Monday, November 18, 2013

We Have Settled In SouthWest Ontario

Sorry for taking so long to post. But honestly, I have been busy.
While away from the blog I managed to acquire my AZ drivers license. For those that do not speak Ontarian Drivers License talk, that is a Class 1 license. I am now legal to drive one of those 18-wheelers down the open road.
I got my license in late August, and landed a job soon after.  But, alas, the company turned into a family business filled with scoundrels. They didn't pay me for work performed. So, I am on the hunt once again for a paying gig. No more volunteer driving positions for me. Funny, I don't remember saying I was working for free when I started there.
Oh well, live and learn.
Let me know if you are looking for a driver. Preference is long haul. I love the open road!!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Still Lovin' It Down In Upper Canada

I know it's been a while since last I blogged, but I am busy.
What am I doing that makes me so busy? Well, maybe I will fill you in soon.
Ward and I have been spending much time in the town of Stratford and surrounding areas. Yesterday, we took a trip on the sportster to Port Huron, just over the bridge from Sarnia, in Michigan. The ride was quite nice, and the water in Lake Huron was amazingly blue.

Our trip back across the bridge was another story, though. It was mid-afternoon and the sun was blazing. We paid our toll and proceeded along the very slow left lane designated for car traffic, on our way to Canadian Customs. The lane moved at a snails pace. It took one and a half hours to cross the bridge before getting to Customs, and it wasn't even a long weekend. It was just a regular Thursday afternoon. Boy I miss the short line-ups at Pembina, ND.
But once we cleared customs, we were back on the road, with wind blowing in our helmeted hair. We checked the map, and selected a nice side road to venture back to London for the night.
We have been hanging out mostly in the county of Perth, home to such towns as Mitchell, St Marys, and Stratford. The area is quite lovely, with rolling hills, that remind you of Mother England. There are many farms with sheep, goats, horses, and yes llama. I have never seen so many llamas in a single area as I have seen here. And, as always, I never have my camera with me when I come across all these animals.
I will leave you with a few pictures I have taken in the past couple of weeks.
This is downtown St Marys, where every building seems to be made of stone.
Shaggy Llama at Mitchell
Swans in the River Thames in the town of Stratford
A farm in Perth County, but not showing those wonderful rolling hills that are so prevalent in the area.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Time Spent In Cambridge

Ward and I spent a couple of weeks in the town of Cambridge. We didn't do much tourist stuff while there, mostly driving around doing the customer service job to make some spare change. But I must say, driving to these various restaurants and businesses we sure got to see a fair bit of the area.

Cambridge is a fairly new town, coming together in the mid 70's when the small towns of Galt, Preston, and Hespeler were amalgamated. This has left three wonderful older downtowns for us to drive through and enjoy. Unfortunately, I rarely had my camera with me while discovering these quaint areas.

The town of Cambridge also abuts Kitchener and Waterloo and is referred to as the tri-cities. But Cambridge is our favorite of the three cities. It just seems smaller and more laid back, and holds much of the charm of times gone by.

Our stay in Cambridge has been mostly at the Walmart, visiting Churchill Park to fill up on water, and take care of removal of grey and black water. The park provides a free service for dumping of septic water, which we are much appreciative.

Here are a few pictures I did manage to take before leaving town and heading for Stratford. They are mostly of the Galt area in Cambridge.

A bridge over the Grand River in downtown Galt, the largest of the three towns that make up the City of Cambridge.

Water Street, the main street on the East side of the Grand River in downtown Galt.

A walkway along the Grand River in Galt, very popular for people walking along the river-walk on their lunch breaks.

Another picture of the walkway along the Grand River in downtown Galt with trees in bloom.

A road going through an older residential area of Galt, with stone fencing along the sides of the road.

