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!

Settled into Life at Mesa Regal Again


We’ve been in our winter destination for nearly two weeks now. It’s about time I got caught up on posting the rest of our trip!

The day we left Nashville, we drove until time to quit for the night, stopping only for lunch in Jackson at the Catfish Gallery. The catfish wasn’t anything special, but we smiled all through our meal while listening to the wonderful southern accent of our very chatty and bubbly waitress. We made it to Brinkley, Arkansas and after much searching, found an RV parking area behind the Super 8 hotel.

By 3:00 pm the next day we had reached Texas. That was the beginning of a long drive. We stopped for the night at the lovely KOA Mt. Pleasant RV Park.

We broke the next day up with a  stop in Dallas to do a tour of the 6th Floor Museum, dedicated to the story of the Assassination of J F Kennedy and located in the 6th floor room of the former Texas School Book Depository Building where the assassin fired the shots.

We weren’t allowed to take pictures. We bought a couple of postcards.

Find out more by clicking the link above.

It was very interesting, but the stress of finding a place to park the motor home (it took about an hour) left me anxious to get out of the city and settled in for the night. We stayed at the Wetherford/Fortworth West KOA.

The following day was another long driving day, across Texas. The landscape was littered with oil wells, and distant flames spewing from the refineries stacks.

Very long box-car trains stretched along the tracks running beside the highway, and trucks carrying oil or machinery for often times crowded the highway and parking lots.

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There were also a number of small “RV Parks” along the highways, where seasonal oil workers parked their various temporary homes.

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That night we were in one of those parks, in  Monahans, Texas after spending over an hour looking for the advertised RV Parks. There were very few amenities, but we had what we needed. It was raining and there was lots of mud. I was glad I had my rubber boots with me. When the rain stopped we took a walk up the road to the Travel Centre to get some exercise, snacks, and lottery tickets. We were in bed early that night, but still a little later getting away the next morning.

At lunch time we pulled into the town of Sierra Blanca, hoping to find a restaurant. It turned out to be mostly a ghost town! There was one Mexican restaurant that was in one of the old buildings, a newer sign hung beside the original sign. There was also an Exon Station with a Subway. We enjoyed wraps there, with the Border Patrol officers who were taking their lunch break. Doing a search later, I found some of its interesting history.

Shortly after one in the afternoon we had reached our destination for that day. We were back at Mission RV Park in El Paso! It felt like home! Jim had discovered that the RV was in need of one new spark plug and he hoped that the Repair Shop there would have what he needed. But, like the windshield wiper we needed last year, they didn’t. This time we were told that they only did work on things inside RVs, such as appliances. We did find a set of plugs at another location, but it was too big a job to do while travelling and nothing that was urgent.

We did get to enjoy a lovely reunion dinner with Shawn, our new-found friend from last year in El Paso. It was so nice to see him. We regretted that his wife was unable to join us.

We were in Deming, New Mexico for lunch the next day and happily in Arizona by mid-afternoon.

Some highway signs across the desert.

Our last stop before reaching Mesa was in Wilcox, home of Rex Allen, Sr. We did the tour his Museum before booking into the Grande Vista RV Park for the night.

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There was a section for Rex Allen Junior, and other Country Hall of Famers

Rex Allen Junior in his younger days

Rex Allen Junior in his younger days

 

The Memorial continued in the park across the street.

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Grande Vista RV Park

 

We were “home” in time to make dinner the next day.

New Adventures to Spice-up Our Annual Journey to Arizona


We’re off again! That summer sure slipped by!

We must be slowing down in our old age. Despite dropping some things off at the motor home several times on our way by during the last couple of weeks, it still took us the better part of three days to load everything else that we (thought?) we needed once we had it parked outside the Condo building. By the time we were finally on the road at 11:30 on Monday morning, I think we were already tired. The rainy weather didn’t help to lift our spirits, and it turned out to be not a good day.

