September 2022: and we are preparing for our last shifts and days in site “J” at Country Maples RV Resort (CMR), our days here on Vancouver Island this month is more about preparing and loading Thunder, as we get on the road again, the photos above show how the view can change Sept. 1st site “J” @ CMR with the sunshade in place, Sept. 24th site “J” @ CMR with the sunshade removed, and September 30th (actually sunrise on October 1st) the view from site “1” at Thunderbird park in Campbell River, British Columbia.
On the 5th of September at Country Maples Resort the park management had a staff appreciation dinner catered, to celebrate the end of the summer season, a nice gesture, but I had to start my lock up/ security shift immediately following the dinner, so it was cut a little short for me, but Miss Laurie got to enjoy some mini golf with many of the staff members.
My birthday came and went with much less fanfare than last year, there was no shooter bar, or cream puffs, and no power naps needed before dinner. But we did get to the beach in Nanaimo and also got out for a nice lunch while waiting for Mister Sam as he made his last visit to the Veterinarian Clinic, and while in pretty good shape he has more pills for another month for the infection in his jaw.
We were able to get to Butchart Gardens this month, a place that I knew would be a hit with Miss Laurie, and I think it was four hours well spent.
We also managed go get Miss Laurie a replacement passport, to replace a lost one, that in itself was a bit of a nightmare, or just a typical day dealing with Service Canada.
As we leave CMR early on the 28th of September we are only moving to a repair shop in Ladysmith, to have a number of items we would like repaired on Thunder, as we are preparing to embark a major journey to the Baja of Mexico and back to Arizona this adventure will cover over 5000 kilometer (3000 mile) this winter season. It is never fun at a repair shop, but it just necessary, no different than when your house needs a repair, the difference instead of the repair person coming to your home, we take our home to the repair person.
On September the 30th after escaping from the repair shop we have ventured north on the island to Campbell River, we are staying here for 3 nights to allow us time to explore this area before starting our trek south on the island to our ferry crossing on October the 8th.
September 2021: and we are still in site #217 at LHR (Lake Huron Resort), and the sunshade is still stretched across the windshield. So this photo was taken of a storm rolling in off of Lake Huron, the park was under a severe thunderstorm warning as well as a tornado watch, while we did get some pea sized hail, wind and rain were all that we received. A F2 tornado did touchdown just a few kilometers north of the park, damaging buildings and trees as it passed, luckily no serious injuries reported, thankfully.
So I have been making progress on the toad for the road ahead, I had installed LEDs in the tail and brake lamp sockets some time ago, which were much brighter that the regular tungsten bulbs, but because the new LEDs draw so much less power, the sensor on the toad thought the bulbs had failed and set a warning lamp every time we started the toad so it was time to correct that little issue. It is a simple fix that just involves adding an electrical resistance into the system to draw the same amount of power as the original tungsten bulbs. That little orange block added 50 watts (4.16 amps) of resistance, which is all it took to trick the sensor into not setting that annoying warning lamp and reduced the speed of the turn signal flasher. So that resister is connected between the stop lamp side of the bulb and the lamp ground circuit.
I have also removed the extra lamps from the roof of the toad, the ones that everyone referred to as the Mickey Mouse ears. I feel comfortable doing that because we are also removing the bike rack from the back of the toad where it partially blocked the regular tail lamps. Now that bike rack will be positioned on the back of the coach with the coach’s spare tire carrier, which will make the overall length of the coach and toad under 65 feet, and will also make the toad easier to park when disconnected.
On Monday afternoon I got a chance to try out the new hitch system that moved the bicycle rack from the back of the toad to the back of the coach. This should be a great improvement, so I borrowed the parks pick-up and mounted the hitch and bike rack on it, then coupled the toad in position and drove around the park to check clearances on the sharpest turns possible, and I’m happy to report that there was no issue at all. I was also able to use the new trailer cord to plug the toad into the trailer connector on the pickup, and everything worked as it should, I have also wired in the toad auxiliary braking system and only have to mount the breakaway switch, so now I can proceed to mount the new trailer plug onto the back of the coach and know we will be good to go.
