2019 – 2020 Snowbird Year Wrap Up

Despite all our best efforts we did hit snow this year, fortunately Maxx wasn’t with us … remember he was chillin at the side of the road in Nevada while we had to drive into Utah for parts to fix our wheel.

Over the past six months:

We spent time in seven states (Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Idaho).

We covered 6,196 mi (9,972 km), once again down from previous years. Our first winter away still showed the most distance when we travelled 14,093 mi (22,663 km) from Kelowna, B.C. to Key West, Florida.

We spent $1,681 on fuel compared to $2,152 in 2018/2019, $2,719 2017/2018; $2,150 in 2016/2017; $1,526 in 2015/2016; $2,350 in 2014/2015; and $5,041 in 2013/2014.

On average we paid $3.047 a gallon for diesel; down from $3.252 a gallon in 2018/2019 but up from $2.598 in 2017/2018, $2.514 in 2016/2017, $2.096 in 2015/2016, and but still down from $3.128 in 2014/2015, $3.813 in 2013/2014.

The most expensive diesel was $3.839 in Susanville, California. California was home to our most expensive fuel last year when we paid $4.249 per gallon in Rio Del; our cheapest diesel was $2.169 in at Sams Club in Bullhead City, Arizona, which is down from last year when our cheapest diesel was $2.459 in Yuma, and can you believe in 2016 we only paid $1.559 per gallon in Yuma, AZ!

It is nice to be able to walk around the campground.

We are finally having a sunny, almost warm, day … I just want spring to arrive but old man winter doesn’t seem to want to let go 😄

There are a few signs that spring may be approaching.

The COVID-19 virus sure brought a crazy end to a wonderful winter. We hope all of you and your families stay healthy, do your part to self isolate, and that this pandemic is over soon!

Some of the Oregon Grape are about to flower.

Until next time …

Another Day, More Miles

It was a long day yesterday and we drove another six hours once hubby had Maxx up and running.

We had nice clear roads!

The roads and weather were great so we were happy to get in some miles and finally called it quits just after 8:00 p.m. in Jackpot, Nevada. About a half hour out of Jackpot we started getting light snow, the roads were still okay but we were a little worried about not finding a place to stay because it was definitely time to stop for the night. We pulled into Cactus Pete’s Casino and noticed there was still room in the parking lot, but since it was cold and snowing we thought we would take a drive around their RV Park and guess what? We manage to snag the last spot and only $20.00 a night 😄 It was nice to have power for the night and we were happy to have a spot in case it didn’t stop snowing and we had to stay another night.

We were a little concerned when we left Ely, NV and had this view out my side window.

But this was the view out the windshield and the temperature was in the mid 40F so we figured we were okay to continue.

This is how our drive started.

So on to today. The snow stopped shortly after we arrived last night and the temperature was 0C (32F) when we headed out just after 8:00 a.m. We would have delayed our start even longer but Jackpot was expecting snow to start at 10:00 and we only needed to make it a half hour to Twin Falls, ID where the weather was much better. This weather was the reason we wanted to make it past Jackpot last night but plans sometime change without any approval from us so we made do … and it worked out, the roads were bare and dry and the temperature quickly picked up.

Oh oh a little more snow but roads are still dry. I forgot to take a picture but five minutes later the snow was gone and the temperature was up 4C (38F).

Today we drove through Nevada (okay only half an hour but I’m counting it :-)), Idaho, Oregon, and Washington! We hope to make it to Omak, WA tonight and then it will be a short drive home tomorrow.
I know there are those of you who are probably thinking what’s the rush, stay put, slow down, it doesn’t need to be a mad exit from the country. Well for many of us it does, and not because of the media hype about the border closing down. We have absolutely no concern that Canada will refuse us entry, even if we were sick, and we are not. The real problem is that most of us carry additional medical coverage while we are out of Canada and most insurance companies have given us until March 23 to be back in Canada, at which time our coverage will expire. Now there is some leeway if you have a valid reason for not making it back but let’s face it, insurance companies are hard to get money from, so I don’t want to have to fight them if something happens and we need medical coverage after March 23rd.

