Author name: hmrand

Travels with Murray Part 6

On August 3rd, we arose at 6:30! I had done that for many years aboard W4 as I listened to and wrote down the weather information given on the Ham radio by Chris Parker. But, I was definitely out of practice. We were booked on the 8:30 ferry and they wanted us there 40 minutes in advance. So….we got up at 6:30.

The crossing was calm and quick. Just 75 minutes after departure, we were unloading in Nova Scotia. As it was so early, we decided to push ahead and go all the way to Gabarus in Cape Breton. First challenge was a stalled car on the two lane Canso Causeway. In our lane! So, cars in our lane had to rely on the opposing traffic stopping so that our lane could progress. But, it is Canada and people were being polite. So, we were delayed but not completely stopped.

On we go! We are following Highway 104 at first. But, in the village of St Peter’s, we change to Route 247. It is a narrow, twisty road marked as the Fleur de Lis Trail. At some point, we went straight ahead when we should have gone to the left. The road got worse and worse. I checked my phone to confirm our location and No Service! Not even one bar! Sh*t. Murray was occupied trying to dodge the many potholes while I tried to figure out what went wrong. The road was too narrow to turn around so we pressed on. Eventually, the gravel logging road we were on joined back up with Route 247 and that road eventually brought us to another village. Yay, we know where we are once more. It is still many more miles to Gararus but we finally arrived, covered with dust, at the home of friends, Meindert and Gail Wolff. We stayed there for three quiet nights, enjoyed the views of the water and the friendly residents.

Murray even got to go out on a local boat and did some jigging for mackerel. Saturday at 2 pm in the Community Centre it was time for Tea and Cookies. Local residents displayed and sold their handicrafts or other items while everyone enjoys the baked goods on offer. Of course, we had to attend and even made a couple of purchases.

But, it was time to pull ourselves away from this lovely spot. We broke camp Sunday morning and headed to a Boondockers Welcome location outside of North Sydney. We planned to leave the motorhome there while we explored the Cape Breton Trail in the Smart car. When we arrived at the address, we soon figured out that it was just not going to work for us. Supposedly, there was room for a 45 ft motorhome and we are smaller than that. It was possible for us to park, on quite a slant, but not possible to get the car unloaded. The decision was made to press on. In fact, we pressed on almost all the way to New Brunswick! That night, we stayed in a Walmart in Amherst NS, parked right beside a No Overnight Parking sign. But, we had asked at Customer Service and they had said, “ Sure, no troubles at all!” There were at least ten or twelve RV’s there overnight.

Another early morning got us on the road by 8 am. On the travel through New Brunswick, a golden eagle landed on a fence post by the roadside! The sunshine gleamed off of his golden head and there was no doubt in my mind as to what I had been privileged to see. With the time change, we arrived in Rivière de Loup at about 3 pm. We parked in a Walmart lot with about 50 other RV of all sizes and shapes. They just kept coming! 

It poured rain all night long but we were dry and warm. I tried to find a gas station for Mur close to Walmart but it ended with us driving through the narrow streets all over the town. Several gas stations were found but none that we could enter and exit with the motorhome. Finally, we gave up and headed for the highway with the plan to stop later. 

Our Boondockers Welcome spot for the night was a lovely farm near St-Télesphore QC. Gary, a huge Great Pyrenees, made us very welcome as long as his wagging tail didn’t knock you over. He was a big beautiful dog! His owner Glen helped us get situated on his grass. Another RV with a family aboard joined us as well. 

I had called our son and indicated plans to stop in Kanata for a visit as we were sort of nearby. He planned to take Thursday off to spend together. So, I got busy and found another Boondockers Welcome site for two days. It was at a beautiful home in Manotick, a suburb of Ottawa, and just about 30 minutes from our family’s home. It was a great visit and worked out well for everyone.

On Friday, we headed out once more, making yet another detour to stop in Orillia to visit my Aunt Barb. After a great but short visit, off we go, trying to beat the Friday night traffic. A quiet night was spent at Georgian Downs, a racetrack and casino with no racing on Friday nights. 

Saturday got us home after dropping the motorhome at the farm. We took time to bring some things with us but had to leave everything in the fridge until the next day as we didn’t have enough cooler bags with us. 

Our 30 day adventure had covered 3271 miles or 5200 km. Only 5 nights had been spent in campgrounds. We enjoyed some live music, time with family and friends and got to see more of our beautiful country. 

