Mid-May 2023 Update

Monday morning May 1st and we are scheduled to pull out of the arboretum this morning. It is 5:00 and I’m up enjoying another Arizona sunrise before I get going, I’m anxious to get on the road, today should be our worst driving day, well at least for elevation changes, hair pin turns, switchbacks, and slow trudging up and down many 6% grades. My hope is to make it east to Pie Town in New Mexico, only 232 miles, but I suspect it will be a six hour driving day as we are climbing from 2400 feet (731 meters) here at the arboretum to around 8000 feet (2438 meters) in New Mexico.

This was today’s route, we left the arboretum just a few moments after eight o’clock and pulled into Pie Town just around one thirty this afternoon, five and a half hours.

229 miles (368 kilometres) on US-60, the highway was mainly two lanes, and of course was in varying degrees of dis-repair, there were even glimpses of being back in the Mexican Baja.

Well you can’t stop in Pie town and not have some pie, I choose the key lime pie and it was excellent, homemade pie, you just can’t go wrong. From the Pie-O-Neer pie shop, because according to the sign in the restaurant the essentials of life are “Lard” and “Pie”, and that may just be true.

Todays drive took us through the Salt River Canyon, and the first time we drove through this canyon was in the fall of 2021, I thought it was a real tough piece of highway. But after some of our adventures down the west coast and on down into the Mexican Baja, now all of a sudden it doesn’t seem nearly as steep or rugged as it used to. Here are a few photos of todays adventures:

When we crossed the New Mexico State line we also switched from MST to MDST, we will cross a couple more time lines this week. I had planned on staying overnight at Jackson Park Campground, a free county owned park that I found on the “AllStays” app, but the entrance and many of the roads in the park are very badly rutted so we have just settled in for a nights rest on the side of the highway. There seems to be limited traffic and in the worst case we may have a trucker or two park beside us, either way it’s just one night on our trek east.

We have seen some drastic changes to the scenery, starting in the Arizona desert, then the plunge down into the Salt River Canyon, then climbing into the Ponderosa Pines up near Show Low then as we headed toward New Mexico the trees disappeared to the plains of high desert covered with grass with ranches of grazing cattle, we are climbing up into New Mexico and I expect we will feel the effect of the elevation tonight as the temperature is going to drop off to 42°F (6°C) overnight. Dinner a little television and an early night as we have another big day ahead of us tomorrow.

Tuesday morning May 2nd finds us boondocked on the side of the road in Pie Town in New Mexico. I have laid out another big day for today, looking to make it to Amarillo Texas today, there is a quiet rest stop on the east side of Amarillo that never seems to get many trucks, and we have stayed there numerous times and that will be today’s destination.

Today is going to be a long day, at the end of today we will have accomplished a distance equal to our normal three days of travel.

US-60 east to I-25 north then I-40 east, sounds simple enough until you see the 449 miles (723 kilometers). On the road by 8:00 am and pulling into the rest stop at 4:00 pm, but we did take a half an hour for a lunch break.

We also had to make our first purchase fuel today, the price is still too high for a fill up, so just 40 gallons (150 liters), for $170, fuel should be much cheaper in Texas. This was realistically too long of a day, but we are trying to plan our journey to allow some time with friends, as well as meet a timeline to be back at LHR (Lake Huron Resort) in Goderich. I figured get a couple of rough days under our belt early will make the rest of the days seem easier.

So let’s just talk for a moment about the condition and state of repair of highways that we have travelled so far, US-60 in Arizona would rate a “C“, US-60 in New Mexico a “C-“, I-25 in New Mexico a solid “B“, I-40 in New Mexico a huge “F“, I-40 in Texas to Amarillo an “A-“.

I know that a good portion of the price of fuel is “Road Tax“, so try if you can explain to me how states charging at least a dollar per gallon more for fuel also has the worst roads. Other than the obvious answer, the State politicians using the road tax being collected for things other than its intended purpose. So folks in New Mexico are being ripped off at the pumps and having their vehicle destroyed by terrible highways at the same time.

The drive today was all a repeat other than the first couple of hours on US-60 and I-25, we climbed up to over 8000 feet early then dropped down to 4500 feet, before climbing back over 6500 feet before ending up an Amarillo at 3600 feet. We have driven in and out of spring multiple times today with the changes in elevation, and seen the horizon change from mountains to the plains of Texas, we drove through the area in New Mexico where the array is located, a collection of huge dishes pointed to the sky listening for aliens. Now I’m wondering if that could explain the crappy highways, I guess I will never know the answer to this pondre.

We are now settled into the rest stop in Texas, and Miss Laurie prepared us a pork chop with a salad for dinner, our internet provider uses the AT&T network and it sucked tonight, not a big deal as we were both tired, and because we crossed another timeline as we moved into Texas. So we are now in CDST (Central Daylight Saving Time) and only have one more timeline to cross, the weather had been good till now, but we did have some wind and rain overnight, in fact enough wind to wake me.

Wednesday May 3rd and we or at least I was a little slow getting going this morning, the night in the welcome centre was quiet enough other than that wind. Miss Laurie made bacon sandwiches while I mapped out today route, it will be a much shorter day but we have to go through Oklahoma City today, and while not the worst city to transverse but still one we like to go through near mid-day, and we will stop once we get onto I-44 east of Oklahoma City, but the first task is to fuel up Thunder.

