Thursday, January 27, 2022

Rio Bend RV and Golf Resort, El Centro, CA (we made it!)

It’s 0800 and the Blue Angels just did another fly-by.  They’re amazing to watch and even their practice jets (they’re the white ones with red tips instead of blue and gold) are very good and entertain us at least once a day. We’re up of course because the huge broccoli plantation behind us has ripened (well, actually the broccoli ripened. I can’t really speak for the plantation itself) and is being collected by at least a dozen workers and some of the largest (and loudest) farm machinery I’ve ever seen and heard. They start each day between 0500 and 0700. Ah, there goes another fly-by; this one too low for us to see because of the lovely hedge half surrounding our site.

Yes, we have arrived at our first destination. We had two stops to make before getting here.  The first, The Almond Tree Oasis RV in Coalinga, was quite acceptable and suitable for an overnight stop.  Unfortunately there was nothing there for Maddie; not even a small patch of ground cleared of trash.  She wasn’t too impressed.  In fact she’s been kind of worried about having left home into what must seem like a journey into the uncomfortable unknown. I’m happy to report she is delighted with the Rio Bend full-on dog park. It’s  clean, cared for, with a large grass area  and a separate, fenced, agility area.  Phew!  I’d been fearing an all out civil disobedience kind of event.  Anyway, she s much happier now and may not abandon us after all.

Back on the road; our next, and last, stop was to be at SpacePort RVPark in Mojave. I won’t go on about this but suffice to say we moved on. We finally came to rest at The Californian RV Resort in Acton. This was an upscale RV Park and a good place for an overnight stay and a shower.

Right on schedule, and after an awesome truck and RV wash (at K&S Truck Wash in Hesperia), we arrived at the Rio Bend RV and Golf Resort, El Centro.  The sun is shining, we have tokens for the driving range and our first Tee off is this afternoon.  We’ve done some shopping and will continue sorting out the trailer storage as time allows. We’re here for three weeks so we can settle in and relax. No more stop and goes. 

Must sign off now. There’s a Hummingbird at the feeder  Yeah!

Hope all is well with each of you. Stay safe. Our hearts go out to our friends who are dealing with the loss of loved ones and who are facing physical challenges of their own.  You are in our thoughts. ❤️

Friday, January 21, 2022

On the road again…

Mount Shasta - in her glory

It’s 2:30 am, the ‘wide open range’ winds are buffeting wee Lucy, we’re snug as ‘bugs in rugs,’ and we’re three days out from our destination. As I’m awake, I now have the time to check in and let you know how we’re doing. 

I can’t believe how fast four days have whizzed by. We left home on Monday the 17th, headed south to Victoria and spent a wet night at the Fort Victoria RV Park (a little rustic, but friendly staff and nice and close to the Coho ferry terminal in downtown Victoria). Up early Tuesday morning and first in line at the terminal gates by 0820. The last time we were here we were treated quite poorly by the Customs officer but this time the two officers who vetted us were very nice. We were asked few questions and sent to buy our tickets. What a wonderful difference. The ‘cruise’ to Port Angeles was uneventful and/but gave us our first glance at how things might go with respect to mask wearing.  Most folks were conscientious about wearing masks; a few weren’t. Arriving in PA was equally smooth. This time the officer greeted us with a big smile and a comment that we had to be the smallest trailer he’d ever seen coming off the Coho. Then he sent us on our way after confirming Maddie’s dog food didn’t contain any beef or lamb.  That was it.  I put away my 7 page, detailed, alphabetically ordered, inventory of each and every blue bin crammed into the truck (and the three most likely to be inspected that were stacked in the trailer) and we were off; high-tailing it to our next destination.

