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Wednesday December 5, 2012

Almost in full relax mode!

We have really settled in and are enjoying the warm weather. We haven't run the heat since we arrived, the last couple of nights the windows were left open and the temp inside the trailer only went down to 15C, it helped that the winds are calm overnight.

We are looking after "housekeeping" items, the awning replacement is being scheduled and the truck will be serviced during the week. Folks all around us are putting up Christmas decorations and we also got an invite to a hot dog dinner for the street on the evening of the parade of lights later in the month. On our walk in the desert today we saw an extremely large solar energy installation being constructed nearby. Pictures to follow!

Al has been suffering a bit with "weepy eyes" (probably a minor infection) and he had his first encounter with the US health care system. With apologies to our American friends, it gets a mark of somewhere between a D- and an F! Frankly, it SUCKS.

Al went to a walk in/emergency care clinic here in the foothills. The wait wasn't too bad, it took 2 hours to get from the waiting room to the exam room and another hour waiting in the examination room (there were 8 of these) to be seen by the only doctor at the facility. The problem is that nothing was done, the doctor looked at the eyes and gave a referral page for a visit to an eye doctor, the referral consisted of the page and being pointed to medical magazines in the waiting room so I could find the eye doctor.

Waiting for a couple of hours gives a good opportunity to look around and make comparisons and form opinions. The size of this facility is about the same as Al's doctor's office back at home. In Yuma they had a staff of about 4 receptionists/paper pushers, some nurses in the back (about 2) perhaps an X-ray technician and the lone doctor. This compares to 2 receptionist/nurses, one lab technician  and 3 doctors back home. It was clear that much more time was taken by the receptionists filling in various paperwork duties (all manual) depending on whether the patient was paying by cash, insurance, medicare or Worker's Comp.

The treatment was rushed and cursory, the staff was more interested in getting patients in and out than caring for them. I feel sorry for the patient who came in with a finger crushed by having a trailer tongue dropped on it!

The real kicker is what US folks pay for this sub-standard level of care. If I was paying via insurance the cost would have been $200, I paid by cash at $140. I guess my first question if I was an insurance carrier is why I was I being "soaked" compared to a cash customer. I can see a small premium for insured services like the cash versus credit cost difference down here for gasoline, but not $60!!

The other shocker is why the even $140 charge for a doctor's visit. I wasn't able to drill down into the Ontario health insurance plan's website to find the fee schedule for doctors, but I did find some 2009 information that stated the TOTAL charge received for a visit to the doctor was $17.75 for a minor visit, $31.95 for a regular visit and $61.00 for a complete physical. A check of an Ottawa hospital's charge for a person's visit (without health coverage) is $60.00. Even a Transport Canada physical for aircraft pilots comes in at under $200.

To Al,it's clear that the US health care system has a long way to go to reach the cost efficiencies and the benefits that us Canadian's receive, Al looks forward to stimulating discussion to Americans down here the next time someone calls us and our health care system "socialist"

Al will now stop the rant!

Meanwhile he may find some professional down here that will look after him, hopefully without "ambulance chasing" or other diversions!

Sunday December 2, 2012

Starting to Relax in Yuma!

We arrived here early yesterday afternoon and we are almost unpacked:

Can you tell it's meal time? Kasey is impatiently waiting at the door for his food!

All the essential "stuff" is out, but the bikes and the lounges still have to be unloaded.

We went shopping this morning at what has to the best Fry's shopping experience in the US. They obviously know their clientele here in Yuma, there is a fantastic deli and ready-to-serve food stations and they even have a Sushi prep area! The older crowd here doesn't want to do a lot of their own cooking and Fry's understands that. Alfeels young here, not quite as young as at the Fountain of Youth Spa in California, the only downside is that the folks shopping at Fry's are very slow, you could almost run them over with your shopping cart! Oh well, a month of this and Al may slow down too!

We did some shopping and will return later in the week.

Kasey has a short walk past the neighbour's lot and into the desert:

We are expecting to see a fellow Titanium owner and one of our friends from Mexico later in the month, life is good!! We miss Charlie and Pauline though (they were in the lot across the street last year and are in Mexico this year). Kasey even went to the lot to see their dog Kia!

Friday November 30, 2012

What a Difference a couple of years makes!!

We are in Augie's Quail Trail RV resort in Gila Bend, we haven't been here for a couple of winters, last year we bypassed the park and went directly from Picacho Peak to Yuma. This year we wanted to wait until December 1 to set up on the Yuma lot as it's not available before then. We also wanted to do some laundry here.

When we rolled in we found that the place is fully booked (it has over 100 sites), but the owner was kind enough to give us an electrical and water connection near his home, that was the last "serviced" site. So we may not do any laundry but at least we have 50 amp power and water.

