Sunday, September 28, 2014

We made it !!

Hi all.  It's Sunday afternoon (early evening)... we made it safe and sound to Yuma.  Chuck the truck is resting in the parking lot, feeling much better having lightened his load; and the lovely Lucy is sitting prim and proper in her new digs after a bath at the local car wash (thank you so much Lane & Kathy).  We ducked the flash floods and the thunderstorms... had a good drive down from Lake Havasu... even saw London Bridge and checked out the state park as well.  All in all, we're feeling pretty smug.  Oh, and even Chuck's "check engine" light has decided it's okay... turned itself off after the last tank full of gas.

We're tucked in to the Microtel Hotel, just a few blocks from where we're leaving Lucy for the winter.  From here, we'll be able to sort out the gear and our clothes... leaving some and taking some, before heading east towards the Mexican border.

So, thanks for keeping an eye on us.. you can rest now.. as will we.  The next two days will be spent shopping a bit, sorting a lot, and repacking the truck.... oh, and putting up some photos for you to enjoy.

Talk to ya later alligator....  CJ

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sat. Sept. 27th... Flash Flood warnings... (again)

Hi folks... Just to let you know (in case you're monitoring the weather channel)... we are fine.  There has been a  "severe thunderstorm and flash flood alert" issued for NE Arizona... sort of / kind of where we are. BUT, let it be known we luckily seem to have traveled ahead of it and are now at the southern reaches of the 'warning' area. We had our thunderstorm and rain last night and think it has moved on. We will monitor things carefully before heading off.  Have a good day.. enjoy the cool. We are hiding out inside the trailer (with air conditioning), planning our day..  TTFN   CJ

Friday, September 26, 2014

Thursday, September 25th

We had a good run yesterday; left Welcome Station RV Park and headed south.  A couple of points to note for those who are interested in our ‘flatter’ route… On advice received from Larry at the Park, we headed south to Ely on Hwy 93 and once there, we stopped to shop for groceries and fill up on gas.  Continuing wit his instructions we left Ely and took a little detour in order to not only miss two mountain passes but to also shave over 25 miles off the route.  The instructions are:  when leaving Ely, turn right at McDonalds on to Hwy 6 and then turn left onto Hwy 318.  Having stopped at McD’s for Wifi  we exited, turned right then left, as instructed, and carried on south on Hwy 318.  We were planning on going only as far as Lund but, when we arrived, we found it rather … well…. nothing appealed enough to want to stop… and we were feeling pretty good, so we just kept going.  We arrived at Alamo about 1730 and although we had passed a nice, new RV’s welcome kind of a restaurant place… we decided to make a run to our ultimate destination. We topped up the fuel tank and bought a couple jugs of good water at the Sinclair Station… and headed 4 miles down the road to the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge.

Our friends were right, Pahranagat Lake campsite is just beautiful (and it’s free) !!  It’s just off the highway so you do hear a bit of traffic, but the scenery right in front of your door is so beautiful… the noise is not a bother.  By the time we selected our site (#3) and set up it was getting kind of late… so after a rum & coke for dinner we hit the sack and had a good sleep; although, we were awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of something snuffling in our gear stacked beside the trailer (a necessity because this is the gear/bins we’re carrying inside the trailer while we travel).  Anyway, I made some kind of noise and the ‘snuffler’ clattered off. I say ‘clattered’ because it was definitely a beast with hooves, and a good sized one by the sound of the ‘clattering’  :-)  Soooo, we believe it was a Mule Deer and tonight we’re going to set up a little ‘bait’ for him… right outside our big window.. and, when I hear him snuffling… I will try to snap a photo before he clatters off… will let you know how that goes…. Oh yes, and our fearless guardian angel (PS) didn’t even wake up…. oh well, she’s cute.  This wildlife refuge is quite famous as a stopping-off spot for migrating birds of all kinds.  Just in our few hours here, we’ve spotted Kingfishers, Snowy Egrets, a Sandhill Crane, American Couts, a couple other birds we haven’t identified yet, two lizards (possibly baby Spiny Desert Lizards) and our overnight guest, the Mule deer.

We’re here at Pahranagat for tonight (Thursday, Sept. 25th) and then we will be leaving this paradise and heading on down the road to Lake Havasu City.  We’re going to spoil ourselves and have booked into Havasu Falls RV Resort for two nights (first night = $22 Passport America and second night = $44 regular price = $33 / night.. not bad for spoiling).  We hope to have the trailer cleaned up before leaving there as the next stop will be Yuma.

