Mission, TX, Leisure Valley Ranch, Lot 159 — 15 days
Saturday, November 15, 2008 — Fulltimers 1 Year & 6 Months
Sunday, November 9. We go to Progresso, Mexico
We had no plan for today and we figured we’d hang out with the Cranes and see what they need to do to get their Casita started. However in the morning Tom dropped by in his golf cart and asked if we’d like to go to Mexico. Mexico! — Well, why not? We changed clothes and quickly got ready to go. It was very overcast and looked like rain but it was not cold at all. They came back in their Dodge super cab truck and picked us up. To my surprise, Theresa was driving and the guys rode in the back seat. It turns out that Theresa belongs to the Teamsters in Fairbanks and is a professional truck driver. She drives their motor home and like Dennis, she is the one who always drives when they go out together.
We had a really fun day. Theresa understood that I like to window shop so first we stopped at Ganji, a shop near the border but on the US side that has unusual household goods and clothes. There were some very nice modern styles and it was fun to look around this shop. Then we came to the border and parked in the US. We walked across the bridge to the town of Progresso. It is safe and Americanized and preferred by people in this area — just as Algodones is popular near Yuma, AZ.
We walked around a bit and then went up to a third floor restaurant. It was pleasant with good service and good food. It actually rained while we were there so our timing was good. After lunch we window-shopped and Tom bought some drugs for a relative. (People talk about being in the “donut hole” with insurance. That’s when they shop for their prescription drugs in Mexico.)
As Thersa pulled into our driveway, we ran into Betty and Jay so they were introduced. A big group from Leisure Valley Ranch plans to go to a performance next Sunday. We invited Tom and Theresa and they will join us. The concert is well known and has a popular reputation. Produced by La Joya High School it features, Mariachi “Los Coyotes”, Grupo “Folklorico Tabasco” and Conjunto “Los Diamantes.” We are told that they train for years and the Folklorico dancers are excellent. Tickets for Sunday at 2:00 pm cost $6.
Monday, November 10, 2008. Tom offers to sell his double corner lot to us.
This morning Tom dropped by and asked if we wanted to see where the nearby post office is located. Why not? We’ve got nothing going. So we hopped in his truck and left. We left the windows open and thought we’d be back shortly. But we weren’t! Tom had a bunch of errands to do and we ended up keeping him company for several hours.
Tom drove west on US-83 and showed us that it soon quits as a freeway and becomes a boulevard. We drove past the little town of Penitas to La Joya. Tom likes the closer and smaller post office in this nearby town. He pointed out a development around a lake in La Joya. Later we saw the Mission Post Office, which is much farther away and he says it is always crowded.
Tom is talking to us about buying one of his lots here in Leisure Valley Ranch. I don’t know why we’re talking to him about it — probably boredom. We liked planning our last house and it is tempting to plan something here. Tom has a double lot on a corner just down the street that we like. I don’t want one of these narrow lots lined up in a row. But a double lot on a corner is tempting to me because it offers space for a garden. No one here puts in more than one or two token plants. There are few gardens although there are many wonderful trees and bushes that grow in this area. Dennis is tempted also. The most tempting thing about this place is: PRICE. It’s cheap. A 1.5 lot down the street is 26K. Tom wants 40K for his corner double lot. He says he thinks he only has 6K into it and he thinks his monthly payments are $400. We would pick up his payments.
If we bought a lot, we would have a more or less centralized place to stow a few things during the year. And it would give us a place to sit and rest for a few of the colder northern months. But mostly, Dennis and I are builders and people who like a project. I like to design and Dennis likes to build. So we’re talking and asking questions and looking at dimensions. The lots are 40’ wide and 75.06’ deep so Tom’s corner lot is almost square: 80’ x 75’. Some build a pad for the RV and a rectangle or an L-shape casita and some leave a small area for a garden. A corner lot lends itself well to incorporating a small amount of landscaping.