I have also upgraded the roof rack on the toad, to allow both kayaks to sit flat, side by side, completely upside down, this will make getting them up and down from the roof rack easier, as the previous kayak racks needed me to get them quite high to sit in the rack (and after a few hours of padding that was becoming an issue) and it was difficult to strap them in place, and the positioning also allowed them to fill with rain water. So a lot of positive benefits but on the negative side I have lost a place to store the paddles, so not a real big negative. And the kayaks actually sit low enough that we may be able to get into some of the parking garages that we off limits before because of height restrictions.
The park is starting to show it’s autumn colours, as the cooler nights are starting to roll in and the roar of air conditioners happily becomes a past memory. These photos were just some of the random but beautiful autumn sights that I have been able to capture around the park.
Our process of visiting park friends is continuing through September, a wonderful fajita dinner with Mary & Julie, then beverages with Don & Emily on their deck, enjoyed a campfire with Mike & Cindy on there last night in the park until their new trailer is delivered. We had cocktails with Doug & Audrey as Doug just celebrated his 70th a few days before I do, and all in the first few days of September.
September 10th and the “Rolling Down the Road” countdown is 40 days, and still no indication from our America friends as to when the border will be opening to allow non essential Canadians to enter the United States by vehicle, now I have already whined about the stupidity of allowing people to travel in a plane but not allowing vehicles to enter, so let’s just say we have started to plan for the border not opening in time for us to travel south in October, but we still remain optimistic that it will open.
There are not a lot of weekends left of this camping season and with the children back in school the campground has became a weekend warrior kind of park. They roll in on Friday afternoon and are gone around noon on Sunday, and while most are respectful there are always some that still have to act like idiots.
It’s now the fourteenth which is my birthday, yup I’ve made it a total of seventy revolutions of the sun, and with any kind of luck I may make a couple more. So far today I have enjoyed a toasted cheese bread western for breakfast prepared by Miss Laurie, followed by an expresso on the deck with Dale & Fiona, I have just made myself a sour cherry moonshine over ice and decided to work on this blog while I’m still coherent, a Tim Hortons smile cookie delivered by Brent & Allison, and there are cream puffs form Culbert’s on the way, and the weather is silly warm 25C (77F) for the middle of September which is not normal. There is another severe weather warning again today with the possibility of spawning tornados this afternoon along the Lake Huron shoreline, this has happened so many Tuesdays we now just refer to it as tornado Tuesday as opposed to taco Tuesday.
Well the five boxes of cream puffs arrived, and then Miss Laurie had me bustling around the park on the golf cart handing out the cream puffs and offering shots to pretty much everyone in the park, apparently she was afraid the storm would stop people from stopping by our site and she was afraid of being stuck with all those cream puffs. Well I’m happy to report the cream puffs are gone, and many shots were served and the storm has not hit yet at 3:30.
As the day moved along, the decision was made to head down to the beach, I’m thinking it was Miss Laurie’s idea but I don’t totally remember, but the lake was rough and the storm clouds could be seen starting to rolling in which made for a couple of great photos from the beach area, it’s the crashing of the waves that make it so mesmerizing as we watched the storm go just north of us.
Well I survived my birthday and I am happy to report that I’m still trying to eat my way into a new blue jean size, on Saturday evening Dean & Trudy prepared a prime rib dinner with all the fixings, this was to celebrate Trudy’s birthday. And who knew that Dean use to work as a chef in a former life? So this huge roast was marinated for days then slow roasted on the barbecue till fork tender and server with Yorkshire pudding, cheese mashed potatoes, green beans and a Cesar salad. I have to admit I inhaled this plus a second serving … jus’saying.
This was a great evening with great people, thank you Dean & Trudy, Joe & Anita, and Alex & Frances, it is amazing memorable evenings like this that confirm that we made the right decision to live the lifestyle that we do.
Monday evening Dale & Fiona took us for a tour of Greece cooking for an unforgettable meal, now this food experience was prepared love. I have been lucky enough to have worked with Dale at the park for a couple of years now and while he may not have been a chef, he and Fiona have a passion for flavour and food. The evening started with watermelon daiquiris, and an appetizer of flaming saganaki with crusty bread, followed by Greek potatoes, Greek salad and chicken.
