2013 Trip 11: another season draws to a close

Oct 2013- Cedar Cove, White Lake

An absolute beautiful fall day today, and the forecast calls for the same all weekend. Dale had the day off and I took the afternoon off work to be able to enjoy as much of this weather as possible and to get up to our site early. This was our close up weekend, where we prep the Alto for winter.

Beefed up dolly

The little dolly was taking a beating as it was rolled into the garage. The combination of the tongue weight and the concrete driveway took their toll on the relatively light weight construction. We have replaced these guys a couple of times now, so it was time to beef the dolly up a bit.

I found some larger wheels to replace the tiny plastic ones, drilled them out of the frame, then bolted in the new ones. To stiffen the dolly itself, I made aluminum bars to tie together the wheel bolts, and thus strengthening the frame. As you can see, it looks and is much better. Worked like a charm this year, and I suspect many more years to come.

Extra Security

Over the years we have stayed in a few unsavory spots. Not intentionally mind you, it just turned out that way. Looking closely at the door, it is somewhat lacking in robust security. Once inside, the only lock from the inside is a little deadbolt mechanism integral to the latch set.  Turning some thought towards improving this, I figured some srt of rod could be used to slide through the door flange and into the wall. I came across a nice looking hitch pin at a local hardware store, so I figured I would give it a try.

I drilled a hole through the head of the pin and weaved a split ring through, making a nice loop handle. I then drilled through the aluminum side flange of the door, and right through the wall. A nice stainless steel washer finish off the hole in the wall, and once inserted, makes the door a lot more secure, for those times that we think it a good idea. There are actually 2, one at the top and the bottom. A simple and handy little mod.

2013 Trip 10: a spectacular autumn weekend

Murphys Point - Sept 2013

Close to the end of the season now, we are heading out for the second weekend in the row. The weather for the entire weekend is forecasted to be sunny and warm, around 70F. What a bonus compared to last weekend. It is a short drive here, and we have booked a nice site.

As I have mentioned before, this park is very heavily treed, and as such, is pretty dark. This time we reserved one of the sites closer to the lake, a little more open, so it should be brighter than previous visits. Late getting out of work today, so late getting on the road. We arrived well after dusk, not totally dark, but enough to need the headlamps to help set up. The site is pretty level, and although a little short on privacy, we will benefit from the additional light. I suspect we will always try to aim for a spot along this little stretch, as the others we have been on can be too gloomy.

Bit of a problem with the electrical outlets. When I tried to use the 30 amp, I found that the plug had been installed upside down. The blades are generally at the bottom, where the wire enters. The 30 amp plugs are quite large, including the wire, so it is not as simple as just flipping over the plug like you could on a toaster plug. The cover of the outlet, once lifted, prevented me flipping the plug. Without electricity our weekend will not be as comfortable so in the dark I looked to figure out a fix.  Approaching the issue now armed with a screwdriver, I was able to slide the hinge pin of the cover and this allowed me to remove it completely. Once out of the way, the outlet became useful again. Naturally, the cover will go back on when we leave. This issue will make it on the comment card as I'm sure we are not the only ones that have experienced this problem at this site.

The temp is dropping so we fired up the heat pump, which took the chill off quickly. Camping in the shoulder season, it is nice to have the electrical, because we now know the load on the battery for lights and heat can be significant.

Nice clear skies when we woke up. A little cool, around 50F, so we used the furnace to heat the Alto up. The move to the larger output model was a good one, as it made the trailer very comfortable in about 40 minutes. This is quite reasonable, especially if you are without electricity, Slow heat always beats out no heat. Overhead this weekend are the sounds of flocks of Canada geese flying south, making their crescendo geese calls as they go. Guessing that they are taking advantage of the sunny warm weekend to make their head start, not unlike as we humans do.

Heavy mist over the lake this morning, Dale went outside to take some photos.

