Honey, this isn’t Texas!

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Snow covered mountains?  Did we take a wrong turn?  This doesn’t look like Texas.

It’s 2020, so our plans went out the window…again.  When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that they will keep their border closed for the “Foreseeable future,” we talked about starting to look for a new vehicle.  We were able to change all of our Alaska reservations to the summer of 2021, but who knows if we will make it there? As much as we enjoyed the truck camper, the thought of living full-time in a tiny space for two more years, was not something we really wanted to do.  So we started to look at small class A motorhomes for sale.  Sadly, many dealers seemed to raise their prices on used ones, both gas and diesel.  And they were not willing to negotiate much on price. 

Then we spotted a new coach on-line, and were intrigued.  We went back and forth with the dealer, and made a low-ball offer to see how they would counter.  And they did…oh, now what do we do?  So off to Colorado, in December, to look at an RV!  We had made the offer contingent upon us seeing the coach, and driving it.  We were fortunate the weather was unseasonably warm…for the first 10 days!  The dealer called us the day after Thanksgiving to advise there was a missing trim piece, and one piece of fascia was damaged, and that the replacement pieces would not arrive until December 9th.  We decided we would still come out by November 30th, as we had planned, and would just wait for the parts. This would give us time to go over things, and have them take care of any issues that we found.  

The dealer, Transwest Truck, Trailer and RV, located in Frederick, Colorado (North of Denver), had a parking lot “campground” for guests to stay in.  We were able to park door-to-door, which made it easier to move our belongings from the truck and camper into our new home, a 2020 Newmar Canyon Star 3513.  Out with the old, in with the new!

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Here are some more pictures of our new home:

 

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And here’s what it looked like once we moved our stuff from the camper in!  We were surprised by how much stuff we were able to cram into the camper.  And we have more stuff stored at Dave and Marilyn’s house, our friends in Yuma.  

Here is the damaged fascia and missing wooden valance that Newmar replaced.

We had some other issues that we found, and the dealer took care of everything before we left. We were very, very happy with their service department, and would recommend them for any service you may need. They do service all makes and models. While we were in Colorado, we did have an opportunity to meet up with our niece, Breanna. She is teaching in the Boulder area, and drove over after ‘virtual teaching’ to check out our new home. It was wonderful catching up with her, as we have not seen her since 2014.

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Our goal was to leave on December 10th, after they fixed the fascia that arrived on the 9th.  But our luck with good weather ran out, and we had to wait two days for the snow to clear.  It presented a good challenge to test out the new coach:  snow, wet roads, mountains, road construction and a multi-car accident blocking the interstate around Denver!  Off to a good challenge!  We have been pleasantly pleased by how well the gas coach has performed.  

Leaving the dealer’s campground:

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When we had our walk-through with the technician at the dealer, he commented that they do not make the windshield wiper fluid reservoir large enough.  We really didn’t understand what he meant until we were on the wet roads.  After 85 miles, we had used up the entire gallon on our large windshield, and had to stop for another bottle!  Mile-High Stadium, home of the Denver Broncos football team, is in the picture below.  The wipers were less than ideal with no fluid!

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It took two days of driving until we lost the snow, and found the sun!  We did a quick stop in Casa Grande, and got together with Forrest and Mary, whom we met back in 2013.  Once again, we had a nice visit, delicious lunch, and got to see their new-to-them super C.  

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Then it was off to Yuma, where we are back at a very deserted Westwind RV for the next 2 months.  Not only are the Canadians missing, but there are a lot of Americans that have not made it down here (yet).  There are 1057 sites here, but only a fraction of them are occupied.  It will be a quiet winter.  But that could be a good thing, as people stay safe and healthy!  Soon this year will be over!!!!!

Quote for the day:  “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to it’s old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Working on Plan D or is it E?

After a strange split season working at Luton’s Teton Cabins, we have arrived back in Wisconsin, a current “hot spot” for Covid infections.  We are trying to decide what to do next, as the weather has turned unseasonably cold.  Originally, we were hoping to stay in Wisconsin at least until the end of November, then head out in search of warmer weather.

We enjoyed working a split season, even though we originally had no plans of working at all.  Normally by the end of the season, we are tired and ready to leave, but this year we stayed until October 8th.  Karen and Al also stayed until the end of the season, as we had the busiest fall season ever.  It was ironic that the four of us, who were not even supposed to be at Luton’s, were the last to leave.  We all remain optimistic that Canada will eventually open up, and we can visit Alaska in 2021 (although they just extended the border closing through November 21.)

