Friday, December 31, 2010

Off to California

We fly out of Dulles International today at 4 pm, landing in LAX at about 6:45 PST. We will be in Oceanside for about 3 months then it is back to Ontario to do our obligatory 6 months and 1 day residency to maintain our health insurance. California here we come!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Blogging from Maryland

We drove down to my sister's house in Maryland today, expecting snow and ice and bad driving conditions, but not getting anything bad! It was a great drive. The roads were dry and there was no snow and ice! Got to the house but we could not get in because we could not find the key. After breaking in through the basement doors, a neighbour was most helpful and came over and the key was found where it had fallen off the lintel. We are now inside, supper (chicken from Walmart and whole wheat rolls) is eaten and I am now doing a load of washing. We fly out of Dulles on Friday afternoon and get into LAX that evening. We will be in Oceanside, San Diego county for about 3 months then we reverse the trip at the end of March and go home for the summer.

Virginia is doing a lot better and hopefully we will see her get most of her incredible strength and love of life back. She is going to live each day to the fullest.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


We are now in Toronto. The house we are in is an old Victorian Semi. It has been beautifully restored. We are cat sitting 2 cats. Don't know what their names are. We are just less than a kilometer from our son's house. He is away, sailing in Honduras (Roatan). Our daughter lives in the top 2 floors of his house. Greg's house is an old Edwardian Semi. This is perfect because we can  see our daughter and our grandkids every day yet not be on top of them.

Tomorrow we take the Seneca back to the dealership as we have discovered a leak in the front cab over compartment. Michael took the  large CRT TV out of the space and we will put an LCD in there as soon as we find the time to settle down and do things. I wonder if they will have a check for us, as they have sold our Regal.

We managed to set off the house alarm today. I was able to reassure the alarm company that we were legit, even the police came round and took Michael's information. Very quick response.

There is not nearly as much snow here as there was in London. For that we are very thankful.

I spoke to my American Mom today and she is feeling much better. My sister is still there. Her family arrive this evening and they will be there for Christmas. We will arrive there on New Years Eve. Our trip South will begin on December 28th, depending on the weather. We fly out of Dulles on December 31st.

We have decided to go down by car as it will work out much cheaper and quicker. I am a little sad that we won't be using the RV, but we do have to be practical.

Moving Day

Today we move from the house in London, Ontario where we have been cat sitting to a house in Toronto close to our daughter and family. We will be cat sitting there too!

We have some stuff to attend to before we head South for 3 months. We have a big decision to make. Do we take the RV down, staying at Truck stops on the way, or do we drive down in the car?

RV vs Car Prize Fight:

RV sleep at Truck Stops. Car sleep in motel ($$$).
RV 3 days. Car 2 days.
RV lots of Diesel ($$$) Car much less gas ($).
RV lots of space to carry stuff down. Car little space to carry anything.
RV can buy stuff in the US to bring back ($$$). Car $.

I think the car wins! Now to recalibrate my brain.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

More news from California

It is not good. It seems that my dear American Mom may have bowel cancer. She is unable to eat anything and feels so weak and ill.  We have brought our travel date forward by a week and will fly out of Dulles on December 31st instead of the 7th.

I have arranged for someone to come in and see to the cat about every 3 days until Belinda comes home. We will still be driving down to Maryland and leaving the RV at Patricia's house. We still have to find somewhere to park the car for 3 months.

Changing the airplane tickets was very traumatic and now my credit card has an extra charge of about $1000 on it. Painful but necessary.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

News from California

News came from California this morning that Virginia is in hospital with pancreatitis. We are unable to leave at the moment so my sister, Patricia is flying out to California to be with her. She will be be there for 2 weeks, then we will see if I need to fly over to relieve her. Virginia said this morning that she is going to have surgery. I hope that she can handle the surgery at her age. At this time playing it by ear as to when I will go down.

Thursday: I just spoke to Virginia and she sounds much better. She is on a ton of antibiotics again and will not have the surgery until the infection in her pancreas has resolved. Patricia should be there soon for family support. I am very happy about that!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

London and SNOW!

We have been in London for a week and it has snowed every day! We arrived here on December 9th, having been delayed by a day because of a very bad multi-vehicle crash on Highway 401. The cat didn't care, she had food, water and a warm bed. We got ourselves settled, made up our bed and hunkered down. It has pretty much not stopped snowing for 7 days. It is just awful outside, difficult to get around, messy and slippery. I am very nervous about the trip down to Maryland in the RV in January. I hope that it stops snowing soon. They are also having some lake effect snow over on Highway 81 in Upstate New York as well.

Looking down the road. When we arrived at the house there was no snow on the ground.

The day we arrived Michael had to shovel the driveway before he could the car into the driveway.

The deck at the back of the house

Sunset over the roofs

Michael shovels the front pathway

Getting some help from Yvonne, a friend who stayed overnight as she could not get home

This is Milo, our ward.
Here are some pictures of the cat and the snow around the area where we are house and cat sitting.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Eleven days at Milton Heights

Our eleven days at Milton were very pleasant. It was cold, but we had very little snow.

