Best.Sleep.Since.September.

May 24 & 25, 2018

We crossed the US-Canada border at approximate 10:15 am, which meant that we passed by Can-Am at around noon, but we only did a slow drive-by. We needed lunch. Our official pick-up was scheduled for Friday, so we didn’t know if we’d be able to accomplish much by arriving early, but we were given permission to sleep in the Airstream Thursday night. Our only glimpse all day was of the end of her in a bay. She was still getting her solar panels and extra batteries. We ordered 400 watts of solar and 4 AGM batteries. Some day, we’ll consider lithium batteries, but they are still too expensive. We also had upgraded Michelin tires installed, so she was getting a makeover of sorts.

It didn’t matter that we had to wait. We were in Airstream Wonderland, so all was well – very well, in fact. Ms. Bolerama got to see the new NEST! YES! It is even more wonderful in person than the pictures show. If only I could get one too! Some women love shoes, some purses, but my favorite accessory is a travel trailer! The NEST has glorious upholstery – the nicest of any Airstream I’ve seen. And when it’s robin’s egg blue with buttons, gasp! It had the same build quality that other Airstreams have. It also smelled like “new Airstream” – one of my favorite scents.

Airstream Wonderland had plenty of Airstream parts and goodies, so I spent a lot of time wandering around and touching things and doing some mental shopping.

The rest of the time, we spent in the lounge area. It was well equipped and well used. Can-Am is so busy! There are people in the lounge area waiting for service, or waiting for their walk-throughs, etc. It is pet-friendly, and they have a water bowl and treats. Humans have access to goodies too, but they don’t have to share a bowl. This is quite the operation. Our experience was so different than when we bought our first Airstream.

Just before 5:30 pm, they told us we could go see our Airstream. It was parked around the side, plugged in and connected to water. We were given a brief walk-through because Friday was our official one. Oh! It is so lovely! Then, we had to madly unload our totes from the truck and pile them outside the Airstream so that we could put the truck in the open section of the lot. The Airstream was in the blocked section, and we were going to get blocked in at 6 pm.

We started unpacking, but we were tired and hungry, and I was greatly disappointed in the Flying Cloud upper cabinets. I knew they’d be smaller than the International cabinets, but I wasn’t prepared for how small. We had to go eat dinner and rethink the kitchen, so we went down the road to a wonderful Italian restaurant. Afterwards, we were able to tackle the lack of kitchen storage.

I subscribe to a YouTube channel, The More We Explore, and the creators are a young full-timing couple who went from a 30ft Flying Cloud to a 23D International. We are doing the exact opposite. Anyway, when I saw them pack the kitchen of the 30 and put everything in the 23, I heard warning bells, but I also wondered if they just had less than we do. Well, we probably have more in our kitchen, but we left half of it in Wakaw. Oh my! The 23D has amazing storage, but the 30 has usable countertops and seems more functional, so it all balances.

Now, in the bedroom, there is no comparison. This bedroom rocks! There are wardrobes on either side of the bed, so it makes it cozy. Also, the curtains have black-out lining. The mattress is very comfortable, so we had such a solid sleep. I don’t even think I tossed or turned during the night. I finally got a full night’s sleep! I awoke refreshed, before my alarm, and ready for our walk-though!

A technician came right away and asked if there were any issues that needed attention, and he got to work immediately. Then, at 9 am, someone came for our truck to reinforce the hitch, and we cleared out of the Airstream so that the equalization system could be installed. We went to the lounge and had coffee and waited for our walk-through, etc. It was all very civilized and organized. Marshall came to get us to give us our walkthrough. He was incredibly thorough and knowledgeable, since he had been a tech at one time.

We explained to him that we’d like to remove our microwave to gain more storage and showed him pictures of our friends’ (Tracey and Derek’s) trailer:

IMG_7645We asked how we would go about ordering the doors to create a cabinet from Airstream. He said that they do this all the time – in house! They have their own carpenters and they can rebuild an entire interior or tweak an existing one. He set us up with one of the service advisors, and we are getting quotes for different configurations.

Can-Am exceeds all expectations!

We camped Friday night at Can-Am again.

