Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Speaking of Flying Time

Holy Smokes, our last post was way back in early March and we were still hanging just north of Las Vegas. As I mentioned then we were heading north the next day and that is exactly what we did, the first night we stayed in an old favourite spot enjoying the hospitality of the Shoshone Bannock folks near Fort Hall, Idaho. The next day we stopped for groceries in Helena and then headed for the border and stayed at the little campground just on the south side of Milk River, Alberta. The border crossing was uneventful and we just cruised right through it.

The next day we headed for Dogpound North early, so that we arrived home on the frost. That probably helped a little but there was a pile of snow and we had a tough day of it getting our big rig off the road and parked. We were stuck a couple of times and luckily our old dually was behind us so we were able to get ourselves extracted from the snow banks. Lots of snow here this spring.

We had a little snow around these parts

But it does make for pretty pictures

 As I said before the old John Deere was not doing well so I had a neighbour who has a small contracting firm come up and move enough snow around to enable us to get the rig hooked back up and taken in to get some warranty work done on it near the end of March. The snow lasted well into April so we just hunkered down and stayed warm. Well, that and I resumed swimming, a few days a week.

May came and went, Brenda and her girls headed to Vegas on the long weekend for a little girl time and then towards the end of the month we ran up to Alliance to an old friends daughters graduation. It was a great time, although hard to believe that Jessika is all grown up now.

A few of the folks who were there to celebrate Jessika's Grad.
The snow eventually left and summer came.

June came and went in a flash, only one thing of note I guess. Those of you who have seen us over the last year or so know that we were pulling a Road Warrior toyhauler and after we sold our Dogpound South spot it became our winter home. Brenda found it an uncomfortable rig for her and I won't bore you with its shortcomings so we started looking at another camper for this upcoming winter. Late in June we closed a deal on a Grand Design 384GK so we now have a new home to move south when the time comes.

New Rig Grand Design Solitude 384GK

We have had a busy July, beginning with the long weekend when Brenda's Sister/Friend Cheryl and one of her daughters came and camped at Dogpound North for the weekend. That was followed by a visit from some of our Arizona riding friends who had been touring the Rockies, riding and camping. There were four living quarters trailers with 3 mules, 5 horses, a miniature donkey, a mini horse, 7 dogs, 3 cats and 7 folks. We enjoyed visiting with them and took the opportunity to show them a little bit of our part of Alberta, both Peyto Lake and Lake Louise, must sees for first time visitors to Canada and Dogpound North. Then we had the Bryden kids campout, an annual gathering of Becky and Lacey's cousins and a few others. That had, I think 7 campers, with 14 adults and 10 or so kids, so our population here at Dogpound North has consistently been higher than downtown Dogpound itself.

Brenda has been troubled with a spinal issue that flares up her CRPS and her doctor sent her for Cortisone shots hoping to get some relief. Not successful.

We decided we needed to get our new rig out and give it a little shakedown so we headed west to Preachers Point to try it out. It was pretty busy out there, busier than I have ever seen it before, but I guess it is mid-summer and the week before a long weekend to boot so probably no surprise to others.

Just a little down the road from Preachers Point

For August I spent a couple of days helping get our hay put up but that is all the excitement we have had so far.

Time is flying by, here it is mid September and I thought I should get this entry up to date, our new rig is in the shop, getting a few things fixed. That is pretty common with new outfits, whatever the brand, it seems like you need to spend the first year ironing out all the bugs. This time it is getting a few things that were identified on the walk through completed. And one that we found on our shakedown cruise. With about 500 kilometers on it I noticed the braking action was not what it should be. Normally on our truck, trailer brakes run at around 7.0 to 7.5 on the controller, that gives us as much braking effect as we can get without locking up the wheels on the pavement. On our return from Preachers Point I had to crank it up to 10.5 or 11.0 to get any braking at all, and even then it was nowhere near where I like it to be. This is not an uncommon issue on these rigs it appears that the seals occasionally let grease through and it coats the brake drums and shoes. Kind of defeats the purpose of applying the brakes. Grand Design is looking after it for us, but strangely they are sending the shoes and backing plates all the way from Indiana, guess they think that here in Alberta we are a remote and lonely place. I never like having the rig in the shop for extended visits but we aren't using it, nor were we planning to so this is a good time. I am sure they are working on it diligently though, as they know I am not a patient customer.

