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April, 2008

Tuesday, April 1:
No April Fooling I finally hit a royal this year!  And not just one but two today so it was a really great start to the month. 
I didnít have much work this morning so after finishing up I headed out to a few of the thrift stores.  After shopping some Iíd stopped in at the Cannery to play a little and hit a royal on the quarter machine for $1,000, my first one this year.  I soon quit playing and went home to pick up Mac.  He too was having a short workday today.
We headed out and went to lunch at Carlís Jr.  I still love their Santa Fe Chicken sandwich, itís the greatest.  After lunch we went to the Honda dealer and looked at cars.  Weíve been thinking about getting a new car and have been looking at several different ones.  Weíve about settled on a Honda CRV.  Weíre still thinking but we really like it more than some of the others that weíve seen.
Afterwards we went to the Sunset Station Casino and played for a while.  I again hit another royal on a quarter machine for $1,000 so I was extremely happy with this day.  We had dinner and came home with lots of money in our pockets.

Wednesday, April 2 -- Saturday, April 5:
On Wednesday we went to the SunCoast Casino played some and ate the buffet using a two for one coupon from the Las Vegas Advisor coupon book. 
On Thursday after work we drove to Ballyís Casino and checked into the hotel.  I received an offer from them to stay for two nights for free and Iíd also receive a Dooney & Bourke purse.  Well, of course we had to go for such a great offer!  Our room was very nice; quite large too.  It had a king sized bed, a large desk with a great work chair, a nice dressing area with its own sink separate from the bath area sink, tub, etc.  We also had a small coffee pot so that was great to not have to order coffee or run downstairs and buy coffee. 
The connection for our computers though on Friday was very slow.  It was frustrating trying to get any work done.  Thank goodness we only had to work one day on that slow speed. 
Friday for lunch we met up with Dan and Barb at the Mon Ami Gabi restaurant at Paris Casino.  We had a table outside and really enjoyed our meal and talking.  Mac and Dan have been emailing each other for quite a while so it was nice to finally meet.  We had a great time. 
Friday evening we walked to the Tuscany Casino and Mac signed up for a playerís card.  We played for a while and earned a comped meal that weíll have later this month.  Afterwards we walked over to the Hard Rock, browsed the gift shop and then played some in the casino. 
We walked to Terribleís Casino for dinner.  We both had the 16 ounce chicken fried steak for only $6.99.  Itís too much; we should have only ordered one meal and shared.  It was so good though.  After all the walking we did we were hungry but couldnít eat all the food they gave us.  We were so full and tired after dinner that we took a cab back to Ballyís.  We goofed off for a while, watched some TV and just enjoyed the view out of the big window.  I love seeing all the lights in Vegas at night.
We left Ballyís Saturday and returned home to our wonderful bed.  I was amazed that my hip started hurting after sleeping in another bed only one night.  I really love our Sleep Number bed; I get a great nightís sleep, feel refreshed in the mornings and donít ache at all. 
Saturday afternoon we ran a few errands and then went to the Palms Casino to play.  We then had dinner at Gardunoís Restaurant using our points to pay for the meal.  We split a large combo plate and tried some items that we had not had before.  It was good food and we had a great time this evening.

Sunday, April 6 -- Tuesday April 8:

