2011 Factory Updates...

Dec 2011

I made a little excursion to the factory for 2 days of upgrades. In the fall we received a letter from Safari Condo, offering all owners the opportunity to bring their Alto in to the factory to be upgraded to the very lastest build specifications.

2011 Trip 11: Closing the cottage...

White Lake - Oct 2011

This Thanksgiving weekend we are heading to Cedar Cove Resort on White Lake. Sadly, our last camping trip of the year. We opened the Alto here in the spring, so we figured why not go back and close it here.

2011 Trip 10: Love the foldies...

Bonnechere P.P. - Sept 2011

When we booked the site a few weeks back, there were only a few spots already reserved, so we figured it would be a quiet weekend. On the road by 5pm, but the traffic was heavy. Took us at least 40 minutes to get out of the city, which kinda sucks, now that the days are much shorter. Seriously overcast and it looks like rain.

2011 Trip 9: Watch the rock...

Bon Echo - Sept 2011

September long weekend, one of the first signs that the summer is coming to a close. This weekend we are heading to Bon Echo, one of our favorite provincial campgrounds and we are bringing up our kayaks since it is a great paddling lake.

2011 Vacation Day 16 - Saturday: Let there be heat...

So we head home this morning, the very last day of our Alto Vacation. On the road by 9:00, shaping up to be a good driving day. Stopped for gas in Deep River, as it is always a good idea to head out on a full tank. As we were finishing up with the gas, a man walked over and tapped on my window. He saw the Alto and was very curious.

2011 Vacation Day 15 - Friday: Our last official vacation day...

Today we head in the direction of home, with an overnight stop about half way at Driftwood Provincial Park. Got packed up and were on the road by 9:00. We decided to stop briefly at Killarney Outfitters, where we rented the kayaks yesterday, and quickly grab some wi-fi.

2011 Vacation Day 14 - Thursday: Out for a paddle...

Overcast this morning, but at least it is not raining. The kayaks we rented should be on the beach by 8:30, so we are having breakfast, gathering up our paddling gear, then heading for the beach. Sure enough, the kayaks were there waiting. We got squared away then headed out.

2011 Vacation Day 13 - Wednesday: Killarney Provincial Park...granite everywhere

Rained most of last night, at times heavy. Up and out relatively early, stopped for gas and were on the road by 8:30. Light rain all the way, low heavy clouds make for a seriously dull day. Good for driving though. About an hour to Sudbury, then took the  bypass to connect to Hwy 69, then Hwy 637. From the turn onto 637, it is still 60klm to Killarney, through a pretty knarly landscape.

2011 Vacation Day 12 - Tuesday: Great swimming hole, but a tad cool...

Leaving Pancake Bay this morning, heading towards Killarney. We are stopping at The Chutes provincial park in Massey, probably 2/3 of the way to Killarney. Don't know what to expect of this park, but it is on a river and has some nice looking falls. The winds were high on the lake last night, and the breakers were crashing loudly against the shore. It was really neat to listen to during the night.

2011 Vacation Day 11 - Monday: Total R & R

Got a little cool last night, but we were snug under our duvet and the heat pump did its job nicely. Serious relaxation planned today. Between driving and exploring, a day of doing nothing is in order. Coffee, easy breakfast, and lounging are the morning activities.

2011 Vacation Day 10 - Sunday: Pancake Bay on Lake Superior, a spectacular bay...

On the road by 8:30. Rain is just starting to fall, and the clouds in the direction we are heading look pretty black. Nice road, going through a number of little towns, just how we like to travel. Just this side of Petrosky, the skies opened up real heavy, really heavy. Traffic was light and we were able to slow down. It got so bad, that when I spotted a little auto garage, I swung right in and stopped. We sat there for a good 20 minutes while the rain just pounded.

2011 Vacation Day 9 - Saturday: Traversing Traverse City...

Today is an explore Traverse City day. So glad we tacked on another day here, as the dunes tour ate up most of yesterday. We do love exploring new places, all the different stuff to see.. people, shops, restaurants. Snagged a primo parking spot right downtown by the old cinema. A couple of guys were out putting up the new marquee letters, so we chatted with them a while. They are resisting the change to an electronic sign because they figure it would take away from the character of the old movie house... how right they are!

