Dear RV Friends:
It is all here in this mind boggling Blog. Do you want to know how it all began in the Fabulous year of 2003? The story begins right here, right now.
There are several Team members. Although it may seem too incredible to believe, only one of us is human, however we all speak to each other. Would you like to meet the Gang?
She is a 1991 Fleetwood Tioga Arrow. She is 27 feet long, and has a Ford 460 cubic inch engine. Magically, although there are many such engines in the world, Ms. Tioga's engine is the most powerful ever built. Capable of pulling the entire Team up steep mountainsides, that even the awesome Hummer fears to tread. Ms. Tioga has a great heart. When confronted with a terribly steep dirt mountain road, her mighty pistons pound with unyielding power that has never failed her faithful Team members.
He is the only human aboard the Team and his main job is to drive Ms. Tioga.
George met Ms. Tioga on February 25, 2003. On that day, the cancer doctor declared George to be in remission. George went out from the doctor's office and put down the $cash$ money and brought Ms. Tioga home. George never slept anywhere but inside Ms. Tioga from that day on! A member of George's cancer support group asked George if he would keep a journal of his travels.
That is why our Blog was born!
Early in George's travels, he began to speak with Ms. Tioga. Soon, other members of the Team joined in and that is how the Team was born. But it was not until George began to camp in the wild places of the west that it became clear that this was a very special team. We were Vagabonds, roaming everywhere in search of adventure. The Team feared nothing, and proved it time and time again as they were carried by Ms. Tioga to places that no other RV had ever tread.
Team Camera - Mr. Sony Mavica.
Our camera is Mr. Sony Mavica. Mr. Mavica is an older and wiser camera. He was a gift from George's son David, and was David's first digital camera. When George became a fulltime RVer, David donated Mr. Sony Mavica to the Team. Mr. Mavica has much less than one megapixel capacity. He stores his images on 3-1/2" floppy disks (that are not too floppy).
By May, 2004, Mr. Mavica had gotten very tired. His switches would not work, his floppy drive would not be accessed. A Fuji FinePix A205 was bought, and Mr. Mavica went into retirement. We did not tell our readers about Mr. Mavica. For some reason, it did not seem right. Mr. Mavica receives a lot of email from his friends, and we did not want to hurt them with the news.
In March, 2006, Mr. Fuji got his lens screwed up, and we bought a Kodak C300 from a camera shop in the Pueblo of Santa Rosalia. We called this Kodak, Little Mavicito, after Mr. Mavica. The Kodak was supposed to be only a temporary camera. We wanted to upgrade upon returning to the USA.
In April, 2006, a Nikon Coolpix 5600 was purchased while we were in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada. Would you believe that we still call this Nikon, Little Mavicito. Why do we do this? Hmmmmm? We just like the name, "Little Mavicito."
In June, 2008, my Nikon Coolpix 5600 was stolen during a burglary that happened in Jerusalem, Israel [link]. Upon returning to California, a Nikon Coolpix P60 was purchased. The P60 continues using the name, Little Mavicito. March, 2009. On the day that we were leaving Aticama for our flying trip to California, suddenly Little Mavicito died! Our Nikon Coolpix P60 got stuck with its lens extended. Nothing could bring the P60 back to life. We bought a Canon PowerShot A470 as an interim camera, thinking to buy another Nikon when in California. However, readers wrote that they liked the Canon's pics. So, this Canon A470 was named Little Mavicita. The "a" at the end of her name means that she is a girl camera! April, 2010. We bought a backup camera, just in case. This new backup camera is Canon PowerShot SX120, purchased from Fry's Electronics in Concord, California.
August, 2011. Little Mavicita, our Canon A470 began shooting over exposed pics. We could not fix Little Mavicita, so we broke out our backup camera. It is the Canon PowerShot SX120, that we bought in April, 2010. We named the SX120, New Mavicita!
Mr. Chips [Desktop Computer]:
When The Team was born in February, 2003, we had one computer system onboard. That computer is Mr. Chips, the heart of our technical resources. The entire Team agrees that Mr. Chips is the smartest one of us. He has a very difficult job indeed. Without Mr. Chips working 100%, we cannot go online, have no GPS system, no email, no posting to our Blog. We would be cut off from the outside world! Mr. Chips is a full size computer, and he stands on the floor under George's computer workstation located in Ms. Tioga's bedroom. Mr. Chips has a 2-gigahertz clockspeed and (2) 40 gigabyte hard drives. He has a beautiful Samsung flat panel monitor.
