"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."

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.


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


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!


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.


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


    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.

    Saturday, October 11, 2008

    Fiskars Quilting Set

    One of the things I desperately need to do is line my bedroom curtains with blackout material. Thing is, I hate sewing, especially the part where I have to cut the fabric. I can't cut straight; it has something to do with the fact that I'm sort of ambidextrous.

    My mother has a self-healing cutting board and rotary cutter which make the prep part of sewing work a snap, so I thought that perhaps I could get these items for my curtain project. I was at Walmart today and found the same kit she has. It's currently packaged as a 'quilting set', but I think that's just because of current trends. The package has the rotary cutter, the self-healing mat, and an acrylic ruler. The package usually costs about 40$. The one I found was marked down to 20$ because the ruler is broken. What a bargain!

    The mat and cutter can be used for other projects, like cutting paper, so they are multi-use tools and they won't take up a ton of room.

    Okay, let the curtain work begin. :-S

    Heating and Work

    I woke up this morning to find my propane levels had apparently dropped dramatically overnight, according to Miranda's useless sensors. So, I have anywhere from one day to one week's left of propane (hence the word useless). I noticed that one of my neighbours has a huge tank hooked up to their coach. So, I spoke to the manager about propane delivery and she said that someone is coming by on Tuesday, Monday being Thanksgiving, and that I could get an account set up then for a propane tank rental. However, it could be up to two weeks before I could get a tank hooked up and filled! This is because they have to run a credit check on all customers because of the rental equipment.

    The manager repeated that I should get electric heaters and confirmed that I am unmetred (unless I get crazy with my electric consumption). I am going to get heaters, but I just don't feel that they would be as good for coach-wide heating as the furnace is. It makes more sense to me to use the furnace to maintain a general coach-wide temperature of about 17 or 18 and then use an electric heater to heat up the area I'm in to a comfortable temp of 20+. So, I think that getting the propane delivery set up would still be a good thing even if I go hog wild with electricity heating.

    Meanwhile, I'm rationing propane. :-) Thankfully, it's gorgeous outside, so I can cook there on the Coleman or the hibachi (now that I am no longer charring my meals!), and the sun has been doing a fine job of heating the coach during the day.

    In other news, I got a bit of training this afternoon and was asked to work all day tomorrow to apply that training. Training for what, you might ask? For signing people in after hours, of course! I have also been asked to put in three hours on Sunday morning in the office so that the day people can go to church. So, I have to learn their computer reservation system, cash register operation, and also tour the campground to learn where all the sites are and how to best direct people into them. There's a lot to take in! I'm especially glad that there is cash register work to do since that will update my resumé in regards to retail experience.

    Last night's gate closing at 11 wasn't too bad. I showered and changed into my PJs ahead of time, so it was just a matter on slipping into shoes and a coat and popping out for five minutes and then going to bed straight away after since I was exhausted. But this morning's 6:25 wake up call was a tad brutal!!! At least, it doesn't take long to get the gates open. I was back in my still warm bed at 6:30 and managed to fall asleep again. I'm just glad that it's pitch black out at both those hours because of my sartorial choices! LOL Oh, and the manager says that she also performs gate operation duties in her PJs, so I won't get weird looks from her if she sees me. :-) In a few days, once I've learned the necessary procedures, I'll need to perform 'cash out' duties in the evenings. She normally does that at 9 and then goes back out to do the gates at 11, but it's up to me. I might end up preferring to go out at 10:30 and do everything at once. I suppose it will depend on how cold it is!

    Friday, October 10, 2008

    Rub a Dub Dub

    Like every single park I've been to since hitting the road, this one had has a rule page with one entry that stands out: NO WASHING RV.

    That's all well and good and understandable, but Miranda was getting to be extremely filthy and embarrassing looking and I hadn't had any luck finding an RV wash place.

