Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Home Again 2: The Return to a New Beginning

I've been lacking in keeping this blog up to date lately and I'm sorry, but sometimes life gets in the way and I'm claiming writer's block as an excuse for the long pauses.  I intend to keep this going but once you get behind it is much more difficult to bring it back to the present day and am I ever behind!
Flash back to March and the road home...

Rolling into Albuquerque was a reminder of the cold front we drove through last fall.  We had planned on staying in this area for a week last fall on the way down but the cold had pushed us southwest faster than we had intended.  So on the return trip we wanted to stop and check Albuquerque out. 

I had one must see here in Albuquerque, NM, the Unser Racing Museum.  Being a life long racing fan, the Unser clan are as close to racing royalty as you can get.  There have been generation after generation of Unsers' winning races in anything with wheels and motor, including 9 "Indy 500" wins between three of them, AL Sr.(4), Bobby(3) and Al Jr. (2).

This museum was started by Al Sr. in one building and has grown into a second building with many cars and trophies for you to see.  Admission is only $10 and is well worth the money, even Detra enjoyed it and she has zero interest in motorsports.  It is a must for any race fan to see and even worth the stop for someone to learn a little about how racing got to where it is now.

Al Sr.'s last Indy winning car from '87.
I remember this car from a toy I had back in the '70's. and it is one of my favourites still.
Al Sr. won the 1970 Indy 500 with it.
 The Unser Museum, unlike every other car museum, lets you get right up close to the cars.  This is very rare and truly lets you appreciate the way these cars were built.  The older racecars are actually scary when it comes to safety equipment, some I wouldn't even think about taking to the limit, let alone race someone wheel to wheel at crazy speeds.  These drivers were and are brave souls that can do this for living and survive into retirement. 
While in the gift shop we came across something we couldn't leave without.  They had a metal Radio Flyer car that was signed by Al Unser Sr. and Al Unser Jr.  This was just what Logan needed for his first birthday which we missed January 7th.

