Traveling To Moab

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We left Scipio after getting our trailer repaired and stopped for the night in Salina. There was a neat little campground there called Butch Cassidy RV Park. The WIFI did not work beyond some very small tight pull through spots. Aside from that it was a good place. They had two pet goats wandering about and watching Misty see goats for the first time was hilarious. We left refreshed and ready for the road. Just in case you are every in the area Route 50 is a very easy drive with no surprises, steep hills or other issues.

The drive from Salina to Moab was another story. In spite of it being an interstate, there were several very steep hills going up between  valleys. Our truck was able to handle all but one. It was so steep that I had to pull over to let the tranny cool and then finish the last quarter mile of the climb with my truck in low, four wheel drive low and crawl along on the shoulder at a 3mph. Fortunately for us that seems to happen a lot because the shoulder was clear and a highway patrol whizzed by without a sideways glance at us. If I ever move to the mountains I’ll need to buy a more powerful truck. My poor F150 is perfectly fine out on the prairie but not on mountain roads. There was on really harrowing 6%, 6 miles of downhill grade with many sharp curves that required dropping to 40 mph and a lot of concentration for me. I did it, but with lots of time in low gear and my brake pads were gleaming and clean when we took a break at the bottom.

The trail has many rest stops and viewing areas. We stopped at Castle Valley. The view was spectacular and a welcome start to our Moab area look. We made some guesses about what might account for the spectacular formations. We later learned this had once been an ocean. In fact there have been 27 times this area has been inundated by an ocean.

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We continued our trip in and arrived at Moab about 5:00pm. The first campground we were originally thinking of staying at was gone. We found another Spanish Trail RV Park nearby that was very reasonable for Moab at $30/night. We registered for a week and settled in. What a spectacular view we have!

 

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Near Disaster Averted – Another Travel Repair Emergency

We were having some trouble with one tire. It was low when we left Manitoba and twice I had to stop and add air. We pulled into a gas station to fill up. The gas station was very busy but the shop was quiet. The mechanic came over to admire our canoe and ask about Manitoba. I soon found myself chatting with about the problem of the tire. He looked at the tire and immediately spotted a potentially much more serious problem. One of our shackle bolts were in a grave state and need replacing. The shackle bolt holds two parts of the suspension together. A careful inspection of the tire showed it had a nail in it and worse, some very serious wear patterns.

This led him to recommending replacing all the shackle bolts.  This was one of those times when I seriously wondered if he was trying to rip me off. Lord knows there is always someone ready to take your money. However there was no debating that the shackle bolt looked ‘off’ nor was there any questions the tire was a mess. So I agree to let him replace one set of shackle bolts and buy one new tire.

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As soon as he got the first shackle bolt off I could see we had a serious problem. The shackle bolt was very badly worn and mere millimetres from breaking. When I thought of a sudden break down on one of those mountain pass roads we had just traveled I felt ill. The mechanic strongly advised me to replace all four shackle bolt sets and upgrade into a much better quality type with a brass bushing that was one could add grease to. I really hate being in the position of simply having to trust someone without first being able to do my own on line research. However, there was no question those shackle bolts needed replacing. He was not busy and had everything on hand and he promised us we could be done and back on the road in an hour. I gritted my teeth and told him to go ahead.

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He was as good as his word about the shackle bolts. Unfortunately, as he inspected the tires we found two more tires with issues. One tire was unevenly worn on the inside and also had some flat pocked spots like the tire with the nail. The other tire had developed a nasty bump/bulge on one side. When I ran my fingers over it, it was clear the tire was in bad shape and ready to blow. So we replaced two more tires.

