This is just a quick update on a few of our campsite improvements. Hope you can enjoy the day, even from a distance…
With the coronavirus still around us, now is not the time for travellin’, although I end this post with a travellin’ song I wrote during our quarantine. It is still a work in progress, with our dear son Andrew assisting with the musical arrangement. Watch for it at the top of the charts in the near future! Lol.
Speaking of work in progress, at the end of our last post I mentioned that we had begun upgrading our seasonal campsite at Town & Country RV Park in Winnipeg. This pictorial post chronicles that process.
Well, as you can see, we haven’t been doing much travelling this month. Our plans are to stay put here until October, when we hope to head west to Vancouver Island for the winter. Campgrounds there stay open year-round. Yeah! In the meantime, here’s the first draft of that travellin’ song. Enjoy!
A Travellin’ Song
Mountains and plains
Rivers and rain
What are we all going to see?
When the rat-race entwines
And we need to unwind
Where can we go to break free?
Travel free with me
Travel free with me
Let us see all that we need to see
When the road takes us up
Let’s go to the top
And enjoy nature’s true reverie.
There are settings on earth
That fill us with mirth
With a joy that is really sublime
When we go there we find
Another place and a time
That lets us feel fully alive.
Travel free from the hate.
Get out of the gate
To see a world full of surprises
Enjoy travel time
And the people we find
Sharing love that brings joy to our lives.
Wherever we go
Let’s remember to sow
The seeds of a love that unites
Bring peace to this earth
Join hands round its girth
And end all the stress and the fights.
When this life is over
Did we take time to discover
The miracles of people and places?
Did we find joy in travel
And wonder and marvel
At all that put smiles on our faces?
From oceans to ponds
From deserts to lawns
There is so much that we need to see
Join us on our journey
Wherever roads may lead
And learn to forever break free!
Graham Reddoch 2020
Tomorrow we celebrate Mothers’ Day, but today would have been my mother’s birthday – May 9. Betty & I are still staying put at Town & Country RV Park on the outskirts of Winnipeg Manitoba, so don’t have access to our archived family info., confirming Mom’s birthdate and the year she passed. Our memories aren’t what they used to be, but she would likely have been close to 100 years old now. We still miss her after many, many years. Mom was a great lady, but like those born on Dec. 25, her cards and presents were always combined – happy birthday slash mothers’ day… In hindsight, not sure how fair that was to her, since she should have been doubly celebrated every day of the year! Betty would say “ditto” for her mom too.
In my humble opinion, Betty has also been a great mom to our four grown kids, and a fine Nana to our three grandkids. (Can’t say she is a great grandma quite yet. Lol) Usually we would be getting together as a family to celebrate motherhood, but for everyone, this year is different.
Not only has the coronavirus been keeping us apart, it has also been creating a time warp, where days, weeks and months seem to blend together, and it is difficult to remember whether or not we are coming or going. It feels like we’re all caught in a recurring episode of “The Twilight Zone”, a TV series that scared the crap out of me as a kid!
Time may seem to be standing still, but we need to appreciate the benefits of delayed gratification. The definition of delayed gratification is “The ability to delay the impulse for an immediate reward to receive a more favorable reward at a later time.” Right now it is tempting to lose patience in waiting for the virus to pass, waiting for a treatment, or waiting for a vaccine. We want to return to normal and create a bright future, because being cooped up in isolation from friends and family is definitely not normal. But an even worse second wave can hit us if we disregard health warnings before COVID-19 is under control. Hold on!
Mothers’ Day 2020 is likely to be much different from any we have experienced in the past, and hopefully much different from all future Mothers’ Days. But we can still take the time to recognize and appreciate the unselfish efforts of our moms, the moms of our kids, and the moms of our grandkids. In my case, it’s a remembered hug with my mom, a real warm hug with the love of my life – my wife, and a virtual hug with our kids and grandkids. Looking forward to the real ones all round in future!
Stay safe, stay home, stay healthy and we’ll get through this together. Happy Mothers’ Day!
“Strange days have found us
Strange days have tracked us down
They’re going to destroy
Our casual joys
We shall go on playing
Or find a new town
Even though The Doors lead singer, Jim Morrison, is long gone (1943-1971), the words to many of his eerily dark, moody, mysterious and strange songs seem to resonate in these unpredictable times: Strange days indeed!
