Friday, April 30, 2010

Electronic miracles

Electronic miracles
Yesterday evening my Son Joseph was hiking in the Santa Cruz mountains in California. Joseph came upon Spring Box, a small concrete pool with a bunch of gold fish swimming. Joseph wanted to share this happy moment with me, his Dad. Taking a pic of the swimming fish with his iPhone, Joseph then sent an email to me in Mexico with the fish pic attached.

A few minutes later I received that email. When I looked at the little fishees swimming in Spring Box and read the email, I understood the feelings of happiness that Joseph was experiencing. Using Skype, I phoned Joseph's iPhone and we had a wonderful conversation.

It is soooooo easy to take for granted these electronic miracles which have enhanced our lives so very much. When I was a little boy in the 1940s and read in the Sunday Comics about Dick Tracy and his 2-Way Wrist Radio, how could I have known that one day there would actually be such miracle devices?

Instant communication over the entire World! Man-O-Man!
Spring Box

2PM - Zamora, Michoacan
We drove 63 miles today. All the way from the Town of Mazamitla to the City of Zamora. On the way MsTioga crossed the state border of Jalisco and entered the State of Michoacan. As you may have suspected, it gives me a kick to write to you about small daily distances as if they are several hundred miles. Hmmmmm?

I was really happy to come across a Soriana Super Store because the supply of juice is running very low. The tiny grocery stores that are in nearly all of Mexico's little towns do not have good quality juice. Just look-like juice with lots of sugar.

After shopping we went over to a nearby AutoZone store and bought a couple of clearance lights. You may recall that a lens of one of MsTioga's rear clearance lights got knocked off a few days ago. Little accidents like this don't even bother me much anymore. In time, everything gets dinged. Why get upset?

We made a Nite Camp in a residential neighborhood close to the Soriana Store. This is a low-traffic street, quiet for napping and sleeping.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Colder up here
Since we left the Pacific Coast, the temperature has gotten colder. We are traveling in the mountain range called Sierra Madre del Sur. Our present elevation is 3,723 feet according to our Garmin Nuvi GPS. This morning it is 50°F outside and 61°F inside MsTioga. I've been running the forced air heater a bit to take the chill off.

It is now a little after 8am, and the Sun just rose high enough to stream its light thru MsTioga's windows. The sky is soooooo blue! It is a gorgeous day!

DeLorme GPS map
Each evening using Mr. DeLorme, our GPS map, we mark our Nite Camp location with a little red flag . We get a kick out of looking those little red flags because they show our progress. Our present journey going east began in Manzanillo on April 24th. Now it is April 29th. The DeLorme map shows we have traveled 109 miles so far this journey.

109 miles may not seem like very much. But to us on The TiogaRV Team, it is a spectacular. We love that we only move a little bit and enjoy where we are so very much. Because everywhere we are, everywhere we camp, is home!

12 Noon - Mountain Camp
During our morning journey, MsTioga kept climbing higher and higher. By late morning, we were driving thru a gorgeous pine tree forest! Mexico's forests rarely have logging roads as are often found in the USA. So, when we came to a nice wide pullout we immediately recognized the value of this place. We pulled off and made a Mountain Camp!

Everybody on the TiogaRV Team loves forests. We love the sound of the breeze flowing thru the trees. We love the look of the branches, gently swaying. And oh my, the fragrance of pine needles!
MsTioga in the forest
6,225' elevation

5PM - Town of Mazamitla
In Mexico, we prefer to Nite Camp in populated areas. So, we moved out of the forest and have made our Nite Camp in the Town of Mazamitla. There is still forest all around us. Not pine trees though. Mr. DeLorme was surprised to learn that we are now at 7,015' elevation!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Being an RVing vagabond is wonderful. It's so exciting! For me, being a vagabond means waking up excited about the day. In yesterday's blog post I wondered about putting down roots. Yet, that very afternoon MsTioga and I moved our Nite Camp up the hill. Just to get a better view! And that tiny move, less than a mile, was a good time for us.

Right now it is dawn. I am sitting at our dining table typing this post. Looking left thru the window is the view of the orange sky of sunrise. Thru the right window we look down on the Town of Cuauhtémoc. The range of mountains in the distance beyond the town is faint, almost invisible in the early morning light. It is very quiet except for a sugar cane truck that now and then passes on the road to our right carrying cane from the farms behind us.

