Tuesday April 1, 2014

Back at Home!

We got here just before 2:00 PM after an uneventful trip from Monroe. The border crossing was good, the officer at the kiosk talked about his father staying in Tucson over the winter, no questions at all. A very pleasant crossing!

Our neighbour indicated that it was the worst winter ever in the area, our area seemed to get more snow and ice compared to surrounding communities. The picture below isn't an April fools joke, it's how the front lawn looks. The slide just clears the snow bank, if the trailer was leveled the slide would foul the snow bank. Suzette's jeep is snuggled in beside the trailer and the truck is parked in our neighbour's driveway!

Bring on the Spring!!

Monday March 31, 2014

Last sleep on the road before home!

We are in Harbortown RV resort near Monroe Michigan, one of our standard stops just south of Detroit. We stayed in Columbus Indiana and last night in Garrett Indiana after Bowling Green. We've been running off internal fresh water as the nights have been below freezing. The RV park (Fireside) in Garrett was extremely muddy and a number of the sites were dug up with plumbing problems, the park looks like it's on it's last legs, it looks like it may close down. We need to find an alternate year round park to stop at next time!

We talked to our next door neighbours here at the park, folks from Ajax Ontario. They stayed in Texas over the winter and had terrible weather with ice and lots of propane usage. We are glad we stayed in Borrego Springs!

Friday March 28, 2014

Bowling Green KOA

We arrived here yesterday afternoon after a bit of a tough drive through Nashville, lots of construction to contend with. We have done a bit of final shopping to keep us stocked for the last run back home. We gassed up, diesel here is $4.05 per gallon, the highest we've seen since California, premium unleaded is at $3.75! The weather today warmed up, almost shirt sleeve weather but there is some snow (that we hope to avoid!!) in the forecast for Illinois, unusual for this time of the year. We will be in the trees tomorrow so no updates until Auburn

Wednesday March 26, 2014

Natchez Trace State Park

We arrived here yesterday afternoon, unlike last spring we made it through Memphis without any incidents (our trailer tires remained intact!). It's still March break week and there are a few hardy souls here, most folks are having campfires during the day to keep warm. Daytime temperatures are around 10 degrees C and last night it went down to -6 C, our water hose froze. Regardless, it's a nice stop which we enjoy.

Today we burned the remaining firewood left over from Village Creek:

The only other camper in our part of the park is across from us, a young family on March break:

A couple of views of the campsite and our view of the lake behind the camper:

It's off to Bowling Green tomorrow.

Sunday March 23, 2014

Village Creek State Park

We arrived here yesterday afternoon, a short run that was made a little longer by the road construction on the interstate south of Wynne, the road is down to one lane and there appear to be lots of accidents as a result of the requirement to slow down and stop. A car a couple of vehicles behind us had to take to the grass median (thankfully, no damage!) as there wasn't enough room to stop, it's tougher to come to a quick stop from over 70 MPH, the speed limit here.

The area has suffered over the winter, when we were shopping in Wynne today the cashier indicated that they had 20 days of below freezing weather with ice, lots of tree damage as seen in the following pictures:

The park has done a good job of removing branches and trees near the campsites and the road as seen below:

We are in one of our favourite spots, it's still cool here with high single digits (C) daytime temperatures. At least it's better than the 2 inches of snow that fell back at home yesterday!

Thursday March 20, 2014

Lake Bob Sandlin State Park

We arrived here in east Texas after going through Dallas/Fort Worth. There is a lot of construction on I-30 through Dallas, but the trip was uneventful.

We are in our usual spot and are looking for the deer to come out and greet us. The season is at least 2 weeks behind what we are used to here, no buds or leaves coming out and the grass is still a bit brown. Looks like it has been a tough winter all over North America.

A couple of pictures:

There are a couple of campers here and a cabin or two is occupied:

No deer yet!

There are a couple of cabins right on the lake:

Tomorrow we are off to west Arkansas!

Tuesday March 18, 2014

Ranger Texas

The commentary and pictures below were published yesterday after we arrived at the RL RV park just south of Ranger. This morning Suzette did a laundry at the free washer and dryer, the value at this park is very good at $20 per night with full services. The owner is a gentleman, it's not a destination park but it's great to stop a day or two after the 450 km. run from Monahans.

