Merry Christmas to you and yours for 2022 and a Blessed New Year in 2023.
We traversed the year in good health and hope you did as well.
We began 2022 serving at Way of the Cross in Harlingen, Texas. They have a food bank and a cross border outreach ministry. They are on time-out as a SOWER ministry but still have needs. You can read more in the January, February, and March Updates.
In late March we headed up to a family funeral in Houston then went across Texas to New Mexico and Arizona. After some visiting with friends in Arizona and Nevada we drove up through the Rockies to arrive home in April. We had hardly dug through the snow drifts to our house and we went south again to Regina to work at an maintenance shutdown at a oil refinery where Paul has worked numerous times in the past. That work lasted until the end of May.
We were briefly at home before we were off to another, shorter maintenance turnaround near Edmonton. It was shorter than expected so after some time at home we returned to get in some grandkids’ time without work getting in the way. In July, Paul went with the Edmonton family for a trip to BC to see family there.
The rest of the summer and fall was spent working around home, installing a new roof on our fifth wheel trailer and replacing a window with a door to last year’s deck project. Much easier deck access than crawling through a window. For the rest of the year we went back and forth to Edmonton for birthdays in September, birthdays and work in October and birthdays and a play in November.
In November we all celebrated Deborah’s graduation from her nursing program. Well done, Deborah!
December sees us muddling through the cold weather on our acreage and preparing to head south to Way of the Cross after Christmas with family.
December 2022 Update
Mainly December, so far has been involved with muddling through the day to day of dealing with snow and cold and prepping for Christmas and to go south afterward. Travel insurance was dealt with. That’s an intentional passive voice so I don’t appear as whiny as I really am.
Tires are on order. Two more than we need for now, but the extra two can go on next winter. Driving around in Texas on winter tires will take care of any surplus tread on the older two.
Enough of that. Got to go and shovel snow.
Back from shovelling. And touch-up snow blowing. And sorting tools for travelling. And stowing tires. And gassing up and putting away the snow blower until we return in the spring to deal with what is left of the winter’s accumulated snow.
We went caroling with some other church members on Sunday, the eighteenth, then retired to the church for a pot luck and a bit of a Christmas program. The little kids in the manger scene were as Juanita would say, “adorable”.
Thursday we’ll winterize the water lines and finalize what will go south for clothes. The Edmonton clan is due to arrive Thursday as well. Probably not much updating on here after that until we settle in down south.
We met up with the family at church with our daughters, their husbands all their kids and us taking up two rows. I couldn’t help getting misty during the time we were to be thinking about our blessings. Just to think this all came from Juanita not knowing enough not to say yes when that bearded Canuck flew to Tucson to meet her and drag her to the frozen north. I’m so blessed.
Back to Deborah and Ernie’s home to open gifts, visit and eat too much like people do at Christmas. Home a few times to stoke up the wood stove. Did a bit of packing before bedtime.
December 26 - Meadow Lake, SK to Moosomin, SK
Up early to finish the packing that could no longer be put off. The waterlines had already been drained of water and filled with RV antifreeze. All that was left was to fill the plumbing traps with antifreeze.
We locked the gate and rolled onto the grid road at 9:45. Grandma was right. Procrastination is the thief of time. At this time of year we lost less than an hour of daylight. Road conditions were good for the time of the year and that we had had a dump of snow two days ago.
We stopped for coffee and a bathroom break at North Battleford’s McDonald’s and for gas at Hanley, south of Saskatoon. Saskatoon roads were icy but the highway outside the city were mostly clear other than blowing snow. Larry and Stephanie Carlson met us for coffee in Regina. Armed with the visit and a bag of road food from Stephanie we carried onto Moosomin, Saskatchewan almost at the border to Manitoba.
We drove through town past the Shell we were looking for than doubled back to find it with more success and to fill up with fuel. Arriving at the Motel 6 about 8 we settled in and went online to change the reservations for tomorrow night from Grand Forks, ND to Fargo, ND. In the back of our minds is that we might even make it to Watertown, SD. We have up to 6 pm tomorrow to cancel Fargo without penalty. We’ll make that decision around four tomorrow depending on road conditions and how far we get.
Christmas carols were on the playlist for today’s drive. We didn’t get enough of that in the build up for Christmas.
Last month a nephew introduced me to Wordle. It comes online at midnight. Typically, I change the setting on my phone to Halifax or St. John’s so I can play tomorrow’s game before going to sleep. Not today. After a full day’s drive in winter conditions all I wanted was sleep. In the crazy thoughts that came before sleep I thought that you can’t swim in the same river twice applies to driving highways twice. I retired in 2005 and we went south to Oaxaca. On the trip north we turned form the northbound interstate to the west bound interstate at Fargo. It was so rough that we turned back and carried on home north through Winnipeg. Forever since that freeway is frozen in my mind as a horror show. It was so bad it probably got repaved soon after our experience. After seventeen years it probably needs repair again. Who knows. Chances are we will never find out. My mind says, “dragons dwell there!”
