Scooter racing

Scooter racing
After parking for the night, we'll still have time for a little racing

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Deed is Done

It's official.  I told the directors that I'm retiring as of December 31st.  I will return to work part-time (3 days a week) in January - but only because I don't really have any other plans for beating boredom during the winter months.  Since I'm firmly convinced that we will have record snowfall in order to atone for the spectacular summer weather, I don't imagine I'll be coming into the office all that often anyhow.

May 30th will be my official, official last day.  I will stay in town for Festival Polynesia, then hit the road right afterwards.  Prince Porketta and I have tentatively made plans to do a loop around Ontario, to see some of the old family homesteads.  The rest of the summer will be at Grundy.  After that, who knows.... wherever the trail beckons, I suppose.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Did I miss a memo or something?

I don't shop a lot, but jeez..... did I miss a memo or something?

I would like to know if I accidentally tripped a switch on my way out of town last June.  I figure that can be the only explanation for the complete change that has occurred in my little corner of the planet since then.  It's either that or, as I have suspected for some time, the local economy is directly tied to my wallet.

I have lived in the same place for 16 years, shopped at the same stores, driven the same route to work.  When I came back, I discovered that the grocery store I most frequently use is closed; the store where I buy all of my clothes is also closed; the 2 main routes I use to get into town are all but closed due to construction; the alternate grocery store which only opened a year ago not only closed but then re-opened as an all-chinese grocery store which smells like a giant fish market and doesn't have English signs so I can't shop there; several of the restaurants I usually use are closed; even the Dairy Queen is closed!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

I Broke The Beast!

I know that I need help with backing up. I can't even back my little tiny Toyota up in an empty parking lot. I don't know what made me think I could back up a 34 foot RV into a narrow opening between 2 trees, on a curve, on a single lane street, with cars parked on either side. What was I thinking? Or in this case, why wasn't I thinking?

Anyhow, I heard a crunch and noticed that the back bumper seemed a little more prominent than usual. Sure enough, it was cracked from top to bottom. Thank heavens it's a silvery color - the duct tape actually seems to blend in. My brother is going to fix it with zap straps, he says.

On the up side, the weekend was spectacular. The weather couldn't have been better. My bro, SIL and I had a lovely long weekend, played card games, putter pool, sat in the hot tub, and even had a great turkey dinner. Bro indulged in marathon wood chopping sessions - he hasn't said so, but we think he's training for next year's Lumberjack contests. 

What more could you ask? Except maybe a new bumper. Sigh....

Thursday, 4 October 2012

We are so going to pay for this!

I can truly believe that the world will end on December 21st. How else can you explain that there hasn't been any rain to speak of in Vancouver since August? Obviously, Armageddon is at hand.

My bro, SIL and I are planning to give the Beast one more outing before winter (and the end of the world) sets in. We're heading for Bridal Veil Falls for the Thanksgiving weekend. After that, poor old Beastie will be getting its final rub down and will be tucked away for the winter.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Goodbye, old friend

I just got the news that my old trailer is sold. I really loved that trailer. It was the first one I bought and had everything I ever wanted: a front kitchen, a back bedroom, lots of space. It was always bright and airy. It had a few drawbacks: the roof leaked one year and so there was a bit of a bulge in the ceiling. The awning was a nightmare to take down. Mice got in regularly in spite of the combo of Bounce sheets, bay leaves, Warfarin, Bromine, moth balls and mouse traps. But it was home for many summers and I'll miss it.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The End of the Road.....

It took exactly 9 days to get from Sudbury back to Vancouver.  This was something of a surprise, since we weren't rushing all that much.  I'll let Prince update on his return trip with Sparerib and Shortrib by way of Canada, via the West Edmonton Mall.

After we left Wisconsin, we headed for Minnesota by way of several detours.  A 2.5 hour trip lasted almost 7, but the scenery was nice and the park we stayed at (Money Haven Creek in Houston) was great.  However, the charms of RV camping were wearing a little thin for S&S, who went and found a restaurant with air conditioning (via a couple more detours).

The next day, we were off to Mitchell and the Corn Palace again.  All new murals - and they are spectacular.  I especially liked the little cheerleaders made out of corn.

We then headed off to Murdo and the home of the 1880 Towne where we hoped against hope that we'd find sour cream raisin pie.  Sadly, we were too late and they were sold out.  But, our tale of woe over the hardships of the trip touched the chef's heart and she very kindly shared her grandma's recipe with us.  Thank you again!!!

After seeing a minimum of 100 signs telling us we HAD to go to Wall Drug, we went to Wall Drug.  I even got a bumper sticker to say so!  Neat place - and a great oasis of A/C in the 104F heat!  At this point S&S informed us that RV life wasn't for them.  They put in a valiant effort, but the call of the motel rooms and reliable showers was too strong.  So, Prince and I headed for Sturgis and S&S headed for Mt. Rushmore and Deadwood.

The ride into Sturgis was somewhat bumpy.... probably because we blew a tire about 15 miles from the RV park.  At first, I thought it was a ripped canopy, since it sounded like flapping material.  There was no shimmy or any other indication that it was a tire.  But it was..... and I'm just lucky I didn't lose the whole side of the RV!  But CoachNet came through and within an hour I had a nice new tire and a big hole in my credit card balance.  Sigh....  Oh well, a tire is probably cheaper than a canopy.

