High Adventures in the Back Country

I must apologize for my lack of communications this year. But, we have been in remote places mostly and the cell phone service has been very spotty. Some days, I have the ability to get and read basic e-mails for a brief period and other days, no service at all. It is actually worse than when we were aboard the boat! Then we understood that, if a long ways offshore, we would be out of communication but once anchored at most islands, we were on-line again. Now that we are in the USA, you would think cell towers would be everywhere. Not so! If we are close to a major highway or large town, we have excellent service. But if not, we are incommunicado!


We did spent the allowed 8 days at DuPuis Water Management Area (with no power) and discovered a serious problem with our house batteries. They were less than a year old and were dead! Even though we ran the generator daily to try to charge them, they were getting insufficient charging from the on-board system. The systems monitor showed us that all was perfect with the battery. But, when Murray checked the batteries with his volt meter, they were down to 10 volts. Dead! As we weren’t far from Stuart, we drove there and purchased a battery charger, hoping this would solve the problem.


From DuPuis, we moved on to another WMA free site at Hickory Hammock, near the top of Lake Okachobee, on Jan 10th. This campground was lovely and shaded but again had no services. Running the generator and using the battery charger seemed to be helping our batteries though. Amazingly, we met up with friends here, sailors from Green Cove Springs Marina. We shared a game of bocce with them one lovely morning. Luckily it was warmer at this time as the shower was unheated and outdoors! Murray enjoyed the access to free firewood and kept the fire burning during most of the 5 days we stayed. The only negative happening was the visit to our site by a large snake, a cottonmouth. Yikes! I hadn’t seen it and it was within a few feet of me. We were told that they are very aggressive and venomous snakes. I was loath to walk far from the camper after that.


The batteries had not come back at all and the decision as made to replace them. This time we bought Trojan T105’s 6 volt golf cart batteries, as they are deep cycle, heavy-duty batteries that tolerate discharging and re-charging better than automotive ones. Minor McGyver techniques were used to install the new batteries as Murray lamented his lack of proper tools. The job was done as we spent two nights at Highland Hammock State Park. It is a very old park and we appreciated the displays and museum but not the campsites. The sites were very small with no privacy whatsoever. But, I did manage to get laundry done –yeah!


Perhaps we have a masochistic trait, as we went to Tampa for the RV Super Show again and spent one night freezing in the parking lot. The cabin temperature was 41F in the morning! Thank goodness for quilts! The show was disappointing for us as we had hoped to find suppliers of gear there ie battery monitors, solar panels, flooring, etc. We did manage to get information about our Onan generator and Murray hopes to be able to solve the propane leak once we are home. Also we were able to purchase some higher lumen led lights for under the cupboards in the galley and over the stove. It is always better to see clearly when handling knives and hot food.


From Tampa, we headed to Silver Lake State Forest Park, not a free site as my app had indicated. Now cost us $30 for one night. But we needed to plug in for some heat as again, the temperatures were hitting the freezing point or below.


The same reason brought us to Silver Springs State Park for the next 2 days. It is a lovely park and we would have enjoyed it more on nicer days. But, again, I managed to get laundry done! Yahoo! Pete and Lani stopped by for a visit one morning and we all went out for breakfast. So great to see them again!

The park has quite a museum, which is never open when we are there, and a recreation of a Florida cracker village. We visited the village before departure and found it very interesting.


But, this month has been getting expensive. It was time for another free site. I found one in the Ocala National Forest and we drove in this narrow sand road for four miles before we saw the sign for Davenport Landing. A truck followed us into the entrance and pulled up beside us when we stopped. They were locals who were going fishing and wanted to warn us that sometimes locals go there to do drugs etc. We continued down the road to a clearing – the campsites. All but one site was occupied. Occupied by people living in their vans. It was a bunch of homeless! I wanted to turn around but Murray said, “They look friendly”. He got out and chatted with one fellow for a bit. Although I wasn’t 100% sure about this, we parked and set up camp. They did turn out to be nice people and we spent two nights there before moving on.


The cold weather was persisting so we took a chance and headed to Manatee Springs State Park without reservations. Luckily, we got a site for 2 nights! This is a lovely park with many trees and sites are well separated. Each evening, 5 or 6 deer visited us and we saw several Pileated Woodpeckers as well.


Our next stop was Stephen Foster Cultural Center and State Park, also without reservations. It is a beautiful park with museums dedicated to teaching us about the music and life of Stephen Foster. The Florida state song is Old Folks at Home, written by Stephen Foster. He might be more familiar to you as the writer of Way Down Upon The Suwannee River. And the Suwanee River runs through the nearby town and through the campground. There was also a craft village there, which we very much enjoyed. Artisans displayed their wares and told you of their craft. The blacksmith was especially interesting. As we chatted with him, he made us a drive hook that was used to hang gear in barns. It can be driven into the wood with just a tap of a hammer and holds a lot of weight. Most of the artisans were volunteers who spend several months here at this campground.


At the RV show, we had been given a voucher for a free two-night stay at the Spirit of the Suwanee Music Camp. I had made reservations and we checked in at the park. It was huge! After spending some time, we noted that most campers brought golf carts with them to get around. There was a restaurant with nightly entertainment but I wasn’t keen to walk that far and return in the dark. But, I did manage to do laundry again although most of the machines were non-functioning or already in use.


After re-stocking the larder at Piggly-Wiggly in Bristol, we headed into the Apalachicola National Forest. Here the sites are not free but are affordable at $10 per night or $15 per night with electricity. Camel Lake Campground was lovely! There were only 10 sites but great washrooms and showers and the camp host is super. Bobby delivered us some firewood for only a donation to his favourite charity. Although we only could stay two nights this time, we would definitely come back.


