2010 Trip 11 - Wrapping it up...

McCreary's Beach, Mississippi Lake - Oct 2010

Well, looks like the last outing of the season is upon us. This fall has been very cool and wet, so we decided that Thanksgiving weekend, weather permitting, would be the time to get the Alto ready for winter.  Luckily, the weather is fabulous this weekend... still a little cool, but there is not a cloud in the sky and the brilliant sun is making the day feel warmer than it is. We have made reservations at a private campground just this side of Perth. We want full hookups this time, as we plan to flush the tanks and get them as clean as we can. Having a sewer hookup at our site will certainly help this task.

A place for the Mags

Lots of stuff accumulates on the little table...mostly maps and paper. We (Dale) saw this magazine rack in the Solutions Store, and figured it would be perfect to create some storage holders. It was metal, the right size and colour, and easily hacked apart. It yielded 3 separate racks. One went on the side of the microware cabinet and the other 2 on the front wall behind the table. They do a great job with the clutter, and offer secure storage while on the road.

2010 Trip 10 - Campfire = Heat...

Bonnechere Provincial Park - Sept 2010

Headed out Friday afternoon. On the road by 4:30, and as usual, the traffic was heavy. Took us a while to just get outside the city. We are going to Bonnechere this weekend, and our friend Sandra is coming along to pitch a tent on our site. She is waiting for us to go by her while she sits on the side of the Hwy 17. She will then follow us up. Pretty hard to miss us. It is about a 2 1/2 hour drive up there, so we are hoping some daylight will be left. Given the time of year, it will probably be dark. Staying on the same site we had in June, a good spot, being close to both the beach and the comfort station.

2010 Trip 9 - Outdoorsy Girls Weekend...

Fitzroy Provincial Park - Sept 2010

In early summer I (Dale) and Nancy thought up of arranging our annual girls getaway weekend using our two trailers to go camping.  We picked Fitzroy Harbour because of it's closeness to Ottawa and that it would be an easy reach for both Jim and Drew (Nancy's husband) to drive out with the trailers and set them up for us.  The guys are critical for the pulling & setting up stage...since Drew was out of town on business, Jim could have done both but it ended up with Jim needing to just set up just ours.

2010 Trip 8 - Bike rack...what a great idea!

Bon Echo Provincial Park - Sept 2010

Long weekend, yippee! Although the Labour Day weekend usually bookends the wrong end of the summer, there is still lots of weekends left before the Alto season is over. On the road Friday night by 6:00, sort of on track. Pissed down the rain shortly before we headed out, and now it is only off and on. Traffic heavy as expected, seems to take forever to get out of the city. Once we got past Carleton Place, it moved along quite nicely, with the occasional a-hole driver just to keep things interesting.

2010 Vacation Day 14 - Heading home...

Pulled out around 8:00. Coffee to get going, then a quick breakfast at Timmy's in a near by town. We are heading cross country to Sherbrooke, then will hop the 10 into Montreal. Our penchant for traveling off the main highways has provided us with some amazing sights along the way, from the scenic to the quirky.

2010 Vacation Day 13 - The Factory Tour

On the road by 7:00 am. We are not totally certain how long it will take us to get to St. Frederic and the factory, so we are allowing some extra time. Drove right up Hwy 201, on what is called "The Old Canada Road". Apparently Benedict Arnold and his troops, in 1775, followed the Kennebec River, on their way to Canada. The highway follows the river most of the way. It is a great drive, and very scenic and very Maine as well.

2010 Vacation Day 12 - Where's the bridge?

The alarm woke us as planned at 5:30. I was however, already awake a bit before that, listening to the pounding rain and gusting wind. The last thing I wanted to hear. It was so bad, that if it continued, we would have delayed leaving. It did let up though, a little before 7:00. We listened to the weather report, and decided to hitch up and move out.

2010 Vacation Day 11 - The best fish and chips ever...

Headed over to Grenwich this morning, a part of the national park that contains the dunes. It is about a 45 minute drive from Stanhope. Stopped at St. Peters Bay to check out the shops and have an ice cream. Grenwich has a number of trails, and we wanted to walk to the dunes.

