As this is written (October 6th) we are preparing to head South for the winter.
Plans are to work SOWERS projects for November and December at Way of the Cross then, after helping with the Big Feed, move up the valley to a location where we can walk across each day and receive tutoring in Spanish. In January we hope to do some traveling in Mexico of a tourist nature (more about that later) and Juanita plans to head north in February for the anticipated birth of another grandchild - Nick and Rebekah's first.
Check below for updates on October events and activities.
Shop / Studio
Nick came for a week in September to help, plus we managed to get some work done in October on the shop/studio before heading south.
No shortage of things to do next year, of course.
We Arrive in Texas
Update (December 25):
Well, plans change.
We headed South as planned and made it as far as Laredo, Texas. Here is an account of the trip as e-mailed to our daughters and sisters.:
Up until Laredo we had planned to spend two nights in Zapata, Texas.
Stopped for fuel outside of Laredo.
When we stopped for the light at the end of the freeway the truck wouldn't move.
Long story short : We ended up riding the last two hundred miles being to Harlingen.
We are here safe. PTL.
Mom & Dad / Paul & Juanita
Sorry for the incoherence and thanks for the reply. If this is a repeat - the 'puter crashed while sending the other one but before it put a copy in the sent folder and before it deleted the copy in the "draft" folder.
Last night's message was close to midnight at end of long day. It was as coherent as I was.
We left Meadow Lake Tuesday morning and got to Moosimin (spelling?) a little after five, fueled up, parked in the mud with the semis and had sandwiches in the truck and walked to the DQ for dessert. On the road about eight Wednesday morning. Decided at DQ that we could shave some distance off the route and be across the US border at least eight hours early and not have to make up all the distance we had driven east to go south from Winnipeg. So we turned south at Virden, Manitoba and crossed the border in the middle of nowhere North Dakota and started south on highway 83 which goes from there all the way south through Laredo and to Harlingen. It was a very lonely highway with few other vehicles. Mostly two lane, but the surface was generally good. Lots less stress than playing bumper car with all the semis on the interstate highways. It did have a lot of hills requiring shifting out of overdrive which Mom suggested must be hard on the transmission. I did "not think so."
So Tuesday - stayed overnight in truck stop Moosimin, SK,
Wednesday night,. Pierre, South Dakota, Walmart parking lot
Thursday night, Garden City, Kansas Walmart Parking lot (remind me to tell about getting fuel the next morning)
Friday night, Ballinger, Texas Walmart Parking lot (late in that day was first cell phone coverage we had since crossing border)
Planned Saturday night - Zapata, Texas RV park - yahoo! showers for all! Wet wipes just don't do it especially for hair.
Stopped for fuel and sandwiches about ten miles north of Laredo and got back on the road a little before 2 PM. The fueling line had dump station, but I decided upon consideration that we could do this in a couple of hours in Zapata where we planned to spend the next couple of nights while we checked out possible sites to live in January and February.
Our transmission died at end of freeway in middle of Laredo. Managed to limp about six or seven blocks with a light at each intersection most of which turned red before we got to them. Limping meant very high revs. As we pulled into an empty strip mall parking lot transmission alarms started going off. Phoned Good Sam roadside assistance. They found a shop that could deal with it and were waiting for us. They arranged a tow truck to pick us (including truck and rig) up and tow us to the shop. Shop was really closed for Saturday, but owner met us there and said they were not equipped to deal with transmission. He phoned around and found no other shops that were open, but gave us the name of one who could deal with transmission. Not sure anybody would be there or if we could park truck and rig there, etc. Got quote from tow truck company about being towed to Harlingen. $875. Called WOTC said we were in Laredo with no transmission and thinking about being towed to Harlingen. Brother Ben said we would be welcome to come there and could use the hoist if I wanted to do the work myself (with Matt's help) and he would loan us a van to get around in while truck was being fixed. Also said he could suggest some shops.
