Thursday, May 21, 2020

Spring has sprung

Yikes! It's been a while since the last blog post.

We've been doing well, staying healthy and trying to hide from that Covid guy. I even tried a disguise so he wouldn't recognize me. We also keep our Tikki guard on duty in case that virus comes sneaking around here at night. So far it has worked. No sign of a Corona virus here!

My disguise. Since removed.

Our guard Tikki

The weather has warmed up significantly. The grass is green, the trees are leaving and my little shrubs I planted last year all seem to have survived in spite of the rabbits pruning them down over the winter.

We've had a good run of warm and dry weather so the farmers have taken advantage of that and have the bulk of their crops planted. They had a slow start as they were still harvesting Canola from last fall. They had to finish last year's work before they could start on this season's crop. It is raining hard here today and only 3 C ( about 36 F). Supposed to be the same tomorrow but improving for the weekend. Farmers that have crops in the ground will be happy.....unless of course we get snow tonight which is a possibility. No crops have emerged yet so except for our bedding plants I guess a bit of snow wouldn't hurt anything ....other than our mood.

I've had a few projects that had been planned for a while so time to get busy. First up was adding some shelves to the small closet turning it into a pantry of sorts. I did this back in April when shopping at lumber stores was limited. We ended up with white shelves but we keep the door closed anyway so who cares.

The next project was flower/garden boxes. Nothing special, just some  2x10's knocked together and painted. They were going to be stained brown but I had bought white so .....white they are. I got a yard of black dirt and mixed in some peat planting mixture. The boxes have now been planted and hopefully something besides weeds will grow.

New flower box with newly painted planters. We decided to move the planters though.

New garden box before we built the deck bench.

Completed flower box with new planters at each end.

We had wanted to build a wooden bench around a portion of the deck to provide seating for the table and of course extra for larger gatherings. I ordered the steel bench brackets online. They are very sturdy and certainly better than you could buy at the big box stores. With some help from my grandson we managed to get it all together. The compound miter cuts in the corner were a challenge and they took a few cuts to get it right. Well it's not exactly right but close enough. It's one of those 'twenty footer' projects. Looks good from twenty feet.....just don't get any closer.

Brackets in place, and the first board installed.


New garden box behind the new bench. Wet and windy today!

Our last major purchase was a boat! I mean, why have a place at the lake if you don't have a boat....right? At least that's my justification. I've been looking at a lot of pontoon boats for sale. We nearly bought one last fall but the boat wasn't as advertised. This one seemed like a winner. We haven't got it in the water yet but hopefully by Saturday. It's a 21 foot 2009 model with a 50 horsepower Mercury outboard. No speedster but hey....what's the rush? So now as new boat owners we start the never ending costs of ownership. Insurance, a boat slip, fuel, repairs, safety equipment, etc., etc.

Our new addition to the family.

The Captain of his ship! (in dry dock)

In the last few weeks I completed the Pleasure Boat Operators License, which is a requirement in Canada for operators of boats that exceed 10 horsepower. We both got our fishing licenses online as well. I think we're ready for the water! I know the Grandkids are!

I've been getting in as many walks as possible. There is a nice 3.5 km (about 2 miles) route that takes you past the lake with all the springtime activity. Tons of birds, frogs, and other nature sights. It's a good way to contemplate our future travels....or lack of.

Porcupine enjoying lunch

It seems we each have our threshold of risk and as of today we are yet unsure what we'll be doing this winter. There seems to be consensus that the dreaded second wave of Covid will come along this fall. If it does I don't think we would be comfortable travelling to the US even if it were allowed. That leaves travel in Canada but not sure BC is anxious to have sick Albertans in their midst. Wintering in the trailer, even with skirting and extra insulation may not be very comfortable. That would leave us looking into a sticks and bricks option for the winter. Of course the worst case would be that we are unable to travel in the fall of 2021/22. So maybe we should look at buying a home to put on our lake lot. That would be a very expensive option and one we are not yet ready to commit to. We still have a few months to decide and we hope the path forward will become clearer soon.

Stay safe everyone!

......and that was Our View From Here!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Will this Winter ever end?

First, anybody else having issues posting comments to other's blogs? I know some blogs require approval before the comment appears but there are some that just aren't appearing when I go back and check.

Anyway, apparently they have cancelled Spring in Alberta in addition to the rest of the issues we are all facing. We are running at least 10 degrees C below normal, both day and night temperatures. What this means for us RV'ers that have no other home to move into is that we are constantly fighting the elements.

Large icicle hanging from the slide. 

Bunny tracks in the glistening snow.

