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July, 2007

Tuesday morning, July 03:

Sunday after we goofed off most of the day we went to the Palmís Casino to play a little and have some dinner. We have enough comps built up there so we used it for free food.  We ate dinner at Garduno's.  It is a very flavorful New Mexican restaurant. I had the chicken burrito with green chili sauce. On the side of my plate of food there was some chopped lettuce, tomatoes, etc. I spread this mixture all over the top of my burrito. My burrito seemed really spicy hot this time, almost too hot for me. I finally figured out that there was some chopped jalapeno in with the lettuce and tomatoes. Wow, are jalapenos hot! I like green chili peppers but I have never liked jalapenos; to me they donít have any flavor just heat.

After dinner we played some Deuces Wild and Mac finally hit a royal flush! I believe itís his first one since 2005. Of course, he doesnít play as much video poker as I do so he will hit one less frequently than I do. So he was a happy camper to finally hit one.

Several months ago Iíd purchased a bed table for less than $10.00 at Wal-Mart. Iíd been looking at various ways to use my laptop without setting in on my lap. The bed table works very well when Iím sitting on the bed. I like to go back there sometimes, especially when Mac is on the phone a lot; but it is a bit too large to use comfortably while sitting on the loveseat or to use while sitting outside on our lawn chairs. So, Iíve been looking at those portable laptop lap desks. There are many different kinds available. I really didnít want to spend much money since Iím not too sure if I would like one that much. Well, I found one still in its wrapper at a thrift store the other day. It was priced at only $2.00. I grabbed it right up. Iíll gladly pay two dollars to try something out. Itís slightly larger than my laptop, has an attractive picture on it and the bottom has a bag filled with those poly beads to conform to your lap. The desk is good for using while Iím sitting on the loveseat. It does make me very warm though. The heat from my laptop goes right through all the layers and makes me very warm when using it. Iím glad I only spent two bucks and not some of the prices that Iíve seen at an office supply store. Iíll keep this one for now but I am on the lookout for some way to use my laptop while sitting and not getting so warm while using it. Currently Iím putting a pillow under the lap desk to keep it further away from my body.

Many of the casinos have various promotions going on to get people to come in. While here we went to the Cannery Casino www.cannerycasinos.com  It has an interesting dťcor, like a 1940ís post-war cannery. Anyway, they have had various promotions on the days that we visited the casino. One evening we received Wal-Mart gift cards with $20.00 loaded on them. Another time we received two silk shirts. We could have gotten a beach bag filled with beach toys but we passed on that dayís gift. We went to the Santa Fe Station Casino http://santafe.stationcasinos.com/ one evening and the promotion was for a sandwich grill, so we got one. And of course, with our play weíre earning points towards food or other comps. At other casinos we also received several T-Shirts, and many decks of cards.  Monday evening we used some of our comps at the Palms Casino and went to the movies there. We saw the Bruce Willis new movie Live Free or Die Hard for free.

As I mentioned above we went to the Palms Casino and saw a movie. Weíd played a little before the movie and I hit 4 deuces on the Deuces Wild machine, so I cashed out for the evening with a profit in my pocket. After the movie we ate at 24/7 Cafť  again our food was free.

After the movie and dinner we came home. I got online and was looking around and noticed that the National Weather Service has issued an Extreme Heat Watch for the area. Hereís part of the advisory:

ďEXTREME HEAT IS EXPECTED THROUGH FRIDAY DUE TO A STRONG AREA OF HIGH PRESSURE OVER THE AREA. HIGH TEMPERATURES TUESDAY THROUGH FRIDAY ARE EXPECTED TO BE 112 TO 116 IN LAS VEGAS... BARSTOW...AND THE MORONGO BASIN...118 TO 121 ALONG THE COLORADO RIVER VALLEY INCLUDING LAKE MEAD AND LAKE MOHAVE...115 TO 118 IN THE MESQUITE AREA...105 TO 110 IN KINGMAN...PAHRUMP AND PRIMM...122 TO 127 IN DEATH VALLEY.AND 119 TO 123 IN BAKER.

RESIDENTS AND ESPECIALLY TOURISTS WHO ARE NOT ACCLIMATED TO THE DESERT HEAT ARE URGED TO PLAN OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES AND HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS FOR EARLY MORNING AND LATE EVENING. REMAIN IN AN AIR CONDITIONED BUILDINGS DURING THE HOTTEST PART OF THE DAY.

AN EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING IS ISSUED WHEN TEMPERATURES ARE FORECAST TO REACH DANGEROUS LEVELS THAT WILL STRESS THE BODY IF PRECAUTIONS ARE NOT TAKEN.

USE EXTRA CAUTION AND REMEMBER TO DRINK PLENTY OF WATER...STAY OUT OF THE SUNSHINE AND IN AN AIR-CONDITIONED ROOM IF POSSIBLE... AND CHECK UP ON ELDERLY RELATIVES AND NEIGHBORSĒ

Did you notice the part about staying in an air conditioned building during the hottest part of the day? Gee, I wonder where that might be in Vegas. Mac says weíve now been instructed by the National Weather Service to go to a casino. We always obey those instructions.

