"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Move is Now Official!

Well, the worst of the blog move is over, so I've decided that I will no longer be updating travelswithmiranda.blogspot.com. All future updates will be at travelswithmiranda.uskeba.ca. I'll leave the Blogger version up for now, but everything on it is available at the WordPress site, including comments.

What is left for me to do is finish uploading all my photo albums. You might therefore encounter broken links within old posts. Please take a moment to leave a comment if you encounter such a link.

I'm very, very excited about this move. While WordPress has tested my patience (and will continue to do so), I am happy to be moving to the freedom of hosting my blog at my own domain and having full control over the design. I hope that this blog/website hybrid will be both useful and entertaining.

Miranda and I hit the road again in just a little over a week!

For those reading about my travels on OIT's tale, I'm afraid you will need to go to the TWM blog to continue reading up on my adventures. I am considering moving OIT to WordPress also, but it will probably remain here with its infrequent updates. I am trying to turn TWM into a business and I need to focus my energies on it for the time being.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

If Not the Weather, the... Cats

I had water at 6:30 this morning, but not at 8:30. I got the heat gun, set it up, opened the tap in the bathroom sink, and went out to open the guest facilities. I wound up getting tied up there and didn't get back home for twenty minutes.

That was just long enough for:

-the heat gun to work its magic;
-water to start gushing out of the bathroom tap;
-one of the cats (probably Neelix) to leap up onto the counter to get at all that fresh, yummy water, and;
-knock a washcloth into the basin where it stopped the drain.

*sighs*

I suppose that's one way to wash the floors. I used a heater to dry out everything and the room looks okay. I hope that the water didn't have time to infiltrate.

In other dismal news, I believe that my overhead cab is now leaking. I've got a nice chunk of ice in one corner. Inside. I'm going to get the heater up there next, but I'm sure the damage is done. Caulking will have to wait until the weather warms up.

In happier news, it was SUNNY today!!! I went out to do the cleaning this afternoon and switched to a light sweater and a kerchief, instead of the sweater, coat, and tuque I've been living in. Sure, it was a tad 'brisk' (-11) walking around the park like that, but it felt sooooo nice to be unencumbered by a million layers of clothing. Of course, the sun is already setting (can't believe it's four, where does the day go?!), but I definitely got my vitamin D quota for the day.

This afternoon, I managed to run my errands in preparation for Thursday's dinner with the guests. My contribution is mashed turnip (rutabaga for you purists) with brown sugar, which I will have the pleasure of serving in a bowl that belonged to my dad. I couldn't tell you the number of times I served mashed root vegetables in that bowl over the past twenty years and I am very happy to bring a piece of my father with me to this traditional Christmas meal he would have enjoyed so much.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Introductions

If you like Travels With Miranda, then I'd like to invite you to check out the brand new blog by my new friend Donna (aka 'Gypsy'), Life On Our Ark! Donna and her husband are, like me, complete RVing (and full-timing!) newbies, as well as Canadians. Donna's just getting started, but her first few posts will have you in stitches as she recounts her own experiences with our current climate crisis. Welcome to the RVing cyber family Donna! I look forward to following your adventures when we part ways!

Such Naïveté

Gee, Rae thinks, it's pretty warm out there (minus six). The tanks need dumping! Why don't I just thaw out the dump valves. There! All thawed! Waitaminute, nothing's coming out!

Yes, my full black tank is actually a solid block of ice. As a friend would write--:headdesk:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Goings On Behind the Scenes

I am in the process of moving Travels With Miranda to not only WordPress, but also my own site. In doing so, I will gain greater control over the format of the blog and will be able to integrate both the blog and the website into a seamless whole (at least, I hope so). I have therefore removed the website, so you may encounter broken links within blog posts. All of this will be fixed in good time. This is a major endeavour on my part as I need to learn new types of coding languages and how WordPress works (or, rather, doesn't). It is a fine adventure and has been, and will be, keeping me busy for months.

For a sneak peek, you can check out the new blog at travelswithmiranda.uskeba.ca. I will make an announcement when the new blog becomes the official Travels With Miranda. This won't be for quite some time as there is much for me to do with the new blog:

-cleaning up all the posts by fixing links, reuploading pictures, categorizing, and tagging;

-tweaking the design;

-uploading all my travel pics and doing all the coding for the pages;

-transferring information from TWM:TW to the new WordPress site.

Thank you to all my readers; you make me feel that this effort on my part is worth my time!

Solstice

I don't normally make it a point of standing on rooftops and shouting that it's such and such a Sabbat, but being here, surrounded by fanatical, Bible-thumping Christians, I feel a need to assert myself and proclaim that it is Yule. A minor Sabbat, Yule celebrates the return of the sun. The unhappy fall I had combined with my imminent departure make Yule's symbolism particularly literal for me.

I'd also like to remind Christians that while the son was actually born in summer, it is the sun whose birth is celebrated at this time of year, misappropriations of rituals not withstanding.

Trying to Lull Us Again...

At 7PM last night, it was minus twenty-one. My water froze again in a matter of minutes and it took forever to get it going. I was chilled to the bone and miserable; I hadn't felt my feet in two days and the night promised to be brutal. When I got the water running again and was able to take a very long and extremely hot shower, I felt better. By the time I went to bed at 10:30, it was minus seventeen. Yes, the temperature was going up...

I had a fantastic night. When I woke up around 5:30, my first thought was that the bedroom was very cozy!

I rose to minus sixteen and about six inches of snow, which I just spent two hours moving out of the way in areas where people walk. Apparently, a snow plow is on its way.

It's supposedly cold out there, but a dry minus sixteen with no wind is perfectly bearable.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Fighting Resumes

Yesterday evening, I suddenly found myself without water once again. It's presently -16 and we're looking at another long stretch of deep freeze. The forecast continues to change and while we're looking once again at a long period of sub-zero weather, they are no longer announcing nights at twenty below. Small blessings, I suppose.

I'm trying to figure out where the water is frozen. My compartment is well heated and my heat tape is working. All I can fathom is that the problem is once again in the pedestal, but that was insulated. So, perhaps the problem is underground...

At times like these, I start to dream of Las Vegas, but Las Vegas got more snow than we did this week, so I am starting to wonder if there are any warm havens left!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Really False Sense of Security

My toilet has decided to start working again.

Lulling Us Into a False Sense of Security...

This morning was, again, my favourite kind of day--bright, warm(ish), and snowy. I spent over an hour digging myself and my neighbour out from our two day snowstorm and it was perfect shoveling weather; I soon removed my winter coat and laboured away in just a sweater, gloves, and tuque (and jeans and boots and socks!). But it wasn't long before the sun vanished and the cold began to seep in again as the wind picked up. We went from a minus six without windchill to a minus seven that feels like minus fourteen. At least, the forecast continues to be more and more optimistic; we're supposed to hit zero on the 25th!

A glimpse of our snowy world:


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Red Herrings

As it turns out, my plumbing problem with the shower wasn't a plumbing problem after all, but an electrical one.

I've made a mental note to check on the basement heater twice a day from now on... to make sure that the breaker hasn't tripped.

*bangs head on desk*

Reprieve, But at a Cost

The long term forecast is improving... so much so that we're now in the middle of a snowstorm. As fellow winterites know, it can't snow when it's bitter cold out. So, snow is good in terms of temperatures. We're supposed to hit a high of minus four today, which would be awesome!

That said, the forecast still doesn't think we're going to go above freezing until about the 27th or 28th and... my shower drain is frozen.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Single Battle Won, If Not the War

Last night was much better than the previous one.

I concluded that sleeping in the study would bring about the same issues as doing so in the upstairs bedroom because of how COLD it is by the big picture window. Since the bedroom is a much smaller space, I figured that it would be easier to insulate. I grabbed whatever I had; leftover pieces of styrofoam insulation, towels, extra bedding, and suitcases to create as much of a barrier as possible between the windows and myself. Also, before going to bed I set a cookie sheet on the mattress to create a flat and fireproof surface and then stuck the heater up there for about forty minutes. Finally, I didn't skimp on clothes, doubling up on all layers. I was still feeling pretty cozy when I got up at 6:30 to open the park gates, but when I went back to bed after, cold had seeped in.

Another thing I did overnight was leave the water running in the bathroom sink. I hate doing this as it is so wasteful, but environmentalists have obviously never fought this climate. Leaving the tap on meant that I had water this morning and no burst pipes.

When I showered just before bed at eleven last night, the pipes were just starting to freeze. I had water, but the temperature and pressure were uneven. I had to let the shower run for about five minutes before I could even think of getting into it, but the water finally reached optimum pressure and temperature.

This morning, it is -12C (10F), but it feels like -20C (-4F) with the windchill. And what a wind it is. Miranda is thankfully buffered between a house and a huge class A, but she is still being tossed about 35kph (22mph) winds.

Getting up this morning to face the weather wasn't as tough as some people might think. I'm used to this weather, grew up in it, worked in it, camped in it, lived in it. Which all means that I've earned the right to be sick of it.

That said, if it wasn't windy, these would be the best kinds of days. Bracing, sunny, with an air so fresh and crisp that it wipes the soul clean; the kind of day that beats a 'feels like 40 with humidity' summer day.

