Winnipeg to Saskatoon in the Motorhome


We arrived at a campground outside Winnipeg in the late afternoon on Wednesday. The grey skies cleared out and blue replaced them, just in time for us to unload the bike and ride into Winnipeg for a quick look-around. We found The Forks, a meeting place where the Red River and the Assinboine River converge. There is a big indoor market there now, several restaurants and a boardwalk along the banks of the river. We didn’t see much as it was near closing time, and we became engaged in conversation with a retired school teacher who is now a publisher of children’s books and was giving away a few samples while trying to sell others. She was very interesting and excited about the books. When we finally walked away, a couple of books in hand, the other shops had closed. We returned to the campground with plans to return the next day.

The next day was sunny and warm, perfect for a motorcycle ride back to The Forks to begin our tour of the city. We started at the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Little did we know that we would become so enthralled with what we saw there, it would be all that we’d have time to see.

Along the path leading to the entrance of the very unique building, we were greeted by a bronze statue of Ghandi.

GhandiAt the desk we were offered tickets for an architectural tour of the building, which would start in fifteen minutes. While we waited in the rotunda for the tour to begin, we watched with fascination as shadows of people of many statures, ages and sexes walked to a white board and wrote a greeting in their native language. Thirty-seven languages were represented.

Greetings on white boardGreetings on white boardThen the tour began. There is too much detail to cover here, so I’ll just share some photos and highlights. A quote on the website (https://humanrights.ca/) sums it up:

“The Canadian Museum for Human Rights will take you on a journey of education and inspiration unlike anything you’ve experienced before.”

Every component of the building was inspired by the late a philanthropist Israel Asper, to represent some aspect of life.

Once the architectural tour ended at the top of the tower, overlooking the city, we were on our own to tour the galleries.All were inspiring. Some were elating, others were depressing. The history of how inhumanly some humans have been treated over the centuries brings a tear to the eye, but changes have been made and the fact that more are being made, brings hope.

However, to quote John Humphries, “There will be peace on earth when the rights of all are respected.” We still have a long way to go.

One thing that impressed me was the stone carvings in one gallery that listed the names of every person who contributed to the building of the museum, from architects to pipe fitters and electricians. They all were recognized.

Contributors

One small section of the list of contributors

We took the stairs and ramps down to the main floor, learning new things in every gallery along the way. We finished in the private room dedicated to the interesting display of the Magna Carta, which was on loan for only another week. I couldn’t help but wonder when our current Prime Minister might have last read this document, if ever.

By the time we got back to the bike it was too late to do anymore touring. Instead we relaxed over plates of pasta and salad at The Spaghetti Factory, which was a real treat since these restaurants have all disappeared from most of Canada.

We were on the road in the motor home the next day, over some very rough roads, with strong winds blowing across the prairie. Our next stop was in Saskatoon where we spent a couple of nights with my cousin Terry and his wife Liz. It was fun to catch up with them and we enjoyed the tour of Winnipeg that they gave us, including a look into the Diefenbaker Canada Centre at the University of Saskatchewan, where we learned some more facts about our country’s history that we hadn’t known before.

Diefenbaker Memorial

Diefenbaker Memorial

Terry showed the rowing sculls that he and members of the Saskatoon Rowing Club use.

Rowing sculls

Saskatoon Rowing Club sculls

Some busy beavers have decided the dock is the perfect spot for their home, and everyday club members dismantle it only to discover it back the next morning.

Beaver Hut

Beaver Hut in Progress

We had lunch at The Berry Barn, where all things Saskatoon Berries were on the menu.

The Berry Barn

The Berry Barn

Jim was the only one to try a piece of pie after we finished our main course, but I had a taste. Hmm.

Next stop: Edmonton, Alberta

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Another Camping World/Good Sam RV Rally


Camping World is United States’ largest RV and outdoor retailer; Good Sam is the world’s largest RV owner’s organization. Together they host America’s largest RV Rally. We attended our first Rally in Syracuse, NY in 2013.This year The Rally was held near Phoenix, only an hour away from us, so we had to go.

We signed up for the Early Bird Special and arrived at the venue, Phoenix International Speedway in Avondale, at 4:30 on the Tuesday afternoon. We were very impressed with the way all the rigs were neatly and efficiently directed to the parking spots by volunteers. Once we were installed a friendly lady was at our door with our registration package, which meant we didn’t have to walk to a booth and stand in line like last time. The window stickers with QR codes, which came by mail after we’d first registered online, were a major help, and this time they didn’t have rain and mud to deal with. There wasn’t much happening that first night so we just relaxed with our books – no electricity unless we ran the generator, no Wi-Fi.

