A Travellerspoint blog

Canada

June 5, 6, 7 and part of 8 - Algonquin to Chutes Prov Park

Black tank flush, black flies, Lake of Two Rivers campground assessment, better driving conditions.

sunny 20 °C

R-pod Sightings: 1 older model white one in Sudbury, and a 2016 green model 179 at Chutes Provincial Park.

June 5:

After completing our last blog entry we spend an hour and a half in the Visitor Centre displays, which show the history and ecology of Algonquin Park. There is a 15 minute movie which fills in more of the history. A very interesting park. Algonquin is ideally suited for backpackers and canoe enthusiasts. Many longish hiking trails, up to 88 kilometers and lots of river and lake paddling adventures are available here.

There are several good campgrounds and they are packed in the summer. Bugs are really a problem this time of year though, and with the cold, wet weather we were inundated with black flies. Jenny seems to tolerate them well, but I do not. Hopefully my immunity will build with exposure, but until then, I am suffering a bit.

Later in the afternoon the clouds parted ever so briefly and we managed to get in an hour long walk along the Spruce Bog boardwark, about 1.5 kilometers, with many interpretive signs. Like bogs everywhere it has bog flowers and insect eating plants. The first picture is of a Labrador Tea and the second is, an unnamed, but pretty bog flower:

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We returned to the R-pod to read. Outdoor opportunities would have been nice, but the weather, and the bugs were unpleasant enough to keep us indoors the rest of the day., We like reading so that filled the time.

We did make the acquaintance of fellow travellers, Dave and Diane, from Napanee and exchanged information to keep in touch as we travel. It is always great to meet others on the same sort of road we follow.

June 6:

We woke to the sound of a new day of rain. This was to be our last day at Lake of Two Rivers and we were hoping for a good solid 6-8 kilometer hike to walk off the travel days with little activity, but it was not to be. After a leisurely breakfast of bacon and eggs, which was cooked outdoors on our Coleman stove (it was cold enough to suppress the black flies) we headed off on a search for moose. We did see two, but they were far enough away that we could not get a picture.

We decided to head back into Huntsville, to gas up and look for something to seal our fresh water tank we would be able to use it on our next stop. Surely this time we found what we needed to close off the tank:

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As we left the park for the drive to Huntsville the rain stopped. As we returned the rain began again, but not before we were able to get in a 2 kilometer hike to Ragged Falls.

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We finished the day with a meal of corned beef hash and had a beer with Dave and Diane before beginning to close down our camp for departure.

It is now time for our Campground Review: Lake of Two Rivers, Algonquin Park

$54 a night including taxes. Called a premium site by Ontario Parks, even though it only has electricity on each site:

240 wooded, large sites with firepits. Firewood available for $8 a bundle. Beach on Lake of Two Rivers. Lots of canoe adventurers there on the weekend.

Centralized sewer dump is 3 kilometers to the east.

Washrooms and showers: Adequate, good water pressure on showers. We imagine the washrooms would be plugged with people in summer rush as they are not large, but with an almost empty park they were OK

Annoyingly, the staff closed the washrooms for cleaning between 8 and 9am, which seems like peak usage times to us.

Overall Impression: A good stop in a massive Provincial Park, but it is buggy in the early spring. Make a reservation if you want to stay here July/August.

June 7:

This sunrise was a sunny but cold one. That helped keep the bug activity down while we got the trailer hooked up and ready to depart. By the time we headed for the sewer dump it was warm enough to require a bug hat to complete the dump:

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Even with the bug hat I got over 30 black fly bites in just 15-20 minutes. Itchy this morning.

Our drive to Chutes Provincial Park was about 5 hours. We managed to solve our poor mileage by upgrading to premium gas. The Honda Pilot seems to like the higher octane and rewarded us with about a 20% improvement in mileage, for around 19l/100 k to 15.5l/100 k. The car also did not have to work as hard climbing hills.

On the way through Sudbury we got a photo of TaJ with the Big Nickel, the symbol of Sudbury's great huge nickel mine.

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Chutes is a place we have been to before, but we forgot one quirk of this place...the electricity plugs are in awkward spots, and many people use as much as 100 feet of wire to connect. We only have 30 feet with us so we had to wiggle into an awkward place in our site to allow us to reach the outlet. All worked out in the end.

We also got to fill our onboard water tank and so now, for the first time we have hot and cold running water in TaJ. Yay, and the system works great. We are at Chutes for three nights, giving us two full days of glorious sunshine to get out and do some hiking and walking.

As this is written it is June 8 and we are using the internet facilities of the Massey Library. Really nice small library.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 08:03 Archived in Canada Tagged r-pods mileaage water_tank siunshine Comments (1)

Ottawa to Algonquin Park

Flat tire, setting up camp for the first time, something is missing on the R-pod, rain, and more rain

rain 12 °C

June 3: Getting ready to camp.

