A Clear Evening

Ugh, the afternoon wasn’t pretty. Very dark and damp and overcast with a spitting sky. My productive mood went right out the door since I got so little sleep last night and I wound up rewatching The Long, Long Trailer. That movie should be mandatory viewing for all new RVers!

It’s cleared right up and now I’m enjoying watching the clouds. I hope that I’ll have a semblance of a prairie view from my property, but being boxed in the way I am, I doubt it.

I did some more research about my municipality, Willow Bunch, and the largest town near my property, Assiniboia, and I am starting to feel like I won’t be nearly as isolated as I thought I would be. Assiniboia has a lot more services than I realised and I’ve come to the conclusion that I really won’t need to schedule monthly stock up trips to a Walmart (four hours round trip). If I don’t have easy access to water from my property, which is my determination for doing laundry by hand or not, there is a laundromat in Assiniboia.

Both Willow Bunch and Assiniboia have community campgrounds, so I will check them out and see if one of them would serve as a viable place to go dump and take on water every few weeks. Propane isn’t a concern as I don’t mind hauling my 30 pound tank. I will land with a full on board tank and see how long it lasts me.

I had hoped that one of the communities would have an indoor rec complex with fitness facilities and a pool, but nope. There are exterior swimming pools, but that’s it. Since there is nothing to walk to around my property, I am concerned about getting exercise, so I will have to investigate nearby hiking trails and the like.

I really do want to land with the attitude of putting down a semblance of community ties by getting to know the neighbours, attending town meetings, shopping locally etc. so that people will get to know me and I won’t be seen as this interloper coming in once a year. I really do want this land to be more than just an investment for me and for me to be able to use it if I want.

Landing day is Saturday and I’ll have about a month before I head to Donna and Ken’s. That should be long enough for me to know if the property will work well as an RV base and how much I want to invest in improvements.

Tomorrow’s the final long stretch. I thought of leaving today and getting as far as the Walmart in Jamestown, then decided that one more night on FHU would do me better than two short driving days. From Minot, I’ll have about two hours (plus the border crossing) to Estevan on Friday, then about three and a half hours to my property on Saturday.

I am looking forward to landing for a bit, but I’ll have to be back on the road before I know it. For a nomad, the journey is never truly over.

Not In the Mood to Drive

I just renewed for a third night here at Dakota Magic. If I really just wasn’t in the mood to drive, I would have gone anyway because I know that that’s just an excuse for not wanting to face the border crossing.

But I’m being really productive and making good use of my FHU, so I can justify another night. This morning, I defrosted the freezer and washed it and the fridge, then made an inventory of the food on board. I found bacon! It will be demolished shortly when I go make lunch. 🙂

It looks like it might rain, but if it doesn’t, the next project is the cab.

Besides that, I need to put away yesterday’s laundry (almost dry, YAY), wash out Neelix’s litter box, and then I’ll be good to go. There’s really nothing to do now to prepare for the border besides making sure I don’t have any illegal food on board, have a full alcohol inventory (one Texas beer that I am saving for the first crazy hot summer day), and that I know how much I need to declare.

I hope internet in Saskatchewan will be decent (although I will settle for existent). I get a very low signal in North Dakota, so I keep getting disconnected. I might not have found the connection in San Antonio to be so bad had I remembered my online experience in North Dakota last spring.

Dining Out

One of the biggest challenges this winter was consistently finding good coffee to make at home. In Canada, my compromise for taste and price is Nabob Full City Metropolis. My coffee choices have been hit or miss all winter, and my latest purchase has been thoroughly a miss. L spoiled me rotten in Wichita, having a fresh pot of really good stuff available to me every morning. My morning coffee has been disappointing since Kansas.

I remembered from last year that the Dakota Magic restaurant has really good coffee. So I planned on having a lunch here, for both the coffee and to use up the rest of my U.S. cash.

I ordered a full pot of coffee (did not get through it) and a club sandwich, which came to $10. I brought half of the meal home for dinner. I’m going to miss this price/portion ratio when I get to Canada.