We had not planned on being here at this time of year. Weíd seen the forecast and were leaving; but weíre here until we get the Auto Park fixed. Mac called around yesterday and ordered the part. Itís expected in today around noon. Heíll then install the part. I want him to wait till the next morning to put it on though. Itís just too hot, especially at ground level.

Yesterday we had our thermometer outside. It was attached to the side of our RV, in the shade, about 5 feet off the ground and close to our door. It read 112.9 at about 2:00. The temperature then started to fall and leveled off at about 108. We took our afternoon shower and got the heck out of here. Inside temperature was 87, about 26 degrees cooler than outside but still too warm to cook or anything requiring effort. We try and go somewhere during the hottest part of the day. Itís still comfortable enough inside the RV that we donít worry about our kitty. Iím sure it would be comfortable enough for a dog if we had one too. Weíve re-estimated our water usage with the swamp cooler. Mac now thinks it uses less than 30 gallons a day to cool. Every day he goes over and fills four 7 gallon water jugs and pumps the water into our freshwater tank. So based on that weíre using just about 28 gallons a day; this includes water that we drink and use to flush. Even though the temperature is warmer than last week we are using less water than when we were down on the strip behind Ballyís. I think parking on top of blacktop raises the temperature significantly. Weíre currently at Nellis and the temperatures here are actually higher than in Vegas but weíre using less water. Last week when parked on blacktop poor Mac was going for water twice a day. Of course, we also used more water because of bathing. We quickly got out of there and came up here where water is easier to get.

Finding water around Vegas isnít that easy. We were fortunate, Mac had asked security (in the lot behind Bally's) and they told us we could use a water faucet that was located inside the employee parking lot area. Heíd gone to a few gas stations before that and it seems that water faucets arenít a common item at stations here. One station even told him he could buy water for a quarter a gallon!

We had not planned on being in temperatures this hot. Usually this time of year weíre in Reno or Verdi and it isnít as hot as here in Vegas. So based on the temperatures that are in Reno and Verdi we know that weíll be very comfortable using our swamp cooler and wonít be using this much water either.

Speaking of water, we are drinking plenty of fluids in this heat too. Iíve always drank quite a bit, no, not that kind of drinking. I make a 2 quart pitcher of fruit punch daily and sometimes I will drink two pitchers a day. Mac bought some water in plastic bottles for himself and refills them using our water filter and keep bottles of water in the refrigerator. And of course, when weíre out at the casinos we get complimentary drinks too.

Thursday, July 5:

Yesterday morning about 6:00 AM, before it got too hot outside, I installed the pressure switch in our Auto Park system and it seems to be working perfectly.  We're thankful that I'm reasonably handy with tools and can do many of these repairs myself.  This time we probably saved a $300 repair bill, and a 10 mile tow, along with finding a hotel that takes pets (our cat K.C.) and the inconvenience of being out of the RV.  More on the AutoPark repair

Today it was 115, and the weather wasn't the only thing that was hot.  Chris continues to win at video poker.  This time it was a progressive jackpot on a dollar machine.  It was a "Suited Royals" progressive, so each suit was progressive independently.  The one she hit was nice, but she was hoping for one of the others, Spades was up to $8000! 

Tomorrow, Lord willing, we will leave Las Vegas and head north towards Grants Pass, Oregon.  We'll travel through Reno, and some scenic areas of California on the way.  We had planned a more leisurely trip, but now we need to push on and get to Oregon by Monday to pick up our new front tires.  Then we'll camp out at Henderson's Lineup on Monday night and be in their shop on Tuesday for a front end rebuild.  Naturally I'll take pictures and write an article about it.  Henderson's has a great reputation, so although they're not "cheap" and are a little out-of-the-way, it's a comfortable feeling to have work done where you believe they actually know what they're doing and you can trust them. 

So far in our travels I've only been to a handful of shops that I can say that about.  At this point I'm just "assuming" it about Henderson's based on their reputation.  I suppose I should start a list of the shops that have done good work for us.  I do post all our experiences, good and bad, on www.rvservicereviews.com.  I'll start up the list soon in the Tech & Projects section and post here when it's done.

Saturday, July 07:

Thought Iíd add just a few words to catch you up on what weíve been doing since my last blog update. Mac posted about my wonderful win on the dollar machine and where weíre headed next. He didnít mention the Fourth of July celebration throughout the town so Iíll mention it. Weíd gone to a casino during the hottest part of the day, duh!  We left there before dark and were at home in time for all the fireworks. The Nellis AFB RV Park was actually a really great place to see them from. Most of Vegas is in a valley, the park is on the north side and at a higher elevation so from various places in the RV park you can see all of Vegas spread out before you. At night itís really quite pretty with all the lights. So from the RV Park we could see all the firework displays at the various locations. Nellis AFB had fireworks also and we could see those very well. We sat outside in our lawn chairs and ooohed and aaahed over the fireworks. I should have tried to take a picture but didnít think of it, I was having too much fun.

