Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Flying Guatemala

5AM - Flying to Guatemala
We have made the decision to fly from Mexico City to Guatemala on February 8th. Although our reservation at the Uxlabil apartment hotel in Guatemala City is for a month, only a few days will likely be spent there. Advice from readers about Lake Atitlán [link] has us hoping to move there. We have a few places in mind to stay at the lake and will clue you in soon.

Our high priority item now is to find a nice place for MsTioga to stay while we are gone on our trip. Wouldn't it be great if MsTioga could stay inside a building?

6PM - Pete and Jimena's home
This afternoon was spent with Pete and Jimena at their lovely home that they built themselves acting as their own contractor. As you may recall, we published a bunch of pics and videos of the construction during last year.

It's been over a year since MsTioga and I have visited with them. New Mavicita took some pics to share with you.
Pete showing us his courtyard

Jorge & Jimena in the garden

Jimena shows an orange from her garden

Mostly cloudy

Monday, January 30, 2012

Short distance driving

6AM - Short distance driving
We left Puerto Vallarta last Friday morning. Now it is Monday morning. Over these three days, MsTioga has traveled only 245 miles. A perfect trip like this one requires short distance driving. Not all of you will be able to afford the luxury of short distance driving. We on the TiogaRV Team are retired from work and are able to take our time. If you are still working, the luxury of short distance driving is something to look forward to.

Analyzing 245 miles in three days means about 81 miles average each day. If you are driving 40 miles per hour, this means about two hours on-the-road each day. That is all MsTioga wants to travel in one day. Because we want to enjoy every moment of our drive. Actually, we have been on-the-road about 4 hours each of these 3 days. Naps and looking around account for the balance of our time.

When we first began vagabonding in 2003, we got used to short distance driving because there was not enough money to pay for gasoline. We had to limit our daily travel in order to keep gasoline purchases low. Now we can afford gasoline. But we still believe that short distance driving is the way-to-go!

Short distance = More camping
When we travel short daily distances, this means that we are Nite Camping more often during a trip. For us on TiogaRV Team, driving is wonderful. But camping is even better than driving. Seeing more places. Meeting more people. That's what it's all about!

Dry Camping vs RV Park camping
MsTioga and I published our very first blog post on May 14, 2003. Here is part of what we wrote:

We knew that we had to be "free-as-birds." That is how we came up with our motto: "Never pay rent !" Paying rent to park Tioga is against our religion. Here is what paying rent buys you:
1. Neighbors
2. Noise
3. Somebody elses RV 'bout 3 feet from your bedroom.

Tioga & George don't do RV camping. We are Vagabonders Supreme. We camp where we want to camp. We never pay rent. [link]

You already know about the two robberies, which are the reason that we are now staying so much in RV Campgrounds or hotels. So, we won't go into that again. But we have to confess to you that we've enjoyed many of the RV campgrounds where we stayed. There is no doubt that camping in a paid campground is easier than vagabonding on the street.

3PM - City of Irapuato
MsTioga has been searching in the City of Irapuato for a hotel to spend the nite. No luck. Looks as though we will be Nite Camping on-the-street again. We traveled about 100 miles today. I wanted to stop after only 50 miles. But everybody on The Team is anxious to arrive in Tequisquiapan and visit with Pete and Jimena. So, we kept moving on.

We actually traveled thru 3 Mexican states today. Began in Jalisco. Entered Michoacan for about 10 minutes. And are now in the State of Guanajuato.

4PM - Nite Camp
We are still in the same neighborhood as our 3pm post. Looking at Google Earth, we saw a place that looked like a park a short distance away. However, when we drove there, it turned out to be a big piece of tree covered private property. We decided to make our Nite Camp across the street from this property.

Behind MsTioga is a fairly large military base. If you look at our Nite Camp location, you'll get a better idea of where we are now. When we look at the Google Map's street view photos of this exact location, the entire neighborhood looks much better maintained than right now. It may be that the economic downturn really affected this neighborhood.

Very cloudy

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Double mind

8AM - Double mind
Our tentative decision to stay in the Uxlabil apartment/hotel in Guatemala City has brought quite a few comments from Readers. Mostly from Readers who believe this decision to be wrong. However, we on the Tioga RV Team feel that for us to vacillate and be double minded about decisions is worse than making a wrong decision.

