Posts Tagged ‘Fifth-wheel living’

A Poem for the iCan (aka Alcan)

Over the mountains and through the snow

We left Fort Nelson with a long way to go.

Steamboat Hill was quite slushy and then Summit Lake

Though we seemed to drive slow good time we did make.

Steamboat Hill
Summit Lake Pass

Fueled at Toad River, passed Muncho – that means ‘big’

Onto the hot springs Liard, but lunched with our rig.

Toad River
Frozen Muncho Lake
Liard Hot Springs Rest Stop

Caribou and buffalo grazed by the way

Two black bears and a cub chewing grass like hay.

Munching Grass
Momma and Her Cub

In Watson Lake we rested our trailer

Muddy and limping from leaf spring failure.

City RV and Our Filthy Trailer and Truck
What can we say?

In the Sign Forest we read our “Run Forest Run’

Then we enjoyed a walk in the late evening sun.

We’re now in a ‘parking lot’ staying one night,

Tomorrow to Whitehorse to fix the leaves right.

The rain tickles the roof – there is less and less drear

But our destination Alaska is still not so near.

Teslin on Nesutlin Bay

We’ll pass by Teslin, eat cinnamon rolls too

Where Tezzy our passenger was found stuck in mud goo.

Johnson’s Corner Where We Found Tezzy

We’ll cross the river Yukon with the lovely blue bridge

And hope that our stay in the capital is only a smidge.

Yukon River Bridge

In Whitehorse we find a place for repair

We will stay two nights in an exterior bay there.

Exterior Bay in a Parking Lot
Historic Mile Marker 918

Anniversary number 35 on Alaska Nine Eighteen Mile

Who’d a thunk way back then we’d be celebrating in such style!

May 7, 1984

A Gallery of the Sign Forest, Watson Lake

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

Down, Flannel and a Shovel

As we started out from Dawson Creek, the sky varied between cloudy and sunny, but sun won out until about 101 miles up the Alcan at a place called Won O Won.  The flurries began to blow sideways until some rested, melted and made the pavement wet.  I began the day’s drive and when we arrived at the top of Pink Mountain, my husband requested to stop at Sasquatch Crossing.  He wanted lunch.

At Sasquatch Crossing, the blowing snow pelted us as we trudged through muddy puddles into the restaurant.  A few conversations with the folks there revealed that it continued to snow for the next 100 km (60 miles),  but the sun shone in Fort Nelson.  We hoped for this to be true as that was our day’s destination.

Menu

I had Sasquatch Vegetable Soup, but my husband opted for chicken – even though the menu said Sasquatch tastes like beef!  With warmth in our tummies, we ventured back out into the near whiteout conditions to continue our northern drive to Fort Nelson.   

We either followed the snow or it followed us because at one stop, it was requested that we please bring warmer weather from the south.  It had not been warmer in the south and the snow continued to blow across the road now sticking to the wide sides.    We looked for bears as we always do knowing they would stick out black if they weren’t covered in snowflakes.  When we arrived at Fort Nelson, it was brrrrrr cold and the sun stood high in the sky and there was no snow.  We decided to spend the night in this place because we had no idea what the road conditions would be like on Steamboat Hill to Summit Lake Pass and Stone Mountain into Muncho Lake.  Hauling 16,000 pounds of our home is not something we wanted to chance on possible black ice and sliding off a mountainside.

Soon after we set up, the snow began in Fort Nelson. We watched some courageous bundled-up campers make several loops around the campground for some exercise.  After our quick supper of tomato soup and grilled cheese, we decided to venture into the cold and walk off the many days of seat butt.  We dug out our down coats, scarves, gloves and hats that were nicely packed away until next winter.  As we walked around the campground that began filling up with others who didn’t want to make the trip over the mountains in the snow, the temperatures dropped and the wind blew harder.  Once back in our trailer, we tucked ourselves into our bed now made with flannel sheets that had also been packed away with books and fell asleep cozy and warm.

We woke up to several centimeters of snow on the ground and sub-zero temperatures (in Celcius).  My husband found our shovel and cleared off our steps and a little path to the truck.   Is it really May 3?  Is it really this cold?  He visited a few of the nearest campers with big rigs to learn they were all spending a second night at the Triple G Campground in order to avoid the ice and snow in the mountains.   One of the couples, Jim and Carolyn are actually going to camp host at Hope, Alaska at Porcupine National Forest Campground!  They will work for ARM too.  In essence we just met some co-workers.  (I have to admit that I followed them for a while on the Alcan.  They drove very slowly we and chalked it up to them being from Kansas.  Sorry, Bob and Stacy.   Eventually I was so tired of following them, I pulled over.  Several miles down the road they pulled over in the blizzard conditions, but then continued onto the same campground – really the only campground around.   Yep, I feel stupid now.) 

I called several places on the road ahead – Northern Rockies Lodge in Mucho Lake, Toad River Lodge in Toad River and the Liard Hot Springs Lodge in Liard, but no one knew the road conditions over the passes!  This isn’t Colorado where there are always updates on the conditions of the passes.  As we vacillated between staying or taking a chance on the road and leaving,  I could hear my brother’s voice in my head, “You are full-time RV’ers, what’s your hurry?”  Well, we would like to get to Alaska before summer.  He reminded me in a text that we have until the summer solstice on June 19.  