The driver side windshield wiper wasn’t hitting where it should, so when we reached Cobourg, twenty-five kilometers down the road, Jim felt he needed to purchase a new blade and install it. We were barely out on the highway again when I heard a thump and looked back to see the fridge door swinging open! That had happened once on our way home in the spring, but it was on a very bumpy road and it was forgotten about. Unlike the dual refrigerators meant for RVs, our newer house model didn’t come with any sort of locking system other than the suction seal. I managed to find some pieces of Velcro and secure it. An hour or so later, Jim was in need of coffee so we made a quick stop and got going in earnest.

A couple of hours later found us in the middle of rush-hour traffic going through Toronto, when traffic suddenly slowed to a stop and Jim had to brake very hard. The cars ahead of us loomed closer and closer. I saw Jim downshift and, fortunately, was able to make a quick lane-change to the left. Whew. He told me once it was over that the brakes had gone soft after the initial push. The rest of the way through the traffic he drove much more slowly and kept his hand on the gear shift, downshifting at the first sign of a traffic stop. It was already 4:15. We stopped to get brake fluid and that seemed to help a little.

There was no way we would make it to the US border before dark then, so we called Jim’s cousin, Marjorie and her husband Dave,  who had accommodated us on our way last year, and asked if we could once again park in their driveway. Of course we could. We stopped to pick up sandwiches. We arrived at Glencoe at 7:00 pm, just as the sun was setting.

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The rain had stopped somewhere along the way, but we hadn’t really noticed. It was a beautiful sunset, but then the temperature tumbled. We had a visit with Marjorie and Dave and then crawled into our cold bed. Jim discovered he’d forgotten the extension cord that he uses for his CPAP, so had to improvise. Last year, if the batteries were well charged before we went to bed, the inverter would keep them running for the night. But, of course, that wasn’t to be that night. Jim had to get up twice to turn on the generator. It was a long and stressful night.

In the morning, Dave made some calls and found a mechanic who could get us in to diagnose and fix the brake problem right away. After breakfast we said our thanks and goodbyes. When we got to the shop we had to wait for them to finish up another job before they could look at ours. The diagnosis was a blown brake line! It could have been worse. They set to work replacing it. Because the other one showed some signs of rust they recommended that be replaced too. Lunch time came and they took their break. We sat in the motor home reading. We had only snack food to eat without any electricity to even heat a bowl of soup. At 2:30 the job was done and it cost much less than we’d expected. At last, some good news.

An hour and a half later we were rocking with the waves of Lake St. Clair, on the little Walpole Ferry to Michigan.

 

Upon arrival, because we couldn’t fit through the scanner, we were told we’d have to wait in the office while they did a manual search. Hunger was making me fidgety and the one male officer was watching me. Maybe he thought I was nervous about something, but we had nothing to hide and we were soon on our way. I couldn’t help but notice the picture of a very stern-looking President Trump staring down upon us while we waited.

We stopped at the first place that we saw that served food – Hungry Howie’s. It was take-out only so we ordered a pizza and ate it in the motor home. We would have loved to just crawl into bed and stay there for the night, but we drove on for another hour then stopped for gas, picked up a couple of things at Walmart and hunkered down for the night. Our propane tank was empty by then, so we had to haul out one of our portable ones and hook it up so we’d have heat.

Day Three Brings Relief

We were up at six the next morning and waiting at the door for Bob Evan’s to open a half hour later. A big breakfast of Eggs Benedict got us off to a good start to the day. And except for a detour around Detroit that cost us some extra time, it was a very good day. We were in Ohio before noon and stopped for an early lunch at the Cracker Barrel. We were in Kentucky by 3:00 and looking forward to staying in our first Campground with propane, electricity and water. We hadn’t had a shower since we’d left home. But Oak Creek Camping was full, as were a couple of others in the area. We thought we would be stuck at the nearby Flying J truck stop. Then, a very nice man named Larry offered to let us connect to his electricity if we wanted to dry-camp at the empty space next to him. The office agreed. We could also get propane at the Flying J, and showers, and dinner! It worked out well after all.