The bill was $735.12. Half of that was the tires. Most of the rest was shop time. One bolt was so bad it had to be cut off. The actual cost of the new shackle bolts was not that much. With three new tires and the price of parts plus the time taken it was not unreasonable. Given time to shop around I might have been able to get it done cheaper with my own mechanic back home 2200km away and maybe find a sale on those tires. Yet, under the circumstances it seemed reasonable to just pay up and get it done then and there. Still I couldn’t help but feel like I was been railroaded into a far more expensive repair than I really needed. Maybe it could have waited. Maybe he wasn’t just being nice about the canoe but had been inspecting my trailer looking for some way to get me into the shop. He was just too convincing and sincere, it was just all too convenient. If he was a con man, he was one of the slickest and best I had ever met. Even as I felt that, I also knew enough to know the three tires were in bad shape and needed replacing. There was also no arguing about the wear on the shackle bolts.

Three hours later and considerably poorer we pulled out. I could feel an immediate and remarkable improvement in the handling of the trailer. There was no question that it was riding much more smoothly. Later on, I read up on shackle bolts and RVs and everything I researched suggested that we had been guided to do the right thing by a competent mechanic. So, I have decided the mechanic was not ripping us off. He was our guardian angle, whose casual interest in our canoe made me ask about the tire with a slow leak. This led to him saving us from a major break down somewhere along the way.

The moral is that sometimes stuff breaks down and wear and tear happens and if you are lucky, it happens in a good place with a competent mechanic handy who has all the parts you need to fix the problem. We got lucky. I think.

Storm Stayed

HighwayMapDick finished up his conference in a fine mood. I was watching the forecast because a storm was coming in. The weatherman said snow would start 11:00am Friday morning. It would end before midnight followed by some wind. Dick was finished at 12:30pm. I decided to pass the time by making fresh bread and preparing a nice dinner. Our plan was to leave the next morning. Men plan, God laughs. He had a good chuckle that day. Promptly at 11:00am the snow started. By the time I went to pick up Dick the roads were icy and a real mess even in town.

A young man, a student, attending the conference caught a lift with us to our end of town where he was supposed to catch a Greyhound bus to Denver. To save money the student had been staying in a tent in the same campground as us so we were giving him lifts back and forth. Due to the imminent wet snow he had taken his tent down and packed everything into his back pack. Now his bus was delayed and he literally had everything he owned on his back. So we had a guest for dinner.

We monitored the continuing deterioration of the highways by the progress of his bus. Finally, we headed over to the bus station and dropped him off at 7:44pm. Just before I went to sleep the highways map showed conditions so dangerous that sections of the highway were now closed.

We are near the interstate and I was awoken about 1:00am by a weird quiet. I peeked out the window and saw rows and rows and rows of semis on the side of the highway. A check of the map showed everything was red, closed, for miles in all directions. The back end of the cold front moved past shortly afterward with intense rocking winds that made our trailer sway alarmingly.

We woke up ready to get on the road. We had a nice breakfast, showered and packed everything up. The map said the highways would open between 10:30am and 12:30pm. Due to the cold meaning the furnace ran a lot overnight, we had an empty propane tank. We decided to head into the town and get that filled before we left. While we were doing that, we ended up talking to several of the locals about the road conditions. Everyone said we should not head out as soon as the highways opened. One man in particular was adamant. The roads might open at 10:30am as we hoped but there was no way the highway would be safe for us pulling a trailer. He strongly advised us to wait a day.

We had some time to kill so we left the store and took the dogs for one last romp at the dog park. In the dog park we got the same advice. Wait. On our way back to the campground we could see lines and lines and line of semis. Every back street, parking lot and empty space had a semi parked there. Among the semis were a few recreational vehicles, buses with passengers and weaving in and out with flashing lights, highway patrol. We looked at the highways map one more time and it said the road was open going west, closed going east and in several places there were high winds with an extreme rollover danger. Semis began pulling out of Laramie to head west in long lines. I went and paid for another night instead.

I have always made it a policy to follow the advice of the locals. If they say something is dangerous, I assume they are right and I listen. We had a nice quiet day of fixing items and relaxing and watching TV. About 5:00pm, I checked the highways map again. A huge exclamation mark brought up a message saying a vehicle had been blown over and caused a multi-car pile up and the highway was now closed to west bound traffic. That could have been us. I am so glad we stayed put. The highways map now shows almost all green. A few spots are orange and there are only two black ice warnings. Hopefully, we’ll get up and find the highway all green and be on our way early in the morning. If not, well there are worse things than spending another say in a safe campground with full services, good WIFI and cable.