    So, I asked here if I could wash the dirtiest parts of her with a rag and bucket and was told that this is fine. I was even offered a ladder! I went out and got a bottle of car cleaner with wax in it. I started with her rear because it was turning black. What a difference the wash made! I then started on her sides but realised that there was no way I could wash her entirely by hand in one afternoon. Her sides weren't that bad, actually, and only really in need of a wash from the tops of the compartments down. So, I did only that part. I washed the cab completely, also. The only thing I didn't manage to wash, and this bugs me, is the bug-encrusted overhead cab. I just could not find a good angle to access it. And, yes, I tried using a mop; it just didn't have enough scrubbing power. Still, Miranda looks much better than she did a couple of hours ago! I did the same thing with Pommette.

    I can't believe what a difference this location is to my last. I'm in almost full sun here and I had to crank open a couple of windows. All of last week, I had to run the heat throughout the day to maintain a constant temperature. This will make a huge difference in the winter.

    Finally, I discovered I have another perk here: phone access. Once I get a long enough phone cord, I'll be able to receive calls on a regular phone at absolutely no charge. For outgoing calls, I'll need to compare the rates to that of my cell, but I'm sure they'll be better. I'm glad I had the foresight to bring my cordless phones and answering machine with me!

    When I add it all up--good internet access, unmetred electricity, unlimited incoming phone calls on top of the site with running water and sewer--I'm going to be willing to work quite a few hours for this park without feeling that I'm being exploited. Heck, just the internet is a huge thing. I had thought that I'd have to get online on my own this winter and estimates put that bill at close to 100$ per month. So, I don't want to hear anyone say that I'm volunteering too many hours! I'll keep track of those hours in the beginning, but I'm not going to be a clock watcher.

    Now, if I can only get paying work. The supermarket won't have a position for me just yet and probably not before November. I dropped off another resumé today, this time at Home Hardware, and made a list of places to visit on Monday. I'm not concerned yet. If I haven't had any nibbles in the next week, then I'll expand the search to Osoyoos and then to Penticton if I get really desperate. But I'd really love to find something in Oliver, so that I can be walking (or even biking) distance to work. Penticton would be quite a commute and I would be spending a fortune on gas.

    Well, all that scrubbing sure worked up an appetite, so I'm off to make a yummy dinner. :-)

    Home Sweet Home

    Whew. Moving just a kilometre and a half (even less far than I'd estimated!) is as much work as moving 200km!

    So, I'm here. As Croft describes it, this park is of the drive in sort. It's on pavement and the rigs are parked tightly together in a herringbone pattern. I'm tucked away in a corner where I have a bit of grass and trees. It's definitely one of the nicer sites. Next door to me is the house they offer campground hosts who don't have an RV. It's empty at present, so I'll be given a key to it so I can access the laundry room and television until such time as the park owners decide what they will do with the house. The television doesn't interest me, but the free laundry does!

    One thing I figured out five minutes into arrival is that I need to come up with an efficient interior privacy curtain for the cab. Until now, I've been using an exterior cover that works great, but it's a pain to install and remove. The only way I'm going to get direct sunshine into this coach during the day is through the windshield, so I need something I can open and close easily. The way the cab is set up now, there are little bits of velcro around the top for hanging a flimsy curtain. It's an even bigger pain to install and it doesn't hide much.

    This afternoon, I'm settling in and running errands, then I'm going to get keys from the manager so that I can start my gate closing duties. It's not Sunday night (duh), but the people who work the nights I'll be off are not here this weekend, so I was asked if I'd mind hitting the ground running. Not in the least.

    Some people might be wondering if there is a catch to this arrangement. There is. I'll be responsible for closing the gates at 11PM. No biggie, I'm up at that hour. But I'll also be responsible for opening them up at 6:30. Yeouch. So much for a good night's sleep four days a week! That said, I can just stumble out of bed in my PJs, get the gate open, and go back to sleep if I so please. So, if I don't find work that starts insanely early, this should be fine.

    Being the night owl that I am, I am beginning to think that a night job would be ideal. I could close the gates at 11, go to work, come home to open the gates at 6:30, run a few errands, then sleep a full 'night' until I go on duty here at 5. Another possibility to consider.

    The handyman at the last park spent three winters in the area and comes from out east, so we spoke the same language today when we talked about the winter climate here. He told me that I absolutely need a heat tape on my water hose, but that there is no risk of my tanks freezing. What we've been living the last few days is very comparable to what we'll be getting in the next few months, but it will be much less sunny. I can expect temps to go down to as far as minus 10 at night, but to rise above freezing most days. So, next time I go into Penticton I need to get insulation for my skylights, a heat tape, and weather stripping for the exterior doors. I already have plastic for my windows. I hate putting that stuff up because it just looks ugly, but I've been using it for years, so I know it works.

