Remember that when you leave this Earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received, only what you have given, a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage. -St. Francis of Assisi

Drake Tax Software

Saturday, June 30, 2012

INCIWEB.org

This is a good website to check out if you are moving on to a new area in your RV.

This website lists information and maps on ALL active wildfires.

Wildfires are burning in several states at this time.

Drought, unusually high temperatures and high winds along with lightning have caused many of these wildfires.

Some have been reported to he caused by humans.

Be careful over the holiday weekend.
Stay safe and have fun.

NO fireworks. We don't need them.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hazy night sky



The wind was crazy this evening
then it rained for about a half hour
and it cooled down.

I'm hoping the cooler temps and rain
will help to prevent fires.



Monday, June 25, 2012

United Campground - Durango, CO

Friday June 22 and Saturday June 23

I stayed at this campground because it is less than 5 miles from downtown Durango and there is a "Durango Trolley" stop in front of the campground. The trolley runs from 7am to 10pm, is free, and stops at the campground every 20 minutes.




The property is very scenic and borders the Animas River. The Durango & Silverton train passes right through the middle of the campground.



The RV sites are on the west side of the tracks
 and the tent sites are on the east side of the tracks.



The only drawback to this RV park is that they really pack in the RV's. It is a very quiet park and I had nice neighbors on the right side of my RV. They do have full hookup sites but I didn't need it for only 2 days. I think the water and electric sites have a better view than the full hookup sites. I just needed an electric hookup to turn the A/C on for my cat, it was in the high 80's and 90's for most of the weekend. I was away from the campground for most of the day.  An electric/water site was $35.00 per day.


tent sites across the tracks

I walked around the park on Friday evening and didn't see any access to the river.  There is a small stream that was right in front of my RV. On Saturday I asked the owner if there was access to the river, because they advertise "fishing".  She said I would have to climb over the fences, because they have cattle grazing on the property.  I decided not to do this, I had been out walking around all day and was tired and she said the grass was tall beyond the fences. 


Friday evening, I could see the smoke
from the "Weber Canyon Forest Fire"

The Weber Canyon fire is in Mancos, CO - south of Hwy. 160.  I drove past this area early on Sunday morning when I returned to work at Mesa Verde National Park.  Mesa Verde is 10-15 miles west of the town of Mancos. 

Saturday evening as I sat at the picnic table in front of the RV, I heard a noise - it was a deer just a few feet from my RV door.  When I stood up, it took off.  Then it walked back to the stream  - this time in front of the RV next to mine and there were 2 deer at this time.  I was not able to get a decent photo.  They took off when some other campers walked by.


-    -     -     -     -     -     -     -     -     -     -

I did not take a lot of pictures in Durango.  Diane and Karl and I were just relaxing by the pool at their motel, or walking around the downtown area where all the shops are.  When they went to a pre-wedding party on Friday evening, I took the trolley back to my RV.  On Saturday morning, I took the trolley to town, stopping along the way at a few thrift shops and the Farmers Market before meeting up with the kids again.  When they left for the wedding around 4pm, I stopped to get some frozen yogurt then headed back to the RV.


Karl & Diane
ready for a "cowboy" wedding
at the El Dorado Ranch


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Long House

Long House Mesa Verde’s Most In-Depth Tour
"Starting with a tram ride to and from the trailhead, this 90-minute, ranger-guided tour involves climbing two 15ft (4.5m) ladders within the site. The round trip hike is 3/4 mile (1.2km), with a 130ft (40m) gain in elevation upon exiting. Tour begins at the Wetherill Mesa information kiosk, a 12-mile (19km) drive from the Visitor Center. Allow 45 minutes for this drive. Vehicles over 25-feet (8m) long are prohibited on this road."











Long House in on Wetherill Mesa.  I asked Diane and Karl to drive me to this tour because I am not allowed to drive the RV on this road.  My RV is under 25', but there is an 8000 lb. limit on the road, also.



"On a snowy December day in 1888, while ranchers Richard Wetherill and Charlie Mason searched Mesa Verde’s canyons for stray cattle, they unexpectedly came upon Cliff Palace for the first time. The following year, the Wetherill brothers and Mason explored an additional 182 cliff dwellings."

I purchased the $3.00 ranger led tour tickets for 11:00am on Wednesday, June 20th.


We packed a picnic lunch and extra water. We arrived early and while we waited for the tour to start, we walked down to another cliff dwelling,"Step House".


Ranger Jeff
Our tour was longer than 90 minutes
he said he talked to much
He told us a lot of interesting stories.
























