The Omicron Challenge

Spoiler alert: To the best of our knowledge, neither Betty nor I have omicron, or any other coronavirus variant – yet. But that is not to say we have not been affected by COVID-19, like the rest of the world. This post shares some of our pandemic experiences in the past month.

As previously noted, we cancelled our 2020/21 Christmas flights from Nanaimo, British Columbia to Winnipeg, Manitoba due to the spread of the coronavirus. By August 2021 vaccines were available and the number of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths was diminishing. So we re-booked our Christmas and New Year’s flights. Yeah!

After we left, Nanaimo got hit with unseasonably cold temperatures and snowfall – rare for an area of Canada that grows palm trees! Thanks much to fellow camper Marina for watching over our site while we were away. Our plumbing and all other systems survived the weather while Betty & I were dealing with the REAL cold in Manitoba. lol

We looked forward to spending time with family and friends, many of whom we had not seen for a number of months. Then came the spread of the more contagious omicron variant. 

Grandson, James, plays Santa as he delivers a present to Uncle Kevin. Masks helped to beat the omicron challenge.

The day before our flights from Nanaimo to Winnipeg we went on-line to confirm seat selections and download boarding passes, as is our custom. But now WestJet had added another page, requiring a scan confirming vaccination status. Betty and I both have Manitoba-issued vaccine cards, confirming we have each received two doses. I also had a record of my third dose, received in October. Despite our best efforts, the web site refused to acknowledge the QR codes we uploaded, including the federally-issued QR codes, and as a result we could not confirm our flights. The Nanaimo airport isn’t far from our campground, so we ended up driving over and seeing a WestJet agent for seat selections and boarding passes.

But getting to Winnipeg was only half the fun. The regular winter deep freeze was a shock to our systems, despite having endured many Manitoba winters. I’m not sure the temperature ever rose above -20c, and often fell closer to -40c, especially when the wind-chill was factored in.  Unlike Nanaimo where snow melts or is washed away by rain in short order, the two feet of snow in Winnipeg is likely there to stay until spring.

Our Christmas Day dinner table was set for 14, but due to the omicron challenge, our numbers reduced as the day went on. Those joining, of course, were able to watch the Queen’s Christmas message with me. Yeah!!

A number of planned get-togethers over the holidays were either cancelled or scaled-back, including a reduced Christmas dinner at Andrew’s. Unfortunately, a birthday party for our now 14 year-old granddaughter, Isabella, had to be cancelled due to the virus.

We had a great view of our plane and the sun setting over the Rocky Mountains, as we waited many hours in the Calgary airport. Flights everywhere were cancelled due to a lack of staff, with many off work due to the coronavirus.

Our largest omicron challenge came when it was time to return to Nanaimo. As with schools, restaurants, hospitals, and almost every other sector, airlines have been seriously affected just now by this more contagious virus. Our flight from Winnipeg was delayed three hours while WestJet waited for a flight attendant to be flown in from another location. No restaurants or kiosks were open at the airport during that period, likely due to staff shortages.

After numerous delays due to the omicron variant, Betty was finally able to relax in our Calgary hotel room.

That meant that we missed our connecting flight from Calgary, Alberta to Nanaimo, and there were no further scheduled flights that day.  Along with dozens of others, Betty & I waited in an hours long line-up to see a ticket agent to sort out our travel plans.  We were issued taxi, hotel and meal vouchers, and by 3:00 am we were headed to an airport hotel for the night.

Our hotel room in Calgary included a small kitchen area, but no grocery stores were open close to our location.

It was a nice enough hotel, but without room service at 3:00 am, and no breakfast or lunch room service in the morning. Our next scheduled flight, on the following night, was cancelled due to staff shortages, and we remained at the hotel for another night. The silver lining was a chance to visit with our good friend, Wendy, while in Calgary.

The sun was almost setting as we began our decent over the Fraser Valley, into Vancouver., B.C.

Our next flight was to leave Calgary at 5:30 pm, heading to Vancouver, where we would change planes for a short trip to Nanaimo. Unfortunately, the time between touch-down and the next take-off was only 35 minutes. As we arrived at the Calgary airport, we received notification that our flight to Vancouver was delayed by at least an hour (likely due to staff shortage), so we foresaw being stranded for another night in Vancouver.

