Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sudbury Ontario to Cambridge Ontario

So the motorhome and trailer are at the shop and we are off to Cambridge for ten days to meet new granddaughter Robyn and help Kim while Jolene is at home next week.  Her day care person is off to the Dominican Republic for a vacation and, with the brand new baby at home and Mike back at work, some assistance is required.

The temperatures have been warm the last week but they are back to seasonal this morning.  I don't know why everyone is getting so upset about global warming.  I sure could use some more of it.  I paid the bills and took care of my bookkeeping before getting away about 10:15.  I stopped by the bank to get some cash and use my new chipped bank card because the bank website chastised me for not having given it a try yet.  Nag, nag, nag......

On the drive south, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the extension to the four lane from south of Parry Sound  past Nobel and the Killbear Provincial Park entrance was open.  All four divided lanes.  Hallelujah.  It's about time.

For several years now, I have been noticing fir trees where the needles turn a striking golden/yellow.  Then, sometime later, all the needles fall off.  In one yard a couple of seasons back, I saw six identical trees, one of which had changed colour.  There seem to be a lot more of these along the 69/400 corridor this season.  I have been looking on the Web but can't find anything that matches this description.  If anybody does know what it is, drop me a line.

We stopped at Tecumseth Pines along Highway 9 to visit out friends Eric and Sherry.  I would have called ahead but only had their old phone number, which I found had been reassigned to a landscaping company.  Luckily,they were home when we dropped in unannounced and we had a good visit.  We missed them at Combermere because they went on a trip out west and decided to extend it.  They were gone 62 days and got trapped in Lusk, Wyoming (the place where we found the really good bacon several years ago) for a week due to snow. This was only a couple of weeks before we wandered through there in June.  There were lots of interesting tales to tell.

We reached Guelph just in time for rush hour traffic.  With that and the interminable street construction, I took a few back streets with only moderate success and we arrived at Kim and Mike's at 6:30, about a half hour late.  It was great to see our new week old granddaughter Robyn and also to see how much Jolene had grown.  She is talking lots now and we can even make out some of what she is saying.

We'll be here for nine days and should be able to get really well acquainted with the grandkids.  Looking forward to it.

Today's Route (285 miles):

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Monday, October 25, 2010

An RV Storage Plan

I had planned to keep the RV and trailer in the driveway until our first planned trip the end of February. Unfortunately, the things take up more space than I figured. The roof is even with the neighbor's eaves, which often accumulate four or more feet of snow when the north wind blows. We usually rake it once or twice a winter and the motorhome would be in the way. Plus we could end up with the same four plus feet of snow on the rubber RV roof. With the winter rains of recent years, I couldn't imagine the weight of snow and ice sitting on top of the motorhome and endangering my A/C and other appliances, not to mention the structure itself.

While pondering this, VROC friend Blondy near Birmingham, Alabama offered a place to park the RV at her place. She sold the 5th wheel that her parents owned and she has a covered structure that sounds about perfect. I called and she said to bring it on down.

I have commitments through the middle of November for helping out with the grandkids, working on the Santa Claus Parade on the 13th and attending a regional STOP meeting on the 14th. So the eagle will fly again on the 15th of November.

I'm taking the unit and trailer to Don's RV tomorrow. Although the enclosed trailer has Dexter Easy-Lube hubs that are greased regularly, I've had it for over five years and would like to get the bearings completely serviced. In addition, I'll get them to mount the spare tire on a bracket on the tongue and add a wheel to the front jack to make it easier to move around. They will add the wiring plug to the RV and get a suitable height drawbar so the trailer will tow level. Also, Andrew will install two Max-Air vent covers and clean and UV treat the roof. I will wait for Camping World to get the ladder and TV antenna installed (and maybe a back-up camera).

I may also see if Costco has the Pressure Pro tire monitoring system they advertise on their website. It is expensive but is the only one for which I find no negative comments on line. A blown tire on the rear can do a lot of damage to the plumbing, not to mention causing a possible wreck.

