Friday, May 13, 2022

Back in BC

Hey there. It has been awhile since we have done a post. Just not a lot going on. Hope everyone has been healthy over the last month or so.

While we were still at Poverty Flats, we needed to dump our holding tanks so while doing that, we took a drive back into Valley of Fire State Park as that was the closest Sani Dump. After doing the deed, we drove around a bit and took a look at the 2 camping areas. The last time we were here was with the Cameo so this time we were looking for sites where our Solitude would fit. Sad to say, there weren't many! Maybe a half dozen total in both areas.

The Southwest US has been in a severe drought condition for a few years now and one place where it was very apparent is Lake Mead. Normally the water level reaches almost up to the town of Overton in the Moapa Valley. Just south of Overton, there is an old town by the name of St Thomas. Back in the 1930's after they built the Hoover Dam, the town was flooded by the rising water of Lake Mead. All the residents were relocated but a lot of the town was just abandoned. Normally the town lies under 40-50 feet of water. Not any more. It is now high and dry and no water to be seen anywhere except what is flowing in the Muddy River. We spent several hours one day wandering around and learning the history of St Thomas.

This was the old General store.

The school house.

Click on this picture for a larger readable version

Click on this picture for a larger readable version

More information on the town of St Thomas can be seen HERE

After we left the Overton area, we took a couple of days to travel north to Twin Falls, ID to see Eric and Susanne again. On the way there, we overnighted in Ely, NV, behind the Shell gas station.  We parked there after filling the truck up across the road at Love’s. What was nice about this location is that it was quiet. In total, there was probably less than a dozen units parked there overnight. Only a few big rigs with no reefers. It was also walking distance to the grocery store (5 min walk), so we went and got some snacks for the road and also a few things for dinner that night.

Once we got up the next morning, we continued on to Twin Falls, ID. Guess what came on just outside of Twin Falls? You guessed it, the check engine light. The day after we got set up at the Twin Falls Fairgrounds in Filer, ID, about 10 mins to shopping in Twin Falls, we went back to the same dealership we went to in November on the way down. At that point, they were not able to get it in for diagnostics, but were able to read and clear the codes showing that they were the same as before. Clearing them this time didn’t last long though, the check engine light came back on the next day. We decided that we would wait until we got back to Kamloops to deal with it.

One thing about Eric and Susanne; they are wonderful tour guides. They took us out again this trip. On Sunday, they took us to the little town of Eden, about 30 minutes NE of Twin Falls. There isn't a lot here except a little place if I recall correctly, called The Snug. On Sundays, they put on an incredible brunch buffet. All 4 of us waddled out of there after stuffing ourselves on just about any kind of breakfast/lunch items imaginable!

After wandering around a bit more, we wound up down in the Snake River gorge. Eric and Rob needed to work off some of breakfast so we set out to walk some of the Auger Falls trails and wound up at the old Scott's Barrow Bridge. 

Here also, we noticed water levels were very low. I'm not sure if it is normal for this time of year but it seemed the river was barely a trickle.



Twin Falls pretty much dry as a bone!



One of the places we went shopping at was Fred Meyer (one of the stores in the Kroger family like Fry’s and Smith’s in Arizona). With the Kroger chain, like some others, you can get fuel points when you shop at their stores. We went in with having a 40 cent per gallon discount we had accumulated further south. At this time, there was a coupon for double fuel points when shopping, but Chris used it when we were in Lake Havasu City and figured that we wouldn’t get it this time, but after paying for our groceries, and walking out, she discovered that we did get the double fuel points and now had 80 cents off per gallon. Fred Meyer had diesel at $4.98 /gallon US, so it dropped it down to $4.18/gallon (works out to $1.44/litre Canadian) . To figure this out, we have found usgas.ca works well to convert fuel prices from US to CDN or the other way around.
After a few days in Twin Falls doing some last minute shopping, touring and visiting, we got on the road again.

The last couple nights in the US, we overnighted at the Wildhorse Casino in Pendelton, OR and the parking lot (a bit more shopping) at the Omak, WA Walmart. One issue that came up on one these travels days, is that somewhere between Twin Falls and Pendelton, one of our solar panels on the roof of the trailer ended up losing 2 bolts and nuts from the brackets and flipped up and landed on the top of the one behind it.


