Old yet refreshing

Crossing the St. Lawrence river at Levis, you can see that this was a fortified old city. The garrison walls with their cannons stand guard over the river. The Chateau Frontenac hotel looms over the horizon in full grandeur. Taking the funicular train is a great way to get there.

We watched this motley trio enact the protection of the city.

more pictures to come…

 

La belle province…

Nothing quite prepares you for a night in a Walmart parking lot. Yet these are a must for boondockers… in a pinch.

After a great trip to Belleville, we needed a stopping off point before hitting Quebec. Brockville was the answer. Specifically a Walmart parking lot. A noisy trucker night it was.

A local couple eyed the RV, and filled us in on checking out the St. Lawrence waterfront.

When we woke up, we freshened up at Walmart, and made our way to Quebec, a brutally bumpy ride. I Google mapped our route, wanting to avoid going through Montreal’s busy city traffic. Somehow, as has happened before, the Google AI lost her voice, and before long we were traversing Montreal’s traffic chaos caused by a mass of construction.

Eventually  we were routed the wrong way. We pulled over in a parking lot and put Google away. I punched in the coordinates to our camping destination on the RV’s navigation and it guided us to the front door step. London friends Rob and Wendy suggested we stop at Camping Transit. Not a bad spot. They have a shuttle service that will take us to the ferry to Quebec City. A bonus is that their  restaurant delivers to your campsite! Which we took in.

Once we backed into our site, I was keen to use my YouTube knowledge and hook up our water and electricity. Everything seemed so simple. The A/C kicked in right away, cooling the rig, but when I checked the fresh water tank level it was empty. I checked the rig’s built-in service centre and noticed that there was a huge water pond building up.

Several calls to our dealer proved fruitless. I believe that a plug wasn’t put back after de-winterizing by the dealer. Anyway, a mobile rv mechanic will take a look tomorrow and hopefully will determine the problem.

Until then, bon soir.

Brockville bites…

After meeting a nice couple who loved our RV and suggested we go to check out Brockvilles waterfront, we headed over after a late dinner here. Gourmet microwaved Mac & cheese 🧀😁waterfront was a nice place but swarms of midges around. Frank said ‘watch out for the midges they can bite!’, so I misheard and was looking everywhere for biting midgets.
So after we sat for a little looking at the St. Lawrence and the top of my head getting eaten alive (Frank had a cap on so was saved) we left. Walking down the pathway ran onto another swarm and I did one of those flailing wildly and clapping with the arms thing. A couple were coming towards us and as they passed by with wary looks I wondered if they might have thought I was doing some weird greeting at them. Oh well, they had about 10 feet to walk into midge hell and they would understand heh heh.

Belleville Eden

Yesterday was great, left early and made it to our friends Ric and Catherine early afternoon in Belleville. They used to be our neighbours in Unionville and we haven’t seem them in years. They now live in a beautiful home with the most amazing huge backyard with a waterfall pond, lovely gardens, loads of very old trees and an abundance of wildlife. We sat outside enjoying it all while chatting.

Great to catch up again. Ric always played Santa 🎅 at local malls after retiring as a 👮. Good generous man. He always signs off with love, see below.

So a busy day today with more unexpected back and forth (no I didn’t leave my phone anywhere!). Reached Brockville a few hours ago and are parked at Walmart as they allow free parking across North America. We just needed an overnight spot and a few groceries so perfecto. We did our shopping, came back for a wee nap 😴 then Frank wanted to go back in but I was tired and hot.

So then I managed to drive Frank INSANE hee hee. He comes back and within a few minutes this weird high pitched buzzing/whine sounds off to the right side of the rig. We couldn’t figure out where it was coming from, looked outside, Frank went online to a forum, did the Systems check. He was getting rather stressed out!

Meanwhile when he was gone earlier it was getting hot so I found my little fan but it wouldn’t work….so I put it in the car door pocket. Then, it suddenly started working IN the car door after Frank got back. ! So after about 15 minutes of stress Frank said, is there anything down there? Voila! The noise is discovered and promptly turned off. I got one of those ‘too the moon Alice!’ fist shakes while I was killing myself laughing 😂

Poor Frank.

Oops

 

Day 1 of our ‘freedom from the rat race’ didn’t quite go as planned but there were some bright moments! After a hectic running around getting last minute packing, a teary and huggy 🤗 goodbye to Rhiana we HIT the road. Whoo hoo. Frank drove us to Toronto to meet with his lovely and fun Mum (Ann) for lunch at Congee Queen. That harkens back to years ago when I would take her to her eye doctor appointments and then we would go for fish congee with chinese doughnuts that you dip with, shrimp paste stuffed eggplant, green pepper and tofu. Good memories. So we ordered a small feast that we all enjoyed and lots of leftovers for her to take home.
After that we had a short but great visit with his Auntie Mina and Uncle Richard in Thornhill. So nice to see them again, it’s been ages! Really good people, if we were living closer I’m sure we would be getting together more often.