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Lavender, Motorcycles and Prison


It’s hard to believe that half the summer has slipped away and I’m a month behind with my posts. Guess that means we’ve been busy! I now offer a summary of what we’ve been up to.

1. Something to improve My Quality of Living While in the Motor Home

The installation of a new refrigerator in the motor home was exciting for me, and I was happy with the results when we spent a weekend in nearby Preston Springs at the Country Jamboree. We decided to try a house fridge instead of the usual two-way models used in most motor homes, mainly because the very hot, direct sunlight in the spring in Arizona sometimes causes freezing on those, and because the gas components take up a lot of space that I’d rather have for inside fridge space. Household models are also much less expensive than new motor home models. Since we already had a voltage inverter in the motor home, Jim just had to run wiring to reach from it to the fridge outlet, and install a switch so that we can use the coach batteries to power it when we are on the move, and then switch to 110 volts when we are plugged in at an RV Site. It was a bigger job than expected, but worth it.

 

2. Lavender Fields

In mid-July I made a trip to Campbellcroft to meet my Red Hat friends at the Lavender Fields, but  by the time we all arrived, heavy rain and the threat of thunder storms chased us away to the nearest shopping area and an indoor lunch.

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I was disappointed that I couldn’t get any pictures of the fields, so Jim and I took a drive out a few days later. There were so many people there that day, it was still difficult to get good unobstructed shots, but here are a couple.

 

3. A Motorcycle Ride to Picton

Last week, instead of playing pickle ball on a Wednesday afternoon, we joined our friends Steve and Sue on one of the few motorcycle rides we’ve taken this year. We left Hastings at 10:30 in the morning, expecting to be gone a couple of hours, but having no particular destination. By the time we stopped for lunch at 1:00 pm, we were in Picton in Prince Edward County, having explored many country roads and covered many more miles than anticipated. Picton is an interesting community that is heavily populated with tourists and cottagers during the summer months and well worth checking out if you are in the area. We reached it via Hwy. 49, but after lunch we took the Ferry across the bay to Glenora and drove along the shore of Lake Ontario before turning back north through the towns of Napanee and Tamworth, then cutting back west to Campbellford and home. That was the longest bike ride I’ve been on since my hip replacement almost a year ago, and I have to admit that I enjoyed the scenery and the perfect riding weather, but my joints and muscles were a tad sore when we finally got off at nearly 3:00 pm!

 

4. A Tour of Kingston Penitentiary

This past weekend we went to Kingston to tour the Kingston Penitentiary, which ceased operations on September 30, 2013, and was opened to the public just last year. I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy it, but the hour and a half passed very quickly. We were amazed by what we learned about this, the first British North American penitentiary, which sits on 8.6 hectares of land on King Street. It was constructed through 1833 and 1834 and officially opened on June 1, 1835 with the arrival of the first six inmates. Our various tour guides, many of whom are retired guards or wardens, explained the operation, the security systems, the routines, and enlightened us with stories of riots, escapes, work crews, rehab programs and building updates. It was well worth the $25 price of admission.

 

After a visit with family in Brockville over the next couple of days, we stopped in Napanee on our way home to have a lovely lunch with friends on the riverside outdoor patio of a relatively new restaurant that wasn’t there when I used to live in Napanee. How things change in thirteen years!

 

Next week I’m flying out to British Columbia for three weeks to visit with some more of my family. Because they are spread from southern BC to Vancouver to the Gulf Islands, it has been a challenge arranging the various modes of transportation needed. It will be an adventure. Stay tuned!

Six Days, Seven States, 2,110 Miles


I said that I would keep you posted along our journey to Arizona, but that hasn’t worked out so well. We are in Holbrook Arizona tonight and will be in Mesa tomorrow, so I’ll give you a synopsis of our travels during the last six days.

Since we have driven this route several times, and this time we aren’t taking time for any sightseeing, there isn’t too much to share with you. The things that have made this an adventure this time are the inconveniences that have occurred.