    It's weird to be set up here and know that I'm likely not going anywhere for the next five months. But I'm okay with that. I'll get to know the area and be able to take day trips in the toad and perhaps take Miranda out a few times. This is actually closer to my vision of my life on the road than the last month was. Traveling every couple of days, even once a week, is positively exhausting and you remain a tourist. I want to stop somewhere, get a feel for its rhythm and move on when I've had enough.

    Wednesday, October 8, 2008

    Eureka 2!

    I've raved about Eureka before, so imagine my excitement when I discovered this afternoon that Andy had put out a second volume! This volume contains the same information as the first, and lots more. It is well worth the 8$ download fee if you own Eureka! already or 12$ if you're getting Eureka! 2 without having previously purchased Eureka! Costs for a CD are slightly higher.

    Thanks for more tips, Andy!

    Oh, and the five minute chocolate cake (recipe found in Eureka! 2)? Oh. So. Yummy.

    DVD Rentals

    This is my first OIT-only post in ages. Just when I thought there was no longer a point to keeping two blogs!

    I'm trying to figure out why people still rent movies. When I was in Cochrane, I went to the Blockbuster to rent a movie and found out that rentals are now SIX DOLLARS. That's six dollars for something I'm going to bring home, watch, and return. I left the movie there.

    This confirmed to me that what I've been doing the past couple of years is the most sensible way to enjoy movies, if you don't mind not getting the most current stuff right away. I stalk the '2 for 10$' bin at Walmart and the 2.99' bin at Zellers. That's right. I'm buying movies for a lot less than I would pay to rent them. The choice at Zellers isn't very good, but I get the odd gem like On a Clear Day. But the choice in the Walmart bin is fantastic. While not holding anything extremely current, it does hold big name titles, some of which are quite recent. A couple of years back, I scored both Batman Begins and the new King Kong in this bin, just months after they came out on DVD!

    If I get a dud, like I did yesterday with Follow the River then I just leave it in a laundry room for someone else to watch. I'm still more ahead than if I had rented a movie. Then there are the times when I really get a good deal. One day, I found a fantastic four hour mini-series bundled with a music CD I actually enjoy as well as a couple dozen Hitchcock movies, all for 10$.

    Since I'm storing my movies in small cases that don't take up much room, I'm not adding a lot to Miranda's payload, nor is my 'habit' taking up a lot of room, and it's definitely cheaper than going to the movies.

    Tuesday, October 7, 2008

    Total Randomness

    I've resisted writing about the upcoming election (the one that matters, on October 14th, not the one happening in November *winks*), but today I saw a sign that just made me laugh. As it turns out, I'm in the riding of a certain Mr. Stockwell Day, former leader of the Canadian Alliance. That's all well and good, except that his name gave me pause for the first time in my life. Maybe I've been doing too much dry camping. I don't know, but I find that his name sounds like a once a year event at Walmart. Come celebrate Stock Well Day, when we refresh our inventory!

    As I said, total randomness.

    Oh, and vote orange! I did so by special ballot way back when I was in Edmonton.

    The End of the Road!

    Well, sort of!

    Friday morning, I move about three kilometres north of here to just within the Oliver town limits, and I'll be staying there right through to February or March!

    I've been 'hired' as an after hours campground host, by the first campground at which I inquired about such work! I'll be on duty Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings in exchange for full hookups! Let me repeat that: I'll be 'paid' to stay home weekday evenings. LOL If the weather here is as good as propaganda says it is, I probably won't have to do too much to get Miranda comfortable and I might be able to keep her mobile enough to make it worth taking her out on my three day weekends, if I'm not working. We'll see!

    The manager's family owns the supermarket and I've been advised to show up with a resumé. It's not quite the sort of work I'm looking for, but I won't turn up my nose at it!