I made pancakes and eggs doused in the last of the syrup given to us by some friends we made last year. Thank you, Brent and Sonya!   My husband went to the nearest place and filled our empty propane tank.  He then cleaned the ice and snow from our slides.   He also dropped the warm window curtains I had made for Cherry Creek for the winter, but the bottom velcro had been removed when we sent the trailer to Indiana.  I spent a couple of hours sewing them with the minimal supplies I had so they would shut tightly against the windows.  Let the cold wind blow while I sit next to our little fireplace and type on my computer.

In order to get out and do something ‘fun’ we drove to Tim Hortons down the road. It was packed with people! After ordering a coffee and a chai tea, we sat with some workers from the oil and gas industry here. Apparently there’s not much industry left. At one time Fort Nelson was to become a mecca for gas and oil with 10 camps that held 600 men each, but then everyone wants a global economy and people like these men retire early or never receive a raise while they work hard.

I have to say though that Alvin and Steve were hilarious to talk with. We covered every topic from the royal family and socialism to motorcylces and great musicians who came from Canada. They kept us laughing with their jokes about three-legged dogs and why natives don’t like snow. Everytime we set out to leave they would say, “Where do you have to go? What do you have to do?” They were right. We hung out at the local coffee shop for several hours!

We returned to our little ‘cabin’ and celebrated the Shabbat by lighting candles and drinking wine. We also decided that because it was Shabbat, we should probably stay in Fort Nelson another night and just rest.

Day two in Fort Nelson.

Though we had hoped the passes would be less icy and snowy, the mountain cams didn’t show better conditions.  Motorhomes and fifth-wheels that came in last evening were iced over and under and said the roads were nearly impassable.  Our neighbors couldn’t even get their step down because it was frozen solid in the upright position.  They were using a hatchet to chip away at the ice!  We went to the office to pay for another night and met a couple who were tent camping their way to Fort Collins from Anchorage.  He is starting engineering school at CSU and she is a bio-engineer on the search for a job.  We told them we began our trek from Fort Collins and the weather will be gorgeous, summer-like.  They ordered some coffee and got back in their Jeep to head south for a new life on the Front Range.  

After a short walk around the campground to rid ourselves of some cabin fever, we decided to go to Tim Horton’s again.  We have been here long enough that we act like the Canadians – sitting in a coffee shop named after an ice hockey player, chatting with the locals and checking the internet.

The buzzing from the missiles from Gaza attacking Israel haven’t stopped for hours – over 500 now.   One article in the Jerusalem Post quoted a Gazan leader, “The resistance from Gaza won’t stop until the occupation is over.”  How ridiculous.  

As we were walking out of Timmies we decided to talk to a man whose truck was ice covered about the conditions on the pass.  He told us it wasn’t bad though waiting until tomorrow would be better for a truck and trailer like ours.  He was heading to Las Vegas, helping his son move to Summerlin from Anchorage.  Okay, now it’s getting weird.  Our daughter lives in Fort Collins and our son just moved to Summerlin!  Apparently, we are supposed to be hanging out here in good ole’ Fort Nelson meeting people moving to where our children live. 

After having a coffee, we had nothing better to do than to check out the local hardware store.  It had everything from toys to kitchen necessities to plumbing and electrical supplies to yard decorations and hummingbird feeders. Really? They have summer here?  Not only did it kill some time, but I found a nice water bottle for taking water with me in the truck.  I believe I mentioned earlier that we bought a Berkey water filter so we could be more ‘green’.  We were reusing the plastic water bottles, but it didn’t seem very hygienic so I bought a stainless steel insulated bottle that actually fits in the drink holder!  Now I have a souvenir from my snow days in Fort Nelson!

Speaking of water, we have also run out in our holding tank.  We didn’t expect to be here as long as we have been and though we try to conserve water, it doesn’t last forever.  We have three options.  The first is to close the trailer up and drive it about 50 yards to the laundry room and fill the tank with their hose.  I don’t like that option because then we have to reset everything again back at our site.  It’s muddy and cold and that is just tedious work.  The second is to fill the water bladder we use in Alaska to haul water when we boondock.  It’s a wonderful option except that it’s very cold outside and there would be no way to drain it so the little water left in it would freeze, crack the bladder and become useless to us in Alaska.  The third option is fill a one-gallon jug with water for flushing the toilet and fill our 2 1/2-gallon jug for doing dishes and conserving it to the best of our ability.  That is the the option we chose.  Our Burkey has been filtering water consistently so we also have nearly 2 gallons of drinking water.

Adventure

While standing in the office waiting to pay for tonight, there were several other campers doing the same.  The word ‘adventure’ kept popping up in the conversations with one woman stating, “This life is always an adventure, eh?”   I decided to look up the word adventure: “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.”  I liked the word ‘hazardous’ in the definition.  Not.

One of our day’s final adventures, which wasn’t too hazardous, was to explore the streets of Fort Nelson off of the main highway.  We drove to the airport and on our way there, several girls were walking along the road and started waving frantically.  We waved back and they cheered!  It must be exciting for them to see a truck from South Dakota? Or is life that boring here?   On the way back from the airport, we were blessed to see this little lady posing just for us by the side of the road.  

