Scooter racing

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

Monday, 23 June 2014

We're Home!

What a gorgeous day for a drive.  We left Jellystone as fast as our little hydraulic jacks could clear the ground and headed for home.... I mean Grundy.  A little over 3 hours later we were installed on RRR's old lot - #224 - and saying hello to old friends who had already arrived.  We set up and sat outside battling hordes of friendly mosquitoes who also came by to say hi.  Thank heavens for ThermaCell mosquito repellent gadgets!  Set up was a breeze, and Nui even managed a swim in the lake.  Considering there was still ice on it a month ago, the water was surprisingly warm.

We spent a nice evening around the fire and then stayed up until nearly 2 a.m. playing "that effing game".

Naturally, the weather gods took note that Nui had arrived and today dawned with heavy clouds and the chance of rain.  This is so normal for Nui that it doesn't even bother her anymore.  It's just nature's way of saying that she has made it to Grundy.

Today, RRR is heading home where she will spend the rest of the week doing laundry.

It's been a hot, dusty trip but we still had fun between heat strokes.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Only in Toronto

The quick border crossing gave us plenty of time to criss-cross the backroads of southern Ontario to find Yogi's Jellystone RV park.  We had tried to get into the KOA near Bradford but were told that it was fully booked because of a DOG SHOW.  We thought we'd been through hell in El Paso..... we couldn't even imagine camping in a field full of dogs!

Jellystone is one of the best kept secrets in the Toronto area.  That's probably because they really don't want you to camp there.  That's pretty obvious because the only sign for the place is posted on Hwy 400 as you are driving away from it.  We were in the bush, no indications of where the park was when we saw a small little driveway with a huge red hump in the middle.  Red must be their color because we also noticed 2 red-leaf bushes almost fully concealing a sign that read....."ston.....R" .  We interpreted this to mean Jellystone RV.  We drove up a long gravel road, hoping that we wouldn't end up in a gravel pit.  We managed to find the registration desk and booked in at a whopping $81.00 per night!  This is double and triple what any other parks charge.

So you would think that this would be a nice park, right?  Wrong!  The first thing was that they put the heavy picnic tables dead in the centre of the lot so you can't drive in.  We had to ask for 2 men to come and remove it.  The hook-ups were on the wrong side of the coach - electric and water on one side and sewer on the other - very inconvenient.  Then off we went for a shower, which turned out to be down a very long, steep hill at the back of the main building.  The other showers were not hooked up yet (considering summer started that day, it might be time to turn on the water, don't you think?).  We asked for and were given a golf cart ride down to the showers and back, because there is no way we would have made it without getting hurt.

Off we went for a fantastic spaghetti and meat ball dinner at RRR's daughter's house where we had a wonderful time.  Nui's sister made the trip from Orillia and the four of us women just talked and laughed all evening.  Sharon's husband stayed in the corner fixing his fishing rods and then escaped to the bedroom early.  To be fair, he had a fishing tournament the next day.

Heading back to Jellytone in the dark was another adventure.  You would think that, for $81 a night, they could afford to light up their bushes and/or signs or even the corner of their driveway. Or maybe even just hang a balloon.  Nope - it was pitch black and there was no way of seeing the entrance to the park.  Fortunately, our trusty GPS told us we were there and we finally managed to spot the red hump in the middle of their driveway after driving by it 3 times.

Needless to say, we won't be going back and they are going to get a sharply worded letter from Nui.

Crossing the Border

RRR and Nui were anxious about crossing the border, because of the attitude of the previous border guard (the one with the IQ of lettuce).  We had a fair amount of liquor on board (hey - for $2.97 a bottle, who wouldn't buy wine at Walmart?) .  We had visions of them stripping the coach down to the newly installed power switch and then having us spend hours re-packing.  This would have been a problem because, between the two of us, we have about 50 packages of mashed potato mix, several bags of rice and lots and lots of processed meats that took hours to deploy equally throughout the fridge and pantry so the Beast would stay level.  But the border guard simply looked at our passports and waved us through.  We were back on Canadian soil and having to adjust to the metric system again.  The good news is that kilometers go faster than miles.

Of course, we no sooner made it into Canada when Nui's back-up camera on the Beast gave up the ghost.  It's amazing how necessary that thing is - so we now have to find someone who can fix it.   Does anyone know of any mobile RV service techs in Northern Ontario?