    Sounds like it will be a quiet winter and just what I'm looking for. I just love the thought of taking on easy work with little responsibility. I know that my pay will take a sharp drop unless I get really lucky paying work-wise, but I'm tired. I've been working since I was thirteen years old and most of that work entailed heavy responsibilities. Just let me earn enough to pay my bills and put some aside for the summer and I'll be happy.

    Monday, October 6, 2008

    Pounding the Pavement


    This morning, I visited every single winery between Oliver and Osoyoos. While a few persons I spoke to were very friendly, most were snooty. I was told several times that I would not be considered for picking because they only hire teams of two. I left resumés at all of them and made it clear that I'm interested in any job, not just picking, so we'll see what happens. I'm definitely not in Alberta anymore!

    For the afternoon, I planned to visit a few RV parks between Oliver and Penticton. The first one I stopped at was so promising I decided it wasn't worth my while to use more gas until I hear back from the manager tomorrow! I'm not saying more about that as I don't want to jinx it. :)

    Sunday, October 5, 2008

    New Broom

    I was surprised to discover that I miss having a full-size broom. I thought that my Swiffer complemented by a hand broom and a hand vac would be sufficient, but it isn't.

    At Walmart today, I spent quite a bit of time drooling over their RV products aisle and I found an adjustable RV broom that seemed like a good idea for a small house. It's a full size broom that collapses to 24" in length, has a head that pivots, and includes a dust pan. For 11.72$, it was worth trying as a regular broom and dustpan kit would cost me just about the same thing.

    Well, I love it! The broom gets in everywhere I need it to go, stores easily and out of the way, and even traps quite a bit of cat hair. It's a gimicky sounding product that actually delivers and costs a reasonable amount.

    I might actually learn to like sweeping one day....


    The US border being just 25 minutes away, I decided to add a state to my list and go to Washington for half a day, the main purpose for the trip being a chance to fill my toad for about 15$ less than I can in Canada. Since I feel that you should always have something to declare upon reentry (looks less suspicious, even if you just spent 20$), I checked to see if there might be a Walmart Super Center nearby. There was! It's in Omak, about an hour and a half away.

    I had no problems entering the United States. When asked when I was going home, I replied truthfully that I will be leaving Oliver in a week. For the first time, I was asked to pop open my trunk, but that was the only delay before entering my 26th state!

    The scenery on the drive to Omak down the US 97 was breathtaking!

    I had lunch at Tequila's in Omak, which promised 'authentic' Mexican fare. I have no idea if it was authentic, but it sure was good! My Spanish accent must be as good as my profs said it is since after ordering my 'burrito a la crema' (chicken cooked in sour cream and wrapped in a tortilla), the server only addressed me in Spanish! What a nice way to get a change of scenery while staying close to home!

    Crossing the border back into Canada was a non-event. I declared the 30 bucks worth of stuff I'd bought at Walmart (including a huge quantity of RV-friendly toilet paper, something I have not being able to find here), and did not have to pay any customs on my purchases.

    On the way back, I intended to stop off at the Canada Desert Centre, but it closes early, so I'll need to try again. I did get a shot of Canada's desert! :)

    Saturday, October 4, 2008

    Occam's Razor

    Well, Croft resolved my electrical issue for me through some of my own Googling.

    Turns out I could have solved this problem myself on Thursday evening in about 10 seconds without even going outside.

    The problem I was experiencing is that none of my 12V appliances--furnace blower, fridge, lights, or water pump--were working. The battery was good, but no power was going out. Everything had worked fine until late afternoon on Thursday. I couldn't fathom what had happened in that time to kill my electrical system.

    The first thing I suspected was a loose connection. I thought that maybe I hadn't wrenched the main connector enough because I didn't have much room to work. So, I went out and bought a teeny wrench. It didn't help.

    I then went and bought a battery terminal cleaning tool and some special gel. They didn't help.

    We blamed the cables. We blamed the converter. I ran I don't know how many tests with my multimeter. I triple checked my fuses. I quadruple checked my breakers.

    Then I did some Googling and found reference to a battery turn off switch.

    Croft asked me if that switch could possibly be the great big yellow button on the dash board I've referred to a few times.

    Indeed. When it's pulled out, the 12V system works fine. When it gets hit by someone's knee because it's at a silly height and location, it shuts off the 12V system.