It is time to do laundry, catch up with the mail, harvest vegetables from Murray’s overgrown garden and resume normal life. At least for a couple of weeks until it is time to buckle up for another adventure.

That too is Life on the Road

Heather & Murray

Travels with Murray Part 5

Once the latest update was posted to the website, I spread the map of PEI on my lap and we set off. Our site for the night was at another brewery, Moth Lane Brewing. It’s advertising mentions that it is the only brewery with a water view. And we were to stay the night there. 

The roads got smaller and narrower the closer we got to our destination. A sign on the last road said “ No Exit”. I hope we are going the right way as it isn’t easy to turn this beast around. We arrive and pull into the parking lot and head inside to check in. There we are told that we cannot park where we are but need to move into the empty grass lot next door. Somehow, Murray manages to back up the motorhome with the car and trailer still attached. Soon, we are settled into our chosen spot with a water view. There is a lovely cool breeze as well.

We offloaded the car and drove to Tyne Valley to check out the Oyster Festival, only to find out that it happens next week. Oh well, a nice drive through beautiful country. 

Back at the brewery, some other RV’s have joined us. My high school French is used once more to speak to our neighbours. We enjoy a couple of drinks and dinner at the brewery while watching dancing dragonflies by the hundreds. 

The next morning finds us underway once more, heading towards Breadalbane and our Boondockers Welcome hosts for the next two days. Deana and Frank make us very welcome and help us get set up beside their garage. The car is offloaded once more and we head into Charlottetown for dinner with friends from Hickory Hills. Roger and Alice Hogan make us very welcome and give us a tour of their city, while my laundry finishes in their machines. A table is set up on their patio where we enjoy a wonderful lobster dinner. By the time we head out, the sun is setting. Oops, that was a big mistake! The road signs are very small and hard to read with the sun shining in our eyes. And I have no data left on my phone! We miss our turn but, some miles later, find another highway that will get us there. Whew! Later in the trip, I mentioned something about travelling after dark and the woman at the tourist desk said, “ Oh no, you don’t want to be doing that! The road signs are too small and you will get lost!”

In the lovely morning light, we head out on a road trip. First to Kensington, where our host Deana works in an art gallery. Unfortunately, it was closed that morning. But, we did enjoy the Artisans Shop next door. Next stop was a local quilt shop,Sew Blessed. I restrained myself and just purchased a panel to make a bag. I can always use another bag. Cavendish was next on the list and we spent several hours strolling the boardwalk and shopping the little stores. Fish and chips was on the menu for lunch before we headed to North Rustico. Lots of boats and water to entertain us. But, the plan to visit the All-You-Can-Eat seafood buffet had to be abandoned as we were too full yet from lunch. Big mistake on our part! But, we did find a shop selling seafood and Murray bought some mussels, which he later said were the largest ones he had ever eaten. Another thing that we noticed was lots and lots of potato fields all in bloom. Quite a pretty sight! 

It is now August 1st and I have data again! I never actually was without data but would be charged a horrendous overage if I used much. I had tried to upgrade to Unlimited until we got home but was told that 15G was the maximum data that they offered. 

We said our goodbyes to Deana and Frank and headed out once more. This time to Northumberland Provincial Park where we will stay for two nights. On our drive, we notice the vast number of downed trees in the forested areas. It looked as though a giant, playing with Pick-Up Stix, had thrown them down in a fit of pique. Huge trees were lying in crisscross piles, some broken off and some tipped over. Murray explained how dangerous it was to try to cut these trees up. The tree can be bent and under stress and when cut, can spring up into the cutter or the saw. Either possibility can cause serious injury. 

We arrived at the park, checked in and found our site. At least, we thought so. More about that later. It was a full service site and right on the water. Again we had a lovely view.

Offloading the car, we set out to explore. Ohh, a winery! Time for a tasting. We took the wines outside to a picnic table where we sat, sipped and listened to the birds. Nice place but we didn’t care for the wines enough to buy some to drink later. Continuing our exploration, we passed Murray Harbour, Murray River and note several other Murray things on the map. 

We were just pouring cocktails when we heard “Hello, hello! “ It turned out that we were in the wrong campsite and the persons who were supposed to be there had arrived. An agreement was made that they would take the one that we were supposed to be in, just two sites over, and we would move in the morning. This family of four were from Switzerland and were driving a rental RV that they had picked up in Quebec and needed to return to Halifax in another week. 

