From Prairie to Rockies to Valleys

September 1-6, 2018

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Back in April, we toured 2 RV parks in the Similkameen Valley (west of the Okanagan). We were looking to purchase an RV lot to satisfy the residency requirements in Canada. On the day we arrived back in Saskatoon, we got a call. A couple was selling their lot at one of the parks. They sent pictures and we bought it sight unseen. So, we’ve owned an RV lot in the Similkameen Valley since April, but we had never visited it until now (September). We are still officially Saskatchewan residents. We will decide next year if we want to officially become BC residents.

On Labor Day weekend, we started our trek west – Paul drove the truck and Airstream with Daisy, and I drove the Jeep with Poppy. We chose the northern route (through Edmonton) in order to visit our friends, Mary and Tony.

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Jasper National Park

This was the furthest I have ever driven. I have been known to nod off at the wheel (highway hypnosis – “you’re getting sleepy”), so I keep my trips to under 3 hours. Driving in the mountains with trees lining the highways is very hypnotic, but I kept that shiny atomic pod in my sight.

We knew that forest fires were still burning in BC, but didn’t expect them to be so close to our RV park. As soon as we turned onto Hwy 3 towards Keremeos, we could see flames and so much smoke!

What a warm welcome!

 

Canada’s Wonderland?

June 27-30, 2018

After spending a month in the Niagara Region visiting family and friends, it was time to start heading westward.  We had a wonderful time visiting; however, we didn’t do very much sightseeing this year.  After all, this is our home stomping grounds and we aren’t really tourists when we return “home”.

Our first stop on our westward journey was to Can-Am RV in London, ON. We had made an appointment to get a bike rack installed on the Airstream and to have our kitchen revamped. We arrived on Wednesday just before closing, and they gave us a spot with power and water out front. Our Airstream was moved into a service bay first thing on Thursday morning.

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A rainy night at Can-Am

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Jeep Cherokee & 25RB and Chrysler 300 & 30RB

Can-Am prefers the Arvika bike rack manufactured in Quebec, so we trusted their judgment. In order to mount it, they make braces out of Zip-Dee awning hardware, so the whole Airstream looks unified. What a beautiful job! Now we can’t wait to get back to Saskatoon to get our bikes.

Also, on Thursday, the cabinet maker, Larry, removed our built-in microwave and crafted a pot drawer. By the end of Thursday, he had made a very substantial drawer that is strong enough to stand in! However, he was waiting for the Landmark laminate to arrive from the Airstream factory. It was being shipped inside an Airstream. It didn’t arrive in the first trailer, but it did finally arrive later that evening.

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Original kitchen

We spent Thursday evening with a fun couple from California and a Can-Am employee. We were all camping out in the yard. The employee, Bill, has now moved away from the area, but he works 2 days per week, so he camps there overnight when he has a shift. He does the walk-throughs with new owners, and he and his wife are also full-timers. Ingo and Mary, from California (and Louisiana) camped overnight so that they could be squeezed in on Friday for some servicing. We had drinks, appetizers, and great conversation! Ingo and Mary are leading the Highway 61 Revisited caravan (A musical journey along The Blues Highway) this fall with the Wally Byam Airstream Club.

On Friday, Larry continued working on the drawer front. He worked ALL DAY and the results are spectacular! What a craftsman! He decided to make it look like 2 drawers so that it wasn’t so overwhelming in appearance. He used all the same hardware that the rest of the trailer has, and he also did some special touches, like routering out the area around the push latch and then edging it with laminate. He did lovely custom work. Maybe in the future, we’ll be having him make a desk for us if we decide to remove the dinette. We will have to use the trailer for a while to see if we learn to love the dinette.

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New kitchen

So, we spent 2 days in the Can-Am lounge, but it was fine. We had air conditioning (and did we ever need it!), coffee, wifi, Airstream tours, and Wendy, the receptionist, kept bringing the girls treats. It was a wonderful experience.

As you are driving in Southern Ontario, you will see signs for Canada’s Wonderland, a huge amusement park; however, for Airstreamers, the real Canada’s Wonderland is Can-Am RV.

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A 4-Leaf Clover

May 26 – 28, 2018

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On Saturday, we went to a small town (Dutton, ON) after leaving Can-Am. Honestly, it really was a strange feeling. We were not newbies, but everything felt so safe at Can-Am, and now we were heading out with our new shiny Atomic Pod – on the 401! That first campground was way too expensive, but it gave us a chance to fill up our freshwater tank and do laundry.

