Escaping the COVID-19 – The Full Story


On March 11, 2020 we were still in Arizona and had several things on our calendar for the next week. But disturbing glimpses of what could be coming were appearing in all our online news feeds. I wanted to pack up and head for home then. But we did seem to be isolated in our little community and I was convinced to hang on. In my head I prayed that they would all be cancelled.

That night we were in a crowded restaurant for the Sandwich Islands Ukulele Band final rehearsal for the upcoming Aloha Festival, but before we left we’d made up our minds that we wouldn’t attend the huge Festival that usually attracted thousands of visitors – my first sigh of relief. The next day our park management decided to cancel all large-group events, which included the Theme Day, in which our Mesa Regal Ukulele Band was supposed to play – my second sigh of relief. Some of our Canadian band members had already decided to head for home so wouldn’t be there to play anyway.

A Facebook comment from my son, who lives with his wife in Poland, told me to “pack up the RV and get out of there. You don’t want to be caught in a country that didn’t prepare for the threat of COVID-19 earlier.” He was speaking from firsthand knowledge. We decided to heed his advice, but it took us a few days to make it happen.

Since we wouldn’t be back anytime soon, we had a couple of big items to get rid of, like our car and patio furniture. It was probably risky, but I signed us up for the Patio Sales the next day (Saturday), and Jim put an ad online to sell the car. We were successful! While the sale was on we started packing things up. I had the inside of the motorhome mostly ready by that night, but Jim had to unload and reload outside bins in order to get everything he’d taken out, plus a few more new items, in. We weren’t ready to leave on Sunday. Jim wasn’t ready in time, so we accepted the offer of friends to go to their home, outside our park, for dinner. It was a nice evening of chatting, laughing and playing ukuleles, forgetting for just a while about the trouble brewing in the world. Small group gatherings were not yet frowned upon, but we were all conscious about frequent hand-washing.

Monday morning, March 16th, we managed to get the rest of our things into place, give our forwarding address to our Post Office, and check-out. But even that took a while as we stopped to say goodbye to our friends and neighbours along the street. No hugs, handshakes or kisses this time! Everyone was feeling the stress. There had already been 400 or more Canadians pull their rigs out during the last two days and more would follow us soon.

After a quick stop at the bank, we said goodbye to Mesa, possibly for good, and began our 2700 mile trip home. Our fridge, freezer and pantry were filled with food so we had no need to stop at restaurants or stores all the way home. When Jim had to get out to pump gas, or to hook up at a Camp Site, he wore disposable gloves. He had contact with no-one. In the six days it took us to get home, I left the motorhome only once, for about ten minutes to walk along a deserted path at one of the rest stops.

Jim with his gloves on

Jim with his gloves on waiting to pay for gas at the only full-service station we saw.

We put in long days after the first one, and covered hundreds of miles. Most days were uneventful. We listen to music and started an audio book, but found there was too much noise to hear it, even with an external speaker. Transports made up the bulk of traffic on the highways, roads were rough, and wind did blow.

Thursday morning was an exception. I was awakened by the sound of heavy rain on the roof and loud rumbling. I couldn’t decide whether it was thunder or just the roar of the many  trucks on the highway, until one big clap of thunder and the roar of wind got us both out of bed and dressed in a flash! The motorhome was rocking like we’d never felt before. We thought we were in the midst of a hurricane! We were in Tulsa, Oklahoma, so that was a good possibility. We were in a mostly empty Walmart parking lot, with no service of any sort, so I dug out the weather radio that we carried with us, but had seldom used in all of our years on the road. Relieved to learn that there were no Hurricane warnings in the area, but there was a flash flooding warning (2 inches of rain had already fallen and the drain ditch beside us was nearly full).  We decided to just try to relax and have some breakfast. The rain and wind stopped as quickly as it had begun. By the time we had eaten and secured everything inside again, it seemed safe to leave. It was only 8:15. We were both a little testy after that early morning scare. No flooding impeded our way, but we noticed spots where it probably had been up on the road. Fields were flooded. It rained off and on during the day, but Jim kept on pushing. A little nap after lunch revived him enough to keep going until 6:00 that evening. Needless to say, we were in bed and asleep early again that night.

Flooded Fields Close to Road

Flooded Fields Close to Road

We’d heard that the Canadian Border would be closed at midnight on Friday, to all visitors and anyone without a good reason to be crossing into Canada. It wasn’t looking good. On Friday morning Jim decided we should try to make it to the Detroit crossing instead of carrying on to Buffalo as earlier planned. We had 500 miles to go!

