Kiss of the Zephyr

Spring seems to be settling into southern Saskatchewan even as the eastern part of the continent is still getting pounded by snow.

The weather has been mild here for days, the wind almost gentle, and the snow is vanishing rapidly. Spring in rural southern Saskatchewan is very icy, muddy, and smelly.

With longer and warmer days, my energy levels are peaking and I cannot wait to get back outside and work on my property. It’s been a long winter of typing at my desk and I am eager to spend more time outside, working the kinks out of dormant muscles.

It’s nice to be back in temperatures where the electric heaters are sufficient to keep the rig very cozy. I tend to wake up every time the furnace goes off and therefore need very long nights to make up for the broken sleep. Not having needed the furnace in about a week, I’m seeing my sleep needs go down dramatically. Couple that with the extra hours of sunshine and I’m slowly shifting back into summer mode of needing less sleep and getting up earlier.

I’m six to eight weeks away from moving Miranda back to Haven, where I’ll be able to assess the damage from the winter. I know for certain I have some roof leaks to attend to. I also need to empty out all my cabinets and make sure there isn’t any mould in the corners from melted frost. During one cold spell, I actually found clothing frozen to the back of the wardrobe!

It feels like a lifetime since I moved here in October and it’s good to be thinking of moving again in terms of weeks, not months. And yet, the time has flown by. It’s been a very insular winter and I am so eager and ready to get back out into the World.

That starts tomorrow, as I’m heading up to Stettler, Alberta, for a much needed long weekend away. I can’t wait to see Donna and Ken! I’ve planned out a different route to get there, just to shake things up a bit.

We’ll see how the building move and power installation goes, but if work keeps up the way it is, I look forward to my next long weekend off at the end of May, exploring the Black Hills. It’s on my calendar, so it could happen. 🙂

I’m glad that so many of you are on Facebook. I’ve acquired a taste for posting updates there as it is just so quick. But I do promise to ease back into more regular posting to the blog. This hiatus was just what I needed, but I rather miss signing onto WordPress and boring you all with the mundane details of my life. 🙂

Stettler to Kelowna

Tar Sands and Fort Mac
Redwood Strands and Kitimatt
(This is our home) and down in the Shuswaps too
I’ve seen many nights feel like high noon from the Dome to Saskatoon
There’s confederation bridge and butterfly ridge and Sudbury and the Sault
I’ve been snowed in for days on the Trans Canada Highway
And that was in the month of June and this is our home

(Mike Plume Band, This is Our Home)

Bitch as I do about the Canadian government and the cost of living here, the variety of landscapes and climates of this vast country will never cease to amaze me. There hasn’t been a moment since I left my property that I didn’t look up and marvel at the beauty of the scenery, from the Prairies through the Badlands, into the foothills, and across the Rockie Mountains. That I have done this trip for the second and a half time, doesn’t make it stale at all.

I left Stettler at about 9:30 on Wednesday morning and drove straight through to Olds, where I conceded I wasn’t going to reach cheaper gas on the outskirts of Calgary. From Olds, I continued southwestward, passing Spring Hill RV Park north of Cochrane, where I stayed in late September of 2008.

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(Spring Hill RV Park)

I didn’t go through the pretty town of Cochrane, instead veering west on highway 1A just before town, until I reached the junction for the Transcanada Highway.

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(very low sky entering the Rockies)

From there, it was a short drive to Canmore where I got some groceries, using my Safeway card for the first time in a year. I bought $30 worth of food, all on sale, and paid only $20 with my Safeway discount!

The entrance to Banff National Park is right after Canmore. I elected to pay the $9.80 for a day pass so that I could stop if I wanted to without risking a fine. Having been to Banff and Lake Louise, I had no intention of detouring, but I still wanted to be able to pull over for a leg stretch, a view, or to use the bathroom.

That said, this was my third time driving across the Rockies and I didn’t have much better luck than the previous two trips since the weather was crappy; very cold and rainy. 🙁

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(Not quite cold enough for snow, but it almost felt like it!)

Still, the drive was effortless. I don’t know what it is about this stretch, but it always makes for really good gas mileage. I’ve never done better than 500KM on a tank with my truck, but I ended up getting about 600KM on the tank I got in Olds. A good part of it is that you just drive straight through, so you don’t waste gas stopping at street lights and such, plus the stretch is mostly downhill. Several times, I put Moya in second gear and took my feet off the pedals, saving both fuel and wear and tear on the brakes.

