The year starts with me parked in the 1000 Trails Wilderness Lakes
Campground just east of California's Sun City.
To see how I got here, check here to see year 2002.
The year is off to a good start. I have the RV back. I am waiting for some additional parts. I am at Wilderness Lakes Thousand Trails RV Park. Wilderness Lakes is a strange place: it stinks from the cow farm just north. It is cloudy, drizzly, and cool. There is a military base just north and west where big grey 747-type things are always circling.
I am happy with my new granddaughter as part of my life, my RV, and resting up for the new life (in serious debt).
I get to stay in Mexico for a couple of weeks at least. No. Megan called -- Siemens/Hewitt cancelled my insurance. Totally. No explanation. Nothing. Just a standard status change letter showing no coverage at all. I have to get back in the states to handle this. And I wonder why my blood pressure is up 40 points to 160/110?
As can be expected, the RV dealer did a lousy job on repairs. I have to loop through LA every couple of weeks to get additional parts and repairs. The last time should be at the end of March. They said 5 weeks for this last batch of parts.
I stayed in Tucson with my daughter Bree, Marcus, and T'Andra (my new granddaughter). Ann is a great kid -- or has the potential. There is a lot of work to do with her. With a baby you grow your own. Starting at 12 is difficult for both sides. You find out fast how different values and expectations can be -- even from the brother and sister in the same family. You also find out what things you did or did not properly teach your own children as you watch them become parents.
I ended the month in Morgan Hill and with Megan. Mostly visiting doctors and staying at Megan's between office visits.
It is now March 11. I am in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Gilroy having just moved here from the Wal-Mart parking lot in Salinas. Tomorrow morning I move to 1000 Trails in Morgan Hill for 2 weeks. During those 2 weeks, I have more surgery and follow-up and another sleep study so that the insurance company can buy me a new CPAP machine.
Doctors? I had a bone growth removed from a toe. It was worse than the x-rays portrayed according to the doctors. In any case it has not healed quite right after 2 weeks and they have to look at it again on Friday. The question is whether they have to go in again and will not know that for another 6 months. Other doctors removed couple skin cancers from my face. Both are serious, one malignant. Last year when I fell on my head, I hurt my neck. Physical therapy takes care of that. I have to get my medical care out of Oakland. They schedule things in months and I have been here too long.
At the end of the month, I go back to the RV place and get the remainder of my stuff fixed. I am not happy with the quality of the workmanship although they did real well in getting me new equipment. The workers use electric drills with no clutch setting for screws: anything with screws has most of them stripped.
I am so broke. I am waiting for Siemens to send me the money (they promised) and credit my account for their last October surprise. These along with my staying at Wal-Marts should help with the finances. We shall see.
I also may have to work for a while. I need a toad: a towed vehicle. Maybe a good motorcycle of about 400cc. I need a little generator and a solar panel. Maybe only one of them. Has anyone noticed that the Japanese are still ahead in this game too (See Generators)? The question is whether I can get ahead enough by being frugal or should I buy these things on credit and owe credit cards for a couple of years?
Oh. And the identity thieves are at it again. I have to purge my credit report again. I keep procrastinating on that and it is necessary to keep that clean if I want any options at all.
I returned from Berkeley with 3" of stitches where my sideburns should be. They want them out in 10 days but I need a break back to Mexico via Riverside where Professional RV finishes its work, finally. I have never gone to Mexico using Calexico through 57. I head south on I-15 to I-8 spending the night at the Wal-Mart in Temecula.
The next morning I head out on I-8 east when this horrendous windstorm pops up. I guess that truck putting out the pylons meant for me to not proceed they closed the highway behind me. After being dragged across the highway a few times, I pulled off at a rest area. This rest area was in between the two directions and protected by the highway as berms. I think this was good but the winds were so strong that the RV was being lifted off the ground -- levelers and all. I used them to lean the RV into the wind and I opened the windows. This helped. While I was there a 5th wheel and truck were lifted off the ground and flipped over on the same bridge I went under to get to the rest area. I heard from the highway patrol that we were stuck there until they re-opened the highway. According to him the winds had hit 95 miles an hour. I have driven in 60. Trees go down at 75 -- and trees were down. This was serious. The all clear came at 2:30 and I left after many others. This was a mistake. I got dragged a few times and pulled into a casino lot for the night. There was a windsock (this was the top of a pass) that was trying hard to find a way to be straighter than it was intended. According to the locals, I could take the exit road down the hill and get out of the wind more easily than going on I-8. Great idea -- I like back roads. I should not complain I am alive; nothing is broken; I met some interesting people; and my friends are still friends. Things got worse.
