April 2022’s view is taken looking east from our site at Boyce Thompson Arboretum, as the sunrises on April 19th, I had to hustle out in my pajamas to capture this shot, good thing most of our neighbours sleep later than I do, so I didn’t have to share this beauty with anyone else, at least that I knew of.
April 2022 and there was no travel for The Buchanan’s during this April, kind of like April of 2021 during our Covid lockdown only much better, there was no snow in our April this year. We also got to experience the Cactus blooming in the desert, and it is still so hard for me to imagine that such a rugged plant in appearance could produce such a terrifically delicate complex bloom that in a lot of cases only lasts a day, unless it is a cloudy overcast day then it might last two whole days.
Our experience at the Boyce Thompson Southwest Arboretum this winter, has been a fulfilling experience, we have made lifelong friendships that we will enjoy and cherish for the rest of our life. The staff at BTA was welcoming and helpful, and although they are experiencing growing pains after the involvement of the university and state, we would take on this task again given the opportunity.
Here are a few of the photos that we will remember of this April 2022.
The temperatures are climbing in Arizona and the first triple digit days in the Phoenix valley are expected soon, and while we are at 2400 feet of elevation enjoying beautiful warm sunny days, we know the heat will be here soon. So now our thoughts and efforts are turning to our trek north, as we enter unfamiliar territories and situations, and I would be amiss not to say there is always a little fear of the unknown, along with the excitement of new discoveries.
April 2021’s windshield view was taken just one day before the scheduled opening of the park at LHR (Lake Huron Resort) on April 30th, it is the view from our windshield from our site (#217) at the resort. The grass has been mowed a couple of times already, and although this photo doesn’t show it well the trees have their buds breaking open, yes spring appears to be a couple of weeks ahead of normal for this area.
April 2021: The second April dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, and to say it’s become life changing is such an understatement. And just to add to the effect Mother Nature sent us a little April fools joke on the first with a blast of winter temperatures along with blizzard like conditions
This was the windshield view from our site at 10:00 am on April 1st 2021, I couldn’t get a shot through the windshield, as it had too much snow on it. We are in the process of moving out of the rental house in Goderich ON and back in to the coach, both of us are looking very forward to being back home.
This April has found us finishing a five month stay in a rental home for the winter and moving back into the coach, and all the extra work we had put in last November raking leaves has made this springs work much easier. There were a number of projects that we have completed with some new power circuits in the park, more fill being added to the lookout areas at the park, a number of spring openings, a few broken water lines some from winter frost and some from the tree removal work last fall.
We are still in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it seems weird that we are allowed to open on May 1st while the province finds itself under a stay at home order. Which has lots of people complaining about a lot of different things that the park has no control over. But we are glade the park is opening as we want to head south as soon as possible this year, so the sooner the park closes the sooner we can get the winterization done and can head for the warm sunny south.
As we close out the month of April, there are an endless list of questions with regard to the pandemic, and the vaccine roll out, our expectation is that this will be a year of many changes, as Ontario finds itself in the worst pandemic position so far, but with the promise of improvements as more people get vaccinated.
April 2020: This had to be one of the strangest periods in our lives, we were making a bee line for the Canadian border. Now we have been traveling for quite a while now and have never had any issues or were made to fell unwelcome. But with the shortages of basic items because of hoarding, we made a concise decision to stay out of Walmart parking lots overnight, we decided that to look for spots that were away from retail facilities, so truck stops, rest areas, and our new favourite Cracker Barrel restaurants, because with takeaway food only the lots were empty so made parking easy, as well as a great place for breakfast.
Driving across the country was almost eerie, we would drive down interstate 40 and see less than a dozen passenger vehicles an hour, traffic would be a little heavier when passing the more metropolitan areas, but we were no longer worried about rush hour traffic in those areas. We knew that we where heading back to Canada and a fourteen day quarantine, so we stopped in Indiana at a Meyers to take on enough supplies to last the 14 days. We fueled the coach just before the border to fill the coach so we would have no reason to stop in Canada as well as it was cheaper to fill in the States.
On April the eighth we woke in a Cracker Barrel parking lot in Port Huron Michigan only a few miles from the Bluewater bridge our crossing point back into Canada. After a takeaway breakfast of pecan pancakes for Miss Laurie and Biscuits and gravy for myself we prepared to cross the border, now this border crossing is normally busy at all times of the day. But as we paid our toll and headed up the structure we were the only vehicle in the passenger vehicle lane, there was a line of transports in the commercial lane but no one except us. As we drove down the Canadian side of the bridge to the border control booths of the six booths only one was open and again we were the only vehicle.