Speaking of pictures reminds me of my camera. Several months ago while we were still in Tampa Iíd told Mac that I would like a very small digital camera to carry with me all the time. I wanted one small enough to carry in my fanny pack or in my purse. Iím always seeing something to take a picture of even if itís not for posting on the blog but just for us. Well, we went shopping and we found 2 cameras that were small enough for me. I wanted the smallest one I could get at an affordable price. I chose this camera, an Olympus FE-230, because of its size and the large viewing area to see what Iím taking a picture of. Hereís some of the description of the camera that I copied off the internet:

ďHow much technology can you possibly pour into a sleek, slim-bodied digital camera that's smaller than a deck of cards? How about Built-in Help Guides, One-Touch Operations, Preset Scene Modes, 3x optical zoom, and a 2.5" LCD? The super-slim FE-230 is absolutely packed with features that make it fun and easy to use. This amazingly slim, sleek-bodied camera is so thin you can easily slide it in your pocket and take it anywhere. Prevent and correct blurry images without a computer! Digital Image Stabilization Mode freezes the action for crisp, clear images. Digital Image Stabilization Edit uses built-in gyro sensors to track camera movement so you can fix blurry images right in the camera. Keep it bright even in low light! When shooting or recording in certain scene modes, Bright Capture allows you to clearly preview your shot on the LCD and capture brighter, more vivid images in low light situations, without a flash. Preset shooting modes optimize the camera's settings for any shooting situation. Choose from Portrait, Night Scene, Underwater, Movie and more.Ē

I absolutely love my camera. I carry it with me all the time. I can take a picture of my royal flushes; I have it with me if I want to take a picture of something in a thrift store to look up on the internet, etc. I think it takes really great pictures too, great quality. All this and it was a little less than $200.00.

So we had a nice Fourth of July even if we did spend it in a casino instead of the traditional picnic with family and friends. Weíve started our own tradition now for a few years of spending it in a casino. We had a great time, had a great meal and watched some great fireworks.

On the Fifth of July as Mac mentioned we went to the Santa Fe Station casino and I hit the royal flush. I was very fortunate and lucky to have hit such a big one on our last day in Vegas. Mac has fixed the problem with our Auto Park so weíre leaving Vegas on Friday morning. I had the greatest time in Vegas, except for the heat of course. I thoroughly enjoyed the gambling, the shows we went to see, the thrift stores and book stores that I visited. I want to come again and stay longer when itís cooler. Iíd love to walk the whole strip and see everything on it; but it was just too hot for me. I think we only did about 5 or 6 blocks on the strip, way less than a quarter of whatís to see. So we have it in our plans to come next year and be here in May maybe earlier.

So we left Vegas Friday morning. Iím sad and glad at the same time. I love Vegas, but itís just too hot, especially this summer with temperatures of 110 and higher. Iím happy to be on the road again, on to our next adventures. Weíre currently heading for Grants Pass Oregon. We headed north on Highway 95.

We stopped for lunch in Tonopah at the Banc Club Casino. We wanted to check it out for our other website on casino camping. Itís a fairly small casino with a large parking lot for trucks and RVs that allows overnight parking. I had a Malibu Sandwich which is ham, Swiss cheese, green chilies, tomatoes, onions, grilled on sourdough bread. It was pretty dang good too. I may have to try this at home!

While we were stopped at the casino the winds picked up and it was really blowing with some pretty strong gusts. It was so dusty that people in the casino thought it was smoke from a fire. But it was dust, lots and lots of dust. We waited for a little while and then we headed out again after the winds died down some.

We were fortunate and didnít run into any more thick dust storms like that. We could see them around us, the winds blowing dust across areas; but none ever reached the highway while we were driving on it.

We decided to stop and spend the night in Hawthorne NV at the El Capitan Casino; again to check it out for our other website www.casinocamper.com.  They too have a large parking lot devoted to trucks and RVs and they also have a free dump station. We went in and had dinner. We both had salads, Mac had a Cobb salad and I think mine was called a southwest salad. It was quite tasty whatever it was called. It had chunks of chicken, beans, all kinds of salad greens, tomatoes, black olives and a picante ranch dressing. Iím going to try this one at home too.

While we were eating dinner a man was going around handing out tickets for some kind of drawing. They called out the number and I won. First time Iíve ever won at some drawing!  So, I went over and handed him my ticket, I thought Iíd won a t-shirt or something. But it turns out it was a chance to win some cash! I had to step into a glass booth, wear safety goggles. They turn on the wind inside and all this cash is flying around. I had to grab some cash and shove it through a small slot. What cash made it through the slot in 45 seconds was mine. It was a very small slot and I only managed to get $50 through the slot, but hey it was fun and it was $50 more than I walked in with.

Our refrigerator is acting up. The freezer works great, keeps everything frozen as it should. But the refrigerator part isnít working well at all. Itís not keeping the stuff cold enough. Friday morning I threw away all the stuff in the refrigerator. The milk had spoiled and I didnít trust that salad dressings, etc. wouldnít be spoiled so it all went in the garbage. We turned up the temperature on the refrigerator to the highest setting but itís still not cooling the way it should. Weíll probably have it looked at while weíre in Grants Pass. Thatís the main reason that we were eating out on this travel day. Usually we have some sandwiches for lunch and then at our evening stop weíll cook some dinner.