I pulled into Calexico hoping to find a Wal-Mart. No such luck and I went into Mexicali. These are sort of twin towns across the border from each other. There was a parade and I got lost but made it out with some help from a local. But the transmission started skipping. Skipping is sort of the best word. Maybe it is a clogged fuel filter or the fuel pump. The RV tries to stall when it starts at the light. As I head south to the road across to 57 shifting gets strange. Oh. 57 is not on a map. 57 is not a town -- it is a place. There is a railroad from Mexicali down the mainland coast. There are towns along the railroad although it no longer carries passengers. The towns have names but are mostly known by the corresponding railroad milepost (kilometer). Ergo 57. There is a mass parade or flea market or something. I get lost and head out of town the wrong way. The transmission is in serious trouble now. This road is so bad the TV tries to bean me. The TV is mounted in a cabinet above the rearview mirror/camera. I stop and put it back so that it will not fall on me and finally drag into El Golfo. I find a spot, spend the hour setting up, walk around saying hello to who is left, and collapse. I mean absolutely collapse. My muscles just gave out. Oh. I had a few Pepsis and a giant hamburger on the couch, as I could not sleep.
The tension is so high. Everything is so wrong. Job really did have it easier. I cannot afford to replace the tranny. I do not know if I can make it to a Ford dealer. I have 2 weeks to figure out what to do. I need the 2 weeks. I have to find the doctor to take the stitches out. That is 50 pesos. I can afford that. Tuesday. I need to rest on Monday. I bought cakes for the employees and the remaining guests. Remaining? 6 weeks ago when I left they were at capacity. Now there are lucky to be 20 left (of 150 max). In two weeks there will probably only be 5 left. The head count does not matter to me. I like it here: No tension, no Bush wars, no disease, no cold, and no problems. It may rain but I do not think so. The humidity may go up from the current 9% but rain is unlikely. The flies are bad but I have a swatter and fly strips. And this is as close to home as I have. There are friends here.
If I have my way, I shall stay in Mexico and learn Spanish and eat fish and walk my way to better health. Not quite. I made it to El Golfo via Calexico but the RV has such problems that I might not make it anywhere else. The engine dies every time I start up from stop. Idles just fine. Shifts funny. It could be the fuel filter, the fuel pump, or the transmission. Most likely it is the latter. I shall replace the filter Wednesday (have to go back to Calexico) and pray I can get back to the states without serious problems. The scar on the side of my face from the surgery is healing but it will never be right. Megan is correct: there is NO good medical service in Oakland. I am beginning to not like Oakland.
Easter in Tucson. El Golfo is preparing for the invasion -- even stringing new electric poles to the beach.
Went to Tucson. Transmission problems in San Luis. Ignition fails in Costco lot in Marana. I drain a quart of transmission fluid at Costco and buy a new battery. I make it to Marcus parents house.
Bree and Marcus have given up on T’Andra. Cinderella only had one evil stepmother. I hope she survives them. I hope she survives life. Bree chews me out for interference. Sorry. Not this time.
On the way to Verde Valley I figure out the ignition problem: the battery cable connectors have corroded. I file them and that is fixed. I have now fixed everything of which I am aware is a problem.
First week in TT-Verde Valley. Bored. I have to get back into the swing of RV living. I have become a real recluse with all of the forced schedules.
This dang Sony Laptop has to go back for repair. It hangs up randomly when used for a while. I have lost all respect for Sony: they could not fix it in 2 tries. I doubt they will in 3. Sometimes I really wonder why every time I get angry at something, it turns out to be the wrong thing. I called Sony several times and finally got a guy who resolved the problem: undo a bunch of Windows updates. Now I have a PC that works but I do not know what to do about Windows updates.
I made it back for Patricio’s wedding reception in El Golfo. Spent 2 weeks laying back and getting my state of mind ready for the tribulations in the states.
