June 2005

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Saturday, May 28 Ė Sunday, June 5:

While here in Las Vegas we ate out 1 or 2 meals daily using the coupons that we had.  We visited several casinos and played a lot of video poker.  Mac enjoys playing poker so he got to play in a couple of tournaments and several 2-4 and 4-8 Texas Hold ďEm poker games.  We also took the RV in for an oil change and to have the radiator flushed and filled.  We also worked too.  (Remember, we're only semi-retired :-) -Mac.)

Here in Las Vegas weíve noticed that it gets daylight very early out here in the west.  Weíve gotten up a few times at around 5:00 and itís already light outside.

We like the roads here in Vegas also.  A lot of the streets are 4 lanes and well paved.  They seem to have done a good job of planning for the future growth in Vegas.  We didnít run across any major road construction that you usually see in a fast growing town.  The road planning has kept ahead of the growth it seems.

The temperature has also dropped back into the 90ís which is in the normal range for this time of year.  We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here in Las Vegas.  But we need to head out and continue our adventures so:

I'll give you an idea of the coupon savings Chris is talking about above.  These coupons were from the Las Vegas Advisor.  See their web site, and the last few entries in our May blog for more info.

1. Roberta's Steakhouse at El Cortez (yes, it's somewhat of a dive, but the steakhouse is good and the place has a lot of nostalgic old-Vegas feel.  Give Downtown a chance!  Our coupon was for $25 or 50% off the total bill up to $25.  We saved $25.

2. Pasta Palace in Boulder Station Casino.  2 for 1 Entree, we saved $13

3. Dinner at Manettie's Italian.  2 for 1 Entree, we saved $15

4. 2 for 1 buffets at a half dozen casinos, saved about $9 to $15 each time, total of over $60.

5. Match play coupons worth $10 to $25.  I played several and won all but one of them, total win (from coupons) was about $50

6. Also, we had comps earned from playing and used these for several free meals.  

We had a great time in Las Vegas, but it was time to go, and we could leave on a winning note.  After losing a LOT of money the first 1/2 of the trip we started winning.  Here's some of our better winning days:

  • Main Street Station, downtown.  Chris and I sat down together at Quarter, 8/5 Bonus Poker machines....  OK, I should stop here and explain what I'm talking about... 

If you don't know what "8/5 Bonus Poker" means, it's a shorthand way of saying what pay table the machine has.  Video Poker is much better than slots because you can tell in advance what the payout is programmed to be!  You do this by knowing how to read the pay table.  Of course, you also need to learn to play solid basic strategy.  If you just sit down and play without knowing basic strategy you'll probably lose more than you do at a slot machine! 

If you're familiar with Blackjack you know what "basic strategy" means.  In every situation there is a statistically correct (best, most profitable) way to play.  If a dealer has a 6 showing, you're not going to hit your 14, are you!!??  NO, because statistically the dealer is likely to bust with a 6.  That's basic strategy.  I'll post some links at the end if you want more information. 

  • ... so to continue the story; we each put $20 in a machine and start playing.  Soon we're each hitting 4's of a kind (4OK) including 4 Aces (400 coins).  Main Street Station gives you a little bonus when you hit a 4OK, it's a scratch card worth between $2 and $500.  We hit 12 4OK's and one Straight Flush (250 coins), so we got 13 scratch cards.  We cashed out after about 2 hours with $638, including $38 from the scratch cards.
  • One night at the Palms, Chris had several good payouts on video poker, and I won 2nd place in a "sit-and-go" Texas Hold'em tournament.  We left that night about $500 up.
  • On our last day in Las Vegas, I played in the 2pm No Limit Hold'em tournament at Binion's Horseshoe.  It's a popular daily tournament and draws 80 to 150 players.  Buyin is $70 with one $40 add-on/rebuy, so only $110 total investment.  There were over 100 players that day, and I was fortunate to make the final table!  I was short to medium stacked all day, but made a couple of nice hits at the final table, busted out one player and took my stack up to 3rd or 4th.  A couple of guys were overdue at another tournament and convinced us to split up the prize money 8 ways, with the 4 chip leaders taking a larger share.  I made almost $1000.  A very nice way to end a Vegas trip!

Links to information about Video Poker:

http://wizardofodds.com/videopoker

http://members.cox.net/vpfree/Col.htm

With all the play and work (we still put in a lot of hours for the business) there wasn't much time for things like writing the blog, so we're just now catching up (June 6th).  We didn't even take pictures, well, we did take one, here's our site at Desert Eagle RV Park, Nellis AFB Famcamp.  Notice the snow capped mountain in the distance.  Nellis has large lots, not many trees (good for satellite coverage) and it's well maintained.

