Juanita came back from Edmonton to Meadow Lake on Saturday, October 1st, and we went back to Edmonton the next day.
Sunday night Juanita stayed with our grandson, Ezekial, in the hospital. He is now out on day pass having to be back every six hours for antibiotics and for overnight.
Monday I went for the annual medical check-up to maintain my Class 1A driver’s license (called a CDL in the States). The Meadow Lake clinic is usually too booked up to do DL physicals so I have been getting them done in walk-in clinics in Regina or Edmonton depending on where we are at the time. After the physical I picked up a part for Nick and Rebekah’s clothes drier and after taking it apart and doing some more checking and research picked up one more part. Hopefully that should keep it working for a while.
Monday night is bingo night at the “beach” at the Stollery (Edmonton Children’s Hospital). I took Ezekial back in time for that, the first time he was there on a Monday and feeling well enough to play. With beginner’s luck he won three times. Juanita minded the two younger kids while Nick and Rebekah got to go out for a birthday dinner and movie. When they got home Juanita came and relieved me of my duties and stayed the rest of the night. The next morning I picked them up and midday Juanita and I headed back to Meadow Lake.
Prepping for Departure
Back in Meadow Lake we set ourselves to puttering toward departure. Haircut for Juanita, (“cut it short so it lasts until we are back”), oil change for the car before parking it for the winter, oil change for the truck, new transmission pan for truck (deeper, more fluid, finned, hopefully to run cooler), insure the truck and trailer, pick up three of the four rewards from Airmiles.ca from the friend in town where we had them shipped, all of this interspersed with my obsessive monitoring of the soap opera that is the USA presidential race. I don’t have a candle at that funeral as the Spanish say, but am fascinated in the politics as unusual and do hope for a candidate that will drain the swamp rather than deepen it.
When the weekend came I continued on with our stuff rather than help Ernie with siding. It had gotten cold enough that the siding started shattering when he went to cut it so he stored it all in one of the outbuildings and will bring it out if the weather gets warm again (unlikely) or next spring (we do tend to count on that happening although it can be a bit late some years).
Monday, October 17, was Thanksgiving Day in Canada. We had had Thanksgiving dinner at Debbie and Ernie’s the day before so we continued puttering to get ready to go with taking stuff out of the RV that we shouldn’t need in the south (still left too many warm weather clothes in my closet and too many tools in the basement. Grandma was right, procrastination is the thief of time). Tuesday the stores were open so gassed up the vehicles and ran any town errands (some Robertson head screws, a SD card for the new camera), wash the car and truck and left the car parked in the field in front of Debbie and Ernie’s house.
Somewhere in there it snowed and Juanita swept what snow she could off the top of the trailer. Also the tonneau cover got removed from the truck and the tool box installed and then the hitch was greased and installed. I changed the thermostat in the crawl space of the house for one that adjusts down to 5* C. (roughly about 40* F.) for the original one that adjusts down to 10* C. (50* F.).
Wednesday we got up relatively early and kept puttering with the house water system, draining the hot water tank, purging the lines with antifreeze and filling the traps with antifreeze. We keep a bit of heat on to help the flooring, but also have to assume that eventually there will be an extended power failure that, if it happened, would burst the pipes if we left them filled with water. The windows got boarded and a few office files moved to the trailer and we hooked up and rolled out the gate about one o’clock and stopped to lock the gate. The grid road to the highway was slushy, but the highway was dry and clean.
On the Road Again
About dusk we pulled into the truck stop in Davidson, SK and fueled up and then found a place to park away from the semis and went inside the cafe for supper before settling down for our first night’s sleep in the rig since May.
Thursday we took our time eating breakfast and getting on the road. I wanted to hit the Regina ring road around tennish to minimize traffic. We hit it thereabouts and continued on to Highway 1 (Trans Canada Highway) headed East planning to fuel up at White City but that exit was closed and the alternate exit was not one we wanted to explore for the first time while towing our fifth wheel. We continued on, with the last of the snow melting enough to come off the trailer roof in small clumps. We fueled up further east and then carried on to Moosomin to stop for hamburgers and BOGO Blizzards from the DQ. Sundown found us arriving at the Flying J in Headingly on the outskirts of Winnipeg. After fueling up we went into the Denny’s to eat and surf until bedtime.
Friday we eventually got mobile and took the ring road part way around Winnipeg and then went south to cross the border at Pembina. The border agent asked us the usual questions and I answered the usual answers. I guess he picked up my body language sigh at answering the “any fresh fruits or vegetables?” and said “how long you been doing this?” and I said “since 2005” and he gave us our passports back and said “have a nice winter” and we carried on. We stopped in a small town and bought bleach and cold cuts. The cold cuts for lunch. The bleach for later.