We had several excellent pot lucks during the month of September and into October, including two prime ribs roasts.  Al, as usual, did an excellent job of cooking them.  This was a 20 pound roast, cooked to perfection.

It’s back to doing some chores at Dan’s parents house in Wisconsin.  We also have some medical appointments for Makena and I set up.  And we are working on clearing out our belongings that we have stored in my sister’s attic.  Other than that, we are just enjoying some down time for now.  My cousin Caroline gave us a giant Northern Georgia Candy Roaster squash that she had grown in her garden.  I think it weighs about 10 pounds.

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We tried roasting some slices for about an hour, and it turned out delicious!  Even if you don’t like squash, this particular style is very sweet and tasty.  No brown sugar needed to improve the taste!

We are trying to decide where to go for the winter.  A lot depends on how quickly we need to leave, but we are leaning towards heading back to Arizona for a few months.  But we are also considering heading to Texas as well.  It will all just depend on the weather.

That’s a wrap for now!  Stay safe everyone.

Quote for the Day:  “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” – Dr. Seuss

Moving on to “Plan C”

Just a quick update.  We are still in Wyoming, working at Luton’s Teton Cabins, but will be departing for Wisconsin after the first week of July.  Our original plan was to go to Alaska this summer, crossing into Canada in mid-May.  With the border shut down, we moved on to Plan B, which was to wait here and see if the Canada/United States border would open up, and then do a slightly abbreviated trip to Alaska. Since all indications are that Canada will keep the border closed, through July, and possibly longer, we have scrapped our Alaska plans, and moved all of our reservations to 2021.

It was never our intent to spend the summer here in Wyoming, although it is a great place to be (no humidity, no mosquitoes, and a beautiful view).  But we don’t want to take any hours away from anyone that was planning on working here.  Our friends Dan and Nancy are planning on working here this summer, and they will arrive around the last week of June to start their training, and then we will depart for Wisconsin.  That was always our “Plan C.”

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Going to see the Grandparents!

Dan’s parents were thrilled when we told them the news (after expressing disappointment that we were not going to Alaska), and I think they are working on a large “honey do” list of chores for us to help them with.  Dan says, “not too long Mom.” They had been planning on hiring out some local handymen to help them out, but we are just not comfortable having lots of people coming into their house right now.  They are both in the higher risk category for COVID-19, and we don’t feel it’s safe to have a lot of people coming and going right now.

It’s about 1400 miles from Moran, Wyoming to his parents house in Wisconsin.  With being fully self-contained in our camper (see Don and Kathy, I didn’t say ‘truck camper’!!) we can make it there with very minimal contact to the outside world.  So we can continue to keep ourselves in our own little “bubble”.

As for our winter plans, we still have not decided on anything concrete.  As the way 2020 is going, we simply can’t plan that far in advance!  We are on a month to month deal right now.

Quote for the day:  “Live, so you do not have to look back and say, “God, how I have wasted my life.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

 

Back to Work…for now

With temperatures staying above 100 degrees for an extended time, it was finally time to leave Yuma, Arizona, and head to cooler weather, while we wait for the Canadian border to open.  Our air conditioner on our truck camper was running all day, trying to keep up with the heat.  Yes, it’s a dry heat, but it’s still hot!

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This forecast looked much better to us, so off we went to Moran, Wyoming.

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We left on May 2nd, and planned on taking a few days to get to Moran, but at our first stop in Utah, we discovered that our refrigerator would not work on the propane setting.  So we continued on, planning on staying at a campground for the night, with hook-ups, so we could try to run the refrigerator on electric.  As we approached the town, we noticed lightning to the West.  After checking the radar, which was a big red blob, and reading the special weather bulletin indicating 40 mph winds and pea size hail were coming, we just decided to continue North to get ahead of the storm.  Dan ended up driving around 600 miles that day, and we stayed overnight at a Wal-Mart for the first time ever.  With the store closing at 9 pm, it was very quiet.  Since it would be in the 30’s at night, we were not too concerned about the refrigerator getting too warm.

We were able to participate in a Zoom call with my brothers and sisters while we were driving.  It was a lot of fun catching up with everyone, and hopefully my brother Jerry will be able to attend the next one.