The owner explained what happened to Gila Bend. He indicated that this area has the second longest period of sunshine in the world, second only to places in the middle east. As a result there are two monster solar energy "farms" being constructed, one of these will be the largest in the world. Here is a link to some photos:

These installations are bringing other technology firms into the area, an example is the Calgon Carbon facility being constructed across the street as shown in one of the pictures below. It's a reactivation facility that reactivates the granular carbon that's used in municipal water treatment facilities like here in Phoenix Arizona.

As a result, the RV park is occupied about 65% by technology workers (sounds like Alberta doesn't it?) and the rest are snowbirds. He is in the process of doubling his campsites as he has to turn away about 10 overnight campers each day, the new sites will be for campers, not workers. He also indicated that Gila Bend was written up in the Wall Street Journal as a boom area and the real estate values are way up. He has been offered millions in cash to sell the RV park.

The Gila Bend area looked pretty run down two years ago, this time things are looking better as a result of the new activity.

A couple of pictures:

This is the Calgon Carbon facility being built across the street:

Roughing it in front of the owner's house!

The owners House:

Hills in the distance:

We have the place to ourselves, no one is nearby:

We head for Yuma tomorrow!

Wednesday November 28, 2012

Picacho Peak State Park

We left Lazy Days this morning and drove the 40 or so miles here, it's a stop that we like. Al checked the Arizona State Parks website and noted that this park had been closed, probably over the summer. I guess Arizona is having the same fiscal problems as other states and this park probably isn't very busy in the hot weather. It's nice to come here and enjoy the quiet compared to being in Tucson. One thing that we noted in Tucson this season is the large number of sirens all the time. Last night a helicopter circled the area not far from the campground for about half an hour with a search light focusing on some activity on the ground, it's loop came directly above the camper and it was quite noisy! Here it's very quiet, the only noise being the trains a mile or so away.

We are here for two nights, they only have electricity here so we are using our internal water and sewage tanks.

Al forgot to plug in and recharge the battery for the good camera so the pictures below were taken with the Playbook, it's not as high resolution as the Nikon:

Suzette enjoying her book, the white dots in the distance are transport trucks on I-10.

We have a couple of campers nearby but the sites are very large:

Sorry, the picture is taken into the sun. The hills are in the distance:

Thursday November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Day in Tucson!

We arrived here yesterday from Deming NM where we stayed for a day in Dream Catcher RV park. The Rock Hound park website was checked and they had no reservation sites available so we decided not to take the risk of driving out there and not getting a site.In addition we had stayed the night before at Guadaloupe Mountain National Park where there are no services, so we had waste and gray water in the tanks and we would have had to dump and fill on the way in. Dream Catcher has full services and is adjacent to I-10 so it made more sense.

We had a nice visit from Chuck and Wanda,it's always nice to see those folks when we are down here.

We have been stopping at Guadaloupe as it takes an hour off the already long run from Carlsbad to Deming and it gives an opportunity to exercise the generator and test the batteries since the stop is basically in a parking lot.

We did some walking around and Suzette took some great pictures when she walked up hill from the trail head. Hiking here is for serious hikers with a trail or two having 8 hour durations, it looks like people stay on the hill overnight, warm weather gear is required with temps going down to freezing.

A view down the hill with the RV in the distance:

Some nice views of the hills:

Here at Lazy Days in Tucson it's pretty quiet, lots of empty campsites. We were somewhat disappointed to see that they have cut down the bushes in the premium sites, they said it was because the bushes were interfering with the RV's but I suspect that it was a economy measure. Al checked the Lazy Days website and noted that their CEO has resigned recently, maybe that's an indication of a problem.

We still like to come here as the atmosphere is better than at the other RV places in town but we are not sure if the place will survive over time.

The bushes awaiting pick up:


The loss of the bushes makes the site less private and eliminates shade:

This year there is no Thanksgiving dinner being served in the restaurant and it's closed for the day (and on Sunday and Monday) so we have some turkey that we got at the last minute yesterday, you can't be without turkey on Thanksgiving!

Suzette celebrated Thanksgiving by hitting the swimming pool as it's around 80F outside, the A/C is running in the camper!

We are here for a week and then we move farther west!

By the way, Al may have found the problem with the website not reading properly, the wireless card on the computer seems to be intermittent, this time the website was updated with a direct connection to the router, we would like to know if the website is readable, thanks!!

Sunday November 18, 2012

Rain in the Desert!

It's nice to see an occasional rain in the desert, even the birds seem to enjoy it. Nothing heavy, but it will turn the grass a bit more green.

As you can see from the pictures below it's a bit overcast:

You can't tell from the picture but the windmill is turning, indicating a breeze. Not sure how much electricity it generates

This KOA is well set up, lots of room and wide roadways:

Hills in the distance, there are a few oil pumpers there. You can smell the oil in the morning!