Our RV Site at Desert Eagle RV Park, Nellis AFB Famcamp

Monday, June 6:

Today we left Las Vegas about 7 in the morning. We got up around 5 because it was light outside and the birds were singing ďGet up, get upĒ. Weíve seen some interesting birds here, Roadrunners, and I think there were some California Quail too. Weíve decided to leave while we were winners and to come back again and see more. There is just so much to see and do in Las Vegas.

We head south on Interstate 15 heading for California because we heard California is the place you want to be so we loaded up Ö. oh wait thatís the wrong song. It should be on the road again.

We drive up and down lots of hills and the RV is doing good, no more having to turn on the heater to cool it off. In Barstow we take Highway 58 and head for Edwards AFB. We are crossing the Mojave Desert and there isnít much to see.

When we left the Petrified Forest we drove through purple wildflowers for as far as you could see. When we left Red Rock there were areas where there was red Desert Paintbrush for as far as you could see. Today there were golden yellow dried grasses for as far as you could see. Some of the hills were covered in them looking like huge golden nuggets.

We arrived at Edwards AFB before 2:00 and found a site in the FamCamp. When you drive onto the base there is a huge lake that you drive by, Rosamond Lake which is listed as dry but itís not right now. It was surprising to see it because until you got up next to it you donít realize that it has water in it. The water looks thick and is the same color as the lake bed. Edwards AFB is a huge base of over 300,000 acres and it seems to be in the middle of nowhere.

"Dry" lakebed.  Water several inches deep has caused a lane closure on this side of the road

Iím glad to finally get here. The drive here was slow and arduous. In several places the wind was so strong and gusty that we were driving about 40-45 MPH to keep control of the RV. Itís still very windy here at the camp. Mac checked on the internet and found that there are gust of 50 MPH expected today. We wonít be putting up the DataStorm today. The phone service is on digital roam here. So I donít think weíll be staying but one night here.

Photos are now uploaded for 5/21/05 of the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest.  These were great places to visit and beautiful scenes.  Check it out!

And remember the interesting and odd signs in people's yards we saw in Amarillo, TX?  Well, a reader emailed me and provided a link to the story about these.  Here's the link.

We saw an interesting series of signs while approaching Edwards AFB too.  Remember the old BermaShave signs?  OK, I don't either, but you've heard of them, right?  OK, picture this.  To get to EAFB you go to the middle of nowhere, turn left, and drive 14 miles.  You're driving up a slight hill and can't see what's on the other side.  You notice these signs about 1000 feet apart....

I was too slow to take a photo of the first one.  It said:

"If You've Been Drinking"

...after the last sign you pop over the top of the hill and there's the gate and checkpoint for the AF Base.  LOL!

 

Tuesday, June 7:

We decide to leave this morning since there isnít anything to see around here (Edwards AFB). We left early and headed for Coarsegold to go visit Yosemite.

Yesterday, I shouldnít have said that there is nothing to see in the Mojave Desert.  There is more plant life than I thought there would be in the desert.  I always pictured in my mind that the Mojave Desert would look like the Sahara Desert.  Maybe part of it does, but what we saw had a lot of varied plant life.  The Joshua trees are really interesting to see.

Today we drove through the Mojave Desert and headed north on Highway 99.  We drove through Bakersfield and then on to Fresno.  The landscape changed from desert to agriculture.  There were so many different crops to see.  There are groves of fruit and nut trees, fields of different plants and a lot of fields of grape vines.

In the median section of the highway there are all different colors of Oleander in bloom.  It is so pretty to see.  Usually that section of the road is boring with just grass and weeds to see.  This was so beautiful to see in full bloom.

In Fresno we head north on Highway 41.  The landscape changes to very hilly.  No more agriculture fields to see, just lots of hills.  Itís very pretty too.  This is starting to look like country where one could find a gold nugget or two.

About 5 miles before Coarsegold is an Escapee Park, SKP Park of the Sierras.  Weíre going to stay here during our visit to Yosemite and the surrounding area.  This park is so attractive.  Itís one of the prettiest parks that we have been to.  Since the weather is so nice weíve decided to dry camp here.  We can always get a full hook-up site later if we want.

 
If you're not an Escapee member I recommend checking them out.  It's NOT like buying into a CCC or Thousand Trails park or anything like that. Yes, they do have co-op parks where you can lease a lot, but that's not required to be able to enjoy the benefits!  It costs only $60/year for membership and you get access to all the SKP parks -- I believe there are 19 in all, and the cost is only $2.50 a night for dry camping and something like $10 to $16 a night for full hookup.