Decided to come to Harlingen. First truck took us about twenty blocks back past the strip mall and a couple more blocks to the towing company lot and unhooked. No towing charge so far. New tow truck driver showed up and got his truck ready and hooked us up and disconnected drive shaft. This took over an hour. Then we left with Mom and me riding in the tow truck with the driver. The truck really struggled to get up to speed with load it was pulling. A few miles out of Laredo temperature gauge was reading 220 degrees F. (boiling point is 212) and we pulled into a gas station. The second tow truck disconnected from our truck and trailer and we all waited for bigger truck (third truck) to come out and get us. Eventually it showed up and hooked us up using blocks of wood to sit the front wheels on to get clearance for fingers that cradled the front axle. Eventually - driver moved ahead to pumps to add fuel and oil and added oil and got ready to go and driver who brought out the bigger tow truck asked him if he had fueled up. "Oh yeah, I forgot." So then we tried to get slave pump to work and eventually backed the whole assembly up to swing into a master pump (diesel truck fueling lanes usually have two nozzles to service the fuel tanks on either side of the tractor. Both ring up on the same meter which is on the master side, but the slave nozzle only starts if the master nozzle has been activated and is pumping. Learned that lesson the hard way in South Dakota a few days ago.) then back up everything so the whole tow truck, truck, trailer train can go forward through the original pump lane without hitting anything. On the road to Harlingen about 7 PM. Only two seats in tow truck. Mom elects to ride in pickup truck rather than on my lap for more than three hours. She had one of our walkie-talkies and I had the other.
Driver has lots of truck driving experience. Born in Houston, but raised in Mexico and drove truck there all over the country for about twenty two years. Has been driving tow truck with this company for eleven years. Speaks English about as well as I speak Spanish, well maybe better, but not much. We got along okay talking to each other while he wasn't talking on his cell phone both receiving and making calls. He did this while lighting cigarettes and taking the odd drink of bottled water and tailgating and passing other vehicles. He discussed with one of the people he was talking stopping in Roma and something about "paying" there. My Spanish is really rusty and I can catch words, but not often the whole conversation between native speakers. It is also hard to ask for clarification when you are eavesdropping. Mom and I had talked once on the radio and she said things were okay and then the battery on my radio died. When we stopped at a light in one of the towns we waved at each other. She seemed fine. When we pulled over for the driver to clean the windshield in Roma I remembered his mysterious conversation and did not go back to see how Mom was doing. But other than almost being able to see out of the cracked windshield we proceeded uneventfully. I wonder what the conversation was really about. As we got close to Harlingen I called Brother Ben and let him know we were approaching. The driver also got a call from a friend who wanted to know where we were going and the driver handed me the phone. I told him turn north on 77 then east on 508 and north on 507. He said those weren't on his map and I assured him there were on mine and it was just north of the airport. He wanted to talk to the driver again. I handed the phone back. Hopefully they found each other okay later.
We pulled into the driveway at the WOTC training center and parked while we walked around and chose the least muddy spot to leave the rig. The tail end of the hurricane that hit Baja California came through a few days ago and dumped four inches of rain. There was not room to back into a spot, but we pulled along side of the end of one and we dropped the front legs on the fifth wheel and put in the chocks and raised the front of the fifth wheel and the driver backed up a bit while we (Ben and I) unlatched the hitch and then pulled ahead with the truck, reconnected the driveshaft (laying on a half sheet of coroplast I carry). While he did this I leveled the trailer and we hooked up power and water and Ben put down the rear stabilizers and put the spreader type chocks between the trailer wheels. I dug out a card and a Spanish tract and some cash for a tip for the driver and he left. After he left we noticed he had left the truck front end up on some concrete blocks. I guess he was looking forward to seeing his friend.
Ben and Jeannie and Mom and I circled up and Ben prayed for us and they left for bed. We put out the slides ( if you ever want to think you have lots of space spend five days with the slides in and then put them out), started the water heater so Mom could wash her hair and I could have a shower and while it was heating I sent an e-mail to let you know we arrived safely and looked up the price of heavier duty than stock transmissions ($4,165 with $900 core refund when send in old one). We slept. We got up and cleaned a few things and went to church. They've had a hard year, They are hurting. Oscar Brooks is in town. He preached. Typical excellent sermon - insightful and encouraging and challenging.
After church and lunch I checked the clearance and there was lots of room below anything for a cement block. Tried the truck in reverse. Lots of engine noise. No movement. Tried forward. Truck rolled off the blocks. Crunching noise. Not enough room if block tips on end. Dug under the block and wiggled it out from under the running board. Should be able to beat the mud flap back into shape. Running board should be okay. I'll check it when it's on the hoist. There are a couple of extra dash lights lit up. Will have to check wiring of accessories to see if that is a problem and causing other problems.- tomorrow. Also tomorrow will discuss options with Matt and decide on path forward. When we get wheels (probably tomorrow after the staff meeting) we will buy groceries and a few extra lengths of sewer hose to reach the connection. If we don't get wheels, we have a few days groceries and can last forever without a sewer hose as long as I am willing to empty the tank into a five gallon pail and carry it a few feet to the nearest toilet.
Love Mom & Dad
Since then we have changed our plans and will work SOWERS projects at Way of the Cross for November, December, January and February. In between the SOWERS projects we will help out at WOTC especially with the Big Feed in December