Posts for July, 2012

On the road again! (Federal Way, USA)

Journal entry for Thursday 5th Jul, 2012 (day 1, miles 20)

After weeks of work preparing ourselves, the vehicle and our house for a 6 month trip we are finally underway. to read the full post

A Vancouver traffic jam (Vancouver, Canada)

Journal entry for Friday 6th Jul, 2012 (day 2, miles 220)

Today was, unsurprisingly, not a very adventurous day and there is not much to write about. This will also be the case off and on over the next few weeks as we visit friends and relatives across Canada - interesting and enjoyable for Nina and I but not something that others will find of particular interest. to read the full post

Lake Buntzen (Langley, BC, Canada)

Journal entry for Saturday 7th Jul, 2012 (day 3, miles 245)

We had much of the today to ourselves before a dinner date late in the afternoon. The Lonely Planet guide came to our rescue and we headed off early to Lake Buntzen, a reservoir created by the BC Hydro company. to read the full post

GPS (SatNav) Troubles!! (Hope, Canada)

Journal entry for Sunday 8th Jul, 2012 (day 4, miles 355)

Today was one of those perfect lessons in the importance of keeping your electronic devices (and their software) up to date. to read the full post

The Yellow Head!! (Sicamous, Canada)

Journal entry for Monday 9th Jul, 2012 (day 5, miles 573)

From Hope last night we followed the Yellow Head highway (Hwy 5) to Kamloops, and then onto Sicamous. to read the full post

Tourists in the Rockies (Golden, Canada)

Journal entry for Tuesday 10th Jul, 2012 (day 6, miles 731)

Another beautiful summers day started with a quick stop at the Last Spike Memorial (celebrating the completion of the Trans-Canada railway 1885) and showed the town of Revelstoke to perfection. to read the full post

The Zigzag Road (Field, Canada)

Journal entry for Wednesday 11th Jul, 2012 (day 7, miles 772)

How would you react to a sign that tells you to reverse up to (or down to) the next turn? to read the full post

Good bye to the Canadian Rockies (Bow Valley Provincial Park, Canada)

Journal entry for Thursday 12th Jul, 2012 (day 8, miles 881)

Today we said goodbye to the Canadian Rockies with, yet one more picture of Lake Louise (it never looses its appeal or its crowds), a walk down the streets of Banff and then that drive out of the mountains. to read the full post

Beers with Bernie (Calgary, Canada)

Journal entry for Friday 13th Jul, 2012 (day 9, miles 941)

From last nights camp we had only a short drive of some 80kms into Calgary and our friend Bernie's house. We spent a hot afternoon drinking some beer and late in the afternoon finished the day off with a BBQ. Along the way Bernie took the yellow beast for a spin around the block. to read the full post

Canola (Bow Valley Provincial Park, Canada)

Journal entry for Saturday 14th Jul, 2012 (day 10, miles 1,155)

Today the prairies started for real. Oceans of green and yellow (canola crops), rolling country side and roads that go straight for miles at a time. The mix of green (wheat and other crops) and the yellow canola fields was the visual highlight of the day. to read the full post

Prairie back roads (Climax, Saskatchewan)

Journal entry for Sunday 15th Jul, 2012 (day 11, miles 1,391)

Prairie backroads, summer thunderstorms and grass as far as the eye can see, that was today. to read the full post

Grasslands National Park (Point of interest, Saskatchewan)

Journal entry for Monday 16th Jul, 2012 (day 12, miles 1,666)

We spent the morning traveling east along a mix of gravel and rough black-top backroads through picturesque farming and grass lands. Late in the morning we took a detour to Grasslands National Park an area set aside to be restored to pre-farming conditions with natural grass and indigenous animals. to read the full post

What day is it ? - S@#it! (Steinbach, Manatoba)

Journal entry for Tuesday 17th Jul, 2012 (day 13, miles 2,049)

What day is it? It is Tuesday the 17th July. S@#it we are supposed to be in Winnipeg by 3:00pm today to meet someone at the airport! to read the full post

Friendly border guards (Rest Area I-29, USA)

Journal entry for Wednesday 18th Jul, 2012 (day 14, miles 2,247)