Now I would be amiss if I didn’t mention that this was an evening of spirited conversation as we sampled a number of excellent wines with dinner, in-fact enough wine that I barely remember ordering a pound of Dot’s pretzels, but we did shut it down at eleven before park security had to stop by.
Tuesday was the day to play our round of golf at Oakwood, this was the round that had been postponed twice because of the course flooding, and with a week of rain on the forecast it seemed like we needed to get this round of golf in. So we teed off the first hole almost an hour before our actual tee time. The course was an eclectic mix of par 3 and par 5 holes and played long for its par 70 yardage. The course was still quite wet with standing water on some holes, and the par 3 holes kept us guessing with a strong southwest wind that was leading edge of the next rain storm.
After our round we stopped at River Bend pizza in Grand Bend, we had eaten there on our July visit and I remembered that Tuesday was wing night. So some wings with fire & ice dipping sauce and a medium Big Mac pizza was on the menu, it was kind of a late lunch or an early dinner but either way it was very good.
Tomorrow Ontario adopts a form of vaccination passport, but because Mr. Ford resisted its implementation we are using copies of our vaccination record, the new QR code system will not be in place until October the 22nd. So the next time we go out for dinner at a restaurant this new process will be in place, and if it prevents a fourth lockdown it is worth what ever aggravation that it causes, and as much as the owners of some businesses’ are whining about having to police it the other choice is to close your business down again.
Well now that last weekend of September has arrived after a week that has seen rain every day since Tuesday, the septic alarms have been going off continually as we try to keep up with close to five inches of rain, the pool has be closed for the season, as well as the washrooms. It’s been two wet to cut any of the lawns, so I have been working on cleaning up in the drive shed at the park, making use of lower garbage levels as the park becomes quieter. Many people are closing up their trailers for the season, and while one side of me thinks is seem early, I also think that I’m ok with that as we prepare to shut the park down in a couple of weeks anyway. The next three weeks are going to be tough, because as much as we are ready to roll down the road we have made some very good friends that will be hard to leave, or there are a few that we can’t wait to see their taillights leaving the park but for the majority it will be sad and for our newly made friends I’m pretty sure there will be tears. I know many will remain in our hearts forever, and I hope many keep in touch and become part of our extended RV family.
It’s now Monday the 27th of September, and Bob & Irena just pulled their trailer out, they are not returning to LHR next year, as the three hour drive to the park is becoming difficult to justify. I have always thought it was too much driving time for a weekend of enjoyment, but it is still a sad day, but definitely the correct decision for them to make. The sun has returned, and the day was quite warm, I think we are staring to see the park dry out a little bit, after last weeks monsoon rain storms.
We have started to disassemble and clear out the parks washrooms to prepare them for some renovations over the winter, they were due as the last major update was over forty years ago. Many people have closed their trailers and left the park already, and I suspect this next weekend will be the last for many more. It is difficult to believe that some of the amazing people that we have grown to know over the past three years we may never see again. And a special shout out to everyone that has taken a few minutes from their busy lives to stop by on their way out of the park to say goodbye, you will be missed. As we tell everyone we are leaving to resume our nomadic lifestyle, not because we didn’t enjoy the park and most of the people.
Today is the 29th, day two of our renovation project in the park washrooms, we are now down to the studs and while the walls and partitions are in better condition than I suspected they might be, there are signs of some water damage in some areas. Most of the moisture and damage was from the pump room, and although the pump is not located there, the pressure tanks, the water distribution system, along with the hot water heater, all located in a small room with little to no ventilation to prevent all the copper plumbing from sweating during the humid summer months when the demand for cold water from the well is the greatest. This room has had many updates but now is the time to renovate the plumbing system and update some of the equipment, with the ability to supply water to approximately two hundred campsites steady water, with no noticeable pressure fluctuations the original system has worked remarkably well, but it is time to update.