 

SKP Park Sierra, Coarsegold, CA

 

Our camp site,  SKP Park Sierra -- dry camping $2.50 a night (Escapee Members Only)

 

 Wednesday, June 8:

Today we get a lot of work done on our business side of life.  Afterwards we drove up to Coarsegold (donít you just love that name!) and looked around.  Itís a small town of less than 1,000.  After going to the post office and other related errands we decide to drive on up to the town of Oakhurst which is about 7 miles north on 41.

Oakhurst is a much larger town and has at least 2 grocery stores in it.  We didnít find one in Coarsegold.  We went to some local shops and then to the grocery store.  We shopped at Vonís grocery store.  I didnít think it had much variety in it, I wanted to buy some cauliflower and they didnít have any except some that was already cut up and in a basket exposed to the air so it looked dried out.  Afterwards, we went back to the RV.

The only complaint I have about this area is the speed limit on highway 41.  Itís 55 MPH, which I feel is too fast since most people go faster than the speed limit.  The road is a 2 lane road with occasional pullouts to allow cars to pass.  The road is hilly with lots of turns.  I donít like it because of the fast traffic.  Why does everyone want to go so fast?  They should slow down and enjoy the view.  Itís a beautiful drive that is ruined by the speed.  But thatís just my opinion.

Thursday, June 9:

After working some we finally are going to visit Yosemite.  Weíve been told that this year is the best year in recent history for visiting the park.  There was a lot of snow this past winter and a wet spring so the waterfalls are full of water and the creeks and rivers are full.

After entering Yosemite we go to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia.  Giant Sequoia trees are just that, giant.  They are so tall and very big around.  They are amazing to see.  To really see the grove there are trails that you can walk or you can ride on what they call a tram.  Itís a truck pulling a trailer outfitted with rows of benches.  It starts raining while we are there so we decide to leave and come back tomorrow.

Friday, June 10:

We again drive up to Yosemite and drive on up to Glacier Point.  The park is HUGE!  After entering the gate itís 34 miles to Glacier Point.  The waterfalls are so beautiful to see.  Words cannot express how wonderful they are to see.  We took pictures but of course they donít catch the beauty either.

After visiting Glacier Point we drove back to Mariposa Grove and took the tram ride to view the grove of trees.  They are so awesome to see.  They are so tall and big around.  The cones from these trees are about the size of an egg.  Itís hard to imagine that something so small has the seeds inside for a tree so large.

Afterwards, we went to a restaurant in Oakhurst and had dinner.  We were too tired to cook tonight.

 


 

Click here for link to Yosemite photos page Too many photos to display in the blog!


Saturday, June 11:

We donít have plans to go anywhere today since the weekends are usually the busiest time for visiting the parks, shopping, etc.  In the morning I vacuumed the RV, mopped the floors, etc.  After that we drove over and dumped and then filled up with fresh water.

In the afternoon we decide to go to Oakhurst to the grocery store.  We went to the grocery store named Raleyís today and itís a very nice store.  It has a lot of variety for shopping and the prices seemed reasonable.

After we got back to the RV, we walked over to the club house or main office building and checked out the laundry facility there.  The washers are fairly new and very inexpensive.  Only $1.00 per machine and they are front loaders.  The dryers are only a quarter for 30 minutes.  So we decide to do the laundry.  While the clothes are washing we were invited to play poker in the club house.  So while I finished the laundry Mac went in and played poker.

After dinner this evening we sat outside and visited with our neighbors who just got here today.  They are a very nice couple who have been full-timing for 14 years.  Elliot and Ruth had a lot of interesting stories and good advice for us.

Sunday, June 12:

Today we worked for quite a while.  We drove over to Oakhurst to pick up a few things and to look in some of the many shops around.  In the late afternoon we sat out on the back side of the RV in the shade.  Right behind our RV, sitting in a tree there was a Red Tailed Hawk.  It was so interesting to watch him sitting there.  After a couple of hours he quickly flew over to another tree and caught a squirrel.  After a few minutes he took off with his dinner.  It was cool to watch him.


Red Tail Hawk, light was wrong (from behind) so couldn't get a really good photo.


We have seen so many birds here that weíve never seen before.  There are a lot of Acorn Woodpeckers around the RV Park.  Weíve seen Western Bluebirds, Scrub Jays, Stellarís Jay, Oak Titmouse, Momma and Poppa California Quail with their baby chicks, Lesser Goldfinches, and a hummingbird that is very large and unique.  It will perch on a branch and sit there looking around.  He likes the pine tree behind our RV.  I donít know what heís finding in there but he investigates it a lot.

