Sunday, May 26, 2024

Welcome to Canada?!

 International Avenue, Calais, ME/St. Stephen, NB, CA - May 16, 2024


EJ and I had been awaiting this day with excitement and a little trepidation. Crossing the border into another country is always somewhat worrisome. No, no, not the "breaking the law" kind of worrisome, but more like "what if they take our vegetables" kind of worrisome.

Knowing that everything was going to be more expensive in Canada and that we probably wouldn't be able to find our favorite items and brands, we had been stocking up. Crackers, soups, meats, Atkins, breakfast bars, cat food, soda pop and so on. Miss Mosey was busting at the seams we were carrying so much stuff. We had grocery bags full of groceries stuffed everywhere. You would have thought we were heading into the wilderness and had to be self sufficient for the duration.

Reading the CBSA(Canada Border Service Agency) website was not a whole lot of help as it mostly addressed information generically rather than specifically. Was raw meat acceptable or did it have to be cooked or otherwise processed? Were vegetables ok? Did they have to be in their original packaging? Did they have to be cooked? It got quite confusing.

We also travel with some items unacceptable to the Canadian government so they couldn't come with us. Accommodations were procured for the duration of our visit and we'll will pick them up on our way back through the area.



 We think we have everything under control. We have fueled up Miss Mosey and Pearl with cheap (hah!) USA diesel and gas. Propane is topped off. We are carrying extra water, I swear we are going on an African Safari.  Our liquor cabinet and beer storage are next to bare because 1.14 litres of alcohol person, or 24 cans of beer per person are the limits allowed into Canada. I guess they are afraid we are going to bootleg booze into their country.

I look at my last store display of stouts and porters. (I know where I'm stopping when we get back.)


EJ has done a great job of getting us organized to cross the border. Passports, insurance papers, vehicle registration, vaccination records for Gabby, our cat, and put it all in one convenient folder so we don't have to scramble trying to find documents at the last moment.



So we get to the Canadian border and all they want is our license plate number and passports. No drivers license, no registration, nothing. Then they ask a bunch of questions. Are you carrying more than $10,000 Canadian? (No). Are you carrying firearms? (No). How much liquor do you have? (We told them how many beers we had and how many litres of booze we had left.) All the while the agent was very chatty and pleasant. Then he hands us a yellow form, tells us to pull over, and go in the building. No reason. Had we broken some law?

On our way to the building we meet two agents coming out. We give them the yellow form and they explain they are going to search Miss Mosey and Pearl. Were we hiding anything that might injure them as they are searching? Well, we have a cat on board, but we don't think she'll hurt you. They ask us to put out the slides so they can have access to all the drawers and cabinets. In anticipation of a search we had previously unlocked all the compartment doors and Pearl too.

We were not allowed in Miss Mosey while they searched but we were welcome to stand outside in the blazing sun, or we could go in the building where there were hard wooden benches we could sit on. Talk about feeling helpless. Strangers are ransacking our home and there is nothing we could do about it. Wait a minute, we were just kidding. We don't really want to go to Canada. Just let us turn around and we're outta here! But all we could do is wait.

So off we trudged to the "holding room", err, "waiting room". We had a clear view of Miss Mosey. We couldn't see inside, but we could see the driver's side and Pearl. During our detention we could see that they searched Pearl, but none of Miss Mosey's compartments. That was weird! We know we were on cameras while in the building. Did you ever realize how hard it is to not act guilty even if your not guilty? 

Somehow the agents snuck back in and called our name. We went to the desk to find out what our crimes were. Instead they handed back our passports and bid us a good day. EJ couldn't help herself and asked point blank, "What's the matter? Couldn't you find anything you wanted for lunch?"

They didn't arrest us, so we scurried off to Miss Mosey. Once there we found stuff everywhere. EJ is an excellent packer. She manages to fill the most tiny of spaces. Obviously the border agents did not have anywhere near her talents. So we spent time gathering stuff off the floors and counters and putting them back in their proper places. We even found the safe key laying on the counter in plain sight. EJ had had it hidden in her lingerie drawer. That ticked her off big time. Not only did they fondle her underwear, they made sure we knew they had been in our safe where we keep our important papers and spare cash.

We found cabinets in disarray, items in the refrigerator had been moved around. We are still finding things out of place.

