We started the month in Harlingen, Texas and ended it in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan.
This month is long past. Its narrative has lived in a Word document mostly in rough draft form ever since. When I had bandwidth I had more compelling things to do or not do. When I didn't have bandwidth nothing could be transferred.
There's something posted for every day. The narrative is edited up to March 15, After that it is in rough draft or point form. Clean up to follow.
Wednesday, March 1
Today in Chapel, Ben was back from Nicaragua. He talked about the graduation of the missionary training school there and how some graduates would be staying with Way of the Cross after they had met their obligations to their sending churches. He also spoke about plans for opening up the Promised Land for outreach in the area. After chapel Byron and I went to the warehouse with Ben and talked about the work done on the sweeper and the Bob Cat.
I joined Byron back at the motel to help put the railings back on the scissor lift then headed out to the training center. I caulked the doorstep on the motor home. The air compressor that was hooked up last month pulled a vacuum. We surmised that maybe the motor is running backwards. Is there a way to reverse it? Nope. The wires connections needed to flip are buried inside the windings on this motor. That was quick to find out. Putting the end bell back on the motor while the motor was tight against the guard was not so quick, but eventually it failed in its resistance to my efforts.
Checked the motor operation. It still ran despite my prodding.
I climbed on top of the rig and installed the Fantastic fan cover. Then it was back to the warehouse for lunch.
Byron was working with the Bob Cat out back. It ran fine but would quit for lack of fuel periodically. Like a baggy in the tank, but it turned out to be a tight bend in the fuel line. Easy fix. Way easier than a baggy in the tank.
A quick drive to Sam’s for gas. I took the tools out of the truck for our trip to Houston. Juanita did a laundromat run.
We ended the day with a really quiet evening. No fuel left in this tank.
Thursday, March 2
Up early. I cleaned up the narrative for all except one day of February, hit publish and turned to more important matters. We were packed, loaded and on our way to Houston by just after eight.
We drove the backroads to Raymondville. Drove to Raymondville. Stopping at McDonalds. I torqued the wheel lugs, used the bathroom and joined Juanita to wait near the pickup counter. I asked the associate? Isn’t that what Walmart calls them? Clerk? Member? Anyway, I asked the guy behind the counter if they lost our order. It was just two coffees. Nope. It’s in the system. A guy behind us says we could have bought quicker at the Stripes across the road.
Back on the road. Through the ICE checkpoint. Stop at the rest area. We take turns going in. The guy from McDonald’s, the customer not the member, asks Juanita if the wait was worth it. Well, no, actually. The coffee was full of grounds. He agreed.
Back on the road for a few more hours, stopping at a Shell station near Woodsboro to use the restrooms and buy a couple of sausage kolaches. Those were good kolaches. An hour and a half further down the road we take our chances crossing the divided highway to get to Prasek’s family smokehouse famous for its kolaches. Inside it is huge and crowded. They sell a lot more than kolaches. Huge selection of fillings. We buy some and eat them in the car. They’re okay. Not as good as the gas station in Woodsboro.
In Pearland we stop at our favorite thrift store and spend a lot of time checking it out even after we establish that the stuff we are looking for isn’t there. Then we rush downtown to get to the art car museum before it closes. There is nothing rushing in the Houston rush hour traffic. We get to the museum before its nominal closing time only to read the sign that says it is open for viewing by appointment only. We are planning our next moves when we get a text from nephew Tracy. We reply that we are headed his way after we eat. He counters with he has ordered Chinese delivery.
We go to his house.
After our evening visit we go to sleep to the sound of heavy rains and winds.
Friday, March 3
We head out to our car early to leave to meet a SOWER couple for breakfast.
The heavy winds had knocked a branch off. There are a couple of divots in the hood. The hood I had repaired shortly before we came south. We pick the branch and its pieces off the hood. I take pictures. Maybe insurance will cover it. Fortunately, the windshield is not damaged.
We meet up with our SOWER friends at the original Kelley’s Country Cooking restaurant just off I45. The neighbourhood has deteriorated since their founding. Bars and big locks on all the area businesses. Businesses that signal a rough area. The food is good and the creatures don’t seem to be out in the daylight. Wouldn’t go there after dark.
