They Let Us In

Well actually the Border Patrol Officer was really nice.  She didn’t ask us any questions that got us in trouble and actually wished us a good trip and warm winter.  It was nice to hear the personnel comments as you often only get “Business” from them.

We left Saskatoon on Monday morning, November 13 and finally pulled into our winter spot around lunchtime yesterday Sunday, November 19.  It was a long 7 days.  You don’t really get to see much when travelling on the Interstate Highway System.  Basically there are lots of lanes going through the major cities often accompanied by construction which slows everything down.

Here is a synopsis of what we encountered on each day of our trip.  If you want to see the locations we stopped at, head on over to our “Where We Are” page. Here you can click the box for the year you are interested in and see our progress.

Day 1:

Left Saskatoon around 9:30 AM and stopped at the Manitoba Welcome Centre about 6 hours later.  The road conditions were good except between Regina and White City.  Here it was foggy which seemed to make the road damp. Temperature was +4.

Day 2:

Left the Visitor Centre around 9:00 AM with the temperature at +1.  There was melting ice on the windshield which makes me think there was more fog during the night.  As we entered North Dakota the fog returned.  At times we think the visibility was down to ½ KM. It was an overcast dreary day with the temperature varying between -4 and +4. We stopped for the night around 5:00 PM at Elm River Visitor Centre, just north of Fargo ND.

Day 3:

The south half of North Dakota has no snow in the fields.  In South Dakota the farmers are out in their fields harvesting corn.  This is corn country.  It is everywhere.  Some of the other fields and some of the ditches are green.  We had a gusty tail wind today which helped with the fuel economy and the temperature was -5.  Last night wasn’t very restful as we had semi tractors on each side of us with their engines running all night long.  We also ran out of propane last night.  We woke up to +3 in the camper instead of +13.  I quickly went out and switched propane tanks and went back to bed for an hour until everything warmed up.  We are in Sioux City for the night and then will be heading west.  The wildlife has been sparse and fields have turned to rolling hills with cows everywhere.

Incredible sunsets

Day 4:

Got on the road about 8:30 this morning and passed through Omaha and then headed west.  There seems to be more traffic east/west than we experienced north/south.  We turned south near York and stopped for the night just north of McPherson Kansas after about 8 hours driving.  The temperature ranged from -3 to +16 and we had a slight head wind. Still lots of cows and corn. The fields are green and the Department of Transport is out mowing the ditches.  We must be south enough the farmers are getting two crops per year.

Day 5:

Travelled through Kansas and Oklahoma today.  The soil has turned a red colour.  Much like a red fired brick. We are in oil country as you can see the oil pumps in the fields. We had a head wind today and started the day out at +16. We have stopped in the north part of Texas. A little short of where we wanted to end up.  This is because I like to travel in the right (slow) lane and the exit to go around Oklahoma city is on the left.  With the amount of traffic, I was unable to switch over 3 lanes in time to make the exit.  This added about an hour as we snaked back around the various exits and entrances on the Interstate so we were heading in the right direction again.  We saw a couple of bad car accidents and our first cotton field. This morning was cloudy, the afternoon was clear blue skies.

Welcome to Texas

Texas Tail Wind

Day 6:

More accidents in the ditch and on the road today which slowed us down.  No ambulances were seen so luckily it was only a loss of property.  We saw the results of a crash going north at Fort Worth where the 4 lanes of traffic stopped, for at least 10 miles. There was a lot of construction in Austin, slowed us again.  We started at +16 and when we stopped it was +29.

Day 7:

Started the day at +13 and pulled into the park around 12:30 with +20 degrees.  We had sunny skies and a strong tail wind.  As we approached Harlingen it started to get cloudy with a cool breeze.  Today was all about Palm trees, Prickly pear, sand and butterflies.

The total distance of our journey was 3890 KMs and if you add 22¢ to the american dollars we spent, the average fuel cost was 92.9 ¢/l.

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T – 17 Hours

We mentioned in our last post and tweet that the RV is sitting in the driveway.  Over the last few days it has slowly gotten packed.  We like to take our time with this task because as soon as you sit down and relax, you think of something else to pack.

