Chronological order with latest post at the bottom - Last edited November 8, 2014
Packing Up & Rolling
Puttered continuously from dawn:
Bypassed hot water tank and ran hose to outside to drain.
Took down squirrel traps.
Filled jugs with water for flushing toilet when we return in spring.
Drained water from piping system.
Filled piping system with RV anti-freeze.
Emptied water storage tank in water shed. Vaccuumed dregs with shop vac.
Boarded up house windows.
Stowed wheel barrow in sea can and shovels in shed.
Moved clothes to fifth wheel.
Moved selected tools to fifth wheel.
Took car to town filled with fuel and parked it at Deborah and Ernest's farm and scattered clothes drier fabric softener sheets throughout cabin and engine compartment to repell rodents.
Said goodbye to Deborah and grandkids at home.
Took truck to town. Filled with diesel and washed mud off at wand wash.
Hooked up truck to fifth wheel trailer.
Trimmed a few branches on driveway on way to grid road.
Towed fifth wheel to outside of gate
Locked gate and put up no trespassing signs.
We rolled onto the grid road toward the highway by 4:15 p.m. rolling slow to avoid picking up much mud from the recent rain until we turned south onto highway 4 a mile from our driveway.
First stop was at Glaslyn after an hours running. Checking tires and wheel bearing temperatures with the IR handheld showed the new bearing installed this summer was running a little hotter than others but still okay.
Arrived in Saskatoon at the Flying J after seven, fueled up and met with a couple of friends for a meal and a long visit. We walked them to the parking lot, said our goodbyes and then started the furnace to warm the rig while we went back inside Denny's for coffee and a shared dessert.
Slept in the Flying J parking lot. Didn't seem to be the loud shower announcements blaring from the speakers by the gas pumps this year. Perhaps they have changed their practice. After all how many people at the small vehicle gas pumps are likely shower customers? There was one fifth wheel set up taking up two parking lanes and with his slides out and a generator beside the rig. Seems pushing it a bit. IMHO if one starts seeing people camped out for extended periods instead of just overnight parking then the prohibition of any overnight stays at all is on the horizon.
Saskatoon, SK to Moosomin, SK
When we purchased travel medical insurance for the United States a few months ago we picked a date for crossing the border. Now that we were rolling this date gave us a bit of leeway in travel pace. We had a day more in the schedule than required if one were to make a concerted effort to get across the border.
In the past year we made two trips with the truck and fifth wheel. One to Regina from Meadow Lake this spring and one back in late June. It was nice to have the slack in the schedule to take it easy while getting used to being on the road again.
We ate a very leisurely breakfast at the Flying J Denny's in Saskatoon waiting for the morning rush hour to die down before getting on the road about ten. That worked for Saskatoon. It also worked for Regina which we hit after the noon crush and before the evening madness there. We had tried buying fuel at Davidson but the Shell station was ripping up their parking lot and the grader doing the job was ever so slowly filling his fuel tank at the one available pump. Once Juanita got back in the truck from visiting the convenience store and we got cut off at the pump when the grader was done, I gave up waiting and we carried on. There was more than enough fuel to get beyond Regina, but Davidson is usually a convenient access to fuel.
The White City Co-op station worked just fine, plus we get money back once a year from the Sherwood Co-op it is part of. While I was fueling up the truck Juanita bought us lunch at the DQ next door.
The wind from the south was quite brisk so we drove along comfortably under the speed limit and arrived at Moosomin mid afternoon. We topped up the fuel tank at the Fas Gas, found a relatively level spot in their overnight truck parking lot and walked to the nearby DQ for coffee and catching up on e-mail and the Internet news. Then back to the rig for an afternoon nap before walking a block and a half to a hotel restaurant. We used our own hub at the DQ and tried the free wi-fi at the restaurant but gave up and switched to our hub. One couple came into the restaurant and the wife said to the husband they have wi-fi.
Eventually we walked back home to our fifth wheel, put in earplugs to block the sound of the reefer truck who had parked next to us and went to sleep.
Moosomin, SK to Winnipeg, MB
The wind was bitterly cold so we skipped circle checks and drove the block to last night's restaurant for a leisurely breakfast. Their wi-fi still didn't work so we used our hub again and caught up on e-mail and the news and downed coffee refills while watching the social interplay of the locals gathering for their daily visit.
