Further up, further in

We spent an extra day in Summerland waiting for highways to be more agreeable up north. It was nice to have the down time and visit with our friends. I did make a run to Penticton for fuel and groceries with Abby. We had fun in the Walmart looking at the cute kid dresses and riding the cart.

I filled a propane bottle and felt as though I was getting ripped off. $33 for a 30 pound tank! They seem to charge different depending on how they fill the thing. Something I need to look into I suppose.

The time came for us to leave and I pushed the home button on the GPS for the first time in 7 months. We decided to make the last push and get home. Our renters were out of the house and it was too cold to stay in the trailer, so away we went.

It was 8:30 am when we started out and the GPS calculated we would be home at 10:30 that night. We always add a couple hours for pee and fuel stops so I was figuring around midnight. We took highway 97 north through Kelowna to Kamloops, fuelled up and pressed on to the Yellowhead to Jasper.

The weather was nice and sunny, around 10 degrees centigrade. We had driven the Yellowhead many times and enjoy the curves and mountain views. This road takes you right into the shadow of Mount Robson, the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies.

Unfortunately it was hidden in the clouds this time. Shortly afterwards we came to the Alberta border. The kids were super excited about this.

A slower drive through Jasper National Park and we were in Hinton for another fuel and food stop. We had to choose which way we would go from here. There is the narrow mountain route through Grande Cache or the slightly longer way through Whitecourt. I checked the highway reports and the weather and decided to take the longer way. It was 7:30 when we departed from Hinton and was smooth sailing for about an hour.

We hit a crazy snow storm just before Whitecourt. On a normal day it is about three hours to home from there. Not tonight. I don’t think I have ever driven in such crappy conditions. Especially not with a trailer attached.

After struggling through slush, white outs, cross winds and idiot drivers, we pulled into our drive way at about 3 am….and got stuck. Not stuck close to the house, but at the end of our rather lengthy driveway. We just completed a 7 month, 18,000 km (11,000 mile) drive with no incidents, only to get stuck 500′ from our house.

It’s ironic, but seriously there is like 4 feet of snow and the driveway is narrow. Plus I was super tired and made a mistake. We are super grateful that we didn’t ditch on the highway somewhere, but now we are trapped in our yard until I can get the trailer free.

The bus was stuck too, but I managed to get it free and down the driveway to the house and we slept on the floor as we have no furniture. The kids are really happy to be back and that they have a mountain of snow to play in.

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Canada, we missed you! (Except it’s so cold)

March 25-26

After watching the weather for the last few days we decided it was time to go. We were sad to leave John and family, but we can’t stay forever.

We crossed the border at Sumas/Abbotsford with no trouble at all. The kids were so happy to be back that they sang “O Canada”.

We stopped in Chilliwack to say hi to my mom and made for the Coquihalla Highway. The forecast was calling for a lot of rain in the lower mainland of B.C. and we wanted to get over the summit before that.

Well, it snowed and the wind blew, but the road was good and we arrived in Merritt around 4:30 pm. The Walmart here is one of the few that welcome RVers to stay and so we did.

The wind blew all night and I had to hook up the generator as our battery was not up to the task of running the furnace all night.

The temperature stayed around freezing, but the wind cuts right through. I went into the Walmart for some breakfast muffins and asked the clerk if it was always windy here and she said the wind meant spring was here. Not sure I believe her.

I checked the weather and road reports again and we were looking good for our destination of Summerland. Sounds dreamy. We were on the road by 8:30, climbing over another mountain pass.

Little did I know that highway 97c in B.C. was crazy way to go, especially in March. The summit was 5669 feet! And of course it snowed.

There were times visibility was next to nothing. The steep bits we crawled up in second gear keeping pace with the big trucks. Going down I let the engine slow is as I was concerned stepping on the brakes too hard would put us into a slide. Fortunately it wasn’t long on the downhill before we were out of the snow.

Okanagan Lake was beneath us and we followed it’s shores south to get to Summerland. Not so summery I have to say. But we are set up for the night at a friends house and we will see what tomorrow brings.

Hanging with John

(March 14-24)

We are in Washington state near Bellingham for the last week visiting with our friend John and his family. We first met John back in Arizona and adopted each other as family.

John has taken us site seeing to a couple of beaches and other touristy attractions. We’ve shared several meals with his family and have formed a lifelong friendship.

