Posts Tagged ‘Fifth-wheel life’

Ohhh, Canada!

Sunday, April 23, when we crossed the border into Canada, seems so long ago as of today, Wednesday, April 26.  We were told by several people that crossing the border can be a long and tedious process.  We arrived at Abbotsford border crossing and were through in less than 5 minutes.  I guess we looked ‘old and harmless’ and we were.  We had learned that though we have the right to own firearms in the U.S., taking them into Canada so we could have them in Alaska, was nearly impossible.  So, though we might need them as campground hosts for bears and who knows what else or to use them at the shooting range by our daughter’s home, we had to leave them in the states.  So, no firearms, no ammo, and they didn’t ask about fruits and veggies that were already bagged for easy confiscation.

Because I mis-read the map, we missed our turn off onto the Trans-Canada Hwy 1 and ended up on Hwy 7, a much smaller road and much more difficult to maneuver our truck and trailer.  To review our options, we pulled into a Safeway parking lot which was not really meant for vehicles our size and though we made it out, it was an adventure.  Meandering along Hwy 7 was a beautiful drive along the river, but made our journey longer and more stressful than we wanted.  We were so grateful to arrive in Hope, British Columbia and find the Wild Rose Campground where we still had a few hours of daylight to just ‘chill’.

Because our trip has had real trials, I am also going to add some of the ‘fun’ issues we have encountered with our trailer every time we stop somewhere for the night.  We do love our Primetime Forest River 5th-wheel Crusader, but they really could construct the interior with a little more attention to detail.   For example, while in Colorado, we had issues with the refrigerator, my clothes racks falling down, a leaking shower, a kitchen drawer falling apart, and missing parts for our water and sewer.  Those were manufacturer/seller errors, but there are also things that just happen while twisting, turning and bumping down freeways and over mountain passes.

While at Wild Rose, we decided to re-pack the storage areas under the trailer known as the basement and garage.  We removed everything and started over putting those items we use every day in a more accessible area and those we don’t in a less one.  Our neighbor thought we were having issues with our slide-outs and came over and visited.  He was heading in the same direction ‘home’ to Prince George from being a snowbird in Arizona.  We really loved his ‘accent’ and the ‘eh’ with everything!  😉

From Hope, we traveled north to Williams Lake where we decided to stop for gas.  We have learned several things about fueling in Canada.  One.  The stations with diesel that have HIGH, and I mean HIGH roofs over their pumps are called Card Locks.  This means that only commercial vehicles with the right cards can pump diesel at these stations.  We don’t have that card; we aren’t commercial.  Two.  The stations with diesel that we can use have roofs over the pumps that we either don’t fit under or we make it by a short foot or two.  It’s a harrowing experience and with everything written in meters, we are having to calculate in feet.  Yeah.   In Williams Lake, we stopped at one station that had a roof that was too short and we had to back up, make a wide turn in a small lot in order to get out.  Fun.  Then, we found one we thought we could fit under and I got out to watch my husband slowly pull under it.   A man sitting nearby on a bicycle said, “You can make it” and helped me guide my husband under and through.  Then, this ‘nice’ man wanted MONEY for his effort.  Really?  Warned by the woman working in the station that exiting the side we were heading, we would have a difficult time finding a turn around so we could return to the highway.  We had a lot of room in the station area and with a lot of guidance from me, my husband actually was able to back up, make a 90 degree turn with the truck and get us out of there.  My daughter says we are becoming professional – with the truck we are 63 feet long (you figure it out in meters!). 

We traveled only 10-20 miles further north before stopping at Whispering Willows. There were only two trailers there and the place was peaceful and quiet.  It was at this campground that my husband noticed the spare tire holder had bent and the tire was falling off.  Had we not had bicycles on the back end, we would have lost our spare tire.  With the help of a neighbor’s sledge hammer, the piece was sort of fixed and, along with several bungi cords, the tire is somewhat secure again. 

