Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spring is Here

According to the calendar, spring is here.  That means winter is officially over so maybe it's time to start heading home.  Having said that, that is exactly what we did.

We had just spent a very enjoyable week at Pahrump - even if it involved some work.  Everything is nice and clean so we even took a drive out into Death Valley in search of wild flowers.  It had been fairly cold throughout the winter so I think that maybe we were a bit on the early side.  We did see some Yucca plants flowering - it is truly amazing how a plant that looks like it is on the verge of drying up can produce such large, showy flowers.   While Death Valley is home to a real variety of landscapes and terrain, we did see a large dust devil go across some flats - much larger than we usually see at home. 
It was time to head out to spend a couple of days at a favourite spot - Virgin River Canyon campground.  This campground is about halfway between St. George, UT and Mesquite, NV and is incredibly beautiful.  It also gave us a chance to go into St. George to visit some friends which included a wonderful supper - thanks Rick and Sandi.

As we watch the weather reports, we have to decide when is the best day to hit the road.  We really like about three days of good weather but there didn't seem to be any of those in the near future.  Off we go, hoping to get ahead of the first wave of storms but that wasn't about to happen.  About an hour after we hit the road, we hit the storm.  Throughout most of Utah we had rain, snow, or a combination of both.  Fortunately, the temperatures were warm enough that it wasn't freezing on the road, but there were places where the slush was starting to build.  Once we got through Utah, it was smooth sailing.  Even with that, day one was 530 miles, and day two was 670 miles.  That brought us to within a 150 miles from home - a walk in the park.


The weather at home was great - +15C and no snow so unpacking was a real breeze.  In fact, we are still wondering what we forgot as the unpacking process was so quick and easy.

That ends our winter trip which was fun and busy and a whole lot of miles (besides a trip to Hawaii).  We saw a lot, did a lot, and look forward to more adventures.

While this concludes my weekly blog, there may be sporadic ones throughout the summer, depending on whether or not we decide to deviate from the ordinary day-to-day activities.  I do have some ideas on blogs throughout the summer where I can recap many more photos of our winter travels, but that remains to be seen whether or not it really happens.

Thanks for following along with our winter travels.  We hope we were able to pass along some of our enjoyment as we shared our adventures.  Have a great summer and hope you will be back next fall.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Back on Track

Well, I'm back on track with my regular Saturday night weekly run-down.  And another interesting week!

Driving into Lake Havasu
Last week as we were heading into Lake Havasu we were having some trouble with heating.  This week, as we left Lake Havasu, after a radiator cleaning at the car wash, our heating trouble seemed to be over.  Except, it seemed that the engine was too cool and it wouldn't stay warm (or as I understand it).  As a result Gerry decided that the thermostat was stuck open - apparently quite a problem in the cold weather as we would not have any heat as we head home.

Since we were on our way to Pahrump (an hour out of Las Vegas) we continued on.  A google search showed that there was a firm in Pahrump so after a quick phone call, we were booked in.

Since Pahrump is not a very big centre, the parts were not available locally but we could get them in Las Vegas.  Off we went on a road trip.  By the time we got back, it was too late to have the work done so we spent the night in the compound (we are getting good at that).  I must say that the staff were very friendly and offered us electricity and water but we really needed neither as we are totally self-sufficient.



The display beneath the bunk
The repair depot was incredibly interesting.  It was also a trucking firm and they had 24-hour security.  The owner, and several of the staff are from Quebec and some spoke very little English.  Gerry learned how to make aluminum wheels shine as he watched, and got advice from a couple of gals that were doing exactly that.  The owner had a semi that had been dressed up, and I mean, dressed up.  Beneath the bunk in the sleeper, there was a western display of miniature characters.  I tried to take several photos of the truck itself but it was too much like taking a snapshot in a mirror.

They were ready to work on our motorhome by 7:30 the next morning and we were on the road by 10.  And the original diagnosis was correct so we should be back in business.

The rest of the week was rather busy.  Gerry waxed the beast and I shampooed the carpets.  The temps have been hot so thank goodness for air conditioning.  Now hopefully we can spend a couple of days relaxing and enjoying the sun.

