Monday, October 31, 2011

Arches National Park

We spent yesterday in Arches National Park. It has definitely moved to the top of the best places I have ever been. I truly loved our day there - words escape me that express the beauty of such a place on earth!

The one thing I didn't know about Arches was the steep road up into the Park. We could have dropped off our trailer at the Visitor's Center but hooking and unhooking is not on Derek's favourites list. Plus it was nice to have all our stuff with us as it allowed us to stop for lunch and coffee.

Although we pulled in along the road here and there our first stop was The Windows Section. The parking lot was very busy and so we parked in the lower lot. Therefore we walked to the Cove of Caves Double Arch and didn't go up to the North/South Windows. It was a nice - and hot - hike up and we got some great pictures.

Walking up to the Double Arch.

The Double Arch

Then it was on to the Delicate Arch viewpoint. It was a good - and fairly - strenuous hike up to the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint. You can hike up to the Delicate Arch but that would have been too far for us with Cassia in tow. We are also feeling the effects of the higher elevation, we were at 760 feet in Lytton, BC and now we are at approx. 6500 feet.

The arch at the top is Delicate Arch - there are actually people up there!

The 3 of us at the Delicate Arch lower viewpoint. DA is to the left of us.

It was a well spent day. This is what we came here to see and we thoroughly enjoyed our day - breathtaking. Like Carlsbad Caverns I wish that everyone would have a chance to visit this place.

Check our flickr site for all our Arches National Park pictures!

Today's Interesting Link: Since our camera could never do this place justice - please visit the Arches National Park website for great pictures.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Nampa, Idaho to Moab, Utah

Well it has been a big two days of traveling. We left Nampa on Friday about 11:30 - saying goodbye to our good friends there - sad to leave - BUT - wow have we seen a lot in the last two days.

We headed east on I84 down into Utah having stopped for supplies in Burley Idaho. We had a long day because we drove until about 8:30 pm. We usually don't like to do night driving but it was still cold and if you know this area you know it is best to travel on 'off' hours. Are there any 'off' hours along the Salt Lake City stretch? I don't think so. At Odgen we stayed on the I84 headed east. We planned this route a while ago in order to avoid SLC. We stopped for the night at a rest stop and had a surprisingly good sleep beside the highway sandwiched between the steady hum of two semi trucks.

Back on the road the next morning we continued along the I84 until the route 40 turnoff toward Heber City. HC seems like a nice town nicely situated by the mountains. It is a place we would have spent more time exploring if it was warmer. Alas just a quick walk around and back in the truck and on our way.

Parked along Main Street Heber, Utah

We followed route 40 to Duchesne and then south on the 191 taking us to Price. Now if you are looking on the map or know this area you are probably wondering what were we thinking taking this route. And right now on the other end I am saying 'who the heck knows'!!!! It seemed a good idea - avoid SLC - see some of eastern Utah. Mistake! My job as a route planner is as tentative as that of navigator. In my defense I did try to research route 191 prior to leaving Nampa. It was all going so well until we were on such a steep incline that we almost stopped. Have you had that happen before? NO FUN! We asked way more of our little truck then we have a right and yes the inside our our truck was pretty tense for a little while. I used this time to pray pray pray. Well we made it up and way back down and again and into Price where we picked up route 6.

Stopped for lunch along route 40.

Beautiful along route 191 though!

Went for a walk at a rest stop along route 6 - the first warmth we have felt.

Now this was a great pretty flat drive and we were feeling much better about things. After a brief stop in Green River along I70 we turned down the 191 and arrived in Moab just before dinner.

Our descent into Moab - yes through our dirty windshield.

We had read about a downtown boondocking spot in Moab behind a hotel so we headed there. We were happy to find a park nearby and went for a much needed walk.

Today's Interesting Link: Since we are in Moab - take a look around their website. A great little town - we could live here for sure to be near all of the outdoor activity - but - you would have to be ok with sharing your town - very very busy here with tourists!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Snake River Canyon - Nampa, Idaho

It was a beautiful day for a Sunday drive. Our friends J and K suggested a ride out to Snake River Canyon south of Nampa. It gave them a chance to go for a spin on their bike and for us to test our recently fixed truck out on the road.