Our last big push (for some reason, the GPS routed us through a secondary Hwy) was to Reed Point again and we finally got to ask a real life cowboy about all the cows we had seen.  Turns out, they don't all have to be milked.  This is a good thing because that looked like it would not be a fun job.  What we took to be a beautiful sunset was actually the reflection of forest fires in the distance.  It was beautiful....and just a little scary.

Phillipsburg, MT, was next by way of the Anaconda Pass.  You may remember that this is the pass where we had encountered snow on our outbound trip.  Well, there was no snow - but the pass is named for a snake for a reason!  If they can put a man on the moon, why can't they blast tunnels in the BOTTOM of these stupid mountains?!?!  Anyhow, we reached P'burg in mid-afternoon and the smoke from forest fires nearby was so thick that the sun looked red.  We headed for Gem Mountain's store where we purchased a number of bags of dirt.  Why, you ask?  Well, these bags contain sapphires.  All told we got 12 bags - 300 pounds of wet gravel.   It'll give us something to do on those long winter nights.

The next morning, Prince, Sparerib and Shortrib and I said our goodbyes and they headed off to Edmonton, while I headed off into the mountains.  An overnighter in Coeur d'Alene and I was off again, blazing a new trail down Hwy. 2 in Washington.

At this point, I would like to tell the people who told me how scenic Hwy 2 is that they were right - for the first 20 miles.  After that, it lost its charm pretty quickly.  What's the point of nice scenery if you can't look at it because you're spending all your time trying to maneuver 50 feet of RV+Toad down narrow, winding, never-ending two-lane mountain roads?!  I swear, the engineers added curves just because they were psychotic.  Add to that the fact that this was the Labor Day weekend, it was hot and sunny and there were country fairs on both sides of the road at every village and town for 200 miles, and you can see why I'll never do hwy. 2 again.  Oh yeah - and the doghouse in the coach kept blowing off, leaving me with scalding hot engine air blasting my shins until I could find a pull-out.  Probably just as well, because the brakes were burning anyhow.

I was going to spend the night in Monroe but encountered 2 huge fairs, so I gave up and headed for home, arriving just after 7 p.m.  I must have had a crazed look in my eye, because the customs agent just waved me through within 2 minutes.

And so ends the Big Beastly Adventure of 2012.  Prince is back home in Sudbury, S&S got lots of shopping done and the Beast is back in the corral, waiting for next summer's adventures.  I'm back at work (feels like I never left) and dreaming of hitting the road once again.... especially flat roads.  Maybe I'll move to Saskatchewan.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Warm in Wisconsin

Day 2 dawned bright and beautiful and only got more beautiful as the day wore on.  Incredible heat and sunshine!  The convoy rolled from Michigan into Wisconsin, and we started seeing very large signs for Seguin's Cheese and Treasures.  Of course, we couldn't resist since everyone knows you have to buy cheese in Wisconsin.  But we did hold back from buying cheesehead hats.  For now.
The convoy is working remarkably well and Sparerib is having no trouble keeping up with the speed and nimbleness of the Beast.  Even Nui managed to crank it up to a dizzying 66 mph, and keep it on the road.  She flew through constructions zones with barely a cone out of a place or a sign man diving for safety. The Prince was napping.

To really put S&S to the test, we camped overnight in a beautiful park unfortunately downwind from an apparently huge mass of cows.  The country experience was complete:  the AROMA, the flies,the AROMA, the mosquitoes, the AROMA, the primitive bathrooms, the AROMA, the missing showers..... all have come together to enhance the outdoor experience.  Prince has been warned that his wallet better be full when they get to Edmonton and it's time to cash in on the promise of shopping.

So far, so good

We Got Us A Convoy

Day one of the BBA (Big Beastly Adventure) Part 2 started off on schedule.  With the Beast leading the way, Prince's wife and daughter brought up the rear with a van full of luggage and shopping in their veins.  Sparerib and Shortrib are definitely NOT outdoorsy, but have embraced the RV lifestyle on the promise of an extended stay at the West Edmonton Mall.  So here we go.... day one.  Naturally, Mother Nature cried for us as we left Canada....buckets and buckets.  So S & S were baptized into the RV lifestyle with monsoon-type rain and a wicked thunderstorm. 

The problems with Wifi access have started already.  It's interesting that the people of Michigan blame the people of Wisconsin for the storm and the poor reception.  Clearly there is no love lost there.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Big Beastly Adventure Continues

The Prince and I were reminiscing about the "Big Beastly Adventure" and, in particular, the sour cream raisin pie at Olde Towne in South Dakota.  Prince decided to try his hand at recreating the dish, using 2 different recipes.  While the pies were good, they weren't Olde Towne good.  So naturally, after we caught up on a few refreshments (because everyone knows that you have to keep your fluid levels up or you'll make bad decisions), we decided that the only thing to do was to drive back to South Dakota and ask the chef for her recipe.

We leave on August 24th, accompanied by the Prince's family, Sparerib and Shortrib.  Our goal is to get back to Philipsburg by way of SD.  Along the way, we'll have a look at what Mt. Rushmore looks like from the opposite side.  We'll spend a couple of days digging for sapphires in P'burg, and then the Porketta family will head north to visit the West Edmonton Mall, and I will tackle the mountains on the way back to Vancouver.

