Frugal RVing In South States - Ebooks

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Final Salute to a Parting Crew Member

It is with great sorrow that I note the departure of a dear crew member, previously introduced as voyage critic # 1, our beloved Max is with us no more.

He had been diagnosed about 2 years ago with a wide assortment of "old dog diseases" and his prognosis was poor.  He had lost a lot of weight and I often commented that if he got any thinner he would be inside-out.  

After the battery of tests, they merely said that there wasn't a lot to do, but just to love him and monitor him, but that we would know when it was time to end any suffering.  He seemed completely unaware of his illness, and so not knowing that he only had six - nine months to live, he doggedly (I now truly know its meaning) persisted to this very day.

He lived 11 years, and had only just learned to play in the last month and a half.  He would bait me constantly in the evenings with a mouse toy he took from Glory.  He would intentionally place it on my side of Ken's chair, then "defy" me to take it.   He even "nipped" at me, but never actually did more than gently tag my skin with his mouth - no mal-intent, or "bit" at my nose - translate to lick... and growl joyfully at the new game.

This morning while sitting quietly with Ken, he started to go into seizures that lasted around 2 hours before we were able to get a vet.  - The one who wasn't on call. (His partner didn't return the calls to the pager for over 3/4 of an hour, then said that he wouldn't be able to get to us in time, and that we should drive him all the way to Penticton - about 45 minutes away - to the 24 hour clinic... my digression is in sorrow of suffering and terror that should have ended sooner) ... The vet who came was unable to end the seizure, even with valium and finally was able to stop the tremours with anesthetic gas. 

He said it was most likely liver shut down.  The ammonia, being unable to clear the system and blood stream, would then cause the poisoning, and neurological short circuiting that brought on the uncontrollable seizure.  Putting him down was the only kind option.  Even so, he continued to breath in the anesthetic for over a half and hour on maximum flow.  His heart was strong, but the body just couldn't keep pace.

So with a final salute to our fallen comrade, I bid you a sorrowful,


Friday, March 27, 2009

The New Addition

We are in the process of trying to replace the truck that pulls the Ark.  As a summer camp RV, the rig wouldn't be a problem, but when it has all that you own in it, it tends to be a lot heavier.  The truck we have handles it, but it is at its limit, so we are in the process of finding a duel axle Dodge.  One of our neighbours here keeps watching and telling us about anything on the roads that he sees that might interest us.

As a sideline, we had a seed planted that struck us very deeply.  Another full timer neighbour was mentioning at a social gathering, that they have a camper for the summer traveling.  They pointed out that although the big rig is portable, it isn't always convenient for more mobile explorations, and certainly has its drawbacks when it comes to site access.  They leave the big rig at a family farm, and when they are done tripping about, they pick their settling place, and move it there.

These 2 scenarios set the stage for this week's adventure.  The truck hunter saw a prospective option in Westbank near Kelowna, so for a day trip, we went up to look.  It turned out to be over-used, but while there we decide to look at campers. They are getting to be more and more deluxe, but at the same time, we were utterly shocked that some of the newer models run in the $40,000 range!!!

We asked the dealer about used options, and were surprised to see one 9' model in a much more acceptable range, and we got it for under $8,000 fully set up.

It is a very basic layout, and doesn't even have a microwave, but one of the features I really like is that the bed over the cab is what the dealer called "north-south" orientation.  I would be more inclined to say bow-stern, but I was raised by a navy man.


As a further sideline, we have found a potential truck that is just what we want.  We are in the process of seeing if a deal can be worked out.  - Not the one we went to see, but one on the site of the RV & truck dealer.  Stay tuned, but for now, I bid you ...


Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring Break Rundown

So the first 2 days went as per the previous post and from there we managed to fill the days well.  We took it easy on Monday, had a homework and planning day, and just got our bearings as well as reacquainting. We also walked up to Lougheed Town Centre for a little outing.  It was uneventful, but after being in smaller communities, the idea of a mall big enough for 4 major department stores, several larger franchise shops, a food fair, a couple other attached but completely separate from food court restaurants, and all the other normal sized assorted shops, was a bit of a forgotten wonder... 

After that, we filled each day with at least one activity for each of the following days.  For a quick overview, Tuesday we swam at a pool in Surrey, Wednesday we went to the Science Centre, Thursday we went to see Lynn Valley Canyon, Friday we went for a Trail ride, Saturday we went to a different pool, and Sunday we went to Boundary Bay before returning the boys on the ferry.

