Back to the Outside
  (September 5, 2006 to October 31, 2006)

You can click on "photos" to get directly to the first photo page, which has a connector to the second page (if there is one).

I have come to like the format I used for the Alaska travelogs and will stick with it. However, I will just list the roads on which we to provide a journal for us down the road when we review our travels. I will only report on road conditions if there is something worth mentioning.

When folks leave Alaska it is said that they travel to the Outside. With our journey to Alaska completed, and having spent a relaxing week in Edmonton, we were ready to head back to the Outside. We decided to travel across Canada to Winnipeg before dropping down into the lower 48 in Minnesota. This travelog chronicles our journey Back to the Outside.

September 6: North Battleford, Saskatchewan (249 miles)

Road conditions: Yellowhead Trail (CA 16)

Wal-mart parking lot.

Fuel: On the way out of Edmonton Diane spotted a Flying J. We pulled in there to fill up and found diesel at .869 per liter, which was about 3.03 per gallon. It was the cheapest fuel we had seen in months.

This was just an overnight stop.

September 7 - September 8: Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan (223 miles)

Road conditions: From North Battleford we continued along the Yellowhead Trail to Saskatoon where we picked up provincial highway (PH) 11. In Chamberlain we picked up PH 2 to Moose Jaw. It was a rural two lane road that seemed narrow in spots, but in pretty good condition.

Campground: Wal-Mart parking lot. We don't usually stay in a Wal-Mart lot for more than a day enroute to wherever we are going, but we stayed two nights this time. There were two campgrounds in the area. One was Prairie Oasis who offered WiFi for a fee. I guess we've been around long enough to expect WiFi to be available as part of the camping fee. We get spoiled by RV parks like Glowing Embers in Edmonton that had two WiFi networks in their park so everyone would have access, and it was free. The other campground was River Park that offered free WiFi, but only took cash, no credit cards (which is okay) and no checks (which is not okay as we were running out of Canadian money and I didn't want to take anymore out of an ATM).

We were told it would be worth our while to route ourselves via Moose Jaw to visit the tunnels. Moose Jaw probably got its name from the Cree word "moosegaw" which means "warm breezes". It was a quaint little town and we enjoyed walking the streets. The big draw in Moose Jaw, other than its name, are the Tunnels of Moose Jaw. There are two tunnel tours offered for visitors. One is the "Chicago Connection", the other is the "Passage of Fortune". The tunnels were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s with the purpose of allowing workers who were responsible for the furnaces to move from building to building without having to go outside during the cold winters.

We opted to do both of the tunnel tours, which were each about 50 minutes long. The first tour available was the "Passage to Fortune" tour. It was led by someone who narrated the history of the tunnels and played a couple of roles along the way. He told us the tunnels were built to house Chinese migrant workers who had come from China with the hope of making a better life for themselves and their families. These Chinese workers were lured to North America, some to the U.S. and some to Canada with promises that were never kept. They were referred to as "coolies", a word that meant worker, but eventually became a racial slur. Our tour guide told us we were coolies and were to do as he said. During some parts of the tour he acted very gruff and rude to us "coolies" to demonstrate how Chinese workers were treated at the time. Living conditions were horrible. The tunnels were meant to keep the workers below ground and away from the society above who had no respect for Chinese workers. We really enjoyed this tour and learned a lot about life below ground.

The second tour was the "Chicago Connection". When prohibition came along Moose Jaw became a hub for gangsters and illegal booze. It was reported that Al Capone spent some time in Moose Jaw, however, there was never any proof that he was actually ever there. Two people led our tour at different times and it was entertaining.

Another highlight of our stay in Moose Jaw was to walk around the city to view some of the 39 murals that represent a history of the city. The murals were painted on buildings around the city. We didn't seek out all 39 murals, but we did see about a dozen of them.

It just happened that there was a city golf course right next to the Wal-Mart. It was a beautiful course and the lure was just too much to resist. The fifth green was about 40 yards from where we were parked. I dug out a putter and a few balls and walked over in the late evening to putt for a while. As I said, I couldn't resist.

September 9: Brandon, Manitoba (267 miles)

Road conditions: TransCanada Highway 1

Campground: Wal-Mart parking lot.