I forgot to mention how nice the purse was that I got from Ballyís Casino back on the third.  It wasnít presented as well as the Coach purse I got back in March but itís a really nice purse.  The suggested retail price on it is $228; not a bad comp at all. 
These three days we played at the Red Rock Casino, the Santa Fe Casino, Tuscany and the Cannery.  Of course work was accomplished but we managed to have fun after work and on the weekend.  We also got everything ready to leave on Wednesday.
We had ordered our mail on Tuesday with the expectation that weíd get it on Thursday.  But for some reason they sent it ground instead of second day air so we had to wait and hope that our mail actually made it here before we left Vegas and thankfully it did.  We have to be in Long Beach for Mac to work on Thursday.
Mac has been having some trouble with his new phone, a Treo.  He called about it and was told he should just return to the store and exchange it so we went on Sunday.  Unfortunately, the store didnít have any more Treo's so the repair department reset the phone and said that may fix the problem and that if it didnít take it to another store. 
Wednesday, April 9:
We left the RV Park at Nellis AFB a little after 8am.  Stopped and gassed up the RV and hit the interstate for stop and go traffic through Vegas.  The wind had kicked up yesterday and today itís still very windy and gusty but we must go so away we drove. 
After entering California every vehicle must stop at an agriculture checkpoint.  The guard asked what state our vehicle was registered in, when I replied Florida he said heíd need to come in and look in the refrigerator.  Thankfully, I had just cleaned out the refrigerator yesterday so there was nothing in it like produce that would need to be confiscated. 
After that short stop we continued on and drove for the day about 6 hours to reach Seal Beach Naval Base.  The RV Park is very attractive with concrete pads and pretty flowers around.  We would show you pictures but no picture taking is allowed on the station without a security pass. 
When we checked in there was a swarm of bees on one of the parkís electric carts.  The bees were just clumped on the cart.  We think they were searching for a place to make a new hive.  Thankfully, no one was stung by the bees and when the weather warmed up in a couple of days the bees left for better places.
After dinner Mac and I drove over to Long Beach in the car to check out where the convention was being held that heís attending for the next three days.  We also stopped at the beach and walked down to the water.  Itís still windy and chilly but of course, I had to stick my foot into the water.  Boy was it cold too!  Nothing like the water in Florida, itís definitely water coming down from the north.
Thursday, April 10 Ė Tuesday, April 15:
For the next three days Mac worked the convention and I stayed home in the RV.  I also picked up some bug and felt horrible for several days.  The weather warmed up quite a bit too.  When we arrived it was cool, in the 70ís but it quickly rose to the 90ís over the weekend and then cooled off again back to the 70ís; weird weather for April.
After the convention was over Mac wasnít feeling well either so we rested quite a bit and recuperated.  We didnít plan on staying here this long but we both werenít feeling well so we stayed until we felt better.  Finally late on Monday we both started feeling better.  Tuesday after work we drove off station and did the laundry.  I was surprised how reasonable the prices were at the laundry, $1.50 for a good sized washer and only a quarter for 10 minutes on the dryer, not a bad price at all.
We also visited two grocery stores while here that we havenít been to before, a Trader Joeís and a Ralphís.  Mac has been to a Trader Joeís before but I hadnít so it was interesting to see one and of course Mac bought some wine.  Itís affectionately called Two Buck Chuck but itís really Charles Shaw.  Very inexpensive wine that Mac says is pretty good stuff.  Ralphís had several items on sale that we saved money on so that was very nice.  Also nice was that there doesnít seem to be any tax in CA on groceries.  Everything else may be taxed around this state, especially the gas, but the groceries arenít and that is great.
Wednesday, April 16:
Today we left Seal Beach just before 11:00 and headed north to Point Mugu Naval Station.  Itís less than 100 miles north, close to the Reagan Presidential Library which we want to visit. 
About 20 miles from our destination the RV started sounding funny.  So when we got to the exit we pulled off at a shopping center and checked it over.  The RV seems okay even though it still sounds wrong so we drove on to the Park. 
This RV Park is more rustic looking and not as manicured as the one in Seal Beach and we like it here.  Weíre only about 4 spots down from the beach.  As Iím working I can look out the window and see the water, itís so awesome to see. 
Right after lunch Mac and I headed down to the beach, kicked off our shoes and walked on the beautiful sandy beach.  The water is just as cold too! 
Thereís a harbor seal on the beach when we get there and there is caution tape surrounding it.  Later after the tide comes in and the water reaches the seal it got in the water and swam away.  Mac says that it must have been up in the rocks and when the tide went out it was just too far for the seal to get to the water; so the poor thing was stuck on the beach until the tide finally came up.  But thankfully the seal got in the water and seemed to be fine.
We walked down the beach and saw a place behind the beach and across the road that the harbor seals were at.  The water comes in behind there and the seals swim in and rest and just hang out.  We walked over and sat on a picnic table and looked at the seals through our binoculars.
Weíve really enjoyed today.  We went for a walk about three times on the beach.  We saw harbor seals and plenty of birds that we havenít seen before and weíve been looking them up in our book.  One bird that we saw in the RV Park is a white crowned sparrow.  Itís such a cute bird; it looks like it has skunk stripes on its head.   Hereís a couple of links to good pictures of the bird:  White-crowned_Sparrow White Crowned Sparrow 2  White-crowned Sparrow3
Tomorrow we have an appointment to have the RV looked at and hopefully it will be something very inexpensive to repair.