I hope you have a good week!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Time Just Slips Away

I must apologize as my commitment to write a post each Saturday has slipped by - here it is already Tuesday.  For some reason time really did just slip away the past ten days.

Another Desert Sunset
We spent most of the week out in the quiet of the desert near Quartzsite.  We did go into town a couple of days but the vendors have all pretty well pulled up stakes and carried on to somewhere else.  With that, there were not a lot people around.  Nothing can beat waking up at night to absolute quiet - with the odd exception of a coyote way off in the distance.

We were thrilled to have a visit with some old friends (not necessarily as in age) who now live in Oregon.  While the visit was short, it was a great time to catch up and remember.  Ken and Joanne - until next year!!

The temperature has been heating up into the 90's which make for a pretty warm day but they do cool off nicely at night. 
 

The week was over and it was time to head to Lake Havasu for a few days.  It was a mighty warm day and we had some trouble with heating.  We know that the radiator needed cleaning so we pull into Lake Havasu to see if someone could have a look at it and give it a cleaning - no luck until Monday so across the street is a great carwash.  While it washed out a lot of dirt and grime, it will still need to be done once we get home.  But in the meantime, it certainly made a huge difference.
Lake Havasu Aloha

Our stay in Lake Havasu was made up of terrific days and not so terrific nights.  On our way in we had wanted to stop at a place called the steps but oops, we missed it.  That was okay because we will just go on to the next one.  After coming back from the car wash, we stopped too soon but decided that this was good enough and also close to town so we would stay.  Bad decision as the nights became party nights.  We were certainly glad to see Sunday night as that is not a party night.
Topock Gorge


We got to visit and have supper with Wayne and Diane - folks from home that we have known for many, many years - another great visit.  Then on Sunday, Joe and Kathy have a pontoon boat and so kindly took us up the river to the Topock gorge.  With the temps in the 90's and very little wind, there is no better way to spend a Sunday than a ride on the water with friends followed by a nice meal. 

The weekend is over and it is time to move on.  I will save that for next week - sometimes between Saturday and Wednesday it would seem.  Have a great week.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

An Interesting Week

We arrived back from Hawaii and thought we would spend a bit of time at the Fountain of Youth (one can never get too much of that youth stuff).  However, when we got the motorhome out of storage, there was a rattle that didn't belong.  With it being the weekend we decided that we would wait until Monday morning to deal with this problem.  First thing we decided that it probably shouldn't be driven so we called out roadside assistance (thank
A sad sight
 goodness for that).  They arranged for a tow truck and made arrangements to have it looked at that afternoon.  So, in the pouring rain, the poor young fellow who was the tow truck driver had the job of hooking us up - poor guy was covered in wet muck and gravel.  Off he took our home 60 miles away to have us fixed.


We were very fortunate in that we were towed to Dion Trucks in El Centro.  The service manager was happy(as were we) to help us.  For those of you who are not familiar with diesel pusher motorhomes, the access to the motor is through a fairly small opening in the floor in the bedroom - ours is between the bed and the closet.  They had to replace the bearings on the motor fan - done by Jose as he hung upside down the entire time.  We were very fortunate as the job was done quickly and it didn't break the bank - we were out the next afternoon.

We decided that we would do some visiting so we went into Indio to stay at the Fantasy Springs Casino.  Gerry's cousin was there so we had a great visit with them.  And Myrna and I toured most of the thrift shops in the Palm Springs area.  It was a fun day - although I didn't find a whole lot of bargains.  The next day we had a terrific lunch with Robbie and Louise - I went to high school with both of them - we had some great times.  It was so nice to be able to catch up with them again.  To finish off the weekend we attended a free concert at Spotlight 29 Casino - Tribute to Creedence Clearwater Revival.  It was a great show - so enjoyable. Yes, we really are the last of the big spenders!!
Our campsite

We finished the week off by going to Quartzsite - it is time for some quiet desert time.  We look forward to hear the coyotes at night instead of traffic.  As you can see, it's been of week of highs and lows, but it was an interesting and eventually fun week.  I hope everyone has a great week.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Hawaii - Week 3 (in Oahu)

These guys liked to try to sneak in
This week has been spent checking out the fun and sights of Oahu.  We are all staying (all ten of us) in a lovely house on the north shore - surfing capital of the world.   The place was large and had a backyard pool which was a favourite with the kids.  There are many shops that offer stand-up paddle boarding and surfing lessons but the favourite seemed to be Tsue's farm - strange name for ocean sports. 