I shoveled out my fire pit one day only to watch the blowing snow bury it again two days later!

Pretty patterns in the snow. That's one of my shrubs that looks like a lump in the background.

One morning we awoke to no hot water. Nothing would come out of the taps. Great, a frozen water line. This shouldn't have come as a surprise as we had experienced overnight lows of -23C (-10F). I placed an electric heater in the basement and aimed the heat toward the plumbing pipes. It took a while but we had hot water running a bit later that day. Yay! The end of our issues, right? Nope.

Yes, it was -23 C (-10 F) one morning. A wind chill as well.

A few days later it was time to dump our black and grey tanks. We had purposely held off until they were pretty full hoping the outside temperatures would increase. It finally got to the freezing mark so time to dump. I pulled on the remote valve handles and......nothing. Froze solid. I had been running the tank heaters for the last few days and had added RV antifreeze to all the tanks a few days earlier as well. Still, the handles wouldn't budge. I should have known better. Even with insulated under belly and tank heaters most trailers just can't handle those really cold temperatures for long. I hadn't put any skirting around the trailer, but the weather was supposed to be getting much least that's what the weather guy kept saying. He lied!!

So now we are in trouble. The waste tanks are full and you really can't live in an RV without a place to put your waste water. Our 14 day quarantine was over so I jumped in the truck and headed to town to pick up some tarps and heaters from my sons. We nearly froze putting them up. Duct tape doesn't stick in the cold but we managed to seal off the underside around the tanks. I had a thermometer under the trailer and it was only a short time before the temperature was rising. I left the heater running all night and by later the next day the valves were free and waste water was flowing!! I was never so happy to watch poop running down a hose!! (sorry, no picture!!lol)

A temporary skirting measure to help keep the heat under the holding tanks.

Not pretty but it worked.

The tanks are now running freely, the water lines are warm, we're insulated reasonably well and we have plenty of propane. We're good......I hope. The weather liar is now changing his mind and there is general agreement between the weather sources that we'll be at least 10 degrees C below normal for the next two weeks. We likely won't be much above freezing during the day so Spring is definitely delayed. So are my outdoor projects.

I made a grocery run to the town of Lacombe yesterday. It's about 20 km (12 miles) east of us. It was the first time I had been into a grocery store since we got back to Canada. I wasn't sure just what to expect but was pleased with the behavior of shoppers. The store had placed one-way markers on the floor to help avoid meeting other shoppers in the aisles. Mostly everyone followed arrows. I saw a few times that shoppers would stop at the end of an aisle or just go the other way if the aisle had more than a couple of people in it. Only one time did I see small children with their mother and only a couple times where there were more than one person shopping together. The cashiers were excellent. If there were more than a couple of customers waiting to check out they opened another lane. All were protected by plexi-glass of course. Other than hand soap the shelves were reasonably well stocked. We won't starve.

I see quite a few folks wearing some sort of mask. I didn't have one. Our health experts are now advising that we should begin using one and recommend even a homemade one of cloth. It got me to thinking that I might be able to re-purpose some old underwear and cover my head with that. It might not be too effective at keeping my germs in place but it would certainly keep folks away from me!

I got a couple nice shots of the latest super moon yesterday. Apparently this one is called the 'pink moon'. I'm thinking please don't tell me the moon has some sort of virus! Actually it has nothing to do with the color but that it occurs in the spring where in some parts of the world it is timed with the blossoming of flowers. Obviously NOT in Alberta!

Hopefully it is spring where you are. I've been checking on most of you. Looks nice in Southern Ontario and BC, Mississippi, Texas, Arizona and Nevada. Even South Dakota. I checked in with my Cedar Creek buddies today. Their long-planned trip to Alaska is now off. Virgil is enjoying 80 F weather in Indiana and George is watching the RV'ers disappear in Quartzsite. Apparently the water well at LaPosa South is running low so folks are heading out to other areas.

Wherever you are, please be safe!
.......and that was Our View From Here!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

So, how was your month?

What a month this has been! From the peace, quiet and beauty of the deserts in Arizona and Nevada to .......THIS!

We got home on Sunday, March 23 and of course went straight into lock-down/quarantine. The first couple of days were relatively nice with daytime temps above freezing. We were able to get a few things done outside, enjoyed some sunshine and some walks around the park (yes, I now know the rules have changed and I'm no longer allowed to do that!).

