Thursday, December 27, 2012

On the road again,,,,,,

I know it's been awhile, I'm bad........  Did you read my last post, a book report on The Clash of Generations?  I copied a portion of the book detailing the expenses of keeping up the house vs. hitting the road in the RV, full timing it.  It's still a good book that you should read.

Sun City Texas, a beautiful place to retire to. 
We sold the house in Sun City Texas (Georgetown) and now we are on the road, looking for a home with a RV garage.   It was a great house, and we loved Sun City, we were just never there!  Sandy still works (when she wants) 3 month contract jobs any where in the country, so now we just pull up in the RV and set up camp.  On her days off we get to tour that part of the country.  Sounds like the life, doesn't it?  We have full intentions of returning to Sun City Texas after we get done with this Gypsy phase of our life, in about 7 years.  

Just stopped along the Great Ocean Road to feed the wild birds.
Well, Sandy hasn't been doing much work lately, I'll have to crack the whip in a few months.  We got back last month from a two and a half month trip to Australia, which included a 36 day cruise, 3 weeks in Australia, and a two week cruise back to the states.  I call this our around the world vacation, we started going west and never turned around until we got back home.  Somewhere in the South Pacific, our home sold.  When we got back, we had a week and a half to pack up and get out.    

We are in north Texas for a few months checking out our new grandson, Kade Bradley.  He's 4 months now, and doing great!   It's a little chilly up here in the RV, but that's the sacrifice you have to make when full timing.  Not everything happens on your schedule.   Next year we need to be a little further south........

Our next big trip is a 48 day cruise from Long Beach CA to NYC, around South America.  We are excited about this one, we stop at 15 ports all along the S. American coast. And after THAT, Sandy has to go back to work.........

I promise to write more this year!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Book Review

I'm on another tirade! 

I’m reading a book called The Clash of Generations, by Scott Burns and Laurence Kotlikoff.  It’s about how broken our country is, and the politics that has put us in this position.  I like this book because it supports my view, that Congress is a bunch of crooks looking out for themselves and supporters.  It’s not just another book complaining about everything (well it does), but they have solutions to the problems, that make sense.

I want to offer a few excerpts of the book that I find useful to retirement minded folks.  This section talks about our choices at retirement, and how we can stretch our fixed incomes.  You’ll have to read the book to get the whole story, but here are the options in a nut shell.
            1.  Work longer
            2.  Own your home vs. renting, vs. RVing!
            3.  Investing
            4.  Move out of the country
            5.  Costs of our drugs
            6.  Senior Spending
            7.  Death
These are all personal choices we have the power to plan for.

Since I like RVing, I want to share what they have to say about that.  So, you retire, and say your house is paid off and is worth about $250k.  You’ve been working and earning about $65k a year and your wife has worked some during her career, bringing your total Social Security benefits to about $25.5k a year.  Oh, and you have about $250k in a 401k plan.  Sounds like you’re sitting pretty good, doesn’t it? 

Now your house is a little older and is going to need a new roof in a few years, appliances will need to be replaced/updated, and what about that kitchen remodel you’ve always talked about?  Using some financial software, Scott Burns came up with housing expenses should average out to be about $15k a year.  The same software says you should expect to live on $15k a year for everything else. 

What are your options? 
1.                            Stay in the house and mow the lawn for the rest of your life, and pay to keep up the house, having about $15k to spend. 
2.                            Or, you could sell-and rent a house; that would increase your available spending limit to almost $29k a year.
3.                            Or, you could sell, buy a used, nice sized RV and tour this beautiful country of ours!  After expenses, Scott figures you’ll have $39k a year spending power.  WOW!
4.                            If you can’t do that, then you could still save a bundle by moving to another part of the country where cost of living is lower and save between 20 and 50 percent from what you are paying now.  See Where to Retire magazine for broad overviews of the economic benefits and liabilities of moving to a different region. 

What have you got to loose?  Do you really have deep roots where you are now?  The kids have all grown and scattered like seeds in the wind, why can’t you?  This book explores these topics more in depth, and how to fix Social Security, Bank problems (we are no way out of the woods yet), investing, income tax reforms, and health insurance for all.  This is from a pure economic point of view, completely non-partisan (other than Washington has really screwed things up).     

I encourage you to read the book, and let your Congressman know how you feel.  Vote Purple!  (you'll have to read the book to know what that means)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ronald Reagan Library

We had a few days off so we went down to Oxnard CA, with the intentions of checking out Santa Barbara.  Oxnard was just the closest place we could find and use our Hilton Honors points for a hotel.
We stayed at the Embassy Suites right on the water.  The first couple of nights were kind of cold, but it did warm up where we could get down on the beach some.  