Now we’re back at the trailer, doing little projects to help pass the time and get read for our departure tomorrow.  The mountain cam has the road looking a little better and we expect warmer temperatures tomorrow.  The sun burst through the clouds this evening so maybe … maybe we’ll be on the road tomorrow heading toward Toad River.  If not, Day 3 in Fort Nelson.

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

A Bear-y Nice Trip Until the Leaves Fell

Our Awesome Son and His Wife

We began our third-year journey to Alaska from Parker, Colorado where we said good-bye to our hosts for two months, our son, Jesse, and our daughter-in-law, Sarah.  From there we spent three nights in Fort Collins where we spent a few days with our youngest daughter.  We were a bit sad to leave her because in three weeks she graduates from college with a para-legal degree and we will miss it. Though she isn’t walking to receive her diploma, we still say, “Congratulations, Jemima!”

Father and Daughter

While in Fort Collins, we found that the exterior door didn’t close properly after having new MorRyde steps put in so we had a mobile RV man come fix the problem. We had no idea that this would be the beginning of meeting a lot of mobile RV men on our journey to Alaska.

From Fort Collins we traveled north to Sheridan, Wyoming where we stayed at Peter D’s RV Park for the third year in a row.  It’s a small, clean park and Peter is friendly.   His claim is that his park has nutritional value: “If you don’t stay here, Pete don’t eat!”  At Pete’s we met a gentleman from Valdez!  We’re already meeting people heading the same direction – north!

We often discuss the idea of me driving Sadie.  Our very first trip three years ago, a woman in her 80s told me to learn how to drive ‘just in case.’  I have driven the trailer twice: once in Texas on a long stretch of highway and another time in Wyoming on the Interstate.  I decided this morning was the day to begin my ‘women’s empowerment.’ (Thank you Melanie!)   I asked my husband how he was feeling and when he said, ‘good,’ I offered to pull out of the site, drive out of the campground, turn on a city street and get back on the Interstate.  I have been a passenger for a very long time so I knew the idea of what I had to do.  Wide turns, break early, and watch for fools who don’t understand a big rig and its abilities and non-abilities.  I drove 3 hours and stopped at two rest stops.  For a ‘real’ first time, I was successful!  I drove through Wyoming and Montana!

With the weather looking like it could bring a lot of snow, we stopped for the Shabbat in Missoula, Montana.  We have found throughout the years of keeping the Biblical Shabbat how important it is to rest.  It is even more important when you drive, drive, drive to take the Shabbat and refresh.  We stayed at Jim and Mary’s RV Park west of town – a park it seems my brother stayed in many years ago after being kicked out of Jellystone across the street.  Apparently Jellystone doesn’t like tenters and Jim and Mary do – especially ones who are CEOs, have Doctorates and run major companies!

At this park, we met our second mobile RV man when our furnace stopped working again! In two years, we have had two boards, igniters, and everything else imaginable happen with this furnace. So, while I was listening to Burt Yellin discourse at Roeh Israel and texting a dancer in Viet Nam while freezing my you know what off, my husband met with another RV dude until we had heat once again. Apparently it was something simple, but simply wouldn’t let the furnace start up and put out heat!

Carousel, Missoula

After sleeping in a bit on Saturday, we dressed warmly and headed to the Carousel in downtown Missoula.  We had ridden it when our children were young and I wanted to ride it again for ole times’ sake.   There was also a huge fly-fishing event going on in town so we were able to vender shop boats, clothes and artwork all involving fly-fishing. Imagine Rainbow Trout leggings!  It seems we’re being primed to be back in Cooper Landing!  With Missoula reminding us of Boulder, Colorado, what better thing to do than find a coffee shop and get something warm?  I ordered a cinnamon hot chocolate that went down smoothly!

We also stopped to weigh our truck and trailer as we wanted to make sure we were within the limits that Forest River requires.  We were not wanting more issues of cracking or bent leaf springs.  We only have a 90-day Warranty and the days were counting down. Our weights were well within the margins listed for a 42-foot Crusader Fifth-wheel.  We knew it would be since we had lost a lot of weight taking things out – like a sofa!

From Missoula, I didn’t drive.  It was snowing and I trust my husband more than my newly-found empowerment!  We drove through Montana into Idaho and stopped at a sunny Coeur d’Alene rest stop where we met Darryl – another nomad heading north to Seward, Alaska for the summer.  He is a fishing tour guide and fillets fish.  He really wants to camp host and said he’ll stop by Cooper Creek for more information on ARM on one of his trips to Homer! We continued west until it was time to go north through Spokane.  A minor hiccup in directions and we went out of our way about 20 miles, but it was a different route than we had ever taken before and the scenery had gorgeous green rolling hills, meadows and horses – lots of horses.

We crossed the Canadian border at a very small port – Laurier Port of Entry.  Each year we are generally asked the same questions.  Where are you going?  Alaska for the summer to camp host for the National Forest Service.  Do you have any alcohol?  Yes, a couple of bottles of wine for our consumption.  Do you have any firearms?  No.  How will you protect yourself from bears?  That was a new one.  Bear spray.  We have four cans.  You want to see them?  No.   We were on our way within a few minutes.

