Return To The Big Frickin Cactus

One of the sensational sentinels overlooking our site (#A56 at Gilbert Ray, near Tucson, Arizona).

If you remember back to Betty’s daily exclamation at Gilbert Ray Campground in Tucson Mountain Park (March 2018), there were a lot of very tall dramatic cacti keeping watch around our motorhome. Well, we’re back in Tucson, and in fact parked again in site A56 beside the same supersized succulent: A frickin big cactus! 

The same supersized succulent beside our bedroom window that caused Betty’s exclamations early last year.

Our westward journey from Monahans Sandhills State Park included overnight stops in El Paso, Texas and Wilcox, Arizona, with some awesome scenery along Interstate 10 through New Mexico. Rather than driving straight to Tucson, we veered south to the old wild west town of Tombstone, site of the shoot-out at the OK Corral and tons of western memorabilia.   

We met Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp and his brothers on the main street of Tombstone, before their infamous shoot-out in the Ok Corral.

Tombstone had been a silver mining town, but tourism now appears its major industry. A number of blocks are dedicated to western wear, western jewellery, saloons, gun fights, and all things glorifying the old wild west. Coach rides are available up and down the dusty streets.

Doc Holliday shoots at the “bad guy” cowboys in this re-enactment.

Betty & I watched a re-enactment of the gunfight at the OK Corral, along with a film and animated set depicting the history of the town. We took a stroll down the board sidewalks and peeked into a few shops. Fortunately, as full-timers in a tiny house, we were not tempted to add any bric-a-brac or other mementos to our current collection.

Betty goes buggy in Tombstone.
…and takes a fast ride. That’s no bull!

We drove the long way around to Tucson, intending to stay on BLM land to the west of the city. Arriving at dusk, we took our life (and our home on wheels) in our hands, driving off-road into a large tract of land dotted with RVs of all shapes and sizes. Following a dirt path through the scrub brush, we came to a small clearing that appeared perfect for our motorhome and Smart. This was to be our free home base for the next couple of days!

We took a stroll down Tombstone’s dusty main street yesterday.

Shortly after pulling in, a lady drove up and warned us that the spot where we had parked was a spongy patch of burnt orange clay (She had a technical term for the type of clay, but we had never heard of it). If we stayed, we might find our rig sinking down to the point where a tow truck would be needed to get us out. Just getting into the site was a very risky proposition, and getting out seemed like it could be even more treacherous, with a steep bank that was partly eroded by a recent rain.  We just had to laugh at our improbable situation as I gunned the motor to extricate us from the potential quagmire. 

The layered views around Tucson are truly amazing!

Thanks to our guardian angel, we moved on to solid ground at Gilbert Ray Campground, as it was then too dark to scout out other free parking. Even though we don’t need the 30 amp electrical service that comes with our site, the $20./ night charge is worth it for the amazing views provided at the site. 

Betty & Charlie relax in the afternoon sun.

Betty went for a hike on one of the many trails through Tucson Mountain Park, and I couldn’t stop taking pictures of one great big frickin cactus after another. We still have a couple more days here before heading north to Phoenix, but with so many pics of the perfectly prickly stuff, I just needed to put up a post.

Many, many succulent sentinels mark the path to our campsite at this Tucson area campground.

Cheers! 

Wyatt Earp and his brothers blast away during the gunfight at the OK Corral.
Another view of Tombstone’s main street.
Walter Brennan was one of the many Hollywood stars to get in on the act.
As usual, Betty checks the post prior to publishing, as Charlie rests at her feet.
At dusk, our flowers sit on the picnic table, with a dramatic backdrop.
Ok, the sun is finally setting, so it’s time to end this post. Cheers!

Westward Ho

“Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas
With Waylon and Willie and the boys
This successful life we’re livin’
Got us feuding like the Hatfields and McCoys
Between Hank Williams’ pain songs and
Newberry’s train songs and Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain
Out in Luckenbach, Texas ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain.”

Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas. If you can find it…

Ok, Waylon Jennings sang a catchy tune that made Betty & I look for this small town near picturesque Fredericksburg, Texas. When we arrived at our Harvest Host destination – the Messina Hof Winery – we asked the staff for directions. Turns out the road we took from San Antonio through Texas Hill Country passed by Luckenbach, so I guess we blinked and missed it. lol

Betty chats with other visitors to one of Fredericksburg’s wineries.