Anyway, Santa Barbara was kind of a bust.  We walked around downtown for a few hours, but it just didn't grab us like we thought it would.  

The next day we went a little further north to Solvang, a small Dutch settled town.  Now, we did enjoy that!  It was a very quaint town with Dutch influences, you know, windmills and such.  With lots of bakery's to choose from and some different kinds of shops, not the usual junk you find everywhere. That is worth a day trip if you are in the area, very friendly folks.

Today as we were heading home.  We decided to hit the President Ronald Reagan Library.  I wanted to see it because it has Air Force One from Reagan's years (B707).  I wasn't sure Sandy was going to like it, but she sure did!  She's not much for museums, and I've dragged he through the Smithsonian quite a few times, but she really connected with this one, as did I.  I think because we can remember this part of history as we were reading about all the displays.  They had AF1 and VVM1, of course; part of the Berlin Wall, Cowboys,  Reagan's touring all of the world, and just so much more.  I remember bits and pieces of these things, but it really comes back to you as you get to reading some of the stories.  Like in the gift shop, they had a CD of his jokes he told at each Press Conference.  I remember those jokes!  He always told a joke or two at each Press release, it was his signature.  And do you remember Jelly Beans?  That was another Reagan signature, he always had them on his desk.  

The Library is up on top of a hill, but through a winding road.  Now how did they get this B707 up here?  Inquiring minds want to know!

Well, they took it apart and trucked it up here, then built the building around it.  In front of the airplane is a wall of windows looking down in the valley.  The plane is sitting at the proper angle of attack, where a good gust of wind could set that thing flying right down the mountain!  

We spent several hours in there, just soaking it all up.  He was just an ordinary guy, who became President.  But one thing that happened; changed the world for him, and for me.  The whole world stood up and took notice when he told the Air Traffic Controllers to return to work or be fired.  They didn't, and he did; fire them all (1981).  Right then and there, the whole world knew what kind of man President Reagan was.  A man of his word.  He was to be tested several times after that, but he said what he meant and did what he said.  Hot spots like Cuba, Granada, Korea, and Russia.  He built up the Air Force, Navy, Marines, Army, with hardware and bodies.  If somebody was going to call his bluff, then he was going to be ready.  

Those were the good ol' days, when the President and Congress had their differences but worked them through for the good of the country.  Not like today, when everybody is out for themselves like a bunch of thieving  SOB's.  Oh, sorry, did that just slip out?

One last photo op with the President showing me around his ranch.  It was a great day............

Friday, March 30, 2012

Replace Backup Monitor

The B&W backup monitor went out on our '08 Tour.  Of course I looked on this forum to find out what others have done.  There is an outfit out there that has a color monitor and trim kit for sale, but I didn't want to spend that much, unless I had to.  So I tore it apart to have a look.  I noticed the fuse was blown, replaced it and it blew again.   I found a burn mark on the main chassis near the power supply area, so at this point I figured it was toast.

While I was tearing things apart I noticed one of the heat ducts was disconnected behind the dash.  My theory is, since it went out during a winter drive with all the heat on, that duct contributed to over heating the monitor.  All of the ducts behind the dash were NOT secured to the dash vents.  I secured all the vents with a screw through the flex duct into the dash vent.  I don't know if this came from the factory like this or if the previous owner had some work done in there.

After several months of research, I found a similar looking monitor on ebay, brand new VOM-784CT ($250.), used in Monaco coaches.  I took the chance and it works!  So here is the scoop.

The VOM-784 is about a quarter inch smaller, no big deal.  You do have to buy a separate interface cable for camera #1.

You can get it at, Voyager part number 31100033 (about $20.).

You have to switch two wires on the wiring harness.  The Blue and Green wires trigger the right turn camera, or the backup camera.  I just cut and spliced them.

Because I felt the monitor overheated, I mounted a fan on the back to help with the cooling.  This monitor sits right on top of the radio/GPS unit which produces heat also.  I wired the fan into the same power source as the monitor.

So, I hope this works for the long term.  The color monitor option will cost you  at least double, but then that would be a good excuse to spring for color cameras too............

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Got out of Vegas alive!

We made it back to Bakersfield with our wallets!  A friend gave us tickets to Blue Man Group and that was very nice of her.  We saw them in New York about 10 years ago, and the show is very similar, but different.  A good show, but expensive if you have to pay for it.  We also saw Frank Marino's Devia show at the Imperial Palace.  This was Sandy's favorite show when he was at the Riviera many years ago.  I think we've seen it about 15 times now, and still enjoy it.