Sunday, 24 June 2012


Saturday, we took off from Soo Michigan, crossed the border in under 10 minutes and were back on Canadian soil before 11:30 a.m. We had received regular reports that Sudbury was experiencing a heat wave. And sure enough, as we drove east, the temperature soared and the sky was cloudless. This caused Nui to speculate that the weather gods had been fooled, since it is a well-known fact that temperatures drop and torrential rains begin the second she sets foot in Ontario for her annual camping trip. But, of course, we had forgotten that we had arrived a day early. This so upset the natural balance of the universe that it caused the roof of a shopping mall in Elliot Lake to collapse, just minutes after we drove by that town. By the time we arrived in Sudbury, the temps had dropped and we awoke today to torrential rains and freezing temps. The gods are smiling once again.

And so ends our adventure. We met a lot of great people – Americans are among the friendliest and most helpful people on earth. Our biggest frustration was finding help when we had problems with the RV. Considering that it is a mobile lifestyle, we had expected that RV repair places would be a little more helpful in dealing with sudden problems that occur on the road, instead of telling us to come back in mid-July. We hope that people at RV service centres like Capital RV (Bismarck), Countryside RV (Jamestown), and Big Sky RV (Bozeman) think about adding a service to help travellers get back on the road. Our thanks, once again, to Chris (Moses Lake), Keith (C&T RV, Bozeman) and “the smoking man” at Crossroads Repairs (Jamestown) who went out of their way to help us. They made our trip so much more comfortable. 

We had several highlights: the mountains (although Nui had had quite enough after nearly 2 weeks), the Badlands, the 1880 Town (Murdo, SD) which had a diner in an old train that featured the best pie in the world – “sour cream raisin pie”. We’d drive back just for that pie! It would also give us a chance to take a photo of the skeleton walking his T-rex. There was the tour of the Little Bighorn Battlefield memorial, the incredible amphitheatre built into a bluff in the Badlands for the Medora Musical, the Painted Canyon, the Enchanted Highway and so much more! It seemed that every day was busier than the last and so we didn’t get to do any geocaching, metal detecting, or gourmet dining at Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (mostly because we couldn’t get reliable Wifi to let us find the places!).  But that’s not such a bad thing – it gives us an excuse to go back. 

We had a great time, great fun and a great trip.  And so Prince Porketta is back at home and Nui is preparing for her camping at Grundy Lake.  The 2 Fat People in an RV are signing off.  Thanks to everyone for reading our blog and for your comments.

Dry Dock in Michigan

We managed to make it out of Minnesota and Wisconsin without having to put pontoons on the Beast (just barely). Our last day in the USA went off without a hitch. Prince finally got to eat a Klondike Bar and Nui managed to drive on a straight stretch of road without either road work or buffaloes. There are a few cyclists that may be a bit upset because she still tends to hug the right part of the lane – oh, and Wisconsin may be missing a sign or two. (sorry) We made it to Michigan and just to add flavour to our travels, we took an RV lot at the Soo locks. We had our choice of lots…. right next to a gaggle of children who, the lady at the office reported, “seemed like nice kids”.   However, we had seen the billboards advertising how people should take their kids hunting, so we decided to take the second choice, which was on a hill, directly downwind from a sewer dumping station. We think we made the right choice.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Damp in Duluth

Planting rice this year?
We suddenly realized that we were about half way home, and had used up about 2/3rds of our available time, so it was time for a push. We left Jamestown, intending to stay in Brainerd, after taking a photo of Paul Bunyan. Unfortunately, we never did find his statue, so we moved on and planned a long driving day, ending up in Cloquet, MN for a DDD dinner. No such luck. As we approached the highway turnoff, we were stopped by the police, who told us the road was closed due to flooding and re-routed about 35 miles north. So off we went, on one of Prince’s specialties – the unplanned detour. 35 miles later, we turned east and were expecting to make it to Duluth but we were stopped again, and told we had to go another 30 miles South because of flooding. The highway person strongly recommended that we stop for the night at the Blackbear Casino, since there was no way anyone was going to Duluth last night. There was a LOT of water everywhere and all the side roads were closed. So, Prince got his wish and we camped in a parking lot with the generator running. And we didn’t gamble! Good thing we stopped because the road ahead was washed out and some people died. Today we made it past Duluth and drove into Michigan, where it is a lot drier. We stopped just outside of Marquette and finished our hunt for sapphires and garnets. Still have amethysts to sift through. We’re on schedule and may even make it back a day early. How’s that for planning?
Sapphires, Garnets and assorted pretty rocks

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Life of a Blogger is Not an Easy One.

