May 2022’s photo was snapped from the windshield of the coach on May 8th of the view from a winery in Washington State on our northern trek to Vancouver Island. We left Boyce Thompson Arboretum on May 1st and only made it just northwest of Phoenix our first day, we have decided to take US-93 north towards Idaho before swinging west toward the coast. Along our route we are staying at some harvest host locations, as well as a rest area, and a Cracker Barrel, and the last few nights at a casino in northwest Washington before catching the ferry back to Canada. The journey was not without its issues but most were minor enough not to throw us off of our schedule, I had allowed a couple of days on our trek north to allow for any issues as the only firm date we had was the booking for ferry passage to Canada. Most of our travel days fit into our normal plan although the cold weather that we experienced at altitude was a reminder of just why we go south.
We crossed into Victoria B.C. on the afternoon of 12th of May, and found ourselves in downtown Victoria at rush hour in very tight, very busy driving conditions, but we trudged north on the Trans Canada Highway as we made our way to Chemainus a little more that an hour away and home of our summer campground at Country Maples RV Resort. We pulled into the park near six o’clock that day, and although I had surveyed the park on google maps many times but was not prepared for what we found. The office was located in an area raised above the highway, but the campground was located down a steep winding hill, through a thick treed route to a plateau which was home to some 175 camp sites, some overlooking the Chemainus River more than another 30 meters (100 feet) below us and other were backing up to the hill we had just descended, the majority of the park is well treed with an open area with many sites jammed together.
To say it has a wet and chilly month, on the Island would be an understatement, we started work a few days later to get us trained for the first long weekend and Canada’s unofficial start to the summer camping season. Never having worked in a fully transitional campground, it was an eye opening experience, and quite honestly we had no idea just how different it could possibly be. People would have a trailer and maybe a couple of tents on their site, some even seem to put up large event tents, cars and trucks everywhere, the smell of pot on almost every corner, it is like a small rock concert every weekend, with a sea of mulitcoloured tents in the group camping area.
Our work hours were long, and we were quickly beginning to see multiple areas of concern as direction and the actual actions from the management seemed to be headed in two totally different directions. We survived the month of cold damp weather and ended the month with hope of a warmer month ahead of us, and the promise of an improved work schedule that would allow us to explore the island.
May 2021’s windshield view is obviously from our site (#217) at LHR (Lake Huron Resort) as will be the next half dozen windshield views so I have decided to take a little leeway with the next few photos to show some of the different views that we are enjoying from our coach. This photo was pulled from some video that I was taking for a YouTube clip showing the birds on our feeders. We have five feeders in total, one with sunflower seeds, one with mixed seed, a humming bird feeder, a feeder with grape jelly and orange half’s for the oriels, and this feeder that usually has nyjer seed for the yellow finches … it is presently filled with a mixture of seeds with the nyjer and has been quite a hit with a number of species.
May 2021: I know this is starting to seem like the movie “Groundhog Day” but 2021 finds us again starting our third year of work camping, still at LHR (Lake Huron Resort). It had became very obvious that as 2020 and the pandemic dragged on that there was a chance that the border would not open to allow our winter plans to come together, so we committed for another year at LHR. This served everyone well, it gave us a place to store the coach for the winter, and it gave Rich & Bonnie the security of knowing that the park would have managers for another year.
Someone said to me the other day that so and so was in their bubble so they should be able to have them at their site. I had to tell them that there were no bubbles right now, hell it’s only people in your household right now with the exception of one single person that may be allowed. The reality is too many people had too may bubbles and that’s why the covid-19 case counts are nearly ten times higher now than they were last year.
As the month closes out, the “stay at home” order has been extended from May 22nd to June 2nd, we have survived the first long weekend of the season, we have had some amazing weather for May, the park trees are in their full leaves, and look green and lush. With warmer than usual spring the beach has been busy and we have spent more time than usual on the beach already.
It appears that the “stay at home” order will end on June the second as the coronavirus case count has fallen again, and there is talk that the province will start to open up on June 14th, I will also be able to book my second vaccine shot then. And because of all the people that were travelling between regions before the third wave caused the last lockdown the whole province will open at the same time, so the hot spot areas are holding us all back at this point.
May 2021 will go down as one of the driest and warmest that I can remember, and as the Canadian population gets vaccinated, there is hope that we will be traveling again by fall. And while we have enjoyed our summers here in Ontario there is a lot of Canada left to explore so both Miss Laurie and I are getting anxious to be “Rolling Down the Road” again … jus’saying.
