Where Are We Now?
We enjoy getting email
June 1 to June 6:
Hi everyone. We're a month behind our travel schedule, but we're finally in Las Vegas!
Friday, June 1. Installing the new Swamp Cooler. I've mentioned a few times that we use an evaporative cooler when we dry camp in dry climates - the TurboKool. It's done an OK job for 2 years, but we wanted to upgrade to something larger that will really keep us comfy in 100 degree plus weather. After much research I settled on a 12 volt unit made in Tucson AZ by Southwest Solar.
The company is owned by Bill Cunningham, a very interesting person and a wealth of knowledge when it comes to all things solar, especially DC powered evaporative coolers. This unit wasn't designed for installation on an RV, but the size is just right -- large enough to do the job, and small enough to fit on the roof. Since we installed it we've had one day up to 104 and the inside of the RV stayed bearable. We expect to get even better performance after making some adjustments. Right now the output of the unit isn't as cold as predicted by the performance charts. I'll write a complete technical article on this in the future after we're 100% installed and set up.
Here's a link to the Southwest Solar web site and see the photos below. On the left is Bill with two small units and several larger ones that will cool a whole house. On the right is me installing ours. Click for a larger view.
Saturday June 2
♫ On the road again ♫ We left Tucson around 9 AM and headed north through Phoenix up to I-40, then turned west and arrived in Laughlin Nevada around dinner time. We were tired and hungry, so we parked at the Ramada Express casino and went inside for a quick bite. Most casinos in Laughlin allow overnight RV parking, but this time of year there are only a few RV's as the parking lots are taken over on weekends by boaters. There were literally hundreds of watercraft there; from trailers with 1 to 4 jet skis, to 26 foot cabin cruisers, ski boats, etc. you name it. We made it an early night and got some much needed sleep.
Sunday June 3
Up at dawn we messed around for a while, had breakfast, drank a pot of coffee, and hit the road. There's a long climb heading West out of Laughlin, about 12 miles of 5 to 7 percent grade. Our RV did very well on this grade, never overheating (although it ran a little above normal as expected). In case you've joined us in the last year, we had a complete engine rebuild in October of 2005 and we didn't go back stock. The job was done at The Engine Lab in Tampa FL.
We pulled in to the Main Street Station RV Park shortly before Noon. I got us registered and the RV set up while Chris went in to start working over the video poker machines.
Monday June 4 - June 6
So for the past three days it's been Wake up, Work, Eat, Gamble, Sleep, Repeat. Chris hit another royal flush today, and it's a good thing because I've been doing poorly in poker tournaments lately. We're enjoying our stay here. MSS has a good buffet, and a brew-pub restaurant called the 777. They have excellent sandwiches, ribs, wings, etc. We also ate at Tony Roma's once at the Freemont. When staying at any of the Sam Boyd properties downtown (Main Street Station, The California, and The Freemont) they will comp you to restaurants on the sister properties -- based on your play of course.
That's it for now. Tomorrow we move to a blacktop boondocking location near the strip. I'll report back soon.
Saturday, June 8
We left MSS on Thursday and moved to the free RV parking behind Bally's and Paris. This is one of the few remaining RV Friendly locations on or near the strip, the others being Rio and Orleans which are off-strip but not far away. If you want more details see our other web site www.casinocamper.com/lasvegas.htm
After work we've been hitting the casinos near by. Chris played VP at Paris while I walked around looking for a good glass of wine. Chris was having a good time, so I played some poker, a cash NL hold'em game and won enough to buy my entry into a small tournament which I didn't cash in. We walked around on a short part of the strip and saw the sights. Our grand daughter just visited Paris (the real one, in France) last week on a school trip, but the Eifel Tower in Las Vegas is as close as we've been.
Food -- Las Vegas is known for many things and food is one of them. Most casinos have a buffet and they're often a good value. We always look for the best deal, so when we're not comped we use coupons for free food, 2 for 1, etc. We had a coupon for $10 off at the buffet at Paris and were going to eat there; however, we discovered the buffet was still about $50 for two people even with the coupon! Now I'm sure it's a wonderful buffet, but I wasn't in the mood for a huge meal and we passed. Instead we ate at The Cafe in Paris and it was good food, a little high but OK (comped).