We are excited to announce that our truck is almost finished. Mike has been great and spent Friday replacing our tie rods (which really needed doing) and our power steering pump. We just need to go get a front wheel alignment on Monday and we will be good to go. AND Derek finally solved our trailer break issue with a new magnet from the guys at Interstate next door and he did an oil change. So Tuesday we should be on our way east and south.

The trail to the overlook.

To get to the canyon today we traveled through a beautiful area of first hobby farms which gave way to larger scale crop and dairy farms. Soon civilization fell away to be replaced with open grasslands and sage - just what we like! The sound of nothing.

Cassia learning about the large birds found in the area.

The view to the left.

The view to the right.

From the parking lot it is just a short walk to the canyon overlook - much to the disappointment of Roofous who had to remain on his leash this time around. The view was magnificent with all of the fall colouring of the grasslands and shrubs - I love the golden colour of fall grass! The sun was warm on our backs - what a real treat for the end of October.

Cassia enjoyed climbing on the volcanic rock.

A man and his dog - gee Derek looks a bit scary here - ha ha.

Our good friends J and K on their bike. 

Just can't beat the USA for beer! Yes, we can great some really good micro brews back at home but the selection here is great as well. I am not the biggest beer drinker but like to try the unique. Derek found Harvest Pumpkin Ale from Blue Moon Brewing Company which is comprised of "vine ripened pumpkin and flavors of clove, allspice and nutmeg." It is pretty good - I like it -  but to be honest I cannot taste those flavors!

Today's Interesting Link: While cruising around the internet last night I happened upon 'Becoming Minimalist'  by Joshua Becker - I took a quick look around. The 2 articles I have enjoyed  most so far were are under the most popular posts category - 35 Gifts your Children will Never Forget and Why Fewer Toys will Benefit your Kids  - boy do I agree with him!!!

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nampa, Idaho - in a holding pattern

It has seemed strange these last few days to not post a blog entry - just as I was getting warmed up with our trip thus far. The problem is that when here at our friends - we seem to do a whole lot of nothing.....we stay up late and get up late and spend the rest of the time catching up on some tv and movies - we have become real couch potatoes. Cassia has a living room about twice the size of our cabin to run around and oh so many new toys and even a tent to play in.

In addition to stopping in to visit our friends here our other goal was to get some much needed work done on our truck - we need new tie rods and a power steering pump. Since the extended family here is mechanically inclined we figured that if we were going to hand over some $$ to get them fixed we may as well pass it on to someone we know.  Also, our friend J. has been called away on a job for 3 days - so just as we were starting our visit he has been gone. Although we are in the best of hands with his wife K. who is a very generous hostess!

Cassia enjoying a visit with the bunny.

Our friends live not far from the Warhawk Air Museum and Nampa Airport. This provides us with a nice area to walk to during the day and after dinner - particularly when there are some planes around. Yesterday on our way back 2 very large jets flew over us which we haven't experienced since our Holtville days last winter when jets and planes of all sorts fly over constantly. The other night when we were there we spoke with a local man who had just gotten out of a plane - he had just come from the Hell's Canyon area. He lives locally and works in the sugar beet industry.

I'm sure Derek would love to go for a ride!

For me this 'holding pattern' is no problem and it seems to have little affect on Cassia of course. I figure we have the next 6 months to travel and so a few more days wait is ok. The third member of our family however is a very restless type who can't wait to get back on the road. Utah awaits and in the back of our minds we are thinking about the weather - will it stay nice for the next while - is it going to snap cold? We are so looking forward to hiking around the Moab area that we are a bit restless to go there - me included.

Today's interesting link: I have recently found this really great site and thought to pass it on to all your travelers out there - I am sure we will be using it a lot! The mapquest gas price site - which gives national and local prices for gas. I have been using it to see what kind of prices we can expect during our trip. Since we go through so much gas it is something that is at the forefront of our minds - although nothing we can do about.