Quesnel, British Columbia

I highlight this place because it really will forever be a place of memory.  As we entered the town, we decided to park in a Walmart Parking lot, do a little shopping and then walk two blocks to a Tim Hortons coffee shop.  We had never had Tim Horton’s coffee and thought this would be a good time since parking our rig is always a challenge and the parking lot had places for big rigs.   We walked to the shop, ordered our coffee and two donuts (a real treat for us) and sat in the cafe and ate them. 

When we were almost back to our trailer, we saw a man with a pick-ax/pulouski type of object running from his car toward our trailer.  We weren’t sure what was happening until we heard a loud bang and then realized he was slashing our tires.  We began running toward the trailer and truck, but by the time we got there, he had slashed two tires on our trailer and was hitting one of the dualies on our truck.  We started yelling at him, and as he ran to his car, he yelled, “Get the F- out of here.  I hate the F-in United States.  You don’t belong here.  Get the F-out.  We are a cow town and don’t want you in our town. Get the F-out!” 

Shock.  My husband, in the midst of the shock, had the where-withal to take a photo of the back end of the man’s car as he drove away.  I read aloud the license plate so I could remember it, but when I looked at the tires, I forgot it.  A woman parked next to us with a horse trailer started yelling out the license plate number and I told her to mark it down as that was it.  Another man came running over and said that it was a silver Honda Civic.  As these two people came to help us, they told us to dial 9-11 and call the police. 

My husband was on the phone immediately.  About 10 minutes later another truck pulls up and says they saw the whole event and thought the man was going to attack us!  They decided to follow him and did for a while until they lost him in traffic.  By the time the Constable arrived, more people came by to tell us they saw the whole thing and would be witnesses. 

After we gave our statements, we called Fountain Tire. They were so ‘on top of it’ that they were in the parking lot  within a few minutes replacing our tires.  More people stopped by as word got around Walmart.  A little boy, with his mom, wanted to give us a hug and tell us to have a better day.  Someone stopped by and gave us a $25 gift card to Tim Horton’s coffee.  The customer service manager from Walmart came out to talk to us about the incident.  Another man told us to call the British Columbia insurance company to see if we could have a claim filed against the man.  (We can’t because the car didn’t do the damage, a human did.)   Two other women stopped by to tell us to keep receipts and claim the tax as we are from out of the country.  Everyone told us that this man did not represent Canadians and that Canadians love the United States. Most suggested he was probably on some sort of drugs. 

We have talked a lot about the incident between ourselves.  We have prayed for the perpetrator, a man in his 30s, 5’10”, dark hair and olive skin.*  He obviously had issues with the U.S. government that he felt he needed to take out on us.  We are grateful that he didn’t attack us, but our tires.  We are also thankful for all of the support from everyone.   We know that God is in control, has a plan, and for whatever reason, slowed us down that day.  As we continue traveling, having to get the tires re-torqued in one town, balanced in the next, re-torqued in the next, we are meeting a lot of people – people who are shocked by the behavior of one crazy man.  One woman who stopped said she was glad we weren’t angry and seeking revenge.  In reality, this man sought revenge for something and chose a way that didn’t resolve his problem.  God will deal with everyone involved. We just hope he is caught and pays some price for the violence against our property. 

Driving after the incident was difficult.  As the shock wore off, we were very tired and worn out.  We managed to get a little way beyond Prince George and spend our third night at Northland RV Park where Ernie was kind and generous.  We relaxed, had a wonderful dinner after not being able to eat any food for the entire day, and went to bed early.   We didn’t find anything wrong with our trailer that night.  The tire slashing was enough.  We now wait to hear from the police whether or not they apprehended the man.  