Logan on his new car.
Standard Diner was a DDD stop for us here and again the food was excellent but I did have a problem ordering.  The first thing I ordered, they were out of and the second, the DDD Meatloaf was not going to be ready for another hour.  We were here around 3pm so we were between normal meal times but that is no excuse for not having all the menu available.  I ended up with the Bourbon Butter Burger and it was a juicy, sloppy, delicious mess of flavor.
Heading further east, through the Texas panhandle, we came across an absolute jewel by chance.  Detra was looking for a quick stopover around Amarillo, TX and noticed a state park about a half hour south of the city.  The Palo Duro Canyon State Park is an outdoor wonderland worth the trip here all by itself.  This is a fantastic park in the bottom of the second largest canyon in the U.S. 
 Driving along the plains of Texas you think that maybe you are lost, as there is nothing on the horizon to even remotely give you a clue as to what is coming.  All of a sudden the earth opens up to right of you giving you a glimpse of red rock reminiscent of Sedona, AZ.  Pulled up to the office and talking to a very friendly and happy ranger manning the gate, we decided to stay longer right away and booked three nights here which we were lucky to get as this is a very popular place. Who knew? 
We drove the eight miles to our site, starting down a steep and incredibly scenic road clinging to the side of the canyon that takes you to the floor and the campgrounds.  We even drove through a few water crossings which was a fun and new experience with the trailer.
Abby opening the firewood.
Wonderful night for a campfire!
 Keeping an eye on things.
The campground is way down there, somewhere.
 This a must if you are travelling anywhere close to here, make a reservation, as it does get booked solid on weekends and holidays.  There are so many things to do here with many trails for hiking, biking or even horseback riding, a restaurant and interpretive center/ gift shop.  All our future travels through northern Texas will find us stopping here to enjoy this beautiful park.
  If you are here for a little while, up the road in Amarillo is The RV Museum.  This is the collection of Jack Sisemore, the man who started the Keystone RV Company and happens to be who built our 5th wheel.  This is attached to his RVdealership that started it all and is free to visit during business hours.  I found it very interesting to see the progression of the RV through the years and there are many great examples here. There is also a collection of Harley's and other motorbikes mixed in that are worth seeing too.
The Flxible bus from the "RV" movie w/Robin Williams.
 We made our way through Oklahoma stopping at Red Rock Canyon State Park which is in a small canyon with very tight turns on the short road to the campsites.  This was a sheltered stop for wagons heading west in the old days and now is popular with local rock climbers and families camping.
We were heading towards Chicago to visit with family but decided to take a less direct route up into Kansas and El Dorado State Park.  This was early in the season for this place but it was far from empty.  They allow people to stay here on a monthly to month basis and so has many transient workers and others who have been here for quite some time by the look of the sites.  The park is huge and we only saw a small part of it and I would imagine it to be much more appealing place when it is summer.
On to Kansas City, which one? Kansas or Missouri?, we didn't know until we got there.  Turns out we ended up on the Missouri side at Worlds of Fun Theme Park.  This a Passport America park so at 50% off it was a cheap stop for the night in a very nice campground. 
While here we headed out for some famous K.C. barbeque.  Two Smoking Guns BBQ is a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives restaurant that has expanded since being on the show.  That is a recurring theme for many of the show's featured eateries we've visited, the DDD bump lives!  The food was very good here, but I thought the ambience could use some help as it had a bit of a cafeteria feel, not that it would stop me from returning.
The other attraction for travelling this route was the Iowa 80 Truck Stop, if you haven't heard of this place, it is the largest truck stop in the world.  We wanted to see this since watching a TV program years ago about the annual truck show that is held here.  There is plenty of things to see here and it is huge, with everything a trucker could ask for including a huge chrome shop for truck accessories, dentist, chiropractor, laundry mat, movie theater, church on Sundays, a Truckers Museum and many other things.  We were kind of looking forward to this and mistakenly thought there were hook-ups for RV's to spend the night.  Turns out, once you are there it is just a truck stop, a big, very busy and impressive, but still just a truck stop.  We walked around for 45mins.( the museum was closed) and were on our way down the road to Interstate RV Park
This park was just off the I-80 and while convenient, at this time of year it was a little depressing without leaves and green grass and the permanent residents didn't help matters much, it might be fine when the nice weather hits.
Onto suburban Chicago to see Brian, Jodie and nephews Brad and Steve.  Their new home just happens to have a driveway long enough for us to park in.  This makes visiting here much more convenient and inexpensive, not to mention they feed us like kings when we are here.  We stayed here for a few days playing games and having a great time visiting.
Moochdocking in the Windy City.
This also kicked off a full month of mooch docking(stay for free at someone's place, if ya didn't know) back in my mother's driveway.  The trip back into Canada from Chicago was uneventful, but once we got here we had an issue with the 5th wheel.  The plan was to live in the house while my mother was away for a vacation, so we didn't need the trailer for 10 days.  Detra and I discussed whether to winterize the trailer in Chicago or just keep the furnace running as it was still below freezing temps in Canada.  We took the easy route, and wouldn't you know the furnace decides to pack it in at the worst possible time!  We started up the electric fireplace and a couple of space heaters, but not before the water pipes had frozen.  This could be a very expensive mistake, replacing broken lines and fixtures if it froze solid.  We were very lucky as it thawed enough on a warm day to force some antifreeze into the pipes and fill the lines while displacing the water.  The weather turned in our favour and the fireplace was enough to keep us comfortable until I could fix the issue with the furnace.
I have usually managed to fix most problems in the past but I went through just about everything I could think of and could not find the cause.  It is a good thing it was spring and we really didn't need heater again until the fall so we thought we'd call a repairman at some point during the summer. 
Fast forward a couple of months later (told you I was behind in my posts) and I started looking at it again and wouldn't you know, I had it fixed in a half hour!  I was checking the fuse for the 20th time since it first quit and it was still fine.  I decided to open up the fuse panel and took the front cover off to reveal the culprit of our issues... which leads to our...
Fulltime Lesson #7 :  Check your panel periodically for loose connections.  It is also a good idea to check anything that can jiggle loose over time and miles travelled.
I do have a gripe with the manufacturers of RV's here.  The furnace wire inside the fuse panel was loose and as a result was arcing causing the wire to burn.  This could have started an electrical fire and been very dangerous, if not deadly.  I checked the other connections and many others were loose also.  So either the connections were not tightened properly in the factory or they are putting electrical panels in RV's that the lugs loosen up as you travel, either way this is not something that should happen. 
 This is an approximate route we took this winter.
So what is the "new beginning" in the title? We have moved to the Barrie KOA  and are working part-time this summer, staying here until the cold chases us away for another winter down south.  We have been here for a couple of months already and it has been great!  Detra is in the office/store and I work in maintenance a few days a week.  The people and the park are both nice here and we have settled in very comfortably. 
Abby checking out the new digs.
 Our home for the summer.
Better late than never,


  1. Fabulous..you made up for lost time...great fun reading some old and new memories. So happy you were able to find and fix your furnace yourself. Cheers to you both.

    1. I found the problem two days ago. I was not impressed with the wiring job they did.

  2. You did a great job catching up. Thanks for the tip on checking connections. It's on the list to do today. Love that ourdoor furniture! What will you do with it when you leave?

    1. Thanks, I was shocked at how loose some of these electrical connections were. We'll return here next year so the furniture will be wrapped up neatly and left here on site. We like it here very much and will return here as long as they want to hire us each year.

  3. You and me both.... time on the computer and internet has been limited and thus fewer blogs. Looks like you guys are squeezing a lot in during your visit.

  4. Don' t have explain to you how hard it is to keep up, you do better than I do! We are keeping busy here at home, but it will soon be time to start planning our next trip south.