The next day, we headed to Montague and Georgetown. Both lovely towns on the water. Murray found a shop, Maritime Madness, making and selling hot sauces and they offered a tasting bar. Several of those sauces joined our larder. Montague had a great waterfront park with an Artisan shop and a restaurant. There were many lovey things in the Artisan shop but I managed to restrain myself. We did enjoy another lunch out at a brewery. 

On the way back to the campsite, we decided to checkout the ferry crossing area and the lighthouse. When we parked at the lighthouse, the family parked beside us were returning to the car. The father was wearing a t-shirt that said Kawartha Dairy. Murray said “ You must be from Ontario.” The guy said, “Yes, actually from near Guelph.” I said, “ We used to live near there in Fergus and Elora.” He said, “Well, actually I live in Bellwood.” Upon further discussion,  young man mentioned that he made cheese for local dairy farmers. Murray asked if he knew Shep from Gunn’s’ Hill Cheese. That remark led to finding out that this young man had visited Curries many times. It turns out that Art Dale, whose farm was adjacent to Murray’s fathers farm, was this guy’s grandfather. What a small world! All because of a comment on a t-shirt. 

Tomorrow we will take the 8:30 ferry back to Nova Scotia and need to be there by 7:50. So, early to bed it is tonight. Not that that is much different from the usual. We go to bed with our books and, just a few minutes later, Murray is asleep. Same thing used to happen aboard the boat. No TV, few DVD’s, it is dark – okay, may as well sleep. Easier to join him. Night all! 

That is Life on the Road,

Murray and Heather

Travels with Murray Part 4

After a lazy morning, we pressed on towards Pugwash, Nova Scotia, and our Boondockers Welcome stay for two nights. It was a horse farm without horses now. There was a large field for us to camp in but the entrance was quite narrow. I kept a close watch on the fence post on my side as Murray slipped in as though he was driving the Smart car. We circled the field a time or two and picked out the most level spot that also had some shade. 

After getting set up, we took the car into the village of Pugwash. There we found an ice cream store and an information centre as well as a lovely park. And, yes, we did enjoy some ice cream  quickly before it melted on this very hot day. Back at the farm, we met one of our hosts, Nancy. She soon expanded on the information that we received in town.

The next day, we took the car to Springfield and visited Anne Murray’s Centre. What a great display of her career and many gold records and albums! After a lunch at the pub right across the road, we headed to the Miners Museum, where we learned about the “bump” that caused the mine collapse in 1958. The “bump” was an underground earthquake and 75 miners were killed. Some men were rescued after being trapped for 5 days. In total 100 miners were found alive. There was a mine shaft that we could walk down into at the museum but opted not to do so.

On the way back to Pugwash, Heather spotted a Lobster Pound and Murray got a couple of cold but cooked lobster. We arrived back at the farm to find that another RV had joined us. They were huge, about 45 feet, and were having trouble with their jacks sinking into the soft  ground. Overnight it poured rain and we were concerned whether we could get out of this field. At one point, we slid sideways but managed to get out onto the road. Heading to Prince Edward Island!

At the island end of the Confederation Bridge was a huge welcome centre, with a lot of shops connected. Our spot for the night was right beside the welcome centre at Lone Oak Brewery. As it was early afternoon, we parked and visited the shops, the ice cream spot plus tasted a beer and a cider at the brewery while listening to live music. Murray opted for the excellent clam chowder from the brewery for dinner while I had a chicken Caesar salad. That night, five other RV’s  joined us in the parking lot and it became very difficult for us to get out. In fact, we had to ask the brewery if they could move a truck before we could leave. 

The welcome centre had free wifi so we parked there in the morning and posted an update to the website. The main reason for using the free wifi was that I had run out of data two days ago, on the 27th of July! Now I had to survive until August 1st before my data reset. Time to get the paper maps out as there will be no more Google Maps!

Other than going into data withdrawal, things are going well aboard. But, who knows what the next few days might bring?

That too is Life on the Road

Heather & Murray

Travels with Murray Part 3

Problems started early this morning. As our campsite was full service, we had a sewer access point right beside the motorhome. After travelling for 6 days and having showers, it was time to dump the tanks. So, Murray started that job while I readied the interior. I heard the macerator  start but then abruptly stop.