An older building in downtown Galt showing stone construction.  There are several buildings in the downtown area with very primitive looking stone and mortar construction.
Here is one of the many traffic circles we came across, mostly in Kitchener and Waterloo. This particular one is on Fountain Street going from Cambridge into Kitchener.
This building has a tree growing up the side of it. I can't wait to see what it looks like later in the summer when leaves  and flowers appear.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Dirt And Water And Sun, Oh My

I miss my garden. I have never had a great garden that would sustain me through the winter, but I like fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, etc. And I like to have flowers blooming in the yard. Usually by mid February I start my plants indoors by the window and watch them sprout. It gets me through the last legs of winter.

Well, this spring I made the decision that I am going to try and have a vegetable garden on the back of the RV. The motorcycle is off the rack, leaving a large flat surface of about 3 feet by 8 feet just sitting there waiting for something to go onto it. So, while we were getting pelted with ice and hail, and cold weather, I went into Walmart and bought the beginnings of my new garden.

The seedlings are beginning to sprout now, with the peas in the lead, followed closely by my cucumber plants. The cherry tomatoes are starting to come up, but no sign of the roma tomatoes yet. I am expecting them in the next few days.

As far as the logistics of setting them out on the back deck, I do not have any finalized plans. But that will unfold as the weather warms and the plants grow big enough to earn the right to be out there.

On a slightly different topic, I have started to build a water purifier. Since being in Ontario we have caught on that they charge a lot more for water than in the USA. We actually got used to paying $0.25 per gallon for water down there, and come up to the great white north and are getting charged 0.93 for a gallon of water. After the initial shock of the cost, I started checking out water filtering systems that we might install in the RV. I wanted one that would be able to treat the potable water we get at campgrounds, parks, and gas stations along the way. It it potable but not necessarily something we want to drink. So I want something more than just a Brita pitcher that goes in the fridge. You can get fancy osmosis systems for $500 (too expensive) or less expensive filter systems. Some have single filters, others use a double filter system, and they range in cost from $30 to $200. I started looking more closely at the basic filter systems and they are really just tubes and containers to run water through the different replacement filters available. And being cheap, I thought I could make my own filter case, and just buy the replacement filter.

Here is what I came up with:

I picked up the best filter (as far as I can see) that filters to 1 micron, and seems to take everything out of the water that these filters can. It cost me $30. Then I wanted to make sure I understood how the filter worked, so I ran water through the top, to make sure it moves slow enough through the filter. The guy at the hardware store said that was the key, the water should not be moving through the system too fast or it is not being properly filtered.

The first test worked, but I had to be very careful to not overfill the filter using the funnel. Next, I had to develop a way of pouring water into the top of the filter without having the unfiltered water pouring out the top of the filter. I had a hose adapter I picked up for a different project and never used. It was perfect for connecting to a pop bottle (using teflon tape to get a good seal), and screwing into the plastic on the top of the filter. The filter had no thread on it, so I created the thread while turning the hose adapter down into the top. It worked perfectly with just a slight leak. I need to put silicone around the edges and that should seal it up tight.

My next modification to this system is to pick up a patio pitcher with a water spout at the bottom of it. You know, like the ones people get for a lemonade stand. Then I simply have to pop the filter into the pitcher, run water through the top, and collect my clean water from the bottom spout. And I should be able to do that for free anytime I want drinkable water.

My new water filtration system has not been used yet though. I was thinking of getting the water tested, before and after, at some local company. After that, I would know for sure if the system is really working the way I think it is.

So, what do you think? Is it cabin fever or am I preparing for the apocalypse? Maybe I shouldn't tell you about the schematics I have for building my own solar panels. Oh, and my solar oven plans.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Is It Spring? Or What!

I know, it's nothing like the weather back home in Winnipeg. You have been getting snowed on non-stop this winter. And when it melts, sandbag season begins. But we are in an RV, and the outside temperatures affect us in a fairly immediate way, with our lack of insulation between us and the elements.