Friday, April 18:

We stayed last night at "Camp Cummins" here in Ventura, California.  They have water and electric hookups and a dump station.  Complementary coffee is served all day, and the lounge has a TV and a comfy couch.  The gates are locked at night for your safety, but you can come and go with a code for the gate.  You say you've never heard of Camp Cummins?  Well, it also goes by another name "Cummins Coach Care Ė Cummins Cal Pacific, Ventura".  Yep, we're in the shop. 
The motorhome has a cracked flywheel and we're waiting for the part to be delivered Monday.  Meanwhile we're hanging around and working in the customer lounge, and we've had the room to ourselves most of the day.  There's no wi-fi, but we bring our own.  I put our Linksys router with Sprint aircard in the corner, and Chris and I are both sitting on the couch working away!
So far I like this place. Of course, the proof is in the end result (cost, speed, and effectiveness of repair) but in the category of "accommodating fulltimers" they get a 10 so far!  By the time this is over we'll have stayed at least 4 nights.  Checking the local area hotels on the cheapest local hotel would have cost us over $360 for 4 nights.  Add to that the expense of eating out daily vs. using our RV kitchen, and also the inconvenience of being out of our home.  I think the cash value of their hospitality can easily be placed at $450 or more.  (If you're only reading about our repairs, click here to skip forward in the blog to the next report) 
Since we're "stuck" in town over the weekend we hope to visit the Ronald Reagan library Saturday, and the beach Sunday afternoon.  It's busy at work, so I'll probably work a little tonight and Saturday morning too.
The Official Blog of the Open Road
I've posted my weekly blog entry on RV NET.

Saturday, April 19:

This morning we worked several hours at our day job, catching up on a busy week.  Around 10 AM we headed out to visit the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum in Simi Valley, CA.  It's one of the destinations we've had on our list since we started traveling, and I'm happy we were able to go.  Besides being an enjoyable afternoon it was often a moving experience as it brought up memories that we hadn't thought of in several years. 

Caution, if you don't want to read about my political beliefs, skip this and the next two paragraphs.  If you're still reading, I'll share with you that I joined the US Air Force in 1977 and therefore served during most of the Carter administration.  During that four years our military forces became discouraged by what most of us viewed as the ineptitude and total lack of resolve in our government.  We stood by and watched as our enemies and foreign terrorists did pretty much anything they liked, including taking our citizens hostage in Iran.  We realized the rest of the world saw us as weak, a paper tiger, and that this would embolden our enemies large and small.  As a military person, you're in the greatest danger when your enemies perceive you as weak.

During the campaign, 1979-80, leading to the presidential elections it became obvious to me that our national crisis, both military and economic, called for a leader like Ronald Reagan.  I was happy to place my vote for him, and was thankful that he was elected.  It was a powerful affirmation for us when, just minutes after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President the Iranians released our hostage citizens.  Barely 10 minutes into his first term, President Reagan's legacy of Peace Through Strength had started being recorded for posterity.  Throughout the 8 years that followed we witnessed many events both international and domestic that caused us to be thankful for the choice we made on November 4th, 1980.  Surely the greatest of these was our victory in the Cold War, and the fall of the communist Soviet Empire, symbolized by the destruction of the Berlin wall.  Millions of Eastern Europeans became free people again, and the threat of total world-wide nuclear annihilation was next to eliminated. 

Ronald Reagan was a positive, enthusiastic, and direct leader.  He made us feel good to be Americans, and he had faith in the American people, and in God.  Ronald Reagan gave us hope. 