We finished our visit to Starbucks and headed over to the Loblaw store to stiock up for 4 planned days of camping at Lake of Two Rivers campground in Algonquin Park. The drive there was about 3 hours and check in time was 2:00pm, so we figured we would mosey along and arrive right on time. We left the Walmart parking lot, stocked with food for 4 days and headed in the direction of Algonquin. Our GPS tends to focus on expressway travel and wanted us to head up to the 417, so we changed the route and headed along smaller county roads.

All went well until we were an hour in. We ran over something on the road, never did see it but we heard it as it ripped out of the passenger side rear tire and we had our first flat of this trip. We were on a good stretch of road to pull off and either wait for CAA to come change it, or do it ourselves.

We decided on option 2, and removed everything from the back the Honda to get at the jack and the spare tire. As you are aware from previous posts, we travel with a full sized spare so we don't have to tow with the donut tire that Honda provides as a spare. The tire change went relatively well, and a passer-by stopped to see if we needed help and directed us to a gas station in the next town that could fix the tire.

Jenny took a picture of the process and the end result. This is the first tire I have changed at the side of the road in 50 years:

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We stopped in the next town, Pakeham, Ontario where we had the tire repaired and put back on the Honda. We lost almost two hours on first changing the tire along the road as well as getting the tire fixed right away, but felt good about getting by this with just a short delay and no damage to either the Honda or the R-pod (TaJ).

We arrived at the campground at 4:30pm, a couple of hours later than planned. We set up camp.

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We set about filling our on-board water tank. We were really looking forward to testing our the pump and water heater TaJ. We poured in the first 2 gallons and it promptly poured right back out the bottom of the tank. Somewhere along the road, the cover for the water tank drain had fallen off, and of course we did not have a replacement.

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The campground looks nice, the showers are decent and there is laundry facilities as well. Our first night was dry but the forecast is for rain, and a pretty good amount of it. We'll do a review of it when we leave on Wednesday, June 7

June 4:

We drove 80 kilometers into Huntsville, in the hopes of finding a stopper for our water tank. Of course, with it being Sunday the only R/V place in town was closed and we had no luck finding what we needed at Home Depot or Canadian Tire. We did see two moose on the way back to the campground in the afternoon.

We returned to steady rain so we settled in to get some chores done. Jenny spent a couple of hours organizing where things will ride in Taj for this long journey of ours. We sometimes wonder if we have way more stuff than we need. I got our laundry up to date.

We had wine, cheese, crackers and pate for supper while we watched the 1983 classic "The Big Chill" on DVD. Great movie and we drifted off to sleep quite early to the sound of the rain on the roof.

June 5:

As this blog entry is written, it continues to rain, although there is a promise for tomorrow. The only internet in the entire park is a the Visitor Centre, so we have wiled away a couple of hours here, going through their extensive exhibits on the history of Algonquin and caught up with family on e-mail.

This afternoon we shall go looking for moose. There are many here and they like to hang out along the gravel roads leading to more remote sites in the park. Perhaps there will be pictures of them for the next blog entry.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 07:51 Archived in Canada Comments (3)

The escape from Nova Scotia

Rough Patch of Road, Gas Mileage, Walmart Parking Lots. Good times ahead

sunny 7 °C

Location: Walmart, Kanata, Ontario

Total Distance traveled: 1,545 kilometers

Day One: Home to Edmundston, NB 729 kilometers

We left at our planned departure time of 8:00am for day one of a two day drive to Ottawa, Ontario. The first part was to take us to Moncton, NB, about 325 k from home. We planned to stop at a Cabela's Outdoor Store there to look for hiking pants for me. That part of the trip went really well. We arrived right at Noon and took a two hour break to have a walk and buy some clothes.

New Brunswick has the neatest Moose warning signs:

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Part two of the drive was something else. Instead of taking the Trans-Canada onward to Edmundston, we went north towards Miramichi, with the plan to take Highway 108 east to Plaster Rock and then on to our final destination for the day. Well, two things happened: first, it began to rain, in some cases Noah get your Ark rain, and highway 108 turned out to the be the worst paved stretch of highway we have been on since we went to Labrador a few years ago. Potholes, tire killing potholes, hidden in the downpour that accompanied most of our 90 minutes on this highway.

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In a few spots we were down to 40 kph and slaloming all over the place to find solid pavement. Luckily we did not damage the R-pod's tires, and made it through safely to Plaster Rock, where we got the first picture of TaJ and a roadside attraction, the giant fiddlehead:

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There we 12 R/V's in the Walmart parking lot in Edmundston, which gives a good indication of how many people pass through here on a daily basis. A good stop, the Walmart closes at 9:00pm, and other than a bit of noise from the Trans Canada Highway it was a good night's rest.

