We started the month in Las Vegas and plan to end it in Regina and Vancouver with a few spots between.
April 1 - 2
Friday after breakfast we charged off into rush hour traffic across Las Vegas and headed north stopping on the outskirts to top-up the gas tank. I went to the rest room while Juanita pumped. That pump only dribbled and frequently quit pumping. She gave up after half a tank. When I came back, she headed for a pit stop and I found another pump and finished the fill. I guess at $US 5.299 a US gallon ($C 1.75 a litre) they want you to savour every drop that goes into the tank. That’s the most we’ve paid on this trip. When I think of it I’ll check the litre log and do a highest/lowest fuel price and total fuel cost for the trip.
Update: Las Vegas was the highest on April Fools Day. Pharr, Texas was the lowest on December 30, 2021 at Costco for $US 2.569/USG or $C 0.848/litre.
Once out of Vegas, traffic eased a bit. We stopped for breakfast and, later, lunch. Traffic picked up as we approached Salt Lake City. We hugged the HOV lane. I reminisced about camping with my father by the Provo River in 1982.
We had booked an Econo Lodge in Idaho Falls spending a couple of bucks over a motel 6 to get better Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi at the Econo Lodge was kinda okay. The room was run down. We were told the level we were on was “better than the downstairs rooms”. Hard to imagine worse than what we had, but they’re probably right. The wall outlets were so worn the cell phone charger just fell out when it was plugged in landing on the frayed, grotty carpet.
We followed Mr. Google Map’s directions to a McDonald’s drive through for breakfast and rejoined Interstate 15. On the road north we were seeing more AB plates, and a few SK plates. Motor homes, cars and trucks pulling trailers. Snowbirds coming home.
I had started filling out the Arrive Can app the night before, it seemed ambiguous and asked me to commit to things that couldn’t still be correct. I stopped filling it in. About an hour short of the border we pulled off and created a hot spot and carried on filling it out. It may have changed or maybe I was reading it differently, but it seemed to be less demanding. It still asked for a quarantine plan. After crossing the border, I found out full isolation was not necessary if vaccinated. That changed plans a bit.
This is the second day since the PCR test entry requirement was dropped. The border crossing was busy but only about a half hour wait. Back in Meadow Lake somebody said that their parents had waited in line four hours the first day of the change.
We drove through Lethbridge and north and then cut across to highway 2. I reminisced about taking a similar route from Lethbridge with my Dad in 1965. I was singularly impressed that the only four curves on the road showed up on a regular scale provincial road map. Quite a novelty to somebody who grew up on the west coast. The storm going on that we mostly avoided was also a reminder of that trip from Lethbridge to High River.
We followed Mr. Google maps’ directions to a Motel 6 in Airdrie. Don’t know how you would find the access without a GPS and a map program. After dropping our stuff in the room we dined at an Indian restaurant both eating too much.
April 3 - 9
Lazy Sunday morning. Survived on coffee and bananas. (Keto bananas? Well, no). Late checkout.
Went for lunch at Wendy’s. While we were there, we got a call that one of our US cell phones had been left in the hotel. After breakfast we went and picked it up and then off to the Bulk Barn for supplies and a fill-up of gas and on the road to Edmonton and a visit with family who we hadn’t seen since November.
We had some banking to do in Edmonton so stayed an extra night before heading home to Meadow Lake on Tuesday. While in the line at the bank on Monday I got a call about a job in Regina. They were having a hard time finding the skilled, experienced people they needed. They had increased some of what they were willing to pay. Almost but not quite up to what I had been receiving five years ago as a temporary employee. Pretty good by the standards of the last couple of years, though. I hummed and hawed and politely declined. Later that day I was talking to a former boss who was working in Sarnia. He convinced me that the pay and timing was too good to pass up. Before we left on Tuesday I called Regina and accepted the offer. I am scheduled to start on the 18th.
We arrived at our property. The clumps of ice and snow the snowplow had left across the end of the driveway were more than three feet high. The drifts on the property varied between two and three feet. I schlepped in to the house. There were places the surface of the snow were firm enough to hold me. There were places I broke through. After turning up the heat in the house I dug out the snow blower. IT started on the first pull.