Monday, June 13:

This morning we worked for quite a while.  Around 11:30 we headed out to go and visit Yosemite again.  We had lunch in Oakhurst at Carlís Jr.  This is a chain fast food restaurant but we donít have any of these in the east.  They have a chicken sandwich called Santa Fe Chicken that is on a wheat bun with cheese and green chilies that is great to me.  Iíve also tried the Green Chilie Taco Salad and itís very good too.

Today we are visiting the Yosemite Valley.  After entering the park itís 35 miles to the valley.  Along the way the scenery is so beautiful.  There are occasionally streams with small falls, many pullouts to see gorgeous vistas, many wildflowers and of course trees.  After a long tunnel through one of the hills you take an immediate left into a parking lot.  From the parking lot you can take one of the trams for a tour of the valley.  We decided not to take one.  From the lot there are views of several waterfalls that are just awe inspiring.

After ooohing and aaahing for a while we drove on down towards the valley.  Next you can turn and go see Bridal Veil Falls close up.  We decided to save it for last since it has a 200 yard trail to walk and you will get wet.

We drove around the valley and stopped at several spots to gaze in wonder at the views.  Then we drove on to the lodge and visited a gift shop there.  I didnít find a T-Shirt that I wanted but I did find a pair of socks that have a lot of the items of interest from Yosemite on them so I had to have them.

After visiting the valley and gazing at the views we drove back towards Bridal Veil Falls.  Along the road there is a small pool of water called Fern Spring that is so beautiful.  Water comes into the pool from underground, it has ferns around it and the water is icy cold.  I stuck my toes into the water and it was shockingly refreshing.  You could tell that it was from melting snow.  The water runs out of the pool and down the hill to join with other water and then under the road to join with a stream.  It was so beautiful and relaxing at the pool.

We drove on to Bridal Veil Falls and park in the lot.  We walk up the path to see the waterfall up close.  We keep meeting people coming down from the waterfall and they are soaked.  Beside the trail is the stream or brook of water from the waterfall and it is so cool to look at the water rushing over the rocks.  As we get closer to the waterfall the noise from the rushing water gets louder and louder, adding to the excitement.  As we get closer there is water in the air from the waterfall.  First itís a light mist of water then itís like rain.  We got wet, but not drenched.  We didnít go all the way to the end of the trail to get a good soaking.  We wanted to admire the waterfall and you canít see when you get that close to it from all the water in the air.  Also, we had the camera with us and didnít want it to get wet.  We came back down the path and then walked over to the foot bridge that goes over the stream from the waterfall.  The water is rushing down the hill, tumbling and splashing.  There are many smooth rocks in the stream from eons of this tumbling action.

We head out towards the exit and stop again in the parking lot by the tunnel.  The sun hits the mist of the waterfall now and it is colorful and rainbow like but not quite a rainbow.  It is just awesome to see.

We finally have to take leave of the park.  It has been a wonderful day.  We definitely want to come back here again in the future.  There is still so much that we didnít get to see.  Viewing the beauty of this natural phenomenon canít be rushed.  A person can only soak in so much beauty at one time before it loses its ability to strike one with awe.

Tuesday, June 14:

After working for a while we drive over to the Fresno UPS to pick up our mail that we had ordered to have sent here to us.  We also had lunch in Fresno and went to a RV Dealer to look around for some parts.  It just happened to have the worlds largest indoor showroom of RVs in it.  So we looked around for a little while.  We found a reasonably priced outdoor rug and bought it.

Itís gotten hotter around here, in the 90ís, and we had planned on leaving tomorrow.  But since itís so hot we decided to go ahead and leave today.  We canít get any more work done because itís uncomfortably too warm in the RV.  So we packed up and headed out.  It has been very nice here at this RV Park and visiting Yosemite.  It is definitely on our list of to see again places.

We are heading over to French Camp California to the Sharpe Military Supply Depot.  There is a RV Park there and if itís too hot we can use the electricity and run the air conditioner.  But when we get there the weather is nice.  So we opened all the windows up to let the cool breeze in.  The park is very attractive and well maintained.  The camp host has been host here since 1996.  Theyíve done a great job here too.

 

Wednesday, June 15:


Donner Summit on the road between Sacramento and Reno.  Lots of hills folks!


This morning we left and headed toward Reno Nevada.  Renoís weather is very nice right now and we wonít need any air conditioning.  Ken, a guy that Mac met at the SKP Park in Coarsegold, had told Mac a lot about the Reno area.  He told Mac that the best place to stay is at the Boomtown Casino in Verdi which is right outside of Reno.  Mac did some research online also and decided that weíd go to Boomtown.