We got away last Thursday afternoon and got caught up in the rush hour traffic in Toronto. We’d planned to make it to Windsor, ready to cross the border to the US in the morning, but it was dark and rainy so we stopped at the Onroute (Travel Centre) at Guelph for some dinner and the night. We’d driven away from the light snow that was falling when we left, but the temperature was just above freezing. The furnace was necessary. This was the first inconvenience. Jim started it up. The fan came on and we could hear the click of the propane burner trying to fire, but it never made it. Jim started the generator so I could use the microwave, and the furnace came on. It ran the whole time that the generator was on, shutting down when the required temperature was reached, and starting up again. We shut the generator off and went back inside the building to read before bed so as not to use up battery power by using the coach lights. When we got back, it wasn’t so warm, but we were ready for bed anyway. Jim plugged his APAP into the 12 volt outlet and we left the furnace running. At 1:00 a.m. he woke up, unable to breath. The APAP wasn’t working and the coach was very cold, so he had to turn the generator on again to charge up the batteries. Seems the furnace will only run on 110 watts and if that battery gets just a little low, it shuts off. The fan, however, will keep on going on the 12 volt batteries until they too die! It had been running for several hours non-stop, using up all the battery power. Well, at least we knew that. We turned off the furnace once the place was good and warm, and crawled under the covers. Thank goodness for the silk and down duvet that I’d snagged at a patio sale last year!

The second night we parked in a Cracker Barrel parking lot for the night, after enjoying a delicious home-style meal, in Joliet Illinois. Again we had to play the game with the furnace. We were up early and back on the road by 8:10 the next morning. We stopped for gas and just nicely got cruising down I-55 when the passenger side-view mirror, which had seemed a little wobbly the day before and Jim had tightened up the bolts holding it to the arm, was suddenly vibrating so hard that it would soon be off on the side of the road. So Jim got out to check it again and this time discovered that the problem was with the wood behind the siding where the mirror arm was attached. It was rotten! There was nothing he could do but remove the whole thing. Now that’s not so good when you’re driving a vehicle with no back window, so therefore no rearview mirror, and you have to depend on your side-view mirrors. Back on the highway Jim avoided passing anyone because he wouldn’t be able to see well enough to get back into the lane after. He figured if he had some longer bolts he could put them through into the plywood under the inside dash, so when we stopped in Leitchfield for lunch he got what he needed at the local NAPA dealer and replaced the mirror. We’d planned to make it to Lambert’s Café in Sullivan for dinner, but by 5:00 we’d had enough and stopped at the KOA in Stanton, Missouri. Since we’d had to winterize the motor home with antifreeze before we left home, we had only bottled water on board, so it was really nice to be able to hook up to water, sewer and electricity. Oh yes, the water pump wasn’t working anyway so we couldn’t have used our own water. We enjoyed hot showers (thank goodness the water heater was working!) and recharged all of our electronics before crawling into bed.

The next morning we timed it just right to have lunch at Lambert’s. Each other time that we’ve gone there we didn’t have much of a wait and we were out within the hour, but we forgot that it was Sunday of the US Thanksgiving weekend this time. The parking lots were full, but we got lucky enough to grab an RV spot that had just been vacated. However, the porch was filled with people waiting to get into the restaurant and there was a line up at the outdoor Registration Booth!

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We were told there was a 70 to 80 minute wait, but since we’d been anticipating this since the evening before, we decided to wait. It was cold outside so we went into the Gift Shop. Many others had the same idea. We had to get extra layers out of the motor home. At 90 minutes our names were called and we were shown to our seats in a room filled with large families and lots of chatter and of course rolls being tossed across the room. Jim enjoyed a pork variety platter and I decided to try the fried chicken. I hadn’t had fried chicken like that in years. Of course it was too much, so we had the base for our dinner in the RV that night, buying some salad at the Walmart in Claremore Oklahoma, where we parked for the night. It was windy there, but a little warmer.

