Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Good Day For Shooting ...

Photography, that is!!  It's getting close to graduation time and unlike the days of cap and gown pics, todays senior portraits are another thing altogether.  I had one picture taken in the school gym ... nowadays seniors hire photographers to capture their senior year in any number of settings.  Usually outdoors, they range from casual to formal ... sorta dressy anyway!!  So on this gorgeous sunny 70 degree day, my friend Diane and I ventured out with Senior (we'll call her) Kate!  Diane stands in while I get camera settings ready and is the best assistant you could have.  She fixes the hair, the blouse wrinkles, gives up her shoes as a seat so the model doesn't get dirty, removes stray branches and cuts down trees ... well, you get the picture ... so "I" can get the picture!!
We have two favorite locations for shoots.  The Bloss House in Atwater has the best garage door ever.  We are hoping their efforts to collect money for paint are in vain!!
If the model looks familiar, she is.  This is the beautiful girl who did my "Chair" shoot.  Hard to believe she's a senior and heading to college already.  Wisteria vines at this location are also great for photos.  Thankfully all those vines Diane has cut off because they were in the way, haven't killed it ... yet!!
Two more location and clothing changes resulted in some great shots.  So these images are examples of todays "Senior Pics".  They use these for the invitations and the cards they hand out to friends and family.  The hard part is going through the 100 images I have marked as the best (versus the 300 I took).  Sorry Mom ... it's going to be tough to pick the one you like best!!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Blond, The Smart Cookie and The Flirt ......

So which one do you think made the deal????   I know, I'm a  b a a a d girl, but when you are single and female, dealing with a male world (especially when it comes to buying/selling cars), you do what you gotta do!!  So the blond Nancy went to see the "New Owner" dealership, saying she wasn't really sure why, but all the "RV Guys" said don't get an all wheel drive vehicle.  That said, they smiled and handed over a check for $16K for my Corvette, which I'm sure they will sell on the lot for $25K (minus all the things they are going to have to fix  ...  hehehe).

Nancy The Flirt, went across the street to buy the jeep!!  The one I found was in Dublin but the dealership there thought they had a buyer, so wouldn't send it along.  The Fleet Manager working for me did find one in San Francisco on Friday ... he drove up there Saturday to pick it up.  Now that's service!!   By the time he returned, I was at the Art Hop, so I made arrangements to pick it up today at noon.  And VOILA !!!!!  My 2012 Jeep Liberty Lattitude.
It did have a couple extra things, like leather seats and back-up assist so I don't crash into things ... but surprisingly enough, it ended up costing $1500 less than the original estimate.  The Smart Cookie checked out all the specs and everything was there, so I drove it home.  I love that my phone connects through the car radio for hands free calling ... you just tell it what you want and it does it, even changing the radio stations!!!  Not an exact match on color, but it works for me!!!!!

Next is to head to Camping World for the tow package, except I can't even find out where they are because their website is down.   I tried calling, but after 30 minutes on hold, I gave up.  Their sale ends on May 6, so hopefully I make this next deadline.  I think Smart Cookie will make that deal!!!!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Art Hop Hits Merced!!

Can you believe it?  Even here in little old (and very poor) Merced, we actually have "ART".  Four times a year, anyone who has some type of art, from paintings to sculpture to photography ... can apply on-line to local businesses in the old downtown area for a free space to show and sell their art.  I have done this a few times on a last minute basis and not had very good results.  Either the space was too small or in a location where there was no foot traffic.  It's not that you get to sell your work, it's all about meeting people who LIKE your work.  This year my photographer friend Chris Cook and I walked through the stores first and found the best store owner ever ... Tami Davidson of Diva Accessories.  Not only was she enthusiastic, but served wine and snacks (along with our candy and snap bracelets for the kids) which drew an amazing crowd.  Here's Chris with her image of the Old Tioga Building in Merced.
I can't tell you how exciting it is to have people come in the door and say "WOW!  That's awesome!!"
Partners in crime, we do a lot of shoots together.  Chris' daughter Sydney is the subject of many of them.  A gorgeous 14 year old going on 21, she is a natural!!
The hardest part is picking which images you want to show.  Space is always limited and my images are rather large.  Here are two you have probably seen already.  The Red Tree got soooo many comments, I was very happy!!
The last image, Fallen Leaves, was from a roadtrip to Yosemite Valley for fall color.  We were too late, and all the color had fallen to the ground ...  so that's where I shot it!!!  My business cards have my information on one side and my images on the back side.  My stack of 50 cards totally disappeared!!!
So it's off for another shoot ... we need new images for the next Art Hop in June!!!  

The Jeep you ask??    That story should end (hopefully on a good note) tomorrow!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Quest Quickly Becomes A Saga!!

The easy part??  Purchasing the Tiffin Phaeton.  The Quest???  Finding a vehicle to tow behind the RV, because most places you spend the night, you really need a car to get around.  After MUCH searching on the internet and talking to friends (by now you know that is Dan and Patty Chance!!) I decided on a Jeep Liberty Lattitude ... least that's what the jeep website said.  Made in the USA, very towable, lightweight and affordable.  When I went to the dealership, they had given it another name, but it had all the bells and whistles I wanted.     Pretty nice!!!!!

