The Big U Turn - Part Twelve
The Big Circle Tour - Part Twelve
Monday, July 15th - Saturday, July 20th
On Monday, the 15th, it was time to leave Parks Sands RV Park. But before I could do that, I had a doctors appointment in Nanaimo that I just couldn't get out of. It was with the opthomologist for my glucoma. So we had prepared the Airstream as much as we could the night before for moving out the following morning. On the morning, I brought the four legs up and got the anti-sway bars and torsion bars out ready to hook up when we came back. Everything else was ready. We left at 0715 hours for an 0800 appointment in Nanaimo. We got to the appointment, everything was fine and we got back to the RV park around 0940. We hooked up and took off at 1005.
I had to get to the ferry terminal in Nanaimo harbor to catch the 1130 ferry for Horseshoe Bay in North Vancouver. To go to Tsswassen, you have to use the southern ferry terminal in Nanaimo at Duke Point. We got to the ferry by 1045 and the 1130 ferry actually left at 1210. Anyway, we were on our wasy east! We arrived in Horseshoe Bay around 1345 and we actually left ferry terminal at 1355. We picked up the Trans-Canada Highway 1 and made our way through Vancouver with no difficulty. Once through Vancouver, the traffic eased up somewhat and I got into my trailer driving mode. This is the first time either of us has travelled across BC and the Prairies to Ontario so we were looking forward to the trip. At the same time, I had to be at Gary Langilles place in Clayton Lake by Saturday afternoon at the latest.
We made good time, the road was flat with a divided highway all the way up to Hope. At Hope, we had to make a decision whether to take the Coquihalla Hwy 5 highway which is a toll road but goes directly up to Kamloops. It's much faster than taking the Hwy 1 Trans-Canada which is windy and hilly, but the hills are not too bad according to people I had talked to. But the Coquihalla has some very long 30 kilometer climbs that are faily steep. In the 8% range. After hearing this, we decided to opt for Hwy 1 and take the longer, but easier route.
Once we turned left at Hope, the road immediately went into a two laner and started to become more windy. We followed this road up to Cache Creek. The scenery was really beautiful. We were close to the Okanagan Valley, and we could see the mountain desert scenery that looked so similar to areas we had passed through in Southern California and Arizona. Even Southern Utah had some similarities as well. At one point, we were looking for a rest area and found the place where the last spike was driven in when they built the railroad west. I'm not exactly sure of the location, but I think it was just east of Cache Creek. We took the dogs for a walk and visited the little visitors center they have. I took a few pictures and we got some stuff out of the Airstream then saddled up and headed out of the parking lot. As I turned onto the highway, I heard a loud thud or bang. I couldn't see anything wrong, but when I straightened out on the highway, I looked back and saw that the trailer door was open. I fortunately found a place to pull off and I jumped out of the car to go back and see if there was any damage to the door. But I found that the keys were still in the lock! But the door closed ok; however, when I locked the door with the key, I found that the upper and lower parts of the door were both sticking out! What had happened? Well, when we got the stuff out of the Airstream and got back into the car, I forgot to lock the door. When I pulled away, the door swung open and banged against the Airstream and pushed the middle of the door in. After all, Airstreams are made out of aluminum just like an aircraft is. I can tell you I was not a happy camper! We had been travelling in this for almost a year with no damage. But when I start back to the dealer to drop it off for sale, this happens. But there was nothing I could do. The door was secure and we found out that it didn't let any rain in anyway.
We finally arrived in Kamloops around 2000 hours and started on highway 5 towards Jasper. We stopped for gas and asked the cashier where the Wal-Mart was in Kamloops. Well, it was back on the Hwy 1 way back up the hill we had just come down! So we headed back and found the Wal-Mart and set-up for the night. Which means, when you're in travel mode just doing overnight stops, not unhooking the van but just putting down the motorized jack to take the weight off the vans springs. Hand brake on and that's it. We had picked a spot next to a fifth-wheel from Texas. Just for added security. Wal-Marts in most provinces and states allow rvers to stop overnight. Just one night. Why not, a lot of rvers go into Wal-Mart as they sell rv stuff. I don't understand why Canadian Tire doesn't do that. American ingenuity? I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but when you buy the Canadian edition of the Rand McNaly road atlas book, it shows all the Wal-Marts in Canada. When you buy the US one in the States, it shows the US locations. So we had both books.