We said goodbye to our friends and waddle to our car. On our way to visit Juanita’s sister and brother-in-law we try to order personal business cards. We are almost out. Also, we are retiring our “winter” number. Cell phone plans change. It’s cheaper to have one phone year-round. The shop takes all my information then says their cutting machine is in pieces. A serviceman took it apart and said he’d be back with the parts. Haven’t seen him since. No telling when he will be back. No telling how long it will take to print your cards.
We visit with Ninabeth and Gary at their home then head out for lunch at La Casita. After lunch and more visiting we drove to Hitchcock and visited with a couple retired from SOWERS but who still come south to help a ministry. After that brief but good visit we drove north across Houston back to Tracy and Margarita’s and visit late into the night. Tracy ordered pizza from the restaurant on the corner. I went to pick it up and can’t find the pizza counter. The place is more a bar than a restaurant. I stand at the bar and visit with the owner while the pizza is cooked. A few curved illusion tracts may have been handed out to the patrons 😊.
Saturday, March 4
We sat around visiting with Tracy and Margarita after breakfast. I phoned around to a few job shops about business cards. No quick turnarounds here. I guess we’ll do something in the valley. I looked up an address in Harlingen before we came south but we haven’t quite run out of the old cards. We are running out of time to get new cards before going north. I could just cross out the retired number if we had cards, but we don’t. Most SOWERS have business cards with their contact details. I heard of one frugal widowed SOWER who remarried. How frugal was he? He stroked out his dead wife’s name and inked in his new wife’s.
We did a run to a nearby Harbor Freight. While out we picked up a couple of Frosties at a Wendy’s. Back at T&M’s we walked around the golf course their property backs onto. It never re-opened after Hurricane Harvey. There is talk of subdividing it and building houses. You can guess how popular this whole situation is with people who bought property backing onto a golf course.
We went to Amadeo’s restaurant in honour of Margarita’s birthday. Maybe we will diet next week. No promises.
Sunday, March 5
Bidding Tracy and Margarita goodbye we head south across Houston to have breakfast with Tracy’s sister, Karen. After good food and a long visit, we drove back to Harlingen. With one stop at Buc-ees for lunch we got home tired at about five p.m. Along the way I realized I no longer had my hat from Fox River, Ireland. I texted Karen. It was safe with her. She’ll drop it by Ninabeth’s.
After supper we went out to buy groceries. It was a struggle to stay awake for the evening. My body wanted to go to bed. My mind knew that if I listened to my body it would betray me and I’d be wide awake at 3 a.m. So, we had an earlyish bedtime but not too early.
Monday, March 6
After chapel, Byron replaced a piece of gas line on the floor sweeper with me holding the light or some other minor assistance. He went for pressure washer fittings. I left for the motel. I diagnosed one washing machine and e-mailed Theresa to order the part.
Juanita and I went out to the training center to pick up the laundry. When you live out of a suitcase you have limited clothes and must adjust your routine if you skip a Saturday laundry day for a trip to Houston. I left her at the laundromat and went down the street to get the car’s oil changed. We’ve been here two oil changes. Must be time to go north.
I tried paying for the oil change with a credit card. Twice. It was declined. I tried a different credit card. Declined. That’s strange. I paid with cash. As I arrived at the motel I got a message from one of the credit card companies about being charged for the oil change “outside the country”. I call their toll free number and put them on speaker while I bail out a washing machine full of water. Eventually I talk to a person. He said the charge is pending and if it doesn’t disappear in three or four business days and becomes a charge to file a dispute. Do I have a receipt for paying cash? I do. Make sure you keep it. I take a picture and file the receipt in the seat back folder with all the other car receipts from the last five years.
The washing machine is bailed. I leave the floor to dry and pick up Juanita at the laundromat. Back we go to the warehouse. The team from Tennessee has arrived. They are a bunch of high schoolers on spring break with their chaperones. Another team from the same school was here last year. We eat lunch. Byron has added some stairs at the back of his shop area in the warehouse. We use them to go to check out the clearing he has done with the Bob Cat.
We head home by way of Sam’s Club for gas, eggs, and some groceries. Once there Juanita heads to the training center kitchen to help cook supper for the team. I settle in to watch Jeopardy but end up going out to the highway to pick up ice for the drinks’ cooler.
