Which way are we going?

A funny thing happened on the way to McKinney Falls State Park in Austin, Texas yesterday. We plugged the co-ordinates into our gps and set off, without first questioning the route she(?) was taking us. As it turned out, it was the most convoluted, twisty, turny, narrow country road through rural Texas, past Austin’s dump and a wide range of house styles. (We’re convinced that Texas has no building codes or required building permits. You do what you want with your land, however lavish or humble!) Within a mile of the park we crossed over a major street that we had taken many times in the past, as it is a prominent Interstate exit. If we had taken that exit, we would have arrived at the park in half the time!

We laughed at this small (mis)adventure, realizing at the same time that speed, and the most direct routes, are not necessarily our goals on this journey. There is a lot of country to see, and you don’t catch it all from the Interstate.

Not that we are totally devoid of planning — leaving our adventure in the hands of a gps who routinely tells us to turn left when we can see our destination on the right… We planned and succeeded in visiting Central Market in Austin
yesterday, picking up some fabulous fresh fruit, vegetables, breads, cheeses, wines (buy 6, get 10% off – how can you go wrong with their huge international selection!), steak, lamb, and other unique food items. It’s always a treat, but we have to limit ourselves by the size of the Smart car “trunk”.

We also picked up a new Weber bbq (grill in America) that I had ordered on-line last week and had delivered to an Austin Walmart. After some assembly required, I seared those aforementioned Missouri-raised steak, and we enjoyed a candlelight dinner with a fresh salad, baguette, and a nice bottle of Valpolicella.

In the end, our dinner and night’s stay were at Austin’s Lone Star RV Park, as McKinney Falls State Park was fully booked in advance – no room for those who didn’t plan ahead… Before we pulled out of the park, the friendly ranger wanted to direct us to alternate state parks. “Are you headed east or west?” To which I answered: “Yes”!

Early morning pondering

it is 730 and I am sitting in the same spot I have on many previous occasions. On the couch with Charlie curled up on my lap reading a book and having my first cup coffee. We are in Austin at a campground we have visited many times on various trips to South Padre Island. I am thinking about those other times and how I always knew I had to go back to work but now there is no going back and I wonder how long it really takes before that becomes a reality in my mind and heart. I miss my friends and the daily chatter but I am happy with the choice I made and am excited to get to the point where I am not thinking about this as a vacation.

Gavin and Mckenzie

I would like to introduce you to Gavin. He and his twin sister McKenzie were adopted out to Betty, Christine Finnbogason, and Heather Elands. ( but obviously Larry also has taken McKenzie under his wing) 

Gavin chose the high adventure of travelling with the Reddoch’s while McKenzie stayed behind to keep an eye on the Womens Health program. It won’t be all boring back in Winnipeg and Chris and Heather have promised to take her to conferences so she will see some of world and not just stay cloistered in the office. Also she will get to go to the new hospital when it opens. HaHa

Gavin will begin to post pictures of his marvellous adventure with the help of adopted mom Betty. No knomes for a 40 year women’s health veteran!

TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT,…

Talk about deep freeze! When we left Winnipeg it was too cold to curl up our power cords to store underneath – they wouldn’t bend! Everything that would normally have been stored in our basement had to go into our main living area until we could get to somewhere warm. As an example of how cold it was: the safety cables that attach our Smart car to the motorhome are wrapped in a vinyl covering, but when I stretched them to attach the car, the brittle covers just shattered in a hundred pieces!

Our stops for gas in North Dakota (State #1), South Dakota (State #2), and Iowa (State #3) were brutal. The cold remained and the wind chill was wicked. We picked up hand and foot warmers at the Flying J in Fargo, and bundled ourselves in blankets, hats and gloves as we drove south, each breath visible as we peered through the frosted windshield. In addition to the dash heater, we kept the furnace on for the first 5 states. Our original plan was to take our time on the journey south, but because of the frigid temps, we just pushed on. The snow was mostly gone by State #3, but when would this bitter cold end?

While Betty slept in our cozy bed, which was originally frozen to a rock hard state, but defrosted by her body temperature, I drove through the nights, taking power naps at Flying Js and rest stops – both of us fully clothed. By evening on the 27th we had passed through an edge of Nebraska (State #4), scouted out the BMO Harris Bank in St. Joseph, Missouri (State #5), and parked at Walmart until we could get to the bank in the morning of the 28th.

