Getting caught up with our latest travels

Goodbye Wyoming

After six years of work camping at Luton’s Teton Cabins, we left for the final time on October 10th. Our goal was to stay ahead of the snow as we made our way back to Wisconsin, where we hoped to stay until the first week of December. We are the little blue dot on the lower right of the weather radar image below. We did manage to stay ahead of the snow, but eventually the cold weather caught up with us in Wisconsin, so we left earlier than we wanted. We are currently in Arizona, and should arrive in Yuma on Sunday December 5th, the day we were hoping to leave Wisconsin.

Minnesota

We stopped for a few days in Minnesota to visit Dan’s brother, Gary and his wife Julia. They had a few trees come down in their driveway this past year, so we were actually able to park in their driveway, which worked out quite well for us. We had a nice time visiting with them, as well as seeing their daughter Carmen, Luke and kids. And we had a surprise visit from Aunt Sue. It’s nice to be able to start seeing people again.

One highlight of our visit was attending the University of Minnesota men’s hockey game against St. Cloud State. It was my very first college hockey game, and despite the Gophers losing, a good time was had by all.

It was also the first time I had seen cheerleaders on skates!

Prior to the game, we walked around the arena where Dan and Gary found several team photos from when their dad played hockey at the University.

Stu is #10 in the back row on the right.

Wisconsin

We headed on over to Dan’s sisters house (Linda and Doug’s “Camp Meyer”) and spent a few weeks there, as our main base. From there we were able to see Kami and Kyle’s families and make a few short trips to Dan’s parents in Oconto Falls. We did make a few quick trips down to the Milwaukee area to visit with some friends and family, but simply did not have enough time to see everyone that we wanted, as the weather quickly turned unseasonably cold, with lows in the 20’s.

I did manage to have some puppy time with my sister’s new German Shorthair Pointer, Winnie! She’s been busy tormenting her “big sister” Reagan.

For many years, my sister Margie and I did a Christmas cookie “Bake-a-thon,” where we spent an entire weekend making over a dozen different varieties of cookies (usually double and triple batches), to be given out as gifts. It was always a fun, but exhausting weekend. Since Dan and I have been on the road since 2013, we have not been able to get together to do this.

This year we did manage to do a scaled down version of our cookie baking. It was much easier just making single batches of a few cookies! Reagan decided to play the role of the chief cookie inspector (she has a bit of a guilty look, not sure if she snuck a cookie off the table!)

TEXAS

Our plans to stick around for Thanksgiving did not work, so we headed South to Texas to have Thanksgiving with my sister LuAnn. She was very excited to receive a box of freshly baked cookies! (it’s the state of Wisconsin – she has it sideways!)

After a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at friends of LuAnn’s, we did manage to do some hiking to work off all the turkey! Makena did go along on the hike – she’s just hiding behind all the big dogs (she plans on blogging soon!)

ARIZONA

As stated above, we should arrive in Yuma on Sunday, where we plan on staying for the next four months. We are currently in Tucson, to give Makena a break from all the travel in the past two weeks. Being in her kennel several hours a day, day after day, seemed to bother her this time. So we decided to just stay home for a few days, and she is already feeling better. The sunshine and warm temperatures have helped us all.

Quote for the day: “It’s all about the quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family.” – Philip Green

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