So catastrophe happens….I realize I left my phone charging back in London WITH my health & hospital cards tucked in a pocket on the back.
Oy Vey!!!!!!! So we try to figure out a plan with Rhi possibly sending it overnight by Fed Ex but we are not sure where we will be as we are flying by the seat of our pants!

So, Frank takes charge and said, we will just drive back (Which Rhiana had advised but I hate back tracking). So we had a great first day on our excellent adventure driving 200 km for lunch & a quick visit then back to London heh heh. Poor Frank, rather tired after leaving at 9am then pulling back in at 5:30. Luckily I was not the only one to blame as he left a few things too.
We went to Swiss Chalet and made a list of everything we need this time around.

Plan is to depart again tomorrow morning and head to Belleville to see our fav Unionville neighbours Ric and Catherine. Park overnight at their place and then head east. It’s been a bit of a hiccup but nice to come back to Rhiana after almost 10 hours and announce ‘we had a great trip!!!!!’

www.wonderwheels.ca

Time to downsize

With retirement looming ahead, we decided long ago to downsize.

Moving to London, Ontario from Unionville (north of Toronto) we chose a house slightly large than the previous and one much older, sitting in a well-establish community. Having owned five houses between us, this was by far the best and the neighbours on this block are irreplaceable, all of them friendly, warm and inviting – right from day one. We realized that the house was just too big, and after seven years of living in it with age and changing health patterns creeping up on us, it was time to put downsizing into motion.

No not the RV.

Don’t get the wrong idea. Moving from a house to an RV is a bit extreme – even for us. Though truth be told, we did consider it. For now we’ll settle for a solid roof over our heads, but with less of the upkeep that our lovely house afforded. When the snow thrower cacked, it was tough going shoveling snow out of our long shared driveway, with no where to go but straight ahead. When we found out that our cast iron drainage pipes were completely rusted through from one side of the building to the other. The house seemed to be pushing us away. And rightly so. We were done.

What to do next? Purge!

One of Robyn’s favourite pastimes is to go local garage sales on the weekends, when the weather permitted. Coming home with an assortment of trinkets and tidbits that other people disgarded for pennies. It was her thing, and for the most part she has had great pickings. She was always proud to point out the tasteful items around the house and garden that were garnered from someone’s weekend yard sale. She even instigated a street sale with our neighbours with the hopes of unloading some of our disgards too. Well, the thought was there. The buyers weren’t always around, so whatever had sentimental value stayed, while the rest went to the Goodwill charity.

Having a large house means that it can hold more stuff. There is so much room to cram things in and accumulate more things that we know of or really care about. It was time to go.

Landfill or recycle.

Modern age has spawned a throw away society. We live in a time where we spend and disgard frivolously. Giving unbroken or unworn items to charity allows those items a second life in another’s hands by keeping those once-used things out of a landfill and enhancing someone’s being.

We are not perfect by any means, but we’d rather giveaway than dump. Which is what we have done in our quest to rid ourselves of useful belongings. I always feel guilty bringing a load to the dump. Will it be buried for generations only to be dug up by some futuristic archeologist, or made into landfill extending a building project into the Great Lakes? On a recent occasion where we were dropping off used items to Goodwill and later visiting the dump, I mentioned to the Goodwill worker that “only part of our items were to be recycled – the rest were going to the dump”. To which he commented under his breath, “some people think we’re the dump”!

The purge continues.

Photo by Pascal Thauvin

 

 

The Chosen One

Many factors come in to play when you have the choices put forward by the motorhome industry. How you approach those choices depends soley on personal visions and aspirations.

Our manufacturer of choice was Leisure Travel Vans from Manitoba, Canada. Handmade quality with years of experience building recreational vehicles that exude first class design and construction. What a sales pitch! Sure they are not the cheapest in the field, but as a much sought after product, these vehicles hold their value, and that meant a lot!

We liked the three LTV brands, the Serenity, the Unity and the Wonder. And with over 10 different floorplans between them, we were going to have to dig deep and reason out our choices. We sent away for all the brochures and watched the LTV YouTube channel repeatedly until we narrowed down what we each liked about the vans.

floorplan

We fine-tuned our choice to the Unity TB and the Wonder RTB.