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We have also been doing Zoom calls with Dan’s family as well.

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When we arrived at Luton’s Teton Cabins in Moran, Wyoming, Brad and Joanne (the owners) had a cabin all set for us.  We have worked for them the past four summers, and they graciously offered us a cabin to stay in, so we didn’t have to spend so much time in our tiny camper.  It’s not as well insulated as our fifth wheel was.  We were able to park and unload our stuff.  Makena was absolutely thrilled to have a big space to run around in, and I’m enjoying having a dishwasher!

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This is our view from the cabin.

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When we arrived on Sunday the 3rd, the State of Wyoming was still requiring all visitors to do a 14-day self quarantine.  That order expired the next day, but with the parks and almost all stores closed, there was really nowhere to go.

When we did venture out on Wednesday, we had to be very careful of the Elk.  Without visitors bothering them, the Elk have taken over!  We have never, in four years, seen so many Elk.  The park closures have been good for the wildlife.

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Of course, this was a little too close!

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We took Makena for her annual veterinarian visit in Jackson.  You are not allowed into the building.  You have to call them, and then they come out to get your pet.  Everything went well, and once you give them your credit card over the phone, they return your pet.  I felt like she was being held hostage!  You give us “X” amount of money, and we’ll bring your dog out to the car!

After her visit, we went to the grocery store.  Last year the city of Jackson banned plastic bags, so we were curious to see if that ban was still in place, as we had heard some grocery stores were not allowing people to bring in their own bags anymore.  But the ban is still in place, and you need to bring in your own bags, as well as bag your own groceries.  They have stopped bagging them for you.

We were also happy to see that close to 100% of the people in the store (employees and customers) were wearing a mask.  In Yuma, it was about 80%, so it’s nice to see everyone doing their part to keep others safe.  Our friend Ellen made us some masks, and we have been wearing those when shopping. We needed to go to three other stores before finding two bus fuses for our RV refrigerator. Our fridge is now running again!

Over the past week, the non-essential stores in Jackson have started to re-open, as the Wyoming closure orders have gradually been lifted this week.  As of today, you can now have a gathering of up to 25 people, with churches, funeral homes and livestock auctions exempted.  That limit is set to expire at the end of the month.  The two bookstores and a toy store have both stated they will remain closed (online orders only) as they are a “high touch” store and haven’t come up with a plan to keep everything sanitized.  And a shoe store said they will only allow two people in at a time, so they can sanitize the shoes that people try on, but don’t purchase.  Other stores and restaurants said they are going to wait until the summer before re-opening.

BACK TO WORK

We have just been hanging out in the cabin, watching movies through Amazon Prime on our iPad.  But then everything changed on the afternoon of the 13th, when they announced that Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park would be re-opening, on a limited basis, starting Monday, May 18th at noon.

Brad and Joanne knocked on our cabin door, and Brad said we need you to start work in the office tomorrow, and work every day for the next week!  Apparently as soon as word got out about the parks, the telephone was ringing off the hook!  Up until then, he had been getting nothing but cancellations for this summer.  Some people did reschedule for next year.  Although we are still getting some cancellations, we are now getting a lot of new bookings.

With Yellowstone, the only entrances that will be opened up initially are the two in Wyoming.  The other three entrances are in Montana, and they still have a 14-day quarantine for visitors (as well as Idaho, which is only a few miles from the West entrance.)

Dan has also gone back to work in housekeeping.  Mitch and Amanda, who we have worked with the past two summers, have returned again.  They did spring cleaning on a few cabins so they will be ready for visitors next week.  As with all businesses, Brad and Joanne are starting to implement a lot of changes as a result of the virus.  It’s going to be an interesting summer for everyone.

UPDATE ON ALASKA

We are trying to remain optimistic that we will be able to go to Alaska.  Canada and the United States first agreed to shut the border around March 21 for 30 days.  They extended the closure in April for an additional 30 days.  That closure is set to expire on May 21, but from what we have been reading, Canada is pushing for another 30 day extension.  Canada has done a good job in controlling the spread of Covid-19 with extensive shutdowns, testing, and contract tracing.  It’s certainly understandable that they want to keep their people safe.  And we want all of our Canadian friends to stay safe!

So for now, we wait.  Al and Karen should be arriving here next week, and then we will decide on our plans.  If we don’t end up going to Alaska, Brad asked if we could stay and work for the summer, and we may decide to do that.  But we would rather be headed North.

