After the February SOWER project ended we focussed on getting the rig ready to roll after months of sitting there. We sorted stuff for the trip north. For example, I spent most of one morning scrubbing a few years of accumulated grime from the awning. We hardly ever use it since it is often too windy in the south and too many mosquitoes in the north. It took a week of waiting to have a day calm enough to open the awning (first time in two years) and by the end of the morning it was a race between getting it dry enough to roll back up and the winds developing enough strength to damage something. Still the results were good and I appreciated being able to do the job where there was ample water and sun to do the job.
We also helped prepare the Way of the Crosstraining center for Mary Butler's wedding, and for a large youth group from Houston coming for spring break and finished off some loose ends of other items we felt responsible for doing.
One break we took from working was to visit the Museum of South Texas History on a Saturday morning when there is free admission (except during special events). It was an enjoyable couple of hours. We combined the travel to Edinburg with a side trip south to Nuevo Progreso across the border to close out our Mexican tourist visas.
Mary & Joseph's Wedding
Ben and Jeanne Butler's daughter, Mary, and Joseph Lopez were married outside at the Cross at the Way of Cross training center. Ben Butler conducted the ceremony. We were privileged to attend the wedding and the reception that followed.
The Trip North
Our trip north was uneventful.
We spent two nights at a Passport AmericaRV park in Mathis, getting the scheduled service of the transmission done at Corpus Christi so we had a record of it being done for warranty purposes. On Saturday we headed north I37 toward San Antonio, skirting the city on 1604 until taking I35 toward Austin and San Antonio, stopping at a Passport America RV park outside of Georgetown for the night. After getting the rig set up we drove back to Austin to visit the LBJ Presidential Library. It was interesting and worth the price (free). Anybody can have their life-work painted in a pretty positive light. Still, it was interesting to see that perspective and the historical displays from the period of his life and presidency.
On Sunday we drove north on I35 and around the west edge of Fort Worth on I35W to stay at an RV park in Guthrie, Oklahoma. After setting up the rig we drove back toward Oklahoma City to a bigger center that had a Lowe's to buy a few things for the rig and have supper at a Steak and Shake - a new experience for me. It was okay. By the time we got back to Guthrie it was dark but we drove around town anyway. It has many square blocks of old, Victorian style buildings. I guess what happened was that it was the territorial capitol and then, for a few years, the state capitol so it got quite built up. Then the state seal was stolen and moved to OK City which became the new state capitol. Growth stopped in Guthrie so there were not ongoing waves of progress to affect the core of town. It sits there like it was a hundred years ago.
Midday the next day we moved to an RV park just into Kansas (last free exit) and pretty much hung around the rig except to drive once about twenty miles to a town where our cell phone provider had a footprint so we could call home. After a couple of days there we winterized the rig (drained all the water and tanks, filled the water lines with RV antifreeze and defrosted and shut off the fridge) and then headed north. We had planned on staying at a Flying J truck stop just West of Omaha, but it was still pretty early and their pumps didn't have power "for twenty minutes" due to doing some tie-ins so we bought a couple of slices of pizza and waited in one of the RV parking spots. The power came back on, but all the equipment was still around the RV lanes and the RV parking spots were shorter than our overall length enough that I really didn't want to sleep there and have people pulling around us all night. We left there and tried a new (to us) way around Omaha going miles north on secondary roads and then crossing the river into Iowa at Missouri Valley, Iowa. We bought fuel there at a station we have used before when staying a Little Sioux, then carried on north on I29 until we were even with the highway to Vermillion and Yankton, South Dakota and went to the Walmart in Vermillion and stayed the night next to a snow bank in their parking lot.
The next day we carried on back up I29 and stopped for fuel at Sioux Falls, Fargo and Grand Forks. They were calling for volunteers to fill sandbags in Fargo for the annual floods. I guess that is the issue when you build on flood plains. Kinda goes with having rich soil, too.
We didn't need much fuel at Grand Forks, but it was a truck stop we have used for overnighting before and we considered staying there for the night.