As for the firearms, we decided to ship them this year to avoid any and all searches and seizures.  Shipping them is supposed to be easy, but of course, nothing is easy for us.  Both of the people to whom we needed to ship in Cooper Landing were not on top of their game and never returned phone calls.  After nearly three weeks – we left them a the shipping place before we went to Indiana – we finally had to ship them to a retailer in Soldotna.  For the first time when it comes to bears, we will have real protection.

As for the bear spray, we hand them out to campers who have no clue about bears and want to hike in the area.  They bring them back unused, thankfully, so another clueless couple can use the can.   As for clueless, two summers ago there was a tourist who sprayed his entire family with bear spray because he thought it was like mosquito repellent.  They all ended up in the hospital.  Bear spray is for bears, not people!

Kettle River, RV Park

We spent the night in Kettle River RV Park. It was green, lush, and the Kettle River rolled lazily by the shores of the campground.  A light dusting of snow covered the hills in the brisk morning chill.   I wanted to drive, but decided to let my husband rock and roll today.  We headed west up and over mountains to the resort town of Osoyoos.

Osoyoos, British Columbia

From the snow-covered peaks surrounding the lake to the vineyards and swim beaches and fruit stands lining the roadway, it appears as a miniature Paradise.  It actually reminded me of Israel with its multiple ecosystems in one place: desert, vineyards, mountains, lakes, rivers.    Though it was chilly at 40 degrees F, the highest temperature recorded in Canada was in Osoyoos at 109 degrees F.  Summers must be hot with thousands of tourists and those locals who need a weekend away from the rat race.  As we meandered the road around this delightful place, we couldn’t stop commenting at its beauty and fruitfulness – cherries, grapes, apricots, peaches, and maybe almonds?

The only downside to taking this route was the towns.  We went through town after town after town with stoplights: Peachland, Oliver, Summerland to Kelowna and onto Kamloops.  How do you say Kelowna and Kamloops in Canadian, eh?

What may have taken only a couple of hours on a different route, took us more than 4.  Wanting to drive only 6, maybe 7 hours per day, made this an 11-hour day to reach our destination – a quiet campground north of Williams Lake run by a First Nation called Whispering Pines.  We were so ready to be there after 11 hours – me driving 3.  However, when we arrived at the entrance it was closed with a huge chain and large tree stump! These are the moments we have to remember that we are ‘living THE dream.’  Right?

Falkland Curling Club

One of our stops during the day for lunch was in the parking lot of a Curling Club. How many giggle at the curling events in the Olympics? Well, our family does and so this added photo. We joked that one day we will hear of a curling team winning gold from Falkland Curling Club. And, we were there!

McCleese Lake RV Park

My husband checks out the internet on his phone and we find a resort on Lake McLeese.  We also learn that I have no international calling, texting or data.  How fun is that?  Verizon gave us an international plan while AT&T doesn’t include it in my son’s.  It’s an add-on.  Now, as the navigator, I have no access to the internet for researching a travel plan.

The campground was small.  We were the only ones in it and we had a beautiful view of the lake.  However, the sites are also small and we took up two that allowed us to drive through.   In reality, they are short back-in sites. In the future if there are campers in these sites, we wouldn’t be able to stay.

Quesnel, British Columbia

The Infamous Walmart

We headed north, not able to avoid it this year, to where the momentous event of our lives took place two years ago: Quesnel, British Columbia.  For those who want to know, here’s the story.  For those who know, here are photos of the infamous Walmart and Tim Hortons.  Strangely enough, as we were driving toward Quesnel and around the city, neither of us remembered much.  It all seemed unfamiliar. Apparently shock does that to a person.

The Infamous Tim Hortons

What we did notice was that Quesnel is the logging capital of British Columbia, if not the world.  It put a little more clarity on why the man did what he did, said what he said after President Trump raised the tariffs on hardwood only days before our event.  Let it be known, I agree with what the President did and foreign countries need to pay tariffs if they are going to charge us tariffs, I just didn’t like being the culprit of his policies in Canada and reaping the ‘rewards’ of an angry logger.

Momma and Cub

From Quesnel we continued north toward the start of the Alcan in Dawson Creek.  We encountered snow and rain and sun and rain and snow.  And, we saw BEARS!  We saw more bears on this little section of travel than we’ve seen in the three years we’ve driven up and back from Alaska!  The first one turned out to be a beautiful black lab that someone either dropped off or it ran away.  I was momentarily excited then sad for the poor dog chased us looking for someone who loved him. The next sighting was a REAL bear.  I didn’t get any photos of it because it took me by such surprise.  The second bear, I took several photos.  The third bear, I glanced to my right down a cut in the trees where the railroad went and there sat a bear on the train tracks.  Not sure what it found so exciting there – maybe food or maybe was told by momma to sit and wait for her to return?!  Needless to say, I didn’t get its photo either.  We saw a final bear running into the trees by the road and again, I tried to photograph it, but either we are driving too fast or these bears really book it to be out of sight.  I tend to believe the latter.

