After an encounter with a deer, on a darkened highway in the middle of the night, our rig is in the body shop. Because the deer hit us on our left side, insurance seems it 100% NO fault. That's good because the bill is around 7-thousand dollars.

 
 
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There are some things I really thought I would like about RVing. Now that we've put thousands of kilometres on this thing, I will tell you true: the stuff I thought I'd like, I like even more...and I have discovered many things I like that I didn't even know about.

Let's start with bumper repairs.

You see us smiling in the image above? 

When I was pulling away from a show, I caught our bumper on a corrugated steel wall. It did no damage to the wall, but pulled the bumper out at a strange angle. Think of an RV with a cowlick. 

We drove this way for days. 

I had the constant sense that people were pointing and laughing...which may or may not be true. Anyway, we were boondocking along the highway and behind us were steel girders, set in the ground.

We decided to fix it.

We put a towel over the bumper and, with Sheree providing precision directions, I gently backed the RV into the post.

Problem solved.

I love this lifestyle. 

We are not newbies anymore. 

Our once pristine RV shows signs of wear...but that's because we are using it and enjoying it

 
 
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Here we are, almost exactly a year later, back at Country Camping RV in Salmon Arm, BC. We wish it was under better circumstances.

Early this morning, we were boogying down the highway toward Banff, on our way into the BC Okanagan Valley. Suddenly, a bang like a bomb and David struggled to keep the rig on the road.

When we finally pulled over and switched on a flashlight, we were horrified to find major damage to the driver side of our Travelaire. A deer had broadsided us, denting and or ripping our rig's fibreglass shell on the driver's side. Deer hair and bowel contents were embedded into the wall.

David was in shock. Never in all his years of driving has he ever encountered a deer.

We know how blessed we are that David was able to steady the rig, and that the deer did not hit us full on, smashing the windshield or getting tangled in the underbody. We are alive and unharmed. And the rig is driveable.

Had we been able (were it not black as pitch out) we would have searched for the deer. But we had no way to turn around, nor would we have seen it in the dark. We hope it expired quickly.

We are hoping for a miracle cure now in the way if repairs because Travelaire no longer exists.

We will trust our RV dealership.

And hope for the best.

UPDATE: Repairs will be costly. The BC dealership cannot do them till end of Sept, but we cannot be here. So, we will look for a place in Edmonton. In the meantime, we will enjoy the rest of our vacation.

 
 

Lots of options, some cheap, some free.

Huge!!! rest stop on Hwy #1 just over the bridge as you leave Revelstoke. Washrooms included. A McDonald's and A&W are prior to the bridge. No overnight parking in front of these fast food joints though. No matter. Get your food and go over the bridge.

Further on, "Lakeside camping," says a handwritten sign at $15 a night in what looks like a loggers camp just after/before 3 Valley Gap.

About 25 kms west is a very nice big rest stop on the right hand side. Washrooms included. Great mountain stop.

Nearer to Sicamous is a Husky station with tons of parking space.

Take a turn away from Sicamous towards Kelowna. There is a very picturesque large rest stop on the right side, before you reach Mara.

If you are interested in a full hook-up, try Whispering Pines s little farther up the road. $40ish a night will get you a nice shady spot beside a burbling creek. Showers are good, not necessarily hot.

Sani-dump is free for registered campers; $5 for others.

There are a number of smaller, crescent turnouts not suitable for very large rigs, but smaller RVees or cars would fit perfectly. All include mountain views, a lake, or both. FREE.

 
 
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Westbank Walmart, Kelowna BC 2013

Dear Walmart,

You sure are dumb. You let us (and many others) stay (boondock/dry camp) on your parking lot absolutely FREE!

You provide a great view (stay in Kalispell or West Kelowna for gorgeous mountain views, sunsets, and sunrises), washrooms, a complete selection of goods and foods, and even a McDonald's.

And you open at 7 AM.

Are you cuckoo? Don't you realize how much money in rent you could be pulling in? Tsk. Tsk.

When we walk in to ask permission to stay, we are greeted by a happy, smiling manager who says, "Absolutely. No problem." He/she tells us about any bylaws like generator restrictions that might affect us. And ensures we know where to park.

