I spent the entire month in El Golfo de Santa Clara licking my wounds from the Canada experience (2001:August).
I need a dentist. A good one. Wasted February and March with an expert in Scottsdale and another one in Tucson. In the meantime decay grew fast. Next time I do not wait for en expert. Did you know that you can buy do-it-yourself, temporary fillings at Wal-Mart?
Meandering towards Atlanta to meet with a woman friend from San Jose. New Mexico was pretty but I did not stop long enough to see it all and it was still a bit cold. Texas is a bore. Finally made it to Livingston, home of the Escapees. Got my Texas Driver's license and the registration and inspection for my RV. Now everything matches to my Livingston address. They still mail driver's license so I am waiting for it to show up.
Just over the border into Alabama and ran into a hailstorm. This is a new experience for me. The hail pelted the RV until all of the plastic on the roof and a few other things were all broken. Signs and trees were down. Weeds and trees stripped of their leaves. Everything is a mix of glistening emerald green and white. The next day I have poison ivy rash all over my arms and face -- and I never left the RV.
Saw my woman friend. This was a negative experience for both of us so it will not recur. I always needed her more than she needed me. Reminds me of the Bobby McGee song: Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose. She was mad at me for some strange reason. It was she who did not show up at the Home Depot as arranged. It was she who did not call for 3 days while I stayed nearby. When I found a park I could afford she came up for 20 minutes. I offered to return but she cancelled that.
So from Atlanta, I went up to Tennessee and stayed for a couple of weeks in RV parks just outside of Knoxville. Then on to the Smoky Mountains for a nice hike in the park.
Saw Tom and Kim and family in the Raleigh area. They have a beautiful home. I discovered that I was seriously underpaid in Santa Clara. I saw Susie and her family and some other friends. Had a great time. They have a really nice home on a little lake/pond.
Went from North Carolina to Ohio through a confusing number of crossings of state lines including Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky.
Meandered up to Michigan to get my RV repaired and see family. Really depressing. The Borso farm is up for sale. I have lost track of Tina and Margie. Chuck was somewhere around Chicago. Steve died a few years ago and Bill lives across the street. I talked with his wife for a few minutes. I never knew where Karen went and I think Dave is somewhere near Santa Barbara. But that chapter is closed I think. They meant so much to me but I dropped out when I got married and certainly when I moved out west.
I saw my mother's brother's wife, Marie, for a few hours and went to dinner with some of the cousins. They are what family means to me: the love and sharing was not found when I was young.
Camping World has estimated the hail damage at $7400. The insurance will pay $7100. Close. Good enough. But now the logistics will keep me from taking the RV to my high school reunion on the 13th of July. CW will not order the parts until they have authorization and the CW FAX machine was down when I rode my bike to town. I mailed the authorization. I have to be out of the RV park on the 2nd of July. I think I can keep my share of the RV cost to $500.
The RV park is nice but like many really in the boonies.
The insurance company will pay for a motel room while the RV is being repaired. I shall rent a car and drive to the reunion. That takes the pressure off of the calendar. I am really looking forward to returning to Mexico.
Until my roof parts come in I am wondering around Michigan. Almost made it to Mackinac. Stopped at Gaylord north of Houghton Lake. I hope the parts are ready by Monday, July 8. Even then I need to rent a car to Wisconsin since the dealer says they need the RV for a week.
July 13-15: Wauwatosa (Milwaukee) for my high school reunion.
Until the end of July, the roof is fixed. Lousy job: everything the mechanic touched he broke or if he did not touch it, he should have. Frustrated and angry, I move across to Wisconsin and stay up by the Dells to figure out just what is wrong. The Dish wiring is whipping in the breeze, the solar panel does not work, the roof leaks, the side gutter is curved causing it to overflow. And I find spare parts for the Dish antenna under my seat: he could not make it work so he left it. To think I went out of my way to find a Camping World.
I stop in Denver at the Camping World there. They fix some things. The antenna needs a new part and the solar is not fixable here.