Despite numerous attempts by phone & on-line to expedite the opening of a U.S. bank account, the whole morning was spent in a modern, attractive, but otherwise deserted bank building  trying to open a simple chequing (checking) account. It took 3 hours to complete the application, and we were surprised to find it was finally set up in our son’s name! The staff member had asked who the beneficiary would be if something happened to us, and we gave his name, which she proceeded to use for the remainder of the process. More time to reverse the error… Our stated goal at the outset was to get debit cards on the account, so we could complete transactions in U.S.D. Now it seems the cards will be mailed to our son, who will need to find us and forward them. Betty had to remind me to be patient. We are no longer in a rush…  (Jan. 29/18 update:  After running very low on U.S. cash, we were finally able to use an ATM with our debit cards today – more than a month after applying. The bank manager had to intervene to get us PIN numbers, as the latest correspondence to our home address hasn’t arrived.)

Anyway, we were able to make our way along some scenic Kansas country roads (State #6) until we reached Oklahoma City (State #7), starting to warm up, but still not warm enough to flush the antifreeze out of our plumbing so that we could use our on-board facilities. After a pleasant sleep at the Texas (State #8) border information centre (center..) we arrived at our first campground destination: Destiny Dallas RV Park, and of course took advantage of the on-site RV wash bay to clean off the road grime before checking into our site.

Rather than driving over New Year’s, we have decided to stay for a week, and put some things away. The local news, and folks we meet are talking about how cold it is here just now. But we can’t help but smile and think – It’s all relative: the coats are off, the fountains and swimming pools are open, and our power cords are flexible!

ONE – North Dakota

For most Americans, North Dakota is way up north – the location for that film named “Fargo”. But for us, it is our first state to the south of Manitoba. Not out of the snow yet!

For us, North Dakota is where we stock our motorhome with groceries, because you never know what fruit, vegetables, or other food the border guards are going to reject. (eg.: Is there lamb in your dog food? If yes, it’s inadmissible to the U.S.). North Dakota is also our first place to top up with cheaper gas, and to catch a power nap, when packing and getting on the road has been a strenuous activity.

We’ll soon be heading south to 47 other states, and I’m not sure yet if blog posts will be numbered accordingly. But stay tuned for state # 2 – logically SOUTH Dakota, – going in the right direction, but still in the deep freeze!

Almost Ready. Did We Leave Anything?

When we break camp, we have a tradition of walking the site to ensure we haven’t left behind any tent pegs, garbage, etc. We always want to leave the campsite as clean, if not cleaner, than when we arrived.

Likewise, when we leave a home we’re visiting, we make the rounds to ensure we’re not leaving personal items behind. During this holiday season, we’ve been visiting each of our kids before heading out on the road. Did we leave anything behind? Well yes, as I visit almost every room I see items that were most recently in our home. Do they stay or do they go? It’s taking much more mental gymnastics to remember the answer!

Ultimately, the “to go” list must reduce:
Wife – check, dog – check, passports & credit cards – check, Hawaiian shirts, shorts and flip flops – check.

OK, we’re good to go!

Can’t Wait To Cue Willie!

Betty & I have a tradition. Whenever we head out on a road trip, through the motorhome’s speakers we blast Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again – like a band of gypsies we go down the highway…” He-haw!!!

Of course this year, that tradition will be preceded by another – the celebration of Christmas!
We have already attended our grandkids’ school and church Christmas
concerts, and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s beautiful rendering of Handel’s Messiah, with the audience’s tradition of standing for the Hallelujah Chorus. Andrew’s home is filled with the scent of pine from the tree that has been decorated with many years of children’s Christmas projects: A sight to behold! Keeping watch beside the tree is the same Santa that has dutifully stood next to a Reddoch Christmas tree since 1956. He still looks pretty jolly for his age! LOL. Thankfully, we no longer use the real candles that used to clip onto the branches. Who ever thought that wasn’t a fire waiting to happen? LOL.

Some other traditions are still to come. Our reservation is confirmed at the same Chinese restaurant our family has visited a day or two before Christmas for the past 30 years. I will (usually unsuccessfully) invite our family to stand at attention for the singing of “God Save The Queen”, and the always encouraging Queen’s Christmas Message which is broadcast on the 25th, another tradition started when our family immigrated to Canada, as we thought about our extended family in Britain doing the same.

The turkey is on hand, along with the Christmas crackers that will adorn each place setting on the 25th. The day will start with the reading of the account of Jesus’ birth, from our family Bible that has been passed down from the early 1800s. And of course we smile at the grandchildren’s eager anticipation of what will be found in their stockings, which are now hung around the fireplace.

But as we consider the kids’ excitement about the Christmas festivities, we can’t help but think about what is to come next, and our similar child-like enthusiasm for the journey ahead…

Cue Willie!