2016/2017 Snowbird Wrap-Up

We really enjoyed the scenery on our drive out to Mittry Lake near Yuma, Arizona.

We have been home for a week and have had fun catching up with family and friends, done numerous loads of laundry, and lot’s of little chores. In the next few days we will start washing Maxx both inside and out, and clean out cupboards and storage bays.

We enjoyed some of the most amazing sunsets this year!

It sure is nice to be back in our daughter’s driveway but that will change on Monday … stay tuned 🙂

I enjoyed photographing many pretty flowers this year 🙂

Over the past five months:

  • We covered 9,527 mi (15,522 km), up from 8,085 mi (13,012 km) in 2015/2016 and 9,451 mi (15,211 km) in 2014/2015; but down from 14,093 mi (22,680 km) in 2013/2014.
  • We spent $2,150.60 on fuel compared to $1,526.24 in 2015/2016, $2,350.54 in 2014/2015 and $5,041.40 in 2013/2014.
  • On average we paid $2.514 a gallon for diesel, up from $2.096 in 2015/2016 but down from $3.128 in 2014/2015 and $3.813 in 2013/2014!
  • The most expensive diesel was $2.959 per gallon in Alturas, CA; our cheapest diesel was $2.199 per gallon in Yuma, AZ, which is up from last year where we paid $1.559 per gallon in Yuma, AZ. This past season fuel costs made up 14.59% of our budget, up considerably from 2015/2016 where fuel costs only made up 8.68% of our budget … and that is directly attributed to the higher fuel prices and more miles, not because we spent more on other line items 🙂
  • RV parks made up 15.84% of our budget, down from 2015/2016 where we spent 20% of our budget on RV parks, mostly because we did more boondocking this year. In total we spent 57 nights boondocking or 43% of our snowbird year!

It was a toss up as to which was our best boondocking location this year, Lake Mead, Nevada or Ajo, Arizona!

Our stay at Lake Mead gave us the opportunity to drive through Valley of Fire State Park, which was so beautiful!

And once again we had a great winter. Hubby and I have now spent three and a half years living full time in Maxx and we still love it, and each other 🙂

Driving home with snow on the hills in the distance was still a beautiful site.

Until next time …

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We Are Home :-)

Our original plan was to spend two nights in Omak, WA and take a trip out to Winthrop yesterday, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. We woke up to heavy rain and decided we just wanted to get home, even though that meant arriving on a school day and perhaps interrupting schedules, but our daughter was okay with that.

Since it was raining hard yesterday and that makes for lousy pictures, I will give you a picture of the baby chicks I took at North 40 Outfitters the day before 🙂

I love stopping and chatting with the chicks on our way home every year 🙂

 Yesterday was the first travel day we have had in a long time were we didn’t need to set the GPS. In fact I think Maxx was pushing his truck buddy home as fast as he could!

We had a quick stop at the border with less than the usual questions, which we have heard was the case for several snowbirds who returned ahead of us.

  • How long have you been away?
  • Total value of goods you are bringing back?
  • Did you do any repairs to the RV?

Two hours later we were pulling into our daughter’s driveway and are now enjoying warm squeezy hugs and little fists knocking on Maxx’s door … yes we lead a good life!

Now that we are home I won’t be posting every day but I will try and do a blog every week. I will post our wrap up blog in the next few days and stay tune for a location change for us after Easter 🙂

Thanks for following along! 

Until next time …

One Step Closer :-)

It was a long drive yesterday so we had to get a very early start. Okay, really none of that is true … we had a slow morning, mainly because the Internet at the RV Park isn’t great and it took forever to open up my morning blogs! It was so slow that I didn’t even bother commenting on most.

We were on the road by 10:00 a.m. and by 11:00 a.m. we had pulled into Carl Precht RV Park in Omak, WA. We are now only three hours from home, and less than an hour from Canada 🙂

The reflections in the Columbia River were really pretty.

We can’t believe the fruit trees have not begun to bloom yet, but on the up side we haven’t missed the trees at home blooming ☺

We have one more place we want to visit and Omak is a good place to leave Maxx while we do that. Also there are a few items I need to stock up on before we cross the border and the Walmart in Omak is a good place for that.