Wow. Got the CPAP. Home Sleep was great compared to Apria. Apria is a real schlock outfit. But I got one and a new mask. It only took 6 months.
I got GMAC straightened out: my coverage was good, they just sent me a fouled up copy of the coverage on the last go around. They have also offered to cover the expenses that should have been covered by the repair place, Professional RV. I have mixed feelings about Professional RV. They really fixed up some things really well. They left out so much. I guess it should be even except I should not have had to buy these things.
Currently in Thousand Trails, Morgan Hill until just after the holiday. I pick up my mail and see Megan shortly. Then off to the north – I think.
Currently in Thousand Trails, Morgan Hill -- again. I went to the Stockton area for a week and then returned. Too hot and muggy there and I want to help Megan get her new car. I give up on predicting my next stop. I think few people appreciate how far east the San Francisco Bay extends. It goes all the way to Sacramento. Sacramento is a port! The roads meander through beautiful marshes and rivers.
Expenses are almost in shape. Things will be short for a while but I am in the running again.
Megan gave me her Tercel when she bought her new Corolla. Every father should have a daughter like Megan. I spent time and money to turn the poor Tercel into a toad. Now it gets to see the sights as it goes by rather than working so hard. I get to see the world outside the RV Park. Running errands and seeing doctors seriously restrict sightseeing this week.
It is the beginning of August. I just got back from a nice little RV park outside of Winters (Vacaville). Great little park with mostly local people with trailers. It was very relaxing next to the river that flowed quietly past the park. I started thinking about poems and novels with the concept of peace through the flowing river. Siddhartha by Hesse came to mind. Also a contemporary poem about the River Thames (5 verses by the same guy who wrote Ash Wednesday. English fellow. I forget his name. The third verse is not in English.
Now I am back in Morgan Hill for medical things. A good friend has come down with cancer so I may leave to return to Mexico very soon.
I heard about the medical tests today. Wow. I am still in shell shock. I mean I know my blood pressure went to 170/120 after the RV heist. I can take care of that mentally. Indeed. They just tested twice: down to 145/90 in one month. I watched it read with the same device and the same person both times.
Same with the cholesterol. I have always been 150-170. My HDL is too low. Last year they had me take Niacin to raise the HDL. They wanted it at 50 and mine is 15.
No. They also just did the blood test twice. And I was not taking other meds. They say I have diabetes. I want them to be wrong. They say my blood sugar is over 200 and my cholesterol is 270 and my triglycerides measure off the top of their test. I have 3 new batches of pills to take. I shall wait a week before I start them. I shall see the doctors to which they have referred me.
It means I shall spend at least August in Morgan Hill.
Oh. New York just had a power outage. I think they have ego problems (See Grid). The incident was significant and they handled it well for all that you hear about the demeanor of New Yorkers. In support of my statement that Phoenix people have a high anger quotient, compare what happened in New York last week to the broken gasoline line in Phoenix this week. The Arizona governor had to go online to tell people to not beat each other up. I saw one woman on TV denying people gasoline because she could not get her gasoline. This is bullshit (my anger is showing). We are all in this together, people. Deal with it. NYC lost it all, even water. They helped each other. Phoenix slowed its gas flow. People yelled at each other. Another issue: the Republicans have held the energy bill hostage requiring that it include drilling for oil in Alaska. So we wait for three years empty-handed because the Republicans want a fruit salad rather than resolving problems at hand.
If I were able to vote in California, I would vote no on the recall. Period. I do not like Davis but recalling him is just another Republican ploy to keep from having to win a legitimate election. What I really wonder though is the Fox news claim that this is the first gubernatorial recall in 80 years. I thought that Arizona recalled Governor Meacham about 15 years ago. Arizona recalled its governor because he did exactly what he claimed he would do during the campaign.
I have doctor appointments into October in San Jose. It has been over a month now. My Cholesterol is 114. That is good. My Triglycerides are 174. That is bad. My blood pressure is 93 over 60. That is so low it scares me. I can thank Zocor and Cardura for that. My blood sugar is still over 200 -- threatening 300. That is very bad. I have been gobbling more pills than food. Doubled the sugar meds and nothing. They gave me another sugar-reduction pill – in addition to the other ones. I need to increase my exercise and reduce the weight from 280 down to something that does not try to measure the limits of my bathroom scale. I have promised to do my hand weight regimen and walk 2 miles per day. There is this guy who maintains that we need to walk 10000 steps per day. That is 50k to 60k feet or 5 miles. I do not know if I can ever make that. I do not think that he can.