So we ask ourselves, "What triggered the search?". Did we answer a question incorrectly? Was it because I hesitated when giving them Miss Mosey's license plate number? (It's a new plate whose number is not firmly imbedded in my brain yet). Was it because we both have Concealed Carry Licenses? Was it because we are from Florida which is an immensely conservative state? Was it because we were the only vehicle in line and they were bored and wanted something to do? I fear we will never know.

Obligatory cat picture follows:





 


Sunday, May 12, 2024

 Pumpkin Patch RV Resort, May 12, 2024

Yeah, we're still here. Amazon and the USPS are not our friends.

In the process of installing the new solar panel to replace the one that New York took, the steps on the 14 year old ladder on Miss Mosey decided that they were done. EJ deemed them unsafe and no way was I to climb up on them. Oh boy! Another project!

I don't want to replace the whole ladder since those are made for the specific RV model and a generic ladder that might be available locally would entail more modifying than i was willing to under take. Amazon to the rescue. I thought! In my research for a solution I discovered that most RV ladders are made in a common width and that there were manufacturers that made steps to fit these common widths which in our case is 13 inches.

So on 5-7-2024, I placed the order to be delivered to Pumpkin Patch and Amazon promised 2 day delivery which fit our plans perfectly since we were due to leave on the 10th. That would give me an afternoon to get the new steps installed.

But instead of arriving on the 9 as promised, Amazon said they were having problems getting the steps which would result in delayed delivery. Then once they got the steps they bounced around various Amazon facilities before being handed off to the USPS. Uhoh, that raised the red flags. I have not had good experiences with the USPS delivering packages. 

The package arrived in Maine at the Eastern Distribution Center (this is the USPS facility) in Hampden, ME, which is about 25 miles from our location. What was really funny was during this fiasco Amazon was claiming they had sent it to the USPS all the while the USPS was saying they were waiting on Amazon to give it to them. Our package, the steps, languished at the Eastern Distribution Center for 2 days.

I was resigned to not receiving the steps until Tuesday 5-14-2024. These steps were starting to get real expensive as we are having to pay to stay here at Pumpkin Patch until they arrive. But then, something magical happened. The post office delivered them today, a Sunday two  days earlier than I expected. 

The missing replacement steps.


Obligatory cat pictures follows:


(The stare!)


New York 1, Miss Mosey Zero

  Pumpkin Patch RV Resort, Hermon, ME, May 6-17, 2024

 April 27, 2024

The above picture is for illustrative purposes, but it does give you, the reader, a flavor of the panic we experienced while traveling US-20 in New York. Immediately after a horrific sound of rending metal melded into a sound like we ran over something, EJ and I looked at each other and exclaimed "Holy shit!! What was that?" A glance in the side view mirror revealed a large shiny black and white flat object flipping end over end as it passed over the Explorer being towed by Miss Mosey. 

Of course, this being a 2 lane road with nonexistent shoulders meant there was no where to pull over to assess the damage. After 5 miles or so we found the Moondance Restaurant with a wide enough shoulder to park Miss Mosey. The adrenalin was definitely pumping as we set out to discover the havoc reeked upon our traveling home and car. I am picturing multiple shattered panels as this thing bounced down the roof and a broken windshield in Pearl (the Explorer being towed) as the panel smashed into her before flying off and shattering into a thousand pieces on the pavement

Unbelievably, other than a few scratches on the forward air conditioner cover, it appeared the flying solar panel missed both Miss Mosey and Pearl . While I was on the roof marveling at the lack of destruction, a red Ford pickup stops. The lady driving it explained to EJ what she saw happen.

Even though we were on a federal highway which is supposed to have a minimum 13ft-6in clearance over the road surface unless other specified by signage, we hit an overhead wire. Bare in mind that we only stick up above the road 12ft-6in. She said it was rather spectacular watching the solar panel spinning the air before crashing onto the pavement and disintegrating into a thousand pieces. She thought the wire we hit was a live electric wire so she called 911 to report it. She offered to take us back to the scene to recover whatever pieces were recoverable. Knowing that once a solar panel turns into a thousand pieces there is not much to recover,  we declined her offer.

She left and EJ and I were left standing waiting for our heart beats to return to some semblance of normalcy and a policeman pulls up. He wants to know what happened. So we explained what the lady had told us. Because it was a tree covered road, apparently the low hanging line blended into the shade and we never saw it. If the Ford pickup lady lady hadn't explained what happened we would still have no idea what occurred. The policeman explained we hit a "phone line or internet line" and that it was not a live electric line like the lady thought.