It was a two day drive from Moose Jaw to Winnipeg, so the plan was to drive as far as Brandon the first day. As we pulled out of Moose Jaw I noticed that the voltage meter was showing the chassis batteries at a little over 12 volts with drops down to about 11.8. That told me that either the batteries were bad or the alternator had failed and wasn't charging the batteries. We stopped in Regina for fuel and I checked the batteries. One of them was very hot and spewing fumes. I figured bad battery and started searching for a place to buy two new batteries. We found National Battery and bought two batteries. I moved the motorhome to the Wal-Mart parking lot and replaced the old batteries with the new ones. The rig started right up but the voltage meter still showed 12.5 rather than the normal 14.1, or so, to indicate the alternator was charging. So now I figured the alternator was shot. I figured out that running the generator would keep the chassis batteries charged, so we kept on going to Brandon. I would rather have the Spartan folks look at the alternator rather than some local shop I don't know anything about. So that's what we decided to do. I was confident that I could keep the batteries charged and get the motorhome to Michigan.

September 10 - September 17: Winnipeg, Manitoba (143 miles)

Road conditions: CA 1 to Winnipeg and then took CA 100, the Perimeter Highway, around to the southeast of the city to the campground.

Campground: Travellers RV Resort.  This was a nice family oriented campground. The sites were a good size and were either surrounded by small trees or in an open section. It was also a Coast to Coast park, so the $8 per night rate for us was welcomed. On the downside, I was very disappointed that the park did not offer WiFi. However, they did have a dial up connection. The season was pretty much over so there was no competition for the modem connection.

We always had plans to someday visit Winnipeg and this was a good time to do that as it was easy to put it in our path on the way to Michigan. We weren't disappointed. We found Winnipeg to be a very nice city with lots of things to do and see. Another reason we wanted to visit Winnipeg was because it was home for Carol Rogers, a former colleague of mine when I was working and traveling fulltime. It had been more than six years since Diane and I last saw Carol. She was on a couple of the teams that I worked on during the last two years before I retired. One of the fun stops Diane and I remember when Carol was with us was in Buenos Aires where we all went to visit a gaucho ranch. We had some good times, especially the long dinners where we had lots of laughs thanks, in part, to Carol's  quick wit and joking around. We got to visit with Carol three times during the week. One evening she took us out to a nice restaurant followed by a visit at her house and a dip in her hot tub.

We were blessed with beautiful weather during our week in Winnipeg and that offered us a great chance to get out and see some of the city and surrounding area. Carol offered some tips on places to visit and we went to some of them. One of the places was the Lower Fort Gary National Historic Site. Construction of Lower Fort Gary was ordered in 1830 by George Simpson, Governor of the Northern and Southern Departments of the Hudson's Bay Company. The original Fort Gary was known as Upper Fort Gary and was situated at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers where Winnipeg stands today. However, the area was prone to flooding. Simpson also wanted to create an elegant country home for his new eighteen year old bride Frances. The main buildings were completed in the early 1840s and the walls were constructed from 1846 to 1848. The fort never fulfilled Simpson's expectations and he and his wife had left the settlement by 1833, long before it was completed.

Over the years, the fort took on many different roles, including acting as a major transshipment depot for the fur trade, a farming operation, and as a provincial penitentiary and lunatic asylum. On August 3, 1871, chiefs and representatives of the Anishinaabe and Ininew peoples of southern Manitoba and the Crown signed Treaty No. 1 at the fort. There were 10 additional treaties that were signed. One of the things we learned was that the Europeans who settled in Canada mistreated the native population in the same way that Europeans who settled in the United States mistreated the U.S. native population.

The summer season was over when we were in Winnipeg which meant that fewer people were working at the attractions. During the summer, Lower Fort Gary has people dressed in period costumes and explaining what life was like at the fort. Diane and I walked around the fort and looked at the buildings, but most of them were locked. The next tour was hours away and we didn't want to wait that long just to get inside some of the buildings. We did enjoy our walk around the grounds.

Carol suggested we might want to stop at the original Skinners for one of their foot long hot dogs while we were up near Lower Fort Gary. We found the place and had lunch there.

We had never been to a mint. The campground was very close to one of the Royal Canadian Mint locations, so we stopped in to take a tour. It was very interesting to learn how coins are minted from start to finish. We were surprised to learn that the mint not only made coins for Canada, but for many other countries as well. Someday we'll tour a US Mint.