Our latest trip south.

Trip

Leaving Manitoba to drive south in winter is a dicey affair. No matter what the weather forecast says, you are bound to be surprised. This trip was no exception. We awoke on the 12th, our scheduled departure date, to find it was snowing. And it kept right on snowing right until we got over the US border. This meant a trip that would normally take about three hours took five. We paused for a break in McCreary, Neepawa and Brandon in order to deal with issues like a puppy who needed a walk and bathroom breaks. By the time we got to Brandon I was thoroughly chilled in spite of my winter outerwear and thermal underwear. Hot coffee never tasted so good!

Our original destination was a campground in Dickinson ND. Unfortunately we found ourselves only at Minot ND when darkness fell with blowing snow and nasty cold winds. We detoured off to Swenson’s RV repair and campground.  Exhausted and cold we arrived after the office had closed and we couldn’t find the campground host. I’m not sure why because when we rolled out there was a huge sign by the first campsite near the door. We rolled into an open pull through, plugged in the electric and settled in. The temperature was -17C (1F) and forecast to drop to -22C (-8F). The furnace ran without a pause all night and we had two electric heaters and our little electric countertop oven open and on. We snuggled under our electric blanket which was set on the highest level. We were barely warm enough. I was so grateful Swenson’s was open! We would never have made it through the night with just propane heat from the furnace.

Morning dawned bright and early. Since we fell asleep by about 8:00pm we were up at 5:00am. We were off to Dickinson. I felt really bad because there was no where to leave an envelope with our payment. We got to Dickinson very early and gained an hour due to the change to Mountain time. We stopped for breakfast at MacDonald’s and a cup of hot coffee never tasted so good. First thing I did was send the folks at Swenson’s an email to tell them we had been there and needed to pay them. After some searching I found a campground in Rapid City that was not only open, but in an “above freezing daytime” forecast zone. We decided to continue on.

That long long long stretch between Dickinson ND and Rapid City SD seemed like it would never end. We did see antelope, jackrabbits, mules deer, flocks and Canada geese, partridges, and a pheasant. That helped break up the trip. We made a few stops at bleak windy cold roadside stops. Somewhere along the way we noticed we had left the snow behind and we were relieved.

Misty had been very well behaved the entire trip. She either slept or followed what was going on outside with great interest. About an hour and half from our destination she had just had enough. She started puppy crying and howling and barking at us. If she could  have talked I’m sure she would have said “When are we going to get there??? How much farther do we have to go??? I want to go HOME!!!” In spite of two more breaks and a surprise chewy, offers of food and water, she remained inconsolable. I felt really bad for her but there was nothing to do but push on. Eventually she put her head down where Dick could reach and he rubbed her ears and talked to her and she settled enough to finish the last part of the trip quietly.

We pulled into Happy Holiday Resort after dark and we were warmly welcomed by the staff there. I can’t describe how nice it is to arrive at a campground exhausted, cold, hungry, and we welcomed with a cheerful attitude and a perfect campsite. I had some pre-made hot chilli and I made some rice. While the rice cooked we went for a nice long walk with the dogs. We all fell asleep early again.

In the morning I was awoken by steady dripping. It was already above freezing and all the accumulated snow and ice was beginning to melt. By the time we finished making breakfast, the solar panel’s regulator was humming. The sun was strong enough and the ice had melted enough that the panels were actually charging again. After breakfast I went to the campground shower and enjoyed a long hot shower. It was wonderful to feel clean and warm again. Our hosts refilled the propane tank we emptied overnight in Minot for a modest $18. We then took the dogs for another nice long walk. Because of skipping Dickinson and driving so far the second day out we found ourselves a day ahead of schedule. The campground was so pleasant we paid for a second night. The WIFI was really good and among other things we settled with Swenson’s for our surprise stay. I had a nice correspondence via email with the staff there I am thinking we will go by again if we can in future.