Tuesday, March 7
On the way to chapel the next morning I hit the wash button repeatedly until the windshield washer fluid reservoir light comes on on the dash. There. All the valley temperature washer fluid is gone. I can top it up with some of the -45 C fluid we brought with us. Byron tells of his trip to Iowa in the winter. His vehicle’s washer reservoir froze and stayed that way until they were back in Texas.
The supply line for the propane for the training center kitchen has small leaks at the crimp on hose fittings. I replace that hose before going for lunch back at the warehouse. After lunch Byron drives a ministry van full of TN team members. I follow with the overflow in the ministry truck. We go to the beach. The team hits the sand and water. Byron goes off to do radio stuff. I walk the beach to the harbor statue and back handing out curved illusion tracts.
In a couple of hours, the kids are beached out.
We take the bridge from South Padre Island and stop for supper overlooking the water in Port Isabel. After supper the kids disappear onto the docks while the meal is being paid for. Byron had contacted a friend to chair the weekly meeting it was his turn to chair on radio. It wasn’t looking promising for him to make it on time. It turns out he could have chaired the meeting. He attends the meeting by radio while the chaperones hunt down kids.
Eventually the cats are collected and herded up the street to an ice cream parlor they saw. It is closed. Byron and I head back to the ice cream parlor next to the restaurant. Nothing appeals. We take a pass. The kids don’t make it back for a while. They have wandered en masse to the lighthouse grounds. But time marches on and the chaperones get them all into the ice cream parlor and they all make their choices and eat their ice cream and it is back into the vans for a drive through the dark back to the training center. I park the truck at the office. Byron parks the van out front. I go to meet him. He is gone. I turn off the dome light and walk through the training center and back to the motor home.
There are cobwebs between the trees. I get some on my face. I wave my arms in front of me to prevent any more hitting my face.
I go into the rig and sit down in the easy chair. It was tiring watching cats being herded. After checking out a news story about Americans kidnapped in Matamoros I think to check with Byron by text. Did Susan pick him up. When we talked at Port Isabel I offered to give him a ride home to the motel. He agreed but said he had to let Susan know she didn’t need to pick him up. When I didn’t see him I assumed she had. Better check my assumption. He was sitting outside in the dark. He thought I was waving at him when I was just clearing cob webs. Drive him home. Back home to easy chair until bedtime.
Wednesday, March 8
The floor is dry around the washing machine. I put the machine on its back. The drain pump is clear of sock like articles but the hose coming out of the pump is twisted. Ah! Success! Problem solved. That’s why its not draining. I untwist the hose and refasten the straps that have pulled loose. The machine back upright and hooked up I start the cycle on small load.
The noise of the filling washing machine is not conducive to my physical needs. It makes them more urgent. I drive next door to the bakery and use their bathroom and make a token reciprocal purchase. Back to the object of my successful troubleshooting. Well, maybe not. The machine is overflowing. I shut the water taps off. I’ll circle back to that failure.
I start working on the Samsung dryer that somebody has labelled “turns but no heat.” The top comes off easily. There is lint everywhere. That can’t be good. However, my immediate problem is that it is not put together like a traditional clothes dryer. I can’t get at the heating element or the overload switches. I can’t see how one would do that.
Time for lunch at the warehouse. Also time to watch a YouTube video or two. I now know how. I picked up my vacuum cleaner on the way back to the motel. Taking the dryer apart I discovered the drive belt was intact but had worn a slot in the idler pulley. There was an inch of lint in the bottom of the dryer. There was a layer of lint on top of the heating element housing. It was dark brown tending to black in places. That’s not good. The overload switches tested okay. The heating element was open circuit. Taking the housing apart the break was obvious. I organized the pieces of dryer until the parts arrived.
I bailed out the Amana washing machine. This water is cleaner than the first time. I watched this time while it filled. It did not stop. I bailed it out again and will circle back.
Back at the warehouse I ordered a pulley, belt and heating element. I borrowed the bow saw Byron had used to cut down some trees out back. While Juanita helped cook for the group, I cut up the log behind the motor home and dragged it to the burn pile.
I watched Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. It was hard to keep my eyes open long enough to do Wordle at 9:30 local time (Midnight in St. John’s).
Thursday, March 9
Juanita is helping at the warehouse, getting ready for tomorrow’s drive through food bank.
