Scooter racing

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

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Freezing Our Balloons Off


It is a well-known fact that whenever Nui arrives at a new destination, the weather immediately turns cold and rainy.  This is such a common phenomenon that she has seriously thought of renting out her services to places that need water - such as Egypt or the Australian Outback.  Things have not changed in Yuma.  The weather gods took a while to catch on to the fact that she had arrived but, as expected, the weather turned nasty just in time for the annual Colorado River Balloon Festival.  Yuma got almost as much rain in a couple of days than it gets in a year. 

The rains abated (finally) but the weather remained very cold and windy on the night of the Balloon Glow.   This is an awe inspiring event, which has 20 or so hot air balloons tethered in a stadium.  At nightfall, they are all inflated and the sight of so many lit up balloons is really something to see (so they tell us).  On top of that, they offer tethered balloon rides, which RRR really wanted to do.  Being hardy Canadians, we ignored the cold and damp and trooped out to the stadium, paid our admission and sat in the bleachers for about 30 seconds before they announced the event was cancelled.  The fireworks show was still on though, so we sat and watched a whole lot of nothing for about an hour, ignoring the fact that we could no longer feel our extremities.  The fireworks lasted about 10 minutes, which was fine since by then we were pretty much the only audience.  All in all, it was a rather disappointing evening.  On the other hand, it got us acclimatized to cold weather again, which is going to be useful since we're heading home in a few days.  RRR's family has been telling us about the several inches of snow that awaits her.  Sigh......

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

We Have To Come Up With A New Hobby

Up to now, we have been "rock hounding" the easy way - we buy bags of dirt which have been seeded with semi-precious stones, bring them back to the campground and then spend leisurely afternoons picking through small piles of gravel, looking for gems.   Today, Syd and Lynda took us out for real, honest to goodness, gold mining.  We had visions of hauling out huge nuggets, which would allow us to purchase a new RV complete with a chauffeur.


Out we went to the hills outside Yuma, where even the cactus is drying out from thirst.  We were informed that the diamond back rattlesnakes would probably not be a problem, since they are hibernating.  We sincerely hoped that the snakes knew that!  After bumping up and down gravel roads (which, btw, are still in better shape than the roads in Sudbury), we arrived at a hill and set up our chairs in the shade of a mesquite bush.  Syd, who was sick as a dog, jumped down into a hole and began heaving up large buckets full of sand and rocks.  We deposited these on a shaker platform, which skims off the big rocks and, with luck, lets  the gold get trapped in the bottom.  The remaining
sand then had to be washed several times before we could start looking for the gold.  It is backbreaking work - and the end result is that we won't be buying a new RV anytime soon.  Or, for that matter, a dollar-store xmas ornament.


We then took a sightseeing trip in the area, looking at old claims, a pioneer cemetery and the remains of the mining town of Dome (one wall).  We ended up at what is probably the world's smallest church, where RRR fulfilled her dream of giving the congregation a blessing.

 It was a fun day but we decided that it might be a good idea to come up with Plan B for getting rich.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Hola From Mexico!


What a great day we had!   Syd and Lynda invited us to join them on a day trip to the town of Los Algodones, Mexico.   We took off in 95 degree heat and walked (or in our case, scootered) across the border into one of the most confusing, loud, frenetic marketplaces we have ever seen.  From the moment you set foot in Mexico, the vendors are after you to buy something.  The "real gold" necklaces start at $100 but within seconds you can walk away with them for just $20.00.  If you start to walk away fast enough, you can usually get these priceless treasures for $5.00.  The merchandise is piled everywhere so you basically have to move in a single file and run a gauntlet of people trying to sell you everything and anything.  Oddly enough, the biggest commodity is dental work and many people cross the border for dental work at an incredible discount.  You can't turn a corner without finding a dentist - one of them even moonlights (daylights?) as a singer in a band playing in a courtyard restaurant.  She has a great voice - nice to know she has something to fall back on if her dental practice doesn't pick up.

Nui and RRR indulged in having their scooters hand-painted with desert scenes.  The artist (Marlon) can do amazing things with spray paint, plastic bags and cardboard!

On our return to the USA, we took a side trip to see sand dunes in California.  What a sight!  It looks like the Sahara Desert.  We were told that, later this winter, this area will have thousands of people camped out on the grounds for dune buggy rallies.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Welcome to Stepford..... I mean Yuma


Holy cow this place is scary!  We suspect that the entire population of Yuma has been taken over by alien beings disguised as innocent cactus.  Everything is neat as a pin, all the units are adorned with metal lawn ornaments or ornamental shrubbery, there are wind chimes everywhere, but it's the people who are the scariest….. all the men wear polo shirts, bermuda shorts and baseball caps; all the women have short, spiky white hair, wear capris and cap-sleeved t-shirts.   And they all walk or bicycle endlessly in circles, although there seems to be a timetable:  the first walk is around 8 a.m., the last walk is just before nightfall, around  5:30.  People congregate for happy hour at 4 p.m., which ends immediately at 5 p.m. since the pods….er, people, have to eat at 5 p.m.  By 8 p.m.,  everyone is behind closed doors, by 9 p.m. there are very few lights left on.  Everyone is up at the crack of dawn since most of the activities start between 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.   Evening events  start at 7 p.m. and end at 9 p.m.,  but the place is usually deserted long before that time.

Nui and RRR have successfully resisted becoming pods for now.  In fact, they have already gained a reputation as "characters", which, unfortunately, is not considered an asset here.  They have introduced a propane fireplace to the community, which has led several residents to stay outside well past 9 p.m.  Radicals!!! 

Cracks are beginning to show, however.  RRR had her hair cut, although thankfully she has resisted spiking it up.  Nui was seen artfully arranging her chairs in a circle around the fireplace.  That's how the pods get you, you know….. first it's a few lawn chairs, then they'll be buying purple and orange metal peacock lawn statues.  A scary, scary future is at hand.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

We Made It!!!