We stop at Camping World in Sacramento California.  We bought a much needed new air conditioner cover.  For several months we had heard a noise occasionally from the top of the RV; usually when a big truck would pass us.  We thought it was the awning or one of the vents.  It turned out to be the front air conditioning cover is old, cracking and coming loose so it needs replacing.  When we finally discovered what the noise was Mac did a temporary repair on it.  Thank God it hadnít flown off and hit someone.  We picked up some other items that we needed for the RV also.  Then it was back on the road.

We arrive at Boomtown in late afternoon and go to their RV Park.  Itís $30 something a night, which is a little pricey to us but we go ahead and get a spot.  After setting up the RV in the campsite we go and check out the casino and weíre going to get a bite to eat there too.

We stop at the bar to check out the video poker pay tables and there at the bar is Ken!  Itís a small world isnít it?  We talk a little and then go to the restaurant and have dinner.  After dinner we go to the Players Club and get some cards and find out how Boomtown comps work.  We play some video poker for a while and then go back to the RV for the night.

 

Boomtown RV Park (the official one, not the boondock parking lot).
 

Saturday, June 18 -- interim update

 

Sometimes when it takes us a week to update the blog I'm going to make a quick, temporary entry to let everyone know what's up.  Then, when Chris writes the main blog entry, and I edit and post the photos, I'll either delete the temporary entry, or edit it and incorporate it into the main body of the blog..

 

We were en-route to Reno and stopped short at Boomtown Casino in Verdi, NV.  No reason to go to Reno.  Nice RV park (comped for our play at the casino).  Casino has great video poker and a live poker room with a tournament on Friday night.  I got knocked out of the tournament about 1/2 way through the 2nd hour. 

 

It was 31 degrees last night... that's right below freezing!!!  We hadn't checked the weather report for a few days, so didn't know it would be that cold until about 11:00 last night.  Predicted to be 32 tonight, so we're out of here!  Not sure where we're going next.  Heading generally North but with no destination yet.

 

FYI, The Yosemite Photos Page is done. 


Thursday, June 16 Ė Saturday, June 18:

We stay in the Boomtown RV Park for 2 more nights that are comped.  Why waste our comp dollars to stay in the park when we donít really need to be hooked up, so we stay Saturday night up in the free parking area.  There is a large parking area that you can stay in for free for 48 hours.  But there are rigs here that have parked here longer than 48 hours.  The casino doesnít seem to care how long you park as long as you donít make it look like youíre setting up camp, some people even move to another parking spot just to look different.  I think theyíd frown on putting out the awnings and the chairs and the BBQ Grill.

The weather has been odd to say the least.  There were a couple of nights that it was very cold, down in the 30ís.  There was some snow up in the higher elevations but not where we are.  We had to get out the quilt and put the cat (AKA ďlittle furry heaterĒ) in bed with us to keep warm.  We had to run the heater in the mornings to get warmed up.  One night it even rained.  We havenít seen any rain since early May back in Canyon Texas.  So we got to enjoy being in bed toasty warm listening to the rain pattering on the roof.  Isnít it great to hear the rain while going to sleep?

Mac played in some poker tournaments and I played video poker.  We had a great time and made a few dollars also.  The people at Boomtown are very nice.  We ate at the restaurant a few times and we ate at the buffet once on Friday night.  We didnít realize that Friday night was a big deal with all you can eat lobster, so it was quite busy there.  Of course, we also worked quite a bit, gotta pay for this lifestyle somehow.

 

Chris hard at work

 


Notes on eating at Boomtown:

 

Steak & Lobster Buffet:  No, we didn't PAY for that steak and lobster buffet! :-)  It was comped for our play in the casino.  One note if you go there.  I would recommend skipping the buffet on weekends when they have steak & lobster, even if you're comped.  The buffet for two cost $46 from our comp account and it's just not worth that.  I like lobster, but I like it selected and prepared properly in a real seafood restaurant.  Ditto the steak half of the "surf & turf".  I have to admit I didn't even eat the lobster, but the steak was awful; overdone, tough, etc.  The little teriyaki steak pieces on the regular buffet were better!   Overall, the rest of the buffet was really very good.  Next time we're here we plan to eat there again, but only on weeknights when it's the regular buffet for about $10 or so.

 

Coffee Shop, AKA the Cantina:  Basic casino coffee shop with decent food at OK prices.  We were comped there too :-)

 

Steak House: Didn't try it this time.  Plan to next trip.  One negative I've already noticed is that it's right off the casino floor with no hallway, so noise is likely an issue.