We went out to replenish the empty 30 lb. propane tank for the RV and got a great deal at $18, that's around $2.70 or so per gallon, the last fill was in California at around $4.70 a gallon! We also have a 20 lb. tank that we use for the BBQ, it is an "exchange cylinder" that's been in the back of the truck for a couple of years, it looks beat up. The certification date was 20 years ago (only 10 years past it's "best before" date) although it was only two years with us, guess those Canadian propane folks don't pay close attention to dates when they fill and distribute these exchange cylinders. The propane fill guy was polite but he couldn't legally refill the stale dated cylinder but he had a great suggestion: take it to Wal-Mart and exchange it! We did, and got a brand new cylinder (certification date February 2014!) full of propane for just under $16. Doing the math, we got a brand new cylinder for about $3.50 above the cost of a propane refill. Life is good!

We also replenished our food needs at Wal-Mart as well and we watched wile the local police and sheriff's people ( a 3 car response, arriving with sirens and lights blazing!) took away a shoplifter, the Wal-Mart person indicated that they get photographed and refused future entry into Wal-Marts across the US. That passes for fun during a dull shopping experience.

Tomorrow we take another longish run to east Texas (through Dallas-Fort Worth for increased stress!), after that daily mileage gets lower and less stressful.

Yesterday's commentary:

We arrived here after lunch. The run from Monahans was a bit long but on I-20 all the way so it was fast. We were "holed up" in Monahans Sand hills State Park for Saturday and Sunday, the wind was howling to the point that we couldn't erect the internet dish, so we relaxed and watched local TV and our DVD's. We also walked around and took a couple of pictures:


The wind created a couple of nice crests on the hills:

Ontario folks were well represented, there were four of us here. Talking to the owner of the older motorhome on the left in the photo belo, he indicated that he has a bad injector on the motorhome's engine, he called to the Freightliner dealer in Odessa (just east of Monahans) to make an appointment for a repair, the service advisor indicated that the shop is booking appointments down the road 8 weeks as they are so busy. He also indicated that Odessa's population had increased by 50,000 over the past year, all oilfield workers. A billboard was advertising for truck drivers offering a $3,000 signing bonus! No unemployment here!

More sand hills:

Thursday March 13, 2014

Carlsbad KOA

We left Deming yesterday morning and headed into a fairly heavy headwind (just as our friend Chuck predicted!) and we made the trek here to Carlsbad arriving after three pm. Due to the headwind and the climb up the Guadaloupe mountains we used the most fuel out of a single tankful (33 US gallons), this morning when we filled up we had less than 50 miles left to empty. Last evening we took advantage of a delivered dinner, you pre-order from a menu and your food is delivered to your campsite, good food and at a reasonable price. Are we spoiled or what?

We are staying here today and tomorrow, we will head into Texas on Saturday. It's March break week here as well, hopefully we can get into Monahans.

Today was declared a "maintenance day", the auto leveling system on the trailer hasn't been leaving the trailer quite level, it's lower at the front than at the back. Not a major problem but the cupboard doors slant towards the front of the trailer when they are opened. There is a calibration procedure for the system, the trailer is manually leveled then some instructions are punched in to set the correct level, which should be good for future stops. There was a bit of a trick to the procedure (it didn't work the first time), Ed, if you have to do the calibration let me know and I'll send you the info.

The other thing that has been bugging us is that the kitchen sink faucet has come loose a few times, caused by a very tight swivel joint. Al did a modification to loosen off the swivel joint, here is hoping that it's successful!

We have transitioned into long pants and sweaters, here at the 3,000 ft. altitude it's colder, last night it went down to -4C, the days have been in the high teens C but breezy.

The park here has been doing well with a number of oilfield workers as monthly stay folks, they are constructing another row of campsites as shown in the following shots taken with the android phone:

The electric windmill shown above the camping cabins is clearly seen from our back window, it's an indication of how breezy it can get:

A view of our "patio" site:

The owner's house is in the distance behind the stand of trees:

Tuesday March 11, 2014

Deming New Mexico

We arrived here at the Dream Catcher RV park yesterday. Today we enjoyed lunch with our friends Chuck and Wanda and we gassed up in preparation for our run tomorrow to Carlsbad. The wind has been blowing a bit today, hopefully tomorrow morning it will be quieter when we leave.