On the second night, Daisy decide to do a little investigating.  She was so adorable, peeking into the new spaces.

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We will leave on Saturday and start heading to Ohio because we’re going to ALUMAPALOOZA!

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Upper Peninsula Michigan

May 23, 2018

Today, we got to drive along the shores of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.  What a scenic route!

Of course, no trip through UP Michigan is complete without stopping for pasties. Mmm!  We got 3, so we had enough for lunch and dinner.

Along Lake Superior:

As soon as we turned south to drive along Lake Michigan, there were swarms of insects in the sky! It was eerie looking because at that time, a brief fog moved in for a mile, or so.  When the fog lifted, the insects were even more evident.  Here was my first try taking a picture of Mackinac Bridge.  The insects were messing with my focus.  Don’t worry.  Your screen isn’t dirty!

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I thought the bridge looked more dramatic in B&W:

The toll is $4 for vehicles and $6 for vehicles with trailers.  I’ve crossed this bridge a few times, but today was the first time I’ve crossed when it hasn’t been windy.  I was fortunate that my parents took my brother and me across the continent when we were kids, so I got to cross this impressive bridge before my classmates could identify Michigan on a map.

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When we arrived at our hotel for the night (West Branch, MI), Paul checked his messages.  We may be going to Alumapalooza! Someone must have cancelled, and they offered a spot to us. Unfortunately, it was too late to call.  Let’s hope the spot is still there when we call in the morning.  What is Alumapalooza?  Well, it is the most amazing Airstream event!  It is held at the Airstream factory in Jackson Center, Ohio.  There will be workshops, demonstrations, entertainment, and a tour of the Airstream factory.  That means, after we pick up our Airstream in London, ON, we will be turning back to the US.  Of course, after the event, we will re-enter ON to visit our family.  I’m a little anxious about crossing the border again with Daisy, but we have to try.

I think it’ll be a restless night for me — my new Airstream is 3.5 hours away (according to Google maps) and we may be going to Jackson Center!

 

The Geographical Center of North America

May 21 & 22, 2018

On Monday, we left Wakaw, SK on our way to get our new Airstream at Can-Am in London, ON.  We made it to Brandon, MB and stayed at a lovely pet-friendly hotel.  This was Poppy’s first time in a hotel, and she behaved herself quite well.  She was so happy to get out of the vehicle.  However, we really miss travelling with an RV.  We have packed most of the goods from our International Airstream into our GMC truck, so we have no room to spare.  Poppy’s crate takes up most of the backseat, but it is worth the loss of space.  She feels safe in there.

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On Tuesday, we got an early start. (We woke up at 5:30! Eek!) We headed straight to the border.  Since we were so packed, we knew we’d set off a red flag.  However, that really didn’t set off the red flag.  Daisy did.  We anticipated some questions since her vet discontinued her vaccinations due to congestive heart failure.  Her rabies vaccine was due in May.  Since her final vaccinations were still valid during our winter trip, all was well.  Thankfully, our vet gave us International Travel Certificates for both dogs (this time for free!) and Daisy’s certificate explained why the vet deemed it detrimental to continue vaccinations.

We had to pull over for inspection.  Poppy stayed in her crate, and we went inside with Daisy.  Paul had to complete a customs form while our vehicle was inspected and the officers waited for the official vet’s response.  They were all very calm and kind and kept us informed about the progress.  Finally, the vet looked over Daisy’s forms and gave her the all-clear.  She told the officer that they don’t really expect dogs over 12 to have vaccinations (Daisy is 15).  That was news to us and the 2 customs officers looking over our case.  We knew there might be some issues with Daisy, and we were willing to take the longer Canadian route.  However, we were worried that if we were turned away, we would always have to answer the question “Have you ever been denied entry to the US?” in the affirmative.  Now, we have to consider whether we will return to Saskatchewan by travelling through the US.

Also, they didn’t confiscate the dogs’ food even though we no longer had the bag.  We were hoping for this, and it was a good gamble.  We just don’t have room for a fresh bag. We have to wait until move-in day!

Next, we were on the road and made an obligatory stop in Rugby, ND to take some pictures of the girls.  We have pictures of our first dog, Honey, here from when we moved West from ON back in 1995.