Why just yesterday, the $40 we could have spent sandwiched into an RV campground like big sardine tins, we spent in your store...on a broom with and extendable handle that I needed so badly to give my back a break.

And it was nice to run over this AM and pick up butter and syrup for our breakfast.

Don't you realize that resorts that offer these kind of conveniences and awesome views charge pots of money for the service?

Yep, Walmart, you sure are crazy.

Crazy like a fox. ;)

Thank you for your generous offer to use your parking lot. We are so appreciative.

With great affection,

Sheree & David

The Canadian Gypsy Turtles

 
 

Combine a couple of weeks, three prairie provinces, very summery weather with blue skies, long stretches of highway flanked by a mixture of endless fields, leafy green trees, and watery patches of all shapes and sizes, add a motorhome and you have a formula for a pleasant memorable adventure. But add an air conditioner and you have hit Nirvana. Oh, and a can of bug spray, too.

We left Edmonton, headed south and then east avoiding the floods that hit the Calgary area. Our travels took us across Saskatchewan into small towns like Gull Lake (where David's father was born).

We came through Regina during a Supermoon. We pulled into a deserted campground in Grenfell. Just us and one other rig. We got our first hint as to how annoying the biting bugs would be.

We crossed into Manitoba and decided to drop down to Highway 2 and visit Souris. About this time, I began my capture photographically of vintage buildings and signs like the majestic grain elevators, giant monoliths that dot the prairies alongside the railway tracks, and the chocolate shop sign in Souris.

Made our way past Winnipeg using the Perimeter Highway, and out Hwy 12 to Anola and finally to Beausejour, the town of my youth.

From there we visited Lac du Bonnet for Canada Day fireworks and a very profitable farmers market (my books sold out in only a few hours), Lockport (home of the vintage Skinners restaurant famous for its hotdogs), and Milner Ridge to see pink Ladyslippers.

Homebound, we are on an ambling route from the Polo Park mall in Winnipeg to Oakville (home of a massive elevator), Gladstone (watch for the Mennonite peoples and their horse and buggy transports), Neepawa with its garden-class Riverside Cemetery, Minnedosa, Birtle, and Foxwarren, all towns dotted charmingly with vintage buildings.

Finally on to Russell and Inglis (you must see the long line of royalty here - huge vintage elevators), and overnight in Aesissippi Park alongside a fast-flowing creek with lots of mosquitoes. A beautiful spot that was hard to leave, but we have commitments at home.

From here, we have a business appointment in Saskatoon. Then through the Battlefieds to Lloydminster, and finally home, embracing the wide blue prairie skies and hot summer sun all the way.

 
 

We attended our first Good Sam Samboree as first timers this weekend. We bypassed the terrible flooding taking place in the Calgary area and made our way to Irvine, just east of Medicine Hat.

The weather was perfect and we were not at all affected by the state of emergency announced in the Hat.

We have been on the road for hours with time off for noodling around small towns like Gull Lake and Chaplin. Lots of bird photo ops, too.

Not sure where we will stop for the night, but we are rested from a late afternoon nap.

Looked out the window and realized that the rig really does resemble a turtle. :)

K

 
 
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You know how sometimes you KNOW you’re making critical decisions  that have to be made…but you ALSO have the sinking sensation you don’t have the  information necessary to make informed decisions?

That’s me and our RV. Thank God (literally) that we wound up with  an RV in near-perfect condition through a dealership that gave great advice and service with integrity.

I knew nothing about solar panels (because we can boondock
anywhere and not need to worry about using up our power) or what an inverter was  (it’s that big rectangular yellow thing allows us to access the power from our  coach batteries)…or why we’d need to sink hundreds of dollars into getting a fan  installed (so you can save power by cooling the unit on hot days and drawing
 humidity out to improve the life of the  RV.)

There were a couple of things that just weren’t right about our
RV. I’m not complaining, mind you. But they are both linked to the Boy I Really  Didn’t Know Anything days. (Which were just a couple of months  ago.)

 Here’s a flashback. It’s our first night in the RV. We’ve pulled
over so Sheree can nap and I can do some work. (Also because we can.) I am listening to tunes on the great sound system we’ve installed while Sheree  snoozes. It’s a grand experience for an audiophile like me and I listened and worked for nearly three hours.

