Browsing "Itineraries"
Jun 19, 2008 -


While I don’t want to make myself a set itinerary for my cross-country trip, I am researching my various route options for a couple of legs, namely that from Gatineau to Winnipeg and Calgary to the British Columbia interior. I’m mostly focusing on the former right now and just gathering information to be reviewed in Saskatchewan (!) for the latter.

Until today, I thought I was getting to Winnipeg the way I came back from there in 2005, on the 17 via North Bay, Sudbury, the Sault, Thunder Bay, and Kenora. I didn’t think that the more northern route through Kapuskasing was a viable alternative. Then, I began to read several trip blogs and forum posts describing the 11, a more northern route, as being superior to the 17 for RVers because it’s less mountainous (better gas mileage, less wear and tear on the brakes) and that it’s the exact same mileage. I liked the idea of taking a new route for part of the trip to Winnipeg and adding more towns and sights to my ‘been there!’ list.

So, I pulled out my trusty Michelin road atlas and looked at the 11 more closely. Suddenly, a third route opened up. I called up Google maps to test a theory. A nice feature of Google maps is that you can chart routes of your own choice by specifying that you want to from a to z by way of c and y. By altering my search parameters, I figured out the mileage between Gatineau and Winnipeg by each of the three routes. The 11 and 17 routes are indeed exactly the same mileage. My route adds only 30 kilometres more.

Therefore, unless further research makes me feel this plan is ill advised at the time of year during which I’m leaving, I plan to get to Winnipeg by way of l’Abitibi-Temiscamingue, with Vérendrye Park for my first night. This is my favourite place to camp and it would be lovely to say goodbye to it. Then, off to Val D’Or, a city I’ve been meaning to visit ever since I came to this region. After, Rouyn-Noranda, Kirkland Lake, Iroquois Falls, Kapuskasing, Hearst, and on past Geraldton and Rocky Bay to rejoin the 17 at Nipigon. From there, it’d be two short days to Winnipeg. If I plan on averaging 5 hours of driving per day at an average of 90km per hour, I’d be in Winnipeg in 5 to 7 days.

Originally, I planned to leave on September 15th. But I had a talk with my supervisor about this and she strongly suggested that I leave at the end of a pay period, so either September 3rd or 17th. The 17th is too late for me. We agreed on the 3rd, but didn’t sign papers because she had a few more questions for me to ask HR. Papers should be signed tomorrow. Then it’ll really be official. I’m so scared to let go of that steady pay cheque, but I know I need to do this.

Obviously, if I’m done with work on the 3rd, there’s no way I’ll hang out here for two weeks before taking off. 🙂

Next on my list of things to do is ask my landlord if he’d be willing to advertise my house as being free for September 1st. I’ve already given him notice that I’m not renewing my lease, and I’m hoping to not have to pay rent for September. I have a feeling he’ll be open to discussion on this matter.

So much to do and arrange and plan and research, but how good it feels to be so free.

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Finances, Itineraries, Preparations for Departure, Travel, Work    No Comments
May 31, 2008 -

Bus Plans

Well, June has come. Or, rather, by Monday June will have come. June was my deadline for moving to Manitoba in a ‘traditional’ way; ie. packing up my stuff, finding a place there, taking on a steady job, etc.

I haven’t heard back about the job I interviewed for and I now realise that I don’t want the position at this time! As time crept on, I began to wonder what more amazing plans the gods have in store for me, and they finally became clear this week.

After much prodding, I managed to speak with someone in human resources at work about taking a leave of absence. The terms are amazing–my current position is guaranteed for a year, I can keep paying into my pension and health benefits, and I can take on any number of short term assignments with other employers and without losing my sabbatical privileges.

This helped me formulate an amazing plan for the next year, or, rather, cemented the loose plan I’ve been working on. I’m having difficulty committing to it without having in hand the rejection letter from the job in Winnipeg, but I’m still taking baby steps.

What’s this plan, you wonder?

