Saturday, October 30, 2004

Memphis ...

You hear “Memphis” – you think Elvis Presley & Graceland, B.B. King, The Wiggles.

Huh? The Wiggles?

Yes, it’s true. In the land described as the birthplace of rock ‘n roll and soul music we saw the children’s group The Wiggles at the FedEx Forum.

Fortunately we also made it to Graceland & the famous soul-music Beale Street. Tomorrow we’re off to Nashville. We have no plans for what to see in do in Nashville except we’ve learned that the Jack Daniels Distillery is only an hour outside of Nashville (in Lynchburg) and after spending an afternoon with The Wiggles we’re wondering if they offer J.D. samples.???

Seriously though, even Todd had to admit that the Wiggles were OK and Toria particularly loved them. She was dancing and waving and yelling with the 5-year-olds. Tomas’ keeps talking that they drove their ‘Big Red Car’ onto the stage.

(Don’t have a child under 5? – The Wiggles are 4-grown men from Australia who dance, sing, and do actions with the help of Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus, & (my personal favourite) Captain Feathersword. Think “Barney” as a person with more class).

Graceland was well, Graceland. Gave our respects to The King of Rock ‘n Roll. Tomas & Toria loved the pink Cadillac and the Lisa Marie airplane.

We were also rewarded with great weather again (+28C/~85F) today and took advantage of hitting a few balls at the driving range. Loving it!


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Greetings from the St. Louis Zoo

Hi there.

When the blimp is up over St. Louis for the World Series – look for us – our RV park is right next to the Mississippi river across from the Gateway Arch (next to the Stadium)! We’re not attending any of the games but the town is awash in red and lots of fun is to be had, by all.

In other news, we spent yesterday (October 25) at the St. Louis Zoo where it was 80 degrees F (around 25C or 26C) the trees are just starting to turn colour and we all wore shorts and t-shirts. Tomas wants me to say that the best part of the zoo was the “Elephants with their long trunks. They put the trunks in the water to pick up leaves and then they ATE the leaves”. Toria slept through the elephants but was very intrigued when she was brushing the goats.

Our connectivity is intermittent so I must go but we’ll keep you posted whenever we find a connection. Maybe at our next stop… Memphis. Maybe, I’ll have to pull out some Blue Suede Shoes.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Fun in the Quad Cities

Prayer to mother nature: Take your snow and shovel it back north. Yes, we left Regina on Monday only to encounter a small blizzard in the city. I won’t bore you with the details but suffice it to say that for 6 hours through to the far side of Minot it was snowing! Hello! Did someone forget the memo that we’re going on our BCT (Big Camping Trip) and weren’t supposed to see snow this year?

Anyway, made it through North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa and while the temperatures aren’t ‘normal’ we can certainly handle +14C. When we finally drove out of the snow and ice we joked that we never thought we’d be so happy to see +7 C and raining…. At this point we were so excited about the weather that if you didn’t know where we were and just heard us talking you’d have thought we were in the tropics.

As for sightseeing, so far it has been fairly limited as we’re still trying to get east and south before the snow catches up to us again.

We did, however, tour the Winnebago Industries plant in Forest City, Iowa which was nice. They certainly have quite a system for putting together their motorhomes. Tomas and Victoria were given Winnebago Motorhome trading cards – you can’t imagine the excitement. They also had to wear safety goggles. One size does not fit all. You could’ve put 2 of Toria’s heads’ into the goggles. As for Tomas, he looked like he was playing ‘peek-a-boo’ – he had to use both hands to hold them up and then he couldn’t see where he was going! Memo to self: buy children’s safety goggles if planning on future factory tours.

The kids have been great – we’ve put in some long days of driving but they’ve been fantastic. We’re on day 5 of our trip and have played 100 games of eye-spy. With 177 days to go that means… well you can do the math.

When we left Forest City you pass consecutive towns called ‘Fertile’ and ‘Manly’ – there has got to be a good story there. Of course, in the nearby town of Elmore (pop. 735) the fire station shares the same building as the liquor store.

