Friday, April 24, 2009

Birthday Girl

So here are a few shots of our Grandaughter Madison, she celebrated her 8th birthday yesterday and came out to spend the weekend at the farm with her mom, Michelle, and my son Matt. We went for a walk and she was practising getting across the Texas gates on the farm road.
Here she comes on the run with Meg to meet Grandpa.

Happy Birthday Madison

No Word of a Lie!

From the comments on our previous post I thought I'd bring you a glimpse of why we always come home. The shot below is off of the deck on the front of our house.Sure you have to have a little snow and cold in your life once in a while because to paraphrase "Into every life a little snow must fall." And it does make for pretty pictures.

This one is for Dortha, shot from our kitchen window.

A shot from our doorside porch

And another off of our front deck.

and the pictures may be able to explain better why we hurried home to enjoy the 12F degree temperatures the last couple of days. Oh well, it will warm up for summer, the fifth Wednesday in July.......LOL.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Down on the Farm

We arrived home on Saturday the 18th of April after a windy drive across southern Alberta. The previous post has the details of our last day on the road and some pictures of the kids and grandkids that were here to meet us. I am not sure how often I will post to the blog while we are here but am thinking that once a week is all that you will be able to stand. We have a lot of things to get done around the old homestead this spring and summer but the highlights will probably be enough to keep you sleeping well at night. Brenda of course started cleaning almost the minute the bus stopped rolling and here two days later she has stopped for a breather. I help carry stuff from the rig into the house and tried to do some of my own stuff in between the freight trips. Yep, for those unbelievers I have stuff to do myself. The fact that most of mine looks like a lot more fun than the stuff Brenda does is really just an optical illusion or maybe a matter of perception. Sunday the kids had us down to their trailer for breakfast so there goes my diet again, I had just finished my healthy bowl of Cheerios when the girls got up here and told us that there was bacon, eggs and pancakes being served down by the barn. So what the heck two breakfasts never hurt anyone, did they? And we are starting a Weight Watchers diet tomorrow so I better stock up…..LOL. After breakfast Matt and I fixed the rototiller so that he can continue tilling his new garden and then the girls reminded me that I had promised to let them brush the horses and maybe do some riding. Now the brushing is not a problem this time of year as anyone who has horses knows, you can brush steady for a month and never really get it all done. There was a winters worth of tartles in some of the manes that took me a long time to get combed out, and then the girls thought they should spend some time “training” the horses. This pretty much amounted to them trying to drag the horses around while the horses resisted and ate the green grass in the yard. Oh well it kept them amused for awhile so I had time to work on some of those tartles. Once the “training” was done I thought they should set up on them bareback for a while so that they get used to the sensation of moving on those animals without the benefit of a saddle to hang on to. As they haven’t been ridden since last September I was pretty much hands on with this riding exercise but everyone had a good time and the kids seemed to enjoy themselves. Once that was done we turned the horses back out into the pasture. Around supper time the kids and grandkids got themselves packed up and headed back to the city and we were all alone here at the farm.
Monday we hauled some more stuff in from the motorhome and then Brenda decided that enough was enough and she “needed” to get into Walmart in Airdrie. I stayed home and once again brought my remuda into the yard to do a little work. More tartles to remove and once again some brushing. I even managed to get Hank and Rosie saddled and did some spins around the yard. After a winter of standing around being pasture ornaments they were a little surprised that I had the affront to ask them to go off away from their friends and spend a little one on one time with me. Hank as usual has a little attitude and can be stubborn when it comes time to leave the herd, but after a little “horse whispering” we came to an agreement on who was going to call the shots on this team. He is a fun horse to ride, without a mean bone in his body, but can be a little stubborn at times. We’ll work on that the next few days. Rosie was her usual calm and quiet self once we agreed that we weren’t going to spend the afternoon standing beside her friends. Nothing here that I didn’t expect after not working them for 6-7 months. A couple of weeks from now the world will be a more orderly place and they will be back to their cooperative selfs.
Of course it is not all horses and kids here, we don’t get our mail forwarded so there was a pile of that to open and go through. No matter how well you think you have it organized there is always something unexpected that pops up and needs to be attended to right away. Well really, it is probably overdue a couple of months. What with the mail and getting the phones back up to speed I had some faxing and phoning to do this morning. Geez I hate those voicemail thingy’s, push 1 for help, push 2 for better help, push 0 for really fast help……., reminds me of one of our airlines here in Canada, WestJet, they have a little different corporate culture than many and think all things don’t have to be serious to get things done correctly. There phone message tells you they will be right with you but if you really need something to do push 3 for customer service, they won’t be there any quicker but you will have something to do while you wait. They also tell jokes on the airplanes while they are doing the safety briefings. No one said safety can’t be fun and I think people actually pay better attention to them if they do it with a light hearted manner.
Tuesday was a day for working in the yard, after my morning walk I headed into town and bought a load of fertilizer. Rumour has it that it will snow here tomorrow so I thought I’d get some fertilizer down to get the lawn greened up a little earlier. Must have walked at least another 2 miles back and forth across that expanse of grass. Makes me wonder why I didn’t make the paddocks bigger and the lawn smaller. Managed to get some time to run the generator in the camper and make sure everything there was ready for a trip to the mountains next month. Now what about those taxes, oh well they are not due for 7 or 8 days.
Wednesday Brenda headed up to Rocky Mountain House to see our daughter Lacey and Brenda’s brother Brent. She has a lot of running around to do there so I opted to stay “down on the farm”. Tomorrow she and Brent are coming back down here and we need to do some furniture shopping on Friday. Oh yah, the rumours are true, there is snow out there. About 2 inches so far but that is not surprising for this time of year. It will disappear fast and the moisture will help the grass get a kick start. My son Matt and my granddaughter Madison were out today after school as he needed to start the heater in his trailer to fend off this last hurrah of Old Man Winter. Heather I sure hope you missed this and caught that plane to Maui just as the first flakes were falling.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