He wanted to know the dollar amount of the damage done to Miss Mosey. After we told him it would cost us about $250 bucks to replace the solar panel, he said he wasn't writing a report for less than $1,000 and beat feet out of there. 

We finished removing what was left of the panel frame and headed on to our destination Esperance, NY. We would be staying at an Elks Lodge with no hookups. but lots of grass and stuff for Gabby to explore.

This where the panel used to be... 




We decided we would spend 5 days at Pumpkin Patch RV Resort in Hermon, ME just outside Bangor. So we ordered a new solar panel to be delivered to Home Depot in Bangor. The idea was we would install it while at the RV park. Fortunately we carried spare brackets and hardware needed for the installation.

This is the new panel. I'm getting the mounting brackets and holes drilled in preparation for installation.


And now the new panel is installed and all is right with the world again. We are ready to continue boondocking.



Obligatory cat picture follows:






Sunday, May 5, 2024

Just another bump in the road...

 Elks Lodge #964 Agusta, ME May 5, 2024

After sitting in the proverbial barn for over 6 months, it's time to hook up the battery charger and see if we can get this blog cranked up and running again. Of course we have a plethora of excuses to account for our laziness. The dog ate my notes (we have no dog), we didn't do anything interesting, or we could whine about the amount of mental effort it takes to string together a few random words and add some snapshots.

Anyway, we are casting all the excuses aside and sorta promising to be more diligent about  updating "Driving Miss Mosey". But (there's always a "but" isn't there?) upon getting all geared up to get this thing back on the road, we encounter Murphy's Law (if it can break, it will). We have a bump in the road of good intentions.


First a little history. Years ago, when we started this little hobby of blogging, we had to use the blogger.com editor to produce content. It was cumbersome and clunky. Then along came Live Writer, a tool designed to allow dweebs like me to produce computer code without knowing any computer code. Halleluiah! It was a glorious day! No more fighting Blogger roadblocks!

Back in 2016, Microsoft stopped supporting Live Writer. However, a group of Microsoft coders didn't agree with that decision and voluntarily continued to support it. These volunteers kept it running through 2019, then it continued to function although as an orphan for several more years.

Well, sometime in the last 6 months, Google decided to improve Blogger to "make" our lives easier. All they accomplished as far as I'm concerned, was to irretrievably break "Live Writer", the wonderous tool that allowed us to blog with ease. 

So in spite of our former "sorta" promise, blogging may be a little rocky for a while as we experiment with ways around this latest Google fiasco.

Obligatory cat picture follows:




Sunday, October 29, 2023

OK, it’s time to pretend like we’re grownups again

Elks Lodge #2390 Amarillo, TX October 29, 2023

We raced to Amarillo, TX to get positioned for the rain and sub-freezing temperatures that were predicted for panhandle Texas and Oklahoma. As EJ said, “It was a dark and stormy night”. Well it was dark, and the wind was howling, the slide toppers were flapping but the predicted snow and freezing rain was disappointing. Not that I’m complaining mind you, but I expected more based on the dire predictions by the weather prognosticators. Regardless, we were prepared. The heat was on, we put an extra electric heater in the wet bay and the water softener was drained to avoid freezing damage. It did get down to 27 degrees and all the way up to 33 today but the precipitation failed to put in a serious presence. We woke to slick steps and frozen slide toppers and this.


That is frozen rain stuck to the side of Miss Mosey. Soooo, what this means is that we will spend an extra day here at the Amarillo Elks Lodge to let everything thaw out (The temps are expected to be 10 or 15 above freezing tomorrow). We will resume our trek toward responsibilities on Wednesday, November 1.

I shouldn’t project such dire gloominess since part of this journey involves fun. We are going to visit friends Tina and Johnny Roush in Hot Springs, AR November 6 through 8 before heading to Red Bay, AL to give Miss Mosey some needed care.

Before delving into Miss Mosey’s needed physical uplifts, a little history. When we acquired Miss Mosey in July of 2017 she had a chip in her windshield. The original owners had graciously adjusted her price of acquisition accordingly. On our previous motorhome, Big Guy, we had replaced his windshields 5 times in 2 years. The insurance company was not happy with us. We decided this time around to not be so anal about the windshield.