December 27 - Moosomin, SK to Fargo, ND
We left Moosomin at 7:04 and drove into Manitoba in darkness on mostly clear roads. The stop in Portage La Prairie took a bit longer than planned with the detours required to get into town coming from the west with the ramp closed for revamping. Winnipeg was the last chance for a Shell fuel stop to gain bonus air miles. So close. Needed 30 liters minimum. 28.5.
After lunch at a McDonald’s curbside we turned south to the border. Online it says 80 minutes wait for cars and no wait for trucks. That was optimistic. The traffic to the border was stopped when we got close and it didn’t move for a long time. I eventually abandoned Juanita and walked to the Canadian border buildings to use the washroom. By the time I came out the traffic was moving again, but Juanita had not made it past the spot.
There comes a time when the one line splits into several. We choose one and it looked like the one we chose was a not the best choice. The guy was taking up to five minutes to process each car while our neighbouring lines were getting though in a minute or two. When we got closer there was a shift change. Traditionally one didn’t want a woman customs agent, but the woman who replaced the slow guy was intent on processing the backlog. When it was our turn. “Where do you live?” “Both of you?” Where are you going?” “For how long?” “Have a nice day.”
We lost our phone data access at the border unless we wanted to pay a lot. If we wanted to change reservations, we would need to find a wi-fi connection. That would take time. No changes to be made until we were ensconced in a hotel room for the night. No Watertown for us tonight.
The roads in North Dakota were terrible at times. We arrived in Fargo at five and checked into our hotel after experiencing rush hour in the slush and dark.
I went out and picked up supper and brought it back to the hotel. On the way back I managed to hand out some curved illusion tracts in Spanish to the migrant workers hanging out in the hallway of the one-star hotel. Time to go on-line. An existing booking for York, NE for tomorrow night has until 6 tomorrow to cancel. We can decide that tomorrow. We made a booking for Salina for tomorrow with a chance to cancel until 2 pm tomorrow. We cancelled the booking for Dallas for the 29th and made one for New Braunfels in its place.
December 28 - Fargo, ND to Salina, KS
Breakfast at a drive through.
On the road at 6:30. The roads were dodgy. Mostly clear but alarming patches of packed snow coming out from under overpasses. Random slippery sections. As we got into South Dakota the roads were likewise mostly clear but with multiple vehicles off into the snow drifts. These were both legacies of the storm and events that had just happened with state troopers and tow trucks attending.
If passing a slower car you might think the fast lane is clear and then there you are headed at snow drifted into the lane and you have to tough it out since now you are committed with a car beside you in the slow lane. Once the roads cleared up and the temperature warmed to close to freezing any ice became more slippery than it had been when colder. The ruts in the well-travelled slow lane had filled with ice. Try to push above 55mph/88km/hr and the car would start to rotate. You could drive faster than that in the fast lane but if you had to go back into the slow lane to allow someone who wanted to go faster past you were going too fast to go back into the slow lane. So we turtled along until south third of South Dakota where temperatures were above freezing and we could speed up and even go into cruise control.
We arrived at the motel in Salina at 6:45. I checked with a nearby cell phone store. They were just closing. There were three police cars at the hotel when we arrived. They had taken away a resident and were informed the innkeeper that what he did with the guy’s stuff was up to him.
Asleep by 9. Awake 4:38
December 29 - Salina, KS to New Braunfels, TX
The continental breakfast offered by the hotel was subminiature blueberry muffins. Pass. We picked up breakfast at a drive through, next exit south. We were back n the road, after breakfast, at 6:40. We stopped once to top up gas in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Just down the street from the gas station was a Braum’s. Well, you can’t ignore the first Braum’s you’ve seen in a year…
After our ice cream cones we were back on the road until Ardmore for a lunch stop inside McDonald’s to use their wi-fi. Every time we go through Ardmore I mean to checkout some historic buildings some brochure said are worth seeing. It wasn’t apparent on Google maps where the buildings were in town. Back on the road.
Traffic was heavy through Dallas. We came to a choice of a toll express lane. We took it. With hands free calling I checked in with Harris County that our toll app for Houston covered us. Also corrected the state designation from AA to a Canadian tag. I have used this app for over a year with no charges which is suspicious. Later at the hotel room I noticed they had updated the state designation of license plate to AB for Alberta. Another call is in order. But during office hours. Tomorrow is future Homer’s problem.
South of Dallas and back on regular interstate roads we started seeing signs of so many signs to Buc-ees. Not only is Buc-ees worth a visit I noticed last night that Buc-ees was just a couple of miles from tonight’s hotel. When we arrived at Buc-ees. I was encouraged. It was still light out and here we were almost done for the day. Our hotel is just an exit away.