... end of political topic

Some of the things we enjoyed at the museum include the short films about the president and first lady, clips of old TV interviews and speeches, memorabilia and photos tracing the President's life, and the oval office recreation.  The Air Force One exhibit is excellent, giving you an inside and outside look at the older model based on the Boeing 707.  There is also a large fashion exhibit of designer clothing warn by Nancy Reagan, and it's scheduled to be there through November.  The narrated tour did a good job of placing this, and her, in context.  And of course there's the memorial which we visited to pay our respects.  I took quite a few photos, but lighting inside wasn't good and many areas prohibited flash photography.  No photos were allowed inside Air Force One.  You can see the better of the photos at this link

Sunday, April 20:

As Mac mentioned weíre staying at the Cummins repair shop.  Itís really great of them to let us stay here, weíre saving some money and we get to sleep in our own bed.  Thatís one less backache for me.

Carol, whom we met back in 2006, and a reader of our blog pointed out to me that the Point Mugu Rock is featured in many commercials.,_California

I hadnít noticed until she pointed it out.  From the beach we had taken pictures of it not knowing that itís famous.  We just loved the way it looked from the beach. 

As Mac mentioned also we went to see the Reagan library on Saturday.  It was really quite enjoyable for us.  One of the first short films that you see is about Reganís life.  We were both moved to tears by it.  I loved President Reagan.  I thought he did an outstanding job restoring Americaís pride.  He also did so much for the military, restoring the pride of serving our country, giving pay raises, so that those who served didnít need to be on welfare to support their families.  The greatest thing he did was increase our military and the SDI program so much that the Soviet Union could not keep up.  It fell apart.  We no longer live in the fear of mutual destruction.  Yes, we have different fears but we donít fear the finger on the button any more.

The library had an exhibit of Nancy Reaganís dresses and gowns.  She was such a lady and always was so stylishly dressed.  Some of the gowns featured were so exquisite.  She carried herself with so much grace and always looked beautiful.  She also did much to restore our pride in the White House. 

We enjoyed the library so much and look forward to seeing more of the Presidential Libraries across the country.  Of course, this one will always be our favorite because Reagan was our favorite president and because it was the first one we visited.

Today we went to downtown Ventura and walked around.  From different locations you can see the water from the road, itís so pretty here.  It always amazes me that there is the beach and then there are these tall hills and mountains.  Itís nothing like in Florida or the gulf coast where the land is at sea level.  Heck, most of Florida is at sea level, not much of it is very high.  It is pretty there and itís pretty here, just different.

After walking around for several hours we had dinner and then went back to the RV.  Weíre hoping that everything goes well and the RV will be repaired tomorrow and we can get on the road.  Weíd love to stay longer but we have a pile of mail waiting for us in Vegas so weíre going back there and will return to this area another time. 

Tuesday, April 22

Leaving Ventura
Our RV is finished and we've left Cummings Cal-Pacific Coach-Care in Ventura, CA heading back to Las Vegas as I write this and Chris is driving.
I say "finished" because although the cracked flywheel has been replaced we still have a problem.  No fault to Coach-Care, the cracked flywheel did seem to be the only problem, but alas there is still a vibration.  It vibrates at all speeds, worse when climbing hills, and varies with engine speed.  Because it varies with engine speed it can't be behind the transmission Ė not the u-joints, differential, a tire, etc.  It must involve the transmission input shaft or something forward, the torque converter, or the engine itself. 
What to do next?  The mechanic at Coach-Care didn't like the way the transmission shifted.  He said it's slipping between 1-2 and 2-3.  It has 105,000 miles on it, so my thinking is that I may as well replace it, along with the torque converter, and see if the problem goes away or not.  I could do it myself once we return to Las Vegas.  Nellis AFB has a nice auto hobby shop and I can swap the transmission there.  But do I really want to mess with it?  Maybe I'll just have it done if I can get a reasonable price.  I'm also considering that the harmonic balancer may be defective, even though the folks at Coach-Care said they inspected it and it was OK.  They did find a leaking power steering pump, and I've noticed belts slipping each time we start the engine.  I discovered online that these are also symptoms of a bad harmonic balancer.  So, I may just get that replaced and see if it fixes the vibration.
Have you ever used the website above?  It's a good resource for all RVers.  Anytime you have your RV worked on please post a report Ė both the good and the bad.  How will I rate this Coach-Care?   I'll divide my rating into several areas:
1.  Customer Care and Accommodating Fulltime RVers:  EXCELLENT, I give them a 10.   As fulltimers our #1 dislike is having to leave the RV overnight and stay in a hotel.  It's inconvenient, it puts you "out of sight" of the RV while repairs are done, and it's expensive .  Coach-Care let us stay in our RV 5 nights at their facility; we had water and electric, and it was great to sleep in our own bed! 
2.  Quality of work:  VERY GOOD (Only Fair) Cummins did a good job of what they fixed.  There is still a problem, but that happens sometimes.  They would have kept the RV and us another few days if we had wanted but we decided to leave.  (Rating changed in June to only "Fair".  See my follow-up post in June for details.
3.  Price and value:  JUST O.K.  This area is a tough call.  The original labor estimate (number of hours) was high, and I told them I felt that it was.  The final bill was "acceptable", but still higher than it should have been.  I'm basing this on both the actual time for repair, and on the standard time allowed "by the book" for this chassis.  I think I paid $400 too much for labor, but if I figure they saved me $400 by letting us stay in the RV then we came out OK.
Bottom line would I use them again?  Yes.  Would I recommend them to a friend?  Yes, but with the caution to watch them when it comes to labor hours.

