Frugal RVing In South States - Ebooks

Friday, October 30, 2009

Too Funny.... Vehicular Repair!

Okay, I don't do this often, but there is a website called that I check in on. It updates as submissions come in. I giggle at some of the "Red Green Show" wanna be repairer there are out there, but this one positively takes the cake in my books!!

Maybe the mopeds aren't so bad afterall .... LOL

Settled In, In Yuma AZ

We left Mohave Valley on Monday October 26, and headed south. We were told to take highway 95. For those unfamiliar with the area, the key to deciphering this directive is to understand that there are 2 highway 95s in about a 20 to 40 mile radius.

We assumed, since we were bound for an Arizona destination, that it was logical that they meant the Arizona 95. It is distinctly likely that they indeed meant the I-95 through California. They both run close to their respective borders of each other. On our way to Mohave Valley, we took about a 20 mile stretch of the California side, and found a unique form of highway - 1 lane per direction, in the middle of desert with scrubland type foliage, and they laid the asphalt on whatever ripple the sand had formed at the time of paving. The result was a road that looked like it was designed based on a still photo of the rolling ocean waves on a not so still day.

Based on this knowledge, we assumed that we would be better taking the Arizona 95. To be accurate on the assessment, it was a decent road a bit under maintained in a few places, but overall, not bad. The biggest issue was the city of Lake Havasu. It is a sprawling city for a smaller one, and the traffic lights are, hmmm, shall we say choreographed to display in a lovely array of colours, times such that you weren't bored with a consistent monotone of green.....

Not good when you are towing a 36 foot behemoth and needing to build some speed on the hillier sections.

Also, there was a bridge near Parker Dam that was being resurfaced, reducing the traffic to single alternating flow, with a traffic light determining when it was appropriate to proceed.

It was a lovely drive aside from the traffic lights, and with the damming of the river, there are nice lakes to enjoy.

Nonetheless, I think the return will be via the I-95 in California. We do have a modification to make in our cargo before that time. Unfortunately our new mopeds have encountered significant damage from the trip - especially one that has a "torn to the bone" seat rip, a cracked crank case cover, the speedometer cable ripped off the wheel connection, the foot peg bent significantly, and a bit of superficial denting on the gas tank and such.

Speedometer cable detached from wheel

Bent foot peg Cracked crank case cover

torn seat and bent from its clip

The biggest part of that problem was caused by their location at the extreme rear of the trailer. If you picture a teeter-totter, the most movement in the up down motion is naturally at the ends, so when bouncing down these undulating roads, the motion is magnified by their location at the very end. We are going to devise a more protective mode of carrying them, but now we need to do repairs.

If you are looking at rigs to buy, keep this detail about rear bounce in mind. Some rigs have neat looking configurations with kitchens in the rear, but knowing this bounce factor, be aware it does the same to your cupboards, but I digress...

We are now spending a couple days getting oriented and set up. We are hoping to be better at the tourist thing than we were last year in the Okanagan. The weather shouldn't interfere as much as it did last year, but that being said, having arrived Monday, Tuesday ended with the arrival of a sandstorm. It wasn't blinding, but it was like a moderate fog visability level.

We have had a couple nights dipping to the 40's F, but the coolest day was in the 60's.

I will load a few more pictures as soon as my Picasa starts behaving again. For now, I will bid you,


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Oatman AZ

We are moving on down to Yuma tomorrow, but we wanted to take in at least one sight locally before we move on.

We were told about Oatman, just up the far side of the road we were on, which merges with the famous historical highway, Route 66.

So off we went, and it was a really neat town that has obviously switched its focus on being a living ghost town. Apparently, it used to be a gold mining town, and it has a very Barkerville-ish flavour to it. It is basically 2 blocks, flanking Route 66 that have a variety of shops, general stores, restaurants, and the lure to the town, free ranging burros. I'm not sure if they are wild, but they are socialized. We wandered into one nick-nack shop and discovered a 4 month old colt burro grazing at the check-out. He bore a sticker on his forehead warning patrons not to feed him carrots as he is too young to chew them properly, and is at risk of choking on them.

Before we left, there was a shoot-out skit performed by locals, as well as a "hitchin' " of a visitor couple.