Since travelling far enough south to avoid the cold that seemed to chase us all the way from Canada, Betty & I are now westward ho, to our winter destination in Arizona.

One last day on the beach before our journey westward.

After taking one last visit to the beaches of North Padre Island and Mustang Island, we headed inland to San Antonio, where we had an appointment at Iron Horse RV to repair the leak in our fresh water tank, and replace our now-destroyed microwave oven.

We spent a couple of days and nights with the kind folk at Iron Horse RV, in San Antonio, while they worked on our coach.

It turned out the leak was just a matter of tightening a loose connection – no parts required. Yeah! But our microwave was another story. The old oven had won the battle when Betty & I tried to remove it, but it was no match for Iron Horse super technician, Tony, who removed it and replaced it with a new more energy efficient convection/ microwave/ grill that looks like it has always been there. No small feat for this odd-sized space! Tony was also able to seal up an unnecessary vent that did nothing but channel cold air into our coach whenever the temperature outside dropped.

Our new microwave/ convection/ grill oven looks like it’s always been there!

There are a number of wineries in Texas Hill Country, and Betty & I were able to sample and purchase a selection of Messina Hof Winery tasty offerings, before crashing for the night in their parking lot.

The Messina Hof Winery participates in the Harvest Host program, so we had a quiet night in their lot after sampling a variety of local Texas wines.
From Corpus Christi westward to El Paso, we have passed beaches, plains, hill country, mountains, plateaus and an odd assortment of bumps on the earth.

We marvelled at the wide range of terrain as we travelled west, with the next night spent in a dirt lot adjacent to the Fort Stockton Walmart. For the last couple of days we have been thoroughly enjoying camping in the dunes of Monahans Sandhills State Park, but are now headed west toward El Paso.

Our campsite (#21) at Monahans Sandhills State Park, was surrounded by fine grain sand dunes. It included 50 amp service, water, a picnic table & shelter for $15./ night.
A family enjoys sledding down one of the many hills. They look like snow sleds, but that’s not snow!…
While it was not windy at Monahans Sandhills State Park, the fine sand shifted enough each night to capture fresh tracks from a wide range of insects, reptiles, and animals.

As we head west, this may be our last day in the everything’s bigger state of Texas. It’s been a great adventure so far, and there ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain.

The main street of Fredericksburg, a suburb of Luckenbach (lol).

Cheers! 

We didn’t stay in Fredericksburg for the Christmas parade that night, but some people had their chairs ready for it early in the day.
You need to angle park your pick-up truck on the main street of Fredericksburg, a town populated by German immigrants.
We had picked up some flowers, and finally got our sign out at Monahans Sandhills State Park. Cheers and Westward Ho!

At The Beach!

Well, this post was intended to be entitled “On The Beach!”, but you know where good intentions can get you. No, we are not on the paved road to hell: We are at Padre Balli Park on North Padre Island. While it is fairly hot – currently 29c – it is far from hell on earth!

Betty, Charlie & our Smart and I soak up the hot sun at the North Padre Island beach.

Let me explain how we got here.

We watched the warm waves roll toward our car as the tide came in.

As previously noted, our travel plans are best written in jello – or in this case sand. From Palo Duro Canyon we had planned on heading west to Santa Fe, New Mexico, but the cold weather was arcing down, bringing below freezing overnight temperatures. So we cancelled our reservation at Hyde Memorial State Park and headed southeast instead. 

A motorhome parks on the beach at Port Aransas, where beach camping is currently free.

The end of our last post had us situated at Guadalupe River State Park, on the northern outskirts of San Antonio. And it was our intention to head east from there to camp ON THE BEACH at either Magnolia Beach or Port Aransas, Texas – two Gulf of Mexico locations that allow free ocean-side camping.  

Betty & I drove for many miles down the beautiful beaches of Mustang Island, where RVs were parked for the day or overnight.

This all made possible, of course, by our new lithium batteries. But in addition to electricity, one needs water, and somehow our fresh water tank sprang a leak. We have an appointment next Tuesday at Iron Horse RV in San Antonio to have the tank repaired, but in the meantime we booked a full service site at a Nueces County park, next to the beach, just outside Corpus Christi.  