After breakfast I did the circle checks and we drove East through a stiff southerly cross wind so we stayed around a 100 km/hr.
At one point we were passed by a Google Streetview camera car . The camera was covered with a velcro cover. The cover must come off fairly easily since the car seemed to go into each small town we passed and take its pictures and get back on the road soon enough to pass us again before it went into the next small town.
We stopped at the Flying J in Headingly on the west edge of Winnipeg and slept the night there with strong winds rocking the trailer. They were forecast to settle down by morning and they mostly had by the time we got up.
Winnipeg, SK to Sioux Falls, SD
Border crossing went well. The crossing was busy and we got an experienced, sane border guard and did not have to deal with inane questions from some keener newbie.
Stopped at the Flying J in Grand Forks for fuel and a subway sandwich. On the road eating is not gluten free for us.
Stopped at Summit, SD for fuel. Last time we stopped here it was for the night and our truck and trailer got covered with a quarter inch of ice. I learned that an ice covered hood can drop on your head if you are not careful. Tee shirt weather today.
We overnighted at the Flying J in Sioux Falls, fueling up on arrival. Also filled an empty thirty pound bottle of propane. Had to fight with them a bit that charging us for just one gallon didn't make sense. they finally figured out the slip was marked "7" not "1". Eating our high carb supper at the attached Denny's we observed that the populace seemed bigger than we have been used to seeing. I guess if I keep eating at Denny's I will match them pound for pound in no time at all.
We turned off our Canadian wi-fi hub when we crossed the border to prevent roaming charges and our U.S. wi-fi hub doesn't look happy in South Dakota so we buy 24 hours of wi-fi from Flying J and catch up on e-mail and the news while waiting for our meal to arrive. As we headed back to our fifth wheel for the night I notice that people are bedding down in cars as well as in trailers and motor homes. Don't know if they are travellers or beneficiaries of America's ongoing economic recovery. The cars are gone by the time we venture out in the morning.
Sioux Falls, SD to York, NE
Broken Lamp Clean Up
By the dawn's early light.. Well. Not that early, but something we noticed this morning when we got up and had sunlight coming into the rig is that on the road the globe had fallen off the light fixture above the dining room table, dinging the table a bit and shattering into many pieces. There is no room to move around with the slides in so Juanita kneels on the kitchen island and picks up glass pieces from everywhere she can reach. We go across the parking lot to the Denny's. I shop around on line and order a new fixture from PPL Motor Homes by the time breakfast arrives.
We used the truck GPS to direct us to York. It didn't like me ignoring its initial ideas but got used to me. I listened to its later suggestions once the parallel freeway would have diverged too far. We're a bit ambivalent about the way it routed us. It avoids Council Bluffs and Omaha and is a bit shorter but we might not go that way again. The road was rougher and with more hills than the way we usually go. It is a route we had tried in the past, but we were sobered by waiting to get past a gruesome head on collision reminding us why traffic deaths are considerably lower per miles driven with the advent of divided highways. That, plus the old truck did not like downshifting for hills. It always shuddered going between overdrive and fourth speed. After a few days of doing hill country in Texas the transmission in our old truck died on the streets of Laredo. In any case it will probably be a few years before we are in this neck of the woods and choosing routes again.
We arrived at Double Nickel campground east of York, Nebraska around four. It has new owners, and is much cleaner. They were in the process of putting a new roof on the office building as well as the general site improvements in the camping area. We dropped the rig and rushed to Pleasant Hill Grain, a kitchen equipment and survivalist food source at Hampton, Nebraskas about twenty miles west of York. There is somebody in the office who tells Juanita they closed at four and open at nine tomorrow, but if we phone in our order by eight tonight they will be there before nine tomorrow and give us our order. If there is anything we want to look at before buying they can have that pulled from stock and waiting there to look at too.
Back to town, buy some food and go back to the RV opening slides for first time this trip. Looks like Juanita got all of the glass when she was hanging from the kitchen island. The space is awesome and you can walk around the bed to use the bathroom at night without crawling across your bedmate. The cost of a discounted RV pull through space? $32 and change. Having all that space again? Priceless.
York, NE to Guthrie, OK
Up and on the road early. Well, early for us.