Why is the woman in this photo smiling? Yes, that's Chris, and for the second time in a week she hit a Royal Flush, this time at the Palms for $1199. We drove over to the Palms this morning. I played a NL cash game and tripled up on my buy-in, which is always a good thing. So now I'm close to even for the year and Chris is well ahead -- and she reminds me of this frequently :-)
Monday, June 11
Random Subjects: Since Mac has updated everyone on where weíre at and what weíve been doing I thought Iíd add a little on general random subjects to the blog. As you know I love to go shopping at the thrift stores so Iíve hit a few here in Las Vegas and several in Tucson before we left. Mac loves rayon or silk shirts, especially the tropical looking ones. Iíve had some good luck in finding some shirts for him lately. I scored this one pictured for only $4.98 at the Charleston Outlet for Vietnam Vets in Vegas. Itís got a true Hawaiian look to it. I just loved the look and fortunately Mac likes it too.
Thrift shopping is always an adventure, never boring. I got a good chuckle the other day while shopping here in Vegas. At the very first thrift store I stopped at I noticed a beautiful new metallic blue Lotus convertible parked at the store. Two thrift stores later there was the same car. Obviously there must be many great bargains at these thrift stores. Itís always fun trying to guess what any person is shopping for. Are they shopping for trendy clothes, looking for an undiscovered art masterpiece, antique items to sell? What are they shopping for?
Iíve been enjoying talking with others who enjoy thrift store shopping at http://thethriftshopper.com/index.htm. The forum is really taking off now and Iíve enjoyed reading the postings and adding my own. I now use the directory every place we go. It will list all the thrift stores in the area, and I can click on the map to see where it is and if necessary I can also get driving directions. How great is that?
While we were in Tucson I really enjoyed shopping there. Not only did I find good bargains but I enjoyed driving around and admiring the scenery, the architecture, and the people. Recently it seems that most of the books in the thrift stores are either something Iíve already read or the book doesnít sound interesting. I was searching for books by certain authors so I went to Bookmanís, a used bookstore in Tucson http://www.bookmans.com. It was quite large and had many of the books that I was looking for. The prices are quite reasonable; they were in the range of expected prices at a used book store. Next time weíre in Tucson Iíll visit this bookstore again. I didnít trade any books there because I donít know when weíll return.
Iíve shopped at The Airmanís Attic several times in Tampa and only got to go once to the one in Tucson. The Airmanís Attic is the name of thrift stores on Air Force bases. Theyíre not open every day and they are staffed by several volunteers. Iíve found some really nice stuff at these thrift stores. At the one in Tampa I found a picture that I fell in love with; perfect size and subject matter. The frame didnít go with the picture but I figured I could reframe it to better enhance the subject. It was $5.00 which seemed reasonable to me. When I got it home and unframed it I was disappointed to discover that the picture was actually a page out of a magazine. It was very flimsy paper, just like the Parade Magazine that comes with the Sunday newspapers. I still loved the subject of the picture and the colors so I kept it. I started looking for a frame for it. I found a frame at Wal-Mart and it came with matting too. I bought it and figured that we could Velcro it to the wall. Mac said since the frame is plastic we can screw it right into the wall and it wouldnít crack like a wooden frame might. So hereís a photo of my beautiful magazine page picture and the inexpensive Wal-Mart frame. I still love it and now Iím looking for an inexpensive art light to set off the picture.
While we were in Biloxi MS I drove around a lot looking around. While out driving one day I stopped in at the Edgewater Mall. I hadnít been to this mall in at least 10 years and I wanted to see how different it was. There were many stores open but some are still closed such as Dillardís.
The mall had a Belkís Department store; I havenít been in one of those in years, so I went in to look around. In the home section I found some beautiful decorative plates that were perfect for our RV. Usually these plates are too big but these were just the right size. There were 6 different designs of seashells in a box and there was a sale buy one set get one free. I looked and looked but could find nothing else in that section that I wanted so I bought one set of plates and got one set for free. Mac and I went through the plates and picked out the two that we loved the most. The others we donated to The Care Center Yard Sale. Mac used some very strong glue and glued them to the wall above our love seat; one on each side of the window. They look great there; and go with the whole theme that weíre striving for.
When we first started out with our fulltime lifestyle I bought a small plastic tackle box to store my jewelry in. Iíd only kept my absolute favorite pieces and gave the rest of my jewelry to family, friends or donated it. I was going through my box looking for a certain pair of earrings when I noticed that some of my earrings had some rubbing worn on them. I guess they must slide back and forth on the plastic while weíre going down the road. So Iíve been on the hunt for better storage, thatís small, wonít harm my jewelry, jewelry wonít fall out of and convenient for me to use. I donít want an actual jewelry box. The drawers would slide open too easily spilling my jewelry. Some of the jewelry travel cases donít seem to be designed too well. They take up a lot of room and yet donít hold much. I did find a small velvet-lined jewelry travel case about the size of a small clutch purse for less than a dollar at the thrift store. It has Black Hills Gold stamped on the velvet. Currently I have all my silver and turquoise jewelry in it. While I was putting my jewelry in it I found two silver necklaces with pendants down in the corner of one section. Wow, now I have two extra necklaces either to wear, give to granddaughters or donate. Iím also looking for more small fabric bags or pouches to store jewelry in. These could all be stored in an attractive box or stuck in a drawer. So Iím reusing my tackle box as a sewing center. I have some needles, buttons, pins and spools of thread in it currently.