Back at the motel, I spent half an hour trying to get control panel off from the Amana washing machine, there’s just two screws. I discovered that it’s not good enough to just loosen them. They have to be out all the way. It’s easy once you know that. I pulled off the tubing to the fill switch. The switch clicks when you blow in it. The ohmmeter shows it changing state. I blew on the sensing line. It blew hard at first then easy. Hopefully that cleared the snot out of the line.
Everything back together. The washing machine filled to the selected level then stopped. But it’s still dead in the water. Timer? No power to the timer.
Somebody has left a van seat outside next to the door to the motel laundry room. I sit in the sun on the van seat reading the circuit drawing. The lid switch would cause this problem. The switch clicks but no state change with ohmmeter. The plastic spring breaks while I’m pulling the switch. At the used appliance store a new switch is $55 and a used on is $15. I test the used switch and pay for it.
Lights! Camera! Action! Well, no lights or camera, but we do have action.
I leave for lunch at the warehouse. The lid switch for the Hotpoint washing machine has arrived.
Back at the motel I remove the built in strainer from the cold-water valve on the Amana. It was plugged solid. I get the rusted self adjusting feet freed to self adjust. In all the back and forth with the machine I failed to remove the drain hose from the drain pipe once. Once is all it took. The pipe popped out of its fitting.
Off to Home Depot to buy some pipe glue. While there I bought some hose washers with built in strainers. I also buy some cheap groove joint pliers at Harbor Freight on the way to pick up Juanita.
Back at the motel Juanita holds the pipe while I reglue and re-strap it. The Amana is good to go. I install the new lid lock/switch on the Hotpoint, start the cycle and we have to leave for Juanita to be on time to help with supper for the group. Byron says he will check on the washing machine.
Friday, March 10
In chapel Linda preached about gossip. Ben preached about gossip.
After chapel I handed out curved illusion tracts to waiting cars. I asked the first vehicle in line what time he arrived to be first in line. He said five a.m.
There were no appliance parts in, but the wall was broken at the loading dock. About a two-foot square hole. I went to the motel and vacuumed out vent lines.
At the training center I sorted tools, loaded my masonry tools and bricks. On the way back to the training center I bought a bag of mortar mix at Home Depot. I staged them inside near the loading dock for use on Monday.
After lunch the idler was in for the dryer but no sign of the heating element. Juanita was done about 1:30. I called about propane; they can’t deliver today but can tomorrow in the morning.
We stopped on the way home to fill our water jugs. After Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune we went to the San Benito Walmart. On the way back from Walmart we went to McDonald’s for hot fudge sundaes. I just can’t understand why my weight keeps trending upward.
Saturday, March 11
Juanita went to the laundromat while I hung around for the arrival of the propane truck. I did a first pass at sorting receipts and purchases for our customs declaration when we head north. Andy was here helping Susan, a non-WOTC missionary based on site. Then he was gone. I had hoped for a visit, but he is at that stage of mourning where he wants to be around people until he soon doesn’t.
I dumped the holding tanks. Juanita was back from the laundromat. Before you knew it, it was noon and we headed out.
We went to the corner Valero, Laredo Taco Company counter for shrimp tacos before heading to the Weslaco Harbor Freight parking lot sale which they hold inside the store. Today was our first time at the Cesar Chavez Road flea market. It is huge with small semi permanent stores rather than rented tables or booths. We didn’t buy anything but handed out curved illusion tracts in English and Spanish. On the homeward leg we went to the DonWes flea market and bought a couple of 7/8” combination wrenches for propane coupler nuts. It bugs me no end to see rounded off fittings from people using the wrong wrenches. None of my business. I know, but it bugs me. There is a house under construction on the easiest route between the motel and the training center. The masonry contractor left a rubble of full, partial and chunks of white brick all over the property. It annoys me every time I drive by. Byron and I were riding together past the site. I am not alone. He is annoyed, too. Funny how our minds work.
At Sam’s we bought gas and frozen yogurt. Of course, it was busy. It is Saturday. I handed out curved illusion tracts while waiting in the food line. Long John Silver’s didn’t have what we expected. I guess the person who runs their TV ads isn’t the person who works the order counter. We did get some seafood resembling food items and ate them. They stayed down. We go to Long John Silver’s about once every five years. Maybe that is too often. Byron said they used to go once a year until they re-evaluated that habit.