Saturday, June 23, 2012

Diane and Karl were here

Tuesday and Wednesday June 19th and 20th.

Diane and Karl were going to a wedding in Durango this weekend, so they came to Mesa Verde to visit.

hiking Knife Edge Trail @ Mesa Verde


They stayed at the Far View Lodge for 2 nights and we toured around the park.

Deer just a few feet away from their Lodge room door


baby birds hanging out at the Far View Visitor Center




I am off work Friday and Saturday and will drive the RV to Durango, so that we can spend more time together.  After that, I probably won't see them again until Christmas.


Friday, June 15, 2012

RV Water Pump

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the loudest.....

How loud is your water pump?


I am very sensitive to noise and the sound of the water pump drives me crazy.  Luckily, I don't have to use it often, I usually am hooked up to an outside water source.


In April, I went to Camping World to have some regular maintenance done on the coach, I asked them to check out the water pump.  They said it sounds fine, that the sound is normal.


Is there any way to lessen the noise it makes?


I saw some hoses at Camping World (also available @ Amazon.com) that are supposed to reduce the noise.


SHURflo 94-591-01 Pump Silencing Kit

by SHURflo

Price:$22.01 Eligible for free shipping with Amazon Prime.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.



I'm not even sure where the connections are hidden.


There are a few things that keep me from boondocking and this is one of them.


Just curious about your thoughts on this.


Thanks for any comments or suggestions.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Path


Cook County, Illinois    LRSH Forest Path     copyrighted photo by JGS 2008

Difficulties are, in fact, the path itself.
They are our opportunity to
  wake up out of our little protected world
     they're our opportunity
       to awaken into a more genuine way of living.


>     >     >     >     >

A critical step is
 "welcoming our distress"
   as long as we continue to resist our experience
     we will stay stuck.

<     <     <     <     <

What is going on right now?
Can I welcome this as my path?
What is my most believed thought?
What is this?
Can I let this experience just be?


*     *     *     *     *





Monday, June 11, 2012

Mancos State Park

Friday June 8, 2012

Friday morning I drove to the town of Mancos, CO - about 9 miles away.  I stopped at Zuma's Natural Foods and picked up some items for a picnic lunch. I walked around town stopping at the Visitors Center, Absolute Bakery (for some gluten free hiker/biker bars-very good) and then to the Library.  I was able to use the libraries internet for free.


The Visitors Center has maps of the Historic Downtown Walking Trail which takes you past 20 buildings built between 1890 and 1913.


The town of Mancos was incorporated in 1894. In 1904, a water system and electric lights were installed and telephone service had begun. In 1905 a new bridge was built across the river.

I was parked at the city park, with no shade, and it was starting to get warmer.  Time to head for the hills and some shade trees.


I drove up to Mancos State Park almost 5 miles North of town. You drive about 1 1/4 miles uphill on a paved road and then the road levels off and becomes a dirt/gravel road for about 3 miles. All of the roads in the park are gravel. I purchased an annual Colorado State Parks Pass. The day use rate is $7 per day, and an annual pass is $70.  I do not need to camp overnight here because it is so close to where I am living.  The camp sites are $16 and have no-hookups. When you pay for a campsite, you also have to pay the day-use fee - so each night of camping is $23.00.


The camp host, manning the pay station, is a full-timer from Delaware. He and his wife have been on the road about 3 years. They do not get full hook-ups at this park.


Day-use area




Jackson Gulch Reservoir is the centerpiece of the park.


I parked the RV alongside the road at a high point (7837') in the park. Although the temps were in the 80's there was a nice constant breeze that kept the RV cool enough for my cat.  I did not have to worry about running the generator or turning on the A/C. 

There were a few walk-in tent sites behind the RV
I did not see anyone camped there today.


LaPlata Mountains in the background


I sat at the day-use area in the West Campground area to read and have my picnic lunch. I did not walk any of the hiking trails shown on the park map but I did walk along the shore of the lake before and after lunch.


This would be a good place to ride my mountain bike when I get it.


I'll have to decide if I want to get a CO fishing license, most of the people in the park were fishing. I know fishing is supposed to be a relaxing sport, but I may be too lazy to set up the pole and stuff and then what do I do with the fish if I catch it. 


I left the park shortly after 4pm, figuring that all of the weekend campers would soon be arriving.


I plan on making some more day trips to this park and to some other Colorado State Parks - the other parks are further away.  I may decide to camp overnight at some of the other parks.



Saturday, June 9, 2012

Free Temporary Solution




I was never happy to be paying big bucks to have instant access to the internet, but I thought I needed it, so I paid for it.