Then, on Sunday, we crossed at the Windsor-Detroit border ($12.50 to cross the bridge with a truck and trailer). No questions were asked about the dogs. The guard just inspected the trailer. Strangely, he checked under the duvet. Paul had to wait outside, so he couldn’t see where the guard poked around, but the bedding was pulled back.

We found a state park in Ohio at around 7 pm, approximately 1.5 hours from Jackson Center, but it was Memorial Day weekend. The park host said the park was full, and we really needed an electric site to run the AC. Wow! It was so hot and HUMID! We only ran the AC on our previous Airstream 3 times in 10 years! The host said that she’d ask her husband if he knew of a site that someone had vacated in the morning.

While we were waiting, I found a 4-leaf clover! Never in my life had I found one. Things were looking up!

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The man drove around on his gator and found a site – one of the nicest in the park. So, off we went to follow him. Paul parked that big 30 footer like a boss! In no time, we had both of those air conditioners humming, and water was pouring out of the AC drain hose. That evening they showed Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on an outdoor screen. What fun!

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We left in the morning, and we had some stops to make for supplies. Was the 4-leaf clover still going to cover us for the day? Oh yeah! When we got to Jackson Center, we asked if there were any cancellations for the event so that we could be parked on the factory grounds rather than overflow. We got a great spot. Woo hoo!

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We got to see Wally and Stella Byam’s gold Airstream as well as some other historically significant trailers.  Tomorrow (May 29) is the official check-in and the start to Alumapalooza.

 

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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Even Flying Clouds have Silver Linings

May 15, 2018

I’ve been delaying writing this post for quite some time – 2 months, in fact. We were eager to return to Saskatchewan to see our friends, but we were sad about what we knew we had to do: hand our Airstream over to our insurance provider (SGI). Today, we finished packing up the Airstream because tomorrow, we say good-bye.

Last June, our Airstream had an unfortunate encounter with hail. Although the hailstones were small and the dents miniscule, the Airstream was a “total write-off,” according to our adjuster.  It wasn’t logical because our friends’ Airstream (barely two blocks away!) was also hit, but not written off. However, we had different adjusters. We would have purchased ours back, but the buy-back value was too high. They would not negotiate to lower the buy-back value, and we didn’t want to go through the arbitration process to negotiate raising the current vehicle valuation. This is because there aren’t any comparatives in Canada and SGI refused to consider US Airstreams as comparatives. What a headache! It almost seems like someone at the insurance company intends to buy it, so that’s why they were making it difficult. We will see if it ever makes it to the auction block.

Over the winter, we searched for a gently used Airstream in the US. We saw a 2017 model in Las Vegas that looked older than ours. It had been used and abused in its short life. We didn’t find anything suitable.

At Can-Am in London, ON, we had seen a new 2017 Flying Cloud on their website last August. However, when we were finally in Ontario to see it, we learned that it had recently been sold. Then, it reappeared on their website later that fall. The buyers weren’t able to get financing. I kept an eye on it while we searched in the US. In February, we decided to call Can-Am to ask about it again. We were informed once again that it had just sold a few days earlier. What timing! However, a week or so later, we got an email stating that the buyers could not get financing and it was available again. That was back in March. You might remember the day we had to drive up a hill while out on the desert to get cell coverage for an important phone call. That was the phone call. We sent our deposit on a new (but year old) 2017 30’ Flying Cloud.

Although I prefer the interior of our International, the Flying Cloud line underwent an update in 2017, and I do appreciate the new décor. Our upholstery is Dwell Ultraleather in Sandpiper, which is off-white, and the cabinetry is Wilsonart’s Landmark, which is a straight-grain laminate resembling teak and framire (an African oak). I think the overall décor is close enough to Danish modern to make me happy. I’ll miss our large white backlit overhead lockers and the higher end hardware, lighting, and faucets, but all Airstreams are exquisite! I’m on Flying Cloud 9!

Living area (old and new)

Sleeping area (old and new)

It will be really nice to have a queen bed after 48″ of Extreme Cuddling (Poppy’s favourite sport).

This winter, when people asked us why we chose our first Airstream and why we were searching for another one, we had a hard time explaining it. All RVs offer people the same amenities, but in different sizes, so why would you choose something so much smaller but more expensive?  People who choose Airstreams seem to have an emotional attachment to them; it isn’t necessarily a rational decision. Airstreams are expensive, easily damaged by hail and gravel, relatively small, not warm in winter, etc. However, when we returned to SK to our Airstream, we both were giddy. Oh, how we missed it! When we opened the door, I had butterflies. The feeling was not unlike love.  How do you describe love? What RV gives its owner butterflies? What other RVs have silver linings?