The day we arrived at Milton
Site E 4
We rented a 100 lb propane cylinder for the furnace and hoped that it would last for the 11 days. It didn't. We switched over to the Seneca's tank on about day 8 and we tried to eke out the propane so that we would not have to pull up stakes and go and fill the tank. We were so frugal with the propane that we actually froze up one night. Luckily just the fresh water tank froze and for a short while we were unable to pump water. Luckily I had read that you could put a small ceramic heater into the basement storage area to heat up the underbelly, which is what we did and we were soon thawed out. We do keep a light in the utility area where all the drains and pipes are so that area did not freeze up. We also found that pulling the slides in at night helped to keep the RV warmer inside and we used less propane. One of the problems with a furnace in the MH is hat the furnace comes on and heats the inside up almost too much, then it turns off and the temp drops down quite far so we get cold before the furnace turns on again. If we ever have to spend an entire winter in Ontario, we will look into getting a catalytic heater. We did use 2 electric heaters as well which helped and as the cost of electricity was included in the price of the site, we took full advantage of that. We also kept the hot water heater set to electricity to save on the propane.

The 100 lb tank connected to the RV by an Extend-A-Stay connection
On the Saturday that we were camped there we hosted a dinner party for 4 other couples and we were quite anxious to see if we would all fit in. It was a fantastic evening and we had a lovely curry chicken dinner and a really good time.

A funny thing happened while we were there too. I have been a member on RV.NET for several years and I was online posting a question when I got a reply from a couple who are camped for the winter in Ontario. There was a picture of their rig and their toad car, which I recognized as the same vehicles parked right across the camp road from us. I emailed them and we went over for afternoon coffee and fresh bread with apple butter. They were the same couple who had stopped for a chat when we first arrived! We spent a few hours chatting and exchanging ideas for winter camping.

Paul and Marie's Winnebago Chieftain. Skirted and set up for winter with huge propane cylinders set up behind the RV
 The day before we left Milton Heights we had a light snowfall. We winterized the RV and set off for Ajax where we are storing the rig for December while we house and cat sit in London.

A dusting of snow just before we left

The Saturn is all hooked up and ready to go
When we were in Ajax, we heard that there had been a multi-vehicle accident on the 401 near London and that the highway was closed, so we decided to camp in Moodies for a night and carry on by car to London in the morning. The temp went down to -18C but we were warm and cosy and winterized, so no worry about freezing overnight. We had also filled up the propane tank so we could crank up the furnace.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Milton Heights Campground

Today we moved to Milton Heights. We will be here for 11 days before we start our house sitting in London, Ontario. The morning was taken up with getting the propane in the Seneca filled, sorting stuff out at the storage locker in Ajax and stocking up on food.

While Michael was unhooking the car from the Seneca, a couple came over and chatted to us for a while. They are here for the whole winter.

Our site at Milton is a pull through and long enough to take the RV and the car. Nice and level, so we did not have to do much with the levelers to get us nice and stable. There are quite a lot of other campers here, some of whom are staying for the whole winter. There are actually people staying here and working full time. One guy is camping in a small truck camper. It is amazing to see what people are doing with trying to make the winter stay more comfortable. There are some winter campers who have put skirting around the bottom of their RVs and wooden frames with plastic sheeting around the doors to stop the cold wind blowing when the door is opened. Some people even use this space to hang coats and store boots, shovels etc.  We will not be doing this as we are only here until December 8th.

It was very easy to set up the Winegard Carryout automatic satellite dish. Michael also filled the water tank, cleaned out the tanks and got us all settled. We have rented a 100 lb tank of propane so that we don't have to keep going to a propane retailer to fill the RV propane tank. We had an Extend-A-Stay fitted by Owasco so that we could use an external tank. I hope we can handle the cold weather that is coming.

I spent the day unpacking the suitcase from the trip to California and putting stuff away. We are slowly getting ourselves organized.

Back in Ontario

I can't believe that I was so busy that I didn't get back to posting until now.

We had a great US Thanksgiving in Vista, California. Virginia was released from the hospital on Wednesday November 24th so she was able to celebrate with us all. She was still quite weak after her ordeal so we did not stay too long, besides we had to start packing for the trip back to Toronto the next day.

I was quite apprehensive about flying back to Canada on the day after Thanksgiving, but what a surprise! The roads were clear, the train was empty, as was the Flyaway bus from LA Union Station to LAX. LAX was also very quiet and we walked straight through security without a holdup. I was subjected to the body scan. Michael was not. We flew home on a 767 which was wonderful, especially as there were many empty seats. I guess everyone in the US were either spending the whole weekend where they were or were out shopping at the "Black Friday" sales.

We arrived back in Toronto after dark and drove straight to Moodies in Ajax where the Motorhome was in storage. Michael had forgotten to turn off the house batteries before he left so he was quite anxious to see if we had any power. He tried to start the generator but there was not enough power, so we moved the MH from the storage over to a campsite at the back where we knew there was power. We plugged in and all was well. The first thing we did was turn on the furnace to get the inside nice and toasty warm. Leveling was done, slides put out and we crawled into bed, exhausted after the long day of travel.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A busy Tuesday

We never did get to the RVworld Storage to sign the lease yesterday and it did not look as if we were going to get there today either, but we did. The rates are $130 a month. A little pricey, but it is very close to the Chateau at San Marcos where Virginia is moving to so it is nice and convenient.

We got more of V's furniture and stuff over to the Chateau and I set up the computer. She bought a very nice computer desk from the Estate Sales Warehouse. I can't say that it is an antique, being a computer table, but it is very nice anyway. I was not able to test the set up as there is no electricity or cable internet connection, but I think everything is set up as before.

The living room looks very comfortable with the furniture that she has purchased and yesterday we got the 32 inch Samsung LCD TV that she wanted. A little more to move tomorrow and she will be coming home from the hospital sometime tomorrow.