A normal stop at a Canadian border crossing booth for a Canadian citizen would involve a check of our passport then a declaration of purchases made while out of the country for taxing purposes. This time it was totally different, this time it was all about the coronavirus and our upcoming quarantine. The border guard took, our email address, our phone number, and ensured we knew what restrictions we were being placed under. In fact we were never asked about our purchases at all, no this was all pandemic driven.
Now remember we are full time RVers, we have no house to go to, and as we had fourteen days of quarantine to go through our choices of places to go were limited. We needed some place safe, we needed some place where we could just kind of hide away, so we needed a favour from someone, a driveway, or a spot just out of the way somewhere. We felt we had enough supplies to make it the 14 days, enough solar and generator power, enough fuel, enough food, even enough toilet paper. What we needed was more fresh water and to dump our tanks, we were already nine days since our last tank dump. So we were headed to Lake Huron Resort to dump our tanks and refill our fresh water tank, whether we would be able to stay at the park was still being debated. Parks were being told not to accept returning snow birds, but because we were actually working at the park it was decided that we would stay at the park to complete our quarantine.
So we tucked into an empty site, to start out total isolation, during our quarantine we received a number of text messages from the Canadian government to tell us of our isolation status, but it is this one that we were most happy to receive. During our fourteen days we also had phone calls where they insisted on speaking to both of us.
Now when we crossed the border on the 8th of April the border guard didn’t confirm where we were going to isolate, during the next few weeks they started demanding that returning snow birds had to submit an isolation plan explaining where they would isolate and who was going to bring any needed supplies during the 14 days. And if they weren’t satisfied with the plan, it had to be adjusted until it was satisfactory or you had to go to a quarantine site at you own expense.
There are a number of snow birds like ourselves who spend winters in the southern states, and have seasonal sites Canada for the summer. They were not being allowed to enter their summer sites because of the coronavirus restrictions, causing a whole new set of issues, we personally know of full timers having to stay in empty casino parking lots because of these rules. To say it was a difficult time would an understatement, but these were circumstances that none of us had ever experienced before.
Once we had completed our quarantine period, we went right to work to start preparing the park for opening, the park was scheduled to open May 1st, and while the province lock down was still in effect, there was talk of trying to open up seasonal parks, while transient camper were have their reservations cancelled.
April 2019: On the 7th of April we finally were leaving our seasonal site at Oak Grove RV Resort in LaBelle FL, now this was our first winter in Florida and if we learnt anything about Florida is that the traffic is just crazy. We had been warned to avoid travel on the first of any month and to avoid weekends as well but even on a Monday there was a huge exudes of rigs heading north. Now I have an unwritten rule with regard to travel “ON THE ROAD BY 10 AM and OFF THE ROAD BY 2 PM and TAKE AN HOUR FOR LUNCH and MAYBE A NAP”. So our trip north was slow and steady, we stuck on Interstate 75 north until Tennessee where we had decided to take Interstate 40 east so we could venture off to the “Old Smokey Moonshine Distillery” in Gatlinburg TN as we had been led astray by some friends while we were in Florida for the winter.
And to our dismay we found that this little side trip was an adventure that will have to be repeated. This place was an outing on its own, there is a $5 charge for tastings but it is at two different locations one has the moonshine the other has the whiskeys so we started at the whiskey spot so the five dollars gets you eleven half ounce shots of eleven different flavours then we moved off to the moonshine shop and repeated the process. So by now were starting to feel the samples, there were five dollar vouchers given out for discounts on product and we have tasted twenty two different samples. Now add to this that we are Canadians who are on their way back to the border where we are allowed to bring back a liter each of liquor from the United States … and here we are loading a dozen bottles of liquor into the coach … just saying
As we pludged north to the border over the next few days and we had just decided that the duty on the extra bottles would be what ever it was going to be, that the extra cost would be worth it. So can you imagine my delight when the border guard that we had never asked any thing more that how many dollars worth of product we had to declare, they almost always ask about liquor and tobacco but this one never asked and I had learnt years ago that you only answer the questions that we are asked, so I certainly never volunteered the information about the extra dozen bottles.
Back in Canada on the 16th of April and we were to report to work at Lake Huron Resort on the 22nd of April for our first ever work camping job. So we had just a few days to try and visit as many people as possible before we headed off to Lake Huron, so we spent a few days at Fifty Point Conservation Area in Stoney Creek, which while the location worked well for us it always seems a bit on the pricey side of things. But after some visiting we headed out on the 21st to find Lake Huron Resort and actually were parked in the same site as we are now, this was the first time we had met Bonnie and Richard, and until right then we thought we were going to be working with another couple, so to say we were a little nervous would be an understatement. And the time until opening day seemed to just be a big blur, we seemed to get rain everyday so we either worked in the rain or worked on our days off to get the park ready for the opening. Most likely if you had of asked us at that point if we would ever do it again we would have said no way, but as timed moved along and the park dried out it became much more enjoyable and here we are for year number three.
