Saturday, April 23, 2011

Consumer Warning - Ebay

Hi All,

I just wanted to take a second to post a warning about scams that are happening with Ebay.

Nancy and I have gone up until now without breaking down and purchasing a satellite receiver for our rig despite the fact that it came with an auto tracking dish on top. Up until now we have had no need for any TV beyond what we could get either through the campground cable/sat or for free over the airwaves. Currently however, we are staying in a park with no cable and we can only receive one channel over the air that is in English. Normally, this would be no big deal but we will most likely be here for a little while as we take care of a few things in the area. Since we will be here for a while we decided that we may want some additional entertainment options, so we decided to break down and purchase a satellite receiver.

We researched the options and decided on buying an "owned" Direct TV receiver so that we could utilize a month to month option through Direct TV. Most receivers are "leased" and require a long term contract for service of 24 months or more. If, however, you own your receiver you can call Direct TV and have your card turned on and off month to month. Since we haven't found much need for TV during this adventure until now, a month to month option made the most sense to us.

This is where the Ebay consumer alert part comes in...

Since we needed an "owned" receiver to get the month to month plan we started searching for them on craigslist and Ebay etc. Nancy found a Direct TV receiver, advertised as an "owned" unit, on Ebay for a reasonable price so she put in a bid. Shortly thereafter she "won" the auction and contacted Direct TV to give them the serial number so that we could attain an access card that we could install and activate our month to month service. Upon speaking with Direct TV she found that the equipment she "won" on Ebay, advertised as "owned" equipment was in-fact "leased" equipment and could not legally be sold or consequently purchased by us.

Luckily, we had not yet paid for the equipment, so we informed the seller what we had learned from Direct TV about their item being "leased" and not "owned". The seller denied that the equipment was "leased" and insisted that we pay him for the auction. Just to be sure, we again called Direct TV and asked about the serial number of the equipment the seller insisted was "owned" and not "leased" only to be told again that the equipment was "leased" and could not legally be sold by anyone other than Direct TV.

After a few emails back and forth with the seller, it was obvious they would not listen to reason, and continued to insist that we pay for what essentially would amount to "stolen goods", so we contacted Ebay to ask for their assistance.

After multiple calls to Ebay, their response was essentially "tough luck" and told us that we had to pay for and receive the item before we could even lodge a complaint. Of course this would be their stance! If they did the right thing and looked into the situation and found it to be what we claim prior to the sale they would not make any money off the transaction! So they advised us to go ahead and pay for what we know to be stolen property, receive it, then go through the complaint process with Ebay in the hopes that, at that point, after receiving our money for the stolen property, the seller will refund us his ill-gotten gains out of the goodness of his heart!

It's so sad that ridiculous policies like this are tolerated at billion dollar corporations. To force a consumer to go through with an illegal transaction, rather than to simply cancel or pull the auction, simply so that they can ensure their transaction fee prior to the complaint being "resolved" (not that it ever would be since there is no way the seller would ever refund the money).

The bottom line here is if we do what Ebay wants, the seller of stolen property gets his money... Ebay gets their money... We pay for it all and receive useless stolen property in return.

Nice little deal huh? The criminal makes money, the company who enabled the criminal makes money and the consumer gets the shaft.

This doesn't sound too me like the actions of a company any consumer should want to do business with...

We have also filed a complaint with Direct TV about someone selling their "leased" equpiment on Ebay as "owned" equipment but have yet to hear any results of that complaint.


You all be good!

Have a great day!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Penne alla Vodka with Sausage


  • 1 pound uncooked penne pasta
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 50ml mini bottle Absolute vodka
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 c. Kraft Parmesan cheese
  • 1 T Badia Gourmet Blend Italian Seasoning (or any Italian Seasoning)
  • 5 links sweet (or hot) Italian sausage


  1. Bring a skillet with approx. 1" of water to a boil and add sausage.  Cook for approx 20 minutes total, turning sausage at the 10 min. point.  Remove sausage and let cool.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  3. Slice sausage into oblong slices and set aside.
  4. Add tomatoes and salt; bring to boil. Add garlic, Kraft parmesan cheese, Italaian seasoning and red pepper.  Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
  5. Add vodka and cream and bring to boil. Add sausage and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and add pasta, toss for 1 minute. Top with fresh grated parmesan and serve!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day Trip Through Snowy Sedona to the Grand Canyon

Hi All!

Yesterday, Nancy and I decided to take advantage of the recent snow to see the Grand Canyon in a way most folks don't, with a white blanket. We drove out of Cottonwood via 89a through Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon. The snow gave the ride a winter wonderland feel that seemed out of place in Arizona in April. It was a rare opportunity, and I am glad we were able to take advantage of it.

These first few shots are of the snow-covered, Red Rocks of Sedona in the distance.

And the rest of the shots are at the Grand Canyon.

