British Columbia Bound – part II

Sunday May 8th through Saturday May 14th 2022

It’s Sunday morning in Zillah Washington and we are parked miles from the Interstate highway, and yet at five o’clock this morning and I’m awoken by what sounds like a fleet of helicopters, if you remember last week I talked about trying to avoid noisy trucks and boondocker’s that are constantly running generators. Well the temperature this morning is 36°F (2°C) and we are at a Winery in farm land surrounded by tender fruit crops, so many of the local farmers run huge fans, they look like small wind turbines, but are designed to move the air around the crops to prevent frost, and the blades are shaped to move a lot of air, hence they mimic the helicopter sound, only the sound is from dozens of these fans running all at once.

Sunday morning May 8th @ Silver Lake Winery

Sunday May 8th, and the trek north continues, oh most of the heavy work is done, now it is just a case of enjoying the beauty of Washington State as we wait for our ferry crossing. So as you have already gathered it was cold overnight, and it is 48°F (9°C) in the coach this morning, but a beautiful sunrise this morning from our perch on the hill. And the sun should warm the coach quickly, our batteries are at 80% this morning and we could use the electric space heater, but the sun is rising and it will warm the coach faster than any heater. So what is todays plan? Well simply we are going to move from this Winery in Zillah Washington around ninety miles up the road to a brewery at Cle Elum Washington, now I know that may sound like a tough job, but we are up to the task.

7:36 and I have just enjoyed a Cinnabon and a fresh perked cup of coffee, with a little Irish blessing, while looking through the windshield of our coach, over miles of vineyards and tender fruit orchards and although we have enough internet to watch our Sunday morning shows I find myself staring out the window as the sun climbs and brings to life the raw beauty of the farm life and let’s it show through.

The fans have now been shut down, and Mister Sam is moving from his napping spot in the windshield area to a more comfortable spot in the coach, he has a dozen different spots that all are worthy of a little nap time, but because of all the birds in the cedar hedge in front of our coach they are eating up a lot of his regular nap time. Now I have mentioned how that Mister Sam does not really like travel days, but we are a week in to this trek and he has become to accept the inevitable and is now trying to work the system for some treats after each leg of the journey, oh how fast they learn to work the system.

8:32 and our Sunday morning shows are over and I’m heading out to do the regular checks as we prepare to roll down the road again. Added a quart of oil to the coach motor, then I dumped a 5 gallon jerrycan of diesel that I had carried with us from Arizona, as I’m not planning on stopping for fuel again today, I have a TA fuel stop picked out for tomorrow with our fuel discount card. I also switched out the drawbar for the toad, as I have battled to get one that is the correct height, so I want to try this other one that I had with me, then I moved the toad into position in preparation for the hookup process.

9:35 I fired Thunder, to build air pressure, then pull into the middle of the parking lot to attach the toad, we are expecting the host of the Winery to open the gate near ten o’clock, and while we just have a short day planned for today, we would like to arrive shortly after they open.

9:55 we are in motion, weaving our way back the six miles to I-82 to head further in the north west direction in search of I-90 for the final push west toward the coast. Traffic was light as we passed through the Yakima valley and climbed the ridges to make our way to tonight’s stop in Cle Elum at the Dru Bru Brewery, another Harvest Host stop.

11:22 and I see smoke in the rear view mirror, and I’m talking a lot of smoke, we are on I-90 west bound just five miles from todays final destination, but with the luck of the Irish there is a rest stop less that two miles up the road, so I limped Thunder into one of the truck parking spaces. But by this time I have no power steering so I’m pretty sure I have blown a hydraulic hose, so with a coach like this there are numerous hydraulic hoses, so now to determine which one, and it is a Sunday, so finding someone to make a new hose could be a challenge.

11:35 we have determined which hydraulic hose has failed, it is the big hose that operates the cooling fan, and I can actually see the fitting for the hose, mind you I can barely reach the fitting, and I’m sure I don’t have the correct size scanner to remove it, so a pair of water pump pliers and a pipe wrench are the weapons of choice. Miss Laurie is wanting to call roadside assistance, and I’m like no just hold my beer. All roadside assistance will do is find a repair shop that will make the repair and have us towed there, all I can hear is a couple of thousand dollar bill and at least a couple of days of down time.

The view from under our Queen size bed

11:52 and the old hose is off, and we are now trying to find an open shop that can make up a hydraulic hose, our first attempt was a failure but they directed us to the right people to get a hose made up, the NAPA store just five miles up the road, but they are only there till three o’clock.

12:41 I have taken the oil covered toad in to town, picked up five gallons of hydraulic fluid, a bag of oil dri, and a brand new custom built hydraulic hose, and I have just paid the $378.09 bill and I’m now heading back to the coach.

13:06 I have driven the extra ten miles east on I-90 to the closest interchange to turn around, and have just pulled back in behind thunder. I’m unloading jugs of fluid, the bag of oil dri, and my shinny new hose. With the new hose installed, hydraulic oil tank is filled, it is time to restart Thunder and confirm my repair.

13:36 Thunder comes to life, and all the connections look good, time to throw some oil dri on the spill, reattach the toad, and let some of the spilt oil burn off of the exhaust. And now change my clothes and clean up enough to get to the next stop, and have a warm shower.

13:58 and we are merging back onto the interstate just three miles from our exit, there is a little smoke as the oil residual burns off, so probably there will be some more smoke again tomorrow as we warm up again.

14:10 and we are settled into our spot at the brewery, and I have fired up the boiler because I need a shower big time now, this is not a spot clean up kind of a job.

14:45 and now I’m all cleaned up, after a nice warm shower, clean clothes, a bowl of soup and the whole world is starting to make sense again, I’m a wee bit lighter financially but realistically we only lost two and a half hours, and are now right back on schedule. But this is why I scheduled extra time and days for our treks, it also helps that I’m quiet handy with tools and repairs, but that really helps when you operate a twenty four year old coach.

15:25 and now I’m catching up on some of the finer points for the blog and preparing to enjoy a couple of cold beers at our Host brewery at around five o’clock.

