Our Travel Blog

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Driving Miss Donna - what does this mean? Whenever I want to go somewhere, if Don is home he will usually drive. He always says he is driving miss Donna! This blog is for our travels, usually with our truck and fifth wheel trailer, but sometimes in our Journey. Don retired October 2011 so hopefully the travelling part will increase! When we are not vacationing check in for updates about our life at home and our wonderful family:)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Urban Life

Our stop in Phoenix is actually near Gold Canyon. Ron and Bev spend their winters at the Arizonian trailer park. Stopping here allows us a full hook up RV park experience, from laundry to hot tubs, exercise room to aquasizes. Even wifi if the wireless gods are on our side!

We pulled into the park late afternoon, and after an extended happy hour both Bev and I agreed the only cooking taking place would be at a restaurant.  That outing gave us a chance to discuss what we would do over the next couple of days.  I'm not sure what some folks think of as a day trip, but to Don and I that can be as far as a 4 hour drive and the scenery on the way is a big factor. We had been to Sedona 2 years ago but since Ron and Bev had never made it up north, we agreed that was an excellent Sunday drive destination. We loaded up bright and early, meaning by 10 am we were on the road. After playing tourist a bit and having lunch in Sedona, no trip in that direction is complete without a drive through of Jerome. Jerome is the most vertical city in North America, and a designated National Historic site. You can read full details of these sites on our April 2012 post. 



The next couple of days were spent shopping, visiting, eating and relaxing. With some added laundry, hot tubbing, and walking, our stop was complete. 

Bev and I both love the dessert flowers so here are a few favorites. 




I also attended aquasizes with Bev 2 mornings and loved it!  I will have to try them when the Stony Plain outdoor pool opens.

Our next destination was new territory for us. We wanted to take in the sites around Tuscon, including Tombstone, Benson and Kartchner Caverns. Kartchner Caverns State Park seemed like a great hitching post. State Parks continue to be our choice for camping, as they offer a bit of camping experience with partial services, and as well you can typically count on some good hiking opportunities. Such was the case with this stop. Although the park itself had no phone service, we were a few miles away from a MacDonalds. This allowed us to spend the days exploring and hiking, and evenings rewarded with some internet time and eek, don't say it, but work for me!  Oh and usually ice cream. Can't use their internet without a purchase. 

We made the drive to Tombstone, and hey, everyone has to say they've visited no matter the outcome. No offense to all the folks out there who actually enjoyed Tombstone, but we found it a bit too staged to even enjoy the history. But it was a lovely day to walk around, and seeing somewhere new is never a waste.  Don captured some great photos as well.

 

The next day we explored the city of Tuscon and area. It is a really nice city, but as all cities go, the shopping and amenities are kind of the same everywhere. We did enjoy the drive through the residential areas as we find this is where we often find the uniqueness of community, especially in a geographic area where the weather is so different from ours at home. The architecture is very different, and almost every house had a pool. And no I did not take pictures!

The most enjoyable part of this stay was the hiking trail at our campground. It followed the foothills for a 3 mile hike around the mountain. It took approximately 1 1/2 hours to complete, and was a perfect cool end to each afternoon, as well as a more challenging component of our 12,000 steps a day program. We saw a bit of wildlife on the hikes - a white tail doe and fawn and some turkey vultures. There were signs indicating skunks and snakes, and I was glad we didn't see those. The weather here was hot during the day, but with sundown, the temperature made it to a reasonable point and it was cool and refreshing for sleep. In fact one evening we had the fireplace on for a while. 

Today we are on our way to the El Paso area. Not sure what we will find, but it is a new state for us and the start of the journey through Texas!  I know there are some hiking trails, and we will report on those, as well as our other discoveries, later in the week. 

Have a great day everyone!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Climate Change


One of the hardest parts of this annual trek south is the change of weather. I can just imagine you feel quite sorry for us!

We left Stony Plain late Friday afternoon with Lethbridge as our first overnight destination. It was a moderately okay trip, with a few exceptions of snow on the road, one of which caused some sliding, and a new handgrip on the steering wheel.  It was warm enough to stay in the fifth that night, with the furnace on. The hassle and cost of a hotel room for 7 hours is a great motivator. 

Our first US stop was Idaho Falls. Because we had gotten the Lethbridge leg of the journey over on Friday, Saturday was a short day. We found our usual Walmart RV site, stocked the cupboards and went out for a great supper. The trailer warmed up during the outing and we were able to spend a comfortable evening. 