Back in the day, only teenyboppers and groupies showed outward excitement during live performances by popular bands. It just wasn’t cool to do more than nod appreciatively for a great song by an epic group. I was fortunate to attend live gigs by nearly all of the legends of rock ‘n roll, from Jimi Hendrix to Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane, The Who and of course, The Doors. This was long before cell phones and their ever-present cameras, so there was little opportunity to chronicle these historic events. In fact, the saying goes “If you remember the ‘60s, you really weren’t there!” lol
Only once did I take my Kodak Instamatic camera to a concert, and it was The Doors at Cobo Hall in Detroit in the late ‘60s. Not sure if I even tried to use that little flash cube on top, which illuminated one shot before it died and turned 90 degrees. In keeping with their dark and sultry songs, the stage area wasn’t well lit, and the pictures are very grainy, even though I was less than 50′ from the stage. I’m sure if I didn’t tell my son, Luke, that he was looking at Jim Morrison, he wouldn’t have known.
What the coronavirus has done for us all, as we continue to self-isolate and social distance from friends and family, is give us an opportunity for reflection. Those days hanging out at the Eastown and Grande Ballrooms in Detroit were not necessarily the best of times (although as I teenager I thought they were pretty great!) but they were part of the ongoing story of my life, and that of much of our generation.
Even with its ups and downs, Betty & I have found that our overlandish odyssey has been one of the best adventures of our lives so far. COVID-19 has us cooped up in a small living space, with little or no face-to-face contact with the rest of the world, but we will all get through this together – as the sign on our daughter’s window declares – and we will gain a greater appreciation for the connections we have with each other, strange days or not.
“Strange days have found us
And through their strange hours
We linger alone
As we run from the day
To a strange night of stone.”
Song written by Jim Morrison, 1967
“Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
I don’t know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
Look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
Looking into their eyes I see them running too
Running on, running on empty
Running on, running blind
Running on, running into the sun
But I’m running behind.”
Like all other Canadian snowbirds, Betty & I were told to head for home before the COVID- 19 virus catches up with us. In addition to our regular travelling songs, Jackson Browne’s “Running On Empty” seemed to capture our mood and experience, but it could just as easily have been Bruce Springsteen’s “Baby We Were Born To Run”, Ten Years After’s “Going Home” or “The Long & Winding Road” by the Beatles. Lol
From the Painted Rock Petroglyph campsite, we headed east on Interstates 8 &10 to the Pima County Fair campground, where the FMCA International gathering was to be held this month. Of course, everything is cancelled. Lots of full-service sites were available, and for $28. we were able to flush out our tanks (after a winter of limited flushing) and re-fill our water.
Our next night was spent at a quiet Boondockers Welcome spot in Deming, New Mexico. In keeping with social distancing rules, we were able to stay well away from our hosts, who were back at their home base in North Dakota at the time. The site is a vacant lot on a dirt lane, but served our purpose well.
By the time we reached Coronado Campground in Bernalillo, New Mexico, where we had previously enjoyed a stay while visiting nearby Albuquerque & Santa Fe, the campground was reduced to its ordered limit of half capacity, with no sites available, even for dry camping.
After a pleasant night at a roadside rest area just south of Santa Fe, we continued north, without a visit to the beautiful, but closed, downtown shops and art galleries.
In our last post we mentioned our intention to continue north to Denver, before turning east. For some reason our radiator appeared to be guzzling antifreeze (we couldn’t see a leak anywhere) and our engine temp. gauge kept rising into the warning zone. We had been enjoying the scenery on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains (in that area known as the Sangre De Cristo Mountains) but decided to turn toward the prairies when we got to Trinidad, Colorado. Our engine temp. returned to normal on the flatland, which was a relief!
We were soon on the kind of flatland familiar to prairie dwellers, and decided to stop for the night in a turn-off beside grain elevators in the small town of Pritchett, Colorado. It seemed like a quiet town that has seen better days, with most buildings on their short main street boarded up or abandoned.