The hazy IPA won today’s challenge!

17:08 we are walking to the Dru Bru Brewery tasting room for a well deserved beer, well maybe a flight of beers, just for tasting purposes, well maybe six, five ounce samples to be exact, there were a couple that I didn’t really enjoy but I did pick up a six pack of the hazy IPA for further testing.

18:48 and we have made it back to the coach, and Miss Laurie is making us dinner tonight, pork chops, baked potato, and corn, I’m feeling the 30 oz. of beer, but we are settling into watch some American Idol, we actually have a signal from T-Mobile tonight, the bad news is that we are expecting snow overnight here in Cle Elum Washington. Welcome to Washington in “May-vember“, as the locals are calling it. There apparently was a large backup today on I-90 through the last pass that we need to transcend tomorrow. We are only 200 miles to the ferry dock, we are at 1800 feet tonight and have to climb to 2900 feet before our decent to almost sea level, we will see what tomorrow brings.

Day 8 summary: Well what can I say about today, we only travelled 87 miles today, but it was a fun filled day. With the failure of the hydraulic hose, and dumping oil all over the toad, and also coating the back of the coach, me destroying a set of clothes making the repair, it has been a day! The solar panels grabbed 271 amp/hours of power, I tried to run the generator but because our fuel tank is down to the 1/2 tank level, the generator stalled out, however the boiler did fire up and warmed water for my clean-up shower, and after our tasting we decided that Miss Laurie would make dinner. Some streaming television American Idol, and a couple of YouTube videos before heading to bed with the matrass warmer on.

Monday May 9th, and we woke to a cold coach this morning, the weather here even has the locals whining, with abnormally cold winds and lots of snow at this elevation in May. As usual I have been checking todays route and was reviewing tonight Harvest Host location, and I think we are going to skip this one, and move directly to the casino in Sequim Washington, which will leave us just 20 miles from the ferry dock in Port Angeles. I will get fuel about fifty miles further up I-90, and the total drive today should only be a little more than three hours. The weather through the pass looks fine, there is a stretch of construction work just before the pass but everything else look good. There could be some rain in todays drive but by the look of the weather forecast we need to become one with the rain.

9:12 and we are ready to get back on the interstate, there is a weather front that we are going to run into as we head for the last stretch of out trek north. Traffic was light but as we climbed the to the pass we hit some rain that turned to snow flakes at the elevation, but turned to rain as we started our decent. There was a little light smoke from the coach as expected, but only lasted for a few miles.

10:14 all of a sudden I have a check engine lamp on the dash, I had been so busy with operating the wipers, Jacque brake, and trying to find a smooth piece of road I had not noticed the temperature sneak up, but the engine control system caught it and shut itself down. So we pull onto the shoulder and took look for a leak, I didn’t find any thing, possible we lost some antifreeze when we lost the cooling fan yesterday, I just don’t know for sure. We topped up the reservoir and restarted the diesel and proceeded down the road to the truck stop where I had already planned to refuel.

11:46 and we have pulled up to the fuel pump, the operating temperature seem fine right now, so we will fuel up and continue down the road. Well as the price of fuel continues to rise todays cost was over $400 dollars to fill the coach, I also picked up some antifreeze for the coach, before jumping back on I-90 and heading west. Now it was in the next hour that I realized a major error on my behalf, I had made the last minute change to todays route this morning, and when I removed the last Harvest Host from my planed route I did not pull out my iPad and recheck the route. My bad! I do remember thinking the new route shaved a number of miles off of the route but never did the work needed to see why.

My bad planning brought us close to the Space Needle

12:55 and now I find us at a ferry port in Edmonds, the GPS had routed us to ferry crossing that would take us to Kingston Washington, not what I had expected, so here is a 40′ diesel coach towing a truck trying to find a route back out of this predicament, now all that mileage I thought I was saving just got added back onto our route, no one to blame but myself, I had checked and double checked every other part of this trek but I messed up today.

15:12 and we have finally made it to our revised destination for tonight, this is a casino only twenty some miles from the ferry dock in Port Angeles. The reviews of this location were almost too good to be true, but they were. we have booked into this casino for three night, at no charge, it comes with water and electrical hook-ups also at no charge. The parking lot is designed with double wide spots, each about 40 feet long, while not the most level spot, with the coach jacks we have gotten close to level. We are getting a reasonable T-Mobile signal so maybe some good internet for three days.

The rest of the day was spent just kicked back as at this point we kind of feel we that we are nearing the end of an amazing winter journey. The snow through the Snoqualmie pass was an un-needed touch but maybe a reminder that even more than a week into May, the weather patterns are changing from our history of time. We caught up on on the news last night, I finally got the streaming TV program to allow local stations, and then we caught up on most of the YouTube videos, before turning in for a warm evening

Day 9 Summary: 236 miles today, I can’t imagine what it would have been without my little excursion through Seattle, and again no one to blame but myself. The solar panels dragged in 298 amp/hours and we are now less than 100 feet above seal level, but we experienced some of the toughest grades we have faced all the trip here in the last twenty miles of todays trek. But a free 50 amp power supply is like a big bonus.

Tuesday May 10th, I’m up early but we have got no place to go today, well at least not in the coach, after the last couple of days I’m ready for a day or two with no mechanical excitement, we may go shopping today to prepare for our border crossing on Thursday. We have to complete our “Arriv-Can” so we can re-enter Canada, I just received a reminder from the Ferry company about our reservation, and to make sure we fill out all the necessary documentation to cross the border.

So I like to think that I have a reasonably good understanding of how most things work. Now I also understand that there are some things that I may never understand, remember I grew up in an era before the invention of computers, let alone smartphones. So because I had my Microsoft workbook out working on the blog and after yesterdays screw up I thought I will open “Google Maps” and review Thursdays trek from Seven Cedars Casino in Blyn to the ferry dock in Port Angeles WA and from the dock in Victoria to our summer home at Country Maples RV Resort in Chemainus B.C.. So it just happened that I also had Microsoft Edge open so I opened Google Maps and it opened the map to Stoney Creek Ontario, I have not used Stoney Creek for any searches or destinations for years, so I decided to use search to find out “where am I” and it brought up that I was at Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior Arizona. Next I opened Chrome and opened google maps, it opened to my location here at Seven Cedars Casino at Blyn Washington, so I have to wonder why? The same computer, two different programs Microsoft Edge & Chrome and of course Microsoft Edge uses Bing as a search engine and Chrome uses Google, and right now I’m also using a VPN in Seattle.