I stopped at the Spiral tunnels and the entrance to Glacier Provincial Park, where the air smelled like evergreens and snow. I wish I could convey that smell through pixels; it will be a highlight of this summer.

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 (Lots of snow on the mountains, even though it’s late June.)

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(This cut in the rock shows how much work it was to carve a road into these mountains.)

This trip, I was finally about to stop at the Rogers Pass discovery centre! It’s a small museum that makes a good leg stretch break.

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(This is the first time I’ve noticed that the GPS screen more or less matches the terrain.)

I forgot that I was going into the Pacific time zone, so I hit Revelstoke much earlier than I would have planned. It felt too early to stop for the night, but I decided to find the 2008 turnout and see if I had internet there. If so, I would check if the Vernon Walmart was RV friendly, otherwise  I would spend the night.

From Revelstoke I quickly found my first landmark, but drove further past it than I remembered doing in 2008, so I began to think that the turnout was gone. But nope! When I came to it, I recognized it instantly and pulled around to the far side. I had internet and the Vernon Walmart is NOT RV friendly, so I decided to stay put.

A Gregory Peck movie on Netflix occupied most of the evening (my favourite actor of all time), at the end of which I discovered that I had apparently left my iPad charging cord in Stettler! Oh NO. I left myself just enough juice to check emails in the morning and went to bed around 9:00 (10:00 my time).

Even though it was pouring rain, the truck bed felt cozy and warm. I would have slept soundly if trains hadn’t passed by about once every hour.

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This morning, around 5:30, it was very damp out, but not raining, so that made it easier to repack for the day’s drive since I could leave the doors open. I had gained two neighbours, an RV and a semi.

I did the math and even with the gas prices averaging $1.35 per litre ($5.31 per gallon), taking my truck and sleeping in it is cheaper than it would have been to go with a subcompact and take a hotel. I’m going to spend about two weeks camping in the truck this summer (at least) and that will help me figure out what I need to make camping in it more comfortable and easier. A taller and non-leaky canopy is definitely in order! But it’s reassuring to know that I was dry even during last night’s downpour.

I pulled out and drove to Sicamous where I got gas and coffee. It began to pour again as I pulled onto highway 97 and it was a wet, miserable, couldn’t see anything drive into Kelowna. Sunny Okanagan my ass. This is my least favourite part of Canada. 🙁

My first stop was Walmart to see if I could find a cheap iPad charging cord, but nope. I tagged in with my friend Amber, changing our plans from dinner to lunch, and then I headed to a CIBC because I had left my ATM card in the reader at the Canmore Safeway. I HATE those friggin’ chip readers!!!

Getting the new card was painless and it’s one I can now use in the U.S. as it’s part of the Visa as well as Interac networks. I was warned that there are big fees, so I’m better off using my Visa or cash, but it’s nice to have a third option just in case.

Then, I went to Best Buy, which only opened at 10:00. Instead of waiting 15 minutes for them to open, I decided to go to a dollar store and see if I could find a super cheap iPad cord. It’s been my experience that using non-Apple cords is hit or miss and has absolutely nothing to do with price or brand, so it seemed like a worthwhile experiment.

My GPS directed me to a dollar store that had a cord for $12, cheaper than anything else I knew I’d find, but it wasn’t refundable if it didn’t work. Hmm. I knew that I had to get something marked iPad, not just iPhone or iPod Touch as the the iPad chargers offer more juice. I have a little Belkin cradle for my iPod Touch that I had hoped would tide me over until Donna can get my cord back to me, but I got the dreaded ‘charging is not supported with this accessory message.’ Anyway, I decided to take a gamble on the $12 cord, accepting that I’d be stuck using the iPod all weekend if the cord didn’t work. Yes, I am spoiled. 🙂

Well, the cord WORKS. YAY!!! It is charging veeeeeeeery slowly, but I don’t care. I’m just grateful I didn’t break the bank and have my iPad again.

I then headed out to Westbank to meet Amber at a Thai restaurant when I saw a sign that made me do a double take:

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OMG Dollar Tree has come to Canada!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😀

I found Thai Fusion Restaurant without any trouble and Amber was right on time. We both had the chicken pad thai. It was fine, but not that flavourful beyond a little heat. I wasn’t surprised or disappointed since I know food tends to be bland out west. It was a nice portion and the prices were very reasonable.