Yesterday we wrote about putting down roots. Would we ever really consider putting down roots? Well, maybe. Someday. But not to-day!
Steam coming from the volcano
Pic captured yesterday by Little Mavicita

4PM - Industrial Town of Tamazula
After heading out of the Town of Cuauhtémoc, we took the free road northeast. This road led us up into the mountains and then down into valleys. Several times we went up and down like this at an elevation over 3,000 feet.

We arrived at the Town of Atenquique and made a gorgeous Nite Camp there in a park with lots of trees and a playground. However, after setting up in the park, a security guard drove up telling that this is private property. Apparently a large paper mill owns much of the town. We may not stay the nite here. So, we headed out for the next town.

On the map the next town is Tuxpan. Somehow we missed the entrance road to Tuxpan and were not able to turn around because the road was not wide. We continued to Tamazula which is an industrial town dominated by a very large sugar mill. After looking all over this town, we could not find a peaceful place to make our camp! MsTioga is parked on a street near the sugar mill. We are hoping that this places mellows out tonite for sleeping.

Looking for a new clearance light
Somehow the lens of one of MsTioga's rear clearance lights got knocked off today. I do not even know how or when this happened! This is not one of those fixtures for which a replacement lens may easily be found. A new clearance light must be purchased.

I'd bought two matching clearance lights after MsTioga's paint job in 2007 and painted the body of the fixture to match the surrounding paint.

6PM - Moved!
Too many large trucks and traffic near the sugar mill. We broke our camp and drove all thru the center of town. Found no good place to park. We reversed direction, returned to the highway and went to the east side of Tamazula. We spotted a residential neighborhood and are now camped there. Wow!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Putting down roots
It is not clear what it is about a place that gets me to thinking about putting down roots. Places that have brought the 'roots thought' to mind are not similar. Do you recall Santa Rosalia in Baja California where I actually put down roots for a few winters? Also, remember last February we made camp at the lovely lake of Presa Cajon de Peña? [link].

Yesterday evening while sitting in MsTioga and looking out at the view of the volcano, the road going further up the hill got me to thinking about roots. There must be fabulous views from up there. Not only of the volcano, but from that height, the view to the south and west might be spectacular!

Perhaps this morning, Little Mavicita might like to take a hike with me on that road that goes up the hill?

11AM - Home from the hill
Little Mavicita and I have just returned from going up the hill. On the way we walked thru what looks to be planned as a fancy neighborhood which may have fallen on hard times. The neighborhood was laid out with cobblestone roads and light poles. There is an entrance gate, with a guard house. Only a few homes, standing empty. A concrete sidewalk goes up the hill!

We found a water tank which supplies the Town of Cuauhtémoc. From the concrete top of this tank, Little Mavicita captured the pics below.
Pano view from the tank
Do you see MsTioga a little right of center?

MsTioga waiting for us to return

Volcano from hill top

3PM - Moved Camp up the hill
We have moved our Camp to a place with a great view! MsTioga is in the neighborhood with few homes that we told you about before. The marine haze from earlier has lifted.

The pic below is a giant pano. When you click a 2nd time on it, the pic should open up really big requiring scrolling to see the whole thing!
Looking across the valley from our Cuauhtémoc Hill Camp

Monday, April 26, 2010

Camping in city

Camping in a city
Yesterday we made our Nite Camp right in the center of the City of Colima. Even though we have been doing stuff like this for several years, we still do not take camping in a city for granted. There is no law here in Mexico against sleeping in a vehicle. And nobody bothered us last nite. Just wonderful!

Yesterday being Sunday, the traffic around our Nite Camp was relatively light. Now it is Monday. MsTioga did not want to remain in the center of Colima because she suspected that normal traffic would return this morning.

Using our Garmin Nuvi GPS, we made our way out of Colima heading toward the northeast. This direction takes us in the general direction of where we want to go. We made a Breakfast Camp near a large hospital in the outskirts of Colima.

Double minded
It is a challenge being confident. Yesterday's confrontation with the Craigslist scammer knocked me over. Fortunately, I am an old guy with tons of experience. That experience taught that all things have resolution. All problems get resolved.

Early yesterday I thought that I had found my share rental in Jerusalem. When that share rental evaporated into a scam, I found myself thinking that I would never find a place to stay in Jerusalem. I drifted into being double minded. Uncertain. Worried.