So now I have switched to my iPad, so using apples Safari using Google search engine I typed in “where am I” and it brought up Seven Cedars Casino in Blyn, so I switched to Bing as the search engine and typed in “where am I” and it brought up Seattle, my present VPN. So I tried opening Chrome and with Google it came up Seven Cedars in Blyn and using the search engine Bing it brought up Eugene Oregon, so I tried the search engine Yahoo and I still don’t know where I am, then I found a search engine called Duckduckgo and after I opened a suggested site I found myself complete with GPS coordinates. So my question to all of you that are so much more knowledgeable of these thing than myself WHY?

So after confirming that I’m exactly where I thought I was, I decided to take the toad to into Sequim to wash some of the hydraulic fluid off of it, there were two car washes in town and a few dollars later it looked a little better, not good yet but at least better. After my return from town I also resealed the new refrigerator vent cover, we seem to be getting some rain in at the back of the fridge. That was the extent of my activities today, Miss Laurie went for a walk and assisted the grounds crew with a little weeding.

Miss Laurie’s handiwork

I did get out for a walk this afternoon, the property around the Casino is quite well manicured (other than the occasional weed), and it has a loop road to relieve the heavy truck traffic from the main entrance of the casino. It is the actual exit from the RV parking area, so I decided to walk the loop road, there was a wide paved walkway with some benches to sit and listen to the birds, it walks you to the gas bar, the fire hall, the marijuana dispensary, and to the US-101. I snapped a few photos as i wandered around, and added a few new birds to my list, and had a great walk, some of today pictures are below.

We went to the Casino for dinner tonight, nothing fancy, I had fish and chips, and Laurie had loaded fries, there hasn’t been a lot of fried food on our menu, as we actually don’t eat out a lot, and normally not a lot of fried items. Miss Laurie also made a small donation in the casino itself, the least we could do for free 50 amp power connection, as we walked back to the coach there was a faint rainbow, over the forested hills surrounding our temporary home for a few days.

Day 10 summary: obviously not a lot to put in today’s summary, 0 miles covered, 55 amp/hours of solar capture, even while plugged in.

Wednesday May 11th, and it will be another down day for the Buchanan’s today, Miss Laurie has a Walmart trip planned, but other than that we are about ready to cross back into Canada tomorrow.

So after breakfast we made a trip to the Walmart, to pick up a number of items that we know will be more expensive back in Canada, and we also don’t know when our first shopping day will be, as we don’t have our work schedule yet. After our return I wanted to take another walk across the highway and I found a walking/biking trail that runs from Blyn to Port Angeles along the water front, a wide paved trail that the little piece that I walked was beautiful, here are a few of the photos

After my walk we settled in to watch some television, as we enjoyed another quiet day before all the big happening of tomorrow.

Day 11 Summary: another day with 0 miles, these two days are what I had allowed for life to happen, a breakdown, or a day of illness, these thing can happen, and I can’t always fix everything in a just couple of hours. Again we harvested 54 amp/hours of solar, and before I’m asked, yes we still bring in solar, even when we are plugged in, a lot of things in the coach run directly from our 12 volt battery bank, like most of the lighting, most of our recharging of phones and tablets are done directly from our batteries, and if the solar can carry that load it saves the inverter from having to recharge the battery bank.

Thursday May 12th, well today is a big day, back on the road, a ferry ride, return to Canada, Immigration and Customs, a whole new province, a lot of exciting things happening today. A cheese omelet with a couple cups of coffee and we are ready for a big day.

10:30 we have just fired up Thunder, as it warms up we attach the toad to the coach and prepare for the 21 mile (30 kilometer) journey to the ferry dock at Port Angeles on the north shore of Washington State.

10:45 and we are making our way around the loop toward US-101, a left turn and we are on our way, there are a few small villages along the way, but traffic is light and a lot of the highway is four lanes.

11.15 we pull into the ferry dock, where we are measured and instructed on where to park, this is a small ferry and we are their biggest vehicle on this crossing, so the loading will be planned around our coach. We pay for our passage and sit back and wait till we load.

13:30 and the crew starts to load the first vehicles, and after a couple of dozen cars we were loaded onto the left and right side of the ferry. We are loading through the back of the ferry but will disembark from the front right side of the ship, so they have to allow enough turning radius to allow us to exit in one turn. We are not allowed to stay in the coach so head to an upper deck for the passage to Victoria.

14:00 and we have set sail from Port Angeles, on route to Victoria on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, this ferry crossing let us keep our toad attached, which is nice when going through Customs & Immigration. The crossing takes around 90 minuets, and we found seats in the front lounge, there is also a snack area, along with a duty free, and a couple of other lounge areas.

15:25 we are back in the coach, as the ferry is on its final approach to the dock, again there around a couple of dozen vehicles unloaded before we are directed off of the ferry, just to line up at the Customs & Immigration, there were only three lanes open so it was not fast. Our paper work was all intact so a painless process, we were allowed $1600 dollars of purchases, and we were well under the limit, our alcohol volume is always a problem, because we always have a number of open bottles and usually a few beers. Just like most people if you have any kind of a bar, you have a number of different liquor bottles open at once.

16:05 and we are on the road in downtown Victoria, Victoria is the capital of the province and is a busy area and we are here right in the middle of rush hour. We are on the TransCanada highway, but that doesn’t mean much as large sections are still just two lane highway, so the trek north onto the island was a slow one, but that just allowed more time to take in the beauty.