It's interesting to see the change in oilfield activity since last year in west Texas (the Permian basin) and here in east New Mexico. Things were pretty quiet in the Midland Texas area last year, this year all the oilfield service companies have parking lots full of employee cars and there are drilling rigs working everywhere, help wanted signs are also displayed. There are more pumpers working than not running and some of these have "swimming pools" near them, maybe this is the "frackting" liquid?

It's clear that from the activity the area is contributing to the push to US oil self sufficiency that's being talked about. It's good to see!

We are off to west Texas again tomorrow, then over to Deming NM.

Friday November 16, 2012

At the Carlsbad NM KOA

We stayed at Monahans Sand Hills State Park last evening, it's a bit of a long run from Ranger but it's a straight run on I-20. We moved over here to the KOA and gained another hour (we are now on mountain time) although we haven't really adjusted as we are still watching Toronto TV. Hopefully we won't wake up at 5:00 am local time tomorrow morning. We wimped out and decided to stay here at the KOA instead of Brantley Lake state park because they have full services here and 50 amp power (it's still cool overnight here as it's over 3,000 ft. altitude and in the desert), they also have a dinner menu and even bring it to your campsite! We may try that out tomorrow.

We will stay here three nights and then head west. Al will take some pictures tomorrow. Kasey is really enjoying the dog park!

Wednesday November 14, 2012

Back on the Straight and Level!

We have been here relaxing and waiting for the replacement landing gear legs to arrive from Ohio. UPS came through ahead of schedule, the parts arrived at Freddy's garage yesterday afternoon. We dropped over this morning with the trailer and dropped it into a bay then we took off for breakfast. The repair was done properly but it took a little longer time because of the gymnastics required to get it into the RV.

With the broken landing gear we've been on a slant as it's been difficult to level the RV front to back, it's annoying when the fridge door slams on your hand when you get stuff out of it. You can't see it in the picture below but the RV is level, but you can see the shiny new landing gear! 

One thing about staying in an area for a longer period is that you get some "local knowledge". The owner of the RV park let us know that the meat company across the road prepares choice steaks for all the local restaurants and he indicates that they are excellent. We pick up some rib eyes tomorrow to enjoy sometime farther west. You certainly can't tell from the building appearance that this is a good place to shop! It's directly across the road from the RV park.

We are off to Monahans tomorrow.

Sunday November 11,  2012

Ranger Texas

We are in Ranger at RL RV park, we are settled in to this full service RV park and we await the repair on the RV leg. The weekly rate here is $125, we are not sure how long the repair will take, the weekly rate is the same as staying for 5 days so we don't lose just taking the site for a week. The best case will be having the RV repaired on Wednesday and then staying overnight on Wednesday then heading west on Thursday.

Apparently the website hasn't been coming up properly, here is hoping that today's update will correct the formatting problem, I don't see the problem when I bring up the web site on my computer or tablet. Strange!!

The weather here yesterday was windy and there is a thunderstorm going through this morning, the weather is expected to improve tomorrow.

Friday November 9, 2012

Near Mt Pleasant Texas

We are at our standard spot here at Lake Bob Sandlin State Park after a bit of a detour getting here yesterday. There is a coal fired power plant here on the lake, it's undergoing some upgrades and the road by the plant is closed, we had to do a turn around and go south for 20 miles or so to get around the lake and back to the park. We did get to see some additional country though!

We are staying overnight, we make the trek through Dallas Fort Worth tomorrow, hopefully it should be OK as it's a weekend.

We got some good news on the parts front, the new landing gear (Al ordered 2 complete sets of gear with motor assemblies) Left Dayton Ohio yesterday and should be in Ranger Texas this coming Tuesday. This means that our stop there should be shorter than we originally thought.

A couple of interesting things were uncovered when the details of the landing gear were looked into. First the roadside landing gear which is bad (made be Venture) had a motor supplied by Lippert, not Venture. Second, the curbside gear assembly isn't from Venture as it's different. I believe that Lippert who manufactures the trailer frame and probably installs the landing gear before shipping the frame to Glendale had a "parts bin special" day at the factory,  they installed anything that was in the bin on that day. Considering that the frame was made in mid to fall 2009 in the height of the recession, I guess I'm not surprised. It may be that the two landing gears extend and retract at different speeds, that may have caused the problem.

This is what is being done to get the trailer off the truck at present:

The red jack is holding up the trailer, the leg isn't quite touching the ground but is there to support the trailer if the jack fails. We need to be cautious not to shake the trailer too much!

The weather here has been great, sunny and mid 20's C temps, last night was the first night that no heat was needed inside the trailer. Suzette asked Al not to photograph her, but she's far enough away that you can't really see her, can you?

The leaves are still coming down, there must be some kind of event this weekend as there are flags on some campsites:

We are off to Ranger Texas tomorrow, there is a full service campground there where we can wait for the trailer repair.

