Thursday, September 4, 2014

Coquitlam, BC or Bust

Okay, this adventure was by far my most interesting trip by RV, because I traveled from Thousand Oaks, California to Coquitlam, BC, Canada and back, logging approximately 2,667 miles in the FR3.

The reason for travelling to Coquitlam, was to attend the 2014 Annual Pacific Coast Association of Magicians Conference (PCAM) and to compete in their Stage category contest.  This post is not about the conference, but travelling in the ROMI (FR3) to and back from Canada.  On this trip I had the pleasure of a traveling companion, Raul Fernandez, a fellow magician from the magic club that I belong to. Jean could not get off work for the whole trip, but would later fly to Portland and meet us there.

Frank & Raul at the PCAM conference, Coquitlam, BC

The plan was that Raul would travel with me to Canada for the conference and then to Portland where he would catch a flight back home.  Jean would fly to Portland meet up with us at in Portland so that we could visit family and continue our vacation from there.

So on Monday, July 28, 2014, I met Raul at the Pacoima Plaza parking lot (located in the San Fernando Valley), around 6 a.m., and from there we would begin our adventure. This would be Raul's first time travelling in a Motorhome. Our destination for the first day of travel would be Corning, California.

While en-route on Highway 99 we made an important stop along the way. We stopped at Hocus-Pocus Magic, (located in Fresno, California) to see our friend Tim Mannix and have lunch with him. Of course we did buy some magic while we were there. It was good to see Tim, and it was a good break for us on such a long drive.

Raul, Tim and I in front of Hocus-Pocus Magic

Once we left Fresno, California, we continued up Highway 99 and eventually caught Interstate 5 near Sacramento, California. By 8 p.m. we made it to the Petro Truck Stop at Corning, California. Raul and I had a good dinner at the Iron Skillet, used their pay showers and settled in for the night at the Truck Stop.

I should mention that at most Truck Stops they allow Motorhomes to overnight with all of the other trucks as well. You can park, but don't set up your rig as if you are planning to camp there. They will let you stay as a long as you are an en-route traveler.  Be prepared - it can be noisy with all the Semi-trucks running their engines during the night. That evening it was hot and so I fired up the generator, turned on the air conditioner and we watched a little TV before settling in.

July 29th, Tuesday.  That morning we took our time setting off, because I had seen a truck wash and a CB Shop next door to the Petro Truck Stop, I wanted to wash the RV and get a CB radio.  After Raul and I had breakfast, I drove the RV over to the truck wash to get the RV washed. While the rig was being washed I made arrangements at the CB Shop to have a Cobra Classic 25 CB Radio and a Wilson 2500 watt antenna installed in the RV. This work would delay our departure time, but I got a good deal on the equipment and installation work. By 11:30 am the CB work was completed  and we were on our way, next overnight stop would be the KOA in Corvallis, Oregon.

The CB Shop

The CB sits to the left side of the driver seat.

As we headed up Interstate 5 we saw how the drought has affected our Northern lakes. Shasta Lake was way below normal and it really didn't look good. But once we climb over Siskiyou Pass we were well in the State of Oregon and there was water every where. The rivers were running and the lakes we passed were all full, boy what a difference.

By 7 p.m. we made it to our next destination, KOA, Corvallis, Oregon. Before we were going to head over to the campground and register, we wanted to pick up some dinner. We drove into the city of Corvallis and found  Rivas Taco's where we picked up our evening meal.

We registered at the KOA office, found our assigned site and settled in for the evening. The evening was cool so no air conditioner was needed.

July 30, Wednesday.  Raul and I were back on the road by 8 a.m. heading toward Seattle, Washington. Our next destination was a KOA located in Burlington, Washington.

While we were travelling through Seattle, we caught the evening commuter traffic. It was like being stuck in Los Angeles during rush hour. While we were inching our way down the road, I noticed a Cabela's Outfitters, so I suggest we spend some time there to allow the traffic to settle down. At Cabela's, Raul loved the place and he found some nice hiking boots and I picked up a new cold weather shirt.