I purchased the Sprint mobile hotspot in April 2011, the monthly fee is $69.99 per month plus taxes. When I was having problems with the device getting hot and not holding a charge, Sprint's solution was to add $7.00 a month to the plan for a service contract, and they would replace the battery or unit anytime I wanted for free....well, not really free. 


I arrived here at Mesa Verde on April 11th, 3 days later, Sprint sent me a text and email - I had used up all of the alloted roaming for the month.  They shut off the roaming so I would not have to pay overage charges and would turn it back on at the beginning of my next billing cycle. 


I tried to use the Aramark employee internet with no luck. Being impatient, I called Sprint and told them to turn on the hotspot for my iPhone, the charge is $29.99 a month and WAS unlimited (including unlimited roaming). Less than 2 months later, I am being told that roaming will not be unlimited. 


So, I was spending over $100 month for internet, I did not cancel the hotspot because I had a 2 year contract, and figured I would NEED it in October when I leave this job.


I told myself it was ok to pay that much, because I don't have a satellite dish, I don't own a TV and I don't purchase DVD's of music or movies, so this is the only "entertainment" expense I have. 


I will be looking for plans without a contract from now on.


Anyway,  Good News.


I worked this morning because my manager needed the day off. The big boss was working today, he said they updated the employee internet service.  They installed a 2nd antenna - and its close to my RV. I was also given permission to use the internet in the office...off the clock, of course and I can't sit in there all night long...but that's ok.





I am using the Aramark employee internet right now and it's just as good as what I was paying for.  I'm sure there will be times that it will be slow or will not work, but I am willing to work around that....to be free of contracts and bad service from the big corporations selling internet service.
                                                         picture shows distance from my RV
                                                         to the new internet antenna on top 
                                                         of a small outbuilding


I will cancel all of the internet I am paying for and use the money to buy a mountain bike, I want to ride around here and need something better than my 'beach cruiser' bike.


Being outside, hiking and biking, is more important to me than the internet.


I may find another internet provider at the end of October when I leave here, or I will continue to use "free wi-fi" when and where it is available.


I will keep my iPhone, I have many more phone minutes than I will ever need. And the 3g service works fine to check emails, directions, etc. when I am in a Sprint service area.  I may switch to AT&T or Verizon in November, or I may wait another year when my contract expires. It all depends on how this "free wi-fi" suits me - or if I will feel the need for instant access once again.


No more chains.... no more paying big bucks for bad service.


Ha ha ha.... the song "Chain of Fools" just came up on Pandora Internet Radio as I was typing this last sentence. 




-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------


My rant about Sprint cancelling unlimited has had the most views of any of my blog posts.  People searching for ways to get out of their Sprint contracts without a penalty found my post. 





Thursday, June 7, 2012

Do I NEED it?

Thanks for all of your comments and suggestions.


I mailed my letter to the CEO of Sprint on Wednesday morning and will not make any changes until I hear back from them or until June 24th, when the coverage changes.


I signed up for an Unlimited Plan including Unlimited Roaming with Sprint. I have asked them to allow me to keep that plan for the duration of the 2 year contract.


I have asked them to "offer" me a new plan at the end of my contract. Not to force changes on me.


Maybe, I want too much.  Maybe I use the internet too much.  Am I addicted to the internet?


Do I need to walk away and turn off the computer, and go back to reading books. Or do some sewing or some other hobbies.


I am not going to allow these companies to change the way I travel, I will figure out a way to work around it - without paying anymore per month than I am already.  I have decided that I will change my internet usage habits rather than change when and where I travel.  I am not going to avoid areas that have poor or non-existent internet or cell service.  There are many RV bloggers that only use "free" internet - at McDonald's or in a hotel parking lot or a Visitors Centers, etc. Maybe I will do that.


I am hoping to spend a year or more in Alaska, I will check into what types of cell and internet services are available there. This will be a major deciding factor in what service I decide to go with.


I traveled with a small, very old flip phone until I purchased the iPhone in December 2011. In April 2011, I purchased Sprints hotspot, 2 days before I left to pick up my RV in Florida.


As a solo woman traveler, I feel I need to be connected to the rest of the world.  I want a service that will allow me to call someone, correspond with others online, check directions, find a place to stay, find a repair service, if necessary, etc. I have even considered having "OnStar" installed on the RV, for emergency phone service only, so this will not solve the internet issues. I am really thinking about adding "OnStar" and since this has a monthly service fee, I can cut back on my internet plan and still not spend more per month. I want the security of knowing I can contact someone, if I need to - this is more important to me than having instant access to the internet.


