Frugal RVing In South States - Ebooks

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Betrayed by the weatherman!!

What a sneaky thing to do to the unwitting, innocent people of this region.

We started this morning with the most hopeful signs of things to come. By the time I went for my usual 10 am walk, it was so warm (+ 9 celsius) that I debated even wearing a jacket. I decided to wear a wind shell over a sweater, but even that was tied at my waist by the time I was only about 2 blocks out. Even the wind was gentle and warm.

At long last, the dreaded white dump of December 12 was nearly gone, with only the deepest and most glaciated or sun sheltered patches clinging to their hold on our should be "northern snowbird haven".

I was duped!!!

By 2 pm the clouds started to accumulate, and the temperature cooled rather quickly, but it was still springish. By 3 it was definitely an ominous sky, and by 3:30, the use of four letter words were unavoidable.

Snow ........................ Hail ........................... Cold ................................ Wind

(See how high the drift is? The only reason the path is clear is that I shoveled it)

I know the use of 4 letter words is inappropriate for net pages, but what can you do??

By supper time, we had to put the dog out on an unavoidable business trip, and already, there was a 2 to 3 inch accumulation in the yard. Worse still, I took out the shovel to push enough aside to create a path for his duties, and found a snow drift that was closer to a foot deep.

We had a white-out blizzard, and here we are on the brink of March. Yet again, the locals tell how this is unprecedented weather we are having. (One does tire of hearing that when in relation to the down side of the forecasts.....)

How cruel a trick to put on the weather weary soles of the Canadian escaping winter while remaining in country.

However, even now I say that if you do stay in Canada for snowbirding, the South Okanagan is the most logical. It is half the cost of the Lower Mainland or Vancouver Island, and we still fared better overall than they did during the worst of it, and far far better than staying in other regions not so kind in climate.

Hopefully, tomorrow will bring a hasty thaw to the weather of today in the meantime, I bid you,


Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Things You Miss...

This is a thought I meant to post about a week ago, but unfortunately due to a net connection failing which could not be foreseen..... I was a bit distracted..... (but I digress.....)

As mentioned in an earlier post, my neighbour and I have been going out for a morning walk. We started just after New Year - though we haven't called it an act of "resolution" as that would condemn the venture as unworthy to continue beyond the first week.

We originally took a Westward direction, and looped about on a 4 mile route, but we have since redirected our sojourn such that it excluded as much sidewalk-less roads as possible. We now walk along the walk/cycle route beside the river. We have done this now, continuously since early January.

Funny thing, about a week and a half ago I was walking with Ken as my regular pal was entertaining out of town guests. Ken and I walked the same route that she and I had walked for weeks.....

So can you explain to me how we missed these two shots below??? (The shots were taken a couple days later when I remembered the camera)

This is just off the path to the west, and the second is a closer up shot. The first shot shows that there is almost no support from the tree next to it, and the second shot shows how little is holding it from below.

I have to say, that must be the hardest of hardwood I have ever seen. There can't be more than 3 inches of wood left to hold the tree up, yet it continues to be standing. (Today we noted that it looks like the "worker" had resumed duties recently as the grayed out trunk wood had some fresher looking wood and chips about it.)

This is another trunk (along the bank near center on this side of the river) that apparently, the parks workers decided to take down on their own before the beaver could finish the contract.

Now this next shot came about as we expanded our route beyond the end of the paved route, and further out onto the still under construction portion of the route. Again, we had walked the path a couple times before this sight jump up at us.........

I am really curious how in the middle of winter in the middle of the Okanagan, one can walk past an area 4 of 5 times, and completely miss a couple of giraffes standing in the field.....

As I ponder these quandries, I will bid you...

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Trained professionals

The internet was down again until about 2:30, so we decided to get away from the frustration of the ever failing services.

Earlier this year, we went with a tour group from the RV park to take in the Desert Model Railroad. Their work is true devotion to a craft (and a source for this post's pun)
When we went the last time, there were lots of people there, and so it was harder to take it all in. This time, we were there with only 5 other people present, and we could take our time and take some time to get the shots we wanted.

The owners have been working on this set for 8 years, and have about another 3 years worth to complete this project. It runs through a lighting cycle that replicates night and day, and there are multiple trains running through the scenery, as well as a few spots where cars run on magnetic roads.