Back in November last year, I made reservations at St Andrews State Park in Panama City, with arrangements to meet up with long-time friends, Fred & Cindy Meyer. We arrived there on Jan 30th and stayed for 4 nights. Fred was our tour guide and drove us all around as they had visited this area many times. We went to check out the shops of Old Town St Andrews, visited the restaurants with the best deals and shared many meals together. I even tried oysters, broiled with cheese and garlic. Yum! On our last day, Fred drove us all the way to the town of Apalachicola were we again managed to find a great restaurant for some more seafood. More little shops beckoned and we strolled the streets despite the cold.


We waved and hugged goodbye and headed off to a nearby WalMart for the night. It was time once again to get the budget back into better shape. I made reservations for 2 weeks at Camel Lake!


When we arrived back at Camel Lake, it had been the object of a prescribed burn. Most vegetation was gone and the privacy between sites had vanished with the fire. Luckily there had been rain and most of the fires were out and the smoke gone. These burns take place in the National Forests every few years. The purpose is to remove the underbrush and this helps curtail fires by removing much of the fuel needed for them to spread. Camel Lake hadn’t been burned for 5 years and thus was quite overgrown.


Pete and Lani Tufts met us there for a few days and we enjoyed some time in their company. They have big plans for this year – heading to Alaska! It will take quite a few months and many miles!


When we left Camel Lake, we headed to Florida River Island Park, a free site I found on AllStays. With the amount of rain recently, we were concerned about flooding in the area but the campsite was fine. There were 10 sites only, with no power or water. When we arrived, there was one other rig parked. They left on Monday morning and we were alone. Although we had reservations for a week, we left on Wednesday, hoping to meet up with Pete and Lani again. They were at Wright Lake campground, another National Forest park. When we arrived, they had already departed. But, it seemed like a nice spot with washrooms and showers, so we paid up for 5 nights @ $10 per night. Again, no power was provided although there was water on each site. After a few days, we headed into Apalachicola for laundry and supplies. Wow! We had cell service for the first time in a week or more! I checked e-mails and made some calls while the laundry dried. There was time for a seafood lunch, a tour of a museum and some supplies at the local grocery before we hit the road back to the camp.


Murray had been monitoring our battery situation and they are still not getting enough charging. We need to run the generator an hour in the morning and evening rather than just an hour in the evening. Better yet, we need to plug into electricity for a few days. So, to that end, we headed out after our five-day stay. To where, you ask? Well, as we had no cell service, we had no idea.


After a stop in Apalachicola for propane, we headed east on the coastal highway. My AllStays app showed two possible campgrounds within reasonable distance and within our price range. The first was full but we found a spot at the Myron B Hodge City Park in Sopchoppy. For $15 per night, we have power and water and there are toilets and showers available. We are staying here for 5 nights and then will head north of Crawfordville to re-supply and meet up with our friend, Linda. She is driving home from a vacation in Ft Meyers and will spend a few days with us.


After that, who knows? Until we get solar panels on the roof, we need to book sites with electricity more often. There are some Corps of Engineers Parks on the Florida/Georgia border that look interesting. Perhaps we will spend some time there and then think about turning our nose north.

Meanwhile, there are signs of spring here. Soon coming to a town near you!




Until then, hugs from

Murray & Heather


Chilling in Florida

Our planned departure to southern points was delayed – twice. On Thursday,  the day before we were to leave, Murray went to get the RV from our community centre lot. It wouldn’t start! After some finagling, he got it going and thought perhaps it was a temporary glitch. But, again at the house, the engine wouldn’t start. Time to call the experts. Luckily, Gary at Gray’s Fleet Service said to bring it right over, if we could get it running. They determined that a glow plug was not functioning. The part was ordered and all should be well.


The part was installed the next day and the mechanic took the RV for a drive. New faults showed up on the computer – the EGR valve was bad. Gary visually inspected the valve and said that it is cleans and appears fine. His suggestion was to take the RV to Mercedes in London and have them connect their computer. An appointment was made for Monday morning.


Sunday night, Murray told me that he had broken a tooth. So, on the way to London, I called the dentists’ office and eventually got an appointment for Wednesday morning. The service manager at Mercedes told us the EGR valve was fine but we need 8 new glow plugs. That’s funny as we have a five-cylinder engine! And one glow plug is new! So, we thanked them and called Gary back. His suggestion – go south as you won’t need glow plugs in the warm. Good idea!


We finalized the packing of the motorhome and, once Murray had his tooth fixed, we set the house into winter storage mode. We turn off the water in the house, drain the pipes, fill the traps with anti-freeze and turn the heat down to 9C. Then the town turns the water off at the street. Before we are due to return, we arrange for the water to be turned on again. It is cheaper than paying the minimum water and sewer during our absence.


Costco called and said Murray’s glasses were ready for pick up. He had announced the week before that he couldn’t see out of his new glasses. Back to the optometrist we go. He checked the glasses and they were made to the correct Rx. Then he re-checked Murray’s eyes and changed the Rx! Luckily, Costco would re-make them if changes were made within three months. And, lucky for us, they rushed the order and they were done.


So, just before lunch on Dec 6th, we headed to Sarnia. As the construction on I-75 south was creating havoc in Detroit, we opted to go through Sarnia. We arrived at the casino just after 1 pm and looked for the power plugs for our RV. Eventually we found them – halfway up the light standards! Too high for us to reach. Plan B, we parked in Brian & Kathy’s driveway, long time sailing friends. The reason that we needed the power was to keep warm during the cold night.


Early the next morning, we crossed the bridge into the US and headed south. On the road again! Destination for the night – Lexington KY. There we stayed at Kentucky Horse Park, again so that we wouldn’t freeze overnight. In fact, the temperatures reached 16F. Brrrr.


We departed before daylight as we had a long drive ahead for this day. Before we reached Ashville, NC, the light snow in the air had changed to flurries accumulating on the road. Beyond Asheville, the traffic slowed to 15-20 mph due to snow and ice on the roads. We crawled along, passing several cars in the ditch. By the time we got to Spartanburg SC, the snow had changed to heavy rain which continued all the way to Beaufort. There we plugged into power at another friends’ house and fell into an exhausted sleep. It was still cool the next morning as we drove around, getting food and booze to re-fill our lockers. Sweaters were definitely needed.