Thursday we are celebrating US Thanksgiving at Carolyn's house and we are providing the pumpkin pie and an apple pie, both purchased from Costco. Costco was an absolute madhouse!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Life in Oceanside, CA

Since last Friday we have been staying at Virginia's house. On Friday morning she awoke in terrible pain in her left leg and we were forced to get the ambulance to take her into the hospital. The outcome was that she has cellulitis in her leg and had to have IV antibiotics. She will be there until Wednesday. In the meantime we are getting stuff over to her new residence. She has bought quite a lot of furniture from Estate sales in the area and most of it will be delivered today. She has yet to buy a TV and with the Black Friday sale coming up, she will be able to get a good price on a 32" LCD.

Another thing we are doing today is signing the lease on the RV storage at RV World storage in San Marcos. $130 a month but it is very convenient. There are not many places that will allow a 6 week storage lease, so we are happy with this choice.

This is the first time we have been in California when it has been so cool and wet. We had very heavy rain yesterday and the day before, so did not do much other than visit V. and go shopping at the outlets. We did not bring clothes for cold weather so have been trying to manage with the stuff we have here.

I can't believe that we have to fly out of here on Friday. That will be entertaining as the airports will be crowded with travellers returning from Thanksgiving Day trips.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


We flew into LAX yesterday at 2:15 and took the Fly-Away bus and then the Metrolink train down to Oceanside. The train was only $14 for me and $7 for Michael (because he is a really old dude). This is a 2 hour trip. Why must GO in Ontario be so expensive? It was dark by 5:30 so we did not get to see the interesting part of the trip, i.e. along the Pacific Coast, but we will see that on the way back on the 26th. Luckily for us there was a cab waiting at the station and $35 later we were at Virginia's door.

Virginia is looking well. A little pale, but she is the Eveready Bunny and keeps going and going. We are going to help to find stuff for her new condo in Assisted Living in San Marcos. We will go up there today to check it out.

This is my 3rd trip here since April and I will be here again in February. The plan is to stay in Virginia's house and put the RV into storage in San Marcos. We found a place there through the Internet, and will be going to pay the $130 for February and $65 for half of March.

I am shocked at the price of diesel here $3:35 a gallon. More expensive than gas. Oh well. We won't be doing a lot of running around in the RV so I guess it will be OK.

Monday, November 15, 2010


We winterized the Seneca today because we are flying to Los Angeles tomorrow. We will be away for 10 days as we are helping my American Mom to move into Assisted Living. She is moving to The Chateau at San Marcos where she has taken a lease on a condo. Her house in Oceanside has been leased in the summer and will be available for the family.

We weren't sure what to do about wintering, whether to use RV anti-freeze or to just blow the lines was the question. In the end we blew the lines and just added anti-freeze to the traps. The ice maker in the fridge was disconnected and all water was drained from the system. This should be enough. It will also be a lot easier to de-winterize when we come back on the 26th.

The weather is starting to get cold and by the time we get back from California we should have had the first snowfall up here in Ontario. We will be at Milton for 12 days before we put the RV back into storage while we are house and cat sitting in London, Ontario. If the house sitting works out we may think about doing more of that in the future.

Friday, November 12, 2010

An exciting Day

Today we were interviewed by the CBC for a spot on the National to be aired either tonight, tomorrow or on Sunday. The interview was about us travelling South when the Canadian dollar is at par with the US Dollar and how our travel plans are changing. We had to take the RV to Owasco, where we bought it. We were pretty much going anyway to get another lesson on winterizing this huge motor home, so we arrived at about 10:15. We then had to take a short drive down the road with the camera man inside, then we had to drop him off and go around the block again and they filmed us rolling up in the motor home. Then we were interviewed by Havard Gould, a reporter. After the interview we went inside and had to sit with our dealer while we discussed some "maintenance issues".

I don't know how long we will be able to see the link on CBC, but here it is...

Travel and the Loonie

The rest of the day was taken up with filling the tank, putting a fuel additive, going to the storage locker to grab some stuff out of there and just enjoying being inside our Condo on Wheels. I still have to pinch myself at the space inside this thing when the slides are out. Fourteen feet wide!! Our own transformer RV.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Settling in

We spent the weekend settling into the Seneca. I have been doing a lot of research on this vehicle on the internet. One of the sites I have gone to is RV.NET where you can post questions and get answers from people who have the same type of RV or have experienced the same problems and have answers.

It is amazing how many storage places there are in here. The RV is 14 feet wide when the slides are out. There are cupboards and places to store stuff everywhere! I must be very diligent in not accumulating stuff. It is so nice to have all my clothes hanging up, instead of lying in a creased pile at the bottom of a little closet.

We have put our lovely Indian rug down on the floor and it's amazing that the colours match the RV colours exactly! We are going to have to replace the TVs. We have the old heavy CRT ones. LCDs would be much lighter as well as giving us a couple of additional storage spaces behind them. We will look into this when we are down in California in January.

The storage under the queen bed contains our extra cleaning materials, our little shop vac and some of the satellite dish accessories. One of the best things that has happened for RVers is the invention of all those cleaning materials on disposable wiping cloths. You can find any type of wipe to clean anything, even yourself.

It is so nice not to be falling over each other and stuff. I have even been able to walk clear around the bed to straighten up the Travasak (a fancy sleeping bag type of contraption) without hurting my poor old knees. Talking about the bed and the Travasak, we are so cosy at night! We bought an electric under-pad which resides on the bed. There are separate controls for each side, so I can have my side on hot and Michael has his side on a cooler setting. We usually turn it off halfway through the night because we are so warm. Have I said this before???? I love modern technology!

I wish I could find someone to set up my wireless printer and scanner. I can't see to get it to connect. The internet stick from Bell is a bit of a disappointment in the the 500MB of data can be used up in one day!! I have now turned off images in Firefox and that seems to help. I see satellite internet in my future.