The intricacy of their work is amazing. You can go to this place many times and see something new each time. This is one place that I consider a must see if you come to this region. I'm sure that their posted pictures on the web page are fabulous, but I am also posting 4 of my own shots, as well as linking you to my web album of the day's adventures. I hope you enjoy them.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Thaws About Spring..

We have had several nice days, and the lingering snow is slowly fading. We still get the dips at night, and the days are not yet double digit, but it is a vast improvement over the past few weeks.

We are starting to work on early bird tweakings on the rig. Ken is able to be out in the workshop trailer more, and longer, so it helps him to feel productive.

It is still too early to finish repatching the roof as we would like it to be warmer so the stick holds better. We are taking some more things to storage, and giving other things to family. I am getting ready to crate the winter gear soon to also land in storage.

I am continuing to thin the clutter and restore order to the interior. - What is it about horizontal surfaces?? Just because they exist, doesn't mean they must be buried!!

The DVD collection has built somewhat over the winter, so I am doing a complete resort on the file system. At the advice of a fellow RV full timer, I switched my storage system from binders to these neat little storage crates.

These are awesome units that hold 200 disks each, and unlike the binder system, they don't put undue stress, pressure, or weight on the disks.

I have 3 of them, but as mentioned, the additions have made the organization less user friendly to my hubby. I have them on a directory that I print out and keep on the DVD player.

As for the winter goals and objectives, we have done fairly well. Remember, we are still considered rookies in this full timing process, and we had a lot of things still needed when we landed here. Since we arrived in Oliver we have:

  • Picked up a couple moped style scooters for effective puttering on sites.
  • Bought a diesel generator for when we are dry camping.
  • Picked up a couple kayaks for water puttering.
  • Ken has now wired the utility trailer so that you can plug in at RV sites and putter as he sees fit
  • Purchased a 100 pound propane cylinder with multi-valve so refueling can be done at the auto-propane sites at half the cost of weighed barbecue cylinder refuel locations
  • Purchased skirting for the trailer to reduce heat loss when setting up for extended times
  • Purchased a digital picture frame so our photo gallery can be as extensive as we please while still taking only one small space on the wall.
  • Replace the washing dryer so that laundry can be done whenever we need to.
I think that is all at this time, but we are also tweaking the thinning down we have done as we kept some things in the utility trailer that we no longer require, and some things are also being thinned out of the storage facility.

I had been using a small chest freezer stored under the nose of the rig, but have now chosen to give it up too. We are very close to facilities here, and even if we find ourselves more remotely placed on some of our explorations, I won't be able to tow it with me anyway, so I might as well get used to its absense.

I am amazed, however how easily one can find ones self trenched into a site. If we were to decide to pull out, it would take me a couple days to figure out how to compact and stabilize the contents for movement.

That is actually part of my spring cleaning that I am undertaking. The more I take care of now, the less I will struggle with come time to move along.

And so the clutter calls, and I bid you...


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wi-fi Woes II - the sequel.

If you are a follower of my posts, welcome back. I have been absent several days due an acute recurrence of wi-fi woes. As the remedy I will be attempting to use has not yet crossed the border, the suffering continues. I look forward to its arrival with great anticipation.

I'm not sure, however, if it would assist in this recent infection. The connection was shaky last week, and after a brief login on Friday morning, we dashed off to Penticton again for an appointment for the truck the local Dodge dealership. We weren't concerned, as we would tend to any emails and make a posting on the blog once we got home....... (is that a suspense filled music I hear in the background??)

So we returned in time for a late supper, and then we set about completing the morning efforts of following up on emails and such things.... you know, the usual, banking, checking on progress of online orders, perhaps skyping family and friends, and of course, updating the immense gathering of online readers who are chewing their nails in eager anticipation of the next episode of that riveting series, "Life On Our Ark". (Okay, slight exaggeration, but we will get there!!) :-) .....I digress.

We tried connecting...............

Eh hem..... I said, we tried connecting.....

Hello... (you get the picture) It is after 6 pm on Friday night. The last time the service went down on Friday night, it lasted the whole weekend, so I called the host at her rig to see what was up. ... And by an amazing coincidence, we were again down for the weekend. Apparently, we were waiting for a part to come in, but the tech was unavailable until Monday as he doesn't work weekends. A true professional, to be sure...

So Monday approaches with a pace that resembled reverse. When they finally got a hold of him, he said that the part came in on Friday, and that he would be along shortly to install it. I think it was close to 3 pm when he got there, 3:30 before it was confirmed to be running, and after all that, it is now an unsecured site where before the had added security. I believe that they are planning to correct that part of the matter today as the lady at the desk was displeased when I notified her of the difference.