Our site (#21) at Padre Balli Park includes a cement parking pad & patio, picnic table, 50 amp service, sewer and (in this case) all important on-site water for $275./week. The palm trees are just starting to recover from the last hurricane that went through.

As many know, Betty & I are not DIY people, but since we were here for Black Friday week, we thought we’d take the time to switch out our old microwave oven for a new one. Some time back the little plastic post that rotates the glass tray broke off, and crazy glue has not fixed it. More recently the button one pushes to open the door also broke, and we have been forced to use a crowbar to open the microwave: Likely not the safest method. lol.  So we were due. All we needed was to remove the old oven and verify the available space. Easier said than done. Betty & I fought with the screws and bolts that hold it together for more than an hour before throwing in the towel. We just hope Iron Horse RV has the time and better luck in removing the obstinate oven! 

Betty & I were able to break the door and control panel off the front of our convection/microwave oven, but that’s as far as we got… It is now an objet d’art in the shabby-shabby motif. lol

In the meantime, we are forced to sit back and relax at the beach. My margarita at the Iron Cactus restaurant on San Antonio’s Riverwalk came with a souvenir mug, so I have been obligated to keep it filled and in reach ever since. 

We have had the same table in the same restaurant on San Antonio’s Riverwalk for the past 3 annual visits. The guacamole is made table side, and an earlier version of their margarita is what inspired my superior concoction (IMHO). I made margaritas great again! Or at least I made a great margarita… Great company too, BTW.

Betty & I would say that Padre Balli Park is far closer to heaven on earth than the other direction. Regardless of our intentions, we are more than happy with the paved road that lead us to our heavenly spot at the beach.

All San Antonio roads lead to the Riverwalk: A must experience!

Cheers, and congrats to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for their Canadian Football League Grey Cup win!

You can see by the tracks in the sand that there is no road: One makes their own path on the beach – a fitting metaphor for our overlandish odyssey.
Whether all roads in San Antonio lead to the Alamo: Here we are. Remember this?
As we often do, Betty & I took a guided tour of San Antonio. In this case it was the open upper level of a double-decker bus on a beautiful November Sunday.
If you are ever in need of a Ghostbuster, look closely at the top of this San Antonio building featured in the movie. Cheers!

Deep In The Heart Of Texas

“The stars at night
Are big and bright

Deep in the heart of Texas

The prairie sky
Is wide and high

Deep in the heart of Texas…”

Driving across northern Texas is similar to the Canadian Prairies, except the dominant crop is cotton.
Even the cotton balls are supersized in Texas! lol
After the sun set over the canyon wall, Betty & I used the “SkyView” app on my phone to identify bright stars in a dark sky with no light pollution. The canyon was also amazingly quiet, both day and night.

The song Deep In The Heart of Texas, was written by June Hershey and recorded by a number of artists in 1942 – including singing cowboy Gene Autry. It came to mind last week as Betty & I watched the stars in the clear night sky at the ever-amazing Palo Duro Canyon State Park, just south of Amarillo, Texas.  We have covered a lot of territory since our last post, with almost all deep in the heart of this supersized state. So this post is a bit of a catch-up.

Our well-treed, full-service site at Lovin’ Life RV Park cost $45./night.

After our new tire was installed in Clarksville, Arkansas, Betty & I made our way to a nice little campground called Lovin’ Life RV Park, just west of Texarkana. It is owned and operated by Sirron & Nicole, who obviously have a deeply warm heart for Texas. We stayed a few days while Tom Dansby of RV Medic and Solar installed four new lithium batteries in our coach. What a joy to be able to maintain and monitor our power supply while boondocking!

Tom Dansby worked right at our site to remove 4 lead acid batteries, and install 4 new Battle Born lithium iron phosphate batteries in an enclosed, insulated compartment.
Along with our inverter/charger, our new batteries fit nicely into an insulated compartment.
An app on my phone now provides detailed info about our new batteries, including temperature and state of charge.
Tom installed another battery monitor inside our coach. Betty wants me to mention how excited I am, posting so many pictures of this. I could have posted more! lol

From Texarkana we headed across northern Texas, stopping for the night at a quiet rest area west of Wichita Falls.

We enjoyed nice weather and a quiet night at this rest area west of Wichita Falls, Texas.