A couple of pick-up trucks passed by in the evening, but no one approached, which seemed fine due to the rules around social distancing. Betty & I had been on the desolate roads since early morning, and chose to turn in around 8:45 pm. When a gunshot was heard nearby at 9:00 pm, we leapt out of bed, deciding it was time to find another resting stop for the night!
We had our slides in and motor running in record time, and were on the road again before finding out whether we had heard a warning shot, or just a farmer shooting a nuisance skunk. Lol
Springfield, Colorado is only 16 miles east of Pritchett, and contains a truck stop that was full of 18 wheelers when we arrived. We nestled in for a peaceful sleep before heading to the famous Dodge City, Kansas the next morning.
Betty has always wanted to tell me “Get outa Dodge!” so that is what we did after topping up with cheap gas at the local Flying J.
Later that day, we turned north at Salina, Kansas, onto a road often travelled in our trips to the south. A northbound rest area near Salina was our overnight campsite.
From there we continued north and then east to Pine Grove RV Park, between Lincoln & Omaha, Nebraska. Paying $44. for a full-service site was the most we had spent on accommodation for a long time (Our total campground cost from Yuma to Winnipeg was less than $100.) but it gave us a last opportunity to dump & top up before returning to Canada.
Our final night in the U.S. was in Fargo’s Walmart parking lot, where we were shocked to see high rows of snow piled across the lot.
Just after noon on Friday, we approached the normally busy border crossing by Emerson, Manitoba. Only one lane was open, and only two cars preceded us, with no-one behind. Nearly all information exchanged was coronavirus related, and after receiving our 14 day quarantine instructions, we were on our way to Winnipeg.
It’s been quite the run, and while we’re not quite running on empty, we are somewhat exhausted by the stress of dealing with the unexpected risks related to COVID-19. While hotels, motels and restaurants were closed, shopping malls exhibited huge vacant parking lots, and almost only commercial trucks shared the roads with us, we were still able to get gas along the way, always donning disposable gloves and paying at the pump. We didn’t stop for groceries since leaving Yuma, and were happy our daughter & her husband, Kevin, could drop emergency supplies at our door.
Yes, it was an unexpected long and winding road, but it’s great to be back with our family, even though we can only visit them through glass and share virtual hugs for the next two weeks. Hope you can stay safe and healthy through this strange time, wherever the roads take you.
The world has changed immeasurably in the past few weeks with the pandemic spread of the coronavirus. Every day new unprecedented major decisions are taken by local, national, and international leaders in efforts to control the expansion of this deadly virus. Everyone is being asked to do the right thing to curtail the advancement of Covid-19. And so, many friends and family members who follow our adventures have been asking about how Betty & I are coping, and what our immediate plans are. Do we plan to head for Winnipeg or shelter in place?
On the one hand, the U.S. and Canadian governments are discouraging travel, because most known cases are currently travel-related. And on the other snowbirds like us are encouraged to make a beeline back to Canada, in case the border becomes closed. As it stands, all discretionary travel is banned or limited, and some travel health insurance providers are warning that coverage may soon be ended. We have Manitoba Health and CAA coverage, but will it last if we do not immediately return to the province?
For us, our motorhome is our home, and provides the best opportunity to safely “shelter in place”. We have been staying in the Arizona desert for the past four months, and there are few better places to practice social distancing, if that is what is required. We are fairly self-contained, with our own kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedroom, and as a general rule are already camped at least forty feet from our nearest neighbours.
Also, at the end of March and beginning of April, winter hasn’t left Winnipeg yet, and our motorhome would need to be winterized with antifreeze to prevent the plumbing from freezing and bursting. It would still be too cold to live safely or comfortably in our home, even if the local campgrounds were open, which I don’t believe is the case.
Yes, we have four grown children in Winnipeg with their own homes, but how easy is it to self-quarantine in someone else’s home, especially where grandchildren are involved?
So under the circumstances, what is the right thing?
Our original plan saw us heading into California for a leisurely, scenic drive through Joshua Tree National Park, the Mojavi Desert, Death Valley, Sequoia National Park, and Yosemite National Park, before heading east past Lake Tahoe, Reno, Nevada, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Mount Rushmore, among other attractions on that route. We would not be back in Winnipeg until we knew the snow was gone.