The next day, at 0815, Tuesday, the 16th, we headed off onto Hwy 1 highway once again. We had decided not to go via Jasper, but to plod on via the # 1. The road was quite good. Fairly flat with some windy sections. We made really good time and, passed through Salmon Arm where Paul Shannon retired too, but we didn't stop to say hello. No time. We continued on through Revelstoke and finally hit Rogers Pass. Some steep sections of 8 to 10% grades but we had no trouble getting up. A little further on we got to Kicking Horse Pass which also had grades of 8 to 10%, but again we had no trouble getting up. Once we got through the passes we started the slow downward passage from the Rockies. We passed by Golden which is just by the Kicking Horse Pass, then on by Canmore where by this time we were in Alberta. We arrived in Calgary around 1600 hours and took an around-about route to avoid the traffic using highways 8 then hwy 2 north where we finally hooked up with the Hwy 1 Trans-Canada once again.
Once we were back on Hwy 1, it was easy going. The rolling, almost flat landscape of the area between Calgary and Medicine Hat was a bit of a relief from the Rockies. By this time, the sun was going down and we had decided to stop in Medicine Hat at the local Wal-Mart. By this time, Val had one of her migrains and was just streched out in the seat trying to sleep it off. That's after an Imitrex pill and an injection! She gets them quite badly, but the Imitrex has been a godsend. It will clear up a migrain attack in a couple of hours whereas before, she would be laid up for over 24 hours. But by the time we got to Medicin Hat, she was starting to feel a lot better. We gassed up and got the directions to the local Wal-Mart after answering questions about" how do you pull that 34 footer with a little van like that". Which we were asked wherever we went. But we got to the Wal-Mart, set-up and bedded down for the night.
The next day, at 0800, Wednesday, the 17th, we headed back onto Hwy 1 and continued our eastward journey. I was hoping to get into Northern Ontario by days end. Little did I know how big this country is. I thought, well, it's flat and straight and I should be able to make good time. Well, we made very good time, but not good enough to get us to Northern Ontario. After travelling across the prairies, which I found rather interesting with all the little towns that we went through and the different types of crops that were grown from flax seed, sunflowers, wheat etc. As the sun started to descend, we realized how optomistic I had been with trying to get to Ontario that day. So we set our sights on getting to Winnipeg, which certainly seemed realistic. On the way, we stopped for dinner at a Ukranian restaurant which proved to be a big disappointment. We finally reached the Wal-Mart just off the intersection of the Trans-Canada and Highway 100 around 2030 hours. Mosquitoes!!! But not as bad as I had heard about on the radio with the recent huge influx of mosquitoes that Winnipeg has had. 40 bites a minute!! We settled in for the night.
The next day, at 0815, Thursday, the 18th, we picked up Hwy 100 south and took the southerly route around Winnipeg. Again the road was mostly divided and flat as it had been across the Prairies with some two lane sections of about 50 k or so. We got to the Ontario border 1000 hours. But we could tell we were getting close to Ontario as we started see less farm land and more trees. Once we hit the Ontario border, it was trees trees and more trees. Also, the road went down to two lanes from four and we would see another four lane continuous highway until we got near Ottawa. And we were now on Hwy 17. What can I say about Northern Ontario. Lots of trees, small little hamlets with a gas station and a general store. Gas was .81 cents a litre at one place where we gassed up. That was the most expensive gas on the whole trip. After that it was around .77 cents a litre. The further south we got, the cheaper the gas. We by-passed Kenora and Dryden before finally getting to Thunder Bay, civilization!!!! We continued on towards Nipigon which we reached around 1830. We decided to split off at Nipigon and take Hwy 11 which is still part of the Trans-Canada. We had to find a campground for the night as our grey tank was getting full and our fresh water tank was getting empty since we had been dry camping for the previous three nights. Of course, the # 11 is a slightly hilly and windy two-laner with nothing but trees trees trees. Have I mentioned trees before?? Well, we finally found a campground just before Geraldton. $23.00 for the night we full hookups but no cable. The cell phones don't work here, just like in many areas of the Rockies that we had passed through. As campgrounds go, this one wasn't that great, but it was a place to stay for the night and empty and refresh our tanks.