Wednesday, April 23

Happy Anniversary to us :-)  Chris and I have been married 25 LONG... and wonderful years!

Monday, April 21 Ė Thursday, April 24:
We had to spend Monday night at Camp Cummins again.  The wrong part came in so we had to stay another day; but thankfully on Tuesday the right part came in and they finished up and we were able to leave.  We worked in the customer waiting room for 3 days.  It was great that we were able to use our aircard and our router for the wireless network.  Otherwise we would not have been able to work, technology is great.  The waiting room was okay, the couch and chairs get pretty uncomfortable after sitting in them for so long but we had free coffee and hot chocolate so that made up for the long wait. 
Mac dumped the tanks and filled with fresh water and propane at Cummins.  We hooked up the car and hit the road around 4.  Of course, we hit rush hour traffic but we finally got out of the LA area.  We also stopped for gas and filled up at $3.89 a gallon.  Wow, is gas getting expensive!
We were going to stop in Baker or somewhere for the night but I decided to just drive on to Vegas.  I was in the mood to drive and just get there.  Mac does a lot of work on the computer while I drive so he didnít mind that we continued on down the road.  We pulled into Nellis around 11:30 Tuesday night, by the time we got into bed and settled down for sleep it was time to wish each other a Happy 25th Wedding Anniversary. 
On Wednesday we took off early and went out to celebrate our special day.  We picked up our mail and then headed to the Palms for some play time.  While walking from the car to the casino we had to cross the entrance to the parking garage.  I heard a vehicle and looked to make sure it was stopping and noticed that the license plate said LIC2KIL.  Fortunately the driver wasnít in the mood to use his license so I made it safely across the driveway. 
We played and Mac had a winning night, but I didnít hit anything big and left with less money in my pocket.  At least one of us was a winner.  After playing for a while we went to the Tuscany and had dinner in the Italian restaurant Tuscany Gardens.  It was so good too.  I had Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo and the sauce was so incredibly creamy.  Iíve had some sauces before that tasted like flour and water but this sauce tasted creamy.  Weíll be back to this place!
On the way home we stopped at Vonís grocery.  They had sugar free Marionberry pie and I grabbed one.  Vonís is a division of Safeway so they carry the same great pies.  I did notice that the price had gone up from last year too; itís now $6.99 for the pie.  Wow, those gas prices are hitting everything.
Thursday after work we again went to the Palms and played.  We had dinner at Panda Express and brought some home for lunch tomorrow. 