Well I managed to get some of the grass cutting done today as nothing got cut last week because of all the rain and the lawns are still growing like crazy. We need a frost or two to slow the growth down, but until then its growing at about a centimetre (half an inch) a day.
We are invited over to Rick & Cindy’s trailer this evening, for pizza and a few beverages (Miss Laurie said the margaritas were top shelf), this has been a great experience this month by actually getting to know some of the people that we have spent our summers with for the last couple of years. And we are going to watch the movie “Nomadland” with Julie & Mary tomorrow evening, rounding out what has proven to be a very busy but also very fulfilling month.
September the 30th and we are now down to twenty days left at LHR (Lake Huron Resort), the next couple of days have been sunny clear days and cool nights of 6C (43F) so cool enough to need a heater on but maybe not cold enough for frost, and it looks to be followed by three more days of rain but the temperatures for the first week of October are still high teens or mid sixties depending on your thermometer of choice.
So it would appear to be time to close this blog out, I’m quite sure October’s blog will be shorter, as we will be busy closing the park and deciding how to get accross the border so stay tuned … jus’saying.
Well there has been a big change in the temperature, we have gone from that hot, hazy, humid weather to sunny and cool, and it happened litterly over night, it was like we just woke up one morning needing a sweatshirt after two weeks of having the air conditioning running steadily. The humidity was the killer, the temperatures were never excessive but with the humidity figured in we had receive numerous heat alerts through our weather app.
Well early September finds Ontario in the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the new number of cases is running in excessive of 700 per day, and they are starting to fill the hospitals beds and the ICU wards and of course the majority are of the un-vaccinated persuasion, so almost all would have been preventable with a little common sense, or the removal of ones head from ones own derriere. It is the fourth of September today and 73.6% of all Canadians have had one shot and 67.2% are fully vaccinated and of the population eligible (12 years of age and over) 84.6% have received one shot and 77.2% are fully vaccinated. And if we look at Ontario’s numbers are 73.6% with one shot and 67.8% are fully vaccinated, which more than exceeded the requirements for moving beyond our present stage 3 of reopening, but now we have the hospital numbers preventing it. But a quick glance of the numbers, shows the spread of the virus in Alberta where they eliminated all restrictions shows skyrocketing new cases of the Delta variant, as their Premier seems to be missing in action, so I guess we are better off with some restrictions right now. Quebec and British Columbia have implemented a vaccine passport system to protect businesses against another lockdown, and this month Ontario has declared a passport system here as well. And while it is needed to avoid a provincial lock down, I am truly disappointed that the Federal Government did not bring out a Canadian system instead of each Province having to create different systems, so imagine the nightmare around a border town, like Ottawa for an example with restaurants having to check two different provinces systems … such a pity.
With the announcement of the provincial vaccine passport two things have happened, the demand for first vaccines has increased and the out cry from the anti-vaxxer cult has grown even louder. They speak of their rights being infringed upon, which is bull pucks, my rights are the ones being infringed upon because they have decided for whatever reason not to protect themselves from this terrible virus. So why should I not be able to enjoy a movie or a restaurant meal without fear of being infected, and why should the cinemas and restaurants have to endure another lockdown because of the virus, you want to speak about your rights being infringed on, like seriously it is time to take a serious look at the cause of the problem, and why we are in the fourth wave … jus’saying.
September 2020: Sitting on site 89 at LHR, the province was just entering into the second lockdown of the pandemic, so there were still no park organized social events, and this was the time period when we all had bubbles of people the problem was some people at the park had more bubbles than most champagnes. But here are a few photos from around the park.
September 2019: Sitting on site 217 at LHR and here are a few photos of the happenings at the park, as we prepared for end of the camping season at Lake Huron Resort.
September 2018: Finds us sitting on site 25 at the Grand Codroy Campground in Newfoundland, and we are realizing that our time here is slipping by quickly. Tourist traffic is falling off quickly and after labour day the park was nearly empty. The campground is only open for four months (June thru September) so it was starting to wind down and the temperatures were starting to feel like autumn was nearby, but we were still touring locations in the area, only now with fewer people competing for space at the attractions it was more enjoyable.