On Sunday, Dec 10th, we got a message from friends that were heading south as well. They spent the night camped nearby and were leaving in the morning for a few nights at the State Park in St Augustine. We had already decided to leave in the morning and this gave us added incentive. It was too late to get a reservation at the park, so we drove straight there and were lucky enough to get a spot for two nights! The next two days, we ate shrimp as much as possible and re-visited our favourite places in St Augustine.

It was time to go to the marina and see if any old friends were around. Reynolds Yacht Centre graciously allowed us to camp there but we were close to the boat construction area. Not the best spot to be in. But, we did meet up with many boating friends and had some good times. W4 was still in storage and we tried not to look at her too longingly.


Friends had recommended Salt Springs State Park and we stopped for two days to enjoy this area. The salt spring was crystal clear and at 70F constantly.


Christmas was drawing closer and we had been invited to stay with George & Nancy in Hobe Sound. Off we went once again, arriving there on Dec 20th. They were in the midst of planning kitchen renovations and we helped them figure out just what might work.

Nancy and I had a cookie-baking marathon one day. Then the days of celebrations began. Great meals shared with old and new friends! What could be better?


On Christmas Day, we managed a great Skype call with both sons and their families and got to enjoy the grandkids and their presents for a while. The call was crystal clear and a wonderful thing.


On Dec 28th, we tore ourselves away from Stuart and drove to DuPuis Horse Camp were we were able to spend one night only. They were fully booked up until Jan 1st. But, I found a spot for 3 nights nearby, in South Bay RV Campground. The sun has been shining but the weather has turned cool here. There is NO SNOW though!


On the 1st, we will go back to DuPuis, the free campground, for a few days. Then……..

who knows? Eventually, we will head into the Panhandle area for the end of Jan, early Feb. Plans after that are hazy and unsubstantial. Maybe they will firm up in Feb?


That is Life on the Road!


Heather & Murray

CROWS – Cruisers Rolling ON Wheels

Ready To Rock And/Or Roll !

The last few months have been busy as usual. But, of course, we managed to have a little fun as well.

Murray worked at the farm, harvesting beans for George, during most of September. Whenever he had a rainy day and a break from the combine, he did little jobs on the RV and some not quite so little. While we were touring Ontario, we noted that one of the airbags ( sometimes called air springs ) had a hole and thus didn’t inflate. It was a challenge to even find someone who could supply a replacement part. The RV dealer said “Winnebago didn’t ever install those. It must have been an aftermarket addition.” But, Murray doesn’t give up. After much research and one wrong order, he removed one of the airbags so that we could get exact measurements. Now we could locate and order the correct parts. The part was actually available at a truck supply company in London! Murray installed the new air springs with little difficulty other than having to raise the RV and remove the dual tires. He also changed all of the fluids and installed a battery disconnect switch to prevent the batteries going dead when the vehicle isn’t in use due to constant parasitic loads.

We found time to travel to Rochester NY for a Bob Seger concert. It was awesome! My goodness, he can still rock the building! We were seated side stage and had a great view of him, even closer than those on the floor who paid much more.

September also brought us a visit from our good friends, George & Nancy Marvin. As they live in Florida and spend the summer in Maine, we had never expected them to come to Ontario. But, they were on the way to pick up their new dog and their breeder had moved to Michigan. The straight line from Maine to Michigan passed through southern Ontario. We were thrilled! They arrived in time to join us for a dance at the HHRA clubhouse where they got to enjoy some music from the 60’s and meet many friends. The next day, we took them on a tour of the farm and our part of southern Ontario. But, they couldn’t stay long as they wanted to meet Ellie, short for Eleuthera, their new springer spaniel. So, we waved goodbye after only two nights. They might not realize it but we will be sure to see them this winter! We have spent many a Christmas with them and hate to break a tradition.

The Car Rally was coming up in October and we were out driving the back roads as much as we could, setting up a new course and a myriad of questions. As in the last year, we also ran Rally 101 classes a couple of times on two Saturdays after coffee hour. The day of the Car Rally was gloomy and wet but the competitors were very enthusiastic. Most completed the course and we all joined together for a lovely catered meal.

The bean harvest finished up by mid October and then it was time for corn. Murray usually has weekends off as George’s son works with him then. Not too long ago, the combine caught on fire! Murray couldn’t see the fire in the engine from his position but noticed the engine speed slowing down. He stopped, stepped out onto the deck and saw flames shooting into the sky. He ducked back in the cab, shut the engine off and climbed down from the machine. Where was that darn fire extinguisher? Oh yah, up near the engine! Once that was retrieved, he directed the blast onto the engine as others arrived to assist. The fire was eventually out but the machine will require extensive repairs.

October also was the date for the Information Meeting here in Hickory Hills. That is when the Board of Directors presents to the residents the proposed budget for the coming year. It was my first time in the stage in front of the crowd and my first time typing the minutes. My gosh! There was a recording of the meeting and I typed for three days and 13 pages, transcribing it.

Halloween is low key in our neighbourhood, in fact we did not have one child come to the door. I had granola bars to hand out and was glad that we hadn’t broke down and bought chocolate. If we had, I would have had to sacrifice myself so that Murray wouldn’t eat too much of it. A tough job but one that I could have accomplished and had managed other years. Sadly, my expertise wasn’t needed this year. Sigh.

Now, we are just a week and a bit before we head south. How do we plan to do that you ask? You sold the boat, remember! Yes, we did but we also bought a Winnebago View and intend to drive to Florida for a few months. Contrary to most RVers, we haven’t booked months of stays here and there. I did book 4 days in a State Park where we will meet up with friends. But, other than that, we will play it by ear. Just like on a boat, moving here and there, and dropping anchor. I have found many free sites in the Panhandle and we will gravitate there in January. State Parks also often have a day or two available during the week and we can do laundry there. There are also some Corp of Engineers Parks in the Panhandle area that we will try to visit. But, there are no definite plans – just the overall idea of staying warm.

