Friday, 27 April 2018

...not so fast

Okay so on Sunday I learned that my step-mother was in hospital (lungs). It was not a good prognosis. I was waiting to find out what was happening so that we could make a decision about whether I needed to go out there (Ontario).

Finally on Monday when I called the hospital, I was able to speak to her nurse directly and could hear my step-mother in the background sounding strong, the nurse said that she was doing much better. I spent Tuesday trying to reach my Dad and/or the hospital to no avail... trying not to panic over here people!

Wednesday when I called my Dad to find out what was happening, someone answered... my step-mother! Wowsers.... Okay. So she had been released, whew! All was relatively okay.

Thursday while I was driving out to my brother's to pick up the dog food I had forgotten, my step-mother called.... MY DAD is in the hospital!!

WTF People?!?!

After waiting all day to hear from doctors, they finally diagnosed the problem with Dad and a specialist was coming to see him that day (Thursday). He was going to consult with the other doctors and they would decide what to do.

Today (Friday) I find out Dad has been admitted and they are going to operate... but wait, they had been feeding him clear fluids... thats a no no apparently... so now as of typing this, we still don't know what is happening. Dad assures me that it is not life or death and that the doctors will sort it out. No need to come out there, "even if your sitting beside me" he says, "there is nothing you can do".

Well, frankly I beg to differ. I can be quite the pain in someone's ass if I want to be - ask Brad. But okay, because we have so much going on already at the moment I have conceded to wait and hope these people know what they are doing....

However, they originally said it was a problem with his bladder and now are referring to his kidney... does not instill confidence... I told Dad to make damn sure they knew what organ they were dealing with before he lets them so much as cut his nails....

On a good note: The engine is fixed, sort of. It runs but doesn't sound right... after a whole lot of hullabaloo we determined with the help of our new OBD2 reader, that it was the 'cam shaft positioning sensor'... naturally, it is Friday... earliest one we could find arrives Monday.

I swear to God, I can't make this shit up.

More on Monday, I'm taking the weekend off - Damn it.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Back to our regularly scheduled program...

So I haven't posted for like a week and a half... hey, I've been busy... family can be high maintenance, what can I say... it's always a mad house when we first arrive.

Max and Maggie watching out the window, so cute.

My good son Carey (youngest good son), fixed the blinker on the car he's letting us use.

BBQ at my youngest son's, L-R: Kelsey, Royce, Carey and Lee's (oldest good son) arm.

6 years ago my oldest son Lee joined the Army and I said I would send him a care package with homemade cookies.... I never did... he's never stopped bringing it up, so the other day - I made him cookies... they were good for an hour and then hard as nails.

Today I went to my Mother-in-Law's to redo her dryer vent... it was on the list... the old vent was white plastic and literally dangling by a string.. Don't know who did that, but I replaced the whole thing with some proper aluminum vent hose and a few elbows. The old one had no elbows just a lot of bends, not the best idea for a dryer vent... Anyway, that's done.

So after much ado, Brad and I have decided to take the loss on the FJ... you may recall that as well as having to fix the Jeep, we also had our FJ back 'home' put into the shop since Brad had to go back there anyway. We were hoping he would be able to drive it back, and bring some stuff with him. Unfortunately, yesterday we found out the work it needs (new transmission = $10K CAD) far breaches the value of the vehicle itself, so... that's that. He and Robbie are flying home on Thursday.

After a week and a half, it will be so awesome to have him and Robbie back. Being together for 13  years now and having spent the last 7 months in an 8' x 30' box together, it has been weird not having them around. Even after the last 7 months, I miss them.

So Brad had to go back 'home' because he got a subpoena for a court trial. Once he got there and learned that another witness was not there because he was 'out of province', I wanted to hit someone! That's another story who's day has not yet come... 

I hope that one day I can tell the story of our life the last 8 years... I've tried to get him to write a book, without any success to date. Perhaps if he won't write it - I will. It's incredibly hard to believe but well worth the telling. Just not yet.

My brother returns tomorrow from his first ever week of nights... our family doesn't do night shifts well, so he will need to get himself back on schedule, not sure when he will get at the Jeep but genetically we are prone to 'just get at it' so I'll be interested to see if he's adopted... LOL  (spitting image of our father, so that's just a joke)

I will be moving in to my Mother-in-Laws tomorrow, no idea for how long... Brad and I haven't even attempted to discuss that yet there has been so much else going on. I cancelled our rental of that site in Alberta because we just didn't know at the time what was going to be happening. It looked like a minimum of 6 weeks to replace the FJ's transmission and we just couldn't continue to pay for a site we weren't able to use. Huge apologies to the folks we rented it from, I feel terrible about it but at the time it was all we could do. 

