When life hands you lemons, I know you are supposed to make lemonade. And most of the time, I really try. But this has been a frustrating and expensive week.
This is not the next blog I had planned to write. That was to be our visit to the delightful city of Edmonton, Alberta, and a visit to Saskatchewan to look up information on my dead ancestors who once homesteaded there. We did those things, and I will yet write that blog because it deserves to be written. But today, it’s time to catch up on the Wandering Wishnies’ Tale of Woe.
After five wonderful days in Edmonton, we spent three long driving days and overnights in three different cities in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. Between the second one (Watson) and the last one (Moosomin) we experienced some problems with the electrical connection between the truck and the trailer. The read-out in the truck said alternately “Trailer Fault” or “Trailer Disconnected”. The brake and directional lights on the trailer were not working, nor were the trailer brakes. Ok, this is a problem. The terrain was flat (boring rural area, farm after farm), so Fred knew we would be ok until we could get somewhere and get it fixed.
In Moosomin, we stayed at a pretty and heavily treed campground that was very park-like called Fieldstone Campground and RV Resort. (I don’t know about the “resort” part, but it was a nice campground.) The owners were very friendly and accommodating. We found a large pull thru where we could stay hitched and could point the satellite dish through an opening between trees to get our internet.
Before we left, we got a recommendation for an RV repair place about 40 miles up the road where we could have our electrical problem looked at. Four Seasons RV in Verdin, SK, got us right in when we got there, and were able to diagnose the problem easily. It was the wiring connection under the truck where the “doodad” (very scientific :) that binds the wiring of the two together had broken one of the wires causing a short. We were happy to escape with a bill of $77 for parts and labor, and be on our way in under an hour.
After a drive of 236 miles, we arrived at Arrowhead RV Park in Ile Des Chenes, just south of Winnipeg, Manitoba. After three overnighters in a row, we decided to spent two nights here, our last in Canada before crossing back into the U.S. at North Dakota. It felt good just to get up the next morning at our leisure and not have to pack up and move again. It was a nice little park, very well cared for, and once again, helpful and friendly owners. I wish we had more time to spend there, since we were informed about many interesting attractions and neighborhoods in Winnipeg that definitely deserve a return visit.
I have to say we have found so many Canadians extremely friendly and have enjoyed every place we have been in Canada. I will tell you though that the further east we drive, the heavier the “Canadian” accent in their speech, liberally peppered with sentence ending “eh?” I found it charming.
Friday, we rose and left early, early for us that is. By 9:00 we were on the road headed for the border. A long line of cars to our left and a short line of commercial/semi-trucks to our right. So we chose the truck line of course. The customs officer at the window informed us politely that we were in the wrong line, but we feigned ignorance, citing our size and logic and she took care of us. But she did decide that the agriculture inspector needed to come into our rig and look for potentially offensive produce and directed us to pull over. Well, alrighty then.
While we waited, I went into the rig intending to put out the kitchen slide for them. To my surprise, as I pressed the button, and the motor whirred, the slide did…nothing! Oh dear, what can the matter be? Since there was nothing I could do about it, we put out the opposing slide which enabled the inspector to access the refrigerator. After confiscating a half used lemon, and an unused lime that had seen fresher days, we were on our way. Thankfully, they had missed the zip bags full of garden fresh organic brussel sprouts and organic nantes carrots we had just purchased in Edmonton. But now you know that the U.S. is once again safe from dangerous fruits and vegetables :)
Unfortunately though, we now knew we had another repair issue to deal with, that of the broken slide. Or I should say, fortunately we knew about the issue early enough in the day to tackle it. As we drove south from the border on our way to Fargo, ND, a call to our manufacturer yielded a speculation that it might be a broken shear pin, and a referral to a Carriage dealer in Fargo. Oh, Yay, a dealer just where we are going.
The dealer was able to get us right in a take a look, but the diagnosis, I’m afraid, was more dire. It’s a broken gear box housing which needless to say, they don’t have lying around. Too late on a Friday afternoon to have one shipped, a new part will be on its way from California on Monday, hopefully to arrive on Tuesday. So it looks like we are stuck in Fargo until at least Tuesday.