Sunday, March 12
Brenda and Daniel from Oklahoma were in chapel this morning. There were here for Big Feed the last two years and came down to help for this week. Linda and Kim were in a car crash this morning. Ben is having problems with a detaching retina so he handed off the preaching to Salomon and the hospital visitation to Michael.
After the service we gave Salomon and Annette a walkthrough of the motor home they have loaned us this winter. Annette had not been inside it before. We showed Salomon a few things we had learned and repaired.
After a quiet afternoon we went early to Logan’s Roadhouse to use the balance left on a Christmas gift card.
Monday, March 13
After chapel, Juanita went to help in the warehouse. I went to start repairing the hole in the wall. My tools and bricks were there but the mortar mix was gone. After we left Friday somebody saw the bag and got permission to take it for use at the motel. Byron goes off to rescue it. Daniel and I set up to do the repair when the mix shows up. By when Byron drops off the mix I have realized we will need more bricks than I had brought. I had under-estimated. I then overestimate and Byron goes off to the training center to get those. When he gets back, we have used almost all of the bricks from before.
When the patch job is done, we clean up and put the tools back in the trunk for return to a red-green rubber maid container that has survived years with only minor loss. In it are tools I don’t want to carry back and forth and hate to see sold at a flea market while the ministry needs money: a handsaw; some clamps; a couple of rubber buckets; masonry tools; and a drywall texture sprayer.
After lunch Daniel and I went to the motel and installed the idler pulley. Not much, but the ball is further down the field. Less than a full down but movement, nevertheless.
Tuesday, March 14
This Tuesday is a pastor giveaway day.
Ministries that have registered with the Way of the Cross have been notified that stuff is being given away by the pallet load and given a general sense of what may be available on a first come first serve basis. Trucks and trailers have already started lining up when we arrive at the warehouse. After chapel they start being loaded. Juanita and Brenda help with that and with setting up the tent for tomorrow’s drive through food bank.
I am somewhat at loose ends waiting on parts from Amazon for stuff on my list. I help Daniel assemble a folding shopping cart that they have brought. It arrived after there was time to assemble so it came south unassembled with them in their van.
The heating element that was promised for next day delivery is still working on next week delivery. Daniel and I went out to the training center garage to look at the air compressor. The old two stage unit is on the floor. The new to the ministry compressor was installed by Russell and Alexander on the old tank with the old motor and the same piping. You may recall it was pulling a vacuum when tested and got hot enough for the air cleaner housing to melt and separate. It has an unknown history. It was sitting under a work bench with a damaged pulley and a ministry member said, “if you aren’t going to use that can we have it?” It has two equal sized cylinders. Hindsight – that should have been a clue.
Daniel and I test the compressor in short bursts. We pull the head of the “second stage” and determine that the second stage cylinder is “backwards”. Obviously, somebody has worked on this before and messed up. We rotate the whole cylinder. I repair and reinstall the air filter that had melted off when the compressor was running “backwards”. Andy drops by and kibbitzes. He hints there are such things as twin cylinder air compressors. The compressor now compresses but still bleeds air from the side of the pressure switch. Time to call it a day.
At home I research.
I learn two things.
A picture of the compressor on the Harbor Freight shows it with two air filters. One on each cylinder. It is a twin cylinder single stage compressor. The cylinders are supposed to work in parallel. The tubing done by Russell and Tony was backwards. What we did will kind of work, but with the two cylinders the same area they second piston will see much heavier forces. Not usually a good idea. The cylinder will have to be rotated back to the way we found it and retubed.
The second thing I learn is that the ¼” tubing going to the pressure switch is for an unloading valve. It is supposed to relieve any pressure on the compressor once it has stopped running so it can restart more easily. If the unloading valve keeps venting after an initial burst, it is a sign the check valve on top of the tank is leaking back.
Enough learning for one day.
Wednesday, March 15
The Ides of March.
After chapel, Juanita, Daniel, and Brenda help at the drive through food bank line. After determining I am not needed there I carry on with the compressor. I pull the check valve. The spring is sideways. The end is crimped on. It can’t be repaired. I buy a new one in town and a tee and a nipple. After some creative pipe fitting the compressor is configured correctly. I fire it up briefly and it starts to pressure up the tank. I ordered a new air filter and a pressure switch.