Although we are provided the service for free, it is advertised as a feature of the site. It is also one of 2 reasons I picked the location. (50 amp power and internet being the biggest lures to choosing them over all the other options in the South Okanagan.)

So at some point today I hope to discuss with the manager what can be done about it, as it has now been over several whole weekends, and many individual days that we have experienced these outages, and I hope that they would find some way to compensate.

So the battle cry is heard again over the sunny valley (but hey, the sun is a positive...),"Charge!!!!!" or should I say, "reduce charge!!" As always, I will keep you posted on the outcome.....

But for now, I bid you....


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Time Out In Penticton

We went to Penticton again today, but this time, we actually took time out to look around. A novel idea that we are hoping to incorporate in our wanderings far more often in days to come. On this particular day, we took time to notice the South side of Penticton, where the lake is, and just across from the airport.

It is a pretty scene, but the thing that one misses, not being a long time resident, is that the lake is frozen over, and you can see how the freeze / thaw is having its affect on the ice and snow build-up on the shore. The locals keep telling us how they get little snow, and it usually clears off within a day or two.

This year the snow arrived on Dec 12, and has not fully cleared, even yet. I therefore don't expect you would see this kind of photographic opportunity present itself too often. I am tacking in four specific shots, but they all are kind of neat, so please also click the link to my Picasa album.

This is looking East toward the breakwater although I think the breakwater is too far off to be visible.

This is looking South toward Okanagan Falls. Note how the snow packs have been undercut by the water movement. When the water is free of ice, it actually can be very rough on windy days.

Look closely at this one. There is a branch that has a snowy web of crystals below it. It is very close to the rocks on the right. (Not the vertical stick which is more obvious, but slightly down and to the right) When you go to the Picasa album, there is a sideways shot across the rocks - it actually has 3 or 4 of these types of branch / crystal formations.

This one seems to be a sink hole of some sort along the shore. I couldn't get close to it to look in as the snow pack in front of it is unstable, but I did take a couple shots closer up by zoom and holding the camera over my head. They are in the album.

So with these rather interesting shots in your possession, I now bid you,

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Wi-fi Woes

As a full time RVer, one of the ongoing issues we contend with is obtaining internet access.  You can purchase a portable dish and pay a monthly fee of larger than normal persuasion for high speed internet, but unless you are likely to do a lot of shunpiking / boondocking, it is getting more and more likely that the sites you go to will have internet by wi-fi.  

Furthermore, even when the campsite itself is without the service, most towns have one or two "hot spots" - unsecured wireless access points for public use.

I am not a person who enjoys redundancy in services, and would be hard pressed to put out the thousands it takes to set up an expensive monthly service that duplicates itself in so many sites, and is not easily transferred if you switch rigs.

I currently am in a site that provides wi-fi with the pad fee, but we have had sporadic reception, and most times, it wavers around 2 - 3 bars at best out of 5 for strength of signal.  The fact that there are several rigs between us and the office where the router resides, contributes to the problem.  The park themselves have lost several days of service due to "technical difficulties" as well.

We have looked at a few options to assist the problem.  We have now ordered an item called a wi-fire and it should be here soon.  In short it is a signal boosting device so you can pick up more local signals, or boost the ones you already receive.

When it arrives, I will see how it works and let you know.  I like the idea of it as it is a one time expense, and in theory, will give better strength reception to signals in your area.  It is also small, and connects by USB to your computer, and either clips on it, or sits nearby.  

I am hopeful, and looking forward to better connections in the near future.  Cross your fingers, and say a prayer.  :-)  But until then, I bid you....


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Comparison Shopping - Fifth Wheel vs Class A

It was a beautiful day yesterday, and we decided to go to Penticton.  We ran a couple errands, but just for kicks, we decide to look around at some class A RVs.  We had done extensive tourings of fifth wheels and travel trailers.  We had intentionally omitted class A s from our studies as we had the trucks and knew we wanted something we could tow.

The advantage of a travel trailer is that you still have the full truck bed for storage, but a 5th wheel is more stable in towing.  We chose the fifth wheel after looking at many models.  We were quite content in our choice as it is the only one we saw that truly looked like a full time home.

