October 2015 (Oh, What a Night)

Southern SK had a bad windstorm yesterday. I think the record was gusts of 120KPH in Swift Current. We were gusting around 85 to 90KPH here. It didn’t scare me the way past windstorms have frightened me in the past. It was just more of an annoyance since the evening was a write-off.

And then bedtime came.

The winds were letting up enough that the rig had stopped rocking, but the tarp was flapping badly in the wind. It’s actually very secure and held up beautifully, but there was extra material at the front that kept slapping against the overhang. After two hours of trying to sleep and even going out in my pajamas to add a little more reinforcements, I stalked off to the office with my pillows and duvet. Yay for the second bed! And even more yay that the weight loss means that said bed in the back was actually super comfy!

An RV is not suitable Saskatchewan accommodation… 🙂 I think a project for next summer will be to find someone who can help me really get the RV secure so it doesn’t rock so badly in the wind, whether we put it on blocks, strap it down, whatever.

It should be a pretty quiet Thanksgiving today now that the storm has passed. I want to make some soup that I would have made last night (…). C&C invited me out to Fife Lake for a steak dinner tonight (grill your own), so that should be fun. I just have to stress that I can’t be back toooo late. What with last night being mostly a write-off, I can’t afford for tonight to be, too.

The countdown to departure is really on. After today, I’ll only have one Monday left before I leave. And speaking of Mondays, one week, and 12-some hours left till we know if we have a new government or not…

Parked For a Difficult Winter

Today, I moved to my winter parking spot.

My first choice would have been to have power put in and build a simple greenhouse-type structure around Miranda. Unfortunately, no one local was willing to return my calls and electricians in Moose Jaw were too pricey because of the mileage involved.

Then, I thought of asking the owner of the empty house next door if he could have power turned on for me to park in his yard. He said yes, but when we got to negotiating the deal, I found I didn’t trust him not to kick me out in the dead of winter with 50′ of snow on the ground.

So I ended up taking up Laura on her offer to park in her yard where I’d have access to two circuits, for 30A total. It would have been nice to have a full electrical panel to myself, but 30A will get me far.

I’m parked between two garages, so sheltered from the window on Miranda’s long sides. I will be skirting with styrofoam and eventually snow, as well as running a light bulb under the rig near the holding tanks, with more styrofoam around them to trap the heat. I’ll also have a bulb going in the fresh water tank compartment and be putting plastic on the windows. I may also use thick plastic across the front and the back between the two garages to further block out the wind, if necessary. Since I don’t have cats anymore ( 🙁 ) putting down rugs inside for further insulation will also be possible.

(I forgot to grab a picture of the VIEW outside my office! I’ll have to remember to grab one to share!)

The plan at this point is to see how long I can be comfortable and productive at home. I estimate I will have $150 worth of power, plus propane, which isn’t too bad and makes it worth being home as long as I’m not frozen. But if the costs skyrocket and I’m just not able to stay comfortable, I can take one of Laura’s spare rooms. I’ll watch the weather and gauge week to week what I need to do. This could be a very mild winter, like I had in Lethbridge, or a bad one. Either way, I’ve got options to ride it out comfortably, but it won’t be much fun (except for all the playing in the snow, whee!).

Laura isn’t home during the day, so I have the option of working out of her house, although that will make internet tricky. I have access to laundry and my own bathroom for showers during the day, too. Another perk is the garage as I will be able to stash Moya in it, making it easier to take her out the odd time I want to go to town.

The downside is that Laura and I underestimated how much overhang the garage has. Miranda JUST fits in the space, with my house door only opening partway (enough to be safe in case of a fire!). This is motivation to get the passenger seat out of the cab. Once that’s done, I can enter easily through the cab (that door opens fully), shut the door, and then open the door into the living room, keeping all the cold wind from blowing in.

This morning, I headed over here to test the power outlets to make sure I could plug in. Well, they were getting 120V, but the hot and neutral were reversed! Reversed polarity doesn’t damage electrical components, but can electrifya rig, with deadly consequences when the RV gets wet. Moreover, my new converter would not run in a reverse polarity situation.

Luckily, Laura was home today, so I had her give me access to the breaker box so I could shut power to the circuits and fix the problem. It was simply a matter of switching the location of the black and white wires. The outlets then tested perfectly and my converter is very happy with the setup.

I hadn’t woken up planning to move today, but the cold north wind made me want to get hooked up and running an electric heater! So one would think getting going would have taken ages. Well, it took exactly five minutes to get the inside packed. Outside was a bit more work, but only because I decided to dump and also fill up my fresh water tank before unhooking. I was parked at Laura’s within a half hour.

I thought it would be an easy in, but the alley wasn’t straight and there was a sapling blocking me. I got too close to the overhang and wasn’t straight, so I decided to get Laura to spot me so I could straighten out. Even with her, I managed to catch the overhang and scrape a little, but it was nothing too serious that a little buffing won’t erase. Laura cut the sapling down, which made my job easier. Unfortunately, there were a lot of low-hanging branches, so one of my vent cap pipes got yanked off and will need to be found and replaced.

Thankfully, the spot is perfect level, so that was one less job to do! Once I was parked, I hooked up power and propane, then did a couple of loads with the truck of stuff sitting in my yard to be stored in the garage for the winter. I still have things there to deal with, including my hose. Water will be tricky this winter and I’ll likely just haul what I need to wash dishes.

