Saturday, December 31, 2011

New year2


Good bye 2011
Well, for me 2011 was so much better than 2010, that I cannot even make a comparison. 2010 was the year that sucked! The year my Son David died. You followed that tragedy here in my blog. You were with me day by day while David was missing. You were here with me on that fateful day when the policeman walked up to me and said, "I have some bad news!"

You were with me in 2011 too. This was my grieving year. And the grieving is over. Thank God for that!

Tonite at midnite begins the new year. 2012! We do not know what this new year will bring to each of our lives. Right now 2012 is filled with promise. Because we are "cup half full people". We approach our future with an optimistic heart. Anxious for our new year adventure to begin.

However, lurking in our memory is the knowing that anything can happen. So, we are more reserved than before. Yet thru all those memories, we still believe that 2012 will bring us bright and wonderful days. That belief is our faith. Yes faith! What a wonderful thing it is to have faith. Surmounting bad experience and making our hearts be like children's hearts again.

10AM - Waiting for the wood
Javier the carpenter has promised to deliver the wood for the battery compartment this morning. But, he may arrive this afternoon. No rush.

Early this morning the last two batteries were moved to the dining room table for cleaning. Now all of the batteries are ready for new battery box.
Last two batteries are now clean

5PM - The rest of the story!
A lot has happened today. It is now 5pm. Good time to tell you the rest of the story.

Javier the carpenter actually brought the wood to the El Chaco RV park at 8am. But he could not find me? He walked around shouting, "Jorge!". I did not hear him. So he went away. This afternoon another RVer staying at the park asked me, "A man was here looking for you around 8am. Did he find you?".

By that time it was 2pm. Bill drove me in his car to Javier's home. The two Carols went along for the ride. When we got there, Javier's wife told us that he was on the job, but he would return soon for lunch and then bring the boards out to El Chaco.

About 3:30pm, Javier showed up with the boards. I paid him 500 pesos, and he went off to work on a house that he is building.

After Javier left, I measured the boards. Some of them are a bit too short and some a bit too thick. Wow! Two boards will have to be remade. What a shame. Tomorrow I'll go back and show Javier what I need to do this job and have him determine the sizes necessary.

Sometimes things go two steps forward then one step backward.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Battery compartment repairs

8AM - Battery compartment repairs
Yesterday an appointment was made with Javier the carpenter who lives in the Pueblo of Aticama. The plywood for the battery compartment repairs should be ready for pick up now. However, while talking with Javier this morning, it soon became clear that he wanted to sell solid lumber instead of plywood.

It turns out that 3/4" plywood must be picked up in the City of Tepic. But Javier has a really neat log mill right there in the shop behind his home! I was very surprised to see a piece of equipment like this! Javier has a very  well equipped shop.

I changed my wood order to be made from a milled log instead of plywood. Javier is going to bring the wood to me tomorrow and deliver it to where MsTioga is camped at El Chaco.

9AM - Cleaning battery compartment
When you looked at the pic of Mr. Sunny's battery compartment yesterday, I  bet you thought that it was a terrible black colored mess. And it was! However, although the black mess was battery acid residue, none of that battery acid actually went down thru MsTioga's linoleum.

Upon inspection of the wood flooring below the linoleum, we found no sign of battery acid contamination. All of the damage to MsTioga's floor came from the batteries banging on the floor as we traveled down bumpy roads.

Fleetwood used very inexpensive composite plywood for the floor. If regular grade plywood had been used instead, the floor would have likely held up. As it was, the floor did last about nine years before this damage occurred.
Linoleum after cleanup

10AM - Cable and battery maintenance
Since all of the cables had to be removed in order to rebuild the battery compartment, this was a good time to give the cable ends a good cleaning. It's been at least three years since the last time all the batteries were removed. So, the cable ends had some corrosion build up. A wire brush was used to clean the copper cable ends shiny bright. All the batteries were cleaned too.