Betty & Charlie share a hug after almost a month apart – The longest we have ever been separated.

With the help of a WestJet ticket agent, we were able to get rescheduled on a different flight that allowed us to make the connection to Nanaimo. It’s great to be finally back in our motorhome, and re-united with our pup, Charlie, after almost a month. Thanks so much for Wendy’s sister, Jan in Nanaimo, who looked after our golden doodle while we were travelling!

Charlie gives Jan a “thank you” kiss, for providing great care while we were away.

Throughout our travels this month, Betty & I became very aware of the many challenges brought on by COVID- 19, and by the omicron variant in particular.  So far, we have remained healthy and happy through all of these trials, and hope that you also can master these challenging times!

Cheers!

Long To Rain Over Us!

As an avowed monarchist, I am always happy to stand for the singing of “God Save The Queen”. But it seems lately that the second to last line is being taken a little too literally in BRITISH Columbia: We are experiencing “Long to rain over us” to an extent I never thought possible – lol! The word of the 2021 year – unprecedented – keeps coming to mind…

Another wet day at our campsite, with overcast skies blocking the ocean view. Fortunately, the sites all drain well, so very few puddles have formed. The flowers under our sign should be back in bloom by the end of next month. We are glad to be able to shelter in our add-a-room!

Recognizing that my last post from Vancouver Island was about the incessant rain, with all of the resulting damage only beginning to become evident on Nov. 15, you would think I should be moving on to other topics. But the rain has kept coming, and I am finding it difficult to concentrate on anything else.

Perched on the top of a hill, our motorhome is wrapped in skirting to keep the winter chills out. Our beach tent provides some protection from the drizzle, when we want to watch the ships go by.

Ok, Betty keeps reminding me that it’s not all bad – our motorhome doesn’t leak, and hasn’t been washed into the sea yet – fingers crossed… And there have been a few days when the sun shone through the rain forest trees.

As viewed from our campsite, a local ferry passes a cargo ship at lower tide in the Strait of Georgia.

You may have heard that a severe storm in late October caused a huge cargo ship – the Zim Kingston – to lose 109 containers into the ocean, with only four found so far. Scattered on isolated shores of Vancouver Island, 44 refrigerators, rain boots, shoes, and toys have been washing up. Unfortunately, they won’t be recovered in time for Christmas.

This huge cargo ship is immediately behind our campsite, ready to have damaged containers off-loaded (4th row from the left). A regular, large cargo ship is beside it, providing some perspective.

The gigantic ship, which also caught fire during the mishap, is now parked directly behind our campsite in Nanaimo. Binoculars provide a good view of its cargo, but the telephoto lens on my camera gives a limited perspective – although it does show the difference in size between a normal cargo ship and this gargantuan.

On one day this month when it didn’t rain I got out on the driving range. But I have yet to play a round of golf in this normally balmy Canadian winter.

For Christmas we are back in Winnipeg with our wonderful family. Andrew has found and erected the nicest Christmas tree I have ever seen, and we are looking forward to gathering around and sharing joyous celebrations together. 

The nicest Christmas tree ever – at our son Andrew’s home. Note the Santa, on the right, who has appeared by our family tree for at least the last 60 years!

A highlight for me is always tuning in to the Queen’s Christmas Message. My parents, brother and I moved to Canada in 1956, and in 1957 the Queen’s Christmas Message was televised for the first time. Watching it linked us back to our extended family in Great Britain, and has been a tradition since.

Whether before or after the Queen’s message, I am happy to stand and sing “Long to reign over us”. But I recognize that, at age 95, this may be one of the last Christmas messages from Queen Elizabeth II. Whether or not her reign continues, I will be more than happy if the rain soon ends back in British Columbia. lol

Hope you can keep dry and have a happy Christmas and weatherproof 2022!

Cheers!

Rain, Rain Go Away!

It is said that the Inuit have dozens of names for snow. On Vancouver Island for the winter, Betty & I haven’t seen any snow – yet. But it appears that islanders have dozens of names for rain – from drizzle to showers to torrential rain, and everything in between. And it seems that we have experienced all of them since moving to an ocean-view site at Living Forest campground in Nanaimo, B.C.!

The view out our front windshield today.