Well the time is really here, we are pulling out tomorrow.  As far as we know everything that we need for the next 6 months is packed.  We won’t really know for sure until we set the jacks down and unhook the truck. That won’t happen for 4 or 5 days.  Of course there are the very last-minute things to put away, our tooth brushes, our lunch and thermos of coffee. Those will get stored away in the morning.

We were able to sit and watch the CFL West and East semi final playoff games today.  Between games and half times a few more things were put away.  I am sure during the evening we will think of other items we have forgotten.

Anything we remember once we get into the truck will not disrupt our plans because it is time to fish or cut bait.  We are going to be on the road tomorrow morning, headed toward Winnipeg. We should be crossing the USA border on Tuesday and then it is pretty much straight south to Texas.

We can’t wait to get behind the wheel.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said:

To talk of many things: Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–Of cabbages–and kings–and why the heck we are still here in cold Saskatchewan.  Here is the latest in our continuing saga of RV repair.

Our RV left the factory last week, either Monday or Tuesday, and was expected to be back in Saskatoon on Thursday Nov. 2nd.  Well who would know the bad weather we were receiving was also affecting the northern United States.  We got a call from our local dealer that the transport driver had to slow down in Minnesota because of bad weather and not to expect delivery until Friday Nov. 3rd.  On Friday we got another call from our dealer stating that our driver was stuck in a snow storm in North Dakota and not to expect anything until Monday.  The Waiting continues.

On Sunday (yesterday) we were out and about and decided to drive by our local dealer.  Lo and behold, there in their parking lot was our RV.  Guess where I was at 8 A.M. this morning.  After a few questions at the dealership I was ready to hook up and get our home away from home parked in our drive way so it could be prepared for warmer climates.  While at the RV I noticed a few things missing.  One was the teflon disk that goes on the king-pin and more alarming, were the missing batteries.  Without the batteries there was no way to raise or lower the front of the RV to get hooked up or power anything in the unit.

After a little more investigation we found out the batteries had been removed before our unit left for Indiana.  They had been stored in a shed outside the RV dealership.  Close examination showed that both batteries were frozen. Solid. Things were going from bad to worse.  After a little discussion two new batteries and a new teflon disk was installed.  A few minutes later, I was pulling into our cul-de-sac and was thankful there were no cars parked at the end of the road as I need all the space I can get to back the unit into our driveway.

So there it sits in our drive way.  Waiting to be loaded with everything we need for extended use.  We estimate it will take at least a couple of days for us to be ready and then we can be on with our adventure.  We are also looking at the long-range weather.  There seems to be a warm-up toward the weekend and Monday looks pretty good.  So we could be on the road next Monday and sitting on the beach by Friday.

Can’t wait.

We Have Been Asked

Over the last week or so the weather has begun to dip, often freezing at night.  The days are becoming shorter and we have had to find the jackets that were hiding in the back of the closet all summer long. I have also been forced to start wearing long pants, again☹️.  Over the last week we have been getting asked a number of questions, all with the same theme.  How is the packing going? Have you left yet?  When are you heading south?  The short answer is, no, we haven’t left yet but hope to be on the road soon.

To fill in some of the details, here is a short explanation of our situation.  When we returned home in the spring of 2016 we dropped the RV at our dealer to have some repair work done.  It seems that repairs are very common with RVs, as you drive, twist and bounce your home on wheels down less that perfect roads. At that time we reported the floor near our from door was a little soft and spongy.  This is a known manufacturer defect for our model year and we wanted to know if this is what we had.  I was told by the warranty representative that it wasn’t bad and not to worry about it.  Well during our travels last winter, this soft floor got softer and softer.  At times I wondered if my foot would break through the floor.

Upon our return in April 2017 we again took our unit in for repairs and pointed out our soft floor issue.  This time our local RV dealership agreed that the floor was bad and contacted the trailer manufacturer on our behalf.  Well our local guy couldn’t or wasn’t able to make the repairs so it was agreed that the unit would go back to the manufacturer for repair.  Keep in mind the manufacturer is in Indiana. We didn’t think it would be a problem as it was late April or early May and we wouldn’t need the RV back until the first part of October so we could leave by the end of the month. Unfortunately we couldn’t get time at the factory until the middle of September.  But we were assured that there still would be time to get our unit back for our November 1 departure.  What could we do, we were over a barrel.

