Saturday, May 27, 2017

Motorhome repair Blog #426

Well, I feel pretty good taking my electric passenger seat out of the motorhome to be recovered. Damn thing must weigh 70 or 80 lbs.

The dogs had no part in this damage, the upholstery guy says it's from bare skin and body oil. I told Carla, " no more riding naked in the coach. 😂

This is where I excel, taking things apart. (not so much the other way around)

Base plate and electronics.

Base plate attachment, swivel plate and motors add up to more pounds. At this point I was able to reattach a cable for swiveling the chair backwards, which came apart two years ago.

The new leather seat is looking good.

Not a bad match to the back of the seat. It's not like you can match 14 year old leather perfectly.
Thanks to CnT Upholstery in Kettle Falls.

In the next two weeks comes a new paint job. A common problem is that the black paint heats up and causes the clear coat to crack and peal.

Casey's in town will mask and remove all the damaged black paint and redo it. Can't wait to see how this turns out because if I had to have the whole coach painted, I'd be looking at $25 to $30 thousand. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Winery's near Colville, Wa. blog 425

A few days ago I blogged about a winery near the Canadian border called China Bend Winery which was cute, orderly and organic.
Today we visited another local organic winery near us on the Columbia River.

The Barreca Vineyard is about 20 miles south west of the house on the Columbia River. Whereas China Bend Vineyards was finely manicured, Barreca was more of a natural vineyard, something I might of developed.

Cheryl and Joe first started this vineyard because they like to drink wine 30 years ago, but when they started producing more wine than they could consume, selling it seemed to be the right answer.

Cheryl was very happy to have us sample six of their organic red wines and one Riesling, and explained how each wine came about. No tasting fee here, but if I like the grape, I always try and support local businesses.

Joe explained that oak barrels impart too much of a oak flavor into his wines and he wants the wine to taste and smell more like the grape than the oak. Each glass bottle has a hyper atmospheric device that tells Joe when the wine has stopped maturing and ready for bottling. They use no sugar in the product at all.

Joe and Cheryl are classic 70's hippies. Their "hobbit" house was Joe's design and built in the early 90's. 1400 square feet, two bedrooms and energy efficient. Cheryl said the house has 3 1/2 miles of rebar in the concrete. I believe this because she also showed us a scrapbook and one photo had a D-7 Cat bulldozer pushing dirt up on the top of the roof.

Joe explained his wonderful Marechal Foch and Lici Kulhman vines and also explained how his 40 years, he'd had made mistake after mistake, but learning something new from each failure.

While we were out on their 8-10 acre vineyard, orchard and garden area, Carla thought they could be fairly self sufficient with all the food, wine and hobbit house, I tend to agree. Cheryl was such a trip to talk to and loved showing us every plant on the grounds, I had to use the dogs at home as an excuse to hit the road.

Lightning and thunder shortened our stay anyway, but all an all, every stop showing Cherie around has also been a learning experience for me.

Besides the few bottles of wine we bought, we were sent home with some fresh Morel mushrooms that Cheryl said they got while mushrooming on Saturday. Cherie had not seen one before and Joe told his wife to give us a few for cooking. I think I saw Cheryl give Joe the stink eye, because most folks that hunt these mushrooms are very secretive and possessive about their prized shrooms.

About 5 minutes after getting home we received a pretty good hail storm. Good planning on our part and a quick 1/2 inch of rain.

Carla and Cherie recounting the days trip. I'll be sad to see Cherie go home, because Carla enjoys having her sister here so much...and so do I.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Health Care 424

Health Care 201

With all the talk about healthcare recently, for and against Obamacare, I'd like to add our story to the mix. 
During our 34 years in the casino business our healthcare was behind the curtain. I say this because we never really had to think about was always there, just waiting for us. 
Costs were minimal, co-pays small and it was capped at a $1,000,000 lifetime limit...yea, like who'd ever come close to that. In the 34 years I had my insurance, I'd had multiple broken bones, approximately 12 or 13, two severe foot operations and I had a nasty bout with cancer, but last I remember before retiring, I'd had only used $185,000 of my $1,000,000 limit. 
The insurance companies pooled all the monthly insurance payments together and provided excellent coverage, this kind of reminds me of the "single-payer" system. 

Unfortunately in our occupation, when you retire, all benefits cease, zilch, nada! I was fortunate, or depends on ones perspective, because of a service connected injury, as the VA was responible for all my medical and prescriptions, 100%. Donna on the other hand had no medical insurance and when her cobra ran out we got one of those $1,000,000 "catastrophic" policies where she pays quite a bit monthly but if something bad happened, they would pickup the costs after a $10,000 deductible. 
We felt safe with this because really "who in the hell will run up ONE MILLION DALLORS in medical costs? Did I mention we were slightly naïve?

Fast forward three years later and we find the house of our dreams in the state of Washington. Four months after becoming Washingtonians, OBAMACARE or what should be called ACA, became available in our welcoming state. 
Donna's premium went from $477 a month for catastrophic only to $145 for complete coverage, wow...we couldn't believe how lucky we were to be in such a beautiful and progressive state. 

Now the bad news. 