Friday, November 05, 2010

We are in love with our new Condo on Wheels!!

Today we picked the Seneca up from Owasco, spending the day there to finalize everything and move from the Regal into the new digs. I cannot believe that we managed to squeeze so much stuff into the old RV. At the moment it is all piled up inside the living area. The first thing I did was to make up the bed. The RV's stock bedding will be mothballed in our storage locker. I was so exhausted on Friday that I just fell into bed. Michael had the hard job of pushing the buttons to open the slides and hooking up the electricity. Tomorrow we will unpack....zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Move in Day is tomorrow!

Tomorrow we go and pick up the new Seneca! I am so excited that I can hardly think.

We love the RVing lifestyle. If we don't like the neighbours, we move. If we don't like the view we move. See different places. Sleep in our own bed at night, no matter where we are. Cook in our own kitchen, no matter where we are. Can clean it in no time at all, and it's a bungalow. No property taxes, no mortgage fees, no condo fees, no water bills, no natural gas fees, no house insurance, no snow shoveling, no grass mowing. Very low rental rates,  ($0 to $300 a month).  This is our condo on wheels. The one we have now is great for holidays and weekends, but as a full time home it is too small. So we have been looking for a while. This one was on sale at our local RV dealership. It is a diesel, has only 6,000 miles on it and we got it for a good price. Lots of space and storage areas, and it's all on one level. It has a large generator so we can even camp in the boonies where there is no electricity. Our next step is into a nursing/retirement home! You only live once!

We have taken a seasonal site at Cedar Beach for next summer, April 1st to October 31st. Less than $300 a month. We can still go travelling to different areas.  Winter we will meander slowly down to Oceanside, put the RV in storage in Escondido and stay at our American Mother's house. Again we can still do some trips in and around Southern California as we also have a Coast to Coast campground membership that is $10 a day to stay. The campground membership has over 1600 resorts in the US and Canada.  Can't wait to get moving!

I calculated how much we made out of the condo in 15 years after paying all those fees and costs and came out at a minus number. Seems a little pointless. At least this way we will be able to save some money! and have a blast in the living!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Our new Motorhome!!

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How exciting!! We have traded the Triple E for a Jayco Seneca 35 GS. It is gorgeous and the space!! We have really been struggling with this Regal mini motorhome. The serious lack of space for stuff really got to us. It is fine for a summer holiday and weekend trips, but not to live in full time. It is going to be so nice to have all that room. Also it is a diesel so should have lots of power. From the research I have found out that the fuel consumption is actually better than what we got in the smaller RV. Click on the blog heading to go to the Jayco page.

Checking out the dinette
Is this huge or what!!!!

Nice Big Shower

Galley - Hard surface Countertops
 Lots of closet space in the bedroom
 Queen size bed in the rear slide
 Dinette and swivel recliner/rocker
 Michael tries out the cockpit
 Michael checks out his domain! The galley.
 Dinette. Lots of storage under the seats
 Michael and manager Craig talking in grunts.
What a Monster!
We have to leave here on Sunday and will be going to Moodies in Ajax until we take possession, then we move to Milton. I am still working for another couple of weeks so Ajax will be better as far as the commute is concerned.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thanksgiving weekend. Arrowhead Provincial Park.

Our site

The Kruger's site

View from the Visitor's Centre

Trees near the Visitor's centre parking lot


Thea watching the first moose and her calf

Close up of Mamma Moose

Hikers climbing up to a view site
Over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend we went up to Arrowhead Provincial Park near Huntsville, Ontario. The weather was absolutely fabulous!! Thea had booked 2 fantastic sites. We ate and rode our bikes and took a drive into Algonquin Provincial Park where we saw 4 moose. Ate ice-cream and fudge and lots of good food, including South African foods. It was a wonderful weekend. I think even the kids had a good time!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Torn cartilage and a job offer!

Well, after tripping and tearing the cartilage, I went into North York General Hospital to get it attended to. I bumped into the lead trainer outside the elevator and she asked me if I wanted to come back to work for a while. So here I am back at NYGH working on an as needed basis as a Cerner Powerchart trainer. At least I will earn enough money to pay for gas when we travel South in December.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Valens Conservation Area - Teenage weekend

September 10th, 11th and 12th

Well, teenagers sure have changed since I was a teen. Even since our kids were teens. There were a LOT of hormones hanging around that campground!

We were very lucky in that the site had a 50 amp electric box on it, so we were able to plug ourselves in and the Krugers also had electricity. It really does make a lot of difference. It was an interesting weekend to say the least, but we had fun. The weather was relatively good with only a little of rain. Bobby put up the big dining tent and we all sat in there for meals. Up to 16 of us at one meal. Great!

The weekend ended with me tripping on a tent peg and tearing a cartilage in my knee. Not funny at all.
The Kruger's Trailer

Campsite with our RV in the background
We left mid afternoon and headed back to Cedar Beach Park where we were again going to squat on our friend's (Tom and Sunita's) site until the end of October.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Back into Ontario

Here we are back in Ontario, Canada. The border crossing was quick and uneventful. We have pulled into our friend's driveway in Cambridge so that we can go through some of the boxes of stuff in storage there. We are going to stay here (inside the house) for a few days and then go with them to Valens Conservation area on the weekend. It is one of the kid's birthday, so a group of teenagers and some adults are camping on the group site. Should be fun.

To view all our trip photos, here are the links to our Facebook albums:
Album 1
Album 3
Album 4

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Very windy day. Almost got blown into Michigan!