2013 Trip 9: a learning experience...

Lac Philippe, Gatineau Park - Sept 2013

Looks to be an overcast rainy weekend and we are heading out to a campground we have never been to before. Lac Philippe, in the NCC (National Capital Commission) run Gatineau Park, is only about 45 minutes from downtown Ottawa.  It has a great little lake for paddling and a nice beach, and it has also a large campground.

We have paddled Lac Philippe many times, but have never checked out the campground. Upon arrival we see that it seems to be quite well run, offering the usual amenities such as comfort stations, a little camp store, boat rentals and yurt rentals for those who do not have tents or trailers. 

Being in September there are only a few fellow campers here, and as luck would have it, the row of sites where we have our reservation, there is other trailer right beside us. With only three of us in this part of the campground we want to be spread out so we went back to the camp office to change our reservation to another site.  A little extra running around, but well worth not being on top of your neighbour if you have the option. Dale had the Alto all set up by the time I got back, and Barley was glad to get into the trailer, talking a lot to make sure we knew he had not been fed yet.

We are in the trailer area, which consists of two rows of back-in sites, each with about eight spots. The rows are well separated by treed hills, so there are no campers visible either at the rear or to the front. The upper row backs onto the main camp road, so the lower area is preferable. Each site is angled, which makes all the sites off-set from each other creating privacy between trailers.  We have not seen this design in other campgrounds, probably because it does takes more space to create lesser sites, and in a private campground, that would reduce resulting revenue.

2013 Trip 8: a river runs through it...

Bon Echo - Sept 2013

Long weekend, sweet. Headed out a tad early to beat the traffic. Bon Echo is about 2 1/2 hours from Ottawa, but a nice drive down Hwy 7. Traffic was moving along nicely, which was a bit surprising given it is a long weekend. The fact that it is forecasted to be a rainy weekend might have made a difference.
Some serious dark clouds when we pulled in, but they held off. Our friend Sandra arrived earlier in the afternoon and was well set up by the time we arrived. Nice big site, with reasonable privacy. Got backed in and set up, the awning made an appearance as it really feels like rain is on the way.

2013 Trip 7: hard to get better than this...

Driftwood PP - Aug 2013

Heading to Driftwood PP, what may very well be now our favorite place to camp. If you can snag a site on the water, it is indeed an idyllic place. Luckily, we have done just that. Our site is awesome, with the perfect combination of sun, shade and trees, as well as a great view.

There are a handfull of sites along this stretch, in reality, any of them would be perfect.

2013 Trip 6: how much heel is too much heel???

Sandbanks PP, Aug 2013

Off to Sandbanks this long weekend, our must have yearly trip to probably the best beach in Ontario, and a fabulous surrounding area. Travelled Hwy 7, 15 through Smiths Falls, then briefly on the 401 until we caught the 49 into Picton which is the main town in Prince Edward County, an island in Lake Ontario..

Fair amount of traffic for a Friday morning, but like us, many have added a day to the long weekend and are already on the road. Made a slight detour off the 15 to Newboro, as there is a big general store located there called Kilborn's, and general store might be the wrong term, as it has clothing, shoes, kitchen stuff, specialty foods etc, so it is not general in the normal definition.  It is a destination store for people who love to check out country roads and shops along the way.

Sandbanks will be hopping this weekend, and there is already a lineup to sign in, and it is only early afternoon. We are in a new area this year, closer to the secondary "campers" beach. Only a few real trailer sites in our little section, mostly spot for tents to sit on the top of a ridge. Our site is pretty large, with the trailer spot nice and level, and offers the option to choose the amount of shade you want as it is nestled under some large cedars. We only backed in a bit under the cedars, since we need the sun for the solar as this is a non-electrical site.

2013 Vacation Day 15: Saturday...and heading home

Well, another vacation draws to an end. We have been very fortunate that the weather for the most part has been excellent. The big storm predicted to follow the afternoon event did not happen. It must have gone around us. This morning the sky is overcast, but the clouds were high and the sense of rain is not really that strong. We got things squared away, hitched up and pulled out around 9:00. Had some rain on the way home, but nothing crazy.

