Friday, January 27, 2012

Alaska or die trying

I took a lot of photos, we have been driving through Canada. I dont have photos right now for most of that, I took a lot of pictures of the kids playing outside but otherwise I was wishing for somewhere a LITTLE bit warmer. It was -45 while we worked outside, on frozen pipes in Fargo, Nd. Little chilly.

Welcome to the Rockies. I think. Its a fuzzy sign, this was the sign welcoming us to the Northern Rockies.

OH CRAP! We are pulling a 40 foot trailer, our total weight for truck and trailer is 26,000 pounds. That is 3 zeros. Holy cow. This was the one of the big hills, but this was just skirting the Rockies. You should see the snow/ice on the road when we are really IN the Rockies. Though honestly, the roads were far less steep while in them. For 2 days.

And so we start down the hill. I took a lot of photos while we drove, hoping that if I died my mama could have my camera card at least. Many times we had sharp drop offs on at least one side, semi's in the other lane and icy/snowy roads. Also, sometimes while we drove down these, we could smell our brakes burning! There were many signs that said "Brake check" before a steep drop, then another "Brake check" at the end of that slope. Then, there were many signs that said "Chains on" then another for "Chains off" some period of time later.

Oh but look how pretty! So pretty. There were beautiful things to see and take pictures of. Some I will put on here but most I will put in my photobucket. Which is sadly, password protected. My mama will have the password but... I dont know the rest of you.

I took a lot of pictures today, we are in Whitehorse-the capital of the province Yukon in Canada.

In order to not forget, I will post these days here. Its all really a blur.

1. Left home on Friday 13th, January 2012. Drove to Omaha. Spent the night in Walmart Parking lot. Walmart encourages this, and even sends out the security guard to check on you. They like the business.

2. Saturday 14th, went to Omaha zoo. It was cold but not too cold. I crapped out first. Another night at Walmart. This day we had a exhaust leak and thus some carbon monoxide, from the generator. Frank fixed it but out of fear I was awake nearly all night monitoring.

3. Sunday 15th, woke up, started toward Fargo, Nd. Drove through Sd without noticing much. Stopped at a Flying J truck stop-RV friendly-just outside of Fargo. Slept.

4. Monday 16th, woke to frozen pipes. We had just taken care of this in Ks. Made plans to thaw pipes. Did laundry in a truck stop. It was -45 degrees. We spent 8 hrs working on the pipes. Outside. In -45 degrees. We thawed and wrapped them. I think I suffered some frostbite again as did Frank. On our fingers.

5. Tuesday 17th, woke in Fargo, brake controller failed. Spend time finding new one.Took the kids to a movie. One more night in Flying J parking lot.

6. Wednesday 18th, made it to the Canadian border. More problems with brakes. Pipes frozen again. Stopped in Regina, Canada. Spend the night in a safeway store parking lot. Cannot shower due to pipes.

7. Thursday 19th, woke up early,our dump valves were frozen so we could not dump our gray and black tanks. Drove 700 miles to Edmonton, Alberta. There were no RV parks open anywhere closer. We arrived at 5:55 at night, wonderful RV staff settled us in. Showered at the park showers. Gratefully.

8. Friday 20th, officially the 1 wk mark. We are tired, worn out. Had fun so far but had a lot of little things going wrong. Wake up in the RV park and did laundry, worked on thawing the pipes (again) finding all of our untreated problems. Cleaned house.

9. Saturday 21st, did more laundry. Again had good showers. They cost 1 loonie (1 Canadian dollar-it is a coin) for 4 min. A nice, hot, 4 minutes. Insulated underside of RV. Its -24 and the RV guy seems pleased. The temperature feels great to us. Took the kids for a long walk to a frozen lake and a summer horse paddock full of snow.

10. Sunday 22nd, went to a local RV guy to buy a new water pump. Ours is now working intermittently. The guy is great, he should have come along for the rest of the trip to help us with all the injurious wrongs that our RV does to us. His name was Erwin, we liked him right away.

11. Monday 23rd, woke early to pull the umbilical cord. I was already attached to this RV park, these people, the electricity, the extra heaters I can run, the staff that interact with my children by choice, the beautiful weather. The people. The way they say "Eh" all the time. Hmm. Ok. So anyway, we pull out after an HOUR of getting everything put away, hitched up etc. We have NO TRAILER BRAKES AT ALL. I dont mean our brake controller failed, I mean, NO brakes. So back to Erwin we go.

