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.!
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.
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!
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…
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!
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?
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our blog cover photo can now be updated, and we can share a few more pics from our fall festivities.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Here’s hoping that all of us can carry a little less excess baggage around on our life journeys!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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…
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.
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 Gunnison, Grand 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
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.
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!
Following the twists and turns, ups and downs of the last post, Betty & I experienced more smooth sailing across the prairies to our summer campsite at Town & Country in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Here’s a brief summary:
So Betty & I are back in site 168, quarantining for the next two weeks. After that we look forward to reconnecting with friends and family again, and enjoying a safe & peaceful summer stay in Manitoba.
Wishing you a safe and peaceful experience, wherever life finds you!
Life can be full of ups and downs. In the past few days, Betty & I have seen our fair share. This post captures a little of what we saw and experienced as we headed east from our winter home on Vancouver Island.
British Columbia introduced new COVID-19 travel restrictions this week, indicating that those outside of their health zone could be fined, and that BC ferries might no longer take recreational vehicles on board. Just in case this affected us, we bailed early.
The motorhome had been running a little rough on our first day, but I thought it was because our gas was six months old. I had filled up last October before we parked for the season on Vancouver Island. I considered adding some gas-line additive, but didn’t want to go into the store. I also thought about using a higher octane, but it was too expensive…
From then on, Betty & I really experienced our ups and downs. While the scenery was majestic, after we passed Revelstoke, the battery light appeared on our dash for the first time ever, and flickered on and off through the Rogers Pass. From time to time, we would lose most of our power, dropping down to 30 mph, even when there was no margin to pull off the road. While I drove much of the time with my hazard lights on, I was never sure the motor wouldn’t finally die in the middle of the Trans-Canada Highway.
Limping into Golden BC around 5:30 pm, we contacted Columbia Diesel, and staff said they would take a look at our motorhome first thing in the morning. In the meantime, we were welcome to stay the night in their large parking lot.
I met up with service manager Derek Phillips at 7:30 am the next morning, and he assigned Guy, a very able mechanic, to diagnose our problem right way.
We pulled right into a bay in their heated shop, and were able to stay in our coach for the duration. Even though we had replaced our alternator before leaving Manitoba, it and our chassis battery had both died. By noon, Guy had replaced them both, and we were on the road again. BTW, the replaced alternator is still under warranty, so hope to be reimbursed when we get back to Manitoba.
Continuing our ups and downs, the TransCanada Highway (#1) was closed from Golden to Banff, so we had to detour south through Radium Hot Springs.
Now that the clouds have lifted, Betty & I hope that the road east won’t visit us with so many ups and downs. Just as we hope for straight, smooth sailing, we wish the same for you!