Our new favorite Casino is  the Jokers Wild, out in Henderson.  We have a nice time out there and it doesn't cost us an arm and a leg.  $1 Craps and $3 Blackjack you can play a long time.  

We stopped at the Borax mine on the way home.  Very interesting, they don't make soap there anymore.  The Twenty Mule Team has been replaced by 250 ton ore trucks and long........ trains.  Borates are found in fiberglass, ceramics, detergents, fertilizers, wood preservatives, insecticides, glass, and many more products.  There are only a few mines in the world.  This mine started in 1927 as an underground mine, and went open pit in the 1950's.  

When we pulled into camp there was this beautiful fragrance in the air!  The Orange Trees are in full bloom!  Wow what a sweet smell!  The trouble is now we can't pick the remaining oranges.  They don't want us knocking off the delicate blossoms, bummer.  I've learned a little about the life cycle of oranges, just from observations.  After picking they come right back in to prune up the trees, because once the blossoms set you don't want to mess up next years crop.  I guess the oranges turn right around and produce fruit again and take all summer to ripen, until harvest next February.  Wow, that's a long time.  All the grape yards are leafing out now, do they have blossoms too?  The nectarines were in big full bloom before we left last week.  Their orchards look like fresh snow with all the while blossoms now on the ground.  Spring has sprung in the California farm fields!  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Off to Vegas!

Sandy has a week off, so we decided to go to the adult Disneyland.  We have a time share there and just like to chill, see a few shows, and loose just a few bucks.  

We made it across the Mojave Desert!  Not much to report on that trip.  I do want to see the Borax mine some day, we passed right by it.  The airplane grave yard looked interesting at the Mojave airport and the F15's were flying at Edwards AFB.  

In the Primm Valley, NV, we noticed several large towers being built out in the desert. Of course I wanted to know what's going on, and nobody back at the resort knew what I was talking about.  Thank you Google!  It is the Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System.  The tall towers will be solar energy collectors, with thousands of mirrors on the ground, concentrating the suns rays at the towers and producing steam to drive turbine generators.  They are busy out there in the middle of nowhere, to be complete in 2015, and supply power to CA and NV. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Oranges everywhere!

We just love it here at the RV park in Bakersfield, CA.  We've got two orange trees just loaded, right out our door.  We picked 60 pounds yesterday and mailed them out to some friends, it didn't make a dent in the trees!  The whole tree is still Orange!  We've had some wind lately, and Sandy watches her trees, so if one falls, she's out there to pick it up and she juices it.  She's getting a freezer full or orange juice now.

The park doesn't allow us to use ladders, but they have pickers for us to use.  A picker is almost like a Lacrosse stick, on a long pole with hooked teeth to pull the orange off the branch.  One of our trees must really be ripe, because I would barely touch the orange and it would just fall right off.  No wonder the wind was knocking so many off!  I finally got the hang of it, you have to get the basket under the orange before you touch it, just in case.  Other wise, it falls to the ground and gets juiced........

Oh no!  They are in the park pruning up the trees!  What am I going to do with all of these oranges!  

It's funny here, by night the whole park is full of rigs, and by noon they are all gone!  The manager says this is her busy season, but it's mostly in transit.  I see a lot of Washington and Oregon plates.  Snow birds heading south for warmer weather.  I talked to a few, and they always stop here for the night to fill up on oranges!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

made it to Bakersfield

We rolled into Bakersfield today.  Spent yesterday in the Mojave Desert.  It was nice weather!  I don't know what all the talk is about!  

This is a pretty cool campground, Orange Grove RV Park.  As soon as we got here, we washed our rigs at the free Wash Rack.  How cool is that!  Then we rolled into our space, we've got two Orange trees, all to our selves, and they are full of oranges!

Sandy immediately picked samples and made a mess in the kitchen.  Those oranges are so juicy!  She had juice on the counters and floor and all over.  What little I got in my mouth was really good!  Very flavorful, and juicy

I think we might like this town, there are farm fields all over the place, I think we'll have fresh vegetables all the time here.   

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New Snow Bird culture

I've always heard of the snow birds heading down south in RV's, and maybe renting in the Sun City complexes.  But we've just met a whole group of them in our Las Vegas timeshare!  I would have never thought of that, but it's a great idea.  You come to Vegas in the winter, when things are slow, stay a couple of months, see a bunch of shows, maybe play some games.  These couples cook dinner and have a couple of get together's each week in the owners lounge.  They are all from the northern states, of course.  

We had a good time at the wine and cheese get together tonight.  I had a great time talking to a retired Caterpillar engineer, from Peoria.  He had some stories of the engineering problems that they've dealt with all over the world.  Sandy was talking to the wives about how to maximize the time share points and all the good travel deals out there. 