A Bear-y Nice Break from Driving

One of our break stops was at Chetwynd.  Chetwynd is known for its wood carving festival.  People from all over the world come here to chain saw tree trunks like ice sculptures.  When we passed through here two years ago, we were still reeling from Quesnel and didn’t stop.  This time, we stopped to take photographs of the winners from last year’s contest.

From Quesnel, we had an hour drive to Dawson Creek where Mile 0 begins the start of the Alaska Highway.  We stayed here last year at the Northern Lights Campground and pulled in again for the night.  As we were checking in, the owner commented that our trailer seemed to be leaning.  We didn’t think so, we told him it was his driveway.  Nope.  Not. A. Chance. With. Us.

The trailer really was leaning.  We sort of noticed it leaning at our first stop in Montana.  We had to put boards under the wheels to level it.  We noticed it somewhat when we stopped for lunch and decided not to pull out the one slide.  We thought the rest stop was just slanted.  When we stopped at Chetwynd, my husband didn’t want to admit that it was actually leaning, but now he had to.  We were leaning.  One of the new leaf springs put on at Primetime Forest River in Indiana had broken.

For those in the know … this isn’t good!

As I sit in the laundry room of Northern Lights, my husband is out in the cold and snow with a third mobile tech man, fixing our leaf springs again.  It turns out they were put on wrong, too loose.  The plates with the U-bolts are too wide and the leaves were sliding all over the place.  In fact, from the photos taken, it is only because of the grace of God that the one leaf that was doing all the work didn’t break and cause a blow out or something worse.  Always in the care of angels.  Yes. Read Psalm 91.

“For he will order his angels to care for you and guard you wherever you go. They will carry you in their hands, so that you won’t trip on a stone” (Psalm 91:11-12).

Last night my husband sent an email to Primetime Forest River.  They wanted us to weigh ourselves.  Right.  In Dawson Creek!  Nope.  He sent them our papers from Montana that were all within the acceptable weight range.  After he sent them photos of the condition of our springs, they wrote back their apologies.  They asked if we were okay  and told us they will cover all costs of getting the springs fixed.  We are again grateful for their support, however, in reality, the work wasn’t done correctly and well, they are the manufacturers.

Not wide enough for … the bolts.

We are very thankful we are in a place where there is mobile RV service and a brake and leaf shop if need be.  Once on the Alcan, the next big city is Whitehorse in the Yukon and that place is days away.  The bad news is that there aren’t any plates the correct size in Dawson Creek.  They made U-bolts specifically for us and showed my husband how to tighten them. So, now as we drive away, we know we have to watch the leaf springs until we get to Anchorage and a dealer that will fix it properly. Here’s hoping that we make it to … those who pray, please pray for us.

As the signs in the laundry room read, “Laundry Again!  It’s a Never Ending Cycle!”  and “Loads of Fun!”  So, Miss Adventures continues popping in and out of our nomadic life bringing more challenging adventures to our otherwise boring life of bears, snow and broken furnaces.

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

Timing is Everything

As I sit and write this blog post, it is preparation day for the Passover. This is the season celebrated as a memorial of the Israelites being set free from slavery. It began with the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their homes and, after the death of the firstborn, continued with one million people exiting Egypt. We are finally seeing the ‘light’ to the end of our ‘misadventures’ and will begin our exodus to Alaska on Monday. It really does feel like we have been set free from a bondage that taught us a lot about RV dealers, manufacturers and trusting God for everything.

On Monday, April 8, 2019, we began our journey across the U.S. to Indiana to pick up our trailer. Loaded with necessities for staying in it on the way back, we set out across Colorado on a beautiful spring day. In the rearview mirror I could see the grandeur of snow-covered Pikes Peak looming above the foothills. It was a glorious day and we were really heading east.

Because my husband drives 99.9 percent of the time when we are hauling the trailer, I drove the first leg of this adventure. Before we knew it we were in Kansas and felt as though we were back in our travel element – even without Sadie being towed behind. Yes, our fifth-wheel is a Crusader, but that word just never sat well with me so we call our trailer Sadie. I tried Tzade, which is grandpa in Yiddish, but my husband nixed that one. So Sadie it remained.

The bedspread … uggg

We spent our first night in a DIVE of a Days Inn on the east side of Kansas City in Concordia. It had been awhile since we had even stayed in a hotel as we are either in Sadie or rent Air BnB’s when we travel. This place had paper thin walls and was not appealing. My husband commented, “We just need a place to rest our heads.” And we did. After nearly 12 hours on the road, we were exhausted and this was only the first day!

St. Louis Skyline

The next morning we continued our travels through Missouri and St. Louis. Somehow we didn’t realize there was a beltway around the city so we drove through it. What a nightmare of twisted roads. The mousetrap in Denver has nothing on that mess. We dreaded driving our trailer back through it on the way home. We passed the St. Louis Arch and being the football fan that I am, I wondered if I would see Patrick Mahomes driving by us as I saw Peyton Manning in Denver.

From Missouri we went through Illinois and then Indiana. The roads in both of these states leave a lot to be desired. Potholes and rough road are the norm, and again we considered driving our newly refurbished trailer bouncing on these horrendous stretches of highway. How would she do? From Indianapolis we began heading north toward Wakarusa where our trailer actually had been all along. Unfortunately, we never saw Elkhart which we have heard is an amazing city with every RV manufacturer having its headquarters and manufacturing buildings there.

