November 1, 2021
November began with a slightly cooler and more bearable daytime temperature, however, with some clouds but they produced no precipitation.
Doug cleaned out the bed of our truck and we got stuff together for the community garage sale here in the RV Park this coming weekend. We don’t have a lot to sell but it did force us to go through things and see what we no longer need.
Sidebar: When we left Canada we bought and Doug hid away, some of our favourite potato chips – they don’t sell the Old Dutch brand here in the US. Well, last week we decided to treat ourselves and discovered we must have had a mouse come into the compartment under the bathroom sink where the chips were hidden as most of Doug’s cheezies were eaten and 3 bags of potato chips had holes in them of about an inch each; seems mice don’t like sour cream and onion or salt and vinegar flavour as it seemed they had not been eaten!
Tuesday morning, we decided to check out other RV parks in Vegas to see if we could get something a bit nicer, with working Wi-Fi AND a hot tub. Well it seems we should have done this earlier as nowhere had availability but two said call back on Sunday/Monday. We are only paying $105 a week here with non–working Wi-Fi and no hot tub and the closest price to that with those two things is a KOA campground at $640 a month IF we can get one of their smaller sites which seems like a slim chance. Seeing as we’re flying out of Vegas to Reno at the end of this month and then to Canada at the end of next month, it does not seem worthwhile to move too far away.
Wednesday, Doug did his marathon walk and on Thursday we went to the Strip to get Fat Tuesday’s at the Strat. We sat afterwards at the slots and at the third one, we stayed for quite a while as it was producing some wins, we had a waitress that came back and we had a lot of fun. We decided that since today’s we’d “cheated” with Fat Tuesdays, we’d go out for burgers to the good place we’d found last spring (Bar Code); it was yummy and we ate too much!
The weather has been awesome these past few days – mid 20’s C / around 80F and cool at night for sleeping. This is the way we like it and it’s still only November! Can it keep up in the same range till Christmas?
We have received our new vehicle titles in the mail (changed them for estate planning purposes) but still no US passports! Online they now say 8-11 weeks to process where as a few weeks ago they said 14 weeks but it has already been 11 weeks since they received them. The good news was when we got our mail today, there were no rejected passport applications so they must still be in the system.
We set up for the community garage sale for about two hours on both Friday and Saturday (skipped Sunday) and made a few bucks which we put in our “gambling kitty”. Also this weekend they finally did something about the Wi-Fi but didn’t give out the password! Fran went to the office and they couldn’t find where it was written down but the girl felt it was a combination of two words which Fran tried in multiple configurations with no luck. She called the office but got voice mail. On Saturday Doug stopped by the office on his way back from his walk, got the correct password which was two words AND numbers and one of the words Fran had been given the day before was wrong. But we still couldn’t connect – so very annoying. It did begin working on Sunday.
We are seriously looking at RV’s in Europe for January – time to get moving and we’ll have had our COVID booster shot before Christmas. We will store the truck and trailer and begin overlanding again. It’s not a simple task to buy an RV in Europe when you do not have residency but there are a few ways around/through that and it seems France and the Netherlands have some work arounds, so we’re investigating.
Sunday afternoon just for giggles, Fran tried the passport website to see if there was any update; it was approved and should be in our mailbox by November 14th! Hurray – but then in the middle of the night she realized she’d not checked Doug’s so on Monday morning we looked and the website had “technical difficulties”! Two hours later we looked again, and it too, was approved.
Later in the morning we called one of the RV parks we’d investigated last week who said they might have an opening today; they did but the thing is now that the Wi-Fi is working here, the cost is about the same there (with no Wi-Fi), the location is not that much better although they did have a small hot tub; maybe if it was as big as that one we had at the campground back in Yuma last year, it would be worth the move, but we decided to stay put.
So we have about six weeks left here – still working out what to do and where to go: Mexico for the winter or buy a rig in Europe and begin overlanding there. a big issue with Europe is winter – so we’d buy the rig and head south to Portugal and Spain and maybe Morocco, for sure. We’d put the truck and trailer in storage before we go to Canada. Questions arise in this regard too: is it worth storing it and how much weather damage can we expect or do we sell it before leaving? We began calling around in Pahrump (which we learned was so much cheaper last year when we stored Tigger) to see what’s available and the same place we used for Tigger last year has spaces.