This needs a new number right????

We spent all morning with Erwin, paying (to us) very little in return for help, warm shop area to use, an interesting time with a new friend. I was sad to leave and took his card to email him updates. He texted to check on us a few hrs later and we had a conversation that means he liked us too and would like to have had longer to hang out. We arrive in Grande Prairie Alberta, happens to be our new friend's home town. We spend the night in a Walmart parking lot.

Tuesday 24th, leave Grande Prairie and head for the Rockies. We are actually skirting them today but it is very We think we are going to get away with no problems today, it would be a first for our trip. But... no. We have a blow out. And have to stop, on the road. We actually stopped to check headlights and found that the reason a trucker flashed his lights at us, some time ago, (50 miles) was because we had a blow out. Because we have 3 axles we didnt even feel it. Several truckers stopped. My fingers have lost feeling. I ask a trucker, do you know what the temperature is? "Yeah, I think its about -20 before the windchill eh?" Well that isnt too bad. We roll into a RV park in Ft Nelson, British Columbia. It is closed for the day but we called ahead, they said pick a spot. Snow is well deeper than my knees. Pipes are frozen. Again. Easily thawed in a few minutes.

Wednesday 25th, regrouping time. Just stay put for the day, doing laundry, hanging out in a really neat town that I would adopt and live in. It was a marvelous, rough, sort of grubby looking tiny town with 1 small grocery store. The fuel station had a Chinese fuel jockey. His name was Sihng. Clean house, solve more small issues, fold laundry, it is -40 degrees here.

Thursday 26th, we head out early, cannot dump our tanks because their dumps are frozen. We leave and start toward Watson Lake, British Columbia. It is only about 250 miles, but we spend the whole day. We have one flat tire and we are nearly killed, I try to wave a trucker around but he continues speeding towards our RV. I know my children are buckled in, and know I might make it when I start to run but my husband will not. I am yelling at him, "The trucker is not slowing down!!!" Unknown to me, my husband sees this and is hurrying towards the front of the truck, knowing he isnt going to make it and the trucker swerves around. Last minute. Insanity. We continue on, there are no emergency services out here at all. In the dark, with drop offs and snowy roads I think of this for a bit. Then I stop thinking because that is bad. We stop for fuel at a station before Watson Lake which boasts cheaper fuel than Watson Lake. We find he was lying. Sleep at a small fuel station in Watson Lake all night.

Friday 27th, wake up in a parking lot. Okay. Now, I am tired of it. It is 5:30 in the morning. I am tired of all of this. We drive to Whitehorse, Yukon today. During the drive, our problem (minimum 1 a day) is that our propane runs out and we find our pipes frozen at lunch. We arrived to Whitehorse and find one RV park open, they offer only electricity (no dump no fresh water available) but showers are free. We shower here to conserve our tanks.

We have about 700 miles to go. Tomorrow we leave for Tok, Alaska. We hope to make it, its 400 miles but a lot of rough terrain and its -39 degrees. Fun fact-our hair freezes when we walk back from the showers. After Tok, we are about 300 miles from our destination. We know this last bit may take up to 4 days at if the roads are poor. Which, they are. They are riddled with frost heaves, often covered in snow, steep and windy. I am glad he does the driving! I learned to drive in the States, in South Dakota I believe. I mean, I can drive, and pull a trailer but I mean I pulled this beast. It wasnt bad, but I dont want to do it on ice.

Lots more pictures to come. Right now, I am tired. I am in survival mode. It is a fun trip, we are having a blast but I am one tired mama at this date.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Best and Worst Wednesday

Best part about next week? We are moving to Alaska!

Worst part? I am leaving one of my best friends in the world here in Ks and my heart aches from that sadness.

Best part about my truck being broken? My husband is a mechanic.

Worst part? No matter what he (and other good mechanics do) the left front tire STILL pulls to the left causing uneven brake wear and poor fuel economy. Been working on it for 3 wks and still... a problem that he/they cannot understand.

Best part about homeschooling? My kids are still in bed.

Worst part? We havent started school... its late!

Best part about being able to sew? The savings, the tailoring, the perfect fit, fabrics and patterns that I love.

Worst part? Getting up, getting started or not having any clothes. Its a rough way to go.