We hit the road at 7:45 a.m. We made short stops for gas and to have meals in our “home”.

While driving through Ohio, we passed these strange looking items being moved along the highway on flatbed transports. The first time we saw two different parts, which Jim determined were some parts of an airplane. One definitely looked like a wing. Hours later we passed another two. At first we thought they were the same ones we’d passed earlier, that they’d gotten ahead of us while we stopped to eat or gas up. But then we noticed that these parts were a little different. One looked like the opposite wing from the first one. Because of road construction at that part of the highway, which involved construction cones along the right hand shoulder, the entire convoy was blocking both lanes of traffic in order to accommodate the right side overhang. We patiently followed along and it wasn’t too long before the construction zone came to an end and the left passing lane was freed up once more.

We made it across the border without any problems at 6:00 pm! That Welcome to Canada sign brought us great relief and joy.

That night we shared parking with several other RVs and transport trucks at the first Onroute Travel Centre that we came to, near Windsor, Ontario, too tired to go another mile. It was noisy with all the traffic in and out, but surprisingly we did get some sleep.

We were up at five and on the road before the sun came up, so anxious to be in our home town, in our small condo. Traffic was light. We got through Toronto in record time and arrived home shortly after noon, to nearly empty streets and cold weather, but it never looked so good! Thanks to Jim’s daughter, we had food in our fridge and pantry that, along with what we had left over in the motorhome, should do us for a couple of weeks.

We’ve been in self-quarantine ever since. It’s been difficult – not wanting to watch the news, but needing to know. I’ve shed many tears, not for fear of us getting the virus, but for our families and friends all over the country and beyond; for the front-line workers everywhere who are risking their own lives to try to save many; for those who have lost loved ones, and those who are stranded in foreign countries where the epidemic is far worse than here; and for the stories that are emerging of the amazing people who are doing so many self-less things to help those who are suffering.

I’m grateful for the phone calls, texts, video chats from family and friends. We even had our Book Club meeting yesterday, by video!

It’s a time for reconnecting with people and appreciating what we have. Soon, tomorrow will be a better day. For now, stay inside, stay safe and keep in touch.

Escaping Coronavirus


We’re on our way home, as are many, many other Canadians. But ours is a long journey -2700 miles- in the motor home. At least we don’t have to worry about crowds. We’ve kept ourselves pretty much isolated, avoiding restaurants and site seeing.  And so far the staff at RV Parks have been very understanding when Jim request entering his credit card himself with his gloved hands. We just enjoy the scenery and listen to music or audio books. I keep in touch with family by text if I can. And I try hard not to stress out. Not an easy task.

Hoping all my friends and fellow bloggers are staying safe and well. Who knows when we’ll be able to travel again.

 

Quick Summary of Our First Two Months at Mesa Regal, 2019/20


When we arrived in Mesa Regal on October 23rd we had a few things to take care of, mostly mundane like catching up with laundry, getting the levelling jacks down, figuring out what was wrong with the furnace and putting the awning out and the gazebo up.

The day we first put the awning out, we noticed that it was beginning to crack and wear.

“We’ll probably need to get a new one this year,” Jim commented. “I’ll just put some tape on it for now, when we get back.” We were on our way to stock up on groceries.

While we were gone, a micro burst of wind passed through our park and upon our return we found all but a few inches of the awning fabric had torn from the frame and was hanging on the ground!

Awning down

Awning down

Jim had already been to the Parts Department of Worldwide RV, which is located just at the entrance to our park, for parts for the furnace. On his next trip to pick up an ordered part, he asked about the price of a new awning.

“$1200 to $1500.” Not what we were hoping for!

“Do you care about the colour?” the staffer asked.

“No,” said Jim.

“Well I have one that’s been in stock for a few years because no one liked the colour,” she said. “You can have it for $100. You’ll have to check with the Installation Department for costs.”

The next day I went back with him to look at it. I didn’t figure the colour could be too outrageous, but thought I should just make sure. It looked fine – neutral colours. But upon checking, we discovered that that particular one was two inches too long for our frame. However, they did have another one that she gave us for a really good price and it was just the right size. We went to Installations and were told that it would take three hours to install at the rate of $130 per hour!