We didn’t spend much time in Mitchell, SD. It’s biggest claim to fame is the incredible Corn Palace, whose outside murals are completely done with corn and grains. It’s an amazing site and they change themes every year. This year was dedicated to youth activities. Following that, we started to think about some of the things we had missed. We are sorry to say that we’re going to miss the Testicle Festival in Montana and the Whorehouse Days in Gilbert, ND. Prince mentioned that we had forgotten to visit the Enchanted Highway in ND, so we hightailed it north and decided to go West to see it. Along the way we were told about the amazing Medora Musical in an amphitheatre built into the bluffs of the Badlands. This was highlighted by a Pitchfork Fondue dinner, where they spear steaks on pitchforks and heave them into huge vats of oil. Naturally, we couldn’t resist. The steaks were awesome (and huge) and cooked to perfection. The Musical is really something to see – the backdrop of the Badlands just made the whole little (300 mile) detour worthwhile. The festivities were cut short by rain (of course, we were in the West), so this morning we turned around and came back to Jamestown. On the way back, we took a 32 mile detour to see the Enchanted Highway near Regent, ND. Enchanting isn’t the word. These sculptures are amazing – even more so because they are just sitting in fields, miles apart, on an almost completely deserted road. It’s truly inspiring to see what some people do with a little extra time on their hands….. 42 foot grasshoppers, for example. What was even more amazing was that the 32 mile inbound detour took something like 95 miles to get out of. Nui was getting a little concerned when some of the roads looked like they were nothing more than grass tracks and tractor trails. But she stayed on the paved parts and eventually we wound up back on the interstate. Tonight we’re camped next to an Old West fort and 3 sunglass wearing albino buffalo. Haven’t seen the buffalo yet, but we’ll try tomorrow before we leave for…….

A big thanks to Crossroads Repair Service in Jamestown, who helped us on our way by fixing the side mirrors, which were threatening to blow off, and refused to take any payment for the work. Thanks!!!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Plans have changed – we’re going West

You can never please fat people…. We’re not that jolly. We got tired of the flat terrain, warm weather and never ending sunshine, so we’re going back to the hills. If you have any questions or comments, post them here.

Friday, 15 June 2012

How to do Mt. Rushmore on a budget

Crazy Horse Memorial.... one giant head
Nui waving at other Class A drivers
We made it! From Deadwood, we took another series of long, long, long hills but we finally made it to Keystone, SD, the home of Mt. Rushmore. Since we had only travelled about 45 minutes, we decided to forge ahead before dropping anchor. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that you can see Mt. Rushmore from the road. It was amazing. However, so was the traffic jam going into the parking lot, so we decided to cruise by very slowly and admire it from a distance. We figured nothing much was to be gained by standing there watching a rock for an hour. So on we went to the Crazy Horse memorial. Again, you can see it from the road and all it is is a great big head. So, we talked our way past the gatekeepers, drove up, took a quick picture and drove back out. Then we headed for the Badlands. That generated a lot of “wow, look at that!” from both of us. What an amazing sight! We drove in, through and out in about ½ hour and made it Interior, SD just in time for a major wind and thunder storm. The whole day cost us absolutely nothing and we saw 3 of the major sights that were on our to do list. Since we’re ahead of schedule, we’ve decided to backtrack and head for North Dakota and the enchanted highway, after seeing the corn palace in Mitchell, SD.

Wow....look at that!

Suck it in and Suck It Up

That’s our cue to hook up and get going: suck in the slides and haul up the jacks and away we go. We’re getting quite good at packing up in a hurry. After leaving Yellowstone, we headed east and happened upon the Little Bighorn Battlefield. This again proves Nui’s contention that we really should be looking at some of the brochures people keep handing us. The memorial came as quite a surprise – we thought it was further east. So we stopped and had a great tour and were impressed by how well marked the site is. For $8.00, the tour is well worth it. Prince finally got a chance to kick the grass to look for rattlesnakes but it was too hot for them to be out. Too bad we weren’t there the day before, since a lady told us she had seen a big one. From the Little Bighorn we crossed into Wyoming and stayed at a smallish town called Sheridan. There again we took a tour but it was a whole lot different. The driver careened around the town while playing a nearly inaudible tape which described scenes and locations that weren’t anywhere near where we were. The highlight was when he whacked his mirror on a road sign and had to stop. Too bad it wasn’t near a historic site. We slowed a little near the Sheridan Inn, which is the home of the Buffalo Bill museum. The reason we stopped here is that Prince’s son was graduating from Sheridan College in Ontario and we thought it was most appropriate to watch the convocation from Sheridan Wyoming. Prince’s eldest daughter graduated from St. Lawrence College today as well, but we didn’t see the town of Lawrence on the map until after we’d arrived in Deadwood, SD. Again, proving Nui’s point that we should be looking at brochures. Deadwood is really, really high!

Sorry we’re late with the reports. We not only couldn’t get Wifi, we can’t even get the GPS or cell phones to work. This is odd, since we are several thousand feet closer to the satellites than we normally are. So here we are in Deadwood, after a 4 hour trip up one mountain after another, culminating in Strawberry Ridge, which nearly brought the Beast to its knees. We are at roughly the same altitude as we were in the Rockies. Nui is convinced that there is no such thing as the ‘prairies’ and that it is just an urban legend meant to fool people into driving around endlessly in these )(*&)&* mountains. Does this country never flatten out?! Prince is finding that his oxygen levels go down the higher up we go. For this reason, he has decided to abandon his trip to climb Mt. Everest. Deadwood is a great little town and we took a local Texan’s advice and went to the Mineral Palace restaurant and casino in the heart of the town (actually, the old red light district). Another interesting spot. We ordered a really nice steak to share, since we were told that the portions were quite large. Fortunately, there was an elevator to take us downstairs, since neither one of us was capable of walking after that huge meal. The town has over 60 casinos and all the gas stations have been re-purposed into some neat little shops, such as the Chubby Chipmunk chocolate shop. We may go visit that tomorrow before we suck it up and suck it in and head for Mount Rushmore.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Wow....Look at that!!!