Rob was able to remove the problem one, and the other one is still on the roof of the trailer without much glass on it. We now have 2 replacements being shipped to Oroville, WA.

On April 1st, we crossed the border at the Oroville-Osoyoos crossing which took maybe 15 mins. We had done the ArriveCan app the day before crossing, and we found out that with having our Nexus cards listed on it, when we gave the border agent the Nexus cards, all info from the app came up. We were asked the basic questions, and then all of a sudden the agent said “I will be right back.” At that point, Chris thought, oh crap, just because she answered yes to having some veggies in the trailer, we were going to have to do a secondary inspection. They came back with a box, and she thought, oh, I guess the box is for the veggies. She was wrong. Rob was the lucky one to be randomly selected to do a post arrival COVID test and that he had 24hrs to do it.

We waited to do the test until we got to Vernon later that day and set up in the spot we normally stay at. But on the way to Vernon, we stopped in Oliver, BC to have breakfast at A&W and then we went to Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up our free rapid antigen tests (RAT). Once we were done setting up in Vernon, Rob had to register his test in order to have someone supervise him as he did the testing. So once we had that done and were waiting for that, we did a RAT which we came back negative. After that, Rob got his post arrival test done and then we just had to drop it off at a local pharmacy and wait for the results. It came back negative a couple days later.

After visiting with friends and family, we left Vernon on April 4th and got to Kamloops. We have been staying at Silver Sage RV park and campground since then. It is a real nice spot. Right by the river. Only thing that is a negative is that there are no sewer hookups because the area is on a flood plain and does flood in the spring every so often. That is ok though, because we have our portable black tank that we use when the trailer needs to go potty.


While in Kamloops, we made a few trips back and forth to Vernon. We celebrated Rob’s mom’s 102nd birthday on April 8th and then back again for Easter weekend. We were to go for Chris's dad’s birthday on May 6th, but her parents came down with COVID. They are on the mend and doing fine now. 

Also while in Kamloops, we spent some time going through our sea can storage unit and weeding out things we had decided to part with. When we sold our house and started this adventure, we weren't sure what the future would hold so decided to hang on to quite a bit of stuff in case we decided we didn't like the lifestyle. After almost 3 years now, we both have decided to continue for the foreseeable future so we are downsizing again. We managed to eliminate a fair bit of stuff but are nowhere near finished. We will pick up again when we come back in the fall for a bit and go through the stuff we didn't get to this time.

As mentioned at the beginning, we were going to take the truck back to the GM dealer we deal with in Kamloops. We did that, and we are now waiting for parts. This time they will be replacing all 8 injectors again (yes, I know, they just did that in October and we had 3 changed in November), a NO2 sensor and the complete underhood engine wiring harness (this is the part that we are waiting on and apparently, it can take up to 20 weeks or so to get it). Once all the parts are in, they will also be looking at the fuel rails to make sure there is no contamination in them. We have opened a case with GM Canada, but so far they just told us what the dealership has told us. Guess we will have to wait and see. From what we have been told, there is such a parts problem right now, the dealer has had 6 or 8 trucks parked in their back lot for weeks waiting on parts for the DEF systems. When that goes, the truck is crippled until the parts are replaced. At least we can still use ours.

We left Kamloops on May 12 and will be in Vernon over the weekend and then we make our way to Princeton, BC with a quick trip into Oroville, WA to pick up the 2 new solar panels. We will be staying at a small provincial park (Bromley Rock) not far from Princeton for a couple of nights, and then on the 18th we will get to the airport in Princeton and help set up for the RC Jet rally happening over the long weekend. We'll hopefully provide another update a bit later as we will be doing a bit more traveling this summer.

That is about all for now. Stay safe out there, and have fun with your travels.