 

Pizza:  Their Pizza is very good -- better than pizza hut.  They served it to us in the poker room during tournaments and there was never a piece left over!

 

Sunday, June 19 -- interim update

 

We turned around and came back :-)   Yes, we're nuts.  We drove about 90 miles north and stopped in Susanville, CA for lunch.  We bought some groceries at Wal*Mart and at Safeway. We were tired, and facing another several hours drive time.  We decided to camp for the night locally.  I called a local casino and found they had a tournament going on tonight (I thought).  When we arrived I discovered they had a live NL Holdem' game starting at 7pm, not a tournament.  Chris and I talked about various options.  I'd really like to play in a tournament each day for a week or so, and also would like a basecamp to work my day job each morning/evening.  Therefore, we returned to Verdi NV, and Boomtown Casino.  Our plan is to move around to various casinos here in the Reno area as I play in daily tournaments.  Tonight I lasted a little over 1/2 way in a small tournament at Boomtown with 38 or so participants.  Same result as Friday night (about 45 players on Friday).  Took notes and will be ready for the locals on Wednesday! :-)

 

Sunday, June 19:

Weíve decided (Mac decided and Iím kicking and screaming no, no, I want to play) to leave today and head towards Oregon.  We head out and drive over to Susanville California.  We stop at the Wal-Mart and then the Safeway grocery store for some much needed supplies.  After getting groceries we have lunch in the RV parked in the grocery store parking lot.

After lunch we work some.  Then Mac and I have a conversation about what to do and where to go.  We decide that we are natured out right now.  Weíve seen so much of the country and Yosemite was so beautiful that we need to just take a break from nature for a short time.  Too much of a good thing can be bad too.  We wouldnít appreciate the beauty of nature if we get too much of it, weíd get desensitized to it.  So weíre going to take a break from nature.  Weíre going to go back to Boomtown.  Mac will get to play poker and I can play video poker.  Weíve also agreed on how to budget and control our gambling dollars.

So back we go to Boomtown; gosh this road looks familiar.  We park in the free parking area and then Mac goes in to play in a tournament.  I go in and play some video poker and lose my allotted gambling dollars very quickly.  Oh well, thatís the way it goes sometimes.  So I go back to the RV and do some more work and then read a book till bedtime.

 

Monday, June 20:

This morning we work on the business side of our life.  We use the computer a lot today for emailing, researching and then printing out letters to mail to potential candidates.  I get to fold letters and stuff envelopes.  The fun just never stops!

Our RV is parked facing east so it gets the morning sun through the windshield.  The solar energy quickly warms the RV daily.  Some days this is great and other days itís terrible.  We have a lined curtain across the windshield but that doesnít keep it from getting hot.  We had planned on making a cover for the front outside of the RV from shade cloth material.  We even have our sewing machine with us stored under the bed.  But the sewing machine peddle is in our storage in Tampa.  At the Camping World in Sacramento, they had the windshield covers that fit inside a RV windshield for less than $10.  They are just like the ones used in cars, made of silver reflective bubble-wrapped cardboard that folds for storage, so we decided to buy one to see what it would do.  Today we put it up and we were very pleased and surprised to discover that it does a great job of keeping out the heat from the sun.  The cat isnít crazy about it.  He loves to lie in the front window and sun himself.  Now there is no sun there for him.  Weíre going to buy some more to cut up to fit the windows on the passenger side of the RV.  When we are boondocking or itís too windy to put out the big awning we can use it to shade the windows and keep out the heat.

Later in the afternoon we drive down to Reno to check out parking at a few casinos there.  There are some poker tournaments in Reno that Mac would like to play in.  We drove through downtown and then on down the road to the Peppermill and then to the Atlantis Casinosí.  The Atlantis has a very large parking lot across the street with some RVís parked there.  We talked to a couple in one RV that told us they had been there several days.  The Atlantis doesnít hassle you about staying there for a long time.  I guess they want your dollars, duh!

Reno is a huge construction zone it seems like.  Of course, there is road construction/repair work because itís summertime.  Also the railroad tracks are being moved so thatís a big mess.  Downtown Reno looks a lot like downtown Vegas.  Weíve decided to move over to the Atlantis Casino tomorrow so that Mac can play in some tournaments.