Nighttime temps were well below freezing and our first 30 pound tank of propane lasted just over three days! Yikes! Our neighbor was kind enough to get my propane bottle filled but I knew this wasn't going to be a sustainable solution. I contacted the local propane provider and solved that problem today. I got a 420 liter (about 100 gallons) tank. They charge $100/year rental which isn't too bad considering the convenience of never having to fill the bottles again. we'll be able to connect the tank to our fire pit and barbecue as well. That will be a project for later this spring. Another benefit is the cost per liter of the propane is about half what it costs to fill the smaller bottles and of course the provider comes out with his truck and fills the tank!

That tank should last us a while.

The adapter from the large tank into our trailer.

Snow and cold has really hit us in the last couple of days. We're having to run the trailer's furnace a lot just to keep the underbelly warm and keep the plumbing from freezing. The weather guy says we might not see above freezing temps until this time next week. Certainly abnormal, but in today's world what is normal?

Anyway, we've been trying to stay busy and keep from watching too much depressing news on the TV. I'm working on a few photography projects but none ready for publication. Reading some books, trying a few recipes and trying not to eat too much. We did make hard boiled eggs in the Instant-Pot and tried cornbread in it too. Both worked well but we should have left the cornbread in about ten minutes more. I still ate it!! (sorry, forgot to take pictures)

The frosty weather makes for nice picture opportunities.

Frost on the side of our LED rope light.

We're on day 9 of our 14 day quarantine. I did drive to town on Sunday where my son had done some grocery shopping and he placed the bags in the back of truck for me. As of yesterday the rules have changed and we are no longer allowed to leave our property. We should be fine for food but our neighbors at the lake have offered to pick up anything we might need.

Our biggest sacrifice is not getting those Grandkid hugs we've missed since last October, but we certainly don't want to get them sick or our pregnant daughter-in-law. In reality it's more likely we would pick up something from them but either way we'll continue to isolate even after our 14-day quarantine.

I hope everyone is well, safe and secure.
......and that was Our View From Here!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Me and Sailor Jerry were talking

Only a few days into our self-quarantine and naturally with the barrage of news we have exposed ourselves to it's inevitable we've been thinking. I know, I know.....a dangerous thing! But you can't help but wonder what might happen in the aftermath of this pandemic.

How we (the world) handle this outbreak and the lessons we learn, or choose to ignore, will be applied, or not, to the next outbreak. Yes there will be another virus, sooner or later, and it could be worse than this one. We better pay attention to what works and what doesn't with this outbreak.

Governments have a lot to learn on how to manage these emergencies and the needed shutdowns. There is no room for partisan politics in an emergency like this. It is not the time to make political points and try to get re-elected. Yes we need leadership but I would certainly trust the healthcare professionals before an elected politician. And this goes for both sides of the border.

Anyway, I was giving some thought to what our world would like after this huge paradigm shift we are living through. Here are a few thoughts......

- I predict a baby boom. Lots of quarantined couples with 'nothing' to do = babies born this December. Oh, and by the way expect a diaper shortage so you better start stocking up now. Just one package at a time please. We don't need a run on diapers! And has everyone forgotten about cloth diapers? We used them for our kids and they are relatively well adjusted adults.

- There will be toilet paper free options invented. Never mind the You-tube instructional videos on how to take care of business with just one sheet, I mean new technologies. Bidets will no doubt be a big seller this year. What other creative solutions will be forthcoming?

- There will be a big shift to self-reliance. Folks will be planting more and bigger gardens and there will be a resurgence in canning and preserving. Hunting and fishing will see a big increase. That's either good or bad depending on how your viewpoint.

- If you own shares in Disney, any cruise ship lines or a corporation that owns high-rise commercial buildings......sell them. I can't see how those floating Petri dishes called cruise ships will make a comeback any time soon. Buffets? Forget those. Golden Corral's days are numbered. Disneyland? Yep the kids will be disappointed but who really needs to stand in line for two hours to enjoy a two minute ride. With the money you'll save you can buy a years worth of college for the kid and save getting sick by avoiding the crowds....and the buffet.

- Once large corporations realize they can operate with employees staying home there will be no need to have them all commute into a downtown hi-rise. And for those that don't seem to be very productive working from home? Well, you need to find another job.

- It will be interesting to see how many fans flock back to the stadiums and arenas after pro sports start back up. I never could understand the attraction of squeezing into those expensive seats in the nose-bleed section only to have some drunk spill beer all over you. For the hundreds of dollars you save think of the nice big widescreen TV you can have and watch all the replays from the comfort of your home. Same with movie theaters. Does anybody actually go to those anymore? Unless you want to see a new release a month before your neighbor buys the video what's the point?