When we got up the next morning at 8:00 am we were still the last coach in our designated row and we could look across the massive parking lot right out to the entrance. We watched out the window as a new procession of attendees, in everything from small camper vans to forty-foot-plus luxury coaches or fifth-wheels, began. Over the next few days thousands of RVs would fill the several acres of space.

Rows of RVs under the sunset

Rows of RVs under the sunset

We met our next-site neighbours, Bill and Jan Mains, from Casa Grande, who are avid RVers. Jan had her one leg in a cast, due to a broken foot, but she determinedly got around using a little scooter to support the foot that couldn’t touch the ground.

We got our bikes together and went for a ride around the top of the raceway stands, chatting with people along the way. Our fold-up bikes are always a topic of conversation.

Jim on fold-up bicycle overlooking speedway

Jim on fold-up bicycle overlooking speedway

At noon we were allowed into the Rally area, the infield of the race track. We looked through some new RVs until it was time for a seminar on making your RV more fuel efficient, at 1:00 pm. We got some good information. By then my stomach was grumbling. It was a long way back to our RV, so we chose to have pizza from one of the few food vendors that were open that day. There was a Craft Show that Jim wanted to see, but by the time I’d come back from the restroom next door he’d seen it all; not many vendors and not many customers. We toured through a few more new RVs, just for curiosity sake. These $400,000 to $800,000 luxury models wouldn’t have interested me even if we had the money to spend. They are very pretty and have all the bells and whistles, but most are not very well laid out and they are too big to fit into many campgrounds. We soon made our way back to the gate where we’d left our bikes chained to the fence.

Back at the camp site, Jan and Bill were trying to entertain some friends on the tiny spot of empty space in front of their fifth-wheel. The sites were wide enough for only a rig and a pull or tow vehicle beside it. “Patio” space was practically non-existent. More of their friends arrived so we invited them to join us on our site, since we had no extra vehicle, leaving us plenty of patio space. We all visited until the sun went down and the temperature dropped. Then we retreated to the comfort of our “homes” for dinner and downtime.

Jan and Bill on right

Jan and Bill on right

During the next few days we rode the shuttle trolley back and forth between the rally exhibits and our RV, to take in a few more seminars, listen to afternoon entertainers and view more RVs. The most appreciated information we came away with was the value of having a voltage protector plus surge protector rather just a surge protector on your RV plug-in. We heard horror stories about some campgrounds/RV parks having open grounds or reverse polarity in their wiring systems that can cause major damage to an RV without a voltage protector. The Wi-Fi at the media centre was spotty so posting blogs or anything else other than doing emails was difficult. We managed to spend some money at the huge vendor tent, and dropped $14.00 for two cheeseburgers and $4.00 for a bottle of water at the Food Court, the second day there. The next day I packed a lunch. We saw a few lower-priced RVs that we really liked, but because of our poor Canadian dollar exchange even those were beyond our budget. I was disappointed because I would so like to have more kitchen space and closets.

Smiling in our first "dream" Coach

Smiling in our first “dream” Coach

On Thursday night we sat in the grandstand to watch and listen to the Tina Preston Band. They were pretty good. It was unfortunate that the stage was set up in the infield a hundred feet away from the first row of seats, and the bleacher seating was protected by wire mesh fencing, making it difficult to see. There were TV screens though. On Friday night the entertainment was provided by Ticket to Ride, a Beatles Tribute Band and they had the bleachers rocking and stomping until 9:00 pm.

Looking at the Band Stage

Looking onto the band stage from our seats in the bleachers

Saturday afternoon the good weather ended and it started to rain as we were riding the trolley back to camp. We didn’t go back for the Neil Diamond Tribute Band that night. It rained all night long. We’d seen everything we wanted to see, so after breakfast Sunday morning we packed up and left for Mesa Regal. It was a fun few days, but if we do another rally I think I’d rather spend more time getting to know some of the other RVers and less time dreaming about impossibilities.

Load It Up, Move It Out, Arizona Bound


Well, that last adventure was a lot of hard work! We are mostly settled in our new little condo and we are pleased with it. What isn’t settled can wait until spring. Now we’re ready for a holiday. I never did get to post the Bikers Reunion article, but it will come.

Tomorrow, once we finish loading up the RV and deliver the car for storage, we will be hitting the road again for our next adventure. The final destination is again Mesa Arizona, but this time we hope we are leaving early enough that we won’t be chased by snow so we can take our time. We want to fill in on our map some of the states that we haven’t been with the motor home. Our sights are set on Memphis Tennessee, New Orleans, and Houston.