Still lots to learn but I am working on it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Motorhome Open House

Today, we held an open house for the new RV.

First, in-laws Jan and Harry came over to have a look at it and get a tour.

Harry & Jan Climb On Board

Then Leo and Diane came over with their dog Bo and we all got in to take a tour. Diane brought munchies. We headed out Radar Road to Hanmer where we showed it off to Doug and Carol. Then it was over to Terry and Patsy's. Last, we stopped by Gord and Shirley's. Gord has a lot of motorhome experience and gave me a lot of good tips.

On the way home, we stopped at XS Cargo and Sandy picked up a cart load of stuff to equip the kitchen. Then we headed on home.

I am getting better at driving it. Haven't even come close to hitting anything yet.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sudbury Ontario to Bolton Ontario and Back - Pick up motorhome

Today was the big day. Time to go and pick up the motorhome in Bolton and bring it home. Kevin at Globetrotter got called out of town this week so the ladder, antenna and plug didn't get done. I will have the plug done at Don's RV in Sudbury and may have them add the ladder and antenna. I may also wait and have those done at a Camping World in the USA, since they have a wide range of items for sale and facilities to install them.

Leo and Diane volunteered to drive us down and their Toyota Camry was in the driveway at 7:00 AM sharp. The drive south was uneventful except for the band of freshly fallen snow in the Barrie area. There was several inches of the white stuff on the ground.

Snow Near Barrie

We stopped at Tim Horton's in Bolton for lunch before heading to Cruise Canada. Our unit, decked out in its new Majestic decals, was inside. TJ took us on a tour of all the appliances and equipment. It was a whirlwind. Then it was hauled outside and we went through the steps to winterize it. More whirlwind. I did get the Cruise America book on how to run everything, but TJ didn't have any of the original manuals. He said that they are not provided by head office when he gets the units.

After all was done and the papers had changed hands, it was our motorhome. I climbed into it thinking that the last time I drove something this long was never. With Leo and Diane following, I pulled slowly out onto 50 Road northbound. As the V10 pulled the unit along, I realized this was heavy. The steering was sensitive until I got the hang of how not to over correct. Then it got easier.

We returned to Sudbury via 50 Road, Highway 9, Highway 400 and Highway 69 with stops at Waubaushene and the French river Trading Post. Diane got in at Waubaushene and kept Sandy company in the back for the rest of the ride.

Our Majestic Motorhome at the French River Trading Post

By the time we got home, I was getting quite comfortable in the driver's seat.  When we got there, I backed it into the driveway. It took a couple of tries to get lined up but I'll get the hang of it. Combined with the enclosed trailer I picked up earlier in the week, this thing takes up almost the whole driveway.

But it's home safely.

Today's Route (467 miles):

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Welcome Robyn Michelle Koolen

Mike called this morning to say that we had a new granddaughter. Robyn Michelle Koolen was born at 2:55 AM by C-Section and weighed 10 lbs 5.6 ozs. Mother and daughter were doing well.  The grandparents are thrilled.

Robyn Michelle Koolen

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thanksgiving Monday Ride

It was cold this morning but Leo, Doug and I decided that a Thanksgiving Monday ride was in order.  They showed up in my driveway a little after 10:00 AM, bundled up warmly.

We rode out old Highway 17, aka Municipal Road 55, and followed 17 to Nairn Centre  where we stopped for soup and a sandwich at Jeremy's Restaurant.  Despite Leo's protests that it wasn't really that cold, we decided to head back to town and swung around to Doug's place where we stopped in to visit a bit.  Then we headed for home via Radar Road.

It wasn't a long ride and it was cold and damp, but it was good to get out for a while.