I suppose I have a love/hate relationship with winter.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Don't Forget About Starting Batteries in Cold Weather

My house batteries have been handling this cold snap without blinking (knocks on wood), but my coach battery went from 100% charge to 60% overnight. 60%, I discovered, isn't enough to crank the engine. For the first time, I pulled out my trusty charger and used it to trickle charge (at 2A) the starting battery. This took less than 10 minutes. I'll do this once a day until the cold snap passes. I nice it was to have the tool to do this! My neighbours have been boosting their trucks to get them going each day and I know this is not good for a battery.

The car started fine this morning and I have the option of trickle charging it, too, should I have an issue with it at some point.

The charger has a 100A 'jump start' mode for boosting using the charger rather than another vehicle, but I can't use it for obvious reasons! In a pinch, I could use the 15A 'fast charge' mode, but trickle charging is definitely the better battery maintenance option.

There is so much to think about!

Propane Usage

I filled my propane tank today (thankfully, the place in Oliver, two blocks away, was open!). Exactly 44 hours elapsed between the time when I plugged in the tank on Saturday and the time when I did so today. In that time, I used 20lbs of propane, or 2/3s of a tank. Based on that usage, I would have made it to tomorrow morning on my tank. I have been using an average of .5lbs of propane per hour, or 12lbs per 24 hours. I'll fill up again Wednesday morning and do the math again. My power usage is also apparently through the roof, but what can I do? I feel like I'm trying to survive an ice age in a cardboard box!!!

At least, there is a wonderful bright sun out there and it's making a significant difference in the comfort level in here.

Happier News

A colleague's husband came by and determined that the water was frozen not at the inlet, but right at the faucet! And this despite the fact that the faucet has heat tape on it and so does my hose! He applied a heat gun to the area for about two minutes and then I had water! Okay, I still don't have water in the toilet room, but this is a vast improvement over my situation this morning and it's good to know that, except for whatever is going on with the toilet hose, Miranda's holding together.

The propane tank still feels quite heavy, but I'm not taking a chance. :-) Soon as the noon day sun has time to work its magic on the roads, I'm going to risk my life and go into Osoyoos to fill up on propane.

Sitting here last night, I wondered why I shouldn't just get a second auxiliary tank and then I remembered why I debated getting a single one in the first place. It's nice to have them when you're parked... but where, praytell, would I store them when I hit the road again?! My vague plan is to just store the empty tank in the trunk of the car, but I doubt that's a very good plan. :-S

An Unpleasant Night

Boy, the manufacturer wasn't kidding about minus ten being the magic number!

The bedroom was unbearably cold last night and woke me up at 3AM. Additional clothing and bedding weren't sufficient to make me comfortable. I'm not sure what I can do to insulate the windows, what with all the condensation and moisture up there, so I think I will be sleeping in the study this week.

I had water for a few minutes at 3AM, and then none. This makes me suspect that the water intake, not the whole system, is frozen. I aimed a hair dryer at it for about ten minutes this morning, removing a very thick covering of ice. I hope that full sun will help it further thaw. I've asked for advice as to whether I should leave the water connection on or close it and am awaiting a response.

Two winters ago, I sat shivering in a metal box on wheels without water and swore I'd never go through that again. I've, yet again, failed to keep a promise to myself. I'm trying to decide if that failure is mitigated by due diligence in picking a suitable Canadian climate for passing the winter (even though said climate has betrayed me) and, well, being on the road.

At least, water and hot showers are just a hop, skip, and a jump across the compound. This sure beats driving into the city to use the gym showers, schleppiung to the village spring for drinking water, and melting snow for non-potable use!

I will get through this, but after surviving the Ice Storm and four winters in the mobile house I've earned the right to do so while stomping my feet and jumping up and down shrieking hysterically "IT'S NOT FAIR!" At least, inside my head. On the outside, I'm still trying appear graceful and full of humour. :-)

Next year, I'm going south. Budget be damned.

Thinking Outside the Question

I asked the Escapees forum tonight if there was some way for me to tap into the 50A outlet on my power pedestal so I could run my heater. The answer I got was that it was possible, dangerous, and expensive. The solution became more and more complicated until someone suggested that I get a heater with a lower amp draw.

Which made me pull out my manual, whereby I discovered that by using a lower setting, I can reduce both of the heaters' draws from 12.5 to 7.5A!!! Talk about a DOH moment that had me both blushing and laughing. Even at a lower setting, I'm still getting more heat from the two of them than I would from just the big one on its own.

I continue to be humbled.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

And so it begins...

It went down to about -8 last night. Everything was hunky dory this morning, not that I was stressed seeing as the magic number is -10.

Today's high was about -8 and it's all been downhill from there.

This morning was my favourite weather, the one in which I could live pretty much year round except for two weeks of swimming weather--coldish, dry, and sunny, perfect for wearing a light coat while doing some brisk exercise... like shoveling. But the weather has now degenerated to the 'bitterly cold' stage.

Everything is no longer hunky dory. The line from the main part of the plumbing to the toilet room appears to be frozen solid.

I traced the line and realised that, DOH, it's actually located in a compartment, one that I so seldom use that I tend to forget I even have it. So, I went out to the hardware store and picked up the cheapest heater they had. The clerk tried to 'upsell' me to a fancier and pricier model but I made it clear that I had the heaters I needed for inside and I was just looking for something for the basement. He confirmed that the cheapie should work fine.

So, I got the heater installed in the compartment, but there is a problem: I had to use the 15A connection that was running the space heater in the cab. I therefore can no longer run that space heater as I'm out of amperage!

I purchased potable antifreeze, which I'll add to my pipes periodically (yes, I know it's not the most efficient way of using the product). I also bought some desiccant crystals to absorb some of the moisture in here.

A reader asked a very pertinent question: why don't I just leave and escape the weather? The only way out of here is through some pretty bad snow and icy road conditions. It's safer to make my stand right here.

I'm desperately trying to keep some perspective here. A few days of personal discomfort really won't matter if I can at least keep my plumbing and other systems from suffering damage. I can wear more clothes, wrap myself in a blanket, or spend the day at the clubhouse.

In January 1998, I lived through what we call THE Ice storm. 21 days without power, living as refugees, and learning to 'do without.' A cold snap where I have access to supermarkets, hot showers, and the internet pales in comparison to that event. So, don't worry about me, but pray for my Miranda!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Propane Provides an Important Lesson

At 4PM today, I ran out of propane. Lesson learned? That an empty tank of propane weighs a lot!!!

Thankfully, there is one propane place in this area that has excellent hours for propane service: the Shell station in Osoyoos. They're open 6AM to 10:30PM seven days a week during the winter. Of course, the 40 minute round trip wound up being closer to a full hour since I was driving slooooooowly. But what a relief it was to run out at 4PM instead of the middle of the night!

I had no problem getting the tank hooked up this time around. Thankfully!

Into the Breach

Oh, it's getting cold out there. It's also very slippery. There is no way I am going into Penticton to get anything. So, I'll be making my stand with what I have here.

I went out for about a half hour and tried to shake as much snow off of Miranda as possible. It was hard because a lot of it is crusted ice. My first priority when the thaw comes will be to get rid of all the ice and snow before it melts. If it melts, it will infiltrate and I will have major problems on my hands. I'm keeping particularly close watch on the upstairs bedroom. I wanted to climb up onto the roof, but it was much too slippery to do so.

One conclusion I've come to is that I simply cannot skimp on inside heat. Even if I have to go through a container of propane a day, I need to keep her insides warm. I noticed that the rear of her exterior is pretty much snow and ice free except for the bumper, while the front, and least heated, part of her is icy. Coincidence, I think not.

An issue I'm having is that the space heater is skewing the thermostat's sensors. So, I'll be moving the space heater forward and bringing the radiant heater aft. I think that this will serve a dual function in that the space heater will help reduce condensation in the cab and upstairs bedroom. I just wish it wasn't so noisy!

I'm trying to decide if I should blow my water lines or not. Some people say I should out of sheer precaution, others that this is not necessary. I have too much experience with exploding plumbing to make this decision lightly. I'm just wondering if I'm not already too late to do so.

I'm not worried about my personal safety or that of the cats. We've ridden out worse weather than this. But the last thing I want is to ruin Miranda or have her experience damages that will ruin me financially.

As the days march by, I regret more and more my decision to remain in Canada this winter. My reasoning was that I would be able to work, but that hasn't panned out at all. I would have been much better off living frugally in a New Mexico park. A bitter lesson.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Walking in a Winter Horrorland

This morning, I watched astounded as a mountain (okay, what amounted to about two inches) of snow came down. It was the best kind of day; snowy, but at a perfect temperature for walking. I just got in from a brisk stroll.

But the snow was a non-event compared to news I got this morning from my colleague's husband: an extremely cold front is moving in, bringing in temperatures that haven't been seen here in at least a decade. Check out this graph, courtesy of theweathernetwork.com



The white line marks average temperatures. The yellow marks projected temperatures. It is well below the white line. We're heading into a week-long stretch of weather in the minus teens to minus twenties. That's the high minus single digits for you Americans.

There is no way I can properly prepare Miranda for that kind of weather, not with the resources available to me nor the resort restrictions on what can be done to the exterior of the rig. I can mostly only pray that the forecasts are extremely pessimistic.