The coffee was sooooooooooo good. Since I only ate half my meal, I asked for a slice of pie to go with my final sips.

When I came into the restaurant, the server didn’t see me be seated and I was apparently invisible because it took AGES for her to see me. I was actually about to walk out, figuring they were too busy to take on any new customers, when she came to take my order. So when I asked for pie, she pointed to the buffet ($13 for lunch, OUCH), and told me to help myself to whatever looked good, plus ice cream if I wanted it, and that she wouldn’t charge me. That doubled her tip! I enjoyed their pecan pie with just a dollop of chocolate ice cream.

When you live alone in a small space, dining out is practically a survival mechanism. It’s an excuse to get out and do a little socialising. For me, food is food when it comes to my budget. Said budget goes further in the U.S. than in Canada and allows for more meals out, but regardless, so much per month goes to food and I eat very simply at home to cut costs (I so rarely buy desserts and junk food, for example, that saying that I never buy them is barely an exaggeration). Dining out is not a place where my budget needs to be trimmed, contrary to what some readers may think.

I’m off to do more laundry. I did three loads this morning and now I have the heavy denim stuff to do, which will take FOREVER to dry since it’s almost impossible to wring out by hand.

What a Sunny Morning!

There is just something about a sunny morning that is absolutely invigorating. It can be super hot or super cold out, doesn’t matter. I makes me bounce out of bed energized by the possibilities of the day.

Since this is my last chance to be on FHU for a bit, I have a long enough to-do list that I may end up staying a third night. The number one priority for today is laundry, and then getting the black tank emptied and rinsed. Tomorrow could then be a rest day since it’s another really full day to Minot.

My border and arrival plan keeps changing, but I think I finally have it down. The big thing is Canadian internet. I thought I was going to have to go to Medicine Hat to buy the only internet device with a decent bandwidth package, but… things keep improving.

Bell now has several devices with that ginormously generous, won’t hear me bitch about it, bandwidth package, at least one of which, a stick, doesn’t need 120V power the way the Turbo Hub does. Moreover, it’s ZERO down for a 2-year commitment AND I could buy it at a number of points along the Canadian route to my property, including in Estevan, Weyburn, and Assiniboia!

That changes everything as far as my reentry plans. Now that I don’t have to drop the RV and go to Alberta, I’m in no rush to land. So if I pulled out of Hankinson Thursday (three nights here total), I would get to Minot Thursday night and then Friday it would be about an hour and a half to the border at Portal and another 45 minutes or so to the Walmart in Estevan where is a The Source store within walking distance at which I could buy my internet device.

In Estevan, I could make sure both my computers can get online and also stock up on supplies (fresh goods that wouldn’t make it across the border; I’m also getting supplies in Minot). And then Saturday, I would have a leisurely three hourish drive to my property.

When I bought the property last year, there was cell coverage in Assiniboia but not my village. Coverage maps now show full coverage in southern Saskatchewan. So I am hopeful I will have internet at ‘home’ with a device bought in SK.

This route does mean that I will likely have to purchase fuel in Canada for the final leg of the trip. But I did more research on the Scobey/Coronach crossing and really don’t think it’s a good idea to cross there. For one thing, they close early, so I’d be racing the clock to arrive from Minot. For another, 22 cars a day in the height of summer is a big rush for them. So I’m worried that I would be providing them with a bit of ‘entertainment’ if you catch my drift. And I would be automatically suspicious for crossing there with my Alberta-plated vehicles as it is a crossing used mostly by locals. I’ll feel more comfortable using that crossing when I am plated in SK and can declare the village to be my home base.

There is a Saskatchewan snow melt map making the rounds of the internet and it is really impressive. Looks like there is almost no more snow in that province! AND the risk of flooding is just about gone! Woohoo! These warm temps should give my property just enough time to dry out enough to not be a festering marsh by the time I arrive.