Tsue's farm not only offers the various water sports, they are also a farm with ducks, chickens, turtles and a fair number of mango trees which seemed to be very productive.  This week the kids all took surf lessons (notice - only kids) with the exception of the six year old - she had to stay back and keep an eye out on us.  While the dryland training was short and sweet, it was very effective as everyone was able to stand up and ride a wave - even the seven year old.  I would say that was pretty darn good.

The Kualoa ranch is a working ranch which offers a variety of activities.  We took the jungle tour which took us up a mountain through rain forest and streams to overlook the ocean and the valley.  We also saw a couple of movie sites such as the building from Jurassic world and the downed helicopter from an upcoming movie - Kong.
Painted eucalyptus - natural
Very near to us was the Dole plantation which is amazing.  The gardens are lush and a great variety of plants and trees and shrubs.  Although the pineapple at that spot had been harvested, there were a number of fields with pineapple of various stages which we were able to see on our train ride.  We also went through the largest maze in the world and everyone had the delicious dole whip.

One day was set aside to hike - some of us did more than others.  Kyla and her family got up very early to hike Diamond Head to see the sunrise.  Sadly, it was very overcast, they were joined on the trail with three busloads of tourists and others.  This meant the trail was very busy, and you couldn't see the sunrise.  Besides hiking another trail we all joined together to go up the Makapu'u trail which is two miles long and goes up past the lighthouse which was built in 1909.  From one of the lookouts, some of us saw humpback whales playing out in the waves.  Not only was it windy, a quick rain shower came over so you know want happened.  As with most of the rain we received, it came quick, dumped, and then was over as quickly as it came. 



The week was coming to a close so we decided that we should experience some fine dining.  For this event we went to The Pearl at Leeward College, University of Hawaii.  Here we had a delicious meal which was prepared by second year culinary students.  Unfortunately, I didn't take a photo of the menu as it had a number of items that I could neither pronounce, or remember, or knew what they were.  While unique, the food was terrific.

And no visit is complete without a visit to Pearl Harbor which commemorates the attack on Hawaii and the United States and to remember the fallen.  You can still see the holes in the glass in one of the display buildings that fateful day.  We visited the Missouri - a battleship, the Bowfin - a submarine, and the aviation museum.  As one sees the conflict in the world today, we must remember the tragedy of past conflicts and the destruction and suffering that results.  It certainly is a stark reminder of what can and does happen in a world without peace.

This means out family Hawaiian get-together is over and we must return to our busy lives (well, some of us anyway).  It's been a great trip with many memories.  We are now back on the desert at the Fountain of Youth with one last attempt at returned youth.

I hope you everyone has a great week!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Hawaii - Week 2

A couple of old goats?
volcano crater
Here it is Sunday evening and I am finally sitting down to write about our weekly activities.  This past week has been one full of new adventures.

Our week started in Maui as we finished our little stay on that particular island.  We started off by visiting Haleakawa National Park which is actually a dormant volcano.  The peak is 10,023 feet and we drove to the top.  While the road is paved, it is rather narrow and very twisted and it winds it way to the top. The view is incredible and the temps are cold, especially with the wind.

Our next stop was to travel the Road to Hana which is a great drive through a beautiful part of Maui.  This road is a curvy coastal road with views of cliffs, beaches, waterfalls and miles
 
of rain forest.  While the entire road is 64 miles long which takes all day to do the round trip.  That is, however, with a stop at Aunty Sandy's Banana Bread.   Her banana bread is very popular, and freshly baked as it is still warm when you get it.  We were able to get the last loaf and it was before lunch.

Whale watching was the plan.  The wind was blowing the their were significant swells on the ocean but off we went.  Since I can be prone to sea sickness I purchases a pressure band and I think it worked wonders.  The humpback whales were fairly active as we saw a fair number of them.  You could often see their backs, occasionally you could see their tail above the water but there were a couple of times we saw them come right out of the water - almost as they do in the sea world shows.