Weíre slowly making our way to Grants Pass; weíre in no big hurry. We need to be there sometime Monday to pick up our tires then on Tuesday weíre having the front end work done. And weíll have the refrigerator looked at in Grants Pass too. I hope we donít have to have a new one but if we do I definitely want one that doesnít have an ice maker. We have one that came with our refrigerator and weíve never used it. Iíd rather have the space for more frozen veggies, meat or ice cream. I have 2 ice trays that serve the ice needs of the two of us. Rarely, do we need or want more than that.

I enjoy reading other peopleís blogs. Some of the ones I read are by other RVerís. I was reading one of the blogs and the woman who writes it was telling of the horrible hair cut that sheíd received. She included pictures and the poor woman looked scalped in places. One of the worst hair cuts Iíve seen. Thatís one of the reasons I started letting my hair grow out long. I havenít had a hair cut since we made the decision that we were going to sell our house and hit the road. If I need a trim Mac does it for me and I trim my bangs. Iíve had some pretty bad hair cuts and sure hair will grow out but while itís growing it looks horrible.

Sunday, July 8

On Saturday we left Hawthorne after enjoying our morning routine of coffee, bagels, and goofing off on the internet. We drove to the Boomtown Casino in Verdi NV, which is right above Reno on the interstate. We wanted some cooler weather and we didnít want to unhook. We thought about stopping down in Reno but the temperature was supposed to be 101. Weíre just tired of heat so we came here for the night. Also the wind started kicking up and we just do not enjoy driving in strong wind with gust that almost blow you out of your lane. We tend to drive slower so that we are driving safely. It does take effort to drive in winds.

As I mentioned before weíre slowly making our way to Grants Pass, taking our time. Today though weíre planning on driving most of the day and getting there so weíll be close enough on Monday to pick up our tires.

We went into Boomtown Casino and had a good lunch and dinner. We enjoy eating in the Cantina which is their 24 hour cafť. We played some, of course. But neither of us were winners this day. We made an early night of it and were in bed before 9:00. We were both just tired this evening. It was good sleeping weather too. We opened the windows and let the nice cool air blow over us. I think it got down to around 49 for the low this night. It was great!

I reread the blog entries for this month and I wanted to clarify something in the blog. I do not usually play dollar machines. I just donít have the budget for long term playing on dollars. I usually play quarters and if my budgeted amount for the day is gone then Iím pretty much done for the day. While walking around in the Santa Fe Station Casino I had seen this bank of about 6 machines of dollar Bonus Poker with progressive suited royals; that means each suit of royal flushes pays a different amount. I decided it would be fun to play them since the spades was up to almost $8,000. I was up a little from playing quarters so I had a little extra money to try them. I was very lucky and hit 4 aces a couple of times the first day and after playing for quite a while I cashed out with about $800 in my pocket. On Bonus Poker 4 aces would be 400 coins so that was $400 on the dollar machine. The next day I decided to try again. I set aside $200 to try for it. In my opinion Iím now playing these machines on their money; Iíd already recouped my investment money back and a tidy profit so now Iím using their money to try and hit the royal.

I just wanted to clear that up. I donít want anyone to mistakenly think that weíre not frugal gamblers. We try to be very frugal; we set out with a certain amount and that is it for each day. We donít go over that amount. Iím not saying that people who play dollar or higher machines arenít frugal. They can be very frugal. Itís all a matter of budgeting. Our budget doesnít allow for playing dollars or higher, yet. Iím hoping someday to be able to play dollar machines all the time. The points add up faster and weíd get more comps than we do currently. Iíve read that you need a bankroll of four times the royal. This is your initial investment which you may lose before hitting a royal flush. Whatever winnings you get should go back into your bankroll, keeping it at this 4 times level; anything over the four times level can be considered profit!

When weíre gambling Mac and I keep a spreadsheet of our daily wins and losses. We take a certain amount of money and hopefully there will be wins to report. In the spreadsheet we report daily how much we lost or won at what casino and at what games. If Mac is playing live poker that is separate from the video poker. Occasionally heíll play craps so that is reported separately also. Any winnings go back into our gambling bankroll, keeping it at our four times level. Now if we want to move up to another level then our bankroll would still be four times but of course the dollar amount would need to be higher. So if I want to play dollars all the time with a royal flush jackpot of at least $4,000 then I need to have a $12,000 bankroll. So at this time I play quarters since I only need a bankroll of $4,000.00, quite a bit of difference. But occasionally it is fun to take a little of the profit and try for a bigger jackpot.

On Sunday we left Verdi Nevada. The sky was so smoky looking in Verdi and Reno. All the wildfires around have really made the sky so smoky and hazy looking. When we left Sunday morning we could smell smoke in the air.

We took some of the back scenic roads and connected to Interstate 5 around Mount Shasta. While we were driving along admiring all the beautiful trees in the Lassen National Forest a young bull elk with a nice rack crossed the road and was off through the trees. It was an awesome sight to see!

We drove to Canyonville Oregon just up the interstate from Grants Pass. We parked in the dry RV parking area at the Seven Feathers Casino. We had dinner in the casinoís sports bar; the restaurant had an approximate two hour wait. They had some promotion going on so it was quite busy in the casino. Itís a very attractive place with loads of flowers around. Mac took this picture of the spectacular eagle out in front of the casino.  Click it for a larger view.