In Novermber, 2005, Mr. Chips was transformed into a Compaq computer. He is a little smaller than before, but as powerful as ever. Mr. Chips is living in the same place as before, under our computer workstation desk in MsTioga's bedroom. Mr. Chips' main job now is to be a backup computer in case Ms. GQ ever dies. Mr. Chips has all the programs loaded necessary to take over his old job.
In December, 2009, our Mr. Chips offered to go live with friend Weng Kohler. Weng lives in Portland, Oregon, and has a home on a hill above the Pueblo of Aticama.
Ms. GQ [Laptop Computer]:
Ms. GQ (Good Quality) is our laptop computer and came aboard The Team in October, 2005. Ms. GQ was purchased from Fry's Electronics and has a beautiful silver and very slim case. She has a 40mb hard drive and a 12" screen measured side to side. Ms. GQ's main jobs are posting to our Blog and hosting Mr. DeLorme, our GPS system.
In April, 2008, Ms. GQ began the process of giving up. That was when Ms. Viola came aboard The Team. Ms. Viola is a Sony laptop computer. Very powerful. 1.73 Ghz Dual Intel processor. 2.0 GB RAM memory. 140 GB hard drive.
In September, 2009, Mr. HP was purchased at R-Computer, an independent computer store located in Pleasant Hill, California. Mr. HP is the Model HP ProBook 4510s. He has an Intel Dual Core processor that runs at 2.1 Ghtz, 3MB RAM and 232 gigabytes hard drive. He also has a full keyboard including a 10-key pad in about the same space a Ms. Viola! His monitor appears to be high definition quality. Very nice for watching movies!!
In December, 2010, Mac was purchased at the Apple Store in Walnut Creek, California. Mac is a MacBook Pro with a 13.2" screen. He has an Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 2.4 GHz speed, 4 GB memory and 40 GB hard drive. Mac uses the Mac OS X operating system. Mac also uses Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system and switches between these two operating systems by using VMware Fusion3.
He is our solar electric system, and produces electricity from the sunshine. Mr. Sunny has (6) Shell 75 watt Solar Panels. The power from these panels goes thru a Heliotrope RV-30SE Charge Controller that fills our battery bank with power. Our battery bank has (6) 6 volt Exide Golf Car Batteries, that hold about 600 amp hours of electricity. The Xantrex Inverter/Charger Model 2012-12 volt, takes the power from the battery bank and converts it from 12 volt DC to 110 volt AC power. The Xantrex also charges the battery bank when power is available from the shore or Mr. Onan, our onboard generator.
Between the months of April thru October, when the Sun is high in the sky, Mr. Sunny is able to keep Mr. DataStorm and Mr. Chips up and running all during the day by himself, with no help from Mr. Onan! Only during the evening, if George keeps all systems on for a long time, does Mr. Sunny ask Mr. Onan for some help!
During the fall of 2005, our Heliotrope Charge Controller was retired because we found that their were days when its 30 amp capacity was exceeded. We bought an RV Power Products "Solar Boost 50", a 50 amp capacity solar battery charge controller. RV Power Products later became Blue Sky Energy, Inc. This battery charge controller uses Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) and delivers up to 30% more power from PV Modules than conventional solar charge controllers.
In December, 2007, we were in the San Diego, California area and decided to replace Mr. Sunny's battery bank, the Exide batteries that we wrote about above. We went to American Battery in City of Escondido and bought (6) Crown 6-volt deep cycle batteries. The Crown's are a bright red color and come equipped with really useful threaded studs for connecting electric cables.
January, 2010 was when our MorningStar TriStar battery charge controller came aboard. Technology for these battery controllers has advanced much since we have been on-the-road. The MorningStar is a terrific controller and keeps our solar battery bank charged to the maximum!
Our Crown deep cycle battery bank is now over five years old. And the batteries have been abused a couple of times by allowing the plates to become uncovered. This uncovering happened when we were on trips to Israel and Guatemala.