Today our fuel cost $294 for 75 gallons (284 liters) of diesel some 80¢ a gallon cheaper that in New Mexico or Arizona, from the Pilot station less than a block from the Welcome Centre / rest stop.

Today took us east on I-40 into Oklahoma City the north on I-35 to I-44 a toll highway as we continue north east in the direction of St. Louis.

295 miles (474 kilometers) today and while we started at 8:00 it was 8:30 before actually getting on the highway and we were off the road in Chandler OK by 2:00 even after an accident back up in Oklahoma City.

In keeping with the grading of the highways we have travelled, I-40 out of Texas still an “A-“, while the first 100 miles of I-40 in Oklahoma was a “B+” until we hit Oklahoma City then it took a nose dive to a “D“, but then I-35 north through Oklahoma City was a “F“, and I-44 which is a toll road so far is a “B“, I will report on tomorrows route which will only be I-44.

Tonights stay is a little different, we are in a church parking lot, the church is a member of the Harvest Host network, so we are expecting a quiet night, although there is a church service going on right now and we are working on our route for tomorrow. All the deciduous trees are in full leave here in Oklahoma and our elevation is down to 950 feet, there is thunderstorms forecast for overnight and we may hit some rain tomorrow and we did see some wet roads today on our route, but no rain.

Hamburgers tonight for dinner, as I’m catching up on this blog and watching some news from Phoenix, one of the disadvantages to streaming your television is that my provider “YouTube TV” only allows me to change locations twice a year. Our internet is better tonight but still disappointing, compared to what we normally have been experiencing.

Thursday May 4th and this morning finds us leaving the church in Chandler OK and getting back on I-44 eastbound, it was a cloudy start to the day and we ended up driving in rain for a couple of hours this morning our end destination is Conway in Missouri. We were on the road at a few moments after eight o’clock and were shutting it down at two o’clock this afternoon

Today we only travelled on one highway, that would be I-44, we started out in Oklahoma on a toll road and end up in Missouri on just a regular interstate highway.

We covered 325 miles (523 Kilometers), we made one stop just inside of Missouri for fuel some 60 gallons (227 liters) for $200. I even topped off the fuel tank on the toad with regular fuel for $2.95 a gallon.

While it is fresh in my mind let’s give todays highways a grade, I-44 in Oklahoma the toll road from Chandler to Tulsa was solid “B“, I-44 through Tulsa was still under construction as it has been for the last two years and rates a “F“, I-44 from Tulsa to the Missouri State line again a toll road was not a good with multiple areas under repair so I’m going to rate it a “C“, and I-44 in Missouri was also a “C“, with multiple areas that need some repair but we did not see a lot of repair crews.

Our route did not end just exactly as planned, these things happen when traveling, but it was not an issue, we just adjusted and visited an old faithfull for a nights rest, yes we ended up at a blue sign store is St. Roberts Missouri which meant I had ice cream for dessert. So what happened to our planned stop? Miss Laurie had requested a Harvest Host overnight stop in Conway MO at a visitor center, basically just a huge parking lot but the directions to the location were somewhere between poor and non-existent, and there was no signage on the highway so we decided rather than exit the highway and search for the location we would just continue a few miles up the road to a Walmart. We ended up in the outer parking lot and were joined by one other motorhome, it was a quiet night.

Friday May 5th and I woke this morning with a tickle in my throat, not sure if it’s just the change in climate from Arizona dry to the wet humid eastern states. But we did wake to dry conditions, the forecast had been calling for rain most of the overnight, but it appears to have stayed mainly south of our location. We were on the road a few minutes before eight o’clock and were at our end destination at two o’clock because we crossed that last time line today as well.

Today’s journey was 301 miles (484 kilometers) there were no stops on the route today, but we finally got off of I-44 when we jumped onto I-55 then finally I-70

We crossed the Mighty Mississippi today, always an important marker on our travels west. No more elevation changes as we head east across Illinois and Indiana, with lots of flat farmland.

So let’s look at today’s highways I-44 through Missouri was a solid “C” until we reached St. Louis where I-44 dumps on to I-55 both were terrible and not even any sign of improvement so a “F“, then over a rough bridge into Illinois on I-55 and again just a terrible rough mess (if there was something worse than an F, this is where it would be used) “F“, now we jump onto I-70, there was construction on I-70 almost all the way across Illinois. It seems that the contractor in Illinois failed to learn how to join asphalt, the edges of the highway are all crumbling, and down the center of the highway that joining has been cut out and refilled giving two new edges to crumble now so I-70 through Illinois rates a “D“, we are only a few miles into Indiana the road surface seem better, but the joints to Indiana’s many bridges are almost like a launching jump.

I needed my sunglasses today, a warm day with endless sunshine, the storms are staying south of us and we have decided to change our plans again tonight with one more stop at a Walmart. We had planned to stop at a Cracker Barrel that we had stayed at before but decided to get lazy and not unhook the toad, we love staying at Cracker Barrel’s for either a breakfast or a dinner but to fit in their RV spots we do have to unhook the toad so we just decided against it, justy being lazy and a Walmart stop usually gets me some ice cream … jus saying.

