Browsing "Itineraries"
Nov 5, 2012 -

Not Begrudging a Rude Awakening

When the phone rang at 8:30 this morning, I knew it had to be the shop calling to let me know my base plate is in. It is! They wanted to install it on Thursday.

I called the Ready Brake folks (they’re great!) to confirm that my tow bar was shipped on the first as promised. It was, it has cleared customs no man’s land, is in Buffalo, and will be here Wednesday!

So if family stuff hadn’t been going on this weekend, I could have gone ahead and done the installation Thursday and left Friday. But I do want to make these two last family dinners, so I called the shop back and asked to move the appointment to Monday first thing. The best they could do is first thing Tuesday, which is fine, two days ahead of the previously set date, and a couple of days before the no street parking because of winter ordinance comes into effect. It’s also not a moment too soon as the weather has turned and the nights here are COLD!

So if all that goes smoothly, I’m pulling out on Wednesday the 14th, just under six months since my arrival!

I found both a dump station and propane right on the way to the shop, so I’ll go take care of those matters on Tuesday before going to pick up the truck and get the final adjustments made with the rig on site. As for gas, I’m only putting in enough to get across the border!

So, I have to be ready to pull out by mid-day Tuesday. I’ll park on the street Tuesday night and pull out Wednesday morning, probably a little later than I would have liked to let some of the morning traffic pass.

The border crossing will help me set my destination for Wednesday night. If I breeze through, then I might make a huge push and get to Pennsylvania. But I will more likely just go to Saratoga, even though that’s barely any distance, just to lessen the stress of driving my new rig for the first time.

I am concerned about potential hurricane devastation along my route, but a check of the roads indicates a clear path, even on the New York Thruway. As long as the weather holds, I should be fine. Thankfully, I’ll have a nice big buffer of time in case my plans get waylaid.

My biggest regret about this summer is that I didn’t get to go to Toronto. I would have liked to have gone east, too, but that was really a dream. At least, I got to see my family and friends from Toronto, so there’s that. No sense looking back. I am now looking ahead to that magical beloved moment when I cross the Mason-Dixon line and, just like that, spring will return to my world. It’ll be my fourth time and I bet it won’t get old any time soon!

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Canada, Itineraries, Preparations for Departure, Quebec, Technical, Towing and Toad, Travel, Weather    5 Comments
May 17, 2012 -

Cutting It Close

I got a 7GB internet package for this month and I’m at just over 6.9GB this morning! I’m pretty sure that I will be over by a few MB. I’m shutting down the computer shortly and will be calling Verizon to turn off the data plan before I cross the border.

Speaking of the border, I hate border crossing day. 🙂 The rig really isn’t in very good shape right now, not at all the way I like to have it in preparation for an inspection, but I can’t help the chaos in here. I tidied up as best as I can and am crossing my fingers that the crossing back to Canada will be as easy as was the crossing into the US. I’m going through a major border point (Lacolle/Champlain).

I was surprised by how much I have to declare; $450. That’s $200 in clothes, $200 for a new computer battery, and $50 in assorted sundries for the rig. I’m still well below the limit and only have 12 beers on board, so I should be fine provided I don’t get accused of braying.

I hoping to arrive at my mother’s between 4 and 6. The big question marks today will be propane, dumping, and the border. The drive will be fine, except maybe the bit around Candiac depending on whether they’re still working on the 30. I should have asked my mother about that.

Google Maps says 15 to 30 to 112 to get to my mother’s, which is a terrible route since 112 would take me through St. Hubert and tons of traffic lights and slow speeds. Instead, I will take the 10 and then the back roads for a much easier/smoother trip. Anyway, once I get back on the road after doing the propane and dumping, the GPS is only going to serve to give me an ETA!

I’ll check back in tonight once I’m squared away. I’m also going to share some pics of where I’m parked this morning. I’ve been getting really lucky with my overnighting spots!

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Canada, Itineraries, Law and Government, Passport, Quebec, Travel    1 Comment
May 15, 2012 -

Petersburg VA to St Clair PA

Miranda was packed by 8:00 this morning. I handed the key to the lady in the office in case the mechanic was ready to work on her before I got back from returning the rental car. I got to Enterprise at about 8:20 at the same time as the guy who was going to drive me back to WS Campbell. Everything was fine with the rental and the insurance is picking up the full tab! I got back to the shop at 8:30 and Miranda was still outside. I took back the key and got her into the garage then went to the office to settle up the bill.

My adjuster at Aviva continues to impress me. She told me that the axle repairs alone would be $5,600. Um, no. That was for everything. The axle repairs came in at just under $3,000, so with the towing bill the invoice was $3202 and change, which was actually less than they would have thought because they didn’t need to replace all the parts they thought they needed to replace. I signed off on the repairs and faxed the invoice and credit card receipt to Aviva.

