Week one @ CMR

Sunday May 15th – Saturday May 21st, 2022

Saturday afternoon and I cut the last blog off as I was preparing to head out for my first shift, an afternoon shift at this brand new to us campground. My first shift was to be from 4 pm till 11 pm and was listed on the schedule as LUOC (Lock-Up & On Call). I was on shift with Bruce, and it was referred to as a training shift, Bruce is the senior person on the maintenance staff having more than ten years experience at this resort.

At my last campground I didn’t have to carry a key for anything, here on our arrival I was handed a key ring with a dozen keys on it. Of course at the previous spot there were more camp sites but far fewer staff. Here the maintenance/security staff alone has a five member crew. With a total staff of twenty five people, and with the May 24 weekend next weekend there is a lot of training going on, in all areas of the park.

The resort is part of a membership group of campgrounds, Holiday Trails membership, there are 175 sites, 50 are tenting sites, the remaining 125 are a variety of combinations, from 50 amp full hook-up to 15 amp partial hook-up. We are in a 30 amp full hook-up site, it is a pull-in site so would only work for a motorhome, our service side backs onto the mini-golf course, and the site is deep enough to park at least three cars behind our 40′ coach. The lot is surrounded by huge spruce trees, the site is graveled so the worst is the spruce needles tracking into the coach and on windy days the pine cones falling onto the coach roof.

I have stripped the toad, removed kayaks, the roof rack, the tow bar from the front, and unpacked most of the pick-up box, we will be a couple of weeks before we are able to get away to do some exploring or getting our kayaks wet. As we are both in learning mode and pretty much whooped after our shifts either physically or mentality, Miss Laurie is trying to learn a list of different rates and rules, depending on membership levels as to what site and length of stay, some pay extra for power usage, some pay a surcharge per pet, lots of different levels and they accept coast to coast and RPI members as well as a host park. The longest stay from now till the fall is 28 days, and most are only two weeks or less.

There is a heated outdoor inground pool 30′ X 60′, a 18 hole mini-putt course, a couple coin operated laundries, two comfort stations with washrooms and showers, a club house for events, a camp store, firewood and kindling for sale, numerous playgrounds throughout the park, and a variety of site sizes to fit lots of different rigs, and we seem to get a lot of different set-ups.

The campground is located on the side of hill, the office is on the top on the side of the Trans-Canada Hwy, and all the sites are a couple of hundred feet down the hill to a reasonable large area, and the Chemainus River is another hundred feet below the level of the camping sites, I ventured down on my day off, and while it was a steep climb back up the toughest part was walking down the path, steep and slippery because of the rain.

There was a lot of water moving down the river, it would make for a great kayak ride downriver, but way to fast to paddle upstream, but definitely a majestic setting. It is Wednesday and I have the day off, but this part of the island is under a wind warning, from what I have been told heavy winds can cause lots of issues with trees falling, but it is more of a winter issue, not so much this time of year.

Well I’m thinking it could be a bit of an issue, as I was working on the blog while streaming some music and the music just quit playing, I thought it strange, but we have mediocre internet here in the park, we are working off of the free hotspot at the camp store. So as I have always said if it’s free you can’t expect much, and because I always have the inverter operating in the coach, power outages don’t usually have any effect on anything electrical in the coach. But because the park power went off, the internet went down, now it is early afternoon on Wednesday, so I never thought too much about it, Then Miss Laurie got back from her work shift in the office, and said it was like a warzone up by the office.

So I ventured out for a walk-about, and there was limbs and branches down everywhere, the camping area is somewhat sheltered on the side of this hill, but the office is fully exposed to much of the wind. And the lawn at the entrance was covered with branches and debris, so the maintenance crew was trying to cleanup while the wind was still blowing, kind of an exercise in futility. I did run across Bruce the head of our maintenance crew, and I told him I could be available to help with the cleanup on Thursday, it was my day off but it was also obvious that they were going to need all hands on deck to get the park ready for the first holiday weekend of the summer.