- All the kids are now at home learning from teacher produced videos and online assignments. Is this the end of stick and brick schools? Or maybe the kids don't have to go to a school every day. What about every second day, or two days one week, three days the next. We can house twice the kids in the same school. Think what the governments can do with the millions they spend on new schools that only have a life expectancy of twenty years before the neighborhood demographics change and the school is virtually empty. Yes, I realize not all families have networks and laptops for the kids to use. Seems to me this time is a great experiment to see what works and what doesn't and close the technology gaps. And while we are on schools......please start teaching the kids life skills like the importance of sanitation and health practices like hand washing. They are never too young to learn about disease transmission. Not to scare them but to prepare them for the next virus!

- So how long will it take some smart guy to get an app built that warns you if your social distance is too close? One that beeps with increasing urgency as you approach another person.

- Will building codes change to demand that outside doors open automatically when you approach so you don't have to grab a handle? What about elevator buttons? Can't we make them with proximity buttons that don't have to be touched to select a floor, or just a voice demand?

- Can we finally do away with money? I mean paper and coinage. Can we not have secure credit and debit cards and use 'tap' functionality? I know we sort of have that now but surely technology can improve to make this more secure.

Anyway, that's my list so far. It's meant only as thought provoking so please, no flame mail.

So what happens next? How long before we should feel safe to travel.....if ever? For those of us that travel by motor home or trailer, will we be heading south next fall? If not should I be reserving a site on Vancouver Island now?

I don't want to add to the panic that seems to be pervasive these days. Like I stated in the title, Sailor Jerry and I were talking but maybe I should cut back a bit on my ration and not listen to him. Besides, I need the bottle to last a while!

Stay safe!
.......and that was Our View From Here!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Home at the Lake

So we decided that hanging out in Pahrump with all the health related issues that were going on in the US and Canada didn't make much sense. We were basically self-isolated but we knew the 14 day clock wouldn't start for us until we were parked in Canada.

We left Pahrump on Friday, March 20 and drove as far as Jackpot, NV on the Idaho/Nevada border. We ran into rain, sleet, snow....the whole gamut. Pretty scenery when we could see it though! We stayed in a casino parking lot in Jackpot. All the casinos are closed of course so us and about another dozen rigs staked out our space and enjoyed a quiet night.

We never saw any aliens.

Joshua trees with snow on them.

Lots of Joshua Trees north on Beatty.

We need to come back to this cool little town of Goldfield, NV.

Ominous clods ahead.

Is that snow ahead?

Very pretty country.

Rain or snow?


Some of the showers were very small.....thankfully.

Nice sundog.

We stayed at this casino.

Saturday we hit the road early only to realize we headed into a different time zone and lost an hour. Regardless we drove and drove and drove some more. In fact we didn't stop driving until we crossed the border. We finally called it a night in a casino parking lot in Lethbridge, Alberta. A very long day but happy to be in Canada.

Snake River

Lots of RV's heading the same direction.....north.

Lots of snow in northern Idaho and southern Montana.

Gorgeous scenery!

We took the Dillon to Boulder, MT cutoff. No snow in the valley. All those horse trailers ahead were from Alberta, heading north.

Northern Montana north of Helena. No snow!

Sunday we headed further north toward home. The road conditions weren't the best. It had snowed just outside of Lethbridge. The roads were icy. I tow with the exhaust brake engaged and the transmission in Tow/Haul mode. For those of you that pull trailers you know this is a good way to help the rig slow down without using a lot of brakes. So I pull into a small town and begin to decelerate. I touched the brake and the transmission promptly downshifted like it's supposed to. The problem was that I was on bare ice and the resulting engine braking broke the rear tires loose and the truck begins to go sideways!!. Thankfully this happened about 70 km/hr (40 mph) so it didn't take a lot to recover the skid.....but it sure woke me up!

My sons had shoveled out the spot for the trailer and by about 2 pm we were set up and hooked up to the utilities. Now we just sit out the next fourteen days. We have a couple of bags of mail to go through, taxes to do, some clean up around the trailer and lot, and make some phone calls to friends and family. My neighbor across the street filled a propane tank for me so we shouldn't freeze although the overnight lows are in the -15C (mid-teens F) range. We have plenty of our own anti-freeze, oh, and lots of food too!

Our spot in the Lethbridge Casino lot.

See the glare of the ice on the highway! Not what you want to be towing through.

Our favorite barn south of Calgary.

City of Calgary

Bow River

The lighthouse greeting us at Gull Lake.

Lots of folks ice fishing

Our street.

Our spot all shoveled out!

Home sweet home!!

We're happy to be home but of course wish it was under different circumstances. We really need a Grandkid hug but we've talked to them and they understand.

I hope everyone is well and staying safe.
.........and that was Our View From Here!