Hope you’ll join us on this new journey.

A Beautiful Day to Ride


At 10:00 am yesterday morning, fourteen motorcycles carrying twenty people set off from Mesa Regal toward the open road.  Jim and I were among them, having just hooked up with a group of regular riders. Most of the bikes were Harleys, but another Suzuki and a Honda were part of our minority. That didn’t seem to matter.

Pat led us out Hwy 60 and then south towards Florence, where we made a pit stop at the River Bottom Grill, and had a bit of time to get to know a few people better. It turned out that Pat and Catherine are from another Arizona city just north of here – Prescott. I told her that I’d lived a good portion of my life in the community of Prescott also — Prescott, Ontario that is. We chuckled over our different pronunciations of the word.

Riders, taking a break

Riders, taking a break

From there we turned west onto Hwy 287 and then south on Hwy 87 through Coolidge. The day was warm and sunny, although a haze of sand could be seen in the distance at the base of the mountains.

Desert Haze

Desert Haze

In a couple of spots the winds got really strong, hampering my efforts to take pictures. We passed fields where cotton had been harvested and clumps that had escaped lay on the ground in a rectangle marking where the bales had sat. I would have liked to pick up a handful.

We continued south until we hit Hwy10 and rode north-west for a few more miles until we reached our destination – Eloy, home of Sky Dive Arizona. No, none of us planned on jumping, but after an excellent lunch in the Bent Prop Saloon & Cookery, we sat outside to watch plane-load after plane-load of braver souls silently and skillfully drift to the ground with their colourful parachutes above them.

Jumping from plane

Look closely. See the man below the tail?

Coming down

Perfect landing

Perfect Landing

The ride home was by a more direct route, and, except for a ten minute delay in a construction zone, much faster. There was some confusion when Pat pulled into a parking lot and we were waved on to follow the next bike in line. We lost a few more along the way, so never got to say thanks for the ride to anyone but Dan. We enjoyed it.

Our First Christmas in Our Home-away-from home


Our Tree

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here in Mesa Arizona, at Mesa Regal RV Resort, for two weeks already. As the saying goes, “Time flies when you’re having fun.”  There is so much to see and do here.

One evening we were out on the bike, looking for a coffee shop I think (or perhaps ice cream), when we noticed, not for the first time, three lit up camels in a yard along Main Street.

Three CamelsThis time we decided to investigate. We were awed by what we found! The camels were on the grounds of the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) Temple, and the camels were only a small incentive to draw people in to see the thousands of other lights, listen to a choir performance, and view the many Christmas Nativities. Several of these were life-size, on the temple grounds; others were miniature nativities from around the world, displayed in a room inside the Visitors Centre. We tried to take pictures with what cameras we happened to have with us – a point-and-shoot and an iPhone, while holding onto our motorcycle helmets. Needless to say, we didn’t get the pictures that we’d hoped for, but here are a few of the best.

Star of Bethlehem

Nativity 1

Miniature Nativities

Nativity 2

Mesa Regal is very much in the Christmas spirit, with street decorating contests, street parties with Santa Clause, a Christmas dinner, and school choirs entertaining.

Lighted Bicycle

Street Lights

We’ve had our picture taken with Santa a few times.

With Santa 1 With Santa 2

Santa 3

On Wednesday we took advantage of a Gift Certificate given to us as a Christmas gift from Jim’s daughter and family. We signed up for a four hour jeep tour with Apache Trail Tours, and had a great time bouncing over rough, twisty trails and holding our breath, while at times looking straight down the side of a cliff, as we were transported from and elevation of 1100 feet to 9000 feet, up the Superstition Mountains. The view of Canyon Lake, and the changing rock formations and vegetation, and the history told to us by our driver/guide made it a very worthwhile adventure.

Canyon Lake

Looking down to Canyon Lake

One of many sharp curves on the edge of the mountain

One of many sharp curves on the edge of the mountain

With our GuideWe hope to go back another day to the old west village from where the tour began to do some more exploring, but by the time the tour was done we had just enough time left to get to the Christmas dinner, for which we’d purchased tickets.

Petersons Mercantile

The Western Village

Despite all of the decorations and parties, we’re still having trouble believing that Christmas is just a few days away. We’ll spend Christmas Eve with some of our new friends at a house party. Christmas Day we hope to connect with our families back home through the internet. We miss them all.