Friday, 20 June 2014

In the fine old Carrey tradition of crossing the border

The legend is told that the Carrey girls once crossed the border wearing identical bright red lipstick which they had bought in a bathroom vending machine.

Never ones to flaunt tradition, Nui and RRR prepared for the border....


PS  Everything is bigger in Texas

Shipshewana Showers (or OMG, it's Armageddon!)

One of our primary goals was to reach Shipshewana by Tuesday, because the flea market here is only open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  We were in Shipshewana last year, to attend what they call the Midwest's largest open air flea market.  RRR was hankerin' (we've picked up some Texan on our travels) for some more blingy t-shirts - one in particular which was red and had some shiny trees on it.  Anyhow, we got started shopping around 2 p.m. and were told the market closed at 5 p.m.  Plenty of time for a few t-shirts and a couple of bottles of perfume for RRR's daughter!  Around 3:30 we noticed that many stalls were closing - in a hurry.  We were told that there was a severe thunderstorm on the way and the weather alerts had gone out to get under cover.  We just made it back to the car as the first raindrops fell.  The sky was green and black, huge thunderclouds were piled up, there were 60 mph winds, hail the size of quarters and enough rain to drown you while you were standing up.  In seconds the car was sitting in its own swimming pool.  The storm lasted about an hour and moved on and so did we.  The market was closed.

The good news is that RRR got her t-shirts and only 1 bottle of perfume.  But we consider the day a success.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

We have Power!

We made it to the KOA in Elkhart, figuring that we would be able to get a mobile RV repair service tech out to replace the burned out power transfer switch.  Elkhart, you should know, is billed as the home of America's largest RV repair service industry.  That may be.... but none of them are mobile!  Heck, even places like Van Horn and Effingham have mobile services!!!

Oh yes....and all the RV repair places were taking appointments for after July 4th - a tad inconvenient when you're planning on a 2-day stay.

Anyhow, we found Master Tech RV who replaced the faulty switch and also tightened the passenger side mirror.  This came as a huge relief to RRR who spent most of the trip from Effingham hanging out the window in 60 mph winds, trying to keep the mirror from blowing off.

While they were busy with the Beast, we took ourselves off to Linton's Enchanted Gardens - a combo garden centre and curio shop.  They had a huge collection of very colorful, very blingy stuff and we loved it.  Then off we went to the Old Bag Factory for a look at some of the most expensive quilts we had ever seen.  They were jaw-droppingly beautiful!  If it weren't for the fact that we refused to pay more for a blanket than we did for our mortgages, we might have bought some.  But still..... they sure were pretty.

Tomorrow we're off to Port Huron, our last day in the US for this trip.  It's been hot and kind of scary at times, but still lots of fun.

Effing Around in Effingham

Wow - we went almost 24 hours without a crisis!   On our last morning in Memphis, we noticed that the coach seemed a bit quiet.  Sure enough, all the electrical systems were out.  No power was getting into the coach at all.  This was a serious problem, since we both needed our morning coffee.

We had no choice but to pack up and move on, though, since we're on a schedule.  We wound up in Effingham (nice town - nothing to do - no attractions listed).  BUT we found a mobile RV Tech who came out that evening and wired us up enough to give us power.

It turns out that the guys who installed the main electrical panel in the coach graduated at the bottom of the class from the El Paso School of Road Maintenance (see previous post).  They put the panel in the only area in the coach that is guaranteed to be wet most of the time:  the area where the sewer and water connections are.  Needless to say, the system shorted out and voila..... $300 bucks later and we were sipping coffee thanks to a jury-rigged electrical outlet.

The fun just keeps on coming......

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Walking (well...Scooting) in Memphis

We got to Memphis in one piece (for a change) and set up in Marion, Arkansas which is not really Marion but Crawfordsville.  No wonder the poor GPS has fits.

Anyhow, we got on our trusty scooters and off we went to tour Memphis.  In 2 days we saw pretty much everything there was to see (sort of).  The highlight for us was the Crystal Grotto Shrine which is a man-made cave filled with semi-precious stones, located in a very nice cemetery.  It was absolutely amazing!   It's astounding what people will do with their spare time!