A couple of pictures of the campground:

The campground was virtually empty when we arrived yesterday but a couple of rows filled up quickly:

Mountains in the south:

Our neighbour has a Chinese knock-off of a Segway transporter (scooter), it's set up with all terrain tires and it looks good at less than half price of a Segway!

A basic RV park with no frills but full services:

Friday March 7, 2014

Kitt Peak National Observatory

We wanted to visit this place back in November but we didn't make it. Today we visited the observatory, an interesting visit (and free!). They have a number of different telescopes (perhaps a dozen or so), we took a walking tour and checked out a couple of telescopes.

The site is at 6,750 ft. above seal level compared to Tucson which is a lot lower, we went from 24C to about 14C in temperature when we got to the peak. The road was FUN, lots of switch backs and an 8% grade all the way up. There were a number of bicyclists going up the hill, and Al got passed by a high speed bicyclist on the way back down (speed limit is 25 MPH, the bike guy was going a lot faster!).

A couple of pictures:

One of the telescopes:

One of the large solar telescopes, a lot of it is underground:

This is the road going back down the hill:

The road that heads back to Tucson:

Thursday March 6, 2014

KOA Tucson, and Maintenance Day!

We arrived here yesterday at the former Lazy Days RV resort now owned and run by the KOA after the short one hour run from Picacho Peak, we settled in and enjoyed a nice meal at the restaurant here in the early evening. We have noted a number of improvements (the water taps at each site have been changed with new backflow preventers) and there is a lot of activity on the part of the new folks in yellow KOA Tee shirts. Unfortunately the park is still as quiet as it was back in November, hopefully it will survive as a KOA.

It was time to replace the toilet, Al waited to Tucson where there is an Ace Hardware close by just in case "Murphys law" intervened and some additional parts were needed. As is the case, the new toilet went in easily, no parts required and no leaks. Suzette is probably asking "why didn't Al do this before!" but it is better to wait with a broken toilet that needs manual flushing using the valves instead of being without one if "Murphy" intervenes. Camping world here in Tucson was called from Borrego when the toilet failed to see if a repair could be arranged, they didn't even grace us with a call back after our call to the service department went to voice mail, not an outfit that would be recommended! Here's hoping that Ed was able to repair his RV problem back in Borrego Springs as easily! The repair timing was great, Suzette went to the pool, the repair was done just in time for her return.

The "before and afters":

The old Thetford toilet out on the grass, the valves for flushing and adding water on the side, that's where the foot pedal is supposed to go:

The new Dometic toilet in place and running!"

Tuesday March 4, 2014

Back In Picacho Peak State Park

We arrived here yesterday after a relatively short run from Yuma. We enjoy this state park, although it only has electric service at each campsite it's comfortable and quiet. If Al had put enough fresh water in the tank at Yuma he wouldn't have had to put an extra 30 gallons in this morning to assure that we could shower tomorrow! We head into Tucson for a few days to do some shopping and the toilet replacement.

A couple of pictures taken with the Samsung Smart phone:

The peak:

Looking down the hill past a smaller one towards I-10 in the distance:

The campground from our front door:

Another view of the peak:

Saturday March 1, 2014

Made the Turn for Home!

Yesterday we left the Springs at Borrego and we arrived in Yuma (a relatively short 3 hour run). It was tough to leave Borrego, we had a great two months there and we really enjoyed the place and the company of Ed and Karen, our neighbours at the resort. Karen knows that Suzette enjoys wine and we were presented with a couple of cases of white Zinfandel, thanks very much Karen and Ed! We decided that we will spend three months next season in Borrego starting in December. The lot in Yuma that we normally stay at is OK but the facilities and ambiance of Borrego is much better. 

It was a bit of a shock coming back to Yuma, Borrego spoiled us. We have been trying to find a nice RV park to spend a couple of days at in Yuma before heading farther east, we haven't found one yet. We are staying at Fortuna de Oro here in the foothills this year and last year we tried Westwind. Al has a campground rating scale: great, good, OK and "beer drinking". Both these parks rate a "beer drinking +" at best. Fortuna do Oro is now owned and run by Cal Am resorts, in their defense they are pouring big bucks into the facility but the campsites themselves are old, predating slides and at 30 by 50 ft with narrow roads they feel cramped and are tough to get into with modern RV's. The water piping is galvanized pipe, the water valves leak and the sewer outlet is almost underneath the RV. The pool and activities area looks good however, and Suzette will let Al know how things look after her swim. Any recommendations for upscale parks in Yuma would be welcome!