OK. The test strips were bad. I rally have a blood sugar level about 120. This is a bit high but bearable. Now the only things high are the triglycerides. My meds are holding. My exercise still needs to increase. I have a blister on my foot.
I am using my week out to return to Bodega Bay. I paid ahead for the weekend this time and still had scheduling problems. I think that the park would be better off with a better site management system.
This was the week I was going to buy a camera. For the last month I have had my eye on a particular camera from Olympus. Too expensive but what the heck. I saw it on my last venture at $502 at Sam’s Club in Vacaville. I got back to Morgan Hill and the same camera was $524 at Costco. I tried and failed to get it online from Sam’s Club. On this trip I returned to Sam’s in Concord only to find it sold out. I stopped at Costco in Novato. Sold out. I could have tried others but I think that it is sold out because newer camera models are coming for Christmas. I get to Morgan Hill and check the Sam’s Club web page: $460 plus tax and shipping. My new camera arrived today. I get to spend the afternoon figuring it out. I sort of liked the old 35MM Single Lens Reflex. I do not understand all of the new-fangled electronic gadgets when I have to program to automatically do what I did for myself on the old camera. I think I shall keep it in AUTO mode and forget it.
I have to do something about my power needs. I have two choices. The first is to get a small generator, like a Honda 1K. This is about $900. This is expensive but immediately solves all of the problems. The alternative is to get a solar panel. This also needs more battery power. I have to find a home for two batteries and replace the three that I have with some super 6-volts. I also need a couple larger inverters. This is about the same price but lets me operate anywhere with no gasoline. I also have to run wires, mount brackets, and other things. I think I shall do both. I have the money if I can get a battery cheap. The advantage of the solar is that it works anywhere. The advantage of the generator is that it is no changes or work. I think we shall do the generator next month. The solar thing during the winter at Quartzite or Algodones.
I made my first choices. I bought a 1KW inverter (Costco/Xantrex: $69+tax) and a 1K Honda generator (Camping World: $699+ tax). In the spring I shall buy larger batteries so that I can suck them dry with my inverter and recharge them with my generator. The half-pint batteries that the RV repair shop left me are too small to use the inverter at any where near its rating. However, the TV overloads the 400-Watt inverter when it powers up: the 1KW inverter is necessary even though the TV load is less than half it rating. I really need a bank of 4 batteries. Right now I have a spare 12V car battery and 2 small 6V golf cart batteries. These will get me through two nights if I am lucky. That also means that the little 7-watt solar panel on the roof is doing its job. Professional RV mis-wired that but I have not figured out what they did yet. I think they just installed it with no controller. If that is the case, a diode inline (I have extras) will solve its problem. I have procrastinated on looking into that because fixing it will be a half-day job. The TV will take a half-day: and will require feet and hands in good strength.
This week is the last week of the month: I shall see all my doctors this week and have my toe worked on.
The toe surgery went well. I cannot walk for another couple of weeks. The doctor had substantial work because the Oakland doctor left a lot of scarred bone tissue behind. After cutting out the scarring, the doctor found a whole new bone about 1-2.5 mm diameter and 20 mm long between the real toe and its tendon. No wonder it hurt to walk. In any case, my toe still works. The extra bone is gone. The scarred bone tissue is gone. My toe is shorter (?) and it has serious stitches along the top. And it hurts. I never realized how much I count on my second toe for balance.
I wanted to leave for Mexico on Tuesday but because of the amount of work, this doctor wants to take the out stitches himself. I need to find a home for the week but I shall take his advice.
The ophthalmologist says my eyes are just fine.
I tried the Henry Cowell State Park near Felton. The park is unattended and the sign says to not self-register for the weekend because maybe the reservations are full. I am not going to set up only to maybe find out that I have to leave. If they are going to have maybes, they should have someone there to help. It is a nice park for tents. For an RV with a toad, maybe 10 of the 112 sites could be used. They have posts to mark the sites such that slide outs are a problem.