Two months after Donna was accepted into the ACA program she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. 
During the next 13 months, with 8 of them being in a hospital, Donna and her doctors fought to win over this frightening blood disease. Chemo for 2 months in the hospital (which failed) followed by another chemo trip for another months stay before the only option was to get a bone marrow transplant at the University of Washington near Seattle. 
The only hitch was that SCCA wanted $100,000 up front for acquiring the bone marrow from the hosts. It costs about $125,000 and the insurance would only allocate $25,000 towards this, so against Donna's wishes, I proceeded to take a first out on our house. Luckily, the doctors fought and made the insurance company pay the total cost for harvesting the marrow. 
The transplant would require Donna to stay up to 21 days max for the transplant and after more chemo and ended up being 5 months!
Donna beat the leukemia, so they say, and was sent home in a very weakened condition and only lasted 5 days, before she was flown on a medevac jet back to Seattle, only to be told there was nothing they could do. 

Why am I reliving this horror?
So you aren't fooled by any phony "HEALTH CARE PLAN" that won't protect you, your family...or your life's savings. 
Donna's total bill for the 13 months was $2,300,000...TWO MILLION THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS!
Who paid this? The pool in Washington did, our share of the cost was a little less than 10%, but remember when I thought ONE MILLION was a ridiculous amount of money? Think again.

Do I want to say thank you to Mr. Obama...damn right I do, "thank you Mr Obama".

Do I want to say thank you to the thousands, if not millions who pooled there money into an insurance fund to help Donna, yes I do, "thank you". 

Donna didn't survive, even with the worlds best doctors and equipment, but thanks some thoughtful and intelligent folks in D.C., she had a chance, isn't that all we can ask for?

We are the richest country in the world, yet we are ranked 37th in the world for health care. 

The 1% hold half of the wealth in this country and because of our tax codes I can end up paying more, percentage wise, than most of the richest people do. How is this fair? A flat tax, no deductions or exemptions would solve a lot of budget problems. 

Be humble and kind

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Two years ago today.....

41 years ago, if you had looked up in the dictionary the definition of a "hot Mess"... you would of seen my face.
After having two failed marriages in the same amount of years, I had no intention of developing anymore relationships for quite a while...considering my poor record. Hell, one of the reasons for picking Chico State College was an attempt to put the past behind me.
Things went well for months, I'd go to school, work and fish on the weekends. My life revolved around those activities and not partying the nights away. One of my principle hangouts was the Denny's, in downtown, where believe it or not... a lot of ideas and soul searching went on, all the while consuming vast quantities of coffee.

 I drove through Chico with the motorhome on my way south for the winter in 2015 in an effort to recreate

some of my memories of the past. I found the Denny's, with its new name, Jack's, still with the same ambience that I remembered over three decades earlier. 

I told the manager of my "trip down memory lane" and asked to take a picture, which he graciously agreed.
The empty first seat is where I'd park my butt and read textbooks or cram for that mornings test and not once did my waitress (who also attended CSU) me way. I'm sure I had cost her a few bucks in tips by hogging my seat.
My typing skills at the time were poor and I asked my waitress if she would be willing to type some of my school reports...I'd pay for this of course, it was the least I could do for costing her money by camping on the counter.
There was a bit of flirtation going on for weeks, until I got up the nerve to ask my waitress out on a date. Unfortunately, she accepted, which actually made me more nervous.
We had a few dates before I told her my extensive history of failures, but this did not frighten her at all. She did mention it seemed like I had a many layers of walls I was hiding behind...Oh, did I mention she was a psych major?

By now I am sure you know the name of my waitress, and probably my life saving angel...Donna.
We dated for another two years before getting married in 1978. 
Donna never, ever, pushed to make me a better and more responsible person...she just led the way and I followed willingly like a puppy dog. Without me knowing it, she shaped me, like she was molding clay with the gentlest hands, into someone who could also see the good in other people, just like she could.
Who knows where I would be today without her guidance and gentle ways, I have my own ideas, but none of them turn out very well.
I believe everyone has a sponsor on earth to help them grow. Most of us rely on our parents for this job, sometimes it's a complete stranger and other times it's their soul mate who completes you as a person, as in my case. It's pretty easy to spot people that never hooked up with their sponsor, just look in prison or the poor and bewildered walking the streets.

You've heard the term "natural beauty"? Well Donna exemplified that term to a "T". Not just in looks, but she never had a bad word about anyone in the 40 years I knew her, other than maybe the man that married her mother, a guy named George, who took all the heritage that was left by her father and than mother, who died while Donna was just a teen.

To me she was just as beautiful when sick, as she was at anytime of our life together. It was an amazing testimony of willpower and so sad to watch the person you've loved completely for years, undergo such hardship and pain, yet never complain.

Even when things were not looking up for Donna, her concern was for me and my health. Because of her path...showing me how to live life, she allowed me to believe in love and to continue my life as she would of wanted me too. Donna was very concerned about my recent weight gain while being her caretaker and insisted I do something about it. She also knew and helped care for my father with me the last few years of his life and she did not want me to live without a life he did for nearly 30 years.
Dad may of been happy with that, but Donna knew it would not be good for me.
Because of her guidance, I am very open to finding someone I could go through the remainder of my life with a person that is honest, loving and open to adventure.