The next day, at 0800, Friday, the 19th, we continued eastwards on Hwy 11. The same tree covered expanse continued until we reached Hearst where we started to see some farms. The further east we progressed, the more farms we saw. We passed by Kapuskasing, Cochrane, Iroquois Falls, Timmins about 50 k down the road, Kirkland Lake, New Liskeard and finally reached North Bay sometime around 1530 or 1600 hours. Can't quite remember all these times, but they're a good approximation. We stopped briefly for Val to get some food at a supermarket and then continued on around the fringes of North Bay on Hwy 17. Some four lane road around these major towns in Northern Ontario, but we always get back onto two laners once we are out of the built up areas. Now we're passing through towns like Mattawa where the gas was .68 cents a litre. Once we left Mattawa, the gas prices went up again by a couple of cents. Go figure! The scenery along the 17 is quite pleasant as it follows the meandering Ottawa River eastwards. We finally reach the by-pass for Petawawa where I took my basic training way back in April of 1961 with the Canadian Guards. The Guards were disbanded and became the RCR's (Royal Canadian Regiment) as the Guards were only formed around 1952, which made them the youngest infantry regiment in the army when our friend Paul Hellyer decided to have integration. Well, in 1961, we had an army, today it's just a mere shadow of it's former self.
I digress. At Petawawa, it was dusk but we decided to continue on to Pembroke where there was another, you guessed it, Wal-Mart. When we got to Pembroke it was dark and we stopped in the parking lot of a Pizza Hut and went in for a Pizza. After our meal, we found the Wal-Mart on the east side of Pembroke and set up for the night. No other rvs around except us. But a nice new parking lot with a nice grass area where we could walk the dogs.
At 1015 on Saturday, the 20th, we set off for Gary Langille's place at Clayton Lake. Gary was having a bbq for ex-CM's and I had asked Gary if he could hold it on this day. Which he did. I had called Gary and Maureen earlier around 0815 to say we were leaving and expected to be there by around 1100, but Val wanted to go into Wal-Mart and get some "stuff". Therefore, we didn't leave until 1015. I called Maureen and Gary and told them we'll be there around 1300 hours. We actually arrived at Gary's at around 1300! Just before I arrived at Gary's, I called him and said you had better put a couple of people on the road outside your place so no one will hit me as I'm trying to back up into your driveway. When I arrived, Roly Lavoie was there with Gary to hold up any traffic. The road in front of Gary's in a dirt road and, a narrow dirt road with a small ditch on either side; so I didn't have a lot of room to turn into Gary's driveway. After a quick adjustment, I managed to get it into the driveway on the second attempt. Not bad considering the room there was available to me. But although a 34 foot Airstream would seem like a difficult trailer to park, it's actually very easy to backup. Since it has three axles, the slightest movement of the wheel causes it to move one way or the other. So it's easy to make adjustments while backing up. It's actully easier to backup than a fifth wheel trailer. In a fifth wheel, it takes a lot of steering wheel movement to make it turn.
For those of you who have never been to Gary's place, he lives on Clayton Lake a few k's outside of Almonte. He has a fairly large property that goes right down to the lake where he has a small jetty for his boat. He has a very nice two story log house that is not the round type of log but the logs have been shaved flat. He also has a garage with a 2nd floor full bedroom and bathroom with a living type room downstairs. Plus, Gary also has a small separate guest house. A really nice set-up. In attendance at the bbq were as already mentioned, Roly Lavoie, Merv Mcbride, George McKeever and wife Janice, Howie Abbott and his wife whose name escapes me (Ada), Dave Smith and wife Janice, Roly Mailloux came out in his red Spitfire and of course Gary and Maureen and Val and myself. I can't think of anyone else but if I've left someone out, my apologies. The old memory isn't what it used to be!
Everyone brought their own food, except us of course! I brought some BC beer back with me that I don't think you can get in Ontario. One of them was a hemp beer. I didn't like it, but the others beers were pretty good. BC has a flourishing wine and beer industry and they put out some pretty good beer and wine. It was great talking to everyone and it's too bad more people didn't show up, but it's the middle of the summer and everyone's pretty busy enjoying the good weather and taking trips to see family and friends. The bbq broke up later that evening and Val and I settled down into the rv. Gary had hooked me into his electricity and I had enough water in my tank for a shower the next morning and whatever else we needed water for.