The next two days were wet, foggy and long. When we left home we were delighted the snow and freezing temperatures had abated, at least temporarily. “We can handle a few days of rain” we chortled as we headed down the road, “no problem”. Well, it wasn’t really - a problem - but the rain, fog, and majorly large trucks sharing the road sure did make for challenging driving.  It took the two of us; me on the wheel and Kathy managing the navigational technology to successfully wind our way through and around and through again… the twists and turns of several converging highways. Luckily we succeeded and popped out onto I 5 right where we were supposed to but, I can tell you, there were some fast moving, spray filled, moments of slight terror before we did.  Once on I 5 things settled down to the usual heavy traffic, most drivers behaving (a few idiots) and us.  After a quick stop in Sequim for groceries and a cell phone plan we headed to our first US stop, the Little Creek Casino RV Park in Shelton, WA.  We’ve stayed here several times. It’s clean, paved, tidy and has good facilities.  It’s also a Passport America site and therefore not expensive ($23).

Still raining the next morning, we headed on to our Wednesday destination (Seven Feathers Casino RV Park) in Canyonville, OR.  This was another long day of driving and the wet and challenging driving conditions continued for the first half. As predicted, the weather began to dry up and, by the time we arrived at Seven Feathers, the rain had stopped and the temperature had risen several degrees 😀.  We began to cheer up and celebrated with a quick dip in their wonderful hot tub - which we had completely to ourselves. This RV Park is beautiful and well run. We’ve stopped here every time in the past and, while it’s a bit more pricey ($56) it’s worth the price.

Thursday was the day we cheered up completely; all memories of rain and fog quickly dissipating. Grants Pass and Siskiyou Pass were the usual challenges involving long, slow hills heading up - mixed with the related downhill slalom (being overtaken by the transport trucks we passed on the way up and who were now screaming by us with no regard to the likelihood of their brakes actually being effective at those speeds).  Again, we survived and as latitude decreased, the sun and blue skies provided our first clear views of the Oregon and Northern California forests and fields. We were saddened to see the charred remains of forest fires in some areas and we passed one or two smaller fires being tended by officials along side the highway. We also stopped in a couple rest areas for a leg stretch (etc :-). One was quite nice, the other not so much. I imagine staffing shortages due to COVID are having their impacts here as well.

The Rolling Hills Casino RV Park ($36) was our stop for this night. The management (record keeping and administration of RV reservations) was not at its best but after some discussion the details were sorted out and (we think) our Visa records will confirm we only paid for two sites and not three. We were able to catch the last rays of the setting sun before a late dinner of take out pizza and an early night.

 I’ll be glad to get to Rio Bend (our home for several weeks) so I can sort out the blasted blue bins. Packing for a two and a half month adventure and trying to save a little money by carrying what supplies I could…well, I ended up packing and stowing half a dozen blue bins. They’re heavy and the three in the trailer have to be moved out at each stop and returned before we leave. I’d intended to sort everything out and repack once we’d cleared customs but I didn’t factor in the reality of ‘stop and go’ nights. Securing  long enough sites that mean we don’t have to unhook and can leave quickly each morning, also means I can’t drop the tailgate of the truck. Without opening the truck fully I can’t unpack and repack bins and other equipment.  And so we go… as we left… carrying several heavy blue bins waiting to be emptied in some cases and sorted and repacked in others. I really must learn to pack for the moment rather than as if we’re heading to sea again and need to carry it all from the start.  Sigh.

Enough said. We are fine, warmer and dryer than when we left, and doing well.  Our travelling companions are also in good shape. Safe to say we are all looking forward to making our final destination of Rio Bend RV Park in El Centro; EDA (estimated day of arrival) Sunday, Jan. 23. Today we head to Coalinga, CA. and tomorrow Mojave. We are looking forward to more enjoyable drives as we hurry south to the sun and sand. Will check in again when we arrive. 

We are doing fine and we wish all of you peaceful and healthy days. Stay well & stay safe. Adios for now. CJ

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Cloud-bathing in the driveway... practising for warmer happy hours !

At last... finally... and yahoo!  Our date of departure approaches.  Yes, you are correct in figuring out we didn’t leave on Dec. 27th ...couldn’t find little Lucy in the snow, never mind get ‘er down the driveway.  It’s now 13 days later and looking much better. Starting tomorrow we expect to see our usual rain (which is OK by far) and safer travelling conditions. Just in case it gets icy, ol’ Ricky is pointing downhill on the driveway.