So, we replaced the six Crown batteries with only four Johnson Controls LTH #LGC2-125M deep cycle batteries. These LTH batteries cost 1470 pesos each [$118US].
The LTH battery bank is our third set of batteries. Averaging out to a life span of five years each! We reduced our battery bank from six batteries to only four batteries. Now that Mr. Datastorm is no longer on the team, we do not need as much battery capacity!
Mr. Onan is our 4 Kilowatt Emerald Plus Electric Generator. Nobody on The Team, including Mr. Onan, knows what "Emerald Plus" means, but it sounds really good, and we all like that description. Mr. Onan has two cylinders, and they are very hard working. During the Winter time, Mr. Onan works terribly hard in order to keep Mr. Sunny's battery bank charged. In the Summer, Mr. Onan can relax, because Mr. Sunny's solar panels do the charging job in the Summer. Mr. Onan has his own little cubby hole to reside in, located outside, in back of and below George's driving seat.
Note: Mr. Onan now lives in Mexico. He was hardly used in the years when he was part of The Team. We gave away our hardly used air conditioner to Jose the fiberglass guy who lives in the City of Constitución. After that, there was no purpose for Mr. Onan.
He is our Satellite Internet Antenna System. Mr. DataStorm is the center of our communication with the outside world. Manufactured by the MotoSat Corporation, Mr. DataStorm has an antenna that automatically rises from an almost flat position on Ms. Tioga's roof, extends and automatically finds the satellite to get us on the internet. Mr. DataStorm consists of the Antenna, Transmit and Receive Modems from the Hughes DirecWay company and a positioner which controls the antenna's movements. Software from MotoSat and Hughes, round out the DataStorm system. The antenna also provides access to satellite TV.
Below is a link to more info about Mr. DataStorm!
Note: In June, 2011 we purchased from Verizon, a Pantech UML290 4G modem device which connects us to the internet. We soon found this Verizon modem to be much more convenient to use than Mr. Datastorm. So, Mr. Datastorm has been sitting on MsTioga's roof unused!
He is our wonderful refrigerator, who silently keeps his cool. After a rather sad beginning, when Mr. Dometic had to have his entire self replaced twice, he is now working excellently. He keeps his cool in hot weather and cold. Mr. Dometic is a model RM2620. Although he uses both electricity and propane for power, he runs now only on propane because electricity is a premium commodity onboard Ms. Tioga! Mr. Dometic has brown woodlike panels on his fridge and freezer doors. He has a separate compartment for his freezer, and keeps ice cream frozen perfectly.
Our Global Positioning System (GPS) is Mr. DeLorme. Much bad press has gone out about Mr. DeLorme. He is not able to tell a one-way from a two-way street. He often believes that an overpass actually intersects the street below. He chooses routes thru places where there are no roads. Sometimes, he even makes up roads. Mr. DeLorme is very imaginative. However, we would not be without our Mr. DeLorme, even though he is often very confused. One thing that he knows for sure, is where he is located. That has gotten the TiogaRV Team out of many a jam!
Note: In March, 2009 we bought a Garmin Nuvi GPS. Although we still use Mr. DeLorme from time-to-time, we have come to depend on the Garmin. The Garmin Nuvi is very convenient. It sits on MsTioga's front dash table.
We guess that you already know what the fabulous Mr. Levelers does for the TiogaRV Team? You are right! Mr. Levelers is our RV leveling system. He brings Ms. Tioga level when we park. This is very important too, because Mr. Dometic the refrigerator gets very dizzy when he is not level, and refuses to cool our food. Also, when George cooks, it is not a good thing when the pancakes flow down into one end of the pan making a "hillcake" instead of a pancake. Mr. Leveler's controls are located in the back panel of Mr. Chips computer work station. There are four switches, and each one controls its own leveler. George moves these switches while looking at the little levels mounted in the bedroom, and can make everything perfectly level in only a minute or so. Mr. Levelers is an electric jack system from Power Plus Levelers.