We parked here because hey, itís free; and also because we purchased tires from the service center at their truck stop. Weíd ordered them and they are in and ready for us to pick up. Weíll have them put on the RV tomorrow down in Grants Pass when we have our front end work done.

Our refrigerator continues to act up. At first we thought it might have been the extremely hot temperatures that we had in Vegas. It started cooling correctly but after only a few days it started not cooling properly again. Weíve called around Grants Pass and weíre hoping to get it looked at. Iím hoping itís something simple and inexpensive. I really donít want to buy a new refrigerator at this time with all the other work weíre having done.

Thursday, July 12:

On Monday we picked up our new tires. After getting everything ready to head down the road to Grants Pass Mac cranked up the engine on the RV and there was a warning light on the dash indicating we had a brake problem. Mac checked things out and put some more brake fluid in. Everything seems to be okay now but when we get to Grants Pass weíll have the brakes checked out too. We drove on to Grants Pass with no further problems and parked at Hendersonís ready for our appointment in the morning.

Weíve been here at Hendersonís and should be finished up and out of here today. Mac will provided details on what was done to the RV. Iíll just bore you with what Iíve been doing. On Tuesday after we were all checked in and the RV was in the shop I went shopping! I wrote down the addresses of the local thrift stores and drove to the first one on my list. It turns out that all the thrift stores were within walking distance of each other. I visited all of them and several antique stores too. The downtown area of Grants Pass is quite attractive with many flowers around. There are also many bear statues that have been decorated. It was fun to spend a couple of hours around the downtown area. It soon got too hot to walk around though. Tuesday it got up to 104 here in Grants Pass, hottest this day has been on record and we were here for that record breaking event. I could have done without that. Our swamp cooler did a fairly decent job of keeping it cool in the RV. The humidity is higher here so it isnít as effective as it would be in a more arid climate.

On Wednesday, it wasnít as hot, only in the 90ís but the humidity was higher. We turned on the back air conditioner but it has now officially bit the dust, so to speak. We were planning on replacing it later this year but it looks like we may be doing it sooner than planned. If we can manage to stay out of humid warm climate we could put off replacing it for a few more months. We know that when we get back to the Tampa area in November it is sometimes very warm and weíll need it. Sometimes in the Livingston we get there and itís pretty warm and humid too. So weíre checking out the prices on a new air conditioner at this time.

Our refrigerator continued to not cool properly so weíve turned it off. We picked up a DC powered cooler for our refrigerator items and unloaded the refrigerator. Mac has called and scheduled an appointment for installing a new refrigerator for us. It is money we didnít want to spend right now but thatís just the way it goes sometimes. At least the new freezer will have more room without a silly ole icemaker in it.

It sounds like weíre having a lot of problems with the RV but all items were expected to be done at some point. The refrigerator and air conditioner are 11 years old so it was expected that weíd be replacing them soon. The front end work is just all part of our maintenance and upgrading plans. So the money outlay was expected just didnít want to do it all at once. Itís less stressful on the budget to spread out those outlays over the year instead of all in one month.

This morning I decided to go ahead and get some laundry done. So after sorting and loading the car I got to spend a few hours watching clothes spin around in first a washer and then a dryer. The excitement never ends! The laundry in town had good sized front loaders for $2.50 a washer. The dryers were 6 minutes for a quarter. Not a bad price at all.

Weíre heading on over to the coast today when weíre done here.

Sunday morning, July 15:

We finished up at Hendersonís on Thursday afternoon. The bill was what Mac expected. They were surprised that the bill wasnít higher with everything that was done but it worked out well for us. Mac is pleased with the work that was done on the RV. We hooked up the car and headed out towards the coast on Highway 199. We stopped for dinner in Cave Junction Oregon at Uncle Billyís Diner. I had the daily special which was spaghetti and Mac had Lasagna. Both dishes were very tasty. They were flavorful, none of that bland stuff like at a chain restaurant.

Near Cave Junction is the Oregon Caves National Monument. Weíd never heard of it so Iíve looked it up. http://www.nps.gov/orca/index.htm  It sounds like a very interesting place to visit, but not on this trip for us. Weíll have to visit it another day.

After dinner we continued on towards the coast on 199. This is a very scenic route and we enjoyed the drive. We finally hit the coast though and it was great to see the ocean. We headed north on Highway 101 to Lucky 7 Casino  in Smith River CA.  We plan on spending the night here. We arrived just around dusk and soon got the RV ready for the night. We went into the casino and visited it. Itís very nice, a few good machines, mostly at the dollar level though. We did play some on one quarter machine that we found that had 9/6 Jacks so we took turns playing it.

Friday:   In the morning we went in and had breakfast at the restaurant. We were surprised though that the restaurant didnít open until 8:00, that seems very late to us for a restaurant to open. While having breakfast we struck up a conversation with another couple and it turns out they also were in a RV and had spent the night. So we had a good conversation with them and enjoyed the break.