 Some of you may recall my experience our first winter in this neck of the woods. If so, feel free to skip ahead. 

It was winter alright and the snow fell like I’d never seen before; knee deep by noon. Kathy was working in Vancouver and I needed to check the boat. Chuck (Ricky’s predecessor) was parked at the top of our driveway. We were at a different address then, with a steeper driveway... and, like this one, it had a slight curve in it. The main difference between the two is that the one we have now has flat land on either side and the worst you can do if you wander off it is crush an automatic sprinkler head or two. Not so the previous house. That driveway had a fairly steep slope. It had a garden of sorts, filled with evergreen shrubs and such on one side... and a VERY steep ravine, maybe a foot away, on the other side; deep enough to  easily roll a small truck at least once around on the way down.  Being new to ravines and curved driveways I had not applied much physics or even a touch of brain power to how and where I parked Chuck (the truck). He was nestled in at the top of the driveway, facing up, just the way I’d parked him since we had moved in October. Thinking only of how the boat must be faring with all the snow, I warmed Chuck up and proceeded to back down the driveway like I’d always done. It didn’t go well at all.

As soon as we got moving the truck started to slide... not straight backwards mind; that would have been ok. But, with a gentle yet firm slew (is that a word?) the front end began to swing left and slither and slide. The physics I mentioned earlier came screaming into my consciousness. The truck was now mobile, totally out of control with the front end creeping quickly towards the aforementioned ravine. Gravity was winning the battle and there wasn’t much I could do to counter act it. Bailing out my driver’s door didn’t seem like a good idea so I did what any ‘out of other options’ driver might do and slammed the truck into reverse to get as far away from the ravine as possible.  Chuck decided to respond and we bounded backwards and skidded right off the driveway and half way into the steeply sloped, shrub covered, garden on the other side. Safe from the ravine? Yes. Out of the woods?  Not yet.  When all the action came to rest, Chuck was broadside to the slope with my door being on the downhill side.  Not a good idea to exit I decided as we were balanced pretty precariously, so I carefully crawled up and out the passenger side door. The sight that awaited me was very embarrassing.  Ruined garden and stranded truck where no truck should be. Luckily I didn’t have to go inside and change. I was younger then J

There was nothing left to do but get some help. The woman on the other end of the BCAA phone wasn’t all that sympathetic (I didn’t tell the whole story, just that I needed a tow truck to help remove a truck from my garden. ’nuff said, right?).  The driver arrived, didn’t laugh too hard, and dragged old Chuck around and down through the sloped garden (I had wanted to plant rhododendrons anyway). He then lined Chuck up with the road and bade me farewell.

Imagine my chagrin when I finally got to the marina to shovel off the boat... and found no snow. Lesson #2 was about water level and freezing temperatures.  Oh, and the rhododendrons I planted that spring looked great and are doing very well to this day (I check on them from time to time as we don’t live far away); and I added a parking pad at the bottom of the driveway before the next winter.

Now then, back to our present situation. Ricky is indeed pointing downhill and now you know why. Lucy waits patiently. She’s clean and dry and rarin’ to go. The Rubbermaid bins have been packed for weeks and the lists have been re-written and re-checked umpteen times. We’ve practiced ‘Arrive Can’ and have finally received our Booster invitations. Ferry reservations are set for January 18th all going well. We’re so ready we’re going to head to Victoria on the 17th and stay at an RV park so as not to have to deal with the Malahat on the morning of our departure.  Now all we need is the days to pass peacefully between now and then.  

We’re also hoping all is well with each of you and wish you all the best in this, the new year... 2022.

Stay tuned. I’ll be in touch.  Adios for now... CJ

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

... the adventures continue ...

Shannon's Spirit @ Fox Isl.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and that may be so. I have certainly missed reaching out to all of you with tales of our adventures and other such tidbits. How did this happen? You might well ask.