For those that are not familiar with the term macerator, it is a grinder type of thing that makes poop into poop soup. Then it is easier to dump out through the hose, in theory. But, ours quit. Murray checks the fuses and finds one blown. Fuse changed and all is good again. Tanks are emptied and fresh water filled once more. We are off!

If you have never been to Canso NS, the roads to get there are hilly, twisty and not in great shape. They would be awesome to drive in a sports car but not quite so awesome in this lumbering beast of ours. To add to the thrill, the wind was trying to throw us off the road as well. But, we arrived at the campground in one piece. 

The check-in kiosk is at the tiptop of the highest hill in Canso. But, no one is there. We make our way down the series of hills to Area 2. Now to find our spot. Campsites are marked with stakes with two numbers on the card attached. We are in site 2108. I think I found it but it turns out to be 2103. Just a bit further. Murray walks down the track, checking numbers just as the heavens open up! Pouring rain again. There is only one other unit currently in this field so we have lots of space to make a big circle and get into position. 

We are here! It is raining but I had planned for chilli tonight so no need to barbeque. It is time to mix a drink and relax. No music is scheduled until Thursday evening when Alan Doyle and the Beautiful Beautiful Band are the headliners. We can explore Canso tomorrow. 

And we did. We offloaded the little car and checked out the village. Stopped at the grocery, supported a fundraiser for the medical clinic by buying burgers for lunch, had ice cream at a shop that just opened today and found another new shop selling seafood. When we returned to the campground, the check-in kiosk was open and we got signed in plus tickets for Thursday’s show which was an additional fee. Wow! Lots more units have checked in while we have been away! 

We took a golf cart shuttle to the festival site, bringing my walker and a chair for Murray. Quote The Raven played first, followed by Rum Ragged. They were both excellent Newfoundland bands. Alan Doyle put on a great show and it was the first time we had seen him in concert. 

The shuttle back to the campground scared us a little. He had no lights. When he took off, he said, “ I can see the people but cannot see the potholes. So hang on as it may be rough.” But, I don’t know how he could even see the people. Few had flashlights and the night was very dark with little moonlight. But, we did arrive safely back at our campsite without hitting anyone. 

That experience convinced us to take the little car to the festival grounds and park, using my Accessible pass. And that is what we did from then on. 

The highlights: Saturday’s tribute to Gordon Lightfoot: Sunday’s Singing Stan. New to us groups/singers that we enjoyed: Lisa Richard ( what a voice! );The Hello Darlins; Joe H. Henry; Carl Bond; Susan O’Neill; Steve Macintyre. Old friends enjoyed again: JP Cormier: Dave Gunning; Matthew Byrne. 

The rain continued to plague the concert schedule but most events were moved into the arena. It quickly became crowded and very warm. 

Canso was luckier than many places in Nova Scotia as the rain was not as heavy as forecast. Flooding has taken place in Windsor, Halifax and Lunenburg with 4 persons missing. Many roads are closed and areas evacuated. Our plans had been to travel to Lunenburg area but don’t think that we should go there right now. 

Monday finds us underway again, headed to Pictou area. There, of course, is a lot of road construction happening. In a tight spot, we hit a traffic cone and there was two tremendous crashes. Once we had a chance, we stopped to check the damage. The funny thing was that it hit the step and bent it. The step had given us trouble when we were departing Canso and this crash seems to have “fixed” it. Huh, lucky us? 

I found a campground for two days. We can do laundry, re-stock the larder and explore Pictou. We got checked in, plugged in and turned on the AC. Nothing happens! Except some colourful language from Murray. It is now 92F in the coach. Time to take the little car into town.

Books are out again, AC cover down, fuses checked. WTF! Murray had pulled a wire to stop the furnace from coming on randomly. No idea why it was doing that but we did not need the furnace currently. When he re-installed this wire, the fan worked on AC unit but still no cooling. What could it be? He checked the thermostat and found dead batteries. Replaced those and we have cool air blowing down! 

There is never a dull moment here. But, today we are off again. This time to a Boondockers Welcome site at a horse farm. We have two nights booked there and do not expect that we will have power. It will be very hot but there are beaches nearby. Perhaps we will swim.

Time to get the maps out and plan our next stops. Do we go to PEI now or later? Friends are arriving in Cape Breton soon. Should we head that way? Decisions, decisions. Stay tuned as I am sure that something else is sure to break.