After breakfast Mac went back out to the RV and I gave the casino a little money. Mac discovered one of our tires was low, almost flat and he had to put air in it. One of the valve extender had not been tightened and the air escaped. Thankfully it happened overnight and that Mac had checked the tires. Otherwise if weíd been on the road it would have been a ruined tire. Mac is now thinking of getting a tire pressure monitor, but weíll wait a little to get one of those. It would be a good item to have. If a tire goes flat or too low on a RV you canít really tell. This could severely damage the tire, or cause a fire. So weíre seriously thinking of getting one of those monitors.

Since weíre waiting to ensure the tire doesnít have a leak we had lunch at the casino. We split a club sandwich. It was an actual club sandwich, made with ham, turkey and bacon. Most club sandwiches donít have all three meats on them anymore so when it does we order that and split it.

The tire doesnít leak, yea! So weíre on the road again after lunch. We head south on 101 and admire the scenery. We stopped at many of the scenic overlooks and we stopped at a long stretch of beach area and had dinner. Mac grilled up all the frozen meat from the freezer. Itís slowly defrosted and needs cooking now. So he grilled up the meat and we then had dinner right on the coast, admiring the view. We packed away the cooked meat to eat for lunch and dinner the next couple of days and headed out. Boy what a view we had for dinner, it doesnít get any better than this.  Click photos below for larger view.

We drove on to Blue Lake Casino to spend the night. Weíd stopped here last year and enjoyed it very much. This year the parking wasnít very good at all. Last year they had marked RV parking spots, theyíve built a gas station where that used to be. They plan on building some RV parking spots but at this time there are none marked. So we had to take up several parking spots, along with several other RVerís, there wasnít much parking left in the back area after nightfall. Last year there were several video poker machines with decent pay tables. This year there were none to be found on the quarter level. The best pay table I could find was 7/5 Bonus Poker at the dollar level. We probably wonít be back here unless the pay tables improve. There are too many casinos out there to bother with one that doesnít have good pay tables.

We had a good nightís sleep and left the casino by 8:00 Saturday morning. We continued down Highway 101 admiring the scenery. We stopped for lunch at a rest area, eating some of the meat that Mac had grilled yesterday. We had a brief rest and hit the road again. We got off 101 and took Highway 128 heading over to Calistoga. Wow, what a twisty, windy, curvy road this is. Itís very beautiful but I didnít enjoy some of the curves. Being the weekend, there is more traffic, more bicycles, etc. We passed several bicycles. The road is so narrow in places that we had to follow the bicycle for quite a ways until we had a clear long view of the road ahead before we could pass the bicycle. We really didnít want to try passing, meet another vehicle and pull over too soon sending the bicycle into the ditch or over a cliff. Speaking of cliff, there are many sections of roads in CA where youíll be driving right along a cliff. Mac was complaining that they spare no expense on the guard rails along the roads. Thereíd be many places where there would be no guard rail. It really made the drive quite exciting. Did you know that too much adrenaline makes you nauseous? I got sick from all the excitement and Mac had to finish the driving today.

We arrived at the Napa County Fair Grounds and are staying here for a few days. Mac has some wine to pick up and then weíre out of here after a couple of days. We made an appointment to have a refrigerator installed on Tuesday. Iím so looking forward to having ice again.

When we arrived and got all hooked up I had a nice shower. It felt so good too. We were very low on water in our tank and the other tanks were pretty full. Weíd last dumped and filled in Las Vegas before we left there, so we went ten days on our tanks, not too bad at all.

The weather is beautiful here. We enjoyed the rest of the day, sitting outside at times feeling the great breeze. The weather is high in the mid to upper 80ís but thatís only for a few hours. We had dinner outside, again having some of the meat that Mac had grilled. Tomorrow at lunch will be the last of that meat. Then I think Mac will go over and buy some more of those great tri-tips that we had the last time we were here.

We made an early evening of it. We both read our books and I went to sleep not long after dark. I have big cleaning plans for today. Weíre on hook-ups and I plan on taking full advantage of all the electricity and water available. Iím going to clean this place from top to bottom today. Since a RV is much smaller than a house it wonít take long to give it a thorough cleaning either, leaving me with some time to enjoy the day.

Tuesday, July 17

When last I blogged I reported that I was going to give the RV a good cleaning. Well, it actually happened on Monday instead of Sunday. We goofed off most of Sunday. Mac went and picked up his wine. We read our books, took a nap, sat around outside and enjoyed the day. Mac also picked up a tri-tip roast that we wrote about last year. This one was soaking in mesquite marinade; we had it for dinner. I met our camping neighbor and she enjoys reading too so we exchanged books. She was so desperate for something new to read that sheíd been reading her grandsonís algebra book!

Monday I cleaned the interior of the RV while Mac washed the exterior. In addition he did his ďrealĒ job today. Itís been such gorgeous weather; weíre really enjoying it. After dinner we took a walk around town. I do love to see all the flowers and especially the roses, there seems to be a lot of roses in California.

Mac did a little work on the RV too. He ran down to the hardware store and got something to hold up the exhaust pipe. Heís already repaired that twice but it still kept getting loose. Itís pretty tight right now so hopefully this repair has done the trick.

