Saturday, September 30, 2006
Friday, September 29, 2006
One great thing about having cable back is using Skype. If you haven't downloaded and used it... well, I like keeping my money, and I love talking to family and friends who are scattered all over the world.
I took the camera out on the walk today, and got a couple of shots of the orchard on the street behind us. They are starting to pick these huge red beauties, so this is a sight which won't last much longer. Across the highway, on a hill several blocks away is a lavender farm. The lavender is blooming, and the hill is one big rolling blanket of colour. Gorgeous! But too far away to get a good picture. I might try to drive over there and see about getting a picture (and smelling the lavender!).
While we were out we saw a large group of Canada geese migrating south. Must have been over 100 of them. They were a long way up, but you could hear them honking. Like, no one is in the way. Who are they honking at?
Yesterday I sat and watched what appeared to be a bald eagle riding a thermal over the valley. Sure wish I had a good telescope for bird watching. Sadly we found the broken little body of a white throated sparrow in the dog run today. It looked like maybe it had been hit by a predatory bird but had managed to get away only to die later. We picked it from the path and gave it a proper burial. I hate to see little things suffer.
We saw a sick sparrow picked off by the magpies at the feeder last winter. It was during a spell of intense cold, -30 for several days. One evening this little bird huddled on the feeder at dusk rather than taking shelter. I felt so badly, but there is nothing you can do for them. By mid-morning it had become too weak to hold onto the feeder and had fallen to the ground. One of the big magpies swooped in, grabbed it and broke its neck in an instant.
People say pies are bad, and eat songbirds, but I've never seen them attack (or even harass) a healthy bird. They evidently do raid nests in the spring, but squirrels clean out magpie nests and eat their babies too. (And some of us eat lamb and veal and suckling pigs.) Read the story of the magpie we raised and released into the wild. He was so smart, and such a character. In this picture he was sucking my finger, just like a puppy. It was how he comforted himself when he was upset or scared.
Now how did I get going on that? Never mind.... just think cable internet.... oh boy....
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
First, some pictures for the far-away, since I can't send attachments with the ding-dong web interface I have to use for mail right now. First: Red Chief the rascal. I finally caught a picture of him trying to break into the dish cupboard. He is absolutely relentless. Now I have to keep the tie-down on all day.
Then a few pictures of the inside of the tin palace, as lived in. But the simplification continues. In the last few days we've packed away about half of the books, pictures and doo-dads we brought out to begin with. We just found that there was too much visual stimulation in this small space. Less is better.
Reorganizing the contents of the cupboards seems to be an ongoing process. The cupboards are 24" deep, so this thing gets put in front of that thing, until you need that thing, when you have to move this thing to get at that thing, and so and so on and dooby dooby do do.... At least when you misplace something there are not too many places to look for it.
But triumph! After almost two weeks of trying to connect with the cable company we finally managed to get arrangements made to have cable internet installed late in the week!! We're looking forward to having real internet service again.
Red Chief and I saw 50 or more quail on our walk last night. They were all in a huge flock, on the ground, in the dog run. Must have been a quail convention. Four or five families, Mom, Dad (out front, everybody runs after him in a line) and eight to 12 kids. They much prefer to walk, and wait until the last possible minute to take to the air.
We saw one family go back through the chain link fence behind us a few days ago. (See picture of Himself above for a view of the fence under discussion). It divides the RV park from the property of the former owners. Their garden is spectacular, with wonderful flowers, trees and huge bunches of pampas grass. Anyway the Papa quail decided to move from our side of the fence to the other side. He slipped through one of the holes and his family followed, except for one little guy who was not paying attention and got left behind. When junior saw everyone else on the other side of the fence he panicked, running up and down the fence line squawking and bobbing, unable to find the perfect hole in the fence to slip through. Then all of a sudden he stopped running and simply flew to the top of the fence and over. It just shows how much more attuned to living on the ground they are. They really remind me of small chickens.
And that's it for the day!
Sunday, September 24, 2006
We figured out how to hang the small (18" x 24") electric panel heater. We'd initially thought we install it on the cabinet to the immediate left of the door, but it was clear that this is not a good spot, as the heater would be subjected to too many traffic hazards. There is not one other unoccupied 18" x 24" spot of wall in the entire trailer. It has to be hung six inches above the floor, away from windows and doors. The mounting brackets keep it one inch from the wall.
