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Sep 8, 2008 -

Electricity Learning Curve

I’m about 100km east of Thunder Bay and treating myself to a night on full hookups with access to wi-fi and a laundromat. Ah, civilization.

I’ve been boondocking since I left Ottawa on Thursday morning and, let me tell you, that has been full of brutal lessons that left me feeling quite disheartened on Saturday evening, but which were learned well enough to allow for a 180 degree mood shift by the following evening.

The most important of these lessons is: MIRANDA’S BATTERY SENSORS CAN’T BE TRUSTED. The sensors claimed right up to Saturday evening (and beyond) that the battery was operating at full operating capacity. When I finally realised that this wasn’t the case, the battery had reached such a low level that I couldn’t even get the generator going. Saturday evening, I had no lights worth mentioning, no hot water, no refrigerator, nothing. It was very cold and damp in the rig and I was miserable. I went to bed really early, got on the road even earlier the next day, go the battery topped up with the driving, and spent the evening boondocking with the generator running, giving me lights, hot water, a refrigerator, HEAT, and the ability to watch a movie. Lesson learned. If you’re not driving that day, run the generator at least an hour.

The second lesson in electricity is that my inverter is my best friend (even though I called it horrible names on Saturday, poor thing!). It lets me know when battery power is too low to run it. If that’s the case, the generator gets run ASAP.

The third lesson in electricity is that I really hate running the generator. It’s very noisy. But it’s not a gas guzzler and it means I get all the comforts of home. I’ll get used to it.

Saturday night, as I laid there in my bunk, snug and warm thanks to flannel PJs and a feather duvet, I listened to a song on my iPod which really put things into perspective for me. It’s called ‘Painting Pictures of Egypt’ and this is the bit that stuck out:

The place I was wasn’t perfect, but I had found a way to live
And it wasn’t milk or honey, but then neither is this.

Yeah, I’d rather be in a well-insulated bus with a million solar panels and a satellite dish for getting online, but, at least, I’m not working 8 to 4 at a desk and going home to the ghetto. This isn’t a vacation or a dream. It’s reality. And reality isn’t perfect. But it sure can be great.

The next post will show that I still had my sense of humour come Sunday!

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Boondocking/Dry camping, Campgrounds, Canada, Electricity, Ontario, Personal, Technical, Travel, Why I Do This    11 Comments
Sep 5, 2008 -

On the Road

For a change of pace (*g*) more photos, less bla bla bla.

Miranda at the Ottawa Municipal Campground

Miranda at the Ottawa Municipal Campground

We left this site at the Ottawa Municipal campground mid-morning on Thursday September 4th. Right on ‘schedule.’ I gassed up (oh, the cost of freedom these days) and without much fanfare made my way through most of the places I’ve called home for eight of these past ten years. Highway 105 north was the hardest as the string of familiar hamlets passed behind me, to be seen again, perhaps, in a very distant future: Alcove, Farrelton, Kazabazua, Low, Blue Sea, Gracefield… Maniwaki was a non-event, but the town has changed since I was there last, perhaps four years ago.

The drive was difficult because of construction, but the weather made up for that.

Finally, we reached the first major milestone of this first leg of my journey:

Grand-Remous, Quebec

Grand-Remous, Quebec

Loosely translated, turning right meant civilization and turning left meant heading into a northern frontier of mining towns, granite cliffs, and forests of black spruce.

I turned left.

When I reached the southern access point of Verendrye Park I was glad to almost be done driving for the day. It was getting close to mid-afternoon and my 250km done that morning had worn me down. So, I selected to stay at Lac Roland, 40km from the entrance and right on the 117. Cost for the night was the same as when I tent, 15$ and change, since I didn’t want hookups.

Then came the taking of a calculated risk that will have a lot of people saying “YOU IDIOT!”, but I repeat that it was calculated, and it paid off big time.

I drove all the way to the end of Lac Roland campground, right to a dead end, with no way out except backing up about a half kilometre. Or doing what I did. I unhooked the toad, and moved it onto a site, then I manoeuvred Miranda into that site, too. That took some precise driving, but I’m actually more comfortable operating her in reverse than I am the toad. The square shape makes it very easy to know exactly where I am and what I’m doing.

Lac Roland, Vérendrye Park, Quebec

Lac Roland, Vérendrye Park, Quebec

Why did I do such a seemingly foolish thing?

The view outside my study, of course:

View from study at Lac Roland

View from study at Lac Roland

If I had played it ‘safe’ I would have taken the first pull through I found where all the RVers gathered last night and partied hard, instead of being quietly ensconced in a private site with a great view.

And I wouldn’t have had the chance to gain so much confidence about my Miranda driving abilities. Driving out of there was actually tougher than backing in!

Next order of business was dinner. Mmm, charred bird!

BBQed chicken that tasted better than it looked

BBQed chicken that tasted better than it looked

(It was very tasty!)

This wonderful device was very useful for doing a preliminary cleanup on the greasy BBQ tools:

Outdoor Shower

Outdoor Shower

I then set up the computer and settled in to watch a couple of eps of a favourite show since it was way too early to sleep, but I was too tired to do anything useful.

Went to bed ridiculously early last night, so was up ludicrously early this morning. It was pouring rain and damp inside, so I decided not to hang around. Next stop: L’Abitibi.