At our first fuel stop I was confronted with the choice of #1 or #2 diesel. I chose #1. Wrong choice. Noticeably poorer fuel economy and noticeably higher price. Research revealed that it is a lighter cut, closer to kerosene and not needed above 5* F. In Canada and some states the refineries just change their blend according to expected temperatures. In North Dakota they sell both and let you try and blend them at the pump by how much of each you buy. A day when you don’t learn something is supposedly a bad day. Some lessons carry higher tuition than others. A few bucks more to fill the tank one time was not too bad a cost for the learning, I suppose.
We carried on to Summit, SD and fueled and ate and decided that we were close enough to York, our next planned stop so we settled in for the night. The smelly cattle car that parked next to us thankfully didn’t stay the night. Fairly early the next morning we carried on to York, NE, stopping at the Walmart in Vermillion, SD for lunch fixings.
The Double Nickel campground east of York was full but they called a competitor to the west and we headed there and booked two nights and then a third, the next day. Warm again! Really fast wi-fi!
After getting set-up we went to town, for supper and fuel and shopping at Walmart. The next day I woke up fighting a cold and went back to bed and slept until 9:30. “I guess we are not going to church, today.” I stayed close to home both days, but Juanita went for more groceries when we booked a third night. Generally, we took it easy and I nursed my cold and got some work done on the web site which had suffered from other distractions over the summer.
Ice Storm (meanwhile back at the ranch)
Sunday we received an e-mail that they had had a foot of snow back home along with a picture of our car covered in snow.
Monday morning we started receiving e-mails from our daughter that the snow had been followed by freezing rain and that they had had a brief power outage in the middle of the night but that there were widespread power outages in the area and line crews were backing off until trees stopped falling everywhere. They had lost a big spruce tree on their property but mostly were okay. Later in the day she hiked into our property and sent us the pictures above saying there was nothing down, but the top of one spruce near the house looked like it might break off but should miss the porch. I was grateful that there was no damage and happy that I had cut down a number of dead and standing trees in August.
Tuesday, October 18th, we resumed our travels. We had booked a spot in a Passport America park in Guthrie, OK and I figured it would be an easy seven-hour drive and we could get there by six if we left by eleven so we took our time getting ready to go and it looked like we were on track to be on the road by nine.
When we got here I filled the FW tank with water and bleach and used the FW pump to flush the lines. I left the lines to soak while we went to supper. When we got back from supper I flushed them with straight campground water through a hose to the "city water" connection on the side of the trailer. The FW tank was left full of bleach solution to soak over our stay. First thing when I got outside this morning I opened the drain on the FW tank and let it drain. Then I carried on dumping the black and grey water tanks.
Juanita brought in the bedroom slide and the kitchen slide while I was doing this. I was finishing dumping the tanks when Juanita said the living room slide was only going in on one end. Simple problem but took a bit of time to find a bolt to replace the one that had fallen out and get the alignment right and everything working okay.
Back to getting ready.
Stow the sewer hose. Stow the water hose. Stow the electrical cord. Turn the truck around. Hitch up.
“Only one leg of the landing gear is going up!” Troubleshoot. Find parts. Install part. Retract landing gear. Legs not at same height. Remove part. Make legs same. Re-install part.
On the road at 10:45. ETA 4:45. Drive at or slightly above speed limit. Flying pit stops. Arrive 4:45 at Cedar Valley RV Park and park and set-up rig.
Start looking for local friends. Discover they moved to Mississippi at the beginning of the month. Mississippi’s gain. Our loss. Wi-fi iffy in the evening when everybody home. Go for supper. Choose a place partly because it is more likely to have wi-fi than other restaurant choice. Wrong. No wi-fi. Good food. Buy groceries. Come home.
Finally give in to side effects of cold and keeping the pressure on driving all day and go to bed early.
We spent two nights in Guthrie. We have stopped at the former state capital several times over the years so didn’t do much exploring. The only thing in town that I haven’t seen, but would like to is the old book store, but it didn’t make it onto the actual list of activities for the day.