After about two hours hanging at Cabela's we were back on the road and traffic was now flowing much better. By 8 p.m. we made it to the Burlington KOA and we set up camp again for the night. Tomorrow we were going to be heading into Canada.

Thursday, July 31st. Now what happens next while making our entry into Canada was quite an experience. Raul and I arrived to the border check point and we managed to entered  the Bus Lane. It was unclear at least to me where I was supposed to go, so we ended up in the Bus Lane.

When it was our turn to meet with the Customs Officers I drove up, stopped the RV and we got out. Once we completed our discussion with the officers, we jumped back into the RV, closed the door and I began to drive off when we hear a scraping sound. Now What!  It turned out that the electric steps failed to retract and they had hit a speed bump which caused the metal scraping sound.

Since I could not travel with the steps out, I began trying to find a spot where I could pull over. A customs officer flagged me over to a location after she pulled a couple of traffic cones out of the way. So I spent some time trying to locate a blown fuse, a loose wire or something keeping the steps from retracting. Nothing. So now I start making calls, first to Forest River with no contacts and then the dealer whom we bought the RV from (Mike Thompson). Finally a technician contacted me and all he could suggest to me was to dis-assemble the Cog and Motor plate from the steps. This would allow the steps to become free and then I would be able to tie the steps back.

After about 1 1/2 hours, I finally got the steps free and I tied them back with lots of zip ties (Zip Ties are great, keep lots of different sizes of them on your rig!). The Canadian customs officers were glad that I was finally out of their area (or hair) and we were too! Back on the road our next stop was the Executive Hotel in Coquitlam were the PCAM conference was to be held.

I should put in a plug about my GPS system. I'm sure glad that I have a nice system in the RV. It really helped me move around the roads while in Canada. One of the nice features about my Rand McNally  GPS, is that while in Canada the speed limit signs are in metric and the GPS displayed my speed in metrics along with U.S. speeds. It was so nice to have that feature while I was driving my rig on unknown roads.

Eventually we made it to the hotel and met up with my friend Dennis Chan. Dennis had offered up his driveway so I could park the RV there while I stayed at the hotel during the conference. So Raul and I dropped off our stuff, I then drove the RV to Dennis' house, parked it and took a taxi back to the hotel. The RV would now take a rest for a few days.

Dennis Chan is a member of the Vancouver Magic Circle

Monday, August 4th. The conference was over and Raul and I were up early that day, we caught a taxi and went to pick up the RV at Dennis' house. Dennis was there waiting for us and we loaded up the RV, said our good-byes to Dennis and we were now heading to the Canada - US border.

We made it to the border at about 10 a.m., and after a short inspection we were back on U.S. soil. It was a lot less stressful crossing back, because there were no mechanical issues to contend with, and we were now heading south to Jantzen Beach RV Resort, located on Hayden Island, Portland, Oregon. This was  the location that we were to meet up with Jean, who had already been in the Portland area for a few days.

By 4 p.m. Raul and I made it to the RV resort and I started setting up home for the next few days in the site we were assigned. Jean rolled in around 5 p.m. to the resort and brought in her stuff.  Once she settled in, she asked us how it went so far? With that statement -  Raul and I opened up with lots of information and we had plenty to share, so we order some Pizza and Beer to be delivered to our site as we all settled in for the evening.

Jean and I have stayed at the Jantzen Beach RV Resort before and we decided we would stay there again because it's a nice park ,and it's actually on an island sitting in the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon. There are also lots of amenities near-by that make it a nice place to stay.

Tuesday, August 5th. The plan that day was to link up with Jean's brother Joe and his girlfriend (Kay), go to Cannon's Rib Express Bar-B-Q joint, take Raul to the Airport and spend some time  visiting family.

It was a simple plan, but there would be several other side trips that day. We stopped at a Starbucks in the morning to have a cup of coffee and catch up on some e-mails using Starbucks free WiFi. We then made it over to Joe's place and took Raul (well actually all of us) to have some awesome Bar-B-Q at Cannon's Rib Express .  Once we had our fill of good food we then took Raul to the airport, dropped him off and said our good-byes.