Our RV left Saskatoon a week or so before it was scheduled to arrive in Indiana and about a week after the repair date we had been given, I made a call to the factory and was advised things had gotten backed up and our unit hadn’t even been looked at yet.  Great. It would probably be another two weeks. It goes without saying, no one in this house was happy about the news.  After pleading of our case, explaining our situation and reminding them of the dates we were given, I phoned back a week later to go over the work order.  I am happy to report the floor has been repaired and the loose floor covering was reinstalled.  In the process, all our plumbing problems were repaired.  Last week, Thursday October 19, the factory advised me the order was placed to have our unit shipped back to our local dealer.  However, no one is now able to tell us where the unit is.  We don’t know if it is still in Indiana, is on the road to Saskatoon or sitting in our dealers lot.  So we are in a holding pattern until we get our RV back in our driveway. Then it will be “run around like crazy” re-packing everything and doing those last-minute chores like purchasing travel insurance, US currency and US phone plans. I think if we get out-of-town before the end of next week we will be lucky, but who knows, the RV might still show up this week. 🤞🤞

On a more positive note we had a great summer and hope you did to.  We were able to get all the home projects completed that were thought up during our winter sojourn.  In fact we got a few more completed that weren’t even on the list.  We were able to enjoy the warm weather, sitting on the deck, watching the bird population that calls our backyard home, drinking a cool beverage while having something hot off the grill.  We were also able to resume our regular coffee hookups visiting friends at what has become our regular coffee hangout.  All in all it was great.  Life is good.

We are going to miss the good times we had this summer but are prepared for new adventures this winter (fingers crossed) and revisiting friends and family when we return in April.

Have a great winter.  Stay warm, I know we will.

Bev and Richard.

16,000 Kms Later

That’s right, we travelled over 16,000 Kms this winter.

As a quick wrap up to our journey, we left Boulder City NV on Sunday, April 9th and ended up at a  Flying J Travel Centre in Nephi UT for the night. On Monday, April 10 we continued on I-15 and ended up at a highway rest stop just south of Butte MT.  On April 11 we crossed back into Canada (🇨🇦whoop, whoop🇨🇦) at Sweetgrass MT, continued north to Taber AB and then we turned right on the number 3 highway to Medicine Hat AB.  We stopped for the night at the Alberta Information booth in Walsh AB. You guessed it, on April 12th we pulled into the driveway in Saskatoon.

These last few days have shown us a vast change in scenery.  We started out in the desert and ended up going through the mountains and seeing green planted fields.  The mountain gorges were something to be seen.  As we approached another mountain range it would look like the road just disappeared into the face of the mountain.  But as we got closer, you could see the road snaked through a gorge that a river had carved out.  One canyon that we particularly enjoyed was the Virgin River canyon in Arizona.  It is well worth seeing.

The farther we travelled north the scenery changed again to what you expect to see in the late winter/early spring.  The fields were bare and on the shadow side of hills we would often see snow.  The population also seemed to decrease.  There were fewer cars and trucks on the road.  The Interstate exits became farther apart and the exit signs less informative.  I really had to keep an eye on the fuel gauge and Bev an eye on the map so we were aware of potential fuel stops.  Typically as we approached a city we would see separate signs telling us what exit had lodging, which one had food and which one had fuel.  These might all be the same exit or different ones, depending on the size of the city/town.  Now we are just seeing a sign announcing the next exit is number whatever, with no indication of the services available. We needed to be on our game.

All in all it was a good trip home.  We were ready to come home and now we have most of the important tasks that needed to be done right away all wrapped up.  We are patiently waiting the warmer temperatures.  It isn’t so bad now that I have gotten used to long pants again.

To wrap up, we had a wonderful winter.  So much so, we are going to do it again in 2017.  We have seen some wonderful and very interesting places and have met some very friendly people.  Some were even from Saskatchewan. To somewhat complicate things we have reserved 5 months on South Padre Island, we liked it so much.  We have also reserved 2 months in Tucson, we liked it so much as well.  I am not sure how this will play out.  We will either spend the whole time in south Texas or split our time between the two places. I guess you and I will have to wait and see.

