Just another average sunset in paradise!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Where in the heck is Dave?

I have received several inquiries asking for updates on my health and whereabouts.  I know I should have continued posting but nothing of real relevance was happening and I wanted to make sure of what my future holds before sharing it.

I spent September and October in Aticama but did not stay at the house on the hill.  Thieves took everything from the house while I was in the states in July and August so I rented a motel room for my stay.  While I was in the motel, thieves broke into Dod and took everything including all the copper piping.

My health is excellent with two clear PET scans behind me, my doctors have changed my future tests to once every six months instead of quarterly.

My current location is Seattle, WA.  My friend Christen (you can read about our meeting and past travels by using the search box for "Christen") bought a 24' motor home and asked me to help her drive south for the winter.  Seattle is beautiful but cold and rainy.  We leave here tomorrow morning for another great adventure.  I probably do need to change the title of my blog as I will not be "dodding" anywhere.

The good news is that we will be on the road again looking for the best free camping spots and I will be able to get motivated to communicate via this blog.  I have a new camera and computer so I hope to share some interesting stories and pictures with you all!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Mexican Water Heater

As you may recall, for the past couple of years I have used a solar shower.  It worked okay but it took a couple of hours to warm up even in the heat of Aticama.  It finally broke so I needed another way to heat water.

We use a lot of black hose at the house and at the orchards.  The fact that the water came out hot got me to thinking that if I used more hose I could get enough volume of hot water to bathe.  Leaving the coiled hose on the patio table in direct sunlight provides almost 5 gallons of hot (probably 120 degrees) water in less than an hour.

In addition to the patio bathing, the water is a great temperature for doing dishes and laundry!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Good News!

Hi Friends,

I apologize for not posting for the past couple of weeks but I have been awaiting news from the doctors and did not want to post until I had the results.  Well, the results show that I am 100% cancer free and the doctors say there is no reason for me not to live to be 80 or more!

I am at my brother's house in Bakersfield, CA now waiting for my new passport book to arrive before I return to Aticama.  It has been over 100 degrees here for the past week and the forecast is for 100+ for the next week or so.  It may be hot in  Aticama but living right on the ocean keeps it feeling much cooler.

I miss my dogs and my friends but am enjoying a wonderful visit with my brother Rick and his family.  Rick had his second knee replacement on Tuesday and everything went well and he is recovering rapidly.  Part of the reason I am here is to help him with his recuperation but he is doing so well, there is not much I can do but enjoy his company!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Unlucky, lucky or just plain dumb?

For as long as I can remember, every time I read a story or heard one on the news about a gun accidently going off and injuring or killing someone, I was skeptical.  First of all, if you drop a gun 100 times it may go off once or twice.  Even then what are the chances that when it does it will be aimed at someone and not just blank space?

The other day I was sitting in the kitchen reading my book and my loaded pistol was lying on the counter.  My pistol is a type of pellet gun but does shoot lead pellets powered by a shell about the size of a 22.  Anyhow, I put my book flat on the counter and pushed it inward so it would not fall on the floor.  I pushed it just a little too far and the pistol fell off the corner of the counter and was heading toward the floor.  I reached over to grab it but was too late.  It hit the floor, went off and I felt immediate pain in my forehead!  A weapon had been dropped and injured a human being, ME!

When a pistol drops, it has basically 4 places to land on: left side, right side, bottom and top.  In order to discharge, it must hit directly on the hammer.  What are the odds?  If it does hit directly on the hammer what are the odds that the barrel will be pointing directly at someone's head?  If you think of the range of the pistols aim like a circle, wherein it could shoot in any direction, a human head takes up a very small portion of that circle.

Well, as they say in the westerns, it just grazed me.  It put a furrow about 1/8 inch wide and 2" long in my scalp just above my right eye.  Unlucky that it hit me when it went off; lucky that it just grazed me and didn't hit my eye; and, dumb for putting a loaded pistol so close to the edge of a counter!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

New blogger on the block!

My daughter Kim and her husband Billy are flying their plane from Orange County, CA to Chicago following Route 66.  She has started a blog that will chronicle the journey.  I found the first installment very entertaining with good pix and videos, but of course I am prejudiced.  You can check it out at www.flyingroute66.blogspot.com

Sunday, June 9, 2013


We finally got our first rain of the season  but it is no much to talk about.  It rained a couple of hours two days in a row.  Just enough  to keep the dust down and show me where the roof leaks.

I was enjoying posting from the patio and then all of a sudden no more internet.  My neighbors had to take down the little broadcast antenna that made it possible for me to pick up their signal.  Apparently it becomes a lightning rod!

