Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mexico and Meds

Both Ron and I take a blood pressure medication daily, and Ron also takes Metformin for diabetes.  While these are inexpensive drugs and have generics available, the cost of the medicine is a minor detail.  The big cost is having to go to the doctor once a year just to get the prescription renewed.  That seems a bit insane since years ago, the doctor (several doctors ago) said we needed to take the blood pressure meds for the rest of our lives.  More recently, Ron was told the same thing about Metformin.  Even with Medicare, the doctor appointment costs $250 each every year and we get about 5 minutes of the doctor's time while he signs his name to a new prescription.  

Since we were going to be within a few miles of Nogales, Mexico on our way home, we stayed the night at the Holiday Inn Express in Nogales, Arizona.  It was 90 degrees when we went to bed, but about 40 when we got up early to cross into Mexico to get our medicine.
The sun was up, but the many pharmacies and other vendors were still closed at 7:45 a.m.  We found a patch of sunshine and waited for stores to open.
After the landslide in Oso a few years back, all slopes look dangerous to me - I definitely wouldn't want to live either in the house on the top of the one at the bottom of this hill!
While waiting in the long line of people waiting to enter the US, we noticed a bunch of people ignored the line and went to the front.  The authorities let about 40 people in at a time to stand in another line to have ID checked and to declare anything they were bringing into the US.  I asked the lady in front of me about the line crowders, and she said that if you're over 60, you can go to the head of the line. Nice to know!
We bought about $30 worth of medicine - a year's worth for both of us, and declared it when it was our turn to be checked out.  We were passed through without comment, and back on the road for home by about 8:30 a.m.
Looks like Mexico?  Actually, it's Quartsite, AZ, where all the cars arriving from California on fumes stop to fill up on cheap gas.  Likewise, all the vehicles heading into California stop for one last cheap gas fill up.  It has developed into quite a haven for retired entrepreneurs who have something to sell who congregate there for the winter.  RV's in a variety of shapes and sizes cover all the flat empty space for a long ways along I-10 just into Arizona.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Shield's Date Farm

On our latest cross country trek, my sister, Mona, suggested we stop to visit the date farm in Indio.  Around noon, as we neared Indio, where we planned to stay the night, I googled "date farm Indio" and immediately found their site:  Shield's Date Garden  I plugged the address into our GPS (isn't technology wonderful?) and we arrived just as their cafe closed at 2:30 p.m.  So we weren't able to get lunch, but we did get one of their famous date milkshakes.

Even though the cafe was closed, the gift shop was teeming with customers, and they had a counter we got the milkshake (which was delicious!)  
 The weather was ideal for outdoor eating.  Sunny and high 80's but cooler and nice in the shade.
One of the many biblical statues that are dispersed throughout the garden depicting most of the parables of the New Testament.
The gardens are beautiful with wide stone paths through a grove of date and citrus trees, and other tropical vegetation.  A lot of the plants are marked with names and species, which I always find interesting.
They show the "sex life of the date tree" at a movie, but we skipped that and just wandered through the gardens while we enjoyed our milkshake.  Definitely a nice rest stop on a long trip!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Trucks and Traffic

Every time we make the trip from our home in Washington State to our home in Georgia, we swear that we are going to "take it easy" and do a leisurely 3,000+ mile trip (is that even possible?)  Then we set out to do a quicker trip than the last grueling trip.  So we woke up early (like 2 a.m. early) for our latest trip South.  So when we came into Los Angeles around 8 p.m., we realized we could get through LA when there wasn't much traffic.  It was basically us and the trucks as we headed over the Grapevine into LA. We were happy the next day we had made the effort to bypass traffic, but it was a tough day!  Here are some comments on sharing the road with trucks:

  1. It seems like there are more trucks on the road.  Like LOTS more.  But I count everything (a sign of mental illness I hear) and I've been counting trucks per mile for years.  I start at a mile marker counting how many trucks are coming toward us between that marker and the next one. After 10 or 15 miles, I can extrapolate an average of trucks on the road (a very unscientific poll). In past years, on the open road in Texas on I-10 or I-20, 10 was about average.  This year's count was around 6 or 7.  However, in the cities, there are definitely more trucks at all times of the day (and night).
  2. When it's raining, the weather is a LOT worse when you pass a truck. Ditto for snow!  There is usually more water coming up off the road than that coming down from the sky and the cloud of water or snow can blind you!
  3. Snobbishness is a human trait, so I began to wonder if among truck drivers they evaluate each other based on condition of the truck, load they're carrying, etc.  For instance, a three trailer truck should get more points than one simple enclosed trailer.
    And a load of 5,000+ pitiful chickens stacked 20' high by 20' wide by 50' long in cages where they have about one cubic foot of space each or a load of smelly bleating sheep has to rate lower than a load of shiny new tractors - or a load of new cars.  Speaking of car haulers - where on earth are all those cars going?  We see about one a mile going in both directions.
  4.  I suppose speed capability is high on the status scale for trucks - nothing like being trapped behind a truck in the left lane gradually passing a truck that is going about a mile an hour slower.
  5. And a colorful sleeper cab personalized with information about the driver has to count for something.
So after jockeying with trucks all the way down I-5 until we were about rummy from 15 hours of driving, we come to a decision where the GPS directs us to take the truck route and we mindlessly obeyed.  What were we thinking?  An opportunity to drive without trucks for a while, and here we were at 9 p.m. already dead dog tired and hanging out with all the trucks on a truck route. 

And motorcycle riders - yikes!  Trapped in 8 lanes of bumper to bumper traffic on I-10 around Pasedena during rush hour on Friday night, with cars darting into lane changes at every opportunity, suddenly a loud noise on our right alerted us to a motorcycle coming up in the median between lanes.  Not just one - many!  There isn't enough money on earth to get us on our bike in LA traffic anyway, but going between cars is just plain foolhardy!  We fully expected to have traffic come to a complete halt while they scraped one or more of them off the road.  Fortunately for the commute that Friday night, they all made it safely.
So trucks and motorcycles make interstate driving interesting, but without the interstates, we probably wouldn't even consider making that long trip twice a year.  More trip notes and pictures to follow.