We ended the summer with the normal rush to complete things started such as the drywall mudding in Deborah and Ernie’s basement, and all the things that need to be checked on the truck and the fifth wheel, before heading south. In amongst this rush we managed to celebrate two birthdays (Deborah - September, Rebekah - October), a baby dedication and go to Edmonton to visit with Rebekah and Nick for Thanksgiving weekend (t'giving is the second Monday in October in Canada).
In the temporary burst of prosperity from the August employment we bought air bags for the truck rear suspension, an anti-shock hitch pin for the trailer and a box that shuts the diesel engine off at the right temperature. All this had to be installed.
Then there were the medical check-ups. Juanita’s snowbird medical insurer gives a better rate if you have a medical. I’m still with the old company since it has lower rates for youngsters J , but we will both use the new company next year. Nevertheless I couldn’t escape having a medical check-up since it was due for the Class 1 driver’s license. The truck passed its medical check-up and all the licenses got renewed, property taxes paid etc.
We left the MeadowLake property on Thursday, October 11th, took the trailer over the scales at the seed cleaning plant and parked in front of Deb & Ernie’s house for the night.
The next morning it was up relatively early, off to breakfast with Ernie (Thanks, Ernie!) and then back to fuss with the air bag and trailer tire pressures before hitting the road to Saskatoon and Weldon and Alice Gray’s driveway for a night.
The air bags seem to have helped the ride. It is hard to say whether the new pin box helped much, with not driving the truck and fifth wheel together for any distance since spring. Overall the ride seems less jerky and less wearing on the driver. The automatic shutdown for the diesel engine is a real boon. Two minutes doesn’t seem long, unless it is spent watching the exhaust temperature gauge so you can shut the diesel off and walk don’t run (running could be hazardous) to the bathroom.
Weldon and Alice cooked a Thanksgiving type meal and then Weldon and I got caught up on a couple of old (new to me) videos.
Saturday at 8AM we wended our way out of Saskatoon on Circle drive and the Yellowhead Highway as far as Langenburg, but were there much too early to just sit in the parking lot next to the train tracks and we didn’t want to leave Saskatchewan until Sunday (to match our insurance dates) so we headed South to Moosimin, Saskatchewan. After parking in a truck parking lot at the Esso station at the edge of town we walked into town and visited the library and did some e-mail and a tad of surfing. Then we did some shopping at a bargain store and found a new pair of duck shoes for when the present pair wears out, before walking back to the rig, stopping for a hamburger on the way “home”.
I liked the town from what we saw of it walking through the business area and a few residential streets, but Juanita thought it was bit far from the grandkids, so don’t expect our mailing address any day soon to be in Moosimin.
Sunday morning we got up early and filled the tank so we’d have a dated receipt from Saskatchewan and then headed east into Manitoba. There is considerably more four-lane, divided highway than shows in our three year old road atlas and signs there will be more yet next year.
Not much to say about traveling in Manitoba except the detour is still in place around the failed bypass bridge at Portage la Prairie. What’s that? Two years? Or does it only seem like it? Fueled up at the Flying J near Winnipeg and shortly after turned south towards the States.
We were asked to pull over and wait for the Ag rep to check us out at the border, but eventually it became obvious it wasn’t going to happen any time soon and somebody came over and told us we might as well leave. I didn’t challenge his authority and nobody ran after us shooting so he must have had it.
We stopped at a Conoco truck stop in Grand Forks, North Dakota and ate dinner and spent the night. The next day, Monday, October 15, we drove as far as the Flying J truck stop in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and stopping relatively early to eat their buffet and sleep in their parking lot. Then it was up hyper early to do the circle check in the dark and rain and drive south through moderate rain. By afternoon things had cleared up a bit and it was sunny and warm when we stopped at an RV park near York, Nebraska at one P.M.
Rain and thunder storms were predicted for the morning and the prediction proved true. We waited for a lull in the deluge and Juanita swept the accumulated leaves and water off the slide tops and we pulled them back in, upped stabilizers and hooked truck back up and headed out in the rain. We mostly timed it to miss the worst of the morning storms and before the afternoon storms, pulling over in a rest area at lunch time because of high winds from a passing thunder storm.
After we read and ate for a while the winds died down and we ventured forth. We hit a bit of heavy rain, but it was not raining when we arrived at the RV park in South Haven, Kansas. Had a few tense moments in the rain and spray on the freeway through Wichita, but it was better than pulling off and getting lost in a suburb trying to avoid paying the toll for the Kansas Turnpike. Even without the getting lost part it was worth the couple of bucks to not be playing chicken with semis on the narrow, two-lane old highway 81 once we had found it last year.
