TWO WEEKS IN REVIEW.
Be prepared….this is a long read.
The blog has been quiet for the last two weeks and there is a good reason why. I’ve been too busy and stressed to even think about it!
· On Friday March the 13th we had a lovely dinner with friends. Marilyn and Dennis had invited us, Connie and Manny and their sister in law Marilyn to their condo which is located right next to our housing complex. We had a great time with them all and a fabulous lasagna dinner.
On Sunday the 15th we were off to the last concert of the season at the Angela Peralta Theatre. The final concert was fabulous with the Culiacan symphony playing. We had a late lunch at Chon’s our favorite little Mexican restaurant and then headed home. At this point there was starting to be a lot of concern about COVID 19 and we were starting to talk about what we were going to do. Our plan had been to stay in the house until mid April and then start home. Our Prime Minister was now saying that all Canadians should return home and there was talk about closing the US/Mexico border. What to do, what to do? We decided at that point we should shut the house down, load up and head for home. Not an easy task as you can’t just walk away from a house in Mexico.
The next three days were spent washing and storing outside furniture, packing up everything we could and loading the truck with all the food in the house in case there wasn’t any when we got home. In addition to that we had to head downtown to the CFE (Hydro) and Jumapam (Water) offices to prepay our accounts for the time we’d be away. On Wednesday evening our good friend Rafael who is the park worker at the Las Jaibas trailer park where we stayed for almost 10 years came to the house. He will check the house once a week while we are away to make sure there are no plumbing or rat issues. As well he would take out the two water pumps and the on demand water heater after we were gone. One pump by is by the cistern in the carport and one is on the roof by the Tonako(water storage tank) and they are removed because they are subject to rust over the summer when they aren’t running. There is a huge amount of humidity and rain along with heat over the summer and we don’t want any failures while we are away. I loaded up two big bags of food from our fridge to give to Rafael and Eric gave him a ride home. We paid him half down and the rest to come when we return. We have complete confidence in him and if he needs anything Rueben the housing complex worker can help out. The rest of the food which included a number of frozen prepared dinners that I’d cooked were to come with us. I also packed enough sandwich and breakfast food so that we wouldn’t need to eat out much along the way. This turned out to be a godsend later in the trip.
On Thursday March 19th we were on our way to the border. An easy first day and a stop over night in Navojoa at the Fiesta Navojoa Hotel where we had stayed on the way south last November. An easy drive and dinner at the Best Western where we were the only ones eating in the restaurant.
As we were driving the next morning my sister Joy relayed a message that they were closing the US border to all but essential traffic as of midnight that night. We’d planned to stay in Caborca and cross at Lukeville the next day. Change of plans! We had time to make it to the Nogales crossing so we changed our route so we could exit before midnight. We turned our vehicle import stickers and tourist visas in at km 21. When we got to the US border it was quite busy but in the end it wasn’t too bad. Our line was a bit slow as they were training a new border guard. We arrived in Nogales, AZ around 4pm and checked into the Quality Inn where we’d stayed on our way south in November. Marilyn/Dennis and sister in law Marilyn had left Mazatlan the same morning that we did but having stopped in Obregon which is a bit farther north than Navojoa the previous night they had already arrived. We had dinner in the hotel bar and…we were the only customers. Now at this point things started getting interesting. The truck was leaking power steering fluid which also involves brakes. The worker at the hotel in Navojoa had noticed fluid on the truck wheel well. Eric picked up some Automatic transmission fluid at a Pemex before we left Navojoa and topped it up. It was still not leaking too badly but Eric was concerned. He decided to just monitor the situation and see what it was like by the time we got to Yuma the next day.Saturday morning we were on our way to Yuma and the Howard Johnson Hotel (again where we’d stayed in November. When we got to Yuma we made a quick stop at the WalMart so I could stock up. It was quite busy and I didn’t notice any social distancing or hand sanitizer at the door. It was fairly well stocked except for paper products and meat. Eric checked the power steering fluid while I was inside and it was leaking excessively and the problem was much worse. He called the GM dealer and managed to get an appointment in 20 minutes. He found me in the store as I was checking out and we were on our way to the dealer. The good news is they fixed the problem which included replacing the power steering brake boost and hoses in an hour and a half. The bad news is that they gouged us $1600 US or $2300 Canadian. $550 dollars for an hour and a half of labor! We didn’t have time to stay until Monday and try to find an auto repair shop that could do it cheaper so we just had to suck it up! We checked in to the hotel, had a few beers to console ourselves and walked over to the Asian Star restaurant. We’d decided if it wasn’t busy that we’d eat there but in the end they were closed except for take out. No problem we ate in our room and had enough left over for the next two days. I filled the cooler full of ice to cool the left overs as all the food I’d packed was already in the fridge.