I made it across the West with no major incidents. I pass through Utah. I stop at one of the ruins of the Japanese detention camps. Interesting but just desert now. Other camps were in better condition. I cross Nevada. Nevada really likes to gamble. They even do it with their highway markers. Here is how you play the game. You are on a highway. You know its number and the direction. You approach an intersection with another highway. They tell you what that highway number is. You come to the intersection. The only signs indicate arrows to some of the local towns. You do not know the towns. You guess and pick a direction. If you are lucky you remember from the map and the intersection matches the map. If you are lucky, that is. You pick the direction and sure enough about a block down there is a highway marker: you guessed right. If you are not so lucky, you guessed wrong and have to figure out how to turn around in the RV and try again.
Oh to be back in California where things make sense.
I end up at my favorite Thousand Trails camp ground in Morgan Hill. The Camping World here fixes the remainder of the problems without pain.
I see Megan. I buy her a new computer. Windows XP is sure an improvement over the previous releases. Nevertheless, It takes 2 days to get it so that it will not power down. It is easy; just install the drivers that came with 98 software. They do not back out and by the time you know you have a problem, there are 16 hours of updates from Microsoft and you do not want to go back.
I go down to the coast near Monterey and tear my muffler off on a hairpin turn. It takes a day to get it wired back on. I stop at Morgan Hill and get it fixed and on Wednesday, the 18th, head up to Megan's for some last minute tweaking of her new PC. I arrive at night and on the 19th, Thursday, I park the RV by the Bulk Mail Center in Richmond, near the San Isabel Park, and bike/BART up to Megan's. It is about 6:30 am and when I get there. She is at work. I need more CDs so I BART/bike back to the RV. I leave again for Megan's at 9:30am, have lunch on the way and spend the day at her house. She comes home about 4:00; we talk, and at 6:00pm return to the RV. Only the RV is gone. I dial 911 and end up with the Richmond Police. No, they did not tow it. It has been stolen. I mean the whole RV is gone.
You have to understand, this is not like your car being stolen. It is like walking home from work and seeing grass growing where your house and garage were in the morning. Everything is gone. I now own: the clothes on my back, my bicycle, my knapsack, and some computer things. Everything else is history. My clothes, food, comforts of home, everything. The one thing that immediately hits me hard is that all of the pictures of my kids growing up are gone. My computer is gone.
Because of the earlier roof repairs and the awning repair, American Modern cancelled my insurance. I did not know you got cancelled for comprehensive claims, but they did. I signed up with GMAC. They wanted low numbers and I had gotten such a deal on my RV that the price was low numbers. They also wrote only $2000 for personal property and told me to increase it when I got the policy. Until then they did not know what to charge for it. I write up my personal inventory, it comes to $25,000. If I am lucky I shall get $2000 back. Then there is the RV: I priced them across the country. I found one just like mine for $67,000. This sounds about right. I paid $63,500 for mine. Or at least that is the number that I remember. But then there are taxes and license and fees and extended warrantee and I do not remember what else. The total bill was closer to $68,000 but the GMAC girl wanted only purchase price and specifically did not want all that. I even told her that the sticker was $84,500. I am sure I shall need a lawyer to get anything responsible back.
Now it is the middle October. I have been at Megan's for 3 weeks. No word from the Richmond police. But then they said they do not even try: they take the report and wait to see if anything shows up.
The Insurance claims person took a week off and then did not return my calls last week. I shall try on Monday.
The one loss that is painful is that my CPAP machine is stolen. I cannot sleep without my CPAP machine. MY friend Sheldon from Siemens is not using his and has loaned it to me. Great. There is a history here. When I left Siemens, I took a leave of absence and then retired. The Siemens Benefits people really screwed up the pension and insurance. The primary problem for the pension was that the company changed plans at the first of the year and could not resolve the pay out until May. They also marked their records to not send mail to me. This caused insurance problems. In January before I left the company, I got a new CPAP machine, authorized by Lifeguard. I also had surgery. Lifeguard paid for all of it except a visit to the surgeon and the CPAP machine. $1,000. It is 18 months later and Siemens Benefits (Hewitt) after telling every couple of months that they had resolved the problem, they never did. Lifeguard has gone bankrupt and the CPAP people are coming after me. And the CPAP machine lists for $380 and they want $900 and the old machine is gone and Hewitt speaks with a forked tongue: they say it is my problem and they say that they have escalated it to Siemens Administration. If they had escalated every time they said they did, the President of Siemens in Munich would know me by now.