We spent the night in Gila Bend, at a truck stop.  Nothing much to report - certainly not much scenery to talk about unless you really like gravel. 

We arrived in Yuma, safe and sound, on Sunday at 2 p.m.  The only glitch was the (&*)(*#& GPS which sent us left instead of right, thereby giving us a tour of Yuma.  We set up in no time at all and we were off to the pool for a nice refreshing dip before dinner.  It is extremely hot, although the nights are cool.  The park is small but so far the natives seem friendly.  Our friends, Lynda and Syd, are parked just behind us and we are already making plans to go see the broccoli fields, a trip to Mexico and a gold-panning expedition.  We'd write more but we have to play cards now and then go to bed because aquacize starts at 9 a.m.  The life of a retiree is a busy one!

Friday, 1 November 2013

We came, we saw, we shopped in Tombstone

The day after the Hallowe'en party, we took the locals' advice and headed off to Tombstone.  What a great afternoon!  The whole area is one big wild west town..... although, we're pretty sure that Wyatt Earp and Big Nose Kate (Doc Holliday's girlfriend) didn't have quite the variety of shopping that we enjoyed.  Nui took advantage of the atmosphere and paid to fire a six-shooter at a target.  She got 5 out of 6 lung and heart shots!  Hmmm....could be a whole new career ahead of her.  We enjoyed looking at all the people dressed in period costumes, and had a great afternoon just wandering the wooden sidewalks around the town.  RRR tried her very first frozen yogurt and loved it!  She's getting used to trying new and unusual things.  In fact, h
er next adventure may be a hot air balloon ride.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Unfashionably early....but a Hula-va good time!


 
We left Las Cruces and travelled to Benson, which is most famous for Tombstone and the fight at the OK Corral.  We're staying at the beautiful Cochise Terrace Park at an elevation of 4100 feet.  After arriving we hurried to take our showers, have dinner and get into make-up and our "Hula Mama" costumes.  We made it to the hall and arrived to….nothing.  Not a soul around, but it was decorated.  So we sat there and noticed that the time was an hour earlier than what RRR's watch said.  It turns out that Arizona isn't quite in the same time zone as New Mexico and we were an hour early for everything.   Finally people started arriving, the excellent one-man band started playing, and people started line-dancing and having a great time.  Most of the costumes were of the witch variety, but one woman came dressed as a bag lady - hilarious.  RRR impressed the crowd with her dancing accompanied by her walker.  She got a lot of applause every time she got up.  Nui was invited to do a hula, to music which was a mix of country, rap and Hawaiian.   We then lined up for the costume contest but didn't win anything.  However, it turns out the judges wanted to give the top prize to Nui and RRR but couldn't because it was for a free breakfast and we were supposed to leave in the morning.  People were incredibly friendly and wanted us to stick around for the winter.  We met a great couple from Switzerland and spent the evening trying to understand each other's French.  One fellow offered us a guided tour of Tombstone, so we're staying an extra day and going to the OK Corral.

 

Windblown in Las Cruces



We arrived in Las Cruces after an uneventful trip out of El Paso.  We stayed 2 days and did a short sightseeing tour of La Mesilla, a quaint little village known for chili peppers.  It was incredibly windy, so we were glad to stay put for a couple of days.  We called Benson, Arizona, our next destination, and were told that there was a Hallowe'en party scheduled for Thursday.  Nui has nothing but hula costumes and she even had an extra blue muumuu for RRR.  It was several sizes too large but it had some drawstrings.  So, on our last night in Las Cruces, RRR spent nearly 2 hours bent over the dress on her bed, hemming it with light mauve thread. 

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

El Paso on $500.00 a Day!


There we were, on our way out of Van Horn, Texas, on a beautiful Sunday morning.  The road was excellent, the sky was clear, there was little traffic and we were feeling quite mellow.  The two of us were reminiscing about how great things have been going - no bad weather, no foul ups, excellent sightseeing, great (with one exception) campsites, and the Beast was behaving beautifully.  At that exact moment, the Beast gave a great big cough and started to rattle deep in its bones.  We pulled off the road, in the middle of nowhere, 50 miles from Van Horn and 81 miles from El Paso.  There's a whole lot of nothing in this part of Texas, except for heat, flies and semi trucks.  We thought we had a flat but everything that was supposed to be round was still round.  A call to CoachNet resulted in a tow truck arriving about 3 hours later.  We piled our stuff into Zippy (the car) and headed out to El Paso to wait for the Beast to arrive.

 The good news was that we managed to break down in the only place that was literally crawling with truck and RV repair service centres.  They were all over the place!
 
The other good news was that the damage wasn't fatal.  A spark plug broke loose and damaged a coil.  They figured we would be out of there first thing in the morning.  Ha!!!  Things are never that easy with the Beast.  It turns out that whoever put the plugs in, stripped the threads and the whole thing had to be replaced.  Naturally, parts were hard to get.

 The end result was a bill for $830 plus 2 nights in a motel and meals. 
 
A big thanks to Steve, the tow truck driver and mechanic, and to Gilbert Duran, one of the owners of Duran and Son's Service Centre, who went out of their way to ensure that we got our repairs done very well and as quickly as possible.

With all that, we never did get to go sightseeing in El Paso, although we managed to buy LOTS of food at Walmart.

There is a new house rule:  no one is to mention how good anything is going until AFTER we have parked for the night.  Even then, there's a chance we might irritate the gods of the open road, so we're going to keep such comments to a minimum.
 

Thursday, 24 October 2013

We apologize for setting fire to San Antonio


Life is full of surprises.  So imagine our surprise when we drove over some debris on our way out of town.  This was soon followed by a strong smell of burning rubber.  This was followed soon after by a lot of honking and pointing from a passing truck driver.  At about this point, we noticed that the very dry grass on either side of the road behind us was on fire.  This led to a certain amount of anxiety.  We pulled over and did a quick check of the Beast and Zippy.  All 10 tires were still round and there was no sign of trouble.   A very friendly San Antonio State Trooper stopped and also had a look and then very kindly stopped traffic on the Interstate to allow us to pull out and be on our merry way.

