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 …

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 …

Top Ten Pictures of 2016

A few days after I posted my Top Ten Pictures of 2015 I went into to look at the blog and I noticed the scaling on some of the pictures looked wrong … the cherries looked oblong and my sunflower picture didn’t look as good as it should. I mention this to my tech support … aka hubby and he took a look, sure enough there was something wrong. As far as he can tell the picture gets messed up when I add a caption, so for this blog I will put a description below the picture instead of a caption on the picture and hopefully that will fix the problem.

Hubby has also added a voting box at the bottom of each of our best photo posts … yup he is very techie savvy and I am so grateful. 🙂  Please feel free to vote for your best picture.  Below are some links to get you to each of the previous posts. I have to say as soon as he added the poll on the posts below we started getting votes and it was so much fun! If you click on view results you can see how the pictures are polling.

Top Ten Pictures Of 2015

Top Ten Pictures Of 2014

Top Ten Pictures Of 2013

So onto 2016 … seriously who goes to Sedona, Grand Canyon, and Antelope Canyon in Arizona, Zion National Park in Utah, and starts a trip across Canada all in the same year and expects to pick only ten pictures!!! This was the toughest year yet but we manage to cut it down to ten pictures. Here they are …

Serpent, Borrego Springs, California. Picture taken 17 February 2016.

Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, Arizona. Picture taken 27 February 2016.

Bell Tower/Courthouse Rock Hike, Sedona, Arizona. Picture taken 29 February 2016

Sunrise at the South Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona. Picture taken 05 March 2016

Antelope Canyon #1, Page, Arizona. Picture taken 07 March 2016

Antelope Canyon #2, Page, Arizona. Picture taken 07 March 2016. Try as we might we just could not narrow Antelope Canyon down to one picture!

Entrance to tunnel, Zion National Park, Utah. Picture taken 08 March 2016.

Kakabeka Falls, near Thunder Bay, Ontario. Picture taken 24 August 2016.

Sunset, Old Sacramento, Sacramento, California. Picture taken 18 November 2016. You didn’t think I would miss having a sunset picture did you? 😀

Sunset at Font Point #1, Borrego Springs, California. Picture taken 29 November 2016. Hubby and I actually disagreed on which photo of Font’s Point to put in, but it’s my blog so I reined supreme! 🙂

So there are our 2016 choices. Please feel free to vote using hubby’s new polling station. And just because we had such a hard time choosing and I did love hubby’s choice as well, I will give it an honorable mention, and let you decide which one you like best.

Sunset at Font Point #2, Borrego Springs, California.


Just for fun hubby and I are adding a little side bet to this post … which Sunset at Font’s Point do you like best, my choice or hubby’s choice … and as you can see hubby reins supreme when it comes to making up the poll!  Don’t be swayed by his undue influence. 😀

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 …

Antelope Island State Park, Syracuse, Utah

After touring Salt Lake City we drove out to Antelope Island and spent a few hours touring the island. There is a fee of $10.00 per car load (up to eight people) to enter the park; if you are camping on the island the fee is $30.00 per night.

Antelope Island is the largest island in Great Salt Lake and is home to bison, bighorn sheep, mule deer, and pronghorn antelope. We also saw a bobcat and were told there are coyotes, badger, owls, hawks and falcons.

Mule Deer

We had no trouble spotting the bison, in 1893 twelve bison were brought into the park and were the beginning of todays herd, which is now at 500 to 700! Every year in the fall the park holds an annual bison roundup to assess the health of the herd and sell off extra animals. I wonder how they decide which bison to sell? It makes me think of the poor turkey who was invited for Christmas dinner thinking he was a guest, these poor bison think someone is checking them over to make sure their health is okay and all of the sudden they end up as a Bison Burger 😦

Little herd of bison

Big herd of bison

This guy jumped out of the gully to cross the road just as we came around the corner … he could have done some damage!

 Antelope Island is also home to Bridger Bay swimming beach. The shore of this beach is made up of Oolitic sand which are round grains of sand formed when mineral grains or brine shrimp fecal pellets are coated by concentric layers of aragonite, a form of calcium carbonate. Okay I’m not fond of walking on fecal matter but I also read that this is similar to how pearls are formed and I have to admit the sand was pretty neat. Bridger Bay is also popular because the water is so buoyant that people can easily float.

There are many hiking trails on the island and we plan on returning in the future to stay at the campground and do some hiking. On this trip we spent our time driving the roads on the island and admiring the great views and animals.