I am posting this morning from the El Chaco RV restaurant.  Great food and super fast internet.  Until I again have internet on the hill (November) my blog will have no regularity to it.  I will try to keep you updated regarding the important stuff.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Attacked on my patio . . .

No, not banditos this time just a crazy bird.  We have very large blackbirds here with long tail feathers.  They are just a little smaller than a crow but make just as much annoying noise.  I was just standing out on my patio, taking in the view and minding my own business when one of them decided to buzz me.  It came to within inches of my head several times in a row, screaming all the while.

I went back inside and read a few pages of my book and then ventured out to the patio once more.  I looked down the hill and about 50 yards away in the top of a tree stood my attacker!  It left the palm tree and flew straight up and started with the attack again.

I considered getting the pistol out to scare it but with my luck I would probably wind up hitting it.  I limit my killing to rats!

Monday, June 3, 2013

June 3rd, a day to celebrate

Just a quick post.  Today is my payday (always worth a celebration) but also, as Jesus and I were cleaning up the lower lot this afternoon the first rain drops of the season fell on my old bald head!  I don't expect much from these clouds but is is the sign of better and bigger storms to come soon.

I am posting from my patio so I have to sign off quickly as I am sure my laptop will not appreciate the rain!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Some notes on my trip back to Aticama

You may remember the 40+ hour bus ride I took from San Blas to Tijuana when I headed north.  Well the trip south was much easier but still took almost 24 hours even though more than half the distance was by air.  I left Bakersfield at 3 pm on Monday via Greyhound; transferred in Los Angeles; and the final transfer was in San Ysidro for a bus that takes you straight to the Tijuana airport.  I arrived in San Ysidro around 8 pm but it took almost 2 hours to go the 15 miles between San Ysidro and the airport.  They never used to but now they check very closely when you cross into Mexico by bus.

I arrived at the airport at 10 pm for a flight that didn’t depart until 1:45 am.  Luckily there was a bar right next to my departure gate.  Unluckily, airport drink prices in TJ are very similar to the ones at LAX: very high!  50 pesos for the same bottle of beer that would cost 10 pesos at a bar in San Blas.

I enjoyed a very smooth flight on an airline I had never heard of before: Volaris.  The plane was new and very clean.  It landed in Guadalajara at 6:45 am (including time zone changes) and I took a cab to the central bus station.  To leave the airport you must use the airport taxies and they are incredibly expensive.  It cost $26. For the trip which was less than 10 miles. It only cost me $20 for a bus ticket for a 200 mile trip from there to Tepic.  Another $5.00 for a bus from Tepic to San Blas and $8.00 for a cab ride from San Blas to Aticama.

A total of 5 buses, 2 cabs and one airplane all within 24 hours.  I will definitely find a better way next time!

Friday, May 31, 2013

I thought I smelled a rat!

Not really but I sure did see and hear one.  I was sitting in the kitchen reading a book last night when a rat scrambled down the aluminum ladder that accesses upstairs.  He ran into the pantry and I think he was hiding in some rubber floor mats that are leaning up against the doorway.  I gave the mats a big kick and he scampered across the floor toward some shelving I built for storage and disappeared behind it.  I heard noises from behind an old refrigerator sitting in the corner to I went to investigate.

Before going over, I grabbed my air pistol and a flash light.  I looked behind the reefer and saw him hiding in the gas hoses behind it.  I couldn't get a clear shot, and didn't want to damage the hoses,  so I rattled the hoses with my foot.  He ran around to the side of the reefer between its side and the wall.  I think he thought he was hidden but I saw him.  I cocked the pistol and took careful aim and then BANG,  the rat was no more.

Some might think this a cruel thing to do to a rat, but I think it is just as humane as using one of those "neck-breaker" traps or even a live trap which doesn't harm the rat until the next morning when you drown it.

Dave 1  Rats 0

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Life goes on oobladee, oobladaa!

Today I had my third encounter with burglars in as many weeks!  I have not shared the other encounters with you as so many readers tend to be protective of me.  My first week back at the house, I was upstairs reading and I heard footsteps outside the house.  When I looked, I saw an arm reaching through the window.  I said "puedo aydarte" (can I help you?) and the hand disappeared.  A couple of days later my binoculars were missing.  My fault entirely as they were left on the table I built on the dining patio where they were way too easy to steal.

Today, while I was taking a nap, Sarah woke me up and I left my  bed to go into the living room.  I heard footsteps outside the house in the back so I focused my attention on the portholes in the wall.  While I was standing there, a face appeared and filled up the entire porthole.  It was a young man who I judged to be anywhere from 18 to 20.

See the porthole?