Nappanee, Indiana

After another 12 hours, we arrived in Nappanee – an Amish community about 5 miles from Wakarusa. When researching any of the RV manufacturers in Indiana, they always mention their Amish craftsmen who build the units. It didn’t really compute in my brain that meant Amish communities. I felt like was back in Pennsylvania driving around Lancaster County with all of the horse and buggies on the road.

One of the few hotels in the small town was called The Inn at Amish Acres and we decided to stay there. They offered us a room with a king-sized bed and a jetted tub! After the dive the night before, we took it and basked in rest and relaxation – after iHop. Yeah, I had been craving iHop pancakes. After stuffing ourselves with bread products at nearly 10 p.m. (which I don’t eat) we enjoyed what was left of the evening at Amish acres.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The big day for retrieving Sadie arrived. We drove the ten minutes from our hotel to the Primetime Service Center. Notice I wrote, Service Center. Our trailer was never in a manufacturing bay, but at the Primetime Crusader service center. We’re not sure why we were told they couldn’t get us into the service center, but they did. In fact, when we asked about that, the two people working with us looked very confused – especially the one who had told us that in the very beginning! Our trailer would never have gone into a manufacturing bay according to these two, so from the get-go, we were told a little fib.

Sadie at Primetime

Sadie looked shiny and new. All of the exterior cracks were gone. New decals were put on the sides because they removed the old ones with the sides. My husband discussed some of the issues they fixed or had inspected. The frame was not bent. The camber fell within the legal limits. The leaf springs were replaced and made the trailer sit higher. After we had the trailer with us a few days, we looked at the original photos of it when it had been delivered. It never sat as high as it does now which leads us to believe the leaf springs were never quite right. They said the axles were fine, but to us it looks as if we also have new axles.

Slide Slickers

The slides opened and closed smoothly though there were these long plastic strips called Slide Slickers taped to the floor where the two slide wheels came in over the linoleum. I asked what they were. Apparently, they learned that the slide with the refrigerator, stove/oven, pantry, TV and fireplace was a little heavy for the slide roller. Newer models have a different type of roller – a stronger one – which helps support the heaviness of the slide. Ahhhhh, so that’s what really happened! It was a manufacturer error that they upgraded on new models. When they realized their error, they should have recalled these trailers before they cracked rather than blame us for having too much weight! A little tidbit of information they hid from us so they wouldn’t have to fix our trailer. For anyone that has heavy slides and can see the marks on the floor, consider investing in a couple of Slide Slickers and save your flooring.

We had to make a detailed check of the trailer before signing off and taking it out of the lot. This is a very difficult thing to do. What do you check? The obvious problems were solved like the slit in the flooring, but they had taken out all of the slides to replace the sides. After putting on new sides, they put the slides back in. They removed everything that was attached to the exterior slides and then put those things back in. They had removed all the windows and front door and put them back in. They redid all the trim, re-caulked and the list goes on. How does one inspect all these details without actually living in it and finding the problems as you use it? We took about an hour to make sure the stereo system worked (one speaker wire had to be fixed), the TV turned on, the fireplace put out heat, the refrigerator door didn’t stick and all the lights turned on and off.

Before accepting our trailer, we were told we have a 90-day Warranty on everything they touched in the trailer – which is pretty much everything. Again, we were told at the get-go there would be no warranty – another fib? We signed the papers, handed in our travel receipts as they only pay one way, hitched up Sadie to our truck and departed the Primetime service center. We stopped in Nappanee to fill our propane tanks and we were ‘on the road again.’

Driving a fifth-wheel is very different from just driving a truck. We drive slower and go fewer daily miles. When driving to Alaska, we limit ourselves to only 6 hours per day or 300 miles so we don’t burn out with driving. Because of that it takes us 14 days with two-night stops on Shabbats. On the way to Indiana, we had beautiful weather, but leaving was a different story. A winter storm was crossing the midwest and though we missed the snow in Kansas and Colorado, we had to endure some rain across Indiana and Illinois and the front with wind, lots of wind across Missouri and eventually Kansas. This made the drive even slower.

As the navigator, I am responsible for finding rest stops as well as stops for the night. On one of our rest stops, I went into the trailer and decided to turn on the lights. NOTHING. I tried again. NOTHING. I asked my husband, “Don’t we have batteries? Shouldn’t the lights have come on?” Yes. He does a little trouble shooting to find that one of the things they did and neglected to tell us was to completely disconnect our batteries. While in the lot, we were hooked up to electric! Little problem #1 solved.

I have to give a shout-out to my brother now. As we were heading toward St. Louis, I found an RV park somewhat in the city (remember we didn’t know about the beltway). About an hour outside of St. Louis, he called and asked where we were and where we were staying. Because he has traveled across country numerous times, he completely nixed my choice. He said that we needed to take the beltway north around St. Louis and be on the other side so we would not encounter morning rush hour traffic. He actually said if we stayed at that place we would want to kill ourselves the next morning! I took the advice and began looking for a park on the west side of St. Louis. I found what looked to be an amazing place called Lakeside Park 370 in St. Peters, Missouri. It was a wonderful stop. And, it was only 5 minutes off of Interstate 70 when we took off in the morning. We missed ALL morning traffic! Again, shout-out to my bro!