My colleague's husband suggested I get a rigid PVC pipe in which to run my sewer hose so that it can be propped up at an angle. He even measured how much I would need. The first hardware store didn't have any pipes left in stock, but the second one did. Slight problem, though. I can fit up to 8' lengths in the car... but I needed 10'. I wound up sticking the extra length out of the passenger window. According to eye witness testimony, it looked like my car was equipped with a canon! LOL

When I got home, I unloaded the pipe and went in to have lunch. When I came out, my pipe was gone! On a hunch, I went around the rig and there was my pipe, all nicely installed by my colleague's very nice husband.

I went back in an installed insulation in the cab, which is already making a difference (!). Tomorrow, I need to work on the front door and get a new space heater since the first one I bought conked out on me (over use, perhaps?).

How I plan to ride out this wave of cold weather is to run both electric heaters on max AND have the furnace going. I will leave all cabinet doors and that to the bathroom open to let the warm air circulate.

I'm especially worried about my holding tanks. I'm going to call a few RV places tomorrow and see if they have the special heating pads.

What a mess. I feel like I'm in the movie The Day After Tomorrow!!!

In happier news, one of my best friends never ceases to amuse me. She sent me this:

RV Park Gouging

One of the most unpleasant realities of living in RV parks is the way in which owners gouge clients by creating 'extras' that are not built into the flat fee. There is one park that will not be named that charges $30 a month per child, for example.

Then, there's the park in Fort Langley that I was looking forward to going to. The rates were attractive, but I saw a note that there is a 2$ charge per pet per day. I was going to ignore that since my cats don't go outside, but then I realised that since they like to sit by a window, management would know I have pets. So, I emailed back to confirm that the pet fee wouldn't apply to pets that don't go outside. Nope. They wanted to charge me an extra 20$ per month for them!!!

I replied that this was ridiculous and that I won't be staying at their campground.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Boondocking and Shunpiking Resources

Have you ever heard of 'shunpiking'? I hadn't until I read Marianne Edwards three books about frugal boondocking and shunpiking through the southern US, appropriately called RV Travel Guides: The Frugal Shunpikers Guides To America:



I was very impressed by all three of these books, one each for New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. They detail suggested routes for touring these states, complete with boondocking spots along the way.

Of particular interest to Canadians is that fact that Marianne is a Canadian! I've heard great things about how cheap it is to boondock in New Mexico, but her book on the state is the only resource I've found that explains in detail how a Canadian can benefit from the New Mexico parks policy.

Complete with a comprehensive table of contents and index, maps, and pictures, these e-books are very professionally designed. My favourite part is the 'tips' sidebars.

The books will also appeal to campers (ie. tenters) as Marianne offers plenty of information for them, too.

In addition to boondocking information, she also offers suggestions for what to see and how to get there. In short, all three books about frugal shunpiking through the southern US are comprehensive tomes on how to get to the state and tour the state frugally while making sure that you see what needs to be seen.

Even though Marianne writes from years of experience on the subject, she still doesn't purport herself to be an expert on the subject, but rather makes it clear that the books are based on her family's experience. They therefore make good travelogues also, even if they are not written in that style.

As a bonus, if you buy all three books at once, you get the third for only $5 and you get a fourth bonus book, Basic Boondocking: A Frugal Shunpiker's Guide!



Marianne and her husband travel in a small class B camper van, so different from my spacious class C. I still found a lot of the information to be relevant to me. Ontario boondockers and snowbirds will benefit from reading the section about OHIP coverage. Two pictures in this book will sell you on the concept of boondocking and alone are worth getting this book. One shows the view when boondocking in the southern US, while the other shows the view when staying in a campground.

The holiday season will soon be upon us and I believe that RV Travel Guides: The Frugal Shunpikers Guides To America would make a fantastic gift for the RVer in your life or even the armchair traveler.

Endings and Beginnings

I was laid off from the nursery job today. I can't believe that I made it all the way to the end of this contract!!! It was a brutally hard time there, sometimes demeaning, always exhausting, but there was laughter and camaraderie, too. It reminded me that I'm not as soft or undisciplined as I think I am. I couldn't make a career of that particular job, but I think I could do manual labour for the long term, provided it's a position that's a better fit for me. I gained 10lbs of solid muscle and lost 5 inches on my waistline doing this job. It sure beat riding a desk for eight hours and then squeezing in an hour at the gym!

It seems that I won't be working the rest of December (EEP), but I'll keep looking for work until the 20th.

My options for January are:

1) Remain in Oliver if I find a good job and stay on at the resort as a guest;

2) Remain in the Okanagan... if I find a good job. I am waiting to hear from a ski resort near Vernon that advertised an appealing position;

3) Move the Vancouver area. I've found a park in Fort Langley (about 40 minutes from downtown Vancouver) with reasonable rates for January and February. I told them that I will confirm a reservation next week. So, I'm giving myself that long to find a job here. So... I think I'm going to Fort Langley next. :-)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Time for Departure

Weather permitting, I will be rolling out of Oliver on January 1st, 2009.

Next stop, who knows, but let's just hope there are good jobs there.

A World Made to Scale

This afternoon, a group from the resort including myself toured a couple of ski hills, three or four fairs, a zoo, a m*a*s*h, an army base, and several towns. We witnessed at least a half dozen accidents and someone getting arrested, explored a sunken ship, marveled at a mermaid, laughed at skinny dippers, and experienced two nights.

All this, and so much more, can be experienced at the Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad, Canada's largest Marklin-layout. The museum is a 3,500 square foot (and growing!) miniature Europe, featuring fantastic scenes and whimsical humour with, of course, model trains traveling through the various landscapes. It is well worth a detour to Osoyoos!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Playing With Dragons

Earlier this week, I decided to get away Friday night to, well, get away. I decided to go to Vernon, thinking it would be a quick drive as the city is just 155km north of Oliver.

Ha.

There have been road closures on highway 97 north of Summerland for months now and the situation is getting ridiculous seeing as that road is the only way to reach the north Okanagan without taking three times as long by using one of the 'detours.' Yesterday, I left Oliver at 1:15, figuring I would hit Summerland at 2, at the end of the scheduled 1 to 2 road closure, just squeeze in before the 2:30 closure and arrive in Vernon for about 3:30. Just as I entered Summerland, there came an announcement on the radio that the road would be closed until about 3:30. I finally pulled into Vernon at about 5:15, in the dark, and in freezing rain. Very relaxing. The four hours it took me to drive 155 kilometres doesn't beat the 9 hours it took me to drive from the Mexican border to north of Los Angeles (less than 200km), but it's pretty close.

At any rate, I sure was glad to get to the B&B I'd found via trusty old Google, Richmond House 1894. I'd called my hosts, Dinham and Kathy, to let them know I would be very late, so they were waiting for me when I arrived. Kathy lead me up to my room, the Tennyson, and showed me around the guest area. Richmond House is a beautifully appointed Victorian jewel with all the comforts of home. I had a specific reason for picking this B&B:



A sight for sore eyes for an RVer who loves a good soak!

Before the ultimate of all treats, I asked for some suggestions for dinner and Kathy was quick to suggest Sushi 1 on 30th Avenue. Not having had Japanese in way too long, I headed that way. Dinner, while not inexpensive, was fabulous! I went for the evening bento box special which had sashimi, shrimp rolls, tofu, tempura, teriyaki salmon, and more. Add a Sapporo beer and I just about rolled out of there, LOL! One thing I love about Japanese food is that you rarely know what you're eating, but just about everything is delicious. I easily recognized the salmon sashimi, but there was also some white fish I'd never had before. Both were equally delicious. Raw fish is not at all like cooked fish, it has a very delicate flavour and a 'melt-in-your-mouth' texture that is slightly gummy, but not slimy. When I started to eat fish voluntarily several years ago, I actually started with sashimi before 'graduating' to cooked fish. So, the bento box is a fabulous deal and I highly recommend Sushi 1 in Vernon!

Then, I had a much needed and well-timed soak as yesterday we moved 'mega' blocks weighing 25lbs to 30lbs each and my muscles were sore!

Sleep came easily in a luxuriously soft bed...

Breakfast this morning was the proverbial icing on the cake: fresh juice, excellent coffee, fruit compote with yoghurt, waffles with mounds of berries and whipped cream, two muffins, and a slice and a half of pumpkin loaf. I brought the muffins and loaf home as I was stuffed by the time they came out of the kitchen! The price for all this luxury is worth mentioning as I've paid more to stay in crappy motels with no amenities: 75$, taxes included.

It's really winter in Vernon, with snow, slush, and freezing rain, so I wasn't too tempted to tool around much this morning. I'd made a list of interesting-sounding attractions open on Saturday mornings and decided to visit the Okanagan Science Centre.

The museum is tiny and kid-oriented. At present, it is between exhibits, so there isn't really much to see. It was still worth a detour for me because of the reptiles!

First, though, I toured their astronomy section and really enjoyed the exhibit featuring a 'what if' scenario for someone stranded on the moon: your craft is damaged, there is stuff to fix it 100km away at a station, and these are the items available for your journey. Which five items will help you and which three will hinder you? I was surprised by some of the answers.