Rugby is the Geographical Center of North America.  These days, Daisy is the center of our universe, requiring much medical attention.  However, for Poppy, wherever we are, she finds the Geographical Center of Attention!  It’s true!  She always manages to plunk herself down in the middle of a circle. That way, she’s in cuddle distance to everyone.

Next, we passed through Bemidji, MN and had another photo shoot.  Here are the girls with Paul Bunyan and Babe and art in the Rotary park, (and look at what is across the street from the park!):

The girls were pretty restless and weren’t going to pose for me.

We stopped for the night in Duluth, MN.  We found another pet-friendly hotel, but this time it was harder.  We tried at another hotel, and we were directed to this one.  It’s beautiful and smells really nice!  Best of all, we each get our own bed again — real beds!  –not like the uncomfortable Chinook beds (Oh, my aching back!).

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We will end tonight with pictures of Daisy.  A) getting a bath in the Chinook (she requires bathing every week)  B) lying on the Airstream sofa before we handed it in to the insurance company (We had always protected the upholstery with covers.  Why?  So that the insurance company can get paid more in the auction?  We will USE our next Airstream to the max!  No more upholstery covers! And we will cook inside!  And we will use the toilet!  OK.  I’m talking big now.)

Fifteen more hours of driving to go.

The Oregon Coast

(April 4, 2018)

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Highway 101 continues north and ends in Lund, BC. The vistas in Oregon are unmatched. Although the highway mostly hugs the coast, the curves are gentler, and the views are more spectacular than in California. Also, Oregon provides plenty of turn offs with parking and little paths to the beach or lookouts. Dogs are allowed on their trails and even some beaches. I knew I’d love Oregon, but I didn’t know how much. This state is incredibly gorgeous, and RV & dog-friendly.

Also, along the coast, you won’t find very many chain stores and restaurants. The citizens support mom-and-pop shops. It’s very refreshing. We had lunch at The Crazy Norwegian’s Fish & Chips in Port Orford. Their motto is “Cod is my Co-Pilot.” There were lots of quirky sayings inside, like “You won’t die from eating lutefisk; you’ll just smell that way.” The fish was cooked to perfection!  No, we didn’t have lutefisk, but I’d give it a try.

Port Orford:

We camped at another casino parking lot. Thankfully, there are just frogs keeping us company here. The casino lets us go in to use their lounge and wifi.

(April 5, 2018)

We continued our drive on the coast, but we can definitely tell that we are heading north.  The rain has started, and it is getting chillier.

Devil’s Churn would be amazing to see at high-tide.  The waves have been crashing into the rock and creating a chasm.  It was low-tide when we were there, but still fantastic to see.

Nearing Tillamook (Where did the hills go?)

We took the detour to Tillamook, OR to see the cheese factory, but there were just temporary displays (they are building a new facility) and hoards of people.  We didn’t sample any of the cheeses because we saw many dirty little hands touching the samples in the “cheese buffet” line-up.

Tomorrow, we are heading to Portland (Portlandia!) to visit our friends George and Monica, whom we met back in 2014 in Europe.  Can’t wait!

 

Among the Giants

(April 2 & 3, 2018)

It’s hard to believe that a week ago, we were still enjoying the wide open desert spaces, and now we are strolling, driving, and camping among the giant redwoods. They are so massive that they block the sun and you must drive with your headlights on. We camped at Humboldt Redwoods State Park. We arrived early enough, but it felt like early evening since the sun couldn’t get through the dense forest. The scent was exhilarating. We also got to hear the campground sounds that we long to hear: chopping wood (thunk thunk thunk), crackling fires, children giggling, tent zippers zipping. We’ve always thought that someone should make a sound track of these summer sounds.

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Avenue of Giants

Of course, dogs can’t go on hiking trails, but they can walk in the campgrounds, so that’s where we photographed them. The campground is mostly second growth, but there are still some stumps of the old-growth trees.

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We wanted to walk in the old-growth forest, so we took the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail, which was approximately 1.5 miles. There are old-growth redwoods, Douglas fir, and tanoak trees in this section of the forest. The trees were far too immense to capture in my basic camera lens.