The early part of this week was pretty uneventful; Thursday we decided to hit the Strip like last week but this time explored a different section. But first, this being our “cheat day”, we went for lunch at Rallys/Checkers. We both absolutely think that the French fries at Five Guys are the best. Doug had just read that Checkers rivals these so we had to try. We got free large fries sending a text and then shared a burger and a milkshake. The latter was the best part, the fries were good but we still think Five Guys are better – the burger was reminiscent of typical fast food so we’d say pass on that.
We parked for free at the Tropicana (free parking on the Strip is getting harder to find these days) and went inside to play a few slots before heading over to the MGM to get our Fat Tuesday cups filled – still no mudslide flavour! ;-(
The MGM had no interesting slots for us so we made our way to the New York New York to make our way to The Park.
This is a relatively newly renovated area between the NYNY and the Park MGM – it’s kinda a laneway down to the TMobile Arena. It has lots of food options and is nicely done.
We had never been inside the Park MGM and weren’t sure what was in there but the entrance is nicely done with a food market/court offering only Italian cuisine in many forms like the Granville Island Market in Vancouver. The casino here also was too rich for our blood. Here and at the Cosmopolitan next door, they cater to Asian tourists with lots of Chinese themed slots that start at 88 cents a credit.
So on to the Cosmo we went to try and see the “Lucky Cat” Doug read about and the graffiti in the parking garage; seems neither is present any longer. But their Chandelier Bar was pretty interesting:
So since we were so close now, we walked over to the Bellagio but just missed the 3pm fountains. So we walked inside to try and find the chocolate fountain (we’d seen it before but were not aware it was the world’s largest) but never found it. We did catch the 3:30 fountains but this time, we watched from the other side – a really different perspective.
By this time we figure it’s time to head back in the direction of the truck so we decided to cross the Strip and walk back on the other side. We went into Bally’s and here we found some fun machines that were in our range, had a waitress that came back three times and we spent about 90 minutes – each only putting one dollar in the machine! Fran won over $5 twice and Doug hit some good wins too.
We began to think about dinner and thought maybe we could check out the Mon Ami Gabi outdoor restaurant at the Paris on the way back but it was full with a 40 minute (minimum) wait so we carried on further south. We thought Italian sounded good but that any place on the Strip would be super pricey; Fran got online and found a Groupon for a place on Tropicana that we could stop at on our way “home”.
Well Pasta Mia was a great choice – we had a wonderful starter salad with amazing dressing and then enjoyed some seafood pastas that were to die for! It was not busy, service was excellent and the ambience was perfect. Sorry no food pics!
We got home just before 8 pleasantly full and happy after a nice day out and about.
Note: everyone is still required to wear masks indoors and we tend to find slot machines with few people around us and only take our masks down to sip our drinks and then put them back up. We don’t like sitting near smokers either so that’s a factor too. It was not too crowded earlier in the afternoon but one of the reasons we left when we did was the thickening crowds. Not everyone wears a mask outside but we do when there’s an uncomfortable amount of people nearby.
Friday and Saturday, we gratefully awoke to more sunny warm Vegas days – we decided to check out the Tule Springs Fossil National Monument north of the city.
A dog walkathon had just ended on arrival and as this is a new Parks site, there’s no visitors centre but a couple of rangers were around as the walk was ending. There is a 3.5 mile / 5.5 km walk around the site. While we didn’t see a single fossil, it was a very pleasant walk in the desert away from both traffic and people; we love the remote feeling.
We did come across a small round plant we’d not seen before; it was soft and fuzzy looking:
Afterwards we went to check out the North Las Vegas Flea Market for a while but didn’t find the couple of things we were looking for.
Rest of the weekend was pretty relaxed at home.
Tuesday, we decided we needed a day trip out and made our way northwest of the city to Mount Charleston – we’d been years ago in a busy time of the year up there and never got all the way up due to crowds. It was a 60 km / 40 mi drive up to over 2400 m / 8,000 ft. It was a very nice drive and we were mostly alone on the way there. It’s definitely cooler up here; it was more like our night time temps when we got up here.
The lodge up there appears to have burned down but some of the buildings are still standing and appear to be in operation. There are several homes up there too – must be nice and cool way up here come summer. There is also winter skiing in this area. We stopped at the end of the road to take photos and then made our way down to do a short hike.
We parked at the Robber’s Roost Cave hike parking area and took the short (less than a kilometre) walk up to the cave.