As the afternoon turned to evening to was becoming very apparent that there would be no power hence television tonight. It is still getting cool over night so we have been using our space heater to take the chill off.

So tonight was a movie in bed kind of night, we have the mattress warmer to keep us cozy, but I expected the power to be back but morning, that didn’t happen and because we are tucked in a forest, I started the generator for an hour just to start to recharge the battery bank, until the solar could take over.

I have added a new app for my phone, “BCHydroOutages” it shows areas that are experiencing power outages, apparently this is a common thing here on the island with trees knocking down power lines on a regular bases, I also added “Alertable” an app that notifies us about any emergency events such as traffic or forest fires, as there were a number of fires last year on on the island.

The park was a huge mess, and it was becoming very obvious that this was going to be a monumental task to get everything back together for the upcoming long weekend, with a number of people coming into the park today, and seventy checking in on Friday alone, every site had to be cleaned in preparation for this coming weekend. We had planned on heading to town for a supply run, Miss Laurie was to spend a couple of hours with Kris on the gardens, but later we would get some supplies.

Well that never happened, as neither one of us got back to the coach till after four o’clock and the decision was made that the next best day would be Saturday, Laurie is off and I’m working the afternoon shift.

Friday was another day of clean up, with those 70 check ins today, and they want to open the pool tomorrow if we can get it cleaned up today, 30′ X 60′ open to the weather pool, surrounded by huge spruce trees. Can you say pine needles? What a mess, the heaters have been on for over a week, and the temperature has climbed up into the seventies, our aim is eighty, but if the chemicals are good it will open tomorrow, even though the daytime temperatures are still only in the mid sixties, quite cold for this area at this time of year.

There are still piles of branches and tree limbs everywhere, we pick them up as we can get to them, we have an old (1988) truck with a dump box, that we use to gather the debris, but we also have all of our regular tasks to complete as we try to make it a great holiday weekend for our guests.

Saturday morning and we are headed to Duncan, the largest town without driving to Victoria or Ninemo, we had driven through part of Duncan on our trip up from Victoria a little more than a week ago. It had a good variety of stores, Walmart, Canadian Tire, Best Buy, Home Depot, a number of grocery stores and it also has a big “Farmers Market” on Saturday mornings.

Our location is on the Trans Canada Highway, and it is a divided road so when we leave the park we must head south to the first turn-a-round, which is around 8 kilometers (5 miles) down the road, which is halfway to Duncan so that was our choice for shopping today. Canadian Tire for a few items, Walmart for some supplies, Pet Smart for cat food, then to London Drugs to get Miss Laurie’s camera repaired.

The last month or so in Arizona Laurie’s camera would take some dark photos, usually at the start of each group of pictures, some research turned up that the Pentax cameras have an inherent fault of the aperture solenoid failing causing the dark photos, so we decided to wait till back in Canada to get it repaired, so it is being shipped to Pentax to be repaired and now we wait.

Our last stop in Duncan was the Farmers Market, and it is a large event, with lots of vendors, I guess we were a little disappointed with the lack of produce, only one vendor had any rhubarb and she was sold out, but a number of wineries and a couple of distilleries. Miss Laurie found some fudge and I picked up a couple of mini Saskatoon berry pies, something we never had back in Ontario but I remember them from many years ago when traveling through the western provinces. And they were just as good as I remembered.

On our way back to the campground, we again can not enter the park with out going to the next intersection to turn around which has us just a few kilometers from Chemainus, the actual closest town if it wasn’t for the divided highway. But we thought it deserved a quick look around, so into the town of Chemainus we ventured, it appears to be about the size of Goderich, it has a beach area, of course it is tidal and the water was near low tide when we were there, a number of breweries, just generally a very nice little town.