Next day we arrived at the truly breathtaking Palo Duro Canyon, where we spent three nights in site 91 of Mesquite campground. We had originally booked six nights, but that cold front from Canada continued to chase after us. With forecasts of below freezing overnight temperatures, we decided to move back up the side of the canyon, and then on down the road to the south.

This was our second visit to Palo Duro Canyon. It is well worth the trip if you are near Amarillo, Texas.
It may not be as big as the Grand Canyon, but you can drive two miles to the bottom, where a number of picturesque campgrounds are situated.
On switch-backs down the canyon side, one constantly has the feeling of going deep into the heart of Texas.
Where’s that road again?
Our site (#91) in Mesquite campground was $22./night, including water & 50 amp service.
The site included a pergola, sturdy picnic table on a cement pad, a fire pit and a breathtaking view in all directions!
Betty sews in the 23c sunshine, after taking a hike on one of the many canyon trails.

We are currently in site #85 of Guadalupe River State Park, just north of San Antonio, and are hoping to make the mandatory visit to the Riverwalk tomorrow.

Betty works on a new quilt at site 85 in Guadalupe River State Park, while Charlie rests nearby.
Our large, nicely wooded site includes water, 50 amp service, fire pit and picnic table for $21./night. It is currently 22c here in San Antonio, with a forecast for 24c tomorrow and 27c on Monday. Yeah!

The Texas Society of Professional Surveyors (measuring by satellite the exact distance between the state’s four borders) places the “geodetic” center of Texas 18.5 miles west-southwest of Eden. And it was in a rest stop deep in the heart of Texas – just outside of Eden – that we spent a quiet night between Amarillo and San Antonio. While you can’t get much closer to the heart of Texas than that, we continue to be blessed by the friendliness of the good people we have met so far in this state where everything just seems a little bigger.

“The coyotes wail
Along the trail
Deep in the heart of Texas

The cowboys cry
“Ka-yippie aye!” (Woo-hoo!)
Deep in the heart of Texas

The doggies bawl
And say “you all”
Deep in the heart of Texas”

Cheers y’all!

Here’s a new quilt Betty made since our visit to Hamilton, Missouri, along with a pair of matching pillow cases.
The back of our new quilt, which Betty made while we were at Lovin’ Life RV Park near Texarkana.
For those who remember our earlier trip to Amarillo (April 27, 2018): No visit is complete without a stop at Edes Meat Market. Here is one of the mouth-watering rib-eyes we picked up this week. Yum!
From the 150 pictures we took in this magnificent canyon, it’s hard to edit down to just a few…
A last twist in the road. If your path is not straight, may it at least be eventful. Cheers!

Re-tired

Well yes, before Betty & I set out on our marvellous adventure, we both retired. In fact, we both failed retirement and had to do it over again. But this post is not about that experience. Yesterday began a whole new re-tirement experience.

Our tire has lots of tread. It’s just not in the right place. lol

We were on Interstate 40 between Fort Smith and Little Rock, Arkansas, when two men in a pick-up truck pulled up beside us and waved for us to pull over. We had blown a tire on our Smart car!

We were relying on our Tireminder tpms to keep us airy.

Given that we have a Tireminder tire pressure monitoring system (tpms) on all motorhome and towed vehicle tires, you might wonder why we didn’t already know that.  Well, let me explain.

We’ve added an iPad holder that can be swivelled to face Betty or me, and linked to our smart tv. Going down the road, we can use our Verizon jetpack to connect us to Google and other web sites. The curtains are open while driving, btw.

Nearly all summer long, the rear tire on the driver’s side of the Smart would lose about 1 -2 psi a week: Not much, but enough for the internal tpms to trigger every couple of weeks. I added a little air each time and we were good to go again. But before we left on this trip I finally took it into Fountain Tire in Winnipeg, where the tires had been installed (We installed all new tires on our motorhome and car last year), and they determined that the leak appeared to be from a loose external tpms sensor, not from the tire.

Our new Canadian Tire lithium battery air compressor has saved the day a number of times now.

So we left Winnipeg in an attempt to outrun the cold front that was moving in, and everything was good until yesterday morning. Before leaving the nice rest area in Joplin, Missouri (with dedicated rv parking adjacent to attractive picnic shelters) I ran the Tireminder through its cycle, to ensure that all tires were good to go. Unfortunately, that same rear Smart tire registered low. But fortunately, I had purchased a new lithium battery air compressor at Canadian Tire, to replace the compressor whose battery had finally died after over 10 years of use. I pumped up the tire, and off we went.