We left Moose Jaw this morning at 6:00AM with the bit in our teeth and home as our final destination for the day. It was 481 miles and into the teeth of an Alberta gale all the way. We have travelled 7081 miles on this trip, barn to barn, and probably averaged somewhere around 8 miles to the gallon, but today with the wind it was more like 3.5. But after an expensive Canadian fuel stop at Medicine Hat we keep charging along and arrived home around 2:30 PM.

Here is a shot of Brenda and her dog Meg.

When we came down the road to the farm there to greet us was our son Matt, his girl Michelle and our grandaughters Claire and Madison. Matt has been at the farm all week as they are planting a garden here this summer so they have their trailer set up in the yard.

Once we got the rig set up in it's unloading spot beside the house we headed back down to help supervise the garden work. Seems like they can get it all done with my supervision and seeing as how I have never had a garden myself I will just enjoy eating the fruits of their labours.

Above is the whole crew other than the supervisor/photographer and below is the actual working part of the outfit.

Here the girls are modeling a little "down on the farm Haute Coutre" in front of the barn, for our Texas friends that is a fancy French phrase for the latest in farm fashion.

Here is Grandma enjoying a little loving from the grandgirls.

And here is a final shot of the motorhome setting by the house ready to be unloaded and then off to the Quonset for a well deserved rest, and maybe a trip back to our dealer for some sprucing up and repairs on a few items.

And for those who are wondering it will green up around here but that is a few weeks away yet.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Yep that really is the name of a town, quite a nice one actually. I have it on good authority in spite of what this website says that it's name is derived from a Cree Indian phrase that meant "I have no idea why you stopped here either". But nevertheless that is where we are tonight, with any luck at all we will be home tomorrow. Today we had a shorter day only traveled 268 miles, our shortest yet. We have been to Saskatchewan before as you can see from the attached photo but that time the grass was greener, but there was also more snow than this time. Spring is in the air or at least the snow geese are, there are thousands of them along the road resting on their journey to their Arctic nesting grounds.

