Monthly Archives: October 2014

Sitting out a Manitoba Mauler

Manitoba Mauler

Oh wow! First there was the Colorado low, then the Alberta clipper and now…wait for it….The Manitoba Mauler.

Short Range Forecast Discussion
NWS Weather Prediction Center College Park MD
316 AM EDT Fri Oct 31 2014

Valid 12Z Fri Oct 31 2014 – 12Z Sun Nov 2 2014

***Major trough setting up over the Eastern U.S.***

***Arctic surface high settles southward into U.S.***

The weather pattern will get interesting as we head into the weekend as a
Manitoba mauler (a low pressure system coming from the Canadian province
of Manitoba) dives southward towards the southern Appalachians by Saturday
morning. This will result in the development of a highly amplified trough
over the East Coast and a strong surface low developing offshore. In
terms of sensible weather impacts, expect much colder weather by Saturday
with numerous showers, and accumulating snow in the higher elevations of
the Appalachians. Rain and windy conditions are likely for eastern New
England by Sunday as the offshore low intensifies.

Manitoba Mauler – how appropriate! Since Manitoba is flat and opens right up to the Arctic, a Manitoba Mauler is a cold front that quickly brings arctic air south and east pulverizing the eastern midwest of the USA. Today we have very high winds, freeze warnings, a high barely above freezing and a low predicted for about -3C, below freezing. It will take two days to pass and will officially end the growing season down here in southern Illinois. We caught up with fall on the trip here and saw many trees in brightly coloured autumn dressing.

We are safely tucked in at a full service campsite just north of Champaign called D&W Campground and RV park and it’s really a nice little place to sit out horrible weather. Super wide sites, friendly people, all the amenities. I plan on doing some vegging out, some writing and today make stew and bread. We’ll wait out the Manitoba mauler in Champaign, Illinois.


Safe in Black River WS

We awoke in Bertha, dressed got on our way and started the truck only to discover the gas tank was empty. We had somehow been relieved of a half a tank of gas overnight. No leaked gas on the ground and so we reported it to the local police. The very nice officer said Bertha has been having issues with attempted break-ins over the last few days and this fits a pattern. He was very upset and apologized profusely.

We picked up a tiny window alarm at Walmart that sets off a 120db siren if the wind is opened and we are going to rig it so it goes off if someone opens our little gas door. That should fix the parasite issue. We also stopped at a wonderful Amish/Old Order Mennonite country store and walked out with $50 full of old style pickles and preserves. Yum!

We then rolled by a nice little country town Goodyear and got the tire that was so bald it had gotten dangerous replaced. Somehow that didn’t get done before we left. With exchange it ended up being the same price as back in Canada. Then we drive north around Mineapolis through some very pretty country and got safely into Wisconsin. We are currently nestled into an empty spot in a Flying J between two other RVers as we plan on being on our way early in the morning. We have only done this once before but it was another 24 miles to the State Park and it was dark and I was beat. Lots of RVers stay at Flying J truck stops for quick overnights. I’ll write about the experience tomorrow. Next stop Milwaukee to visit my SL job boss and friend. This should be our last day of driving until 8:00pm. The rest of the trip is slower and has open campgrounds all the way along.

Update: The overnight at the Flying J was just fine. We took the advice we had heard from other bloggers and parked our RV next to other RVs and away from the big trucks. We also put our rig off the main entrance and exit. The result was not too bad for noise. We actually slept well. Mostly it felt very safe. It was weird because so many people were coming and going and yet I think that was why I felt safe. We had RVers on both sides. The truck drivers were all polite and the staff at the Flying J were friendly and professional. With so many people coming and going I think something like someone trying to siphon off our gas tank would be noticed by someone. The other bonus over a state park was we had really great internet. We saved the $22 fee for the electric only site at the State Park we had planned on staying at. We did pay the $10 dump fee Flying J charges and we filled up with gas before we left. That’s how they make their money I guess. So on the one hand a state park and more cost poor or no internet and frankly, this time of year, possibly the only ones around and an unsafe feeling with a pretty view and then Flying J with no view, lots of truck noises and safety. Savings $12 net. After getting to Madison WI we paused our trip to stop at camping world. I positively drooled over a camper that is the same size as ours but had a four foot slider and the size difference was amazing. The layout was also wonderful. The bedroom had a real door! We also renewed our Good Sam membership card because this gives us the dump fee at Flying J for $3 and saves us $7. We would only need to stay overnight at a Flying J and dump four times over the course of a year for it to pay for the membership plus we do occasionally shop at Camping World and that means a 10% discount. We will be doing the Flying J boon docking again. Who needs a fancy view when you arrive after dark and leave as fast as you can in the morning?