Sunday, July 21st - Monday, July 29th
On Sunday, the 21st, we left Gary's around 1100 hours and headed for Hither Hills Campground just south of Ottawa on Highway 31 just before Greely. We arrived around 1215 and checked in and set-up. This is the same campground we had used the previous August after we had picked up the trailer and stopped off in Ottawa. So we knew the layout. This time however, we asked for a pull-through site in the rear of the campground as we had hit bottom getting out of the front area last August and we didn't want a repeat performance. But they had re-graded the slope down to the front area anyway so we probably would have been ok there just the same.
Over the next 10 days, we visited family and friends in the area, as well as going to Montreal on two different occasions to visit my mother who at 87 years of age who is getting rather infirm.
On Tuesday, the 23rd, I attended the AFFSC monthly meeting which was held at Grace O'Malley's pub on Merivale road. It was a great night. Pics will be attached, but those attending were George McKeever and Janice, Roger and Isabel Banville, Bob Alexander (on yet another one of his never ending trips!!!), Roly Mailloux, Howie Abbott and his wife whose name escapes me at this time (Ada), Eleanor Ryan (she who works harder now than when she actually worked!!!! And she worked hard then!!), John Kruithof and his wife whose name also escapes me (Kawsar) and Gary and Maureen Langille. A really good time was had by all, as the pics will indicate! While I was at this meeting, I found that all the pics I took coming across from BC had been lost on my 32 meg flash card! I guess there must be a bad sector on that card; so I am now using the 16 meg card which came with the camera.
Tuesday, July 30th - Monday, August 5th
On Tuesday the 30th it was time to head back to BC. But first we had to drop off the Airstream in London where we had purchased it last August. When we first started this trip last year, we didn't know whether we would like the rv lifestyle. As it turns out, the rv lifestyle is not for us. The Airstream served it's purpose and was a great home for a year and allowed us to do this trip which we couldn't have done living in hotels and eating out all the time. The costs would have been exhorbitant with nothing to show for it after. Although the Airstream was expensive to purchase, we will be getting a lot of that money back. The dealer in London has agreed to take the trailer back on consignment and sell it for us. He gives us a dollar amount of $34,000 and sells it for what he can get and keeps the rest for himself. That's fine with me.
We left early and had an uneventfull trip down the 401 and through Toronto where the traffice was still heavy but not like rush hour. We arrive in London at Can Am RV at around 1500 hours. We signed the paper work, turned over the trailer and headed off for Barrie where we would stay for first night. I must admit it was a little sad to see our house on wheels being taken away, it was a great place to live for our journey.
We took Highway 4 north out of London then switched over to Highway 23 going through the south western Ontario farming belt eventually passing through Listowel, a pretty little town. Then on towards Palmerson where we picked up Highway 89 east which passes through Harriston, Mount Forest, Shelburne and Alliston and eventually hooks up with Highway 400 where we headed north to Barrie. We arrived in Barrie and were turned down at three motels because we had the two dogs. Eventually we ended up at the Travelodge at around $70 a night. That's quite a difference from campground fees. Back to reality!
On Wednesday, July 31st, we headed up the 400. Our final destination for the day was Timmins where an old friend of mine Bob Barnes and Lora are living. Bob and I are both from Montreal and joined up the same day. We lost contact with each other over the years, but I found Bob in Timmins after some internet detective work Bob is retired from the Timmins Police where he worked as a dispatcher for the last 17 years. A very stressful job. Before that, he was a Sergeant in RC Sigs. Maybe some of you ex Sigs types might have run into him over the years. After taking the 400, we picked up Highway 11 just north of Barrie and passed through Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Huntsville before arriving in North Bay around 1500 hours. After that it was straight north staying on Highway 11 until the turnoff for Timmins where we picked up Highway 101 to Timmins. We finally arrived in Timmins around 1700 and Bob met us at a shopping center and took us back to his place.
We spent a very enjoyable evening with Bob and Lora reminiscing about old times. I was with 56 Canadian Signals Squadron in Egypt (Rafah and Gaza) from 1963 to 1964 where I had my road accident which now gives me a tax free disability pension each month. So I'm not complaing. But believe me, I earned it. Bob was also in Egypt in the Sinai near Suez because of the Israeli invasion of Egypt. I think that was sometime in the 70's. But I digress. Time to move on.
On, Thursday, August 1st, we left Timmins and headed west on Hwy 101 to Chapleau where we picked up the Trans-Canada Hwy 17 north. We passed through Wawa then over to Marathon where we followed along Lake Superior. The scenery was quite nice, but we went through a couple of downpours before getting back into sunlight which cut off some of the scenery. We got to Nipigon and found a non-chain motel which was clean and cheap. Around $40 for the night.
