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, and $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 Dell; 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.

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.

This is how our drive started.

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 …

We Left The Alamo :-)

Okay it was the small town of Alamo, Nevada where we spent last night. We had an easy drive once we left Las Vegas and were parked and set up before 6:00 p.m. … still a very long day for us!

Las Vegas, NV

The not so easy part of the day was finding a place to stay. Our plan was to stay at Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge which was free with absolutely beautiful sites along the lake, but it was full of Canadian RVers returning home. So our next option was to spend $35.00 and stay at the Alamo RV Park … nope that was also full. To be honest we expected that because the Rest Area and any other pull outs were full with RV’s. We had decided to drive another two hours to Ely, Nevada but just after we pulled back onto the highway we came across a decommissioned gas station with about ten RV’s set up. We quickly pulled in and within fifteen minutes the place was nearly full of Canadian’s heading home.

We woke up to 4C (39F) and clear sunny skies, yes we were happy campers as it was supposed to be below freezing and mixed rain and snow so this was definitely a bonus! We were on the road by 7:30 a.m., we each had our second cup of coffee with us, traffic was light, the sun was out … it was going to be such a good travel day! Notice I said it was going to be a good day, not it was a good day?

What is it with us and tires? I read other blogs about things that go wrong and I always thank god that we have gotten off pretty easy … except for tires. We were fifteen minutes down the road when hubby felt and saw, and I heard the woosh, of Maxx’s front driver’s side tire run like a bull back down the highway.

It was a pretty place to break down.

Once again luck was with us and we were able to safely pull off the highway, put on our safety vests, put out our traffic cones and assess the damage. So what happen? We, and by we I mean hubby, has no idea why but all six studs sheared off the tire. When the tire let loose it took out the wheel trim molding with it. Hubby found the trim in shattered pieces down the road but a guard rail had stopped our tire so we were able to retrieve it.

Then the problem was where to find new studs and lug nuts. We were about an hours drive from a Napa store in Caliente, Nevada (we phoned around Alamo but no luck) so we disconnected and left Maxx to fend for himself while we went in search of studs and hopefully a new tire … because god forbid with our tire luck we didn’t want to run without a spare if we could help it!

Good thing we don’t have to tow this way, there is definitely snow on the hills.

The guys at True Value – Napa in Caliente, NV where so helpful! They allowed hubby to use their tools to remove what was left of the studs and worked hard to find us new studs. No luck on the studs but they were able to find them at a True Value – Napa in Enterprise, UT another hour down the road.

It’s not looking nice as we head to Utah.

And it’s really not looking nice in Utah!

So seven hours later, and a lot of extra miles, we were back on the road. Unfortunately we were unable to get a new tire so we will have to do that when we hit a larger town.

We do have Good Sam Roadside Assistance and were super impressed with it when we had the axel blow out outside of Missoula, MT and we did discuss calling them, but in the end hubby decided it would be faster and cheaper to do the repair himself. Good Sam would have towed us back to Las Vegas and we would have been there overnight … that would be a backward move and we are forward movers 😄

At least we had beautiful weather in Nevada when we got back on the road!

I had more planned for today’s blog but this has gone on long enough, and who knows if we will have cell service at our stop tonight, so I will leave you here.

And just so you know I did send our youngest a son a text with the locations of Maxx and our route for parts to be on the safe side. I wanted our children to know where to pick up their inheritance if anything happened to us … and at the rate we are spending money on tires Maxx is about all they are going to get!

Until next time …

 

Yes We Are Healthy And On Our Way Home!

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

I was thrilled to come across this field of “shamrocks” when we drove down Avenue of the Giants a few years ago! Did you know that there is no such thing as a “Shamrock Plant”? The word shamrock comes from the Irish word seamrog meaning “little clover”.

I know all our family and friends are worried about us and don’t understand why we are not already back home and believe me we wish we were … but here is the wrinkle … trailers do not tow well in snow or on icy roads 😦 And while we both want to be home we also want to be home alive.