 When Sheree arose, we smiled at each other like people living the dream are supposed to…and I took my place in the captain’s chair, turned the key…and…nada. Just this clicking sound.

Yup. Either I was an idiot...or we bought a lemon. Let me put it this way: we didn't buy a lemon. I murdered our RV on the very first day we had it.

 Sheree recorded the incident elsewhere – but the chassis battery
(the one that starts the engine)  died because I had the  key turned three quarters of the way – and not on Accessory. So we needed  to be rescued on our first night.

Flash forward to the next day. I am having a discussion with the
guys who sold us our RV. We were told that we could boost our chassis battery by using the coach batteries. I am assuming that, not being any kind of a tech  person, I was missing something
obvious.

 Not so. It was explained to me that this wasn’t installed. 
 
Think about it: If Good Sam hadn’t been able to send a tow truck
angel to save us, we would have been in trouble. Surely there was a way to allow the vehicle to access the power in the coach batteries,  right?

 Nope.

 So that was the first thing I raised with the guy at “Redneck RV”
– where we took our unit for a few (hopefully) last renovations.

 “You got two ways to get it done,” Blain – the owner of Redneck
RV explained to me. “You can get a system installed that will allow your chassis battery to charge once the coach batteries are full. We need to install a control panel…do some rewiring.”

The expected bill is in the $1,000 ballpark. I swallow hard and
ask about the other way.

 “We can install a switch. You get into trouble with the chassis
battery, you push a button and the coach batteries can start the engine. Most of the A Class motorhomes have this.”

 Bill on this is around $250.00 – which is what I’d expect to pay
for another tow truck if I pull another bonehead prank like I did on our first night.

 “Functionally the same thing?” I ask. I am thinking about the
$750 difference and am in the familiar position of wondering if I have missed something.

 Blain shrugs. “Yup. Pretty much. It’ll get you back on the
 road.”

 Good enough. I still don't know a LOT about RVs, but I know that being on the road is a good thing. The very notion makes my heart smile. So I decide the button is the perfect solution. Saving seven hundred and fifty bucks doesn't hurt either.

Then there’s that other thing. It seems goofy to me that we can’t
play music through the great sound system in the rig. Why not? Because it draws its power from the chassis battery. While I’m rocking out, there’s a steady drain on the battery we need to get us back on the road when a black bear decides  to come  calling.

 “Can we wire the sound system into the coach batteries?” I
  ask.

 “Yup,” says Blain with a nod. “We do it all the time. Guys wire
the sound system into the chassis batteries because it’s faster, cheaper and easier. But it doesn’t make much sense.”

 I agree and ask The Question: “How much?”

 Blain shrugs. Again. I think that this is an RV guy thing. Before
answering the “how much” question, one is required to shrug. I make a Mental Note.

 “Two fifty to three hundred,” he says.

 I tell him that works for me – and a couple of days later I’m
 driving away with an even more boondock ready unit. I’m thinking we’re ready  for anything. We have solar panels and a built in generator, which can power  our two new batteries in the coach – which, in turn, can start the unit. 
 
And I’m seeing myself under the hot Arizona sun listening to Bing
Crosby singing White Christmas without risking a non-starting RV in the process.  The total bill was just over six hundred. But who’s complaining? Not me.

In a nutshell: Unless you're plugged in to a powered site, your RV is a closed unit. Turn on a light and it causes a drain on your batteries. Listen to music? Same thing. Run the furnace? You get the idea right?

It's okay to use the coach batteries. They'll recharge from the solar panels or the generator...plus you don't need them to get on the road. From this first night --I realize that the chassis batter is critical. I want that puppy to turn over every time.

I SHOULD have asked where the power for the sound system was coming from. I SHOULD have had them show me how the coach batteries would start the engine...because then I would have known it wasn't done.

These are two of the many things I didn’t know before purchasing
the unit.

  Now you know them.

  For free. You’re welcome.

Sheree and I are heading off to our first Sambouree tomorrow. I'm curious to know what we'll find there. And you can bet share it with you.


 
 
PictureZOOZA...is not another word for "wow."
Sheree says...

You climb out of bed, gather up the trash to take to the curb because it is pick-up day, and this sight greets your bleary eyes. Not a good way to start any day.