We sometimes see so much while driving that Iíll forget to mention it in my writing of the blog. Well again I forgot to mention some really wonderful sights that we saw. On our trip from Grants Pass to Calistoga we saw on two different occasions herds of elk. Both times we couldnít park to get a picture. So the herds live in our memories and not on our film.

Tuesday we loaded up and headed out to get our new refrigerator, yea! When we left Calistoga we drove on Highway 29.  In Oakville there is a restaurant; Taqueria Lavaca & BBQ I think is the name of it.  It has a few statues out front; the funniest one is a cow dressed as Marilyn Monroe from the movie The Seven Year Itch.  This cow just cracks me up!  We saw it last year but didnít get a good picture of it.  This year we got a good picture.  Click the small photo if you want to see it larger.  

 

We arrived at the Camping World in Rocklin CA in time for our 1:00 appointment. Iím so looking forward to finally having a real refrigerator and not living out of a cooler. For the estimated two hours to install the refrigerator I decided to leave in the car and drive back down the interstate to a thrift store weíd seen on our way here. By the time I got back they were done with the install. I must say I was impressed that the Camping World in Rocklin came through on all counts. They got us in quickly and they were done in the time they said it would take. They used the panels from our old refrigerator so we didnít have to buy new ones. They were friendly and just all around a good bunch of people. I love our new refrigerator; it seems roomier than the old one even though itís the same size. Itís working great too, no problems so far at all. Sometimes when you buy new stuff you expect thereís going to be a problem but so far none.

We hooked back up the car and headed out towards Reno. We stayed on Interstate 80 and just drove. Weíd thought about taking a scenic route, going around Lake Tahoe and maybe spending the night, but I just want to get there.  About 30 miles away from Verdi we saw a huge smoke cloud.  Whereís this fire coming from, we asked?  We arrived at Boomtown Casino in Verdi, as we were taking the exit we could see in the distance the firefighter plane dropping a load on the hill where the fire is. We canít see the fire from where weíre parked but we can see the smoke in the daytime and the glow at night is quite noticeable. Itís so dry around here, the fire danger is extremely high. Thankfully, weíre in no danger from this fire, itís still too far away and on the other side of the interstate. We found out that this fire began at a construction site; not sure how it got started.  Point to the photos for a description, and click them if you want to see them in larger format.

Wednesday, July 18

Today is my birthday. What do I want to do today? Well, I want a jackpot for my birthday so itís into the casino to try and get my desired present. I played at Boomtown for a few hours and then Mac joined me and we had lunch in the cantina.

Later on in the afternoon we unhooked the car and decided to head on out to the Peppermill. Mac drove the RV and stopped and filled the propane tank and topped off the water while he was at it. Weíll be drycamping so itís good to have a full tank of fresh water.

On the way down to Reno I can clearly see and smell the smoke from the fire. They are still trying to get this fire out. Thereís been a strong breeze and that always fuels a fire. I hope they get it out soon.

I verified with security where we could park the RV and we got all set up at the Peppermill Casino. After freshening up we went inside. Wow, each time it hits me how much neon is in this casino. It has quite a bit, itís a little over the top on neon but weíve gotten used to it and really like it.

We played for a while and then had dinner at the Oceana Restaurant. I ordered grouper; I was so looking forward to it. I was disappointed though with the fish. Iím going to quit ordering grouper anywhere but in Florida. Itís just too unpredictable what Iíll get. Iíll just order fried shrimp; even frozen shrimp that have been fried are good so thereís no disappointment there. But I thoroughly enjoyed my salad. This restaurant has the best salad that comes with your meal. Youíd expect some greens, maybe a slice of tomato. But their salad has greens, a really nice variety of greens, chopped tomatoes, chopped egg, chopped zucchini, croutons, and some shrimp. Itís a great salad! We played some more after dinner. I didnít get my desired present of a royal flush but I had a good time today.

First photo shows the wild neon decor of Oceana -- it's an underwater theme and is really over the top.  Click photo for larger view.  On the right, you see a photo of the salad that Chris is raving about.  I love them too.  One of the better dinner salads I've had.

 

Sunday, July 22

I was going to write tonight about what an awful, lousy run of luck we're both having the last week.  Then today I hit a Royal on a 10/7 DB progressive for about $1070, and then went to a dollar progressive 8/5 BP and hit 4 ducks for another 200.  Not a bad evening.  Chris hit a few good hands too so it seems we've stopped the downhill slide!

We're still at the Peppermill and enjoying it, but I do have one or two gripes.  Now don't misunderstand, the Oceana is as good a seafood restaurant as you'll find in Reno, but don't order grouper there!  Yes, we're from Florida so we're especially picky about Grouper.  It's supposed to be white and tender or chunky, not dark or off-white and mushy or oily.  Also, don't order steak at Oceana.  I had a NY Strip tonight and it was tough and gristly.  It was also somewhat small.  The things they do well are Shrimp, Salmon, Sushi, Salads and Sourdough Bread (so far).   Humm, I just realized those are all "S" words!   I think I'll have the Swordfish next :-)

As long as I'm commenting on the "food and beverage" department here's another big disappointment.  In the past, the bar outside Oceana was considered the "wine bar" and had many excellent wine selections by the glass.  Typically they would comp Gold and higher (we're Gold), but the top end wines you needed to be Platinum or Diamond.  Well that has come to an end.  Now they're pouring a narrow selection of wines, some low end Kenwood, some OK low end Chateau St. Michelle, and a Steel Pinot that I haven't tried but will.  Bummer.