Many folks will be wondering about our border crossing, well we made it, with our shrimp and even with some butter. Apparently the fact that Brenda is a well known butter importer did not register until we had left the crossing. And wouldn't you know it she didn't have much with her this time. We are planning on heading towards the Maritimes and the US NE in mid-August so we won't need a lot to last us through the four months we will be home.

And here is a shot of the giant moose that welcomes folks to Moose Jaw.

Now here is real proof that we are really back in Canada. These are on all the street corners and you can get a good honest cup of coffee for a decent price, none of that mocalattefrappcrappa stuff here. Just good coffee and of course a donut to help you enjoy it. And you don't need to mortgage the house to be able to entertain yourself and your friends here. And if you ever find one of these coffee shops without a car in the Drive Thru get a photo, nobody will believe you.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Big Trouble

Today we headed out of Yankton, South Dakota towards Jamestown, North Dakota a drive of around 330 miles. Just about right to keep me in Brenda's good books. Should have been there about 1:00PM. Along the way we found this sign and another state we had never been to together. That about covers what I would call the western states although there are still a few west of the Mississippi and in the East that we need to see.

But as you all know RV'ers plans are cast in Jello. After about 180 miles of perfect driving weather, cool and a south wind right on our tail pushing us along we had a high temperature warning. Got every thing stopped and checked around, lots of coolant, no belt issues and as we sat it cooled off pretty good. So we started limping along keeping a close eye on the temperature while phoning ahead to find a Cummins dealer. Well to make a long story short the problem seemed to go resolve itself about the same time we got a Cummins dealer in Minot, North Dakota to agree to have a look at it tomorrow morning first thing. Acts like the thermostat was hung up as for the last couple of hundred miles we were bucking a wind and moving right along with no heating issues at all. Hmmmmm, well we'll see what tomorrow morning brings. As we drove a long I saw a few things I didn't like, first the photo below shows a lot of snow still hanging around up here. And some of the lakes were still frozen over and a few of them had puzzled looking geese standing on the ice looking around, probably thinking about what they are going to do to Al Gore's (global warming) golf course next time they head south.

Oh yah, the big trouble, Brenda really doesn't like to travel much more than 300 miles in a day and we kind of stretched it to get to the Cummins facility here in Minot with a total of 499 today. That still puts us about 750 miles from home but God Willing and the creeks don't rise we should cross the border tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Day 3 on the Northern Trek

Today we added a new state to our map and revisited one we have visited before, although we have the picture below that says welcome to Nebraska, it was taken in 2003 and we just darted over from Missouri to get a picture at Brownsville, Nebraska and then headed back to the Interstate to continue our drive north. So to make it real we took a drive through Nebraska today. Although we have given both Nebraska and Kansas a little bit of short shrift on this trip they both appear to be pretty nice country. The parts we drove through were pretty good agricultural land and there were lots of trees and windbreaks in evidence so it was a pretty pastoral scene that we were part of. There was a pretty strong crosswind for the entire drive today but the Powerbridge chassis that Freightliner has under our Discovery handled it quite nicely. We manage to travel right along with the smaller outfits and seem to have less problems than some other rigs. Here is the real shot we took today. Same beautiful co-pilot just a little different hairdo.

And below a shot from our last trip to South Dakota, the aforementioned old friend, to complete the set for today. We are staying at the Corps of Engineers "Cottonwood Campground" just west of Yankton, South Dakota. We managed to stake out a site without to many trees so our Star Choice dish is working here and the air card is keeping us on the net. There are campsites on both sides of the river here so whether you want to stay in South Dakota or go south to Nebraska the choice is yours. One nice surprise, apparently these sites are open all winter, with only power of course as the water is shut off, but until tomorrow they are free. After that I think with 30 Amp power they are $16.00.

Tomorrow we will continue our trip north across South Dakota and probably make it into North Dakota somewhere. That will put us on a schedule that should see us home sometime on Sunday.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Still Heading North

Today we left the Winstar Casino near Thackerville, Oklahoma and headed north about 7:00AM. Yep Deb there is a sunrise in the morning and we saw it. It was an uneventful drive up I-35 through Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kansas where we changed to I-135 to continue heading straight north to Salina, Kansas. We have been here, in the KOA, since about 2:00PM after covering 379 miles today. We had to get our laundry caught up and an early day was in the plan.