Friday, Sept. 26th…

Well, haven’t we had just the day.   Yesterday, we had a very hot afternoon  and over-night, made all the hotter because of sufficient wind as to render the awnings in danger if they stayed up… which means they were furled about mid-afternoon. After a restless night (with no visit from senor Mule Deer :-(  we packed up and headed out, bound for coffee and some much-needed wifi at the Sinclair Gas Station on the highway.  Shock upon shock!!  No wifi !!  Yikes! Contact with the world would have to wait… and we headed on down the road.

Our route took us south on Hwy 318 from Alamo, through Las Vegas, Henderson and Boulder City. Then on Hwy 93 to Kingman where we stopped for gas.  This is where the day got a little more interesting.  While filling up with gas we became aware that Chuck’s back end was a little lower than even we thought it should be and, after conferring with “Johnny” the owner/manager of a neighbouring tire shop, we slipped Chuck into one of his bays.  Turned out that both shocks were shot (literally without any oil left… and, we think, the originals… all worn out).  As well, while they were inspecting the shock situation, Larry and Kevin discovered the Chuck’s spare tire was flat (again).  This is the second time that the spare, after being checked by a professional, has lost its air over a longer drive; not good.  Well, without too many choices to consider.. we think we did the right thing.  Within one hour, Chuck was sporting two shiny white, new, heavy duty gas shocks and a new spare tire.  The trucks back end is now riding much higher and, overall, feels like a better drive.  We are not disappointed.. actually feeling good about it as we’d both been worried about Chucks health with all the weight he is carrying. 

So thumbs up for Johnny and Kevin, and the AAAA Best Tire shop in Kingman, Arizona.

Once finished in Kingman we headed out.  The winds were up and blowing fairly well, but Chuck and Lucy handled them well.  Besides, we weren’t exactly racing down the highway.  We made it to our destination, Lake Havasu City and Havasu Falls RV Park by late afternoon.  We’re a little disappointed in the RV Park.  There isn’t a blade of grass or a tree to be seen.  We’re parked, in line, on a cement pad (the pads are separated by strips of gravel) and it’s hot as blazes.  But, Kathy has finally figured out how to get us ‘connected’.  Their system is horrible and without her skills we’d be ‘in the dark’ again with no contact with our world.  So we’ll send out a flurry of emails and blog news tonight… then do our research stuff tomorrow… Need to figure out where to stay in Yuma and just before the border at Nogales…  (Rio Rico, Tubac, etc.). The resort also has a pool and laundry facilities.. and we’ve a bit of shopping to do… so tomorrow will be fine.

For now, know we’re well albeit hot.  Sophie’s not minding her ‘bucket showers’ and we’re doing our best to acclimatize.  Yuma’s going to be hotter still.

Sending you all good wishes as we watch an “inside the cloud” lightening show that may (or may not) be headed our way…  yikes. What a day.

Adios for now.. CJ

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wednesday, Sept. 24th

Happy Birthday Lance.. hope you have a good one.

It’s Wednesday, it’s early and it’s cold (believe it or not).  Typical desert; hot, hot days, cool to cold nights.  Really quite beautiful if you’ve got enough blankets :-)

As mentioned before, we stayed at the Three Islands Crossing State Park until the weather had settled and the Flash Flood warnings had disappeared.  It wasn’t much of a hardship.  It’s a beautiful park. But, by Tuesday morning it was time to roll. We headed out fairly early (0900’s early, isn’t it??) and then stopped for breakfast.  There’s a down-home style cafe in downtown Glenn’s Ferry. The food’s good and the decor’s well… it’s down-home. We were properly on the road by 10 and the road took us east (Hwy 84) to  Twin Falls and then south (Hwy 93) to Wells, Nevada.  Bye bye Idaho potatoes, hello…  Nevada.

Jo, you would just love this country.  It is cowboy through and through.  Wagon wheels, saddles, bridles, old buckboard carts and broken down wagons from the by-gone days of ‘how the west was won’ litter the landscape wherever you look.  Half the folks wear Stetsons (and need ‘em, cuz they’re for real cowboys) and the other half wish they were.  It would be a hard life, that’s for sure; rounding up cattle on horseback, picking your way through the scrub brush that covers the hot, baked land, in the scorching sun with no trees for shade… a very hard life.  But these folks are tough and I’m sure a great many of them come from the families that settled the land and have been ranching and farming here ever since.