That is Life on the Road,


Travels with Murray Part 2

Waving goodbye to George and Barb, we departed the farm on Friday morning shortly after 9:30. The traffic was heavy through Toronto with some slowdowns. But, we made good time and arrived at our planned stopping point ( a truck stop near Port Hope ) at only 12:30. Since we didn’t want to spend hours in a parking lot, surrounded by trucks, we pressed on. There were no Harvest Hosts or Boondockers Welcome nearby but I found a Walmart in Belleville that had some good reviews.

There we found a spot in the shade and Murray checked over the rig. The passenger trailer rear light had been acting strangely. When he removed it, he found that the outside of the light had been broken and water had intruded at some time in the past. I found a Truck and Trailer Supply place nearby and we offloaded the car. When he installed the new light, he found a light bar under the lip of the trailer that he hadn’t seen before. Another trip to Truck and Trailer Supply and we now have many lights working on the back of the trailer. Dinner time found us walking to a nearby pub. The night was noisy but no one bothered us.

The next day’s drive took us almost to Cornwall. Following gps, we headed for Upper Canada Village. I missed the entrance and we made a u-turn just down the road. There was a nasty noise when we entered that lot but all seemed well. Returning to Upper Canada Village, we found a parking spot and got ready for adventures. Murray checked the rig and discovered that the trailer jack had spun itself down and the bottom had hit the pavement. The jack was badly bent! Using a two inch heavy duty ratchet strap, and a hammer, he managed to get it almost straight again. Then, he used bungee cords to prevent it from spinning down once more.

It was a very hot and humid day and right about noon. But, we will still plan to go into Upper Canada Village. At the ticket booth, we discovered that there was no seniors rate nor was there a half day rate. As I cannot walk much more than an hour, we decided $50 for an hour was just too much. 

Time to head to our Boondockers Welcome spot for the night, with a view of the water. Our lovely hosts welcomed us before leaving to attend a party. Gord loaned Murray some tools to cut off the bottom of the jack tube. It had been worn away due to contact with the pavement. I will attach a photo.

It is now Sunday and time to enter Quebec as our out-of-province health insurance is active. The roads varied from lovely new smooth pavement to atrocious broken s*#t. The motorhome sounded as though it was breaking apart at times. And the rain! Heavy at times to the point that we slowed substantially. At other times, just a light drizzle. But it had no intention of clearing. We followed my phone’s gps to our Harvest Host spot for the night at a winery. But, I missed the corner and we had to make another u-turn. Eventually, we found the correct spot and carefully made our way up their driveway. On either side of said narrow driveway was very deep ditches! We parked and checked in. After a wine tasting and some shopping, we relaxed, ate dinner, watched the rain and crashed into bed. 

Our thirsty beast need fuel before we could even head for the freeway. The nearby gas station was a nightmare with heavy customer traffic ( 2 truck and trailer rv’s plus us plus regular cars), a tight parking lot and a Tim Horton’s as well.  But, we managed and Murray handles this thing like a race car. 

On through Quebec and into New Brunswick, the miles clicked off beneath our tires. Arrived in Woodstock NB mid afternoon and stopped at Canadian Tire to purchase a new trailer jack. The old one just keeps winding down and impacting the pavement. Not a good thing. Not far from Woodstock was our spot for the night. Strawberry Fields Farm is another Harvest Host location and Tim guides us through a muddy lane to our parking place. He told us to pick any ripe strawberries that we found. The recent rains had ended their harvest. A truck and fifth wheel trailer with three persons aboard joined us for the evening. It was lovely to sit out and listen to the birds while watching the sunset.

Now, we only have one more day before we arrive in Canso for the Stan Rogers Folk Festival. I suggested that I find a campground near Amherst NS where we can get water, dump waste and do laundry. Loch Lomond Campground was near the highway and we got a drive through spot for $49. After research, it was determined that liquor was cheaper in New Brunswick so a stop was planned at the last town before Nova Scotia. Even with that stop, we arrived at the campground by 1:30. Lots of time for me to do laundry and for Murray to remove the old jack. 

But, of course, our issues are not over. The refrigerator keeps failing when on gas but nothing has thawed out yet. The slide is making groaning noises sometimes. And tomorrow is a new day. Who knows might crop up? I can almost guarantee that there will be something. That is what travelling in a motorhome is like. When you take your house and drive it down the rough roads, all sorts of things go wrong. 

That is Life on the Road!