I think the latest system is called a “pineapple express” leading to a “weather bomb”, causing an “atmospheric river” in southwestern British Columbia. Towns have been evacuated as water treatment plants have overflowed. Roads – including the Coquihalla and TransCanada highways – have been closed due to mudslides and flooding. Motorists have been stranded, requiring rescue from emergency crews. Evidence of climate change is all around, as every day the extreme weather is recorded as “unprecedented”. It’s not a pretty situation here, but thankfully there has been no reported loss of life to date.

On the only day this month when the sun came out, I snapped this picture of the Strait of Georgia, at the back of our Living Forest campsite.

Fortunately, our motorhome has been high and dry inside, and we are warm and cozy as we hear and watch the weather go by. Apparently, this system has brought over 200 mm of rain to Nanaimo in the past couple of weeks. Rain, rain, go away! 

Another pic, taken on that sunny day at Living Forest campground site 165. Note the ship in the distance on the extreme left.

Under normal circumstances, we would consider raising our levelers and heading to a location with better weather – like Quartzsite, Arizona or South Padre Island, Texas, with both experiencing sunshine and temperatures in the high 20s to low 30s Celsius. But at least three factors are keeping us grounded (as long as a landslide doesn’t sweep us into the nearby ocean. We had looked forward to an ocean view, but never intended to be that close – lol). 1) We have airline tickets to fly out of Nanaimo to Winnipeg in a few weeks, and changing reservations has proven to be a major hassle these days. 2) When we moved to our current campsite, our living room slide-out refused to fully extend, and we now have a new $1,500. slide-out motor on order, to be installed in a couple of weeks. 3) Finally, health issues are keeping us tethered to the Canadian health care system for the next while, so we’re not leaving the country any time soon…

This is the ship in the previous pic. I used a telephoto lens to check if I could see Noah, and two animals of every kind on board – an important sign as we live through 40 days and 40 nights of relentless rain…lol

Betty & I will just have to look on the bright side. The relentless rain should reduce the chances of forest fires, prevalent in the region last summer. And we don’t have to learn all those Inuktitut names for snow!

Late this afternoon, this rainbow appeared over the water, behind our campsite – a promise of better things to come!

Cheers!

Location, Location, Location

Now that we are living in the relatively small confines of a motorhome, Betty and I are often asked if we miss our last two homes, which were located in a desirable, quiet, tree-lined neighbourhood close to downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba. The first of the two had plenty of room for our four children to grow into adulthood. When they moved out of the family nest, the second downsized home – a couple of blocks away – seemed just right for Betty and me. They both had nice amenities, nice yards, nice neighbours, and overall great locations: The mantra of realtors everywhere.  How could a relatively tiny home compete?

This was a great unserviced site (#5) we found at Pacific Beach State Park in Washington State. We were able to pull our motorhome up to the dune, set out our chairs, and watch the waves roll in. In April 2022 we have site #7 booked. It has the same view, but is a fully serviced site. We are still hoping our changing plans allow us to visit this tranquil location.

The answer is also location, location, location! But while real estate agents will be promoting a specific lot on planet earth, we get to experience multiple locations. So far we have visited 39 states, 9 provinces and counting. In all we have found fabulous locations, locations, and locations, with many more to come!

After crossing the Mackinac Bridge to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, we turned right into Straits State Park. Somehow we took a wrong turn within the park and found ourselves in an unserviced campsite at the water’s edge, with a clear view of the bridge we had just crossed. We had lucked into a great spot!

Finding the right spot can either involve extensive planning, or be totally serendipitous. We enjoy campsites with ocean views, and the sounds of crashing waves to serenade us to sleep at night. In developed parks (the Florida Keys for example) those sites can book up a year in advance. Even with the parks on speed dial, we still didn’t get into many preferred sites. On the other hand, Betty & I have happened upon roadside pull-offs with amazing river and ocean views, with no signage prohibiting overnight parking. Previous blog posts picture many such sites, encountered particularly on our trip to Canada’s Atlantic coastline.

Betty & I enjoyed the sunset over the St. Lawrence River, after stopping for dinner and free overnight camping in Pointe-a-la-Frigate, Quebec. We watched the tide go out and return, with the salt air letting us know that we were transitioning from inland river to majestic ocean.