This is a photo of the view at the beach and boat ramp in Chemainus, it was a beautiful sunny day, there are a few clouds in the distance and if you strain your eyes real hard you can see the snow capped mountains just under the clouds. There are still snow covered peaks here on the island as well, the iPhone just can not capture the beauty on its own, but it is some beautiful!

Back to the park for a late lunch before I start my afternoon shift at four o’clock till eleven, a big portion of the evening is the firewood run, they have an old Mazda B2000 long box with a 5 speed transmission that we drive through the park selling firewood at $10 a bag and kindling at $9 a bundle, two laps around the park has the truck pretty much empty, and take over an hour by the time you throw in a couple of noisy dog calls, or kids speeding around the park on electric bikes.

The rest of the evening was spent doing the lock-up round, a few security loops, and working on a few little projects in the workshop. I was working with Steve this evening, and luckily my shift was over at eleven, Steve is on-call for the night, so if there is a noise complaint at one o’clock in the morning he is the guy that has to respond.

As you may have noticed this blog did not get published on Saturday night, and this will likely be the case going forward, it just takes time to edit and put the blogs together, and I’m tired of rushing through what I find an enjoyable process

Happy Victoria day Weekend to my Canadian family

Blog 418

Day 1691

Week twenty three @ BTA

Sunday April 24th 2022

Sunday morning at 4:30 and I’m wide awake! Just around six hours of sleep, and I guess my body thinks it is enough, and Mr. Sam is ok with early treats and I have to admit these early morning do result in more time with a kitty curled up on my lap. Unlike last week we are not off today, this is Easter Sunday and the expectation is that it will be very busy, well bring it on we are ready to rock this! My efforts at the Wordle for today seemed to be in vain, but I pulled it out on the fifth guess, a bowl of cereal, a vitamin, and of course the cup of blessed coffee that makes the whole world make sense, at least for the time being.

Well today was a bust, we were expecting this big rush of people, it never materialize, the number of visitors was not any more than a regular weekday total. There were lots of groups gathering in the picnic area, causing some parking issues, but almost every picnic table had a cooler on it, just marking territory. So we closed out the second till at two o’clock, and Miss Laurie headed back to the coach for a nap with Mr. Sam in the air conditioned coach. I held out till three o’clock and then closed out the main till and shut down the admissions booth and I headed back to the coach as well.

There have been a few questions about the gecko situation, so I now have done my due diligence and have discovered that all geckos are lizards, but that not all lizards are geckos. So I want to stand corrected Mr. Sam has been collecting tails from the Sonoran Whip-tailed lizard, not the fore mentioned geckos. I have also learned that there are near 140 species of lizards in Arizona, like who knew … not I fore sure.

A Lizard that has avoided Mr. Sam up till now

We have been invited to the Andersons coach for Easter Dinner, of course there were a couple on beverages before dinner. Dinner consisted of slow roasted pork tenderloin on the barbecue, with a Cesar salad, and potatoes cooked in the slow cooker with onions. We also enjoyed a bottle of red wine from Washington state, Miss Laurie followed up with a cheesecake brownie with whipped cream, and it is safe to say that no one left hungry. As we watched the setting sun paint the surrounding mountains, it is during these moments that we realize how lucky we are to have made two more great lifelong friendship’s

Upon returning to the coach we were both content and our bellies full, as we settled into watch two hours of American Idol before turning in to bed at around ten o’clock

Monday morning and it’s a five o’clock start for me, Mr. Sam greeted me in the galley for his morning treats. He then checked the windshield for any rabbits, there has been a reral boom in the rabbit population and now there are lots of little bunnies running around everywhere, there must not have been any yet because I have been granted some valuable kitty lap time until Miss Laurie wakes. It was a few minutes after seven when we left the coach for our walk through the arboretum, it’s got the makings of being a real warm day here in Arizona.