So tonight’s stop was a Walmart in Terre Haute Indiana, not one of the nicer Walmarts, but all reviews said that there was overnight parking allowed on the outer parking area, we found a spot along the very outside of the lot and while not the quietest night, it was certainly not the worst by any means.

Saturday morning May 6th and today will just a repositioning day, it will be a normal day, and we have also decided to change our route today as well. As we get into a position to visit with “Butch & Betty” at their summer RV Resort tomorrow, a spot that we have never been before, but to get the most time possible we have decided to pull in to their park on Sunday morning as early as we can, we have been told if our site is not available when we arrive that there is a spot to put Thunder until our site is ready, so today we want to get within an hours drive. So instead of heading north past Indianapolis toward Fort Wayne Indiana we are going to head east to I-75 then north to spend the night in Bowling Green Ohio, a choice made strictly on the reviews from prospective overnight spots and the Walmart in Bowling Green won out.

Today we travelled 299 miles (481 kilometers) and and are now in position for a very short drive tomorrow.

Today’s drive was I-70 to the Indianapolis city bypass and back to I-70 across the Ohio State line then north on I-75 and other than a few construction areas one of our better road days. I-70 in Indiana was for the most part in good shape other than the joints at the bridges and we scored it a solid “C” there was some single lane through construction but still OK. Through Indianapolis the bypass was much better than our last visit with much of the construction being completed scoring a “B“. Ohio always seems to have some of the best roads in the country with just a few minor areas in need of attention I-70 scores a “B+” and I-75 starting to show its age is still a respectible “B“.

Our drive today took us through miles and miles of fertile farmland, with lots of equipment working in the fields to get crops planted. We went through Indianapolis just before the noon hour and traffic was reasonably light, maybe being Saturday helped with that. The juncture of I-70 & I-75 is always a busy spot but as we headed north the congestion was left behind we stopped at one of the rest areas for some lunch before finding our way to the Walmart in Bowling Green Ohio where we found tree lined parking lots with lots of open areas. This Walmart looked reasonably new and Miss Laurie said it was a large store when she picked up some supplies

Sunday morning May 7th and we are just an hour away from today’s destination, this is the day we are going to get to visit with Butch & Betty. So it will be a latter start to the day and we will be only on secondary highways today, if some of the major highways could only be as well maintained.

Our shortest driving day yet 51 miles (82 kilometers) just a hop, a skip, and a jump.

This was most likely the easiest driving days ever, less than an hour on well maintained secondary highways, it is Sunday morning and traffic is light

The Resort at Erie Landing has a massive footprint, set on 375 spectacular acres, and situated along the picturesque shores and islands of Ohio’s north coast region, guests will enjoy spending time exploring manicured scenic grounds, waterways, and activities. It is constructed on what was previously an eighteen hole golf course, so camping areas are separated by undulations that used to separate the fairways, it is a work in progress and will someday be home to close to 1000 campsites, both seasonal and transient. At the front gate we were greeted and sent on to the recreation center (I suspect the original clubhouse) where we were assigned a site and then some one led us to our site. It was a back-in site which meant that we would have to unhook the toad which only takes a few moments, and just moments later we were settled into position with the toad parked in front of the coach.

The site was amongst seasonal sites but was much closer to Butch & Betty’s site than the original site they had assigned us, it is a full hookup site and we will dump our tanks in the morning before departing, today just power and water are required. And before I even had completed my tasks Butch was at our site greeting us, it had been over a year since we had last seen him, these are moments that we cherish forever. We suggested he return to pick us up in thirty minutes, giving us a few moments to prepare some snacks. The campground is so large that almost everyone has a golf cart to get around, and Butch has a new cart all done up in the Ohio colours, and a few moments later we were at the Ward site a few sections away.

It was a wonderful afternoon just catching up with Butch and Betty, we enjoyed a couple of beverages and some snacks as we enjoyed the sunshine. We decided to go out for dinner so that no one would have to cook or clean up, and we decided on a little diner “Jolly Rogers Seafood House” as they specialized in Lake Erie perch, always a treat and the diner is also located right on the lake shore. We enjoyed a good feed of lake perch and some more conversation before calling it a night.

Monday morning May 8th and we will be a later start today as we are having coffee this morning with Butch & Betty before checking out and making our final push north today. At days end we should be parked in site 217 at Lake Huron Resort just north of Goderich Ontario, of course there are a few small obstacles in our path like a border crossing and such. But our morning started off with coffee and warm muffins with Butch & Betty in their trailer, it has been great to catch up with their lives and family and seemed to make those few longer driving days early in the week all worth it.

Thank you Butch & Betty for everything, the love, sharing your family with us, taking interest in our travels, as well as big thank you for the Pemberville care package. You will always be a great part of our RV family, be well and we hope to see you in October.

The final day of our trek north, only 237 miles (381 kilometers) with a trip over the Bluewater bridge between Port Huron and Sarnia and a stop at Canada customs.

We were on the road by 10:30 this morning and even with a stop for lunch, a diesel fuel stop, the border crossing, and topping off the propane tank I pulled into LHR around 4:00 in the afternoon.

