Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Excellent Border Crossing At Laredo II

Took off at 7:30 this morning.  Pulled the trailer out of the drive without a hitch (actually the hitch works great now!).   Stopped for gas and to air up the tires and headed through Monterrey hitting a bit of morning traffic although light as school is out this week and next.

We headed for the libre.  Smooth as glass and I insist it is just as good if not better than the autopista.   Stopped in Sabinas Hidalgo and prepared breakfast with leftovers from the fridge at home.  Off we went again for the border arriving in Nuevo Laredo at noot.  Took us an hour to cross the bridge and the U.S. border agents were fantastic.  Funny and talkative, we had a woman at the booth and she talked up a storm.  Off Juan went for his permit and I headed for the X-ray machine.   Took twenty minutes for both and off we went to San Antonio.

Just had a nice dinner with friends and we are driveway camping at our neighbor's house.  

More tomorrow.  It was a great start and everything is working well.   The pins I installed for the hitch worked great and we never dropped a bar. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Last Sleep Before Launch!

We can't get any more ready than we are now.  Everything is packed, trailer loaded and hooked up.  All systems are go and it looks like tomorrow will be a breeze to the border except for the permit process.  What the heck, we're on the road!

So, you won't hear from me until tomorrow night sometime.   Early bird gets the worm.  First stop is San Antonio to see the accountant and do a touch up on the house, painting the fascia that was replaced last week.

Monday, April 14, 2014

We Need To Simplify

 First time in 13 years we have turned off the refrigerator.  This is the original fridge we bought when we moved in here. 

Getting ready for the trip today I cleaned out the refrigerator and got it packed with newspaper.  I washed linens and blankets and pulled up the rugs from the living room and the dining room.  They need to be vacuumed and the woman who is coming to clean doesn't know how to use a vacuum or to change the bag.  Too much to explain so they are in the bedrooms.

We had the gardener and his wife over tonight to give them their lists of duties and show them around the inside of the house.  I also decided to pay the electric and phone bill for the next four months just to avoid any problems via internet that we could have.   Done, no worries and no "OMG, I forgot" and life goes on without any problems.

What I did discover was that we have way too much stuff in both the house and the rv.   "I" could live out of a suitcase and a laptop bag.   Odds and ends, and leftover bags, containers, salt and peppers, soy sauce packets, triplicates of cookware, dishes, 1000 coffee mugs, clothes that are not used, well you get the idea and the list goes on.  

Tonight we had happy hour in the rv and went through all the cabinets eliminating and consolidating whatever we could.   We have decided to travel light including clothes.   This may be a lesson learned when we get back home the end of August.  

BTW,  many years ago I developed a system called, "My Life In A Box".   But that's another story!

Tomorrow is laundry, packing up the clothes we are taking and hitching up for take off on Wednesday morning.  I apologize for my mistake on dates.  For some reason I thought that Wednesday was April 15th.   That's when we are leaving for Laredo.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Couple More Sleeps

Yesterday was a fun day and a day off before gearing up for packing.  We went to a baptism for our friends who recently adopted a baby.   They are very good friends of ours and waited for almost two years to be approved only after classes and psychological, physical and financial evaluations.   If anyone deserves to be parents these guys do.

We spent the afternoon there not getting home until almost 9 o'clock.  Oh well, it was a fun day.  We started out at the church and then headed over to the quinta in Monterrey.   A beautiful place they rented and invited 100 guests.  We had snacks, drinks and then carne asada with all the trimmings.  The kids swam in the pool.  

I want to make a comment about the event.  All of our friends there, or at least the majority, are first generation graduates from the university.   Most of if not all of their parents didn't finish high school and worked in factory jobs, had a small business, market, etc.  back in the sixties and seventies.   Not rich by any means.   Their parents, now retired and on small pensions have to be proud of their kids.   All of these people worked and went to school, got a good job, a degree and now live very comfortable and productive lives.   So, I guess what I want to say is that it isn't all "woe is me, I'm a poor Mexican".  It's about making something out of your life.  Our friends are younger than we are, 30 to 45 years old.   They have worked hard to achieve what they have.   Mexico is on the move and truly growing.

Today, we went shopping for all the supplies we need to take with us and what we need to keep the house going while we're gone including cat food, chlorine and chemicals for the pool.   I picked up some of the hottest salsas I know of in Mexico for my BIL in Reno.   He loves that stuff!

We cleaned out the shed in the backyard, loaded some stuff in the rv, cleaned the bathrooms,  cleaned out the pantry and most importantly was to replace the pins on the weight distribution hitch.   No wonder I had to use hose clamps to keep the bars in place.  The lugs, or pins, were pretty much sheared off to nubs.  It's not like I can go out to the Eazlift hitch store in Monterrey and pick up a repair kit.  I ordered it online and had it shipped to our friends house in McAllen and I picked it up on Thursday.  You need four hands and a double set of reading glasses to get the job done and we did it.  The bars stay in place.  I'm not taking any chances and keeping the hose clamps in place.

