July’s Windshield View

July starts off with Ontario just entering stage 2 of Ontario’s road map to reopening. It is also the second long weekend of the summer as we here in Canada celebrate Canada Day. July 1st, this year falls on a Thursday, and because Canada Day is celebrated on the actual first day of July, this year will have many people also taking the Friday off as well to make a four day long weekend. And as of the 16th of July we have progressed to Stage 3 of the road map, which means inside dining is back, along with many other real life things like going to the movies and there will even be a return of the Toronto Blue Jays to their home stadium in Toronto for a true home opener on July 30th. And we are still tucked into site #217 at LHR (Lake Huron Resort) same as the last few months, the windshield sun shade is still in place so this month’s photo is of a smoky sunset from the beach here at LHR, the smoke is from the hundreds of forest fires from British Columbia to Northern Ontario, and causes the sun to look quite red at sunset.

Just another Lake Huron sunset.

July 2017: Found the Buchanan’s in Chicago, boondocking in the truck staging yard just a few hundred yards from the McCormick convention centre, where we were attending the Lions convention. This was an international Lions convention so people from all over the world were attending so there were thousands of people, the venue was outstanding we enjoyed a concert by the Beach Boys one evening and of course a concert by Chicago on another, there were some great events with reports from all the corners of the world. One of the highlights of the convention had to be the parade of countries with Lions clubs representing their clubs from over 250 countries, it went on for nearly three hours blocking off State Avenue in Chicago for most of the day.

Now I would be amiss if I didn’t take the time to talk about the great work that “Lions International” does around the world, This is a service club that puts the money they collect to the best possible use. Unlike most charities there is no CEOs pulling in a six figure salary from donated monies, and any club expenses are paid by our annual club dues, the last stats I seen had the donation was like 98% of all money raised going to the causes most needed, unlike some of the better advertised charities where they struggle to give much more than 50% to the actual cause after paying the companies that they hire for collecting their donations. If you want to donate to the most recent, pressing issues in the world, send your money through your local lions club, not to some rich CEO like at the Red Cross! Or a charity that hires people to solicit your hard earned dollars and only turns a small portion collected to the actual cause, Don’t believe me just google it!

I would also be a miss if I didn’t mention that I also damaged the coach while we were in Chicago, as you know we started this adventure with our two cats Mr. Divot who we lost in the fall of 2019 and Mr. Sam who still travels with us today. Well as we were leaving the truck staging yard in downtown Chicago, Mr. Sam who still to this day does not enjoy moving days in the coach, decided just as I driving through a very narrow exit gate, that it is time to climb under the dash, which excited Miss Laurie, who distracted me even more than the cat climbing under the dash and I must have turned the wheel and damaged the right rear fender area against a yellow guard post. I have had the fender repaired but we are still missing some of the stainless steel trim … so far the first and only serious issue.

From Chicago we headed north up in to the Wisconsin Dells area, a very scenic area with many lakes, we stayed for a couple of nights at a Casino campground, remember this was very early into our learning days so in Wisconsin we learnt that we should purchase a weather app for our phones because there was such a sever storm one night that the campground sent out staff to knock on rig doors to warn people, and we also was starting to understand that when campgrounds say they have Wi-Fi included they are basically lying to you, because you may be able to get connect to their network with a password, but the speed (bandwidth) will be too slow to do any actual work and if you were considering streaming anything for entertainment “just forget about it!”

Now you have to remember that we are on our maiden trip with the coach, and there were a number of things that were not operating as well as they could have, some things because they needed repairs others just because we didn’t know what we didn’t yet know. In fact one major item we didn’t figure out for over a full year, actually we were in Newfoundland in September 2018 before we found a magic switch, which has made our lives much better but I will leave you hanging on that little issue for now.

From Wisconsin we headed west through Minnesota before turning south through Iowa towards Kansas City, where we found another casino campground, this one less expensive with a lot more perks. On the first trip I did not keep track of things as close as I do today but I remember this campground had all pull throughs concrete sites, with full 50 amp hookups, water, sewer, cable TV, use of casino hotel swimming pool, use of casino hotel fitness room, shuttle to and from the casino and it was $20 cash that you dropped into an “iron ranger”, hell we didn’t even know what an “iron ranger” was at that point of our travels.