Sunday the 22nd was a decent day and drive to Alamo, Nevada where we stayed in the Alamo Inn. A bit of a hole but it would do for the night and there isn’t much to choose from there. Marilyn/Dennis and Marilyn were there as well so we had happy hour outside. A good evening and dinner in our room. The local grocery store didn’t have their deli open so the Marilyn/Dennis and Marilyn had sandwiches.
Monday the 23d and we were off to Buhl, Nevada while the rest of the crew would turn east at Twin Falls, ID and we would turn west we said good goodbye in Alamao. Rain for the first part of the journey and when we got up to Ely, NV at 7000 ft. it was sunny. Onward towards Wells, NV where we had lunch and got fuel. It was freezing cold and as usual for Wells the wind was blowing like hell! As we headed up the hill out of town after lunch it started to snow and at the same time Eric noticed black smoke pouring out of the exhaust and a slight loss of power. He figured we’d blown an injector. Great! Now he was seeing a $5000 dollar bill in his future after being robbed in Yuma. A few minutes down the road and the truck bucked, thumped, farted and burped and the smoke was gone and power returned. What the hell! Eric figures an injector was either stuck open of something got caught in it. Funny that we’d just picked up fuel. From there on Eric added diesel clean conditioner to the fuel as he had some with him in. At the end of a 480 mile day we arrived in Buhl,ID and stayed in the Oregon Trail Inn. An older motel but nicely redone and very clean. An enjoyable night and we’d stay there again.
Tuesday March 23rd and we were off to Moses Lake, WA with 480 miles to go. For the most part the weather behaved itself and we took our usual route along the Colombia River from Stanfield to Pasco,WA instead of going right through the Tri cities. We arrived in Moses Lake around 4pm and checked in to the SureStay Inn. A nice enough motel except we were in the room right next to the entrance door (no outside doors to the rooms) and all the smokers were hanging around outside. There were a bunch of workers from Mississippi there and we couldn’t understand a word they said! Their accents sounded like a foreign language. Dinner in our room and in the morning I went to the continental breakfast room to pick up coffee, muffins and yogurt. As we travelled north all continental breakfasts were take out only.
We packed up and Eric went out to start the truck. Guess what happened next? The truck wouldn’t start. Cranked over but wouldn’t start. At this point I think we were both in shock. Eric located a GM dealer just down the road, unhooked the Jeep and went off to get help. A short time later Eric showed up with a tow truck and the truck was hauled away. $100 for the tow truck and when Eric returned 1 ½ hours later he was towing the Jeep. The mechanic had primed the fuel filter in the dealer parking lot and started the truck so it is obviously a common failure. Turns out that we had a vacuum leak around the fuel filter which allowed air into the fuel. They recommended that we get the fuel filter housing changed. Only $150. this time. On the road by 10am and heading for the Canadian border.
As we were travelling the Quarantine Act was being invoked in Canada. It was supposed to take place at 12 midnight. The new regulations would not allow us to travel home and stop in a motel along the way even if we showed no signs of COVID 19 so we wanted to cross as soon as possible.
At noon we stopped for lunch at the Tribal Trails gas station and were then on our way. When we arrived at the border around 1:30 pm there were quite a lot of vehicles in line and lots of them were RV’s. When it was our turn we were asked where we lived, where we had been other than Canada or the USA and we said Mexico. We were also asked if we had a fever or cough or were sick in any way. We answered no to all questions. They asked for our email, phone number, and Eric’s driver’s license along with our passports and where we were going to stay that night. We said we didn’t know as we had gotten a late start. We also explained that we lived too far north to make it all in one day and we were informed that wherever we stopped that night is where we would have to self isolate for 14 days. What! They were quite rude and aggressive about it all and said that if we violated this order we were subject to a one million dollar fine and imprisonment and…that they would phone to see where we were. Now we understand this whole crisis and totally understand the severity of it all. We’d eaten in our room or the truck all the way from Mexico to the Canadian border and had taken every precaution to avoid unnecessary contact with people and we had no signs of Covid 19. As we left the border and started driving we decided to just keep going and figure it out along the way. Beyond the expense of staying and eating in a motel for two weeks we decided it just wasn’t safe. How would we know that the food that we were being brought was safe to eat and that someone with COVID 19 hadn’t prepared it. No thank you! Plus in two weeks we’d be faced with staying in a motel and eating out and the situation might be much worse at that time. So we were on our way. We drove as far as 100 mile house BC and checked in, in the dark at 9pm which wasn’t safe as Eric had been driving since 10am that morning. We stayed in a very clean, ultra sanitized room and ate in our room. Eric’s comment about the whole situation was ( well I won’t tell you what he said!) and they could just take him to jail. What a way to treat your senior population. Plus, friends who crossed at the Alberta border at approximately the same time were not told anything about not stopping. The Osoyoos crossing jumped the gun.