In talking to another friend from the Elks Lodge, I was introduced to a local Dealer's Fleet Manager.  How much better could it get.  I had already found the exact car online by the VIN# and was assured I would get a great price.  Imagine my surprise when it really WAS a great price, on top of which Jeep has a $4700 rebate offer going ... except it expires 4/20.  OH NO!!!!  So everything switched into high gear.   Unfortunately, although they gave me a great price on the NEW vehicle, they did NOT give me a great price on my trade-in.
It is a 2001 Corvette that I purchased new, obviously in 2001.  It only has 56000 miles on it and according to Kelly Blue Book, I should get a trade-in price of $17000.  It's immaculate ... no paint chips, always garaged ... they offered me $14,000.  Here is where the Saga begins.  Being the nice guy that he was, he suggested I go to a Chevy Dealer and see if they would purchase it.  He even called his friend at the dealership in Merced, just recently taken over by a new owner from the Bay Area.  Before I took it there however, I drove to Turlock to visit my regular dealership (long story about why I drive clear to Turlock) and they said SURE ... they offered me $15,000, and even came up to $15,500 before I left (I asked for $16,000).  Stressed out over the end of the rebate and not getting what I think my car is worth, I drive BACK to Merced and on to the New Owner Dealership.

Again, very nice guys, but of course they want me to buy a Chevy, not a Jeep.  Hmmmm so how do I get them to give me the price for my car without ending up with an All Wheel Drive Chevy that I really don't want.  Do I want to try and deal as "Nancy the blond" who really just doesn't understand all this stuff ... or "Nancy the smart cookie" who knows what she wants and goes after it (intimidating to men, not a good idea) ... or "Nancy the giggly flirt".  Okay, I'll admit it .... I do this kind of stuff all the time.  See the THREE of me in the above image?????

Tomorrow morning I will return to the Chevy dealer (as Nancy the blond) and explain how all my long time RV friends say you should not tow an All Wheel Drive vehicle, whatever that is, that weighs almost 5000 pounds because that will require me to purchase an even heavier duty hitch that I can't afford.  Sound good???   I hope so, cuz I only have one day to get the deal done on the Jeep.  Then ... its off to Camping World to get the hitch installed before THEIR sales ends on May 5!!   Wish me luck!!!!!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rain Rain Go Away - It's Giants Baseball Opening Day!!!

And it did!!!  But only after dumping 2 inches in a matter of minutes, along with some extra ice cubes, on my house, my lawn and my horses!!  Needless to say, the horses weren't very happy with being hit in the head with hail the size of golf balls.  There was so much water, it washed all the bark from my flower beds.
I wasn't kidding about the ice cubes.  I picked up several and put them in the freezer for my next soda!!
It did clear up just in time for the San Francisco Giants Baseball Opening Day 2012.   My friend Peter and I left early Friday morning to get a parking space at the Bart Station in Pleasanton.  It was pouring rain and very windy.   They say, God loves the Giants, because the clouds parted and the sun came out.  

Here's Matt Cain the pitcher throwing in the bullpen to catcher Buster Posey.  My seats are located 8 rows from the field, so I have a great view of them and the game.

Opening Day ceremonies always include a flyover ... my favorite part!!! They fly so low it looks like you can reach out and touch them.  The noise is deafening!!  As Nick says, "the sound of freedom".
Matt pitched an almost perfect game ... only one hit for the Pirates ... we won 5-0!!!!!  When San Francisco wins, the song "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" sung by Tony Bennett, is played.  It's really something to sit there at the end of a good game and hear that song.  We usually walk back to Bart from the park,  a mile and a half, checking out the sites.  At this spot, you will find different statues about every 3 months ... from a really creepy spider, to ragae dancers made of auto parts to this rocket ship ... you never know what you are going to see.  (I-phone image)
Of course the Bay Bridge is always a photo op ... especially when there are clouds.
A great day watching great baseball in my favorite City by the Bay!!!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The End of the Story and a Couple Queens

Buttoning up the loose ends, the Tiffin Field Representative Scott will be at my home at 11:00 today to replace the engine cover in the bedroom portion of my new Phaeton, with approximately 10 screws.  I really didn't feel comfortable doing this one myself.  There is a rubber seal around the edge, and to say it's a tight fit is an understatement.  I suppose I will never have to gain access again, but I'm guessing SOMEONE will at some point ... personally, as well made as I think my coach is, this definitely needs some redesigning.  Tiffin and their employees however, need to be congratulated for providing plain old fashioned service, and going above and beyond!!!  They'll get lots of free advertisement from me!!!

On a lighter note, I just finished processing the images from the Cactus Queen Contest at the Gypsy Rally in Yuma Arizona.  Even though it was a month ago, I wanted to be sure these guys got their "due" for their performances ... or maybe just because they've got guts to stand up on stage dressed like this!!!  I apologize that I don't have names .... but they would probably rather you didn't know anyway!!  