The weather forecast was for freezing rain in the morning and it was still light so we elected to carry on north toward the border, updated the US cell phone voice mailbox message and got back on the highway. We exited at one point where the state line was close and drove through a mile of ugly construction and crossed over the Red River into Minnesota a few miles before returning to North Dakota. I can now include Minnesota in our list of states we have been in with our fifth wheel. Juanita is long suffering.
On the way to the border we ate our last two apples and then stopped at the last rest stop and froze our fingers peeling and eating the last grapefruit. I don't think Canada cares about citrus, but why test the theory? They definitely care about apples, of course, since there are apples grown in Canada.
We crossed the border and listed the totals of our expenditures for the winter to the customs agent. The total amount was under the dutiable limits except for the transmission repair which is classed as an emergency repair. He agreed that it was an emergency repair and commiserated with our misfortune and waved us through. We had been concerned that we would have to pay GST on that to the tune of about $350.
We carried on to take the ring road around Winnipeg and stopped at the west side Flying J for diesel. We considered parking there for the night but carried on to the Walmart parking lot in Portage La Prairie about fifty miles to the west. I had left a vent open so the rig was well below freezing inside. We turned on the furnace and headed in to the Walmart to make a couple of purchases and eat at their McDonalds before they closed at ten. We went back to the rig and dressed in several layers of clothes and bedclothes and eventually before we went to sleep turned down the thermostat to fifty degrees F so the furnace could quit running continuously. We slept in a little so we could eat at the McDonald's, but were back on the road at nine. All the rest areas are closed and full of snow and there are limited places to pull off so we carried on to Regina, stopping only once for fuel and a couple of smokies at Broadview.
We got to the campground in Regina and the owner had plowed out two spots for us. We picked one and backed and filled until we were in it okay, put down the stabilizers and out the slides and on the electric heater and furnace. It warmed up pretty quickly and we sorted our stuff for the next day and then Juanita headed to the grocery store for supper stuff.
Saturday we left our rig in the campground in Regina and departed for Yorkton and visited with Nick and Rebekah and Ezekial at Rhein just north of Yorkton. After lunch we drove to Saskatoon and stayed with Weldon and Alice, some friends there. Sunday morning after breakfast we headed north toward Meadow Lake. About an hour out of the city we stopped for fuel. While we were stopped it started raining. When we pulled back onto the highway we slid all over the place and ended up driving the rest of the way at seventy (mostly) and eighty kms per hour (45 - 50 mph). At first a few cars whizzed past us, but it wasn't long until we neither caught up with anybody nor were passed. Normally everybody drives at 120 km or more on that road.
We spent Sunday evening catching up with the grandkids. On Monday we did a few errands and went out to our property. I pulled off a side road across from our driveway and got the truck pretty well stuck and then slogged through thigh deep snow into our property and got a few things we needed for our time in Regina and a shovel to dig out the truck. I took quite a while getting in and out so Juanita had started digging with a piece of plywood we keep for blocking the trailer wheels. It didn't work, but with the shovel I could get at the snow that the truck was high centered on and it idled out of the drift in four wheel drive. Then it was back to town, blast some of the ice and mud off at the wand wash and go get out of my soaked jeans and have a warm shower. Then I went out to the pulp mill and visited with some former co-workers and checked when I could buy another pair of glasses under the health care plan. This year! yeah!
Tuesday morning it was minus 22 Celsius in Meadow Lake. Juanita and I got up early and were on the road to Edmonton by five, stopping for fuel and coffee at Alcurve on the Alberta border. I took some pictures of the sunrise at Alcurve. We got to the union hall about ten and I covered the steps that allow me to legally work at the shutdown next week and then stopped at the head office of my former employer and visited with a few people there before getting back on the road to Meadow Lake. We stopped for lunch in Vegreville and then stopped for some shopping in Lloydminster before heading back to Saskatchewan, picking up fuel and some food at the gas station at Alcurve. We got home to Debbie and Ernie's just before seven as the sun was going down.
March 25 update: Our laptop has been acting flaky so I will go buy some DVD-ram discs to do some back-ups if it will let me and then do our income taxes for last year. Might even get a refund, but would be happy not having to pay. Tonight there is a social for older folks at our home church and we plan to attend that. Friday we head south to Regina again and I start work on Monday, for four or so weeks.