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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Trailer maintenance and land search


May 10

Yes, another long gap between updates. Not sure it will get better. We have no internet service at this campground so I have to go to one of our son's houses to post. We have moved from the Westerner Campground to the Lions Campground in Red Deer. Both are City owned and each are nice. We find the Lions is closer to the kid's houses so pickup and drop off of Grandkiddo's is easier……and we doing lots of that!

Our new site at the Lions Campground in Red Deer. There was a huge windstorm last year that blew down a lot of the large poplar trees. The yellow tape is where they dug out the old roots and laid some sod this spring.



So Spring is now in full swing around here. River ice jams have cleared and even the snow runoff has subsided. We've had quite a swing in temperatures with highs of over 25C (close to 80F) and crazy low temps, like today (May 10), with rain and a daytime high of 5C (about 38F).

Red Deer River clear of ice and water levels are down to normal spring level.

Red Deer River taken at the end of April. All the snow and ice are gone now.

We've been out looking at small properties for sale. As long as you leave your check book at home it doesn't cost anything to look, right? So we checked out a couple of places at nearby lakes. Buffalo Lake is about 45 minutes East of Red Deer. Nice drive out there, but we didn't see much we liked.

Farmers moving equipment. You just have to be patient to pass. They're way bigger than I am!

Seeding crops is well under way now.

Buffalo Lake taken May 5. Still lots of ice to melt.

Buffalo Lake is a typical prairie lake. Shallow, large surface area and very little natural streams to feed it. They keep this lake artificially higher by channeling water from a nearby river. Gull Lake is the same.

The geese are anxious to see some more open water.

Next stop was Gull Lake. It is about 30 minutes North of Red Deer. We've looked there many times but property is just too expensive for us. We had thought maybe an RV site to buy where we could park for the summer months. There are some RV resorts out there but there is just nothing that really grabs us. They are all condo board operated and something about those that waves a yellow flag at me. I'm sure they are fine……but we'll keep looking. Not sure we want to be tied to just one place for six months a year. At least not just now. It's a good time to look around before the leaves

We've done some maintenance on the trailer. First was trying to do something about the terrible oxidation on the rear cap. The front is fine as it was re-painted under warranty by the previous owner. The back has never been touched. I did some research and checked into some options. The local RV dealer would repaint it for about $2500! Yikes! I looked into various products that claimed to be just what I needed. After talking to a guy at a specialty autobody shop he sold me Presta Compound. $40 for a big bottle. I started out using an orbital buffer with wool pads. It worked but I found good old hand scrubbing worked just as well. The net result? Well, I saved myself over $2400!! It took several hours of hard work but honestly it was worth it. Not sure if there is a UV blocker I can use to prevent the oxidation from returning but I think if I keep ahead of it and use a good wax I can keep it looking pretty good.

Before

Before

After

Nice and shiny!

We are planning a long trip this Fall and Winter. Travel to the East Coast of Canada and down to Florida and back to Alberta through the Midwest States. A long way to tow the trailer so having the axle bearing re-packed and brakes checked seemed like a good idea. I know RV Dealers can do the work but for a few dollars more I took the trailer to Fleet Brake that specialize in heavy truck and trailer suspension and brake work. They also do a lot of RV's and I've had them do work for me in the past. They re-packed the axle bearings and replaced the seals, cleaned and checked the brakes, and inspected and greased the suspension. There is less than 25% wear on the brakes, and just a tiny bit of play in a couple of suspension items. We're good to go and it makes me feel better having things well checked and serviced before hitting the road. Total bill….$480. High, but the peace of mind is free!

We have a Motor League membership (AAA, or AMA in Alberta) and with that they offer a discounted price on an annual Canadian National Park Pass. They sell it for $120 and if you buy it from the Government at the Park Gates it is $136.50. A decent saving, so if you are looking for a National Park Pass this year, check with your Motor Association first.



We have more birthdays to celebrate in May , and of course Mother's Day is this Sunday so lots of family stuff to do. I'll try to update more often. Now that the nicer weather has arrived I hope to get out on some local trails and see some sights.
......and that was Our View From Here.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Our first Snowbird adventure

April 29
We've been home in Red Deer for almost three weeks. I've been working on getting this post out for over two weeks. Yikes!

