Saturday, November 25, 2017

Life at a Turtles Pace

A baby turtle climbing out of his underground nest on Cerritos Beach.
Making tracks to the Sea of Cortez.
Had to tell this fellow where the ocean is.
Most days we are no faster in our lives than these baby turtles.  We move slowly from one activity to another with a siesta in between for good measure.  Most days the big question is, "What's for dinner?"  The answer most days is, some kind of Mexican food.  After five years we continue to discover new dishes to eat.

Dinner for two.  Adobada tacos.  Cost about $7.00.
Yesterday we went on a road trip to Mesillias which is a furniture manufacturing town in the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains.  We have been replacing most of our living room furniture after 9 years of owning our home here in Mazatlan.  It is an interesting drive that ends in the middle of nowhere and has about a dozen furniture factories and large showrooms of high end furniture.  The craftsmanship is excellent and it all reminds me of nice European furniture.

Eva approved couch.
We have a new couch, loveseat and two new end tables with new lamps.  I'm still missing our bright red furniture but Terri said it was time for a change.  Also if you are observant you will notice that one large piece of blown glass is missing from the wall.  We had one crash and break into a million pieces this summer while we were gone.  The good news is that it is time for another road trip to Guadalajara for more blown glass.

November is always a month full of visitors for us.  This year there have been 17 family and friends here in town.  We have a one week break and then our daughter and son-in-law come to our condo for 4 weeks.  We also have two friends coming in on a cruise ship for a days visit.  Busy, busy.

Sunset behind Bird Island off the coast from us.
A custom Tikio painting.  Tom and Diana commissioned him to paint this Mazatlan corner.
That's Diana on the roof of Casa Haus.
Brother Dave strikes his Mexican pose.
It's been a good November here in Mazatlan.  We're ready for a snow filled Christmas season.  We'll see how that works out.

Life is good.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

A Little Financial Info for the Curious

I often mention that the cost of living in Mexico during the Winter is part of what finances our travels and RV'ing during the rest of the year.  Each year we can save up funds from our Social Security and retirement checks because it is almost impossible to spend an American income down here.  Even with the dining out and entertainment it still is easy to live below budget.

Another sunset from our balcony.
I sat down with last years receipts and punched up our costs to live here.  Some expenses continue every month even when we are not here.  Others drop off in the months we are gone.  For simplicity I did a 12 month average on annual expenses and only averaged monthly expenses for the actual months we are here in Mazatlan.

Here are our monthly expenses for 2017.  Prices are in US dollars for gringos.

Electricity (CFE)                -   $21.95 PER MONTH
Natural Gas (GASPA)        -   $11.91
Water (Jumpapan)              -    $9.21
Phone & Internet Telmex   -   $20.47
Shaw Canadian Cable TV  -   $25.00
Property Taxes - Condo      -   $19.38
Bank Trust (Feidisimo)       -   $33.83
HOA - Portofino Condo     -   $131.57


More information;  Our HOA - Home Owners Association - employees 10 full-time staff to serve the 91 condos in our two buildings.  2 maids, 4 guards, 2 maintenance men and two office administrators.  We have a contract gardening company to keep our grounds and gardens near perfection.  Our HOA fees cover common area and marina taxes, garbage and personal home owners insurance for each condo.

Mexican auto insurance is the same cost as we spend in the states.  We put our US insurance on hold, so financially it is a wash.

We also put a couple of our Verizon cell and data expenses on hold.  I have a Telcel Mexican phone that costs under $10.00 per month for phone and data.  Cheap!

Another weekly cost that we pay is $15.00 for a maid to come every Wednesday.  It is very common and maybe even expected to do this, it keeps the economy going and we must do our part.

One of the few things that is more expensive down here is gas for the car.  We don't drive many miles, so we hardly notice.  Buses and taxis are cheap so we often will use them when making longer trips around town.  An air conditioned bus is 11 pesos or 57 cents US.  Sometimes we will ride the cheap bus, 7 pesos.  A little warmer but always provides a story to tell later.

Groceries and dining out deserves a whole blog for that subject.  Many stories to tell and a few photos to show.  I love research.... let's go eat at a new place tonight Terri.

Life is good.

Just after sunrise this morning.

Day of the Dead

We're back to our normal winter life in sunny (HOT) Mazatlan.  It's November so lots of family and friends are in town.  Last night we went to Centro to celebrate Dia de los Muertos in the Macado (town square).  Thousands of people show-up for a great parade and entertainment.  We had a nice dinner and then the party started.

Dancing in the square.
Hundred of locals and expats painted up.
Elaborate costumes for the parade. 
Twirling fire in the crowd.  It's Mexico after all.
More dancing dead.
And dancing dead soldiers. 
Fifteen foot tall dancing skeletons joined the parade.
This skeleton swam through the parade.
My brother Dave found a dead bride.
It's another great beginning to a winter of fun in paradise.  Tomorrow night we will be back in Centro to do the First Friday Art Walk.  27 studios will be open to tour and wander through.

Life is good.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Why Did We Change Motorhomes?

