2016 Trip 11: boys weekend

Trip 11: Bonnechere P.P. - Sept 2016

Headed out at noon, wanting to get a bit of a head start on my "boys weekend". Now before your mind conjures up images of beer cans, hot dogs and bonfires, it will be pretty tame as there are only two of us, and for the record, the other guy has four legs! Yup, Barley and I are spending some quality time together this weekend.

Naturally, there is a story behind our little adventure. Every year, Dale and a bunch of her girlfriends rent one of the cottages that are available at Bonnechere, for a weekend of kayaking and whatever other outdoorsy stuff they get up to. As Dale is not really a big fan of driving the Santa Fe, her girlfriend Nancy usually does the driving. This year though, Nancy and her husband bought a couple of kayaks, so she is taking her own car up, kayaks on the roof. All the other girls have kayaks as well, so Dale was in a bit of a pickle.

I had an idea to solve Dale's dilemma, bounced it off Barley, and we then offered that we would get our own site on the river loop side of the park, Alto in tow, kayaks on the roof. Problem solved. Dale gets the kayaks where they need to be, and Barley and I get another weekend in the Alto. A win win idea.

Our site is further along the river loop, as our favourite site was probably long booked. Not surprising given our plan was pretty last minute. I was able to get one on the water, and it was a nice looking site. Dropped off the kayaks a short time later, unloaded the rest of Dale's gear, then back to our site. Checked the weather forecast, and although it will be sunny tomorrow, the low tonight is predicted to be 36F. Now that's chilly. Looks like the furnace will get a bit of a workout. Casual meal of brats on the Q, a few chips, and a cold beverage. No real sunset, so Barley and I headed in early.

Anticipating the overnight chill, out came the duvet, as well as the wool blanket. We also pull all the curtains, somehow thinking this may cut down any drafts that might sneak in. Given how the Alto is constructed, there is no insulation in the traditional sense, just whatever R value that may be achieved by the honeycomb structure of the aluminum panels. In a nutshell, it can definitely get cool quickly, so it is important to ensure you have a few means of keeping warm. As we are off grid most of the time now, this means a good down duvet, a nice wool blanket, and of course, utilize the furnace as necessary. This combo generally does the trick.

And cold it was, although our thermometer said it only made it down to 38F. Cranked up the furnace in the morning to get rid of any leftover chill, and it was soon quite comfortable. Not a cloud in the sky in the morning, and the sun burned off the dampness pretty quick. Coffee got things going, then I made myself up a nice egg and bacon on an english muffin.

good breakfast...set for the day

I had made myself up a little list of odds & sods that I wanted to do around the Alto, nothing major, so I poked away at those most of the morning.

I apply seal conditioner to pretty much anything rubber that is on the Alto, and this was on the list to do. I like to get some on the seal that travels along the inside wall as the roof raises, but it is the darn-dest job to apply it well. It is time for an application when the seals start to squeak as the roof goes up. The conditioner really helps reduce this friction. Thinking there must be a better method to apply the conditioner, I wandered the aisles of my local Home Hardware, and came upon this little gizmo.

Originally intended to clean venetian blinds, it has three microfibre covered flat fingers, which would be ideal for getting between the wall and the seal. Wanting to use only one at a time, I hacksawed off their connecting point. I sprayed the cloth with conditioner, and gave it a try. Perfect! It slid along quite nicely, as you do need to be very careful not to damage the rubber seal. I find it challenging to apply and it is always best to err on the side of caution when dealing with trailer parts you just cannot run out and replace. Worked like a charm.

Dale and her gang paddled by the site on their way up the river to the rapids. They stopped to say hello, then went on their way down the river.  It was great to see all seven of them chatting and laughing as they paddled along.

I finished up most of my list, then Barley and I lounged around for most of the afternoon. He really enjoys sitting in his chair by the door, quite content. That is until a gust of wind starts up, when he quickly makes his way back inside. He will sit at the edge of the doorway until things settle down again, then he jumps right back in the chair. I think he has his routine all figured out.

It warmed up enough to become a nice afternoon, sitting in the sun and working through a bunch of pages in my book was a nice treat. Barley signalled the approach of dinner time, so it was time to slice up the mushrooms and onions, which, once sauted, would cover the rib steak I was having for dinner.

Put on some tunes, cracked a beer, then fired up the Q.  The steak was quite tasty, and certainly hit the spot. As the sun got lower in the sky, so followed the temperature. Another cold one this evening, but we are ready. In bed pretty early, as once it starts to cool off, under the duvet is the best place to be.  We decided it was cold enough to leave the furnace on overnight.

Woke up early, and there is a heavy fog over the water, hiding most of the outside world, but the rising sun soon made everything visible again.
It was damn chilly outside, a hoodie and vest were certainly required while making coffee on the Coleman this morning. On the next site over, there is a couple in a tent...they must have been cold and damp last night. Thankfully, we have done our time in a tent, and now enjoy the comforts that the Alto brings us.

Slowly worked on packing up while I waited for Dale to call to have me pick up the kayaks. Around 11:00 I headed over to load up the kayaks. Most of the girls have already left, and we were not far behind. So the weekend worked out just fine. Dale had a great time with her girlfriends, while Barley and I enjoyed ourselves just hanging out.


  1. Great "think out side the box manner" to condition the inner gaskets of the roof mechanism:).

    Have you considered adding thermal lining to the black roof-line curtains? I'm thinking if you're handy with a sewing machine it'd make an easy DIY project. Depending on the sturdiness of the curtain track mechanism you might be able to add another curtain layer of polished or chintz cotton for a finished look that matches the interior and increased insulation.

    1. It seems you have been peeking at my mods list. Insulating curtains have been thought about for a while now, as we figured that if it seemed warmer when the curtains are drawn, what if there was a bit more R factor applied. We tossed around the idea of adding a layer of insulating material to the existing curtains, but we are concerned with how much bulk this would add to them As well, given the infrequency of use, we are now leaning towards making a set of insulated panels that would velcro to the upper window frames, and line the entire sleeping area walls. When not in use, they would be folded up and stored. We are convinced some sort of insulating curtain will help keep the chill out, and the warmth in. The next step is sorting out the details and pulling out the sewing machine. Once that happens, there will definitely be a blog post about it!