I have considered a "satellite" phone.  I have looked into a satellite dish for internet service, only. I do not own a TV, I do not download TV shows or movies with the internet. That is not what I am using the hotspot for.


If I get a satellite system, it will have to be one of those "domes" mounted on top of the RV, I don't have the patience for setting up tripods and wires and all of that stuff. If I had to do that, I would never take the dish out of storage (and I don't have anywhere to store it in a 24' motor home with no tow vehicle).


I thought the iPhone would be my solution to staying connected.  When I am traveling, it is easy to use the iPhone when I pull into a parking lot or a scenic pull-out to look for directions to a campground, grocery store, gas station, etc, rather than setting up the laptop.  I do not have a co-pilot sitting next to me, who is using a laptop and reading directions, etc. for me.


I rarely use the "phone" part of the plan I have. I usually "text" (currently unlimited). I don't use anywhere near the allowable number of phone minutes on my plan.


My entire argument with Sprint is with the internet service, with what they call "data" service - since I have an iPhone - the data service kicks in whenever I check the weather, check for emails, or use an "app".


The email they sent states that, when not using it, I should turn off all data services and turn off the phone or it will continue to count towards the amount of data that I am allowed per month.


The problem is that the cell phone companies promise you anything and everything and then don't deliver.


Or, they change the plan - whenever they want.  I know there is fine print on the contracts, but I don't feel they should be able to change things whenever they want - and hold me to a 2 year contract. I did not want to deal with 2 different companies, as long as Sprint was offering "unlimited" roaming, I stayed with them.  I could have purchased my iPhone through AT&T or Verizon and waited for the contracts on my other phones and devices to run out, then switch over. I was hoping things would be simpler keeping it all with one company. I read an interesting article today (see below) about many people switching companies when the data plans are not available to them. 



Maybe I should go with a prepaid plan, Sprint states these are better for data users.


June 5, 2012, 12:38 p.m. EDT

Sprint's Virgin Mobile USA to offer iPhone

By Thomas Gryta
Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE:S) is set to become the second U.S. mobile phone service to offer the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone without a wireless contract.
The Overland Park, Kan., carrier will announce this week it will offer the popular smartphone on its Virgin Mobile pay-as-you-go brand starting as soon as July 1, according to people familiar with the company's plans. Sprint follows Leap Wireless International Inc. (NASDAQ:LEAP) in selling the device with prepaid service.
By offering the iPhone, Sprint may help satisfy its commitment to Apple to buy $15.5 billion of the phones over four years, an aggressive bet as more carriers are getting access to the once-exclusive device. Sprint's prepaid service, which also includes the Boost Mobile brand, has been its lone area of growth as contract customers have fled.
Sprint added 489,000 prepaying customers in the first quarter, though it lost 192,000 contract customers, which are considered more profitable. It began offering the iPhone on its Sprint brand in October, and has sold 3.3 million of the device over the past two quarters.
Pricing for the Virgin Mobile iPhone couldn't be learned, and it wasn't clear whether Boost would ultimately carry the device.
An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. The availability of the prepaid iPhone allows Sprint to sell the device to a new demographic. Aside from having no contract, there are no also credit checks for customers.
The addition of the iPhone to Virgin Mobile also leaves Deutsche Telekom AG's (NYSE:DTE) T-Mobile USA at a greater disadvantage. It is the last of the largest carriers without the device, which Chief Executive Philipp Humm has said is a major reason it lost 1.7 million contract customers last year.
Notably, the prepaid iPhone from Virgin would be more widely available than Leap's Cricket brand because Cricket is only in smaller markets. Although Cricket users can use their iPhone anywhere, it can only be purchased if they live within its network that covers about 60 million people, or 20% of the U.S. population.
Sprint's network, used by Virgin, claims to cover about 278 million people or almost the entire country.
Leap will begin selling the phone on June 22 and charge $499.99 for a 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S and $399.99 for the older 8-gigabyte iPhone 4. Those prices are about $300 more than those sold by the major carriers, but $150 less than what Apple charges for an unlocked 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S.
Sprint already offers various models of the iPhone at the same prices as the other major carriers when customers sign a two-year contract. That includes an 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 at $99.99 and a 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S for $199.99.
In order to carry the phone, Leap struck a three-year deal with Apple under which it agreed to spend $900 million in volume purchases.
Virgin Mobile USA has prepaid plans that begin at $35 a month and offer unlimited data, although speeds will be throttled after the user consumes 2.5 gigabytes a month. It is unclear if the iPhone will be allowed to work on the current plans.
In comparison, Leap is charging $55 for unlimited talk, text and data, which a similar limit on full-speed data, while plans with other wireless carriers are frequently $100 or more, and users are locked into two-year contracts.
Sprint says its Virgin brand is directed toward "subscribers who are device and data-oriented." Sprint acquired Virgin Mobile USA in 2009 for about $480 million. 