After an hour and a half walk through the Arboretum we return to the coach, where we enjoyed bacon and tomato sandwiches, this may become a luxury beyond what we can afford at the price of bacon right now, not a lot of pictures from this mornings walk as you can see from the gallery above. There are a few of the prickly pear that are starting to bloom, but the blossoms aren’t open in the morning, we will try to get back out this afternoon for those photos. Today is turning into one of the warmer days in Arizona with the temperature presently sitting at about 93°F (32°C), and as I look at the weather app and see the temperature back in Goderich Ontario at 39°F (4°C) with rain and snow in the forecast, I’m thinking this is a far better choice.

It wasn’t a real productive day with my main task, staying cool and keeping re-freshed, this is where we are supposed to throw in that it’s a dry heat, with a humidity of only 7%, and all that really means is that your beverage stays dryer, with no condensation running down the side of the glass. But it was still damn warm on the patio, I’m trying to use the dictation feature on my iPad, to get the information down for the blog, but obviously my iPad thinks I have some sort of speech impediment. The photos below are from this afternoon’s walk in the arboretum it is prickly pear season.

It was near seven o’clock when we made it back to the coach, Laurie made fajitas for dinner as we watched a couple hours of American Idol, we then caught up on a few YouTube videos before turning in, just before ten o’clock.

Tuesday and I rose at five thirty, and I was greeted by Mr. Sam looking for his morning treats, I settled into my chair, and Mr. Sam climbed onto my lap but as I looked out the window I had to roust Mr. Sam off of my lap so I could go to the patio in my housecoat to capture this photo.

Sunrise April 19th 2022 @ BTA

An overcast Arizona morning allowed this beauty, and I needed it for a windshield view photo as I’m working at updating my April’s Windshield View blog. It was only there for a few moments and I knew I had to act fast, and I would like to apologize to any of the other host volunteers that may have noticed me in my housecoat snapping pictures. A few moments later Mr. Sam was back in place on my lap and I was working on the day’s Wordle, and the sun was peaking through the cloud cover. It is going to be another very warm day, and the cloud cover will be a blessing. It took a little persuasion to talk Miss Laurie into a walk in the arboretum, but while not the best for pictures, it proved to be a great morning to discover a few new birds as we sat in the grotto and watched the visitors.

After a breakfast of pancakes, we decided to head to the Fry’s in Globe for this weeks supplies, the distance to Globe or Gold Canyon are pretty much equal, although the drive to Globe is up through devil’s canyon and gets us well up over 4000 feet of elevation. The Fry’s store is clean and new, the variety was all one could hope for or need. They also have a fuel station with prices better than heading the Gold Canyon direction, I also picked up $30 worth of diesel fuel for Thunder at $5.05 a gallon, the best price I seen in months. We made it back to the coach just before noon, Miss Laurie made us some sandwiches on croissants that she picked up at Fry’s and I may have had a nap in my chair working on this blog.

A happy hour with Tom & Kathleen, rounded out the afternoon as we talked about things to get done before pulling out in a few days, it seems to be rolling up very fast. And we are now covering extra shifts for the next week or so. After happy hour I barbecued pork chops for dinner and some extras for a later meal, so tonight’s dinner was pork chops with salads, before watching the end of the news then the most recent episode of This is Us, before catching up on some YouTube videos then heading to bed near ten o’clock.

Wednesday and it’s just before six o’clock, Mr. Sam is looking for treats, and I’m the only one stirring so I guess I’m elected for the morning treat distribution, which is ok as I’m also the one that gets the lap time. While normally not a work day, we are covering off shifts for the vacationing host volunteers, but just before my start time, Mary stopped by to tell me that the internet was down and I would not be able to work in the admissions booth today, so I went up a little later to water plants at the greenhouse and told everyone if the internet came up to call and I would come back to help, the call never came and I worked on the blog and caught up on some route planning for next month.