The wi-fi was better in the morning so we got caught up on surfing and a little web editing and then located a Home Depot and an AT&T phone store in Edmonds and headed that way. The AT&T store had sent Juanita a text message that our alternate Texas cell phone would stop working on their network in the near future and to stop by a store and pick up a free cell phone. I got the same message about my Virgin Mobile phone going obsolete in Canada, but there was no free cell phone involved in the event. It also took overnight for the new purchased phone to start working. The process at AT&T was quick, painless and accurate. The phone really was free and worked from the second the rep handed it to me.
We saw an Ace hardware store before we saw a Home Depot and I managed to get some bolts and nuts for future slide mishaps and to get some replacements for a couple of tools that seem to have disappeared from their slots in the tool box. Also bought a bug zapping wand. We have looked everywhere for the old one that should live in the trailer but no luck. Oh well, it either isn’t in the rig or it will only turn up if we buy another. They had a high-powered flashlight on display in a wooden case. I played with it and got a pretty good beam to the far wall of the well-lit store. When the $105 price tag was announced I promptly returned it to its wooden case.
We stopped at a 7-11 advertising “fresh” wraps and discovered them in the cooler with all the other packaged products and departed to the MacDonald’s across the street where we ate lunch and used the wi-fi to find an O’Reilly’s where we bought a tube of synthetic grease.
We had a treat at a Braum’s ice cream parlor and headed back to Guthrie to buy water and other supplies at the Wal Mart, fuel up the truck and wash it before returning home (“home is where you park it”). I greased the hitch and visited with the neighbour who asked me some details about how he would prepare his fifth wheel trailer to be moved to the other end of the park so he was closer to the highway “when the snow is three feet deep”. The trailer belongs to his son and he only lives in it and wasn’t involved with situating it where it is now. I suggested that he would have more help and advice than a person could ever want from the retired men in the park. Then I learned from him that he was a rarity. Most of the people living there are younger and are away all day working for a living. That explains the weak wi-fi when they are all home and the better wi-fi when they are gone in the morning.
The next morning we were relatively efficient and had few surprises so we were fairly quickly on the road to Glen Rose, Texas.
Guthrie, Oklahoma to Glen Rose, Texas
Last time we had headed south out of that trailer park we were going to Kerrville to visit Leonard and Karen Cook. The GPS directed us to head West and hooked us up eventually with a toll road. Interstate 44 if I remember correctly. Today the GPS directed us back east to Interstate 35 and straight through the heart of Oklahoma City and then through Fort Worth. Checking with Google maps taking the I44 route is forty-nine minutes quicker. For almost an hour and the hassle of talking the GPS into choosing I44 I figured it wasn’t worth it. That’s before spending close to two hours barely moving or stopped in various construction zones in and around Fort Worth. Next time, go west old guy!
The GPS is showing its age. The 2012 device uses a 2011 map. It has a few surprises. Today it had us exit in Ft. Worth, go for a block on the frontage road and then re-enter the freeway. In Glen Rose it directed us to the camp ground by unnecessarily having us go down some tiny streets. One was so suspicious looking that I stopped and waited while Juanita walked to where she could see it wasn’t a dead end.
Of course, it may not all be just age of the database not showing changes in the last five years. It may be other inaccuracies. Just to watch eta one day coming back to Meadow Lake from Edmonton I let the Nav system run and it tried to route me over a section of grid road rather than the highway. I remember when the highway last ran the way the Nav system wanted us to go. It was around 1990.
Anyway. We got there and signed into this city of Glen Rose run Passport America park and went to our assigned spot. It was a drive-through spot which I like. It was also the only spot that had a tree next to it and the tree was leaning toward the site so it took a bit of juggling to get into the site without crushing the side of the rig. There were lots of other spots open but we prevailed without succumbing to the urge to park in the next spot and just go tell the office we switched. The campground was a lot bigger than it looked. There were a number of Road Trek vans there for a rally. One neighbour said sixty vans were there in total and yet the side of the campground we were on had more empty spaces than occupied.
After leveling the trailer, putting out the slide and setting up the water and power we walked out of the campground and across the highway to a local park with large boulders next to the river. We joined the people climbing and leaping from boulder to boulder until we had done that enough and walked back home and got in the truck and went for dinner. We drove to a bigger town about fifteen miles north and dined at a Braums and enjoyed a couple of healthy salads followed by less healthy ice cream desserts. Last chance to go to Braums for a while. They started in Oklahoma and you see them in north, central Texas but not south Texas. After dinner we drove home, buying fuel on the way and settled in for what was left of a quiet evening.