My goodness. The wind today was very intense. We left Bemidji fairly early and drove South of Lake Superior, through Duluth and along secondary roads. The drive was lovely and thank goodness that the wind was behind us for most of the day. I would have hated having to drive into it. Our gas costs really do drop right down with a following wind! Even better if we are going downhill!. I thought we would see some wild life, but apart from the odd chipmunk and squirrel and one dead deer, there was nothing. Late afternoon we started looking for a campground and found one on the North Shore of Lake Michigamme called, appropriately enough, Michigamme Shores. It was OK. Quite expensive. We just slept there and left in the morning to make the crossing over into the lower portion of Michigan via the Mackinaw Bridge. We got to the bridge at around lunch time and the wind, by this time was so strong that we were pulled over and had to wait until we and other RVs could be escorted across. The water on Lake Michigan was churned up really fiercely. I am glad that we were not on a boat out there. After a wait of about 45 minutes we were eventually escorted across the bridge at 5 MPH. Lake Michigan on one side of the bridge and Lake Huron on the other side. We had now seen 3 of the 5 Great Lakes in 1 day.

A pretty uneventful trip down Michigan Hoping to see some Elk as we went through a couple of Elk Preserves, but nothing.

Our next stop was at Camping World in Houghton Lake where we bought some goodies for the RV, including a Winegard portable automatic satellite dish. In the past we have spent hours looking for satellite signals. Hopefully this will help!

A free night's camping at Camping World parking lot. The wind is still blowing like crazy and it is now raining really hard. Fall is definitely on the way!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Back into the US

Wednesday morning we had every intention of leaving early. Well, Michael went to get the propane tank filled as we were probably going to need the furnace because it was definitely cooling down at night. He was directed to the local Co-op place where they fill propane tanks. The young guy who came to fill the tank did not know what he was doing. First he was "bleeding" the tank for close to 2 hours and then he tried to fill it and told us that it was full. No it wasn't. Every gauge tells us it it is almost empty, but he insisted that he was unable to put any more in. We decided that we would just leave and get it filled at Camping World in Michigan. We eventually got away at about midday.

Crossed the border at the Eastern end of Manitoba and turned to go into Minnesota at Grand Forks, North Dakota. Most of the way it was cool and rainy. Interesting route, in that we stayed off the interstates, choosing instead to take Route 2. We got to Bemidji KOA and booked into a nice RV site. They also had Pizza for delivery right to your RV, which we ordered.

This was a very nice park, with a great swimming pool in which I had a lovely swim.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Winkler, Manitoba

We spent two nights in Winkler as we still had a few things we wanted them to do. One of which was to check the seals on the back cargo doors. We have been having a lot of leakage in rain storms. After a lot of fixing and checking, they found the leak in the rear door. The flange had been bent and water was leaking into the cargo area. That was eventually fixed and we decided to stay one more night in the customer parking lot (with water and electricity connection) and leave for Toronto on September 1st. I was very happy as I was able to pick up wi-fi internet right inside the RV. Triple E has a good internet service in their customer lounge which was just on the other side of the building wall.

We are planning to drive and see how far we get, then look for a campground. Early to bed on the night of the 31st. Planning to get an early start on Wednesday morning.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Montana, North Dakota, Winkler and our motor home

A very early start this morning because we have a lot of ground to cover. We are going to try and be in Winkler by tonight. I had emailed Triple E and asked them to park the motor home in the customer parking so that we could just get into it and settle up with them in the morning. I don't want to go into another cabin, campground or motel. Just want my own bed, in my own home.

The day was cool and wet most of the way. We drove through Montana which was not what I had expected. I thought Montana was all mountainous. Not so. The Eastern end of Montana is rolling countryside, with the occasional small range of hills. A lot of open grassland. There are some interesting rock formations and also quite a lot of history with the Battle of Little Bighorn, but we will have to put those things onto the agenda for another trip. The one thing we did was see the most amazing rainbow that stretched right over the road. Just beautiful.
Full rainbow across the road in Montana

Strange rock formations. Montana

Flat countryside, eastern Montana

Into North Dakota, a quick stop at Minot for lunch and then up into Manitoba. It was getting very late and we were anxious not to get to the border crossing too late. All the smaller crossings between the US and Canada are not open 24 hours and we did not want to go all the over to I29. So we took the first turn North and entered Canada at a very quiet, rural border post. No wait and after the border guard took one look at our jam packed car, he just waved us through.  As it turned out, the small borders only close at 10 pm. We went through at about 5:30 pm.

Leaving Montana

..and into North Dakota

The geographical centre of North America, Rugby, North Dakota

First thing we did in Canada was stop at Tim Horton's coffee for our favourite cuppa Joe and then we went to Triple E and there she was, parked in the Customer Parking, all plugged in, white, washed, polished and shiny with the new panels at the bottom. What a difference! Inside, all the work we asked for was done. We had a new sink installed, a flip up counter in the galley and new taps in the kitchen and bathroom. They were unable to install a new convection/microwave as the space allotted to a microwave was not big enough for a convection to be installed. Not a big problem as we have a small portable convection oven anyway. They also installed an adapter on the motor home propane tank to allow us to run any of our propane appliances off the main tank.

Our Regal at the Triple E factory in Winkler, Manitoba

It was with joyful hearts that we unpacked and settled into our home. It poured with rain all night.