 Did I mention how friendly and polite the Texas people have been?  They allow us to cut into traffic, they make room for us on tight turns and now even the police are stopping miles of traffic to accommodate us.

We surmise that some of the debris we ran over got caught under the Beast and ignited.  There doesn't seem to be much wrong, but we haven't lowered the jacks yet.  We're hoping it wasn't a burn through the hydraulic lines.

 So, after an exhausting day, we arrived at what we were told was a very nice RV park in Ozona, TX.  We're staying here because the name was cool and, since we're 2500 hundred feet up, we figure we're close to the ozone layer.  However, we'll have to look up the definition of "nice" in Texas.  It is a pure gravel lot, no trees, no landscaping.  The lots point in the wrong direction, and all of the roads end in a fence, so there is no way to loop around them.  The only alternative was to unhook the car and back out.  By this time, Nui was exhausted so we decided to semi-boondock and paid the handsome price of $15.00 to park in the driveway with no lights, water or sewer.  To be fair, a horde of nice people came out to help direct Nui in backing up the Beast.  Did I mention how nice the people are here in Texas.

So, we're spending the night and we're off to Van Horn, TX tomorrow.  Keep your fingers crossed that the jacks are not burned.

 

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Holy Mole..... San Antonio is fun!

 
What a great week this has been!  For the past 3 days we have enjoyed an outstanding visit with our relatives in San Antonio, Patricia and David.  On the first day, we ventured out on a 40 minute river cruise which took us through the San Antonio river and adjoining canals and showed off the stupendous architecture and the vibrant lifestyle on the river.  That afternoon also saw us take the wrong trolley bus, which toured us around in circles and finally let us off at the Alamo, which was going to be on our "to do" list for the next day.  It turns out that the Alamo doesn't have guided tours and the big attraction is simply to look at the fort.  So we did.  And took pictures.  Then it was off to Patty and Dave's for a 4 course meal which was delicious!


We were too exhausted to do much on day 2, so Patty and Dave came out for the evening for a pizza dinner.  Patty brought along her unbelievable lemon pie topped with marshmallow fluff.  Calories cling to you just by inhaling in the same vicinity.

Today we toured some of the gorgeous old mansions in the downtown core, then went for a late lunch at Mi Tierra which was somewhat decorated for Christmas already.  RRR tried authentic Mexican food for the first time.  She was a bit leery of the guacamole but, in true pioneer spirit, she ate it and then ordered a plate of enchiladas with pollo (chicken) and mole (spicy cocoa based sauce).   We then spent the afternoon at El Mercado, a funky Mexican market place where RRR showed remarkable restraint in her purchases.

The day was capped by a gift of fresh, home-baked pecan square made by the indomitable Patty.  Nui is a bit concerned that she is not going to fit behind the wheel when we leave tomorrow.




Sunday, 20 October 2013

Texas..... it may be big, but you can find things

We have been in Texas for 3 days now and must say that we're impressed.  With the exception of the Texarkana KOA, all the parks are where they say they are, the roads are fantastic, drivers are polite, the GPS has no trouble finding routes and, all in all, it has been a relaxing drive.  From Texarkana, we went to Tyler, but we were too lazy to unhook the car so we missed seeing their Rose festival.  From Tyler, it was on to Montgomery, just outside Houston.  A beautiful park!  Today, we have arrived in New Braunfels, just outside San Antonio.  Tomorrow, we'll be visiting with relatives and seeing the sights of the city.  There is a bit of confusion about our location.... it is billed as a "small, German town".  If they consider this small, Vancouver must be considered a village.  I know everything is big in Texas but dang....an 8-lane highway through the centre of town!!

This is our furthest point South and from here on we start to head west. 

One oddity... the further south we go, the colder it has been getting.  We were starting to wonder if the GPS was sending us to Whitehorse, and, if so, why they all talked with a funny accent and wore overalls and cowboy hats.  Even RRR has been wearing a sweater and, for those who know her, you know that this is a phenomenon that doesn't happen until the brass monkeys need to be brought in.  We are assured that things will warm up, although no one is saying when. 

Friday, 18 October 2013

Digging for Diamonds, Princess Style


So off we went to the Crater of Diamonds, which is about an hour and a half away from Hot Springs in Murfreesboro (which is very hard to say - try it).  The highlight of the drive was the deer that jumped directly in front of the car on the way into the park. 

The staff at the park couldn't have been more surly or unhelpful if they had tried.  No one can be that miserable unless they've taken lessons.  We weren't impressed.  The Kafe which they advertise is only open on weekends - you'd think their website would mention that.  One look at the crater made us decide to make other plans.  Picture a field of mud, with a few people knee deep in the furrows, digging through dirt with a trowel.  Most were wearing waders, rubber boots or weird bright yellow rubber clown socks over their shoes.  No one was smiling.  Based on this, we decided to go the easy route and buy bags of dirt to take with us. 

On our way back from the crater, we stopped at Buddy's Hawg House for lunch.  The server at the restaurant sure made up for the people at the crater.  She was friendly, gregarious and took really good care of us.  She was astounded that we'd never seen a hush puppy and had the cook make some up for us.  Ever the adventurer, Nui tried her very first hush puppy and a Po'Boy sandwich made with catfish.  Both were delicious!  Sure made up for the turnip greens the other night (another adventure gone horribly wrong).

Thanks also to the guys at the garage next door who came out and reattached Nui's dash board section, which got pulled out when she had to fight to get the brake buddy loose.  Sigh....

Yesterday, we set up at a nice, cozy picnic table in the sun in Texarkana and started digging for diamonds in a more civilized fashion.  We think we've found a couple - one of which is a fairly good size.  For now we'll call it a diamond....until someone with authority tells us it's quartz.

Message for Patty.... San Antonio bound

Patty - Can't find your email address.  We'll be in San Antonio on Sunday or Monday.  Are you around?

