This is primarily a travel blog in which I write about traveling in our motorhome. Our travels have

Nacogdoches, TX, United States
I began this blog as a vehicle for reporting on a 47-day trip made by my wife and me in our motorhome down to the Yucatan Peninsula and back. I continued writing about our post-Yucatan travels and gradually began including non-travel related topics. I often rant about things that piss me off, such as gun violence, fracking, healthcare, education, and anything else that pushes my button. I have a photography gallery on my Smugmug site (

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Just Send Them Your Money

I have just returned from Mexico. A country that I swore never again to visit after our Mexican adventure in 2012. I had every intention of honoring that promise until my son and his (then) fiancĂ© decided to get married in Cabo San Lucas. I was given no choice. I was required to attend (and pay for a portion of) their “destination wedding.” I left the cold behind for the warm climes of the Baja Peninsula and returned much poorer and with a head cold.

There were about 170 people in attendance t the wedding, which was an amazing number considering the distance and expense. The wedding was held at the Sheraton Hacienda Del Mar Spa Resort on the Sea of Cortez, about seven miles east of Cabo. The setting was fantastic, not to mention expensive. There is something wrong about having to pay $15 a day for slow Wi-Fi when staying in a $500 a day suite.

If you are planning your first ever trip to Cabo I must warn you of the “free rides” from the airport to your hotel. Once you have made it through immigration and customs you will enter a large room where you will be mobbed by men offering you a free ride to your hotel. DO NOT make eye contact with, speak with, or in any other way acknowledge the presence of these people or you are doomed. Walk straight through this room and out the other side. Do not stop. There is no “free ride.” You may eventually arrive at your hotel but not before being given the “opportunity” to purchase a time-share. You should arrange and pay for your airport transportation in advance of your trip. Then look for someone holding a sign with your name on it. Then, and only then, should you allow yourself to relax. Let the man with the your sign take your luggage and you follow him to his vehicle.

While in Cabo, be prepared to spend one hell of a lot of money. This place is very expensive. Two words of advice. If you will worry about how much money you may spend, DON’T GO!

The area was devastated by a hurricane last fall and a lot of damage still remains to be repaired. Many of the resorts have yet to reopen. The Sheraton is one of the few that has been repaired and reopened. There is much ongoing reconstruction but it is still a beautiful area. You have the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez with beautiful beaches and deserts and mountains beyond.

There are numerous places in which to pursue the national past time of drinking beer and tequila. If you enjoy loud and noisy crowds of young people bent on setting records for the most alcohol consumed in one night then you will find no place better.

Maro’s Shrimp House serves excellent shrimp dishes and is known for their house drink, the Bulldog. This is primarily a concoction of lime juice, tequila, and Corona, which I found not particularly tasty. The records for the most Bulldogs consumed in one night are painted on the walls. The men’s record is 19 in a little less than 3 hours (an average of about one every 9 minutes). The women’s record is 13 in a little over 8 hours (a more leisurely average of one every 37 minutes). I don’t know if barfing resulted in disqualification or not.

One last thing. Don’t bother with exchanging any of your US dollars for Mexican pesos. We charged everything to our room at the resort and then paid the total bill by credit card. As a matter of fact, we paid for almost everything we did in Cabo by credit card, thereby not incurring any exchange fees or returning home with a pocketful of useless change. If you must pay in cash, everyone is more than happy to accept US dollars. In fact, many establishments list their prices in both pesos and dollars. If you must worry about something such as exchange rates, you simply cannot afford Cabo and should stay away.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Gods Must Be Angry

Three years ago at this time I was on a 47-day RV caravan in Mexico (see archived posts from January and February of 2012). Because of events that occurred on that trip I swore to never, ever, return to Mexico. That was before my son and his fiancé decided to get married in Cabo San Lucas on the southern-most tip of the Baja Peninsula. My son told me I had no choice. I had to attend the wedding. I can assure you that we will not be traveling by RV this time. We will fly in and out and not venture too far from the resort area while there. So, tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon we leave for Houston to spend the night before boarding a Wednesday morning flight to Cabo. We will return next Tuesday.
There should be over one hundred friends and family traveling to Cabo for the wedding and it will be a party. Can you think of any other reason to wed in Cabo than because it will be one big party? The wedding will take place Saturday afternoon on the beach in front of the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar. The rehearsal party will be the night before. The partying will actually start on Thursday night when a bus transports the early arrivals into town for dinner at Maro's Shrimp House followed by a visit to the Giggling Marlin Bar & Grille (emphasis on the "Bar"). This is an establishment whose motto is, "If our food, drinks, and service aren't up to your standards. Please lower your standards." Poor sentence structure and all. Return transportation to the hotel is on our own and will probably be a very early return for me.  
Cabo tourism websites boast anywhere from 300 up to 360 days of sunshine a year with the average daily temperature being a very warm 78°F. This time of year, however, it should be a most pleasant 72 °F to 75°F with nighttime temperatures in the mid 60's. Cabo's annual rainfall is slightly less than 10-inches a year with only 0.08-inches of that amount falling during the month of February. The weather for the wedding festivities should be perfect. Right? Well, I just checked the Cabo weather report. Rain is forecast to begin on Thursday and continue through Monday. The day with the greatest chance of rain, a 70% to 80% chance, is Saturday, the wedding day. 
This is all my fault. By breaking the vow I made to never return to Mexico, I have angered the gods and they are threatening to exact their revenge on this entire event by sending a plague of rain down upon the partygoers. Even with this threat hanging over the wedding, my attendance is still expected and required. The bride-to-be has stated that she wants to get married on the beach in Cabo and she was not moving the wedding indoors or having a tent erected. The wedding will be on the beach come rain or come shine. Let's hope it's shine.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