Well, there I was practically naked (just my boxer shorts on) and I looked right at him and said "Que quieres joven? (What do you want youngster?)  He said Nada which means nothing and then he left.  It probably did not hurt that I had my pistol in my hand while I was talking to him.  I really do not like these confrontations but I refuse to be intimidated!

I am comfortable here and life goes on!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Back on top of the world!

I arrived back in Aricama on the 7th and have been slowly getting things in order at the house.  Every morning I look around and decide what chores need to be done.  Then I make myself breakfast to be eaten on the dining patio looking out at the beautiful Pacific.  After breakfast I take another hour or so to contemplate the beauty around me and then prepare to do chores.

Preparation for chores usually takes the form of a rest period with a cold cerveza.  By the time the preparation is over, it is too late to actually start chores so I grab a book and share my attention between reading and looking at the ocean.  MaƱana is soon enough for the chores!

Sarah and Lobo are back with me and they both remembered me.  Sara very seldom leaves my side but Lobo is another story.  He tends to wander off for most of the day and night but he always comes back.

Check out the blue/white eyes on Lobo!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Last post from the U.S.

Tomorrow morning at 11:45 a.m. I board a bus to Tijuana where I will catch a flight to Guadalajara.  After that I have another bus ride to Aticama but should be back at the house by noon!  Hopefully, there will be internet service there but if not, I promise to head down the hill a few times each week to keep posting.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Knee Replacement Surgery!

My brother Rick had his right knee replaced on April 16th and is already walking without a walker or cane.  The reason I have delayed returning to Aticama until the 7th is to stick around and help him with his recuperation but I am required to do very little with his quick recovery.  A cool thing is that when I return for my PET scan in late June, he will have his other knee replaced and I will be here to help him.

Funny how the mind works.  For seven months I have been here in Bakersfield and I almost never thought about Aticama.  Just as soon as I bought my ticket that all changed.  Now I find myself remembering all sorts of things that I love about my life south of the border.  Here in no particular order are the things I am missing:  my dogs, the view, the sound of the waves, my friends, the sunsets from the patio, the iguanas, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner on the dining patio, outdoor showers and just relaxing and watching the flowers grow!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Heading Home

Yes! I am finally going back to the house on the cliff in Aticama.  On Monday the 6th of May I will be taking a bus from Bakersfield to the Tijuana airport to catch an early morning (1:45 a.m.) flight to Guadalajara and then a bus to Aticama.

When I arrived at my brother Rick's house the last week in September, I thought I would be back in Aticama for the holidays but that was not to be.   What could have been a simple surgery to remove a lesion from the top of my head turned out to be way more complicated.  With all the red tape involved in getting my Medicare card the surgery was delayed until December 10th and then with the holidays everything took longer than it should have.

My brother Rick and his wife Karen welcomed me into their home and there was never any discussion about  wearing out my welcome; it was made clear that I could stay as long as it took.  My proposed visit of a few weeks turned out to be over 7 months.  Thanks, Bro!

Also, thanks to Rick and Karen, I have a new laptop computer to keep up with the blog and email.  You know how they say "You can pick your friends but you can't pick your family?", even if I could pick my family I think you all know it would be an easy decision!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Good News!

Cancer Update

On Tuesday the 16th I had appointments with the three doctors responsible for my cancer treatment.  The ENT who first discovered the tumor on my tongue told me he couldn't find any remaining evidence of the tumor and after feeling my neck he pronounced the affected lymph node to be back to normal.  The doc that handled the 7 weekly chemo treatments checked me out and simply said "Congratulations!".  The doc who supervised the 7 weeks of daily radiation therapy agreed with the other two doctors and feels the cancer is all gone.  He did say that he was surprised at how well I came through the radiation and when I asked him why he said "Very few patients come through as well as you did".

The radiation treatments covered the area from just below my nose to about two inches below my shoulders and there was some skin irritation involved but it was light.  Out of all of the side effects that I read about on the internet, mine were few and not that bad at all.

The bad:  My taste buds were affected so that I had a bad taste in my mouth constantly and most things I ate tasted like cardboard.  My saliva glands were affected to my mouth was extremely dry at times.  Nothing to complain about as most people who have the same treatment I did cannot swallow and wind up with a feeding tube.

The good:  All of the hair follicles in the treatment area have temporarily gone dormant.  Why is this listed under "The good"?  No shaving for now and no trimming of those annoying "old man" hairs on my ears!

My next appointment is during the last week of June for a full body PET scan which is the only way to be sure the cancer is all gone.  I will have to have a scan every 4-4 months for the next 5 years!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Six months of news in one post!

Dear Followers:

Some of you have emailed asking about my lack of posting.  I don't like to include anything negative in my blog so I have delayed covering this topic until I knew most of the facts and found them to be more positive than negative!