It was an interesting place to stop, and with all old towns of this persuasion, there are tons of options for souvenirs, including the sepia toned western shots that are so popular in western atmosphered locals.

(The down and uploading is still slow, hence the link. As an aside, the bird at the start of the album set is a fellow by the name of River the Road Runner, who frequents the park, and is relatively tame, enough to beg for scraps. So as for this RV park, I guess you could say, " A River Runs Through It") If you missed it, it is a play on a movie title.... but I digress...

Anyway, it is getting late, and we are striking out tomorrow, so I will bid you,


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sand Storm and Other Details

I finally have an unlimited use of internet and so have a lot of shots that have really wanted to come your way.

I have missed telling a minor, but rather new to us experience - Just after we left Vegas and were headed south just past the turn off for those no longer welcome on the Hoover Dam.

In the distance, we saw what looked like a dust trail raised by a vehicle speeding down a dirt side road, as you can see...

We approached, and discovered something a bit different than it originally appeared to be ....

That was actually a less obscured part of the dust storm, but it only lasted about 1/2 a mile at most. Canada has two versions that are less ground and more humidity. We call them either Pea Soup Fog or White Out Snow Storms. :-)

As for the rest of the missing links, in my assorted travels, I found by the upload of these two that although free, the connection is also slow.

I have therefore decided to do the picture show by links.

The pictures that would have made this a nice and colourful posting are instead showing here. Please let me know if the links fail.

You will notice that I am taking more pictures on a diagonal framing. I am only using a simple Sony Cybershot 5.0. It is actually rather an amazing camera considering it is the modern day version of the instant cameras that were so popular in the film era. It is slowly failing, mostly in the shutter cover opening, but also a bit in being a still shooter or video shooter when the opposite was requested. Be that as it may, I discovered that if I took the diagonal shot, I could then crop it into awesome panoramic shots which I rather like, I must say. :-) But I digress.....

I got a window seat on the return flight from Victoria. The trip was over a lot of cloudscapes, but some of that in itself was rather picturesque. The seat monitor when on the right channel, displayed periodic GPS mappings of the flights, so I sometimes took a shot of the GPS followed by what was out the window at the time, just for kicks.

I have come to really enjoy the look of the mountains in the Bellevue area, and the last time I was there, they had their first blanket of snow for the season. It added a whole new beauty to the summer's pleasurable scenery.

These are the shots of the trip from Alberta to Arizona. It took 4 days to get here, as mentioned in earlier posts, and we are still looming on relocation to Yuma.

Time will tell what adventures lie ahead. The neat thing about our current location is that for example, today, we were in Arizona, California, Arizona, Nevada, Arizona, back to Nevada, and back into Arizona for purposeful outings, and all before noon, with a 9:30 start. Not many places you can cover so much territory in so little time.

Anyway, with so much travel under our belts in a single day, what can I say? I'm tire!

So my dear friends, I will bid you,


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Landed For The Month

Some time very soon I shall download my trip shots, sort and share them, but for now, this is what I have for you.

As a brief break down of the journey, this is our summary of motion:

Oct 17, we left Bellevue at 11:30 am, heading for Couttes and on down to Arizona. We stopped at Great Falls, Montana at around 6:30 pm at the Flying J. (We chose Flying Js for all the stops as it feels safer to be surrounded by other RVs and trucking rigs)

Oct 18, we headed out at 9:40. The notable and time consuming stop was in Blackfoot where we picked up a couple cell phones. The plan is much more gentle on the pocketbook than the Canadian plans, and can be used in Canada at no extra cost. However, the stop probably ate up a good 2 hours in commuting time. We finally called it a night around 6:50 at McCammon, Idaho.

Oct 19, we left at around 9:40 again (purely coincidental, as we have decide that we are not going to have an agenda, but go when we are ready, and stop when we are tired. It works for us, but I digress....) and continued on our way. The third night was in St. George, Utah arriving at 6:30.

Oct 20, we started early as there was a refrigeration truck running all night, and we were awake and ready to go by 8:50 am. We hit quite a slew of states that day. We were in Utah, briefly Arizona, Nevada, briefly California, and finally back in Arizona. We are now at Mohave Valley half way between Needles California and Bullhead City Arizona. We arrived around 12:45 yesterday afternoon.