Quote for the Day: “Have patience.  All things are difficult before they come easy.” – Saadi

 

 

 

Moving on to Plan B and Plan C

We hope everyone is doing well.  We are still in Yuma, trying to remain optimistic about going to Alaska this summer, but also working on alternate plans.  Our work actually ended here at Westwind RV and Golf Resort in the middle of March.  The resort, in compliance with the city of Yuma’s social distancing guidelines, shut down all activities, closed the pool, library, billiards room, fitness center, and limited the restaurant to take-out only.  The golf pro shop, where we worked two days a week, was also closed.  The golf course remains open, but it is “honor golf” only.  If you want to play, you deposit $8 per person in an envelope, and put it in a mailbox outside the pro shop.  The golf shop managers were collecting the money once a day.  And after today, the two full-time employees in the office will be collecting the money, as today is the last day for any remaining work campers to work.

So we have had a lot of free time on our hands.  Since we had put in a lot of extra time for dances and night golf, the park continued to pay for our site and utilities until April 15.  After today, we can stay for as long as we want, but we have to pay for utilities (water/sewer/trash and metered electric).  It’s a great deal, and we are very thankful we have a place to stay, as so many campgrounds have closed down.

PLAN B AND PLAN C

The last four summers, we have worked at Luton’s Teton Cabins in Wyoming.  Brad and Joanne, the owners, reached out to us, and offered us a cabin to stay in starting in May, as we wait to see if the Canadian border opens up, and then proceed up to Alaska.  If we can cross over into Canada in June, we still plan on going.  We are extremely grateful for the offer, and our “Plan B” is to head to Wyoming after May 1st, and stay there for a few weeks and see what happens.  We have been watching the weather here in Yuma, and it looks pretty good until the end of the month, when the 90’s arrive.   That’s also when it starts to warm up in the Tetons, with daytime highs around 60.  (Although every year it has snowed on us in May!)

If Alaska doesn’t work out this summer, we will move on to Plan C, which is going back to Wisconsin.  Dan’s parents have stated they have plenty of “honey do” projects on their list to keep us busy all summer!  We would then go to Alaska in the summer of 2021, and look for a work camping job this fall (such as Amazon or JC Penney’s).

But who knows?!  We can only plan a week or two ahead, at best right now.  We are just grateful that we have options (and toilet paper!)  Dan and I spent one Sunday walking to five different stores, in search of toilet paper.  On the positive side, we walked 4.2 miles.  On the negative side, we couldn’t find toilet paper anywhere.  They have “senior hours” at the local Fry’s grocery store, so I asked our friend Tom if he could look for us when he went shopping during the early morning senior hours, as he said they are always fully stocked when he has gone.  And much to my delight, when I opened up our door to let Makena out on Monday morning, there was a 12 pack of Kroger brand toilet paper on our steps!!  Thanks Tom!!  I felt like a teenager asking an adult to buy beer, only I was an adult asking a senior to buy me some toilet paper!  My how times have quickly changed!

KEEPING BUSY

Since we have nothing but time on our hands, we asked our friends Dave and Marilyn if they needed help with any projects, and they quickly answered yes!  They wanted to build a pergola, re-do the makeshift box around their pool equipment, and get rid of an old built-in grill that was not in use.  So it was back to work for us!  Below is the pool equipment enclosure.

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The Before

The grill area was a challenge to take down.  The back wall had to remain, as the pool equipment was attached to it.  The hollow bricks were filled with concrete and re-bar.  I think this thing was built to withstand a hurricane.

Eventually it came apart, and they poured concrete on the bottom as a stand for Dave’s free-standing grill.

After that was taken down, the pergola began to take shape.

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A sunscreen shade was secured over the top which really looks nice.

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The original plan was to put artificial grass down in front of the pool equipment enclosure, but Marilyn changed her mind, and decided on brick instead.  We always knew we were in trouble when Marilyn would start a sentence with “you guys are going to hate me, but what if we……..”

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Down went the brick pavers (which really turned out to be the better option).

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The size of this patio changed a few times (Marilyn…) and the grass was eventually put down.  It turned out well, and provided a nice contrast in color.

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After

So we have added a few more skills to our skill set!

Quote for the Day:  “Live as if you were to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Ghandi