Michael in the bright orange poncho, getting the Regal hooked up for our 2 night stay. We had water and electricity in a feww site at the factory.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mammoth Hot Springs and on into Montana

As Mammoth Hot Springs was on the Northern route out of Yellowstone, we decided to  go there on our way out of the park. This is the largest know carbonate depositing hot spring in the world. It quite something to see. It seems as if a whole hill has been created by the hot spring. There are terraces down the hillside as well ans hot streams of mineral laden water that run down the hill. Spectacular. In the same area is Roaring Mountain where there are a lot of fumaroles or dry springs that just blow super heated air out as the water has evaporated before reaching the surface. Incredible. The mountain does roar! After seeing Mammoth, we drove along a small road that took us past an orange mound. There are hot springs on top of it, and one that looks just like a bubbling coffee percolator. The orange mound itself, looked like a big orange Wookie (Star Wars). Very interesting.

We left Yellowstone knowing that we will be back as we really only scratched the surface. You need to spend at least 3 to 4 days there, but we'll leave that for another visit.

We travelled to Miles City in Montana and went straight to the KOA but I had not reserved a cabin and they (all 2 of them) were all reserved. Didn't fancy the tent, so we found a nice Motel in the town and booked in. A little bonus was that the only non smoking room they had was a handicap suite, so we got a huge room with an enormous bathroom. Slept well as another boomer thundered outside.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Yellowstone National Park

This morning we excitedly got ready for our day in Yellowstone Park. We had a taste of what we were to see yesterday. So a quick breakfast and a lunch packed for the day. Thank goodness for our Koolatron cooler. It has done just sterling duty keeping our food cold!

The West Yellowstone KOA is wonderful. They have a big camp kitchen where there is a covered area with electric cook tops and wash up sinks. The internet is good and the grounds are immaculate. It is just a short drive to the town of West Yellowstone and then into the Park. We took the first leg slow, stopping to see the Elk in the Madison River Valley. We saw bison later in the day.

We saw Old Faithful erupt. The first leg that we did was on the way to Old Faithful in the South West portion of the park. We stopped at a few view spots on the way and got there at about midday. We found out that the geyser was scheduled to erupt about 30 minutes after we got there and there were people already starting to assemble. The fact that it was raining and the sky was black did not seem to hinder anyone, so we thought we had better find a view spot, which we did, right at the front. The benches were wet, so everyone stood. As we were waiting a ranger came out and gave us a talk about geysers and about the whole area in general. As she finished her talk, we noticed that OF was starting to spit up water and then suddenly, only a few minutes beyond the time they had predicted, the geyser erupted right up into the air. Unfortunately, as it was so cool and damp that the actual fountain of water was mostly obscured by steam, but we have seen it. After the eruption ended, the rangers came out and warned us all that there was a  severe storm warning for the area.

To tell you everything we saw would be impossible. This is the most surreal and beautiful place. We loved every part of this park, even the huge thunder and hail storm that we experienced later in the afternoon. We saw geysers, hot springs, craters, turquoise pools and whatever this wonderful place has to show. I am very glad that the huge caldera that is under Yellowstone did not choose today to erupt. We saw all too well what an eruption of a caldera could do at Craters of the Moon!

 We were forced to pull over into a rest area during the storm and after it ended, we drove to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, where I took a ton of photos between raindrops. What a spectacular Canyon! There are two waterfalls on the Yellowstone River and over a very long time, the canyon was carved out. The soil is multicolored because of all the geologic action that has taken place there. By now the rain was starting to end so I got some good photos as we drove along the rim road. After the canyon, we headed home because we knew had to get through a big construction area, where there is a half hour delay each way. The trip to Mammoth Hot Springs can wait until tomorrow after we leave the KOA, heading toward Manitoba.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Grand Tetons National Park

Another early morning departure from Jackson and we were off to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. My American mother urged us to go there if we could as it is such a spectacular range. Spectacular because there are no foothills. The mountains just rise straight up from the valley floor. We were a bit dubious about the weather as it was quite cool and cloudy when we left. We thought that this was going to be a rainy day. As luck would have it, the sky cleared and by the time we got to the National Park, the sky had cleared and we just had puffy white clouds in a lovely blue sky. Virginia was right! These mountains are spectacular. Click on the heading for this blog to see the National Park website. We spent most of the day driving through Grand Teton National Park, taking the scenic route and stopping at view sites and taking our time. Straight after Grand Tetons we kept driving North into Yellowstone National Park. We stopped at a few places on the way, but pretty much drove right up through the park to West Yellowstone to the KOA there. We had a cabin booked for two nights in West Yellowstone.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Craters of the Moon and Jackson/Snake River KOA

We packed up and set off early in the morning to make the most of the day. The drive to Craters of the Moon National Monument was only about 25 kms. Before we even got there we started seeing the evidence of volcanic action.

Craters of the Moon is an incredible place where there was volcanic action in the past. If you click on the post heading, you will be taken to the National Park Services web page that can give you much more information that I can put into the blog.

We did most of the short hikes, and went into 2 caves. A short way into the Indian Tunnel and right into Beauty Cave. Luckily our friend, Tom, who had been there about a month before, advised us to take a flashlight. Beauty cave is pitch black inside!

One of the short walks was to the spatter cones and we were quite bemused to see that one of the cones, appropriately called Snow cone, still had snow right at the bottom.

We left the park after lunch and began the long trek to Jackson, Wyoming where we have a cabin booked at the Jackson/Snake River KOA.

The trip through Idaho from the park was quite interesting. We went from the Snake River Plain in Idaho, through Idaho Falls and into Wyoming. After our last experience in Wyoming when we almost froze to death we were very happy to be going to a cabin.