Wednesday November 7, 2012

DeGray Lake State Park

We got here around 1:00 pm today. The weather is improving, it got up to about 19C during the day and we enjoyed some outside time:

Kasey returning from his walk, with a piece of firewood!

Our view of the lake from the patio:

Another view:

It's a one day stop here, we head for Texas tomorrow. The repair of the landing gear has been arranged, parts will be delivered to a shop in Ranger Texas where we will arrive early next week.

Tuesday November 6, 2012

Village Creek State Park

We arrived here on Monday afternoon and set up in the rain. during the set up process the roadside landing gear on the trailer failed, the trailer dropped about 3 inches on the roadside but the other landing gear held. Today Al is checking out the cause of the failure, it looks like a pin holding a bevel gear on the leg upright broke so the leg doesn't move when operated manually or electrically.

We've been through landing gear difficulties before, we had a problem with the old trailer in the Yukon back a while ago, we got off light then as a temporary bolt replaced a broken gear pin. Unfortunately the whole leg assembly has to be taken out of this trailer to do the repair or replacement. We will look for a repair shop at our next stop in west Arkansas, there are no RV repair outfits here where we are. Al is hoping that this trip doesn't become memorable for RV problems!

We are still looking for warmer drier weather, it's been cool and cloudy here, west Arkansas promises to be warmer with temps in the high teens C.

We've seen some deer here although Kasey has yet to the first one to alert us to their presence! We also see lots of election signs in Wynne, the result today should be interesting, too close to call!

Sunday November 4, 2012

Natchez Trace

We arrived here yesterday and experienced our first day of really warn weather. Temperatures in the mid 20's C meant a switch to shorts and T-shirts and it was BBQ weather! The locals were also enjoying the weather, the campground was almost completely full as can be seen in the pictures:

The BBQ is all set up and ready to go!

Our neighbour is from Ajax Ontario and has a beautiful old Bluebird Wanderlodge, we've met him here before.

Lots of other campers!

Tomorrow we are off to Arkansas!

Friday  November 2, 2012

Kasey and the dog park

Kasey knows each of our stops that has a dog park, when he gets out of the camper where the dog park is located and he DEMANDS to be taken there! We've lost count of how many times he's been there today but he's worn out, he is asleep in the camper. He was a bit stiff this morning from yesterdays exertion in the park:

The leaves are still on the trees down here:

We enjoyed some outside the camper time today as it got up to about 20 degrees C. Tomorrow it off to Natchez Trace State Park, we've got the steaks ready for the BBQ!

Thursday November 1, 2012

A Bit of a Bo Bo!

We are in the Koa in Bowling Green Kentucky, we spent last night in Columbus Indiana, Al has been a slacker, he hasn't erected the internet dish until today, so no postings!

It's been one of the coolest trips south, around freezing temperatures and rain, even with the insulated leather working gloves the hands have dried out and are cracking.

Louisville Kentucky has always been a bit of a nemesis for us, even with a GPS and other directions we have missed the turn off of 465 south to 65 south of Louisville a number of times. This time our GPS took us off the highway and then told is to do a "U" turn (it wasn't going to happen in busy traffic with a 35 ft. trailer attached!). We took a local road that was designed pre-history, a sharp right turn resulted in a close encounter with a telephone pole, we wiped out the front awning on the trailer:

The awning moved forward enough that the rain "evestrough" over the door was bent, preventing the opening of the entry door to the camper. Pliers re-bent the piece back into shape. A trip to the Camping World in Bowling Green was made to ask about a replacement, unfortunately a new awning has to be ordered from Elkhart Indiana (7 to 10 days delay) so we will try to order one at a Camping World further west when we stay somewhere for a longer time. The good news is that there are no loose parts so we can safely travel without worry. It will be the first ever claim on our RV insurance!

We plan to relax here for a couple of days where it's almost warm and then head further west!

Tuesday October 30, 2012.

On the road!!

We left home on Monday so we could "get out of Dodge" before hurricane Sandy arrived. Yesterday it was very windy in the Windsor/Detroit area and it rained heavily all night.

Today when we moved over to Auburn using the Ohio turnpike the service trucks had plows mounted and they had full dump boxes of salt! I'm not sure about this global warming thing!

We are hoping that the weather improves as we head south, it's quite cool, about 1 or 2 degrees C, it makes it tough to set up and break down the camper in the rain.

Wednesday October 3, 2012.

Winter Trip South!

We are starting to prepare for our trip south. The RV has been cleaned and is ready, the truck is being serviced and things are starting to be put away at home.

Our landscaping guy is indicating that all signs point to a more harsh winter here, so we look forward to going south. We've already had 3 (light) frosts and we went from air conditioning to heat in about 15 days, so fall is definitely here!

We hope to leave before Canadian Thanksgiving so we don't have to winterize the water system in the camper.