Next thing to figure out: how I am going to deal with grass. Hopefully it will be a local teenager (I don’t mind mowing, but I’d rather not have to buy and maintain a mower). And I hope no one gives me flack for not taking care of the lawn last year. Ah, all shall be revealed in just a few days…

Finally, a bit of a semantics lesson. I’m having a hard time coming up with the right word to describe ‘my property.’ It is not and will likely never be ‘home.’ Home is MIRANDA. Full-timers get that, but most other folks don’t. Home is also wherever Miranda is parked. Ergo, while Miranda is parked on my property, my property will be ‘home.’ But I can’t say it enough, I am not ‘going home’ this week.

I have a name chosen for my property, but I won’t reveal it until I land and get a feel for the neighbours. Needless to say, it’s another Firefly reference. 🙂

Columbus NE to Hankinson ND

I woke up around 7:00 this morning. It was cold and foggy, so I put the furnace on then went back to bed for an hour, delaying departure from 9ish to 10ish.

By the time I got up, I could tell that this morning fog was not the beachy kind that cloys for days but rather the prairie kind that promises a beautiful hot day. By the time I had the truck hooked up, the sun was already coming out and I shed my fleece hoodie.

The first half of the day was along US-81, a good highway with high speeds except through a small handful of towns. It was steady going. At noon, I hit not only the South Dakota welcome centre, but also summer temps that made me shed even more layers. I was hungry but decided to delay lunch, silly person that I am.

I was about a half hour out from taking I-29 that I had to take a 10KM detour because there was a barn on two trucks blocking the highway. I’m glad my GPS behaved because the police officers directing traffic were absolutely no help, telling me to just follow the 18 wheelers. Judging by the number of them who missed the turns and had to back up, I’d say even the truckers were a little discombobulated by the detour. Anyway, it was on nice roads and didn’t really add that much more to my day.

By the time I reached I-29, I only had a quarter tank of gas left, so I stopped to fuel up and decided that there really wasn’t any good place to park, so I delayed lunch again. What is wrong with me?

It was 3:00 p.m. by the time I got to a rest area and was finally able to have lunch! It was dang time for it, I was getting a little shaky. I had a good break and then set off, with just over 300KM still left to go.

It was to that point a really good driving day; just enough cloud cover not to blind me and, best of all, almost no wind!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And, of course, I was heading into those prairie landscapes I love so much. I had really earned an easy day, especially since I was covering so much ground.

And then, an hour and a half out, BOOM.

I glanced in my mirrors and saw no evidence of the blowout. I wasn’t even sure I’d had a blowout, but the noise and rig shaking spoke to the contrary. I happened to pass a ‘rest area 2 miles’ sign, so I slowed down, put on the four-way flashers, and headed there to check out the damage rather than pull over onto the shoulder. There was a slightly smaller BOOM as I rolled in.

A walk around the rig puzzled me. Everything looked copacetic. All 10 tires were good, there was no scorched scent. I went in the house and, again, everything looked and smelled good. But I obviously couldn’t go anywhere until I knew what had happened. That noise had been LOUD and really shook the rig.

I did an interior walk through. Soon as I got into the cat area I knew what had happened and I had to burst out laughing even as I scolded myself for being such an idiot.

Here’s an RV travel tip for you fine folks: don’t forget to put your stove top cover back on the stove, especially if it is a large heavy wooden one. If you do forget, it is very likely that it will slide off the counter, bounce off the cat box and gain enough velocity to hit the ground on its edge sufficiently hard to sound like the coming of the apocalypse and then fall flat with a noise that portents that the end of the world has indeed arrived.

My nerves were shot after this. Thank goodness it happened at the end of the day! 🙂

It was really strange to see snow in the shadows along the interstate as I approached the North Dakota border. The forecasts ahead are definitely of the snow melting variety, but I think I need to give it a few days. I paid for two nights at the casino, but will likely stay a third.

I was really excited when I saw the Dakota Magic ball on a post about a mile out as I was really tired. I had no trouble getting settled into the RV park even though it is much more full than the last time I was here. I went to the hotel to check in and got the same unwelcoming clerk as I did last year. You’re in the wrong business, dear.

It’s a beautiful evening here in Hankinson. I have the front door open for the first time since Wichita!

Off to make dinner before I pass out. It’s been one of those grumbly tummy days. 🙂