We entered Canada in Windsor, Ontario. It is two states down from Manitoba, and we figured it had to be warmer than Winnipeg. So, here we are, in Upper Canada. I know, the southern most part of Canada is called Upper Canada, what were they thinking when they named that! Anyway, we thought the weather would be nicer here. The website showed normal temperatures for April would be 50s F during the day, going down to freezing at night. That would be fine for a month, until temperatures warmed up. But that is not what we got, at least not every day. We did have a couple of nice days these past two weeks. But not every day. A lot of our time has been spent under blankets reading, watching tv, and surfing the internet.

Then came the past few days. The weather people started talking about freezing rain, and the possibility of snow. How bad could it be, really. We were in the quaint little town of Woodstock when we got that news, on our way to Kitchener. We had something to take care of in the small town of Drumbo overnight, so we stopped at the rest area / truck stop for the night there. That was when the ice storm hit.

Our RV got covered, head to foot, in ice. There were icicles hanging off every edge available. And the wind was howling. They said the winds would get up to 60 km. Well, after being in Corpus Christi a few months ago with 63 mph wind gusts, that would be a piece of cake. It didn't scare us. We simply parked into the wind and tucked in beside some of the semi trucks that lined the truck stop parking lot.

The next day was more of the same; more wind, more rain, and more ice. So Drumbo was were we spent another day. Then finally today temperatures warmed up to around 5 degrees celcius, and the ice began sliding off the RV.

We drove in to Kitchener, taking the more scenic roads cross country. The fields were beautiful, with hoarfrost covering everything. The signs along the side of the road all had 2-3 inches of icicles dripping off them as well. But the roads were wet and free of ice.

When we pulled into Kitchener some of the trees still had ice coating them, but by late afternoon that was a thing of the past.

We turned on the evening news, and found out we got away pretty lucky. The town of Waterloo, just down the road from us, seemed to get hit a little harder with the ice. Several trees had suffered from the heavy ice, loosing branches everywhere. Power was out in several areas as well, due to the ice build up on the power lines. I don't know how we manage to drive around these weather issues, but I am just glad we did.

We are finding Canada to be a bit of a strange country, and are having trouble adapting to it's strange ways. I still have to watch myself with the kilometers and not miles per hour for speed limit signs, and it doesn't help that the RV speedo is in miles. We are also getting lost a lot in these towns. I find road signs are not marked as well as they are in the States. The business route I was following in Chatham stopped advertising it's route number and the street changed it's name 4 times in 4 blocks downtown, as it turned corners (no exageration on that). In London, the street I was looking for had a different street name on google than it did in real life. And county roads have their county names on them. I was looking for Oxford Rd in one small town, googled it, and found two different roads called Oxford. It took me a while to figure out it was because Oxford was the name of the county, so every road was called Oxford Rd, along with the county road number. And when you follow a road that has an actual name, you have to watch out, because it changes it's name if it leaves the county. Google doesn't show the road numbers that correspond with the county road numbers, and the roads may or may not display the route or name you are looking for. So, now when I google directions somewhere, I make really good notes, and watch for all signs I can find. We are not getting lost as much now as when we first got here. What a strange country this Canada land is.

Oh, and we are having difficulty finding RV sewage dumps. I know it it's a gross topic, but the RV needs this service every week or so. The last dump we found was at the Flying J in London. But that was a week ago. The next closest Flying J is in Mississauga, and we are not going there. We could dump at a campground, but they are not open yet. And we could dump at the park in Cambridge, but it isn't open yet either. So far, Ontario is not very user friendly. I am sure I will come up with a solution to this latest issue we seem to find ourselves with.

But tomorrow will be nicer, going up to 9 degrees celcius, with 18 degrees on Monday.

Guess what, the bike is coming off the rack!!! And Ward could not be happier. I think tourist Rae is going to show up again as well. We'll be touring Kitchener in no time.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Welcome To Canada, Eh!

Well, we did it. We're in Canada now. After a final hour on the interstate going through Toledo, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan, I saw the sign for the route to Canada.

I drove us across the Ambassador Bridge, paid a hefty toll, and got us through customs, landing us in Windsor, Ontario.