When we are actually in Guatemala, there should be plenty opportunity to look around first hand. Then we can move around the country according to our actual experiences.

12 Noon - Periferico
The word "periferico" in Spanish means "periphery." MsTioga has traveled thru the great City of Guadalajara enough to know that the periferico road is much better to take than the highway going thru the center of the city. Even though the highway thru city center looks shorter on the map in our Guia-Roji atlas of Mexico, it is not a good way to go. Unless you like tense moments driving an RV in heavy traffic.

We have pulled off the periferico and are in a dirt lot alongside the highway. There is room to park here because it is Sunday. Lots of places to park on Sunday.

Our little Garmin Nuvi GPS is very helpful when traveling thru Guadalajara. It is easy to get confused going thru the giant city.

2PM - Hustling for a living
I've been living in Mexico part and full-time for 8+ years. Nearly all Mexican people that I've met know that they must hustle to eat and pay the rent. When I use hustling, I mean working hard and fast.

As MsTioga went thru the Tonala section of Guadalajara, we saw mile after mile of Mexicans hustling to sell stuff. Spread out on the ground was everything from pans to tires. People selling nuts. Candies. Tamales. Chairs they made themselves. Giving away coupons for restaurant promotions. Anything and everything was being sold here.

If you get the idea that I am partial to the industriousness of the Mexican people, you are right. I am. Most kids here in Mexico do not live the pampered life that I led when I was a child. Kids in Mexico are expected to share the load. Many Mexican kids learn to work in the fields, all day long, under the hot Sun! Or hustle with their parents here in Guadalajara.
Hustling in Guadalajara!

5PM - Nite Camped in Atotonilco
It's like from the Bible. No room at the inn. Or in Señorita Tioga's case, not enough parking space at any of the Atotonilco hotels. We asked several people for help. Señorita Tioga is just too long. So, we have Nite Camped on the street.

We believe that the Town of Atotonilco is safe. I guess we will find out by tomorrow morning just how safe it is here!

MsTioga at 141,000 miles!
By the way, MsTioga wants you to know that her odometer crossed over 141,000 miles today. When we first met MsTioga in February, 2003, her odometer read 53,746 miles. So, we have traveled 87,254 miles together in nine years!

Mostly cloudy

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fan clutch

4:30AM - Fan clutch
For several weeks an unidentified sound has come from MsTioga's engine. This sound is intermittent. Only is heard for a second, and then stops. Yesterday MsTioga had to climb thru some mountains that topped out at 1800 meters. MsTioga's engine got pretty hot during that climb. This overheating is unusual. MsTioga's cooling system has only overheated in the past when something is not right.

This morning it came to me that perhaps the unidentified sound and overheating problem are related. Maybe the fan clutch is failing or has failed?

Central America update
Is the planning stage of an adventure exciting for you? It sure is for me!

A couple of days ago I stumbled upon a website of the Uxlabil apartment/hotel in Guatemala City [link]. Although this website is published in Spanish, your browser should be able to translate to English.

Uxlabil is quoting a month's stay for $568US! I know that this price seems remarkably low. And it is low. However, the location in Guatemala City is a good one. I am really thinking very hard about going for it!

7AM - Weng
I am glad to see that Weng's blog readership is climbing. January will bring over 8,000 visits to Weng's "Mail Order Bride" blog. Weng has been publishing every day lately. It's fun to blog!

Click on "Read Weng" link to the right of this post.

9AM - Breakfast Camp
This is the first time MsTioga and I have traveled the Mascota road from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara. In past years we've always traveled south before turning east. Usually to visit Manzanillo or some other place further south of Puerto Vallarta.

This Mascota road is a slow one for MsTioga. Many twists and turns. Many ups and downs. We have traveled thru some pine covered forests on this trip when MsTioga climbed high enough for those trees to thrive.

The Mascota road seems to us to be "back country" Mexico. When we drove thru the Pueblo of Mascota, it was like traveling back in time 100 years. From cobble stone streets to the adobe walled buildings.

We have made a Breakfast Camp alongside the highway. Even way out here, the little Banda Ancha Telcel stick is able to get us on to the net!
Breakfast Camp along Mascota road to Guadalajara

2PM - MsTioga overheating report
Whatever has been causing MsTioga's overheating over the past several weeks, went away today! There were no strange sounds, and the temperature gauge never went over mid-point. Wow! Very odd.