The machine could handle the layer cake of snow and melted, re-frozen snow if I went slowly. It could not handle the places where the deer had made trails. There hoofprints had left mounds of ice frozen to the ground and the blower would just ride up over them. I put the blower in reverse and forward back and forth in a northern bossa nova until it had worn down the spot enough to dig into the undisturbed snow beyond the trail. Sometimes I used a shovel to help the process. That worked okay for the trails one crossed. The trails going the same way as I wanted to go were another matter. I zig zagged up the driveway until I got to the grid road. About then Juanita was back from town and started hacking at the icy mounds at the end of the driveway. Eventually we got a spot cleared off the road for the car and parked it there. Juanita went to the house and started a fire in the woodstove. Then she started ferrying our luggage by sled from the car to the house. I carried on widening the path bit by bit until we could move the car next the house. Enough for one day.
The next day I cleared a spot for the truck and we went to our daughter’s acreage and brough the truck home. Enough for that day as well.
Then it was open four months of mail and deal with any immediate things before diving into the online course and documentation requirements for the Regina job. On Thursday we drove to Lloydminster for a drug and alcohol test and my annual respirator fit test. Friday I sent in all that and started on our Canadian income taxes so Juanita could do her US income taxes.
While in Lloydminster we got the oil changed on the car. The truck was due for an oil change, too. That could wait for next week.
April 10 - 16
We went to church at our home church for the first time since November. We masked because of the fourteen-day window coming back into the country and stayed well separated from all others. Everybody else seems back to normal. In the prayer and praise time I thanked God for safe travels and for a good winter. It certainly was good to be serving somewhere and not hiding in a cabin in the woods like last winter.
I had planned to work on the web site and add pictures for April but basically went into a funk where I just read a book then packed for Regina and read another book, packed a bit more…
Oh. And tended to the truck.
The local dealer pointed out a few recalls to be done when I went in for an oil change. Back the next day for that to be done. One of the recalls was to check the wheel studs. The original torque spec was too high it seems. They have lowered it. The recall was to check for stretching of the studs, replace any needed and update the owner’s manual with the new spec. Only two studs needed replacement, but they noticed significant wear on the front brake pads. I thought the oil change was supposed to check for that, but apparently not. So a brake job.
Our last Saturday home for a while we did the laundry and then winterized the water system. It only took an hour or so. I had not installed new filters so we didn’t have to deal with those. I didn’t notice any sediment running in bypass mode but will have some iron coloration to deal with when we get back and install all the filters. That evening we went over to Debbie and Ernie’s and celebrated Sonja’s 22nd birthday.
April 17 - 19
Sunday we finished loading both vehicles and drove to Regina. I bought some new work boots in North Battleford on our way through there. Last summer’s boots seemed okay last summer, but just a bit too worn to use in snowy and icy conditions.
We arrived at our new digs and the landlady said she’d meet us around back. She stuck her head out one door when we parked in the car port and then we waited patiently at the wrong door expecting her until we all figured out the error. The suite is great and better equipped than we expected. There is some stuff we can send home with Juanita if she goes back to Meadow Lake for a visit.
After the truck and car were unloaded we went to Five Guys for burgers. I handed out some curved illusion tracts there. We checked closing time at Walmart to make sure we had enough time to locate the gate for the parking lot at the job site. Back from that we bought our supplies at Walmart. This Walmart has already gone bagless. Mutter. Then home to unpack, blow up the bed, make lunch and breakfast for tomorrow and lay out work clothes.
The bed worked fine for me. It lost a bit of air overnight. I am told that when I rolled out of bed there was no longer enough air to keep Juanita off the floor. We’ll add more air tonight than last night and see how that goes. Maybe it will be time for a bed in a box.
The first day of work went well. I was awake before the alarm and on the road with lots of time to get there. Traffic was light. I backed into my parking spot and let the truck cool down then went looking for the contractor’s truck. The window rolled down. They asked my name. I gave it. No ID card for you. Go home. We’ll call you when we have one. No point waiting in the parking lot. Any idea how long? Nope. “Well, we should cut them some slack. It IS their first turnaround.” Laughter. I left. Had always argued that after an extended absence from work the most that should be required is to show up and maybe have a coffee and say hi and go home. This works.
