This day was going to be our shortest drive yet! According to Google Maps we needed just under 5 hours to do it. Our experience thus far told us it would be more like 6+ hours, but still! It sure was nice to sleep in, take our time with breakfast and packing, and get on the road by 11:00 am knowing we still had plenty of time to make it to our destination. Continue reading Day 6 – Moncton to North Sydney
I’m no stranger to road trips. I’ve done all sorts of road trips. Growing up in southern Manitoba we had a chicken farm with about 8000 hens in one barn for laying eggs, 4000 chicks in another barn that we would raise for laying and during the summer another 1000 “meat birds”, we called them, that would roam the yard until their appointed time. All the barns had different rotations, but there would be one point during the year that all the barns would be empty at the same time and that was perfect for a road trip.
There were bike trips to Oklahoma or BC. Mom had her bike with sidecar, Dad had his bike with sidecar and all of us kids (and depending on the year there were gradually up to 5 of us) would have our helmets and climb into the sidecar and off we’d go. On rainy days we’d have a cover that would snap on over the sidecars where we’d stay dry. We also had rain suits that my mom sewed for us for extra protection.
There was the one year we drove down to Bradenton, Florida with another family for the dads to attend a short seminary course. We were 4 siblings at that point and we took our “coupe” that whole way (no seatbelts, baby!) and lived in a camper for 3 months. I can still remember the warnings to stay away from the water just close to our camper in case an alligator would eat us. Kinda wondering now if that was legit or something exaggerated we were told to keep us away from the water.
My sister sent me a picture this week while we’ve been travelling of all 5 of us siblings in an RV that we rented one year to drive down to Brownsville, Texas. Check out that carseat!! My sister called it a 5-gallon pail with straps. Pretty much describes it. I showed my girls and the oldest is now royally jealous that she doesn’t get to have the RV style road trip. I don’t blame her. I love our travel trailer, but as a kid it was SO much fun to have that space to move around in the back while we drove. No confined seating. I can still picture us flying down the interstate with mom bracing herself at the stove as she cooked up creamed corn and I sat in the dinette reading one of my 33 Hardy Boy mystery novels that were lined up along the full back of the camper. Now, I don’t know much about RV life and rules as that trip was my only experience, but my gut tells me the cooking part of that memory probably wasn’t allowed. MAN, those memories are hilarious!!
I went on to love road trips when I got my own car and license. A month long trip circling around North America, a rented car taken all over Europe, driving the perimeter of the island of Bonaire just north of Venezuela, weekend trips where it was nothing to drive 16 hrs one way only to spend a day and turn around to get back for work Monday.
On a good number of these trips the one thing that I rarely experienced was rest stops and lunch breaks. My dad is and has been for almost forever, a trucker. And truckers have point A, point B and a deadline. So I became accustomed to long drives with no stops for any reason. Sometimes it was all day and then all night as well. Hey, if you can make creamed corn while driving, why on earth would you stop?!!! (I’m fairly certain there was a pot of wieners boiling there as well.)
Now, in the present, as we’re driving along I’m fully aware of every time we are able to stop and take in some of the stops along the way. I’ve been so thankful for the times that we’ve been able to see a sign for something and stop right away to check it out. Even the times we’ve stopped to eat just off to the side at a gas station have turned out to be moments of fun. Erick agreed the other day that it’s made the long days of driving a lot less of a chore and it’s something I really wanted this trip to include.
I’m not going to go into long stories about each rest stop, but I want to share pictures of some of the stops along the way so I’ll try to keep the descriptions as short as I can and let you enjoy the scenery. Heavy on the pics today.
This is Little Limestone which was actually before we had even picked up our camper, but we have driven past this hidden gem for 9 years and never took the time to stop. Trish told us they stopped for a picnic here earlier this summer so we thought “How relaxing! Let’s stop too!”. Oh. My goodness! I live in bush, but I have NEVER seen that many mosquitos coating my legs at one time. This little detour lasted 39 seconds and included what appears to be a quick interpretive dance that I fondly refer to as “One Trillion Mosquitos: Trish Clearly Lied About the Picnic”. I’m afraid there was simply no time for artistic impression through photos. Just dance.
Gas station lunch in Ontario. This is what happens when the girls see the other camper pull in.
Lookout point in Ontario.
You may have already seen some of Trish’s pics of our lunch stop at Aguasabon Falls, ON. Here’s just a couple of ours.
Now, here I have some Ottawa pictures and you may be thinking, “Sherri, that’s not a rest stop.” and we might get into a small discussion about technicalities. In my opinion, it is. Yes, we had planned to go all along, but due to our delay in Sault St, Marie we had all but decided to skip Ottawa. We couldn’t miss our ferry to Newfoundland and Ottawa was supposed to be our only 2 night stop along the way with a full day to go and enjoy the sights. Instead, it became a rest stop while we motored on thru Ontario.
Trish already mentioned about the parking fiasco (apparently we can’t always trust the visitor centre info). Erick and I had ourselves quite the little drive in downtown Ottawa with our trailer and the whole time I kept thinking “Yankes are going to hate maneuvering down these streets with their longer trailer!” I’m so glad we were far enough ahead to stop them from getting too far in. We eventually found a Wal-mart and took a cab from there. While Trish mentioned asking permission at “thier” Wal-mart, we chose to Park and Pray. It seemed to work.
When we got back from our walk around the Parliament building we dug into the budget for some well deserved treats that just happened to match the girls’ clothes. It’s fun and also a bit disturbing somehow, but only to me. The girls were oblivious to thoughts of food dyes.
The abandoned campground in Quebec. We stopped to get gas only to find no gas and only the most quaint little campground with garbage still in the garbage bins in the cabins and weeds grown up in front of the doors so you know no one had been there for awhile. It was so curious. Erick found a french sign up somewhere that he was pretty sure said it was a bank closure thing which is so sad. A perfect place to stop for lunch and get some fun pictures.
Just past there was a sign for the longest covered bridge in the world. So we stopped. It was in a tiny little town and the roads weren’t necessarily made for big rigs. It was another of many moments where I’ve been glad our trailer is quite small. I rarely feel like we are too big to fit. That said, we parked the car and trailer in a parking lot close to the bridge. It was a steep decline down. Too steep for us to see to the bottom whether or not there was a spot for us to turn around. Though there was a good chance we could fit into the tunnel, we didn’t want to get to the bottom and find out we couldn’t and then have to back all the way up that steep hill. Those are situations camper nightmares are made of.
And I’ll end with 2 look out points in Nova Scotia as we got closer to the ferry. Everything just gorgeous! We knew when we were planning this trip that the maritimes were going to be somewhere we wanted to stay. And that is definitely the case. There’s a whole lot of conversation around the campfires about moving to Newfoundland. I’ve checked into the housing market and spent a good hour in the laundry facilities last night talking with a resident about taxes here, winters, road conditions, housing… all the things I’d need to know. I joke. But then again, #EpicRoadTrip2017 was just a joke at one point too….!!!
Our drive this day was going to be slightly shorter than what we’d been doing up until this point (think 8-9 hours rather than 10-11), and so we didn’t feel as pressured to get up at the crack of dawn to be on the road. That being said, we also didn’t want to get stuck in the parking lot once Walmart opened and cars started coming in! Sherri and I had a quick discussion about where we should try to camp that night (near Moncton, NB), and decided on Stonehurst Golf Course and RV Park. We called to make reservations, and were on the road by 9:00 am. Continue reading Day 5 – Quebec City to Moncton, NB
We got up early, in hopes of catching up to Sherri and Erick, who were about 2 ¾ hours ahead of us. By the time they were up and leaving, we were only about 45 min. behind them.
As we worked our way towards Ottawa, we wondered how we could get in to see Parliament Hill (with our trailers in tow). Dale suggested I just call their visitor information line, and so I did. The guy suggested 3 options (there is no parking right at Parliament Hill) Continue reading Day 4 – to Ottawa…..and beyond!
(Okay, full disclosure: this post is heavy on the writing and light on the pictures. I’ll try to do better next time! )
Dale was up early today so he could be at the dealership by the time they opened at 8:00. The rest of us took advantage of the fact that we could sleep in, since we knew we wouldn’t be leaving Sault Ste. Marie until at least noon now. Continue reading Day 3 – Sault Ste. Marie to North Bay and Pembroke (Ontario)
Now that it was Monday, Dale’s first priority was to call the local (Thunder Bay) GMC dealerships to see if either of them happened to have a replacement rear suspension unit in stock; and an appointment available to fix it that day. Yep, I know – it was a long shot, but it had been weighing on his mind the whole drive the day before. Not surprisingly, neither place had one. The second dealership, however, looked up whether anyone else in the area was carrying one. We asked him if he could check in Sault. Ste. Marie (as that’s where we were headed next). In an answer to prayer, it turns out they did! Dale quickly called that dealership. They did indeed have the part and put it on reservation for him. They were also able to get us in first thing the next morning to repair it. This was going to affect our travel plans a bit, as we had another 800 kms planned for Tuesday, and we now would not be leaving until at least noon. Continue reading Day 2 – Thunder Bay to Sault Ste. Marie
“I love rocks!” I exclaimed today while in the Sudbury, Ontario Wal-Mart parking lot.
“Girls! Throw some rocks at Mami!! She likes rocks!”, says Erick.
The interpretation of the actual words out of my mouth leave much to be desired.
I’ve been completely enamoured with all the cut out crevices along on the roads and in Sudbury the town has walls of this cut rock all over the place. I don’t know why I find it so fascinating. It’s especially when there are all sorts of trees, shrubs and flowers growing out from the nooks and crannies. But it bugs me that I can’t just stop in the highway and take pictures. I’m forced to be content with drive-by photos through the windows.
This involves great finesse as I quickly turn on the camera, find my focus, centre on the most artistic view I can possibly get at 90 km/hr, try to maneuver around the dead bugs all over the windshield, and the glare from the sun on the dashboard, and the dreaded crack!!
This crack!!! Completely in my line of sight and today I noticed it matches the scratch across the right lens of my prescription sunglasses…… Lovely (she says in deadpan manner).
I wish I had a picture for one particular experience coming around a rocky corner right into a construction area. There in the middle of the road was the guy holding the stop sign. It all had a real Sasquatch feel to it. Perhaps it was his incredibly unruly hair or the huge grin with the lack of numerous teeth that is clearly due to previous games of chicken with cars coming around that corner! We hit the brakes pretty hard and he sat there calm as can be, big toothless grin, just daring us to run him over. It was a moment when I wish we had a dash cam… pointed at us! For all we know, we could have had a real Sasquatch sighting and we’ll never know for sure. Prayers for the guy whose clothes and hard hat he stole, I guess.
This week is really our week of long drives in our effort to get across the country and be able to spend some longer stays in the campgrounds out east. We planned it this way because we figured the beginning of the trip would be the time when we’re motivated and excited to go. The assumption is that after a few weeks we won’t be quite as excited (or the kids) for the super long drives. However, we had a longer stop than we planned in Sault St Marie, ON.
If you’ve read in a previous post about the big bang you’ll remember Dale and Trish needed to get some car work taken care of. The parts and a perfect “first thing in morning” appt were waiting for us in Sault St Marie so it gave us the chance to sleep in and relax. I have to say it sure was a nice treat. I’m starting to become accustomed to the different bed and don’t wake up as much during the night so this was probably my best sleep so far. And MUCH needed.
The campground we stayed at was called Bell’s Point Beach Campground. It was one we called on the way to the city and not one previously booked. RV Park Reviews gives it 4.9/10. Not the best ratings, but the bonus was that it was close to the dealer Dale needed to be at early in the morning.
I would say 4/10 is a fair review. Though the scenery is beautiful, it wasn’t quite what I expected. We paid for the water/electric service and couldn’t use either so I probably should’ve gotten some money back, but I didn’t want to argue. Here’s an idea of how far we were from the tap and outlets.
There was a fairly good size drop that we’d have to attempt to manage while going around a huge stump (just on the other side of our trailer) in order to reach our water and power. This is NOT something that we were willing to do still feeling so very, very new to backing up trailers. We should probably invest in some longer hoses and cords thought. This is not likely the only place we’d need them.
Some friendly campers from Red Deer, AB offered us an extension cord that would reach. Still no go. We’ve installed the Progressive Industries HW30C 30amp surge protector. It works.
We had low voltage issues so it kept kicking out the power. We can only assume this was because the surrounding 3-4 other campers were all plugged into the same post and it just wasn’t enough for that many people. I have to admit I was a little conflicted on how much I loved that surge protector since everyone else around us was happily enjoying the power they paid for and apparently quite oblivious about the low voltage. I should probably rather be glad that we know our camper is protected quite well from voltage issues.
The one other reason I think that 4 is a fair rating for this campground is the general confusion when trying to find your site and the fairly “rustic” style with stumps all over the place. The guys happened to notice a guy trying to back up his camper and somehow ended up driving his pickup right onto the fire ring. For some reason they both looked at ME and said “See? That’s why spotters are important.”….. Really? So much pressure!
Anyway, I can only imagine when they decided to open this campground they took all the site markers and threw them in the air and wherever they landed, there was a site! I tried to take a picture of the grounds to really showcase the feel, but I don’t know if they really do it justice. The roads are just packed down grass and trailers are parked in every angle possible. It took us forever just to figure out where we were supposed to park. Do we go lengthwise? Widthwise? Down the hill? On top of the stump? On top of the fire ring?! Should we just flip the trailer upside down? What is the best way??? This all did not help the genuine marriage test that is backing up the trailer as a married couple! Thankfully, today we are still driving the same direction, in the same vehicle.
But we’ve learned a few new things.
- Always check to see where your power/water is situated before you unhitch.
- Take the sway bars off before pulling out from under the hitch. Just in case a bar flings around (in a completely random way) and knocks out a piece of wood that you have piled under the tongue jack.
- When doing long drive days, take the time to do your bigger meal at lunch so that you can do the quick sandwich style for supper and you’re not trying to set up while getting HANGRY!
If you’re an Instagram junkie, I’ve been posting a few daily pics over on my account. Feel free to go check them out. It’s my regular sewing account though, so fair warning on the sewing posts! 🙂
Well, today was our first day heading into new territory. Despite the 1000 km we’d already travelled to get to Winnipeg, it didn’t really feel like we were doing anything different until we set out from there. (We do that Winnipeg trip at least once or twice a year to visit family.) The day started early and with a bang! Literally. A bang. Continue reading Day 1 – Winnipeg to Thunder Bay
Our Epic Journey of summer 2017 has FINALLY begun. Well, sort of. The first order of business was to head south and pick our trailers up out of storage. I hear many people talk about how their trailers are stored away from home; like, even up to 2 hours away! Well, ours were stored about 12 hours away. The long distance to get to anywhere/do anything kind of becomes “par for the course” when you live in the somewhat remote regions of northern Manitoba.
We took it in two parts to get to the south (Winnipeg area). The first day was simply the trip out from our town to the next big city. At one point, near the start of the drive, you have to cross over a dam. When coming home I always watch for this dam – it’s the point at which I feel like we’re home (even though it’s 20 min. from town). Our oldest gets very concerned if Dale drives too slowly across (not that you can drive fast either). It IS kind of cool (scary?) to look to one side and see the water almost up to the road height; then look to the other side and see it plunging multiple stories to meet the river below.
Once past the dam, it’s about a 3.5 hour drive down this road:
Our two families spent that first night in a hotel (well, 2 different hotels actually). The one (newer) hotel that the Herrera’s stayed at won’t let us stay there anymore. Intrigued? This story involves tears, drugs, and a trip to the hospital. Okay: I had another baby, and our family is now too big to stay in any of their rooms.
The next day we headed out on the 700 km drive to Winnipeg. Herrera’s had a quick appointment first, then they also hit the road. We had to stop just north of Winnipeg to drop off some things we were transporting down for my friend Ricci (who very recently moved south *sniff sniff tear*), and for Herrera’s to pick up their trailer – which was stored at Ricci and Steve’s new house. The kids got a chance to run around; we got a chance for a quick visit; and then it was off to my parents house where our trailer was stored.
We spent 2 nights there, us in the house, Herrera’s in their trailer. This gave us one day to do any last minute grocery shopping, supply buying, camper packing/arranging and get to various appointments.
This camper purchase is a pretty big deal. We didn’t just go through our pocket change one day and say, “Hey! We have enough for a camper here! Let’s go buy one!” Continue reading Travel on a Budget…. Can we do it?