17:44 and we have made our final destination “Country Maples RV Resort” at Chemainus on the Island, we will be spending our summer here as “Work Camper” we will get more into this in future blogs. Today is about the end of the trek north, and getting settled in for the evening, we are now connected to power, water, and sewer. Our lot is huge in length, and I will get the site set up tomorrow, I have blocked the left side of the coach, and think we are level and stable as we settle in for tonight.

Dinner tonight was some warmed up burgers, we will get the barbeque set up tomorrow, and I’m sure will be put to use, we have the television connected to the parks internet but will have to work further through our access tomorrow, as we are working on of our cell data right now. Some television before turning in for the night, after a hectic, busy day,

Day 12 Summary: 74 road miles (119 kilometers) today, and around 25 nautical miles (40 kilometers), with 72 amp/hours of solar capture, a US$352 ferry trip, clearing Canadian Immigration & Customs with no issues, settling into a new site, in a new park, on an island in a new Province. That pretty much wraps up today in a few words.

Summary of the trek north: 12 days, 2068 kilometer (1285 miles) on the road, 40 kilometers (25 miles) aboard a ferry, 814 liters (215 gallons) of diesel fuel, $1460 Canadian in fuel costs, $567 Canadian in tolls/ferry, $587 Canadian in repairs, and 7.6 MPG or 30.9 liters/100km or 9.1 MPG Imperial, according to the onboard computer. We passed through 3 new previously untraveled states Idaho, Oregon, & Washington, as well as adding one province British Columbia. It may not be cheap rolling down the road but it can be an amazing journey if you take the time to enjoy it!

Friday May 13th, well our summer life starts today, and at five o’clock this morning it was a chilly 3C (37F), the whole west side of the continent is in a cool spell, while the east side is having a heatwave, in between storms and tornados. So I spent most of the morning before breakfast catching up on the blog, as we settle into the location, learning the location of the park amenities, as we see some sunshine peaking through, between rain showers, Miss Laurie made toasted westerns for breakfast along with the traditional blessed cup of coffee.

After breakfast I headed out to work on getting the site put together, the rugs are down, chairs out, the barbeque is out, sunshade on the front windows for privacy, tire covers on, bicycles unloaded, bike rack mounted on back of coach, kayaks unloaded, birdfeeder up, humming bird feeder hung, I even pulled out the solar case to see if I can grab a little extra sunshine, when it happens.

We try to live with all the benefits of 50 amp coach but working on a 30 amp plug, so we support our power demands with out battery bank, making use of solar during the day and a little recharge from the inverter over night. Remember a 50 amp coach actually is designed for 100 amps, 50 amps on each leg so with a 30 amp connection we only have 15 amps on each leg. So in simple terms we are operating at 70 amps less than designed, not just 20 amps like it looks at first glance.

We walked up to the office to pick up our uniforms for our first shifts tomorrow, this campground really has to be experienced to understand the elevation changes in the park itself, all you LHR people may understand, the main camp ground is more than the hill from the office. When I started down the hill with Thunder on Thursday afternoon, It was way more hill than I was expecting, and we are located on a river which is that much elevation down the hill again to the water. You just can’t see it when looking at a satellite view, then add the huge red cedar trees, all I know is it will be difficult to show this park with photos.

After lunch I had a well deserved nap, as many of my work days are late afternoon into the evening, so naps may become an important part of my day to day life. The camp store opened this afternoon, which included the opening of the mini-golf which is right outside our coach windows, so as the golf started the nap ended. And it was just an evening of television with home made pizza. We seem to be connected with reasonably good internet, through the park on the Tellus network, and our phones are on Rogers 5G so it should be an inexpensive summer internet wise.

Saturday May 14th, and I’m awake early again, it is quiet and dark here at the park, so the only reason for the early rise is habit. Here at Country Maple RV Resort, this is a transient park, it is also a membership park, but with the continuous rain that the west coast has been experiencing, I would say it is only at a 50% occupied right now.

We will get more of an idea of the operations today as Miss Laurie’s first shift starts at 10:30 in the campground store, and my first shift starts this afternoon. Breakfast was cereal this morning, under steady rain, it is to stop raining and some sunshine hopefully later. I still have to finish the site set up, and most likely a nap this afternoon for my night on security, we just need a couple of days without rain to explore more of the park.

So it is now Saturday afternoon, and I’m going to close out this blog before my shift, I had a chance to meet a few of the staff members today as I wandered around the park, man it is wet here, everything is soaked and when I look at the forecast and there are six days with rain out of the next nine. There are a lot of tent camping sites here but this not tent camping weather.

I haven’t ventured down to the the river yet, but I have been told that the trek is not for the faint of heart, I can hear the river and have seen glimpses from the back of some of the tent sites.

My first shift is this afternoon and I’m being instructed by the most senior and head of the maintenance department. Apparently he had his schedule altered to work with me on my first night, I bet he was pretty thrilled with that, oh well it sucks to be him tonight.

We received uniforms yesterday, a couple golf shirts, a sweatshirt, a hat and a two-way radio, as you can see there are a couple of different logo, so there must be a story there … so stay tuned as I head out for my afternoon shift.

For the love of everything good STOP RAINING!

Blog 417

Day 1684

British Columbia Bound!

Sunday May 1st thru Saturday May 7th, 2022

Sunday May 1st, at 5:45, and today is the day that we pull out of the Boyce Thompson, Southwestern Arboretum which has been our home since November 15th, and today the Arboretum has also just switched to summer hours, so the gates are open at six o’clock this morning and will close at three o’clock this afternoon.

I cut last weeks blog off a little abruptly, but my butt was dragging big time, this morning was the final tank dump, before heading north, today is planed to be a short day, with the travel objective to avoid heavy traffic by getting through Phoenix early Sunday morning. So we are planning on an eight o’clock start from the Arboretum, and stopping shortly after noon at a Harvest Host on Highway 89, just north of Wickenburg AZ at a local restaurant.

We’re going to use the first day, to just kind of knock the rust off, if you would. Get the feel of the coach again with the toad in tow, and with diesel fuel being well over five dollars a gallon, I also want to be a little more conservative with my right foot, to try and improve the fuel mileage if possible.