If there was going to be overheating, this would have been the day for it. We traveled thru two passes of 1800 meters each in the Sierra Madre Occidental range. When MsTioga is climbing like this, she only goes about 25 miles/hour. We might be able to go faster, but that would mean really punching it.

3PM - Posadas Magnolia Hotel
When those two robberies hit the TiogaRV Team on our way south in Mexico this year, we had no clue how much we would be affected. We rarely camp on the street anymore as we used to do in years gone by. We on the TiogaRV Team must adjust to our changing environment!

When we arrived in the City of Ameca, we asked if there is a campground here. Since there is no campground, the easiest place to stay the nite is a hotel. But not in a hotel room.We want to camp inside MsTioga where we are so comfortable!

We came to the Posadas Magnolias Hotel which has a big piece of property that extends away from the highway. We like our quiet! At first the hotel wanted to charge us 600 pesos, the price of a hotel room. But we countered with, "But we are only parking!" The hotel re-countered with 400 pesos. And we countered back with 200 pesos. We finally settled on 300 pesos. For that we get water and electricity too.

If you want to check out our location, click on "Nite Camp Location", below. Remember that MsTioga is the "green" arrow.
Jorge and MsTioga at Posadas Magnolias Hotel

Clear sky

Friday, January 27, 2012


9AM - Warning!
My friend Jonna lives in Merida, Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula. In her blog, Jonna describes the Dengue fever that she is suffering. Not knowing what Dengue is, I looked it up. It's a tropical mosquito borne disease.

Oh my God! Is Dengue prevalent in Guatemala City where I am going? I looked it up in Google. Yes! Dengue is prevalent in Guatemala City! For an instant I was frightened! Then I wondered if Dengue is right here where I am in Puerto Vallarta. Yes! Dengue is here in Puerto Vallarta! Dengue is also in Miami, Florida and a lot of other places too.

Last year as I was driving around in Northern California, I observed that there are posted a lot of new signs that warned, "Tsunami Hazard Zone. In case of earthquake, go to high ground or inland". Hmmmm? How am I to going to keep track of this warning?

Any day now I expect to read a new warning that reads:
Warning: Bad news for food users!

1PM - Going toward Guadalajara
MsTioga pulled out of our camp at Tacho's RV Park in Puerto Vallarta. We are heading toward the big City of Guadalajara. The highway that we have been traveling on goes up several hundred meters then down several hundred meters. Up and down. Up and down. I needed a nap and MsTioga needed a rest.

We came to a sign that stated, "Rest stop ahead". We pulled in and I am resting at a place where somebody is selling land. There are seven lots for sale way out in the middle of nowhere!

If you want to see where MsTioga is resting, click [here].

4PM - Staying in hotel
MsTioga came to the Town of Mascota. There is an old hotel there named "La Puerta De Enmedio". We thought maybe to rent space for MsTioga in the spacious yard. The cost for space is 200 pesos and the cost for a room is 300 pesos. So, we took the room!

The grounds of the hotel are actually quite nice. From the kitchen of our room we see the expanse of lawn and the pond.
View of garden from kitchen door

Clear sky

Thursday, January 26, 2012


7AM - Tacho's RV Park
Yesterday we stumbled upon Tacho's RV Park, and decided to stay here. Tacho's is located not too far from the Puerto Vallarta WalMart. Would you believe there are TWO WalMarts here in Puerto Vallarta! However, even though Tacho's is close to PV's shopping, this is a relatively quiet place. Especially quiet at nite for sleeping!

There are many people staying the whole winter here at Tacho's. My next door neighbor is from Quebec and he is staying four months. The rent to stay for a month is 8000 pesos. $616US at today's exchange rate.
Tioga and Jorge at Tacho's

8AM - The plan!
Several Readers have written asking questions about our Central and South America trip plan. The thing about the "plan", is that there is no plan! Not really, anyway.

Have you noticed in the past that MsTioga and I just sort of wander around? We don't really want to know where we are going. Because we want to be surprised when we get there.

There are so many possible alternatives for the Central and South America adventure, that it boggles our collective mind.

We may decide to only visit Guatemala this winter and drive MsTioga there. We could do the bus thing as we wrote about earlier. Or, we might visit all of Central America this winter and fly back to MsTioga from Panama. Or, we may travel all over Central and South America and be gone for two years!