Day two: Edmunston to Ottawa, Ontario

Distance traveled: 816 k

We got out early for the long drive to Ottawa. The first 150 k is very hilly and the Honda Pilot tow vehicle (Sully) did fight this portion pretty hard. Our gas mileage plummeted, from 16/100 k (14 miles per US gal) to 21l/100 k (11 mpg). Yikes, what was going on here. We went through a full tank of gas in just over 300 kilometers. As Jenny drove a leg I read the owner's manual and decided at that point to upgrade to mid-level gas at the next fill-up.

That sure worked. Gas mileage immediately improved, up to about 15l/100 k (15.6 mpg) and the car stopped working as hard as it had been when the road rose a bit in front of us. I guess towing might require a little more octane. Lesson learned and we will now run on mid-grade gas, and probably premium when we hit the mountains in the west.

Given that we live in lightly populated Nova Scotia, we saw more cars in that one day drive through Montreal and on to Ottawa than we have seen in most of the last year. Both Jenny and I lived in big cities back in our working days and navigating them is not an issue for us. We arrived in Ottawa at 6:00pm and settled in to the Walmart Parking lot in Kanata, a suburb just to the west of the main city. The shopping complex in large and just about anything you might want within walking distance.

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As this blog entry is written I am sitting in a Starbucks. When I worked in downtown Vancouver I never made coffee at home, I simply walked to a Starbucks. I walked past 5 of them on the 1 kilometer walk to my office. In Nova Scotia, unless you live in Halifax, there are no Starbucks.

So, this is luxury for me. Jenny is out in TaJ, reading and cleaning up. She'll join me soon and we'll have one more cup before we get ready for our first camping experience, at Algonquin Park, about 250 k west of here. We will shop for food supplies here and then head on to arrive mid afternoon at Lake of Two Rivers Campground.

We'll be there for 4 nights, and will have electricity and water, but no sewer hookup. So, we will test all the systems, including emptying the black and grey water tanks for the first time. So far, the R-pod has lived up to our expectations, it works well on battery and propane on our overnight stops, and tows well. It took everything that shitty Highway 108 in New Brunswick could dish out, and that is all we can ask for.

Onward!!

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 04:24 Archived in Canada Tagged walmart mileage Comments (1)

And away we go!

Loading up the R-pod, and the Honda Pilot Tow Vehicle, the epic fail of the easy up screen tent, last day never seems long enough

rain 14 °C

The last day never, ever seems long enough. As this blog entry is written it is going on 9:00pm and we still have a bit of stuff to finish before we go to bed. We will depart at 8:00am June 1. We have a long day ahead of us, with 750 kilometers of travel planned.

But we are getting there.

Loading for departure:

We've been loading the R-pod over the past few days. Jenny built shelves out of chain and shelving for our little closet:

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We filled them with clothing:

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They work really well, holding all of our pants, t-shirts, sweaters. Our socks/underwear and in tubs and stored over the slide out:

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We've got our shoes and boots stored in the bottom of the corner cabinet under the propane cooktop. Pantries are filled with food basics. We use lots of plastic jars to hold dry goods:

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Every space now has something in it. We love our morning coffee and we have a single tub dedicated to this purpose. Everything we need to make our morning coffee in one place. We will boil water on the propane stove at our Walmart stops for the next two days and can easily get this done without having to tear everything apart to find the essentials of what gets our day started.

Tow Vehicle Loading:

It took three attempts to get it right, but in the end it looks pretty good; The empty space:

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This space is filled with our back up clothes (for cold weather) tucked away in a bin out of the way. We can get to it if we need to, but otherwise don't have to move it at all.

A full size spare tire for the tow vehicle.

An essential tool bin...everything we may need for basic and not so basic repairs. There is a list of the contents in the trailer if we need to find something we can just check the list. There are three rolls of duct tape in there just in case nothing else works, but hammers, screw drivers, ratchets and so on. We can fix what needs to be fixed. We have two emergency tubes of silicone just in case there is a leak.

A camp set-up bin: This bin has things we will use at every camp stop, like our clothesline and pins, table cloth, axe, hatchet, tarp, bungee cords and tent pegs and guy ropes. This bin is right there ready to be pulled out every time we set up a camp.

We have three milk crates with all the stuff we need to level and secure our trailer when we camp. Our battery operated drill will set the scissor jacks in a flash, and all of our leveling material is in another crate.

Camp chairs, a three step ladder, our solar panel and our camp outdoor carpet complete the load in the tow vehicle.

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Screen Tent Epic Fail:

We purchased a screen tent, for $275 from Canadian Tire. It was a Woods 10' x 12' easy up screen house. We will be travelling in bug season in Canada and a screen tent was considered to be a necessity.

