Browsing "USA"
Jan 2, 2009 -


In my (albeited limited) world view, Vancouver is the Los Angeles of Canada, the dark, nasty, don’t get off at the wrong exit or risk a violent death, city, the Gotham of Tim Burton or Chris Nolan. I’m not that timid. I’ve survived Chicago’s South Side, New York’s Washington Park at midnight, Ottawa’s Market after dark, riding the Montreal métro with skinheads, playing chicken with Hells Angels in Gatineau, getting lost in downtown Baltimore, even wandering around the bad parts of Calgary (Calgary has bad parts?). Hell, I’ve even survived a trip to Los Angeles… and that’s what’s not helping the Vancouver situation!

Surprised? 😀

Like with Los Angeles, I know there is a lot to see and do in Vancouver, but, like with Los Angeles, getting around is the issue. In LA, I was advised to not walk around, drive unless I knew where I was going, or take public transportation. I think this left taxis? I wound up driving straight to my hotel on Sunset Boulevard and walking between it and the famous Hollywood sites like the Kodak theatre (even though I’d been advised to not even walk those twenty or so blocks). After less than a day there, I was so exhausted from being on my guard all the time that I just left without going beyond Hollywood (nasty place) when I would have enjoyed doing a studio tour or even just visiting the Griffith Observatory. Looking back, I realise that I would have needed a native guide.

Same thing with Vancouver, it seems, and especially Surrey! Surrey gets a very bad rap; you wouldn’t believe the number of people who told me not to go to Surrey and to especially not be out in Surrey after dark! Last night, I did go out, taking two main streets to go to Walmart and back. Tonight, I’d like to go to a movie, but I have no idea which theatre is in an okay part of town. I’ll need to speak with the very friendly camphost here and ask her what her recommendations are.

Also like in Los Angeles, traffic is absolutely terrible here, maybe even worse than Toronto, but, of course, not nearly as bad as Montreal (because no place in the US or Canada has traffic worse than Montreal).

So, I’m here and really excited and happy to be here but shocked to discover that here is just as scary as I expected it to be!

At least, the RV park is a lovely, non-threatening, bubble. 😀

My first order of the day for tomorrow, then, is to have a chat with the camphost, descarify myself, and come up with one activity for each of  Saturday and Sunday that will get me comfortable with this city!

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Alberta, British Columbia, California, Campgrounds, Canada, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Ontario, Personal, Quebec, Scary Stuff, Travel, USA    8 Comments
Jan 2, 2009 -

Adventures In No Man’s Land

Here is the daytime view at my new park. Yes, I need to wash my windows. The roads were sandy yesterday! 🙂

daytime view at PB

Walking down Zero Avenue, I was treated to this sight:

Spelling Fail

Spelling Fail


Then this little guy stopped his wanderings long enough to pose for a couple of shots!



Notice the water of salty persuasion in the background… 🙂

Getting closer to the water:


Zero Avenue ends at Peace Arch Park, a sort of no man’s land that straddles the 49th parallel, existing between the American and Canadian customs. I don’t know if Americans can do this, but I was able to take a stroll down Zero Avenue in Surrey right into the park without requiring any sort of identification. I was told I could walk to White Rock through the park, but I couldn’t find a legitimate way to get out of there other than the way I came in or actually going through Canadian customs, so I didn’t pursue the issue and will ask for further clarification.

A not-so-excellent adventure on a US military base in California taught me to be very careful about taking pictures anywhere near US government installations (no, I did NOT try to take pictures of a military base!), so I was very cautious about taking out the camera at the park. I did sneak a couple of pics:

I'm in the United States!

I'm in the United States!

Otherside of the monument... and I'm in Canada!

Other side of the monument... and I'm in Canada!

More ocean, a lineup to get into the US, and a glimpse of Peace Arch Park

More ocean, a lineup to get into the US, and a glimpse of Peace Arch Park


The Peach Arch

Coming home, I passed a couple out for a stroll:

Mr. and Mrs. Mallard out enjoying the weather

Mr. and Mrs. Mallard out enjoying the weather

When I checked the forecast last night, they were calling for rain today and the rest of the week, but it’s been sunny so far. What a reprieve!

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British Columbia, Campgrounds, Canada, Travel, USA, Washingon, Weather    No Comments
Dec 11, 2008 -

Frugal Shunpiker Guides

Have you ever heard of ‘shunpiking’? I hadn’t until I read Marianne Edwards three books about frugal boondocking and shunpiking through the southern US, appropriately called RV Travel Guides: The Frugal Shunpikers Guides To America. They will show you how to winter cheaply in the U.S. in your RV.


I was very impressed by all four of these books, one each for New Mexico, Arizona,  Texas, and Utah. They detail suggested routes for touring these states, complete with boondocking spots along the way.

Of particular interest to Canadians is that fact that Marianne is a Canadian! I’ve heard great things about how cheap it is to boondock in New Mexico, but her book on the state is the only resource I’ve found that explains in detail how a Canadian can benefit from the New Mexico parks policy.

Complete with a comprehensive table of contents and index, maps, and pictures, these e-books are very professionally designed. My favourite part is the ‘tips’ sidebars.

The books will also appeal to campers (ie. tenters) as Marianne offers plenty of information for them, too.

In addition to boondocking information, she also offers suggestions for what to see and how to get there. In short, all four books about frugal shunpiking through the southern US are comprehensive tomes on how to get to the state and tour the state frugally while making sure that you see what needs to be seen.

Even though Marianne writes from years of experience on the subject, she still doesn’t purport herself to be an expert on the subject, but rather makes it clear that the books are based on her family’s experience. They therefore make good travelogues also, even if they are not written in that style.

As a bonus, if you buy all four books at once you get a fifth bonus book, Basic Boondocking: A Frugal Shunpiker’s Guide!


Marianne and her husband travel in a small class B camper van, so different from my spacious class C. I still found a lot of the information to be relevant to me. Ontario boondockers and snowbirds will benefit from reading the section about OHIP coverage. Two pictures in this book will sell you on the concept of boondocking and alone are worth getting this book. One shows the view when boondocking in the southern US, while the other shows the view when staying in a campground.

The holiday season will soon be upon us and I believe that RV Travel Guides: The Frugal Shunpikers Guides To America would make a fantastic gift for the RVer in your life or even the armchair traveler.

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Boondocking/Dry camping, Nice Folks, Personal, Recommendations, Social, Travel, USA    7 Comments