This took some thought. There's no reason the heater can't be moved, it's just a 1/4" thick sheet of cement board with heating coils embedded in it. It looks like a piece of white wallboard except that there's a cord coming from it and it has four holes for the mounting brackets.
So I bought a metal towel rack that hangs over the top of a door. By running picture wire through the top two holes we can hook the towel rack over the lip of the lower large drawer about halfway down the length of the trailer and hang the heater on it, just like a picture. When it's not in use we can pick it up and slide it into the pantry. Pretty nifty.
We installed the larger of the two heaters, the 24" x 24" one, on the back wall between the two beds. It's great except that it pumps out a lot of heat, too much for these nights when the temperature doesn't drop lower than five or six degrees. We have to keep turning it on and off, which is a bit of a pain. The smaller one doesn't put out as much heat, and since it's not so close to us, once it cools off enough to need heat (5:00 - 6:00 am) we can just turn it on and leave it on. It draws 1.8 amps of power and costs about a cent and a half an hour to run.
Next item on the agenda. The dern cat has been driving us mad. He is absolutely the worst tease on earth. Once he figured out he could get a rise from us by trying to get into the dish cupboard over the kitchen counter he has been a huge pain. He's fine during the day, but as soon as the lights go out he's at those doors. I've been putting two bungee cords over the door handles, but worried constantly that he'd work one of them loose and a hook might hit him in the head, eye, etc.
We temporarily dissuaded him by putting him in his cat carrier when he would jump up on the counter and start scratching at the doors, but by the third night he was very blase about that. He'd be quiet as a mouse and the minute you let him out and crawled back into bed he would be back at the cupboard doors.
I was desperate for a decent night's sleep. Night before last I wet paper towels and laid them on the counter, because he hates getting his feet wet, but he just concentrated on the area over the sink, where he could stand on the dry edge. ( damn!)
Yesterday I happened to think of the tie-down straps we bought to secure the fridge in place for the trip. They have a hook on each end, but tighten with a buckle (like a seat belt) and are not elastic. So I hooked a hook into the handles of the outside cupboard doors, ran the tie-down across the middle doors and pulled it all tight.
He looked at it with great interest and jumped up to investigate. I didn't say a thing, or scold him. He shoved his nose right up under the buckle, trying to loosen it or get it to move. No luck. He was puzzled when I ignored his pulling on the doors and strap, he kept looking at me and making little question noises. ("What? You aren't gonna yell at me? Not gonna jump up and grab me? Whassup with that?!! You tryin' to ruin my fun?")
After a minute or two he gave up and jumped down on his own. He had to dash around and jump on things generally, but that's fine. I don't mind that, it's just that one set of cupboards I was worried about.
The funny thing is that at bedtime he curled up on my feet and slept the entire night, except for wanting food when I got up at 3:00 and 5:00. I have learned something. Today he decided to see if he could get a rise out of me by jumping on the shelf above Tony's bunk where we have our prayer bowl and altar. There's not much room and he had to squinch himself to do it, but he was eyeing me and expecting a scolding. I just looked the other way. Oh, actually I tried to take his picture up there, but he got down before the shutter caught him. He hasn't tried again.
I always suspected I was smarter than yer average cat, and now I know I am! (Or at least I think I am. Pride goeth before a fall. He may open the straps tonight and break every dish in the house.)
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
It was sunny and beautiful yesterday. We had a busy day. We went to town and did the weekly shopping. Tony took the cat out for walkies three times, and I took him out once. It wore us out but didn't seem to dampen the cat's ardor for naughtiness. As soon as the lights went out he was pulling at the cupboard doors. We did what we did the night before. We stuck him in his carrier.
The carrier is a big plastic box, with ventilation slots on the top and sides, and coated wire doors on each end. He begins by scratching at the latch. When he can't jiggle the latch free he rolls over on his back, puts his feet against the ceiling of the carrier and runs in place, essentially turning the carrier into an upside-down treadmill. He runs till he's tired, rests a while then runs a while longer.
We wait until he's expended a fair amount of energy, then, during a quiet period we take him out of the carrier. He has a snack and then curls up to go to sleep. Well, it's one way to exercise him. He doesn't even seem to mind! He still goes right into the carrier when we open the door and last night he didn't even waste time trying to get out, he just made sure the door was closed and set off to get his 10,000 steps in.
