Thursday, February 28, 2013

Trying to Catch up, Part I

You may all know that I have been out of circulation with my blog since I spilled Gatorade on my laptop. It would not boot up at all. I took it to be serviced in Playa Del Carmen and although the computer would boot up, the keyboard was all but unusable. The señorita  at the service shop recommended using another keyboard with a USB connection. I tried that and it was marginally better, but not good enough to do anything. If I chose to look at a blog, the blog would load and immediately go to the oldest blog on the list. If I brought up a page it would immediately go to the bottom and I could not change. There was an interesting phenomenon with Streets and Trips. When I would go to a route on file it would come up fine, but if I went to do anything on the map, the world would spin and spin, finally stopping on the North Pole.
My IT Tech son told me that there was still a problem with the keyboard and to try to remove the ribbon cable from the motherboard. I did so and the computer worked OK with the Mexican/Spanish keyboard. I found a new keyboard on Ebay for $11.32 with free shipping and I’m using it now. Installation was a breeze and I’m using it now.
OK, when we left off, we were still in Xpu-Ha, in the campground with friends who felt more like family. Our last days were spent dining out. Of course, Friday night was pizza night at Leo’s and we had the usual turn out.
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From the left is Carol, Me, Ann, and behind Ann is Gerry. From the right is John, Shirley, Rob, Reed, and Glen.
Another night a bunch of us went back to Oscar and Lalo’s.
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Around the table from the left is Reed, John, Peggy, Helen’s seat, Me, Shirley, Rob, Gerry (Brenda’s Gerry), Maddy (Gerry’s Daughter) and Brenda.
Not having our fill of dining, We went to an Italian restaurant in Puerto Adventuras With Shirley and Rob.
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It was a perfect evening! The temperature was comfortable and the area with the lagoon and shops is really pretty. I couldn’t help but wonder how I managed to live this lifestyle. Rich and Famous? No! But check us out Robin Leach.
All too soon it was time to leave Paradise and head toward home, via San Miguel de Allende. I worried about the topes in Tulum and crossed them slowly and carefully, listening for the sound of the motorhome scraping them. It never happened. However, Somewhere beyond Tulum we came over a rise or around a turn and encountered an unmarked tope of considerable size. I jammed on the brakes before making contact but it was too late to diminish speed enough. We bounced with quite a jolt. When I stopped to assess damage I was astounded to see the way the receiver extension was bent. What worried me more was that the bumper on the Jeep was bent up at an odd angle.
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The rear mount of the base plate was torn from the chassis.  This picture was taken after the base plate was pushed back quite a bit by a “solderer”in Escárcega who removed the bolts. There was about a four inch gap between the bracket and the chassis at first. I made it back to Inverness by making many, many wraps of nylon cord around the base plate and the anti-sway bar. I monitored it closely and had no further problem.
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The first day we made it to “La Selva” a small restaurant that allows you to overnight when you eat there. Helen and I ordered quesadillas and we saw the waiter/chef dash out in his truck for supplies. The food was good and the cost for dinner for two with sodas and overnight parking was 120 pesos. Our next night was spent in a Pemex station someplace between Villahermosa and Puebla. Then Cholula, and finally San Miguel.
In San Miguel we met up with some old friends (friends from last year) and some new friends (friends we met this year). We certainly were not surprised to see Sue and Brian, since we were there to see them, but we were shocked to see Mollie, Pat and Mike’s lovable dog, in the campground. We met Pat and Mike again later, but they were just passing through.
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 Most campers going to Mexico would not venture there with out Church’s Mexican Campground book. Here are, left to right, Mike and Terri Church and our friends Sue and Brian.
This was our first day and Sue and Brian became our personal guides to the wonders of San Miguel, but that will be in the next blog.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Note from Texas

We have made it successfully to a campground east of Houston, Texas, but it was not without incident. Leaving Xpu-Ha, I was a bit concerned about the very high topes ( speed bumps to non Mexicans, pronounced towpay), but it was needless. I drove very slowly over them trying to hear the scraping sound of something under the RV, but there was no noise.