On the side of a busy Arkansas Interstate, Ken’s Towing hooks up our Smart for a trip to the tire shop.

Not far down the Interstate, I got a slow leak warning message from that tire. As soon as I could, I pulled over and topped it up again. When the slow leak warning returned a few miles down the road, we Googled local tire repair shops, and pulled into a small tire shop in Neosho, Missouri, to have it checked. A friendly staff member topped up the tire and did a quick check for leaks. He tightened the valve stem, and volunteered that he thought the tpms sensor was causing the leak. He recommended removing them from all tires, but then I would be flying blind.  Because he had tightened the valve stem and sensor, I hoped our problem was solved.

Our Smart is now at Murders Automotive in Clarksville, Arkansas. It’s a AAA approved shop, so we don’t expect Amy and the friendly staff there to kill our little ride.

When we got to Bentonville, Arkansas, the warning returned, and Betty & I pulled into a Walmart parking lot to check it out. While I re-filled the tire, Betty re-filled our wine rack with wally wine from the store. At that point I removed the tpms sensor and put a regular cap on the valve stem. We decided I would pull over again at the next rest area to check the tire with a gauge. But the rest areas on Interstates 49 and 40 were few and far between. Eleven miles from the rest stop we had programmed into our gps, the tire blew…

Our riverfront campsite in Clarksville, Arkansas is in a beautiful park setting.

With heavy traffic whipping by us at 70 mph, I pulled to the side and called AAA. They were great in getting a flatbed out to us, and we followed it and our Smart to Murders Automotive in Clarksville, Arkansas. That’s where our Smart sits, until a new tire can be delivered and installed, hopefully next Monday.

Betty, Charlie & I had a chance to relax and enjoy the scenery after a stressful day on the road.

In the meantime, Betty and I are enjoying a beautiful riverside site (D3) in Spadra Park, Clarksville. It includes 30 amp service and water for $17./night, a couple of cement patios and sturdy picnic table, and wonderful water and sunset views. It’s a very quiet park, except for the last train to Clarksville that just went by a few minutes ago. lol (For the younger crowd reading this, you may need to Google The Monkees, who sang about that in 1966.)  

We watched a gorgeous sunset last night at Spadra Park.

So retirement has its ups and downs for Betty and me. Sometimes we are deflated by unforeseen experiences, but for the most part we are pumped about our overlandish odyssey. Best wishes for enjoyable times without the blow-outs!

Betty & Charlie spent today out in the sunshine. The temperature is currently 15c with a high of 21c forecast for tomorrow. We are headed south to Texarkana next week and hope to outrun the coming cold front.

Cheers!

Before the sun set on Saturday, Betty & Charlie sat out on our patio, to enjoy the great Arkansas outdoors.

Trying To Outrun The Cold Front

As mentioned in our last post, a cold front is moving into Manitoba this week, so Betty & I have decided to move out. We are now in a race to stay ahead of the cold, which appears to be following us south. 

Lisa came to wish us well, before we headed out on the road.

We had one last enjoyable visit with some of our family before leaving Winnipeg. Our border crossing was uneventful, and we made our first stop in Fargo, North Dakota, to top up with gas and food.

Georgia is on the attack, while her Mom looks on.

After a quick power nap in the Walmart parking lot, we drove south on Interstate 29 to a rest area near Sioux Falls, South Dakota, arriving shortly after midnight. The next day we made it to Waubonsie State Park in Iowa, and felt the sun starting to warm us.

Our first stop: Fargo, North Dakota Walmart
Leaving the Sioux Falls, South Dakota rest area after our first night on the road.
Our Waubonsie State Park site 17 in Iowa included 50 amp service for $11. Most trees in the park still had their leaves.

Next was a side trip to Hamilton, Missouri, a small town that is home to 12 quilt shops! Who would have thought that people from all over the world would travel to this spot with a dozen stores focussed on all things quilting? I guess the answer to that is “Betty”. lol. 

Our full service site (#13) at A Country Charm RV Park came to $97.85 for 2 nights. If you want to see quilt pics, ask Betty. lol Note our guard dog on the dash..