Then off we went to the Cotton Museum which was a bit pricey and a tad underwhelming.  There were bales of cotton, and a couple of videos on how cotton grows but that was pretty much it.  Maybe you have to be a cotton-picker to really appreciate it.

Then off we went to Beale Street where we managed to see the giant statue of Elvis.  Little did we know that this was the entrance to Graceland.  We didn't linger long on Beale - the noise levels were deafening and all it seemed to be were cafes and pubs.  No wonder people have guns down here - 5 minutes of that music and Nui started looking for an Uzi.  We don't know how people stand it - it's like everyone decided to play an instrument at the same time, all with different songs and in different keys. 

After Beale, we jumped in our car and headed off to Germantown to look for painted ponies.  There are 23 of them but all we found were about 8.  They are beautiful though.  On the way, we passed through the Victorian Village and saw the amazing houses there.  Forgot to mention that every time we crossed into Tennessee, we saw the giant pyramid - another thing on the Memphis list of things to see.

On Day 2, we were off to the Ornamental Metal Museum.  Again - fantastic.  We particularly liked the giant metal daffodil and the cattails at the entrance.  From there we were off to the Pink Palace which kept us pretty entertained for several hours.  There were fossils, rocks, giant working T-Rex statues, geodes, lots of info and displays on  civil war era life, medicine and dentistry and even a live exhibit of tarantulas (ugh!).  Fascinating place and we'd certainly go back. 

After that, we decided to go find Graceland, even though we weren't going to do the tour because it's far too expensive just to see some fat guy's clothes and furniture.  Besides, you
can't turn around in Memphis without seeing Elvis.  So our trusty GPS took us to Graceland which, it turns out, was just behind the giant statue of Elvis we had seen the day before.  Who knew!?  We never did get to see the outside. 

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Never trust a GPS. And what the heck is that wet stuff???

We had a somewhat harrowing day as we headed out of Abilene towards Mt. Pleasant, Texas.  Nui had plotted a route that would take her around Fort Worth and Dallas, through secondary highways. Things were going rather well until we noticed that we were still on I-30 heading east and there didn't appear to be any turnoffs to go north.  The next thing we knew, we were in the middle of Fort Worth and soon after that, Dallas at rush hour!!!   The good news is that the road system in Texas is excellent (although they could stand to repave some parts), and traffic was heavy but moved smoothly.  The bad news is that while everything is big in Texas, that doesn't include brains.   Some of those Dallas drivers are idiots.  Do they really think a Toyota would win if it got smacked by a Winnebago?

But we arrived safe and sound in Mt. Pleasant, TX.  Overnight we started hearing rumbling and woke up to thunder, lightning and rain!  Imagine!!!  Rain!!!!  It's the first time that the Beast has seen water in almost a year.   Because of the weather, we decided to spend an extra night in the park.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Abilene, Abilene....home of buffaloes and Dairy Queen

We left Van Horn on a windy morning and travelled without major incident to Abilene, Texas.  Although it's quite famous because of the song written about it, there isn't much to see in Abilene except for about 2 dozen Dairy Queens.  Never a duo to shirk the local customs, Nui and RRR promptly unhooked the car and headed for the nearest DQ.  We learned a long time ago to always order everything "small".  But, as the signs say, everything is big in Texas.  By the time we finished dinner, all there was left to do was tour the empty city streets.  We saw some beautiful old buildings, some really cute, twinkling buffalo street lights, a giant buffalo statue and lots of First Baptist churches.  We wondered where they keep the Second Baptist churches but we never did find any.

Monday, 9 June 2014

On a more positive note

Sorry about sounding so grumpy lately - the trip has been something of an adventure.  However, we wanted to also talk about some of the great things that have happened.

When we got to Yuma, the Shangri-La resort comped our week's stay which was exceptionally nice.  The next day, a call to a local RV service centre had 2 guys at our door within 20 minutes for a wash and wax of both the Beast and Zinger and the guys even washed and removed the sunscreens.

We’ve seen some great sights along the way and met some friendly people.  One of the highlights was our stop in Oakland, Oregon.  This is a small town with a lot of very quaint old Victorian buildings on its one and only street.  We stopped for lunch at Tolly’s, which is an amazing restaurant.  We sat in plush armchairs, surrounded by carousel horses, and were served phosphate sodas and some really amazing bread pudding.  Lunch was a bit odd – for some reason they put sweet pickled onions instead of sauerkraut in their reuben sandwiches.  It’s probably an acquired taste.
The first night we ate at Shari's Restaurant in Portland, where Nui finally got to try a Cuban sandwich (for those who love the Dexter series, you'll know what that means).  It was amazing - certainly worth the long trip from Vancouver.