On the way out, we went by Mount Rushmore. We had a little misadventure on the way in because the highway was so steep on the last two miles that we could only climb with the truck on low four wheel drive and first gear at a crawl. That was harrowing but we made it. (Note to others, take the southern route in. It is much less steep.) We had been at Mount Rushmore many years before but because we spent so much time at the Crazy Horse exhibit we had just stopped by the roadside for a few minutes and then continued. This trip we paid our $5 fe and went in and looked at the displays and the museum. We took a selfie to prove we had been there. I can’t say I like how I look in the picture but it is a good shot of Hubby Dearest. The sunshine was such a pleasure! We then continued on into Wyoming.

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The trip to Wyoming was uneventful. Our plan was to stay in a free campsite in a place called Wheatland. We go there early enough we decided to push on through to Laramie. We had let the KOA know we might be a day early and so they were prepared. We decided not to take a recommended shortcut via highway 34 because the map had a mountain pass on it. We weren’t sure about how high the pass was, how our trailer would manage or the weather as we had a strong north wind blowing up to 60 km/hr (40mph). We had the wind to our back on the interstate and so the trip into Cheyenne was easy. I hardly even had to put my foot on the gas. The uphills were ridiculously easy with the wind. The trip from Cheyenne to Laramie was really difficult even though it was on an interstate. It seemed like all we did was climb and climb against a cross wind and a few times I could barely hit 60km/h (40m/h).

We finally crawled into the Laramie KOA just before 6:00pm. We checked in and picked up some packages that we had arranged to mail ahead and made ourselves at home. I was shaking and feeling light headed and numb. I think I was reacting to going from 1200ft in Manitoba to 7200ft in Laramie with only two days acclimatizing at 3200ft in South Dakota. We went to bed early again and then after another delightful hot shower we did some grocery shopping. Dick’s conference registration was at 4:30pm and they served all kinds of sushi as the welcome snack. YUM!

This KOA campground is fine. One thing it has which I really appreciate is a fenced dog play area big enough for Misty to go a flat out run. We have been visiting it several times a day. The traffic noice is a bit much as we are right near the interstate but it is temporary. I have plenty to do.

We are set to stay a week in Laramie. In addition to the major repair of getting our hot water heater unit in, I made arrangements to get the truck a slightly over due tune up and finally fix the slow leak in the tranny. Dick meanwhile is attending a conference. He is having a blast while I entertain the dogs and get stuff done.

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Changing the hot water heater unit in our trailer.

While we were at a family camping trip last summer we discovered that our hot water (combination electric or propane) was leaking. In the leaking water was antifreeze. After a bit of investigating we determined the water was coming from somewhere on the underside of the hot water heater. We shut off the valve that is supposed to by pass the hot water heater but we still had a leak. For the balance of our camping trip we had to do without running water. This was very upsetting because we thought we had a bypass. I eventually determined that the check valve installed on the hot water intake was not working. This meant the bypass was failing.

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Check valve that represents one half of the hot water bypass. This check valve failed.

After we returned I started telephoning the nearby RV repair places to find out about getting it fixed. I was horrified to hear the replacement was going to cost somewhere in the range of $1600. That is a lot of money and I decided before shelling it out, I would try to fix it myself.

The first step was to learn how to get at the tank. Stuff in RVs is packed in tight spaces and is very intimidating. Fortunately, I found this you tube video that described how to get the unit out. Thank you thank you

I watched it several time with my husband and we set out to remove the unit. We worked about 4 hours to get it out. A careful inspection of the unit and we found a small crack on the bottom. It was a tiny little hole looking to be about 3mm long and a half a mm wide. Yet it was enough of a leak to soak the floor in ten minutes. We are fortunate to have a neighbour who does a lot of welding and he kindly stopped by to check. His diagnosis was not good news. After poking the hole and banging and inspecting he said the tank was corroded on the inside. Probably the antifreeze in the tank due to the failed check valve had been a contributing factor. Welding it would be difficult since it was aluminum and it probably would either not work or the corroded tank would just start leaking somewhere else. He recommended replacing the tank.