And as remarkable as it may seem I was busy fixing the Hurricane boiler again, the fan motor that forces the gases through the combustion chamber on the heater had failed and I had to have one shipped from Washington state to the post office in Newfoundland. and it was here that I discovered that the water heater on the coach had an electric element in it, although I could not for the life of me figure out how to energize it, so in true Brian fashion, I disconnected the wires at the thermostat and after cutting the end off of an extension cord and connecting it to the thermostat so we were able to plug the cord into a circuit in the coach basement and now heat water, we have since figured out how to energize the circuit and have been operating it the way it was designed for some time.
Our departure date from Newfoundland was September 15th and as we approached the ferry to head back to the mainland we had to have the bottom of the coach power washed to prevent any of the Newfoundland soil and the potato blight from hitching a ride with us. Yes departing is always difficult and usually involves some tears, after a couple of months you get to know people and all the staff almost become family so it is never an easy day.
Back on Cape Breton fresh off the ferry our first night was at Golden Arms, this campground similar to Grand Codroy Valley it is the park that everyone uses before and after the ferry voyage, from there we moved on to the Halifax area, for some sight seeing, I wanted to see the Bluenose II, Canada’s most famous sailing ship, as pictured on the front our Canadian dime, which is usually moored in Lunenburg, Peggy’s Cove is one of the most famous lighthouses and picturesque spots in Nova Scotia, a tour of the Halifax harbour, a rum tasting, a visit to the memorial for Swiss Air flight 111, and after a few days just exploring the Atlantic coastline and it was time to head west. We were still new at this lifestyle and we were making too many plans too far in advance, and were just not allowing ourselves enough time to slow down and smell the roses if you will.
To be very honest we had only been hitting a few of the many sights that Nova Scotia has to offer and we committed to revisiting the east coast of Canada again soon.
Our venture from the Halifax area to Ottawa was uneventful, moving from parking lot to parking lot, we were driving longer distances then we wanted, but we had made many commitments to be back in Ontario to met people. So after a couple of close to 300 mile (480 kms) days we made it to our campsite in the Ottawa area.
We had committed to meeting up with John & Lynn in Ottawa as they had flown to Ontario from British Columbia for a family celebration. We had met John & Lynn during the winter in Arizona and as our plans for this year were to winter in Florida we knew it would be our only chance to get together for more than at least a year.
And because we were in Ottawa our nations Federal Capital we just had to do a little sight seeing, wondering around the down town area, snapping some photos of the parliament buildings, and surrounding areas.
We also ventured across the bridge, in to Quebec to pick up some cheap beer at Costco, its has always been a mystery why beer is half the price in Quebec as compared to Ontario’s beer pricing.
And we also wanted to spend a few days with Bob & Shari near Algonquin park in Ontario and visit the cranberry festival in Bala Ontario, before heading south for the winter, you can start to see that we were just trying to jam too many things into too short of time, and while great to see and do all of this we have learnt now it is better when we slow the pace down.
So we moved on west on highway 60 through Algonquin park, always a scenic drive but enhanced by the fall colours. Our next stop was at Algonquin Pines Campground, this was the park where Bob & Shari had spent the summer season, located near Dwight in the picturesque Muskoka region of Ontario. We stayed two nights to enjoy the scenery and catch up on everyone’s summers excursions, we hiked in Algonquin park along a river and waterfall, we shopped at Robinson’s General store and had dinner at The Trading Bay Dining Company in Dorset.
Now we were heading off to a KOA in Gravenhurst to use as a base for a tour of Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery, we got to see the cranberry bogs and witnessed the harvest, we tasted their wines and sampled the cranberries, and for some strange reason we didn’t get any photos of the bogs so unlike us to only take one photo but I remember it being a couple days of rain, so it was certainly possible.
This was a Cranberry wine that we sampled, the colour alone should sell the product, but the cranberry flavour was not really in my wheel house for any thing more than a conversation drink at a thanksgiving meal, sorry but neither Miss Laurie or myself had any urge to purchase it.