Right now, the lists seem to get longer, not shorter. I tick off two items but add five more. We will bring the RV home from the farm on Sunday and I will get to work on Monday, cleaning the upholstery. Then, Murray should be done farm work on Tuesday and the real work will begin, carrying things to the motorhome and stowing them somewhere. Hopefully, somewhere where we can find them again! There was a phase we used in boating – LOB or Lost On Board. I think that the same phrase will hold true for the motorhome.

But, the Christmas cards and letters are sent, the freezer is almost empty, the bills are paid and our US dollars retrieved. the frig is washed out and the clothes are on a list but no need to pack as we just carry them out to the motorhome. I still have some baking to do and, if I had eggs, I would have done it today. Oh well, tomorrow maybe.

Hugs to all,

Murray & Heather

Hard Aground & CROWS ( Cruisers Rolling On Wheels )

Travels With Murray !

Once again, the time has flown by. But, there is some exciting news. We finally got to drive our motorhome!

Yes, it did happen! We had been checking the MOPAR website, every day or so, to see if there was a fix shown for our vehicle recall. We had called Transport Canada again as another deadline had passed and they had assured us that the repair was expected to be available by mid July. So, I checked on the 15th – nothing. Checked on the 17th – nothing. I gave up for a couple of days and re-checked on the 19th – you guessed it – nothing. Murray checked on the 22nd and Yes! There it was! The line “parts available”. Immediately I called the Dodge dealer in London that could handle our size vehicle and the parts man said “the repair doesn’t require parts”. It was just as we suspected – a software update only.

So, we made an appointment for the recall repair/update as well as for the safety check and e-test needed to complete our licensing requirements. As the appointment was early morning, we dropped the View off the evening before. When we arrived back at the dealers the next morning, he had nothing but bad news for us. The bill for things that they required for the safety check would be $2000! They were unable to perform the e-test due to the size of the vehicle. Also, they were unable to complete the recall repair as the vehicle was from the USA!

As you can imagine, we were upset! They suggested that we take the vehicle back to the USA and have the recall performed there. How could we do that when the vehicle is not licensed? We would not be able to take it across the border! After a few hours of phone calls, we got help from FCA Customer Service. The agent there called the dealership and spoke to the technician involved. It was just a matter of getting a software patch from the Tech Service department at FCA!

Bottom line is that we left, after many hours, with the recall completed. We paid for the safety check they had performed – almost $300! The safety check and e-test would have to be completed elsewhere.

Murray’s brother, George, recommended a truck service garage that he uses and we made an appointment with them for the balance of the work needed. Our vehicle passed with flying colours! Oh, Murray had done a couple of small things that showed up on the safety done in London but they amounted to less than $50 in parts. But, on the 1st of August, we could legally drive our ‘new’ motorhome! It had only taken 5 months!

Now, it was time to use it. We packed quickly and headed out on August 3rd for a few weeks. We hadn’t even paid any attention to the fact that is was a long weekend coming up and parks would be jammed. No worries – we are mostly going to stay in driveways anyhow.

First stop was in Sarnia with longtime friends, Brian & Kathy. Their home is right on Lake Huron and we spent three days enjoying sunshine, BBQ’s, visiting and shopping with them. On Sunday, we headed to Collingwood and met up with Steve & Margaret at whose home we spent a lovely evening. The next day, we drove on to Penetang to meet up with Dave & Brenda at the marina there. Murray had arranged to purchase a ham radio that Dave was selling for a friend, so that was added to all of the gear in our wee home. We were easily convinced to spend the night in the parking lot and depart the next day. That gave us more time to visit.

On again in the morning, we headed to Orillia to touch base with my Aunt Barb. She hadn’t been well enough to attend our 50th and we wanted to take time to see her. Another lovely home by the water – this time Lake Couchiching. From Orillia, we headed to Parry Sound and spent our first night in a campground, Oastler Lake Provincial Park.

I had been in touch with Kate East, trying to arrange a meeting with her mother, Annabelle. Maury and Annabelle East had been our employers for 8 summers and were the former owners of Killarney Mountain Lodge. Unfortunately, Maury had fallen and broken a hip and was currently in a nursing home. But, Annabelle had time to see us! It was a wonderful visit with both daughters, Kate and Jennifer, there as well as Kate’s fiancé Jullian and Jennifer’s twins. Annabelle and Maury had purchased a lovely home on the water just north of Parry Sound, with the typical smooth rock shoreline and deep water right to the dock. Too bad we didn’t have W4 anymore.

Tearing ourselves away, we motored on to Killarney where we spent 3 nights at Roque’s Marina in the campground. A friend, Rob McGuffin, was sailing in the area and met us there. He came bearing fresh wild blueberries as well as blueberry jam that he makes aboard and gives to his friends. Luckily, we qualified for some of this delicious jam. One afternoon, we even went out for a sail – my first in 8 months. I was ok aboard but very careful climbing off and on.

On Saturday, we walked to Herbert’s Fishery for some of their famous fish and chips for lunch. A former waitress at the Lodge, Tracey, came flying out and enveloped us in hugs! It was so good to see her! But, the surprises were not finished. Paul and Lindsay , former guides at the Lodge, walked up and joined the line for fish. More hugs and then we shared a table and chatted. They said that even more people might be coming – Mel and Mike, again former employees of the Lodge. They showed up shortly after along with their two kids. Holy crow! Kids! This whole group, plus others that we would have known, had been camping out on Philip Edward Island for a few days. What luck to have met up with these guys.

That evening, Rob joined us in the Carousel Lounge at the Lodge for pizza and musical entertainment by Andy Lowe. Paul and Lindsay showed up as well as Kris Pavel. It was a day for reunions.