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I did a bunch of research on line and compared the price of the entire unit versus just the tank. As is often the case, the additional cost for the whole unit was not that much more than the cost of just the tank. The seven year old unit was having some issues with a constantly leaking pressure valve and the ignition system, while working, was also corroding. We decided to just pay the extra to get a new unit.

We immediately came up against the Canadian problem. The new unit ordered from the RV dealers in the area was going to $850 to $1200. Ordered directly from a Canadian dealer it would be $850. If I ordered it from the USA I would have to worry about taxes, duties and brokers fees. If I could order it from the US, and have it delivered to the US, I could get it for $452 Canadian. I am not sure why Canadians have to pay double plus for RV parts but we do. We opted to replace the unit after arriving in the USA. Due to our very cold fall weather, even if the water was working properly, we would have the trailer winterized with antifreeze and unusable anyway.  I called the Laramie KOA we were planning on staying at for a full week while my husband attended a conference. They cheerfully agreed to accept the part there and hold it until we arrived. Meantime, I put the old unit back in without connecting the plumbing in order to fill the hole and make it proper as far as customs was concerned. I could legitimately tell them I had replaced a broken hot water heater unit with the same model while were in the USA. No duty, taxes or import issues that way. On arrival at Laramie our new hot water heater unit was waiting.

It took very little effort to remove the old one and set it beside the new one. Everything was a perfect match. I just pulled out the screws, cut the wiring and pulled the unit out.

The new unit looked so sharp and clean in it’s nice insulation box. It came with some extra corner braces and new hinge thingies for the door. It did not come with the door but that was okay because we had the old door.

I nearly made one potentially disastrous mistake. While I was proudly photographing the old and new tanks I heard a meow and turned around and spotted my cat checking out the new cat door. After chasing him back inside I propped the old outside door inside in order to keep the cat in.

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First step was to match up the wires. I decided not to touch the old connectors and risk mixing up the previous wiring job. I just connected to old wires at the point I had cut them. That way was really easy because it was all colour coded. I used regular twist electrical connectors. The new wiring had to be carefully tucked back in on the top right but it went in. It took a bit of fiddling and wiggling. The trickiest part of the slide in process was to get the propane connection into the hole. I did that by tucking the propane connection to one side until the unit was almost in and then I went inside and there was just enough room to nudge it into the general vicinity of the hole. I had to go back out and fish around to find it and then carefully finish the process of nudging the unit in. It was too bad hubby dearest was off at his conference because I had to take multiple trips in and out in order to get the unit finally seated properly. I was assisted by Misty decided to jump on me and give me many puppy kisses each time I was working from the inside. This slowed me down some, but did cheer me up.

Once the unit was in place I was able to reconnect the propane and I used the nice shiny new corner braces with the old screws. The flange arrived sticking out and had to be bent back but it went easily. There was more than enough putty left to easily seal the new flanges.

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And it is done! At least on the outside. Now that I no longer needed the door to prevent the cat from escaping I put it on over the nice new shiny unit.

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Once the unit was in place outside, it was time to go to the back and connect the wiring and plumbing inside. I decided this time I was putting in a valve that manually opened and closed instead of a check valve. That way, if this ever happens again I can actually block off the hot water heater from the rest of the system and not be stuck with no water at all. Of course now that I have planned on it, it will never actually happen. I ended up making a couple of trips to the hardware store to get the correct new manual valve and some new connectors. Here you can see just before I started connecting the plumbing and electrical. I used lots of teflon tape on metal parts and I tightened as much as I could. It was a bear of a job because it was in such a small space but my vise grip sure came in handy.

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And finally I needed to reconnect three wires from the trailer electrical supply from the unit. It’s now in and reconnected.