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Where’s Paul?

 

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Scorched trunk

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Find Paul

There is nothing that can compare to a walk among the giants.

We spent the second night at a casino in Crescent City, CA. At first, it seemed like a good find. We registered, and they sent us to a grassy area away from the main parking lot. That was a nice change from the usual paved lot. There was a bush on one side and a pasture on another. Poppy sniffed around for a bit and came inside. All seemed well. And then the dogs came — yes, a pack of agitated barking dogs. They were not happy that we were there. Paul had read a review online that a camper had been accosted by the dogs, but Paul neglected to share this tidbit. Eventually, the dogs went away, and a little fox came by the Chinook. We carefully surveyed the area before the girls did their bedtime business.

Two April Fools!

(April 1, 2018)

The morning started off so nicely.  We made it to the coast, got a great parking spot, and walked along the ocean in Santa Cruz.

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We even found some California poppies:

What could possibly go wrong? We were just on a quest for Indonesian food. There are no more Indonesian restaurants in Canada (we’ve looked far and wide). Any time we hit a new city, we search for Indonesian food. Well, today was our lucky day: San Fransisco has 3! We chose one right off the highway. That should be easy. WRONG!

Problem 1: no parking

Problem 2: one-way streets

Problem 3: hills

Problem 4: motorhome

Result: No rijsttafel for you!

We must have looked like Laurel and Hardy trying to get back to the highway. We first went down down down; then, up up up. Then, imagine the Chinook at a stoplight looking like the shuttle ready for liftoff and Paul flooring it when the light turned green. I think some pedestrians’ faces turned green. I almost spewed green.  I only have pictures from the gentler hills.  For the intense ones, I was holding on for dear life!

It all seemed so tame heading in:

Where is that bridge?!

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

But wait! It got wilder! We decided to stay on the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s scenic. It conjures up images of carefree people in convertibles and sweeping vistas. What could possibly go wrong? Oh dear! The highway hugs the Pacific coast. You see, it’s in the name. There is no deception. Coasts aren’t straight. We went up and down and around. There were many hairpin turns. Dishes were rattling; drawers were sliding open; I kept running back to pick up items that fell; Poppy was shaking; Paul had white knuckles; Daisy slept. We had to finally stop in Olema so that my stomach could settle and we could ask how to get back to the 101. Phew! After all that fun, we camped for the night at The Home Depot in Santa Rosa. Serenity now!

Would we do it again? Heck yeah, but in something a great deal smaller!

Sawtooth Canyon and Calico Ghost Town

Sawtooth Canyon, BLM camping
(March 27 & 28, 2018)

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Since there was no camping available within Joshua Tree NP, we continued heading north toward Bakersfield. We located Sawtooth Canyon on freecampsites.net (a favorite resource). The campground isn’t visible from the highway, and we had to travel about 1 mile down a washboard road, but what a delight when we arrived! Most campsites are quite private. They each have a picnic shelter, cement picnic table, firepit, and bbq. No expense was spared. It is all for free! The caveat is that the sites aren’t level at all, but for that price, we didn’t complain (too much). We did some rockhounding and found rough lapis.  The moon was nearly full and the evenings were warm, so we enjoyed a crackling campfire, grilled steak & veggies (peppers, potatoes, asparagus, zucchini), and a buttery Chardonnay. What more could anyone ask for?

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On the second day, we changed locations, trying to find a more level spot.

Calico Ghost Town
(March 29, 2018)

A friend recommended that we stop and see this attraction. It was an interesting stop. The buildings are original, but they are mostly shops now. The shops were fairly pet-friendly, but the temperature was too hot for the girls. One shop owner turned the window A/C for Daisy. How sweet was that? We made the decision to go back to the Chinook, turn on the generator and A/C to cool the girls down before we headed north again.

 

Spot the Chinook:

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For lunch, we went to this famous 50s diner.

We also visited the quirky Diner-saur park around back:

That night, we stayed in a very noisy RV park in Bakersfield.  The train tracks ran right alongside the park, and there was no buffer.  You win some, you lose some.