A challenge
Thinking about a trip like this one is quite a challenge. All sorts of negative things pop into the head. For example, our life living inside MsTioga is so comfortable. Why consider giving that comfort up for even a moment and go live in hotels?

Readers write about people they know who have gotten sick on the food in Central America. We have received stories about travelers who got their backpack's stolen in a bus station. And about being squished into an over crowded chicken bus with hardly enough room to even breathe!

The good thing about a trip like this one is that is that everything is up-in-the-air. We could fly from Mexico to any city in Central or South America and just explore to our heart's content. Then return to MsTioga whenever we wished.

10AM - My two sons
I've not written here about my two sons in awhile. However, I think about them both every single day. For me, the story of my two sons is a tragedy. My son David ended his own life in 2010, one day before his 46th birthday.

My youngest son does want me to write about him by name in my blog. For the passed couple of months, my youngest son is not talking to me. Maybe this is best. For some reason that I cannot explain, whatever I say to him is mis-interpreted and makes him angry. I do not want to cause him anguish, so I stay out of his life.

The story of both my sons is a lesson for us all. We are capable of creating our own reality inside our minds. If we choose to create a negative reality filled with doom and gloom, so it will be. If we choose to believe that anything is possible for us to achieve, so this will be.

Just because we believe things will be great for us, does not mean that life will be easy. We may struggle against great obstacles. But if we keep our eyes on our goal, eventually we come out on the bright side of life. We just cannot ever give up.

My son David gave up. Those who loved him, do not know why he gave up. Now, David is only a memory. He is a pic on my blog. A pic leaning against MsTioga's chair.
George and David in the kitchen
November 01, 2009

Blue sky

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Plan change

7AM - Plan change
Yesterday the lady who owns the RV storage building told me that MsTioga would be staying in a very humid environment and would be subjected to mold infestation. She advised, "Wash the interior with a mild bleach solution to avoid coming back to a big mess!" Wow!

We decided that MsTioga would not enjoy a humid environment. What to do? We had a Team Meeting and decided that MsTioga would be better in a place well away from the ocean. Some place in a high elevation. Some place like Tequisquiapan in the State of Queretaro!

So, we continued south and spent the nite in the City of Puerto Vallarta. When we arrived here it was getting dark. We were not able to find an RV park and camped on the street in a place where we Nite Camped several times before. Yes, after the two robberies we decided not to do this street camping anymore. But we had to make an exception.

By the way. This is the very first time that we have been in Puerto Vallarta when there was not even one cruise ship anchored in the harbor.
Creek below our Puerto Vallarta Nite Camp

1PM - RV Park
MsTioga is camped in an RV Park in Puerto Vallarta. If you want to see where we are, click on "Nite Camp Location" below.

Our camp is in a shady spot. Good thing too! Because it is 83 degrees outside.

Clear sky

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Central and South America Adventure

12 Midnite - Great Central and South America Adventure!
Who knows how fates conspire to create our destiny? Is it God? Angels? Spirits of loved ones passed on? Whatever or whoever it is, seems to be sitting on my shoulder pointing my way forward.

Who arranged for Bill and Carol Asirimarco [RVing pioneers to Central and South America] to be here with me at this particular moment in time? When I visited Bill and Carol this morning and asked their opinion of my proposed bus trip thru Central and South America, they both thought that this was a wonderful idea!

Bill advised that it would not be good to drive MsTioga into the Andes Mountains! The Andes would be too much for MsTioga because the highway goes up and down often traversing several thousand feet in elevation from valley to to mountain top. Much better, Bill said, to take a bus which would free me from driving and allow me to view the scenery along my trip.

1AM - When will this trip begin?
You may be wondering, "When will our Great Adventure trip to Central and South America begin?"

The answer is: Today!

That is right! Today the rent that we paid to stay at El Chaco's RV Park is all used up. Time to move on. We will be heading south to La Peñita RV Resort in order to talk to the people who own the resort and RVers who are staying there.

It is our understanding that many RVers who stay at La Peñita Resort store their RV close-by during the off season. This RV storage place must be very secure. Extremely important for MsTioga to be in a safe place while her Team Members who are going on this great adventure trip are gone.

Clear nite sky