Sunday, February 18, 2007

The 'new' car is purchased, now it's a race to Mexico

ELK GROVE, Calif. - After viewing several rolling wrecks to purchase, Camelia is the proud owner of a 1994 Isuzu Trooper, a very nicely maintained unit that was owned by a young family who were given a new van last year by some relatives and couldn't see keeping three cars and paying insurance. (They had the Trooper, a late-model pickup truck and the van.)

As an owner of three vehicles - two of which I washed yesterday - I can really relate.

Camelia and Dustin looked at several very used SUVs before we met up with the now-former owner of the Trooper in a parking lot south of Sacramento. The suburbs in the area where he lives are such a labyrinth that giving directions to your house - even with Mapquest - can be risky business indeed.

But the Safeway parking lot if a fine place to check out a car and after it was pronounced sound enough to get them to Mexico (where it will be used as Camelia's work car), the deal was struck and now it sits proudly in front of our Land Park casa.

Tomorrow the couple will be filling it up with things to take back to Mexico, including a large bag of our snorkeling gear and other supplies for our vacation in late March in Tenacatita Bay and Admiralty Beach.

Viva Mexico!

Camelia vamps in front of her new car
Camelia with her new car, which she has dubbed "Troopie."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The 'kids' come home from Mexico to car shop

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Son Dustin and his ladyfriend Camelia flew into San Francisco Thursday and are now diving into the SUV market in Sacramento to find a suitable vehicle for Camelia's very successful canvas business in Puerto Vallarta.

She has been bombing around in a VW bug for the past few years as she built the boat-based business up and now needs a new set of wheels.

Car shopping in 2007 - at least in 'for-sale-by-owner' category - has been made soooo much easier by Craig's List, the online service that has almost singlehandedly destroyed the classified advertising sections at many newspapers.

I mean, it's free for God's sakes and if you use the email function to contact owners, you don't even us up cell phone minutes.

I suppose it's a sign that Camelia and Dustin are referred to around the house as 'the kids.'

I wonder how the Admiral and I are referred to when we visit them in Mexico?

Hmmm.... Best not to dwell on that.

Camelia & Dustin search for cars
Camelia and Dustin search for cars

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Guiliani nearly declares at the GOP convention

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - It was all-out GOP politics Saturday as the faithful got ready to listen to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani speak at a luncheon, part of the state Republican Convention here this weekend.

Rudy Guiliani at California GOP convention
Rudy speaks the the GOP luncheon

The luncheon hall was packed with conventioneers and press, among whom I sat as a reporter for Reuters, hoping that Rudy would declare his formal entry into the race for president in 2008.

He didn't - though he came very close - and every time he asked the crowd if they would vote for him, they cheered wildly, much louder than they cheered the night before when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke at a dinner gathering of about 700 in the same Hyatt Regency Hotel ballroom in downtown Sacramento.

According to the reporters I talked with at the press gathering, Arnold got a very tepid response from the GOP, many of whom consider him a traitor for agreeing to compromise with Democrats on many issues. That compromising is what got him re-elected in November.

Rudy's speech said nothing about compromise and in his speech, he invoked Sept. 11 directly six times, Ronald Reagan at least as many, and he said that he supports the war in Iraq - and George Bush - completely.

If he runs - or should I say continues to run - his campaign is likely going to be based on keeping the nation safe from terrorists, with precious little offered on what the nation needs domestically. "The war on terrorism is our greatest concern," he said.

The ever-skeptical press pushed him as hard as they could in a press conference, during which he said that he had really already almost declared his candidacy.

But a reporter from the New York Daily News told me that there is no way that Rudy would ever formally declare his run for the presidency in California. He has to do that in New York so that his likely Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, gets the full brunt of the announcement. New York has a lot of electoral votes, too.

The food that was served at this GOP luncheon was an almost unrecognizable melange of chicken and pasta. The lunch served in the press lounge was probably a lot tastier - and it was free, too.

And my story for Reuters? Well, because Rudy (called "America's Mayor" by Bill Simon in the introduction) didn't actually declare his candidacy for president of the U.S. - or say anything directly bad about any of his potential Democratic opponents - my Los Angeles Reuters' editor said I didn't need to file a regular story, just a long package of quotes and observations that may eventually show up in future Reuters' stories when America's Mayor does make things more formal.

Story or not, Reuters will still cut me check for a pretty interesting day.

Rudy with supporters at Calif. GOP convention
Rudy with supporters at the GOP convention