Today is actually the stretch of road I’m looking least forward to, as Michigan is not well known for their road maintenance and having to go through Detroit is always an adventure. But it is the most direct route so we will just prepare the best we can and accept what is given.

A couple miles of secondary highway and we entered I-80 the toll road that transverses Ohio, for only a few miles then exit to I-280 to skirt the eastside of Toledo and it then dumps us on I-75 just south of the Michigan State line, it’s at this point that my expectation for some of the worst roads in the United States comes to mind, but we are pleasantly surprised to find I-75 undergoing major repairs. And while traffic was restricted we were almost completely on the reconstructed highway, so to say we were pleasantly pleased would be an understatement. Now my next fear was Detroit, a city that declared bankruptcy almost a decade ago and the roadways in the city showed a total lack of maintenance the last time we had been through the city. And again we we amazed at the improvement since our last visit, and while not up to Amarillo Texas standards they were well above St. Louis Missouri standards.

In Detroit we switched from I-75 to I-94 which will take us to the Bluewater bridge in Port Huron and our journey back to Ontario, I-94 once outside of Detroit was in good shape and we stopped at a rest area to grab some lunch before our final refueling stop in the States. We reached the border early afternoon and found the traffic light at the Canada customs checkpoint, a couple of questions (Where had we been? & How long had we been away?) and we had cleared customs and were through Sarnia on the 402 heading east and just a few kilometers later we found the junction on highway 21, the final leg of our trek to Goderich.

Highway 21 is a two lane secondary highway that hugs the shoreline of Lake Huron as it transverses north, through some small towns and villages. We stopped in the mall parking lot in Goderich where we unhooked the toad and while Miss Laurie went to get some supplies I had the propane tank topped off before the last 10 kilometers north on highway 21 to Lake Huron Resort (LHR), where we backed into site 217 for the summer.

Ok the last set of road scores, I-80 in Ohio “A“, I-280 around Toledo “A+“, I-75 to Detroit (even with the construction) a ‘B+“, I-75 to I-94 in Detroit a solid “B“, I-94 to Port Huron a “B+“. In Canada the 402 from Sarnia to Hwy 21 an “A-“, and Hwy 21 other than a couple of short rough areas would score an “A-“, as well, making for a far better than expected final driving day.

Our return to Ontario and to LHR (Lake Huron Resort) just felt like we were coming home after an extended vacation and we will just leave it there for now, the next blog we will get into more details of our homecoming!

Bring on the Summer of 2023!

Blog 478

Day 2043

October’s Windshield View – 2022

October 2022: Oh the choices for this October’s windshield view are numerous so picking one has been a real challenge, and while all the choices have a special meaning this one won out over all the rest. This photo was taken on US-101 just a few miles north of Brooking Oregon, the sun was shining on us but we could see the marine layer in front of us.

This October has been a real vacation month with the first of October finding us in Campbell River over looking the Salish Sea and the Alaskan Marine Highway, then started our southern trek on Vancouver Island, as we explored Vancouver Island and then of course our preparation for our departure back to the States on the Coho ferry back into Washington State and then continue our trek south down the western coast. We crossed in to California on the sixteenth of the month to continue our costal trek south as far as San Francisco before turning into the middle of the state and finding Interstate 5 to make a push south and get us back into the desert. Then head east to Arizona and the Yuma area for the meetup with the “Baja Gang“.

We have taken on a different approach to our travel down the western coast of the States with the addition of the “Elks Lodges” to our available camping stops. The weather has been amazing with only a couple of days of moist weather, It would be a tough call as to what area we liked the most, as we only seen the coast of Washington, Oregon, and California. But in all cases it has left us wanting more exploration of each State, for more details of our adventures see my blogs weeks 2-5 of of our 2022 vacation. Below is a just a few of our memory photos of this adventure.

October 2021: is here and yes once again we start the month on site #217 at LHR (Lake Huron Resort) but the windshield sun shade will be removed in a couple of days, the sunshade serves dual purpose for us, with its main task being keeping the coach cooler when the sun shines on our huge windshield and the secondary task is to provide some privacy during the daytime hours. It still puzzles me as to how much heat the shade is actually able to reduce in the coach on a sunny day, but as the days start cooling off, that warming of the coach by the sun becomes very welcome. I removed the shade on the last weekend of the park season, so this photo was taken after the park had closed looking out the windshield over the kayaks on the SportTrac, west toward the lake, as you can see the trees still have most of their leaves, as we have not even received a frost yet. This is actually a screen shot from my dashcam which sits attached to the windshield just a little left of center, notice the GPS readings and although obscured by the white of the kayak, it has the speed of the coach in km/h, as well as exact time, just in case of any incident on the road and the wide-angle lens distorts things, but it is a true view from the windshield. Yes I remember that I said October’s windshield should be shorter that September’s rambling post but it appears to be almost as long or maybe even longer … sorry eh.

Ok so it is the first day of October and Miss Laurie and I were sitting watching the morning news on the television when the front roof air conditioner compressor starts running, the thermostat was turned off, we had touched nothing but it started on its own, but I also noticed the fan did not start with the compressor. So because I had just renewed my BAC (Beaver Ambassador Club) membership I threw this little puzzlement onto the service forum website to see what turns up, and with a google search it was suggested to be a thermostat problem and that seemed to make sense to me, because nothing that I did with the thermostat controls would stop the compressor, so my best guess and also the least expensive part to change was the thermostat, so I have one ordered from Amazon.