Now then, back to our journey.  There were still some long, slow hills to climb (we sure hope Lane is right and it’s all downhill from Wells) but we made it up… much to the chagrin of the vehicles behind us as there were no passing lanes.  We just pretended we were a big truck, loaded down with cement and bricks… and travelled about the same speed they would have.  It was  a relief to meet a fellow last night who drives one of those large,older Winebago things.. and he assured us he never gets above 55 either… so we’re slightly vindicated.. and, more importantly, still ‘good to go’.

Our travels brought us to Wells, a very small, dusty town near the junction of Hwy 93 and I 80.  From there it was a 12 mile drive to our next rest stop’ (in the vernacular of Amazing Race).  Our stop for the night is the Welcome Station RV Park, a small place with friendly owners, about 20 sites (parallel parking) on grass.  It’s on the slip road to the highway and, subsequently the traffic noise becomes part of the background ambiance. But it’s okay, cuz we’re here for one night. There is a beautiful grass lawn to play on with a stream running beside it.. and 5 beautiful horses right across the fence to watch. Each site has full services (that’d be power, water, and ‘you know’), and the washrooms are not only clean they’re ‘just like home’ clean with mats and complimentary soaps and enough hooks to properly hang your things up in the shower. And… they even have hot water.  (Passport America $15…thanks Jeannette, for the tip about P.A.). 

Who on earth designs showers anyway?  I can’t believe how many showers don’t sport hooks for your clothes, or a shelf for your soap, shampoo and razor, or even have proper nozzles that can be aimed up if you’re tall or down if you’re not.  And then there’s the water pressure and the ‘hot’ water situation… I won’t even go there…

Okay enough.  It’s starting to warm up and we plan to hit the road in about an hour.  Today we’re heading to Lund but will stop at the first MacD’s we come to for coffee and wifi access.  I think there’s a State Park at Lund and Kathy’s been told of an old restaurant that was closed and is now open and that allows you to park behind it…. We shall see.  We’ll check out both and make a decision when we get there… let you know. CJ

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sunday, Sept. 21st

As Kathy mentioned, weather and road condition warnings have convinced us to sit tight in Three Island Crossing State Park. Not content to miss an opportunity for change… we’ve moved sites.  Our new ‘home’ is sight #12 on the upper circle.  It’s just as beautiful, surrounded by grass and trees and, as it’s a little higher, has a fantastic view out over the river valley. We expect to be here for at least two days. The rain kindly waited until we had been to town (Glenn’s Ferry) for lunch and to pick up some groceries… and it waited until we had set up the trailer (er I mean Lucy) and pulled out the awning… I’ve just sat down to update this diary and the rain has begun to fall.  It’s light so far and there’s not much wind… so we’ll be sitting tight right here (with good books and movies…yup, Lucy has a TV :-) and even more time to catch up on our rest. 

For those of you who are waiting to hear.  We’ve had word from Marina Seca in San Carlos that there was no damage to the boats on the hard.  We have yet to speak directly with Eduardo (the fellow in charge) to ascertain whether or not Spirit’s hull will be dry enough to work on by Oct. 1st.  If he says there will be a delay due to the need for more drying… we’ll pay even closer attention to the temperatures and may slow down a bit.  If not, we’ll see what the road and weather conditions have to offer us in terms of a safe journey south.  All in good time…. one step after another.

It’s now Monday the 22nd. We’ve had a good day (resting and walking and just hanging out) and we’re going to head off tomorrow.  Sorry to leave this place, but happy to be on our way.  Will write again when we land somewhere with internet.  We hope all of you are doing well. Take good care.. and thanks for joining us.

  CJ, Kathy, and PS

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Waiting out the thunderstorms

Thought we should leave a quick post to let you know that we've just learned about the weather alert for Nevada tomorrow... thunderstorms, heavy rain and flash floods. Sounds like this may be some remnants of Hurricane Odile.

Needless to say, spending another day here at this lovely little state park on the Snake river sounds like an excellent idea! So we'll be here until it's safe to continue on our way.