While RVing has become increasingly popular in the last few years, with many desirable parks full or overcrowded, the internet continues to post new information about alternate options. We regularly review Campendium.com recommendations, check out freecampsites.net, subscribe to Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome, visit provincial, state, and national parks, and stay on BLM land, where available. These days there are many, many camping locations to choose from, beyond that local city’s KOA.

We lucked out at a Boondockers Welcome site on the shore of the Miramichi River in New Brunswick. It provided a great base (including an adjoining deck) from which to visit the town where I lived when we first moved to Canada.

This week we made the move from a forested site, to an ocean-view site in Living Forest Oceanside Campground in Nanaimo, B.C. It’s a great location, and we look forward to watching the tides ebb and flow, and the ocean-going ships making their way up the Strait of Georgia.  In whatever location you find yourself, may you take the time to look around and enjoy the beauty of the people and places that surround you!

This pic from our oceanview site (#165) in Nanaimo was taken at low tide this morning.
We have now set up our motorhome for the season, with a small beach tent behind to watch the ships and waves from this beautiful location. BTW, the pic was taken this afternoon at high tide, but in the rain. Hoping for some sunny days ahead when I can capture more images from this great spot.

Cheers!

Making Plans In Jello

As full-time travellers (as opposed to full time-travellers, which would also be nice! lol), there are always numerous variables Betty & I need to take into account. Weather at our current site, on the road and at our proposed destination, campsite availability, motorhome and toad repair issues, finances, family events and health are just some of the considerations as we make and adjust our travel plans. Instead of carving plans in stone, we need to always remain flexible, adapting to changing circumstances. Our plans, therefore, get made with the malleability of Jello. 

Betty captured a beautiful sunrise over the Saskatchewan prairie, on our first morning after leaving Winnipeg. I’ll take her word, and this picture, that it was this nice. lol
We stopped for our first night in a small municipal campground in Chaplin, Sask. No, that’s not snow in the pic, but large mounds of salt, being mined in this tiny prairie community.
Here’s another pic of our nice, quiet Chaplin, Sask. campsite at $12., on the honour system.

Of course, in the past couple of years the coronavirus has modified everyone’s travel plans. Snowbirds like us have been especially affected by the closure of international borders. Betty and I spent last winter on Vancouver Island, unable to visit the U.S. west coast as a result of the border closure. As previously noted, the island is one of only a few places in Canada warm enough to survive the winter without putting our motorhome into storage. As options go, it’s not a bad one at all!

We stayed again in the SouthCentre mall parking lot in Calgary on our way through Alberta: Free with a reservation. Not that we felt it was necessary, but a mall security SUV regularly patrolled the area.

So far, this winter is looking like a repeat of the last, although we found out yesterday that we can move on Nov. 1 to an ocean-view site (#165) at Living Forest Campground in Nanaimo, B.C., from our current forest site. This is likely due to the recent announcement that U.S. border land crossings will re-open on Nov. 8/21. Already some snowbirds are changing their plans to head down to warmer climes for the coming winter.

Even though our trip west was early October, the Coquihalla summit was already covered in ice and snow, making driving somewhat challenging. Glad we didn’t postpone our trip until late October, as previously planned.
It’s been quite a while since we last saw snow, so it was nice to see the white stuff covering everything, especially since we knew it would only be for a few hours before we descended into the lush green again.
As usual, the roads to our hoped-for destinations have been full of twists and turns, ups and downs, darkness and light. But if we can maintain our optimism and the malleability of Jello, we can weather whatever life brings our way!
Soon the snow was gone, and sunlight illuminated green fields as we made our way down the Coquihalla Highway into Hope, B.C. (Glad there’s always Hope! lol)

We had plans to do that U.S. west coast & National Park trip in the spring, followed by a drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway on our way to Florida and Texas next fall and winter. Those plans aren’t necessarily cancelled now, but to keep our options open, Betty was able to snag an oceanside campsite reservation at our current park for next year. If need be, we can set up our chairs on site 127 and watch the ships go by, as the tides ebb and flow. It will be a tough option, but someone has to do it! lol

Here’s our current campsite (#192), nestled among the trees and flowers in Nanaimo, BCs Living Forest campground. Thanks to our friends Jan and Ben for babysitting our 100 lb. propane tank while we were away!