We re-entered the US via highway 59 (into Minnesota) just south of the town of Tolstoi. This crossing does not seem to get a lot of traffic as all US customs lanes were closed when we pulled up. Initially we were questioned in a gruff manner by the guards but after they worked out that we were residents and the vehicle a motorhome things improved. They of course wanted a look inside the vehicle and admitted it was just out of curiosity. to read the full post

We need a receipt for accommodation tonight (Summit, USA)

Journal entry for Thursday 19th Jul, 2012 (day 15, miles 2,411)

Tomorrow we will apply for South Dakota drivers licenses in the town of Watertown, to meet the documentation requirements we must stay tonight in some form of South Dakota accommodation that will give us a receipt. Hence we picked a commercial campground in the town of Summit about 30 miles north of Watertown. to read the full post

Bath day (for the Yellow Beast) (Monson Lake, USA)

Journal entry for Friday 20th Jul, 2012 (day 16, miles 2,579)

We got our nice new South Dakota driver licenses this morning, although as we pulled up in front of the address of the Licensing Department it was not obvious we were in the right place. Parked in the street was a National Guard convoy of Hummers and trucks, and the building that was supposed to house the licensing department had National Guard signs all over it. to read the full post

Back roads of Wisconsin (St Croix, Wisconsin)

Journal entry for Saturday 21st Jul, 2012 (day 17, miles 2,778)

I am guessing that there is (somewhere) a road building school specifically for engineers that build secondary roads in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Today we got extensive exposure to roads that displayed the signature feature of this school. The roads are laid down in 20-30 ft sections, between each section is a small gap filled with pitch. Since this inter-section gap is slightly lower than the main sections a very consistent wash-board effect is produced. I was very pleased to encounter these road sections as they provided the perfect shake test for the truck and camper. Anything that did not break on these roads is unlikely to break anywhere. Other overlanders looking to subject their vehicle to a similar trial by bumps can get the exact route by sending me a message from the contact page of this site. to read the full post

A new hat for Nina (Bayfield, Wisconsin)

Journal entry for Sunday 22nd Jul, 2012 (day 18, miles 2,941)

Today Nina bought herself a new rhine-stone cap to replace the one she traded with a Uros women when we visited the Uros people of Las Islas Flotantes in Peru. to read the full post

The Apostle Islands (Sturgeon River CG, Michigan)

Journal entry for Monday 23rd Jul, 2012 (day 19, miles 3,086)

Playing tourists. Today we took a boat cruise to the Apostle Islands. These are situated in Lake Superior just off the village of Bayfield in Wisconsin. The captain of our boat explained that no one knows where the name came from and pointed out that even the number is wrong. There where (apparently, Phil can correct me on this) 12 apostles but 21 islands. Today those islands are all part of a national park; though they show the effect of the past in which many were clear cut for timber quarried for sandstone, or used as fishing bases. to read the full post

Summer in the land of Yoopers and Trolls (Hog Island Point NF, Michigan)

Journal entry for Tuesday 24th Jul, 2012 (day 20, miles 3,300)

For those somewhat un-schooled in the geography of Michigan (like me) I need to point out that the state of Michigan is made up of two disconnected regions. One of these regions is a peninsula that pokes out into lake Michigan and is called by the locals the upper peninsula, or UP for short. Predictably the people that live in the UP have been given a nick name by their non-UP brethren, they are called Yoopers (UP-ers get it?) - very creative. As an ineffective attempt at revenge the non Yoopers are called Trolls but probably only by yoopers. to read the full post

The Mackinac bridge, the Soo, power outages, flat batteries (Sault Ste Marie, Michigan)

Journal entry for Thursday 26th Jul, 2012 (day 22, miles 3,402)

We are in the Soo - as the locals call the town of Sault Ste Marie - famous for the shipping locks between Lakes Superior and Huron. It seems to be our turn for electrical problems. We arrived here yesterday (25 July) because the batteries in the camper have low voltage and we thought a good 12 hour charge at a commercial camp ground would do the trick. Before settling in for the night we drove into the town center of Sault Ste Marie to look at the locks and find The River of History Museum. Suddenly all the shops are dark, the traffic signals are blank and within minutes police and fire officers are out directing traffic through intersections - the power is out. We learned later that the town had a power outage a few days ago also. to read the full post