It has been a pretty smokey summer here at DPN what with most of British Columbia being on fire and us being downwind. It seems like we have not seen much blue sky around these parts although until a week or two ago it was warm enough. We could sure use a little moisture though, our hay is all in but it would sure help next year.

Early on in this many month long journal entry I mentioned that our old John Deere was feeling poorly, well, the diagnosis is she is dead, needs basically a new engine and John Deere tells me they are obsolete. Hard to believe that they don't stock 50-60 year old engines. That led us on a search for a new engine here and we found that down the road in the form of an International 1086. It is a much bigger tractor than the old 4020 much more horsepower although I am not sure we needed anymore. It does have a cab and I am sure Matt will find that and it's accompanying heater a bonus on his road clearing and horse feeding chores this winter. It is a little taller though and doesn't fit in our barn, but so far we have been keeping it in the Quonset Hut and hopefully with a little rearranging we will still be able to fit everything under cover.

Our new Cornbinder

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Time Flies

While other than our misguided adventure to see the IRS it has been a while since I updated our travels. Last time I wrote we were in Gila Bend on our way to Foothills over near Yuma.

We ran over there and did a little moochdocking with our friends Angela and Don Ritter. Their landlord allowed us to avail ourselves of the extra spot in his yard so we had a good 3-night visit, including a day trip down to Algodones for lunch one day.

We had our rig washed and waxed while we were in Foothills so when we pulled out we were gleaming in the sunshine. We intended to head over to Ogilby Road just west of Yuma for a couple of weeks but it seems that the BLM folks were telling those already there that they had to move out in a day or so, so we headed north to our favourite spot NE of Quartzsite. We spent pretty near the entire month of February there and were joined for a time by Skip and Jean and the legendary Wandering Willy, and even had a short visit from Ivan and Hailey. Kim and Wendy Johnson also stopped by as they were wandering their way south and west towards California.

A month is a long time to spend even in that perfect spot so we reluctantly hooked up and headed north looking for another spot to while away the winter. We popped into Telephone Cove up near Laughlin but that road didn't look all that conducive to a rig our size meandering down it, so after a short visit with Ivan while he changed a tire alongside of it we headed back up and hooked up and headed north.

That night we ended up in the Sam's Town KOA and experience we won't soon repeat. It was pretty close quarters kind of like sleeping in a sardine can with neighbours so close you could swear you were hearing their stomachs growling and other less pleasant bodily functions.

One night was it and we headed north out of Vegas looking for wide open spaces. About a week ago we arrived here at Snowbird Mesa/Poverty Flats just out of Overton, Nevada. Overton/Logandale are nice little towns and have most services you could need except for a laundromat.

The view just a short half mile from our campsite here at Poverty Flats

A desert oasis and spring along the side of Lake Mead

Also in Lake Mead NRA, they tell me those were Sand Dunes at one time

The Logandale Trails wind their way through these Red Rocks

We did run back into North Las Vegas last Sunday and had a great visit with our long-time RV'ing friends Randy and Sue Beck, folks from North Pole, Alaska who we first met in Nashville, Tn when we began this adventure way back in the fall of 2007. We have kept in touch and crossed paths a few time since then but always love to see this couple on our travels.

That missing element I mentioned, the laundromat, is driving us to head for a little-used laundry room that we know about so later today we will be loading Blue II and prepping to make a run for the Medicine Line. Hope I have some clean socks waiting at Dogpound North.