After setting up we headed over to Walmart and stocked up on rubber gloves, tortilla shells, and those awesome color catchers that I can’t do laundry without! These are all things that I either can’t get the type I want at home, or in the case of the color catchers they don’t sell in Canada.

Until next time …

Chelan, WA

We spent last night in one of our favorite places, Chelan, WA. We usually spend at least one night here on our way south, and one our way north. For years when we were working we would come to Chelan on summer long weekends. I really can’t tell you why, the city just has a certain small town on the lake appeal to us. We are now only four hours from home, although it will take us another three days to get there 🙂

This was the first travel day home were the sun wasn’t out in full force 😦

If we had stayed on Highway 97 yesterday we would have driven over the last high, possibly snowy, part of our trip home. After hubby checked the road reports and the weather the other night he decided we would take a different, lower route that followed a rail line. It added a half hour to our trip, so it was a three-hour drive instead of two and a half … we can live with that.

At Ellensburg, WA we turned east onto I-90 and at George, WA we turned off I-90 onto SR 281N. Shortly after we turned off the interstate we saw a sign that said “Crop Names in Fence Line Next 10 Miles”. How awesome! During our travels hubby and I have both said that we wished farmers would post what type of crop they were growing and someone finally listened to us. We were treated to fields of red beans, different types of hay, grain corn, field corn, turf grass (that was a very pretty manicured field!), and cherry and apple orchards.

I only took one picture, I was having to much fun trying to identify the fields before the sign came along.

In Quincy, WA we turned onto SR 28 and headed into Wenatchee. That part of the route was new to us but we figured we were okay when all the semis turned as well, and it turned out to be a great route.

I think it is now safe to say the only real snow we will see on our trip home was either in real shady spots on the side of the road or on the mountains. Well except for the snow we had in Carson City, NV, but fortunately that wasn’t a travel day and it was gone before we went to sleep that night.

Once we arrived in the valley near Wenatchee we started to see many fruit orchards and grape vineyards. The cool thing about that is we will continue to see them all the way home … yup we are getting close to home!

And here is something I didn’t know … Highway 97 is the longest continuous north-south highway in North America. It runs from Weed, CA to Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway at Dawson Creek. Hubby and I have travelled it from Prince George, BC to Weed, CA and will some day do the rest up to Alaska. I, however, have actually done the entire highway, because when I was a kid my parents took us on a road trip to Alaska, so I feel pretty special!

Until next time …

Another Great Travel Day

We left Bend, Oregon yesterday and headed north into Washington State. The next border we cross will the border between the US and Canada and we will be back in British Columbia and three hours from home 🙂

The weather was awesome once again, sunny dry roads, just what we want!

 

It was pretty to see the snow on the mountains in the distance and not on any of the roads.

Just south of the Oregon/Washington State line we came upon the Stateline Wind Farm. Both hubby and I find this wind farm much prettier than the wind farms you see in Palm Springs, California. The ones in Palm Springs are set in the desert amongst sand, rocks, and creosote bushes, a very grey/brownish background. The Stateline Wind Farms are set amongst fields of green grassland, and of course the grass is very green in the spring.

 

As we passed into Washington we could see the Maryhill Stonehenge sitting on the hill above the river.

The Maryhill Stonehenge is a replica of the Stonehenge in England and is a memorial to those who died in World War 1. It was commissioned by a businessman named Samuel Hill and dedicated on July 4, 1918. Constructed out of concrete the memorial was completed in 1929.

We pulled into Cabela’s in Yakima, WA in the late afternoon. This was the first time we have stayed in a Cabala’s parking lot. We checked in with the manager of the store and he was very happy to have us stay overnight as long as we parked near the back of the lot. The nice thing about Cabela’s is that they close at 8:00 p.m., and the surrounding area is all stores that close around the same time, so it was very quiet.