Here’s what I wrote the next day: “After setting up and checking the weather on the camp wireless Internet connection we noted a severe thunderstorm headed our way from the southwest. It was headed over us to meet up with a tornado watch area to the northeast of us. We could see the dark line approaching and dithered about running from it in the truck and had done nothing by the time the rain started. The wind really rocked the trailer and the rain and hail came down in impressive quantities, but it passed fairly quickly. Sunny now and the area in Nebraska where we were yesterday is getting hit pretty hard by storms. That was what was predicted and it drove the timing of the last couple of days travel. Seems to have worked.”
Thursday was a non-travel day. We puttered around the rig and then drove into ArkansasCity to have a bargain priced, obesity promoting lunch at a café recommended by the trailer park owner. Surprised he isn’t fat, which is more than I can claim these days. Then we drove to the Cherokee StripMuseum on the south side of town and viewed fascinating local artifacts and read about the history of the land rush. Then a trip to the Staples in Ponca City, Oklahoma to do all the paper work involved with applying for absentee ballots for voting in the Saskatchewan provincial election and back “home” to Kansas. (Home is where you park it).
Friday, October 19th, we traveled through Oklahoma as far as the Camping World store on the north edge of Dallas, where we stocked up on some supplies and slept in their parking lot. Supposedly early morning Saturday morning traffic is better than rush hour traffic during the week, but Texas is booming and all the road construction and lane diversions related to that boom adds to the confusion and stress and seemed like rush hour to me.
We cut across the northeast edge of the city to a suburban fire station and picked up an Internet satellite dish we bought on Ebay. The turn into the lot was pretty tight and involved running over a curb with the left side tires on the trailer. This may have contributed to what happened later in the day.
After stowing the huge box (everything you need for a complete system including the roof mounting bracket, although all I was wanting was a smaller dish which would be easier to carry than the big dish we need to receive the weak signal in the frozen north, but for $55 who argues) and asking somebody to please move their truck (our rig is 2 inches too tall to go through the bay in the fire hall the fire trucks use) and getting a “y’all don’t sound like you’re from around here” in response we were back on the road again.
Having managed to maneuver ourselves to the east of Dallas – Fort Worth when our destination was west it was only a matter of an hour and a half or so of very heavy freeway traffic to correct the situation and be in moderately heavy freeway traffic on the interstate toward Austin. When stopped at a rest stop I did the usual walk around and noticed a left side tire starting to develop a bulge in the sidewall. The rest area had a pretty good slant to it so we drove about twenty minutes more and found a Braum’s where we could pull into the level parking lot in back to change the tire for the spare. The entrance wasn’t quite so level, and fixing the ding on the back of the truck bed and buffing out the red paint from the underside of the fifth wheel overhang are projects for another day, but I digress. After adding air to the spare and installing and mounting bulgy on the spare rack we broke for a lunch of a bargain Braum’s burger and one of their glorious ice cream creations, each.
On the road again and then stopped at a Camping World. Their computer said they had one tire of the correct size, but it was only virtually there, so we carried on to San Antonio and more freeways under construction keeping a nervous eye on the tires and finally got to Mathis, Texas just before dark where we stayed at our usual park and ate at the usual under priced Mexican restaurant across the street. I think the waitresses must eat there, too.
We arrived in Harlingen at Way of the CrossTrainingCenter in the afternoon on Sunday, October 21. From an e-mail that day: “Ben Butler, the director, wasn't here when we arrived, but he showed up in about half an hour and after he cut a tree in half and moved a few things we got our rig in place and set-up. There was a bit of wind so we didn't drive too fast, but even so it was only a three and a half hour drive. Better than yesterday's 12- 1/2 hour drive from north of Dallas. A few things to tell about that one, but we need to get to town and buy some groceries for supper, now that we have a fridge again.”
In checking for trip pictures to post I realized that between Meadow Lake and Harlingen we had taken precisely one picture - a praying Mantis when we stopped for gas between San Antonio and Mathis, TX. One picture is worth ... ?
Monday was a time of rig and truck washing and by Wednesday we had started work on the benches in the cross walk area.
There are about 45 concrete and wooden benches in an area in the shape of a cross with three crosses set up at one end. People from the groups that come here to do various out reach activities use the cross area to sit and have their devotions and quiet time. There is a large group coming in December, but the area is also scheduled to be used for a wedding and also for a Quincinera (birthday party for fifteen year old girls) in November. Some of the wood pieces have rotted and the paint has peeled on others. Our job for the next few weeks will be to replace the rotted boards, paint all the wood parts and repaint the individual letters on those boards which have scripture verses carved on them.