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Spa........aaaaaaaaaah


We awoke today to pouring rain so we had to find an indoor adventure.  What better to stay out of the rain than to go get soaking wet at a mineral bath.  Off we went to the Buckstaff Spa, where we enjoyed 1.5 hours of mineral soaks, hot towel compresses, steam closets, needle showers and a full body Swedish massage.  What a way to spend an afternoon!!!


Tomorrow we're off to the Diamond Crater where we hope to be able to find the mother of all diamonds.  Of course, we're taking the easy way out and we'll probably just tour the gift shop and buy bags of dirt to sift at our own pace.  This is much easier than slogging through 37 acres of mud on our hands and knees looking for diamonds or anything that remotely looks like a diamond.  Our way is more expensive but it's a lot cleaner.  On the other hand, if we were really dirty, we might have to go back to the Spa……hmmmmmmmmm.

Rockin' It in Hot Springs, AR


The point of this trip was to get out on the road and see the sights.  Imagine our surprise, therefore, when it turns out that the only sights we see consistently are churches.  There are Baptist churches, Pentecostal, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Evangelical,  the ever popular Church of the Highway and, of course, Harvey's Church.  In some areas, there are more churches than there are people.

 Poor RRR…… she's developing sore arms from blessing herself every time we pass one.  We had to stop her from kneeling because she was getting blisters on her knees.

 We arrived at the KOA in Hot Springs, Arkansas on Sunday.  Imagine our surprise when we spotted our old friends, Syd and Lynda, sitting on a campsite just up the hill from us.  Their trip to South Dakota was cancelled on account of 50 inches of snow, which would discourage most RV'ers .  We spent Canadian Thanksgiving with them at Cracker Barrel Restaurant - loads of fun and, for once, all we bought was food.  All the Xmas stuff is out and it's been pretty tempting.  Lynda and Syd are heading for Yuma tomorrow. 

Yesterday we went rock hounding - or at least rock shopping.  The area is known for its crystal rock formations and we spent several hours browsing through piles of coloured rocks on Mount Ida.  It is amazing what comes out of the earth!  Nui had to be forcibly stopped from buying massive amethyst and aquamarine rocks - the poor Beast couldn’t carry that much more weight.  We bought bags of dirt which contain emeralds, topaz, rubies, garnet, tourmaline and a variety of unpronounceable semi-precious stones.   Unfortunately, today it's pouring rain so we can't do our mining thing so we may just end up going to one of the mineral baths for a spa day.  The idea of sitting in a hot mineral bath and then being wrapped in hot towels sounds pretty appealing.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Boondocking in Arkansas

We stayed an extra day in Springfield to rest up and load up on supplies.  This included a grand total of 22 pairs of undies for RRR, since we're both too lazy (I mean busy) to do laundry.
 
Today we hit the road again and here we are in beautiful Jonesboro, Arkansas, sitting in a Home Depot parking lot because neither the GPS nor several of the locals had ever heard of Perkins Rv Park.  We should have known there would be a problem when we called ahead and asked to make a reservation and the person who answered the phone said "a whut?".   They assured us they'd have room, which goes without saying since no one can find the place.  The park website says it's on Parker Road but the address takes you to a very narrow side road and what looks like an abandoned restaurant.  The GPS says that Perkins RV is smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood and it was quite a bit of fun getting the Beast out of those narrow streets.  We drove around for an hour, called the park several times with no response and finally gave up.  We pulled into a Home Depot parking lot and the very nice customer service person told us to go ahead and set up for the night.  We were even luckier to arrive just as an antique car club was gearing up for an event and spent a few great hours listening to music from the 60s and early 70s.  We then grabbed chairs and sat outside, wearing t-shirts and shorts.  The mosquitoes, however, drove us back inside.  Mosquitoes….. in October!!!!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Ooooooo........Aaaahhhhhhhhh!


Come on Down.....to Springfield Missouri.  We've been here for 4 days and have had a great time.  The weather has been outstanding, the people are extremely helpful and friendly, the food is great and the entertainment…..what a time we've had!  On day 1, we stayed in Springfield and did a trolley tour through the Fantastic Caverns.  The caves are well-named:  they were fantastic.  The tour guide explained the history of the caves, which were originally explored by 12 local women.  She even told us how to make gunpowder out of dried, boiled bat guano.  You don't get that information from just anywhere!  And who knows, it might come in handy.  We also found a way to make a neat flashlight out of a coffee can and a candle - can't wait to try it at Grundy.

The next day saw us in Carthage, where we visited the Precious Moments museum and chapel.  It was a very inspirational tour - they certainly take their bible studies seriously out here.   There were a lot of references to people from the old testament so Nui was a bit lost although RRR said she'd at least heard of some of them.   Unfortunately for us, there was a huge gift shop attached to the museum.  Needless to say, the Beast is now home to several Precious Moments figurines and  one really huge peridot colored crystal ring.  Seriously, though, it was an amazing tour and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Today, we were off to Branson.  After driving the strip and admiring some of the local architecture, we had a bit of time on our hands….. so we went to a psychic for palm reading and tarot cards.  The results were a bit dubious, but you get what you pay for.  Then it was off to the Welk Resort where we participated in a live version of the Price is Right.  This was a lot of fun and we got to Ooooo and Ahhhh along with the crowd at all the prizes.  We registered to be contestants but, sadly, our luck was not with us.  Maybe we should have bought a charm or two from the psychic to improve our chances.  We met some interesting people in the lobby and had our photo taken with the handsome Johnny, who came dressed for the occasion.

 Tomorrow is a rest day, then we're off to Arkansas and digging for diamonds.  RRR will have to take off her ring for that little chore.

 

 

 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

See the World in Just one Day

We left Cloverdale, IN on a rainy Saturday and drove less than 20 miles before re-discovering sunshine.  The new GPS was intent on sending us down small, narrow country roads to get to I-70 but Nui ignored her and eventually she settled down and sent us on our way to our new destination.  There was only one short moment of confusion when the GPS got the exit wrong and we missed the turn onto I-55 and had to detour through downtown St. Louis.  No big deal - it turned out that the detour saved us a lot of time since we avoided a huge traffic jam at the I-55 turn-off.