We have been watching the weather ahead of us with a lot of interest. It appears that it is likely there will be snow in Wyoming and Montana by the time we were to get there. Now that is not in the plan so like all good RV'ers we will change the plan and run pretty near straight north to the Canadian border. That should have us avoiding the worst of the weather and we'll drive home through the Saskatchewan sunshine rather than that cool NW US snow. It does add a few miles to our route though so instead of 2357 it is now 2381 miles to our gate. Well worth it to miss the snow. Also we'll be able to take advantage of the fact that Dennis and Denice will be a day or so ahead of us on the same route. That said our plans as always are cast in Jello so as we go we will adapt. The shot below will give an idea of the new route. Although we have never been to Kansas before we have a few friends here so Mac, Lynette, Rod and Loyce consider yourself waved at as we head north.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Texas in Our Rearview Mirror

Today we headed north and when we head north we get moving. We are now in Oklahoma at Joe's favourite spot, the Winstar Casino. That puts us 433 miles into a journey of 2357 miles. We let all our friends and readers know we were heading towards Fort Worth and lo and behold, Sheri left town, Joe went to work (he said) and Mark and Dortha headed for the East Coast or somewhere. Want your town cleared out, give us a call. No really we had a great day and will certainly miss all our Texan friends. And anybody who is wondering why the big traffic tie-up in I-35W south of Fort Worth, well we just had to get that picture of us above setting in the Blue Bonnets, sorry about tieing up the city but you know how it is. Tonight we went into the Stone Ranch room at the Casino to have our dinner. I had the Chicken Fried Steak, first time I have ever had that, and it was huge, the steak covered the whole plate by itself so I ate about half, Brenda had a few bites and we still have enough for our lunch tomorrow. Oh yah, and Brenda did contribute some money to the coffers of this establishment so we will not feel guilty about parking in their lot for the evening for free.

The map below has our tentative route on it. We are hoping to make Salina, Kansas tomorrow night.

Oh yah, Joe we started dropping Oreo cookie crumbs along the road where I-35E & W become I-35N again so you should be able to follow us right to our farm gate.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The route

Monday morning we begin our long journey home. It is a 2357 mile trip from our spot here at the Last Resort in Rockport to the gate at our farm near Cremona, Alberta. We will take pretty near a week to make the journey and are sure hoping the weather is going to cooperate. This has been a great trip this winter and we have met a lot of incredible people and made some friends that will last a long time. We are already planning our travels for next winter, God willing and the creeks don’t rise. The shot below is our entire travels for this 2008-2009 winter season. By the time we get home we will have traveled an incredible 7,072 miles with our new motorhome since we headed off over the Rockies last October 24th.

We are planning on hitting the road early and will try to get somewhere up around Fort Worth by tomorrow night.

Homeward Bound

This morning we headed out early and picked up another 20 pounds of shrimp and a dozen crabs for Rollie and Gina to take back to Houston with them. While Gina and I removed the faces from the shrimp Rollie cooked the crab, or at least tried, one of them made a break for it and was halfway across the campground by the time he was recaptured.

But eventually he met his destiny, as a snack for Gina, she does love her crab meat.

Once they got the crabs all cooked up we headed downtown for some Mexican food, but the Mexican folks obviously were home celebrating Easter as the restaurant was closed. We continued on to Alice Fay's restaurant and all took a break from our seafood binge and chowed down on Cheeseburgers. Now let me tell you these guys know how to make a Cheeseburger, it had all the trimmings, even some MYanaise, and must have been a half pound of meat at least all in a homemade hamburger patty and a great bun. Best bread we have eaten since we crossed the Medicine Line almost 6 months ago.

Once we got done gorging ourselves on those great Cheeseburgers we came back to the camp and Rollie and Gina proceeded to get their rig ready for travel. Once they were hooked up and had the pups loaded into the truck it was time to head out. Here is Angel wondering when they are going to get going and get done with all the goodbyes.