New Brighton Beach is closed to camping. You find that out inside the park. Seacliff Beach is the only one available and it is actually closed this weekend. I am staying here for two days and then I do not know. There is a hairpin turn on the cliff road that is so sharp that the RV will not make it on the inside curve – must use the outside lane. I ran over my own tailpipe on my last trip down the cliff.
I stayed the remainder of the week at Mt. Madonna on Hecker Pass. This is a beautiful park with many well-marked trails. You may use the tent sites for the RV and save $10 per night. Electricity is poor. Water is very low pressure. Hecker Pass is a substantial grade and the locals do not like RVs. The entrance road to the park itself is such a high grade that my RV shifted down to a gear I did not know it had. The park people tell me that many RVs cannot make this grade. They should warn you of this before you are committed.
It looks like I can leave for Yuma tomorrow. I shall not have good web access after today.
I have arrived at Yuma at the Escapee’s park. I leave for El Golfo tomorrow.
Thanksgiving is next week. I have been at El Golfo for about a month and am getting more broke by the week. I love it down here. It is as close to home as I have ever had. My contract only permits me two weeks at a time but with help from friends and a coupon, I shall stay until the first of the year. I shall have worn out my welcome by then.
I shall see Megan for Christmas. Bree has written me off – mostly because she owes me a lot of money that she has no intention of repaying. If she did not have such a bad attitude and if the loss were not seriously cramping my life style, I would forgive the loan. I love it here in El Golfo but I feel sort of trapped: I cannot afford to leave.
With all of the problems of this last year, I have not been to the dentist. Now I have serious work being done. Bi-weekly trips back to the states are keeping me busy and broke. The Algodones dentists are good and they are inexpensive but they still cost more than I can afford this year. I shall cancel my dental insurance since I see that it costs more than it is worth.
Megan gave me her car this summer. It is a lifesaver. Without the car, I would have to live in Yuma and commute with the RV to Algodones. This way I get to drive the car.
At Christmas I shall get a new telephone service. I have the best coverage of anyone: my phone works here and nobody else can say that. The problem is that the phone display is inoperative and it costs about $5/minute. I use the phone in Yuma. Cingular got that problem fixed. I think I shall switch to Verizon.
Maybe I shall have enough money at Christmas. I hope so. With the annual bills coming due in January, I am looking to March before the credit cards do not have a balance.
The next money break comes in 3 years when I can collect early Social Security. I figure that RV and car maintenance expenses will rise this year and eat anything spare.
When I leave here, I figure to spend until spring at the Thousand Trails in Verde Valley. I can bounce in and out of the park there and then spend the off weeks in the National Forest. Of course I must see the doctors in San Jose every few months.
I do not socialize enough and have to get out more. I have not learned enough of the language although I do work at it. It is strange though: when I go back to the USA, I feel like I am entering a foreign country. I sort of get used to the fact that I have to figure out how to communicate and then get back to the USA and have to remember that speaking English is OK.
November was a good month although it mostly sounds like gripes when I read it. I am in good health and unloading the stress built up from the last year. With the medication and some exercise I keep the blood sugar in range. I have made a few friends down here but still do not socialize much.
I have driven to Yuma each week since I got here. For a while the trips were for dentist appointments. It is strange. I do not speak the language here. Neither language. I get on fine one on one with the members. I do not enjoy the group activities. I have enjoyed the kids that I have seen. On of the security guards, Gordo, and I have become friends. He helps with my Spanish. I have had his family over for lunch. I get used to the natives speaking and not understanding them.
I go back to the Estados Unidos and have to remember to speak English rather than my poor attempt at Mexican. In about five years I think I could speak Mexican but I would have to stop going north.
This season has really been great. I have my computer sessions twice a week. The number of people showing up has increased. The number walking away happy has increased. One of them left me a present on my doorstep.
I get frightened each time I go into the USA. I know that law enforcement people take college courses in intimidation: it works. I resent the picture-taking towers as I enter Mexico. I resent that the entry back to the USA is long lines and they can tear your stuff apart on a whim. At least they do not take dogs through the cars. I hope to stay here until March but I do not know if I can do that.