We were on our way by 7:30 the next morning and except for a stop at a 60’s style diner, Jerry’s Restaurant, in Weatherford, and a short rest at a rest stop in Texas where we could have bought a stuffed buffalo for $20,000, we kept driving until Jim could fight the strong winds sweeping across the plains no more. We stopped in Tucumcari New Mexico for dinner at Denny’s, and checked in for the night at Red Mountain RV Park. The winds were so strong that they would slow the RV down so much that it shifted into a lower gear, making it difficult to climb hills.

Today we left early and stopped for lunch in Sky City at the Dancing Eagle Casino. We indulged ourselves with $5.00 each to play on the slots. Although that lasted us for a good half hour, we came away with nothing to show for it. At 4:00 this afternoon we arrived in Arizona, having traveled 2,110 miles. We drove through a bit of snow flurries and saw more in the ditches and fields along the way as we rose in elevation, but fortunately none was on the roads. We are in the OK RV Park in Holbrook tonight. We’re hoping that the snow will hold off again tomorrow, at least until we get down into the valley. It’s supposed to be well below freezing, so they wouldn’t allow us to hook up to water, but at least we have electricity and WiFi.

. ☺

Texas, Oklahoma and Home: Concluding another RV Adventure


After a goodbye breakfast with neighbours, we finished the last minute preparations, and left Mesa, Arizona shortly before noon on April 1st. At 4:30 we were in Winslow, Arizona sitting on the corner eating ice cream, while watching first-time visitors posing for the same pictures we had taken on our first visit.

When we’d finished the ice cream, we decided to call it a day. We found a campground listed in a flyer we’d picked up so called to reserve a spot. The woman implied that it was filling up quickly, and it was a good thing we’d called ahead. We didn’t expect a lot of amenities because the rates were fairly low, but when we arrived at Winslow Pride RV, we had difficulty recognizing it as a campground. It was located behind a convenience store. The gravel driveway was full of many water-filled potholes, and the water and electric hookups looked very doubtful.  We chose to use only the electrical since we still had plenty of water on-board. There were many empty spots.

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Water tap bearably visible, beside sewer connection.

We’d taken the same course, on I-40 through Gallup, and Tucumcari, New Mexico, through a corner of windy Texas, and into Oklahoma before, but this time the weather was warmer and there seemed to be more RV Campsites available.

We made one stop in McLean, Texas for lunch. McLean is one of the many towns that were once vibrant when Route 66 was the main highway crossing the nation and ran through them, bringing lots of business.  Now McLean is practically a ghost town with many boarded up buildings and dilapidated homes. Not one of the three museums was open, but we did find a The Chuck Wagon Diner, where we shared the daily special of cheeseburger meat loaf served with gravy (of course), mashed potatoes, mixed veggies, a fresh dinner roll and a piece of cake! Even shared it was too much food for us to finish, but it was tasty.

Near Oklahoma City we found a familiar RV Campground, Rockwell RV, where we stayed for the night.  The weather, that had been cooler after we left Arizona, had warmed up to 85°F.

Total length of this rig, including truck, trailer and towed vehicle -- 80 feet!

Total length of this rig, including truck, trailer and towed vehicle — 80 feet!

The next morning we drove into downtown Oklahoma City and spent a few hours enjoying the scenery along the River Walk and taking many, many photos of the magnificent, larger-than-life bronze statues depicting the Land Runs of 1889. Be sure to come back to click on the link and all the menu items on it. It’s a wondrous story. I did find the monument that honoured the natives from whom the land had originally been taken, disturbing.

We had lunch at jazmo’z Bourbon Street Cafe on the canal,

before getting onto the I-44 to Joplin, Missouri where we stayed for the night.

The next day we veered away from I-44 and took a scenic drive through the Ozarks on Hwy 265, stopping for lunch at Lambert’s Café (Home of the Tossed Rolls and extra large coffees) before getting back on course.

After that, home was our only goal. We stopped only for food, gas and sleep. Our last morning, in Erie, Pennsylvania, we woke up to find snow on the ground and Jim said, “I wish I’d listened to the GPS when she told us to make a U-turn when safe to do so!”

We were thankful that there was no snow when we arrived home by dinner time on April 7th.

