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 …

A Few Last Pictures

We are all settled in at the campground and are into day three of our fourteen day Self Isolation. I did post signs on the Camp Host sign at the front of our site, the pamphlet rack bulletin board, and on the door window of Maxx, saying that we had just returned from the US and were in self isolation until April 2nd. BC Parks did close all their parks until April 30th and the gates of the park are locked, but people still find ways to come in and wander around. In previous years they have knocked on the door with their questions on how to get sites, or when is the campground opening, so I wanted to make it clear that we wouldn’t be able to talk to them expect through the closed window of the RV.

Park Lake on Highway 17, Washington.

I also finally manage to convince our mobile provider that I was unable to go into our local store and show them my ID … they really don’t need this since we already have an account with them for our home line which we do not suspend in the winter. So at least I have some data which we can use for the next two weeks.

We had a beautiful sunset on our last night in the US.

Other than that we have been pretty lazy the last few days and today wasn’t any different. Tomorrow I want to start doing a deep clean on the inside of the RV and if nobody is around hubby will start on the outside.

It was very comforting to see Okanagan Lake on our way home.

But for now we are enjoying our self isolation … I hope wherever you are you are safe and healthy and enjoying your day 😄

Until next time …

Back In Kelowna 🙂

I’m so sorry if I scared some of you when I didn’t post yesterday, we made it home safely just before noon and despite all the time I spent on the phone with our mobile service provider my phone, which has our data, did not hook-up. And then today is a weekend so I couldn’t call in until 9:00 a.m. and then of course it still didn’t work but fortunately our daughter dropped groceries off for us at the gate of the park and I was able … from a very long distance … to use their data to post this.

We are still healthy and so very happy to be home. We officially started our fourteen day isolation at 9:00 a.m. yesterday morning after we crossed the border and are honestly looking forward to some time to decompress after the last three days.

In the last three and a half days we have driven 2,538 km (1,577 mi), visited seven states … Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah (definitely not planned!), Idaho, Oregon, and Washington … and one glorious province, British Columbia 😄

So let’s catch you up from where I left off on Thursday. The weather and the roads continued to be great so our drive went through Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, and up to Northern Washington where we parked in the Walmart parking lot. Walmart was not our first choice but it was what we got, and the parking lot was FULL of RVs! Good thing there were very few shoppers and the store closed early so there was lots of room for all of us.

And before you get all freaked out about us spending time in Washington state, I checked the CDC stats and there are no cases of COVID-19 in Omak or it’s surrounding county. As well we have not been in contact with anyone since we left Napa in Enterprise, Utah Wednesday afternoon. Well other than the border crossing guard and he kept a very long distance!

It was an interesting trip and the second time we have done this route. But what we find so funny about this route is that the first time we did it was our first year on the road back in November 2013 and because of weather we did it in three days as well. Well actually two and half, as we went to Las Vegas and then headed east across to Florida, but basically if we had gone to Yuma that first year it would have been three days. Someday we may get the chance to take the whole route at a slower pace 😄

For those of you coming behind us I hope you take comfort in knowing our border crossing was easy … even easier than most years! We were asked the usual question about how long we were away and were we over on any of our exemptions.

We were then asked “Where are you headed?” In our case it was only a two hour drive from the border and generally most people in Canada can get home in one day but I’m curious to know what he would have said if we would not have arrived home to begin self isolation that first day. In fact I’m curious to know how people would self isolate immediately upon arrival in Canada if they live to far from the border and can’t get home that first day.

The next question was “Do you have enough food for 14 days?” We have no fresh vegetables or very few frozen ones, very few eggs and milk, because of course stores are running low on those items. Our daughter offered, a few days ago, to pick up what we needed and drop it off at the gate of the park (the park is not open yet). I gave her a list but she wasn’t able to find us any fresh or frozen veggies either 😦 Again I’m curious what the crossing guard would have said if we had nobody to shop for us?

The last comment was “I know you have been gone for a long time but you can’t see anyone until you have to self isolate for 14 days.” I got a smile when I told him FaceTime was a wonderful thing. We were provided with a pamphlet and sent on our way with a smile.