A pleasant 4-hour drive down excellent roads led us to our next destination, the Ladybug RV Resort in Cuba!  This is a great little park and the owners are very friendly and accommodating.  We stayed overnight and left the next day for Springfield, MO.  Imagine our delight, therefore, when we discovered that from Cuba, we were going to Paris and then Lebanon! All that international travel from the comfort of the Beast and in only 3 hours.  We are now at the Springfield, MO KOA (not the Springfield, IL KOA as previously booked!) and we're going cave-touring this afternoon.  We're heading out tomorrow for the Precious Moments Chapel (I know - Nui will probably burst into flame) and then on Thursday we're heading for Branson and a Live version of the Price is Right.  Should be a fun couple of days!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Clueless in Cloverdale

We arrived in Cloverdale on Friday after some very tense hours on the road.  The GPS decided to pack it in and, of course, we don't have a map.  The GPS would not charge and we had to rely on the remaining battery power.  RRR spent hours pressing the "stay on" button, trying desperately to keep the unit going until we got past Indianapolis.  We made it to the Cloverdale RV park just in time.  Nui was able to charge it just enough to allow her to find a Walmart and buy a new Garmin.  The new unit sucks - it has a horrible, whiny female voice instead of the deep baritone we're used to and half the usual applications are missing.  Still, it stays on which is a real treat.

This morning, we awoke to torrential rain and thunderstorms.  Nui took this photo of RRR coming home after (and also during) a shower.

We therefore decided to stay put for one more day, since we did not have a chance to see the wonders of Cloverdale, which is renowned for its covered bridges.  These may or may not be amazing attractions because we had to look for an hour and a half before finding just one of them.  Cloverdale's budget doesn't appear to allow for signage.  You would think that if covered bridges were your big claim to fame, you would at least stick a sign up somewhere.  Even the locals couldn't tell us much about where to find them.

To cap off the day, we bent one of the retaining pins on the tow assembly.  Even though the sales person had told Nui this was not possible to do, she still managed.  Fortunately, she had the foresight to buy extras and we will be able to leave tomorrow for Cuba, MO as scheduled.  EXCEPT..... Nui slammed the car door on the adaptor for the "Brake Buddy", which smashed to bits and the fuse broke.  Ever resourceful, we found a new fuse and glued/taped the adaptor together.  The way our luck is running, we expect the car to burst into flames sometime tomorrow morning.

RRR says trouble comes in 3's (notice the 3 R's in her name).  So:  GPS, bent pin, broken brake system...... we're done!  Now we're safe.



Thursday, 3 October 2013

Shipshewana Shopping


Day 4 of the BBA (Big Beastly Adventure) saw RRR and Nui heading off (by car) to the flea market which, contrary to the brochure, is not even remotely within walking distance.  The flea market is huge - over 110 acres, with a lot of variety (especially in sparkly t-shirts, as RRR soon found).    Thank heavens we brought our little scooters because walking up and down those aisles for 4 hours would have been next to impossible.  You could tell we're new at this snowbirding thing because we took off under a blazing hot sun with no hats, sunglasses or water.  It was 82F in the shade and that was at 4 p.m.   Even Nui was hot!  We'd better take a crash course in hot weather survival because we're going to be living in the desert in about 3 weeks.

RRR had originally said that she wasn't all that interested in going to a flea market because - and I quote - "we're not going to buy anything".  Boy was she wrong!!!  A lot of vendors had big smiles on their faces when we left.


Today, we left under drizzly skies and went to visit the RV Museum and Hall of Fame.  It was fantastic!  Well worth seeing if you've ever camped.  The oldest RV was made in 1913 and it was amazing.  There were some oddities too - for instance, one guy used a kitchen chair to sit on while he was driving.  Another one used a living room chair - I guess he wanted to be more comfortable.  Presumably they didn't make any sudden stops.  We even saw the motorhome that Mae West used to go from her home to the movie sets.  That one had a porch where she would sit in a rocking chair to relax. 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Detours and Dimwits

Day 2 started out pretty well.  We breezed through the US border in about 20 minutes, without being pulled over.  Then we started to drive, and drive and drive and drive.  At first, the trees were lovely, sparkling red, orange and yellow in the autumn sun.  After about 2 hours of all this sparkling, we realized that we hadn't seen a gas station or a rest area since leaving Canada.  One tank was getting very dry.....our personal tanks were starting to get pretty full and it was time to stop.  We finally found what is apparently Michigan's only gas station near Saginaw and promptly filled up the Beast.  We were pretty tired and were looking forward to taking the exit to our campground near Frankenmuth but, sure enough, we got detoured and had to drive the Beast through even more sparkling scenery before we finally got to the campground which was, of course, closed.  By this time, we were ready to hire ourselves out as farmhands to pick corn, since that would have been a welcome relief from all those sparkling trees.

We set up camp and set out for Frankenmuth where we had a lovely, if unpronounceable, Bavarian dinner.  The atmosphere was great.  We loved looking at the knees of all those cute guys in leiderhosen.  From there, we went to Bonner's, the world's largest Christmas store which is jaw-droppingly amazing.  Unfortunately we had less than half an hour to visit but it is definitely on the bucket list for next year.  We are planning a three-day mini-tour next spring.

Day 3 began with a propane refill.  Apparently the term "fill it up" is rather a foreign concept in Michigan since we have not been able to get a full tank of gas nor a full tank of propane.  But off we headed for Shipshewana, IN.  Upon crossing into Indiana, we found dozens of gas stations.... perhaps they should lend some to Michigan.