I hope you all enjoyed the pic's!

Have a great day!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunrise- The Day After

While some areas in the mid-west experienced near record heat yesterday, we here in Arizona experienced a nasty, early spring, winter storm. Snowfall came to altitudes as low as 2500 ft. Areas in Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon received as much as 2 feet!

Here at Dead Horse Ranch in Cottonwood, we received snow, sleet, rain and freezing temps but it only stuck in the surrounding mountains. A few days ago temps were record highs at or over 100 degrees. This morning, when these pictures were taken, temps were in the low 20's.

View of Cottonwood from Dead Horse Ranch, sunrise - the day after.

Looking over our rig toward Jerome.

Frozen car, I thought I left this stuff behind in New England!
Our plan was to have been boondocking in Kaibab this past weekend while enjoying the Grand Canyon. We are both really glad we paid attention to the weather and decided to remain here at Dead Horse Ranch for this storm. The question now becomes, how long will it take for the recent snow to clear enough for us to continue our trek to the canyon?

Stay tuned...

Have a great day!


Friday, April 8, 2011

Sedona (re-visited)

Hello All!

Yesterday Nancy and I decided to re-visit Sedona since it was during the week and the crowds should have subsided from this past weekend. Well, the crowds had subsided, that's not to say that there were no crowds, but we were able to find parking at the places we wanted to see. The first thing we wanted to see was Bell Rock.

Bell Rock is on Hwy 179, just north of the village of Oak Creek and 5 miles south of the junction of 89a and 179 in Sedona. It is said that the vortex that exists at Bell Rock is one of the most powerful in Sedona. The vortex here is said to strengthen all three zones found within each of us, the masculine side, the feminine side and the balance. Nancy and I aren't sure that we felt any effects of a vortex, but the beauty of the surroundings did have a positive effect on our moods. Taking a relaxing walk in beautiful surroundings is almost always likely to be a mood enhancer and maybe that is the only effect one needs from these areas.

They say that you can tell the strength of a vortex by the twisting of the junipers in the area.

Next we decided to head back into town and wander around the shops found there. For the most part we were able to avoid the lure of the many T-shirts, magnets and other knick-knacks, but Nancy did bite at the balsamic vinegar store. We enjoy having balsamic vinegar with many meals from spaghetti sauces to cold cut sandwiches and of course salads. She found a lovely black walnut balsamic as well as an 18 year old traditional balsamic that should keep us in sweet tangy vinegar heaven for a while.

As always, Luke and Leia were quite a hit with the folks wandering the shopping area. Nancy and I fielded the usual round of questions while the dogs soaked up the attention. Unlike some other areas we have visited where pet friendly shops would put out bowls of water and such for their four legged visitors, Sedona appears to have less affinity for the furry kind of kids. Luke and Leia didn't seem to mind, they enjoyed the walk and the attention none the less.

Our last stop on this day would be the Airport Mesa. The vortex found in this area is said to strengthen the masculine side. Again, neither Nancy nor I felt anything we could attribute to a vortex as such, but once again the beauty and tranquility of the surroundings had a positive effect on our spirits vortex or no.

The view of Sedona from atop Look-Out Point
For those interested in learning more about the vortexes and the three "zones" that can be effected by them visit these links.

Map and description
Sedona Wiki page

Have a Great Day!!!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Meteor Crater!

Hi!  This is Nancy hijacking the blog today.

Noah was my chauffeur today - he took me to see the meteor crater near Winslow AZ.  He has already seen it twice - so he drove me almost 2 hours each way so that I could see it for myself.

What a treat!  I was a little saddened to hear some people leaving saying things like "It's not worth going in - it's just a big hole in the ground".  I've been wanting to see this crater since I was in grade school when I first heard about it.  But I didn't let their negativity bother me - I paid my $15 entry fee and went in.

There is a museum that explains the history behind the crater as well as a movie theater that shows a movie about it.  They also have guided rim tours (no additional charge).

The crater is 2.4 miles in circumference and 550 feet deep. They think the meteor that formed it was about 150 feet in diameter.  They have the largest chunk found (less than 2 feet wide) at the entrance to the museum.

I wanted to just stand there all day and take it all in.  It was just immense!  Pictures do not do it justice.  You'll have to pardon my poor photography skills - I took the SLR camera (which I have absolutely no experience with) and tried my best to get some photos.

You can see indentations in the sandstone around the crater where tiny particles were blasted into the rock

To give you an idea just how big this crater is...see the white section near the bottom?

If you look at the white section that is fenced off (the mining area) and look really closely - you'll barely see a life size astronaut figure standing next to an american flag in the lower right corner.  This will give you an idea on just how massive this crater is.

Here's the view of the parking lot (RV parking is the section that is empty - so plenty of room to hold 15-20 RV's) and Flagstaff off in the distance (just below the snow capped mountain)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Ok, here's the catch-up post

First, we've moved.