As I was heading out, a lady asked if I want to pet the one snake available for public touching, seeing as the others were digesting after being fed yesterday. Of course! The snake in question was a young (two year old) albino boa (making him cream and orange-coloured) and such a darling! The lady even let me hold him for a surprisingly long time. I love boas! After getting my fill of the boa, I was invited to take a look at the resident anaconda (a member of the boa family), not something I was about to turn down! To my delight, this wound up being a green anaconda, not a black one like I'd seen in San Francisco and Brandon. Her name is Bridget and she's a beauty, olive-skinned with black spots. Just as I thought the visit couldn't get any better, I was invited to hold one of the resident bearded dragons! I'd never in my life held such a critter before and it was quite the experience! He was a rolypoly fellow, with a huge tummy and a love of having the top of his head scratched. Anyone who thinks that a reptile can't show affection has never met Ralph the bearded dragon!

And that was the end of my over night trip to Vernon. The drive home was better, although I still hit an unscheduled 15 minute closure at Summerland.

When I left yesterday, I turned off the space heater, left the radiator on high and the furnace set to 60, hoping that this would keep Miranda's temperature at 16 even though we were set for another very cold night yesterday. I got in this afternoon and it was 16.5 in here. So, that's very useful information to file away for the next time I leave her overnight in cold weather.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Footwear

I've desperately needed some new footwear the past couple of weeks. The boots I bought in Val D'Or have been pretty much trashed by the nursery job (that's okay, I bought them for that sort of work!). I knew exactly what I wanted and have been looking for it for several years--a natural brown, short, non-lined, leather, vintage-style boot that would look good with both jeans and skirts, for those days that I don't feel like wearing the tall boots. I found a pair last year, but they only had sevens and I wear nines.

Today, I found them again. Not quite the same or as perfect as the ones last year, but close enough:



After doing all the high end footwear places, I found my dream boots at... Walmart. For 40 bucks. Yes, they are real leather.

I like that the top part of the boot has hooks rather than eyelets (like ice skates), so they're super easy to slip into and tie up, unlike my work boots which take way too long to get into (worth it for their comfort, though).

There's just something about new boots that makes feel all warm and fuzzy inside. :-)

A Slight Chill

We are currently in the throes of our first below freezing stretch. It's been going down to about minus five over night and we're hitting daily highs of about minus two. Even though I'm well acquainted with week-long stretches of minus thirty-fives, it's been a while and I'm finding these days very cold!

I'm pleased to report that Miranda is holding up very well. I can keep the study, the main part of the bathroom, and the lounge at a comfortable temperature. The kitchen, entrance, cab, upstairs bedroom, toilet room, all cabinets, and the basement stay chilly. For these prolonged periods of cold, I run the furnace through the night as it heats parts of the coach that the electric heaters can't reach. My holding tanks, water line, and sewer pipe all seem to be doing just fine.

Moisture and condensation have thus far only proven to be a problem in the bedroom. Yesterday, I discovered that a cushion that was lying against a window was mouldy. I threw it out and will now make it a habit to wipe the windows once a day. The bedroom being chilly isn't a problem. I like to sleep with a lot of blankets, so I'm nice and cozy, and when I get up, I immediately enter a warmer part of the rig, so I don't have a temperature shock.

I had a small heater for the toilet room, but it stopped working a few weeks ago. I finally made it to Penticton today and returned it, but there were no comparable replacement options. So, for now, I leave the toilet room door open overnight, but I will try to find another little heater as soon as I can. I still can't get over the fact that there is no furnace vent in that room!

Miranda continues to be the most comfortable home I have ever had the pleasure of living in.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Camp Hosting Tips

I've now been at my first camp hosting job for close to eight weeks. It is not going well.

Here are some tips on what should be done to avoid some of the issues I'm now facing:

1) Confirm the details of the arrangement before moving in and sign a written contract;

2) Make sure you and the manager agree on what constitutes hours that qualify towards the minimum expected to cover your rent (or whatever you're bartering for);

3) Get a bit of background on the people you will be working with (how long they've worked there, what they do, what their expectations are for temporary staff);

4) Don't allow them to make significant changes to the contract without a new contract being signed;

5) Don't assume that you and the manager speak the same language. Reiterate very instruction that you are told until you're sure you know exactly what s/he means;

6) Be aware of just how much value you are being given for the number of hours you put in. Camp hosting can turn out to not be cost effective;

7) Carefully evaluate the proposed schedule to ensure that it will not be damaging to your health.

Thrown For a Loop

One of my duties as guest activities coordinator is to manager three bulletin boards which I am to fill with material that could be of interest to our guests. Today, someone dropped off some interesting fliers from a nearby Buddhist temple about their weekly meditation retreats. I thought that could interest our guests, so I just about put them up when one of my colleagues stopped me and told me I needed to run that by our manager. His reasoning? The fliers are anti-Christian and Buddhism is a cult.

"No, it's not," I replied.
"It is," he insisted.
"Oh, I'm not getting into a religious argument."

I then left since I was so dumbfounded.

This is one thing about the west that I find very difficult; a lot of people I encounter are 'very' Christian and Conservative, the kind of people to whom you can't just say something 'liberal' without it being thrown in your face.

I made the decision quite some time ago not to argue religion with irrational people. It's one of the few places in my life where I have just about mastered pacifism.

But this situation irks me in that I don't feel that I should need to clear the inclusion of those posters on our board as it smacks of censorship. Of course, a lot of our guests are very Christian and Conservative westerners, so it's important to cater to them. *rolls eyes*

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Headin' for Oz

This morning, I awoke to find Miranda rocking back and forth. It was almost like being on a boat! So, I sure wasn't surprised when I stepped outside to find the wind gusting at about 30KPH. As we worked this morning in the greenhouses, their plastic coverings flapping ominously, I joked that if the house had wings we could take off. My surly (but sweet!) supervisor actually found that funny. Bitterly cold wind not withstanding, it's been a beautiful day with sun and a really odd sky colour. I believe it's called 'blue.'

As if the day wasn't surreal enough, we had that coup in Ottawa. I just can't believe that our politicians, who are of the talking, not acting, variety, conspired together to bring down the current government. Let's hope the Queen (via the Governor General, of course) signs off on the coalition!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Little Discussed Gem of the Class C

I've read a lot about Class C RVs. We owners of them are quick to extol their virtues. But there is one feature I've never seen discussed: the view from the overhead cab.

Think about it. Miranda is about 11' tall, not counting the air conditioner and antenna. So, when I'm lying in the cab, right up against the ceiling (since I have a particularly thick mattress), I'm pretty much sleeping at a height that is equivalent to the floor of a second story.

One of my favourite parts of the day is to peek through the curtains up there first thing in the morning and watch the sun rise or the rain fall. I get a long distance view right clear across the park and to the mountains. I've had gorgeous views (middle of nowhere Transcanada, Vérendrye Park), views that were okay (Cochrane, here), and views that sucked (Edmonton, any Walmart). What a treat it is to be able to survey my new home or check out the weather before even getting out of bed!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Snow! (sort of)

We got our first snowfall this morning! Okay, it didn't stick and quickly turned to rain, but the mountains, where it did stick, sure do look pretty!



Thursday, November 27, 2008

Winter, Is That You?

November 26th. No sign of snow, although we have plenty of pea-soup fog. Still warm enough out most days to just wear a sweater and fleecy coat (although I do pull out my winter coat when I do the gates at 11PM!). No need for boots. Only the odd bitterly cold wind betrays the fact that we're less than a month away from the official start of winter.

Tonight, we're going to reach the lowest temperature I have yet encountered while living in Miranda: minus five. I've got both heaters running full blast after running the furnace for a couple of hours. The heaters simply don't reach the farthest reaches of the rig, such as the back of the cabinets, but the furnace does. Miranda is now nice and toasty, so I should have a comfortable night.

As for the outside, I've got heat tape on my water hose, so I don't think it will freeze. I'm not worried about the holding tanks since they would need a stretch of several days below zero before freezing. It still rises to well above that during the day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Propane Is No Fun At All

I went back to Osoyoos yesterday afternoon and finally got the proper hose. I returned home, installed it, checked for leaks, then followed the instructions before trying to light my stove. It got a bit of gas, lit, then conked on. I tried this a couple of times, then went back out. My neighbour saw me poking around and asked me if I needed help. I walked him through the steps I had taken and he confirmed that I did everything perfectly. He said that there was probably a lot of air in the hose and to try to light the stove every couple of minutes until the flame took.

A couple of hours later, he came to see if my stove was firing up. Nope. So, he told me to close the valve on the auxiliary tank, turn on the stove to drain the last of the propane from the hose, and then open the tank sloooooowly so as to trick the flow-limiting valve.

That didn't help either.

But the flow-limiting valve was something I didn't know about. It's a safety feature that prevents a huge amount of propane from getting into your systems and becoming a fire hazard. I Googled that last night and found a suggestion that I simply shut off everything, remove the hose, reattach it, then reopen the tank valve sloooooooowly.

I did that and, this morning, I had a lot more propane coming to the stove, but it still wouldn't stay lit. Same thing this afternoon.