Arrived at Pleasant Hill Grain by nine and then drove back to York and turned south toward Kansas.
Travelling at 70 and 75 mphh the truck uses more fuel and when afternoon temperatures got up near 28 C. the transmission was as hot as I wanted to see it so backed off on speed a bit.
We stopped for fuel once in Kansas at an RV unfriendly truck stop. Miss those Flying J RV lanes. There is a Flying J at Salina, Kansas but we cross the east-west Interstate on a north-south highway and don't want to go onto the interstate and an exchange or two down the Interstate and then come back to our highway.
At Wichita we got on the Kansas Turnpike using the wrong lane at the toll plaza. I stopped partway through and considered backing up, but that was obviously not going to work. The vehicles just kept coming. The toll booth attendant yelled across to me to "tell them 42" when we had to pay at the other end. It worked surprisingly well.
Arriving at Guthrie around five we parked our rig at the Cedar Valley RV Park, arranged to hook-up with Indy and Jesse Stone later and Juanita and I went for Mexican food in the interim. Best Mexican food we've had in a year and a half. At eight we headed to Braum's and a good visit with the Stones and met their new baby, Savannah, one month old today.
I called a friend this morning and based on his comments about our web site showing us still in Panama, realized that the web site had not been touched since March 11th. Wow! Time flies when you are being slothful!
The town is the former state capital and has lots of historic buildings to see. We did a bit of shopping in Guthrie and nearby Edmond and did a lot of catch-up on the web site, adding pages and fighting with various browsers and operating systems.
Guthrie, OK to Kerrville, Texas
We get rolling before nine a.m. knowing it is going to be a long day on the road. The people next door who said they are slow off the mark and seldom leave before nine were gone about eight. Good thing. He had parked with their truck into the road way and it would have been a tight swing to get around the truck without clipping it or driving across the grass.
Every other time we have stayed in this campground we have headed east and back through Guthrie to the Interstate which goes through the middle of Oklahoma City toward Dallas/ Fort Worth. Today we follow the commands of the GPS and turn right, go west aways and take a secondary highway south to join the rush hour traffic on the west edge of Oklahoma City. Once past the east-west center line of the city traffic is quite light.
The GPS routes us south west across Oklahoma to Lawton and Wichita Falls. Part of the route is on divided toll road. Today I drive through the correct lanes and pay the tolls without incident.
We stopped for fuel at a wide spot in the median. While I fuel up, Juanita heads to the McDonalds to buy lunch. I go inside the gas station and prepay for the diesel, pump the fuel and clean the windows and check the tires and use the restroom and get my receipt from the cashier and move the truck and trailer to a waiting lane. Awhile after that Juanita shows up with lunch. There was no line to speak of and lunch rush had not started when she ordered. There was state trooper waiting for his food as well she said. He didn't look happy. Must be the slowest McDonalds anywhere. The wrap was good. Packaged in a sensible cardboard box that tore along dotted lines and allowed access to the wrap without leaking or getting any bites of wax paper or foil.
Late in the afternoon we go through Cisco, Texas. I'm thrilled. Juanita is bemused that I'm thrilled. The main street is called Conrad Hilton Boulevard for a reason:
Once upon a time Hilton Hotels used to include a copy of Conrad Hilton's autobiography along with the Gideon Bible. I think maybe, unlike the Bible, you were encouraged to take the bio with you. I don't know for sure. I bought my copy for cheap at a used book store or a yard sale. According to the bio, young Mr. Hilton went to Cisco Texas on behalf of some investors in his native New Mexico. His mission was to buy a local bank that was for sale. The owner of the bank kept changing the terms of the bank sale but Conrad had stayed at the local hotel and observed some odd behaviour. There was an oil boom in Cisco and accommodations were tight. The hotel rented out the rooms for sleeping for eight hours at a time. They also rented out the chairs in the lobby for sleeping, eight hours at a time. Hilton telegraphed his investors that the bank didn't look like a good investment, but he had run across another business opportunity. One of the things they did after buying the hotel was to partition the office into sleeping rooms and rent out those rooms eight hours at a time, doing their paperwork at a standing desk they hung off the lobby wall. The rest is hotel history.