Well, this gives CJ another chance to perfect her $7 BBQ-ing technique! Chicken tonight :-)

Location:Three Islands Crossing State Park, Glenn's Ferry, Idaho

From Oregon to Idaho…

Lucy really is a sweet  little trailer

The Chehalis RV & Outdoor Resort

The Hamley & Co. Saddlery in Pendleton, OR

Saddle designed for Hoot Gibson in 1922 – for a friend of his
with a drinking problem … who kept falling off his horse

Farewell Bend State Park on the Snake River

Hello again.  We had a good day on Friday the 19th.  Hit the road early so as to have some time to catch up on emails… thank goodness for MacDonald’s and their free Wifi.  Coffee’s not bad either :-)  We had a lot of outstanding emails so, apologies to any of you who were waiting for a rapid response.  Not going to happen while we’re ‘on the road’. We took another break around mid-day, stopping in Caldwell (Idaho) for groceries, lunch and a visit to the local Chamber of Commerce for some maps and RVing information. 

After researching what we could, we headed on down the road to the Three Islands Crossing State Park (Hwy. 84 just before Twin Falls, Idaho).  This is a beautiful park with lots of grass and trees… large sites, very private.  It’s so nice, we’ve decided to take a day off and stay here for two nights.  Cost: $23 + 5 (Veh. fee) = $28/night.  Oh, by the way, on the way to this park we passed the Carmela RV Resort.  It’s just a block or so before the State Park, is situated beside a golf course and across the road from a winery… it’s a simple in-line parking kind of a place but looks nice and clean ($25/night) for you golfers and wine drinkers. 

We’re here for a couple of days… the plan remains to continue on to Twin Falls and then turn right.  Will drive almost due south through Nevada, stopping around Wells and Lund and then heading for Alamo and Lake Pahranagat for a couple of days.

Hope you enjoy the pics.  Adios for now…

Three Islands Crossing State Park

Beautiful park-like setting

Good old $7 BBQ – works every time!

CJ’s new favourite wine (take note sisters!)

Friday, September 19, 2014

On the road again…with dear sweet Lucy…

Well hi.  It’s been a while since we’ve written, a while since we’ve checked in… and a while since we’ve shared an adventure with you…  High time, I’d say.     WiFi on the road is very sketchy… thank goodness for the golden arches.    

Now then, you remember Lucy?  That svelt little 17 footer we dragged home from La Vegas last year.  Well she’s all fixed up now… a few new parts and a few little repairs… and she was rarin’ to go.  Then there was Chuck (the truck)… poor old fellow.  He really is starting to feel his age, particularly in his transmissional parts.  But a few repairs there and he too was willing to give it a try… ‘course he hadn’t seen the load we were going to shove into his cargo bay and the other “wee bits” we intended to cram into Lucy’s corridor.  I’m pretty sure we’re challenging the ultimate maximum limits of Ford’s best little truck… the 1999 Ranger.

And so, after what wasn’t the funnest summer we’ve ever had (living in a little sailboat and alternating that with living in the 17 footer… and with our stuff spread out over at least 8 addresses.. well, let’s just say… it would have been a lot more fun in our twenty’s.. not so much now). We will be forever indebted to our friends who helped us pack and move and who held our hands through some of the stressful times… and who have put us up and put up with us over these past two months…. But it was time for us to move on and Tuesday morning, Sept. 16th, we hit the road at 0700 hrs., and headed on down the highway… bound for the MV Coho out of Victoria.

Most of you have had experience with Border guards, as have we; and you might expect to be more rigorously grilled once on USA ground (eg: Port Angeles) but “no”… we met our COFH (Customs officer from hell) right here in Victoria. A swarthy little” fellow, with a name spelled mostly with “w’s” and “z’s” and an attitude that was the rudest I have ever encountered.  When greeted by a local police officer and asked how he was doing.. his response (loud enough for us all to hear) was “well I’m here, that’s about all they’ll get out of me today”. And then he approached our vehicle and proceeded to do his best to ruin our day.  Thankfully he approached the passenger side (Kathy this day) and poured out his cheerful dialogue onto her shoulders. I’m not sure I would have remained as civil as she managed to.  Finally finished with us, he moved on to cheer up the folks in the next vehicle.  Lovely fellow.. really made us want to continue into the US :-(