Monday, June 4, 2012

Sprint cancels "unlimited"

WARNING:  don't buy anything from Sprint


I have had a Sprint cell phone account for many years, at least 10 years or more.  I am considered a "preferred" customer.  I have 4 phones and a mobile hotspot on my plan.


I was notified today, that at the beginning of my next billing cycle, they would no longer offer unlimited data.


I purchased an iPhone less than 6 months ago. I purchased it because of the unlimited service.


They advertised on TV and the radio that they had the only "true" unlimited iPhone data service plan.


The location I am living/working is "roaming" with Sprint, all of my internet and data services have been unlimited on the iPhone.  I have not been using the Sierra Wireless Hotspot because the data plan on that is not unlimited when roaming.  I used up the roaming allowance on that unit after 3 days at Mesa Verde.


Currently my roaming is unlimited, soon they will limit my roaming to 307,000 kb and I will get 5g in the Sprint service areas. 5g is more than enough if I am not "roaming".


I checked my account today, from May 25th to today, I have used 1,233,970 kb while roaming.  I do not want to pay extra $$ per kb.


I don't know when I will be in the Sprint service area again, I am contracted to work here until October 26th.  I plan to work at other National Parks or to volunteer at Wildlife Refuges.  I don't think Sprint will have any service in these areas.  


My main problem with this is that they are limited the "roaming", its not my fault they have not added more towers or whatever.


Let them change contracts for new service or new customers, I should be allowed to keep my current service as long as I have a contract with them.  They can change their end of the contract but I can't change it on my end.  Totally UNFAIR!!!


I called customer service today and the first person I talked to looked at my account and said its unlimited. I told her I know its unlimited today - but what about after June 24th - she was not aware of the new policy.


I asked to be transferred, the Supervisor told me I could send my iPhone back to them and they would cancel everything without a penalty to my contract, since I am now living outside of their service area. I have to fax her proof that I am living here - guess I need a "note from my mommy" to prove that I am here.


I laughed at her, I said you want me to send you the iPhone that I paid for, it was not a "free" promotional phone.


I have just composed a letter to the CEO of Sprint, I will wait and see if I get a response before my next billing cycle, which starts on June 24th. 


I have to replace my wireless hotspot, I am sending it back to get out of that contract. I have never  been happy with that piece of garbage.  That is why I started using the iPhone as a "hotspot".


Any and all information about what you are using for internet will be appreciated.


AT&T is supposed to work here. I can probably switch my iPhone to AT&T or keep my cell phone and just buy one of those "mi-fi" things to replace the one I am returning.







Saturday, June 2, 2012

River Fest

I was invited to tag along with Janice and Janice today, to the


"The Dolores River Festival is a community celebration of the Dolores River and the many ways it connects us to each other, to the environment and its resources." 

The town of Dolores is confined to a narrow valley bottom, along the Dolores River, near the point where the river turns from flowing southward out of the San Juan Mountains.

This is a one-day festival that is open from 10am to sundown.  It is geared towards family activities with a special children's area. The festival is dog friendly and there were many dogs, large and small, all leashed and well behaved. 

The festival had planned free river rafting, but the water was too shallow for rafts, although kayaking and tubing were allowed.

There was free music on stage all day , a costumed river parade, and typical festival food booths.



We staked out a spot on the grass with our blankets and chairs and then walked around all of the booths and picked up a free water bottle, free notepads, brochures, flower seeds, etc. from various organizations. There were some nice displays of handcrafted jewelry and other arts and crafts for sale. We played a few ring toss games to win small trinkets and water bottles. I bought raffle tickets for a quilt and for a mountain bike. The bike will not be raffled off until August 11th (my daughters birthday).




We had to take a walk down to the shore of the river, to walk in the cold water and cool off. It was a hot, sunny day and we were happy when the clouds blocked the sun for awhile. We had set up a small beach umbrella, but we really needed a sun shade like many of the other people had set up.

We left the festival around 5:30 and stopped at the Dolores River Brewery for pizza and salad. On the way back "home" we just had to stop at the Dairy Queen in Cortez, CO for an ice cream cone, as a finale to a great day.






Overnight stays in these states:

Overnight stays in these states:
It is the sandstorm that shape the stone statues of the Desert. It is the struggles of Life that form a person's character ~ Native American Proverb