The pic below shows the batteries after cleaning. These batteries are being used to power MsTioga's 12 volt DC system.
Temporary 12 volt DC system setup


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Flyboy Chip2

9AM - Flyboy Chip is back!
This morning MsTioga began rocking. Was there an earthquake? Or was somebody messing with MsTioga? I went outside to see what was going on, and there was Flyboy Chip! He has returned to Mexico!

Chip has been rocking MsTioga for years in order to make me think that there is an earthquake.

We talked for awhile to catch up on stuff. Then Chip left to go south for a New Year party. He will return in a week to stay at Paradise Resort [next door to El Chaco]. Chip will remain here for the winter. Of course he brought his ultra-light aircraft with him and he will be cruising the sky.

10AM - MsTioga feels safe now
This month is going to be the largest visitor month for the Tioga-George website this year! The excitement of entering Mexico brought you back to our website a lot.

MsTioga and I were talking about that this morning. She feels pretty safe here at El Chaco. Both of us were wondering what you thought about that? Now that things have settled down and the excitement of entering Mexico along with the two robberies is over, are you going to be interested in what we are doing?

11AM - Solar battery compartment failure!
We were doing some routine maintenance in MsTioga's driver's side rear storage area. Lubricating the slide out drawer, cleaning; that kind of stuff. We were very shocked to see a large amount of damage to MsTioga's floor at the rear of the solar battery compartment!

It appears that battery acid has eaten away at the floor. All of Mr. Sunny's deep cycle batteries are sitting in their own individual plastic battery tray. So, it appears as though one of those battery trays is leaking. Wow!

Until the battery compartment is completely disassembled, we will not know what is required to rebuild the damaged floor. But we are thinking that at the minimum, a new plywood floor should be installed over the damaged floor.

In the pic below, it is easy to see the acid damage to the plywood battery box. This damage is bad, but not crucial. The real damage which is hard to see in this pic, was done to MsTioga's floor which is caved in at least 2". Acid damage cannot be seen from underneath MsTioga. Not yet. But from the looks of things, the floor's damage will go completely thru if the rebuilding is not done soon.
Battery acid damage

Solar battery inspection
During the first years of our journey, the battery bank was disassembled once each year for cleaning and inspection. However, this proved difficult for me. The batteries are heavy. It was difficult for my aging body to move those batteries around. So, the battery bank has not been disassembled for at least three years.

But with this failure, disassembly is not an option. All of the solar batteries must be removed. I am going now to buy the plywood necessary for doing the repairs. The battery box will be replaced and a new plywood floor laid over the damaged RV floor.

There is no doubt that I will need help with those batteries. That should not be a problem here in Mexico.

3PM - Supper
My supper was sooooo good today! This was a scratch supper. Nothing packaged or canned. Some kind of fish, don't recall what kind. Rice, fried squash and a salad.
Scratch supper

4PM to 7PM - Getting the batteries out
The Tioga RV Team had a meeting, and decided to get the batteries out this afternoon. And by ourselves too! With no help from anybody!!

It was clear as soon as the desktop above was removed and we had a better view of the battery bank, that two of the batteries in the back row had dropped almost three inches. This meant that entire floor in that area had failed. Readers who guessed that the terrible road to Kino Bay was at least partly responsible for this failure are probably correct.

Fortunately, there is good existing flooring under the right most battery and good flooring to the left of the battery box. We have ordered  a 3/4" plywood board that will span the failed floor and sit on the good flooring. This 3/4" board will provide a new floor for the entire battery bank.

In the first pic below, New Mavicita has captured a view that shows the dirty, rotten filthy mess that is now our battery bank. This entire area must be cleaned up and the battery acid neutralized before the new plywood floor is installed.

The second pic shows the temporary location of the battery bank. We hooked up two of the batteries together in series and used a battery jumper cable to connect these batteries to MsTioga's 12 volt DC circuit. This should keep our lights and other 12 volt items powered up.
Horrible battery compartment mess

Temp battery bank location

Clear sky

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cancer survivor

6AM - Cancer survivor
I was online reading a list of celebrities who passed during 2011. One of them was a young man who died from non-Hodgkins lymphoma. This is the same cancer that I survived.