But we did, and after a quick ride across Juan de Fuca we were waved through the checkpoint on the US side… nice officer, pleasant fellow, welcomed us and waved us on our way… and on we went.  I think a couple confessions are in order at this point. First.. I am guilty of over-loading both Chuck and the trailer; and second, I have not thoroughly worked out our course and anchorages for this cruise south… something I always do, every time, without fail.  The planning fell apart this year.. never even got started.  I have a thousand excuses, none that hold water, all play a part in the reasons why we actually left home without a proper plan.  “Tsk, tsk “you might say, “not at all in keeping with proper Capricornerisms”.  And you’d be right.  But that’s the truth.. we’re flying by the seat of our pants, driving with fingers crossed that Chuck doesn’t explode, and worried sick about our friends in La Paz and other parts of the Baja… recently demolished by Hurricane Odile.

Not sure if you’ve been following the news but Hurricane Odile hit Cabo San Lucas hard and then crashed its way up the Baja, trashing La Paz, Puerto Escondido, Loreto, Mulege.  It’s still going. although reduced, and the effects of heavy rains and flooding are being felt on the mainland and as far north as Phoenix.  This is the largest hurricane to hit the Baja, some say, in all recorded history.  Check out Latitude 38 if you wish more details but the tragedy continues. Entire marinas, dozens of boats , and square miles of homes have been lost.  In La Paz, we have lost one cruiser and two others are missing. We are all very upset and worried but only time and the collective support of community will ease these wounds. We’re looking forward to being able to join these efforts and will do so as soon as we can get Wild Goose/Shannon’s Spirit ready and on the water.

In the mean time we’re heading south, heavily loaded with materials for ‘Spirit’ and creating our journey as it unfolds.  Some of you have been waiting to hear of our route and our stops, so here goes.  First, let me thank Leona for sharing her ‘flatter than I 5” route with me.  We’re using it as our base reference. After over-heating Chuck’s tranny a bit, we decided to limit our days to approx. 300 miles and our route so far is as follows:

    • Tuesday, Sept. 16th:  Coho ferry to Port Angeles, then south on Hwy.101 and the I 5 to Chehailis, WA
      • We stayed at the Chehailis RV and Outdoor Resort, a Thousand Trails resort.  It was farther off our route than we had realized but the drive was through beautiful, rural, horse country.  The resort roads were ‘uphill’, but Chuck managed them and we found a beautiful and private site.  Passport America Cost: $23.00.
    • Wednesday, Sept. 17th: On this day we not only drove further than we should have, over-heating the transmission… but we also managed to run out of gas about 3 miles short of our intended gas stop.  VERY embarrassing as not only did I fail to notice the emptying gas tank, I had also failed to fill the emergency jerry can I was carrying (more failing to plan). Thank goodness for AAA/BCAA and a quick delivery of $8 worth of petrol. Okay, enough with the confessions.  On we went, no worse for wear, and only 45 minutes later than we’d been.
      • We stayed at the Pioneer RV Park in Hermiston, OR. For us, this is suitable for a one-nighter.  It’s clean, in-line parking, and has full services.  Passport America Cost: $18.00.
    • Thursday, Sept. 18th: Having learned our lesson about pushing Chuck too hard (this was the first day of our ‘new’ plan… shorter drives, more relaxed days), we drove for a whole hour, down the road to Pendleton where we visited Hamley & Co Saddelry and the Pendleton Woollen Mill. Then we took on the challenge of a long, slow hill from Pendleton to La Grande. From there we headed onwards toward Ontario, OR our intended destination. We didn’t make it… not for any other reason than as we crested yet another dry, flat bend in the road… we espied a lush green oasis.  Turns out it was a State park located on the Snake River,  at the location where settlers heading further west bid farewell to their companions and continued west.
      • We stayed at the Farewell Bend State Park, in Site 72, with a great view of the river and a private site with electrical and water.  Very nice. Park cost: $24.00.

Tomorrow we press on… following the Oregon Trail (aka Hwy. 84) east to Idaho and then south through Nevada to Arizona.  We’ll keep you posted, but know we are well and gradually recovering from an exhausting summer. The Sea of Cortez beckons. We have yet to contact San Carlos to see if our boat will be ready for work to start on Oct. 1st.  We want to give them time to assess the situation caused by Odile’s rain.

So dear friends… take good care of yourselves, pray for those in need, and thank you again for your support. 

Adios amigos Y amigas…..  CJ and Kathy, and of course… the one and only, Princess Sophie.