After relacing my work boots from their factory default I had another coffee and pulled out the laptop. Might as well work on the web site. Working six ten-hour days a week once they build me an ID card I probably won’t have much time for that. I stayed in work clothes expecting a call any minute. Nope.
Tuesday, the same drill. This time I was more experienced. No waiting around for a call. After the web site work for the day, we went to lunch at a favorite Vietnamese restaurant for sweet potato noodle soup. I had beef; Juanita had BBQ pork. The place seems to have survived the Branch Covidian lockdowns and was thriving again. A couple of patrons and one server wore masks. That works. To each his own. Like adults.
Up early, rested, and ready. After the daily omelette and the daily Bread I remote started the truck, put on my work boots and parka and went out to scrap the ice from the truck windows.
No ID card today.
We’ll call you.
Home it was and here I are. I am part of a crew of 9. Monday, one got a card. Yesterday, another. Today just one other and I didn’t get cards. Things are looking up for tomorrow. There’s got to be a pony somewhere.
April 20th was a big day in our home growing up. It was my dad’s birthday. When I was older, I realized the date was shared by others. My co-worker, Klaus, was born on April 20th as well. He said he got a day off from school on his birthday each year growing up in Nazi Germany.
I got thinking of my dad on the way north to Canada this spring. We covered some of the same ground on a trip we took together in 1982 on a trip to see his brother in California, “one last time.” As we drove through Lethbridge a few weeks ago I reminisced about trips with him to Elks’ Conventions.
The first I remember was a provincial convention in 1955 in Kamloops. It was in June and I got off school to travel with my parents. The highway through the Fraser Canyon was remarkable to me. Crossing the Alexandria suspension bridge and back and forth on the switchbacks up Jackass Mountain. The road on stilts out over the river is some places. All the things that got improved away in the burst of improvements in the 60’s. I remember staying at Scott’s motel in Kamloops and helping a similarly aged damsel in distress who had managed to get her finger stuck in a pop bottle. Then the trip home through the Okanagan Valley staying at the El Rancho in Penticton and the drive from there home over the Hope Princeton highway. At university I met the son of the owner of the El Rancho. The day after my last apprenticeship class in 1980, Juanita our baby, Becky, our toddler, Debbie, and I stayed there as well. Hard to imagine it is still going or still a desirable place to stay.
Well! Look at that! Mr. Google Maps says its still there and reviews give a rating of 3.2 out of 5. One review complains of bed bugs. Maybe it is showing its age. Aren’t we all? Maybe I’ll skip the convenient two blocks off the beach location next time we are in Penticton. There is in the family album a picture of Debbie and me sitting on the beach in our swimsuits. My sister called that shot, “Debbie and the great white whale”. But I digress.
The national or “Grand Lodge” convention of 1957 was next that I remember. Well, actually, I don’t. It was planned to have me stay at home and go fishing with family friends on Powell Lake. At the last minute I was informed I would be going to the Diamond J Dude Ranch in the wilds of Surrey (I think). It was billed as each dude getting his or her own horse. That was marketing. I shared Stormy, a black Shetland pony with another dude or dudette who I can’t remember, That was enough for nine year old me, I got as much riding in as I wanted and only had to do half the horse care chores. I do remember the drinking water taste dipped from an oak barrel. And the monkey escaping and causing a bit of excitement until somebody shot it as it cavorted on the peak of the cook house. Not much other else than being interrogated by the director if that was my father in the newspaper article about the election of a new Grand Exalted Ruler of the Grand Lodge of the BPOE. Celebrities must have been in short supply. On parent’s day they announced my honourable father and my presence. Then it was off to the Hotel Vancouver to rise a week’s grime off in the big claw footed tub with its taps with porcelain “hot” and “cold” labels. I expect the Hotel Vancouver has faired better with age than the El Rancho. According to its website it is now a Fairmont Hotel they just spent $75 million dollars on renovations, so it better be better than the humble El Rancho
In 1958 we all (parent, unmarried sister and me) went to Winnipeg by train and stayed in another CPR hotel which is also now a Fairmont. I remember the train ride there. Overnight to Revelstoke and then through the Rockies by day. Probably over some bridges my grandfather built. Winnipeg I remember the zoo and seeing the “wapiti” (elk). My sister exclaiming “there’s a hill” to be informed it was the city dump.