We then took a different route back towards Vegas and it was nice downhill drive. We stopped in the Joshua tree forest to pull over and have a picnic lunch off the truck’s tailgate.
As we wanted to gas up at Costco, we drove into downtown and then afterwards drove over to the Downtown Container Park – we found parking but the darn street machines never worked so instead we just around it. It looks like mostly restaurants and some shops and a large playground and out front is a giant praying mantis (?).
We got home mid-afternoon and chilled in the warm temperatures back at the campground.
Thursday started out very exciting! We have been looking at RV’s for overlanding Europe and had been dealing with two companies: one in Holland and one in France. The latter had the perfect vehicle for us, a little pricier than we’d like but newer and low mileage. We’d been having trouble corresponding with them and by the time we did the one we wanted was “spoken” for but we had a 2nd and choice and the 2nd choice was available so we’ve started the ball a-rolling!
It seems it will not be a quick process and we had hoped to get to Europe by the end of this year but they tell us it could be February before all is finalized. Upon asking to start the process, they asked that we put in a email our intention and they would send us a “purchase order” after that. Done! Now we begin the wait.
As mentioned above, in order to buy a vehicle in Europe you must have an address – makes sense, right? Well you can’t get an address for yourself unless you become a resident. This French company has found a way around that by giving you the opportunity to set up a company and use their address as your company’s address. You use some accountants (which they have contacts with) and they set it up. The other hurdle is that vehicles in Europe that are more than 4 years old need annual safety inspections; this company says they’ll have it done before we get the vehicle and then we are good for two years – that means not having to return to France annually. As we figure we will be two to three years touring, this shouldn’t be too much hassle.
That afternoon we did our weekly trip to the strip to see a few casinos; this time the south end: Excalibur, Luxor and Mandalay Bay – not super exciting and no big wins today.
A couple of years ago, before the warranty on Fran’s laptop ended she has the AC power port replaced as it didn’t always connect up correctly and the battery wouldn’t charge; while it never got to the point where it didn’t work at all, but it took a great deal of fiddling. Well, that appears to be happening once again so in order to get ahead of that, Fran found the part on Amazon and Doug was able to replace it himself. Yeah – her hero!
Friday morning we received an email from Euro Camping Cars and they asked for information to begin the Purchase Order documents. We completed their information request and the ball is rolling a tiny bit faster. Sadly she won’t be back to work until Wednesday so perhaps this is why things go slower although we did note that the purchase order says “vehicle delivery is ‘starting January’”.
We had a quiet weekend at home; we did meet a couple from Switzerland who have been travelling for over 25 years! We chatted a bit and invited them for happy hour but they were a no show twice so we gave up. However we did see a truck and trailer with Ontario plates and invited them for Sunday’s happy hour and Brian & Linda did come over for an hour and a half; it’s too chilly for sitting outside for long at our usual 5pm happy hour so for this one, since we knew it would be a longer one, we all sat indoors – we’re all vaccinated!
Monday we went for our second Shingles vaccine shot; hoping for much less severe side effects this time. Next month we plan to get our COVID booster shots. We also went second hand store shopping trying to get a used suitcase; we want to ship a bunch of stuff over to France for our “European home” and not have to carry it all with us if we have to travel somewhere else before actually going to pick up the rig. After looking and finding nothing “perfect” we’ve decided to go with a box instead of a suitcase.
That night we both slept terribly – darn Shingles vaccine! Fran had a pounding headache Tuesday morning and Doug was quite wiped out. By mid-afternoon, we both felt better although quite tired so we still got side effects but they didn’t last quite as long as the after the first shot.
We both slept well that night and Wednesday was an exciting day – we received confirmation of a few things about our prospective new RV, signed the Purchase Order and wired the deposit. As we want to leave the US after the holidays and can’t go to France yet as the RV won’t be ready for several weeks, we have booked a flight to Nairobi and we’ll tour Kenya for a couple of weeks before going to Uganda to Kitojo which is the location of the school we sponsor and that Doug is heavily involved in.
Thursday afternoon the 24th, (Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends), we took a drive out to Lake Mead Recreation Area to do a hike. Owl Canyon was a wonderful surprise; we’d not heard of it before but we read it is a barn or white owl nesting site in the spring. We did not expect to see any owls (and didn’t) but we were pleasantly surprised by the canyon itself.