2010 Vacation Day 10 - Where's my life jacket?

Woke up early, so we both headed for a shower to beat the late risers. Not too windy this morning, we think we may have lucked out on a good day for a paddle. Dale and I walked along the beach for a long ways, taking pictures and looking for beach glass. I found a piece that is clearly from a beer bottle, part of the top. It is well worn and smooth from the abrasion of the sand, but still the top of a beer bottle.

2010 Vacation Day 9 - A reel or a jig?

Started off the morning with a breakfast of steak and eggs, and some fried potatos. Yummy. Low key morning, did a load of laundry, worked on this blog, and showed a few other campers the Alto. Apparently there is a resort nearby that does not mind people utilizing their wifi, so I went over there to do some blog posts and to check the email. Dale walked down to the beach to check it out while I blogged. Really nice resort, and they did not mind me sitting in the lobby while I connected. Ended up talking to the owner, as he wandered over to say hello. Nice guy, and we spoke for a while.

2010 Vacation Day 8 - Fox 1 Crocs 0

Up early to get a start on the packing up. Poked away at it between cups of coffee. Apple crisp for breakfast, which we did not have room to eat last night. Went over to say goodbye to our crokinole friends. Steve brought his banjo to sing a little ditty he wrote about our new friends, which summed up our crokinole experience quite humourously. Such nice people.

2010 Vacation Day 7 - Is there anything we have not done today???

Rained overnight, hard at times, but the whole thing only lasted a couple of hours. Love the sound of rain, I guess compounded by the fact we are no longer in a tent on the ground. No rush to this morning, very dull and overcast, and a touch cool.  Made up the requisite coffee, and once again, granola with fresh peaches. Steve wandered over to talk to the other couples about plans for the day, looks like there may be some crokinole happening at the Panmure Island Pow Wow, a yearly event held just across the road.

2010 Vacation Day 6 - The boards were fast...

The day started out rather overcast and cool. Slept in a bit, then got the coffee going. Breakfast was Nova Scotia peaches, granola and yogurt...very yummy. Poked around outside a bit, then we wandered over to check out the crokinole boards we heard about around the campfire.

2010 Vacation Day 5 - Hermit crab racing...

Packed up and on the road by 9:30. A little later than expected, but no biggie. Heading for PEI, to a provincial park called Panmure Island.  Weather and traffic both good today. Made it to the bridge in about 3 hours. Got a little sidetracked nearing the bridge, 3 of us, 2 trailers and a pickup truck, took Hwy 355 to the bridge. or so we thought, and ended up stopped at a construction detour. So we were all sitting stopped, not because of the construction, but because none of us seemed to want to venture further. I hopped out and walked up to the first trailer, he was not feeling good about the state of the road, then I wandered back the the pickup behind us. They figured that the road we were hesitant about would actually get us back to the main Hwy, so we all agreed and they led the way. Sure enough, we were back on track in about 15 minutes. Stopped and gassed up before the bridge, then started out.

A few changes to the trunk

We noticed right away that after travelling, some object that normally resides in the trunk, will inevitably make its way into the living area upon arrival. This is not surprising, given that the Alto can bounce around a bit, and the only divider between the two areas is a small fabric curtain. Having lots of extra coroplast from other little mods, I decided to create a better divider.

I cut a double layer of coroplast to size, and velcro'd it to the existing frame. Much better. You will also notice that I created a small wing piece which is attached to the front curve of the Alto.  The power converter and connections are right behind it, so I figured a little extra protection would not hurt. The industrial strength velcro is a great product...super sticky and the velcro holds real well.

These little LED puck lights are awesome. They stick anywhere and the batteries seem to last forever. The trunk needed a little light, and this fit the bill perfectly.

2010 Vacation Day 4 - Fog, fog and more fog...

Rained all night. Very damp and clammy this morning, but nothing the heatpump cannot cure. Got us dried out and toasy warm in no time. After getting squared away with the morning neccessities, I went up to the comfort station for a shower, while Dale braved the fog and utilized the outdoor shower again.