We are in an area where the forecast says it is still too cold to risk adding water to test the new unit. I expect to see lots of leaks at various points in the plumbing connections that will need more tightening. I am not that strong and it will have to be something hubby dearest does. I am assuming, of course, that the new unit is not defective. I suppose we could fill and test in a few weeks and discover something wrong and have to take it all out, send it back and start all over again. The company I dealt with is not one where I have ever had any issues so I am not expecting any. I am counting it done.

So we saved will over $1000 by doing this fix by ourselves and arranging a delivery of the new unit in the USA. It was not a hard fix. It was a multicuss job with lots of fussing but it was not hard. Even taking into account some six hours of work figuring things out and removing the unit the first time and four hours of putting the new unit back in, I figure my effort was worth about $100/hour. And that is a good thing.

Update Nov 22: We finally got far enough south to be able to use our water system again. As I expected I had two joints that needed tightening to stop leaks. One connecting elbow broke instead of tightening more. (ARRGG!!) I had to make another trip to the hardware store to replace that. The unit itself is now working perfectly!

 

On the Road Again

Hubby dearest and I are getting ready to depart the cold snowy north and head to warmer climes. We have been extremely fortunate to be able to travel from Canada in winter to the USA since the winter of 2010/11. This means we are about to embark on our seventh year of missing full winter. We get to miss the worst of the terrible cold winters and walk beaches instead. A few days ago, I was feeling very much not ready to leave my cosy home and head south. The more time and energy I spend on in/with my little house, the more attached I get and the less the urge to wander consumes me. Fortunately for my desire to get ready this happened today.

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In spite of how much I am going to miss my friends and family there is nothing like 20cm of heavy wet snow to make you start lusting after some beach, somewhere.

Yesterday we cleared the garage and put most of the stuff in the truck. A few larger items (like the lawn mower) we moved into the basement. We stowed our bikes in the truck and got the canoe strapped on top. I checked, fixed, reprogrammed and tested our security cams and alarm system. We installed a second sump pump, just in case. Last year it cost us a small fortune to heat the house enough so the basement didn’t freeze while we were gone. This year, we installed a new electronic thermostat that can be set as low as -4.5C in the basement and we disconnected the upstairs thermostat. We had new vents installed in the basement to suck air in and put air out only in the basement for the winter and Dick has built wooden block things to go over the upstairs vents. We also added an oil filled space heater with the freeze setting just in case something happens and we need back up heat. Hopefully this will save us a lot of heating costs without freezing up our basement.

We covered the top of the septic tank with insulation just in case there isn’t enough snow to cover and insulate it. You might not think that could possibly be a problem given the snow we had today but it often can be up here at the 51st parallel. If we get a prolonged period of -40C(-40F) weather, the snow will begin sublimating directly into the air and slowly vanish. It will be too cold for more snow to fall. Add a little wind and the septic tank could end up exposed just when it needs snow cover the most. A lot of people don’t get that really cold weather means less and less snow but it is so. (Consider yourself as having been blessed if you have never experienced this.)

We also have done stuff like get the house insurance up to date, alert credit card companies we are going, dropped off keys with the two neighbours and told the rest we are going so the whole town can watch our house. We will have our computers, my jewelry, and almost all of our tools with us, so there isn’t a lot left behind to steal but between the alarm system, the video surveillance, our neighbours and our alarm system we are hopeful we will come back to an intact home. If we don’t, well that is what insurance and good neighbours are for. My stomach flutters but we just can’t take the stick house with us.

We have also been getting all the other stuff ready. This means passports, medical insurance for travel, informing the government we are going so we still have health care when we get, getting the telephone and internet turned off, and letting the credit card companies and banks know we are leaving, and making sure the paperwork on the pets health checks and shots are handy for the border. I also renewed our KOA membership, our CAA, and our Pilot/Flying J cards.

Our plans are, as usual, mostly “we’ll see”. Dick will be attending a conference in Laramie Wyoming for one week. That is our only fixed date thing. From there we plan to go back a bit north and then west to Salt Lake city and then down the east side of Utah with a nice long stopover in Moab. I am really looking forward to seeing the National Parks in that area. Utah is the only state in the lower 48 we have never visited yet. From there we will cross northern New Mexico (maybe see some pueblos?), Texas, hug along Oklahoma’s southern border to see more of the state we fell in love with last spring, and then on to Florida and our winter home. The westward swing will make it an extra long trip but it will be another grand adventure for us.