  You can’t turn a corner in Montana without saying that! They have cornered the market on scenery. Yesterday, we set up at Reed Point RV, a great little place, and almost doubled the population. Seriously, this is the closest we’ve been to a wild west town. The population is 96 and all the buildings look like a movie set from a John Wayne western, up to and including the grain elevators and the herd of sheep right next to the RV park. We thought we had a sewer leak, but it turns out to be the sheep. Thank heavens, because we’re getting kind of tired of plumbing problems. The sheep can worry about themselves. We spent a beautiful afternoon doing a loop around small towns nearby and visited the home of “Liver-eating Johnson”, a local legend who killed the Crow Indians and ate their livers raw. This was the background for the movie Jeremiah Johnson. We got lost in the town of Nye, which seems impossible since it consisted of a house and a saloon. You just can’t trust a GPS! Today we hit the road at the crack of 9 and drove through Yellowstone from the North Gate through Mammoth Springs. It occurred to us that none of the literature on Yellowstone mentions the smell of sulphur. It was a very odiferous day. We meandered through one scenic loop after another, taking turns saying “Wow! Look at that!” We made it to Old Faithful (along with about 2000 other trekkers) and it was spectacular…. And on time. We kept seeing signs about wild life on the road, but the closest we came was a suicidal partridge and a curious groundhog. That is, until we started on the return trip and were stopped by a herd of buffalo roaming across the road. Boy are they big! After they moved on, we just kept driving to the West Gate, saying wow at regular intervals, and coming across more and more beautiful scenery. Really – they should lend some of this to less fortunate states. Prince was somewhat disappointed in it all because he really wanted to go into the bush and kick around looking for rattlesnakes, but, alas, some dreams you just have to abandon. So, after 10 hours, we saw deer but no antelope playing, buffalo roaming and lots of homes on the range. Kinda makes you want to sing. If we weren’t so tired we’d head for the saloon but we have lots of miles to do tomorrow.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Memories of Montana

Montana has spectacular scenery…. lots and lots of it. They also have lots of cows and lots and lots of mountains. One mountain after another as far as the eye can see… and as high as the transmission can carry. If I had been an explorer, I would have stopped at the first set of hills and called it a day. These people must have been smoking some pretty high-grade sage grass to want to trek up and down these mountains to establish a lot of “historic” places. Almost everywhere you look in Montana, something is historic. We haven’t quite figured out what, exactly, but if it made it to Montana, it was obviously good enough for the history books. Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame) has a lot of places named after him. Lewis, on the other hand, didn’t fare so well….. we haven’t even found a creek with his name yet. Even Sakajawea has a casino named after her! We were a little concerned at the top of one particularly high pass, when the sign warned us to beware of bighorn sheep. You know you’re too high when that becomes an issue. We were lucky to even be able to read that sign, because a snowstorm had whited out most of the others. Nui was not impressed. We stopped in the little town of Philipsburg and took a side trip up to Gem Mountain and met the owner Chris, who very kindly sold us a heavy bag of dirt. Because that’s what you do in Montana. Today, we took our bag of dirt to the local Gem Mountain store where Kenzie showed us how to find sapphires. Lucky for us, she spotted them, because that bag of dirt frankly looked just like a bag of dirt to us. In the end we came away with 17 carats of sapphires – which sounds like a lot but isn’t. The weather continues to be very cold and rainy (except when it snows) but there is promise of better weather ahead. Somewhere. Maybe. Tomorrow we are off to Yellowstone, after more quick repairs to the Beast, whose plumbing has given up the ghost.

Friday, 8 June 2012

The wonders of Wallace

What a great town! Prince and I had a leisurely breakfast, then he had a nice hot shower. I showered second and discovered that the hot water tank is just not as big as I thought. The morning was capped off by breaking in our brand new 15 foot sewer kit. What a thrill! Everything drained, all systems are working and the two of us smell like roses. You would think that would be the highlight of the day, but noooooooo….. Off we went for a tour of the Oasis Bordello, complete with a tour of the Madam’s main room including several wigs made out of feathers, a list of prices for various (ahem) services and even a chart showing the Canadian exchange rates. The bordello was a going concern from 1895 to 1988 when the feds cracked down. The ladies were given just minutes to get out and left everything from cigarettes in the ashtrays to clothes and even a bag of groceries on the counter. The tour guide explained the accounting practices, which would put the internal revenue service to shame. From there, we crossed the street to the Railroad station museum which was also very interesting and, we’re sure, provided many of the customers for the Oasis. We then took a very brief trolley tour and saw the sites of downtown Wallace (pop. 960). This took approximately 15 minutes. The downtown area looks much like it did in 1910 after the original town was destroyed by fire. It’s absolutely beautiful! Oh yes – and it’s also the Center of the Universe. We know because the signs tell us so and they even have a manhole cover to prove it. To round out the adventure, Prince and I then drove 8 miles to Burke, which is a ghost town. It was the most populated ghost town we’ve ever seen. The hotel was fascinating, since it had to be built over the creek and had 2 railway lines running through it. It was adjacent to an active mine and we didn’t wander around – for the very simple reason that the thing looked like it was about to collapse. All in all, it was a very good day. The torrential rains stopped as we got into the car and didn’t start up again until we got back in the late afternoon. The concept of dryness is beginning to take on a certain amount of importance in our lives. We may abandon the eastward trek and start driving south to try to find some heat and sunshine. Death Valley is beginning to sound very appealing.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