After closing the pool and the public washrooms Richard and Bonnie decided to renovate the washroom building, so that work had started, and we were able to winterize about a dozen trailers, on Tuesday the fifth, a great warm sunny day, this task is so much easier on a dry day, as now the rains seem to have become heavier and that has made trying to keep the lawns mowed nearly impossible, and now it just becomes a waiting game to close the park.

Thanksgiving weekend is upon us, the last few days for everyone to get their trailers closed for the season, unfortunately the weather is not being very cooperative, with lots of rain in the weekend forecast. So a number of people have been up during the week to close their units, while the weather was warm and dry, it is just nicer and easier not to have to pull in wet slides. The sun came out on Sunday afternoon and Richard and I were able to knock off a few more trailer closures. The replacement thermostat showed up on Sunday afternoon from Amazon so on Thanksgiving Monday I installed the new thermostat and the air conditioner issue seems to have been corrected.

Closing day can get kind of crazy and I wrote a separate blog on that already Closing Day 2021 here is the link (https://thebuchanansrollingdowntheroad.com/2021/10/12/closing-day-2021/). Because we needed a little time off, we took Tuesday and Wednesday to catch up on some personal items to prepare for our journey to Arizona, cleaning of storage spaces the switching out of some storage containers, as we continue to learn how to make the best use of our limited space and we also keep purging unused items as we can. We also got Mr. Sam to a veterinary clinic (thanks Sandra) to receive his rabies shot to allow him to cross the border with us this fall, it is October the 12th and we are anticipating the next border announcement due by the 21st, and hoping that it will bring good news.

So at 5:30 this morning the 13th of October as I’m tossing and turning in bed, trying to avoid answering that daily call of nature. I can’t help but notice a glow from Miss Laurie’s cell phone as Miss Shari has sent Miss Laurie information about the possible border opening in early November. Miss Laurie is not really an early morning person so all this activity is certainly uprooting both Sam’s as well as my morning routine, this is normally my quiet time when I write my blogs as Mr. Sam lays on my lap to give me inspiration.

But on the upside, the opening of the American land border is very good news to us, as well as a few million other snowbirds. Now it just comes down to the actual opening date and see how that will effect our travel plans.

We always say it, kind of kiddingly at times, that we put in 10-2-2 days, which means get on the road by ten and we try to get off the road by two and we stop for lunch and I may even have a short nap. We try to avoid driving on raining days or in any other kind of nasty weather.

So let’s look at what we had hoped to have been able to do, the three week (21 days) from the end of our work at LHR (Lake Huron Resort) to the beginning of our volunteer position at BTA (Boyce Thompson Arboretum). In that period, visiting friends and a leisurely drive across the continent enjoying the travel, exploring the interesting sights, while avoiding the bad weather.

But now depending on the actual date, at the best we have ten days, which is going to force us to reduce our visiting time, it also means longer driving days, and as we cross the American mid-west as we climb in elevation the chance of storms with snow become a reality and not an ideal driving condition for us.

The land border closed in March of 2020 when the pandemic was first taking over the world, we crossed the Blue Water Bridge back into Canada on April the 8th of 2020 and now we are anticipating being in the line up the day it opens on November the 1st 2021 to head south for our winter escape.

Our original travel plans have now been cut short, our shortest distance is 2100 miles (3380 kms) and only nine days to get that done. We have one required stop and that is in Pemberville Ohio to visit with Butch & Betty who have not seen since November 2019, because we will have limited time that will most likely become our first day from the Canadian border to their home which is 220 miles (360 kms). Then we head off to BTA another 1850 miles (2980 kms) down the road, to meet our present commitment if we increase our daily travel to 300 miles we should make the trip in six days. which means no naps for me.

It’s Thursday October the 14th, another warm sunny fall day, and the day we start the process of closing the park, winterizing trailers, wanting to take advantage of the weather we started early and finished late in the afternoon with only one more trailer to winterize left.

Friday morning and the announcement came down that the border would open on November the 8th, while the opening is meet with some happiness the fact that it was a week later that we had hoped will cause us some issues with our next commitment in Arizona, and while it is technically possible to get there in two days it is not something that we are planning on doing, so we will ask for an extra week to allow us to travel with out too much stress. It will shorten some of our plans and won’t allow for any exploration on the way along with moving us one week closer to the chance of winter weather through the American mid-west.

So the last of the trailers were winterized this morning, and some repairs are completed to repair water leaks, before the water system is shut down to start the purging of the water lines to both sides of the park this is done by hooking up air compressors to the water lines and walking to every site to purge the water until just air is escaping from the system, lots of walking as we make our way around the park numerous times, and while not nearly as nice a day as Thursday, Friday was still warm but had a light rain as we worked around the park. So now we have only the washroom building and the pool left to winterize, then we just have the equipment left to clean and prepare for winter, although the forecast is not good for Saturday as more fall rain is in the forecast.

Down pours to start the Saturday morning, but by late morning we were able to finish the purging of the south side of the park, then off to what is left of the washroom and laundry to winterize it, with most of the plumbing having already been removed it was a quick stop this year. The next big task was winterizing the pool which includes the pool solar system on the roof of the washroom building, this is always a time consuming process, but failing here could make for a major repair in the spring. So by days end on Saturday we have completed all the major winterizing, now all that is left is equipment to be cleaned and put away but I took Sunday off because of rain and will start the equipment preparation on Tuesday.

Because I’m an old fart, I scheduled a flu shot with the local pharmacy online and I was able to get in for the shot on Tuesday the 19th and because it was such a warm and beautiful day we went to the beach in the afternoon, while maybe not a swimming kind of warm, the day was warm enough to be of the shirtsleeve variety of day, Miss Laurie wandered the beach looking for sea glass, while I tried out my drone set up, using an iPad instead of my cell phone for the display. This should have been very easy as I was able to purchase a bracket for the iPad, but ran into a complication when I had to order a RC (remote control) cable from China and had been waiting for it to arrive for over a month, I’m pleased to tell you that it makes flying the drone so much easier with the bigger screen. But more importantly the battery in the iPad outlasts the battery in a cell phone for this task, as it was usually the phone battery that grounded the drone before the drone batteries actually did.

On the 20th our last official day of work at LHR (Lake Huron Resort), I did what will most likely become my final pump out, maybe forever, and while I’m certainly not saddened by that fact, I will miss working with Dale, Don and Richard. You learn so much more about a person while doing pump-outs than you ever would over a beer on a warm day. The “Honey Wagon” has now been winterized for the winter so this means that Thunder will be moving in the next ten days or so to drive to the dump station.

I also washed most of the equipment and moved it to the recreation hall for the winter, carefully making sure to shut off the fuel supply at the tank and running the engine to drain all the fuel from the carburetor for the winter, this is done to reduce the gumming deposit in the carburetor when the gasoline evaporates over the winter, and shutting the fuel off at the tank reduces the chance of a leak over the winter, in a perfect world you would drain the fuel tanks as well, but we don’t live in that world.

We just received an email this evening on the 20th of October from BTA (Boyce Thompson Arboretum), and while not pleased that we will arrive late, at least they are understanding. The problem is that the time around Thanksgiving is very busy at the arboretum and they were hoping for our assistance, we reassured them that we were quick learners and would get up to speed quickly. But this all means that the number of travel days are going to be reduced again which means longer driving days and little or no forgiveness for any bad weather, as our new plan is to be in Arizona by the 17th of November, now we are hoping for mother nature to cooperate at least a little.

I have to mention the state of the pandemic as much as we would like it to be over, it is not over yet. Ontario and Canada just brought out the covid vaccine QR code passport as proof of your vaccination status, and of course it has upset some of the special people out there, but it has made the important people like myself feel much better when going out for dinner to support the hard hit restaurants from all the lock downs. And as of today the 25th of October they are allowed to go back to full capacity as long as they are checking vaccine passports. As of this morning 87.9% of the eligible Ontario population have had a shot and 83.9% are fully vaccinated, a vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old is being reviewed by Health Canada for approval hopefully next month, and the covid case count is running below 400 per day on average and only 326 being reported today and the majority (231) are people who are of the unvaccinated. By comparison Arizona’s case counts are 2,550 cases per day on the seven day average, which makes perfect sense when you look closely to see that 41% of Arizona residents remain unvaccinated those are numbers that you would expect from third world countries not from a state in the United States of America supposedly one of the more advanced countries in the world, makes you stop and think.

So now that we are officially done at LHR what are we doing? Well the quick answer is quite a bit, we are packing and purging, and because we seem to be in monsoon season here on the shore of Lake Huron we have a leak that has developed on the slide I have been trying to resolve, and while making progress it is not complete yet. I filled our fresh water tank to find a couple of leaks there, one was a repair that I had made in Florida back in 2019 that has not leaked since, but I have discovered why it is leaking now and I can easily fix it, by adding some support to one area of the tank that when full is sagging causing the area of the leak to buckle allowing the leak to reappear. But I have a new leak at the freshwater tank drain, it seems to be at the point where the drain pipe is attached and I think it just needs to be resealed. Part of the issue is that the fresh water tank is located in the basement and is mounted between the frame rails of the coach, it is a 100 gallon tank so is very heavy and has some flex to it when full, by increasing the support (by adding some plywood to increase the support surface area) it should help reduce the issue of the tank flexing.

Because we are going to be doing a lot of travelling in the SportTrac right now to visit with family and friends I have removed the kayaks and the roof rack to improve the fuel mileage, and with the price of fuel being somewhere between stupid and ridicules right now every little bit helps, but with the price of oil being as high as it is it also drives the value of the Canadian dollar up as well, but today it has rained all day leaving little to do other than catch up on our friends on YouTube friends and to work on this blog.

October 26th and it looks like we are getting a little reprieve from the rain, but we are not going to get out of single digits today with 9C (48F) being todays high and rain is forecast again for this afternoon. One of my weather apps which gives a fourteen day forecast so now we can see the weather right up to our crossing date and it is showing typical fall weather with rain and cold temperatures. Our expectation is that we are in for a few weeks of cool fall weather until we get to Arizona.

When we are in the States getting good internet is always an issue, we have in the past had a Verizon hot spot but it was not a cheap option to get very limited at $70 US for 30 Giga bytes of high speed and we used to have Roam Cellular for our cell phones, (which is now defunct (because of the pandemic stopping people from traveling)) that gave us an additional limited amount of mobile data. So this year we were looking at a number of different options but two seem to stand out are “Star Link” which uses satellites for unlimited high speed data, the hooks are you need clear sky, expensive equipment, limited number of accounts in each area, and the required resetting of your location every time we move with the risk of not getting service in a desired area, monthly price $99 US for down load speeds up to 250 mbps, and while available in Canada, it can not be taken across the border yet. We are going with a service called “Nomad Internet” and offers unlimited internet at 4G speed, where ever cellular coverage is available, equipment purchase cost is much less, no contract, the cost is $129 US per month, it will not work in Canada but should give us good coverage where we are heading for the winter. I ordered it today to have it delivered to an American address that we will pick up after crossing on the 8th, I will report on the system when I have it up and running, but it is being used by a number of people we know, who are big YouTubers that use lots of data.

Well it’s official, Miss Laurie is hanging up her office key, with every site at LHR full for the 2022 season as well as every trailer that was for sale now sold to some very nice folks for next year. Many trailers have been brought in, since the park closed to be installed onto their lots for next spring, the ground is saturated but with the tractor installation has been quick and easy with little or no damage.

It is looking like I will avoid the fall tree removal because of how wet the park is, at this point that will happen after the ground freezes, and the forecast is not showing any below freezing temperatures before our departure. We are still preparing for our departure and today was leak fixing day on the fresh water tank, a couple of good products are “FlexSeal” which comes in multiple forms and of course “Eternabond” tape that is used to repair rubber roofs and so much more as it has real sticking power.

October the 28th and the roar of heavy equipment got our attention before 8 o’clock this morning, so the corn field is being harvested which besides being a sign of fall, it means that there will not be a food supply for the rodents over the winter months. I remember two years ago the corn crop was not harvested until February and the whole back row of the park seemed to have a rodent issue, you may notice the photo that I took from the entrance road how many green leaves are still on the trees in the park, we still have not had a hard frost at the park.

But a sunny afternoon made for a great beach day, the water was calm, and fresh tracks in the sand right to the water indicate some deer traffic, the amount of beach is the most we have ever seen, and frost or no frost there is colour change on some trees at the park, there is a strip of land by the lake that the temperature is moderated by the lake so the trees shed their leaves much later than expected.

We are nearing the last few days of October, and planning has started for the trek south when the border opens, we are doing some final visits to as many people as possible, the final packing of the truck and the coach is about a week away, there have been a lot of laughs and more than a few tears as goodbyes are exchanged and as I review this blog it is obviously a rambling mess of my thoughts and memories as they flash into my head. So before anymore verbal diarrhea escapes I’m going to close this blog out, and the good news is that the travel blogs will begin soon.

October 2020: At this point in time it was becoming very apparent that we would not be going south for the winter this year, as the border was still closed to nonessential travel and while it could be deemed essential to us to have a warm place to live, it would most likely not be deemed essential by a border guard. So with the coach still tucked into site 89 at LHR (Lake Huron Resort) now we had to locate a place to live and stay warm for the winter, and had to prepare to winterize the coach for the first time. The park was going to be open later because of opening a couple of weeks late because of the pandemic restrictions, and while a few people took advantage of the park being open later the majority of people were gone by the thanksgiving weekend, it just made closing the park more difficult to prepare the gardens with people still in the park and the park winterization because of cold wet weather that was upon us.

We decided to stay in the coach until November the fifteenth, before moving into Goderich to a small two bedroom house that we had rented till April the fifteenth when we could return to the park and our coach. Our fall was very busy, trying to get all the trailers winterized before the first freeze, putting all the gardens to bed, and cleaning up after the tree removal.

Here are a few of the photos from October 2020.

October 2019: As our first year as managers at LHR (Lake Huron Resort) is coming to a close and as we are preparing to head south for the winter October was a whole ball of mixed emotions, as our cat Mr. Divot whom had been with us since he was six weeks old was going downhill. He was twenty three years old, the equivalent to one hundred and ten in human years, he was losing weight, because he was barely eating and a trip to the vet confirmed our suspicions that age was not on Divots side, but as with any family pet, he was loved, but his future was not bright.

The park closed on the Thanksgiving weekend, and we were soon to learn how much work it takes to winterize a two hundred site campground, the week after closing was pretty much a blur with the winterizing of trailers, the purging of the water lines and taps with compressed air, winterizing the washrooms and laundry, and of course the winterizing of the swimming pool. a very physical week with us having to purge each tap in the park numerous times, crawling under bunks in trailers to find the water heater bypasses, We left LHR on the twentieth of October, and stopped in Woodstock to visit with my family, as it was my brother Scott’s birthday, we then found a spot mooch-docking at Rob & Dianne’s where we enjoyed a meal and a visit before heading to Rich & Bonnie’s other park Maple Grove, it was here that Mr. Divot passed away and we took a few days to mourn the loss of our twenty three year companion.