Cats are weird.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite - only a sense of existence. ... How I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment. Henry David Thoreau; On Man and Nature
I am going to go out and take some pictures. I hadn't done it until now because of the smoke. But now the smoke has cleared and it's time to show you what our surroundings look like. The park is sparsely populated at the moment, maybe half a dozen units. The guy at the end of our row lives here permanently and has done so for seven or eight years. The people across from us look pretty settled as well. A couple of units are closed up during the week and are used only at the weekend. One brave couple is in a large tent and a pickup with a canopy. It was only five or six degrees last night. I wouldn't have wanted to be in a tent.
At sundown yesterday, while I had Salvador the monkey cat out for his evening "walk" we discovered a huge grape vine growing on the fence nearby. The grapes are huge and absolutely ripe and sweet as kisses. Haven't tasted grapes like that since the last time I picked my own. I brought a stem back for Tony to enjoy.
Now, about Salvador's "walks". There must be a better word for what we do. He drags me, and then I drag him. He runs as if his tail's on fire, then flops down and refuses to move. He dashes up a tree and then can't figure out how to get down. I have to coach him on how to retrace his steps - every time. He rolls onto his back and thrashes back and forth in the grass like a dog. He investigates the many loonie-sized holes in the grass and makes his "smells good" face. Are these mouse holes? Too big... no dirt around them so they can't be moles.... I'll have to ask.
This morning, despite a chilly start, was just gorgeous. Crystal air, brilliant sun, cool breeze. I took the rascal out for his morning stroll and had to yard him back after half an hour, with him threatening to bite me all the way.
Naughty cat! At about 4:00 am the sound of clinking china woke me up. He'd managed to somehow stand on the kitchen counter and open the top cupboard, where I keep the (breakable) dishes. I caught him rocketing out of the cupboard, fluffy-tailed and triumphant. I smacked him and did the grasping-the-neck-skin dominance signal that cats recognize from kittenhood, when mama cat used it to teach them what was, and wasn't, acceptable behaviour. But he's a strong personality and he's determined to get back in those cupboards. Why? - other than the challenge of course. There's nothing there of any interest to a cat!
What an adventure! But it looks like we'll have to find a way to cat-proof the cupboards or I'll never get any sleep.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Time to take a breath. The last few days have been very busy. We've worked pretty much non-stop and have tired ourselves out. Today we are laying around doing lots of nothing.
It's cool today, so far (at noon) only 13 degrees, and it's raining off and on. We're comfy inside. We've switched the panel heater on a time or two to chase away the chill.
I heard our neighborhood covey of quail calling to each other last evening. Is it only in the southern US that we imagine they say, "bob white bob white"? We saw them this morning, 12 of them this time, pecking their way across the grass under the fruit trees in the space behind the trailer. The young quail are as big as their mother, but she stills leads the line, and she stood up, alert and watchful, while the young birds fed. I got a picture of a couple of them, but it's hard to say if they are quail or rocks. Only a quailologist would know for certain.
We saw a squirrel yesterday and we definitely get whiffs of skunk in the evening. Cathy says a skunk lives under one of the older cabins. So we are surrounded by small wildlife, little creatures who have learned to coexist with man. This suits me fine. I'd just as soon live in the woods, but since that's not practical I'll enjoy having the four-leggers visit me.
Later in the day I'll make the trek to the clubhouse to check my mail, and then I'll have a nice shower and soak in the hot tub... doin' lots of nothing is a good way to spend the day. :)
Monday, September 11, 2006
I was sitting here Saturday night, minding my own business (which as anyone who knows me well is a rare occurence) when I heard a huge BANG!!. My first thought was that one of the dozens of water bombers, helicopters or fire-related light planes had crashed very close by. Then I thought maybe the propane tank on someone's RV had blown up. Then I thought I'd best get out and see what was actually going on, in case someone needed help.
No flames or smoke was apparent, so that was a good thing, but there was a flashlight or two bobbing down in the motel parking lot and lots of yelling. These motel rooms are part of the Bel Air complex and are only about 100 feet from our site.
As I arrived I saw that a small (12 ' x 12' maybe) building adjacent to the row of motel rooms had the corner knocked out, and a sagging roof. Further on, down an embankment, was a late model Ford, its rear end resting in a sling of the chain link fence which surrounds the resort.