The drive up to Jackson was great! The scenery along the Snake River was very pastoral, with wide valleys and green hillsides. We missed the sign for the KOA and ended up right in Jackson. Very kitschy, expensive little town. There is a building code and most of the buildings are built in the log cabin type architecture. One main road through the middle of town so it was very VERY busy. We had to do a U turn and go back. Then we saw the sign tucked away almost behind a sign for white water rafting on the snake river.

We were happy with the cabin and the fact that they had excellent free wi-fi service. The cabins all face the Snake and there are steps down to the river. The tent sites are all down on the river bank. Don't know how smart that would be if there was a sudden storm up river! To book a campsite, you have to also book a rafting trip.

We had very friendly neighbours and ended spending the evening sitting around the fire with Sunshine and Brett Gearhart from Johnstown in Colorado. They have a daughter who goes out to Mozambique from time to time as a missionary working for a Christian Organization there. We were able to put them in touch with Mike and Joan Hanchett, who were our pastors in South Africa. They now live in Denver, Colorado. We also gave them the web site for my Brother-in-law, Simon who has a South African Blog. Hopefully they can get some info about the African scene. We instantly made a connection. Again we went to bed, secure in the thought that the cabin would be quiet and warm

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Arco KOA, Idaho

We drove up into Idaho to Arco. This town was the first town in North America to be powered by nuclear technology.  We got to Arco by 3:00 pm and checked into the cabin we had reserved the night before. The KOA at Arco is absolutely beautiful It is quiet, clean and in a very rural setting. We booked in to a cabin which was very comfortable. Not quite hotel comfortable, but warm and dry all the same.

We settled in and went to the ice-cream social. We met the owner lady who had bought the campground just a year or so ago. She and her husband have done a wonderful job of making this a GREAT KOA.

Early to bed because we were both exhausted. Off to Craters of the Moon National Monument in the morning. The heat continues and we are very thankful that it cooled down considerably as soon as the sun went down. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Leaving Oceanside and up into Utah

We were very sad to leave Oceanside this morning. The trip was long and hot and as we drove right through Las Vegas we wondered where we would stop for the night. We chose Cedar City, Utah. The KOA campground was awful! The RV sites were OK, but the tenting sites were just pitiful. Anyway we pitched the tent, made the bed up and then went out for dinner. We found a "home cooking" restaurant up the road and the food was very basic but very tasty. Back to the tent and the NOISE!! The tenting area was right next to the main road through town. Who knew that the trucks all take a short cut through town. It was intolerable. We were up early to get the heck out of there. We were up before the other campers.

Oceanside, California

We had 10 wonderful days in Oceanside. Most of the time was spent shopping at outlets, doing some sight seeing and celebrating Virginia's 90th birthday.  Virginia took us to the Pageant of the Masters which was amazing. It is an art show combined with a pageant where people are dressed up and posed as real life Masters paintings. We thoroughly enjoyed this. Virginia had booked us in to a hotel in Laguna Beach which was very nice as we did not have to use our car to go to the pageant. We were able to leave the car at the hotel and use the free tram system that Laguna offers in the summer. We just hopped onto the tram right outside the hotel, went to the pageant and then the tram took right back to the hotel afterward. Most enjoyable. The next day, August 20th was Virginia's birthday. We spent the day driving up the coast and seeing some of the sites. One of which was the Roger's Gardens which is a nursery, but also a wonderful place to go. We had fun trying on big floppy hats, looking at plants and browsing in their store.

On the evening of the 21st We, Virginia and some of the Popes went to dinner at John's Neighborhood Bar and Grill in Vista. The food was outstanding. Michael had steak and I had smoked salmon, capers and linguine in a cream sauce. Yummy!

Michael and I took a drive up to the top of Mount Soledad in La Jolla. What views! and of course we went to Oceanside Beach. It was very hot, but the water was icy!

It was with very sad hearts that we left on the morning of August 24th. We will be back in January/February

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Our Facebook Photo Abum

To see the photos of our trip go to our Facebook Album until I can get photos posted on here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday the 13th - Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California

Yes, we really did go through all those states. Early start as soon as we were defrosted! The trip through Utah was beautiful! As my sister says, Utah is a strange and beautiful State. Almost as soon as we entered Utah we were in the area known as the Colorado Plateau. This is an area of outstanding beauty. The colours in the rocks are anything from grey to salmon, peach and cream. Back in 1999 Michael and I toured the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion Canyon. All wonderfully scenic National Parks, and all different in their own way. We decided not to go back this trip, but we will most definitely spend some time here when there are not so many crowds. Maybe in February....Brrrr.

 Well, we drove right through Utah, missing out Salt Lake City and driving through Provo, and before we knew it we were in Arizona. The very top left corner of Arizona and a short time later we were entering Nevada. Apart from the Grand Canyon, we are not terribly enamored with Nevada. Of course we have not been up to Reno or Lake Tahoe yet!

As we approached Las Vegas the temperature started rising dramatically and pretty soon it was 43C (109F). The drive through Las Vegas is always harrowing, but on a Friday afternoon, when the world comes to Las Vegas it was very busy! Smart Alec, Dee decided to go to Henderson to find accommodation. That didn't work too well either and so we decided, after heading in the wrong direction, that we would just press on into California. Back on the I 15 and off we went. The best laid schemes of mice and men......... Not far out of Las Vegas the traffic ground to a halt and there we sat for almost 2 hours, crawling forward. Over 11 miles of back up all the way to Primm at the Nevada/California State line!! Someone had raced down the truck lane in his Ford F150 and, despite the warnings of road work ahead, drove at high speed, crashing head on into a heavy road construction vehicle. Of course he was killed instantly and so it took a very long time to clear the road. By now it was dark, so we decided that it would be prudent to call ahead to Barstow KOA to book a cabin. Too hot for tent camping! I only had my Canadian phone which is pre-paid, so what the heck, the call was made and I was on hold for quite a while and then I got the KOA person to call me back and eventually we got the cabin reserved. When we get to the KOA all I had to do was to call a number for someone to bring me the key. Well, I had used up all my time on my phone so when we got there, luckily, someone had driven in right behind us and I asked to borrow his phone. He let me use it and then told me he was from the Yukon. I hope I didn't use up too much of his time!! My cost on my cell phone was $30 for the time it took to make the reservation!!