May 2020: Again 2020 found us starting our second year of work camping at LHR (Lake Huron Resort) as managers, but what made it so much worse was that we were in the grips of the Covid-19 virus pandemic. The pandemic was uprooting many lives, either because of the lock downs or from loosing family or friends to this deadly virus. All I know for sure is that it certainly changed our lives as managers and turned us into unwilling covid-19 rule enforcers, left to try to explain guidelines that made no sense to us in the first place and to add to the problem was everyone wanted to intrepid the rules for their own benefit. The park did open two weeks after the scheduled date but it was a long and difficult year as park managers
And the park did open on the 1st of May as scheduled, with the province under a “stay at home” order, so we were all quite curious as to how many people would defy the provincial “stay at home” order and drive to the park. This is where I could go off on a rant about this being why the pandemic is still spreading here in Ontario, but I’m not going to, lets just say opening day was not as bad as we had feared. And most of the people that are in the park are following the guidelines as laid out by the local public health board with regard to mask wearing and social distancing.
As the park has been allowed to open as a seasonal park, we still have lots of restrictions on businesses in the area, and here in the park the store remains closed, the sale of trailers is presently at a stand still, the office remains closed and most transactions are being done electronically. Maintenance at the park continues, lawn mowing, black tank pump outs, lot preparation and such goes on, as staff we are to avoid most interactions and are very limited.
The local public health board guidelines would have us doing daily temperature checks, answering daily health question and wearing a mask and face shield at all times, and while these may seam good in theory, they just don’t work in reality. Anyone who wears glasses knows how badly and quickly they can fog up with a mask on, and just between you and me, I’m not sticking my hand into a live electrical panel with my glasses fogged up.
May 2019: Well 2019 was year one of our work camping experience at LHR (Lake Huron Resort), and opening day was almost amazing as this quiet tranquil park that we had been working in for the last two weeks suddenly turned into a hustling, bustling park with hundreds of people coming and going at all hours of the day. We were still very early into the learning curve as managers at the park, and the trials and tribulations of that process has been written about in much earlier blogs, so I will just say, if we had of been asked about returning for the next year in May it would most likely have been a resounding no!
May 2018: Found us with full hookups at Fifty Point Conservation Area at Winona ON, we had decided that this was a reasonably centrally located area for us to stay. as we had a lot of things to accomplish before we headed east on our next adventure. We were planning a trip to the east coast of Canada and we also wanted to change a number of things with our coach set up. Number one wanted to replace the dolly system with a vehicle that could be towed four down, we also wanted to get kayaks for the adventure and would need a way to carry them, along with a list of other items.
I was also trying to wind my chemical buisness down, Laurie was busy pedaling her Scentsy products, and she had some shows scheduled for the spring market at different events. We also had friends and family to visit after our first winter away. It was during this time that we sold our dolly that we had purchased in October and purchased a used Roadmaster hitch to tow a vehicle behind the coach, now we just had to find a tow vehicle (which proved to be a task all on its own).
May 2017: This was a very special month for “The Buchanan’s Rolling Down the Road”, this was the month that we actually completed the purchase our coach “Thunder”. This followed an extended purchasing process involving currency exchanges, negotiations, multiple offers and conditions of sale. as we had not seen the coach other than in photos. The coach was at a dealer in Mesa AZ and as we made arrangements for me to fly to Arizona to inspect the vehicle, drive the vehicle, and if satisfied, complete the purchase and take delivery of the coach.
So on Victoria Day May 22nd 2017, Miss Laurie dropped me off at Hamilton Airport to catch a early morning flight from Hamilton ON to Calgary AB and a connecting flight to Phoenix AZ. Now it was an early flight out of Hamilton and with three time changes I landed in Phoenix in the early afternoon on the 22nd. The dealership picked me up at the airport and drove me to the dealership where I first laid eyes on “Thunder”, it was mid May and the temperature in Mesa was just over one hundred degrees (39ºC) but they had the coach plugged in with the air conditioners running so it was cool and inviting inside. I spent the first hour or so just checking the coach out, keeping in mind that it was 19 years old and many styles have changed and there have been lots of great updates in electronics since it’s manufacture.