We are going to have to do some serious buckling down when he gets back and figure out just what we're going to do between now and November... and residency will be a huge part of that.... gonna be a long summer.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Jeep fix - Day 2

So the boys got to work first thing yesterday. It took all day but they managed to get the cylinder head off.

Brother David with Brad in background

Brad on left, oldest son Lee on right

The Cylinder Head

Cleaning up the piston thingy

We got a call from the wreckers who had said they had a cylinder head for us, seems once they removed it (this particular wreckers does that part for you), the bloody thing was cracked. So urgency kicked in and we (I) set about trying to find another one... new ones are around $1500CAD so that was out of the question. Finally got a return call at the end of the day that someone could get one, if they order it today (Friday) it would be here by Monday..... order it we did! 

Once the boys were finished for the day my Sister-in-Law had a really awesome Chicken Pot Pie ready that she had spent all day cooking. I don't usually like Chicken Pot Pie but... damn it this one was really good.

Karynne - Sister-in-Law

So now we are on hold for the weekend. Good news is that my youngest son, Carey has an extra vehicle we can use until the Jeep is sorted. Such a good son! Today, Brad and I are going over to visit the Grandkids and take them some presents we picked up in sunny California... 

My brother has to go out of town to work this week - for a week, not sure what day so I have no idea when we will get back at the Jeep.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Jeep fix begins - Day 1

We got the Jeep to my brother's and the RV parked at Campland RV Resort where they allowed us to park beside their shop for $30 even though they haven't opened for the season yet... Thank you soooo much to them.

My brother arrived back from working out of town, just as we were offloading the RV and right after supper, which was soooo good, he got at it... removed the rad and did a bit of tinkering with the Jeep. 

Today the big work begins... Brad was up in the night with his nasal congestion again, not the best thing when you have a CPAP machine... so he isn't up yet and Dave (brother) is getting antsy, so I'm going to run into town with him to get the parts and stuff we (he) need. 

Originally, I had planned to do this job but it appears that Dave has taken full control of it and God knows, I'm okay with that... and Brad is not mechanical at all.... so.... Dave is our hero for this kerfuffle.

Dave and Brad

Robbie watching the men do the work.

Well, time and my brother wait for no one... so I better get beautified.... my auto parts people await...

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Snowy Saskatoon

It was one hell of a long day yesterday, but we managed to get to a Walmart in Saskatoon around 7pm... 10 hours of driving.... while not unheard of for us, the Prairies are difficult  to drive as it just drolls on and on and on.

My oldest son (Lee) came out to visit last night for a couple of hours and it was sure great to see him. He is a techy guru kind of guy so much so that he did it in the Army and now does it for a living. He has invented some kind of gizmo that is welllll above my paygrade and is starting his own company to get this thing into the marketplace. Don't panic it's not something else you'll have to carry around, it's for businesses. I couldn't tell you what it is if I wanted to, like I said... it's over my head and I consider myself a bit of a techy too. Anyway, we wish him luck with it, he certainly seems to know what he needs to do to get it marketed. He has patents and is searching for investors already.

My youngest son is working out of town for the next week or so, his job is something about nuclear x-rays... again, above my paygrade... So I won't be able to see him for awhile but his wife and my Grandkids are close by and while I don't think I'll get to see them today, I will certainly see them tomorrow.

We found a spot btw, at a campground. It isn't open yet because it's too bloody cold up here. In fact it is snowing as I type this... supposed to snow all day. This is not good when we need to move our RV around the city but we'll just have to make do. -5C (25F) at the moment, going to a balmy -2C (28F) this afternoon. At least we are off the highway for the most part. Just made it here before sunset last night but so glad we didn't have to stop in Davidson and finish the trek to Saskatoon today in all this snow. By the time we're beautified and ready to roll, hopefully the roads will be sorted out.

So, the plan for today is to pick up some mechanical stuff, tow the Jeep out to my brother's acreage, winterize the RV and park it at said campground. I tried to find an RV storage place but everything is full, the only guy who answered the phone told me. I must have called a dozen places who didn't answer the phone before finding this campground that also answered. They are not open yet, had hoped to open April 8th but there is too much snow. When I explained the situation they graciously said we could park out by their shop. So that is what we will do. Thank you sooo much. Now to find a Napa that we fit into...

My brother has a new puppy- Max, in addition to their old dog Maggie so Robbie will have fun out at the acreage. These dogs are much bigger than Robbie so this should be interesting....

Huge kudos to my family for stepping up when we need them with this damn Jeep. We really appreciate the help everyone. So it looks like myself, Brad, brother David and oldest son Lee will be sorting this Jeep out... just praying it all goes smoothly so we can have a vehicle to drive around. Of course this doesn't solve the whole lift kit problem for the federal safety we need done... but that's another problem for another day.