Today's Route (103 miles):

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cambridge Ontario to Sudbury Ontario

It was time to be homeward bound on this fine Thanksgiving Sunday morning. October 10th, 2010. That makes it 10/10/10. We had a fine Thanksgiving dinner at Kim and Mike's yesterday and spent much of the day playing with granddaughter Jolene.

We first set out today to share breakfast with Tom and Heather at Oscar's Restaurant on Victoria Street in Kitchener. The building Oscar's is in was a fast food restaurant at  one time but has been reworked into a family diner. They have a great breakfast menu and Sandy and I split an order of eggs, meat and pancakes. Good thing because there was a lot to share and, despite having only half an order, I still ate too much.

There were a lot of police on Highway 24 and again on the 400. We even saw a chilly Rocky and his police Harley giving a ticket on Highway 69. It looks like the new OPP Commissioner decided on a full blitz for the long weekend. Travelling at my usual 18 KPH over didn't seem to attract any attention.

It was a clear day, good for driving. There were still many trees in glorious fall colours. We did see that the northbound service centre in Barrie was going to be shut down in another ten days to be rebuilt as are so many across the province.

We arrived home by mid-afternoon with no unusual incidents.

Today's Route (295 miles):

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Friday, October 08, 2010

Cambridge Ontario to Bolton Ontario and Back Plus Woodstock

Yesterday was pretty quiet.  Sandy and Kim  sorted some stuff around the house and I did some of my overdue paperwork.  This morning, they went shopping and I made a trip back to Bolton to see Globetrotter RV about the additions to the motorhome.

Since it was after rush hour, I took the quickest cheap way to Bolton.  To stay cheap, you need to avoid the 407 because I think it has the highest toll rates in North America.  That's what you get when the province sells a major toll road to a foreign business.  But I digress.

After highballing into Bolton on the 401/427 and 50 Road, I stopped at Cruise Canada to talk to TJ about the  roof on the unit.  He confirmed it was a rubber membrane roof, the same as about 90% of the RV's produced these days.  That means I will need to learn to provide some TLC with regard to cleaning and UV treatments as well as avoiding any overhanging branches.  More specialized knowledge.

I then went up the road to Globetrotter where I spoke with Kevin, the owner, about adding a ladder (necessary for the roof maintenance), an amplified TV antenna and replacing the Mickey Mouse tow wiring with a proper seven pin wiring plug for the trailer.  He came back to Cruise Canada to look at the unit and we decided where the antenna wiring would go.  He and TJ worked out the details with the CC work being done next week and Kevin taking it the week after so it would be  ready for pickup on the 22nd.

I decided to return to Cambridge via the back roads.  I left Bolton on Mayfield Road where I was very surprised to see the roads covered with a layer of white salt.  Then I passed a brine truck going the other way laying down a wet saline solution.  It seems like very early in the season to be attacking this.  I followed many side roads (GPS set to avoid highways and Interstates) through Georgetown and made a short detour into Acton to grab lunch at McDonald's.  For a short ways, I followed a gentleman driving a Ford Model T, an unusual vehicle to see out on the road.  Many of the roads I followed would be excellent on a motorcycle.

Sandy and Kim were still out when I got back, but returned soon after.  Then we made plans to meet Heather at her office in Ayr about 5:00 PM.  Tom arrived soon after on his bike, which he had taken to work this morning.

Waiting for Heather in Ayr

As soon as Heather got off, we piled into the van and drove down the 401 to Woodstock to see how their new house was coming along. The progress has been good and we walked through checking out all the work that has been completed.

Heather & Tom's new home

Their house is near an exit on the 401 and, at that interchange, is a fairly new Truckstops of America facility. It even has a large truck wash that seemed to be in high demand and is one of the few places I have seen CB radios on sale. The menu had a first. I have never before in Canada seen chicken fried steak on a menu and our server said it was quite popular. No doubt. I skipped that in the interest of my waistline, however, and had a hot sandwich instead.