We are in Bertha

After a wonderful visit with Susan and Jim we drove to the USA, to Fargo and then southwest to a wee little town campground in Bertha Minnesota. $15 for a full service campsite is always sweet. Nice to run the water as much as I want after a week and a half of watching the flow.

Made it to Manitou

Susan showing off her workshop which is also the old school house on the home quarter. Her husband attended this old one room school house.

Wind was super nasty. It’s so unusual to have a south east wind on the prairie. Normally pulling the trailer I get 19-22L/100km but on this trip with a powerful head wind I got 30-32/100km and often could not get above 80km/h. The trailer handled well for all that. The new levelness makes everything fine. We are staying at the farm of ice’s former student and now colleague Susan Crawford-Young and tomorrow we hope to get out early and get over the line and into Minnesota and as close to Minneapolis as possible. Looking forward to hearing that Yankee twang. The forecast for Manitoba is snow for Tuesday so we are leaving right on time. I miss rapid City already, such a nice little town.


Susan was Dick’s student doing a Master’s in Engineering with him. She is now an salaried instructor with Red River Community College teaching science and also doing research. She has been successful in getting small grants which allow her to continue research she began with Dick as a Master’s student. This is her microscope.


We had breakfast with Susan before leaving Winkler for the USA.

Planned Fire Adds Morning Excitement


We awoke and were being lazy about getting going and we noticed this fire. Fortunately this was a planned burn. A local developer/builder is putting in a fourplex in this location. The house had been stripped of everything of value and then set on fire deliberately as part of a training exercise for the local volunteer fire department. It was quite the sight.

Attempts to Lure Grandma Back to Winnipeg.


My grandson Luke with his Mom, Ann on the day she became a fellow Canadian Citizen.

It’s hard when you are four years old and you don’t get the snowbird concept. I spoke to Luke on my telephone today.

“Grandma! You come here!”

“I can’t sweetheart, I am too far away.”

“But why? Grandma.”

“I hate snow, Luke. I need to stay away from snow.”

“You hate snow?”

“Yes, snow makes me sick so I stay away. I’ll come back after winter.┬áI’ll come back after the snow is gone.”

“But Grandma I miss you, You come here now!”

“After the snow is gone.”

Clattering sound as the telephone is abandoned. Running feet, then an excited voice.

“Grandma! I checked! The sun is out. The sun is shining all the way down to the ground! You come here now, Grandma! The sun is shining all the way down to the ground!”

Yes it is. How do you explain to a four year old that this bright sunny weather we are having is an anomally that will soon be over and freezing weather is just around the corner? Meantime I can enjoy the way the sun is shining all the way down to the ground right now.

It is hard being away from the kids and grandkids! Winter better arrive soon or I will lose the courage to stay away much longer.

Quiet Days in Rapid City Manitoba

Someone forgot to turn off September. I sure hope they don’t notice and turn it back on. The weather for October continues to be far warmer than October is supposed to be. I have some hopes that the third brutal winter in a row everyone has been forecasting might not happen after all. We have been spending the days writing up a storm with Chapter 3 of our joint book closing fast on a final form. Dick is working on my first draft of Chapter 4 now. Chapter 5 & 6 are in first draft and also await his touch. We have had to do a fair bit of review and consultation on the function of the protein septin and its role in the cytoskeleton and other fascinating stuff. I always find it amusing when Dick’s lack of basic biological training shows because it is the one area I can occasionally outshine him. Like all self taught experts he occasionally displays little holes in his background which I appreciate finding. I am almost always the student and he the senior mentor otherwise.

I have also gotten a lot more writing done on my very loosely biographical novel. (I say that because it started out as biographical but the characters are taking off in their own directions as characters so often do.) We had hoped to get the canoe in the water today, but those strong south winds bringing us such lovely warmth mean canoeing is not possible. Maybe tomorrow. Instead, for our exercise today we walked the local town trail to lookout hill. This is a typical small prairie town complete with typical prairie whimsy in the form of cowboy boots and skates pinned to a power pole on a village street with nothing there but an open field. This is a really pretty place and very nice to stay in. I saw a river otter from my window last night! At $90/week, it’s also $150/week less than the one Winnipeg campground that is still open and here there is not a whiff of the ubiquitous pig farm stench. Well worth it even if this campground doesn’t have cable.


The view from Lookout Hill Down to Rapid City Manitoba


Prairie whimsy.


The town has several very old historical buildings such as this one.


View looking up the valley with a large marsh on the left and the local golf course on the right. Rapid City has a fabulous golf course. I hate golf but the greenery is nice. The Canada Geese like the golf course too.

Rapid City Campground


We left our bog where we stayed two nights, and then went to Alonsa to visit our friend Harry and his wife and had a nice chat, cup of tea and catch up. We then went back to Kinesota for the fall supper and it was a fabulous country dinner of turkey stuffing and all the trimmings. We said goodbye to Stan and Louise with promises to see them again next year.