An interesting gorge in Twin Falls, ID.

It was clear sailing once we hit I—84, a perfect driving day.

I did get an email from the Canadian Snowbird Association and if you have medical coverage through them they have chosen not to put in an end date. We get our medical coverage through my pension and it’s better coverage and cheaper plus we had planned to leave on Tuesday anyway so, I’m okay with the March 23rd date … even after our breakdown yesterday.

It was beautiful in Oregon!

We are going back as Volunteer Park Hosts at Bear Creek Provincial Park and it opens on March 27th, if it opens. Who knows right now with all the closures going on, and I just read this morning that Ontario has closed down it’s provincial parks until the end of April so I expect that will also happen in BC. Based on what we knew when we started our trip home we felt we needed to be home as soon as possible because we also need to self isolate for two weeks. Whether the park opens or not at this point we just want to be at home and we are not that far away now!

And still sunny and warm in Washington!

So I guess what I’m babbling on about is we all have our reasons for hurrying home or staying put and I respect that and wish you all safe and healthy travels 😄
And sadly the flip flops came off this morning 😦 It wasn’t a lot of fun standing in the snow covered grass last night with my flip flops so I finally gave in and put on my boots this morning … but have no fear! I put my flip flops in the truck and as soon as we crossed into Idaho I ditched the boots and put my flip flops back on. I know they will probably come off again tomorrow when we get home, but let me have today 😁

Until next time …

Into Montana

Before we left home hubby did some research and decided that our best route from Sandpoint, ID to Butte, MT was to take Highway 200 into Missoula and then join up with I-90. Highway 200, a two-lane highway, follows a valley along the river and rail tracks and has light traffic and pretty scenery. Taking this route allowed us to avoid a high pass west of Missoula on I-90.As we entered Montana the road continued to provide little traffic and great scenery. The only other concern we had with taking this route was forest fires, but other than a deserted fire camp we didn’t see any signs of fire so that was good. But all that good stuff came to an abrupt stop two miles east of Missoula 😦  All of the sudden I heard hubby say some not so nice words and then he quickly pulled over to the side of I-90, all we could see was smoke billowing out the rear drivers side of Maxx.

On closer inspection hubby found that a bearing had let go on the rear driver side tire and shot the tire out damaging Maxx as it went.  Once that happen a frame piece dropped down on the front tire destroying it.

A Good Samaritan picked up our tire and brake drum assembly, he then continued to drive along I-90 until he found us … we couldn’t be more grateful!  Other than missing it’s center cap the tire is fine which is awesome because it was a brand new tire that had just been replaced last week!

Fortunately we travel with safety triangles and safety vests so we don the vests and put out the triangles. I called Good Sam Roadside Assistance while hubby tried to wave traffic over; we definitely were not in a good location.Good Sam said they would get someone out to help us but in the meantime told us to call highway patrol which hubby did.

Now I wish it was easy after that but it took highway patrol an hour and a half, and two phone calls, to show up but they did finally send Fish and Game out (they arrived about ten minutes before Highway Patrol). It was great to finally have some flashing lights and people were moving over, but once Highway Patrol arrived they said we were fine without them!  We were inside the white line (by a fraction) and we had our safety triangles up so we had done everything right. We were told to stay on the other side of the guardrail until the tow truck came and we would be fine!

Good Sam also called around that time and said someone should be out soon to help us. Two hours after our initial call for help Timberline Truck and Trailer showed up and we honestly can’t say enough about how great RW was! He took a look at the damage and said we would need a tow truck so he could get Maxx into his shop and put in a new rear axel. Forty-five minutes later Iron Horse towing arrived with a flat deck truck to tow both the truck and Maxx to the shop. Again we can’t say enough about the tow truck operator either. It took the two guys and hubby to get Maxx fixed up enough to drive him on to the flat deck and that all happened with traffic flying by at 70 to 80 miles an hour! I was doing my best to try and get traffic to move into the other lane but it was scary, I sure feel for tow truck drivers and emergency vehicles …. FOR HEAVEN SAKES PEOPLE SLOW DOWN AND PULL OVER!Finally we were all loaded and headed back to Timberline were they had told us we could spend the night and they would fix Maxx in the morning.