Our next booked campground was in Kansas City Missouri so we could attend Miss Laurie’s Scentsy convention, and some where along the line we wandered into a Midwest heat wave, so we just spent a few extra nights at the casino with full hook ups to power the air conditioners. Our coach has two roof air conditioners, but obviously the rear unit was not pulling its weight as this heat wave started to hit really us. The casino was just a few hours north of our Kansas City destination and another thing we learnt was that most decent campgrounds are fully booked in the summer months, so our next campground was combined with a waterpark which while not something that we would normally book in to, but it was our only option, but when we did arrive we did spent a day in a lazy river with a few thousand screaming kids, but it was the coolest spot in Missouri we could find.

So we also learnt that we could run the roof air conditioners, if we started the generator and ran it as we drove, so from the casino in Iowa to the waterpark campground we ran the generator and the roof air conditioners. Now one of the things on any ones to do list when in Kansas City would have to go out for some good Bar-B-Que, and not knowing Kansas City, I of course googled the best Bar-B-Que in Kansas City, and secondly I googled the nearest to us Bar-B-Que and one name came up in both searches, it was Gates Bar-B-Que and they had multiple locations and one was not far from our water park location. Again as I said we did not know Kansas City at all so we made our way to this closest location, also remember we are Canadian, and I have worked in Toronto for many years so I’m used to a multicultural society, so I paid no attention to our surroundings until we were there and in the restaurant, and by then we ordered a variety of meats, and sides, and everything was just as good as the reviews had claimed. And it wasn’t until we were almost finished pigging out when we noticed we were most certainly the minority in this area, and it wasn’t until we exited the restaurant that we noticed the security guard in the parking lot, and came to the realization that this just may not the best area of Kansas City. All was well and the Bar-B-Que did not disappoint, but while at the convention we talked with some locals, and they explained that that particular area was a little rough and made a suggestion for a spot that they claimed was an even better Bar-B-Que spot but it was over the state line in Kansas City Kansas, not to be confused with Kansas City Missouri.

Now after a little research I discovered that this was a mainly a take-out spot, well there were maybe ten tables available, but there was also a line of thirty or forty people when we we got there for lunch so we decided on take-out, and as with so many good Bar-B-Que spots ambiance is not a real important feature to their locations. This location was called “Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que Slaughterhouse Five Competition Bar-B-Que Team”, I know the name is a mouth-full but the wait in line was well worth it. Joe’s is located in an operating gas station, I kid you not, we were lined up in the gas station store between the aisles of confectionary and soda dispensers. There are over fifty Bar-B-Que places in Kansas City alone, and having tried Bar-B-Que in Texas, St. Louis, the Carolinas, and Florida, we have learned that there are so many different styles and flavours and that preference is totally personal, but we seem to enjoy most of them and the differences can be big and bold or sweet and subtle, but each one is all about that smoke ring!

With the temperatures still high as we prepared to left Kansas City and start to head east as our journey was nearing its end, so after a days drive across Missouri with the generator and the roof air conditioner running we needed to find a campground with a fifty amp hookup, and Miss Laurie found one just east of St. Louis, now Miss Laurie loving refers to this as the campground (resort) from Deliverance, as we pulled in the location, to say it was a little scary would be an understatement, but it had a 50 amp connection and we needed it to run the air conditioner so it served a purpose. Because the site was small I had to disconnect the tow vehicle off of the dolly, so we took that as a sign to go out for dinner while the coach cooled down enough to allow us a comfortable nights sleep. And keeping in the food theme we made our way into downtown St. Louis to our favourite Calzone restaurant “Sauce on the Side” which we had discovered a few years earlier at another Scentsy convention, I fact Sauce on the Side was one of our most recent restaurant stops in the States, when we passed through St. Louis in April of 2020 on our way to Ontario.

After dinner we returned to the coach, and just closed all the shades and curtains, and settled in for the night, the park looked no better the next morning but it had served the purpose, luckily the heat was starting to break so we made a run across Illinois, Indiana, and settled into a Walmart in Ohio, we parked near the back of the lot and discovered the next morning that we were parked beside the horse shelters, yes horse hitching posts for the Amish that visited the Walmart. Again it has been a reasonably steep learning curve, which still continues today, it is all about preparation, researching areas with phone apps, and google. We have purchased a number of apps that are so helpful, and you must read and reread reviews, as some reviews are either purchased (the ones that are too good to be true) or done by a supporter, and there also ones that are obviously just someone with a bone to pick, most likely they got kicked out of the park for being an idiot. So read all the reviews, there are no perfect campgrounds or boondocking sites they all have pro’s and con’s, so look for sites that fit your needs at the time.