We were absolutely stunned at the number of people that were travelling to Las Vegas from the LA area! The highway looked like it was rush hour. Bumper to bumper traffic heading North. Craziness!

We got into the cabin which was very nice, with a full bathroom, kitchenette, TV etc. We soon found out that the room was about 50C inside as no-one had bothered to turn on the AC. It took 2 hours to cool down. The fridge was about 60C inside as it was broken and the there was no hot water for a shower.  Nevertheless, having travelled more than 1000Kms that day, we had a cool shower and both slept like logs. Up early, for a quick look around and a nice breakfast. I had a quick "discussion" with the office staff about the deficiencies and received a 10% discount on my nearly $100 bill for the 1 night.  Then we set off on the last leg, of this portion of our trip, to Oceanside.

California always gives us the feeling that we are "home". It is so much like Durban in South Africa where we had lived prior to immigrating to Canada. So we got to Virginia's in the early afternoon, just as she was about to head out to a historical society function.  Got settled in, unpacked and enjoyed not having to race off to our next destination.

Coming up, some highlights of our stay in Oceanside.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

On into Wyoming

We managed to get away quite early and set off for Wyoming. The scenery in Wyoming is very mixed. Once we got away from the Badlands and the Black Hills of South Dakota, Wyoming flattened out again to miles and miles of flattish prairie. We saw some ranches that just went on forever and there were cattle in some of the fields, but because the ranches are so huge, it looked as if the farms just had a few animals. Midday, the wind started picking up and very soon we were battling a 45 mph headwind. It was so windy that we saw an 18 wheeler that had been blown right off the highway into the median. Luckily it was a wide median, so there were no injuries on either side of the road.

We had almost crossed the whole state when we decided to pull into Lyman KOA. We asked the young man at the desk to give us a site which was protected from the wind. What did he do? put us on a site that was at 45 degrees to the wind. It was hilarious trying to put the tent up. bags were flying away and Michael had to chase after them. We tried pegging the tent down before getting it up into position (we have a pop-up tent), but that too failed and eventually we went and asked to be put at the back of the campground to get the protection of the hedge on the Western end. The tent was erected, the mattress was inflated and everything was working a lot better. This site had an electric outlet, so we were able to charge everything up. The lamp, the battery pack and my computer. The Koolatron fridge was plugged in and positioned outside the tent. The wind dropped and we were able to cook dinner then we went to bed quite early and set the alarm to wake us up at midnight to see the Perseid Meteor Shower.

Well, it got colder and colder. The sky was absolutely clear and the stars were incredible, but by midnight we were awakened because the mattress had deflated to the extent that our hip bones were right on the floor. Mattress inflated again and a quick look outside to see if there were any meteors. I saw 2 or 3 but they were so fast that I soon lost interest and (also because it was now 9C) decided that it was time to go back to bed. 3:00 am awake again because the mattress was once again deflated. Pumped up and back to bed. Now every time we got up it took about 1/2 an hour to get warm again! 6:00 am, mattress deflated again 3C outside and ICE on the fridge and on the car. It was bitterly cold. Must have been at freezing point and because the sun was starting to rise, it had actually warmed up to 3C!!! Of course we had no warm clothes, just one fleece jacket each. We had slept fully dressed in our day clothes and our fleece jackets. A quick early breakfast and then pack the car and set off. Next stop Nevada.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park and Needles Highway

We had a good breakfast of eggs and bacon and set off for Mount Rushmore. The route from Badlands KOA took us through more of the Badlands State Park, and we took the dirt road route through the more remote part of the park in the hopes of seeing buffalo. We saw one in the distance, that was all.

One thing that I have not mentioned is the number of motorbikes we saw on the road. Thousands of them. We found out later that there is the annual motor bike rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. This year is the 70th anniversary, hence the number of attendees. We heard that anywhere from 500,000 to 800,000 bikers were at the event. I can believe it!

When we got to Mount Rushmore we were almost crowded out of the parking lot by motor bikes! A $10 fee to park and the Monument is actually free. It is very impressive, with granite pillars all the way up to the viewing area. On each pillar are the names and flags of 4 States. Each one occupying the 4 faces of the pillars.

The view of the carvings is very awe inspiring. What a feat!! We were there about 30 minutes, took lots of photos and then left. After the stop at Mount Rushmore, we took the Needles highway to Custer State Park.

The primary reason that we went into Custer State Park was to see the wildlife - buffalo. We drove the wildlife route and saw a few buffalo in a far off grove of trees, a couple of deer and 2 wild donkeys.  After Custer we drove to the statue of Crazy Horse that is still a work in progress. We took a couple of photos, but did not go into the park.

A quick drive back to Rapid City and then pressed on West. We stopped at Spearfish KOA, which was chock a block full of motorcycles and bikers and their families. camped in all manner of camping gear from tents all the way up to million dollar motor homes. The campground owners were absolutely great and managed to find us a corner in their overflow section (an open field) and charged us a discount rate, which was nice.