2011 Vacation Day 8 - Friday: Dunes & sand, more dunes and sand...

Another great day ahead. Weather calls for it to be a nice day, so we are heading to Sleepy Bear Dunes. Better to explore on a good day, rather than a rainy day. Took us about 1/2 hour to get there. Stopped at the National Park visitor centre, to pick up a pass and a map of the area.

2011 Vacation Day 7 - Thursday: Up the U.P.

Packed up and headed up the Upper Peninsula for Traverse City. We are booked there for 3 nights in the State Park. We had been booked for 2 nights, but we called and extended an extra night, as we figure between exploring Sleepy Bear Dunes and the city itself, we will need the extra night. Took Hwy 31 the whole way, about 165 miles north from Holland. Nice road, working its way mostly along the coast.

2011 Vacation Day 6 - Wednesday: Herman Miller day...

Up early, got the coffee going and a bite to eat for breakfast. Headed over to the comfort station to have a shower. As you are now well aware if you have been reading this blog, one of my ways to rate a campground is based on how they handle the comfort station. This one is just fine. What I refer to as indestructable. Very similar to how Ontario Parks has set theirs up.

2011 Vacation Day 5 - Tuesday: Such a pretty town... Holland

This morning we headed out for Holland State Park in Holland MI. Our main destination is Saugatuk, but there are no campgrounds around there to stay at. Holland is only a short distance above, so it will work out fine as a starting point.  Holland is a Dutch town, found by immigrants from the Netherlands and their architecture and ambiance is Dutch. An easy drive, which took us about 3 1/2 hours.

2011 Trip 8 - Vacation: Michigan Royal Oak / Upper Penninsula / Lake Superior - Aug 2011

Day 1,2,3,4

Headed out on vacation Friday morning. We are driving to Toronto, actually Brampton, to attend the wedding of Dale's cousin's daughter. Took Hwy 7, then cut above the 401 to catch the 407. Smooth trip, not much traffic. Arrived at the hotel, got changed, then went to the wedding. It was held at a golf course in Brampton, and the ceremony was outside. It was a really nice setting for a lovely wedding. Great funny speeches, a great time for Dale to catch up with her cousins.

Saturday morning we headed to see my cousin in Burlington, before travelling to Michigan to visit my brother and family for a few days. As always, had a great visit there, lots of conversations, laughs and of course food and drink. Got caught up on all the news here.

2011 Trip 7: An amazing stretch of river...

Deep River - July 2011

Another long weekend, gotta love em. Heading to Deep River this trip, as we will be seeing our friends Mark & Donna. They rent a cottage there every year, on a great stretch of the Ottawa River, boasting numerous huge tracks of white sandy beaches. Traffic really heavy, though not unexpected.  We can see some storm clouds off in the direction we are heading, hopefully nothing too severe. Finally pulled into our campsite around 8:30, a slow trip.

2011 Trip 6: Back to our favourite County...

Sandbanks PP - July 2011

The yearly trip to Sandbanks is one of our camping season highlights, not only for the beach but because it is our yearly trip with our long time friends, Helen & Paul, and also our yearly reunion with long time friends Geoff and Joey who live in the area. The plan is for the six of us to meet on Saturday night at a local gourmet restaurant for dinner.  Turned this trip into a long weekend by taking the Thursday and Friday off work. Always a good plan as it is a bit of a drive and the extra time is nice as there is lots to do in the County.

2011 Trip 5: Boondocking ... well, sort of.

Rollins Pond SP, New York - July 2011

Thursday, heading out.
Going to Rollins Pond State Park, in the Adirondacks area of New York.  We have heard lots about this park, and the one right beside it called Fish Creek Pond.  We booked Rollins as we have been told it is quieter and less busy, with no larger motorboats allowed on the lake, perfect for us and our kayaks.  Should be about a 3 1/2 hour drive, although we tend take our time and explore the towns along the way. Heading out on the Thursday, which combined with the July 1 holiday, gives us a nice 4 day break.