Sunday, March 20, 2022

More from Peoria and a few days in Lake Havasu City

This was a first for us and a sad day for others. Near where we were parked when Chris wrote our last blog entry, there were a couple of fellows in smaller trailers who looked like they had been there for a few months if not the whole season. One morning, about an hour after one of them drove off in his truck, we heard some sirens and shortly thereafter a firetruck and ambulance pulled up to their camp. After some activity, a couple of police cars arrived followed a bit later by a third. About an hour after this, the firetruck and ambulance left but the police stuck around for a few more hours until a nondescript white van arrived and we could see them moving what looked like a body bag into the back of the van. Shortly after that they all left. A bit later the other resident, who had left earlier, arrived back and one of the other longer term neighbours went over to chat. Apparently he had no idea what had transpired and looked quite distraught. We don't have any idea what transpired but have a couple of hunches.

As we had found this location a bit noisy with all the traffic nearby and the bad vibes from the earlier incident, we decided to pull up stakes and move to another spot we had found about a mile further up the road. Not before one very nice sunset though.

The new spot proved to be quite nice; quiet and no neighbours right close by.

Nearby was this old (probably pushing 200 years) Saguaro that Chris promptly named Carmen Miranda. I guess the top reminded her of the fancy hats and head dresses the dancer/singer/actress wore.

We also had some other neighbours who just kinda wandered around wherever they felt like. They are quite wild and won't let you get very close at all.

We wound up staying here about 10 days.

During this time, I did some exploring around the old airport where we used to stay when in Peoria. It was quite sad to see it shut down and everything torn down. They were even in the process of busting up all the old concrete foundations and rehabilitating it all. I am not sure what the full story is but I guess things have been in decline for a number of years. It was as recently as 2012 that this was still a very active glider school with quite a large number of gliders, tow planes and resident aircraft. 

Here are a couple of before and after shots.



As I said, I am not sure what the whole story is, but I hope the couple that ran the place, Rick and Jenanne are OK.

Our last weekend in Peoria, we heard about an all electric Fun Fly at the AMPS club field that our friend Paul belongs to. It sounded like it could be fun so I loaded up my little Cessna and we headed over. This was their first event of this type and judging by the popularity, it will become an annual event. I put in 5 flights on the Cessna and had a great time.


After leaving Peoria, we headed back to Lake Havasu City to meet up with our friends Steve and Tammi. When we last saw them in early January, they were looking for a place in Havasu. Well, in the interim, they had found and purchased a house there. Steve had asked for some help with moving but by the time we had got there, they had pretty much moved in so there wasn't much for us to do. We spent a few days visiting then moved on.



 

Things are starting to bloom here now. The Prickly Pear cactus seem to get things started.

 

I guess you could say we are officially on our way home (home being BC that is) now. We are presently on some BLM land just at the northern edge of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. This is also just outside Valley of Fire State Park which we visited back in 2019. 




There are 2 fairly good size BLM areas here popular with RVers. The one where we are is called Poverty Flats. Nearby is Snowbird Mesa. Both of these are just outside of the Moapa Valley. This one was a bit easier to access with the trailer and also was the first we came to so here we are!  We plan to stay here for a week or so, and then head North targeting April 1 or thereabouts to cross into Canada.


Friday, March 4, 2022

Yuma, Quartzsite and Peoria

After our 2 weeks were up at the Imperial Dam LTVA (Long Term Visitor Area), we hooked up, dumped and filled the trailer, and then headed towards Yuma. A couple of days before, we had scoped out a spot to stay at for a few nights before we headed that way. We ended up staying at an old gravel pit about 10 minutes north of Yuma. It was actually not a bad spot. Wide open and not over crowed like it was up at the LTVA. While there, we discovered another little BLM area for camping nearby, but not sure if we would be able to get our trailer in. It has some tight areas.

 


We stayed 2 nights at the gravel pit and then moved on over to Contreras Field, the home of the Yuma RC Aeromodellers, where they were hosting their annual RC airshow. Rob was planning on flying his RC jet at this event, but discovered about a week before that the jet had some cracks on one of the tail booms. We believe that this happened when we went over a large frost heave going through Rogers Pass as we headed to Okotoks, AB for work last year. So the jet is grounded until he gets it repaired. But he was able to fly his small Cessna electric airplane at the event. 

 

 

We ended up leaving the airfield on Sunday, Feb 20, to head back to Quartzsite for the Grand Design RV "Rally in the Desert". This is the only Grand Design rally that is boondocking, or no hookups. This is the second one that we have been to. The last one was 2 years ago in 2020, just before COVID roared into North America.