WISHING EVERYONE A MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, AND SAFE TRAVELS.

See you in the New Year.

Spectacularly Fed and Entertained in Branson Missouri


Monday, December 2

We left Sullivan without incident and arrived in Branson at around 1:30, after a brief stop at Springfield to get information about RV Resorts, and shows in Branson. After a quick lunch in the motor home while sitting in the Walmart parking lot, and picking up tickets for a show, we drove through the downtown strip and then to the recommended RV Park. It was closed for the season.  Fortunately, I had located another one in the Good Sam book, our second choice only because it was further out of town. By now it was going on three o’clock and it had been recommended that we arrive at the show by 4:00. We were going to the Dixie Stampede Dinner Theatre. We found the “America’s Best RV Park” high on a hill. It was large and welcoming, but they were too getting ready to close for the season in a couple of weeks. There were only about a dozen other RVs occupying spots. We registered, found our site and then had to head back into town. The bike was too oily to ride, and they gave us no place to leave the trailer, so we had to take the entire rig along and hope we could find parking. We did. It was a very large parking lot. We arrived at 4:00 pm exactly and had time to visit a bit with the horses in the stalls along the walkway to the main entrance. These were the last pictures that we were allowed to take until we exited the building again, two hours later.

IMG_2404

White Horse

As with all tourist entertainment shows these days, we had to pose for the staged photo before we were directed into the Carriage Room at 4:30. What a beautiful room with its dark wooden beams, stairs and balconies. In the centre of the room was a stage, and soon the pre-show entertainment arrived, a young man who told us he was going to juggle. Few were impressed; after all, jugglers seem to be a dime a dozen, right? But when this fellow concluded his act, there were many more fans of juggling than there had been. All of his tricks were very unique, skill testing and sometimes downright dangerous, like his finale – juggling flaming torches while standing on the rung of an inflamed ladder that was perched upon a burning rope! Wow! I wanted so badly to sneak my camera out of my purse for a quick photo.

From the Carriage Room we were directed to the big horseshoe-shaped arena, another impressive place with tiered rows and rows of shiny wooden “tables” extending around the perimeter, and comfortable chairs where we sat shoulder-to-shoulder with the other guests. The waiters all wore elf costumes, in keeping with the Christmas theme of this show. We were warned that our fingers would be our only utensils. A plate, a bowl with a handle, a sealer jar, and paper napkins made up the extent of our place settings.

Soon the show began with the beautiful horses we’d seen outside, now dressed in their finest and ridden by young cowboys and cowgirls in red and green satin shirts and jeans. We watched in awe as they performed some intricate routines, and some of the riders did tricks. We learned from the man sitting next to me that his brother was the Roman-style rider (two horses, one foot on each horse back). During all of this our dinner was being served. Warm cheesy biscuits were placed on our plates, a delicious cream of vegetable soup was ladled into our bowls, and we were offered a choice of iced tea or Pepsi in our sealer jars.

When the horses left and a Toy Shop was lowered from the ceiling, it was difficult to concentrate on eating. A brightly clad toy soldier rode in on a fluorescent lime green and white horse; Raggedy Ann and Andy danced with GI Joe; a fairy princess floated around above them. We thought how much our grandchildren would enjoy all of this.

Once the soup and biscuits were consumed, our plates were filled with small whole roasted chickens, thick slabs of seasoned, roasted potato, corn on the cob and a slice of pork tenderloin.

The Toy Shop disappeared.  We were entertained by a redneck clown, and were divided into teams delegated to cheer for either north or south for various “rodeo” competitions, all done with humour and no harm to any animals. Appropriately, we were on the “north” team, and reigned victorious when all was done.

A beautiful live nativity appeared, complete with a donkey, sheep and even the Three Wise Men riding live camels. Carols were sung and Christmas scripture read, before the Angel Gabriel appeared in the sky.

We cleaned up our greasy fingers with the warm wet towels provided; our plates were removed and replaced with new ones holding warm apple turnovers! I was glad that I’d opted to use the “doggie bag” for the rest of my chicken!

A videotaped Christmas greeting from Dolly Parton, a visit from Santa, and introductions of all the performers brought the production to an end. Outside, the darkness was lit up by the pretty Christmas lights. We made our way back to the campsite, full and happy.

Dixie Stampede Theatre

Dixie Stampede Theatre

Dixie Stampede Theatre

From Ontario to Missouri


We got off to a late start on Friday, with temperatures well below freezing. We had to wait for the furnace on the motor home to warm things up a bit before loading electronics and some liquids. Then, once the sun started to melt the snow on the roof, we discovered a leak around the newly replaced window. That meant that, once we were loaded, we had to make a quick detour back to the glass place for a fix.