I, for one, was happy to get out of the motor home that was feeling very cramped after seven months of living in it. But it was an excellent adventure!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this adventure. Thanks for joining us. Likes, comments and new followers are appreciated.

Snowbird Extravaganza


The Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA) is a 100,000 member national not-for-profit advocacy organization. It is dedicated to actively defending and improving the rights and privileges of Canadian travellers.

Each winter CSA executives travel to popular locations where Canadian Snowbirds escape the harsh winters of their home provinces, to connect with them, and to bring them up-to-date with what CSA has accomplished and its on-going projects. The month of February, in Arizona, has been declared Canada Month. What better time to present a Snowbird Extravaganza, which not only provides CSA information, but free entertainment, and vendor displays.

On Monday we made the short trip to the Mesa Convention Centre to attend this, our first, Extravaganza.

We were a little later getting to the Centre than we’d planned, and the parking lots were already filling up. When we arrived inside it was apparent that if we wanted to get a seat in the designated “theatre” area we needed to grab them quickly. We discovered, however, that most of the chairs were occupied with the plastic welcome bags given out at the door.  The seats were being saved by people who wanted to insure they had a seat, but still wander around the vendor booths while waiting for the show to begin. We managed to snag two chairs in the very back corner, up against the curtain that acted as a partition. While many people had to stand in the outside aisles, leaning against the walls, most of the “saved” seats remained empty until the last few minutes before the show started.

After the Welcome and a briefing from the Canadian Snowbird Association, the entertainment began with the kilted, guitar playing tenor from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Tom Leadbeater. He kept us clapping, smiling and singing along to the many old familiar songs of the region. He was followed by Irish-born comedian, Sean Emery, who travels across the US, spreading laughter with his jokes, sarcasm and oddball juggling stunts. Unfortunately, from where we sat it was difficult to see some of the stunts, even on the screen that was provided. The final performer of the morning was multi-award winning Country Music Artist, Michelle Wright. Sadly, the volume of chatter coming from behind us drowned out her beautiful voice.  We decided to find our way to the food venue before the rush. Outside the theatre we could hear her much better.

On the outdoor patio we enjoyed the warm sun, and ate our purchased sandwiches before the long lines began to form. We didn’t linger to listen again to Tom Leadbeater, who was setting up on the outdoor stage. We let some others have our seats.

Back inside we checked out the vendors of vacation spots, miracle pain treatments, Las Vegas entertainment and Casinos. We picked up information brochures from CSA and the Canadian Consulate before heading back into the theatre in search of seats for the afternoon show. Again, the plastic bags occupied the majority of seats that were otherwise empty, but we found two empty ones much closer to the stage than before. While we sat waiting, a ruckus started in the row behind us.  It seemed that a couple had come back from lunch and expected to get the same seats they’d occupied all morning, but another couple, not seeing any indication that the seats were saved, had taken them over. An argument ensued. The new occupants refused to leave, and the other fellow left in disgust after throwing out the comment, “Damn Canadians!” I looked around in shock. Why on earth was this man, with an obvious dislike for Canadians, attending a show that was provided and sponsored entirely by Canadians, with the majority of the entertainers hailing from Canada and the majority of attendees as well? The only explanation I could think of was that it was all free, and anyone was welcome.

The afternoon entertainment began with two senior singer/guitar players who claimed to be “the first openly grey performers to appear on stage.” By the time Bowser and Blue left the stage forty-five minutes later, my jaws ached from so much laughter. Their political comments, presented through musical parodies, were brilliantly hilarious. But the laughter didn’t end there.

Next on the stage was Jimmy Flynn, dressed in his plaid flannel shirt, overalls, rubber boots and a bright yellow Newfoundland fisherman hat. He kept us in stitches for another half hour with his “Newfie” style stories about family and friends and life in a fishing village in Eastern Canada.

The show ended with the beautiful tenor voice of a long-time favourite of many Canadians, John McDermott.

If laughter and music are the best medicines, we should be good for at least the rest of the season!