While I felt Good Sam Roadside Assistance took a long time getting help to us, they honestly could not have sent better help and Iron Horse towing said they had received the $600.00 payment for towing before he even got back to the shop with Maxx!
Hopefully everything goes smoothly today and we are back on the road soon.

Just because I can’t bear to end this blog on a crappy note I will leave you with a picture of the pretty wildflowers along the side of the road where we broke down.And that promise I made to stop drinking, yup that went out the window again last night, I definitely deserved the glass of wine I had before bed!

Until next time …

An Easy Border Crossing

We woke up to a beautiful fall day with bright blue sky, I really wish we had this weather yesterday!

Farewell Niece, thanks for a great visit. ☺

After an hour and a half we arrived at the US Border. This was our first time crossing at the Border on Highway 6 and it was a little different from crossing at our usual place in Osoyoos, B.C. Unlike our usual crossing this crossing was a very small station with no tourist facilities (such as duty free). We were asked the usual questions, other than an added question about prescription drugs, which we were able to say no to, and surprisingly we were not asked about fruit or produce. Once we had answered the questions the agent asked for the keys to Maxx, which was also new to us, usually they ask us to open all the slides and check the fridge during the agriculture inspection. This time the agent opened the door and stuck her head in, that was it, and we were sent on our way … easy peasy 🙂

We saw wild turkeys and deer along our travels.

We arrived in Sandpoint, Idaho a few hours later and went to set up at Sandy Point Recreation Area which, according to their website, was supposed to be open until Tuesday but when we arrived it was closed! Hubby was able to speak to someone who worked at the park and he was completely useless! When hubby mentioned the website said they were open until Tuesday his response was “I don’t work for the internet”! How is that for customer service 😦

After that episode we decide to go back to our tried and true and set up at Walmart, which really worked out better because it was closer to town and free, but we had to give up an evening on the lake.

How is this for a Walmart view!

We got set up, did some grocery shopping and then set out to revisit Sandpoint. The last time we were in Sandpoint was twenty-five years ago with our three children and both hubby and I thought it was awesome, I’m pretty sure our children don’t even remember the visit 🙂 Our drive through town this time was a little disappointing, the town just doesn’t have the vibe it did twenty-five years ago 😦  After touring around and a stop at the Visitor Info Booth, which was closed, hubby suggested we make a stop at Mick Duffs Brewing Company and try out some craft beers … he seems to forgotten my solemn promise as we crossed the border to stop drinking, eat properly and loose some weight … actually I guess I quickly forgot that promise as well!!!

Anyway it was a good stop and we enjoyed some excellent craft beers. I fell in love with the Red, White, and Sour which is an Ale aged in a Chardonnay cask …

Hubby likes the Mercia Wheat beer ….

And I also fell in love with the Huckleberry Blonde, which is blonde ale with huckleberry puree added when they pour the glass.

This was a fun craft brewery because it had the added bonus of being a BYOF … which means bring your own food, how cool is that! We didn’t bring any food but a large table arrived shortly after us with six pizza boxes and settled in for a dinner with beer.

After our time at Mick Duff’s we tried to head down to the lake for a walk, but despite several attempts due to road construction we were unable to get there. We finally gave up and headed back to Maxx for dinner.

The Pend Oreille River

Sunset over Lake Pend Oreille

I will leave you with what I though was a pretty cool thing about Sanpoint, ID … they have a bus service called The Spot and it is free, anywhere in the city, now that is pretty cool!