Brad is still a little testy but all in all he is pretty much back to his old self... just hope he holds it together for this Jeep repair. When I think of all the stuff we've had to deal with while he did this final reduction of his medication... Oy, Veh! The worst possible timing. Of course, had we known that any one of these things would occur he never would have reduced when he did but hindsight is 20/20... He is definitely not completely over it (6 weeks later) but getting closer all the time.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Just Empty Every Pocket


So we finally got across the border back into Canada without any kerfuffle at the crossing. Arrived in Lethbridge and dropped the Jeep off at a mechanic to have the radiator replaced. We didn't mention anything about how it happened or that we were unsure about the head gasket.

Couple hours later, guy calls. Major oil leak behind engine. Head Gasket needs to be replaced... the prize for this? $3500+ CAD. So we are scrambling right now as we need to tow the Jeep out to my brothers acreage in Saskatoon so we can do the work ourselves (family included). Problem? He doesn't have room for the RV because of all the snow piled up on our parking spot.

RV won't fit at any of our relatives places, so Brad suggested we call a friend. Friend thinks we may fit at her place... waiting for confirmation from her husband at the moment. Fingers crossed.

We've rented this site in Sundre for the entire month of April and the rest of the summer.... but scheduling getting there is becoming a thing.

We had intended to go straight to Sundre, safety both vehicles for Alberta, winterize the RV and drive the Jeep to S'toon where Brad flies out to go back home for a few days to take care of some business....

Parking the RV in Sundre is not an option without a car to get to stoon and the Jeep is in no condition, without a rad and a blown head gasket to drive.... so tow the Jeep we must, now just to find a place to park the RV!

If anyone knows anyone with room for us to park her in the Saskatoon area - remember we only need 30 ft, pretty please let us know...  we won't be living in her, just need a place to park her is all.

Helena, MT

We made it to Helena, MT rather uneventfully. There were a couple of minor blizzard spots but otherwise the trip here was smooth sailing.

Snow means we're almost home

Up top between the mounds is a massive statue that I assume to be Jesus
Butte, MT

Spent the evening relaxing, played some cribbage and finished off the last of our coolers we're sure they won't let us take across.

Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and puts him in shot of Canada.

Almost home. Can't wait. Finished the very last of my Tim Horton's French Vanilla mix yesterday so I can't wait to get across and get me a cup of Ho's,

I was up at 6am this morning, getting in the shower shortly, hoping to get to the crossing before too many people aggravate the border guys.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

It never rains - Tornado Warning

So we arrived yesterday mid afternoon at the Walmart in Idaho Falls, ID. We relaxed and settled in for a long evening because this is the warmest stop. We are trying to stay as warm as possible as long as possible. Tonight's stop is (was) expected to be below freezing, now in fairness I haven't checked it this morning, but last night it had changed to +2C....... weather knowers!

Before leaving our resort I had made some chili for the road so I heated that up with some fresh buns I grabbed at Walmart when we arrived. The dishes were done and we were relaxing with a deck of cards to continue our Crib tournament (he's beating me terribly).

My iPhone beeps with a weather alert... Tornado Warning! What?!!! Holy, we're in an RV!! This can't be good.....

I grab the passports, the dog and the husband (maybe in that order, maybe not) and we rush out of the RV and split up to begin knocking on RV doors (about 15 at that early hour) to let everyone know in case they hadn't got the alert. No one had. We all go into Walmart to watch out the tire department window and prepared to run to the pillow department if things went south.

The storm lashed us pretty damn good with really high winds, tons of rain and a solid ground cover of dime size hail. No damage to the rig that we know of at this point but we still need to check on the solar panels once I get beautified. Nothing happens until I'm beautified.... and I don't get beautified until after my morning coffee.

From the southwest

Downpour turns to hail


In the end, everything turned out okay but that was quite a fright - for me, at least. Not a panic fright just a "what the hell are we going to have to deal with now" fright! 

So we are still on schedule for crossing on Monday at this point but today we get into Montana and we all know Montana in April isn't known for sunny skies. Wish us luck.

Now, I beautify.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Two Vehicle Issues and Great Friends

We were at the mechanics at 9am yesterday morning for our RV Oil Change and were on our way by 10:30a.m. Very impressed with Redland Repairs in St. George, UT. I let them know we were travelling when I booked the appointment and they made sure that we were taken care of quickly and without fuss so we could get on our way. Much appreciated that.

But then... our Jeep exploded. We were driving down the highway a couple of hours later and suddenly I hear a POP, look at the rear camera and see all kinds of something something coming out of the Jeep hood. "Pull over, Pull over".... sure enough the radiator had blown a huge hole in the top... it seems, although we can't be sure, but we think the 4X wasn't properly set into Neutral and from what I can gather that means we likely blew the head gasket as well. I can't recall if antifreeze is oily but what was all over the Jeep was oily. I will be taking a good look under the hood now that we are stopped at a Sam's Club and not on the side of a highway.