A couple of the men were helping an elderly, somewhat confused, lady from the car and up the embankment. She was insisting that she could get in the car and drive it away, which was obviously not possible. She didn't seem to understand what had exactly happened, but didn't appear injured.
James and Cathy Hodge (a super young British couple) own and run Bel Air and by now Cathy had called an ambulance. We managed to get the lady to sit down and I tried to distract her with a little conversation. When the ambulance arrived they checked her over, and I assume she was fine. I left shortly after they arrived.
Today (Monday) the car was pulled out of its self-made nest by a tow truck with a winch. There was a big chunk of concrete and a pipe from the fence wedged underneath that took both James and Cathy's dad Dave to move, once the car and it had been separated. I'm betting that Ford won't be going anywhere under its own steam soon, if ever.
How did this dear little soul get herself in such a mess? Well, she had dropped her friend off and was turning around. I suspect she thought she put the car into drive, when she actually slipped it back into reverse. When she hit the accelerator she zoomed backwards at a good clip, hit the corner of the building and kept right on going - backwards.
Talk about a time to reverse your decision. This was one.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
We found a place to put the office supplies and Tony's file boxes. It wasn't an entirely bloodless process but we were both tired and cranky. There was one file box which was 1/2" too big for any of the spots I wanted to put it. He wanted to just stick it on a shelf, where it hangs over the edge. We almost had to get out the dueling pistols before we finally found a home for it. The only place it would go was right where he did (and I didn't) want it. Well, I guess you shouldn't end a 42 year marriage over the placement of a file box. (I've learned I'm not as good at compromising as I am at getting my own way. Hmmmm, maybe I should work on that, but then I like getting my own way! That's no surprise to anyone who knows me.)
We've been trying to figure out if we're missing anything we left behind yet. We couldn't think of a thing. In fact there were things we'd brought that neither of us think will be useful. We were so tired we were blind those last few days.
Today the unpacking process continued. We hauled boxes out of the truck, which is a very difficult endeavor for two short people. Poor ole Tony has to crawl up into the bed of the truck and yard the boxes out by brute force. Of course everything we needed to unpack was at the very front and the things we don't need now were between us and them.
But he hauled 'em out and I sorted and put away, hung pictures, found batteries for the clock and smoke alarm, found the carbon monoxide monitor and the calendar. So, we may not know much but we now know what day and time it is. Maybe. There were two big boxes of books and music, my research materials for a couple of books I'm working on, plus a box of odds 'n sods. I ended up packing up a large box of stuff culled from the other boxes and that was put back in the truck. (Will this never end?)
The place is looking like home now though, with family photos, a few favorite paintings and gee-gaws, and surprisingly there's still room to tuck more stuff away.
After dinner I left the dishes to rot and headed for the hot tub/pool. I did a round robin of hot tub/pool/hot tub and came out pink as a spanked baby's butt and relaxed as a wet string. I could get to like that hot tub.
This is a hard life. I would wish it on my best friend. ;)
Friday, September 08, 2006
At some point in the past few years the copper pipe which carries water to the kitchen sink must have developed a leak. So the previous owner, in a fit of "use what's at hand", replaced it with a section of garden hose.
Now, you must understand. The water system in this trailer pressurizes itself, and the pipes have to be able to withstand a healthy dose of water pressure. So this garden hose must have struggled manfully to do the job for a season or two but finally gave it and exploded. Wunnerful.
The RV guy will return today to replace the hose with copper pipe, replace the ruined insulation and reattach the metal underbelly to the trailer. I hate to think of the bill, but at least it wasn't a holding tank or the water tank. Replacing either of those would have been a catastrophic expense. Especially the water tank, which is stainless steel.
On the plus side, I love our tiny 30" x 40" bathroom. You almost have to back in if you plan to sit on the avocado green "throne", and the sink is teeny. What I love about it is that the entire bathroom floor is molded into one piece and forms a shower pan. So when I go to clean I scrub then simply pour water over, around, and behind, the toilet. I can wash the entire thing down and everything goes out the drain. I've joked for years about wanting a house I could simply hose down inside, well, at least I can do that to the bathroom here!
And, just to make you green. I'm writing this sitting outside on the lawn, under an apple tree which is loaded with apples. The temperature is perfect, the breeze is heavenly, the birds are singing and a few come to have a shower in the sprinkler from time to time. Ahhhh..... this is the life.