Ours was not particularly easy up, nor did it last through its first erection. A seam split, making the thing useless. We returned it for a full refund, and will look a lot harder for the next version. We might be buying one before we get to our first camping experience in Algonquin Park, where the bugs can be fearsome, especially at this time of year.

If you are American, and plan to visit Canada, you simply must go to a Canadian Tire Store. They are everywhere in this country, and sell virtually everything you could need or want. Most have vehicle service centers. Check them out...reliable, reasonably priced, and usually pretty good.

Summary:

We are ready to go, the first day is always the one you have been waiting for. We started planning this trip 9 months ago, bought the tow vehicle, bought the R-pod and it seemed like this day would never get here.

So, here we go. Look for Sully (our tow vehicle) and the TaJ-ma-Haul coming down the highway towards you. Flash your lights, R-podders. Let's go see the world.

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Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 16:38 Archived in Canada Tagged packing Comments (0)

Upgrades and Warranty Work

Electric Jack, Goodyear Endurance Tires, anti-sway, Warranty work on the water system, preparations

rain 12 °C

After our test weekend at the Ovens Nature Park it was back to Jerry's R/V in New Minas, Nova Scotia to get the water system looked at under warranty. We also had a common problem...the trim along our slide out had popped off when we opened it because the cushion was in the wrong position. A lesson learned...we will be watching that in the future.

I had already made an appointment for May 17 for Jerry's to add anti-sway.

Warranty Work:

The tech hooked the trailer up to the water system and we quickly discovered that there was indeed a leak under the bathroom. He blanched at the thought of having to rip the thing apart to find it. In order to find out where the leak was he used a camera on a flexible hose and ran it under the bathroom. Luckily, the leak was not in the water lines, rather the connection to the trap under the little bathroom sink was loose and that was allowing the water to run down the inside bathroom wall and come out onto the floor close to the bed in the front of the 179. It was a fairly quick repair and we both breathed a sigh of relief.

The other water problem was the weak flow from the kitchen sink tap. It turns out the water line had a substantial amount of wood chips and sawdust from construction and once the filter on the tap was cleared that problem was solved.

It was also an easy fix to re-attach the trim along the slideout.

Upgrades:

We added anti-sway to the hitch. We are going to be on the road for 6 months and the trailer did have a slight sway when we towed over to the Ovens, so it was an easy decision to make in the interests of safety and comfort. The cost, which would have been $175 installed, was covered by Jerry's. Nice people

We also added an electric Jack. After hand cranking the trailer it seemed like it might be a good idea. Total cost, installed was $265.

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Tires:

We are heading out for a monster trip, and part of that trip will be on less than perfect roads in Wood Buffalo National Park, in Canada's Northwest Territories, and a month on the roads of the Yukon and Alaska. Although the factory supplied load range 'C' tires seem just fine, in the interests of safety and security on the road, we upgraded to Goodyear Endurance load range 'D' tires. They have much stronger sidewalls and should last the entire trip.

We were also somewhat worried about the life of the factory installed tires. We expect to tow the R-pod for about 21,000 kilometers on our journey and thought we might have to replace them somewhere on the road, or risk a blowout as they wore. We have seen pictures of the damage a blowout could do to these trailers.

We will keep the factory tires stored at home and use them in future years when we travel much closer to home. Total cost, installed, and filled with nitrogen, was $450.

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Preparations:

The small closet in TaJ did not work for us, as we carry almost no clothes that require hanging. So Jenny devised a shelf system made out of chain and metal shelving cut to fit. It looks pretty darn good and makes much better use of the space for us.

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She also used the image from an old T-shirt of mine to make a pillow for our bed. Kinda cool:

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As this blog entry is written we are just 5 days away from departure and are working on getting ready to get on the road. All winter long we have listed the things we need to take with us and estimated weights so we would have an idea of how to load everything.

The distribution of the weight is very important and it must be balanced side to side as well as front to back. We estimate we will be carrying almost 1000 pounds of stuff, so about 600 pounds will go in the tow vehicle and 400 in the trailer. When fully loaded our rig will weigh about 8,000 pounds, with 4,800 pounds in the tow vehicle and 3,200 in the R-pod.

We weighed the trailer and tow vehicle at the scale at the local garbage dump to get our base weight of 7,000 pounds. Over the next few days we will get everything loaded, and probably re-loaded until we are satisfied, or until we run out of time.

The next blog entry, on May 31, will cover the rest of our preparations to depart. Following that, we will update the blog at least twice a week.

Our first two days on the road will be to tow from our home in Nova Scotia to Ottawa, Ontario, a distance of about 1500 kilometers. We will make two overnight stops in Walmart parking lots, one in Edmunston, New Brunswick, and the second in Neapean, Ontario. There is a site online that lists which Walmarts welcome overnight stays. Our first camping adventure will be in Algonquin Park, in Ontario, where we are booked for 4 nights, beginning June 3

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 04:29 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

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