Along about dark we arrive in Kerrville, Texas. We stop for a light and realize there is a parade crossing our path. We settle in for a long wait and the light changes and they stop the parade and wave the traffic through. That's civilized. I remember a parade when we were volunteering at an orphanage on the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico. They shut the main north south highway down for about an hour and a half for their parade. I think every school kid in town marched in that parade.
We arrive at Kerrville-Schreiner Campground after dark and stop in front of the closed office. Camp hosts show up in their golf cart to greet us and ask if the truck is red and we tell them that the old one was red so they have us follow them down the highway and across the highway through an electronic gate and meet up with Leonard and Karen Cook. We visit as we get settled in the spot next to theirs and then visit some more.
I wake up early and start puttering at the process of putting some time on our U.S. wi-fi hub which hasn't been used since we last headed north from the SOWER project at Victory Camp in Alvin Texas in March 2013. Eventually I call the help line and work my way through the T-Mobile bureaucracy and pay for a week. That should fill in any gaps in coverage until we settle in Harlingen. We bought the hub for use around Houston where T-Mobile offers good digital coverage. Kerrville is another matter. The speed is enough, if one is patient, to check e-mail. Later, in the middle of the night I get enough connectivity to order some Wayne's Stabilizers. I had left ours behind in Canada thinking we could do without them. A few nights precariously perched on just the front landing gear has convinced us we don't want to live in a world without sability. The package will arrive a few days after we do at Way of the Cross our November SOWER project.
Leonard and Karen Cook are SOWERS we have worked with several times. They have been sequestering themselves in the San Antonio area to get some extensive dental things done. They have helped cover living expenses for this sojurn by volunteering at an area campground. In return for around twenty five hours a week work they get a camping spot. This means Leonard is busy this morning with some campground chores. While he does his chores I go to the office and pay for two nights.
Later we all hook up to go out for lunch at a catfish restaurant. Leonard has been told he has tomorrow off so we stop at the office again and I pay for a third night of camping.
The catfish restaurant is perched on the banks of the San Gabriel River. We get a seat by the window overlooking the river. Observing the clientele one could conclude that if you eat catfish you will live for a shockingly long time and might become larger than a Denny's patron.
After lunch we wander through an old style, hardware/general store. I buy a spring to fix the handle of the fire pit cover back home and an updated L.E.D. bulb for one of our RV light fixtures. They have a selection of hats that have hair on them so if one were bald one could appear to have hair. Good gag item and I pose for pictures, but do not buy one.
The Kerrville Schreiner campground is a gem with lots of wooded area and hiking trails. Camping spaces are large and have room between them. You can find it on line and in Woodalls, but with the limited signage it would be easy to miss for somebody driving by. It is a former state park in the city limits of Kerrville. The state park people decided they didn't want to be in the urban park business and deeded it to the city along with an initial sum toward operating expenses.
In the evening we rode around with Leonard for a tour of the park on our side of the highway. There are cabins, serviced RV sites and unserviced tenting sites and miles of hiking trails. In one of the group camping areas a huge number of Boy Scouts and their families had set up for a weekend camping adventure. There are numerous deer in the park. In December they will close the campsites on this side of the highway and permit bow hunting of the deer. The deer are small like those on Texada Island near where I grew up.
Juanita and I make a quick dash off site to a fried chicken place and gobble down our supper. Gobble? Should that just refer to turkey?
We returned and enjoyed a movie night in Leonard and Karen's rig before returning to our rig for a peaceful night's sleep. We are too far off road to hear any highway noises and close enough to the Scouts to get a slight perfume of wood smoke.
The next day we headed out as a foursome. We toured the campground the other side of the highway. It is down by the San Gabriel river and has day use areas and kayak rentals as well as RV spots. Then it was off to enjoy a parade in town and a craft fair with booths set up near the center of town. One booth was selling flavoured pecans and walnuts and something they called Irish Lemonade. It was green, but as the booth owner said "it isn't that Irish" meaning that it didn't have the shot of Jamieson's Irish Whiskey my grandfather started each day with. There were a number of large touring motorcycles set up with trailers attached to carry travel needs. The trailers carried mock-ups of classic cars. One was a scale replica of a 1955 Chevrolet. Another was a 1941 Ford.