Thursday March 26th and the eighth day on the road. We were up at six am and on the road by 6:30 and…we ate in our room. It was minus 9C and the roads were dry. We had 520 miles to go. Good roads to Williams Lake and then as we got farther north heading towards Quesnel the situation deteriorated. We rounded a corner and the chip truck (wood chips) ahead of us started to slow down and put his flashers on going down the hill. There were signs at the edge of the road and then we saw black smoke in the distance. What now? The traffic was stopped around the corner and we couldn’t see what the problem was. One of the truck drivers behind us walked up to see and when he returned he said there was a big truck on fire and they couldn’t put it out as it was in danger of exploding. Great…just what we needed. We sat there in the cold for 1 ½ hours and while we waited it started to snow. I had to pee and in the end I got out and peed in front of our truck behind the chip truck. By the time we got going the snow was starting to pile up but there was a salt/sand truck up ahead of us so it wasn’t too bad. As we got into the area where there are huge hills up and down the salt/sand disappeared and we were now driving on solid ice with about six inches of snow. Eric went into 4 wheel drive, we had new tires on the truck that are actually winter tires and he just kept going. I was paralyzed with fear but he is an experienced winter driver and he just carried on. The big trucks were stuck and jack knifed going down and up the hills The cops were out and no sign of a sand truck. Eric kept gearing down and not touching the brakes. When we got into Quesnel it wasn’t any better and the big hill down into town was unplowed and the traffic was creeping along. Leaving Quesnel and heading up out of town the trucks were stopped putting on chains. All it would have taken is a salt/sand truck and everything would have been okay. A disgrace and shame on the road maintenance department. The roads remained horrible all the way to Prince George where we arrived at noon. We should have arrived at 9:30 am. We did 60km per hour half the way to Prince George.
As we continued on towards Vanderhoof, Burns Lake, Smithers and home the roads were clear and all we faced was a little rain here and there. We ate the lunch that I’d premade in the morning as we drove. When we stopped for fuel the gas station in Burns Lake the washroom was closed. We’d faced that once in the US and also now in BC. I would guess they just don’t want to provide the necessary cleaning to make it safe so in the end we stopped at a rest stop. The rest of the drive home was uneventful and we pulled in at 7:30 pm. A 13 hour day and over 5000 km’s total in 8 days and seven nights. I’d never imagined that we could even do that. Eric was just amazing and he did an unbelievable job of all the driving and handling all the repairs. My job was to keep us fed.
When we returned home our son in law Wade had spent 2 days with a bobcat clearing the ¼ mile driveway to our house. The neighbors had piled snow in front of our gate and it was 2 feet deep up by the house. A huge job and we are so greatfull. Our daughter Erika had stocked the house with food (we texted back and forth as we were driving) and our grand daughters Abby (muffins) and Holly and boyfriend Chris had roasted a chicken and made chili for our dinner. The house was warm and Erika had even lit a fire and there were cases of beer as well. We could not have done it without them.
In a usual year we would stay a couple of days in Kelowna at Ian and Linda’s (Eric’s brother and wife) and then overnight in Quesnel. We would then bunk in with our daughter and family to shower, do laundry, shop, eat and visit. As we shut the house down when we leave in October and drain the water there is no water when we get home. While we stay at Erika’s Eric comes out to the house to clear the road and get the water going. Not this year! Erika also brought us a 5 gallon jug of water so we were okay until the next day.
So…we are home. Fed, warm, showered and rested and in quarantine for 14 days. Our family here is self isolating for the most part. Erika is working at an office where there is only her and one boss as everyone else is working from home. She shops for the family every night after work. Wade is the only one working in the office at the power line company and the children Abby, Holly and boyfriend Chris are staying home. Both Holly and Chris have lost their jobs and Abby is not going to college as it’s closed.
In Terrace which is a small town 25,000 with outlying areas there is no problem with Covid 19 at this point. There is no one in hospital and the ones who have been exposed are self isolating. We are happy we don’t live in a big city. The town is pretty well stocked for food as well. What will the future bring for all of us….only time will tell. We are just happy to be home even if everything is covered in snow. By the way when Eric tried to start the truck in the driveway two days after we arrived home it wouldn’t start. He primed the fuel filter and it started. He will have to rebuild the fuel filter housing.
There are no pictures as I don’t have enough cell data to load them and here we don’t have wifi as it’s not available.
I did do some short posts facebook as we traveled and there are some pictures on it.