If you are going to use Power Plus levelers in your RV, please click on the link below to read George's Notes on PowerPlus Levelers:
Factory link to: Power Plus Levelers
Our catalytic heater is Mr. Wave-6. Manufactured by US Catalytic Corporation, it is called the Olympian Wave 6. Mr. Wave-6 is portable. He sits on very stable legs, and is hooked up to propane with a flexible gas hose that taps into our propane line with a quick disconnect brass valve. Mr. Wave-6 is very safe. He produces no moisture that we can can detect. We mention moisture only because when catalytic heaters are talked about, this moisture subject is always brought up. Mr. Wave-6 produces no fumes. We always leave a window cracked open when Mr. Wave-6 is on, and a roof vent too, to insure ventilation. Having Mr. Wave-6 sitting a few feet away on a cold night, is like having our own little fireplace.
In April, 2012, we decided to replace Mr. Wave-6 who had performed wonderfully for 9-years. But Wave-6's burner pad was beginning to leak propane gas. It was time for a new catalytic heater!
We bought a Wave-3, a much smaller heater from Amazon.com and are very satisfied with this 1/2 size catalytic heater. Takes much less room too in its storage space inside MsTioga's shower.
Little Twee is a baby bonzai. He lives in a shallow dish which was a birthday present from son Joseph. Little Twee came to live with The Team in 2003. He needs special care, because since Twee is a tree, it is necessary to keep him outdoors a lot.
Little Twee passed away quietly during the nite of February 22, 2006. We all miss Little Twee.
Our bicycle is Mr. Trek, and was a gift to The Team from David, George's son. Mr. Trek is painted in green and white. He is very light, and has big fat tires. His gears shift very easily, and he has more than 20 gears to shift into for easy peddling. Mr. Trek hangs off of his rack, and endures the cold, rain and the heat of sun with no complaints. Mr. Trek is locked to Ms. Tioga with a very thick cable lock, so that nobody will be tempted to take him away.
In early 2010, we gave Mr. Trek to Francis, the oldest son of our friend Weng who owns Hill Top Home in Aticama, Mexico. Francis needed a bike. And we were not using Mr. Trek much anymore.
Miss RV Looking:
Our backup camera is Miss RV Looking. She is a gift from Tim the Toolman of Modesto, California. Tim took pity on MsTioga because George kept on bashing into things while backing up. Since Miss RV Looking was installed in October, 2004, George has not backed into even one single thing! Thank you soooo much, Tim the Toolman!
Ms. Planty Green:
Ms. Planty Green joined The Team in September, 2004, the second female aboard! Ms. Planty Green is a very cute palm tree plant and she is only about 10" tall. Ms. Planty Green lives by the window on MsTioga's table.
On January 30, 2005, Ms. Planty Green went to live in Alty's kitchen in the Pueblo of Santa Rosalia. Alty and her husband Chito are The Team's good friends in the Pueblo.
We first met Boid in a pet store just outside the WalMart in the City of Leon. We introduced Little Boid to readers the following day, February 14, 2008 [link]. Boid only cost $80 pesos, pretty inexpensive. However, Boid has turned into a special friend.
We got Boid to be unafraid of hands by getting him to eat his seeds out of my hand. For about two weeks after Boid became a part of The Team, his cage's seed cup was removed in the early morning. Boid had to fly on my hand in order to eat his seeds. Quickly he became hand tame.
Over the following months, Boid learned to speak a lot of words [link].
25 April 2009 - Magdalena, Jalisco
In the early evening, just before dark, I went outside MsTioga. Just as I was going out the door, Boid flew on my shoulder. When we were both outside, Boid flew into a tree behind MsTioga. Boid was never seen again. I miss him soooooo much! Blue Boid:
29 April 2009 - Guadalajara, Jalisco
I went to shop at a Radio Shack store, and stumbled across a pet shop in the same shopping center. "Do you sell birds?", I asked. That's when Blue Boid and I first met!
22 May 2009 - San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
Over the past two days, Blue Boid has been flying very close to me. Wanting to fly on me. Jumping on my hand. We were getting to be pals. In order to keep Blue Boid safe, he lives inside my bedroom.
But I made a mistake!
A man knocked on MsTioga's door. Without thinking, I went to answer the knock and forgot to close the bedroom door. Blue Boid, that sweet little guy flew out into MsTioga's living room. Probably to be close to me, his new pal. Then Blue Boid flew outside, and is gone.
I will never have another bird or pet. This is it. I put all of the seeds into the cage, and put the cage out on the grass lawn of the parking lot for somebody to find and to keep.