    I'm choosing to laugh even though I am profoundly embarrassed.

    But the upshot of this is that my battery job was good!

    Friday, October 3, 2008

    Evaluating Miranda

    I've been on the road with this coach exactly a month now. I can't believe that this day in September was my last day of work! Now that Miranda and I are so well acquainted with each other, I thought I'd share a list of things I like about her and one of the things I don't.

    Let's get the negative out of the way first!

    Things I Don't Like

    Since it has been on my mind lately, I will start with the battery compartment. It's spacious enough that I could put in eight golf cart-sized batteries if I want, but maintaining the batteries is a pain because of lack of overhead space. I am considering installing a pull out battery shelf, but I need to look into how much reinforcement would be needed.

    The storage space under the dinette benches could much easier to get to. The bench behind the driver's seat is especially a waste of space. There is a tiny, hard to open, drawer, accessible from the aisle. Taking it out would give me a large storage chest. It's on my to do list.

    The wardrobe doors suck. The sliding doors have hard plastic holders to keep the doors from moving when I drive. I have yet to access that closet without striking one of those holders with a wrist or elbow. The doors have a tendency to get off their rails and forget about trying to open them if stuff inside has shifted. If I'm going to live in this coach for any length of time, I need those doors replaced with ones that open out. That's no longer a luxury item! I had considered a tension rod and curtain solution, then realised that this wouldn't hold the items in while driving. So, back to real doors I go. All I want for Yule is...

    The towel holder on the inside of the bathroom door has got to go. I say this an average of once a day. Early on in my trip, I hit my head so hard on the darn thing that I had a dark purple egg on my forehead from Nipigon all the way through to Regina!!! Yesterday, it almost took an eye out. Yet, it's still there. I need to remember to bring a screwdriver in there the next time I, erm, go.

    The cockpit console. I'm told that there are other ones available, so I'll have to do a search. I'd like one that could hold my atlas and other guides and which wouldn't make reaching for the glass of water/a pen/a pad of paper/the camera/my sun glasses/the lip balm/the hand cream/ the Purell/etc. a treasure hunt.

    The coach door sticks as though it's not exactly square. Maybe it just needs an adjustment. I'll have to take a closer look at it.

    The cockpit door locks only occasionally open from the outside with the key. I frequently have to reenter from the house and open the doors from inside.

    Things I Like

    The layout is pitch perfect. The spaces flow well into one another and make the coach seem really spacious. I've lived here a month and a bit now and I have yet to feel cramped at all. I really like having to cross a room (the main part of the bathroom) to get to the kitchen and that the entrance to the kitchen isn't exactly in line with that of the study. I am a lot happier having many small rooms than a few big rooms. The fact that the toilet has its very own room is a bonus. In such a small space, having to open an actual door is a real luxury.

    The furnishings are well chosen. The absolute only thing I wish I could change, and I've said this before, would be to swap out one of the chairs in the lounge so I could fit in a credenza with shelves and drawers. I was surprised to discover that I like having the other chair. When I'm traveling, I overturn my computer chair in the back room, making that room fairly inaccessible. If I'm just stopping for a few hours for lunch or making a late stop in the evening, I don't bother 'making up' that room and instead I find myself plopping down in one of the chairs at the front to read. Unfortunately, the chair that would be easiest to remove, the one behind the passenger's side (because the bolts are easily accessible via the battery compartment), is the one I want to keep. The chair by the door tends to be a catch all, so I might as well have a proper surface there.

    I'm surprisingly fond of the dinette, too. I usually eat there and it's where I sit with my laptop and research materials to plan out my day. When traveling, I take the wicker baskets that I placed over the fridge and store them on a dinette bench. Eventually, I'll get around to creating some sort of securing mechanism so I can leave the baskets above the fridge when traveling, but for now they're completely out of the way on the dinette bench.

    The 'upstairs bedroom' is a cozy space that works for me even though some might find it a tad tight up there with my mattress. I like that there is room for overflow storage without cramping my sleeping space. I'm not fond of the fact that I have to climb up on the dinette to get up there, though, since it's getting the dinette dirty. I supposed I c/should put a towel over it. But climbing up (and down) isn't a pain at all, not even in the wee hours of the morning when my bladder is screaming at me. There is a conveniently located light above the bed and I really like the curtain on a hospital rail. Closing it at night is the equivalent to shutting the bedroom door and gives me the feeling that I'm cozy and secure in a private little nest.

