We spent the first day of the month in our rig in Kings Acres RV Park in Regina. The next day we went to my appointment for a drug and alcohol test and then dropped off the favorable results at my soon to be employer's office and we headed north.
It is interesting driving the same roads with a GPS that you have driven for years all by yourself without any more guidance than the occasional suggestion from your friendly family navigator.
All went well until we crossed over the Saskatchewan River on Circle Drive in Saskatoon. The GPS directed me onto the exit ramp for Warman Street and then could not deal with me not staying on Circle Drive. I eventually shut it off since it was just sitting there reseting itself and not coming quite back to life before reseting itself again. Later, near North Battleford, I powered it up and it was fine. Other, of course, than wanting me to take the powerline access road through the muskeg before the turn off the highway onto the grid road to our house. The road it wanted us to go on shows up on the survey maps as a road allowance, but it has not been a road in the twenty-six years we have owned the property near Meadow Lake.
Back home the property was all dug out and the snow piled where it would melt harmlessly. I marvelled at how a farmer with a blade on the front of a pick-up truck could do what had been done. I phoned the next day to find how much to make out the cheque for and complimented the farmer's wife on the job he had done. Apparently when he got to the driveway he realized it was beyond the capability of his truck and blade and he called his brother's Bobcat service. It made more sense then.
The next few days were busy with teeth cleanings, annual eye exam, picking up police check form for soon to be employer. We sorted through the backlog of mail to find tax receipts and start on that until there was only one more piece of paper needed and it was back in Regina in the fifth wheel. We took our tempermental portable printer and left it in Meadow Lake. I set up the printer that I bought on a New Year's sale from HP and had delivered to our daughter's house. It is bigger than the old one, but is wireless so can sit where the television would sit if we had one in the living room. The new printer is a scanner as well so it was handy when I had to send a copy of the police check form to keep people happy until I could bring the original to Regina.
Debbie arranged for a farmer to dig out Debbie and Ernie's farmhouse where we had stored our car and Debbie and I went out to dig it out. It tried to start, but needed a boost to get things going. It also needed a push to get going. There was no snow when we parked it so it was in a depression of wet, frozen grass surrounded by snow. It didn't seem that deep, but still took a bit of effort to get out of the hollow. A bit of mud was sprayed. Sorry, Debbie. Just so you know her coat washed up fine.
The truck went in for its scheduled service. There was another recall. One that could set the truck on fire. The recall was an advisory only. They do not know how they are going to fix it and do not have any parts to fix it with yet. Another notice will go out if they do figure it out. That's reassuring. Good thing the truck is too big to park indoors.
I took the car for its scheduled oil change. It sure hurts to dump out clear looking synthetic oil with under 2,000 km on it just because it was last changed six months ago. Oh well. Them's the rules when it is under warranty coverage.
A friend e-mailed that it looked like I would need snowshoes to get around and she bet I didn't have any. I got the pair out of the sea can and took a selfy carrying my snow shoes. Bad bet.
We raked off the snow from the roof where we could reach it. Warm weather coming should take care of the rest. Not much chance of ice dams with a 12:12 pitch and a metal roof.
We had supper at Debbie and Ernie's a couple of times. one night there was a home inspector doing his thing for a potential purchaser. Mostly a good report with one item that needed fixing. That item was all fixed except for the second and third coat of mud and the painting by mid month. Time will tell if there is a sale there or not.
One evening we went to a fund raiser for the high school. There were raffle tickets, a fifty-fifty draw and many donated objects available for bid in a silent auction. They were also selling desserts to raise money. We are beyond the point of acquiring stuff, but we did try the desserts. You do what you can to help.
Sonja played fiddle music as part of the pre-auction entertainment. She looks so serious when playing, I got her to smile a bit, but never when I was snapping a picture.
After a busy week we headed south again on Saturday. We visited and stayed with friends in Saskatoon and drove the rest of the way to Regina on Sunday morning. I drove the truck. Juanita followed in the car. It is handy to have two vehicles. She volunteers just off downtown and the car is easier to find parking for and provides a way for her to go to Edmonton and back to Meadow Lake for family birthdays. The first weekend after I started work she headed to Edmonton for the weekend for Ezekial's baptism and for some follow-up on the dental implant she had done last year.
We got home about one, turned up the heat and went for lunch and to buy groceries. When we got back the trailer was warm. Speaking of warm. I messed up and left one thermostat back home at 15 C./ 60 F. all winter. With twelve inch thick walls the little house only cost about half of what a normal house would cost to heat. Still you can bet that I will check thermostats more closely in the future.