Itís difficult for me to think outside the box. I think thatís one reason that Iím not very crafty. I admire others who are crafty but it seems I waste a lot of money and effort for little rewards in what Iíve created. I either need to have explicit directions for what Iím creating or make an item several times trying to perfect it. Hereís a great example of me being unable to think outside the box. When I bought the blackout panels for our bedroom I knew they were too long and Iíd have to cut and hem them. They were full-length, about 81 inches. So I cut approximately 20 inches off of each panel; I figured I could use the fabric for a pillow or something. After I finished hemming them and they were hung I wasnít pleased with the fullness of the panels. One panel didnít have quite enough fullness and two panels would be too much. So about six months later I realized that I could have turned the panels sideways and those approximate 20 inches that I cut off would have given them the proper fullness. The length would have been about right too. See I feel that at about $40 a panel this is where it gets expensive for me to not be very crafty. A crafty person would have immediately thought outside the box and turned the panels sideways. Theyíll just have to do for now and Iíll keep that thought in mind for next time.
Monday, June 18:
Itís been about a week since we posted anything to the blog so I thought Iíd write a little on what weíve been up to. Weíre still in Las Vegas and we are really enjoying it this year, even though itís been hot. Our new swamp cooler is working so much better than our old little one to keep it cool in the RV. Mac says he still has to work on it some more to get the most out of it. I think he said we could still have more cool air if he works on it. Iíve overheard some of our neighbors talking of how hot it is in their RV even with running their air-conditioner and our swamp cooler is doing as good a job with less power.
While on the subject of heat Iíve noticed that when Iím cold such as when Iím in certain casinos my hands will shrink up and my rings will spin around. When I get back out in the heat my hands will swell up and my rings will be tight. Now I have a good excuse for being chubby, I can say that itís not me being chubby itís the heat.
Since weíve been here in Vegas weíve stayed 4 nights at the Main Street Station Casino RV Park. Weíve stayed 3 nights in one of the parking lots behind Ballyís Casino. Weíve stayed 7 nights at the Nellis AFB Desert Eagle RV Park. Weíre currently at Main Street again for another 4 nights.
We got free tickets to see Mel Brooksí The Producers at the Paris Casino. Weíve been to many of the casinos taking advantage of all the free and half price deals available. Weíll be here a couple of more weeks seeing some more shows, eating, and of course gambling. Since the posting showing my royal flush I had on June 8 I havenít hit another royal but I havenít lost any money. Iíve been rather fortunate and many days I leave the casinos with the same money I walked in with or a little of their money in my pocket. So weíre having a great time and not spending much money doing it.
Speaking of money of course weíre still working at our day jobs. So we donít have a lot of time to devote to having fun like we would if we were retired. Thatís one of the reasons weíre extending our stay; weíre having fun, itís not costing us much money, and we can do it.
While we were at the Desert Eagle RV Park I finally did the laundry. I took full advantage of their great front loader washers that were only 75 cents. The dryers were also only 75 cents for over 30 minutes of drying. I had meant to wash clothes when we were at Main Street but I was having too much fun and never got it done. So I did all the laundry while at the base.
I really love our new floors; I donít miss the carpet at all. Itís so much easier to keep floors clean than carpet. I just sweep and damp mop and they are clean. I hated the carpet especially right in front of the entry. It always looked so dirty. When I cleaned the carpet it would only take a few days till the entry looked dirty again. Even with a rug down on top of the carpet the carpet would get dirty looking quickly. So now with the floors I still have an inexpensive rug down to wipe our feet on. But the whole area looks so much cleaner all the time. I have several rugs to use so that when one rug is dirty I can put another one down until the first one is washed. In this heat too I like the floors better; it feels much cooler on the feet than carpet. And I especially love the feel of freshly cleaned floors on my bare feet. The floor feels so clean and cool after theyíve been mopped.
Wednesday, June 20:
You may be aware of various discount ticket outlets for shows and events in major cities. Most of these require you to show up in person at their sales location. One outlet that is web based is GoldStarEvents.com. We learned about them from Jean Scott's "Frugal Fridays" column on the Las Vegas Advisor last week, and it's already paid off. We saw Matsuri a $59 show ticket, for $9.50 each. It's playing a long engagement at the Sahara. It was a good show with a lot of energy, some laughs, and very impressive athletic and gymnastic skills. Click on the image to read about it.