We found Wifi!!! Let’s hear it for McDonald’s! We caught up on a few emails over breakfast and then we were off on a short hop to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. What a nice city! The lady at the Visitor Centre was very helpful and gave us a lot of ideas of what to do in Coeur d’Alene. Unfortunately, most of these involved extensive walking which the Prince’s oxygen levels will not allow. We are regretting not bringing a mobility scooter, since everything we do is far or uphill. Nui isn’t exactly a gazelle either. The lady highly recommended Wallace, which was on our itinerary anyhow. On the way, we stopped at Cataldo, which has a mission era church on a hill. The church is stunning – all hand hewn wood, peg and post design, no nails, hand carved statues and even the original wallpaper from 150 years ago. Nui actually went into a church voluntarily and lightning did not strike. The tour guide/caretaker was very informative and pointed out several mysteries in the construction and decoration.

DDD finally

On the advice of the friendly people at Moses Lake, we pulled up at Medical Lake just outside of Spokane in a beautiful RV park called Ponderosa Pines. True to form, we just could not get away from water – we were assigned the only lot that was nearly submerged and had that swampy look about it. And we all know you can’t get Wifi in swamps. So, we unhitched and off we went to Spokane and the first Diners, Drive-ins and Dives – the incredible Hill’s restaurant. We were greeted by Rhonda, the Surly Server (just kidding) who told us what Guy Fieri had tried and recommended a few dishes. We were treated like Royalty! Rhonda introduced us to Steve, the manager and co-owner. Steve very willingly posed for a photo with us. Then the Chef, Dave Hill, came out to talk to us and we had our photo taken with him. Prince decided to be his usual adventurous self and we ordered clams as an appy. Nui, being a south seas goddess, had had them before and enjoyed them. Prince, however, found that clams are an acquired taste and he didn’t quite acquire it before our entrees arrived. The highlight of the appy was that they came with the best, freshly baked, warm bread, baked by Chef Dave. Nui tried to persuade Prince to buy several loaves to bring back to the Beast, to no avail. But those entrees!!!!! Wow!!!!! We both had the Chicken breast with the fresh pancetta in a brie cheese sauce. The pancetta was made by Chef Dave as well. So was the excellent seasoned salt. We asked him if he even raised the chickens but he said no. We finished it all off with home-made huckleberry ice cream (also made by Chef Dave – surprise!) We had toyed with the idea of the habanero vanilla ice cream but felt it would have been too much after that delicious meal. This was one of the best meals that either of us has had! We certainly recommend Hill’s Restaurant to everyone! After that a quick trip to Walmart to buy supplies and back home to relax in the swamp.

The Parting of the Waters

Tuesday (Day 2) – we hitched up under cloudy skies and that was pretty much the last time we were dry. Torrential rains hit us as soon as we left the Casino and did not stop until we got past the Snoqualmie pass…. Probably because it was so cold there were still 10 foot snow drifts on the ground. Nui was convinced we were going to need snow chains, as the road signs indicated. However, even the snow was replaced – this time by unbelievably strong winds in the Vantage area, which greatly improved our mileage as they were coming right behind us. We almost got to see a petrified forest, but had to be content with a couple of stumps and a stone dinosaur. The views of the high plains were outstanding. In fact, we still have a tumbleweed stuck under the Beast. A few miles later and we were in Moses Lake, at a very nice park (Pier 4). And like Moses, the waters finally parted and we had a beautiful sunset. The people have been very friendly so far – perhaps because they sense our desperation since we are flying blind as we STILL can’t get reliable Wifi access. The water problems were not quite over, however. The shower taps both went at the same time, which caused non-stop dripping for 2 days. We had a bit of a linguistic hurdle but soon learned that taps are, in fact, called faucets here in Northeastern Washington. This was reminiscent of the Jug/Pitcher incident that Prince endured in Fort Lauderdale. This minor setback resulted in a 4 hour delay in Moses Lake, while the faucets got replaced. And then we were off to Spokane.

Friday, 1 June 2012

And We're Off

Finally, the big day has arrived.  Today, we bussed Babe and Buddy in the Beast to the Border, where we promptly got searched because of a banana.  We then drove the Beast to Blaine, Washington, followed by lunch at Bob’s Burgers and Brews.  Then off to  Bellingham  where  we bid Buddy and Babe bye bye.  Boy what a day.  A quick one hour drive to Arlington, Washington brought us to the Angel of the Winds Casino where we were assigned the only RV parking spot that does not have Wifi.   Our luck didn’t hold out much better in the casino itself, where we not only couldn't get Wifi but also lost a significant amount of gas money. 

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Prologue.... the Big Beastly Adventure Begins

This has been a hectic few days.  After his arrival on Tuesday, Prince remarked that it was a waste of “wheel estate” to leave the Beast parked in Nui’s driveway.  And so began a 3-day marathon of list making, frantic packing and ultimately the decision to just fling everything moveable from Nui’s condo into the Beast and head out on Friday.  Before they left, Prince told Nui she had one more job to do – remove the stitches from a wound on his shoulder.  A pair of cuticle scissors, some magnifying glasses, and a bit of whiskey and the surgery was a success.  At least so far.  We arrived at Park Canada and immediately had to go set up for Festival Polynesia.  Prince was assigned the job of polishing the coconut bras – a task he thoroughly enjoyed.   For the next two days, poor Prince had to sit through dozens of Hawaiian and Tahitian dances performed by young, nubile women who were being judged by two Polynesian experts, Babe and Buddy (more to follow)  Unfortunately, we couldn’t let the world know about his South Seas adventures because Park Canada doesn’t have Wifi or much of anything else except maybe dogs.