Today was Daniel and Brenda’s last day. They had planned on being here all week but are headed home to Oklahoma for a family funeral. They had been debating whether to head out this evening and stay somewhere on the way or leave early tomorrow. They have decided to leave tomorrow. We agree to go out for dinner.
While I am showering and changing, I notice a spray of water at the back of the toilet. Our dinner plans are delayed while I try tightening a fitting. Nope. No quick fix. Shut off the water to the motor home and off we go to a marvellous dinner at Las Cazuelas.
After dinner we toured a nearby pawn shop. They had a pair of 3/8” and ½” Swagelok tube benders for a combined price of $180. That’s a bargain, considering that the half inch benders cost way more, new. I can’t find a future use for them in any scenario, so I take a pass.
NOTE: Major editing required beyond this point. Expect some delays!
Thursday, March 16
Chapel – prayer, visit with ben
Go for toilet valve, install, check relief valve for leaks
Home Depot, buy LED lamps
Dollar store glass wipes
Lunch at warehouse
Juanita and I clean lamps
Install 12 leds re-use two. Leaving three working ones left over 5 out of 14 wonder why so dim
Shower, jeopardy, no wheel NCAA ☹
Watch movie, Seraphim on Grit channel
"A brutal, slow-moving drama that unfolds among some great-looking scenery."
Friday, March 17
Food line, get RR tire emptied of beads ( expensive to try things, expensive to get out of circumstances) chauffeur Ben to eye doctor, dryer heating element shows up. Go to install, almost install belt, called to pick up Juanita, open reefer, finish with dryer, go home. Logan’s to use up <$8 on gift card.
Saturday, March 18
Laundry, receipts, veg/read, take Angel for cell phone, clothes, buy a few things at Walmart,
Sunday, March 19
Church, Andy, lunch in Alamo, return ant traps, bit of grocery shopping, water, watch another western movie, Magnificent Seven
Monday, March 20
Work on reefer fuel pump and fuel pump wiring with Russel, add last three bulbs, sort curved illusion cards, do other online cleanup while waiting for postman, look up how to adjust PS, Juanita comes back, home check compressor for additional parts, shuffle a few things but mostly veg, Wheel, jeopardy,
NCIS, bed barely keep eyes open until Wordle time.
Tuesday, March 21
Compressor, blew safety, blew gasket or reed valve and check valve, air filter
Home - fed ducks, vegged. A bit of packing
Wednesday, March 22
Juanita on food line Install switch and light on reefer pump Byron on wifi Out to tc, Take off cyl head plug off cyl 1 set up pressure switch Lunch Buy gasket material Scrape off old gaskets Make new gasket Install Run one cycle Pickup Juanita Glue air filter More packing Veg watch wheel jeopardy Kill emails
Thursday, March 23
Up really early, continue filling out narrative from (almost) daily notes.
At chapel Ben announced he and Theresa were off to Austin, the state capital for paperwork to do with the Nicaragua ministry. Oscar preached on the world’s view and God’s view of success. His message jumped off from Acts 17. The attendees of Thessalonica’s synagogue were hostile to the contradiction of their model of success. Later, Demos leaving Paul for the “world” goes to Thessalonica. After chapel there was cake for our going away.
Juanita stayed to help get things ready for the food bank drive through tomorrow. I went out to the training center and pulled the new check valve from the air compressor. It was being held open with a couple of chunks of black stuff. Probably from the failed air filter housing. Time will tell if there is more. New filters are on order. I cycled the air compressor. It held pressure pretty well for the rest of the day.
I sorted tools for those staying and those returning to Canada and emptied and vacuumed the car trunk.
Back at the warehouse for lunch with Juanita. I helped Byron a bit with installation of a water separator and strainer on the fuel system for the reefer then it was time for goodbyes. We dropped off the toolboxes at the motel. Juanita went to the laundromat. I cleaned mirrors and carried on packing. When she was back, she went to visit a friend on campus for a while. Then we emptied the fridge, finished using the vacuum cleaner and dropped those off at the motel.