The overhead branches were scratching the roof, so I went up there with pruners and cut them all back. That done, I had to get my internet set up again and I managed to get a decent signal by installing my antenna to the very top of my ladder. It may end up on the garage roof, but so far so good on the internet front.

It is SO GOOD to be back on shore power. I am sooooo sick of boondocking with solar. It is already getting cold, but I think I have lost my tolerance and will need to build it back up a little. I don’t keep it as warm in here as I’d like, instead adding extra layers, to toughen me up a little. I also have a lot less natural insulation than I have ever had ahead of a brutal winter. What a time to have lost 41lbs! 😀 I suspect that the electric blanket will get a lot of use. It draws so little when I’m on shore power that it is the cheapest way to stay warm while working at the computer or curled up with a book or movie.

It’s going to be an interesting winter, that’s for sure. It really helps to know that I have somewhere else to go if we end up in an ice age. For some reason, this winter is less intimidating than the one I faced in Lethbridge in that I won’t have to drive when the weather is bad and my truck is winter-ready, with good snow tires and a block heater. Also, I have winter gear in the basement, but am fairly certain I’ll need to go buy some boots. I have plenty of heavy corduroy skirts, leggings, and wool blend knee-high socks, fleece tops and a couple of good coats. So the wardrobe situation isn’t dire. I’m just hoping I still have a snowsuit as I know the best way to get through a cold snowy winter is to get outside and play in it!

Of course, having friends who will keep me busy is also going to make a big difference. Laura said something about doing the finishing touch on her basement renovations…

The most important thing is that I’m not angry or upset about being here this winter. Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. Sure, it’d be nice to be warm in Mexico, but I’m in nesting mode right now and quite relieved to know that I am parked till May. I can focus on other things, take on as much work as I can find, and make plans for my next trip. I will be fine and I do promise to check in once in a while to let you know how I’m doing.

I’ll close off with a little southern Saskatchewan travel tip: don’t miss the grill-your-own steaks at the Fife Lake Hotel! We’re going there tomorrow for Caroline’s birthday. Me eating steak? Well, since coming here I’ve learned to love bison and venison! And so, I continue to grow and learn and expand my horizons, even if I’m not on the move right now. I am still very much living my dream life.


My current contract means that I have a ‘normal’ life this month. I have to work a full week, regular office hours, and then I get my weekends off (provided no emergency transcription comes in). I don’t really enjoy days off unless I know for sure that I have income coming in ahead of me. So this weekend is a real treat!

After spending so many hours fighting the Windows computer all week, I just wanted to be outside working with my hands. Thankfully, C&C still need tons of help with the construction of their addition, so I’ll be putting in a full weekend on that.

Today, we began to insulate the subfloor, so there was a lot of walking over the floor joists, sort of like hurdling in slow motion. It was rather tedious and exhausting. We broke for an excellent lunch (Caroline is a stellar cook) in early afternoon and then worked till past 6PM, tarping everything against potential rainfall. We got a lot done despite a rain storm late morning.

After work, we headed south to the tiny community of Fife Lake, between Rockglen and Coronach, known for its ‘grill your own’ steak pit. They were having a fundraiser, so for $15 you could get a steak and a bunch of sides.

Charles had mentioned that he usually has a bison steak when he goes there, so having enjoyed a bison burger recently, I asked if I could have a bison steak tonight instead of a beef steak. Yes, for an extra $3. I had no idea if I could even eat a whole bison steak, but I knew that I’d have plenty of other stuff to eat, so I decided to try it out.

The sides were really good, lots of salads, garlic bread, and baked potatoes. I’d ordered my steak (not words I ever expected to write) well done, but it wasn’t quite thawed when it got on the grill so the middle was very rare and not too appetizing. But the edges were a little charred and well cooked and absolutely delicious. I’d say I ate about 75% of the whole thing and that wasn’t because I was forcing myself. I actually enjoyed it! WOW. I’m eating red meat again! First steak in about 20 years!

Caroline suggested we bring the leftovers home for the dog they take care of and went off to get some tin foil. She came back and wrapped hers and Charles’ leftovers. I quickly said, “I’m not done with mine yet!” Caroline laughed and said she wouldn’t take it away from me. Yes, I really did enjoy most of my steak. 🙂

The bison steak was quite a bit bigger than the beef ones, so I got more meat for my money rather than just paying extra for the different meat. I still can’t believe what a good deal dinner was. The beer ware expensive ($4.50 for a bottle of Budweiser, plus a $1 tip), but that’s expected. I just got spoiled by the $1.50 Lonestars in Texas!

I think Fife Lake is one of those places you just have to know about. The town looks derelict and if I had read about their steaks and shown up there, I would have turned around thinking I’d made a mistake. But the hospitality was warm and the food excellent.

I know I won’t want a meal like that regularly, but I bet the next day I work really hard and am craving protein I’ll be thinking bison, not pork or chicken. As someone who struggles with anemia and has been told over and over again to have some red meat once in a while, discovering I like well cooked bison is really good news.

Well, I’m about to fall into a deep fresh air/exercise/beer/steak coma, probably the best kind!