And amazingly it didn’t cost us a cent! We sure had fun browsing the store but we managed to come out with all our money intact 🙂

Until next time …

We Finished The Ale Trail :-)

I realized I never told you what you would get if you participate in the Bend Ale Trail. Once you have ten stamps you can visit the Bend Visitor Centre and receive your Silipint glass. The Silipint isn’t really a glass, it’s a soft-sided pint “glass” and we use ours when we take a drink to the hot tub. If you collect sixteen stamps you can get a Silipint “glass” and a bottle opener. The bottle opener wasn’t important to us, because we have cool ones from our youngest son’s wedding, so we went for the ten stamps, because we wanted two more Silipints for guests 🙂

 We received our last two stamps at Goodlife Brewing and Crux Brewing. We had a fun time at Goodlife Brewing and while Crux Brewing was okay, it wasn’t anything new.

From our seats at the bar at Goodlife Brewery we could see into the brewery and aside from the beer vats we noticed a distillery. When we asked the bartender about it she told us that Goodlife also distills Vodka and she offered us a taste. The vodka, which is distilled under the label Backdrop Vodka, was so good! It was smooth and easy to drink and honestly if enjoyed vodka straight up in a glass, over ice, we totally would have bought a bottle … but that’s not us. We did, however, wangle a look at their German purchased distillery, which really looked pretty cool, … and we also learned that the owner of Goodlife Brewery has won many awards for his Vodka.

Hubby likes this picture because he thinks the distillery looks like some sort of Star Wars Alien.

 I had a couple of good questions on yesterday’s blog that I will try to give a concise answer to, however I am not a beer expert, so this is what I believe is true, based on what we have been told.

The first question was “What is a nitro beer”. Well a nitro beer is carbonated with about 70% nitrogen and 30% carbon dioxide, as opposed to a typical beer that is carbonated with 100% carbon dioxide; at least I believe it is 100% carbon dioxide.

Beer carbonated with nitrogen has a thick mouth feel. This effect is helped by a special piece of tap equipment known as a restrictor plate that forces the beer through tiny holes before it lands in the glass.  This process gives the beer the thick, rich, creamy head that you saw in yesterday’s picture of the Potato Stout.

The second question was “What is a growler”. A growler is a container used to take draft beer home with you. They come in 32oz or 64oz sizes and breweries will happily fill growlers from other breweries. Most craft breweries sell growlers and they all fill them at a very reasonable price and cheaper than buying their beer in a store. Beer in a growler will stay fresh for several days once opened, or longer if the growler is tightly sealed, remains unopened, and it’s kept chilled.

We generally carry two growlers with us, one is a Hydro Flask growler (a stainless steel growler similar to a thermos), the other was a glass growler … notice I said “was”. Yup that one fell out of our storage area after a particularly bumpy trip and is no longer with us 😦 fortunately it was empty. Our goal this trip was to pick up another Hydro Flask growler but most of them now have big handles on the side and will not fit into an RV fridge. We did finally find one at Boneyard Brewery the other day, which is why we had it filled with our favorite Boneyard beer.

Hopefully that answers your questions, but let me know if I am still confusing you, I do that a lot to people!

Until next time …

Bend, OR = Weight Gain + Money!

Before I start this blog I have to tell you I am still laughing about a comment Six Saturdays and A Sunday made on yesterday’s blog … “Snow is just another 4 letter word. Then again, so is Beer, so they’re not all bad.”  The back and forth didn’t stop there, but let’s move one.  Seriously Rod we are still laughing, thanks for those comments 🙂  And it is a perfect segway into today’s blog about beer!

We have begun the infamous Bend Ale Trail. Now the important things to know about the Ale Trail are … it is so much fun; no matter how hard you try you will gain weight; and you will spend money; … although Oregon is a no tax state and beer is relatively cheap, even craft beer, so in terms of fun versus money, it won’t be that expensive.

The City of Bend is full of craft breweries and to promote them they started the Bend Ale Trail, which is known as the largest beer trail in the west. You can participate using a pamphlet, that is available almost everywhere in Bend, or you can use the Bend Ale Trail app on your cell phone. Hubby uses the pamphlet and I use the cell phone app. Once you are at a participating brewery you can have your pamphlet stamped or press a button on the phone app that marks the brewery as visited. A purchase is not required and when you are using the cell phone app it is really easy, as long as you are close to the establishment you can press the button and you are good to go. If you are using the pamphlet you will need to go to the bar or hostess stand to get a stamp.