Monday, September 04, 2006
We hear a rooster in the mornings, greeting the dawn with a time-honored "karck-a-doodle-doo", but this afternoon we had the distinct pleasure of a visit from a neatly turned out Rhode Island Red hen, picking her way across the grass. Our spot borders a row of houses, and one of them obviously has a flock of chickens. I love chickens, and to have one as a visitor is an unexpected pleasure. I took her picture, rather poor quality but through screen wire, and she was in deep shade with brilliant sunlight between me and her. At least you can see it's a chicken - I think. Idn't she cute?
Tony just asked how I'm finding housekeeping in the trailer, as opposed to keeping house in the apartment. I've wanted to live in a small space for a long time, for both ecological and philosophical reasons. As Peace Pilgrim said, "Consume to your level of need."
In general I think we need a great deal less than we consume. I think of all the stuff we left behind, and wonder why we even had much of it. Most of it was rarely used, some of it was never used. I may purge again within a few weeks. But I'm finding that the rules of living in this tiny space are:
- Immediately clean anything you've dirtied.
- Immediately put away anything you've used, in the same place you took it from.
- Dump the waste tank every day.
- Make sure you have clean water to drink.
- Make sure you have "Wet Ones" and paper towels. I never used disposable paper products at home but they are a necessity now, at least until we get our running water back.
- Walk the rotten cat at least three times a day to try and wear him down so he'll sleep at night.
So far the last rule hasn't worked. The Red Rascal woke me at least 10 times last night, wanting to play, wanting to smooch, wanting to snack, wanting to go outside. Today I'll walk him more often, and hope he sleeps tonight.
He's clever though. The mornings are quite cool, down to seven degrees yesterday morning. I turned on the electric panel heater yesterday at about 5:00 am, and this morning the cat wanted me to turn it on again. He kept jumping on it and meowing at me until I got up and turned it on about 6:00 am. He then curled up in his box near the heater and slept.
I am enjoying using things I hardly used at home like my flower bowls, and the pretty cups and my beautiful pinwheel quilt. It's easy to have a beautiful small space with very few things. We haven't had the energy to dig out the box with the pictures, so the walls are still bare, but I suspect we will hang about a quarter of what I brought. More would seem overkill. Guess we'll rotate pictures.
So far the experiment in small space living is going well. Except for the internet and e-mail aggravation we are doing well.
He let me sleep till 2:30, then it was show time. He didn't settle back down until 5:30. I am soooo cranky and tired today I could bite the heads off kittens, one kitten especially.
I need to get up and clean, because one thing out of place looks messy and two things out of place looks slovenly. Also need to either boil water or get up the moxy to drive to town and buy water. Either challenge is more than I want to face right now.
Who'd have guessed that you can get as crabby in a dream home as in a rented condo?
Saturday, September 02, 2006
To tell the truth we are both still really tired. We slept over 12 hours last night. Went to bed at 9:00 pm and slept until 9:30 am. Tony says he's still bouncing from the trip. I'm just tired from working so hard these last couple of months.
Aside from the broken water connection, everything works well and we are very pleased, although I still am unable to send e-mail for some reason, and I have to go to the clubhouse to get a web connection. We may opt for cable service just to fix that problem. It's a royal pain in the behind not having internet service.
There's still lots left to unpack, but none of it is essential to life and limb, so it can wait until I am more rested. I spent 30 minutes talking to our neighbour lady to the east this morning, and didn't worry that I should be working, cleaning or just involved in some kind of busy-ness.
Our neighbour to the west came over for a visit, and returned five minutes later with a half flat of Roma tomatoes. Mmmmmm, we will be eating fresh tomatoes for dinner, and snacks, and breakfast and lunch and snacks and....
We are moving at a slower pace and savoring the quiet. We haven't hooked up the TV or turned on the radio. The news is irrelevant. People can kill each other by the hundreds at home and abroad without our attention, they've been doing it despite our fretting anyway.
What's important right now is the kindness of a neighbour, the unhurried visit and the steady, soothing drone of the fan.
Friday, September 01, 2006
We felt badly about leaving Bill the bunny and our many bird friends behind in Calgary. But this morning we discovered that we have a covey of quail in our back yard. Big Happy! They are so cute, with their topknots and the bobbing way they walk.