The Forks is a nine acre National Historic Site in the heart of Winnipeg. It is a park like setting with shops and green spaces. We had lunch there one day and then walked along the river to the Esplanade Riel Pedestrian Bridge that allows walkers to cross the river to the Boniface area and home to the Saint Boniface Cathedral and Cemetery. The first chapel was built on the site in 1818 by the first missionaries who came to the area. The chapel was replaced by the first church in 1825 and then by a twin towered church in 1839. When Saint Boniface became a diocese in 1847 the church was designated a cathedral. It was destroyed by fire in 1863 and replaced by a more modest structure. A large cathedral that could hold up to 1,600 people was completed in 1908 and had two bell towers that rose 155 feet. Sadly, the cathedral burned to the ground in 1968 with only the facade and part of the rear surviving the fire. This facade was incorporated into the new cathedral which, unfortunately, took on a modern look. A model of the old cathedral indicated that it must have been a beautiful structure similar to the beautiful cathedrals in Europe.

Manitoba's Legislative Building is considered to be one of the finest public buildings in North America. We were not able to take a tour as they ended after Labor Day Weekend. However, we were able to walk around and take a self guided tour, although we couldn't get inside the chambers or other rooms that one could see on a tour. The building was started in 1913 but not completed until 1920 due to delays caused by the lack of materials that were diverted to the war effort in the First World War.

The building's base forms a letter "H" and has 268,783 square feet of space inside. As is common in government buildings, there was a dome that rose over 223 feet. The current building is the third to be occupied by the Manitoba Legislative Assembly. The first site in 1871 was a house that was owned by a businessman and burned down two years later. The second building was occupied in 1884 on the grounds of the current building. It was demolished in 1920 to facilitate the landscaping of the grounds for the third building that was completed that year.

One of Manitoba's best known symbols is the Golden Boy that sits atop the dome. It stands 16 feet from toe to top of the torch and was originally made of bronze. It was subsequently painted gold before being gilded with 23.5 carat gold leaf in 1951. The figure is meant to embody the spirit of enterprise and eternal youth. Similar to the messengers in Greek mythology, he bears a message of coming prosperity for all Manitobans. The Golden Boy was sculpted by Georges Gardet of Paris, and cast in 1918. When the foundry was partially destroyed during the war, the Golden Boy was not harmed. The figure was rushed to a seaport and put aboard a ship bound for the U.S. However, the ship was commandeered for the war and the Golden Boy spent the remainder of the war in the hold of the ship and always in danger of being destroyed. It finally made it to the U.S. at the end of the war and shipped by rail to Winnipeg where it was hoisted atop the building in 1919.

The inside of the building was gorgeous. The first thing that you see is the Grand Staircase composed of 39 steps in three flights of 13. There was a lot of marble in the building. The floor of the Rotunda is made of Tennessee marble and bordered with black Vermont and verde antique marble. The design on the floor is the continuous modified Grecian key, symbolic of the eternal quest for knowledge. We continued to walk around the building admiring the statues and columns and beauty of the place. We were glad Carol suggested that we tour the Legislative Building. It was a very worthwhile couple of hours.

September 18: Bemidji, Minnesota (227 miles)

Road conditions:  US 59, US 2

Campground: Wal-Mart parking lot.

Fuel: Filled up just south of the border for $2.559 per gallon.

This was just an overnight stop, but we did seek out the visitor center so we could get a photo of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

September 19: Ashland, Wisconsin (222 miles)

Road conditions: US 2

Campground: Wal-Mart parking lot.

Just an overnight stop.

September 20: Iron Mountain, Michigan (164 miles)

Road conditions: US 2

Campground: Wal-Mart parking lot.

Fuel: Filled up in Ironwood, Michigan for $2.599 per gallon.

Just an overnight stop.

September 21 - September 24: St. Ignace, Michigan (227 miles)

Road conditions: US 2

Campground: Kewadin Casino parking lot.

This was the weekend of the golf Ryder Cup so I wanted to park us somewhere for the weekend. The casino sounded like a good place to do that. The weather was wet and cool so we didn't venture out much other than to go into town to eat some pasties (pronounced "paa-stees").

September 25 - September 28: Lansing, Michigan (242 miles)

Road conditions: I-75 and US 127

Campground: Lansing Cottonwood Campground. I called twice to make sure the campground had open sites so we could use our dish, but when we got there we found out they had lots of trees. We were lucky to be able to move the motorhome in the site such that we barely got a view through the trees to use the dish. They had a few long pullthrus with full hookup and that's where we parked. The full hookup sites were $27.50 per night. No WiFi.