For some unexplained reason I went to Google and searched for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. I found a page that described long term survival rates for this disease. The current 10-year survival rate for persons with the same conditions that I had is 51%.

I keep a medical record log describing all of my doctor's visits going back to 1993. This log is kept in my old leather bound Franklin planner. I got the Franklin down from its shelf in MsTioga's bedroom and flipped back to the time when my fight with cancer began. It was December 24, 2001 when I began chemotherapy. That was ten years ago!

This week I am a ten year cancer survivor! Wow! Double wow with sugar on it!

12 Noon - Back at El Chaco restaurant
MacBook Pro and I have returned to El Chaco restaurant. A cool breeze comes thru the restaurant. Much more comfortable here than inside MsTioga who stays in the Sun for the solar panels.

I also enjoy the social interaction at the restaurant. So many nice people to talk with! But the main attraction is the WiFi hot spot here. As you may know, I am an internet junky!

1PM - Are you a Weng fan?
If you are like me, you are a Weng fan! Recently, with my encouragement, Weng has returned to posting on her blog again! And we on the TiogaRV Team are soooooo happy about that! Because we love the way Weng writes and the stories she tells about her life.

Do you see Weng's pic off to the right in this blog? Where it says, "Read Weng"? Click on Weng's pic and the link will take you to her latest blog post.

3PM - Masthead fun!
You may not have noticed that MacBook and I have changed our blog's masthead a few times over the past few weeks. We are sneaky guys!

It is so much fun to play around with pics. Only recently I figured out how to change a pic so that it fits a masthead space without being too tall. I knew that it could be done. My old time friend, Mike at "Light Curve On The Road" [link] has been doing it for years. But Mike is a genius at online imaging.

MacBook and I are coming on fast though!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New year

6AM - A new year is near
In a few days, the year 2011 will pass away. Much of 2011 is just a blur in my memory. When I was talking with Francisco a few days ago, he mentioned my coming to Aticama last spring. I could not recall my being here. Bill and Carol remembered me being here too. Why don't I remember?

I believe that the answer to this question has to do with David. 2011 is my first full year without David. Last spring I was still completely messed up by David's passing. I had pretty much lost my focus. I was groping for direction. It took me much of 2011 to get my emotions stabilized.

Awhile back I recall sitting inside MsTioga. I noticed that she was dirty. Her door was grimy. Dust had accumulated everywhere. The carpet must not have been swept for a very long time. That was the end of my grieving time. MsTioga is all cleaned up now!

Are you surprised to read these words? Did it seem to you that I was doing alright much earlier? Well, back then I knew that I had to keep moving forward. I knew that all I needed to do was to keep traveling along and that one day I would be myself again.

And here I am! Isn't it a beautiful day? Hmmmm?.
Tioga and Jorge in Aticama

9AM - Crocodiles!
New Mavicita and I have been invited by Bill and Carol to go on the crocodile cruise. Just up the road a few miles toward San Blas, the mangrove swamps begin. We will be escorted in a boat thru the jungle swamp to view the wild life living there. Birds, turtles and of course, the crocodiles! Pretty neat, huh?
Largest croc we saw!


Monday, December 26, 2011

Blog vs book

6AM - Blog vs book
The Tioga-George blog next year will be nine years old. If my writing were in the form of a book, it could last forever. There are books published by authors who died hundreds of years ago. And those books remain available. Perhaps in libraries. Perhaps covered with a layer of dust. But they remain.

What happens to my blog after I die? Does a blog just remain available for whoever wants to read it? Is a blog forever? When the year 2525 comes, will my Tioga-George blog still be read?

Something to think about! Is publishing a blog the equivalent of immortality? Hmmmm?

12 Noon - El Chaco restaurant
MacBook and I are over at El Chaco restaurant where there is WiFi access. Our Telcel modem stick sometimes is not able to logon to the network in this location. So, we come over to the restaurant.

The restaurant is very nice looking. The chairs are covered with leather. The atmosphere in the open-air restaurant is very tropical. We love that!