After a couple of warm days at A Country Charm RV Park in Hamilton, the cold weather was starting to catch up to us, so it was time to leave. Passing through Kansas City, we headed down Interstate 49 to Joplin, Missouri. Thanks to a school project our granddaughter, Isabella, is working on, we stopped in at the National Cookie Cutter Historical Museum in Joplin, taking a tour, a few pics, and free cookie cutter samples along the way.

Betty stands at the entrance to the Cookie Cutter Museum. Despite the name, they don’t all look the same. lol
This vibrant maple tree was just outside the Joplin, Missouri museum. We passed many trees with beautiful fall colours along the way.

We had a warm night at a nice Interstate 44 rest area just east of Joplin, but the cold air continues to follow us. Time to keep going…

Andrew shared a warm laugh before we left.

Cheers!

Valerie contemplates the gathering at her home.
James watches as Charlie gives Nana a kiss.

Jersey cuddles up with Isabella as the cold weather approaches.

Change of Plans

One of the benefits of living in a home on wheels is we can move it if need be.

Too many negative numbers in the forecast. Time to leave…

This fall has been unusually wet and cold in Manitoba. Heavy rains in September caused the Red River floodway, that diverts water away from the City of Winnipeg, to be opened later in the year than ever in its history. Even so, the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, that converge in Winnipeg, are overflowing their banks. 

Even though Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park is only 5 minutes from our previous home in Winnipeg, Betty & I had never visited. We finally stopped by on one of the few nice days last month.

As previously mentioned, an early blizzard on October 11 brought down 3,000 trees in the city, as the leaves had not yet fallen and the weight of snow was too much for them. Thousands of residents lost hydro power, with some in the dark for almost three weeks. Some major city parks are still closed as the clean-up continues into November.

This old gate is all that remains of the original fort in downtown Winnipeg.

Betty & I had planned on leaving Manitoba on Nov. 8, after a Fleetwood Mac concert on the 7th. We have had good tickets for the concert since April and fully expected the weather to co-operate until we were ready to go. But then two nights ago the water froze in our motorhome. Time for a change of plans…

Where one of the old fort’s walls stood, this metal artwork, depicting the history of Winnipeg, lights up with thousands of LED lights at night.

The park where we have been staying this summer shut the water off to all of their sites a week ago, due to unseasonably cold forecasts. We have been drawing water from our fresh water tank and keeping our plumbing bay warmed with our furnace and a small supplementary heater. But somewhere between the fresh water tank and the water pump the line iced up, and we no longer had water to wash or flush.  Bad news!

One of Canada’s old railway hotels, the Fort Garry, overlooks the Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park site.

Looking at the long-range forecast, the temperature may go down to -12c or -13c during nights next week, with daytime temps never above the freezing mark. As much as we like Fleetwood Mac, and would have enjoyed further visits with family and friends, it’s time to get outa Dodge, as Betty would say.

As mentioned in our July 2, 2019 post on Truth & Knowledge, Louis Riel is now recognized as an early Manitoba leader, rather than a traitor.

Today we are parked at our daughter Valerie’s home. We have added another heater to our basement and topped up our fresh water tank. Tomorrow Betty & I have dinner reservations as we celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. And the day after tomorrow is splitsville!

The July 2, 2019 post also references how perspectives can change over time. This plaque at Upper Fort Garry acknowledges that fact.

Sometimes it’s necessary to carve our plans in sand rather than granite. This is one of those times when we need to just roll with the punches.  And as we roll on down the road, we hope you also can make the required adjustments to deal with whatever comes your way.

Cheers! 

I took this sunset pic at our campground last week. It may be cold, but it’s still pretty amazing!

So long ago
Certain place
Certain time
You touched my hand
All the way
All the way down to Emmeline

But if our paths never cross
Well, you know I’m sorry but

If I live to see the seven wonders
I’ll make a path to the rainbow’s end
I’ll never live to match the beauty again
The rainbow’s end
” Seven Wonders, Fleetwood Mac

Goin’ Up The Country

Charlie says “Lets blow this popsicle stand!”