We usually have our RV tucked neatly up on our driveway where it blocks my car in. So, yesterday, to let me out, David parked the rig on the main street where we have parked it before. With no issue. But not last night.

Someone, with too much time and very little smarts, did drive-by graffiti on our motorhome. David was not impressed when I confirmed that the rig had been vandalized.

ZOOZA! What a stupid thing to write. But the good news is that they did not write worse words, and they wrote on only one part of the rig. Now to clean it off.

First came the Magic Eraser (worked before, might work again). It worked only slightly. Then came the kitchen scrubber. That was working, very slowly, but it was moreso working to make David steaming mad. So, I posted to Facebook. That is when a friend popped up and suggested something else.

PictureDavid with his happy camper face after 45 minutes of WD40 and elbow grease.
He suggested WD40, the lubricant that we are probably all aware of as a great product for getting stuck things unstuck, but it also works for getting spray paint graffiti off any painted surface.

Thanks to our friend, Bud Tymko, for that advice.

Lessons learned:
  1. WD40 is a must-have on your RV supply list
  2. Motorhomes parked on public streets are in danger of abuse and damage. Don't leave an RV on a public street if you can help it
  3. Facebook is full of great friends with great advice
  4. ZOOZA (according to my son and the Urban Dicitionary) means, "An electric coffee grinder used to chop up weed." Sheesh!

 
 
PictureI would like to credit this art that I found floating around on Facebook, but I cannot. It is wonderful whoever did it.





Sheree says....

You would think that after 3 kids and 9 grandkids, that I would be unbelievably smart...all the time. But alas, it is not the case.

We recently bought a very expensive product at the local RV show. We honestly thought it was a must-have after seeing the gunky graveyard of bugs that had accumulated on our cab-over and our motorhome grill. So we forked out nearly $30 for "Slick Auto Shot" bug spray.

The can says, "You will never have to scrub those pesky bugs off your auto again." Sounded like Nirvana to us. So I sprayed it liberally on the grill and all the areas of the rig facing the highway, the areas where the in-transit bugs would splatter.

(Thank God I was not in a position to also spray the cab-over. Sheesh. We would still be scrubbing.)

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Need exercise? Then this is the product for you. If you have the time to scrub, and scrub, and scrub.
What the product's manufacturer does NOT indicate, however, is how much scrubbing you will have to do to get the bug spray off your rig!

See how happy David is? See that mucky mess of grime held fast to the rig by the bug-free spray? A hot, soapy sponge could not budge this stuff. It came off the chrome grill okay, but not off the paint. Grrrr....
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David unhappily scrubbing off bug spray gunk and road grime.
The only advisory that comes with the spray is "Do Not Apply on Windshield." God help you if you get any of this stuff on glass. Be prepared to scrub! And I mean....SCRUB!

But scrub with what? Water will not remove this stuff. So what other cleaner will make this mess go away?

We began to experiment.

First came the Goo Gone and paper towels. This method worked on teeny sections, but there was way too much surface area for this inefficient method.

Next, we tried a kitchen scrubber (sponge on one side, gritty scrubber on the other). This worked somewhat, but we were concerned about what the gritty side was doing to the paint finish, so we dumped that idea. Besides, it was slow and ponderous.

Then I had a flash. What new-fangled product removes waxy, greasy stuff off walls? (My years of experience as a mother and nana were kicking in.)  Of course. That would be Mr. Clean "Magic Erasers." I also had LIFE brand erasers that I buy at Shoppers Drug Mart, so I tried those.
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And the winner is?
We hit pay-dirt. The Magic Erasers worked. Along with much elbow grease, that is.

Hours later, much later, the lesson was learned.

Anti-stick bug spray is meant for GRILLWORK only! It must NOT be sprayed on glass or the motorhome body.

Next time, I will use inexpensive PAM cooking spray on the grill and keep my dollars for more important things like Haagen-Dazs coffee ice cream bars. :)

Next adventure?

Our very first Good Sam Alberta Samboree in Irvine, Alberta, June 19-23, 2013. We are very much looking forward to it. Bugs and all. :)

(Watch for my inspired use of pipe insulation as we continue our Albertan battle against cold night temps.)

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We get beautiful sunrises and sunsets in Alberta.