Matt has been working the last two weekends trying to get the snow cleared off our road so we are hoping with his hard work and a little chinook weather the road to Dogpound North will be passable in a few days when we make the turn off of Range Road 41. We are big and that road is small and our old John Deere has been giving Matt a little trouble so wish us luck.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Have a Snickers!!

Yesterday Brenda and I continued our quest to make sure we were following the rules and dealing with our house sale in a proper way. Although we are Canadians and pay our taxes with pride back home, we owned a property here in Arizona and when we sold it we thought since we made some money on the transaction we had better make sure we were onside with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) here in the States.

We gathered all our papers, receipts, lists and other documentation together and headed into a tax preparer just down the road in Parker. He took all our information, pumped it into the system and out the other end came a Non-Resident Alien Tax Return. So far so good, it actually appears we don't owe any Federal Tax but do owe something to the Great State of Arizona.

Like back in Canada you need a number, SIN/SSN, specifically for us Non-Resident Aliens an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Our tax preparer figured that out and filled out that form for us as well. Well, it appears to receive that number we have to send our passports to the IRS and wait for them to verify them, then return them to us. Homeland Security and the Border Patrol folks want us to vacate the country before we reach six months and to do that we need our passports. Catch 22 eh!

No problem though there is a workaround, you just need to send a certified copy of your passport in and you can keep the actual physical document. The only catch is there are very few folks who are qualified to certify your passport. No problem though we looked at the list and found out that the Taxpayer Assistance Office in Yuma is one of the places you can go to get 'er done.

I jumped on the phone and made an appointment to see the ITIN passport certifying person yesterday in Yuma, apparently they only do that particular task on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

So, as I said, yesterday we loaded up the mutts and headed 2 and a half hours south to the Yuma office for an 11:15AM appointment. They told us we had to be there at 11:00, so in my normal fashion, we arrived about 10:30 in lots of time to let the dogs out for a walk and be there 15 minutes early anyway.

So we wandered into the office at 10:45AM. The armed security guard in the office had to rifle through Brenda's purse looking for, I guess an assault rifle or something, and I had to run back out to the truck to leave my pocket knife there. The waiting room was full of folks, most in the same situation as us, needing their passports verified so they can file their tax returns.

The way the office is set up and with the strident voice of the IRS official it is easy to hear everything going on in her private office, so we were wondering how this was going to go long before it was our turn. The folks in front of us left and the lady stopped by the security guard and told him "now I understand why you checked my purse".

About 45 minutes late the IRS lady came storming out of her office into the waiting room and said: "I am tired of wasting my time so 'what are you here for'". We told her we need our passports certified and without even looking at our papers she declared that she wouldn't do it as she wasn't trained in our issue. Seemed simple to me tax our completed application, make a certified copy, and I was even led to believe I could drop off my completed return with her.

Meanwhile, while she is ranting at us about us not understanding the tax code another person entered the waiting room and was standing there watching the whole episode. At that point, Brenda, probably wisely, left the room, probably just before telling this woman just where the bear shit in the buckwheat. Those who know about my last jobs know I am pretty used to folks losing their poop and I thought I could work through whatever was bugging her and makes some sense out of her ranting.

Dreamer eh! She started pulling pamphlets off the shelf and stuffing them in my face and telling me to read them and I could study the tax code at on the internet and when I was familiar with the tax code I could come back and file my return.

Having this diminutive Hispanic lady jumping up and down in front of me while I sat quietly in the waiting room haranguing me about my apparent lack of understanding of the tax code was a little disconcerting but in retrospect quite entertaining.

I confess although I routinely manage to file my own Canadian taxes without issue I am not well versed in the US Tax Code, hence why we hired a professional to do our American taxes.

It did become apparent to me that this woman was not in the Tax Assistance office to actually assist folks she was there to punch the clock and my suspicion, borne out by her statement that I was her last appointment of the day, and the young lady and baby watching with great interest waiting for her lunch date.