Heather & Murray

Damaged trailer jack on left, new one on right.

Travels with Murray Part 1

It was a bit of a rush job but we got there. The motorhome came back to our home in Tillsonburg  on Tuesday, July 11th, in the afternoon after being a cottage for family in the Port Burwell Provincial Park for a week. Final laundry done, clothes packed. If this enough? Okay add these shorts and another shirt or two. Empty the big frig in the house into the small one in the motorhome, plus freezer stuff. Better bring the cheque book. Pull the garlic plants, pick peppers and rhubarb. Grab some books both print ones and digital. Double check the list. Triple check the list. I think that we are ready! We left our house on Thursday afternoon! 

That day we went all of 50 km! All the way to the farm. And it was a good thing because we found the first of our soon-to-be many issues. The new radio was showing the cameras when right or left signal was on or if the motorhome was in reverse. But, not today. No picture, no how. I spent quite a while on the phone with JVC tech service who decided that the VS-41 switcher, that we had installed to make the cameras work with the new radio, had failed. They would replace it on warranty but it would take 4-5 days. And we leave tomorrow! 

So, Murray again pulled the radio out of the dash and, after some poking around, we discovered a disconnected power wire. Eureka! Re-connected and cameras work! 

After some stress-relieving liquids and a lovely dinner provided by Barb and George,  we collapsed into our bunk, ready for tomorrow’s departure.

What could possibly go wrong next you might ask yourself? Stay tuned for the next episode. 

Hugs from

Heather & Murray

Pacific Adventures

December 5th, 2018


Well, these two old adventurers went on an amazing adventure this fall! We sailed from Seattle WA on Explorer of the Seas on a 22-day crossing of the Pacific. During the voyage, we visited Honolulu, Maui, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia before landing in Sydney, Australia. One day was spent in Sydney before we boarded Radiance of the Seas for a 9-day voyage around the south island of New Zealand, returning to Sydney. Three days were spent in Sydney before we took our rental camper on an 8-day drive down the coast from Sydney to Melbourne. Then, we flew from Melbourne to Honolulu where we spent 3 days in an effort to re-set our internal clocks. From Honolulu, we flew to Toronto and then were driven home.


Wow! Even just reading that paragraph, I am aghast that we did all of that in 7 weeks.


On both ships, we took an interior stateroom on the 8th deck, at approximately mid-ship and away from the elevators. This was due to welcome advice from seasoned cruisers. Our room steward on the first cruise was a great young man who couldn’t do enough for us but on the second cruise, we hardly saw our steward and didn’t get to know him as well.


As you can imagine, there were many sea days on both of these cruises. But, we played trivia in the mornings and took watercolour painting classes as well, whenever possible. We joined our tablemates for mini-golf and shuffleboard as well as evenings of card games. But, of course, we were used to days of boredom on our own boat. There was much more entertainment aboard ship even if you just sat and people-watched.


But, we did stop at several tropical islands and enjoyed seeing different cultures and customs. In Fiji, we saw firewalkers that walked slowly across large rocks that had been heated in the coals of a fire. There also was a man who twirled a baton with fire on both ends. He managed to set his skirt on fire during the act, unlikely that it was on purpose. Then we visited a village where Murray, as the chief of our bus ( or victim in other words ), was given kava to drink. Kava is a bitter beverage made from pounded roots and often is used in ceremonies on these islands.


In Vita, in Vanuatu, we took a bus into town and visited the local farmers market. What a market that was! Some vegetables that I recognized but many that I did not. Out front, there was a young woman selling the most gorgeous flowers. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to bring any plant material or vegetables back aboard the ship.


The next stop was Mystery Island, also in Vanuatu, which was a beach only. The weather didn’t co-operate and it rained off and on all day. Murray and I managed to swim and snorkel for a while before the cool weather chased us out of the water.


New Caledonia was the next island on the route. It is a French protectorate and very tidy and clean. We took a tour and travelled past some interesting shops, restaurants and beaches. Friends took a cab to a beach and spent the afternoon but sitting on a beach or lying in the sun is not something we do. Walking on a beach, looking for shells, or snorkelling off of a beach – all things we like to do but to lie and bake in the sun – No Thanks!