After that traumatic incident, we continued our journey toward Dawson City.  It was a beautiful drive over the eastern Rocky Mountains where they can get as much as 40 feet of snow per season.  We stopped at a little gas station, Windy Point, mile 97 on Hwy 97,   and met a wonderful Dutch man who reminded me of Hans from “Frozen”.  He and his family immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands  15 years ago on 9-11.  Meeting people like him helps to restore our faith in Canadians, though if I’m honest, we do not trust leaving our truck or trailer alone anywhere. 

One of the best moments of today was coming around a mountain bend and seeing a grizzly bear sunning himself on a hillside.  We stopped to take a photo and watched him lumber along the tree line looking for food.  Apart from diamond-shaped signs with a drawing of a moose, I’m still looking for a moose!  We passed through Chetwynd, the International Chainsaw Carving Capital of the World.  I could only take a couple of photos of the carvings, but they were amazing.

This is our fourth night in Canada.  We are staying at Tubbies RV park.  We unhitched so we could get our tire balanced, grocery shop, and get more fuel.  I am glad to be here, Mile Zero, on the Alcan Highway and look forward to arriving in Alaska in another five or six days.  We’re the only ones in this campground that is muddy because they had three feet of snow just last week and now it’s melting.  I decided to do laundry here and it’s $4.00 per load in the washing machine and $4.00 per load for the dryer.  Yes, I can’t wait to be back in the U.S. again – even if I’m not in the lower 48. 

As we drove here today, we began to come across the frost heaves or lumps in the road caused by frost.  We hit one really hard – generally they mark them, but this one they didn’t – and when we opened the trailer, a clothing rack had fallen down in my husband’s closet and my spice rack had fallen spilling cayenne pepper EVERYWHERE.  So, with a lot of sneezing and coughing, the clean up began while the electric screwdriver found the studs where the screws should have been. 

Yes, we’re still having fun, exhausted at the end of the day, but still having fun.

*The man’s name is Stephen Gattenby and we had a trial by judge one year after the incident.  Even with photographs of the pick axe, the judge said that our testimony didn’t agree with Stephen’s so he acquitted him.  The judge did NOT see any of the photographs we had taken with time and date on them which caused the inconsistency.

©2017 Tentstake Ministries Publishing

Enjoying Cali and Finally to Seattle

Auburn, California has some beautiful parks and we were able to hike in two: the Auburn State Recreation Area to Clementine Lake and a city park trail to Hidden Falls.  The hike to Clementine Lake and Dam has the state’s highest bridge, the Foresthill Bridge.  The bridge stands 730 feet in height and stretches 2,428 feet across the American River where it was constructed in 1973 to join the towns of Auburn and Foresthill across a reservoir that was never completed.  The lake was quite beautiful and calm and we actually made it back to our car before the downpour that lasted several days.  When the sun came out again, we hiked to Hidden Falls.

After nearly two weeks of sitting around in our trailer when it was raining, hanging out with relatives (and their German exchange student Julia), with interspersed hiking, we wondered if and when we would get our truck.  The day finally arrived and all I will say is that the FORD dealer in Auburn could have been more accommodating for people who were driving through town and were having work done on a Warranty.  It would seem to me that they would want those passing through to have fond memories of their little town rather than feel as though we were inhibiting their work with the locals.  Even the day they told us we would receive our truck, they delayed the time which only gave us about 4 hours to begin our trek toward … Seattle.  

We arrived after dark, something we vowed never to do, at a sweet place called Lakeshore Villa.  The owner was so accommodating that she waited for us to arrive even though she ‘closed’ 1/2 hour before.  It was a cute, little place by Shasta Lake built in the 1950s.  I could actually imagine people camping there when everything was ‘new’ and not ‘retro’.  A short walk to Shasta lake in the morning refreshed us for the day’s drive ahead.  From the Villa we continued to head north and it finally felt as if we were really, actually, heading toward Alaska.  