And the Cactus Queen of 2012 is ...............  Nick looks a little scared!!!  

Until next time ............ 

Friday, April 6, 2012

California DMV Saga ... The End???

Four more phone calls ... I'm now waiting for Scott, Tiffin's Field Representative to arrive and see if he can access the engine through the floor panel in the bedroom of the Phaeton.  I'm feeling pretty bad that I couldn't seem to get the panel off.  After Scott had been here for 1-1/2 hours and was still trying to locate screws, I felt considerably better.

The main problem is this brace that is screwed down (6 screws were finally located) OVER the screw that holds the access panel down in that particular corner.
Once Scott finally got that removed, there were only two more well hidden screws to locate.  With two pry bars, he was finally able to get the cover off.  Now ... to put it back on and see if "I" can get it off when I go for my DMV appointment at 2:00.

Amazingly enough, DMV actually has one more (and only one) NICE employee.  I gave them all the paperwork submitted by Cummins showing EPA regulations had been met by that particular engine serial number located in that VIN #'d coach.  It was a no go ... they didn't care one bit about the paperwork.  They insisted that I remove the cover.   So out we went, where I had to remove the two screws Scott put back in ... except they went in to new holes and my little screwdriver wasn't going to budge them.  I consider myself pretty strong, but it took me a good fifteen minutes and all my strength to get them out.  The poor girl felt sorry for me and did everything she could to help.  FINALLY!!! EUREKA!!!  She got to see the sticker, and didn't even mind that she had to crawl on top of the engine to see it.  AND she apologized for the crappy people that work there.  The result???
YAY!!!!!!!!!  An end total of 28 phone calls and four trips to DMV and I got my registration.  So thank you to  Bob Tiffin (yup the one and only), Leroy, Ely, Robert, Karen, Larry, Don, Heath, Phil, Scott and all the others I talked to but forgot their names.  And Special Thanks to Scott, who not only got the cover off and is coming back to replace it, but gave me tons of new information about the coach .. things to do, things to learn and things to check.  You are a wonderful spokesperson for Tiffin!!!

Lesson learned .... never, ever, under any circumstances, ever buy an out-of-state vehicle and register it in California.  I'll MOVE first!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

California DMV Saga Continued

Now up to 22 phone calls ..... and countless hours .....

It seemed easy enough ... everyone said Cummins could send a duplicate sticker.  They won't.

It seemed easy enough ... just take the engine cover off (it's by the bed) to access the sticker.  Except you CAN'T get the cover off.  You have to practically dismantle the entire inside of the bedroom area ... and believe me, I have tried!!  My fingers are bloody from trying to find the screw heads in the carpet as there are numerous more staples that cut, than there are screws.  I've send numerous pictures to different people from San Diego and Davis California to Yuma Arizona to Red Bay Alabama.  All those service departments have said simply take the screws out.  Well there are braces on the bed that cover up the access cover and the closet frame overlaps the cover by about 1-1/2 inches.  Can you tell I'm totally frustrated yet????

This being my first motorhome purchase experience, it's an awful one ... even though everyone has been very nice about it and tried to help, I still have no sticker.  If someone could convince Miss DMV to crawl up under the coach and stand up next to the engine, she might find a black piece of tape covering the sticker.  Guess what my chances of that happening are ......

Since the local CHP office can sign off on this, I called them and explained my story.  Although sympathetic, like everyone else, they can't help.  She did suggest that maybe a letter from Cummins stating the VIN # and sticker # might do the trick.

Finally, in total desperation, I called Mr. Bob Tiffin, President of Tiffin Motorhomes.  To my utter surprise, he returned my call in 30 minutes.  After discussing what options I had, including driving 2-1/2 hours to the Davis Service Facility (not MY favorite unless they reimburse me $200 in fuel), he stated he would "get this taken care of one way or another".  Another 30 minutes and I received a call from Heath in Red Bay Alabama who stated they had been having these problems with California purchases.  He said a letter package had been sent to another California buyer, and although they did not have the results yet, he would certainly send ME the same package from Cummins in the hopes this would satisfy DMV.

Since the CHP office also seems to think that will work, it is my best option.  Maybe they will also pay for a massage, because at this point I've had a screaming headache on and off for three weeks over this problem.  I suppose I should have purchased this rig in California, although I doubt that would have made any difference.

I do love the RV ... it's gorgeous and has everything I wanted.  Up to the point of getting it registered, everything was hunky dory (that means great).  If there ever is another time, I guarantee I will take the risk and register it out of state using whatever means necessary.  If California loses the revenue, it's there own fault ... they deserve it!!!!!

Please GOD, just let me get the darn thing registered so I can get on with my life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

P.S.  Three more calls from Tiffin in Red Bay Alabama (25 now) ... a Tiffin representative will actually come to my house to remove the access cover (good luck with that!!) this Friday and hopefully stay while I drive to the local CHP office for the certification, then reset the cover and screw it back down for me.  Everyone keep their fingers crossed!!!!!!!!!!!!