I know our starting point and so far I only have one reservation is for a ferry on May 12th, I’m planning on staying at a Casino in Washington state the night before the ferry. Our ending point is at a campground on Vancouver Island for the 13th of May. We leave the arboretum on the 1st of May and I have booked a Harvest Host spot for that Sunday evening just north and west of Wickenburg on US-93, so now I just have to fill in the nine days in between there and the ferry dock, it is around 1700 miles so if we cover 200 miles a day on average, nine days should be plenty of time to get there and do a little exploring on the way. There is a lot goes into the planning, boondocking spots, fuel stations, elevation changes (from the weather point of view), highway conditions, construction delays, weather enroute as leave the desert, but more on this as I get those nine days figured out.

It was hot again today, there is a cool front rolling through soon but as the winds pick up we are watching a couple of wildfires burning out of control in Northern Arizona, twenty years of drought, so everything is dry, and we are still months from monsoon season. Thousands of acres have burnt already and many homes and buildings have been lost, truly devastating news for many people, as the winds come up the firefighting planes can’t fly so there will be days with no progress on its control. Dinner tonight was enchiladas as we catch up on the local news and the fires, before a few more YouTube videos, then some mindless TV till bedtime.

Thursday morning and I roll out of bed around six o’clock, Mr. Sam is not pleased and was in my face expressing his displeasure, it is light out so I open the blind so he can see outside, but this was not what he wanted! Treats were the only thing that was going to calm this beast, this morning, so as I drag my sorry butt to the galley Mr. Sam is making sure that I don’t get sidetracked. Miss Laurie is helping in the visitor center today, there is a staff meeting and the internet has been down for more than twenty four hours. A pepper and cheese omelet was breakfast this morning, a cup of fresh perked cup of coffee, before Miss Laurie headed to the visitor center.

I started Thunder this morning, I hadn’t started the big engine since November last year, it jumped to life immediately and I let it run for close to an hour. I checked all the tire pressures as I do that with the air compressor on Thunder, one inner dual tire was down around 10 psi and of course the left rear tire on the toad was down about 7psi which is a monthly event, slow leaks are the worst to find, so I haven’t taken it to a repair shop yet, my thinking is it will get worse and be easier to find. I’m also sanitizing the water system again, the storage tank and lines flushed with chlorinated water, before filling it with fresh potable water for our trek north next month.

I have also upgraded our GPS system, there were a couple of reasons for upgrading now, first our Garmin was five years old and in electronic years that is a long long time, with lots of improvements. But the main reason was that when asked to map out our route to Vancouver Island the old Garmin had one route and one route only, while Google Maps as well as Apple Maps came up with at least two routes and sometimes three. If we we just heading back to Ontario, a route we know well, we may not have upgraded yet but this is a new route with lots of mountains so it seemed the right time to upgrade. Now add a great sale, along with so many upgrades, it just made a very compelling case to upgrade now. The new Garmin also has Wi-Fi so it has already upgraded its software as well as the maps and now it is suggesting two different routes north. I will do a blog on the new Garmin after I have used it for a while, as it’s not till some time on the road that we start to realize just how good it is.

That second route our old GPS failed to find

Next I headed into Superior to pick up some brass fittings for a new style water filter, I had picked up the filter case from a trailer that was leaving the park and the owner left it behind, and I traded a Camco in-line filter for a new cartridge filter that fits in the housing. This system also makes it easier to chlorinate the fresh water tank so today was the day to make this all come together and work. It was just around noon and as I came out of the hardware store I was hit with the smell of fried chicken, from the lunch shop next door so I had to get some chicken tenders for lunch, and put some in the coach fridge for Miss Laurie after her shift at 2pm this is always a treat because we don’t eat much fried food.

I accomplished quite a lot today, I picked up another $30 worth of diesel fuel for the coach, and knocked a few things off of the “to-do” list, I even got another motor for the roof air conditioner, that looks like it will fit, there way be some issues with the wiring but nothing I won’t be able to work my way through. It’s just too damn hot to do anything this afternoon, and I may have been trying to quench my thirst with a couple of vodka and tonics, so this is a job for another day.