Well, our time in Maui has come to an end so off we go to Oahu.  It is here that Kyla and her family meet up with us.  We have decided to stay on the North Shore which noted as the surfing  capital of the world.  Just to get to know the area a little better we decided to scout out the area to see what is around.  The nearby town of Haleiwa is a quaint little town full of shops and galleries and places to eat.

Nearby is Waimea Bay and Waimea Falls.  The falls are a one mile hike through botanical gardens on a paved path.  At the end of the path are the falls with a swimming hole - a very beautiful spot.  As some of the kids went swimming in the pond and played in the falls, they said they were never going to wash their hair again because they were in the falls.  At the  
 
 
end of the hike was a wonderful farmers market with many of the local fresh fruit - even ice cream bananas - who knew?

climbing a coconut tree
Now it is off to the Polynesian Cultural Centre.  What an experience!!  The centre is made up of six villages - Fiji, New Zealand, Samoa, Hawaii, Tonga, and Tahiti.  Each of these countries have a little village with a display of song and dance and customs unique to their particular locale.  They also have wonderful interactive displays where the attendants can take part in activities that are specifically unique to each of these countries.  The costumes were colourful, the entertainment terrific, and it was a marvellous experience.  Later in the day we attended a Luau followed by a spectacular show.  What a day - so much to see and so much to do!
paddle boarding lessons

Off to see the sands of Waikiki - we had to go visit Waikiki.  Yes the beaches were nice and people watching was at an all time high.  To sum it up it would be as Maddie (7 year old grand daughter) said "Mom, I think that lady has her bathing suit on backwards" (to describe 
someone wearing a thong).   But coming home we decided to take a scenic route and that it definitely was.  We drove along the coastline, and then travelled inland across the mountain region - what a view.

And that brings that week to an end.  And that is my excuse for being late this week - it's been tough to break away from that excitement.  Thanks for joining and I will try to be a little more prompt next week.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Hawaii

Oops - I thought I had posted this but I  hadn't - my apologies!

We started the week by catching a plane to Hawaii.  We left from San Diego on Hawaiian Airlines.  This airlines still serves complimentary meals plus a complimentary wine for all adults which was very much appreciated.  In return, if you want to watch a movie during the long six and one-half hour flight, it will cost $7.99.  We  had to change planes in Honolulu but due to some bad weather on Maui, we were delayed almost an hour.  But finally we made it but when we stepped out of the airport, we walked into one heck of a rainstorm.  Fortunately, it subsided rather quickly and we were off. 

We arrived at our condo in Kihei  and were definitely ready for a good nights sleep.

We spent a couple of days walking the beach and getting to know the area.  We came across a number of areas of a combinations of little shops and restaurants.  Here we found a rooster wandering around - he best be careful or he could become supper.  Then one of our daughters, Taryn and family, arrived so time to do some more exploring.  The kids had a great time playing in the sand, and riding the waves.

We went to Lahaina to take a trip in a glass-bottomed boat - a great alternative to snorkelling.  So we could spend some time exploring the town, we went early and visited several of the little shops.  Here there is an banyan tree planted in 1873 and is the largest in the United States covering 1.94 acres.  Then it was time for our little excursion so off we go to check in but the darn wind came up and the trip was cancelled - Boo Hoo!.  On the way home we stopped at the Maui Ocean Center and thoroughly enjoyed their wonderful displays.

Well, the end of the week is here. The sky is overcast and the wind is really strong so it's a great day to visit a nature preserve along the beach.  Later in the day we had quite a bit of rain.  And when it rains, it RAINS.  The good thing is that the downpours are relatively short-lived.  On our way home we stopped at a farmer's Market to pick up some fresh vegetables.  We definitely enjoyed this produce. It was a tad pricey but that is the name of the game here.

The trees and foliage are marvellous - lush and green and varied.  Here is a photo of a Peacock Fan Palm - they are such a lovely tree and only a sample of how beautiful it is here.

The temps seem to remain very warm, regardless of whether it is raining or not, day or night.  I love how the staff at the stores all wear clothing with the Hawaiian print, and many of the ladies wear a flower, or two,  in their hair.

I hope you have a great week.