Back in the car. I said we’re almost done for the day. Juanita did her wifely duty of pointing out my illusion. We have Austin to do before we sleep. Oh.
After a stop next to a nearby Starbucks to sign up for their newsletter in return for free wifi I downloaded the google maps directions. Another drive through and we followed the directions to our hotel in the dark on confusing highways and toll roads around Austin. As its obedient servant I got us to our hotel in New Braunfels at 7:40.
December 30 - New Braunfels, TX to Harlingen, TX
After another drive through breakfast, we had the choice of following interstates to and through San Antonio or save forty minutes on a mix of secondary roads to hook up with the interstate to Corpus Christi. Let’s see. A couple of hours of two lane roads in the dark facing oncoming headlights. If Mr. Google gets grumpy without live data we will revert to an old road atlas and trying to find highway route markers. I memorize the list of interstates and off we go into the dark on known roads. Rush hour starts early here. Sure glad we are not towing. We make it past the ill labelled I410 junction without falling into its trap of going the wrong way around San Antonio going instead a few miles further to the right one that took us to the highway towards Corpus Christi.
Traffic settled into a calm pattern and after a gas stop in Mathis we followed familiar roads to Way of the Cross Training Center by mid morning.
Hellos and hugs all around. Then a walk through and a bit of cleaning of the motor home that Salomon Trejo has graciously loaned us. I set the fridge to run on electricity. No obvious chilling right away but I leave it set to electric in hopes that St. Icicleus will soon be there.
The living room slide is extended to almost touch a utility post. The propane tank is behind the compartment door that is tight to the post. I try to bring in slide. It moves a few inches and stops. Theresa phones Ben. Need to start engine to run the hydraulics to bring the slide. Find keys. Start engine. Bring in slide. Shut off engine. Leave slide in for propane guy.
We head into town for lunch and shopping for supplies. While there I checked out the price of small fridges.
Back at the training center, Theresa called the propane company about whether they were going to show up to deliver propane as promised. The nudge worked. We now had a full tank of propane. Meanwhile the fridge had time to cool on electric power. Back to the stores for groceries that needed fridge storage. While out we had supper. The last of road food. I have unpacked the scales but feel they need a few days to acclimatize before I assault them with my obviously heavier body.
The night was chilly. Will need to figure out the heating system before the next cold snap.
Distance travelled from Meadow Lake to Harlingen = 4,226 kilometers (2,626 miles)
Total gasoline consumed = 316.1 liters (83.5 US Gallons) costing $C 353.45 ($US 259.60)
Note: We travelled by car due to fuel cost and winter road conditions. Estimated cost of fuel to do the same trip with our truck and fifth wheel trailer = $C 1,800
New Year's Eve
Juanita started to cook breakfast. No gas at stove top. No noise of gas at stove top. Fire up engine. Put in slide. Check gas valve on tank. It’s open. Then there is a regulator and a solenoid valve. Bang on solenoid valve like a process operator would. Still no hiss. No joy. Go on internet. Learn something. Turn on propane detector near floor of kitchen. It’s happy. Solenoid valve is happy. Stove lights after the air is bled out of the line. About five matches worth of trying. Turn on water heater. After five or six tries it has the air bled out of its propane line, too and we have hot water. Things are looking up.
No power on one side of the coach. Look for breaker panel. No joy finding that but resetting the GFCI breaker next to the bathroom sink does the trick. I will find the breaker panel next year.
I noticed the neighbour has a lawn mower. I ask if I can use it. Sure, but it didn’t run very well last time I used it and it has old gas in it and somebody stole the gas can. I pull spark plug from engine. Looks sad. I add a spark plug and a gas can to the list.
We carry on the day with shopping and settling in.
I dropped Juanita at the laundromat and went and got the car washed. Then we had the oil changed. They mentioned there must be an anti-freeze leak. They had to top up the reservoir. No obvious leaks but it must be going somewhere and there is a strong smell of antifreeze. Something to watch. We renewed our Sam’s Club membership and had a hot dog combo each before carrying on with other errands.
Back home I tried a new plug and new gas in the lawn mower. It fired up, ran rough for a while then did just fine on the jungle on the west of the coach. The lawn on the east was already okay. Theresa had run over it with the riding lawn mower before we got here. The west side is not riding lawn mower accessible.
We attended the New Year’s Eve annual great chilli cook off. Some year’s I participate as a cook. Last year I was a judge. This year I was one of the judges. My favorite was the clam chowder, but it lost a point from me for not really being chili and I was only one of the judges. The other judges were Texans so they all gave the ghost pepper chili a higher rating than I did.
It gets dark early so fireworks were early. The party adjourned before nine. Early to bed for us. We fell asleep to the sounds of people shooting their money into the air. I texted a few Happy New Year messages and got a few admonishments for being early. Oh well. It was New Year somewhere.