Full timing requires special considerations that snowbirds or summer holidayers don't need to be as particular about.  Some of the features that we especially like about our floor plan are:

  • Separate kitchen and living room - almost every other design we saw has the dining portion right beside the couch.  When you are a couple permanently living in a unit, separate spaces provide the ability to not constantly be living in each other's laps.
  • A full desk space for proper "office" functionality
  • Fireplace - only an option, but adds a cozy homey feel that just tweaks it up a notch :-)
  • Good angle for living room seating to viewing of the entertainment centre and tv.
  • Entrance closet (pathetic though it is, it can at least hold a few coats and shoes)
  • Glide out pantry - saves space by using accessible depth of cupboards.
  • Full double sinks in kitchen
  • Free standing kitchen table. (although ours doesn't have it, a lot of kitchen chairs now have small storage units under the seats.  Useful for cameras, phone books, laptops, spices, and assorted shallow storables)  
  • Corner shower with bench
  • Central skylight with sliding cover in kitchen - A lot of units are rather gloomy inside because there is a constant balancing act between windows and cupboards.  Kitchens usually loose out in the window department.
All these factors being considered, we continue to find no other unit that feels as much like a real home as ours.

That being said, as we started living the experience of full timing we have become aware of some of the benefits of having a class A style RV.

  • Easier maneuvering
  • If you tow a small gad-about vehicle, it is more fuel efficient for puttering than a big diesel truck
  • When traveling as a couple, any faulty securings can be tended immediately by the passenger while traveling (first had experience relayed on the Dec 19 post - sub-catagory, anchoring contents for travel)
  • Most now have a very spacious 2 - 4 door fridge
  • Basement storage is ample
So we walked through several coaches and although there were varying forms of niceness about each, some of the drawbacks we found in all were:

  • No entrance closets in any of them
  • No desk / office space
  • The couches are alway angled so that you either lounge across the couch, or watch the tv from a side view
  • The sinks in the kitchen were at best a sink and a half.  A lot were extremely shallow.
  • Headroom in the whole coach is like the nose portion of the fifth wheel - only about 7', so tall people don't have a lot of reach up space (when toweling off after a shower or pulling sweaters over the head for example, you will start to notice that this is actually an issue)
  • The showers were smaller, and we would have missed the seat.  (It is handy for things like lower body wash down)
In the long run, we came away still content in knowing that we love our home.  :-)

The day is moving along, and I need to go for a walk, so I will bid you


Wednesday, February 4, 2009


We are back from Nelson, BC and had a great visit with Ken's daughter and her 3 kids.  The renovations went well, and the weather, although it started with a significant dump of snow, was relatively warm, and sunny.  In all, it was a fantastic set of days.

One of our goals while we were in Nelson was to pick up a couple of single seat kayaks.   I have used kayaks before, and I find them far more comfortable, and maneuverable than canoes.  Also, we chose 2 singles over a tandem so that we can putter around more independently.  We have been looking into it for the last year and a half, and we got the Necky Manitou Sport.  The reason we chose this model is for a few reasons:
  1. They are relatively inexpensive as kayaks go
  2. They are sturdy and stable in design
  3. By kayak standards, they are relatively short (for portability)
Some people prefer the type you sit on, but I feel they are less stable.  To me, they look top heavy.

As for the timing, anyone will tell you that the off season is the right time to buy any major purchase, and these ones were listed at $799 each.  When we were looking at the end of the season, back in October, they were down to $650.  Today, we picked them up for $500 each.  

We still had to get the paddles and lifejackets.  You can pick up a paddle at the local Canadian hardware store known for its own currency.  They run around $25, but I don't recommend that option.  The ones we got were significantly more, but to some degree, you do get what you pay for.  Ours are made of a lighter material for the shaft.  The blades are still a plastic though.  You can pay up to and even over $500.  We settled on a $150 model, but again, got a discount, so payed about $110 for them.  

As for the lifejackets, again, there is a lot of variety of in options.  We chose ones that are more tailored to kayakers.  They are less bulky, but still very buoyant.  The key it to find one that fits snugly, but allows you to paddle without feeling like the Michelin Man provided your arm movement.

So tune in next spring / summer and we will let you know how the kayaking adventures go.  :-)

But for now, I bid you...


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Off again...

We are heading out (without the rig) to visit/renovate with Ken's daughter in Nelson.  I'll fill you in upon return.  

Oh, and BTW, it is lightly snowing again.  

What can I say, except,..