 




If you look closely, you can see Rob in the foreground. He's the one with his arms up over his head!

At night, if the wind wasn't blowing too strong, we would have a large fire.

The rally started on February 24th and was done on the Sunday. The final rig count I believe was 164. We were able to meet more people this time. Had a good time, but did not win anything. Maybe at our next Grand Design rally this June in Spruce Grove, AB. We decided that we will not be working this summer as we want to do a bit more of the RC airplane events in BC and maybe a couple in Alberta.

While we were at the rally, Rob had a chance to install the stained glass window that we got when we were in Los Algodones. We discovered though, while removing the inside piece of the window frame, that the stained glass piece was a bit smaller than the actual window in the door. Rob had to MacGyver a fix in order to get it in. We had to keep the original glass in the frame and silicone the new one onto it. Here it is the morning after with the sun shining through it as the sun was rising.

 

 

While here, there were a couple of other attendees with truly impressive Solar/Battery systems.

Mark and Elizabeth - 3300 watts of solar and 16.2 KWH of Lithium batteries

Joshua and Elizabeth - 7600 Watts of panels and 28.8 KWH of batteries

We left Quartzsite on March 1st and headed to Phoenix. We were going to try and stay at the same place we normally do when we go to Phoenix,  the Pleasant Valley RV Park and Airport,
but have discovered that it is no more. Apparently, from what we can find out is that the lease for the Arizona State Trust Land that it is on, was not renewed. We took a drive over there and sure enough, all the buildings, hangers and rv park have been taken down or torn up. We are now on State Trust land just across Hwy 74 from the airport. The permit we needed costs $20 for a yearly family pass, and is good for 14 days here. 

 

Last nights sunset

We did a quick grocery shop the day that we arrived here after setting up camp. While at Fry’s Foods, they had chicken thighs on for .99 cents a pound. Ended up getting 4 packages of chicken thighs and it looks like they have 4 pieces in each pack. The 4 packs before sale was $19.64 and with sale price they came to only $7.50!

 


One thing about this location that we have mentioned before is the hot air balloons that will take off or land in the area. Yesterday morning (March 3), there were 13 hot air balloons that were up. The majority of them landed across the highway from us, but there was one, that landed not far from us.

 

Quick video of the balloon landing. We watched as the chase vehicle got into position in order for the one helper to help get the balloon into position for deflation and packing it up as the pilot and the 2 passengers had their celebratory drink and snack. There are 2 main companies in the area that do daily passenger rides. Rainbow Ryders and Hot Air Expeditions. This balloon was with the latter.


On Wednesday, the day after we got to Phoenix, we went up to Bartlett Lake, about a 1 hr drive from our location, for a small float fly. We met up with our good friend Paul Good. We haven’t seen him for 2 years. Unfortunately, after about a month after we saw him last, his wife Joan passed away. It was nice to see him  again. We met them quite a few years ago while we were at a float fly at Sandy Point Campground, just outside of Salmon Arm, BC.

We headed up to Bartlett Lake around 7:40 am. When we got up to the lake, there were a few guys getting ready for the little float fly. Rob ended up being the first one in the air. It has been awhile since he has done that.


As the video plays, at about the 16 second mark, we will see Rob flying by doing a roll with his airplane.  As you can see, it was a beautiful sunny day there. It was an iffy morning though, in regards to the wind. By the time we got to the lake, the wind was starting to die down. Rob ended up getting 5 flights in with his plane. Me, I was reading and getting a sunburn. Yes, I know, I should of put some sunscreen on but I didn’t. Let’s just say that wearing a t-shirt today has not been fun.




One thing that we like about the landscape when we get to Arizona, is the desert and the cacti that we see. What we see the most are Saguaro Cactus. (Cacti is the plural form). While there are some around Yuma and Quartzsite as we traveled to Phoenix, we start to see more and more. 


 


 

As you can see, the saguaro cactus can take on many different shapes and sizes. The ones that you see are probably between 150-200 yrs old.