We were just about at Hwy 115 when we ran into Tim Horton’s for what may be the last of our favourite coffee for a while. Jim had a conversation with a fellow biker while waiting in line, and he gave him some good advice – spray the bike with PAM to protect it from the snow and salt! That’s a tip he hadn’t heard before, and since there was plenty of salt on the roads when we left, we decided that a trip back to a grocery store for that always useful vegetable spray would be worthwhile. At 3:00 pm, just an hour and a half after we’d left our driveway, we were finally on our way.

Leaving The Snow

Leaving The Snow Behind

The roads were clear and the driving uneventful, but traffic was heavy and slow going through Toronto. We also drove into a bright sun for the later part of the afternoon. A stop in Milton for dinner didn’t make much difference in the traffic, and by 8:30 Jim was tired enough to call it a night. We spent that first night in our “new home” in a Flying J parking lot at St. Thomas, which was what we’d expected to do since there are no camp grounds or RV Parks open in Ontario this time of year.

We were up and eating breakfast at Denny’s by 6:00 am on Saturday. By 8:00 am we were crossing the border into the USA at Sarnia, with no problems. The rest of the day was unexciting, until we pulled into a Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Bloomington Michigan for dinner. Jim still had his foot on the gas pedal when a black car pulled up beside us and the driver motioned Jim to open his window. The fellow began a whole sob story about how he needed money for food and gas so he could get back home for Thanksgiving, or after, I’m not sure which. He offered his driver’s licence and registration as proof of his worthiness. When Jim said he couldn’t help him, he immediately backed up beside another car, then another, tearing around the parking lot like a maniac. He drove a newer looking large car. I wondered if begging was how he managed to pay for it. When we got into the restaurant and reported him, others had already beaten us to it and he was sent on his way. We parked in a TA Truck Stop that night.

This morning we decided it was time for a shower. We can’t fill our water tanks until they’ve been drained of the antifreeze, and we have a source of water, which will require a campsite with hookups. So we took advantage of the showers offered by TA. This was our first experience with this and it took several tries before we figured out how to do it. We had to pay ($13.00 each) at a kiosk to get a pass code to the private shower rooms. While we paid for the first one, a very nice trucker came by and said that he had extra shower credits that he would be glad to give us. He used his membership card to purchase the second shower for us. Somehow, we ended up with a third ticket. The friendly and helpful girl who looked after the showers spoke on our behalf and got us a refund on the one we’d actually paid for. The day was off to a good start, and the lovely warm, soft water, fresh towels and extremely clean shower room made it all the better. We were much later getting started today after all of this, but we were refreshed. Again the sun was shining. The country was flat and the drive a little boring until we crossed the bridge from Illinois to Missouri. Jim thought a side trip into St. Louis would be nice. I agreed, but worried a little about how we’d get around the city with our total of 46 feet of vehicles. My fears weren’t completely unfounded. We were trying to find a place to park near the Gateway Arch, and the waterfront. We started down one hill and could see the water at the bottom, but just as we hit the last block and approached a bridge, we saw the warning: Bridge height only 12ft. 2in.!

Low Bridge

I don’t think so!!

Now we aren’t sure just how high our new rig is, but it has to be close to that. So Jim had to back up the hill to the last intersection and turn the rig around! We then turned right, down another street that soon became a narrow road of cobblestones. For three blocks we slowly bumped over that before we found another street to take us to the waterfront. All along Leonor K. Sullivan Blvd, which borders the harbor, there were “No Parking, Tow-Away Zone” signs posted along the street. Several cars were parked there, but did we want to take a chance? Jim got out and talked to Santa Claus, a horse-drawn carriage driver, who told him where there was free RV parking further along the street.

Santa Claus

Santa Claus

What a beautiful day to get out and walk a bit. The temperature was around 20 degrees Celsius, apparently rare for this time of year. We took pictures of River Boats, and bridges, and the Arch; we took the tram to the top of the Arch and looked down. Two hours later, after getting lost once more, we found our way back to I-44 to continue our journey.

Gateway Arch

Gateway Arch

Tonight we’ve taken the evening off, in Sullivan Missouri. If this weather keeps up, tomorrow night we will find a campground where we can get charged up and filled up for the rest of the trip. Branson Missouri is also on tomorrow’s agenda.

A special thanks to Denny’s Restaurants for the great meals and internet access.