We're planning to see other shows this week and next, and I'll report back on them.
Tuesday, June 26:
We finished up our stay at the Main Street Station with another win for me in video poker. Iíd had one there on Wednesday when we were there last time. Well this time I hit it again on the same machine and on the same day of the week, even the same attendant paid me my winnings. Talk about dťjŗ vu! We also had another great dinner in the Pullman Grill on Wednesday night. We checked out Thursday morning and our stay in the RV Park and all our meals were fully comped. I love this place!
We then went over to the oversized parking lot behind Ballyís Casino again to stay for a few days. While there we went to see Donn Ardenís Jubilee at Ballyís. Jubilee Web Site! I wanted to see a show with all the elaborate headdresses, rhinestones, and feathers. It was great! I enjoyed it so much. I was a little concerned since I knew some of the dancers would be topless but after I got over my initial embarrassment I didnít notice so much. I was too busy looking at all the costumes.
While in the area we also went to Ellis Island Casino for dinner, we had coupons. Itís behind the strip and is a small plain casino that is frequented by locals. We thought it was pretty warm in there especially compared to most of the other casinos where you feel you need a coat. But our dinner was great so it turned out that it was worth suffering being a little hot for it.
Speaking of heat itís been over 100 every day with the hottest of 107 while weíve been here. Weíve decided that itís just too hot. I havenít gone shopping much; itís just too hot getting in and out of the car. We wanted to stay longer but weíve decided itís time to leave so we plan on leaving Saturday. Iíve really enjoyed our stay, seeing a little more than weíve seen before. We had hoped to get here this year before it got so hot but we didnít so next year weíre going to try and get here sooner. Iíd really like to be able to go shopping more and walk the strip seeing all the casinos without fear of heatstroke.
Weíre back at the RV Park at Nellis AFB. Weíre in the drycamping section this time. We donít need full hookup so why pay the extra when we donít need it. Our swamp cooler doesnít take much power and our solar panels can keep up with all our electrical needs. Itís great not having to run the air conditioner. Our swamp cooler has kept us comfortable too.
Saturday June 30:
Chris is blogging today, so I'll just post a quick note and the major updates will come from her. Several people have asked about our new swamp cooler, so I wrote a quick update in the Tech and Projects section and included photos. Here's a link if you'd like to read it.
Thought Iíd write a little and finish up the month of June. Weíre still in Las Vegas. We were all set to leave this morning, the RV all packed up and ready to go. Mac is in the RV and Iím in the car, weíre going to the gas station to fill both vehicles before hooking up and towing. Crank up the RV and ready to leave our site when the Auto Park Brake wonít release on the RV. So fortunately if weíre going to have a problem or breakdown then this is the kind to have. Right in the RV Park! Thatís the best place to break down, especially since the temps are supposed to be even higher than what weíve encountered so far. Highs this coming week range from 107 through 113, I really didnít want to be here but at least weíre still in the park where we have plenty of water available for our cooler.
Mac did some calling around, scratching his head, research on the internet, etc. We thought weíd have to be towed to a shop and Mac did some calling around to repair shops. He remembered from our problem with the Auto Park before and looked online and found the ďguruĒ of this particular system again. Using this manís help heís narrowed down the problem to a switch. Yea! The part is only about $50 and heíll be able to do it himself saving us lots of money.
Iíve gone to many thrift stores here while we were in Vegas, Duh. I found many bargains including a great find that is put away to sell on eBay. Regular readers of our blog know that Iím always on the lookout for treasures to sell on eBay. Pickings this year so far have been slim. But while I was looking around at one of the Goodwill stores here I found this Chanel purse priced for a whooping $2.00 and since this day was half off on all purses I got it for a steal at only $1.00. I donít know that much about clothing, jewelry, purses and other accessories so Iíve had to do some research to learn more. I do know that there are some people who make quite good money selling this kind of stuff on eBay but you really need to know what sells and what to look for. I wasnít looking for any treasures in the purses I was looking for me a different purse when I stumbled across this great find. Mac and I both did lots of research online to verify that it is a Chanel purse. I thought ďOh goody, I bet I get at least $50.00 for it.Ē Two auctions of purses exactly like mine recently ended and one sold for about $450.00 and the other one sold for over $500.00. I was floored. Talk about a treasure! So I will be on the lookout for more treasures in the ladies accessories from now on.