Today I got hold of myself. Do I have doubts? You bet! However, I believe that things will work out. And so, I put doubts from my mind. No good being double minded!

3PM - Volcano of Fire!
As we headed out of the City of Colima, the skyline began to be filled by Volcán de Fuego [Volcano of Fire]. Little Mavicita almost went crazy and took a bunch of pics. Little Mavicita got her good friend MsTioga to go closer to the mysterious volcano.

We went up the hill of the Town of Cuauhtémoc and made our Nite Camp in an empty field with a view of the volcano. Using binoculars we are able to steam coming from volcano's caldera.
Volcano from highway

Volcano of Fire Nite Camp

Sunday, April 25, 2010

XM Radio antenna

XM Radio antenna
Our new XM Radio antenna is now installed! And this antenna is working great. We are getting the maximum "3 bars" strength! The cable goes from the antenna down thru MsTioga's forward vent.

The "Terk XM4 Antenna" was purchased online from Satellite Radio Superstore [link].
XM antenna

Jerusalem rental scam?
As you may know, I've been using CraigsList-Jerusalem to find a share rental for my stay in Israel. I thought that I had found one in a very nice neighborhood in the center of the city. Several emails went back and forth between myself and Jacob Hughes, the person offering me the share rental. However, after I filled out a Renter's Agreement and emailed it to Jacob, I became suspicious. Why would a share rental need sooooooo much information? Have I been too gullible? Too trusting?

Jacob became very insistent that I Western Union him a $450US deposit, using words like "ASAP" to urge me along. That was when a balked and asked Jacob to phone my Jerusalem friend Shimon.

It has been over two hours since I asked Jacob to phone Shimon in Jerusalem. So far, no phone call. I am wondering now if this was a scam to steal identity and obtain cash?

PS: As a result of this experience, this afternoon I purchased identity theft insurance.

5PM - City of Colima
Early this afternoon, MsTioga and The Team headed out from the lovely City of Manzanillo. We want to make our Nite Camp in the City of Colima. Nobody on The Team is able to recall ever being in Colima before.

Along the way we passed many trees that were blossoming flowers of gold. Little Mavicita took several pics of these trees, one of which is below for you to enjoy!

When we reached the Colima, we found a very large and modern city. MsTioga made her Nite Camp near what appears to be downtown, next to a nice park.
A tree with blossoms of gold

Saturday, April 24, 2010

No water

No water!
This morning on using a water faucet, no water came out. The usual sound of the fresh water pump was gone! What could have gone wrong? The water came out yesterday evening!

As you may know from doing your own maintenance, there is a procedure for checking stuff like this. First thing is the fuse which is clearly marked inside MsTioga's electric panel. The fuse looked good, but checking the fuse for continuity would not hurt. The fuse was definitely good.

Next thing to check was 12 volts DC to the water pump. Last time that I replaced this pump I'd put crimp connectors on the pump leads. So these leads had to be cut and stripped. Using the volt meter found that there was definitely 12 volts DC going to the pump.

The water pump appears to be bad. Wow! I just returned from California with a backup fresh water pump. And now the old water pump went bad? What are the odds!
New fresh water pump

Returned new glasses
I've just returned my new glasses to the Devlyn Opitcal store. The bifocal lenses focused for reading at only 10" from my face. Much too close! I am paying to change over to blended lenses.

However, the replacement glasses will not be ready until Monday, May 3rd. So, Devlyn is shipping the replacements to their store in the City of Queretaro for me to pick up. Queretaro is close to my destination of Tequisquiapan.

2PM - On the beach
We have made an Afternoon Camp just off the beach. The WalMart is behind this camp. It is a gorgeous day! A steady breeze comes in from the bay. Everything is perfect about this camp!
Manzanillo on the beach

9PM - Date nite!
Friday and Saturday are date nites in Mexico. Date nites here are different than what I remember them to be back in the 1950s!

MsTioga is camped in the center of a large empty field between two hotels. Alongside one hotel the young people gather. Many of the parked cars have doors open so that the radio speakers may play music. There is a lot of laughter and shouting. When I walk thru the young people, I am offered beer.

I parked in the center of this field because we are away from the partying. Here in the center of the field, the music is muffled because of the distance. For some unknown reason, all of the cars are grouped together. Nobody comes out to where MsTioga is camped.