Canada is an hour away from here, but we are waiting for a break in the weather to head for home (13 hours driving according to google maps) as they are getting a dump of snow currently.

Oregon…and Beyond!

(Note: this was March 10-13)

We left the Walmart in Willow California ready to face the ‘scary ‘ mountain pass that everyone was warning me about. I had checked the weather and the road reports and we had a window of opportunity to drive through in good conditions.

Mount Shasta loomed on the horizon, a majestic white pillar beckoning us northward. We stopped at the rest area near Weed, which is in the shadow of the mountain and took some really great photos.

The pass wasn’t all that terrible, seemed less crazy than the pass into Bakersfield. I did see snow in the ditches and understand why it can be treacherous, but it was enjoyable.

We stopped mid afternoon at the Valley of the Rogue state park in Oregon. They had a campground there and we decided to stop for the night with hookups. I figure all the money we saved staying at Walmart the previous two nights we could splurge.

We ended up staying two days. We needed the rest and the kids were excited to play on grass again. Too much time cooped up in the bus made them a little wild. The park was beautiful and quiet. Just what we needed.

The following day we made a quick stop at a Walmart to restock and back on the I5 north. We wanted to get past Portland. I realized the interstate took us right past Mount St Helens and that was my goal. There is a state park close to there and that was the destination.

Portland is a beautiful city. Lots of crazy bridges, I really have no idea how high we were over the river but it was nuts. Three levels of cars plus height for boats and we were on the top in stop and go traffic, a little unnerving.

We made it through and into Washington state. A short drive later and we arrived at the park. Mount St Helens was visible as we drove in, but we didn’t take any pictures. We settled in for the night under a clear starry sky. It is a beautiful place, not busy as there were only three other trailers.

Tomorrow? We hope to meet up with our good friend John.

On our way

(Note: I’m behind on my posts. This happened a March 7-9)

We left the sunny state of Arizona with a mix of excitement and sadness. We loved our time there and all the friends we made, but are also ready to see what lies ahead.

Apparently it is California. We crossed into the state on I40 after topping up with fuel and a quick lunch. We decided to travel with the family we met up with in Parker and over half the kids rode in their class A.

There was a rather pointless stop at an inspection station shortly after crossing. The bored looking guy asked where we came from and waved us through. We had heard that they had a thing about citrus crossing into California and were all prepared to surrender our single lemon, but he didn’t ask.

Then it was a whole lot of uphill. The summit was 3900 feet if I remember correctly and we had a head wind to contend with to boot. Then it was a lot of downhill into the valley and Bakersfield, which was our destination.

We camped out at the local Walmart, a first for us. I can’t say I was overly excited about it. The lot was noisy most of the night and I had a hard time sleeping. But it is convenient to have a grocery store outside your front door.

The next day was much easier driving through the valley. It was nice to see all the orchards , a lot of which are in bloom. It did feel, however, like we were driving through a city for five hours. We stopped at another Walmart in the little town of Willow north of Sacramento (which was a little crazy) and had a much nicer night.

We had said goodbye to our friends as they were planning to spend some time in California and travelled here on our own. Our next stop, Oregon.

London Bridge….and Uranus

A few of us took a trip into Lake Havasu City today to have a look around with our a couple friends from BC (Marideth and Laurel stayed back with the dog).  The drive to Lake Havasu City from Parker is spectacular; it reminds me of the Fraser Canyon in British Columbia. Lake Havasu itself is spread out over a long distance and is definately a tourist destination.

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Missing Marideth

The drawing feature of this town is the London Bridge.  Apparently a developer brought the bridge over from London and reassembled it back in the sixties.  I had no idea it was here until our friend John mentioned it a couple months back.  I have to say it is a sight to see.

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Titus at the Channel watching the ducks.
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We walked over to the other side

The area along the channel under the bridge is very nice, and it’s free!  There is lots of areas to walk around and enjoy the bridge and water without having to spend anything.  I did’t get to read all the plaques and signs as we had Titus with us, and he’s three…and busy.

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A fountain in the middle of London Square.

We had a good time wandering around and will definately be back.  After we got home, and after supper we got to see Uranus in the west above the setting sun.  First time I’ve seen that!

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Uranus is right in the middle between the power lines.

We are here for another day and then we are going to give dry camping a go on the other side of Lake Havasu City.

On The Road Again

There was a show on the CBC when I was a kid called “On the Road Again with Wayne Rostad” and the theme song from that show was playing in my brain all night last night.

