to talk to the owner of the damaged fence.

On arriving at the accident scene, I found out that the fence belonged to a school. I saw a class filled with teenage kids. A middle aged man came to the door. Apparently he was the owner of the school. I introduced myself and offered to pay to repair the fence.

The man looked at the fence, touched the damage a little, and shook his head, "No". He said that the fence was OK, and it would not be necessary for me to pay anything!

5PM - Why do we love the City of Manzanillo?
Well, that is a very good question!
  • Manzanillo is right next to the Ocean and a gorgeous bay
  • A medium sized city with lots of shopping. Soriana, WalMart
  • Manzanillo is tranquil. Not a lot of traffic like Mazatlan and Acapulco
  • Camping here is easy for MsTioga
Oh yes, there is one other thing. Señor Sushi is here in Manzanillo. Remember we were complaining about foreign food here in Mexico?

Señor Sushi makes the best sushi that we have been delighted to eat anywhere. Such fresh tuna and shrimp! And the hand shaped rice is so firm. Does not fall apart. Señor Sushi has wasabi [green mustard] which is hard to find in Mexico. And pickled ginger too!
Manzanillo's Señor Sushi

Monday, February 22, 2010

Who knows why stuff happens

Who knows why stuff happens?
An email was received from Infolinks asking for a W9 tax form. I earned ad income from Infolinks and they would only send the money after I submitted a signed W9. The email included a link to a federal website that contained a downloadable Adobe PDF W9 that could be filled in by computer. It was that "signing" thing that started stuff happening!

It is strange how one thing affects another which affects another. A cascading bunch of things causing stuff to happen. Our HP scanner would not scan. It used to scan fine, but not now. Unknown to us on the TiogaRV Team at that time, was that the HP software that controls the HP scanner uses Adobe Flash Player. Adobe had recently changed their Flash Player. Now the HP Scanner would not scan the W9 tax form. So, of course I was compelled to fix this stuff. I am a computer geek, and this kind of stuff is our meat!

I attacked this challenge head-on downloading "HP Solution Center" once again from the HP website. "Solution Center" contains the HP scanner driver. Surely this would fix everything. It didn't.

The HP website advised doing the Solution Center install in "Selective Startup" mode. Just click on "Run", type in "msconfig", switch from "Normal Startup" to "Selective Startup" and the install will go fine.

All that I wanted to do was scan the W9, and now I was dealing with msconfig? You can see how this computer stuff quickly goes from easy-to-do to soooooo deep! Finally I gave up on using the scanner, and found "Casita Telefonica" a tiny phone service store at the nearby Soriana Super Center. Casita Telefonica had a FAX. Problem solved.

Only the problem was not solved. Apparently in all my rummaging around in the inner workings of our Mr. HP notebook computer, I had damaged some electronic thing. Now the trial copy of Corel Paint Shop Pro X-3 would not work anymore.

Unknown to me when I dove into this new challenge, was that silently in the background, Mr. HP notebook computer was collecting information about all these failures. Also unknown then, was that at 8PM on every Sunday evening, if we are connected up to the internet and Mr. HP is turned on, this failure information is transmitted to the HP website. HP then somehow analyzes these failures and sends back a webpage advising what should be done to fix all of this failure stuff.

Now, everything is working right again. And I have no clue as to what actually happened or why now everything is working again. Who knows why stuff happens?

4PM - Another battery report.
We promised you a couple of weeks ago that there would be no more battery reports. But we just had to share one more report with you!

About a week ago the PWM set point of our Morningstar TriStar charge controller was lowered 0.1 volt to 14.4 volts. This one tenth volt reduction allowed the TriStar to go into PWM charging mode everyday. We just checked the Specific Gravity of all our battery cells. According to Crown Battery Company, a Specific Gravity of 1.265 or greater is a fully charged battery.

Every cell this afternoon checked out at a SG of 1.265 to 1.275. Isn't that something?