 



Some info on the saguaro cactus can be found at the below links.

https://www.livescience.com/58520-crested-saguaro-cactus-photos.html

https://www.nps.gov/sagu/planyourvisit/upload/The%20Saguaro%20Cactus.pdf 

We will be in the Phoenix area for a couple of weeks. Will do another post in a few weeks. Stay safe and warm. Talk to everyone soon. 

Christine and Rob.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Update by Chris

Hi everyone. It has been a while since Rob has posted anything on the blog, so I am doing one.

We last left off where the truck was acting up again, and we were able to find a GM dealer in Cathedral City, CA (just outside of Palm Springs) to look at it back in November, and we are sorry to say, it had to have 4 fuel injectors, 4 bad pigtails (they had corrosion on one end) and 2 fuel rails replaced. It took over a week around US Thanksgiving to have the work done. In the meantime, we were able to have rental car paid for by GM. Thank goodness we got the truck back when we did because we needed to empty the trailer and I don’t think AVIS would be pleased if we used our portable black water tank in it. We are hoping after this, that the truck should be good.

While we were waiting for the truck, we hosted US Thanksgiving for the Escapee Boomers. We had a small turnout, total of 7 rigs including us. For the first group gathering, it was the perfect size. We had a couple of small units that had camped near us just after we got there for a couple of nights, and one of the units went to reposition and ended up getting stuck in the sand. So, Rob to the rescue. It took a little bit, did not use the truck, it was all digging and using some mats, and pushing of the van, they got it unstuck. As it turned out, we ended up helping 3 or 4 more vehicles after they got stuck in the sand or in a big hole using the truck to pull them out.

After the gathering at Joshua Tree wound down, we headed to Yuma where we spent all of December with Michael and Robin at their double RV lot in the foothills of Yuma. On Dec 31, we headed up to Lake Havasu City to spend a bit of time with Steve and Tammie, who we met last time we were down for the winter. They were looking for a house in a more temperate climate. They now have an offer on a house which is pending and they just recently put their house in Grand Junction, Colorado up for sale.

By the middle of the first week of January this year, we headed back to Quartzsite and stayed at La Posa South LTVA area for a few days and then emptied the tanks and filled with water and headed over to the area for the Escapees Boomers yearly Boomerville gathering. This location is just off Plomosa Rd at mile marker 3 north of Quartzsite. This will be our first large gathering since COVID started.

During Boomerville, they hold an auction for the Escapees C.A.R.E (Continuing Assistance to Retired Escapees). This organization is where you can go and get assistance during any type of health issue while you are traveling or done traveling and do not have a home to go to. It is all volunteer based, so they need donations to stay running and volunteers to help. The hosts of Boomerville weren’t sure if there was going to be an auction, but, there was, and I ended up being a co-chair for it. I wasn’t planning on being as hands on with the auction as I was. I still did do some baking for the auction though. Overall, with donations for pancakes made by Gretchen, cinnamon buns by me and the proceeds and some other donations for the auction, the Boomers raised $10,0001.00 for CARE. Considering this was the first auction in 2 years, we did pretty good.


We are now at the Imperial Dam LTVA area just outside of Yuma till around the middle of February, and then we will be heading over to the Yuma Aeromodellers RC airplane field for their annual airshow. Not sure if Rob will be flying in it again though. We will see when we get there.

Saturday we made a quick day trip to Los Algodones. As you cross the border into Baja Mexico, there are quite a few people that ask you if you need a dentist or a pharmacy, as this is one of the places that a lot of snowbirds will flock to for dental and cheaper meds. We haven’t been to any there, but the prices are supposed to be much cheaper than back home, even with eyeglasses. We noticed that the vendors around the area have become very aggressive in trying to get you to buy from them. I did not feel comfortable enough to stop and look at a lot of stuff in case they got too pushy in forcing me to buy stuff. On that note, we did end up buying some items. Rob picked up another Los Algodones jacket, black this time with the 3 lizards in color and a nice tablecloth for the RV at one vendor and then as we went through a courtyard, we saw one vendor that was selling stained glass windows that you can put in the door window of your RV. In all, we spent around $175 US while there. Oh, and I bought a 4 litre bottle of vanilla for $11.64 US. I couldn’t resist it at that price. Not sure how long that will last.