Until next time …

Salt Lake City, Utah

We settled into our spot at Great Salt Lake State Park for $20.00 a night, which included power, water, and awesome Wi-Fi. Our space is not what you would expect for a state park, we are camped along the shores of Great Salt Lake in one of five RV spots at the marina.

Our spot among a few RV’s and sailboats.

We had a great view of Antelope Island from our site! See tomorrow’s blog.

However for what we are getting for our $20.00 we are not complaining. Great Salt Lake is a remnant of prehistoric Lake Bonneville, which covered more than 20,000 square miles. Today the lake is around 75 miles long and 35 miles wide and averages 13 feet deep, although in areas it can be up to 35 feet deep. It is the largest lake between the Great Lakes and the Pacific Ocean, and is the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere.

Four rivers and many streams empty into the Great Salt Lake but the lake has no outlet, which causes a high concentration of salt when the water evaporates. Water evaporates at almost the same rate as water comes into the lake, which allows the lake to remain at 4,200 feet above sea level most of the time. The Dead Sea has a salt level of 33%, north Great Salt Lake has a salt level of 25% and south Great Salt Lake has a salt level of 14%, the ocean only has a salt level of 3.5%.

Fish cannot tolerate the high saline levels in Great Salt Lake but brine shrimp, brine fly larvae, and algae thrive in the lake and provide a good food source for many species of birds.

After lunch we took a drive into Salt Lake City with a population of 191,180 (2013) in the city and 1,153,340 (2014) in the entire metropolitan area. Salt Lake City is Utah’s state capital and is bordered by the Great Salt Lake and the snow-capped peaks of the Wasatch Range.

Pretty impressive building that sits atop a hill overlooking Downtown Salt Lake City.

The State Capital building

Salt Lake City is home to the headquarters of the Mormon Church with is located downtown on the 10-acre Temple Square which is also home to the 19th-century Salt Lake Temple. The well known Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs in the square’s domed Tabernacle. We tried to find a parking spot so that we could walk around Temple Square but didn’t have any luck … perhaps next time. We were able to find a parking spot in front of Salt Lake City’s City Hall, which was also very impressive.

Until next time …

Utah Highways

We are really impressed with the roads in Utah so far. Today’s trip took us up I-15 and it was smooth with only a few gentle hills. This is pretty unusual for most of the interstates we have travelled; they are normally very rough and sometimes hard on Maxx’s innards.

Interstate 15 … not really happy about all the snow on the hills 😦

The roads in Zion National Park are a pretty red.

Although the speed limit on I-15 is 80mi, 130km, an hour we sure saw a lot of vehicles pulled over by highway patrol!

We spent last night at Camp Walmart in Springville, Utah and it turned out to have an added bonus, there was a Mongolian Grill within walking distance and hubby and I love a good Mongolian Grill!

Lot’s of snow!

Today we are headed into Salt Lake City where we plan to spend two nights at a State Park on Great Salt Lake.

Until next time …

Hurricane, Utah

We enjoyed our time at Zion National Park but unfortunately we could only get a campsite for three nights so we decided to spend a night in Hurricane, Utah.

A very pretty drive!

Hurricane is a half hour south west of the national park and a short drive to St. George, Utah where there is a Costco. Along with free Wi-Fi and close proximity to shopping, Hurricane was the logical choice. We chose to stay at the Willow Wind RV Park but it wasn’t cheap, $45.00 a night with our Good Sam Discount, and we had to sign a two page, small print, contract! The park was decent with lots of trees and great Wi-Fi but not much room between sites. I don’t think we will be back here again.

Our day was spent picking up groceries and planning stops for the rest of our trip home which is why we needed good Wi-Fi. Looking at the weather forecasts for our future stops I think today maybe one of the last day’s I will be able to wear shorts, but no fear, the flip flops are not coming off!

We had planned on spending another thirteen days to travel home but after looking at the weather we have decided to cut out some stops and arrive home around March 18th.

Until next time …

Zion National Park, Utah

Again the weather has cooperated and we were able to head to Zion National Park to do some more hiking. Last month when I checked for space at the campsites in the park there was lots of room but now spring break has hit for school children and the park quickly filled up. We took a chance and drove up to Watchman Campsite, which takes reservations and has power hookup, in the hopes that maybe someone didn’t show up for their reservation … and we were in luck! We manage to get a site for three nights.

Just after we entered the park from Springdale, Utah.

Our first order of business was to drive through the 1.1 mile tunnel. Our trip from Page, Arizona to Zion National Park would have been much shorter if we took the more direct route, which would take us through the tunnel and down a road with six hairpin turns and a severe descent. It didn’t take much thought before we decided to take a slightly longer route and avoid the tunnel, but we did want to see it.