    The kitchen is surprisingly efficient. There is just enough room to work. The only thing I'd change is that I would replace the double sink with a single one. The sink could be deeper, too, but that's a minor complaint. The stove and oven are fantastic. A couple of weeks back, the piezo (sparker), the one part I was told didn't work, started to work! So, now I don't have to use a BBQ lighter to fire up the stove. I absolutely adore cooking on a gas range; it's so much faster than on an electric one. The oven is excellent, too, and doesn't require any feats of athleticism or eyebrow risk to light. The size is just right one-person sized casserole dishes. As for the fridge, no complaints there. It's huge! I can't even keep it completely filled, but when I have something oversized, there's room for it.

    The bathroom is the best space in the coach that I didn't design myself. It does not feel like a stereotypical RV bathroom. There is plenty of space to walk around in the main part of it. The vanity is generously proportioned, with a medicine cabinet that offers more usable space than I have need for, plenty of counter space, and an under sink cabinet that is roomy enough for all my cleaning products. Next to the shower, there's enough place for me to put a storage tower I had at my old house, effectively giving me the exact same amount of storage in the bathroom as I'm used to having! The shower is very luxurious and just the right size for me. There's no elbow banging involved in it! The only thing I'd change is the shower head since it doesn't have the adjustment for turning off the water while soaping up. The toilet room is surprisingly pleasant for such a tiny space as its white walls and window make it very bright and airy. This room was also the source of a DOH! moment for me. I was frustrated that the coach doesn't have a broom closet. Yesterday, I finally clued in as to why there's a hook behind the toilet. Whadya know, it's just the right height for hanging a broom. Or a Swiffer stick in my case!

    Then, there's the room I call the study or the living room. Oh, I LOVE this space! My mother really outdid herself with her fine tuning of my design. The two mattresses and pillows make a wonderful place to recline and watch a movie or read. The night table is at just the right height and distance for placing a mug of tea or a glass of water. The useless bar has turned into a very useful place for storing all the cables for my electronic equipment. There's also just enough room to put a litter box and box of litter out of the way, tucked in the space between the toilet room wall and the edge of the storage box topped with the night table.

    Looking up, I have no less than four skylights, two of which have covers enabling me to leave them open even when it's raining. They add a lot of light to the coach and bring in less noise than do open windows. I do need to think about insulating them for the winter.

    Finally, there's the basement. What else can I say about the basement, but thank goodness for all that usable storage space! I packed the basement in Ottawa and have had to make only a few minor tweaks. There can be a lot of shuffling involved to get at things that are stored in the bowels of the large pass throughs, but it's not tedious at all.

    All of these elements combined make for a very airy and livable coach. I don't feel cramped in here in the least and I just left a 900 square foot home!

    The Best Laid Plans...

    Wow. I sure didn't expect to be here today, here as in the Okanagan Valley, here as in the capital of wine country, here as in the end of the road for the next month.

    Yesterday didn't quite go as planned. By the time I stopped for the night, I was sure that I couldn't possibly ever again have a worst day. By the morning, though, I was grinning and realising that nothing, absolutely nothing, will ever be as bad as that crunching day between Thunder Bay and Selkirk.

    But let's start at the beginning, shall we?

    Here's Miranda at the Spring Hill RV Park 9km north of Cochrane, Alberta:

    Cochrane is quite possibility the most beautiful full service town I have ever visited, even more beautiful than Banff. I could have easily stayed a few months there.

    I left the park almost two hours earlier than I had planned. I'm grateful that they had propane and gas fill up stations, so I was able to do everything there before pushing off. All of that, plus the one hour time shift and the week's rest I just had meant that I was ready to drive if conditions warranted it. Tourism time had ended and it was time for me to get to work. I'd have plenty of time to come back into the mountains to explore in later months.

    So, I made it to past Revelstoke yesterday, about 480km, but it wasn't a drudging sort of drive because I did make the time for two touristy stops, one of which was an hour and a half long.