We get asked about “camping” in the trailer in this weather. It’s not fun. It’s cold. We bundle up warmly and use a lot of propane for the furnace and we really appreciate our electric blanket, if we have a power hook up. We have found campgrounds open year round for the entire trip to warmer climes beginning in Minot, ND. The trailer has been long since drained of water. We will have to use the campground washrooms and showers until we get far enough south to allow us to get the water system going again. To do that, we need temperatures to only drop 2 or 3 degrees below freezing at night and then be up above freezing during the day. Checking the weather in both Laramie WY and Moab UT, it appears that will likely mean no water in the trailer until we get to Moab. Aside from need to use campground facilities for shower and other stuff, this means cooking and doing dishes can be problematic. I have some frozen quickie meals ready for the trip.

And so we will be off soon, ‘God willing and the creek don’t rise’, as they say down south. We will shortly transform from stick house people back to trailer people living  full-time in our trailer. I keep thinking of things that can go wrong or things that will prevent us from going. Considering these, my stomach is a flutter and I feel the stress.   The weather forecast is excellent. Will it hold? Our health is fine today. Will we get sick and have to stay behind? Will one of us trip and break a leg preventing our departure? Our truck maintenance and trailer maintenance is complete and up to date. Will something break down anyway? Will the cat go into hiding and delay us for a day as he has in the past? The little doubt and worry hamsters are running over time in my head.

We leave early Wednesday morning if all goes well. I hope you’ll join me on our latest grand adventure as tumbling tumbleweeds. And if you have tips for things to do and stuff to see, please let me know. I’d love to hear.

 

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

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It’s that time of year and we had a lovely pumpkin to make a traditional Jack-O-Lantern with. We decorated with some fun decorations for the kiddies and we have our treats ready! It’s not technically our holiday and we don’t really celebrate but we do like to give out candy and have a Jack-O-Lantern anyway in the interest of being good neighbours. This Jack-O-Lantern art also meant we had pumpkin seeds. Over the years I have tried lots of pumpkin seed recipes but about 15 years ago I found a really good one. The result is delicious roasted pumpkin seeds you can eat whole without taking the shell off.

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The first step is get your seeds sort of cleaned up. They don’t have to be perfectly clean, just mostly. Put the seeds in a pot and add a teaspoon of coarse salt with enough water to float all the seeds plus two inches. Bring the seeds to a boil and then simmer gently. You will need to simmer a long time until all the seeds have a clear cooked look. It takes about 45 minutes but you use the look of the seeds not the time to decide. How long the seeds need depends on the type of pumpkin you use and the ripeness. As you simmer, occasionally stir and the uncooked ones will show up as lighter. You’re ready to start baking when all the seeds are greyish and don’t float.

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In this image the seeds are about half cooked. Some are clear and have sunk down. Some are still floating. You can’t really over cook at this stage so keep simmering until they are all boiled and greyish. Don’t rush this step or you will have tough seeds.

Once all the seeds are soft and greyish, drain the water.  Add enough margarine or butter to generously coat all the seeds and spread them on a cookie sheet. They will be salty from the boiling but you can add more salt if you like. Bake the seeds at 350F until they are all dry and golden brown. Every few minutes stir them and spread them again. Be careful with baking and watch closely because you can easily burn them.

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This is what they look like as they bake. They will brown in spots which is why you need to keep stirring them or you’ll end up with burnt spots.

Once the seeds are all baked to a uniform golden brown they are ready. No need to shell the seeds. The outside shell has been softened by the boiling and you just pop them in your mouth and eat them whole. I have been told the seeds will keep for a long time prepared this way, but they never have lasted to the time we blow out the candle on the Jack-O-Lantern at my house. YUMMY! Happy Halloween!

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