We tore ourselves away on Sunday and drove to Haliburton where we were to meet up with CarolAnn Darling at her cottage. Her dad, Doug Leverton, and step-mom Connie, would be there visiting from British Columbia and helping to build a deck. CarolAnn didn’t tell us it was to be a surprise for Doug & Connie. The double-takes and the looks of shock were amazing. Murray joined right in with the deck building while I sat and supervised. Although we had food in the motorhome, CarolAnn fed us and very well at that. She had quite a large crew there for the weekend working on the new deck and they had made amazing progress. It wasn’t had to convince us to stay an extra day, giving us time to catch up with Doug & Connie as well as help out.

On Tuesday, we pointed the nose toward Ottawa, staying on lovely back roads. It was an enjoyable ride through some beautiful country. By mid afternoon, we were parked in Jeremy & Cynthia’s driveway in Kanata, our home for the next 5 days. It was great as we were able to spend some time with Matthew and Samantha during the day, learning about magic cards and working on a 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle. The weather had turned cool so Samantha and I only had one brief swim in their pool. But, we found things to fill our time. Murray and the kids went on long bike rides daily and, of course, shopping had to be done, along with laundry.

From Kanata, it was back to Bancroft for the Bahamas Reunion with some sailing friends. Bob & Jane have a cottage on Monck Lake and have been hosting us as well as Doug & Sharon for a weekend the last six years or so. We weren’t sure that the motorhome would be able to get down their narrow, winding road but Bob led us in, warning us if traffic was coming. Phew, it was close but we made it and even managed to turn around. The Cottage Games began as Bob & Jane listed the challenges for this visit. There would be 4 events – shooting a BB gun as well as bow and arrows at cans, darts, and bean bag toss. The men cleaned our clocks and I was in last place when the points were added up. Oh well. It was a great time with lots of laughs and too much food as usual.

It had almost been three weeks and it was time to go home, do laundry, shop and re-pack for the Runway Camp-out Weekend. It was just a brief visit at home but we got a lot done in two days before heading to the farm. This year there were 8 rigs camped and Friday evening George set a hollow tree trunk ablaze for our campfire. What an awesome sight that was! The fire burned inside and glowed out through the cracks. On Saturday, we held the Farm Games with ladder toss, bean bag toss, croquet and golf. Again I was last but this time I got chocolate! Saturday evening, many of George & Barb’s friends joined us for dinner and music. Barb had made scalloped potatoes, roast pork loin and meatballs etc etc while the rest of us supplied salads and desserts. Again, too much food. Murray cooked many dozen cobs of corn and few got eaten.

It was two tired puppies that unloaded the motorhome that Sunday afternoon/evening. But, we were very happy with the performance of our Winnebago View on this, the first trip of many we hope. Murray had a list of jobs that he wanted to accomplish but that was to be expected. All in all, it drove easily, stored what we needed to carry, and had great livability. A winner!

Heather & Murray Rand

50 Years Together!

As per usual, time has flown by since I last wrote. But, in my defense, we have been very busy.

At our community Annual General Meeting on May 17, I, Heather, was elected to the Board of Directors. Since that time, there have been four Board meetings and one Social Committee meeting ( I am the Board representative to the Social Committee ). Plus, as secretary, I need to take and type the minutes of all of these meetings.

Also in May on the long weekend, we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary by hosting a party. About 75 people travelled from far and wide to come and celebrate with us. We are so blessed with such good friends. And, I cannot leave out the most important guests, our family. All of our sons’ families attended, even 2 year old Violet. In fact, she stole the show!





















Jeremy, Cynthia, Matthew and Samantha came down from Ottawa on Friday and spent the weekend. They were a huge help with decorating and greeting the guests. Steve, Kath, James and Violet came as early as they could, after Violet’s nap. She certainly needed that nap, with the energy she expending dancing with the DJ’s lights later. We were also blessed to have my sister and Murray’s brother and sister in attendance, along with their spouses. In fact, I had three out of four of my bridesmaids there! My sister, Karyn Gilchrist, Murray’s sister, Susan Learn, and my cousin Susan Smith. It was a great evening!

As if we didn’t have enough stress that weekend, we decided to host a brunch for the out-of-town guests on the Sunday. That turned out to be just super with much more time to visit with our friends. I had done as much of the food preparations in advance as I possibly could. Our neighbour, Mary Overland, prepared a couple of dozen fresh muffins and Barb Rand had made a hash brown casserole. There never was a lack of food!

Later that day, Steve, Kath, James and Violet came over to visit again and to spend some time with Jeremy’s family. The kids had a great time together!

June was quieter than May but we still had to find time for celebrations – my birthday and Father’s Day.

Murray finished helping with the planting at George’s farm in early June and then was shanghaied for jobs for neighbours. One big job kept him busy for most of a week, replacing sinks and taps for a neighbour. The aqua-size in the pool also started in early June and I try to go most days. And, on the hot afternoons, both of us go to the pool for an hour or so, to cool down.

A few weeks ago, I took another quilting class and will be working on that quilt for the foreseeable future. It is a queen size, blue and white in colour, in the pattern of Hugs and Kisses.

Now we are almost into July and Canada is celebrating 150 years! Yay us! We have opted to skip most of the big celebrations and spend the weekend in our motorhome, camped at the farm. You see, we are still not allowed to drive it. And yes – it is getting frustrating. We thought if we spend some time enjoying it, we will again remember why we love it and why we bought it. Fingers are crossed that the recall can be resolved soon. But, we are afraid to make any plans for the coming months as we really don’t have any idea when that might happen.

But, that too is life on the hard.
Heather & Murray


The Joy and Pain Of Purchasing a RV in the US

Now that we had a new motorhome, we needed to sell the Rialta. Trading it in wasn’t an option as the book listings for these units is about $4000! But, the Rialta’s have a huge following and sell for much more. We placed ads on Kijiji in Canada and Craigslist in the USA. There must have been about 20 responses from Canada and many from the US.