Jim got on the internet to find out what it took to install it ourselves. It didn’t look so difficult and we had two younger neighbours who were quite willing to help, so after we got the motorhome professionally washed, the four of us spent about an hour total, including figuring out the best way to complete the operation, putting it up. It was perfect and only cost the price of providing our helpers and their spouses with a home cooked meal (not that they wanted anything).

In the meantime, Jim gave up on fixing the furnace himself and called in a professional. He was frustrated to learn that if he’d taken out just two more screws, he would have seen the problem and been able to complete the task himself! Oh well.

By the time we got all of those tasks taken care of, and finished setting up the patio, I was deeply involved in Pickleball. I’m doing my second, and final, year on the Club Board as Vice-President and Webmaster of the website. We have a big annual three-day Tournament in December which raises enough funds to insure that we can provide court time and many programs to our members without a membership fee. But it is a lot of work for those that are willing to volunteer. I could find no one available to help with photography, so I spent seven hour days running from court to court to capture some of the action and waiting for the end results to take pictures of the winners. It was fun, but exhausting! Poor WiFi reception from our motorhome didn’t help. I had to take my computer to the Computer Lab to plug in directly to the internet on many days.

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Some Mixed Doubles Pickleball Action

December has been a much easier, more relaxing month. We’ve had time to take in a couple of movies on some of the many rainy days that flooded our pickleball courts and meant sending out mass emails when help was needed to clean them after the water was pumped out.

We found more time to visit with friends and play pickleball and ukulele.

The last week has been filled with Christmas Parties and one Celebration of Life for one of our residents.

Playing Ukulele Christmas

A few of our Ukulele Class Members Performing on Stage at Thursday Morning Coffee and Donuts

Next week, I’ll have a much more interesting post. We are taking a bus tour to Laughlin for Christmas with an exciting side trip.

Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas, or Best of the Holiday Season, whichever you prefer!

Arizona 2019/20 in the Horizon


Well we’ve been in Mesa for six weeks! I started this post soon after we arrived, and then life got extremely busy. Sorry it’s so late. Hope you enjoy the journey anyway.

The day was cool when we left Hastings on Thursday, October 17th, and the inside of the motorhome was downright cold! Jim jacked up the heater and turned on the blower, but after an hour we realized it wasn’t getting any warmer. Before long we both had our hoodies on, hoods pulled up, and I snatched the leg wrap, that my friend Alice had made me a few years ago, off the couch to tuck around my legs and feet.

It was a cold drive!

It was a cold drive without heat in the motorhome, for a few hours!

The sun came out and warmed us a bit so we kept on trucking until we felt the need to stop for dinner. We were still in Ontario and it was obvious that we wouldn’t even make it to the border to the USA before dark. Jim turned on the propane and tried to start the furnace to warm the place up. It didn’t work either! We left it and went into the Onroute rest stop to eat. When we came out, the furnace still hadn’t come on, so we gave up on that. But, when Jim started the engine, the heat began to blow through the vents, and kept us warm during the days all the rest of our trip! The nights were a different story.

Traffic was slow going through Toronto and further west. We spent our first night at another Onroute rest stop at Dutton, Ontario, too tired and too late to go any further. With temperatures dipping close to the freezing mark our only hope of sleeping was to add to the three layers of covers already on the bed. The extra tightly-woven Mexican blanket that I’d decided at the last minute to bring with us to use on the couch did the job, but we kept our hoodies and socks on!

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After a quick breakfast the next morning, we were on the road by 7:40 and crossing the bridge from Windsor, Ontario into Detroit, Michigan an hour and a half later. The Border Security Agent was more thorough than any we’ve ever had before (or maybe more suspicious?) He came aboard and began asking questions about what we had for food in our fridge. Before I could reply Jim said something like “Ketchup, mustard…not much at all.

“I’m going to ask you if you are aware of the rules about what you can and cannot bring across the border,” the Agent said.

We both answered “yes” but he proceeded to inform us that we could not have any fresh fruit, vegetables or meats with us. “Do you have any meat or fresh fruit or vegetables in your fridge?” He then asked.

“No,” we replied.

“Are you sure?” he said. “You know there is a $500 fine (or $5,000 depending on how each of us heard) for not declaring it. You know I’m going to look.”

“Go ahead,” Jim said as I shrugged my shoulders. We knew we had nothing to worry about.