So four weeks after starting our maiden trip we found ourselves heading back across the border into Canada and making our way back to our sticks and bricks house in Fonthill, where we both were sure that we were making the right decision and the coach was everything we had hoped and needed, oh it needs constant care and repairs, but they all do so be prepared and accept the inevitable.

July 2018: Found the Buchanan’s making final preparations for our trip to the Atlantic provinces, although we did move the coach to the Lions Hall in Fonthill so that we could assist with the Canada Day Fonthill Lions food booth at Spencer Black Park, as this was always one of the Clubs biggest fund riser, and usually involved chopping and cooking 500 pounds of potatoes for french fries and ribbon cut fries, along with hamburgs and hot dogs for hundreds of people.

After the Canada Day trip to Fonthill we headed back to Fifty Point Conservation Area for a couple of days of final preparations as we were headed east to catch a ferry to Newfoundland on the 15th of the month. We of course had no reservations for camping until Codroy Valley Campground in Newfoundland, so we headed east through Toronto on July 4th and spent our first evening at a casino near the 1000 Islands near the St. Lawrence River 235 miles (378 km). And July the 5th had us eastbound through Montreal in the province of Quebec where we settled into a mall parking lot near Drummondville Quebec making another 225 mile (362 km) day when driving through large cities with heavy traffic and lots of suburbs to get through, finding good boondocking places to overnight means some longer mileage days, and our next day was another long day at 270 miles (434 Km) as we turned to head south into New Brunswick we settled into another Walmart parking lot in Edmundston, now is when we had planned to slow the pace down and start seeing some of the sights.

Let it be said that Canada is a beautiful country pretty much any where you might travel, and the trip to the east coast is no exception with the drive through forested areas along the St. Lawrence river, it is a rugged country with large farms nestled in the fertile valleys. It had been years since I had been east and July 7th we covered only 100 miles (160 Km) to Woodstock New Brunswick, where we found a Walmart and disconnected the toad and headed for a covered bridge and toured a potato chip factory (Covered Bridge Potato Chips) just outside of Woodstock. And on the 8th of July we headed a little further south to Monkton New Brunswick only 170 miles (273 km) down the road, we mixed it up a little staying in a mall parking lot with a Bass Pro Shop.

Tidal wave in Monkton New Brunswick

Now any one that has been to the east coast has to be aware of the huge tides in the Bay of Fundy as well as the tidal wave (3-6 feet) that runs up the Petitcodiac river all the way to Monkton. referred to as the chocolate tide by the locals because of the muddy wave that sometimes does get large enough to be surfed. At Hopewell Rocks NB there is a Provincial Park that gives everyone a chance to appreciate then actual tides, when you buy your ticket it is good for 24 hours so that you can see it at the tide at its lowest and again at its highest and 12.9 metres / 42.3 feet on average. We actually booked into the Ponderosa Campground at Hopewell Rocks to take full advantage of this amazing phenomena. Now the Ponderosa Campground is not a destination campground, lets just say the sites are so small and tight that we couldn’t put the awning all the way out on our coach, but it was close to a location that we wanted to visit and was less than 35 miles (60 Kms) from Monkton. We spent lots of time walking on the floor of the bay at low tide and were amazed to see the same spot at high tide, and we were able to take in the tidal wave a couple of times as well. Hopewell Rocks is a must see, in fact it could almost be the sole reason for the trip it as it is that spectacular.

July 11th we headed back to the mall parking lot to restock with supplies as we prepared to head south to Nova Scotia, and its right about now that we are starting to realize that we had not given ourselves enough time to see the Atlantic provinces to the depth that we should have. On the 12th we travelled 175 miles (281 km) to Antigonish Nova Scotia, again to a Walmart parking lot where we took the toad and did some exploring on the shore of the bay of St. Lawrence where there was more fossils than I had ever seen in one area before, again we seemed to be rushed for time as we also wanted to drive the Cabot trail in Cape Bretton before catching the ferry to Newfoundland.