Which meant looking past the old tube style televisions, and some of the dated interior, but the coach had a good solid structure. Keeping in mind that this coach sold in 1998 for almost $400,000 dollars, it was high quality cabinets, with the best controls available at the time. So with Miss Laurie on the phone and a few more photos sent back home we decided to complete the purchase the coach still pending the test drive. Now in Ontario we need some special licencing to drive this coach, none of which is required in most of the states. I was glad that the dealership did take it upon themselves to make sure that I could drive the coach before turning me loose in heavy traffic, their testing consisted of taking the coach to a deserted mall parking lot to let me prove myself in the drivers seat, and after a few maneuvers we headed for the highway with me at the wheel. And after I was satisfied with the drive and the powertrain operation I returned to the dealership and parked the unit back in the parking spot so that it could be plugged in again.
Now just as a side note someone else who was in the process of purchasing another coach managed to back into one of the power supply posts on his first road-test which caused a lot of damage and chatter around the dealership. I had booked a hotel room just down the street and after completing the purchase agreement they drove me to my hotel for the night. and I was to be back at the dealership the next morning for a ride to California. You see because I was from out of state and I was not going to register the coach in Arizona the only way to avoid paying the Arizona sales tax was to take delivery out of state and Blythe California was the closest out of state town to complete the transaction.
So at 10 o’clock on May 23rd I was being driven by the dealership employee west from Phoenix on Interstate 10 to Blythe California where we met with a notary public who certified that I was signing the purchase agreement in California, so with his stamp and a gas receipt for a gallon of gas purchased in California that day, that was all the proof required by the state of Arizona that the coach had been sold out of state. So shortly after 3 o’clock in the afternoon we were back at the dealership where they were to have repaired a couple of minor things on the coach, and to my dismay this had not happened, they had ordered a part for the Hurricane heating system and while it had came in that day they had not installed it yet, they we also to have partially filled the fresh water tank which had not happened either, so I had to make the decision to wait for another day for the repair, or accept it as it was and head home now.
So after some heated discussion, it was decided that they would do the delivery process that afternoon, they would throw in some extras like a water and sewer hose and I would install the new Hurricane pump myself back in Ontario. Now the delivery process took over an hour and I most likely should have recorded it because it was a little more in-depth that I was expecting and after over an hour I’m sure my eyes were starting to glaze over a little bit. I hind site the extra day would not have mattered, but at the time I was trying to make a run for the Ontario border by Friday as the American Memorial Day holiday was that weekend which would delay the crossing until the following Tuesday.
So with my head full of knowledge about the coach, half a tank of fresh water, at around 6 o’clock that evening, I pulled out of the dealership heading north up a very steep, windy highway AZ-87 up Payson AZ and a casino parking lot to spend my first night in the coach boondocking. Now keep in mind that I flew to Arizona with just a backpack so I had no bedding or pillow, and the coach had nothing at all in it, so it wasn’t the most comfortable nights stay on a very hard mattress.
On Wednesday May 24th I made it to Interstate 40 and was headed east, now I stopped in Albuquerque NM at a Walmart where I did a little shopping, some bedding, a pillow, some paper products, some food, disposable plates and the like before jumping back east bound on Interstate 40. The next couple of days were long high mileage days as the crossing into Ontario on Friday was starting to fade, and the reality that it just wasn’t going to happen, so then came the issue of finding a place to park the coach for the Memorial Day weekend and to attempt the exportation of the coach on the Tuesday from the United States and importation into Canada. while not a difficult task I did need to hire some professional people to expedite the process in a more timely manner. So I boondocked my way across the states, mainly using rest stops along the way and we managed to book a campsite on Grand Island NY for the holiday weekend where the coach stayed all by itself until we picked it up on the Tuesday morning.
This photo was taken of Miss Laurie picking me up at the campground on Grand Island on the Saturday after I had checked in and got it parked. This was Miss Laurie’s first time seeing our coach, you can’t tell from the smile that she was pretty happy can you?
I can’t remember for the life of me what we had going on that was so darn important that weekend, but I do remember we were both very disappointed that we couldn’t even spend a night in our coach in this campground. But there it sat abandoned for the weekend on Grand Island in New York.
But on the positive side I was able to dump the tanks from the trip from Arizona, thanks to that new sewer hose!
But after a whole bunch of paper work, verifying of serial numbers and paying some taxes at the Canadian side of the border we had our coach at home. So we almost immediately managed to annoy all of our neighbours by parking it in front of our house while we started transferring items in and out of the coach. As we were already downsizing our house there were lots of items to move in and we were also replacing items like the mattress, televisions in the coach. We were already planning our maiden (shake down) trip for four weeks at the end of June with stops in Chicago in the first of July and Kansas City the end of July.