After Jim showed him how to open the baby lock that we now have on the fridge to keep the door closed when travelling, he opened it and took a quick look. Nothing to see but the condiments and a few bottles of coolers that we’d told him about. He relaxed a bit then and tried to make small talk. As he headed to the door he turned at said, “How much money do you have with you?” We told him.

“Where did you get it?”

“The bank at home.”

“Do you have a receipt?”

“Not with us. We didn’t know that was required.”

“Have a good holiday.” Then he opened the gate for us.

That was a new experience for us.

We drove through the day, stopping only for lunch and gas, until we pulled into a KOA in Indianapolis for the night. We were plugged into electric and sewer, making things a little more comfortable. After dinner and hot showers we crawled under the covers to read, but it wasn’t long before we were asleep.

The next day we took it easier. We didn’t leave the camp ground until 10:00. Although we drove for an hour and a half before stopping for lunch in Casey, Illinois, because of the time zone we’d passed through, it was only 10:30.

Casey is a fun small town to visit because it’s the home of  “The Largest…”. Here are a few pictures that I took on a previous trip.

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We contacted our friends from Mesa Regal, Nancy and Dave, to see if we could hook up for a visit. It happened that they were at their granddaughter’s soccer game, just off I-44 where we would be once we got through St. Louis. We made plans to meet for coffee. But, as usual, we managed to miss a turn while going through St. Louis, Missouri and had to back track and follow detour signs before we got heading in the right direction on I-44. Can you believe that we had two maps, a GPS and two cell phones to guide us and we still missed the turn! Nancy and Dave were waiting for us at the restaurant when we arrived. We spent a nice hour catching up with them. Last year they sold their home in Mesa Regal so we won’t be seeing them here anymore.

It was nearly 5:00 pm when we left them. We drove for another hour before stopping for the night in a Walmart parking lot in Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. The store closed at night and the parking lot was taken over for a couple of hours by a group of noisy teenagers in loud cars, at least that’s what I assumed. I couldn’t see them from my window. Jim slept through it all, but not me!

We were up early the next morning, but our departure was delayed while we waited for heavy fog to lift.

That evening we parked ourselves in another parking lot, this time in Oklahoma City beside the River Walk – one of our favourite places. I’ve written about this beautiful spot a few times, and posted several pictures. But this time it was dusk by the time we had enjoyed dinner on one of the restaurant patios and were strolling along the River Walk.

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It looked different in that light. There was nothing else to do but to take a few more pictures.

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As we were getting back to the motorhome the sky started to rumble and lightening began to flash. We watched and took pictures until the rain chased us inside.

Oklahoma River Walk 2019 (4)

The Sky is darkening

Oklahoma Riverwalk 2019 (1)

Lightening Flashes Lighting Up the Sky, behind the street lamp

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A Flash of Lightening

We heard a crowd screaming and rushing back to the Party Bus that we’d seen parked not too far from us. After they left and the storm passed, a motorcycle or two circled around a few times before leaving.

On Monday, we drove and drove: through the rest of Oklahoma and across Texas, where we made a brief stop along I-40 to see the Cadillac Ranch to see the line of old Cadillacs buried nose first into the sand, and painted with spray paint by every tourist who stops by.

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We ended the day in Santa Rosa RV Park in New Mexico. The BBQ Rib special that was offered at the restaurant was very welcome. We were in higher elevations again and the temperatures were dropping.

Anxious to get to the warmth of Mesa, we made no more touristy stops. Well, maybe a little in Winslow, Arizona the next afternoon. We took a few pictures, bought a T-shirt, and slept in the RV in the Tourist Information parking lot.

Winslow guitar

We were up at 5:45 feeling too chilled to even make our own coffee.

“Can we just find a place to get a good hot breakfast before we carry on?” I asked Jim. “Sure.”

But there was nothing open in Winslow at that hour of the day, and Jim had planned to get off the busy highway and take Hwy 87. We thought surely there would be a truck stop somewhere along the route. We’d never travelled that road before; we didn’t know that it went through Coconino Forest, and then Tonto Forest. Before long we saw signs warning of low visibility ahead due to a forest fire.

Fortunately we didn’t see much of the smoke and we soon drove past it.

It was 8:30 before we came to an inhabited community and a hot breakfast and coffee at the Early Bird Café. Don’t know when I’ve enjoyed breakfast out more.

At the little hardware store next door,  I spotted a selection of colourfully painted metal flowers for sale at a price much less than I’d paid for my smaller one in Mesa a couple of years earlier. I couldn’t resist. It now graces our little “garden” in front of the motor home.