After a couple days in the KOA Kampground and seemingly unending rain we headed south to the Hamilton area, just to a Walmart parking lot for a visit with Steve & Karen (Miss Laurie’s brother and sister-in-law) in Stoney Creek, they are a very valuable part of our being able to live our life on the road as they forward our mail every couple of months to where ever we are at the time.
September 2017: These were real crazy times in our world, our sticks and bricks home has sold and the deal was to close on the second of the October, Our coach was still parked at Al & Sue Beamers farm, it had became very obvious that our Norcold refrigerator was not cooling properly, repairs of the wet bay floor were well under way, and we had a boondocking trip planned, to attend a family wedding in Woodstock, and I still had not got my head around the whole house battery system and operation. Now add to that all of our household furniture being sold or donated, and our purging had become a daily event as the realization of the enormity of this task was coming to fruition.
So on September 9th we headed off for a boondocking weekend on a farm just outside of Woodstock, the location was actually a wedding venue, and it was my nephew Marty’s wedding so I thought it would be a great time to learn more about the fine art of boondocking. Lets just say it was truly a learning weekend, because we quickly learnt just how little we knew about boondocking. In September the evenings are starting to get quite cool so the onboard heater decided to quit working, and the coach batteries didn’t even last till we could get in to bed after the wedding, and we had alarms going off most of the night, one alarm being our refrigerator because of the cooling unit was failing and then the carbon monoxide detector was going off in the bedroom, so we were up a number of times during the night, as well shivering because we had the windows open so we wouldn’t die of Carbon Monoxide poisoning, which didn’t make sense at the time, but after a few adult beverages none of it was making a lot of sense to me. So an early morning generator start up and we were able to get back on track for the day. But failure would be the only true way to score for our first real boondocking experience, it obvious has got better, but I was beginning to wonder.
Let’s start with our refrigerator issue, and it was obvious by now that the cooling unit was failing, And because we were planning on boondocking in our newly chosen lifestyle we knew that we had to have an RV style refrigerator as opposed to a residential style refrigerator. We could have installed a residential style refrigerator for much less money, most likely for a thousand dollars or less, awhile a new electric/propane replacement Norcold RV refrigerator was going to cost around thirty five hundred dollars, so replacing just the cooling unit was proving to be our most likely and economical option. The problem was that while researching new cooling units my natural instinct was to replace the failed part with an original equipment replacement part, but everything I was reading was pushing me towards a cooling unit that was being manufactured by an Amish group based out of Indiana. Ok my first thought was what do the Amish know about manufacturing RV refrigeration units, well it turns out they are really good at it, and quite inventive, so my research also was turning up that by changing the gas in the cooling unit from hydrogen to helium, it could improve the cooling by a substantial amount. So I ordered a helium filled cooling unit and started to watch YouTube videos on how to exchange the cooling unit, after all there is a first time for everything and it’s never to late for an old dog to learn a new trick. Luckily my son happen to visit us at the time that I was going to install the new cooling unit, so with Mathew’s assistance the cooler was changed out and the refrigerator reinstalled into the coach.
Research on the carbon monoxide detector brought to light that there was a low voltage warning built into the unit and then it all made more sense to me because we had ran the batteries down so badly that the voltage was below the trigger threshold. At this point I was still struggling with the whole battery issue, four 6 volt golf cart batteries and I could only get a few hours out of them before needing to recharge them, I was struggling with the whole amp/hour rating thing, and to be honest it would be a few more long months before it all became much clearer to me. Having been an auto mechanic my battery knowledge was based on CCA (Cold Cranking Amperage), and all I knew for sure was the higher the CCA the better to start your vehicle on a cold morning, but now this new lifestyle was all about Amp/Hours and I was also starting to learn that lead acid style batteries recharge very very slowly.
The furnace (Hurricane) was also setting all kinds of fault codes on the control panel, I now suspect some could have been caused by the low voltage because it would work some days and then stop for no particular reason, and I only knew that it was going to be a whole new learning experience for me to figure out, so I took the coach to a Hurricane repair depot in Stoney Creek where I started my Hurricane learning experience, and it is an education that continues on today as we are again experiencing some more issues even now.