Route 117, Quebec

Route 117, Quebec

Which is where I am now, parked outside the Canadian Tire in Val D’Or making full use of a free wi-fi signal I’m picking up. I have errands to run and am debating whether to leave the coach here and set off in toad, or to go off coach and all. There are so many RVs here that I suspect I’ll be able to get away with spending the night here. I hope so. The other place I have lined up is 25$ per night and that doesn’t include hookups!

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Boondocking/Dry camping, Campgrounds, Canada, Cooking, Driving, Homemaking, Itineraries, Ontario, Outdoor Shower, Plumbing, Quebec, Technical, Travel    2 Comments
Sep 3, 2008 -

Trials and Tribulations

I don’t have any pictures to share at this time because my desktop computer isn’t set up and hooking up the camera to the laptop is too fussy for the short time frame I have. So, enjoy all the bla bla bla and come back later for pics. 🙂

Oh, I’ve written soooo much about the last almost week, but I need to save some material for a book! 🙂

Here are some highlights from the past six days.

Friday August 29, 2008

  • I successfully backed up into a busy street at rush hour as I couldn’t very well sleep at my mechanic’s. No one was injured during this impressive feat of driving. Thank you to David for stopping traffic!
  • After spending several hours loading STUFF into the coach, I took off for a sports arena a few blocks from the house to spend my first night as an urban boondocker. The cats took to the RV immediately and slept good nights. Mom was too exhausted to fuss and had a good night, too. The arena wound up being quiet and dark. I didn’t suffer for lack of 120V current and I really, really, really enjoyed being able to take a hot shower!

Saturday August 30, 2008

  • Up at six, worked non stop, got the house emptied and the RV stuffed by noon, right on schedule.
  • Was screwed over by Vidéotron one last time.
  • Arrived at the campground absolutely drained and overwhelmed.
  • Circled my loop, planned my entry into the site, came back, pulled straight into an empty site, and unhooked my toad, which is where:

Rae learns a very important lesson about towing

Watch where your feet are. The tow bars are heavy and purple toes are NOT a fashion statement.

Toes weren’t broken, so I ignored the throbbing pain down there and moved the toad out of the way. Moved the coach back, forward, and back again, getting it into the campsite in one shot. Eyewitness testimony states that I seemed to have been doing it my entire life. Which is where:

Rae discovers that backing up perfectly (in one try) into a campsite is actually not the most important consideration at that time

As it turned out, I had circled my loop and reentered another one. I was in the wrong site. But, in my defense, both sites had neighbours with a blue tent AND both sites were of the same shape as I’d been told to look for!

A very nice park official checked to see if the site would be available for the five nights I was staying. It was. I could stay.

The coach was stuffed to the gills, I was overwhelmed, and just about burst into tears when I saw how much work I had ahead of me. So, I said *expletive deleted* that and went out for a nice dinner during which I formulated a plan of attack.

I slept the sleep of the dead. Never mind that the mattress is really too thick and that I can barely roll over. I was on my own mattress with my feather duvet and pillows. The cats were by my side. I could hear crickets outside. The wind was whispering a lullaby. I was home.

Sunday August 31, 2008

I slept so late I was disoriented upon waking up. I mean, the day is half gone by the time 9:30 arrives!

I hadn’t been able to plug in my coach on Saturday since the prongs on my cord didn’t match the holes in the electrical post. So, I just dragged the coffee maker and toaster out onto the picnic table.

A few hours later, as order begins to emerge from the chaos that was the basement:

Rae finds something that no longer makes it necessary for her to run an extension cord from her electrical post to the coffee maker set on a picnic table.

She believes it’s a ‘cheater adapter.’ Possibly. Whatever it is called, it’s an adapter. She now has 15AMP service!

One of the most useful things I did on Sunday was label a tote TOWING and put in it all the odd bits that I use for towing.

I took the afternoon off to get organizational stuff at Wal-mart’s, then I head off to a friend’s for a Labour Day BBQ. Her mom gave me a hibachi she had lying around in the shed and I am now able to char my own barbecue sauced bird!

Monday September 1, 2008

I was spending the day with a friend so I woke up early and attacked the basement. I got it so well sorted and organized that it is no longer stuffed to the gills!

At some point during this day:

Rae has a real light bulb moment involving a too highly chlorinated fresh water holding tank

“Gee the water is caustic. I can’t wait to empty the tank and put in fresh water. Waitaminute. The tank is only a third full. Maybe I can use the new hose I bought yesterday at Wal-mart at a major discount and top up the tank with fresh, unchlorinated, water and dilute what’s left?”

Tuesday September 2, 2008

WORK! I finalised all my files and opened cases and packed since I knew Wednesday would be a wash.

A separate entry will follow about the evening.

Which brings us to today, Wednesday September 3, 2008

I did some real work, spent some time on line, shed copious tears, received and gave a ton of hugs, and left the way I’ve always dreamt of leaving a place, with a tug of regret.

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Boondocking/Dry camping, Campgrounds, Canada, Cats, Communications & Electronics, Driving, Electricity, Finances, Homemaking, Ontario, Organizing, Personal, Plumbing, Preparations for Departure, Quebec, Technical, Towing and Toad, Travel, Work    5 Comments