During the drive we had a beautiful view of Mount Shasta that appeared to be venting steam.  It is not a dormant volcano, but the one that may be the next Mount St. Helens.  Our next overnight was at an RV park near Portland.  It was like a huge parking lot and our site was on “Alaska Road.”   When we opened our trailer, low and behold, one of the curtain rods had fallen from the window and landed on the leather couch.  Had I not put some pillows and a blanket on it, I would have had holes from the screws!  We are learning that all the bumping and thumping makes for things to twist, turn and come loose.  Though these trailers look like they are made sturdy and strong, they have their issues. 

Once we crossed into Washington state, we decided to take a detour to the Mount St. Helen’s Visitor Center.  Unfortunately, it was foggy and rainy so we couldn’t see the mountain, but we did follow the history of events and watch the little video.  It’s very strange to think the eruption of this volcano and much of what I remember seeing as evening news footage is now ‘history’.  It was such a part of my life with ash falling on my car in Denver as much as living five miles downwind from Three Mile Island, also now on the history channel.

Our final stop in the U.S. was in Seattle.  We had made plans to meet with our friend and former exchange student, Hugo Brito, from Brasil.  He was in Seattle for the 2017 Coffee Expo as his family are coffee farmers in Minas Gerais, one of the states in Brasil.  For many years they were in a co-op, but now he is traveling the world to market their coffee independently.  It was quite the coincidence that he would be there as we were passing through.  We hadn’t seen him since we visited his family in Brasil five years ago.  Finding an RV park became the issue.  Every place I called was full and had no spaces for our large rig.  One place finally called back and said someone left early and we could have the ‘big rig’ site.  It was only 15 miles from Seattle and an Uber would only be about $20 so we decided to go with it no matter what.

When we arrived at this park in Bellevue, it was literally a parking lot for RVs that were squished together.  When the owner saw the size of our rig (already he knew it was 42 feet, but not a fifth wheel), he was a little overwhelmed.  Fortunately, they guide everyone to and into their site.  Let’s remember, we are NEW at driving a fifth wheel and when he began to circle us around the exterior of the park, he had to direct every turn my husband made.  When we finally got to the site, two people, one in the front and one in the back,  slowly guided my husband into the site in such a way that we could actually get out the next morning.  It left us in a twisted-arched position, but hey, we could park and go into the city and see Hugo!

The Uber rides were interesting as always.  It seems we always get foreigners and the discussions are enlightening as far as immigrants are concerned.  One seemed to take us a long route while the other got us back to our RV in less than 15 minutes.  Both spoke English, but with thick accents: Asian and Pakistani.

We were to meet Hugo at the Starbucks Reserve store near the convention center.  He arrived looking much older – he was 15-16 when he was at our house and 22 when we saw him in Brasil – and with some Brasilian friends.  We all went to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner and talked in English and some Portugues.  Afterwards, the three of us had drinks at the Hard Rock Cafe and then wandered to the original Starbucks, the Pike Public Market, the monorail, and rode it to the Space Needle at night.  We had such a wonderful time reminiscing about the past in Nebraska and our visit with his family and all of his friends we had met in Brasil.  We look forward to seeing him again, somewhere, anywhere, and even maybe at his wedding if he ever decides to get married!  Saying good-bye was more like ‘see you again’ and wasn’t nearly as sad as saying good-bye 10 years ago.   He flew next morning from Seattle to Japan; we headed north to the border of Canada!

©2017 Tentstake Ministries Publishing

Loveland to Cali – It’s Shabbat!

With a huge snowstorm forecasted in the Sierras, we decided to leave Colorado a day earlier than planned in order to miss the storm.  What we didn’t expect was a snowstorm in Loveland during the night.  Hoping to make an early start, we welcomed the morning with ice covering everything – meaning even two inches on top of the trailer and the slideouts.  With two inches of ice on the slides, they can’t shut.  Thankfully, our daughter decided to come say ‘good bye’ and when she saw her daddy on the roof of the trailer chopping ice and using the push broom to remove it, she wanted to help.