Getting a new CPAP is impossible before the Hewitt insurance problem is cleared up -- unless I buy my own. This is a possibility. But then I have no money. I mean I currently owe more than I have. I have switched all of my accounts because the thieves also have all of my financial records, checks, passport, and birth certificate. Talk about identity theft: if they are Caucasian, they could be me for years and no one would know.
The CPAP billing bothers me more than anything except the loss of my children's pictures. But things may get worse when I hear from the insurance company. Everyone should have a daughter like Megan. When everything else fails, she is there with a smoothie. I have moved n with her until something happens. It had better happen soon.
The insurance policy was 2 weeks old and the claim is for total loss. I do not think I need to think about another RV soon. Nobody will write insurance for me. I just got a letter from the bank: they claim I was uninsured. GMAC has not returned my calls. It is time to get very worried.
I received a call from the Oakland police: they have located the RV. The chassis and body are in good shape but absolutely everything has been ripped off: they even took the closet doors. Outside is the same: they not only removed the trailer hitch, the removed the entire rear undercarriage. The generator, all of my stored items, the AC units, antennas, all gone. Inside they took everything down to the sofa and dishes. They left the 8 chocolate Jell-O puddings.
So now the lack of response from GMAC will end: they have something to decide upon. Having nothing to decide is difficult. I have no idea whether they will decide the RV is recoverable. It would have to go back to the factory and be refitted. Possible. I do not know.
I have been preparing to pack into Mexico as of the end of next week. I have ordered a new CPAP machine and bought an extension cord. I have bought enough clothes to last the week and have been looking forward to the escape. I do not know how this changes things. Tomorrow when the phone calls start I hope these can be decided.
I think there are 2 choices: buy me out or fix it -- there will be no motor home at all or none for over a month. Plenty of time to be elsewhere. I have no money and no home -- whatever I do has to be cheap. I cannot live with Megan forever. We are both quite accustomed to living separately and she has put me up for a month now.
I bought a new scanner today for Megan's computer. The pictures I did recover are all 35mm slides taken before the kids were born. I shall copy them to CD this week. The new scanners are high enough density and have a special gadget for doing this. I hope it works (good resolution, good color). The alternative is a digital camera and a slide projector/screen.
I now have to figure out what to do with the remainder of my life. Like the song: "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose". I live in the land of the free.
I now have no belongings. It will take me years to recover what I have lost in terms of possessions. The life on my old possessions is lost forever. The pictures, the mementos, and the computer programs I wanted to sell. Gone. I do have the most important things left. I have my two daughters. I have my health. I have my friends. I have my aunt Marie in Adrian, Michigan. I heard from the GMAC insurance adjustor: she claims to be too busy to get back to me very often. I presume this is a control technique to make me feel that my situation is not very important. She came back with "fair market value" as $55,000. That is about $10,000 low. This will need a lawyer. She also said that they could rebuild it for $20,000 and that this would be what they would do. If they can get the germs out and do this with some expediency, this is OK. I had noted that the coach itself was in good shape.
It is time to leave for Mexico and neither the lawyer nor the adjustor has returned my phone calls. I am not going to delay the trip to Mexico. Email is the only communication between here and there. I need to be with friends. I have overstayed my visit to Megan. She is a gracious host but a visit is 3 days. I have been here almost 2 months.
Even the GMAC rebuild is a problem to me. They are going cheap on everything and the RV started out cheap. I am not sure how to deal with this. The other big problem is that no personal belongings are replaced and they have short-changed my seriously on property value. $2,000 out of $24,000. Make sure you have a good estimate of your personal property on your insurance. I would have never believed that the $20,000 that I carry was too much. Just the stuff to make the RV livable without anything for me will exceed $2000. Things like air pumps, hoses, lights, etc. My food inventory exceeded $500. You know spices, frozen foods, canned, refrigerated. Then there are utensils, pots and pans, plates, bowls, containers, wraps. The list does not seem to end.