This just in from Travel with Kevin and Ruth - they suggest GasBuddy to check prices -  the Gas Price Heat Map is very informative.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Baker City to Nampa, Idaho

We truly had a great time in Baker City - as mentioned in the last post we woke up Sunday morning and went to see the historic downtown. We were really impressed with the historic buildings and houses which we viewed by walking a few blocks up and down main street.

Being Sunday everything was closed but we did happen upon the last day of a garage type sale in one of the large stone buildings.  Everything was free and so Cassia and I headed in to take a look while Derek spoke with the owner of the building on the sidewalk. It was neat to see inside the old building and I did find a book to take along with us.

Main Street Baker City, Oregon

My favouite house in the neighbourhood - the one on the left.

After that we headed back to the I84 east on our way to Idaho - losing an hour along with the way as we entered into the mountain time zone. We stopped briefly at the first Idaho rest area/visitor center thrilled to find free coffee and wifi.

We made good time to Nampa arriving around 2:30 at our friends place where we are currently enjoying their hospitality - good food, a queen size bed, a huge living room for Cassia to run around in, lots of toys, laundry and showers - ahhhhhhh - indoor plumbing. Not sure how long we will stay - time will tell! Rain is gone and sunny skies.

Today's Interesting Links: Just wanted to mention two blogs that we are following - both Canadian couples. The first is Kevin and Ruth who are in Mexico - a really valuable site for us to learn about rving in Mexico. The second is Trent and Teresa from Regina, Sask who are on their maiden voyage south for the winter. Check them out!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Soap Lake to Baker City, Oregon

Well - a double header today! Tonight we are at a truck/restaurant/hotel stop in Baker City, Oregon a great little place. We are parked in the Visitor Info parking and have picked up free wifi - how great is that! Arrival here was around 6:30 pm - we almost stopped at the rest area up the I84 unsure if we could find a place here (no Walmart) but found it too open and so figured we would keep going - glad we did.

False alarm with the last post - the truck started up fine at Soap Lake - we did have a bit of trouble again at the rest area just before La Grande - a very high elevation - around 4,000 ft. We believe the truck has problems adjusting to the higher elevation - we have had this problem before. For anyone who doesn't know and is taking the I84 through Oregon there is either a large climb or large drop just east of Pendleton - for us this time it was a huge climb.

A good day today - after Soap Lake we followed the 17 to Pasco and around the tri city area on the east side of the Columbia River - stopped for lunch along the Columbia in Oregon - sorry no pics. We then took the 37 to Pendleton. We took this route because it is a short cut to Pendleton - we only thought to take it since seeing it last spring when we went  through Hermiston - the longer way around. It was a good road - recently paved because it is an Evacuation Route. The rolling hills and large farms reminded us of Saskatchewan.

The nice thing about that route is that it took us right through downtown Pendleton to get to the I84. To date we have only seen Pendleton from the interstate. We were really impressed! It is a quaint, clean and historic looking city.

Here are the pics from today - a statue at the Soap Lake rest area, the sign from the truck stop here in Baker City across the street and the parking lot beside us with the lights.

Derek was looking at the visitor signs and reports about the history here and the walking tour along the river - we will do that in the morning.

Kelowna to Soap Lake, Washington

Well - here we are - we have officially started our trip south! It has been a crazy couple of days with so much to do before we crossed the border.

We left the park around lunch time Thursday and headed to Kelowna - Roofous got his rabies shot and we got our medical insurance and updated our truck/trailer insurance since they come due in November. We were going to spend the night at Walmart but decided to head downtown Kelowna to be close to the passport office when it opened first thing Friday morning. We picked up our passports early and headed out to Keremeos to pay for our storage and have breakfast and then headed for the border.

Once in the USA going south on 97 our first stop was Omak. Omak is the first stop in and the last stop on the way out since there is a Walmart Supercenter. We bought some groceries since we had little due to the border crossing, got gas at $3.749/gallon (about $1.00/L) and - yup - got smokes for Derek @ a wonderful (crazy to be saying that I know) $12.75/carton.

Our first official stop was at the Chief Joseph Dam rest area just north of Bridgeport. What a great spot! A playground for Cassia, nice washrooms AND a water faucet. A water faucet maybe not sound exciting but if we can find free water we are thrilled.