The other temptation is a time crunch. This development is almost finished. After it is 95% complete it gets turned over to a homeowners group. It would be easier to get a plan approved by the owner/developer than by a committee. Tom says we can take over his monthly payments. He says we should get a plan approved and pour a concrete pad right away: lock it up. That way we are not at the mercy of a committee a few years down the road. Prices have gone up so I suppose if we want to develop our own design here, it is now or never. Later, if we want to sell we could do that and perhaps make a small profit.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008. Betty and Jay get their casita started.
Betty and Jay are getting ready to start their casita. Their plan is approved and they have Oscar, the local cement guy, lined up to pour the concrete pad tomorrow. Things move quickly here. In Leisure Valley Ranch, ‘tis the season to be building. Everywhere we see equipment scraping off “the organic matter” and then concrete poured and then a framework going up. What is built is classified as a shed, not a home, and you are not allowed to sleep in it — although people put in Murphy beds and do. With simple structures and without the kinds of codes required in places like California, things move fast. Betty and Jay are excited and involved in all the decision details. They are acting as their own contractor so they have to do a lot of research. I haven’t actually had time to visit much with them.
Today we did a few errands but not much else. I did a fast thirty-minute walk yesterday morning. This morning I did thirty minutes of core exercise with the balls and stretch cord. I don’t want to overdo it and then get discouraged so I’m taking it slow.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008. Financial reverses at the masonry.
Tom dropped by and gave us more details on his lot. He has 15K into it so that is what we would have to do for a down payment. And his monthly payments are something like $575 — almost $600 a month. So this would be a stretch for us. It would be nice to do business with Tom because he’s been here six years and he knows all the ins and outs of developing a lot here. He would be helpful and facilitate construction, I’m sure. But it’s a big outlay for us so Dennis said he’d think about it.
No sooner had Tom left than Dennis got a call from Sylvia, who works for Dennis at the masonry. I could tell it was bad news. No money has come in. Once again the masonry is in jeopardy. Some jerk hasn’t paid and jobs aren’t starting because money is tight.
Dennis got very quiet and very depressed. I hugged him but didn’t make him talk too much. What can be said? He will probably need to go home to see what can be done. We are an eight or nine day drive away from home. It is almost 1,900 miles. Fuel costs are down but all in all, it would take about $1,000 or more to drive home. We both noticed that the minute we thought about extending ourselves financially, we got a warning shot across the bow!
We didn’t go out. I published webpage number 60, “Bryce Canyon Mules”. Now I have posted ten new letters since October 24th. I’m making headway. That is better than three per week and that is quite good.
In the evening Tom and Theresa dropped by and we shared our news. We can’t consider buying a lot at this time. And the truth is we were saved from ourselves. We are not so enamored with this place that we would choose to return every winter. There are so many other places to be! For one, I’d like to be nearer to my family during the holidays. What about somewhere near San Diego or somewhere in the desert near Palm Springs?
Thursday, November 13, 2008. Dennis may have to fly to California — wish I could!
This morning we walked the dogs and then we went over to the Crane lot to see what progress there is today. It was overcast and breezy and in the mid-sixties. (Later we reached a high of 77° and a 17 mph NNE wind brought rain.) I left to do my fast walk around Bogey Drive. Betty came by in her car to ask if I wanted to keep her company on a quick errand. We drove to La Joya ISD, the school district where she is registered to be a substitute teacher. I did not mention our financial worries.
Tom and Theresa came by in their golf cart and he put up the mailbox. Theresa came inside the bus to visit for a while. She has a friend in the hospital, Nancy, who will have heart surgery tomorrow. She is worried.
Dennis called Sylvia and got email copies of office reports and the latest financial status. I didn’t ask whether he would have to fly home. I just got busy and used Expedia to look up airline costs. He could fly direct from McAllen to San Jose round trip next Monday for $390. If he must fly home I don’t want it to drag on into Thanksgiving week.
About four, we decided to go out and look for a decent nearby local restaurant. We drove west to La Joya to the post office and turned north on Tom Gill Rd. where we found a substantial building that didn’t look too run down and it had several cars parked by it. So we decided to try El Meson de Poncho Villa. We chose from the Platilloes (plate) menu and had a very adequate meal. The place was large and clean and the waitress spoke English.