8:06 and we have just pulled through the gates of the arboretum, the new Garmin GPS has recommended a left turn (a right turn would have been to a dead end) so we are heading left. What my new Garmin did not pick up on yet was that Interstate 10 was closed before our planned exit from I-10 to Loop 303. But there is something closed every weekend so I already knew about the closure and had planned an alternative route, before coming onto the actual road closure.

10:32 and we just pulled into a small rest stop on US-60, only about twenty some miles from our end of day destination. Mister Sam doesn’t enjoy our travel days and he used to crawl up under my reclining chair and stay there for the duration of travel each day. Our fear was if there was an emergency. Would we have time to roust him out from under the chair for an escape, so we made the decision to start placing him in a soft sided pet carrier, whenever we are in motion. He is not happy about it and on occasion does let us know, if we are too long at a stop lamp, or get tied up in traffic. So this stop is basically to eat up some time before reaching our destination (as we are well ahead of schedule) and also give Mister Sam a needed break.

13:30 and we are on the move again, we had some chips and queso for lunch, around noon, and are now back on US-60, headed north, in the village of Wickenburg we caught US-93, and ten miles later we merged onto AZ-89 and as we entered the village of Congress, our Harvest Host was on the left. The instructions were to call for parking directions, it went to voice mail so I just walked in to the restaurant, instructions were very simple either park here or there, and both would require disconnecting the toad, no big deal this is why we tow four down.

14:20 and we are backed into our spot for the night, the toad is parked in front of the coach, because we needed to back into our assigned area, we are at an elevation of 3002 feet (920 meters) and the 90°F (32°C) temperature in the valley has been reduced to 72°F (22°C) mainly because of the elevation, there is a wonderful westerly breeze today, good for keeping us cool, not so good for the fires burning east of us. Right now there are two major fires burning in Arizona, one north of Flagstaff the other north of Prescott, and as of today neither are contained, just the new normal because of the twenty year drought here in the American Southwest.

Our boondocking spot for the evening, it was only $50 and it came with a large pizza, a couple of beers and a Dr. Pepper. It was a Harvest Host, the parking area was fairly level on dirt. We are backed up onto train tracks and there is a train every four hours approximately (Mister Sam is not impressed with trains), the restaurant was a pizza or burger kind of place, the beer was cold, and the service was good.

Our neighbour ran a portable generator all night, but it was cool enough that air conditioners were not necessary, so we don’t really know why, definitely not real “boondockers”.

Our Harvest Host Monday Evening

Day 1 summary: with our first day in the books 138 miles (222 kilometers) and according to the onboard computer we are averaging 8.8 MPG now that is US gallons, so it converts to 10.6 miles per imperial gallon or 26.7 liters/100 km. The solar system brought in 148 amp/hours of power, and as we turned in at 9:30 for the night the battery bank was at 84%, no need to shut off any of our creature comforts.

Sunrise Monday morning

Monday May 2nd, the above snapshot was our windshield view of dawn breaking over the mountains to our east, this was taken at 5:45, as just Mister Sam and I are up yet, to avoid the power lines that always seem to be there in every great shot soI wandered across the road. I also seen a rabbit across the street and a coyote running down the railway tracks, but no photos, I was just too damn slow, even with my phone in my hand. Todays objective is to make it to Henderson Nevada, to a Casino slash truck stop, there just are not a lot of boondocking spots in the Las Vegas area with out getting way off our planned route and there don’t seem to be a lot of Harvest Hosts in the area either. We will make a fuel purchase today, as we cover around 200 miles (320 kilometers), today we will spent most of the day on US-93 with short stints on I-40 and I-11, in fact US-93 will be our main highway for most of the week. The battery bank was still at 64% just before sunrise this morning

8:50 and we bring Thunder to life, after building enough air pressure, I ease my way to the shoulder of AZ-89, where we hook up the toad. We usually don’t get rolling until 10:00 but the temperatures are still high, and as much as we are at 3000 feet elevation now, our route will have us dipping into bowls and climbing for even more elevation. So one mile north on US-89, to the AZ-71 junction then left on AZ-71 for eight miles before re-connecting with US-93 for a ninety mile push north to I-40 then west toward Kingman AZ. We were only on Interstate 40 westbound for twenty some miles before exiting back onto US-93 north bound headed for Las Vegas.

11:30 we pulled in for fuel, we were near the half of a tank mark, and we like to operate on the top half. Thunder took 53.356 gallons and the pump read 306.21 dollars, now I had picked this station because of the price, so quick math indicates $5.739 per gallon. But through the magic of the Open Roads app and our TSD RV fuel card, a couple of amazing things happen, first I was able to ring up over 300 dollars on the card, with any regular card that would have been 4 separate transactions, and the second bit of magic is that the card is going to get me a sixty-three cent per gallon discount, now there is a 1% handling charge and $0.65 transaction fee, per transaction which should result in a savings of $31.48 and end up having $278.53 being withdrawn from my (US) bank account.

12:05 after the fuel stop and some lunch we were pulling back on US-93 north bound toward Las Vegas, I had picked a casino in Henderson for tonight’s stop, but we would have been there before 1pm so we decided to push through Las Vegas so as US-93 turns into I-11 at the Nevada state, and as it bypasses Boulder NV, it then turns into I-515 and runs through the east side of Vegas before crossing I-15 that runs south to Los Angeles or north to Salt Lake City, we needed the north route for approximately 20 miles before catching US-93 northbound. Now all did not go perfectly smooth as we hit some terrible road on US-93 just before joining I-40 and some even worse road on I-40 through Kingman, so rough it bounced the shower door off of its track. And we also hit construction on I-515, in Vegas for a few miles of stop and go before catching I-15 and some more construction on northbound I-15 out of Vegas. We jumped on US-95 again and headed north from I-15 to a rest stop approximately sixty miles up the road which we have picked for tonight’s stay, the section of US-93 has been some of the best road that we have encountered, reasonably flat, quite straight, a few grades but very gentle, biggest issue has been that there are no passing areas, but with straight flat road with over five miles of visibility, only bigger units had an issue passing our 66 foot toad and coach.