I've spent the day unpacking and putting things away, a process that will take a couple of weeks, if not longer. We haven't gotten around to calling the RV repair guy yet, but will. Maybe after the long weekend.
We have to drink bottled water anyway, so for now we carry water for other purposes in a gallon jug from the spigot 10 feet from the front door. If we want hot water we have a kettle and a stove. There are showers here, so we won't even be trying to shower in this two by three bathroom. The toilet flushes with a cup of water, and washing dishes in a pan takes three or four cupfuls. As of mid-afternoon we've used a total of one and a half gallons. (Bet you used that much to brush your teeth this morning.) This kind of living is easy on the earth for sure.
The electrical system works fine. I brewed coffee with our little four cup coffee maker this morning. The only appliance we have running on AC right now is the fan. So far we've used only the DC lights, which are powered by our solar panel. We should look for an adapter so we could charge the phone, computer and any other battery-operated devices on DC.
This is very comfortable. The mornings are chilly, but a sweater and long pants are enough covering. By 10:00 am it's shorts time. Today it's supposed to be 30 degrees C., so far we've never been uncomfortably warm. That roof coating Ian put on has made a huge difference in the amount of heat that comes through the ceiling. They promised a 20 degree difference, and they were telling the truth.
The trailer must be a Thursday's child. What it loves to give is headaches! Ian worked out how to light the furnace and water heater, and how to dump the waste tank.
Somewhere along the way from Blairmore we lost our sewer hose and had to go to town this morning to buy another. We got it back to find that the end of the hose and our connector didn't match. It took four trips and a great deal of fiddling and duct tape to get the hose hooked up.
And, because we did not know that this trailer has only one tank we accidentally overfilled it and it backed up into the bathroom. (Newer trailers have a grey water and a black water tank. This one has a tank, period.) I got to clean up the overflow. It's a mistake no one with any sense of smell makes twice.
Mid-afternoon Ian's friends Julie and Susan arrived to pick him up, and he was off with a hug and big grins. What a sweet guy.
An hour later a neighbour knocked on our door to ask if we knew that the bottom of our trailer was pouring water. No we didn't!!
From what we, and our neighbours on both sides, can deduce, we have ruptured a water connection under the trailer, but, because the belly is entirely enclosed we can't say for sure. We have the phone number of an RV repair guy and will call him tomorrow.
So we are boondocking as far as water is concerned. No one drinks the water here anyway. They've been under a water advisory for the last two years. The water looks like milk and smells like... well, it smells funny.
I haven't been able to send mail yet. I can receive e-mail on my regular account, but can't get it to send. I may have to resort to a G-Mail account if I can't get it to work. The wi-fi doesn't work in the spot we are parked in (now they tell us!). This means I have to go to the clubhouse to connect to the web. So I won't be checking mail every few minutes. I may check twice a day if I'm ambitious. :)
However nothing can dampen our spirits. This is a magnificent place to park, the weather is glorious. It's sunny, breezy, with fruit hanging in the trees all around us. Even the cat is happy and has discovered numerous places in the trailer that were (apparently) designed just for him.
Thanks to the help of friends and family we're finally here! Whoooopeee!!!!!
Then it was time to climb out of the ditch Castlegar is in. This hill and descent were unexpected, and almost as bad as the big Crowsnest Pass the day before. Every town on the route turns out to be the same, down at the bottom of a ditch. You have to slide into town on your tail feathers and sweat like Richard Simmons to get back out again. The countryside is beautiful but we must have gone up and down five miles for every mile forward. It was 4:30 before we finally pulled into Oliver. Three days minus a half hour. Lordie. Next time I'll walk.
We got busy setting up the trailer and at about 8:00 we went into town for a bite of dinner. We found a very plain pizza joint which sold very yummy pizza by the slice. After that we went to the grocery store and learned that Oliver has the world's best grocery store in a very compact floor space. They seem to have everything under the sun, in a quarter of the space of the Safeway nearest our place in Calgary. I love it.
11:00 pm Tuesday night. We are parked in a little provincial campground a few km outside of Castlegar, BC. Beautiful place, way off the road, so it's quiet. In the morning, while walking around, we discover a hornet's nest in a nearby barrel. The hornets are clustered on their nest, sleeping in the cold wet morning. Very neat!