After that, we drove to the closest HEB on Abrams Rd. What a mistake to go at 5:00 pm after work. It was rush hour traffic and the store was crowded. It started to rain as we parked and it was raining heavily when we came out but it stopped shortly after that.
We know the shortcut now to return to Leisure Ranch but there is construction and it is pitch black at night with no streetlights on these country roads. Back at the ranch we saw a fair amount of flooding so we drove around the development to see what parts get most flooded. Dennis says Tom got a map and figured out the high ground before he bought a lot. Some areas were very flooded and there are big drains on the streets for run off.
Friday, November 14, 2008. We go out to dinner with Betty and Jay.
We woke to heavy morning fog. It was so thick one wouldn’t want to drive. With this kind of ocean weather, why not live on the ocean? Later it cleared up and the sun came out and it got quite warm with a high of 82°. Winds from the SE reached speeds of 14 mph.
I was late going out to walk and by the time I did it was hot. I decided to take Rudi and make him heel so I could do my fast walk. I put on his halter and used a short leash that I tied to my belt. I took a baggie and some ties. I walked on the left and made him heel on the curb. Without Margot and on a short leash he was very good and just trotted along with no barking. I was able to walk with free hands. When he pooped, I tied the baggie to his halter. There are no pet trash bins anywhere on the Martin Valley Ranch grounds — a pet peeve of mine (pardon the pun). I am going to buy a small stuff bag and tie it to his halter — or buy a saddlebag! I’m tired of holding a poop baggie for an entire half hour walk.
This method worked so well I came back and got Margot. We took a shorter loop and she also did very well. Both dogs seemed to enjoy themselves. Afterwards I drove the Honda around Bogey Dr. loop. It is 1.2 miles and I walk it in about 25 minutes.
I spent the day assembling webpage 61 “Chase Crew 101” about the first day of the Salina Balloon Festival. I arranged it as instructions for a Chase Crew with a complicated arrangement of 77 photos.
In the evening we went out to dinner with Betty and Jay. She asked where we wanted to go and I suggested Carrino’s, an Italian chain that we’ve run across in other cities.
Betty said, “Is it nearby?” I think Betty doesn’t really like to eat out and she doesn’t want to spend a lot of time on going out to dinner.
I said, “Nothing is nearby!”
Jay said reprovingly, “Oh now, Elsa!”
Jay thought I was complaining, but I wasn’t. I was stating a fact. There are no nearby restaurants. You have to drive 12 miles on the freeway and another five miles on boulevards. As we agreed, it depends on your definition of “nearby.” We did go to Carrino’s on Nolana Dr. past 10th St., near the Chinese Buffet where we went with Tom and Theresa. They enjoyed it and liked the appetizer we chose, stuffed mushrooms.
They are tired. They’ve made a lot of calls and errands as their lot has begun development this week. The leveling and forms have been done and the electrical and plumbing. Next Monday the concrete will be poured. They are their own contractors so they are busy making choices on roofing, siding, doors, windows, etc.
I hope our satellite is not giving out. It has a clear shot at the southern sky but we’ve lost reception a few times the past few nights. Maybe it’s the rain and fog? Does it need to be cleaned?
I am in deep doo-doo. When we first got the bus I threw dental floss in the toilet until Dennis noticed and told me to stop — but that was many months later. I stopped before he got the macerator but that is what has clogged and broken the macerator. It is a big mess and could be very expensive to repair or replace! Dummy me.
Last night at 1:45 am, we woke up as a breeze came through out open bedroom windows. From the NNW, within fifteen minutes this breeze turned full force with a maximum wind speed of 32 mph and gusts up to 44 mph. Rain spattered sideways through the window. I closed the window and this sudden storm lasted less than an hour. It was like a squall that passed quickly through our area. These desert locations! You never know what will happen.
Saturday, November 15, 2008. I fall and end up in emergency.
It was foggy this morning with a low of 47°. However by nine o’clock the sun was out but it was only 60° and the wind came back. It reminded me of Cherokee Springs.
Today turned out to be a bit of a disaster. I fell and ended up spending the morning in emergency.