After New Caledonia, we were again making a long passage, to Sydney Australia. The arrival was very well organized and we were amazed how quickly we were dis-embarked and cleared through Customs. Immigration had come aboard a few days earlier to expedite the clearance procedure. We took a cab to our hostel and arrived before they were open. Luckily, within an hour, someone came and gave us access to one of the rooms. As we were travelling with another couple, we had two rooms booked. They left their gear in our room and set off to the Opera House to see Evita. We couldn’t justify the $300 per ticket. But, we walked to the harbourfront and took a water taxi tour that lasted about 2 hours. After that, we toured the Maritime Museum before heading back to the hostel.


The next day, we boarded Radiance of the Seas for our voyage around the south island of New Zealand. This trip took 9 days and we visited 3 of the sounds or fiords and then made stops in 3 cities. In Dunedin, we had arranged an eco-tour, which was very informative and enjoyable. There were only 18 of us on the small bus and the driver/tour guide was able to navigate that bus into some off-the-beaten-track spots. In Wellington, we walked around the city, visited the museum and took a ride on the incline trolley. In Picton, we had signed up for a tour to a Maori village. It was an enjoyable experience and well worth the cost. After, Picton, we headed back across the Tasman Sea and had a very rough crossing. Many people were ill but Murray and I weathered it just fine. We did opt to eat in the dining room as I wasn’t sure that I could safely get a plate of food back to our table at the buffet.


Back in Sydney, we returned to the hostel for another three nights. During that time, we had a tour to the Blue Mountains and spent a day walking through the Fish Market and Sydney Aquarium. On the first day, we had gone on an unfruitful search for a coin laundry nearby. Google maps seemed to show several but, as we lugged the laundry all over town, we discovered that all had been changed into places where you dropped your laundry and they washed and folded it. So, back to the hostel, dragging the laundry, we went and used the washer/dryer in the basement there when it became available.


On November 9th, we picked up a camper rental from Jucy. It was really a mini van with a few extra amenities. A structure behind the front seats folded down and, with cushions in place, joined the back seat to create a bed. But there was no floor space left, just the running board by the door. When you opened the tailgate, there was a plug-in cooler, a single burner stove, a storage area with plates, cups, silverware etc, and a small sink. This was our home for 8 days. Luckily, we had negotiated for folding table and chairs. Otherwise, there would have been no place to sit once the luggage was place on the front seats so the bed could be extended.


We left the rental yard and proceeded carefully, on the left side of the road ( wrong side to us ), to a nearby grocery for necessities of life – beer, wine, bread, cheese, eggs etc. Sydney is a huge city but eventually we made our way out into the country and found the coastal road that we were planning to travel.


Each night, we found a campground using an app, WikiCamps, recommended by friends who had made a similar trip. I had purchased SIM cards and set up my iPhone as well as our travel companions with data and calling. This allowed us to stay in touch easily and to use mapping programs as we travelled.


The weather stayed lovely with warm days and cool nights. Some of the highlights of our week – beautiful long beaches, kangaroos jumping in fields, koalas seen in the wild on Raymond Island, flocks of cockatoos flying at dusk, bellbirds calling with their ‘ding’, rainbow lorikeets! Plus a sighting of a humpback whale leaping out of the water time after time.


Eventually, it was time to leave Australia and start our journey home. We had booked flights to Honolulu through Cheap-O Air and were slightly concerned as to how things might go. But, the flight was full, the cabin crew were attentive and all went well.


The hostel in Honolulu was one block from Waikiki Beach! The manager was excellent and led us down the road to our rooms – a studio apartment in another building. We had a full kitchen and bath with two queen beds. The one bed was set up in the kitchen but that worked just fine. We shared this space with our friends but each couple went their own way in the daytime.


On November 19tht, we departed Hawaii and landed in Toronto on the 20th. Awesome friends met us at the airport and drove us home where we crumpled into our own bed.


This was an adventure to be remembered for many years to come. If you are nearby, we can bore you with the slideshow.


Hugs from

Heather & Murray




Visits By Friends and With Friends

On March 3rd, our friend, Linda, met up with us at the Newport City Park. It was great to see her and the wine was quickly opened and poured out. But, the bugs ( no seeums ) were eating Murray! So, the decision was made to move on the next day after some exploring of the local area and indulging in some seafood. In Panacea, we stopped for lunch at Mad Anthony’s Seafood and it was excellent!

As Linda was driving back to Ontario soon, we headed further north towards the Florida/Georgia border and found a campsite at Three Rivers State Park. It was a very nice campground right on the water with a fishing pier that Murray put to use. The weather apps showed a storm system blowing in and Linda cut her visit short in order to make it back to London ahead of the rain and snow.