I had better sign off but if you’ve ever wondered how tall the corn is in Iowa – I can tell you that you could use the dually truck in a field.

Oh yes, future travels: Currently we think that we’ll spend 3 days in Moline, Illinois/Davenport, Iowa (side-by-side towns) to visit the John Deere Factory and relax a little before heading to St. Louis on Sunday.

Cheers -- Carmen

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Snowbirds have ... eeek!... SNOW!

Seven hours, yep, 7 hours was all that we were late but it was at 11:00pm on October 15 that the snow began falling and 5:55am that we hit the dusty, err, snowy trail. So much for avoiding the snow for the 2004.2005 winter. Oh well, I guess it wouldn't have been snow without at least one snow angel.

Nonetheless, we made it to Regina (which is where we are now) visiting great-grandparents and grandparents. And big surprise - it is now snowing here. We arrived late last night and plan to make it into North Dakota tomorrow.

Alas, I must go and move the laundry along. This is our last night of free laundry and loooonnnngg showers for 6 months.


Thursday, October 14, 2004

Final Stages of Preparation

We have been working frantically to get our trailer packed and empty the job jar so that we can leave on Friday.

We had a few last minute setbacks on the truck, so we may have to wait until Saturday to get on the road but that's OK too. We are watching the forecast carefully to make sure we don't have to drive through a snow storm. So far, so good.

We found a small fuel leak on our truck that had to get fixed. We installed a 300 litre "Supertank" so that we could avoid filling up with the trailer hooked up and it wasn't installed correctly, so I had to get up at 4 AM for a run down to the installer in Calgary. Went great until the inevitable traffic jam on the Deerfoot but the tank got fixed and I got back at 3 PM.

We worked late in to the evening on our preparations. The yard, garage and truck are all ready and we need to finish up inside the house today. We have not run out of storage in the trailer yet but judging by the mountain of stuff Carmen has piled up, I am sure we will run out.

Oh well, one or two more days and we will finally be underway. Off to wake Carmen up ...

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Sunday, October 10th -- Time to Get the Trailer Out of Storage

We've spent the last week frantically working on our to-do list without our trailer. We've managed to whittle the list down from 5 or 6 pages to less than 3 pages, so we've made some progress.

Today, we're going to get our trailer from the storage yard and park it in our driveway until we leave (hopefully on Friday). It doesn't really fit in our driveway but for 5 days we should be okay. We'll give the trailer a good cleaning and start to load the trailer.

I expect trouble loading the trailer since we need to take a lot of stuff and I'm sure that some of it won't fit. We'll find out soon enough.

Tomas is starting to warm up to the idea of a long camping trip. Toria wants to go see Mickey Mouse right after her nap -- just "do that".

Five more sleeps in our warm, cosy house and we will be underway. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Monday , October 4th -- The Countdown Continues

Well, I am officially done work now, so the hard part is underway -- getting ready to leave.

We had to retrieve our trailer from storage last Thursday because a -11 C night was coming and the trailer was not winterized. We brought it home and and turned the heat on for the night. Our remote thermometer went down to 1 C in the trailer storage compartments but thankfully no freezing.

On Saturday, we picked up my mom from the airport (Nani) much to the delight of Tomas and Toria. Nani has offered to help out with the kids while we scramble around getting ready.

Sunday was my birthday (42) but the day was spent frantically working on the trailer getting the last batch of upgrades and repairs completed. We got everything done that we planned and I decided to bite the bullet and winterize the trailer so that we could store it for another week without risk of freezing. So Sunday night was spent taking the trailer back to the storage yard for the last time this year followed by a nice birthday dinner at the White Spot in Leduc.

Monday arrived a little early for me. Must be dreaming about our to-do database (yes, database) which will drive our lives for the next two weeks. Have to take the wife's Maxima for a final oil change and a repair or two. Chasing a dream, one task at a time ...