Friday, April 25

Have you ever listened to Earl Pitts on the radio?  Well here's my best impression:

Ya know what makes me sick?  Ya know what makes me so angry, I want to crawl naked over a barbwire fence into a shark tank?  Milk packaging, that's what.
Now let me ask you this little quiz.  What COLOR is the carton (or the label on a plastic jug) for WHOLE milk?  Think of the answer then use your cursor to highlight and read the answer in the following space ( RED ).  That's right, we all know that don't we?  It's universal isn't it?  Whole milk comes in a red carton.
Now I love whole milk, but 2% is a less fattenin' and artery cloggin' so I've been drinking 2% most of my adult life.  Using it in coffee too (or actually Chris does 'cause I drink my coffee black).  I can tolerate 1% milk OK when necessary, but there is one thing I just can't stand, and that's drinking "Fat Free" milk.  To start with have you ever looked at it?  It looks like what I pour out of my milk glass after rinsing it out with water.  Worse still, it's just about tasteless, and has a thin, unsatisfactory texture in the mouth. 
Ok, now here's another quiz for you:  What color is a carton of 2% milk?  Think of it and highlight and read the answer in the following space ( BLUE ).   Did you answer the same as me?  Just the other day we went out for groceries in Ventura California and I bought a 1/2 gallon of milk in a blue carton thinking it was 2%.  NOT.  It was that "Fat Free" stuff -- yuck.
WAKE UP AMERICA!  Milk packagers need to agree on standard colors.  Look at the artificial sweetener industry!  Pink is Sweet-N-Low, blue is Nutra-Sweet, Yellow is Splenda, etc.  If they can do it, you can do it!  :-) 

Saturday April 26:

My weekly post to the Blog of the Open Road on 

Friday, April 25 Ė Sunday, April 27:
On Friday we took off work a little early, took a nice shower over in the bath house and hit the road.  We stopped and picked up our mail.  Then we went for me to get a drug test for my employer.  We wound up stopping at three different places to get it done.  The first place we stopped at, because it was the closet to us, wonít do a drug test without a doctorís order.  Thatís just plain silly.  They lost out on some money.  The next place we stopped at does do private drug testing but they were so busy that they suggested we drive over to one of their other locations and the wait wouldnít be as long.  So away we went for another drive, and she was correct the wait wasnít very long at all.  So we got that taken care of and now it was time to play and have some fun. 

We went to the Palms Casino, mainly because it was the closet one and we were tired of riding around.  We played for a while, had a good time playing.  We decided to have the buffet at the Palms.  Weíd eaten there before and didnít like it so we thought weíd give it another try.  It was pretty good even though I still think they donít have enough vegetable choices on the buffet.  It was Friday so there was a lot of seafood on the buffet too. 
Saturday we worked some in the morning and then cleaned house a little bit.  After lunch we took a shower and hit the road.  First stop was at the Sprint Store.  Mac returned a headset that heíd bought and didnít like.  He wanted to get another kind but they didnít have the one he wanted so he just got a refund.  Speaking of Macís phone we forgot to mention that while we were at Seal Beach California Mac had to take his phone in for an exchange.  The reset that was done earlier this month didnít correct the problem so he had to exchange it and get a new phone.  The new phone is working well for him, much better than the first one.  Now if he can find some headset that he likes heíll be doing great in the phone department.  So far heís tried two different kinds and didnít like how either of them performed. 
While on the way to the Sprint Store we were stopped at a red light and I noticed a long line of cars at a gas station.  Mac looked and said ďNo wonder thereís a line the price of gas is only $3.10Ē.  So we got in one of the lines for gas too!  It actually didnít take that long to get into the station and get some gas either.  We were really lucky that we were entering the gas station from the shortest line direction.  We got in and out fast.

We went to the Honda dealer and picked out a new car.  Weíre buying a glacier blue Honda CRV.  Weíll pick it up on Monday after they finish installing the extras that we got and taking off the extras that we didnít want.  We feel that this will be a good car for us and is a good value for the money. 
Our old Honda Civic served us well for 12 years but itís got over 164,000 miles on the odometer, that doesnít include how much weíve towed it either.  The air-conditioner doesnít work, the passenger window quit working, it isnít as peppy as it used to be, and the engine is so tired.  Also at times various dashboard lights would come on indicating a problem.  Usually when one of the lights would come on Iíd tell Mac and heíd say whether or not it was a problem that needed to be addressed right away.  One day we had just merged onto the highway and I said ďWell, thereís a light Iíve never seen beforeĒ.  Mac looked over at the dashboard and I pointed out the flashing green light and he cracked up.  He said ďChris, thatís the turn signalĒ.  Sometimes I am so silly, arenít I? 
Buying a car takes a long time and we finally got done with all the paperwork around 8:00.  We decided to just have some fast food for dinner and go home.  We stopped at Carlís Jr., our favorite fast food.  I had the Santa Fe Chicken, of course.  Mac tried the teriyaki burger; he says it was pretty good.
Sunday after working some in the morning we went to the Tuscany Casino for lunch.  We split a burger and then played some in the casino.  We then went to the Palms and picked up our free gift of a tote bag.  We played some too of course.  Then we went to the Red Rock Casino and played some.  We ate dinner at their buffet, it was very good too.  We earned enough points for one of the promotional items of a free polo shirt.
After eating dinner we headed home and stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up a few things.  We eat out just about every evening but we still need to buy breakfast and lunch items to eat in the RV.