Life offers no guarantees but my thought is that Donna had a hand in finding Carla to join me. Carla is not threatened at all by my love of you...she encourages it and understands that people's hearts are big enough for more than one person to occupy the space.

Is this my last relationship? Time will tell but my feeling, and how I developed it in the last 41 years... believes it is.

RIP Sweetheart.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

When a zoo is not just a zoo!

Because of the poor internet service I've been forced to post my blog on facebook. I tried many times on how I might transfer the Facebook blog post to my actual blog with out much success. Facebook is very good at allowing you to share posts from any website, they are not that great at reverse sharing.

I did find that when I save a post to is in link form, which I assume is the best I can do.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Wild weather here in Palm Springs blog #421

I can't get much hiking or walking in because of the weather, so I'll go out and look for rain damage just to get out of the motorhome.

This has been a very common sight the past week or so here in the desert. Normally I would not go past the signs, but in this case when I entered, it only said "flooded"...while I was in the canyon someone posted the closed road sign.

I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of waterfalls flowing down the cliffs.

For a desert, things are greening up nicely.

The rain is cutting into the road, even on this small wash.

This wash was easy to ford, the next one...not so much.

Normally this is just a trickle running across the road...not so today. There were at least three waterfalls in the background.

It may not look like it, the only road to Whitewater nature area is under this water.

This water is on the opposite side of the valley and is runoff from the San Jacinto mountains, whereas the WhiteWater River flows from San Gorgonio Mountains. They both meet up and head for the center of Palm Springs.

These two washes have the effect of closing many roads in the valley.

This is a major link to Palm Springs, Indian Canyon Rd. Along with this one, there is Gene Autry, Vista Chino, Araby Drive, Golf Club Dr, Cathedral Canyon, Frank Sinatra and Dune Palms to name a few.

On the way home I thought I'd go visit the canyon I walk to and though from the RV park. I saw a couple heads and two big 4X4 trucks nearby. Everyone was looking and talking about how to get the late model Infinity (I believe) out of the wash.
Mind you...there is not a paved road for a mile. What kind of special drunk do you have to be to think you sports car can drive through washes?

They were pleasant kids but I couldn't help to comment that that is the nicest looking "dune buggy" I'd every seen.
That's enough for now as my time at Starbucks is nearly over and the dogs bath at Petsmart should be done soon.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Willis Palms Oasis hike blog #420

Certain things have kept us from hiking much in the previous week, doctors appointments, wind and rain, but today it is too beautiful to stay indoors.
This morning we drove to the Choachella Valley Preserve to check out some palms we had seen in the distance from Thousand Palms Canyon Rd.

We chose the Willis Loop Trail which is about 4.5 miles in length and within rock throwing distance to the San Andres Fault.

Up the sand and rock wash we go...

Lucky for us there were occasional markers to keep us on course.

The loop took us up a gradual elevation change of approximately 700 feet, deep into this canyon.

Parts of the trail were blocked by an impenetrable line of rocks...apparently they really didn't want you to go down this walkway.

It's amazing to me that with the force of the wash at times, this Smoke Tree could not only get started, but grow to this size.

Carla is standing on some ancient Pliocenes fill, most likely squeezed up by the Mission Fault. The yellow dirt must be very toxic, because not a blade of grass or and other vegetation was visible.

We finally came upon the Willis Palms.
A devastating fire in 2010 burned most of the palm skirts that house many animals, including bats. The birds, mammals and vermin are working their way back.

Some of the younger palms only lost a small amount of palm skirts.

This panoramic photo tries to give a view of the hundreds of palms.

Just like in any forest fire, nature skips over some of the vegetation to use as a nursery for new growth.

At the end of our hike we were afforded a good view of the Willis Palms and San Gorgonio in the background.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A hike up to the microwave towers above Desert Hot Springs. Blog 419

This was an aggressive hike for a Sunday morning, but it feels good to push physical boundaries at my age. 

The tower is directly below the red dot. 

First thing was to check the altitude at the park because that red dot looks like 2000 feet higher in elevation, to me.

 We ignored all the "no trespassing" signs. I know from my hike last year they allowed hiking...just stay away from the microwave tower. 
Sorry about the quality of some of the photos...there must of been a smear of suntan lotion on the phone.

Carla is quite the trooper, she just puts her head down and climbs up the very steep road, one foot at a time.

Just a few more feet to go...yeah!

 Made it! We definitely wanted to stay low and away from the microwave antenna. 

What I thought might be a 2000 foot rise in elevation turned out to be only a bit more than 1100 feet difference from the bottom to the top. It sure felt like a lot more though.

These three antenna are the nasty ones we were warned about. They emit a very strong microwave, much like a microwave oven, in a straight line across the valley. 

This 100 yard section of the dirt road is the only piece paved, because it is the steepest part of the road.

Carla escapes by the skin of her chinny, chin, chin!
We had such a great hike and the weather was perfect.

I so glad we had a beautiful Sunday because when I woke up yesterday this is what greeted me. I never even got my Fitbit step minimum in on Monday.