 

Gambling update.  One really cool thing that I don't believe we mentioned last week.  I was at a table playing a live game and somebody hit the bad beat jackpot.  They had 4 of a kind, and were beat by a straight flush.  The jackpot hadn't been hit since December, so it was up over $24,000!  The loser got $12k, the winner $6k, and the rest split up among everyone at the table, so I got about $1050 for just being there :-)

 

Thursday, June 22 -- interim update

 

For once, a technical problem (and not our sloth) has delayed additional photos and entries in the blog.  I need to contact my web hosting provider and purchase additional storage space for the web site ;-) 

 

FYI, yes, we're still in reno.  Why you ask?  It's the WEATHER.  It's beautiful here.  The local news was talking about a heat wave.  I listened attentively as the weather-babe told us that yesterday would be 88 degrees and over 30% humidity!  Horror of horrors!!  It that's a heat wave, I've found a temporary summer home :-)  It's not predicted to be over 78 degrees in the next 10 days, and lows will be in the mid 40's.  A little cool, but we can snuggle up :-)

 

Moved today to boondock parking at Atlantis Casino, Reno

 

 

Tuesday, June 28 -- Yes, another interim update

 

A few reasons for us not doing a real blog update lately (yes, I'm making excuses).  First, we haven't been traveling much, unless you count the 15 miles between the Atlantis Casino parking lot in Reno and the Boomtown Casino parking lot in Verdi.  We're still enjoying the weather (although it's getting a little hotter) and we're doing a lot of work.  That's right, I used the "W" word.  This is prime time for my business and we're really working hard to build our contractor workforce for School Year 2005/06.  Also I have a great client who has 3 open jobs and I'm driving myself crazy trying to fill them.  I hope I do, because I've already spent the fee from one of them on advertising!  Anyway, enough about work. 

 

(If you don't play poker skip this paragraph)

When we're not working, we've done a little gambling.  Chris playing video poker, and me playing live poker, mostly tournaments.  I haven't placed in the money yet here in Reno, but the time is coming! 

 

On Sunday night I was all in with AK suited.  Called by KK and thought I may be toast.  Caught one of the 3 aces on the flop, but guess what came on the turn, yes, the only remaining K.  See ya.

 

Today was even more interesting.  I was dealt pocket queens, and raised.  The chip leader, a real conservative player, went over the top on me and called all-in.  I thought I was probably up against KK or AA, but I had pot odds to call so I did.  We both flipped over QQ.  Well, my relief was short lived.  The flop came with two diamonds, the turn was a diamond, and, yes, the river was a diamond too.  Guess who had the Qd?  Not me :-(  The ultimate runner, runner, runner, runner beat.  It's gotta get better from there!   

 

Thursday, June 30 -- interim update

 

Chris has started writing a real update, and I've put a few photos from the last couple of weeks and have some random thoughts. 

 

We moved yesterday from Reno (where temp was forecast to be 95) back to Verdi (forecast 86).  I think we beat the forecast, because we cranked the generator and ran the air for the first time in a long while. 

 

Boondocked at Boomtown Casino in Verdi NV.  Looks like our RV likes this spot.  It's jumping

for joy (notice drivers front tire off the ground).  Signs say 48 hours RV Parking but no hassle staying 3-4 days.

 

Random Thought:

 

There are a lot of great things in this world that you'll never see or hear of if you don't travel around.  One of them is regional food.  Here below is a photo of my new favorite ice cream sandwich.  It's called an "It's-It" and I do believe it is.  It's made with two oatmeal cookies (I love these) with ice cream in between (ditto) and dipped in chocolate (ditto again).  Close-up of the label below the big picture.  WOW are these GOOD!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Expenses Update

 

You know, we haven't really talked much about our expenses on the trip, but I realize it's a common question from those who are planning to start fulltiming.  I'm going to start posting info on our basic expenses at the end of each month.  Here we go for June.  FYI these are summary expenses for 6 months starting Jan 1st and ending June 30:

 

Cost to camp since 1/1/05

Avg $ per Nite # Dry # Elect # FHU # Free %Dry % Free
$9.57 103 14 65 43 57% 24%

 

OK, a lot of veteran boondockers will say "$9.57 a night average, we do it for a Two Dollars and Seventeen Cents!!!".  So I should explain this includes about 70 days in Key West, and 4 nights at Ft. Wilderness RV Park in Walt Disney World.  I think that puts our $9.57 into perspective :-).