We brought BC commemorative centenary (1858-1958) silver dollars with us and I saw a thousand dollar bill for the first and last time. It was a prize in a raffle. They have since discontinued that denomination, something to do with drug dealers and the risk that the government might not be able to snoop as much as it wants to. Do you think the bill might make a comeback when hyperinflation hits Canada? To think that Canada with all its resources has been mismanaged to the point where that is a realistic possibility. But I digress.
I bought my first multi-tool in Winnipeg. The brass handle of the hammer unscrewed to reveal screwdrivers of various sizes. I seem to remember seeing the screwdriver recently but none of the rest of the tool.
Leaving Winnipeg, I promised a newfound friend I would cut up a nickel and send him half. Not the first or the last thing on a to-do list I failed to do. I didn’t even try. I did, however, for a bet, try to delaminate some plywood with a chisel at about that age. The blood was impressive. The scar has mostly faded.
On the train ride back I remember the Bow River and getting too motion sick to eat going through the mountains and how wonderful the beef and buttered buns tasted the next morning. On our way to the Vancouver train station we passed the recently collapsed Second Narrows Bridge. Now known as the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge in honour of those who died in the collapse. To think it was all caused by somebody running their finger across a column of numbers and slipping a line to arrive at the wrong size of steel member to be used.
In 1962 I rode with my dad to the national convention in Calgary. Both sisters were married by then and my mother had stopped travelling with my father. She would be quite combative if not asked to came along but would respond with “Of course not!” if approached. Before I became a Christian I had not seen a marriage that appeared happy and functional. My parents’ was typical as far as I could tell.
I was navigator, dad was driver, He gave me a slip of paper with an address on Georgia Street in Vancouver. Somewhere on Georgia street. We found it. Then we headed up valley to Hope for the night. The next day the 1957 Dodge was acting up as we travelled through Manning Park and the Hope-Princeton. We pulled into Brother Don Carlson’s shop in Keremeos and he installed new plugs. Much my better. On the road again across the bottom of BC and up to Calgary. This was before the Hope slide, I saw the Frank slide for the first time. A whole town buried in rock early one morning. No survivors.
In Calgary I directed to an address on Georgia Street in the suburbs of Calgary. Didn’t look like our hotel. Then we turned the paper over and used the side with the Calgary address of the Cavalier Notel.
In any case by then I was 14, I could be left on my own to hang around the Cavalier Motel an its environs while my dad and his lodge buddies did their thing. They quieted down a bit after management threatened to evict them. Phil’s pancake house was right next door and a hobby shop was down the block at the Northgate Mall. I added to my collection of model cars to be assembled.
The pool was a great place to hang. The sunburn from that was painful. Not the first or last sunburn I’ve had. Also painful was the apology to the brother Elk whose new convertible received the careful insertion of an exhaust whistle in its tail pipe. Seemed like great fun in the ads for it but caused him a lot of worry. Not to mention a lot of ire from dad.
In Calgary I noticed my fashion consciousness. Rather, self-consciousness. We dropped in to visit some people in their hotel room. Dress slacks, dress shirts, cufflinks. Definitely not the same class as me I realized. The final wound was inflicted when I was packing the car while my dad was busy. I snagged my baggy pants on something and ripped one leg right across the knee. No matter. We are driving downtown and then on the road. Downtown somebody thought it would be a good idea to have the family of dignitaries parade around the ballroom. Shades of Diamond J! What is with these people, anyway? I paraded with that large flap of cloth flapping away as I went around the room. What else would a flap do but flap?
We drove south passing through the Mormon town of Cardston around sunset and crossed the border at Port of Piegan to spend the night in a log cabin in Babb, Montana. The romantic young couple leaning into the logs next door ignored the 14-year-old me staring as they teased themselves in anticipation. We went into our cabin. The next day we were on the road through Glacier National Park and on our way to Spokane to visit my uncle Cecil who moved from there to California when he retired from the railway.
Then on our way to Seattle and the World’s Fair. I saw a Franklin, front wheel drive air-cooled car at a roadside garage in the Cascade mountains.