Worn out by walking, talking and eating flavored pecans and walnuts we drove to the edge of town to a Mexican restaurant for lunch. After lunch we returned home for afternoon naps, dumping tanks and other chores. I drove the truck to a wand wash and washed the bugs off it and then fueled it up for tomorrow's travels.
Leonard and I visited while I did some chores and Juanita and Karen visited while we did that. After supper we went out for dessert and did even more visiting.
Kerrville, TX to Mathis, TX
We prepped for leaving while getting in a last visit with Leonard and Karen. It must be hard to be away from the fellowship one experiences working with SOWERS and other ministries. We circled up SOWER style, prayed and said our goodbyes until the next time we meet. Leonard's parting observation was that we must be doing something wrong since we were not facing a day of driving into strong headwinds.
I10 passes through Kerrville, but we ignored the GPS totally and took a secondary highway south to Bandera and beyond so we could come at San Antonio from the west on Highway 90 instead of the northwest on the under construction I10. We could have used the GPS to get onto the 410 loop a little cleaner. The signage was not clear and I ended up making a last minute lane change to avoid heading north on 410 instead of the desired southerly direction.
We exited to I37 from Loop 410 and soon after that took an exit where we have stopped a few times in the past. The Whattaburger has upgraded its parking lot, but there was nothing on the menu that appealed so we bought drinks and carried on toward Mathis and the Passport AmericaMathis Motor Inn and RV Park.
We are fond of this grubby but cheap little campground. Cheap, that is, with half off using Passport America. It was where we spent our first night when we came out of Mexico in the spring of 2006. Most years it has been not too busy, but recently there has been a lot of pipeline activity in the area and we get the last pull through site due to a cancellation by a pipeline worker. We often have used it as a base for access to Corpus Christi and a transmission shop we trusted. In our new truck transmission servicing is not an issue yet and we are kind of focussed on getting into the Rio Grande Valley so there will be no side trips to Corpus Christi.
There is cable TV but no wi-fi. The hub works a bit, but after we have unhooked the fifth wheel trailer from the truck and connected it to utilities we go in search of lunch and wi-fi. The local DQ has wi-fi, but not for customers so we head out to the Interstate interchange and the McDonalds and settle in there for some surfing and a bit of eating, before shopping for breakfast supplies at the local HEB. We also fuel up the truck while not towing.
Just before sunset we walk across the street to the usual excellent fare at one of our favorite Mexican Restaurants. The food is still excellent and the premises improve each year. The friendly, efficient wattresses still are good advertisements for the ample portions they serve.
I read much too late getting further into The Western Awakening Trilogy.
Mathis, TX to Harlingen, TX
Probably read too late last night and we get off to a slow start in the morning.
Initially we battle head winds and then they become strong, gusty crosswinds as we turn toward Harlingen. The best way to handle crosswinds, short of stopping, is to travel more slowly. This makes for a slow trip, but even so we arrive in Harlingen shortly after lunch.
We get set up and go exploring a bit. The next day we go to morning chapel at Way of the Cross and then come back to the rig and do electrical work on the rig and wash the bugs off the front of the rig. This is a slow process.
Down in the Valley
We are in the Rio Grande Valley. Our November SOWER project is at Way of the Cross with our arrival date as Group Leaders on October 30th and the first official work date on November 3rd. There was to be another couple joining us for the SOWER project in November, but the husband passed away last month. There will be another SOWER couple working at Way of the Cross as what is called SOWERS on Assignment (SOA). They will work on ministry infrastructure and keep their own hours. We will also follow the hours of the regular staff and work with them initially to prepare for the Celebrate Jesus Festival scheduled for November 15th in Brownsville this year.
Our stabilizers arrived in the mail and I installed them right away. The queasy swaying of the rig has ceased.
One evening we made a run up the Valley to Costco and Harbor Freight. Once the SOA couple arrived we went out for dinner. We headed for our favourite Chinese buffet in Harlingen and encountered For Lease signs so went to our second favorite. Sunday we went with them to Chapitas our favorite Mexican restaurant in Harlingen. The mariachis left before we finished eating so we were able to get some visiting in.
Juanita started working with Martha in the warehouse filling candy and cereal gift bags to be handed out at Celebrate Jesus. I helped Byron fix the roof on the Space Shuttle trailer that will be a booth in the Celebrate Jesus Festival.