While we’re here, we decided to take care of a few other things. Fred mentioned we needed to have the trailer axles aligned and address the uneven tire wear. Our dealer sent us to a commercial truck tire specialist. While there, we asked them to see if they could shim up the driver side of the trailer as it has been leaning that way for a long time, causing us to always have to level the rig using many blocks on that side. We just always attributed the condition to the fact that all our heavy appliances, generator, water tanks, etc. are located on that side.
Boy, were we surprised to learn we had two broken springs. We know it’s been in this condition for well over a year, and now I wish we had investigated this sooner, as it would have probably been covered under warranty. At this point, it is not.
We had the springs replaced and the axles realigned. We also ordered two new tires to replace the badly and unevenly worn ones. They also will not be here until Tuesday. So we’re digging in for the duration. With a $77 repair on Tuesday, and a $350 repair on Thursday, this was a pretty expensive week for us. And it looks like next week, more of the same.
We’ve also been needing new tires for the truck which Fred put off until our return from the Alaska trip. So since we’re in a buying mood (Ha!) it looked like now was the time to get that taken care of. Another referral by the tire guys to their store in town that handle consumer tires, got us a really good deal on those. Fred had already done his research, wanting to get more of the same tires we originally had, which have given us 65,000 miles of good service. And the price was actually better than we had hoped for.
For what was supposed to be a quick overnight in Fargo, I had picked out a little public campground in a very pretty park in the middle of the city. They had lots of open sites along a river, but the place is so heavily treed we couldn’t get a satellite signal. Now more than ever, with a longer stay, I would really have liked a nice place to stay, and the proximity to services like supermarkets, restaurants and maybe even activities. So I was very disappointed that this nice little park wouldn’t work for us.
Since we can’t put out the kitchen slide, I can’t get to the stove to cook, and barely to the sink to clean up. We’ll have to eat out a lot. Awwwww. But it would have been more convenient for that right in Fargo. Instead, we drove 20 miles west through flat, flat, farmland to someplace in the middle of nowhere, a town called Casselton, but not before we shoehorned ourselves into a little gas station to diesel up, since now our “low fuel” light was on.
Fortunately, I jump out of the truck to locate the diesel pump and notice we have been driving with our satellite dish still in the upright position because Fred had prematurely pulled the plug on the electric when we couldn’t get satellite reception in the city campground. Yikes! Guess we were both pretty tired at that point. A catastrophe narrowly averted as I got into the coach, ran the generator and put down the dish before we pulled under the overhang at the pumps, which was low enough to do serious damage to the dish.
The Governor’s Inn Hotel and RV Park is located right off the interstate. It's little more than a parking lot adjacent to the hotel (which includes an indoor water park--wow, what’s that doing out here in the middle of nowhere?). The RV park is pretty full actually with what the girl behind the desk called "long term construction workers". Oh brother. And as we stand at the counter, I hear her on the phone turning away a potential hotel guest because they are completely booked up tonight and tomorrow for a wedding party. But this is home for a while.
Last night we went "to town", that is the little town of Casselton about three miles up the road. It's a cute little town with a few historic buildings, and one of everything else--one beauty shop, one barber shop, one little grocery store, one bank, one lawyer, one tax accountant, one chiropractor/massage therapist, one pizza restaurant, one coffee shop, but three bars and three gas stations, and all on "main street".
We stopped at the bar/liquor store/restaurant for a beverage and to drink in the small town atmosphere, and ended up having a bowl of free chili, and replenishing our sadly barren liquor cabinet. We had experienced extremely high prices for liquor all through Canada and even in Alaska, so we were elated with what we found in this small town. The liquor cabinet was bare. Great prices on alcohol, but wine still a little pricey. Maybe we can limp along on what we have left until we get to Milwaukee and I can stock up at Trader Joe’s.
When we first got here, we had more satellite dish issues and spent all day yesterday trying to get it figured out before we found a plug that had vibrated loose, so all’s well that ends well. Hopefully Monday we’ll be able to get the DirecTV service straightened out too.
So that catches you all up on what’s been going on in our life the past week. As much as we loved Canada, and the Canadian people, we are glad to be home in the good old US of A.