The plan was to make it to Oliver today, but halfway through the day I realized that I'd told the RV resort that we'd arrive on the 30th - and today is only the 29th. Oh bliss. That gives us an extra day.
Believe me, we needed that extra day. We parked last night near Blairmore, so we'd be fresh before we tackled the big pass over the Rockies at Crow's Nest Pass. This is a big mother father of a hill, and the truck, which has now been named "Bouncing Betty" did only 40 km an hour up the steepest sections.
Coming down the other side was mighty exciting. Now Betty wanted to go 125 km an hour, and also fly, but Ian's firm hand on the gears and excellent use of the brakes kept us to a manageable speed. Just barely. (Later we realized that we'd had no trailer brakes during this entire descent. Gulp.)
We thought we were over the worst of it but when we made the turn for Castlegar we were right back on an 8% grade for km after km. It took us all day to make a couple of hundred km. By 6:00 pm we were knackered.
We stopped at the Visitors Centre in Castlegar to ask about campgrounds. They were closed. Their map was next to useless. We drove around an hour looking for a campground. It was getting dark when we finally found a provincial park - no electricity (no real problem) and no running water (damn). The campsite last night had no water either, so we are now on day three since our last showers. We don't smell so good and the gents are getting very fuzzy. But there's a single shower at the entrance to this campground, which Ian is enjoying right now. Tony and I will shower in the morning as we are too tired to walk that far tonight.
It's only about 225 km to Oliver, hopefully we *will* make it there tomorrow. Meanwhile, carping aside, this is a lovely spot. Heavily treed, with frogs peeping in the background and the perfume of wood smoke in the air. The leaves are rustling in the wind, the temperature is absolutely perfect and the only other sounds are the muted-by-distance voices and laughter of other campers. sigh
We left Calgary Monday the 28th at 5:00 pm sharp. We figured rush hour traffic would be terrible, but we experienced no delays. In 40 minutes we passed the Calgary City limits sign headed south.
You see "Hottie Doggie" in all her blue striped glory here, parked in the Blairmore Municipal Campground our first night on the road. The other picture is the mountain just across the way. We'd been in rolling prairie to this point, from here out would be mountains. But there surely is no place more breathtakingly beautiful than southern Alberta in late August. The grain is ripening gold against green, the farmers are out cutting hay, laying it out into maze-like patterns across the fields. The distant mountains break against the sky like waves of purple stone.
At sundown we reached a little town called Blairmore which had a municipal campground. No services, other than a dumping station and a water spigot, but it looked mighty good to us, as tired as we were. Trucks roared by all night, as we were right on the highway, and none of slept as well as we'd hoped, but we were awake early and ready to get on down the highway. Little did we know what we were getting into.
But on the positive side, there's loads of storage space in the trailer. The rotten Red Chief has already adapted to the trailer and is finding it exciting to look out the windows at the many birds in the trees around us.
Ian is home packing his necessities for the trip, then I will go pick him up, we'll gas up the truck, hitch up and we are out of here. A little later than we'd hoped, but we'll soon be on our way.
Ian left for home about 1:00 and we headed out to go to bed in the trailer. We were just dozing off when lights started playing across the front and side of the trailer. Both of us thought it was headlights from a car coming down the lane.
A minute passed and the light shone right in the front window (and no where else). Almost immediately the door was yanked open and a man poked his upper body in the door.
I said, "Ian is that you?" No reply. He stepped inside.
Tony said, "Ian, is that you?" No reply, but the guy stopped. Tony yelled, "Hey! Get out of here! and the guy bolted out the door, down the side of the trailer and off through the back garden.
By that point I had dialed 911 and had the police on the line. I told them we had an attempted break-in, but the guy had bolted. They said they'd have someone here in two minutes.
About 30 seconds later the HAWKS police helicopter was overhead and began sweeping the area, in another couple of minutes two squad cars arrived, one a canine unit. Once they found out which way the guy had gone they took off after him.
A woman officer took a report, and within a few minutes she said they'd apprehended and arrested a suspect who could give no good reason why he was prowling the neighborhood at 1:30 in the morning with a flashlight.
HAWKS had awakened me up several times early Saturday, sweeping up and down our block. And this seemed a rather robust response for a guy who'd already hightailed it. Maybe he'd been working the neighbourhood.
Anyway, my cell phone paid for itself last night, but for some reason I had a little trouble sleeping.