Heading North to Alaska (finally)

After two long years of waiting, we are finally making our way to Alaska! We left Arizona at the end of April, and have been slowly making our way north to the border. We will be meeting up with our friends Al and Karen on Sunday in Shelby, Montana, and plan on crossing into Alberta Canada on Tuesday, May 17th. We will be stopping in High River for a few days, and meeting up with Don and Kathy, our “neighbors” in Yuma.

In a matter of days, we went from the mid 90’s in Arizona, to our first winter weather advisory! It was actually enjoyable to finally get out of the heat.

Now we are getting pounded by the wind in Shelby. The motorhome has a full wall slide with a slide topper. After listening to it get battered around for an hour, we decided to put the slide in for the day. Definitely not a day to be driving an RV.

We had a nice winter in Yuma. Dan’s parents were able to rent a park model in our RV park for two months. Dan’s brother Gary and his wife Julia were also able to fly down for a visit, along with their daughter Jasmine, who lives in Arizona. Makena was even allowed to visit in the park model. Everyone looks so excited!

Dan’s mom Joan loves to line dance, and they have classes two days a week in the park. The line dancers also participated in the park’s Mardi Gras parade, and Joan donned her mask to dance along the streets!

Our friend Ellen (who is behind Joan in the picture above holding the Red Hat ladies banner) turned the big 70 this March, so we had her and Tom over to celebrate! Ellen loves her cannoli’s!

Happy 70th!

We had a few outings/meals/card days at Dave and Marilyn’s house. Marilyn decided it was time to bust out a giant bottle of wine that she had stored in their garage for the past 6 years. Nothing like 110 degree summers to properly “age” the wine!! The cork disintegrated as Dan tried to get it out. As you can expect, it was not the best testing wine! It was only fitting we used dixie cups for our tasting!

We had a nice surprise visit from our friend Judy. She has recently retired and decided to escape the weather in Wisconsin and visit some friends of hers in Sun City. They all made the trek out to Yuma for the day. These ladies enjoy golfing, and making “sand angels” in the sand traps on golf courses! Avid blog reader Keith promised to be with Judy the next time they visit!

Jasmine turned the big 30 in April, and her mom Julia, and sisters Brooke and Carmen flew down to help her celebrate. We were able to meet up with them for brunch, followed by an afternoon at a nearby park, where we attempted to play pickleball on the tennis court.

Carmen (mom to be), Julia, Jasmine, Brooke and I
Pickleball in sandals

This is our ninth year of full-time RV’ing, and this will be our first summer where we will not be working. It’s time to play tourist! For us, the price of gas has dropped about 50 cents per gallon since we left Arizona. Depending on what day it is, it’s either going up, or going back down. There’s nothing we can do about it, and we have waited two years for this trip. I plan on keeping track of all our expenses once we cross into Canada. Karen has done an excellent job planning our route, and we have booked almost all of our campgrounds already. We have a few flexible days in Canada on the way to Alaska.

Canada has an app, ArriveCan, that you have to complete before you cross the border. We have entered as much information ahead of time (passport and vaccine information), and then you have to complete the rest of the information 72 hours ahead of your arrival. So we will finish that up Sunday. From what we have heard so far, this app makes crossing the border a lot more efficient, because they will have all your information on file, and won’t have to enter the data as you cross. We shall find out on Tuesday how well it works for us.

INSTAGRAM

I have been looking into setting up an Instagram account for our travels. I think it will make it much easier to post updates than blogging. IG allows you to post up to 10 photos, and that’s what most people like to look at anyway. If I do set up an account, I will just post links on this blog, to each post that I do on Instagram. I’m not sure how much internet/cell service we will be getting in Canada and Alaska.

Back in 2014 when we were working at Crazy Horse, I recall talking with one of the college students working there for the summer. When I mentioned that I had a blog, she said “that’s old school, why don’t you do Instagram?!” Well, 8 years later, I guess I’m getting up to date with technology! I will let you know when I get that set up. I noticed they have Instagram for beginners videos on You Tube, so I will be watching a few of them!

Let’s get this long awaited journey started!

Quote of the Day: “Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before” – Dalai Lama

Oops She Did It Again!!!

This is an unauthorized blog post from Dan.  Makena and Jonell are the normal posters, but this good news needed to be shared.

Jonell made two hole-in-ones at the Westwind Golf Course in Yuma, Arizona.  Her first ace was on hole #6 at the beginning of February and her second occurred last week on the same hole. Wow!! That’s two hole-in-ones within one month of each other. Way to go Jonell!!! 😀🏌️‍♀️⛳️

Here are some photos showcasing this tremendous accomplishment!! 

Awesome job Jonell!! Good luck as you shoot for your third ace!!!


Quote of the day:  All my life I have been trying to get a hole-in-one. The closest I’ve come is a bogey.  Lou Holtz

Happy tails from Yuma

Hello everyone, it’s me, Makena, your favorite dog blogger!

Keeping my peeps informed!

I’ve had a pretty busy social schedule these past few months, so let’s get caught up! First up was meeting my new cousin, Winnifred. She was a little too wild for me, so I let my other cousin Reagan keep her busy while I watched from a safe distance.

Winnie and Reagan sharing a bone

I stayed safely behind the pet gates that are in place at Aunt Madge’s and Uncle Pudge’s house to keep their cats safe from the dogs. Given my petite figure, I can fit through the gates, but the dogs can’t. Winnie couldn’t figure this out!

When it was time for my 5:00 pm canned food time, my mom kept my plate in the dining room. The other dogs were not happy watching me eat. Yes, I can be a “big tease!”

My parents went to visit their friends Dave and Angie (with a surprise visit by Jeanine!), but they decided to leave me home. Usually I tag along as Angie always has good dog treats, but after the weekend with my cousins, they decided more “dog time” might overwhelm me. No one will ever break into their house, as they have their own triple alarm system! Angie did give my mom a special treat bag to take home for me, much to the dismay of her own dogs. Thanks Angie for the chicken treats. They were stinky and delicious!

Three dog night

After we left Wisconsin, we visited with Aunt LuAnn in Texas. There was no escaping her animal kingdom. Three dogs, two cats and a guinea pig! I enjoyed walking in the woods, at the appropriate social distance, with my cousins, and a friends dog.

I even stopped and posed for a photo, but the big dogs crowded me out (actually, I’m just hiding in the back on my new purple leash).

I was trying to hide from my cousins at Aunt LuAnn’s house, and ran into the closet to escape. Only to run into one of the cats, doing the same thing. The cat was not too happy to see me.

Hello kitty!

The other cat seemed to like me, and wanted to sniff my face, not my butt like the dogs do.

And speaking of butt sniffing, my aunt had a pet carrier that she thought I would like. All her dogs have outgrown it. My mom and I tried it out, and I liked it at first.

But it didn’t prevent the dogs from sniffing…sigh.

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I really wasn’t sure what to do with the guinea pig. I just ducked down and hoped it didn’t see me.

We are back in Yuma, Arizona this winter. I’m enjoying the warm weather and sunshine. Occasionally strange people knock on our door and drop off packages. I always make sure to inspect each box, in case there is a treat or two inside!

After a two year absence, I am happy to see my Canadian friend, Buddy, back here in Yuma! My parents said we will stop and visit with him on the way to Alaska in May. Yay!

Buddy and I

Well that gets you caught up with me! I hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy! Take care everyone!

Quote of the day: “Everyone thinks they have the best dog. And none of them are wrong.” – W. R. Purche

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

 

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