Covered a lot of are on this trip, saw a lot of scenery and got in some good visits with relatives. Overall, a nice vacation.

2013 Vacation Day 14: Friday...serious R & R

Pounded down the rain again last night, with heavy thunder and lightning, as a big storm rolled right over the Adirondacks. It made for quite a light show in the trailer, with the sound of the rain on the roof, soon followed by the thunderous roar. Although we are very cozy inside, you cannot help but feel for the campers on the ground in tents...storms like this can make for a miserable time.

2013 Vacation Day 13: Thursday...a 4 state marathon drive

Huge thunderstorm last night, with tons of rain, and with lightning that was more sheet than bolts. The entire sky would ignite like a flashbulb, followed by a series of loud thunder cracks that would shudder all around. It was quite impressive. This went on for a few hours until the storm front moved through. It was all clear when we got up, which was a relief considering the big drive we had today.

2013 Vacation Day 12: Wednesday...relaxing and exploring

Serious chillin' this morning, as it is one of the few mornings where the plan is actually no plan. Worked a little on the blog, a nice shower to freshen up, then we headed into Bar Harbour.

2013 Vacation Day 11: Tuesday...taking a shortcut

Up and out early to catch the ferry. We stayed hitched up last night, which greatly reduces the time to get going. Gassed up before reaching the terminal, and even though we arrived an hour early as requested, there were already a huge number of vehicles lined up waiting to load.

2013 Vacation Day 10: Monday...cross country tour

Today we made our way to Digby, as the plan is to get close to Digby so that Tuesday morning we can make an early trip to the ferry to St John, which leaves at 8:00am, but starts to load vehicles at 7:00am. Our day's route was to drive the secondary roads to Mahone Bay, then Lunenberg and across the centre of the province to the Fundy Bay side.

2013 vacation Day 9: Sunday...a family BBQ

In the morning headed into local town Tantallon to pick up a few items for the BBQ. We took the shore road and the views were much better than a few days ago when the bay was socked in with fog.

2013 Vacation Day 8: Saturday...a blissful St Margaret's Bay day

Over to Don & Lynn's new home, which is right on the bay. Great views of the water, and they have a big dock extending out over the water. They had a lovely lunch for us on their deck, then we headed out in their boat for a tour of the bay.

2013 Vacation Day 7: Friday...and then there were millions

Today we headed to the Annapolis valley, around Windsor to be specific, to visit another of Dale's aunts, Bernice and her family. Dale's cousin Brian was there when we arrived and offered to drive us around all the area to visit all her cousins.

2013 Vacation Day 6: Thursday

Poked around in the morning, then went for a shower. Although older and a little tired, the comfort station was clean and fully functional. Went to Upper Tantallon to visit Joan & Gordie, who are Dale's aunt and uncle. Also visited Lynn & Murray, Lynn is Dale's cousin. Nice visit, they have beautiful new homes on tranquil wooded properties and to our surprise they had a lovely lunch prepared, with freshly made homemade bread. Then we headed into Halifax to see Betty & Bubby, Dale's other aunt and uncle in their new place, a lot of family have moved since we were last down.  

Headed back to the camp site, as Dale's cousin Don and his wife Lynn were coming for dinner. Dale saw Don and Lynn a couple of years ago, but I have not seen Don for over 20 years, a long time, but we picked up right where we left off. Had a great visit and lots of laughs. 

2013 Vacation Day 5: Wednesday...welcome to Sardinia.

Packed up and on the road around 10:00. Not our normal early start, but we have settled into vacation mindset and have been poking along somewhat. Nice drive down to Nova Scotia, as it will be mostly 4 lane all the way, but not the crazy 401 type of drive. Very scenic, as the highway winds up and over the country side, offering some great vistas.

