"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.


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


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!


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.


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


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!