2010 Vacation Day 3 - Return of the pan roll...

Bit foggy and overcast this morning. Got the coffee going, then slowly started to get active. After an hour or so it started to clear and get much brighter. Dale decided that as we have a water hookup, that it was time to try the outdoor shower. She pulled out our little enclosure and set it up. Then she got the shower hose out and once settled in, got it going.

2010 Vacation Day 2 - Trees as far as the eye can see...

Up early, grabbed a shower and a bite to eat, and pulled out around 9:00. Probably have about a 5 hour drive into St John. Drove Hwy 2 to Newport, hopped the 95 into Bangor, then caught the number 9, the Airline Road as it is called. We speculated why it may be called the Airline Rd, as it cuts straight across the eastern part of Maine, as the crow flies, as well as an airplane flies. Just our theory... We have driven this road many many years ago, and I remember it being pretty primitive. Extremely scenic, but primitive. Well, it has changed.

2010 Trip 7: Vacation, NB & PEI

On the road at 7:00am, which in itself is remarkable. Heading to Skowhagen Maine, via Sherbrooke QC. Traffic not bad at all, through Montreal, passing the confusing urban landscape of Longueuil, and straight down Hwy 10. Very nice countryside in the Eastern Townships. Lots of farming and then hills once we get close to the border.

Now this should be standard...

We installed an extra electrical outlet on the door side of the Alto.  There is no existing outlet there, and we found last year that when powering the TV, the AC adaptor cord had to be stretched across the trailer to the other side, just waiting to be tripped over, which it was a few times.  There is a perfect spot for an outlet on the back wall of the toilet enclosure.  It was installed up high, and the AC adaptor, or anything else, can be plugged right in.  I carefully measured where the outlet box was to go, as well as the sizing.  This is truly a one shot deal, no room for error. I drilled a couple of pilot holes on the corners, then drew an outline of the box.  Drilled some larger holes in each corner where the box is to go, then using a fine toothed hacksaw, connected the holes. Some minor adjustments, and the box fit perfectly.  Then I drilled a hole below for the electrical wire to feed through, with a grommet clamp to protect the cable. The power was tapped off the outside outlet, which is on a seperate circuit and rarely used. As you can see, it looks like it was always there.

2010 Trip 6 - Sardines anyone?

Algonquin Provincial Park, Lake of Two Rivers Campsite - Aug 2010

On the road a little before 4:30pm. Was able to hitch everything up last night, which probably saved about an hour today...perhaps not a whole hour, but all the little last moment stuff that needs to be done to get underway, sure seems to add up. Traffic was heavy, and it started right on Bronson. We usually head down Carling to hop on the Queensway at Pinecrest, as the Queensway really seems to jam up between Bronson and Woodroffe. Well, not a great plan today. Did not know that Carling beyond Woodroffe was under construction, and got stuck in it with no escape. Took an hour to get onto the Queensway... crazy. The traffic on Hwy 17 was heavy until Renfrew, no suprise though, it is a long weekend.

2010 Trip 5 - Breaker Heaven...

Sandbanks Provincial Park - July 2010

Extra long weekend trip to Sandbanks. Headed out Thursday morning. Travelled Hwy 15 to Kingston, then hopped the 401 to Hwy 49 into Picton. Pretty hot day, so we had the air on a lot, which in combination with pulling the trailer and the 401 part of the drive, really seemed to kick the hell out of the gas mileage. That little needle just kept dropping and dropping...and given that the tank on the SF is over 20L larger, it really is kinda disturbing to think of the numbers. More on that later.

A place to hang our hats...

Found these great folding hooks at Lee Valley, and in a finish that is perfect for the Alto. We put 3 on the wall at the door, a perfect spot for rain coats and ball caps. When working with a smaller trailer, anything that optimizes the space available is a good thing.