On Friday, August 2nd, we left Nipigon on Hwy 17 north. We were now back on the same route we came east on. We went around Thunder Bay where the road took a right turn and we went through Dryden and Kenora before getting to the Manitoba border. We were making really good time, no trailer to pull at 100 kph. I was now doing roughly 120 kph depending on the road; but once we reached Manitoba, the trees of Northern Ontario were left behind and we were back on the prairies and straight level roads. This is where I set the cruise control to 120 kph. We passed by Winnipeg, Portage la Prairie and Brandon. We had decided to go for a small motel in Elkhorn, just before the Saskatchewan border; so we made a reservation via our cell phone and got the last room available! This turned out to be a typical prairie town. We we first saw the "motel", we thought, "oh oh, what have we got here." But the room turned out to be spacious and clean. We had dinner in the little restaurant and had a walk around the town. Not coming from the Prairies, this was our first experience of a prairie town. Not a place I would want to live, but pleasant enough.
On Saturday, August 3rd, we left Elkhorn and continued west on Hwy 1 getting to the Saskatchewan border about 20 k down the road from Elkhorn., We passed by Regina, Moose Jaw and Swift Current. A one point we stopped and checked our Pocketmail and there was an email there from Pete and Jeanine Hurst. They had been following our trip via the AFFSC web page. Pete invited us to stay over at his place on the way back if we were going that way. Well, we had planned to go back via Edmonton but decided to stay on Hwy 1 which would take us right past Pete's place in Peachland in the Okanagan Valley. So we emailed Pete back and told him we would take him up on his offer.
Just before we got to the Alberta border, we heard a weather report about snow in the Calgary area. Snow in August!!! Apparently, we later found out from former Albertans that that's not uncommon. Decision time. We arrived at Medicine Hat just into Alberta and decided to take the southerly route going onto Hwy 3 which took us down through Lethbridge to Fort Macleod where we found the last motel room. Again! We had dinner in a little restaurant near the actual fort itself. Fort Macleod is where the mounties stopped on their trek westward and left Inspector Macleod there with a detachment to be responsible for that area and other parts of Western Alberta and perhaps into British Columbia. A nice little town that we want to go back to. Just outside the town is the Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump park (Provincial or Federal?) where the Indians used to drive the buffalo over the cliff.
On, Sunday, August 4th, we left Fort Macleod around 1015 hours and headed west on Hwy 3. We decided to leave a little later because I though it would only take about four or five hours to get to Pete's place in Peachland. BIG MISTAKE!!!! I keep forgetting how big BC is. Hey, it's only our second time across!! Hwy 3 goes through the Crowsnest Pass which didn't seem that high or spectacular like the Rogers or Kicking Horse passes. I think we passed through the town of Frank just before the Crowsnest pass which is still in Alberta. This is where they had a huge slide way back when. I can't remember the date. And as you pass through Frank, you can still see where the slide occurred. After that, we reached the BC border and passed through Sparwood, (huge truck by the side of the road) Fernie, Fort Steele, Cranbrook and Creston where Ron Waugh resides. But we didn't have time to stop and say hello as by this time my miscalculation was becoming more apparent.
Hwy 3 is picturesque but is very windy and hilly as we found out. We went over a couple of passes Kokanee and another one whose name escapes me. We continued going through towns that I had heard of but of course had never been too such as Castlegar and the previously mentioned towns. We finally reached Osoyoos and turned right onto hwy 97 which took us through Oliver, Penticton and Summerland until we finally reached Peachland around 1815 hours. The Okanagan is quite something to see. All the grapes and fruit trees but also a real tourist area, especially Osoyoos where there were all kinds of people on holiday. I had phone Pete from near Penticton and had arranged a meeting place where he would guide us to his house. We arrived just as Pete did and he guided us to his house.
What a place. We were posted in Paris with Pete and Jeanine but hadn't seen them for a few years. I didn't get an outside shot of their house, but some pics are included which show the beautiful view they have from their hillside location. Jeanine had prepared a beautifule dinner that was getting cold because of my "miscalculation" but they were wonderful hosts and we spent a very enjoyable time with them.