If the roads had allowed we would have left last week when our son’s planned visit was cancelled, but there were several storm fronts coming through and there was no safe route to take. As hubby always does, he has been monitoring our options and we planned on leaving this morning and fortunately things are still looking reasonably good so we are on our way home 🙂

Our hope is to be back in Canada by March 23rd, if not earlier, but we have a few days of possible snow coming up so it will be what it will be.

Our site looks so empty and lonely. Hubby planted my two bougainvillea along the fence so it will be interesting to see how they look next winter … I’m told many people don’t water them during the summer so we will see.

It always makes me feel loved when we leave the park and all our friends are outside to wave goodbye to us. It is sad to leave but I am always anxious to get home this time of year and see all our family and friends but never more than this year. Even hubby feels the same way because he is breaking his no more than three hours of driving in a day and we are going to put on some miles each day. We will just feel much better when we are home … albeit all alone, with maybe no food or toilet paper, for two weeks of self isolation … but hey at least we are home and I need to loose the cruise weight!

We have had so much rain this year so I expected to see lots of green and flowers along the way.

And I wasn’t disappointed the Ocotillo, which are one of my favorite cactus, are all in bloom.

We noticed along our drive today that almost all of the vehicles on the roads were Canadians heading home … just a long line of RV’s with Canadian plates. Even the poor fellow at the Border Patrol station was looking bored and waving everyone through with a “have a safe travel home” comment, a smile and a wave.

We did get stopped for construction and ended up shut down with some time to get out of the truck and stretch our legs.

Looking forward

Looking back

Nice to have the opportunity to stretch but not so nice to have a delay on a long driving day 😦 I think it added another half hour to our day.

But I got a few close-up flower pics 🙂

I don’t think we will have cell service where we are stopping tonight so I am posting this as we are leaving the Las Vegas around 3:00 p.m.  As of midnight all the casinos in Vegas closed down and if it wasn’t such a long travel day we might have towed the trailer down the strip just for $@#$ and giggles 😁

Of course there is a toilet paper shortage so we can’t afford the @#$ portion of that event!

But I will leave you with my thought of the day … Yesterday I ran into Walmart to pick up some milk before we headed out today and I noticed they were out of toilet paper, but also crackers, cereal, laundry soap, and milk. Now of course I was disappointed because I really wanted milk but what occurred to me on my drive home is that people are preparing to hunker down. While they are hunkered down they must plan on eating fibrous cereal which explains the need for all the milk, and crackers which also have fibre. Of course we all know what fibre does to a body so they will be spending lots of time on the toilet thus the need for so much toilet paper. Now most houses only have one or two bathrooms so some of the household members will have to wait for the bathroom and will have accidents and that explains why they need all the laundry soap. Of course this is just my theory 🙂

Until next time …

2018/2019 Snowbird Wrap-Up

Our year south started off with rainy, foggy weather.

We have been home for four weeks and have had fun catching up with family and friends, made a trip to Edmonton to visit our two sons and family, done numerous loads of laundry, and lot’s of little chores. In the next few weeks we will start washing Maxx both inside and out, and clean out cupboards and storage bays.

But after a few days the weather cleared up and we had a nice drive down the Washington and Oregon coasts.

Without a doubt the highlight of this winter’s travel was our trip to the Cook Islands! Hubby and I had so much fun and can’t say enough good things about the islands and the people. While tourism is a big economic driver to their economy the thing that impressed us the most is how little that affected island life. The locals made us feel very welcome but they were not going to build massive resorts, restaurants, and gift shops to cater to tourists … and we loved that! The island is so laid back and relaxing, definitely worth a visit.

Happy hour views don’t get much better than this!

Coming in for a landing over Aitutaki, Cook Islands.