I decided to try to reset the system one last time before admitting defeat and conceding that I might have seriously screwed up my propane system. I closed the valve on the tank, unhooked the hose, rehooked, then just nudged the valve. For the first time, I hear a bit of a hiss. I waited until the noise stopped, then I slowly and evenly opened the valve the rest of the way. I could finally hear propane flowing!

My stove lit up fine and stayed lit for a couple of minutes, so the next step was the hot water heater. It fired up in one try. Woohoo!

Shower Snobbery

Having no hot water, I used a resort shower tonight. They're quite nice and very clean, definitely better than any shower I've ever had... except Miranda's!

Miranda's shower has several features that make her particularly luxurious to me:

1) The angled design means more width. I can stretch out and turn comfortably. It seems to be a more efficient use of square footage;

2) It has a door instead of a curtain which tends to flap around. I used to find such doors high maintenance until I discovered the squeegee! Now, I just squeegee the doors when I'm done and the doors stay sparkling clean;

3) Storage space!



The caddy has just enough room for all the things I use in a normal shower and there's even a little shelf for extras. I had never before seen a shower or bath with proper storage!

4) The shower head on a hose is very useful for accessing those difficult to reach parts of the body.

Ah, be it ever so humble, there's no place like home. :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fun With Propane (or Not)

I ran out of propane last night. *rereads that* Okay, that sounds bad. I did run out of propane, but this was calculated. I knew I was on the last dregs of the tank, and wanted to get right to the end so I could better estimate my usage for winter. By my calculations, I would be going through a full tank by February, so I'd need to fill up again. That would mean having to unhook everything twice in order to drive the two blocks round trip to the propane fill up station since no one delivers propane directly to motorhomes in this area! The other option was to rent a large tank, but the cost was insane and there was no way I would use every last drop of propane in that tank. So, I finally decided to use an Extend-A-Stay adapter to hook up an external, BBQ-type, propane tank to the rig.

I located one of these adapters in Osoyoos, about twenty-minutes south of Oliver. I finish at noon now at the nursery, so the plan was to drive down there, pick up the part, pick up a tank of propane, and then spend at most an hour installing everything. At the RV parts store, I asked the clerk if I had the right hose and he said I did. So, I went on to get propane. I found out that there is a taller, skinnier tank for motorhome use that holds 30lbs of propane.

By the time I got home, I'd already spend 210$.

I examined my tank and the instructions and suspected that I might not need to Extend-a-Stay, but that, either way, I didn't have the right hose.

So, back to Osoyoos I went where the clerk confirmed that I did need the Extend-a-Stay, but had the wrong hose. He sold me another one. 45$ more.

Got home and spent a brutally cold half hour installing the Extend-a-Stay. It was very hard because the fittings on the tank had never been taken apart, but I finally got it installed and then I went to install the hose.

It's still the wrong hose.

So, now I have to go all the way back to Osoyoos to get yet another hose, and I have no hot water or stove. Some people in my life will tell me that serves me right for waiting till the last minute to get my propane, but if the guy had sold me the correct hose, I would have been done by 2:30 this afternoon!!!

Tomorrow, I'm going to speak with a manager if there is one on site and see if they would be willing to give me the hose since my research tells me it should have been included in the cost the Extend-a-Stay anyway.

Oh, well, it was a good excuse to treat myself to dinner for the first time since I can remember (very unusual for me as I'm a restaurant fiend!) and now I get to try the resort's very nice (but not nearly as nice as Miranda's) shower. :)

So, What's a Grey Cup and Why Have a Party For It?

Today, I hosted a Grey Cup party in our new clubhouse. I had purchased English muffins and pizza sauce and invited guests to bring their favourite toppings. With everything that's been going on, I clean forgot to get my own toppings! Well, I needn't have worried as the guests were all insistent that I partake of whatever goodies they brought from pastries to mozzarella to some wine that could just about convert me from beer (just about).

I'm not into football at all. The closest I've ever really come to the sport was playing rugby on snowshoes in high school. So, I really dreaded spending three or four hours hosting this party, but the conversation was good, and the handful of guests who showed up really got in the spirit of things making me feel much more appreciated than I have in the past couple of weeks. One guest in particular was very chilly the first time I met her and now she has just about adopted me, much to my amusement.

So, Calgary 22, Montreal 14. BOO.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Writing

I've always enjoyed writing. There was even a time when I would have considered the hobby a passion. After years of writing huge papers on topics that didn't interest me, I forgot about how much fun it is to write about something that does interest me, like RVing. Which is when I finally clued in to what I want to be when I don't grow up: a full-time RVer earning a living through her writings! Others do it, why not me? Lightbulb on!

I also realised that I'm in the perfect place to actually focus on going about this--rent is taken care of, but I've got the other bills to pay and jobs are scarce. It's good motivation to take a few risks and pen a few words.

I'll let you in on a little secret: I'm already making money from my RV writings. The amounts are jokes (I'll admit to averaging 2 cents per day with one revenue source, LOL!), but they don't have to be. It's time that I be a bit more open about my intentions for this blog and how my readers can help me realise my dream, and this without spending any money.

While Travels With Miranda, both the blog and the website, will always offer free content, I'm no longer going to shy away from pointing out ways in which readers can support Travels so that I can continue to provide new and interesting reading material. I'm pretty sure that tales of travel to such exotic locations as the Walmarts of northern Ontario are much more interesting to read about than complaints about work (they're definitely much more interesting to write about!).

The easiest way to help support this blog is to click on an ad in the sidebar each time you visit, but if you want to outlay some money, directly or not, I've detailed other ways of offering support on the website.

Many thanks to 50 or so unique visitors to this blog every single day. This number grows each week, and makes me believe that I'm not writing to the wind and that my dream is achievable!

and Kabooms

Making tea this evening, I was presented with a reason why some people could be put off from cooking on an RV stove. I face this reason regularly, but tonight it was particularly spectacular.

When I light a burner, I turn on the gas to lite/hi and then turn the sparker. Said sparker has been acting up again as the knob is loose. After three tries, I gave up and reached for the lighter.

Of course, a bit of propane had accumulated by this time, so there was an impressive explosion when I lit the burner. This happens occasionally and it doesn't faze me as I'm used to cooking with propane.

I wasn't ten years ago, however, and as I made tea tonight, I was transported back to Aviemore, Scotland, on June 15th, 1998. It was a cold and wet Monday night and I was craving soup. As I was doing the youth hostel circuit, I'd been lugging groceries and making my meals, but this was my first time encountering a gas stove that needed to be lit with matches. I put on quite a show for my fellow hostelers, what with my startled scream and falling on my butt. Ah, my first KABOOM. It was unforgettable.

Kablooeies

Ah. Every time I get smug about some RVing aspect or another, I make a goof that gives me a good dose of humility!

I've been running two heaters on my 30A without any issue. I can even run the microwave when the two are going.

This morning, I decided to vacuum the coach (I must be coming down with something). Only one heater was plugged in, so I decided that I was okay to run the vacuum. Why bother pulling out the manual to see how many amps it draws. It can't possibly run more amps than a microwave and two space heaters combined, right?

I'm just glad that I blew a breaker, not a fuse.

For the record, I use a Black & Decker HV9010P Retriever Pet-Series Cyclonic-Action Corded Dustbuster and Blower that works very well... and draws 6.25AMPs. Add that to the 12.5A drawn by the space heater we're already at 19, and then add the computer and, waitaminute, we're still nowhere near 30A.

Which brings me to the second thing I learned: the outlet above the bed in the backroom and the outlet above the fridge in the kitchen are on the same circuit, which my 19A apparently overloaded. Hence the kablooey.

There's never a dull day when you're RVing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Swampin'

A little work update...

This week at the nursery has been okay so far. Half days there really suits me. Did I mention that I'm on half days there now? Probably not. The reasons have nothing to do with the nursery. More on that below.

Monday and today, I was swamping. Best I can figure, this job was so named because it is cold, wet, and unpleasant. I'd previously done this job, but it was much more acceptable this week. What it entails is bending down to pick up 20lb boxes of trees from slats, passing them to someone down a line, then loading them onto a trailer. Repeat ad nauseum (99 boxes of trees on the slats, 99 boxes of trees! Pick one up, pass it around, 98 boxes of trees on the slats!). I had a really good crew Monday and today, all ladies who go at my pace and have comparable strength, so it was not strenuous like the time I did it with the crew of three men. In fact, if I could have this crew all the time, I would prefer to do this job until my last day. The work is positively mindless and it's easy to zone out, so time flies by.

Yesterday, I was put on the packing line, something I've decided I was just not born to do. I have very little manual dexterity and small hands, which means that I can either work fast or I can work neat, I can't do both. Until 11, I was put on a slower line and was able to keep up fine, but then I was put on a faster one for my last hour. The supervisor only got one chance to get on my case since I told her that I know I have no business being on the line and that if she doesn't like my being there, she should take it up with her supervisor. HMPH.

When I started there, I was told the job would run till about December 15th and now I'm hearing December 22nd. There's no way I'm staying there that long. Tomorrow afternoon, I'll be going back down to the employment office to see if there's anything else I could be doing. I can't believe that on Friday I will have been there for four full weeks!!!