I had a large bag that hubby held open so that the border guard could put our nexus cards and pamphlet in. I figured even though the border guard was wearing gloves those gloves had held passports from who knows how many people before he touched ours. I even read the pamphlet with my own gloves on.

If I had my own data I would have posted some pictures including one of the pamphlet, but I don’t want to use up all of our daughter’s data. Basically the pamphlet didn’t tell you any more than you probably already know.

So we are home, set-up at the campground, and self isolating for fourteen days while trying to deal with my mobile phone … yup that was one wrinkle I could have done without!

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 …

A Beautiful Fall Day

When we left Chelan, WA at 8:30 this morning it was 16C (60.8F) and sunny, we couldn’t have asked for better weather on our first day in the states.

It was so nice outside this morning that I wandered around with my coffee and played with the squirrels.

We headed down the west side of the Okanagan River toward Wenatchee.

This tunnel always freaks me out! Even though I know it is high enough for Maxx I still duck my head 🙂

But the view as you come out is very pretty.

We took Eastmont Avenue instead of Highway 28 through East Wenatchee. We remember when they built the new section of Eastmont and always wondered where it went, but never did take a drive and check it out when we were in Wenatchee without the RV. Hubby checked out google maps before we left and found out that it bypasses all the stop and go on Highway 28 through East Wenatchee and it turned out to be a great, and very pretty, route.

Wenatchee, Washington

We eventually joined back up with Highway 28, headed over toward Quincy, WA and then down to I90, turned onto I82 and headed through Yakima, WA. We prefer this route as it avoids Blewett Pass, takes the same amount of time, and we have never crossed the pass without hitting snow.

The snow is pretty on the mountain and that’s were we hope it stays!

We had great weather and roads for our entire trip today and had to stop at a rest stop to change from our sweaters to short sleeves because the temperatures we in the mid 70F (24C)

We spent the night near Rufus, OR at a COE Park just below the John Day Dam. It was a great free location and will become a regular stop when we travel this route in the future.

This was our view at the first place we stopped and while it was entertaining we decided it was a little too windy.

So we moved over to this little bay and it was perfect. This is our view from our chairs outside our front door … you can’t beat this for a free nights stay!

Until next time …

And Another Snowbird Year Begins 🙂

We left Kelowna in the cold drizzle with hints of fresh snow on the tops of the surrounding hills … but I’m still in flip flops. I had on jeans, a sweater, and a warm winter jacket, but I still had my flip flops on … not sure how long the flip flops will last but I’m making the effort 🙂

Goodbye Kelowna, we will miss you!

Our border crossing was easy peasy. We were asked the usual questions about alcohol, drugs, tobacco, firearms, and money. Then he asked if we had any “fruits or vegetables” to which I responded I had frozen mangos and frozen peas and, as I expected, he had no problem with those.

Goodbye fall colours, you are pretty but we are heading toward greener pastures 🙂

We were then sent through for our agricultural inspection where she looked through the fridge, as usual (and the eggs were no problem), but after that she checked all the other cupboards and also went into the bathroom … they have never checked the bathroom before. With a compliment on the layout of our bathroom she was off and running to the next RV.

There wasn’t much traffic on the highway.

I’m not sure if it because we have done this for the past seven winters, or if luck was on our side, but this seemed to be our easiest crossing yet and it took less than twenty minutes. We were quick at the border and both our cell phones started up right away when I put in our US sim cards. And suspending my Canadian cell phone went relatively well also, other than being transferred back to the same department a few times, but since the rest went so easy (and cheaply) I’m willing to overlook that!

Penticton, BC

Our plan was to spend the night in Omak, WA but we got away earlier than planned so we continued on to Chelan, WA, which will bring today’s long drive (four hours) down to a more manageable three hours 😀

We had to empty our garbage can before we crossed the border because I had dumped some vegetables in last night, so we stopped at Vaseux Provincial Park. This is a very small park right on the lake and also right on the highway, but honestly I couldn’t have asked for a nicer final picture of Canada before we crossed into the states!

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 …