It was freezing cold this morning when I got up. (We turn the furnace down while sleeping in our cozy bed, to save energy). But I soon warmed up with the music of Canned Heat going through my brain. Betty & I are getting closer to heading out again on our overlandish odyssey, and this upbeat tune from back in the day just came rolling out:

“I’m goin’ up the country, Betty don’t you want to go?
I’m goin’ up the country, Betty don’t you want to go?
I’m goin’ to some place, I’ve never been before
I’m goin’ I’m goin’ where the water tastes like wine
I’m goin’ where the water tastes like wine
We can jump in the water, stay drunk all the time…”

Before leaving, we wanted to pay a visit to our youngest son’s home. Luke has a very unorthodox lifestyle, living in a Winnipeg warehouse where he has room for his artistic endeavours, and can play his various musical instruments as loud as he wants, without disturbing the neighbours. Below are a few pics from our recent visit.

Ok, so we likely won’t stay drunk ALL the time. lol.  And we may not jump in the water too much either, as a lot of this trip will be inland Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. But only time will tell where we end up, and what the water & wine will taste like when we get there.

The warehouse is surrounded by a chainlink fence, with barbed wire on top. Access by invitation only…

Our preparations have included trips to the dentist, the optometrist, fresh pedicures and haircuts, and today we got our flu shots. We’ve renewed our motorhome & Smart car insurance, confirmed out-of-province coverage with Manitoba Health, and arranged for extended health travel insurance. Our bikes are tuned up and mounted on the back of our motorhome. We just need to pack our BBQ into a basement compartment, bring in the slide-outs, raise our levelers, and away we could go!

We have a few preferred campsites booked in Palo Duro Canyon (Texas), Sante Fe (New Mexico) and Lake Havasu City (Arizona), but for the most part we’ll wing it – deciding on the fly whether or not to boondock or stay in a campground. Really looking forward to adding those lithium batteries in a few weeks to extend our options!

Betty made Luke a new quilt, to keep him warm this winter while we’re away.

As it stands, we’re counting down the days until departure, and closely watching the local weather forecasts, hoping we don’t get another dump of snow before we leave. The motorhome and car are prepped and ready to roll, and we’re ready to sing along with Canned Heat:

“We’re gonna leave this city, got to get away
We’re gonna leave this city, got to get away
All this fussin’ and fightin’ man, you know we sure can’t stay
So Betty pack your leavin’ trunk
You know we’ve got to leave today
Just exactly where we’re goin’ we cannot say
But we might even leave for the U.S.A.
It’s a brand new game, that we both want to play…”

Songwriter: Alan Wilson

Going Up the Country lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Cheers!

In the distance on the left are the downtown towers, so Luke’s warehouse is not far from Winnipeg’s city centre.

Happy Thanksgiving!

As much as Betty & I enjoy our travels – meeting interesting new people and experiencing engrossing environments – there is nothing quite so pleasant as getting together with our family for another milestone celebration.  

Isabella, Adam, Lisa, Georgia, James, Luke, Andrew, Bronwen, Valerie & Kevin joined Betty & me for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at Andrew’s home. BTW, for better or worse (maybe in this case worse) I chose candid shots, rather than staged, but that meant 12 people weren’t always focussed on the photographer…

This past week we gathered at Andrew’s home to enjoy a great Thanksgiving dinner. With four family birthdays in October (Luke, Lisa, Andrew, and Georgia) we were also able to recognize the indomitable aging process – the never-ending movement, until death, from birth to childhood, to teenager, to maturity, to senility (for some). OK, so Betty & I aren’t quite senile yet, but as our kids and grandkids get older, there seem to be more and more things that they can do, and fewer and fewer things that we can do. On that point, Betty says I should speak for myself, since her daily yoga practices have contributed to her much greater range of motion. Point taken…

Andrew consults with his older sister, Valerie, regarding dinner preparations.

In any event, there is much to be thankful for, and we are truly blessed with a wonderful family. It is a joy and honour to engage with each of them as they experience the highs and lows of navigating life on this earth.  

Betty & Lisa pose for the photographer.

As we return to our travels, Betty & I hold each of them in our hearts, and look forward to future opportunities to share celebrations together.

Isabella brings the birthday cake to the table, as Lisa, Georgia, Luke and Andrew move their presents aside and get ready to blow out the candles.

We hope that you also can know love and acceptance in ways that contribute to a healthy, stimulating, and satisfying future, whether you are travelling or staying put for awhile.