In the meantime, we are rolling with the punches, and hope that you also can maintain the necessary flexibility to adjust as your situation changes.

Here’s another pic of our site, showing our Reddoch Retreat sign, which is likely making its last appearance this year. It’s aging out, and looking a little too rough around the edges, just like some of us. lol

Cheers!

Somewhere along the way (likely either on the icy Coquihalla, or entering or leaving the ferry to Vancouver Island) our Smart car bottomed out and dragged off the under-side coverings. I have an appointment at the Nanaimo Mercedes dealership in a couple of weeks to return protection to the underside of our little toad. Rolling with the punches…

Happy Thanksgiving 2021!

Warm fall weather is in the air, and leaves carpet the ground.

As Betty & I contemplate the next leg of our overlandish odyssey, we can’t help but be outrageously thankful for the many blessings we experience in this life. 

Charlie enjoys the fall sunshine, while sitting on our lawn among the fallen leaves. He’s freshly groomed & checked by the vet: Ready to go!

Our four grown children, their partners, and our three grandchildren are a pleasure to connect with as they and we share our common and unique adventures. We are so fortunate to maintain strong lines of truthful communication, fostering love and respect for each other! Eternal thanks for all the mutual compassion and caring we experience.

Georgia hams it up during her birthday celebrations.
October born Luke, Lisa, Georgia, and Andrew share a birthday cake, while Isabella, James and Adam look on.

As with large swaths of North America, summer and fall (so far) in Manitoba brought much warmer temperatures, with not a lot of rainfall.  With the help of recent showers, summer drought has given way to green grass, ripening fields, and restored rivers and lakes. The little garden at our campsite has done well, with the black-eyed susans reaching the top of the trellis, and tomatoes continuing to ripen well on the vines. We are thankful for a plentiful harvest.

The barn quilt on our shed and vines in front of our woodpile are ready for winter.

In preparation for our travels, we took our motorhome in for service at Stylings RV, and our Smart to Lone Star Motors, the Mercedes dealership from whence it came. While the Smart was in the shop, we were forced to drive a new Mercedes Benz, as a free courtesy car. It was tough trying to figure out all those bells and whistles (lol). Fortunately, the Smart needed very little maintenance, so we were thankful to get our little toad back at a low cost.

We had to slum it with a new Mercedes Benz while our Smart car was in the shop.

This fall I experimented with epoxy for the first time. As noted in previous posts, our campsite sign was heavily damaged by moisture and insects last winter on Vancouver Island. It’s not perfect, but I poured epoxy on both sides, and hope that it is sufficiently sealed to weather the coming winter. If not, I have another identical, unused slab of wood in storage, and will start the signage from scratch next year. I’m thankful for the opportunity to putter with this craft project.

A generous coating of epoxy now covers both sides of our sign. Hope it works!
I coated our cracked bathroom sink with some extra epoxy, tinted blue – a tricky proposition since the epoxy was self-levelling, and the sink basin is far from level!

Of course, the highlight of this thanksgiving season was the family gathering at our son, Andrew’s home. He cooked a fabulous turkey, with everyone else bringing sides and desserts. 

A “before” pic of Andrew’s dining table, set for 13. Napkins and place settings courtesy of James.
Around the table from left: Andrew’s hands, Annie, Aurora, Mom, Georgia, Valerie, Kevin, Isabella, James, Luke, Adam & Lisa’s hands, Dad’s dinner (lol). Btw, the tablecloth re-appears at all family gatherings, with new sayings and artwork added to commemorate the occasions. The orange pumpkin place names went into a bag, to be drawn for Christmas presents.

Our blog cover photo can now be updated, and we can share a few more pics from our fall festivities.

The clan: Front row- Georgia, Nana, Valerie, Luke. Second row – James, Isabella, Jersey, Kevin. Back row – Dad, Andrew, Adam & Lisa.
Ok, here’s right to left: Lisa, Adam, Luke, James, Isabella & Kevin.
Now for the other side (need a better wide-angle lens. lol): Andrew, Annie, Aurora, Mom, Georgia, Valerie’s shoulder.

Last night was another warm evening in southern Manitoba, and we were able to share some time together with our neighbours, around a very pleasant campfire.

Our kind neighbour, Henny, enjoys the warmth of the campfire, a conversation with Betty (and Charlie), and a quilt, made especially for her by Betty.