I like the location, but we will move on next month as we are needing to find a location that is supported by Verizon so we can use our tether for internet. When it is in a service area, it is an awesome deal, with 5 G data usage for only $9.99 on top of the usual cell cost. That way, we have the security of our own network instead of wi-fi hot spots.

I will elaborate now on a few highlights.

First, a rhetorical question: Is there any part of the western states that isn't a continuous up hill climb???

From the time we crossed into Montana, we were going almost unnoticeably up hill. However, being the mule pulling the 17,000 pounds of home we live in, we found it quite noticeable. We definitely crossed some very noticeable climbs as well, but truly, they are wonderfully laid out - wide lanes, double highway, gentle curves, and in general not anything like the frightening Kicking Horse Pass and Rogers Pass of the Canadian Rockies.

Ogden Utah. What can I say but wow. To clarify, not Ogden's fault, but our beloved GPS (for those familiar with the occasional misguidings these devices are capable of, you already have a tingling of fear for the nightmare looming, but I digress...) we programmed it to take us to the Truck Stop of Flying J for refueling as we didn't want to deal with Salt Lake City. (More on that later...)

.... and so we faithfully followed the directions and wove our way into downtown Ogden - towing the 36 foot 5th - to what we discovered was the Corporate Headquarters for Flying J. Didn't know it was based there, probably would have found it to be neat trivia info, and for what it was worth, was a really nice building complex.....

However, the weave back out of the hilly, highly intersected, and under extensive road construction, city took us to highway 89 south and finally reconnected us to I15 south - with no following stop for fuel that we were comfortable with until after Salt Lake City. We made it to Springville and refueled, just as the low fuel warning alarm went off.

We are not generally big city friendly, and Calgary Alberta was the largest Ken had conquered, and under heavy guidance from his navigator. We didn't have to turn off, but nonetheless were quite aware of the 6 lanes buzzing around us, and for what extensive distance it covered.

Vegas was another BIG city, and we did have to do some highway changes on it, but all was well, and it actually was less scary than Salt Lake City, believe it or not.

Anyway, I am behind on laundry and house cleaning, having not had power or ability to open slides for 4 days, so I will bid you,


Making A Break For The Border

Oct 17, 2009

Well, we got a slow start out as we slept poorly until about an hour before dawn. We were up functionally by 10 am, and finished dumping and prep, getting us on the road by 11:30. We stopped briefly in Pincher Creek as we needed some items that aren’t that different in price than what Canada pays, and we wanted to postpone using the US travellers cheques.

We hit Lethbridge by 2pm, and crossed the slow but friendly border at Couttes at 3:12. We stopped briefly at Conrad as the fuel was down to 1/8th (wind and an nearly steady gentle incline ate fuel rather gluttonishly) and then continued down the I 15 to Great Falls, Montana where we bunked at the Flying J. We arrived around 5:50, but took some time fueling, adding some water to the holding tank, and then waited for a double parked tour bus from Alberta to get out of the RV designated spots. (Small vent of steam, and 20 minutes of running the engine waiting for the eminent departure, but I digress)

The spaces were tights, so we weren’t able to put out the slides, but the price was right. The weather again was beautiful, but as mentioned before, fairly windy.

Tomorrow, we anticipate get as far, perhaps, as Idaho Falls / Blackfoot, but time will tell. It is a bit exciting, and completely into the realm of the unknown.

I must prepare dinner in our scrunched in kitchen, so for now, I will bid you,


Snowed In

(More catch up...)

October 16, 09

We were snowed in on the 14th when we planned to leave Three Hills, but our travelling companions were faring now better in Brooks, so we all hunkered down where we were, and struck out the next day for our appointed destinations.

They went to Taber, then continued on to Milk River. We headed for Bellevue for our truck tweaks – new tires and a modification on the engine exhaust break to allow it to function more reliably.

The roads were clear, the weather was grand (at long last) and we made excellent time. We left at 12:30 as we wanted to ensure the roads were heated, and we had a series of good byes to attend. We arrived by 4:30 and dropped off Spirit at the tire shop so they could start on the tires first thing in the morning.