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Shortly after noon, on Wednesday, October 23rd, we arrived in Mesa, Arizona. The earliest we’d ever arrived. The sun was hot!

More about our first couple of weeks in the next post. I promise it won’t take so long to get posted.

Midland Uke Fest 2019 – A Different Way to Spend a Long Weekend


This past weekend was the first of Canada’s long weekends, Victoria Day Weekend. We spent most of it doing something we love, and the last day recovering! For those of you who are not musically inclined and/or have never tried playing a ukulele, you might not understand, but you’d be amazed at how many people have taken it up. Jim and I have been involved for about six years, having begun our first winter in Arizona because free classes were offered at our RV Park. In my last post I wrote about going to a one-day ukulele workshop in Salt Lake City on our way home, but we’ve never attended a full weekend festival before.

It began with us packing some belongings and a bit of food into the motorhome and then striking out on a three-hour drive to Midland, Ontario, a small city north of Barrie. This trip was uneventful; well, after we stopped at the first stop sign at the end of our street and we heard a crash and I looked back to see the closet door swung wide open. Upon inspection I discovered that the clips that hold the mirror into the door had disengaged, allowing the mirror to slide down far enough to prevent the door catch from working. While we sat blocking traffic behind us, Jim got out a screw driver to remedy the problem and we were soon on our way. It wouldn’t be a motorhome adventure without some little glitch!

Once we arrived at Smith’s Campground and got set up, we contacted the rest of our group, who were arriving by cars and staying at the nearby hotel. Donna, Linda and Michael picked us up for the drive downtown to the Midland Cultural Centre (MCC) where we met with Julie and Lynda, who had opted to walk. After we were all registered and made a few purchases at the Vendor Stand, we quieted our rumbling stomachs at a nearby restaurant, and then walked down to the Warf where the Miss Midland was waiting for ukulele enthusiasts from near and far to fill her seats and share some music while enjoying the tour around some of Muskoka-Georgian Bay’s 30,000 islands.

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On board we met three lovely young women who sported ukuleles shaped like fruit – pineapple, watermelon and kiwi. They call themselves the Fruity Ukuladies and are YouTube stars. Jim taught them Spanish Melody. We would see much more of them over the next two days.

Thanks to Linda for doing the video. I think she got a little too into the music!
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Nearly three hours later all seven of us members of the Hastings Ukulele Band (HUB) squeezed into Donna’s little red car to return to the hotel, where a Pyjama Jam Session was taking place. On the way we made a stop at our campsite so I could pick up my ukulele. I’m sure our neighbours, who were sitting outside, couldn’t believe their eyes when we all climbed out of the car, and then back in with a couple of bags in hand! We never did get to talk to them to explain what we were up to.

The Pyjama Jam was loads of fun, even though many of us got lost on some unfamiliar chords. It was 12:00 am by the time our friends were ready to call it a night and let us retrieve the belongings we’d left in their room. Then Jim and I had to walk what seemed like a mile or so back to our spot in the campground. The air had turned cold and we hadn’t turned the furnace on before we left, so it took a while to get settled down to sleep, and we had a full day of challenging workshops the next day.

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Pyjama Jam

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Michael and Linda Enjoying the Jam

We were a little slow getting around in morning and missed our ride back downtown with the rest of our group. They were out early and down to the waterfront for a walk while we ate bagels in our motorhome before starting our trek down the hill. We were about half-way to the MCC when a mother and her daughter took a chance and offered us a ride. They figured that two older people carrying ukuleles should pose no threat and they were heading to the same place. We were very grateful!

The morning was filled with a welcome and introductions of our workshop leaders, followed by Uke Mania – a mass jam session for all attendees, and finally an hour and a half workshop presented by a Canadian Uke legend, Chalmers Doane and his daughter. What a source of knowledge and inspiration!

Chalmers Doane and Family (don’t know why this shows upside down, but if you  click on it it will right itself)

After lunch at the in-house Café Roxy, we each ventured off to our chosen 3 or 4 workshops throughout the afternoon. There was so much to choose from – simple chord music, playing by ear, more complicated chording, scales and tabbing and strum styles. It was difficult to decide what would be most beneficial to each of us, but we gave it a shot, and came away with many new things to practice. The biggest lesson was to practice, practice, practice, something that I don’t do nearly often enough. Most of us skipped the fourth workshop and relaxed in the lounge to wait for the diehards, Jim and Donna.