Miss Laurie got back to the coach around three o’clock, Miss Kathleen had picked up some jalapeño poppers on her shopping trip today, so we planned a happy hour for around four o’clock. Lincoln came over so we could celebrate his promotion to the Wallace Garden director, so as the afternoon went on Miss Laurie made some pizza in the ninja air fryer, and shortly after sunset we called it a night. With dinner out of the way we watched some shows on the food network, I always enjoy Restaurant Makeover when they come in and tell them how bad their food is and a long list of other issues , then presto two days later it’s all better and everyone lives happily ever after, or something like that.

Friday morning and at six o’clock Miss Laurie has got up to get Mr. Sam his treats, our work day starts at eight o’clock this morning, so a little local news, a bowl of cereal, a cup of fresh perked coffee, with a vitamin chaser and we leave the coach at 7:45 for the visitor center and our shift in the admissions booth. Today is “Earth Day” and it is a cooler day, with gusty winds out of the west, there is a small wedding today, a school trip, but all our “Earth Day” event are being held tomorrow and are children driven, with lots of different events.

It was not a busy day, and that always makes the day drag, we try to stay high energy to promote the arboretum as much as possible, and that’s is easier to do when you are busier. Miss Laurie helped in the store stocking shelves, then spent some time sweeping in the entrance, before re-leaving me so I could water the sale plants at the visitor centre. Miss Laurie cashed out the secondary till at 2pm and I worked till shortly after 3pm, before returning to the coach.

We had our exit interview with Miss Emily this afternoon at four o’clock, we had been Emily’s first volunteer orientation way back in November when we first arrove at the arboretum, the interview had all the regular questions, what did we like, not like, a routine list of questions, that would be expected at an exit interview. We made it back to the coach by 5:30 to watch the news, Miss Laurie prepared pork chops and salad for dinner and we settled in to watch a movie on Prime video, the movie was terrible based on American racism in an east coast university, maybe realistic but not well done, and we finished the evening with a couple Diners, Drive In & Dives before turning in near ten o’clock.

Saturday and I rolled out of bed at 5:45, Mr. Sam met me at the foot of our bed and led me to his dish where I rewarded him with his morning treats. And I then received a few minutes of lap time till Miss Laurie stirred and Mr. Sam headed off to the big bed, today’s Wordle was a fourth word guess, before moving on to this blog. As I look at the blog this week I have a lot of spots to fill in, so I’m thinking it could be a late night for me tonight. A cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal before heading out the door for our eight o’clock start in the admissions booth, hopefully it will be busier today that yesterday.

Well it was a much busier day with close to seven hundred visitors by the time I closed out the first cash drawer at shortly after 2pm and headed back to the coach, the days just zip by when you are interacting with visitors one after another, and I took the opportunity to return early because I have a lot of work on the blog to close off in time today. Mr. Sam was wanting to get out into his tent so I mixed a big cocktail (vodka & tonic with lots of ice and a touch of lime) and settled into the antigravity chair to try and make sense of the week.

It’s close to four o’clock now, Miss Laurie should be here soon, Mister Sam is getting impatient in his tent as he nears his dinner time so I’m getting up to let him in the coach again right now. It is the second time since I got home, he forgets to do all his kitty things before exiting so needs to go in for snacks or water or whatever else, so he ends up needing lots of trips, I tried to snap a photo of him sitting on my lap just now but there was not cooperation to try and accomplish that little feat, and he is now in the coach with Laurie for fear he will miss his dinner.

Mr. Sam on a more cooperative day!

So I’m way behind on this blog, so it would be a perfect afternoon for a happy hour with another large vodka and tonic at the Anderson’s coach, when we returned to the coach at a few minuets to seven, and I proceeded to barbeque burgers for dinner, and then on to a few YouTube videos, while I try to make sense of the blog, and as my publishing time rolls closer and Miss Laurie has headed to bed already I’m trying to put a bow on this blog.

May all your travels be downhill!

Blog 413

Day 1657