Last night we slept on the side of the road since it was getting dark - we thought we might be able to park at the Lake Lenore Caves but of course a no camping sign. This morning we are in Soap Lake. We stopped at the town dump station. We were headed out when Derek felt the truck slow - he pulled back in to the parking lot to check under the hood. What did he find! A whole bunch of chewed wires courtesy of the pack rats at the park! He has taped them together - hope the truck is running ok - stayed tuned!

Monday, October 10, 2011

it's a rich mans world.....

money, money, money......any other ABBA fans out there? So - if you have been to our site prior to this day you will notice some - um - slight changes to the look of things around here. I did it - I took the plunge - was thinking about it for a while - AdSense!

We see ads on other blogs/websites of course. Some we cringe at - some are ok. The designer in me wanted to wait until I could find the advertisers on my own and then carefully screen them for content and look. But - lets get real - I could wait a long long time for that to happen. And so - here we are - boy are we hoping that they at least look passable on our lovely site.

Who can pass over pretty much free money? It isn't much of course especially since our blog is so new, but who knows what the future may bring. Plus for us any sort of amount is better then nothing. We live on a very very small amount - approximately $20,000 a year, and so if we can make some extra with the blog I am up for it. I am hoping visitors to our site don't mind......

Advertising in my day.....

Our family can live on the money we make in the summer. However, to have a little extra would be wonderful for the extra things - we have a bit of a wish list for which we are saving up.

On that note - get ready for some shameful self promotion.... Derek and I are great designers and business idea people. If you check out teresa wood designs you can read up on me - a former Intern Architect and Derek a former landscaper/plantsman. We specialize in architectural, landscape and graphic design and do most of our work remotely through the internet. As most say - no job is too large or too small. Not so true - we don't do really large jobs - but we definitely love the small - get in and get them done - small jobs. Do you need a logo? a rack card or brochure? a small yard laid out or a home renovation? We are also happy to barter and trade! 

Drop us a line in the comment section or contact us at or through the website. Thanks!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

aren't you too young?

Ok - well since we still have our internet (life IS really good sometimes isn't it!) and everyone else here is either sleeping or sitting by the fire outside - I will take this biggy on. This is one of the posts that has been on my mind and I knew it was just a matter of time before I brought it up.

Well we may as well get on with it.

As you can imagine, with the work and type of travel we do, we meet a lot of people. And I mean A LOT. Many many more on the job then when traveling interestingly enough. Not Derek so much but I sure do since I am the one that does all the registering of campers at the two parks. So if you figure that I just worked approximately 145 days and probably average speaking to - say 40 people per day/night - thats a huge 5,800 people that I talk to. These are not all lengthy conversations and they aren't always just about us - but I do have to say that people are very curious little creatures and I do talk a lot about our lifestyle to the campers because - well - they ask.

 I suppose many look at me, figure I look pretty young for the job (since many seem to be older (read retired)) and are just trying to figure out how to make such a job/lifestyle work when they know that I only work 5 months out of the year.

Most start with - 'so, where to you live?' which automatically starts the conversation because when I say at the bottom of the hill in the cabin - you know what the next question is 'oh - all year?' to which I say - no - and off we go. Although there are all sorts of reactions I have to say about 85% of the responses are very very positive - as in - boy do I wish I could do that, what a great life, that's great, how wonderful, how great for Cassia and on and on. I then go on to say - 'well you can live like we do …… ' - but that is another story!

Here I want to address some of the other responses that we get - the dreaded 'aren't you too young for that?'

On a hike through the historic village of Tumco CA where we were boondocking.

We get this loaded question both while working and traveling.

To be truly honest I can kind of see where they are coming from. Snowbirding or taking the whole winter off to travel is generally something that only 'retired folks' do - right? But is that true even though it is a commonly held view? What about all those other people that have jobs that take them abroad. I guess that is different - the fact that we don't actually WORK during 7 months of the year is what gets people wondering I suppose.

When we first got that question I would sincerely and seriously construct an answer explaining how and why we live as we do. But what I quickly realized is that the people who ask this question just hold a very different view of life then I (we) do. Nothing I say is going to make them agree, change their minds and even just see my side of the issue.