A little frustrating but interesting to see how the process works, I decided that my time would be better spent out walking the dogs and thanked the lady and the guard at the door for their time and said if anyone from the IRS decided they actually needed all these forms I would keep them on file for them.

I may just have discovered why the USA is running a 20 some trillion dollar deficit, they make it almost impossible for folks to pay their taxes. We do owe a small amount to Arizona, but are told without the Individual Tax Identification Number we will be unable to pay them. I think I will just send them my check and their return with a covering letter explaining that apparently I am unqualified to get that ITIN, so if they really need it before they can cash the check they will have to deal with the IRS.

Us, we are heading back out to the hinterlands and won't bug the IRS anymore.

Oh, back to the title, there are a great series of "Snickers" commercials that deal with the "hangry" issues, I am thinking Mr. Trump should spring for a box of Snickers for each of his ironically named "Taxpayer Assistance Offices"

Friday, February 2, 2018

Where Have We Been

Well we pulled out of our last spot a couple weeks ago and headed back to our old stomping grounds around Maricopa. We spent a night at Gila Bend filling what needed filling and emptying what needed emptying and then invaded a friends yard in Thunderbird Farms.

Brenda had an appointment with her Doc back north of the Medicine Line so I fired up the old Buick and dropped her at Sky Harbor and she was off with Westjet for the northern ranges. Once she was on her way to pups and I were on our own for almost a week so we spent a little time wandering the desert, hitting the mill down the road to restock our firewood supply and of course a visit to Costco to pick up a few necessities.

After a couple of day of moochdocking at Lorrie and Trish's place it was time to hit the road. I headed to an old favourite spot east of Gold Canyon near Picket Post mountain. I can sit and watch this mountain all day as it is constantly changing throughout the day.

Picket Post Mountain
We didn't spend the whole week watching the mountain though, we did take a spin down the Ray Road and back around through Christmas, Az to Globe. Lots of cool scenery on that scenic highway.

Queen Creek Bridge

Cool Cactus
 The moon was hanging in the sky most afternoons and I tried to capture it without a lot of success.

Daytime Moon 

And of course it is Arizona so there were pretty nice sunsets

Brenda came back a week or so ago and then she had some Calmare treatments for her CRPS scheduled for this week, so each day we ran into Gilbert and got that out of the way. To bad this treatment is not available back home as it seems to deal with her nerve pain quite well.

We did get to watch the full moon rising, It was a combination of a Blue Moon, a Super Moon, and the next morning was a full lunar eclipse so it ended with a Blood Moon. January's moon is called a Wolf Moon and February is a Snow Moon so I guess this must be a Snow Wolf Moon. Not much snow around here but I still remember what it looks like.

Blood Moon
This morning we hooked the truck up and wandered our way down through Florence, Coolidge, Casa Grande and here we are back in Gila Bend catching up on laundry and tank management before wandering a little farther west to see some friends from back in Canada.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

All Alone in the Desert

We headed away from the crowds in California and headed for our all time favourite boondocking spot. We tend to like a little space around us, and Max and Maya love to be able to be off leash at our spot, which they are not able to do if we are surrounded by other rigs in close proximity. Our nearest neigbour is probably a five or six hundred yards away and that suits us just fine. Them too I bet.

We have made a couple of trips into Parker, one for groceries and one for Brenda to get her hair cut and me to pop by the La Paz hospital to let them practice sticking needles and sampling my blood. That keeps my doc back in Canada happy and me ticking. Just a heads up though, it cost exactly 5 times as much to get my blood drawn there as it does to do it at my old regular spot Sonora Quest Labs, but on the positive side they had the results fax to the Doc within the hour. While in their our second time this train crossed in front of us, it is the Arizona and California Railroad.

Other than that we have just chilled here at our spot, with the exception of taking the UTV on a run over to the dump to get rid of our accumulated garbage.