My more immediate problem is Mexico. Where I stay is an RV park. I do not know if I can stay in a tent. I do not know if the restaurant next door will let me stay in a tent. There may be some homes in town for rent on a month-to-month basis. I shall find out when I get there. I may have to just ship back to BLM land in the US. I know I can stay in Thousand Trails with a tent but what do I do with 3rd weeks? And I do need electricity if I am going to sleep at night.
I have scanned all of the pictures I recovered. The software is giving me a hard time with scanning negatives and slides. Now I understand why people take college-level classes for Adobe products. Photoshop is so hard to use it is a wonder that anyone even tries. Every attempt I have made has left me wanting to throw the entire PC out the door. Photoshop is the most counter-intuitive program in the world. And it puts little pop-up windows all over your screen. I am not the only one who hates pop-ups but why would I want to pay for them? It does 'layers' and wants to save in its own useless format to preserve the 'layers'. I just want to edit my picture. You know, rotate, resize, gamma-adjust, easy things. Think you can find a key to do these? I don't think so. And Macintosh users even like this. Amazing. It proves to me how much valuable intelligence is available to be wasted. What ever happened to Halo? They had a really nice picture editor that was easy to use.
The slides will have to wait. These are the bulk of what was recovered. When I get my life back together I shall copy the slides. In the meantime they are safe with Megan. I need to know more about Gamma adjustment. The slides are all coming in too yellow and need to be brightened -- non-linearly.
I am fearful that my friends in Mexico may be fair-weather friends: No RV. No home. I have underestimated people before. I have also over-estimated people. I loved Amy but out-of-sight is out-of-mind. A new friend in North Carolina that I hardly knew sent me more care than I would have expected from a life-long relative. I know, but consider my family.
Oh. And I got an email from Siemens -- that is I, was copied on an email between Benefits/Hewitt and Siemens. They claim to have solved their end of the problem but Lifeguard is still ignoring them. Lifeguard says they are still waiting to hear from Siemens. The Siemens email indicated that they have done all that they can do and wonder if there is some way to help me. Of all of the stupid things. I send whatever money they demand to Siemens Benefits and they pay the insurance company. This is how the retirement benefits are handled. They have my money. They have the contract. I am not getting the contracted service and they wonder what they can do to help. The first thing is for someone from Hewitt to talk to the insurance company and point out that the contracts have been made and paid for and not honored. The second is to cooperate with each other and get the date, times, and amounts coordinated, then someone pays the $1000. Certainly the time is worth that. Fighting with "I did this" and "I did that" is how marriages break up and how law suits start. Not that everyone has to start out on opposite sides but if you will not talk, you cannot be on the same side for long.
I go a letter from a collection agency today. The thieves are now using my checks and credit references to buy things. The problems of identity theft have just moved to the next level. This is where the police could find the thieves -- if the police were interested in doing so. Since I have not been murdered by a famous sniper or blackmailed the president, the police don't care. It is back to getting the money in the place where it will cause the least corporate loss without getting anyone talking/involved. I understand that after the Rodney King episode, LA took the "to protect and to serve" slogan off of their cars. Good idea, it was a sad attempt at a joke on the population that tries to need them: service is not a commodity any more.
Enough. The situation has gotten me off center. I am depressed and I bitch a lot. It is time to be with friends. I need to focus on what is valuable and how to get re-centered. The problem is that I started under-funded and I do not know how to get back to the same under-funded state. I think a year of limited mobility may be enough. Limited mobility? Stay at Thousand Trails for 2 weeks, move to CRA, and move back to TTN. Buy a motorcycle so that I can get around away from the RV. This means carrying a debt load but it means that the debt payments come from money that would have been spent on gas and outside park fees. The software costs alone take an entire year's income after RV expenses.