The answer lies in the following explanation. As many of you know, I took on a difficult challenge shortly before retiring in 2003 and couldn’t bring myself to abandon it when I left ‘the job’. The project continued as a rather hefty weight on my shoulders, a niggling in my conscience and a project that filled every, otherwise empty, space in my life with paper, files, books, letters, forms and formalities. 

Being adventurers yourselves (or you wouldn’t be reading this) you will understand how short adventures like visiting Europe and sailing across the Mediterranean in 2007 and sailing our wee SV Shannon (Ontario 32) down the coast to Mexico in 2011 and then returning to the Sea each winter thereafter until 2018, took huge chunks of time. Preparing for and executing each of these detailed and complex journeys took most of our focus and much of our time over the span of quite a few years. Oh yes, we also fled the lower mainland and moved to Maple Bay on Vancouver Island.

Having returned our boat and selves from the Sea of Cortez in 2018 it was time to knuckle down for the final chapter of this challenge. We spent most of 2019 and 2020 pushing to complete the rather large manuscript now known as Vancouver’s Women in Blue.  Like many new authors I assumed I would find a traditional publisher and “voila", my work would be done. Not so; it turned out the heavy work had only just begun. For many reasons, including advice from several published authors who had become friends, I decided to self-publish. I wasn’t interested in arguing over white space (the space I wanted in place to show off some of the photographs and certain paragraphs) and I wasn’t willing to leave out certain, one-of-a-kind photos, which wouldn’t have met modern publishers’ standards. I wanted the story of our VPD women to be as complete as possible and to include all that I deemed relevant at the time of writing. 

And so, with cap in hand, I set out to learn how to publish what had become my beloved manuscript.  That, my friends, was a straight up learning curve. I needed a company (meet the RUDDY DUCK PRESS).  It needed to be registered and websites were required (meet It also needed an email address (, a way to place orders and an invoicing system. Then there was the book itself.  ISB Numbers, professional cover designs (Kato Design and Photo), a printing company (Island Blue Book Printing) and other such activities consumed hours, days and weeks. In the end, and by May 2020, we had a pretty good product ready to introduce to the world. 

Of course you will recall what happened at the start of 2020:  Covid 19 joined the party.

A wonderful book launch had been planned, complete with the use of the Seaforth Armouries Officers Mess.  This would have been a perfect location as it was on those drill decks we recruits of Classes 1, 2 and 3 were put through our paces during recruit training. We were very disappointed (but felt it necessary) to cancel all festivities due to Covid and I went back to the schoolroom of self publishing to begin the process of marketing, sales and delivery. With the help of several others, also dedicated to Women in Blue, a process was developed and put into action. It worked. Sales were quite brisk and I was not disappointed. We had lots of very positive feedback from the women themselves, their families, folks interested in policing and local historians.  The book is in several libraries and secondary schools and orders continue to trickle in. Women in Blue is even gracing the shelves of a few book stores (hopefully more to come as marketing continues).

By August, we were able to down tools and headed out for what was to be a beautiful month on the boat. The heat dome arrived just before we left. OK, we left anyway. We found a beautiful anchorage (picture above), where we were able to go swimming off the boat every hour (who wouldn't? the water was 74 degrees F).  However, by the time we were heading home, we were dealing with a heavy SE on the nose and driving rain. A soggy way to end the month!

Keeping cool during the 'heat dome'

Chillin' @ anchor

Who knew August could be so 'freakin' cold'?

It’s now November 2021.  Book sales, once brisk, have slowed and that’s ok. My goal was to tell the story of the women who served in the early years with the Vancouver Police Department. Tick J Young women and men considering a career in law enforcement are finding the book useful and I’m really happy to know that. As well, families of women and men serving in law enforcement are learning more about the chosen profession of their loved ones. The work force has changed in many ways for women and the changes will continue and evolve. Having a good understanding of where we’ve come from is one of the best ways to understand how we got here and where we’re going.  Enough said about that.

                         Are we there yet?                         

                  Sailing is so stressful ...               