I developed a growth on one of the many bald places on the top of my head and returned to the states in September for medical treatment and have been staying with my brother Rick and his family for six months now.

After removal of the lesion from the top of my head and lab analysis, it turned out to be a not-so-good form of cancer prompting further tests.  After completing all of the latest and greatest tests available, all they found was a tumor on the back of my tongue and involvement of the lymph nodes in my neck.  That is all the bad news!  

Absolutely no other cancer in my entire body.  I was surprised as I have been a smoker and heavy drinker for 50 years!  All of my blood work, xrays, ekgs, etc. surprised the doctors and they said that my results were more fitting to someone 20 years younger.  Rather than take that as a recommendation to continue smoking and drinking, I started on Chantix to quit smoking an am happy to report I have just completed my third week smokeless.  I have not quit drinking but have cut down to only one or two cocktails a week!
Good news is that I lucked into one of the premier cancer treatment centers west of the Mississippi, CBCC Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center (Bakersfield, CA)  which is affiliated with UCLA.  Rather than surgery, they elected to treat my cancer with chemo and radiation.  My last treatments are on April 3rd completing a 7 week M-F schedule .  More good news is that all three specialists who are treating me agree that I am doing much better than expected and they give a 90% estimate that the treatment will be 100% successful!  The "average" news is that I will not know for sure until mid-July as they have to wait 3 months after treatment to do a full body PET scan to make sure all of the cancer is gone.

The normal side effects of chemo and radiation are (in no particular order): Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, hair loss, constipation, diarrhea (don't know why they always list these two together), fatigue, insomnia, and trouble swallowing.  Since my radiation is being applied only to the throat and neck we get to add:  Sore throat, loss of taste buds, blisters on skin where radiation is applied, dry mouth, change in saliva, more trouble swallowing (many patients have to have a feeding tube), weight loss, change of voice, and several others I am probably forgetting.

My side effects have been limited to: A change in taste buds which makes all food taste pretty bland; some irritation of the skin on my neck (similar to a severe sun burn), minor pain at the site of the tumor and insomnia (as I recall, I have always had insomnia).  So, all things considered, I am going through the treatment like a walk in the park. 

I could and would return to Aticama the second week of April but my little brother is having knee replacement surgery on April 16th and I will stay as long as needed to help with his recovery!   According to the docs, that may not take too long so I may be back home by mid-May, returning to the USA only for testing about every 4 months (with a visit at my brother's home as an added bonus).

Next post April 17th after my exit examinations by three specialists.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Side trip (continued)

Our primary destination for the side trip was Pismo Beach on the beautiful central coast.  The beach is gorgeous and the town is one of the few remaining "beach towns" that hasn't been redeveloped into modern hotels and businesses.  The one attraction  that really brought us here was the Splash Cafe and their wonderful clam chowder.

Splash Cafe the day we were there

Splash Cafe on a typical summer day

Splash Cafe won the "Best Clam Chowder Award" for like 10 years in a row and probably would have many more awards but they took themselves out of the contest about 5 years ago to give other restaurants a chance.

Luckily, you can enjoy their clam chowder without going to Pismo Beach.  We buy it at our local Costco in Bakersfield but if you can find it I think you will definitely enjoy it!

After lunch we took a walk out on the pier enjoying the 70 degree weather in January.  The view was great and I would have to rank this side trip as one of the best ever.

View south from pier

Friday, January 25, 2013

Side trip

The weather here has been so-so at best!  Luckily with the help of the weather forecasters and my brother Rick's local knowledge we were able to select a picture perfect day for a trip to the coast.  We left Bakersfield early one day and headed for Pismo Beach.

Our first stop was at the Eberle Vineyards where we tasted one wine each and my brother bought a couple of bottles of Sangiovese which is a superlative red wine.  The weather was beautiful and the winery sits atop a hill and the view was great.  I forgot the camera in the car.

Our next stop was a trip down memory lane for me.  In 1980 my company signed a lease with the County of San Luis Obispo to manage Chalk Mountain Golf Course in Atascadero.  We finished off the club house and restaurant and assumed full management and upkeep of this beautiful course.

Club house

As part of our contract, we had to choose and develop a logo for the course.  After playing several rounds my partner and I agreed that since there were so many woodpeckers on the course that we would make a woodpecker the mascot/logo.  My wife at that time was an accomplished artist and she drew the logo freehand (remember this was 1980 and no Photoshop or Internet).

I was pleased to see that the course is still using her design.

While we were there a deer wandered down from the hill but with my camera it was impossible to get a good photo.  The following photo is from the course's website but is of the same area where we saw the deer!

Part two tomorrow:  Pismo Beach in the middle of winter!