Shipshewana is a smallish town which boasts the largest flea market in the Midwest.  The campground we had booked was, according to their brochure, "within walking distance" of the flea market.  We're not sure how much walking the Amish do, since they seem to be pretty tied to their horse-drawn buggies.  That might explain why no one seemed to know where the campground was or, for that matter, what was or was not within walking distance of the flea market.  Nui asked a dozen people for help with directions and was told to go north, west, or east and was also told that there was no campground.  We drove up and down the main street for an hour and a half, looking for a blue flashing sign showing the campground entrance.  Even the campground people weren't sure where they were located, since they told us they were north of the flea market when, in fact, they are a half mile south.  And the blue flashing sign they boasted about as the "only flashing sign on that street" is not blue, but is blue, yellow and red. They also told us that we could not see the campground from the road but would find a sign saying "RV Wash".  In fact, the campground is visible, it is the RV Wash sign that is impossible to see.

We think it must be the fumes from all the horse manure that is killing off their brain cells.

However, the town is really cute and we're looking forward to hitting the flea market tomorrow.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Holy Cow...the world is coming to an end!


There are two words that no living person on this planet has ever heard uttered by Road Rage Rita.  NO…not THOSE words.  Get your mind out of the gutter.  I'm talking about:  "I'm Cold!"  RRR has been known to hang her clothes out to dry in -30 weather, while wearing nothing but shorts and a tank top.  To hear her state that she is cold made Nui very nervous since everyone knows that the only time this would ever happen is when hell freezes over.

But we bundled her up in several layers of wool and cotton and she slept like a baby until the early morning hours of Day 2. 

Sunday, 29 September 2013

And We're Off.... Day One of the Southern Expedition

And we're off!  We set off under cloudy skies and managed to hit rain about one hour out of town.  This downpour had the added benefit of camouflaging a sink hole which appeared near the Tim's at Nairn Centre.  The hole almost swallowed the Beast - we managed to hit it with all 10 tires, not to mention hitting rock bottom on the hitch.  Nui was not impressed.  However, the stop at Tim's was not a total loss.  As we were playing cards after lunch, a man came by, unzipped and proceeded to relieve himself not 10 feet from our window.  Dining and entertainment in one place!

The gas station next door had huge bays, perfect for RV's.  However, this did not pose enough of a challenge so we opted to keep going until we found one that was narrow and very hard to get into and out of.  The owner ran out to remove his flag when he saw us coming.  We filled up and asked to have the windows washed.  This was quite a confusing proposal to the man running the place.  He couldn't quite figure out what liquid to use (and wound up using plain water) and he couldn't quite grasp that you use the spongy side first, then the squeegee side.  Obviously, he's never washed a window in his life - perhaps he's more management than staff. 

We made it to Sault Ste Marie without further delays, under bright sunny skies.  That's when Nui found out that she could  not connect to WiFi, which is disastrous since there is no way to navigate in the US without MapQuest, unless you use old-fashioned technology like looking at a map.  R3's daughter came to the rescue and walked us through the hook up process.

All in all, it was a good day and we're looking forward to Frankenmuth and shopping tomorrow.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Road Rage Rita, Communications Engineer

All successful expeditions must rely on highly trained crews to take care of day to day needs as well as the occasional breakdown or emergency.  The same is true of the Big Beastly Adventure.  Nui will be doing the driving but it is a known fact that to keep the Beast on the road requires nerves of steel, eyes of a hawk and both hands white-knuckled on the wheel.  This, of course, leads to a problem with what to do about idiot drivers who tail-gate, cut you off or, in some cases, have no clue how to merge onto a highway in front of a rapidly moving RV and Toad. 

What the voyage needed was a Communications Engineer.  A veteran traveller, Road Rage Rita (aka Trailer Trash, aka Recreational Rita), volunteered her services to, when appropriate, provide the proverbial one-finger salute which is the universal signal to other drivers that something is amiss and they need to fix it.  She demonstrated her manual dexterity at a recent wedding, when she awed family members with her ability to not only salute with her right hand but with her left - and sometimes simultaneously.  Skills like that are rare indeed - so it is an honor that Road Rage Rita has agreed to take on this important function.

The voyage to southern climes begins next week.  None too soon, either..... it snowed in Sudbury this morning!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

What was that name again?

For those of you following the blog, it will seem that we'll be leaving for Arizona with the Beast crammed to the tailpipe with numerous co-pilots, all of them 84 years old.  Truth is that we've been having a hard time coming up with a name for my aunt.  We started out with Trailer Trash, but that implied that her wardrobe consisted entirely of spandex pants and high-heeled shoes, along with belly button rings.  Oh sure, maybe some days but not every day.  We scrapped that name in favour of "Recreational Rita", but there was some concern that the name made her sound like a woman of easy virtue or, more profitably, an exotic dancer.  It is also hard to type.  Next suggestion was "TraileRita" but this isn't a trailer, so that's out.  The latest incarnation is "Hoppin' Nana".  So far, that's what we're going with but there are still 2 weeks to go before the launch, so you never know.  We'll keep you posted.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Welcome to Recreational Rita

In about a month's time, the Big Beastly Adventure will continue, exploring never before seen vistas as the Beast heads for winter quarters in Yuma.  Every good voyage needs a co-pilot and Nui was thrilled to learn that her aunt, Recreational Rita, has decided to come aboard for the inaugural trip to the South.  This is great news!  RR and Nui have been known to stay up until dawn, looking for lunar eclipses or playing "that f***ing game".  The f***ing game is actually double solitaire but was renamed by RR's husband when he awoke and found them still playing cards, long after most people were in bed.  Recreational Rita likes to "look at stuff" and we have been surfing websites to find a whole lot of interesting stuff to do on the month-long trip to Arizona.

I should perhaps mention here that Recreational Rita is 84 years old and could still give a lot of 20 year olds a run for their money.  This is going to be a fun trip!

Monday, 22 July 2013

REST IN PEACE, PRINCE PORKETTA


It is with a very heavy heart that I have to report that Prince Porketta lost his long battle with pulmonary fibrosis today.  He was my brother and he was a good, good man.  He had a terrific sense of humor, and he had a huge heart - he truly cared about his family, friends, and co-workers.  Although his disease put him through hell, he never complained.  His standard answer to any question about his health was "I'm good". 