Jean and Raul on their computers checking e-mails at Hayden Island Starbucks...Portland, Oregon

I believe this is the Best Place for good Bar-B-Q!

With Mr. Wayne Cannon - Pit Master, Portland, Oregon

Wednesday, August 6th. Raul was now back home and it was now Jean and I staying at the RV resort. After some breakfast at a local establishment, we headed over to Joe's home again where we would go with them to the Portland Japanese Garden. At the garden, we would meet up with Max (Nephew) and his family for a little visit and some exploration. At the gardens we walked the grounds enjoying a peaceful time at such a beautiful place. I highly recommend visiting the gardens if you are in the Portland area.

Since Max was going to host a Bar-B-Q later that day, they took their leave from the gardens and headed home. So I suggested that we go to Powells Books to spend a little time there before we went over to Max's. It did not take a lot of arm twisting to convince the others that going to the bookstore would be a good idea and Joe was now heading to  Powell's Bookstore. Located in downtown Portland, this was another added side trip to our visit in Portland. This particular bookstore is a whole city block big, with tons of used and new books. I could have spent hours there, but they only gave me 1 1/2 hours to roam through the store. I did manage to find a few good book deals during my allotted time!

That evening we had a fun Bar-B-Q at Max's, but we eventually needed to leave so we could take the rental car that Jean had rented back to the Portland Airport. Joe followed us to drop off the car and then brought us back to the RV. Joe stayed for a while, then headed home saying good bye to his sister and me.

Thursday, August 7th. It was now time to begin our trip South and say good-bye to the Portland area. Our plan was very loose, we would travel South until I got tired of driving. Well after a long day behind the wheel we made it to the Win River Casino, just South of Corning, California.

The Win River Casino has a small RV park located on the Casino grounds. The sites are all positioned on top of a concrete parking lot with curb dividers. You do get Water, Electrical and Sewage for $26 a night. We did not mind the arrangements since we had a place to stay and to have dinner. Having the shore power that evening was a deal. The outside temperature that evening was in the high 90's, so on went the air conditioner to make it tolerable for the rest of the night.

Friday, August 8th. That morning we were back on the road and hoping to find a place to stay on Friday night somewhere near Santa Maria, California. The reason we wanted to overnight somewhere near Santa Maria was to try and meet up with the Simi Valley Elks Happy Wanderers who were camping at the Santa Barbara  Elks Lodge.

Well we were not able to find a spot near Santa Maria, but we did manged to get a site at Refugio State Park, just 12 miles from the Santa Barbara Elks Lodge. We really lucked out on this site, but we were glad. It was a beautiful night in Refugio State Park, we even took a short walk along the shore line listening to the waves break and the moon shining on the ocean water.

Our campsite at Refugio Sate Park

Refugio State Park , Southern California

Saturday, August 9th. It was about 10 a.m. when we arrived to the Santa Barbara Elks Lodge where our camping club was staying. Our intention was just to stop by for a short visit but we manged to get a spot for the night. The camp host  at the Elks Lodge campground, was also one of the Elks officials and he made arrangements for us to park our rig that night so we could hang out with the club.

So our return date was delayed, but Jean and I were not worried since home was only 1 hour away. We had a fun time with our camping club friends at the Santa Barbara Elks lodge. I even did a little magic for the group.

Our site at the Santa Barbara Elks Lodge

EL Boro the Magician made a special appearance at the Simi Valley Elks Camping Club Pot Luck Dinner, Santa Barbara Elks Lodge, Goleta, California
For more on  the Simi Valley Elks Happy Wanderers August report tap the link...

Sunday, August 10th. Finally it was time to set our course for home and put ROMI away. We got home early enough to put our stuff away and relax the rest of the day.

What a great trip, other than the steps dis-functioning, I had a great time traveling in our FR3 to Canada and back...2,667 miles! Wow!