April 2018: Lets start off by saying that we tried to do way too many things in this month. On the first of the month we pulled out of the Coyote Howls West Campground and made our way west to Tucson AZ where we joined Interstate 10 heading for New Mexico. Our first night stay was at an I-10 rest area at Texas Canyon in New Mexico, it is a picturesque spot with a lot of rock formations, day two had us eastbound on I-10 for a long day covering in excess of 450 miles and settling into a rest area near Wickett TX. Now we were running east bound on I-20 through Texas, still in the desert I remember it being very windy and over the next two days we covered another 450 miles and found a Walmart near Owlet TX to shut down for the night. Know some of you my know that I’m a golf fan so every spring at the time for the Masters golf tournament in August GA, I always try to be settled in with some good TV reception so that I can enjoy four days of television coverage the Masters. Well Miss Laurie had found a casino in Louisiana with an RV park that fit the bill exactly so the next five nights we watching the Masters and making the occasional donation at the casino.
We then hopped from Walmart parking lots in Mississippi and Alabama to a Home Depot lot near Cordel GA. So by this point it has most likely become somewhat obvious that we are actually heading south east not north east as one might expect. You see Miss Laurie was in need of a beach fix so we were headed for a Marriott Vacation Resort in Hilton Head SC to use up some of our timeshare time. But on our way there we found a city RV park in Vidalia GA with full hook-ups for only $20 per night so we stayed a couple of night and explored the area.
Now the whole trip takes a bit of a twist, as we needed a spot to store our coach while we enjoyed a condo on the beach, so we found a storage facility only about a mile from the resort, the added problem was that we had two cats, and as of yet, the Marriott group does not allow pets, so we had to smuggle the cats into the condo. Which added many new twists to our lives for a few days but it all worked out and other than being an hour late at check-out time we managed to get by undetected.
Now its just a straight shot north back to Ontario, the first night was at a Walmart near Walterboro SC and out next night was at a Harvest Host near Boonville SC. now for those of you that are not aware of the Harvest Host network a quick explanation would be any buisness that has a lot that you can book for a night or two, they are boondocking spots, and could be at a winery, a brewery, a farm market, a museum, a gator farm, or any number of other possibilities. We stayed at a winery “Rag Apple Winery“, now we park for free there but this stop cost close to $90 for wine by the time we were done. But most of these places you can spend much less and you always get a great usually quiet uninterrupted nights rest. I believe it cost around $50 per year to be a member but offers over 5000 possible spots in both Canada as well as the States.
Our next stop was at Mayberry Campground near Mount Airy NC, and was litterly at the Town of Mayberry for those of you old enough to remember the Andy Griffith Show. But we needed to dump our tanks and refill the fresh water for the push back to Canada. We crossed the border on April 25th and spent a few nights lot docking until settling into a site at Fifty Point Conservation Area in Stoney Creek, I have done a review on this park which worked for us because of its location close to family and friends.
April 2017: I am including April 2017 in this because this was the month that our negotiations started with an RV dealership in Mesa Arizona to purchase our coach “Thunder“. It was the cumulation of months of scouring the internet looking for our new home. This search was extensive and had us touring a lot of coaches in our area to truly understand what we actually wanted (notice I said wanted not needed).
Oh we had made up a check list. In fact a very long check list, and we also knew we would never be able to check off all the boxes on any list, but it was the list by which every coach that we encountered was measured. We had spent many hours viewing virtual tours via YouTube, and we had learnt the names of the best manufactures, so by this time we were now looking for specific makes and models. Some of the makes were Tiffin, Newmar, Country Coach, American Coach, and obviously Beaver. Now the last three names all fell during the American caused financial boondoggle in 2008. Tiffin and Newmar were the only two survivors of this group, Oh there were other good manufactures but too many were purchased by mass manufacturers like Winnebago and Monaco to try to add quality lines to their production, the problem was quality RV production costs more money and takes more time to produce, so in most cases the better models ceased production or just became another mass produced product.
Beaver Motor Coach was purchased by Safari Motor coach which combined with Monaco Motor Coach, but actual production of Beaver coaches ended at that time. But any one that did a sales video on any Beaver manufactured coach just had nothing but good things to say about the quality and standard of appointments. They didn’t just prepare the coach for a washer/dryer with hook-ups they came with washer/dryers installed, each coach had hand made hardwood cabinetry, and were equipped with the most up to date equipment available at the time.
So when Miss Laurie first found our coach it was on E-Bay but failed to meet the reserve bid, so we contacted the dealer and had them send another fifty photos or so, which was followed by a number of phone calls and finally we put down a deposit on the coach, the actual transaction happened in May of 2017 so stay tuned for next month.