July 13th added another 130 miles (209 km) east to Sydney Nova Scotia and another Walmart parking lot, we had planed our trip around the Cabot trail on the 14th and some preparation time before our passage to Newfoundland on the 15th. The Cabot trail was just as stunning as it had been some forty plus years earlier when I was last there, and according to trip advisor when I searched looking for the best lobster roll on the trail. The. Rusty Anchor in Pleasant Bay was top of the list, and it did not disappoint, a cold beer, a great lobster roll, and lunch overlooking the St. Lawrence bay on a warm sunny July afternoon, one of those life events that will always bring a smile.

July 15th had us lined up to catch the ferry to the Island, now you may or may not know there are two ferries that sail from the Sydney port one goes to Port-A-Basque and the other goes to port near St. Johns, so one is around a six hour trip and the other in excessive of 12 hours, we were on the shortest. And our passage was smooth enough but we were fogged in almost all the way, but as we sat on deck listening to the fog horn in the warm July sunshine, but there were not any pictures of the shore as we left port and never seen any thing except fog until making Port-A-Basque at 6 in the afternoon before heading to our campsite at the Codroy Valley to start out two month stay

The Codroy Valley, all I can say is that we just didn’t know what we didn’t know … quite honestly in 2018 we just weren’t prepared for what we found when we landed in the valley, as nieve as we were we thought we would use the valley as a base camp for exploration of most of the island, not realizing just how big Newfoundland was. And secondly we fell in love with what was available within an hour of the valley, and don’t get me started on warmth of the people. So shortly after arriving we decided that rather than spend hours and hours driving we would spend our time just enjoying what was around us in this remarkable piece of paradise.

We met a wonderful couple in the valley (Robert and Susan) and like everyone on the island they just gave of themselves so freely, they took us to some of the most remarkable spots, and directed us to historic and picturesque spots on the the south east coast of Newfoundland, they even introduced Miss Laurie to toutons, which is a local staple of pan fried bread.

I just recently did a review of this campground, the history is quite complicated, but all you really need to know is that the family that owns this park now are remarkable. The views are stunning, the sites are large, the facilities are always clean and well maintained. This is a true transient park being just less than an hour from the ferry so the park turns over almost daily with people arriving and leaving the island, which left the park almost vacant during the day with the ferry leaving early and returning late in the day, so every night there was a line up of campers checking in. See my review for more detail.

Now I will be the first to admit that when we were in Newfoundland not only did time seem to fly past, every day seemed to be a new adventure. We picked gallons of blueberries along the hydro (power) lines and shared with our new friends, we explored miles of coastline, we sat on sand beaches, we went to a local music festival, I drank the local beer, we ate the local fare, we were treated like royalty by everyone we met, and people speak when passing, unlike so much of Ontario where no one speaks and you may get a grunt at best. Miss Laurie refereed to it as being friendly like Ontario was fifty years ago, and she hit the nail right on the head. Stay tuned in August as we take a road trip across Newfoundland.

July 2019: As the same I did last month I’m just going to just put together some photos to display out time at LHR (Lake Huron Resort), please enjoy some of our memories.

July 2020: Same as July 2019 here are some of our memories of July 2020, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, please enjoy.

July 2021: As I stated earlier we started this month in Stage 2 of Ontario’s Road Map to reopening but on July 16th we switched to Stage 3 of Ontario’s road map to reopening. And we have been watching a great response of people wanting their vaccinations, the stages have all been moving ahead of schedule by a few days, each time which is a good thing I think, as small business’s have taken a real beating with all the false re-opening and lock downs over the last year, there are some businesses that have been closed since last December of 2020, because they were in “hot spot” areas where the virus was not under control at the time. But it appears that as Canada nears the end of July, we should have reached at least seventy percent of the population having received at least one dose of a vaccine and there are still people lining up to get their second dose with the only restriction being the available time slots, vaccines are now in good supply and I suspect that Ontario will hit the eighty percent of eligible (12 years and older) will have received their first shot and seventy five percent should have received both shots, witch will take out of stage 3 right into a whole new time with either no or at least very few restrictions left (the new normal I guess).