Both floorplans had rear twin beds that could convert to one huge Queen+ bed. Both had ample storage. The Unity is built on a Mercedes chassis, while the Wonder is built on a Ford chassis. As previously mentioned, storage and functionality feature high on our list as did price. However serviceabliity was a big factor with me being non-mechanically inclined. As was the expansive storage and price. Add in all the available options (four solar panels, an onboard generator plus loads more) and we have a winner!

By now, you will have realized our choice was the Wonder RTB.

Check out the video below to see what we got ourselves into.

Dreaming of adventure

carillo-beach-costa-rica

It started with seeing a few photo posts on social media. Tropical paradises. Warm weather – year round. Exotic food. Beaches and palm trees.

Choosing to retire garnered thoughts about what to do to fill the “void” of work routine. Not wanting to sit still, we knew we had to go someplace. Both of us adore traveling together and seeing places we’ve never been before. We loved the spiritual qualities of the Andes and Amazon in Peru, the rainforest and coasts of Costa Rica, the Maritime Provinces of Canada. What exotic ventures could we get up to? Having been to Singapore and Hong Kong I thought we could choose the far east, travel extensively and possibly live within these ancient cultures. We discussed various locales, expat communities and sights to see, foods to try out and people to meet. Thailand, Cambodia or Malaysia were ideas.

After about a year of living vicariously through the camera lenses of other travelers, our focus changed on how we were to make these voyages. We still wanted a “home” base in London, Ontario. The kids were here albeit grown up, and our friends were too. But how could we proceed? It was all too easy to hop on a plane from London, but on several online accounts I followed were young adventurers who took to the road and explored overland. Using converted vans and buses, they were able to stay off the grid, go wherever they wanted, stay as long as they wanted or move on to another destination. This appealed to me greatly. I liked that idea so much the mind started ticking… We like traveling by car and have done many trips this way, out east, out west across the Rockies. We could do this! It was all falling into place. Drive to the west coast – see all our friends who live in that direction – as much of Canada as we could along the way, ditch the vehicle and fly to Asia. Wait! What?

Many YouTube videos later, we figured out the countries we wanted to visit or stay at, based on finances and healthcare, and the cultures we wanted to experience. We even know people who lived there. Bonus!

Wake up! It was a dream.

After much, sometimes heated deliberation, that “dream” is on the shelf –  for now. However, traveling in a van was still a viable and mutually agreeable mode of transport to begin our adventure.

Yay! A new dream lives!

However, realizing we are not twenty something hippies anymore and with more focus on our daily needs (creaking bones and aching muscles) meant that ‘comfort’ was the prime objective to our enjoyment. Don’t get me wrong. We are campers – used to sleeping in tents on ever deflating air mattresses and wearing clothes that reek of campfire smoke – rain or shine. Traveling overland for thousands of miles without wi-fi or a flushable toilet though, was out of the question. As was showering outside!

More research. More videos. More reviews. More bourbon!

Right off the bat… indoor plumbing. A dry bath, meaning, being able to have a shower without sitting on the toilet. It had to be separate. Storage – a huge factor in vans. Apart from floating storage bins, many customized vehicles use the space under the raised bed or seating for storing clothing, food, water and fuel. Raising the bed seemed daunting enough. Class B vans seemed about right, but where do we put all our stuff?

Bye bye custom van. No way Westfalia. We need something a tad larger.

Here’s the thing, looking at all the different types of motorhomes on the market can be overwhelming at first, but I decided straight away that I didn’t want to have to tow anything. That cut out a lot. Same with fifth-wheel. Class A motorhomes are the size of a bus. Too big says papa bear. Class C vehicles may sleep more, but still big and bulky.

Weeks passed with more research and mailed-in brochures – then it finally came down to Class B+ vans. Not too big. Not too small. Interior and exterior storage. Separate shower and bathroom and modern-looking cabinetry and amenities. We looked at the big players from south of the border – Airstreams, Winnebagos and more, but two Canadian manufacturers stood out and played to our patriotism. More reviews, more videos and such a variety of floorplans to choose from. We really liked the Pleasure Way products (made in Saskatchewan) and had a tour of a couple at a nearby RV dealer. The vans had just what we wanted. Then we checked out (online) the Leisure Travel Vans (made in Manitoba) and needed to see one in person. They had more space and extra seating! This was a good thing.

Winter was coming.

The camper season was over and it would be a few months before the RV shows began making their rounds to nearby cities. During that time we focused on the offerings of the two Canadian manufacturers. The reviews showed us that their construction quality and price was comparable. We watched the sales and user videos over and over again and ultimately chose the Leisure Travel Vans (LTV). We had spent so much time on this, that we knew for sure this would play a big part in our new dream adventure. Then LTV spokesman Dean Corrigal introduced the world to the new “baby”, the 2019 Wonder RTB and we knew this was what we had been looking for.

Geez I hate shoveling snow!