After dinner, we (HUB) performed two songs at the Open Mic and were pleased to be well received, but many of the performers who followed (some young school age kids) blew us away with their talent. Made me wish I’d been introduced to ukulele at that age.

HUB at Midland

If that wasn’t enough, from 8:30 to 10:30 there was an All Star Concert for us to sit and enjoy. These semi-professional to professional, and Emmy Award winning ukulele players, who had been our instructors throughout the day, showed us just what can really be done with a ukulele! You had to be there to believe it!

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There was another Pyjama Jam back at the hotel on that, the last night, but I was happy to learn that Jim was just as tired as I was. We asked to be dropped off at our campsite, where we weren’t long climbing into bed with lights out. zzz

We heard from Donna that she’d stayed at the jam until 2:30 when it finally broke up.

On Sunday morning there was one last jam back at the MCC, lasting only an hour and ending with picture taking, hugs and goodbyes to all our new friends.

A big thank you to all of the many volunteers who make the Midland Uke Fest an annual event. We hope to see you again next year!

The Last Legs Home


After we left Zion National Park, we drove north through Hurricane until we found the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) open area where boon-docking is permitted. It took a bit of time to figure where we were allowed, but we found some other Canadians who assured us it was fine to park across from them. We found the most level spot we could, where we wouldn’t be blocking pathways or encroaching on the privacy of others, then went for a walk to see what was around us before the sun set.

Sun Beginning to Set
Our Site/Our neighbours
Where does this road lead?
A locked gate

A bush beginning to bud
My favourite Shot

The sun went down and we could see millions of stars. We watched a campfire (metal ringed fire-pits were the only amenities) burning up on a hill. We read for a while, and then snuggled under the covers to enjoy the quietest and most peaceful night’s sleep we’d had in years. No noise; no lights.

Salt Lake City

Early the next morning we were on the road heading to Salt Lake City. We could see snow-covered mountains off in the distance, shadows from clouds overhead creating the effect of oil paintings.

These were the only interesting things on the drive.

At 4:00 pm we reached our destination – the KOA in Salt Lake City, after stopping at the local Ford Dealer to get an appointment to have the motorhome issue checked out. Hot showers and great internet connection were much appreciated, but we didn’t have the luxury of quiet darkness for sleeping. There is always a trade-off.

While the motorhome was being thoroughly examined for most of the next day, we toured the mall, had coffee and cinnamon buns, and later lunch, before finding a table in the sun of the courtyard, still waiting to hear from the Ford man.

We arrived at City Creek Centre before the stores opened
Looking down and across the creek from the second floor
The outside Courtyard, with the Mormon Chapel in the background
Mid-morning energy boast
Looking down to the street from the Upper Floor Causeway between the Mall Sections
Children were fascinated with this Infinity Pool
At certain intervals music began to play and the fountains danced

He finally checked in  with the news that they could find nothing wrong other than the flawed spark plug that we’d had replaced in Mesa. With Jim’s permission they would replace all ten spark plugs. We had another couple of hours to kill so we left the mall and walked downtown, ultimately ending up at the IMAX Theatre in the Planetarium, where we watched the 3D movie “Super Dogs.” That was amazing!

At 4:30 the call came: the motorhome was finished and running well. $760 later we were back at the KOA. I have to say that we were impressed with this dealership. They were very courteous; they had an Uber at the door to take us wherever we wanted to go while we waited, at their expense, and another to pick us up downtown to return us to the dealership. They showed us the cracked spark plug, and a few examples of how badly warn and rusted the others were. They explained all the other testing they’d done and how they’d found the problem.

The following day we journeyed to the suburb of Cottonwood to join many other ukulele players, in a small non-denominational church, for a ukulele workshop and concert lead by a master of ukulele, Stuart Fuchs. It was an uplifting and inspiring way to end our stay in Utah.

Stuart Fusch tuning his ukulele
Love is the theme of the Unitarian Universalist Society where the ukulele workshop took place

The next morning we left the KOA.

The Final 1,966 Miles

The last five days were spent just driving, trying to keep ahead of the predicted rain and snow along the way.

Tunnel Through the Mountain near Grand River, Utah

The first night we parked at Western Hills Campground, high on a hill outside Rawlins, Wyoming and were again rocked to sleep by high winds. We had a good breakfast at Cappy’s, a restaurant located part way down the hill.

