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.

Got in around 3:00, after continuing our preference of staying off the freeways, we took a leisurely trip along some backroads to make our way here. Although it adds a bit of time to the trip, you are able to see some quaint little towns that would otherwise go unnoticed. This KOA is quite nice...lovely setting, well organized and clean...and truly a place where creature comforts are not that far way...perfect for the numerous families that have rolled in. One fact that is abundantly clear...we are definitely the smallest footprint here...even the pop up campers are bigger than us.

We have had some issues already. We stopped at Timmy’s to get a bit of lunch, and when we started up again, I noticed that we had lost power to the Alto.  Power through the wiring harness not only works the signal lights, but also the onboard electric brake controller.  I was unable to determine where the problem was occurring. Seeing a Can Tire close by, we thought we would take a short drive across the street...when I started moving again, the lights came on, and stayed on. So we continued on our way...kept an eye on the lights, and noticed that when going over big bumps, the lights would blink. Something screwy going on to track down.

Fired up the Q and did up some Friday night brats. Started to get cool so we turned on the heat pump to give us some need heat. Warmed up the Alto real nice...but more on the heat pump later. Started to rain later in the evening, actually it was quite a little storm. Woke up Sat morning and it had gotten much cooler, very wet and overcast.  Headed into Gananoque to do some exploring. Got back in the late afternoon and decided to check out the heated pools...there were 3 of them, the warmest being a really big spa...and after being chilled all day, it was glorious.

Walked back to the Alto and noticed that the heat pump was starting to ice up...I was not really surprised as I had read this could happen given the conditions we were in.  Our backup heat plan is a little ceramic space heater we bought last fall. It did an OK job, but was clearly overwhelmed at the task. More on that later. So now we are in a chilly environment, but we had brought some extra warm stuff and were glad we did. One of our decisions with regards to options on the Alto was whether to go with the heat pump or the propane furnace, or both. We obviously opted for the heat pump, thinking that it would probably meet our needs, and given that Dale has a strong fear of all things involving flame. In the end, possibly a mistake.  The Alto is already pre-wired for the furnace, so we can get one installed if we really think we need to.

As we had wireless at the campsite, I logged in (who travels without a laptop???) and did some research on better quality space heaters. This is our first solution to some extra heat. The vast majority of places we are booked into, even provincial sites, we will have at least 15 amp service, which is fine for a space heater. There is an American company called Vornado, that make what looks to be a fine line of quality space heaters. Gotta check that out.

After watching a vid, we hit the pit Sat night...cozy warm under our duvet and throw.  However my synapses is wired, I seem to have the ability to isolate and wake up to sounds that are out of the ordinary...so in the middle of the night, I can hear water running. Waking up now. Concentrate on the sound, clearly not anything dripping off the Alto, but pressurized water for sure.  More awake now, swing my feet on the floor, and my comfy warm socks are now soaked. SHIT! Totally awake now. Turn on some lights, and discover the water feed to the back of the toilet is spaying a fine mist. There is not a lot of water on the floor, just a slowly widening pool. Now the water has been on since we arrived, so perhaps the cold has contracted the pipe and opened a little leak. Knowing the shutoff valve for the toilet feed is under the sink, I open the kitchen cabinet door and stick my head under to go for the valve. That is when I hear more water running...SHIT! I lift the cover of the sink and discover the sink is half full of water, as the tap in the sink is running very slightly. This may be no big deal in the city, but in a closed system like a trailer, it is a huge deal. You have a finite amount of waste water storage...a running tap slowly fills the grey water tank, then rises up the drain towards the sink, overflows into the black water tank through the vent pipe, that fills up too, and will eventually overflow the sink, and then it all goes to hell. So here I am, 1:00 am, very chilly, wet feet, and I now have to go outside to turn off the main water hose and empty both the tanks.  Pull on my Keens, hoodie, and because I have been preoccupied with the events inside, I am oblivious to what is going on outside...swing the door open, and step into a God damn blowing snowstorm...SHIT!

I now have a new phrase I say when trailer life go shitty...”Lets go RV’ing!!!” Coined from a tag line I saw somewhere....best expressed in a loud, cheerful yet sarcastic manner.

Shut off the water, drained the tanks and got back inside in record time. Now my mind is trying to figure out what to hell is going on with the water. Looking at the sink issue, as I was not going to get back to sleep too soon, I easily determined a huge design flaw with the sink and tap. The tap is a little tiny lever that controls the water, vertical for cold, to the left for hot, and pull forward for flow. Simple. Only, when you close the lid on the sink, all is good until the lid is about ¼ inch from closed, then in these conditions, the lid makes contact with the little lever and ever so slightly moves it forward...starting a slow quiet flow that will fill your tanks, and perhaps your trailer as well. Lovely.

In the morning, I tried to get the toilet to leak again with no luck...so that may have been a fluke. I will however be looking at that fitting...needs some teflon tape for sure.

Sunday morning we grabbed a bit of breakfast packed up and pulled. Oh yes, to finish off the weekend, almost ran out of gas on the way home,  My own stupidity...rolled into a station on fumes.  And finally, when we opened the Alto in the driveway, we discovered we had forgotten to lock the kitchen cabinet door before we left and the contents of the cabinet had run amok on the journey home.

Are we discouraged from the events of our first outing...perhaps a little, but we are still learning the ropes. Lots of little things came together at one time to test us. Next trip will be better...a lot due to what we experienced this time. We reflected a bit last night and are still thinking full steam ahead...this is what we want to do.


  1. I'm actually re reading your blog from the beginning but have to tell you that this post made me laugh out loud the most. "Merde" is one of my favorite words on my own and if there is no sarcasm in my life the family wouldn't recognise me;).

  2. That's funny...I kinda feel the same way.
    Glad your are enjoying my ramblings. I find that a blog is a great way to keep track of our travels, and make some observations of life around us. There is humour everywhere.