Betty called in the morning and told us they are getting the lot ready to pour on Monday. She told us to come over and see all the activity. Dennis took Margot and left before me. Fortunately it was chilly so I decided to wear jeans and a jacket and my jogging shoes — so had some padding on me. I took Rudi and walked to the lot where the Crane’s are staying. A group was standing at the end of their RV lot watching the work on the Crane’s lot. Rudi was straining at the end of his extended leash to pull ahead to catch up with Margot who was barking and pulling on Dennis to meet Rudi.
I was looking ahead at the dogs and the group. Because of the commotion caused by the dogs barking, they were turned to look at me. All these lots have a concrete driveway and a 3” raised concrete pad that marks the end of the driveway and the beginning of a casita — whenever it will be built. They are very dangerous as it is easy not to notice them. We have the same thing on our lot and I have almost stumbled several times walking over it either up or down. This time I didn’t see it so I stumbled and did a belly flop forward with my arms stretched out. Because I was walking quickly and Rudi was pulling me, I fell fast and hard with no time to catch myself. I took the blow primarily on my right knee and on my chin.
Betty ran to me and grabbed the dog leash. Dennis ran to help me sit up. I didn’t cry but I knew I was injured because my jaw felt funny where it attaches under the ears. It felt like my jaw had been shoved up and toward my left ear. My knee hurt and my chin hurt but what worried me was that I had somehow dislocated my jaw. My ears and neck hurt. Betty put me in her car and drove me back to the bus. Dennis brought the dogs. We agreed that I needed to see a doctor and get x-rays.
Where to go? I took an Ibuprofen and we spent half an hour in investigation. Betty wanted me to go to a nearby clinic that she knew about. I called Tom and he thought I could go to a doctor with an office at the end of the Western Rd. next to the Parker Ranch office. I looked on the Internet. Betty’s clinic and Tom’s doctor were not open and the clinic did not have emergency care. I chose the hospital where Tom and Theresa have been visiting their friend. I called the Rio Grande Regional Hospital and the operator put me through to emergency, that told me to call 911. We didn’t want to do that so I got the address and we left in the car. It was easy to find and it only took us twenty minutes to get there.
I took a book and my notebook and I was prepared for a long wait in the emergency room. I was remembering a long wait at Stanford years ago. But we were surprised. They sat me down immediately, took my vitals and got the facts. We sat down in the waiting room and I was called within five minutes. We spent a few hours in a cubicle with chairs, a gurney and curtains. They put me in a gown and I was shivering so they put warm blankets around me while they got my history and my insurance.
Here’s a tip that we’ve learned and that everyone should take time to do. We have all our history typed on a form with a list of prescription medications and our doctors, etc. (We use a Meditag Personal Information Form.) When they come to take a history I give them the form with my information and they take it away to do their data entry. It’s easy!
Eventually, an Indian (India) doctor came in. He was the cold techie type who wasted no words and spent less than one minute with me. He looked disapproving but ordered x-rays. Eventually I was wheeled on the gurney to an elevator and up to x-ray where they took photos of my knee, neck and my “mandible” (jaw). Back down in our cubicle we waited until the doctor returned who used ten seconds to say I had nothing broken. I have “contusions” and a sprained knee. I could go home. I felt like the little old lady who makes a big fuss about nothing. But how was I to know? My jaw hurt badly and I had to be sure nothing was out of place.
We were at the hospital for about an hour and a half. It was after one o’clock by the time we left and I was ready for food. The sun was out and it was a beautiful sunny day with a high of 72°. We drove to nearby I-HOP where I chose a minimal chewing breakfast of eggs and pancakes. I was very hungry. At that time I took a Tylenol. Because of liver disease I use Tylenol very sparingly and I can’t take any other drugs for pain. We came home and I lay down and soon fell asleep. When I woke I finally looked in the mirror and saw a very noticeable red abrasion on the tip of my chin followed by a black bruise under my chin and on my neck. It looks ghastly. My knee is covered with a big bruise. Although I hit my chin and my chin hurts, the major discomfort is around my ears. My ears are clogged up as if I were on an airplane. My jaw and neck ache.
Tomorrow we plan to go to the Folklorico performance so I hope I feel better by then. I certainly will look awful….