Some pictures of the campground:

This motor home was arriving this morning, a tight squeeze!

Each row is a mix of manufactured homes and RV's:

Our site has a transformer at the back so that 50 ft. is reduced, the nose is close to the road. Our Canadian neighbour was good enough to move his truck so we could back in safely:

Al had a couple of "ladies" to talk back to on the way over to Yuma (Suzette obviously not included!). An unlocked Samsung smart phone was purchased (it takes a micro SIM card) and instead of printing out directions from Streets and Trips as a check on the Garmin GPS we used Bing maps on the Samsung. As a result we had "Jill" an American lady and a yet un-named British lady giving directions.The Samsung identified the new bypass around Brawley California, the Garmin didn't. In Garmin's defense, the newest map hasn't been downloaded yet, awaiting the unlimited download allowance at home.

We have had a problem with our toilet in the RV, the flush pedal fell off! We have been flushing it manually by turning the water and sewer flapper dump valves on the base of the toilet (sometimes tough when the toilet is used at three in the morning when you are half asleep!). The RV is still under warranty but we went out today and bought a new replacement (the new one is a Dometic, the existing one is a Thetford). The pedal on the existing toilet could have been replaced but the design is poor and it would probably fail again in another year, reports from other Redwood owners indicate a few similar failures. The switch will be made when we have a few days in Tuscon, just in case "Murphy's law" intervenes and we need some additional repair pieces (which you never have on hand!).

Thursday February 20, 2014

Canadian-American Golf Tournament Parade

Last year we missed the annual "grudge golf match" between the locals and the Canadian snowbirds in the resort. The day before the tournament there is a parade and a banquet where starting spots and teams are chosen. A few pictures of the parade:

The Americans massed near the tennis courts:

Regan, a bull mastiff from Saskatchewan got decked out for the parade:

The Americans on the way to the amphitheater:

The Canadians followed, not quite as many as the Americans, but a good show!

That's a beaver on the back of the bike!

Al the gang in the amphitheater:

They are fighting for the trophy on the stage:

Saturday February 15, 2014

Some Campground pictures!

Below are some campground pictures taken today on our morning walk around the resort:

The awnings and sun shade are in-place to keep us cooler (it's 33C here today!). Also, Suzette's collection of solar lights and ornaments are increasing!

The owners has done some work on pulling in services for the next phase of the resort. The place is getting more popular, we couldn't get the same site for next year (we are in a similar site around the corner) but we booked it for the two years following that!

A picture of the golf course near the resort:

This picture shows where the new sites will be constructed near the course:

The existing sites facing the course:

Another view:

This tripod on the fairway is the remote weather station that supplies conditions for the Weather Underground website linked below:

Another fairway and water hazard on the course near the campground. A couple of ducks are shown in the picture, there are about a hundred water foul that enjoy the area (except during the night when the coyotes come around and select a couple for a night time snack!):

These palms were planted last week in the amphitheater in preparation for the Kingston Trio concert in March:

The seating on the grass will be comfortable!

Monday February 10, 2014

Eating and shopping!

We went out again on Friday with our friends next door, we went to a real Mexican restaurant and enjoyed it!. Today we went into Indio where we hit a Super Target and did a major shopping, it's a step above Wal Mart. We also took some pictures on the way back, we took some pictures to show what the desert looks like. Probably not the best pictures, taken with Al's new smart phone, the learning curve hasn't been climbed yet!

There are actually some RV's camping down there!

Thursday February 6, 2014

Relaxing at Borrego Springs again!

We have been back here over a week now and we are relaxing and enjoying the place. We haven't done a lot, but Al did get on the bicycle a couple of days ago and rode to town and back, just over 3 miles. The weather has been cooler and a bit breezy, that's the excuse for vegging!

We went into town to do some shopping yesterday and Al took some pictures while Suzette bought some steel sculptures to decorate the campsite. Today we also had a visit from Andy, a fellow Redwood owner and we went for a nice lunch at a local venue.

This is a picture looking east towards the Christmas circle ( a traffic circle) with Carlees restaurant on the left:

A view to the west with the hill in the background. Julian and San Diego are on the other side of the hill:

The mall is behind the trees on the left:

Another couple of pictures of town: