Reaching the Living Forest

After the Great Journey from Cardston to Vancouver Island, we got off the ferry and drove right to the Living Forest Oceanside Campground and RV Park. Quite the mouthful, indeed.

By the time we got here from the Departure Bay ferry 20 minutes away, it was already quite dark, so we selected from one of the available spots, choosing #77, one of the sites furthest away from the water’s edge. I had thought it would be a good choice as, on the map seen below, it seemed to have a good bit of space around it and would be away from traffic, while everyone else would clammer to be on the opposite side, looking at the water.

We quickly pulled into the spot, got the jacks set up and finally settled into our Home On Wheels. We had made it over.

Read more…

posted by Paul in Island Life and have Comments (3)

Filling in the gaps: Crossing the Rockies

NOTE: This was a “guest” post written by [the other guy], so he refers here to his niece and his experiences having lived in the area.  – Paul

I have to admit, I was more than a bit nervous to drive over the Rockies, in January.  Throughout December I checked the weather network several times a day and watched several storms come and go.  I read website after website trying to find information that would tell us which mountain pass is the best to conquer in the winter and even did a test drive to the beginning of Crowsnest Pass in the Jeep to see if I felt we could handle it in the motorhome. Of course, well meaning people all have their own advice to give and some of the most discouraging comments came from people that have never driven over the Rockies before.  I have been over the pass several times before but those trips were many many years ago before I had any concept of fear. As the time to leave drew nearer a storm began to develop on the West Coast.  Vancouver was scheduled to have freezing rain then snow, and temperatures were forecast to drop.  The storm was to continue towards the Rockies and would cause blizzards at the higher elevations.  It was a difficult decision but we finally decided to risk it and leave as planned and drive as far as Creston and if need be we could stop in Creston until the storms passed. Read more…

posted by Paul in The Trip and have No Comments

Filling in the gaps: December in Cardston

NOTE: This was a “guest” post written by [the other guy], so he refers here to his experiences having lived in the area.  – Paul 

I understand that I am supposed to be filling in the gaps.  Gaps like spending the month of December in Leavitt and then driving over the Rocky Mountains in January.

We arrived in Leavitt around 11pm December 2.  It had been an extra long day of driving and just as the end of the road was near we experienced the mysterious fogging mirrors.  We had stopped for fuel just outside of Lethbridge and there was a light fog but as we entered the city the fog thickened.  Visibility was poor and we were looking to find a turnoff to the highway to go to Cardston.  Minutes before we were to change lanes to turn I noticed that the rear view mirrors had all iced over and I couldn’t see a thing behind or beside us.

Driving a 30 foot motorhome through the city is hard enough but without mirrors it’s darn near impossible.  I didn’t dare change lanes so we just followed the road we were on until we were able to safely pull over to the side of the road.  It just so happened the first safe spot to pull over was completely on the other side of Lethbridge going the opposite direction than we needed to go.  When it was finally safe I pulled over and we scraped the mirrors, turned the rig around and headed towards Cardston, our destination for December.  The fog and the moisture was not necessarily a bad thing as it was the beginning of a chinook which was a nice break from the unbearable cold that we felt in Winterpeg.

Read more…

posted by Paul in The Trip and have Comment (1)

Day Four: Three in One

Today we make HUGE time. After our short sleep and getting the RV warmed up every couple of hours to avoid total freezing of the engine we headed out very early on.

In a few hours, we’ve finished Manitoba and head into Saskatchewan. Nothing eventful in that last stretch to report; the roads were flat and it was cold.

Saskatchewan though was quite different: it was a bit warmer. The roads were still flat and we actually saw one or two slight curves. With a break or two for beverages and lunch, we motored on steadily.

This is what Saskatchewan looks like:

After numerous hours of the above or slight variations thereof (I swear there were one or two bends!) we eventually got out  of Saskatchewan and into Alberta. Alas, by that time the sun was down so I have no photos to post. There was also not very much difference in the roads until we got a little past Medicine Hat.

Read more…

posted by Paul in The Trip and have Comments (2)

Day Three: Farewell Ontario

When we woke up in the Marathon, ON Tourist Info spot at about 5 am, there were a half dozen trucks all around us (clearly we picked a popular spot) and there was a light snowfall happening.

The tight sleeping quarters were a bit of a problem; we had not planned that change of bed too well. Next time: more blankets!

After taking the dogs out for a quick pee and making sure the bird was secure, we went into Marathon proper, filled up with gas at a… SPG? (Swipe, Pump and Go) station, grabbed some coffees and muffins at the local Robins Nest and headed west for day three.

A note on the people we’ve met so far: Mostly gas station attendants and coffee servers but by and large a bunch of friendly and warm folk. For example, this morning getting into the gas station. Nice lady, even if gravelly of voice (probably smokes and beer) came out to help us with the gas card. Pointing out that the cards were typically topped off at $100 automatically, and showed us how to get a second fill from the same card. Lots of hon’s and friendly demeanour, even at 5 am.

Read more…

posted by Paul in The Trip and have Comments (2)

Day Two: Northern Ontariario

Today we start out very early, about 6 a.m., while it’s still dark. Although there is snow in the region of Parry Sound, the roads are clear and there is no or little actual snow falling.

We easily make it up to Sudbury and zoom by it.

Our next stop: Sault Ste. Marie. We stop at Wal*Mart (yes, sorry) and I run in to grab some McFood. 45 minutes later(!!), I emerge with a couple burgers. We chomp it down and we are off again, this time heading north along Lake Superior towards Wawa.

We note a sign saying “no more gas for xxx KMs” and look at the gas gauge – we won’t make it. So after about 10 minutes, we finally find a spot to turn around and head back towards the last gas station we saw. We fill up on Premium, the only kind they had there (they were upgrading their pumps) and head back up. Word to the wise: fill up in Sault Ste Marie where the gas is a tad cheaper if you are low.

About halfway up, we stop at a lookout spot and see a striking view of Lake Superior near sunset. Read more…

posted by Paul in The Trip and have Comments (2)

The First Stretch

Having to leave at 5 pm means we’ll be hitting a fair bit of rush hour traffic as we head up from Burlington towards Barrie, Ontario. And being November, it’s already starting to get dark. In no time, we’re (meaning [the other guy] at the wheel) officially driving at night. After a slight miscalulated turn and detour, we finally get onto Highway 401 and eventually onto the 400 headed north.

We make pretty decent time on our way to the first potential stop, Barrie, but as we got there at about 8 p.m.,[the other guy] felt ok to carry on so we headed onward towards Parry Sound.

We went a little further past Parry Sound to a spot near Horseshoe Lake where there was a truckers’ rest stop. This is where we set up for the night. At this point, there was a fair bit of snow that had fallen, not much traffic and only a few rigs in the parking lot. Signs posted there said “2 Hour maximum” but we hung out for about 6. It was about midnight when we stopped and let the dogs have a pee. We went to bed in the back of the RV on the actual bed, although the slide was closed, and after a few hours’ sleep, started off again.

Pretty good distance for what was a half day.

posted by Paul in The Trip and have No Comments

Take Off, Eh?

It’s finally here, Monday Nov. 29, 2010. It’s closing day and the house is ready to be turned over to the new owners. We’re doing lots of last minute stuff such as selling the ChevCav2002-3Cavalier at 8 a.m. (thanks Mark B, hope your daughter likes it!), the Jeep, stuffed with the bird’s big cage and the dogs’ carriers, is picked up to get shipped to Alberta, we’re getting the very last of the stuff out of the house and into the motorhome.

At 3:30, [the other guy] goes to the lawyer to pick up The Cheque and drop it immediately in the bank. When he comes back, we are going to try and make sure all is in its place and tucked away. The bird’s small cage is Velcro’d to the shelf above the passenger’s seat, the last of the laundry is dropped on the bed, we just need to get everything organized and battened down and ready for actual movement.

However, at 4:30, the new owner’s moving van shows up and they want to start unloading. Right now. [the other guy] comes back from the bank and we scramble to stuff the last bits in wherever we can. We still haven’t found a place to empty the black and grey tanks, there’s no fresh water in the main tank, the new owner (nice lady) arrives, apologizes for being too early but the somewhat surly movers are already at it so no sense making a huge deal of it.

We pull the motorhome out of the driveway and park it a bit further down the street. A few last minute good-byes to the neighbours (including our awesome, single neighbour Gail) and we take off, even if a little frazzled from the very quick and slightly too early exit.

But we are officially gone. On the road and heading west for a future unknown.

posted by Paul in Getting Ready to Roll and have No Comments

The plan takes shape

Once upon a time, there lived a couple of middle aged guys, [this “other guy”, who has since fucked off] and Paul (me!), who were doing the daily, expected type stuff, working to pay the bills, the mortgage, a vague plan to somehow get to the end without too much hassle. They had a house in the suburbs, two great dogs, a bird and decent health even though the occasional aches and pains reminded them they were no longer youngsters.

And in case you were wondering, yes they were gay and had been together for nearly 15 years. Although this fact enters the story, it isn’t the primary point at all.

Life wasn’t really bad, in fact it was alright but it certainly wasn’t awesome. Working at jobs that had long lost any pretence of interest, they trudged along on a somewhat ho-hum road.

Although both had their own particular hobbies which could elevate them for a while, one gardening, the other baking bread, these seemed to still be unable to overcome the general sense that the wheels were spinning but there wasn’t really much movement. Time was marching on and things weren’t really changing a whole lot.

Then in early summer of 2010, [the other guy] was sent out to teach a new product (he represented a medical equipment manufacturer) to hospital staff on Vancouver Island in British Columbia for Read more…

posted by Paul in Getting Ready to Roll and have Comments (12)