And so to save myself the frustration, I now just wrap up the conversation quickly but politely and move on.

Cassia walking at Ironwood National Monument - boondocking - near Tucson, AZ.

I then proceed to continue that conversation alone on my way to or from the other park. As in I drive and come up with all the things that I wish I could say to defend our lifestyle and choices.

I say things like:

 - what 'are we too young to travel - to enjoy traveling - does that come with an age limit or is it only for the retired?'

- or 'are we too young to want to get the most out of life and really have some interesting experiences'

- or 'are we too young to live outside the box, colour outside the lines etc'

- or 'should we be like others and just go through life plodding along, punching the clock, children in daycare, at a job that you may hate, just to have a big house that the bank owns ($300-500 K in most urban areas of southern interior BC), a fancy car, ATV, Jet-Ski, big screen TV, credit cards, so on and so forth?'

- or 'are we too young to not want to keep up with the Jones or to realize home ownership is out of reach for a lot of younger people ?'

The days where you worked for a company with good benefits , home ownership was a reality and a secure retirement (entitlement generation) are becoming obsolete. Some individuals were able to sell a home for an over inflated price when the markets were good or they were part of the baby boomer generation and took early retirement with a healthy sum of cash and benefits, not so for everyone. The world has changed and not for the better, we have learned to adapt to the reality of a new world system.

Now you can see why I walk away from this question - 
because it seriously gets me pretty riled up!!

P.S. Reading this over now in the morning I think that I should add that Derek and I are generally thought to be in our mid 30's - 
 Derek is 46 and I am 41.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

not so fast - a bit of a delay

For some strange reason we still have internet and so I will take advantage of it now that all my end of the season bookkeeping is complete. As mentioned in the last post - TODAY - was our last day as PFO's for the 2 provincial parks we are at. We are now - between jobs - shall we say. We are coming back next year and so have employment in our future but not for 7 months. Of course we now must live on the money we have saved these last 5 months!

Our plan - which was one of many - was to head south on the 5th - with our first stop being Nampa Idaho. We have a meeting to go to on Monday and so figured that with one extra day for final packing we would be ready to hit the road Wednesday. But - not so fast. We have also been doing some research on entry into Mexico. You see, we have BC enhanced drivers licenses - which means we don't need a passport if we drive into the USA. They are a much more affordable option if one doesn't fly - like us. Initially we were just going to stay in the USA this winter and go to Baja next winter. However, last week we made the switch to then realize that we need passports.

Of course this is something we could have done this summer but now we will put in for them on Monday and wait around until they arrive. It isn't the end of the world - our schedule is our own. However, we really want to beat the cold and would like to visit Utah as long as we can in hopefully somewhat nice weather. We also won't have water here in the cabin where we live since it all gets shut down here and blown out. And did I mention that we are living in a construction zone? Last Monday work started here on some kind of water upgrade and we have been listening to a back hoe for the last week from 7:30 to 5.

On another note. We use On the Road In for much of our Mexico research - it is a great website with lots of info and also a travel buddy system which we plan to use this winter. Bill and Dorothy also have a facebook group for their site which we also find really helpful. In fact we used it to find out about our drivers licenses and Bill is that one that gave us the link. Anyway, they also have road logs and I was thinking that perhaps we should invest in one since they show Pemex (gas) stations and Topes (and take it from me when traveling in Mexico knowing where the topes are will make my job as tope watcher a whole lot easier). The one stumbling block we had with ordering a log was that we don't have a credit card - really - neither of us - don't have them - don't use them (another story right - right). Well if you can believe - Bill offered to send the log to me if we donated the amount to a Mexican charity when we are there. WOW! of course we can do that - how generous of Bill to propose such a solution - I was thrilled. It also got me thinking that we should bring some of Cassia's gently used items to donate as well - such as some of those stuffed animals I told you about last post....

Well this maybe the last post for a while - or it may not. We paid our internet until Sept. 29 and now it is Oct. 1 and it is still on. I think our luck can only last so long......
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