Western Hills Campground, Rawlins, Wyoming

Back on I-80 the winds were still blowing and the elevation reached 8800 feet. Overhead signs warned that there could be wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph and high profile, light-weight vehicles should turn off. That was us, but where were we to go? We carried on, out of Wyoming and half-way through Nebraska to Lexington, where we found a Walmart that night.

Steep Climb to 8800 feet

At Sleepy Hallow Good Sam Campground, in Oxford Iowa the next night, more high winds, thunder and heavy rain disturbed out sleep. At 6:00 am the roaring winds had me up and dressed, ready to escape what sounded like a tornado, but it settled down enough for us to have breakfast before we left. Getting out of our spot was tricky though. The sites were built along the side of a hill and the narrow, up-hill roads between them were partially washed out in places, requiring a sharp left turn to get onto them. We got stuck in the wet grass beside us. After a couple of tries, Jim managed to get purchase on the gravel and gunned it up the hill. I was so glad to get out of there. It’s a very pretty spot, but the access roads and parking sites need a lot of work. That was our last campground stay.

This will be a pretty Campground in the spring and summer, but the roads need work

We got the rest of the way through Iowa, and all the way through Illinois, still on I-80, and to Elkhart, Indiana the next day. The Cracker Barrel was ours for dinner, the night, and breakfast. We would have gotten further if it hadn’t been for a tanker roll over in Illinois that caused a two-hour delay.

The following day we continued to fight the winds and we decided to turn north at Michigan instead of continuing on to Pennsylvania and New York state, where we usually cross the border at Niagara Falls. We were hoping the winds would be lighter. They weren’t.

Trucks lined up at Border
Flags blowing Straight out at the Enroute Travelers Centre

After we crossed into Canada at Detroit (where we got lost trying to find our way to the bridge) they got even worse! We were ready to stop for the night at Tilbury, west of Toronto, but snowy predictions for the next morning and the continued winds, pushed us on home. We arrived at 9:15 pm. Home was a beautiful sight, even though it was cold!

Picturesque Zion National Park


The night before we left St. George for Zion National Park a very scary wind burst roared around our motorhome, sending it rocking. I was sure it was a tornado and wasn’t able to get to sleep until it had passed. Fortunately it lasted only ten or fifteen minutes.

We were aiming to reach Zion before the nine o’clock rush, but didn’t make it. We found a parking lot downtown and hopped onto the free shuttle bus that took us to the Visitors Centre on the mountain. After paying the entrance fee ($35 for the two of us) and looking at the map to see what hiking options were available, we chose to take the park shuttle bus to the end of the line and come back down jumping off at the trails that sounded the most interesting and most easily accessible for a couple of aging seniors.

Our first views as we made our way to the top

Of the three we chose, we managed to get through only two. Apparently I stop too many times to take pictures!

But there is no better way to describe the experience than with pictures, and even then my photography won’t convey all the senses that the sites stimulated. But I’m going to try.

The first trail we took was to the Lower Emerald Pool.

Interesting rock formations and colours along the trail

This trail normally continues to Upper Emerald Pool, but it was closed off due to a recent rock slide.

Centre left is where the rock slide blocked the trail to Upper Emerald Pool

By the time we were back from that hike we were tired and hungry. We took the shuttle to the Zion Lodge, for sustenance.

When we were walking toward our next trail choice, The Riverside Walk,  I saw a man coming our way who was dressed just like Jim – Tilley hat, blue shirt, dark sweater – and I commented about it. As he walked by we heard him say, “Jim?’

We couldn’t believe that it was someone we knew, a member of Jim’s former Bike Club from home, 2500 miles away! He and his wife and brother-in-law were there on a bus tour.

The Riverside Walk

These well-fed little guys were everywhere and completely unafraid

These mule deer were grazing beside the pathway

We had seen a sign telling us that “The Narrows was closed due to flooding, but when we got to the end of the path we were on, we figured we were there and it must have re-opened. But when Jim joined others on the beach area, he was able to take some pictures of what was really the flooded “Narrows.”

Before we knew it, it was 4:00 and we were done. We had planned to stay in St. George for the night again, and then drive to Bryce Canyon in the morning, but for a couple of reasons we opted to just find a place to dry-camp in the Utah desert and drive straight to Salt Lake City the next day, where we would get the motorhome checked out again (it was still missing) and attend a Ukulele Workshop and Concert on Saturday.