2011 Trip 4: Paddle makes it good...

Lake Opinicon - June 2011

First trip this year with the kayaks. Pulled them out from under the deck Wed night and loaded them up. A little dirty from being under the deck all winter, but we will take care of that this weekend. We find the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is indeed magic. Always thought there was something super toxic in those things to allow them to clean the way they do, but in fact, that assumption is a myth. A little Googling discovered that they are actually a super fine micro pore abrasive. Literally scrapes the dirt off things. On a smooth kayak surface, they work wonders. Sorry, I digress...

Friday night traffic is light. Snacked on our sandwiches, a new routine we have we can just concentrate on getting set up when we arrive, rather than doing it while we are starving for dinner.

2011 Trip 3: It's a jungle out here...

Murphy's Point PP - June 2011

We were here, in a tent, probably 30 years ago. All I can remember about this Park is that we arrived on a Friday night in the pouring rain, and set up the tent, a big canvas one, by the lights of our little Honda Civic. I recall the entire weekend it rained, and that is all I remember. No recollection of the Park at all.  Traffic was light this evening, sailed right out of the city no problem. This park is just past Perth, about an hour and fifteen away.

What's inside those wheel hubs?

The brakes were doing a lot of squealing this spring, so I figured it was time to take them apart and give them a good cleaning. Also a good reason to satisfy my curiosity about just how these things actually work.

Bought a little bottle jack to raise the Alto, as my attempts to use the screw jack from the Santa Fe proved awkward.  A recommended purchase, for those times you need to use it to change a tire.  This will make the job much easier.  You can also see a small jackstand there, which is a wise safety precaution, and easy to keep in the car as well.
Inside, it is pretty much a normal drum brake, except what expands the shoes is a magnet, rather than a hydraulic When energized by the brake controller, it grabs the inside face of the drum, and as it gets pulled along by the rotating drum, the lever the magnet is attached to, twists a cam which forces the shoes out to make contact with the sides of the drum.  The more voltage applied, the harder the magnet sticks to the face and the stronger the leverage on the shoes. Pretty ingenious.

When the drum gets pulled off the spindle, the outer wheel bearing, held in place by the spindle nut, comes out of its race.  Lots of grease everywhere, which is a good thing.  Next spring, the job will include a full repack of the bearings.

2011 Trip 2: Hail !!!

Silver Lake PP - May 2011

Long weekend...gotta love em!  Heading back to Silver Lake PP, same time as last year, but on a different site.  Nice day today, the rainy week seems over, at least for when we would like it to be. Traffic was suprisingly light, kinda unusual, perhaps a side effect of the risng gas prices.

How cold is it outside?

We needed to find a good spot to mount the remote temperature sensor for our digital clock/thermometer.  Ordered this gizmo from REI, it displays the time as well as in/out temperatures. Pretty handy. I needed to figure out where to mount the sensor, under the Alto, so that it would be protected out of the elements, but still exposed to the ambient air.  I settled upon mounting it on the side of the slide-out step supports.  Here it will be out of the wind and spray while travelling, and well protected if it rains while we are set up. I then made a shield for it out of black coroplast, to protect it from any spray the wheel may kick up while on the road. Unless you were looking, it is not a noticeable installation.

2011 Trip 1 - Opening the cottage...

Cedar Cove, White Lake - May 2011

Certainly much easier than the old days...although opening the cottage was an exciting event that started the summer season, it did involve a large degree of work to get it all going. From raking leaves to starting the water system to putting in the dock, a lot of work.

Powering the Tivoli

We added a 12v power jack next where the Tivoli sits. The Tivoli is our awesome radio, which fills the Alto with amazing sound given its size. Check it out here... http://www.tivoliaudio.com/products/portables/the-pal-black.html Ours is a funky green colour, not readily available any longer.

I made up a couple of plastic mounting plates for the jacks, then screwed these to the walls. The wire between the jacks ran along with some existing Alto wiring. The whole idea being the jacks will be powered by either the AC adaptor or the 12v outlet on the front wall, and no clutter of cords. Looks sweet and works well.