Highland Lake Camp to Harlingen, Texas
Google maps said it was a little over two hours to Marble Falls and I subconsciously based our preparations on that. Our final destination for the day was further past Marble Falls than I thought which was apparent when I put Highland Lakes Camp address into the nav system, but it still worked okay even with a half hour stop for road construction and half an hour for lunch and fuel in Marble Falls. But lets start at the beginning.
We got up at a reasonable hour and had breakfast and did a bit of web surfing and got outside and started preps for leaving. Somewhere in there I started talking to the neighbour about his Road Trek van and the van rally and things in general. I looked across to our rig and noticed Juanita’s brief head shake and flashed back to the Robert Frost poem many of us studied in high school and realized I should be doing more so turned the truck around, hitched up and did the circle check and we left for a mix of two lane and four lane highway with moderate traffic and a pleasant day’s drive.
We arrived at Highland Lakes Camp around two and there was Leonard Cook waiting for us. He helped direct me into a camp site and Juanita and Karen visited. I went up to the office to sign in and pay and then he and I did a bit of a tour of the camp and discussed what he had been working on during last month’s SOWER project. Then we went back to their rig and sat under their awning and visited, until I realized that the rig was still sitting there hooked up to the truck and Juanita and I went and took care of that and Leonard took their dog for a walk. Then we all went to Marble Falls to dinner at the Blue Bell restaurant. Very busy. Surprised to see a few skinny patrons with the portion sizes they serve.
Saturday we did some exploring the camp and park with Leonard and Karen and had lunch together at the camp cafeteria. In the afternoon we had a few hours to ourselves for naps, dog walking or in my case finding a shaded table near the camp main buildings and catching up on the political soap opera and adding some words to our web site. Then we all visited some more and went to a nearby barbecue place where some of us exercised restraint and one of us pigged out. I haven’t eaten that much in a long time. Oops.
We had planned on staying for three nights, but quickly realized that the trip across San Antonio would be less stressful mid morning on Sunday than on Monday so on the dot of nine we rolled out of our site and waved goodbye to Leonard and Karen and the dog and got back on the road.
The roads on the north west edge of San Antonio were a bit congested but quickly opened up as we moved downtown and there was hardly any traffic. We stopped for fuel on the other side of the city and headed to Mathis. It was still quite early when we got to Mathis so we decided to keep travelling to Harlingen and got there around 3:30 and got set up on our usual slab of concrete and settled in and visited a bit and went out to dinner with Brother Ben. Monday we went to the staff meeting and got the work list for the week. Ben left for Nicaragua right after the meeting. Byron was due back from Nicaragua the next day. I will be working with Byron for now so we used the day to get settled and run errands and renew our Harlingen library cards and so on. The library parking lot was almost full. We have never seen that before and then realized that early voting had started and there are polls in the building the library is attached to.
On Tuesday we attended chapel and then I hooked up with Byron and we went to work and Juanita settled into the food bank area and worked with others packaging beans and rice for outreach at the Celebrate Jesus Festival planned in Brownsville in November. That pretty much sums up the rest of the week through Friday as well. Juanita worked at the warehouse packaging rice and beans and Byron and I worked on his work list doing various repairs, mostly on restoring the fountain at the cross at the training center. The plan is to have it working for when the teams are here for the Big Feed in Matamoros between Christmas and New Year. The fountain pond is made from an old corrugated iron stock tank which has serious rust perforation issues. We spent the week covering those with long strand fibreglass body filler and pieces of fibreglass cloth. These are indigenous materials in that there is a pallet of donated body work supplies in the warehouse.
Saturday Byron and I were supposed to pick up a fifth wheel trailer, but due to some communication issues (my cell phone stopped accepting text messages) and then some paperwork issues with the trailer that didn’t happen so I puttered at sorting out clothes which should have happened in August, but didn’t. Grandma was right. Procrastination is the thief of time. I rewarded us for at least getting all the clothes off the bed at the end of the day with a trip to the DQ where they accepted our hoarded coupons from two years ago.
Sunday I ordered a new cell phone and we went to chapel then lunch at Chapitas. Then we went for a drive to Raymondville to find the fifth wheel trailer. Moving that will be exciting when the time comes. The slides are out. The battery is not hooked up, but touching the disconnected wire didn’t seem to make anything happen. There are hand crank locations for the slides and landing gear, but they don’t match the crank I have for my trailer. The trailer is surrounded by long grass in rattlesnake country. The trees seem to have grown pretty close to the driveway. At least the tires seem to have air in them. They are roundy all the way around. This is a win-win. Either it will go smoothly or it will become (after some time) a good story.
Later we went to Brownsville and bought some supplies for the coming week at Harbor Freight.