With another long day ahead of us, the wind was not welcome. We had to cross Missouri and go halfway through Kansas with a stop in Kansas City at Cabela’s. For those who may want to know, yes, we saw flooding. We crossed the Missouri several different times, but only once was there obvious flooding. The mighty Mississippi flowed thick and muddy, but that is the norm from my experience. We did see a riverboat floating down the Mrs. Sippi (as my mom used to call it) which always reminds me of Mark Twain and “Huckleberry Finn.”

Overnight stop with friends

Our last night stop on the road was in Ellinwood, Kansas, a small town outside of Great Bend and about 45 miles south of Interstate 70. Though it was a tad ‘out of the way,’ our dear friends and Alaskan ‘family’ Bob and Stacy live there on a farm. For the past two years, they were our camp host mentors, major support system and encouragement. They became not only friends, but like family in Alaska. Because of some health issues, they won’t be returning to Alaska this year and we had to see them, hug them, and tell them how much we will miss them and will pray that maybe someday they can return to Quartz Creek Campground. Our timing couldn’t have been better as it was Stacy’s birthday and we met some other wonderful people as well as had catch up time with some we already knew.

From Ellinwood, we continued our journey back to colorful Colorado. While we were at a rest stop, as I was putting the few things away from lunch, I noticed the light on the refrigerator blinking, “Check Gas.” Well, that’s not something I want to see. I told my husband and his initial reaction was that we blew through all of our propane the night before with our furnace. I objected. We had lived through sub-zero temperatures at Cherry Creek and never used two 30-lb propane tanks in one night. Even in Alaska when we use a lot more propane for daily living that never happened. We were both baffled by the incident especially after he realized that both tanks were still full!

As my husband was trouble shooting, he realized that we didn’t have propane to our stove either. Unbeknownst to us, there is a valve under the trailer that controls the propane to the fridge and stove. While Primetime serviced our trailer, they turned it off. Nice of them to tell us! All I can say is I’m glad we didn’t have a propane leak! Simple problem #2 fixed.

Moving back in

We arrived southeast of Parker, Colorado Friday afternoon and stayed at a sweet little campground called Casey Jones RV park in Elizabeth. In this city-run park, we were going to hang out a few days, rent a U-haul and retrieve everything out of storage for the trailer.

As I began making dinner at Casey Jones, I noticed water around my sink. I couldn’t figure out where it came from so I kept wiping it up thinking it was just from washing dishes. Nope. Somehow the entire piping under the kitchen faucet became loose and water was running out everywhere under the sink and into the cabinet below. Of course, like everything thus far, it was a quick fix, but now we had water puddles and nothing to dry it with except a few paper towels. A sigh of relief when it was mostly dry and there was no warping of the wood. Simple problem #3 solved.

We began putting together our new Berkey water filter. Yes. We bought a Berkey water filter because we are tired of buying cases of water especially when we are on the road and there is nowhere to buy them. Plus, we are becoming more ‘green’ and less ‘plastic’. Once it was together, we filled it halfway with water, set it on our island so it could filter all night.

While the weather was beautiful and not windy the day before in Colorado, we woke up to snow and cold again to move! What’s with that? And, the public water was frozen in the outside pipe so we had no water. Generally, we try to keep some fresh water in our tank for this very issue, but we were just getting settled again and well, we didn’t. We managed to have breakfast without water and went to pick up our U-Haul about 30 minutes away. We rented it for 8 hours, but they told us we could have it the weekend because they are closed on Sunday. At the time we didn’t think that it mattered, but that extra time became a blessing – a huge blessing.

It took us about 45 minutes to unload our storage unit. We then went to our son’s house for lunch and to gather as much of our stuff as we could in the truck and trailer. After another 30 minutes, we were back at the campground.

When I walked in the door, I heard running water. What? Why would water be running? Then I saw it. I. Saw. It. One of us had turned on the water at the kitchen sink, but because the pipe froze no water came out. One of us forgot to turn the faucet off! The water, whenever it unfroze, began to pour out of the faucet and into the kitchen sink. After it FILLED the galley holding tank, it filled the sinks and then overflowed into the kitchen and made its way into the bunkroom where the carpet was completely drenched. Water was everywhere! I mean everywhere! This time I did have towels and began soaking it up. We put a little heater in the bunkroom to help dry the carpet which took about 4 days.

The chunk of time it took us to dry up the trailer cut into the time planned to unload the U-haul and put all of our stuff away. Remember, no ducks should ever be put in a row! We needed that extra day of rental! Thank you Yeshua for always being ahead of the game! By the evening, mostly everything was put away inside of the trailer, but again my husband noticed water on the table where the Berkey had been sitting. I figured it was just water from all the water that seemed to ooze from everywhere after the flood. Nope, it was the Berkey. The spigot had not been tightened enough and nearly all of our filtered water had leaked out.