Have a great summer, we hope you enjoyed our ride.  We sure did.

Bev & Richard

 

 

Getting Ready To Go

Today is another pseudo rest day.  We didn’t actually go anywhere today except to get fuel and provisions for our trip home.  Bev figures it will take 4 or 5 days to get back into Saskatoon so during that time we like to have everything we need for the journey (food, water and snacks).  So, although we didn’t go anywhere we were busy cleaning up, getting ready for our long trip home.

But yesterday, was another story.  We took the opportunity to drive around Lake Mead, well part of it anyways.  This was through the Lake Mead Recreational Area.  We started close to Hoover Dam and worked our way around the west side of the lake, taking in Boulder Beach, Hemenway Harbour and Callville Bay.  These are located in the Boulder Basin.  We then travelled northeast to Echo Bay in the Overton Arm of the lake.  It was interesting that only one of these places had a working boat launch.  All the other boat launches ended on dry land, nowhere near the water.

We exited the Recreational Area in the north and entered the Valley of Fire State Park.  This is a definite place to visit.  The rock formations were outstanding.  As before the pictures don’t do the landscape justice.  If only our eyes were cameras.   The person who helped us at the Boulder City Visitor Centre as well as the Park Warden both suggested we visit the Elephant Rock, the  White Domes, Arch Rock and the Beehives in the park.  We did and they were outstanding.  There is lots of hiking here and it is quite easy walking on the sandstone rocks.  In some of the photographs, if you look close, you can see people in the background.  It gives you a sense of perspective.

You may ask why the park is named “Valley of Fire”?  By the time we got there it was later in the afternoon.  Because some red rocks have a black or darker surface, with the late afternoon sun, it looked like they were glowing.  I can’t describe it any better than that so if you want to experience what we saw, you will have to come and visit for yourself.

One final note about the weather.  When we were at Hoover Dam the truck thermometer was registering 30℃, Friday we were seeing 28℃. Bev mentioned that last Friday while we were in Williams, it was snowing.  We have seen quite a change.

Here are a few of the sights we saw.  Hope you enjoy.

This isn’t elephant rock, but if you look real close, on top, you might see a baby elephant.

Spooky faces?

Some colour in the desert.

Contrasting colour.

Elephant Rock. The web has a better picture taken from the other side. I guess I missed out.

Twisty road.

Colour in the sand.

White Domes. See the hiker near the top?

More colour.

Beehives.

See the hiker?

One Huge Dam

The last post was titled “Slow Down and Catch Up”. We have been at Canyon Trail RV Park since Tuesday.  We took yesterday off to do just that, slow down and catch up.  It seems we have been constantly on the go the last little while and I had a pile of pictures to review.

Today we were back at being  tourists, we headed back down the highway to the Hoover Dam.  Here is another link for the dam.  The other day we were at the beginning of Lake Mead, today we were at the end.  We couldn’t find any parking close to the visitor centre on the Nevada side of the lake so we drove across the dam and parked for free, but some distance from the action, on the Arizona side.

I walked back across the dam and snapped a few photos.  I also walked across the new traffic bridge which provided a great view of the dam.  Here are some pictures you might enjoy.

The Arizona Spillway, overflow side.

The Arizona Spillway, lake side.

There is also a spillway on the Nevada side.  They are used to divert excess water that the dam can’t handle.  You will notice a white section around Lake Mead, this is the high water line.  There has been an extended drought which has lowered the lake by almost 50 metres, hence the bathtub ring. But when full, the lake would have enough water to cover the entire state of Pennsylvania to a depth of 1 foot. Reading the information plaques around the dam, these spillways have only needed to be used in 1983.

Spillway tunnel to the Colorado

When the water does flow over the spillway, it has to get back to the Colorado River.  These tunnels allow that to happen.  The plaques mention that this tunnel, as well as the one on the Nevada side, can handle the same amount of water as that flowing over Niagara Falls.

Arizona Intake Tower

There are two more towers on the Nevada side of the lake. A picture of the dam, shows a full lake and the water level is way up the tower, close to the horizontal walkway.

A look down the lake

A look down the Colorado River

View of the dam from the highway.