Monday, August 5th. Unfortunately, Val got one of her migration headaches during the night and we weren't able to leave until about 1300 hours. It wasn't due to Jeanine's cookng, Val thinks that it was the meal we had in Fort Macleod that caused the migraine. Sometimes they take a long time to set in.
The Hurst's live right next to the connector road, Hwy 97C which hooks up to the Coquihalla highway. After saying our goodbye's to Pete and Jeanine, we took the connector and made really good time, hooking up with the Coquihalla at Merritt where, I think we had to pay the toll which for a car is $10. It's about $70 for five or more axles!! After that it's down to Hope. But I can tell you that there are some really long climbs of about 25 k or more. I'm just glad that we took Hwy when we were pulling the trailer on the eastward journey. It seems as though you're on the top of the mountains and looking over them. And I guess we were just about on the top of the mountains going down to Hope. But it's worth paying the $10 as we were at the Swchwartz Bay ferry terminal in about 4 ½ hours. A really good time.
After that it was onto the ferry and across to Nanaimo where we took highway 19 up to Parksville and drove to our house on Wright Road. The house was empty as our shipment from Ottawa was not due in until the next day. Knowing this, we had purchased one of those blow up queen size mattresses from Canadian Tire. We had already used it in Timmins and it wasn't bad. Just a little difficult to get out of bed!!
Tuesday, August 6th. The furniture arrived and apart from our dinner buffet almost falling apart, there was no damage. Now, as we all know, the hard part was the unpacking and getting everything sorted out. But hey, I'm retired and have lots of time.
Well folks, we have now completed our journey. What was going to be a big u turn from Ottawa, down the east coast of the States, across the bottom and up the west coast and up to BC has now turned into a full circle. Since we picked up the Airstream in London and dropped it off there, the circle is now complete.
Costs/Statistics:A number of people have asked me how much it cost to do our trip, including the purchase of the Airstream and Windstar. Well, we know the price we paid for the Airstream and Windstar, but we did not keep any records of our expenses. However, we have a good idea of our daily expenses and I'll try to break them down for you. All costs are in Canadian dollars.
Purchase cost of 2000 Ford Windstar LX including extended warrant to 120,000 kilometres: $26,193.25
Purchase cost of 1990 Airstream Excella 34 foot travel trailer, including wiring of the Windstar and installing an Eazy-Lift trailer hitch with two torsion bars and two anti-sway bars: $47,000.00
Cost of gasoline while actually towing the Airstream for 9493 kilometres in eastern Canada. I don't have a daily record of my mpg (I still work in miles per gallon) but I got about 16 mpg while on a flat road, about 14 mpg in hilly areas like New Brunswick and around 11 mpg in mountainous areas such as California and BC. Since there are no mountains in eastern Canda, I averaged the consumption to 15 mpg. I then costed this out on an average of 70 cents a litre or, $3.15 a gallon. Cheaper in Ontario and more expensive as we moved east So the cost for eastern Canada was: $1,140.00
Cost of gasoline for the Windstar while solo in eastern Canda was: $328.00
Cost of gasoline while actually towing the Airstream for 15,949 kilometres in the United States at an average cost of $1.20 U.S. a gallon (Imperial): $1,315.00
Cost of gasoline for the Windstar while solo in the United States was: $165.00
Cost of gasoline while actually towing the Airstream for 5,540 kilometres in western Canada and the trip east was: $230.00
Cost of gasoline for the Windstar in western Canada was: $184.00
Vehicle maintenance. I had the Windstar serviced every 5,000 kilometres and in San Diego, I had some repairs done under the extended warranty. $2,100.00
Cost for rv parks for 362 days in the U.S. and Canada was: $9,464.00
Cost for purchasing food. We found the prices for food in the States were the same numerically as in Canada. We just had to add 65% to each purchase so I can't really give an accurate figure. Just a ballpark on an average of $300 a month. This does not include eating out, which we did quite a bit. So, allowing for the States, the total for food for the year was: $4,500.00
Storage of effeccts at Boyds warehouse ($250 a month). $3,000.00
Total for the year: $95,619.25
Total for the year excluding the Windstar and Airstream costs are: $22,426.00
Note: We had to have a car anyway, so perhaps the Windstar's cost should not be included even though we needed a tow vehicle. But the Windstart doubled as a family car, as it does today. Also, since we have dropped off the Airstream back in London for consignment sale, the amount it will be sold for (currently $34,000) could also be excluded from the overall costs. So if you take off the $26,193.25 for the Windstar and reduce the cost of the Airstream by $34,000, then the total would be $35,426.00.