On Tuesday, the 16th, I drive to San Diego and fly to Oakland to spend Christmas with Megan. I think that I made the wrong travel choice here. I do not want to drive her car to Berkeley and really do not want to drive all of the way. The cost of the rental car is more expensive than the flight and the flight cannot be altered once made. It is made. The problem is the flu. I always catch the flu. I always get flu from the flu shots. This has been true since the first Asian flu back in the late 50’s. I no longer get flu shots, as I would rather gamble on maybe rather than get the shot and get the flu guaranteed. I resent the ads saying you cannot get the flu from the shot. They lie.
So. Now I am driving to San Diego and flying aboard a cattle-plane where I know I shall get exposed. Maybe I shall get exposed only on the way back and save Megan from exposure. They tell me that with Diabetes that I really must take the shot. Foo.
I am looking forward to seeing Megan. She is an inspiring person. Her insights into people always surprise me. 5 more days. But then this page will not make it to the web until I am there.
The sunset last night was grand. I wonder what the smoke towers from fires that I saw driving down were. Sometimes I think it would take an entire poblado burning to make that much smoke.
It is the day before Christmas and all through Megan’s house is silence as I await my new cell phone from the UPS deliveryman. The www.ups.com tracking site is great. Enter your tracking number and click details and you see every step from call request to delivery. The phone went from Dallas to San Jose to Oakland to Richmond to delivery truck. The trouble is that it is Christmas and truck will be packed and I have no idea when he shall arrive. It could be 10 o’clock tonight. I do not want to wait for a redelivery on Friday so I am sitting by the door. Megan is dog sitting and her phone is being delivered elsewhere – someplace with a security guard who signs for things. I wonder how much fits into one truck. Four hours? Eight? I know if it is rural, it is one shift worth. But in the city. At Christmas? How well can you pack a truck? How do you route? Same route as always? Christmas routing? I bet every person knows how to sort or drive is at work today.
Tomorrow I spend with Megan at the dog-house. No deliveries tomorrow. I really hope it comes early because I have to gas up and be ready for the trip back home.
The phone arrived and works. Color display is great. The smaller ICONS are hard for me to read. Megan gets the Nokia until I cancel the account: when we ordered her phone and she kept the same number, her Sprint account closed and the T-Mobile account opened but her calls went to the packaged phone. It arrived at her friend’s parents' house but it took a couple of days to pick it up. It is a good thing it is turned off: the parents would worry about a box that sang tunes. These Samsung phones have no concept of ring tones: they play perverted musical versions of something that you should be able to recognize but cannot. The signal from T-Mobile is not as good as the signal from my Nokia. The battery lasts longer.
I drove back to Mexico on the 26th. I finally got around to cardboard in front of the radiator. The poor little Tercel has never known what it is like to turn on its radiator fan for cooling since, I think, the thermostat is stuck open or is missing. The engine check light came on about Fresno and I lost 4 hours to getting an EGR valve cleaned (not replaced). There is snow on the Grapevine pass. The LA rush hour traffic (should have bypassed LA and gone east from Fresno) cost me 3 hours more. I wanted to shop and was afraid I would miss the stores if I went east. Snow was falling fast through the Tejon (?) pass east of San Diego. Cars were piled up. It is cold. Even with the cardboard the Tercel is cold. The heater works fine. I avoid the sliding cars and pull into the RV Park about 2 am.
I drive up to Yuma for medicine, cancellation of the Cingular service and change Dish. No luck on the Dish: one hour on hold. These people have no concept. My electric plug at the RV burns during the night and people are glowering at my Honda generator. I could have turned on the Onan but I wanted it quieter than that. Both need exercise.
This is the last entry for this year. It has been a good year: I am in good health. My finances, thanks to my greedy daughter are in poor shape but that will be self-correcting in a few years. The love from my younger daughter makes up for any bitterness and I only feel sadness and, with Monday-morning-quarterbacking, should have never loaned the money. I would like to travel more next year but I think the expenses will prohibit that.
The medical situation is stable. I shall visit San Jose a couple of times passing through but there should be no need to stay for any protracted period like this year for the diabetes. The diabetes is a problem but not seriously inhibiting. Quite the contrary: I need to exercise for my health. I should have been exercising more to prevent it.
Amy is gone. She does not write. She does not call. There was no trip to see the family or the house. Gone. She has given a little advice on the diabetes. Not much. I needed more.
My finances should go up to zero balance about April if I am lucky.
They gave me a Christmas present here. I really appreciate that.