Now then, back to the SV Shannon – now SV Shannon’s Spirit Blog. Yes, I’ve missed chatting with you about what’s going on in our adventures and, for sure, the last few years have not exactly been filled with joyous exploration of parts otherwise unknown.... but.... I feel a change comin’ on, just around the corner J Those of you who know me well, know I’ve always wanted to write. I hadn’t planned on my first book taking so long and, as a result, you could be forgiven for thinking I might have given up on that dream. BUT, I have not. Re-activating this Blog is part of returning to the ‘world of words’.  I like to share our experiences and using the blog to do that is very good for my writing, so thanks for being there and thanks for supporting ‘the dream’.

                       Ricky & Lucy (with Maddie)                     
eager to 'hit the road'

The ‘new’ SSpirit blog (SSpirit is short for Shannon’s Spirit) will be a compromise between a writer’s blog (loosely connected to and our adventure and travel blog. I hope you’ll come along for our journey(s). For instance, TT (Travel Trailer) Lucy and her big strong truck Ricky will be heading south on the 5:15 Duke Point Ferry on December 27th

Yup, we’re going to get in line with the other snow-birders and head south to the Rio Bend RV Park in El Centro, southern California. I look forward to reporting on the conditions we encounter (both travel wise and human wise). We’ll be at Rio Bend for the month of January. While we’re there we’ll keep an eye on the situation in Arizona before deciding whether or not to use our wonderful state park reservations set for February and March.

Memories of a warm desert evening

Those of you who signed up in the past to receive the blog by email will continue to do so.  If  you have not signed up and wish to receive any posts I make automatically into your ‘in’ box, please sign up on the first page by clicking the button in the top right corner. You will then receive an email asking you to ‘confirm’ your subscription. If you don’t receive one fairly quickly, check your SPAM folder. You must confirm your request before it will be activated.  If at any point you want to stop your email subscription to the blog, you will find an ‘unsubscribe’ link at the bottom of each post.

To all of you, thank you for joining us as we wander through our life.  TTFN (ta ta for now) CJ

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

SSpirit home.....

Hi all, thanks for your notes and messages... just wanted to let you know, after one night at Bute Island, the good ship SSpirit is now resting peacefully in her slip at MBYC. We're going to enjoy one more BBQ dinner and then head home for the night. Thanks for joining us on our rather unique month long cruise. Take good care. CJ

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Monday, September 28, 2020

Took the ‘ Jump’

Madeira Park was a good experience... and we met nice folks... but, it was time to go! One boat left (bigger, stronger and faster than ours) and ourselves and another waited one more night. We both headed out on Saturday morning with the intention of heading home (they to Richmond and us to the other side of the Strait). Luckily for us they got to south of Merry Island first and radioed back. They were turning around as the wave over swell was just too much. As we had no set plans, and didn't feel the need to get 'all shook up' we slowed down and joined them in Secret Cove for one night at the Buccaneer Marina. Sunday morning, bright and early, both boats headed out and south. Winds were light (on the nose for us) and seas were kindly. Both boats arrived at their destinations comfortably. We have enjoyed Sunday afternoon and Monday at Pages Marina and plan to head through Gabriola Pass tomorrow morning. Where we are headed remains to be determined and when we go home... well, we'll know once we're there :-). Rest assured we are safe within the Gulf Islands and enjoying, finally, some days of sunshine. Hope all is well with each of you. CJ

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

SSpirit is hunkered down at Madeira Park

Quick update for those of you following the weather. Yup, the wind event appears to be getting a little worse and for a little longer, but we are safe and secure, hunkered down at the public dock in Madeira Park. Over the next several days the winds are forecast to bounce around between 20 and 40 knots which of course has turned Georgia Straits into a cauldron of wind waves and swell. We don't wish to play in that and will remain here until things calm down. All is well on board. We have shopping nearby and are secured to a strong dock with power.

We hope all of you are also safe and warm. This storm will pass and we'll be on our way home once the trip will be more comfortable. Best to all... CJ

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