There was a truck blocking the pull-thru exit of the garage, so I had to back out. I always take it as a compliment when I am left to my own devices to do such manoeuvring. 🙂 It was an easy out, though, as I had a big empty space to back into and get pointed in the correct direction.

Before we leave WS Campbell, here’s the view I had from my desk the last two weeks:

It’s 5KM to the I-95/South Crater Road junction and there is a Shell just before the turnoff. It would have been a bit tight with the toad, but it was easy access with just Miranda. I had a quarter tank of gas and I was staring at the cheapest fuel prices on this trip ($3.49/gallon), so I had the pump pre-authorized for $125 and that filled the tank to the brim.

Now, I’m going to give more detail about my route than I usually do because there has been some discussion about it in the comments.

Just a few miles north of where I got on I-95, at 9:20, I took I-295 to by-pass Richmond and got back on I-95 north of the city. I grinned as I passed Ashland, awed that the last time I took this route, I drove straight from there to Gatineau in a day!

Traffic got thicker and thicker the further north I drove. I was happy to exit to route 17N just past Fredericksburg. I knew that the next bit wasn’t going to be easy as I would have to drive through a shopping district with lots of traffic lights, but it was better than going through DC. I followed the signs for route 17N to I-66 west.

My GPS continues to make me wonder who programs routes for it. I was heading for a destination just off of I-81 and right up to the I-81/I-66 junction, it was adamant that I drive through downtown Washington to get there! Whomever comes up with a GPS that automatically routes around cities is going to get my business for life.

I’d been too nervous to have breakfast before leaving (but not so nervous that I didn’t take the time to have coffee!) and the knots in my stomach had gotten pretty tight along route 17. But I began to feel better when I hit I-66 and I planned a lunch stop just before I-81, where there is a Walmart and a bunch of restaurants, so it was pretty convenient in an RV. I think it would a been a bit tougher of a parking lot with the toad, but with Miranda alone it was fine. I went to Applebee’s, of course. 🙂

It was almost 1:30 when I was done with lunch and I had three more hours of driving to do. I was getting tired and starting to jump every time a vehicle passed me, causing Miranda to shift in the lane. Had I left a couple of hours later, I would have stopped for the night in Chambersburg, but that option was a Cracker Barrel and 3:00 was way too early to stop there. I decided that I could handle another couple of hours and made a point to stop at the two rest areas I passed.

The day’s calamity struck at the first one: I could not get my key into the lock for the house door! So I need to troubleshoot the deadbolt when I get to MTL. *sighs with tongue firmly in cheek* It is a huge hassle to get into the house from the cab. I can get the door unlocked from inside, but cannot relock it from outside.

It was going on 5:00 when I got to the exit for St. Clair. The Walmart is about 6 miles from I-81, further than I usually like to go from my route, but I was hoping to get a few things that were on my shopping list for this trip and which I held off getting until I knew how things would end up with the insurance claims.

The last bit of the driving day was brutal as the 6 miles turned out to be straight down a twisty 6% grade. I was really glad to find a scenic Walmart that was happy to have me overnight.

Today’s drive took me from Virginia, back to West Virginia, up through Maryland:

and into Pennsylvania:

At Walmart, I picked up a frozen pizza for dinner and a bunch of bags of shredded cheese in anticipation of returning to a country where cheese is a luxury (snark, snark). I also got a slow cooker! I’ve been wanting one for ages and did some online shopping looking at reviews for little ones. The Rival brand didn’t look like much on the shelf, but I’d read reviews that said they make decent appliances. So when I found a four-quart model for less than $10, I snapped it up! Right next to it was an adorable six-cup rice cooker for $13. My beloved rice cooker is much too big for my needs and sticks badly. I can store both my new appliances in the space the old rice cooker took.

The next part of the day wasn’t much fun and I was pretty cranky by the end of it. I had a bag of used cat litter by the front door waiting for me to find a garbage can and a certain black cat decided to do her claws on it! I spent what felt like ages sweeping the mess and then disinfecting the floor. But my day wasn’t over.

I’m out of propane on the on board tank and haven’t had any luck finding some today. My fridge and freezer are full, so I had to haul the auxiliary tank outside, find my pigtail, and get everything hooked up so I can keep the fridge on tonight. Someone needs to create a propane fill directory! The two places I found today only deal in bottles; they don’t fill truck/RV tanks.

For tomorrow, I’m listening to everyone who told me to avoid the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre uphill climb at all cost. So I’m taking I-80 to I-87 and am going to research the toll to see if I need to have cash (I’m completely out but there’s an ATM in the Walmart). The only remotely decent place to overnight between here and my mother’s is the casino in Saratoga Springs. From there, it’ll be about three hours, plus the border crossing, to arrive for lunchtimeish on Thursday.


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Boondocking/Dry camping, Finances, Insurance, Itineraries, Law and Government, Maintenance & Repair, Pennsylvania, Shopping, Technical, Travel, USA    9 Comments