2013 Vacation Day 4: Tuesday

Headed downtown this morning to wander around a bit. Very old historic centre of town, and it is interesting to see the older architecture. In the afternoon we went over to Dale's Aunt & Uncle for another visit. Don and I headed back downtown to the City Market to pick up some fish for dinner. I also wanted to get some of the amazing smoked salmon they also sell. We had some of this last time we were here and it is possibly the best I've ever had. They have a dry version as well as a more moist, slightly oily type. The flavour from the oily version is very intense. I bought a bunch of it to take home, I have a pasta recipe that it would be perfect in. We then headed for a bit of a road tour, out around an area called Red Head. This is past the huge Irving refinery, a massive complex capable of producing 300,000 barrels of fuel a day. It is quite the complex.  The road we traveled follows the shoreline, and over the years, the sea has eroded the shoreline so much that it some places the houses have fallen into the water, or had to be torn down a their demise by erosion was imminent.

Dinner consisted of the haddock fish cakes we purchased at the market, as well as baked beans and fried eggs. A classic Maritime meal, and very tasty. Back at the site, it has gotten cooler in the evenings, but no rain has happened, which they have been calling for all week. Tomorrow we head to our next site at Hubbards Beach in Nova Scotia.   

2013 Vacation Day 3: Monday

Relaxed in the morning, read the paper, then a nice shower at the comfort station. This is a well maintained campsite, most likely because it is part of a large municipal park, and certainly a showcase of what a park can be in the heart of a city. There was a beehive of activity first thing this morning, lots of workers getting things sorted after a busy weekend. The showers and washrooms are spotless, as is the whole park.

Drove out to Dale's cousin Heather's cottage, on the St John river. Part of the drive is an interesting cable ferry across the river. Large ferries that use a cable that runs from shore to shore, to drag themselves back and forth. An interesting concept for short distances like this one. Makes for a relatively peaceful trip, as there is no drone of big diesels humming below deck. Nice afternoon chatting while overlooking the water.

2013 Vacation Day 2: Sunday

Up and out relatively early. We first headed to...you guessed it, a Walmart. Dale has a difficult time with the bench seating foam firmness in the Alto, which at night converts to the bed. Her back generally aches in the morning. We purchased a good memory foam topper for the bed at home, and this solved the problem there, but the Alto presents a whole other issue on how to make the bed more comfy.

2013 Trip 5: Vacation: Maritimes, July 2013

Day 1: Saturday

On the road a little after 6:30am, which is actually pretty good. Heading down East for 2 weeks. We headed to Sherbrooke QC, then crossed into Maine at Woburn.

2013 Trip 4: Pissin down rain...but who cares?

Rollins Pond NY - June 2013

Off to what could be our favorite park. Two State Parks, side by each on separate lakes, nestled deep in the Adirondacks. What could be not to like?

2013 Trip 3: Serious chillin'

Murphy's Point P.P. - June 2013

On the road right after work. Short drive, about the same distance as Silver Lake, except you head south at Perth. Lots of campers this weekend and there was a line up at the registration booth.

An Update on the Furnace

After using the furnace as few times in cold weather, we soon realized that its output was barely enough to warm the Alto, let alone get it to a cozy level. There is more volume of space to heat than a Westfalia, perhaps just a little too much more. Fortunately Propex does make a larger model, with an output of 9800BTU, which is almost half as much more than the model we have. We contacted the dealer and were able to come to a fair arrangement to swap for the larger version. In hindsight, this should have been our first choice, but I suspect I was concerned with the fitting the larger version into such a small place. Turns out those concerns were mute, it fits just fine. Modified the holes through the floor a bit, and this allowed the furnace to sit correctly, as the stainless steel tubes are a little larger. Other than that, all my previous work was reusable.

2013 Trip 2: Firefly light show...

Silver Lake PP - June 2013

Headed out after work, traffic was light and moving well. We made a quick stop and Dale popped into Home Despot to look for an outdoor mat for the boys to lay on when they are outside. Out she came with a nice one, and on sale to boot.

2013 Trip 1 - And then there were four...

Cedar Cove Resort, White Lake - May 2013

First trip of the season, opening the cottage as we like to call it. Two new travellers with us on this trip, our furry little buddies, Taffy and Barley.