Betty and I are reminded that, whatever pitfalls may come our way, there is much to be thankful for. Hoping you can also take some time to count your blessings and enjoy your own adventures in living!

Caught a pic of Bet while testing out the camera settings.
And a self-pic, using the camera’s interval timer setting.

Cheers!

Family Time

Betty and I had a unique – for us – heartwarming experience this week. Maybe it’s one that others take for granted. But for us, it was a time that brought back a lot of fond memories. Permit me to share what happened.

Before I start, here is a pic of the new LED directional light added over our work area. At $200., it turned out to be the most expensive item for our reno, but illuminates the space without the head-banging feature of the previous dining table light.

Over the past couple of decades, our family has gradually grown as our children matured and added partners. Along the way, we have welcomed three grandchildren (so far) into the clan, and very much enjoy larger and larger get-togethers, like the Christmas In July recounted in the July 19/21 post. Having 11 or 12 around the dining table is lots of fun!

Betty, Andrew, Lisa, Luke, Valerie, and the photographer met in our campsite add-a-room for some delicious Thai food, in honour of Betty’s birthday.

I’m not sure whose idea it was, but to celebrate Betty’s birthday, our kids decided that the six of us who experienced the first couple of decades together as a nuclear unit, should meet for dinner – no spouses or grandchildren joining us on this occasion. Betty loves Thai food, so Andrew picked up a generous order from Siam and brought it to our campsite. In some ways, it was like turning back the clock, as the six of us sat together at the table, sharing tales that connected all those present. Only now, we have all added another twenty years to our lives, so our perspective on past and present circumstances has changed. Especially as our children have children, they can see how some things that go around, also come around. lol.

Lisa finds the massaman curry, her favourite!

Afterward, we sat by a campfire while Andrew serenaded us on his guitar, even adding music to the words of the Travellin’ Song (see June 17/2020 post) that I wrote during quarantine. Despite the smoke from the initially wet wood, the fire warmed our space while our hearts were warmed with a mature camaraderie.

Lisa and Luke are cloaked (or choked…) in smoke, as the new wet firewood starts up.

It’s been many decades since we experienced this unique sense of togetherness, and hope that we can find a way to make it a new tradition. Here’s hoping that you can also meaningfully connect with those you love!

Andrew strums his ever-present guitar, as Betty, Charlie, and Valerie enjoy the moment.

Cheers!

Valerie turned the camera on her dad, as he drank in the atmosphere of this unique family time. Cheers!

Weight Loss Reno

Our motorhome needed to lose some weight.

For much of our adventure so far, Betty & I have travelled on fairly flat land, so the weight of our coach has not been that much of an issue. But in this past year, as our home on wheels laboured up and down some very steep grades in the Rocky Mountains, we knew we had to do something to lighten up. We hope to visit a number of higher elevation U.S. national parks next year, so need to be prepared for the rigours of many steep inclines.

Our overweight and under-used sofa bed.

While camped on Vancouver Island last winter, Betty & I talked about what we were carrying with us; what we needed; and what we could live without. One of the largest, heaviest items in our RV was the sofa bed in the living-room, which we rarely used as a bed. Could we live without it, and what were the alternatives?

A “before” pic of our dinette.

I sketched up some reno plans, including the possibility of putting a couple of Euro recliners in the space occupied by the couch. But shopping on-line brought only confusion. The prices, quality, and ratings seemed all over the place. Like choosing a comfortable pair of shoes, was it possible to order chairs on-line without sitting in them first? How do you send them back if they don’t fit?

The couch & dinette were removed from our slide-out, revealing some interesting patterns and colour changes in our carpet.

As most know, Betty is a very crafty person and a portion of our bedroom has been taken over by sewing machines, quilts, and all manner of knitting. Could the space occupied by our dinette be reconfigured to facilitate quilting, at the same time as providing office space for both of us?

A section of the new office space provides room for a couple of phones. The land line in the background requires a very long cord, and doesn’t do so well for face-timing. lol

In the end, we decided on a fairly simple, cost-effective reno. The sofa bed was removed and passed over to our next-door neighbours, Brian and Henny, who were able to install the couch in their coach. The dinette benches, with underneath storage, were removed and re-positioned in an L shape where our couch had been. 