How to Legally Carry a Concealed Weapon in Your Home State Without the Hassle of a Permit from Your State

Did you know that a resident of Texas may LEGALLY carry a concealed weapon in Texas, or in about 25 other states, without having a Texas Concealed Handgun License (CHL)? Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
I recently received an email from Groupon, a deal-of-the-day website from which I have made several purchases at significant discounts. I opened the email to see what offer was currently being made and was surprised to find a coupon from THE CARRY ACADEMY. It offered an online concealed handgun license course for $25 (a $49.99 value according to the coupon). THE CARRY ACADEMY said this course would satisfy the requirement of about half the states in the U.S.
I read further to discover how this could possibly be. THE CARRY ACADEMY website boasts, “You don’t need range time or to spend an entire day in a classroom learning the basics of firearm safety.” And, “The steps needed to obtain a concealed carry permit have never been easier.” This was followed by these “quick and easy steps”:
1. Register online.
2. Watch the 30-minute handgun safety video.
3. Take a 20-question test.
There were two sample test questions displayed:
1. Mechanical safeties are foolproof and will never fail.
            A) True
            B) False
2. When cleaning a gun, it is important to:
            A) use as much oil as possible
            B) be sure not to over-oil
            C) read the handgun’s manual
I doubt anyone with half a brain would fail the test if those two questions were typical of the others. Even if you did manage to somehow fail the test, don’t worry, you may retake it as many times as is necessary to pass it. After passing the test simply print your certificate and mail it in.
Say this ain’t so! Surely this was a mistake. I began searching the Internet and I actually turned up a number of similar online courses. I couldn’t believe it. All seemed to follow the same basic format. Watch a video, pass a brief test, and print your certificate. According to the various websites the entire process should only take about 45 minutes of your time. The fees ranged from $19.95 to over $100.
One of the online CHL websites stated that any U.S. military veteran may be eligible to carry a concealed pistol without any training or testing what so ever in one-half of the states in the U.S. At least Texas limits it to only those veterans who apply during the first year after discharge. All they have to do is fill out a Virginia Non-Resident Concealed Handgun Permit application, provide fingerprints, photo, a copy of their DD-214 (proof of military service), and the $117 fee, of course. Virginia? But I live in Texas! I know for a fact that Texas requires 4 to 6 hours of classroom plus additional time on a firing range in order to demonstrate your proficiency with the firearm.
As it turns out, Virginia is one the easiest, if not the easiest, states in which to obtain a CHL. The state’s requirements are such that only a short gun safety video and passing a 20-question test are all the training necessary to apply for the Non-Resident CHL, which may be valid in your state. This is based upon something called reciprocity (more on this in the next paragraph). This bypasses the tougher requirements imposed by your home state. It is all done online and through the mail. You don’t ever have to leave your home state, much less visit Virginia. You simply provide the Virginia State Police with a passport photo, a set of your fingerprints on an official law enforcement fingerprint card, the certificate you printed after passing the online test, and $117 (for a five year license). The Virginia State Police will run a background check on you prior to issuing the CHL. If everything checks out you will receive your Virginia Non-Resident Concealed Carry Permit by return mail.
These CHL requirements don’t even come close to meeting the training and education requirements mandated by Texas state law (or about 25 other states). The fact is that Texas and these other states maintain a CHL reciprocity agreement with the state of Virginia. In other words, Virginia honors a Texas CHL and Texas honors a Virginia CHL. This means that a citizen of Texas who has a Virginia Non-resident Concealed Carry Permit, yet without meeting the classroom time or proficiency training required by the state of Texas can legally carry a concealed weapon in Texas. And the state of Texas may never even know! Just doesn’t seem right, does it?
As a retired pharmacist I am familiar with reciprocity of licenses. For a state to reciprocate a pharmacist’s license, the education and training requirements of the two states must essentially be the same. Even then a pharmacy law exam must be taken and passed in the state to which the pharmacist is moving. Apparently, the reciprocity of CHLs does not require the reciprocating states to have similar requirements of training nor is the applicant required to be familiar with the Texas firearms regulations. This is ridiculous.
Almost 600,000 Texans, roughly one out of every 45 residents, hold active Texas CHLs. Who knows how many more have nonresident permits from other states.

(NOTE: This blog assumes no responsibility or liability for any brainless actions that may be taken based upon the content of this blog.)