Because the manufacturer insisted that we were overweight, we have spent months going through what we put into Sadie and removing what we really don’t use or need. As we put away everything that was in boxes, we filled a rather large plastic tub with more items. In the end, we have extra space in cabinets that we didn’t have before and, under the trailer in the basement, we have a lot more room. We believe we have lightened our load so to speak.

Denver Mattress

After leaving Casey Jones, we headed back to Cherry Creek for a few days. We made a small stop at Denver Mattress so the new mattress we ordered could be put into our trailer. After sleeping on it one night, we decided it was not for us. First, it was too soft. Second, it was too heavy. We couldn’t open the storage under the bed TOGETHER. This little purchase suddenly put the weight back in that we had taken out. Third, it was 14 inches high. It was too high for me to get into bed and I had to slide out. I didn’t want to spend my next few years climbing into or sliding out of bed.

The stop at Cherry Creek was also for us to do some renovation. Our trailer has a bunk room. It’s a wonderful place for storage, but really it couldn’t be fully utilized because it had a sofa bed. The project for our first day back at our ole stompin’ ground was to remove the sofa bed, put it in storage, go to Home Depot and Lowe’s to buy the necessities to make a closet for my husband with storage behind while still retaining the actual bunk for grandchildren. We also had to purchase a small chest of drawers for all the miscellaneous stuff we kept in smaller plastic drawers. There is also a small closet in the bunk room that is so narrow that only child hangers fit. We decided to put shelves in there for manuals and the like because none of the cabinets are wide enough for one single notebook. Who designs these trailers? They need women involved! By the end of the day, those projects were finished and, while my husband had worked on them, I made the developers of Command Hooks a lot richer.

The First Days of the Ninety

Upside down window trim

The next day we had to make a phone call to Forest River. They forgot to put trim in some places, they put trim upside down on one of the windows and they forgot to put the blind back in the bunkroom. For these issues of their carelessness, we need to see a dealer so we’re going to wait until we’re in Anchorage rather than delay our northbound trip any longer. The other smaller issues we decided we will fix.

Law and Grace in the Real World

Also, it was laundry day that I wanted to do at the park along with some errands. I won’t go into details about how horrendous my laundry experience was, but I will say that I won’t be returning to camp host at Cherry Creek State Park next year. From the word ‘host,’ comes the words ‘hospitality’ and ‘hospital’. None of those words describe Cherry Creek. Suffice it to say that the rules in the park are more important that the guests and even those of us who volunteer our time. Their recent volunteer newsletter says they save millions of dollars using volunteers, but they really don’t appreciate in any respect the needs of the volunteers.

In our nearly 30 years of walking out a Messianic faith, we have heard more times than we can count that we have ‘put ourselves under the law.’ Or, that the law is done away with for grace. Good teachers and judges even know that one needs both grace and law. Laws exist to regulate decisions, but sometimes circumstances require grace in the decision-making process. This is not something I witnessed while working at this park, nor is it something I experienced as a camper. In the end, my laundry was completed and we spent our final evening at Cherry Creek visiting with the two other volunteer hosts who I worked with during the winter.

We pulled out of Cherry Creek at 11:59 a.m. on Wednesday, one week after retrieving our trailer. I record this time because as a host we could never figure out why people would sit until one minute before noon and then leave. Noon is checkout and these particular folks were always somewhat annoying as we hosts have to wait until the guest leaves to prepare the site for a 1:00 check in. We decided, as a joke, to be those people and we pulled it off!

The Finishing Touches

From Cherry Creek, we had two more stops. The first was back to Denver Mattress. We returned the monstrosity for a lighter, firmer model. Once in the trailer, we made it up and laid on it a few minutes. We picked up the bed to find it could be easily lifted to the storage below. We then locked the door, put up the steps and began pulling out of the pick-up area. We turned the corner into the parking lot and my husband gasps. What? WE FORGOT TO PULL IN THE BEDROOM SLIDE! We have never done that, EVER. All I could do was laugh and laugh and laugh. We were and are so exhausted that well, we left the bedroom slide out and began driving! I jumped out of the truck, unlocked the door and pulled it. I am still laughing at our faux paus just grateful we weren’t on the main road when we noticed it!

Then off to our last big stop – Parker Trailer where Sadie will be receiving new and improved suspension, a new pin box with suspension (hitch) as well as upgraded steps.

While waiting for Sadie, we’re back at our son’s house and I finally have time to update our adventures. Overall, we are happy with Forest River/Primetime. As the manufacturer, they took responsibility for their product and made things right even giving us a 90-day warranty. Only time will tell how the work they did will hold up over the thousands of miles Sadie will be on the road. During our discussion with them about the events over the last six months, we expressed concern that our dealer in Loveland, after being sold in January, didn’t want anything to do with helping us. This was not good news to Primetime as this dealer still represents them and sells their products. It is very important to have a good relationship with with your dealer and they need a good relationship with the manufacturer.

On Monday, April 22, two weeks after a cross-country trek to Indiana, numerous ‘misadventures’ and moving back into our ‘home,’ we wait for sunset and the beginning of Passover, symbolic of the spiritual new year. As we move into the days of Unleavened Bread, we will pick up our fifth-wheel and begin our Exodus from Colorado to the last frontier of Alaska.

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