We are no longer in Tucson...

We are now in the Dead Horse Ranch Park in Cottonwood, roughly 100 miles north of Phoenix and about 90 miles south of Flagstaff. The park here is very nice. All RV- accessible roads are paved and the spaces are wide and fairly level. Hook-ups are water and electric only (no sewer) but there is a dump station near the entrance to the park. A river runs along the border of the park and there are two lagoons in the park itself. I'm told that catfish and trout can be caught in either of the two lagoons and the river, but I haven't had the opportunity to try that out just yet.

The trip up from Tucson was fairly uneventful. We ran into some traffic in Phoenix, as you might expect, and then again further up 17 as apparently a tractor trailer carrying cattle overturned on the other side of 17 backing up south-bound traffic for miles! We eventually arrived here at site #92 (a 55' deep back-in) happy and sound.

After getting parked, level and putting out the slides, I did my customary check of the rig, trailer, car, motorcycle, etc. Everything appeared to make the journey in good nick until I arrived at the drivers side tire on the trailer. The tire had thrown a section of tread about 12" long and 1" thick right down to the belts. I religiously check all the rubber moments before departure on any journey. I know that tire was up to pressure and in good shape before we pulled out of Justin's Diamond "J" in Tucson that morning. We were lucky, no blowout.

Saturday, I was able to find two new trailer tires at Big "O" tires in the center of Cottonwood. I popped the old wheels and tires off the trailer, threw them in the back of the Fit and had them mounted with new tires, balanced and back on the trailer by 10AM. Good as new!

With the chores complete, it was time to head off and explore our new surroundings. We first decided to drive about 20 miles down 89 and check out Sedona. Most folks have heard of Sedona and how beautiful the area is. Others may have heard of the spiritual connections or the cosmic vortexes to be found there. For me, the area is undeniably beautiful, but very touristy. Lots of shops to get everything from a palm reading to pink jeep tours. If you want knick-knacks and T's, downtown Sedona's got em! And they all come with a back-drop of some of the most beautiful red-rock formations to be found anywhere. It was Saturday when we went through, traffic was pretty heavy and there was no place to park at all so we just drove through for now. We'll try to stop back later in the week when less folks are out and about.

Drive a bit further up 89 and you enter the Oak Creek Canyon drive. Numerous pull-outs and day-use areas abound along the entire stretch of the Oak Creek Canyon drive's serpentine length. Stunning views of red-rock and white-stone cliffs are around every twist of the road. There are also a few unexpected surprises, like an apple orchard. The road culminates with a twisty several thousand foot climb straight up the canyon as 89 continues on to Flagstaff.

Slide Rock day-use area.

Apple orchard in Oak Creek Canyon.

Nancy and "the kids" in a meadow in Oak Creek Canyon.

Oak Creek Canyon as seen from the overlook at it's end.

Part of 89 climbing from the canyon floor.

We continued on 89 until we got a really quick look at Flagstaff, then turned around and high-tailed it for home since it was getting late and the dogs needed food.

Sunday morning I awoke to find the "Fantastic Fan" opening mechanism had quit in our galley. Ducky! Todays chore was now apparent! After some fidgeting, fumbling, climbing around on the roof, a couple knuckle diggers and maybe a choice word or two the fan was back in working order. By this point Nancy had rolled out of bed so we began discussing what to do today. A trip to Jerome and Prescott made the top of the discussion so we loaded up the dogs and we were on our way!

Jerome is much like Bisbee in that it was once a bustling mining town that has now turned toward tourism and the artsy side of things. At one time the mine found there was the largest and most productive copper mine in the US. The town itself is perched even more precariously on the side of the mountains than Bisbee. A fire swept the town in the 1800's and is the basis for the belief that much of the town is haunted today. The travel channels "Ghost Adventures" even did an episode at the Jerome Grand Hotel.

The Jerome Grand Hotel sits high above the town of Jerome.
89 leading too and from Jerome is a serpentine delight.
The view from one of the pull-outs just past Jerome on 89. Sorry for the haze, I forgot the polarizing filter.
Times Square, Jerome AZ. This is the Flat Iron building.

An old Indian "rat" with plenty of personal touches.
We continued to follow 89 out through Jerome as it wound it's way back down the mountain toward Prescott. Nancy and I both found Prescott to be a very quaint town with a lovely town square. We could just picture the mayor standing in the pergola announcing the winner of the blue ribbon for the best apple pie to the excited crowd.

And the winner of the Blue Ribbon is...
A picturesque portion of 89 near Prescott.
Town Square.

Lot's of folks were out in the town square walking their dogs, walking with their loved ones or just hanging out enjoying the beautiful day. The little shops and restaurants all around the town square were bright, cheery and inviting. Prescott definitely seems like a town we would like to spend some more time exploring.

Have a great day everybody!