We used the time in Lansing to catch up on a couple of movies and do some shopping. The CR-V needed new tires, so we got those installed at a Sam's Club.

September 29 - October 01: Charlotte, Michigan (24 miles)

Road conditions: I-69

Campground: Spartan factory RV parking area.

Our service appointment was scheduled for Monday, October 1. We usually schedule our appointment at Spartan for a Monday and arrive on Friday to spend the weekend. Lansing is close and always offers a chance to see any movies we haven't seen while on the road.
Darrell and Judy Patterson finally sold their house and are now fulltime RVers. They were staying in a campground to the northwest of Lansing and we had made plans via email to meet for one more dinner at DeLuca's. They suggested getting together earlier in the day to visit Uncle John's Cider Mill. It was a cool and wet day, but we enjoyed a visit to the cider mill. We got a hot apple cider and an apple pastry before dinner at DeLuca's. It was great to see them again and wished them well on their new lifestyle as fulltimers.

October 02 - October 13: Nappanee, Indiana (135 miles)

Road conditions: I-69 and US 6

Campground: Newmar factory RV parking area.

We last saw Norm and Linda in May before we headed north to the border to get ready for our drive to Alaska. They were scheduled for a warranty appointment at the Newmar factory on October 9 and we always planned to go there to visit with them. We are long out of warranty, but we always liked visiting the factory. The Newmar Kountry Klub International Rally was going on the week of October 2 so there was very little warranty work going on. When Norm emailed me to say they decided to go to the factory early, we decided to do likewise. We were able to get one of the full hookup sites for the week and then moved to the overflow area on Sunday as people were arriving for warranty appointments. The 11 days at the factory turned out to be quite a time for visiting. It is not unusual to see folks we know who are also Newmar owners, but this time there were lots of RV friends there.

In roughly chronological order:

*  Rich and Maude Williams - we first met them at the Newmar rally in DuQuoin, Illinois in 2004 and have maintained contact. They did the Alaska trip in the summer of 2005. They have since traded their Dutch Star for a beautiful 43' Mountain Aire with four slides.

*  Stan and Betty Bober - they are long time friends who live in Mishawaka. We always visit with them when we are in the Nappanee area, and we have hooked up several times in Florida during winter months.

*  John and Roberta Hirth - you saw their names often in our Alaska travelogs as we hooked up with them several times over this past summer while up in Alaska.

*  Charles and Lynne Rupp - we met them in Valdez, but knew who they were due to photos of the accident they had in Skagway being posted on a website. Charles called me when he saw we were in the area and they were in Elkhart to get their Dutch Star repaired. The estimate for repairs to their rig came to $38,000. They were very fortunate that no one was hurt because the accident could have been much worse. We drove up to Elkhart to meet them for lunch.

*  Jim and Jan Swan - someday we think we would have our motorhome painted, and we would probably do it at Precision Paint in Bremen, which is down the road from Nappanee. Norm, Diane, and I took a ride over there to see their operation. As we pulled into the place I told Diane that we know the rig that was parked in front of the building. It took a second to remember where we first saw it and then we remembered it was at the Ocala RV Ranch in Ocala, Florida. Small world. The Swans had their Dutch Star painted by Precision Painting and it was the first one we had seen. We had a nice visit with them and then saw them again briefly when they stopped by the Newmar factory to dump their holding tanks.

*  Bob and Polly Seifried - in 2004, we stopped in Blairsville to visit with our friends, John and Libby Veach, and Pappy and Cecile Doughty. We met Bob and Polly when we were scouting out a campground and they told us it was very tight and suggested another campground in the area. Norm and Linda met them and were told they knew Diane and me. It was a couple of years ago, and was only the one encounter, so it took a while for us to remember them. It was nice to see them again and to get to know each other better. They are golfers and we hope to bump into them in Florida so we can play a round together.

*  Bill Joyce and Diane Melde - we met Bill and Diane through Norm and Linda when we were in Mesa, Arizona. We also saw them up in Alaska when our paths crossed. It was via Bill's website that I learned about the accident the Rupps had.

*  Steve and Nancy Gardner - we met them several years ago at the Escapees park in Zolfo Springs, Florida, but hadn't crossed paths since. They are now fulltime RVers and it was nice to see them again and renew our acquaintance.