As new information is presented, we have literally changed our travel plans daily in the past week or so. About two weeks ago I was headed out to dump our black & grey tanks, and fill up with fresh water. But when I pushed the button to retract our living-room slide, nothing happened. With the able assistance of a number of kind neighbours, we discovered that the slide-out motor had broken loose from its mounting bracket. I searched on-line for a replacement motor, to no avail. One of our neighbours was able to remove the motor, and another manually cranked in our living room. Yet another neighbour supplied us with water, and offered to pump out our holding tanks, if necessary. But once we were mobile again, I performed the original task and took the motor to a machine shop in Yuma for welding.
The day before yesterday Betty & I said good-bye to Quartzsite and our great neighbours, and turned south toward Yuma, Arizona. Just before Yuma is another BLM campground, on the California side of the Colorado River, where we spent a quiet night. Known as Imperial Dam, we were finally able to add state #38 to our sticker map, before heading to C & C Machine Shop in Yuma yesterday.
Manuel and his great staff at C & C did a fabulous job of repairing the motor, and welding a plate under one of our holding tanks, which had been sagging. He also found some of our lithium battery cables to be loose, and tightened them before sending us safely on our way.
Tonight we are at the Painted Rock Petroglyph campground, west of Tucson, where we had stayed on a prior trip.
Given all of the current information, the answer to the question in the title is: We are headed to Winnipeg! Right now our plan is to take a fairly direct route through Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico, before heading up through Denver, Colorado, and over to Nebraska, South and North Dakota, and back into Canada. We expect to cross into Canada by the end of March, and will need to sort out living arrangements along the way.
Obviously, Betty & I aren’t the only ones trying to make sense of this crisis. The grocery stores visited this week are out of toilet paper and other basics, as some people feel the need to horde. While some states have announced the closure of campgrounds and even highway rest areas, we hope that gas stations and other essential travel services will remain available during this most interesting leg of our adventure.
While it’s not what any of us planned, Betty & I hope that we all can stay safe and roll with the punches, whether you shelter in place or head for home. Regardless of what comes our way, keep your chin up and wash your hands!
As full-time RVers, Betty & I follow the axiom on our doormat: “Home is where we park it”. Through our travels we have found many kind, friendly folk with whom we have shared stories and life adventures for a matter of minutes, or maybe days, and sometimes months. While even brief encounters can be extremely meaningful and memorable, our longer stays have resulted in lingering friendships, based often on a common love for travel and our shared encounters in that particular location.
One of our first experiences with a sense of neighbourhood – and neighborliness while on the road – came from our stay at Isla Blanca Park on South Padre Island, Texas. The full-service sites in this county park are fairly close together, and many residents on our “street” near the beach were seasonal campers who had been going to not only the same park, but the same campsite, for 20 years or more. They were able to point to fully-mature palm trees and shrubs that they had planted years ago. Betty & I were warmly welcomed and invited to join in on local activities. It created a most enjoyable experience!
While we had made a two week visit to Quartzsite a couple of years ago, and enjoyed our encounters with fellow travellers at that time, Betty & I had no idea what to expect as we planned an extended stay in the Arizona desert.
There are no assigned parking spots on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land where we are staying, and campers can park as near or as far from others as they choose, although the local rule is not to set up closer than 40 feet from your neighbour, unless you are invited to do so.
We fairly arbitrarily chose a spot in La Posa West Long-Term Visitor Area, although there are thousands of acres of BLM land set aside for short or long-term camping stays. We chose the west side of the main dirt road, as the wind tends to blow from the west, so campers on the near east side receive more dust from passing ATVs and other vehicles. We chose to park near one of the “washes”, as the trees and other vegetation are a little more robust there. And we chose to not park too far from downtown Quartzsite, so we can make easy trips in for groceries and other necessities.