After supper we loaded as much as possible into the car. We’ll load the bags tomorrow morning. I took the car to the car wash before calling it a day and topped up with overpriced gas on the way home. It’s not worth the time and fuel to drive across town to save thirty cents a gallon at Sam’s for a quarter tank of gas.
Friday, March 24
I was up early and puttered at the keyboard cleaning up the month’s narrative. Juanita was awake and up before the alarm at six. Once she was up I carried on moving stuff forward in the motor home, checking drawers and closets and cleaning countertops as I went. Once it was all into the living room I dumped the holding tanks. Juanita made several trips to add stuff to the burn pile.
The bulk of car trunk Tetris was played last night, but the final moves are the most challenging. In addition to the stuff we brought south and are taking back there is the stuff we bought here and are taking home. Not to mention the purchases shipped to us by family members to bring back to Canada and the stuff we are taking to Family in Houston. Most everything fit in the trunk, including our winter jackets. The overflow went into the backseat; our carry-on bags that will go into the motels every night and snacks for the trip.
After a few more goodbyes and hugs we were on the road to Houston at 8:08. It was an easy decision to skip the laggardly McDonald’s in Raymondville. Going through the checkpoint coming out of the valley went quickly. The usual transactional conversation of: “American citizens?” answered by “Canadian and American” answered by, “Have a nice day”. We drive off pondering do they think we are both both or one of each or does it matter to them at all. North American privilege? Citizenship lottery winners?
We stopped for our last breakfast tacos at the Valero in XXXX
Mexicans predominate, Spanish for ordereing, Mexican style bathrooms but good tacos
Love’s/Mcd’s past Corpus Christie for bathroom
Another bathroom near Edna
Golden Chick in Wharton. Suseptible to TV ads. Living in bubble
Decide on Bay City route to Galveston, not as roundabout as island, but a bit more time than freeway. Less frenetic, too
McD’s in Galveston
El Pollo Loco, More Tv ads
To hotel in dark
Get settled in.
Saturday, March 25
Awake at 3:00 a.m. try to go back to sleep by listening to coffee with Scott Adams. That does the trick in the evening but not having slept out at 3 a.m. Eventually I get up and keyboard until Juanita wakes up and we go for breakfast. After breakfast I try for a nap and succeed somewhat. Around ten we arrive at her sister’s place and visit until 1. Here sister is under the waeatehr and needs some rest. We go away until 4. We buy gas at Costco then have a 3 course meal at Costco. Try-me appetizers (smoked salmon, raman noodle soup, a few kinds of drivk, chicken salad ina tortilla. Yogurt puffs. Etc), All beef hot dogs for the main course and frozen mocha for dessert. Living the high life!
WE walked through a Big Lots and a Northern Tools and it was time to head back. The freeway was doing a good simulation of a parking lot so we did all of the above on surface streets.
After our late afternoon vist we went out for dinner at Kelley’s and bought a couple of items at Family Dollar. ON the way back to the motel we spent the last of our Texas Roadhouse Christmas gift card toward a to-go dessert.
Back at the hotel we surfed a bit and organized things for an early start tomorrow.
Sunday, March 26 - Webster, TX to Topeka, KS
Awake at 4, dressed and ready keyboarded, alarm went at 5 woke Juanita On the road before 6, coffee and frozen kolaches, Thawed by other side of Houston Fair bit of traffic but moving well Rest areas before Buc-ees near Denton Bought gas there Clean restrooms high priced food Zoo OK border Stop at McD’ss for iced coffees & wifi Braums for ice cream KS Service area for bathrooms and wifi made reservations (decided no advantage to going north of Topeka. Service area on 335 for gas and bathroom walked to McD closed for “Due to a remodle “ (sic) 3 when bailed, 3 more when went back. Tesla in limp mode with flashing lights Drove to motel lost gps navigauef by memory of Google map. Owned by Patel Arby’s Sorted receipts and totalled. Laid out tomorrow’s clothes. Did reading and Wordle.