We stayed at Best Westerns along the way, which were all great.  However, the best was in Redding, CA where we were greeted by platefuls of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.  Even better, we were told about a restaurant called Dill's who delivered free of charge.  We each got the "Pig Vicious" sandwich, which was pulled pork, bacon, smoked ham and pickles.  Absolutely delicious!!!  It was so huge that we could only eat half and wound up eating the other half for breakfast.  If you live anywhere near Redding, you have to try this sandwich!
Considering that we’re both diabetics, this trip may just kill us at the rate we’re going.

Of course, we are still much obliged to the ladies in the white car who helped us get out of El Paso in one piece.

We saw some beautiful sights along the way – truly awe inspiring countryside.  And, even though it’s stinking hot, the weather has been beautiful since we left.

We’re glad we stayed an extra day in Van Horn.  The temps have dropped and we even managed to get the doghouse secured and the car boosted, courtesy of a friendly mechanic named Juan.  It still amazes us that there are so many services that cater to RV’ers here in the USA.  We placed the call to the garage at 4 pm and by 5 o’clock, Juan was at our door.  Ladies….Juan is newly single and he’s kinda cute.  Just sayin’…..
So tomorrow we're off to Abilene, a little the worse for wear but very well fed.

Hell on the Highway....Part Two

Off we went on Sunday (after church….Ha!) with the aim of getting to Van Horn TX in about 7 hours.  It was going to be a long day….. but little did we know just how long.

Everything was going fine until about half way through the trip when the generator stopped working and, of course, the A/C stopped dead.  We managed to find a gas station with extremely poor signage and bought oil for the genny.  Only after Nui overfilled the reservoir did she figure out that lack of oil wasn’t the problem.  The poor generator simply overheated from running the A/C for five hours.  (Note to self:  get it fixed.)  So we would alternate between opening the windows (which caused the dog house to blow off), running the generator and the A/C, and wearing cold, wet towels on our heads and bodies.

Did we mention that we don’t like El Paso.  Last year, the coach threw a spark plug and we had to spend 2 days and lots of money in El Paso before we could hit the road again.

This time, we were just on the outskirts of town when we found out that the geniuses that run the road work crews decided to shut down the only interstate highway that runs through town.  We sat in a line-up for an hour and a half while 5 lines of traffic filtered down to one and then exited the highway.  That would have been fine, except that from then on, we were on our own.  There were only one or two signs that indicated where the detour route was and there was no indication of where the construction finally ended so we could get back on the highway.  We spent over 2 hours in bumper to bumper traffic, slowly winding through El Paso.  We were extremely grateful that a car full of young women stopped beside us and offered to guide us back to the interstate.  We followed these El Paso Angels and managed to get back on the road at around 6 p.m.

Make that 6:00 p.m. our time.  We still had 2.5 hours of travel ahead and figured we would make it while it was still light out.  We hadn’t factored in that we had actually passed through not one, but two, time zones and it was actually 8:00 p.m. Central time.  Ignorance is bliss, but we did wonder why it gets so dark so early in Texas.  Needless to say, we wound up having to drive in the dark (not a big fan).  Of course, it wasn’t that simple – there were mountains, there were curves, there were border patrol stops, there was a lot of road work, including one on a hill, on a curve with grey concrete abutments that Nui saw just in time to avoid a rather spectacular crash.  Remember those 7 dirty words that George Carlin said you can never say on TV?  Nui said them all.

We made it to the Van Horn KOA at around 10:30 p.m., exhausted, hot, hungry, frustrated and very thirsty.  That’s when Nui found out that her nice new little car is a worthless POS.  You can’t run the brake buddy system without having the car on. (Note to self:  get it fixed) This means that the battery is dead and we are basically hauling around a large doorstop.  Nice….thanks Chevy.  Good planning….. let me introduce you to the road crews in El Paso.

So today we are still in Van Horn because a) we’re exhausted b) the time zone has thrown us off our schedule and c) it is so windy that the coach is rocking.  We leave for Abilene tomorrow.  I wonder what time it is there.