Our initial destination south is always St George Utah. It is a good place to set up camp for a few days, get our US phones activated, complete the grocery shopping at Costco, and adjust to the weather. By this time the temperatures are a balmy summer temp to us, requiring shorts, short sleeves, etc.  Although there is a convenient RV park in St George, this time we had researched and found a state park very close. We always prefer a state park over a RV park.  Although still fully serviced the state park offers you a sense of camping, and typically some opportunity to stroll amongst nature rather than concrete. Sand Hollow was just that. This first stop requires water services as this is the point where we de-winterize the trailer and ensure everything is functioning correctly. Often there is a blip along the way and so there was. It appers that when the trailer was serviced last fall they left the hot water heater on, and hence the element is burned out, as well as another piece not put back correctly, allowing a small leak. The element wil be dealt with when we are in Phoenix, and a trip to find the correct size ratchet solved the other. Simple fixes but frustrating small errors on the part of Olds RV. Although I had indicated my pleasure with the service manager (who has since retired) I do find their service staff have trouble with detail. The first and last time Don will let someone else do the winterizing. Not just the cost but also these ongoing mistakes. Did I mention the battery issue?  They had also left the batteries connected, causing a battery purchase prior to our departure!

So back to the trip. We also used the time in St George to have the exterior of the truck and trailer detailed. Only about $300 less than in Canada. We spent 2 nights at Sand Hollow, then we were on our way to sand and sun and our annual visit with Ivan. Previous years we met at Stewarts Point on Lake Meade. This year we agreed to try somewhere new, and headed to Nevada Telephone Cove near Laughlin. The 7 km drive down a winding washboard road to be able to park along Lake Mohave was more than worth it. Relatively alone in our area, the lack of hiway noise and peacefulness has been exquisite. This morning I count 12 units in total.

We are very close to Laughlin, and adjacent to Bullhead City, so we have enjoyed the convenience of being able to run to walmart, etc when necessary. Don has been considering how to fill up our water tanks when we are not near water services. In our previous units this was easily solved with a pail and funnel, but this trailer needs water pressure to fill. Not one RV dealer seemed to have an answer other than "Why would you not fill it up at a tap?"  Note to self RV dealers are often not campers, or likely to be what Don calls Pavement Princesses. Anyway, not men to let something win the best of them, Don and Ivan determined a couple of methods to try, and we ended up with success. Full water tanks. I need to now add a disclaimer that although I may be a bit of a Pavement Princess myself, this shortage of water has been caused by a unique design flaw, not my over indulgence in showers, dish washing or toiletry. The overflow hose works a little too well, and the water leaks out rather quickly when driving. Another issue now solved with a stop at the hardware store and the installation of a valve.

So this visit has included some work for the guys, as well as allowing some intense discussion of the world in general, and resolution of many topics. And the consumption of reasonably priced beer and wine. Rather a perfect combination. And enjoyed under the blazing Nevada sun. Except for when we were in Bullhead City, then it was the blazing Arizona sun!
In our down time we visited the Laughlin Riverwalk, and stopped for a bite to eat, as well as those parts trips toWalmart. 

Don and I also met with a friend from our past, Roxanne. Way back in the day, when we were dating, Don's friend Ron was dating Roxanne. Of course we were friends, but as life changes we moved away, she moved away, etc we lost touch. Facebook is great for this sort of thing, and Roxanne and I reconnected. It turned out we were in the same area, and hence we set up a brunch date yesterday in Bullhead City. It was a great visit, and any worry if Don and her husband Lee would find anything to talk about was not necessary. Of course we recognized each other right away, and there were a few tears on the ladies parts.  The conversation, food and coffee passed by far too quickly. Years of catching up - kids, jobs, families, and now traveling and retirement carried us through the last 35 years and brings us to relatively similar spots.  Lee is a great guy and the visit just was a tease of what the future may hold. They are a few steps behind us in the retirement part, and we hope that as their path moves forward, we will be able to see them here in the south again. 

So that concludes this section of this year's adventures of Driving Miss Donna. Don is getting his driving gear on as we move to Phoenix for a few days. Visiting with the Edmunds and some city shopping for this girl are on the agenda. 
 
I posted some photos below and will download the camera when settled next stop. 

Have a good day!


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Our Spring Arrives!

Which means that we are on the road, so the weather warms up. But until I can post about the first week of travel, let's catch up on life in Stony Plain. 

Our sleepover weekend was fun. Took the kids home In time for Blake's hockey game, then off to dinner with Paul and Mary. 

Monday morning we headed to Tisdale to visit Don's family. Mom and dad live in a 55+ condo building that has suites available for visitors to rent. It also has a coffee bistro to sit and visit in if there is a lot of company. We're so glad they made the transition from house to condo. And having the rental suites allows us to comfortably visit them.We had a fantastic visit with everyone including coffee and lunches out with Kathy, Karen and Darrell and a family supper with everyone except Ken, and a visit with Jeanine and Dave and Ali.  It was good to see mom and dad and "check in" on them as well!  I also decided if we were that close to my sister Ginger then I should drive to see her. She lives in Prince Albert, which is about 90 minutes away.  I drove there Wednesday afternoon, stayed for supper, coffee and a thousand laughs, then back to Tisdale.  We headed home on Thursday as I had to work in Red Deer on Friday.  This was a big weekend for us, as it marked Lindsay and Jeremy's move to Edmonton, and finishing the last minute packing for our trip. After watching Blake's last regular season game of the year we went home to await the Stecyks. 