As for The Other Job, if this camp hosting position is typical, then I am never camp hosting again. I've written and rewritten and re-rewritten posts on this subject, but I can't find the right balance between pure emotion and objective reporting. Let's just say when I was hired the manager knew that I'm not retired.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Baking

I don't know why people make such a fuss about baking in an RV oven. It's really not that different from baking in an electric oven. Sure, it's a bit more difficult to gauge the temperature with gas than with electric, but you can get pretty close and then use visual and olfactory clues to tell you when the food is done.

Today being Sunday, we're having a social and the theme is 'afternoon tea' (because, as the guest activities coordinator, I said so *g*). I'm bringing fresh baked tea biscuits and jam:



I make two kinds of biscuits. One is a camping recipe that requires a minimal amount of prep work and then there is this one that requires kneading and rolling out, always a fun activity in a tiny kitchen with no counter space. I wound up just using the top of the stove, with the covering board laid on top of it. I suppose I could have used the dinette, but I try to restrict my messy kitchen activities to the kitchen area... which is really quite a farce in an RV. :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Better Days I've Known...

It's a good thing that today is a stat and that the nursery is closed, otherwise I would have quit last night.

Yesterday morning was fine. The afternoon, however, was a nightmare. We changed tree types and bundle specifications. I was just getting the hang of making bundles of ten trees and was just about able to keep up the pace. Bundles of fifteen trees require a different pattern and the trees are a lot bigger, so I can't pick them up with one hand. As the afternoon progressed, I got more and more behind and the line supervisor yelled my name more and more, sometimes across the harvest room, and more shrilly every time. It was humiliating. I was obviously doing the best I could, was obviously painfully aware of how inadequate I was, and obviously trying to master in one afternoon a skill the line manager had been working on for years. The 80$ I made yesterday was definitely not worth being belittled like that.

We'll see how things go tomorrow. I suspect I won't be put on a line again. If I am and I get yelled at just one time, I'll be advising the production manager that I won't be back on Thursday.

*scans the 'want ads' hopefully*

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Social

Every Sunday afternoon, we have a 'social' here at the park. Everyone brings in a light(ish) snack and we gab for a few hours. For someone on a tight budget, it's a really good investment: spend about 5$ on a snack and come home stuffed to the gills! :-D

It's a nice way to get to know everyone. Last week, I really did not enjoy myself until the last half hour or so because everyone was talking about retirement and their grand-kids, so there were no conversations to join. Today, I knew a lot more people and they came to talk to me about Quebec, what I do in the park, their jobs, their kids etc. Since I wasn't 'on duty' today, I had planned to pop in for an hour at the most, but ended up staying till the end.

Last week, I brought in a large plate full of brownies (store bought) and went home with most of them. So, today I came with a very small quantity of Nanaimo bars. Lo and behold, it was the favourite dessert of half the people there! I should have known that they're a BC-favourite based on their name! The manager came with BC crab dip and another had a BC salmon dip. Mmm! This really is the promised land!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Similkameen Valley

I thought of spending the day doing the loop from Oliver to Osoyoos to Keremeos to Penticton to Oliver, but the crummy weather and pea soup fog deterred me. I wound up turning towards home soon as I hit Keremeos and taking a shortcut back. You can visit the site for my pics of the gorgeous Similkameen Valley, but let me warn you that this is my most boring travel post ever. Except for the second to last picture of the set....

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Not So Trivial... and Trivial

Not So Trivial

Congratulations to the 52% of Americans who voted for change and a president who won't embarrass them. I love the fact that Bush's successor's middle name is... Hussein.

A comparable win in Canada would be by a Native American Neo-Democrat... and we're so far from that in terms of how the Natives are still viewed and treated here that I know that won't happen in my lifetime.

But shame, SHAME on those voters in California that de-legalized gay marriage. Electing a black president and taking a giant step back for gay rights cancel each other out. The US doesn't come off as being any more enlightened than it was before Obama became the president elect. :-(

Trivial

The nursery job was much better for a couple of days as I was, temporarily, 'promoted' to full-time line worker. Wrapping and bundling are much easier now and I'm now learning how to do sorting, which is my favourite task. Sorting is essentially quality controlling the trees and picking out the ones that should not be sent to the customers. I love doing this and can do it for hours on end without feeling bored. Unfortunately, all line workers need to rotate the jobs, so I can't sort all day. Yesterday I got to sort for the longest shift of the day (2.5 hours straight), so the day went by rather quickly. Today, I was really disappointed when I was sent back to box duty first thing in the morning. I got a bit of a reprieve for an hour or so to haul blocks, but then had to go back to boxes. The morning was interminable! I was so happy this afternoon when I was sent to a line to bundle and wrap.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Still Slavin' Away

I've now started my second week at the nursery. Between that and the park, I really don't have any spare energy for things like blogging or updating my site. :-(

My only day off last week was Saturday. I did my laundry and cleaned the rig, then decided that I'd earned a bit of fun. So, I drove to Penticton for a movie, dinner, and bigger grocery selection. The latter is important when you need to have a lunch every day! And quite the lunch, too. A basic PB and J with juice and an apple isn't enough. I need snacks for both AM and PM and a hearty lunch because this job works up an appetite!

Sunday, we had our first social at the park (potluck) and I got to meet some of the neighbours, including someone who is just ten years older than me. Today, I met another woman who is close to my age. I have a feeling we'll all be seeing each other socially this winter. :-)

The nursery job continues to be mind numbingly dull. On Thursday, I got sent outside for the afternoon in a show of very bad management. I was put on a line with four guys. My job was to accept a 10-12lb box of trees from one guy and pass it to the next guy in the line. I kept up, but barely. On Friday, I was told to report to the fields and I said no. The shift supervisor was a bit taken aback by that, but I don't care. I don't want to completely burn myself out, thank you kindly. So, I got put on the assembly line, learning to bundle trees (tougher than it looks) and wrap the bundles. This was okay, but I really didn't like being rushed. So, by Friday I knew that box making up duty really is the best job there, as the boxing supervisor had confided in me earlier in the week.

And that's what I did today, make up boxes. For eight hours straight, until I couldn't feel my thumbs anymore. I was grateful to be indoors because it has been raining non-stop for days now and will for the foreseeable future (with perhaps a break on Wednesday).

For this year on the road, I'd promised myself one month at a low-paying and physically exerting job. Once I'm through at the nursery, either from finding something else that would take me through to spring, or from being laid off at the end of the contract, I want something that pays more an hour so I can work fewer hours. My current schedule is insane! That said, I'm going to be quite buff again by the time I'm through working there. :-)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Slavin' Away

Whew. The nursery job is better for the body than a pilates workout... except that you don't get a day of rest between workouts. I'm so stiff that I couldn't even bend over to untie my bootlaces this afternoon!

As I expected, the days are very long and the work is mind-numbingly boring. I can't believe that I am paid 10$ an hour to do such exciting things as:

-line cardboard boxes with plastic bags;
-make up boxes (take box folded flat off the pallet, open it up, bend the end flaps);
-take styrofoam trays that come out of the washing tunnel, flip them, and stack them seven high (while trying to drip as little disgusting water on yourself as you can);
-take styrofoam trays coming off the assembly line, flip them, bang them really hard to get the dirt and leftover trees out, and send them on their merry way to the washing tunnel (my favourite job so far: my blue jeans were earthy brown in about ten minutes of this!)

Being a 'newbie', I get all the grunt work, of course! That said, being a 'spare' isn't so bad as I have been able to do several things during the two days I've been there, rather than specializing.

To think that I once had a job where I was paid minimum wage (then just a bit above) to supervise staff, work with customers, perform rescues, do the bookkeeping at the end of my shift, etc. Or how about the job where I was paid 9 bucks an hour to freeze outside during interminably long shifts in isolated parking lots in the dead of winter?! I was such a SUCKER!!! LOL!!!

I doubt I could do much more than five or six weeks at this sort of job, but I think that I'm going to settle into it and come to look back on it fondly. After having jobs where I had to be present for so long, it's nice to just coast along and have no real responsibility.

Most of the other workers are Greek or Indian and I don't think there is a native English speaker among us!!! When I'm on tray washing duty, I have to communicate in sign language with my team mate. Our favourite sign is the smile, which means everything from 'thank you' to 'would you PLEASE speed up?!', with the eyes conveying the nuance of meaning. :-)

I've decided to be reclusive in this job. I'm cheerful and engage in conversation when directly addressed, but otherwise just go about quietly with my work. I take my breaks in almost absolute silence. Those who know me are laughing right now trying to visualize me not talking. It's just not a job where you can gab and get to know your colleagues, and most of them have been there so long that there are established cliques in the lunchrooms. I'm not going to be there long enough to make it worth my while to try to break into one of them.

Speaking of breaks, we get three. We start at 7AM and break from 9:30 to 9:45. Lunch is from 12 to 12:30. Afternoon break is at 2:00 and we go home at 3:30. I like this spacing of breaks. The morning is interminably long, but the afternoon speeds by. Yesterday, I brought a granola bar for a morning snack and some bread and cheese with juice for lunch. I learned my lesson. Today, I had granola bars for both my snacks, with crudités, soup, bread, and juice for lunch. It still wasn't enough. I forgot that these kind of jobs eat up a lot of calories!