    This stop was, of course, at Lake Louise.

    As I expected, Lake Louise is 100% a tourist trap. Oh, the lake is definitely worth the long climb up a narrow winding road, but I can't believe that people are saps enough to pay 55$ for a one hour canoe trip on the lake. Just call me the cynic. Or maybe I'm just frugal. :-) Having had lunch in the rig and craving dessert, I went into the Chateau

    to look for ridiculously overpriced ice cream to munch on while I walked partway around the lake and was delighted to find merely overpriced ice cream.

    My next stop was at the Spiral Tunnels. I waited almost a half hour there hoping to see a train go through them, but I finally had to press on. The pictures I took here don't really show anything, so I won't post them. Very briefly, the Spiral Tunnels were an answer to the Big Hill, a really steep bit of Transcanada rail line between Field, BC, and Kicking Horse Pass. This hill cost a fortune to run and was the scene of many accidents. The spiral tunnels cut into the mountain reduced the grade by 50%. I really can't do the story justice, so you'll just need to go read the Wiki article. :-)

    Then, I drove.

    My first possibility for an overnight stop was the Kicking Horse rest area, just west of Yoho National Park. Unfortunately, it was only 3PM local time when I arrived there and there was blasting and other construction going on. So, I pressed on, surprised to find myself already going through Glacier and Revelstoke Parks.

    Just west of Revelstoke, I found what seemed like an informal truck stop, but it looked very busy and noisy, so I pressed on.

    Then, I found what seemed like the perfect stop to stop for the night. There was a rest area with a road leading down to a utility shed, with a large open area. It seemed private and quiet, so I decided to make that my stop for the night.

    Which is when I discovered that I had absolutely no power. Now, my batteries were fully charged, but no power was getting through to my 12V system. I check the terminals and my fuse box, trying to figure out what had happened in 5.5 hours to break my electrical system! It was about to get dark and I decided to drive 10km. If I didn't find an RV park within that time, I would come back to this spot and tough out the night without power.

    As I drove, I suddenly remembered Croft's suggestion that I try to start the generator with the truck engine running. So, having passed two closed RV parks and being ready to turn around, I pulled into a rest area and tested his trick. It worked! I had power! Noisy power, but at least my fridge was running again. I decided to go back to my previously selected spot when I realised that I didn't need to. This rest area was built a bit like a tea cup. I was parked in the bowl. To the right of me was a thicket of trees and there was a narrow path going around this thicket, like a handle. I pulled into it and to my delight found myself tucked away out of sight of the road. It wasn't as quiet as the other spot would have been, but at least I didn't have to double back. It was fully dark now and pouring rain, so I was very, very grateful that my day of driving was done.

    I set to work making dinner, then I read for a couple of hours. I went to bed ridiculously early, about 8:30 local time, but it was 9:30 my time and I was beat!

    For a first time pulling off the road and sleeping in the middle of nowhere, I slept pretty well. I woke up around 1, then slept soundly again until 5. I ran the generator again for a couple of hours as I puttered around, waiting for it to be light enough out for me to set off. This kept most of the contents of the freezer frozen solid, thankfully, and used up only a negligible amount of gas. I can almost get used to the noise inside, but would hate to run the generator when there are people around!

    So, my first day in BC dawned like my first day in Manitoba, very rainy and foggy. I decided to drive until such time as the weather cleared up and run the generator again for about an hour for the fridge's benefit, then I would make a straight run for Oliver where hookups would give me time to figure out what was going on with my electrical system.

    I was in a really good mood this morning. I'd slept well, had an indecently yummy cup of coffee while watching the sun rise at the rest stop, and realised that the part of my journey I had feared the most was over: I was clear across the mountains! Sure, part of the day before had sucked (driving in the dark in rain with no power and chicken about to thaw in the freezer), but, sum told, it had actually been quite a good day. I was especially proud of myself for being able to recognize a good place to stop and, most importantly, for not pushing myself any further than I absolutely needed to.