As we were driving along the interstate today, Ward and I were recallling the 6 months we just spent in the States. Ward said his two best memories were Sunday Pickers Night in Luckenbach, and camping on the beach at Corpus Christi. I had to agree. Those were the best of times. In turning it into a top ten, here is my list:

1. Sunday pickers night in Luckenbach

2. camping on the beach at Corpus Christi

3. slowing down and relaxing in hill country around Menard and Junction

4. spending time with fellow travellors around Corpus Christi

5. meeting so many interesting characters throughout the jouney

6. getting to ride the motorcycle all winter

7. bird watching and seeing the whooping cranes at Goose Island State Park

8. history tour through Mississippi

9. tasting new foods in Louisiana, especially boudan

10. visiting the Texas state parks, especially riding the motorcycle through Palo Duro Canyon, swimming at Balmorhea, and climbing Enchanted Rock

Now to start a new chapter in the adventure, summer 2013 in Canada. It's back to work for me, starting my customer service gig in Ontario. And Ward is itching to get the motorcycle off the rack and back on the road after seeing so many Ontario motorcycles riding by today.

Our adventure up north is off to a good start already with temperatures going up to 12 degrees Celcius today (for all you Americans, that's about 54 degrees - double it and add 30). I must say I am having a bit of trouble myself with transitioning into the metric system. My first experience with it was a speed limit sign saying '60' as I entered Windsor. I started to accelerate when Ward pointed out that it was kilometers. Oops. I may have been speeding.

Gotta go, eh!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Springing Into Winter

After spending our first winter down south we are making our way back to Canada. We have already had our first snowfall while in Leitchfield, Kentucky. The nights go down below freezing and some days are not much better.

As we pick up the pace to make it back to Canada, we are travelling along the interstate. Our preference has always been to take the back roads and enjoy the slower pace and small town views. But we are on a mission and just want to get through this snow belt between Kentucky and Ontario. So, interstate it is.

I managed to make it through Cincinnati travelling on I-75. The highway is four lanes across and full of traffic. But as you make your way over the Ohio River, the interstate narrows, and I swear the lanes narrowed themselves. The road curved as it went under other freeways above. It felt like going through a tunnel. A very fast moving tunnel. But the road soon widened out again, expanding back to four lanes, but never slowed it's pace. It is not the slow, relaxing drive that I am used to.

We drove through Cincinnati and stopped at the Walmart in Dayton, right along the highway. My Rand McNally Road Atlas said the Walmart was at exit 60, so I passed by exit 59 excitedly awaiting the next exit a mile down the road. Well, it never happened. But there was an exit at mile 61, so I took it, even though it said it was headed west to the airport or east to Columbus. I went west. It was another freeway, not an exit to the Walmart. No problem, I will take the first exit up the road and go back south. Well that didn't happen. The next exit was another highway going to the airport. Geez. I went a couple miles down the road to find another highway. Ok, I took it and went east. Are you lost yet? I was pretty sure I was. But I ended up back on the original interstate I-75 and headed back south to take exit 59. I was never so happy to pull into the Walmart parking lot as I was last night. That was a bit hair raising. Oh, and check out the piles of snow we found in the parking lot.

Along with the piles of snow in the parking lots in Dayton, we found our migratory friends, the Canada Geese. I guess we are not the only ones feeling it is time to head north.

This morning we headed north again, and soon found snow lying in the fields. The area is definitely colder than it had been the day before. The snowy fields and colder temperatures did not stay for long, probably only 10-20 miles. By the time we got outside Bowling Green, Ohio there was no snow to be seen.

Tomorrow we head for Detroit and on to Windsor. I must say I am not looking forward to the drive through another large eastern city on the interstate, but it can't be helped. I'll have a look at the maps before heading out, so I will know what to expect. And I'll be prepared for any and all toll roads that Detroit throws at me. But most of all, tomorrow this time we will be in Canada. Then we can start our next 6 month journey in our own country.