I helped with dishes afterward and Dick met up with some old friends. There were at least a dozen different salads and we feasted on. We left after dinner and drove to McCreary. The power was not on in their campground and everything was locked up tight but we boon docked there one night, topped our gas and propane, and then left for Rapid City. This little campground is as lovely as I recall from our stop last year. It is on the Little Saskatchewan River and there is a dam that creates the lake and a fish ladder to let the fish move upstream to spawn. Last year it was nice enough that we went canoeing and we likely will again. Today we were tired and it was too windy. The forecast is for continuing lovely unseasonable warm weather through to October 25th so assuming the weather holds, we will stay a week.


Our lovely little Rapid City camping spot.


October 17/14 Kinesota Visit

We departed Winnipeg after getting our fancy new toolbox installed. We had a slight problem with the spring support for the toolbox lid knocking on the wiring and cutting off power to our slider, rear stabilizers and electric breaks. I rearranged the wiring so it was tucked out of the way of the spring and the problem was solved. Before figuring out the source of the trouble I learned how to manually retract the slider. Very easy to do with the drill on the right part of the slider motor. We stayed the night in the little Langruth campground. We saw a black bear just outside of Langruth. We had trouble finding a garbage can in Langruth and we were told the new area bear was the reason.



We then went to Alonsa and checked out the cabin. It was fine. The place is very muddy though. We ran into our old friends Stan and Louise Asham who have retired to a small hobby sized farm in Kinesota. They used to have a big cattle outfit. Now they have about 100 acres, a few horses and a few chickens. Louise sure looks great after she had a serious illness and surgery this summer. Oh we had such a nice visit! It was so good to get caught up.


We stayed the night in Kinesota at their place and Stan and his brother Moose took Dick along fishing. They got quite a haul! As usual Dick scaled our share and cleaned them, then I did a final cleaning to fit all that fish into our freezer. We have about three months worth of fish. I cut off the tails and filleted some of the fish to make it fit after Dick was finished. I was cutting off the tail and the fish jumped in the sink nearly making me jump through the ceiling. Now that is fresh fish.


Our fish


We ended up with a whole bunch of mullet, pike and we had a pickerel fish fry that evening. After the fish were cleaned Stan (after consulting with Eldon Campbell who has a shop for such things) flipped our hitch receiver to level the trailer. It was so easy! I can’t believe that we went for five years without a properly level hitch and some advice from Eldon and Stan all of twenty minutes with me helping. Of course having the right power tools sure helps.


Before the flip. Note how low the hitch is relative to the trailer when the hitch is level. The result is the trailer rides low in front and the truck rides low in back. This also places strain on the axles. I kept bringing up this issue everywhere I went and they kept saying “Oh it’s fine, it’s fine”. It wasn’t.


Here we have flipped the receiver end of the hitch and checked the height measurements.


Finally the job is done and the truck now pulls a level trailer, no strain on anything. I can’t get over how it took five years to get that issue finally fixed and that a little farmer/country know how was all it took.

Before getting too impressed with our fish take a look at Stan Asham with his catch of the day.

THE fish

Problem: I miss my kids. Oh well only six months to go.

I Find Limitations On Telephone Service

We had an adventurous couple of days. We got all the assorted repairs completed on our trailer and left with everything working well. However we have developed some kind of a loose connection in the new wiring so we lost power to our slider and the rear stabilizers and the electric brakes on the trailer. I have isolated the faulty box (I think) and we have purchased another one. We figured out how to manually retract out slider and I already knew how to manually extend the stabilizers so no buggy. Since we have driven many miles before without our brakes connected that is not a buggy either as long as we stay on the prairie. We decided not to drive back to Winnipeg to get it repaired since I can do it myself.
Our cabin is fine, untouched by man or beast. It is very wet there and I got wet feet walking out to check the cabin. Our friends from Alonsa area Stan and Louise Asham invited us to park in their farm yard in Kinesota and that is where we are now. It was really nice to catch up on things with them. They are nice friendly people. We have a full tank of water and we can properly shower and then tomorrow we will likely return to our bog for another night. The forecast is rain so it will depend on how much and when. We had a lovely talk with much laughter. Dick went out to observe as Stan put his pickerel net out. Dick is planning on going out with him tomorrow to see what they catch. I am hoping that will will have some fresh tomorrow. Stan is a generous fellow but pickerel are special.
We are going to try to stay in the area until Saturday because there is a fall supper at Kinesota. It will depend on wet and weather. On the down side I discovered my FIDO telephone is not working outside of Winnipeg area so I can’t call the kids and chat as I expected to be able too. That is disappointing.