It is our experience that this partying will go on way past midnite. Maybe past 2am!

Note: If you click on the Google Map link, you may see where our Nite Camp is located.

Friday, April 23, 2010

New inverter

Our new inverter
You may recall that during our California visit an Aims true sine wave inverter was received. Yesterday evening this Aims inverter was installed, and we are soooooo happy with it.

The inverter is so quiet compared to the old inverter. The fan only comes on when the inverter reaches 104°F, and apparently the inverter runs below this temperature. No fan means very quiet operation.

The battery for our Makita cordless drill needed charging. The charger runs almost silently with the Aims inverter. Also, the charger used to overload and reset constantly. Now, the charger stays on and re-charges the battery in minutes instead of an hour.

We do not know completely the difference between our older Xantrex modified sine wave inverter and our new Aims true sine wave inverter. But we sure like the way the Aims does its job!

8AM - Leaving Puerto Vallarta
Our Nite Camp near the malecon was great. Yesterday evening I went down the very steep stairs which lead to the many shops in this part of Puerto Vallarta. There was a small outdoor pasta restaurant that looked good. Some ladies eating there saw me looking, and said, "The food is really good!" So I went in and ordered spaghetti and meat balls. It came with garlic bread! Very good pasta for 65 pesos [$5.20US].

We might have liked to stay in this part of Puerto Vallarta another day, but we must be moving on. MsTioga and The Team have to reach Tequisquiapan in the State of Queretero by the second week in May in order to be in Mexico City for our airplane flight.

5PM - Camped in Manzanillo
MsTioga drove 158 miles today. All the way from Puerto Vallarta to Manzanillo. We really like the City of Manzanillo a lot. So, that is the reason we drove this huge distance to get here!

The first thing that we did was go to the Devlin Optical store to pick up the new glasses that were bought last month. These are bifocals, not progressive lenses as were the old glasses. I like them.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Back MsTioga

Back with MsTioga!
It is a wonderful thing to be home. Back with MsTioga! Yesterday afternoon, the taxi took me to La Peñita RV Resort. We found MsTioga to be a little dirty. Other than that, she is in excellent condition.

Right away Little Mavicita went to take a pic of where MsTioga has been waiting for one month for us to return. As you may see in the pic below, MsTioga is right at the edge of the jungle!
MsTioga's parking place at La Peñita

Note: The story below is what happened yesterday afternoon.

Mr. Dometic working fine
You may recall that when we departed Mexico last month, Mr. Dometic, our hard working refrigerator, was turned off. All of Mr. Dometic's foods were given away or trashed. The first thing that must be done now, is to restock Mr. Dometic so that we may be able to cook once again.

Leaving La Peñita RV Resort, we headed south toward Puerto Vallarta. We are looking for a nice market to do our shopping. The "Mega" store has a very large location in Bucerias, a bit north of Puerto Vallarta and we went to Mega to do our shopping.

Nite Camp and supper
Around 9:30pm yesterday, we finished shopping at the Mega store. MsTioga drove behind Mega, where there appeared to be a nice neighborhood for our Nite Camp.

Below is a pic of the supper that we prepared. A pork chop with fried potatoes. A salad of avocado and tomato. And a French bread biscuit with garlic butter on top. Son David likes to make French bread with garlic, and we got to love it!
Last nite's supper

10AM - Pickup computer bag
Last month when we were about to depart Mexico, Mr. HP decided that he would rather travel inside our flight bag, rather than his computer bag. So, we checked the computer bag into the Flamingo Vallarta Hotel where we stayed the nite.

This morning we pulled out of our Bucerias Nite Camp, drove to Puerto Vallarta and returned to the hotel to claim the bag. We may stay the nite in Puerto Vallarta in order to have time to wash MsTioga.

3PM - Near Malecon camp
After washing MsTioga, we went looking for a propane gas station. These stations are usually easy to find. However, we needed help this time. Some guys parked along the highway gave directions to go straight ahead to the church, then left several blocks.

After filling MsTioga's propane tank, we were thinking about heading south from Puerto Vallarta. Instead we decided to make a camp on a tiny cobble stone street near the malecon of Puerto Vallarta. There is a steep stairway just ahead of our camp that leads to the shops below! MsTioga has never been able to camp this close to the malecon before. Parking here is extremely difficult.
Near malecon Nite Camp

Note: Malecon is a walkway alongside the bay.