Isabella hams it up with her Nana. OK, Thanksgiving dinner was turkey, rather than ham, so maybe she turkeyed it up? lol

Cheers!

Adam & Lisa smiling for the photographer.
Georgia watches while James plays a video game before dinner.
Getting ready to snuff those candles.
“My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh my friends –
It gives a lovely light.”
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Just had to add a nice pic of our youngest son, Luke.
Betty’s sewing machine is now back, and she has sewn a new jellyroll rug for our kitchen.
And finally, the snow is all gone, the sun is back, the water is receding, and many leaves have fallen from the trees as we prepare for our journey south.

Why Are We Here?

The great white north. We are here… It is October 12…Really?!!

Some reading the above title might think that I am about to reveal the secret of this most important existential question. But you would be wrong! You’ll just have to wait for another post for the answer to that one. lol.

A before winter wonderland!

Betty & I awoke yesterday to a blanket of white – and it wasn’t on our bed… It’s still only mid-October, but Manitoba is experiencing its first blizzard of the season. Yikes! With leaves still on the trees, the weight of snow has downed many branches, and in some cases, whole old trees. Many have lost hydro power. All major roads out of Winnipeg were closed yesterday, and many businesses shut. We were scheduled to have our brakes and tires checked before our departure in a few weeks, but the garage was closed as a result of the storm.

A little too cool to bbq just now…

The weather in Winnipeg has not been great this fall, with far more rain than usual flooding our campground and the fields around. So sorry for the farmers who haven’t yet finished harvesting their crops.  But for us this winter weather is the icing on the cake – or some other kind of frosting!

For the past month we have had lakeside property, otherwise known as the campsite next to ours. The ground has been saturated with rain.

In some ways we have been preparing all summer for our imminent departure, but now it can’t come soon enough! For those unfamiliar with snowbird rules, we cannot spend more than 180 days a year in the U.S.A. without being impacted by U.S. immigration and tax laws. As previously noted, the calculation is not based on a calendar year, but any rolling period. So for us, if we were to leave prior to November 8, we would have to return before April 30 of next year, and who knows if this snow will be gone by then… Looking forward, we must be careful in counting days, as next year February contains 29, rather than the usual 28. Therefore, this requires 2020 foresight. lol (or groan…)

The road less travelled.

Unfortunately, the bad weather has not been our only setback. Our last post on “Tinkering” noted that Betty was enjoying quilting with her Pfaff sewing machine again. But the machine broke down just after the post, and she was only able to get back to quilting today. Time is running out to complete all the birthday & Christmas presents before we leave.

After I finished, the burgundy ink ran in streaks down our sign.

I highlighted work refurbishing our site marker: The Reddoch ReTreat.  It had been a labour of love as I applied 15 coats of Varathane to the 40 year old tree slab. For some unknown reason, after the final coat was applied, I stood it up only to have the red ink from the Canadian flag on one side, and the motorhome on the other, run in streaks down the wood – under the Varathane coating!  I had no alternative but to sand it down again. This time, I went to Staples and had the images for both sides laminated. I have now applied another 15 coats, and hope that the sign will stand up for a few more years to come.

I notched our foam mattress base, to make room for a new rope ladder.

While at the FMCA rally in Minot, North Dakota, Betty & I attended a session on RV fire safety. On return I confirmed that one of our fire extinguishers was subject to recall, so had it replaced and mounted horizontally, as recommended, to prevent the chemicals from compacting on the bottom. At the same time, we purchased another extinguisher which I mounted horizontally in the unlocked propane bay. Finally, we purchased a rope ladder which I attached to our bed base, just below the emergency escape window in our bedroom. We hope to never use it, but in the event of a fire, Betty & I now know that the window will open; the ladder will drop down; and we can evacuate.

With the topper and featherbedding added, the rope ladder, which is secured to the bed base, is unseen but readily available for a quick exit.

Well, speaking of evacuating, Betty & I can answer the question: “Why are we here?” another way. In a couple of days we will be joining the rest of our family for a Thanksgiving dinner at Andrew’s home. It will be a great time together to celebrate our love for each other and all our rich blessings. And finally, we will also be voting on Monday in the Canadian election, with thankfulness for where “here” is, even if it is prematurely cold!

Our streaking Canadian flag.

Cheers!