But then...  half an hour later, we stopped for gas at the Love's truck stop in Cedar City, UT. I was able to pay at the pump which was quite the coup for me (I"m so excited about the little things), but when we went to leave... nothing. It wouldn't turn over or even try to turn over, just nothing. WTF?!?! Brad suggested calling Redlands in case they had touched something and forgot to untouch it.

Spoke to Dan who did our oil change and no he hadn't touched anything like that. He knew a guy in Cedar City and called him to come to our rescue. Which we thought was fantastic! Now keep in mind we are sitting at the gas pump with the unuseable Jeep attached and now the RV won't start. An hour later the mechanic showed up, he sourced the problem at the Starter... he left to see if he could find one... Brad also made some calls but could only find one in Salt Lake City (3 hours away)... Just as I was texting our (relatively new) friends in SLC to see if they would consider driving it down to us (otherwise we had to wait until Monday (when we are expected to cross, paperwork included)) the mechanic comes speeding up and he has a starter! Holy!

Also, while the starter was being put on Dan from Redland Repairs called to make sure we were being taken care of and that everything was okay.

So after sitting at the pump for 2 hours (and $400US) we were on our way. I found a new spot to stop, since we lost 2 hours drive time, right in Salt Lake City where our friends live just minutes down the road. Super bonus for them as they were going to drive an hour each way to see us at our previously designated stop for the night.

Bob & Barb picked us up from Sam's Club and we went to a pizza joint (California Pizza, I think but not sure). So great to see them again, they have 2 months booked at the Ranch next year so we're looking forward to that. It was great to catch up with them and a nice relaxing evening that was much needed after the day we had.

Bob even picked up the bill. Super duper nice couple and we absolutely love their company. Big thanks to you both.

Barb & Bob
Friends Extraordinaire

Friday, 6 April 2018

Headed Home

Well the last few days have been a whirlwind getting everything ready for our return trip home to Alberta.

Karen and Dave abandoned us to go on a little holiday in Sedona...., we had to make sure all the paperwork was in order for the Jeep export, organizing the rig of what we were taking and what was staying, cleaning the rig, prepping the site and saying goodbye to all our new friends. Thank you one and all for such a great winter!

Visiting with Terri & Richard

We planned to pull out at 9am so 930am wasn't too bad, we knew it was going to be a loooong drive yesterday to get to Saint George, UT where we have an oil change booked this morning. What we didn't know was that it would be 36C in Las Vegas! Wowsers.

I managed to catch a pic at 33C


Las Vegas

'The Strip' just off the highway

Helping Daddy drive

We had supper here at the Cracker Barrel where we spent the night and even with the highway traffic and the city ordinance issue we managed to sleep through the night. I did have to put the fantastic fan on during the night though because it was sooooo hot.

Today we are getting the oil changed in the rig and heading towards more friends - Bob & Barb, perhaps you will remember them from the Ranch a couple of months ago.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Oceanside and Earthquake

We made it to Oceanside the other day, got to splash our tootsies into the Pacific, Robbie is not keen on water. We got some shopping done for the Grandkids, too. It was a cool and relatively dreary day but we enjoyed it nonetheless. Probably more than if it had been too hot actually. We left the heat behind here at the resort and Dave & Karen were enjoying it to the fullest and rubbing it in at every opportunity via text.

Setting up for Easter service

Go Cart rentals

Plenty of people enjoying the beach

Lots of people enjoying the Ocean

"Please stand back. We are wild brown pelicans. We bite stupid people."

Betty's restaurant at the end of the pier.

We went for lunch at Betty's at the end of the pier and unfortunately we were sorely disappointed after a 25 min wait. The Cod was so tough and chewy, I literally couldn't cut it with a knife. Brad complained, that tells you something - I've earned a reputation for complaining over the years and Brad fusses that I'm too picky, so I didn't say a word.

Brad is more and more himself the last 2 days, even the neighbours have noticed a difference so its not just wishful thinking on my part. Last night they invited us over to sit around their fire pit and we had a great visit with them.

Except for the EARTHQUAKE!. A 3.7 just 8 km NE of Aguanga. At first we all thought it was a vehicle hitting something, an earthquake certainly wouldn't have been MY first thought. But an Earthquake it was. Rumbling beneath our feet and everything shook. We were under Karen and Dave's buildout so it was more pronounced I think. Dave was untangling Cooper (dog) and he didn't feel it - there's just no explanation for that! 

Dave & Karen are heading out today for a few days but will be returning at the end of the week, of course we expect to be gone by then so today is goodbye until November. Sure will miss them, they have been great friends and very patient and supportive while we suffered through the hell we've been through the last 5 weeks or so. Thank you both.

I have to make some calls today and see if I can push our departure date back a couple of days. The weather at our destination in AB is just too cold and a few days will make a big difference. I have the oil change booked and our 'export date' for the vehicle is set so I need to see about changing the schedule.