We've enjoyed ourselves this week in Vegas.  Sandy's down time before she starts a new job in Bakersfield, CA.  We've walked all over the southern strip, and are up about $400 this trip.  That's big time for me, because I never play big, but took a chance on a $5 slot machine tonight.  

Viva Las Vegas!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Boondocking in Quartzsite

Our first real boondocking trip where we were planning to stay out a week or more.  We've been talking about it for a few months.  Then Sandy picked up a job in California the first part of February, so now Quartzsite is now right on the way to her work!  Gee how that just happened.

So, we looked around and found a good land mark to find our campsite, follow the yellow boot road........  Someone had decorated a desert trail with yellow boots and hats.  

We had a perfect spot right next to elephant tree, right out in the middle of nowhere, except for the other couple of thousand boondockers.  We got up on a little rise and could see hunderds of encampments through out the valley around this little town.  Each year this town gets over run with snow birds for the 10 day RV show, then Rock and Gem show, then the car show, during January and February.   

I don't have anything to compare this show with, but our neighbors tell me that there are not as many vendors at this show and the prices are higher, because the booth rentals are very expensive.  I don't know, but I do think we had better pricing at the FMCA show last spring.  So, we didn't spend a lot of money here, and we cut our stay shorter than what we planed, just because we saw it all and decided to hit the road.  It was pretty neat staying out in the desert, conserving our resources to see how long we could last, and we did a good job of it.  

Oh, and we met some interesting people on the road too.  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Extremely Loud...

Today I did some work on the RV.  Our monitor for the rear view camera went out on our trip, I was hoping it was just a fuse.  So I took the dash apart and found some heat ducts that were not hooked up and found the fuse I was looking for.  But, as soon as I put a new one in it would blow again.  That was not good, but I hoped it might be something simple inside the monitor case,,,, it was not.  The power supply was shot, burn marks on the mother board, so it was toast.  I did a little research and see several Winnebago’s are having the same problem.  So, while at Quartzsite, I hope to find a monitor that will work for me. 

We went to a movie tonight, one that we’d seen some previews for and actors that we like, but I really didn’t know what it was about.  It’s called Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  Part way through it I still had no idea what it was about and commented that to Sandy.  Then I got it (I’m a little slow), the last half of the show was very moving how it affected this boy and his mother.  The ending was a real tear jerker.  At the end, everyone filed out of the theater quietly, in reverence to what happened.  This movie affected everyone, as it did me.  You gotta see it.  Don’t look it up, go in there cold like I did, let it hit you……………

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sonora Desert Museum

We’re staying a few days in Green Valley Arizona, just south of Tucson.  We met up with some friends of Sandy's who she met in Australia a few years ago.  We had a great time with Al and Eleanor and toured the Sonora Desert Museum.  What a great place that was, we spent all day out in the desert with perfect weather.  If you are ever in this part of the country, this is a beautiful place.

Everything was outdoors; my highlight was a Rapture show where 4 Harris Hawks swooped over our heads.  These birds have adapted to the desert by hunting in a pack.  When the prey hides under a thorny bush, one hawk will land and attempt to flush the prey out the other side, where the others will be waiting on perches above.  These birds are like a pack of wolves, where there is an Alpha male and female, and two junior birds.  

They have other exhibits too, like mountain lions, bears, a hummingbird aviary, another bird aviary, bighorn sheep, and I've never heard of so many different rattle snakes!     

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Back on the road, YAY!

On the road again!  It’s been too long, not in the RV.  It’s been nice in the house, well kind of.  Been working my ass off!  I’ve been so busy, I can’t catch my breath.  So, it’s good to be back on the road.  But knowing Sandy, she won’t let me rest much.

I finished a second photo booth for our son in Dallas.  The first one went to our son in Albuquerque; they are both starting up a side business.  It’s a real cool design that my brother-in-law came up with (  You can check them out at and   I was under the gun to get this last one finished before I could leave on our trip, so I was working into the wee hours to git-er-done.

We are heading to Quartzsite for the RV and Gem shows, and to check out this boondocking thing.  We’ll probably freeze our asses off in the desert at night when our batteries run down and no heat!  But, I guess that’s all part of the experience.  We’re going to park at Camping World tonight, just north of El Paso, and visit some friends in Tucson for a few days before we get to Quartzsite.  We’ll probably have to stop at the largest flea market (always need fleas) in Mesa AZ, as we’ll pass right by it.  There is still some room in the basement for more stuff.

To all my friends in Chicago; Eat your heart out!  I’m camping and you are snowed in!  I hear it’s 20 degrees and snowing horizontal,,,,, nice…….