So far we have received eight stamps! We started with Silver Moon, Bend Brewery, and Deschutes Brewery the night we arrived. We have decided that the draw at Silver Moon is their Pumpkin Ale and of course it is out of season.

The rim is lined with brown sugar and pumpkin spices … yummy! To bad it’s not in season 😦

Bend Brewery is always entertaining and this time their best beer (according to us) was the Java Juice, a Nitro Cold Pressed Coffee Stout, the only drawback being that it is a Nitro beer so a Growler wasn’t an option.

We tried the Botanic Ale at Deschutes Brewery and really enjoyed it as well. The Botanic Ale is like drinking a beer Gin and Tonic! I could almost picture us on the beach, enjoying the sun and heat and a G&T (yup that is one of our pastimes) 🙂

So before I go on let’s get a few things sorted out. When I say we tried all these beers, we didn’t have a pint of each. We usually get a flight, of the beers that sound interesting, and share it. Once we reach the third brewery hubby starts tasting and I am left to take up the slack … yup he is driving because he likes it that way and I’m not complaining 🙂  We also have no problem not drinking any beer in the flight that we don’t like. And I should probably clear this up as well … I often say I am not a beer drinker … and I’m not. Well okay maybe I am, but I don’t like beer for the sake of drinking a beer. I like beer like I like red wine, it needs to have body, smell, and flavor, which is why I like craft beer. If we are somewhere and everyone is sharing a pitcher I will share as well, with a side of Clamato to give the beer some flavor. I have realized though, that I have to stop saying I’m not a beer lover in my blogs, because I do like some beers.

So on to the next few breweries … Yesterday we stopped at Craft Brewery which is also a favourite because of the atmosphere and the bartender (we have had her a few times and she is always top notch and very entertaining).

Craft Brewery had the cutest taster glasses, and they will give you as many free tastes as you want, which meant we could share a pint of the one we liked the most 🙂

Our favorite there was a Potato Stout … yup it was good, but again it was a Nitro beer so no growler of that 😦

The Mash Up Stout, it was really good!

Once we left Craft Brewery we stopped at Atlas Cider Company. It is not on the Ale Trail so no credit, but it is one of my favorites.

We did a flight of six ciders and ended up coming away with two sealed cans of the Apple Cider and the Apricot Cider. This is the first time we have seen the sealed cans and they are pretty cool. The cider will stay fizzy for up to ten day’s, which means we can bring it home and do samplings with our daughter and son-in-law.

Our next stop was Boneyard Brewery. It is in a residential area, and sure didn’t look like much of a brewery. We almost didn’t go in because of the feel and we could see a younger crowd spilling out the door, but we did go in and had so much fun … maybe we aren’t old! It was $7.00 to share a flight of nine beers and we found a beer we both really liked, so a growler was filled.

The biggest surprise of the day was the McMenamins Pub and Brewery.

This building was a Catholic schoolhouse in 1936 which is what got my attention the first time around. It is now a hotel and brewpub.

The last time we did the Ale Trail this pub was very snobby and didn’t want to serve us, this time they were very friendly and we had a great time. We originally stopped because we thought we would just go in, get a stamp, and move on but their patio out front had a few fires lit and looked appealing. Our favourite beer here was the Morning Foam Coffee Stout. We could totally see sitting in bed enjoying it as our morning coffee … yup that is so sad!   We thought this beer was a Nitrous beer similar to the one at Bend Brewery but it turned it didn’t use Nitrous so we could get a growler. As an added bonus they open at 7:00 a.m. so we can get our growler filled before we leave Bend on Monday, which will make it last until we get home … and on Monday’s growler fills are only $8.00!

We also visited Riverbend and Sunriver Brewing but they where both packed so we just collected our stamps and moved on, which was a good thing because we had had enough beer for one day!

And our day ended with a very nice sunset 🙂

Until next time …