Now it is almost December. I escalated the communication problem to GMAC managers. The adjuster said it was not convenient to call me for a month and would call back by Monday the 25th. It is the 26th and I have to go find them again. They are going really cheap on this and the first line says that they have no responsibility to the quality of repairs: I am abdicating MY responsibility. I have already said I would be glad to be on site to watch the repairs. The VP agreed with this. I talked to the second line: he said they would stand behind the repairs. Ring-around the rosy with money people. I have no diatribe on Banks, Insurance companies, and casinos. They are the three primary organizations dealing with money as a commodity. The only one that will treat you fairly is the casino. Banks and insurance companies are remarkably greedy with payout while spreading sunshine during premium collection. GMAC is lining up on the bottom here.
I have a good state of mind. The winter depression has not yet set in. SAD/Depression always does about this time of year: anytime from now until Thanksgiving. I can hardly wait.
The immediate plans are to pack into Mexico until Christmas. I shall leave as soon as I hear from the RV insurance about a settlement. You cannot settle from Mexico. Where I go there are few phones and they are outgoing only. I have some friends down there. I am anxious to see them.
I hear so much fear about Mexico. People just do not understand. I can leave my RV unlocked down there. Here it is stolen in broad daylight with the deadbolt set while parked on a fairly busy thoroughfare. And the thieves were using the stolen credit cards by dinnertime.
OK. So I pack down to the beach with my new backpack, clothes, CPAP, and cords. I figure I can find a site with electricity for about $5 per day. It will be near the RV park so I can use their facilities and be with my friends. Lose some weight. Get used to being outdoors. Learning Spanish. See if I feel like moving there on a permanent basis. Mostly I shall see if my friends are friends or are friends because I had a motor home. I think they are real friends.
When I come for Christmas, I shall go to Tucson to see Bree and Megan. When my kids were small, they fought so hard for us to be together at Christmas. I tried to make each Christmas special for them. When I was a kid, I hated Christmas. I mean, my sisters got ski sets and I got a do-it-yourself cuckoo clock. I often spent the day crying in my room. My kids never had that. Each year I would spend my free time thinking of how to make Christmas special for each of them. Maybe it is harder with 3. With 2 kids, it is easy to be 'fair'. But mostly we had a nice dinner and loved each other. So now that the kids and I are in different places, I come home to them and not the other way around.
I have heard 3 different people ask in the last few days: "Why would anyone have children?" I have no answer for them. The love that comes from my daughters is unlike anything else that I have experienced in the whole world. If you have kids, you know. If you do not, then I guess you can ask questions that cannot be answered.
After a couple of months in a tent, I think I shall have figured out what to do next. Right now a pickup truck with a small trailer sounds great. I do not think another behemoth RV is in the plans. I think that will only happen if the insurance company tries to settle cheap and I make them replace the old RV in lieu of a cash settlement. The last thing I need is a big RV to rattle around in with empty bins where my belongings used to be.
At this point, I can see spending some time traveling lighter and eventually settling in a small town. Maybe buying run down houses and selling them after they have been fixed-up. I like the work and I could make some money. I could get some experience working with Habitat for Humanity if they will take me. I know they are pretty well booked but there are other places similar. I saw one on the news last night.
This has gotten me thinking. Some of you might not understand. Many of you have always had a home with a foundation. Maybe you even lived in the same home for a long time. Some of you think of family in the same instant you think of your home. I never had these luxuries while growing up. I managed to keep one home for most of the time my kids were growing up. But I have no fond memories of a home with a foundation. My family knows how much they mean to me. If my ex-wife could understand, she could understand how much she meant to me while we were together -- even if love was hard to describe. My friends mean more to me than anything after family.
Everyone has friends. I try not to cling to friends. I try not to have romantic friends. My friends are the best people on earth. They are my roots in the place of concrete. When the rubber meets the road, family, friends and our health are all that we have. It takes waking up with nothing else to really understand that. To each of you who know me, thank you for being my friend -- now you understand how much you mean to me.
It is the second week of 2003 (See Next Year). The above is a lot of words. Some Brass tacks: