Monday, April 16, 2018

So this is Spring?? and a reminder of warmer times.

April 12 - 16
So here we are in Red Deer in mid-April. The weather has been 'early spring' in that it's very variable. We get a day of nice weather followed by cold and snow.....again.

Thursday morning, April 12. What are we doing here??

Monday afternoon, April 16. Back to snow again today. It was nearly all gone yesterday.

Picnic table and lawn chairs patiently awaiting a happy hour.

We are getting a few things done. Laundry is caught up and the Canada Revenue Agency is happy that our tax returns have been submitted. We've made a few trips to the Kid's houses dropping off gifts that we have been packing along from our journeys.

I was going over some of our pictures that we took over the past winter. In fact we took over 17,000 pictures in the past six months! Some of them made it into the blog of course but I'm pretty sure no one would bother to view it if I posted even a tenth of them. I did have a small project in mind and given the state of the weather and really nothing of interest to report I thought I would share my Cactus Project!

It was December 1, 2017 in Walnut Canyon an hour or so north of Phoenix that we spotted our first Saguaro cactus.

Our first view of the mighty Saguaro. December 1, 2017.

Since our first encounter we have photographed dozens of these stately beauties. They seem to have their own personality and below is how I interpreted what they were saying to me. If you believe they 'say' something different to you please comment. I'll include a number with each picture and my caption. Let me know which is your favorite shot.

#1. Everyone makes fun of my big nose.

#2. I lost these in a table saw accident.

#3. I'll cover my eyes, you go hide.

#4. All right men.....Attention!

#5. The conversation was animated. Everyone talking at once.

#6. How many fingers am I holding up?

#7. Hi, I'm Bob.

#8. I've had just a bit too much tequila today.

#9. Mom trying to feed the kids a Palo Verde tree for lunch..

#10. I can't get anything done with you kids hanging on my apron.

#11. Take me to your leader.

#12. Oh, my aching back.

#13. Father/daughter dance.

#14. OK, huddle up. Spike, you go long and I'll throw it to you.

#15. Just wave at the tourists son. They'll go away once they take our picture.

#16. Peace, man.

#17. Like my new hair do? .......or 'Touchdown!'

#18. Three amigos.

#19. Someday son this will all be yours.

#20. Besties.

#21. Mom, Dad, I feel a little out of kilter this morning.

Hope you enjoyed these. To help me warm up a bit on a cold April night, here is a sunset picture over the Sea of Cortez from Puerto Penasco, Mexico taken New Years Eve, 2017. Ah!

....and that was Our View From Here!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Fillmore, Utah to Red Deer, Alberta

April 8 (Sunday)
We had a stormy Saturday night in Fillmore, Utah. Lots of thunder, wind and some heavy rain for a time. By morning the rain had stopped and we had a very pleasant day. We dumped our tanks, took on some fresh water and headed north on I15 about mid-morning.

Beautiful start to our travel day.

More cloud as we headed north toward Salt Lake City.

The dreaded I15 through SLC. Not too bad today though.

Downtown Salt Lake City

Traffic was busy and of course increased the closer we got to Salt Lake City. It was mid-day and I suppose because it was Sunday we didn't have huge commercial traffic to contend with. We made it unscathed through Salt Lake and kept heading north toward Pocatello, Idaho.

The wind was becoming an issue. Started out as a head wind, then shifting more to a cross wind. Our fifth wheel tracks very well in wind and the truck has the power to move us down the road at the speed limit but the drive hates watching the fuel gauge go down.  Watching other drivers deal with the wind was not entertaining but more concerning. So it was time to get off the road by the time we got to Fort Hall, just north of Pocatello. We had planned to stop here anyway, but it was still mid-afternoon and if it hadn't been for the wind we would have gone further. It turns out that Idaho Falls, just another 50 miles up I15 had tornado warnings and heavy thunderstorms on Sunday so we made a good choice by hunkering down where we were.

Clouds 'hung' on the mountains.

Ominous. It rained on us just as I was finishing fueling the truck.

Impressive cloud formations. Raining (or snowing) in the mountains to our west.

The clouds started to clear in Idaho, but the wind picked up......a lot!

Almost whitecaps in the mud puddles of the Casino.

Our spot for the night. We were soon joined by another half dozen RV's who got off the windy roads

By dusk the clouds had cleared and the wind began to drop.

The campground at the Casino was full but there was plenty of room in the parking areas so we set up camp there. The wind blew so hard the whole trailer rocked even with our jacks deployed and the main slide remained in. The wind started to die down after sunset and we had a good nights sleep.

April 9 (Monday)
It was at the freezing mark when we got up about 5:30. We hadn't seen frost since last October. We wanted to get an early start and we were on the road well before 7 AM. Very light breezes and not much traffic, as well as a mostly clear sky made the travel easy.

Sunrise near Fort Hall

The snow level keeps coming down.

By the time we reached Dillon, Montana the clouds were rolling in and there was a threat of rain, or snow, or something in between. The temperature was just above freezing most of the way to Butte. We stopped for fuel in Butte and a quick bite of lunch then back on the road northeast toward Helena.

The 90 foot Statue of  Mary, Our Lady of the Rockies that overlooks Interstate 15 outside of Butte, Montana.
You can read more about it here.

The trout streams are busy with fishermen.

The skies are clearing.

Not much snow here. Lots of Pronghorn and flocks of geese in the fields.

The winds had picked up and depending on the road direction and proximity to mountains or valleys we had at times the wind blowing on us from all points of the compass. The occasional bit of precipitation added to 'ambiance'.

We kept on toward Great Falls which was our planned stop for the night but it was only early afternoon when we got there and we decided to keep on heading north toward the border. We could stop in Lethbridge, Alberta. The wind was now a steady northwest which meant it was more of a crosswind than headwind. Not good for the fuel economy but not blowing hard enough to make driving a challenge.

I certainly can't complain about the trucks fuel consumption. According to the onboard computer (which I have checked against my own calculations and I think it is accurate to within on mile per gallon) we averaged anywhere from a low of 9 MPG (US miles per gallon) to a best of about 14 MPG (or somewhere between 17 and 20 liters per hundred Kilometers) when towing. In touring mode, staying under the speed limit, we have achieved just over 30 MPG (7.8 liters per hundred kilometers). Not too bad for a one-ton diesel.

We saw signs along the highway stating there were delays at the border due to heavy traffic. We could believe that as there were dozens of cars and several RV's passing us all with Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba plates heading fast to the border. We expected there would be a long wait. As it turned out, by the time we hit the border there were no other vehicles in line. Only the Commercial line had semi-trucks lined up.

The nice gentleman at the gate asked us where we lived, how long we had been in the US, did we have any liquor or tobacco, and what was the total value of goods we were declaring. We knew we were way over our personal exemption limit so he had us park and go inside to settle the matter of duty and tax payable. We were met by a very nice lady who patiently worked with us to determine the type of goods and an appropriate duty or tax. By the time we were done we owed $115 CDN in GST tax. We promptly paid that at the cashier and we were on our way!

We changed our phone service over to Rogers, and changed from US to Metric readings on the truck, then headed out toward Lethbridge. We parked at the south Walmart and went for supper. We had been on the road for close to 11 hours. Longer than we had planned but we shaved another day off our 'time in the US' count, and would have a short 4 hour drive home the next day. After supper we met up with our son who was working in Lethbridge for the week. We then enjoyed a relatively quiet night in the parking lot, except for a couple of hot rodders who decided a couple of quick laps around the parking lot in the middle of the night was a good idea.

April 10 (Tuesday)
We were on the road by 8 AM. We headed west on Highway 3 toward Fort Macleod. We stopped for fuel then headed north on Highway 2 toward Calgary. The forecasted strong winds never developed and we actually enjoyed a slight tailwind today. The only downside was the rough roads. I know it's spring and frost heaves are a problem, but it freezes in Montana too and their roads were fine.

This guy was happy to see us.

City of Calgary in the distance.

The Bow River is mostly ice-free.

Downtown Calgary. I've never seen the smog so bad. They need some wind to stir up the air.

They saved the worst of the roads for the Stoney Trail, which is the bypass around the City of Calgary. The south section and around the east side of the city are just plain awful. And this is a NEW road! We later found stuff bounced around in the trailer worse than we have ever seen.

We got back on Highway 2 north. We stopped for a quick bite at Crossfield and then on the road north to Red Deer.

Lots of snow yet to melt.

Although the trailer wasn't too dirty, it hadn't been washed in over six months and we did pick up some road mess so we stopped at the RV wash as we entered Red Deer. The wand wash cost $25 and it took most of the grime off. Next stop was the Westerner Campground. We arrived about 3PM and they were expecting us.  We got settled into our site, dug out our heated water hose and connected the sewer. The temperature is going to get well below freezing at night for the foreseeable future so we'll be keeping a close eye on water hoses and waste tanks for a while.

Our home for at least the next month.

Our street is pretty full. The sites on the right do not have water services at this time of year.

We went to our other son's house for supper and the first of the Grandkid hugs that Grandma (okay, and me) had been missing for the past six months. Nice to be home!

We had a huge stack of mail waiting for us and it looks like our babysitting calendar is filling up. We'll have lots to do in the next while. I just hope it warms up enough soon to get back to wearing shorts! Ha!
......and that was Our View From Here!