As I’m sitting here under the tree on our site today adding to the blog Miss Laurie’s birthday is on Friday this week, and while it is a work day I’m sure there will be an extra cocktail or two on the menu Friday evening. As the summer season rolls by, we have enjoyed our beach time, on our days off, we also have been enjoying the switch in sites as we have much less exposure to the road. And while we enjoy talking with the patrons of the resort we do also need our time away from it all. One of our problems is that we struggle with not assisting people, even on our days off when we should just be ignoring the day to day operations, but that is just not in either Laurie’s or my make up. If some one needs help we are the first to make ourselves available to whom ever need help.

We have just been notified that we have been accepted for a volunteer hosting position at Boyce Thompson Arboretum near superior in Arizona for the winter, this will be a new adventure for us, but with Laurie’s love of all things nature it should be a good fit, we will still have three days a week to venture around and explore, as well as unlimited opportunity to enjoy the park itself after hours. We will need some down time after the summer as this job here at LHR (Lake Huron Resort) is really a two couple job, it is just too much for just one couple, and its more about down time than the work itself. When you work any job you leave your home , drive to work, put in your hours, then you get to go home, or stop and do some shopping if you want, or go out for dinner or what ever you want, while we walk from the coach just a few feet to our job and we are here literally 24/7, people even stop to knock on the coach door on our days off to ask for help and we just feel obliged to help. Lets just say it is the disadvantage to being on site all the time, the commute is short but the hours seem long some days.

We spent the day at the beach, but we never got to see the sun! It was a warm day but the sky was full of smoke, the smoke was from the forest fires to the west, British Columbia has close to 300 fires burning, and there are fires in Saskatchewan as well as Northern Ontario, so our skies here in Southern Ontario are blocking out the sun, it causes the sun to look red in the sky. This is just another side effect to the whole global warming issue, the extreme drought in areas, plus the extreme storms, the melting of the ice cap, the signs are numerous and only the true idiots continue to deny it. The photo below was taken at eight o’clock in the evening before the sun disappeared into the smoke.

Smoke filled evening

This is also the time of year when every one seems to get a little annoyed with their neighbours, they can’t hardly wait to see them in the spring but by mid to late summer they are starting to annoy each other, I laughed when I was told this the first year here but it is true. and as the summer wears on it becomes more obvious. I guess its just a human nature thing, it kind of reminds me of something my father George used to say, and while I can’t for the life of me remember the exact wording it was a long the lines of “if you spend too much time with friends they won’t be friends any more” and I always pondered his thinking because as kids we had so much fun playing with friends, but as I look back now on what he said and some of the actions we see around us now it seems very true. He also said visitors are like fish “after three days they both stink”, again it all makes more sense to me now as I look back.

As Ontario starts to re-open, the park events are starting to open up as well, the kids club that is now happening every Saturday morning outside and is being well attended, the park is going to celebrate Christmas in July this weekend, the pool is finally open and seems to be a big hit with everyone. From our outlook it is great for so many new people to the park to start to enjoy what we have been telling them about, now the issue is to try to arrange different events after being shut down for so long, musical bands have either broken up or just haven’t been practising forever so are not ready to preform yet, food vendors (trucks) are just starting back up and as restaurants are re-opening staffing seems to be a major issue. The province re-opening is not just like turning a tap back on, we have to start pumps, fix pipes, to see things return, so “normal life” will be returning slowly.

Well Christmas in July at LHR was a very wet occasion, and despite all the rain a number of campers went to a lot of effort to bring Christmas alive although a little damp around the edges. We ended up with a number of sites selected as best decorated, so the prize winner was drawn from a hat, because the judges couldn’t agree on just one.

And as July moves to a close, we have been sent some chilly weather, in reality our May 24th weekend was warmer than our last weekend of July. We also had torrential rain this week a real “gully washer” which has left us with some repairs, but just minor items. Miss Laurie and I were able to escape for a few days away this week as well, which was a needed break, although our golf game got postponed because of the rain, it was just nice to get away from work, and just kick back and do nothing.

It’s Saturday July 31st, our Civic holiday long weekend, so the park is very busy, there are lots of thing happening in the park which I will include in August’s windshield view and until then stay strong, be well, and get yourself vaccinated!

Categories: Personal, Travel

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