So there you go, a typical time at the Newmar factory. We enjoyed several meals with different combinations of folks during the 11 days.

One of the things Diane and I have been wanting to do is replace the TV in the front with a bigger screen LCD HDTV. I knew I had 28" between the two cabinet doors on either side of the TV cabinet. That meant I could get a 26" LCD TV in between the doors. One day while Diane, Linda, and Maude were shopping for hobby stuff, Norm, Rich Williams, and I walked over to the Best Buys "just to look around". After hemming and hawing with the sales guy, I couldn't resist the urge when he knocked another $50 off the sale price. Plus, I knew Norm was around to help me get it installed. I patterned the install after one I had seen in Mike Garner's Dutch Star when we were in Quarzsite in January. He used wood for the side mounts, but I decided to use all angle irons instead of a combination of wood and angle irons. I wouldn't say the installation was painless, but it went rather smoothly. For reference purposes, I put a photo on the photo pages of the TV viewed from the front and one from the rear showing how it is mounted.

October 14 - October 15: Clarksville, Indiana (242 miles)

Road conditions: US 31 and I-65

Campground: Tom Stinnett RV dealership parking area.

Fuel: Flying J in Whiteland, Indiana - $2.329 per gallon, the lowest fuel price in many months.

Our friend, Dirk Harrington, has been planning to join the ranks of fulltime RVers for several years, but some medical situations have prevented him from implementing his plans. He finally got the chance to do it and ordered a 2007 Dutch Star. The timing was perfect and his beautiful new rig was waiting for him at Tom Stinnett. Clarksville is where Norm and Linda stay when they visit family and friends in the Louisville area. They were going there after the work on their motorhome was completed so we traveled together. The first thing we did was to go find Dirk's rig and check it out. What a beauty. When we bought our 2000 Dutch Star it was known as an "entry level" diesel pusher. However, Newmar has definitely raised the Dutch Star into the luxury class motorhome. It does, of course, have a price to match the luxury. Dirk chose the cider color scheme, one that Diane and I didn't think we would like because sometimes the burgundy color is too bright. Not this time. It was a beautiful color scheme. Diane and I both agreed we would give up the green for the cider scheme. Dirk arrived on Sunday evening in time for dinner after driving non-stop from Delaware.

We were pleasantly surprised when Norm told us he received a note from Darrell Patterson saying that he and Judy would be passing through the area on their way to Nashville. Also, Norm's sister, Gloria, and her husband, Don, were in the area on their way home to Kokomo. That meant we now had nine for dinner. After checking out a couple of restaurants that either couldn't handle a party of nine or had a very long wait, we found a Don Pablo's and had no problem getting a table for nine. What a great evening it turned out to be as we met old friends again and new friends were introduced to each other.

It was a cool and wet morning when we awoke on Monday for our drive to Kimball, Tennessee where we planned to stay the night in the Wal-Mart lot. Dirk went over to the dealership to meet with his sales rep, Tammy, and check out his new home. We went over to see it one more time and say good-bye to Dirk, and then said good-bye to Norm and Linda. Plans are to hook up in Florida in January and go into the Tampa RV Show together. We checked out the CR-V hookup and the lights and hit the road to Atlanta. Our 2006 travel year was pretty much completed.

October 16: Kimball, Tennessee (282 miles)

Road conditions: I-65 and I-24

Campground: Wal-Mart parking lot.

Just an overnight stop.

October 17: Douglasville, Georgia (140 miles)

Road conditions: I-24 and I-75

Campground: Daughter Jill's driveway.

Fuel: Flying J in Resaca, Georgia for $2.319.

It was almost ten months ago when we left here on December 28 to meet Norm and Linda in Summerdale, Alabama for our journey out west for the winter. We spent a week in the desert in Quartzsite, Arizona and then two weeks along the Sea of Cortez in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. We toured the San Diego and Palm Springs area before settling into Mesa, Arizona in March and April. With the arrival of spring we moved north to Great Falls, Montana to get ready for our journey to Alaska where we had a great time. It's hard to believe how quickly the ten months have gone. We'll stay here for a couple of weeks to take care of medical visits, and to visit with the grandkids. We plan to be in the southeast until at least June 2007. I'm sure we'll cross paths with lots of folks we know along the way.

Until next time, safe travels.....

Copyright © 2006, Roaming America with Rich & Diane Emond - All Rights Reserved

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