From Woodstock, we returned to Ayr where Heather and Tom departed for Breslau (where they are currently staying with Tom's parents), she in the car and he on his bike. Sandy and I returned to Cambridge for the evening.

Today's Route (118 miles):

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Sudbury Ontario to Cambridge Ontario and Motorhome Purchase

We're off to Cambridge. We told Kim we would come down for a few days to help her get things squared away because the new baby is due on October 16th.

In the course of further searching for motor homes, I found that Cruise Canada has some of their fleet up for sale. Their units are specially made for them by Four Winds in Elkhart, Indiana and, while resembling the retail versions of the Majestic series, have a few differences to help them withstand the demanding rental market. Their motorhomes go from the small at 19' to the large at 30'. All are Class C built on the Ford E chassis, with the smaller ones using the E350 with the 5.4L V8 and the largest using the 6.8L V10. I checked the RV forums and found some people dead set against buying rental units, but none of them had actually done it. Those who had generally reported being very satisfied with their purchases. At least you know with these units that they have been used and maintained. Cruise America (which includes Cruise Canada) has a program to refurbish the units prior to sale. I called TJ, the manager of the facility in Bolton, Ontario and arranged to stop by today on our way to Cambridge and check his inventory out.

It was cool and clear when we set out in the van today. After waiting for the road construction on the Southeast Bypass and getting by three flag persons, we headed south. The only notable thing was at the Key River where there were several flag persons. In the northbound lane, someone stopped and a truck towing a hunting camper didn't seem to notice in time. Moderate damage to the car, little to the truck and no apparent injuries.

The four lane past Parry Sound still wasn't open. I'm not sure if they will ever get done. When the Liberals took power in Ontario in 2003, they promised the four-laning between Parry Sound and Sudbury would be completed in twelve years. It sure doesn't look like they are going to make it. I did notice that the pavement was sparkling like diamonds in the lower sun. I imagine there must be a fair quartz content in the aggregate they used. Whatever the reason, it was sure pretty.

We left the 400 at King Road and headed west towards Bolton. I've never taken this road before and found it very scenic. Rolling hills, fall-coloured trees and some very large homes. We rolled into the Cruise Canada lot on 50 Road in Bolton at 1:00 PM.

TJ, the manager, brought up his list of 28A models for sale. One that caught my eye was a 2005 (chassis year, the RV is a 2006) model 28A with 99,000 kilometers on the clock. This is lowest mileage of any of this vintage in his stock. We went out and looked at it and another one of the lower mileage units. The 28A is just under 30' long and laid out much like the Winnie we looked at in Kitchener. It is powered by the V10 and has a dinette, jackknife couch/bed, kitchen, bathroom, shower and island queen in the back bedroom. It will sleep seven in a pinch if two of them are short. It includes a 40 gallon fresh water tank, Onan 4KW generator, furnace and roof A/C. One thing I like better than the Winnie was that it had a longer wheelbase, which resulted in less overhang at the back and a low stance so it didn't need an external step. Things it lacked were a ladder (to keep renters off the roof) and an external TV antenna. These things can be added quite easily later on. It also had no awning, but the CC gang can add one for a price.

There were a few things that needed repairing. We looked it over and made a list and TJ said they would also go over it as well. Cruise Canada provides a 12 month/18,000 kilometer power train warranty on every unit they sell. Sandy and I discussed it and she was much happier with this than the Winnie, so we signed the papers after getting $1,000 off the asking price and $500 off the awning. They will replace the Cruise Canada decals with conventional Majestic ones.  I gave TJ a $500 deposit and we talked about having the RV shop down the road install the ladder and TV antenna. We agreed that we would pick it up on October 22nd.

Motorhome left side



Inside looking ahead

Inside looking back

TJ marking us on the board

After leaving Cruise Canada, we stopped at Globetrotter RV to talk about the ladder and TV antenna. Then we headed south on 50 Road but, before we got to the 427, I got a cell phone call from TJ. It seems I had left with the RV keys in my pocket. Back we went and dropped them off.

