More visitors and moving on

We finally left the 48th state (Arizona) in April and made our way up to Wyoming for the summer to work.  But not before our friends from Yuma, Dave and Marilyn, stopped in for a quick visit.  Thanks to a tip from Jack and Ruth Ann, the four of us took a very scenic, but winding road over to Tortilla Flats, Arizona, population 6!  The town was originally a stage coach stop in 1904.  Now it is a fun little tourist town.  And I do mean little, as this is the entire town:

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The original school in Tortilla Flats.

We did stop in for a cold beverage and lunch at the saloon, which had saddles as the bar stools.

Cheers from Marilyn!

And I was immediately drawn to (or suckered) into this sign:

The next day the four of us ventured out to Airbase Arizona, Commemorative Air Force Museum in Mesa, Arizona. I will do a separate blog post on that, as it’s hard to just select a few photos for this post.

After leaving Arizona, we headed back to Transwest Truck Trailer RV in Frederick, Colorado, for some quick service work on our motorhome. The motorized front shade/visor had been giving us problems for the past several months. We have talked with both Newmar and the manufacturer of the shade, AutoMotion, but neither could come up with a solution. Newmar did send us a remote, so we could manually raise and lower the shade. Since it was still under warranty, we wanted this fixed.

I also was doing laundry in our motorhome when I heard water running. It’s never a good thing to hear water running when you are in an RV! The hot water valve going into the washer did not shut off at the end of the cycle, and water was spurting out the back. Fortunately, the washer sits on a pan, which caught the excess water. This could have been a lot worse! We did try to take the washer out to look at the back, but this unit is bolted down so well it wouldn’t budge if an earthquake struck. Dan called Transwest and asked if they would look at it, and since it is a Splendide, they said they could. Apparently they will not service other brands of washers.

Newmar agreed to overnight parts to Transwest since we had made them aware of our issues. The motor on the shade was replaced (and works perfectly now) and the intake valve on the back of the washer was replaced. It took the technician four hours to get the washer out of, and back into the closet. We e-mailed Newmar and suggested they put in an access panel in the closet, so you can reach the back of the washer/dryer. Hopefully we will not have any more issues with that, as the bulk of the repair bill is just getting access to the machine. But everything was covered under warranty, and we were soon on our way to Wyoming.

As we were driving up I-25 into Wyoming, a truck passed us and blew a tire. We knew we couldn’t escape the flying debris, and pulled into the next rest area to check for damage. Oddly, our exhaust pipe was the only thing damaged. We felt we really caught a break.

What you can’t tell from the picture above is how close to the ground the pipe is. We started calling Ford dealers and RV dealers in Wyoming to see if we could get this repaired before the muffler hit the ground or the tire. The Ford dealers said they were too small to fit an RV into their shop, and the RV dealers were unable to get us in. One dealer recommended calling Central Truck and Diesel in Casper. Dan called and explained our situation, and they said to “come on in.” They said they could order a new tip, but it would be several days before the part arrived, or they could just bang it out and reweld it on. We opted for the latter. It took the service technician three hours to repair, and then we were on our way.

We finally made it to Luton’s Teton Cabins at 8 pm, and got up and started work the next day. This is our sixth summer now (and hopefully last, as we really want to go to Alaska!) It’s going to be a super busy summer, as we are booked solid at the cabins.

Quote of the Day: “The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at and repair.” – Douglas Adams

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