In Seattle we went up the space needle and both had our first piece of pizza. I don’t remember much else. It was the last big trip with the Dodge. The next year we drove it to Vancouver and started at Dueck on Broadway going from dealer to dealer until we found one in New Westminster that would accept the Dodge in trade on a 1963 Chevrolet, the car I learned to drive in.
That wasn’t much writing for the day, but I got a bit of reading in too. I hear they figured out how to make me an ID card. Who knew it could be so hard? I start work tomorrow. Ten hours a day. Six days a week. Posting might be a bit spotty.
Just remember. I had ripped knee pants decades before it was fashionable.
April 21 - 23
I was right. I got an ID card and started work on the 21st. I was also right about not much time for writing.
Most of the guys I’m working with are new friends with one old friend. Lots of opportunities between task assignments to hear new stories and tell old ones.
April 24 - 30
Sunday. Slept in until 5:30
Went to breaking of bread service at Bethany Gospel Chapel and then met for lunch with a SOWER couple we had worked with in Texas a few years ago. Then some errands and quiet time and to an early bed. Morning comes early.
Monday to Friday was the same old of ten-hour days. The maintenance shutdown proceeded as efficiently as one might expect with an organization that can’t manage to produce an ID card with ten days lead time.
On Saturday I flew on an early direct flight to Vancouver to attend the funeral for Dan Adamson, my sister Sydney’s husband of over sixty years.
When Juanita and I were married in Tucson I hadn’t expected any of my family to attend and was good with that. Maybe even a bit glad. My best man came from Vancouver but that is sort of an obligation. There was no obligation for Dan to show up but he did with just a bit of warning. I was thrilled and am still grateful that he did. When you die at age ninety a lot of your peers aren’t around to say goodbye. I really wanted to be there for him and was glad I did even when there were so many more at the funeral than anyone expected.
The flight went well with good views of the snow-capped Rockies. There was a light rain happening in Vancouver. I bought a day pass for the transit system and trained, bused, trained some more and walked to meet my sister Judi at her hotel in Burnaby. The transit experience was surprisingly pleasant with the transit system smart phone app providing route options and eta’s. The trees in blossom and all the flowers in bloom were such a contrast to Regina at this time of year.
We had breakfast with Judi’s daughter, Sherry, and her husband. Glenn, and their daughter Katlyn. After breakfast we went for a walk in the newly renovated Brentwood Mall. It bills itself as the “Amazing Brentwood” but we all found it underwhelming and soon left for my sister Sydney’s home. After a visit there we returned to the hotel for people to change clothes. I hung out in the lobby and handed out a few curved illusion tracts until Glenn came down to sit next to me. We picked up some flowers and went to the funeral home to celebrate the life of Sydney’s husband, Dan Adamson. It was well attended. He had a varied and interesting life and several people stood up and shared memories. I learned quite a few things about him from the speakers.
I shared a couple of things I had learned from him during his life despite our differences in aptitude and attitude to sports. I was always picked last when teams were formed. He would have been picked first. He was an excellent athlete playing baseball at a professional skill level but failing to get a berth on a professional team due to a back operation that scared them off from signing him.
Dan’s brother-in-law Peter gave an excellent eulogy. He mentioned Dan going to Toronto with his brother to look for work. I was able to share the story of how Dan got back to the coast. He was a teenager and had not yet learned to drive but he answered an ad from somebody with a car wanting someone to share the driving on a trip to Vancouver. I asked him what happened when it was his turn to drive. He said it was apparent right away he didn’t know what he was doing and the fellow took back the wheel and drove until he was too tired to care and handed off to Dan. By the time they got to Vancouver he could drive pretty well.
He was a good example to me how he studied electronics by correspondence course as far as he could. He followed that with residence school in Toronto. He applied that knowledge working for Burroughs, Honeywell and Lenkurt Electric. Lenkurt changed to A.E. Microtel and he worked for them until retirement. With Microtel and as a contractor in retirement he worked all over the world.
After the funeral lunch we emerged to the beauty of a sunny Vancouver spring afternoon that more than compensates for the usual drizzle. Family gathered at my sister Sydney’s for more eating and visiting and then it was time to get a ride to my Richmond hotel with niece Sherry’s son Scott. He was on his way to the Tsawwassen ferry and my hotel was a short detour from his route.