As always we had a great visit with our Bellevue friend, and then settled in for the evening.

We have, however encountered a significant alteration to the travel plans. Our Milk River rendez-vous was squashed by the ailing health of one of their family members. It went from them sitting on the border chomping at the bit to cross, but waiting for us, to them blazing off to Saskatchewan for an undefined duration.

We now have to go it alone, but we are boldly going forward.

In the meantime, the truck should have both alterations completed by the day’s end, and we are also using Smokey to go to Sparwood, BC to renew the bike’s insurance. (They aren’t switched to AB yet, and so need a BC renewal until we can find the location and currency to pay for the out of province inspections required to make them Albertan.

Hopefully, tomorrow we will be able to head East on Highway 3, South on Highway 4, and then head on across to I 15. My Mother has estimated that it might take us 6 days, so we might up the travel length. We are nonetheless, sticking to the day travel plan. We have our full time home with us, so we have no rush to get anywhere. We will take it easy and see where our travels take us.

It is somewhat exciting to take on the unknown. But with that, the errands call so I will bid you,


Flash Back To Oliver

October 14, 2009

(I've been off line while traveling, and writing offline to keep up . We're back on and catching up)

The adventures of flashbacks are not so worthy of revisiting, but nonetheless, a major portion of today. The primary reminder was that especially in the sub zero climates, one must remember to keep the valves closed on the black/grey. We had diligently been tending the tanks, but the last flush forgot to reseal the valves.

Fortunately, the basement was kept sufficiently warm that no tank was endangered, however, the part of the sewer line that was outside the containment of the rig, and all the cheap blue sewer line was a solid block.

We managed to use a heat gun to free up the connectors, then a parabolic heater to soften the PVC style piping, and finally a couple hours later, we put some RV antifreeze down the black tank, and it finally freed the contents.

Did I mention how eager we are to get down south???

Oh the joys of an early start to winter in Alberta. I was told by many locals that it won’t last, and that nicer weather will return. I am happy for them to be sure, but will still be making a break for the border at next opportunity!!

And now, I bid you,


Monday, October 12, 2009

Brrrr, I hear the South Calling!!

The temperature around here has been holding around -8 to -12 C which is just depressing for those who don't want to do winters anymore (and truth be told, not too inspiring for those who by choice or necessity are fixed either!!)

In spite of the cold, we did get another round of holding tank water today, have gone through another 30 lbs of propane, and are anticipating at least one more filling of it before we can leave.

We are needing to get the blue truck back from its tweaking, and see if we can get a dealer to take it off our hands, then rush back to get the rig to get the utility trailer landed, and batten down the 5th for a road move to Bellevue again. We plan to leave on Wednesday as we have tires to replace and another tweak for the engine exhaust brake before we depart.

With grace for The Almighty, we are hoping to cross the border on the 16th via the Lethbridge crossing route, and get our buts down to a respectable climate. Internet will be sporadic until we arrive in Mohave Valley, but we will see what the roads and situations bring.

We did get the kayaks on the roof, and removed all that we want to take with us out of the utility trailer and the camper. By the time we finished the tying down process, the wind and chill was stepping it up a notch, and I took a bit to thaw my paws when I got in the 5th.

There are 3 full timers left here, and all are only being held here by unavoidable commitments. We mutually agree that it is high time to hit the road!!

It wouldn't be quite as bad if it weren't for the cut off of the water. That little detail adds a level of discomfort that is high on our list of put to the tail and not look back.

The forecast says that it will warm again by around Thursday, but that date seems to have the Tantalus affect as each day we approach it, it shifts a day out. Originally, yesterday was to be the transition to warmer, but it seems no closer. I remember going through this same postponement when in Oliver last year ...... but I digress

Anyway, the time is drawing closer for the start of the next grand adventure. We shall see how it all unfolds. We are a constant example of how life is what happens while you are busy making plans!!

With that, I will bid you


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Back From Victoria

I returned from Victoria on Oct 6 in preparation for the pending drop in temperature. The town of Three Hills shut the water off in the RV park on Oct 5 because the fellow who does the line clearing was going in for back surgery, so they shut it early.

Because of this, the local hardies filled their fresh water holding tanks, and battened down the hatches.