A few weeks ago, American Airlines sent us an email advising of changes to our flight times for our trip to Buffalo from Vegas and back (we fly to Buffalo to pick up our Civic to have a car in Toronto). We didn’t like the times they gave us so Fran called and got better times sorted out. Now that we have a flight booked to Africa, we decided it was smarter not to come back to Vegas especially since we are putting our “home” into storage before leaving. Doug booked us flights from Buffalo to New York to catch that overseas flight and then we realized: “maybe we can change our return flight to Vegas into a flight to New York”. Well Fran called and after a few attempts (being cut off a few times) we got it down at NO cost to us – no change fee, no change in fares fee or anything! So we will stay in Canada until January 3rd, drive back to Buffalo, drop off the car and fly to New York and on to Nairobi on the 4th. As Doug had only booked the Delta flights that morning, we were in the 24 hour cancellation window so it all worked out for the best.
We have spent some time the past couple of days sorting through things; what we want to come to EU with us, what we want to take to Kitojo, what has to come to Canada and what stays in the trailer.
Friday morning Doug sorted out the wire transfer of the deposit to France for our “2nd home on wheels”. He had requested it on Wednesday but it seems for wire transfer of another currency they call you to confirm the request (?) and then discuss the rate. He got an email late that day about this need to confirm and since it was already after 4pm it was too late for having it done that day and since Thursday is Thanksgiving they called us this morning to get it done.
Saturday we caught an early morning flight to Reno to spend a few day with Serena and Kurt and do a late Thanksgiving dinner. Kurt left their Jeep for us in the airport parkade (he works at a private hangar nearby) and we drove to their apartment for the morning and then picked him up when he quit at 1pm (he starts at 5am!). He took us a little tour of the private hangars he works and then we took him home for an afternoon. We have plans this evening and he has to work tomorrow so that’s probably a good idea.
Our “grand dog”: Heidi
After Serena got home from work, they came and picked us up and we went into the city to the West Street Market to meet our overlanding friend, KP and his wife Daniela with the intention that Serena and Kurt could make some local friends. We shared a few beers and some pizza and spent a couple of hours chatting.
Sunday morning before going to meet Serena, Fran saw online that our RV has been marked SOLD on their website so it’s becoming even more real We then went thanksgiving dinner grocery shopping with Serena and later took Heidi for a long walk. When Kurt got home from work we had a short Skype call with Josh and the kids and then Serena and Fran began getting dinner ready while Kurt caught a nap (he’d had to do some overtime before his 5am shift today, so he was wiped).
Despite some limited kitchen equipment we managed to make a dinner of: mashed potatoes, sugary carrots, green bean casserole, gravy, stuff and insta pot turkey and topped it off with an apple pie!
Even Heidi got a plate:
The weather here in Reno has been sunny but cooler than Vegas as it’s at a much higher elevation 1300 m / 4400’ vs 550 m / 1800’. It dropped to freezing at night but into the teens C / low 50’s F during the day. A little too cold for us but at least it’s not snowing!
Monday we checked out of our hotel and spent the morning with Serena at the Grand Sierra Resort to do a little gambling at the slots and then Kurt joined us after work for some Fat Tuesdays – and to our delight they had our fave flavour: the mudslide – so good!
Serena took us to the airport for 3:30 and we had an uneventful flight back to our RV park. It’s much warmer here and we were glad to be back in our own beds. It was so nice to spend a few days with Serena and Kurt and we miss them already though.
Tuesday morning, we called the French accountants as we had not heard anything from them in response to our email with documentation sent about ten days ago. We had to call back to speak to an English speaking person but manage to communicate our issue; they gave us a different email to send the information to and said they’d get back to us ASAP – mmmhh we’ll believe that when we experience it – guess that the young lady at the motorhome company was right: things in France do no move quickly.
So we continue to chip away at the to do list of things to do before leaving the country. Today’s task was getting International Driving Permits. This you can do at any AAA in the US; costs $20 and you need two passport sized photos (which we just happen to have!). The whole process took about a half hour and they are good for a year. You can apply by mail to get the following years each year; not a perfect situation but we can make it work.
Well the weather is nothing to complain about at all considering it’s November 30th – today hit the mid to upper 20’s C / low 80’sF with clear skies. We are supposed to get similar weather for a few more days then more seasonal (low 20’s C / low 70’s F) but we don’t mind that either.