15:30 as we shut Thunder down, having covered a lot more territory than originally planned. Our battery bank is at 100% charged, our solar panels brought in 329 amp/hours of power, the main issue with this spot looks to be poor to nonexistent cell service, therefore maybe no television tonight.

Well the fuel mileage took a beating today, as we stopped today the onboard computer was showing 7.9 mpg, and I know you may be wondering why such a change, and the answer is quite simple we left BTA at 2400 feet passed through the Phoenix valley at 1100 feet and make one climb to 3000 feet for the first night. But today we were over 4000 feet a couple of times, went through the Las Vegas bowl which is 1200 feet and have now climbed gently to 3400 feet to this evenings stay, and more climbing tomorrow as we will pass the mile high level.

The above snapshot was our second night boondocking spot at a rest area on US-93 near the Pahranagat Wildlife Refuge, we are a little more than an hour north of Las Vegas but have already gained over half a day on my schedule, but we have reached more moderate temperature as Phoenix has multiple triple digit days in this weeks forecast.

Day 2 Summary: 311 miles (500 kilometers) today, much more than our normal travel per day, the solar panels brought in 329 amp/hours and we finished the day at 100% charged, fuel mileage from the onboard computer was down to 7.9 mpg, not unexpected with the swings in elevation and the stop and go traffic. Most of todays route we had travelled before, but that changes now.

Tuesday May 3rd and the above snapshot was the windshield view this morning, our overnight temperature was 50°F (10°C) our elevation is 3400 feet (1000 meters), these numbers will become important as a comparison as we are going to be climbing in elevation today, and the temperatures will be dropping big time.

8:55 and we are on the road again, north bound on US-95 for twenty miles, then a left turn onto NV-318 for a little more than hundred miles, then a right turn onto US-6 for another twenty some miles. This mornings drive was good, the sun was behind us we are starting to climb, it is a gentle climb for the most part, but it wasn’t long and we had surpassed that mile high point 5280 feet, but we just keep climbing as we worked our way north. And just south west of Ely we climbed over Murry Summit and exceeded 7200 feet of elevation, then the decent into Ely, down to 6400 feet where we hooked up with US-93 northbound once more.

11:40 and we just departed from the Ely NV area back on US-93 headed north with a destination for Wells NV, which is our final destination for today and our next fuel stop. It’s always a little unnerving when you are hitting the road and the sign on the road says last services for 138 miles, not a big deal when our range on a tank of fuel is over 700 miles, but it definitely makes you glance at the fuel gauge just the same. The next section of highway seen us cruising along at 65 mph (105 km/h) at the elevation of 6000 feet, now I knew it would be cooler but I was not suspecting seeing snow flurries as we trudged along north bound.

13:45 and we just crossed Interstate 80 and pulled into our truck stop / Casino home for the night, first the refueling part, the real painful part, 63.716 gallons of diesel, today was not a fuel friendly day with the huge climb in elevation plus the thinner air decreases the fuel efficiency as well. We will pick a spot to settle in for the evening, it will not be a quiet or scenic spot like last nights spot but it will be ok, as the sky is black with snow clouds and we are expecting temperatures at or below the freezing mark over night. My only concern is comfort, there is no fear of freezing anything on the coach except us.

2:00 we are settled into our little piece of parking lot, Miss Laurie made us some soup, always a favourite of mine for lunch while on the road, especially today, I about froze while refueling in my shorts, I had to put a hoodie on, it was that damn cold. To remain comfortable I plugged in the space heater to keep the chill out of the coach and it ran most of the afternoon, around five o’clock I fired up the generator to recharge the battery bank, after running the heater off of battery power for the afternoon.

Running our generator does a number of things, first the obvious part is that it recharges the coach battery bank, it also lets the refrigerator switch to electric power instead of propane, which lets the ice maker operate. Plus it heats our hot water tank, warm water to wash with is always a bonus. The T-Mobile service for the Nomad internet is terrible again, and we are right along the I-80 corridor so another no with no live TV night, so we will watch a movie in bed with the mattress heater on, a great way to take the chill off of a cold night, so I wanted the coach batteries fully charged.

Day 3 summary: another bigger than normal driving day 293 miles (471 kilometers) but we are now a full day ahead of schedule. Now the fuel mileage has taken another drop and is 7.5 mpg, but we are trough the worst of the climbs, and while still at elevation I will hope ro see it climb a bit as we roll along. The solar panels brought in 293 amp/hours and even with the cloudy afternoon the coach batteries started at 100%, before we used a bunch of power to fight the chill from the cold weather today. I wasn’t expecting the snow flurries, but it was nothing more than enough snow just to be seen, oh there are lots of snow covered peaks around us, but it is just May.

Wednesday May 4th and I woke early around four o’clock, I turned on the space heater again, the battery bank was still at 70% after our evening of entertainment and the mattress heater being on, so I settled into catch up on the blog while it was still fresh on my mind, internet is a bit better this morning but I don’t expect that to last. At five thirty the batteries we 45% so I fired up the generator again and because of all the trucks running I didn’t notice that the generator had came back to an idle, I guess too much load for the power breaker on the generator, when I checked a little later the batteries were down to 37%. So this morning I climbed into blue jeans and a thermal shirt to go and reset the breaker, no issue, I just needed to adjust the load limiter on the inverter. While I was out side I snapped the picture below of Thunder tucked into a row of 18 wheelers, the sky has cleared and it should be a drive on dry roads and sunshine today.

Wednesday morning – sunshine!

9:00 and guess what? Once again we are headed northbound on US-93, but this will be the last day for this highway, later today we are going to start heading northwest on Interstate 84. We have crossed into Idaho, a new state for the Buchanan’s, and all new territory to see and explore, as we make our way to the ferry for our crossing next week.