2010 Trip 4 - A quick overnighter...

Big Rideau - June 2010

A short excursion to a cottage on the Big Rideau. Friends of ours have a little cottage here that is on the property of friends of theirs. We took the Alto down there Saturday for an overnight stay. Got a little lost on the way in, but eventually asked for directions from a couple of guys at the dump, then after a bit of a drive on a new gravel road, finally arrived. Just set the Alto up beside the cottage, plugged it in and we were all set up. Had a visit in the afternoon, fired up the Q and had some excellent rib steaks and more visiting. 

Got up in the morning, coffee and a light breakfast, then went for a cruise around the lake in their awesome Boston Whaler boat...one of my favorite boat designs.  Moored near the govt dock at Long Island and went for a swim. Water was not bad at all...once you got used to it! Got home around 3:00 and gave the Alto a quick scrub as it was pretty dirty from the roads. A quick relaxing weekend.

2010 Trip 3: Old Stomping Grounds

Bonnechere Provincial Park -  June 2010

Headed out late Friday, traffic pretty heavy as it is rush hour and everyone is probably eager to start the weekend. Weather for the weekend calls for it to be rain, but we are going regardless, and will deal with what appears. It's not difficult to head out when the weather is fine, if it was really pouring Friday afternoon, then one may tend to think twice. Trip was about 2.5 hours, along very familiar roads. It was almost like being on autopilot. Arrived around 7:30pm. Really nice PP, big sites, reasonable space and privacy between. Our site is excellent, nothing on 3 sides of us and a single neighbour on the right.  Nice deep site so we backed the Alto in quite a bit.

A little extra engineering

We decided to beef up the centre of the bench frame by adding a square tube cross brace. When pulling across the curtains, there is weight put right in the centre of the bench, quite often. So we put in the cross brace. Over engineering yes...why...because I can.

One thing we noticed was that bins placed in the storage areas under the bench seats, while on the road, had a tendency to wander to the back of the trailer, under the fold down rear bench.  To prevent this, I added some angle aluminum, riveted to the vertical risers, stopping any of the storage bins from getting back under the rear bench.  Other than the contortions to work in that space, a pretty easy mod.

A bunch of little projects

I added  number of zip ties to the wiring harnesses throughout the Alto...not that there was a problem, but I guess I just prefer it all to be a little more organized.

I found the original hole in the weight distribution hitch bar caused the ball to sit quite far from the bumper. As it is optimum to have the ball as close as possible to the vehicle, the new hole allowed it to be about 2 inches closer.

Our optional external shower had a hose that was too short and very stiff. We got a longer and more flexible extension. Seems they are a universal fit.

We found the screen was always coming off on one side. I changed the velcro to a stronger industrial version, but this only improved it slightly. The reason it is happening at all is that the screen is kinda twisted...I suspect a function of how it was formed into shape. I used nylon cable retainers, upside down to hold the screen in place. as per the photo. works great, and an easy fix.

We doubled up all the existing pieces of coroplast in the trailer. As a single layer they are no that strong, especially when cloths or food storage bins are pressing up against them. For the cost of a 4x8 sheet of coroplast ($10 bucks) we glued an extra layer to everything, and had lots left over for all sorts of other uses. No weight cost either.

2010 Trip 2: Perhaps a bit less challenging...

Silver Lake Provincial Park - May 2010

Headed out late Friday afternoon. Not a long drive, and the traffic was not bad at all considering it was a long weekend. Took us about 1hr, 45min to get here. Once again pleased with the way the SF pulls the Alto...at times as if it was not even there. Just the way it should be. Being the long weekend, we were definitely not the only trailer on the road...there was a whole line of us heading out Hwy 7.

2010 Trip 1: And so it begins...

Ivy Lea KOA - May 2010

So here we are, the Alto 80's first outing. Heading to a KOA in Ivy Lea, just east of Gananoque. A nice close trip for the shakedown cruise. As is the case when a weekend arrives, the weather is only just OK. A tad cool, possibly only getting to 6C, with on and off showers.

We chose a KOA as we have some de-winterizing to do and wanted a campground with full hookups. We have spent a good part of the last 2 weeks getting the Alto ready for the season...doing a few mods, organizing the storage, getting some foodstuffs together. We want to keep it ready to a point where we can throw in some perishables on a Friday after work, hook up and head out.