The complication was importing the Rialta into the US. It is possible to do it yourself but not all counties offer that service. Once we found a buyer, we contacted the salesman at RV Kountry, where we had purchased the View, and he offered to look after the paperwork for the sale for a flat fee. Yes, that could work for us.

What was the reason that we purchased a motorhome in the US, you ask? Although the Canadian dollar was not strong against the US one, we still would come out ahead financially. And, there was much more choice of used units in the US, especially in Florida.

Then it was time to gather some more of the paperwork necessary for importing our new vehicle into Canada. The Registrar of Imported Vehicles has a very good website and supplies you with a lot of information. They even answer the phone! At a government agency, that is unusual. I had already checked to make sure that a 2007 Winnebago View was on the list of “allowable vehicles for import”.The RIV requires a letter from the manufacturer showing that there are no outstanding re-calls. As our unit has two manufacturers, we needed two letters.

I contacted Winnebago and obtained the necessary letter from them. Then, it was time to look into the Dodge website. There we discovered that there had recently ( Jan 2017 ) been a recall and it was shown as “ no parts available “. Further investigation revealed that there was a fault with one of the warning lights on the dash and they had no idea when a fix would be available.

Now what? We called Transport Canada and Dodge to try to obtain more information about possible repair dates to no avail. We called the salesman to try to back out of our deal but he said that was impossible. He offered to sell the View for us, for a fee. But, then we asked about the Rialta. As there was a contract on it already, we couldn’t back out of that deal either. We would be left on the side of the road with all of our belongings!

So, we made the difficult decision to continue with the purchase and hope that they come up with a fix for the recall in a timely fashion.

On February the 24th, we returned to RV Kountry and moved all of our belongs from the Rialta into the View. It was a big job as the Rialta had a lot of storage. But, eventually we were done unpacking and re-packing. We moved a few miles down the road to a WalMart where we had a quick dinner, a drink and slept.

In the morning, we drove north to another free campground that I had found on Allstays – an app for campgrounds, fuel staops etc.. It was in the Ocala National Forest and had no amenities but we just needed to re-group and get our heads around the fact that we had spent a lot of money on a unit that we may not be able to drive for – months? years??? No one knew!

After a couple of days getting to know our View, we headed back to Reynolds Park Yacht Center. There we met up with some sailors, shared some drinks and started to feel better about things.

I was paranoid about the importing process and had done a lot of research. I had discovered that you had to export the vehicle from the US first. I had called the border twice to verify information that I had found on-line. During a third conversation, the officer mentioned that I would need a ITN. That was new! I hadn’t found any info about that!

More on-line research. Thank goodness for a smart phone with a large data plan. One of the sites said that non-US citizens had to hire an agent to file export information and obtain the ITN. The brokers I spoke to quoted a charge of $225 to $350 for this process. After much more research, I found a site ( simplifiedtradesolutions.com ) that would apply for the ITN for you for a fee of $35. Yes! That was more like it! I filled out their form, paid their fee and obtained the ITN. Then, I sent an e-mail to the border crossing that we planned to use, with the VIN in the subject line and the ITN in the body.

Time was passing by and we needed to have the View back into Ontario within 2 weeks of purchase. But, there was still one more hurdle. We needed a clear title showing that there were no outstanding liens on the vehicle. The previous owner’s loan had been paid off with our purchase but the bank was taking their time passing on the paperwork.

George and Barb arrived at Reynolds to visit with us for a few days before heading off further south, enjoying a break from winter. They drove down from Ontario in their Fleetwood Pulse, a slightly newer and a few feet bigger RV than our View. It was great to get together with them again and catch up on the news.

Finally, on Tuesday, the clearance from the bank came through and we were able to print it out and head for the border. The View gave us 18 miles to gallon before we attached the trailer and 16 while hauling the trailer along. On Thursday, we arrived at the Detroit border crossing. But, we couldn’t find the gate the officer had told us about. I was looking for a door. An attendant at the gas area helped us get turned around and another attendant lead us back through traffic towards a chain link gate. Once inside, we found a small spot amongst all of the huge trucks and joined the line in the office. After examining all of our papers, the officer applied his stamp and sent us along. We crossed the bridge and back into Canada, declaring both a trailer and RV to import.

The Canadian border officer started the paperwork for RIV and sent us to pay the Federal taxes. Once that was done, we were free to go.

Home! It took about six hours to empty the View and we had to hurry as the temperature was dropping and it wasn’t winterized. But, George had a heated shop at the farm and there was space for us. At least until they got home again.

Then there was about three or four full days of putting things away in the house. All of our things from the boat had to be integrated into our small home. Boxes were made up for things to sell, to donate, to store and to toss. But eventually it was done and our home looked normal again.

Now the trailer has finished the import process and is awaiting a new owner. The View is still waiting for a solution to the recall and we are making improvements as we wait. New day/night shades have been ordered form Home Depot and should arrive in early April. Murray has already changed most of the lights to LED but we still have replacements for the halogen under-cabinet lights to find. Murray is repairing drawer slides and adding compartments to the drawers for silverware and utensils. A shelf has been installed in an outside storage area to create more space. I need to make bags for the lawn chairs in order to store the chairs on the bunk above the driver. Lots of jobs to do – perhaps I should get busy!
Hugs from
Murray & Heather
New Adventures Aground

Travels by Land

For almost a month now, we have been travelling around Florida in our Rialta. As we are cheap sailors, or should I say ‘we were cheap sailors’, we always look for the inexpensive places to stay. Mostly.

Our first stop was a resort near Sebastian and it wasn’t inexpensive at approx. $165 US for three nights. But, two great sailing couples were staying there and we wanted to catch up with them. In the process, we learned that we are not happy parked cheek to jowl with other units even if the pool is lovely. It is just not worth it to us.