From childhood, he had a thirst for adventure and his first reaction to any suggestion was "let's go".  He would lead me into trouble (ummm....adventures) - everything from bidding on (and almost buying) a calf at an auction, to jumping off the roof of a barn and spraining both ankles, to hiking miles from home without telling our parents (we didn't sit for a week after the searchers found us - a well-deserved spanking!).  He was the first kid on the block to own a motorcycle - and the first one to crash it.  He took up skydiving and only quit because he had emergencies 2 out of the 3 times he jumped….. he was adventurous, but he was no fool. 

 The Prince is the reason I bought the Beast.  We had often talked about RV ownership but, other than looking at them, I hadn't thought seriously  about it.  Then, when his health deteriorated after his Vegas adventure, he told me he'd always wanted to see Mount Rushmore.  So I told him I'd buy a motorhome and take him, if he'd show me how to drive the thing.  And that was the start of last summer's adventure.  His doctor told him it was a bad idea….. but the Prince just said "let's go", which is exactly what we did.   We had so much fun that, again defying his doctor, he and his family decided to go back the way we came in September!  This summer, we planned the Tour D'Ont - a 2 week tour of eastern Ontario which led us to the areas our ancestors called home before moving to Markstay.  He didn't even tell his doctor about that one!  In between these trips, he also headed to Florida every winter for "spring training" (i.e. sitting by the pool with a cool adult beverage).

 We had a ritual.  When we arrived at a campground, he would put down the jacks and get the slides out.  I would go out and hook up the electricity and water.  He would then come out with 2 cans of beer and we would make a toast to our location.

So, Prince, I continued the ritual tonight.  Just because you got to the destination first is no reason to mess with tradition.  Here's to you, little brother.  I will miss you forever.  Thank you for everything!

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, 6 July 2013

A Little Close to Home

There are times when I have thought it would be nice to simplify and go back to camping in a tent.  Not today, though!  My friends Mike and Louise are camped across the street from me.  This morning, Mike was outside enjoying his coffee when a large black bear wandered onto his campsite.  The bear apparently didn't see Mike because he got within arm's reach of him!  At first Mike froze, but when the bear kept coming, he started to yell.  Instead of running away, the bear actually stepped closer.  Mike said he was so close he could have smacked him on the snout.  By this point, Mike was heading for the door to his camper.  The bear moseyed away towards the beach and wound up scaring the heck out of other campers further up the road.  The rangers have spotted 6 bears in the campgrounds so far and there were 13 sightings today alone. 

On further reflection, simplifying doesn't sound like such a good idea.  I'm sticking with the Beast!



Thursday, 27 June 2013

Been There, Done That


Day 13…we think.  The Beast is still in one piece and is going to get to rest for awhile.  We made it to Grundy in record heat and humidity.  We plugged in and, within just a few short minutes, managed to blow the circuit breaker on the air conditioner.

It was like old home week in the trailer park.  Within minutes we were saying hello to fellow campers Bonnie and Wayne, Mike and Louise and Syd and Lynda.  Syd is really excited about finally getting his 3 bags of Montana dirt, which Nui has been lugging around since last summer.  Just for the record, for those who follow Nui's weather archives, the temps have dropped and it rained last night. 

 And just so Prince doesn't think there's no drama at the park, we were told today that all water in the park has been shut off so the faucets and bathrooms are off limits.  Thank heavens for Class A's.

Prince's wife will be happy to learn that Prince will be returning in almost pristine condition….  a few scuffs but no dents.  The same can't be said of the Beast.

The final task for the trip is to get Prince back to the city since, it turns out, he really doesn't enjoy camping.  His motivation is more geared towards finding ways to get Nui into trouble….I mean adventures.  Staying in one place just takes all the challenge out of that.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

You Bet We're Having Fun!

The last stop on the Tour D'Ont took us to Orillia, to visit our youngest sister, Jackie.  We left Oshawa under sweltering heat, which only got worse when we reached Orillia.  Nui has been heard to say that she would never use air conditioning.  She just about tore Prince's arm off getting the thermostat down to 60 when he wanted to cap it at something like 72.  "My Rig, My Rules".  It got so cold that we had to keep the adult beverages in the fridge to keep them from freezing.

This morning Jackie treated us to an awesome buffet at Casinorama.  The food was delicious…. And there was so much of it that none of us could eat again all day, with the exception of a couple of popsicles.  This is good, since it was too hot to cook.

 We made our monetary contributions to the casino gods and headed back to Jackie's beautiful home (which needs a/c and her pool re-filled {eh, Jackie…nudge, nudge}) for a nice quiet evening of TV watching, which has been a rare treat during the tour.  TV is a good thing, since neither of us are particularly interesting.

Tomorrow, we're off to Grundy and putting down roots for the summer.  Prince is looking forward to returning to the city and his wife and family.  Nui is looking forward to swimming in a lake that isn't radioactive.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Living On the Street


We bid the Cornwallians goodbye and headed up Hwy 2 at a leisurely pace, admiring the scenery and almost taking out a kid on a bike.  Apparently, the kids in some of these small towns have not learned that, if you want to show off for a girl, you shouldn't do it a) on a highway and b) less than 10 feet from a moving RV.  I'm sure we took 5 years off that kid's life.

 We arrived at our sister's house in Bath, just outside of Kingston, where (surprise, surprise) more food was awaiting us.  Carm served us a delicious spaghetti sauce, reminiscent of our youth.  And the next day we got enough BBQ's ribs to serve an army camp.  Carm lives in a country club estate, so we were quite surprised that they tolerated us living on the street for 2 days.  I'm sure they were glad to see us go…. We didn't add any value to the properties.