The hand painted sign at the entrance to our “loop”, or cul-de-sac, as they would say in French (lol) identifies it as “Rattlesnake Flat”, although apparently the snakes have remained in hibernation for the duration of our visit so far. That’s fine with us! lol
As mentioned in prior posts, Betty & I have met all of our near-by neighbours, and find we thoroughly enjoy their company. We are living in a very laid-back, impromptu neighbourhood, where there are no raised angry voices, and generally there doesn’t appear to be a care in the world! Everyone seems to go out of their way to be helpful, and to watch out for their neighbours. It’s a very safe place to be. The warm sun shines almost every day, providing enough solar power to keep us going without those pesky hydro bills. The cost of our campsite can’t be beat – $180. for seven months – so it’s possible to live on a very modest budget in this community. There is a lot to do locally (including a quilt guild and a free golf course, as previously noted), so travel further afield is optional. While there are a number of local restaurants, we enjoy preparing meals at our home base, often outside on our trusty Weber bbq.
After dinner, it has become customary to join our neighbours at a communal fire. One neighbour has a large truck that he has regularly loaded with free firewood from Yuma to the south, and Alamo Lake to the northeast.
Those who know me know that I cannot sing, but do know one campfire song: The Mountain Dew song. Well one night I sang a few verses, until Betty told me to stop and another neighbour encouraged me to continue. Following the rule “Happy wife = happy life” I shut up, but prepared a few more verses for the next evening’s fire.
Now known as Kevin’s Quartzsite Fire Choir, in honour of our campfire host, we have the following verses, with hopes of one day making our Grand Ole’ Opry debut:
The Quartzsite Mountain Dew Song
Well they call it that good ol' mountain, mountain dew, And them that refuse it are few. I'll shut up my mug if you'll fill up my jug With that good ol' mountain dew!
Well my good friend Kevin Is in a little part of heaven In the Arizona desert known as Q Every night he lights a fire And the only way to get higher Would be drinkin’ that good ol’ mountain dew! (Chorus)
Well then there was Pat She just said “Imagine that We’ve assembled us quite a crazy crew! They’re in Quartzsite for some beer But what they really need is here – It’s a cistern of that good ol’ mountain dew!” (chorus) Well my neighbour Bruce He came lookin’ for the juice He was wondrin’ if it was really true If Kevin lights a fire Is he really gonna get higher By drinkin’ that good ol’ mountain dew? (chorus) Well there’s Cathy & Gary The way they golf it is scary Every shot is another woo hoo! They put the ball on the green On every hole that I’ve seen Because they both had lots of good ol’ mountain dew! (chorus) Well our neighbour Marvin He comes out with dear wife Ardith To discover what’s all that ballyhoo? His neighbours just won’t be quiet Are they getting in a fight Over who drank up that good ol’ mountain dew? (chorus) Well Darlene & Dale Have a life that just won’t fail They're having fun in everything they do Whether going on a cruise Or with Debbie they can’t lose ‘Cause they’re chuggin’ lots of good ol’ mountain dew! (chorus) Well Betty’s sitting by the fire Her eyes sparkle like sapphires Is that love she shares with even me and you? No, it’s just a touch of lust Mixed with all that Quartzsite dust And a hearty dose of good ol’ mountain dew! (chorus) Well Mike & Elaine think this place is insane What’s with all of these crazy yahoos? What brings everyone to Quartzsite? Is it because no one’s uptight? Or ‘cause we’re hankerin’ for more good ol’ mountain dew? (chorus) Well Bob is a dear On his bike there’s no fear His rides around here are more than just a few Is he looking for a drink To whet his whistle don’t you think He’s just on a search for good ol’ mountain dew? (chorus) Well Charlie’s dawg-gone pretty Even though he’s awful dirty He really needs a very good shampoo But the problem here tonight: There’s no water in Quartzsite So we’ll have to wash with good ol’ mountain dew! (chorus)
The summer I turned 16 I met this adorable young petite blonde girl from Windsor, Nova Scotia. She had come to Toronto to spend the summer with her grandmother, aunt, uncle and family. She came to my house with a friend and met my brother Bill and *BAM *- he was head over heals in love. Heather went home after her visit but was quick to return to live with her grandmother, and that began the love of a lifetime between Heather and Bill.
Heather and I attended high school together at Western in Toronto and became very close friends. Heather and Bill married shortly after her graduation.
Heather was a great wife, mother, grandmother , good friend and sister. We went through trials and tribulations with joy and love We were family.