Monday, March 27 - Topeka, KS to Portage la Prairie, MB
Woke up looked at watch 4:58 Up Shower not work 😮 Get dressed Juanita awake 5:20ish McD open at 5;30 On road close to six Stop at McD doors locked but drive thru open Hwy 71 4 lane divided to first bid town then 2 lane Okay Weird detour to avoid construction Followed signage for long detour around council bluffs Stop for gas and pizza at Sioux Falls Summit fir bathroom break Stop for gas at …. between Fargo and Grand Forks Border crossing car in front switched lines just before we got there probably regretted Stopped at travel Center pocked hotel Long day but capable. Route choice bad choices. Just abt all could handle Need to make sure gets sleep and food Tim’s no croissants no wraps pick a turkey club Pleasant older motel Eat Reading Wordle Sleep
Tuesday, March 28 - Portage la Prairie, MB to Saskatoon, SK
Slept late. Whole point of pushing past Winnipeg last night. Could get up early and push hard and get home near sunset and then clear driveway. Plan is to have easy drive today and three hour drive on Wednesday and lots of energy and daylight to get settled back in at home.
Took time getting on road, organized down to one bag and computer bag each for next hotel. Don’t need both warm and cold clothes. Just brr clothes.
Out the door at 10.
Drive through breakfast. Eat it in car dealer lot next to 80k SUV’s.
Made right choice about getting across border yesterday. It is snowing hard in Fargo this morning. The roads here are clean and dry. Just like they were in Fargo yesterday.
My guess is that will end up in Saskatoon around five or six depending how often we stop. And we stop: Brandon for McD’s bathroom; Verdun for lunch at a Tim’s drive through; Moosimin for bathroom, to buy water and get a receipt to submit for travel insurance refund; Regina Costco to walk around and around to get some steps in; gas in Regina. Final push to Saskatoon.
Get settled in room. Costco for a couple of purchases and pizza. Starbucks to buy a gift card.
Early to bed. Hold off going to sleep awhile, Wordle, plus don’t want to wake up at 3. Do wake up at 4:30.
Wednesday, March 29 - Saskatoon, SK to Meadow Lake, SK
Cold overnight, car not plugged in. hot happy starting, Check engine light came on
Coffee with Sonja
Drove to North B
Car to dealer, loaner car,
Home by 1:30
Shovelled and blew until had parking
Juanita went to town, came back, ferried stuff into house with a sled.
Snow blower works fine in undisturbed snow. Not well in deer trails or hump from snow plow.
By supper time we had a place to park. After supper drove the loaner car over to Debbie and Ernie’s to pick up the truck and bring it home to park in one of the cleared areas.
Thursday, March 30 - Meadow Lake to North Battleford & Back
Drove to NB car dealer to return loaner and pick up car,
Juanita a little surprised I didn’t come back with a new or used Tucson. Me too. I guess I played it too cool as did the car dealer. I didn’t want to seem too eager and they don’t have much inventory or killer instinct. Looks like they may end up being the servicing dealer of our next purchase. Also, not knowing what I was trading against or how soon they low balled the trade in value on our car. If that is the best I can do we’ll probably drive it another 50,000 kilometers while we build up a car purchase account.
Back home I fired up the snowblower to work at snow clearing. I wrestled it to the top of the driveway. The muscles used yesterday declared they were not ready for round two. Too soon. I took the snowblower back to the shed and contented myself with widening the top of the driveway with shovel work. Different muscles. It wasn’t long before my jacket and hat were hanging on one shovel while used the other. The neighbour drove up in their new Buick SUV. The second event of shipping their Mercedes to Saskatoon on a trailer was the cure on imported cars with no local service available. It didn’t take long of standing and visiting for me to need the jacket and hat. Not tee shirt weather unless working hard in the sun.
I quit shovelling around four and showered before supper. After supper we went to a dessert fund raiser at the Christian School. Debbie and Ernie were there, having arrived back in Edmonton this morning from their Barbados cruise. The four of use stood out from the other pale faces who have been here all winter.
Thursday, March 31
Called EI and informed them I was back in the country. Got an agent first try. Not on hold at all. I was told to submit my next report and all will go well. We’ll see. They said the same last year and I didn’t see any money from them until late July or early August. I don’t know what people who have no cushion do if they desperately have to rely on EI payments between jobs.
Muscles under less protest but not outright revolt like yesterday allowed me to clear some snow around the loop and then drag a piece of railway rail around behind the truck half a dozen times. Looks prettier. More smooth. Snow blower hangs up ice from deer trails less often.