7PM - The bay at sunset
I've just come back from the beach. The shore of the bay is only about 100 meters from where MsTioga has made her Camp for the past several nites.
View from the beach in front of Tioga's Camp

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Weng online

Weng online!
Our friend Weng is back online with a blog post! Hubby Francisco made a ShoutBox post yesterday to tell us that the family arrived at their home in Portland, Oregon on Friday. And Weng made a Skype call to me yesterday evening. It took about a week for Weng and the family to travel from Aticama to Portland.

Weng has not updated her "Mail Order Bride" blog in close to a month. Internet access is difficult in Aticama. However, Weng is back blogging now, and we are sooooo happy to be able to Read Weng again.

Please click on the "Read Weng" pic to read her "We are home" blog post or click [here].

11AM - Computer backup day
You may recall that the TiogaRV Team's method of computer backup is different. We have chosen to backup Mr. HP, our primary computer, to Ms. Vaio, our secondary computer. As you may see in the pic below, both of these are notebook computers.

We use the Tornado File Transfer tool to do most of the backup [link]. The Tornado is fast!

We like to backup one computer to another, because we are able to check to see if our important programs are really an exact duplicate. There is no mystery wondering if the backup worked or not and only finding out after disaster strikes and a restore is made. A visual comparison, one monitor to the other confirms the backup.

The small round thing between these two notebook computers is The Tornado, connected by USB cables to each notebook.
Ms. Vaio [left], Mr. HP [right]

2PM - Mr. Wave6
This afternoon we did maintenance on Mr. Wave6, our noble catalytic heater [link]. Mr. Wave6 lives in MsTioga's shower/closet. During times when it is cold, Mr. Wave6 is not covered. Lately we have not needed a heater at nite. Is it already the end of winter?

So, after Mr. Wave6 was all cleaned up, we decided to put a plastic bag over him for protection against dust.
Wave6 in the closet

7PM - Favorite icon
Do you see the little "TG" icon above? Today using the Paint program that comes with all Microsoft operating systems, I made this tiny icon. The TG stands for Tioga George!

If you look above our blog's address line in your browser, you may see the TG icon there as well. There used to be a Blogger icon there. We on the TiogaRV Team like our TG icon better!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Audible low battery alarm

Audible low battery alarm
When the battery on my notebook computer gets low, no audible alarm warns me. Apparently the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system does not provide this audible low battery alarm!
The computer just shuts down!

Yesterday my notebook shut down without warning of a low battery for the last time. Because I now have an audible alert when the battery gets low! I found this alarm while doing a Google search.

I am soooooo happy with this alarm! I put a loud wave file into the alarm. Now when the battery gets low I hear [this] kachink sound once each minute to warn me!

If you want a Low Battery Alarm on your computer, click [here].

7th anniversary blog post
A couple of days ago I began writing the text of my blog that will become our February 25, 2010 anniversary blog post. In this post I'd like to share with you my feelings about the early days of my vagabonding life. So, I have been re-reading my blog pages of 2003. And remembering.

In retrospect, I now know how very lucky I was to get from 2003 to 2010 and still be journeying with MsTioga. In 2003 I didn't have a clue how seriously low was my income. Much too low to live this life! But here I am in 2010!

Somewhere along the way it came to me that I should not worry about stuff. Every problem that seemed insurmountable to me at the time, every single one, had a solution. All I had to do would be to do everything that I could, and not worry about what might happen.

Preparing this 7th Anniversary Blog Post is a real good time for me!

2PM - Brilliant day in Manzanillo
A very short road goes by the WalMart and dead ends at the beach. MsTioga has been Camped here for a few hours. It is breezy, and the air going thru MsTioga's windows makes it comfortable inside.

Little Mavicita went up on Tioga's roof to take a pano pic for you to see.
View from Tioga's roof

6PM - Guys from Coca Cola
I spent the afternoon hanging out with five guys who work at Coca Cola here in Manzanillo. They all are in the marketing department. We got to talking about my airplane trip next month and that I would need a safe place to park MsTioga.

Edgar offered to keep MsTioga on his property here in Manzanillo. He said that he has lots of land and MsTioga would be safe there. We exchanged email addresses. Edgar is going to email me a map showing the location of his home.

Isn't this the greatest thing?
Coca Cola guys
Edgar is the 2nd from right