It is sad to see our friends head off but they have to get back to work and we will see them again next winter, till then travel safely and Vaya Con Dios.

And here is a shot of a butterfly that Rollie and Gina had for Brenda. Anybody who knows Brenda knows she collects butterflies and this is her first Texas one. Thanks a bunch guys this means a lot to her.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Faces for Supper

Today we had dinner with Rollie and Gina and although we cooked and cleaned it on our patio it was all their baby. They took us down to the dock and we bought a bunch (like 40 lbs) of shrimp and a dozen blue crabs for the main course.

We picked up some veggies, yep back to the HEB, and then headed home to DEface all the food. Regular readers know that Brenda doesn't like to eat anything with a face on it. So Gina, Rollie and I removed all the faces in preparation for the dinner.

Rollie was actually the chief cook for this operation and he brought his big pot and burner over.

We cooked those dozen crabs for a kind of appetizer, now they are scrumptious but I really do think you use more calories getting into them than they actually provide in nourishment. Hey, maybe that could be a new diet, All You Can Eat Crab, Losing while you Eat!

For those from the West Coast these Blue Crabs appear to be a little smaller than the Dungeness but just as tasty. Gina definitely can get into them pretty fast, I'm not sure if she does it as fast as my brother Brent does the Dungeness but she is definitely pretty quick.

Now the veggies were the highlight. Rollie boiled potatoes, corn, and whole onions in the pot with some crab boil and boy I am not sure I can ever eat the old regular kind again. These had kick to them.

I just thought I better mention we didn't eat all forty pounds of shrimp. We have frozen 30 for Brenda to try and haul across the border. Wait for the shrimp story to take the place of the butter banditry next year. What a great meal with great company though. I have even been learning a little Louisanaese over the last couple of days so now I know I like my tomato sandwiches with MYannaise as opposed to that boring old Canadian Mayonaise.

Friday, April 10, 2009

USS Lexington

We spent today touring the USS Lexington just off Corpus Christi beach. It is a WWII carrier that served until decommissioned in 1991. For more information go here. We were fortunate to be able to tour the carrier with our friends Rollie and Gina, Rollie is a retired US Navy sailor (Senior Chief) and although he served mostly on destroyers he was able to give us a lot of information that we would have missed if we had not had him along. Here is a picture of Brenda and I at the entrance to the ship. And here is one of the planes (F-14) that the Navy used to fly.

Now any of you that know Gina know she collects rocks on her travels and she is now trying to figure out how to get Rollie to get one of these off the breakwater for her.

A ship coming under the bridge coming from Corpus Christi.

And here is a shot of our hosts on this tour Rollie and Gina. The plane behind them is the same type John McCain was flying when he was shot down over Hanoi and captured to start 5 1/2 years as a POW.

After we left the Lexington we ran into Corpus Christi to once again have dinner at the Olive Garden and then do a little shopping at the HEB Plus in there. We got to watch Gina select just the right watermelon and picked up a few things we needed. We always seem to need something from HEB. We're going to miss those HEB stores when we leave Texas. And the day wouldn't be complete without a little more eating so we all had a generous helping of still warm brownies and CHOCOLATE ice cream to hold us through the

Big Boys Back in Town

Now that is a tow vehicle. Our friends Rollie and Gina came down from Houston to spend the weekend in Rockport with us. As you can see Rollie likes to make sure he has an adequate tow vehicle to get around in. And you know what, it seems to handle that fifth wheel just like it wasn't even there. They have moved into site 103 right next door to us. Brenda put together another of her great meals for us, and I even got to participate a little. Managed to blacken the ribs more than requested so it is probably another year or two of banishment from the kitchen for me. Oh well, the eating part is what I am best at so as they say "Do What you Do Best, and let someone else do the rest."

It is another nice day here in Rockport and we are going to head off and visit the Lexington a retired US Navy Aircraft Carrier and who better to tour us around than a Retired Sailor. Hopefully I will be able to get some pictures to share with you from that adventure.