We pick up our Flying Cloud on May 25 in Ontario, so after our Airstream club (WBCCI) meet this coming weekend, we will hit the road again.

We will miss our little escape pod.  New adventures await in our shiny new Atomic Pod!

Okanagan, OK!

April 10-15, 2018

We spent our first night back in Canada at the Husky truck stop in Osoyoos, and then we travelled west past Keremeos. We wanted to see two RV parks that have lots for sale. The first one is a cooperative and we needed to do an interview and be approved by the board. This park has been on our radar for over a year now. A friend went out last year to investigate it for us and gave us positive feedback (thanks Gregory!). We really liked it, but we aren’t thrilled over the lot that is for sale. The other park is not a co-op. We liked the amenities, but it is a larger park, so we are concerned with how busy it will get in the summer.

 

We found a free campground on Crown Land (this is like BLM land in the US) right between the two parks. It was very convenient. The campground is rustic (no facilities), but it is right on the Similkameen River. There were about 6 or more sites, and some were big enough for a longer trailer. We had the place to ourselves. Unfortunately, it was incredibly windy the entire time, and we did have frequent rain showers. We really pushed our water conservation limits. We lasted for 5 nights with only 38 gallons of water!  However, staying this close to both RV parks gave us a good idea of the area, and we like it.

April 16-18, 2018

Nk’Mip Campground, Osoyoos

After roughing it for 5 nights in the wind and rain, we needed to get to a campground to dump wastewater, fill with fresh water, and recharge our batteries. We had only planned to stay at Nk’Mip for one night, but this place is too wonderful for a short visit! It is clean, spacious, and manicured, and best of all, it is located right on Osoyoos Lake. There were many lakefront sites open, but we opted for a site higher up, overlooking the lake, but more sheltered.

 

Nk’Mip is a huge complex which includes a campground, winery, golf course, restaurant, and resort. It is owned and operated by the Osoyoos Indian Band. This is the place to stay if you are in Osoyoos. In fact, we have already reserved a site for the fall before we cross back into the US.

 

We were delighted to see all the cacti in the park as well as quail because we have been missing Arizona. Osoyoos is on the edge of the Sonora Desert. We can walk about 3 kms along the lake to get to town. This is something that we have not been able to do all winter – leave the Chinook parked and walk to town. It is so precious to watch the ducks pairing off and enjoying the lake. We also saw our first robin of the season. Travelling north and experiencing spring arrive in many locations along the way was something we won’t soon forget. On this leg of our trip, we witnessed the orchards started to bloom.

We continued east on Hwy 3 (The Crowsnest Highway).  The grade out of Osoyoos is steep, but it provides a good view of the lake and Nk’Mip.

 

Licence Plates and Slogans

As we crossed the border, we were greeted by a sign:

“Welcome to BC. The Best Place on Earth”

Err? What?

Then, I immediately noticed some BC licence plates that more closely resembled many US plates. They have a photographic image in the background rather than just a simple graphic in the center. I like them. However, the slogan made me gag a little. They also said: “The Best Place on Earth”.

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Image from The Tyee

Yes, BC has natural beauty, but it is far from the best place on earth. I’m wondering if there will be a new campaign for more realistic slogans.  Fill in the blank:

The _____________________ Place on Earth.

Most expensive

Most taxed

Money-Laundering-Friendly

I had to get online because I had never seen plates like these, nor had a seen that slogan on travel guides I’ve received from BC. Well, it turns out that this slogan is actually old and being phased out. (Really? I wonder why.)

Here are some quotes from Bob Mackin at The Tyee:

How could a province with a misery-filled neighbourhood like the Downtown Eastside and a nation-leading child poverty rate ever call itself best-on-Earth in the first place? How did the politicians and bureaucrats decide to deep-six the slogan? . . .

“Yes, I am proud of the province and I think it’s the best place on earth, but it was probably not the best way to attract people from other parts of the world who think their little section of the world was the best place on earth,” Chandra Herbert said to Bell. “I’m just wondering: is ‘best place on earth’ shelved for now, and we’re now not going to see that anymore, and we’ll see ‘Super, natural B.C.’ in its place?”
Bell answered that “Best Place on Earth” was a “broader brand” used only in B.C. “to help motivate British Columbians.”

Ah ha! So there you have it! It was to motivate British Columbians. Jobs are few, pay is low, and housing is high, but this is The Best Place on Earth!

I’ve made no secret that we would like to move to BC to extend our shoulder seasons, which is essential as full-time RVers, but BC, you make that hard with your delusions.