Choosing a new car took us several months.  A few years ago I said that I'd never again buy a new car, but I've changed my mind because we keep a car so long -- 12 years and 160k+ miles for our Honda Civic. Given this, I believe starting with a new model is probably a good decision. 

We had a brief love-affair with the Toyota FJ Cruiser, but several problems caused us to break it off without proposing marriage.  To start with, the FJ Cruiser isn't towable 4 wheels down in stock form -- yep, that's a biggie.  We'd have to spend about $1500 on the driveshaft disconnect from Remco, and still have worries about warranty coverage.  It also weighs over 4000 pounds, making it harder for our gas engine motorhome to tow.  Finally, the FJ only gets about 15 MPG average.  So we needed to find something else.

I looked at many resources online, but two were key to our decision.  First was the Motorhome Magazine Dingy Towing Guide (pdf) and second was the US News compiled ratings for affordable compact SUVs.  We originally were looking at something with more off-road capability, but realized that we'd only rarely make use of that aspect of the vehicle.  We chose the Honda CRV, All-Wheel-Drive version, based on:

  • Towable 4 down without modification
  • Top rated within its category
  • Fuel economy
  • Weight
  • Honda reputation for reliability and our own experience
  • Price 
  • Safety
  • Appearance

We're going to pick it up late Monday afternoon, and I'll report back on our experiences in future weeks.

Monday, April 28 - Wednesday April 30:

Not much happened on Monday.  It was a back-to-work day so that took most of the day.  We couldnít pick up our new car this day; one of the features we wanted wasnít in yet so it will be Tuesday before we can pick it up.  Monday evening we did some laundry.  Mac cooked us dinner and we stayed home. 
On Tuesday after work we picked up the car, yea!  Mac drove it and I drove our old car.  We went to the Palace Station since it was the closest to the dealer.  We used a coupon and had the buffet for dinner.  We donít care for this buffet so we wonít come again, even with a coupon.  We played a little and then drove home.
On Wednesday we drove over and picked up the results of my drug test.  Amazing how it agreed with me that Iím not a drug user!  We then drove over to the Tuscany and played a little.  Mac drove over to the Hard Rock and got a t-shirt while I played.  Tuscany has 5X points on Wednesday and Sunday so we try to play there on those days and earn more comps.  
After about an hour of play there we drove over to the Palms.  We swiped our cards and I won a nice tote bag; Mac won 1,000 points that will be added to his card.  After playing a little we ate dinner at the Panda Express using our comps.  We really like their food and they serve large portions especially if you get it to go which we do.  I like to take my leftovers home for lunch the next day. 
Well the month of April is over.

Time for the monthly camping expense report.  We're doing great for average nightly expense, especially considering that we spent 8 nights in California at Navy RV parks for $23/night.  That's a great price compared to local civilian RV parks, but a lot more than we like to spend.  We balanced it out somewhat by having 5 free nights at the repair shop (if you can call that "free") and one free night when we arrived back at Nellis AFB Famcamp.  

Year to date Avg $ per Nite Avg $ per Paid Nite # Dry # Elect # FHU # Free %Dry % Free
2008 $8.45 $10.02 91 7 23 19 75% 16%
2007 12.12 12.53 62 21 40 4 50% 3%
2006 11.63 14.85 52 7 58 26 44% 22%
2005 10.98 13.51 70 4 49 23 57% 19%

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Continue to May 2008

What did we do in April's of the past?  Take a look at:

April 2007

April 2006

April 2005

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