The roads are red and fit in well with the landscape ☺

The trip through the tunnel was interesting; it is very dark and occasionally punctuated with windows.

Once we came through the tunnel we were lucky enough to find a parking spot near the trailhead of the Canyon Overlook Trail.

Tunnel opening at the east end from the Canyon Overlook Trail.

The beginning of the trail has stairs going up the hill.

Most of the trail has railings along the steep canyon side but there are areas that have a sharp drop into the canyon below. I was too busy watching my footing to take pictures of those areas 🙂

This was the one area where they have built a wooden bridge around a large rock outcrop so that hikers could continue further up the trail.

View from the Canyon Outlook of the road up to the tunnel.

As we turned a corner on our way back down the trail we saw a group of three mountain sheep climb up the sheer rock walls, it was amazing to see and way more interesting to watch than take pictures. I was lucky enough to get a picture of mama sheep looking down at me from an outcrop above our heads.

Hubby hiked back up the trail and got this great shot of mama and baby looking for daddy sheep 🙂

At the top of the stairs down to the road we could see a bus heading through the tunnel. Units 11 feet 4 inches tall or 7 feet 10 inches wide can go through the tunnel but they have to wait for the rangers to close the tunnel down and then they drive right through the middle. There is a $15.00 fee to do this.

There is not a lot of room at the top of that bus!

Until next time …

Happy Birthday Maxx

Maxx is three years old today and he is spending his birthday at Watchman Campground in Zion National Park.

Maxx sunning himself at Watchman Campground in Zion National Park, Utah 🙂

I think he looks as good today as he did the day we brought him home 🙂

During his three years Maxx has travelled over 41,000mi, 66,000km, through three provinces and thirteen states.

Over the three years we have made a few additions:

  • Increased his batteries from a single 12-volt battery to six 6-volt batteries.
  • Mounted four solar panels on his roof.
  • Installed a 2000-watt inverter with transfer switch.
  • Mounted a Wi-Fi extender to his TV antenna.
  • Installed a three-stage water filtration system.
  • Installed a Bluetooth audio system.
  • Installed wiring for a back-up camera (although we still haven’t installed the camera, that’s a job hubby has planned for when we return home).
  • Put two furniture-moving disks under the bed to help it slide without damaging the carpet.
  • Put a collapsible shoe holder, meant to hang in your cupboard, along side the bed where it is out of sight but holds a lot of flip-flops J.
  • Installed an LED light strip under the awning.
  • Placed a side table that we found at a Fred Myers, between our two chairs.
  • Hung a 32 inch 12-volt TV in the bedroom.

Of course with two and a half years of living in Maxx full time he has needed a few repairs and some general upkeep:

  • We gave him two new shoes last summer and will probably replace his other two this summer.
  • Replaced the kitchen faucet because of calcium build-up. We replaced the old faucet with a Moen, which has a life time warranty … we will see how that works out for us.
  • Replaced the shut-off gate on the black-water tank.
  • Regreased wheel bearings, several times as general maintenance.
  • Replaced the lighting under Maxx’s lower kitchen cabinets and under our stair treads with LED lights.
  • Replaced the shelves in Maxx’s pantry with heavier shelving.
  • Beefed up the drawer under the couch so that it could hold more weight.
  • Replaced the upper and lower bearing blocks on one side of the bedroom slide.

And that’s about it, not bad for living in Maxx full time!

Other than the bedroom slide problem, all our other maintenance has been routine and done when we have had the time. The bedroom slide became an issue as I was putting it in after a weekend camping trip with our daughter and her family. We were at a BC Provincial Park, which has a checkout time of 11:00 a.m. and we certainly didn’t make that! Fortunately it was still early in the season so people weren’t waiting for our site. Hubby and our son-in-law had some struggles trying to get the slide in so that we could get home and at one point we had to send in one of our grandson’s, through a small passage, to unlock the emergency window so that hubby could climb into the bedroom. It took some time, and more than a few choice words, but they got the slide in and we headed back to our daughter’s place, were the slide worked perfectly when we put it back out. Once hubby had the new parts in hand it didn’t take him long to get the slide back in perfect running order.

The other part of the slide story is that we do have an extended warranty and I thought we should just have someone come and fix the slide, but as hubby pointed out, they probably would not have come out to the campsite right away and would most likely want us to bring the unit into the shop so that they could work on it. When you are living in your unit full time it is hard to move out so that someone can work on it, so I am very happy that I am married to someone who is able to fix these problems on his own.

Although we do look at new units and different layouts we have no plans to replace Maxx. He has served us well and we still love our full-time lifestyle J

Until next time …