Back to Work
On Monday March 9th I went for training and orientation. Training courses are on cycles. Some courses are necessary every year. Some are on two or three year cycles. Last year I attended training for six days. This year Monday was it.
Tuesday I started work. There are a lot of familiar faces from last year and a couple of people retired or away on vacation or transferred to other departments, but overall it was pretty familiar. The shutdown work will probably run out about mid May. There may be opportunity to stay longer. Perhaps through to the fall shutdown or come back for that. Of course, there is the small matter of going to China the last two weeks in September. I don't think Juanita and her sister and her husband would be too keen about me saying to go without me. Not sure I'd be too keen either.
Camping in the Snow
We are back in the country early for us, but toward the end of a long winter for other people. It is currently unseasonably mild, but that could change. It has in the past, but from now on it can be expected to only be super cold for brief periods. We don't plan to do anything to modify the rig such as cover the windows or skirt in the underbelly with insulation.
Walking around the campground I can see that other people have been here longer and have made whatever changes they felt necessary to survive and or to be comfortable from winter's icy blasts. There are a few pictures of their efforts above. Not likely to find their way into the Architectural Digest, but probably did the job like any indigenous adaptation.
Last year was the year of the Google Streetview Car for us.
We followed one along the Trans Canada highway in Manitoba in October last year. It would dart into a town, rip off the camera coverings and drive around taking its pictures and then cover up the camera and dart back onto the highway. It would catch up and pass us lumbering along pulling the fifth wheel trailer and then it would pull off into the next small town and repeat the process.
On the July long weekend I looked up from the pile of fencing lumber and saw a Google Streetview Car circling through the cresent where Rebekah and Nick live. Recently the pictures finally showed up on the Street View in Google Maps. They blurred my face when I was looking at them. They did not blur my rear when I was bent over away from them. Its size is real. As much as I'd like to I cannot blame the size of it in the picture on blurring for privacy reasons.
Once I get the screenshots onto this page if you look closely you can see my daughter and grandson in some shots as well.
Signs you are in Canada
Coming home from the silent auction we swung by the local super market and I sent Juanita in to buy a Basic Turbo Tax software package while I lurked nearby keeping the car warm and ready to pick her up as she came out of the store. The next morning I realized that the Basic version was a little too basic for our needs and I headed into town to exchange it for the Standard version.
The store used to have a customer service counter, but it has been eliminated. Now, what one does is come into the store and stand at the line of tills and look hopefully at the cashiers until one is silly enough to make eye contact. Then you explain your situation, leave the original article with the cashier and go off into the store to find the exchange item. You are committed to returning to the same cashier. The one with your original purchase.
That committed me to standing behind a person buying an overflowing cart of groceries for a group home / soup kitchen. I had time to look around. And what did I see? I saw something I had not seen for sale since October - Kinder Surprises! A Kinder Surprise has a thin chocolate egg shell with a plastic container inside. The plastic container opens to reveal a toy or a figurine. The toys can be amazing, especially the ones that assemble into objects considerably bigger than the space they came out of.
You may think of the nanny state as something new, but it's not. It's been around for a long time and it is thriving with no danger of being on life support. According to a 1938 law it illegal to sell food containing a non-nutritive substance in the United States. That means it is a crime to carry Kinder Surprises across the border. People crossing the border have been threatened with a fine of $2,500 for each egg.
Usually Canada is more restrictive than the United States, but in this case the States goes one better than Canada and most of the rest of the world in protecting people from themselves. As the old Red Rose tea commercial used to say, "pity."
Bank Card PIN
I've been required to provide two pieces of photo i.d. and my right thumb print to cash a $40 check (cheque if it were in Canada) made out to me in a U.S. bank that was the home branch of the account.
Juanita walked into a Canadian bank branch where we do not typically deal, about 600 km. (400 mi.) from where we live and walked up to the counter. She told the teller she needed help because she had forgotten the PIN for that card. The bank person gave her $2,000 cash and walked her over to the ATM to help her reset the card with a new PIN. Never asked for i.d. or anything. Guess we had better keep any bank cards in a really safe place.
Waiting in line at the wand wash and listening to the local news on the radio. I heard that two persons had been seen walking along an access road carrying a machete. The police came along and took them into custody for possession of a weapon. Based on my observations traveling they'd have half of Central America and the Caribbean in custody if that standard was applied elsewhere.