The snow is mostly melted and signs of spring are starting to appear. The rivers are breaking up and I see the pussy willows are beginning to show their buds. All good signs that winter is finally done with us. The temperature in Red Deer hit 25C (78F) this past weekend.

We've been happily looking after Grandkids and even had a couple of sleep-overs so far. We have three GK's, they are four, six, and eight. Two have birthdays in April so although we missed the first one we're making up with the second one.

We've enjoyed family dinners and catching up with friends we haven't seen since October. We've also begun the process of seeing doctors, dentists and optometrists. Boring stuff, but necessary parts of staying healthy I suppose.

I had hoped to get an oil change done in the truck. The truck is two years old and GM provides free oil changes for the first two years or 48k kilometers. I have 43k kilometers so under their mileage limit. So I phoned for an oil change on April 20. Imagine my surprise when they told me my truck was two years old on the 18th! Apparently they don't allow any flexibility in their rule so I guess I'll have to pay for the next one, but it likely won't be done at the dealership! I actually have about 35% oil life left as I had the oil changed in Yuma at the end of January (which I had to pay for). So if I can't get this one done free then I'll hold off for a month or two until I'm below 20% or so. That way we'll have fresh oil for the trek to Eastern Canada this summer.

So our first extended trip to the USA has come to and end. The truck and trailer worked well and really we had no significant issues to report. We drove just over 10,000 miles (16,500 KM's) and were very pleased with the fuel economy. According to the computer in the truck, which I have checked for accuracy by making some manual calculations, we achieved and average fuel usage of 14.1 MPG (US) (or about 17 MPG Imperial) or roughly 17.2 liters/100 km. That is combined towing and non-towing numbers. We actually got one stretch of non-towing touring were we got just over 30 MPG (US) (just over 36 MPG Imperial) or 7.8 liter/100 km. I'm very pleased with that!

We enjoyed our trip very much. We found the dry, low humidity much to our liking. The weather was certainly good. No bugs, snakes or scorpions to be found. The wind blew, sometimes a lot and strong but other than maybe a couple of days it really didn't damper outside activities.

It is impossible to state what we liked the best about our trip. I do have to say up front that beyond any geographical feature or historical site we visited, the people we met have to be at the top of the list. We met dozens of fine folks from all over the US and Canada. We met Bloggers, and others, that helped us in numerous ways with unselfishly sharing their knowledge. It's a great community to be part of and we hope to share it for many years to come. (sure hope I'm not jinxing us).

Each location we visited was special in one way or another. The shores of Lake Powell near Page, AZ where we did our first boondocking of the trip. The first of the many Bloggers we would meet we met there. (Steve and Dianne, and Ray and Deb) The photo trip to Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and the Glen Canyon Dam were amazing. Then we moved on to the grand-daddy of geology......the Grand Canyon.

Our site at Lone Rock Campground at Lake Powell. 

Antelope Canyon

Horsehoe Bend

The Toadstools

Glen Canyon Dam

Grand Canyon




We moved down to Flagstaff for week and saw the famous Lowell Observatory, and the ancient ruins of the cliff dwelling peoples. We also took side trips to Winslow and Williams......our first experience on Route 66.

Downtown Flagstaff

Ancient ruins near Flagstaff

Williams, AZ

Winslow, AZ

The Painted Desert

Lowell Observatory



Then it was down to Camp Verde were we spent time exploring areas like Sedona, Jerome, and east to Payson. All remarkable for their history and geology. And that was just November!

Near Sedona

Montezuma Castle

Petroglyphs near Montezuma Well

Near Sedona



More ruins near Cottonwood, AZ

Natural Bridge near Payson, AZ

Payson, AZ

From the train near Cottonwood, AZ



Jerome, AZ


We spent December and January in Yuma. What could we possibly do to keep us entertained for two months in one place? Ha! Not hard at all, it turned out. We explored the history of the area, the agriculture and the people. A side trip to Mexico was entertaining. We took side trips to Puerto Penasco, Mexico for New Years, and to San Diego to see the sites.