Our newly configured living room space, maintaining under-seat storage.

I picked up one cupboard, a shelf, and some wood trim from Home Depot, and went to work creating a new space. I re-purposed one of the drawers from our dinette, adding it to the cupboard, along with our printer which had previously lived in the back of the bedroom. Btw, the printer’s prior home was so bumpy that when we drove, we always had to move it onto our bed for safety. The new cupboard location should be much more stable, allowing us to leave it in place, with all necessary supplies in easy reach.

A new home for printer and office supplies. The ice maker is below, on the far left.

I cut our existing dining table in half, mounting it over the cupboard and attaching it to the new shelf. Adding folding brackets to the other half of the table allows it to be folded down against the cupboard while in transit. I purchased folding dining chairs for use at the table extension. These chairs can now be easily stowed beside the seating in the living room when our home is moving down the road.

Our dining chairs fold up and store safely for travel.
Our table folds out of the way, when the slide-out is in. Btw, a new flush-mounted directional light bar has been ordered to replace the light that was over the dining table.

Our kind neighbour, Brian, helped me install another electrical outlet above the new shelf in the office area, and we have added a basket for phone and Ipad storage and charging. The L-shaped work space is large enough to accommodate a new air fryer, which we absolutely love for creating fresh, flavourful meals. (Another blog post could be written just about that great appliance!) Below the counter, in the back corner of the L, is room for our ice maker. This fairly recent addition replaces the ice maker we had removed from our freezer, which we never used and which occupied too much of our limited freezer space.

Our new/old dining table, with the fabulous air fryer in the background.

In the living room, we added a 28” square lightweight aluminum coffee table, which can also be raised to dining height. While travelling, it fits neatly in a small bag that will live under one of the dinette seats. 

Our lightweight but sturdy coffee table.

Overall, the reno was extremely cost-effective, and will be easy to change again if we find we don’t like it. We have sent our slide-out in and out a few times, and everything seems to move – or stay in place – as it should. But the main thing is this: Our motorhome lost some weight, and will be in better shape to climb the mountains on the remainder of our overlandish odyssey. 

The table extends to dining height, but folds and fits in a bag under one of the living room seats, when travelling.

Here’s hoping that all of us can carry a little less excess baggage around on our life journeys!

The end result of our little weight loss reno. Seems to work so far…

Cheers!

Christmas In July

Valerie and Isabella made a special rice crispy cake, with a sand snowman, in honour of our celebrations .

In our family, it seems any excuse for a party is a good one. Due to the coronavirus, Betty & I were unable to return to Winnipeg from Vancouver Island for Christmas. We missed out on all the traditional family celebrations, and decided to replicate some of our usual dead-of-winter festivities in the heat of summer. I have to admit that a number of family members were disappointed that I didn’t replay the Queen’s annual Christmas message for them, but I guess I’ll just have to save that for another get-together. Lol. Here’s a few candid shots from the gathering at our current campsite in Manitoba.

In preparation for the big event, I completed a once annual wash and hand wax of our home on wheels. It’s still looking pretty good after all these years, and a recent professional appraisal puts it at a higher value than we thought. Not that we are planning on changing homes any time soon…
A blue Christmas tree was added to our site, with the motorhome trimmed for the occasion. Charlie’s having a nap on the far left, before all the excitement began.
Some of Betty’s seasonal quilts made an appearance, along with our Christmas lights & trim..
Including a nativity scene for our trellis.
Valerie came attired for the occasion with her favourite Christmas dress. She joined her brother, Andrew, who apparently took a wrong turn on the way to this week’s Calgary Stampede. lol
Andrew’s friend, Annie, and her daughter, Aurora, were able to join us for the get-together. Hoping they weren’t overwhelmed by the experience! (Or if they were, hope it was in a good way – lol)
James, Georgia, and Isabella (in the background) check out the Christmas candies we picked up in Banff on our way back to Manitoba. Lisa enjoys one of my world famous margaritas, while Adam and Betty look on.
Kevin catches up with Andrew, Annie, and Aurora (the “A” Team) on the other side of the circle.
Isabella hams it up for the camera on a hot and humid summer day.
Her sister, Georgia, was all smiles as she prepared for an afternoon of slip-n-slide, to cool off from the current heat wave.
As in much of western Canada and the U.S., Winnipeg has been experiencing record temperatures this summer. Here is the reading from our gauge a couple of weeks ago.
Andrew cooked a delicious turkey for dinner, with everyone contributing extras. Btw, that’s Luke between Andrew & Betty. The photographer was between our two sons.
No Christmas dinner would be complete without Mom’s famous trifle. In this case it’s a black forest trifle with fresh cherries on top. Yum!