The second stop was in George & Nancy’s front yard in Hobe Sound. We had a great visit with them as well as the couple staying on the dock. Their boat had been damaged in the derecho that hit the Bahamas Jan 6th, 2016 and it had taken until now to complete repairs. Although they wanted us to stay longer, after just three days we headed off again.

This time to a free site, the Horse Camp, in Dupuis Water Management Area Campground, near Lake Okeechobee. And, yes, there were horses. It was a nice spot without designated sites. You just picked out one of the scattered picnic tables and set up camp beside it. We were told there were hot showers but didn’t utilize them. You are only allowed to stay here for two weeks at one time and then you must leave for a few days. But, it was a nice shaded campground and we will certainly go back again.

The time at Horse Camp was short because we had decided to go to the RV Super Show in Tampa. Arriving there just after lunch, we trekked in and out of many RV’s, all out of our reach dollar-wise. But, we learned more about brands we liked and other ones we needed to eliminate from our search. We had purchased a camping pass and thus spent the night right there on the fair grounds. Friday morning, we entered the show again, this time concentrating on the buildings. There were lots of things for sale and also people trying to recruit RV’ers for temporary workers. Amazon is one of the biggest employers and also provides a campground for those who sign up. But, Canadians are not eligible.

A Wal-Mart, in Hudson, was our destination for the next night but I was quite nervous when we realized that several of the cars nearby had people living in them. As a result, I didn’t sleep well that night. But, off we go again – to visit with more friends, John & Donna, in Palm Harbor. We spent the afternoon in the pool and danced the night away at the clubhouse. Although we had only planned for one night, they convinced us to stay longer and I managed to get my laundry done as well.

But as the saying goes, guests like fish, start to smell after three days. So off we went again – to another front yard. Don & Ann were borrowing a friend’s house in Inverness and there was lots of room for the Rialta in the yard. Lots more to talk about and good meals to share. By now, we are starting to feel the effects of the cold bug shared with us in Hobe Sound.

Time to retreat from friends and huddle down to get well. To that end, I made reservations at two State Parks – Rainbow Springs and Manatee Springs. I will have to admit that we really didn’t get much out of the first one as we were feeling too bad to do much of anything. But, we did appreciate the electricity to stave off the cold nights. By the time we reached Manatee Springs, we were starting to come around and enjoyed a walk on the boardwalk by the river.


The drive to our next stop was a lovely one. I typically route us away from Interstates and onto back roads. These roads were lined with live oaks and horse farms. One ranch was having a jumping competition but we didn’t pause.

Back to Wal-Mart, near the Villages, to visit with Pete & Lani who are having some medical challenges. We spent 4 nights in the Wal-Mart lot and our days with them. The four of us went to see the movie Hidden Figures and very much enjoyed it. We attended some musical entertainment in the town square and watched the Super Bowl at their home.

But, my RV searching was paying off. There was a Fleetwood Icon24A in Englewood, so off we went to check it out. While underway, I called about another that might work. The salesman, in North Ft Myers, said that it had been sold but the deal had fallen through. Well, the Fleetwood was a disappointment so we headed on further south and arrived at the dealer’s lot at 4:30. By 5:15, we had made a deposit contingent on further investigation the following day.

The bottom line – we are the new owners of a 2007 Winnebago View 23H. The deal will not be completed until near the end of February as our Canadian insurance company will only allow us 14 days to bring it back to Canada. And, it is still very cold up there. But, maybe by mid March it will be warmer.


The Rialta is for sale, both in Canada and the US. Meanwhile, we are still travelling around the state and touching base with friends and former sailors. In Ft Myers, we met up with two such couples, Gordon & Lorrie as well as John & Luanne. It had been years since we had seen either couple. It was wonderful to reminisce and catch up on everyone lives and adventures.

Right now, we are camped in a Corp of Engineers Campground at the Ortona Lock, on the Okeechobee waterway. It is a lovely park right by the water.

Soon, we will go a little northward to another State Park and then stop in to check on Pete and Lani once more.

If we don’t sell the Rialta here, we will have to drive both units north. That would be a pain but, if it must be done, then it will happen.

But that is the future and who really knows what might happen. Not me!


Heather & Murray



PS If anyone is interested in a driving holiday, the Rialta is available in Ft Myers ( or elsewhere as we do move around ! ) after Feb 28th for a short period. It would need to be back in Ontario within two weeks so we could get the license plates.



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New Adventures

As per usual, time has flown by. But, in my defense, life has been busy. Also, some of the developments we needed to keep quiet until finalized.


The boat was launched on Nov 30th and we moved to Reynolds Park Yacht Center immediately. There, we worked to empty the boat even more to prepare it for potential buyers. I kept the advertisements current as we sold off items that were not to go with the boat.


IMG_0800But, we had worked long enough and it was time for some fun. So, we met sailing friends at a campground, Silver Springs State Park, near Ocala. Silver Springs was one of the first tourist attractions in Florida and a lovely campground. There, we did some touring, some walking and shopping for a smart car. No, not for us, but for our friends. They wanted to tow a smart car behind their RV. And IMG_0802we love to spend other people’s money! We stayed in that campground for 3 nights.


From there, we drove to Tampa and visited LazyDaze RV. Holy crow! That is a HUGE dealership. A salesman was assigned to us and she took us in a golf cart onto the lot and showed us several units. But, they were all out of our price range. Besides, the boat wasn’t even sold yet.


IMG_0829After a night in the closest WalMart, we headed to Fort Desoto, a campground out on a peninsula near St Petersburg. More sailing friends met us there. Our site was right on the water! IMG_0831The weather turned cool and it made it perfect for exploring the site of the old fort. But, it wasn’t too cold for an ice cream cone! Delicious! A week of escape was all we allowed ourselves and it was time to get back to work.


The potential buyers were arriving Christmas Day and somehow I needed to prepare a turkey dinner. After speaking to a few others, we decided to work together and share a dinner for 8 people. In a very short time, that number expanded to 18! As all my pots and pans from the boat had been packed, I was delighted to supply pies and cookies purchased from the local Winn Dixie. It was a great party and everyone had more than enough to eat.