In more detail, I shall take it one activity day at a time.

Tuesday - We went to the the Fleetwood Recreation Centre in Surrey.  It is a really nice centre.  It has a really large hot tub, a good shallow section for really young kids, and some aquatic apparatus that combines basketball with waterfalls, a water slide, and a separate trisected pool that has a regular diving board, a 3 metre board, lanes for lap swimmers (25 metres per lap) and a standably deep section for assorted monkeying around.  We very contentedly filled the day until prunedome was assured.

Wednesday - We went to Science World.  As we were staying near the Lougheed Centre in Burnaby, we just hopped on the Millennium Line and stepped off a block from the destination.  Upon arrival, we discovered that many people agreed that Science World was a really good way to spend a rainy afternoon.  That (and the eternal entry fee which a lot of things worth doing find worth charging for) aside, it is a very interesting place that thrives on hands on interaction with science which can reach all kids and kids at heart.  They have hourly stage shows where science is explained and demonstrated in a fun and entertaining way.  There are permanent displays that perpetually entertain the masses, but also temporary displays to keep the centre fresh and new.  Right now they are doing a Lego exhibit that can definitely keep you looking for a bit of time.  On top of that, there is also the Omnimax theatre that is quite capable of creating a fantastic case of vertigo, and nausea as it gives you a show that utterly covers your vision from the absolute edges of your peripheral vision.  - What a ride.  (I didn't experience this particular activity on this visit, but have twice before enjoyed it in full).  Moving along....

Thursday - we sought the Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge and challenged the heights and wobbles of said adventure.  We arrived on a dreary day while the rain sprinkled down on our heads.  This linked page isn't the official page, but it does the bridge a great service.  Due to the chill of the soggy day, we didn't linger to explore the trails, but look forward to our next visit.  We then spent the evening with friends I haven't seen in about 4 years.  It was a wonderful visit, and for them especially, the changes in the boys were astounding.  My older boy was shorter than the younger one is now, and the younger one was just over half of his current height.  That, and the baby features are utterly gone now.  Not only that, but my older boy is now the clone of his father whom they first met when he was his son's age.  Nothing makes time pass so quickly as the presence of a child to mark its passage.  I digress...

Friday - again was wet, but it cleared off and we decided to go for a trail ride.  We found a company called "Back In The Saddle Again" Trail Rides.  As we pulled up to the grounds of Campbell Valley Park, the sky was cloudy, but the temperature was still warm.  We mounted up, and the skies released a light drizzle, and a bit of a bluster, but it was still quite acceptable, afterall, we did dress for a cooler day...., not only that, but the horses were very good horses for the rookies that we were.  ..... So by the time we were 20 minutes into our ride, we were soaked through the winter coat and layers beneath as well as the jeans, and we mutually agreed that it was a good turn around point.  The horses perked up at the turning around and my fellow, Douglas, decide he wanted to show the way home.  Dissuaded from this, he settled into his place and headed back more reserved in pace than his better judgement guided. (humans are rather irrational creatures, it seems).  On the way back, we actually encountered a brief but well stated thunder and lightening show.  Ah well, anyone can go riding on a sunny summer day, but only a real wannabe cowboy would strike out in these conditions.  By the time we could see the parking lot, we were down to overcast, and calm, so we extended the route another 20 minutes.  It may sound like this particular venture was a bust, but we absolutely enjoyed ourselves, and the weather just added a bit of humour to the outing.  I would recommend this outfit, and I wouldn't hesitate to go again.

Saturday we connected at another pool in Surrey, the Newton Recreation Centre.  (This is a 360 virtual tour link - as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words!!)  This pool was quite different from the other one.  It had no diving boards, but has a wave pool, had 2 slides, several water cannons, and in general, in spite of my boys' concerns that without a diving board they might get bored, we actually pried them out after 4 hours.  As an added bonus, I was able to connect with one of my newest friends that I met here in Oliver, and who introduced me to blogging.  Some of you know her from Travels With Miranda.  If you haven't met her in her blog yet, and you are into RV full time adventures, she is a good tag in.  As with the last time we got together, the time just flew by.  When we finally left just before 6 pm, we went over to my Sister-in-law's family's house and briefly dropped in.  .... At 10:30 we decided that we really should get home as the boys still had to pack for their trip home the next day.  