I again havenít found many books in the thrift stores lately so I stumbled across two used book stores on my outings and stopped in. Iím into Sue Henry books lately and am on the lookout for more of them. I managed to find a few at these stores and snatched them up. Iíll be enjoying those when Iím not so busy.
Whatís Chris doing that sheís too busy to read you ask. Well, I do have to do some ďrealĒ work you know, and then of course thereís shopping for treasures and since weíre in Vegas my favorite pastime of video poker. All this takes up lots of time, not much left for reading lately.
As I get more clothes in for us Iíll occasionally go through whatís in our closets and try to keep our clothing down to a reasonable level. So as stuff comes in something should be going out. I donated a big bag recently and a whole box of books. I donít want to carry boxes of books around the country; we just donít have that kind of room anymore. Of course, I have a box for books that my daughter had asked me to look for and as I find them I add them to her box. And I have some ďtreasuresĒ for the children and grandchildren that I canít mention or when they read about them they will be bugging me to tell them what Iíve got for them.
Weíve eaten out just about every single day while here in Vegas. Weíve eaten many buffets, at lots of restaurants, coffee shops, etc. Currently my favorite buffet is at the Santa Fe Station Casino. Itís very good, a large selection of various foods and great desserts too. They have a large selection of gelato. Iíd never heard of it before but itís very tasty stuff. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gelato I like to try new dishes and thatís one of the things I like about a buffet. I can try a few bites of a new dish and see if I like it. I hate to order new dishes at a restaurant because then Iím stuck with it. When I get in a restaurant I like to order a dish that I know I like. Mac doesnít like buffets as much as I do. He feels that he eats too much on a buffet. I think we tend to overeat when we eat out whether itís a buffet or a restaurant. Weíve paid good money for this food and we want to get full value from that money so we try to eat everything on our plate.
Weíre so glad that we got this larger swamp cooler. It uses a lot of water to keep it cool in here; I think Mac said weíre using about 50 gallons a day. Mac still has to do some more work on it, such as painting it; but we are very pleased with how it cools the RV. Our cat, who is no dummy, agrees with us. When itís hot he will lay on the loveseat right under the swamp cooler vent. He stays there pretty much all afternoon. You have to fight him to get that seat; heíll share it with you by lying on your lap but he refuses to give it up. I feel so bad for him with his fur coat, he must be so hot. Iíll give him a good brushing and then sometimes Iíll even wet a couple of paper towels and wipe him down so that heíll stay cool by evaporation too. Heís not used to this heat either.
Iím so glad that we are at the base right now. Even though weíre in the drycamping section we can take a shower every day at the showers located in the bathrooms. In this heat we take full advantage of that benefit and go over every afternoon and take a nice refreshing shower. Being in the desert we also need to keep our lips covered with a lip balm of some kind or they dry out terribly. I went shopping one day and had left mine at home. I was too lazy to stop and get some more, just kept licking my lips. That doesnít work very well, by evening my lips were chapping. So I try and remember to keep some protective covering on them. I think Iíve gone through at least one whole tube of Blistex lip balm since weíve been here already.
While driving from the RV Park here on Nellis AFB to one of the back gates, I believe the name of the road is Range Road, we saw several concrete forms being made. We couldnít figure out what they were for. Were they for installing acres of barriers for the runway? What were they for? Well, it turns out theyíre for large arrays of solar panels. Theyíre installing acres of solar panels here on Nellis. Mac took a few pictures of this the beginning stages of the installation. It will be very interesting to see what it looks like when finished. Since we started with our solar panels and have been so impressed with the technology we are really interested in alternative energy sources. So itís great to see the government is also getting into alternative energy.
Click photos below for larger view in a new window
Well the month of June has ended and I didnít think weíd still be in Las Vegas at this time of year. Boy, are we behind schedule on where weíd like to be this year. By this time we had planned on being in Reno for a while and then moving on over to California and Oregon. We are way behind this year. We may have to skip seeing some places that we wanted to see out west before we start heading east again. We plan on going to Elkhart Indiana this year and picking up some seats for the front of the RV. Since weíll be up in that area weíd like to explore and see some sights on the way there, while there and on the way south and east from there.
Monthly Camping Expense Report
We're going the wrong direction aren't we? The reasons include unexpected long stays in some places, plus some unnecessary days in full hookup. We were also delayed in getting the new swamp cooler installed, and the old one wasn't working, so that necessitated a couple of weeks in FHU in Tucson. Still hope we can improve on last year's overall numbers, but it's getting doubtful as the year is 1/2 over.
What did we do in June's past? Take a look at:
Continue reading to July 2007