 

Cost of fuel since 4/1/05

Average Gas Price Total Miles Total Galons Avg Daily Miles Avg MPG Avg Fuel Cost/Day
2.199 5201 723.05 64 7.19 $19.52

 

As you can see above our daily fuel cost far exceeds our nightly cost of parking the RV.  (Note: correction made on 7-25-05, Avg. Fuel Cost/Day had a bad formula. Numbers above are now accurate).  Our fuel use also includes 34 hours of generator run at an estimated .6 gallons/hour - when you factor that in we're getting 7.4 mpg, which isn't too bad.  Back in the southeast where it's mostly flat we saw 7.8mpg once.  Out here in the mountains we've seen as low as 6.8

 

Now for Chris' version of recent events... :-)

 

June 21 Ė June 29:

 

We had a little excitement Sunday the morning of the 26th.  I was taking a break back in the bedroom reading a book and Mac was up front.  The RV started bouncing up and down.  At first I thought Mac was bouncing it and then I thought that the jacks were going out because it felt like it was going down a long ways.  It lasted for a couple of seconds.  Mac came back and said ďI do believe that was an earthquakeĒ.  It turns out that there was a 4.8 earthquake in Lake Tahoe which is about 20 miles from here.  Thank God, no one was hurt.  It was such a weird feeling with the ground bouncing us up and down like that.  

 

Weíve been working hard on the business side of life while here.  Weíve boon-docked in the Atlantis, Boomtown & Peppermill Casinosí parking lots for about 2 days each.  We came back to Boomtown on the 29th because Reno is supposed to be in the mid-90ís on Thursday.  Boomtown, in Verdi, is at a higher elevation so it is cooler. 

 

 

Boondocking at Peppermill Casino

 

Weíve played at the casinosí a little every day.  Mac will play in a tournament and Iíll play video poker with my allotted gambling allowance.  At the Atlantis, I broke even, at the Peppermill I lost and couldnít seem to win.  At Boomtown I have won and havenít lost very much.  I like playing at Boomtown.  I know itís not true but the machines do seem looser there.

 

(Note that Chris is talking about Video Poker machines.  Yes, slot machines are looser or tighter depending on how they are set up, but Video Poker payouts are established by the paytable.  That's one reason they're better than slots, you can tell in advance if you're on a 100.7%., 99.4%, etc. machine. --Mac) 

 

On Wednesday, June 28th I went to a few of the thrift stores in Reno.  I found some books to read.  I was getting very low on books so Iím glad that I was able to restock my supply of books.  One thing that annoyed me was that there were no public restrooms at any of the thrift stores.  I had to go search for a gas station that had a public restroom and then come back to the thrift store.  What a hassle! 

 

Another reason that I go to the thrift stores is that Iím always on the lookout for items that I could sell on ebay when we return to Florida.  When we were living in our house in Tampa I would sell items on ebay that Iíd found at yard sales or at the thrift stores.  It was fun and I made a few dollars.

 

Before I started selling on ebay I did a lot of research to see what items I could sell and make a profit.  Tampa has a lot of thrift stores; so there was an endless supply of items that could possibly be sold on ebay.  Supply of new items to sell is important.  I have a friend in Ohio who wanted to try selling on ebay but there werenít enough thrift stores around for her to find desirable items to buy.  A growing metro area is the best and Tampa fits the bill nicely.  I could shop in Tampa and all the surrounding areas and always find something that I could sell.

 

Of course, a lot is junk or the profit margin wasnít enough to buy the item.  A lot of times I would see an item and then go home and check on eBay to see how much it was going for.  This helped me to learn what to buy and what to pass up. 

 

Also the time of year to sell an item is important.  I learned that in the summertime people are too busy enjoying life to be buying on eBay and an item wouldnít sell for as much as it would in the wintertime when people are stuck indoors and are shopping on eBay. 

 

Also an item would be a hot seller for a short time and then cool off for a few months.  So before I put the item on ebay I made sure that it would sell at a good profit.  If not, then I held on to it until it started selling again at a good price because of new buyers on eBay. 

 

I learned a lot researching on eBay.  Itís important to have good pictures and description of the item.  I tried to put as much information about the item as I could.  Hereís a good example of how important good accurate information is: Mac and I had been researching on eBay for about a year narrowing down what we wanted in an RV.  When we were ready to buy we knew what we wanted so we started looking in earnest on eBay.  We found the RV that we bought on eBay.  The person selling it didnít have very good pictures at all.  His information was confusing and led you to believe that there was still money owed on the RV.  That probably scared away a lot of bidders.  Mac called him up and got it clarified what was meant in the description before placing a bid. 

 

There was also another RV on eBay exactly like this one.  The seller was a dealer so they knew the importance of good pictures and description.  Both auctions were ending on the same day about an hour apart.  We bought the RV that did not have good pictures or description.  The exact same RV with good pictures and description sold for over $9,000 more. 

 

So currently Iím looking around at the thrift stores for small items that I can store in the RV until we get back to Florida.  It will be fun to sell again on eBay.  Iíll let you know at that time how Iím doing.

 

Continue to July blog

 

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