The last week was spent mostly watching Connor while Lindsay and Jeremy took care of all the tasks that go with moving.  On Monday they had the final walk through, received the keys on Wednesday and the truck arrived on Thursday afternoon. We spent a bit of time on Thursday helping unpack, then they hosted a family dinner with all of our family and Jeremy's, except for his mom and dad. We love their choice of a new home and I am so looking forward to having my two girls together:)

Friday before noon Don and I went back, and we accomplished unpacking the kitchen and closets. By the time we left that afternoon things were looking good. 

We also had some other family time this week. My cousin Laura and her daughter Lisa were in Edmonton and Don, Connor and I, along with Tracy and the girls, joined them for lunch on Monday at West Edmonton Mall; Don and I had a great dinner with Paul and Mary at the Sawmill; and we also fit in a late night coffee visit with uncle Michael, Aunt Doreeen and my cousin Diane and her son Rylan. 

So we are tired, and ready for some us time.  That's what Driving Miss Donna is all about!  Follow us for the next 6 weeks, and see if we reach our destination the first trip there. 

Here's a picture of Montanna in fine form this morning. 


Saturday, March 1, 2014

For All the Good It Does Us

I'm going to complain about the weather. I know all the facts and I keep pushing through, not changing  daily routine too much, but this is enough!  We need warmer weather. 

Don and I are fine. We made a commitment in February to increase our daily steps to 12,000 and have actually been closer to 15,000 most days. But that is because we "mall walk". How pathetic that when you do the math it costs less to drive to West Edmonton Mall and walk (2 full loops is 10,000 steps) than it does to go the our local, municipally financially supported, and paid for by our taxes, Tri Leisure Centre. Based on a formula that includes the gas and entry fees, the mall is $7.49 and the Tri $9.50. That's for one person only. As long as I leave my wallet in the car and don't stop at Lulululemon, it's a win win situation. LOL

So February is over!  It was a packed month for us. As you know precious Mason was born February 3. Don and I drove up on Sunday and Don didn't leave for work until Thursday, so he was able to spend some time with all of us. I bussed home on Friday and spent a week at home, a few work meetings, a visit with the Camerons and celebrating Cal's birthday, and then Don was home and done his northern work for the year! Sunday the 16th is Emerson's birthday, and for the first time we didn't attend her party.  Affirmation that the grandkids are growing up is when they have kid parties. Emerson's was at Michaels Crafts and she had a great time. That Sunday night though Don and I and all the Camerons went to BPs for dinner and celebrated Cal, Emerson and my birthdays!

Monday the 17th I was back to Fort Mac to visit and help the Stecyks. Lindsay is doing great and by the time I went home I wasn't  as worried about her getting back into her routine with 2 kids. We had a great week. Lindsay and I got out quite a few times with the boys, going for groceries and getting party supplies for Connor's 2nd party.  To celebrate Jeremy's and my birthdays, we ordered sushi and shared a few glasses of wine. Don spent a couple of days at home catching up on paperwork, as well as taking a course in Calgary, then joined us on Friday. 

The Thomas themed 2nd party went very well, and later in the afternoon Don and I took a drive through the city and reminisced about our time in Fort Mac. Below are photos of our apartment and then house. I don't know why I'm so sad to leave this part of the world behind. I'm so happy Lindsay and Jeremy are moving close, but I really do love Fort Mac. Oh well!  

Early Monday morning Don and I headed home. Don made a stop at a worksite south of town, and we were home in time to eat and then get our walk in.

This last week of February has been great. I had 2 client meetings, a long Co-op Board meeting, lunch with Erica, lunch with Tracy and the girls, dinner with Maria, Anne and Dana, and we managed to get our walks in every day. I finished the week with a massage, which felt pretty good. I've been working with a trainer the last few months. I decided it was time to try and increase my strength, and help ensure these awesome years of retirement are healthy ones  as well. It's challenging, but amazing how my strength has increased. It is quite a commitment to walk those steps every day and do the strength training every second day. 

On the work side of things, this is Don's slower time. Who knows when mine is. LOL.  I have a workshop in Red Deer next week, a writing contract on the go, another workshop in May and 2 more writing contracts in the spring. That's all awesome news, but I wasn't actually looking for anything. I guess finally my company name is circulating!  Don has a summer job that we should be able to take the trailer to, and his work as well often just pops up. 

Blake, Emerson and Reese are on a sleepover. Today was a fun day, we baked quiche and cookies, and tomorrow we have some activities planned before we head to Blake's hockey. We are so blessed that all our grandchildren go to bed so well. It makes these sleepovers even more enjoyable. Such great parents our kids are!  Can you imagine when they all stay over?  Maybe that won't happen too often.

And as March approaches we also get more excited for out trip. This cold weather makes leaving easier. March of course is also the Stecyk move to edmonton!

When we get home from our time down south May will be busy with Blake's 7th birthday, Lindsay's 30th! and the annual May Long Weekend Camping Trip with family and friends. 

So enjoy these last few cold days (-40) and come back to see us when we reach warmer climates!

Have a great March, it should be out like a lamb.