However, 5 chips and one big crack later, we feel it’s time to replace the windshield even though it is a huge target on the front end of Miss Mosey just screaming “Hit me, hit me!”. We know that within months of the replacement we will have a chip in the new windshield.

Since we were gong to be in Red Bay, AL anyhow, we decided to see if we could get some other stuff done too. For those unfamiliar, Red Bay is where Miss Mosey was built and is considered the Mecca for getting repairs and upgrades accomplished. But, October and November are extremely busy in Red Bay because all the snowbirds are headed south and a bunch of them stop by Red Bay to have work done.

So, I was not expecting to get much more accomplished other than the windshield replacement. We enlisted the help Happy Host Concierge Service to make the additional appointments. To our surprise, they were able to schedule us for almost everything on our list. Miss Mosey is scheduled for a new steering bell crank, new Koni shocks, new bushings on the front sway bar, getting her counter tops polished, replacement mats for the cockpit and stairs and getting the patio awning realigned. The week of November 13 is going to be very busy. Here are some pictures of the windshield that started this fit of responsibility.







But the responsibilities don’t end with taking care of Miss Mosey. We will continue on to Florida to renew vehicle registrations, replace verizon with visible, pay taxes, renew credit cards, visit our doctors and dentists, get Frank cataract surgery and work on the property in Branford, FL. We need to make another appointment for Miss Mosey to get her 60,000 mile checkup in Gaffney, SC. Plus make plans for our summer trip to Newfoundland.

But on the plus side, we will get to visit more friends and be able to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with them. 

Obligatory cat picture follows:


How we spent our 2023 Summer Vacation

May 5, 2023 to October 25, 2023 – Lake Alice State Park CG, NM

Opera Snapshot_2023-10-29_163454_Summer20travels.htm

 

Be aware, this blog entry contains lots of pictures. Click on them to embiggen! 

A little over 2600 miles in 5-1/2 months. During that time we spent 15 days in commercial campgrounds and the remainder at Elks Lodges, Casinos, BLM campgrounds, Forest Service campgrounds, city campgrounds, state park campgrounds and dispersed camping.

As you can tell, staying in commercial campgrounds is really, really low on our list. Why put up with oblivious campers, screeching kids and barking dogs (along with their biological landmines) when you can enjoy spaciousness, peacefulness and wonderful views?

There are times when one must simply have a Trader Joe’s fix or a decent selection of craft beers that requires one to suffer the indignities of a commercial campground and their inherent drawbacks. The sacrifices one must make for Triple Ginger Ginger Snap cookies,  a decent bouquet of fresh flowers or a decent selection of stouts and porters.

Here are some pictures of our favorite spots this summer. 

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This summer was also filled with animals. We have traveled to Alaska and Canada looking for moose without success. Lots of moose sign, but no moose. This summer it seems like they are everywhere you turn around. Unexpected, but most certainly appreciated.

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And that dear friends, is how you spend a fantastic summer. Peace, quiet, nature, and the rejuvenation of the soul. As the T-Shirt says “Life is Good!”.

Obligatory cat picture follows:

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Thursday, May 4, 2023

How We Spent Our Winter Vacation

October 19, 2022 to May 4, 2023 – South Chief Mountain BLM CG, Caliente, NV

How we spent our winter

We began this series of travel segments running from snow and now on May 4, 2023 at South Chief Mtn BLM Campground, we find ourselves right back in it. The difference though is back then we were worried about being trapped in snow for weeks, and now we’ll just wait a couple of days and it will be all warm and sunshiney again.

20230504_121527

We have proclaimed this 2023 adventure to be about finding a place we would like to spend summers. Maybe not a place where we just go and sit for the summer, but a summer base from which to explore.

While we are not having trouble finding camping spots, there have been places we would like to stay but we get shut out by the “weekend” campers. We are finding that we like to stay places longer, one week or perhaps even two, but that’s a no go because of “weekend” campers. It’s great if you only want to stay somewhere Sunday through Thursday. But weekends? Forget about it!

So we’ve been reading about some RVers that are buying unimproved properties around the country  just so they will have a place to land if competition for campsites gets worse. That’s something to consider as we search for a summer base. Maybe a half dozen folks or so could form an exchange program, swapping stays at properties they own. Hmmm, just a thought.

Obligatory cat picture follows:

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