Four hours later, we were finally on  Interstate 80 crossing Wyoming. For anyone who travels this route to Salt Lake City, you know two things: one, there is wind, always high winds and two, there are tractor trailer trucks non-stop passing and racing for first in line to slow down.   As this is our first real venture with the truck and trailer, we were a little overwhelmed – or my husband was since he was driving.

Within the first two hours, a nice truck drivin’ lady decides to move to the left lane to give entrance one the interstate to another tractor trailer.  We’re not sure what happened but she obviously didn’t see us and nearly pushed us into the median.  My husband had to seriously swerve with a 42-foot trailer and not catch the median grass/drop off.  A little adrenaline rush to say the least and when we passed her, she waved with a nice smile as if she had no clue she nearly caused a serious accident.

Our first stop for the night was at a little RV park right off I-80 in Coalville, Utah.   By the time we reached our destination, we were ready to be off the road.  However, that was not to be the case.  Unless we unhitched our trailer, they had no room for our 42-foot rig.  At our daughter’s suggestion, we drove 20 more miles further to Rockport State Park, then another 10 miles around the reservoir to the only RV campground.  As we pulled in near sunset,  we knew it was going to be TIGHT.  A nice gentleman, who we thought was the campground host but was not, showed us a  pull through site and said he thought we could fit.  He was right!  AND, the view from our dining table window was spectacular!

We started the next morning through Salt Lake City traffic and then across the Salt Flats.  This area has significance to our lives as my husband rolled and totaled his car on the flats at the beginning of our relationship.  It’s always a long haul across this area remembering where he lost his favorite car – a little Subaru – many, many years ago.  When we stopped to touch the salt water, I was reminded once again of our Dead Sea visit and how sharp the little salt mounds are.  The views are quite different, but the ‘deadness’ of the salt water is the same.  It was at this stop that we saw our ‘little’ Sadie sitting with the big trucks …. 

We continued traveling on Interstate 80 toward the Sierras.  All weather reports included rain mixed with snow.  Passing through Reno, we met some people from Truckee who said it was really bad at the top and we may even need chains – something we didn’t have.  Well, we were blessed by the living God!  Though it rained hard the whole way up and the 40 miles down, we did not encounter snow.  We did encounter speed limits of 55 for those vehicles towing trailers and tractor trailers.  With the deluge of rain, yellow flashing signs said to go even slower.  Of course, we were the ONLY ones going slow, being passed by not only cars, but those towing horses, trailers and boats and every tractor trailer this side of the divide.   After 12 hours on the road – our promise to ourselves is only 6 – we arrived at our destination in California.  The rain continued to pelt us as we tried to park the trailer.  We didn’t have any light to get it leveled so we had to wait until the next morning.  Sleeping was interesting as our bed tilted downhill and I woke up in the middle of the bed.  (If you are interested in staying here in Auburn, let me know.  They have two awesome Airbnb rentals!)

In the drenching rain the next morning, we managed to unhitch the truck and level the trailer.  During our descent of the pass by Lake Tahoe, an ‘engine check’ light came on in the truck.   My husband took it to a dealer and found out that one of the cylinders blew – on a diesel truck with only 60,000 miles!  The good news – they have all next week to work on it as we are heading to San Jose to visit our son.  They gave us a rental car through the warranty so we won’t have to drive our huge truck in all that traffic.  AND, we bought a bumper to bumper warranty and so the fix will be Free.99.  

At this point, I will add that we have an airplane we are trying to sell.  It seemed as though we have had many buyers, but then the offers fall through.   This time, there apparently is a lien on the airplane from 1977.  The bank doesn’t exist any more and Bank of America that bought the bank doesn’t have records back that far.  Did I mention that it continues to rain, rain, rain? 

Tonight is the Sabbath and we are spending it with our family who has been so gracious to share their ‘land’ with us.   We look forward to our rest tomorrow and hope that nothing more happens in our saga of crazy events. 

Shabbat Shalom!