I found out from a colleague here at the park that the retail people pretty much lied to me. As it turns out, they wanted me for grunt work (setting up the store) until December and then possibly for a cashier position starting in December. So, it pretty much amounts to what I'm doing at the nursery and I wouldn't be paid as well or have as good conditions (the nursery being unionized means everyone is treated fairly). I definitely made the right choice!!!

As we slowly settle into 'winter' (and I use the term loosely), I already find myself dreaming of spring and the open road. I pretty much know where I'm going next, unless something else comes up, so I'm trying to focus on being here right now and finding as much joy as I can in days when I get up at 6:10AM and work straight through to 11PM. I'm exhausted, but surprised to find that I am not malcontent. I am happy with the choices I made, and while life isn't as sweet or easy now as it was a few weeks ago, it will be again very soon. I can find a measure of contentment in doing a real day's worth of work. With each tray I handle, I remind myself that it once held a seedling that will soon be planted to replace a tree that was logged. So, while my job might now seem insignificant compared to the one I left behind, I know it is much, much more important.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mother Nature Fights Back!

Highway 97 between Summerland and Kelowna is closed indefinitely because of a threat of a landslide. This is an area that has been dynamited extensively in the last few months as the government is trying to widen the road. *rolls eyes*

For someone in Osoyoos or Oliver, the detour isn't monstrous. You have to take roads 33 and 3, the road I took when I came back from Kelowna last week. That road takes about 2.5 hours vs. the 1.5 on the 97. Those in Penticton, though, must be peeved: their detour is about TWO hours long!

I can't even begin to imagine the impact on the economy if this had happened at the height of the tourist season.

Assumptions

There are a lot of things pet owners should not assume. One of them is that just because you cleaned the kitchen table after breakfast it's clean enough to eat lunch at (after removing all the junk you piled onto it, of course):



Mr. Neelix is just enjoying all the lovely heat from that radiator since Ms. Tabitha is hogging the most sun-heated spot in the rig.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Feeling a Desperate Need to Rub It In

It's sunny out. About 17 degrees. Tee-shirt and sandal weather. Bwa ha ha.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Three Rs

Reading

I've been spending the bulk of my 'on duty' hours in the evenings sitting in the front room. This is so I can see who comes in after hours and greet them without their having to come knock on my door. The other after hours host is right in the entrance, so she can be anywhere in her coach and see who has arrived. I'm worried that I'll be asked to move Miranda since one day new arrivals had to knock at my door (I got caught in the bathroom, but what proof of that do I have?!). So, anyway, there isn't much to do in the front room other than reading. I've therefore been going through books at a speed I haven't since high school. The day before yesterday, the other after hours host caught me raiding the bookshelf in the laundry room and informed me that the Oliver library gives cards to RVers wintering in the area! I went there yesterday and had no problem getting my card! They have a decent collection for such a small library, including a teeny French section that held the most recent book by my favourite author, Arlette Cousture! I came out with a pile (okay, seven) books; some novels and some non-fiction, including a pictorial history of Cary Grant. WOOHOO!

Writing

Sunday morning, I have to write up my first newsletter as Guests Activities Coordinator. This is the part of my job description I'm lukewarm about. I'm not convinced that a twenty-something year old is the right person to figure out things for retirees to do. Hopefully, I'll find enough inspiration in previous years' activities folders to satisfy the requirements of the position.

Arithmetic

I was at Walmart this morning looking for two more heaters: a teeny, inexpensive one for the toilet room and a larger oil-filled one for the main room (recommendation from the other after hours host who has been here for a year). Croft brilliantly suggested that I plug one of my heaters into the 15A receptacle on the my pedestal, so I just had to make sure that the oil filled heater wasn't going to be more than 15A. A lot of heaters I've looked at had the wattage printed right on the box, but not this one. So, I had to completely unpack it to get to the manual at the bottom of the box (who packs these things?!). I got some strange looks from other customers, but no one from Walmart bugged me. The heater wound up having a wattage of 600 to 1500, or 5 to 12.5A. So, it would be fine on the 15A circuit. Now, the second heater. My current heater uses 12.5A. My iMac uses 1A. That leaves me 17A. The little heater I bought has a wattage of 900 to 1500, or 7.5 to 12.5A. Obviously, I'll need to leave that one on the minimum setting, but that still leaves me with 9A for operating anything else; enough, but not so much that I'll be able to turn on 'anything else' without thinking about it (note to self, unplug a heater before running the vacuum cleaner or printer!!). As I was figuring all of this out at Walmart, I kept flashing to the scene in 'Apollo 13' where the Gary Sinise character is trying to figure out how to reduce power consumption on the crippled ship. I finally understand what that scene is all about now. :-)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It Doesn't Rain But It Pours!

Geeze! I had no sooner finished signing the hiring papers for a job when my cell phone rang. I ignored it, of course, and checked my messages a few minutes later. It was another job offer!

I really had to think things over because it wasn't obvious at first glance which job I should take.

Job no. 1:

  • A position at a tree nursery;
  • 7 to 3:30 Monday to Friday (OUCH. I'm already up at 6:30 because of the gates, but I can't go to bed before 11 because of the gates.);
  • Repetitive physical labour;
  • Better than minimum wage, but unionized, so I'd have to work a day and a half just to pay the sign up fees for the union, plus 35 bucks per month;
  • Eight week contract.

    Job no. 2:

  • A retail position;
  • 8:30 to 4:30 Monday to Friday (still OUCH because there would be no sense going back to bed at 6:30 if I have to get up an hour later!);
  • Repetitive work (cashier);
  • Minimum wage;
  • Work guaranteed till spring.

    The 'old' me would have went back to Job no. 1 and said 'Sorry, something else came up' and gone for Job no. 2.

    The 'new' me is trying to get away from work that is in line with her university degree and any work that is irrelevant to her studies, and back towards work that is is in line with her college diploma. Working at a nursery plus at an RV park? Completely, 100% in line with my diploma.

    So, I'm going to try the nursery job. I did tell the retail shop that I would appreciate their holding my resumé since I'll be back in this same position in eight weeks.

    I start Monday.

    Oh, and both positions are equi-distance from home. The retail job is 1km north and the nursery job is 1km south. So, neither would have required driving.
  • Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    Stuck

    Well, I installed my heat tape today and it would be a pain to remove the water hose now, so it looks like I'm settled in for the winter. :-S

    First step to installing the heat tape was to cut The Hose From Hell down to a six foot length. I didn't mind doing that since it's thus far been a) too long and b) leaky. I was just about to cut the hose when my neighbour startled me:

    Neighbour: How are you going to attach that hose if you cut it?!

    Me (holding up a threaded hose connector): With this.

    Neighbour: But your hose is going to leak...

    Me (holding up hose tighteners): Nope, I've got these.

    Neighbour: Oh... How're you doing for tools?

    Me (holding up sizable tool chest): Not a problem.

    Neighbour: Oh. Um, your foam tubing looks like it might be too short.

    Me: Yeah, I need to go pick up some more.

    Neighbour: Just a sec! *rummages through basement and emerges with a length of foam tubing* Would this be enough?

    Me: Perfect! Thank you so much!

    LOL!!! I'm so glad I found a way for him to help me!

    We had a gorgeous day here today, hot enough for me to putter around the rig in just a tee-shirt. But 'they' are announcing a below zero night, so I figured it was time to get the heat tape in, even though I've already weathered such nights without it in. The foam is installed in my overhead hatches, so all that's left are the windows and door weather stripping and plastic.

    Today, I learned how to read our electric metres. I was advised that my electricity would be paid so long as it is comparable to the average consumption and thus far it is (and is at the lower end). This is very good news! I just hope that adding a second heater won't change those numbers too much. Then again, I won't be the only person heating more, so it shouldn't.

    Job hunting continues to suck. I went to the employment office today and got some leads, one of which I'm really excited about. Hopefully, something will come of that one.

    I've been asked why I don't just move to Victoria or Vancouver, even Kelowna, where I could get a really good paying job that would pay the rent and the bills. There are lots of reasons I'd rather not do that:

    1) The work I'm doing to cover my rent here doesn't really qualify as 'work' in my book. Plus, I can do most of it from home. I'm at work right now, finishing dinner, and keeping an ear out for the office phone (which I bring home with me) and the front gate for late arrivals;

    2) The weather is a big factor in wanting to stay put. I've endured a lot of winters in a bad climate with inadequate housing. I've earned a reprieve;

    3) I want this camp hosting experience. Now that I have it (and can keep up my good work to earn a good recommendation), I'll be able to start sending out resumés to the Yukon in anticipation of the summer season. I'll have a much better chance of finding something before I arrive than if I had no camp hosting experience at all.

    I'm not desperate for work yet, but will be revising my situation in four weeks.

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    The Little Things

    This morning was my first time opening the office by myself. I was a bit nervous. What if my key jammed in the lock again? What if I had a hard time disarming the alarm system? What if I couldn't get the safe open?

    Well, the opening went really well, except for one thing I would never have thought to worry about:

    The coffeemaker.

    First person in the office has to prepare coffee for staff and guests (yes, free GOOD coffee is another perk here!).

    When I make coffee in an automatic machine, I take these steps:

    -put water in machine;
    -put empty carafe on burner;
    -put filter in basket;
    -put coffee in filter;
    -install basket in machine;
    -turn on machine

    Well, our machine here is, well, not one whose operation I am familiar with.