The potential buyers visited the boat every day from Christmas Day through to the 29th. After giving us an offer and deposit, sea trials were held on Wednesday the 28th and W4 passed with glowing colours. The deal was finalized January 7th, when the balance of the funds were transferred into our account. As the new owners flew back to home and work on Jan 1st, we had agreed to arrange for the boat to be hauled and prepare her for storage at Reynolds. She was hauled on January 10th and the final things were finished on the 11th. That evening, we toasted W4 with champagne and bid our beloved vessel good bye.


Waving to our many friends on the pier, we drove off down the road and on to a new type of adventure.


But, perhaps that is a story for another day.



Heather & Murray

Now CROWs – Cruisers Riding On Wheels

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It Is A Hard Life On The Hard

We arrived back at the Green Cove Springs Marina boatyard on the morning of Nov 7th and started right to work. Murray took the sun-cover off while I checked below decks. The mould gods were good to me this year as the mould was minimal. I cannot say that it was due to better preparation as I used the same method as always. It is simply a matter of humidity and luck.


We were scheduled to move from storage into the work yard around 10 am but were moved at about 4 pm. At least we got a spot. I had booked our move into the work yard before we left in the spring, just to be sure to have a space. There are a huge number of boats in storage but only a small area called “the work yard”.


In the work yard, you are supposed to have access to water, power, have garbage pick-up and have use of the bathrooms. The power is sketchy at times. It took Murray many hours to get a working outlet. The water tap was close and usually has sufficient pressure, except on weekends when more people arrive to work on their boats.


img_0755 The garbage situation is terrible. The cans have been overflowing this whole week. With the afternoon heat, the stench is building. They promise that it will be dealt with today. But, if it isn’t, we will be waiting until Tuesday as the staff is off until then.


Now to the bathroom situation. The men’s room has one toilet and one shower. The ladies room has two toilets and one shower. They did build wheelchair accessible washrooms a couple of years ago but I understand that they are in deplorable condition as well. The floors of the showers are black with ground-in dirt from the shoes that everyone wears.img_0754


And for the privilege of enjoying this life-style, we only pay $0.50 per foot or, in our case, $20 per day. Plus there is a charge of an additional $1 per day for a live-aboard fee, covering garbage pick-up and washroom access.


But, we are the lucky ones as we have the Rialta. During the night, we use the bathroom in it. In fact, Murray uses it most of the time. For showers, we use the cockpit shower on the boat. That might not work for us in the next couple of days as it is expected to get very cold.


But, all is not doom and gloom. The jobs are getting done and we all almost ready to launch. Now, if only the marina next door, Reynolds Yacht Centre, has a spot for us! We cannot float on the moimg_0756orings here and there are very few spaces on the dock. Plus, Reynolds is a nicer and cleaner facility. They pick up garbage daily at the boat and do a free pump-out of the boat or motorhome waste tanks weekly.



All of this too is life aboard.

Heather & Murray


PS Windswept IV is for sale and we are working hard to empty out all of our personal stuff. To that end, we purchased an enclosed trailer to transport and store everything.




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Thanksgiving etc

As usual, it has been way too long since I updated y’all. Life here has been quite busy, with several camping trips in our Rialta.

One weekend found us camped in Dorchester for the Fiddle and Step Dance competitions. The music in the campground was very good and we were close to a great group of musicians. It isn’t really our favourite music type but it was fun to visit once.

George ( Murray’s brother ) & Barb hosted the 2nd Annual Runway Campout in August and there were seven or eight rigs there this year. The weather was slightly damp and curtailed the campfires but we had fun anyhow. Several groups went to the nearby Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese while others went to Woodstock for shopping etc. A great game of Mexican Train dominoes kept us entertained in the afternoon. Saturday evening’s dinner was a pot-luck and, as usual, there was lots of awesome food. Before and after dinner, we were entertained with live music from some of the talented fellow campers plus friends of George & Barb. Everyone headed out Sunday afternoon and allowed the farm to return to it’s usual quiet state – until next year.

One long weekend, we travelled to Mackinaw Island and met up with George and Barb along with some cousins from Michigan, Mary & Bill. We stayed in a campground in Mackinaw City and took one of the ferries to the island for the day. It was a damp and rainy day but we took the horse-drawn tour and quite enjoyed that. Back in the village, we had a lovely lunch at a pub and then browsed the stores for a while. Once we were loaded down with the obligatory fudge, we crossed back on the ferry and got out of the rain for a few hours. The next day, we headed home but stopped along the way to look at new and used motorhomes. We spent the night in another, much cheaper campsite, closer to the border and crossed back into Canada in the morning.

This weekend, the Rialta was called into service once again but this time as a bunkhouse. Jeremy, Cynthia, Matthew and Samantha came from Kanata for Thanksgiving and our two bedroom house is just a bit to small to sleep all comfortably. But, with the heater plugged in, it was quite comfortable in the camper parked in front of the house.

On Thanksgiving Sunday, we met Steve, Kath, James and Violet at Great Lakes Farms, near Port Stanley. There we picked apples and watched the kids playing in the Fun Farm. The balance of the day was spent at Steve and Kath’s new house in St Thomas where we enjoyed a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. The cousins had a wonderful time playing together while the adults visited.

We have so many things to be thankful for. Not the least of which is that our boat seems to have survived Hurricane Matthew. Reports from the marina indicate quite a bit of damage to boats in the water but the ones up on the hard seem to be just fine. That will have to wait to be confirmed when we finally get aboard. That is planned for early November but we will have to contact the marina to make sure that they are ready to have W4 in the work-yard by then.
Murray is working with his brother again, to harvest soybeans. That will take up most of his time for the next few weeks. I have several sewing projects on the go that will keep me occupied.

So, basically, life is good! We have family, friends, way too much good food and things to keep us happy and busy.

Murray & Heather
hard aground