Chris and I both entered a video poker tournament today and played round one of three.  The final two rounds are tomorrow.  We've never played a tournament before but so far we're enjoying it and looking forward to tomorrow.  We'll tell you all about it when it's over.   

The results are in on the video poker tournamentÖ  There were about 280 entrants.  Mac came in 66th place and I came in 19th place. He got $50 and I got $100 so for the whole tournament we only spent $48 for the two of us.  It was fun. I think Iíll enter them from now on if thereís one going on at a casino while weíre in town. You never know I might come out to be a bigger winner someday. At least Iíll have fun trying.

Monday was a good day for me as far as gambling goes. I hit a royal flush on a progressive machine for over $1,100. In the picture you can see the reflection from all the neon that weíve mentioned at the Peppermill Casino.

Mac got this link in his email. Itís so funny that I thought weíd share: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egCeIwjIuZM 

Other than gambling not much is going on lately. Mac works hard every day then has some fun in the afternoon and evening. Heís mentioned that this is the busy season at work so heís really got his nose to the grindstone getting those placements done.

You'll notice two photos above of royals.  If you want to see a larger photo click on it.  Chris hit another one today, so together we've hit 3 in the last 3 days.  Uncommon good luck!  All were on quarter progressives but for less than $1200 so no W-2g.  We do keep a log of all our play, so we can deduct wins from losses when we report our income for taxes.  We even record little wagers, $5 on the roulette wheel, etc.

FYI, you'll get a royal flush about once every 50,000 hands on average, give or take.  Of course there's lots of variation and some people (I'm one of them) have played 100,000 hands without getting one.  In the last 3 days I estimate Chris and I have played about 20,000 hands between us, but the last time we had RF's was 7/1 for me and 7/5 for Chris so in the long term the math levels out the results to some extent.   For more info on the topic you can look here.

Tuesday, July 31

Not too much to write about, just wanted to finish out the month of July and then move on to August. Weíre still in Reno and plan to stay through Hot August Nights. www.hotaugustnights.net  We havenít been to one yet and plan on seeing all the cool cars this year. Those are the plans but plans can change.

When we were here in Reno at the Peppermill Casino two years ago we met a very nice couple, Jim and Donna, from Canada. They come down every summer in their RV for a vacation and stay for about a month. We met them here again this year. We had lunch with them on Sunday in the coffee shop and then today we had lunch with them sharing great sandwiches from the Sports Book Grill in their room. Weíve exchanged email addresses and plan on staying in touch with them. Maybe weíll see them next year if we all come back to Reno.

Mac and I really like Reno, we call it our second home. Itís not too big like Vegas or even Tampa. I like the shopping around Reno; I can also find my way around the town easily and not get lost. Groceries are quite reasonable and there are several chains to choose from. I love Safeway myself, especially their sugar-free pies. We picked up a peach one the other day and itís still as great tasting as ever.

The temperatures here in Reno are quite nice this year. It did get up to 100-102 this week; which after being in Las Vegas with the 112+ temperatures 100 was easy to do. Our swamp cooler keeps on working like a champ, keeping us cool and comfortable in this dry climate. The evenings and nights are cool so we open the windows to let in the nice breeze.

Weíve been parked in the Peppermill Casino parking lot all this time. One of the other RVerís parked here told Mac of a free dump station. We went there Saturday morning, dumped our tanks and filled with fresh water. Mac has been taking our 4 water jugs and filling them daily from one of the faucets we were told we could use here at the Peppermill. Previously weíd been going to Baldiniís to dump when needed and fill with fresh water. It cost $5.00 when we went there last year. Now that weíve found this new free dump station thatís money we can keep in our pocket. For those who want to know where this free dump station is itís at the 7-11 at the corner of Longley and McCarran Blvd.

Oh, before I forget I hit another royal flush this evening on a progressive royal. This one was a nice one too at $1,487.  So the month of July has been a very good month for us as far as jackpots go. Iíve hit 4 royals and Mac has hit 2 royals this month. So this was an extremely productive month as far as our gambling goes.

Monthly Camping Expense Report

Although we're finally moving in the right direction we're still a long way from catching up with last year's frugal performance.  For the month of July we only paid for 9 days of camping.  Six of these were dry camping at Nellis AFB for $6 a night, but 3 were on hookups at the Napa Country Fairground for a stats inflating $30 per night.  At this time we have no plans to be on hookups again until we leave Reno, unless we get some free nights somewhere.

How can we go without hookups in 100 degree desert weather?  The short version is four words Solar Power & Swamp Cooler.  Click links for the long version.

Year to Date Avg $ per Nite # Dry # Elect # FHU # Free %Dry % Free
2007 $10.18 106 21 84 45 50% 21%
2006 $8.04 106 9 95 99 50% 47%
2005 $9.06 127 17 68 56 60% 26%

 

What did we do in July's past?  Take a look at:

 July 2006

July 2005

 

Continue reading August 2007

 

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