Sunday - we got up after a slight sleep in, Skyped my parents in Arizona, then went about gathering and packing our things.  We left a bit early for the 5 pm ferry as we decided it would be better to find a time killing place closer to the terminal.  My brother lives about an hour away from the ferry to Victoria, and we didn't want traffic to interfered with the journey.  We went to Tsawwassen, then diverted our route to the beach at Boundary Bay to take in the view, and skip some stones.  We gave ourselves 20 minutes to make the 5 minute trip to the terminal. - good thing.!!   The boys were simply going to walk on and meet their father on the other side, and that is usually a no hassle process.  Not on the last day of Spring Break.  We got in the back of the line as I had to buy their tickets.  It moved quickly, but the line extended about 300 metres outside the building, and had a double-back line inside.  By the time we reached the doors into the building, the line was as long, or longer than when we joined it.  They did manage to get on the right ferry though - sprinting up the walkway to the ramp, and getting there at 4:59.

And so today I got up in time to leave at the same time as my brother and Sister-in-law as they headed for work.  I left Vancouver around 9:30, and returned home by 2 pm.

It was awesome to see the boys and others I have been missing, but I am also very happy to be home.  ... and as a special "welcome home", my beloved took me out to a beautiful ambiance filled full course steak with prawns dinner that was leisurely  enjoyed over a 2 hour period as we looked over the lake in Osoyoos. - quite the full day, and week, to be sure!  Please check out the pictures.  There would have been more, but we were too busy enjoying the time to be shooting it.  :-)

So with that, I bid you...


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Visiting In Vancouver

The trip down to Vancouver was uneventful, and the visit is going well, but it has been saving the good weather for later, it seems.  Nonetheless, we have had the opportunity to go go-karting at the indoor track in Richmond, TCB (link has a pop-up, but it is harmless).  We had an awesome time.  The track was fast and the cars are well maintained.  It has 13 turns making it a very challenging course.  Fun was had by all.  :-)

Then next day we checked out Ikea in time for breakfast at their cafeteria in Burnaby, then took in a movie, and then just drove around a bit.  We checked out Rocky Point, then buzzed up to Burnaby Mountain and Simon Fraser University (hill top campus - my term, not theirs), and then did some mall crawling.  

The first two days have gone well, and I am hoping that if the weather clears, we might be able to do a bit of outside outings.  Here are some pictures from the first 2 days.

For now, I am going to return to family time, so I bid you,


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Last Hurrah For the Park

Well, in spite of the temperatures dipping below normal again, the RV park declared today to be their send off for the snowbirds.  Most of us aren't moving on until at least May, but they decided do a steak barbeque in thanks to the guests that weathered the storms and cold.

So as an unexpected end to the event, they gave 2 awards for the greatest distance walked during the season.  They are mapping their way, trying to get to Florida, but because of unseasonably cool weather for the whole season, where last year they mapped a route to Mexico, we apparently are only as far as Missouri.  I digress...

So surprises of surprises, my walking buddy got first place, and I got second.  We are going to continue to register our distances, in vain hope of getting nearer to the goal.

Tomorrow I will spend the day prepping the home for a bachelor, and getting packed for my Friday departure to Vancouver.  

With that, I bid you


Monday, March 9, 2009

Poor Little Pup.

Voyage Critic # 1 is feeling a little down in the mouth today...

He was born with a defect of poorly aligned teeth. - Really poorly.

Because of this, he takes to extreme, a dog's skill of engulfing his food, and rarely puts more that 2 chomps to the most challenging of mouthfuls.

I usually wind up manually removing tartar from his teeth about every 3 months, and by then the scale build up is thicker than a toonie's thickness, and very yellow.  On an average dog, that kind of build up takes at least 2 - 3 years to accumulate.

Last week, I went about the fun of scraping it again, and discovered upon removing a particularly large chunk that at least one tooth was nearly absent in its presence. 

So today we dragged poor Max in for a professional cleaning and whatever shows itself as necessary dental appointment.

We picked up a fogged out little boy who is now 3 teeth short of a load, though the rest are bright and sparkly.

He now lies convalescing in Daddy's chair with a baby blanket over him, and a small, low setting heat pad below as he tries to shake the fog and waits for Daddy to come in for appropriate cuddles.  (No, we don't spoil our pets, why do you ask??)