It was great to have everyone together again, although it wasn’t until they all left that I realized we hadn’t updated the photo on the cover of this blog. Well I guess we now have another reason for a party, incorporating the Queen’s Christmas message, of course! Hope that, as we all transition from the effects of this long-lasting pandemic, you can all find the time to get together again with family and friends, celebrating whatever this life and times has in store.

The day before our Christmas in July, Betty & I were able to meet up with my grade 9 locker partner, Doug Firby, who is currently on a cross-Canada bicycle tour. You can follow his adventures at connectour.ca. Great to be able to catch up a little on a visit to The Forks!

Cheers!

Planning Ahead

Do any of us really know what the future holds? The last year and a half has shown us all that things don’t necessarily turn out as planned. Betty & I developed a 5 year plan to visit 48 states and 10 provinces. To date, our overlandish odyssey has taken us to 39 states and 9 provinces. But as with everyone else, COVID-19 has set us back a bit. Here’s our latest update:

The sunset views from our current campsite are far more dramatic than anything we could see at Living Forest in Nanaimo. It’s nice to see the prairie sky again!

On return to Winnipeg at the end of April, we completed our 2 week quarantine, and secured 2 negative COVID tests before getting our first vaccines. As we await our second injections, Betty & I are re-visiting plans for our continued adventures. We have a campsite booked for the winter at Living Forest Oceanside Campground in Nanaimo, British Columbia, and are on a waiting list for a site with an ocean view. If the Canada-U.S. border is open by the fall, we hope to travel through the northern states as far as Glacier National Park in Montana, before heading north again to visit friends in Calgary, Alberta.

Last year we planted our campsite with micro clover. It’s coming up nicely but is still a multi-year project to reach maturity.

Today we rebooked our Christmas flights from Nanaimo to Winnipeg. They had been cancelled due to the pandemic, so we’re hoping for better luck in 2021…

Here’s another view of our micro clover lawn. It’s quite healthy and doesn’t require much mowing. We still need to get that add-a-room up.

If restrictions are lifted, we hope to travel down the U.S. west coast, starting mid-April, 2022. With a preference for on-the-fly boondocking, we likely won’t make a lot of advanced campground reservations – although I have recorded the dates when bookings can be made at a couple of our favourite oceanside campsites in Washington and Oregon.

Water and beetle larvae damaged our sign on the wet coast. I have now begun the restoration process.

In our latest plan, we are eliminating visits to the major urban areas around Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, in order to free up more time for National Park visits to Olympic, Redwood, Yosemite, Sequoia, Death Valley, Mohave Desert, Zion, Grand Canyon North Rim, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches, Mesa Verde, Black Canyon of the GunnisonGrand Teton, and Yellowstone National Parks. (Thank goodness for the America The Beautiful park pass!). We would then head east to Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming (featured in Close Encounters of the Third Kind), and Mt. Rushmore, on our way back to Manitoba.  Further planning is needed to decide which National Park areas are accessible by motorhome, and which require day trips in the Smart car. But these days we do have lots of “planning ahead” time. lol

Here’s the other side of our water-damaged sign. I have sanded off the bad spots and hope to coat it in epoxy.

If we survive all that, we have mapped out a journey down the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Great Smoky Mountains, ending with a winter along the Gulf shores, from Florida’s panhandle to South Padre Island in Texas. Our return would take us from the mouth of the mighty Mississippi River in Louisiana, to the river’s source(s) in Minnesota.

In the meantime, I’ve added a coat of Varathane, and it’s marking our site again.

Our bucket list still includes a return to Quartzsite, Arizona, a flight and RV tour of Newfoundland, and a possible caravan into Mexico. But I think we’ve done enough planning ahead for now. May you enjoy life’s upcoming adventures, whether you planned them ahead of time – or not… Stay safe!

Here comes the sun again over the Canadian prairies. Yeah!!

Cheers!