Until next time …

Well That’s Not Good :-(

For the past week I have been carefully monitoring the weather for our trip north and I knew a cold front was coming but our travel plans had us ahead of it. Well that all changed when we arrived in Butte, Montana. Originally we planned to spend last night in Idaho Falls, Idaho but as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog they had heavy wind warnings, which didn’t bode well for our drive the next day. When I double-checked the weather forecast for Butte it looked okay for yesterday and today but starting tomorrow they had snowfall warnings and cold temps for the next week. So it seemed okay to spend the night in Butte and then move onto Missoula today, but what actually happened wasn’t so good! Apparently the weather front was in a hurry and we woke up to a winter wonderland this morning.

So we snuggled under the covers with our coffee and killed time until the snow melted on the roads. During that time hubby checked the I-90 highway information and cameras and it appeared the passes were clear in our direction of travel. The front was coming from the south and heading north east with Butte in the center and we were heading north west. We really didn’t want to hunker down in Butte for a week waiting out the snow so once the road cleared we headed out. All was well until we were about 20 miles west of Butte.

It started to snow … that wasn’t suppose to happen!

And then it really came down!

That fun event lasted for about forty-five minutes. At one point, when the snow started sticking to the ground, we considered pulling off at a rest stop but hubby was worried we would be buried in snow and stuck there for a week. The roads weren’t slippery so he felt we should continue on and, since I trust his driving, I agreed. It turned out that was a good decision as the snow stopped about a mile after the rest stop and by the time we pulled in to Missoula, Montana the roads were almost dry.

Maxx had a cute face on his front cap when we stopped at the gas station.

So now the next decision was, do we stay in Missoula or carry on to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho? Originally the plan was to stay in Missoula but it looked like the snow in Butte may be head toward Missoula tomorrow, so we decided to take a chance and move on. Again the travel gods were with us because, other than a one pass, the drive into Coeur D’Alene was fine.

But things weren’t looking up 😦  Unfortunately the Passport America RV Park I had picked out in Coeur D’Alene for our two-day stay was a bust, we felt safer staying in a Walmart parking lot. Off we went to the nearest Walmart, but their parking lot was small, crowded and backed right onto I-90. We decided Coeur D’Alene just wasn’t welcoming us, so we headed off to a Walmart along Highway 2 on the south side of Spokane, Washington. Finally after seven and a half hours, and three states, we were finally settled in for the night!

Hopefully, now that we are through the mountain passes, it’s clear sailing from here on home … after a stop in Chelan, Washington 🙂

Until next time …

Goodbye Utah

After six nights in Utah we moved on with the intent of spending last night in Idaho Falls, Idaho but a look at weather forecasts had us scrapping that plan.

Utah did give us a beautiful sunrise for our last day!

Idaho Falls had a wind warning in effect starting today and the passes between Idaho Falls and Butte, Montana had some snow warnings. Both of those warning were enough for us to drive another three and a half hours into Butte and it worked out well as we missed all the problem weather … that’s the beauty of jello solid plans 🙂

On our drive yesterday we hit the first rain we have seen since our drive from Phoenix to Yuma last November, but a least we didn’t hit snow and it did get rid of all the bugs on the windshield. We did drive through a pass with snow on the sides of the interstate but it wasn’t long before we dropped in elevation and drove through farming land.

At least the roads were dry.

Shortly after the snow started to disappear we came across a large farm with about 250 head of cattle and it looked like each cow had a very new calf beside her. They were so cute to watch that I forgot to take picture!

We also saw more wildlife between Salt Lake City and Butte than we have seen on any of our travels. I saw a very cute red fox right beside the road in Utah, and hubby pointed out four elk and two large herds of antelope in Montana. I don’t have a single picture to show off but I have the memories 🙂

After we set up at Camp Walmart we had a great dinner at Metals Sports Bar located in downtown Butte in the Metals Bank and Trust building built in 1907. The restaurant features the original tellers line and a very impressive bank vault, which is now used as a private dinning room.

Until next time …