When Heather was first diagnosed with cancer it was shocking to all of us. Her prognosis was poor but she was a fighter and the 3 months that she was given turned into 26. She fought hard to be here for family but in the end cancer won. She went quietly from this world on Monday February 24, 2020.
Valerie and Lisa flew from Manitoba and I from Arizona to Ontario to be with our family. Heather will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
Rest In Peace my dear sister. We will miss you.
What could Betty & I possibly do to occupy four months in the Arizona desert? Surely we would get bored out of our tree – except the word “tree” must be used loosely here, since most are sad looking scrub bushes, withering in the winter heat. Today we found yet another answer regarding how we can spend our time.
We were invited by our neighbours to play a round at Quartzsite’s famous golf and country club – well except the country club is a falling down single-seater outhouse that we don’t think is suitable for use any more – certainly not a place to join together for 19th hole festivities. Lol.
I had purchased new clubs last winter in Florida, and took beginner lessons in Winnipeg last spring, but Betty hasn’t been on the links since we had to invite the 23rd group to ‘play through’ on the first hole of Bayfield, Ontario’s Bluewater golf course. If it had been a par 30, she likely would have holed at 10 over par…lol. That was at least 40 years ago, and she wasn’t too inclined to give it a try again. Truth be told, after that experience, I wasn’t too inclined to invite her to join me either…
But this was different. This is desert golf!
The first step in desert golf is to ensure you don’t use a good set of clubs. Instead, I visited a local flea market where I perused the options. Told I only needed one club – a 5 iron – the flea market proprietor attempted to upsell me. He claimed I should also have 3 & 8 irons. I hesitated and said “but how much would that set me back?” He replied “$6.” and I assumed he was talking about $6. EACH. So I said “I’ll just take the 5 iron.” He says “OK, that’s two bucks.” I said “two dollars, are you kidding me?” When he replied “No” I said “OK, I’ll take all 3 clubs”, and he graciously threw in 3 golf balls with the deal. We were set!
The second step is to take the dirt road to the course, but don’t bother taking your wallet: There are no green fees, because there are no greens! This is the desert, remember. Also, there are no real fairways, and by the way, there are really no rules either. It’s all just for fun!
Since golf tees don’t hold up well in this rocky terrain, we were issued little orange ball holders, with awards given for whomever’s ball holder gets wacked the furthest. And you need to re-tee the ball for every hit, since many lies would break those expensive clubs. If one is lucky enough to birdie a hole, Cathy carries a pocket full of noisy little battery-operated birds that must be clipped to the brim of your hat until the next hole. I never did get to see what the eagle looked like. Lol
Well, in fact we did laugh out loud the whole round, and very much look forward to playing the course again. Whoever said there was nothing to do for four months in the Arizona desert obviously has never been to the Quartzsite Golf Course!
Those who know me know that I am not much of a morning person, but we had to complete our round before noon, because the sun is a little too scorching after that. Despite the early morning rise, I’ll be back for more fun in the desert sun, bringing my handicap down one way or another! Cheers!
“Well I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
Well it goes like this:
The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
As our eldest son, Andrew, played the chords of Leonard Cohen’s song, Hallellujah, in the backyard of our Phoenix-area rented home, Betty & I enjoyed the company of our family for a belated Christmas celebration. We were in a community appropriately named Anthem, Arizona! Our fabulous week together can best be summed up in one word: Hallellujah!
For the first time in 40 years, we had not been together with our family for end-of-December festivities. Betty & I were anxious for a happy gathering to take place.
We didn’t want to drive our motorhome back to Winnipeg, necessitating winterizing and de-winterizing, and we didn’t want to put our aging golden doodle, Charlie, in a kennel and fly home. So we said to our family: “If we rent a house in Phoenix, will you come and spend a belated Christmas with us in January, when flights are cheaper again?” They all answered “yes”, and our gathering last week was the result. As a bonus, my brother, Allon, was able to fly down from the Yukon to spend a couple of days with us as well. A great time was had by all, with the following pictures providing some evidence.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience for a couple of full-time RVers to spend some quality time with their family. We hope that all who wander this earth can find opportunities to connect in ways that inspire and evoke the response of King George II, on hearing George Frideric Handel’s Messiah: Stand up and sing Hallelujah!
Belated Merry Christmas & Cheers!