Then it was suck it in, suck it up, pull it out and off to Oshawa to visit our aunt Mary where we had a lovely time.  Even better, she had really great air conditioning, which came in handy because the temp was in the mid-30s, humidity was high and the humidex was at 40.  Even Nui was hot and it turns out that smog and pulmonary fibrosis don't go well together.  We parked for the night at Darlington Provincial Park, which shares lake frontage with a nuclear power plant.  We observed some oddities, such as mosquitoes with large butts, fles with four wings and green glowing mini-bugs that bite really hard.  After a few minutes of these critters, we retreated to the safety of the Beast.  More surprises were In store.  Even though we are only a few miles from Toronto, the internet doesn't work well out here.  On the other hand, we are getting really good radio reception from the fillings in our teeth.

Update:  cell phones don't work out here either.  Plus, we keep hearing the theme from the Twilight Zone.  Jackie….CALL US!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Hopelessly Lost but Making Good Time


Day 6 of the culinary…I mean ancestry tour has come and gone.    We started our day with a visit to
our cousins Tom and Virginia where we had a wonderful lunch consisting of a choice of 2 home made soups and delicious sandwiches.  We dined on their patio overlooking lake St Francis which is part of the St Lawrence seaway.  We would have liked to see the rest of their property including the labyrinth that they built but it was just a little too far for us to trek. Maybe next time.

 Full of food and the same pioneering spirit that fuelled our forefathers, we were off to follow the ancestral trails.  This is not easy as towns around here appear to have 3 or 4 names that are used at random and none appear on google.  A government conspiracy?…we don't want to go there. For example, Lancaster appears to be Glengarry, until you pass Lancaster and arrive in Alexandria, which is also Glengarry.  And not to be fooled, Glengarry becomes Fassifern, which we're sure is a name they just made up today.  The sign did look new.   We never did find Glen Robertson, although we are told that it is Alexandria which is, of course, Fassifern or Glengarry.  Even with all of their trickery, we managed to find two of the churches that members of the Prieur family were baptized in.  One of them, St. Raphael, burned down in 1970 but the ruins are spectacular.  It was built by Scottish settlers in the 1780's.  We then  
went looking for St. Alexanders in Lochiel, which is of course both Glengarry and Fassifern….maybe.  We managed to find it, but only because we took a wrong turn.  By the time we found it, we just had time to take a photo of the church and turn around and head for home which is in Lancaster/Glengarry/Cornwall/ Summerstown/Charlottenburgh and may or may
not be in either Ontario or Quebec.  Glen Nevis remains lost in the mist of eastern Ontario…. Some have seen it, but it seems they move it a lot, because it is never where they left it last time.  Someone should look into that. 

Tomorrow we are off to find Prieur Honey, which is sold but we have no idea in what town or even in what direction.  Then it's off to visit our sister in Kingston.  We're pretty sure we know where she lives.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

This Ancestry Work is Fattening!

What a great couple of days we've had.  On Monday, we visited our cousins Pat and Gaetane in their beautiful new home in Rockland.  They feasted us with bbq'd pork, potatoes and broccoli and, since it was Gaetane's birthday, we also enjoyed some really great birthday cake.  Pat's brother Raymond came by later to say hello and we had a fun evening getting caught up on all the family events.  There was even a phone call from "matante GoGo", Pat and Ray's mom who lives in Sudbury.  Motorcycle buffs will drool with envy when they hear about Pat's garage, with a specially made ramp leading to an enormous basement workshop.

Oh yes, we also stopped along the way to do some ancestry stuff.  We found the church we were looking for, which has been renamed.  Makes it a bit tougher, but hey, we're tough people.

 

Yesterday, we were in Cumberland to visit friends Andy and Francine.  Another spectacularly beautiful home with a gorgeously landscaped hot tub/pool.  We spent several happy hours, bobbing in the warm salt water, enjoying some adult beverages.  All of that was followed by dinner of steak and lobster, asparagus and finally fruit flans for dessert.

 

This morning, we were off to visit another cousin, Sue.  We spent some time catching up on family events and said our goodbyes as we had to pursue still more ancestry stuff this afternoon…or so we thought.

 All of that came to a screeching halt, when the Beast got mired in several inches of bog, at the campground we selected in Cornwall.  It took a couple of hours and a tow from a large backhoe, to get us unstuck.  Once we were, we immediately headed for the nearest provincial municipal park where we managed to get a gravel pad, although it is all uphill.

Needless to say, dinner tonight was a bit of a let down…. Kraft dinner.  Ummmm…….KD!

Once installed, we called still more cousins, Tom and Virginia, who came out to see us for a couple of hours and have invited us for lunch tomorrow.  Yay!  The eating continues.

 We're beginning to think that the focus of the Tour D'Ont should change from ancestry to culinary.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Rain Delays and Culinary Adventures


We woke up this morning to dew that was so heavy it was coming down in drops.  Lots of them.  Needless to say, after a hearty breakfast, there was nothing left to do but get caught up on our napping.  This is something we do quite well.  Once we checked that task off the list, we took a tour of Voyageur Provincial Park, looking for the showers.  We drove for a half hour and finally went to the ranger station for directions, only to be told that the showers were less than 100 feet from where we are parked.  We zigged when we should have zagged.

 Our travels then took us to Thurso, Quebec for dinner and a fun evening with our cousins Isabelle and Hubert, their daughter Lise and her kids Kim and Krista.   For dessert, we were introduced to "Marie Fendues" , a fried bread served with molasses.  This is a Markstay delicacy that apparently they have been trying to keep secret all these years J  Shame….this recipe belongs on a cooking show!  Lise also shared some of her famous recipes, which we will not divulge.  All we can tell you is to go to her event hall/gift shop/bake shop/egg farm near Thurso on weekends.  And don't be surprised if Thurso becomes the next "pitchfork fondue" hotspot east of the Rockies.

 Day 3 is coming to an end.  We found one cemetery and have some good leads thanks to Isabelle.  The rains have subsided and the life boats have been put away.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.  We're hoping it's not the tornado that they announced for Sudbury earlier today.  We know how mobile mobile homes can get in those kinds of wind.