My flight arrived at just before 4 pm and we headed home. The winds were already kicking up a ruckus, and the temperature dropped.

The next morning we set to getting the kayaks off the camper roof and temporarily set them under the rig. Ken has since put a hole in each of the suction cups of the roof racks. The cups aren't needed for holding, only providing a gentle surface to rest the kayaks on when on the rubber roof. When I took them off to put them on the camper, they pulled the rubber up a bit. Not enough to damage, but enough to tell me that they need an air release.

When the weather breaks (presumably Sunday) we will move them up to the 5th roof. The camper is going to Bellevue for the winter, the utility trailer will go to a local shop where it will be safe, and with any luck, the blue truck will be gone. If that comes to be, I will let you know how and what. Failing that, the blue one will stay with Ken's daughter to ensure that it is run now and then.

By Wednesday we are hoping to head south, then we will get a couple of tweaks done on the white truck, and haul on out of here!!

When we pull out of here, we will be dependent on hotspots until we get to Mojave Valley, so my check ins may not be too regular.

On that note, I will bid you


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mid Point Report

I have been in Victoria since Wednesday morning. Ken, Midnight and I got up at zero dark hundred hours (4:55 am for more precision minded people). Midnight assumed that we were just on washroom stops and ignored the activity in his sleep space.

He was very shocked (and somewhat blurry eyed) when I called him for fence watering detail, and then immediately headed back to bed like all decent members of the household should do ..... His humans were not being compliant with the code of decency, and started donning outerwear.

He did get in the truck, and promptly curled up and passed out (there is just no understanding the foolish behaviors of these humans!!)

My flight took off on time (8:00 am mountain time) and on target, and by 8:15 (pacific time) I was walking down the arrivals gangplank calling Ken to assure him of my safe arrival. He himself had just walked in the door. His adventure was much greater than mine as the construction crews of the northeastern end of Calgary did their level best to confuse Ken's poor GPS, and he wound up detouring out past Bisiker Ab, on Highway 9. (Fortunately, once there, it was on the route we came in - though it was completely dark at that time).

The next day I attended the funeral of Mom Olson. It was a beautifully done service, and I feel she was well honoured. (Still not grasping that she really is gone. It just doesn't seem real).

It was a quite evening at home with Mom and Aunty. We had to go 2-1/2 hours north on Friday, and I then doubled back with a spare vehicle to allow for Dad and I to commute and get about independently.

On the way back I picked up my boys and we came home to my parents place. We had a game night with my Dad, and then called it a night.

Tomorrow, the boys and I are heading north again to attend my Uncle's informal memorial gathering. Then, we three plus Mom will head back so the boys can get home in time for getting ready for school in the morning.

I am still hoping to go to my old workplace to check in with former coworkers, have a visit with my wonderful friends who picked me up at the airport, go to see Dad Olson and visit with his daughter, my dear friend who shared her parents with me, and see if I can squeeze in any other visits before I fly Wednesday evening.

In the meantime, apparently my poor puppy is moping about forlorn and wondering where Mommy is. He is still eating and drinking and following Daddy about, but he has lost his bounce. We tried putting the cell on speaker to see if he would recognize my voice, but to no avail. He just sits in my chair sadly. Just 4 more days, and Ken is bringing him to the airport when he picks me up.

Nothing reminds you how close you are to people and critters like a time away. Glory too has gone into hiding, only materializing to eat, and drink (and undo same). Ken is keeping busy, but is looking forward to Wednesday too. I am thrilled to see the boys who are doing very well, really happy to see the home turf crew and sundry, am still numb over the missing souls that spawned this trip, but I am also missing my home crew.

The part that I am not missing though is the weather that has descended upon my poor group back in Three Hills. Snow is threatening to fall, and the temperatures are definitely bypassing appropriate autumn norms. This is aggravated by the fact that just before the chill set in, we were "suffering" from unseasonable warms, reaching the high 20's and even 30 C (up to 86 range in F).

With any luck, I will attach a decent round of pleasant Autumn weather to my suitcase and bring it home with me.

We still aren't certain if we are indeed going to Arizona, but are dearly hoping to. If not, Osoyoos or Duncan might find us landing. Time will tell.

Anyway, it is late, so I will bid you,