Our new-to-us Holiday Rambler Endeavor 40 PDT - 3 Slides
330 HP Cummins Diesel with an Allison Transmission
So the question to answer today is, "Why did we buy another motorhome?"  Was it "RV envy"?  Did we need a bigger motorhome?  Was the LaPalma giving us problems?  Was it just time for a change after owning the gasser for 6 years?  Was I tired of owning a sea foam green RV?  Was it because my brother-in-law bought a 40' diesel pusher?  Was it because I had done all the improvements that I could do to the LaPalma?

There was no one answer to why I wanted to change.  I thought that it was time to own a big boy coach.  Here's how my thought process worked.

Our faithful old Monaco LaPalma 34 SBD
It sold a couple days after we traded it in on the Endeavor.
Six years ago we bought the Monaco LaPalma 34' SBD with two slides and a Ford V-10 gas engine.  It had 48,000 miles on it.  This year we passed 78,000 miles.  That's 5,000 mile per year during the time we owned it.  It was a great RV and we spent close to $16,000.00 repairing, improving and maintaining it during those 6 years. The depreciation on the motorhome during that time was another $16,000.00.

Our cost of ownership was $32,000.00.  That comes down to $444.44 per month over those 6 years.

Now 32 grand sounds like a lot of money but compared to owning the home on Raft Island it's a bargain.  My property taxes and insurance on that house were higher than my monthly cost of owning and maintaining an RV.

The LaPalma was a starter RV for us.  We didn't know if our dreams of traveling and being vagabonds was really something we would like and want to do for many years.  As we start our fifth Winter we are nearing the midway point of our 10 year plan.  We still love our traveling lifestyle.

A question I asked myself was, "Is the LaPalma going to last another 5-6 years and would we still be happy with it after 100,000 miles?  Was it time to start over with another low mileage motorhome?

The new-to-us Endeavor has 28,400 miles on it and it should be our last RV up until we are too old to travel this way.  I didn't want to get down the road 2 or 3 years and be faced with the decision whether it was worth changing RV's for the last few years of our travels.  I don't want the RV dictating that it is time to retire from our planned 10 year goal.

The most important feature is my 'old man recliner'.
So for me it was a long range plan to get an RV that would get us through those coming years.

We loved owning the LaPalma.  It was a part of our successful plan.  Hopefully the Endeavor will take us into our 70's when it will be time to hang up our traveling shoes.

Life is good.

Eva the Wonderdog seems to like her new motorhome.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Banff Gondola - Up, Up & Away

Friday morning we headed up the mountain that overlooks the Township of Banff.  It was time to ride the gondola to the top.  The view was great and there was very little forest fire smoke in the area.

Terri did the stair climb to the top of the summit by herself.  It only took her 12 minutes to reach the top.  You go girl!!!

After all that stair climbing (by Terri) we were hungry for lunch.  We had a very good lunch with an amazing view.

The girl earned her beer.
Celebrating Canada's National Parks 150 anniversary.

It was another very nice day.... life is good.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Alberta, Canada - Banff & Jasper National Parks

We are in Banff and Jasper National Parks for the next 7 days.  We are enjoying the mild temperatures and a lack of forest fire smoke.  The Canadian Rockies are stunning to say the least and even though this is a busy time of the year the parks are so big it still seems like the wild.

I'll jump right in and show you photos from our first two days.

Bow Lake on our first days drive up to Jasper.

We're going to  go walk on a glacier.
The only way up to the glacier is in this monster truck.
800 feet of ice underneath Terri.
Looking up the glacier.
Next we went to see the view from the Skywalk.  It is a glass bridge hanging out over a canyon.  It takes a little faith in engineers to walk out there.

The canyon 2,500 feet below a piece of glass.
Looking down at our toes through the glass.  It did not shatter.  Good.
The next morning Terri and I went on a hike to a waterfall in Johnston Canyon.  The colors of the creek that runs through the rocks is amazing.

The lower falls in Johnston Canyon.
The first few days here have been great.  We are really enjoying traveling with Terri's brother and sister-in-law, Shan and Beth.  Preparing and eating meals together is fun.  And the nightly board games make us all laugh.

Shan and Beth on the glacier.
And as all good Canadians would say, "Life is good, Eh."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Canada Trip - First Half

Bison up close.
We're having fun on our Summer trip to Alberta, Canada.  After two weeks we made it to Banff National Park two days ago.  Along the way we went to the Good Guys Hot Rod show in Puyallup before heading to Glacier National Park for a week.

Terri and her brother's 40 Chevy Hot Rod.
We stopped in Spokane so that Shan could put his Hot Rod in storage.  We will be returning in a few weeks to pick it up to attend the Spokane Good Guys show.

Glacier National Park.
We enjoyed a great campground at the entrance to West Glacier.  It was the perfect site for our next five days.

Our wheels for touring.
Last time we were in Glacier we used our Honda to travel over the Road to the Sun, this time we went in class aboard this 1936 touring coach.  The top rolled back allowing a great view as we traveled my favorite road in America.

Terri's toes in the river, as usual.

Next up for us was whitewater rafting down the middle fork of the Flathead River.  It was a blast and Shan came close to falling out of the raft in one rapid.  I pulled two ladies back in that went out in a big rapid.  It was a fun and beautiful day.

More to come as I get the time, too busy playing to write.

As always..... life is good.