It has made for a quiet day for me as I oversee his maintaining of calm.  Just as well as it is another day brimmed with arctic chill - by Okanagan standards.

So with that, I must attend my patient, and bid you,


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Wi-fire Benefit Discovery

My husband and I both have laptops, and we have a networkable printer and external hard drive.  Because connecting to these devices is easier from a wireless approach instead of having LAN cables, we have a wireless router in our rig.  It has LAN cables to the printer and hard drive so the laptops can tag into the system wirelessly.

This worked well when we had a land based modem in the house for high speed internet, but when you are relying on an external wi-fi source for internet, it does create a bit of a bug.

We have had to choose one router or the other because we couldn't be online with one router and printing with the other.  It would only allow one connection at a time.

With the Wi-fire added to our equipment, I discovered this morning that I could connect the internal wi-fi receiver of the laptop to the rig's router to print, and still leave the wi-fire connected to the external wi-fi internet source.

I did find that the page connection was greatly reduced when on wi-fire alone, but it was still there.  When printing emails for example, we used to have to connect to the net, tell the email to print, disconnect from the net, connect to the internal router, let the document print, when it finishes (and no sooner or the print will be interupted), disconnect from the internal router, reconnect to the external net router, then resume surfing.

This time, I disconnected to print, and reconnected to the internal print router, but because the wi-fire was still connected, I thought I would try surfing.  As I said, it was slow, but it was nonetheless, able to navigate to a page or two while the printing completed.  I then reconnected the internal wi-fi receiver to the external net router and the speed returned.

It wasn't part of what I wished to accomplish with purchasing the Wi-Fire, but it has definitely been a bonus I appreciate.

So I am off and running again.  Not far, just town, but I will bid you,


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Okanagan Research and Innovation Centre

Today we went on an arranged tour to the observatory North of Okanagan Falls, and South of Penticton.  It was set up by the RV Park staff, and was well attended.

It was a beautiful day for an outing, and a good time was had by all.  The tour was lead by one of the Astronomers (I never did catch his name) who has worked in this observatory from many years, and who also worked for 15 years at the one in Hawaii.

If astronomy is your field of interest, you will find this to be a worth while visit, and there is no admission fee for visitors.

I have also visited in the past, Victoria BC's "Centre of the Universe" observatory,  but they are 2 totally different centres.

Victoria has one of the world's largest telescopes, but the Okanagan observatory works on radio wave and focusing on Hydrogen as a means of observing the celestial bodies.  The biggest difference this makes is that the Okanagan one can be used day or night and cloud cover doesn't block reception.

There are plenty of visual displays, audio tracks to explain equipment and its uses, and as an added bonus, perched atop older, no longer functioning equipment is a soon to be reoccupied osprey nest that will likely be a sideline focus at the centre later this year.

Please have a look at the photos I took today.

It has been quite a day, and the night is getting old, so I bid you,


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Quick Wi-Fire Assessment

As mentioned, we have received the Wi-fire devices we ordered, and it is too early to say too much, but one big positive so far relates to my eternal struggle with using Skype as a connection with my parents who snowbird in the states.

Usually I have broken conversations and dropped calls.  However, this morning I tagged in and as usual, the call was going poorly.  I plugged the wi-fire in, connected it to the signal, and immediately the breaking of the signal stopped, and in mid stream of the conversation.

We look forward to having the opportunity to test it away from a known signal, but for now we are very content with the boost it gives, and we really like the signal strength monitoring which is far more accurate with the Wi-Fire's readouts.

Until we move off and start roving more thorough testing will wait, but we are happy with them as it stands.

I am going to grab a bite of lunch now, so I will bid you,


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Follow-up Report

The weather is redeeming itself, but we still have a lot of new as well as the residual old snow to thaw.  Today says it is a balmy 5.9 Celsius  at just shy of 10 am.

We have received the Wi-Fire device and will be reporting back about their functionality after using it for a spell.

The cheque is on its way from the dealership over the washer matter.

The RV Park is doing an upgrade on the system as they are aware of the unsatisfactory state of the offered free internet, and agree that it is unacceptable.  The upgrades will be in soon we are told, and we look forward to the improvements.  I do note too, that a lot of other parks that offer the service do charge a fee for its inclusion with the pad where theirs is complimentary.

I am off and running this morning, so for now I bid you,