Tomorrow we need to have the security company do some adjustments to our DVR and software, clean out the refrigerator and talk to the gardener and his wife about their lists of duties while we are gone.   

One small glitch.  In today's paper, people were complaining about the U.S. border agents.   The wait to get your permit is up to eight hours.   Everybody wants to travel to the U.S. to visit relatives and the people asking for permits say there has been no additional agents added, no overtime authorized, and most of all, no understanding on the part of the U.S. agents to speed up the process.  To bad we don't have a place to stay overnight in Nuevo Laredo.  We could go late afternoon and get up at three a.m. to get the permit.   We may cross the border and put up with the two hour crossing and then spend the night going back after midnight to get the permit before heading to San Antonio.

Now, a steak is on the grill and a cocktail in my hand.   I am ready to roll!  Viva Canada! or Oh Canada!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Let The Vacation Begin

Got home to Monterrey around 7 p.m. and had a cocktail waiting for me and it was well-deserved.  A great drive home through Mexico and there were 10 Federales, 4 military patrols, 2 state police, and one state helicopter overhead.  Interesting fact, last Semana Santa there were no crimes reported on Nuevo Leon highways.   Let's keep it that way.  BTW, I made the news again today in Monterrey.  As I was heading south of Monterrey heading home, there was a carambola (pile up), seven cars and traffic was at a standstill.  I called the news and reported it.   Five minutes later they called me back to verify the location.   20 minutes later they announced my name on the news and what I reported.   

Time to relax.  Tomorrow we have a baptism to go to and then starting Sunday packing up the trailer and tying up loose ends.  I'm ready and I bet you are too.   We plan on posting pics of our adventure.  I am receiving lots of good info via the blog, email and the forums about routes to take and places to stay in the U.S. and Canada.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Trip To The Border

First thing is the price of gas in McAllen is skyrocketing.  Great, just in time for our trip!  Average here is $3.39.   

I headed out from the house at 6:30 this morning stopping for gas knowing I would hit traffic in Monterrey.  A few observations of that ride.   LEDs have taken over almost all the street lights along the highway into town and throughout all major avenues in town.  The look and the feel of the lighting is much better not to mention the energy savings.  Monterrey generates the electricity from a landfill using methane to power generators.  This power is for street lighting and running the subway lines.   Traffic was really flowing well and I was on the autopista at 7:30.   

I'm sure you have heard of the shoot outs and road blocks in Reynosa last week and the 28 bad guys who were taken down (they never win).   Our state government recommended we stick to the toll highway and not drive through Reynosa using alternate bridges.  Security would be beefed up and there would be no issues.  Okay, I had planned on taking the libre as we have been doing but was told at home not to take any chances.

By the time I got to km 26 outside Reynosa, I had had enough.  Not one federal patrol, no military and only two of our state patrols during the whole trip.  I got on the phone and called our local tv station and left a comment with one of the operators.   Five minutes later I get a call from home saying that they announced my name and my remarks.   That started a whole set of news reports.   Ha ha!  What a waste of 300 pesos, and the libre is in better shape and more scenic.

The bridge wait was over an hour and the usual inspection.  Went to the office, picked up materials and dropped them off at the school for tomorrow.  I arrived to the hotel at 2:30, took a nap and checked my mail and now I'm off to do a little shopping.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Smooth Sailing Ahead

I can't think of anything left to do.  We did all the banking stuff today, I had a bad wheel bearing changed out on the VW, got my Mexican tax return from the accountant, and I am packed and ready to go in the morning to McAllen.  If I make it through this trip and come home on Friday night it is smooth sailing ahead.

Saturday I will be doing things at my leisure packing up the rv and making last minute fixes.  I think I can adjust the rails on the bedroom dresser to an upward position and that will fix the problem.  The cabinet door fits perfectly and I just need to find the hinges or whatever those thingies are called in McAllen and I may just take a cabinet sample to match the paint.   

The only other thing to do is to collapse the lot and the house into a bunker and then we're ready to go!  You can't do any more than we have done.   Time to have four months of fun and what happens, happens.  I bet all you snowbirds had the first time jitters too!  Now it's our turn.  

Here's to a good event in McAllen and a great weekend!  I need to start brushing up on my Canadian and my French.   I have my white socks, camera strap, baseball hat and 100 SPF so I should look just right to be out of place!

If you were to ask me what I am thinking about now in terms of the trip it would be Hwy 90 through West Texas.   Oh man, crossing the Pecos River.   What a sight!  

(Sandy, if you're reading this we hope to see you guys soon)