The Beast lies in wait.... we started loading the R.V. between little bouts of rain(apparently that's how things are here in B.C.). Medigas delivered my extra oxygen bottles so now I don't have to worry about power outages.. I can breath easy..haha. Our spot is booked Monday night at the R.V. park attached to the Angel of the Winds Casino in Arlington Washington. I hope I have better luck there than I did in Vegas and Atlantic City. I'm sure it will be great and I will win the proper amount of money to put gas in the beast.. that's the plan. Tomorrow we leave for the Festival Polynesia. This will be fun!!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Prince Has Arrived!

Prince Porketta has made it to Vancouver, thanks to the tender loving care of the people at Air Canada.  Just as he touched down, the clouds parted and brilliant rays of sunshine descended on our rain-drenched city.  An omen?  A portent of things to come?  Are those angels I hear singing in the distance?

The Prince and I wasted no time in accelerating our training for the Big Beastly Adventure.  We immediately set forth to resume our vigorous schedule of marathon sitting and food consumption.  Of course, we also rigorously continued our efforts to maintain adequate fluid levels which, as we all know, will keep us from making bad decisions.

Our loyal readers will be pleased to learn that we are in top form for this Trek and truly feel that we will be able to travel 1.6 hours per day, as scheduled.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Another bad habit I have to conquer

Who is the genius that put the RV's emergency brake in the exact same spot as where the clutch should be?

Having driven a standard shift all my life, my automatic reaction is to step on the clutch whenever I start to slow down.  Needless to say, stepping on the emergency brake really slows you down in a hurry. 

Good thing I bought a lot of bungee cords - I'm going to have to tether my left leg at the ankle so I can't slam on the "clutch" and send poor Prince out the windshield.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

No Longer a Virgin TOAD Puller

I had to bring the Beast from storage to my place yesterday - which is about a 1.5 hour drive away. I've never driven the Beast more than 20 minutes in any direction. I've never towed ANYTHING. (okay - one little 10 gallon honey wagon, but that doesn't count)

I was going to drive at 5 a.m. to try to stay clear of traffic. However, I figured that I have to learn to deal with everything, so I strapped on the TOAD, managed to get on the freeway without incident, drove through 2 narrow construction zones, one very long bridge, several curves, up long hills and through thick Saturday afternoon traffic. Other than almost taking out a car at the off ramp, the worst part was the last 50 feet. I forgot about height and scraped the side of the RV against low hanging trees. And I had to unhitch and back up to make the last corner before the driveway.

I have discovered that I have a very heavy foot..... it was hard keeping the Beast at a steady 55 mph.  It (that is, I), kept pushing to 60 to 65.  Unfortunately, I found out that this makes it really hard to slow down when you're going downhill.

But all in all, it was a good day. Nobody died, although a few probably came close to having heart attacks.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

A Word of Caution

It is well known that I am 100% responsible for the weather within 100 miles of my immediate vicinity.  And not in a good way.

We have been tracking things for over 25 years.  I don't think it's a coincidence that the heat wave ends less than a day before I get to Sudbury..... every single year!  I don't think it's random chance that droughts that make headline news end on the day that I arrive in a foreign country and the downpours continue until I'm through the security gate on the return trip.  And is it a surprise to anyone that temperatures drop to record cold within 20 minutes of my arrival anywhere?

So, Prince, to answer your question on what clothes to bring:  my answer would be skis and thermal undies.  I've already bought a heater.

Only 1 week to go!!

Only one week to go before I squeeze my over sized derriere into Air Canada's undersized seats. That along with my portable air concentrator doesn't leave much room to wiggle (if I felt like wiggling in a plane)
I'm always a little concerned that the bottom will fall out of those little turbo-props but I suppose they know what they are doing.
So, what do I pack??? Shorts or snow pants? t-shirts or hoodies? sandals or mukluks?  What's the weather in Montana in June?  To add to the challenge Air Canada charges per bag so my cheap Aeroplan flight may cost me the price of a charter if I bring everything I may need haha.  I imagine they sell clothes in the States so maybe I'll just bring enough to get me going then deal with it as it comes.  Since Harper (our Prime Minister) changed the rules, I can bring back as much stuff as I can afford...ok so that's not saying much but maybe after we stop at a casino I'll be able to afford to bring back more... That is my strategy!!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Woohooo..the last hurdle has been jumped (figuratively speaking of course) Air Canada has approved my flight to Vancouver with my oxygen concentrator so I'll be breathing like the rich people while being comfortably ferried across this wonderful country. The Big Beastly Adventure starts in just 9 days. Any suggestions or advice is appreciated.