We enjoyed another couple of days here and  then headed east, finding a site at Ocean Pond, a campground in the Osceola National Forest. What a lovely place! We found a site right on the water and enjoyed our stay very much. In fact, we stayed for a week. The cost – $12 per night without electricity. But, the nights were still very cold and with no power, our cabin morning temperatures hovered around 47F. Robin & Jane Hewson, in their new Airstream trailer, joined us here for a few days. They found it difficult living without electricity as their unit did not have a generator to recharge the house batteries. After a few days, they moved on to a campground with power.

We had ordered a part and had it delivered to Reynolds Yacht Center in Green Cove Springs. It had been at the marina for several days but the tracking showed it still in transit! Time to pack up and head to Green Cove. It was a lovely drive through the National Forest on country roads and we made good time. We got the part and headed back only to find our campsite gone. After locating a camp host, we were put in an empty camp host site for the night. The great thing was that it came with electricity! We enjoyed the heat very much.

Now that we had the part, we headed back towards the west and stopped at Eastbank Corps of Engineers ( COE ) Park. They had a site available for 4 nights with electric for $24 per night. Not too bad. Again, a very nice park right on Lake Seminole. Murray installed the new convertor/charger and discovered that the one he took out was made by the same company. After contacting the company, we found out that the one we replaced was actually a higher amperage charger than the new one that we purchased. It just didn’t seem to put out enough power. Murray investigated further and found that you needed to push a button on the face of the unit to make it charge more efficiently. If we had found some instructions with the unit, it might have saved us a few dollars and several ruined batteries! The new part that we ordered came with two remote controls ( by error ) and that remote will also work with the old convertor/charger. So, we have a good working unit to sell.

After a few days at Eastbank, we move on to another COE park, River Junction. This was a great spot! Nicely treed, water views, quieter and cheaper at $20 per night! What more could you ask for? Robin & Jane caught up with us again here and we started to make plans to turn towards home.

By March 22nd, we were on the road, heading north. We had opted to travel through Alabama and Tennessee. I located another COE park, Gunter Hill, just east of Montgomery and not far off of the highway. This was an older park and the sites were quite small in our section. But the washrooms and showers were good.

Not far from the park was a pecan shop with all sorts of tempting treats that beckoned to us. Mmmm! The candied pecans were wonderful and didn’t last very long. We couldn’t dally too long though and hit the road again. This night, we stopped at a private campground, Texas T, near Lynnville TN.

As planned, we were here for two nights as we couldn’t get a site in Nashville until Sunday. But, we made good use of our time here. Both Jane and I managed to get laundry done. Murray and I toured a bourbon distillery, Tenn South, and had a bourbon tasting. Rather Murray had a double bourbon tasting, as I just had a sip and passed them on to him!

The town of Lynnville kept our interest for many hours with railway exhibits, a diner with fried pies ( delicious! ) and some lovely shops.

We left early the next morning and arrived at our campground, Two Rivers Camp, in Nashville in the late morning. Once we were set up in our sites, we grabbed the shuttle and headed downtown. What an enjoyable afternoon! Live music at most bars, a beer here and there and wandering in and out of the shops. We had a nice dinner at B.B.Kings Blues Bar and very much enjoyed the music there.

The next day, we had tickets for the tour bus that picked us up at 9 am. We travelled the whole route and enjoyed the sights. Lunch time found us at Martin’s BBQ for another great meal. The line to get in was over a block long by the time we left! Our timing was just right.

We spent the next few hours at the Country Music Hall of Fame. It was very crowded with busloads of teens and we didn’t enjoy it as much as we might have. We tried to find some more live music but most didn’t start until the evening. By now, I was tired out and we opted to return to the campground by shuttle. We did a few jobs on the camper and prepared for an early departure the next morning.

I had contacted some old friends, Joe and Patti Janas, who lived sort of near our route, in La Porte, IN . We hadn’t seen them for about 35 years and had a great visit. From their home, we made the crossing into Canada at Detroit/Windsor and were home in Tillsonburg by 5 pm.

About 5000 miles travelled with gas mileage of 17.9 mpg. I haven’t added up all of the camping costs but we did live quite frugally.

A different adventure for these sailors but we saw new places, met some friendly people and avoided the snow.

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

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