Mr. Divot 1996 – 2019

After a couple of days we said good bye to Richard & Bonnie at Maple Grove and moved onto the Niagara area where we mooch-dock at Bob & Irena’s for a few days while we visited with family and friends, I had made arrangements to have the bottom of the door on the coach repaired at Gino’s body shop so we spent an evening in the body shop parking lot during the repair, our plan was to cross the border on the thirty first of the month, when you spend as much time as we do in the States, we have watch our days very close to avoid having to filing a 8840 form with the American IRS although the filing of the tax forms is in our near future, because of the day count.

We crossed the border late in the afternoon on October 31st, and because of the restrictions at the border on so many grocery items, we had planned on stopping at the Walmart in Niagara Falls New York to restock our supplies for the trip west. The weather was stormy so we decided just to stay in the Walmart parking lot for the night, this turned out to be a bad decision as the wind blew a shopping cart into the side of the coach so hard I thought someone had actually ran into the coach, but it was just a shopping cart and we still have the dent to prove it.

Here are a few photos from October 2019, notice the windshield view overlooking the lake, after the park closed we moved to a lakefront site just to see how the lakefront folks live …

October 2018: Was a continuation of a year of learning, we had rushed around so much in September and now were just kind of kicking around putting in time, the first of October found us at a Walmart parking lot in Stoney Creek for a couple of days as we did some visiting. We then moved to Beamsville and Bob & Irena’s driveway where we spend the best part of three weeks mooch-docking there before moving to Fifty Point Conservation Area to close out the month.

Now just to clarify we did not just sit around doing nothing for the whole month, I helped Bob at his shop, Miss Laurie was learning some water colour painting technic from Irena, we were visiting family and friends, while we were still closing down our business and selling off many assets.

If September 2018 taught us any thing it was to slow our pace down, while we were trying to do so many thing they were all too condensed, and now we were putting off crossing the border until November for some reason but I’ll be damned if I can remember why as I write this blog, and looking back we should have been kicking around the mid American states as we worked our way south to Florida for the winter. But I’m going to assume that it was to allow us to delay our return in the spring, hoping to avoid the cold wet spring temperatures of Ontario.

October 2017: Well this was the month that we officially moved into our coach as full-timers, so on the 3rd of October after our house deal finally closed, the house sale closed a day later than scheduled because of some sort of lawyer issue. We had been sleeping in the coach and parking at the Fonthill Lions hall parking lot for over a week, or at least since our bed was sold and gone, we were moving the coach to the house location each day to load items during the daytime and spending the evenings back in the parking lot at the Lions hall.

Our NorCold refrigerator is now repaired and working well, now trying to find the perfect temperature to keep things cold enough but not frozen was taken some time, the house batteries are still proving to be a problem, well actually let me rephrase that, the batteries were still an issue but the problem was my inability to get them fully charged and keep them fully charged. I was learning just how long it takes to fully charge our four golf cart (lead-acid) batteries, and running the coach generator would involve many hours of run time. The carbon monoxide detector was proving to be a little bit of an issue as well as research indicated that the sensor needs to be replaced every five years, so when I checked the date on the unit and it was only a couple of years old, suggesting to me that the battery issue had been going on for some time with the previous owner as well.

It was our plan to cross the border on October the 30th to start our first winter away as “snowbirds” but there was a whole bunch of things that had to be accomplished. You may remember my little oh oh that happened in Chicago, it needed to be repaired, and the packing and repacking (kind of like Tetris) of the coach basement, discussions about what to take and what not to take, I was still working and because of our short time frame before our departure date, we had decided to just tow my work van on a dolly until we could purchase a more suitable tow vehicle, the problem was we didn’t even own a dolly, we had just borrowed one for our shake down trip in July. We had to pickup the new right rear fender that I had damaged from our U.S. parcel receiver in New York, and it was big enough that taking the coach over the border looked like the best way to transport it, so an appointment at the body shop was arranged, a new dolly was ordered from the manufacture in North Carolina to be shipped to our New York receiver, the trip to over the border was planned and during all this commotion we were now living fulltime in the coach and having to make regular runs to dump and to refill our fresh water.

So by the end of October we had retrieved the fender from the states, spent about four days living in Gino’s body shop, had been visiting everyone in preparation for our departure, had the coach packed to the hilt, had received notification the dolly had been delivered in New York, and had been making weekly runs to a local dump station, and refilling with fresh water with ever improving efficiency. My research on the dolly, had indicated that some assembly would be required before it could even be towed, so I enlisted help from our friend Bob who would cross the border and meet us at the Walmart parking lot in Niagara Falls New York to help me assemble and retrieve the dolly from the warehouse and then tow it to the Walmart parking lot. So after a little abuse at the border from the customs people, because Miss Laurie was following the coach in a very commercial looking van, we made it to the parking lot, and Bob pulled in shortly afterwards to pick me up to go and retrieve the dolly, the assembly was minimal and we had it hitched to Bob’s truck for a trip across Niagara Falls to the Walmart lot, where we completed the final assembly and loaded the van onto the dolly in preparation for our journey south.

So on the 31st of October we headed west on Interstate 90 and 187 miles (300 Kilometers) later we settled into a rest stop in Ohio to spend the night, the trips first day had seen some snow flurries through Erie PA and while it was not accumulating yet, there most certainly was a chill in the air that reminded us that winter was not far off.

Travel if you can, But stay safe and well!