Vegetable fields near Yuma, AZ

Colorado River at Yuma

Yuma Territorial Prison Site at Yuma

Tamale Festival in Somerton, AZ

Yuma City Hall

Christmas parade at RV Park in Yuma

Miniature Trains in Yuma

Imperial Sand Dunes west of Yuma

Beach at Puerto Penasco in Mexico.


Organ Pipe National Park in Southern Arizona

Hard working vegetable pickers near Yuma

F35 jet at Yuma Marine Base

Osprey


Car show in Yuma

Dirt Racing at Cocopah Raceway south of Yuma.

Museum in Yuma (this is for Ken!)

Display on USS Midway in San Diego

Flight deck on the Midway


Hospital ship in San Diego Harbour




Balboa Park in San Diego


Civil War re-enactment at Yuma




We also discovered the Sonoran Lady they call the desert. We took a few trips to Quartzsite. Once to participate in Bloggerfest, and of course to see the 'Big Tent'. Then we moved the trailer up there on February 1 and spent two wonderful weeks in the desert. So much to see and do in that area, and of course a whole lot of people to get to know!

Bloggerfest

Quartzsite desert camping

Off-road racing at Parker, AZ


Hi Jolly Monument in Quartzsite

Burros near Parker 

RC Flying at Quartzsite



Boat races at Parker


Kofa Wildlife Refuge south of Quartzsite



The Palms in the Kofa Wildlife Refuge


Old gold mining camp near Quartzsite


Ironwood Tree


We took a trip to Mesa for a week or so. Metro areas are a bit hard to get used to after coming from the desert, but still we enjoyed a visit with family and many of the sites around the area. Then out to a gem.......the Superstition Mountains. We spent several days in the State Park and thoroughly enjoyed our stay. Hard to believe this is only a half hour from Mesa/metro Phoenix.

Mesa

Phoenix

Egret at wildlife refuge near Mesa


Camping at Superstition Mountain


Goldfield ghost town


View from the Superstition Mountains out toward the Phoenix area


Next stop was Quartzsite for a couple of days then up to Bullhead City, AZ just across the Colorado River from Laughlin, Nevada. We stayed here for the month of March. Again, so much to see in the area. We took side trips to Lake Havasu, Oatman, Needles, Chloride and Kingman. We also spent more time exploring Route 66 and the small towns along it's route.

Grand Canyon Caverns on Route 66 


Davis Dam near Bullhead City, AZ

Laughlin, Nevada

Chloride, AZ near Kingman.

Murals near Chloride

Kingman, AZ

Car show in Bullhead City


Elks Lodge in Kingman

County Court in Kingman

Roadrunner in our campground at Bullhead City

Burros in Oatman, AZ

Gunfight at Oatman

Cool Springs on Route 66 near Oatman


Petroglyphs at Grapevine Canyon west of Laughlin, NV


Colorado River between Bullhead City and Laughlin

Luaghlin, NV

London Bridge at Lake Havasu, AZ

Along Route 66 near Kingman


So then it was April and time to head toward home. We stopped for a few days in Las Vegas to see the sights and visited Red Rock Canyon. We then headed further north to escape the heat. Finicky weather caused some route changes but we managed to explore a bit of Utah. We discovered a couple of great little towns.....Fillmore and Delta, Utah and an area we will definitely explore again. A two day dash to the border and finally home to Red Deer.


Desert Tortoise at Red Rock Canyon west of Las Vegas

Red Rock Canyon



Near Virgin River Gorge on the Nevada - Utah border

Near Delta, UT

Fillmore, UT


County Court House in Fillmore, UT

Rockies north of Pocatello, ID

Near Butte, MT

Bow River in Calgary

Red Deer River


I started this blog around November 1, 2017 (thanks to Dianne and Deb for the push!) when we were in the Page, AZ area. I had been thinking of recording our travels for quite a while and now I really wish I would have started years ago. Not just as an update to friends and family but for us to help remember the trips we have taken and the locations, activities and people we met. Shoulda, woulda, coulda.......but didn't. So now I have started and so glad I did. The blog is a lot of work, but worth the effort. I'll continue but likely have some sporadic posts. It's not that Central Alberta is a boring place, just that I'm sure newsworthy activities won't be a daily occurrence and not sure how much travel we will be doing in the near term.

Thanks for following along.......and thanks so much for your words of encouragement.

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