Over the past six months:

  • We only travelled through five states (Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, and Nevada), way down from the thirteen states we hit last year!
  • We covered 7,504 mi (12,077 km), which is down 2,731mi (4,395 km) from 2017/2018 when we travelled 10,235 mi (16,430 km). In fact this was the least distance we have travelled since we hit the road five years ago.
  • We spent $2,152 on fuel compared to $2,719.54 2017/2018; $2,150.60 in 2016/2017; $1,526.24 in 2015/2016; $2,350.54 in 2014/2015; and $5,041.40 in 2013/2014.
  • On average we paid $3.252 a gallon for diesel; up significantly from $2.598 in 2017/2018, $2.514 in 2016/2017, $2.096 in 2015/2016, and $3.128 in 2014/2015, but down from $3.813 in 2013/2014.
  • The most expensive diesel was $4.249 per gallon in Rio Dell, California (California is always our most expensive fuel), last year our highest price was $3.589 per gallon in Lodi, California; our cheapest diesel was $2.459 per gallon in Yuma, Arizona, which is up from last year when our cheapest diesel was $2.259 also in Yuma, and can you believe in 2016 we only paid $1.559 per gallon in Yuma, AZ!

It’s nice to be home and plant our gardens.

And once again we had a great winter and are looking forward to a great summer at the park. Hubby and I have now spent five and a half years living full time in Maxx and we still love the life, and each other 🙂

Hubby found this stump the first year we arrived, I call it my pants stump …I think it looks like a butt with two legs 🙂

Until next time …

Goodbye Laughlin, NV – Hello Bakersfield, CA??

We needed to head back to I-40 for our trip to Bakersfield today and we had a couple of options on how to do that. We could head up towards Las Vegas and take I-15 down to I-40 but that was an additional eight-minute drive and we had done that route before. Another option was to head back through Laughlin towards Needles, which was the route we came in on and it was very rough just outside of Needles. That left crossing the river and driving through Bullhead City to Needles and onto I-40, and as you may remember from my last blog, we hate the stop and go through Bullhead City. But I found a way around that, we took the Bullhead Parkway which has a lot less traffic lights and moves quickly … it was definitely a good way to go 🙂

Once we were on I-40 the view was pretty much the same for the next three hours. We drove through the Mojave Desert and we were able to mark off one more section of I-40 that we have never driven before.

I’m not sure what these yellow flowers are in the picture below but they covered the desert around Barstow, CA.

Just to be on the safe side we decided to top up with fuel at one of our favorite stations, the Flying J in Tehachapi, CA. We like this station for the easy access and the separate RV fuel pumps and we also get a discount with our Good Sam card, which is a good thing because fuel is expensive in California, $3.59 a gallon for diesel, with our discount!

Where you wondering why there were question marks following Bakersfield in the title of today’s blog? Well our planned destination was a casino in Bakersfield but I suspected that hubby would change his mind and drive another hour to the casino in Lemoore, CA. Why did I think that? Well the last three times we have planned on spending the night in Bakersfield we have ended up in Lemoore … and I was right, today was no different 🙂 Not really sure why he doesn’t stop in Bakersfield, other than we are usually there in the early afternoon and there is not much to do in a Casino parking lot, we are not gamblers and I hate the smoke in casinos, so we usually push on. Yes we are still at a casino in Lemoore but we are spending an hour less in their parking lot … I don’t know, just go with me here!

Until next time …

Laughlin, NV Versus Bullhead City, AZ

Most of the people we know, and blogs we read, stay in Bullhead City, Arizona, which is right across the Colorado River from Laughlin, Nevada.

View of Laughlin from Bullhead City.

And another view of Laughlin

Beach along the Colorado River in Bullhead City.

Now we have nothing against Bullhead City but it is much cheaper, and we think more exciting, to stay in Laughlin, Nevada. Plus Bullhead City is spread out for miles down the highway and it takes forever to get anywhere there. Fortunately the only place we need to visit in Bullhead City is Sam’s Club and it is right across the river from where we are staying, so it takes less than ten minutes to get there.

Looking down Casino drive in Laughlin

And the flowers/trees are prettier here as well.

Tonight we went over to the casino for two of our free buffets and we were not impressed with the food 😦 Up until now we have always used our freebies for breakfast, so we thought it would be a nice treat to have dinner instead … lets just say we won’t do that again. The views and the service were excellent though!

That’s Bullhead City, Arizona on the other side of the Colorado River.

Until next time …