A new State for the Buchanan’s

9:45 and we had to pull into a watercraft inspection station just inside of the Idaho state line, this is now common in many states, some want to inspect kayaks while other states don’t, the whole concept is to stop invasive species from spreading from area to area. Idaho wanted to inspect the kayaks, there was a questionnaire on where we had last used them, and apparently the Salt River is an infected area, so they inspected and washed our kayaks with hot water, I didn’t remove them off of the toad as a little water on the toad was not going to be an issue. After washing the kayaks they placed tags on each kayak to avoid having to have them inspected again if stopped, an interesting process but took some time to go through. The photo below was of the Snake river in Twin Falls Idaho, just a few miles before the intersection of US-93 and I-84, we crossed it a couple more times on I-84 but this was the best photo.

On US-93 crossing the Snake River

12:10 and we just stopped for a break and some lunch at a rest stop on westbound I-84 near Bliss Idaho, we are making great time again today and will spend the night in Boise ID, and we will be spending some time in Meridian tomorrow, an advantage to being ahead of schedule.

12:40 and we are back on the interstate westbound, we are just a little over an hour from our destination for the day, traffic today was heavier on US-93 than previous days, but I-84 seems light enough.

14:10 and we have just shut Thunder down, tucked into one of the RV spots behind a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Boise Idaho, this was a spot that was not on my original schedule, but because we just roll with the flow we are able to change and adapt as we move across the country.

Cracker Barrel in Boise Idaho

We are more than half way to our destination on Vancouver Island, and still being eight days from the ferry, we can take a day to do something that is near and dear to us. From this restaurant we are only five miles from Scentsy’s home office in Meridian Idaho, Miss Laurie has been selling Scentsy for twelve years now, and we have talked about visiting the home office for more than a decade, well tomorrow we are getting a tour of the facilities. Certainly wasn’t on our schedule, but we are looking so forward to the tour, more on that tomorrow.

Internet is better today, and we have been catching up on local and world news, Miss Laurie warmed some burgers for dinner tonight, and we were able to find the most recent episode of This is Us that we missed on Tuesday evening so all is good in Miss Laurie’s day. We didn’t have dinner out tonight, we are saving our Cracker Barrel meal for tomorrows breakfast, Sausage and gravy with a side of sausage, for me and I suspect Pecan pancakes will be Miss Laurie’s choice. The temperature here in Boise this afternoon is 70°F (21°C) and should stay in the fifties overnight. We slept with our bedroom window open, what a change in just one day.

Day 4 Summary: a bit of a retrieve today with only 244 miles (393 kilometers), the solar panels have brought in 320 amp/hours of power today, and at shut down we were at 100% charged. Fuel mileage is still showing 7.5 mpg, it should be climbing, but now there is enough data that it takes longer to move the number back up.

Thursday May 5th, and it was a pleasant night, mild temperatures overnight, and with yesterday’s sunshine and lower than usual power consumption the batteries were still near 80% this morning. It is looking to be a bit of an overcast day here in Idaho, but still calling for a high temperature today of 70°F (21°C).

We have reached a spot on our trek that, even with some bad weather on the horizon we can slow down and do a little more exploring, so todays adventure should be a nice break from the traveling part of the trek. It started with breakfast at the Cracker Barrel, we then returned to the coach to prepare for a crazy mixed up day with many stops.

8:30 we fired up Thunder and reattached the toad, then off on a short journey to Scentsy home office in Meridian Idaho, where we parked Thunder in a large parking lot and enjoyed a tour of the complex. The grounds were immaculate, and it was nice to see all the spring tulips, as well as most of the trees breaking into leaf, out tour was about 90 minutes and was quite educational as much of the manufacturing and all the distribution happen right here on site.

Scentsy home office

10:30 and we are back on I-84 westbound for 15 miles before stopping to top off the fuel tank, at a Flying-J truck stop, a light day at only 22 gallons of fuel, and Miss Laurie was able to stock up on some Cinnabon’s as well, our first Cinnabon’s since November.

11:00 and again we are heading westbound on I-84, we are heading for a Walmart in Ontario, Oregon just over the state line. Another new State for the Buchanan’s, but just before our exit we had another watercraft inspection, this one for the state of Oregon, we showed the previous inspection report from Idaho, but they still had to check for themselves and fill out another form, before sending us down the road.

Our 2nd new State

11:50 and yeah you guessed it we jump back on I-84 just long enough to catch the next exit, and head for the Walmart, now actually we are parked in the Home Depot lot, it just didn’t seem as busy as the Walmart, and we were going to have to unhook the toad anyway. And the Home Depot is closer to the Dairy Queen for my after dinner treat.

Dinner consisted of quesadillas tonight, and I walked to Walmart to pick up a carton of ice cream, my Scottish heritage showing again, plus there may be ice-cream some left over for tomorrow night. Again Nomad internet was not good enough to stream any television, but was good enough to allow me to plan tomorrow’s trek down to the Columbia River valley. I also now have all our Harvest Host stops entered into the trip planning app on our new Garmin, and we are now set until we reach our new summer home a week from today

Day 5 summary: so far our shortest day yet only 57 mile (92 kilometres) covered today, the solar panels brought in 145 amp/hours even with cloudy skies, and again today the fuel mileage stayed at 7.5 mpg, too much idling with no real miles being added.

Friday May 6th and it is cool in here in Ontario Oregon to start off, we will have an earlier start today, we need to get hooked up again and want to do that before the parking lot gets too busy. And we have a big day in front of us today as we make our way down to the Columbia River valley, we are starting the day at 2100 feet and will end the day at 700 feet, with a climb to 4200 feet in between and includes the decent through cabbage hill and Deadman’s pass.

Our solar system starts the day near 70%, after yesterdays short driving day as well as a little light rain, on a cloudy afternoon. So today should be better, with over a three hour driving day, and broken sky with sunny intervals.

7:16 and we fire up Thunder, I need to reconnect the toad, so I move it near the back of Thunder, with air pressure built up I gently move Thunder and back up to the toad, quick and simple and we are ready for the highway. We catch I-84 westbound and proceeded to count off the miles, today we will get down below 1000 feet of elevation, for the first time since sometime back in November. An uneventful journey with ups and downs along the way, and with many sharp turns as we wind through some of the valleys working hard for elevation then trying to carefully drop from it. We worked our way northwestward until me came to the pinnacle of todays trek “Deadman’s Pass” at cabbage hill.