Entertainment. We took a tour in every major city we visited and also visited some museums, state and national parks, The Kennedy Space Centre which was very expensive, and so on. I'm not even going to try and take an educated guess on what we spent for entertainment, especially restaurants, which we must have visited at least twice a week. So I can't really put anything down for this category.
Since we arrived back in Parksville, my mother died on August 16th and I had to fly back to Ottawa and then on to Montreal. It wasn't unexpected as her doctor had advised me when we had been there in July that she had metastatic cancer which had spread to her liver and other parts of her body. So her death was not a surprise. At least I had seen her just before she died.
Newcomers. We have continued with the Newcomers Club in Parksville and have built up a small group of friends through that group. I am now in charge of the Men's Pub Night!! A task I readily volunteered for. I am also running the cycling group which goes out on short rides every Thursday morning. It's been awhile since I've been on my bike and boy, am I out of shape. And overweight! I'm still trying to lose all that weight I gained from our trip. I also walk with the Newcomers walking group on Tuesdays and Saturdays. We have had some walks in some beautiful areas. Yesterday we went up Mount Washington which has a ski area there with plenty of snow. But none here in the winter!! We also visited a salmon run last week which was quite intersting. Watching the salmon throwing themselves up the falls and quite often hitting rocks was quite an eye opener. Some of the salmon had large pieces of skin missing but were still going upstream. All of our walks usually end up at a local pub and yesterdays ended up at the Black Fin Pub in Comox which is about 50 minutes north of Parksville.
The job. In September, I started work as a shuttle bus driver for the local Ford Dealer (Joe Cunningham) here in Parksville. It was ok and I really got to know the area; but getting up at 6:30 am every morning and working 8 to 5 Mon to Fri didn't really appeal. Especially when I had so much work to do around the house. So I quit! I arranged to have two guys I know from Newcomers take over from me on a part-time basis and that is working out quite well. I still have a connection with the dealership as I told them that I would fill in whenever one of the guys wanted some time off and the other guy couldn't cover. But it's great to be retired again!! I was into the, "there's not enough time to do everything on the weekend" syndrome. Now I'm back to "what day is it?"
The house. When we moved out here, we left most of our furniture back in Ottawa. Most of it went to our kids. Doing that reduced the cost of the move. Boyds charged us $4300 for the move out and we were paying $250 a month as indicated in the expenses above. But when we arrived, we found the house needed painting inside and new carpets throughout. But no damage. But the garden is in a mess and will take at least a year to fix up. So we had the inside of the house painted, carpeted and tiled and it's starting to look cosy. We also had to buy new furniture which we have been busy doing.
The car. We still have the Windstar, and thank god. We can only put out one bag of garbage a week. If you put out more, it's $2 a bag. So I took out the rear seat of the Windstar and we've been making regular trips to the dump at $4 a trip. They do not pick up garden waste here at all. Last week I bought Val a 1991 Suburu Legacy 4wd with only 101,000 k's on it. It looked almost brand new with absolutely no rust and paint is in great shape. The engine compartment looks really clean and it drives very nicely. Val is happy. I'm still looking for my sport car. I don't think I'll be getting a Mazda Miata. I drove two of them recently and I find them a little cramped. But better than Roly's Spitfire!! Still, I haven't ruled it out completely as the car drives so nicely and the stick-shift is so well placed. However, I also drove a 1990 Nissan 300ZX. What a rocket. And it wasn't evern the turbo model. But they are hard to find on the Island and I have my name in with all the Nissan dealers on the Island. The only thing wrong with the 300 is the servicing. It can be expensive, especially for repairs. So I'm not sure about that either. So my sports car is up in the air, but there is hope. There's a 2000 Toyota Celica GTS at the Nanaimo Toyota dealer that might well have my name on it. But it's not cheap. So I'm mulling that one over as well.
Well, I guess that's it folks. It's been great doing these reports and it's a good history of our trip that we might look back on in future years. I hope I haven't rambled on too much as in this last report, but I've tried to give as much detail as possible. I'll be attaching pics to this and some other emails over the next few days so as not to block up your pc's. I'll also send the odd email about life on the Island, especially pics when I get my new car.
So from sunny Parksville, until the next time.
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