Three Jims and a Dave (Serpent River, Ontario)

Journal entry for Friday 27th Jul, 2012 (day 23, miles 3,535)

OK, so today we got our battery problem fixed (I think). Thanks to Roger and Matt at Global Expedition Vehicles we were put in touch with Welch's RV Service a local Sault Ste Marie RV sales and service business. There we met Jim the manager and big Dave the technician who worked on our camper. Early in the diagnosis and repair process a second Jim arrived. A previous owner of a Unimog 404 he was curious about our yellow monster. After a little conversation he offered to buy us coffee at the cafe next door. There we met our third Jim of the day (the owner of the cafe). to read the full post

The Big Nickel, an upside down Dane (Samuel de Champlain Park, Ontario)

Journal entry for Saturday 28th Jul, 2012 (day 24, miles 3,738)

Sudbury Ontario has been an active and important nickel (and other minerals) mining town for well over 100 years. The extent of past and present mining is easily seen from the huge piles of spoil piled up around the town, in some cases they look like mountain ridges. In more recent times Sudbury has made an effort to diversify and increase tourism and to this end has built a mining/geological exhibition called Dynamic Earth (also known as the Big Nickel) and a general science exhibition known as ScienceNorth. The Big Nickel is a bit of a pun. There was a mine here at one time called the Big Nickel but now there is in fact a large (that is a very large) replica of a Canadian Nickel on a pedestal out front of the Dynamic Earth building. While observing this wonder we met a Danish lady named Barbara standing on her head in front of the nickel (her friend, also a Dane, named, Anne Marie was taking her photo). Seems being photographed head standing in front of sights around the world is her thing. to read the full post

Walmart+McDonalds and Quiche for dinner (Ottawa, Ontario)

Journal entry for Sunday 29th Jul, 2012 (day 25, miles 3,938)

Today for the first time I noticed that here in Ontario (and maybe Canada) Walmart stores have a McDonalds restaurant attached. I am sure that in the US it is a Subway. In any case that proved convenient today as McDonalds has free wifi and gave us a chance to catch up on the website. Before getting underway this morning we got into conversations with quite a group of people who were curious about our vehicle, wanted to take a photo and look inside. We sometimes feel we are getting a bit tired of telling the same story but the people are friendly, the curiosity natural and we better get used to it for it will happen in other parts of the world as well. to read the full post

New plan, new "country" (Trois Riviere, Quebec)

Journal entry for Monday 30th Jul, 2012 (day 26, miles 4,141)

This morning our plans changed (or at least solidified), the catayst was a conversation with another traveling couple (Gerry and Joy from Mississauga) who told us about the ferry from Blanc-Sablon to St Barbe, NewFoundland. This route will require us to travel the remote trans Labrador Highway (made up of highways 389, 500, and 510) and was just the trigger we needed to make a decision about how or whether to visit NewFoundland. It is approximately 2500 kms from Casselman (where we met Gerry and Joy) to the ferry at Blanc-Sablon and we are allowing 10 days for the journey. to read the full post

RV Parking lot, Cirque du Soleil, movies on silos (Quebec City, Quebec)

Journal entry for Tuesday 31st Jul, 2012 (day 27, miles 4,224)

Today we wanted to make a short visit to the old part of Quebec City (founded in 1608 it is the only walled city in the US/Canada), but where to park. Fortunately Google provided a possible answer, a parking lot in downtown Quebec right on Bassin Loise that (apparently) was suitable for RVs, so off we headed. Our GPS lead us right to the place and sure enough there were a lot of RVs already parked there. Quickly we found out that the parking fee for RVs was C$65 per 24 hours and almost as quickly decided we would stay the night here and devote the remainder of the day to sightseeing. The lot is an amazingly convenient spot for a base, we are only a short walk (maybe 15 minutes) up hill to the old walled city and Chateaux Fontenac. The blue and yellow big top tents of Cirque du Soleil are just across the road, and just down the street is a big complex of grain silos that become a projection screen for outdoor movies. It seemed every RV owner in Quebec (other than us) knew about this place because by 10:00pm the place was packed with motorhomes and camping trailers, probably over 200 of them. to read the full post