I ordered breaded and fried fish for lunch. The waitress just brought my order!
Jorge and MacBook at El Chaco


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas party

Christmas party
The family who owns El Chaco where MsTioga is camping had a Christmas party for their family and friends. RVers staying at El Chaco were invited. So, just after sundown our RVing friends Bill, the two Caroles and John and myself went over there to see what was happening.

The party was setup outdoors about 100 feet behind where MsTioga is camping. There were a bunch of plastic chairs scattered around for party guests. A pig had been butchered for the Christmas party. A few guys who work at El Chaco were busy preparing chicharones [fried pork skin]. Some of the pork was prepared for early guest arrivals and was fried in oil in a portable fryer setup on a stack of concrete blocks.

The most interesting thing at the party was a trio of singing Huicholes who were brought from Tepic to provide music entertainment. The Huicholes were dressed in their colorful clothes. The music that they played sounded like southern bluegrass. This music group played from 6pm and except for very short breaks played until 4am the following morning.

All of the RVers left the party after a couple of hours. The family who put on the party did not arrive much later. Perhaps 11pm. And I did not get to sleep until after 4am when the music finally stopped.
Huichol trio - pic by Carol

Weng and Francisco's story [Continued]
I was going to continue to tell you about  the story of Weng and Francisco. But then I got to thinking that actually, Weng and/or Francisco should be doing that telling.

I have re-posted Weng's pic on my blog. It is actually a pic/link to her blog. As you may read, Weng comments on my writing about her and Francisco.

However, I will make one last comment about Francisco's Jackfruit farm. The Jackfruit trees have been planted. There are two orchards and they both are doing well.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Simple life3

A simple life
My Father's name was Daniel. He was an excellent tool engineer. When I was a boy, he told me to find the simplest way to do things. Of course my Father's advice concerned manufacturing. That was his focus.

Somehow I was blessed with being able to find a simple way to live. When the great watershed moment in my life arrived in 2003, I took my Father's advice and applied it to creating my new vagabonding life. You have read about my quest for "T-shirt and short pants weather". This is an example of a decision which helped create a simple life for me. When MsTioga and I are in "T-shirt and short pants weather", we don't need an air-conditioner. No air-conditioner means a huge generator is not necessary. .

A simple life is not an easy thing for me to maintain. Small changes carelessly made, may bring complications to the life of the TiogaRV Team! That is why you often read here about me tussling with myself.

Recent tussling examples:
  • Mexican tourist permit vs Mexican immigrant permit
  • Mexican bank account
These examples are complicated because of what goes on in our World today. The ramifications of small changes carelessly made in today's increasingly complicated World, may greatly affect our simple life. Fortunately by publishing about that tussling here in my blog, I receive a lot of feedback from Readers. And very valuable is that feedback for me!
Jorge this morning - La Playa Matanchen

Weng and Francisco's story [continued]
Yesterday we left off with the 2006 housing collapse hitting Weng and Francisco's dream hard. But we want to make sure that you understand that dream! Their dream is to live permanently in the Pueblo of Aticama in their hilltop home. This would be an easy dream to achieve if Weng and Francisco had been blessed with loads of cash. But fate did not work that way for them. They had to scrimp and scratch for every dollar.

So, year after year, Weng and Francisco worked in Portland, Oregon during the Spring, Summer and Fall months. Then in the Winter they would pack up and journey to their beloved Pueblo of Aticama. If it had been a good working year, perhaps the family was able to spend three months at hilltop home. However, if the year was hard as was 2011, the family could not make that journey.

Francisco earned his living by getting construction projects. Weng earned her money doing gardening. Everything that Weng and Francisco earned was put into hilltop home. That home is their savings account. That home is their future!

Yesterday I wrote that Francisco is an enterprising man. This is a BIG understatement! It likely became clear to Francisco sometime around 2009 or 2010 that the money that he needed to finally settle his family in Aticama could not be saved up. Francisco was in his late 50s now. His time was getting shorter. He would have to figure out how to earn money while living in Mexico. But how could that be done?

That's when Francisco came up with the idea of buying land in Aticama and growing fruit trees. Have you ever heard of jackfruit? Enormous, green and prickly on the outside.

More to follow....