Well, it sure doesn’t involved freezing my tookus off in Winnipeg next winter.

I’m going back with my original plan of buying a bus conversion motorhome by the fall. I’ll then take two or three weeks and drive to British Columbia with it. BC has the mildest climate in Canada, with some areas having very easy winters. Lots of RV parks are open year round. I’m thinking of making Kelowna my very final destination, after spending perhaps a couple of weeks each in Victoria and Vancouver, but that’ll depend on part two of the plan.

Part two hinges on making successful contact with a placement agency willing to help me find short term assignments (up to 3 weeks, ideally) so that I can have money coming in throughout my sabbatical.

I’d like to stay in BC for four months, October to the end of February, and stay in a few different places if I can get sufficient work. Then, I’d like to spend March and April in Alberta and Saskatchewan doing the same thing. I might stay in Alberta longer since there are so many jobs there, even for unskilled labour. Then, I’d do something I’ve wanted to do since I was three apples high–spend several months touring the Territories.

Come fall of ’09, I’d have the option of going to Winnipeg to settle down with a real job, a house, etc. and be a grown up, or, if the whole traveling and working thing is working out for me, I could keep traveling for another four years.

The idea of taking a year off is so appealing…. Ideally, I’d like to find a balance between assignments and/or part-time jobs and working on developing my web business. Taking a year to breathe, to see new things, to do new things, to get out of this rut I keep spinning myself into…. Oh, yes, what an amazing year it could end up being.

I’ve already got a bus in mind. It’s a lot older than what I thought I’d end up considering, same age as me, in fact. It’s a 1979, but a Blue Bird Wanderlodge, which is considered to be the cream of the crop. Even a Bird that old is worth getting. The one I’m eyeing seems to be in good shape, even though the only slightly updated 1970’s decor is making me flashback to my mobile house (yellow sink, tub, and toilet; ‘wood’ laminate’, plastic door handles, etc.). I’ve gotten some advice from other Wanderlodge owners and the consensus is that it’s priced way too high, but if I can get the price down to NADA levels, then I would be making a solid investment in a good, sound bus with an excellent reputation, lots of available parts, lots of support from other owners, etc. For a first time owner who is short on time and doesn’t want to import from the US, I probably could not do better than this bus.

It’s a 35’er; shorter than what I’d been looking at (40′), but when I consider that I’d be hauling my car, too, it’s a more reasonable length. Even though I’d want to update the interior (PAINT), replace the dinette and couches with furniture I would actually use, add solar panels and more heaters, etc. I could end up with a really good bus under 20K, provided the current owner is willing to see that his price is not realistic.

What sold me on the Wanderlodges is the cockpit; filled with tons of dials and gauges enabling the owner to monitor all systems as they work, rather than waiting for a light to tell them there’s a problem that is probably beyond an easy fix. I also like that the Wanderlodges were built in the Blue Bird factory on an assembly line, so their systems are all the same. If I got a bus that was converted privately, chances are no one could help me muddle through any problems I’d have. The 1970’s decor would be a small trade off.

I’m tempted to recontact the owner and tell him that I’m interested, but that NADA values are X and seeing his response.

Before I do, that, though, I really should investigate the following things:

-how much it’ll cost me to import this bus into Quebec and plate it;
-how much the insurance would be (for the bus, liability, contents, etc. since this would be my full-time home at some point);
-if there are any ‘seasonal’ spots left at any of the local campgrounds or if a storage facility would let me take the bus out on weekends to go to campgrounds (the latter would probably be cheaper)

And that’s not counting getting the towing accessories, any mechanical fixes that need to be done immediately, etc.

I’m already working on finding someone who could do a cursory mechanical inspection for me before I drive 20 hours round trip to view the bus in person.

Financing? One call to the bank and a couple of signatures later and that’s already been taken care of. It was my first step to committing to this plan. 🙂

I’ll let the owner sweat a few more days as I continue to research this bus.

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Buying Miranda, Itineraries, Personal, Technical, Travel, Why I Do This    No Comments