PS  Having a wonderful time!


Saturday, 7 June 2014

Hell on the Highway....Part One

The problem with buying a used RV is that, sooner or later, things start to fall apart.  Unfortunately, the things that fall apart are the things that you really, really, really need.  Air conditioning, for example.

We left Vancouver on Monday morning and arrived in Yuma on Thursday evening.  We knew we were going to be in trouble when we got out of the car in Palm Springs and were hit by 112F heat (that’s 45C for you metric types).  It was like being in a blast furnace.  By the time we got to Yuma, the temps had cooled quite a bit and it was only 104F.  Balmy!

That’s when we found out that the coach’s main air conditioner doesn’t really work all that well.  The automatic function doesn’t kick off but it still manages to cool quite well on a low setting.  (Note to self:  get it fixed.)

 Did I mention that the engine A/C doesn’t work at all?  (Note to self:  get it fixed.)

Day 1 on the return trip to Ontario was an adventure in hell.  We thought we could get by with just the windows open but realized after about an hour and a half that we were both on the verge of heat stroke.  That’s when the dog house blew out (again) and the hot air from the engine came blasting into the coach (Note to self:  get it fixed.)

The only thing left to do was to turn on the generator and run the main cabin’s A/C, which helped a lot.  Nui drenched a towel and wrapped it around her shoulders because she was starting to see double by that point.  RRR laid on her bed and crashed for an hour under the direct blast from the A/C vents. 

 We made it to Benson, AZ in one piece and spent a nice, COOL night at the Cochise Terrace Resort, where we had spent Hallowe’en last year.

RRR said that she would never again complain about -40 degree weather, even if it happened in July.

 More to follow…..

Monday, 2 June 2014

Someone needs a slap

Really....sometimes don't you wish you could slap these supercilious government pukes who have the IQ of gelato and the personality of a slug? 

Off we went to the USA today.  As usual, the line we picked at the border was the one that wasn't moving.  Every other car was speeding through on both sides but no.....little Napoleon up ahead was determined to make life miserable for everyone.

We got to the booth and he asked where we were headed.  As soon as I said Yuma, he started yelling at me that I was lying because no one goes down there in the summer.  He then started rolling his eyes and sarcastically saying "oh right, you're going to Yuma..... I really believe that you're heading for that kind of heat".  I tried to explain that the Beast is in storage but the little emperor wouldn't shut up.  It didn't help that he barely spoke English.... and I'm pretty sure he didn't understand it much either.  Maybe "Yuma" in his language means cocaine or child prostitution.  He sure acted like it was a criminal offense.  Did I mention that I had an 85-year old lady in my car....did he really think I was heading to the USA on a terrorist mission or something?  (of course, if you knew Road Rage Rita, that idea might not seem so far-fetched).

Anyhow, he sent us to the secondary inspection building where we waited for an hour while a lone agent worked and 15 others looked on.  When it was finally our turn, the guy just looked at us and said our story was reasonable and he couldn't understand why we'd been sent in.

I knew better than to say something snotty - which I think deserves a round of applause. 

But really..... don't you think there should be a competency test for border agents?  Shouldn't they a) speak at least one of the official languages of the country they purport to be from and b) shouldn't they at least be able to walk and chew gum at the same time?  I suppose it's too much to ask for a test to see if they have even a molecule of common sense.  And I guess I'd be dreaming if they could also be tested to see if they have a god complex.

Ah well - even though we were delayed by 2 hours, we still had a good day on the road.  And I'm warmed by the thought that the little puke at the guard booth has to work in the cold and the rain and the wind while I get to go to Yuma...where it gets really hot in the summer but where the winters are pure paradise.  Maybe I'll send him a postcard.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Road Rage Rita Rides Again!

That's right, folks!  Road Rage Rita is again the co-pilot for the Big Beastly Adventure.  After very little coaxing, she decided to join the return trip to Northern Ontario.  She flew to Vancouver last Tuesday and even got roped into working at the sales table at Festival Polynesia!

One strange thing happened:  even though we played "that f***ing game" an estimated 1000 times last Fall, neither one of us could remember how to play it after RRR arrived at Nui's home.  Weird. 

The plan is to leave Vancouver, drive to Yuma, pack up the Beast and head for Grundy Lake - all within 3 weeks.  Should be fun!