“Here we are, here we go / down the highway down the road. / Hello neighbors, hello friends / here we are on the road again!” At least that’s how I remember it.

As you can probably guess we hit the road today.  We’ve been stationary since the American Thanksgiving and I think we have missed it a little bit.

It took us two days to get everything put away and the rig ready to roll again.  We had a lot of great people to say goodbye to and I have to say that we will look back on our time in Huachuca City with great fondness.

It was a long travel day today.  We left at around 10:30 am drove just over 500 km to get here by 5:30 pm.  Lots of really cool scenery to look at and the weather was fantastic (above 20 degrees celcius).  The wind did pick up this afternoon and made driving a bit more difficult, but not crazy.

We met up some friends at the RV park and will be here for a couple of days.  We can see California out the window and there is an orange tree beside us with fruit on it.  Needless to say the kids are quite excited.  We are looking forward to exploring the area as we begin our journey home.

Hope you all have a great night and thanks for stopping by.IMG_0779

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All Good Things…

Our time here is quickly coming to an end.  We have a week left before we start making our way home.  It is hard to believe that we’ve been here for three months already.  Our time here has been amazing and will be with us for a long time. It will be hard to say goodbye.

We have mixed feelings about leaving. We’ve built so many great relationships and have grown extremely comfortable here. In a sense we feel like this is home. At the same time there is an overall feeling of restlessness among all of us. A desire to get back on the road and have some more adventure.

This week has been spent getting the vehicle ready for the drive back.  We had the windshield replaced in Sierra Vista, and had the oil changed in Huachuca City. I flushed out the hot water tank and installed a new anode rod. This is something we have never dealt with as we hardly used our trailer before this year and it showed.

I will be doing the vinegar flush when we get home to get rid of the rest of the scale.

We will spend the next few days cleaning out the bus and trailer, trying to get everything back in it’s home. We also need to decide which way we are going home. The weather is probably the biggest factor we have to consider. Currently we are leaning towards the west coast route but still have some planning to do.

Made this in the instant pot the other night. Probably the best meal we’ve made with that thing since we acquired it. http://pressureluckcooking.com/recipe/instant-pot-steak-tidbits/

I hope to have more frequent updates and posts as we travel. Until next time…

Wind and Fire (Plus a new alternator)

It’s been a blustery few days here in south east Arizona. Gusts are nearly 50 km/h from the south west and rocking the trailer.

A fire started on the mountains to the north east of us the other afternoon. I’m happy that the wind was blowing the smoke away from us. By the next morning it had burned itself out and we could hardly tell anything had happened.

We drove to Sierra Vista to get groceries and let the kids play at the playground the other morning. My battery light had been coming on intermittently for a week or so, but this day it stayed on and the volt meter started to drop.

A little google searching and a strong hunch led me to believe that my alternator is faulty. Turns out the Ford Diesel engine we have has two alternators and the bottom one has a cracked casing. Called to parts store and have one on order for the following morning.

I spent about five hours switching out that alternator. When I got the old one out it was seized right up, glad I didn’t lose my belt! Getting the thing in there was tricky as it was wedged between the frame and the steering linkage, but I’m creative and “Tetrised” it in there. Test drive into town and back and everything seems to be working normally. Yay!! I neglected to take any pictures, but it was boring so here are some sunset pics instead.

Laundry Day – and “what’s that in the hose?”

Today was laundry day, also known as drudgery day according to our neighbours down the street. We’ve put the drudgery off for a few extra days and it sure piled up. We took it into Sierra Vista to the laundromat as the park here is full and finding the machines available is like winning the lottery (or you have to go in the middle of the night).

All total we had nine loads. The machines we used were all double or triple loaders so we would have been all day here. It was really good to get that all done and we have grand intentions of downsizing the craziness some more.

The other fun thing involved dumping the tanks today. I generally have to dump the black tank every other day. I went and pulled the valve and went to have a chat with our neighbour while gravity did all the work. I came back to find this (look away if you are squeamish):

What the heck is that??

I didn’t want to try and flush that down the line and cause a blockage so we had to open the hose and not spill on the ground. A box and a garbage bad did the trick.

It was a bread bag. I figure that our three year old was having some ‘me’ time in the bathroom and flushed that. Makes me wonder what else he’s disposed of.

Crisis averted, laundry done. Good day.