The rest of the trip on the 427/407/401 was uneventful except for the truck that tipped over on the Highway 6 South ramp on the other side of the 401. Of course our side backed way up due to people slowing down to rubberneck. I didn't do that but I did get a picture.

Overturned truck - 401 @ Highway 6 S on ramp

We got to Kim's about 5:30, just in time to play a bit with Jolene and help her have supper. She went to bed soon after and we visited and watched TV until it was time to turn in as well.

Jolene and Grandma

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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Freedom Riders Colour Run

Every fall in recent years, the Freedom Riders have planned a fall colour run. We don't usually get a large turnout because we leave it late enough in the season that it is pretty cold. Or raining. Or both. But that's OK because those of us who go always remember it.

President Rob decided that today would be the day. There was no rain in the forecast so Leo and I decided we'd go for it. It was +3C at 8:30 when he swung by my place to get me on his pretty red 2002 BMW 1150 RT. Sandy decided to skip this ride and stayed home. As we rode over to the meeting point at the Tim Horton's adjacent to the Canadian Tire on the south side of the city, it started to mist down on us. Have I ever mentioned that the weather man is a disreputable SOB? But we were already rolling and nothing as simple as getting wet in a wind in near freezing temperatures was going to stop us.

Under clouds that almost made it look like it was going to snow, we rolled into Timmy's and found Rob, his daughter Sam and VP Dan waiting (inside) for us. Lest we think ourselves too macho, there were four sport bikes there (two of them Hyabusas) piloted by ladies on their way 180 miles south to Barrie. They were well on their way to debugging a malfunctioning set of electric gloves when we pulled out.

Our first leg took us forty miles south to the French River Trading Post, where a stop for hot coffee seemed like a good idea. I had expected the ladies to blow by us somewhere along the way but we didn't see them at all. The Trading Post mascot is the famous Hungry Bear and he just happened to be around so we took advantage and got a group photo.

Sam, Dan, Rob & Leo with the Hungry Bear

After warm drinks, we decided we would short cut our Parry Sound destination and head across Highway 522 which started only 10 miles south of where we were. Dan said the road had been recently resurfaced and was in good shape. Rob said Sam wasn't comfortable on his V-Star due to the cold wind and asked if she could ride on the empty back seat on the Wing. No problem.

Sam and Rob get geared up at the French River

We headed on south to the turn-off to 522, which is right at the entrance to Grundy Provincial Park. I'm not sure what the current definition of resurfaced is, but the first few miles of light gravel over hard pack didn't seem to fit the description. We motored on, hoping for an improvement and soon we got it. From there to the village of Loring, we rode on old pavement but we made the most of it on the winding road. Then the resurfacing showed its face and we had good pavement through Arnstein to Golden Valley. Unfortunately, we were catching an eastbound rain cloud and so everything was wet. This necessitated a little more care in the corners, not to mention getting our boots wet. The last way to Highway 11, we crossed numerous short gravel patches where they were in the process of replacing culverts.

We arrived in the hamlet of Trout Creek, the eastern terminus of 522, cold and wet. The first place we encountered was TJ's Restaurant and Motel and Rob didn't hesitate in pulling in and shutting down.  I settled for a chicken, peameal (aka Canadian or back) bacon and onion sandwich, which perked me up considerably.

TJ's - Trout Creek Ontario

Coffee'd and fed, we headed north on Highway 11, stopping in North Bay for fuel. Then it was west on Highway 17 to the Tim Horton's in Sturgeon Falls for our final coffee break while a short shower spit down on us again. There were a few classic cars in the packed lot and we admired them while waiting for the liquid sunshine to go somewhere else.

Classic cars in Sturgeon Falls

The rest of the ride was uneventful and we were home by 3:00 PM. Not a bad day, all things considered. Too bad more people didn't get out for it.

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