Amber and I gabbed for almost two hours. It was so good to catch up!

I’m now at a library, catching up on some things and finishing up my slideshow. This branch closes at 6:00pm, so I’ll go find a parking lot to hang out in for a few hours before moving to my overnight spot, which I am not going to divulge for matters of safety, obviously.

The first event doesn’t start till 5:30 tomorrow, so I’ll likely spend a good chunk of time tomorrow at a different library.

Last Night in Stettler

I’m leaving for BC in the morning. It has been a great stay in Stettler. Donna and Ken always make me comfortable, but I have a full bathroom of my own in the new house, which makes a difference. I’m enjoying the shower!

The huge kitchen is also fun to cook in. Donna is working late tonight and came home for dinner, so I had dinner ready.

I never did get anything done while I was here since I got swamped with work and the weather has cooperated. This afternoon, I finally went out to organize the back of the truck, but gave up on the idea of properly cleaning it out due to lack of time. I really wish I’d made it more of a priority since rain or humidity got in and some of the wooden cases have mould. They need a vinegar rinse and time in the sun.

I managed to squeeze my Blue Boy in behind the front seat since I’ll be moving a lot of my bags to the back to make them more accessible while I’m camping. I have a ton of stuff to load into the truck in the morning. I used to travel light before I got used to having all my stuff with me all the time!

It’s going to be a long day tomorrow, so I’m off to bed. The goal is to pass the national parks (and maybe even do a little sightseeing) and then pull over around Revelstoke for the night. That said, it’s supposed to pour and if my truck bed is leaking, I may find myself needing to get further. I’ll post when I can.

Love Sushi Restaurant, Stettler

To my immense delight, Stettler has a brand new, well reviewed sushi restaurant AND Donna was interested in expanding her palate! So we headed out to Love Sushi for brunch this morning.

The food was exquisite, very fresh and flavourful. This was a sushi meal that satisfied the itch fully.

We shared:

-miso soup (too salty, but still tasty)

-unagi (eel) roll (so good that when we were done with everything else we ordered another!)

-tobiko (fish egg) nigiri

-spicy tuna roll (Donna loved it, wasn’t quite spicy enough for me, amusingly enough)

-California roll (crab and avocado; pretty sure this was real crab, quite yum)

-yam roll (very indulgent tastiness)

-rainbow (tuna, shrimp, salmon, avocado) roll (very good but a bit bland for Donna’s palate)

It was such a joy to see Donna savouring everything as much as I did. She’s very handy with the chopsticks!

Having to drive 300KM round trip for sushi is probably the biggest downside to my property. 🙂 Donna is so lucky to have such a yummy sushi place minutes from her new home!

Oh, and with the tip, our meal came to $18.77 each, a bargain!

Stettler Weekend

It’s been a lovely weekend with Ken and Donna!

Saturday, Donna and I headed to their RV property to finish emptying and cleaning ‘the trailer’ as the Ark 2.0 is now being called. It was a full day of hauling and cleaning, with the goal being to make the place sale ready ASAP. I was rewarded with a Blue Boy, a foot rest for my patio, and a good metal spatula. 🙂

We got home feeling rather knackered, so we put together a quick dinner then settled down with Ken to watch a few movies. Their new dog, Roxy, and I bonded and spent some time cuddling. She’s a sweet but neurotic/skittish girl.

I wound up accepting quite a bit of work for the week (why can’t it pour like this at times when I’m at home twiddling my thumbs?), so I started on that this morning because Donna was going to church in the morning and Ken was having a down day since he has a cold. I put in about three hours then quit since Donna is working the next couple of days and we wanted to spend more time together.

We lounged around for the rest of the afternoon, then I cobbled together dinner with the meagre offerings in the pantry and some leftovers. Ken is going grocery shopping tomorrow. 🙂

I’m hoping to put in a full day tomorrow and get the project done so I can finish preparing the seminar on Tuesday and also get the truck ready. I’m not really in any hurry to leave Wednesday, so it’s okay if some prep leaks over from Tuesday. I just want to get some mileage under me so I don’t get to Kelowna too late on Thursday.

Visiting Donna and Ken is just like being at home, except there’s dogs and a gentleman makes my morning toast and coffee. 🙂 I look forward to a time when I will be set up to reciprocate their warm hospitality.