Later on, I was not as fortunate. Coming around a curve at considerable speed, I came to an unmarked tope of considerable size and although I tried to brake as much as possible before the front tires hit, we took an awful jolt. When I pulled over to look at possible damage, I was SHOCKED to see the tow extension bent up about 30 degrees and part of the base plate was torn from the car. With few options, I used many, many wraps of nylon cord around the tow plate and anti-sway bar. later I tried to get it welded in a good sized town, but without success.

Our first night was at the Selva Restaurant and our second was in  Pemex station. The third day we made it to SMA to meet our friends Sue and Brian. Sue took Helen to Delores Hidalgo one day and toured the Talavera factory and then they went shopping the next day also. We had a good time with the people at Hotel Rancho San Ramon. There is a lot of land there and the dogs had quite a good time doing more running than they have in a long time. 

I had a problem with the engine overheating on the hills and that had never happened before. Even running in low gears and keeping the RPMs up didn't help. Finally, I stopped and hooked up the hose to my water pump and gave the radiator a good, long back flush. I was shocked at the amount of dirt that has accumulated in the radiator during my driving over the dusty roads of Mexico. It's running nice and cool now, but I do have a small coolant leak which I think is coming from the low coolant level sensor. It's happened before.

After spending another night in  a Pemex, we approached Columbia Crossing early this morning. I wish I could say it all went well, but it wasn't as smooth as it could have been. In Mexico, I pulled into a wrong place, (well out of the way, but the wrong place) so I had to make another trip around the complex to park exactly where some parking attendant wanted. Then I turned in our Tourist Permits. The Immigration Officer wanted to see the receipt that said we paid for them. Who keep that? I don't even remember seeing the sample he showed me. He checked on-line and since we passed through that same office only a few months ago he was able to validate that we were leaving.

Over the bridge to USA. I stopped on the bridge and walked to customs to find out where I should go. Last year I got the royal run-a-round. One arrogant agent told me that if I could pass through the car lane, fine. Otherwise I would have to go through Cargo. I took a good look at the car lane and reasoned that I could do it. Please note that there are straight through lanes, but they were closed. The one open lane required a close turn, but I was confident I could make it.

I got back to the motorhome and pulled into the car lane and Mister Arrogant said "You can't seem to follow directions, I told you to go through the cargo lane." The other agents told him to leave me alone and we were visited by the agent that has the drug dog. He didn't come in with his dog, just to inspect and he got along great with our three. Something about dog people. Finally got the signal to go and we did. Much better than last year, but I could have done without the attitude on BOTH sides of the border.

I'm still working with Old Faithful, my Dell computer, so there are no pictures, but I hope to catch up when I get home.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

How to Compound Computer Problems


Friends who know me understand that I am not to be trusted after I have taken my sleeping pill. When my sons call in the evening, they will ask if it’s OK to talk to me or am \I under the influence of my medicine. Unfortunately, Helen isn’t always able to keep me from doing something stupid.

Several days ago I got up in the middle of the night to email a friend. He replied that I must be hanging out with a new group of people who were taking me home drunk. When I checked the message, I was embarrassed at the gibberish that I sent him.

that didn’t keep me from trying again a few nights later. I went to bed with the thought that I would have to get a new water pump for the motorhome and decided to do some web surfing in the wee hours. It just happened that I was also thirsty, so I turned on the computer and got a bottle of Gatorade. Somehow, the drink got sloshed over the keyboard and the result was not pretty. The next day, the computer would not even turn on. I found a place in Playa Del Carmen and took it in for service. It was ready in a few hours and I picked it up. In the shop it worked very well. Back at the motorhome it had a very hard time booting up and would not respond properly. It was back at the shop first thing the next morning.

I picked it up again this AM and was told that I would really have to buy a separate keyboard as the damage to the original was too bad to fix permanently. Drat!!!! A quick trip to Walmart and my problems were solved. NOPE!!! NOT QUITE!!

Here is where I tried to insert a picture of the new keyboard, with all of the Spanish punctuation keys, but the system will not ley me do so.

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Oops, I found another way. Just another work a round, one after another. You may notice the letter ñ next to L. I did that by using the Alt key and 0241, which you can do on any computer. BUT, if I actually hit the ñ key, I get ;. Some of the punctuation I can get by looking at the laptop keyboard but some I cannot locate at all.


This my PC connection right now. Pathetic, isn’t it? This is the penance I will have to pay until I get back to my desktop in Florida. Gosh, am I a L O N G way from Florida.