Monday, 14 May 2012

This RVing thing is going to take some getting used to

Well here's a 'duh' moment for you.  I've been dithering about how I'm going to get the Beast from Chilliwack to my place, across 4 different single-lane construction zones, and then get it out to Tsawwassen so we can stay in it during Festival Polynesia.  My concern is that I didn't want to park it in an old folks' home driveway with the generator running for 3 days.   Here's where the "DUH" comes in..... I finally started wondering if maybe, just maybe, there was an RV park in Tsawwassen.  Sure enough - there's a really nice one only 8 minutes from the Festival venue!!!  RV parking appears to be an art in itself, it seems.... and I'm no artist.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Spring training in Florida is done

I had a wonderful 2 weeks here preparing for the Big Beastly Adventure across the northern states. Wow, can you imagine...Vancouver B.C. to Sudbury Ontario in only 25 days!!  haha
I like the hints that were posted here, particularly the one about putting a clip on the steering wheel to remind ourselves to lower the antenna or other pre-flight checks that are needed. Thanks.
So, I have sat and enjoyed beverages, ate at many restaurants, some good, some not so good. I got some sun and a bit of a burn so I'm ready for tanning but i don't think that will be a time waster in the northern states in June.  Going back to Sudbury for a couple of weeks to do the cold weather training.  I have to be ready for anything.
Only 23 days until I fly to Vancouver.... This will be fun!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Banging and Rattling Down the Road

I think the most exhausting thing about driving the Beast is the NOISE everything inside makes!  Banging, rattling, shifting around.  I'm beginning to suspect I'm doing something wrong.  Maybe I shouldn't drive with 2 wheels in the ditch.

I don't have a lot of stuff, since everything I own for camping is stored in my trailer in Northern Ontario.  Maybe once the cupboards are stocked, things won't rattle around so much. 

With 27 days to go, there is still so much to learn:  how to work the Satellite dish; figure out what the inverter does and how to use it; figure out how to open the awning; fix the TV antenna; figure out the water purifier unit; and, best of all, learn how to tow a car when the biggest thing I've ever towed is a semi-full honey wagon.  All part of the experience.  By the time we get to Wenatchee, I expect to be an expert. 

Prince may want to get some prescription tranquilizers in the meantime, though :-)

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sunday is a day of rest...

I can understand why professional sport teams come to Florida to train every year. It has a lot to offer pro athletes like myself..haha. On Friday we went to a chocolate festival.  It was really good. I participated in a wine and chocolate pairing workshop. I found out I like wine with my chocolate...or was it chocolate with my wine??? Either way, it was a fine time.
On Saturday we went to the All-American Pie festival in Celebration Florida.  The never ending pie buffet was a good challenge but I think we did ok. I can still feel the coconut cream coursing through my veins...
Today we rest and work on the sitting part of this training.  It's suppose to go up to 90 degrees so a good brisk sit is appropriate.  Wish me luck.

Friday, 27 April 2012

The training is going good

Here's an update... I've been in the Kissimmee/Orlando Florida area for almost a week and I've done some premium sitting here at the pool and in the hot tub.  Yesterday we went and sat at Daytona Beach. It's great because we can still drive right on the beach so I don't have to drag my oxygen concentrator too far. Throughout all this intense sitting I've managed to have a few cold drinks. I had an exceptionally good Margarita in  Old Town which is a section in Kissimmee that has a bunch of shops and a few bars. It's very nice. I've also been training in restaurants like Shonney's and Cracker Barrel. For those who know these places, you understand the commitment it takes to get through all the food they bring you.  So far, so good.  Next week we may try sitting on the gulf coast. I'll let you know.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Training Has Begun

The training has begun... I leave for Florida tomorrow to start a rigorous training process of sitting and relaxing while enjoying a cold beverage.  I have to admit I have the sitting part of this down to a science but the rest of it will take some intense concentration.
I almost got to practice my long distance driving because Air Canada informed me a few days ago that they no longer provide supplemental oxygen for those of us who need it so I had to scramble and arrange for my own stuff but it is all taken care of and I will be basking in the sun for 2 wonderful weeks.
Once I get back I will talk to Air Canada and see if they will bring me to Vancouver. I'm sure it will all work out...after all, I am the Prince.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'.....

Well, maybe that should read "Crawlin', Crawlin', Crawlin'...."

Got the tow plate put on Zippy yesterday and towed it roughly 500 yards back to the RV place.  Woohoo....didn't hit anything, didn't kill anyone, didn't roll the RV.  All in all, it was a good day.

While I was waiting for Zippy to get fixed up, I took the Beast out for a drive.  It's getting easier but I'm still having problems with left hand turns.  Also right hand turns.  Curves in the road too.  I'm really getting the hang of driving down straight stretches though.  I figure I'll do really well on the prairies.  Too bad there are all those pesky mountains in the way (although I suppose going straight up and then straight down is still going straight).

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Speaking of girth....

Prince Porketta and I have been making lists of places to go and things to do.  Seems that we're going to zigzag across the northern States, basically following the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives map.  We've even decided to go further south to Salt Lake City to try out the Aztec cuisine at the Red Iguana.  I was disappointed that there doesn't appear to be iguana on the menu, but I suppose that it is an acquired taste (tastes like chicken, or so I've been told).

Using even minimum calorie estimates, I figure that by the time we reach Grundy Lake, they will have to use prybars and a forklift to get us out of the Beast.  The good news is that, being round, we will roll really well.

For those wondering why I love Grundy, here's a pic of the view from last year's lot, in the early morning.  It shows the small island that I swim to a couple times a day.  After the DDD trip, I may have to up that to 3 or 4 times a day!