10:10 we eased off of the highway and into the rest stop at Deadman’s pass, we got an early start this morning trying to beat the rain, so we decided to give Mister Sam as well as us a break from the drive so we kicked back for an hour or so. We are staying at a Harvest Host Winery in Echo Oregon and we had told them we would arrive between noon and two o’clock, and we were way ahead of that schedule. If there is one thing I like more than a cheap dump station it would be a free dump station. And there just happened to be a free dump station at this rest stop ,so after our rest time we fired up Thunder and moved around to the dump station.

Now I know a few things about dumping our tanks, and although today they were not even half full, but we are another six days on the road so if you have a chance to dump your tanks you just take it. Well today I watched the most painful display of stupidity at a dump station I have ever seen. I would estimate my time at a dump station to be ten minutes if it involves a tank flush, and without a flush the one would be five minute range, everything I need is handy and the process is smooth and painless. The fellow in front of me would have been shot at a Quartzsite dump station with twenty or thirty rigs in line waiting to dump, it was twenty minutes of my life that is just gone forever, someone, most likely a RV salesman must have told him that he should flush his tank for some specific amount of time, and this guy watched his watch to get the time correct! It was so bad that I will have to pull the card from the dash cam to have a look, because no one would believe it. After I reviewed the card he was twenty minutes from the time I pulled up behind and he was already in the tank flush stage at that point, so he must have spent thirty minutes at least at the speed we seen.

11:35 and we are headed for cabbage hill, this is the last big decent into the Columbia River valley, a six percent down grade for six miles, plus throw in the switchbacks with fifty miles per hour curves, not one for the faint at heart, but I made it down six miles and only had to slow Thunder down once with the service brake, the engine brake did the rest of the work

Nothing else to say!

12:25 we just pulled into the village of Echo, and have located our host for the night, we are parked on a side street beside the winery, I didn’t have to unhook the toad which is a bonus. A gravel spot that is pretty damn close to level, now kick back get some lunch and prepare for our scheduled wine tasting at two o’clock.

Our Harvest Host for Friday May 6th

15:35 and we are back from our wine tasting, SnoRoad Winery this is a winery that produces nothing but red wines and most of their wines are produced using all their own grapes, all four of the samples I tasted today would be fine on my dinner table. We could have stayed at a casino twenty miles back up the road, but we like quiet evenings and other than the trains at the last Harvest Host way back on Sunday evening, most are located off the main throughways on the path less travelled.

Left over pizza for dinner tonight, along with a bottle of wine from SnoRoad Winery, again we have non-existent internet from Nomad internet on the T-Mobile cellular (non)service, again we are less than two miles from interstate I-84. I guess I didn’t realize how bad cellular coverage was in the western states. Again with no streaming television we have picked a movie to watch in bed and all three of us were on the bed watching Avatar

Day 6 summary: not ideal weather today, a little bit of everything, some sunshine, some heavy cloud, a little drizzle, and even a real down pour for the last few miles of our trek. We covered 188 miles (303 kilometers) today, we are at less than 700 feet of elevation, and everything is green, I hear lawn movers in the distance, not the best solar day but the power from the alternator has our coach battery bank at 100%, but even in the cloud and rain the solar panels captured 150 amp/hours of power. And even with a thirty minute idle at the dump station, and elevation climbs up to 4200 feet we finally moved the fuel mileage meter up to 7.6 mpg today.

Our boondocking spot for the night

Saturday May 7th, and at six o’clock the skies are full of heavy cloud, it is to be a windy day today, blowing in cold air for the weekend and Mother’s Day. Mister Sam has fallen back to travel mode and as I pick up the iPad this morning has just curled up on my lap, the next days will be easier with only around the 100 mile (160 kilometer) of travel per day as we add the third new state to our travelled list today Washington, our home State for the next five nights. The battery bank has been drawn down to 78% but with the alternator and some sunny intervals we should be back to 100% again today.

9:45 and I fired up Thunder for todays trek, we weaved our way through back streets to find our route back to I-84 and just ten miles down the road we exit to I-82 and onto the state of Washington, our third and last new state for this adventure with a new province coming soon.

This was supposed to a snapshot of the Washington State sign … not the Columbia River

11:05 and we pulled into a rest area, there is a little internet to be had here, still very poor service from Nomad internet on T-Mobile cellular, but I have at least been able to catch up some on the blog, I had hoped to publish later tonight but with such sporadic service it may or may not.

12.10 and we are pulling back onto I-82 and we are just twenty five miles away from tonight’s Harvest Host Silver Lake Winery in Zillah Washington

12:50 and we have made it to our host for the evening, the views in almost every direction from here are pretty spectacular, it almost is a park like setting, we are a number of miles from the highway on a dead end road, so I’m thinking it should be a very quiet evening. Now if the Nomad internet on the T-Mobile cellular service did not suck we could watch a little television.

We tasted their flight of wine, and there were a couple of whites, a couple of reds, and a brandy. Unlike the last winery these reds did not finish neatly as smooth, but they did have a rose that was very nice and will be great chilled on a hot summer evening.

This host gave us a sheet of paper with some guidelines on what is expected from us as guests and also some of the features that the host makes available to us as well. What I have found that I don’t like about wine tastings in the western states is that they all seem to have set tasting flights, I like it better when we can choose the five wines that we want to taste, the main reason, is everyone has different tastes, I’m not a big white wine fan, and I certainly would not of sampled a brandy. Brandy is kind of like Scotch whiskey, in the way that some people are very good at making Scotch while others not so much, and a winery is not where I would go for a Scotch or a Brandy.

Day 7 Summary: nothing but short days from here on, today was 106 miles (170 kilometres) and we here settled in by one o’clock, we had no rain today but mainly overcast skies. The solar panels were able to find 201 amp/hours and with our drive time today we are at 100% charged. on the fuel mileage front we have creeped up to 7.7 mpg today

My photographer found a image of the Washington State sign on the internet, to try to make amends … jus’saying!

Be kind to others!

Blog 416

Day 1671