    I put water in the machine. So far, so good, right?

    I didn't realise that putting water in the machine would start it.

    Hot water began to pour out.

    I placed a carafe on the burner only to realise that I was being pelted by jets of hot water, not a stream, and they weren't hitting the carafe.

    With no way (that I know of) to stop the hot water, I held the carafe up to the source of the hot water and jammed styrofoam cups under it to hold it.

    While waiting for the carafe to collect all the water, I mopped up the flood.

    That done, I put a filter in the basket, put coffee in the basket, and put the filter in the machine.

    Then I filled the carafe with water and poured the water in the machine.

    Can you see where I'm going with this?

    Yup, I should have placed the second, empty, carafe, under the basket.

    Because the machine was now raining coffee. At least, it was in a steady stream, not several jets. In the nano seconds before I managed to get a carafe under the stream, there was enough time for a river of coffee to escape, run down the side of the machine, traverse the whole width of the table, and drip down to make a nice puddle on the floor.

    I mopped up really well, had my first cup of (much needed) joe, and got to endure quite a few pokes about the smell of burnt coffee (from what had accumulated on the hot burner) in the office all morning.

    Maybe I should have my first cup of coffee at home the mornings I open the office!

    Sartorial Reprieve

    While in Kelowna yesterday, I stopped at Value Village as I have occasionally had luck finding scarves there and came out with a half dozen! Woohoo! A few were of a nice silky material, so a bit dressier for work, although they are so slippery I'll need to hold them with barrettes.

    Today, I wore comfortable jeans and an old top, but my bright blue scarf made me feel like I had a new outfit!

    I washed them all yesterday in my Wonder Wash (setting it up in the shower) and got evidence of just why I feel gross whenever I leave Value Village: it took five rinses before the water ran clear. The scarves were filthy. Ew.

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    Highway 33

    I've been out of 'tourist mode' since settling for the winter since I haven't had any money come in. So, I decided that today being the gorgeous day that it was, I would take a mini-road trip to Kelowna and turn it into an adventure by taking highway 33 back, effectively doing a full circle. It would be quite the detour, but a chance to see more of the splendid Okanagan Valley.

    First stop in Kelowna was an oil change, then I was off to the Okanagan Heritage Museum. I'm glad that admission was by donation because I was quite disappointed. The museum is tiny! I started by taking a tour of a temporary exhibit about the KGH: Kelowna General Hospital. Then it took about five minutes to go through the rest of the museum. It was an interesting hodgepodge of artifacts from around the world, most of it not immediately relevant to Kelowna. Worth stopping in if you're in Kelowna, but definitely not worth a detour. I walked around the Marina a bit, had lunch, went to Value Village, and then headed home.

    Highway 33 wound up being positively breath taking, a world of valleys and peaks unto itself. The most memorable part of the drive was the section of switchbacks that led me down into Osoyoos.

    Go to the website for pictures (direct link).

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Sour Cream Pesto Chicken

    I was looking for a tasty new way to prepare chicken breasts when I stumbled onto a fussy recipe that inspired me.

    Simply mix four tablespoons of prepared pesto with four tablespoons of sour cream. Marinate two chicken breasts in this mixture, then bake at about 375F until cooked through. As an added touch, sauté the breasts in a non-stick frying pan for a few minutes to give them a lovely brown coating. The result is very flavourful, moist, and tender.

    I served this chicken with homemade biscuits (leftover from lunch) and a tossed salad.

    Tomorrow, I'll make a sandwich of the second breast (thinly sliced) with tomato on a panini bun.

    TWM: The Website!

    Whew. After several weeks of playing with templates, conceding that I simply needed to bite the bullet and reacquaint myself with HTML, working with iPhoto, and getting a crash course in CSS from Andy Baird (thanks, Andy!), my dream of creating a website about my journey has been realised!

    Please visit the Travels With Miranda website at travelswithmiranda.uskeba.ca.

    The blog is a great way to share my story, but it's not a suitable medium for keeping track of vasts amount of information.

    The site is still very much under construction, but I do have some goodies on there which you won't find in the blog: many, many more pictures about my travels. So far, I have ALL my Banff and ALL my Kananaskis country pictures up. You'll also find some more in depth information about Miranda and the great big makeover.

    In the coming weeks, I'll be adding more travel photographs, a page about full-time RVing for Canadians, and much more.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Settled In

    Last night was my first evening working on my own. I got one drive in and one late check in on a reservation. Both scenarios had twists that hadn't come up in training, but I apparently handled everything fine. Since it was election night, I spent a couple of hours in the lounge watching the results trickle in. I'm allowed to crash on the couch in the unoccupied staff house, but to me it makes more sense to do so in the office where I can see people coming in. At any rate, watching tv is such a 'once in a blue moon' type of event that the issue is unlikely to crop up again this winter (unless our government falls again, of course).

    Today, I got caught up on my laundry. Boy is it nice to have access to FREE laundry facilities!!! The laundry room in the staff house is right at an exterior door that faces my front door. I probably have less far to go to get to the washing machine here than I did at my last house!

    Tomorrow is my first of three days off, so no getting up at 6:30. Yaaaay! I'll take Miranda out for propane (so much work to go two blocks round trip, *sighs*, and then get to work installing heat tape.

    I bought a little space heater at Canadian Tire and it's managed to keep the heat in here at a cozy 20 today and 18 last night all by itself. So, I think that if I add a second one, I won't need to use the furnace at all this winter, avoiding the propane tank rental fees. I wish I had a better idea of just how much propane I will need this winter so I can know if it's worth getting the tank or if I should just put up with the hassle of taking Miranda out a few times. No, propane delivery to my tank is not an option; the company that does propane in this area only fills its own tanks. :-(

    I have a job interview tomorrow afternoon with A&W, a fast food chain, hopefully for the cashier position. Minimum wage in BC is pathetic, so there is no way I could make enough on part-time hours there. So, if I get an offer, I'll probably have to consider full-time hours, unless I get a surprise and am offered a supervisor position with better pay. Or better pay, period. At any rate, any employment would be welcome right now; if something better comes along later I can always quit. I do very much like the fact that A&W is walking distance from home and right next to the supermarket.

    Tonight has been very quiet. It's nice to be 'on duty' and earning my keep, but still able to sit at home with a movie and a top secret project pertaining to the blog. I really enjoy cashing out; it's been a long time since I've had the pleasure of using a calculator and doing basic bookkeeping (other than my own, of course).

    Once I have money coming in again and know what my full schedule will be like, I'm going to start taking off on short trips in the toad. It doesn't make sense to pay gas and campground fees for Miranda when it won't cost anything to leave her here and a motel would be much cheaper for an overnight (or two).

    I still can't believe that I'm here and that other than the grape picking not happening, my winter is so far progressing pretty much as predicted.

    Sartorial Difficulties

    One of the choices I made when I entered my new life was to give up wigs and start wearing head scarves instead. I had a (small) boxful, so I figured I had enough. But, as the weeks have progressed, I'm finding myself wearing the same few outfits over and over again because I don't have scarves to match the other items in my wardrobe!

    I can't believe how difficult it is to find square scarves that can be folded into a triangle of a suitable size. I'm going to have to take my search online.

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    Dinner Out of Nowhere

    I need to go grocery shopping again, but haven't had time because of my work schedule here. So, for dinner tonight I fathomed I'd wind up eating a potato with some cheese. But, I thought I should rummage through the freezer first. I couldn't believe:

    a) what I found;
    b) that I forgot about it;
    c) that my freezer is huge enough to lose something in it.

    I found...

    A big, beautiful, yummy salmon fillet! I bought a huge fillet some time ago, cut it in half, and froze the portion I wasn't going to eat straight away.

    Thirty minutes later, I tucked into a meal of roasted potatoes, grilled salmon, green beans, and corn.

    I found the green beans in the freezer. They weren't lost, I just forgot about them. :-)

    Settling In and Training

    I don't feel it would be appropriate to give too many details about my hosting job or my colleagues, but I'll at least give a taste of what I've been up to.

    Yesterday, I trained in the office for a full day. It's been quiet, so I didn't really learn a lot. Therefore, I was asked to come back in for a few hours today. So, I did the afternoon. I'm learning how to check in guests, use the computer system and cash register, and otherwise see how things are done here.

    Mornings, I get up and open the gate at 6:30 and I close them again at 11 at night. This is quite brutal if I need to be up and at 'em like I did yesterday. I went back to bed after doing the gates and had to get up again at 8. Next time, I'll stay up. But this morning I was able to go back to sleep for as long as I needed, so I felt fine.

    Last night, I learned how to cash out for the day and I'll be doing that again tonight with supervision. Tomorrow, I should get my keys and then do this on my own from then on. I imagine that starting next week I'll be expected to do my full duties in the evening, which is when I know I'll really start to learn things. :-)

    Life here has thus far been quite pleasant and I feel that my privacy and personal schedule are respected even though I'm right on site.

    I sent out a few more resumés over the weekend after checking out the local newspaper, so hopefully I'll be able to start paying work soon. Today being Thanksgiving, I didn't think there was a point of going into town to hand out more resumés.