Today I took a spin over Plomosa Road to attend a Meet-up of folks who follow Olivia and Kyle Brady and their Drivin' and Vibin' group, the Vibe Tribe they call us. As I got down Plomosa to the BLM camping area this is the site that greeted me, wall to wall RV's.

Way more neighbours than I want to have

As usual with RV'ers there was a lot of commonality in the group although the ages were widely divergent, and not a frown in the bunch. Check out their blog at this link "Drivin' and Vibin" and their Youtube channel for some great video's.

Kyle and Olivia from Drivin' and Vibin'
And of course Arizona has some great sunsets

Monday, January 8, 2018

California in our Rear View Mirror

Sunrise at Ogilby Road

Sunday morning we packed out stuff and headed west, well a little north and then west across the Imperial Dunes. We were heading to Borrego Springs a place we have never been. We pulled into the Arco station on Highway 78 just as we turned west to Borrego and dumped our tanks and filled with fresh water. They have four dump lanes here but only one was working properly so things were a little hectic on a Sunday afternoon. Folks were filling their tanks with the water at the dumpsite but I am always a little leery about those taps and went looking for some marked "potable". They were well away from the dump lanes. Our rig has a big tank so it takes a while to fill it and it is always nice not to have to entertain all the folks behind you in the line so out of the way is good.

After dumping and filling we headed west for Rockhouse Road. We have heard about this spot from other RV'ers and figured it was a good place to spend some time. Once we got there we found that a lot of other folks who had heard about Borrego Springs had also heard about Rockhouse Road, We rolled up the rolled three or four miles until we were long gone from phone coverage and deep in the valley before we found a spot almost big enough to turn our rig around. After tearing up the road surface and then having to fill the ruts we had made in the sand we trooped our way back to the area where everyone else was parked. Another look confirmed what we had figured on our first cruise through, there were way more rigs and way less space than we are used to. A command decision was called for and a conference called, it was decided that America's most populous state was way to crowded for Dogpound Anywhere so we headed into town spun around Christmas Circle and then waved adios to Borrego Springs. We found a spot on a cliff just above Ocotillo Wells to spend the night.

The view from our doorstep last night

This morning we loaded up and headed for Indio this morning, where we met up with my Uncle Brent and Aunt Helen and enjoyed a great breakfast and then headed back to their place for a visit. It was good to catch up and Brenda had a jar of Buffalo Creek Ranch Saskatoon jam that was made from berries on Uncle Brents place, but we forgot to leave it, so I guess he will just have to believe me when I say it was great.

Aunt Helen and Uncle Brent taken by Brenda

After our visit we headed back east and climbed out of the Coachella Valley and headed for an old favourite spot. Nice to be here the nearest rig is pretty near a half mile away and the view is great. Good to be back in the land of Arizona sunsets and sunrises.

Not another rig in sight

Ogilby Road Sunset

Monday, January 1, 2018

Desert Days

Lewis's left yesterday so we have just chilled for two days. The two days we spent wandering around Los Algodones took a toll on Brenda and her muscles are revolting so for the next few days we are just going to take it easy here. I have taken a spin around the neighbourhood on Blue II and the dogs have been snooping in the washes near camp, but with their new collars they seem to have recalled that when they are to far from home they get in trouble. Nice to be able to stop them from dashing off to get into mischief or run out in front of a vehicle although out here most vehicles are moving pretty slow, so as not to raise a cloud of dust near each others camps.

Skip and Jean and their Boston Bulls, Louis and Sophie, I think stopped by for a visit this morning and then the rest of the day I spent reading. Late in the afternoon a fellow, Bill Cash, stopped by to ask about our lifestyle and I told him it was a pretty free and stress free existence, probably only available for the most part in the Western parts of Canada and the USA.

Here are a few more pics of Los Algodones that we took while we were down there.

You can get your drugs and your vanilla all in the same store.

Not sure what kind of electrical system is down here but it seems kind of freestyle.

Happy New Year to one and all.