    So, I set off in pea soup fog and made a quick stop at the site of a major event in Canadian history:

    And that was it for tourism. I drove quickly through Vernon and Kelowna, glad when I saw them that I wasn't stopping there for my week of reconnaissance, and then I pulled over at a rest stop outside of Penticton for lunch (thawed out pizza that I hadn't been able to stuff into the colder part of the freezer with all the other stuff that was still, thankfully, frozen solid).

    The Okanagan area looks quite like I expected it to, except for the hills which remind me of the Sierra Nevadas!

    Okanagan Valley

    Sierra Nevadas

    I'm now settled for a week just outside of Oliver, which is the wine capital of Canada. I passed too many wineries to count on the drive down here, so I think I'll just start at the closest one to here and work my way south to Oosoyos, and then north again, asking at each one if they're hiring pickers yet. Tomorrow, though, I just might take the morning for a wee bit of sightseeing as I am very eager to see Canada's only (non-Arctic) desert. But, after that, it's time to look for work!

    So, the first stage of my great big adventure has ended. I have successfully traveled the roughly 5,000km (not counting mileage done with the toad) that separated me from my old life in Gatineau to the new one awaiting me in the Okanagan Valley. I arrived here a lot less naive and cocky, but in excellent spirits and with a month's worth of memories that make up for a lifetime of disillusionment.

    Now that my rig is well broken in and I am more knowledgeable, it's time to think about finding work, a place to spend the winter, and a way to make Miranda comfortable during that season.

    In a way, I feel that my journey is still just beginning. Today is not an ending, just a really, really, really major milestone.

    Wednesday, October 1, 2008

    British Columbia, Here I Come!

    This time tomorrow, I will be in British Columbia! After tomorrow, the only province I will have left to visit is Newfoundland and Labrador!

    I'm trying to plan out my route to Oliver. It's a 700km journey. Normally, I'd say that I could easily do that in two days, with just one overnight stop, but normally I'm not driving through several national parks with slow speed limits and let's not forget the mountains. I think it will probably take me three days to get there, but it can't take any more since I could be called to work on Monday. Could is a big word, but I wouldn't want to miss my chance.

    I'd like to invite you all to visit the Parks Canada website and get information on RV camping along this route just so you'll see that I'm not exaggerating when I state that this is a ridiculously frustrating task. In order to get information on campgrounds, their amenities, and their rates, I have to visit an average of four websites!

    After about an hour's worth of Googling, I finally was able to determine that my first overnight stop will probably be at Kicking Horse Pass campground in Yoho National Park. Camping there is 30$ per night. No hookups. 40$ if you need a day pass. No hookups. Let me say that again. No hookups. As if that wasn't bad enough, the campground doesn't take reservations, so if they're full, tough luck, I have to push on to Golden. This type of fleecing by the Canadian government is par for the course, unfortunately. If you're coming to Canada, I suggest sticking to provincial and private campgrounds. Visit the national parks by day only!

    Because there are apparently so few places to stop overnight between Canmore and Golden, I'm not guaranteed a spot at Kicking Horse, and I won't be pushing off till noon tomorrow, I doubt I'll be detouring to Lake Louise. :-(

    I have to say that this is the first night before departure since Thunder Bay that I'm just about raring to go! I've been here a full week and it's been really nice, but I've had my fill of the area for now.

    Even though I'm nine kilometres from the nearest full service town and thirty kilometres from Calgary city limits, I still feel that this location was fantastic. I really enjoyed doing my daily excursions and coming home to this spot. It's not as quiet as it could be since it's right at the intersection of two busy roads, but it's peaceful and the staff is very friendly. I just wish the window in front of my computer didn't overlook the dumpsters. :-D

    I'm seeing a lot of rigs in this park that are not much different from Miranda all gussied up with skirts in preparation for the winter. Oh, those brave souls! As for me, I'm headin' for the promised land. :-)

    But I have to say the weather here has been incredible. It dips to close to freezing at night and goes up to about 25 during the day. Miranda turns into an oven (it was 32 in here this afternoon!). I don't know how to describe the sun out here, but it feels really close and it's unbelievably intense. Soon as it sets, though, BRR! It's meant nice days for exploring or puttering at home, but nights that are really comfortable for sleeping, so absolutely ideal RVing conditions. Pity they can't last all year. :-)